Written by Fred Patten, and published on the LASFS Rex Rotary, October 20, 1965. Intended for Apa L, Fifty-Third Distribution, LASFS Meeting no. 1471, October 21, 1965. Address: 1825 Greenfield Avenue, Los Angeles, California, 90025. Phone: GRanite 36321.
|Cleveland in 1966!||Los Angeles in 1968!||Salamander Press #131.|
The Gilbert & Sullivan Party last weekend proved to be very pleasant. Having missed the last Berkeley Theatre Party, it felt good to get back into the old routine again.
This time, instead of leaving Saturday morning as usual, we left L.A. on Friday night and drove straight up, arriving at the Rolfes' about 3:30 a.m. Sat. morning. The theoretical reason for the change in schedule was to give us most of the day Saturday to see some of the sights in San Francisco; it's always peeved me being so close to them on our Theatre Party jaunts, but never having time enough to see any of them. Not that we saw much this time either, though; what with getting up late Saturday and spending the entire morning in fangab, we didn't have time to go anyplace outside of Palo Alto itself. We did get a nice tour of the Stanford campus, though, plus seeing all the local book shops; my thanks to Joe Rolfe for being such a patient native guide. Maybe next time I'll have time to get into 'Frisco.
The Theatre Party was what I'd consider a great success. It wasn't as large as the one for the last showing of "The Gondoleers", but I considered that one Too Big; it all depends on how you look at it. Anyhow, this one was well attended, but not over crowded; most of the familiar faces were there, such as Donaho, Ruth Berman, the Andersons, the Rogers, Greg Shaw, Phil Salin, Avram, etc. The only one missing that I noticed was Tony Boucher, who I understand is ill; I hope he's better soon. This was the first time I've seen the Andersons since they got back from Europe, and I think that Astrid must've found an ent-draught somewhere over there, because she's now taller than Felice and only a bit shorter than Bĵo; a growth of several inches, at least. The after-Theatre Party at Emil Petaja's was again just right in size. This was the first time I'd ever met Emil, who is a rather quiet but very friendly man. He was a close friend of Hannes Bok, and has many Bok paintings hanging on his walls; as I'm a great Bok fan, I spent a lot of time talking with him and Bĵo about Bok and his art.
"Patience" itself was very well performed; if it can be said to have had any flaw, it was that the male lead, Bunthorne (Orva Hoskinson) was so good that everybody else seemed to fade into the background in comparison. June Wilkins played Lady Jane with such verve that the first act was over half over before I noticed that her arm-length white glove was actually a plaster cast. (The bouquet pinned to it was quite successful in disguising it.) Though I have no complaints with her portrayal of the role, I don't think she stood out in it nearly as much as she did as Dame Hannah in "Ruddygore" or as the Dutchess of Plaza-Toro in "The Gondoliers". (I feel I've finally seen enough of the Lamplighters' performances to begin recognizing the individual members of the cast, or at least the main performers; I now know June Wilkins and John Vlahos (Archibald Grosvenor in "Patience"; the Duke of Plaza-Toro in "Gondoleers"), and I'll certainly be looking for Orva Hoskinson in the future.) Aside from Hoskinson's performance of Bunthorne, though, I don't think I like "Patience" as well as most of the other G&S operettas I've seen so far; certainly not as well as "Ruddygore", which remains my favorite. After the performance, when the cast came into the lobby for their usual meet-the-audience kaffeeklatch, I noticed Len Bailes trying to interest them in doing a production of "Utopia, Ltd.", without much noticible success. A pity; I'd like to see what they could do with it, because they're so far better than our L.A. Savoy-Artes. Their next G&S production will apparently be "Pirates of Penzance", which I haven't seen yet; I hope there'll be another Theatre Party arranged for it.
And I'm not going to end this trip report without mentioning the usual superb hospitality at the Rolfes'. I don't know how many fans there were sleeping all over the floors and couches Saturday morning and night, but there must've been over a dozen at least; we were all made as comfortable as could be, and served delicious meals all day Saturday (well, it seemed like all day). Many thanks, Joe & Felice.
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And here we are, beginning Apa L's second year of existence. Apa L has been going for an entire year now, starting off slowly, reaching a quantity peak about halfway through its existence, and finally settling down to its present level. Some members feel that our quality has also slackened off in the last few months, and there's talk of various people dropping out after this Anniversary issue. Others have suggested that Apa L be completely disbanded for six months to give everybody a breather, and then recreated after everyone's in the mood to turn out *Sparking Material* once again. Still another idea is to encourage all those who feel that Apa L is getting into a rut (particularly with regard to their own fanzines) to drop out, and replace them with fresh out-of-town blood. (Such as Tom Dupree of Jackson, Mississippi, who's been trying to get into Apa L for a couple of months now, and who I keep turning down on the grounds that there's no room for more outsiders.) or cut back the number of contributors (and copies) to the original 20, consolidating to a Hard Core of our most valuable members. Well, I don't feel any crying need for any of these steps; I feel we're doing fine as it is, and I don't anticipate any great decline now that our first year is past. Stick around, gang; you've got enjoyment coming yet.
