And the Winner Is…!

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Yes, we have a comment contest winner! Byron the Quokka kept tugging on my pants-leg to tell me: “And the winner, posting Comment No. 44,000, is Phoebe!” (That’s his cousin, Eliza Williams, in the background. She is the only quokka with a surname.)

Phoebe, you have won an autographed copy of The Temptation (Bell Mountain No. 11), so please email me your mailing address so I can send it out. Byron wants to hand-deliver it, but I had to tell him no, that’s not on–first I’d have to fly him to New Jersey from Australia. We will just have to rely on the U.S. Postal Service.

Shoot! The contest is over. I was enjoying it. Well, we’ll just have to start a new one. Does 47,000 comments sound unreasonable? That’ll give me time to think of a really gaudy prize for No. 50,000.

To all of you who’ve played, thank you, it was fun, and we’ll do it again.

P.S.–Going down the stretch, this contest was very, very close! So if you were one of those readers who just missed, you’ll get a chance to try again.


Countdown to a Contest Winner (plus Byron’s Baby Picture)

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Byron the Quokka is so excited about the impending climax of our comment contest, he has trotted out his baby pictures. That’s him in the pouch. His mother is very proud of him for growing up to be the kind of quokka who can run a comment contest. It turns out quokkas are very found of comment contests and always seem to have one going among themselves.

Anyway, Byron predicts that we’ll have a winner today, before suppertime–so I’d better keep my eyes peeled. It was 87 degrees here yesterday, and now today it’s in the 40s again, so I don’t feel like I’d be much good for anything more challenging than waiting for someone to win the comment contest.

As Byron never tires of saying, “It could be you!”


The Wit and Wisdom of Wytt (‘The Palace’)

https://www.bing.com/th?id=OIP.5HdKsbdTDpaS9Ah57CMBxAAAAA&w=162&h=244&c=7&o=5&dpr=1.25&pid=1.7

(That’s Wytt in the upper right-hand corner, encouraging Jack to climb the wall.)

Our friend “Weavingword” has requested an excerpt demonstrating Wytt’s courage. No bigger than a squirrel himself, he backs down for no one–not even for this gigantic killer bird that wants to make a meal of Martis, who lies unconscious and defenseless. We take up the scene on Page 60 of The Palace:

“The great bird was annoyed.

“A ridiculously tiny red-haired creature was harassing her so that she couldn’t dine in peace. Indeed, she had yet to begin her meal. There lay the man, half-dead, just waiting to be devoured–and this little nuisance screeched and jabbered at her, dancing all around and trying to threaten her with a tiny twig.

“She darted her head and snapped at it, but her jaws came together with only a loud ‘clack!’ to show for it. She was more than annoyed; now she was positively furious

“‘Parasite! Carrion eater! Big clumsy lizard! I empty my glands in your direction!'”

“Wytt’s insults meant nothing to the bird, although they were among the most offensive known to the Omah. But his shrill cries went right to the bone, and now nothing would satisfy the bird but to crush this little hairy pest in her beak. She forgot the meal in front of her. Hissing like a serpent, she chased Wytt, striking at him again and again but always missing. The more often she missed, the greater burned her rage…”

(At this point thirteen armed men ride up on horseback, and the bird is compelled to retreat.)

Wytt’s armament consists of a little stick sharpened by his teeth, and bushels of self-confidence. You just can’t keep him down.

Anyone can request an excerpt from any of my books. Just remember to give me the title, the page number, and a clear idea of what it is that you want me to excerpt.

 


Mr. Nature: The Amazing Colossal Giant Centipede

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Imagine a centipede that’s six feet long, maybe a little longer, and weighs a hundred pounds, and maybe more. Yipes!

Jambo, Mr. Nature here–and today our safari takes us to a tropical forest in what is now somewhere in, I guess, Oklahoma: a lot has changed since then. And there are these things crawling around through the ferns… Not really centipedes; but probably, if you saw one, you would cry out, “Eeyah! A giant centipede!”

Be of good cheer: “fossil material suggests it may have been herbivorous,” scientists have said. Uh, what if the suggestion is wrong? Not to worry–no one has seen a live Arthropleura in donkey’s years.

Why, once upon a time, were bugs so big? Some scientists believe there was more oxygen in the air than there is now. Let me point out that, where fossils of these giant bugs are found, we don’t find the fossils of gigantic birds, chameleons, or anteaters. Anyway, who knows? It’s God’s planet and He has done as He pleased, without explaining it to us. But He’s certainly left enough hints to keep us busy.

I guess the closest I’ll ever come to Arthropleura is the “giant millipede,” eight inches long, that they had in one of our local pet stores and which they let me handle: millipedes don’t bite. It was a gentle little soul, although its feet tickled. Maybe Arthropleura was peaceful and benign.

All I know is, it would take my breath away, to see one.


