Many thanks for the latest Plokta. One would like to say "welcome back" after the long absence, but although it's always welcome to see another issue of any fanzine, and aside from the fact that we haven't produced since January this year so are in no position to criticise anyone else's sloth, this issue -- despite the two articles being longer than anything you've published before -- seems somehow insubstantial. In my view, the subjects don't really justify the wordage expended on them. Both articles start promisingly: but by its second page Steve's convention report has begin to descend into the sort of exaggeration-for-the-sake-of-surrealism with which we're now over-familiar and which in this case doesn't work because the events being exaggerated have little weight; and despite its unexpected subject-matter Kari's article never quite gets below the surfaces of the films she's describing, being at one point reduced to a mere list of names which will be meaningless to anyone who hasn't seen the films, and at other points is too closely focused (in what I now think of as her typical ultra-soft-porn style) on her reactions to these films rather than the films themselves.
"My God, I'm having to type a Joseph Nicholas sentence"
So the issue is curiously disappointing -- doubly so when the filler material was so much better than the two articles. In fact, the filler material reminded me of the fanzine that Plokta used to be: clever, fast, intelligent, perhaps mistaken for the kind of lightweight stuff Lilian Edwards claims to read when she's trying to get her bottom to perform satisfactorily but something I quite enjoyed (and sneakily admired, since I know I can't do that sort of writing myself). I shall miss it, if it turns out that this issue is a foretaste of the different Ploktas to come....
One more substantive comment, nevertheless, responding to the issue rather than criticising it. In my whole life, I think I have seen exactly two of the Hong Kong action films Kari so enjoys. One, inevitably, was a Bruce Lee movie, Enter The Dragon, caught up during BBC 2's "Kung Fu" night last summer; and the other, inexplicably, played as support to something else (I can't remember what) in a provincial cinema some twenty-odd years ago. It was called From Bangkok, With Orders To Kill, and what I most remember about it was that the two agents seemed to spend quite a lot of the film trying to get back to Bangkok -- presumably to find out who it was they were supposed to kill, their orders having unfortunately failed to make that explicit.
While I greatly appreciate the gratuitous compliment to my scholarship, I feel honour-bound to point out that I am not in fact 'Britain's foremost Celtic Historian'. Rather I must take my place behind Professor David N. Dumville, Professor Thomas Charles-Edwards, Professor Patrick Sims-Williams, Professor Wendy Davies, Dr Richard Sharpe, Dr Dauvit Broun and others I can't currently remember (but I'm sure they're very important). I do, however, have the shortest skirts: recently it was revealed to me that on the conference circuit I am known as 'the one with the black suede thigh-boots'. I wonder why?
Vikki phoned me when this came in the post. "You've got a strange fanzine with a transvestite on the cover". Or was it "a fanzine with a strange transvestite on the cover"?
Odd, I thought. Teddy doesn't do fanzines does he?
The backcover is excellent, but why is Sue after Jim Barker? We should be told. And isn't this more from the Bunty (or Judy)? Yes, I had an odd childhood. I'll tell you about it sometime -- after I've confiscated your tape recorder and notebook. I'm almost tempted to copy this and cut this out, just to find out what Pat would look like in pumps and socks held up by garters. The basque also appears to have some fairly magical properties as a slimming aid, but where does all the excess beer gut go to? Oh, all the way up there? I'll be darned.
The advantage of staying in the Jarvis (well, there has to be one) was, as Steve points out, that you don't have to look at it. Instead we got a panoramic view of Didsbury and Rusholme. We were up pretty high, I think. But the Jarvis also apparently had talking hand dryers, which is not usually a feature you find outside American hotels, where everything, especially lifts, thanks you for using this facility and wishes you a nice day. It's like living in a Phil Dick novel. We missed the cabaret violence (wimps) and settled on the Fawlty Towers show laid on by the Britannia pizza bar. I was a bit disappointed when it failed to develop into the Python restaurant sketch. And perhaps it's just as well I didn't mention the dirty knife.
