MT VOID 06/29/07 -- Vol. 25, No. 52, Whole Number 1447

MT VOID 06/29/07 -- Vol. 25, No. 52, Whole Number 1447

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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
06/29/07 -- Vol. 25, No. 52, Whole Number 1447

Table of Contents

      El Presidente: Mark Leeper, The Power Behind El Pres: Evelyn Leeper, Back issues at All material copyright by author unless otherwise noted. All comments sent will be assumed authorized for inclusion unless otherwise noted. To subscribe, send mail to To unsubscribe, send mail to

Steam Trek (comments by Evelyn C. Leeper):

A fairly amusing "Star Trek" parody is available at If you like it, remember that it is eligible for the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form. [-ecl]

Irony (comments by Mark R. Leeper):

George Carlin says: "Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that." I think he meant how stupid the median person is. [-mrl]

The Vanishing Movie Theater Experience (comments by Mark R. Leeper):

I like to discuss current films with friends, just as I like to write reviews. I have noticed a disturbing trend in that my friends have frequently seen current major films that I have not. Well, just because I review films does not imply I see all the major films that are released. A lot of people I know go to the movies more frequently than I do these days. I don't consider it a responsibility to see all the major films that are released, just because I like to write about my impressions of the films I do see. Actually, these days I simply do not go to the movie theater very often. That should not be disturbing to me, it should be disturbing to theater owners. True, I am just one person, but I really am a cinema fan. If I do not want to go see a movie in a theater, a lot of people less fanatic than I am will probably not want to either. I like cinema as much as ever, but a lot of things are happening.

First, what is happening is that DVDs have improved the film experience in the home. This is even truer for people who have hi-tech home entertainment systems. I have not gone very hi-tech myself. It surprises me to realize that of my immediate family I have the lowest tech means of watching films at home. I have not invested in much but a nice but outdated television--no HD, no digital. I watch on a 34-inch screen. But that is sufficient to my needs for now. There are few films that I would want to purchase on DVD that are more expensive than two theater tickets would cost for even a matinee. And if I buy the DVD I can see it as many times as I want whenever I want. If I rent a film from NetFlix the Evelyn and I can see it at home for under $.75 a piece. That is about *one tenth* the price of two matinee theater tickets. And the film comes to my mailbox, so I save even more in driving and personal time. If I want refreshments they are in the kitchen at grocery store prices without waiting in line.

Of course, I cannot ignore the fact that the theater experience is enjoyable to me. I really like the big towering screen. I can sort of get that effect at home by just sitting on the floor near the television and watching the relatively high-quality DVD picture. (I actually do that, by the way. Incidentally, I have recently read that all you heard from your parents that sitting near the television destroys your eyes or sends deadly rays into your head is poppycock. Actually television sets purchased prior to 1968 did emit X-rays, but that time is long gone. It is a myth that sitting too near to the television can cause anything but possible eye fatigue. Probably the myth should have died when people realized they would sit even closer to a PC monitor and the issue of X-rays does not come up with PCs. Now cell phones may be a different matter.)

But as I say, the movie theater has a big disadvantage in that it is so much more expensive than going the DVD route. Movie theaters seem to go in cycles and every one of them seems to jack up the price about the same time. Where I am most theaters are now in the $7.00 range for matinees. Other parts of the country matinees are higher than they are around here. I remember when New York Mayor Koch was suggesting a boycott of theaters that charged $7 for evening performances. Today that would be a bargain price.

But that is not enough for the theaters to rake in. The distributor is taking in a big piece of the take so the theaters have to make money any way they can. For a long time they would do it by overcharging for popcorn and candy and drinks. That did not affect me much since usually I chew gum at a movie. Anything in my hands makes it harder to take notes. I never minded much when the ads were coming attractions for films, but that is no longer the case. Now they are ads for the same things you see advertised on television. (It was not all that long ago that I was shocked to see theaters in England ran car ads and soda ads. They were always at the beginnings of films and were presented as if the ads were entertainment. Two people named Pearl and Dean had their names at the beginning of the ads like ruining the movie experinece was something that Pearl and Dean were proud of. Well it must have worked in England because it seems to have spread here.) Our local Regal Cinema--yes, I will use the name-- runs twenty minutes of ads including movie ads. They are an eleven-minute drive away. I have come to realize that if I leave home when the listings say or even five minutes after they say the film will start, I will be in my seat when the movie actually does start and I will be somewhat less annoyed.

