... es no. 2137
Written by Fred Patten, and intended for Apa L, 2137th Distribution, LASFS Meeting No. 3585, April 27, 2006.
Golden State Colonial Convalescent Hospital, 10830 Oxnard Street, North Hollywood, California 91606-5098.
Telephone: hospital(818) 763-8247; personal (818) 506-3159 * eMail:firstname.lastname@example.org
|L.A.con IV in 2006!||Nippon 2007 in 2007!||Salamander Press #2620|
Early last Tuesday morning, Rob Powell woke me up delivering my old bookcase from Bob Miller to my hospital room. It is over twice the size of the one that Lee Gold recently bought me, with four shelves. This should take care of all my bookcase needs for months to come.
Michael Burlake brought me to the LASFS meeting on Thursday. Kay Shapero made an announcement to ask for help in cutting my fingernails since she is not an experienced manicurist, but she did not seem to get any response. Tom Safer provided the program; cartoons with a Hollywood musical theme (I thought the theme of World War II cartoons announced for next month would have been more appropriate, since April 20 was Hitler's birthday). We only had time to see the first two, Betty Boop in "Kitty from Kansas City" (with Rudy Vallée) and "Minnie the Moocher" (with Cab Calloway), before I had to return to the hospital. Doubtlessly coincidentally, the next day on the Cartoon Brew website Amid Amidi named the 1932 "Minnie the Moocher" as "beautifully animated and effortlessly entertaining"; a prime example of "why the 1930s-1950s are referred to as the Golden Age of animation". If I recall correctly, "Minnie the Moocher" gave me screaming nightmares when I first saw it when I was very young (or maybe it was a similar early-'30s Fleischer cartoon with dancing skeletons and leering monsters flying directly at the viewer).
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Tim Susman, my editor at Sofawolf Press, says there is no news yet on the iBooks bankruptcy. There was a meeting of creditors and other interested parties on April 4, "but it's just delaying proceedings until they can sort through all the contracts."
Sofawolf is planning its next books, which will include Black Dogs by Ursula Vernon, a sword & sorcery quest novel that is only marginally Furry (the protagonist is Lyra, a human warrior maid roughly similar to Elizabeth Moon's Paksennarion), and Susman's own Common and Precious, the third book and first novel (the previous two are short story collections) in his dystopian New Tibet series, set on a bleak Furry frontier planet - imagine Detroit at the latitude of Fairbanks, Alaska. (See the descriptions of Breaking the Ice and Shadows in Snow on the Sofawolf Press website for the first two books in the series.) These will be Sofawolf's first books to have advance galleys. "For BD and C&P, we are looking to get some galley copies out for review, so if you have any thoughts on good forums or people to send them to, they'd be appreciated."
I can confidently predict that these will be better than Xanthan Gumm. Would anyone be interested in reading and commenting on either of these, in Apa L or at the LASFS or elsewhere like the reading of s-f scheduled for Wednesday, May 24? Does Fictionados ever discuss any stories other than by its own members? I do not want to ask Susman to send out galleys to anyone who wants a free book but will just ignore them when it comes to giving any feedback or discussing them in s-f forums - or will give only a meaningless comment like, "this isn't much like The Lord of the Rings or Lucifer's Hammer". You do not have to promise to like them; serious negative feedback is also helpful.
