Sunday, December 31, 2006

We’ll Take Calvinism for $100

One of us on staff read the final book in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series and there’s a group of people known as the Calvins who study the works of Mr. King religiously, making all sorts of cross references to people and places and even brand names.

Gosh, who would be so crazy as to do something like that?

Happy New Year.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Time Capsule: The Subject of Fidgettine Scholarship

November, 1966: Of all the funny things we’ve read, heard, and seen about the life of Saint Fidgeta, nothing seems more absurd then it being used as a classroom textbook.

In a class taught by John Bellairs. Really.

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Book Alert: The House Where Nobody Lived

The High Street wizards are coming back to you! Today!

After a three-year hiatus, Brad Strickland returns as author of the newest spooky adventure of John Bellairs's Lewis Barnavelt and Rose Rita Pottinger. The House Where Nobody Lived is the eleventh book in the long-running and popular Barnavelt series, centering on the strange Hawaii House of New Zebedee, Michigan.

Welcome back, Lewis - and a tip of the hat to Brad, too!

Monday, October 2, 2006

Annual Scarecrow Festival

As autumn approaches, more and more figures stuffed with straw will begin popping up in John Bellairs's hometown of Marshall. The annual Scarecrow Festival takes place October 14-28, 2006, with maps available at the Chamber of Commerce office.

For more information:

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Time Capsule: 1956

September, 30 1956: Back to college we go as television and music star Eddie Fisher drops in on the student body at Notre Dame, broadcasting his NBC program, Coke Time, live from the pep rally at the old field house. Along hand in the production were the Notre Dame Band and Glee Club. After the program, Fisher and wife Debbie Reynolds mingles with students; both were in attendance at the football game against Indiana the next day. We've learned John - starting his Sophomore year - was not the BMOC at this point so we find it doubtful he was in attendance at the pep rally.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

2006 Living History Portrayal Walk

Oakridge Cemetery, one of the oldest continuously operated cemeteries in Michigan, is home again this year to the annual Living History Portrayal Walk. This guided walking tour will feature actors portraying seven significant persons from Marshall's past at each of those individual's gravesites. The event will take place rain or shine so participants are encouraged to bring flashlights, wear comfortable walking shoes, and carry an umbrella.

When: October 14, 2005
Time: 7:00 pm

For more information, please contact the Marshall Chamber of Commerce.

There was evidently a mix-up last year, as Walter tells us he misinterpreted his itinerary and ended up a few miles northeast of Marshall and trying to find something called "The Big O." When that didn't pan out, he claims to have hitched a ride on the Grand Trunk Western Railroad but he isn't sure where he ended up. Anyway, we hope Walter manages to show up for an appearance this year.

Friday, September 1, 2006

Moments of Clarity, Ambiguity

Maybe it's the fact we've been doing this for years and all our digging in the trenches is taking its toll. Maybe it’s the expectation of trying to top ourselves year after year. Do we subconsciously associate mundane items and events thrown at us by life, misconstrue them, and then try to find some veiled Bellairsian reference or influence? Maybe we need a rest.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Time Capsule: 1992

August, 1992: 14 years ago this August, John's last book is published a year after his untimely death. The Mansion in the Mist, with a working title of The Mansion at the End of the World, is the fourth, and as of this writing, the final book in the Anthony Monday series. Anthony, Miss Eells and her brother, Emerson, endure a jolting ride in an old wooden chest and find a sinister world whose inhabitants are...planning...heh-heh...well, we won't spoil it for you. Let's just say it involves a guy named Marius Ambrose and some of his friends.

Sunday, August 6, 2006

Dedicated Words Which Writers Use

One of the first things we did when setting out to find people with memories of John when we began this project was identifying those individuals that played such an important part of his life that he dedicated his books to them. Who were they? Old friends from college? Family members? Other authors? People he’d met in since moving to Massachusetts? To cut to the chase...well...yes, some of all of the above.

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

43rd Annual Historic Home Tour

“The Marshall, Michigan Home Tour is in its fifth decade of offering exquisite private homes and businesses for public viewing and enjoyment. The tour will feature eight vintage homes and will include five historic museums covering diverse specialties such as unusual architecture, antique home furnishings, Civil War memorabilia, and a restored antique post office. To close out the tour's sixteen structures will be three businesses from Marshall's well-maintained historic business district. Marshall's Home Tour was voted the Best Home Tour by the readers of AAA's Michigan Living magazine.”

Of special interest to fans of John Bellairs is the inclusion of the G.AR. Hall (402 East Michigan Avenue) and Honolulu House Museum (107 North Kalamazoo Avenue) in this year's tour.

