LASFS Minutes ("Menace")
Meeting #3725 Jan 01, 2009 PDF Print E-mail

January 1, 2009

Michael Thorsen presiding,

Karl Lembke, Scribe


Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind,

We'll meet to drink the kool-aid dear, for auld lang syne.


Meeting 3725 was gavelled to order at 20:10:46, by Matthew Tepper as the most senior former president in attendance. Both veeps and the registrar were absent, and the Board members in attendance were busy.


Special Orders of Business

Marty Cantor noted that English fan, member of rat fandom, Leroy Kettle, was given the OBE some years ago. Now, Terry Pratchett has been knighted, and most important, the award was given during a period when he can still appreciate it. Terry is giving what he can to the fight against Alzheimer's, and challenging fans to match his donation, half a million pounds (sterling) to date.

In his turn, Charlie Jackson noted the passing of Donald Westlake, who wrote mysteries and was known to a fair number of LASFSians who read mysteries. He also wrote SF under a pseudonym.


The Menace from last week were read and accepted as “for once the LASFS members not only have nothing clever to say, but they know it”.


Guests In the absence of a Registrar, Elayne Pelz announced the existence of a guest. Dan Nichols was introduced by Ryan Nichols. They were assured the dangerous ones were usually plainly marked. Unfortunately, you have to be able to see vacuum ultraviolet to read the markings.


Patron Saints

Dan Alderson

Scratch recalled Dan as a sane mad scientist, great guy, whose favorite words were “weep wail”. He's missed.

Tom Safer recalled Dan as always here, even though he didn't say much, and he was important enough to have a parking space named after him.

Joe Zeff stated that Dan wrote down the Alderson Method for elections, which is easy to understand, if you're a computer programmer. Dan dictated one complex computer package to him after he lost his eyesight, and never got lost or got anything out of order, because he had everything organized so anyone could keep track of it, and he alphabetized variable names.

Jerry Pournelle notes Dan is the sane genius appearing in Lucifer's Hammer, though not under his own name. Also, a re-issue of Exile and Glory features Dan as a supporting character. He had lots to say to friends, but didn't speak in public much. The Alderson drive in Mote in God's Eye is named after him. Unfortunately, no one could talk him into taking better care of himself.

Marty Cantor said Dan was friendly with everybody. Professionally, in his community, he worked for JPL. He was the one who designed the Trajectory Monitoring package that was used by JPL. Jerry Pournelle amplified, saying Dan wrote a Fortran program that incorporated the celestial mechanics of the solar system. He did the equivalent of low-thrust trajectory tracking. To the best of his knowledge, all low-thrust trajectory craft still fly with at least a piece of Alderson's software in it.

Scratch added, “he had the ability to pick up an idea, mull it around, come back, and tell you the answer when you were least expecting it.”

Charlie Jackson added, “Dan's program was called Trajectory Monitor, or TRAM for short.” It's what got Voyager through the asteroid belt. Thus, when StarTrek I came out, fans called it “The revenge of Dan Alderson”.

Joe Zeff said Dan had a sense of humor and low self esteem. These once combined in a near-fatal way. He was in a car with Phil Castora and remarked, “I suppose we cold always hold a self-denigration contest. Of course, I'd lose.” Inducing that amount of laughter in the driver of a car at 64MPH is not safe.

Dan Alderson was given three cheers, and “weep, wail”.

Joe Zeff

Hare Hobbs recalled that when Dan Alderson was at his sickest from the effects of diabetes, Joe was Dan's caretaker.

Tom Safer appreciates how Joe has been a loyal and helpful cartoon fan, and has helped put a number of shows together.

Scratch has known Zeff for a few days, and when we were having D&D played here on Fridays, he'd run some of the most unique characters – some of which he can use in the class he teaches, others he doesn't dare.

Jerry Pournelle called him an imaginative person. He's reliable, he never promises what he can't deliver, and always delivers on what he promises.

Greg Barrett says, Joe is steadfast both as a member of the club and as a friend. He can't think of another member who is more so than Zeff. His friendship is something he cherishes.

Mike Thorsen has known Joe since joining the club. He's very imaginative, and has an incredible memory for tiny details and obscure trivia, which he loves to put into his stories and characters. He particularly enjoys trotting out references that no one recognizes. (Charlie Jackson is a challenge.)

Glenn Olson met Joe Zeff the first time he came to a meeting. Glenn thought Joe was actually a paid performer for the club, on account of his stupid computer user and other reports. He now misses them. He was furiously shushed by some in attendance, fortunately, without bloodshed.

