Written by Fred Patten, and intended for Apa L, 2141st Distribution, LASFS Meeting No. 3589, May 25, 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 #2624|
Michael Burlake took me to last week's LASFS meeting. Kay Shapero brought me the s-f juvenile novels by Alexander Key that I had reserved online from the Los Angeles Public Library. The LAPL had sent them very quickly from the Central Library downtown to the Mar Vista Branch near Kay's home. I guess that these had just been gathering dust on the Children's Room shelves, and that nobody is interested in Alexander Key's s-f today. Too bad patrons could not request books online from throughout the library system thirty years ago, or I would have read Key's books then.
The LASFS program was a couple of amateur Star Wars fan films made by Alan Sanborn & friends, which had been so popular when they were shown at (LaLaCon? CaliFur? I don't remember which was named) that Sanborn was asked to bring them to the LASFS. We only had time to see the first, Indoctrination (about 16 minutes), before we had to return to the hospital; the second, Man of Tatooine, was announced as almost an hour long. Indoctrination (three Star War fans brainwash someone who has never heard of the movies by singing their complete history) is amusing but twice as long as it should be; it needs editing badly.
On Saturday, Michael Burlake took me to the May Cartoon/Fantasy Organization meeting, which was also its 29th anniversary party. It was not the C/FO's biggest celebration ever (the attendance was 20+), but there was enough barbecued chicken, hamburgers, and hot dogs to fill everybody up. I also ate about half of a large platter of sushi rolls. Mitch Beiro and Tony Victorino both attended from Arizona (they came separately). We saw Eden's Bowy #8, Negadon: The Monster from Mars, Mobile Suit Gundam: MS IGLOO: The Hidden One Year War, Wild Arms: Twilight Venom #5 & #6, and Samurai Deeper Kyo #5 & #6 in the afternoon; had the Business Meeting followed by a gathering outside for a group photo around our 29th anniversary cake (an extra-thick double-layer chocolate cake with raspberry filling, made by "Red" Baron's sister), and the serving & eating of the cake (yum!); and then the animated but non-anime feature: Hoodwinked!
Negadon and Gundam: MS IGLOO were interesting recent computer graphics productions. Negadon was most interesting as a complete Japanese 1950s-'60s style live-action giant-monster 25-minute movie produced by primarily one guy on his computer. It made Alan Sanborn's amateur movies look rather sickly, although Negadon's Jun Awazu spent almost three years making his award-winning film. (Donald Cassel: "That's why Japanese anime fans never get laid; they spend all their time on their computers making home movies!") The 27-minute MS IGLOO featurette was an interesting look at a part of the Gundam saga glossed over before now (the beginning of the One Year War; the original Gundam 1979-'80 TV series started in the midst of the War), presumably made to get the Sunrise animation staff some experience in Final Fantasy/Matrix-level CGI production. Both were impressive as examples of how far CGI production has advanced just in the last couple of years.
I was happy to see Hoodwinked! on the LASFS' Big Screen since I was in the hospital at the time of ASIFA-Hollywood's free screening for members last December. I agreed with most of the reviews of it that I have seen. It has really ugly character designs, and the bad CGI animation looks like mid-1980s state of the art. The animals like the wolf, bear and rabbit look more like CGI imitations of the cloth of Jim Henson's Muppets than like fur. But the story and dialogue are very witty. There are several times in the movie where adult audience laughter and applause drown out the following dialogue; and I do not recall any fart or poop jokes for children. The characters move too fast to dwell on how bad they look, and the action is well-choreographed to make the best of the primitive CGI. For a first work by a studio that was created in Manila just to make this movie, it is not bad. It has already been announced that a sequel is in production, so let's hope that the Weinsteins' D/A2 Studio (Digital Arts Asia) studio's CGI animation quality will have improved by then.
"According to Variety, The Weinstein Co. and Kanbar Entertainment are going back to the drawing board together as they'll team on a sequel to their current CG-animated release Hoodwinked, to be dubbed Hood vs. Evil.
