Letters of Comment

((My comments are in the traditional fannish double parentheses, like this.))

Lyn McConchie (New Zealand) writes:

The thing I always envy America is the huge cheaper bookshops. Both times I was in the States I ran amok in any bookshop I found. I bought three large cartons full in '95 and posted them back. All arrived safely and I had an orgy of reading for weeks and happy weeks. I'd have bought even more but I ran out of spare cash. You would be stunned at the prices here. The average new paperback is around $10-12US. About $15-18NZ. They claim it's the exchange rate and shipping costs, although most of us can add and know that isnít true. But we're a captive market and New Zealanders read. My personal library of 5000-6000 is more than usual but when it was only a couple of thousand it wasn't. Despite the price kiwis buy books--with both hands.

((The flip side of this is that when I'm in the UK, I hesitate to buy anything thatís in print here at home. So I'll pick up Tom Holt's latest comic fantasy, or a small-press Terry Dowling at Intersection, and otherwise sate my desire to read with a newspaper or a Penguin Jane Austen, which at £1.95 seems reasonable, where six pounds for a paperback isn't. Of course, there are publishers trying to get me to pay $7.99 for a mass market paperback mystery, but thus far I'm resisting.)) (Lyn also sent farm news and a large selection of goose quills. Thanks!)

Sheila Lightsey writes:

Homeovestism is the sexual enjoyment of wearing the garments of one's own sex. I'd been searching for this word for years, not even sure that it existed. For a while, after a spirited exchange with a professional drag artist I was calling it Female drag. It's so nice to have the proper word for it. Although I did just look it up in the dictionary and it wasn't there. So I could be wrong. But I need that word. Transvestism is adopting the clothes of the opposite sex for purposes of emotional or sexual gratification.

((It may be too new to be in your dictionary, like the slightly different term (homovestism--no 'e') Raphael Carter invented, seeing a related gap in the language. Raphael's emphasis is slightly different--not enjoyment, sexual or otherwise, but the compulsion, for whatever reason, to wear the clothes of one's own gender. I think, though, that your definition needs a word as much as Raphael's does. Use the word, spread it around, and it will get into the dictionary.))

Robert Lichtman (Glen Ellen, California) writes:

Normally I simply read and enjoy Quipu, but Number 8 has a few checkmarks in it I don't wish to ignore. Most prominently, by your comment, "Ghost-writing a TAFF platform seems like a very odd idea...but I can't prove it's never happened." I have first-hand knowledge that it has: the platform used the second time I ran for TAFF was written by Owen Whiteoak. I don't recall the exact circumstances that brought this about, but it worked. I'd run in the previous race with a platform I put together myself and lost.

Bridget (Hardcastle) BradshawHitchin, Hertfordshire, Great Britain) writes:

Sorry the bottom of my previous postcard got cancelled by the Post Office! Though after my recent dealings with them I am prepared to believe that they are bearing a grudge against me for some reason....

I enjoyed your Orycon report. Visiting the towns is something I do very little of, I still find more than enough at conventions to keep me busy just with the programme and keeping up with people (and handing out fanzines and sitting at con tables and being on items and helping out and all the other voluntary activities I pour down upon myself!) I tend to see what I do see of the local area when out hunting for restaurants or out for a cheap sandwich for lunch, though I donít do this so much now, partly because I have trouble getting out, partly because I now know more about the economics of con-running and use the hotel facilities more, especially after the trouble the con committee go to to have cheap food put on for us!

((I deal with some of this by deliberately arriving a little early to some conventions, or staying late: if you're not high-level staff, that extra day is a chance to do a little touring. Or I grab a few of the people I want to catch up with and go with them--for example, Powell's was fun, and going there was also a chance to spend time with a few friends. And I'd be more willing to eat in the hotel if they didn't so often seem overwhelmed by fannish numbers--many con hotels don't make adequate arrangements to serve meals on weekends, for example--and if the cheap meals they got for us more often included anything I found appealing. I realize you can satisfy half of America with a hot dog cart, but I'm in the other half.))

Steve Green (UK) writes:

Further to your Orycon report, did the "Liarís Panel" on getting into print also recommend faxing your manuscript rather than trusting that unreliable postal system? The added benefit, of course, is that the executive standing next to the fax with an urgent document has nothing else to read whilst waiting other than your book. For extra impact, use a really large font, in bold.

Chuch Harris (Daventry, Northlands, UK) writes:

In Pike's Place market we skipped the smoked salmon and the choccy cherries and bought a windsock! (I thought these were called drogues but not in my big dictionary they ain't.) This is in the form of a multicolored fish and is intended for small boats and maybe planes. We have it over the glass patio doors to stop birds crashing into the glass and killing themselves. I suppose I could take it down and send you the resulting feathers but............. perhaps not.

((Not. I'm a birder; the feather collection is just a sideline, and consists mostly of feathers dropped in the normal course of a bird's life: for example, I have a tail feather a peacock didn't need anymore, but the peacock is still alive and well.))

Richard Brandt (El Paso, Texas) writes:

Sheryl Birkhead's title lettering is exquisite, and seems a departure from her previous work; like to see her stretching herself, as she seems to have done increasingly over the past few years.

As a like admirer of cultural detritus, I would be sad indeed to see Archie McPhee take the path you describe...

Jessica Amanda Salmonson (violet@drizzle.com) writes: The reason the Archie McPhee catalog used to be more interesting is that that company began with a huge stock of "gags" & novelties from the 1950s/1960s obtained from a gigantic warehouse purchase--stuff that hasn't been made for one to four decades. When that sold out, they became a store full of cheap plastic tokens, cigar-shaped bubble-gums, & rubber dinosaurs--bunch of boring crap without any of the amazing kitsch value of the old stuff they began with.

((I am simultaneously saddened, because this means they probably can't get back to where they were, and relieved to learn that it wasn't a deliberate abandoning of the storeís soul. This is not a culture where it's easy to say "weíve done this for as long as makes sense/is possible, let's walk away"; economics leads people to do something similar under the same name, instead.))

I also heard from George Flynn, Vijay Bowen, Buck Coulson, Andy Hickmott, George Laskowski, Henry Welch, Lloyd Penney, R. Graeme Cameron, Harry Warner, Jr., and Dan Goodman.

Letters of comment may be sent electronically to me at vr@panix.com. I will assume they're meant for publication, both on paper and on this Web site, unless you say otherwise, but I do respect "do not quote" and "do not print."

Copyright 1998 Vicki Rosenzweig

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