Joe Zeff answered a question that had arisen earlier: His sacred object is the Sacred Sideburns.

He added that most times, he doesn't make the obscure references to stump people, but simply because they amuse him.

Joe Zeff was given three rousing cheers and a Civil War general.


There being no members of the Committee to Gouge around, there was no Gouge.


Onward to New Business (none), New Business (none)


Committee Reports and Time Bound Announcements

Elayne Pelz announced that it's time to pay dues – monthly, annual, and otherwise.

Tom Safer announced TSPC this month taking place Saturday, January 17, at 10AM. There will be cartoons.

Joe Zeff announced that Loscon is getting closer by the week. The price of membership has gone up to $30.

Eric observed a bit of news – A company called VCI Entertainment has released the entire series, “Starlost”, probably to get it out of their warehouse before too many people got sick.

Mike Thorsen called Starlost the Post Classic Trek answer to B5. It has all of the grand intentions and none of the grand deliveries.

Greg Barrett announced Warner Brothers lost their suit over Watchmen. Fox owns the rights. The film will drift between lawyers for a while, and a deal may eventually be worked out. Thorsen added, at least the trailer was impressive.

CLJII reported on the program for the evening, a couple of Buster Keaton shorts from the 30s.



Matthew Tepper reviewed a parade float. Tournament of Roses parade included a float which was impressive and SF related. Honda America, 50th anniversary, a giant robot that was supine at the beginning of the parade and raised itself up to reveal that it was an Asimo robot. Since the theme was “hats off to entertainment”, Asimo removed his top hat, lowered it, and when it was down to chest level, fireworks erupted therefrom. They also had the hydrogen powered car as the pace car. Matthew noted he would not want to drive the car in Lakehurst New Jersey. Oh, the Humanity!!!

Jerry Pournelle corrected the feeble joke that emerged from Matthew's feeble brain.

Greg Barrett: On the Red Line, on the long tunnel between Hollywood and Highland and Studio City, there was flashed on the wall “subway flickers” a trailer for “Quarreling”. It was impressive, he's not sure how they did it, but they did it.

Mike Thorsen reviewed two items: He went the day before New Year's Eve to see The Day the Earth Stood Still. It has very cool effects! But they don't make up for the rest of the movie. There is no believability, and it's a complete departure from source material. It has nothing like the spirit, soul, and quality of positiveness that the original had. For example in the original movie, when power is shut off, news reports are remarking on things that didn't lose power – hospitals, plains in flight, etc. In the new movie, any time there's an attack or general shut-down, people just die. Thorsen was miffed. He tried to make up for it by seeing.....

The Spirit. Being unfamiliar with the source material, he liked the movie.

Eric noted that many Yahoo groups linked to reviews, including one with the headline, “Klaatu Barada Stinko”.

Safer reviewed some shorts (Matthew said, “No clothing reviews!”). They are the shorts included with Wall-E. Both are recommended.

A reviewer reviewed Bolt, saying the studio misrepresents the story. The story is about an animated dog trying to find its way home.

Charlie Jackson: The Ultimate Movie Quiz Book – It's not about trivia, but rather, about minutiae. This book goes on for hundreds of pages with the most inane, pointless quizzes about stuff in movies. They love to castigate writers for mistakes about their mistakes, but in the first quiz, the writers get a title wrong. They managed twelve mistakes in the first nine pages.

Ryan reviewed Iain Banks' Matter – It's super-cool. It features “shell worlds” – multi-layered habitable worlds of unknown antiquity, and a social hierarchy between inhabitants of the shells. In the novel, the relationships get overturned.

Jerry Pournelle warned the club away from the opera, “Doctor Atomic” by John Adams with Peter Sellers as librettist. Don't see this one. It's so bad, it got JP wondering if there was something wrong with him. They can't have spent so much money on something and have it so bad... Miss it if you can. Go see The Magic Flute instead.

Mary Ann Canfield reviewed the Party of Last Resort. It was a small group, maybe 10 people. Good food, good company, and good movies. A good time was had by all. Jerry Pournelle doesn't remember what happened at Larry Niven's party.

Mike Thorsen had to come in and fix problems with the video set-up.



Glenn Olson saw by the papers, a list of things to look forward to. Included in the list is, the one millionth word will be added to the English language.

Hare misced that he's usually missed the Thanksgiving LASFS meetings. This year, he got a ride to the meeting, and so attended every single meeting last year.

Tom Safer notes that in addition to the millionth word. A college has nominated a number of words and phrases that should be eliminated from the English language.

