Open 24 hours
   Where seeing is believing             All speeds 1.2 to 28.8 K

      [This textfile is constructed from the text of the September 1993 paper
      edition.  Entire contents copyright (c) 1994 by Greg Hills.  All rights
      reserved.  This textfile may be freely distributed provided it is not
      altered or amended in any way and that no charge is levied for such
      distribution.]


VAPOURWARE

Beta Version, Number 2
September 1993

Edited and published by Greg Hills.
Postal address: PO Box 428, Richmond 3121, Australia.
Electronic addresses: Fidonet 3:634/392; Godnet 143:1613/.

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Haeri mai

`Vapourware' is computer jargon for software which is much talked about and
may even be circulated in test (`beta') form but which never seems to appear
in a finished version.  In light of my recent publishing track record, I find
it an appropriate title for a fanzine.

There is one problem with the title.  The problem is that once `vapourware'
actually appears it is no longer vapourware but ordinary software.  By
extension, the very act of publishing an issue of Vapourware would make the
title a misnomer.  Paradox!

The solution I have applied is as follows:  no edition of Vapourware will ever
appear in `finished' form -- all you will ever see are `beta' versions.

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What's in it?

I had an eerie experience towards the end of the drawn-out gestation of this
issue.  I arrived home from work and saw the `message waiting' light blinking
on the answerphone.  I hit the button to listen to the messages while
stripping off my work clothes.  Several messages went by before a sudden chill
went down my spine as a new message started.

*It was Roger Weddall.*

`-- Um ... Geoff and I will be there ... um ... uh ... but anyway, look, if
I see you there I'll see you there; if I don't I'll make sure I drop the stuff
in to you on Monday, OK? ... So either ... either I'll, I'll see you with the
stuff at Bruce & Elaine's ... or I'll see you on Monday.  Um ... probably at
your place or I'll leave the stuff at your place or something like that.
We'll probably talk before then.  OK?  So ... now let me think ... I'm
ringing, it's about, oh yes, dead on midday on Saturday ... OK?  So, um ...
see you later.  I'm not going to be -- I don't think you'll be --'

Once my short hairs (and a few longer ones) lowered again I realised that the
message was not a new one.  I guess the answerphone had simply suffered a mild
stroke and missed the cue to stop the playback.

The point is that the message, like a fly in amber and unlike the carefully
groomed pickings of mass media replays, was as immediate and real as it had
been when Roger casually left it there -- replete with the ums and ers of
everyday vernacular.

It set me to thinking about the fannish phenomenon of timebinding, whereby a
fanzine rucked up from the bottom of a box after a lapse of decades may emerge
as fresh and interesting (or otherwise) as it had been when it was placed
there.  I'd never really thought of my answerphone as being a timebinder.
It's obvious once stated, of course; it falls into the `I knew that!'
category.

The event was made more poignant by the nature of my current work, telephone
support to users of a computer software package.  Practically all I know about
these people is their voice as we grapple with their problem.  They can see
but usually can't understand the error messages on their computer screens; I
can understand but can't see those messages.  To resolve the problem we must
achieve a symbiosis, whereby they pass to me every salient point with as few
irrelevant details as possible, while I pass back crisp questions and
instructions that can be reliably followed by naive fingers.  When one or
other end of the link fails, the results vary from hilarious to disastrous.
Once a rapport is established, the sensation is often sublime -- two minds
working in harmony, each supplying the other's needs and together achieving
results that would otherwise be impossible.  It almost makes up for the stress
of the job.  (I'm not complaining -- getting paid for it balances the
deficit.)

Roger Weddall, as noted elsewhere here, was noted for his brief telephone
conversations -- and briefer phone messages; the fragment above is the tail
end of a message originally about five minutes long; the earlier portions were
overwritten by subsequent callers.  It was odd hearing his voice again, and
I wonder -- in how many tapes in how many fannish and other households around
the world does Roger's voice live on?  How will I feel if I should dig up this
tape thirty years on and again hear this voice from beyond the grave telling
me he'll be dropping in for a visit by and by?  Will I still understand the
background?  Will I even know who is speaking?

Roger's voice on the tape was tired -- partially physical, for he yawned at
least once, but also tired in tone.  Cues in the message appear to date it at
midday on Saturday 2nd May 1992.  Just seven months one day and 4 hours later
he was dead, cut down by cancer at an age where he should have been barely
starting in on the main projects of his life.

But is he dead?  Dead or merely lost in an endless dream, locked up in
countless bits of paper and plastic, each waiting no more than the cue of an
idle finger to spring forth again, undimmed and ageless.

And what of my own words, spoken and written, similarly scattered far afield?
My thoughts, sent flying forth in hope that somewhere sometime they will meet
the thoughts of some other person?  Little fragments of myself, once dispersed
never to be collected again in one place.

In Frank Herbert's later Dune books there is the concept that every sandworm
that developed from the sandtrout that once formed the skin of Leto Atreides,
God Emperor of Dune, nourishes a tiny kernel of Leto's being, lost in an
endless dream.  *He* knew.  Herbert knew.  Hidden in his metaphor there is
proof that I am not the only person to feel this way about the millions of
words scattered during my mad career from childhood to decrepitude.

Seeyuz, my friend.  Dream well -- and I will dream with you.

-- Greg Hills, 25aug93

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Duffergate
(5th January 1992)

**RING-RING ... RING-RING**

`Hello?'

`Hello, Wodger.  Greg here.  You left a message for me to call you?'

(Approximately 59,733.5 words omitted)

`... mmm.  So you see, Greg, the reason I called is that while Mark and I were
talking about possible candidates, your name popped up and, well, hmmm.'

`OK.  I'll do it.  I agree that it's best not to hold the race over for a
year, what with Art's illness and all.  I'll have to hurry to get my
nominations together, though.  Who are your nominators?'

`Umm, well, there's Marc Ortlieb, and  Nick Stathopoulos, and Bruce Gillespie.
Those are the Australians.  In America, Dick & Nikki Lynch --'

`You rat!  I wanted to ask them!'

`-- and Teddy Harvia.'

`Hum.  What if I went for the New Wavers?  Ian Gunn, James Allen, and Glen
Tilley, say.  We could turn this into a real New Wave versus Old Wave thing.'

`Well ...'

`Only joking.  No, I'll take them from round Australia.  Ian for sure, but
then either Jean Weber or Eric Lindsay, and someone like Craig Hilton, say.
In North America, I might ask whatzizname, er, my mind's gone blank.  It's on
the tip of my tongue.  Canadian, in Toronto.'

`Garth Spencer?  Lloyd Penney?'

`Yes, Lloyd Penney.  And Mark Linneman.  And ...'

`Sheryl Birkhead?'

