Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy All Hallow's, gentle readers!

Happy Halloween! Joan came in wearing a blood-stained lab coat and I'm sitting here in a brocade Renaissance gown. We had candy, too, but it went fast (I think a few of the little rugrats took double handfuls while I wasn't looking). (Hey Alessandra, was your male child out tonight in a wizard costume? If so, he came in and said hi -- and was well-behaved, even!)

Anyway, books only this week, I promise. The canes have been going like hotcakes, though -- Doug had to bring in a new batch this week.

I have no idea what kind of lead-in to use for this week's Favorite, so I'll just give the photo first:

We have a pretty small graphic novels section, and I thought I knew pretty much everything that was in there -- until I discovered this graphic novelization of Wagner's Ring Cycle. (In the unlikely event that you have never heard of the Ring Cycle, click here to find out more.) I'm not really one to enjoy opera (believe me, I've tried), but I've often thought that the story of the Ring Cycle sounds stirring and magnificent, and wished that I could get into it. This might be the key! It even boasts an introduction by Brian Kellow of the "Opera News", which notes that "The Norse and Teutonic legends that Wagner took as his source material are chock full of dragons, gnomes, gods and goddesses: certified comic-book material," and asks, "Is there any other composer's work as cinematic as Wagner's?" I wouldn't know, but I do know that I'm tempted by the comic version (at $10.00) ... I'm especially tempted to buy it for my comic-reading boyfriend, but I'm scared that he'd call me a nerd.

I'm also tempted to use this Affordable but Interesting book to design a standard for Brunnhilde:

I really like the phrase "Everything you ever wanted to know about [whatever] but were afraid to ask", partly because it can be hilarious to apply it to obscure things like heraldry. I can't say I ever especially wanted to know anything at all about heraldry, actually ... still, when I open this book at random and start reading, it's hard to stop. Apparently snakes are often heraldically connected to medicine! And look at all the different standard lion poses:

They all actually signify something!

The book has subsections for many individual countries, a bit about heraldry-related laws, and even something on modern applications of heraldry (apparently the Lego headquarters have constructed the local standard entirely from Legos in their front entryway). (This last reminds me of a crazy site I saw a while back [click here], which suggested that we create a heraldic lingo for corporate logos. It's somewhat preposterous, but fun from a design standpoint.) So, if you have any questions on heraldry that you were afraid to ask, they can be answered right here for $15.00.

We've got a few really nice new Collector's Items this week, but I think I'm going to go with this unique one:

Apparently, back in the 1800s, there were many students too poor to afford books they needed for their studies. The solution? Go to the library, of course. But if they really needed the book and couldn't spend all their time in the library, then they'd take a drastic step: they'd copy out the book by hand. So this little black copy-book, which looks like nothing special, actually contains some memoirs of the French Revolution, written out in longhand by some 1820s kid with gorgeous handwriting:

As a calligrapher, I think I could learn a lot from this book, but I think I'll leave it for a French historian (or at least a French speaker). It's the kind of unusual piece that might make a good gift, or would at least send a French Revolution collector into paroxysms of joy -- and only for $125.00. So I feel as though it would be selfish of me to snap it up.

Now it's dark, gentle readers, and time for me to run off to the North Side. This year's Halsted Parade is all about dragons. I'm excited -- with luck, I'll get to battle one!

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