MT VOID 07/13/07 -- Vol. 26, No. 2, Whole Number 1449

MT VOID 07/13/07 -- Vol. 26, No. 2, Whole Number 1449

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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
07/13/07 -- Vol. 26, No. 2, Whole Number 1449

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

Mark Leeper on Television (comments by Evelyn C. Leeper):

"Cereal Thriller" will be broadcast on History TV in Canada Friday, July 20th at 8:00PM. Mark Leeper is one of the people interviewed for this. He was contacted based on his article "Free Inside" in the 05/01/98 issue of the MT VOID, which is reprinted below.

Whether this will ever run on United States television is unknown at this time. [-ecl]

Hot Topic: The Joy of Self-Immolation--Chili Peppers (Part 2) (comments by Mark R. Leeper):

Last week I was talking about fiery chili peppers and specifically their active ingredient, Capsaicin. These are plants from the same family spread around the world after having been cultivated in the New World for millennia. But these plants have always been treated with caution. And it is for good reason. This is the family of plants is called the "nightshade family" because all the plants that are close relatives contain dangerous alkaloids. The family is called the nightshade family because it really is just variations on the deadly nightshade plant. In the family are potato, eggplant, tomato, green pepper, tobacco, deadly nightshade (belladonna), jimsonweed, henbane, mandrake and petunias. They are all plants that have been treated with some caution. Certainly belladonna is a deadly poison and parts of each of the plants are dangerous. Don't make a salad of the leaves of a tomato plant. Eating unripe potatoes that are still green is a bad idea because they still contains dangerous alkaloids. Don't worry if you have eaten one or two, but don't make a habit of it. Of course, the tomato fruit (yes, is a fruit) was considered to be poisonous for a long time. What is interesting was that it was known that poor people were eating and enjoying tomatoes in many parts of the world, but they were thought to be poisonous for the more wealthy. Tomatoes were slow to get acceptance.

There was a time when a chili pepper habit, one such as I have, was considered a bad thing. I know that people from my mother's generation were raised thinking that hot peppers could be dangerous. It took years to convince my mother that swallowing something that was an irritant was not necessarily a bad idea. I remember visiting her and being served her (delicious as they were, Mom) scrambled eggs. I asked if there was any Tabasco Sauce to be had on them. "Not for breakfast," she responded without missing a beat. Eventually I convinced her that some Mexicans eat for breakfast Huevos Rancheros, which are frequently spicy. And I started showing her articles from the magazines she subscribed to, extolling the health virtues of hot peppers. I think I may have convinced her they were all right to eat for someone other than her. But many people are not anxious to eat piquent food. Go to any Thai restaurant and you will find that out.

As I explained last week most drugs generally are not really good to become addicted to. Capsaicin was thought to cause stomach ulcers, for example. Certainly people who had stomach ulcers had a lot of pain when they ate spicy foods and put irritants into their stomachs. And yes, putting an irritant on anything as pain sensitive as an ulcer is going to hurt. The conclusion that somebody drew was that the irritant had actually caused the ulcer in the first place. Nope. We now know that the bacteria Helicobacter pylori cause most stomach ulcers. There are various substances you can put in your diet to inhibit the Helicobacter pylori. One of the best is . . . capsaicin. If you eat a lot of hot food, you are actually less likely to develop ulcers. In fact it has been at least twenty years since I have seen anyone with any medical background who had a bad word to say about eating hot peppers. Hot peppers have been exonerated of nearly every health accusation ever made against them. And for every negative claim that that proves to be untrue, three positive claims seem to take its place. The negatives now appear to be for those not allergic to them to keep them away from your eyes and any other sensitive areas you want to protect form them-- including your tongue. Beyond that, feel free to use peppers as hot as feels good.

Beyond that the serious health claims for hot peppers go beyond good to almost being ridiculous. Eating or topically applying Capsaicin it seems to help against prostate and other cancers, arthritis, headaches, heart disease, sinus problems, weight problems, and now diabetes. That is list is pretty much the full slate. If you were to just fantasize what medical problems would you want a single natural substance to help with, that is pretty much the set you would pick. You would probably want it to help against AIDS, but that is about the only one missing.

You might want to take a look at the summaries at these sites.

