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“…why must I always keep
‘I built a time machine
that univents itself.’”//
but try proving
I never did…”//
“You’re the one making
the extraordinary claim
so you need to provide
“Do you see a time machine?”//
“There you are.”//
art by Roy G. Krenkel
story © Buzz Dixon
…I’d still be reading superhero comics.
Black Widow Skottie Young Variant
…I thought, “Why in the world would anyone want to do something like that?!?!?”
If you’re going to insist on
indulging in this sorta thing
DON’T BLAME ME!
In a lifetime of seeking out odd movies, few have come odder than this. If you’re a fan of low brow bawdy English musical hall comedy, offbeat low budget films, and/or a sci-fi completist have we got a movie for you!
Bees In Paradise is a 1944 quote quickie produced while England was still in the thick of WWII (though eventual victory was in sight). It mines the old trope of an idyllic society of females but does so with a decidedly contemporary twist: Though World War Two is never mentioned directly, it’s clear from the dialog that the women in the story have in direct response to the conflict raging around them deliberately rejected the war-like patriarchy of the Western world and set up on a remote island a new civilization deliberately patterned after a beehive. Males are kept (off camera) as workers and breeders; they have two months of mating time with a female in order to produce offspring and then they’re either executed or set adrift in a canoe!
Into the middle of this crash lands a civilian bomber ferry crew. There is, of course, rivalry among the females for the four men, a lot of songs, silly vaudeville routines, musical numbers, and the obligatory English male comedian in drag. What’s surprising is the straight forward discussion of gender politics, socio-economic systems, and women’s right to sexual self-determination.
Singin’ In The Rain this aint.
It also ain’t very entertaining. Oh, you have no idea how much I wish I could like this movie, even a little, but it just never ever jells on screen. Individual bits and routines bring an occasional smile (two comics try emulating a bit of Road To… movie business and when it fails moan that it always worked for Hope & Crosby!) but there’s just nobody in the movie to arouse any empathy with, the songs are clever and competent instead of actually entertaining, and the production itself looks rather threadbare (though they got excellent use out of sets left over from The Thief Of Baghdad).
I think it would be stretching things quite a bit to say that Bees In Paradise was an influence on Abbott & Costello Go To Mars or Queen Of Outer Space or even Invasion Of The Bee Girls, but it clearly got there first and did the most with the core idea. To that we tip our sci-fi propeller beanies.
The movie was directed and co-written by Val Guest, who later went on to write and/or direct such B-movie classics as the first Quatermass films, The Day The Earth Caught Fire, and When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth; he was also part of the delirious, glorious mess that was the first film version of Casino Royale. What interest Bees In Paradise has for film buffs is that it’s a decidedly offbeat take on English morale during the middle of WWII, using a sci-fi setting ala Twilight Zone to examine a more serious issue, in this case the rapid change in gender roles and expectations brought about by the war.
 England restricted the number of foreign films that could be shown in the UK by requiring a certain percentage of home grown product for all films shown. In order to get the more popular Hollywood features, UK distributors often booked cheap, inexpensive British made films to raise the number of allowable imports. These were called “quota quickies” and were the equivalent of American B-movies (double features in the US would have an A feature and a B feature, so called because of their placement on the billing, but revenues for the double feature would be divided evenly between the two; US distributors would run low budget exploitation films along with higher priced major studio fare and receive a kickback from the low budget film maker).
 Pilots and air crew unfit for military service due to disabilities or age often were hired to fly military aircraft from their point of construction to their theater of service, thus freeing military pilots for combat duty.
 Meanwhile, as Guest was churning out this movie in merrie olde Englande, across the channel Marcel Carne was making his epic masterpiece Les Enfants Du Paradis right under the noses of the Nazis.
original art by Edd Cartier
Greetings, esteemed rhyparographer,
may your polyps explode with fecund alacrity.
Greetings to you, Kelvenor, may your
polyps explode with fecund alacrity as well.
You have come to brief me on the species
known as “humans”, is that not correct?
Yes, extreme nannicock. You will be meeting
their delegation in a few tidal cycles, so we thought
it best you have some understanding of them.
Very well. Give me the briefing. Briefly.
Yes, palpitating nihilarian.
To begin with, humans breathe oxygen
– a trait they share in common with us.
Good, good. I hate holding my breath
when dealing with methane users.
They come, however, from a planet with far greater
gravitational pull than our own, almost 100% more.
