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The Earl of Cork's Enigma

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 college class.  Taught by John Bellairs. 


Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Flair For Baroque Description And Gothic Horror

Will Duquette penned some thoughts about reading The Face in the Frost years ago, and only reading - and learning about - Bellairs's later novels.  He shared his thought about the omnibus edition of The Best of John Bellairs and seemingly still prefers The Face in the Frost.

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

Chicago and the Places of His Dwelling

The second in an occasional series about where John Bellairs lived during his time in Chicago.

We've already touched upon Bellairs's first residence, the International House (or I-House) at the University of Chicago. He left at the end of the spring 1961 term and where he went after this is a bit hard to pinpoint.  There are a few gaps in the timeline and, for all we know, he may have returned to the I-House for a semester or two.

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

Ahoy, Long John Bellairs!

Captain Red Beard (aka Jonathan Barnavelt)
In honor of National Talk Like a Pirate Day we bring forth an exciting account of this roarin’ tale of the sea from one Long John Bellairs, that of Ye Cabin with a Timepiece in Thee Walls.

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.

Review: Mansion "Not The Author’s Best Effort, Although True Fans Will Be Forgiving"

Book review: The Mansion in the Mist

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Review: Curse "Intertwines Real Concerns With Sorcery In A Seamless Fashion"

Book review: The Curse of the Blue Figurine

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.

Review: Curse "A Chilling Mystery With Fascinating Characters...Riveting Suspense"

Book review: The Curse of the Blue Figurine

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

Vinalhaven, 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.

Review: Curse "Concocted...Realism And Fantasy Don't Mesh"

Book review: The Curse of the Blue Figurine

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!

A Look Back: the University of Notre Dame, 1955-56

I suspect you can call us enthusiasts with this: we’ve tracked down a copy of the 1955-56 Dome, the University of Notre Dame yearbook. We’ve thumbed through the thing and found a few items of interest, which we’ve highlighted below - plus with added commentary.

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

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.

Review: Curse "Handles The Snug Suspense Expertly"

Book review: The Curse of the Blue Figurine

Golden Time Conventions

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....