[APAK logo] Issue #73, January 24th, 1997

And Now, Your Letters

[ APH: HOWARD WALDROP (Box 5103 Oso General Store, 30230 Oso Loop Rd., Arlington, WA 98223) sends his annual flood diary: ]

'Greetings from Snohomish County, home of the Blue Plastic Tarp. A rainy day, no money, and APAK #71. What more can there be to life?

'Stats come very late in the life of a culture (or a fanzine), somewhere between the rise of Caesarian and Second Religiosity, according to Oswald "Sweets" Spengler. You're batting .082 -- that stat that counts is 556 pages in 70 issues. (That's like Gehrig's total games started and played.)

'Andy's mound-builder research thing resonated (not just the subject matter -- I write a novel about them; the Mormons established a religion), but because of the manner in which Brown got into it. Texas had much the same thing, except in Paleontology -- most of the great dinosaur, giant turtle, mammoth/mastodon, dinosaur footprint stuff you see pictures of was found and dug out under the direction of a guy (a friend of the late Chad Oliver, of course) with a high school education and some junior college; the University, and the museums he worked for had him on the staff as essentially Shovel-Gang Foreman or something, since he didn't have any degrees. He could tell plagioclase feldspar from ordinary granite a hundred yards off, and once, driving through NE New Mexico with Chad, described exactly what happened the last time the Folsom crater erupted, just by looking around. He did the finding, the excavations, the preservation, etc., and somebody else signed the paperwork. The history of science could probably be written by looking at guys like him and Brown (especially since guys like Marsh and Cope, with the highest academic credentials in the world, used to blow up their digs when they were finished taking the first good stuff out, so nobody else could have them . . .)

'Greg Benford's piece reminds me why I only write novels every decade or so.

'I think for APAK #100, you should put out a zine so heavy it takes two stamps to mail.

'Does anybody but me find it truly exceptional, that there's a site on the WWW (I wouldn't have seen it unless it was on the computer screen at the New Year's Party) in which is reproduced a piece of art done in 12-color hectograph? (Two guys in 1936: "I envision a future, Bob . . . ." "What future, Bill?" "A future in which there will be a machine that will reproduce your fanzine The Fan-Comet instantly anywhere in the world, and . . . and . . . you won't have to get jelly on the staples!!")

'Plus le changé . . . Today, cheap instant quality reproduction worldwide. But tomorrow, tomorrow . . . nine copies, plus one for Tucker, and two for Ackerman!

'Have to write a story for the Aussies (and the Feb. rent).'

[ VMG: I agree. History is usually written by those who follow, not those who do. But I'm hoping that the information I've gathered will provide useful as an Apak index -- should anyone want to revisit a particular event -- as well as being interesting as statistics. The thing that's impressed me the most is not the total number of pages, but the fact that the fanzine has become more consistent over the course of the run.

I hope you survived the floods without much damage to your person or property. Here's to modern technology: telecommunications and the blue plastic tarp. ]

[ APH: The mounds you wrote about in Them Bones were part of the Mississippian tradition that stopped just 25 miles south of Madison, at a little town called Lake Mills. I've written a few pieces about that site, too. I feel remarkably lucky to have lived with the opportunity to see both types of mounds in my neighborhood.

JOHN D. BERRY (e-mail to jdb@jdb.seanet.com) offers a fast-breaking bulletin on Mr. Waldrop: ]

'I think you should be sure to tap your sometime correspondent Mr. Waldrop for tales of exotic faroof Swancon, which he is en route to even as we type. In fact, if Howard's sense of his schedule and my sense of time zones is correct, he is probably in the middle of the two-cent tour of Sydney at this very moment, during his 10- or 12-hour layover on the way to Perth. Terry Dowling and Nick Stathopoulos, stout men and true, were going to meet him at 6:00 Sunday morning when his plane got in; if there was any sort of fannish or other party the night before, as there may well have been on a Saturday night in midsummer, we can imagine that Howard, Terry, and Nick may be in approximately the same state of exhaustion and hilarity. If so, I wish I could be there to hear the dialog.

'Pretend this is a letter of comment on Apparatchik. It could be. Keep up the good work.'

[ APH: Speaking of Australia, we have a response on last issue's review of Ethel the Aardvark from CHERYL MORGAN (e-mail to 100610.3413@compuserve.com): ]

'I am most flattered by your find words about my article in Ethel. I'm glad you found it entertaining, but I hope it will not be unique. One of MSFC's policies in the run-up to Aussiecon Three is to encourage an international outlook amongst Aussie fans. That article is hopefully the first of an occasional series on how clubs in different parts of the world run. My next project is The Tun.'

