concept to publication

Month: November 2008

Friday roundup | Duly Quoted

“Every separation is a link.” — Simone Weil

Duly quoted

  • “Buying books would be a good thing if one could also buy the time to read them in: but as a rule the purchase of books is mistaken for the appropriation of their contents.” — Arthur Schopenhauer (courtesy El Blogador)

Recently Incoming


Duly quoted (Thanksgiving edition)

turkey man

Why did Franklin want to make the turkey the national bird? There has been a massive coverup by historians, extending over 200 years and perpetrated in the name of some wrongheaded notion of morality, or of keeping our founding demigods safely sexless. The fact is that Franklin married a turkey and fathered eleven part-poultry children. The mixed-species children were known collectively as Franklin’s poultroons….
— James Donnelly


image via The Arrow


What typeface says “Bali”?

“BALI” is a word that poses some problems typographically. The wide BA combination makes a lot of white space, while the LI tends to be narrow and sticklike. Furthermore, nobody seems to sure what kind of type connotes Bali. (You can confirm this by searching Amazon for books with “Bali” in the title — not many are great.)

I’m starting to think about this for a book that is more than a year off (maybe this is a way of avoiding current projects!). I like the way the word looks with some of the sans serif faces, like Avenir, but when I tested this on a few readers (notably, the author) none of them preferred this treatment.

Right now (and this is very preliminary) I’m here:

Bad sex

Which author wrote these lines about a lover’s vagina?

[It] did not feel like Phyllis’s. Smoother, somehow simpler, its wetness less thick, less of a sauce, more of a glaze . . .

Five centuries of board games

game of the goose

Every so often Mr. Peacay of BibliOdyssey exceeds even his high standards, and then one just has to call attention once again to his excellent site. BibliOdyssey is devoted mainly to prints and book illustrations, but for this post on board games he has selected 34 favorites from the British Museum’s Prints Database.It’s a wonderful selection ranging from the 16th through the 20th century.

I’m always partial to late Medieval – Early Renaissance illustrations similar to the one shown above. Well, according to the British Museum, which dates it to the 18th century, this one is actually a fair bit later than that, but to my eye it’s in the style of earlier woodblock illustrations. Peacay describes the board as a “simplistic spiral arrangement of game squares in an anonymous board produced in the 1700s.”

Friday Roundup

Text here


Cronopios and Famas

Julio cortazar, drawing by thomas christensenThe post title is a Cortazar allusion (hard to explain, you just have to read Julio). It seems President-elect Obama phoned President Cristina Fernandez of Argentina, and in the course of their conversation he expressed his admiration for super-cronopio Julio Cortazar.

Cortazar’s Around the Day in 80 Worlds was my first book-length literary translation. We corresponded a bit but he died before the project was completed.

Wow! A literary president!


image by tc


Poetry Elect

walcott's collected poems in the clutch of barack obama

Above is a picture of our President Elect clutching a book of Derek Walcott’s Collected Poems. Nice to see a president at least in the company of literature. I’m happy we elected a person who as candidate championed the power of words.

The book looks unopened and was probably a gift, but no doubt Mr. Obama will dive into the text shortly. Here’s an example of what he might find.

Love After Love
by Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.


via Telegraph UK


Photoshop tutorial: how to extend a graduated background

bamboo basket, "Inside Out," 2006, by Ueno Masao

Some photographs — like this one of “Inside Out,” 2006, by Ueno Masao (b. 1949; Kanto region: active in Kamogawa, Chiba Prefecture; madake bamboo, rattan, and gold leaf, Asian Art Museum, gift of Ueno Masao and Tai Gallery, 2006.41, photograph by Kaz Tsuruta) — set an object against a background that subtly blends from darker to lighter tones. (The photo appears in the book Masters of Bamboo.)

In page layout you might want to fit this vertical image into a more horizontal space without losing any of the image. For a long time I struggled with the best way to accomplish this in Photoshop.

