Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Crimson wizards and Ruby daughters

I love it when Chicago is warming up. It puts everyone in a good mood. And yet, as always, I am so attracted to evil and darkness ....

That's the Chicago skyline, for those of you who don't live around here. I post it because we have a great Affordable and Interesting collection of short stories today ... all about Chicago noir. That's even the title! Chicago Noir! As the back says, "These stories tell of a Chicago beyond Oprah, Michael Jordan, and deep-dish pizza." Each story is associated with a certain Chicago cross-street, too.

I opened the book at random and discovered this sentence: "After a while, he came to believe he'd conjured her whole, except for the aching sadness left by the turbulence of love suddenly and unexpectedly lost. That was real, real for both of them, real and terrifying too." Who could ask for anything more? This book is a steal at $6.00. (Edited by Neal Pollack; my quotation came from a story by Achy Obejas that's associated with 26th & Kedvale.)

My Favorite things around the store today are even more Chicago-themed:

Ah, John Dillinger. Never has another criminal captured my heart so ... or in fact the entire nation's. Dillinger was a Depression-era bank robber. He was eventually betrayed by his landlady, who was called "The Woman in Red", and shot in a North Side alley. But he was well-loved! Movies have been made (including one with Johnny Depp), and while looking for Dillinger pages that I could link you to, I discovered that there is an upcoming Chicago event on July 22 that will be hosted by the John Dillinger Died For You Society. Ladies in red get in half price.

Point being -- as you can see above, we've got a 1938 issue of the "Chicago Sunday Tribune" that will tell you all about Dillinger's life and times. You are seeing a scan of but a corner of the front cover; the whole paper will run you $60.00. If you want to spend much less on a 1938 "Tribune", we've also got this:

"The Crimson Wizard" was a radio show back in the day. It sounds like it was pretty awesome; here's a snip from this description:

The first season ran twelve weeks and starred Hugh Studebaker, one of Chicago's radio soap opera veterans as the lead. Maida Travers played by Donna Reade was a vocalist whose singing inspired Quill to give purpose to his life. Born a frightful hunchback, Peter Quill never ventured outside his laboratory. His discovery of invisible lightning involved him in a plot against The Red Circle to recover stolen battleship plans. ... The story begins in Washington, DC with the theft of the plans. The action moves to New York and the Jersey Coast, then across the Atlantic to the British Isles. The final showdown occurs in the Mediterranean Sea with a treasonous Peter Quill on a Red Fleet battleship. How did he get there? Was he a traitor? This was all a clever ruse to deceive The Red Circle who wanted him to use his invisible lightning against the free world.

The "Sunday Tribune" that features "The Crimson Wizard" is $17.50. It also features lots of purple prose, and a publicity photo from the show that is 100% pure 1938:

Oh, for the days when ladies smiled so fakely.

Finally, in the Collector's Item corner, we have an exhaustive examination of Shakespeare and precious stones. The title page:

This 1916 tome contains an enormous amount of analysis on a topic that I personally have never before thought to consider. As the author notes, "We find no trace in Shakespeare's works of any belief in the many quaint and curious superstitions current in his day regarding the talismanic or curative virtues of precious stones. This is quite in keeping with the thoroughly sane outlook upon life that constituted the strong foundation of his incomparable mind." That's good to know.

The book also discusses contemporary gem treatises; jewel thefts of Shakespeare's time; gem-cutting processes of Shakespeare's time; the jewels that belonged to royalty back then; and many other topics of interest. And in back, it tells us exactly which jewels come up in which plays and poems. Turquoise, for example, turns up once, in "The Merchant of Venice". (I'll be really impressed if any of you, gentle readers, know the quotation off the top of your head.)

Note that the author, George Frederick Kunz, dedicated the book to his daughter Ruby. The author has also inscribed this copy of the book to a friend; so our copy is signed, and yet it is still the cheapest copy on the market at $150.00.

Red is my favorite color! Maybe I should theme every blog entry after a color. Except I'll be bored now that I've already done red. Oh well. Something to think about for the future, certainly!


Adam Spiegel said...

FYI, Kunz is recognized as one of the greatest scholars of, and writers on, the subject of mineralogy. This is even though he had no formal education beyond high school. He wrote over 300 books and articles in his lifetime, and identified the gem variety of spodumene, which was named "kunzite" in his honor. Sounds like a great book.

O'Gara and Wilson said...

Thanks for the comment, Adam. Good to know!

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