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Volume 2080
The Annual Burroughs Bibliophiles International Convention
Dum Dum 2008 in Waterloo, Iowa
July 24 - 27, 2008
This yarn is so outlandish that it should not be counted or discounted, and possibly not even read, 
but here it is, another offering in the Tales too Ticklish to Tell series: 

Where Gather the Apes of Kerchak
Beer and Loathing on the Dum-Dum Trail
by David Critchfield

To prepare for the long drive from eastern Virginia to Waterloo, Iowa, I obtained the following supplies: Despite the above, all for me, I began to feel uneasy. Was this really enough beer for the 4-day round trip drive and several days of serious Dum-Dum foolishness?

In addition, I picked up the audio book of Chessmen of Mars to listen to on the drive. Tantor Media has the first five Mars books, the first six Tarzan books, and the first two Pellucidar books available in three different formats each. I now own all the Mars and of course the Pellucidar offerings and will start on Tarzan next. As the “library editions” are rather pricey, I’m taking my time on acquiring these.

John Bolen narrates the Mars books. At first, I was irritated by John Carter's southern accent but then it grew on me and seemed quite natural. However, I never could quite accept Dejah Thoris, the most beautiful woman on two planets, speaking with the voice of a man. Nevertheless, all the books have been quite enjoyable to listen to.

I planned to stop about halfway there, in Hamilton, Ohio to visit the Symmes Monument, which is, as every schoolboy knows, the memorial to hollow-earth theorist, Captain John Cleves Symmes, who advanced Sir Edmond Halley's concentric spheres theory, by being the first to suggest that there were holes at the poles. He even petitioned congress and raised money for a polar expedition (never happened) to prove it. I had called ahead to the Hamilton Visitor Center to ensure that I could see the monument. The kind lady there told me it was located in a bad section of town and that I should visit by day.

Severe thunderstorms were predicted for Tuesday. I may have to dip into that barley-wine sooner than expected, I reasoned, to hold the beast to the road at 80 mph through driving hail. Bring it!

I roared out of the garage in a haze of carbon monoxide at 8:20 am. Wild and unsupervised, I tasted the sweet nectar of freedom1. I popped in the first CD of Chessmen. By Covington, Virginia, 158 miles into the drive, I was on the third CD and Ghek the Kaldane was being sentenced to destruction. I was beginning to feel like a two-part person myself at that point, my rykor-like body listless, my kaldane brain commanding my arm to reach back into the beer cooler. Perhaps that night I would dream of giving that spoiled princess Tara of Helium a much-deserved spanking.

At 11:16, 228 miles into the trip, I passed into West Virginia. At 256 miles, I popped in CD #4. Tara, Ghek, and the panthan, Turan (actually Gahan of Gathol), were approaching the city of Manator. 341 miles and CD #5: Ghek was playing tricks on his jailors. I downed the second bottle of IPA. Was that a flock of two-headed thipdars headed my way?

At 2:33 and 354 total miles, I crossed into Ohio. Route 52 NW follows the Ohio River. Unlike the river Iss, I saw no one taking their final pilgrimage.

CD #6 began at 422 miles: in the pits with I-Gos. I grabbed another IPA, its incredible floral hop aroma seemed fitting for this trip. IPA is extra hoppy ale high in alcohol. It was originally made by 18th Century British brewers to survive the long sea journey to its colonies in India.

At 6:20, 508 miles into the trip, I rolled into Sharonville, Ohio, just north of Cincinnati, and only a brief drive to Hamilton and the Symmes Monument in the morning. I gave thanks to Ninkasi, the 3600 BC Sumerian goddess of beer, known as “the lady who fills the mouth,” for my safe arrival.

That night in the hotel room I finished reading The Long Tomorrow by Leigh Brackett. This, arguably her finest book, is a well-written and engaging narrative about a post-war America and two boys in search of reason.

At 6:30 I was up and on my way to Hamilton. I wanted to get in and out of Ludlow Park before I was mugged and sold into white slavery. Somehow I found a place to park. I grabbed my camera and walked the rest of the distance to the park, maintaining a careful watch, keeping always to the shadows, ready to take to the trees immediately. At the monument I turned on the camera; the batteries were dead! Back to the car I went and grabbed the spare set I had fortunately stashed in the camera bag. I hiked back to the park again, snapped several pictures, and fled in fear; drool flying from my mouth, eyes wide.

8:10 am and 548 total miles: I crossed into Indiana, again listening to Chessmen.

10:05 and 655 miles: popped in CD #8, the final disk. Tara and O-Tar, Jeddak of Manator, were about to be wed! Where the hell was Gahan?

I stopped for lunch and started reading Pursuit on Ganymede by Mike Resnick.

By 12:44 Central Time, I was circling Peoria, the city where Philip José Farmer2 lives.

The rest of the trip seemed a blur. At about 953 miles I crossed the mighty Mississippi into Iowa. Suddenly I awoke and found myself in the hotel bar surrounded by Muckers and Philippe. More beer was drunk as we discussed seemingly important topics such as Japanese Princesses, internet connectivity, and some concoction called Jungle Juice that J the V had consumed prior to arriving in Waterloo. I slyly changed the conversation to Mucker Jeopardy in an attempt to get Jim Hadac to disclose some of the answers; alas, I failed. Damn, I was going to have to play the game fair!

The next day I went for my morning unicycle ride, crossing the Cedar River on a pedestrian bridge. I saw Philippe taking a picture of the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center's scrolling marquee that read in large letters, “Welcome Tarzan Fans.”

My ride completed, I returned to the hotel room and applied a Tarzan tattoo, one of ten “safe, waterproof designs,” from Dover Publications. I had brought a bunch of these with me; sure to a hit at the Dum-Dum.

