• MT VOID, 11/26/21 -- Vol. 40, No. 22, Whole Number 2199

    From evelynchimelisleeper@gmail.com@21:1/5 to All on Sun Nov 28 06:30:54 2021
    Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
    11/26/21 -- Vol. 40, No. 22, Whole Number 2199

    Co-Editor: Mark Leeper, mleeper@optonline.net
    Co-Editor: Evelyn Leeper, eleeper@optonline.net
    Sending Address: evelynchimelisleeper@gmail.com
    All material is the opinion of the author and is copyrighted by the
    author unless otherwise noted.
    All comments sent or posted will be assumed authorized for
    inclusion unless otherwise noted.

    To subscribe or unsubscribe, send mail to eleeper@optonline.net
    The latest issue is at <http://www.leepers.us/mtvoid/latest.htm>.
    An index with links to the issues of the MT VOID since 1986 is at <http://leepers.us/mtvoid/back_issues.htm>.

    Science Fiction (and Other) Discussion Groups, Films,
    Lectures, etc. (NJ)
    My Picks for Turner Classic Movies in December (comments
    by Mark R. Leeper)
    This Week's Reading (LIVES OF THE STOICS) (book comments
    by Evelyn C. Leeper)


    TOPIC: 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.

    The November MTPL meeting was postponed due to scheduling conflicts
    with several members.

    December 2 (MTPL), 5:30PM: NIGHT OF THE DEMON, short story
    "Casting the Runes" by M. R. James
    January 6, 2022 (MTPL), 5:30PM: Stanislaw Lem Centennial:
    PILOT PIRX'S INQUEST (1979), short story "The Inquest"
    by Stanislaw Lem
    January 27, 2022 (OBPL) 7:00PM: THE TIME MACHINE by H. G. Wells


    TOPIC: My Picks for Turner Classic Movies in December (comments by
    Mark R. Leeper)

    At least for the record Howard Hawks did not direct The Thing from
    Another World, though he certainly did contribute to the creative
    process of that film. But a year after that film was made Hawks
    really did direct a science fiction film. It is not remembered
    like The Thing, but that is because it was really not intended for
    a science fiction audience. The film was a comedy with Cary Grant
    and Ginger Rogers. It was a somewhat half-hearted film at that,
    neither good science fiction nor good comedy. Even if it was
    Christian Nyby who directed The Thing from Another World, that film
    better represents the best of Hawks, and not Monkey Business.

    Cary Grant plays the absent-minded Professor Barnaby Fulton and
    Ginger Rogers plays his wife Edwina. As the film opens they are on
    the way to a party. But before he can leave Barnaby gets involved
    thinking about a problem he is having with an (as yet) unexplained
    formula he is trying to develop for Oxley, the chemical company for
    which he works. Edwina humors him and fixes him a hot bowl of
    soup. This gives Barnaby the idea he thinks he needs to use with
    his formula-he has to heat it. Too late to go to the party at
    least his mind is off of his problem. He has a romantic evening
    home alone with Edwina rather than going to the party. Having
    romantic evenings when they are expected at parties is a continuing
    theme of this film.

    The next morning at the office at Oxley Chemical we learn a little
    more about the formula. His boss Oxley (Charles Coburn) is waiting
    on his results and wants to call it B4. As we learn what he is
    working on is a rejuvenating formula, a sort of chemical fountain
    of youth. Almost immediately it seems that he has it. An elderly
    experimental chimpanzee is acting like a baby again. Barnaby and
    Oxley go to see and are impressed until Barnaby notices the
    chimpanzee really is another chimpanzee entirely, a young
    experimental subject. An accidental clothing switch has led to its
    being mis-identified. Disappointed Barnaby goes back to work on
    the formula. But when he is out of the room the playful young ape
    escapes again and starts mixing chemicals. The chemicals end up in
    the water cooler. Barnaby is ready to try his formula on himself
    in what should be a safe dosage. The drug is bitter, however, and
    he takes water from the water cooler with it, getting some of the
    chemical that the ape mixed up-which just happens to be the right

    Barnaby starts getting an odd reaction all over his body, but then
    he identifies it as feeling younger. He starts feeling like a
    twenty-year-old. He finds he cannot be serious talking on the
    telephone. He leaves the lab by a window and goes out to get a
    younger haircut, a flashy jacket and pants, and a sport car. Oxley
    has sent out his sexy secretary Lois (Marilyn Monroe) out to find
    him. She finds him buying the car and joins him. He takes her out
    in the car and soon plows it into a truck. He leaves the car at a
    body shop and takes Lois out roller-skating, swimming, and for a
    general good time. At then end of the afternoon they pick up the
    car again.

