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Menace 3673 [Jan. 11th, 2008|07:52 pm]
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MENACE OF THE LASFS, MEETING #3673
3 January 2008
By Matthew B. Tepper, Scribe

With a cynical eye, or rather two of them, President Marcia Minsky surveyed the silliness surrounding her, and called the meeting to order at 20:05 with “the umbrella of power.”  Of Special Orders of Business there were nada, CL averring that none had reached his “shell-like ears.”  President Minsky noted the change of scribal identity next to her and welcomed the returning victim back to the front table.

Previous week’s Menace, by outgoing Scribe with the Sideburns Joe Zeff, were picked at a bit and finally approved as “a dickens of a set of minutes – the best of minutes, the worst of minutes.”  Well, you had to have been there, I guess.  I was, and I still wake up screaming.  Really annoys the cows, too.

This being the first meeting of the year, we began again the cycle of Patron Saints with two who range from A to Z – Dan Alderson and Joe Zeff.

First, Dan:  Milt Stevens reminded us that our departed friend had been a for-real rocket scientist at Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  There were some things that bothered Dan which wouldn’t bother anybody else on Earth.  He was once obsessed with an “ugly equation,” and would not give up working with it until he had made it “prettier.”  Charles Lee Jackson, the Second said that Dan’s TRAM trajectory monitoring program has long been used to plan the exit routes of spacecraft from this solar system, effectively leading to “Star Trek: The Revenge of Dan Alderson.”  Jerry Pournelle said that Dan had supplied math for his SF books, and he missed him as a friend, too. Scratch Galloway called Dan “a wonderful mad scientist.”  Joe Zeff said that if you ever saw him at JPL in the morning, it was because he’d been there all night. Fred Patten called Dan “the greatest scholar of Captain Marvel comic books.” Doug Crepeau remembered Dan as a former business associate in Science Fiction Consultants of Hollywood, Inc.  We shouted to the rafters with three cheers (and/or “weep wails”), and “a confounded voting system.”

About Joe Zeff:  Whisky identified him as “sideburns, sideburns, sideburns.”  Scratch called Joe a unique gamer, who always comes up with a little twist.  Milt reminded us that Joe had been Dan’s seeing eye person.  Michael Thorsen pointed out that Joe had held the elected post of Vice President for two terms. Alison Stern remembered that he had also been Scribe several times, “and made us all laugh.”  George Van Wagner said that Joe has had the persistence to complete NaNoWriMo four times. Frank Waller said he finds Joe “well-versed and well-spoken.”  Marcia was pleased to report that her brother Joe is a most reliable fixer of computer problems. We gave Joe three cheers and “an open-source operating system.”

Sole Registrar Michelle Pincus had scoured the room and brought us two guests: Herman Rubin, a friend of George Mulligan, who admits an interest in space opera and professes statistics and mathematics.  Er, that is, he’s a professor of statistics and mathematics.  Whatever.  We also had Nicole Rubins (no relation), who had found us on the Internet.  Those darned search engines work, folks!  Nicole is a gamer who is also looking to set up a practice as a podiatrist.  Karl Lembke remarked, “The game’s afoot!”  I knew he’d find some way to needle us.

Karen Anderson, Science Monitor, said that NASA was so overbooked for their modified McDonnell Douglas C-9B Skytrain II (if I screwed that up, blame Wikipedia), nicknamed the “Vomit Comet,” that they will have to subcontract another plane for their parabolic flights, from Zero Gravity Corporation.  Nice to see private industry helping out.

Committee reports: CL said the theme for this month’s Fourth Weekend Movie Sunday is “a bite out of the Middle East.”  Dang, now I have a craving for some falafel!  Elayne Pelz said a new LASFS Directory is in progress, so take a look at the rough draft and make sure your name, address and phone are correct.  The final version is supposed to be published in about a month.

Elayne then relayed her Treasurer’s Report to the front table: Yes, we have $87,000.  No, we’re not going to use it for parties!  Too bad – I just can’t help thinking how much falafel that would have bought.

The twin absences of both Old and New Business were cheered by the disdainful crowd.

