MT VOID 09/03/10 -- Vol. 29, No. 10, Whole Number 1613

MT VOID 09/03/10 -- Vol. 29, No. 10, Whole Number 1613

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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
09/03/10 -- Vol. 29, No. 10, Whole Number 1613

Table of Contents

      C3PO: Mark Leeper, R2D2: Evelyn Leeper, Back issues at All material is copyrighted 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

Science Fiction (and Other) Discussion Groups (NJ):

September 9 (Thu): [no meeting], Middletown (NJ) Public Library
September 23 (Thu): THE DISPOSSESSED by Ursula K. LeGuin, 
	Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library, 7PM
October 14 (Thu): INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS by Jack Finney, 
	Middletown (NJ) Public Library, 1956 film at 5:30PM, 
	discussion of film and book 	after film
October 21 (Thu): EVER SINCE DARWIN by Stephen Jay Gould, 
	Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library, 7PM

[The Middletown Public Library is doing their annual counts of their discussion groups in September and October, so if you want to see this group continue, please try to attend the October meeting. -ecl]

Semper Floss (comments by Mark R. Leeper):

I found out that in college my dentist was a member of the dental fraternity Iota Kappa Tooth. [-mrl]

My Picks for Turner Classic Movies for September (comments by Mark R. Leeper):

I guess it is time for my monthly summary of my picks for what to look for on Turner Classic Movies. In September TCM does not seem to have much that is particularly rare and unusual. Most of the films have played before on TCM. All times below are EST.)


This is an unusual fantasy written by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, the team who called themselves "the Archers." They made a whole string of highly respected films and then blew it all making the psychological horror film PEEPING TOM (1960). David Niven plays RAF pilot Peter Carter who suffers a fatal drop from his wrecked airplane, yet somehow is unharmed. He meets and falls in love with June (Kim Hunter who would later be Dr. Zira in PLANET OF THE APES). Suddenly an angelic envoy from Heaven tells him that he was supposed to have been killed in the fall and must now die. He objects that it would have been OK to take him at the time of the fall, but since he has fallen in love, it is no longer fair to take him. This becomes in a lawsuit in a huge celestial court. Very nicely presented. Somehow this ends up in a conflict of Americans vs. Britons. You won't see a stranger film that whole week. It has a good mostly-British cast of the time including Richard Attenborough, Robert Coote, and (Canadian) Raymond Massey. (Tuesday, September 7, 2:45 pm - 4:30 pm)


True story: I saw WAIT UNTIL DARK a couple of years ago after not having seen it since it came out in 1967. I had not remembered, but it is an extremely well written and intricate plot. I thought to myself really if I were to compare it to any other murder plot I would choose what I consider the best-written murder play and film DIAL M FOR MURDER by Frederick Knott. Only then did I go to look up who wrote WAIT UNTIL DARK. The same Frederick Knott wrote it as a stage play. Until then I never associated the two films. DIAL M FOR MURDER, which was filmed in 1954--in 3D incidentally--by Alfred Hitchcock remains the best and most intricately plotted murder stage play I know of, but WAIT UNTIL DARK is up there also. TCM is showing the two back to back. Alan Arkin, who is known almost exclusively for comic roles, plays a psychotic killer. He uses this sort of singsong voice like he is talking to a second-grader. Director Terence Young was not happy with it. Arkin convinced him to go with it. As soon as Arkin took out his knife and started being menacing using the same patronizing voice Young realized this guy really makes your flesh crawl. These are two very good films. WAIT UNTIL DARK is a little more horrific; DIAL M FOR MURDER is more a cold exercise in logic. Both are very good. (WUD: Sunday September 19, 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm; DMfM: September 19, 10:00 pm - 11:45 pm)


If you have not seen this movie, you should. This is arguably the most engrossing film that Orson Welles directed. He also wrote it and plays a major character. Really it is an example of a B-movie that far out-shown most A-movies of the time and is still hypnotic. The story is gritty and powerful. Charlton Heston plays Vargas, a Mexican narcotics chief whose case brings him across the border into the United States. There his new wife (Janet Leigh) is terrorized by Mexican delinquents from the crime family Vargas is investigating and Vargas has to face down a corrupt American policeman who plants evidence to get his convictions. This film is very atmospheric with really memorable performances. This is a superb exercise in tone. (Thursday September 9, 12:00 am - 2:00 am)


What did Jack Arnold do AFTER he made his famous string of science fiction films like CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON? One thing he did was make this British satire on international relations. Grand Fenwick is a tiny Duchy in Europe that is going bankrupt due to competition from California wine makers. They notice that US is rehabilitating and giving aid to formerly defeated enemies like Japan and Germany. Can Grand Fenwick also become a defeated enemy? They declare war on the United States, a declaration that is ignored as a joke by the US. So they send a local--something of a bungler--to invade the United States and be quickly defeated. Unfortunately he bungles this task and accidentally wins the war. Peter Sellers plays three roles. This is based on Leonard Wibberley's cold war satire. The film has not aged well, but it is amusing. (Saturday September 25, 9:00 am - 10:30 am)


