Written by Fred Patten, and intended for Apa L, 2197th Distribution, LASFS Meeting No. 3645, June 21, 2007.
Golden State Colonial Convalescent Hospital, 10830 Oxnard Street, North Hollywood, California 91606-5098.
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|Nippon 2007 in 2007!||Denvention 3 in 2008!||Salamander Press #2680|
Back during the 1970s when early anime fans could only watch blurry videos of untranslated Japanese TV cartoons, we occasionally sampled some of the live-action monster-of-the-week superhero programs as well. One of these was the 1973-1974 39-episode Super Robot: Red Baron (or Supa-Robotto: Redo Baron, to those who insisted on translating the title with the Japanese accent emphasized), featuring a giant robot who looked suspiciously like a bright red Gigantor, or a guy in a bright red giant-robot costume, waddling about downtown Tokyo fighting the evil army's monster-robots of the week. Like most of these live-action TV superhero shows, Red Baron had a kick-ass opening-credits theme song, and that was about all you could say for it. It was not one of the better TV series, in terms of TV actors who were playing dramatic roles but had a hard time keeping straight faces.
Coca Cola in Japan is currently running a series of TV commercials parodying Red Baron, opening with a cheesy special-effects sequence featuring a bright red Coke vending machine with a head and rubber-tentacle arms (Vending Machine: Vender) going through the same martial-arts moves, blasting off with its rocket legs, shooting rays from its eyes, and, a new addition, launching all its cans in a barrage at the off-camera adversary; then after a blatant cut to live footage, waddling off through the Tokyo crowds, waiting for a bus, looking suspiciously (as much as a Coke machine with a rigid face-mask can) at a flock of pigeons (Tokyo is full of outdoor vending machines, which the pigeons leave disgustingly messy), and so forth. Somebody has copied these onto YouTube, and I find them hilarious. I don't know how much this is due to the action alone, and how much to the nostalgia value to those familiar with the early men-in-rubber-suit TV live-action superhero shows of thirty years ago. Vender sure makes the LASFS' snazzy new vending machine look tame, though.
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I have recently written here about two new biographies of Walt Disney based on detailed study of his personal and studio records, Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination, by Neal Gabler, and The Animated Man: A Life of Walt Disney, by Michael Barrier. Both have gotten excellent reviews from animation scholars. You would think they ought to replace the sensationalistic and heavily criticized biographies of the previous forty years that emphasized how the kindly Uncle Walt of the Disneyland TV program was really a tyrannical anti-Semitic stooge of J. Edgar Hoover, etc.
But this does not seem to be happening. The Cartoon Brew website has just posted a review of Disney in Deutschland, a current play in San Francisco that purports to be a dramatization of a secret meeting between Disney and Adolf Hitler at Berchtesgaden in 1935. Disney congratulates Hitler for starting to control the Jews in Germany and boasts that he is similarly trying to undermine the Jews that run the Hollywood movie industry. Hitler convinces Disney to promise to build a replica of "Germania" in America someday, as a picture of Neuschwanstein castle in Bavaria, the acknowledged model for Sleeping Beauty's castle at Disneyland, is projected in the background.
"Currently playing in San Francisco is Disney In Deutschland, a new play by John J. Powers. It purports to recount a meeting between Uncle Walt and Der Fuehrer, face to face, with Leni Riefenstahl thrown in for good measure. It goes so far to suggest Disneyland was Adolf's idea! Calling Max Bialystock!"
As Barrier and others have pointed out, Disney hired Jewish artists and other studio employees throughout his career. Disney was flamboyantly anti-Communist, and arguably sexist (he insisted that women were not capable of animating and women job applicants were not allowed to even take the tests for animators, although Disney hired many as character designers, concept artists, and in other artistic positions); but nobody seemed to have noticed any particular signs of personal anti-Semitism during his lifetime (as opposed to the general prejudices of the period such as showing the Big Bad Wolf disguised as a Jewish peddler in the early 1930s, or using such slang as "jew down the price" of something). Disney's June - August 1935 vacation to Britain, France, Germany and Italy with brother Roy and their families, during which he did briefly meet Benito Mussolini and other Italian government notables (his visit to Rome was covered in newsreels) and bought lots of art-books for studio reference materials, is well-documented (see my 2000 review of Walt Disney and Europe, by Robin Allan, which is still online.), and has been generally credited with inspiring Disney's decision to set Pinocchio in a candybox Bavarian village instead of the Italianate town that would have been more appropriate to the original Italian story. But it has never been suggested that Disney met Hitler during this trip! Indeed, the play has to make it a "secret" meeting to explain why it was never mentioned in Disney's public itinerary along with his well-publicized meeting with Mussolini.
