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2. The Beautiful Fall: Lagerfeld, Saint Laurent, and Glorious Excess in 1970s ParisI enjoyed reading about the crazy lives of Yves Saint Laurent and (especially) Karl Lagerfeld. It was really funny to see the evolution of Lagerfeld's look over the years. Would have loved to have seen his various apartments and chateaus. The man has an iron will. At least, when he's not drinking 20 Coca-Colas per day and eating pounds of chocolate cake.
The one thing this book needed was more pictures. WAY more pictures. I'm sorry, I just don't have the capacity to visualize half of the crazy outfits described in this book. This book should have 100 pages of photos.
Shout out to the NY Times article which triggered my fascination w/ Lagerfeld:
The Jet Set Life of Karl Lagerfeld’s Favorite Male Model — for Now
NY Mag's incredulous reaction to said article:
Everyone in the Times’ Brad Kroenig Profile Is Gloriously Nuts
3. Cool ToolsThis is a marvelous catalog of tools, in the broadest sense of "tools." It is opulently large-format. Will not fit in your bag. I enjoyed reading the thoughtful entries on A Pattern Language and Infrastructure: A Field Guide-- both of these classics are given the treatment they deserve. Oh also, in the cooking section they recommend the complicated rice cooker favored by Mike Williams and Angi Chau. How can a rice cooker have so many buttons?
A lot of people I know would love this book.
4. The Old Man Mad about Drawing: A Tale of HokusaiQuite lovely. This is a graphic novel, but it's short... so not really a novel... it's a serious cartoon but also entertaining... I don't know exactly how to describe it because I haven't seen any other books like it. You should pick this up just for the art. It's a quick read and worthwhile.
5. Enduring PatagoniaInteresting guy, West Point to Army Ranger School to alpinist dirtbag
Does as good a job as any book I've seen on explaining the perverse appeal of alpinism
It still doesn't appeal though. Brr
Does make me want to go back to Patagonia. I've been but I feel like I never experienced "Patagonian weather" or anything like what's in this book
6. Iron War: Dave Scott, Mark Allen, & the Greatest Race Ever RunThis WAS a pretty epic race! Well told. Interesting digressions on how you can scientifically measure who can run through suffering the most. Average person quits when their mind says "you're exhausted." Iron-persons run way past that till their muscles are literally incapable of continuing. You can tell the difference by measuring "control entropy" which is how spastic their gait is. If truly spent w muscles giving out, gait becomes counter intuitively MORE regular (think when you get a cramp and have to limp-- you have less degrees of freedom, are forced to run in a particular way to compensate) Anyway, these guys are masters of suffering and after a 2.4 mile open water swim and 113 mile bike ride are able to run a marathon at a 6 min/mile pace. Just. Nuts.
7. Step Aside, Pops: A Hark! A Vagrant Collection Kate Beaton is the best. I LLOL'd (literally laughed out loud) many times while reading this. Also: a while back I was complaining how there's way too many comics about angsty 20-something bi-coastal urban hipsters, and hardly any comics about INTERESTING people. Beaton is not guilty of this. her comics are about literary characters, historical political figures, Ida B. Wells, Alexander Pushkin... mwah.
Also I loved the extended riff on the nasty boy from Janet's Jackson's "Nasty". St. Jude's Home for the Nasty... hahah
8. Learning to Fly: An Uncommon Memoir of Human Flight, Unexpected Love, and One Amazing DogI don't condone BASE jumping, but this book spoke to me. I guess cos of where I'm at. Gives one hope. Post-script 4/28/15: R.I.P. Mario Richard
9. Off the Wall: Death in Yosemite: Gripping Accounts of All Known Fatal Mishaps in America's First Protected Land of Scenic WondersFour stars for the data, one star for the writing. "And now, let's turn to some incidents that were truly... (dons sunglasses) off the wall." Weird moralizing about marijuana use aside, this is a fantastically researched and thoroughly fascinating compendium of fatal accidents in Yosemite, and obviously a labor of love.
Here's a chart that shows up at the end of the book, summarizing fatalities by category. I'm always amazed that people aren't more terrified by driving. Clearly getting in an car is one of the most dangerous things a human being can do.
The "homicide" chapter starts out with a bunch of Native American attacks against white people. I'd forgotten that Yosemite is named after the tribe that lived there! They weren't too fond of the newcomers trying to make a park out of their lands. It's weird to read about this bloody cycle of ambushes and reprisals that happened in the 1850's. 150 years doesn't seem THAT long ago does it?
If you're the kind of person who would read an encyclopedia of Yosemite fatalities, you will definitely enjoy The Hunt for the Death Valley Germans as well. It's a crazy, true story, told by this guy whose hobby is searching for the remains of people who got lost and are presumed dead, but whose remains were never found. ("Lost & Not Found," in the Yosemite book's taxonomy.) Contains the most chilling sentence I've ever read:
At this point they entered into a survival situation, but may not have fully appreciated that fact.Trust me, in context this is terrifying. I still think about that German family sometimes, lost in the hot desert with their young kids. They weren't crazy; they made a series of reasonable but flawed decisions, which made the situation gradually worse and worse until it was too late to recover. Could happen to you.
10. Blobby Boys #2Ever since Vice started publishing Schubert's Blobby Boys comics, I've really been into them. But if you asked me why, I couldn't really say. So it was nice to read Vice comics editor Nick Gazin's introduction to Blobby Boys #1, which I think hits it on the nose:
"Alex Schubert is one of my favorite new-ish cartoonists. There are things about his drawings that remind me of Gary Panter, like his poses and sometimes his lines, when he employs a ratty Panter line. There are things in his work that remind me of Clowes, particularly how everything in his panels is so clean, clear and intentional. I also similarities to Johnny Ryan in that he deals in characters who are fun loving misanthropes up to no good. Although his work reminds me of all of these great cartoonists his work doesn’t feel referential to them. His work references almost nothing we’ve known before. I mentioned that he shares Clowes’s intentionality. He creates everything he draws without referencing other people’s lexicon of pictographic shorthand.
