Monthly Archives: October 2013

Scary Halloween Visitors

(posted Oct. 28, 2013)

Twelve years ago, as Halloween approached, I asked readers of what was then The Globe and Mail’s Challenge column to suggest scary Halloween costumes. Forget the monsters and ghouls, I said. Which Halloween visitors would really send a chill up the spine?
As Halloween 2013 approaches, it seems prudent to alert readers anew to these alarming possibilities. The authors’ names appear after their contributions.
Beware, then:

The hostess who, when you compliment her on the roast chicken, tells you she’s pleased you are enjoying it, since she was worried that leaving it out on the counter for two whole days might have spoiled it. (Brenda Weide)
Your daughter’s new boyfriend, who says that usually only his business associates call him “Mad Dog,” but you can too since he is dating your daughter. (Jerry Kitich)
The police officer who calls to say they found your wallet in the strip club and returned it to your wife. (Eric Mendelsohn)
Your Doberman, carrying a policeman’s cap in his mouth. (Colin Eyssen)
Your five-year-old, telling you she has sent her teacher a present of baby powder in an envelope. (ditto)
The young lad who brings you greetings from the lady you met at a convention 10 years ago, and who finishes by calling you “Dad.” (Charles Crockford)
The young man who appears at your door holding a chainsaw, says he is selling firewood, and, when asked where the wood is from, says, “Do you remember the 100-year-old maple you used to have in your back yard?” (ditto)
The young surgeon who, just as you feel the anesthetic taking over, lets slip that this is his first unassisted vasectomy. (R. Bryce)
The bagpipe player who comes to your house party, with his instrument. (Gordon Findlay)
The guest at your dinner party who insists you serve the wine he brought that he makes in his basement. (Alanna Little)
The host who invites you to dinner and then announces that he has a new recipe for squid and groundhog that he’s just dying to try out on someone. (Peter Marucci)
Your spouse’s parents, who, while maintaining that their stay will be a short one, are somewhat concerned that their new house will not be completed before winter arrives. (Robert Duffy)
And a happy boo to you, too.

Similar Challenge contests have formed the basis for Gulliver’s Day Trip (humour about books, book titles and reimagined plots) and If Famous Authors Wrote Nursery Rhymes, both from Nestlings Press (

What do fictional characters do when their books end?

When Warren Clements edited the book Gulliver’s Day Trip, mined from the Challenge column that used to appear in The Globe and Mail, a number of chapters had to be cut for space.

Here is one of them. Canadians were asked to briefly describe the subsequent adventures of a fictional character after his or her fictitious career ends. The entrants’ names are in brackets after their entries.

Shortly after she married Mr. Rochester, Jane Eyre remodelled the attic and let it out to a quiet, non-smoking gentleman.

After her return from Wonderland, Alice voluntarily checked herself into rehab.

Returning from Jupiter, Hal 9000 took a job as a scanner in a supermarket.

(Paul Davy)

Wanted: Hand-knitters for co-operative workshop. We specialize in open-necked sweaters and tricolour tuques. Apply M. Defarge.

(Marjorie Barton)

In his reclining years, Sherlock Holmes lived in an old folks’ home, where he was often called upon to solve The Case of the Missing Spectacles.

(C.H. Vane-Hunt)

Once married, Cinderella and the Prince went into the mail-order designer glass-slipper business and lost a fortune through losses caused by breakage in transit.

(Glen Acorn)

Urged on by mehitabel, archie left on a world trip determined to hit the capitals he’d never managed to reach before.

The Man in the Iron Mask joined the wrestling circuit, where his head-butt proved unstoppable.

(Gordon Findlay)

Prince Valiant started believing his own press and changed his name to Prince.

(Bonnie Green)

Hansel and Gretel won their case against the Witch for unlawful confinement and opened a candy store with the settlement.

(Brenda Weide)

Old film footage, unearthed in a PEI cellar, revealed a mysterious side to Anne Shirley’s career. In 1922, she starred in a silent adult film (never released) called Behind the Green Gables.

(Tim Chamberlain)

Humpty Dumpty pulled himself together and now speaks out against egg-beaters.

(Ron Charach)

Tintin retired to North America and ended up in a dog costume as the Fabulous Rin Tintin.

(Brian Yamashita)

Bilbo Baggins got a job packing groceries in a supermarket.

(Tom McGuirk)

Bigfoot moved to the south of France, where he found steady employment in the wine-making business.

(Barrie Collins)

Having had enough of being Holmes’s stooge, Dr. Watson sniffed out other, borderline avenues of providing cocaine.

