The Official Newsletter of PARSEC


August 2001, Issue 187

Kevin's Comments

By Kevin Hayes

Actually, this was originally going to be a very different column. For my previous attempt, I had some notes and thoughts about milestones and important dates. We are only a couple of weeks past Confluence (only one week by my clock -- one of the mysterious time warps that occur when writing something like this against a deadline) and, when something like that has occupied your attention as well as the attention of so many people for so long and finally comes to fruition -- well, it seems natural to talk about important dates and anniversaries. Probably that's a very distinctly human way of looking at things. Bear with me a little bit, every time I went off on this in my previous attempts, I got a little ponderous in my philosophical musings.

So, anyway, back to important dates. We just had Confluence and given how close (it seemed to me) we came to not having Confluence, I'd have to say it was a pretty important date. It probably was not as dramatic in truth as it seemed to me, but as the newbie, I feel very gratified, now that everything is over, seeing some of the positive feedback generated from some of the people who attended. And most of them say they are looking forward to next year's con. And we are already planning next year's con; an important milestone, I'd say.

I was discussing the idea of important dates and days with my daughter recently. We were in a conversation about why she didn't keep a journal. She allowed as how just not that much goes on in her life that she feels is worthy of note. She said most of her life consists of getting up, watching TV, getting breakfast, getting dressed, then wondering what she should do with the rest of the day. I couldn't even begin to explain in a coherent manner why I keep a journal and write about so many mundane things. I guess it's because I never know precisely when the muse is going to speak to me and I'll be inspired to write the wisdom of the ages. Sort of like Dorothy Parker when she awoke in the middle of the night to write what she dreamed was one of the secrets of the universe. Then she went back to sleep knowing she had pierced the veil and encompassed something truly momentous. In the morning she discovered what she had written was: "Hogamus, higamus, man is polygamous. Higamus, hogamus, woman monogamous."

I make no claims to such esoteric knowledge, but you never know. I try hard to stay open to the opportunity.

But I digress. We actually have several important days and dates coming up in our World of PARSEC. One that hasn't been mentioned much in Sigma recently, or even at our meetings, is the anticipated "Evening of Science Fiction and Fantasy." The plan is to have local writers -- published and not -- gather and read pieces at the Carnegie Science Center. All this supported and highlighted by the background and production capabilities of the Science Center. What with Confluence, which was taking so much of the organizational attention, now over, we can once again turn our attentions to that. We anticipate the entire program being about an hour and a half long and at this point we have no set date other than late September or October. Anybody who would like to participate, whether you want to read something you've written, or if you have written something, but don't have the built-in what-ever to read it yourself, contact me, or Ann Cecil, or John Schmid, or Diane Turshek. We want to keep the pieces to no longer than about ten minutes and the more visual the better. Hurry up and get in touch, the quicker we get going on this the better.

Fitting that we should start with the fantastic and close with the mundane: The PARSEC Picnic. Okay, I admit, if we do this right, it will certainly not be mundane. The picnic is planned for Bellevue Memorial Park -- the directions to which are posted and linked to the PARSEC website, and also printed later in the newsletter. As usual, PARSEC is supplying the burgers and hot dogs, associated buns and condiments. Members are expected to supply side dishes, salads, desserts and such. Make sure to bring enough to share with some friends. The more we have available, the better the picnic will work out. As for the park itself, it is a compact, community park. However, we have a children's playground, basketball court, volleyball, softball, horseshoes and tennis courts available, when using any of the facilities, it's generally best to supply your own equipment, balls, bat, horseshoes and such-like. The facilities may be in use, they may not be. The picnic shelter shares parking space with the swimming pool, but unless it is an oppressively hot day, there should be plenty of space for everyone. For anyone who cares to swim, since we are using the shelter, there is a reduced admission price of $2 for everyone. The admission price will also allow you to leave and re-enter the pool as well. The Shelter has loading and unloading areas, as well as gas grills, gas burners, electrical outlets, access to real bathrooms, lighting and running water -- only cold from an exterior spigot, but hey. We have the shelter -- called Bragdon Shelter -- it's right there on the right hand side of the road, you can't miss it, from morning until the park closes at 10:00. For those of you who need more detailed directions than those on line or printed herein, contact me by email at, or in the evening by phone at (412)734-3808. If you have any questions about anything I haven't covered (whew) contact me.

