Saturday, January 26, 2013

Touchstones for a Week

It's been a busy week in which nothing much happened at Bonnett's Books. Bitter cold and snow have kept in-store traffic to minimum. Chilling effects of an esoteric nature have likewise burdened the hearts and minds of our circles, to the point of making weather woes meaningless in comparison. The clocks are still working, Klaatu hasn't made the Earth stand still, and there are indeed a few things I have remembered that can be shared here.

Books about the arts of film-making/history, photography, and illustration have been simmering for some time. To be honest, they're pretty consistent topics around here, but they seem to be nearing a boil, bubbling to the surface. I anticipate a good deal of high-caliber creative activity in 2013. Keep in mind, the results of this activity may not be seen until the end of the year, or a year or two hence. The best roasts cook the longest!

History itself, both fictional and non, from the whimsical to the technical*, has also been in the air - as well as on our shelves. It's the books, after all, which primarily spur store discussions into a full run.

And last, but certainly not least, there's been a sudden and unexpected upswing in comic book interest. I'm not talking about super-collectibles, just regular comics. Of course, any comic-lover will want to take a peek at the good stuff, but interest has been trending toward titles and characters of the common kind.

In the back of my mind I wonder if all the newly-published and revamped variations of our classic heroes are less than satisfactory, thereby building nostalgia for the "good old days." It's funny how "good old days" shift with the passage of time.

Today's "good old days" comics seem to be from the early '70s to the early '80s, but when I started working here (in the 80s) the "good old days" spanned the '40s through the '60s. The older "good old days" are still quite well-regarded but tend to be difficult to obtain, which shifts the focus to newer items of more recent vintage. And current comics are changing so often it's hard to follow what's going on - but you can try.

It's a bit like the TV shows "Happy Days" and "That 70s Show". Happy Days was a hit in the 70s, 20 years after it's setting. It was the same way with That 70s Show. The big difference was in my own perspective. I lived through and remember the 70s. Things didn't seem so different between then and now. But Happy Days was of a time immemorial to me, and seemed very different than the 70s in which I watched them.

Here we are now, approaching the middle teen years of a new century, and it's just about time to do another flashback TV show (or streaming on-demand web series?) about the wacky 1990s, full of cartoon/toy references, gags about the dial-up-age internet, and grunge music. There's my pitch, Hollywood. Let's get this rolling so I can start getting paid for my big idea [I've got key episodes and the series finale in mind as well - gotta have an "exit strategy" in the '90s, you know.]

It's interesting to note that things are in fact a LOT different now than they were 20 years ago, by leaps and bounds! Comparing the 2010s to the '90s is a far bigger stretch than comparing the '90s to the '70s, or the '70s to the '50s... Wow... and Hey! Why do odd-numbered decades(1.) get to have all the fun?


Until next time...


*History book examples (available here now):
  • Historical Fiction - Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  • Historical Non-Fiction - A Bridge Too Far by Cornelius Ryan
  • Whimsical History - Esquire's Bad News: Greatest Bloopers, Goofs, & Scoops of Modern Times 1961-84
  • Technical History - Field Guide to Contemporary American Architecture by Carole Rifkind
  • Fake Histories (a twofer!) - 
  1. The 90s: A History of the 1990s Before They Happen, edited by Tony Hendra & Peter Elbling
  2. Our Dumb Century: 100 Years of Headlines from America's Finest News Source by The Onion

Thursday, January 17, 2013

PSA: Lost and Found: Forgotten Gloves, Books

We've had a rash of forgetfulness in the last few weeks. The stuff is below. I've left out some details so only the rightful owners will be able to ID and claim their items. I hope this post will be helpful to them.

  • We're keeping a pair of gloves safe for a regular who left them on his last visit. 
  • A P.J. O'Rourke's book forgotten by a fellow who was looking for Gene Stratton-Porter's "Girl of the Limberlost."
  • "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy and another book were left by some folks visiting Dayton with "Shrek: The Musical" at Victoria Theatre.
Come and get 'em!

Where to begin to continue...

I truly don't know where to begin, or how to go about explaining it all, so here it is, briefly as possible, just to get caught up. Also, I'm trying to get this done quickly, so will not include links. If something here sparks a desire for more info just search for it. I'll probably come back to this post in the future and add links... just because. Up, up and away!


