Wednesday, April 16, 2008

We all live in a yellow submarine.

I really am the bookish type. I've never been much for sports, or getting out in the healthy fresh air for that matter.* I like to sit hunched behind a computer like a gargoyle, or to curl up in a chair reading, far more than I like -- say -- football.** But I was still pleased to find this Affordable and Interesting program in the Sports section:

It's from the 1938 Twin City Football Championship, and it does list the official line-up for the game, which (judging from the scribbled pencil note on the front of the program) took place on November 11. More interesting to me, however -- as is frequently the case with these old, ephemeral things -- are the advertisements within the program:

Suits pressed for 25 cents! Complete full-course Thanksgiving dinner for 85 cents! Wow, those were the days. Beyond the gee-whiz factor of the prices, though, it's always fun to look at the style of antique advertisements. When was the last time you saw the words "Fun for the whole family!" used in a non-sarcastic manner? (1938, apparently.) I also find myself wondering how the Globe Business College would react if I called asking after the stenotype classes they advertised. Maybe they'd be willing to send us $3.00 for this little piece of history ... or maybe not. I guess it's more likely to appeal to a football fan.

Ten years later, we come to this week's Collector's Item:

Arkham House is one of the most famous genre presses in the world. Founded in the late 1930s, its original purpose was to keep the works of the late, great pulp author H.P. Lovecraft in print; it quickly expanded to other pulp titles, though. Their 1947-48 catalogue is rather humorously idiosyncratic ("We are too badly understaffed to do the necessary bookkeeping ...") and contains not only instructions (and harangues) for the press's subscribers, but also descriptions of the books Arkham had available at the time, announcements for upcoming books, and an adorable middle section:

Titled "Book Review" and accompanied by the above picture of a bug-eyed child, it seems to be a poem about the reader's fear that things from his ghost stories are coming to get him. Are all publishing house catalogues so filled with personality? $60.00 seems a paltry sum for such.

But my Favorite is from 15-20 years later still:

The Beatles' illustrated lyrics? Now this is some serious 60s nostalgia, here. Among other things, the variously-styled and -colored illustrations feature women with golden skin being chased by crocodiles who have butterflies coming from their mouths ... men with hands for moustaches and barbells for eyeglasses, or wings on their heads ... giant woodcut-style beetles (I mean, the insects) playing guitars. I'm not making this up:

Contributors include David Montgomery, Erté ... actually, rather than listing the contributors, I'll just show you a picture of the creature presenting their names:

There are also many random pictures of naked people, and imaginative portrayals of the Beatles themselves (cat ears all around!). And, of course, the Beatles' lyrics are printed throughout the book -- plus comments from the great men themselves (did you know that John always hated "Run For Your Life"?). I'm not really clear on how a man with hands for a moustache illustrates "Don't Let Me Down", but I try not to quibble about these things. For $15.00, you can secure this tome for yourself and ponder such mysteries on your own!

I now have the irrepressible urge to listen to Beatles music, but this bookstore is a dignified place and I'll try to wait till I get home. Listen to some Beatles for me in the meantime, gentle readers!

* This is a slight exaggeration for dramatic purposes.
** But football is still boring.

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