[Just before her stroke, Mae Strelkov sent Marianne a package of letters and hecto prints. We set it aside while we moved, but have found it now, and print extracts below. We're all so sad that there will be no more tales of the Argentinean wilderness in Plokta.]
I'm sending some bird and animal pictures to Marianne. She knows that great big mob of silly grown-ups is trying to subvert her inborn common sense. I went through "brain-control" at that age. All the grownups around me singing gospel hymns at the tops of their voices while wondering "Is this sweet little child born to be lost?" I seemed so naughty-looking, though I behaved good.
Clones don't work out well, I've read. Clones of Dolly the sheep turn out to be her age, no younger. Clone me and you'll get a second disapproving great grandma, approaching the tottering age.
Square Bear's "Lesbian" sweat-shirt was too silly to merit commentary. Me, I like Lesbians lots. More than tars such as appeared in the previous issue, though such spectacular equipment should be reserved for pretty lassies, I think! What a waste! We 'ladies' are made for nice big cocks.
All the pigs are gone now, save one young boar that roves this wild place, up to the high hillsides where real wild boars and their families multiply. This began happening when we declared that sector of the mountain-side a "Private Nature Preserve". From far away come visitors. Trembling with fear they try to hide, when our Sylvia, Carlos and Carlitos take them to the top of our high range.
"Haven't you a gun?" asked the last pair of visitors -- a couple from the USA. "No, we don't need guns," replied Carlos. They stood together, surrounded by mother-and-baby wild pigs and their furious young dad-boar, its huge sharp teeth rattling and snapping.
Carlos later told his mom who lives in distant Jujuy town about it and in terror she cried, "I'm going to buy a hunting-gun for you right away." But our mountain-side is a Nature Preserve; no hunters are allowed.
As for what happened? Carlos said Shoo to the male papa-pig, and everyone waved their hands at them to show what Shoo means. So off trotted the boar and his family of wives and children, and very cautiously our visitors kept following our own three towards the mountain-top.
When Carlitos was just six, he wasn't afraid of condors or even alligators. He kept crouching at the very edge of the swamp, and when I scolded Sylvia she argued "Oh, those are just caimans. They don't attack people." As for the huge condors, they do swoop down on people to study them and they seemed to think Carlitos (who stayed on a rock after the grownups fled) must be especially delicious, and still small enough to carry away. He stayed on, as they took turns in swooping nearer. Later, he told me what the sound of their wings was like right above his head. He finally decided to postpone "for another time" winning them as friends, and with great dignity he got to his feet and walked down to the astonished grownups.
It had all begun because our friend Benjamin had told Carlitos, "If you want the condors to come down to you, say Baa over and over like a baby lamb. It'll muddle them and they'll come down to check." So Carlitos had crouched on that high rock shouting Baa over and over hopefully till down they came indeed to check on this funny-shaped lamb.
I don't mourn for vanished fellow fans. You see, willy-nilly, I expect to meet them and all of us in the bleeding choir invisible. Save Sue's butterfly, that has migrated here to celebrate spring ahead and fill our garden with nasty caterpillars.
Love again, Mae.
Hi goy & grils! Read of proposed plokta.con (great name) at a highly secret location in the merry May of the Noo Millennium. Sounds fun. Yes Yes Yes. Please rush me details NOW. I understand I need send no money. Product safe when used as directed. Void where prohibited.
Meanwhile, run do not walk to your nearest bookshop and form a disorderly queue for Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon. Gobsmacking book from the Enigma/Ultra years when technology was not just superfluous, but filled entire rooms. Haven't worked out whether the acoustic wave pipe organ computer was real, or a product of NTS's wayward imagination.
Have just come across another wonderful piece in Greg Egan's Teranesia. You realise that your fascination with over powered wodges of silicon is perpetuating a phallocentric metatext of gendered binary coding? You didn't? Nor did I until Egan had one of his characters (a postgrad in Cyberfeminist Discourse and Diana Studies) explain the symbolic hostility of 1s and 0s, and I fell off the bed laughing.