The new installment in the franchise will find a teen Red training in a distant land with a mysterious, covert group called Sisters of the Hood. She is then called upon by Nicky Flippers -- head of the Happily Ever After Agency -- who teams her with the Wolf to investigate the disappearance of Hansel and Gretel. The character of Granny, and the rest of the Hoodwinked gang, also return and are joined by new characters.
Hoodwinked also includes voice talent of Glenn Close, Jim Belushi, Patrick Warburton, Anthony Anderson and rapper Xzibit. Producer Maurice Kanbar said he expects most of the cast to return.
Hood vs. Evil is being penned and directed by Hoodwinked creative troika Cory Edwards, Todd Edwards and Tony Leech.
Producers said they are reviewing scripts for the new pic, which, like Hoodwinked, will be created in Manila. Weinstein added that he sees the franchise potentially going for two additional pics."
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The Forgotten Door, by Alexander Key. Philadelphia, The Westminster Press, 1965, 126 pages.
"It happened so quickly, so unexpectedly, that Little Jon's cry was almost instantly cut short as the blackness closed over him. No one knew the hole was there. It hadn't been there the day before, and in the twilight no one had noticed it.
Little Jon, whose eyes were quicker than most, should have seen the hole, but all his attention was on the stars. Small for his age, he had moved away from the rest for a better view, and as he stepped backward, there was suddenly nothing under his feet.
It was astonishing at that moment to find himself falling swiftly into the hill at a spot where he had walked safely all his life. But in the brief seconds before the blackness swallowed him, he realized what must have happened: there had been a cave-in over the old Door - the Door that led to another place, the one that had been closed so long." (pages 11 - 12)
Little Jon falls through a dimensional rift to the Smoky Mountains somewhere near Atlanta. Although Key keeps his story full of s-f terminology, the allegory is clear: Little Jon has "fallen down" from some higher world to our Earth. He has amnesia, but he seems to understand and speak English immediately. He can communicate with animals who sense that he is their friend; he refuses to eat meat or tell lies; despite looking like a small boy, he has extraordinary strength; he can sense evil and read minds; etc., etc. He is befriended by the kindly family of Thomas Bean, a crippled ex-Marine officer who he senses is good; but to the others in the Georgia community his strangeness makes him a focus of fear. He is blamed for all the juvenile delinquency in the area, denounced as "demonic" and sensationalized in the press as a freak Wild/Mystery Boy from Mars; the Beans' home is vandalized and they are threatened with arrest; officious Welfare bureaucrats demand to take him from the Beans and institutionalize him "for his own good"; and a colonel from Washington tries to force him to use his powers for national security. At the last moment Little Jon's world reactivates to Door to take him home, along with rescuing the Bean family (who have shown themselves to be the only humans worthy of living in Little Jon's better world) from their hate-filled neighbors.
If the movie Forbidden Planet was inspired by Shakespeare's The Tempest, and the Japanese creator of Gigantor insisted on sharing credit with Mary Shelley for inspiring him with her Frankenstein, it seems impossible to miss the parallels between The Forgotten Door and the Biblical story of Noah and his family. One wonders what is supposed to have happened around the Smoky Mountains or to humans in general after the rescue of the Beans to the better world.
The biography of Key (1904 - 1979) in The Forgotten Door says that he was a prominent book and magazine illustrator for the Saturday Evening Post, Argosy, and others before becoming a writer of juvenile novels. He grew up in Florida, and at this time lived in the Great Smoky Mountain range. No particular religious interest is mentioned. (However, The Westminster Press, which published most of Key's s-f, was a Christian publishing company that specialized in theological works. It apparently merged with The John Knox Press in Louisville sometime after Key's death.)
The Magic Meadow, by Alexander Key. Philadelphia, The Westminster Press, 1975, 124 pages.