The only thing that can slow me down is if walking to my seat I get stuck to the floor. Okay, that is a bit of an exaggeration, but the theaters are just not kept very clean. Popcorn on the floor is not a real problem. You can walk on that fairly easily and it does not stick to your shoes unless you have treads. Candy does stick, but usually is easy to dislodge. Chewing gum on the floor is more of a problem. Spilled soda does less damage than gum, but over a much wider area, so it is a toss-up. And luckily I do not often run into toss-up, which would be the worst of all. And this is scary: the last time I went to a theater I tried to leave by the exit door in the theater. I pushed on the door and it made a gritty scraping noise of metal on cement and opened about an inch. Shove as I might, that was as far as it opened. That has to be illegal. But the muckiness of the theaters irritates me so that I cannot see straight.

Sometimes not seeing straight is an advantage because more and more these days the film there is a horizontal strip at the top of the picture that should be at the bottom or vice versa. Over the past decade the incidence of projection errors has increased markedly. The film is not properly framed or is out of focus or the sound is not working. I have to go back out, risking the dirty floors, to find someone to fix the picture. Usually there is nobody obvious. You find just a ticket taker and he/she says he/she may or may not tell the guy running the projectors. There is one person running all the projectors. And this is not someone you would put a lot of faith in. First they have screwed up already and secondly they look like a teenager or someone in their early twenties at the oldest. It is someone who the theater could hire cheaply, but usually nobody who could possibly have much technical experience projecting films. I assume that the projection equipment is made so idiots can run it, even for 20 screen theaters. But that assumes that nothing goes wrong. With a responsibility for twenty screens they have no time to monitor the theaters to see if things are being projected properly. Time was you had fewer projectors and fewer screens and someone more elderly who knew the equipment cold and how to use it. Experienced people would take this job because they got to see the movies free as a fringe benefit, and they were mature enough to appreciate cinema.

Today most of the multiplex films would only appeal to the younger people they get to run the theaters. There are far fewer films that have what we used to consider good and interesting writing. Instead, the multiplexes seem to be going in for fast- and-furious-paced bubble-gum films with lots of superheroes and giant explosions and creatures that come out of a computer. That is what the younger set wants to see and to talk about. They cannot wait for the film to be over to talk about it. And they don't. They have to talk to their friends right then and there. They even talk on cell phones in the middle of the movie as if they were watching it from their own den. And I don't blame them because these days the den is becoming the most logical place to see a film, even if it is a few months after other people have first seen the film. As long as you can avoid having other people tell you about the ending. So these days I go weeks and sometimes months between times when I go to see a movie in a theater. Theaters are just not as inviting as they used to be. I think the exhibitors are cutting throats since they are in competition with a lot more other media. [-mrl]

IN BETWEEN DAYS (film review by Mark R. Leeper):

CAPSULE: First time writer and director So Yong Kim gives us a naturalistic portrait of the relationship between two disaffected Korean teenagers living in Toronto. Aimie is sullen and antagonistic. In her efforts to hold on to her boyfriend and to punish her mother she is entering a self-destructive spiral. IN BETWEEN DAYS is shot in a documentary-like style, but some of the artistic decisions do not always work in the film's favor. Rating: high 0 (-4 to +4) or 5/10

Even at 82 minutes IN BETWEEN DAYS seems to drag. The film opens with about 40 seconds of a handheld camera shot of the back of someone's head as she walks through Toronto's snow. That someone turns out to be Aimie (played by Jiseon Kim), a 16-ish immigrant from Korea. Aimie is in a new country and not adapting well to living in Canada. Aimie's father has abandoned his small family and Aimie takes her frustration on her mother. She has become sullen and uncommunicative with her teacher, her mother, and even her boyfriend Tran (Taegu Andy Kang) whom right now she sees as the only good thing in her life.

Aimie is taking the same English class that Tran does, but Aimie's attitude is getting in the way, and her only pleasure seems to be her time spent with Tran. She is nearly as silent with him as she is with her mother. Tran is finding Aimie uninteresting and beginning to drift away from her to the world of sex and drugs. Aimie secretly quits her English class, gets a refund, and spends the proceeds on Tran in an effort to hang on to him. First time director So Yong Kim creates a very realistic portrait of his alienated subject, and her problems seem little different from those any teenager might face.

