¡Rábanos Radiactivos! #2226

Written by Fred Patten, and intended for Apa L, 2226th Distribution, LASFS Meeting No. 3674, January 10, 2008.
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

Denvention 3 in 2008! Anticipation in 2009! Salamander Press #2709


Last Tuesday, my sister Sherrill brought me to her apartment to watch animated features for awards consideration. We saw Persepolis first. It is a very intellectual feature that I would not have gone out of my way to see, but it held my attention throughout. It is in French with English subtitles. It has brief framing sequences in color, but is mostly a flashback to the author's past in black-&-white, and is a fascinating but depressing autobiography of growing up in Tehran under the fundamentalist Islamic regime. After that, I started Bee Movie but turned it off after the first ten minutes. Possibly seeing it right after Persepolis made it seem disgustingly frivolous, but I doubt I would ever like it. The CGI beehive looked so shiny and colorful and plastic, and the plot was so inane, that it was like a movie about running around randomly inside a big Toys 'R Us store. I have never cared for Jerry Seinfeld, and seeing him as an anthropomorphized honeybee did not make him any better. I also felt Bee Movie insulted my intelligence more than Antz or any other fantasy about hive insects because even as an elementary school student, I knew more about honeybees than the "professional" bees in this movie. There is a difference between a fantasy about an insect being dissatisfied with its social order and trying to change it, and an insect being completely clueless about everything "he" has been raised among. Anyhow instead of Bee Movie, we watched the DVD of World War II Cartoons for Victory that Marc Schirmeister loaned me months ago, and two Azumanga Daioh! episodes.

Ironically, two days later I got an ASIFA invitation to a special screening of Persepolis on the 10th (tonight) to take advantage of Marjane Satrapi visiting Los Angeles and being able to speak personally about her life and the making of the film. It was another screening that I could not attend because of being too late at night and too far from my hospital, but after having seen Persepolis, I was disappointed rather than indifferent about missing this screening.

That evening Sherry brought me to the LASFS meeting. It was supposed to rain, but fortunately the rain did not start until early the next morning. It was a very short LASFS meeting that adjourned around 9:00 p.m., possibly because most fans wanted to get home to prepare for the Animé L.A. 4 convention the next day. Matthew Tepper read his first minutes of his new term. I reviewed Persepolis favorably. Elayne Pelz announced that a new LASFS Directory would be published in a month and that everyone should double-check the current dummy for accuracy. I asked Sherry to bring the dummy to me, and sure enough, it had my current address but my old Culver City telephone number that was almost three years out of date. The LASFS Directory used to include e.mail addresses; it would be helpful to restore those.

Sherry picked me up Friday at about 12:30 to take me to Animé L.A. 4. It was supposed to rain all day, and it had been raining earlier because the ground was wet, but there was only a light mist as we left the Golden State Hospital and drove to the Burbank Airport Marriott Hotel and Convention Center. This was the first time I had seen the hotel since it was the Hilton that the Loscon had been held at up to 2003. It had not seemed to have changed much. I got my membership badge & program participant's ribbon in the Green Room, which also had a tasty cold cuts spread; Sherri Benoun & Marcia Minsky made me a roast beef & cheese sandwich. I had not realized just how much the Animé L.A. con was dependent upon LASFS members for its staffing; Chaz Baden, Sherri Benoun, Marcia Minsky, Fred Lazelle, Ed Hooper, Robbie Bourget, Scott Beckstead, Greg Bilan - I don't know how many LASFen I saw running around keeping the con going.

I was scheduled for two panels, both on Friday with Alec Orrock as the only other panelist: "Shopping for Anime: a brief guide to the usual and unusual places to search for anime DVDs" at 2:00 p.m., and "Fanzines: Before the Internet; a display and discussion of anime fanzines in America" at 4:00 p.m. Both were in the Academy 6 room, as far across the Convention Center as you could get. On entering the Convention Center, it looked like all 2,400 anime fans that Chaz Baden had said was the con's attendance limit were there, although I was later told that only about 900 fans were there on Friday. It looked really packed and frenetic, with lots of cosplayers running around. The major hall costume theme this con seemed to be Gothic Lolitas, with mostly girls but some guys in frilly black pinafores. The Con Center was so crowded that it took about ten minutes to squeeze our way to Academy 6 (admittedly, being in a wheelchair is an extra handicap to mobility).

