MT VOID 04/11/97 (Vol. 15, Number 41)

MT VOID 04/11/97 (Vol. 15, Number 41)

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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
Club Notice - 04/11/97 -- Vol. 15, No. 41

Table of Contents

Outside events: The Science Fiction Association of Bergen County meets on the second Saturday of every month in Upper Saddle River; call 201-933-2724 for details. The New Jersey Science Fiction Society meets on the third Saturday of every month in Belleville; call 201-432-5965 for details.

MT Chair/Librarian:
              Mark Leeper   MT 3E-433  908-957-5619
HO Chair:     John Jetzt    MT 2E-530  908-957-5087
HO Librarian: Nick Sauer    HO 4F-427  908-949-7076
Distinguished Heinlein Apologist:
              Rob Mitchell  MT 2D-536  908-957-6330
Factotum:     Evelyn Leeper MT 3E-433  908-957-2070
Backissues available at
All material copyright by author unless otherwise noted.

URL of the week:

URL of the week: NASA's official site for information and pictures from the Galaileo mission. [-ecl]


Evelyn and I do a lot of traveling to other countries. Why? Well, as I explain to people, any place you have not seen by the time you die, you will never get another chance. There are huge differences in counties, of course. We all know that but we really do not think very much about the implications. There are very different modes of thinking and they really shape countries in very different ways. Every place you have not been is a mode of thinking you have not explored. Now I am not going to take on this mode of thinking, but I want to appreciate the situation and to understand it a little better, not so much to adopt it, but to understand what the human race is capable of. You want to feel you have at least explored as much as possible of the capabilities of the human race. And I am puzzled that other people do not have this as a high priority. It is the same puzzlement I would have if I got into a friend's car and saw a bunch of buttons in one section of the dashboard. When I asked what they were for I get the answer "You know, I never have tried pushing them. I have no idea what they do." It may be that they don't do anything you would ever want to do, but they are sitting there staring you in the face and I think most of us would have the curiosity to either get out the instruction book or even more likely just push the buttons to see what happens. Even at the cost of not liking what happens. But how many of us go to a place like the Dominican Republic? There they really have a different mode of thinking. They take their religion really seriously.

I guess that my dominant memory of the Dominican Republic is how high a priority they put on building The Lighthouse. The Lighthouse is a huge Cathedral that is in the shape of a cross, as many are. But this one is a huge beacon on top that shines a projection of a cross on the sky. They had to clear away houses of the poor to build this place and when they turn it on it sucks up most of the electricity in the neighborhood. Lights go dim, TVs lose their picture. In a country that has a great deal of poverty, this was what they decided was a worthwhile investment. Why? Well I suppose it has some value as a tourist attraction, but one cannot help feeling that it is also in large part that these are very religious people and they are trying to impress God at the degree of sacrifice they are willing to put up with just to glorify Him by shining a cross on the sky. Well, religious people have always in their own way been into showmanship. Why do churches have steeples? It is a nearly useless appendage, but I think the idea was at one point it made the church the tallest building in town. It is sort of like a short woman wearing a tall bouffant hairdo to make herself seem taller. Of course these days in a lot of cities a church cannot hope to compete with the other buildings around because you would have to make a five story church to compete with the office building next door. But in the Santo Domingo they have that problem licked. They have a cross up there taller and higher than any office building anybody is ever going to build. They have a cross up there on the sky. You could transport the World Trade Center to Santo Domingo, even double its height, and the cross would still be higher. I guess that is REAL DEVOTION. But you have to be there and see it to really get an idea of the magnitude of what they did. It is a very different mode of thinking to make something like that a high priority. It is a big investment in an appeal to God to help the Dominican Republic, and clearly the country needs God's help.

