MT VOID 02/23/01 (Vol. 19, Number 34)

MT VOID 02/23/01 (Vol. 19, Number 34)

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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
Club Notice - 02/23/01 -- Vol. 19, No. 34

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.

Chair/Librarian: Mark Leeper, 732-817-5619,
Factotum: Evelyn Leeper, 732-332-6218,
Distinguished Heinlein Apologist: Rob Mitchell,
HO Chair Emeritus: John Jetzt,
HO Librarian Emeritus: Nick Sauer,
Back issues at
All material copyright by author unless otherwise noted.

Sleep Apnea:

Last week I was being prepared for a sleep study. I had brought to the hospital my pillow, a Walkman, a book, and lots of other good things in my overstuffed suitcase. A technician I will call Sandy was about to start gluing electrical leads to my head. The story picks up from there.

Sandy then started attaching the leads to my head using glue and something called "collodion." In the morning all the glue would wash out with warm water or nail polish remover. I wonder if we have any nail polish remover? I had heard of collodion as something that film makeup men use to attach monster makeup. As I sat there and she administered electrode I could smell the adhesives in fumes going up my nose. The process took about ten minutes. Boris Karloff would literally go through a process like this for eight hours before shooting could start for some of his better makeup like THE MUMMY. After ten minutes I had had my fill of it. That is what Boris got paid for.

I was taken back to my room with Sandy holding up my "pony tail" of wires. I was installed in the bed and shown how to use the TV. This happened about 10 PM and I was told that 11 PM it was "lights out." Walkman, book, pillow? They all stayed in my suitcase. I used their cushion rather than my pillow. The lights were actually out already so I would not be able read, I would just turn off the TV at 11 PM.

At home I watch almost no commercial TV so had no idea what was on. I settled for a program called "Gideon's Crossing." Actually, I was rather pleased with the choice. Years ago I read some of the books by Berton Roueche, collections of articles he wrote for the New Yorker. These were true stories of medical detection. The sort of thing was that one day eleven different men checked into the same hospital, all of them with faces turning blue. Whatever was causing the problem, it had to be stopped before it claimed more people. But how to you find out the who, what, why, where, and when of something like this when you have only the victims as your clues? "Gideon's Crossing" had the same sort of story. Nine people in the hospital were struck with sepsis. The characters had to figure out what was causing it and stop it. It was actually quite interesting. The only thing: I was watching it in a hospital. It was sort of like seeing THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY on an airline flight.

At 11 PM it was TV off. Then the wait for sleep. I could not move around much because of the wires connected to me. I waited and waited. Maybe I dozed off a little, but not very much. I think I looked at my watch about midnight. Maybe again about 12:30 AM. I must have actually fallen asleep about 1 AM. At 2 AM there was a knock at the door. Time for the CPAP. This would be no Emmett Kelly nose. It was more like a World War II bomber pilot air mask. It fit over most of my head with straps and had an inch-wide hose to my nose. I was supposed to breathe though my nose and not my mouth. This was hard because I generally breathe through my mouth. It helped a little that my lips were now dry and a little sticky so I could let them just seal. I became aware of every breath. The CPAP amplifies the sound of each breath for the user. In addition, the forced air burns the inside of the nose a little. Again it took a while to get to sleep. But I must have since another knock at the door came at about 4:30 AM. The study was over.

I asked what the results were and was told just that the CPAP cut down on my snoring. Of course, it kept me awake and that by itself would have cut down on my snoring. It took about another ten minutes to take the wires off my face and to get the glue and collodion out of my hair. The nail polish remover did not smell very good and again the fumes went up my nose. And that was pretty much it. I got dressed and Sandy told me how to get back outside. I left the hospital about 5 AM. It was still very dark out in the middle of winter, but the fog had disappeared during the night. I drove home, surprised to see as many cars on the road as there were. At home I left my suitcase in the den and went to bed, though I would not sleep until that night. [-mrl]

CHOCOLAT (a film review by Mark R. Leeper):

Capsule: To a straight-laced French village comes a woman with the message that life is to be enjoyed and not simply endured. The woman opens a chocolate shop and sows the seeds of a belief in human potential laced with a little self-indulgence. With five Academy Award nominations, this American film set in France is more a parable than a realistic story and it is a theme that director Lasse Hallstrom has visited before. But the film is itself, like the chocolates it shows, a pleasure. Rating: 7 (0 to 10), low +2 (-4 to +4)

Lasse Hallstrom's new film is a parable about believing in oneself and even more on getting a little joy from life. It is a contrived story in which the good guys are a little too good and the bad guys are obvious. But its message is disarming and sweetened with tempting visions of chocolate that seduce the viewer. But it is getting a following in a time when so many of the popular films are pushing nihilism and showing violence.

In a little French village life is painted like the village itself in tones of brown and gray. Everyone knows his place and knows exactly what is expected of him. Those who forget their responsibilities are quickly reminded. Pleasure is for the most part to be deferred for the next life. Instead life is piety and submission. But in 1959, as Lent is approaching, a mysterious woman Vianne (Juliette Binoche) arrives in town with her daughter and in the shadow of the church at the beginning of Lent sets up a chocolate shop. Vianne is immediately countered by the forces of convention and of self-denial. These forces are marshalled and lead by the town's mayor the Comte de Reynard (fine comic actor Alfred Molina). Slyly Reynard affirms his number-one position by turning the townspeople against Vianne and the change she is bringing. He and Vianne are poles apart and the little French town is figuratively and nearly literally not big enough for the two of them.

At the same time some who are lower in the town's pecking order are giving in to the temptations of self-indulgence and even breaking from their established places. The respectable people of the town side with the mayor, but the marginal people, those who normally get swept aside, become friends with Vianne and find they enjoy her sweet chocolate and her easy friendship. For those in the middle, between the mayor and Vianne, there is the constant temptation of all that chocolate. One of the women who joins the circle of friends is Josephine Muscat (Lina Olin) whose brutish husband Serge (Peter Stormare, who played the quiet killer in FARGO) owns the local saloon and beats Josephine when he is drunk. Another of Vianne's circle is an old woman, Armande Voizin (Judi Dench), nearly disowned by her family.

While CHOCOLAT is not ultimately negative on religion, the alliance between the young priest and the mayor is looked on as one of the negative forces in the town. Too often the local priest takes a cold and unfriendly stance. The pleasures of chocolate are said to be evil. A dog, we are told, has no soul. But the rules of Lent still apply to the dog. The historic town hero is remembered for having turned out the Huguenots. In the end the film is a little pat, even for the parable that it is. The ending is a little contrived and not quite believable.

There seem to be two major themes in the photography (at least). One is the color in the town. It is drab grays and browns until Vianne arrives in her bright red cloak and hood. Echoing ideas of PLEASANTVILLE, though in a more subtle fashion, Vianne brings color to the village. Her shop is bright with color, while the rest of the town is muted in color. Vianne has the courage to break from the dismal color scheme and bring some life to the village. The other theme is tempting the audience with luscious photography of chocolate. Like BABETTE'S FEAST and LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE, this is a film that seduces the viewer with its photography of food.

CHOCOLAT is generating some controversy; it seems to be a film people either love or hate. For my part I rate it a 7 on the 0 to 10 scale and a low +2 on the -4 to +4 scale. [-mrl]

Quote of the Week:

    They call a movie 'art house' until they find out that
    people like it, in which case it's mainstream.
                                   -- David Mamet