Light in the Bushel No. 4 - February 1987
Bread in My Jar logo by Taral
Dave Szurek
914 W. Willis
Detroit, MI 48201
At age 30--that was almost ten years ago--retirement was the furthest thing from my mind, perhaps because I didn't have a "career" yet, having just started college and accepting whatever happened to be available that month to put food on the table. At 30, I was not a very job-oriented person and I'm still not a certifiable workaholic. In the past, I've never failed to take advantage of unemployment compensation. At one point, that means of income ran out before I was able to find another job, and I even resorted to a stigmatized creature called General Assistance, so you might say I retired even younger than 30. Currently, I am working in the "Human Service" field --a substance abuse counselor, with plenty of past personal experience from which to draw. Because of the cutbacks, I am still part of the "Working Poor." Substance abuse counselors aren't exactly the highest paid people in the country.

Concealed weapons are quite common in Detroit. I don't make an everyday practice of carrying them, but there have been "special occasions." One was right after I'd been mugged, learned that the mugger lived in the neighborhood, and found myself developing a paranoid frame of mind. Carried a blade in my pocket at all times for a few weeks--luckily never had to use it, and I'm damn thankful that nobody took me by surprise back then, for I'dve had an instant reflex reaction, and before I even know who they were...

More recently--in relation to my substance abuse work--I had to bar a guy who came in smashed and proceeded to hassle innocent people. As he left he loudly announced plans to get back at me via murder. Although he didn't pull it, he showed me the handle of his gun just before splitting. I thought nothing of it until I learned he was a professional hoodlum often considered by the locals as ultraviolent and suspected of suffering from a mental problem. He'd allegedly even been an "insufficient-evidence" murder suspect a little while before then.

I found myself packing a knife for protection. Unfortunately--or depending on how you look at it, maybe it was fortunate--I didn't/don't have a gun, although I thought of getting one and I'm a nonviolent person under ordinary circumstances. The big anticlimax came about a week and a half later. I was heading for the bus stop after the end of my work day when who should come up the cross street at such proximity that we almost bumped into one another, but the threatener? Too late to turn back, I told myself, and clenched the object in my pocket. Why, that motherfucker--after raising such sound and fury, he didn't so much as flash a look of recognition. Apathetically muttered "Excuse me," without looking into my face, and continued on.

Funny reactions I've had when I thought I was going to die? The first time I'd overdosed on cocaine. Was only about 22, you know. The whole thing went swimmingly for a while and I hadn't made any rational connection to the fact that it looked like I was never going to come down. Finally began crashing while alone in my apartment. Powerful chest pains, mighty uncomfortable "head rushes," marked difficulty breathing, almost equal difficulty ambulating and although I felt a terrible need to vomit, all I managed was a dry retch. Whether heart failure or a stroke would get me first, I didn't know, but either way, I knew I was a goner--and strange thing is that all of a sudden I wasn't very concerned about passing on per se, but I was very concerned about the possibility of going alone, or even in the company of strangers. Seeking aid from one of my neighbors--if I could manage it physically--struck me with distaste, for I imagined an ambulance arriving before I'd had a chance to say goodbye to my friends. That was the terrifying thought. Luckily, a friend dropped by almost immediately, and rushed me over to the local hospital emergency room. Even though it was under protest as I felt there were still people for me to see.

The other time happened when a pair of burglars broke into my apartment while I was at home. After tying up my wife and I they searched the place and, finding nothing they considered of value, they grew enraged. One exchanged his knife for a pistol which he put to my temple and began alternating between threats and racial slurs. (He was black. I was, and continue to be, white.) Funny thing--I had no doubt he was going to pull the trigger, but it wasn't fear I felt. Instead, I was overcome with concern for my wife and intense anger at not having been left with the option of choosing my means and time of departure. Had my hands been free I'd no doubt have tackled the guy with all manner of what they call savage fury, and if I'd managed to get the gun away, use it myself. I was that angry!! After a few minutes of fancying that he had made Whitey grovel, though, he withdrew the weapon, instructed me on how to get loose--"but it will take a few minutes and by that time we'll be gone!"--and split.

Twice when I've been mugged, I had no thoughts of being killed or even undergoing serious injury, provided I played my cards right, and I didn't even feel fear, just a healthy respect for the other dude's weapon. I don't know if I'd been thrown into a state of shock or what, but quite frankly, I felt nothing! Only later on did the impact of what had just happened hit me, and then I commenced shaking.

Fan politics bored me even when I was more active in fandom. When it comes to "mundane" politics, I hardly see the subject as fun, but I think it's something we have to pay attention to if we care what happens to us or anyone else. Some people become activists just because they want a place to hang out and some because they really want to accomplish something. But, once politics is perceived as something having power over daily lives rather than just as an abstract ritual going on behind closed doors on Capitol Hill, I don't think anyone but a corpse can afford to be apolitical.

Bruce Gillespie
GPO Box 5195AA
Melbourne, Vic. 3001
Australia
I enjoyed the convention report, and the comments about skiffy, but what really got to me was your reporting of Teresa Nielsen-Hayden's remark on "how likely one was to devote one's life to fandom, and suddenly realize you're 30 and have missed out on an education and a career." This seemed to sum up a few of the things you were trying to say about yourself, and the comment echoes my own experience. In my case, the figure is 40, not 30. I gained the education all right, but it's never earned me anything like a career. I had my most recent 9-to-5 job in 1973, and have done mainly freelance editing, typesetting, writing, etc., since then. I've even been offered regular jobs. But I've always wanted to keep that hole of time somewhere in the middle of my life, the space that allows me to keep publishing fanzines. Great; that's usually worked. The only trouble is that, for long periods of time, I've not had the money to publish the fanzines I've made time for publishing.

But that's not quite what you're saying, is it? Sometimes a person does not have the choice, and you feel just a bit shaky about the edges.

Milt Stevens
7234 Capps Avenue
Reseda, CA 91335
In reference to Teresa Nielsen-Hayden's comment on people devoting their lives to fandom and missing out on an education or a career, I don't think I really know anyone who has really done that. I know people who haven't been very active in pursuing an education or a career and happen to be involved in fandom, but I don't think that they would have become 105% Yuppies if they hadn't been involved in fandom. I would accept that many fans are not highly motivated by money. Maybe that's why fandom has a lower rate of suicide and various other mental problems than the general population does.

John Shirley says that fan personalities are "malformed, soft and inchoate." I had to look up "inchoate." For those of you who didn't know what it meant either but didn't give enough of a damn about what John Shirley was talking about to look it up yourselves, "inchoate" means "Only partially in existence." Shirley to the contrary, I feel my personality is malformed and solid as a rock. He should try changing my opinion on something and he'll find out just how unsquishy I am. Shirley apparently uses fascist as just a general insult word. If I had to describe Jerry Pournelle's politics, I would probably describe it as Bullmoosism (a la Teddy Roosevelt). You may not like that approach to things, but it still isn't fascism.

Robert Whitaker Sirignano
P.O. Box 11240
Wilmington, DE 19850
Your descriptions of having relationships in order to have something to do is very familiar to me, and I've had a few that were on that level. A couple were ghastly. I suspect that one of the women (she was not very bright or perceptive and had a case of amnesia from a car accident) married someone because he asked her. Not that she had any reason to marry him. He beat her. But no one else asked her.

Brad Foster is a genius with a pen.

I'm thinking better of paying what I did for The Improbable Irish a few years ago. Ned Brooks sold me a hardcover copy of it for $10. Nice clean dust-jacketed copy.... ((Damn! Don't tell Walter....))

John Berry
4 Chitterns.
S. Hatfield,
Hertsd ALIO 8JU
United Kingdom
I was amazed to read that your retirement commences at 30 years of age (you hope) and that grizzled veteran and man of letters Harry Warner managed the mandatory 60 years. I will have you know that I am almost 61 years old and have no retirement plans for another five years--this in itself is probably proof of incipient senility.

I certainly do like the account of the Austin affair, and may I say I also belong to that fannish fraternity who believe that detailing one's personal problems in fanzines is extremely therapeutic. However, I doubt the wisdom of the confession that you are a Kelly Girl; such admissions are taken out of context and duly appear in back-cover quotes.

((It occurs to me to wonder idly what the words "Kelly Girl" might be taken to mean over there. This is as good a place as any to note that I am no longer a Kelly Girl. The company was not happy with their policies, and arranged a deal for me with another agency. The upshot is that, after less than a year am an office temp, I'm making what I did after five years at KDBC-TV.))

Chester D. Cuthbert
1104 Mulvey Avenue
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Canada R3M 1J5
I agree with Harry Warner's comments about retirement. My retirement years have been the best of my life, principally because of freedom from the restrictions imposed by employment of any kind. There in no doubt that Albert Camus gives good advice to people who enjoy being involved in the process of living (your quote at the end of your fanzine)--"One must not cut oneself off from the world." However, loners like me are quite satisfied with family and a few friends; we have no wish to join in group social activities, preferring to choose our own ways of employing our time, and living only at second-hand in books and recorded music. Very nicely done (Sheryl Birkhead) This gives us a special perspective without the stresses of emotional contact with others, and I think such a philosophy is suitable for passive natures. It does lead to a fatalistic philosophy, but that, too, can be a relief from the burdens of free will. We accept things as they happen.

Terry Jeeves
230 Bannerdale
Sheffield
S11 9FE
United Kingdom
Striking cover ((Steven Fox's for LITB2))--which with the addition of color might have graced the cover of a 1930's Astounding--ah, nostalgic days.