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-- Comments on Last Week's Distribution:
Vanamonde #674 - (Hertz) Your comment about having just seen last year's 5¢ coin commemorating the bicentennial of Lewis & Clark's reaching the Pacific Ocean has made me realize that I have hardly seen any coins at all since my stroke. I am in a hospital where all the patients' needs are cared for by the nurses. My Social Security and Hughes Aircraft Company pension go automatically directly to the hospital to help pay for my care, and Medicare covers the balance. (If this is inaccurate, Lee Gold can correct me.) I am entitled to $35 a month for personal spending, but I let Lee handle that to pay for my telephone & Earthlink services, the bookcase she recently bought me, and similar expenses; so for over a year now I have hardly seen actual currency or coins. (A lot of the other patients at the hospital spend their $35 on cigarettes, beer or candy at the supermarket across the street, sending the nurses if they cannot cross the street themselves.) Anyhow, I have not seen the commemorative 5¢ pieces, but I cannot say whether this is because they are scarce or just because I am not seeing any coins. I see from a press release on the Internet that the United States Mint began releasing these 5¢ coins on August 5, 2005, so if you have just now seen your first of them after eight months, I guess they must be fairly scarce. The picture of it on the Internet is quite attractive. ## Schimmelpennick sounds more like a German than a Dutch name. ## There are a lot of Filipino nurses at my hospital. A couple have spoken favorably of durian ice cream. ## Thanks for going to the Paris bookshop near the LASFS and checking out how its name is actually spelled in Cyrillic - or broken Cyrillic. Did you find anything there to your tastes?
Karl Lembke's International Union of Libertarian Aeroplane Water Pump and Flat Tyre Inspectors - (Cantor) That's Danny Kaye, not Kay. "Why Computers Sometimes Crash" seems to be all over the Internet, and sometimes is seriously attributed to Dr. Seuss rather than just "anonymous; in the style of", although since Seuss died in 1991 and most of these Internet postings of the poem are within the last couple of years, it seems highly implausible that he is the actual author. This was published anonymously (or pseudonymously) in the Actrix Newsletter, November 2000, as "Dr. Seuss Explains Why Computers Crash"; it also appears as a "classic reprint" as "If Dr. Seuss Wrote on Computers" on another website that claims to have been "last updated August 13, 1997". Does anyone have an earlier or a more definite source? A couple of websites list Gene Zeigler or Murt Sullivan as the actual author, but without any evidence or dates to prove their authorship.
De Jueves #1475 - (Moffatt) Does vanilla help bone bruises? Get well soon. ## Triceratops(es) had beaks, and dinosaurs were reptiles. Snapping turtles have beaks, don't they? ## My roommate and I are the only patients in Room 15 at the Golden State Convalescent Hospital. There are several other male-only rooms here, but they are all filled, and they are smaller than Room 15 except for some that have four patients so each patient has less individual space. I am happy at how things have worked out for me. My roommate has not objected to my second, larger bookcase. ## The Inherit the Earth weekly strip has only eleven strips beyond those printed in last week's ˇRR! before we will be caught up to the present. Incidentally, you cannot tell because the mimeographed printing of ˇRR! is too muddy, but behind the tree at the far right in the last panel of the strips in last week's issue there is a Sinister Figure watching Rif and Sandy. Inherit the Earth looks much better in color (even if it is just shades of sepia) on the Internet.
Godzillla Verses #84 - (DeChancie) Since I do not know the details of why the modern (or 1950s) lawsuit over the supposed defamation of Governor William Claiborne in 1815 was thrown out, the principle that you give seems as reasonable as any. ## As a bibliographer who is trying to maintain a complete bibliography of Furry fiction, I share your horror at the recent explosion of really dreadful self-published/print-on-demand books, most of which go unpublicized and unknown even in Furry fandom. It was not nearly as bad before print-on-demand technology because most wanna-be authors could not afford the expense of vanity publishing. But now that p-o-d publishers offer to print anyone's books for free (because they can count on selling enough copies to the author alone to make their profit, even if nobody else ever buys any), there are hundreds if not thousands of unknown books that probably exist in print runs of fifty copies or less. I wonder how many copies of Xanthan Gumm exist?