`Sure. But  I'll have to restrict myself to people whose home address I know
so I can phone them so that we can get everything arranged by the deadline.'

`Sounds like a good group to me.'

`Yes.  Hey, I could run campaign briefs in Thyme.  "And now a message from
..."'

`Umm, hopefully not a debate ...'

`Oh no, I'd give you equal space.  My spiel in one column, an empty box headed
"a message from Roger Weddall" in the other.'

`Er ...'

`Just joking!  Well, I'd better go now and get on with it.'

`Well, hmmm.  Okay, but first I'd better quickly check on Marilyn & Lewis' new
address and give it to you for Thyme.'

(17,768 words omitted)

`OK, Roger.  Talk to you later.'

(227,653 words omitted)

`Bye, Roger.'

`Seeyuz.'

**CLICK**

-- Greg Hills

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      [This article first appeared in Mimosa, in 1988 or 1989.  I've always had
      a soft spot in my heart for it.  Honesty compels me to admit that in one
      small respect it deviates from strict veracity.  Every incident in it
      happened, but I finessed the timing of the itchy wallaby and attributed
      to fleas deeds actually committed by flies.]


For the Birds

Heaven may be found twenty-five kilometres north of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The YHA (Youth Hostels Association) hostel of `Bensuta Lodge' at Towlers Bay
on Pittwater is probably my single most preferred spot on the continent of
Australia.  Set high on a tree-clad hillside, in a human enclave in Kuring-gai
Chase National Park, it has the air of being isolated on an island far from
`Civilisation'; but draw a quarter-circle on a map, radius fifty kilometres
and with the outer arc curving from south to west, and three million people
live within the area of that wedge.

I came to Pittwater as a refugee from Sydney.  I had arrived in Australia just
three days before and had found it impossible to organise myself in the bustle
of Sydney.  I had previously spent fourteen months managing a YHA hostel in
New Zealand.  Te Aroha, located on a hillside, backing on forest, and with
perhaps fifteen thousand people within a twenty-five kilometre radius, had
coaxed me out of love with the big city.  Sydney was too much.  Pittwater was
just enough.

I arrived on a Monday, after the weekend rush had returned to Sydney.  Where
twenty people had jostled, I and four others sprawled.  Our conversations were
backed and supported by the sough of wind, the rush of trees, and the cries
of birds.  At intervals there might be a human shout or the distant putter of
an outboard boat, but mostly there was just nature.

Edwin was a Scotsman of middle years, and half-aware that he was growing old.
We got on well enough; but then, since we shared a dormitory, we had to.  He
was full of opinions and willing to share them.  I agreed with few of them.

Susan, Sarah, and Anna -- it is hard to think of the three individually, as
it was rare to find one alone -- were English, from London.  Susan was the
easy-going one, open and disarming but feeling, somehow, artificial.  Sarah
was cynical and often sarcastic, but she held the group together and was
always the first to help someone else.  Anna was dark where the others were
blonde, legacy of her half-Indian parents, and her reserve was fierce, but she
was naturally friendly and was certainly the most intelligent of the three.

We were all seasoned hostellers, well versed in the traditions of that curious
fandom-like subculture.  Yes, *fandom*-like.  Hostellers have clubs, with
clubzines.  There is an etiquette and a language unique to the hostels.  There
are no fanzines, travellers not being given to publishing, but the void is
filled by the hostel visitor's books.  (These are not the limp `name, address,
three-word comment' that you may have visualised.  The hostel visitor's book
is a repository of the thoughts, deeds, and findings of generations of
hostellers.  Some entries are, indeed, a mere scrawled line, but others can
take up pages of tiny writing.)  The whole thing is somewhat reminiscent of
a convention., spread out temporally and spatially, with programming events
and room parties running simultaneously at many different places.

I spent four nights at Pittwater, and came away with memories that seem more
like four *months*.  The problem I face in this article is not finding
something to talk about, but deciding what *not* to talk about.  If I started
to cover everything, I could fill this fanzine from end to end and have
material left over for the next issue.  So, narrow; narrow ... ah, there's an
image: black wings beating along a green backdrop, and a voice: `Bandits at
nine o'clock ...'

###

A wing of magpies came in on a strafing run.  `Here they come again,' said
Anna.  The currawong, dropping a raucous cry, took to its tree.  The
lorikeets, being more interested in pecking indiscriminately at seed and each
other, paid no attention; they knew the magpies would not dare bother them.

Edwin, Anna, and I were relaxed in a row on the wooden bench, backs against
the table and feet propped against the veranda railing.  I had just been
watching a curl of smoke rise above the hillside across the bay.  I had also
been thinking what a contrast there was between the three sets of legs I could
see: the knobbly, the chubby, and the shapely.

`Poor little bugger,' said Edwin of the currawong.

We watched it jitter from branch to branch of its sanctuary, white-rimmed mad
eye watching  the  magpies descend voraciously upon the seed-pile that the
lorikeets had somehow overlooked.

`Throw the poor beast some seed,' said Anna, compassion in her voice.

I tossed a handful of seed in the general direction of the tree.  The
currawong eyed it greedily but remained in the branches.  If it dropped to
pick seeds from the ground, the magpies would chase it back into the tree.
It had learned.

Suddenly magpies and lori-keets alike deserted the piles, scattering away into
the trees.  `Oh, see, it's a kookaburra,' said Anna, and she was right.  It
landed on the railing a couple of yards from us and turned an expectant eye
our way.  Behind the kooka the currawong fluttered from its tree and began
hastily -- and not without many a fearful glance -- picking seed out of the
grass.

###

The currawong is a large black bird, related to the crow, something like a
slim raven.  The only touch of colour about it is the circle of white around
the pupils of its eyes.  The bird is ubiquitous in Australia, and has a
fondness in the cities for squatting atop telephone poles and caw-ing at
intervals.  [1993 note: I have since been told that the city birds are crows,
not currawongs.]  It is a born coward, despite its size, and is often `beat
up on' by magpies, which are smaller but more vicious.

The lorikeets mentioned above are Australia's famous Rainbow Lorikeets, the
Technicolor parrot.  Electric blue head, brilliant green back, scarlet-and-
canary chest, and more blue on the belly.  Clownish ragamuffin antics do not
stop the observer noticing the respect with which they are treated by the
apparently more formidable magpie.  The beak is very strong.

Do I need to explain magpies?  Black-and-white cousins to rooks and crows.

