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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society 07/30/21 -- Vol. 40, No. 5, Whole Number 2182
Table of Contents
Science Fiction (and Other) Discussion Groups, Films, Lectures, etc. (NJ):
Both groups have returned to the B.C. (Before Covid) schedules, and the films will be shown as part of the Middletown meetings.
August 5 (MTPL), 5:00PM: A SCANNER DARKLY (2006) & novel by Philip K. Dick (1977) movie: DVD MTPL; rent on PrimeVideo, Vudu, YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKtyfjFcvSA book: https://www.hoopladigital.com/title/12325569 September 23 (OBPL), 7:00PM: THE FOOD OF THE GODS by H. G. Wells
My Picks for Turner Classic Movies for August (comments by Mark R. Leeper):
George Pal made an indelible contribution to the early science fiction and fantasy films. His DESTINATION MOON really was the first of the 1950s science fiction films. Then he produced WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE, a spectacular science fiction film with scenes of worldwide destruction. Subsequently he produced two films based on the novels of first the classics of science fiction literature: WAR OF THE WORLDS and THE TIME MACHINE. Those were the highlights of his career. Sadly, though he produced several more science fiction films and fantasy with very different styles none got the attention it really deserved. One such failed experiment that just failed to click was the film 7 FACES OF DR. LAO, based on THE CIRCUS OF DR LAO by Charles G. Finney. Each of the faces is portrayed by Tony Randall from before his "Odd Couple" days.
7 FACES OF DR. LAO is the centerpiece of Turner Classic Movies' celebration on August 26 of the 101st anniversary of Tony Randall's birth.
[7 FACES OF DR. LAO (1964), August 26, 8:00PM]
Giant Goldfish and Moonfish, As Well As Rogue Oysters and Acid-Shooting Land Lobsters
Giant goldfish problem in US lake prompts warning to pet owners
"A city in the US state of Minnesota has urged residents not to release their unwanted pet fish into the wild after finding huge goldfish in a lake. The common household pets can grow far bigger in the wild and cause major disruption to ecosystems. ... Large goldfish have been found in the UK's wild waters as well. In 2010, a British teenager pulled a 5-lb (2.2-kg), 16-in fish from a lake in Dorset."
Did anybody notice the tie-in with 7 FACES OF DR. LAO, discussed earlier in this issue? [-mrl]
Massive and mysterious, a 100-pound fish washed ashore
"Officials at Seaside Aquarium were alerted early Wednesday to a rare scene on the sands of the northern Oregon coast: A large, round, glistening opah weighing 100 pounds had stranded ashore."
Rogue oysters threaten to disrupt Tokyo Olympics after officials shelled out $1 million for repairs
"An infestation first came to light during a trial event in 2019, shortly after the venue was created. Equipment floating in the water suddenly began to sink, prompting crews to investigate what was weighing them down."
Acid-shooting 'land lobsters' live in Texas and are being spotted more after recent rains
GIRL IN THE BASEMENT (2021) (film review by Art Stadlin):
Thrillers is a category that can be fun and, well, thrilling. So I watched this one with excitement, anticipating something a little different and perhaps innovative. I also like documentaries, so I liked the note in the opening credits about this being based on true events. [SPOILER ALERT]
Sadly, I cannot recommend this movie. While the acting was competent, the particulars of the story just didn't seem plausible. I'm not talking technical flaws; those were covered right down to the intricacies of the locks on the double-door and the ventilation system in this basement bomb shelter. What I found flawed was the idea that a man could hold his teenage daughter captive in a basement for *twenty* years without getting caught.
Compounding my disbelief: daughter gives birth to four of dad's children. Two survive to themselves become teenagers growing up their entire lives in a windowless basement, one is stillborn, and another is moved upstairs to be raised by the wife who has no idea what her husband does with all those hours in the basement. I would think someone would simply snap.
