Pure Maple Syrup

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Zine
Title: Pure Maple Syrup
Publisher: Homosapien Press
Editor(s): Julien
Date(s): 1996-1999
Series?:
Medium: print, fanzine
Size:
Genre:
Fandom: due South
Language: English
External Links: [1] & [2]
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Pure Maple Syrup is a slash, with some femslash, anthology originally published in Australia.

Art has been included on Fanlore with the publisher's permission.

Issue 1

cover issue #1,
table of contents with authors & story summaries, issue #1, click to read

Pure Maple Syrup 1 was published in 1996 and is 103 pages long, 77,800 words. 1996 was before the end of the 2nd season; Ray Vecchio had not yet been recast, and the Ray Wars were safely in the future.

The end of the zine included flyers for other Homosapien Press zines, Manacles Press zines (Julien's agent in the US) and Cohorts zines by IIBNF Press.

  • Kisses and Promises (2 pages) by Julien (Benton kisses Ray because he feels like it.)
  • Ow (3 pages) by Quill
  • After The Deal (4 pages) by Gillian Middleton
  • The Glacier (3 pages) by Gillian Middleton (sequel to "After the Deal")
  • Parental Guidance Recommended (2 pages) by Julien (ghost dads)
  • Standing Still (7 pages) by Quill (a partner rape story)
  • Still Standing Still (3 pages) by Quill (a sequel to "Standing Still")
  • File It Under ‘M’ For Miscellaneous (5 pages) (Welsh reads reports.)
  • In Vino Veritas (4 pages) by Gillian Middleton (some graphic sex and talk of masturbation; and then it gets personal.)
  • Waiting (3 pages) by Quill (a death story)
  • You're So Sweet, a filk by Julien
  • Throwing Stones (2 pages) by Quill (Huey/Louie)
  • Pasta Marciano a recipe by Julien
  • Midnight Lesson (2 pages) by Gillian Middleton (What if Fraser and Ray were in a relationship before the episode "You Must Remember This"?)
  • The Mountie, His Wolf, The Cop, His Car and His Sister (7 pages) by Julien (a first-time set around "The Wild Bunch")
  • The Living Years (18 pages) by Julien (a plot-based story)
  • Communion (6 pages) by Julien (a curtainfic, the first line of the story is "'We are becoming frighteningly domestic...'")
  • More Things (4 pages) by Gillian Middleton (This is based around "Heaven and Earth" and is one of two stories in the zine that is not Ray/Benny, but Benny/Garrett)
  • Good Start (4 pages) by Gillian Middleton (a sequel to "More Things," this one is Benny/Ray)
  • Let Me In (12 pages) by Julien (an alternate ending to "Letting Go")
  • One Too Many (Francesca/Elaine) (1 page) by Quill (Francesca/Elaine)
  • Unique Quarry (Francesca/Elaine) (3 pages)by Quill
  • Holding On by Gillian Middleton

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 1

I had already decided to go ahead and review this zine when I sat down and watched "Juliet is Bleeding", the DUE SOUTH episode last night. After that, I think I deserve a little sweetness. (Was it just me or was Benny blinking back tears when Ray yelled at him that first time? And the scene in the hospital at the end *sob*. Dammit, hug the man! Of course, I do think I was the only person who was watching that when Louie got blown to kingdom come thinking, "You know, he's not going to be able to find *another* Riv like that!") Anyway, onto the review.

As always, any opinions expressed, typos, misspellings or misrepresntations in the following are mine and mine alone. No one forced me to read the zine (except maybe Bernice) and no one forced me to write about it. If anyone disagrees in full or in part with what I have to say, speak up; I haven't shot anyone in years. If anyone agrees with what I have to say it will be an amazing coincidence and I demand that you speak up!  :-) As always is the case with my posts, it's long (get your minds out of the gutter!), so consider yourself warned.

In the editorial, Julien makes it plain what kind of zine this is--sweet and sappy. As she say "You want dark, go ask Bernice!" And with one or two major exceptions, that's exactly what this is--light, silly, and overall enjoyable. It's the show at it's silliest best in some places and it's silliest unbelievable in others. In that vein, I have to say that my favorite part of the zine was the "Disclaimer" at the beginning which is written as if Fraser was reading it. Completely in character and had me giggling the whole time.

I am one of those people that came out for the editorial notes at the beginning of stories back when we had that debate awhile ago and I have to say that the first thing I tend to do when I get a new zine from Stew, er, Julien, is to read her "waffles" (Sounds like a medium having breakfast) at the beginning of each story. I have to say, though, that now she's changed her name again, every time I read "Julien's waffle" at the top, my mind couldn't help but add "fries". Sorry, just a personal note...

"Kisses and Promises" by Julien--It's one of the shortest stories in here has to be my favorite. The idea of Benny just deciding he felt like kissing Ray is nice, but Ray's reaction is perfect and priceless.

"Ow!" by Quill--Nice, small, not-quite-lovers-yet story.

"After the Deal" by Gillian Middleton--I get the feeling that "Francesca, I-I can't..." is fast on it's way to becoming the "Avon stood over Blake's body, gun smoking in hand..." of DS slash. ("Francesca stood over Fraser's body, lingerie smoking..."?) In any case, this is about the third story with the same theme I've read like this and considering how many zines there have been like this so far, I'm ready to say just, "Okay, okay, he couldn't, they didn't, Ray did, let's move on." This one did have the added twist (even though I found it unlikely) of Ray *not* getting his man.

"The Glacier" by Gillian Middleton--as the sequel to "After the Deal", I found it much more interesting and I'm sure more than one person will prefer it to "Juliet is Bleeding", at least as an end to Zuko. A little more heart wrenching than the previous stories before it's happy ending, too.

"Parental Guidance Recommended" by Julien--You can guess what it's about. It's a more serious and less kinky than a certain other writer's take (first name starts with a B) on the "won't their dads find out since they hang around all the time" idea. I preferred Fraser Sr. and Benny's conversation to Ray and his father's, but that's at least partly due to the fact that I'd take their relationship over the Vecchios' (dead or alive) any day.

"Standing Still" by Quill--Didn't buy it, couldn't buy it, never, uh-uh, nope. Firstly, I don't like rape stories. Secondly, I can't stand partner rape stories. Thirdly, this seems wholly inprobable. Benny's got the flu and Ray can't help litterally raping him? Other than the above reasons, I would just like to say that I've had the flu. It ain't pretty. And I doubt that (accepting the idea that Ray in a million years would be inclined to do this) even the "world's most perfect human" is that desirable looking when in the midst of the flu.