Ironically, Capsaicin is really a defense system by certain plants to protect them from being eaten. The strategy fails spectacularly when it come to humans like me who actually enjoy getting the worst of the plant's defense mechanism. It goes against logic that humans should actually grow to enjoy applying irritants to the most sensitive parts of their bodies, their tongues. Well, it is like this. Our body has its own defense mechanisms. The Capsaicin irritates cells on the tongue (and elsewhere like the nose and throat) called trigeminal cells. The cells pass the message of the pain to the brain. You brain thinks something bad is going on in your mouth. Its reaction is that the body has to flee this danger so it tries to kill the pain by releasing endorphins. They are the same substances that an athlete releases when experiencing the so-called "runners' high." The eater knows that the body is not in trouble and is free to just enjoy the positive feelings that the endorphins cause. Okay, perhaps this is endorphin abuse, but there is no law against that. People who for some physiological reason lose the ability to produce the endorphins very quickly find that they are no longer fond of spicy food. Note: there actually is a hot sauce that calls itself Endorphin Rush. While it may not be a real addiction in most cases, people do come to seek out this endorphin rush. This is why spicy foods are so popular. [-mrl]

Free Inside (comments by Mark R. Leeper):

[originally published in the 05/01/98 MT VOID]

I was reading my cereal box this morning. That is pretty safe. They don't get too many postmodern writers to write on boxes of cereal. In fact I have often wondered who does actually write the text for boxes of cereal. It requires a whole different writing style. For one thing I think you really have to know your adjectives. Words like "light," "crispy," and "nutlike" have to come readily to the pen when writing the text that goes on a box of cereal. But the one thing that I found missing was "Free Inside."

Now when I was a kid the best thing to see on a box was "Free Inside." I grew up in the Golden Age of Free Inside. You don't get great premiums inside boxes of cereal any more. I am not sure you get any toys in cereal boxes. I remember when Quaker Puffed Wheat and Quaker Puffed Rice actually gave away deeds to land in the Yukon inside boxes of their cereal. You probably think I am joking here, but they really did. That was when they sponsored SGT. PRESTON OF THE YUKON. They must have bought up a chunk of land, divided it up into something like square-inch parcels, had legal deeds printed up, and gave them away in cereal. At one time I owned three or four parcels of land in the Yukon. And it worked. I suddenly got really interested in Sgt. Preston and his lead dog King. After all, that was my property he was protecting. At least it was out there someplace. Maybe someday I would find it and build on it. Though a gumdrop was about all I would have been able to place on it. Just to see my land I would have to trespass on land owned by about 37 other one-time little cereal eaters.

Thinking about it, I am sure by now somehow that someone else has gotten ownership of the land, but at one point it was mine. It was so small that if it was all in one place I could hide it with my hand. But it was mine and I owned it. That was the best Free Inside ever.

What are some of the other classics? I guess I remember this stuff pretty well because this is what it took to form me. You really needed something to get you through the day back then. You have to remember that back then a Saturday morning was about as long as three and a half of our days. And children have a lot of energy to dissipate. They have good muscles, but much less mass than adults do. The square-cube law says that little kids are going to have much higher muscle to mass ratio than we do. I remember wondering why adults just wanted to sit around at the end of a day, and now I know it is because they are pushing around all the mass of an adult body. Perhaps children would be more pleasant and also healthier if we put weights on their arms and legs. But when I was small you could not just shut down all that energy and just sit and watch SKY KING or CAPTAIN MIDNIGHT. You needed something to do with your hands to dissipate excess energy. That's what Free Insides were good for. Well, the Yukon deed might not be so good. What kind of a kid would sit down and read the fine print during WINKY DINK? (Okay, WINKY DINK was Sunday morning.) Probably it was just the ones who grew into lawyers. No, for Saturday morning TV shows I recommend a little toy rocket launcher that came free inside something like Nabisco Honey Wheats. Basically it had a catch mechanism and a spring. You put the little missile on it and it clicked in place, then you pressed the catch and it fired. That one was particularly memorable since it was an action toy. Sometimes you just got little toy plane models of real planes. Somebody at the cereal company must have served in World War II and remembered his days of plane spotting.

I have heard people say that you got decoder rings and glow in the dark rings in cereal. I think you had to send away for those with a proof of purchase. I think you could get a little submarine powered by baking powder in a box of cereal, but the frogmen that went to the surface and then dived again, also powered by baking powder, were a send-away offer. [-mrl]

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

[This continues the description of the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame in Seattle.]