I did consider sending you something that glows in the dark, but the lightbulb broke when I tried to stuff it in the jiffy bag. It works though, and it's so much easier than gathering fireflies to read by.
Tellytubbies is real sf spinoffery, based on Colin Greenland's story 'In the Garden' of the childhood of the Zodiac twins, Saskia and Mogul, from his 'Plenty' books. It's the pastel romper suits that give it away. But looking at Ian's drawing, I wonder if there were originally 5: Tinky Winky, Dipsy, La La, Poe and Ya Shoggoth (Scary Tubby). Notice there are only four Sp*ce Grils now. Do you think that's Significant? (or just four too many?)
Is that Cadbury's Numbat real? And wouldn't the chocolate melt in Claire's cleavage?
[Yes, the Cadbury's Numbat is genuine and we have the wrapper to prove it...]
Twink is an interesting zine, full of guesses about who the mysterious E.B. Frohvet is. I met E.B. at the Baltimore Worldcon. E.B. is male, about 5'7", with a slight build, dark blonde hair, beard and mustache. The mystery remains...who was E.B. Frohvet? He would not reveal his true identity, but did say that he was a senior committee member for the previous Baltimore Worldcon in 1983, and has returned from gafiation to test the fannish waters again.
I ran the bacover through the photocopier several times, so as I try to pose my Pat McMurray dolls in extremely compromising positions, I shall bid you all a fond farewell.
I read with interest Kari's article about Hong Kong martial arts cinema. When I was a lad this was quite popular. I grew up in Cyprus and they were a lot more relaxed about TV and films from around the world. After all if the program was going to be subtitled in Greek it hardly mattered what the original language was. I even saw a lot of proto-anime dubbed with Greek. Not understanding what is going on adds a surreal perspective to the whole show.
Anyway back to Hong Kong. For many years I had seen more Jackie Chan films than Arnold Schwarzenegger films. One of the most memorable for me was The Drunken Master in which Jackie Chan learns to fight whilst being as pissed as a fan at 2am in the morning. You always had to suspend your disbelief. There is no way I am going to believe that anyone could ever jump over a large fence from a standing position -- except it happens again and again. I appreciated the martial art in the same way as you might ballet or other dance. Perhaps that is the best way of explaining Martial Arts films? Dance which explicitly tells a story.
I do believe that Chris Bell has the answer to the great question of the computer age, namely, why doesn't this %^%&&**@! thing work? Batteries not included. Of course, it is really so obvious. In support of this theory, I note that I never get mad about my Psion organiser, whereas I always seem on the verge of defenestrating my computer. Batteries were included with the Psion.
Some great sporting activities sadly have fallen to political correctness here in North Queensland. Yes, the pubs here no longer have dwarf throwing competitions. However I am pleased to report that Magnums have made a great leap forward. When the thrill of the video projector palls, and the $6 pitchers of XXXX (they apparently can't spell "beer" here) no longer satisfy, you can indulge in Horizontal Bungee Jumping.
Jae Leslie Adams
Just thought I would let you know that the wings have just this day brought thisish to my mailbox. The Belgian postmark with the 1934 date probably explains this excruciating delay, somehow.
Seems to be missing page 97, though. I have checked thoroughly.
Wanted for Beyond Cyberdrome 4 (Reconvene): A fur-covered robot which has its own private vocabulary. Can be taught English. Can waggle its ears and blink its eyes... can communicate with infra-red and make farting noises... Any suggestions?
Thanks for Cosmoplokta. I'd really like to know why, having mastered the secret of sending objects through time you wasted your skill putting a ghastly modern institutional chair behind that gorgeous flapper pictured on the cover.
I enjoyed your round the Con ramble but felt saddened by the mention of access. While I have to acknowledge there has been progress, too often I find wheelchair users are fighting exactly the same problems as I and my charity were tackling twenty years back. It is wonderful that most Con Committees care about access these days but I would advise them never to take a hotel management's word about access. Personal inspection (preferably with a wheelchair user) is the only way to be sure. For years I have always phoned the hotel management when contemplating a visit. With all my experience in asking questions about doors, lifts, stairs I still get caught out and find on arrival that certain barriers were not mentioned because the management did not think they were relevant or because -- worse still -- members of staff would be willing to carry me and my chair past the obstruction when needed.