Somewhere around is a Langford recipe for the perfect salad. It involves a pound and a half of mince and a small onion (which is discarded).
Vikki maintains that her Chernobyl style glow-in-the-dark mushy peas are not a vegetable in any accepted use of the term. (Having tried to clean the saucepan I have to agree. This is brightly coloured caulking sealant and, once set, impervious to water.)
Are chocolate covered jalapenos an Acceptable Fannish Food? [Yes Ed]
On a much sadder note, I assume you have heard that John Rickett died earlier this week, suddenly but according to accounts peacefully. It seemed like he's been around for ever but I was surprised to learn he'd only come into fandom some ten years ago, then in his fifties, and rejoiced in the title 'The Oldest Neo in Fandom'. It seemed he knew, and was known and instantly liked by everybody; he introduced a number of people we know to fandom and to various apas (including me). It seems inconceivable that I won't see him again or see any more of his letters, postcards and apa contributions about the adventures of Spidey and Spidess and the long-suffering Rufus.
As the only remaining member of the old Irish Fandom who is, at the moment, in reasonable nick (pray explain that to Giulia), I must complain at the harrowing experience I underwent recently, at the hands of very nasty and spiteful French school-children, mostly girls, always the worst of the two sexes.
I was travelling from Paris via Eurostar, and in my carriage, reserved vacant seats were suddenly commandeered by the afore-mentioned French schoolchildren. Noting that I was the only elderly Englishman in the carriage, I'm sure I was the intended victim of their dreaded ploy. I went to the toilet, as elderly men usually do frequently, and after a slash (please explain that to Giulia) I swayed to the sink, which was full of water, the outlet being dammed by chewing gum. The out-flowing segments had been attuned so that the gently flowing water constituted a full basin. I gently lowered my hands into the basin, hit the heater, and, Christ, it burst out and hit the full basin causing the water to cascade over the walls and ceiling, except for the areas protected by myself. The heater wouldn't stop, the water still flowed into the basin, and I tried to secrete myself into the left of the cubicle. As soon as the heater stopped blasting the opposite wall, I eased myself out of the cubicle. Fortunately no-one else was waiting. Where the carriages are joined, rather like a concertina, there are four small seats, and I sat in one of these, the cold air being insinuated therein permitting me to dry my clothing. The only good thing in this scenario was that I'm sure in my carriage they were all waiting to see my soggy entrance. An official entered, and asked me for my passport. I said my wife had it in my carriage, but I was drying my clothing. I could see he was baffled as to how they were originally impregnated, but he demanded I take him to my wife to view my passport. We went to my seat, deathly silence from the French schoolkids, and he flipped through my passport, almost ten years old, trying to orientate my photo therein with my present hirsute dewlap (please explain, etc). Eventually, he returned my passport. I happen to know that on that particular train, over thirty illegal immigrants were on board, wonder how my official missed them?
I'm enlarging the three French schoolgirls on the last page to remind me of my experience in Eurostar, but also I think it's very kinky. (Don't worry, she knows what that means.)
[Austin has now provided us with a photo of the genuine article, taken on our holiday, and even sulkier than I remember, which we have reprinted specially for you.]
I've always wanted to know why an alien race with galaxy-spanning space-travel capability should come all the way to Earth just to stick things up the bottoms of people like Whitley Streiber.
The house moving thing? Well, it's kind of like with masturbation: everybody does it, and when one person admits it, all the rest feel compelled to come out with their own sordid confessions.
Notes Towards Maple Ambrosia: Shouldn't it be made with maple mead, rather than rum and maple syrup? Perhaps a partial solution lies in taking this a stage at a time. First we make the maple mead, using maple syrup instead of honey. Then when everyone has sobered up after the testing (we must be sure we've got it right, after all) we brew a second batch, and get to work on the sweet, buttery, creamy dessert goo bit.
Out of interest, just what is it with female fans, and their desire to get male fans into dresses? Not that I'm above such things, I just want to know why. (Exeunt, ranting, pursued by Men in White Coats).
