Issue 16
Volume 4 Number 4
November 1999

In This Issue

 •  Contents
 •  Cover Illustration
 •  Editorial
 •  Announcing <plokta.con>
 •  Have You been Abducted By Aliens?
 •  Marching Up and Down Again
 •  Losing a Hugo in Five Easy Lessons
 •  Lokta Plokta
 •  With the Vacuum on, No-one can hear you Scream

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The Plokta SF convention, from 26-29 May 2000.

[Plokta Online]

Lokta Plokta

As the Plokta website becomes more extensive, we regularly get readers who happen by while looking for something else.


Do you know where I can find a merkin?

Illo of Dr Plokta selling merkins
You need Dr Plokta's
Prosthetic Hair Supplies

Steve Jeffery

Did I see that SMS cover at Eastercon? I'm sure I recognise it, though it may equally be from a John Norman cover. Or perhaps I shouldn't admit to that. I have actually met John Norman. He was at Philcon in 1993, and spent most of his time complaining about how he had been designated as persona non grata at that year's Worldcon, and even refused an attending membership. It seemed a bit extreme, but then I only heard his side of the story, which may have been exaggerated for effect and sympathy votes (which it noticeably failed to elicit).

Equally dubious practices seem to run rife through the Contents page: self mutilation, spanking award winning authors, drink ("Arse, Feck, Girls"), and outbreaks of lesbian sex and group transvestism at Eastercon. Is this really the annual gathering of readers of the 'Intelligent Literature of Ideas'?

I thought the cry of gulls translated to "Coventry", home of the God of Seagulls, Colin Odell, whose cover was blown at the last Acnestis weekend when His disciples assembled outside the windowsill of Folkestone's Granada Hotel to pay noisy homage all night. Pressed for a message from the deity Himself, Mitch Leblanc, Wife of the God of Seagulls, commented "Shut that bloody row!"

Mark Plummer, last weekend, told me that Chuch Harris had died. I mainly knew Chuch from his Charrisma column in Wild Heirs, lettercols, and I think we briefly shared time in an apa together, but it's another sad reminder of the growing generational gap across fanzine fandom, and he will be missed by a lot of people.

This morning's post brings a copy of Ken Cheslin's reprint edition of Ella Parker's Atom Anthology (and wonderful it is too), which Kench is reprinting in a limited edition along with Vin¢ Clarke's 1990 A Tribute to Atom. £2 ($5) each from Ken at 29 Kestrel Road, Halesowen, W. Midlands B63 2PN. This has been a public service announcement (or blatant plug) on behalf of Shoestring Press/The Fanzine Arts Council.

Steve Jeffery (again)

I forget who it was I mentioned that if there were Antipodes, then there should be Podes (as opposed to Pods) but you never really hear about them. And, it turns out, there are. Basically, they are -- as Mr Rushdie would (almost) have it -- the ground beneath your feet. So, I suppose, to many fans last month, we were the Antipodes. I wondered why I developed a strange tendency to say 'G'day' to the postman, and a hankering to throw a prawn on the Barbie. (Or throw Barbie to the prawns; it's all a vague blur after the third bottle of Woomeranga Chablis.)

The eclipse, from Newcastle, was something of a disappointment, being a mere 86% totality and hidden under various layers of cloud which had discreetly gathered all morning for the event. However, via an arrangement of a small mirror partially covered by a piece of card with a hole in it, and a number of retort stands and clamps liberated from the lab, we captured a slice of the sun in the bottom of a plastic bucket and held it there for about 20 minutes. Which was rather more than you could see directly. It didn't even get properly dark -- more like an overcast day -- but the most impressive thing was a full circle rainbow that surrounded the sun throughout. I don't think I've ever seen a completely circular rainbow before, and certainly not from the ground.

Gosh, there are purple staples in Plokta. How cool. But only two of them, showing a proper degree of restraint (and an inability to open Plokta properly after it's been folded in half for posting). And Sue Jones's letter explains part of the photo caption on p.2. Either you know we scan Plokta backwards ('cos the egoboo is all in the last few pages) or you credit fans with better memories or longer attention spans than their alcohol intake properly... Forgot what I was saying there.