Harry Warner, Jr
Plokta and Cosmoplokta arrived not long ago, very welcome but somewhat mysterious in the sense that they came from Belgium. I don't quite understand this. If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium is the title of a movie shown occasionally on television but your fanzines came into my mailbox on a Wednesday. Your material about the UK's methods of commemorating the arrival of another millennium caused me to wonder if you forgot to mention that it will be rebuilding its somewhat depleted empire and has already started with Belgium.
The alcephilic issue began with an article that caused my synapses to click comfortably and my neuroses to go into a brief period of catatonic suppression. I've been more fortunate than Chris Bell, since my three-year sentence to use computer terminals ended more than a decade ago and the pain isn't nearly as severe as it used to be. But I keep running into superfluous technology all the time, despite my firm refusal to look at computers in the rare instances when I'm forced into proximity to them. For instance, when I bought a used car six years ago, I found on the dashboard a long row of little signs that lighted up when certain things occurred to the vehicle, mainly bad things. But I couldn't believe that Detroit or Tokyo or somewhere had taken the trouble to include among these a warning light that glares forth redly when the level of fluid beomes too low in the little well which permits squirting water onto the windshield in case it's too dirty to see through. Then there is the new wristwatch that has just come on the market in the United States which keeps absolutely accurate time because it picks up a radio signal from somewhere and resets itself if it should wander one second ahead or behind the correct time. I actually thought at first glance that this was something I'd like to have. Then quicker than the radio beam could adjust such a watch, I realized that neither I nor 99.9 per cent of all the people in this nation ever have any need to know the right time to the second and we can all go through year after year without harm from a wrist watch that is a couple of minutes slow or fast. [Alison wants to smugly mention at this point that she sets her wrist watch correct each working day as she walks past Big Ben.]
I'm glad Sue took such good care of that butterfly. Now it will probably survive long enough to feel rueful about the time when it was a caterpillar and occasionally glanced up at flying butterflies and said to itself, "They'll never get me up in one of those things."
This is the funniest conreport I've read in ages. I'm sure the agonies and the evils of the event in Manchester were very real and your ability to write about them in this way is equivalent to the clown who delighted the circus audience only moments after he learned that the father of the girl he'd been seeing was in the crowd with the shotgun.
The photographs illustrating this article are splendid except for the obviously faked one on page 6. How in the world did you manage to make six fans look simultaneously like normal, real people.
As for your title, I keep believing that Plokta is the last name of the woman in the Balkans from whom all fandom is descended. She probably spoke Czech, although I doubt if DNA research which will some day prove the descent theory will be able to determine her native language. Others have speculated that the common ancestor of all fans lived in the midwestern United States. But I believe the belligerent nature of fans requires an origin in the Balkans.
I know that this ribbon should be blacker, but I haven't been able to go recently to one of the few sources of acoustic typewriter ribbons in the general area of Hagerstown.
#11 was a super issue aside from the fact that Alison has apparently been reading something penned by Ted White and mis-named fanzine reviews and felt it might be cool to emulate same. I've never liked KTF reviews, feeling that if you don't like something, ignore it or just say that it doesn't suit your tastes. Although, on second thought, that may be too harsh. It was quite amusing to see you thought Frohvet was a bunch of folks. Understandable, though.
Batteries Not Included: I have to wonder if Chris Bell is aware of the zine with that title dedicated to things sexual, which frequently runs reviews of toys for ladies.
I enjoyed Sue Mason's tale of the butterfly, although I am afraid I think she was rather silly and should have just quashed the thing.
What to say about the COSMO issue? I reckon Huett will love the cover. Sigh, just can't avoid controversy, can I?
I am currently drawing echidnas and wombats and wallabies for Aussiecon 3 pubs. With the death of Ian Gunn, there seems to be a dearth of strange beast fillos Down Under.
