Still More Free Stuff!

Stick with me and you'll never have to pay for anything ever again*. In fact if you happened to put some money down on my Derby pick from last week, Barbaro, you should actually be financially ahead! This week I have a little something you can put together for your mommy for Mother's Day, a great short story by the incomparable Howard Waldrop, news about an exciting Rowland/King/Irving affair and other wonders just for you.

The Toymaker knows how much we love holidays and she would never let us down. She's made a lovely mother bunny you can print and make to give to your own mother as well as a heart note and a heart envelope. Now if your mother is like me you might want to make her something more like this, described on the index page just so: "Troubled by roving crowds of zombies? Finding it somewhat difficult to gather food and supplies without being torn to shreds by the undead masses? Ready to turn the situation around? Then perhaps what you need is a Battle-Hearse..." If one of my children gave me my very own Battle-Hearse (complete with circular saw blades and a fire extinguisher) for Mother's Day I would be the happiest mother ever. If you want something a little more traditional and don't mind if the instructions aren't in English, check out this extremely cool cactus. It won't fade like flowers, you never have to water it and your mom can't prick her fingers on it. It's a win-win gift!

Howard Waldrop is a wonderful writer. If he were as famous as he deserves to be he might be famous for telling poignant stories about loss. But then again he might be famous for writing hilarious stories that make you think. Or for writing luxuriously detailed alternate history stories. Or quite possibly for not writing down to an audience, using words you might need to look up in the dictionary or cultural references that you need to research. He is after all the one who said "I think you people should have to do between 40 and 50 percent of the work when you read a story." Howard wrote a story called The King of Where-I-Go that ran at in December of 2005; a story so good it is up for the Hugo award. You can read the story for free here. It starts off with a fight between siblings, is followed by a case of polio and continues on to some paranormal experiments at a lab. It made me cry, although I freely admit lots of things make me cry.

In the not free, but wow, that sounds like a good time arena, we have something called An Evening With Harry, Carrie & Garp, which is essentially a fundraising night of authors J.K. Rowling, Stephen King and John Irving reading from selected works. As I am sure anyone who hasn't lived in a closet, in the back of cave, in the middle of a sealed off labyrinth knows, J.K. Rowling is the author of the Harry Potter books, Stephen King is the writer behind all scary books not written by Dean Koontz and John Irving is the man who brought us the World According to Garp and Widow for One Year. But wait; there will also be surprise guests. With this trio that could mean just about anything, a zombie, a wizard, a bear; anything goes. The reading is taking place at Radio City Music Hall and will include a question and answer session. This will be Ms. Rowling's first time reading in front of an American audience since 2000 so I am quite sure tickets will go extremely quickly. The readings are in August but tickets go on sale today at ten am, through Ticketmaster.

The most unusual answer to last week's question of the week (who are the Godolphin Arabian, the Darley Arabian and the Byerly Turk?) came in from a reader who wished to remain anonymous who asked if those are the Three Stooges' horses. While certainly an intriguing notion it's not quite accurate. They are the foundation sires of modern day Thoroughbreds; meaning that all Thoroughbreds directly descend from one of these stallions. Marguerite Henry wrote a romanticized but entertaining book about the Godolphin Arabian called King of the Wind that is still enjoyed by horse-crazy children.

This week's question is: which Howard Waldrop story is about dodos? You can email your answers to me at

*Regular and perceptive readers are no doubt aware that this is a particularly sordid bit of hyperbole; after all we've explored custom-built tree houses and Faberge eggs in this column, but will also forgive me because I have indeed pointed you to a number of free and interesting entertainment related items.