Written by Fred Patten, and published on the LASFS Rex Rotary, April 28, 1966. Intended for Apa L, Eightieth Distribution, LASFS Meeting no. 1498, April 28, 1966. Address: 1825 Greenfield Avenue, Los Angeles, California, 90025. Phone: GRanite 3-6321.
|San Diego in 1966!||Cleveland in 1966!||Salamander Press #171.|
This last weekend saw the first Map & Ramble outing in over a year, out to Antelope Valley to see the wildflowers blooming. That might not sound very exciting, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable day anyhow. As Len Bailes put it, "it's not so much what you do as who you do it with." This MARS outing had a larger complement than usual, consisting of John, Bĵo & Katwen Trimble, Luise Petti, Larry Niven, Al Lewis, June Konigsberg, Len Moffatt, Len Bailes, and myself; even those of us who weren't particularly interested in Nature had a good day talking & singing with each other.
You may recall reading about the plans for the trip in Bĵo's zine in the 78th Dist'n. The trip began early on Saturday morning, with my house as the general meeting place. Larry was the first to arrive, about 7:15, and he was followed shortly by Len Bailes and Al. Finally, about 7:45, the Trimbles drove up in their Microbus with the rest of the group. Another 15 minutes or so was spent in getting everything packed into the Trimbles' bus, and we finally all headed out to the desert together.
The day's journey wasn't to be entirely at random; June had discovered a notice in SUNSET MAGAZINE about a guided tour to the wildflowers of this area, sponsored by some conservation group, and we were going to tag along with this group. After about an hour of driving, we reached the group's first meeting place, in Antelope Valley near the town of Pearblossom. Those of us who hadn't eaten breakfast yet did so at a restaurant there, while Len Bailes & I studied the living habits of an ant lion in a vacant lot outside. After a while we got directions to the first of the three sites that the Nature Conservancy had selected for its tour, and headed out into the desert.
The day was just about perfect. It was a clear day, and there was a cool breeze blowing to counteract the effects of the direct sun. Though it wasn't advisable to stand right out under the sun for any length of time, because of the ultra-violet -- most of us got tanned lightly, if not burned -- the overall temperature was only about 75°. The 3 sites selected by the Nature Conservancy were covered with different sorts of desert flowers, and Al & John spent most of the day taking photographs of various moderately large to incredibly minute wildflowers. The Conservancy had guides spotted at the 3 stops, who answered any questions anybody had as to the names of the plants and gave a chatty, pleasantly informal lecture on the wildlife to be found in that specific spot. The tour was well attended, but not crowded, and its schedule was loose enough that we could make as many side stops as we wanted, every time something caught our eye as we drove past, and still arrive at the next stop to get most of the talk. We ended up in Joshua Tree National Forest, after wandering hither & yon for most of the day, and enjoying a delicious picnic lunch prepared by Bĵo. We didn't see too much wildlife in the course of the trip, though jackrabbits bounded across our path twice, and I spent a large part of the afternoon in chasing after lizards. (All of which escaped.) At the last stop of the tour, a desert tortoise and a horned toad were exhibited.
The tour ended about 4 in the afternoon, and on our way back to Los Angeles, we stopped at a little desert community named Hi-Vista, I believe it was, where a community-improvement fund-raising fair was in progress. The biggest attraction was a series of turtle races being held in front of the community auditorium. This consisted of a roughly laid-out circular track, in the center of which was a sheet-aluminum starting pen holding about 20 desert tortoises, numbered in red paint on their shells. At the starting signal, the pen was raised and the tortoises, theoretically, all began crawling madly away; the first one to reach the rim of the circle was the winner. Bets were being taken for 25¢ apiece, though no prizes were awarded; your bet merely got you the chance to root for one particular tortoise. As we arrived, one race was just ending, the pen was lowered to the ground, and the attendants began collecting the dispersing tortoises and returning them to the pen's compartments. The attendants then began trying to collect bets on the next race; a task that was frequently interrupted as they had to keep returning to the pen to put back the tortoises who were squeezing under the pen, clambering over the pen, or forcing their way through the flimsy aluminum of the pen. Finally, all bets were down, and the tortoises were all returned to a more-or-less uniform starting position. Before the racers had a chance to wander out of position again, the signal was given and the starting pen was jerked off the ground. Startled by this sudden motion, the tortoises all hastily withdrew into their shells. After a couple of minutes whistling and coaxing from the spectators, about a quarter of the racers ventured forth from their shells and began crawling forward. Though, technically, the distance for each tortoise from its starting position to the finishing like was equal, the creatures actually tended to crawl away from the sun, rather than in a straight line to the portion of the finishing circle in front of them. This meant that the tortoise whose starting point was directly opposite the afternoon sun invariably won, through crawling in a straight line, while the other tortoises all took a curved path leading to that same portion of the circle, adding to the distance they had to travel. Once the outcome of the races became clear to us, the fun went out of it, and we finally returned home. We all collapsed back at my house around 7:30 p.m., and after a desultory attempt to organize some further activity for the remainder of the evening, we decided to call it a good day and dissolve the outing.
