[APAK logo] Issue #71, December 13th, 1996

And Now, Your Letters

[ APH: All the letters this month seemed to consider either TAFF or the definition of aggressive driving. We start with a letter from PAMELA BOAL (4 Westfield Way, Wantage, Oxon OX12 7EW UK) who leads a group of British and Australian readers just now getting to comment on #69: ]

'Victor, of course the people involved in getting Martin Tudor to America despite the malfeasance of Abi Frost should have informed fandom in general; as soon as possible. Given the time scale of events beforehand their reasons for silence are acceptable. The delay after the event, caused by illness, was admitted and apologies given. I think your use of the word cabal and the slight implication that funds raised during Martin's trip might not be used as fans would wish, is intemperate. Mistakes happen, in this case the first mistake, in electing Abi Frost, was one shared by many people. While you may not agree with the actions of the people involved you surely must acknowledge that they acted with expediency because they care about TAFF and in some cases with great generosity.

'I must note in defense of Ted White's mother and wife that it is a matter of viewpoint. The ability to judge speed and distance and reaction times do vary from person to person. Those instincts can be improved with practice, I do not think it is a matter of gender but of practice and expectations. I suspect that Ted is not very often in the passenger seat or he would realize that firstly the passenger sees that oncoming car from a different angle and secondly when he makes that left hand turn betimes he completes it, his attention is on the road ahead, the oncoming car is then much nearer to his passenger to himself. The passenger is visually aware of just how close was Ted's call.

'I have never driven a car but I do drive our river launch while Derek handles the rope. As we approach a mooring or lock side Derek will often yell slow down when I am already in neutral or even in reverse (boats don't have brakes) or come over when I have already turned the wheel and have my hand on the throttle to get leeway. From his viewpoint, he can't see my actions, only the wall or bank coming up, nor can he know precisely which bit of bank I have in mind especially when he has mentally chosen a nearer bit without telling me. Fortunately there isn't a great deal of aggressive driving on the river but plenty of idiots who swim, punt, row or jump off bridges in a fashion that would indicate that they believe boats do have brakes. Perhaps the term positive driving would be better than aggressive today, as there are so many drivers who do become aggressive and out to get the other driver once at the wheel.'

[ VMG: Surely I did acknowledge that the reasons given were valid, and I'm willing to admit great generosity on the part of others. But the administrators of the fund are still responsible to the voters, in my opinion, and, as I've said before, this will surely leave a bad taste in the mouths of some. I've been surprised by the strength of the British reaction to my column, which I felt was written with diplomacy.

"Cabal" is defined as "a number of persons secretly united and using devious and undercover means to bring about an overturn or usurpation." In this case, there was nothing overturned or usurped, except for the idea that every voter ought to be able to make up their own minds about how to spend their money. Knowledge, as we all know, is power. ]

[ APH: Now, KAREN PENDER-GUNN (P.O. Box 567 Black-burn, Victoria 3130 Australia, e-mail to K.PENDER-GUNN@ bl1.lib.latrobe.edu.au) speaks for many readers who metaphorically threw up their hands (always a messy process) in response to Ted's driving comments: ]

'I have been reading with interest the comments about driving in your fanzine-whose-name-I-cannot-spell. I think I would be "eaten alive" by the drivers in the US. I am a defensive driver. I drive at the speed limit. I don't run yellow lights. I leave at least half a car space between myself and the car in front. I indicate I am turning well before I do. I pull over and let more-aggressive drivers get past (I would rather they were in front of me when they do something dangerous!)

'As a result of this I arrive at my destination calm, relaxed and cool. No shouting comments on driver's parentage or sexual preferences for me. I think if I ever get to the US, I will stay a passenger.'

[ APH: Ah, but in whose car, Karen?