On Saturday I forgot to mention an odd trend of Superman. For a few weeks now we've had what seems to be a Spanish version comic book of Superman, Super-Homem. I'm not fluent in Spanish, but I think this book may be Portugese. Something about language looks other than Spanish to me.

Anyway, It's printed in a smaller format than a typical comic, but it's thicker, like a graphic novel. I guess it's closest print comparison would be thick squarish Japanese manga books that have been steadily growing in popularity. So, yes, I said it's been around for a few weeks, but it was specifically noticed and mentioned by a customer a few days ago. This Spanish/Portugese language Superman book collects a number of stories following the Death and Return of Superman, as evidenced by his longer hairstyle during that time.

And that leads me to a customer request for the Death of Superman comic. They're not expensive or hard to find. In fact, they're so abundant that it's one of a few comics for which we seem to have many multiple copies on hand at all times. Almost everyone who wants one already has it, and that's what made the request something of a surprise.

So, after those two incidents, and in the middle of the VR conversation I mentioned in my previous post, Superman by The Kinks played on the radio.

To wrap it all up, another customer traded in a 2004 issue of The Adventures of Superman. Superman trade-ins aren't uncommon, but I rarely notice them. This one caught my eye for containing a promo poster from Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow - a personal favorite film, with certain similarities to a Superman cartoon from the '40s. The poster was one in a series of six available at the time in various DC comics. I hadn't known of the posters until seeing this comic. I would have collected them.

DISNEY

OK, nothing unusual about Disney in Bonnett circles. We love the Disney! The thing that's odd is when we're suprised by Disney. In October 2012 Disney surprised EVERYONE by taking over Lucasfilm. A deal that huge shouldn't have come out of the blue as it did, but it seems they really wanted to keep it under wraps until it was done. The Star Wars themed ride Star Tours has been a Disney fixture for quite some time, so we knew there was more than a passing connection.

About two weeks before this huge deal we acquired a pair of Mickey Mouse ears for our in-store toy collection. A stray Darth Vader helmet had been sitting around for some time and I thought it would be fun to put the ears on it. Little did I know that I was divining the future with our toys:
A few things to note about this photo. It's second of two I shot with my phone. The other had glare on the Mickey Mouse Club logo, so I moved the shot to this spot, suitably in our science fiction section. Note the fish toys on the right. I put Flounder from The Little Mermaid in this photo because he happened to be handy. The other fish (tail-only) is a squeaky toy of the fish from Disney's Pinnocchio. I promise it's all true. That helmet would not forgive the growing nose of a liar.

Then, at the beginning of this year, my son and I visited the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, OH to see some collections of the photography of Annie Leibovitz. At that time there was a question of whether we would go to the Leibovitz show or another photo show at the Cincinnati Art Museum featuring the photography of Herb Ritts.

In making the final decision I image searched both photogs to get an idea of which show we thought we'd enjoy most. Our final choice turned out to be our original choice, Annie Leibovitz. Both photographers are great, but Leibovitz has shot more of what we felt we wanted to see. The Disney surprise in this case was my discovery of A.L.s Disney Dream Portraits which feature celebs as Disney characters.

My car radio is tuned to 24-hour Classical WDPR 88.1 FM, Dayton Public Radio, but I frequently listen to a variety of podcasts while I'm driving. The chances of hearing any particular thing are slim, and since I keep irregular hours I hear different bits of programming with little anticipation of hearing certain types, styles, or composers which might be featured by the show hosts. However, since just before Christmas I've heard at least one piece every week on WDPR that has been featured in a Disney film. The Nutcracker Suite was featured in the original Fantasia, Rhapsody in Blue was a highlight of Fantasia 2000, Night on Bald Mountain from Fantasia, Pines of Rome from F2K, and the amazing Sorcerer's Apprentice which appeared in both films.

This past weekend I was graced by a visit from my son. We didn't have plans. We were just hanging out on Sunday, did some shopping, visited some friends, played some Uno, watched some Disney. We were going to watch Robin Hood but we didn't seem to have it handy, so we watched Fun and Fancy Free instead, which is really two separate stories shown as a single film. The surprise (for me) was that we ended up watching Disney. I had expected a night of video games or adventure movies, but I'm glad we picked what he did.