My favourite Australian bird, the kookaburra is the largest member of the
kingfisher family.  The Australian version is often better known as the
`laughing' kookaburra, and I doubt I need to explain why.  The kookaburras at
Pittwater are very tame; they will not climb onto your hand, but they will
feed from your fingers.  Scorning seed, they prefer food containing meat.
Their skill at removing food from between fingers without touching the fingers
is impressive.  You approach, morsel dangling between thumb and forefinger.
The kookaburra watches you until you are within reach then orients on the food
like a gun settling on a target.  A blur, a slight tug, and the morsel has
been transferred to the kookaburra's beak.  It bangs it on the railing (just
to make quite sure it's dead), tosses back its head, and swallows.

###

Pittwater boasts more than just birds.  Wallabies and the occasional wombat
wander across the lawn beside the currawong's tree.  A goanna lives in the
rocks in back of the hostel.  (If only you knew how close I came to titling
this article `Goanna Round Out Back' -- you were saved only because Pittwater,
being on the coastal side of the Blue Mountains, doesn't qualify as being in
the Outback.)  By night, opossums wander down from the trees to seek out food
scraps on the veranda and in the kitchen.  The Australian opossum (no relation
to the North American `possum') is a pest in New Zealand, where it was
introduced many years ago because of its fine pelt.  To drive down a road in
NZ is to pass by and over a succession of very dead pedestrian opossums,
losers in the game of crossing roads.  Many people make a living hunting
opossums in NZ; meanwhile in Australia where they're native they are protected
zealously.  When I moved over here and first learned this, it made for a mild
case of culture shock.

###

Sarah and Susan came out of their dormitory and joined us on the veranda.  A
wallaby came by, cropping the lawn and pausing periodically to scratch its
flanks furiously.  Wallabies look like small kangaroos, and what this inspired
we five watchers to say of AA Milne's mother and baby characters is best left
in the place where it was said.  Sarah had always felt that Kanga and Baby Roo
were somewhat idealised, and had never been convinced by the scene in which
Kanga attempted to bath Piglet.  `True,' I said, `but Kanga *knew* Piglet
wasn't Roo, so it could all have been a big act.'  This was mulled over in
silence before the subject suffered a sea-change.  I can't understand why; it
made perfect sense to *me*.

The wallaby scratched itself out of sight and Edwin followed, muttering about
finding the hostel's boat and going for a paddle round the headland -- did
anyone want to come along?  (No volunteers.)  He vanished down the track and
the Trio blurred into action: though their dormitory and out the other door,
towels in hand.  Down onto the lawn and strip to catch the sun.

As three examples of Young English Womanhood lie topless on the grass,
scratching at the first bite of the fleas left behind by the wallaby, watched
by a nervous currawong from its tree, I'll take this opportunity to show you
the way out of this brief tale.  S'long ...

-- Greg Hills

      [While fossicking through boxes, I found pages containing part of the
      first draft of this article.  The rest is presumably with Secant 6's
      `History' section (from which the article was culled), possibly thrown
      out during one of my several changes of address since 23rd May 1988 (the
      date on the ms).

      [The title is `Goanna Round', and the ms contains several bits (including
      the source of the ultimate title) that didn't make the final cut but
      which are interesting in themselves:]

For the birds, the Manager of the hostel keeps a large jar of special seed.
Knowledge of this jar, and where to find it and how to use it, is passed from
one generation of hostellers to the next.  Everyone I have met who has been
to Pittwater knows about The Jar, and every one of them learnt it from another
hosteller: none from the Manager.  Faced with such a tradition as this, how
could I do otherwise?  Before I left on Friday, I watched the German couple
I had initiated into the Mystery of The Jar on Wednesday telling the odd
collection of new people who arrived late on Thursday how to Feed The Birds.

There is an art to it.  For those with cameras, it is pointless to spread the
seed thinly along the verandah.  A lorikeet here and a lorikeet there is
pretty but not very effective as a tableau.  On the other hand, a single large
seed pile, while amusing because of the free-for-all that invariably develops,
is wasted effort.  Forty or fifty lorikeets make a kaleidoscopic carpet in
which it is almost impossible to pick out individual birds.  The individual
is important, for it is the antics of one bird in relation to another which
identifies the lorikeet personality.

Each morning, whoever first feels so inclined fetches The Jar from wherever
it went to the night before.  Pouring a careful handful from it for each pile,
they establish from three to six piles of seed at well separated places along
the verandah.  Then they go and fetch their own breakfast, to eat while
watching the melee develop ...

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      [On 1 June 1988 four intrepid fans crammed into Peter Burns' car to
      drive to Sydney for the Natcon, Conviction.  I toyed with the idea of
      doing a trip report, but the following fragments were all I ever wrote.
      The `Roger' featured is, of course, Roger Weddall.}


Prologue


Prologue (1) -- The Night Before:

Cheddar Rd, 9:5 pm.  greg and peter talking on phone.

GREG:      Ah, Peter.  What time were you thinking of going to Sydney tomorrow?

PETER:     Oh, well, there isn't much sense in arriving in Sydney tomorrow
	   *night* so we might as well leave early.  I'll probably go past your
	   door about six am.

GREG:      (dismayed):  At ... six.

PETER:     Yes, that's right.

GREG:      Then I suppose I had better start packing.


Prologue (2) -- The Ungodly hour:

Cheddar Rd, 5: am.  greg in bed.

ALARM:     BeeBeeBeeBeeBeeBeeBeeBeeBee --

GREG:      Bloody Hell, he must be joking.  I don't even get up for work at
	   this hour.  Well, I'm in no fit condition to get up.  I'll just ring
	   Peter and --

GREG:      No, I can't ring Peter.  What if *he* isn't up?  It would be cruel
	   to wake him.

GREG:      On the other hand ... (Stumbles up and into shower.)

GREG:      (showered):  Coffee!

GREG:      (finally awake):  Five twenty-five.  He must be up by now, or even
	   on his way to Mark Linneman's place.  (FX:  Zweet, tickaticka.
	   Zweet, tickaticka ...)

ROGER:     (from Peter's place):  Hello.

GREG:      Hello, Roger.

ROGER:     What are *you* doing ringing this early?

GREG:      Well, Peter was going to ring me from Mark's place, just to make
	   sure I was awake.  But I need to go down to the money machine and
	   that'll take me about twenty minutes or so, and I didn't want Peter
	   ringing me while I was gone and thinking that I was too sleepy to
	   answer the phone, so ...

ROGER:     Well, Peter's just got up.  He's in the shower.  That is, I *hope*
	   he's in the shower.

GREG:      (thinks:  Bloody typical.  *People* ...):  Okay, fine; see you then.

GREG:      (standing half-way to door):  Hold it ... I have $485 in that
	   account.  I need $35 next week to pay the rent, and another hundred
	   or so to play with, and then I want some margin.  How much have I
	   got to play with in other accounts if I leave that money where it
	   is?  (Calculates mentally.)  Hmm, should be plenty for four
	   dissipated days in Sydney.  I already have more than a hundred cash
	   on me ...

