Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Friday, November 20, 2009

Sharing The Faith

We were reviewing contents of the archives in the interest of shining some new light on old discussions when we came across this recollection:
I was at the local Barnes and Noble yesterday when I encountered an older man looking for Harry Potter for a grandchild. I pointed them out to him...then I said that if the child liked that series, there was another series he would also like.. It was not quite on such a grand scale as the Rowling books, but it was another very good series, and was even set in nearby Marshall. I showed him the Lewis Barnavelt collection and I think he got both sets. This is not the first time I have told a Potter buyer about John Bellairs.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Thursday, October 8, 2009

In Small Square Letters, Were These Words: ‘Lucky You!’

Honestly - after we had a good chuckle and contemplated doing something similar - we couldn't help but think of ol' Alpheus Winterborn.

Our friends over at the Museum of Hoaxes recently shared the story of a woman who found "a small envelope in a rocking chair she bought at auction. In the envelope [were] a key and a note giving her directions to where $250 in U.S. gold coins was supposedly buried in a lead chest...The note was signed 'Chauncey Wolcott.'"

Thursday, October 1, 2009

2009 Living History Portrayal Walk

Marshall's Oakridge Cemetery, one of the oldest continuously operated cemeteries in Michigan, is home again this year to the 9th Annual "If These Stones Could Talk..."  This Living History Portrayal walking tour will feature actors portraying significant people from Marshall's past at his or her's gravesite. Portrayals this year include Beatrice H. Babbitt (1870-1959), an eccentric, penny-pinching, heiress and world traveler; Winston Schuler (1908-1993), the second family owner of the 100-year-old Schuler’s Restaurant (dubbed the “Consummate Host”); plus a host of others.
  • Saturday, October 10, 7PM
For more information, including associated costs, please contact the Marshall Chamber of Commerce.

Walter said that last year – in honour of Brad’s book – he had a great idea about soliciting two other “fans” to parade around the cemetery in red robes and carry a piece of wire wrapped with fiery Christmas lights and shaped into the number 3. However he later revealed that because the robe covered his eyes he found himself sopping wet and wandering the banks of the western Kalamazoo River by himself. Better luck this time around...we hope he manages to show up for an appearance.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bellairs Cam: Your Eyes On Thy Picture

Is there something strange in your neighborhood, a mysterious house or odd sculpture that either resembles or reminds you of something from John or Brad’s books? Then get your camera ready!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Where My Land And Living Lies

John taught for only one school year at Shimer College, back when it was stationed in Mount Carroll, Illinois. The college left the small community in the 1970s for bigger pastures and the grounds became home of the Campbell Center for Historic Preservation (not quite the place to go if you want to find out how to get that century-old tobacco stain out of your Civil War-era floor rug).

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Something About the (Other) Cronin House

Some comments on the Cronin House of Marshall...and some bit of history on the Cronin House in Hayward, California. There’s no relation between the two aside from the name but the one out west sounded as if it had an interesting history, too.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Time Capsule: The Face...at 40

We would do all Bellairsdom a great disservice if we did not acknowledge that this year is the fortieth anniversary of The Face in the Frost. It is still the first (and the only compleat) book to feature the wizards Prospero and Roger Bacon who live in a strange land known only as the Southern Kingdom. And what a book it is.  Bellairs actually composed a lot of the book in another kingdom – the United Kingdom...England – in his years after teaching at Shimer College. How far along in Prospero's tale Bellairs was before he arrived in England is uncertain but the ambiance there surely inspired him – note the similarities of local flavor found in the Gorgon's head in Bath and Somerset's Five Dials Inn to some of the encounters in Face.

Dan Poblocki: The Stone Child

The Stone Child is the first book of author Dan Poblocki, who confesses to being a fan of Mr. Bellairs:

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

46th Annual Historic Home Tour

The Marshall, Michigan Home Tour is in its 46th year of offering exquisite private homes and businesses for public viewing and enjoyment. The tour will feature vintage homes and historic museums covering diverse specialties such as unusual architecture, antique home furnishings, and more. The Home Tour was voted the Best Home Tour by the readers of AAA's Michigan Living magazine.
  • Saturday, September 12, 9:00 to 5:00
  • Sunday, September 13, 10:00 to 5:00
For more information, including associated costs, please contact the Marshall Historical Society or Chamber of Commerce.

Elsewhere...Laura Martone shares some comments on the tour and some of the historical residences in Marshall, and Historical Ken discusses some of the other tours around Michigan.