How can this be? Any planet much larger than ours
develops far too thick an atmosphere and becomes
an inhospitable hot house of gases.
Yes, venerated sermocinatrix, just as any planet
significantly smaller than us is too small to retain
enough of an atmosphere to support advanced multi-cellular life.
The humans, however, come from a planet with
a large, closely orbiting moon; so large, in fact,
they almost qualify as a double planet system.
This large moon strips much of their atmosphere away,
giving them a surface pressure not much denser than our own.
Hmmm, very well. Proceed.
Thank you, elongated entermeter. Because of their higher gravity,
humans are significantly smaller than us, but much more compact
and densely fleshed. They are extremely strong and by our standards
their reflexes are incredibly quick; this is because of their unique
evolutionary background as both predators and arboreal animals.
Predator ancestors, eh? My upper nostrils quiver with anxiety.
I hate dealing with predators, no matter how evolved they might be.
I trust the humans will not attempt to consume me?
Probably not, benevolent bematist,
but they do consume ethanol for amusement.
Yes, profound polyhistor. I know it’s a deadly poison but…
If I didn’t know you better, Kelvenor,
I might think you were jiggling my tendrils.
Never, gyroscopic gradgrind.
Hmmm, very well. Allow me time to digest this.
Anything further about humans that might be of use to me?
Well…there is one thing, but I don’t know if it’s worthy of mention.
The humans, great pontificator, use organs similar to our own
optical sensors that they commonly refer to as “eyes” in order
to use visible light to examine their surroundings.
Yes, yes, get on with it. I haven’t got all nychthemeron.
Well, unlike our species, in which our eight optical organs
are spaced evenly around our coxal extremities, humans
have only two eyes, and they both face directly forward
from their upper pseudopod.
How can they possibly see all the way around themselves?
Puts them at a decided disadvantage, doesn’t it?
One would think, wouldn’t one?
Yet they compensate for their lack of circular vision
with a substitute they refer to as “depth perception.”
Anybody can look at something
and see if it’s deep or not.
Well, yes and no, torpid tripotage. Before the discovery of
triangulation, our species could look at an object and guess
if it was near or far based on the quality of the image we saw:
Was it larger or smaller than a similar object whose distance we
knew, was the color sharper or fainter, the details clearer or lost?
When great Zabono published his/her/its theorem that proved
if one knew the size of a distant object and one took two visual
measurements from two separate points –
– and if one knew the distance between those two points one could
then calculate the actual distance of the object in question, yes, yes,
I know that. Every third year crèche inductee knows that.
Get on with your briefing.
My point, undulating ugsomeness, is that humans don’t
need to calculate the distance. They can simply look at
something and see the distance between it and them,
and they call this “depth perception”.
Anybody can look at something and see it is distant from them!!!
Yes, hovering heimganger, but the humans do something
different than simply see the distance. They see — and there’s
no way to describe this other than using their term — the depth
between the object and them.
How is this any different from you or I or your fecund spawner
looking at something and saying, “I am here and it is there”?!?!?
Thunderous tractatrix, the humans see exactly the same thing
you or I or my spawner would see, but they also see the distance
between us and the object, and this distance that they see is called “depth”.
You’re starting to grind my mucus glands, Kelvenor.
What does this fecund “depth” as you call it look like?
That’s just it, opulent rhinarium. I asked,
and it doesn’t “look” like anything.
It’s invisible? No shape, no form, no color?
None. It’s just…there…and the humans can see it
and instantly know how distant something is.
So they’re just good guessers.
Parenthetical paraclete, my apologies for being contradictory, but no.
They actually see…something. From what they describe the two eyes
on their upper pseudopod do not see two separate fields of vision
the way our eight ocular organs see eight separate fields of vision,
but rather the two eyes overlap into something they call “binocular vision”
and this is what enables them to see “depth”.
Why would evolution allow any creature to develop
two eyes that share one single field of view?!?!?
That makes no fecund sense!
I agree, ovulating nomothete, and yet…there it is. The humans are
capable of seeing something that is invisible to all other species,
something that cannot be demonstrated to any other intelligent life
yet is intrinsic to their own, something that cannot be duplicated or quantified.
They can look at an object — or two or three or hundreds of objects – and
see instantly that each is on a different spatial plane from the other.
If they are floating in space with no point of reference, they can still
look at an object and see the depth between it and them.