"Still Standing Still" by Quill--Since this is the sequel to "Satnding Still" and hinges on Benny *accepting* what Ray did to him, I had almost as much problem with it.

"File It Under 'M' for Miscellaneous" by Annie Staurt--I'm afraid I missed the point of this one. Welsh is finally sitting down to read all the self-reprimands Benny has written and right in the middle is a description of how he and Ray became lovers. Why would he do that? The sort of explanation that's given really doesn't convince me and the ending is flat.

"In Vino Veritas" by Gillian Middleton--Another sweet one and with graphic sex as well (not a sure thing in one of her zines). It starts with Ray making the observation that is people could lick themselves the way dogs do, it would solve all the world's problems, goes onto a conversation about masturbation and from there it gets personal. I liked it, it kept the characters sounding like themselves.

"Waiting" by Quill--Death story alert! This is well written and not at all silly. It also features the return of "Buck" Frobisher.

"You're So Sweet" filked by Julien--Um, er, yeah...

"Throwing Stones" by Quill--It's cute, but I don't quite buy the whole Huey/Louie deal. Made sure to read it after watching "Juliet is Bleeding", though.

"pasta Marciano" created by Julien--a recipe she thought up in honor of David M. himself. Too bad I don't have my grams to teaspoon/cup conversion table... :-)

"Midnight Lessons" by Gillian Middleton--Interesting idea of a what-if: What if Benny and Ray were already in a sexual relationship by "You Must Remember This". Can't really see Ray doing what he did, but it's an interesting thought.

"The Mountie, His Wolf, The Cop, His Car and His Sister" by Julien--Set around "The Wild Bunch" and the phrase 'Would it be imposing on our friendship if...' this is a surprisingly sweet and mood driven first time. This has alot more atmosphere than most of the other "happy" stories in here and is really quite a lovely first time story. Evidentally this is the first in a series of stories with the following two being subsequent installments.

"The Living Years" by Julien--Whaddaya know? A plot! Okay, it's not one that really interested me, but it was unique enough to have one. The non-plot stuff, though, I did like and she certainly does have Ray's self-image (or lack thereof) down pat. This also has Fraser making a statement as close as I've ever seen to my own personal belief system re: religion.

"Communion" by Julien--The first line of the story is "'We are becoming frighteningly domestic...'" and they certainly are by the end of this story. While this is well on it's way to becoming a curtain hanging series (there's a note at the beginning of this one saying that more will follow in PMS 2), it still has some interesting conflict, though most of it has to do again with Ray and his self-image.

"More Things" by Gillian Middleton--This is based around "Heaven and Earth" and is one of two stories in the zine that is not Ray/Benny; in this one it's Benny/ Garrett. I have a bit of a hard time wrapping myself around that one. and while I am inclined to give this lady an A for effort as Defender of the Faith, I can't say I give it a complete seal

of approval. This seems to try to imply that Garrett *is* Frank McPike after Vinnie's been killed and while they were played by the same actor, they are definitely two different people. (I say this while trying to work out a "Joe Dawson really is Uncle Mike" Highlander story...) It does have an interesting bit of forshadowing, though, at the end with Garrett having a "vision".

"A Good Start" by Gillian Middleton--a sequel to "More Things" and this *is* a Benny/Ray story. I liked it alot better, too. Ah, true love; only

for Benny would Ray stand out in the rain in a suede jacket...

"Let Me In" by Julien--This is really an alternate to "Letting Go". Set right after "VS" in the hospital, it takes into account Victoria in regards to the R/B relationship. As Sonny Steelgrave would be to Vinnie/Frank, Victoria may be gone, but not forgotten.

"One Too Many" by Quill--What's a girl to do when her favorite mountie's hurt and ignoring her? Turn to another girl who has the same favorite moutnie. Francesca/Elaine and for some reason, I never would have thought of it.

"Unique Quarry" by Quill--What happens when a boy finds out why his sister and his friend are no longer pursuing their favorite mountie (who happens to be his as well). As I said, I'd never thought of it for some reason and while I'm not exactly convinced, it's kinda sweet.

"Holding On" by Gillian Middleton--The last story in the zine (set after "Letting Go"), I would have hoped for a stronger ending. It was a good story, but I found the last couple lines a little flat which almost tripped up the story for me.

All in all, if you like a snuggle, I'd strongly recommend this zine. If you like a little bit o' angst before the snuggle, I'd still recommend it since there were several stories that fall into that mode. If you like 'em rough, naked, and underpaid, I'd back up their suggestion you go ask Bernice... [1]

Pure Maple Syrup 2

cover of issue #2
interior art issue #2, Natalie Billing

Pure Maple Syrup 2 was published in 1996 and contains 145 pages and includes stories by: Julien; Quill; Gillian Middleton; Annie Stuart; Colette T Bolech. Features 1 illustration by Natalie Billing. All stories are Fraser/Vecchio unless otherwise indicated. Online review of the zine

  • Salt Kisses by Gillian Middleton (takes place during the Pilot) (7)
  • A Thousand Words by Quill (Fraser is kidnapped and beaten by the Donnelly brothers. Attempted rape.) (10)
  • Someone to Love by Julien (Willie deduces that Ray and Fraser are lovers.) (17)
  • The Nature of the Beast by Annie Stuart (set during the episode "Hawk and a Handsaw," darkfic) (24)
  • Shadows by Julien (sequel to "Nature of the Beast") (40)
  • Reach Out by Gillian Middleton (PWP, sequel to "More Things" and "Good Start") (44)
  • It's Hard to Love, and And They Lived Happily Ever After, The End by Julien (sequels to "The Mountie, His Wolf, The Cop, His Car and His Sister") (47) (69)
  • Shopping by Quill (73)
  • Possession by Quill (Ray and Fraser are lovers before "Victoria's Secret") (74)
  • Adventure at Smuggler's Cove by Gillian Middleton (after the episode, "Letting Go") (80)
  • Reality Check by Quill (Fraser and a leprechaun) (94)
  • Curiouser and Curiouser by Julien (100)
  • Colder Thy Kisses by Gillian Middleton (set after "The Vault") (106)
  • Retaliation by Quill (110)
  • Bumblebees by Julien (Ray has a mid-life crisis.) (111)
  • Let Loose by Quill, and Freedom by Julien (Alternate ending/story to "Juliet is Bleeding") (123) (125)
  • A Gentle Man by Julien (set after "A Bird in the Hand") (128)
  • Clueless by Colette T. Bolech (post-"Some Like It Red") (138)

