Fitzwilliam Fantasy Faire

So there you are, wondering what to do, where to go, on an October morning. Specifically, October 5th, 2019. Why not come to the Fitzwilliam Fantasy Faire?  It’s Fair!  It’s Fantastic!  It’s in Fitzwilliam!(NH).  And, I’ll be there doing magic.  Come up to me, say, “Amaze me!” and I’ll do my best.

9:00 am – 3:00 pm


Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire


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Vaudeville Again!

It;s VaudevilleI’ll be doing my vaudeville thing at Newport, NH a week from Saturday, at 7:00 pm.   My turn is a recreation of a vaudeville magic act as might have been seen back in 1921, using the same patter, the same tricks, done by the same methods, as they were a century ago.  The place is the Newport Opera House.  So come on, see the show, and applaud wildly!

Vaudeville show coming to Newport


$10 in advance, $15 at the door.

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Read the Book!

Free download, in accessible, searchable Epub format, with live links to 740+ original documents: the Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election (“The Mueller Report”).

Read it.  Really.  It’s important.


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This Weekend

The Conjuror by Hieronymus BoschI’m doing the Maine RenFaire.  As always, if you come up to me and say “Amaze me!” I will do my level best.

550 ME-109 in Acton, Maine.  Saturday and Sunday July 27/28, 10:00am-5:00 pm.  Be there or don’t be there (that is the question).  Oh, yeah, and please don’t think of the Ace of Spades.  Everyone thinks of the Ace of Spades.



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Ian Randal Strock’s Fantastic Books has contracted with James D. Macdonald, Judith K. Dial, and Tom Easton for an anthology of 40 short horror stories to be called



We will open for submissions on August 8, 2019. Submissions will close September 15, 2019.  Proposed publication date is early 2020, in all the usual paper and electronic formats.

We’re looking for reprints.  Previously published where the rights have reverted to the author.   500-2000 words.  Pay is $20 flat fee for non-exclusive reprint rights.  The stories should NOT involve bathroom horror.

Send submissions (and questions) to Tom at

The book will join SCIENCE FICTION FOR THE THRONE and FANTASY FOR THE THRONE on Ian’s dealer table at numerous conventions (as well as on his website at and on Amazon etc.). With luck, everyone will decide they just have to have the whole set.

Buy one.  Better still, buy a dozen.  They make excellent gifts.



Q. What do you mean by “horror”?

A:  Something that scares me.

Q. What rights do you take?

A. Non-exclusive reprint rights.

Q. I’m a big name author.  What’s my pay going to be?

A. Twenty bucks.

Q. My story won an award!  What’s the rate?

A.  Twenty bucks, flat fee.

Q. What’s the royalty rate?

A.  Flat fee.

Q. I have a super-scary drabble!  Can I send it in?

A.  Is it at least 500 words?  If so, yes.

Q. I have an original story!  Can I submit it?

A. I suppose so, but it’s still a flat twenty bucks, and you’ll only be able to sell it as a reprint afterward.  Are you really sure you want to do this?

Q. My novel excerpt is 5,000 words!  Will you look at it?

A. Yes, after you’ve cut 3,000 words.

Q. I don’t write horror, but I have a really funny Little Baby Bunny story.  Want to look at it?

A. Maybe for the Baby Animals for the Throne anthology (not yet scheduled).

Q. I have a 1500 word previously published really scary horror story that, unfortunately, consists entirely of bathroom humor.  Can I send “It Came From Beneath the Loo” for your consideration?

A. If you must, but be aware that it’ll had better be super scary and totally brilliant and utterly unique and all those other literary vitamins and minerals if you expect it to crawl its way up the sewer pipe.

Q. I don’t have a short horror story that fits your requirements, but I’m a big name author and I want to write a blurb for the back of the book telling everyone how much I loved it and how they should buy it.  Can we talk?

A.  Yes.  Professor Tom wants to hear from you.

Q. Can I tell all my writer friends about this anthology?

A. Yes.  If you don’t have friends make some friends just so you can tell them.

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Storyteller in Vernon Hills, Il

Meg Macdonald, Story Teller

Stories Old and New with Meg Macdonald, Friday, June 21st, 11:00 AM at Barbara’s Bookstore, Hawthorne Mall, Vernon Hills Il. Admission: free.

Be there, or have to explain to your children and grandchildren (in addition to an entire chapter in your autobiography that you’d really rather not have) why you weren’t.


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Vermont Ren Faire

Jim Macdonald, magician

Be there, or be square!

