¡Rábanos Radiactivos!
Written by Fred Patten, and intended for Apa L, 2139th Distribution, LASFS Meeting No. 3587, May 11, 2006.
Golden State Colonial Convalescent Hospital, 10830 Oxnard Street, North Hollywood, California 91606-5098.
Telephone: hospital(818) 763-8247; personal (818) 506-3159 * eMail:fredpatten@earthlink.net
L.A.con IV in 2006! Nippon 2007 in 2007! Salamander Press #2622


Last Thursday, Michael Burlake took me to the LASFS meeting. Marc Schirmeister gave me a RCA RCD025 "boom box" CD player/radio, which I was not sure I could use in my hospital room because of its size and my being unable to manipulate its dials. There was lots of favorable commentary on the previous weekend's La La Con. We did not stay for the "What I Have Read Lately" discussion because CAPS (the Comic Art Professional Society) had changed its meeting day again (for this month, at least) from Thursday to Wednesday; and Burlake wanted to see the Burbank Board of Realtors building to see if there was any way we could get me into it. The building has a glass front wall, so even though it was locked for the night, it was easy to see that the only way into the upstairs meting hall was by an 18-step steep staircase that my wheelchair & I would have to be hauled up. Back at the hospital, Burlake set up Schirm's radio in my room turned on low to KMZT, the classical music station which I will not mind leaving on permanently.

On Friday, Rob Powell picked me up in his truck at 10:00 a.m. for the first day of CaliFur 2. Its theme was Furry Pirates. I had previously been assured that my wheelchair-pushers and I would all get free memberships. It took 1 ˝ hours to drive to the Holiday Inn Costa Mesa hotel. We arrived to find a logjam of fans around the Registration table because the badge-labeling printer was not working. This was actually only a minor annoyance, because CaliFur insisted on being very friendly & informal, and badges were not required for admission into anything. Rod O'Riley, in a pirate costume (the Con staff was all (supposed to be) wearing pirate garb) beat a small drum to announce the opening Meet the Guests event at the hotel's tiny poolside gazebo. Fortunately for its size, less than ten people came to it. The GoHs were Lisanne Norman (writer) & Mitch de la Guardia (artist). The event turned into a small, pleasant conversational group. Since Norman was from Glasgow, the conversation centered around that city, the two Worldcons there, Greyfriars Bobby, what is worth seeing in Scotland, and Scotch whiskey/whiskey in general/mead. I was delighted to learn that she is finally writing her next Sholan Alliance novel, due from DAW Books probably in 2007. She apologized for the four-year delay, which has been caused by moving from Glasgow to Sacramento, which has meant tons of bureaucratic details to comply with for becoming a resident of the U.S. today.

Powell & I spent much of the day in the Dealers' Den/Art Show room, where I was welcomed back to Furrydom by lots of fans who said how much I was missed last year (while I was still in Rancho los Amigos right after my stroke). Glen Wooten thought that the project to raise enough money to pay for a professional caretaker so I could attend L.A.con IV was going very well. I was rather shocked to find that the general response to my saying that I am reviewing Furry books for Anthro currently was, "What's Anthro?" The news of its 4th issue (#5 is just out) on Flayrah.com, the Internet "Furry newspaper", logged over 800 "reads", so I have been assuming that most Furry fans are at least aware of Anthro's existence even if they do not read it. I gave out its Anthrozine URL to over a dozen people. The Art Show was good, but there were disappointingly few original paintings in it; mostly "limited edition" art prints.

We finally got our fancy con badges late in the afternoon. CaliFur still does not have panels; the two events that I had been scheduled for were officially "discussion groups" with no named participants. Possibly as a result, hardly anyone showed up at any of them. I was on "Meet the Ursa Major Awards" at 4:00 p.m. and 'Furries and Boats" (mostly pirates, though we covered the River in Wind in the Willows and the swamp skiffs in Pogo as well) at 5:00 p.m. The attendances were about five at each, but we had lively discussions. The next event in the room was Lisanne Norman's GoH reading, which drew a big crowd. Norman read the first chapter of her novel-in-progress, and a novelette for a forthcoming DAW anthology of original fantasies. Her reading ran overtime, but Mitch de la Guardia said he was glad for an excuse to get out of has "Meet the Artist GoH" event, so Norman got to finish her story.

