Sunday, April 24, 2016

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Monday, January 11, 2016

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MailboX 11 January, 2016

This mail came in via snail from Fred Argoff. He publishes a neat paperzine called Brooklyn which is about — well, need I say?  Send him some carefully concealed bucks to the address listed below for an issue.  Regarding the polite Hulk and Godzilla kids' books he wrote:

A polite Hulk accepting lessons in manners?  Godzilla frolicking with his buddies and not taking out major Japanese cities?  Well, I have to say, the signs were there years ago...

When the Hamburglar stopped stealing burgers and became a happy-face character, you had to know something was up.  And then Yogi Bear — whose very existence depended upon snatching picnic baskets — metamorphosed into the leader of something called Yogi's Eco-Rangers.

As for the Vlad the Impaler plushie doll, I only hope that nobody from the marketing industry saw #113, because you probably just gave away a multimillion-dollar idea.  (Can anyone doubt that an animated movie featuring a kind, gentle Joseph Stalin is in the works; he can "liberate" eastern Europe all over again.  Then they can have a prequel featuring der Fuehrer, who, after all, asks only for Czechoslovakia!)

Fred Argoff
Penthouse L
1170 Ocean Pkwy.
Brooklyn,NY  11230

RX:  I wonder how your proposed Joseph Stalin movie would explain his "diet plan" for the Ukraine?  As for plushies, the next letter explains how the marketing department is already on the concept.

Via electrons Terry The Censor wrote:

No Vlad plushies, but loads of Draculas.

Even a Nosferatu plushie! 

RX:  My Gawd.  Is nothing sacred anymore?

Regarding my article, "Greetings From The Monastic Cell," X. Dell of the X Spot blog ( ) wrote:

I spent many a Thanksgiving and/or Christmas alone, usually because I had to work the holidays or the day after. 

How I miss those days. I've lost my best excuse for being anti-social. 

And to wrap up this MailBoX a comment from Dave Haren ( ) re: polite Hulk, TV westerns, and the Anita Nose Adjuster.

Somewhere I found a similar nosejob gadget designed to squeeze in the sides, for an Asian market, looked like a big clamp, very stylish indeed.

I prefer a Hulk throwing forklifts, automobiles, and spectacular tantrums. The best Godzilla movie was Son of Godzilla, started with action and never let up right to the end, they threw in everything but the kitchen sink. It reminded me of Robert E Howard at his best when the narrative of action made no attempt to be consistent with his other work. You were too busy following the action to care until much later. The thin gruel of consistency will never be better than the rich stew of quivering thew and racial weirdness theories stirred with a sword too big for anything but a canoe paddle for a weightlifter.

Like Penney I never could recognize the Western as having any resemblance to the actual west. I listened to the stories of my elders and none of the hollywood or dime novel bullshit was in the stories. The people  named were in real stories but their behaviors were also real. I knew a guy who was around a hand on his granddads ranch who was at the McSween house with Bill Bonnney. My own Grandpa knew Butch Cassidy, he came from a small town on the other side of the mountain. My own experiences with the romantic western life involved hauling a lot of hay and fixing a lot of fence, that and manure. It is like role players who adventure through a world where no one works, no one grows food, none of the warts of the real periods are there just the glamorous life of chopping up adversaries and stealing their stuff. The TV cowboy would have been hung on his first day in town in the real west. Canada had its outlaws some of who came south. I think the attached picture was taken in the territorial prison at Yuma, Arizona.

Warm regards

RX:  I was flipping around the other day and watched a scene from the Bonanza TV series, one of the most popular westerns in the old days. It was filmed in color.  I couldn't help but notice that the actress portraying a Native American woman looked pretty good with her Hollywood makeup.  Nice eye shadow and lipstick.  And some TV western fans think SF is unbelievable.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

eXamples: Fun With Pareidolia

It's more common than you think.  A few selected eXamples:

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Angel Or Winged Pareidolia?

© 2016 Ray X  03 January, 2016

Just before midnight mass on Christmas Eve last month Jason Cerone took a photograph.  Nothing special, a balcony view of the altar area inside St. Peters Church, Plattsburgh, NY.  He didn’t notice anything unusual at the moment.  But later…

A mysterious shape popped up in one frame on his computer screen after he downloaded his digital images.  Suggestive of an angelic presence, wings gently flapping, drifting towards the altar.

Now his photograph is embraced by believers and dissed by skeptics since he posted it on Facebook.

The blurring in the photo indicates a long handheld exposure.  Was the apparition someone walking towards the altar, leaving a ghostly presence due to the shutter being open so long?  No, says Jason, no one was present (in a physical sense) when he snapped the photo.

Most comments on Facebook consider the image as reaffirmation that angels exist.  And then there are the Doubting Thomases who imply the image is fake or just a trick of light on the lens.

Jason was quoted in a newspaper article (  ) that he couldn’t say he actually caught an angel in pixels.  He stated: "Regardless of whether there is a logical explanation for the picture or not, I believe it was meant to happen and be seen."

So even if the image was produced by a trick of light, a smudge or water droplet on the lens creating a distorted image, God planned it to happen.

