Monday, July 03, 2006

What, No Mysterious Island?; Or, How Marge's Childhood Dream Came True, Though I Didn't Get To Dine on a Giant Crab, Part the First

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
  • That's Thirty,
  • and make it part of your weekly blog reading. I would like to bring particular attention to
  • Mike's post on "What many public relations people don't know."
  • Hey, every one of you out there promoting your own work: This is essential reading, and worth bookmarking/printing/posting/sharing!

    - While you're there, click over to Mike's blog
  • Out of the Inkwell,
  • where he's posting some terrific Fleischer Brothers Superman art and offering his insights on the new film, Superman Returns (which I've yet to see myself) and the icon's immigration status. Hey, weigh in on the political debate on the movie's careful revision of the ol' "Truth, Justice and -- " moniker, please! Out of the Inkwell is among the blogs permanently linked from my own, so don't be a stranger.

    - 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
  • the Daniel Lapham Blog - Disorderly Conduct Illustrated
  • and get the scoop first hand from Dan the Man! His June 11th post delivers his background story, and from here on we're in the realm (many of you are) of the young cartoonist making his way in the world. Here's wishing you luck, Dan, and hoping your blog brings your work to a worthy publisher's attention to boot. Recommended blogovation reading, add him to your lineup.

    - Mike Mitchell, Maine-based creator of the comic Zombie Boy, is at
  • the Mitchell Family Comics site.
  • Planet of the Apes monkeyheads take note: right now, Mike is posting pages daily from his homegrown 1999 comic dedicated to the first episode of the POTA TV series, drawn years before Mike got serious about his comics aspirations ("...a labor of love, and is from an early formative period, so I hope you are kind and don't see this as a reflection of my current work"). Hmmm, looks kinda like early Rick Veitch and Tom Yeates art... that's a compliment. Worth a look (Gene and Phil, take heed)! Enjoy, and tell him I sent ya.