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 2

This was the epitome of 'One Star'. I happily read through this zine, and yet couldn't recall hardly anything about this zine. Pure mind candy! What stands out is a rather dark story called 'The Nature of the Beast' by Annie Stuart about a Benny who forces Ray to abuse him in exchange for his love, a sadly dark and twisted relationship, with a somewhat hopeful ending in the sequel 'Shadows' by Julien. Not your regular 'Due Slash', that's for sure! Also, an unusual angst/first-time story where Benny suffers from pre-ejaculation, but makes it up to Ray with stamina ~ 'Bumblebees' by Julien. The rest of the zine was typical smarmy F/V. [2]
Okay, here it is. As usual, it came, I devoured, I wrote a review.

Standard reviewer's disclaimer: The following is my opinion and mine alone and not meant to force anyone to think like me. If you have a different opinion about any of the following, please feel free to say so.I don't bite and only scratch under certain circumstances. Now, on with the review.

[zine info omitted]

Overall, I have to say that this was a better written zine than the first, though I don't know if I enjoyed it as much overall. That may sound a little odd to some people, but there you are. There's very little that I found I didn't like, though.

"Salt Kisses" by Gillian Middleton--Everything happens pretty quick in this story. It slips a sex scene between two scenes of the pilot episode and considering their relationship and not to mention the timeframe, I really don't think it's possible.

"A Thousand Words" by Quill--Fraser is kidnapped and beaten by the Donnelly brothers. I had several quibbles about this story from things like, why didn't the paramedics, who gave Fraser ointment for his whip marks that cover his whole back, insist on taking Fraser to the hospital? He seems pretty wobbly and couldn't have fought that hard. To why was Ray so insistent that he check to make sure that Fraser is telling the truth about the fact that Fraser *wasn't* raped, just threatened with rape. If I'm supposed to find him checking a traumatized Benny's asshole sexy, it fails miserably and if I'm supposed to see this as an example of Ray's caring and concern, it misses the mark on the one too since I thought his insistence was just making Fraser feel worse and if he honestly didn't believe Fraser, then he should have called a doctor, something he probably should have done anyway.

"Someone to Love" by Julien--Willie deduces that Ray and Fraser are lovers. Probably had something to do with the tickle fight they have in his precense. (Way to keep a secret, boys.)

"The Nature of the Beast" by Annie Stuart--Wow. That pretty much describes it. Wow. While reading it, it has a deceptively light tone. It's set during the episode "Hawk and a Handsaw" and when I read the waffle which said that it was a very dark story and starting to read it, I really didn't see any of that, I expected to find the equivelant of something that jumps out at you at the end. Instead, the climax of the story is very dark, but everything before it makes it utterly believeable. It is a slow, steady buildup of motivations and emotional factors. Because you spend most of the story getting background and motivations, the ending seems totally reasonable, though it was something that I never would have expected when I started the story. The closest analogy I can think of is to say it was like someone managed to put their hand so slowly into my body that I never even noticed it until I looked down and saw them holding my lower intestine. By far the best story in the zine.

After reading this story and also the LOCs in the back on the first PMS, I feel that I want to clarify why "Standing Still", the partner rape story in the first issue didn't work for me. It was not simply because I don't like partner rape stories, though I don't. In many ways "The Nature of the Beast" was a much darker and more disturbing story. But TNotB also set reasons as to why they were doing such dark things. I never got any motivation really as to why Ray would rape Fraser (outside of lust and "wanting to show Fraser how much he loved him" *gag*) and I felt like I was just supposed to take it as a given that this would happen.

"Shadows" by Julien--a sequel to "The Nature of the Beast". Ending on a more upbeat note, but it's hardly a chipper read, either.

"Reach Out" by Gillian Middleton--pwp. Sequel to "More Things" and "A Good Start" in PMS1, the stories set around "Heaven and Earth" and in particular Garrett. This expands on the shower scene/vision that Garret has in the former story.

"It's Hard to Love" by Julien--4th story in the series that started with "The Mountie, His Wolf, the Cop, His Car and His Sister" in PMS1. Nice sequel that deals with several problems the two would have in a relationship. I liked the fact, too, that they weren't all patly resolved, though they do make headway in most areas. I'm not sure the song lyrics for "Praying for Time" really fit with this story, though. While I understand the refrence to "It's hard to love" and all that, the song itself is about the apathy of people to each other on a societal level more than anything and trying to bring it down to a much more focused group--especially this pair--didn't really fit well to me. But I can just skip the song lyrics, so it's hardly a problem and besides, "Ice Cream" *does* fit.

"And They Lived Happily Ever After The End" by Julien--The fifth and final story of the above series and exactly what it says it is. And they clean an apartment, though I don't think we actually *see* them hang the curtains.  :-)

"Shopping" by Quill--Ah, love. Definitely a short little thing for the Ray fans.

"Possession: by Quill--Interesting idea about Ray and Fraser being lovers before "VS" and Jolly catching up with Victoria before she caught up completely with Benny. The one instance of 'rough sex' between the two wasn't isn't really shown and Fraser's (and Ray's) reaction seem rather over the top to me. I don't particularly see Fraser as such a delicate flower and if something truly bad had happened, I wish it would have been explained more clearly. I didn't get the idea that Ray raped Fraser just that he was a little forceful.

"Adventure at Smuggler's Cove" by Gillian Middleton--Post-"Letting Go" story. Nice Ray and Fraser interaction and I loved the bit with Fraser splitting wood.

"Reality Check" by Quill--Fraser and a leprechaun. Odd little story, but kinda cute.

"Curiouser and Curiouser" by Julien--A nice *fun* sex story set around "North" They frolic and it works.

"Colder Thy Kisses" by Gillian Middleton--Set after "The Vault". Nice Fraser reasoning.

"Retaliation" by Quill--*Very* short, cute piece.

"Bumblebees" by Julien--Ray's having a mid-life crisis a few years early. Another nice, first time story. (These boys ain't too well-balanced, are they?)

"Let Loose" by Quill--Alternate ending/story to "Juliet is Bleeding" with a rather chilling after effect on Fraser.