GREG:      (goes to typewriter, sipping cooling coffee):  Ha, yes, I'll get a
	   head-start on the trip report.  Probably be the only comprehensible
	   piece of writing I'll be able to make about the con!  (Thinks:  I
	   should have gone to sleep Wednesday, or caught up yesterday.)


Prologue (3) -- The Long Watch:

Cheddar Rd, after 6 am.  greg at typer.

GREG:      There, that should do for a starter.  Time ... hmmm, six oh-five am.
	   Where *are* they?  Should I make another cuppa coffee?  Have I
	   forgotten anything?

GREG:      6:34 am.  Ah, at last.  (Grabs luggage -- one black overnight bag
	   and grotty little green cloth anything bag ((feels virtuous about
	   keeping to a minimum, even if decision trees kept him up till
	   midnight packing)) -- and bolts, having thoughtfully typed this
	   paragraph earlier, leaving just the time blank ...)


Epilogue:

You walk through the open door.  You see a typewriter.

EXAMINE TYPEWRITER

There is nothing extraordinary about the typewriter, but it has a piece of
yellow paper rolled into it.

READ PAPER

It is in the typewriter and difficult to make out.

TAKE PAPER

You take the piece of yellow paper.

READ PAPER
It is the prologue to a tripreport.  You read it and smile.  You roll the
paper back into the typewriter and type:

14TH JUNE 1988, 8:17 AM: THE END.

-- Greg Hills

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Time is the most valuable thing you can spend.

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      [This article was first written in 1988, intended for Lyn McConchie's Dum
      Vivamus, Vivamus!.  I wasn't happy with it; it was an early experiment
      verbalising something which is, for me, innately nonverbal -- something
      which, indeed, often helps my conversation by occupying my hands and the
      nonverbal part of my brain.  I've now rewritten and expanded it.]


Scalp Hunting at Conventions

As Lyn McConchie once wrote, `If you thought this article was going to be
about sex then you are out of luck.'  Or rather, mostly so.  Actually I want
to talk about the fine art of the convention massage, but I want to
concentrate on an unusual part of it: my speciality, the scalp rub.

Back rubs and foot rubs have been a standard feature of convention
room-parties for many years now, and I guess most people reading this have
encountered one or the other at some stage.  Strangely, I seem to be the only
person in the business of handing out scalp rubs.  This is strange because it
is such a relaxing way to get close to someone you like without raising the
spectre of sex.  Although the scalp rub can be used as an accompaniment to
sex, it is in itself non-sexual.  Both participants can be fully clothed and
discreet use of cushions can even prevent body contact, without detracting
much from the shared pleasure.  This is one advantage of the scalp rub over
the back rub (which loses a lot if heavy clothing is in the way) and the foot
rub (which demands removal of footwear and socks and often requires the
subject to wash their feet first).

In the scalp rub as I perform it, the masseuse/seur sits with their back
against a firm vertical surface such as a wall, a chair, or the head of a bed,
and with a soft surface beneath their buttocks (floors get pretty hard after
you've been supporting your own and another person's weight for a while).  A
few cushions within easy reach can be a nice touch, allowing various altered
positions and providing soft things for the recipient to cuddle if (as often
happens) they feel the need.  The massager stretches their legs out along the
floor or bed and the recipient sits between them, back to chest.  Experiment
will find the best relative height.  I find that when my chin can naturally
rest on the crown of their head the placement is optimal.  If either
participant is nervous a couple of cushions can be inserted between the
participants, one resting on the floor and the other atop the first, covering
from groin to chest.  The scalp rub is not then so intimate but the feeling
of security gained by a nervous person can make up for this.  Unless the
recipient is relaxed, or  not very nervous, the scalp rub can be hard work for
the massager.  I find that people who insist on cushions the first time
generally don't bother the second.  Play it by ear.
If possible, clothing should be loosened around the neck to allow entrance of
the massager's hands.  This is not essential but does make the task easier.
Necklaces and earrings should be removed, and you should check whether the
recipient is wearing contact lenses as this will influence your movements
around their eyes.  Remove any pins or scrunchies from long hair.

Unless otherwise specified, use the sides or balls of your fingers, not the
hard tips.  This is particularly important if your fingernails are long or if
the recipient is delicate compared to the massager.

Start at the shoulders with the normal kneading motion used in massage to
loosen the muscles in neck and shoulders and establish rapport.  Some strength
may be required for this; masseuses may find that male recipients will require
(and can take) most of their strength.  Masseurs, on the other hand, will find
male recipients easier and may need to force themselves to be gentle with
female recipients.  The sex-based statistical spread of strength holds, of
course: some women are stronger than some men, so adjust pressure to suit each
pair of participants.

After a while, extend the range of massage up and down the neck.  If you care
to risk it, follow the muscles down the back and arms as well.  Handle the
neck muscles carefully; they bruise easily, especially in office workers.
Work them between thumb and first three fingers.  Spend some time using small
circular motions around the base of the skull.  This can be very relaxing!
(For the proper movements, refer to almost any book on massage and try out
various combinations on your first victims.)

The signal to move up to the scalp is subtle.  The nearest I can come to
explaining it in words is that the recipient will slump against you very
slightly.  Their arms, which might have been folded or resting in their lap,
will often flop a little loosely.  It's a complex interpretation of body
language, and only hands-on experience can teach it.  After a while you won't
think about it -- when the time comes you will know.

I play it by ear from here, following the messages I'm getting from the
recipient.  A good general policy is to use one hand to steady their head and
move the other hand up from the base of the skull in a scuffling motion.
Finish the stroke at the crown and run your fingers through their hair on the
way down for the next stroke.  Do this three or four times, then change hands
to do the other side.  Short hair causes no problems, but you should take care
not to tangle stray strands of long hair.  Note that a scalp massage will ruin
a hairdo; warn elaborately-coifed recipients about this in advance.  However,
because of the motions used and because no oil is used, most hair can just be
brushed out later and be none the worse for the experience.

Tilt their head forward and move both hands to the base of their skull, just
behind the ears.  Move your hands upwards and back-and-forth, meanwhile moving
your fingers in small circles (right hand clockwise, left counterclockwise).
When you reach the crown, rest the heel of your hands just above the ears and
work your fingers back and forth along the crown, still in small circles but
with most pressure being applied on those parts of the circle where the
fingers are moving down and/or back.  Lift the heels and continue the circles
as you bring your hands down the had, close behind the ears.  Repeat the whole
process two or three times from the base of the skull.