Sorry, I got a little carried away in what was essentially a digression. What really inspired this comment was not the Dominican Republic, but France. People who travel a lot seem to go to France early on. You know the Right Bank, the Left Bank, the Eiffel Tower, all those Gene Kelley places. At least that was how it was at one time. Personally I think I would like to see France at some time, but I am holding off on it until I am a little more old and tired. After all France is a modern civilized country. In some senses that makes it easy to visit. Trekking across Malaysia takes a little more out of you and I want to do that while I can. Hold off on France. But I have to admit that part of my feeling is about France's reputation for treating visitors in a less than friendly manner. In fairness, while France has this reputation, I am told that it is really only Paris that is like that. The French countryside is a lot friendlier. But in the city people are known for their rudeness, to the extent that even the French government is broadcasting messages asking people not to be so rude to visitors. Now that campaign has spread to the United States. There are a series of ads with testimonials by celebrities saying how much they like France. These are people like Ray Charles and Woody Allen who are willing to stand up, take a few dollars, and tell the world that they got treated well in France. Doesn't this seem like a waste of money? Woody Allen is an international film star. He is probably instantly recognizable to 98% of the people in France. Is there anybody surprised that he gets treated well by the French? What I want to know is how well will I be treated? [-mrl]


(a film review by Mark R. Leeper):

Capsule: This film tells the story of a divorce custody battle for a boy who is being brutalized by somebody, but who refuses to say by whom. Complicating matters is the fact that the father is gay and after the separation has taken a male lover. HOLLOW REED was modestly produced for Britain's Channel 4, but is better than most studio productions from this country. Rating: low +2 (-4 to +4)

Some very fine films get made for British television and only few of them ever get seen in the United States. HOLLOW REED tells the moving story of a custody battle between two divorced parents. It also subtly comments on the advantages that a woman has in the British legal system. As the film opens Martyn and Hannah Wyatt (played by Martin Donovan and Joely Richardson) have been married, had a child, and been divorced and each now lives with a lover-- both male. Martyn, a doctor, has nominally accepted fault for a marriage he suspected from the beginning could not work because he simply could not make himself sufficiently interested in a woman. Though he practices medicine, he lives in a rather tatty apartment with his lover Tom Dixon (Ian Hart). In the divorce Hannah received the rather upscale house and at least temporary custody of young Oliver, their son. To reaffirm her attraction to men she lives with Frank Donally (Jason Flemyng), a macho construction worker, the antithesis of Martyn. As the film opens Oliver has been badly beaten and comes to his father's apartment. Oliver remains mysterious about the boys he claimed did the beating, but since nobody can find any more about the incident it is allowed to pass. When Oliver shows up at school with a crushed hand and this time obviously lies about how he got the injury Martyn begins to suspect that his son has fallen victim to being systematically brutalized by Frank. Hannah denies that as a possibility and Martyn realizes his only chance to protect his son lies in trying to win Oliver in a custody battle. But that makes for a doubly up-hill battle being gay and a man in a country that systematically shows preference to the mother in custody battles.

The audience eventually knows who attacks Oliver though it takes the characters a good deal longer to piece it all together. Meanwhile Oliver remains a cipher. He ingenuously devises complex ways to escape from his house and to spy on his parents, apparently planning some counter-attack of his own. But in the presence of adults he remains withdrawn and nearly silent, only coming out of his shell to show enthusiasm for STAR WARS toys and radio broadcasts. Just why he behaves as he does forms the central mystery of HOLLOW REED. He clearly misses having both his parents present, but Hannah fills herself with hostility for her former husband and now even jumps at his touch. At the same time she reaches out for the stable relationship she thought she had and later lost in her marriage to Martyn. The screenplay is by Paula Milne based on a story by Neville Bolt, itself based on a true story.

Angela Pope directs the film in a generally low-key style. That seems for the best since her one flamboyant touch is to send the camera orbiting around the major characters in the climactic scene of the film, a touch which may have some symbolic meaning but it gets lost on the viewer as much as the unexplained title of the film. Top billing goes to Martin Donovan of THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY as the concerned father. He and Ian Hart have a steamy gay love scene that brought gasps from the audience. Joely Richardson has less passion in her role in spite of character's professed disappointment with Martyn as a husband. She went on to be the second female lead in 101 DALMATIANS. Most familiar to American audiences will be Edward Hardwicke as a chief magistrate but who may be best known as Watson to Jeremy Brett's Sherlock Holmes.

The land of Shakespeare and Marlowe still has its share of good writers still prizes writing as part of a basic education and much of what they give away free on television is better than what we pay for here. I give HOLLOW REED a low +2 on the -4 to +4 scale. [-mrl]

                                   Mark Leeper
                                   MT 3E-433 908-957-5619