I feel I should let you know that I have inspected myself carefully, and I am not a northern hairy-nosed wombat, or indeed any sort of marsupial: the lack of a pouch is definitive, and explains why I'm usually carrying some sort of black bag on my shoulder to transport pens, paper, notebooks, and such other oddments as seem necessary to the urban fannish life. To the best of my knowledge, there is only one wombat in my local fandom, and he may not be of any use to your captive breeding program, having selfishly and with no though for the continuation of the species had a vasectomy. Apparently he doesn't want tiny wombats clinging to him.
At last, a fanzine with a title sillier than my own.
The reference to "Silly Cow of the Month" for some reason suggests to me the scene in Educating Rita, when the working-class heroine comes to class after seeing Macbeth and innocently states her reaction to Lady Macbeth: "Wasn't she a cow?" Except instead of being one vowel between the "c" and the "w", there are about four. No American tongue can duplicate the intricacies of the True Speech.
Please tell me when you plan to turn on the Orbital Mind Control Lasers, so I can take off from work that day. My office is not actually in Washington but it's close enough that I would probably pick up the near misses, and you haven't specified how accurate your focus is.
[Pinpoint-you now believe that you are a moose.]
I can sympathize with having your fanzine nominated for an award, and never winning. Way back when , when I could afford to do a fanzine, Torus, the fanzine I did with Keith Soltys, accumulated a total of five nominations for the Casper Award for fan achievement (Fanzine) and never won the prize. The Casper became the Aurora, Keith gafiated in favour of fatherhood, and Torus went away, never to be pubbed again.
We've had our experiences with computers and cons, as Claire Goodall has. One techie on our committee wanted to computerise registration, with data entry for 23 assorted fields, and enter the info in front of the person registering. He estimated that it would take at least four minutes to register each person, and as many as seven minutes, but he didn't see it as a problem. We thought that those waiting in the huge registration line would, though. We went back to the tried and true method; pencils and forms to fill in, at 30 seconds per person. Low-tech, but very effective, with no line-ups. Do the computer data entry after the con, and make everyone happy.
Those bloody bolters... fandom shall long remember Geri Sullivan for this dastardly deed. At least Maggie the Battling Nun knows what to do with them.
As gossip is usually more interesting than truth, so too the meaning of Plokta is less interesting than the speculation about its meaning. Discussion of the eating of placenta led me to think about the community in Newfoundland named Placentia Bay. Newfoundland is a province the inhabitants of which have made a virtue of eating as much as possible of what they bring home from the sea. I have no knowledge of the origin of Placentia Bay. I don't know a Newfoundland fan to ask. Rodney Leighton is the most easterly Canadian fan I know. He's a forester in Nova Scotia. It must be mid-winter again, because the annual hoo-raw against the seal harvest by Newfoundlanders is in our national news.
I note with disappointment that none of the addresses of your local correspondents meet the standard which I expect of British, particularly English, addresses. Where are addresses like The Manor House Tool Shed, Beyond the Carp Pond, Little Willie in the Glade, Upper Hampshire R2D2 BTU?
I'd always thought the title of your fanzine sounded vaguely Russian when suddenly it hit me like a shot. "Plotka" is Russian for "pistol". Don't ask me how I know that superfluous bit of dangerous technology.
You are rather excessively prolific, have you ever thought about writing a PhD thesis? Specifically, have you ever thought of writing mine? You'd enjoy it, really.
Congratulations on the new addition to the Plokta cabal. However, I would just like to point out that you may never be forgiven for the photo on page 3. I should know. More than 20 years after being on the front of Speculation, people still make fun of me for it -- as if I could help chewing Have Spacesuit, Will Travel. Have you read it? I do sympathise with Marianne, it is not always easy trying to come out from the shadow of fannish parents. Of course, having an alpha Mother makes it even harder. What an act to follow. At least she will be following a well-trodden path these days, with all these Second Generation fans around the place. The nice thing about growing up in fandom is that it really does act as an extended family. Like a family, you will probably find at least half of them irritating if not downright objectionable, but also as a family there is a wonderful feeling of belonging, of continuity no matter where the rest of your life goes. Arriving at a Novacon, for example, is like arriving at one of those huge family parties, where everyone tries desperately to catch up with each other's news and say really inane things like "Haven't you grown?", and "Are you courting yet?". Sometimes it can be a bit claustrophobic, sometimes deeply irritating to have to keep looking over your shoulder for your parents and honorary aunts and uncles -- but at the same time it is hugely reassuring. I would say that Marianne is a very lucky baby to be born into such a family, and I hope she grows up to love it as much as I do. Judging by experience, fannish parents have a reasonable strike rate with children -- 2 out of 3 Westons, 3 out of 6 Cohens, so the odds are she will still be in the bar in twenty years time. We'll all probably still be in the bar in twenty years time.
