Hilltoppers offer plenty of offense / ‘Testament of James’ is shipping

I suppose by now close observers have noticed the Great Swami’s crystal ball was clouded, a few weeks back, when it came to predicting the lineup for the inaugural Popeyes Bahamas Bowl, set to kick off at noon local time (closer to dawn, in civilized time zones) Wednesday, Dec. 24 at Tom Robinson National Stadium, somewhere in the Bermuda Triangle. I can only echo Rick Blaine, challenged on the claim he came to Casablanca for the waters: “I was misinformed.”

We had been unreliably informed the match-up would likely feature the Toledo Rockets (not the Mud Hens, that’s baseball) and the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders, but the Blue Raiders lost a final game to the mighty Florida International Panthers (who knew?) in late November, 38-28, slipping to 6-6. And there was no joy in Mudville, nor in Murfreesboro, neither. Goodbye bowl bids.

Things went the other way for the Rockets, who crushed Eastern Michigan 52-16 in the final game of their regular season. Suddenly Toledo was too hot a prospect to take the slow boat to Bermuda; they instead return to challenge Arkansas State of the Sun Belt Conference at another GoDaddy Bowl in Mobile, Alabama on Sunday evening, Jan. 4. The Arkansas State Red Wolves (hey, they’re all household names in this division), being the defending GoDaddy champions, are slightly favored.

As for the Bahamas rice-and-beans bowl, look for the 7-5 Central Michigan Chippewas to take on the 7-5 Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. (Should we call it the “Barely Made It Bowl”?)

The Chippewas’ problem is that summer transfer Thomas Rawls, who led the team with 1,103 yards and 10 touchdowns, averaging 122.6 yards per game despite missing three complete games, will sit out the post-season “due to an academic issue,” which presumably has nothing to do with those felony charges involving stolen credit cards. (He pleaded out to a misdemeanor.)

NCAA Football: Western Kentucky at Marshall

On the other hand, Hilltoppers fifth-year quarterback (and going for six!) Brandon Doughty leads the nation with 44 touchdown passes and 4,344 passing yards. He threw five or more touchdowns in each of four games this season.

So Kentucky has plenty of offense. But as to what the other 11 guys are supposed to do while the opponent has the ball, a desperate WKU defensive coordinator — if they have such a thing — must be reduced to whimpering, “Guys, couldn’t you at least get out on the field and stand in their way?

Western Kentucky defeated Marshall in their final game of the season — in football, not basketball — 67-66.

This one ain’t gonna end up 6-to-5, believe me.


Signed, numbered first editions of “The Testament of James” began shipping Dec. 16, on schedule. More than 70 of the limited hardcover edition of 650 are already out the door; signed copies numbered 80 to 100 still available at www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=14453647811 .

“The War on Drugs is older than you think.”

18 Comments to “Hilltoppers offer plenty of offense / ‘Testament of James’ is shipping”

  1. R. Hartman Says:

    Pity that shipping to Europe (Netherlands) is (vastly) more expensive than the book itself. Guess I’ll have to wait till it comes available at Amazon.co.uk, where I got my other Vin-books (Waco, Drega and the Arrow), and where purchased books are still being shippped from the US in some cases, at a fraction of the cost. Funny.

    Have a great Christmas and a happy and healthy 2015.

  2. Thomas Mitchell Says:

    Got mine.

    That read like an actual sports story. Was it?

  3. MamaLiberty Says:

    I received my book on Monday and it is possibly the most beautiful book I’ve ever seen! The binding and protective covers are very impressive. This is most definitely a “keeper” and I fully expect to have a complete “first edition” set in “new” condition for my descendants to covet. 🙂

  4. Vin Says:

    Hi, Mitch — Wish I were good enough to have invented the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, with a quarterback phenom who was just OKd by the NCAA to continue playing though his sixth year in Bowling Green. (In fairness, the school reports injuries sidelined him for parts of 2011 and 2012.) Though if I had, I wouldn’t know whether to call it “Horse Feathers” or “Trouble Along the Way.”

    And inventing a fried chicken bowl in the Bahamas? I’m not sure I could get that past the Lucy Flores Political Correctness Cadre if I weren’t free to invoke the Dave Barry Final Line of Defense: “You can look it up!”

    As to shipping rates on “The Testament of James,” we actually LOWERED our standard domestic rate from $4 to $3.75, this year. Internationally, ABE requires us to base our rates on the cost of shipping a book of 1 kilo (that’s 2.2 pounds, for those in Costa Mesa.) Our current standard (not “Priority”) international rate of $16 to Canada, $35 everywhere else, reflects increased air mail rates which took effect about a year ago (there are no longer any “surface rates” departing the U.S.), and the fact that we ship our books in sturdy cardboard boxes. We make no profit on shipping.

    On books of less than two pounds, we generally refund overages if the amount charged turns out to exceed the real cost by more than a buck or two. (Double-walled pasteboard boxes cost us about a dollar.) Today, I refunded $15 of our standard $35 charge to a buyer in Germany who ordered an 1889 Baedeker travel guide. It didn’t weigh a lot.

    We don’t yet have enough experience shipping “The Testament of James” overseas to know what actual charges will run. The book weighs about one pound before being bubble-wrapped and boxed.

    But as for waiting for “The Testament” to become available via Amazon, that might indeed happen with later editions (if any) in future years. It’s not likely to happen with this signed, limited, first.

    Why? ABE charges us fees and commissions of about $4.45 on the sale of a $32.50 book, allowing us to retain about $28.05 (which we share with the printer, book designer, etc.) Amazon charges us a commission of 55 percent, or $17.88 on a $32.50 book, allowing us to retain $14.62. We find the difference compelling.