One science fiction film that has aged surprisingly well, unfortunately, is SOYLENT GREEN. It is kind of a dull murder mystery, but set in a futuristic Earth when overpopulation and global warming have ruined the environment and food is as we know it is only for the very rich. What people are eating is Soylent Green. The film is loosely based on a novel by popular science fiction writer Harry Harrison. There is nothing like Soylent Green in the original novel, but the future in the film is still a lot more believable today than it was in 1973. (Saturday September 18, 4:00 pm - 5:45 pm)

What is my pick for the month? If you have not seen TOUCH OF EVIL, that is the best one to see. If you have seen it, I would say WAIT UNTIL DARK and DIAL M FOR MURDER can be viewed over and over. [-mrl]

YOO-HOO, MRS. GOLDBERG: The DVD (DVD review by Mark R. Leeper):

Gertrude Berg was once one of the five most famous women in the United States. Her heyday was a little before my time, though not by much. I certainly remember seeing her on her television program "Mrs. G. Goes to College (a.k.a. "The Gertrude Berg Show") in 1961 and 1962, and I seem to remember that my parents knew all about her. At the time I never appreciated who she was and how influential she really had been in the years before my birth. Berg was a star of radio, TV, and the Broadway stage. But her longest running contributions and what made her name a household word were the various radio and television programs that chronicled the fictional New York Jewish family the Goldbergs. Berg played the irrepressible Molly Goldberg with no little part of herself in the character. In her time Gertrude Berg was considered the second most beloved woman in America, just after Eleanor Roosevelt.

Berg had essentially invented the situation comedy or perhaps more accurately what is now called a "warmedy". The saga of the Goldbergs began November 20, 1929, with a fifteen-minute episode of the radio series "The Rise of the Goldbergs." And with various incarnations in different media that saga continued to the 1950s. Berg, who always wrote the show as well as starred in it, was writing about issues of intolerance, of settling refugees, raising a family in the Depression, and of the difficulty of lower middle class life in general. It has been mostly forgotten how popular this program really was. The show was Jewish, but many ethnic groups, particularly recent immigrants, could see their own conditions and problems reflected in those of the characters.

Last year I was pleased to see and review Aviva Kempner's documentary YOO-HOO, MRS. GOLDBERG. Kempner wrote, produced and directed the documentary chronicling the life and career of Gertrude Berg. The review is at

YOO-HOO, MRS. GOLDBERG has now come to DVD, released August 24, 2010. The DVD has the 92-minute film, of course, and it has with it a set of additional special features.

Kempner does a running commentary of the film. She follows along with the film broadening and expanding on the material with historic detail about Berg, the other actors, the writing of the show, the conflicts with the black list, etc. A trailer for the film follows the film and commentary.

The second disk has interview segments of people involved with the TV series and their families and fans. These pieces, generally about 1-5 minutes in length, probably total to more than the length of the film. These segments are not really a whole lot different from the interview segments used in the film. Some of the actors of the series are still alive and appear before the cameras. These constitute a collection of somewhat scattershot details, but they give a fuller picture. There is, however, some overlap among the film, the commentary, and the interviews. Expect to hear some stories two or even three times.

My first viewing of YOO-HOO left me somewhat anxious to see episodes of the original program. The film had several short excerpts from the TV series, but, of course, it could not have entire episodes. The DVD comes with three thirty-minute TV episodes, and a thirty-minute radio segment. For those who wish to see or hear more of the episodes, I have created a link to's collection of show material for those who have download facilities. Go to and follow the links from there. There is also a link to the recording of an interview of Aviva Kemper for New York's WBAI radio station.

Included on the DVD also are recordings of three very different appearances Gertrude Berg from other television programs. There is also some material about Aviva Kemper herself. In all it makes a very nice supplement to a very engrossing documentary. The DVD is being released by Docurama Films. [-mrl]

MY DOG TULIP (film review by Mark R. Leeper):

CAPSULE: This film may sound at first like MARLEY & ME set in England. However, it probably is not a film you will want to take your children to. Like that film, this film is about a man's relationship with a difficult dog. Much of the relationship is about the dog's excretion of wastes and of the anatomy from which they come. To give you and idea, the film has a song and the title tells a lot: "You Smell My Ass, I Smell Yours". The story is often engaging, but do not expect the charm of most dog stories. Rating: 0 (-4 to +4) or 4/10

I have always been fond of dogs and of stories about dogs. So when I was offered a chance to review prior to its release MY DOG TULIP, an animated film about a man's relationship with his dog, I was quite anxious to do so. I knew that the story was about a man who late in life adopted and abused dog and how he had some problems getting the dog to behave. The plot seemed similar to that of John Grogan's book MARLEY & ME and the film of the same title adapted from that book. Both Marley and Tulip were neurotic dogs who have a hard time adapting to their families. In both cases the humans and the canine have to compromise to get along. I thought the films would have similar appeal, and MY DOG TULIP would be a good family film. The fact that MY DOG TULIP is an animated film makes it more likely to be family fare. That is not true.