[APH: Ah, but you shouldn't warn them you're coming -- they'll put their best face on for posterity.

Although this issue has a welcome lack of writing about driving, we continue to get letters on the subject, like this one from CATHY DOYLE (e-mail to cdoyle@visi.net): ]

'I'm really enjoying the driving discussion. I think part of the problem (and I haven't read this issue yet, including Ted's comments, in any depth), is that the social contract of the road is breaking down. Roads are just too crowded. Ted may drive safely and I may drive safely, but the idiot in front of us can't be trusted. I would love to develop this theory in greater depth, but it's late and I'm going to bed instead.'

[ VMG: There might be an aspect to being enclosed in a metal shell that allows all of us to be so impolite to each other on the road. In a car, you really can't resolve disputes without risking a life. It's a very strange way for humans to interact.

STEVEN DESJARDINS (e-mail to steven@desjardins.org) takes up the discussion of the fringe-fan writers of America and ffwa past-president Randy Byers: ]

'There's no contradiction in being elected Past Dictator-For-Life. In a mundane organization, of course, one would immediately have to check to see if the unlucky honoree was in fact dead and, if not, dispatch him; but since fandom is incapable of error then any Past Dictators-For-Life may be incontrovertibly presumed dead.

'Very interesting column on the Indian mounds. I read a book called Fantastic Archaeology a few years ago that explores some of the pseudoscientific ideas you alluded to, which credit these mounds to Vikings or Atlanteans or practically anyone with a white skin. We've advanced beyond that kind of foolishness, thank goodness, but the fact remains that practically nobody among the general public even knows that these incredible mounds exist.'

[ APH: Well, I'm working on the problem, Steve. And I want to point out that while I want to attribute these sites to the people who made them, that doesn't mean I reject the idea of Atlanteans or Uzbeks traveling to New Jersey and Hacken-sacking it in the 4th century BC.

BILL BODDEN (e-mail to Bodden@aol.com) has a serious point to make a about Corflu: ]

'Thanks for APAK #70. I'm relieved that the Corflu committee finally has settled things, and that we can start making our travel plans to be in the Bay Area in March. One point I would like to add is concern over the lack of a mailing list the last couple of years.

'Since the last time I published was during the Reagan Presidency, my mailing list is understandably somewhat out of date. Since Corflu has the information readily available, it certainly would be wonderful of them to make it available to its members. Certainly every committee has the right to do things as they see fit; however, fans like myself who don't publish often can certainly appreciate the courtesy of making it that much easier to publish. It would also be a tremendous boon in terms of keeping an already extant mailing list current; notoriously difficult no matter how experienced the Faned.'

[ APH: The frustration at this state of affairs is increased by the knowledge that publishing the list by both paper and e-mail is so easy. I'm quite sure someone from the Corflu Wave committee is all over this even now.

STEVE STILES (8631 Lucerne Road, Randallstown, MD 21133) addresses the vagaries of life at the millennium: ]

'Re Ted's piece in #72, I really hadn't expected to find myself working in a warehouse at this stage of my life, either; the last time I held a similar job, working in a wire die factory opposite the Empire State Building, was over 30 years ago. But I also hadn't expected the totality of 1996's meltdown of the comics field, the worst since the 50s and still on-going, as well as that coinciding with the simultaneous evaporation of all my local illustration gigs. All this after my Best Year Ever, naturally. What I did see coming was the gradual obsolescence of my fall-back trade, pasteup and mechanicals, as well as some other commercial art skills, being replaced by 4-5 computer programs. The Catch-22 was that we didn't have the bread or time to update our computer, buy the programs, or take any training courses. We still don't. As a science fiction fan I find all this somewhat ironic and enjoy a hearty laugh over the whole scenario as I load yet another fucking truck.

'I haven't completely given up my freelance cartooning -- I'm working on something now, and will still continue with the annual, award-winning Xenozoic Tales (XT #14 is just out now and is just fabulous, darlings). But this is limited to weekends and a few hours in the evenings. As a result, my fan art activities, and other fanac, is bound to suffer. I really hope this doesn't get me cut off any mailing lists -- judging from Fanzine Countdown, I'm not on all that many to begin with.'

[ APH: The contraction in the comics industry has hurt a lot of our readers and friends. We hope you, and they, will have a better 1997, Steve. For what it's worth, intelligent LoCs like this one are the real key to staying on mailing lists, at least in my book.