    Driving back to the lab Barnaby finds that he is reverting to his
    older self as the effect wears off. Again he wreaks the car.
    Edwina comes to find him as the lab and finds him resting up. He
    tells her about his adventures. She is a little suspicious of the
    lipstick on Barnaby's face, but is trusting enough. Barnaby tells
    her he has discovered his formula and it is a success. Barnaby is
    ready to try the formula again that same evening, but Edwina is not
    so trusting of her husband after all. She gets to it first and
    drinks it with water from the water cooler. After a few minutes it
    is her who is acting like a twenty-year-old. She insists that
    Barnaby take her to the hotel where they honeymooned. They even
    get the bridal suite. There is a dance floor and a band playing in
    the hotel and though it is now 11pm after a hard day they go out on
    the dance floor where Edwina dances like Ginger Rogers. From there
    it is up to the room.

    What starts like a romantic interlude is even more like the first
    night of a honeymoon. Suddenly Edwina gets cold feet and ends up
    locking Barnaby outside the room in his pajamas (without the
    drawstring) and without his glasses. Barnaby ends up spending the
    night in the hotel laundry. Next morning Edwina is back to normal
    and takes Barnaby home, still in his pajamas. There Edwina's
    lawyer and her mother, called by Edwina under the influence of the
    formula, are waiting to castigate Barnaby.

    Barnaby and Edwina return to the lab. The whole experience has
    been an eye-opener to him. He is ready to destroy the formula.
    But he still does not know the real formula is in the water cooler.
    Edwina makes coffee using water cooler water and the two of them
    are acting like children. Meanwhile the Board of Directors of
    Oxley Chemical knows the formula does not work and assume that
    there is an ingredient missing in Barnaby's recipe. However,
    coaxing a non-existent ingredient from a young child is more
    difficult than they had realized. Together Barnaby and Edwina
    wreak havoc through the neighborhood just acting like children.
    Barnaby uses some neighborhood children to have revenge on his
    wife's old boy friend.

    There are the expected comical mix-ups including Edwina finding a
    young child and thinking that it is Barnaby. While the Board of
    Directors of Oxley Chemical are waiting for the formula to wear off
    the infant the board all drinks for the tainted water cooler and
    are all reduced to children. Finally all problems are resolved and
    Barnaby concludes that you are young if you feel young.

    If this is science fiction, and it is by virtue of a technicality,
    it really is more the feel of a fantasy film. I do not think
    anybody writing the film seriously wanted to look at the human
    effect of the aging process and the affect it would have on society
    if it could be turned back. If the film had been made ten years
    earlier it would have used magic rather than science.

    This is a film made for a few minutes diversion, but no thought of
    any great depth. It is the cinematic equivalent to playing
    solitaire. In spite of itself there is some serious content to the
    film, though it is easily overlooked. It suggests, somewhat
    complacently that youth is not as good as we like to think. Youth
    is associated in this film with superficiality. Basically it is a
    film made for adults that pokes fun at the behavior of young
    people. These days with young people going to digitized theaters,
    films are more likely to make fun of mature adults.

    The film tells us there is nothing that a youth drug can do for you
    that cannot be better done by just getting in the proper frame of
    mind. Youth is not wasted on the young, but it would waste anyone
    else. "You are old only when you forget you are young," Grant
    tells his wife.

    Of course the only way to put a happy ending on this film is to
    have people accept their aging and look on it as if it is a good
    thing. The film is somewhat contrived for this ending. Of course
    that is not all that is contrived. The chimpanzee is over-trained
    and behaves like no chimp ever would. This is chimpanzee behavior
    from the Tarzan school of animal acting. The adult imitations of
    child behavior are equally unconvincing. The script is mediocre in
    most regards. It is a Fifties film so it could not be explicit
    about sex, nor would that have fit well into the period, but there
    is plenty of sexual innuendo in the dialog without actually saying
    anything overt. Presumably that was part of the art of script
    writing at the time.

    It makes the film a little more interesting is the reprise of two
    actors familiar from The Thing from Another World. Douglas Spencer
    who played Scotty and Robert Cornthwaite who played Carrington are
    two of the chemists at Oxley. It is not enough to salvage the film
    and their roles are quite small, but it is still a minor reward.

    I would give MONKEY BUSINESS a high +1 on the -4 to +4 scale.