This is mostly a reversal of The Forgotten Door in that it sends five hospitalized children and their nurse to a mysterious "better world". Brick, Diz Dobie, Charlie Pill, Lily Rose, and Princess are all paralyzed or otherwise bedridden children in Ward Nine in a hospital so run-down that it was condemned five years earlier, but has been kept open because the city's other hospitals are too crowded to accept its patients. The five children and a single nurse, Nurse Jackson, a Black woman from Alabama, have become friends and share a "traveling game" where they discuss some idyllic imaginary world where they can all go together. Suddenly Brick becomes able to actually teleport there, just as the city's health bureaucrats are actually closing the hospital.
The novel is in two main parts: Brick's efforts to teleport the other children and Nurse Jackson one at a time to the other place before they are separated, and Nurse Jackson is fired or arrested for refusing to follow the hospital's inhuman regulations; and trying to figure out where their "magic meadow" really is.
"'You still believe we're in Alabama?'
'Well, it could be Mississippi or Georgia, or somewhere in the Carolinas or Virginia.' Suddenly she pointed. 'See that tree yonder? That's a sassafrass. I know, because when I was a little girl I used to dig the roots of one of those trees so we could make tea. Brick, the only place you'll find a sassafrass tree is in America. It's the same with those big pines behind us. They're what we call yellow pines, and the only place they grow is in the South. You see? So we're bound to be in one of the states I mentioned. But why is the time different?'" (page 88)
Again, although Key keeps the story within traditional s-f technological parameters, with lots of debating about another planet, time travel, a parallel dimension, etc,, it is hard to miss what this idyllic place, where all the wild animals are friendly, the children begin immediately to recover their health, they discover a "hunting camp" empty of people but well-stocked with non-meat food and whatever tools they need, really is supposed to be.
In this book's dust-jacket biography, Key is said to live with his family in the North Carolina range of the Great Smoky Mountains, and that The Forgotten Door was the winner of The Lewis Carroll Shelf Award.
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-- Comments on Last Week's Distribution:
Godzilla Verses #88 - (DeChancie) If the LaLaCon's maximum attendance is 150, I agree that only 40 preregistrations is a low starting point. What was the actual attendance? What pre-publicity was there, besides announcements at the regular LASFS meetings that were only heard by current LASFS attendees?
Vanamonde #678 - (Hertz) Bĵo Trimble recommended Heyer's Regency romances to me during the 1960s, and loaned me her own copies. I enjoyed them, but after so many years I no longer remember characters' names or which plots went with which titles. I do remember that they were not all humorous, although so many were that the serious dramas stood out as a deliberate change of pace. I preferred Heyer's modern (l930s & 1940s) country house murder mysteries. ## For some reason, your query about a National S-F Week reminds me of the proposal at the 1998 Worldcon to get the U.S. Postal Service to create postage stamps for notable deceased s-f authors: Gernsback, ERB, Campbell, Heinlein, others. This was at the time the Postal Service was issuing stamps for famous 20th century American composers like Irving Berlin, singers like Bing Crosby, bandleaders like Benny Goodman, movie comedians like Laurel & Hardy, etc. Bucconeer was supposed to take the top-polling s-f authors among the con's attendees and forward the recommendation to the department of the Postal Service that plans new stamp designs. Did it? I never heard a follow-up to this, but obviously no such stamps ever appeared.
De Jueves #1479 - (Moffatt) There was not an elevator in the Burbank Board of Realtors building during the twenty+ years that I attended CAPS meetings there before my stroke, so I doubt that there is one hidden there now. ## Mockingbirds are so feisty that it is hard to imagine them being driven away by crows. I have often seen a mockingbird or a pair of them attacking a crow over twice as large as they were, presumably driving it away from their nest. ## "Drink your beer before it gets cold." René Goscinny was a superb humorist. None of the cartoon series continued by other writers after his death (Asterix, Lucky Luke, le Grand Vizier Iznogoud, etc.) were as funny, even if the art by the same cartoonists was unchanged.
