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.
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”.
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.