Saturday, December 18, 2010

Saturday's VERY Special Guest

Well, the rain that fell on Clement Street today was a little less white and fluffy than what falls on the North Pole, but that didn't stop SANTA CLAUS from making an appearance at Green Apple Books this afternoon, raising donations for the San Francisco Fire Fighter's Toy program.

Santa also raised quite a few eyebrows with his jokes and impersonations - my favorite was Christopher Walken from Pulp Fiction, and Woody Allen definitely kept things from being too gentile. . .and I think Marlon Brando from Last Tango in Paris might keep me off of butter til at least January. Still, we raised $250 in cash, and quite a grab-bag of books and toys - thanks to all who donated, you are certainly "going to Santa Heaven."

Santa also wanted me to mention that he has a very close friend named Will Franken who has been performing stand-up comedy in the Bay Area for years and years. Will has a special holiday themed one-man show on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights next week at The Eureka Theatre called "Texas Chainsaw Yuletide", and both Santa and I think it would be a wonderful way to get in the holiday spirit. Tickets are available here.

Happy Holidays from Green Apple, The San Francisco Fire Department, and most of all, from Santa Claus!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The best books I read in 2010

Next up: Josie

(Two of) the best books I read in 2010

One of my favorite books of the year, Sheila Heti’s How Should a Person Be? is exactly what its title implies: an inquiry into how to live, and how to do it well. Through a fictionalized account of her personal life, Heti explores the ways in which self-doubt, capriciousness, and the ego are tied to one’s ability to live a creative life in the modern age. Yes, I know, this all sounds so serious. Or maybe it doesn’t. Either way, this novel is a rare gem of modern literature that effectively combines intellectual, philosophical musings with a narrative that is creative, absorbing, and quite funny, without being pretentious. How Should a Person Be? is about what it means to make art, and what it means to be a human. After finishing it over the course of a few days, this book stuck with me for weeks. I even read passages of it aloud to a friend, something I rarely do. This is a fine book from a fine Canadian author, one that made oh-10 just a little bit better.

[Unfortunately, How Should a Person Be? has not yet been published in the U.S. But, never fear. An excerpt from the book was published in the current issue of n+1, which is available right here at Green Apple Books. And, the book itself can easily be ordered through the Canadian publisher House of Anansi Press. Also, Sheila Heti has a great website where you can read a lot of her writing, including excerpts from her three books, as well as some great articles and interviews.]

I read my other favorite book way back in February, in a single sitting. Tove Jansson’s The True Deceiver quickly pulled me into the stark world of a cold Scandinavian winter, and the complex life of one uncompromising, socially isolated woman. Though the tale begins quite modestly, this story quickly compounds and calls into question what even the most seemingly moral among us will do for what we want, or what we think we need. The darkness and vulnerability of Jansson’s characters and their relationships with one another left me contemplative, if not haunted. Understated and beautifully written, this book has continued to stand out among everything I have read in the last year, in the best way possible.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Move Over Pantone 15-5519

The "inviting, luminous hue" of Pantone 15-5519, the color that has so magically characterized this year is going to have to move over pretty soon to make way for the "dynamic reddish pink" of Pantone 18-2120! That's right, people. The Pantone 2011 color of the year has indeed been announced, Honeysuckle, promising to embolden us in the face the everyday troubles of the coming year! Verve and vigor, everyone!
In further color news, Color: A Natural History of the Palette, Victoria Finlay's new book is on our shelves in voluminous amounts. I'm taking the time to direct your attention to it because, other than the fact that I think it's a great book, I'm worried that it's a book that will be widely overlooked this season. Within it's pages we find the story of Finlay enthusiastically seeking out the origin of individual colors on our palate, many of which have bizarre and intriguing stories behind them, involving things such as insect invasions, human urine, and the off mining disaster or two. I think that the cover of the book itself, as well as the blurbs printed on the back of it prove to be a bit misleading, giving the book a bit of an Eat, Pray, Love kind of vibe, which is a little unfair (and that's not to say anything poor about Eat, Pray, Love necessarily, but aside from travel, the similarities are nonexistent).

I wouldn't have gravitated to Finlay's book at all if it weren't for my own personal interest in design, and truth be told I thought that it looked a little dull upon my first assessment, but upon opening it I was pleasantly surprised to find a text filled composed unique of travelogue and little known historical facts. Like any good history of a single object (or in this case maybe concept?), it's about so much more than the object itself. Did you know that there are colors today that are slowly on their way out of existence? I mean, who really thinks about color these days anyway? Who's trying to get to the bottom of this situation? Really?!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Get 'em while you can...

I'm not sure if you've heard the news yet, but the San Francisco Giants are Champions of the World!!!

Relive each and every out of the 2010 World Series with this deluxe edition DVD set. 8 disks contain all World Series games, games five and six from the NLCS, and a bonus disk of the season's highlights. PLUS (and this is a big one) - PLUS, you can finally give Cluck & McGarble the mute and watch entire games with our own KNBR broadcast crew calling the shots.