When: September 9-10, 2005
Time: Saturday 9:00 to 5:00, Sunday 10:00 to 5:00

For more information, including cost, please contact the Marshall Chamber of Commerce or Marshall Historical Society.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Happy Birthday, M.R. James

We celebrate what would have been the 144th birthday of historian and author Montague Rhodes James (1862-1936), long remembered for his series of ghost stories. Following English tradition, many of his 30+ stories were written and read aloud during Christmas Eve gatherings of friends.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Book Alert: Le Tramway Qui Voyageait dans Le Temps

Le tramway qui voyageait dans le temps is set for publication in October, 2006; its the French edition of The Trolley to Yesterday.  As before, Lalex will be creating the colorful, contemporary cover artwork.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Book Marketing Goes to the Movies

NPR had a story recently about publishers finding new ways to promote forthcoming titles: “now, companies are producing trailers for books — like movie previews, but for literature.”

The story notes some of these trailers are online only, while others are on the big screen across theaters.

That got us thinking of the next Lewis Barnavelt book – of course, due on shelves in just over three months – and what kind of “preview” could be created to pique the interest of readers. Or, perhaps a campaign highlighting the entire Barnavelt series?

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Build His Statue to Make him Glorious

So the city of Marshall is thinking about decorating their already historical community with public art: sculptures, statuary and the like.  Vee Kalnins, an artist at the Blue Hour Gallery in Marshall, was quoted in the Battle Creek Enquirer as saying that, if approved by the Marshall City Council, art would be placed throughout the city encouraging local artists to display their work in a public venue.

Saturday, July 8, 2006

Letting Thee Play the Scribe

Whilst out in the trenches we came across the a rather ambitious chap calling himself gollum42 whose summer goal is "writing a feature length screenplay adaptation of The Curse of the Blue Figurine, by John Bellairs."

We wish him well and hope we hear – or see - some of his endeavors. This may, naturally, bring up questions regarding films of John's books and all we can say for now is that something might surface someday but at the moment we're out of the loop of any such news.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Time Capsule: 1966

June, 1966: We celebrate John Bellairs' fortieth year as an author this month, as his first book, a collection of silly stories about bizarre bishops, confused cathedrals, and numerous naughty nuns, was published.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Researching the PMLA

We are interested in figuring out John Bellairs’ contribution, if any, to the Publication of the Modern Language Association, or PMLA.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Strange Maine

Founded in 2005, the blog Strange Maine documents some of the odder things happening in the Pine Tree State. John Bellairs wrote of some weird happenings in Maine in The Spell of the Sorcerer's Skull, particularly some spooky happenings in Vinalhaven. Michelle Souliere notes the book is one of her favorites as well, plus passes along a story about some recent events in Vinalhaven:

Thursday, June 1, 2006

Marshall Garden Tour

You may have heard by now that Marshall, Michigan has more than a handful of historical houses. Many of these homes are surrounded by unique gardens of vividly colored flowers and raised vegetable garden beds. All this and more awaits visitors to the 16th Annual Marshall Area Garden Tour. Scattered among these "work in progress" gardens are antiques, unusual plants, stained glass sculptures, restic twig furniture, and a seated area under a picturesque pergola. The Marshall Area Garden Club sponsors the tour.

When: Saturday, July 8 to Sunday, July 9
Time: 10:00 to 4:00 Rain or Shine!
Cost: $6 advance; $8 day of tour

For more information visit the Marshall Area Chamber of Commerce.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Time Capsule: 1453

May 29, 1453 - Bust out your copy of The Trolley to Yesterday and read along as the Byzantines and their city of Constantinople fall to the Ottoman Turks - 553 years ago today!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Tales of a Sixth-Grade Library

Our research has turned up Jim Roeg and his question: what you were reading in sixth grade?

Jim says he chose that year because it’s an awkward time for most. “As the oldest kids in primary school, we’d just reached the pinnacle of the social hierarchy…and were about to slide right back down it, into the scary and unforgiving world of junior high.” Sounds like Lewis Barnavelt in The Figure in the Shadows....

Monday, May 15, 2006

Memoriam: Elaine Lund

Elaine Lund passed away May 1, 2006.  Elaine (b. 1926) along with her late husband, Bob (1925-1995), founded the Marshall, Michigan landmark, the American Museum of Magic, in 1978.

The Lunds were dedicates of Brad Strickland's The Specter from the Magician's Museum, in which Lewis and Rose Rita visit a similar museum in New Zebedee and stumble upon spells, scrolls, and spiders.

Monday, May 1, 2006

Book Alert: The House Where Nobody Lived

Here's a brief synopsis about Brad Strickland's forthcoming Lewis Barnavelt adventure, The House Where Nobody Lived, due for publication in October 2006:
Lewis Barnavelt and his best friend Rose Rita investigate a strange old house in their hometown and discover that they may be dealing with powerful ancient Hawaiian spirits.