Two escape attempts in twenty years both fail. And they fail in a way that only dad knows they were attempted, so he doubles down on his punishments. As if dad is not far enough along in his delusional state, things are not going well for him at work and he gets laid off, which triggers the stress of having no money and a pending foreclosure on the house. He realizes, twenty years too late, that he made some bad choices in life.
This may have been a made-for-Lifetime movie, based on something that flew by in the credits. Also, there were periodic "fade-to- black" cuts that seemed perfect for those commercial interruptions. The made-for-TV aspect would explain why this came together for the happiest ending possible, given the circumstances.
While this may have been based on true events, I certainly hope the real story was not nearly as long and horrific as this movie. [-as]
[Yes, it was a made-for-Lifetime movie. And though it may seem implausible, it is a true story; see https://decider.com/2021/03/02/lifetime-girl-in-the-basement-true-story/> for details. -ecl]
Bond Songs (letters of comment by Lax Madapaty, Pete Rubinstein, Sam Long, and John Purcell):
In response to Mark's comments on James Bond songs in the 07/23/21 issue of the MT VOID, Lax Madapaty writes:
The Connery Bond pictures have aged badly and the songs sound like s**t. Horrible, horrible set of early Bond pictures. The first legitimate Bond picture is ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE and I may be in the minority opinion that if Sean Connery was cast in it, it'd have been a horrible misfire. Lazenby brought a wonderful sense of vulnerability to the role and Diana Rigg truly was the first strong Bond woman. John Barry's score to this day (leave out that stupid Xmas song by the kids) raises goosebumps in me and it is quite a head-spinning song by Armstrong.
The Moore films were silly but entertaining and the worst are the Brosnan pictures trying to be and do everything to everyone.
Dalton and Craig are the *best* Bonds, the *only* true Bonds. Every one of their pictures is astonishing. I am eagerly awaiting Oct 7th night when I can say goodbye to Craig's Bond with tear- filled eyes in my local IMAX theater at the Bullock Museum. [-lm]
I agree about the aging. The whole plot of THUNDERBALL is driven by luck and coincidence. One can say much the same of GOLDFINGER. The atmosphere of the early Bond films is still fun, but the films do not really work. But I wanted to discuss the early Bond films more.
Re ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE: It depends on what you mean by "legitimate". A legit James Bond could be a small mousy man who could fade into a crowd. He would look like Hoagy Charmichael. He could be frightened.
You say, "Dalton and Craig are the *best* Bonds the *only* true Bonds." Agreed. Possible exception: Hoagy Carmichael [-mrl]
Two of Ian Fleming's "James Bond" novels (CASINO RPYALE and MOONRAKER) compare Bond's looks to those of Hoagy Carmichael. [-ecl]
Pete Rubinstein writes:
With respect to that "unnamed" James Bond theme, I came across this interesting bit about where it came from:
There is much discussion/controversy about who "wrote" the James Bond theme; see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monty_Norman#James_Bond_Theme>.
Sam Long writes:
It has long been noted that the first few notes of the theme song of the film GOLDFINGER , composed by John Barry, are almost the same as those of the song "Moon River", composed three years earlier by Henry Mancini, with words by Johnny Mercer. The Wikipedia article about the GOLDFINGER song states that lyricists "Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley were asked to create the lyrics for the song. But when its composer John Barry played them the first three notes, Bricusse and Newley looked at each other and sang out: "... wider than a mile," to the melody of "Moon River," the popular theme song from [the 1961 film] BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S. Barry was not amused." Apparently the actor Michael Caine, a friend of Barry's, also noted the similarity of the opening about the same time. The GOLDFINGER song became a big hit for Shirley Bassey, who sang it for the film. (Here in central Illinois, we--or at least I-- tend to think of "Moon River" (sung by Audrey Hepburn in the movie) as "Spoon River, / Wider than a kilometer--uh, mile...."). The "turbid" Spoon River is a tributary of the Illinois River that was made famous by Edgar Lee Masters in his Spoon River Anthology. [-sl]
There are only so many three-note combinations to start a melody. The question is how often should this sort of thing happen. [-mrl]
Most songs are apparently within an octave and a third (or 16 notes, counting sharps and flats). So that would be 4096 combinations, and obviously not all of them would be used in any case. [-ecl]
John Purcell writes:
Ah, you start this issue off by discussing Bond movie songs. I have always liked these opening credits songs, even when many of them totally miss the mark. Most of them serve only as an audio backdrop for scantily-clad (at best) females that flit and float in a murky, cloudy, or curtained background to catch the viewer's interest. As far as this intent goes, they're okay, but I do have some personal favorites from this series. In no particular order, some of these include "All Time High" (from OCTOPUSSY--horrid movie title!), "Tomorrow Never Dies" (movie of the same title), and "Goldfinger" to me is still the standard that set the tone for these songs.