It was 7:30 by the time this ended. Powell & I decided not to stay for the Ice Cream Social, partly because it cost $2.00 for only a little ice cream, and partly because it was a poolside event and it was cold outside by this time. It was lucky that we did not, because by the time we got back to the hospital with an hour stop for dinner at the Denny's near the LASFS, it was after 10:00 p.m. and the hospital's nurses were miffed that I was late for the lockdown curfew.

On Saturday, Powell had to work so Michael Burlake took me back to CaliFur in his minivan. Burlake was already a patron/sponsor of CaliFur (he gave them lots of money), so he did not need the free membership for pushing my wheelchair. He also brought a small selection of his Furry art collection to add to the Art Show. This was very impressive (and apparently generated some complaints about the best paintings in the Show being Not For Sale); I hope that the Loscon can take advantage of Burlake's offer of a similar display for its Art Show.

Saturday was, as usual, the Big Day of the con. There were a lot more attendees, and some dealers that had not been there Friday. Robert Johnson Jr,, the head of FENEC Adventures (which runs the CaliFurs), was very happy that attendance had already set a new record. (CaliFur 0 had 328 attendees, and CaliFur 1 attendance last year was 383. Rod O'Riley reported on Monday that this year's final attendance was 434.) Mitch de la Guardia gave me two books to review that he had written, illustrated & published about N'Duk the Hunter, "a mongoose warrior of Nehantite lore" (who at first glance seems overly Conanesque). I told Wyrmkeep Entertainment, the Inherit the Earth publishers (who were selling the game, music CD, and T-shirts), that I hoped they would publish a collection of their online comic strip when there were enough to fill a book. They said that they plan to publish it as a comic book, because they will have enough to fill a comic-book-format pamphlet long before they would have enough to fill a comic-strip-collection book. That may be logical, but I was disappointed to hear it because I am more book-oriented. I spent a lot of time chatting with Steve Martin at his table, where he gave me part of his lunch. (A jelly doughnut, French fries & pear nectar; maybe not a balanced meal, but tasty. Thanks, Steve.)

Saturday was when most of the full-body Fursuits appeared. At 1:00 p.m. about twenty of them gathered outside (the con arranged for two huge portable fans in the staging area to keep the Fursuiters from overheating) for a grand entrance of the Fursuit Parade into & around the hotel's main lobby. Practically all the really good ones were familiar from lots of previous Furry cons (notably an Anubis and a gray squirrel), but it was nice to see them again.

Just after the Parade we ran into Momcat (Diane Myers) & Lyndon Baugh bringing in their reptiles for the 3:00 p.m. reptile presentation. Momcat had bought my Nissan Altima after my stroke, and they used it to bring the reptiles to the con, so I was glad to know that my former car is still in fannish service. Burlake & I were chatting with them as they set up their terrariums (terraria?) with snakes, lizards, a box tortoise, etc., when Rod O'Riley stopped by to say that there was a big luncheon spread for the guests & patrons & program participants in the Con Suite. Burlake & I charged up there to take advantage of it. I cannot eat bread without choking, so I ate the slices of cheeses & meats (three or four kinds of each) raw, which was a fine lunch for me. Afterwards we went across the hall to the Video Room, where Tom Safer was showing a program of 1930s & '40s cartoons with pirates & other nautical themes. After three or four of those, we returned to the reptile presentation, which was now in progress. One woman had a small green iguana on her head. I got to hold a 3- or 4-foot long ball python, which wrapped itself around my left arm, put its head on my chest, and either rested or went to sleep. (Since snakes do not have eyelids, it was hard to tell.)

