Hi, Guy! Thanks for Challenger! Cool cover, made me laugh.
First, please convey to Rosy my condolences on the passing of her brother. I suffered a huge shock when I lost a parent, I can't imagine losing a sibling. The poem you inscribed into the memory book is Requiem, by Robert Louis Stevenson, and it's one of my favourites. The final lines were indeed engraved on his tomb in Samoa.
Re "The Story of Edgar Allen Crow" --what a great name for a pet crow! And how wonderful that he lived to the ripe old age of 28. We don't have fish crows here, I had never heard of the species before, but lots of their cousins inhabit the area. I once saw an astonishing number of crows, at least a dozen, in a neighbour's maple tree and learned why a group of crows is called a murder. Glad I wasn't trying to sleep through the ruckus. I'm not superstitious, but it was sort of spooky.
Sports -- I was always a bookworm, and not much into physical exercise. When I wasn't reading, I was listening to music. Or eating, another reason I wasn't keen on sports. I had some interest in hockey, being Canadian after all! but gradually lost interest in watching it as the league expanded beyond the stage where I could recognize all the players, and then the fighting really turned me off completely. Our international woman's team is doing well, though. I wish I had seen the game against Finland, but I was doing some running around that afternoon. I got hooked on football (soccer, that is) years ago during the time of the NASL when the Manic played in Montreal. Then I got my husband hooked on the sport, and now he lives and breathes soccer to the point of watching every single EPL match, all the Champion's League matches, Euro Cup -- well, you get the picture. Just as Rich Lynch discovered the all-baseball TV channel, we discovered the all-soccer (and sometimes rugby) channel.
In "Cover Judgment", James Bacon describes Foyle's Bookstore. I was there in '05, having extended my Glasgow WC holiday to include a week in London. I'm so jealous of Londoners, they have all the best shops! Foyle's had some of the most delightful books for kids, too, and if I hadn't already retired from teaching, I would have been shipping crates of books home. But returning to book covers, I have bought books based on covers. One of them was Game of Thrones by George RR Martin. Great-looking guy on a black horse, black crow, white snow, huge wolf, burning fortress... I wanted the picture, but found the book was one of the best I had read in many years and became a devoted GRRM fan. Covers are important to me. Have you noticed how boring cover art is becoming these days? At a convention panel, I asked why this was, and was told publishers want to make covers less overtly SFF to attract a wider audience. Even the GRRM covers have become mundane, though still done by Stephen Youll, one of my favourite artists.
Fascinating article from Gregory Benford. I note that it dates back to 1998. I think some things have gotten worse since then, and it's not just the covers. I find that novels, whether SF or fantasy, tend more and more to fall into either utopian or dystopian world views, and I dislike both extremes. Neither magic swords nor very big spaceships can be counted on to save humanity, and why would I want to spend my time reading about cruelty and ugliness? I resent the amount of space bookstores "waste" on media tie-ins, too. I have read a few good ones, but had to go through a lot of drivel to find them, so I don't read them anymore.
Being very involved in running a con and publishing a clubzine, I am always interested in articles like Warren Buff's "Against the Graying of Fandom". In my experience, I have to agree with Warren that there are young fans, they are attending cons though the grey-headed lot aren't much interested in those cons, and they are indeed starting their own conventions. In fact, every time I get good people on my concom, they take off to start their own, and I'm back to pleading for volunteers. It's not so good for me, but it's good for fandom in Montreal. We are now several cons richer than we were a few years back. The kids are OK, they just have different priorities.
I dream of visiting Italy, especially Florence and Venice, but good gelato is available in Montreal if you know where to look. We have a huge Italian population. Just Google for Gelato in Montreal.