Artsy Stuff Going On

I can’t say it’s my radio debut, because to the best of my memory, I’ve been on the radio four times in life. The first was when I was in elementary school. I got to be a reader once on Professor Jackie Jackson’s radio show Reading, Writing, and Radio, broadcast out of Sangamon State University in Springfield, Illinois. It was an educational program used in a great many classrooms. Kids on the air would read writing sent in by other elementary-school students, inspired by writing prompts given on the radio show. Years later, as a teenager, I would take an evening class conducted by Professor Jackson — an experience both tremendously enjoyable and formative to me as a writer. But that’s a subject for another post. What I’m remembering now is that first experience of wearing a headset and reading into a huge mike covered in black foam, cued by a technician behind the soundproof glass. I read a little composition by some other gradeschooler whose cat had died, and s/he wrote about being sad.

The second time I can remember being on the air was in a 30-minute interview in Taylorville, conducted in 1999 in the summer Dragonfly came out. Our little town, obviously hard-pressed to find news, played the interview over and over throughout a weekend, until I’m quite sure everyone within listening range got sick of hearing my voice. Lots of former radio enthusiasts took up croquet that weekend, and TV sales spiked.

The third time I was on the radio was when I was supposed to be interviewed about Dragonfly. (This was NOT the Taylorville station. The station and interviewer shall remain anonymous to protect the . . . whatever.) I might have known things wouldn’t go well when, as I was waiting to go into the sound booth, the interviewer’s mother talked to me at great length about how her son, the interviewer, had written a book that wasn’t published yet. She was telling me all about the intricacies of this book. Also, MY mom had come along for the ride.

Well, after about two questions to me, during which I got the strong sense that he was irked that my book had gotten published, the interviewer became all excited about the fact that my mom was the founder of the annual Persimmon Party in Taylorville, and the talk turned to persimmons, persimmon recipes, persimmon folklore, and the particulars of the Persimmon Party. Mom had a great day and came away from the interview all glowing and elated. For that reason, I don’t regret it — not one bit. But it sure wasn’t much of a Dragonfly interview.

The week before last, I laid down my fourth radio track, here at FM Port 79.0, a radio station in a sleek, ultra-modern building with a ground-floor vestibule right out of a science-fiction film, and a glass elevator that offers a view down onto Bandai Bridge, that grand landmark of Niigata.

The occasion was that I was recording my part of a commercial for my friend K.’s onigiri kitchen. Onigiri, also known as omusubi, is usually translated as “rice ball.” It’s the traditional Japanese equivalent of the sandwich. It’s what people take along on picnics and in lunchboxes to eat in remote locations or on the job. It doesn’t have to be heated . . . it can be kept and carried around for a while without suffering too much depreciation. My friend makes and sells these things at her shop. Here’s a picture:

The Onigiri-dou, under the shinkansen.

It’s in a little leased structure on ground owned by Japan’s railroad company, JR. You can see that the building rests directly beneath the tracks of the bullet train (shinkansen), which periodically roars by overhead. It’s the very train I take whenever I head down to Tokyo or return from there up to Niigata.

Anyway, this little shop sells onigiri and a soup of the day, and a nearby second building sells vegetables and fruits. I’ve served as “outdoor technician” this past year, rigging up a net to protect plants at night, building some wooden benches from scratch, and (most recently) stringing Christmas lights along the eaves.

You may know that Japanese advertising often makes use of English. I’m not sure why, other than it attracts attention. So in our ad campaign, the lines I recorded for the radio commercial were:

“Let’s have a ball!

Let’s have a ball!

Let’s have a rice ball!”

And, at the commercial’s end, after a female announcer’s voice has identified the place and the hours:

“Have you tried it yet?”

To prepare for the recording session, I came up with about ten different character voices. We narrowed those down to three for the recording session. I recorded the lines in the following styles:

1. English accent, exuberant.

2. English accent, half-whispering, as if telling a fairy tale.

3. Robot voice.

(Personally, I thought my best innovation was having The Terminator, in Schwarzenegger’s voice, say, “I’ll be back . . . for another rice ball.” But that idea got nixed.)

The other artsy thing going on is this:

See my face among all that? A colleague of mine at the university is constantly engineering artistic things: concerts, vocal solos, musical compositions, unconventional photo books, etc. Somehow, she established a connection with a young guy who majored in dance who has decided to visually express one of my poems through the medium of dance. This calls for an exclamation mark: [!] If you can’t imagine what that will look like, neither can I! The dancer is working from an audio recording I made. Since he lives in another prefecture, we’ll meet for the first time on the day of the concert/recital. Talk about “chance art”! I’m supposed to read my poem from a podium while he interprets it kinetically through dance. This is to take place on February 19th. If you’re in Niigata at 6:00 p.m. on that Saturday, stop on by the Ongaku Bunka Kaikan! Literally anything could happen! Personally, I predict a Fortean rain of tiny frogs from a clear sky.

Finally, here’s a snowman that my friend and I built to promote the onigiri market:

Snowman with Snow Riceball

Snowman, January 2011

And then here I am in this wintry season:

Winter in Niigata

I look kind of Russian, don’t I? This was taken on the street in front of my apartment.

Okay, finally, writing news:

1. Black Gate #15 is scheduled to ship in February. My story “World’s End” is in it!

2. The anthology Discovery is supposed to be out any day now from Rogue Blades Entertainment. My stories “A Fire in Shandria” and “Someplace Cool and Dark” are both in it. I’m really looking forward to reading the other tales in this book, which were all written using the theme “Discovery” and an assigned painting of a female warrior and a black panther standing among some ruins in a jungle.

3. My article “Riddles: An Ancient Game” is slated for the April 2011 issue of Cricket Magazine.

4. My article “The Great God Pan: Myth, Horror, and the Divine” is in FATE Magazine — either it’s just out or is about to be — my subscription copies are always way late and haphazard, and I never know quite how to contact FATE, so I’m sorry I can’t tell you more specifically. As an illustration of the article, FATE is also using my painting of the Faun dancing in the forest at night, a detail of Self Portrait, which you’ve seen on this blog (“Pictures at an Exhibition”).

5. I’ve also got a poem, “The Last Morning of the Mammoth,” being printed in The Best of Every Day Poets I, a poetry anthology that has just been released in the past day or two, and is available through Amazon.

Okay! That’s about enough artsy stuff for one posting, isn’t it?! 🙂 Have fun, enjoy stories, and enjoy the people around you. Take good care of them all!


128 Responses to “Artsy Stuff Going On”

  1. Jason M Waltz Says:

    Much congratulations on all of the above Fred, from first radio broadcast to latest story, poem, and article published! (And yes, Discovery should be out any day now. Right?)

    • fsdthreshold Says:

      Thanks, Jason! I’m honored that you’re here! What is the news on Discovery? 🙂 I’m watching your site!

      • Jason M Waltz Says:

        Well friend Fred, I must apologize that it has not been released yet. I am hoping/planning for a mid- to late-February release.

      • fsdthreshold Says:

        Well, that’s good — mid-to-late February will be here before we know it! Thanks for the update! I really look forward to reading what other writers did with the theme and illustration!

  2. Daylily Says:

    Fred: Congratulations on the publications and your other artistic endeavors! Terrific that FATE is using your painting, too!

    What size are these rice balls, and what is in them besides rice? Which poem is the dancer going to interpret?

    • fsdthreshold Says:

      Thanks, Daylily! A rice ball is about the size of your fist. It’s triangular in shape. The rice is contained by a sheet of pressed seaweed. They come with all sorts of ingredients! It might be as simple as a pickled plum or some salmon. There are pickled radishes, salmon roe, cream cheese . . . even avocado! My friend experimented with a “BLT” (in the American sense).

