[APAK logo] Issue #77, April 18th, 1997

Dispatches to Apak

[ APH: We start with a very welcome letter from MARTIN TUDOR (24 Ravensbourne Grove, Off Clarke's Lane, Willenhall, West Midlands, WV13 1HX, UK, e-mail to Martin@Empties.demon.co.uk), discussing both TAFF business and life in general: ]

'Thanks for your telephone message -- as you can see I'm finally on-line, thanks to the kindness of Pickersgill & McAulay (who supplied the modem from the cash which was given to Greg to get him on-line), Alan Woodford (who did all the messy technical things) and Dave Langford (who supplied disks of advice etc).

'In answer to your question, no the baby ("Wyrm" as Helena currently calls it -- given its exceedingly mobile behavior) has yet to arrive, although with less than six weeks to the ETA of 13 May it is very much with us and making its feelings known!

'We're both feeling a lot better now than we have been for some time -- although we both tire really easily and quickly. Helena, we hope, purely because of the pregnancy and me because I wore my body out indulging in every bug and virus that has been around since September last year.

'As I mentioned when we last spoke I'm afraid that neither Helena nor I have had a particularly good time since we returned from the States. What with the half-expected stressful encounters with the medical establishment regarding Helena's pregnancy -- Oh dear, you've got a one in four chance of the child having spina bifida -- better talk to the consultant tomorrow . . . Then 24, very long, hours later, Whoops, we hadn't read your notes properly -- you've less than one in a thousand chance . . . !

'Most recently the whole of February disappeared in a blur of illness -- I ended up attending Attitude wearing a neck brace -- having pulled a muscle whilst coughing and sneezing! Eventually after a month off sick, involving blood tests and chest x-rays the doctors decided that I had just had an unlucky run, and wasn't suffering from diabetes and/or ME. Life is such fun -- and then you get sacked -- I'm expecting that real soon now -- given the Council's new sick leave policy came into effect in September 1996 -- just as I began this incredible run of illness . . . .

'Fortunately TAFF is a lot healthier than I have been -- the first bit of good news being that the 200 cheque that Farber passed over to me from Abigail at Novacon actually cleared; the bad news is that I haven't heard anything from Abigail. No more money has been received, nor has she replied to the two letters I've sent since Novacon.

'However, leaving Abigail aside the current state of European TAFF is pretty good. It has repaid all of its debts and is now in credit to the tune of 120. (It would've been more but we had to lay out some cash for a van -- see below). But there is still some to come from the proceeds of the UFF auctions at Attitude; around 100 to come from the UFF auction at Eastercon; Tony Berry has about 60 to pass over from the sale of shirts, fanzines etc at Eastercon; and best of all there is a large chunk of cash to come from Andy Richards the bookseller.

'This last ties in with the van I mentioned earlier: 2000 or so books were left to TAFF by the late Brian Robinson. TAFF (in the form of Tony Berry and I) rented a van to collect these from Skel in Stockport; after which we drove down to meet with Greg and Catherine who guided us to Andy Richards' difficult to find home/warehouse southeast of Reading!

'As Andy was in the middle of preparations for Eastercon and about to suffer extensive rebuilding of his home cum warehouse, it will be a few weeks before he can finish pricing the books -- but he told Mr Berry at Eastercon that after a quick glance through them he estimates roughly 800! Which will mean European TAFF will be even healthier.

'Easter weekend I finally finished a letter to Dan Steffan (which I'd started in February but was forced to put aside throughout my illness) outlining a possible schedule for the next two TAFF races. As soon as Dan gets back to me and we have settled on dates we'll open for nominations.

'I'm afraid I haven't had the time (or indeed energy) to complete my trip report yet, but I hope to get stuck in to it now and finish it this summer -- with completed copies going on sale at Novacon. Nor have I got far with the proposed postal auction of fanzines -- but I still intend to do it -- watch this space! As soon as Dan and I have agreed the dates of the next race(s) I intend to get a third newsletter out to update everyone on the situation regarding TAFF cash/Abigail etc, and we'll see how things go after that . . . .

Finally, a bit of APAK business -- latest to join the ranks of Lifetime Subscribers is Walt Willis -- I've had a couple of annual subs recently, details of which I'll send shortly. One of the jobs this weekend is to finish sorting out the papers/files from my old office (the spare bedroom) which will shortly be the nursery -- so I'll have all details to hand, hah -- I bet! APAK 76 arrived this morning -- bought the stamps today and hope to mail by Sunday.'

[ VMG: It's good hearing from you Martin, and all news of Wyrm and TAFF is welcome. And please pass along our thanks to Walt -- one person who never would need to buy a lifetime subscription. Thanks, Walt.

