Front Cover

Cover: “Hammered Silver” font design for the Wessons’ Silver Wedding Anniversary by printer, calligrapher and type designer William F. Haywood. Each letter 2” square; marked “Each by 1” and ½” Block on wood. Haywood,” ink.

Page 1

OBA-SAN

JAPAN has never been, in its own image, a conquered nation nor a poor land. They point to their traditional toys – a myriad of provincial toys for young and old – to emphasize their centuries of richness.

However, in some years of their centuries, the taifun was a scythe to the earth, the tsunami was the Sea Dragon’s rage, and the Great Catfish who dwelt under their piece of earth flipped his tail often to swallow those unfortunates who dropped into the yawning fissures in the ground beneath them.

There was one small province in a fallow mountainous area which had a history of being spurned by the gods. There the elders established their own sacrificial customs.

When the family could no longer fill the rice bowls of the family treasures – the next generation – the grandmothers at least, that sex of destined sacrifice, created their own traditions.

At a certain age which each decided upon individually, the oba-san would be carried up to this certain mountain by her First Son, and left there, alone, to seek her fate… or till fate sought her.

There were two oba-san in the small village approaching that fateful age.

“Mother, your time has come,” announced her First Son. “I shall carry you to the mountain the day of the Snake, the hour of the Rat.”

“No, no my son. I am not yet ready. I see no reason. I must wait till you present me with a child of your loins, as I did for your father, a son.”

Page 2 and 3

“The day of the Snake, the hour of the Rat.” repeated the son, thinking of the bulky, bulging bag of rice in the godown which his father had left for the mother of his children and his desired posterity.

In another frail house of light wood and rice paper, as was the architectural design of all the land, another son was arguing, respectfully, with his mother.

“My mother, this son of yours must refuse your request to be taken up the mountain.”

“Refuse my request indeed!” she repeated with most unusual asperity, strange to her loving nature.

“It is my last request and you must obey. Already I can no longer enjoy life. I cannot eat my gohan. My teeth are broken and painful.”

“You cannot eat your rice because you deliberately broke your teeth while I was away working in the paddy fields. You cannot do that.”

“But I did. Now obey your elder.”

The son was crushed. How could he leave his mother on the mountain? How could he deny her express wish? She was right, it was traditional. But could he? It would have been easier for him to face a sword – that would have been honorable. But to refuse her wish would be to dishonor her to spare his feelings. He was deeply, deeply troubled.

The day of the Snake, the hour of the Rat arrived. At the summit, the son did not leave his mother who was surprisingly less than frail in her struggles. Therefore, he did not dare to leave her, knowing strength and determination.

At the peak, he struggled with her to push her off. She clung to him for her life.

The second oba-san had her wish, her son honoring her will. In deep sorrow he descended the mountain.

It was his duty as First Son. – HW

Page 4 and 5

Widow Lines… Setting Paper Type…. Only a Bird in a Gilded Cage

Since Cyber Standpipe, publishing has been denied me. My sixth IBM spits the paper back into my face and besides it has no right margin. Only my Xavier Xerox-san keeps me alive in Ajaydom and FAPA. So until PenDragon, so even now, while I am almost learning, I still have to set heads in paper type.

“Nothing new,” scoffed Bill Haywood, citing the hi-tech plastic type (I suppose) like when the Sieste Key Pelican converted, when I was a bikini-clad reporter/beachcomber in the ‘70’s.

No, this is entirely different – time-consuming, frustrating, yes – but joyfully sentimental. This is having my own way, choosing such fonts and making such heads, my own designs (as above shown for one of my miniature displays.)

Time-consuming? (Not as much as learning PC!) The proof page from our proof notebooks is Xeroxed; the letters needed are individually cut. Frustrating? (Not nearly as much as not being able to italicize today – could yesterday!) Yes, it can be frustrating: my eyebrow tweezers grasp a lc “I” – it slips, the printed side down, white on the white page or in my lap. I must locate it or cut another. With some deficient fonts, Xerox the font again.

Then after all heads are in place, the run-off at the Xerox. The word “Sheikh” has somehow disappeared half-way through the run. (Always Xerox two copies of working fonts.) Maybe PC might become fun some day.

(With thanks to Bob L, Norm M, and Tanny P and those who suffered along the way (Not half as much as I.)

MERLIN Teed was the first to respond to PenDragon. Apropos, since it was Merlin the Magician who names Uller Pendragon and made him King Arthur’s father. (Idylls of the King.)

Red Dragon, as you’ll note if you earn one of my comp cards, was printed (letterpress, of course, card stock is heavy) by Phil Driscoll, who transformed the Li’l Red Devil into the li’l red dragon on the card. Empathy. But there is a book upon my shelves Red Dragon, by Thomas Harris, author of Silence of the Lambs – psycho-sexual-serial stuff. It is my guess he’s Thomas Harris, MD, psychiatrist.

Wesson once remarked that he liked the idea of just clicking into italics instead of moving from case to case. Even at the speed at which I set type, I could set this whole page in the time I contrived to work in those italics.

Which reminds me, Shep got the Last Word after all. Comparing the old with the new in Standpipe, I wrote, “Helen can teach a boy to set type in an hour,” The printer had his fait accompli, after all. It was printed: “Even Helen can….” – HW

Page 6 and 7

Something for FAPA

We were visiting my third cousin’s family and at dinner I was offered wine. I mimicked Shep who would mimic someone else and replied, “I don’t drink…. Wine.” The conversation continued; then I turned to teenage son Scott and asked, “What was that quote?” Promptly he answered, “Dracula, by Bram Stoker.” I fell in love with him on the spot! We’ve since had a long conversation on the phone; he gushes enthusiastically to an understanding ear.

It is a thrill to find such intelligent conversation in what is rather an esoteric field, to the Outsider. But 17 is the right age, about the same time I went Lovecraftian, soon after HPL died. An interesting fact I learned from Scott is that the true (and intelligent, my guess) aficionados of the genre do not bother with the modern (and full color) revivals of the Olde Movies.

I saw the modern version of The Island of Dr. Moreau recently and turned it off. What a pity to besmirch the Oldes. October (Hallowe’en of course) is Horror month on some TV stations. You’ll find the foolish “Die, Monster, Die” is really “The Colour out of Space.”

So, HPL. Etc. have a new acolyte in Scott. Good.

I don’t think it will get to the FAPAzine stage. – HW

Do catch Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas if you haven’t seen it. HF on it will be too late.

I put a Canon Black Ink in my Mac Printer; now it won’t work, only groans about my ColorEtc but I’m not using color, only the Black??

Page 8

OBA-SAN

Top: Noren decorative hanging of kimono-width lengths this of kokeshi dolls, solid wood with turnable heads. In businesses, it conveys the “good will” or reputation of the firm.

Sendal tansu – chest of drawers distinguished by artisan-decorated iron hardware. Beckoning Cat: you think it’s waving bye-bye but it’s telling you to come in. Seen at traditional stores, restaurants, etc., Two Daruma-Ephemeral papier-mache. Eyes blank; make two wishes. Wish granted, paint in one eye, etc. R: One-half kimono. All in one style of Japanese Art. End: Tohoku horse with treasure bags – HW, SStandpipe.

Oba-san means either Grandmother or “old woman,” according to how it’s pronounced.

Next: ATTACK of the CYBER COLONS!!!

The “Hammered Silver” exclusive font, on heavy paperboard, will be auctioned at the NAPA Convention to honor Tillie Haywood, NAPA stalwart. (I think Bill would like that, don’t you.)

Back Cover

PenDragon 10 9/99

The Snuggery
Helen Wesson
Venice, FL 34285

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