Charlie Jackson announced his Numbers for 2008. The total Feature Films – 200. Total films added up to 320, well short of 503.

The program this night is the Great Stone Face, starring one Joe Keaton, also known as Buster. And so we adjourned.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 18 June 2015 )
Meeting #3724, Dec 25, 2008 PDF Print E-mail
25 December 2008
By Matthew B. Tepper, Scribe

All good things must come to an end, and so also must 2008. Before the meeting even began, the building was serenaded by the classic recording of "Santa Baby," as sung by Eartha Kitt. No sooner did President Michael Thorsen call things to order at 2013, and asked about Special Orders of Business, than CL noted the passing of Miss Kitt that very day. Her genre credits include "The Emperor's New Groove," and of course, Catwoman on the 1960s "Batman" TV series. CL said that the song had finally gone gold, and the singer was informed of this accomplishment before she died, "so fie on you, Madonna." A moment of heartfelt caterwauling was held in her memory.

Menace were read, sanded down, bludgeoned and wiped with sulfuric acid before they were finally approved as "a cat's claws."

Michelle said we had no guests this evening, but Tim & Serena Powers had finally gotten around to joining. Your humble Scribe exulted: "Serenity now!" CL pointed out that his pocket-familiar Stellaluna was a guest, as this was the first time he had ever brought her to a Thursday night meeting.

The final passel of Patron Saint celebrations began with Elayne Pelz, the Sacred Spryngbok. Hare Hobbs said that when he joined, she was the Treasurer, and would get money out of him and others with her glare. She didn't carry a pouch in those days, but then, spryngboks are not marsupials. Marty Cantor said Elayne is on the Board of Directors now, a good thing because she is expert at saying "No!" to expenditures. George Mulligan said he has always found her amenable to pleasant conversation. Maryann Canfield noted that Elayne is essential at keeping this club going, "which is more than it sounds like." Nick Smith called Elayne "one of the most organized people in fandom." In fact, when he wasn't attending Thursday night meetings, she ultimately tracked him down to give him his membership card which he had never picked up. CL said "she learned at the feet, er, trunk of a certain master." She is skilled in cooking and various crafts, very intelligent and well-read, and fluent in at least three languages including Russian (which she and Bruce used for private asides when others were around). Your humble Scribe had taken a German class with her at Santa Monica College, so could vouch for her familiarity with that language. We awarded Patron Saint Elayne Pelz cheers "and a nice broad Veldt upon which to scamper."

Next up was another many-time LASFS Treasurer, Robbie Bourget. Hare avowed that she had a different style of collecting, namely, fixing him with that cat-that-ate-the-canary look and exclaiming, "Give me money!" Joe Zeff said Robbie's doctor had instructed her to eat more food with cholesterol in it. George Mulligan said he once bought Robbie a button which said, "Oh s---, you're going to talk to me!" and she immediately put it on. Marty said their divorce had been amicable, and they still get along, many years afterwards. CL said that Robbie had made a silent observation upon seeing him with red hair. But Mr. Thorsen had once seen her with most of her hair chopped off; Marty explained that she was allergic to her own hair! Also, the $20 bid of "a Cantor" for parking spaces was named for her (when she was married to Marty). We celebrated Patron Saint Robbie Bourget with three cheers "and an airport."

Last up was Patron Saint Marty Cantor. CL recalled, "my mother told me that if you can't say anything good about somebody, to not say anything." Hare felt that "you need somebody like him to say things that nobody else will say." Eylat Poliner said he had printed her Apa L zines when she was living in Tel Aviv many years ago. Qarl Lembqe felt there was a need for a new unit of measurement: six tons per second of hot gas escaping had to be called a Cantor. Maryann said that Marty was a former editor of De Profundis, is a gamer, and is our resident curmudgeon. Mark Poliner called Marty "a stubborn and a nice guy." Your humble Scribe averred that Marty has excellent taste in music, including an appreciation of the classical side of things; when K-Mozart got banished to the AM airwaves a couple of years back, Marty called them and complained so much that they gave him an HD radio so he could hear the station in better sound, although maybe they just wanted to shut him up. Joe Zeff said that Marty had once been a professional singer. We touted Patron Saint Marty Cantor with three cheers "and Al Jolson on a raft."