According to Monsignor Dennis Duprey St. Peter’s Church believes in angels.  He wouldn’t say that image was an actual miracle – that required stringent proof – but that was beside the point.  The photo was stimulating a discussion about faith.  Also such signs helped people to see beyond their everyday lives.

One time I took a digital photograph and later I found a subtle rainbow in the image, a rainbow that wasn’t there before.  I checked my lens filter.  There was my fingerprint, ready to create spectral lines under the right lighting conditions.  Nothing miraculous.  I cleaned the filter.  I doubt I was erasing God’s work.

They say the Lord works in mysterious ways.  So a lens smudge is still a miracle?

Addendum:  Bad juxtaposition.  At one point on Facebook the sanctified photo was next to an ad featuring a toilet.

Click on image to enlarge.

The work of Satan?

Friday, December 18, 2015

Violent Monsters As Kiddie Friends

The Hulk.  Green and mean.  A rampaging muscular mass who destroys all in his path.  Uncontrollable fury.

So do you think someone could teach him to be polite?

That’s the basis for the illustrated children’s book, Please and Thank You, featuring Spider-Girl and the Hulk sitting in a tree house, eating hamburgers.

The Hulk grunts, telling Spider-Girl to give him the ketchup.

Spider-Girl explains to the Hulk that it’s polite to use “please” and “thank you.”

The Hulk responds:  “Hulk?  Rude?”  He thanks Spider-Girl for teaching him how to be polite.

That’s not the Hulk I know.  I think the encounter would play out like this:

“Spider-Girl has cooties.  Hulk smash!”

And there’s Godzilla, a 30-story tall dinosaur known for his dance move, the Tokyo Stomp.  With a sweep of his cyclopean tail he can taken out an entire village.  Missiles and bombs don’t slow him down.

When you look at the cover of the kids’ book, Godzilla Likes To Roar, you assume it is intended to calm down young brats tripping on too much sugar.  Roaring like Godzilla the kids burn off excess energy and mercifully fall asleep.

Maybe that works but the story is deceptive.  Godzilla lives on Monster Island with his dinosaur buddies.  They play and frolic and never hurt anyone.

When Godzilla gets hungry he eats some tasty coconuts.  There’s no mention of the peaceful natives that lived on the island before he made it his home.  He’s no vegetarian.  Upon his arrival he stomped on the natives and then cooked them to perfection with his thermo-nuclear death breath.  Flame-broiled human burgers.

So what will they think of next?  How about a Vlad the Impaler plushie doll for the kids to hug while sleeping?  Complete with a plushie stake.

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I’ve got mail?  Xcellent. I appreciate the feedback.  If you want to join the conversation email me: .  Snail mail: BoXholder, PO Box 2, Plattsburgh, NY  12901-0002.

- - -

Regarding two images I used in RX XR # 112 Rick Hilberg wrote:

That was a great old B-grade movie that I still have in my film collection.

RX:  So you recognized that turkey from the turkey The Giant Claw.  I read the producer told the actors the special effects would be top notch.  I can imagine the cast’s embarrassment when they sat in a movie theater and the terrifying monster flashed on the screen.  They watched themselves reacting in consternation to a crude string puppet.

And from Dave Haren regarding my reaction in XR #112 to the new Supergirl TV series:

Hi Ray,

I didn't see a request for letters of comment but here's one anyway.

The Superman material was always pretty strange to me since there wasn't much in the way of limitation. I liked him better as Wylies Gladiator.

My own preference is for anime, they can create the sensa wunda in more ways than one.

Keep 'em coming.

RX: ThanX for your LOC.  I appreciate the feedback.

I like the original Superman, the one seen in those old Max Fleischer cartoons from the 1940's.  He had to struggle. For example in one episode he's dragging a train up a mountain with a chain, his feet digging in, muscles straining.

They added powers to him like heat vision while upping his strength to a boring level.  Then they had to bring in various colors of kryptonite to make him interesting.  But after a while that trick became dull.

If you're looking for a great satire on Supes' omnipotence check out
God-Man by Tom the Dancing Bug:

And here’s a LOC from Lloyd Penney about RX XR # 111 and # 112.  (Talk about a Penney for his thoughts…  Sorry.)   He discovered my worX at eFanzines --

Dear Ray:

Thank you for a new title for me, X-Rayer. I have issues 111 and 112 here, and I will carry on with my usual tradition of getting a loc out as soon as I can. In this case, there’s been a bit of a wait.

111…I am not familiar with Nick Pope, but there is a Canadian UFOologist, Chris Rutkowski, who has his roots in SF fandom. He kinda treads the outside lines of both fields, with experience in one field slightly ruining his credentials in the other. Why the visual effects that obscure the person being interviewed? Many years ago, I was on a local SF programme called Prisoners of Gravity, and they did much the same thing to the edges of the screen. Oooo, look at this, it’s weird!, and we’re cutting edge, etc. It only took them one season to ditch the effects, and stop putting weird colours in the host’s hair, too.

The world has indeed ended. Yes, we didn’t get the memo, but worse than that, we really didn’t notice. Maybe it will come back, but certain parts can stay gone.

112…prophylactic combs? If you don’t use one, there’s a serious risk of…messy hair?