A film like this either works or fails depending on how well the characters are drawn. So Yong Kim gives the film an almost documentary feel showing us Aimie's long withdrawn silences and her efforts to talk without really communicating, but the film is definitely taxing. And at least three sequences of trudges through the snow looking at the back of Aimie's head do not make the film any less taxing. Sarah Levy's camera focuses on close ups on hands and faces but the passive expressions are equally uninformative.

So Yong Kim came from Korea at age 12 and grew up in Los Angeles in a culture of suppressed sexual interest and tension and that experience inspired and informed her script. So Yong Kim's experiences of coming of age and at the same time trying to understand an alien society were the source for the conflicts that define Aimie. Jiseon Kim (no relation to the director) expresses her impassive character well enough to wall us out, but not expressively enough to pull us in.

This is a film that is selective in its appeal. Its minimalist approach and its long silences will limit its appeal. IN BETWEEN DAYS is a sincere effort, but one almost feels one is watching someone's video-camera diary. I rate it a high 0 on the -4 to +4 scale or 5/10.

Film Credits:


Almost Human (letter of comment by Andre Kuzniarek):

In response to Mark's comments on "Almost Human" in the 06/22/07 issue of the MT VOID, Andre Kuzniarek writes, "Indeed, there was a 'Dr. Who' story (Episode? Actually collection of four episodes, as was the way that show used to tell stories) from the 80's that dealt with this topic, called 'The Robots of Death' I believe..." [-ak]

SH20--The Seeds of Destruction (letter of comment by Daniel Kimmel):

In response to Mark's article on the second half of the 20th century in the 06/22/07 issue of the MT VOID, Dan Kimmel writes:

I must take great exception to Mark's reading of the current political climate.

Bush is not a misguided soul doing his best. He is a man who-- through his own desires or those of the people around him--is conducting one of the biggest seizures of power by the government in the history of this nation. No, they're not trying to stop you from reading "Huckleberry Finn." But they ARE trying to pry into every aspect of your life, unless you're a corporate CEO or gun owner, the only areas where they seem to insist on a right of privacy. From illegal and unauthorized wiretapping, to signing statements where the president assumes the power of the legislature and the judiciary in determining how the law should apply, this is a presidency that feels itself responsible to no one but itself. The use of Guantanamo Bay as a prison camp outside of our legal system is alone enough to condemn him, but there's much more.

Mark also falls into the trap of many people in blaming the Democratic leadership in Congress in failing to turn the country around. It's a common mistake, since the rightwing media (which still insists that our media is dominated by the left) keeps telling us this. In fact, the Democrats have only slim majorities in both houses of Congress. In the Senate it's a single vote, and that vote is Joe Lieberman, a repugnant "independent" who even voted with Bush on the recent attempt to censure our criminally incompetent attorney general. The Democrats have *tried* to change things. They tried to set a date to end the war. They tried to lift the ban on government funded stem cell research. In both cases Bush vetoed it, and in both cases the Democrats simply do not have the votes to override. To blame the *Democrats* for this (in a faux "a plague on both your houses" attempt at being even-handed) is completely misleading.

In the 570 or so days remaining in the Bush administration (assuming he doesn't exempt himself from the expiration of his term as well), the job of the Democrats is to keep raising the issues and convincing the Republicans--by whatever licit means are necessary--that continuing to defending this corrupt and failing administration is doing tremendous harm to the country. Pretending that this is anything but a problem *caused* by Bush and those Republicans who support him in Congress is an attempt to relieve them of the responsibility for the terrible damage they have done and continue to do. [-dk]

SH20--The Seeds of Destruction (letter of comment by John Purcell):

In response to Mark's article on the second half of the 20th century (and others) in the 06/22/07 issue of the MT VOID, John Purcell writes:

Good morning, Mark!

Say, it appears that my little Daily Show-esque joke certainly prompted an interesting response from you. Truth be told, I also don't believe that the Bush Administration is being deliberately malicious or trying to be a Big Brother type of entity. However, like you and many other Americans, I have strong disagreements with the President's decisions and decision-making process. It is definitely counter-productive to use name-calling and such at this stage of the game, and I am afraid that the administration's decision to take military action in Iraq may have been well- intended at the beginning, but was guided by misinformation with a definite lack of planning and foresight. This is a bad combination, and how this situation will eventually resolve is a long ways off. Thus many Americans are drawing a parallel between the Iraq war and Vietnam, despite the fact that they are two completely different conflicts with extremely different results.

