Lokta Plokta

Steve Brewster

You ought to watch yourselves if you follow James Steel's advice and get a better electric stapler; the one in an office just around the corner from mine is an evil little bastard that's got something against me. At arm's length I obediently shove my carefully-stacked pile of paper into its gaping maw, and it ignores me until I'm almost ready to start fiddling with it to get it to work; then it carries out its task with a gunshot-loud bang that makes me jump backwards in fright. The little sod would have my arm off at the shoulder if it got half a chance, you mark my words.

Tim Olsen

Plokta #4 was a great read except for that jolly boring story about the killer bees. I heard through the grapevine that you might like to hear my Cow Story but as Plokta is a family zine, I am not sure that it is a wise thing to tell about the time I was bitten by a cow... on my rear end... while in the company of a young lady and short of a few clothes in the middle of a West Virginia field. Well, actually, I was short of all my clothes and in the middle of something rude, but that's another story.

Graphic Surgical Detail Instead, I thought you might like to hear about my short but memorable postal friendship with the late, great SF writer Robert A. Heinlein.

[Thanks, Tim. We'd still like the full version of the cow story, though]

Just a last thought -- the illustration of me by Sue in Plokta 4 was quite flattering but my hair is longer than that and she missed my appendix scar.

John Harvey

All right, all right so you want a LoC -- bloody naggers with your nasty little boxes full of mean little ticks on the back cover. As if the effort I made peeling the rotten Scotch tape off the thing and then opening it wasn't enough for you. I'm expected to read it as well and then think up witty comments -- bloody cheek I call it. You send the postman round with your cleverly titled fanzines full of in-jokes, nice clean print, photographs, lovely silver staples and then have the nerve to expect me to respond. Well if you think I'm going to rise to your nagging then think again.

So began my response to P3, then I must have fallen asleep 'cos when I awoke P4 was sitting in front of me. Too quick with your fanzines for your own good I say, it'll end in tears, mark my words.

The report on the Mapplethorpe exhibition reminded me of a question that has bothered me for more years than I care to mention. Why is it that people take such great delight in looking at the genitalia of plants but are offended at the sight of animal genitalia? Which of course is probably the point being addressed by the displays in the exhibition.

Martin Smith

Plokta is, of course, the sound made by a very slow keyboard impacting a very well inked type ribbon. Hence the reason why all those supposedly great ancient fanzines are illegible. With the ink from every letter spread liberally over the page no neophyte is able to dispute that these were, in fact, great were works of literature, coz no-one can read the damn things!

Unlike your well produced effort with your scanned piccies. Hah, you youngsters, you don't know what producing a real fanzine involves, the effort of manually turning the Gestetner, getting indelible ink all over your fingers, trying to extract your flat cap from the sprockets of the machine ('xcuse me, I think I've been spending too long with certain fans).

Steve Jeffrey

I would indeed like to apply for a PloktacardTM. Do you do one with axolotls?

As a slow and totally spatially uncoordinated 40 year old I am also dead chuffed to be mistaken for a teenage gamer on speed. But shurley shome mishtake, he shlurs.

[That's what we said, too...]

What do you mean "Only I can save Mankind"? Better start digging those foxholes now. And what was I supposed to do with that bloody Ring anyway? There were these nine riders with glowing red eyes who came round asking about it the other day. I thought they were probably New Labour canvassers, and they needed it more than I did. Did I do something wrong?

Sue may have an egg-laying Electric Chicken, but does she have a battery powered weasel? I decided that we ought to have one, or more properly Enki ought to have one, as a Xmas present. Unfortunately, having named him after a fearless hero of Sumerian mythology, it transpires that this does not extend to facing a six inch scrap of fur thrashing erratically around the carpet attached to a ball with a small and noisy electric motor inside it. He waited till it got stuck under the sofa, and then decided to dismember it.

I suspect our most superfluous kitchen implement must be the electric carving knife. I'm sure it must have a use, but since it's too small to use as a chainsaw (and then not much use for juggling, since we only have the one, and the flex is too short anyway) and we tend to cook chicken so that you can practically blow the meat off the bones, it has not been much out of the box since a first trial. It's not much use on Vienetta anyway; it tends to go all over the place.

I'm not at all convinced by this e-mail Internet thing, you know. It says it understands mime, and it doesn't. I still end up having to type all the messages out.

Jim Trash

The Wasp Factory was a fun story but Tim, did you have to tell us you were naked four times? It reminded me of the sort of spiel you hear from a club comedian who just knows that his audience are smashed out of their brains and can't follow any joke more than two lines long unless they're reminded repeatedly of the relevant details.

However it looks, from your letter column, like certain of your readers may need this signposting.

Watch out, there's a joke about.

[And again...]

I note from your letter column that Harry Andruschak is off doing more exotic stuff, this time in Antarctica.Superfluous Macrotechnology What I'd really like to hear is that he's going to do something really mundane this year and visit Disneyland or something. It gets so wearing. What's this year Harry, oh shooting the rapids on a paper handkerchief or maybe sky-diving onto Everest or traversing the Sinai on a donkey. Yeah, yeah, yeah, just another bloody adventure then Harry. I went to Devon once....

Thank-you to Sue Mason for providing me the soprano I requested last issue. I'm afraid she did get a bit soggy though when I applied the chocolate... I see Lloyd Penney shamefacedly admits that he's only using a titchy little 286. Lloyd, you can get strap on CPUs nowadays and if you don't remove their covers no-one will be able to tell that it isn't the real thing. Remember, it's not the size of your CPU that matters but how you use it...

The bit of superfluous technology I would really like is one of those knives with attachments for getting things out of horses hooves. Quite likely I would never need it but I could impress all the horses (it isn't easy to impress a horse) by waving it as them as I pass by and shouting, "just in case!" "Gosh," they'd say, "there's goes some guy, tootling down the road waving his attachment."

Colin Fine

Dear Cabalists
Cable Company
well, you know who you are.

Cannot but fail to disagree with ye multifarious hordes of correspondents who complain that Plokta is too damn frequent. Long before my fine intellect has begun to come near the point of even thinking about setting aside some time to consider scheduling the careful perusal that is the sine qua non of preparing to think about contemplating the protogenesis of a fully-formed LoC -- long before, I say, when Aprille with his shoures sote the droghte of Merch hath perced to the rote, sorry, bit off the rails there, be OK in a moment, he's from Barcelona you know, sorry, you didn't notice the, er, did you, best say nothing about it, better all round, can't trust em you know, BIG!?, I should coco, what? than the next b*** issue flops on the mat like Brian B**** (fill in the blanks in three amusing ways, kiddies) stranded in the Gobi.

Well, I ask you!

Penguins! Try the (Beneficial?) University of Cambridge card, with its picture of the Senate House, or King's or something. Much more uplifting than penguins. Not as funny when it walks though.

Oh Alison! Oh honorificabilitudinitatibus! To have used the word 'wamble' for real! I am all organs of appreciation (don't ask).

D West

The Novas could be particularly interesting this year. I expect Plokta to finish in third or fourth place, but of course it all depends on what turns up on the day, the disposition of the Croydon Block Vote, and exactly how drunk all the other voters are. Anyway, I'll review you just the same, regardless of failure. So don't worry about it.

"Fillos" indeed. Not only are you the Journal of Superfluous Technology but apparently you regard tact, delicacy and aesthetic discrimination as being equally superfluous. Couldn't you at least pretend that the artwork is there for some other purpose than plugging the gaps in your inconsequential bletherings? I mean, let's have some basic fucking politeness here.

[Hear! Hear! -- Sue]

Mae Strelkov

Well, I'm thrilled to learn the old hecto-prints are being aired in your Internet issue. It might inspire someone to give that medium another chance. I'm tempted myself, but I'd have to charge per print this time, I'm afraid, to pay for the materials. (If they're still available -- who knows.)

Recently, I painted some large oil-cum-synthetic enamels paintings. A Jujuy TV station came to "do" our life out here in the wilds amid the mountainous jungles, and dedicated half-an-hour to my studies of archaic Chinese-cum-Amerindian similarities. Mae's enamel painting I'd shown them my five best new paintings and when they aired the program they used them a lot to illustrate what I said. Like, to answer: "Where were you born?" I'd begin (in Spanish) "In West China at Sacred Mount Omei in 1917." A small shrine topping a rock above a waterfall with Chinese-style peaks at the rear appeared, and so on. "Have you travelled about much?" On came a scene of dark tree-clumps topping a rise and a winding trail going down between fields of flowers towards a stream. Then they'd show some of my textbooks with the oracle-bone and other ancient Chinese writing styles. And I explained bits. It was fun. They've already aired the program twice, and speak of further programs, exploring our scenery here too. (And our growing tapir!) And the native dances and fiestas and regular meets our children never fail to attend. Our kids too now appear on TV, and articles by them on ecology appear in the press of Jujuy too. A lot has started happening suddenly and it's fun, but challenging.

Because I love you all, (cute kiddies), I'm sending you more stuff... a hecto original (or "master copy" which one puts on the gelatine, then places papers on the same gelatine; I used to do about a hundred prints (if all went well) in an hour. If the yellows were too pale, (or lacking, when I had no yellows in hecto-inks), I'd retouch with yellow crayons and it came out vividly, like original art in each example. Also enclosed is one of the last prints made of that original. Finally, I give you a black-and-white synthetic enamel painting illustrating the old Chinese character "Birds plunging to rest in their bushes", and all it used to signify. (In appreciation! Since you're not as Ploktaish as you pretend, but very serious when not pretending to be wretchedly immoral and what not.)

Buck Coulson

Antarctica is a different vacation, certainly, but I prefer places where I have friends so I can sponge on them. Don't know any penguins socially... For that matter, I can't take a vacation anymore. I'm retired. I can take trips, but not vacations; there's nothing to vacation from. (I suppose I could take a vacation from married life, but I don't want to; after 44 years it's too comfortable.)

Nothing as exotic as a penguin on my Visa card. It does have an eagle, though, and the inscription "National Rifle Association". (I thought it might draw some comment from people opposed to firearms, but it never has.)

I have a hole in my ankle these days. Our 70-pound Golden Retriever was frisking around, wrapped her chain around my ankle and pulled, removing skin and some flesh on the outside of the ankle. Juanita said she could see the bone initially, but it's better now. The current sadistic medical treatment for this sort of thing is to dampen gauze in a saline solution (salt, you know) and pack it into the wound. Then let it dry and rip it out quickly. "Removes the dead matter," the specialist said. Removes a fair amount of live matter, too, I'd say. One does this twice a day. Now that I'm away from the hospital, I've modified the process, dampening the gauze again before it's removed. Less painful... I was talking to a nurse's aide at Chambanacon, who said she had a patient with large bedsores who got this treatment, and it was making the sores larger besides keeping the patient in agony, but the doctor had ordered it so it had to be done. (At least, my sore is getting smaller).

Chambanacon is one of the Old Farts cons, these days. Bob Tucker, Rusty Hevelin, several other white-haired gents that I don't know, and me, who has gray hair and so is one of the younger Old Farts. And Nancy Tucker-Shaw, among the ladies. We'd have had Bob Shaw if he hadn't inconsiderately died. Nice little con; three or four hundred people and a hotel that's used to us.

[More locs follow on the next page...]

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