I looked over this column as it now stands, compared it with my previous ones, and they just keep getting longer every month. Sorry, I'll try to do better next time. You wouldn't believe the editing I've done already. See you on Saturday.

Last Meeting - July 14, 2001

by Joan Fisher

People were arriving early. Some were there before 1:00, they all wandered around talking, catching up on what was happening, and who was where.

At 2:20 p.m. Kevin Hayes, our President, brought the meeting to order. Kevin and Nancy Janda began by selling raffle tickets. One of the items in the raffle was the new book by one of our very own -- Alien Taste by Wen Spencer.

Amy Finkbeiner won the raffle and she chose a ceramic bowl -- By Diana Stein

Kevin asked what type of meetings we would like to see in the future.

Kevin Hayes then asked if there were any announcements to be made.

Kira announced that Henry still has cats to give away. Kevin announced that ConFluence was coming up the next weekend, and that everyone should go and see the play. He also mentioned that the room block had been made!

It was announced that Sara Zettel and her husband are expecting a baby.

Kira announced if anyone whanted to go to a movie after the meeting, they were trying to get a group together. This caused an impromptu discussion on the current movies out and the strengths and weaknesses.

Kira mentioned that one of the textbooks Stanley Kubrick was using for his movie AI was written by a member of CMU's robotics department.

The last announcement was Kevin saying that Airtran (airlines) was offering a deal between Pgh and Philly -- $49.00 one way. He suggested that you need to get the tickets early, and then at the airport you could get a hotel shuttle to where you are staying. He also plugged the Ponzio International Travel Agency.

You can contact Joan Fisher for further information at 412-571-1111. Since she works there and is also a member of PARSEC. There was an ad stating that you could get tickets online from Airtran for $29.99, one way.

At 3pm Amy started her discussion/demonstration on Japanese anime.

During WW2 most of the artists were forbidden to work, or they worked on propaganda. Amy found record of only one Navy mini movie that was put out -- it was of cute animals bombing Pearl Harbor. Most of the studios were destroyed at the end of the war.

The few Artists that were able to work did make some progress. Moving paper and then celluloid. Hence Manga became more popular they were inexpensive, and easier to produce. Manga is the thick paper books that are read back to front.

Live action anime made its come back in the 50's.

1963 -- one of the first movies to make it to the United States was Astro Boy with an extra layer -- the Japanese believe that any toy that is loved enough will develop a soul, this animation was a take off of the story of Pinocchio.

Iron Man 28 was the second, and it was shown here as Gigantor. Speed Racer and Kimba the White Lion where also live actions that came over from Japan.

The big wave was around 1977 after Star Wars took off. Two series came over, Star Blazers and Battle of the Planets. Before they would show them, they had to edit out most of the violence and some of the story continuity along with it, which led to the short time span for television. G- Force remained closer to the original story line but still wasn't able to last.

In 1979 Mobile Suit Gundam series was brought over, and in 1996 Gundam Wing was one of the off shoots from that series. Robotech was actually three series spliced together in order to make the syndication lengths for the USA. It turned out a big hit.

In the 1990s anime took off, Amy mentioned that the first convention was in 1991. Early 1990 a lot of fans started subtitling. Today some of the subtitling is good some not at all well done.

A large amount of the fans that make copies will stop making them for a series that has been picked up. Most fans will only dub for the cost the tape and the postage.

At least 8 companies bring anime to America. A whole block on Cartoon Network is dedicated to anime, called Toonami. It is all a matter of your viewpoint as to whether it is good or bad.

Manga in not just children's entertainment, in Japan there are newspaper articles about some of the characters in monga. You could see a businessman reading it on the way to work. The standards of viewing in Japan are different, for example Ranma 1/2 is shown in prime time, even with the brief nudity (for humor).

There is only about three graphic Manga's that actually run back to front as they do in Japanese, the rest are front to back. From Astro Boy to modern day most, have a touch of fantasy or science fiction. Their series are also very commercialized.

Oh My Goddess was the first movie that Amy and Nancy put in. This one was subtitled, and more Sci-fi in nature. Record of Lodoss War is considered High-Fantasy. Science fiction does the whole range- military, chemical, etc.