From the base of the skull, work a finger up around the join between the ear
and the skull (I find the middle finger best).  Gently!  When the finger
reaches the top of the ear, pivot your hands outward and pull the finger over
the top of the ear.  (If you attempt to push it over the skin wrinkles up in
front of it and the ear can get in the way, ruining the sensation.)  Work a
fingertip into the fold of the front of the ear flap and follow the fold
around and down until you reach the lobe.  If you are confident of your skill
you can use the middle finger for this and use your thumb and forefinger to
caress the outer edge of the ear.  When you reach the lobe, grasp it gently
and tug it down and back, down and forward, just enough so that the whole flap
of the ear moves.  This feels really good to a tense person, as the muscles
being played with are those that run up towards the temples and the corners
of the eye and to the hinge of the jaw.

Now go back to the base of the skull and start over.  A nice touch, by the
way, for use while following the fold of the ear or just after the lobe-tug
and just before starting over, is to gently press the triangular fleshy bit
that separates the duct of the ear from the cheek.  Place your fingertip on
the point and press in and forward.  Jiggle your finger a trifle.

Scuffle your fingers up the back of the skull again, using both hands, and
bring them up over the crown close together then down to the hairline on the
forehead.  Moving your fingers in small circles, pull your hands apart,
working along the hairline down to the temples.  With a balding recipient, use
an imaginary hairline about six centimetres above the eyebrows.  With a woman
you know or suspect to be over the age of thirty, be especially careful as
some older women fear that over-stretched skin may wrinkle.

   Rub the temples gently, in a circular motion; this may be done either
clockwise or counterclockwise, and you may use the same direction or a
different directions for each hand.  An interesting effect can be obtained by
placing the fleshy part of the heel of your hand over the temple and pressing
gently while moving it to and fro, so that the skin moves with the hand.

With the heel of your hand on the temple, curve your fingers so that they meet
tip-to-tip in a row down the middle of the forehead.  Lift the heels and pull
your fingers apart, following the line of the forehead back to the temples.
Repeat.  A variation is to scissor your fingers as you draw your hand apart,
so that little folds of skin are alternately caught and released as you go.

If the recipient has a headache, there may be a patch -- between the eyes or
high up on the dome of the skull -- that is sore or sensitive.  Kneading this
patch can cause some headaches to fade.  If you brace their skull by cupping
the back with one hand, and place your other hand flat against the top of the
forehead, a firm press upwards and back or a gentle circular motion can also
help a headache.  Other headaches can be helped by paying particular attention
to the shoulders and working the whole area over and between the shoulder
blades in back, and the pectorals and the flat muscles below the collar bones
in front.  In males the massage can very fruitfully extend over the whole of
the chest, but in females should stop short of the swell of the breast unless
-- and I emphasise this -- each partner is fully at ease with the other; in
which case the breasts can be manipulated gently so as to work indirectly on
the muscles that can be worked directly in males.

Place two fingertips -- fore and middle -- into the eye orbit.  Don't press
on the eyeball but start with the middle finger on the tear duct and pull your
fingers from the bridge to the outer corner.  As before, be especially careful
if the recipient is worried about wrinkles.  I generally pull out along the
top edge of the eye then move the heels of my hands so that I can pull back
across the soft skin where the lower eyelid merges with the cheek.  A gentle
press with one finger on the tear duct, one on the eye, and one at the outer
corner of the eye, often goes down well.

Place two fingers of the same hand on the dip in the nose between the eyes.
Keeping them together, pull them down the nose, one each side of the ridge.
Push them back up.  A variation is to use both hand and press two fingertips
together to do the same thing.  This allows you to  continue the return into
a stroke of the eye orbit.

Place two fingers from each hand on the dimple and pull them down the side of
the nose, one on the nose and the other on the cheeks, so that at the end of
their path they are just beside the outer corners of the mouth.  Move them to
the fleshy part of the nose and blob the nose around a bit.  Reactions vary;
almost everyone seems to find the sensation very funny -- and very nice.

Place a finger of each hand in the little hollow that connects the nose with
the centre of the upper lip.  Pull your hands apart, following the curve of
the lip to the corners of the mouth.  Repeat.  For variety, place fingers
about midway along the curve of the fleshy part of the upper lip and palpate
it gently.  Place fingers just below the pout of the lower lip and pull them
apart to the corners,  For variety, push them back.  This often has a salutary
effect on a talkative recipient.

Rub the chin, then hook fingers under the jawline and pull them back to the
neck.  Repeat.  For variation, use the palm of your hand and start from just
over the centreline of the underside of the jaw.

Finish the last stroke back at the base of the skull and work through again
from the ear.  If the recipient is not properly relaxed, go back to work on
the back, shoulders, and neck.

Done properly, this massage can put the recipient to sleep.  Done roughly it
can give them a crick in the neck.  If you are male and have a reasonably deep
voice, talking quietly to female recipients seems for many to enhance the
gestalt, I'm not sure why; possibly it brings up childhood memories of daddy's
lap and bedtime stories, though the effect is often most notable on people who
claim to have had unhappy childhoods.  It is noticeably less effective on male
recipients than female.

This routine is relatively unstructured, in that you can move between
neck-and-shoulders, scalp, and face according to the needs of the moment, and
may do so several times in the course of the massage.  There is no
predetermined `end' point.

I strongly recommend finding a good book on sensual (rather than therapeutic)
massage and using strokes from that to supplement the rest of the routine.
Some adjustment will be required as most such books assume the recipient is
lying down.  The key advantage of the routine described here is that it can
be done anywhere that two people can find space to spoon, ie in almost any
convention room party.  In addition, the intimacy of the position seems to
help break down the barriers.

A key point is that this is intended to be sensual, neither therapeutic nor
sexual.  It can be effective against headaches and tension, and can certainly
be used in sex or seduction, but is primarily intended as a `feelgood'
activity, something friendly that you do for someone you like.  I developed
it as a social tool, not really being at ease in social groups unless my hands
are busy doing something constructive.  If you use it, you'll have your own
reasons.  Just remember that nobody likes being badgered into doing something
they don't really want to do, neither to give massage nor to receive it.  `No'
means `No', and so does `I don't think so'.  On the other hand, no reasonable
person is offended by a courteous suggestion, provided you've established some
sort of acquaintance with them before asking.

-- Greg Hills, 8apr88/1jun93

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-


      [Like `For the Birds', this was written for Mimosa, but unlike it was
      probably never sent.  It was an experiment in recursive writing, a
      deliberately circular article whose end leads back to its beginning.  For
      my own amusement I designed in two alternate break-points, either of
      which could serve as beginning-and-ending.]


Time and the Fanzine Editor

I bought a watch in 1981.  I still own that watch, and it still works.  [1993:
same watch, still works.]