Several readers commented on my Corflu GoH speech, including BILL BODDEN (2717 Stevens St., Madison, WI 53705, e-mail to Bodden@aol.com): ]

'Victor's GoH speech was nearly as amusing in print as live, and I'm glad to see the FWA Past Presidents list to be written down on something at long last, even if only a cocktail napkin. It was very cool to meet Lesley and Victor at Corflu; I find that having faces to go with the names makes it easier for me to hear them speaking the words of their articles, which I find gives me a much greater feeling of being connected to the whole thing. Both have contributed greatly in my opinion to making APAK as terrific as it has become.

'It's great to once again have access to Christina Lake's writing, having been rightly cast into the lake of fire by numerous faneds for my lack of participation these last few years. I envy her her ease of getting away for a year just to travel. I hope she'll continue to send more, as well as keep us abreast of her current address. Her stories of Swancon do make a trip to the upcoming Aussie Worldcon sound palatable, even in light of the agony a twenty-hour plus flight would put me through. Found the change in pressure had an affect on my arm, even a year after my surgery. Had the pins and needles feeling on and off during the entire trip. But coming back seems to have put to right whatever was out of sorts, as I've had no problems since getting back.

'It was good to get out and play softball again, Andy, especially with you. I miss those Blear House nights of whiffleball in the rain.

'P.S. The bruise has almost completely healed.'

[ VMG: It was good to meet you as well, Bill, and of course I agree: it's easier to read the words of those you know in person. I think that's why fans started having conventions: they found themselves getting a little too detached in print. ]

[ APH: I imagine that years after you've theoretically healed from the surgery, you'll still feel just odd, for both physical and psychological reasons. I think it's good that you've started trying to do stuff again regardless of any weakness in the arm, it can only help you build it back up.

Of course you remember those whiffleball games fondly -- you were the one who regularly took the ball halfway across Johnson Street. I mostly recall ducking a lot.

I have no clever hook to introduce him, but here is ROBERT LICHTMAN (PO Box 30, Glen Ellen, CA 95442: ]

'In #76, Christina's comment about Western Australia real estate -- "there may be a lot of space in Western Australia, but how much of it is actually habitable?" -- immediately made me think of Las Vegas, which is carved out of a basically inhospitable desert: terraforming of a sort, and on our own planet. Elsewhere in her article, Christina probably means Graham, not Grant, Stone when she writes of Swancon. Once again, this is a most enjoyable piece of writing, and let me add that I appreciate your making space for Christina so she remains in our consciousness while she's on the road.

'I hadn't thought of it until Victor pointed it out, but it does seem strange that there were no reproduction services available at Corflu Wave. It seems like a marketing oversight by a hotel catering to business travelers, but beyond that no one suggested firing up Burbee's mimeo and putting out a oneshot! To what levels of sloth have we sunk in latter-day Last Fandom? And Dave Rike didn't bring any of his extensive duper collection, despite this being the nearest Corflu to him ever. It's good to have the next of Victor's "speech" -- enjoyable to read it instead of hear it, to experience the nuances once again.

'Have just added Lesley to the mailing list for Trap Door #17. She's definitely more than just a bunch of words on a page.

'Like Andy, I find the TimeBytes fanthology to be the best one ever, and you were no slouch yourself in the introductory material in Fanthology '89. But as you correctly point out, that's not my style. We should both be cheered by the announcement that Christina will be editing the fanthology put out by the Leeds Corflu, since she was half the TimeBytes team.

'It ought to be noted that Fanthology '93 is available for $7 a copy postpaid, and from Tom Becker, not me. However, I have copies of Fanthology '92 for $5 postpaid.'

[ VMG: Thanks for the mention of my speech. I'm very happy people had some fun with it, and remain quite surprised I was actually able to come up with something on such short notice. Really, I should give credit to Carrie Root and Jane Hawkins, who both supplied excellent ideas that helped me write it.

Just for the record, we do not "make room for Christina." She makes time for us, and we are eternally grateful for her fine writing. ]

[ APH: Personally, I think it isn't mandatory that a Corflu have on-site duplicating, but the issue needs to be addressed; people need to know if they are going to have to go looking for a place to print their one-shot. If the con won't have the means of production in hand, its organizers should check out the commercial facilities in the area -- they might provide coupons, some free supplies, etc., if asked nicely.

Now, a signal event: Usenet stalwart ULRIKA O'BRIEN (123 Melody Lane Apt. C, Costa Mesa, CA 92627, e-mail to Ulrika@aol.com) sends what she claims to be her first letter of comment to a fanzine ever: ]

'Thanks be to Andy, for handing me a wad of Apparatchik back issues during Corflu Wave.

'I read the various Potlatch reports in Apak #75 with particular interest since virtually everyone mentioned the dance that Mr. Hooper spun disks for, and Jerry Kaufman had commended him to me as a DJ of no small merit. Unfortunately, not even Andy gave much of a clue as to what was actually played. Makes shameless cribbing a bit difficult. I'm still raveningly curious about what worked well, though, so I'll offer to show you my play list(s) if you show me yours. Also, I was a bit puzzled to see Lesley Reece remark that "it was amusing to see Seattle fans actually dancing," as if they don't normally. This was puzzling because I know Keith Johnson lives in Federal Way up there and regularly DJs very well attended dances at Pacific Northwest conventions. Maybe this is just some sort of discontinuity between the various fringe and faux fans who attend Westercons and Orycons and things, versus the core of the Vanguard and Apparatchiki demimonde. Then again, maybe it's just she doesn't get to cons much.

'In regards to Corflu, now that I am a seasoned veteran, I feel I can comment knowledgeably. First, I hope that Chris Bzdawka isn't seriously put off from attending Corflu by her self-perception as a fakefan, or by her perception of Corflu as Olympian pinnacle of fannish wit (which may or may not be true anyway -- I'm no mountain climber, and I left my barometer at home). I'm a fakefan myself, despite occasional breaches of the lactivity requirements. I'm in this game for the people, first, last, and always. If you're in fandom to hang out with kewl fans, Corflu is just the sort of convention you'd want to go to, it seems to me. And I do sympathize with a sense of intimidation at the assembled looming titans of fandom. What wit I possess is ponderous and erratic. Tom Whitmore and Alan Winston can singly or collectively eat my lunch and hand me the wrappings before I so much as realize a rejoinder is in order. Despite this, they don't seem to mind having me around. My theory is that while every wit and storyteller loves an appreciative audience, competing wits don't necessarily make the best ones. We also serve who can, more or less, manage to laugh in the right places. Corflu has just as much place for those who appreciate as it does for those who perform, I think.

'Delving back into #69 and Ted White's "Dr. Fandom Shifts on the Fly," I find that I am, yet again, a living breathing counterexample. I too, despite the double-X chromosome pair, experience the sudden growth of a sixth sensory organ cluster that associates with the electric contact of my butt with the driver's seat. Unlike my otherwise sterling DH, I almost always know whether there's something in my blind spot without bothering to look (yes, I still do check anyway). Unlike most ordinary mortals, I feel the constant observation and tabulation of delta vee and delta delta vee of the changing succession of radar blips as a tightening of the gut and a frisson of adrenaline running from wrist to elbow. I can smell an imminent lane change in hunkered posture of an Impala two lanes over.

'Pace Ted, I know this talent is not innate. I passed high school driving lessons without excessive embarrassment, but then faced the hurdle of learning to drive stick, replete with ka-ka-kaing progress in first gear, and accidental stalls in mid-intersection, With My Mother before I could secure a license. It was all I could do to keep track of clutch and gearshift, and the engine's screaming protests to doing 45 mph in second, without troubling about niceties like other objects in the road. My mother, who holds several international firsts in Striking Terror in The Hearts of Men earned by merely clenching her jaw in displeasure, achieved new pinnacles of fearsomeness in that jaunty little lemon yellow rabbit. Not quite as unnerving as learning brain surgery on-the-spot with the Mongol warlord of your choice, but not too many standard deviations out, either. Rather than be subjected to my mother's gentle tutelage, I feigned complete disinterest in driving for two years, and only got my license after I'd gone off to college, with the aid of my roommate's (automatic) Corolla.

'Only in later years, under the mentorship of a speed demon lover, with the totemic aid of an inherited, scarred and dented jin-yoo-whine Gunderloy deathtrap Pinto, and finally in the pressure cooker environment of working as the first female messenger for Wyman, Bautzer, Rothman, Kuchel, & Silbert (God rest them) did the extra organ cluster finally evert itself. There's something about rocketing along in the right lane of Olympic Boulevard, five minutes after it is supposed to have magically turned from a parking lane into a commuter lane, and being suddenly facing the looming mass of a parked van, that's really good for developing a supernatural sense for finding Pinto-sized breaks in traffic to laterally teleport into. Sort of a low tech Cosmic Pinball. Good for elevating the heart rate, too.

'So, while I'm not yet breathing through my eyelids, if Victor could just jot me up as a single tally under the Grrls Who Shift on the Fly Too (preferably without salacious innuendoes from the peanut gallery), I'd be appreciative.'

