Down One at the Dep’t of Terminology

By John Hertz: (reprinted from Vanamonde 1256)  While in Chicago for law school I lived on the Near North Side.  This was not meant as a defection from Hyde Park my childhood home, just closer to school.  Going to Antioch instead of the University of Chicago for a baccalaureate had already made me a Black Sheep, and then Northwestern U. law school instead of U. Chicago compounded the – but that’s another story.

Anyhow, nearby was a multi-level something, with an open core, turned into shops.  One was Fong’s Bakery, run by a Chinese woman named Fong Chu (Fong being the surname, placed first Chinese style).  She sold perhaps two dozen Chinese bakery goods, helpfully labeled in Chinese and English.  I brought friends there.

Among the goodies – or baddies– were po-luo pao, pineapple buns (another way of writing spells that word bao, like Peking and Beijing for the Chinese capital).

The buns had no pineapple in them.  This perplexed my friends.  “Where,” my friends asked poor Ms. Fong, “is the pineapple?”

Just as perplexed she answered, more politely than I paraphrase here, “Pineapple?  What pineapple?  Why should there be pineapple?”  This could go on awhile.

Eventually it emerged that they were called pineapple buns – indeed how they’re known to Chinese – not because they contained pineapple, because they looked like pineapples.  The tops are brown and cross-hatched.

Long an amateur terminologist, I was training to be a professional terminologist.  The Pineapple Bun adventure stayed in mind.

In Whittier the other day I was admiring the Lou Henry Hoover fountain at Beverly and Norwalk Boulevards.  She (1929-1933) was the wife of President Herbert Hoover (1874-1964; in office 1929-1933), whom she met in their undergraduate days at Stanford; she went with him to China in 1899 and became fluent in Mandarin; she had many ties to this California town.  Across the street was a Starbucks shop.  A sign there said “Try our new octopus cookies.”

I asked “Are they made with real octopus?”

“No, they’re just shaped like an octopus.”


The Worst Movie Golden Bracket: The Finalizeling

By Hampus Eckerman: I have counted the number of votes for the different movies nominated by the filers. Now it is time to finalize the list before the bracket begins.

Please take a look at the list below and add your nominations (I’m keeping the old ones in a spreadsheet, so you can’t make duplicates). Note that for some of the nominated movies, there were several movies with the same titles. I have then picked the year I thought most likely. If you want to correct me there, please do so.

In a few cases, the movie did not exist at all because there had been a mix-up in the title. I have then used the magic google search and found movies with names that are very close and added those to the list instead. I hope they are the correct ones.

So without much further ado, here is the current list. Let the nominations continue.

Five votes:

  • Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)

Four votes:

  • The Black Hole (1979)
  • The Food of the Gods (1976)
  • Mazes and Monsters (1982)
  • Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)
  • Reptilicus (1961)
  • The Room (2003)
  • The Thing with Two Heads (1972)
  • Troll 2 (1990)
  • Zardoz (1974)

Three votes:

  • Attack of the Mushroom People (1963)
  • Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2010)
  • Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1992)
  • Death Bed: The Bed That Eats (1977)
  • Eegah (1962)
  • Glen or Glenda (1953)
  • Highlander 2: The Quickening (1991)
  • Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966)
  • The Master of Disguise (2002)
  • Prometheus (2012)
  • Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)
  • Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)
  • Star Wars: Episod II – Klonerna anfaller (2002)
  • Teenagers From Outer Space (1959)
  • The Terror of Tiny Town (1938)
  • Waterworld (1995)

Two votes:

  • A Knight’s Tale (2001)
  • Batman & Robin (1997)
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
  • Battlefield Earth (2000)
  • The Creeping Terror (1964)
  • Ghost In The Shell (2017)
  • The Giant Spider Invasion (1975)
  • Godzilla (1998)
  • The Guns of El Chupacabra (1997)
  • The Happening (2008)
  • Howard The Duck (1986)
  • The Human Tornado (1976)
  • The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies (1964)
  • Ishtar (1987)
  • Leprechaun 4: In Space (1996)
  • Monster a Go-Go! (1965)
  • Reefer Madness (1936)
  • Robot Monster (1953)
  • Roller Blade (1985)
  • Samurai Cop (1991)
  • Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964)
  • Scream, Blacula, Scream (1973)
  • The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising (2007)
  • Son of the Mask (2005)
  • Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
  • Starcrash (1979)
  • Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)
  • They Saved Hitler’s Brain (1968)
  • Toys (1992)
  • Transformers (2007)
  • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
  • Vamp (1986)
  • The Wicker Man (2006)

