P-Plan adherents who find themselves obliged to participate in energetic Rob-Holdstock-style holidays hiking in the Peak District can take comfort from the P-Plan Diet Centre established at Little Hucklow under the name "The Old Bull's Head". Actually, Little Hucklow might well recommend itself as a spiritual home to Ploktarians of all physiques, being a centre of excellence for Superfluous Technology. It may have only a couple of dozen houses, but they're the sort where the BMW has to stand outside because the garage has already got the Rolls in it.
Standing in a line, the landlord, barmaid daughter & teenage son of "The Old Bull's Head" would have no difficulty eclipsing the assembled Plokta cabal. This triumph of endomorphism is a clear tribute to the culinary skill & dedication of the landlady, who, when she finally comes in from the kitchen bearing vast platters of cutlets, steaks, gammon, pies & the best chips you're ever likely to taste, easily eclipses the rest of her family.
Seasoned patrons smile knowingly at the party of novice diners from Sheffield who elect to order a couple of plates of garlic bread as a starter before seeing the sheer size of the main courses. As we wobble out Susanna notices one of them blench & whisper to her companions: "That man over there's got the mixed grill. It comes on two plates."
Harry Warner Jr.
Your material about snakes causes me to wonder if you're aware that there was once a famous snake in fandom. It was the pet of Mike Glicksohn, the fabled Canadian fan. He wrote a great deal about it and showed it off to fannish visitors. In the end, fans received a souvenir of the snake because it died and Mike had it skinned, then cut up the skin and attached small pieces of it to each copy of the next fanzine he published.
Asparagus was the one menu item in my home that I hated as a child. Somehow I have retained an odd memory from this source. I must be seven or eight years old. I was not a rebellious child, thought my parents knew more about life and the world than I did, and rarely protested their instructions. But on this occasion my mother was urging me to eat the asparagus, I wanted to obey and I just couldn't force myself to put such an odd-looking thing into my mouth, and suddenly I realized to my horror that I was crying. Big tears were splashing down onto my plate even though I wasn't making any noise or engaging in unusual bodily motions. There the memory stops. Did my parents see the tears? Did I eat the asparagus? I suppose it wouldn't be a good idea to risk the perils inherent in Dianetics just to try to unlodge the submerged remainder of that meal from my brain.
I've had several housebuying experiences. The first was the most unusual; living at home and finishing up my degree, my father started lecturing me about how I'd be moving out soon, and how buying made more sense than renting. I nodded and grunted as appropriate. A couple of weeks later, the identical lecture, with "why don't you do it this weekend." So, with the help of his friend the estate agent, and a down payment from him, I did.
I'm never going to become one of the movers and shakers of fandom. I am not nearly productive enough for that. Even my letter writing (despite some wild accusations to the contrary) is far too erratic to win me notoriety. So I was not the least surprised to discover no less than seven issues of Plokta were sitting in my in-tray. Even that is something of a relief since I thought there were eight.
Perhaps then it is time to be decisive and file a couple of the older ones away. Before I do though I should make one or two comments on the March 1998 issue if for no other reason but to give your memories a workout.
I had to mention that I was most pleased to see you are now familiar with saliromania at last. Or to be more specific, familiar with what the term means rather than the practice itself. I'm surprised it took you this long though since while the practice is unusual (or so I assume) the term is not. Even a volume as staid as The Wordsworth Dictionary of Sex devotes twelve lines to the topic. If you want to stretch your researching skills see if you can come up the current (as opposed to the Wordsworth) meaning of felching. That should make you work a little.
Well then since you people brought up the subject first with that snippet about the cooking and eating of placentas I feel no guilt at all about the enclosed copy of Cooking With Fat. If this cookbook doesn't make your toes curl in horror (try making Uncle Norman's Magical Fat on a Stick I dare you) then I pronounce you dead and beyond hope.
Kim Huett (again)
Before I file Plokta #12 away I think I should note that even after being told that it's Chris Treganza on the cover I still find it hard to believe. He certainly does scrub up different, doesn't he? On the other hand Pat McMurray still manages to radiate a primordial Patness even in such a different outfit.
So you expect to acquire the sevagram soon. Odd, surely the Queen doesn't send it until you reach 100.
Sue Mason for TAFF?, jolly good idea. I'll pay money for that. Will she do a trip report or a strip cartoon?
Actually, as important as is chocolate to the fannish diet well, at least, my diet it really is not one of the two basic food groups. The two groups are, 1) Sugar and 2) everything else and much of everything else can often be improved with the addition of Sugar. Now that I am retired I make a full pot of Sugar (diluted with a little coffee) every morning. After that is finished, I usually make a large cup of Sugar (which I dilute with a little tea) every day. Before I retired my aching feet did not allow me to carry my daily requirement of Sugar. Now that I can satisfy my sweet tooth (the one which has not yet disintegrated), the stocks of the Sugar companies are fuelling the new rise in the stock market.