TRACY BENTON (315 Island Dr. #4, Madison, WI 53705) speaks for those comfortable not to know everything:  ]

'I was pleased to see fast follow-up on "Topic Abi" before a lot of useless speculation and heart burning could muddy the waters. I rather admire the TAFF administrators for keeping the whole situation quiet as long as they could. Everyone would have undergone months of endless theory-creation about where the money had gone, what legal action (if any) could be taken, and the rumor mills would have been working overtime with unconfirmed "facts" about what was happening overseas. I suppose this might have happened anyway, but at least the fannish community at the Worldcon was saved from having this pall thrown over their party. Thanks very much for your quick reporting on this subject. But I have to wonder about your statement in the lettercol: "While I'm still quite unhappy with Abi for letting things get so far out of hand, no matter what her mental state may have been . . . " This sentence bothers me. If Abi is actually lying, and she just decided to blow the money on, say, a trip to Iceland, than I am quite unhappy with her myself. And so should we all be. However, if she's telling the truth, then basically she was sick and subject to a huge amount of financial disasters. Mental illness of that magnitude is in fact illness. Under such stress as she apparently described to Gary, I think almost anyone would have turned despairing eyes to all that money sitting in the TAFF account, especially if one was running the risk of becoming homeless.

'Having just been lucky enough to receive a copy of Never Quite Arriving #5 from Christina Lake during her flying visit to Madison -- during which I was reminded that conversation with her is quite addictive -- I was eager to read Victor's thoughts on the zine. I agree with his points about writing for a particular audience or size of audience, particularly in regard to how being outside the set of intended readers forces the writer to add more detail or risk losing the readers. And he's right about NQA #5; Christina does indeed include enough detail that you can follow her trip as a non-present observer. Victor, however, does do her a bit of injustice when he criticizes her apparently confusing writing in a couple of places. I had no problem with those sections at all, and this is due to the paragraphs leading up to the sentences he cites. I think that quoting those out of context makes them appear more opaque than they actually are. In fact . . . I got the impression that Victor was struggling to say something, anything, negative about the fanzine so that his article would not seem like a total hail-and-praise of NQA #5. That's okay . . . I just would have picked different microscopically minor flaws myself.

'Seems like any time I'm struggling to come up with an erudite retort which won't make me sound like a total foam-at-the-mouth militant feminist, there's Jae Leslie Adams ahead of me, pulling thoughts out of my head and writing them up a thousand times better than I could have. I read "Zen Driving" muttering to myself: Yes! Yes! That's right! You tell 'em Jae! I am personally of the opinion that the safest way to drive on the nation's roads is predictably. As long as everyone tends to drive in the way that most other people expect, nobody needs Ted's super spider senses. When the unpredictable happens, Ted may be more likely to survive than some; but Jae and I, at our comfy following distance, should make it out alive as well.

'And just a last note in regard to Victor's comments inside your lettercol; my acquaintance with Finnegan's Wake is not from James Joyce but from an Irish song often performed at Irish Fest in Milwaukee; in that situation, the name of the man who rises from his bier after being splashed with whiskey was in fact Finnegan as opposed to Finn. I wonder which came first, the novel or the song?'

[ VMG: I disagree entirely about the criticism of Never Quite Arriving. Those flaws are real. They dropped like cinderblocks the first time I read the zine. There is no way I could compress my feelings on seeing the AIDS quilt into two sentences and feel like I'd done it justice. You may disagree, but in my view Christina simply used throwaways to get her out of what would have been longer and more difficult passages.

On the Joyce point, the song came first. It is what Joyce uses as the basis for those parts of the book. And, I'll have to admit, the guy's name was probably Finnegan. But I'd also bet that he's referred to as "Finn" in the book, and that that's a common nickname for Finnegans. ]

[ APH: Tracy, I know that mental illness is real illness, but being sick is an explanation, not an all-purpose excuse. Some British commentators have observed that they find it suspiciously convenient for Abi to develop a syndrome which minimized her contact with demanding fans, prevented her from satisfactorily discharging her duties as TAFF administrator and provided a ready excuse for her misuse of TAFF money. For my part, I find it more convenient to take what she tells us at face value. I think we all have some sympathy for Abi's mental illness, but that does little to blunt our frustration, or my anger, at the fact that she nearly managed to drag a 40-year fannish tradition down with her.

Never very enthused by Abi Frost is JOHN HARDIN (1140 Beaver Creek Blvd., Reynoldsburg, OH 43068, e-mail to JWesHardin@ AOL.COM), who tries to make us blush: ]

'Just re-read #70 for the third time. What a great issue. I honestly believe this is the best APAK I've seen in a long time. I'm sure you guys can think of others that you would consider for the nomination, but this is perhaps the best APAK ever.