One vote:

  • 2012 (2009)
  • A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014)
  • Aeon Flux (2005)
  • After Last Season (2009)
  • Against the Dark (2009)
  • Airplane! (1980)
  • Airplane II: The Sequel (1982)
  • Alien vs Predator (1993)
  • Alien 3 (1992)
  • All Monsters Attack (1969)
  • Amsterdamned (1998)
  • At Long Last Love (1975)
  • Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (1978)
  • The Avengers (1998)
  • Disco Godfather (1979)
  • The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961)
  • Beowulf (2007)
  • Beware! The Blob (1972)
  • Birdemic 2: The Resurrection
  • The Black Cauldron (1986)
  • The Black Gestapo (1975)
  • Blade: Trinity (2004)
  • Blubberella (2011)
  • Brain from Planet Arous (1957)
  • The Brood (1979)
  • Caligula (1979)
  • Catwoman (2004)
  • Central Intelligence (2016)
  • Congo (1995)
  • The Creature That Wasn’t Nice /Naked Space (1983)
  • The Day After Tomorrow (2004)
  • Dracula 2000 (2000)
  • Dragon Wars: D-war (2007)
  • Earthsea (2004)
  • Empire of the Ants (1976)
  • Ernest Saves Christmas (1988)
  • Fantastic Four (2015)
  • Fifty Shades of Grey (2015)
  • The Flame Barrier (1958)
  • Frankenstein Island (1981)
  • Freejack (1992)
  • Fright Night Part 2 (1988)
  • Daikyojû Gappa (1967)
  • The Garbage Pail Kids Movie (1987)
  • The Giant Claw (1957)
  • The Giant Gila Monster (1959)
  • Golden Dawn (1930)
  • Gonks Go Beat (1965)
  • Hawk The Slayer (1980)
  • The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things (2004)
  • Heaven’s Gate (1980)
  • Hells Come to Frogtown (1988)
  • High Tension (2003)
  • Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party (2016)
  • The Humanoid (1979)
  • The Ice Pirates (1984)
  • The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant (1971)
  • Idle Hands (1999)
  • Independence Day (1996)
  • Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)
  • Inspector Gadget (1999)
  • Invasion of the Neptune Men (1961)
  • Invasion of the Saucer Men (1957)
  • It’s Pat (1994)
  • Jabberwocky (1977)
  • Jaws: The Revenge (1987)
  • Johnny Mnemonic (1995)
  • The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977)
  • Knowing (2009)
  • Lady Terminator (1989)
  • Leonard Part 6 (1987)
  • Lost Horizon (1973)
  • The Love Guru (2008)
  • MAc and Me (1988)
  • Maid To Order (1987)
  • Maniac (1934)
  • Max Payne (2008)
  • Metallica/Captive Planet (1979)
  • Meteor (1979)
  • Mommie Dearest (1981)
  • Mr Magoo (1997)
  • Myra Breckenridge (1970)
  • Naked Gun (1988)
  • Narcosys (2000)
  • The Navy Vs The Night Monster (1966)
  • Night Train to Mundo Fine (1966)
  • Norwood (1970)
  • Oblivion (1994)
  • The Phantom (1996)
  • The Pirate Movie (1982)
  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)
  • The Prince and Me 3: A Royal Honeymoon (2008)
  • Queen of Outer Space (1958)
  • Queen of The Damned (2002)
  • Rat Pfink a Boo Boo (1966)
  • Repo: The Genetic Opera (2008)
  • Rock & Roll Nightmare (1987)
  • The Rollerball (2002)
  • Roller Blade Seven (1991)
  • Satan’s Cheerleaders (1977)
  • Scooby-Doo (2002)
  • Serenity (2005)
  • The Shape Of Things To Come (1979)
  • Shock Treatment (1981)
  • Showgirls (1995)
  • The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (2010)
  • Space Ninja: Swords of the Space Ark (1979)
  • Stealth (2005)
  • Taking Earth (2017)
  • The Three Musketeers (1973)
  • Ultracop 2000 (1992)
  • Ultraviolet (2006)
  • Universal Soldiers (2007)
  • Valerian: City Of A Thousand Planets (2017)
  • Vampire In Brooklyn (1995)
  • Vampires Suck (2010)
  • The Village (2004)
  • Viva Knievel! (1977)
  • Wizards of the Lost Kingdom (1985)
  • Wizards of the Lost Kingdom 2 (1989)
  • X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
  • Yongary, Monster from the Deep (1967)

