Written by Fred Patten, and intended for Apa L, 2133rd Distribution, LASFS Meeting No. 3581, March 30, 2006.
Golden State Colonial Convalescent Hospital, 10830 Oxnard Street, North Hollywood, California 91606-5098.
Telephone: hospital(818) 763-8247; personal (818) 506-3159 * eMail:firstname.lastname@example.org
|L.A.con IV in 2006!||Nippon 2007 in 2007!||Salamander Press #2616|
Last Tuesday, SBC reconnected my telephone line and restored my Internet access. The repairman determined that it was the phone company's fault that I had been disconnected, so I ended up not being charged anything for the repairs.
On Thursday. Michael Burlake brought me to the LASFS meeting although his van started idling very roughly during the drive there. The big news of the meeting was the death of LASFan John Arruda of a heart attack a day or two earlier. Since there was no official program, there was an impromptu memorial/wake for him as soon as the meeting ended. Burlake warned me that he would get his van repaired during the weekend, so he would not be able to take me to any of the weekend events at Freehafer Hall.
On Friday, I got a notification from Dan Persons, the TV producer who video-interviewed me in December for an anime documentary, that his production is now out:
At last, "ANIME in the USA" is up on the IFC website. You have to work a bit to get to it, but here are the directions:
Go to ifc.com (or, if for some reason you have trouble bringing that page up, try ifc.com/news); and click on "UNCUT ON DEMAND" at the top of the page. Once the viewer pops up, click on pause to stop the startlingly loud promo clip, click on "SERIES" on the right, then click on "SAMURAI 7." The two eps should be at the very top of the list. You're in "Tapes from the Underground," but be sure to check out "Eisenstein-Sensei" as well.
Once again, thanks for helping to make this a reality. Enjoy!
Unfortunately, this takes longer to load onto my computer than I have the patience for, so I have not seen it yet. If someone who has a faster computer connection would like to watch & review this, I would appreciate it.
|- o0o -||- o0o -||- o0o -||- o0o -|
Xanthan Gumm, by Robin Reed, ?, Barstow Productions, February 2006, trade paperback 235 pages, $14.95; ISBN: 1-59113-899-X. e.book, $6.95.
A couple of weeks ago I promised to read & review this novel. I am going to renege on that promise, at least the part about reading the whole novel, because I cannot force myself to read past Chapter 4; page 16. There have been previous farcical s-f short stories & novels about real outer-space aliens disguising themselves as humans and getting jobs in Hollywood acting in "sci-fi" movies, such as Ron Goulart's Skyrocket Steele. They are to Xanthan Gumm as an eye-poking Three Stooges comedy is to a guy dancing on a table with a lampshade over his head and calling himself a comedian.
To quote the novel's blurb:
Earth - the forbidden planet! Where strange beings called humans toil endlessly, creating the stories loved throughout Galactic Civilization. Stories collectively called The Movies.
One brave soul dares to go there. He has a dream. He wants to be a Movie Star like his hero, E.T.
Xanthan Gumm is his name, and he has risked everything to be in The Movies and to meet the King of Earth - Steven Spielberg!
It is hard to criticize slapstick comedy for being too silly without leaving yourself open to the rebuttal that you are missing the point. But there should be something more to a funny story than a non-stop string of gags, like a bad stand-up comedian about to get the hook. If Xanthan Gumm were a TV show, you would not be able to hear its dialogue under the constant roar of its canned laugh track.
Xanthan Gumm, a humanoid alien "just under one devito tall" (cue laugh track) comes to the fringes of our Solar System from Galactic Center, almost 8,000 parsecs away, aboard the space cruiser "Kathie Lee" (cue laugh track). This is as close as galactic aliens are allowed to come to Earth. "It was absolutely forbidden to visit this planet or even its solar system. The only way to get at all close to it was to take a cruise ship that skimmed the planet's solar system, giving the cruise takers a vicarious thrill and allowing them to go home and tell their grandchildren that they had been within less than a light year of the forbidden planet called Earth." (cue laugh track). The reason that aliens travel so far just to skim Earth's solar system is that Earth is "The legendary planet where the natives had invented something that no one else, in all of the civilized planets, had ever dreamed of, something called The Movies." (cue laugh track). The whole galaxy is gaga over watching all of Earth's Movies, even though nothing else is known about Earth (cue laugh track). Xanthan Gumm is determined to not only get closer to Earth than the fringes of the solar system, but to actually visit Earth and star in The Movies like other aliens pretending to be human actors have done, such as Chewbacca, E.T., and Barry Manilow (cue laugh track). So Xanthan Gumm hides his personal single-occupant Glexo Nebula spaceship in the cruise ship's hold and blasts off from it to Earth (cue laugh track). Arriving somewhere near the Great Lakes, he zooms around places like Chicago and Gary, Indiana (cue laugh track) looking for Hollywood, flying so close to street level that he knocks off people's hats (cue laugh track), whereupon they rush to their phones to call NORAD or the Pentagon to report a Russian missile (cue laugh track) or a UFO. NORAD is useless because all its soldiers are too busy trying to figure out what NORAD stands for (cue laugh track), but the Pentagon is always ready to chase after UFOs (cue laugh track), so ....
I gave up here. Does Xanthan Gumm ever find Hollywood? I could not develop enough interest in the character or the situation to care. Actually, I think that Steven Spielberg already made this Movie, or one a lot like it except with a Japanese submarine instead of a UFO. It was called 1941. It didn't do all that well, either.