'Like everyone else in fandom, I was relieved to hear the news about TAFF (though why I should be relieved, I do not know). Abi Frost's behavior on her TAFF trip is much easier to explain in light of psychotic breaks and chronic depression. Or perhaps her subsequent breakdown was in fact caused by every fan in Las Vegas thinking black thoughts about her for a couple of years. Hard to say.

'By this point you're probably sick of hearing about how other people drive, but Jae Adams' article made me rethink Ted White's column on the same subject. I don't claim to have any innate skill behind the wheel. I suppose I would get the Ted White seal of approval because I am aggressive when it comes time to insert my two ton metal body into the flow of traffic and I have little patience for drivers who seem petrified to be behind the wheel. I also consider myself a safe and courteous driver. I always use my turn signals, and I always use them well before it's time to make my turn. People out here in Ohio have the infuriating habit of turning on their turn signal as they make their turn. As far as I'm concerned, this is worse than not using a signal at all. No signal means you're thoughtless; turning then signaling means you're stupid.

'You guys should buy Lesley Reece a Stairmaster with an attached word processor.

'Andy, you only belie your gruff exterior when you throw yourself in front of a train so Janice Murray can take the DUFF trip. Good luck, or something.

'Victor's insightful review of Never Quite Arriving made me wish that a copy of this fanzine had arrived at my mailbox. Hell, I'd settle for a subscription to FOSFAX.'

[ VMG: Thanks for the egoboo, John. Good to see you're in the zine. Now, PAUL SKELTON (25 Bowland Close, Offerton, Stockport, Cheshire SK2 5NW United Kingdom) offers some last comments on issue #68: ]

'I guess I'm the kind of guy who proves Ted's point. I am both a non-aggressive driver, and at the same time not a very good driver (having learned late in life and had very little driving experience). I agree that it is excessive (in the circumstances) speed that kills, rather than just speed per se. Even so, if the motorway traffic is light, on such good roads I do find I have a tendency to edge up towards 80. But I do fight it, and anyway Cas is usually sitting next to me, her eyes glued to the speedo, her angle of vision adding about 5 mph to the speed I'm actually doing, and her "nag" engines cranked up to Warp Factor 8.

'I have an odd relationship with timepieces. I've never needed an alarm clock to get up in the morning. My biological clock serves me quite satisfactorily in this regard, and Cas's two Yorkshire Terriers are a more than adequate safety device. I wouldn't have thought myself overly dependent upon a wristwatch either, but on the occasions when mine has been out of service I've been amazed at the number of times I've glanced at my bare left wrist. It could of course be that I attempt to check the time more frequently when I have no watch, the need being almost instinctive and therefore kicking in before the intellectual awareness that I have no watch can pre-empt it.

'I loved that line of (Edward Byron?) Frohvet's "I apologize for being so long between letters, but I was waiting for the Hugo results." Accordingly let me say that ditto ditto etcetera . . . but I was waiting for Armageddon. If his excuse is okay, then mine has to be solid gold, right?

'Actually I don't see any problem in somebody operating in fandom under a pseudonym provided they acknowledge that fact up front. I mean, who knows what reasons people have for doing things? I don't really know what reason I have for doing things, and I know me like the back of my hand. . . . okay, so I don't spend much time studying the back of my hands. I kind of see one of them peripherally whilst glancing at my watch . . . or rather glancing at where my watch should be if I don't happen to have one. That's "watch," not "back of hand." I think I should quit now, whilst I'm behind, don't you?'

[WAHF: Harry Andruschak, Bill Bodden, Lindsay Crawford, Tom Ferguson, George Flynn, Judith Hanna, Bridget Hardcastle, Irwin Hirsh, Jerry Kaufman, Robert Lichtman, Murray Moore, Sarah Prince, Alison Scott (of the Sahara), Karen Schaffer, Alan Stewart, and Harry Warner. We got rather squeezed this issue, but we sincerely appreciate all your mail. ]

The house got up, ran around the block

[APAK logo] Issue #71, December 13th, 1996

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