Saturday, December 17, 2016

"For Duty and Humanity!"

Last night Turner Classic Movies played the 1934 hospital drama, "Men in White", which starred Clark Gable and Myrna Loy.

I pointed out to my wife that The Three Stooges parody , "Men in Black", is much better remembered than the film itself.

'Calling Dr. Howard Dr. Fine Dr. Howard" is one of the Stooges' best known catch phrases, and the ending - when they tear up the intercom and finally silence it by pulling out revolvers and shooting the vacuum tube that is still chattering ("Oy, they got me!") is a trope of striking back at technology.
"Men in Black" was the third short made by the Stooges for Columbia and introduced a lot of the business they used in the 187 other films they later made, until 1959.

Ironically, "Men in Black" received an Academy Award nomination, in the Best Short Subject category. while the film it parodied didn't received any nominations - although it was very commercially successful.

Years later, the title "Men in Black" was co-opted by a totally different series of films.

The final irony? In 1998 National Lampoon made a straight-to-television parody of the Will Smith vehicle, and called it "Men in White".

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"It’s possible that you haven’t run into the stories of Lou Antonelli. Since 2003, he’s been publishing delightful short tales of alternate history all over the nooks and crannies of the SF world. Thanks to Fantastic Books, we now have 28 of these little gems in one place. "Many of Antonelli’s stories have an unexpected twist ending. And many of them are what he calls “secret history” stories, which aren’t exactly alternate history—they’re set in our familiar history, but there’s always some element that contemporary observers missed. " -

- Don Sakers, The Reference Library, Analog July-Aug. 2014

A better path develops for a distraught man in “Double Exposure” by Lou Antonelli (debut 6/11 and reviewed by Frank D). Jake is about to end it all. He has been trying to keep his high maintenance wife happy for decades and has needed to embezzle to satisfy her spending habits. Now, on the verge of indictment and abandoned by his spouse, he buys a gun. Before he pulls the trigger, he spies a Kodak one-day photo hut. Curious, he pulls up to the window. They are holding pictures of him and his last girlfriend from 30 years before. The package is a lot thicker than it should be. Double Exposure” is listed as an Alternative History story but I would classify it as a Magical Realism tale. It is set as a second chance tale, a look into a life that should have been. The author is inspired by his memories of the old photo huts (I remember them) and of their disappearance. A cool idea (photos of another life), one that I could imagine would make for a great anthology.

- Frank Dutkiewicz, Diabolical Plots

“Great White Ship”: A traveler stuck waiting for a flight strikes up a conversation with an old airline employee. The Old Timer tells him a story of a Great White Airship that arrives from a most unusual destination. The story of a craft from an alternate reality and how it got there is only the precursor to the final act. This is one of my favorite stories from this site. I have a great passion for lighter-than-air craft and their potential as a future means of transport, which opens the story. The author uses this speculation to launch into an engaging tale. As fascinating as the main story line is, the alternate history premise that accompanies it is just as worthwhile. This story was well written and very well thought out. It is well worth the read. Recommended.

- James Hanzelka, Diabolical Plots

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