Saturday, April 22, 2023

eBay listing of the day

It takes some true chutzpah to list this copy of The Haunted House Handbook on eBay for $11.98 plus $4.50 shipping. At least there's full honesty in the description: "Front cover shows considerable varmint damage to top, side & lower edges -- otherwise this copy would have been graded as Good Minus, with wear & chipping to edges & corners, plus creases, scratches,folds, indentations, small tears, rub-wear, browning pages, soiling, etc -- OVERALL CONDITION = Fair"

"Fair" might be pushing it.

The Haunted House Handbook, by D. Scott Rogo (1950-1990) was published in 1978, and it's moderately sought-after by folks who collect that genre. Good copies aren't cheap, but a quick search found some nice ones on Amazon, eBay and AbeBooks in the $25 range. And there were also a few paperbacks in the $10 range that could definitely be considered ragged — but far less ragged than this mouse-eaten one.

But who knows? Maybe collecting chewed-up or weirdly battered paperbacks is a hobby for some collectors. They can have their unique charm, I reckon, though I don't think I'd pay the $16.48 (plus tax) in this instance to be able to hold this one and call it my own.

I've certainly stumbled upon some books at the end of their usable lives over the years, including Mystery of the Third Mine and a volume from an 1882 encyclopedia set. Crucially, I paid a combined 25 cents for the two of them. And I no longer have them — I'm not one of the Collyer brothers! I do, however, still have the "Best. Book. Ever." that I detailed in 2015.

Related posts

Friday, April 21, 2023

Cat postcard & cat tale from
a war-weary Ukrainian

I recently received this Postcrossing postcard from Andriy in Dnipro, Ukraine, whose interests include archaeology, antiques, pirates and outdoor activities.

He penned his note to me in early March and wrote:
Hello, this is incredible, I have had this original card from the 70s for a year, and as if waiting for you. ... A little about myself. My name is Andriy. I also love cats very much. I have several of them, and they are very hard going through the war and bombing that we have almost every day.
That's it. There isn't much room to write on postcards. But this one succinctly notes the bond we share through a love a cats and the daily heartbreak of Putin's criminal war upon the innocent people, and animals, of Ukraine. 

Sunday, April 16, 2023

It's over now, the music of the night

ajay_suresh, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons 

Today marks the final performance of the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Charles Hart/Richard Stilgoe musical The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, at the Majestic Theatre. It ran for nearly 14,000 performances, having begun at the Majestic in January 1988 — more than 35 years ago. I was still in high school when it debuted!

It's been around so long that I've had nine different residences since I saw the show's touring company in Philadelphia in the early 1990s. And I'm no longer sure where that playbill is, so I couldn't rustle it up for today's bit of ephemera.

It's very possible that I first heard about Phantom from my 11th grade history teacher at Strath Haven High School, Robert Larzelere. He was an enthusiastic, smart-as-a-whip and hilarious teacher who always kept our attention as he filled our heads with knowledge. When he died in 2011, his page was filled with messages from former students he had inspired.

During the minutes at the beginning or end of some classes, he would often try to broaden our horizons with elements of popular culture that represented a reprieve from the class struggles or economic theories we were learning about. I distinctly remember one day in the spring of 1988 when Mr. Larzelere put on a record and let us listen to the opening minutes of Phantom's synthesizer-charged score. (It must have been the London cast recording, right?) 

My mom and grandmother were fans of the show, too. They traveled to New York City to see the show on Broadway, and raved about it for months afterward. They played the vinyl cast recording on the mid-century record player cabinet in our Wallingford living room. 

As I mentioned, Mom took my sister and I to see Phantom in Philadelphia in the early 1990s. I saw it one other time, with Joan in Baltimore circa 2005. 

The "Highlights From The Phantom Of The Opera" CD spent many years in the regular rotation of music that I listened to while working.1 And, to this day, I sing songs from the musical in the shower.2 

There's been lots of great journalism in recent weeks about the end of the show on Broadway. Two that I really enjoyed were a New York Times piece about the members of the orchestra who have been with the show for years (or decades), and this Playbill article about the monkey musical box (Lot 665) that makes its final Broadway appearance today, too.
1. The rotation also included albums by Genesis and Counting Crows, plus the Magnolia and Punch-Drunk Love scores.
2. Too much information?