TommyWorld Twenty Four

The Twenty fourth issue of a sortof letter substitute, kinda thing, maybe weekly, maybe not, from:

40 Deramore Avenue, Belfast, BT7 3ER, Northern Ireland

E-mail: Phone: (01232) 293275

Web Site:

Available only via the net at the moment. I'm still looking for email addresses for Graeme Cameron, who lives in Vancouver, BC. Welcome to the new readers and see the email message this zine comes with for Techno babble. Thanks to Mark McCann for computer usage and computer advice. Usual disclaimer to be found at the end. This issue dated, already, 15/12/97

Sad Bastard Fandom

"That's fans, that is," Mark said.

"Nah, that's that just about people," I replied. A Götter editorial meeting was taking place, a few beers and the film version of Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch, about the obsessive behaviour of an Arsenal supporter.

"Bollocks," Mark wittily interjected, "He's a manic compulsive just like most fans. It's a sort of autism."

The movie is based around a teacher whose compulsive following of the Arsenal Football Club delineates his whole life. With a troubled family background he is able to talk to his father, and later his mother as well, with the language of f ootball. He traces the ups and downs of his life and career through the fortunes of the club through the years. Even his emotional life and the relationship he forms with a fellow teacher are framed in the reference to the football club. Mark's allusion t o fandom is obvious.

It reminded me of a number of conversations I had with Seattle fans when I was out there. There was the lunchtime conversation with Andy Hooper about the TAFF voting patterns and how they may be reflected in the WorldCon bid zones; he furt her explained just what the 'wimpy zone' meant. Than a conversation with Ron Drummond, in the company of Randy Byers and Lesley Reece in the Big Time BrewPub, about medieval classical music. A one-way conversation from Ron, that lasted at least an hour an d half and told me way too much about classical music; that's what my retirement is for. Both of these conversations were about topics about which I knew nothing and the participants knew way, way, too much.

The other talk I had was with Victor Gonzalez on my last night in Seattle. We were in the Elysian BrewPub talking about fanzine production methodologies to which I thought there was, broadly, two schools. One is the compulsive detailer whe re everything has be just so - no widows and orphans, each page laid out to some arcane format and at least half a dozen final print runs to make sure that everything is exactly as it should be. Then there is the other school, which states that scaleable fonts were invented for a reason, postscript is the best thing to hit fanzine production in years and if it don't fit then squeeze the margins. Then print the bugger.

Victor was of the former persuasion. Squib 2 had been printed the previous day as he wanted to get copies out to the US readership in time for TAFF, and to get the masters to me before I headed off to climates less sunny. In order to do th is however he spent the previous night up to 7.30 am finishing off production. This struck me as somewhat arcane given that the zine is only 10 pages long, and even allowing for the printer time for high quality masters.

These conversations and I'm sure everyone has had them (especially if you've met Jon Singer,) were what I thought Mark was referring to. In a certain sense I could agree with him: no-one really gives a toss about medieval classical music, even classical music buffs; and I've been to one too many WorldCon bid meetings to even give the time of day to all that zonal shit. But the conversation with Victor, and my impassioned remarks, illustrates what Mark and I were subject to as well. Going b ack to the movie.

The problem I had with talking about the film was that it was way too obvious that I was in a similar position to the main character, and Mark wasn't far behind either. I'm a long time Arsenal supporter myself (Mark is a Liverpool fan) and remember the old taunts of "boring, boring, Arsenal," and what I now call the 'Ikea Defence,' (hilariously portrayed in the movie.) We both knew the Arsenal stars that were mentioned: Liam Brady, Frank Stapledon and other stalwarts of the Irish national side of the early eighties; Alan Smith and Michael Thomas the late eighties equivalents. We both knew that the foci of the whole film was the season clinching match between Arsenal and Liverpool, that with a last minute goal won the Championship for Arsen al. Of course our memories of that wonderful match are slightly different… James McKee was an independent observer in these shared memories and was horrified at what he heard and casually mentioned that Mark was as suspect of compulsive fannish behav iour as the dodgiest Babylon 5 fan.

Is Victor really portraying compulsive behaviour or is it simply the desire to do the job right? Personally I have the utmost respect for people who make the effort like Geri Sullivan whose fanzine Idea is an example of a labour of love. And both Ron and Andy made what I consider topics of torpor seem relevant and important. I don't know if you would consider this manic compulsive behaviour, or just a lot of hard work and enthusiasm.

I mentioned this to Victor and it turns out that he has a certain set amount of principles when it comes to fanzine production. This include a certain amount of white space posing as borders, a single type style (including font, size, kern ing etc.) and definite ideas about the layout and design. When I mentioned the fact that I thought this was bloody silly, especially given the resources of his power Mac notebook he took the high ground.

"Exactly what I mean," said Mark upon hearing this tale.

But I still disagreed, I had to or else I would be a sad compulsive type person as well. Monomaniacal interests may be compulsive behaviour but it doesn't mean that we are sad fuckers with no life. Pedantic fanzine production methods and a n innate desire to succeed in the small fannish fundament that exists up most fans arses, is cutting it fine though. But I did think that the character in the movie, and the fans I'd talked to, weren't in any way autistic or manic compulsive.