Illo by Joe Mayhew (And is that one ellipsis or three just then? And anyway, you should not carry out surgical separation of ellipses into full stops without proper training, and without the ellipses having a period of readjustment and counselling afterward to prepare themselves for their new role. Otherwise it is a highly irresponsible and potentially dangerous thing to do. You'll be insisting that commas re-train to become apostrophes next. This is the sort of thing that could precipitate a wholesale punctuation strike.

Of course the implication of Rob Newman's letter about "talking Goat" and Croydon fandom is that half the people will understand what you're talking about. Which is rather worrying, really.

SMS is right, too., about diabolical liberties. Take a look at the Chris Moore cover for the Millennium Masterworks reissue of Bester's The Stars My Destination. Why has Gully Foyle got 'DAMON' tattooed reverse wise across his forehead? Is he showing a support for a favourite F1 Grand Prix driver (or, unknowingly, that of his dyslexic tattooist?) or might it just be a case of "diabolical liberties" in reversing the painting onto the dust jacket. Or is it meant to be so that Gully can read what's inscribed on him in the mirror, but no-one else can? Strange.

Illo of semi-colons being decapitatedTerry Jeeves

A world-wide shortage of full-stops? Feel free to re-use those in Erg. Other solutions are (a) Cut some colons in half, or (b) decapitate some semi-colons.

Rodney Leighton

Lots of nice pictures this time. I was thinking I would chastise you for giving booze to a 2 year old innocent child but a day or two later, I read the story about the toucan which was kind of touching. I guess you don't hate the child completely.

Then again... I once knew a guy who started his son smoking at age 3 and the proudest moment of his life was when the boy, not quite five, became proficient at rolling a cigarette one handed. Perhaps, if Marianne can chug a 40 ouncer of hard liquor at age 5, Alison and Steven will be proud as hell.

Um... wasn't very nice of me to suggest I might not care if you all drunk yourselves to death, was it? I heard recently of a chap I knew slightly whose liver literally disintegrated; he bled to death internally. All due to booze. I seem to have become very anti-booze-consumption since then. Not that any of this is any of my business.

I really liked Steven's expanded colophon disguised as an essay. Except the part about not reading FOSFAX. That means you aren't reading some of my fabulous prose; wonderful reviews and cogent commentary. What do you do if you don't even have Tobes to shag?

Rodney Leighton (again)

Isn't it interesting how people make assumptions? For instance, since Alison and Mike are both named Scott, I had always assumed they are sister and brother. Yet, in this issue, I see a comment about Mike's brother. Is my assumption incorrect? Or is this another attempt by the cabal to confuse the hell out of their readers? [As explained in a previous issue, Mike and Alison used to be married to each other, but Mike is feeling much better now.]

Congratulations on putting the woman's name first on your new address. Too many people put the male's name first, in my view. [You haven't met Alison, have you? -- Ed.]

Alan Sullivan

Editorial: A full stop shortage? Bummer! That means I'll have to use lots of other punctuation instead -- bit of a nuisance, wot? I was surprised to read, in your loccol, that you're too busy writing bollocks to do letters. I personally recommend Lehrer-Lobachevsky technique, viz, pinching other people's bollocks, and calling it "research" -- cunning, eh? [You can get arrested for that sort of thing -- Ed.] Allow me to donate a little something I found:

"I speak for the Ministry of Information, which I represent."


"Of course. That's my job -- the fabrication and dissemination of high-quality bollocks."

No Retreat -- John Bowen

I Cuss, You Cuss, We All Cuss (Giulia de Cesare):

Stand firm! Declare that all free people shall have the right to grow their own asparagus! Let there be home-grown asparagus in every home! The right to grow your own asparagus is the right to be free!