    [MONKEY BUSINESS (1952), December 1, 12:30AM]

    Evelyn notes that there are the usual Christmas fantasies,
    including *three* showings of the 1938 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. There
    *is* a Hanukkah double feature, though:

    12/05/2021 08:00 PM The Dybbuk (1938)
    12/05/2021 10:00 PM Tevya (1939)

    Look for Mark's review of THE DYBBUK in next week's issue.

    There is also Guillermo del Toro's first feature-length film:

    12/06/2021 02:45 AM Cronos (1993)

    And there is a day devoted to Tarzan:

    12/09/2021 08:15 AM Tarzan the Fearless (1933)
    12/09/2021 09:45 AM Tarzan and His Mate (1934)
    12/09/2021 11:45 AM The New Adventures of Tarzan (1935)
    12/09/2021 12:45 PM Tarzan Escapes (1936)
    12/09/2021 02:30 PM Tarzan's Revenge (1938)
    12/09/2021 03:45 PM Tarzan Finds a Son! (1939)
    12/09/2021 05:15 PM Tarzan's Secret Treasure (1941)
    12/09/2021 06:45 PM Tarzan's New York Adventure (1942)



    TOPIC: This Week's Reading (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)

    by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman (Portfolio Penguin, ISBN 978- 0-525-54187-5) covers twenty-six Stoic philosophers:
    Zeno the Prophet
    Zeno the Maintainer
    Publius Rutilius Rufus
    Cato the Younger
    Portia Cato
    Arius Didymus
    Gaius Rubellius Plautus
    Helvidius Priscus
    Musonius Rufus
    Junius Rusticus
    Marcus Aurelius

    Some are well-known (e.g., Marcus Aurelius); others are known only
    to specialists in Stoicism (e.g., Cornutus the Common).

    That this is aimed at the non-specialist reader is shown by the
    description of how while Julius Canus waited for the executioner to
    arrive from Caligula, he played a game of chess. Chess wasn't
    known in Europe until many centuries later; an academic book would
    (I hope) use a more accurate name for the game, but Holiday and
    Hanselman want something the reader can identify, even if

    Holiday and Hanselman also have a bit of a political agenda. In
    their chapter on Publius Rutilius Rufus, they write, "It's a
    populist irony--the strongman comes to power by making impossible
    and destructive promises to the disenfranchised. Do they actually
    have any intention of helping these people? Of course not. In
    fact, they'll actively stymie any reforms that will actually make
    the system more fair. All that matters is their iron grip on their
    ignorant base and the power that comes from it."

    In the chapter on Seneca, they talk about how Seneca "enabled" (my
    word) Nero for a long time, and then attempted to withdraw. But
    they note, "There is no evidence of a principled resignation, as
    the Stoic-inspired secretary of defense James Mattis would give to
    President Donald Trump in a disagreement over policy in Syria."
    Comparing Trump to Nero is a pretty clear statement of the authors'

    "Why did Marcus [Aurelius] remain good while so many other rulers
    have broken bad? His relationship and deference to a wise, older
    man like [Junius] Rusticus explains a lot of it." Well, actually
    no. His "relationship and deference to a wise, older man" is just
    another aspect of it. Nero had a relationship with and at least
    the possibility of deference to a wise, older man (Seneca), but he
    did not make the same use of it, or turn out to be as good a ruler
    as Marcus Aurelius.

    LIVES OF THE STOICS is interesting, but I think actually reading
    the Stoics (which pretty much means the "Meditations" of Marcus
    Aurelius for a start) is a better use of one's time. [-ecl]


    Mark Leeper

    From Alexander the Platonic, not frequently nor without
    necessity to say to any one, or to write in a letter,
    that I have no leisure; nor continually to excuse
    the neglect of duties required by our relation to those
    with whom we live, by alleging urgent occupations.
    --Marcus Aurelius

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Kevrob@21:1/5 to eleeper@optonline.net on Sun Nov 28 13:05:32 2021
    On Sunday, November 28, 2021 at 9:30:55 AM UTC-5, eleeper@optonline.net wrote:


    .....Monkey Business.


    The script is mediocre in most regards. It is a Fifties film so it could not be explicit about sex, nor would that have fit well into the period, but there
    is plenty of sexual innuendo in the dialog without actually saying
    anything overt. Presumably that was part of the art of script
    writing at the time.

    A script using magic might have been mined from Thorne Smith's
    "The Glorious Pool," though the studio might not have had access
    to the rights. Grant had played a Smith character before, the late
    George Kerby, in "Topper," a favorite of mine.


    Kevin R

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)