The first cartoon in Fun and Fancy Free is Bongo, from a story by Rudyard Kipling Sinclair Lewis about a circus bear who finds freedom and love. The story is narrated by Dinah Shore. Where's the Disney surprise? Well, this bit includes some very Fantasia-esque scenes as Bongo falls in love with a lady-bear. Watch the heart shaped clouds, there's an unintentional surprise there as well. A further surprise the next day was finding a DVD of the old Carol Burnett show... one of the guests being Dinah Shore. Strange how things happen sometimes.

The second segment is Mickey and the Beanstalk starring the famous mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy. This story is told by famous ventriloquist Edgar Bergen with the help of his "friends" Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd, and includes some segments of mixed live action and animation.

All in all a very entertaining picture. And as I was typing this stuff about Disney a commercial for Disney Cruises aired on TV. The Disney machine keeps rolling and rolling.


Honestly, there's more to all this, but I'm spent, and I realize this hasn't been my best post. If you've read this far I thank you. More and better posts coming soon, and check back for links. I'll probably do some editing on this post as well, when I return to add the links. Right now it's a 1st printing of the 1st edition. Collect them all! Links have been added and some minor editing has been done, including a rather major correction... Sinclair Lewis wrote Little Bear Bongo, which became the cartoon "Bongo" in "Fun and Fancy Free," not Rudyard Kipling. I honestly have no idea how I switched those two names. Be well!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Future Shock in the Here and Now

1/11/13 - My imaginary dinner lark of two days ago, crafted due to a 2-day lull in activity, has been immediately followed by a 2-day downpour. I recall the following...

Yesterday included more cyberspace with a discussion of the game Shadowrun and a return mention of William Gibson, as well as some chat about manga and anime. This included a brief detour concerning the impact of a networked world on reality, the old ideas of virtual reality, and the burgeoning world of augmented reality. These fairly in-depth concepts breezed by as mere mentions thanks to a shared prior basic understanding of the concepts.

However, all of this brought to mind the book "Future Shock" by Alvin Toffler which discussed the idea of information overload and how society copes with unrelenting progress. It was written way back in 1970, at least a generation before any form of internet put the pedal to the metal on the advance of technology.

Much of Future Shock dealt with the idea of technology isolating people from one another, thereby destroying community and neighborhoods, but the viewpoint of 1970 could not foresee advances in personal communication, which have enabled the rise of virtual communities. And now, many of us have smartphones with access to a multitude of web sites and apps that specifically encourage a return to local interactions in the real world, while still allowing us to connect with the world like never before. Tech created information overload, but it also came up with tools to help us manage in this new world.

Funny how "information overload" so quickly became an in-store subject - and included here; a series of posts specifically about the nearly overwhelming variety of ideas exchanged at Bonnett's Books. But, wait. There's More! That was Thursday. On to Friday.

Today there was a candlelight vigil outside hosted by our neighbors at Peace on Fifth, inside Gallery 510, to raise awareness for victims of Human Trafficking worldwide. They were outside and I had to stay in the store, so there were no interactions to report. However, local news interviewed some of the attendees as they stood in our doorway.

Inside the store, there was more chat about manga and anime, discussions of local history, local TV, the advance of cable TV in the '70s and '80s - with sidebars about personal experiences* with cable in its early days, and remembrance of favorite cable programs of yore. Ah, memories.

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*featuring the VERY awkward teenage event of seeing naked ladies ride bikes while sitting with a girlfriend and her parents as we waited for Capricorn One to air on a movie channel. I'll avoid linking to keep the blog SFW, but you can see it if you wish on MetaCafe.com by searching for Queen - Bicycle Race - Uncensored.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

How to segue from Spies, to UFOs, to Poetry? I don't know. I'll cook something up.

1/9/13 - The ideascape has been less than fast and furious for a couple of days... it seems we found an eddy in the thoughtstream. Might as well enjoy the moment of calm. How about dinner?

On the table is a steaming platter of Spy stories and intrigue. The menu includes a side of Ufology with a Jungian glaze served on a fresh bed of Men's Adventure and a Victorian Poetry sorbet for dessert.

Oh, I almost forgot... we're seeing a lot of cookbooks lately. Could you tell? Stop in to see the latest arrivals!



Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Spy Lit, Puzzles, and Conspiracies!

1/7/13 - Again, I've discovered a shortage of inventory for a requested author. I'm not diggin' this trend.

Granted, the authors in question are popular and collectible - making them slightly more difficult to find than the average book... this time it was Leslie Charteris, creator of "The Saint" series among other things. Yes, we take note when we're out of something popular, and that fact, perhaps, turns the spotlight away from all the things we DO have. No one reports news on an intersection without a traffic accident, right (or do they)?

The 1997 film of "The Saint" starring Val Kilmer is not one of the great films of all time, but it's fun and has one of my go-to soundtracks. It's a great movie to "watch" when you're doing something else. ;-) I jest. It's actually an excellent movie to watch, if only to see the many faces of Val Kilmer. The guy is very good at putting on a persona.

So, let's look at the brighter side of the day... We hooked someone up with a Scrabble dictionary. Scrabble dictionaries have always been uncommon around here, especially since the National Scrabble Tournament was held in Dayton back in 2009, and in fact, it was our last one, for now. Herman Melville's Moby Dick and a collection by Robert Louis Stevenson were also in the plus side of the mix today. Adventure on the high seas! Always good stuff - though, personally, I might be more enthusiastic about salt-water in the months when salting ice on sidewalks was less of a probability...

What amazing new adventures await in tomorrow's exciting episode of The Chronicles of Bonnett's Books?
Tune in next time!

Sunday, January 06, 2013

How was 1/5/13 at Bonnett's Books?

If yesterday was a perfect example of why I'm blogging daily highlights at the shop, today was a perfect example of why it's NOT a good idea.

1/5/13 - Yesterday's lightbulb-changing activity apparently took it's toll on my upper back and neck muscles, which are not accustomed to working in an arms-above-the-head configuration. I didn't mention the fact that I had also labored on my shower head at home before work. In short, any discussions that may have taken place were conducted through a manageable but persistent, distracting, and wearying haze of pain.

What I remember is vague... There was some talk of local jazz venues and musicians, an observation of wide-ranging variety of sports available this afternoon - on broadcast TV alone (meaning no cables or dishes or other forms of paid TV), some passing commentary on the state of the Union, and Greg's Black Bean & Garlic chili.

I'm sure it was all more interesting that I was capable of perceiving. Sunday, being a day of rest, will be used for same.


Saturday, January 05, 2013

Science Fiction Day?

I'm glad to know there is a National Science Fiction Day and I'm a bit disappointed in myself that I hadn't learned of it until now. For the record NSFD coincides with the birthdate of Isaac Asimov, every year on January 2nd. In any case, the themes around the shop today included a good dose of Science Fiction.

1/4/13 - DK Publishing's "X-Men The Ultimate Guide: Updated Edition" from 2003 has found it's way here and began the Sci-Fi trend of the day. The X-Men universe of comics have always seemed, to me, to be the most science-y of the entire Marvel Universe, which (to me) always seemed the most science-based comic books. Granted, it's difficult to find a superhero comic that is NOT rooted in science fiction. The mystical and supernatural characters of comics typically play in a different sandbox, yet often cross paths with our super-science tinkerers and w√ľnderkinds. And why not? As another giant of Science Fiction, Sir Arthur C. Clarke, famously wrote, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." But, let's not forget that Mark Twain's "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" used that very concept nearly a century before!

So, today a customer asked for John Kennedy Toole's "A Confederacy of Dunces" - another title I was disappointed to find we currently lack (and one I should find for my own reading purposes). We looked in a number of spots in the store; A) 'the rack' - a place we put popular titles, near our Classics, which will likely deserve a spot in the Classics section, one day, B) 'across from the desk' - a place we put books that are very popular, hard for us to find, or slightly more expensive than the norm (I've equated this space to the 'top shelf' liquor in a bar), and C) the Humor section. During all this searching I seemed to recall hearing of a "Confederacy of Dunces" movie and suggested we might look in the movie-books, but my wise guest informed me that it's been tried many times and the lead actor keeps dying off. My current internet search on the topic indicates another film attempt has recently been considered.