      The dancer is interpreting “Blue Were Her Eyes,” one of Cymbril’s songs from The Star Shard. Of the five options I gave him, we figured that one had the most drama and vocal variation.

      • Daylily Says:

        So is a rice ball a tetrahedron? That’s what it looks like, judging from the snow model. That would take some skill, folding the wrapper to obtain that form. Okay, I’ll order several: one salmon, one cream cheese, one avocado, one BLT, and one PBJ, though I’m not sure how that will taste with the seaweed wrapper!

      • fsdthreshold Says:

        No, not a tetrahedron (though it does look like that on the snowman, doesn’t it?). The usual kind is like a triangle with some depth. When you buy them in stores, some manufacturers have come up with really cunningly-designed wrapping: the onigiri is assembled, but there’s a layer of plastic wrapper between the seaweed and the rice inside, so that the seaweed stays crisp and dry. If you follow the instructions and unwrap it right, you whisk out that layer with the outer plastic covering, and you have an essentially fresh rice ball!

        Some of them really are ball-shaped — especially the big ones my friend makes that include three different fillings (in addition to the rice) in a single rice ball.

        When I was the volunteer in Shirone, the pastor’s wife was famous for making gigantic onigiri. Her kids would take these enormous rice balls to school and on outings, and everyone would exclaim over them.

        I’ll bet if you were to Google “onigiri” and/or “Japanese rice balls,” you’d almost certainly find photos of them on-line somewhere!

      • Daylily Says:

        So I found some pictures, with rice balls in various shapes. I was picturing the seaweed wrapper encasing the entire ball, but apparently, that’s not the only way they come. Some had no seaweed wrapper; some had a rectangle of wrapper folded over part of the rice ball.

  3. Daylily Says:

    Whoops, forgot to subscribe to the comments!

  4. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

    My friend, you may appear Russian in your eye, but I see your father, as I knew him when I was little (sans eyeglasses, of course).

    FANTASTIC on all fronts! I am ecstatic on your behalf and rejoice in the blessings being poured upon you!

    Please pass on to K (This has to be the K i know … did she receive my Christmas card?) my best regards! I hope she is so busy she doesn’t know what hit her. May her rice never stick (unless, duh, she is purposely making ‘sticky rice’). As for overcooked rice, I think I may be the reigning king of Central Iowa on that front ha ha!

    Daylily: told ya the snow was coming! At least you did not get the cold we had here! My brother and his family in Providence have been socked with the same weather you have had in Conn. Fred dunno what he is missing!

    • fsdthreshold Says:

      I agree — I do look a lot like my dad in this picture. By “Russian,” I mostly meant it looks like I’m freezing. Which I am.

      Yes! K received your Christmas card and really enjoyed it! Your photo of the stained-glass window of St. Cecilia is now displayed on the corkboard in K’s kitchen! (Your card to me arrived a few days after the one to them–thank you! AND for the birthday card!)

  5. Chris Says:

    Congrats! Sounds like your art-life is very active!

    I only got one time on the radio. When I was doing my postdoc at the USDA I got interviewed on public radio (PRI) for their weekly science show where they asked me about my research into activated carbons from nutshells. Later I got a tape of the interview but could NEVER bring myself to listen to it. I HATE the sound of my own voice. I really just squirm when I hear it, so I never listened to the tape to hear how goofy I must have sounded, that was about 12 or 13 years ago now and the tape is somewhere in a box buried deeply in the garage.

    Hey, if you want to have fun with recording your voice with “effects”, grab a VOCODER. I just got a microKorg last year. A synthesizer with a built-in vocoder. You can basically speak into it and play the keyboard to form and shape the sound into something kinda like music (it was quite popular in the 70’s for some robot-sounding voice effects in some songs, especially R&B and a few prog rock bands, like ELO on “Mr. Sunshine”). Today everyone uses “AutoTune” software which I have yet to get my hands on.

    Again, congrats on all the publishing. I’m going to have to dig up the Fate mag article on Pan.

    • Chris Says:

      For the music purists: I made a mistake in referring to ELO as “prog rock” I should have put an “and” in there between prog rock and ELO. I know I know I know.

      Sorry! (“Mr. Sunshine” is decidedly NOT a prog rock work by any means).


  6. jhagman Says:

    Chris, are thinking of the ELO song “Mr. Blue Sky”? It is from the album “Out of the Blue”- it is in the last part of “Concerto for a Rainy Day”.

    • Chris Says:

      Yup that’d be it. I was wrong. My sincerest apologies.

      It is not one of my favorite ELO songs so I tend to forget the actual title. Althought it was used quite effectively in “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (the movie).

      And yes it is a song from the “Concerto for a Rainy Day” on “Out of the Blue”. I had the old double vinyl for the longest time. Then traded up to CD.

      Only problem is, with CD’s and MP3’s I can blow right past the songs I don’t like and go for “Night in the City”, “Sweet is the Night”, “Turn to Stone”, “The Whale” and “Believe Me Now”.

      “Mr. Blue Sky” almost never gets played on my copy of the album!

      “Out of the Blue” has some of the best ELO but then a lot of other good stuff from that time period is also some of my favorite.

      Lately I’ve been listening to stuff from “Eldorado”.

      Now I’m going to have to go replay “Mr. Blue Sky” and pay my penance for bollixing the name up so badly (and repeatedly!)

      Mea culpa!

  7. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

    I hereby declare myself this blog’s semi-authority on the Electric Light Orchestra. “Out of the Blue” “OLE-ELO” and “Eldorado” are all a few feet away from me here at work and are often (at least once a week for Out of the Blue) played, at high volume, when I am alone in the office writing copy late at night.

    This is a topic about which I could wax silly, so I will stop now.

    Chris: You and I share much in musical tastes! Steely Dan, ELO, Split Enz. I wonder what else in our respective musical libraries is the same?

    • Chris Says:

      OK, Sorry for the distraction Fred, but I have to do this for Mr. Brown S.

      Top fave artists currently in my CD collection across the room there:

      Matthew Sweet (all studio albums “Girlfriend” and after), especially “Altered Beast”, since it has some of his hardest edged stuff. I love the guitar work of Richard Lloyd and Robert Quine with MS.

      Todd Rundgren: EVERY STUDIO ALBUM. Seen him in concert more than any other artist I like. Spent about 15 years on a hardcore (I mean, drive-friends-to-anger level hardcore) Rundgren kick. His best stuff early-to-mid-70’s. There were several years (maybe almost 10) where I had almost nothing else on the tape deck of my car(s) but Todd stuff.

      Pink Floyd (all studio albums after the Syd Barret years, never a big fan of the strange Syd Barret stuff). Love “Animals” and “Wish you were Here”. Still find “Echoes” to be the creepiest piece of instrumental music I have in my collection but I really like it.

      ELO (all studio albums except “Balance of Power”, which always just felt like a contractual obligation mess). Obviously I don’t listen to all the songs anymore if I can forget the proper title to “Mr. Blue Sky”. I even have some of the songs from Xanadu.

      The Dream Academy: the 3 greatest albums from the 1980’s-early 1990’s.

      The Sundays: One of the best bands (apart from Dream Academy) to only release 3 or so albumus…I hold out hope they’ll release another some day.

      Wilco: I’ve only recently become somewhat addicted to Wilco. My wife is from Belleville which is where Uncle Tupelo comes from and Uncle Tupelo broke up to form Son Volt and Wilco. Jeff Tweedy has worked with some pretty astonishing musicians and while I find some of the “poetry” aspects of his work a bit over the top, the music is solid. Now he’s got Nils Cline doing guitar duty and it is astonishing stuff.

      Obviously several Steely Dan albums. Not all though.

      A couple Kate Bush albums (I like Kate, especially “Hounds of Love”) but the best part is the wife hates her. Calls her “screachy lady”).

      That’s the highlights. My iTunes account has recently gotten me hooked back up with individual songs that I don’t have the entire albums for.

  8. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

    Sorry all: Chris — I am with you on the ELO, Steely Dan and Pink Floyd. I, too, love The Sundays, and I occasionally use a great pic of the gorgeous Harriett Wheeler as a screensaver. Reading, Writing and Arithmetic is a GREAT album and “here is where the story ends’ is easily in my top 10 all-time favorite songs.

    I, too, like Rundgren, but not at your level.

    I am a devotee of U2 and was the only person at THS to own ‘Boy’ and ‘October’ and then, when ‘War’ made a splash, suddenly everyone was coming up to me and saying “you were right about that Irish band.”

    The Police and The Smiths would have to figure in, too, and I like 70s Elton John (and, of course, all things The Beatles)

    Where we part is in my deep devotion to heavy metal. Black Sabbath (Ozzy, not Dio!), Ozzy on his own, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, the ‘real’ Van Halen … I love it.

    Sorry all, but had to answer Chris.

    • Chris Says:

      Ahhh, the Smiths. I love a lot of their stuff. But I own only a “greatest hits” album since it had the songs I wanted. Johnny Marr’s guitar work is beyond great!

      As I was driving in this morning I was listening to some old Van Halen on the radio trying to figure out why I didn’t much care for it “at the time”. I mean Eddie Van Halen’s guitar technique is amazing. Maybe I couldn’t stand the “swagger” of David Lee Roth or the over the top/no real intellectual content of the lyrics, but I kinda like some of it now. Maybe precisely because I “get” the point that not all music has to be “great” to be enjoyable.

      Never really got into any heavy metal (apart from maybe Blue Oyster Cult if that counts). Didn’t like Sabbath, only one song by Ozzy, never liked Iron Maiden. AC/DC is another of those bands that I had to grow up and realize that sometimes it’s fun just to listen to music that has no intellectual content but is just “fun”. But even then only a couple songs from “Back in Black” are probably going to make it onto my iPod if AC/DC ever lets down their resistance to releasing through iTunes.

      Strangely now that the wife and I are taking “boxing classes” at a local gym (workout, not sparring, I rather hate boxing as a sport, but it’s a good workout on the bag), we are forced to listen to mostly really horrid dance/rap stuff but occasionally they play some heavy metal from the 70’s which we can immediately recognize and it actually is “enjoyable” to work out to.

      But the best is when the play the occasional Fu Fighters song or maybe even Gorrilaz (like they did night before last…ahhhh)

  9. fsdthreshold Says:

    Blue Oyster Cult! Okay, I have to say it:

    “Trust me. You’re gonna want more cowbell.”

    This fall I was trying to improve my Christopher Walken impersonation (that’s a HARD impersonation to do!), and one day in class I was reading a Listening Text out loud, and I realized I was reading it like Christopher Walken would. I’m sure the students wondered what was going on when I paused, my mouth twisting into funny shapes as I struggled not to laugh.

    Chris, you expressed an interest in the Pan article — have you read Arthur Machen’s novella The Great God Pan? Have we talked about it on this blog? It’s a really creepy piece.

  10. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

    I forgot one of my faves! Mr. Robert Seger. And, of course, Pink Martini 🙂

  11. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

    I have a dossier here, on Chris, which refutes his self-proclaimed muscial interests.

    According to information (some of which was provided by co-workers from Woods Hole and from a certain Mr. Smjerkan of Trondheim) in my possession, Chris is, in reality, a devotee of Jackson Browne, not Todd Rundgren. He is also known to enjoy the dulcet tones of the Violent Femmes, Psychedelic Furs, Echo and the Bunnymen and The Cure.

    Not to worry, Fred … I will not tell anyone about your love for P.D.Q. Bach.

    • Chris Says:

      The Cure is another band that I really like some of their stuff but not enough to buy any one particular album. “In Between Days” is still my all-time favorite by them.

      When the Violent Femmes hit I remember being nothing but confused then I saw them playing on TV using only acoustic instruments and it was amazing to realize how good they were. I grew to like them over time, mainly for the rawness of the sound. Part of what I like the White Stripes for.

      Psych Furs? “Pretty in Pink” and “Love my Way” are two superb songs! Echo and the Bunnymen? The only song of theirs I have on my iPod right now is “The Killing Moon”.

      Jackson Browne? Sorry, you are misinformed. I like a couple of his songs but generally don’t pay much attention to his stuff.

      Now PDQ Bach! Back in high school a bunch of us drove up to Champaign/Urbana to see Shickele play at UofI. It was WONDERFUL!

      And as for your “source” in Trondheim, it was on a trip to Norway that we learned how scurilous the Viking horde could be about spreading rumors. (Actually it was in a museum in Bergen…there’s an old piece of wood from an outhouse from about the time of the Vikings with runic carvings in it that read, in Norwegian: “Ingeborg Elsket Meg Van Jeg Var I Stavanger”.

      Which is really pretty funny because if I am understanding it correctly it was some guy writing on the wall of the bathroom “Ingeborg loved me when I was in Stavanger”, probably the Viking equivalent of “For a good time in Stavanger, call….”)

      So you can take that for what it’s worth about how they spread rumors and libelous statements!

  12. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

    Those coniving Norse! I knew it! And the loveli lakes. And the many moose. A moose once bit my sister. No, really.

    • Harald V, King of Norway Says:

      FROM THE DESK OF HRH Harald V, King of Norway,
      Mr. Brownsnowflake,

      Really? Your siste was bitten by a moose? Was it one of ours in Norway or one of those radioactive beasts in Finland? Maybe I’m thinking of the elk over there. Anyways…

      Now THAT sounds like the making of a great horror story! I don’t think anyone has tapped the vast potential of the “were-moose” story!

      Hiking alone in the Trondelag someone is bitten by a moose. Now every [insert cyclical natural event here] she becomes a were-moose, rampaging the countryside eating low shrubs and berries until the dawn when she awakens only to find herself in some unknown field far from home covered in chlorophyll.


      Fred, get to work on that: your first commanded writing job from a memeber of a royal family. Please get on that, chop-chop.

      His Majesty, Harald V, Konge Av Norge
      “Nei takk, jeg vil ikke gjerne ha fiskepudding.”

  13. Nick Oz Says:

    Congrats on the many projects, Fred! I’m especially happy to hear FATE took your article and painting–I’ll have to hunt that issue down. Oh, and I also enjoyed your Middle-Earth inspired paintings on the recent post.

  14. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

    and the wunderful telefone system

  15. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

    The people responsible for sacking the people responsible for sacking the people responsible for the credits wish to announce that they have themselves been sacked.

  16. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

    blah blah blah, yackety-yack, blah blah … PROD

  17. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

    Over 51,000 hits and nobody has had anything to say in over a week? C’mon people.


    (Countries I would like to visit but have not and why …)

    A is for Australia. I would love to see Sydney harbor, the bridge, the opera house. And, of course, there are Aussie babes everywhere. Oi Oi Oi!

    • Daylily Says:

      A is also for the Antilles islands. Any of them. I’m not particular at this point. Any place with sand and warm sun and a lack of snow. We have over two feet of snow on the ground. I think I will quit grousing and buy a pair of snowshoes, so I can once again walk in the woods!

  18. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

    Continuing with Daylily’s thread: B is for the Bahamas. No need to ‘splain …

  19. Scott Says:

    B is for Brazil. Specifically, I would love to visit Rio during Carnival.

  20. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

    How could I forget Carnival? That should move us along to C, and since the everywhere has appareently deserted this site, I will go ahead and choose again …

    C is for Czech Republic. I have always wanted to see Prague

    • fsdthreshold Says:

      I’d like to go on an attic tour of Prague, and hunt around in the dusty attics for the Golem. A few years ago I had a very vivid dream that I was in Prague, though I’ve never been there and have no idea what it looks like . . . except in my dream.

  21. Daylily Says:

    D is for Denmark, for reasons of scenery, culture, and ancient history.

    • fsdthreshold Says:

      Yes, that would be a cool place to visit! (I wonder if souvenir shops sell Beowulf-related objects? Little models of Heorot, with Grendel’s arm dangling from the rafters . . . Hrothgar figurines . . . models of Grendel for kids to paint entirely orange, and for their grandmothers to mistakenly call “Exchange-o from The Valley of the Giants” . . .

  22. morwenna Says:

    E is for England. I’ve been there four times, although not recently. It’s the home of Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, and a host of other famous writers. The Bronte sisters (I’m not sure how to create an umlaut). J. R. R. Tolkien. T. H. White. Children’s writers include Lewis Carroll, Kenneth Grahame, A. A. Milne, C. S. Lewis, Beatrix Potter, and J. K. Rowling.

    A Catholic aside to Mr. Brown Snowflake: Today I had my throat blessed with the crossed candles for the Feast of Saint Blaise.

    • fsdthreshold Says:

      I’d like to visit Westminster Abbey myself, and see the graves in the Poets’ Corner! (Last night here it was about as foggy as London in the old tales.)

      I, for one, would love to hear the story behind Saint Blaise and the crossed candles!

      • morwenna Says:

        Fred, this blessing stems from Saint Blaise saving the life of a child who was choking. Google “blessing of throats” to see pictures of the candles fixed together in the form of a cross. It’s a beautiful and powerful blessing!

    • Chris Says:

      At Westminster, when we went, we got to see Darwin’s grave, Newton’s grave an CHARLES LYELL (one of the fathers of geology)! It was waaay cool.

      In general when I go to Europe and do my standard-issue trips to the cathedrals one of the coolest aspects is to see who is buried where.

      In Aachen I saw the coffin where Charlemagne’s remains are contained.

  23. Tim in Germany Says:

    F is for France, but let’s not dwell on amphibians.

    Meanwhile… G is for Germany and, of course, Goethe and the Brothers Grimm. Then there’s Schiller, E.T.A. Hoffmann, and Cornelia Funke (though she’s apparently moved to Southern California). And what about those deep thinkers …

    Immanuel Kant was a real pissant
    Who was very rarely stable.
    “Heidegger, Heidegger was a boozy beggar
    Who could think you under the table.
    David Hume could out-consume
    Wilhelm Freidrich Hegel,
    And Wittgenstein was a beery swine
    Who was just as schloshed as Schlegel.

    There’s nothing Nietzsche couldn’t teach ya’
    ‘Bout the raising of the wrist.”

    And now for something completely different…

    • fsdthreshold Says:

      Thank you, Tim! That’s the first time I’ve ever seen the words written out, and consequently, the first time I’ve been able to make out certain parts of the song — it’s great to be able to understand it at last! (For instance, I’d always understood “Nietzsche” to be the word “nature.”) (And I’d had no CLUE on the line “Who was just as schloshed as Schlegel” — I’d thought “just as” was the word “justice.”)

  24. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

    No, no silly sods … the letters are for countries you would like to visit BUT NEVER HAVE.

    Morwenna: I never miss St. Blaise blessing. We had ours immediately after our weekly afternoon adoration, which is from 5-6 p.m. on THursdays.

    Ahh, England. Almost all of my ancestry is English, which I did not know for a certainty until the last decade or so.

    Would love to visit Denmark (it is close to Norway, where I could investigate further the mystery of the Trondelag it-moose. As they say in Lillehammer: “Ack vet itze nordegag tvork dargegstul.”

    Tim obviously has a great memory or a copy of Monty Pythoin sings, which should be in everyone’s catalog nudge-nudge wink-wink. But, you know, when I think of the Huns I am inclined to think of something other than philosophers (but you are right … the French can go…[expletive deleted])

    That puts us to H, I believe. Tempting to say Holland in lieu of my brother’s former place or residence in The Netherlands, but for H i will say Hungary, because it is all I can think of besides Honduras and the hell with Central America.

    • Daylily Says:

      I lived in Budapest, Hungaria, for six months. It’s a great place for Roman ruins, beautiful cathedrals, opera, and scrumptious Vienna-style pastries!

    • Chris Says:

      I have an upcoming trip to Finland with a layover in Denmark. Don’t even get to get out of the airport and it’s KILLING ME. I’ve been to Iceland, Norway and Finland but not yet Denmark or Sweden. If I want to collect the whole Scandinavian set I need Denmark and Sweden!

  25. Scott Says:

    As Mr Brown Snowflake pointed out, it should be a country that you haven’t visited. In consideration of the rules “Tim in Germany” by his own assertion most certainly is in Germany.

    In Pro Se and Ex Post Facto, I submit G is for Greenland, the land of the ice and snow.

    • Daylily Says:

      I assume you all won’t mind if someone HAS visited the country mentioned and says so, as long as the person posting the country in the first place hasn’t been there? E is also for Easter Island; I would like to see the mysterious giant stone heads!

    • Chris Says:

      Greenland! THAT would be cool! I understand you have to get permission from the Danes, right?

  26. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

    I thnk so vis-a-vis Greenland. See, it used to be a place of agriculture and greenswards before the mini-ice age 500-600 yrs ago which killed off most of the population. Al Gore says we are to blame rich, white industrialists for changing its climate (back to what it was before).

    Now, as for I: Iceland, home of fabulous babes. (the Flail were waiting for me to say Ireland, but I thought I’d throw a curve)

    • Chris Says:

      Iceland is indeed a great place. I’ve only been to Reykjavik but it is among my favorite destinations. The landscape is phenomenal.

      And, just to be pedantic, the current global warming is more likely due to human factors related to increasing greenhouse gas emissions. We simply _know_ that CO2 is a greenhouse gas (a fact established in the middle 1800’s), and we know, through isotopic evidence that humanity has been largely responsible for increased CO2 over the past 150 years (the carbon carries the isotopic signature one would expect from the combustion of fossil fuels like coal and oil).

      The “recovery from the LIA” argument also has some flaws in it, in that it presupposes that the LIA would require a “recovery” as if the LIA was some larger cycle, but further if the various natural forcings which may have had a role in the LIA (solar activity etc.) are factored in (which they are in the current analysis) we cannot explain all of the warming over the past 50 years relying solely on “natural forcings”. We pretty much have to take into account human activities in order to make the numbers add up.

      …now to get back on track with this thread…waaaaaiiittt for iiiitttt..

      So everyone be sure to visit the Maldives and Tuvalu before they disappear under the rising sea levels due to manmade global warming! 🙂 (There “M” and “T” taken care of in one fell swoop. You’re welcome!)

  27. jhagman Says:

    I would say that I is for Islandia- which Austin Tappan Wright made me want to visit! Maybe climb some mountains, or work some horses.

  28. morwenna Says:

    Well, I didn’t do E right (having been to England). As for I, I’ve been to Iceland, Ireland, and Italy (but only to Venice). Maybe India . . .

  29. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

    With the North Sea clogged with ice as early as 500 years ago I will await further solar studies on “global warming.” Enuff on that, Sven …

    J is (duh!) for Japan. I have always wanted to see Mt. Fuji. Also, they, too, have fabulous babes. Also also, I know a guy there. Also, also, also I want to stand on the side of a pedestrian bridge and yell “Godzilla!” (or “Gogira” as the case may be).

  30. Tim in Germany Says:

    I once knew a hobbit, who studied baboons in Kenya. It seemed like a nice place to visit at the time, but now said hobbit assures me Kenya has gone somewhere in a hand basket. The woman who teaches in the room above mine recently went to Kyrgyzstan. She’s visited nearly 130 countries, but she pointedly recommends against going there. I’m sensing a pattern when it comes to K’s.

    So, how about Lichtenstein? I’ve never been there, and it’s only a short drive away. I’ve been fascinated by the place since Jim McKay told me about it during the ’76 winter Olympics. They produce lots of alpine skiers, probably because the whole country is perched on a single mountainside. I can hear the music now, as Jim says “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat,” and that poor sod (was he a Lichtensteiner?) cartwheels over the little building and into traction.

    • Scott Says:

      I once knew a Hobbit in Kenya
      Studied baboons think of it can ya
      Like Yoda now I sound
      I’m not a poet I’ve found
      Thank God this is now at an end ya.

      Sorry about that, but as soon as I read the first line of your comment I thought. “That sounds like the start of a great limerick!” It’s been rattling around in my head ever since and won’t stop until I get it out.

  31. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

    Tim, the hobbit in question has told me the same thing, souring me on Kenya. I could say Kazahkstan, as my brother lived there for three years and married a sweetie from Almaty (they have also lived in Enschede, Netherlands, on the German frontier, but now reside outside Providence, Rhode Island and the Plymouth Plantations).

    I like your choice of Lichtenstein. Is is still a principality?

    Assuming that moves us to M: Monaco, which is/was a principality. And if anyone says “hey, it is a city” just wait til we get to “V” !!!

    • Chris Says:

      “V” is for Vatican, that’s good enough for Pete! V is for Vatican, that’s good enough for Pete! V is for Vatican that’s good enough for Pete. Vatican Vatican Vatican starts with V.

      You know sometimes large compound…like the Kennedy compound, looks like the Vatican! But it’s not! Even though it is filled with Catholics!

      And sometimes the city of Belleville, IL looks like the Vatican, and despite it also being filled with Catholics is largely filled with GERMAN Catholics, so it too is not the Vatican!

      V is for Vatican, that’s good enough for Pete. Vatican, Vatican, Vatican starts with “V”.

      (Remember kids, Vatican is a _sometimes_ city…oops I meant the ETERNAL city!)

  32. jhagman Says:

    Hey, with Chris’ “V is for Vatican”, he sounds like a budding Tom Lehrer! There is some similarities between Chris and Lehrer: an interesting sense of humor, and an addiction to the exact sciences.

  33. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

    What?!? The Vatican is full of catholics? You mean the Eternal City is stuffed with fish-eating, genuflecting, papistic bingoists? Who knew? They probably squirt holy water on you, too. Hmmph.

    But, uh, back to the list. Since enough time has elapsed, appartently Monaco is allowed to stand for M.

    N is for … (how did Chris not jump on this?) … NORGE! Eeg vat statsideag vork vork ets deirstunggervats ztvhu und Oslo.

  34. Daylily Says:

    O is for Oz. I have always wanted to visit Oz. where magic can happen. When I was young, I read quite a number of the Oz stories.

  35. jhagman Says:

    Since Daylily says O is for Oz- I say P is for Poictesme, James Branch Cabell has always made me want to visit, and since it is part of France, I can get some fish, holy water and bingo if I want some!

  36. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

    Now, now, Daylily … if we let Oz stand for ‘O’ we are going to have to start all over again, because ‘I’ would be for Imladris, ‘K’ for Khazad-dum, and so on …

  37. morwenna Says:

    Daylily, I loved the Oz books as a child, and still reread them with joy. Ozma, Professor Wogglebug, the Woozy, the Gump . . . it’s always fun to visit Oz again.

    Brown Snowflake, I guess you’ll nix Q is for Quadling Country. 🙂

  38. jhagman Says:

    Since this is the Weblog of a Fantasy Writer, I thought some Fantasy Countries might be in order,,,, who wants to see New Zealand when one (if given the choice) can see Middle Earth? But then again, there are no orcs in New Zealand!

    • Chris Says:

      While I generally agree that “seeing” Middle Earth would be way cool, I must admit that in my aging I have decided that there are many things on regular earth that are absolutely fascinating and worthy of the investment of time.

      Perhaps this is why over the past 15 to 20 years I’ve read almost exclusively non-fiction (I’m reading more fiction again lately). I think it is kind of interesting to realize that often reality rivals the most astounding fiction.

      Let’s take New Zealand, since I just got back from there. It’s amazing. And now that LotR movies have made it the embodiment of M.E., in a sense it is doubly amazing. So maybe it is 2X the fascinating that visiting Middle Earth would be.

      That and the whole orc thing.

      I’m currently hanging out in southern Finland in a little town called Turku for work. Finland is, itself, amazing. And truly strange for so many reasons, not least their language is unlike anything around it. It is a country that appears to be outside of the place it is. It was a political football between Sweden and Russia for most of it’s “history” but yet it is unlike Sweden or Russia in almost every respect (except that 10% of the population speak Swedish and all the signs are in both Swedish and Finnish).

      There’s too many places on the earth I need to visit first. Then maybe take some time visiting the imagination places.

      So in short I kind of like the limitation that Brownsnowflake put on the original “game” here!

      • morwenna Says:

        Chris, the Moomintroll books — Finn Family Moomintroll and more! — were childhood favorites of mine!

  39. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

    JHAG: Fred may call himself a writer of fantasy fiction, but to me — who has known him for almost 40 years — he is, first and foremost, a storyteller, and a damn fine one at that.

    I blew my own rules vis-a-vis Chris/Norway — duh!

    So now for O: fine, Oz. You all win,

    But for P I choose Phillipines, home of fabulous babes.

  40. Daylily Says:

    Mr. Snowflake: your original rule was stated thus: (Countries I would like to visit but have not and why …) I saw no rule that all countries submitted had to be accessible to twenty-first century people. I would like to visit Oz, I have not done so, and I told you why I wanted to visit that country. Ergo, I paid attention to all stated rules. Logically, you have no beef.

  41. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

    Hoisted on my own petard! Touche, madam Daylily. May you ride a horse of a different color whenever you desire!

    One question … if I go to Oz, will Ozzy be playing at an Ozzfest? That would be cool.

    • Chris Says:

      Oh, BrownSnowflake, you gave in on that one too easily! Put up a fight man!

      The rules lead me to believe that it required the actual ability to visit these places. If, however, one were to pose that the reason they have not visited them is that they are imaginary then I think it would be pointless to put the caveat that one should explain why they haven’t visited a certain place.

      Besides, didn’t we all already do a similar listing of places we’d like to visit without the limitation of “reality” being one of them? I seem to recall early on in the history of the blog that such a list was compiled.

      So I think it more than reasonable to assume (which I did at least) that this list was related to real countries. There are many cities I’d like to visit but I specifically avoided listing those as they weren’t techinically “countries”. So perhaps Daylilly should be required to demonstrate that Oz techinically is a “country”!


      • Daylily Says:

        “Daylilly”? That must be my evil cousin! I’m sure she can easily demonstrate that Oz is “techinically” a country. She will do that by defining the word “techinically” (a word heretofore unknown) in such a way as to prove her point. That is known as “getting off on a technicality,” or would it be a “techinicality”? 🙂

      • Shieldmaiden Says:

        Yes Chris, we did do a fantasy places listing long, long ago on the blog: Places in the Readers Heart. I just looked at it again, it was fun. Has it been that long already?

        And Fred, no worries on the new post, I will just be happy to find time to comment myself ha ha. Good luck with everything that is keeping you busy.

        Oz the country… hmmm 🙂

  42. fsdthreshold Says:

    Scott, I really liked that limerick! It takes talent to create something so awful that it’s actually good! 🙂

    I just wanted to say hello to everyone and let you know that I haven’t forgotten you all. I’m thinking of a new post, but this is the absolute most busiest week I’ve ever faced. Grades are coming due at the university, and in this very week, the editor sent me the copyedited draft of The Star Shard and needs me to look it over and return it to her as soon as possible with any additions/corrections I want to make. The timing could not possibly be worse! But still, I’m thankful and excited that the book is moving forward. And I got to see a preliminary sketch for the cover which thrilled and delighted me! (They very graciously incorporated my input!)

    I had occasion to be digging through my closet a few days ago, and I came upon my (Japanese) collection of pewter D&D miniatures. Boy, did those bring back fond memories! I envy those of you who are still able to play D&D where you are! There was a time back in the nineties when some friends and I were ordering D&D figurines, modules, and other accessories and really enjoying the game.

    Anyway, I’m reading and appreciating all the comments, and a new post will be coming before too long!

    • Chris Says:

      Excellent news! I disliked “rewrites” on science papers and I’m sure rewrites on actual books are infinitely worse. It’s one thing to have someone suggest an alteration to a calculation or interpretation, but quite another to deal with alterations on one’s artistic vision!

      I had a strange dream last night. I was back in T-ville driving down Old Oak Road and drove by your house. It was boarded up as if for demolition. I thought it amazingly sad since that was kind of like the end of any real connection I might have with T-ville.

      I find myself fascinated lately with my personal de-attachment from my original hometown (I say ‘de-attachment’ rather than detachment since I see it as a process that is currently playing out).

      Unlike many places that we leave never really knowing if we are coming back to or not or places we simply fail to return to, I see this process as moving me further away from that part of my life.

      And seeing your house (even though you no longer live there) as possibly disappearing was strangely saddening in that respect. I think if I had seen my parents’ old house just next door in the same state in my dream I wouldn’t have felt that kind of sadness.

      Strange indeed.

  43. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

    Great news, Fred! Keep us all updated!

    Did you know the original guys behind Judges Guild are back in business? I should send you an email on it; I was even in contact with Bob Bledshaw, Jr. whose dad was one of the originators of D&D.

    The group I played with in M’town in through the mid-90’s and early part of this decade had, as a whole (the truth gang, we counted, scout’s honor!) over 500 different miniatures, not counting walls, floors, doors, furniture, etc. There were over 70 orcs alone!

    As far as our blog alphabet game is going, I am still playing, even in nobody else is. We are up to Q, but I have no desire to visit Qatar and, although the Frogs think so, Quebec is not its own country.

    So, to R. Uhh, R. Romania, I guess. I suppose there are a few castles worth checking out. Kind of a bland choice. Anyone have a better R? An S?

    • Chris Says:

      Quebec! Oh I like that possibility. It’s not so much the french who necessarily think of Quebec as it’s own country so much as the Quebecois. I had a few trips up there for work and one for fun. I spent a few days in Montreal and a few in Trois Rivieres. Truth be told it is kind of its own little island of francophilia. I don’t see as they could ever effectively become their own country though. It would split Canada and that wouldn’t be particularly useful.

      But Newfoundland! Now they were their own dominion of the UK up until 1949 when it became part of Canada. Now that’s a cool place to visit too! I’ve been there a couple times now. St. John’s is really nice.

    • Chris Says:

      R: RUSSIA. I have always wanted to visit Russia. On my couple trips to Helsinki I’ve been one boat ride away from St. Petersburg but you need a visa and a couple extra days. Grrrrrrr.

      There are so many places in Russia I’d like to see even though I recognize it as having more than it’s fair share of problems, but the history and the scenery alone would be very neat to see.

      For whatever reason I really like some of the Soviet style excess as well. The art styles are kind of fascinating. There’s a “Mother Russia” statue on the Volga that is apparently absolutely astounding.

      (Here in Turku there’s a little plaque outside a building that tells of how Lenin visited this particular place back in 1917 during his exile from Russia. Kind of a “Lenin Slept Here” plaque. Strange to see with American eyes.)

    • Chris Says:

      S: Sweden.

      Yup, I’ve never been to Sweden. I’m working on adding it to my “Scandinavian” trip catalogue. I’ve been to Iceland (2X), Norway (2X), now Finland (3X), just did a flight layover in Denmark (doesn’t count as a true visit, so it’s also on the list) and then I need Sweden to make the whole set.

      From what I hear Swedes like to stay indoors while Norwegians like outdoors. The Scandinavian peninsula apparently has more mountains and “stunning scenery” on the Norwegian side, but Sweden is a bit more “inwardly focused” (ie spend more time on their homes and indoors). Not sure how true that is, though. Considering that Sweden had at one time or another in its history dominated just about every country around it.

      But yes, S is Sweden.

  44. fsdthreshold Says:

    Chris, I find it fascinating — and quite an honor — that my house serves as a dream symbol of Taylorville for you instead of your own house! We had many great times at both places, so I’m not sure why that is.

    Rest assured that there are no plans to board up the place. As several people have kindly pointed out, my cousin does a better job of taking care of the grounds than I ever did. (But the year I lived there as an adult, I had a lot to take care of!)

  45. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

    As my brother lived in Petrozavodsk, Russia (a small way NE of St. Petersburg; while there he made friends with several Finns) and is fluent in Russian (it is the language used in his home, as it is the mother tongue of his Kazak wife — the three kids are thus bilingual) I opted to leave Russia out.

    You were correct, Chris, in noting my wimpy defense against Daylily. I feel like a sheep.

    Fred, whenever I turn off Lincoln Trail onto Old Oak Rd I feel as if the atmosphere changes, as if I might be passing into or through some kind of hiccup in the space/time continuum. Your cousin is indeed keeping the place up, but you did a tremendous amount of heavy lifting when you were home and he is simply reaping the reward and maintaining a status quo you created. Put simply, hurry up and sell 100k+ copies of The Star Shard, get a fat advance on the third book and get your butt back home for good!

    Ohh, yeah, T: Trinidad and Tobago. No reason, other than that I have no desire to visit Turkey.

  46. fsdthreshold Says:

    Shieldmaiden, I think I speak for us all in naming you our honorary Blog Historian. 🙂 You’re always able to tell us if and when we’ve talked about something!

    Thank you, Mr. Snowflake! It is true that, during my year of living at the old homestead, I had a new roof put on after the tornadoes that summer perforated the old one, and I had the ruins of the barn and the chicken house and tin shed removed (which were upsetting the insurance company). I got rid of the dying cottonwoods that were polluting the neighbors’ yards. (Yet I preserved as many trees as I could!) The year before, I personally cleaned out the basement, and that year, I cleaned out the rest of the house. I was there for the devastating ice storm which reconfigured all the trees and filled the yard with debris so dense you quite literally could not walk through it; I got the debris sawed up into little pieces and much of it burned. So yes, as we see again and again in history: one king fights the ugly wars and gets things secure, and then his son comes in and has a glorious reign of prosperity. I’m just glad the wheel of time came around perfectly to place me there in the year that the heavy lifting needed doing!

    Trinidad! I have a character in The House of the Worm named Trinidad. (But I confess to having stolen the name from Gabriel Garcia Marquez.)

    I was going to say “Tunisia” for T, to see the STAR WARS sites . . . but nah, I don’t really want to go to Tunisia.

    Working in the wonderful university library today, I finished checking the copyedits on The Star Shard and sent it back to my editor from my “lucky post office,” the one just outside the West Gate of Niigata U.!

    • Daylily Says:

      Congratulations on finishing this checking posthaste! And also, thank you, because now we are one day closer to seeing The Star Shard in print!

  47. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

    U is for Uruguay (or, as Homer Simpson said, U-R-GAY). Always wanted to see Montivedeo, dunno why.

  48. Daylily Says:

    U is for Uruguay, the second least corrupt country in South America. Palm trees, beaches, and plenty scenic enough to suit me!

  49. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

    V? I get V?!?

  50. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

    V? I get V?

    • Daylily Says:

      Vanuatu, an island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean. Sounds like a delightful idea in February! W will be tough. I’m not finding an independent country beginning with W. If the country doesn’t have to be independent, there are three or four possibilities. I come up with nothing at all for X.

  51. Chris Says:

    Ahhhh W is for Wome, as in the past (hey, Oz got in!). I have a vewy gweat fwiend in Wome, his name is Biggus…

    Ooops, family blog.

    Womania then it is! What? That dosen’t sound any bettew… wait, wait, wait…..

    Waziristan! Huh? Not a country? Wellll…..YET!

    From what I’ve been able to glean off the mighty Intarwebs there may only be one country starting with W and that is “Western Sahara” in Africa and even that is in dispute as to it being its own country.

    Even “Western Samoa” apparently now just goes under Samoa.

    W: the earth’s loneliest letter.

  52. Chris Says:

    I take that back: X has no countries to claim. Even lonelier than W.

    Unless you count Xanadu! (and by Xanadu I don’t mean the summer capital of the Yuan Dynasty in China, but rather the magical nightclub from the movie staring Olivia Newton-John and for which the ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA did some music! Wow! We got YET ANOTHER ELO LINKAGE IN HERE! Soon Fred’s blog will show up on Google searches for ELO!)

  53. morwenna Says:

    Chris, a bit of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan”:

    In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
    A stately pleasure-dome decree:
    Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
    Through caverns measureless to man
    Down to a sunless sea.

    • Chris Says:

      A bit of the song “Xanadu” as sung by Olivia Newton-John (by Jeff Lynne)

      A million lights are dancing and there you are
      A shooting star, an everlasting world and you’re
      Here with me eternally

      Xanadu–Xanadu (now we are here)
      In Xanadu(Xanadu)
      Xanadu–Xanadu (now we are here)
      In Xanadu(Xanadu,Xanadu)

      • Chris Says:

        Oh, lest anyone think ill of me: please note I HATE musicals by and large, I have never watched the movie “Xanadu” through (what I’ve seen makes it look absolutely HORRENDOUS) but I like Olivia Newton-John and ELO did some good work on their parts.

        Another example where the music was apparently the best part of the movie. We’ll find out for sure. I’m going to steel myself and watch “Xanadu” later this month when it comes in the Netflix. Please pray for me. Since, as I said, normally I HATE musicals and this one looks like it’s a baaaaad one anyway.

        And speaking of a story meant for the magazine FATE:

        yesterday I’m sitting in my hotel room in Turku Finland working on stuff for work when I got the itch to hear some music from Xanadu. Then I posted the Xanadu comment on Fred’s blog, then an hour or two later I was out walking around in a store here in Finland when over the loudspeaker they started playing the title song from the movie (albeit a remake). Truly weeeeeiiiiiirrrrrddd!


  54. jhagman Says:

    I would say X is for Xiccarph- but it is not a country (not even in the fantasy realms) it is a Planet- in the Universe of Clark Ashton Smith. Not to rain on any parades but,,, my former employer of nearly seven years Borders Books is going bust, I find this very sad.

    • Chris Says:

      Borders going bust? That’s scary! Now, granted, I’m a B&N man myself these days. NOt sure why because they are getting pretty indistinguishable at the big level, but I always preferred Barnes and Noble. But still I hit Borders a lot.

      The thing I suspect that is driving book stores down (at least temporarily) is a bad economy (duh) but I also wonder how the digital book downloading technology will hit them. Look around you now, how many record/cd stores do you see? Is this the future of books?

      Hate to sound like a one-trick pony but DIGITAL PRINTING REVOLUTION and Print-on-Demand technology cannot get scaled up fast enough.

      The paper I’m working on in Europe for “direct mail” (junk mail if you will) just got announced publically and now I get to start work on something I actually feel some passion for: BOOK PAPER COATINGS for highspeed webpress stuff.

      I’m working on the formulations now and will pick it up when I get back from Finland next week. Again with luck this will get our high speed digital webpress paper on the market and enable more placements of these really cool machines (we aren’t the only manufacturer of them, btw). And that will, at least for textbooks, mean more economical printing and ultimately maybe more economical printing for regular books.

      Hope hope hope.

  55. fsdthreshold Says:

    Wow, this is the 100th comment on this post! Yes, I’ve been following the news announcements about Borders with great sadness. Borders Books is “the nice one” of the two gigantic bookstores. They were much, much nicer to me concerning Dragonfly than their competition was. Borders stores ordered something like ten copies (per store) of the mass-market paperback and displayed it face-up for me, often on the “new arrivals” tables. The other guys ordered 1 or 2 copies each and buried them in the fantasy section with only the spines showing. So I deeply mourn the passing of Borders, if indeed it is passing. (The e-mail I received a couple days ago as a Borders Rewards customer from their CEO seemed to say, “We are not going out of business,” but I’m not sure what’s developed since then.)

    Anyway, Morwenna, you beat me to the “Kubla Khan” quotation. We are definitely on the same wavelength when it comes to literary references. You pulled out “Ozymandias” a while back, and now this one! The instant someone says “Xanadu,” my Pavlovian reaction is, “In Xanadu did Kubla-Khan / A stately pleasure-dome decree.” I’ve read that Coleridge claimed that poem fragment came to him in a dream. (Of course I love the part about “caverns measureless to man”!)

    Finally, another note of sadness, unless we can figure something out: it looks as if Mr. Brown Snowflake is losing his brown snowflake icon! (See his two previous comments above.) He will be changing his e-mail address, and I’ve tried everything I can think of through WordPress to get the system to retain the same icon for his same name. But it looks as if when the e-mail address changes, the system insists that’s a different person, and it assigns a new icon. And I have no control over the icons. So . . . it’s a dark time all over.

    There’s a great line in Lud-in-the-Mist in which Master Nathaniel has called something black that is actually canary yellow, and when corrected on it, he replies, “Well, it’s a blackish canary.” I suggest that, since we are a blog of imaginers, we go right on perceiving Mr. Snowflake’s icon as brown, no matter what the system does to it. That is the most brownish black snowflake I have ever seen.

    • Chris Says:

      Fred, was B&N less nice to you than Borders??? That saddens me.

      Have you ever heard of a local to Cincinnati and Norther Kentucky chain called Joseph-Beth? I don’t know if they are in business anymore but back when I was there it was THE premier bookstore for me. They were the first place I remember that put nice comfy chairs around for people to sit and enjoy the books. I read about 15% of “The Making of the Atomic Bomb” there (ultimately bought a copy as well, so it was a good investment for Joseph-Beth.

      B&N was the only chain that came close to J-B after I left Kentucky but even now they are not as “homey” and comfy as they used to be.

      I haven’t heard anything about Borders’ woes but what I’ve seen from many other companies is that they can hold on an amazingly long time after people start talking about their imminent demise. I think that is what bankruptcy reorgs run like. And that’s if they go that far. In the States Blockbuster has been limping along for years now as Netflix and other digital streaming media have drunk Blockbuster’s milkshake numerous times (hopefully someone gets that reference) but yet they still remain alive. Year after year people say “no one goes to Blockbuster, this year they will die” yet it still remains open. And you can see the sad empty places still running. Borders is big enough all they have to do is weather the tailing off of the current recession and on they will go for a good many years (until, of course, all books disappear into a puff of 1’s and 0’s).

      Strangely enough, on a photo front, I’ve heard similar rumors about Kodak disappearing. They were not fast enough on the digital printing front and are still playing catch up to everyone else. Now that few people use “AgX” film (that’s shorthand for silver halide film) Kodak has found itself with diminishing revenues.

      “Disruptive Technologies” like digital imaging may cause Kodak, a famous company noone thought could ever disappear, to disappear? And why Kodak? Why did they wind up being one of the last on the bus? It was one of KOdak’s own engineers who first invented the digital camera apparently (!!!!)

      When we lived in Boston Polaroid was going under. Their NAME was ultimately sold to a different company who continued on. They still make some digital photography stuff but the company is rather different now as I understand it.

      Weird, weird world. The world of large corporations truly is a “cavern measureless to man”…and not in a pleasure dome sort of way.)

    • Shieldmaiden Says:

      Hi, yes, I missed this somehow Fred. It is indeed a very brownish black snowflake. There is a way to keep it if he wants to. I still have my green one from a different account but it is a hassle.

      Mr Brown Snowflake: if you still have access to your old email you can enter the original one in the reply box on Fred’s blog when you make your first comment of each post. Make sure to subscribe to the comments and then log into your old account to confirm the subscription. When you click the link to confirm you’ll be able to change the email address by clicking on the “Settings” option. It will list your original email there, just erase that one and put in your new one and hit “Save Changes” and this will allow you to forward to your new email from your old. A request will be sent to your new email, once you accept it there you are good to go. You will get all the follow up comments on the new email address even though you posted the old one on the comment. So you only have to do all this nonsense the first time you comment on each posting. See? It is easier than it sounds, but still a bit of a hassle.
      Good luck!!

  56. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

    As a dungeonmaster I once described to the group that a large chamber they were about to enter was “Lit white”. I had intended to say “a whitish light” to differentiate it from the amber light cast from their lanterns. We all had a big laugh, but (bless the English language) we all knew what I meant to say.

    Ditto the icon. It may not look like a Brown Snowflake, but “I” remain Mr. Brown Snowflake, ready to soil the blog with dirt at any moment. Ahh brown, the color of mediocre, the banner of average, the shade of the unloved, the tint of waste, the one color in Crayola’s big-crayon 8-pack that is never any child’s favorite …

    • Scott Says:

      About your icon. There must be a way to set one of your own choosing. If you look at the first comment on this post, Jason M Waltz has an unusual icon that he evidently picked himself.

      • terindar Says:

        Yes you can. Click on the avatar (icon) and follow the instructions.

      • Shieldmaiden Says:

        About the avatar: I click on your avatar icon Scott/terrindar? Nothing happens when I click on my icon, but yours takes me to instructions. Can you explain this again? I am so not a computer person but would love to know how to do this. I have seen the personal ones and have always wondered.
        Brown: I hope you can take a picture of your original snowflake and create a new icon that is the old one.

  57. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

    Uhh, I nearly forgot: V is for Vatican City. Period.

    W is indeed, as I can tell you from personal experience, a lonely letter. Methinks Scott and Mike on West Main Cross would agree.

    X: Don’t do it, Chris. DO NOT DO IT! Much as I love ELO and like ONJ, don’t damage your atheistic soul (or whatever you call it) by watching Xanadu! Save yourself (and your wife, you will doubtless suffer residual damage) and avoid the movie at all costs. Think “Howard the Duck” meets “Starlight.”

    Somebody have a Y? Mr. Tito’s Y is defunct.

    • Shieldmaiden Says:

      Brown: what happened to your snowflake? And, I love Xanadu… just sayin’

    • Daylily Says:

      Y is for Yemen. But I certainly don’t want to go there! Any volunteers? (But check the news reports before you go!) Z is for Zimbabwe, and I would like to go there. A friend has made several mission trips to Zimbabwe. I want to see Victoria Falls, one of the largest waterfalls in the world (possibly the largest)! Of course, I could also see this sight from Zambia . . .

  58. morwenna Says:

    Fred, yes, while the poem is usually just referred to as “Kubla Khan,” it does have a subtitle: “Kubla Khan, or, A Vision in a Dream. A Fragment.” I knew how much you must love those “caverns measureless to man”!

    Chris, it seems as if you’re being pulled toward a Twilight Zoneish portal that connects Turku to Xanadu.

  59. fsdthreshold Says:

    Shieldmaiden: did you miss my explanation up there about what happened to the brown snowflake? And Morwenna: yes! I remember that now! “A Vision in a Dream. A Fragment.”
    About W and X being lonely letters — it reminds me of Sesame Street, and that poor lonely lowercase n. (But now the lowercase n isn’t lonely anymore — that story ended happily.)
    While we’re on Silly Things Dungeon Masters say: You guys never let me forget that, in describing a room, I once said: “The room is devoid of furniture, and . . . there’s no furniture in it.”

  60. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

    seeing if it works

    • Shieldmaiden Says:

      I wish I knew how to do this. I am sure there is a way but I am not the person to figure out how. Your brown snowflake is working below but it seems to still be giving you fits. Maybe Scott can tell us how he turned his normal snowflake into the little guy in yellow when he became terindar? If you ever figure it out you know I am interested in doing the same thing so I can use my regular email and keep my green icon.

      • Scott Says:

        The little guy in yellow is Kokopeli or “The Flute Player”. He is a cave painting from the Native Americans in the Southwestern US. Kokopeli is the fertility god in several different tribal religions.

        As for how I did it:
        Click on an avatar(icon)
        Click on “sign up for an account”
        Enter your email address
        You will receive an email. Click on the link. Sign up for Gravatar.
        Once you are signed up, you can load pictures from your hard drive or from the internet. I tried to load one of the avatars from the blog, but it wouldn’t let me. I’m not sure why yet, but I’m working on it.

        By the way, Terindar is my D&D Flail of Ralsoth character.

      • Shieldmaiden Says:

        Thanks Scott, “The Flute Player” did look familiar but I didn’t know who it was. I appreciate all the help in trying to load the snowflake. I made a jpeg of my icon and saved it to My Pictures, do you think I can load it that way?
        P.S. I had a feeling Terindar went back to the D&D days 🙂

      • Shieldmaiden Says:

        jpg not peg

  61. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

    lets see…

  62. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

    once more…

  63. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

    darn it

  64. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:


  65. fsdthreshold Says:

    Okay–I did that by manually changing your address in every message to your old address. However, see the one that I couldn’t change? You had used a different name for yourself. Even when I changed it to “I am Mr. Brown Snowflake,” I couldn’t get the icon to change. So I think YOU have to type that same name, and then if you send it from your new address, I can come in after the fact and change the address, and the snowflakes go brown.

  66. morwenna Says:

    Brown, I hope this works out and you can return to your signature icon. I know we’re supposed to imagine the black barbed-wire flake as brown, but . . . no, it can’t be done. Mr. Green Jeans didn’t wear red! And speaking of green, Shieldmaiden, your original icon is a keeper, too. Maybe Scott can help.

  67. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake Says:

    I want to thank everyone for their concern and help, including some who have personally emailed me. I tried the gravatar thing and it did not work, but our tech guy is coming in tuesday and has promised set everything right, so I am keeping my fingers crossed. Again, heartfelt thanks to all!

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