Reviews:  Eric Hoffman recommended a pair of new books, Walter B. Gibson and the Shadow  by Thomas J. Shimeld and Robert W. Gibson; a new edition of The Lurker in the Lobby: The Guide to Lovecraftian Cinema by a bunch of writers; and a film, “Man in the Chair,” about forgotten film crew members, starring Christopher Plummer.  Adam Wills issued the warning that a new film, “In the Name of the King,” is not having media previews, which is generally a bad sign.  Whisky had seen it and said it was horrid, a waste of celluloid about ninjas, pirates, and rubber orcs.  Ali Stern thought “The Golden Compass” was pretty good, but she had issues with the end of the film. Mike Sheffield, on the other hand, had no such reservations.  Ed Hooper liked the latest “Macross” series.  Glenn Olsen & son Johnathan enjoyed the new “Animusic” DVD.  Fred Patten was pleasantly surprised with “Persepolis,” the autobiography of Iranian writer/director Marjane Satrapi; it may not be fantasy, but it does have very good animation and held his interest throughout. Ali loved “Alvin and the Chipmunks,” calling it “awesome.” Dr. Pournelle was moved by mention of The Chipmunks to remind us there is a shortage of helium, but if you want to talk funny, do not attempt to substitute hydrogen!

Announcements:  Elayne, again as Treasurer, reminded all and sundry that it was a new year, so it’s time to start paying dues again if you’re on that scheme. Vice President Michael Thorsen noted that prices have gone up, so the drinks in the vending machine now go for a minimum of 75¢.  Well, it could be worse; imagine if it had been refitted to take only Canadian coins.  CL still had some issues of Extra Added Attractions, with detailed stories about Commando Cody, Republic Pictures, and Henry MacRae (influential film producer, now forgotten).  Mike Sheffield could not resist noting that members can now contribute a further penny to the Atomic Clock Fund, since donations are limited to one cent per member per year.  I didn’t hear any reaction from Elayne, but I can guess.  Fred Patten said that Animé L.A. 4 starts tomorrow at the Burbank Marriott.  Guest Natalie Rubins thought the artistic types here would like to know about the Photoshop competition to design a video game cover; see http://photoshopcafe.com.

Bill Ellern:  He’s planning to close the books on Loscon XXIV soon, so if you’re owed money by the con, get your receipts to him pronto.  Oh, and cash those checks, too!  George VW said that members of last year’s and this year’s Worldcons should consider making Hugo nominations soon. The Scribe relayed a note from his great predecessor Mike Glyer, who hoped members would consider The Company They Keep, a book about the Inklings by Diana Pavlac Glyer. Scratch said that member Ron Gordon was losing his eyesight to macular degeneration, and so was giving away books to members. Ali Stern said she has now moved to Northern California for some reason.  I’m sure we’ll see her at this year’s Loscon, heh heh!  Hare Hobbs said Catherine Asaro has a new book out, but unfortunately not the promised third book of a trilogy – and what’s worse, she also changed publishers, so the fate of that third book is unknown.

Faanish Committee Reports: Doug Crepeau said that his lanyard with the flash drive had gone missing, and he’d appreciate help getting it back.  So if you see something that you think belongs around Doug’s neck, you know what to do.  George VW reported for the Committee for Technological Justice, about a woman at a fast food place who was being held up when her mobile phone rang, and the perp, in telling her not to answer the phone, tripped her voice-activated Bluetooth device.  Justice ensued.  Marcia told of a stupid would-be bank robber:  a police officer sneaked up behind him in line, and was able to collar the guy after he made his demand and collected the money.  And finally, Dr. Pournelle suggested we had front-runners for the Darwin Award, namely those guys in San Francisco who had had that little mishap at the San Francisco Zoo.  He noted that Niven’s Second Law has a new possible interpretation:  “Never stand next to the man who is taunting the tiger.”

Misc:  Marcia said the Sunday after next will be devoted to the Board of Directors meeting, as well as the usual Second Sunday Open House.  CL said he didn’t have his cinematic statistics yet, but advised he would give them next week, “in case Jerry wants to leave early.” Michael Thorsen had acquired his first region 0 DVD, “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.”  George VW said we had no program this week or next.

There had been some lively discussion as to whether a move to adjourn should be named after Marty Cantor or Rob Cole, so Joe Zeff moved to Marty Cole, which we did at 20:59.

And the moral is:  “You can’t change the laws of physics; but you can change the bag!”

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