GRUNCH by A. VINCENT CLARKE

Grunch

A. Vincent Clarke

Foo to Hercules, who had to clean out the Augean stables and similar pre-WPA work, and Foo to Laney and Watkins who undertook a similar task in U.S. fandom. Also to Richard Farnsworth, intrepid interstellar investigator who rescued a bug-eyed monster from a ravening horde of blondes. I ... I have to write a column in a 'zine of which the Bhoy Himself is co-editor! *

I can feel the Willis eyes on unpleasant little stalks, peering over my shoulder

I can hear the Willis mind, squeaking away with great rapidity like a hat-full of eager mice, ready to pounce.

Harris is waiting round the corner. He has a bucket of acid. He got it by boiling carbon copies of his letters.

Am I scared?

Yes.

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This style is extremely useful for filling columns at enormous speed. I borrowed it from Shelby Vick. (CONFUSION). Not only does it cover paper with the speed of a Keasler cartoon, but you could probably make obscene silhouettes with the blank spaces if you were clever enough.

I hope ShelVy doesn't mind me using his style, but I have one of those plastic-chameleon (?) minds. It absorbs whatever matter it was last reading and gets impressed into similar shape, like Campbell's red-eyed un-nameable in 'Who Goes There'. Of course, when reading s-f I'm rarely affected, as there are only half-a-dozen authors who can be said to have enough of an individual style to impress one with, and has everybody noticed how 'Charles Harness' has dropped out since Van Vogt started to draw a steady salary in Dianetics?

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The book version of 'Who Goes There', with the additional shorts, was recently reprinted in London as a pocket-book, with 'Solution T-25', 'Vanguard To Neptune', and 'Typewriter In The Sky'/ 'Fear'. They've retitled WGT as 'The Thing', cashing in on the present record-breaking run of the picture on its first London showing. I wouldn't have thot RKO would be pleased at the comparison between their botched up job and Campbell's minor masterpiece, but I suppose it's the same old publicity racket ... anything goes.

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(I'm a little worried about this plastic-chameleon business. I've been seeing a a lot of Bob Shaw, Ireland's Gift to English Fandom, recently. Well, you know that occasionally you come across a passage of a book that you don't understand at first reading, and on going back over it hear a little voice in your mind repeating the words? I did it the other day, and the little voice had an Irish accent.)

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It's my belief that HYPHEN is in a rut. Nothing but funny stuff, without a thought for the more serious things in life, like ... well, compassion, for instance.

Further on in the 'zine, (if you get any further with it), you'll find an article on James White (and if ever there was a misnomer, that's it.) It mentions the attempted drowning of what I have recently heard called our "puir wee pussie", Trixie. (See accompanying art-work). Aside from an occasional difference of opinion as to whose chair was whose, he used to like me. (Why he was called Trixie is a rather long story involving short-sidedness, which I won't go into here). If he caught a mouse he'd always offer me half.

PTO

Since James came, he's been a changed cat. (see pict.) He hides in corners and barks at me. He's got hydrophobia, claustrophobia and agoraphobia (I admit that the last two are difficult to have together, but now Trixie doesn't like being anywhere.)
I'm thinking of starting a Save Our Trixie Society .. it'll be a nice racket if Trixie's got guts enough to string along. The very least that White can do is to send the dough that he's getting from his NEW WORLDS story. Supports the SOTS !

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My conscience just gave me a sharp nudge ... after all, it's possible that you're not interested in Trixie; I'm just feline my way around, and I mustn't be parochial. That's a nice word going the rounds of British actifandom, meaning any humour not likely to be understood by 40% or more of the readers. F'rinstance, a remark by a certain HYPHEN editor, C--- H---, that a certain US faned must have 6 'I' keys on her typer. And the last poctsarcd from Willis before he sailed ... "I'm sailing at 3 pm today, and I feel a bit like Wolfe setting out to scale the Heights of Abraham. In fact I may very well stay behind and write Gray's Elegy. But then I remember with pride the words of General Lafayette: "J'avais une grunche, mais le plant d'oeuf la-bas!" ' British readers, as yet unacquainted with the Bible of Avoidism, Price's 'In One Head and Out the Other' (Simon & Schuster '51) may surmise at each other with wild stares, until they learn about Clayton Slope ..."He ! had developed the limp, repulsive handshake to a point of perfection seldom reached by any of us today. He had a clever trick of saying any conceivable sentence so that it sounded like "I had one grunch but the eggplant over there." And for years he had avoided changing his socks (he just put Sen-Sen in his shoes.)"

The next GRUNCH, the educational column, will feature 'Tucker .. Man or Zombie?'

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"You see that man with one head over there?"

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S-f publishers have lemming blood. Lemmings amongst my readers may dispute this, but how else do they explain the mass hysteria for changing 'zine cover-designs? During the last year every major publication in the field has altered its style, the latest being the Z'ine of Fantasy & SF with the October issue. In my by-no-means humble opinion, the MoF&SF is the best for consistently excellent, well-written material, but to wash out a fifth of a Bonestell super-scene with a distracting new title-logo' and contents-blurb box for no apparent reason .......!

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If these cover changes are a desperate attempt to catch the fleeting public eye, the passing representative of what my editor (hah!) Mr. Harris has referred to as 'the inchoate masses who can't read without moving their lips', I'm all ready with suggestions for some really eye-catching covers. Most of them involve a large banner heading, UNEXPURGATED, stretching across the top of the 'zine, the title in very small print, and a drawing combining as much sex and sadism as the police will allow ... anything as long as there's plenty of flesh and blood. The fans won't like it, but who cares about the fans? We've got to sell the 'zine to the public, and as long as the stories are half-way good, they'll do. No reason why the cover should have any connection with the contents.

Of course, after buying the thing once the man-in-the-street will probably avoid doing it again ... better ask Don Wollheim and the Avon people about that ... but you can't have everything, and there's plenty of mugs around.

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"Miss Preedie ... take an advertisement ... EXPERT WANTED ... Expert wanted to explain flying saucer phenomena as mass-hallucination, spots in the eye, Ball-lightning, loose weather balloons, Venus, jet-smoke, meteors, targets, secret weapons, publicity hunting, blimps, aircraft flares, boyish tricks and reflections of headlights. Apply, etc. etc. Get that down and send it to the principal advertisement columns. That's all, Miss Preedie, thank you ... Miss Preedie! MISS PREEDIE! How many times have I got to tell you to walk out of here, by the door?"

A. VIN¢ CLARKE.

* I don't HAVE to, but the egoboo is nice.


Data entered by Judy Bemis

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