Cartoon Brew quotes animation expert Harry McCracken from his Harry-Go-Round website:
"As Mike [Barrier] pointed out, there's no evidence whatsoever that Disney ever met the Fuehrer. You wouldn't know that from the materials handed out at the performance, though. Actually, they suggest the opposite, without ever quite definitively stating that the meeting is known to have happened: "Goebbels may have insisted that Hitler meet with Disney, the latter being the only contact with the major center of motion picture distribution at that time (Hollywood)."
(You know you're in trouble when the handout at a theatrical performance involving Walt Disney cites Leonard Moseley and Marc Eliot's Disney biographies.)
Nowhere in the handouts I received does playwright/director Powers say that his work is even slightly speculative. A couple of dozen well-meaning San Franciscans attended the performance I saw; I may well have been the only one who left the theater not believing that it's historical fact that Walt Disney was a vicious anti-Semite who met Hitler and got along famously with him. And dozens more will [see] the play before it closes, at least some of who will presumably spread the word about Walt's hatred and Adolf Hitler's little-known involvement in the creation of Disneyland."
It sounds like Disney in Deuschland should qualify for a Hugo nomination as a definite s-f/alternate-universe play.
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There was speculation in Apa L a couple of weeks ago whether a comic-strip spaceman panel that John DeChancie used as a cover might have been drawn by Paul Norris. By coincidence, Alter-Ego #69, June 2007, which I just received, has a 15-page article/interview on Norris, whose career began in 1937 and covered both newspaper comic strips and comic books. He was the first Aquaman artist for DC Comics, but he seems to have been most popular with editors as a replacement artist because he could match so many other artists' styles. The article includes samples of his art taking over or imitating the styles of Joe Simon, Russ Manning, Milton Caniff, Alex Raymond (Norris drew several Flash Gordon comic books), and others, as well as Brick Bradford which he took over from Clarence Gray in 1952 and wrote/drew for the next 35 years until he retired. Presumably the Brick Bradford samples show his own art style since they don't look anything like Gray's earlier art. Norris was such an artistic chameleon and drew so many minor comics during his career, including space adventures that only lasted two or three issues, that that one panel in Apa L doesn't prove anything. He may or may not have been its artist. Norris, born in 1914 and currently living in Oceanside, is now doing commissioned superhero paintings for comics fans in his retirement.
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I got to go to the LASFS meeting last week. Hooray! Marcia Minsky kindly arranged for Michael Burlake to park in the club's handicapped parking space for us. For this good karma, she won the club's elections for President for the July-December term of office by a vote of 35 to 33. The voting for the other offices was so drawn out, seemingly with as many combinations of tag-team nominees as nominators could think of getting together, that I had to return to the hospital for its 10:00 p.m. curfew before the elections were over. I am glad that I got to vote for Marcia, at least.
On Tuesday, I tried looking up on the LASFS website who was elected, but the website still lists George Van Wagner as the club's President and Martin Young as the Scribe. How often is the website updated?
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-- Comments on Last Week's Distribution:
Cover - (DeChancie) Beautiful, but I understand that Fallingwater has become Fallingaparthouse due to earth shifts over the years. Too bad.
Oh, All Right!!! - (Lembke) I vaguely remember a novel about the extinction of life on Earth through the destruction of all cellulose. There were a lot of Furry aliens in it, too. Hmmm, I'll see if the LASFS Library has it so I can reread it. ## Oh, yeah, one of my earliest memories of helping my mother to prepare dinner was kneading the yellow dye into the white margarine when I was 4 or 5 years old. I was the official yellow-dye-kneader in our family. I am not sure whether my sisters ever got to do this, or whether regular yellow butter was available again before they grew old enough. ## One example of new technology being affordable by the "ordinary folk" almost immediately was the automobile. Henry Ford began selling his Model T car from 1908 for $850, and the price dropped as Ford's assembly line production improved in efficiency until it was $250 by 1914. This might technically not be "immediately" since the first engine-powered horseless carriages appeared in the 1890s, but considering the condition of America's unpaved roads, the price drop of automobiles pretty much matched the paving of streets so the ordinary folk found them practical to use at any price. I am still bemused by the picture of contemporary rural America shown in the 1936 comedy feature Earthworm Tractors. That movie may have deliberately exaggerated its depiction of small towns where the dirt main streets became thigh-deep sticky mud after a rain, as average Americana off the major highways as late as 1936; but during the 1900s & early '10s many towns were like that. Shoppers had to get on their horses just to ride across the street or risk bogging down in mid-street if they tried to walk across. Ordinary folk would not have been interested in a car that needed to be pulled out of ruts and mud holes by a horse, until there were enough paved streets throughout America that cars were practical for local transportation. The price drop of cars made them affordable to almost everyone by the time the streets were ready for them.