There were about twenty fans at the "Shopping for Anime" panel. Fortunately, I had prepared some notes, because Alec Orrock was a no-show; so I ended up doing a solo lecture. I described shopping for anime in two ways; at "brick & mortar" anime specialty shops in the greater L.A. area, and via Internet shopping at the online "anime superstores" like The Right Stuf International (in Des Moines) and AnimeNation (in Tampa), which both have been in business for a decade and have excellent reputations for fast service and reliability. The audience seemed interested enough that a couple of fans wrote down the addresses, or URLs, of the stores I recommended most highly; although one fan wanted to know why the Barnes & Noble and Borders chains that have huge manga sections do not carry anime DVDs as well (I guessed the same reason they do not carry DVDs in general; they leave those to Blockbuster and other video specialty stores), and another fan wanted the locations of any stores around Riverside that sold Japanese candy and snack foods at reasonable prices because she was tired of paying horrendous markups to Japanese pop culture specialty stores (I could only suggest doing a Google search for Japanese markets in the Riverside area). The panel seemed to be a success despite being frequently drowned out by cheering, applause & laughter from the much larger Guests of Honor presentation on the other side of the room divider, and by my running out of things to say after just a half hour.

Adjourning the panel at 2:30 p.m. gave Sherry & me an extra half-hour to cruise the con before my 4:00 panel. There was not much that either of us wanted to see besides the Dealers' Room. It seemed larger than those at the previous Animé L.A.'s, although I don't know if it had more dealers or was just spread over a wider space; it was as crowded, in either case. Sherry bought some minor knickknacks, but I limited myself to browsing due to a lack of both money and space to put anything in my hospital room (and my "study" in Sherry's apartment is getting pretty filled up already, too). Some dealers had racks of "authentic Gothic Lolita pinafores from Japan", but dresses for Japanese teenage girls looked more like they would fit seven to ten-year-old American girls. We both noted that there were no dealers selling Pocky Sticks or other Japanese snack food this year; by happenstance, or did the Con Committee rule against it? We finished browsing about 3:15 and decided to return to the Green Room for some breathing space. This meant crossing back across the plaza into the East Tower, and since it was raining by this time, we got quite wet. After relaxing (& another sandwich), it was time to cross back to the Convention Center and get soaked again.

Alec Orrock was still absent for our 4:00 "Fanzines: Before the Internet" panel. Also, the Pocket Program in the Registration Packet was the first time I had seen the subtitle promising "A display and discussion of anime fanzines", so I had not brought anything to display. (I could not have anyway, since my collection is now in the UCRiverside Library.) Very fortunately, Rob Miles was in the audience, and I quickly invited him up to take Orrock's place on the panel. Miles has been in Bay Area anime fandom since it started, and was on the staffs of some early anime fanzines as well as being a regular member of the annual FanimeCon staff in Santa Clara. He & I filled the hour with descriptions & anecdotes of anime fanzines and attempts to publish professional, newsstand-distributed anime magazines prior to about 1992. I was shocked to learn from him that some of the more prominent & apparently successful fan-started anime specialty businesses at the time of my stroke in early 2005 have disappeared, and that Viz, one of the major American manga publishers (Naruto, Inuyasha, etc.) whose books comprise about 50% of the manga sections in Barnes & Noble and Borders, is about to withdraw from that business entirely. There were about three dozen in this audience, and it was a very successful panel except for, again, excessive noise (including what sounded like amateur Godilla roars) from the comedy event in the next room.

By this time it was 5:00 and there was not much going on except the anime video program, panels on how to make Japanese costumes or an introduction to Japanese supernatural creatures, and preparations for the big evening events at 9:00 (dance, gaming). None appealed to Sherry or me, so we decided to leave for the day. This meant getting soaked again; getting from a wheelchair into a car in the rain is no fun. We went to Pinocchio's Italian restaurant in Burbank for dinner and a study of the Pocket Program. Most of Saturday's & Sunday's program seemed to be tutorials for beginners on how to make costumes, how to become a cartoon voice actor, how to become a professional comic book (manga) artist, how to make your own music videos, how to join an anime fans' group tour to Tokyo, how to play Go &/or construct origami - nothing that really interested us. We agreed that if it was still raining as heavily on Saturday & Sunday - and according to the weather report, it was due to rain harder - it would not be worth returning to the con. I was very glad that all of my programming had been on Friday, so all of my obligations were over with. Next year's Animé L.A. 5 will move to the L.A. Airport Marriott, where the Loscon currently is. Since I cannot stay at the LAX Marriott overnight without an expensive caregiver, and I hate to impose on my sister to drive me to & from North Hollywood more than one day, I may ask in advance to again have all my programming on one day - or not go at all.

