Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Don’t Think, Keep Marching







IMAGE: http://stripgenerator.com/strip/930082/the-marching-morons/


(From Ray X X-Rayer #130)

In the last issue I mentioned the term "marching morons."  For those who didn't get the connection I was referring to a short story by Cyril M. Kornbluth first published in the April 1951 edition of Galaxy Science Fiction.*

"The Marching Morons" opens in the future, a world where low IQ citizens greatly outnumber the intelligent class.  The simple-minded people need constant attention and care from their mental superiors.

But a solution to this problem is found when "Honest John Barlow," awakens from suspended animation.  Back in 1988 a dental accident induced a deep sleep in Barlow.  After acclimating himself to the future wheeler dealer Barlow thinks of a scheme to deal with the surfeit of the simple-minded.

Suddenly the public hears that traveling to other worlds has been perfected -- or so it's claimed.  Advertising and "news" articles urge people to travel to the paradise of Venus.  This compels everyone to there, their departure helping to reduce the growing number of the simple-minded.

(When this story was published it was thought that Venus and other planets might be similar to the earth in climate and atmosphere.  That was the conceit of Ray Bradbury's Martian Chronicles.) 

People who take the trip write back to friends and relatives with stories of how great Venus is.  Barlow remembers how Hitler had letters from concentration camps faked to hide the real conditions.

One of the simple class, Mrs. Garvy, is caught off guard by references to traveling to Venus.  A TV commercial uses the phrase "easy as a trip to Venus."  Puzzled she tells her husband that she thought no one could go to Venus after "that one rocket thing crashed on the Moon."  From what she remembers they gave up on space flight because it was too dangerous.  Her husband dismisses her, saying that women don't follow the news.

Barlow's scheme uses multi-media to dupe the simple-minded.  For example a new character is introduced on a TV soap opera, a master rocket pilot who handles the Venus run.  

With poor memories and a need for authority to do their thinking the human lemmings willingly march into their space coffins.

In light of recent events there's a key detail I should mention about the master manipulator, John Barlow.  Before he awoke in the future the opportunist was a real estate developer.



*A PDF copy can be found at this link:

  http://mysite.du.edu/~treddell/3780/Kornbluth_The-Marching-Morons.pdf


F*ck Chromebook and Google Docs



(From Ray X X-Rayer #130)


For the second and last time I’ve tried producing my zine, Ray X X-Rayer, on a Hamstrung Chromebook.  I can’t believe I’ve encountered more glitches using that system compared to Windows 10 and Word.

With the Chromebook I have to be extra careful when selecting text.  I wanted to only change one paragraph into italic and found the highlighting went beyond what I wanted.  So I selected the text I wanted back to normal, supposedly the correction was saved, and then emailed a copy of the file as Word to myself so I could proofread it on my seven inch Android tablet, making sure it looked OK on the smaller screen.

But when I open up the file the correction I made for changing italics to normal remained was missing.  I’m now editing this on my laptop using Word and I still have problems thanX to Google Docs.  Docs has fucked up the page numbering: page 1 is now page 0, page 2 is page 1.  It can’t be changed.  I tried unchecking the different first page option in Word but the glitch remains in the footer. I’m not wasting time in trying to fix that shit so no page numbers this time around.

Previously I emailed a copy to myself and found half of the zine’s contents missing.  So I had to email it a second time.

What I saved as plain text with Chrome is one block of text, no breaks, when I open up a copy in Windows.  Notepad is unable to insert the proper returns.  I have to open up the file in Jarte and save it as RTF to get the returns.  

I don’t want to keep screwing around to make Docs work properly in compatibility mode with Word.  My life is too short for this bullshit.

Another added bonus when using Chromebook offline: if you accidentally delete a file you can’t rescue it from a trashcan, it’s gone forever.

Chrome wordprocessing: word carving with a dull oversized blade.

Computers don’t fucking save time.


Note: I save vulgarities and obscenities for special occasions.



Dead In Winter



(From Ray X X-Rayer #130)


I have the perfect symbol to represent winters in the Plattsburgh, NY area.

Dead means "the middle" in the idiom dead of winter, referring to its long nights and cold killer temps. Lately during the day the mercury is a little above 0 degrees F/ -17 degrees C. At night the temp can take a double digit drop from that point.  Death does rule.

This time of year -- January -- is around the middle of the arctic season around here.  Winter usually drags on for six months.  April showers?  Forget it, you can still trudge through snow on the ground.  In fact the white death can even drop in May. Nothing says spring more than shoveling snow during Mother's Day weekend and suffering a heart attack.

