MT VOID 07/03/98 (Vol. 17, Number 1)

MT VOID 07/03/98 (Vol. 17, Number 1)

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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
Club Notice - 07/03/98 -- Vol. 17, No. 1

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 201-447-3652 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  732-957-5619
HO Chair:     John Jetzt    MT 2E-530  732-957-5087
HO Librarian: Nick Sauer    HO 4F-427  732-949-7076
Distinguished Heinlein Apologist:
       Rob Mitchell  MT 2E-537  732-957-6330
Factotum:     Evelyn Leeper MT 3E-433  732-957-2070
Back issues at
All material copyright by author unless otherwise noted.

URLs of the week: and As proof that science fiction conventions have gotten out of control, there are now *two* conventions named Albacon. Rumor (or rumour) has it that membership in one gets you a compliementary membership in the other, but I have not verified that. [-ecl]

Bigotry: Suppose the bumper sticker had said, "Cultivate your own dope. Plant a Black man." I think people would have been a little shocked. Our society has supposedly progressed beyond the point where people feel comfortable insulting an entire race or ethnic group. It just is not done. You just don't say things like that. It is not funny, and it shows just a mind of questionable intellect. In fact such a bumper sticker would be an open invitation for a smashed windshield.

But that is not what it said. Actually what it said was "Cultivate your own dope. Plant a man."

It takes a certain kind of person to enjoy a joke like that. But once you are that kind of person whether the joke is about Irish or men or women or Blacks or Arabs or Jews is purely a matter of taste. Still somehow that is supposed to be different. Somehow insulting men has come to be acceptable.

Now I wrote the first part of this editorial something like January of this year and never wrote more. Why? Because I knew it was going to be unpopular with friends. My best examples come from people I actually like. Also it has happened when I complain about what I consider to be the excesses of feminism, I have gotten angry phone calls from women telling me to remove their names from our mailing list. Apparently they were quite upset that anyone would even publish a point of view varying from theirs. That's fine. Anyone who wants to be taken off the list can be. What sparked my coming back to the subject was John Leo's editorial in the May 11, 1998, US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT, which said almost precisely the same thing I had been planning to say.

Years ago I made a sort of joke myself. I said that if you want to make a joke like ethnic humor, but did not want to offend people, tell "bigot" jokes. You know. "There were two bigots working on a house and one was throwing away half the nails...." You probably know the rest of that joke. But the idea is that nobody runs in and defends bigots. Well apparently in our society men are so conditioned not to stand up for themselves that we are having a flood of anti-male humor and nobody is bothering to point out what bigotry it really is.

It has become so acceptable to tell anti-male hate jokes that close friends and family participate in it openly. These I might add are women who are active in diversity work. (None is Evelyn, by the way.) One told me that men suffer from "testosterone poisoning," and then was surprised I did not think it was funny. If she had openly talked about a black person whose behavior was due to "melanin poisoning" she would not be around the company for long I think. Another circulated a page of jokes with a section of anti- male jokes. A third has tacked on her refrigerator "a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle." AT&T and Lucent make an effort to have a comfortable and diverse work environment. I would bet that these women think of themselves as being part of the solution and would not like the suggestion that they are actually part of the problem in that effort.

The company itself fosters programs that have told participants that there is no such thing as reverse bigotry. The assumption is that women cannot be sexist, blacks cannot be racist, etc. And ketchup is a vegetable. In fact the protected groups usually harbor the worst offenders. In my circles at work the most racist comments I have heard have come from a black man; the most sexist comments I have heard have all come from women; and for that matter the worst profanity has also come from women. And the reason is probably the same in all three cases. It is in each case the person has been convinced by company sponsored programs that no apology is expected from them. They cannot even be accused of bad behavior. We are told to think of them only as the victims, never the prepetrators.