IRWIN HIRSH (26 Jessamine Ave., East Prahran, Victoria 3181 Australia), the antipodean apparatchik, brings our attention to issues Australian: ]

'I'm impressed that Christina Lake has managed to pub her ish while on her travels, and because one issue was published in Australia I'm starting a campaign to get Never Quite Arriving nominated for the Ditmar. A couple of days ago I received a postcard from her, in which she said she'll be in Melbourne in time for Perry Middlemiss and Robyn Mills' New Years Eve party. This puts me in a quandary: I want to see Christina, but I'm not too thrilled about being within earshot of the esteemed Mr. Middlemiss. Last weekend he became chair of the 1999 Worldcon committee, and that's my cue to get out of his way. In our address and telephone book I've already put a circle around his telephone number, with the notation that it is not to be dialed until September, 1999.'

[ APH: Lake for the Ditmar! We're enthusiastically in favor of this interpretation of eligibility. Does this make Apak eligible for a Nova?

ROBERT LICHTMAN (P.O. Box 30, Glen Ellen, CA 95442) returns for his usual at-bat: ]

'This is my first letter of comment for 1997. Got to get started early so I can move up in the Apak Stat Box, after all. I see that my early strategy of writing letters on a number of issues (when they were more frequent) has failed me now. My miserable showing in issues 11-20 and 31-40 when compared to Slugger Flynn (appellation concept borrowed from Arnie Katz's article in the Corflu Wave progress report) is pathetic in retrospect. Earlier in his lead-off article, Victor asserts that "Apparatchik might be the greatest one-stamp frequent fanzine ever." I would tend to reserve that distinction to Terry Carr & Ron Ellik's Fanac, which won a Hugo for itself in 1959. Or even Pong. Mind you, I don't mean to denigrate Apak by my observations. In fact, I find it to be indispensable and as close to a focal point as we have these days.

'The best part of Ted's column this time was his discussion of "gender" vs. "sex." Ted's comments on their usage agreed with my own, but just to be sure I checked with my own local grammar purist, reading Ted's words to her, and she confirmed what Ted said as well. His reference to "the Beavises among us" who snigger at the mere mention of the word "sex" made me think that as an evolving language, English may eventually in-clude the verb, "to beavis," meaning to snigger at the mention of sex. Used in a sentence: "The audience beavised loudly at the stand-up's crude sexual innuendo."

'Good to read that Janice Eisen is moving somewhere there are other fans, since one of her complaints about Johnstown was the lack of fellow fen. Like Victor, I also hope her headaches have backed off some, and to hear from her in your pages (or anywhere else) more often.

'Re Victor's observation that a driver who was Nestoring, pulled into the fast lane, and got hit by another motorist would be at fault: he's right. There is language in the California Vehicle Code allowing police officers to ticket a vehicle moving slower than the normal flow of vehicles in other than the right-most lane on a multi-lane facility. Signs are posted along most such advising that slower moving vehicles should stay to the right. Whether or not the Nestoring driver was hit by another motorist, he's still at fault.

'Probably Harry Warner Jr. or some other truly vintage fan will provide a better answer than me, but in response to Murray Moore's question about when The Usual became the usual way to obtain a fanzine, I suspect it was in the 50s. By the time I got into fandom in late 1958, it was definitely the currency, though sending money for one's first issue was de rigeur and most faneds didn't actively discourage subber-drones. (Gregg Calkins published lists of subscribers in Oopsla!, for that matter.)'

[ VMG: Well, thank God for words like "might." When Andy read the "lead-off" article, he said something about me "waving my dick in the air," and I'm sure there's something to that. Apak publishes a lot -- it's got a big dick. That, I admit, doesn't mean all derive satisfaction from it. I will also admit that Pong (of which I've read the entire run), and probably Fanac (of which I haven't), are better. But I'm a little too close to judge. That said, thanks for the kind words.

Yes, Ted's right about "sex" and "gender." Janice Eisen should get better and assume her role as fandom's leading reviewer. And Nestoring is Bad and Dangerous and Downright Fucking Illegal, so get the fuck out of my way you idiot asshole! Ah, driving.

MURRAY MOORE (377 Manly Street, Midland, Ontario L4R 3E2 Canada, e-mail to murray.moore@encode.com) has a few reactions to #72: ]

'A reaction of mine to fHapa 2, not mentioned by Andy in Fanzine Countdown, was to notice the contributions were supplied by two Brits, one Australian, one Swede, two Canadians, and two Americans. A regular fannish United Nations.

'Coincidentally, a few days before receiving APAK 72 and reading Victor's Apak statistics, I counted my locs for 1996. I loced 40 fanzines with 99 locs. By far the most loced fanzine was Apak, with 15 locs, thus the reason my name appears in Apak's equivalent of agate type in Victor's summary.

'I self-servedly suggest a most unpublished letters stat: either way, I benefit. I look forward to Letters to Apak: The Index. Coming Real Soon Now: Murray Moore's Collected WAHF Locs to Apparatchik.'