Toodequirtle #12 - (Castora) I remember that Van Heflin's final role (he was obviously dying when he made it), as a Senator in the 1971 TV movie The Last Child, was reviled at the LASFS as an insultingly bad s-f movie (a diatribe against Zero Population Growth, with a futuristic Population Gestapo persecuting anyone who did not practice birth control) and a tragedy that this would be remembered as Heflin's final film. ## It is hard to imagine crows withdrawing from any area that they have settled into. ## In the early days of anime fandom, around the late 1970s or early 1980s, I got a Japanese novelty LP recording of a medley of giant monster-movie music titled Godzilla Stomp. ## What is the similarity between Pittsburgh and the LASFS? Both have black and gold as their official colors. I told you this when I was trying to get the LASFS to adopt a club flag in the 1970s. I was reminded of it by a new book at the library that I just checked out, American City Flags. 150 flags from Akron to Yonkers, by John M. Purcell (NAVA, 2003), which includes the black-&-yellow Pittsburgh city flag. ## Ron Hubbard used to be one of my favorite s-f authors, but I never bothered trying to find any of his Westerns or soldier-of-fortune or aviation or sea adventure or other non-s-f stories.
Fish Out of Water #171 - (Helgesen) It has been so many years since I searched for North American libraries that had Robert van Genechten's Van den vos Reynaerde, Ruwaard Boudewijn en Jodocus, and finally got a copy of the 1941 book for myself from a Rotterdam antiquarian book dealer, that I no longer remember the details of how I searched for it. But if I had found any cross-references, I am sure that I would have checked them out. I did find enough authors' names starting with "van" in every library system I remember checking that I probably did not think to also look under "Genechten, van". And I did find enough entries for "van Genechten" in the UCLA Research Library's copies of the national catalogues of the British, French, Dutch and German libraries to be sure that Van den vos Reynaerde was the only fiction that he ever wrote; all his other works were National Socialist political tracts. In any case, once I got my own copy of the book (which I never got around to trying to translate into English), I lost interest in trying to find it in libraries.
Nightmare, With Hysteresis Loss* -- (Gold) Thanks very much for extending my Earthlink account for the next year, and for all your other continued work on my behalf. ## My "application for Medi-Cal seems to be still on track"? I am confused. I thought that my Medi-Cal application was superseded or merged into a Medicare application that was approved on my 65th birthday last December. I assume that the Golden State Colonial Convalescent Hospital is getting paid by someone for my care by now, or I would not still be getting care at the hospital's charges of $140.00 per day, for a year next month. ## The boom box radio is large enough that the only table in my room that it fits easily onto is in a position hard for me to reach in my wheelchair. Also, with only my left hand, it is easier to manipulate the volume controls than to find particular stations; so it is easiest to just leave it set on KMZT. ## No, I did not mention my Variety telephone interview to the hospital staff. I will show them the article if Variety sends me a copy. The reporter took my address and promised to ask to have a copy of the issue it appears in sent to me; but I never got a copy of my previous interview - though I do not know if it was actually published. ## The 1990s are considered old-fashioned by the current generation of TV and movie executives. ## If the small black birds had golden eyes, they were male Brewer's blackbirds. The females are a dull brown. I remember when you & Barry took me home from the Daniel Freeman Hospital when I had pneumonia in January 2005, and we stopped at the supermarket, a pair of blackbirds that were nesting in the tree we parked under threatened us. Blackbirds threaten by hovering over your head and kicking at your hair, instead of pecking like most birds. Crows are solid black and are over twice as large as blackbirds, and ravens are even bigger. ## When I was a child (or maybe later; I lived in my parents' house on Chesley Avenue from when I was born until I was 24), mourning doves usually nested right outside my bedroom window. It was "COO, coo, coo, COO, coo, coo, COO, coo, coo" morning, noon and night for years. Mockingbirds' songs are always changing after a few bars to include as large a variety as the birds can remember. Mockingbirds have famously begun imitating car alarms and cel phones in recent years.