"Freedom" by Julien--sequel to "Let Loose". In her waffle, Julien says, " Well. here's another offering from Stew's Patented Happy Endings Unlimited" and that's exactly what it is. Ghost-and-Mrs.-Muirish, which I have a soft spot for.

"A Gentle Man" by Julien--Set after "Bird in the Hand". A nice handling of Ray's insecurities. I also loved *who* Fraser was jealous of. (Oh, yeah, these boys could definitely use a little therapy...)

"Clueless" by Colette T. Bolech--post-"Some Like It Red". Well, we were all thinking it. Okay, *I* was thinking it. Nice way to end the zine.

So all in all, I would definitely recommend this zine, especially for "The Nature of the Beast" for those who like well written, not-peppy stories. There is plenty for those who prefer their sap, too, to be sure. Well worth the $18 for me. [3]

Pure Maple Syrup 3

cover of issue #3
table of contents issue #3, click to read
interior art issue #3, Shayne McCormack

Pure Maple Syrup 3 was published in July 1996 and is 136 pages long.

  • Understanding by Quill (2 pages)
  • Due Trouble by Quill (13 pages) (Fraser isn't a Mountie but a high school teacher)
  • The Amazon by Gillian Middleton (2 pages)
  • The Snake by Gillian Middleton (4 pages)
  • Partners by Julien (7 pages) (Everyone is Gay)
  • Erasing The Borders by Quill (3 pages)
  • Dream Believing by Quill (7 pages)
  • Regarding Benny by Mona Moore (2 pages)
  • Meanings by Quill (4 pages) (Different interpretations of Yeats' "Two Trees" poem and Fraser's possession of it by Fraser and Ray.)
  • Jealousy by Gillian Middleton (Ray starts to fall for a state's Attorney.) (13 pages)
full table of contents issue #3, click to read
  • Chasing Rainbows by Laurie Taylor (Fraser is called back to the Yukon.) (26 pages)
  • Oblivion by Gillian Middleton (Set around "Juliet is Bleeding"). (6 pages)
  • Rosewell by Julien (3 pages) (story set around the episode "Starman".)
  • Deal With The Devil by Gillian Middleton (9 pages) (Ray is kidnapped and Fraser has top turn to Zuko for help as a last resort in and makes the title's deal.)
  • Staying by Julien (18 pages) (A three-way story between Ray, Fraser and Suzanne Chapin, the Federal Agent and poor driver from "You Must Remember This")
  • Lazy Days (2 pages)
  • Watching The Detectives by Annie Stuart (12 pages)

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 3

"Reviewer's disclaimer: Take a guess...

PURE MAPLE SYRUP 3 - edited and published by Julien Bozza, available in the US from Manacles Pres: $15 in person, $18 via mail (even if it is a little more expensive, I prefer dealing with them rather than the vagaries of international mail and sending cash through it.)

Another solid effort from one of the gals in Australia. Why are all the best DS zines coming out of Australia, anyway? Come on, fellow Yank chicks (and resident chick, Mfae), where's your patriotic pride (or whatever)?!

"Understanding" by Quill--Fraser had no problem with loving Ray, no problem having sex with Ray, but he had a problem understanding being in love with Ray? Sounds more like a Ray problem to me...

"Due Trouble" by Quill--An interesting au involving Fraser *not* being a Mountie, but a high school teacher. Interesting idea and a fairly solid story, but this supposes that quite a bit of Fraser's personality and knowledge relies on his being a Mountie. And his being a Mountie was almost solely to do with his father.

"The Amazon" and "The Snake" by Gillian Middleton--Metaphors can be dangerous things. All about Ma Vecchio finding out about her little boy and the Mountie. Certainly a different take than almost every other story I've seen that dealt/didn't deal with this.

"Partners" by Julien--First of all, I do tend to get a little antsy when a serious story starts to suppose that almost *everyone* in a particular series is gay/bi. And I just don't want the image of Welsh and Huey, really I don't!

"Erasing the Borders" by Quill--When cops love cops.

"Dream Believing" by Quill--This one was...odd. Yep, that's the word.

"Regarding Benny" by Mona Moore--Now, that's just plain silly.

"Meanings" by Quill--Different interpretations of Yeats' "Two Trees" poem and Fraser's possession of it by Fraser and Ray. Well done.

"Jealousy" by Gillian Middleton--Nice first-time story. Ray starts to fall for a state's Attorney (not *that* one).

"Chasing Rainbows" by Laurie Taylor--Fraser's called back to the Yukon. Some nice, angsty relationship type stuff with a sappy (though fairly believable) ending.

"Oblivion" by Gillian Middleton--Set around "Juliet is Bleeding". Ray thinks he is using Ray, which in a way, he is. But in a good way.(In most other fandoms and most other stories, though, it would be called one partner seeking comfort.) Another solid story.

"Roswell" by Julien--No, Ray is no Brad Pitt (he should thank his lucky stars, IMHO), but he is kinda cute. Nice short story set around the episode "Starman".

"Deal with the Devil" by Gillian Middleton--This issue's walk on the dark side. Ray is kidnapped and Fraser has top turn to Zuko for help as a last resort in and makes the title's deal. I found Fraser and Zuko's actions and dialogue completely believeable and very chilling. I'm not sure Ray's actions at the end totally have me convinced, though.

"Staying" by Julien--This is a three-way story between Ray, Fraser and Suzanne Chapin, the Federal Agent and poor driver from "You Must Remember This" (no Dief). I was rather surprised at Fraser's easy acceptance of the situation. While I don't see him as sexually naive, I do think that he has to feel a certain connection with a person before he will go to bed with that person. Maybe I wouldn't have had the problem I did in that regard if I had seen the un-submitted episode Julien wrote that inspired this story. My other problem was Ray. In many ways, I see him as even more old fashioned in the ways of romance than Fraser. And I see him as a bit too old fashioned--and territorial-- for me to believe this. Nice sex bits, though, if you don't mind the het stuff with your slash.

"Watching the Detectives" by Annie Stuart--A very nice, solid ending to the zine. Nice interrcuts with episodes from the end of first season and all of second. And while I still don't care for the Most Annoying Female Guest Star Ever, I like her better here than in "An Invitation to Romance". And I'm not sure I believe the idea of her and Fraser having sex--see above story comments for reasons. While I do think he does have some connection with her, I think at most, it was because the situation made him think of Victoria. Maybe that would be enough, but I don't know.