And nothing says stupid more than bottom of the barrel superheroes.  At DC comics there is the Legion of Super Heroes, a top-notch group operating in the future when space travel is commonplace.  A Legion member is super-powered by accident or by the natural ability he was born with on his native planet.


Many apply for LSH membership but few are accepted due to their unimpressive abilities.  Take Dag Wentim -- Stone Boy -- from the planet Zwen.  Evolution has blessed his people with the ability to turn into stone, falling into suspended animation to deal with the long winters.

And how long are those winters?  Six months.  Just like around here.


Thursday, January 05, 2017

Technicality Could Block Trump From Swearing In



Technicality Could Block Trump From Swearing In

By Sue Doe, Ersatz News Service

A little known rule pertaining to the swearing-in of a new president might keep President-elect Donald Trump from gaining control of the White House.

The Founding Fathers wanted to prevent any unqualified “boy kings” from assuming the presidency after seeing the ensuing disasters with young rulers in Europe.  As reported Trump has stubby fingers and small hands.  The size of his hands must meet the requirement set forth by the swearing-in rules.  The hand he places on the special ceremonial Bible must at least fit the rough outline of an adult hand imprinted on the cover.

DC insiders claim Trump’s organization is trying to suppress this critical detail from the public.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Ramblin’ With Ray


(From Ray X X-Rayer #129)

© 2016 Ray Palm    25 December, 2016


Saturnalia greetings from my monastic cell. Actually on a day like this monastic tomb would be a better descriptor. There seems to be no one else around in this apartment building. I would be away myself but all my friends are busy with their families. As for me -- family -- what’s that?

Friends are important, at least the ones who count. There are also “friends” like those who compose 99.9% of your Facebook account.

An eXample of “friends”: I’m sitting at a table with a group of people I know, my seat between two women. The two women are discussing an upcoming show at the local planetarium. Being the helpful sap I am the use my Android tablet to get the information they need, location and show times. I mention I haven’t been to the planetarium in some time. Before I could say anything more one woman speaks right pass to me to the other one, asking if she would like to go. They make arrangements to meet up. I no longer exist.

So much for my social life here in Plattsfuck, NY.

For the most part no radio or TV lately for me. No special happy shows, movies, or music to remind me how isolated I am. I’ll glance at Google news in case something has happened like the world has blown up. (I hate it when no one sends me a memo about such events.)

Today I will pass my time writing another edition of my zine. I’m taking a break from buggy Windows 10, using a Chromebook and Google Docs. I would use Chromebook more often but there are certain programs like GIMP photo-editor missing from this OS. The available photo-editors on
Chromebook don’t offer the features I need.

Also this time no fancy layout or graphics, just text.

This edition will be one long essay. Back in the day when I was concerned about filling up space with my paperzine I would just add a few disparate thoughts under the title Ramblin’ With Ray.

Looking over the year I’ve produced a record number of issues with this ezine, 15 counting this one. Part of the reason is that I’m no longer tolerating the hell that is paperzine production, not dreading the effort of printing and snail mailing. Also I keep each edition short, much easier to manage.

Besides helping me get through long days of isolation this ezine provides a distraction when I need it. At the beginning of the year I was the health care proxy for a terminally ill friend. I had to make decisions for him when his mental capabilities were severely diminished. I don’t regret saying no to chemotherapy; radiation did nothing to help.

Maybe I’ll get through 2017 without any friends dying. Of course we all anxiously await the dawn of a new age starting on January 20th. This time around instead of brown shirts it will be red caps. The marching morons greatly value narcissistic sociopathy. They will keep making excuses or ignoring the facts right up to boarding a one way rocket to Venus.

* * *

Since the sun was out I took a break from this laptop to get some exercise and soak up some free Vitamin D. Of course in the dead of winter a sunny day can be deceptive, no cloud cover to control radiational cooling. That means being stuffed inside a protective parka, the vitamin D only entering through my half-frozen face.

I would prefer to live in a healthier climate but present circumstances don’t permit it. (If you’re tired of this downbeat writing send me money for my relocation fund. Or just read another zine.)

I brought along my camera which necessitated the removal of my gloves to take a shot. Frostbite nipping at my fingers. At least no one else was out walking around and only a few cars passed by. Empty streets with a lot of crows flying around. Maybe this will be the scene after the Orange Buffoon triggers World War III.

Anyway the temporary desolation today facilitated my photography. No one around to question my actions. I take shots of offbeat subjects, e.g., a glittering crushed soda can on the sidewalk. One time I was taking an image and a drunk hanging around a nearby bar asked me if I was some sort of artist. As opposed to him being a worthless piece of shit.