-- BEING COMMENTS ON LAST WEEK'S DISTRIBUTION
Bĵo Trimble -- That was one of the Purposes for which Apa L was formed, to keep the LASFS members temporarily or permanently out of the area in touch with the club. So far, the only one it's worked with has been Ellie Turner, while she was in Arizona, although we also tried recruiting Ron Ellik, without any response to the sample Dist'ns we sent him. This was back when we were only requiring 35 copies, and we occasionally had one or two begging; even then, we were only trying to recruit out-of-town LASFSians who would be active contributors (like Roy Tackett, hopefully; or Ed Meskys, through whom we did get Felice Rolfe). Now, we've got a full membership at 40 copies (and five pretty complete Incompletes); if we're going to have more copies for non-contributing out-of-towners, or even more contributing out-of-towners than we've got now, we're going to have to up the page count again -- probably to 50, to give us a comfortable number and be sure we'll have enough for everybody. And here we're back to the old problem of striking a happy medium between having enough copies for all, and requiring so many that some members decide that publishing for Apa L is now Work instead of Fun, and drop out; I don't want to drive anybody out. However, I do note that since Bruce agreed to publish more than 30 copies, we haven't been having much of this raise-the-copy-count-and-I-drop-out talk. How do all you people feel about it now?
King Julian, by Tom Gatch, Jr., Vantage Press, Inc., 1954, 187 p., $2.75
This obscure little novel is one of those political polemics disguised as a fantasy, the most notorious of which is the infamous Zotz! King Julian is not available by the box and carload at your local used book shop, though; the only other copy of it I've ever seen was at Mr. Ne Plus Ultra's Booke Shoppe in Hollywood, for which he was asking his usual ne plus ultra price. It caught my eye at the time, so when I saw a copy in Fred Whitledge's collection last week, I made some remark to the effect of, "Hey, there's that weird thing again!" Fred loaned it to me, for which I thank him very much, because it's an interesting book. Vantage Press is one of the better known of the vanity houses, and this looks like one of their typical products, but it's not half-bad reading.
The setting is a contemporary (1954) America, in an alternate universe in which George Washington had accepted the crown that Hamilton and his cohorts had always been thrusting upon him. As the book opens, dynamic and vigorous King Mark II has just died as the result of a riding accident, leaving the crown to his 24-year-old son, Prince Julian. Julian, a quiet, sensitive young man, who had been packed off at various military schools by his forceful father for most of his life, is suddenly thrust into a position of responsibility for which he is almost completely unprepared, knowing only that he is finally free of the militaristic life he has always hated. Determined to create a life for himself, rather than submitting to being buried under court custom, and rejecting the sabre-rattling policies of his father and the American government, he pits himself against the powerful American Premier and all established Washington bureaucracy in attempting to swing domestic and foreign policy away from the road to ruin down which it is clearly leading.
As the hero of the novel, young King Julian II is obviously the spokesman for the political views of the author. Despite its monarchical setting, the U.S.A. of the book is clearly the real U.S.A. of 1954: the Cold War getting tenser by the day, the world racing toward the brink of Armageddon, Communist spy scares in Washington, an increasingly socialized government whose unchecked spending policies can only result in the destruction of the value of the U.S. dollar, etc. It's hardly difficult to draw comparisons between the characters in this book and our own political figures; Premier Christopher Dodge, the nation's highest elected official, who had brought the country out of the depths of the Depression, who had led us so well during World War II, but whose inability to understand the Cold War situation is bringing us close to doom; whose policies are based more on personality and idealism than on reality. (Catch is apparently fascinated by what the American political scene might have been like if Roosevelt hadn't died in 1945; not appreciably different from the reality under Truman from the way he pictures it here.) Senator Desmond, the Red witch hunter whose accusations have all Washington trembling. Field Marshall Lord Leo Ostervall, who turned from a successful military career in World War II to become the president of a large New York radio concern, and who is consistently urged to enter politics. The comparisons are many and the problems are the same. Julian is the young idealist who sees the cliff ahead and cries, "Stop, before it's too late" -- only as king, even only a figurehead king in a constitutional monarchy, he has some power to bring his ideals to life. But he is only a young novice in the arena of national and international politics; are his answers truly The Answers? Even if they are, can he really stop the juggernaut of American policy, gathering momentum for 20 years in the wrong direction?
It'll be a dense sf fan who isn't comparing King Julian with Valentine Michael Smith before the book is half over; because like Mike, Julian is the Christ-figure, come to redeem the world from its sins. In Julian's case, he is frantically trying to establish a world policy of trust and love, of preserving world peace rather than winning a war. And, as is the rule for all Christ-figures, the reward for his efforts for mankind is death; just as it looks as though his policies based on understanding will be accepted by the bureaucracy, he is assassinated by a palace official he had discharged for deliberately creating trouble to advance his position. And so, as in our own world, we are faced with a martyred leader and his policies -- it's up to us to decide for ourselves now whether we accept them or not.