The 2019 Vermont Renaissance Faire will be held in Stowe, VT, on June 22nd and 23rd.

I’ll be doing magic on the Merchant’s Stage at 3:00 pm each day, plus walking around the fair grounds for the rest of the fair.

Come, meet my friends.  Come up to me and say, “Amaze me!” and I’ll do my best.

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The Board Having Maturely Considered These Facts….

We left the site of  Major André’s hanging and temporary grave, to journey … to lunch!

André’s self-portrait, the night before his hanging.

We went to the Old ’76 House (110 Main St, Tappan, NY 10983 (41°01’18.3″N 73°56’52.6″W (41.021752, -73.947940)), a half-mile away, which was the place where Major André had been held during his trial. Reputedly the Old ’76 House is the oldest continuously-operated dining facility in America.


The  historical marker says: “76 House” Where Major John André, British spy, plotter with Arnold, to deliver West Point, was confined before his execution.

Washington’s Headquarters, Tappan, NY. Corner of Oak Tree Road and Livingston Street.

Back in 1780 it was called Mabie’s Tavern, and was convenient to Washington’s headquarters in the DeWint House under a mile away and to the Reformed Church of Tappan just across the street where André’s trial was held.

The dining room is decorated in Colonial style, with various firearms and swords hung from the walls. There are no less than two portraits of Major André visible; an oil showing him in his scarlet regimentals with green facings, and a charcoal showing him wearing a cocked hat (in the style later associated with Napoleon).

Reformed Church of Tappan. This building dates to 55 years after André’s trial.

Tavern Fish And Chips, yum!

It being a Friday in Lent, I had the Tavern Fish and Chips, while Doyle had the Caesar Salad. The food has apparently improved a good deal since the major was held captive there: back in 1780 General Washington send food from his own table (prepared by Samuel Fraunces of Fraunces’ Tavern) to Major André, to ensure that the latter was eating right.

While Major André was held at Mabie’s Tavern, his trial was held just up the road and across the street at the Reformed Church of Tappan. His court martial board consisted of:

Major General Greene, President
Major General Lord Stirling
Major General St. Clair
Major General The Marquis de la Fayette
Major General Howe
Major General The Baron de Steuben
Brigadier General Parsons
Brigadier General Clinton
Brigadier General Knox
Brigadier General Glover
Brigadier General Patterson
Brigadier General Hand
Brigadier General Huntington
Brigadier General Stark
John Lawrence, Judge-Advocate General


Those who are interested in the trial might wish to read Proceedings of a board of general officers respecting Major John André. The major represented himself in the legal proceedings and was perfectly frank in his disclosures. Perhaps a bit too frank: he volunteered information that the Continentals would have had a terrible time proving. Not that Clarence Darrow, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., and Daniel Webster combined arguing his case would have helped a whole lot. He genuinely had gone behind American lines, in disguise, under a false name, and was carrying incredibly incriminating papers. As Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Hamilton said, “Never perhaps did any man suffer death with more justice, or deserve it less.”

Despite offers by the Continentals to trade André for Arnold (by Hamilton among others), General Sir Henry Clinton couldn’t make the deal, not if he ever wanted to see another high-level defector again. Of Major André, Baron von Steuben wrote, “It is not possible to save him. He put us to no proof, but in an open, manly manner, confessed everything but a premeditated desire to deceive. Would to God the wretch who drew him to death could have suffered in his place.” The Marquis de Lafayette said, “All the court … were filled with sentiments of admiration and compassion for him. He behaved with so much frankness, courage and delicacy that I could not help lamenting his unhappy fate. This was one of the most painful duties I ever had to perform,” and wept openly at André’s hanging.

Despite their personal feelings, the court-martial found:

The Board having maturely considered these facts, DO ALSO REPORT to His Excellency General Washington, That Major André, Adjutant General to the British army, ought to be considered as a Spy from the enemy, and that agreeable to the law and usage of nations, it is their opinion, he ought to suffer death.

General Washington affirmed the sentence, pocket vetoed the major’s request for a firing squad, and so the matter concluded.

With lunch finished, we made our way up to King’s Ferry, where Major André crossed the Hudson on the night of September 22nd, 1780, as he attempted to make his way (in civilian clothes, under an assumed name, and with the plans to West Point in his boot)  back to the British lines at New-York.

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More Unfortunate Than Criminal…

The Unfortunate Death of Major André

Now Arnold to New York has gone,
A-fighting for his King,
And left poor Major André
On the gallows for to swing.

From the place where Major André came ashore to the place where he was hanged is just 22 minutes on modern roads by modern car.  It actually took the major longer than that, but he took a more circuitous route and had other adventures on the way.

We drove south from Haverstraw to Tappan, New York.  The site of Major André’s hanging was on a hilltop,  a half-mile behind the tavern where he had been kept prisoner.  The sky was grey and starting to spit rain, a suitably gloomy circumstance for the visit.

Major André was hanged at 12 noon on Monday, the 2nd of October, 1780.  When it was clear that the sentence of his court-martial was death, he had only one request: that he be shot by firing squad, rather than hanged.  He wrote to General Washington:

Tappan, Oct.1, 1780


Bouy’d above the terror of death, by the consciousness of a life devoted to honourable pursuits, and stained with no action that can give me remorse, I trust that the request I make to your Excellency at this serious period,  and which is to soften my last moments, will not be rejected.

Sympathy towards a soldier will surely induce your Excellency and a military tribunal to adopt the mode of my death to the feelings of a man of honour.

Let me hope, Sir, that if ought in my character impresses you with esteem towards me, if ought in my misfortunes marks me as the victim of policy and not of resentment, I shall experience the operation of these feeling in your breast, by being informed that I am not to die on a gibbet.

I have the honour to be, your Excellency’s
Most obedient and most humble servant,
Adj. Gen. of the British army

Monument on the site of Major Andrés hanging

The place of Major André’s execution and burial is marked today by a truncated obelisk of black granite surrounded by an iron fence.  41°1′17″N 73°57′17″W (41.021389, -73.954722).  The street address is 42 Andre Hill Drive, Tappan, NY.


The West (Front) side of the monument

On the west face of the monument you can read these words:

Here died October 2, 1780,
MAJOR JOHN ANDRE of the British Army
Who entering the American lines
On a secret mission to Benedict Arnold
for the surrender of West Point
was taken prisoner, tried, and condemned as a spy.
His death
though according to the stern code of war
moved even his enemies to pity
and both armies mourned the fate
of one so young and so brave.
In 1821 his remains were removed to Westminster Abbey.
A hundred years after his execution
this stone was placed above the spot where he lay
by a citizen of the states against which he fought
not to perpetuate the record of strife
but in token of those better feelings
which have since united two nations
one in race, in language and in religion,
with the earnest hope that this friendly union
will never be broken.

Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, Dean of Westminster


The Right (south) side of the monument

The south face has the Latin motto:

sunt lacrimae rerum et mentem mortalia tangunt

— Virgil Aeneid 1. 462

A common quote on military monuments,  Fagles (in the Penguin edition of the Aeneid)  translates this out to “the world is a world of tears and the burdens of mortality touch the heart.”  Note on the ground the remains of a bouquet, bound with a ribbon imprinted with the Union Jack.

The left (north) face of the monument

The north face has the words:

“He was more unfortunate than criminal, an accomplished man and a gallant officer.”
— George Washington

The back (east) side of the monument

On the back, the east side, there’s a plaque:

This property
acquired November 13 1905 by
the American Scenic and Historic
Preservation Society
preserves the identity of
a place of historic interest
and commemorates the fortitude
of Washington and his generals
in one of the crises of the
American Revolution

Back here there was a cellophane wrapper such as those in which bouquets are commonly sold, but the flowers had long since decayed to a black mush.

As noted, Major André’s bones were returned to England in 1821.  His sarcophagus in Westminster Abbey is far more sumptuous than this bleak monument on a hilltop in Tappan:

 It consists of a sarcophagus with the figure of a mourning Britannia (the female personification of Britain) and a sad-looking lion on top. A relief on the front shows Washington receiving Andre’s petition for death by firing squad, while Andre is led off for execution. A woman sits under a tree wringing her hands in sorrow.

Major André, himself, met his death bravely.  He placed the noose around his own neck and tied the blindfold around his own eyes.  He was left hanging for half-an-hour before being cut down, and the witnesses filed past him.  He died badly — his face had turned black, which tells me that he strangled rather than dying at once of a broken neck.

Having observed the site of Major André’s execution and first burial, we then headed off to see the places where he had been kept prisoner, and where he had been tried (with a side-trip to Washington’s headquarters).



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Meanwhile, in Chicago ….

Music Institute Chorale Concert 
Come Rain or Come Shine
A Celebration of the Joys of Nature
Featuring special guest Raúl Fernández, percussion
Sunday June 9 2019, 3:00 PM
Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston
847.905.1500 or
Ticket Cost:  
$15 adults; $10 seniors; $7 students
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