‘Another Morning in the Doctor’s Waiting Room’ (2014)

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I’ll bet you’d be shocked, if you could add up the hours you’ve spent in various waiting rooms, and could see the total for your life so far.

Waiting rooms used to be bad enough when there were only old magazines and other patients to look at. Now they’ve all got TV. And there’s nothing on.

https://leeduigon.com/2014/06/09/another-morning-in-the-doctors-waiting-room/

I recall one morning TV talk show, hosted by and featuring celebrities I never heard of, in which the guest simply didn’t turn up and they were stuck with dead air: the host went out to the parking lot to see if the guest was wandering around out there, maybe hoping to find usable cigarette butts. Maybe the guest couldn’t figure out how to use the door.

And the magazines are no better than they were 50 years ago. The ads are more prurient, but the content’s just as dull as ever.

Why does your dentist want you to watch the new Let’s Make a Deal?

Think about that.

 

 


‘Morning Has Broken’

I never knew, until recently, that Morning Has Broken is a hymn–and quite a lovely hymn, at that. Here it’s sung by Orla Fallon. Don’t be surprised if it sticks with you all day.


Joie de Vivre, Baby Goat-Style

Baby goats never just walk anywhere, do they? Always running, jumping, and cavorting. I have always wanted to cavort, but never learned how.

As for the goat with the backyard trampoline–well, that’s a natural.


Comment Contest: Only 50 Left to Go!

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Byron the Quokka has found another bicycle which he wants to offer as the prize to whoever wins our current comment contest. Sorry, Byron, it’s not our bike to give away. The best we can do for a prize is an autographed copy of my new book, The Temptation.

At the moment we have 43,950 comments–just 50 shy of 44,000, just 50 shy of a winner.

The contest is open to everyone, and all comments are eligible except for the following: any comments abusive to anyone else on this site; comments containing profanity or blasphemy; commercials thinly disguised as comments (shame on you!); and comments that are just too inane to be published. Other than that, anything goes.

I’ve got to hand it to Byron: he’s done a good job of running this contest. Who knew quokkas could be such capable administrators? But I don’t think he understands how expensive it would be for me to be giving away bicycles. Money does not loom large in any quokka’s way of life.


By Request, Helki and the Killer Bird (‘Bell Mountain’)

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This is what he saw–taller than a man, and able to kill a horse with one bite.

Heidi has asked for another excerpt from Bell Mountain, this one featuring one of her favorite characters, Helki the Rod, and one of those giant birds that has lately wandered into Obann. We pick up the scene on Page 197.

“Helki, too, spent the night on the plain; and Helki, too, saw a giant bird.

“It stalked right past him, and looked right at him, and opened its massive beak halfway, as if to warn him not to move. Helki stood his ground, returning the bird’s look. He thought that if he had to, he could break the bird’s leg with his staff. But he very much hoped he wouldn’t have to.

“The bird made no move in his direction. Whatever it was hunting, it wasn’t him. He watched until it strode out of sight.

“Only then did he become aware that he was trembling from head to toe. He threw his staff in the air and caught it, and yowled at the top of his lungs.

“‘Whee-aaaah!’ The whole night rang with it. ‘Lord God, you have outdone yourself!'”

“It wasn’t much of a prayer, but that was how Obst had taught him to pray and that was how he did it….”

Anyone can ask for an excerpt from any book in the Bell Mountain series. There are now 11 titles in print, and Book No. 12, His Mercy Endureth Forever, is being edited. Just make sure you give me the right page number and a brief description of what you’d like me to post as an excerpt.

 


The Mystery of Spontaneous Human Combustion

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There are pictures available for Spontaneous Human Combustion, but I’d rather not post them here. Readers might find them too upsetting.

In Charles Dickens’ novel, Bleak House, one of the characters, for no apparent reason, bursts into flame and is almost totally consumed–without setting fire to his room. Dickens based the incident on a real case, in Italy, that was reported in 1731.

“Spontaneous human combustion” is a mystery, it doesn’t happen often enough to generate a theory, there is no accepted explanation of it. Somehow, a human being catches fire–“from the inside out,” it often seems to police investigators–and although fantastically high temperatures must be achieved, to reduce human flesh and bone to ashes, usually the person’s surroundings–typically a bed or a chair–survive in reasonably good condition. Sometimes even clothes survive. Sometimes the victim’s legs and lap remain, with everything above the waist totally consumed. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spontaneous_human_combustion)

Two recent cases:

In 2010, in Ireland, a man burned to ashes indoors. The coroner found “no adequate explanation” for this and conceded it to be Spontaneous Human Combustion.

In 2017, in London, a man burst into flame while walking down the sidewalk. Passersby put out the fire, but he died the next day in the hospital. In the coroner’s view the fire was “an accident” probably caused by the victim trying to light a cigarette as he walked–although most people would surely pause while they did that.

SHC is often, but not always, linked to habitual consumption of lots of alcoholic beverages.

But in truth, we have no explanation for it.


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