Know what I think, Kelvenor?
I shudder to ask, encyclopedic eminence.
I think you are out of your fecund mind.
And you want to know why I think you are out of your fecund mind?
Because if you weren’t out of your fecund mind, I’d think you were trying
to yank my fecund uterosacral ligament, and you know what happens to
presumptive underlings who yank my uterosacral ligament?
The excretion chamber, if I recall correctly.
Permanent personal hygiene patrol.
Precisely! Now, it’s clear to me these humans have bumfuzzled you,
probably got a big vestibular gland jiggle out of putting one across
the impressionable young polymorph. This “depth” you talk about
clearly does not exist, cannot exist! An invisible “something” that
exists between all objects but only humans can see it — nonsense!
Know what I call it? Distance!
A thousand and one apologies, magnificent musophobist,
but humans know and recognize distance. If they were to lose
the use of one of their eyes, they would lose the ability
to see “depth” and could only see distance the way we do.
I’ll tell you what they saw, you simple minded fecund dolt!
They saw you coming and realized they could put one past you
and so hoped they could put one past me and by extension our
entire hive-cluster! Well, they’ve got another digestive reaction
coming! They may be able to fool you but they’ll never fool me.
“Depth” indeed! A myth! A lie! An utter falsehood!
…and yet, they say they see it…
© Buzz Dixon
One of the funniest jokes ever in the original Saturday Night Live was a throwaway background gag. The main skit was set in a home or apartment with a radio playing. While the main action of the skit was going on, from the radio the following was heard:
Announcer (Don Pardo):
And now Sandy Duncan for VHF View Master!
Sandy Duncan (Gilda Radner):
Wait…what…I don’t get it…what am I supposed to be seeing here?
Not all animals enjoy depth perception. Depth perception is the ability to judge distances visually. Many animals, particularly herbivores with eyes on the side of their heads, have two or three overlapping fields of view: They can see on either side of their bodies (sometimes almost all the way behind them even when facing forward) and occasionally can overlap both their fields of view directly but very narrowly ahead. While the smarter animals can judge distance based on what are referred to as monocular clues (relative size, amount of detail, shift in color due to dust or fog, etc.) they lack genuine depth perception.
Real depth perception — the kind exploited by View Master — is found in predators and arboreal animals such as primates. Predators and tree-dwellers tend to have only one field of vision — straight ahead — but blend input from both eyes together to form one single image. The key difference between them and herbivores is that while predators and arboreal animals enjoy all the depth perception clues monocular animals enjoy, they are able to process them in a radically different matter.
Simply put, they see “depth”.
And for a predator or a tree-dweller, the ability to immediately perceive and understand “depth” is crucial to their survival.
Without it, they’ll miss a meal…
…or a branch.
Now, it’s easy to imagine a sci-fi story where monocular or overlapping field of view aliens simply can’t grasp this binocular sense among humans.
Oh, they get the idea of triangulation and visual clues to indicate distance, but the idea of “depth” is beyond them. Yes, they get it that when a human refers to “depth” they are referring to a distance that can be measured out in concrete terms. Yes, they understand that it’s possible to process visual information well enough to make a good, accurate assessment of an object’s distance.
But…”depth”…? That ineffable, indescribable, impossible to quantify/capture/put in a bottle sensation — no, knowledge! – that one object is occupying an entirely differently plane of space than another object…?
Nonsense! Doesn’t exist! Can’t exist! You’re just making it up, creating a myth to explain away simple scientific facts.
Yeah…right…only people with binocular vision can see and recognize and appreciate depth and those without it can see and recognize and appreciate distance…
…but they’ll never ever grasp the spatial relationship
at the intrinsic level of those with binocular vision.
Talking with atheists about things of the spirit is like handing Sandy Duncan a View Master.
The atheists are not wrong. They are seeing/experiencing the same things we believers see & feel. Their analysis, at least on the surface level, are usually spot on and accurate.
They just can’t grasp those things in the same manner we do.
Now, this analogy isn’t flawless and perfect, but it serves my point well enough.
Some people have never had the chance to develop this spiritual binocular vision. Like a child with amblyopia, they have a spiritual “lazy eye” that has never been properly utilized.
Others have lost this binocular vision, usually from exposure to hypocrisy and deceit from purported believers (such as their parents, their church, their society…). In some cases these injuries can be healed, in others they can’t. In some cases — typically the ones with hope of healing – the person remembers what it was like before their injury robbed them of this special sight.