This DVD set is available in-store only, and they are flying fast; if you want to put one of these under someone's tree, you best call us quick: 415-387-2272

Giants deluxe DVD - $79.98

Listening to Kuip, Kruk, Miller and Flemming instead of those other two guys - Priceless...

The best books I read in 2010

This is me at work. My leisure time looks nothing like this. I usually read sitting down.

It is difficult to do justice to one of my favorite books I read this year, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge. This book invaded my consciousness and, at least for the time I was reading it, colored the world around me anew. Poetry can do that, and so it's not surprising that the sole novel by Rainer Maria Rilke, writer of some of the most beautiful and arresting poetry in (any) language, is like the effect of a beautiful poem experienced tenfold, like a dream that feels impossibly long. Written as a notebook of the stream-of-consciousness musings of a young man living, wandering and writing in Paris, this semi-autobiographical novel examines subjects such as writing, death, memory, childhood, identity, and "God" via a typically modernist fragmented narrative that nonetheless moves seamlessly through time and space. This is a novel that simply cannot leave you unmoved.

My other favorite book read in 2010 is Short Talks by Anne Carson. Here I feel I should admit, cliche though it may be, that I would read Anne Carson's version of the phone book (come to think of it, I would actually really, really like to read Anne Carson's version of the phone book.) Anyway. Being very brief meditations on a wide range of subjects (including but not limited to: A Short Talk on Walking Backwards, A Short Talk on Gertrude Stein, A Short Talk on Waterproofing, A Short Talk on Hedonism, A Short Talk on the Sensation of Aeroplane Take-off), all of these micro-essays are short, some of them are profoundly substantive, some are light and lovely, and they took me a surprisingly long time to read because nearly every one of them stopped me cold, made me want to linger with it a moment. It's a perfect book to keep bedside, travel-side, or just by your side for a little while. Now, because I can't resist and I can't say it better, I'll just share my favorite one, and let you decide if you want another:

Short Talk on Orchids

We live by tunneling for we are people buried alive. To me, the tunnels you make will seem strangely aimless, uprooted orchids. But the fragrance is undying. A Little Boy has run away from Amherst a few days ago, wrote Emily Dickinson in a letter of 1883, and when asked where he was going replied, Vermont or Asia.

Laughs for you, Toys for kids

Did you hear about Macy's firing Santa for a barely, almost, kind of, sort of vaguely off-color joke? Here's the story.

Green Apple--and a few other locally owned independent businesses--still has a sense of humor. Inspired by Flax Art and Design (who are hosting Will Durst this Saturday), we're hosting a comedian in a Santa suit on Saturday to tell jokes to generous Green Apple shoppers. And lucky for you, it's the very funny Will Franken.

Here's the deal: come in this Saturday, December 18 between 2 and 4 pm. Bring an unwrapped new toy for a kid (or donate $5 or more) to the SF Firefigter's Toy Drive, and you can sit on "Santa's" lap and hear a joke. Not for the easily offended.

So if you're planning to buy books as gifts, could use a laugh, and can give a toy to a kid in need, please join us this Saturday from 2-4pm.

If you can't make it, help us spread the word via Twitter, Facebook, etc.!

P.S. The toy drive is most in need of gifts for older girls.

Monday, December 13, 2010

2010 Comic Selection

The late aughts have been good in the comic world. I've tried to compile a short list of what I think are the ten best books of the genre that have come out this year along with a compelling* image from each and a quick footnote. I was excited to find that not only was each book either a new original story just released this year or is a continuation of a series that began within the last quarter of the decade, but also that the names on talent roster were was a harmonious mix of both old and new blood. So without any further ado, my gift guide for the bleary-eyed, pasty, social-disaster-child in your family:

The birds ponder the origin and meaning of a crashed jet in Anders Nilsen's Big Questions series.

Mosfet the Warlock toys with the very fabric of life and death in his insane epic POWR MASTRS.**

Dan Clowes' much anticipated Wilson, turned out to be a quiet, weird human tragicomedy.

In Matt Furie's Boy's Club series, Pepe falls into himself after stumbling upon a vision of real ugliness.

Jim Woodring unleashed some particularly unfair and brutal circumstances upon poor old Manhog in his newest opus, Weathercraft.

Titular character Wally Gropius, battles for love and money in Tim Hensley's absurd, architecture and money punning new book.

Rob, of Jeff Smith's newest series RASL meets a bizarre lizard faced nemesis.***

Lisa Hanawalt lays down a list of poor pet choices in her new issue of I Want You (#2).

Kevin Huizenga's Wild Kingdom features a whole lot of weird stuff, including Walt Whitman quoting W.S. Merwin in a brief advertisement for um... a hot new thing?

And finally this rather self explanatory page from Johnny Ryan's latest installment of Prison Pit, which only promises to get more gross and gory as the series continues.

Happy holiday shopping!!

* Haha.
** I cannot recommend this one enough.
*** RASL, not quite as kid friendly as Smith's previous work, BONE