"FANTASTIC VOYAGES" included all the paraphernalia of space travel. There were "Space Suits", both real ones from NASA, and fictional ones such as helmets from Captain Video; Quarlo Cobregney, RMENTNDO, from the "Soldier" episode of "The Outer Limits"; Darth Vader from "Star Wars"; "Buck Rogers" (from television); and "Star Trek: The Motion Picture". There were also various uniforms from movies and television.

There was a claim that Arthur (?) Train's "Stranded" introduced science fiction weightlessness in space, but what about Verne's "From the Earth to the Moon" or Wells's "First Men in the Moon"? (I think it was Arthur Train, but I did not note the first name, and I cannot find any such story in the various reference works.)

The "Armory" had ray gun toys, covers with ray guns, the "Voice Amplifier" from "Dune", phasers, the crossbow from "Barbarella", daggers from "Star Trek", hand weapons of all sorts, the "fun gun" from "Dr. Who", and blasters and disruptors.

"Communication Devices" included the inorganic selenite crystals used as translators in "First Men in the Moon" and a diagram of the Babel Fish from "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy". "Scanners and Medical Devices" had many items from "Star Trek", but also copies of several James White books.

"Ad Astra ... To the Stars" had a section on "Spaceships" which included "A Trip to Mars" by Fenton Ash. (Has anyone reading this ever even heard of that?!) There was also "Across the Zodiac" by Edwin Pallandep, another classic.

One of the really great items was the typed manuscript of "The Skylark of Space" by E. E. Smith. There were also several Chesley Bonestell paintings.

"Reality Strikes Back" was a section on how faster-than-light travel has been treated when the author has wanted to acknowledge the limitations imposed by relativity. Another section had space travel from "Star Trek".

"Ships of the New Science Fiction" featured "A Fire upon the Deep" by Vernor Vinge, "Startide Rising" by David Brin", "Revolution Space" by Alistair Reynolds, "The Reality Dysfunction" by Peter F. Hamilton, and "Consider Phlebas" by Iain Banks.

The "Spaceship Scanning Station" showed a continuous video with a lot of spaceships from different sources interacting. The ships are from "First Men in the Moon", "Rendezvous with Rama", "Farscape", "Forbidden Planet", "When Worlds Collide", "Star Wars", "Star Trek". "Alien", "Flash Gordon", "Red Dwarf", "Close Encounters of the Third Kind", "Futurama", "Babylon 5", "Cities in Flight", and "Cowboy Bebop". For each of these there was a "mission description" that would tell you about the ship, but there seemed to be a few other ships with no description (e.g., "2001: A Space Odyssey").

"Teleportation" had a poster for "The Four-D Man", but Mark pointed out that this is not teleportation. There was also "Scale Changes". This had "Land of Giants", "Gulliver's Travels" by Jonathan Swift, "Fantastic Voyage", "The Amazing Colossal Man", "Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman", and "The Princess in the Atom" by Ray Cummings. (I wonder if this was what Mark was thinking of as being in the "Nanotech" section in "HOMEWORLD".)

Another section was "Time Travel". "Inter-Dimensional Travel" included "The Quiet Earth"; "...And He Built a Crooked House" by Robert A. Heinlein; "Moving Mars" by Greg Bear; "Little Girl Lost" by Richard Matheson; "Islands of Space" by John W. Campbell, Jr.; "A Wrinkle in Time" by Madeleine L'Engle; and "Catch the Star Winds" by A. Bertram Chandler.

There was a section on "Rocket Packs".

The "Science Fiction Hero" also included villains, sidekicks, etc., as well as "Heroic Satire". The latter had "Bill, the Galactic Hero" and "The Stainless Steel Rat", both by Harry Harrison. "Heroes of Every Size, Shape . . . and Species" had "The Skylark of Space" by E. E. Smith, "Shambleau" by C. L. Moore, "Parable of the Sower" and "Parable of the Talents" by Octavia Butler, "Chanur" by C. J. Cherryh, and "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card. They also had Captain Marvel's tunic and lots of the merchandising tie-ins from "Star Wars".

"Artificial Constructs and Amazing Places" included "Flatland" by Edwin S. Abbott, "Solaris" by Stanislaw Lem, "Ringworld" by Larry Niven, "Sundiver" by David Brin, and "Flux" by Stephen Baxter.