Moving on...

Time to review a couple of books that I’ve skipped through or skimmed, not completely read. I’m not one of those reviewers who pretends have finished a tome from cover to cover. I have a lot of half-unread books and articles so I have to prioritize my reading. Also with my partially damaged-by-winter-over the years brain my retention sucks and reading an entire book means more info that will get dumped for new info.

“The Hippie Trip” (1968) by Lewis Yablonsky provides a look at the then thriving flower power movement. Backed by his PhD in sociology Prof Yablonsky forgo armchair research and hit the road to see first hand what was happening, man. While approaching the “hippie world” with an open mind he discovered not everything was all flowers and sunshine.

At one commune some alpha male criminal types were like wolves among the hippie sheep. As Yablonsky observed no police, no safeguards against predators.

The Prof was also concerned about hippie parents giving their young children LSD to share in the psychedelic experience even though the young minds weren’t developed enough to handle the “turn on.”

Yablonsky: “In another situation I spent some time with a four-year-old who had been given LSD. The child seemed psychotic. She stared bug-eyed and from time to time jumped around in circles emitting sounds of stark terror.”

Note that Isaac Asimov referred to LSD as chemically induced psychosis.

“The Hippie Trip” includes a glossary of drop-out lingo. Here’s one for the comic books fans: “Clark Kent hippies: part-timers who live mainly in the straight society; weekend hippies.”

"One term not included in the glossary is “selective relating.” Only when it suited them did some hippie parents take care of their children. The parents were too busy getting high or tripping to be be bothered with child rearing.

Compare “selective relating” to the term yuppie parents used: “quality time.” Children got a few minutes of attention because their materialistic parents were too occupied making money and getting to the top. The excuse was quality counted more than quantity.

Chapter Fourteen is devoted to an interview with Charles E. Dederich -- "Chuck" -- founder of the Synanon movement. Yablonsky had examined the drug treatment program in a previous book (“Synanon: The Tunnel Back” 1965.) Yablonksy praised Chuck for being the genius who had helped thousands of people overcome addiction.

Chuck was among a group of ex-alcoholics given LSD in 1957 as part of a UCLA medical experiment. He stated his LSD experience had a profound positive effect on his life, leading to the creation of Synanon. Yablonsky spoke with him about concerns over excessive LSD use by hippies.

If you look up Synanon online you’ll find out how the group went from a drug treatment program to an alternative community to finally becoming a church -- actually cult is more appropriate term. Criminal cult. Mind control. Violence. Terrorism.

Synanon didn’t like one attorney who won a suit against the church. To show their displeasure Synanon followers put a rattlesnake -- minus its rattler -- in the attorney’s mailbox. He ended up hospitalized for six days.

The criminality resulted in Synanon collapsing. When he was arrested Chuck was drunk on his ass.

So much for LSD as a spiritual panacea.

Let’s switch from hippies to hepcats.

“The Voice of Eros - The Second Volume of the Pulse Creation Series” (1958) collects some of the writings of Ernest L. Norman, co-founder of the UNARIUS educational and scientific group. (Are there rings around it?)

For those who tuned in late the UNiversal ARticulate Interdimensional Understanding of Science tuned in late great personages such as Nikola Telsa, Sha-tok (Jesus of Nazareth), and Kung Fu through the clairvoyance of Mr. Norman. When he joined the celebrity club in the great beyond his wife Ruth took over until she deplaned from the earth plane in 1993.

There’s some interesting info about Ernest L. Norman on the back cover (About the Author.)

“Any attempt at a thumbnail biography which would accurately and fully portray the life of the author would be a gross disservice; sufficient to say the future history of the world will unquestionably prove the author to be, without exception, the greatest outlet of interdimensional cosmic knowledge the world has ever known; for he has indeed proven beyond the any question of doubt that he works with and from a higher world…

“This history resides in the many thousands of life testimonials of his students and although He makes no claim, they all know him as ‘the man of Galilee!’”

Yes, but I’m more humble than you are.

Now the personages from beyond Mr. Norman channeled were really aliens.

Apparently they physically dropped into our world to help out a bit and after their visits continued to provide help through channeling.

But if the words are spoken through Mr. Norman then how did he ever claim to be the author of this book? He would’ve only been a messenger. But he and his wife Ruth claim copyright on all writings supposedly repeated from our alien minders.

Anyway, getting back to the hepcat angle…

In Chapter 45 Robert Browning is bloviating through the ether about storehouses of knowledge on another world. Where? I don’t know, I only skim read this stuff. His nagging wife Elizabeth lurks in the background.