We stayed in the room for the next event at 5:00 p.m.; a wolf rescue lecture by an animal-rights activist who said he had been threatened with being murdered by Idaho ranchers for supporting the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park. 6:00 p.m. was the Animation special interest group, which I had been asked to participate in. But everyone wanted to hear only Jymn Magon "from Disney". Magon said that fans have a very outdated idea of the animation industry if they think he is still an important director at Disney just because he was the co-director of its popular 1980s TV cartoon series like TaleSpin and Chip 'n' Dale Rescue Rangers. Today that reputation is even a detriment with modern Disney management, who don't want "that old-fashioned '80s TV cartoon look". He is just like all other TV animators today, working on a series until it is cancelled, then getting fired and looking for a new job on whatever new series are starting production at whatever TV cartoon studios are hiring at the moment. He was glad to offer advice on how to get hired, but he emphasized that there is no longer any job security at any studio, as there used to be when a good animator could count on a lifetime career with Disney or Warner Bros. or Hanna-Barbera, just being transferred from one production to the next.

It was 7:00 p.m. when the Animation event ended, and time for us to leave CaliFur so we could stop for dinner and still get me back to the hospital by 10:00 p.m. Burlake took me to the Pinocchio Restaurant in Burbank just before it closed for the evening, where we both had huge lasagna.

Even though I enjoyed CaliFur 2 very much, I was so tired after two days of it that I decided not to return for the final day on Sunday. I had a very restful Sunday at the hospital.

On Monday I had a long telephone interview with a reporter from Variety about the influence of Japanese animation on the American animation industry. It's nice to know that I am still worth quoting despite being removed from active anime expert status since my stroke.

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-- Comments on Last Week's Distribution:

Vanamonde #676 - (Hertz) Disney is sure to not worry about ontological problems because "today's kids won't be interested in stuff that intellectual".

I Quote Farragut* -- (Gold) According to my grandmother, her (mother? aunt? I forget the relationship) helped Farragut's sister empty a chamber pot over his head when he went home after the Union Army occupied New Orleans in '62. (Farragut was the only member of his New Orleans family who supported the Union, which made him very unpopular at home.) That was why General Butler issued his order that any New Orleans women of any social status caught showing disrespect to Union soldiers would be treated as prostitutes. ## The distinction between reptiles and amphibians is too fine to interest me. I know that the dinosaurs are (were) technically distinct from reptiles, too, but I can never remember what the difference is. Stegosaurs, snapping turtles, and tuataras all have/had beaks. Fine. ## I am willing to take Ziegler's word that he is the author of that poem. Considering how popular the poem is, there seems to be a remarkable lack of interest in who really wrote it. Most people seem satisfied to leave it attributed to Anonymous, or to Dr. Seuss despite the clear evidence that it was a superficial imitation of his style that appeared after his death.

De Jueves #1477 - (Moffatt) Individual crows have attacked people, and gangs of crows have mobbed cats, owls, and other predatory animals their size in territories the crows have taken over, whether the animals have attacked them or not. I do not know whether any of the attacked animals have been pecked to death, as in duMaurier's or Hitchcock's The Birds. Here is the beginning of a recent article that goes on for pages and pages. Consider that there were not any crows in Los Angeles during my own youth. Today they are all over L.A. Can we expect crow swarms of 60,000 and more soon?

"As the Crow Flies"

Flocks of black birds are invading our cities in numbers not seen since The Birds. What message do they bring?

They are gathered on the frozen fields in a murder so massive the ground is covered as far as the eye can see, their oily feathers glistening, their alert eyes watching, hidden in their pitch-black faces. Hitchcock might rise from the grave for this, his ultimate shot. Here they are: "Grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore."

Ulrich Watermann sizes up the enemy and is amazed. A falconer by trade, he has just been hired as the principal birdchaser for the nearby city of Chatham, Ont., population 44,000. The people there tell him that, for the past few winters, crows have been invading their streets in squadrons that fill the skies. They roost on power lines, foul the sidewalks with excrement and pollute the air with a loathsome, sleep-killing wall of noise. Each year their numbers have grown. The city estimates that one-quarter of a million crows arrived in January of 2000. Now it's the end of October. City officials are bracing for another invasion of similar size. The tall, mustachioed Watermann, who knows birds like Poe knew poetry, looks upon that dark army staging in the field and makes his own calculation: the city has underestimated.