Many thanks for Plokta #16 and the helpful "Have you been abducted by Aliens?" questionnaire. Unfortunately, every time I try to complete it, I wake up with no memory of the previous three days, in a Somerset meadow piled knee-high in dead cattle. Still, guess that serves me right for asking Tony Berry to recommend a decent real ale pub.
You can't get anything containing maple syrup to thicken until all the water in the syrup (about 97%) is boiled off. The story about the year end party was intriguing although I am afraid I ended up speculating on what Joseph Nicholas would do if he was there in mini and tights and needed a leak.
I have always been amazed that some people expect to receive every issue of fanzines published in return for a pathetic plea to be kept on the mailing list sent once or twice per year. Here I am almost doing it.
God does this make me a trufan?
[Speaking of pathetic pleas to be kept on the mailing list:]
[and about bloody time too if you ask me]
I'm sorry for having lurked so long without pressing lots of keys to appreciate in return. Even the good doctor's easily accessible website didn't get me going.
Alison's tale of woe, or how to free a toucan, was wonderful; especially having seen the poor thing trying to get out of the Adelphi earlier. Good to hear the cruel string parted at its feet (so even an owner's name tag would have been left behind), although now we'll never be sure whether it made its way back to the north or more sensibly to warmer parts. Will there be another clone in Glasgow to be set free at the 2Klosing ceremony, one wonders?
The worsening punctuation crisis had me confused at first: no more than six eclipses in a loc? That would seem excessive indeed, except perhaps for the addicted chasers of such.
I sure hope I'm not too late there's this serious similarity between the grey alien and the black cat directly underneath. You know, the one who's reputedly running that con of yours. Say, this isn't going to end up with 100-150 <Plokta.con> attendees abducted by aliens, to be sure?
Harry Warner Jr.
I watched some of the New Year's Eve festivities. We were left with the impression that the Thames actually did catch fire on schedule. In contrast, Hagerstown's welcome to 2000 consisted of a lot of auto horns sounding simultaneously at midnight.
I suspect that Jaine Weddell would order hog maw if she were ever in Hagerstown. This is identified on menus of certain local restaurants as food. I've never heard of its availability in any other place on this planet. The small restaurant where I usually eat has it one day a week in the cooler portions of the year, and it is the most expensive item on its menu, which isn't saying much to be sure. All I know about it is that it looks worse than its name, on the rare occasions when I've seen it conveyed to the tables of other diners.
I was expecting that the night of December 31st 1999 would be filled with chaos and destruction, and I was, of course, entirely correct. The fact that I spent that evening in a house full of nine year old boys (plus one four year old) had, I'm sure, nothing to do with it. I even expect to clean up the mess soonish.
I can just see you all sitting back in your chairs cackling an evil cackle and saying "All those people who send in their <plokta.con> membership cheques will be bound to write at least a token letter of comment on Plokta 17 while they're at it." And in my case, you were right.
Nice to see someone remembering Mike Glicksohn, who was far nicer to my fanzines than I deserved when I was a neo. Harry Warner omits to mention that every issue of Mike's Xenium had a free gift; jokers from a pack of cards he'd played fannish poker with, cancelled credit card slips, maps of the London underground, and so on. Rumour has it he eventually stopped publishing only because he couldn't harvest enough fluff from his belly button to provide a piece each for his 250-copy print run.
Vicki Rosenzweig is hanging out with the wrong people if she only knows two male fanzine fans with pierced nipples. Come to think of it, she isn't, because she hung out in my Portsmouth flat with Simon and Sophia, both of whom sport that very adornment. She obviously lacks X-ray vision. I'm not about to make it three out of three in Stirling Road, though; I like mine too much the way they are to take chances with them. (And my navel ring grew out and fell on the floor in front of my then boyfriend, a dreadfully infra dig happening).
[You're oversharing here, Sandra.]
We start with your listing of Andrew Plotkin's address "In Transit." Does this mean that he is an in-transit-gent? I mean, he wrote, "It's too sweet." Ick. Is this person human? Where does he keep his tongue? "Too sweet" is an oxymoron if there ever was one. If anything, almost everything is not sweet enough. And then, after going against nature by trying to lessen the sweetness, compounding his heresy with, "...but still too sweet." Gaack. Does this man have no shame?