A Game of Groans

By John Hertz (reprinted from Vanamonde 1254):  In college I was a very popular and much-sought-after Poker player.  There’s only one way to be a v.p.a.m.s.a. Poker player.  Eventually I realized I could change this by studying the odds and developing skill, but other things attracted my attention and I left off.  That crowd thought Spade Mariah and Anaconda wild games.  I came to L.A. in time for the great L.A. S-F Society Poker days of Double Jesus, Ha-Ha Herman, and Soft Shoe (where you could shuffle off to bluff a low – which Mike Glicksohn called “one of the finest puns of this or any year”, Van 472).

 * * * * *

In the same issue, changing the subject as is easy in a fanzine published every week, John gives this 5-7-5-7-7-syllable acrostic.

Amazes those who thought they’d
Zeroed out their lives.
Even we who only watch
Doubt no more honey from weeds.

Announcing: The Worst Movie Golden Bracket

By Hampus Eckerman: The Golden Turkey Awards. The Golden Raspberry Award. Awards given to the worst of the worst movies. So this will be The Worst Movie Golden Bracket.

This is about chosing the worst movie ever made. A bad movie is not a boring movie. It is a movie that creates feelings. Astonishment that the movie could ever be made. Fascination over who could create it. Anger over those who participated in it. Enthusiasm over the brilliance needed to make something so bad.

A truly bad movie is the kind where you continue to watch in the same way as at an oncoming train crash.

* * *

The bracket is done in the same way as previous movie brackets. These are the steps of the nomination phase before the brackets begin.

STEP 1: Nomination Phase

I have created a short list of movies considered to be the worst ever made. In the comment section, you will write movies you think should be added to the list. Also write if you want to nominate a movie already listed.

STEP 2: The Finalizing Phase

I will compile all movies mentioned in a separate post. There you will have the possibility to add your nominations to the movies listed (and only those listed at this stage).

STEP 3: The Final List

I will count all nominations and decide which movies has made into the brackets. The list will be published in a separate post. And after that the brackets will begin.

So without much ado, here is my list of truly bad movies.

  • At Long Last Love (1975)
  • Attack of the Mushroom People (1963)
  • Batman & Robin (1997)
  • Battlefield Earth (2000)
  • The Black Gestapo (1975)
  • Catwoman (2004)
  • Death Bed: The Bed That Eats (1977)
  • Eegah (1962)
  • Empire of the Ants (1976)
  • Frankenstein Island (1981)
  • The Garbage Pail Kids Movie (1987)
  • The Giant Claw (1957)
  • The Giant Spider Invasion (1975)
  • Glen or Glenda (1953)
  • Heaven’s Gate (1980)
  • Highlander 2: The Quickening (1991)
  • The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies (1964)
  • Ishtar (1987)
  • Jaws: The Revenge (1987)
  • Leonard Part 6 (1987)
  • Maniac (1934)
  • Mommie Dearest (1981)
  • Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966)
  • Monster a Go-Go! (1965)
  • Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)
  • Rat Pfink a Boo Boo (1966)
  • Reefer Madness (1936)
  • Reptilicus (1961)
  • Robot Monster (1953)
  • The Room (2003)
  • Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964)
  • Scream, Blacula, Scream (1973)
  • Showgirls (1995)
  • Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)
  • Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)
  • The Terror of Tiny Town (1938)
  • They Saved Hitler’s Brain (1968)
  • The Thing with Two Heads (1972)
  • Troll 2 (1990)
  • The Food of the Gods (1976)
  • The Wicker Man (2006)

What movies can you add?

