There are 40 DAYS remaining…

HarperCollins has added a countdown clock to its Bad Monkeys page. The timer hits zero at midnight on the 23rd of July, and bookstores across America will of course be staying open late to await the arrival of the delivery trucks…

OK, not really. But if you’re taking the kids to B&N for Harry Potter Day, the 21st, you may want to keep an eye out in case Bad Monkeys shows up early.

This, Dr. Pepper, is SPARTA!!!

So what do authors do to pass the time while waiting for their publication date?

One answer, if you know the right people, is: fill plastic soda bottles with water and then hack them apart with swords…

BTW, this is two separate cuts with two different blades (and two bottles; Dr. Pepper didn’t survive his encounter with the longsword in photo #1).

Here, fellow Pepper matador Cooper Moo scores a clean decapitation:

Pics courtesy of Neal S.; deadly weapons courtesy of Angus Trim and Tinker Pearce.

Author of MS Word barred from World Series of Poker

Via extempore, news that Richard Brodie, the guy responsible for the red squiggly line that appears under misspellings in MS Word, has been barred from all Harrah’s casino properties. Since this includes the Rio, the site of the 2007 World Series of Poker, he won’t be playing this year.

Brodie’s story of the barring appears on his blog. Note for Trek fans, the “Wil Wheaton” in the comments is indeed li’l Wesley Crusher from ST:tnG, all growed up now.


Thanks to a German fan named Kolja Böther, I now have a copy of my missionary grandfather’s memoir, Roughing it for Christ in the Wilds of Brazil. It’s short—more a pamphlet than a book—but does a good job of conveying what his life in South America was like.

The “roughing it” part is no joke. Traveling between his various mission posts, Grandpa sometimes spent as much as twenty hours at a stretch in the saddle (he rode mules, the terrain having proved too rugged for horses). And his home life, when he had time to enjoy it, sounds like something you might read about in a Matt Ruff novel:

The parsonage was well meant by Synod’s representatives. A large, two-story building of sixteen rooms, intended to house two missionaries, with the greatest number of large French windows that I ever saw in a house of that size. With the exception of my study, the windows were without glass during the war, and for some time after. There were no shutters. In Brazil it rains at times. We sometimes have the feeling as if it were always raining there. And with every rain the water would pour down through the ceiling on the windward side of the house. In some rains all four sides seemed windward, as the storm drove the sheets of rain through from end to end. But we were trained, like a ship’s crew, to stow all movable goods away on the driest side of the house. And when the wind changed, we would re-stow them on the other side. And sometimes we would be sitting on the leeward side and wouldn’t notice the rain coming in the windward, and would then find some books ruined or a bed wet through and through, or even covered with a layer of clay mortar from the unfinished wall. That, too, was hard on the nerves. But I can say that I always tried to find a funny side. One of the funny sides was this, that the floor was absolutely waterproof. We had to bore holes through it to get the water out. But after I had a wife, and before I got the idea of the holes in the floor, and whenever we would have stowed the goods away on a dry side, before the wind would have a chance to turn, we would join hands and dance around barefoot in the sea on the floors of study and dining room…

About the wife: in the stories my mother used to tell me, Grandpa and Grandma’s marriage was far from idyllic. Among other issues, Grandma eventually converted to Mormonism, which I imagine made for interesting dinner conversation. But at time Grandpa wrote Roughing it, the big theological debates were still in the future, and his description of her and their relationship is actually quite touching:

[S]he is a German Russian by birth, a Brazilian by adoption since her eleventh year, an American by sympathies and by marriage. Having had no school, she is a wonderful reader. In her confirmation days and after she memorized all of the synodical catechism, including most of Luther’s introduction. In her girlhood days, she made 14 miles afoot and back on the same day, in the rain and barefoot, of course, to hear one of our chorus concerts…
We have been asked other questions, one or two of which I shall answer here. “Don’t you wear wedding rings in Brazil?” Yes, we do. At least those people do that have the money. We didn’t have it at the time. Later on we made up our minds that we would have a sweet revenge for this condition of affairs, by buying our rings at no other place than Tiffany’s in New York. Which we did. They are the usual gold bands, and contain the legend: “Urwahnfried — 1918.” Nothing else, but that is a volume. Urwahnfried is a word composed of old German word roots, and means in modern English, “Fulfillment.” Or, more explicitly: “The Place where my Fight for the Highest and Broadest Ideals of Life Came to an End in the Peace of Victory.”

And that’s today’s word.

(Update: My grandfather’s book is now available in a Kindle edition.)

The color code of the day is #FAEE04

As part of the master plan to sell copies of Bad Monkeys to every cool person in America, HarperCollins has set up a Myspace page. I got the password a couple days ago and am starting to familiarize myself with the interface. Most of it’s pretty straightforward, but if I want to spiff up the look of the profile page—and I do—I’m going to have to learn to hand-code CSS, which should make for an interesting project.

And speaking of books with large amounts of yellow on their covers, I just got word that the German paperback of Sewer, Gas & Electric is entering its 7th printing. If any of you should run into David Hasselhoff today, please tell him I said hi.

About the book tour

The Bad Monkeys book tour is starting to take shape. So far it’s pretty modest—readings and signings in a bunch of places in Seattle and a visit to Powell’s in Portland (on July 31st)—but we’re not done making arrangements, so those of you who are farther afield and want to see me shouldn’t despair just yet. A lot depends on whether we can get the orbital mind control lasers focused on Oprah (Cormac McCarthy is supposed to pass along targeting coordinates, but so far no dice).

A list of confirmed tour dates can be found on the “Readings and other appearances” page of my website.

The new John Crowley book is here! The new John Crowley book is here!

My reward for appearing at the UW bookstore last night: I snagged a copy of the final Ægypt volume, Endless Things, which had showed up on their shelves a week ahead of schedule. I’m now faced with the wonderful dilemma of whether to read Endless Things immediately or go back and reread the rest of Ægypt first. Whoo-hoo!

P.S. The highlight of last night’s event was Eileen Gunn reading a slash parody bit about Kirk and Spock giving birth. She feels it’s unpublishable because of the whole copyright-and-trademark-infringement thing, but it’s so damn funny I hope somebody will take the chance.

There’s evil afoot

No, I’m not talking about the Virginia Tech shootings, the latest bombings in Iraq, or Governor Corzine’s decision to go speeding without a seat belt.

According to a report in today’s Seattle P-I, elements of the chocolate industry are lobbying the Food and Drug Administration to change the legal definition of chocolate so that it no longer needs to contain cocoa butter (or, in the case of milk chocolate, actual milk).

The headquarters of the Resistance is here.