Robin Reed lives in Los Angeles. She is the Vice President of Barstow Productions, whose President is Chuck Barstow. There is no indication as to where Barstow Productions is located. The book is distributed by/for mail-order sale at Booklocker.com in Bangor, ME. It is also available from Amazon.com.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
-- Comments on Last Week's Distribution:
Vanamonde #671 - (Hertz) The Wizard of Oz movie's "There's no place like home!" should definitely be contrasted with Baum's permanent move to Oz of Dorothy, Toto, Uncle Henry and Auntie Em in The Emerald City of Oz. ## I remember an animated TV commercial around 1950 for Dr. Ross Dog Food, showing a cartoon dog barking ("Fido knows best - ARF1'), on the Crusader Rabbit program, and probably made by the same animation studio. During the 1950s a very UPAish, stylized Mickey Mouse advertised Nash Rambler automobiles in animated commercials on Disneyland/The Wonderful World of Disney. These were not really Product Placement, of course. The earliest product placement that I can recall was in Hanna-Barbera's Quick Draw McGraw TV series (1959-1966). Quick Draw, the horse sheriff, sometimes needed Snuffles, a bloodhound, to track the villain. But Snuffles would not work until he was bribed with a dog biscuit, and then he would go into a routine of exaggerated ecstasy (hugging himself and floating up off the ground) that wasted even more time (but saved on animation since it was the same stock scene each time). The dog biscuits that sent him off were not generic; they were visibly Gro-Pup T-Bone dog biscuits, which were made by Kellogg's Cereal Co., the program's sponsor, although the actual commercials on the program were for Kellogg's breakfast cereals. Sorry, but I have no information about Clark bar product placements. ## Millie's frequent boast of "I am invincible!" in the Ozy and Millie comic strip seems more likely to be her parroting of the popular catchphrase on T-shirts, etc., than a specific confusion between "invincible" and "invulnerable".
De Jueves #1471 - (Moffatt) My former hospital roommate died. My new roommate is a big improvement, from my viewpoint. He hardly talks at all (and only in Spanish) instead of demanding attention loudly all the time, and he only watches TV (Spanish-language channels) at reasonable hours and a reasonable volume instead of leaving the radio on country & Western music stations 24 hours a day. ## Donald Duck was frequently a parody of Everything Masculine. In fact, he may have been the first to boast, "I am invincible!", in the February 1944 Walt Disney's Comics & Stories story "The Duck in the Iron Pants" (a homemade suit of armor, to attack his nephews' snowball fort): "Nothing can save you from me! I am invincible! I AM DOOM ITSELF!". This story is sometimes cited today as the earliest of Carl Barks' "classics".
Godzillla Verses #80 - (DeChancie) Doom (but not Donald Duck in iron pants) is supposed to certainly come eventually, whether we live long enough to see it or not. See Wells' The Time Machine or Stapledon's Last and First Men, for examples. ## I agree that Grauman's Chinese Theater is not worth stopping at by itself, although just a couple of blocks away is the restored Egyptian Theater, and the two can easily be covered in one stop. Also in the same neighborhood is the L. Ron Hubbard Life Exhibition (museum) at 6331 Hollywood Blvd., which has enough material on his s-f career to be of interest to s-f fans. It is worth seeing if only to make one wish that the other great s-f authors of the 1940s like Heinlein, van Vogt, Sturgeon, Leinster, Kuttner, etc. had similar museums devoted to them.
Herewith, A Ticket For Travel On The Universal Serial Bus - (Cantor) I already explained why it was not possible for me to cast Hugo nominations, not having the required member's PIN number. But Schirm seems unlikely to receive enough nominations to get onto the final ballot because his art is seldom seen outside of Los Angeles, as far as I can tell. Occasional covers on Apa L are not enough. ## There is still a Bob's Big Boy restaurant at 4211 Riverside Drive in Burbank, according to Citysearch. There are probably others still in existence.
Toodequirtle #4 - (Castora) Some of these witness' replies seem as though they might be grounds for contempt of court charges, although all seem reasonably provoked. ## I am giving up the monthly CAPS meetings almost entirely because they are moving to a second floor meeting hall with only a steep staircase that it would take (probably) at least three people to carry me & my wheelchair up, to be able to continue to attend. If it were only that the meetings were changing from Tuesday to Thursday nights, I would probably attend some of them, depending upon what the scheduled programs of both clubs were. ## "A poor, unfortunate fir forest"? It might have been amusing to see what Mark Twain could have done with "Tomomatsu".
Fish Out of Water #163 - (Helgesen) I remember the hardcover Edgar Rice Burroughs Tarzan books in department store book departments in the 1950s. They also stocked the Nancy Drew series, the Hardy Boys series, and other series novels that the public libraries refused to carry. I spent my money on the Tom Corbett, Space Cadet novels by Carey Rockwell (Stand By For Mars!, Danger In Deep Space, etc.), and later, on Donald Wollheim's Mike Mars s-f juveniles. ## The point is not whether department stores still exist, which nobody questions, but whether they still have book departments; or whether they have all given those up due to the competition from the more extensive chain bookstores like B. Dalton and Waldenbooks in the same shopping malls.
I Kidnap Archangels - (Gold) Should the LASFS Library try to acquire a copy of that Dutch immigration test film, in English? It may not be s-f, but it certainly sounds full of a Sense of Wonder. ## Schirm refuses to get computerized (unless he has changed recently). You need to phone to contact him. ## I have been giving out by e.mail my new hospital address to everyone who is likely to send me anything by traditional mail. ## Keep in mind that the hospital reserves the right to move me back into one of the smaller rooms if necessary. If that happens, I would have to give up any large furniture like bookcases.