Saturday, September 06, 2014

From The MailboX: Rant Feedback


One rant, two different takes.

My rant [http://xrayer.blogspot.com/2014/08/feedback-feedback.html ] about formatting my zine any way I wanted produced some interesting reactions.

Robert Jennings, Editor of Fadeaway zine (29 Whiting Rd.,Oxford, MA  01540-2035) (FabFicBks[at]aol[dot]com), emailed:

I would suggest that criticisms about the appearance of your zine by readers are not malicious, but are probably intended to be constructive in nature.  Yes, its your publication to do anything you want with it, any way you want, but producing an end product that is comfortable to read and is visually agreeable makes a better impression and helps get whatever message you are writing about across more easily.  I know several people who produce fanzines, and I’m sure you do as well, who may have interesting or worthwhile material to offer, but whose format is so jumbled or cramped that most people won’t even give it a fair chance.  I don’t think your mag falls into that classification, but dumping on somebody because they make constructive format suggestions appears to me to be petty vindictiveness.

In decades past whenever I couldn’t make the pages come out quite to the end of the page in my mimeographed fanzines (not very often) I invented The Embarrassing Blank Space, which developed an independent life of its own in the early 1960s.  When computers and word processing systems came along this problem pretty much disappeared forever.  I would be happy to lend-lease a quire or two of Embarrassing Blank Spaces if you need the things.  Just be sure to label them when you use them.

OK, my rant was over the top but it wasn't meant to be malicious.  In fact the person who made the comment that I should be formatting my zine to look professional, i.e. leave no white space and have an even number of pages, hasn't indicated to me he has taken offense.  My rants should be taken in the spirit intended.

And Doug Harrison, Editor of Zine Explorers Notebook (P.O. Box 5291, Richmond, VA 23220) snail-mailed this:   
  
Thanks for the latest. That was an excellent rant on your first page. The whole idea of zines to me is to NOT "get with the program". (Which is why I call myself an anarchist.) I don't want to be forced to get with anybody's program, or force anybody to get with mine.
  
But yes, I have certain aesthetic standards for myself that I try to meet with my own publication. I find the challenges rewarding in making interesting page layouts, using different fonts and column widths, etc. That's my own choice; I don't expect anybody else to live up to my standards in their own realm. I think that's kind of snotty and arrogant; no, definitely so.

Doug publishes a very neat zine (and I'm not just talking about its appearance).  I can appreciate the time and effort he puts into his work; it does show.  Some people enjoy the process of layout and design.  For me, my main goal is to eXpress myself quickly and precisely, not to be overly involved with how it looks on the other end.  As long as its readable and people can grok my words, I'm happy.

Let me wrap this up with a third take from X. Dell of The X Spot [www.xdell.blogspot.com]:

People confuse "professionalism" with (1) competence, (2) excellence or (3) value. In reality, I can point you to numerous examples where competence, excellence and value have been slaughtered on the altar of professionalism.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

XR #103 Online


If you prefer my blog posts in a zine format check out Ray's X Zone where you can view and download recent issues.

I just uploaded Ray X X-Rayer #103, the White Space Issue.  Here's a link to view it directly.

I'm down to a handful of paperzine subscribers and I'm debating whether or not to drop the entire zine format both in print and PDF.  Or I might drop the blog and just do an email newsletter.  This would eliminate some duplication of effort.  Any feedback from out there?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Cash-Landrum: Curt Collins Is On The Case




And on the subject of a (non)fiction TV series covering eXtraordinary events (see previous post)...

Over at his site, Blue Blurry Lines [ http://www.blueblurrylines.com/ ], Curt Collins has been looking into the Cash-Landrum incident.  In a recent blog post he takes to task the UFO "documentary" series, Close Encounters, on a few points with its report on the incident.

If you're unfamiliar with the Cash-Landrum case: December 1980.  Evening.  Texas, a country road.  Three people in a car (two adults and a child) encounter a hovering diamond-shaped object emitting heat, flames spewing out from its base.  Days later the three witnesses seek medical attention at a hospital, suffering from symptoms suggestive of radiation exposure.