You should know that your shortage of certain punctuation marks is not new. As Milt Stevens reports in his column in No Award #6 (to be pubbed as soon as I can find some software which can supply me with a proper supply of punctuation marks), back in the 1880s there was a, "particularly ugly strike of the punctuation fabricators union (which) created a drastic shortage of periods." I wonder if this conspiracy has surfaced again. If true, it could lead to the equivalent of another staple war, this time it being desperate faneds fighting to acquire at least some of the few available punctuation marks. The successful faneds will be those who learn how to create long sentences so as to conserve the few punctuation marks they will be able to beg, borrow or steal.
Thought the device on the cover might be worth mentioning in Plokta [the Dyson DC-06, a robot that hoovers your floor while carefully avoiding stairs, beer mugs, piles of fanzines, and so on]. I've been making lots of sour-grapes comments betting the programming's rotten. Bobby points out that by the time we can afford one they'll have got the bugs out.
In Dublin each household is being given a free 'Millennium Candle'. In case of power cuts the cynics say.
Sorry you didn't get a rocket to stick up on the shelf, but hey, it's an honor to be nominated. (I got to have that honor a lot of times before I won one of those things, so hang in there. Personally, I am still both flattered and amazed on the years when my name shows up on the ballot. I have lots of fun doing the artwork, and it makes me feel less guilty about getting all this cool stuff to read for free by being able to contribute back in some way, but don't get much in way of actual feedback on the drawings. Getting nominated is a nice way to realize people really are looking at the stuff!)
Asparagus? Saw a "Shoe" cartoon strip by Jeff MacNelly recently that summed up my feelings about most of the strange vegetables that people insist on trying to get me to eat -- Guy is at a lunch counter talking to the waitress:
"I'll have a big ol' steak..."
"Sure. That comes with your choice of vegetables."
"Vegetables ain't food."
"You don't eat vegetables?"
"Vegetables are what food eats."
I believe it was Leigh Kimmel who said that snakes are the quickest way to find out if someone is a fan or a mundane. A mundane will recoil in disgust from a pet snake. A fan will try to pet it. Though whether or not Leigh has met a Burmese Python, I have no idea.
There will be a solar eclipse in Kentucky and other states on 2017 (the next one in that saros, for those who care about such matters), and the greatest totality will be at a town on the road from Lisa's birthplace to mine. I doubt it will have red-wine fairies but at least it will be in Christian County. Christian County, Kentucky is wet while Bourbon County, Kentucky is dry.
Joesph T Mayhew
Despite D Gary Grady's scholarly theorem, the fire-using bear (Ursus Bissoni) in Kentucky has recently become able to drop-forge tools, and so we must fall back on some other characteristic to define ourselves.
I contend that the one unique and defining capacity of human beings is publishing. I was suggesting the title "Homo Publicans" but someone pointed out that might be better reserved to gay bar-owners. Early man was obviously "Homo Dittorum", and evolved through "Homo Gestetnerensis", "Slanus Offseticus" before degenerating to "Posthomo Webchatti". Fucking monkeys (Cenobitus Randi), while entertaining to children visiting the zoo, are actually using tools to procreate rather than to publish.
Martin Morse Wooster
It's clear that the cat photographed on the cover is a ruthless animal clearly in command. But what is the cat's name? And what will she do now that she's in charge? Have an around-the-clock reading from Cat Fantastic, Space Cat, and Space-Time for Springers? A video room featuring Cujo and Zoltan, Hound of Dracula?
As probably the only fan who partly paid for his trip to Aussiecon by drinking beer I agree with Steve Davies that Australian beer is pretty bad. I went to the Carlton and United plant in Abbotsford, and was shocked to learn that they use the same lager yeast for Victoria Bitter and the Guinness they make under license. It's hard to screw up Guinness, but the Aussies have done it. Nor was I impressed by a display in the Carlton and United musem that was designed to "teach you to be a brewer" that asked, "How much sugar should you add to the batch?"
But I was pleased to find that the Wig and Pen in Canberra had six beers on cask, all excellent. (The Wig and Pen is also the hangout for professors at the Australian National University, including at least one mathematician who has three dopplebocks for lunch, and then staggers back to his office to do research on chaos theory.)