Not much else to add here, but I have to say that the best part of this issue were the letters and how they were edited to create an interesting and fun narrative. Nicely done.
With that, off to finish making dinner--mostly homemade gluten free pizza--and get onto more reading tonight while the Summer Olympics are on the television. Either that or we will be watching the Houston Astros baseball game. I forget who they're playing tonight, but they are playing well this season (first place in their division) and that makes it fun to watch. [-jp]
Alphabetizing (letters of comment by Paul Dormer and Lowell Gilbert):
In response to Evelyn's comments on alphabetizing in the 07/23/21 issue of the MT VOID, Paul Dormer writes:
Reminds me that in the World Cinema section of the big Virgin shop in Oxford Street in London, they had DER GOLEM in the D section and LA DOLCE VITA in the L section. But someone on here told me that that is standard practice for foreign titles. [-pd]
Lowell Gilbert responds:
I would expect so. You're clearly going to violate the expectations of a fair number of customers no matter what you do. [-lg]
All the more reason to do it right, which is that all leading articles are ignored. [-ecl]
This Week's Reading (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper):
WINTER TIDE by Ruthanna Emrys (Tor, ISBN 978-0-7653-9090-5) is yet another re-imagining of the Cthulhu Mythos, this time revealing how H. P. Lovecraft got it all wrong in his depiction of all these other races as dangerous, threatening, and malevolent. And it's a brilliant idea, because it echoes how H. P. Lovecraft got it all wrong in his belief that all the other (i.e., non-white) races on Earth are dangerous, threatening, and malevolent. Seanan McGuire compares it to Gregory Maguire's WICKED and it's an apt comparison, though WICKED is set in a fantasy world and WINTER TIDE is set in an alternate America with fantasy.
The plot involves the government trying to get the secret of how to inhabit other bodies, while making sure the Russians cannot do so. This brings several government agents into contact with the last remaining people from Innsmouth (the rest were either killed in the raid on Innsmouth twenty years earlier, or died in the internment/concentration camps they were sent to). The survivors of Innsmouth in turn are trying to recover the books that were stolen from them in the raid and rebuild Innsmouth. Some of the other humans are trying to learn the magical secrets of the various other species.
Emrys does seem to hit most of the obvious diversity points. In addition to several non-human species and human sub-species, she has white, Black, and East Asian characters, as well as multiple LGBTQ characters, and a Jew.
(And the Jew gives what I think is the attitude of most Jews in the United States was in the time of the novel (the late 1940s): "Israel is building on a myth. I'm not against myths, and I'm glad it's there, but the home of *my* people is New York--a place that wanted us and took us in and where we can live in safety. I'm American, even if some people don't want to think of me that way. Like I said, we build where we can, even it might not be safe forever.")
This book is a sequel to "The Litany of Earth", which appeared on tor.com (and is still available there). In turn, it has a sequel, DEEP ROOTS. [-ecl]
Mark Leeper firstname.lastname@example.org Quote of the Week: Mathematics is a game played according to certain simple rules with meaningless marks on paper. --David HilbertTweet
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