On page 4 there is an illo of a female moose with antlers. This was obviously drawn by a gay, male moose. Female meese don't have no antlers.
In looking at reports claiming that the beer in Australia is bad, I wonder if one can make the assumption that it is so bad because the yeast which would otherwise be used for beer is used for Vegemite. Or, maybe what is passing for beer in Australia is just liquid Vegemite. If Vegemite is so wonderful, why do all Aussiefen drain their country's Vegemite production and give all of it to fans in the US of A? I should note that any Aussie's way to my heart is to ply me with Pavlova. I ply easily.
Here at Kipple Central, I have decided that the executor of my estate will have just one instruction: to throw a burning torch into my abode and then just walk away. I mean, even my piles of stuff have piles of stuff atop them. I think, if my landlord were to ever discover that I might possibly develop some sort of flat surface in this place, he would classify this as a luxury apartment and raise my rent. As Giulia writes, one can never tell when something might come in handy. Not to put to fine a point on it, but the only thing around here that would ever come in handy in the future would be a nice, cleansing fire.
Congratulations to George on his assumption of convention chaircatship. If he follows the usual feline practice of when in doubt fall asleep, I'm sure he will do a fine job.
Several years ago, it was determined that the duties of Loscon chairmanship could just as well be performed by a stuffed toy. As a result, a stuffed moose named Chocolate was chosen as Loscon chair. The theme of the convention became Take This Con and Stuffy It. Chocolate did a better than average job. He didn't get mad at anybody, he showed no signs of stress whatsoever, and he didn't make any wrong decisions.
[On Y2K]: I decided to stay home up here in the hills and not venture down into Los Angeles. The City staged several large public parties, but attendance was sparse. It appears people wanted to forgo the opportunity of being gunned down like dogs by any itinerant psycho looking for a really big body count. There was also the possibility of riots: a popular form of recreation in Los Angeles. Almost any holiday can be celebrated with looting and arson. The riots always result in a drastic shortage of marshmallows afterwards. There was the added complication that Y2K Eve fell on a Friday evening. In some parts of the City, you have to wait until 3am to tell whether it is a riot or just a regular Friday night.
Patty Wells mentions the subject of static cling. I don't know about the rest of you, but I've always liked static cling. I have no idea why some detergent companies want to get rid of it. Without static cling, how would anyone be able to harass their cats by sticking socks to them?
Joseph T Major
Editorial: "[Tranquillising] Marianne with dozens of Barney videos." I believe that constitutes child abuse. Indeed, considering that you had to have seen bits and pieces of them as well, small wonder that Plokta was delayed. The Great Purple Avatar of Satan has that effect on adult minds.
Notes Towards Maple Ambrosia: Maybe you just ought to bear in mind the Kentucky Mint Julep recipe:
Prepare the silver mint julep cups by chilling them in shaved ice for at least two hours. Take one cup, fill it to the brim with more ice, then add one half-lime, two sprigs of genuine garden-grown mint, and a teaspoon of sugar.
Prepare another cup with two inches of genuine Kentucky bourbon, aged in the wood for at least seven years.
Throw away the other junk and drink the bourbon. Repeat as desired.
The difficulty with the Maple Ambrosia may have been due to lack of mead I hardly think that adding rum to maple syrup is the same as a maple mead, which would have to be made by fermentation. The sugar maple is originally a North American variety and so could hardly have entered into traditional mead-making. In the oldest system described in Wassail! In Mazers of Mead by G. R. Sayre, M.A., D.Sc. (Phillimore, London 1948) honeycombs were steeped in water until the honey had dissolved from the wax, and this mixture was then allowed to ferment. It was believed to produce a happier drunk than ale, and one writer notes that most of the effect was from the waist down, so that drinkers became unsteady on their feet.
The sap as collected from sugar maples already contains more water than is wanted for syrup, and has to be boiled down I have never heard of any experiments in letting the raw sap ferment. It seems that this would work, but I can't find anything about it in Sayre, whose book lacks an index.