Since you appreciated the pop-up Kama Sutra book so much I thought I'd tell you where you can pick up a pop-up circumcision book. Perfect thing for pulling out of your handbag at the bar during cons. By the way, the hat, devised by men, for the use of men, but that only ever truly succeeds when worn by women. Basically nothing is but what is not. Thank you.
My father (Benjamin Surtees of Newcastle-on-Tyne) boasted of his mother's favorite medicine for her kiddies: brimstone and treacle. Brimstone = sulphur! Ever heard of the mix?
[Yes, we use it on Marianne all the time]
Permit me to swagger. A long study of an archaic Chinese Key concept has appeared in Gary S Mattingly's SKUG #14. Do look it up, please, at: http://www.dnai.com/~gmatting/. Hope the abracadabra makes sense to you.
The study is based on an age-old symbol of an underworldly forgotten strong goddess with the weight of underworldly streams on her bent neck.
She'd like you to drop in and say "Hello!"
Watch out for all those grownups -- there's that guy Murray Moore who suspects you're toeless, a tragic "deformity". (Count your 12 toes to make sure they're all there.)
Absolutely avoid anything to do with Bridget Bradshaw. Of course nobody's trying to "fictionalize" you -- demand more proper photos of yourself in every issue. Scorn, too, all the grownup "Tinky-winky Dipsy" nonsense. That's baby nonsense, in which you do not indulge, I'm sure. As for goo equalling "Ghu!" well why not. Steer clear of ancient Roscoe, whoever he is!
It is absolutely insulting Bridget suggesting they put you into a crib made from a Gestetner. If they try, yell your head off, don't smile nicely as you usually do.
If you want to trust somebody (beside your own Ma), I recommend Sue Mason, who even cares for poor butterflies. That's one up on "Ghu" -- sparrows are his chief concern.
Tell Sue I love her. Kiss her for me. Lots of love to your own real momma and poppa and all the virtual moms and pops on the list.
PS Kim Huett sounds nice. He sympathises with your "grim task of gooing at British fandom". Truly a task. I'd not even dare Goo at them. They're so seriously wicked. Try being playfully a "googoo", i.e. good! More challenging!
Maureen Kincaid Speller
As you see, I've made it to California, and have just spent a very enjoyable week with Allen & Donya, including a couple of days at Yosemite. I'm very glad I scheduled a fortnight in the Bay Area though it's nowhere near enough to do justice to the place or the fans. Same story all over, I guess, but I'm glad I made the long trip. Too frustrating otherwise.
I'm with Chris Bell on technology, having grown up without a good bit of it. Oh, we had a bathroom when I was a child; it contained a bathtub and, by the time I was a teenager, cold running water. Hot water was heated on the stove in the kitchen and hauled in. The toilet was in its own little building, some distance from the house, and one didn't flush.
Sure, Eunice, the darker the chocolate the better, stopping just short of unsweetened cooking chocolate, which was a bit too much the last time I tried it. No treacle over here, but various grades of molasses. I prefer sorghum, though most people consider it too strong.
Agreed, Mae; 20 cats indoors are too many. Of course, I think one cat indoors is too many, but Juanita likes them so we've had 2 at times. We had 22 or 23 outdoor cats at one time, but they didn't even want to come in. We bought catfood in 20-pound bags, but we didn't have any problems with mice or rats; they never even got near the house.
Bruce Pelz, with more incomprehensible postcards from far away places, Felix Cohen (now at Felix_cohen@hotmail.com), Al, Al, Cal and Fergus ("I have updated our website with graphics for links, including one for Plokta. And what do you do? You change the logo!"), Roger Burton West ("just writing to ask for a copy of the "Fen in Black photo" [See Editorial - Ed]), Nick Mills, VJ Bowen ("I make mistakes but I am on the side of Good by accident and happenchance"), Bruce Gillespie, Jan van't Ent, Pat McMurray, R Graeme Cameron, Tom Sadler, Joseph Major, Sharon Sbarsky, Jean Weber & David B. Wake ("Weeg-IndicatieTweede-Weging").