For instance, in the "Cyber Surfer" comic he drew for me, me being me and the Vice website for which I serve as Comics Editor, the comic starts off with a few borderless panels of a stiffly drawn character. He then punches someones brains out and the way his brains comes out of his head is done in an entirely new way to me. Sure, he uses the cartoon cloud bubble but the way it’s portrayed is new. A few panels down from that he spies a trenchcoat and fedora lying on the ground. The way the coat is drawn is something I’ve never seen done before. He is making his own visual abbrevs.
Also, he is very funny and I love when his characters speak to each other. I realize now that I should have asked him to feature more of that in the comics he’s done for me/Vice. I think every comic he’s done for me has featured an isolated character talking to the reader. The sequence in the Blobby Boys comic book in which one of them oozes under a door to ask the inhabitant of the room if he wants to buy some drugs and the guy inside answers firmly but unsurprised, “No, who are you” kills me. So that’s why I like Alex’s work. I think he’s unpretentious, funny and his drawings are both good and original."
P.S. Schubert's other comic for Vice, Fashion Cat, is good too
Love the whimsical illustrations
Arnold Lobel is one of the greats.
2. Mr. Wuffles
If you've ever wondered why your cat ignores all the nice squeaky toys you give it and you always wonder why the cat is stalking around mysteriously after some invisible prey... answers within.
I like how terrifying the cat looks in this book, from the littler creatures' point of view. It's true! If you were tiny, a house cat would be very frightening.
3. President Taft is Stuck in the BathFunny cos it's true
4. The Fantastic Adventures of KrishnaBeautiful illustrations. Each page is a filagreed painting. I found myself transfixed by the imagery. The kids were rapt as well.
The wicked King Kamsa of Mathura has got to up his game, though. Every time he tries to think of a way to kill Krishna he comes up with the same thing! How many snake demons can you send before you realize, snake demons are not the right approach here?
Self-link (this still makes me laugh): The many faces of Krishna
5. Take Me Out to the Yakyu
This book implies that Japan is superior technologically to the US. The American dad wears a crap analog watch whereas the Japanese "ji-ji" has a state of the art digital (and also his tickets are on his cellphone, and also they ride to the game in a bus that becomes a train!)
Also Japan has better ballgame food
But the Americans live in a bigger house and they get foamy fingers that say we're #1
America: WE'RE #1 (in foamy fingers)
6. Would You Rather...
This book features Burningham's trademark light-hearted whimsical funny-but-you-can't-put-your-finger-on-w
a) eat SPIDER stew
b) taste SLUG dumplings
c) chew mashed WORMS
d) or drink a SNAIL shake
One of my favorite parts was "would you rather a hippo sleep in your bed? OR an eagle eats your dinner? OR a pig tries on all your clothes? OR an elephant drinks all your bath water?" We'd just come from the zoo, where we'd seen an enormous lazy hippo floating in the water. So the outrageous situation of a hippo sleeping in one's bed was chillingly easy to imagine. It would really be annoying! I think my kids would pick "eagle eats your dinner" cos yay, then they don't have to eat.
Is John Patrick Norman McHennessy a big fat liar? Did a lion really tear away his satchel? Did a flood really ruin his clothes? Did his teacher really get snatched by an extremely large gorilla? So many questions. Very funny illustrations. I like when a kids book has an unreliable narrator.
Someday I'll make a list of 'ridiculous drawings of lions in children's books'. The lion from J.P.N.M.:T.B.W.W.A.L. will be in there.
8. But Excuse Me That Is My Book
I found this book very funny and as an avid bookworm/library user the story was right up my alley . Lauren Child has a way with dialogue. Lola (the younger sister) sounds breathless and verbose in a way that will be familiar to anyone with a kid of this disposition. Also, I like her illustrative style a lot, esp. the wobbly eyes and scribbly lines.
9. The Story of Little Babaji The story is a crock of racist stereotypes-- the book was originally called The Story of Little Black Sambo, for Christ's sake-- but I cracked up at Fred Marcellino's illustrations. Very amusing. Each tiger robs Lil' Babaji of one item of clothing, then proclaims himself the grandest tiger of them all. They all look so pleased with themselves! Asha really liked this book and demanded it be read several times.
10. Jim, Who Ran Away from His Nurse, and Was Eaten by a Lion
Does what it says on the tin. Kids young and older will be entertained and hopefully SCARED STRAIGHT
suggestion: replace "nurse" with "nanny" if you live in the U.S. in modern times
11. Grandfather's Journey
This book tells an interesting story. I liked the depiction of Grandfather's journey to California, and return to Japan. Really lovely watercolor illustrations. The girls and I enjoyed this.
12. Mr. Bear Squash-You-All-FlatThis bear is a total jerk!
|1. Be present||B|
|2. Cleaner living (less drinking etc)||D|
|3. Cook more||C-|
|4. Teach kids (Izzy at least) to swim and ride a bike||B|
|5. [REDACTED]||C |
|1. Sell the house, find a new place to live||A|
|3. Get through it||B|
|1. Go roped climbing outside||A+|
|2. Go bouldering outside||A|
|3. Get more v3s and at least one v4||A+|
|4. Get permanent belay card||A|
|5. Climb at all the touchstone gyms (east bay included)||A|
|1. Make a snowman||F|
|2. Take a bike repair class||F|