[APAK logo] Issue #76, March 28th, 1997

Dispatches to Apak

[ APH: Both our coverage of Potlatch and the insertion of photos into #75 sparked most of the comment on the issue. RON DRUMMOND (7746 15th Ave. NE Seattle, WA 98115-4336), with an interest in both subjects, comments: ]

'Many thanks for turning me on to the great new Phil Manzanera album, Drummondhead. While a handful of the songs are characterized by Top-40 catchiness, the rest of the material is extremely diverse, with subtleties and complexities that richly repay close attention. Indeed, the whole album opens up considerably on repeated hearings, and is well worth getting to know.

'The most immediately appealing song is, of course, "To the Spoils Go the Victor." (The title's thought-provoking turnabout on cliche continues the tradition of Ian Anderson's many similar inversions, my favorite being "Take the horns by the bull.") The lyrics -- a devastating evocation of the loneliness and insecurity at the heart of machismo -- are made all the more ironic by being welded to an aggressively commercial melodic hook, the kind you remember whether you want to or not.

'My favorite track is the 12-minute neo-prog rock anthem, "Beethoven Was a Lesbian." Manzanera pulls off the incredible feat of successfully marrying the 15-second thematic cell from the opening movement of Beethoven's E-minor piano sonata, Opus 90, to the more dissonant passages from the Great Fugue, and then develops the resulting odd couple into a blistering, multi-layered dirge of truly monumental proportions. (The feedback guitar is the best I've heard since Hendrix.)

'Only a genius like Phil Manzanera could prove once and for all that not only was Beethoven both a black man and a lesbian, he was a prog rocker, too.

'P.S. Phil could have chosen better cover art for the album, though. I'm just not that photogenic.'

[ VMG: Glad you like the new album, Ron. I agree; "To the Spoils" is the best song; I especially liked the B part, in which the sinuous twist of guitar and distorted Moog (in this day and age, what a choice!) seems to evoke the camaraderie and machismo of insecurity. Unlike you, however, I liked the album cover (I even bought it on vinyl for the bigger picture); to me, it said all that needs be said.

RANDY BYERS (1013 N. 36th St., Seattle WA 98103) has a quick message in regard to events at Potlatch: ]

'Just a quick note to remind Tommy Ferguson that the name of the cult into which he was inducted is the Secret Order of the Light Magenta Lighters. As in, "Well, fuck me pink and call me light magenta."'

[ APH: The proceedings of the SOLML are mysterious and seldom revealed to outsiders -- Tommy should consider himself lucky! Now, IRWIN HIRSH (26 Jessamine Ave., East Prahran, Victoria 3181 Australia) offers his views on other things mentioned in recent issues: ]

'I'm not sure that Apak is eligible for the Nova. The defining point is a British editorial address. Apak is published in the US, UK and Australia, but it has only a US editorial address. This means that while there is nothing wrong in my saying that I've published a Hugo-nominated fanzine, my name didn't appear on the ballot form. Christina Lake's NQA had an Aussie editorial address in 1996, so she and it are eligible for the 1997 Ditmars. On the other hand, a case could be made to say that a fanzine edited in Seattle is eligible for the Ditmar.

'Victor's stats are interesting. And flawed. His locs averages per loccer assume everyone has been receiving Apak from the beginning and on schedule. For example, I received the first 20-something issues in a bundle. And while I responded to it, it was a single loc covering a number of issues, not a number of locs. On other occasions I've received 3, 4 and 8 or 10 issues together. Other anomalies come up in Victor's averages: One of my appearances in your lettercol was bits from two locs. On the other hand the paragraph which appeared in #73's loccol came from a letter which probably wasn't a loc, so I guess that balances things out.

'As for Christina Lake not wanting to buy into the discussion of how the 1997 Aussie Natcon clashes with "some important footie match" . . . . the most recently published chapter of my GUFF trip report deals with how my GUFF duties clashed with the 1987 football finals, and how I missed out on watching the Grand Final. Not only that, I also described how I caught up with the latest footie news by spending an hour in front of Christina's TV. As it happens the 1997 Grand Final will mark the tenth anniversary of the most recent Grand Final that I've missed. I intend to be there at the MCG, one of the 95,000 or so watching the game. And if that means missing a fair chunk of the natcon, so be it. I'm not yet a member of Basicon 2, but I am a member of the Australian Football League. So I've already paid my entrance money to the 1997 Grand Final. I asked Karen Pender-Gunn if AFL members will be offered a discount on their membership to Basicon 2. Her response -- that she and Cath Ortlieb may organize an anti-Football League panel -- didn't answer my question.

