Saturday, June 12, 2010

Books don't leak

This week started off with a bang for the Ifolks at Apple, as it seems that their hot new iPad has sprung a leak, leaving more than 100,000 users vulnerable to malicious hacks and spam attacks, and AT&T under investigation by the F.B.I.

Can you imagine the words falling off of a book's printed page?

In the spirit of this major kerfuffle, I encourage you all to enjoy the new video posted below. No, it's not the handiwork of your favorite independent bookstore, although the name rings a bell. This comes courtesy of a group of Northwestern University students, Project Green Apple, and truth be told, we couldn't have done better ourselves.

So on this scorching hot day in The City by The Bay we offer for your amusement, "How to Melt an IPad"

Friday, June 11, 2010

Isn't America Wonderful

When our UPS driver, Juan, came by this morning, it was all he could do to contain his excitement for the Mexico vs. South Africa match taking place at that moment in first round World Cup action. A little while later another of our regular delivery drivers, this one from Brazil, couldn't stop talking about his country's first match on Tuesday. It reminded me of two truths: that America is a great country, still the great melting pot of cultures from around the world where people come to strive for a better life while keeping a foot in their native culture; and that my beloved game of baseball is a mere provincial hobby compared to the worldwide phenomenon that is soccer/football/futebol/etc.

For those of you who, like me, don't know a bit about "the beautiful game" but are starting to get a contact high on World Cup Mania, a couple of guide books are out to offer you the general lay of the land.

The first, pictured above, by local publican and true Glasgwegian Alan Black, is the more thorough. The author describes it as "a smash and grab read with propellant laughs, and wicked satire. Expect some crunching tackles on the establishment with profiles on hooligans, World Cup villains and serious national grudges. Stuffed with country and player profiles, bags of footie history, and all you need to know about South Africa."

The second, the 2011 World Cup Survival Guide is by John Beck. Bruce Jenkins recently said of it on his SFGate blog:

Got a terrific little surprise in the mail yesterday: John Beck's "2010 World Cup Survival Guide," an extremely informative, 82-page book that literally fits into your back pocket and is geared specifically toward a Bay Area audience....Beck's work is a treasure. Not only can you bring it along when visiting your local pub, Beck suggests you "spill beer on it and throw it at the television." Admirable spirit, that.

Both books on our shelves as we go to press.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Ain't No Monkey Like a Crazy Ass Monkey on a Boat

Okay, okay. Even better than my last theme idea for summer reads (y'know, 'tropical'), I came up with another one- How about this summer we all try to read nothing but books that have scenes featuring monkeys going nuts on a boats? Or at least non-human primates. I'm aware that's a photo of an orangutan up there, but the fact is that this category is even more difficult to drum up books for the list than the last. Limiting the constraints to 'monkeys only' would probably be WAY too stringent. All I've got so far is A High Wind in Jamaica (previously mentioned the book, neglected to mention it's multitude of tumorous monkey madness) and Moravagine. Both good ideas I think, and Cendrars' masterpiece may just have the sailing monkey scene to end all sailing monkey scenes (well, it's an ape yet again in this case, and on a steamer too, so not even really sailing- still totally outta' control though!), I just need more to tide me over for an entire summer... seriously, help me out here, folks!

Take a look HERE for an excerpt of what I'm talking about in Moravagine.
And then watch THIS over and over and over and over, just 'cause.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Cocktail anyone?

"Whiskey and vermouth cannot meet as friends and the Manhattan is an offense against piety."

Today I'd like to put a quirky classic, lovingly reissued by Tin House Books, on your radar: The Hour, a Cocktail Manifesto by Bernard DeVoto (with a witty introduction by our neighbor Daniel Handler).

From Handler's intro:
Bernard DeVoto's name may not ring a bell now, but people were certainly listening in his time. DeVoto was an historian and a journalist, a scholar and a polemicist, a novelist and a soldier. He curated the papers of Mark Twain and edited the journals of Lewis and Clark. He wrote a column for twenty years at Harpers' Magazine, incurring the ire of the FBI and the state of Utah. He won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, and his immense, three-volume history of the American West is still in print and still read.

So now that you know roughly who the author is, here's a taste of the book:

There are only two cocktails. One can be described straightforwardly. It is a slug of whiskey and it is an honest drink. Those who hold by it at 6:00 p.m. offend no canon of our fellowship. Scotch, Irish, rye, bourbon at your will--but of itself alone. . . .
To make a slug of whiskey, you pour some whiskey on ice. (Lately the fashionables have been saying "whiskey on the rocks"; suffer them patiently. But do not let tolerance get out of hand. A few months ago in Chicago, at a once respectable bar, I was offered "Whiskey on the Blarney Stone"--the ice was colored green. Let the place be interdicted and its proprietor put to the torture.) The slug of whiskey is functional; its lines are clean. Perhaps the friend for whom you make it will want two or three drops of bitters. Fine: there is no harm in bitters, so long as they are Angostura--all others are condiments for a tea-shoppe cookbook. If he wants fruit salad in it, remind him that cocktails are drunk, not eaten, but go along with him as far as a thin halfslice of orange or, better, one of lemon peel. Deny him pineapple, cherries, and such truck as you would cyanide. If he asks for sugar, tell him you put it in to begin with, and thereafter be wary of your dealings with him. For sugar means he is backsliding and will soon cross the frontier to join the heathen, with bottles of grenadine and almond extract in his pack. But before you give a slug of whiskey to anyone be sure that it is cold. Cocktails are cold.

Sure, there is some dated stuff in here (the book was published in 1951): DeVoto is NOT a feminist, and his distaste for olives in a martini can be a bit precious. But overall, this a thoroughly amusing polemic about that magical hour when day turns into night, work ends, and the best meal of the day is on the horizon. Thank you, Tin House Books, for keeping me from having to pay $100 online for an out-of-print edition of this quirky gem of a book.

Want to know the other cocktail? You'll have to buy the book here.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Poem of the Week by Jack Spicer

Let's start the week off with a little Spicer, shall we?  This is from my vocabulary did this to me: the Collected Poetry of Jack Spicer (Wesleyan University Press, 2008).

Aquatic Park
A Translation for Jack Spicer

A green boat
Fishing in blue water

The gulls circle the pier
Calling their hunger

A wind rises from the west
Like the passing of desire

Two boys play on the beach

Their gangling legs cast shadows
On the wet sand

Sprawling in the boat

A beautiful black fish.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


Appropriated from Tom Gauld & The Guardian Saturday Review, all the way over on the other side of the pond.