John Purcell, College Station TX
Holy Hannah, Guy! Another mailbox-rupturing issue! Not only large, but chock full of fine articles. A stellar effort, sir. Will you have another one out before Fencon VI in September? My wife and I are planning to be there; after all, Warren Buff is the Fan GoH, and there is that unsanctioned Hearts tournament lined up for that weekend during the con. The groundwork for this was laid out in the Southern Fandom listserv, and the last I knew contestants included you, me, Warren, and Dean Sweatman. There may have been a couple more, but I'm not sure. Should be fun no matter what.
Jiminy Christmas, I don't know where to start in LOCcing this issue. First off, my condolences to Rosie and you on the loss of Merritt Green. Too damn young, if you ask me. That picture of him on page 2 is a great one. Thank you for sharing this with us.
So we have here a sports issue of Challenger. I didn't have the time to get something to you, but it appears you had no trouble finding material. Lessee: basketball, baseball, golf, cricket, Australian Rules football, tennis, Quidditch, NASCAR ("they're making another left turn!"), but no hockey. That would have been my contribution. Or soccer. I coached my son's soccer team for a couple years,and in the Spring 2008 season the team won its division in College Station. I have the team picture in my office at Blinn College, so when we report back next week (preparation for summer classes) I will make it a point to scan the photo and send it to you.
Steven Silver's article on the futility of the Chicago Cubs is probably my favorite selection from this entire massive issue, which has a ton of great material. I can certainly identify with Steven; I am a life-long Minnesota Twins fan, and have suffered through some really terrible years when the team just couldn't seem to do anything right. Unlike the Cubs, the Twins have won two of their three World Series appearances (1987 and 1991; in 1965 they lost to the Dodgers in seven games, which had Koufax and Drysdale at their peaks), so we're not championship-frustrated like Cubs fans. Even so, the Cubs have a really good team this year (again) and they're in a very difficult division: the NL Central, which boasts two other very good teams, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Milwaukee Brewers. Good luck to the Cubs! I'm pulling for you, Steven.
James Bacon's article about the various covers to Philip K. Dick's award winning novel The Man in the High Castle (and other books, too) was very interesting. The cover scans were helpful in matching up to the text, and James' commentary proved insightful. I have never been one to really sit down and analyze cover art; about the only thing I care about is that the cover be directly related to a key scene or theme in the book, and it definitely appears that most of these covers do this job well. The cover scan on page 28 doesn't do much for me, though; it doth not compute. Some year I must reread The Man in the High Castle. Dick is one of those authors that bears re-reading from time to time, he was that good.
Interesting to read something by David Schlosser in Challenger. I haven't seen David since the mid-80s when I lived in Los Angeles with my first wife (who shall forever remain nameless, so don't ask). A very nice fellow, and I never knew David golfed. If he's still in it, he is one of the longest-serving members of LASFAPA, which I joined for a couple years (~1979-80). Now you've got me wondering what else he's up to these days. I may have to contact him and say hello.
Another good article in here is Gary Robe's account of housing minor league ballplayers. That would have been interesting. I am such a baseball nut that I would have enjoyed it. Here in Bryan-College Station, Texas, we have one of college baseball's best teams, the Texas A&M Aggies, and their games are the best buy in town: $6 per person (beats out the football team's exorbitant $55 fee for the cheap seats), and Olsen Field has great sightlines and seats 6,000. Our next door neighbor is the head groundskeeper for TAMU athletic facilities, Leo Gertz. Heckuva nice guy. We talk sports all the time. Getting back to baseball, there is a semi-pro team in the area, too, the Brazos Bombers. This is basically a conglomeration of college and former-college/pro players who form one of the 6 teams in a semi-pro Texas league. Good prices there, too: $14 gets you into the game and buys you a couple hotdogs and a soft drink. Not bad.
I also really enjoyed your article about Jimmy Connors, Guy. Well done. I never really cared for Connors as a person -- he seemed so full of himself and angry all the time - but as a tennis player, he was one of the all-time greats and I respected his abilities. You told a great story about meeting him and acting all bubbly-headed at the time. Yes, this was a fun article.
Finally, Curt Phillips made me blush in his LOC. Thank you, Curt. Now let's see if you can get the third issue of Smoooooth out in less than 23 years. This new-fangled technology tends to speed things up a bit, I have noticed.
Great final article by Nicki Lynch. Man, I haven't seen her positively years! I really liked this trip report. She made me so jealous; Italy is one of those countries Valerie and I would like to visit some year, probably after I retire from teaching. So that makes it 10 to 15 years from now. Yeah. Italy should still be there, I hope
Fine issue, Guy. Good luck with the Hugo voting this year. For your information, Challenger is my choice this year. Then again, my record as a fannish prognosticator is not the greatest, but I thought you might like to know how I feel about your zine. It is one of my favorites currently being pubbed. Bon chance, mon ami.