    If Amazon can ship for substantially less from the U.S., I suspect it’s because they’re shoving books into white plastic “body bags,” and then qualifying for some form of “bulk discount.” Great for used or print-on-demand paperbacks. Being dealers primarily in fine and collectible books — which we inspect, describe, pack, and ship, one-at-a-time by hand — we continue to resist.

    For those who’d like to read “The Testament of James” for less, however, help is on the way. We expect to announce availability as a downloadable e-book — priced less than $10 — before the end of the year.

    — Vin

  5. Thomas Mitchell Says:

    Just finished “Testament.” I’m a slow reader.

    Did not in any shape, form, fantasy or hallucenation see that ending coming.

    Are you already working on the sequel?

  6. R. Hartman Says:


    Thanks for elaborating. I didn’t expect you to make profits on shipping, but Amazon has a funny pricing scheme indeed (and, as you indicate, not only where shipping is concerned). Anything ordered from the US, even used, has steep shipping, in the same order of magnitude you specify. But a used Waco (signed, by the way), ordered from the UK, was actually shipped from the US, according to the ordering info, but at UK shipping prices.

    I’d LOVE to have a signed hardcover, so what if I order under the current scheme and if shipping turns out to be more efficiënt, you do me a refund for the difference? Shame that the $35 delivery takes (up to over) a month, but $49 is really unaffordable, so I could live with that. An eBook just isn’t the same thing, and signing THAT could prove a challenge indeed.


  7. R. Hartman Says:

    Oh, what the heck. I just decided to treat myself to the most expensive (incl. shipping, that is) non-study book I ever purchased. I’ll trust you on the refund, if and when applicable. Didn’t want to risk it running out of stock ;-).

    And so the long wait (21-36 business days) begins…


  8. R. Hartman Says:

    Estimated Delivery Date: February 17, 2015.

  9. Vin Says:

    Hi, Rene — Overseas deliveries are quirky. Germans tend to get their books quickly; books sent to Italy and France can take even LONGER than estimated, as packages presumably lie around gathering dust in some Customs office, particularly in the summer months. You’ll have to let us know.

    Meantime, on that other topic, the Popeye’s Bowl did not disappoint — unless you’re a fan of defense. The Chippewas came roaring back, scoring 34 points in the fourth quarter, including a touchdown on a Hail Mary pass followed by a couple of laterals, and . . . LOST to the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, 49-48, on a failed two-point conversion.

    Brandon Doughty? 491 yards through the air. Most of it was in the first half, but it was enough.

    — Vin

  10. Carl "Bear" Bussjaeger Says:

    BTW, meant to say something about your Home On the Range article on Monckton. Well done,Vin.

    Thomas Mitchell: Yeah, I thought he was going somewhere else at first, too. A… very interesting surprise. And if you’ll take another look at the jacket flaps, you’ll some hints about the sequel (which I am awaiting with great anticipation). Miskatonic…

  11. MamaLiberty Says:

    YAY Carl! What an absolutely great job on the cover of Vin’s book. I’m really looking forward to the next one too… cover included. 🙂

  12. Carl "Bear" Bussjaeger Says:

    Thanks, Mama. I wondered if anyone would notice. [grin]

  13. Vin Says:

    We appreciate Mr. Hartman generously offering himself up as our international shipping “guinea pig” on Christmas Day, and were happy to be able to refund $12 of his $35 standard shipping fee on Dec. 27, based on actual cost.

    $23 still isn’t cheap, nor can we guarantee rates won’t be slightly higher to more remote destinations. But hopefully that gives us a working number for the current (actual) shipping cost of “Testament of James” to European destinations (in our sturdy cardboard boxes.) We will continue to put through partial refunds on amounts that exceed actual shipping by more than a dollar or so — ABE credits th0se directly back to the buyer’s credit card.

    Meantime, as comments or reviews of “TOJ”arrive, Cat will be posting or linking to them at http://www.testamentofjames.com (which in turn redirects to https://www.vinsuprynowicz.com/?page_id=2194 , at this site.)

    Happy New Year to all!

    (and yes, Carl’s dust jacket is proving, quite predictably, to be a substantial part of the early enthusiasm for this book.)

    — Vin

  14. R. Hartman Says:

    Hi Vin – A real nice surprise on the 3rd day of X-mas, and a nice birthday gift for the day after (that would be today) ;-). A $12 shipping refund notice in the mail, not really counted on and definitely not this quickly. Thanks!

    I’ll keep you posted on the actual delivery date.

  15. MamaLiberty Says:

    I want to read it again first, but where would be the best place (or places) to post, email or mail the finished review?

  16. Vin's Brunette Says:

    Happy birthday, R.!

    Mama, you (and anyone else) can email reviews, links, or comments to me — cat (at) vinsuprynowicz.com — I’ll post them (if appropriate) on our Testament of James page, or perhaps as blog entries. Kindly reference ToJ in the subject line.

    Mitch, Vin is indeed hard at work on the sequel. Of course, the cats love to help. 😉

    Bear, I’m also eager to see where Vin goes with “Miskatonic Manuscript.” Haven’t even had a sneak peek at the first draft yet. 🙁

  17. R. Hartman Says:

    2014 just ended on a high for me: Forget the long wait, forget Feb 17… The Testament has arrived! That was fast…

    Not just numbered (076) and signed, but with a personal address from Vin referring to the ‘exorbitant shipping’.

    Words can’t express how much I appreciate this. I love you guys (and gals)!

    Have a great, happy, safe, healthy and free 2015!


  18. Steve Says:

    I have 75! From Nevada to the Netherlands

    Happy New Year! May it be a good one for you!