(K.C. Angus)


Our Current Publications

Our first seven books are now available, designed by Kendra Martin and printed by Coach House Printing in Toronto. All are 120 pages, except Meet the Shakespeares, which is 168 pages, because, well, Shakespeare is Shakespeare. A Fine Line: The Caricatures of Anthony Jenkins and When Tom Met Alison: A Fisher Collection are 8 by 8 inches.

Distribution of the books is in its infancy, but copies are available in Toronto at Ben McNally Books, Book City (two of its locations) and other select stores. Copies of Meet the Shakespeares are available at TheatreBooks, at 101 Spadina Ave. half a block above King Street West. Copies of A Fine Line and When Tom Met Alison are available at The Beguiling Books & Art, 601 Markham Street, just south of Honest Ed’s.

Copies may be ordered by mail with a cheque – yes, cheque only at this point – sent to: Nestlings Press, 119 Spadina Ave., PO Box 252 TORONTO B, Toronto, ON M5T 2W1. For each copy of Bird Doggerel, The Charles Arthur Stories, Gulliver’s Day Trip, and If Famous Authors Wrote Nursery Rhymes, send $13.60. For each copy of Meet the Shakespeares, send $15.70. For each copy of A Fine Line: The Caricatures of Anthony Jenkins and When Tom Met Alison: A Fisher Collection, send $20.95. All prices include GST. Nestlings Press will pay the postage for books mailed to an address within Canada.

Welcome to the New Nestlings Press Blog

Welcome to the Nestlings Press Blog. Here we’ll be keeping you up to date on news and new publications, and reflecting on things in general. For instance, did you know that the song Hernando’s Hideaway (from the musical The Pajama Game) is about the only song to which you can easily sing the lyrics of Robert Frost’s poem Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening?

Please remember the Nestlings Press books at Christmas. They’ll make great gifts, and the chances are very, very good that the recipient won’t have found the books elsewhere. (That’s a distribution joke.)

Thanks, and stay tuned!

The World of Nestlings Press (so far)

It may seem folly to start a publishing house that specializes in print books at a time when the world is moving toward e-books and just-in-time publishing. Nestlings Press has done so in the belief that there are still people who like the tactile sensation of reading a real book, and will enjoy pulling such books off the shelves to read them over again.

The common thread of these books so far is humour, although we have one film-related book planned for the spring. There’s a book of comic strips: When Tom Met Alison, a collection of Philip Street’s Fisher, from the first half of the strip’s twenty-year run in The Globe and Mail. (We hope to issue a sequel.) There’s A Fine Line, a book of caricatures by Anthony Jenkins, one of the world’s best caricaturists. His work has graced The Globe and Mail for many years.

There are books of witty entries mined from The Challenge, which ran for a couple of decades in, yes, The Globe and Mail. People from across Canada would rise to the challenge when asked to erase a letter from a famous phrase and redefine the results, or to devise a happier ending for a classic novel. The results are in Gulliver’s Day Trip, a laugh-out-loud collection of literary humour. A related book, If Famous Authors Wrote Nursery Rhymes, imagines how Ernest Hemingway, Leonard Cohen, Jane Austen and others would have written Humpty Dumpty, Jack & Jill and other classic rhymes. Anthony Jenkins provided the illustrations, both for the parodies and for the original rhymes, which appear at the back of the book with occasional learned footnotes.

The press has published three other books, written by Warren Clements. The first, Bird Doggerel, is a painstakingly accurate (well, mostly) collection of light verse about different species of birds. It is illustrated with examples of Nestlings, a comic strip Clements wrote and drew for The Globe and Mail. The author will be reading from the book at the International Festival of Authors at Harbourfront in Toronto on Oct. 26 and Nov. 2, 2013.

The second book, The Charles Arthur Stories, is a “delightful” (says an astute reader unrelated to the author) collection of tales of an unprepossessing man “to whom things happen.” It is copiously illustrated by the author. Whether it is competently illustrated is for the reader to determine. (An astute reader who is related to the author says the drawings are fine.)

The third book, Meet the Shakespeares, collects the lyrics from twenty years of musical skits based on the plays of William Shakespeare. The songs are sometimes faithful, and sometimes amusingly heretical, but whatever the narrator says may be taken as gospel. It’s a fun and easy way to slide into the Bard’s masterpieces. Even better, the book is illustrated by Brian Gable, The Globe and Mail’s editorial cartoonist and a master of his craft.

We are working on a way to accept credit cards on the website, For the moment, business is by cheque only. But if you’re near Ben McNally Books in Toronto, which is worth visiting anyway (on Bay Street below Queen) because it’s an engaging and beautiful store, you will find all of Nestlings Press’s books in stock. Other stores are mentioned on the main page of the website.

And don’t forget to click on the cartoon on the website. It’s a 1 minute 16 second animated cartoon of one of the songs from Meet the Shakespeares. Hope you enjoy it!