'The colophon remarks that carl doesn't require fanzines in trade, only wanting "the good ones", has me perplexed. I'm not a fanzine publisher but if I were I'd like to trade with carl. But the way I see it, it wouldn't be my place to decide if carl regards my fanzine as good.'

[ carl replies: I'd thought the synaptic gap between trading one's zine and asserting that one's zine was worthy of reading could be easily bridged, but I guess my request has been too gnomically expressed to be readily understood. I've certainly enjoyed the fmz I've received lately -- Attitude, for example -- but in the words of Tom Lehrer, "More, more! I'm still not satisfied!" (Blame it on Cain.) Henceforth we request that our companions in trade send a third copy care of Andy for yr obt servant.

Anything not to have to reduce the type in the colophon again. Meeks out. ]

[ VMG: I struggled with how to compile the statistics and how much work it was going to be. A final deciding factor was what sort of information could be determined for sure. For example, I don't think Andy knows who -- exactly -- was on the mailing list for issue #1. Or #2. Etc. If you believe, however, that you are capable of ascertaining that, by all means deliver upon us a better set of statistics. The average is perfect in the sense that it measures published locs divided by issues, with the one stated caveat: that two or more locs from the same person in the same issue are counted as one. The reason goes back to the same problem I just made reference to: it is very difficult to determine how many locs were condensed into one before publication. Or which weren't published at all. It's easy to come up with a single example, but it is certain that some examples would have been forgotten. Again, if you think you can do it (and not just in regard to your own letters), feel free. Written records don't exist. Not everything is possible. So there.

CHERYL MORGAN (21/60 Princess St. Kew, Victoria 3101 Australia, e-mail to CherylMorgan@compuserve.com) is also concerned with issue of awards eligibility: ]

'I'm afraid Irwin Hirsh is incorrect in saying that the Australian-published issue of Never Quite Arriving is eligible for a Ditmar. The rules clearly state that only Australian citizens and permanent residents can receive the awards. This, of course, means that I am not eligible, being only temporarily resident. But it does mean that Giulia de Cesare and Plokta could be nominated. Do other countries' awards have daft rules like this?

'By the way, we are all deeply flattered that Christina views the MSFC as a sort of junior NESFA. However, given that we are about to celebrate our 45th birthday, a feat I believe is only bettered by LASFS, it might be more correct to say that NESFA is a junior MSFC.

'Now, Mr. Middlemiss.

'No doubt Perry would like the world to believe that I am unable to tell the difference between WWI and Vietnam. Sadly for him, this is not so. They teach us quite a bit of military history in British schools. We do, after all, have a few genuine victories to celebrate. But, being British, we tend to concentrate on disasters. The Crimea and Dunkirk come over as just stupid, but Gallipoli really brings the message home. Sending our own troops into hopeless positions is, after all, our own fault. But that we should do the same thing to troops from other countries is quite appalling.

'To come to Australia and find that they treat it as something glorious, rather than thronging the streets screaming for reparations, came as something of a shock.

'But it was Vietnam that we were talking about. The event in question may well have been the battle that Perry mentions. I can't remember the name, but I do remember the banners in the streets, and that there was a documentary programme about it that evening. I think there was a parade as well. From the way the radio announcer treated it on the morning news, there was no doubt it was a celebration.

'The thing that got to me most, however, was that the enemy was always referred to as "the Vietnamese". Not "the North", not "the Communists", but "the Vietnamese". Given that Australia now houses a large population of Vietnamese refugees, many of whom may also have fought with distinction in that war, and most of whom will have lost more from the war than any Australian family, this left a bad taste in the mouth.'

[ APH: People have different reactions to memorials; some don't want to be reminded of sad or horrific events, while others venerate them with fanatic intensity. And all wars inspire some demonization of the enemy, that's simple human nature. But an uncertainty about the adversary's identity is a particular feature of guerilla warfare, which has left the US and Australia with the feeling that their allies and enemies were the same people. This might be reflected in the generic nature of the descriptions you heard.

ROBERT LICHTMAN (P.O. Box 30, Glen Ellen, CA 95442) offers feedback on #75 and Corflu Wave: ]

'It was good seeing you and Victor at Corflu, and to meet Lesley Reece, who appeared to be having a good time at her third convention. The incident involving you that most sticks in my mind was on Sunday night in the consuite, when you slid open the door and invited me to join the Seattle party out there in the drizzle. Way cool. Less way cool was that I didn't spend as much time with you as at last fall's pair o'cons, but so it goes. How many miles did you rack up during Corflu? (I'll look to your report in the next issue to provide the answer to this.)

