Friday, August 19, 2022

From the readers: Bookdumping, needles and pronouncing Mousehole

The first message in today's roundup is a combination Postcrossing/Papergreat message. Through Postcrossing, I sent Cindi in the UK a postcard of the Lewis chessmen and told her about the cats and how hot it is here in Arizona. After receiving the postcard, she went to the blog and read the August 7 post Kipple 'n bytes: Thoughts on what we do and don't preserve. These are her thoughts on it all:

"Hi Chris, what a beautiful card you sent me, thank you! And you gave the temperature in C, which is helpful. The record here in England is 40.3, Alexa tells me. Poor fluffies! That can’t be fun, I’ve heard it said that paws can be burnt on hardstanding in that heat. Thanks for your blog. Re: kipple, after lessons learned after a maternal death, we decided to downsize about 8 years ago. Now we live in a small flat where we can’t accumulate. Quite often, as we only have a few bookshelves, we go ‘bookdumping’ at our local train station. It’s really fun placing books all around the place, then scuttling to the upper shopping balcony to observe who picks them up. I have also become acquainted with the concept of library books! Currently munching my way through a sandwich of Christopher Isherwood and the harder to understand (because of culturally very different references) Joan Didion."

That's definitely the kind of "bookdumping" I can get behind! So wonderful! Also, hardstanding seems like a much better and more precise word than pavement. 

From the Readers (2022 edition), plus many cats: Jarak Dekat wrote, "Oh my God, manies cats. I love it," and now I think that Oh my God, Manies Cats has taken the lead for the title of my eventual autobiography.

And Inky from the On Shoes and Ships and Sealing-Wax blog wrote: "Hooray, you're back!!! It seems you are leaning towards your own version of Millions of Cats. (I must add I've been enjoying all the pics of them on your Twitter page.)"

Regarding that: The long, long Twitter thread of daily cat pictures can be found here.

"Prinzess Victoria" and a tiny old package of sewing needles: Cat from the Cat's Wire blog wrote: "Very interesting, thank you! I just wrote a blog post about needles myself — among them Princess Victoria needles — and was amazed at all the different labels I could find for them online! My own are 'Finest silver eyed sharps' in a size 12, no country of origin and 'Princess Victoria'."

1911's "The Isle of Wight," its provenance and Joseph Sadony: Roger Allen wrote, very helpfully, "In the first inscription Blenheim could be name of a house — Mrs. Paterson's, Mrs. Mitchell's — in Newport. In local directories it may just be recorded under the street number, which would make it difficult to identify."

Cheerful Card Company can help you earn extra money for the holidays: Unknown wrote, "I sold them for years. I too am 66 and had a loyal customer base. So much so that when I stopped I had customers calling me. Only reason I stopped was when they sent out this year's kit and several weeks later sent the letter asking if you wanted them!"

The somewhat obscure "Mousehole" by Nettie Mann Pender: Roger Allen, kindly checking in again, wrote, "Mousehole — the village — is pronounced 'muzzle' or to rhyme with 'towsle'."

Thoughts on aspirational reading: Finally, Brian Busby of The Dusty Bookcase, wrote: "In the early nineties, I made a point of taking on the longest book I owned, but had not read, to bridge an old and new year. For example, I remember starting David Graham Phillips' Susan Lenox, Her Fall and Rise in December 1990, and finishing it in January 1991. Others tackled included Norman Mailer's Harlot's Ghost and The Executioner's Song. Don't know why I stopped. Dreiser's An American Tragedy beckons! Must admit, there's no form I admire more than the novella."

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Poster for 1935's "One Frightened Night"

This is the delightful poster for the 1935 thriller/mystery/comedy One Frightened Night. The film's "monster" is shown in the middle of the poster, underneath the text. That's about right, because it's not in any way a monster movie, nor is the purported monster terribly scary. I've been on a kick of watching "old dark house" movies circa mid-1920s to mid-1940s this summer, and have some more queued up heading into the autumn. Stuff like this and 1933's The Secret of the Blue Room

Old dark house movies have, as you might assume, creaky old houses filled with suspicious characters. They take place at night and, usually and preferably, during a howling thunderbumper. There are candles, secrets to discover, hidden passages, roaring fires, banging shutters and, if it's a good one, plenty of snappy dialogue. They're great comfort-blanket films. The king of them is the one that named the subgenre, James Whale's The Old Dark House from 1932.

This poster comes from CineMaterial, a wonderful archive for movie posters and a great website to browse. Check out 1909's A Trap for Santa Claus and so many others, onward through the decades of film history. There's also a dandy subsection of Polish movie posters for international films, featuring some incredible designs.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Thoughts on aspirational reading

(That's Orange, who is the mother of 13 of the 17 cats currently residing in the house.)

Someday, probably when I'm retired (LOL), when I don't spend endless work hours fact-checking letters to the editor written in a post-truth world, when there isn't a household Cat Issue™ to deal with every 20 minutes, when my mental energy and focus aren't always running on empty, and hopefully when our leaders have enacted meaningful worldwide efforts to stave off the worst outcomes of man-made climate change ... on that someday, I hope to just relax in a comfy chair and do more aspirational reading.

So much aspirational reading. When that day comes, I'll read chonky books like MacKinlay Kantor's Spirit Lake, which I discovered at the York Emporium four long years ago (seems like a decade ago) and wrote about early 2019. It's 951 pages and, if I started now and attempted to read it my current rate of 3 pages per night before I fall asleep, it would take 11 months in a best-case scenario. That would be a wholly unsatisfying way to consume a great novel.

And when that day comes, I'll tackle other long reads on my shelf. Just looking at the literature shelves, there's Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell, Witch Hammer by Vaclav Kaplicky, The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch, The Overstory by Richard Powers, Folklorn by Angela Mi Young Hur, and so many others.

I still find ways to satisfy my need to read. Mostly, I read collections of short stories by authors who are new to me. If  I really focus, I can finish one short story on the same day I start it. Right now I'm reading Cat Pictures Please and Other Stories, a collection of sci-fi and fantasy tales by Naomi Kritzer. It's outstanding. I've also read the excellent collection Useful Phrases for Immigrants by May-lee Chai this summer. 

Short-story collections by Julio Cortázar, Jamel Brinkley, Richard Brautigan, Anjali Sachdeva and Silvia Moreno-Garcia await to tide me over to that one fine morning when I can leave my pajamas on, settle in and read some long novels.