I won’t mention the results of the Mucker Jeopardy game, whoops too late. The team, “The Ohio Valley Old Farts, “ unsurprisingly older than last year, pulled off the win. My team, “The League of Extraordinary Idiots,” finished last with 0 points, having bet it all several times during the game. From first place last year to last place this year is too much to take, I may throw myself off the towers of Helium.

Jeff “Elmo” Long interviewed me for a Dateline Jasoom podcast. We chatted about my book, The Gilak's Guide to Pellucidar. I may be a better writer than speaker; I started out the interview stammering a little although this could have been because I had just finished talking to the Burroughs girls and was still light-headed. Elmo does a great job with these podcasts. Check them out.

The auction was held on Saturday, the benefits went to the Burroughs Bibliophiles. At my vendor table, I had the best seat in the house, right next to Linda Burroughs. She talked nonstop, laughing at everything; even pointing out at one point that Huck seemed to be nodding off. She noted with surprise that I was sipping beer from my Tarzan mug. She laughed and said her daughter, Jane, enjoyed beer a lot.

Sue-On Hillman joined us, and I moved over so the two ladies could chat. Shortly, I saw her husband Bill taking a picture of us.3 To mess with Bill, I leaned toward Sue-On to pretend to flirt with her. Apparently I leaned too far and my chair toppled over. By uncanny coincidence, Bill Ross had just held up a movie poster for At the Earth’s Core as the next auction item. He looked over to see if I was interested in bidding, and saw me falling. He laughed and told the auction audience that it was because I was excited over the Pellucidar item.

Sunday morning I skipped the group breakfast to get an early start for home. After about 100 miles of driving through countryside probably inhabited by The Children of the Corn, I noticed there was a McDonalds listed as “food next exit,” so I got off the interstate and ate. Back in the car, I looked for the Interstate 380 sign but couldn’t find it. I went up the ramp where it should have been but found that to be route 20. The interstate was nowhere! For a few minutes I was completely disoriented while I looked back and forth. I felt like Richard Gere in The Mothman Prophecies when he suddenly finds himself hundreds of miles off course in a strange town with no idea how he got there.  I expected at any time to be surrounded by one-eyed sorority girls from the planet Playtex. But enough of that, no doubt I had been traveling on Route 20 for quite a while, my attention distracted by that blasted audio book4 fellow Panthan John Thompson gave me to listen to on the way home after he failed to sell it (no surprise) from my table. I turned off the book so I could devote more attention to drinking.

 I stopped for the night in Toledo, Ohio, the very same city that ERB-lister Jon Hart told me he was stopping at on his way home to Pennsylvania. I suppose with a little coordination we could have met for some serious alcohol consumption and given away all our one-dollar bills at a hoochie-koo joint, but instead I hunkered down in the hotel room with the last bottle of barley-wine and finished reading Pursuit on Ganymede.

This 1968 book was an enjoyable read and reminded me of ERB's Barsoom in these ways:

Adam Thane, an Earthman, comes to an exotic planet. Here he has superman-like powers due to the lesser gravity. He is able to jump long distances and to great heights.
He is a master swordsman.
He wins a princess bride whose name is Delisse, a name similar to Dejah.
She’s captured, and he rescues her, she’s captured, and he…
The inhabitants of Ganymede play kartos, a game similar to chess and Martian jetan.
Thane learns to travel through the trees for greater speed. This last item is like Tarzan, not John Carter.
I enjoyed the book enough to now go seek out the first one of the series, Goddess of Ganymede.

I wasn't tired yet, and there were no in-room porno movies available so I opened a bottle of IPA and started James Rollins' Sandstorm. This is my fourth Rollins novel, the first being, of course, his deep-cave adventure Subterranean. In fact, Mucker Jim Hadac mentioned Subterranean to me earlier this week, knowing my love of things underground. I’ve given a quick review of this book somewhere else, I forget. Rollins' books remind me of Michael Crichton's. I remember my daughter trying to embarrass me in Borders when I bought one from the suspense/thriller aisle, speaking loudly, “Dad, what are you doing over there?” knowing I’m always in the sci-fi area. Thankfully, no one saw me. Whew.

If you're expecting some wrap-up summary of this voyage of the damned you’re wrong. Now I’m home and this article is done. If you haven’t watched my Dum-Dum video, check it out.

1. Someone else used this phrase first, I forget who.
2.  Later in the week, Henry Franke told me that he had considered leaving the Dum-Dum early since Famercon was on Saturday, however he didn’t think that the 90-year-old author would be in attendance.
3. The picture of the two Princesses and I was taken by Bill Hillman.
4.  Beverly Hills Dead by Stuart Woods and read by Tony Roberts
View all the Dum-Dum 2008 Features in ERBzine
ERBzine 2077
Dum-Dum Intro
ERBzine 2078
II: Photo Overview
ERBzine 2079
III: Huckster Room Photos
ERBzine 2080
IV: Critchfield Report
ERBzine 2311
V: Hadac Photo Gallery
ERBzine 2312
VI: Events Photos
ERBzine 2313
VII: BB Banquet Photos
ERBzine Weekly Webzine
The Fantastic Worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs
ERB Companion Sites Created by Bill Hillman
ERBzine Weekly Webzine
Danton Burroughs Website: Tarzana Treasure Vaults
Burroughs Bibliophiles
John Coleman Burroughs Tribute Site
Tarzine: Official Monthly Webzine of ERB, Inc.
John Carter of Mars
Edgar Rice Burroughs
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Danton Burroughs Weekly Webzine
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John Carter Film

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