Toodequirtle #8 - (Castora) I used to read New Scientist regularly when I worked for Hughes Aircraft Company (1969-1990), because HAC subscribed to it and it was readily available in the company library. I have not had handy access to it since then. Its articles and columns were full of the British subtle humour which you cite. ## "It [The Wizard of Oz] has to have been a labor of love by all concerned." Not according to most of the "making of" reports, and there have been a lot of them. W. C. Fields turned down the role of the Wizard because MGM would not pay the salary he demanded. Frank Morgan, who got the role, was reportedly not sober a single day of the filming. Bert Lahr made contractual demands which MGM did meet. Margaret Hamilton considered the stunts she was required to do so dangerous that she would have quit if she hadn't felt that she would have been blackballed in the movie industry. ## I could not pronounce Boudewijn or even its French equivalent, Baudouin, correctly during all the years that he was king of Belgium (1951-1993); I just said the English equivalent, Baldwin. ## "When Reilly & Lee bought out the publisher of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, they per$uaded Baum to write a sequel, The Land of Oz ..." I think you are wrong there. The George M. Hill Company, the original publisher of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, went bankrupt. Subsequent editions of The Wizard of Oz were published by Bobbs-Merrill until 1956, when the copyright expired and Reilly & Lee, the publisher of all the other Oz books, was finally able to add that to its collection. Also, the publisher was Reilly & Britton while publishing the first editions of Baum's Oz sequels; it did not become Reillly & Lee until later. I cannot find any Internet information detailed enough to say just what happened, but it looks like Baum went to Reilly & Britton on his own after the George Hill bankruptcy, and Bobbs-Merrill acquired either all the George Hill book rights or The Wizard of Oz alone.
I Overlook Erdos & Observe Feynman - (Gold) The LASFS did not show any version of Disney's Roving Mars. The club showed only Disney's trailer made for regular theaters for it. ## I need to count on the kindness of friends to get my fingernails on both hands trimmed. The nails on my right hand have not stopped growing just because that hand is paralyzed.
Follow-up to my comment to John DeChancie about vanity/print-on-demand books: I do not know whether the average quality of Furry p-o-d books is higher than the average quality of p-o-d books in general, but I have read several that I consider as good as standard commercial fiction. It may be that adult fiction featuring talking animals is a harder sell to most mainstream publishers, despite its quality or lack of same, so most Furry authors are forced to go to p-o-d publishers. Here is a book review that I wrote five years ago (published in Yarf! #65), when there were far fewer p-o-d publishers. Today every new p-o-d book that I see seems to be from a brand new publisher. Five years ago, p-o-d publishers seemed to charge for anything beyond the basic printing, such as proofreading and cover art. I do not know if this is still common, but all p-o-d books today, even Xanthan Gumm, seem to feature professional-style cover art. In any case, I enjoyed reading Pongo and Jeeves five or six years ago, and I remember thinking that it deserved better than only a p-o-d edition. I just checked Amazon.com, and Pongo and Jeeves is still on sale there.
Pongo and Jeeves, by R. N. Varhaug. Philadelphia, Xlibris Corporation, May 2000, 168 pages, (trade paperback) $20.99 ($17.84), ISBN: 0-7388-2110-1 / (eBook) $8.00, ISBN: 0-7388-7102-8.
"The DNA of chimpanzees and humans are 98.5% identical. A mutation in only a few genes can give a chimpanzee a human-sized brain. Such a mutation would have little effect in the wild but if chance puts two such chimpanzees in a primate research center where they learn sign language and see educational TV. . . < br>
What would you do if you were a chimpanzee with a human brain? A really smart human brain? Pongo and Jeeves accepted that chance had played a joke on them and they laughed right along with it. Not everybody joined in. The pompous and similar degraded specimens found that their encounters with the chimpanzees usually proved more entertaining to bystanders than to themselves.. < br>
Making the best of things, Pongo and Jeeves led full lives that included visiting Roswell as aliens, producing syndicated columns and even writing speeches for a presidential candidate. Along the way, they were able to thwart bad guys and generally do good. All told, lives well spent and justly rewarded.
Join Pongo and Jeeves. You'll enjoy their company." (cover blurb)
Pongo and Jeeves are two exceptionally intelligent experimental-lab chimpanzees at a Primate Research Center in Southern California who secretly learn to talk by watching the scientists around them. They learn about modern society by watching the lab's TV in the evening when all the humans are gone. They become especially fond of British comedies, and adopt the names of Pongo and Jeeves for themselves.