'Your, Randy's and Lesley's looks at the recent Potlatch were good reading, with the best bit being Randy's paragraph that ends, "To his side, Jeanne Bowman leans over to read it." Tommy Ferguson's reference to remembering and missing the hills of Northern Ireland when confronted with the hills around Vancouver was quite evocative, especially when read after driving Geri Sullivan up to Glen Ellen after the banquet on Sunday. As we drove through the hills of Napa and Sonoma counties, she commented on how the fog-shrouded slopes reminded her of driving to Portstewart with Walt to see James. I had to admit they had the same effect on me, suddenly unjaded from driving past similar hills as part of my everyday commute. I haven't paid the batch of Tommy Ferguson's fanzines that arrived in the recent past the attention they clearly, from the sprightliness of his piece here, deserve. I'll have to remedy this soon.

'Victor, memory may well be "more visceral than the printed page," but for me it's what I read in those pages that initially helps me sort out and become preacquainted, if you will, with the people I meet and hang out with at conventions. So the feedback from cons and from fanzines is often interlinked. Regarding your comment that "fanzine feedback is more permanent in a way -- one can look back on it years later and enjoy the resonance of the past": this happened to me when I was Looked through a small batch of fanzines I recently acquired. Most of them were from the '60s, and I was present in almost all of them: with several LoCs of my own and references to me, the most noteworthy being in John D. Berry's Baycon report where he recounts meeting me for the first time. Overall, leafing through these fanzines was an experience in egoboo flashback.

'Enjoyed Pam Wells' and Spike's Attitude reports, and please print the address of Felix Cohen, if you can obtain it, so that this promising 14-year-old could be sent fanzines. In Spike's, one wonders if male heterosexual British fandom will take Lilian's suggestion that they write about their sex lives?

'Richard Brandt's reference to a vision of desolate chile fields stretching to the far horizon in connection with the article he wrote for Trap Door is rather mystifying. The article by Richard about to appear in the next issue has nothing to do with chile fields. Perhaps the article he mentions here is one he's planning to send once I get the one I have on hand in print?

'As for Tom Feller's comments about the alleged polarization between Corflu and Ditto, where is it? The organizer of this year's upcoming Ditto, Bill Bowers, was at this year's Corflu -- and I was happy to see him there. As for his wondering if an overseas Corflu would increase attendance at next year's Ditto, we can only see. I can't speak for them, but it would be interesting if the Las Vegrants bid for the '98 Ditto and combined it with Toner 2.'

[ VMG: I find some people abrasive in print; they piss me off, and I end up writing stupidly angry responses. But I can't recall meeting one of those individuals at a convention and not getting along. In fact, I would say, meeting in person has been the best thing for me in terms of not overreacting to what they write.

CHRIS BZDAWKA (909 Walnut St., Verona, WI 53593, e-mail to Bzdchris@aol.com) is another fan with interesting idea of what face-to-face fanac at Corflu might be like: ]

'I've got to say that the clear, straightforward format APAK is currently using makes it a joy to read. I really enjoyed the con reports in #75, and photos -- Wow! Randy Byers' column reminded me of the many snapshots I've taken in my head at cons, and captured the con ambience quite nicely.

'I have entertained what I consider the ambitious notion of attending Corflu several times during my years in what is apparently fake-fandom, but never felt I was smart enough or fannish enough. Just from hanging out at the few cons I've been to (several Wiscons, a Congenial and a Reinconation), I don't honestly believe I could hold my own with 100+ Kaufmans, Nielsen Haydens and Sullivans. Mr. Spiers' description of BNFs smoffing and partying comes a lot closer to my perception of Corflu -- the wits all razor-sharp, the banter pithy and pungent, the sexual relations thrillingly incestuous -- than an inclusive relaxicon for seasoned and fledgling fanwriters. If Corflu is the "country club" of fanzine fandom, it should fess up. If it's not and the membership desires "fresh meat," perhaps a public relations campaign is in order. Victor is right (in this instance): Corflu should welcome all fanzine fans. But, ya' gotta wanna.

'To Mr. Lichtman: In my comment to Victor, my only "accusation" was that Victor was capable of and APAK is deserving of better writing. I'm sorry if you feel I was mistaken. I merely wished that Victor had used his prodigious journalistic skills to explore a topic beyond his own atmosphere. As for those "mysterious but anonymous" fans without health insurance, with all due respect, please either 1) inform me of the name and address of Fandom's health insurance carrier, or 2) clue me in to the secret of Fandom's apparent good health. I am quite familiar with the dismal state of corporate health care management and the realities of uninsured health care. I'm willing to chance that among the millions of uninsured U.S. citizens, there be Fans. If articles about medical problems are common and accepted in fanwriting, then it sounds like illness may also be fairly common. Thus, my "assumption," not accusation.'

