c o l u m b i n a

"by her keen and active wit, she [ is ] able to hold her own in every situation and emerge with ease and dignity from the most involved intrigues." ~ Duchartre

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

what classic movie are you?

via the fourth story

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

the next world-wide best seller

...is Harry Da Vinci's Rings. Via bookslut.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

cleaning out the bookmarks

1) A beautiful Superman animated short. Very moving, very well-drawn. Only qualm is the quality of the soundtrack, which despite some shortcomings, ends up being extremely catchy. Via beautiful stuff.

2) John Stewart's take on Tom Ridge's resignation. Funny funny stuff which reminded me of the great short film of Ze Frank's Red Alert. Watch them together and enjoy.

3) Empire Online's Advent Calendar. Almost as good as chocolate and infinitely more festive.

4) Gothic perfumes at the Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, via WoT. Especially neat is the poetry section that served up the inspiration for the perfume names. Very cool illustrations too.

5) Word, drew. I had been psyched about the Mr. & Mrs. Smith remake until I heard who was attached. The trailer did nothing for me, and I'm glad I'm not the only one who caught the same True Lies tango music playing in the background.

6) I am a blurker. At more than one blog. Whew. Glad I got that off my chest.

7) Former Bletchley Park cryptographers take up Grail Hunting. Get over the silly Da Vinci Code hype, people. Please. It's not real. Was there this much ruckus caused when Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade came out?

books with stickers

in response to Tinka & co.'s bibliophile posting, let me just say those little award stickers have been the bane of my existence since childhood. Growing up as a library brat and firmly beginning my life-long tradition of spending far too much time amongst bookshelves and not enough in sunlight, I had an unfortunate habit as a youngster to attempt to pull the stickers off the books. (Due to watchful parents and guardians, I was never successful. But I came close.) Personally it seems silly to grant a book an award for its magnificent illustrations (such as Maurice Sendak's gorgeous Where the Wild Things Are) and then cover up those illustrations with a faux silver/gold/bronze things that instinctively you wish you could pull off instead of ineffectually scratch to no avail.

It's a continuing problem with children's literature, apparently; Marvelous Math: a Book of Poems unfortunately has a gold sticker covering half the face of a very cute elephant with a second indignity covering his upper leg. Poor Dumbo. Adult literature is not free from these fake stickers, either: recent Pulitzer winner The Known World has an unnecessary circle hovering in what used to be an open sky on its cover. The designer obviously has more taste than the previous children's book designer; they at least try to get the sticker to match the rest of the overall design. But still, it's invasive and off-putting. Write a line or two on the back that says how special it is. I don't want to see a circle blemishing my nice cover...

Jincy Willett's recent book on book awards has one of the more hideous and unimaginative covers I've seen in awhile and yet, I can't make up my mind if the shiny gold blob that graces the lower half is self-affacing and funny or just more bad design. I'll leave that to your own personal opinion, dear Reader.

Lastly, all this talk about labels reminded me that there are some books that use a trump l'oeil/sticker effect to the benefit of the overall design. The one that immediately popped into my head was Lenin's Brain, as designed by the great Michael Ian Kaye, which intentionally uses a label to cover up the most interesting part of the cover to up the tension/dramatic effect. (I might be biased because I'm a fan of his work, and I've heard him speak about his designs, including this one. But whatever.) In a similar vein, but maybe not as successful is the design for A Time of Our Singing. A very creepy kind of label-cover up seems to work well in Readerville's selection Back from the Dead but I personally enjoy the overlapping bits in a low-brow paste-up kind of way in 52 McGs more.

Any one else wish to address the stickers-on-book-covers issue??

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

unseen hands

via mirabilis, an exhibition on women in the book arts at Princeton's University Library. The revelation of women's contributions to book design and production is pretty nifty and complete with pictures. What is truly cool, however, is that for the past several weeks I've been trying to get a foot in the door with the university press, which just granted me a second interview earlier this week, and the tradition continues on: save for the man who runs the department, all the designers and the production manager I met were women. Huh.