I dunno. I guess all we can do is hope that cooler, more rational heads will prevail, and that the new, "Democrat- controlled" Congress will try to do something. Who knows? I, for one, am not holding my breath for immediate results. That is unrealistic. Sadly, I think too many Americans want results NOW and they don't understand that some things--like war, economies, social change, etc.--take a long time to work themselves out. So we are only going to have to hurry up and wait.

Also, as far as LaHaye and Jenkins are concerned, I don't necessarily agree with their conclusions, but was merely pointing them out. Taken at their own level, what those writers have presented is interesting reading, at least I think so. You might find this shocking, but I have actually read all twelve of the Left Behind books. They were, for the most part, quite entertaining reading. I don't believe in what LaHaye and Jenkins wrote as Scriptural Truth or anything like that; after all, it is all fiction, and nothing more. When those novels became preachy instead of telling their stories, then they bogged down. A lot. Take this for what you will. I enjoyed reading them at that level: entertainment. If anything, that series definitely falls in the unique sub-genre of Christian Science Fiction. Now there's a special interest group if there ever was one!

One other final comment: I really like your self-description of being "Geometrically Considerate." Like many other American males in their 50s, I am fighting my own Battle of the Bulge. The enemy advance has been halted, but is not retreating. I think it's time for both sides to call a truce and eat a chocolate bar of peace.

Take care, and thank you for sending your zine this way. [-jp]

This Week's Reading (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper):

Last April we visited Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame in Seattle. Since over the summer travel and vacation tend to decrease the amount of reading I do, I will be reporting on the Museum in my column--for several weeks.

[A note on typography: Normally I use all caps for book and film titles, but I am converting this *back* from HTML, so I have gone for the easy way, and am putting them in quotation marks instead.]

This being Seattle, we drove around a bit to try to find reasonably priced parking. It turns out there is a garage at the corner of Thomas and 1st Avenue that charges $6/day, which is considerably cheaper than the standard downtown garages.

The admission price used to be $12.95, or $26.95 in combination with the EMP (Experience Music Project). (EMP alone was $19.95.) After *everyone* said that was way over-priced, they lowered the price as of April 1, 2007. The new price is $15 for both museums, with no separate individual museum pricing. In addition, AAA membership gets you a $4 discount, bringing the price down to $11/person. This is actually on a par with movie ticket prices, and since both museums are considered must-sees by the tour books, it solves a dilemma. You see, the building is open 10AM to 5PM, or seven hours. AAA says to allow three hours minimum at the Science Fiction Museum and four hours minimum at EMP. A visitor who is interested primarily in one museum may say to himself, "Well, if I spend more time than the minimum in one, I won't have very much time for the other, so the combination is not a good deal. But if I want to see both, the combination *is* a good deal."

I will say now that this is a must-see for science fiction fans, but I will have more to say at the end.

One downer is that the Museum does not allow cameras.

In the lobby, we were met by a full-size model of Gort. The Museum has the same restroom labels as at L.A.con IV (see ), done (I think) by Therese Littleton. (One assumes that the Museum had them first.) There were movie posters for "Alien", "At the Earth's Core", "Final Fantasy", "Riddick", and "Battlestar Galactica", and the Robert McQuarrie concept art for "Star Wars". (I think the latter were the originals, but it was hard to tell.)

The first section was "HOMEWORLD". This described "What if?" as the basic theme of science fiction. Ironically, there was very little about alternate history in any of the exhibits, and that is the classic "what if?" genre. They did have "Years of Rice and Salt" by Kim Stanley Robinson ("what if the Black Death wiped out all of western civilization?"), "The Man in the High Castle" by Philip K. Dick ("what if the Allies had lost World War II?"), "Redshift Rendezvous" by John Stith ("what if the speed of light were only 22 miles per hour?"), and "The Sound of Thunder" by Ray Bradbury.

Throughout, one found quotes, such as, "Everything considered, the world of science fiction is not a bad place to live." (Frederik Pohl)

There was a painting, "Ray Harryhausenland" by Michael Pucciarelli, which was a mural that included images from most of Harryhausen's films.