Saturday was actually dry, but so overcast that it looked like it might start raining at any moment, so I was happy to play safe and stay in the hospital. Besides, Anthro #15 went online on Saturday, so I had plenty to read. By the way, considering the comments in Apa L recently about whether s-f fandom and furry fandom are similar or nothing like each other, Phil Geusz's column in Anthro #15 describes one major difference. Furry conventions are high-profile fund-raisers for animal-related charities and non-profit animal-rescue centers, while if s-f conventions donate to any charities or scientific or technological foundations at all, it is with little or no publicity. Anthrocon's publicity states that since it began in 1997, it has raised more than $62,000 for animal-related charities. Further Confusion has raised $78,940 including $16,000 last year to Golden State Greyhounds and Stanislaus Wildlife Care Center. Mephit FurMeet in Memphis regularly donates to the Tiger Haven big-cat animal sanctuary near Knoxville; last year's donation was over $12,000. S-f conventions tend to have blood drives and toy drives, which are so low-profile that their results may go unnoticed or unreported.

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-- Comments on Last Week's Distribution:

Cover - (DeChancie) Very nice. If I was going to continue naming movies that your paintings could be taken from, this is reminiscent of The Blair Witch Project.

De Jueves #1564 - (Moffatts) Sony Pictures Animation and Sony Pictures Classics are two separate divisions and never the twain shall meet operate independently. ## The LASFS should at least establish "officially" whether it is club policy to spell Forrest J Ackerman's name with or without the period after the middle initial, or to leave it up to the individual members to use the period or not, to eliminate confusion over "corrections". ## Since we are not likely to encounter octopus women (as distinct from female octopi), it is a moot point. We are not even likely to encounter Orangina in Southern California. (I suppose that Galco's has it.) ## Gus Arriola is still alive, as far as I know, in retirement in Carmel or some such place.

Vanamonde #762 - (Hertz) I still feel embarrassed for the praise that Fredric Wertham heaped on me in his The World of Fanzines for my comments in fanzines, which implied that I and the other fanzine writers he "discovered" had invented grass-roots intellectualism. ## Of course the LASFS would vote on how to write your name. Rather, it would auction the right for the highest bidder to get to decide.

Rotten to the Core - (Cantor) Yes, James Shull. ## The discussion of the growing onerousness of the duties of the Vice President reminds me of Michael Shaara's "2066: Election Day" in ASF, in which the expanding workload of the U.S. presidency had become fatal by 2066. We are not likely to reach that level for a while.

Godzilla Verses #172 -- (DeChancie) China (golden rain tree) and South America (jacaranda, Brazil; monkey-puzzle, Chile) are also sources of popular trees in Southern California.

I Bug-Eye Sirians - (Gold) You mean that the Golden State Convalescent Hospital has been waiting for over two and a half years, at $140 per day, for Medi-Cal to pay its share (over 50%) of my medical bills? Yarst!

Oh, All Right!!! - (Lembke) Did you notice in Ratatouille that Rémy is the only rat who walks on two legs, human style? He justifies this as not wanting to get his front paws dirty, but in fact a rat cannot walk while standing on its hind paws alone. A subtle bit of anthropomorphism that most audiences probably overlooked in the general acceptance of talking rats. ## Santo Claus? The masked wrestler did wear a Santa's cap on at least one Xmas-season cover of his weekly Mexican comic book in the 1960s. The mind boggled. ## Painting tree branches green - is that anything like Painting the Roses Red?

Gothic Lolita is a fashion by Japanese teenagers to manifest their favourite Visual Rock stars. The clothing style tends to imitate the looks of Victorian porcelain dolls. It has been described as "French Maid meets Alice in Wonderland style". Japanese culture places a higher value upon extremely youthful appearance and cuteness is very popular among Japanese teenagers. However in Gothic Lolitas, it can be described more as creepy cute. During weekends women dressed up as Gothic Lolitas pose for tourist's pictures. It is also another way to gain attraction from the public.

In Japan it is mass-marketed and has wide visibility particularly in the streets of Tokyo and Osaka, on television as well as on manga. The fashion was influenced and popularised by Visual Rock bands such as X Japan. These are bands that wears elaborate costumes during their performance.

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