Eric Raymond did what? And here I thought he was getting a little more sober, twenty years after (no, can't tell that one) or (better not tell that one either), or.... Maybe you should just point those readers that believe in superfluous technology to <www.userfriendly.org/cartoons/archives/99jun/19990620.html>; someone who wasn't even there had to remind me that the appropriate subcaption is "Does this mean I don't get laid?"
And what is it about how potaroos rip each other's goolies off? Do they fannishly use a Leatherman on each other, instead of teeth and toenails as you'd expect?
The bungee jump that was formerly here closed. The local pub rushed in a replacement activity, in the form of a weekly "horizontal bungee" competition. One end of the bungee cord is tied to a suitably robust part of the building, and those most inebriated are encouraged to buy a bungee jump. Rushing across the dance floor, they hurl themselves at the case of beer at the other end of the bar. If they get it before being hurled backwards by the bungee, they get to keep it. I've seen a couple of the faster and heavier contestants manage to grasp the holy grail.
Lloyd & Yvonne Penney
I'm sure Marianne checked out okay for millennium bugs, but I hope that stuffed Teletubby was put down immediately. Don't care what it had.
Our faux-millennium celebrations were held with a party at our place, with lots of good food, some beer, some fake. There weren't too many people at any of the New Year's parties we knew about (there at least four fannish ones in Toronto). I asked some where they were that night, and some of them said they weren't quite sure what would happen with Y2K and all... Some had fears of being caught in elevators, or having all the lights go out at once. Many just stayed home, fearing loonies here and there, plus a few millennialists, end-of-the-worlders or Second-Coming weirdos terrorizing the streets.
The Canadians will be kicking down your door shortly, Andrew, for daring to use Vermont maple syrup. So, be using da Canadian stuff from now on, see, or me big bruddahs Guido and Bruno will come to your home, and, uh, show youse the error of your ways.
Reading past issues of Plokta has convinced me that there is a fairy beyond the Red Wine Fairy. The Sexy Lingerie Fairy, which has allowed the adult females of the cabal to show off to great effect the blessings the Tit Fairy left behind for them.
I saw in the new year with the Pope. St Peter's Square was absolutely heaving, with a concert going on and two enormous video screens. When the Pope addressed the crowd, all that could be seen was a tiny figure on the far side of the square; they thoughtfully put him on the screens too. Couldn't hear a word, mind.
When I'd first visited the Vatican (earlier that day), I'd noticed the hills South and West of it, topped with distinctive and attractive pine trees. Suddenly I knew why Respighi was moved to write 'The Pines of Rome'. Now, at midnight, the hills erupted with fireworks.
We wandered out of the Vatican. Just outside people were letting off bangers strangely, that part of the street was empty, though there were crowds just across the road an accident waiting to happen. Indeed, the next day we read that a number of people had been injured by these traditional 'botti', though none I think in Rome.
Our host had for some quixotic reason enrolled in the Millennium Marathon, which left from the Vatican around noon. We went there, but didn't somehow manage to catch sight of him. They must have had an army of cleaners in, because there was no trace of the mess that the night's crowd must have left behind.
My LoCs may be too tedious to use but I do too send them, in fact I wrote quite a bit in response to your last ish. Ah me! I certainly don't need ego boo but I do like to know (via the WAHF Col) that you registered the fact that I had written before you threw my letter away. [We have no recollection of it Eds.]
Glad you enjoyed those fireworks (our son and family also found a park to view from). They were not well televised and we feared that people may have put themselves through a great deal of discomfort only to be disappointed.
Our other son was doing the lighting and staging for one of the Bristol events. He mentioned that apart from the wine merry folks who jumped in the water features and caused a small flood the only event to mar a very long evening and night were morons who set fire to the portable toilets. Maybe the London organisers knew something the Bristol ones did not hence your lack of loos.
The Kipple Fairy strikes a chord, except that "kipple" is plainly what my Nana (my mother's mother) called "toot" (it rhymes with "foot") as in "you're a toot-collector". You must have known this already, otherwise you wouldn't have been able to pun so neatly on "toot-h fairy" in the second paragraph. And is there some relationship to "tit fairy" as well? The mind boggles. Dr Plokta should clearly be sent out to research such deep matters of fey etymology.
