A Man of Iron, A Music Contest, More Werewolves, etc.

This week I have quite a bit of entertainment news for you, as well as some follow-up links to last week's column. Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling is having a special sweepstakes, you can buy an (in)authentic werewolf kit on e-Bay, and I have an incredible story about a nineteenth century fisherman.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is coming out on July 21st, at 12:01 a.m. Ms. Rowling will be coming to the United States for a very limited book tour in September. She'll be appearing at three events for schoolchildren, one in New Orleans, one in Los Angeles and one in New York. The children who attend these readings will be chosen via a Sorting Hat given to various schools. Don't give up hope if you're not a student or not in one of these cities as Ms. Rowling will give one last reading and Q and A at Carnegie Hall in New York City on October 19, 2006. One thousand fans will be chosen to attend in a sweepstakes that will run via the Scholastic website. The contest will begin July 1st and you can enter and find complete rules at http://www.scholastic.com/harrypotter. While you're there you can play games, download bookmarks, posters or wallpaper, as well as find out if the Knight Bus Tour will be heading to a library near you.

Last week's focus was on the novels of Kelley Armstrong, the creator of the Women of the Otherworld series. Ms. Armstrong has been kind enough to her fans to create several shorter works which she has posted for free on her website, available in various formats including PDF and eReader. She has several short stories, novellas, some deleted scenes from the novel Broken and a graphic novel, still in progress that she's doing with artist Xaviere Daumarie. The website is a little clunky so instead of a link I'm afraid you'll have to go to her main page then click extras, then online fiction and you'll get a list of them in the order in which she wrote them. While you're there you can also request a signed bookplate and download some bookmarks, either the ones created by Ms. Armstrong or the fan art series.

And speaking of werewolves, you've got the opportunity to purchase a werewolf specimen and hunting kit, made by artist Alex CF, who is auctioning it off on eBay. Presented as the collection of a biologist whose wife was killed by a werewolf, it includes teeth, silver bullets, photographs of the biologist, a map showing the migration of the creature as well as marks showing where it took its victims and quite a lot more. There are also some more grisly objects like the fetus of a cub and lots of blood related items the biologist used as he tracked the history of the werewolf, discovering that lycanthropy is the result of a virus. This is a fascinating kit and well worth a look even if you don't have the slightest intentions of bidding.

Douglas Clegg is running a musical contest that started on Midsummer's Night and will run through the middle of October. He's looking for someone to write and record a theme song for one of the books in his Vampyricon trilogy, either The Priest of Blood, The Lady of Serpents or The Queen of Wolves. The grand prize is three thousand dollars, a banner ad for four weeks at Shocklines.com, autographed copies of all three novels, and the song will hopefully be included in the video trailer for the newest book, The Queen of Wolves. That's a fairly new thing, video trailers for books. I'm not sure how well they're working yet but they have a lot of potential. Details can be found here.

I'm half way through a book called Ten Hours Until Dawn - The True Story of Heroism and Tragedy Aboard the Can Do, another installment in my new obsession with shipwrecks, and so far it's quite good. It's about a pilot boat that ran into serious trouble during the blizzard of 1978 off the Eastern Seaboard. One of the men involved in the rescue efforts was later in the so called Perfect Storm in 90's and he says that storm had nothing on the blizzard of '78. Like many nonfiction books about particular events, the book is a mine of much smaller fascinating stories. I was staying up quite late the other night when I read the story of Howard Blackburn, a Gloucester fisherman who was lost at sea in a dory in the 1880's. At one point Blackburn had to fix something so he took his mittens off and was dismayed to discover his dory mate (who later died) had tossed them over the side while bailing. Not wanting to be found doing nothing to help his own rescue, he allowed his hands to freeze around the oars so that he would be able to keep rowing. You can read his own account of the terrible ordeal here. One of the most amazing things about "the Iron Man" is that he went on to sail around the horn to go to San Francisco when he caught gold fever and he single-handedly sailed a sloop across the Atlantic. When he died at the age of 72 he was planning another trip. He was also sometimes a bootlegger. Someone should definitely make a movie about this man's life. Perhaps someone could give James Cameron a call and suggest it.

One-Paragraph Review

This week's one-paragraph review is from None of Your Business, who actually has a review of the summer so far and says, "Summers were better when I was a boy. Skirts were shorter, girls were prettier, days were longer and ice cream cost a nickel. Summers today, you can keep them." Have you got a one-paragraph (or smaller) review you'd like to share? Send it in to me and I'll run the most interesting ones. You can reach me at feedback@qualitytimeweekly.com.