Royal Mail Issuing Star Wars: The Last Jedi Stamps

Britain’s Royal Mail will issue a set of Star Wars: The Last Jedi commemorative stamps on October 12.

STAR WARS:THE LAST JEDI, is blasting its way onto cinema screens from 14 December 2017. To celebrate, we’re proud to announce eight new STAR WARS stamps, limited-edition collectibles and gifts, packed with friendly (and not so friendly) characters.

Beautifully illustrated by UK digital artist, Malcolm Tween, some of the stamps feature secret details, revealed only by UV light.

The iconic stamps, first day covers, and related souvenirs can be pre-ordered now.

Sci-Fi Satire Roundup

Curated by Carl Slaughter: (1) A Game of Thrones fan with character insight, writing talent, and a sense of humor gives us a preview of the season 7 finale.

(2) Sneak peek at opening episode of Game of Thrones season 8, with some Trump immigration policy and white supremacists thrown in for fun.  Wall, white, get it?

Dany and Sansa to each other:  “Jon is mine.”
Sansa to Dany:  “He’s your nephew.”
Dany to Sansa:  “He’s your cousin.”


(3) We’re not a team, we’re a family.

(4) Superhero equal pay

(5) Sci-fi fan addiction

(6) Welcome to the boys club, welcome to the companions club.

Folly from a Loon

By John Hertz: (reprinted from Vanamonde 1260)  Nineteen books after The Fall of the Dutch Republic (1913), The Rise of the Dutch Kingdom (1915), and The Golden Book of the Dutch Navigators (1916), which incidentally had three different publishers, he wrote An Indiscreet Itinerary or How the Unconventional Traveler Should See Holland, by one who was actually born there and whose name is Hendrik Willem Van Loon (1933) for another.  In between he had eight more, one of which having brought out The Story of Mankind (1921; winner of the first Newbery Medal) proceeded to Tolerance (1925) and The Liberation of Mankind: the story of man’s struggle for the right to think (1926); yet another, Multiplex Man, or the Story of Survival through Invention (1928).

Twenty-two books after Itinerary Simon & Schuster published as its fourteenth Van Loon’s Lives: Being a true and faithful account of a number of highly interesting meetings with certain historical personages, from Confucius and Plato to Voltaire and Thomas Jefferson, about whom we had always felt a great deal of curiosity and who came to us as dinner guests in a bygone year (1942), and in 1942 the great reprint house Walter J. Black, Inc., may have been the original publisher (I know no other) of The Praise of Folly by Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam, with a short life of the Author by Hendrik Willem van Loon of Rotterdam who also illustrated the Book.

I hear a 1946 ed’n of Roget’s Int’l Thesaurus is dedicated “To the memory of Hendrik Willem Van Loon [1882-1944], who month after month, year after year, sent additions and changes for this edition”.  I haven’t seen but am willing to believe in C. Van Minnen, Van Loon: Popular Historian, Journalist, and FDR Confidant (2005; F.D. Roosevelt 1882-1945), all which appellations I understand to be correct.

Since one speaks of Rembrandts, or Cézannes, it might be tempting to call his illustrations Toony Loons, but his name rhymes with hone, not moon; he told people to think of loan.  So much of him resonates with us that it might be tempting to say It’s a proud and Loonly thing to be a fan.

His Folly is J. Wilson’s 1668 translation, with L’s eighty-page Life.  I could quarrel with him.

He says “stuffing the book full of learned notes…. might have caused … resentment [when] the erudition of the professor became the real center of interest” (p. 86), leaving readers with no help for Endymion, Momus, Priapus (just to take p. 116), nor perhaps realizing e.g. that in “the Musitian with all his division” (p. 127), division was a technical term of music in the 17th Century.