In his post, Cash-Landrum As Seen on TV: Close Encounters,  [ http://www.blueblurrylines.com/2014/08/cash-landrum-as-seen-on-tv-close.html ] Curt provides a list of thirteen inaccuracies he noted from one viewing of the CE episode dealing with the event.  Even basic facts like how many doors on the car are bungled.

But the biggest criticism is targeted toward the dramatized reenactment of the event.  Apparently it needed a bit of juice for the TV audiences.

In the purported recreation the UFO — which the witnesses said in real life was about 130 feet away — moved over the car, covering it in flames.

And another detail was created.  Close Encounters contacted someone who wasn't an expert on the case.  He repeated the story from memory, mentioning that he heard that sparks were being emitted from UFO.  

Apparently little or no fact checking was done.  Or if it was, maybe the producers thought: What the hell, let's keep that sparking angle and even enhance it to make the UFO's appearance even more impressive.  Why just have flames and sparks when you can throw in lightning?  Ergo, the UFO discharges electrical bolts. To quote the Late Great Supreme Commander Moseley: Wheee!

But this is nothing new.  Anyone remember the TV series, Unsolved Mysteries, that from 1987 until 2002 on the NBC network?  Hosted by actor Robert Stack — who seemed to recreating the character he portrayed in the comedy movie, Airplane — the producers wouldn't hesitate to juice up a story.  That's why before each episode a disclaimer was shown saying the series was not a production of NBC News.

A UFO that was reported seen in the distance at night, not that large or detailed, would be depicted hovering almost over the witness's head, huge with bright lights.  

And there was a segment about the Sandra Mansi - Lake Champlain monster encounter (1977) in which she provided an indistinct photograph of what could've been a half-submerged log or tree some distance away in the water.  But during the reenactment they showed the monster close to shore, going eyeball-to-eyeball with Mansi.  Double Wheee!

Don't watch that TV crap.  Instead spend time at sites like Curt's where real research is being done, sorting out the scat from the candy.   And it isn't TV mind candy.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Bovine-Human Hybrid Fetus!


Since I'm supposed to be writing about topiX instead of my health problems and zining irritations...


I don't have cable TV so I miss out on the "good" stuff like the (non)fiction series UFO Hunters that originally aired on the History Channel from January 2008 through October 2009.

Instead I've been making do with — and sometimes struggling through  — UFO Hunters by William J. Birnes, a companion book to the series, courtesy of my local public library.  (I'm careful with purchases with my limited budget.  Of course, there is spending time on a book but I digress.)  Birnes, former publisher of the late UFO Magazine, gives behind-the-scenes insights into the filming of the docudrama series.

While skimming through this tome that covers topiX of dubious value like Bob Lazar, I came across a brief reference to a bovine-human fetus.

But no more details were provided.  I notice that the tome is designated "Book One," meaning that I have to read Book Two or Three to get the scoop on this shocking incident.

Or I could just Google and find out more.

According to the hits I encountered Birnes contends that the bovine-human fetus story was the reason why the UFO Hunters series was canceled.  When he appeared on Whitley Strieber's Unknown Country radio program on 2/13/2010 [ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gmHW3tu-Y4 ] he talked about the Dulce episode and the fight over showing the outre fetus images on TV.

There are all sorts of wild stories involving Dulce, New Mexico, including a DUMB (Deep Underground Military Base) installation where above-top-secret experiments are being conducted in creating human-alien hybrids.

A retired New Mexico state police officer contacted Birnes, providing the UFO hunter with photographs of a — to use Birnes' own words  — "human-bovine-maybe-something-else" fetus C-sectioned from a mutilated cow.  The former trooper said a helicopter was trying to collect the cow but the flashing lights from his car scared it off. 

Birnes says that his show had gone too far with this disturbing evidence: it had to be canceled because the truth was coming out.  Pharmaceutical companies are big advertisers on TV and they were particularly upset over the purported human-headed cow images.

He noted that after the Dulce episode aired some Congresspeople introduced a bill making it a federal crime to crossbreed humans and animals.