Iria -- was based on what man has created; he must now fight against. Very creatively done.

Space opera -- Legends of the Galactic Heroes uses lots of instrumentals, the space battles are silent save for the music. The battles ran longer than we were used to seeing.

Armitage III -- Where is the line drawn between what makes a human a human, and what is a soul?

Trigun -- A lot of good character development was created in the series. The main character is considered a human typhoon, and due to the main character's reputation, whole towns will evacuate when they get word of his arrival.

Amy mentioned that Joy's Japanamation, located at 602 South Main Street, Greensburg, PA was a good source of anime, as wells as being where she works. She passed out flyers for the shop.

The meeting ended at 4:30 p.m. with everyone pitching in to clean up.

Confluence In Review

Comments on Confluence 2001
From: Paul Levinson
Newsgroups: rec.arts.sf.fandom

Confluence, held in Pittsburgh just this past weekend, is much smaller [than Readercon]. I attended for the first last year, and had a fine time. It is in a way like a mini-Readercon, peopled by readers with a zest for science fiction novels and stories, and authors that I could talk to for days.

This year, Confluence held two unique sf treats for me.

One was finding myself at an autograph session with Phyllis Gottleib, whose first story was published in 1959. I later had dinner with Phyllis and her husband Kelly (who worked with Marshall McLuhan, but that's another fascinating story). Rob Sawyer, Carolyn Clink, Bud Sparhawk, Wen Spencer, and C. Dale Brittain were among the other writers at our table -- what a table!

The second was just a fleeting moment, but I'll never forget it. Phil Klass had just finished reading a marvelous story -- one he had written in the late 1960s, but hadn't published until the 1980s. Hal Clement, who had been sitting in the front row, went up to talk to Phil.

So here were these two guys, between them more than a century of science fiction writing, talking with passion and appreciation late in the evening. And here I was, a kid when I first read the words of these two, now sitting in the back of the room, just watching them talk. I'm sure a part of me will never leave that room -- the same part that's been there since the 1950s. (David Hartwell, sitting next to me, took a picture.)

Thank you Confluence, for opening that door...

Will Quale said:

Congrats and thanks for such a wonderful con! A well-run small con can stand out head and shoulders above a well-run large con, and this one definitely did: it was small enough that a real sense of community seemed to form, and yet well-paced so that there were always plenty of activities for everyone. Large cons have their own advantages, but while I've made a few good friends at Philcons past, I've never left a con feeling like I was leaving new family members, and already looking forward to the next time I'd see them.

Granted, my recent discovery of the filk community (Conterpoint 4 was my first real filking experience, singing or listening) is in no small part responsible for these feelings, but it goes beyond the filk circle itself. Ann, Sasha, Trinn, Bink, and Timons all made the con special for me, in addition, of course, to Steve, Dan,Merav, Pete, and you. And so many more ... all in three days. I hope I'll run into all y'all several times in the intervening year.

... oh, and how could I neglect to say "wow! ilk gets a concert next year?! Wow!" One of these days, we'll wake up, right? No? You mean this weekend was real, and it really was this wonderful and more? Well, in that case, maybe I should sleep now, so I can dream about next year.

Thanks again, and best wishes,
-- Will

Found on the filk echo:
Benjamin Newman

My group, gave its debut performance at Confluence this weekend. Wow! There will be a fuller post-mortem when my heart finally gets back, but for now this.

Matt G. Leger

Speaking as one of the invited guests for Confluence 13, which took place this past weekend in the Pittsburgh area, I had a great deal of fun! I want to once again thank Randy Hoffman and the con committee for inviting me, and all of those who attended my concert on Saturday (and were patient with the inevitable flubs by me and my Pet Guitarist, Gary Ehrlich -- and thanks to him also for his conscientious preparation and good sportsmanship).

I got VIP treatment (for a fan, anyhow), from the time Randy picked me up at the airport on Thursday evening until I left yesterday morning waaay too early. (Of course, I paid for it by helping haul stuff out of the hotel on Sunday evening, but long practice made it a small price to pay.) The programming was surprisingly rich for a small relaxacon such as I had been led to expect; despite there being no masquerade, room parties or other such staples of larger cons, there was plenty to occupy and entertain even if you weren't there for the filk program.

The panel on "How Cable Saved SF on TV" Friday night was fun and informative; the panelists were mercifully tolerant of my constant interruptions from the peanut gallery. Other highlights included the musical "20,000 Leagues of Music" (with Randy gleefully chewing scenery for all he was worth as Nemo), which combined the plot of Jules Verne's novel with the Rodgers & Hammerstein tunes of "The Sound of Music." (Poor Oscar H. must be doing 300 RPMs in his grave... "Look what they done to my song, Ma..." ) and the concert thereafter by Filk GoH Heather Rose Jones, both of which I caught halfway through (the former due to the hotel restaurant's being shockingly understaffed, the latter to a program-book misprint).

Authors were present in force, including main GoH David Hartwell, who gave a speech on Saturday and served on panels as well; a complete guest list can be had at the con's website,

The filk program was so well developed I could have imagined I was at a filk con if I hadn't left the room all weekend. I most enjoyed the concerts by On the Mark, Pete Grubbs (who did double duty as performer and sound engineer the whole day Saturday, and should be applauded), Juanita Coulson and a guitarist/composer named Joe Giacoio who subbed for Carla Ulbrich at the last minute (and astonished most of us with his guitar wizardry and collection of exotic instruments, which included an 1890s harp/guitar and an all-steel guitar). The only flaw was no breaks other than five or ten minutes between sets for bathroom, eating etc.; Randy has promised to correct this next year, but I never had so much fun missing lunch and holding in my bladder.

The video schedule could have used a few less repetitions of one or two selections, but then movies are much less important at cons these days when most attendees have access to these films at home through cable TV, pay-per-view, video and DVD etc. The dealers' room was very book-heavy (that's how you can tell a sercon from a mediacon) but Juanita Coulson helped broaden the selection of merchandise with her filk music tapes and CDs.

The atmosphere overall was relaxed (aside from a couple of budhead mundanes who pestered us late on Saturday night, which was not the con's fault) and the people friendly. The hotel promises to lay on more staff next year now that they know what to expect; if you don't have a car, you pretty much have to eat in the hotel or else cadge a ride with someone to nearby food as none of it is within walking distance. Even if I am not invited back as a guest, I would happily return to Confluence next year and recommend it to others (especially if I can get that cheapo $80 RT airfare from AirTran again and more reasonable flight times).

Special thanks to Merav Hoffman and Jon Lennox for letting me share their room and their Shabbos dinner (and to Merav for harmony vocals in my concert), as well as Beth and Ruth, Heather, Dan and Melissa, Bob and Sue and Mike for your kindness. See some of y'all at Worldcon next month...

Confluence - the worker's perspective

By Ann Cecil

We had around 275 people this time, which was a Good Thing, because the concom had a few minor traumas settling into a new hotel. For instance, Registration started out in a bad place (the hall, too close to programming), and had to be moved in the middle of the action. The Sheraton that used to be the Wyndham'(this is the recommended phrase to use when asking directions of the area locals) is pleasant, nicely decorated, and somewhat smaller than the Mars Sheraton.

This worked to our advantage in one area; there were no rooms tucked away down side corridors (there aren't any side corridors). Everything was easy to find, and we didn't have any attendees wandering around with frantic looks consulting maps. That was good cause I think we forgot the map. Everything was well-attended, including the videos (attractively advertised with home-made posters by Kevin Geiselman), and readings (in a cozy living room atmosphere).

The Con Suite was too small; we knew it was going to be a tight fit, but hadn't realized how tight. We have a solution in the works already; we'll just take over the whole floor. (No, no, just joking; we will take over the neighboring room across the hall).

We had a total of 48 guests, counting authors, artists, editors, filkers, and even two agents(!). The Dealer's room had the best lighting of any we've had; you could easily see all those books to buy. And for the first time ever, we had a filk tape dealer (and she's coming back next year!).

We are going to be back there next year - July 26-28, 2002 - mark your calendars! - with a $75 room rate (up a whole dollar). The concom has plans for fixing all the minor glitches, and is even discussing extreme measures for the big problem (parking, of course; this is still Pittsburgh).