To understand what this statement means to me, you need to know that before
I bought this paragon of watches I owned many watches, stretching back into
the mists of mother's milk and soiled nappies.  Each came to a bad end.  Two
I smashed, one I immersed too long in sea water, and one -- well, I dropped
the innards on the kitchen table one day while changing its batteries.  It was
one of those early digital types with numerals which glowed in ruby LED when
you pressed a button.  After I dropped it the numerals still glowed when the
button was pressed, but the filaments lit more or less at random.  Cuneiform
would have been more legible.

In 1981, after a watchless interval that nearly cost me my job -- the boss was
not impressed by my excuses for lateness arriving at work -- I gave in and
paid NZ$89. for a Casio digital with LCD and lithium battery.  The battery
was the clincher: now I need worry about dropping the innards on the table
every four or five years instead of every six months.

The watch is dignified.  It beeps once on the hour, not the bathetic `*pip-
pip*!' that characterises so many electronic watches.  It has an alarm loud
enough to wake me but not so persistent as to dig me out of bed if I really
don't choose to rise.  It has a stopwatch function, useful to give me some-
thing to think about when engaged in the tedium of collating fanzines.  I can
`race against the clock'.  It also gives me a choice of 12- or 24-hour clock.
When I bought it I was doing shift-work, and the 24-hour option was handy.
Before I bought the watch, I had twice arrived at work twelve hours early.
I was fortunate about that: it could as easily have been twelve hours *late*.

The watch has carried the burden of the years well.  It gains perhaps a second
a week, and the casing has gathered many scratches.  The edges of the crystal
are a trifle chipped, but not seriously so.  The weakest link, in fact, is
just that: a link in the stainless steel watchband.  As long as I wear the
watch, it functions perfectly; but when I take the watch off and cast it on
the bed preparatory to taking a shower, this link often opens and allows the
wristband to fall in two.  I don't let this bother me: it merely adds
character to my temporal partner.  For this reason I neither buy a new band,
nor have the old one repaired, though either option would be cheap and easy.
[1993: I finally replaced the band in late 1992.]
The watch helps me in my fanac.  It tells me whether I have time today to do
another page  -- of a letter or fanzine, or this article.  It tells me whether
it is still early enough to make it worth venturing thirty kilometres across
Melbourne to visit Peter Burns in Oakleigh and use his electrostenciller.  It
tells me when my 213 (sorry, my 9:3 pm) bedtime rolls around.  When I have
to get up at 53 (5:30 am) in order to start at 0600 (6:00 am) I cannot
afford to stay up too late.

But sometimes in the stilly night when slumber's chains should bind me, I hear
the cheery beep! and I curse my watch, for it is telling me that time is
running out.

###

Today's fandom has been called *Last Fandom*.  Wherever I turn today I see the
dreary musings and predictions, all written with a tone of -- well, surprise
-- and all announcing that (1) there aren't as many fanzines around as there
used to be, (2) fanzine fans are getting older, and (3) we aren't attracting
the bright young faneds that used to ensure the continuity of fanzine fandom
into the future.

It is hard to argue with this pessimistic viewpoint.  To tell someone that you
think they are reading their personal aging into fandom is to invite a storm
of `facts' and figures `proving' the contention.  To mention the 18-year-old
fan sending you her Trekzine, the young guy (exact age uncertain) sending you
his clubzine filled with grumping about the `establishment' fen who want him
to fit into the old mold (I use this word advisedly -- `mould' might fit as
well), the other guy sending you his apazine-come-perzine -- to mention these
invites the riposte that these forma trickle compared to the torrent of the
good old days.  To suggest that fans are just becoming interested in fanzine
fandom later today is to invite a scornful sniff and a shoulder's dismissal.

When I gafiated in 1983, the pages of fanzines were full of doom and gloom.
The recent rapid rises in postage and printing costs had brought on a glut of
predictions that big fanzines were a thing of the past and that fanzines in
particular had but a short time to live.  There had been a headlong rush to
join the apas, where publishing could still be a cheap enterprise and egoboo
came easily.

Compared to 1983, today's fandom [1988] is fairly bursting with fanzines --
and some of them are large and of high calibre.  Many of the established names
weren't around in 1983.

That the average age of fanzine fans is higher is evidently correct.  That
this can be attributed to the decline of new blood is evidently not correct.
Instead, the new fans seem to serve a couple of years apprenticeship in
conventions and clubs before graduating into fanzines.  Instead of flooding
the post with crudzines and adolescent angst they get laid at cons, get out
of college, and then pub their ish.  If this be the end of fandom, it seems
a good end to be around in.

Where are the apas today?  Dead, or dying, or sick and desperate for members.

###

Apas are a wonderful institution.  You sit down at your typer or your word
processor or your computer, and you churn out thousands of words off the top
of your head.  You print up a few dozen copies and post them off to the
Official Editor.  In a month or a couple of months you receive a huge
envelope, carefully torn open by the Post Office, with lots of other peoples
zines bursting out of it.  Zines produced just the same way as yours, and
filled with remarks such as `Joe: Rycto Jill: Yea, man!' or `Bob: Rycto Jean's
cto Allan: I once had one, too ... (HHOK)'.

This is the fast food of egoboo.  Almost as sustaining as a cardboard Big Mac.
It is easy to understand why the apas proved incapable of holding those who
fled the genzine field when the Post Office sent its price-hike cavalry around
the left flank of fandom.  Do you like mixing metaphors?  I do.

Improved access to laser printers and computers has played no small part in
the resurgence of fanzine fandom.  We may not have the numbers and the
youthfulness we once had, but by crackey we look nice!  You don't see wrinkles
through printed pages, and you must read between the lines to see the cobwebs
in the brains.

You aren't bothered by preposterous accents, either.  I recently had cause to
ring the editors of this august publication [Mimosa].  Talking to Nikki proved
a disconcerting experience.  She ... speaks ... so ... slowly ... and ... with
... a ... long ... pause ... for ... thought ... before ... each ... reply.
I would say something, and wait.  The silence would lengthen, as the phone
silently ticked away my money in international toll charges.  I would just
decide that my rapid speech and Kiwi accent had proven indecipherable, when
the reply would come rolling down the line in measured sentences -- unless I
had been overcome with impatience and had started simultaneously to say
something more, whereupon Nikki would break off and wait, digesting my words
and framing a new response.  After all that, I never did learn what I had
sought: for Dick handled that sort of thing and he was out of town for
something-or-other.

In telefandom -- telephone fandom -- you must struggle with stream-of-
consciousness at its worst.  All you have is this thread-thin voice whispering
into your air after a rough passage through an imperfectly-conducting length
of copper wire.  It's bad enough speaking to someone of your own nationality,
but when you call internationally it is bad *cubed*.