I never really liked westerns, mostly because they reflected the history of the American west, not the Canadian west. Probably the western I liked the most was The Wild, Wild West, because it was western with a touch of SF, or what we might call today steampunk. Great fun, and interesting contraptions.

Done for now, and off they go. Planning a locol? Hope so. Take care, and see you with the next one.

Finally this from Terry The Censor on how I spent my Thanksgiving day (XR #112):

I am a single man too. On holidays when I don't return to my home town, I like to luxuriate in a coffee shop with a flavoured drip and a pricey treat. I settle in with a hefty non-fiction book or a small pile of UFO literature. (I like being alone in public.) Boosted with caffeine, I enjoy a long walk in the cool air to a rambling street car ride home. After a simple meal, I settle down for a good long movie or a short bad one, accompanied by a bottle of affordable red wine and a nice cheese plate.

(It seems to be working. All these years, I've had no desire to get a pet.)

RX:  I’m also single.  I would like to have a pet: a Penthouse Pet.

Until next time monitor the heavens.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Greetings From The Monastic Cell

Another holiday, another quiet day.

My circumstances are unlike most people.  No family.  And, yes, I do have friends but they're busy with their own families.  

I used to go out on this so-called day of thanks, meandering through the deserted streets.  Unfortunately the streets aren't totally lifeless.  One time I found a  guy passed out mid-main-street mid-afternoon.  When I asked him if he was OK he got up and took a swing at me.  Someone else was passing-by and pulled the inebriated ingrate away.  With two of us he decided to calm down.

Another altruistic incident that makes me to pause and give thanks for all the positive things in my life.

(Next time I'll let someone become roadkill.)

Today I enjoyed my traditional meal: a microwaved pepperoni-and-sausage Hot Pocket [TM].  Homemade goodness.

Keep your eyes on the skies.  La Carcagne could be lurking.

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Super Burnout

Back in the day westerns dominated TV.  Just three networks overstuffed with oat operas.  You had to decide which show would induce less saddle sore.  And there were plenty of hee-haw shoot-them-ups at the movie theater.  

Too much killed the format.  Ad nauseam.  There's hardly a new western series on TV. A movie theater is like a ghost town for saddle sagas, tumbleweed rolling through.  You have to watch reruns on TV to get your cowboy fix.

Now superheroes are the Big Thing, both TV and movies.  Irony: When I was a kid my peers and some adults questioned my rabid interested in four-color pamphlets.  I would be laughed at for spending 12 cents on a comic book.  Now everyone, not just nerds, are paying 12 dollars to see the same stuff brought to life on a cinema screen.

A surfeit of product means each one has to match, even beat, the other one. I watched the pilot film for the Supergirl TV series and maybe ten minutes of the second episode.  This set-up has Kal-El's cousin arriving on earth after he has become Superman.  Supergirl is supposed to be her own person - Feminism! - but there's always the shadow of the Big Guy lurking in the background.  This happened before with another series, Birds of Prey, that had Batman lurking in the background, a brief glimpse for Dark Knight fans.

With Supergirl I could do better.  An eight-year-old could do better.

Since the character is past her teen years why not called her Superwoman?  With superior acumen Marvel changed the appellation Invisible Girl to Invisible Woman years ago so it's not like there's never beenprecendence.

And have Superwoman be completely her own woman.  No more being in her cousin's shadow.  She arrived on earth but Kal-El didn't make it.  Why not?  It's not like the parallel universe explanation has never been used.

As mentioned before with a flooded market your product has to stand out.  But Supergirl isn't a stand-out creation.  In the pilot some Kryptonian criminals have survived, including Supergirl's evil aunt.  What's next?  Her wicked stepmother shows up with a kryptonite apple?

I'll pass.  I would rather suffer thru a stupid rerun of Bonanza. ("Hell, Hoss filled up the outhouse again!")

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Paper Cut

Usually perfection can’t be attained.  Bare minimum for me:  An adequate result.

I snail-mailed the last paper edition of my zine.  Why?  Not the computer but the printer.

This Windows-compatible  printer is the third one I’ve owned.  All three were crap.  This one started to print faint copies.  I tried the usual fixes.  Nothing.  I searched via Google for other fixes.  They didn’t work.  Two hours wasted.

I had to take my PDF file to a print shop.   Text was OK but the images were muddy.  A problem I could’ve fixed with the file if my printer had been working.  The file was uneditable so it couldn’t be properly fixed at the print shop.

Online the images look great, in color, not B&W as with print.

Since 1994 I’ve been cranking out my paperzine The Ray X X-Rayer.  No more.  I don’t want to waste money on another crap printer or take the option of trying to get adequate copies at a print shop.

Online writing and editing can be a pain but not like producing hardcopy.   Paper jams, dried out ink cartridges, smeary copies – no more.  Stapling, folding, envelopes, stamps – forget it.

There are holdouts in meatspace who are paper only.  I respect that but if they want to read my stuff they’ll have to do it online at this blog or at .

Good riddance to paper.

Time and money saved.  One stressful activity gone.

I’ll save my energy for more reasonable pursuits.  Like capturing a UFO.