[ VMG: I have no interest in bickering with you, Chris, but I interpreted your comments mostly as a criticism of my subject matter, not the use of my writing skill. And I might point out that "illness" and "health insurance" are not mutually exclusive. Whether one is covered or not, one gets sick, and some of us write about it. Not you, of course. ]

[ APH: This is a weird argument. More interesting to me is your image of Corflu. You've been to conventions, worked on them -- how can you entertain illusions about just what goes on at Corflu? The "Country Club of Fandom"? Rotting broccoli stems smell just as bad at Corflu as they did at Congenial, I'm afraid.

Which leads us, for some reason, to JOSEPH NICHOLAS (15 Jansons Rd., South Tottenham, London N15 4JU UK): ]

'"No one in Britain is sending me fanzines anymore!" Christina Lake reports Bruce Gillespie telling her (issue 74). Not true, at least in our case: we have sent him every issue of FTT since the first, twelve years ago. But if he isn't receiving anything else, might this not be attributable to his own inactivity? When, for example did he last write a letter of comment -- to any editor of any fanzine? When did he last publish, other than one of his triennial telephone directories full of interminable lists of favorite films and short stories? Might it be that people in Britain aren't sending him fanzines because -- as a consequence of his inactivity -- they've never heard of him?'

[ APH: From reading this issue, it appears that a lot of people in Britain and Australia have never heard of each other! More on this baffling story as it develops.

Now, STEVE JEFFERY, (44 White Way, Kidlington, Oxon OX5 2XA, UK, e-mailed from Peverel@aol.com) pumps the last drops of fuel out of the tank: ]

'As a late footnote to the comments on drivers and driving (unless you've parked this one) I have to admit that I completely wimped out on using my new, and hardly bloodied, driving license while out in Texas for a few weeks, due to the utter madness of driving in Laredo. Sleepy little border town, I thought, remembering back about five years ago; long straight roads stretching into the Texas horizon with nary another car in sight for hours. 55 mph with the radio on, the AC cranked high, and cruise control kicked in. Apart from occasional armadillos, you could almost put your feet up and read a book.

'Dead wrong. Now the new International Bridge has opened up across the Rio Grande, it's chaos. Aggressive driving, forcing an edge into nonexistent gaps in front of huge juggernaut trucks, is not merely the order of the day, but mad homicidal driving, abrupt changes of speed and direction. And the madness of multi-lane intersections.

'And the company Chevvy truck had gears, on the wrong side. As I say, I wimped out. I don't want to change down for acceleration and find myself winding down the driver side window instead.

'The weirdest thing I noticed is what happens when an Interstate slipway joins a parallel road. Traffic moving on that road has to yield to that coming down off the Interstate slipway, the exact opposite of what happens in the UK. The concept of 'yield' also seems to be confused with the concept of 'stop', so that vehicles will barrel along at 55 or 60, brake to an almost complete halt in the middle of the road, take a quick look, and then accelerate back up to speed. In the UK (and this touches on the discussion of 'speed vigilantes') almost any manoeuvre that would impede the progress of already moving traffic (whether through undue hesitation or taking chances) would get you a black mark, or a test failure, so my instinctive reaction to this sort of emergency braking is to look up, expecting to see an accident ahead, or an old lady crossing three lanes of traffic to get from one side of the road to the other.

'While I'm not particularly a fan of Greg Benford's work (through unfamiliarity as much as anything else) I loved his analogy of "impressionist" SF as "new ways of looking" in his piece in Apak 72, and interesting things he had to say on the process of writing. "Constraints improve." Yes. Without constraints (even self imposed ones) there is no discipline, without discipline, there is merely self-indulgence, and often silliness or a sprawling mess.'

[ APH: We must now hurry to a card from DAVID THAYER (701 Regency Dr., Hurst, TX 76054), the page end looms: ]

'All I know about Corflu is what I read in the fanzines and hear from fans who've attended, but from my second-hand knowledge I disagree with Dale Speirs' and Tom Feller's criticism of it. The convention eliminates the distractions of art show, dealers' room, and programming and makes fans interacting with other fans the main event. If you want to sit back passively and be entertained by a convention, Corflu is not for you. I've never felt uninvited just because the committee did not send me a personal invitation or publicly advertise. A desire to interact with one or more other attendees is the only invitation you need.

'All cartoonists are evil inside. Ian Gunn's criminally funny "Hooper for DUFF" cartoon proves the point. You published it and yet the caption in any context other than humorous would be fighting words. I am amazed.'

[ WAHF: Tom Feller. See you in three weeks! ]

Do fish think? Yes, but not fast enough.

[APAK logo] Issue #76, March 28th, 1997

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