Thursday, May 28, 2009

More book stuff

Continuing my look at the stuff on my bookshelves, starting with the ART category:

This book has close-ups of famous fannies from the world of art. You're supposed to see if you can identify them and they have reproductions of the paintings in the back of the book. I couldn't identify any of them, but it's fun anyway. I would love to have the Scottish edition of this book because in Scotland it's got a much better title:When it comes to cheesecake Gil Elvgren is the man. He somehow mastered the art of combining the wholesome with the erotic. His girls are always getting their skirts lifted by wind or machinery or something, and they all look shocked and delighted.

(If that puppy had pulled just a tad harder this picture might have made it in "The Arse in Art.")

After all those posteriors and pin-ups I'm starting to feel a little lowbrow. Thank goodness our next book is from a genuine fine artist:Although Gustav enjoyed a shapely rear as much as anybody.
His most famous painting is "The Kiss." I gave a copy of this work to my wife early on in our relationship and it still hangs in our bedroom.
More later.
Happy birthday to my second favorite baseball player of all time -- Kirk Gibson, still the only man to have ever wrapped up an entire World Series with one swing of a bat -- stomach virus and injuries to both legs notwithstanding.If God and the devil ever play a baseball game to see who gets my soul and I get to pick the player who bats to settle where I will spend eternity, this is the guy I want.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Literature Matters

I've been Spring cleaning and getting organized a little better lately. I've put a lot of comics and stuff up on eBay and a lot of books up on Swaptree. I'm going through the books I want to keep and deciding why I want to keep them. If I don't have a good reason I'll swap it. My books are organized by subject matter. We'll start with ART:Certainly there was never any doubt I was going to keep this one. These tame-by-today's-standards cartoons remind me so much of sneaking peeks at my Dad's collection of True Magazines when I was a kid. And Dan DeCarlo was the definitive Archie cartoonist. He created Sabrina, the Teenage Witch and Josie and the Pussycats. And the fact that a lot of the girls in these toons look like Veronica and Betty and others I've been crushing on since prepubesence makes this a must-have. In fact, there's a volume 2 I've been on the lookout for. If you see it at a reasonable price let me know.
Bookplates are one of those old-fashioned things that I just love. This book has the bookplates of famous people -- everybody from Harpo Marx to Herbert Hoover.
Sigmund Freud had a picture of a nude dude on his book plate. Hmmm, I wonder what that signifies.
Jack London's bookplate could be in honor of "The Call of the Wild" or "The Sea Wolf" or even "White Fang":Evidently Harry Houdini is the only guy arrogant enough to have a picture of himself on his own bookplates.My favorite -- probably because I'm such an Aubrey Beardsley fan -- is this one he designed for John O'Fallon Miller:More tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

More Books I've Read in 2009

A new book from Tom Robbins is always cause for celebration. I can honestly say that his works -- notably "Jitterbug Perfume" and "Still Life With Woodpecker" changed my way of thinking on a what-looks-like-permanent basis. So, that is why it pains me to say that "B is For Beer" did not do it for me. I applaud him for trying something different --- in this case a grown-up book for kids -- but kids are not Robbins's natural audience, and a lot of his trademark digressions -- usually the best parts of his books -- came off as kind of cutesy and therefore annoying. There were several clever turns of phrase, and if you know nothing of beer history or how the alcoholic elixir is created, you can learn a thing or two. Otherwise, you'd be better off rereading "Jitterbug."

End of an era?

There are several contests that I enter on a regular basis -- NPR Weekend Edition Sunday Puzzle, the Car Talk Puzzler, and Games World of Puzzles contests chief among them. I've won the runner-up prize at World of Puzzles a couple of times and have the t-shirts to prove it, but as yet no big money. (And actually the money's not as big as it used to be; for years the prize was 1,000 dollars -- a few years ago they halved it to 500.) Anyway, I went to go pick the new issue of World of Puzzles and for the first time ever there was no contest. No explanation, no announcements, but I have a feeling that this is another sign of Big Trouble in Magazine Land, and there will be no more contests in GWoP. Which means my last chance is for last month's contest -- The Jigsaw Crossword Contest, which ends Monday, June 1st. Wish me luck.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

More Books I've Read in 2009

It's been a while since I posted one of these literary updates. I guess all you MBIRI2009 fans are thinking I've forgotten how to read. But such is not the case. I unfortunately have limited free time and I spend much of that now working out and reading fitness magazines and blogs. And then foam-rolling to recover from my workouts -- oh, and eating several times a day and shopping a couple times a day. But I still make time to read. I read these two books a while back.
And I liked them both, but I don't remember enough particulars about either to blog much about. This is the book that I'm reading in the bathroom.
And I gotta tell the back cover irks me every time I pick it up. Particularly this sentence: "Whilst grateful for the success he has endured, on the whole he (Dolenz) would rather have been a physician." What irks me about this sentence? Well, besides the attitude and the ego, there's the word "whilst". What kind of archaic, crepuscular word is "whilst"? I don't think I've ever seen anyone other Dolenz and some of the more florid Victorians use that word non-ironically. Then there's the word "endured". You endured your success, Mickey? Somehow managed to survive the money, the parties and the groupies? What a testament to the human spirit. Anybody who got rich and famous with no more than that thimbleful of talent you possess should be more grateful for that success. And whilst millions of music-lovers might wish you had become a physician instead, it's most unbecoming of you to cry about how tough it's been enduring your good fortune.
And just yesterday I finished this book:Here's it the copyright and library info that irks me, specifically this classification: "1. Graphic novels -- Switzerland -- translated into English"
Why does that tick me off? Because it's not a novel, graphic or otherwise, it's a memoir. Literary snobs have been reluctant to admit that comics can be literary and now that they have no choice they have forgotten the distinction between fiction and non-fiction and call everything with pictures a graphic "novel."
The boook itself I enjoyed very much, about a young man coming to grips with his lover's (and his lover's child's) HIV. The only thing that took a little getting used to was the fact that he drew the young lady in question's eyes so big even a manga editor would say, "Whoa, that's just not right."