Thursday, October 27, 2011

Halloween: I can't stop loving it.

Every year I talk way too much about Halloween. This year is no exception. This week's Affordable and Interesting item is Exhibit A:

Vampires! Or vampyres, as the case may be. We have plenty of vampire-related paraphernalia at the store, and this is one of the cheaper items, at a mere $9.50. This book is composed of both brilliance and kitsch: the cover is a bit puffy, and that blue eye you see shimmers in the most unearthly way. Within, we discover many an image of vampires through the ages, plus exciting visual tricks such as this:

Watch that picture of a man in the lower right corner. Watch it ... watch it ... and as we tilt the book to a new angle, see that he becomes:

... a wolf! Haha! Beware! While some people believe that vampires and werewolves are forever opposed, others believe that vampires are werewolves: they can turn into wolves. But that's not all. The book also has other tricks up its sleeve. Note how the left edge of those pages are folded over in a narrow strip. The strip bears the images of other animals that vampires can turn into -- from spiders to bats. When I unfold the strip, I discover:

... a pop-out butterfly! It seems that in some traditions vampires can also be butterflies. I will never look at local fauna the same way again.

Awesome as that book is, it is not my Favorite thing this week. No, my favorite is more elegantly creepy:

Creepy ... and beautiful! It is a candle-holder to end all candle-holders. For only $25.00 you can carry the most Gothic, elegant light source that could ever be imagined. Picture yourself, holding this candle-holder before an old dim mirror. The flame flickers. A vampyre launches itself from the shadows. Briefly panicked, you turn and thrust the candle in its face! There is a flash; the vampyre shrieks and collapses into a pile of ash. Fire is their weakness, you see. So this candle-holder could save your life!

Okay, I'm trying not to let Halloween colonize this whole entry. And there is something else really cool in the store these days ... a Collector's Item that would be especially perfect for someone who collects perfume:

It seems that New York's exquisite, world-famous Metropolitan Museum of Art decided to collate all the art that had to do with perfumes ... and then make a lovely book about them. But there is so much more to this than just a book. You see, it also comes with:

... a legion of scented oils! For $40.00, you can purchase these pretty vials of scented oil, ranging from orange-flavor to various spices ... and also you will get a lushly illustrated book to go with them. The whole is tied with a green silk ribbon, and unfolds into this picturesque tableau:

I am nearly apoplectic from wanting this book so much. I love the Metropolitan Museum, I love scents, I love art. Who could ask for anything more? Seriously, gentle readers. Who?

Well, Halloween will be over by the next time I write. So this is Lydia, signing off. My costume this year is a fallen angel. But sometimes I think I should just bite the bullet and be a vampyre.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ready for Halloween? Us too.

Halloween is, hands down, my favorite holiday of the year. I love it more than I can possibly express to you. You may recall that we have a waxwork monk here at the bookstore, name of Jerome. Jerome also loves Halloween, and this year he's decided to go as the Grim Reaper:

See that scythe leaning beside Jerome? I don't know where it came from, but it's a nasty piece of work. I'm hoping that if anyone tries to rob the store, they'll either run screaming when they realize that we're guarded by Death himself ... or they'll trip on that scythe, cut themselves accidentally and get tetanus. We don't get robbers much here at O'Gara and Wilson, but it kinda makes me wish we did.

But so many things are Affordable and Interesting at this here bookstore, I can't imagine why anyone would steal anything! Like this:

"Watchmen" is a classic graphic novel, famous in its genre. It features a cast of aging and disillusioned heroes who grapple with madness, mortality and other all-too-human concerns as they are called upon to save the world one more time. It's known for being gritty and cynical ... for example, this character:

... is shown in the above picture with his desk covered by little commercial action figures of himself. "Watchmen" was inevitably made into a movie, and I recently saw it on an excellent list of 10 disturbingly brilliant graphic novels. Buy it from us for $12.50.

I'm glad we got another week of warm days -- although I said in our last blog entry that I was scared I wouldn't get to go to the Dunes, it was warm enough this past weekend that I frolicked on the beach. But soon enough I'll be needing this week's Collector's Item!

Want to grind ice the old-fashioned way? Thanks to our unique bookstore, you can have that experience. You can make snow-cones powered only by the strength of your arms! You can't have our action figure of Mr. Bill, though. We're having too much fun putting him in dangerous situations around the store. Look how he clings to the side of the ice grinder, desperately trying to save himself from its teeth!

"Run!" I can imagine Mr. Bill telling us. "Save yourself!" Poor Mr. Bill. You could relieve his peril by purchasing the antique ice grinder for $60.00. I'll tell him you're coming, and he'll be so grateful. Until we put him in another awful situation ....

I think my next blog theme should be "blackmailing readers into saving Mr. Bill by purchasing our wares". Hmm .... The possibilities abound! Come back in two weeks and you'll see just how much they abound.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Oh, the saucy Roaring Twenties!

Today when I came in, Doug showed me this week's Favorite right away, and included free commentary: "Look at where that gentleman is putting his hand! That's why they called 'em the Roaring Twenties."

Oh, we can be saucy at O'Gara and Wilson, yes we can! Especially when we look at Chicago's history, which is about as saucy as it gets. Along with the above slim volume on the history of Chicago's music, we have received a number of issues of "Chicago History" magazine:

The above issue's cover features one of those beautiful old posters for the South Shore Line and the Indiana Dunes .... I was meaning to try and get out to see the Indiana Dunes before the last heat of summer vanished, but then the last heat of summer vanished. (Is it just me, or was the change of seasons particularly abrupt this year?) We have an assortment of other "Chicago History" issues from decades as diverse as the 1970s and the ... um ... early 2000s (was last decade the new "oughts"?). Each issue (and the music book) costs $7.50. If you have a Chicago history fan in your life (and if you're reading this blog then you almost certainly do!), one of these would make such a thoughtful gift.

Of course, the Chicago music history book could also go to a music-lover. As could this week's Affordable and Interesting items:

Here at ye olde bookstore, we often trade in antique objects that are not books, including old vinyl records. Since we don't know anything about records, we sell them for $3.00 apiece and rarely attempt to ascertain their true value. We just pulled in a new batch ... and while I'm not the most educated music fan, even I recognize names like Eric Clapton and Three Dog Night. Also, I know a ridiculously awesome 1970s collage when I see one. Way to go, Iron Butterfly!

Jon Arnold, a store regular who likes to tease me by pretending to be scoundrel competing in an Indiana Jones-style arms race for magical antiquities, had lots of fun sorting our records. He also told me the origins of the band name for Three Dog Night -- apparently, the band is from Australia, where nights can be cold; on cold nights, many people bring their dogs to sleep in bed with them. Thus, a very cold night is a three-dog night. Here are a couple great album covers from those guys:

Someone's been looking at too many melting clocks ....

Gotta love those decorated capitals.

And as a final note, can I just say that I love this image from a collection called Top Of The Rocks?

Makes me think sentimentally of my childhood favorite film, "Yellow Submarine". It truly does.

Finally, I would like to meet the collector who would collect this week's Collector's Item:

You may wonder what it is! Well might you ask. It is a picture of an African woman, made entirely from the wings of moths and butterflies. As a vegan who is opposed to animal cruelty, I want to be more horrified than I am ... this piece is so beautiful that I'm drawn to it anyway, somewhat to my shame. $40.00, and perfect for your favorite lepidopterist.

Oh, but I'm ashamed! Shame drives me from this blog, verily. I'll catch you again soon, gentle readers. In the meantime, please consider eating some tofu for me. It would make me feel so much better.