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An Interview With Simon Loxley

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Overhanging Second Stories

Five Dials
We found this kinda-sorta review of The Face in the Frost a number of years ago. We wondered about it then and – as we clean out some of the darker corners of our email inbox – we wonder about it again now. We thought maybe you’d like to wonder about it with us. Here goes:

Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown

H. P. Lovecraft
The Grim Blogger reported earlier this week that a clip for an upcoming H.P. Lovecraft documentary is making the rounds online.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

N-QB3: Chessmen on the Move!?

The Chessmen of Doom
There are efforts to move the famed Lewis Chessmen from their perch in the Europe AD 1000-1540 gallery at the British Museum back to their native Scotland, where they were found in the early 1800s off the Bay of Uig on the Isle of Lewis.

The fight for the pallid dwarves has been long-running but recent activities have brought the story back into the news

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Legend of the Poinsettia

A bit of a Christmas story written by Brad Strickland and performed by the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company, Dec. 22 and 23, 2007:
Now, it came to pass in the days when the Wise Men were journeying, yea, even unto Bethlehem, that they came bearing gifts. Balthasar bore unto the babe a gift of gold; and Caspar bore unto the babe a gift of frankincense; and Melchior bore unto the babe a gift of myrrh…and Irving bore unto the babe a gift of a poinsettia.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Diaphanous Sprites of the Upper Air

You don’t see references to Snodrog from The Pedant and the Shuffly often but here’s one: a ghost made of bed sheets in a M.R. James story reminds someone of the Flimsies “flying out into the night to do his [Snodrog’s] bidding and smother people in their sleep.” 

Friday, December 21, 2007

Something About Amazing Stories

Amazing Stories
Blogger Madripoor_rose posted the titles of fiction pieces from the July 1986 edition of Amazing Stories - in which Brad Strickland’s short piece, "The Winds Of Oberon," was printed - and asks:

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Chessmen of Death

Wonder Woman
We’re not comic book experts but this bit caught our eye. One of the stories in the Wonder Woman comic from September/October 1952 (#55) was entitled "The Chessmen of Doom". It appears to have been rewritten as The Chessmen of Death! for issue #208 (Oct. 1973). The only bit of story we've ever found is that the Chequerians play chess with entire planets as pieces.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Fraternizing with Alpha Delta Phi

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

No, John Bellairs was not a member of any social or professional fraternal organization, from what we can tell.  Yet, one may ask why he once lived in a University of Chicago fraternity house.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Something About American Wizards

Florence Zimmerman and Jonathan Barnavelt
We have a LiveJournal user looking for "American Wizards of the fantasy type", originating from literature or wherever else.  The blogger has started off the list with some familiar names and we're in good company:

Sunday, November 11, 2007

48 Years for an Autograph?

Algernon Blackwood
This is easily one of the strangest stories about John that we’ve heard: someone uses the checkout card from the back of a library book (presumably owned at one point by the University of Chicago) as a bookmark and finds John Bellairs checked the book out on November 10, 1959 – 48 years ago yesterday.
Adding to the mystique is that it was an Algernon Blackwood anthology, something we can easily see John enjoying (our favorite of his tales is Secret Worship - we do recommend it, just not after midnight...).

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Researching Bellairs the Boy Scout

BSA Troop 112
In a 1990 article with the Haverhill Eagle-Tribune, when asked about his childhood, John Bellairs noted he was somewhat of a loner until he made some "lifelong friends in the Boy Scouts."

We know John was a member of Marshall Boy Scout Troop 112 in 1951, and some of his Scouting experiences snuck into his books over the years. Take the story of Johnny Dixon, also a member of Troop 112: he goes off to Scout camp and also meets a lifelong friend in Byron Ferguson [The Mummy, the Will and the Crypt]. Camp Chocorua was probably influenced by his attendance at Camp T. Ben Johnston on Sherman Lake outside Augusta, Michigan, itself about 8 miles west of Battle Creek.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Something About the Man Who Collected Bellairs

In a somewhat strange role-reversal, trick-or-treaters dropped off candy at the Bellairsia HQ tonight.  Or maybe just threw it out in front of the building.  It was the brown-tipped candy corn no one seems to enjoy so I’m not sure.  It was most assuredly thrown away, well it should.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Bellairsian Trick-and/or-Treating

"House" costume
This...someone thinking of The House with a Clock in its Walls as a Halloween costume...this got us wondering....

Has anyone ever dressed up a Bellairsian character for Halloween?  Lewis Barnavelt doesn’t exactly strike me as exciting attire (sorry, Lewis) so maybe you went dressed as something else.  How about the Robot with Killer Eyes, the Oil Lamp Demon, charmin’ Jarmyn Thanatos, or maybe even a Shuffly?

Or maybe you actually did dress up as an actual Italianate manor house and stuck a metronome in your mid-section.  Thoughts?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Dumpster Diving For Bellairs

This is what a cassette is, kid.
I thought someone might find this of interest. Our library is starting to get rid of our audiobook on cassette collection. It seems our audiobooks on CD are rendering them obsolete. Our children's librarian was helping a 10-year-old child the other day find Harry Potter books on audio, and when she was informed all we had left on the shelves were cassette versions, the girl replied, "What's a cassette?"

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Grimoire: Tracked by Terror

Grimoire: Tracked by Terror
Brad Strickland’s latest novel, Grimoire: Tracked by Terror, is in bookstores now. Read the continuing adventures of the Free Folk and Jarvey Midion's quest to get out of that cursed book! Tracked by Terror follows Curse of the Midions, and will be followed by another tale to be released in 2008.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Time Capsule: 1997

Jarmyn Thanatos
It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years since we first heard the strange tale of Jarmyn Thanatos and his desire to live forever. Thanatos was the spellbinder as seen in The Bell, the Book, and the Spellbinder, Brad Strickland’s second “solo” book in the Johnny Dixon series, where Johnny’s friend Fergie finds the last book in the library and sets forth a strange chain of events revealing charmin’ Jarmyn's (as we've taken to calling him) sinister secret for getting younger as the decades pass.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Haverhill Home to Bellairs; Zombie

The Hammersmith Group released an anticipated and controversial master plan for the future of downtown Haverhill, Massachusetts, one of the oldest cities in the country.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Dies (or Deaths) are Cast by Dolls

Tinycrumb Ghastlies
Photographer Trix B has published 26 images to Flickr as part of her Tinycrumb Ghastlies series, a sordid retelling of the famous Gashlycrumb Tinies, where "C is for Candy ingested with razors".  Ouch.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Of Every Nation a Residence

International House at the University of Chicago
The Autumn 2007 edition of the Chicago International House newsletter has a brief feature about John Bellairs in their Travel in Time: Stories from the International House Archives series. There isn’t a lot of new information covered here (though the I-House is celebrating its 75th anniversary) but it’s nice to see their inclusion of John:

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Seeing Double: The Eyes of the Killer Robot

Eyes of the Killer Robot
We knew the ayes had it but this has us seeing double:
  • Best we can tell the name of the band is The Eyes of the Killer Robot (or so suggests the title at YouTube).
  • N.J. Kailhofer also has written a short piece entitled The Eyes of the Killer Robot.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Book Alert: The Sign of the Sinister Sorcerer

Books News
Brad Strickland has announced via his website the twelfth title in the Lewis Barnavelt series. The Sign of the Sinister Sorcerer is to be published by Dial Books for Young Readers in 2008.

2007 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 significant persons from Marshall's past at each of those individual's gravesites. This year’s famous Marshallnites include Nathan Benedict, William H. Brown, George Emery Church, Dulcenia Daily, Mary Edgerton, Augustus Hyde, and Thomas Sullivan. 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 6, 2007
Time: 7:00 pm

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

Monday, August 13, 2007

44th Annual Historic Home Tour

Marshall, Michigan
“The Marshall, Michigan Home Tour offers exquisite private homes and businesses for public viewing and enjoyment. The tour will feature eight vintage homes and will include six 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 seventeen structures will be one business 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.”

When: September 8-9, 2007
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.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Bibliofile: Luis Barnavelt I Potwór Dzikiego Strumienia

Luis Barnavelt I Potwór Dzikiego Strumienia
Longtime visitors to Bellairsia may recall how a number of years ago (c.2001-02) we found a handful of book cover images from the Lewis Barnavelt series when they were published in Poland:

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Researching Laughlin Hall

University of Chicago
The fourth in an occasional series about where John Bellairs lived during his time in Chicago.

A couple of years ago, one of John Bellairs's friends, the late Bernie Markwell, sent us some notes about meeting John for the first time four decades ago in Chicago. His notes were somewhat sparse and he indicated he would send more. He never did, he never will, and so we're stuck with what we have. 

Markwell said he first met John in the fall of 1960 when he "moved to Laughlin Hall (now destroyed) to get more work done."  He also said a few years later Bellairs would eventually live in the building as well. It is unknown if he lived here before or after his tenure in Minnesota - that is, before fall 1964 or after spring 1965.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Oh Come Hither, Harry!

Potter thing
A few lines composed inside Bellairsia HQ:
A tip of the hat to the author
for creating that mythical force,
a spellbinding sense of wonder,
derived from staying your course.
Yes, the mystery’s finally over,
the secret’s been spilt from your pen.
Much praise for getting those children
Back to the library again.
And we laud the legions of readers,
who we hope don’t end up and weep,
but you’ve got the whole stinkin’ weekend -
so go home and go get some sleep!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Wit! Whither Wander You?

Now you can set out on your own and see the world of John Bellairs without even leaving your house. Wanderlust is the beginning of a new map-plotting project that will identify the locations and inspirations found in the books by John Bellairs and those continued by Brad Strickland. Become an armchair cartographer as you visit distant points in England and Germany, as well as those sights from Bellairs’s backyard in Marshall and Massachusetts.

Monday, July 2, 2007

17th Annual Welcome to My Garden Tour

Marshall, Michigan
The Marshall Area Garden Club prepares for their 17th annual Welcome To My Garden Tour later this month, showcasing some of the Marshall area’s private and public landscaped gardens. For more information visit the Marshall Chamber of Commerce.

When: July 14-15; 10:00 to 4:00 (rain or shine)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A Riveting Collection of Bridges

Historic Bridge Park
The Calhoun County Road Commission and the Parks Trustees Board will be holding its annual "Living History Demonstration" at the Historic Bridge Park on the Kalamazoo River in Emmett Township this coming Saturday. The event will include demonstrations of industrial building techniques such as forge welding and black-smithing.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Peculiarities in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

Upper Peninsula
Happy Summer Solstice, northern hemisphere! If you’re on the road for a vacation this summer and are heading to the Upper Peninsula of Bellairs's home state and want to wowed by some wackiness, be sure to stop by the Weird Michigan Wax Museum. Opening this June, it is owned by Dan McCarthy, who also operates the nearby St. Ignace Mystery Spot, according to roadsideamerica.com.

Monday, June 11, 2007

A Journey to John

John Bellairs
We’ve heard some great stories of young people (and some probably a bit older) writing John Bellairs, who would usually write back and include one of his drawings. Or calling John on the telephone, and talking with him after a speaking engagement at a library or convention.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

It was a Pleasure to Burn

Prospero's Books
I guess we missed the news about this "celebration." Kansas City bookstore owner Tom Wayne couldn't find anyone to buy the excess books from his store so he set out to get rid of them the only way he knew how - burning them.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

First Edition Potter Worth $14K

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
I have a feeling all of my First Edition Bellairs collection wouldn't be worth this much. Scratch that – it wouldn't be worth that much money, but you can't buy these memories.  Does that sound sappy enough for this early in the morning?

A first edition of the debut Harry Potter novel by J.K. Rowling is expected to sell for up to 7,000 pounds (10,300 euros, 13,950 dollars) at an auction in London on June 26. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, the first in the series about the young wizard, will be sold by the auction house Bonhams. Between 500 and 1,000 copies of the first edition of that novel were published in 1997, signaling the beginning of one of the biggest successes in publishing history.

Monday, June 4, 2007

On Being a Plain Jane

Rose Rita Pottinger
Cecil Castellucci acts more like a 15-year-old boy than a 37-year-old woman. And she makes no apologies.  And this article about her first graphic novel (June 5, 2007) reminds me more of Rose Rita Pottinger.

Spreading Michiganess

From time to time we like to share some of what we get in our inbox (you know, printable stuff - not news of our winning the Kiribati lottery or stuff like that). A note over the weekend was from an Instructional Technologist at Kalamazoo RESA. Haven’t you always wondered what Instructional Technologists do?

Friday, June 1, 2007

Bellairs the English Instructor

Before there was “John Bellairs the author” there was “Bellairs the English instructor,” a quick-witted, intelligent young man, fresh from college and starting out in his chosen profession (maybe like a young Roderick Childermass). After John returned from England in 1968 he chose to reside in the New England area and would teach English for a few years at Emmanuel (1968-69) and Merrimack (1969-71) colleges. With such tenures on both campuses it has been difficult establishing contact with any student or faculty member who remembers John. If you were associated with either institution during the time periods mentioned as a teaching colleague or student (and the name "Bellairs" rings the right bells with you) we'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Potter Deemed Readable in Georgia

Image of a thing
A judge in Georgia will allow the adventures of Harry Potter to be read in Gwinnett County school libraries despite objections from parents who feel the books and character promote witchcraft.  Read on, if you dare.

Monday, May 28, 2007

A Look Back: the University of Notre Dame, 1956-57

Call us enthusiasts yet again for tracking down a copy of the 1956-57 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.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Hauntings at Massachusetts' Hoosac Tunnel

Hoosac Tunnel
This article, entitled "Ghosts of the Bloody Pit", from PrairieGhosts.com talks about hauntings at Massachusetts' Hoosac Tunnel. We were interested since the name of the tunnel (and the mountain range) figures into some of John's books that take place in Minnesota.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Picturing Marshall as It Was

A new book showcasing 196 photographs of Marshall, Michigan, taken before the 1950s will be released May 19 during Michigan Week celebrations. Jane Ammeson and Susan Collins compiled the book, titled Marshall, part of the Images of America series, with the help of the Marshall Historical Society as well as family photos and postcards from Marshall citizens.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Uncovered: Grimoire - Tracked by Terror

Brad Strickland's second book in the Grimoire series - Tracked by Terror - is scheduled for release in October 2007, the cover art was recently revealed.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Memoriam: Kurt Vonnegut

so it goes
Author Kurt Vonnegut has died. He was 84. Some of his best-known works include Cat's Cradle (1963), the #1 best-seller Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), and Breakfast of Champions (1973).  We're not really sure what else to say.
"No good at life, but very funny sometimes with the commentary."
- KV

Sunday, April 1, 2007

The Spaghetti Incident

Come on, people
Down on the farm 50 years ago today the BBC reported about the Swiss Spaghetti Harvest, where “thanks to a very mild winter and the virtual elimination of the dreaded spaghetti weevil, Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop.”

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Destined Livery

Aural Stynne
fan of Bellairs found one of the anthologies in a Barnes and Noble and, tempted at the prospect of reading more Johnny Dixon, picked up a copy. Good move! Why?  "I found R. L. Stine incredibly boring and non-subtle after them... I don't know why he was so popular."