Overall, another solid entry with both sap and serious stuff. Almost all happy endings with only one or two notable exceptions. (Yes, Terri, it's safe.) But some nice angst here and there for those of us who enjoy that, too. Definitely recommended." [4]

Pure Maple Syrup 4

cover of issue #4
interior art issue #4, Anja Gruber

Pure Maple Syrup 4 contains 145 pages and features 1 illustration by Anja Gruber. All stories are Fraser/Vecchio unless otherwise indicated.

  • Dating the Cultural Stereotype by Julien (Takes place during the episode "Chinatown". Follows the episode while giving a slightly different motive to the dinner Fraser and Ray were going to at the beginning.)
  • Pretty Things by Gillian Middleton (Ray and Fraser in a gay bar.)
  • 3.00 am Thoughts by Quill (mid-relationship story, Vecchio, Sr. appears)
  • One Man in a Thousand by Julien (features Ray / Francesca incest, as well as Ray / Fraser) (Story is set during "Letting Go" and while Ray is dealing with his guilt over the shooting and his unrequited love, he ends up having sex with Francesca.)
  • Comfort by Quill
  • Here be Dragon-flies, and There be Humans by Julien (Ray as an elf/fairy with wings named Raimondo)
  • Choices by Quill (Ma Vecchio finds out and is not thrilled)
  • Deep in the Ground by Trish Darbyfeld (set around the episode, "North")
  • Triangle by Jeannie Marie (poem)
  • Life's Worth by Quill (Thatcher in this one)
  • Out of Friendship by Julien (PWP)
  • Badges by Gillian Middleton (kidfic)
  • Only Connect by Julien (set around the episode "Flashback")
  • Lying in Unfamiliar Arms, and Where There is Life by Gillian Middleton (deals with AIDS)
  • Auyaq by Mona Moore (outdoor PWP)
  • Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Annie Stuart (warning from the editor: "Old Codgers Alert")

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 4

"Reviewer's disclaimer: I read it, I thought it, I wrote it up. These are only my opinions and mine alone. No one gave them to me and I don't expect everyone to take mine as a blanket truth. By now, most of you should know my tastes and know what yours are as well. Add salt to taste. And if you disagree or agree with anything, please feel free to say so! I'd love to see discussion on this stuff. Actually, at this point, I'd love to see discussion!

PURE MAPLE SYRUP 4 a Due South anthology zine published by Julien and available from her for $A10 in person, $A15 in Australia, $A17 in New Zeland (surface) and $A22.50 overseas airmail [address redacted] Also available in the US from Manacles Press [address redacted] (I'm assuming that they are still going by their standard pricing, which would be $15 in person and $18 via mail.)

Nasty technical stuff out of the way, on to the review!

Overall, I'd have to say that I'm slightly disappointed in this issue. Even with a few stories that I liked, I came away with more that I didn't like.

"Dating the Cultural Stereotype" by Julien--Takes place during the episode "Chinatown". This did a really good job of following the episode while giving a slightly different motive to the dinner Fraser and Ray were going to at the beginning.

"Pretty Things" by Gillian Middleton--It's different and it's very short. Ray and Fraser in a gay bar, though? "3:00am Thoughts" by Quill--My biggest problem with this story--aside from Fraser's repeated use of a certain word--is how frigging *helpful* Vecchio, Sr. is being. Still, it's a nice little mid-relationship story.

"One Man In a Thousand" by Julien--Julien made a point of putting her warnings at the back of the zine this time out in order to let people who want to be surprised, be surprised. However, since I can't actually discuss this story without mentioning what the waffle was warning about, consider this a spoiler, I guess. Okay? All right, this story is set during "Letting Go" and while Ray is dealing with his guilt over the shooting and his unrequited love, he ends up having sex with Francesca. Now, my problem with this story is not the general idea of incest, but the idea of Francesca and Ray! They love each other, sure, but I think they'd rather chew on glass than have sex with each other.

"Comfort" by Quill--While I agree with the waffle on this one that it's sweet, I'm not sure I understand where the 'wryness' comes in. "Here Be Dragon-Flies" and "There Be Humans" by Julien--I couldn't do it. I just couldn't. I tried. Really. But I couldn't. You see this is an au. Where Ray is Raimondo. A fairy. As in wings.

"Choices" by Quill--Nice change of pace from the "Ma Vaecchio finds out about her son and the Moutnie and is thrilled" stories. Because she finds out and she is definitely *not* thrilled.

"Deep In the Ground" by Trish Darbyfeld--A fun little piece set around "North". However, even though the author attributes the 'loose' sound of Fraser to the konk on the head that he recieves, her version of him doesn't much sound like Fraser from that episode, either. "Triangle: Ray, Frankie, Benny" by Jeannie Marie--Poetry. Didn't read them.

"Life's Worth" by Quill--Well, I guess it's nice to see Thatcher played as non-bitch. Plotholes abound, though: How do Fraser and Thatcher both know who Shannon is but Fraser isn't aware of Shannon's penchant for killing hostages? (Ma Vecchio and Thatcher agree it would be best not to tell him.) Why didn't Ovitz help the terrorists find their way out? Okay, he was hired to give them info on the jewels and the other people, but they knew they'd have to leave. What, they didn't want to pay him overtime? "Out of Friendship" by Julien--Suspension of disbelief fully on, it's a sweet, pretty gosh-darn charming pwp.

"Badges" by Gillian Middleton--Sap and kid alert! And yet, it's about as well done as any sap and kid story I've read, outside of the first story from "The Water is Wide" story cycle in S&H fandom. "Only Connect" by Julien--Set around "Flashback". Good story with a nice atmosphere. "Lying in Unfamiliar Arms" and "Where There is Life" by Gillian Middleton--I don't generally like AIDS stories for two reasons: It's too real a thing for me and it's also done very badly nine times out of ten. But this is done in such a way that it is both sad and sweet. It also is in character, especially for Benny's reactions and action. (Thank you, Gillian, for not having him off himself!)

"Auyaq" by Mona Moore--Ah, Summer! And outdoor sex without the bugs, the poison ivy or the pine cones in rather delicate places. There's no real plot, but there's certainly more here than your average pwp.

"Tomorrow and Tomorrow" by Annie Stuart--Definitely--different. And as Julien says in her warning: Old codgers alert!