With “the burghers of Erasmus’ day were completely provincial” (p. 67), “Erasmus [1466-1536] and Luther [1483-1546] were bound to dislike each other….  dressed differently…. laughed at a different kind of joke…. for one of them was a Dutch burgher and the other, a German peasant” (pp. 70-71), he seems to have forgotten explaining “the Middle Ages were … cosmopolitan … in the matter of a common culture and a common code of manners” (p. 56).

Folly is dedicated to Sir Thomas More; alas, Van Loon says M’s Utopia (1516) “represents … England … ruled on a basis of justice and enlightenment” (p. 62).  Utopia is a satire.

The 1993 Penguin Classics ed’n has the 1971 B. Radice translation with A. Levi’s introduction, notes including discoveries since R died in 1985, and markings of E’s revisions through 1532 (E seems to have written Folly privately for M in 1509, rev. for publication 1511 which was faulty, the first ed’n E authorized was 1512, then several more — I couldn’t resist; E’s own title Moriás ’Encómion is a Greek pun [the book is mostly in Latin] on M’s name and anóitos, fool), also E’s 1515 letter to Maarten van Dorp.

The 2015 Princeton Classics ed’n has a foreword by A. Grafton with H. Hudson’s 1941 introduction, translation, outline, notes, and index of proper names (incidentally, both H & R avoid division, H p. 29, R p. 36).  I find Levi’s notes more (shan’t apologize) helpful, and they’re at the feet of pages, where notes belong.  His introduction, which does give the scholarly ground on which E stood, is perhaps a little heavy-handed and Hudson’s better.

But who can set aside Van Loon?  If you know the players without a program, if you know 17th Century English (which he chose “because in [W’s] revaluation of the original Latin he seems to have caught a great deal of the liveliness and vigor of the Erasmian text”, p. 86), if you know the issues of the day enough to catch the jokes, if you can tell when a satirist’s editor has his own axe to grind (meaning all these folks), get him.

Is The Praise of Folly worth your taking up Hudson, then Levi & Radice, then Van Loon & Wilson?  You jes’ betcha.


Looney Tunes, Warner Bros. 1930-1969; toon, apparently Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (R. Zemeckis dir. 1988).  “It is a proud and lonely thing to be a fan”, R. Bloch’s “A Way of Life” (1956, the pun already circulating in fanzines; “It is a proud and lonely thing to be a man”, W. Macfarlane’s “To Watch the Watchers”, 1949 [Quis custodiet ipsos custodes {Latin, “Who shall guard the guardians?”; Juvenal’s Satire VI, ll. 347-48, about the year 100} had already appeared, brilliantly, in Heinlein’s Space Cadet, 1948]).

Fantasy or Science Fiction: Do You Know Your Stuff?

[Republished as a post by permission of the author.]

By Camestros Felapton: Materials classified as either fantasy or SF. A handy list so you can keep your novel from wandering off into the wrong genre.

wood = fantasy

metal = both

metal subtypes:

iron = fantasy

wrought iron = steam punk

steel = both

sub-sub types

stainless steel = SF

damascus steel = historical fantasy

aluminium = SF

gold = fantasy

silver = fantasy

platinum = cyberpunk

chrome = cyberpunk

lead = steam punk

copper = fantasy and steampunk


brass = steampunk

bronze = fantasy

tin = historical romance set in Cornwall

adamantium = high fantasy or superhero

plastic = SF

glass = both

any substance with “synth” in its name = SF

any substance with “elvish” or “dwarvish” in its name = fantasy

ale (without modifier) = fantasy

ale (with modifier of alien species) = SF

beer = both

wine = fantasy

vodka (unless overtly in an Eastern European setting) = cyberpunk

gin = steam punk

leather = fantasy (but see note for “synth” above)

fur = fantasy

gutta-percha = steam punk

silicon = cyberpunk (unless modified by “based life form” in which case SF)

sulphur = horror

phosphorus = both

carbon = punk (cyber or steam)

hydrogen (in atmosphere) = SF

hydrogen (inside a blimp) = steampunk

helium = see hydrogen

all other named elements not already mentioned above = SF

rock = fantasy

mineral = SF

lava = fantasy

magma = SF

granite = fantasy

limestone = some sort of historical novel set in England about a misunderstood young person finding their way in the world

sandstone = steam punk

coal = why are you even asking? Steam punk obviously.