Illo of Pod in play-penNo Goatspeak in Croydon? Doubleplusungoat! Could this mean that Robert J Newman is not one of The Ancient and Most Secret Order of Goatblowers? ("Who rigs the results of Fhan awards? Who has control of the Trufan hordes? We do! We do!") Or is this just a disinformation strategy?

The Sheep Look OAP? What next -- The Sheep Who Sang, Starsheep Troopers and Baabylon 5?

Eddie Cochrane As the world is gripped by millennial languor, government agencies are handing out advice and checklists to cope with the coming Y2K apocalypse. The best of these seems to be the American Red Cross,

whose General Disaster Preparedness Materials include the "Disaster Preparedness Coloring Book" and "Adventures of the Disaster Dudes" video. The list of things to keep to hand is the usual mix of water, non-perishable foods, first aid kit, etc., but nothing to preserve a reasonable quality of life, therefore I've thought of a few things that active fans should consider including in their disaster supplies.

  • 2-300 unread SF & Fantasy books to read while waiting for Civilisation to be rebuilt.
  • 20 or so rechargeable batteries for Psion and other essential appliances.
  • 2 solar battery chargers.
  • 2 Beer brewing kits with additional ingredients.
  • Large selection of bottled beers (empties to be used in the above).
  • 2 Rolls of Gaffer Tape (silver/black).
  • Leatherman Tool plus Expansion toolkit.
  • Trays, jelly, ink etc. for duplicating 'zines (or possibly a battery powered inkjet printer of a type with refillable cartridges, however you can, if the worst happens, eat the jelly).
  • Pigeons and pigeon coop (for RFC-1149 compliant Internet access).
  • Barbecue (for the above, but only to be used in extreme emergencies, as it may cause an unacceptable reduction in bandwidth).
  • 500 cable ties, 200 pegboard hooks, 200 Velcro tabs (in case the Post-Millennial Apocalypse includes an Art Show, and you're in Liverpool).

The sad thing is that I have many of these things already, although my stock of bottled beers is getting low. Fortunately I only live a short walk away from Sainsbury's, so I should be at the front of the queue when the looting starts.

Dave Langford

Sorry to have, as it were, snatched the fanzine Hugo from your trembling hands. I'd persuaded myself that my terrifying run of wins was mystically certain to end in Australia, it being Aussiecon 2 that first voted me one of the things in 1985. Oh well. Next time, you must crush me like a bug.

Peter Wareham, somewhere in Stratford upon Avon

Re: Dr Plokta's suggestion that I might provide an exact duplicate of one of Marianne's grandparents should they die. I was able to provide the second toucan because I supplied the original one to 2Kon at Reconvene. I would like to state now that I had no hand in the provision of any of the original grandparents, and so will be unable to help with duplicates, should they be required. I thought I'd better warn you now, rather than waiting until the event. I'd hate to have to disappoint Marianne.

Milt Stevens

I was taken aback when I saw that a fanzine named Plokta had been nominated for the Hugo. A non-newszine being nominated for the Hugo! What could have made fandom do such a thing? It's almost unheard of. Well, I reasoned, it must be chocked full of news to get on the ballot in any case. You can imagine my surprise at reading Plokta V4 #2 and discovering it was chocked full of...of...of, but it certainly was chocked full of it.

I'd love to help you with your search for extraterrestrial life, but to the extent I still work I show up at an office on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. (Yes, that Hollywood.) An alien would simply never be noticed in Hollywood. ST:TNG was filmed at the Paramount Studios on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood. One of the actors, who was portraying an iguanoid looking alien, commented that if he walked across the street for lunch nobody would even notice him. True, nobody would notice a guy who happened to look like an iguana walking down a street in Hollywood. Now if the guy who looked like an iguana was also cross dressing he might get a small amount of attention (some of it favorable).