Letters to SIGMA

From: Michael []
Sent: Saturday, July 07, 2001 5:33 PM
Subject: "Is death the final frontier?" - Leonard Nimoy (STAR TREK)

I am more fascinated than ever by the many science fiction films dealing with the belief or beliefs of life after death. My nominees for the best actor or actress in a role traversing that final frontier from one to twelve are...
1. Warren Beatty ("Heaven Can Wait")
2. Annette Bening ("In Dreams")
3. Michael Clarke Duncan ("The Green Mile")
4. Michael J. Fox ("The Frighteners")
5. Leonard Nimoy ("Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan")
6. Tim Robbins ("Jacob's Ladder")
7. William Shatner ("Star Trek VII: Generations")
8. Keifer Sutherland ("Flatliners")
9. Patrick Swayze ("Ghost")
10. Christopher Walken ("Brainstorm")
11. Robin Williams ("What Dreams May Come")
12. Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment ("The Sixth Sense")

Michael Anthony Basil
24 Wigan Drive
Nepean, Ontario, Canada
K2E 6L1

Sad News

by Laurie D. T. Mann

Poul Anderson died around midnight Wednesday August 1st.

Someone reported on a list that Poul spent his last evening sitting in bed, drinking beer and having messages read to him.

While this is not unexpected, it's still very sad. I don't usually weep when I update Dead People Server, but I have today.

Next Meeting

NEXT MEETING: Aug 11, 2001, 12:00 PM to 10:00 PM
LOCATION: Bellevue Memorial Park Bragdon Shelter
PLEASE: We encourage people to bring a munchie or drink contribution ... pop, chips, cookies, etc.


Directions to Picnic

From the east and south:
go to the McKees Rocks Bridge on Rte 65 (Ohio River Blvd). At the light turn right, up Termon Ave. Staying in the left lane, go up the hill to the light. This is a five way intersection, with a hard left, an easy left, an easy right and a hard right. Take the easy left, up California Ave. Proceed to the next light, again staying in the left lane. Turn left, staying on California. Follow this into Bellevue, the street will magically turn into Lincoln Ave. At the third light ( there will be one single, then a set of two lights in tandem, then the third light -- at that intersection there is a Mellon Bank on the left and Classic Chevrolet katty-cornered on the right) Turn right onto Balph Ave, proceed on Balph, through a light and a stop sign. Follow this road about a half to three-quarters of a mile (it might be longer, I haven't measured it) Bellevue Memorial Park is on the right hand side. The entrance is just beyond tennis courts.

From the far north (and for those who prefer):
Probably the best approach is from I-279. Exit at the Bellevue/Westview exit. Turn left (it makes no difference if you are coming from the North or from the South -- you will still turn left) follow this road into Bellevue. After passing Northgate High School on the left (it's up a hill where you probably won't see it, but you will see the sign) the road makes a sharp bend to the left, after taking this bend, take the third street to the left -- Orchard. ( the first is North, second is Means, third is Orchard) follow Orchard to the third stop sign, turn left onto N. Balph Ave. Proceed about a half to three-quarters of a mile ( or more), the park will be on the right, just past the tennis courts.

News Flash

Mary Soon Lee sold the story "Crew-Dog" to Spectrum SF. Her story "Patterns" appears in the October 2001 issue of Realms of Fantasy, and her poem "Silicon Bird" is in Talebones #21.

Ken Chiacchia's story "Medical Command" appeared online in Alternate Realities.

Tim Esaias's story "Crash Site" was once again #10 on the Alexandria Digital Literature monthly bestseller list.

The Editors of Sigma welcome your input! Send your columns, commentary, reviews, rants, letters, laughs, input, and throughput to us! Send art, too!

To Contact PARSEC

phone: 344-0345
mail: PO Box 3681, Pittsburgh, PA, 15230


The Pittsburgh Area Realtime Scientifiction Enthusiasts Club

President: Kevin Hayes

Vice President: "Cap'n" John Cope

Treasurer: Greg Armstrong

Editor: Don Cox

Secretary: Tom Morrow

Commentator: Ann Cecil

Meetings: The second Saturday in each month.

Dues: $10 full, $2 supporting.

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