Rotsler Award Exhibit at Worldcon 75

Photographer Eric Wong granted John Hertz’ wish to see how his Rotsler Award exhibit was displayed at Worldcon 75.

The exhibit took a circuitous route to Helsinki, the banners rolled in a mailing tube and delivered by Hertz at Westercon to Seth Breidbart for relay at NASFiC to Worldcon Vice-Chair Colette Frozard; she to give to W75 Exhibits Deputy Div. Head Terry Neill.

John adds, “Rick Kovalcik of Boston helped arrange by E-mail.  He and I co-wrote an explanation of putting up the banners, and a request they not be confined to the Fanzine Lounge but placed where everyone could see them, as was done at MAC 2.”

The last leg of the exhibit’s journey will be when Chris Marble brings the banners home.

Where Are We?

By John Hertz: (reprinted from Vanamonde 1234 – which is, he notes, “the last sequentially numbered issue until the year 2038”)

Troubling me about fandom these days is not so much young folks’ failing to heed old folks and old folks’ failing to heed young folks but more generally our failing to Look out!  By which I don’t mean Something will hurt you any second now but, as I sometimes put it, Be bigger than your immediate adventure.  This is of course an element of human nature evident across cultures and eras.  Diversity magnifies it.  It’s related to What haven’t I thought of?– a question which can’t be answered but is nevertheless vital so had better be managed – here diversity helps – and Why wait to be taught?  Also to the limitations of “role models”, and why neither theory nor practice alone is safe to rely on.

Once He Said Thirty-Two Words

By John Hertz: Happening to think about Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933; U.S. President 1923-1929), I noticed this passage in Ch. 3 of his Autobiography (1929, shortly after he left office; 1931 printing, p. 91).

He is commenting on a 1904 campaign he managed while Chair of the Republican City Committee, Northampton, Massachusetts.

He ran for office nineteen times, winning seventeen.

We made the mistake of talking too much about the deficiencies of our opponents and not enough about the merits of our own candidates.  I have never again fallen into that error.

How To Contribute to the Worldcon’s Annual APA

A message from John Purcell:

SUBJECT: Contributing to WOOF #42 – the Worldcon Order of Faneds, the APA (Amateur Press Association) collated annually at the World Science Fiction Convention – at WorldCon 75 in Helsinki, Finland.

Here is an UPDATE on what You Need To Know:

There is a European Official Editor of WOOF #42! Simo Suntila, a fanzine fan for many years, has “volunteered” (at the end of Jukka Halme’s volunteer-prodding stick) to be an OE as well. Since he is a local Finland Fanzine Fan (a Scandinavian N3F, there), that means contributions can be emailed ahead to him at khuure@gmail.com in PDF (preferred) or Word Document attachments and he will then print contributions locally well before the collation occurs. The due date for these WOOFzines is Saturday, 5 August 2017; that gives Simo a week to print them before the collation. A proper Table of Contents will thus be created ahead of time, as well. Gee, this sounds so shudder organized!

Speaking of the WOOF #42 collation, it is tentatively set for Saturday, 12 August 2017, from 1300 to 1500 hours (as it will be listed in the program guide: all times are done in military or international time; otherwise that translates to 1 to 3 PM for those folks who don’t do math) in the Fanzine Lounge at WorldCon 75. España Sheriff is the Fanzine Lounge Coordinator, and I have contacted her to see if we can arrange for refreshments (soft drinks and munchables) to be available for the collating masses.

Copy count of contributions is still set at a limit of 50 copies. [NOTE: If that is not enough, we will try to get the word out as quickly as possible to people who are bringing their WOOFzine to the collation.) I guess North American fans who wish to contribute and will not be attending WorldCon 75 can send their pre-printed WOOFzines to me ahead of time (ask me for my mailing address), but please include a 9″x12″ SASE. Your final collated copy of WOOF #42 will be mailed to non-attending North American contributors upon my return home to keep postage costs down. Naturally, if contributors are attending the convention, they should bring their pre-printed contributions to the collation, and are encouraged to participate in said collation. Not only does the collation go faster, it is much more fun, too. We want to treat this like the RUNE and MINNEAPA collation parties I remember from the late 1970s and early 1980s. If historic trends continue, the total page count of WOOF #42 will be 80-100 pages in length. We might need a bigger stapler.