[ APH: From a frequent loccer to a first timer, here is MICHAEL RAWDON (444 West Wilson #305 Madison, WI 53703 e-mail to rawdon@msn.fullfeed.com): ]

'Well, I think it's time for me to jump into this LoC thing, now that I've got at least a little something to say.

'As a near-total newbie (or is that "neo"?) in the world of non-APA fanzine fandom, I feel like I subscribed to Apak at about the right time, particularly given Victor's "Fanzine Counts" in #72. I enjoy statistical info, no matter how minor, and I quite enjoyed the historical perspective given by the article. I'm looking forward to further installments of this.

'Other bits of education for me have included Murray Moore's LoC in #72, and learning what TAFF and DUFF are. Not to mention Randy Byers' two ffwa articles, which articulated some of my own thoughts about fandom (or my perception of it). I sometimes make the distinction between people who are "in fandom for SF" and people who are "in fandom for fandom."

'Now (just -- I imagine -- to confirm my newbie status) if I can just figure out what 'afal' is, I'll be all set . . .

'Regarding the ongoing "driving wars": I was once one of those people who would resolutely drive in the left-hand lane of the highway, although in this case the highways were the Interstates in the Boston-Chicago-New Orleans "triangle." But my reasoning had nothing to do with obeying the speed limit (in fact, I believe the speed limit of nearly every stretch of Interstate I've driven on should be no less than 75 mph), but because I theorized that driving on the left-hand side would give me some small "protection" from radar detectors on the right side of the highway, by having cars between me and the side of the road. (Did it work? Well, I never got a ticket, but then I rarely drove faster than 75.)'

[ VMG: My, you are new. Well sit back, enjoy, and keep writing letters. I found your comments on avoiding radar traps interesting. When I'm on the freeway, that occupies part of my time too. Having a car at a safe distance behind you is a good idea, because the cop will probably pull them over. The worst thing is to stand out, either by being the only car on the road, or by drawing attention to yourself with frequent passing.

By the way, it's "Academy of Fannish Arts and Letters." And it's not meant to be taken seriously.

ERIC LINDSAY (P.O. Box 744, Ryde, New South Wales 2112 Australia, e-mail to eric@maths.uts.edu.au) finishes up for us this time with a chunk from a much larger letter: ]

'I liked your description of the fan/pro ratio at Westercon in #64. I'd be pretty happy if we had that sort of ratio at Aussiecon Three, nor does it seem entirely unlikely. The trick will be to ensure that the budgets are in line with the membership numbers. Unlike you, I wouldn't have left to visit a baseball game, nor go off with Perry Middlemiss to the football, which would perhaps be the local equivalent. Although I think Walter Jon Williams gave the best answer to question of whether Aussie Rules was like gridiron without the pads. "No," he answered, "it's like Mad Max without the cars."

'I thought you have been acting exceedingly well in promoting Janice Murray for DUFF, while standing yourself. But perhaps there will be another year in which you will take the field more actively?

'I'll be visiting the USA again in February. I'll hit Boskone first. I hope that I get to see you at Potlatch, and maybe at Corflu as well.

'My time seems to have been devoted to doing things for Aussiecon Three for much of the year. As you can imagine, we are very short of volunteers in some areas, especially those involving day-to-day bookwork that doesn't have the fannish kudos of a more visible job at the con. So far we don't even have a volunteer to look after the volunteers. I'm nominally treasurer, but since I'm in a different city, I don't do the banking. I do the budget projections and spreadsheets, and scream a lot if anyone suggests spending money.

'In December a freak violent hailstorm smashed through the Faulconbridge area. 13 of my 15 skylight tiles were broken, as were the skylight diffusers, and some concrete tiles also broke. I had minor flooding, and unfortunately lost some fanzines. My wooden balcony at the back was damaged beyond repair, and I appear to have lost a lot of the garden. Repairs so far have cost $2,000, but are mostly complete.

'During repairs, the vibrations from demolishing the balcony encouraged shelves to leap from the bookcase, so I had an eight metre long bookcase with 2400 scifi books self-destruct in front of me. I usually have a few books on the floor, but this is really ridiculous. I nearly got pulped. Jean said she thought the bookcase was looming over her more than usual, and I thought she was imagining it. She will never let me live that down.'

[ WAHF: Tom Becker (who subscribed again, which is why he is the Honorary Apparatchik of the month in the front colophon), George Flynn, Garth Spencer, Candi Strecker, Bruce Townley & Shelby Vick. ]

Semen's dangers are as exaggerated as its reproductive uses.

[APAK logo] Issue #73, January 24th, 1997

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