So, looking back over it, I find myself wondering why I was disappointed in it. Maybe because it didn't have quite the same level of solid writing that I've seen in the last PMSs. Maybe it's not so much that there were more stories in here that I didn't like (which looking over the review, doesn't seem quite true), but that there were more things about the stories I didn't like that I *really* didn't like! And less about the stories that I really liked that I *did* really like. Okay, I'm not sure that *I* understand those last two sentences..." [5]

Pure Maple Syrup 5

cover of issue #5
interior art issue #5, Anja Gruber

Pure Maple Syrup 5 contains 136 pages and features 2 illustrations by Anja Gruber. All stories are Fraser / Vecchio unless otherwise indicated.

  • Biting the Big One by Annie Stuart (PWP)
  • Porter's Book, and Ray's Reading by Quill (Set after "Gift of the Wheelman", this is about Fraser reading the manuscript that Porter's son was throwing out. The novel turns out to =e about two men in prison and the subsequent rape and sexual relationship between the two.)
  • Redwoods and Rivieras by Julien (first time sex in the Riv)
  • Due to Circumstances by Quill (sequel to an AU story in a previous issue where Fraser is a high school teacher.)
  • Dreams of Significance by Chris J Ueberall (Fraser has recurring dreams about choosing between Victoria and Ray after the episode, "Victoria's Secret")
  • Solace by Jeannie Marie (Fraser/Huey)
  • The Albatross by Quill (Fraser isn't lucid and Ray is overcome with desire.)
  • A Beginning by Julien
  • Demons by Gillian Middleton ("Deal with the Devil" in issue #3)
  • Comedy of Manners, and Ladies' Man by Barbara T, and Yenta by Eileen Roy (contains het)
  • Fast Forward by Trish Darbyfeld (Could Ray have used something to restore Fraser's memories faster in "Flashback?")
  • Oh, la, Canada by Veranda Balustrade (a spoof)
  • Whitly Green by Lainie Stone


Reactions and Reviews: Issue 5

Reviewer's disclaimer--It came, I read, I reviewed. Salt to taste.

PURE MAPLE SYRUP 5 a 107,000 word Due South anthology zine published by Julien (see review for PMS 4 for ordering info)

Overall, I'm much more pleased with this issue than 4. Lots of solid writing and characterization. And some installments from some of my favorite authors.

"Biting the Big One" by Annie Stuart--In her LOC in PMS 4, Jane Mailander nominated Gillian Middleton for sainthood. Personally, I want to nominate Annie. (Not that I'm prepared to kill her to get the process rolling!) This story is definitely sap, but it's well written sap. Hard to argue with that.

"Porter's Book" and "Ray's Reading" by Quill--I just couldn't buy this one. Set after "Gift of the Wheelman", this is about Fraser reading the manuscript that Porter's son was throwing out. The novel turns out to be about two men in prison and the subsequent rape and sexual relationship between the two. Fans of rape stories might like this one, but I had a really hard time believing Fraser would be so turned on by even the fantasy of raping Ray without the slightlest twinge of guilt.

"Redwoods and Rivieras" by Julien--It's difficult to get much sappier than this. But they have the trees for it! This is also the first story, surprisingly enough to me, that I've read where they actually do it in the Riv. And some of the, um, limitations are also acknowledged.  :-)

"Due to Circumstances" by Quill--sequel to "Due Trouble" in PMS 3. This is the au where Fraser is not a Mountie, but a teacher. We have more plot here and they actually have sex.

"Dreams of Significance" by Chris J. Ueberall--Fraser has recurring dreams about choosing between Victoria and Ray after VS. I enjoyed it, but there was one technical aspect that I found myself *incredibly* annoyed by. I know that there are many people who don't like it when monikers like "the Italian", "the cop", "the computer tech" are used to replace 'he' as an antecedant in a slash story, especially when that moniker, while accurate, has nothing to do with the actions of the story. I usually don't have as much problem with that, unless it just seems really inappropriate. In this case, I was annoyed with the repeated use of "the Italian-American" in reference to Ray. Not only is this something of a bit awkward a phrase in a story, but it's also unnecessary. Especially in a romantic scene. IMHO.

"Solace" by Jeannie Marie--My stomach is a little tender at the idea of Huey/Gardino. It's positively rolling at the idea of Huey/Welsh. I quite simply don't *buy* Huey/Fraser, under any circumstance!

"The Albatross" by Quill--Set around "North". What is it with Quill and having Ray overcome by lust when Fraser isn't lucid?

"A Beginning" by Julien--Set after "Juliet is Bleeding". This is another short, sweet pwp--though it doesn't overload on the sap--which is also another speculation on Ray's and Frank Zuko's relationship.

"Demons" by Gillian Middleton--Sequel to "Deal with the Devil" in PMS 3. If I can suspend my disbelief in what Ray did in DwtD--which still seems more than a slightly odd reaction to his finding out what was going on--this is a solid sequel.

"Comedy of Manners" by Barbara T --Don't expect a chuckle fest, she means this in a more literary, subtle manner. She likes Thatcher a lot more than most slashfen is my immediate reaction. Oh, and *het sex alert*! The slash aspects aren't completely brought out until "Ladies' Man" which follows it. A very interesting twist and idea on one of the main reasons Fraser doesn't get involved with women more.

"Yenta" by Eileen Roy is a link between the two stories which seems a cute , in-character exchange between Fraser and Dief, but not really necessary to the two other stories.

"Fast-Forward" by Trish Darbyfeld--Could Ray have used something to restore Fraser's memories faster in "Flashback?" Cute and short.

"Oh, La, Canada" by Veranda Balustrade--I love a good spoof and this one pulls out all the stops. She hits all the points that have already become cliches in this fandom and in others. And there are a few cliches she's trying to head off at the pass. So to speak.

"Whitly Green" by Lainie Stone--It's great to finally see a story in this fandom from Lainie. This story is a very good look at Ray and his emotional state all the way through--or at least up until the final sex scene. In it, she seems to loose Fraser's 'voice', which is solid all the way through. There are certain things he says that seem decidedly un-Fraser--even for a horny Fraser.

So, again, this is another very good entry into the series of zines. And it's good to see more and more from my favorite writers." [6]

Pure Maple Syrup 6

cover of issue #6

Pure Maple Syrup 6 contains 137 pages and features 2 illustrations by Anja Gruber, and 12 pages of LOCs. All stories are Fraser / Vecchio unless otherwise indicated.