On Millennium Eve night, we went for the boring but extremely pleasant option of inviting a few friends round and then stuffing ourselves silly on sumptuous food for most of the evening. Not forgetting the drink, of course. Katherine was allowed to stay up for a while in her Millennium dress, but Christo was just put to bed. Cruel, but he wouldn't have appreciated (or remembered) it.
Jae Leslie Adams
I particularly liked Giulia's Kipple Fairy, who filled my suitcase while I was in Seattle. Also Sue Mason's delicate drawing of her, carrying Tesco bags. I have more than one bag devoted to holding & storing such bags.
Bujold's maple ambrosia. I always like a new dessert. But it worries me, now that I think about it, this attempt to make something in a science fiction story a reality. What's next? Will people trying to make matter transmitters or social structures based on what they read? What's scarier is that people have already done this. The Church of All Worlds, based on Heinlein's model from Stranger in a Strange Land, has been around for about thirty years.
I attended the Orycon Opening Ceremonies that Patty Wells describes. I wish she'd written this and passed it out to the audience before the performance. Then we'd have had more clues as to the meaning of the more bizarre actions on-stage. I think we got the broad outlines, despite not having seen Mystery Men, the model for the plot. But many details escaped us. Let's say that the productions of the Not Ready for Sidereal Time Players are under-rehearsed and often incoherent enough to approach truly dreamlike surreality. Needless to say, we almost never miss them.
Some very pleasant artwork this issue, but my favourite, after the cover, was "The Many Moods of George."
The question to be asked of Patty Wells's article is: did she get the idea from the film Mystery Men, or did she arrive at it independently? I ask because it is a tongue-in-cheek send-up of the superhero genre, featuring a gaggle of inept wannabe crime-fighters with no super-powers to speak of. The Shoveller he wields a shovel! The Bowler she throws a bowling ball! Mr Furious he gets insanely, pointlessly angry! The Blue Rajah he throws cutlery with unerring accuracy! The Sphinx his super-powers are, er, unknowable even to himself (although he does teach them how to stitch themselves better costumes so they won't look so cheap). And so on; Dryer Lint Woman would have fitted right in. The film apparently died in the USA, because, it was thought, US audiences were immune to the comedy. Not necessarily because they missed the irony, but because they took a dim view of its spoofing of a quintessential American entertainment form.
Giulia, I am vastly heartened by your piece in Plokta 4.4 about losing your mind. Or perhaps only your nouns. You, surely, will understand rather than snigger, or fall about laughing if I happen to mention that I sometimes confuse Clark Gable with Cary Grant. You will consider "I think we need to buy a new Um. Coat hanger. Dishwasher. Thing." an entirely reasonable thing to say if the clothes washer has exploded. You would probably even join me companionably in staring at the shelf of computer manuals on the north wall of the office, as I wonder why I am here when I am trying to pack my gym bag (note: towels in cupboard on north wall of bathroom).
[And, finally...] Kevin Sorrell
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We Also Heard From
Bradshaw ("Nude Scientist"), Steve Stiles (who sent
great art, which is in Reading this weekend while we're in Walthamstow),
George Flynn ("Featuring an article by Andrew Plotkin in
Plokta is openly inviting confusion of consonant clusters"),
Lucy Huntzinger ("Get the moose out, put up some news!"),
Tommy Ferguson, Terry Jeeves ("I am now an
operating e-mailer, ain't that something?" [Yes, but you might have sent us
your email address?]), Paul Barnett ("not much to
report"), Sharon Sbarksy ("Team Plokta's now contributed
10,000 completed work units"), Pat McMurray (inspecting his
piles and despairing), Kate Schaefer ("right after I click
send I'll think of something astonishingly witty") and
Tobes ("I haven't quite got around to loccing except for those
written under my pseudonym of Alan Sullivan. Let me buy you all drinks of
comment instead.") [That'll do nicely.]