The first, and sort of underlying, exhibit was a science fiction timeline, divided into sections displaying book covers, magazines covers, movie posters, etc.:

- Prolog/The Early Years: Mary Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe, H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, Edgar Rice Burroughs, "Argosy" 1922 issue with "The Chessmen of Mars", "Science and Invention" August issue (labeled "Scientific Fiction Number")

- 1926-1937/Classic Pulps: "Metropolis", "Brave New World", "Amazing" (April 1939 issue with "World Without Women"), "Super Science Stories" (May 1942 issue with "The Prisoner of Time"), "Thrilling Wonder Stories" (June 1940 issue with "Dr. Cyclops"), "The Thing of Venus" by Wilbur S. Peacock, and "Swastika Night" by Murray Constantine

- 1938-1946/A Golden Age: "Astounding" issue from 1942, "Out of the Silent Planet", Donald Wollheim's "The Pocketbook of Science Fiction", "Astounding" issue of October 1939, "Deadline" by Cleve Cartmill ("Astounding" March 1944), Orson Welles's "War of the Worlds", and "Million Year Picnic" by Ray Bradbury

- 1947-1951/Masters of the Universe: "Rocketship Galileo" by Robert A. Heinlein; "The Thing from Another World"; "1984" by George Orwell; "I, Robot" by Isaac Asimov; "Slan" by A. E. Van Vogt; "Galaxy" (November 1950 issue); and "The Martian Chronicles" by Ray Bradbury

- 1952-1960/Soft Science: "The Twilight Zone"; "Childhood's End" by Arthur C. Clarke; "Fahrenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury; "A Case of Conscience" by James Blish; "A Canticle for Leibowitz" by Walter M. Miller, Jr.; "If" (May 1962 issue); "The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction" (issue #8); "20,000 Leagues under the Sea"; "Invasion of the Body Snatchers"; "Twenty Million Miles to Earth"; "Forbidden Planet"; "Them"

- 1961-1976/The New Wave: "My Favorite Martian", "The Lovers" and "To Your Scattered Bodies Go" by Philip Jose; Farmer, Harlan Ellison's "Dangerous Visions", "The Left Hand of Darkness" by Ursula K. LeGuin, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" by Philip K. Dick, "The Female Man" by Joanna Russ, "Analog" (March 1965 issue, "Prophet of Dune"), "Vertex" issue, "The Jetsons", "The Planet of the Apes", "2001: A Space Odyssey", "Dr. Strangelove", "Star Trek", "Worlds of Tomorrow" (April 1963 issue), and "Lost in Space"

- 1977-1984/Science Fiction Goes Global: "Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine" (Fall 1977 issue), "Close Encounters of the Third Kind", "Timescape" by Gregory Benford", an issue of "Omni", "Blade Runner", "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial", anime, "Riddly Walker" by Russell Hoban, "Neuromancer" by William Gibson, "Schismatrix" by Bruce Sterling, "The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood, "Forge of God" by Greg Bear, "Brazil", "Akira", Queen record cover, "Star Wars", and "Dr. Who"

- 1985-1991/The Cyber Revolution: "The Uplift War" by David Brin; "Cyteen" by C. J. Cherryh; "The Difference Engine" by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling; "A Fire upon the Deep" by Vernor Vinge; "The Abyss"; "Her Smoke Rose Up Forever" by James Tiptree, Jr.; "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card; and "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams

- 1992-Present/Ad Astra, Again: "Parable of the Talents" by Octavia Butler, "Snow Crash" by Neal Stephenson, "The Golden Compass" by Philip Pullman, "Trouble and Her Friends" by Melissa Scott, "Vacuum Diagrams" by Stephen Baxter, "Interzone" (issue 132), "The Matrix", "Men in Black", "Futurama", "Contact". "A.I.: Artificial Intelligence", "The Story of Your Life and Other Stories" by Ted Chiang, "Revolution Space" by Alistair Reynolds, "The Steampunk Trilogy" by Paul Di Filippo, "Wolverine", and "Signs"

[On the chart, some of these seemed to be in the wrong sections, but I think that was because the boundaries were not strictly vertical lines.]

[to be continued] [-ecl]

                                          Mark Leeper

Quote of the Week:

           What is faith?  Credulity gained at the cost of self.
                                          -- Anonymous

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