Before I was ten pages into this comedy, I was reminded of the 1940s/'50s Terrytoons cartoon stars Heckle and Jeckle. Pongo and Jeeves is essentially a Heckle and Jeckle novel with two chimpanzees instead of magpies. The main differences are that they live in a realistic human world instead of a cartoon funny-animal one; they are two British-accented Jeckles instead of one British twit and a Brooklyn heckler; and they only play pranks on bullies, thieves, the haughty, and other deserving targets instead of everyone unlucky enough to cross their paths.
All Furry novels require the reader to accept some realistic implausibilities, and Varhaug does a better job than do many Furry writers in knowing where to anthropomorphize and where not to. Pongo and Jeeves cannot speak, because chimpanzees do not have human larynxes no matter how intelligent they may be. Instead they communicate at first by sign language. Later they get a pair of those electronic voice boxes made for people who lose their vocal chords. This enables them to operate over the telephone and plan hoaxes involving Mysterious Voices. Here they are discussing a practical joke involving chimp poop they have just played on the Research Center's pompous Dr. Randolph Sidonberry:
"'I must say, Jeeves, that the results of our little jest greatly exceeded my most sanguine expectations.'
'Indeed they did, my boy. You don't think it might have been a trifle juvenile, do you?'
'Well, perhaps just a trifle,' signed Pongo, 'but the effect was most gratifying.'
'Yes, indeed. Most gratifying, but shouldn't we stop picking on our Randolph?'
'Oh, I don't know. You have a kind heart, Jeeves, and it does you credit. But our Randolph brings it on himself. He makes himself such a large and inviting balloon that I can't help reaching for a pin. When it comes to resisting temptation,' Pongo's voice took on a melancholy tone, 'I'm not strong, you know.'
'Yes, I've noticed,' answered Jeeves, 'We couldn't be expected to be strong. After all, as our Randolph so often says, we're only animals.'" (pgs. 18-19)
'Our Randolph' stops being so funny when he notices that the two chimps show wildly varying indications of intelligence (they occasionally overdo playing stupid) and wants to have them killed and their brains autopsied. Pongo and Jeeves take the risk of revealing their intelligence to a couple of the lab's employees who are more friendly and sympathetic to animal rights, Patricia and Thor. The latter agree to smuggle the chimps out and allow them to hide in their apartment. Although Pongo and Jeeves try to behave themselves, two chimpanzees shut in a small urban apartment all day will quickly get cabin fever and have to do something to relieve the boredom. They surreptitiously study the apartment building's other tenants, who soon find themselves the recipients of mysterious curses or blessings depending upon whether they have been naughty or nice.
Soon Pat and Thor get married and move to a ranch inherited from Thor's parents. The wide open spaces, and the drive across America to get there, give the two chimps opportunities for many new adventures: impersonating a couple of Roswell-type aliens with their obviously non-human bodies, being captured and escaping from a roadside zoo, having to care for a young baby whose grandmother is felled by a stroke, and more. At the ranch, they start several successful businesses by Internet, including writing doctoral theses and political speeches. They also undertake some public-service projects for their own amusement such as exposing phony charities.
Some of the episodes do not really require non-human characters, but there are plenty where Pongo and Jeeves take full advantage of their animal natures and abilities. Varhaug throws in many little touches of plausibility; for example, when Thor invites the chimps to join him and Pat in their cross-country drive, he gets a couple of top-quality human masks from a friend in the movie FX business that will enable the chimps to pass as humans from a distance while riding in a car. A couple of the setups do stretch plausibility a bit, but since this is a fantasy-comedy it feels boorish to nitpick it too far. Varhaug tells a good, low-key story (Pongo and Jeeves actually abort a couple of their pranks when they realize that things are getting out of hand and someone could get hurt), and he brings it to a graceful conclusion when it has rambled on for long enough.
Varhaug obviously paid Xlibris its minimum fee to have Pongo and Jeeves published. The cover is bare typesetting on a white background with narrow brown & ochre strips at the top and bottom; and there are many sentences that begin with lower-case letters, indicating a lack of proofreading.