Illo of cross-dressing iguana
Don't fancy yours much, mate

Alison Scott recounts getting her ears pierced. I understand that can be quite painful if they try to do both ears at once. She mentions her mother didn't let her get her ears pierced as a teenager. It's remarkable how things differ between cultures. In the local Mexican culture, it's traditional to have a little girl's ears pierced for her christening. Locally, most everybody had their ears pierced years ago, so the puncture emporiums have had to diversify. By now, you name it and they'll pierce it. Years ago, some women may have thought having their noses pierced would be a good conversation starter. Unfortunately, most males would have some difficulty delivering a line like Beg pardon, but I notice you have a safety pin stuck through your nose. Most men wouldn't want to find out what sort of a conversation they might start with a line like that.

I remember some years ago at a fan party in Los Angeles one male removed his shirt revealing that his nipples were pierced, and he was wearing nipple rings. Watching the reaction of the females present was sort of interesting. Invariably, their eyes kept tracking to those nipple rings. While it certainly seems to get female attention, I don't think it's a ploy I'd care to try personally.

Zander Nyrond

Finally and at last, a response from the Nyrond... (that's one...(curse, that's two)).

You can't fool us, Alison... you just can't take the pressure of living in the same street as Rafe. All this talk of more space is mere flimflammery. I can well imagine the atavistic impulses churning and roiling in your breast every time you pass that door... Take me back to the filkcons, the filkcons and the WiGGLes...On the road to Didg'ridouze, Where your way you're bound to lose, Can't you hear them guitars tuning 'mid the songfiles and the booze...I'm filking hackwork for Christmas...

Or maybe not. I could be wrong. Please don't hit me...(damn, that's eight. Oh well. Maybe I can borrow from Joe Nicholas or somebody who never uses the things. Is it true that ellipses are bad for your eyes?)

Grim harbingers of Asda's change of ownership have already become apparent down here. They have ceased to sell loose bacon, which of course means that you can't find any with the rind still on. While this may not be more heinous than selling guns ("The right to buy weapons is the right to blow someone's head off, and that's all it is" [This correspondence is now closed -- Ed.]), in my view it's a close-run thing.

Alasdair Hepburn

First off, thanks for the last Plokta; full of the usual stuff. Except that the technology used to produce it is increasingly becoming necessary, rather than superfluous. Surely it's time to get back to your roots and buy random items from the Innovations catalogue -- the home of the worthless gadget.

Calum decided that he wanted to see a football match, so I took him to see Queen's Park against Forfar Athletic. No trouble finding a seat -- the all new Hampden has a capacity in excess of 55,000, so the 818 present had room to breathe. Actually, most of the stadium was blocked off, as initial preparations were being made to make a film. The film itself, called something enterprising like The Match, features no hopers Portknockie somehow ending up in the Scottish Cup final against Rangers, so there was a huge turnout the following day to see a phoney match, as opposed to a tiny turnout to see a real match. Go figure. (Actually, there was one Saturday when the biggest crowd attending any football match in Scotland was over 20,000 to watch two reserve teams. I'll let you guess which teams they were. Clue: they both come from Glasgow, and no, it wasn't Partick Thistle. Or Queen's Park.)

Martin Morse Wooster

I experienced early signs of the punctuation shortage when I wrote for Barleycorn, a now defunct beer newspaper. The publication spent a year going through its death throes, and the first sign we knew something was wrong was when an issue was published that was entirely free of punctuation! Yes, the production director, apparently aided by some computer glitch, decided to publish an issue entirely free of commas and periods. But thanks to Plokta, I know that the paper was obviously conserving punctuation for future generations...

Illo of Dalek The P-Plan Diet obviously makes sense, although there are recent scientific discoveries of which your editors are unaware, such as the rule that broken cookies have no calories, since the calories leak away when you break the cookie. I also learned from my trip to Australia that whenever you travel from one hemisphere to another, that calories eaten in the Southern Hemisphere don't count, since they're inverted as you cross the Equator. Because of these inverted levocalories, Australians and New Zealanders who go to Britain or America also have calorie-free vacations.

It's a good idea to keep close watch on all those pet boas and pythons. We had a case recently around here about a teenage girl who came home from school only to see her fox terrier about to be consumed by an escaped python! The dog was saved, though it took a lot of yelling and the fortuitous use of a toilet-bowl plunger to free the hound from the snake's clutches. People who own pet pythons ought to keep them well fed -- and have a strong lock on the vivarium.

[Martin has no idea of the temptation that nearly overcomes us Every Single Time we type his name, what with our fondness for, well, you know -- Ed.]

Joe Mayhew

In Volume 4, No 3 you mention a full stop famine, and in memory of the international brotherhood between our countries during THE WAR, I have rounded up a batch of American Periods, which, with very little re-tooling, can be used as ersatz full stops-here's an emergency supply.

.......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... ........

Furthermore, I have contacted our fighting boys in the Web Force and they have contributed (at considerable sacrifice and personal risk) a generous quantity of E-mail address dots, which likewise can be used until the lights come on again. To convert dots to full stops, simply follow them with two spaces.......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......

Our gallant allies, the French, are rounding up decimal points, while the International Conspiracy of Cartoonists is working hard around the clock at producing stipples. We all look forward to the day -- and may it be soon -- when you plucky people of Old Blighty can readily come to a full stop.

Despite Martin Wooster's well-intentioned suggestion, the British Library Shelves should be reinstated with full honours for their long support of literature in the United Kingdom, as the Bard nearly said "Unto thine own shelf be true..."

Joe Major mentions MI-10, and reminded me of the first transsexual I ever met, a former operative who had been given a tightly coiled saw blade inside one of his fly buttons.

Geri Sullivan/Doug Wickstrom
Live from the Ginkgo & the Borderlands gig

Illo of whippet This obviously isn't a LoC, but is sent in appreciation of "The P-Plan Diet" and other delights in Plokta 15. I took Plokta along to the Minicon 35 PR#1 mailing party (part I) today, read the diet, plan aloud to the amusement of my fellow Inkballers & stampers. Which meant it was still in my computer bag (where else should a Plokta be kept) when Doug Wickstrom got off work and gave me a ride to the Borderlands gig at the Ginkgo Coffee House, which means that my ale may be Jamaican, but it's also ginger. More's the pity, though I downed a couple of Korean beers over the dinner before the gig. Anyway, Doug's read more of the issue of Plokta than I have (yet), so... [At this point the handwriting changes] Well, as a matter of fact, the Dutch (and the Germans!) do raise their asparagus in the dark, so to speak. As the spears poke themselves out of the earth in search of sunlight, these vile spargelbauern (Deutsch for asparagus-farmers) torture the tender shoots by mounding earth ever higher around the light-seeking stalks, forcing them to reach further and further towards the heavens, until some national consensus is reached regarding the beginning of the asparagus season, at which time these vegetarian-abuse specialists uproot the shoots, unmound the mounds, and cut off the tiny green tips like mohels performing some bizarre vegetable bris. For the green parts, sad to say, are considered, well, inedible by all right thinking Dutch and German asparagus aficionadi. [And changes back to Geri] Uh, I'll stick with the ice cream float. Now if I could only float my way to <plokta.con>. Happy moving, Alison and Steven. PS Borderlands is the band Jeff is in. Marianne -- "Poop! Poop! And don't get into mischief!"

We Also Heard From:

Joseph Nicholas, Marty Cantor ("dramatically improved when they are covered in chocolate"), EB Frohvet ("Everyone should now beat Sue Mason with sticks until she agrees to run for TAFF"), EB Frohvet (again) ("Bluegreened into the WAHF column again, presumably"), Jason Paul Neubert (with a recipe for napalm), Ben Yalow ("Change English to only use the three dot ellipsis"), Eric Lindsay ("Airlie Beach sometimes has to import a beach (after a bad rainy season)"), Rhodri James ("I'm afraid my eclipse story is rather boring"), Susan Kelso (searching for a recipe for treacle tarts), Steve Bull ("Can you let me know Alison's new co-ordinates please"), and Ken Slater ("At eclipse-time, if you wanted to booklift, the entire staff of Blackwell's were outside on the pavement").

And next issue a long loc from Mae Strelkov which is mislaid somewhere following our move.

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