Timebound Announcements: Marcia Minsky said the membership rate for Loscon 36 would be raised to $30 after the end of the day on December 31st. Maryann said that due to work commitments, she would not be able to guarantee her presence through the entirety of the New Year's Eve Party of Last Resort, if we were to have one; Thorsen stepped up and volunteered, suggesting a starting time of 4:00 p.m.; bring your own supplies if you can. Tom Safer said he will have a day of classic comedies to show here on February 28th, 2009. Hey, that's a whole ‘nother year! Whiskey said Animé LA is next weekend at LAX Marriott.

Appointed Committee Reports: CL said that this evening's film program will commence after the meeting ends, and after the program ends, the Winter Holiday Party resumes. This Sunday is FWEMS. In 2009, FWEMS must go bimonthly; February's program will be a tribute to Shawn Smith aka Shirley Patterson. Next week, the program will be Buster Keaton comedies. Programs of the Future will include "What have you been reading lately?" and also, "What have you been writing lately?" Programs in planning include a version of "Tic-Tac-D'Oh!" for which he will do his best Wink Martindale impression, only without stupid hats or giving away money. He also hopes to get Tim and Serena Powers here for a program.

Reviews: Hare finally saw "Twilight," and found it better than the book because it's less chatty. Albert Sheehan got a cheapie DVD of a cheapie film called "The Call of Cthulhu," which he enjoyed (despite very limited production values) because it actually stuck to the story; and not only that, but it was "Filmed in Mythoscope." Thorsen said it was "arguably the best silent film ever made." (Later he admitted that it might only be the best silent film of the century.) George M. said it shows that Cthulhu should be seen and not heard. Mark Poliner thought "Bedtime Story" was cute for kids, but fun for adults too. His wife Eylat silenced him before he could give spoilers. Nick smith said "The Tale of Despereaux" is a fun digital film about a kingdom where rats and soup are banned. Tom Safer was the latest LASFS member to perform among dead people; his choir sang Mozart's Coronation Mass, K. 317, with the New Valley Symphony Orchestra at the Hall of Liberty at Forest Lawn in Hollywood Hills; he thought it was a beautiful place to sing. And the audience wasn't likely to complain, either. Chris Johnston liked "Stranger Than Fiction," a film about an IRS agent who discovers that his life is being narrated by a writer suffering from writer's block; it has interesting visual effects. (And the sound of a typewriter in the sky never appears once. -- ed) Whiskey enjoyed "My Name is Bruce," a film about, by, and starring Bruce Campbell, very campy and self-referential. CL said that the trailer for "The Spirit" leaves him very dispirited, because Frank Miller has apparently ruined it; avoid with both hands. Now he can commiserate with the song in "High Noon" in which Tex Ritter sang how the narrator wabts to "shoot Frank Miller dead." Miller "took everything that made The Spirit a singular character, and smushed him down into an imitation Batman. It is a morally evil movie!" Thorsen suggested, "Miller has violated not only the letter, but the Spirit of the character." Apparently a Miller production of "Buck Rogers" is next, with reports already coming in that it will be "dark." Your humble Scribe doesn't want to think about what he's going to do with his following project, "Heidi."

Faanish Committee Reports: Hare said that the publish-on-demand at remodeled Borders stores is not doing well at all. The Scribe was befuddled; he frequently visits the Westwood and Sherman Oaks stores, and they have not changed a bit. Nick said this was a plan to remodel a few underperforming stores to see if it would help them. Thorsen said that the tire shredders have been removed from parking lot entrance at Sherman Oaks, which at least is some sort of improvement. Somebody said that "Firefly" had been issued on Blu-Ray, and the whole series fit on a single disc, offered at a price comparable to that of the DVD set. Jerry Pournelle had more to say about Firefly. CL said the club still willing to take sf and fantasy in the archaic video medium of VHS tapes.

Robert Jansen said that a white dwarf star has been detected emitting only ultraviolet, at a super-hot 200,000º K. Also, the cost of genetic engineering has come down so far that amateurs can do it. (Maybe Dr. Sheldon Cooper can have his glowing fish after all!) Eylat has her website up and running for trading and blogging: it's at

Speaking of websites, Charles said that as of last night has been tracking Santa on his regular flight, including a visit St. Petersburg to enjoy the scenery because he's not due there for another twelve days. Your humble Scribe said that Canada had declared Santa a Canadian citizen so he will have the permanent right to re-enter Canadian airspace. Ho ho ho, eh? Lastly, CL said that he is far behind in his film viewing, and may only make it up to a grand total of 325 features viewed in 2008.

There was nothing that could possibly be added to that, so we adjourned at 2125, and the Scribe quacked happily back to the couch.
Last Updated ( Thursday, 18 June 2015 )
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