Sunday, December 31, 2006

We’ll Take Calvinism for $100

The Dark Tower
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.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Grasshopper Ramblings' Postcard

John Bellairs
Blogger Grasshopper Ramblings shared some of the people the blogger looked up to as a child. It's a John Bellairs testimonial – and, to boot, it notes John sent the then 10-year-old blogger a postcard. We've known some people who would give teeth – preferably someone else's – for their own Bellairsian postcard.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Cram These Words

The House with a Clock in its Walls
Have you read many collage poems?  Have you ever heard of such a thing?  Here’s an interesting collage poem we found, written by user Four_Thorns. As noted, all words are taken from The House with a Clock in its Walls, though not necessarily in John's original or intended order:
Or was it glue? He couldn’t remember.
Out in the front hall the mirror
on the coat rack was talking to itself
little bursts of static.

Monday, December 11, 2006

A Legacy in Multimedia

The Lamp From The Warlock's Tomb
Wayne Bose writes asking what could be done to further the legacy of John Bellairs.  His idea?  Video games.  Hear him out --

Thursday, December 7, 2006

The Edward Gorey Documentary

Edward Gorey
An update from filmmaker Christopher Seufert of Mooncusser Films documenting his time with illustrator Edward Gorey.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Something About a Bellairsian Musical

Cardiff Giant
We found a rather odd story earlier this week from our friends at the Online Museum of Hoaxes: a musical about the Cardiff Giant. If you're not familiar with the stone colossus we invite you to read a bit about it...and the replica...and the fact a group of people in Iowa came together to sing about it.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Time Capsule: The Subject of Fidgettine Scholarship

Saint Fidgeta and Other Parodies
November, 1966: Of all the silly 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!

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Time Capsule: 1956

Eddie Fisher (Notre Dame 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 mingled 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.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Gorey Talks, Moves

Edward Gorey
One thing led to another recently and the end result was watching the old, eerie extended animated openings of the PBS program, Mystery! The original version's vignettes set the tone but it's the newer, expanded version trying to tell a story we've always liked.  Even though we don't quite get the story.  And that's the point.  However, from these works of Edward Gorey it was but a quick jump to something just as startling: clips of Edward Gorey himself, talking, from the forthcoming documentary project.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

2006 Living History Portrayal Walk

Oakridge Cemetery
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.

Friday, September 1, 2006

Moments of Clarity, Ambiguity

The Simpsons
Maybe it's the fact we've been doing this for years and all our research 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

The Mansion in the Mist
August, 1992: 14 years ago this August, John's last book was 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...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

John Bellairs
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

Marshall, Michigan
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

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-plus 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

Books News
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

Lewis Barnavelt
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

Perry Childermass
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

The Curse of the Blue Figurine
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.

Saturday, July 1, 2006

Roger Bacon, Chewing the Fat?

Roger Bacon
Does this story sound familiar to anyone outside of The Face in the Frost? We're wondering if this may be another legend surrounding Roger Bacon (like the brazen head story) Bellairs borrowed and gave his own twist.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Time Capsule: 1966

Saint Fidgeta and Other Parodies
June, 1966: We celebrate John Bellairs's 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

John Bellairs (1968)
We are interested in figuring out John Bellairs’s 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:

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Six Hundred and Sixty-Six

Childermass behind the wheel
In celebration of the 157 day of the year, and the supposed significance that today's date (June 6, 2006, corresponds to 6/6/06 – 666, the Sign of the Beast) we fetch for you one of the most terrifying, soul-crushing, horrific, monstrosities Bellairs ever referenced.

Thursday, June 1, 2006

16th Annual Marshall Garden Tour

Marshall, Michigan
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, rustic 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

Jim Roeg asks what you were reading in sixth grade? He 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

Memoriam
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

Books News
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

Boskone
We are interested in discovering any information about John Bellairs's connection to science fiction or fantasy conventions or conferences. For example, we know 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

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

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Time Capsule: 1870

Eagle Opera House
April, 1870 – Marshall is celebrating the official opening of Eagle Hall, or the Eagle Opera House. The first performance was an operetta called The Naiad 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.

Sunday, April 2, 2006

Edward Gorey News

Derek Lamb
The Edward Gorey House honors the work of Academy Award-winning animator, producer, director, and writer Derek Lamb (1936-2005), who brought life to the artwork of Edward Gorey in the opening and closing credits for it’s classic PBS series "MYSTERY". When viewing one of Lamb's animated films, Gorey gave it his highest accolade, "It’s so sinister." The exhibit launches April 15 and runs thru June 18, 2006

Link:
edwardgoreyhouse.org

Saturday, April 1, 2006

Allusions Held In The Exchange

Prospero
(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.)

Friday, March 17, 2006

Go with the Green

Saint Patrick
Happy St. Patrick’s Day – and to celebrate, here’s a portion of the hymn Father Higgins taught us, St. Patrick’s Breastplate. Patrick is supposed to have composed this in his preparation for this victory over Paganism.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Remembering Severn Darden

Severn Darden
by guest contributor, Alfred Myers:
In browsing the Bellairsia website, I noticed 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

The Wicker Man
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

Bellairsia
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.

Cheers.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Time Capsule: Feb. 19, 1906

Kellogg's Corn Flakes
Battle Creek, Michigan, is celebrating the centennial of the founding of the Kellogg Company by brothers John and William Kellogg on February 19. The Kelloggs were trying to create a better-tasting alternative to the nutritious but bland bread served to patients at the Battle Creek Sanitarium and stumbled upon the corn flake. 

Bellairs spoofed his Michigan neighbors in The Mummy, the Will and the Crypt, introducing us to the health-nut patriarch of the Glomus family.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A Radio Reading of House

Camel's Hump Radio
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

Grimoire: Curse of the Midions

Grimoire: Curse of the Midions
Amazon has revealed the cover art and a book description of Brad Strickland’s Grimoire: Curse of the Midions, due out later this year.

Memoriam: Al Lewis

Al Lewis as Mr. Gegenfurtner
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

Books News
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: