It was one of my wife Marge's fondest childhood dreams to some day ride in a hot air balloon (the catalyst: the sequence in Michael Todd's classic film adaptation of Jules Verne's Around the World in 80 Days in which David Niven and crew scoop snow from the Alps to cool their champagne). Thanks to CCS Year One Alumni Elizabeth Chasalow, I established contact with the Quechee Balloon Festival organizers early enough this year to book us for a flight on June 16th. We opted for the Friday night at 6 PM slot, and we sure lucked out weather-wise!
After a quick fairgrounds dinner (chicken taco for me, hot dog for Marge) and final trip to the edge of the woods to drain the snake, it was on to the balloon-raising pasture to find our pilot Gary and savor the sacred ritual of the Giant Prophylatic Arousal and -- well, they inflated the balloons. Very cool to watch: the laying out of the outsized balloon 'sleeves,' the inflation via powerful fans, and once the balloon is full of enough air to create a sort of whale-belly-sized 'room,' the gas jets are turned on to heat the air pocket and in short order each balloon was up off the ground. Once the respective pilots and passengers were in their places in each basket, each balloon took its place in the procession of aloft departures. This was a slow, steady and (other than the blast of the gas jets and noise of the crowd) fairly silent process, and since Gary and his brother's balloon were among the last to inflate and depart, Marge and I savored the spectacle from start to finish -- when it was finally our turn to join the sky diamonds.
Gary and his crew, just before our turn came to climb into the basket and prepare for lift off. Which is in five... four... three... two...
Tomorrow: Where's the Volcano?; Or: Here There Not Be Monsters, And Gorging Upon What We Truly Saw From On High
[All photos by & copyright 2006 Marge Bissette, whom I love, so don't steal 'em!]
Addendum to last week's posts:
* Horror: Another 100 Best Books editors Stephen Jones & Kim Newman proudly announce the book has also been nominated for an International Horror Guild Award.
* A few new (to me, anyway) blogs of note:
- My great friend G. Michael Dobbs has launched a new blog site that should be of interest, particularly to those of you who are working journalists -- and essential reading to those of you who think journalism is a lost art and essential (endangered) link in our besieged ruins of a democracy. Click over to
- While you're there, click over to Mike's blog
- Years ago, I was outside examiner for Marlboro College senior art student Daniel Lapham, who was working on an ambitious sf graphic novel and the Marlboro art department didn't have a clue what to do with such ambitions. Lucky for me, I got to meet Dan and see his work, did my part as examiner, he graduated in style and we've stayed in touch off and on since. Daniel made the move from VT to Los Angeles, juggled day jobs with building his cartooning creds and landing some comics gigs (outside the mainstream industry) and gigs like the Discovery Channel's Monster House. He has most recently worked on some animation for a History Channel special ("info on airdates when I get it," Dan writes this past week), and he and his sweetie Samantha have "upped stakes to Montana," entering a new phase in their life together. But why take my word for it? Drop everything you're doing and go to
- Mike Mitchell, Maine-based creator of the comic Zombie Boy, is at