Some pictures of Marshall courtesy Scott Diussa and David Bowser.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Time Capsule: 1959

August 21, 1959: Fifty years ago today, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a proclamation making Hawaii the 50th state. Hawaii had been considered for a state as far back as 1919 but it took another four decades to make it happen (read more about that here).

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bibliofile: Luis Barnavelt List, Pierscien I Czarodziejka

It’s time for another look at the cover art that Polish publisher Amber used when they released the Lewis Barnavelt series last decade. There’s not really a lot to say about these except, that since the scenes on the paperback covers depict scenes from the books in exactly no way at all, we feel the publishers just found some spooky-looking artwork, slapped on their titles and logo, and then sold ‘em like hotcakes. Or babkas. Whatever.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Even More About Widow's Walk Lake

Filmmaker and Bellairs-fan James Strayer got in touch with us late last year about Widow's Walk Lake, a film inspired partly by some of Bellairs’ spooky stories.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Creature (Still) for Sale

We mentioned a year or so ago that the Cronin House was for sale. Hearing nothing since then, we sort of figured the house was again serving as a family’s home. Not so.  Fan Bill Tiller passed word along to us today that the house is still looking for an owner.

We wonder if the Pendleton-Alexander House ever found an owner?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Hath Alter'd That Good Picture?

Occasionally there are comments about great books of children’s literature being made into the latest Hollywood craze (or perhaps even some sort of cult-appreciated visual piece). Collected here are some thoughts on the adapting of The House with a Clock in its Walls (1973) into something for the big screen. It’s something that’s been discussed for ages – even as far back when the CompleatBellairs was new – and while it would be a great way for the book to get exposure, we tend to agree with those that say it needs to be done right.  We all saw Once Upon a Midnight Dreary.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Book Alert: Magic Mirrors

Magic Mirrors, the new John Bellairs omnibus, is now available for purchase from the New England Science Fiction Association (NESFA). Want a copy of The Face in the Frost with Marilyn Fitschen’s original artwork? Want to relive the adventures of The Pedant and the Shuffly? Want to finally see St. Fidgeta back in print after all these years?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Portraying The Real Myra Eells

We caught this bit of news from the Fort Walla Walla Museum World blog about its Living History Company and individuals portraying some of the Seventh Day Advenstist pioneers in the Walla Walla region dating to the latter half of the 19the century.

Among those being portrayed were pioneer missionaries Cushing and Myra Eells (shown here portrayed by Rogers Miles and Barbara Coddington).  No, it’s not the Myra Eells you think we’re talking about, and, yes, there really was a real-life Myra Eells.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Time Capsule: 68 AD

July 9, 68 AD: The Roman Emperor Nero committed suicide after he was deposed by the Senate 1,941 years ago today (we think it was a Saturday). Nero is best remembered all these years later for his tyranny and lavishness – that he “fiddled while Rome burned” and later constructed a golden palace.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Goreyana: The Curse of the Blue Figurine

Notes from Goreyana about The Curse of the Blue Figurine:
In this return by Edward Gorey as illustrator, he begins the format he will employ throughout the remainder of the series. There is a big full color dust-jacket painting and (usually) a frontis illustration. Sometimes there are spot illustrations which are dropped into the text, but the books are not fully illustrated. The frontis drawing for this title is a particularly nice.
In November 2010, Goreyana acquired the frontis illustration and provided additional commentary:
The skill of Edward Gorey's crosshatching technique in this piece of art is a master class in line manipulation. In this single image Mr. Gorey uses variations of line to render the cave, figures, rain outside the cave, fire, smoke from the fire, and the enveloping darkness surrounding them. I especially like the two pinpoint glowing eyes of the advancing figure which are added with small dots of white paint. 

Bookmark Him and Write His Speeches

We couldn’t help but scratch our heads recently when we received an interesting email from people soliciting bookmarks for a Chicago-area celebrity bookmark auction. It began innocent enough but the message soon took an odd turn:

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Goreyana: The House with a Clock in Its Walls

Notes from Goreyana about The House with a Clock in Its Walls:
For this first collaboration, Mr. Gorey has illustrated the story in much the same style as a number of other projects he had worked on. The wrap-around design of the dust jacket has images from the story sprinkled across the front and back covers, and the book is fully illustrated throughout the text with wonderful full page drawings and spot illustrations. Mr. Gorey was not commissioned to do books 2, 3 and 4, but would return on book #5 with a new look/approach to the dust wrapper that would continue through the rest of the series.