shale = none, shale is not allowed in any genre

slate = fantasy or steam punk

marble = both

rubber = steam punk

latex = cyber punk

spandex = ironic parodies of superheroes

wool = fantasy or dystopian YA

linen = fantasy

cotton = steam punk

silk = both and/or silkpunk

flax = fantasy

methane (in general) = SF


marsh gas = fantasy

natural or manufactured gas = steam punk

farts = fantasy

biogas = post-apoclayptic

This was a good use of my time.

The New Science Friction

By Steve Davidson: Everybody is getting hung up on SF definitions, usually ending up by arguing over sub-genres.  The problem is not with Science Fiction, the problem is to be found in the definitions themselves.  They are inaccurate, do not define boundaries accurately and are misleading.

In order to rectify the situation, a selection of definitions for popular sub genres of science fiction are herein offered:

Hard Science Fiction:  A science fiction work that is impossible for anyone not possessing genius level cognitive abilities to understand (and even then…).  Alternatively, a science fiction work that no reviewer has managed to read past the first chapter, (often confused with “Bad Science Fiction”).

Space Opera:  Published as a libretto, and always in Italian.  Very few true extant examples of Space Opera can be found, as few authors manage to find suitable arrangements for their arias.

Mundane Science Fiction:  Only found in newspapers under “Headlines”.  Based on the concept that fiction should reflect reality, its purpose is often explained as “real life sucks, your fiction should too”.

Alternate History:  Taught in charter schools supported by DeVos’s Dept. of Education;  follows the civics section on “Alternate Facts”.  (It’s a nice segue…alternate facts lead to alternate history…)

Military Science Fiction:  Any science fiction work shipped to a war zone in support of our troops.  (Works may or may not retain this status when removed from a war zone.)

Steampunk:  Science Fiction for people who may understand plumbing, but not electricity.

Dieselpunk: Science Fiction for people who may understand electricity, but not electronics.

Cyberpunk: Science Fiction for people who DON’T want to understand electronics.

Superhuman Science Fiction:  Previously referred to as “comic books”; now a major motion picture.

Space Western:  Science Fiction that is based entirely and solely on white, anglo-saxon, western-European cultural precepts.  Hitler’s The Iron Dream is frequently held up as an exemplar.

Apocalyptic Science Fiction:  Science Fiction based in the here and now.  Unlike Mundane Science Fiction, ASF is less discriminatory in its reliance on believable scientific extrapolation;  for example, a whole sub-branch of this sub-genre is devoted to alternate realities in which Donald J. Trump was elected to the presidency of the United States.

Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction: Science Fiction that takes place in a very near-future time frame.  Specifically, beginning at 1 second following the end of Trump’s term in office and extending until the heat death of the universe.

Libertarian Science Fiction:  formerly a branch of Apocalyptic SF, Libertarian Science Fiction – frequently referred to as “I can too play with myself in public, I have rights, ya know!?” – has now been relegated to that branch of literature known as “Fantasy”.

Feminist Science Fiction:  A movement of late has attempted to remove “Feminist” from the label.  In point of fact, most author’s desire the label, deserving or not, as it almost guarantees that white people will be featured on the cover art.  Most lexicographers consider it to be synonymous with “Science Fiction”.

Science Fiction Romance: Two alternate definitions prevail here:  1: Bodice Ripper In Spaaaaaaaace!  (This rarely results in successful fiction as the object of desire almost always dies within a few seconds of their spacesuit’s bodice being ripped.)  2. See previous definition for Feminist Science Fiction

Easy to remember blanket definition:  It’s fantasy, with science.  Maybe.