I was amused by Eddie Cochrane's discovery that the American Red Cross puts out a video entitled Adventure of the Disaster Dudes. The mind croggles at what such a video might contain. ("Dude we're having a disaster!" "No way, dude!" "Way, man!" etc etc etc) But what about the fanzines necessary to survive the Y2K disaster? Surely a nice long apocalypse is the perfect time to read Warhoon 28. The collected writings of D West should help drown out the noise from the tanks rumbling down the street. And anyone fortunate to pick up one of the thousands of freebie copies of Damien Broderick's Transmitters distributed at Aussiecon should find this gloomy tale of depressed Australian fans consoled only by cheap booze and bad sex perfect reading while watching civilisation crumble.
<plokta.con> sounds like a delightful idea; if you could convince the hotel bar to lay in some decent cider to go with the real ale, I'd be happy.
The Seccon menu looked fine until I got to the deep-fried Mars bars.
I like the image of Dutch maidens skipping over the fjords with armsful of asparagus; whether the Swedes (who I think maintain the nearest fjords, given the Dutch habit of polderizing the seacoast) want their fjords skipped over by asparagus-bearing maidens in wooden shoes is another matter.
I hate to disillusion Lloyd Penney, but I know at least two fanzine fans (both male) with pierced nipples, and Scraps DeSelby has three small but perfectly-formed gold rings in his left eyebrow. Gold is, of course, a non-ferrous metal and doesn't set off the airport detectors.
Cumin may be an upper-class thing where Kim Huett lives, but here it's more likely to be classed as an ethnic ingredient, and I suspect for you folks it's just part of the normal spice shelves.
Your eclipse holiday sounds very nice. I thought about trying to view the eclipse, but it was a bad time for us to travel. Staying home, I could have gotten up before dawn to see about a 45 percent eclipse at sunrise. I considered this, but when the clouds rolled in the night before I resigned myself to a good night's sleep.
SMS and Eira
Dear Plokta, We love our cat Jones very much and so we intend to have him stuffed before he gets old and scruffy but we wonder which of his many poses would be most appropriate. Perhaps your readers could suggest one?
Marcus L. Rowland
Talking of feline evil criminal geniuses, this illustration from A Bid For Fortune (1895) by Guy Boothby may be of interest; the seated guy with the cat is master criminal Dr. Nikola (a probable source for Carl Peterson and Blofeld, and acknowledged source for Marvel's Doctor Doom), the cat appears to be his familiar and is used as a medium in the second Dr. Nikola novel.
I was charmed to see Dr Plokta had received a rather large lizard in the mail. I am envious! I want one! I have started collecting lizards (sort of in Ian's memory as he drew himself in cartoons as an iguana) and have two small lizards of the type displayed in the photo on page 6 of the August issue. One is called Spot as he doesn't have spots and the other Slodge, as he is slodge patterns. The dashboard of the new new car has a display of various lizards, including Yowie lizards and a large bright green and pink one being harrasssed by various plastic spacemen. I will take a photo to send to you.
Noticed why Marianne looks upset. Not just because you cruelly shut her up in a cupboard, but that I've drawn one of her feet upside down. Sorry, Marianne.
Has Martin Morse Wooster been reading Pat Murphy? His explanation about calories eaten in another hemisphere was wonderful. Apparently it's the same with wormholes (at least according to Ms. Murphy, or Max Merriwell, in There and Back Again (Tor 1999)). Depending on whether you've passed through an odd or even number of these you have to eat left-handed or right-handed food. The wrong sort doesn't do you any harm, and indeed has the (unfortunately unexplored) advantage that any calories consumed Don't Count.
We Also Heard From:
Kim Huett (a Christmas card for animal
lovers), Felix Cohen ("One wonders if the Church knew they had
put Microsoft in as Judas"), Taral ("British fans... are
utterly terrified of the word "twee", lest they appear less cynical and
sophisticated than a superior intellect ought to be"), Sue
Jones (problems with her superfluous technology), Terry
Jeeves (delighted with his superfluous technology and
enclosing fillos), Bruce Pelz ("Zdravstvuite, Tovarischi!"),
John Hertz (with tales of boys sleeping in drawers).
Tim and Jackie Duckworth ("Would you like me to email you a
computerised sheep?") Joyce Scrivner ("Would you mind adding
me to the Plonka list?"), Alex McLintock ("I am
never sure whether a LoC should be an item of criticism, or whether it merely
has to be interesting"), Murray Moore ("I am still alive."),
Rodney Leighton ("Maybe she never divorced Mike but married
Steven anyway?"), Doug Wickstrom ("Mine were never so large,
though."), Robert Newman ("Help, there's a strange man from
the NAO sitting behind me."), Edward James and Farah
Mendlesohn (with photos from Gaylaxicon), Ken MacLeod
("One of the biggest dinners I've ever had"), Mary Kay Kare
("Loc when I get back from Orycon. Promise.") and Jan van 't
Ent (with his annual plea to be kept on the mailing list).