"Nah, I'm not buying that, and neither do you." Mark reposted.

Strangely enough, he wasn't true on this occasion. I have been the author of many an unreadable zine in the past and Götter has been suspect in a number of layout and design problems (not to say spell checking problems.) This comes as a result of wanting to get the fanzine out into the world and not bothering with the fine details – "hey, it's what you say not how you say it." This, of course, is complete shite too. It seemed somewhat selfish of us to complain that this movie was about a sad old football fan that was exactly like sad old SF fans when in fact we empathised with the character so much.

I typed this fanzine up in the public library in Derry in around three hours in total. I then went to the pub and watched Juventus thrash Manchester United 1-0 in the final game of the Champions league qualifying tournament. Doubly sad.

And now, you…

Valerie Westwood () "Hi Tommy, I think it is wonderful that you are now doing TommyWorld again. Looking forward to it." ((Amongst some other comments – generally there has been a great response to the re-launch, thanks everyone.))

Art Widner () "Dear Tommy, Thanx for putting me on yr mailist. Will be happy to rcv yr output any way I can. Re yr earlier msg; sorry, but i dont live in Seattle. However, if you come down the Pacificoast from there & find yrself lost btwn Ft Bragg & Bodega Bay, gimme a call & Ill come & fetch u or give u directions to find my hermitage. Ill stand the first round. And presumably others. Most awesome scenery in the world--xe pt The Cliffs of Moher, of course. Whats the latest word on Walt? Why the ??? in my address? Did u get YHOS 55 at Corflu Wave? Cheers." ((Art, I wasn't at Corflu Wave, see issue 7 of TommyWorld for what I got up to that weekend. I'm not exactly sure what you said in the rest of the message, but I think there is an invite in there, which I will surely take you up on some day.))

Pam Wells () "Hi Tommy, Many thanks for the TommyWorld. Wot, no e-access in Derry? None at all? That really surprises me. I wonder if there are any towns in England that are similarly affli cted. It's not something I'd really thought about before. Glad to hear you're actually planning to move to Seattle next year. It sounded like that's what you wanted to do, but you had all sorts of doubts and stuff. ((Strange, but tr ue. There is a marketing niche just waiting to be explored. Even worse there are public access computers in the local library, which have Web browsers but email facility. Duh! See below for the personal stuff.))

What did you think of Novacon this year? I thought it was OK; not exactly brilliant, but not too bad. Was hoping to have more of a chance to chat with you, but our paths didn't cross. When you say you're going to be in Belfast for Corflu, I assume that m eans you're not coming to Leeds for it. Are you going to be some kind of Corflu Annex, then? <Pam is confused>. If you're not going to Corflu, what about Eastercon? Times is quiet here in the north. Throw another whippet on the fire, mother." ((I've just finished a Novacon report for the next Corflu PR, so I'll leave my comments until then. Er, no. I will be at Corflu next year, what I meant was that I'd be in Ireland until then. I probably won't make it to Eastercon, unless I'm doing some really well paid job by then. Ahem. Unlikely.))

Eugene Doherty
() "…Are you really sure that there is no cyber cafe in Derry?" ((Yes, I'm really sure…))< br clear=left>
Vikki Coven
() "Tommy, You will fit right in in America. Everyone is from some place else here. Most Americans have moved several times in their lives and have an even more mixed up a pedigree. I personall y was born in Montreal, Canada and have lived in 6 different states. I tend to call Detroit my home because chance has had me living in this area the longest. I do not know any of the people that I went to school with, or from even 10 years ago. I tend to move on when a group of people no longer seem to fit who I am. In a metropolitan area of 5 million it is not difficult to feel that people drop off the face of the earth when you stop seeing them regularly. You talked about your past in TW23, but what ar e you up to now?" ((As ever a nice little segueway into…))

So what am I doing? Well not a lot to be honest. Mark suggested that I turn TommyWorld into a diary format on my web site, but that precludes me having a life to report on. At the moment I'm hanging out mostly in Belfas t, living with Mark McCann and sharing his PC. I'm off home for Christmas but hope to have another issue of TommyWorld out before then, hopefully the 21st December. A couple of nights out with local fans and then the usual Christmas at ho me in Derry – a pleasant time all round I hope.

Further afield I'm still sortof looking for a job to keep the wolf from the door and to actually pay Mark some rent. I've been looking at office work (it is easiest to get, pays well and it's all the experience I have) but may start lookin g in bars and restaurants if nothing turns up. I'm also thinking about applying tot he local coffee shop (the one I mentioned in 'Java for Dummies' in Götterdämmerung 10) as a Barista. Well I've been to Seattle a lot…

For the moment though, it is time to sort out my web site, which works perfectly in FrontPage preview mode, but not at all on the web. And it still looks like shite warmed up. The Götterdämmerung site () is pretty cool though and deserves a look. Time also to send out a few letters (I generally don't do the Christmas card thing) and finish of the dekalogy.

Right now though: the Government sent me to Giro cheques this week, and I'm due another one next week. Do I 1) Phone them up and tell them the error of their ways (I'll have to pay it back eventually) or 2) Spend with wild abandon and sod 'em all. In the week before Christmas, I ask you, as if there was a choice! See you all next week.