Perhaps the next step is a fanzine-Fandom: The Next Generation. Whaddaya think?
Steve Green's a fool! How could anyone make money from a 'Take-out' Placenta franchise, when most placentas come out all by themselves? Plus, this is surely not a line of work where job satisfaction is going to be truly enormous. I can see him on What's My Line though, baffling Gilbert Harding and Dame Isobelle Barnett with a mime of rolling up his sleeve, forming his fingers into a claw, and thrusting his forearm forward. "Mr Green...", Eamonn Andrews would inform them, "...is self-employed". "Not to mention round-the-fucking-twist" he would sub-vocalise as he smiled to the camera.
Another bizarre mental picture sprang forth when Alison wrote "It's hard to type while breastfeeding" (and we'll draw a discreet veil over Captain Pedantic as he looks up 'while' and 'whilst' in his dictionary). What a trivial whinge that was. Life is full of instances of people overcoming significantly greater hardships -- artists who paint holding the brush in their toes or teeth because they have no hands for example, whereas your problem could be solved by a simple sling combined with moving the typing chair back a few inches... unless, and herein comes the bizarre picture, you are implying that you normally type with your breasts! (Sorry for the typos, but my nipples are all thumbs today!) Thus it is that I picture Alison at the keyboard, pecking out (as it were) her editorial.
You were correct by the way to take with a pinch of salt the statement that "Having children forces one to grow up". This is because the folks who said it to you were generally friends and, belatedly mindful of your youth and relative innocence, bit their tongues before they could complete the sentence. Me, I don't know you from Adam, so can honestly advise that having children makes you grow up... poor!
There was a piece in the papers recently pointing out that the average cost of having a child was ú30,000. You may sneer at this, but remember the word 'average' back there. What this means is that most people's kids cost them just a few bob... but that yours (David Levine, insert apostrophes to suit) will cost you umpteen bazillion pounds... but you will be able to console yourselves with the fact that it all averages out!
The X-Files is just Scooby Doo for the Nineties
Pamela Boal As I mentioned when you handed your zine over, I really enjoy fans' photos and photos of fans. I think all your pictures are enchanting and the description of Steve and Giulia's wedding is delightful, I hope your lives continue to be as sunny. May you still be good friends and lovers when like Derek and myself you have been together for over forty years.
I have been complaining of late that zines have lost their sense of fun I'm only too happy to find one that contradicts me. I do have one complaint; the photo of Shaggy demonstrates that you are unaware of the finer points of moose rearing. The latest theory is that they should be laid on their backs with a correctly shaped pillow with grooves cushioning their antlers. Covers should fit loosely over their tummies leaving their little legs free to kick. Some people insist on a tail guard but I would be content with frequently changed absorbent material in the appropriate areas.
You'll never see a straight banana no matter how you work on it. Nor do they grow longer, anywhere. Shed your illusions.
Congratulations re beautiful Marianne. May Mama's milk forever gush! Please, no talk of changelings. Don't issue challenges or run risks. A son further south scarcely saved his little girl from a kidnapper in daylight on a city street. (Spare parts sell well!) So watch out for jokes re elven folk! They're worse still!
I haven't commented on the birthpangs, Alison. They seem packed with evidence of superhuman technologies. Shall I describe my seven experiences of baby-producing in the wilds of Latin American? (No, I shan't.) Too lacking in technology, some were, which can be grim.
Just when the Internet is ablaze with searing Usenet posts on the perfidy of the British press -- how nice to receive a journal upholding the fine and righteous standards of Fleet Street journalism.
Well, congrats on the expulsion of not-so-little Pod and welcomes to little Marianne. (Suddenly a phrase like Willis's "Compared with yours, my reproduction is positively antediluvian" takes on all manner of sinister undertones...) Sure I'm not a little young for her though? Be right back after I get my nose-hair clipper....
How nice to know my e-mailed letter warmed your cockles. ("Just what we need, hot cockles," as Woody Allen once said in his Bob Hope period.) One sends one's progeny off into the µther never knowing if they will find a receptive soul. (This will happen with your children, too, one day, you know.)
If you'd confined your jollies to licking 9-volt batteries all this could have been avoided of course... (In my high school shop class, in order to teach us proper respect for electricity, we each had to put one hand on a lawnmower's battery and another on the metal handle, then get a little charge as the instructor fired up the motor. It felt quite like the time a bicycle knocked me down and ran over me. Wouldn't have minded going back for seconds. Damn -- now I have a reason to pick up those 9-volt batteries when they go on sale at the drugstore!)
I knew there was a reason I gave up caffeine. Well, none, really (just had no other vices to sacrifice to my irresistible Puritanic impulses), except that six months later my dentist was asking me, "Heavy coffee drinker, Richard?"