During his tour he comes to one particular center:

“Now we have finally arrived into the great hall of the huge section which is devoted to various types and forms of music. Don’t expect to see jive or bebop here. This type of music is strictly, as Elizabeth said, a degenerative form which is born out of some psychological principles of rebellion in the minds of the younger generation on the earth plane.”

How L 7, daddy-o.

Since Mr. Norman could get the dope on the future from his alien contacts I wonder if during his lifetime he targeted for ostracism death metal, punk or rap. Probably those music types generate bad vibes in the ether, man.

Maybe I’ll share some more wisdom from the Voice of Eros. It all depends on how much perusing I accomplish while sitting on the porcelain throne.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

How To Krampus Your Kid's Style For eXmas



How to lick bad manners with a disobedient child.

     Hey Mom and Dad, it's that time of year.  Let the psy op begin.  Time to unleash that Elf on the Shelf doll and mentally coerce Johnny or Janie into proper behavioral mode.
     For those parents who somehow never heard of Elf on The Shelf learn and join in the eXmas fun.
     The Elf is an anorexic doll around ten inches tall clad in a red and white outfit that evoke's Santa's sartorial style.  He can be placed at various locations in your home such as on top of a bookcase but only do this under the cover of night when the tiny one is in a sugar-induced coma.  Changing locations gives the impression to the young sucker that the Elf is alive.
     You tell your victim the Elf is a scout from Santa.  The Elf's assignment: keep on eye on children in that home.  At night the Elf flies to the corporate HQ at the North Pole (right next door to Superman's Fortress of Solitude), to report to Santa how well-behaved a child has been.  Of course it's the same threat once used directly with Santa: Behave or if Saint Nick knows you've been naughty no toys for you.
     Santa both nice and mean?  A little one can't grok the dualism.  It's like with God: the Great One can be fatherly and share love or he can be sociopathic and strike with eternal damnation.  What to do?  Well, have some another guy to sluff the bad stuff on.  Satan is really the meanie and if you fall for his wiles it's your fault, not dear old God.
     With Santa the negative aspects can be projected on the Elf on the Shelf.  A kid can blame the Elf for ratting him out.  His anger is directed at the Elf, not the Elf's boss.
     Besides getting your brat to behave it also trains him to accept the police state that Donald Trump will institute.  (This police state will prevent snide comments about Donald's small hands.)
     But there are limits to this psy op.  Occasionally a child isn't intimidated by a creature so much smaller than him.  How many parents have experienced an elfen backup with their toilets?
     When that psy op is blown it is time to go for another one, a tradition harking back to the early days of eXmas.  Put Krampus on the job.
Krampus is the original other guy to take the blame for Santa.  Like Santa he dates back to pre-Christian times.  (Once again evil paganism has been subsumed by a good religion.)
     Nothing says mind control more than a humanoid half-goat monster with a lolling tongue way longer than Gene Simmon's cow-tongue enhancement. 
     Just have the little naive one look at the computer at the Krampus images you've found through Google and tell him, "See, he's real."  If drawings don't work then show him photos from Krampus celebrations around the world, people dressed in demonic costumes and makeup.  Such events take place from Austria to Canada to even the USA (including Dallas, Texas.  That figures.)
     You can even buy a Krampus doll and then nocturnally relocate it around the home  to show Krampus is alive and watching.  Tremendously more impressive than that pussy Elf.
     The downside to all of this is when your child is old enough to realize you have been lying to him about Santa, Krampus, and Elf on the Shelf.  But isn't it worth the resentment to toughen him up to other lies that will be exposed, e.g.., the deception that the USA is a democracy?
     Feeling guilty about such cruel manipulation of a trusting child?  Don't worry.  You'll have plenty of time to atone when you wake up in hell.  : )

PHOTO: Anita Martinz - Perchtenlauf Klagenfurt

 https://www.flickr.com/photos/15501382@N00/312666589/


Thursday, December 01, 2016

Your Father’s An Earthling, Your Mother’s An ET



Need some SF artwork like this?  
Dom Monet, lifeonsaturnmusic@gmail.com .  
https://www.instagram.com/thedom1945/

Usually stories of visitor abduction and alien-human hybrid babies are told by women.  [1]  But sometimes men end up doing their part for ET experimenters.