Outside of work the hypocrisy is even stronger. I have seen in the so-called "humor" sections of bookstores books advocating that women "abolish" men. I have never seen the symmetric opposite. I believe in Northampton, Massachusetts, a town I frequently visit, there is a bookstore whose open policy is to exclude all male authors. I have never seen a bookstore whose open policy is to exclude all female authors. There are also publishers with the same policy of excluding male authors.

The person who says "this was done to my group, nobody should do it to anybody again," is interested in ending injustice. The person who says "this was done to my group, we should be able to do it to others," is interested only in power. My mindset is not to give respect until I get it. The women who male-bash in the name of humor are bigots, pure and simple. But the fact that they are not just tolerated but actually encouraged by feminists reveals a great deal about the whole Women's Movement. [-mrl]

OUT OF SIGHT (a film review by Mark R. Leeper):

Capsule: An escaped bank robber heads for a big score while being chased by a female federal marshal, each of whom really wants to know the other better. Hunter and quarry are romantically entangled, but are they going to let romanticism get in the way of their professional interests? Steven Soderbergh balances light and dark elements of this sometimes comic, sometimes violent adaptation of the Elmore Leonard novel. Rating: 6 (0 to 10), high +1 (-4 to +4)

This is the season for "good guy" bank robbers. Earlier this year we had THE NEWTON BOYS about the most successful bank robbers in American history, but who remained nice guys through it all. Perhaps inspired by them is Jack Foley (George Clooney) who has robbed more than 200 banks without anyone ever being hurt. That record is almost believable as the film opens with Foley using his charm and a clever plot to rob one more bank. This time his luck is against him and he is caught and thrown into prison. Nor do the breaks come his way when he tries to escape from prison. Just as he has tunneled out, gun-loving federal marshal Karen Sisco (Jennifer Lopez) is there by chance. Foley and company have to take shotgun from her and kidnap her, throwing her in the same trunk in which Foley will hide. Even under the circumstances there is chemistry between them, and even after she escapes, each continues to think about the other. This could be bad for either of them since professionally they are opponents.

George Clooney is sort of a bland actor who floats along on his good looks. I have yet to see him show anything akin to emotional intensity in a role. And because his characters are not stressed, we never see what they are made of. That gives him a nice sturdy screen persona, but it is not going to win him any acting awards. Clooney glides through Jack Foley effortlessly and leaving behind little memorable but his smile. Jennifer Lopez's Karen Sisco is only a little more interesting. She is more of a prime mover in the story, but as is much to frequently the case in 90s popular films, the main characters more have to look good than to create memorable characters. More interesting roles went to Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle, Albert Brooks, and especially Dennis Farina. Watch for two major actors who have cameo roles.

Scott Frank's screenplay is deliberately non-linear and a little confusing, jumping without warning into or out of flashbacks. Perhaps this is even a good thing since the story itself is fairly straightforward. The solution to the puzzle may be simple, but there is enough spin on the ball when the story is told to make the viewer feel good when the pieces fit together. When the film starts we have several seemingly disconnected strands of plot with different characters, but the strands are quickly brought together. Some of the photographic touches are a little obvious. Scenes that take place under the warm Florida sun are shot with bright colors, but scenes that take place in Detroit are shot mostly with a blue filter to give them a sort of run-down look. The dialog is humorous, but a little more down-to-earth than Quentin Tarantino might offer. But then Elmore Leonard has his own strange touch when it come to dialog. There is little actual sex in the film that the audience sees--two characters undress in front of each other, but we see little we could not see on the beach. The conclusion of the film, on the other hand, is fairly gory and we do see the blood.

OUT OF SIGHT is not one of the great crime films, but it is entertainment with a little challenge to the audience. It does not push the outside of the envelope, but it gets its job done. I give it a 6 on the 0 to 10 scale and a high +1 on the -4 to +4 scale. [-mrl]

                                   Mark Leeper
                                   MT 3E-433 732-957-5619

Quote of the Week:

     The world is divided in two categories:
     failures and unknowns.
                                   -- Franco Picabia