De Jueves #1535 - (Moffatt) After Harold Gray died in 1968, he was followed on Little Orphan Annie by Elliott Caplin (writer; Al Capp's brother) & Tex Blaisdell (artist) from 1968 to 1973; David Lettick (1973-1974); Harold Gray reprints (1974-1979), a major relaunch as Annie by Leonard Starr to make the strip look more like the modernized hit musical earlier that year (December 1979-2000), then writer Jay Maeder & artists Andrew Pepoy (2000-2002), Alan Kupperberg (2002-2004), and Ted Slampyak (2004-present). When the early Cartoon/Fantasy Organization got videos of Japanese TV cartoons with the Japanese commercials still in them, I was delighted by a live commercial for a stage production of Annie: The Musical, with Annie as a Japanese girl with a bright red fright wig and enormous phony freckles, and Daddy Warbucks looking like Fu Manchu in a tuxedo. ## The builders of the Naglfar should have cut a deal with the ahuizotl, which in Aztec mythology were river monsters that drowned humans to steal their fingernails & toenails. Teeth, too. The emperor just before Moctezuma took Ahuizotl as his name to signify how fearsome he was (1486-1502). Anyhow, the ahuizotl must have had quite a hoard of fingernails & toenails (& teeth) that they weren't doing anything with.
Godzilla Verses # 144 -- (DeChancie) Thanks for the suggestion to bring my recommendation that the LASFS, or the Loscon Committee, prepare a special flyer emphasizing the Loscon's Fantasy Art Show for distribution to art galleries, directly to Arlene Satin's attention. I tend to forget that Apa L is no longer read by everyone in the club. ## It sounds as though Las Vegas' prodom and fandom are pretty intermixed. It is good to know that the Westercon 61 Committee is so well integrated with the pro community there. ## Oog! Is this a shaggy reptile story?
Fish Out of Water #227 - (Helgesen) Neither do I. Brick Bradford was frankly a very forgettable comic strip.
Toony Loons #46 - (Zeff) Roz Gibson's cat that is always bringing her half-dead lizards and gophers is named Charlie, so unless Roz is very unobservant, he is not likely female.
Is an Innuendo an Italian Suppository? - (Cantor) According to my recent tally for the ISFDB, you wrote five reviews for Delap's F&SF Review. Other reviewers who were LASFS members included Bill Warren (49 reviews), Mike Glyer (18), Alan Winston (16), Sandy Cohen (13), Harlan Ellison (11), Bill Glass (10), Allan Rothstein (10), George Barr (5), Bill Welden (3), Ray Bradbury (2), Fritz Leiber (2), Dan Alderson (1), Doug Crepeau (1), Lee Gold (1), Nancy Kidd (1), and Matthew Tepper (1). Bill Rotsler wrote a brief article "On Novelizations of Film Scripts" to go with my review of his novelization of Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, as by "John Ryder Hall". Some of the pros like Bradbury and Leiber had stopped being active in the club years earlier and wrote their reviews as favors to Richard Delap, who recruited several other pros like Marion Zimmer Bradley and Jack Williamson, so they can't honestly be called reviewers recruited because they were LASFS attendees at the time. ## It still seems like it would be worth experimenting with stocking the new soft drink vending machine with some flavors of Jarritos ("El Sabor Más Mexicano"), although if nobody buys it, it might be hard to tell whether they were rejecting the brand or the flavor chosen. Jarritos has eleven flavors; Mandarin, Fruit Punch, Tamarind, Pineapple, Lime, Jamaica, Grapefruit, Guava, Strawberry, Mango, and Watermelon. Also, I do not know what the price might be since it might cost more than the commonly-available brands for whoever buys the soft drinks for the vending machine to find a supplier of Jarritos. ## So I suppose including any full-page comic strips in ˇRR! is going to raise the cost of printing. Printing three or four daily strips of line drawings will be cheaper than one page of solid shading like the Lackadaisy page a couple weeks ago? Bummer, but logical. Can you tell the cost differences of a full page in color like the page of Persona Animus (the doe, the mouse and the tiger) that I included in early May; what the same page would have cost in grayscale black-&-white; and a full page of four Ozy and Millie line-drawing strips?
I Dutch Treat Uakaris* -- (Gold) Regarding studies of the intelligence of crows and of ravens, have any of them shown whether one is significantly smarter than the other? Popular articles about observing the tricks of a specific clever crow or raven have made them sound almost identical. They fill identical ecological niches. Are ravens more than "big crows"? ## Thanks for all the work that you, Karl, & Barry have been doing to make ˇRR! available on the Internet. I do not really understand why, if the computer scans can copy all of the artwork that has been in ˇRR! over the years, they cannot handle the rows of - o0o - that I use for section dividers, but okay. Also, I still do not understand how it will be possible to index the issues, so if I want to find, for example, my comments in my Aussiecon III trip report in 1999 or 2000 to double-check whether that pizza was called an Indiana pizza or an Ohio pizza, I will be able to go right to the correct page instead of having to browse through all my 1999-2000 issues until I run across it. The index sounds too good to be true, though I will be delighted to take advantage of it.
Grok Talk v.2 #2 - (Gallatin) Haven't you used this issue number before?