Golden Time Conventions

We are interested in discovering any information about John Bellairs's connection to science fiction or fantasy conventions or conferences - past or present.

For example, we know that he attended the Boskone conventions held in 1982 and 1983. In 1982 he appeared as part of the entitled "What To Do When Your Prince(ss) Does Not Come," with Jane Yolen, Ellen Kushner, Robin McKinley, Georgess McHarge, C. J. Cherryh, and Joan D. Vinge.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Saving the Best for First

It’s been said by many a fan that The House with a Clock in its Walls was John's best novel because it was also his first.

Our introduction to Lewis and the book’s cozy familiarity have made fans out of readers for years. And while the later tales of Anthony and Johnny – and even Lewis – still send shivers through our fingers as we turn the page, there’s something about coming to New Zebedee that first time.

Seattle librarian Nancy Pearl says on NPR that writers pour their heart and soul into their first books. “Not that they don’t do it for subsequent books, but I think in some cases maybe the best has come out there.”

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Time Capsule: 1870

April, 1870 – Marshall is celebrating the official opening of Eagle Hall, or the Eagle Opera House. The first performance was an operetta called the Naid Queen. For history buffs, the original entrance to the structure was at 101 South Eagle Street; the entrance was later moved to State Street until January 1890 with another entry area back on Eagle Street [Marshall, 186]. You can read about the New Zebedee Opera House – and the Day of the Dead – in the Bellairs/Strickland collaboration, The Doom of the Haunted Opera.

Saturday, April 1, 2006

Allusions Held In The Exchange

(editor’s note: occasional contributor/wiseacre Ron Sharp wrote seeking our help recently as he would soon be taking part in a book discussion club where the featured title would be The Face in the Frost. As such he came to us for talking points:
I had happened to brag that my friend knows all things Bellairsian. Basically these discussions are just interesting and thoughtful tidbits and insights you would like to bring up about the author, or the book, or something that struck you about the book.  Anything you think other intelligent people would find titillating?  Kind of like that article I wrote on the Ace of Nitwits - just observations.
We piled on some of our favorite trivial tidbits about Face and sent him packing. What follows is his review of the proceedings that fateful evening. Proceed with caution.)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Remembering Severn Darden

by guest contributor, Alfred Myers:
In browsing the Bellairsia website, I noticed that The House With a Clock in Its Walls lists Severn Darden as one of the actors. Darden was a product the famous Second City Comedy Group that originated at the University of Chicago. It, and its direct predecessor, the Compass Players, generated much of the edgiest comedy of the late 1950s and early '60s and produced such stars as Mike Nichols, Elaine May, and Shelly Berman.

Thursday, March 2, 2006

Come Under One Body's Hand

Just got through watching a strange little film entitled The Wicker Man. It’s set on an island off the west coast of Scotland where people continue to practice ancient pagan rituals. The film was released in 1973 and it’s fairly dated and all, but there was one curious little scene that made me do a double take.

Monday, February 20, 2006

A Note of Thanks

On the occasion of the fifth anniversary of Bellairsia we wanted to take a moment and say thank you to all the various people and organizations we have been in contact with regarding our John Bellairs project. We’ve tracked down some shaky leads and interviewed some enlightening people that we feel was time well spent and we look forward to what the next five years have in store for us – and just as importantly, all of John’s longtime fans.


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A Radio Reading of House

You can listen to the ticking and the tocking of The House with a Clock in it Walls on Vermont Public Radio's Camel's Hump Radio. The program originally aired February 12, 2006 but there is a snippet of the book read by Thom Rivera available via VPR's website. Plus it covers our favorite scene - the chase scene (you know what we're talking about) - from chapter six, to boot! A well done reading and we love Mrs. Zimmermann’s accent.

Sunday, February 5, 2006

Memoriam: Al Lewis

The man behind the Grampa Munster mystique has died.  Actor Al Lewis was born in 1923 and began appearing on television in the late 1950s.  His first big break was on Car 54, Where Are You? (1961-63) but is fondly remembered by a generation of fans as Grandpa on The Munsters (1964-66).  Not only an actor, Lewis was active in politics and owned a restaurant in New York, appropriately called Grampa’s.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Book Alert: Le Sifflet, la Tombe et le Fantôme

The French edition of the The Whistle, the Grave, and the Ghost, with cover art by Lalex, is to be published this June. This is book #10 in the Kévin et les magiciens series.

Sunday, January 1, 2006

Researching the Phoenix

We are interested in learning more about John Bellairs’s contributions to the Phoenix, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based weekly newspaper. It’s a long shot, we know, being almost 40 years after the fact, but that hasn’t stopped us before. Here is what we know: