Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ellen Datlow's photos from the KGB reading

At this link are co-host Ellen Datlow's photos from the Dec. 16 reading at the KGB Bar in Greenwich Village. Christopher Rowe and I had a great turnout, a great audience and a great time. Thanks to everyone for the support.

Talking up Launch Pad

The NASA-funded Launch Pad astronomy workshop for writers and other creative folks was the topic of a recent episode of Stacey Cochran's Book Chatter podcast. It included a gaggle of call-in guests who attended the 2009 workshop, including Tara Fredette, Brian Malow, Phil Plait and Gord Sellar. Launch Pad founder Mike Brotherton called in, too. You can listen to the episode here.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Decoding Dan Brown's cover

Armchair codebreakers will enjoy Greg Taylor's analysis of the cover of Dan Brown's novel The Lost Symbol, even if they haven't read the book.

(Thanks to Stephen Wagner of Paranormal Phenomena for the tip.)

The Pomeranian that fell from the sky

A Pomeranian named Sadie survived a 2-mile flight over Davenport, Iowa, in the talons of a great horned owl, reports Bill Wundram in the Quad-City Times.

(In this otherwise well-written column, the reference in the first sentence to "incredulous tales" made me wince. The tales are incredible; the tales' audiences are incredulous.

(Thanks to Stephen Wagner of Paranormal Phenomena for the tip.)

Cats that stare at "nothing"

In his Dec. 16 column, Gary Bogue, who writes about pets and wildlife for the Bay Area's Contra Costa Times, seeks to calm pet owners whose cats seemingly stare at "nothing":
Once I caught my dear departed Abyssinian cat, Tut, staring at "nothing" in a corner. I examined the area carefully and found a spider crawling on the wall. Another time he stared at an empty spot on the wall as if something was there. There was. Looking closer, I saw a fly on the wall at that spot.

Predatory cats are stimulated by movement. Tut may not actually have seen the fly or the spider, but his eye/brain picked up a minuscule movement that caused him to stare at the spot waiting to see if more movement/data would allow him to focus on something.
Bogue's good sense is refreshing, compared to the credulity of some pet experts.

(Thanks to Stephen Wagner of Paranormal Phenomena for the tip.)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I'm reading tonight at the KGB Bar

Any of y'all in New York City tonight are welcome to join us at the KGB Bar, where the readers are Christopher Rowe and I. We'll have fun. Here's the link.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

"The Dragaman's Bride" is news

The Appalachian Independent has published this article about my new story "The Dragaman's Bride," which reporter Jenna Tenaglio calls "wonderfully crafted." Thanks, Jenna!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Let's all scare the tourists

The Haunted Arkansas site set up by the state Department of Parks & Tourism is a fine example of the Chamber of Commerce types nationwide embracing once-shunned local legends of ghosts and monsters -- because people like me will pay good money to see those places, even if no ghosts or monsters actually turn up.

One term for this growth industry, "ectotourism," has been around for years, judging from this 1997 article in San Francisco's Examiner, but I don't much like the word. It looks like a typo for "ecotourism." We can do better.

That not every Chamber of Commerce is thrilled with this stuff is evident in a snarky comment on the "Official Site of the Villisca Axe Murders" -- which happend in Villisca, Iowa, in 1912, as you connoisseurs of unsolved axe murders doubtless recall. Click on "The Town," and you find that the owners of the "Murder House," who are flogging it for all it's worth, have encountered some local resistance:
Ten years ago, visitors inquiring about the axe murders were met with cold stares and turned heads. Today, however, these same residents seem to be on the verge of accepting the one thing that they cannot change. If Villisca is to recover and continue to grow, they must accept and eventually embrace their history.

The Villisca Historical Society has been a [sic] somewhat of a "ghost" in Villisca for some time now. Although the Society officially existed, its accomplishments were few and any interest displayed by outsiders rebuffed. The recent announcement that the Society has finally received it's [sic] 501(c)3 designation is a spark of hope for those of us who are sincerely interested in seeing the history of the town documented and preserved rather than swept under a rug.
Maybe Villisca should launch an axe-murder festival, as in David Prill's novel Serial Killer Days. Hey, equally sketchy events have turned into family-friendly annual celebrations: Point Pleasant, W.Va., has a Mothman Festival, and Fyffe, Ala., has a cattle-mutilation festival (though it's actually called UFO Days, for obvious reasons). And need I mention the venerable example of Salem, Mass.?

Our correspondent in Shanghai

Sydney's cousin Megan Wilkes, formerly of Harrisonburg, Va., moved to Shanghai this fall and is reporting on her adventures in a fine blog, with many photos, titled Anything Goes In China ... Almost. One thing that doesn't go, Megan reports in her first post, is any mention of the "3 T's." I quickly guessed what those were, and I bet you can, too.

"Never underestimate the power of a good story"

Greg Frost alerted me to this fine commercial, via YouTube, for the French pay channel Canal+, a.k.a. "Canal Plus."

Friday, October 02, 2009

National Solar Tour 2009

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. tomorrow -- Saturday, Oct. 3 -- our house will be part of the American Solar Energy Society's 14th annual National Solar Tour, coordinated locally by Big D Electric in Cumberland, Md. Details, including the specs of our system, are here. Y'all come!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Cat Rambo's new book

This week the mailman brought a hardcover copy of Cat Rambo's new collection Eyes Like Sky and Coal and Moonlight (Paper Golem, $26 hardcover, $14 trade paper). On the front cover is a marvelous Carrie Ann Baade artwork; on the back cover are blurbs by other writers, including this one from me: "I am inspired, these days, by Cat Rambo, and after reading these stories, you will be, too."In between the covers is a fine collection, and I commend the book, the author and the publisher to your attention.

Is this the first time I've been quoted in a cover blurb? Maybe so. The other blurbers, in order, are Laird Barron, Rachel Swirsky, L. Timmel Duchamp, Vonda N. McIntyre and Sarah A. Hoyt, so you needn't take only my word for it the book's good.

A few family-reunion photos, Part 3

Above: I was determined to take a photo of the fire to prove we had one, thanks to the firewood Sydney and I bought at Grant's because we got tired of everyone asking why there was no fire.Above: Sam and Laurie Steele. Sam's on the junior-varsity football team, and Mom is proud.Above: Phillip Steele. How can a three-term commonwealth's attorney look so relaxed? Granted, he's had no opposition the past two elections, which helps.Above: Fran Bowling shows off her latest four-leaf clover. She has a talent for finding them, and her daughter, Sydney, inherited the gift. When I was a child, my parents told me there were no four-leaf clovers, so I'd feel better about never finding any.

A few family-reunion photos, Part 2

Above: Either Charlotte Sartin can't believe what Sheila Steele is telling her, or she's waiting for Sheila to toss corn chips into her mouth. Note in the background that the leaves only barely have started to turn.Above: Buford Steele and Sydney Duncan. We told "Uncle Bu" the stop sign looked good on him.Above: Buford Steele takes a seat. For many years Buford was a rural letter carrier and was active in the National Rural Letter Carriers' Association, just as my father was.Above: Fran Bowling, Sydney Duncan, Charlotte Sartin and Sheila Steele, in mutual astonishment.Above: Tim Steele and Bill Bowling. Since the reunion, Bill has had aneurysm surgery and is doing well, I'm pleased to report.Above: Sydney Duncan tries to show Bill Bowling something, I hope with more success than when she tries to show me something.

A few family-reunion photos, Part 1

These were taken at the Stafford family reunion in Rich Creek, Va., Sept. 20. Sydney's maternal grandfather was a Stafford.Above: Fran Bowling, Sydney Duncan and Charlotte Sartin set up the snack table. Fran's cheese slaw and Charlotte's miniature Crock-Pot hot dogs are as popular as ever.Above: Sydney Duncan forges my signature, which is printed because no one could read a forgery of my handwriting.Above: Fran Bowling makes the memory board every year, to remember family members who have died since the previous reunion, and sets it above the fireplace. Everyone wishes this year's board had fewer names.Above: Fran Bowling prepares the ice chest while Charlotte Sartin tries to track someone down.Above: Pat Sartin. Once a Marine, always a Marine.Above: Tim Steele is happy to be here.

A midair hornet's nest

I obviously don't have a zoom lens, but I wanted to record this hornet's nest built on a wire over Highway 311, Thompson Memorial Drive, between Roanoke and Salem, Va. The photo was taken Sept. 20.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

My latest letter to the editor

The Cumberland Times-News published it online, but not in print, July 15. Here's the link.

Why am I just now thinking of it? Because I just sent in another letter, of course.

(For the record, here's the letter that I was responding to.)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Publishing news: a collection, a novelette and a second edition

Thanks, everyone, for the supportive responses to my previous blog entry. In particular, Jeff Ford writes, "So when's the next collection coming out? That's a great line-up of stories," and Trent Hergenrader writes, "Sure would be nice to have a bunch of those stories bound up in another collection ... any plans for such a thing?"

Funny you should ask, Jeff and Trent! Nick Gevers has given me the go-ahead to announce that PS Publishing plans to release my second collection, titled The Pottawatomie Giant and Other Stories, in 2011. Tentative contents include "The Dragaman's Bride," "Unique Chicken Goes in Reverse," "A Diorama of the Infernal Regions; or, The Devil's Ninth Question," "Zora and the Zombie," "Daddy Mention and the Monday Skull," "Provenance," "The Big Rock Candy Mountain," "Senator Bilbo," "The Chief Designer" and the title story, plus a couple of new stories, plus extensive author notes on each story -- tucked away in the back, for easy avoidance by those who prefer not to pull aside the curtain.

In the meantine, PS also will be publishing my new novelette, The Night Cache, as a standalone volume this winter, the 2009 Christmas gift to Postscripts subscribers -- though non-subscribers can buy copies as well. The Night Cache is squarely in that fine Christmas tradition of the supernatural lesbian geocacher codebreaker romance, though the rumors that it's also a Poe pastiche are not (quite) true. Inspired by Poe, yes, but not a pastiche.

Finally, the second edition of my 2005 non-fiction book Alabama Curiosities, which made me world-famous in Alabama, is newly published by Globe Pequot Press. It includes lots of material not in the first edition.

Since "The Dragaman's Bride" is being published this fall in the Ace anthology The Dragon Book, edited by Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois, I'm looking sort of prolific in 2009. Thanks to all my friends and readers for the encouragement.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

My stories thus far

At the Launch Pad workshop this week, both N.K. Jemisin and J.V. Jones asked me where they could find my stories. As this question comes up periodically, I'm posting here a list of every Andy Duncan story thus far, including reprints, with notes of major award attention and links to a few stories online. Note, too, that my 11 earliest solo stories (everything in the list from "Lincoln in Frogmore" downward, except for the collaborative "Green Fire") are still available in my collection Beluthahatchie and Other Stories (Golden Gryphon, 2000). If any bibliographers out there can think of any stories or reprints I missed, please let me know. Thanks again to all the editors, publishers, teachers and readers who made these happen.

  • “The Dragaman’s Bride.” Upcoming in The Dragon Book, edited by Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois (Ace, November 2009).
  • “Unique Chicken Goes in Reverse.” Eclipse One, edited by Jonathan Strahan (Night Shade Books, 2007). Nebula and Shirley Jackson Award nominee. Reprinted in Nebula Awards Showcase 2009, edited by Ellen Datlow (Roc, 2009). It's online at the Night Shade site.
  • “A Diorama of the Infernal Regions; or, The Devil’s Ninth Question.” Wizards, edited by Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois (Berkley, 2007). Reprinted in Fantasy: The Best of the Year, 2008 Edition, edited by Rich Horton (Cosmos, 2008).
  • “Zora and the Zombie.” Sci Fiction, February 2004. Nebula and Stoker Award nominee. Reprinted in The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror: Eighteenth Annual Collection, edited by Ellen Datlow, Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant (St. Martin’s, 2005). Reprinted in Nebula Awards Showcase 2006, edited by Gardner Dozois (Roc, 2006). Reprinted in The Living Dead, edited by John Joseph Adams (Night Shade Books, 2008).
  • “The Haw River Trolley.” The Silver Gryphon, edited by Gary Turner and Marty Halpern (Golden Gryphon Press, 2003).
  • “Daddy Mention and the Monday Skull.” Mojo: Conjure Stories, edited by Nalo Hopkinson (Warner Aspect, 2003).
  • “Provenance.” Cemetery Dance #40, 2002.
  • “The Holy Bright Number.” Polyphony 1, edited by Deborah Layne and Jay Lake (Wheatland Press, 2002).
  • “The Big Rock Candy Mountain.” Conjunctions 39, 2002.
  • “Senator Bilbo.” Starlight 3, edited by Patrick Nielsen Hayden (Tor, 2001). Reprinted in Year’s Best Fantasy 2, edited by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer (Eos, 2002). Reprinted in Seekers of Dreams: Masterpieces of Fantasy, edited by Douglas Anderson (Cold Spring Press, 2005). Reprinted in The Mammoth Book of Extreme Fantasy, edited by Mike Ashley (Robinson/Running Press 2008).
  • “The Chief Designer.” Asimov’s, June 2001. Sturgeon Award winner. Hugo and Nebula Award nominee. Reprinted in The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Nineteenth Annual Collection, edited by Gardner Dozois (St. Martin’s, 2002). It's online at the Asimov’s site.
  • “The Pottawatomie Giant.” Sci Fiction, November 2000. World Fantasy Award winner. Nebula Award nominee. Reprinted in The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror: Fourteenth Annual Collection, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling (St. Martin’s, 2001).
  • “Lincoln in Frogmore.” Beluthahatchie and Other Stories (Golden Gryphon, 2000). World Fantasy Award nominee. Reprinted in Asimov’s, October/November 2001.
  • “Fenneman’s Mouth.” Beluthahatchie and Other Stories (Golden Gryphon, 2000).
  • “Grand Guignol.” Weird Tales, Winter 1999.
  • “From Alfano’s Reliquary.” Weird Tales, Fall 1999.
  • “The Executioners’ Guild.” Nebula and International Horror Guild Award nominee. Asimov’s, August 1999.
  • “Fortitude.” Realms of Fantasy, June 1999. Nebula Award nominee. Reprinted online at Infinity Plus, October 2000.
  • “Green Fire” (with Eileen Gunn, Pat Murphy and Michael Swanwick). Event Horizon, January 1999. Reprinted in Asimov’s, April 2000. Reprinted in Stable Strategies and Others by Eileen Gunn (Tachyon Publications, 2004).
  • “The Premature Burials.” Gothic.Net, September 1998. Reprinted in Realms of Fantasy, April 2001.
  • “Saved.” Dying for It, edited by Gardner Dozois (HarperPrism, 1997).
  • “The Map to the Homes of the Stars.” Dying for It, edited by Gardner Dozois (HarperPrism, 1997). Reprinted in The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror Volume Nine, edited by Stephen Jones (Robinson 1998). Reprinted in Crossroads: Tales of the Southern Literary Fantastic, edited by F. Brett Cox and Andy Duncan (Tor, 2004).
  • “Beluthahatchie.” Asimov’s, March 1997. Hugo Award nominee. Reprinted in Isaac Asimov’s Halloween, edited by Gardner Dozois and Sheila Williams (Ace, 2001).
  • “Liza and the Crazy Water Man.” Starlight 1, edited by Patrick Nielsen Hayden (Tor, 1996). Reprinted in New Magics, edited by Patrick Nielsen Hayden (Tor, 2004).
  • Monday, July 13, 2009

    Charles N. Brown, 1937-2009

    Our friend Charles N. Brown, editor and publisher of Locus, has died at age 72, Locus Online reports.

    Looking through my digital photos of the past few years, I could turn up only this photo of Charles, snapped as he was threatening to bash me with his walking stick if I didn't put the camera down. I guess that's one reason I don't have more photos of him.When Sydney was attending a conference at Stanford a few years ago, and I was tagging along, Charles kindly invited us to dinner at his house, a.k.a. the Locus office, and we had a most enjoyable time with Charles, the Locus staff and the other guests. Charles loved entertaining and was entertaining, and he made sure all his guests were entertained, or else!

    A mutual friend who knew Charles much better than I did, and for a lot longer, told me once that he always believed Charles had constructed a life in emulation of Jubal Harshaw in Robert A. Heinlein's novel Stranger in a Strange Land, and nothing I saw at Charles' house that night contradicted that impression.

    One of my favorite memories of Charles is from that evening, as he roared in laughter when his extraordinary collection of autographed first-edition books eventually reduced me to a sputtered stream of obscenities, just as he had intended.

    I also remember my Locus interview. I followed Charles to his hotel room -- where proofs of the next issue were strewn about every flat surface -- and watched him switch on a hand-held recorder.

    "Now what?" I asked.

    "Now you talk," he said. So I talked, while he leaned back in his chair, fingers intertwined across his belly, and watched me -- at least, I assume he was watching me; with Charles' cocked eyes, it was hard to tell, sometimes. Two or three times during the hour, he interjected an observation, such as: "So you don't believe in the Singularity, then." He took no notes. Eventually he nodded his head and turned off the recorder.

    "That's it?" I asked.

    "That's it," he replied.

    "Well," I said, "good luck getting a coherent article out of that."

    "Oh, you're easy," Charles said, "like Bruce Sterling. Talkers are easy. Let's go downstairs and get a drink."

    Charles accurately thought Sydney was gorgeous, and instead of "Hello, Andy," his standard greeting was usually "Is Sydney here?" If my answer was, "No," he'd make a dismissive sound with his mouth and turn his back on me. So instead of saying, "Hello, Charles," I took to greeting him with, "She's upstairs!" or "She's in the dealer's room!" Whereupon he'd smile broadly and be very friendly indeed.

    When he did talk to me, he usually needled me about not writing more. When he found out I had started a blog, he cried out in dismay. "That's not writing!" he said. "Now you'll get even less accomplished."

    I saw my first copies of Locus in the dormitory living room at Clarion West in 1994, and once I got home to Raleigh, N.C., I bought the subscription that I've kept up ever since. When the first issue arrived -- its cover story, I think, an obit of Robert Bloch -- I thought, "OK! I'm a member of this community now!" That's still what I think, every month when Locus arrives. I hope it keeps arriving for many years to come. Soon the cover story, I suppose, will be an obit of Charles N. Brown himself. I'll miss him.

    Sunday, June 28, 2009

    "None of us is home ..."

    "None of us is home until all of us are home."

    -- Sister Mary Scullion of Project HOME in Philadelphia, quoted in Parade

    A flood myth?

    Cumberland Times-News columnist Maude McDaniel recently passed along an anecdote that she acknowledges sounds a lot like an urban legend:
    My all-time favorite flood story, which is said to have actually happened although it sounds too good to be true, is about the man who had an old piano he had been trying to get rid of for months. No one wanted it -- it was just a piece of junk -- and when the Flood came along, he saw it as a wonderful opportunity for free trash removal. So he hauled it out onto the front porch and congratulated himself on his cleverness. After the water went down, he went back home, and, lo and behold, there was the piano, still on the front porch. And out on the back porch -- was another piano!
    Has anyone heard variations of this, or tracked down an actual documented account of such a thing?

    A Cheat Lake mystery

    Maryland novelist Gary Clites, a West Virginia University alumnus, tells an interesting story about the inspiration for his new thriller Seneca Wood:
    When I was in college, my friends and I spent a lot of time at Cheat Lake, just a few miles outside of town. There was an old disused road there that ran to an old abandoned bridge to an island where a bunch of bikers used to party. One day, the school scuba team went diving in the area and found a dead body. I don't remember what the situation was, whether it was a suicide, an accident, or what, but while the police were investigating, they found a stolen car in the water near the bridge -- then another car. Then they found a bunch of illegal slot machines and other things.
    Judging from the rest of the press release, Clites must have been a student in Morgantown, W.Va., circa 1978-82. Anyone else recall the WVU scuba team finding a body in Cheat Lake during that time? I'd be keen to know more about it, if so.

    So that's what June was

    Did you know that President Obama commemorated the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots by declaring June 2009 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month? That didn't make the news, here in GOP Maryland.

    Added later: Meanwhile, Manifested Glory Ministries in Bridgeport, Conn., celebrated Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month by posting to YouTube a video of church members attempting to exorcise a 16-year-old boy's "homosexual demon."

    Saturday, June 27, 2009

    "To Lift a Nation" -- and the bottom line

    "To Lift a Nation," the Sept. 11 monument at the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation in Emmittsburg, Md., was financed by an illegal Ponzi scheme, says the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Now it's for sale. The asking price of $425,000 will go to creditors of the failed Coadum Advisors Inc., which allegedly commissioned the monument in hopes of a big tax writeoff, The Associated Press reports.

    I wonder how many monuments and other landmarks that we take at face value today were commissioned for less than honorable reasons or beneath a cloud of financial wrongdoing. If you can think of examples, please let me know.

    Sculptor Stanley J. Watts -- who himself had nothing to do with Coadum's finagling -- has an interesting page about "To Lift a Nation," with photos that show just how big it is.

    The 40-foot bronze figures are based on George Johnson, Dan McWilliams and Billy Eisengrein, the three flag-raising firefighters in the famous photo by Thomas E. Franklin of The Record in Hackensack, N.J., snapped amid the ruins of the World Trade Center in the late afternoon of Sept. 11, 2001. (Since that day, incidentally, the famous flag has gone missing.) The photo has been reproduced ad infinitum, even on a U.S. postage stamp. Web pages devoted to the photo and its story include this one, at Victoria Mielke's interesting 9/11: Pop Culture & Remembrance site; the Wikipedia entry; and this one, where The Record will sell you a reproduction of the photo for $23.80, not to mention embroidered shirts, leather jackets, laser-engraved ceramic tiles, etc. (Proceeds go to charity.)

    Ricky Flores of The Journal News in Westchester, N.Y., took his own photo of the flag-raising, from a different angle. Though equally excellent, Flores' photo is much less well known, partially because it emphasizes neither the men nor the flag but the surreal, spooky landscape of devastation all around.

    My people, my people

    Here are two June 24 news stories from our corner of Appalachia. In Westernport, several of the passengers in the pickup when its brakes failed "were seated in the bed of the truck in lawn chairs." Meanwhile, the assault weapon in Frostburg, police say, was "a sock that contained rocks."

    Savage Mountain 2009

    This past week I had the honor of working with young fiction writers at the Savage Mountain Creative Writing Workshop, held each summer at Frostburg State University under the direction of my colleague Gerry LaFemina. The week culminated in a group reading this morning at Main Street Books downtown, where I made all the students hold still long enough for this photo.Left to right: Patrick Camloh, Renee Phillips, Mike Smith, Neil Ralph, Katrina Bost, Katy Dale, Ruth LaCourse and A.J. Carney.

    Sunday, April 12, 2009

    Nebula Awards Showcase 2009

    Saturday at Barnes & Noble in Roanoke, Va., I saw my first copies of Nebula Awards Showcase 2009, a Roc paperback edited by Ellen Datlow, which includes my Nebula-nominated Eclipse One story "Unique Chicken Goes in Reverse."

    Saturday, March 14, 2009

    Ed Rollins on his irrelevant party

    From this recent commentary by Republican strategist Ed Rollins, who was President Reagan's political director:
    The battle to be the "de facto leader" of this party is akin to the question of who wants to steer the Titanic after it hit the iceberg. Who represents the party or its values is not relevant when only 26 percent of voters have a positive impression of the party ...

    Republicans are not relevant. We just lost two back-to-back elections (2006 and 2008), and obviously, what we are selling, the voters aren't buying. In the midst of the most severe economic crisis in my lifetime, we have a president who is taking the country on a dramatic sea change. This is what he said he would do and he is doing it. And where are Republicans? ...

    For the foreseeable future, the Republican Party is in the position of being the minority party. Until it nominates a candidate who can attract new voters and expand the base vote of the party, it will stay there.

    The Lovecraftian school-board member of Arkham, Mass.

    For those who haven't seen it yet, here's the best Onion article in some time. Among my favorite passages:
    "Fools!" said West, his clenched fist striking the lectern before him. "We must prepare today's youth for a world whose terrors are etched upon ancient clay tablets recounting the fever-dreams of the other gods -- not fill their heads with such trivia as math and English. ...

    West has served on the school board since 1997, when he defeated 89-year-old incumbent Doris Pesce by promising to enforce dress codes and refer repeat disciplinary cases to the three-lobed burning eye. ...

    "Charles sure likes to bang on that madness drum," fellow school board member Danielle Kolker said. "I'm not totally sold on his plan to let gibbering, half-formed creatures dripping with ichor feed off the flesh and fear of our students. But he is always on time to help set up for our spaghetti suppers, and his bake sale goods are among the most popular." ...

    West's previous failed proposals include requiring the high school band to perform the tuneless flute songs of the blind idiot god Azathoth and offering art students instruction in the carving of morbid and obscene fetishes from otherworldly media.

    The Periodic Table of Typefaces

    I admire this without reservation.

    Sumer is icumen in

    She's not in one of my classes, but I had to brag: Frostburg State University track star Sumer Rohrs just won her third consecutive national championship in the 55-meter high hurdles, setting a national record in the process: 7.97 seconds. Here's the story, with a photo of the champ.

    Creating Indiana Jones: the paper trail

    At his blog, anonymous Script Magazine contributor Mystery Man on Film has posted a link to a long-buried treasure for Indiana Jones fans: "the 125-page transcript (in the form of a .pdf document) of the original 1978 story conference between [director] Steven Spielberg, [producer] George Lucas, and [writer] Lawrence Kasdan for a little film called Raiders of the Lost Ark."

    Anomalies in the news

  • What caused the two separate booms that rattled Californians in early March? Not weather, an earthquake, a meteor or an aircraft, apparently. Dittto the two booms heard in New York state.
  • Meanwhile, astrophysicists at Columbia and Brown are photographing the moon every 10 seconds, hoping to solve the 400-year-old mystery of those occasional bright spots on the lunar surface that are not meteor impacts. "About 1,500 of these have been reported," Arlin Crotts tells National Geographic. His theory: pockets of gas exploding, which would mean some vestiges of geologic activity.
  • Also meanwhile, police say that falling metal object that punched through a Dallas roof was ... a drill bit from a nearby wood chipper (huh?) ... but that's all they're willing to say publicly, other than "case closed."
  • If Watchmen were a Saturday morning cartoon

    Barry Johnson passes along this truly sick and twisted creation, which nevertheless is utterly Safe For Work.

    Friday, March 13, 2009

    What's not in Columbia anymore

    Buddy Moore alerted me to Columbia Closings, one depressing if addictive blog for us natives of the South Carolina Midlands.

    I married a senator

    Announced today: Sydney is one of 14 faculty members just elected to the Faculty Senate at Frostburg State University. Her term's up in 2011.

    She's the only newly elected senator from the English department. Of the others, two are from history, two are from visual arts, and one each is from accounting, biology, economics, educational professions, foreign languages and literature, mass communication, political science, sociology and the library.

    A quick quiz

    Judging from the faculty-search pages alone, which university would you guess has a College of Engineering?
  • Frostburg State University, or
  • North Carolina State University?
  • Sunday, February 15, 2009

    "The New Mother" by Lucy Clifford

    In this interview with The Toronto Star, Neil Gaiman says Coraline was partially inspired by "The New Mother" by Lucy Clifford (1882), which he calls "haunting like a nightmare is haunting." Indeed it is. Here's the text.

    The Dragon Book cover

    Co-editor Gardner Dozois gave us contributors the OK to share John Jude Palencar's cover art for The Dragon Book, to be published in hardcover in November by Penguin Putnam. Here 'tis.Also included, among others, are Kage Baker, Peter S. Beagle, Bruce Coville, Diana Wynne Jones, Tanith Lee, Mary Rosenblum, Harry Turtledove, Liz Williams, Sean Williams, Tad Williams, Jane Yolen -- and me, with my new novelette, "The Dragaman's Bride." I'm tickled.

    Tuesday, January 06, 2009

    Corona and lime

    This article by Martin Lindstrom in the Jan. 4 issue of Parade includes some trivia about Corona and lime:
    The Corona-and-lime ritual dates back only to 1981, when, reportedly on a bet with his buddy, a bartender popped a lime wedge into the neck of a Corona to see if he could start a trend.

    This simple act, which caught on like wildfire, is generally credited with helping Corona overtake Heineken as the best-selling imported beer in the U.S. market.
    Since the bartender and the buddy are unidentified, and Lindstrom uses the words "reportedly" and "generally credited," I wonder whether this bit of trivia is actually true. If you have any insights into this tasty question, please let me know.

    Yes, I already queried the invaluable, as a search there for "Corona" turned up nothing.

    Friday, January 02, 2009

    "Women are writing science-fiction!"

    This is the back cover of Sign of the Labrys by Margaret St. Clair, a 1963 paperback original novel from Bantam. (I bought it in October from David Hartwell in the huckster room at Capclave in Rockvill, Md.)

    Besides the gender issues, I'm interested that the hyphen in "science fiction" as a noun was still around as late as the Kennedy administration.