About the same time, another beautiful fall is fading from the historic town of Auburn in the Finger Lakes region in upstate New York. The highest point in town is a cemetery, and in its graves lie some of Auburn's finest citizens. Here, long ago, the Cayuga people buried their dead. It is sacred ground. As the sun sets though the trees, black devils sit silently in the branches. Fifty thousand crows have come to little Auburn in the autumn of 2000.

And they are still coming, every winter, to roost. In fact, all around North America, from Kentville, N.S., to Middle Fork River Valley, Ill., to Yuba City, Calif., crows are flying into our towns and cities on black highways of their own creation. Throughout the winter, they stream into warm urban sprawls as dusk settles and return to the countryside at dawn, their arrivals and departures lasting for an hour at a time. It is a phenomenon that must be seen to be believed. Crows have always roosted, at times in large numbers and sometimes in cities. But never like this. These gigantic displays fill observers with wonder, fear or anger.

Why is it happening? What is making them do this, these scavengers that move in flocks known as murders, whose dead bodies are showing us the spread of the West Nile virus and whose legends cast them as ominous harbingers of doom? Are these bloated winter congregations signs of something apocalyptic?

Etc. at great length; but there is not a word about the crows actually killing anything, except as being the carriers of West Nile virus.

Godzilla Verses #86 - (DeChancie) Not just the current campus climate. If I recall correctly what I have read about the Scopes trial of 1925 (John Scopes, a teacher, was tried for teaching evolution despite Tennessee's anti-evolution laws), Scopes had been teaching it from the state-supplied textbooks that he was supposed to be teaching from. Tennessee's bureaucrats either had not noticed or were not bothered with the inherent contradiction. If the trial had not been a manufactured public entertainment intended from the start to ridicule the anti-evolution Fundamentalists (and to get publicity for Dayton, Tennessee), I imagine that Scopes could have won the case on that contradiction in the laws alone. ## I still chuckle over the turtles gags in the Love Hina Japanese animated TV series. A group of high school students assigned to write a report on the history of Oriental religion (or some similar setup) are ridiculing the ancient belief that the Earth rested on the back of a huge turtle. "How could our ancestors have been so stupid?" Suddenly there were turtle jokes in every episode. They went to the movies and a giant turtle was stomping Tokyo. They looked up and flocks of turtles were flying south for the winter. They helped a teacher do amateur archaeology in the countryside and discovered a buried lost turtle civilization. It became a main attraction for Love Hina's fans to see how turtles would appear in the next episode. ## Your negative LaLaCon report seems to directly contradict the rave reviews of it at last week's meeting. If it was really lightly attended rather than being packed solid, I regret not attending. What was the official attendance statistic? Did it reach the 150 maximum attendance?

June Moffatt's International Union of Onion Sauce Caterers - (Cantor) If the frog was removed, how long would it take you to decide whether a cheese & pecan sandwich is edible? And if frogs' legs are supposed to be such a delicacy (in France; but then, the French like Jerry Lewis, too), why do you never hear about anyone eating the rest of the frog? ## Yeah, I am afraid that it would not be at all easy for me to take over the job of Apa L Collator today.

Toodequirtle #10 - (Castora) When I visited Tokyo (20 years ago now; yarst! - and since my stroke I am not able to attend the 2007 Worldcon in Japan as I had been looking forward to), a lot of the vending machines not only played music but said what I was told was, "Thank you for buying from me!" ## "Those silly and arbitrary collective nouns [...] were invented more than a century ago ..." Indeed, and much more than a century; but it was the hunters of the landed gentry rather than the literati who are to blame. To quote from Wikipedia, "This stems from an English hunting tradition dating back to at least the 15th century of giving poetic names to prey. These were known as "terms of venery" (where "venery" means the hunting of animals). For this reason, there are many collective nouns that refer to animals and many of these original collective nouns are archaic: a "harass of horses" seems to have been used little since the 1400s. Some alternatives for collective nouns can be clearly traced to the evolution of pronunciation in different areas (hence a "parcel of hogs" and a "passel of hogs")." The literati of the last century may be to blame for extending the practice unnecessarily to non-European animals unknown in the 15th century, such as pandas, kangaroos, and gorillas.

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