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An Interview With Simon Loxley

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


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.)

by guest contributor, Ron Sharp:
Just thought I would drop you a line now that my big night leading the book group discussion on The Face in the Frost is done.

But where do I start? Well, first I wore my best Sunday suit and tie. I combed my hair with a razor sharp part on the side and pasted it down with gel so it would not get out of place. Next, I put on a suitable amount of Drakkar Noir, squared my shoulders, checked my "look," and got in my truck. Sadly, the discussion wasn't until the following evening, but still, I felt confident I was prepared.

On the actual evening of the discussion, I found I was really nervous! Would they see through my attempts to appear scholarly? Would they laugh when I couldn't pronounce Krankenhammer or Pedant? I was so uncertain I spilled my Diet Coke right on my lap on the drive over. It looked like I peed my pants, but I assure you that did not happen and that it was actually Diet Coke. Only a real loser would pee his pants because he was so frightened of speaking in front of all those people. Staring at him. Judging.

Anyway, once I toweled off in the bathroom, I was ready to face the group. The group is lead by a very sweet lady named Joanne who is a retired English teacher and used to teach a Science Fiction and Fantasy class. She started the meeting by reading the minutes, which took forever. I was so ready to go but she just kept on and on. At one point, as I was crossing my legs to keep from fidgeting, I'm afraid I kicked over her albuterol inhaler. That did help to cut down on the amount of new business she talked about, but I still felt badly. Once we got that cleaned up, she started the discussion.

I felt so proud as she was introducing me and The Face in The Frost. I was thinking about my English teacher and how much I loved to read, and to imagine, and just to think. My high school days came flooding back to me then. I imagined myself as King Ron, ruler of the Senior High School. All the maidens were flocking around me and knights were waiting to do my bidding. I was about to enter the lunchroom, where every day was pizza day, when I heard Joanne's wet cough. I came out of my reverie to find the entire book group staring at me expectantly, except for Joanne who was trying to get her inhaler to work.

I immediately started talking; I think about the book. I held it up and fumbled through the pages several times, so I think I was talking about it. I actually got kind of light-headed and don’t remember too much, though, so I can't be certain. I do remember one point where I compared King Gorm III to Hitler, both of whom were misunderstood, and made the obvious connection between Five Dials and Nazi Germany. In my zeal, however, I forgot there were a few Jewish people in the group and I think they might have been offended when I said there weren't really cyanide showers in the Southern Kingdom.

Anyway, the night ended much too quickly. Literally. I thought I would be talking for far longer than I did. It turns out I was only there for about 15 minutes in total. Amy hasn’t said anything to me, but I think I made something of an impression on her book group. They must have a whole new perspective on the quite guy who Amy used to take to her meetings. Yup, King Ron is back on his throne.

Heh-heh. Most of that was made up. The discussion actually went well and I printed out for everyone all the tidbits you had culled together from your online discussion of the book. We had great fun going through all the references and I was amazed at how many of the references the people in the group knew before reading my little handout. They love Lovecraft in this group and I still worship Cthulhu, so there's a little something for everyone. These people are really literary geeks and I couldn't help thinking that you would fit in perfectly. There is one full-fledged librarian in the group and two in the larvae state.

Anyway, thanks for all your help on this. Everyone in my group enjoyed it and I was a BMOC once again, just like in High School. Sigh....