I am still – silly me – willing to create an e-apa version of this year’s WOOF, and send it off to Bill Burns for eFanzines, another to Fanac.org for archiving, and any other interested parties. Therefore, please send your emailed contributions (as either PDF or Word Document attachments) to Simo Suntila at khuure@gmail.com or me at askance73@gmail.com by 5 August 2017. We will make sure that all submitted contributions get into the APA in one way, shape, or format.

For additional information, here is the link to the article WOOF is the Answer” written by John Hertz for the File 770 website: There is more information there for your edification and entertainment.

As additional information develops, it will be shared on many group pages on Facebook, the FILE 770 website, and also in my fanzines ASKANCE and ASKEW.

I Used to Think My Life Was Strange

By John Hertz: (reprinted from Vanamonde 1253)  I met Poldek Pfefferberg (1913-2001) as Thomas Keneally had.

In Polish “Poldek” is the familiar form — like our “Bob” for Robert — of Leopold, Pfefferberg’s given name.  In 1980 he had a leather-goods shop in Beverly Hills.  Keneally was looking for a briefcase.  Thus Keneally wrote Schindler’s List (1982), which won the Booker Prize, and Steven Spielberg directed the 1993 movie, which won seven Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director.

Pfefferberg, born in Cracow, had a master’s degree in philosophy and physical education from Jagiellonian University (founded 1364; among its graduates, Copernicus and Pope John Paul II; motto Plus ratio quam vis [Latin] “Let reason prevail over force”), was a physical-education professor, joined the Polish Army in 1939, made lieutenant, fought against the Nazi invasion that set off World War II, survived, married in 1941 during the thick of this, and eventually came here.  Sometimes he used the surname “Page” given him at Ellis Island.

Oskar Schindler (1908-1974) saved him and 1,300 other Polish Jews by telling Nazi authority he needed them to work in his factories.  On Schindler’s list Pfefferberg was No. 173; his wife Misia (1920-2008) was No. 195.  Schindler was a hero.  He was also a black-marketeer, a carouser, a womanizer, and an Abwehr (“ahp-vare”, military intelligence) agent.  In 1947 Pfefferberg promised Schindler, over a game of cards at Munich, that Pfefferberg would make Schindler’s name a household word.  In 1980 Keneally was fascinated by how complicated Schindler was.  Keneally had written twenty books.  Pfefferberg had spent four decades telling the story.

In 1985 I was in Beverly Hills looking for a briefcase.  I soon learned who the shopowner was.  He had newspaper and magazine clippings about the book.  The movie took longer.  Pfefferberg never doubted a moment.  “An Oscar for Oskar.”

In 2007 Keneally wrote Searching for Schindler about Keneally’s part, meeting Pfefferberg, interviewing Schindler Jews and showing them drafts of Schindler’s List, visiting Schindler’s grave in Israel, working with Spielberg.  Photographs show historical people and places and their movie reënactment (dieresis mark for Phil Castora).  Nan Talese was the Simon & Schuster editor who commissioned Schindler’s List; she left while it was in progress; the U.S. edition of Searching — Keneally is Australian — appeared under her imprint at Doubleday.  Keneally ate at Spielberg’s mother’s kosher restaurant The Milky Way.  I did too.  She died (Leah Adler, 1920-2017) in February.

Alexander grieved he had no Homer to sing his deeds.  Schindler, who slew no thousands, nor ten thousands, but overcame some of the evil around him and, remarkably, in himself, had two.

The Origin Story of Vurguzz

By Waldemar Kumming: [reprinted from Vanamonde 483 — John Hertz’ fanzine — August 12, 2002]

It all started 40 years ago. In the fanzine Munich Round-Up 8 was a whole page of “advertisements” for “The Bar to the Three and a Half Planets”, for Urm, the Newsmagazine for Retrotemporarians, for “Kraahkarm in Jelly, in 20-ton Containers”, and similar things, and finally for “Vurguzz, with 250% alcohol content.” Of course the alcohol over 100% was in hyperspace; this would allegedly lead to seeing not only double but 3 times after only one small glass of the drink.

The idea of vurguzz [pronounced “foor-goots” — jh] left Franz Ettle (who unfortunately died many years ago) no peace of mind until he had after various trials perfected a booze which had some of the effects. It had about 80% alcohol, and among other ingredients something that made it work very fast and strong but lasted only a short time. This vurguzz was poured at several German conventions, including an admission ceremony of the international and still existing Saint Fantony group. Later a liqueur factory took over but the vurguzz then had only 65% alcohol in it, that being the maximum allowed under German law. Lately the Pabel Verlag has been supplying a liqueur called vurguzz with only 17% alcohol content, apparently without knowing the story of the original vurguzz.

The present occasional supplier of the original vurguzz is Hermann Wolter, Am Hebewerk 57, D-45731 Waltrop, Germany. I have no idea whether it is possible to send bottles of the stuff without paying exorbitant taxes, or whether he is willing to do so, or has any of the stuff on hand at the moment.

Hands Across the Water

By John Hertz: (reprinted from Vanamonde 1252) “I only knew him for forty years,” said Wolf von Witting, “but in fact Waldemar began publishing Munich Round-Up before I was born.” It started in 1958, passing to Waldemar Kumming and Walter Reinecke in 1959, then continued under K after R died in 1981, for a total of 179 issues through 2014.

Von Witting first met Kumming in 1977. My first correspondence with K that I can find is from January 2001, after he asked me to help put names on photographs he’d taken for MRU at Chicon VI, the 58th World Science Fiction Convention, particularly costume photos; I’d judged the Masquerade, our on-stage costume competition.

He and I continued to correspond, and meet in person at Worldcons. I continued contributing to MRU, and gave it two hundred words in a review of fanzines for Chunga (“Unfolding Stars”, C 14, which I daren’t consider mostly harmless, prompted or not by that number). He knew the secret of the fearsome drink vurguzz (MRU 8, Van 483), whose relation to the world of Perry Rhodan is beyond my and perhaps your mortal powers. I tasted a bottle he offered me, also at Chicon VI, but by the time I recovered consciousness he had left that party and I missed my chance to inquire.

He joined the Science Fiction Club Deutschland — deliberately named with the first three words in English and the third in German, just as English-speakers at different times adopted Latin expressions like inter alia or French ones like à point, and in fact as Munich Round-Up, written in both German and English, was named in English — in 1956 as Member No. 481, and was its second chairman 1962-1968.

In 1967 he was brought into the Order of St. Fantony (there’s vurguzz again), Walter Ernsting giving the accolade. From the 1970s he was the German agent for Andy Porter’s Algol and S-F Chronicle. He was a Guest of Honor at Seacon ‘84, the combined Eastercon XXXV (United Kingdom) and Eurocon VIII. In 1993 he was given a Kurd Laßwitz Prize for MRU and his life work. In 2005 he was given the Big Heart, highest service award of the s-f community. He left us in April (1924-2017).

From 1959 he maintained the Phonothek (German; first h joins the p for the sound of f in derivations from Greek phi as with English, second h silent), sound recordings of German and international s-f gatherings, originally on magnetic tape which in those days was no small undertaking when you consider that the two Revox B77 recorders he used, excellent in their performance, each measured 18 x 16 x 8” (0.4 x 0.4 x 0.2 m) and weighed 37 lbs (17 kg).

With the new millennium Thomas Recktenwald, another great German fan, chair of SFCD, friend of K’s and mine, took on converting this wealth to digital media; see TR’s progress report, and fine appreciation of Kumming, in CounterClock 15 (Aug 2013).

He was humble yet unshrinking, generous, a good listener, as we all aspire. Few ever heard him raise his voice. There was one celebrated incident. The early days of SFCD were stormy. During one of its fierce verbal battles he suddenly cried “Stop!” All fell silent. He changed the tape in his machine and signaled the combatants to resume. R.I.P.

Denis Scheck, left, interviews Marion Zimmer Bradley, center, at STUCON 1980, while Waldemar Kumming captures it all on his tape recorder.

A World-Building Hugo

By John Hertz: (reprinted from Vanamonde 1249) The best notes I know for Victor Hugo’s novel Les Misérables (1862) are James Madden’s in the 2008 Modern Library edition, tr. Julie Rose. My own copy is the 1987 Lee Fahnestock & Norman MacAfee rev’n of Charles Wilbour’s tr. 1862, whose notes appear at the feet of pages (where notes belong! grr!) but not nearly enough.

Modern Library apparently first published the Wilbour in 1931; the ML ed’n with Stephen Alcorn’s woodcut on the jacket is not dated; ML reïssuing the Wilbour in 1992 [dieresis mark for Phil Castora] still offers both it and the Rose.

Yes, it’s a masterwork. Yes, it’s long; 1,194 pages by Rose (who after expatiating how faithful she was, which I can’t judge, says Alexander Pope 1688-1744 reïnterpreted Shakespeare 1564-1616 primly [p. xxiv] — aiee!) + 136 pp. of notes, 1,222 by Wilbour (and how he managed to get his tr. published in the year of the original is a story in itself).

No, there aren’t any digressions. Every side-path and detail is of the essence, from giving Cambronne’s answer at Waterloo as Merde! (the journalist Rougement reported La garde meurt et ne se rend pas! “The Guard dies and does not surrender!”, which was put on the base of a statue of C after his death; C denied he’d said either) to the sewers of Paris.

Hugo said he was writing a polemic: “So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation, which, in the face of civilisation, artificially creates hells on earth … books like this cannot be useless” (beginning and end of his preface, tr. Wilbour). But that last word is strange.

For years the coal of my desire to read this book was cold. I hearkened too much to how Hugo was a social critic — ipse dixit — and how Les Misérables was about relentless Inspector Javert’s pursuing Jean Valjean for stealing a loaf of bread.

Although “a loaf of bread” is an oafish misstatement, the criticism is there; the pursuit is there — oh, the pursuit! O Javert, what an end for you! — but we’d not call Rembrandt’s Night Watch (1642) a painting about men’s hats.

I’ve said the works of Jane Austen (1775-1817) are to us like writing by a Martian for fellow Martians; of Georgette Heyer (1902-1974), set in that period, like a science fiction author’s writing about Martians: Austen assumes we understand. Hugo is a Martian from across a canal.

What do these Martians tell one another to evoke the world they all share? We, who are in the business of verisimilitude, evoking fictional worlds, can watch.

I mention the notes first here because Les Misérables is so studded with allusion and reference that we need the help.

A Skiff Hails a Bark

By John Hertz: (reprinted from Vanamonde 1246, 26 Apr 17) Cherry-blossom viewing (hanami) season had largely ended last week at Kyôto, Nara, and Tôkyô; at Sapporo, in the north, blossoms should begin to open about May 1st and be at their peak for the following few days. Cherry blossoms are so beloved in Japan they not only have a name of their own (sakura), but also are understood from the word for blossom (hana) if no more is specified. Here there were e.g. a Cherry Blossom Festival 4-5 & 11-12 Mar 17, Descanso Gardens, La Cañada – Flintridge; a Nat’l Festival 16 Mar – 12 Apr at Washington, where a Japanese friendship gift of 3,000 trees had been accepted by First Lady Helen Taft.