All agreed that the outing was an auspicious beginning to the coming Summer, and a second MARS trip, to Death Valley for a weekend, is already being scheduled. An added interest to this last weekend's trip was that it was Len Bailes' introduction to the desert, something most of us felt was long past due, as Len has seemed, up to now, impossible to convince that our desert wasn't really like something out of a Foreign Legion movie, with nothing but sand dunes and scattered oases, and possibly a camel or pyramid or two. Len seemed rather disappointed with our real desert, remarking that it just looked like a giant-sized untended vacant lot in metropolitan Los Angeles -- a not inaccurate description, since Los Angeles is situated on similar desert land, the only difference being in that the city land is under irrigation and landscaping. Len did enjoy himself enough to want to join us on our following trips, though, which shows that MARS can have fun, even when it's only on an overgrown vacant lot. Death Valley, ho!
-- BEING COMMENTS ON LAST WEEK'S DISTRIBUTION
Jim Schumacher, Dwain Kaiser, etc. -- The addition of the mimeograph to the Apa L collation session was a welcome change from the usual hektographing session, and I hope you can continue to bring the mimeo with you whenever you come in the future. Care will have to be taken, though, that the collating session and the LASFS Meeting aren't turned into one-shot sessions, with large numbers of contributors bringing their stencils and wanting to run them off on the spot at the very last minute. That would complicate things too much. However, if you can continue to bring the mimeo for the Table of Contents, so we won't have to fool around with that messy hektograph every week, and possibly some art equipment -- some styli and a drawing plate -- in case we can get some impromptu art from the local artists, it would be greatly appreciated.
Barry Gold -- Sorry I missed the party at your place; I was planning on going Sunday, but after Saturday's trip, I felt more like loafing around home than going out anywhere. ## I saw those two "Man from U.N.C.L.E." movies too. They were both souped-up television episodes (I wouldn't say the tv shows were cut, but that the original programs had been added to to make them feature length.) I hadn't seen "The Spy With My Face", which I understand from the others (I saw it with Bĵo, Len, Luise, and the Stines) was on tv as "The August Affair", but I preferred it of the two; we all got a big kick out of seeing the Griffith Park Observatory used for the umpteenth time, this time as a Swiss THRUSH headquarters. I had seen "To Trap a Spy", though, which was originally "The Vulcan Affair", and yes, it was the pilot film for the series. It was fun noticing all the changes: the entire opening footage, where the agent in the artist's house is trying to contact U.N.C.L.E., and later when Solo is decoyed there to supposedly meet the agent, was padding. The tv show opened with the enemy breaking into U.N.C.L.E. headquarters. On the original tv program, the enemy was THRUSH, and not WASP; if you look at the screen closely enough in the movie, you'll notice that the dialog falls out of synchronization with the lip movement whenever WASP is mentioned, in the sequences from the original tv show. Mr. Waverly was also the head of U.N.C.L.E. in the original version, instead of the new man in the movie; I'd like to know why these two substitutions were made? Another change I remember noticing was that, in the original version of the three Negro officials from Western Otumba, only the Premier had any appreciable dialog -- I recall thinking at the time that MGM was apparently trying to save money by using the other two only as stage dressing, since an actor with a speaking role gets an appreciably higher wage scale than one with no lines. (I understand the cutoff point is at ten words, to give the non-speaking actor leeway to murmur a few polite phrases such as, "Hello. How are you?", or, "May I take Your coat?"; more than ten words, and they can demand a higher salary.) Anyhow, in this movie version, all three had speaking roles. There were other points; you could tell where the commercial breaks came in the originals, for one thing. All in all, I thought the two movies were as enjoyable seen for their technical aspects in comparison to the original tv episodes, as for their plots. ## CIAWOT is "Coventry Is A Waste Of Time".
Ruth Berman -- Welcome back, and I hope you continue to stick around. As we've all said at various times, a person's contributions can be very enjoyable without containing any comment hooks. I know I feel that way about a lot of the fiction appearing in Apa L right now; I like it, but I'd feel rather foolish just repeating "I like it" in my comments week after week. But I can't think of anything else to day. Your writing is invariably good, even if it doesn't elicit any comments from me, so I hope you'll continue it, even in the face of silence on this end. ## Yes, The Dagger Affair finally reached Los Angeles, after being on sale in most of the outlying environs of the city for the previous month. Distribution is weird. Ted is making noises about being appointed the permanent author of the series of U.N.C.L.E. paperback novels, and I hope he makes it; he's shown that he can handle the job, as long as he keeps making his deadlines.
Dan Alderson -- Busy, aren't you?
Johnny Chambers -- Where'd you pick up the Portuguese habit of putting the $-sign after the denomination? ## Gee, I don't know of any other fans around San Jose -- none closer than Felice in Palo Alto, anyhow. Maybe you can help develop some of the local comic-book fans into s-f fandom. See, you organize a local comic-book club, then get a few Comic Fandom fanzines to introduce 'em to fanzines, then get 'em started pubbing their own, then lead into s-f fanzines... ## With all the Diplomacy fans that are in Apa L, why don't we get up a game here, with a move every two weeks?
June Konigsberg -- There's a new collection of excerpts from world-famous children's literature, with a selection from The Hobbit illustrated in a "cute" style that makes Disney look like Heinrich Kley in comparison. Ugh!