[ VMG: In my experience, Seattle fans of the Vanguard variety like to dance, but seldom get the opportunity. Lesley might have been especially struck by the fact that I was dancing, as I don't much. But, also, as you noted, there is a difference between Vanguard fandom and the rest; I've never heard of Keith Johnson, and I work in Federal Way. I suspect he's never heard of me either. ]

[ APH: While I wasn't all that happy with the way I handled the music at Potlatch, I'll send you a list of some things I played which went over well.

Now, HARRY WARNER (423 Summit Ave., Hagerstown MD 21740) gets caught up on, and in, some recent issues: ]

'Usually I manage to read a fanzine report of an injury of ailment without being convinced that the same thing is happening to me. However, "I Need a New Stim" concealed a delayed timing device. Not until an hour before I was ready to write this loc did I experience a sudden pain in my left leg from sole to hip while I was doing nothing but sitting there trying to convince myself I should go to the typewriter. For the first few minutes, I thought I wouldn't be able to walk, then the pain subsided slightly but I felt a tingling in my foot and began to wonder if I had been hit by an aneurysm. Now there's just some lingering ache, so it must have been the after effects of the power of Victor's writing.

'Dr. Seuss is a pleasure I missed through the miscalculation of having been born much too soon. But I wonder if I would have enjoyed it if the same sort of person that I am had come into the world after the Seuss books had begun to appear. As a small boy I had terribly mundane literary tastes. I didn't like fairy tales or other fantasies and I even refused to read a boys' book my aunt gave me for Christmas because the young people in it lived in California. It wasn't until I was about ten when I began to convert to the enjoyment of stories about the future and weird fiction.

'Hasn't anyone written a lurid book exposing the Socrates philosophy as a fake written out of the imagination of someone who signed Plato's name to it, and revealed that Socrates was executed for a long history of crime and disreputable behavior exerting a bad influence on the young? Every other important figure in history has by now been subjected to revisionist revelations and it isn't fair to deprive Socrates of this pleasure.

'Jack Wiedenbeck didn't shun "all responsibility in fan doings and institutions." He assumed the responsibility of doing covers for many fanzines produced in Battle Creek during the heyday of Slan Shack. This included some of the best airbrush utilization in the history of fanzines. He just wasn't interested in science fiction, weird fiction, or the other stuff that most science fiction fans of his era loved.'

[ VMG: Instead of sublimating my writing and then releasing it as anger -- the trick employed by Chris Bzdawka -- it appears your reading of my shoulder-pain piece has given rise to actual physical symptoms. Thank you for granting me such a fine compliment. I hope you feel better now.

Perhaps the most interesting book I've read about Socrates (and Plato) is I.F. Stone's The Trial of Socrates. Stone, a noted political writer for decades, quit his old career to learn ancient Greek. Thus enabled, he did his own translations and developed an argument that Athenian officials showed great restraint with Socrates, and only put him to death because he was inciting rebellion toward a monarchy. Stone's arguments aren't perfect, but he is a more than able journalist, and it is a deliciously different view of this oft-praised King-lover.

Finally, JUDITH HANNA (15 Jansons Rd., Tottenham, London N15 4JU United Kingdom, e-mail to jehanna@gn.apc. org) does her best to top the bagpipe stories offered by Howard Waldrop and Andy: ]

'You spoilsport. But I shall tell you my bagpipe memory anyway.

'For me, bagpipes belong with tropical sunsets and giant crocodiles. When I was a kiddie at HMAS Tarangau naval base on Manus Island north of Niugini, a mere 70 miles from the Equator, the pipers of the Pacific Islands Regiment in their lap-lap-skirted uniforms, marching in formation and shining with sweat, some with hibiscus or frangipani flowers tucked over their ears, gave evening bagpipe concerts under the coconut palms as the sun sank in rose and gold tropical splendor. Most of them were chocolate-skinned, but the Buka and Bougainville islanders were almost ebony black.

'One evening, on the parade ground, a couple of hunters had brought back a thirty foot saltwater crocodile they'd caught. Still alive, it was roped between long wooden planks to immobilize its powerful tail from lashing about. An evil muddy green with malevolent glinting eyes, it haunted my nightmares for years. Once, I dreamed the crocodile swallowed me down into the stifling dead black of its belly, and I remember thinking "If your nightmare catches you, then you really die. So I must be dead now." Then pinpricks of starlight came into focus framed by my bedroom window.'

[ APH: Okay, Judith, I give. That's a great bagpipe story.

WAHF: Harry Andruschack, Pamela Boal, George Flynn, Irwin Hirsh, Kim Huett. Rich McAllister, and Murray Moore. Back in three weeks! ]

"What this song means to me is that rock is dead."

[APAK logo] Issue #77, April 18th, 1997

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