In other cases, they have forgotten, or worse still have created barriers to healing because they fear being hurt again.
Finally, there are those who apparently cannot, never have, and never ever will grasp what believers intuitively sense. Some of these may want to believe they possess such a spiritual vision, and will use all the monocular clues available to pass as a two-eyed person, others are not content to recognize they lack such vision but seem duty-bound to inform everyone who claims such vision that they must be wrong and delusional.
 I’m guessing Michael O’Donoghue wrote it but it sounds mean spirited enough to have come from Chevy Chase as well.
 For those of you in the vast majority who don’t know who Sandy Duncan was/is, she is a model/actress/singer/comedienne who briefly flirted with major stardom in the early 1970s, only to be set back by a bout of ocular cancer. Duncan’s great appeal was the combination of her off-beat looks (she resembles a baby ostrich; a cute baby ostrich, mind you…) and her sparkling personality. At a time when far too many female performers were presented as perfect exemplars of glamour, Duncan resonated with audiences as a real, fun-to-know, and appealing character. She reassured girls that they didn’t have to look perfect to be lovable and desirable, and she demonstrated to boys that it pays to look below the surface. In 1971 CBS took a chance with her as a rising young star and cast her in Funny Face, a delightful sit-com about a struggling actress/model. The show was cleverly written, brilliantly cast, and proved popular with audiences. Instead of holding the show on hiatus while Duncan recovered from her surgery, CBS cancelled Funny Face and retooled a brand new sit-com around Duncan when she returned (with a new writing staff and new supporting cast). Lightning, alas, could not be captured twice in a bottle, and the new show floundered quickly & badly. Duncan had the potential of reaching Mary Tyler Moore or Carol Burnett’s career level, but lost her one big chance to do so. She continues performing to this day.
 In fact, I will… (And I did!)
 When I write about scripture, I try to use the term “plain text” instead of “literal” when describing the actual content of the chapter or verses in question. I do this so the actual message of the text — the information, as it were — can be isolated and examined without debating signal-to-noise ratios, which is what both atheists and literalists tend to focus on at the expense of the real content. It’s like trying to appreciate Beethoven’s Ode To Joy on a distant radio station instead of arguing with audiophiles about the quality of amplitude and frequency in the radio waves.
 An obverse of the old saw “in the country of the blind the one-eyed man is king”.
I must ask you to leave
the other diners
what about them?
you disturb them
you think I am not
disturbed by them?
monsieur, do not make this
more difficult, si vous plait
now I am determined
to make this more difficult
much more difficult
eh! clown! go!
you are not wanted here!
I am not wanted anywhere
see? take your friends and go
these are not,
as you say,
we don’t care who they are!
take them and go to the devil
you mock me, clown?
I mock your ignorance
“go to the devil” indeed
I have half a mind –
half a mind?
that is more than
I gave you credit for
that is enough!
begone with you!
…or what, monsieur…?
what threat do you hold
in your pocket?
what can you possibly say
to me that will make
me quiver in
I shall call the police –
– and tell them what?
that you felt threatened
by a clown?
that a man wearing
white greasepaint terrifies you
darkens your soul?
that at night you fear
that you will go to
and as you cross
the courtyard you
will see a glimpse of
and your mouth will go dry
and you won’t be able to swallow
and you will want to retreat
to your pathetic little room
but like a rat
drawn to a boa constrictor
you will step closer
and closer still
to see what it is
and then you will see
in the moonlight
threatening me, monsieur?
or else you
chose to make
such a spectacle
you are the
what will you do now, monsieur
now that I no longer disagree with you?
monsieur, si vous plait
do not let this go on
your drinks…your friends’ drinks
they are all on the house
go, si vous plait
shall you see me go?
or do you wish me to stay?
by your silence
me to go
come, my companions
there are other bistros
that will welcome our patronage
oh, and monsieur, I see that you
have a very fine goatee
do you shave yourself
or do you visit the barber?
I ask, because I would like to know
if I need to bring my own razor
© Buzz Dixon
painting by Edward Hopper
a voice deep, guttural
charred by brimstone:
are you my daddy?
are you my daddy?
are you my daddy?
are you my daddy?
are you my daddy?
are you my daddy?
are you my daddy?
are you my daddy?
are you my daddy?
are you my daddy?