During his interview with Strieber Birnes complained that the History Channel was owned by a hierarchy of corporations all the way up to the Dreaded Disney.  Well, dance with the Devil and your foot gets stepped on by a hoof...

So the moral of the story: If you don't cowtow to The Powers That Be over the existence of mootants your career will be udderly destroyed.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Feedback Feedback


I do appreciate feedback but sometimes I have to respectfully disagree.

One reader was disturbed by my ranting in a couple of posts.  Hey, I'm not into that happy hippie shit.  Readers who have been here from the beginning know that I don't hold back eXpressing myself.  Rants are part of the great zine tradition.

And speaking of zine tradition one person said it looks unprofessional to loosely format my zine, i.e., if it only takes 2 1/2 pages to fill an edition then I'll leave the white space.

Zine = professionalism?

I have more important criteria whether or not a zine neatly fills each page like Time magazine.  I think easy-to-read type and layout is more important.

It was suggested I should fill in the white space with an illustration, making it as large or small as needed.  This reminds me of the old days of newspapers where the editor would throw in a pithy fact or quote - a filler - to avoid the dreaded white space.

With my blog I'm not worried about white space.  I write as long as needed.  And with that freedom I can't be bothered with the physical limitations of the dead tree format.

It's like with my photography.  It's a hobby.  Thanks to digital photo-editing I don't have to confine myself to the 5 X 7 or 8 X 10 format: I crop the image so that it looks good, not to fit a preconceived format like the bad old days of film and darkrooms.

I don't want to waste my time trying to please other people, cramming a round peg into their stupid square hole.

So when I print out a hardcopy zine there might be white space.  Lots of it.  Of course my paying subscribers might be upset.

All zero of them.

Summer Break


In this case "break" doesn't mean taking a rest from blogging and other activities.  The correct synonym would be crash.

I've been recovering from a severe viral infection that has lasted for weeks.  Before I was hit I wasn't that motivated to write, mentally tired.  Compound that with physical lethargy and my blog remains quiet.

I'm doing OK but it will be a while before I'm up to speed again.


Monday, June 16, 2014

Prefer A Zine?



If you're not a blog fan you can read my posts in zine format at https://sites.google.com/site/rayxzone/.  With each PDF file you can view an issue online or print it out and read it later.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Sports & Shakespeare


Image: http://bit.ly/1obARkP

(C) 2014 Ray X

I've always been lousy at conformity.

In a previous post I mentioned that I don't like the works of Shakespeare.  To most writers that's outright heresy.


I also don't like professional sports.  "Did you see the game last night?" No, I have an active independent mind.


I've seen attempts to make sports palatable to sci fi nerds.  One experiment was a 1960s comic book series called Strange Sports Stories.  It featured plots like this: a wimpy kid eats a mysterious berry and becomes a super high school athlete; a man playing golf on Mars who stops an alien invasion; a future society where playing sports is outlawed because it's too dangerous.  That last one involved some rebel athletes who save the day and have sports legalized again.  A very depressing ending.


My anti-pro-sports viewpoint doesn't mean I'm against exercise or anyone going out and playing a friendly game of softball.  The Olympics typify what I hate about pro sports: greed, unbridled capitalism, the push for conformity -- "You catch the Olympics last night?" -- illusions of grandeur, egotistical athletes, taxpayers being screwed when the Olympics chooses their city as a venue and bankrupts the place while the real operators walk away with the Big $...


So don't try to appeal to my SF interest by having a story about future Olympics, aliens competing against each other while the host planet is bankrupted by the event.


I was thinking the other day what other kind of mash-up could be made with sports.  I see it now: pro sports with a Shakespearean theme.


"There's the snap.  Quarterback Julius Caesar has the ball, looking for an opening.  Wait, what's this?  His teammates are surrounding him, taking daggers out from hidden pockets in their togas.  No, it can't be -- they're stabbing Julius!


"Julius falls to his knees.  He looks up at one of his teammates.  Wait, what is he saying?  Listen..."


"Et tu, Butkus?"