Walt Willis
32 Warren Road
Donaghadee BT21 OPD
Northern Ireland
I was greatly impressed by the account of the drive from El Paso to Austin. It reminded me of all sorts of things, from my own thunderstorm in Wyoming in 1952, to William Shakespeare; the latter partly because your "cross winds" reminded me of the monster in Forbidden Planet, which in turn reminds me of the daffodil which "takes the winds of March with beauty." I have this clear picture of the fierce wind being brought up short and rearing back before the daffodils, reminiscent in turn of Beauty and the Beast.

Harry Warner, Jr.
423 Summit Avenue
Hagerstown, MD 21740
The first thing I got from the third Light in the Bushel was the same sensawonda that comes when astronomers describe distances between galaxies. The concept of your driving hard and fast for nine hours and still remaining in the state of Texas is wild for a person who has spent his life in the mid-Atlantic states. I can pull away from the curb in front of my home in the central part of Hagerstown and reach either Pennsylvania or West Virginia in a quarter-hour despite observing the low speed limits most of the distance. ((So who's the Wimpy Zone now, eh?))

I was glad to read about Pat's wedding, both because of the entertaining way you described it and because I'm always happy when a fan goes against custom and actually marries the individual he or she loves. I hope someone somewhere publishes a picture of that beanie-equipped veil.

I wonder how many people who vote on things do as Alexis Gilliland suggests they do, let their decisions be conditioned in part by guesses on who will be the winners. In my case, I never do it, in either fannish or mundane circumstances. But I suppose some people don't want to lose their votes, the local way of describing what happens when you vote for someone or something that obviously has no hope of winning, and some other people may be so anxious to conform that they can't bear the thought of not voting like the majority.

((Personally, if my favorite seems to stand small chance of winning, that merely confirms me in my support. After all, votes like mine are the only chance it has!))

Alexis Gilliland

Ian Covell
2 Copgrove Close
Berwick Hills
Middlesbrough
Cleveland TS3 7BP
England
Both the wedding and the convention sound great fun. None I've gone to (only three in all) have contained even mildly vicious arguments, which is why I'm always puzzled by the antipathy I sometimes find expressed in certain fanzines. It always seems a bit odd to decry someone's paper personality (why not just stop reading them?). Which leaves face-to-face personalities--which means conventions, the presumed (by me) source of real hatreds. However, since everyone I've ever met both wanted to be there, and wanted to talk about things I found of interest, how can you grow to "hate" them simply on words exchanged? Weird.

I've only read one Robert Adams book, but if it is a symptom of the rest, no wonder Effinger wants the series, and Mr. Adams, stopped. I could think of other authors I'd like to stop writing, but only because (a) they are taking up space that more agreeable authors could fill, or (b) they are promoted solely because they don't affect the current status quo in sf, that is, none of the book's elements contravene the strictures in sexual politics, et al. ((I picked up a couple of Horseclans books once, and my God, no wonder the series has no end in sight. It doesn't have any beginning, either. The whole thing is one damned middle...))

Mike Glicksohn
508 Windermere Avenue
Toronto, Ontario H6S 3L6
Canada
Sounds like a typical fan wedding, with little mixing between Us and Them. That's certainly been the nature of the few fannish weddings I've attended and in general I think I'm in favour of splitting things into two ceremonies if it's possible. That way everyone has fun without feeling inhibited or affronted by members of the other group. (Of course, I recognize the problems inherent in this approach. Perhaps the best thing to do is simply skip the marriage ceremony altogether since most fans end up getting married more to please their families than for anything else. And that's always struck me as a stupid reason for a marriage. To get lots of good presents; that's a reason I can understand!)

You are completely correct in assessing the main problem with the Fan Hugos. But that doesn't mean that we have to give up at least trying to make them more valid. Regrettably they seem to be becoming more and more of a political football (as with Universal Translator this year) but until someone else puts forth a motion to drop them altogether I'll still take an active interest, I'll try to get others to vote more intelligently and I'll participate myself in the entire process. (I won't put forth a motion myself because I almost enjoy the quixotic task of making them valid awards but I'd probably support such a motion this time around. And something tells me I won't have to wait too long...)

Don D'Ammassa
323 Dodge St.
East Providence, RI 02914
Despite the two letters in SFC, it appears no one has understood the the point I was making. I neither nominate nor vote for Fan Hugos, nor am I particularly interested in receiving one, for two reasons.

1. I think the whole idea of sitting around and voting awards for ourselves is silly. I realize that this in counter to my participation some years earlier in the Faan Awards bit, but I think I've gotten a clearer picture of reality since. Certainly my opinion has changed. I think that the competition for awards tends to make contenders mediocre and bland.

2. The way the Hugos are voted for is senseless anyway, and I'm not talking about the Australian ballot. When such a small number of people can affect the outcome of an election on a REGULAR BASIS, the award is meaningless.