Cherry blossoms are beautiful and fall soon. As long ago as the Man’yôshû (“Collection of Ten Thousand [not literally] Leaves [or maybe ‘to last ten thousand ages’]”, about the year 800), “the first and, in the opinion of most who have written about Japanese literature, the finest collection of Japanese poetry…. the falling of cherry blossoms could stir an awareness of transcience…. Some poems on cherry blossoms … convey so poignant a sense of the passing of time as to bring tears to the reader’s eyes,” D. Keene, Seeds in the Heart pp. 85, 91 (rev. 1999; J literature through the late 16th Century).

I was at Oakland, 350 miles (550 km) from home, 5,300 miles (8,600 km) from Kyôto, for a memorial to an uncle who died in February. He was 92, swimming a mile a day, working, and playing saxophone and clarinet in a jazz band. There were a few hundred people and a good hand­ful of speakers. On a printed program I saw Michael Dalby. Perhaps not an unusual name, I thought, but “Liza and I” in his speech told me he must be the husband of Liza Dalby, whose book Geisha (1983; 25th-anniversary ed’n and 17th printing with new preface, 2008) had so impressed me (Van 368). Afterward I found him; he said “she’s right over there”, and I thanked her.

She is the only American ever accepted as an apprentice geisha; for her Stanford Univer­sity Ph.D. she went to Kyôto, heart of Japanese culture, and served 14 months in one of the old­est geisha-houses; Geisha (actually Kyôto calls them geiko) is based on her dissertation. We foreigners have supposed them members of the world’s oldest profession, which they are not. Their primary arts (gei) are the shamisen (three strings played with a plectrum, long neck, no frets) with its song repertory, which she brought with her surprising her new companions, and dance; also superb dress, deportment, and wit.

When I met her she wore in her ears, and at her neck, the Japanese character mu (“nothingness”) in the distinctive calligraphy of the Zen Buddhist master Hakuin (1686-1768; famous inter alia for “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” which he thought led beginners to the Great Doubt — “At the bottom of great doubt lies great awakening. If you doubt fully, you will awaken fully” — better than the answer of Jôshu [778-897] to “Does a dog have Buddha-nature?”: “Mu!“).

I thought she might like to hear, and with only a few minutes I tried to tell her, that when I was sent to Japan for the 65th World Science Fiction Convention (2007), the first held in Asia, by the one-time traveling-fan fund Murray Moore invented, HANA (Hertz Across to Nippon Alliance, for which we used the character hana in the calligraphy of Seiichi Shirato’s uncle Seihou Mikado), her book had been a great help to me.

I left out the Haiku Contest and other adventures of bidding for that Worldcon, adventures of holding that Worldcon, and the careers of Takumi Shibano and Peggy Rae Sapienza. I did say I’d gone to the Bashô (1644-1694) Museum and stood where he stood at the Sumida River; at the Kiyosumi Garden, had asked to see the iris beds; she remembered the acrostic poem about irises by Narihira (825-880) and said “I hope you were there in May” — irises are a May flower — so I explained “No, September; I wanted to see where the irises had been,” but (just as befell me and several friends at the Garden, only there we were rescued by the pocket computer of Etsuko Kodama, who’d been At-Con Registration) neither she nor I could recall the name of Kenkô (1284-1350), who’d written that chrysanthemums are most beautiful when their edges start to brown.

Since Geisha, Ms. Dalby has written Kimono (1993), a novel The Tale of Murasaki (2000) being a fictional biography of the author of The Tale of Genji (1012), a memoir East Wind Melts the Ice (2007), and another novel Hidden Buddhas (2009). When I got home I re-read Geisha, Mineko Iwasaki’s memoir Geisha of Gion (2002; the United Kingdom title, United States title Geisha, a Life), The Diary of Lady Murasaki (covers only 1008-1010; R. Bowring tr., rev. 1996), and read E. Underwood’s Life of a Geisha (1999, foreword by LD) and N. Ogino’s photograph book A Geisha’s Journey (2008, text by the Kyôto geiko Komomo), then East Wind and Tale of Murasaki, all which I recommend.