  • Lather by Lainie Stone (3% of zine)
  • Seventeen, and Summer Vacation by Julien (2 a/u h/c stories aka 'Due South 90210', set when the guys were 17 years old, featuring Ray Vecchio / Frank Zuko as well as Benton Fraser / Ray Vecchio) (47%)
  • An Arm's Length Away, Aftermath: Victoria, and Steve by Khylara (poetry) (1%)
  • On Guard by Jane Mailander (6%)
  • An Ending by Susan Rose (1%)
  • Bedtime Story by Gloria Lancaster (5%)
  • Mission Improbable by Fallon Oxley (5%)
  • Top Ten Lists by Jane Mailander (well, they're top ten lists!) (1%)
  • The Courting of Benton Fraser by Jeannie Marie (Benton Fraser / Jack Huey) (6%)
  • Ms Fraser by Julien (2%)
  • Rest in Peace by Susan Rose (3%)
  • A Wild Surmise, and On the Night of the Dark Moon by Rupert Rouge (2 stories anticipating what we knew of the third season before we actually saw an episode, featuring Benton Fraser / Ray Vecchio) (16%)

Pure Maple Syrup 7

Pure Maple Syrup 7 contains 145 pages and features 2 illustrations by Anja Gruber. All stories are Fraser/Vecchio unless otherwise indicated.

  • And Then We, um, Bonded by Julien (6)
  • A Perfect Question by Lisa Martin (15)
  • Haiku: Slash (poems) by Jane Mailander (18)
  • The Valley of the Shadow of Death by Julien (19)
  • Michigan and Massages by Laurie Taylor (30)
  • In the Closet by Lainie Stone (37)
  • To Top it Off by Jane Mailander (39)
  • One by Julien (41)
  • Heat Stroke by Elaine Walker (73)
  • Laughing Matter by Pamela Rose (75)
  • The Long and Winding Road by Rosa Westphalen (79)
  • Emerald and Sapphire (poems) by Jeannie Marie (91)
  • To Hold Men Together by Wally (92)
  • Helpful Shadows by Susan Rose (101)
  • Forever and Ever, Benny by Quill (107)
  • Without Honour by Mireille (120)
  • Duets by Julien (131) (Fraser / Kowalski)
  • Up From the Ashes by Alberta Skies (137)

Reactions and Reviews; Issue 7

Reviewer's Disclaimer: I had an opinion around here somewhere. Hah, found it! And it's mine, all mine!!! [Insert diabolical laugh I can only do in e-mail since in RL, if I attempt it, it normally ends up in a coughing fit which sounds less diabolical and more tuburcular.] If you can find yours and it differs in some way shape or form (and hasn't got a c&d order on it from MGM/UA), then please feel free to share.

[zine info deleted]

This issue certainly lives up to its name. There's certainly lots of sap here. But sap doesn't necessarily equate bad. There's well-written, in-character sap, and then there's...not. This collection of stories covers that spectrum pretty well. There are also a few oddly sappy, oddly creepy moments here and there.

The zine looks good; well, it looks pretty much the same as it usually does.  :-) I do have to say that I like the idea of putting the titles of the story and the name of the author across the bottom of the pages. It's not too big that's it's obtrusive and it's not too small that it's unreadable. Julien has also once again put warnings for the stories at the end of the zine, a nice happy medium for those who want to be warned and those who don't about potentially disturbing elements in stories. There is one story that had a warning that I thought seemed unecessary, but I also would rather have warnings on stories that are *bad*, so that's just me.  :-) I also commend Julien for once again publishing the LOCs for the zines--even if I still think my reviews read a little odd as LOCs. She also once again publishes an updated version of the "PMS Episode Guide", listing all of the DS episodes up to the third season premiere and the stories which are set in or around them that she has published. Kinda makes me motivated to write something for some of the eps that are so far storyless.

Onto the stories:

"And The We, um, Bonded" by Julien--The truly sappy start to the zine. Set around the end and after the episode "Flashback", this has Ray and Fraser preparing to, well, bond. Yep, it's a wedding story, but it's not a 'let's get Father Behan to perform the ceremony and Ma to cook and invite everyone at the precinct and consulate' kind of thing. Aside from a rather ragged start (I'm still not sure how Ray made the logic leap to assuming Fraser was proposing to him) and just the general too-sweet-for-my-tastes storyline, this is oddly in character in several places. If you like you're Ray's sweet tempered and in just an all around good mood.

"A Perfect Question" by Lisa Martin--Fraser is once again confused by an American phrase and Ray and Fraser end up on a date. Really, one doesn't seem all that connected to the other and the story simply never clicks for me. It's also in first person, Ray, and you generally have to have a very good hold on the character for me to like that in a fan story. And the voice just seems off for much of it.

"Haiku: Slash" by Jane Mailander--Don't do fan poetry.

"The Valley of the Shadow of Death" by Julien--an AU where Ray, instead of being a cop, is a bagman for Frank Zuko. Ray and Fraser actually meet in the freezer from the episode "They Eat Horses, Don't They?" and things get a tad spooky from there. While there is sap in here, it's a much darker, thicker kind. This is not sweetness and light and while it's not a death story and I can think of several ways for everything to work out, it's a surprisingly dark story from Julien's pen. It's not depressing, per se, simply sad.

"Michigan and Massages" by Laurie Taylor--Takes place around "Pizzas and Promises" and is especially linked to Ray's near-drowning. Oh, yeah, and a massage. Pretty hot little pwp.

"In the Closet" by Lainie Stone--It's not the size of the closet that counts, it's what's in it that matters! Another pwp, this one more silly than some others. Cute.

"To Top It Off" by Jane Mailander--Another pwp, this one with a punchline. Well, it's better to be safe than sorry.

"One" by Julien--It's hard, sometimes, reviewing zines that are done by friends. It's a little stranger to be reviewing a story I was thanked in the waffle for! But I'll give it a try.  :-) By far the longest story in the zine, this is about Fraser's relationship with Victoria and some of the repercussions of her reappearance in his life. Initially, it takes place in 1984 and chronicles the meeting of Fraser and Victoria and those days in the wilderness the two of them spent together. Then, it jumps to 1994 and shows the relationship between Ray and Fraser prior to and after the appearance of Victoria. And not just her effect on their friendship immediately after, but into the future as well. Despite not caring for the ultimate plot turn that is taken at the end (more because it's just something I don't care to read about in fanfiction than anything else since it's handled very well), I liked the story almost totally. It was well written and thought out and is ultimately a character study of Fraser and his reactions to Victoria. Oh, and I second Sandy's thanks in Julien refraining from quoting the song 'One', much as I like it!  :-)

"Heat Stroke" by Elaine Walker--I'm not a masturbation fan--at least not when it comes to reading about it!