After such experiences, a genzine is a relief.  You open it and slip into a
world where you can build your own picture of the other person at leisure,
where you do not `hear' the accents unless it be in an occasional strange word
or unusual construction.  The quality of writing averages higher, because the
writers know the egoboo they get back will be worth reading, and because the
editors will weed out and reject the worst material before it reaches print.
You can lose the cares of the day in reading a genzine, drifting timelessly
from article to article until the sudden sharp *beep*! of your watch tells you
it's time to do something else.

-- Greg Hills, 21may88/1jun93

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-


      [An anticipated feature of a second issue of a fanzine is, of course, a
      lettercolumn.  While I hate to be predictable, in this case what the hell
      -- it saves having to think up my own words to fill out the zine.  (Heh,
      heh -- just kidding, OK?)  The flow is entirely original and uncontrived:
      it's the order the letters arrived in.]

Letters


James Allen                 [3/6/93]  Thanks for the beta test version of
PO Box 41                   Vapourware.  Page 7 -- I can see where the space
W Brunswick 355            between the top of the box & the text is less than
	                    on page 6 -- personally I would have moved all the
text -- if I had even noticed!

      [Life's hard for we fustians.  Sigh.  The answer to your implied comment
      is, of course, that I would have noticed!  And noticed and noticed ...
      One solution would have been to reduce the leading in the two paragraphs
      of the main text by a fraction of a point; another would be to tweak the
      line below `Facts on File' so that the box could move down a trifle.
      GRH]

It's a nice little zine -- even if the `I Go Shopping' article is a bit
disturbing.  In one of the Myth books Robert Asprin says something like `after
you complete a bargain with a Deveel, count your fingers, then count again,
and then count your cousins'.  What happened to you is quite legal I am sure.
I had wondered what happened in those little shops -- I assumed they merely
sold items like market stalls -- I didn't realise that they also ran scams.
Did you ever get a tape deck?  [Nope.  GRH]

I first read `Devaluing the Egobuck' in Stet -- it is interesting but it seems
to have two subjects.

The first is the marginalisation of `sixth fandom like' zines (whatever sixth
fandom means; I know it is a US fan group -- perhaps these are the ink
duplicator/Twiltone people? -- and that is addressed satisfactorily by saying
that reaching out to new fans helps.  (I have heard of Walt Willis, Lee
Hoffman, and Quandry -- I just know little about them and wonder how relevant
they are to me.)

Then we go on to the second issue of trading/locs and costs.  As you know a
problem with zines today is cost.  I have seen electronic stuff but I am not
convinced.  The situation described can be summed up as `change, but not for
the better'.  Basically costs are rising and the fun the fanzine editor gets
from publishing either stays the same or diminishes.  Perhaps editors should
sell subscriptions?  For example as Thyme does.  Other trading could be as
`prizes' for worthwhile contributions.

      [Actually you're one of the `fans indeed' I had in mind when I wrote the
      article.  The joke, you see, is that `Sixth Fandom' started out with
      pretty much the same attitude towards the fannish establishment that
      Australian `New Wave Fandom' did.  The concept is still valid, but
      unfortunately hardening of the attitudes has set in during recent
      decades, particularly in individuals joining after Sixth Fandom became,
      de facto, the new establishment.  `Devaluing the Egobuck' was an unsubtle
      (but not unsubtle enough, I suspect) jab at these attitudes.  Incident-
      ally, since key founding members of Sixth Fandom (Walt Willis, James
      White, and Bob Shaw for three) lived in Ireland, it can hardly be
      described as a `US' group.  GRH]


Lyn McConchie               [9/7/93]  Things have been pretty good this year and
Farside Farm                I can't say they haven't.  As you'll no doubt have
RD Norsewood                heard, my book appeared on the NZ shelves on Mayday.
New Zealand                 After that I had a couple of phone interviews for
	                    Radio, half a dozen newspaper articles about it, and
several speaker engagements.  Just as all that started to die down I had a
note with contract from the Publishers in Wellington to let me know I'd sold
it as an 8-part radio series as well ...

      [Yeah, yeah, go ahead -- grind it in ...  But seriously, congrats on the
      book and also the short story achievements.  I'm proud of you, Grandma.
      GRH]

Sorry you're unemployed and you don't sound that happy either.  Are things
that bad or is it that you're making a good story out of it all?  Vapourware
was great, a lot of stuff to make one think -- hard.  Your editorial struck
a nerve; the prats in Parliament here are following overseas trends that have
already proven to be a failure, and making a bad situation even worse even
faster.  I love my country and sing our National Anthem very fervently lately,
but I have a nasty feeling we too are rotating down the gurgler.

      [I was trying to make a depressing situation entertaining.  For non-Kiwi
      readers, perhaps I should note that the `Anthem' mentioned above contains
      the line `God defend New Zealand'; this is the line to sing fervently.
      The unspoken addendum is `God defend New Zealand ... because nobody else
      gives a stuff!'.  GRH]

I agreed with your article on devaluing the egobuck.  Sure it was -- well --
aggressive.  It was also true.  I have made it a policy to tell editors who
offer me free copies the truth too.  If I don't feel I can return value I ask
them not to send the zine again.  Thus I have a small number of fanzines
arriving each year to which I contribute solidly.  I feel this is fair to both
parties.  I may have left a few irritated editors out there, but hey, I have
to do what I think is right too.

Look, Junior, I do hope things aren't as miserable for you as they sound.  By
the time Constantinople rolls around maybe you'll have a job and be back with
a new zine and a new computer too.  Good luck, hang in there.

      [I hung in there.  Eventually, after two years of under-employment, I
      figured out that as I had perfectly saleable professional skills my
      immediate need was not courses in desktop publishing and graphic design
      but a course in how to get a job.  I graduated with honours, being
      offered two positions on the same day in the second week of the course.
      One job was safe and steady but likely to be dull and slow to flower.
      The other job was decidedly insecure and stressful but likely to be
      interesting and a real boon to my career.  I chose the latter.  GRH]


Lewis & Marilyn             [14/8/93]  Despite our differences of opinion on
6 Martin Place             wood and economic rationalism of egoboo I found the
Linden 2778                 issue well worth the read.  I can relate to your
	                    financial straits -- although as a perpetual
freelancer the uncertainty of where the next cheque is coming from is nothing
out of the ordinary.

The rundown on the Anzus debacle was informative and given a historical
perspective since the new World Disorder has allowed the US to pull back on
some of the defense bucks (or so they would have us think).  Having just read
a book called We Almost Lost Detroit by John G Fuller on the system dealings
and assumptions within the civilian nuclear reactor program and specifically
about the inability of the operators to evacuate populations should a `super
prompt critical excursion' result in an energy `release', I wonder about the
patriotism of allowing a potential source of contamination to dock at our
primary CBD.  Given the poor response of private industry to such possibili-
ties, the thought that the good ol' US Navy could provide any sort of compen-
sation should an accident occur is fairly unlikely given material costs (not
including people) would run into billions of dollars.  One can only hope that
with `a temporary cessation of hostilities' the pressure to accept such visits
will be reduced.