MY DOG TULIP is based on a novel by J.R. Ackerley, who also happens to be the main character. Well, let me be clear about this. If there is appeal in MY DOG TULIP it is something the viewer must find for him/herself. Tulip is an irritating loud-barking Alsatian and her master is ignorant of how to raise a dog and to not inflict the dog's bad habits on other people. Most of Ackerley's reminiscences of his dog seem to be related to defecation, urination, and other bodily functions. Tulip is a hard dog to like and Ackerley is a hard human to like. Admittedly when Ackerley adopted Tulip she was eighteen months old and had been abused for much of those eighteen months. She was left alone all day in a too-small fenced-in area. If the dog did anything to alleviate the boredom she was usually punished. As I said, this is probably not a film for the whole family. As a result, Tulip is insecure and feels she has to be over-protective of her new master. That master, Ackerley (voiced by Christopher Plummer, mostly in narration), allows the dog to befoul sidewalks--at least once in front of a grocery--and does not properly clean up. Perhaps I was wrong to expect appeal from the film, but I still think there should have been some charm.

Much of the film is about Ackerley's attempts to breed Tulip. But after all the effort he of necessity is ready to kill the puppies. Surely this plan could have been better considered. That would not be bad if balanced with stories of things that the dog did that were endearing or cute, but there is little that is endearing or cute that Ackerley ever sees in Tulip. It perhaps says something of Ackerley's state of mind that he has no anecdotes that explain his love for the dog. We just infer that he is getting old and would be lonely without the troublesome Tulip. Ackerley is just too self-absorbed to make a good owner for Tulip.

The film is directed and the screenplay written by Czech-born Paul and Sandra Fierlinger. The animation and artwork are very nicely done shifting among four art styles. There are realistic scenes to show Ackerley in the present writing his story; flatter simpler drawings represent his memories; black and white line art is used to show his more distant memories; and his more imaginative thoughts are look like scribbles on a yell notepad. The jazz score is initially a bit oppressive, but calms down later. At its most interesting the film is illuminated by some philosophizing about what a dog sees and thinks.

It is rare that one sees a film that takes so realistic a look at dog ownership, but this film is strong stuff and will be selective in its appeal. I would rate MY DOG TULIP a 0 on the -4 to +4 scale or 4/10.

Film Credits:

What others are saying:


Fort Collins (letters of comment by Kip Williams and Keith Lynch):

In response to Joe Karpierz's review of THE STONEHENGE GATE in the 08/27/10 issue of the MT VOID, Kip Williams writes:

My metaphorical ears perked up when you mentioned Fort Collins, my true home town. To tie it in with science fiction, I was working in a comic shop there when L. Neil Smith came by. I think I might have already read THE PROBABILITY BROACH and enjoyed it (I was trending towards libertarian in those days), and we got to talking about maybe collaborating on a libertarian SF comic. But he never came back.

One reason I read his first book (and, I think, the second as well) is that it started out in Fort Collins, though it soon switched over to an alternate-world version of it that I found less interesting. I couldn't see my house from there. [-kw]

Keith Lynch responds, "Of course not. Since the branch point was in the 1780s, your house certainly wouldn't exist in the other timeline unless it was built before then, which, in Colorado, isn't very likely." [-kfl]

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

TWILIGHT AT THE WORLD OF TOMORROW: GENIUS, MADNESS, MURDER, AND THE 1939 WORLD'S FAIR ON THE BRINK OF WAR by James Mauro (ISBN 0-345- 51214-6) covers a lot of material that other World's Fair historians seem to have overlooked. For example, considering the amount of material written about the 1939 New York World's Fair, I was surprised to discover that there was a terrorist bomb planted in the British Pavilion on July 4, 1940, that exploded when it was discovered and removed, killing two policemen. You would think that all the various articles, books, plays, and so on might have mentioned it.

Mauro spends most of the book, in fact, talking about things other people haven't covered much. Other people write about all the "World of Tomorrow" science and technology exhibits, but Mauro spends more time talking about the various countries' pavilions. There was no Germany pavilion, for example, and the Austria and Czechoslovakia pavilions had the dubious distinction of being country pavilions without a country by the time they opened. And the staff of those pavilions, as well as of the Poland pavilion, apparently ended up as refugees when the fair closed in 1940, as they had no desire to return to their homelands.

Mauro also talks about the financial aspects a *lot*. Between escalating costs and disappointing attendance, the Fair lost money. (Actually, this seems to be true of most World's Fairs.) The profits were supposed to go into developing Flushing Meadows into a park after the Fair; that never happened. Oh, and about the Trylon and Perisphere: people often ask why they were torn down. The answer is simple: There was a war on and they and most of the rest of the iron on the site (20,000 tons total, with 4000 tons from the Tryon and Perisphere alone) went for the war effort. [-ecl] Mark Leeper

                                          Mark Leeper

Quote of the Week:

           Satire is a sort of glass, wherein beholders do 
           generally discover everybody's face but their own.
                                          -- Jonathan Swift, 
                                             The Battle of the Books

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