There must be something about local councillors in England.  Adrian Hicks of Winchester City witnessed high strangeness one day back in 2004.  He saw an alien woman wearing a white ballet dress walking down the appropriately named High Street.  [2]  He held off for a few years before publicly announcing his experience.  Hicks had his own website (apparently it’s now dead) where he discussed all sorts of conspiracies such as Majestic 12 hiding the truth from the public about visitors. [3]

More recently there’s been the case of councillor Stimon Parkes of Whitby. [4] Like councillor Hicks Parkes has his own website discussing conspiracy theories and his unusual encounters with beings not of this earth. [5] Unlike the Winchester councillor Parkes claims he had fathered a hybrid with an ET female.

Parkes explained on a TV interview show that he engages in intercourse with an alien female four times a year.  His mistress is a mantid, a species of ET with mantis-like features.  Her name is Cat Queen and with her he sired a love child called Zarka.

Parkes is the father of three terran children.  He says his wife is upset with his extraterrestrial extracurricular activity.

But aliens don’t promote procreation with just the upper class.  Meng Zhaoguo also fathered an alien-human hybrid child when he lived out in the hinterlands of China working as a lumberjack. [6] One night Meng saw an object crash to the ground.  When he approached the impact point he was suddenly hit by something – “Foom!” to use his word – and he blacked out.

Later he found himself in bed at home, no idea how he got there.

A few nights later Meng had a sexual encounter but not with his wife.  He floated above his sleeping wife and copulated for 40 minutes with an alien woman.  When asked by reporter Michael Meyer to draw his unearthly sex partner Meng came up something that resembled a hirsute Michelen Man, the rubbery mascot of the Michelen tire company.

Whether or not the alien woman had radial treads didn’t matter.  Meng was told he was the father of a human-alien child.  (Apparently – in a contraceptive sense – the rubber didn’t hit the road.)

Usually such experiencers are met by public ridicule.  But not Meng who found himself befriended by others.  His fame allowed him to make connections and move to a city where he became employed a boiler and steam pipe maintenance man.  A better gig that swinging an ax all day.

Maybe one day Simon Parkes and Meng will be able to visit their children at an intergalactic nursery aboard a mothership invisibly circling the earth.



[1] Busy Time For The Mothership Nursery - https://efanzines.com/RXXR/RXXR-115.pdf

[2] http://xrayer.blogspot.com/2010/02/councillor-and-tutued-et-councillor.html

[3]  http://xrayer.blogspot.com/2010/02/councillor-and-fatally-flawed-timetable.html

[4] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2343983/Whitby-Councillor-Simon-Parkes-tells-ITVs-The-Morning-I-lost-virginity-alien-holographic-age-FIVE.html

[5] http://www.simonparkes.org/

[6]  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-meyer/chinese-lumberjack-alien_b_6986618.html

This Story Bugs Me




Back in the early days of comic books there was some “borrowing” going on as various companies ground out stories for a hungry market.

Over at Chester/Centaur/MLJ -- or whoever that week was the publisher -- there was a character called Dan Hastings.   An athletic type, all-American.  He worked with a scientific genius with a beautiful daughter.  The daughter joined in – basically she got captured – in Dan’s adventures.  When an intergalactic menace arose Dan hopped into his rocket and off he flew into outer space.  Gee, was this character a cheap knockoff of a popular spaceman featured in newspaper comic strips and movie serials?

Dan’s adventures can be found online via scanned copies, free to read on screen or to download for later perusal.  [ https://archive.org/details/webcomicuniverse ]

In one adventure Dan fights giant bugs from planet Plexis (is that near Solar?) in Dynamic Comics #10 (1944).  The ending is irritating, not a proper denouement.

The story involves “the child in danger” motif to the extreme.  Children of top Earth’s scientists are being attacked by boll weevils on super-steroids.  In the opening scene a baby is playing and a “hideous giant bug” stabs the innocent one with its nose lance, pinning the baby to the floor.  The parents rush into the room.  To their horror they find their offspring has been reduced to a baby skeleton.

Later at another top scientist’s home two children, brother and sister, are in bed but before they fall asleep a strange creature attacks.  In one panel we see the boy being speared by another giant bug, a close up showing the victim getting shafted in his gut. 
Mom and Dad rush in but each kid is just a pile of bleached bones.  Sorry, sis didn’t make it.

In another heartwarming scene a girl – another top scientist’s child – is kneeling by her bed, saying her prayers.

Her message to God is memorable: “I want to thank you for making me so pretty.  But daddy says you need brains in this world.  So could you please give me some.  Amen.”

Apparently God doesn’t like little girls reinforcing male chauvinist stereotypes so a special visitor arrives.  It ain’t her guardian angel.

In the next panel the girl is on her feet but not for long.  In silhouette we witness another colossal schnozzola shafting, right through the gut.  Her reaction: “Yaaaaaa!”