Friday Roundup

“Honour commercio’s energy yet aid the linkless proud, the plurable with everybody.” — Finnegans Wake



Shepard Fairey at Gingko Press

Here’s a familiar image:

barack obama by shepard fairey

It’s by Shepard Fairey. My friend Ellen, who works at Gingko Press (currently located in Marin County but soon to move to Berkeley), informs me that the press has reprinted a choice selection of Fairey’s work that is selling so fast they can’t keep it on the shelves. The monograph was originally published in a limited edition paperback in Japan. According to the Gingko site, the book “documents Shepard Fairey’s career from his creation of the Giant phenomenon [THE GIANT HAS A POSSE] up to and including the advent of Black Market, a San Diego design agency Fairey formed with Dave Kinsey and Philip Dewolff.”

Best wishes, Merle

merle haggard by tom christensen

I hear Merle Haggard is recuperating in Bakersfield following surgery for a cancerous growth on his lung. Merle is one of the most soulful singers in the tradition of Lefty Frizell (as opposed to the crappy twangy pop junk that passes for country today). There aren’t many of those guys left. I did the drawing above — I don’t think it’s finished yet — to express wishes for a speedy recovery.


I also added him to my more or less endless stream of quotations.


Web woes

crying baby

Over the past several days at least four of my blogs have been producing “error establishing a database connection” messages. This has been caused by server-wide loss of the mysql database connection at my host, midphpase, who claims the problem is now fixed. For how long, who knows? (Html pages, like my top-level home,, have, of course, not been affected by this.)

To top off my web annoyances,

Friday roundup

“Words do inspire, words do help people get involved, words do help members of Congress get into power so that they can be part of a coalition to deliver health-care reform, to deliver a bold energy policy. Don’t discount that power.” — Barack Obama


Advice to the victors

wilde on forgiveness


But we can make an exception for Joe Lieberman.




BTW, There are a few quotations here at as well, including this one from Wilde.



obama-mccain electoral map

Congratulations to Barack Obama and his campaign on their landslide victory, but even more so to the USA, which has taken a great step forward out of the depths of the past eight miserable years.

Obama’s win is being celebrated as a great moment in race relations and a triumph for black people. It is those, surely, which is wonderful and exquisitely moving.

At the same time, it’s worth remembering that America did not just select a black (as we strangely call a person with one black parent) president. It also selected a man who distinguished himself as steady, focused, capable, sensible, and eloquent. In a television interview, Obama colleague Valerie Jarrett spoke of his “core decency.” None of these are words we have heard in connection with our presidency in a long time.

So good on us.


map via


Dixville Notch goes Obama

Dixville Notch, first polling place in the nation since 1960, announces its results: McCain 6, Obama 15.

Obama’s 9 votes up, so now he just has to run out the clock!

Ubu Roi, book binding by Marcel Duchamp and Mary Reynolds

ubu roi binding

Mary Reynolds (1891-1950) was an innovative book binder who for three decades enjoyed a relationship with Marcel Duchamp described by friends as “happier than most marriages.” Susan Glover Godlewski has written about her life and career, and examples of her work can be seen at the Mary Reynolds Collection (affiliated with the Art Institute of Chicago).

A post at Ordinary finds called this extraordinary binding for Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi (Ubu the King) to my attention. It quotes the Reynolds Collection:

This binding is perhaps the best known and most successful of the collaborations between Reynolds and Duchamp. On November 26, 1934, Duchamp visited his close friend Henri-Pierre Roché in Arago and excitedly reported on a binding that he had just designed for Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi that Mary Reynolds was going to execute. Reynolds and Duchamp created out of the binding itself an extraordinarily clever pun. Both the front and back covers are cut-out “U’s” covered in rich earth tones; the spine is a soft caramel B. The endpapers are made of black moiré silk. A gold crown, signifying the puppet king, is imprinted on the front flyleaf and visible through the front cut-out “U”. The author’s name is imprinted in gold on the back flyleaf and is similarly visible through the back U. The binding spread open spells “UBU.” Reynolds must have spent considerable time executing this binding. We know from a letter from Duchamp, responding to a question from Katharine Kuh, that the binding was not completed until 1935. It is expertly and lovingly crafted. Both Duchamp and Reynolds were so pleased with the final work, that another copy was bound identically for the American collectors Walter and Louise Arensberg (Philadelphia Museum of Art).

ubu roi


Paris: Librairie Charpentier et Fasquele, 1921. Binding: morocco, levant, and niger (goatskins) with silk and glassine endpapers. Mary Reynolds Collection, MR 253.


Ordinary Finds – Book binding for Ubu Roi by Alfred Jarry


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