While at the 'top shelf' books we found "The Crying of Lot 49" by Thomas Pynchon. He's another fellow I've yet to read, and I mentioned "Gravity's Rainbow" as being high on my to-do list. This became a short diversion to William Gibson, who is frequently thought of as a Sci-Fi writer but has lately delved into stories of a far more real-world nature - I'm partial to "Pattern Recognition", which has been considered for filming (like "... Dunces" and "... Lot 49") and was produced as a 5-part radio play for BBC Radio in 2007. Further broadening the thoughtscape was talk of publishing and then a mention of Cory Doctorow, who insists that many of his works be made available for free, at the same time his publishers are offering them for sale.

To wrap up the search for "... Dunces" we glanced through the aforementioned Humor section. While failing to find "A Confederacy of Dunces" we did stumble upon P. J. O'Rourke's "Parliament of Whores" and shared a quick laugh about bundling the two books as a double-feature.

That's a lot for one day... all of this idea-volleyball occurred in the space of a mere 10-15 minutes! I also changed a lightbulb (it takes just 1 Bonnett to do so), helped our First Friday visitors, created Slushy, the Snow Blob, typed all of this, and more. It's a perfect example of why I wanted to begin chronicling a year of ideas in the shop. Such mental parkour is de rigueur and, being whelmed and overwhelmed in this manner is like a workout, leaving the brain all sweaty and catching it's breath. Some would casually call all this chit-chat trivia; we sincerely do not. A used bookstore isn't a graveyard of old information. Used bookstores are the original culture mash-up, the birthplace of the mental remix, and a seed bank of future ideas. Just the kinds of things Dayton is known for... inspiration, invention... and now Slushy, the Happy Snowblob. Caption him at will.




Friday, January 04, 2013

The Wide World of Bonnett's Books 2013

On a whim, I thought I'd try to chronicle the diversity of topics dealt with on a daily basis here in the shop. I hope to do this regularly throughout 2013. The name of our blog, "Penciled Margins" was inspired by the fact that almost every day here brings in new and interesting items, experiences, and information. That's the nature of this place. Old, new, classic, modern, off-the-wall, mainstream, and on and on...

The links below are not as simple as they appear. Don't ignore them. Some are basic links to Wikipedia info or official sites related to the linked item. Other links might be thought of as "bonus features" or "easter eggs" which will lead to news, videos, behind the scenes stuff and other amazing things. No "Rick Roll" links*, I promise, except maybe on April 1st.

Who knows, you may even want to save some the links and sites for the future!

So, let's get caught up...

1/1/13 - We were closed for New Years Day. No in-store discussions, searches, etc. My wife and I enjoyed a day at home together and watched Pulp Fiction. After she went to bed I watched Sin City. I'm not sure where the inspiration to watch either film was born, but they're both highly entertaining films and merit a repeat from time to time. Happy New Year!

1/2/13 - A customer request for comedies by Aeschylus led to an online search and the discovery that he's known more for his tragedies - learn something new every day. Then, while checking our shelves for works by Aeschylus (to find we're a bit low at the moment) discussion turned to Shakespeare, acting, film-making, and my glib suggestion that Quentin Tarantino's lengthy scenes of dialog might one day, far off, be studied by students of dramatic arts as Shakespeare's use of language is studied today. As you may have guessed, if you're paying attention, the comment was driven by my entertainment choices from 1/1/13. We finally wrapped up the discussion when we found something from Aristophenes, who, after all that, is a Greek comedic dramatist and happened to appeal to that particular customer.

1/3/13 - What a square date, daddy-o! Many things crossed our shared thoughtscape today, from the recent Bruce Wayne morph to super yachts and action films. Bruce Willis [I almost typed "Bruce Wayne" again], Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Arnold Schwarzenegger figured prominently. Willis was in both my movie choices from the First of the year, but I was not the one to bring him to the conversation. However, I mentioned Gordon-Levitt and Ahnold due to our Batman related discussion. Schwarzenegger chat lingered as I searched for some online images by Annie Leibovitz, whose "Master Set" and "Pilgrimage" curations were recently on display with more of her work at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus (Ohio), which my son and I had attended just days before.

So that gets us caught up on current ideas floating around the bookstore. What's next?

Concepts flow around here in the same way our books, comics, and movies do. There's really no way to know what will turn up, until it does. Please check back often - both in the shop and here at "Penciled Margins" - the official weblog of Bonnett's Books.

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*after this one.