At one time, Gotham Book Mart offered me the original pen and ink artwork for the dust wrapper design, but I did not purchase it. At the time, there were a number of original Gorey pieces available, and I felt that this piece was less desirable than some other artwork being offered. It sold before I could "get back to it". Unfortunately, none of the interior illustrations for this title were made available, and I do not know if they had been sold previously or if they are still in the Gorey estate archives.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Celebrating Michigan Week 2009

Michigan Week was created in 1954 to unite members of local communities and promote the good things the state has to offer. The Battle Creek Enquirer reports that “Marshall is one of the few cities across the state that puts on a host of activities celebrating Michigan's past, present and future.”

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Goreyana Presents John Bellairs

The Goreyana blog is a great source for information about collecting the artwork of Edward Gorey and we’re pleased to announce that author Irwin Terry will begin a series of posts about the artwork created for the books written by John Bellairs and those completed and continued by Brad Strickland.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Memoriam: Dominic DiMaggio

Dom DiMaggio, the former center fielder for the Boston Red Sox from 1940 to 1953, and the younger brother of Yankees center fielder Joe, died Friday, May 8. He was 92.

DiMaggio was special favorite of Johnny Dixon's because both wore glasses and Johnny had been to Fenway Park to hear the kids chant:

He’s better than his brother Joe,
Do-mi-nic Di-Mag-gi-o!

(The Mummy, the Will, and the Crypt, 39).

Monday, May 4, 2009

Memoriam: Tom Deitz

Author Tom Deitz died April 27 from from heart complications.  He was 57.

Read more about Deitz's books and his memorial service.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Memoriam: George Kell

George Kell, a former third baseman who played for, among other teams, the Detroit Tigers from 1947 to 1952, has died. He was 86.

Shortly after arriving in New Zebedee in 1948, Lewis and his uncle Jonathan discuss Tiger baseball and whether Lewis knows Kell’s batting average that year.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Time Capsule: March 8, 1959

March 8, 1959: Tonight’s the night that John Bellairs makes his television debut – live from Washington D.C. Fifty years ago tonight Bellairs, along with three other students, represented Notre Dame on the G.E. College Bowl program. In a battle of the wits with Georgetown University, these other Four Horsemen from Notre Dame buzzed in their answers but it was Bellairs who made the night memorable.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Dream and Fruitless Vision

Here’s something we though somewhat appropriate for today, the supposed end of analog television here in the United States: on February 17, 1958, Pope Pius XII declared Saint Clare of Assisi (1193-1253) the patron saint of television.

Monday, February 9, 2009

In This Distracted Globe...



Seeing some of Thomas Doyle’s globes reminded us that Bellairs’s characters were often fond of the little worlds within globes – be it the crossroads in a green glass paperweight, a purple spark in a sphere fastened to the handle of a magic umbrella, or the magical snowscape created by Mattheus Mergal in The Hand of the Necromancer.

That, and be careful if you walk in on the group from 'The Reprisal' (right).

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Memoriam: John Updike

American author John Updike (1932-2009) has died; he was 76. His well-known works included the Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom series (Rabbit Run, 1960), Bech, a Book (1970), The Witches of Eastwick (1984), Terrorist (2006), and the Pulitzer Prize winners Rabbit Is Rich (1981) and Rabbit at Rest (1991). He also contributed well over 800 pieces of writing to The New Yorker magazine. A native of Pennsylvania, Updike later lived and wrote in his adopted Massachusetts.

We’ve been told John Bellairs wasn’t the biggest Updike fan: Bellairs once gave a tour of houses in Newburyport where he was negative only about Updike's house. We think John would have appreciated Updike’s view on history, though --
"Time passes in America and Asia; in Europe, history occurs."

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Report the Features of the Octagon House

We received word a few weeks ago that the Winterborn House in Marshall is for sale. Actually, it’s the Pendleton-Alexander House and here’s the scoop:

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Haverhill And The Squirrel's Hoard

The ComicBookResources site featured Comic Book Legends Revealed #188 recently and included this bit of about another of Haverhill's inspirations involving a shirt emblazoned with an S:

Comic Legend: There is no explanation for the S that Jughead wears on his shirt.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Gotham Book Mart Holdings Are Given to Penn

The Gotham Book Mart was a famous midtown Manhattan bookstore and cultural landmark that operated from 1920 to 2007.  News of its priceless artifacts was noted by Sewell Chan in the January 2 New York Times:

#JohnBellairs