"Laughing Matter" by Pamela Rose--She's writing DS! Yay! (Just don't tell me she was writing this instead of finishing the WG novel!) Anyway, it's an interesting little story about Ray trying to break down Fraser's walls, to get him to open up about his feelings sometime after VS. And yes, there's some humor in it, but not in the way Ray originally intends. And much more subtle than the Three Stooges.

"The Long and Winding Road" by Rosa Westphalen--Starting at the end of "Letting Go", this story takes place throughout the second season through "Some Like It Red". Has one of my favorite kinks, the False Start. Some nice character development and it resolves at a totally believeable point for me.

"Emerald" and "Sapphire" by Jeannie Marie--It's poetry and it's based on Julien's Ray-as-an-elf-with-faerie wings story. Needless to say, I didn't read them.

"To Hold Men Together" by Wally--Ray and Fraser each realise that the other loves him and have sex. And then they deal with family and work. While it didn't go quite as overboard as some stories, this is a sapfest and I also don't believe Ray's mother's reaction at all. And why do people always think that Fraser would so blithely leave his apartment?

"Helpful Shadows" by Susan Rose--Set after "Juliet is Bleeding". Interesting mood piece, a sort-of Dreamscape-meets-the-apartment-scene-in-"Red, White or Blue?".

"Forever and Ever, Benny" by Quill--Well, I liked it better than most of Quill's stories! This was apparently written before "Flashback" and has Fraser loosing his memory. The twist on this, amoung others, is that Fraser and Ray are already lovers at this point. It's got problems--way sappy and first-person Fraser written by someone who I rarely if ever sems to see the characters the way I do--but everyone is completely conscious when they have sex, so it's something!  :-) Seriously, though, I liked how it is different from "Flashback".

"Without Honour" by Mireille--Fraser is killed and Ray decides to go after the guy who did it. Gloomy as a story like this should be, but kind of nice in its own way. The fact that it did avoid at least one major cliche improved the way I felt about the story.

"Duets" by Julien--This story draws on the first four episodes of the third season and yes, it's Fraser/Faux Ray. Julien asks in her waffle if it makes it better that Fraser's One True Love is Real Ray. May answer: Not really. Actually, in it's own way, it makes it worse. Not only does that have Fraser with someone I don't want to see him with, it has him with someone he shouldn't be with. It also is a bit too much like *using* Faux Ray, even if Fraser tries to avoid that particular situation in this story. I just end up feeling depressed for Ray and Fraser for not being together like they should be--which I can deal with and sometimes like--and really upset for Faux Ray--which for some reason bothers me more.

"Up From The Ashes" by Alberta Skies--Written before the author saw "Burning Down the House", the third season's first episode, this story is about Fraser thinking that Ray has been killed while deep undercover. An fairly good story which ends the zine on a truly sappy note. A little too sappy for me, but...

For the most part, a good read. I'd recommend it to all who don't have a problem with the hopelessly sweet. While there's angst here and there, the sap certainly outweighs it. [7]

Pure Maple Syrup 8

cover of issue #8

Pure Maple Syrup 8 contains 134 pages and features 4 illustrations by Anja Gruber and Jane Mailander, and 6 pages of LOCs. All stories are Fraser / Vecchio unless otherwise indicated.

  • Golden Delicious, and Golden Moments by Julien (mostly Fraser / Mark Smithbauer, with some Fraser / Vecchio) (10% of zine)
  • And Love is the Greatest Gift of Them All by Wally (1%)
  • A Lobster Tale by Julien (2%)
  • Sleeping Beauty by Jeannie Marie (fairy tale) (3%)
  • Temporary Lust by Susan Rose (2%)
  • Just the Touch of Your Hand by Elaine Walker (4%)
  • Many Mansions by Wally (20%)
  • It Happened One Morning by Elaine Walker (4%)
  • Masquerade by Rupert Rouge (10%)
  • At Night (poetry) by Renny Ramos (1%)
  • Just Another Day by Elaine Walker (3%)
  • Masses of Men by Jane Mailander (mostly Fraser / Vecchio, but with multiple partners) (4%)
  • Social Conventions by Mona Moore (Fraser / Kowalski, Sentinel crossover) (7%)
  • New Beginnings, and Together by Alberta Skies (20%)
  • Erotic Art by Jane Symons (Fraser / Kowalski) (9%)

Issue 9

cover of issue #9
interior art issue #9, Ann

Pure Maple Syrup 9 was published in 1999 and is 119 pages long and features illustrations by Ann, Jane Mailander and Renny Ramos. All stories are Fraser / Vecchio unless otherwise indicated.

  • Summer's End by Alberta Skies (sequel to Julien's stories Seventeen, and Summer Vacation) (17% of zine)
  • Between the (Blue) Lines by Elaine Walker (includes some Fraser / Mark Smithbauer) (7%)
  • Eavesdropping, The Phone Call, and For Reasons That Don't Need Exploring at This Juncture by Khylara (poems) (1%)
  • Side Dish by Jeannie Marie (includes some Vecchio / Frank Zuko) (24%)
  • Protector by Quill (9%)
  • Half of Heaven by Renny Ramos (8%)
  • You Can't Take the Memories by Susan Rose (3%)
  • Home is Where the Heart is by Wally (31%)

References

  1. February 3, 1996, Michelle Christian, Virgule-L, quoted with permission
  2. Raonaid's Zine Recommendations, Archived version
  3. In 1996 Michelle Christian posted this review to the Virgule-L mailing list. It is reposted here with permission.
  4. In 1996 Michelle Christian posted this review to the Virgule-L mailing list. It is reposted here with permission.
  5. In 1997 Michelle Christian posted this review to the Virgule-L mailing list. It is reposted here with permission.
  6. In 1997Michelle Christian posted this review to the Virgule-L mailing list. It is reposted here with permission.
  7. In 1998 Michelle Christian posted this review to the Virgule-L mailing list. It is reposted here with permission.