Jane ought to learn a little discretion about the circumstances of her birth and that famous Chinese Chequers game. Otherwise I will have to report in public, to remind her who's side she should be on, the conversation that took place when she was about one minute old:
Me: Gosh! Wow! Fab! Brill! Etc.! Isn't she beautiful?
Catherine: She looks like a retired boxer, Paul. [Falls asleep.]
I've finally cracked the code, answered the riddle, figured out the subtext. I know why Plokta is so full of news, photos and jokes about Alison and Steve's baby, Steve and Giulia's wedding. No, it isn't just because that's what's been occupying your collective minds and time for ages.(That's too easy and too self-referential.)
It's your subtle way of silencing any rumors or suppositions that joint editors must be having it off (or on) with each other. [Indeed. Non-shagging declarations are now compulsory in UK fanzines, even those with only one editor.]
I met Giulia in Sydney in 1983 at the Australian National Convention. I remember well that she explained to Cliff Wind (another American) and me just why there were Spy Planes Over Tasmania. [Giulia has no recollection of this. This is because, in 1989, her brain was wiped, and all knowledge of Spy Planes was removed and replaced with an abiding interest in UFO.]
My letter warmed the cockles of your heart and was assigned to the WAHF column. Thank you, I think....
Yes, but dogs of any kind have a natural instinct to dig down. If one was buried and came back to life in England, he would, logically, come back up somewhere in the South Pacific. Not having a globe handy (as true fans we have globes of the moon and one of the cosmos, but not any of Earth), I can't say just where in the South Pacific -- anyway, he might not dig entirely straight -- but somewhere out there.
I think a magic machine-gun -- the type of gun seems a bit hard to identify -- is much more science fictional than a magic sword. Magic swords are old hat.
When we had wasps around the house, the pesticide "Black Flag" was still available. It could -- and did -- kill wasps in mid-air, which was very handy since I was up on a ladder and not terribly mobile. Just spray it, a flying wasp would run into it and drop dead. Marvellous stuff. They took it out of circulation later -- too dangerous. I disagreed, but nobody paid attention. I figured that if somebody was dumb enough to inhale the stuff after seeing what it did to insects, then he or she had a low-calibre brain that didn't really deserve preservation. In fact, I think that a lot of the idiots today that make the headlines are alive because Black Flag was banned. If they had fooled around with that stuff, they wouldn't have lived to bomb buildings, start lawsuits, etc.
I'd really feel guilty commenting on childbirth, since mine was absurdly easy. 7.5 hours from "Bingo! Must be it. Hmm, should contractions really begin timed only five minutes apart? Oh, well," to, "We're finished then? Fine. We'll all get a good night's sleep." Maybe Caruso was right in more ways than he knew; he said that the secret of singing loud was to be able to push up with the diaphragm much more effectively than most people can push down when trying to defecate. As a lifelong (from before I could talk) loud singer, I can relate completely to his advice. Hatching a kid was simply pushing down just like sustaining one's longest and highest note. Worked fine. But plainly, and thankfully, I have unusual muscles. Wish I could bottle the effect and sell it to expectant moms; I'd make a fortune.
I guess you discovered that when your waters broke, it was more like the waterbed exploding. One friend here, when she became pregnant (now, how did that happen?), thought she might be having a multiple birth, she was that big. Ultrasound proved that she had one baby, but it literally had an Olympic-sized pool to paddle around in. [Winner of the Plokta award for the worst use of the word literally!] Any time the baby kicked, we figured it was just starting another lap in Lane 5.
Strange that American burger joints are moving over to the UK... in return, Canada is getting a chain called Wimpy's. I have no idea what a British burger joint looks like, let alone a British burger, but I think I'm going to find out. [Don't. Just don't. Keep well clear. You'll thank us.]
Walt Willis! You're going to send Murray Moore a specimen copy of Hyphen? Only if you make him share it! He may not see it again, but them's the breaks...
Hmm... who are the five others in M9C who got this issue? I may have to go and kill them... I'm not a wombat, but Mike Glicksohn is a Northern Hairy-Nosed Canadian; do you send him an issue? Lucky for him he's not in my postcode...
We Also Heard From: Susan Francis
(does the interlin full of zodiac signs actually mean
anything?)[Yes-Ed], Harry Andruschak (yes, I wear my
skirt sometimes), Chaz Boston-Baden with a set of indecent
proposals, Bruce A. Townley (thought #6 was a hoot),
Andy Hooper, (No, not a LoC -- peevish crabbing instead),
Dave Hicks with hilarious DNQ scandal-mongering, Karen
Pender-Gunn (I am sorry and wish you would never mention it again,
please), Joe Mayhew (Plokta...is the word for that
part of a Scandinavian chicken's biography which follows decapitation and
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