One of the really amazing items the Museum has is "Jupiter as Seen from Its Innermost Satellite", painted by Chesley Bonestell in 1945. It was just hanging on the wall, not in a case, or behind glass. There is something about being physically in the same space with something like that that is impossible to convey. It is the difference between seeing a picture of the "Mona Lisa" and seeing the actual "Mona Lisa".

There was a case of Arrakis items and props from David Lynch's version of "Dune".

Another anamorphic spherical screen was showing the planets Solaris, Acheron (from "Alien"), Hoth ("The Empire Strikes Back"), Pygmy Planet (from Jack Willlamson), Jupiter and Athshe ("The Word for World Is Forest" by Ursula K. LeGuin).

A display on Mesklin from "Mission of Gravity" by Hal Clement had "The Slide Rule and How to Use It" from the 1940s by Harry Drell and a Keuffel & Esser slide rule.

"Experimental Societies" included "Logan's Run" by William F. Nolan; "Sweet Dreams, Sweet Princes" by Mack Reynolds; "THX 1138"; "We" by Yevgeny Zamiatin; "The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood; "The Lathe of Heaven" by Ursula K. LeGuin (but not "The Dispossessed"); "Fahrenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury; "A Clockwork Orange" by Anthony Burgess; "Utopia" by Thomas More; "Matrix Revolutions" and "1984" by George Orwell. As a reference to the last, they had a recent poster from a British campaign about surveillance cameras on public transit, with drawings of eyes watching you and suggestions of Big Brother. It was supposed to reassure people, but somehow it did not have that effect. Most of the "experimental societies" shown were dystopias; for some reason the eutopias are not as engrossing. One needs conflict, I suppose, but one could certainly find some stories in which a eutopia is threatened from outside instead of having the conflict as internal.

"Controlling the Masses" had "Minority Report", "The Prisoner", "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley. "1984" by George Orwell, "Patterns of Force" episode of "Star Trek", "Earth" by David Brin, and "Hominids" by Robert Sawyer. (Note: "Minority Report" was based on a Philip K. Dick story of the same name. In general, if the display featured the movie poster, I list the movie title, not the story.)

"Visions of the Future" included "Perdido Street Station" by China Mieville, "Neuromancer" by William Gibson, "Looking Backward" by Edward Bellamy, "The Difference Engine" by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" by Philip K. Dick, "The Steampunk Trilogy" by Paul Di Filippo, "When the Sleeper Wakes" by H. G. Wells, and "Men Will Live on Mountaintops" by Winsor McCay.

A video discussing "Cities of Tomorrow" had sections on "The Jetsons" (discussed by Leonard Maltin), "Blade Runner" (Los Angeles, 2019) (discussed by Bruce Sterling and Paul Sammon), and "The Matrix" (Earth/Cyberspace, 2199) (discussed by Paul Sammon).

A final display, "Out of the Ashes" had "The Day of the Triffids" by John Wyndham (I think they had both the book and the movie poster); "The Long Tomorrow" by Leigh Brackett; "Damnation Alley" by Roger Zelazny; "The Day the World Ended"; several items from or about "Planet of the Apes"; "The World Wreckers" by Marion Zimmer Bradley; "The Long Loud Silence" by Wilson Tucker; "Alas, Babylon" by Pat Frank; "Earth Abides" by George R. Stewart; "The Postman" by David Brin; "A Canticle for Leibowitz" by Walter M. Miller, Jr.; "On the Beach" by Nevil Shute; "City" by Clifford Simak, "The Purple Cloud" M. P. Shiel, "The Scarlet Plague" by Jack London, and an issue of "Astounding" (February 1941). There was also an issue of "Fantastic Universe" from August-September 1953 featuring a painting of a half-buried Statue of Liberty that almost certainly inspired the scene from "Planet of the Apes".

We finished this room about 12:30PM, taking about an hour. The women's restroom on this floor has the zero-G toilet instructions from "2001: A Space Odyssey" and a "Dr. Who and the Daleks" lobby card reproduction. The men's room has a different lobby card and no instructions. The same exterior signs are used here as upstairs.

[to be continued] [-ecl]

                                          Mark Leeper

Quote of the Week:

           No man really becomes a fool until 
           he stops asking questions.
                                          -- Charles Steinmetz

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