      [Fat chance -- with the Philippines going their own way, NZ and Australia
      are the main US bulwarks south of Asia.  With popular sentiment in NZ
      still strongly anti-nuclear, Australia in particular faces the certainty
      of heavy US pressure to remain a loyal `ally'.  In the pathetic hope that
      by doing so they can somehow persuade the US to protect Australia from
      the US/Europe and US/Japan trade wars, successive ministries will
      continue to bleat about their loyalty to Big Brother.  Meanwhile the US,
      as it has always done, will look after itself first and us only when
      convenient.  GRH]

The `Virtual Paradise' article was good -- I find it a constant frustration
when working on sf films (which I have done in the past) that the art
directors and directors usually have no foresight as far as technological
changes are concerned.  Whether this equates to explaining their ignorance
`because their target audience will not understand them if they don't' or what
I'm not sure, but it irks me to build the inside of a robot's head to have the
Director stuff it full of vacuum tubes on set or the Producer insist that a
micro listener device should be big enough to have an operating LED so you
know it's working.  I find it quaint when I think of the robot from Lost in
Space (not due to be built for another three years according to the story)
having transistors and magnetic tape storage.  Today he'd no doubt have
integrated circuits and floppy discs.  One assumes that in `reality' he'd have
neural networks and magnetic bubbles, but maybe even this is not advanced
enough.  The film makers always fall back on the argument that they're working
for today's audiences.  This not only leads to a film that looks dated in five
years time but also forces us to watch idiotic scenes of Donald Moffat with
Atari circuit boards and printer cables hanging out of patently fake chest
cavities.

The real problem with visual sf is that it demands `eye candy' rather than
ideas and given the scant screen such props receive, if they don't look
vaguely recognisable the audience is going to waste time thinking rather than
following the plot.  I do feel that the public is underestimated.  The average
viewer has some nonce and when Harrison Ford drops the model Statue of Liberty
and retrieves a Krypton relay the size of a small beer can I'm sure I'm not
the only one who says `they're not that big, I saw a photo of one in Time
magazine the other week ...'

      [The limitations of the camera impose strange conditions on what it can
      portray -- and how it must be portrayed.  Consider the contortions
      required to film sex, ballet, or parties.  On the other hand, think of
      the realism made possible by the camera as opposed to the props of the
      stage.  Think of Jurassic Park versus One Million BC.  What will happen
      when the screen is abolished and the images move entirely inside the
      watcher's head?  GRH]

I can understand how a computer can induce total inactivity in an individual
as I've just entered a new phase of man/machine interface myself.  I'm not a
technophile  (as you can tell if you've ever seen my car) so all I'll say is
it's an IBM 486DX with 8 Mb RAM and a CD ROM (and I still feel like a wanker).
The reason for me getting involved with this expensive time waster is my own
personal fear of the future.  You've no doubt noticed the prevalence of
computer animation in films and more so in TV ads.   It doesn't take a moron
to realize that for every shiny CGI spaceship you see there is a special
effects miniature that didn't need to be built, filmed, etc.

I've been frightened too long by massive technology and inflated production
costs and I'm damned if I'm going to sit down wailing about how some bunch of
sallow-faced button pushers has taken the bread from the mouths of my ferrets.
The last three weeks has been a full-on intensive course in button punching,
as Marilyn has noticed.  I'm learning to drive a good quality low-end
animation package (which in plain English is $40 and a peptic ulcer) and I'm
hoping to produce stuff to a similar standard to my 3D models.  At the moment
this is pure science fiction -- I seem to spend more time screaming impotently
at invalid path commands and deleted meshes than actually getting on with
anything remotely creative.  As I write the box is grinding through frame 24
of 55 at an average speed of 24 seconds a frame for the fourth time in an
attempt to create a viable flic file.

The thing I really hate about these systems is their dumb insolence when even
the help menus (of which this program has none -- it's for professionals,
remember!) shed little light on your very specific problems.  There have been
enough virtual carrots dangling just beyond reach to keep me going, but these
situations elicit a response similar to the rubber/walrus fetish horse in The
Ren & Stimpy Show, namely `no sir ... I don't like it!'.

      [Lewis, I sympathise completely.  For the last month or so I have been
      spending up to eleven hours a day wearing a headset providing crisis
      telephone help desk support to users of another `professional' software
      package with a wimpy `help' feature.  One of my workmates swears by
      Autocad for artwork (another `professional' package), but I doubt he's
      ever tried to use it to produce art for publication.  The very people
      whose keyboard time is most valuable -- the professionals relying on
      their output for their living -- seem unanimously to be afflicted with
      software which, for all its power, would never make the grade if it
      targeted amateurs and dilettantes.  They would avoid it in droves.  Ease
      of use and user friendliness is why the DTP for this publication is being
      done with Pagemaker rather than Ventura.  Vapourware is the latest
      expression of my favourite hobby, and I decline to waste leisure hours
      struggling with a tool that seems designed to make things harder rather
      than easier, no matter what wonderful features it offers.  Truly
      `professional' software must suit the needs of the end user, not the
      programmer.  Software companies that forget this simple rule have no
      future.

      [In the meantime, look on the bright side  --  your new technology gave
      you the, er, `spare' time to handwrite a four-page loc.  It's an ill wind
      and all that.  Persevere!  It only *looks* impossible.  GRH]

WAHF: Perry Middlemiss.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-


Wrapping it up

I'm running out of zine here -- suddenly there's no room for either fanzine
reviews or the other material to hand.  Next issue, with luck.

As those who arrived here by reading through the length of the zine will know
(and as the rest of you will learn) things have changed a bit since last
issue.  In the last month I have gone from bones-of-the-arse poverty to
relative affluence.  It may not last -- there are signs that the job is
winding down, with no guarantee of a swift redeployment and no word (at least
to date) of possible long term work where I am -- but as my bank account grows
and the initially long hours at work shrink towards normal office hours, I
find my confidence reviving.  I've rejoined the MSFC and hope to start being
social again soon.  This could all change again at similarly short notice, but
for the moment life's `on the up'.

This issue of Vapourware is dedicated to Roger Weddall, a true friend and
colourful acquaintance from1982 to his death last December.  Everything from
page 2 to page 1 relates to his memory.

Zine completed 29 August 1993 --

-- Greg Hills.

(End of file, cobber!)


Updated April 25, 1999.