I don't happen to think the ad was the beat method of dealing with the issue, and I would have phrased the ad differently if I had written it, but the point is that the Fan Hugos are a joke, have been for years, and continuing to give them to people under these circumstances just cheapens them further, and frankly doesn't pay any compliment to the recipients either.

John Purcell
30856 Agoura Road #E-10
Agoura Hills, CA 91301
In my mind a "straight vote" of Which Is Best--one vote, gang, that's all you get--should be the system to use. Unfortunately, when an admitted campaign like Katharine Scarritt's is run to "score points" (as you beautifully put it), this "straight vote" is rendered meaningless. I think Mike Glicksohn has the best idea I have heard yet--use a point system. The highest point total wins. In case of a tie, well, why not?

Of course, we could go way back to an idea I proposed years ago: abolish the Fan Hugos. What with worldcons becoming more and more media-oriented these last five years or no, my personal belief is that the Fan Hugos have become meaningless and exercises in futility for those deliberately trying to win a Hugo. Furthermore, in LASFAPA #120, Lew Wolkoff made a tongue-in-cheek comment that if Lan's Lantern can win a Fan Hugo, then why not LASFAPA? Fans being fans (silly creatures that they are), they would think this a grand idea to poke fun at the system and do it! I would wager LASFAPA could garner close to 100 votes from current-and-previous members of the apa. Who knows? Maybe someone should do this to point out the idiocy of not only the Australian Ballot but also how totally meaningless the Fan Hugos have become. I say let the worldcons award pro and semipro awards (the Hugos) and at the same event the fans should have their own awards ceremony; the FAAn Awards. (Yes, resurrect them, and I'll probably get screamed at for this cockamamy idea ... ((See Ted White in FILE 770:62 for Nycon 3's experience on this.))

Ruth Berman
2809 Drew Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55416-4209
Regarding your comment that Lester del Rey refused the posthumous Hugo for his wife Judy "for very proper reasons"--you know, I wonder if the reasons are proper. Understandable and forgiveable, yes, indeed. But it strikes me that pointing out that the award really should have been awarded while she was still alive isn't a good reason for rejecting the award (if the award is actually deserved, which of course it is). If it doesn't mean anything to him, it might to some other of her relatives. The feeling of hurt that led to rejecting the award is easy to understand, but I have a feeling in a few years more he may wish he'd simply accepted the honor done her, even though it was done too late, so that it would be on the record of awards given. (Of course, it's on the record anyway, but the record of awards refused, although fascinating in its way, isn't quite the same thing.)

Pamela J. Boal
4 Westfield Way
Charlton Heights
Wantage
Oxon. OX12 7EW
United Kingdom
I suppose technically speaking your light would have to be in the bushel. Pouring eight gallons of corn or fruit over a light would inevitably result in said light being in, rather than merely under. Of course if the bushel was first placed in a container the light could surely be under but surely it would be under the container rather than the bushel? Personally I believe the nature of the bushel is more important, fruit such as apples could well leave enough air for an oil lamp to continue burning and might let some light through. Grain on the other hand would extinguish the lamp. Being a modern fellow your light would come from an electric lamp. I suppose if it had sufficient wattage it could generate enough heat to pop the corn. Yes indeedy, the nature of that bushel is important. ((You know, this is the sort of high-toned scientific discussion that got me into fanzines in the first place...))

We Also
Heard From
HARRY ANDRUSCHAK drops a card...SHERYL BIRKHEAD is a regular pen pal ... I usually end up wishing I could make room for BUCK COULSON's entertaining accounts of his travels...RICHARD FAULDER's problem with the Australian Ballot in that "somebody like Marty Cantor is going to start talking about Australian cultural imperialsim" ... FERK was so startled to receive LITB3 she rushed to the calendar to see what year it was. Ha ha. It's 1987 now, Ferk...DAVID HEATH notes idly how some pieces of fan art seem to live multiple incarnations...LUCY HUNTZINGER reviles Dennis's notorious Inquirer piece, but hopes he'll make a good husband regardless...BEN INDICK thinks certain individuals have been less than gracious to the eventual Fanzine Hugo winner...NEIL KADEN thinks my lost pickup has the makings of fannish folklore...ROBERT LICHTMAN notes in passing that he found LITB2 "more literate and interesting than I remember your first issue being"...An envelope addressed to the "Odd Newspaper Clippings Dept." hails from RAY NELSON (or "the headgear's alleged inventor," quoth the Frisco Examiner), bearing such goodies as the Nebula article excerpted earlier. Fish is mentioned...MAE STRELKOV says I'd never have gotten my truck back in one piece in her neighborhood ... DAVID THAYER mentions his alter ago is working on something called Wing Nuts Go Hawaiian. Trimming this loccol has been a bitch.



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