Time for Dan Hastings to get on the case.  Consulting with Dr. Zarkov – oops, Dr. Carter – Dan learns that all the victims of members of the Academy of Science. 

Arriving just in time he saves one child by punching the nose off the giant bug.  The critter’s reaction: “Arkkk!”  The bug flees and Dan tells the child’s father – a top scientist, of course – to “get your ray-visualizer machine going.” The ray-thingamajig tracks the bug to the planet Plexis.

On Plexis we meet the mad scientist behind the attacks: Dr. Strange. (No, Marvel/Disney, you’re not entitled to scream copyright violation.)  Apparently Dr. Strange is POed at the Academy of Scientists for outlawing him because of “his insane practices.”  That means he can’t join in the Academy’s reindeer games.

His latest insane practice: add a company of chemicals and – PHOOF – instant giant bug monsters.

Knowing that Dan Hastings is on the way the Strange has his giant bugs capture Dan’s squeeze, Dale Arden – uh, Gloria Carter.  Somehow they transport Gloria through outer space sans ill effects despite the fact there’s no air and lots of radiation out there.

After landing on Plexis Dan knocks the nose off another mutant boll weevil.  He tells the bug: “Here’s something worth arking about.”

In the mad doc’s lair Gloria is tied up to a pillar. Dr. Strange says he’s going to inject her with his special dissolving serum, the same juice his bugs use to reduce kids into skeletons.  Our hero crashes through a window (without any cuts), ready for action, wearing his bright red onesie.  The mad doc gets ready to hit Flash Gordon – I mean Dan Hastings – with a bottle of his nasty serum.  Dr. Strange holds the bottle over his head to launch it.  But Dan stops him by throwing an object that looks like a potato masher at the glass container, breaking it.  The serum spills over the villain, doing its skeletonizing stuff.

Or does it?  We never see what has happened to Dr. Strange.  Dan and Gloria run off and then blast off, reciting the usual denouement clich├ęs in Dan’s rocketship. 

I checked to see if the story was a reprint.  Through some digging I located what appears to be the first publication of the story in a scanned copy of Scoop Comics #2 (1941).  Comparing the two versions I noticed minor artistic and coloring changes were made with the reprint.  But the original story still had the same ending.

If the villain was reduced to a skeleton why would that be less shocking than the bare bones of his child victims?  Maybe the freelance comic book staff loathed children, toiling in a sweatshop studio while putting out crap for bratty kids.  Some of them could have been married with crying babies at home, no more marital relations, pitiful men reduced to uxoriousness.

Another explanation pops up with a one page text story included in Scoop but not reprinted in Dynamic.

It’s been said if a comic book publisher wanted cheaper second class mailing rates two pages of text had to be included in each issue to meet postal regulations.  Usually the text pages were black print on a garish yellow background to make it less appealing to read.  It’s also been noted that these text stories were hardly ever perused by readers who were attuned to the words and artwork format, the art by itself telling most of the story.


The text story, “The Return of Dr. Strange,” opens right after the ending of the illustrated story.  Dr. Strange is dissolving, a victim of his own serum.  Dan and Gloria run off without making sure the mad doc is really dead.  (And you thought villains were stupid this way, capturing the hero in a death trap and then just leaving, never assuming the hero might free himself.)

It’s explained that while Dr. Strange was dissolving he managed to grab some of his bug monster creating serum.  This saved his life but transformed him into a feathered  monster.  Dan faces the mad doc on earth.  This time he kills off Strange’s dreadul new form by using acid again.

In the text story no children are dissolved and killed.  Apparently the one page limitation excluded such fun family entertainment.

OK, the editor decided not to show Strange dissolving in the word-and-art version, keeping the villain’s true fate as a surprise for the text story.  But this still could’ve worked with just one panel showing the dissolving villain looking kinda mushy in silhouette.   After all it wouldn’t be as bad as seeing children brutally stabbed by giant pointy proboscises.

Without witnessing the graphic comeuppance of Dr. Strange his child victims are exploited, stuck with the dirty end of the proboscis.

Does that lack of a proper anti-climax bug you, man?

*  *  *

 Sweet dreams, little ones.

How many nightmares did this crap induce in impressionable young readers?


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

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Lloyd Penney: A Letterhack's Life



So how did Lloyd Penney became a prodigious letterhack generating up to 30 LOCs (letters of comment) a month, his name becoming a fanzine omnipresence?

In 1997 Lloyd was living in Victoria, British Columbia when he discovered a local Star Trek Club. His membership gave him a taste for science fiction fandom's social conditions.

Lloyd: "I wanted to be a part of things, and I wanted to learn about this hobby/way of life. I was very much a loner as a kid, and I wanted to change that."

He was a loner because he skipped a year in early in his schooling, finding himself among peers not his age.  He was physically smaller than the other kids, another reason why he didn't fit it.  No one wanted to associate with him.  With nothing in common with his he peers had to create his own entertainment.

His interest in science fiction lead to reaching out to others through writing to SF fanzines.  Friends told him letter columns were the heart of fandom.

Lloyd: "Responding to as many fanzines as I can gives me as many contacts as I can get. I also wanted to be in the heart of things. I can look back and say that I have won my share of letterwriting awards, but I do have my doubts about being in the heart of things in the lettercolumn."

He moved to Toronto, enrolling in an university to pursue a journalism degree.  He wanted to express himself while making a living in journalism.  Despite earning a BAA degree a journalistic career didn't work out for him so he continued with his interest in SF fandom, meeting more people in fan publishing.  He became involved in publishing the local APA (amateur press association) zine.

Lloyd: "While I was enjoying getting an apazine published, I guess I thought a larger audience would be better for me, so I left APAs to join fanzine fandom."

He started slowly, learning how to write a good LOC along the way.

Lloyd: "I found different ways of responding, of using the language, and I think my writing style is more conversational, maybe more flowery. I try to vary my style, but I often find that my writing will resemble the style of the faned I am responding to. I have always tried to insert some personal journalism into my letters. In some ways, I don’t need a blog; if you want to learn what’s going on in my life, ready my LOCs."

He has won the FAAn Award five times for Best Letterhack.

Lloyd: "The reaction to my winning was jubilation here, but I found the reaction from others in fanzine fandom to be mixed. Some were congratulatory,others did not react at all, and some outright objected. Perhaps I wasn’t part of their group, perhaps they thought I should not have won, and I did get a few outright hostile e-mails."

In some cases Lloyd was still the loner.  But he pressed on.

Lloyd: "I look back at it all, and hope that I won because of the quality of my writing, but some thought it was quantity of LOCs."

After decades of letterhacking Lloyd is considering reducing his output.

Lloyd: "I have enjoyed writing for fanzines, having been in the letter column for about 35 years now. However, I am perhaps getting a little tired of it all, and of getting little if any appreciation for doing so. I have promised myself that I will slowly reduce the number of fanzines I respond to. I would like to be around when all the zines come crashing down, leaving only memories, and I think that time is not far away. Until it arrives, I will continue to talk to my friends via the locol."


(Originally published in Ray X X-Rayer #126)


Creator As Destroyer




REVIEW: The X-Files - The Event Series (Season 10)


George Lucas was criticized by some for wrecking Star Wars when he made the prequel trilogy.  Everything he had built up in the first trilogy collapsed.

Chris Carter, meet George Lucas.  

Chris tried to continue his X-Files TV series as a theatrical movies series.  The last one was disappointing: X-Files - I Want A Refund.

So back to the small screen.

The first season of the X-Files started off with a relatively simple premise: evil aliens are working with the US government.  Then as the series continued Chris kept adding to his "mythology," adding more details until it was too convulated to explain even to some fans.  He was like a crazed house builder, adding on new extensions and wings that sometimes connected back to each other, creating not a home but a maze.

Thirteen years later Chris brings back his creation as a six episode mini-series.  As with each season of the original series he bookends the latest run, the first episode introducing a new revelation and the last one ending up with a cliffhanger.

Even Chris has said the X-F mythology grew spontaneously, no master plan, resulting in an entangled mess.  Black oil, alien bounty hunters, alien rebels, disease-carrying bees -- the list goes on ad nauseam.  If the series had started more recently it would somehow throw in the ice bucket challenge.

It seems Chris wanted to go back to a simpler set-up with the first episode of Season 10.  Fox Mulder learns that everything he thought he knew about the alien invasion is wrong; the whole thing is a governmental hoax.

Sound familiar?  This same plotline was used in Season 5's first two episodes, Redux 1 and 2.

Chris has stated that with the latest season he wasn't bound to everything that went on before.  Apparently he wanted a simpler set up. Ergo black oil, alien bounty hunters, etc. were flushed down a black hole.

So the conspiracy is now more earthbound, humans not aliens are the villains.

Ho hum.

Somehow Mulder and his partner -- former redhead Dana Scully -- are re-instated in the FBI, the X-Files reopened.  Sorry, that's too convenient and implausible considering Mulder's previous shenanigans.  It would be more believable if he continued with his own X-Files, sometimes being an consultant to the FBI.

Somehow the lead villain, the Cigarette Smoking Man, is back.  Huh?  The last time we saw him was enveloped in flames.  There would nothing left but a carbon smudge.  Maybe he went to hell but Satan kicked him out for violating the no smoking policy.

The mini-series reintroduces the concept of alien DNA present in humans but the concept is tweaked again.  Also there's the return of the global plot to wipe out most of mankind with disease while the elite survive.  Last episode in Season 10, the cliffhanger: disease is rampant, the world is in chaos, Mulder is infected and dying.  His partner Scully is trying to save him but she's startled to see an alien space craft hovering overhead, apparently showing up to abduct her.  Again.

Ho-hum.

I think Chris should have followed DC Comics' example and hit the reboot button, destroying the entire universe to start anew.

Not all is lost with Season 10.  If you enjoyed the comedic episodes of the X-Files then "Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster" is recommended.  Not as great as "Jose Chung's From Outer Space" but fairly close.



(Originally published in Ray X X-Rayer #126.)

Thursday, September 29, 2016

SF BSer: The Wrong Hugo

During my last year of college I belonged to a science fiction fan club.  The group was small but the members knew the basics about SF.  There was no need to explain that the Hugo Awards were named after Hugo Gernsback who popularized science fiction through his Amazing Stories pulp magazine.

One time I was hanging around a bar and another student asked me if I was into science fiction.  I said yes.  He brought over a friend who was supposedly a SF authority.

This expert with his nose up in the air started bloviating, mentioning the Hugo Awards.  I asked him where the name Hugo came from.

The self-proclaimed authority cooly replied: "The awards are named after Victor Hugo who wrote the science fiction novel The Hunchback of Notre-Dame."


Hugo Gernback wearing his TV glasses
Early VR



(From Ray X X-Rayer #125)

Tunnel Vision



Can you name all 49 states of the United States of America?

You know that there are 50 states?  Apparently you missed the 240 time storm.

Back in 2002 someone envisioned a new take on the 1960s TV series Time Tunnel.  The original series followed the adventures of two scientists lost in time.  In the original pilot film the viewer is taken inside Project Tic-Toc, a Department of Defense base hidden below an Arizonan desert.

Producer Irwin Allen wanted to impress viewers with the size of Tic-Toc.  It's 800 stories deep with 36,000 personnel.  During the following episodes we only saw the control console used by scientists tracking the lost travelers through time; no mention of the 36,000 other personnel.

With the population of a small city I wonder what all those people did.  How did the US government supply the hidden base with food, water and other necessities?  How was garbage and waste disposed?  I would hate to see what happened if everyone flushed the toilets at the same time, 800 stories of discharge.

The 2002 remake did away with the impressive but useless scale of the original.  The time travel operation is smaller, operated by the Department of Energy.  In the original pilot Tic-Toc was set up to discover a way to time travel.  In the remake the discovery is by accident.   DOE is screwing around with nuclear fusion and it creates a time storm.  For 240 minutes history is changed outside the DOE facility.  Only the people near the fusion tunnel remember a world with 50 US states.

I've complained the theatrical version of the 1960s TV series The Man From UNCLE changed the set-up so much it had nothing to do with the original.  With the 2002 Time Tunnel pilot the same thing happens but unlike the UNCLE movie most of the changes were for the better.

In contrast to the original TT the new version allows for changes in history.  The main character, Doug Philips, has a wife and two children.  Lurking in the background is the possibility he might badly influence history and his family would no longer exist when he returns to his own time.

In the first adventure former Marine Doug Philips is recruited, joining a team traveling back to World War II to the scene of a key battle.  Apparently the time storm has screwed things up by transporting someone forward from 1520 to 1944.  The team has to find the displaced person and fix the changes his presence causes.

To blend in the team are disguised as US soldiers -- including two attractive women.  They arrive during the daytime and no one notices how feminine these two pseudo-soldiers appear.  Hard to buy that detail.  It would be like if the team had to return to WW II disguised as WACs.  A real drag for the guys.

Despite this flaw the pilot did merit a series but the Fox TV network gave it a pass, never airing it.  But Fox did air godawful pilots for Doctor Who, Generation X, and even Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD with David Hasselhoff as the lead. (The best way to watch Hassellhoff‘s portrayal of Fury is with two eyepatches, one for each eye.)

The 2002 Time Tunnel can be viewed courtesy of YouTube.  It's worth a look.  Better than watching a Boston Yankees game.



(From Ray XX-Rayer #125.)