Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Unsung Copyright Page

This morning as I was dashing around the house, getting dressed and combing my hair and pulling my bag together, I said to Bill, "Oh no, I don't have a single idea in mind for Publishing Wednesday on the Cabinet today!" and he said "What about something on the copyright page?" and I am not ashamed to admit that I looked at him like he was crazy. Like, isn't that the most boring thing in a book, and would anyone care?

Now, what he had in mind was an explanation of the elements on the page--how all those little numbers mean printings, and that kind of thing--and so, in the absence of any other ideas, I sat down at the computer with a vague notion of putting together some such thing. And maybe I will, someday, but not today. Because today I have gotten enjoyably sidetracked by the quite surprising beauty of this seemingly innocuous and dull little book element.

These are images of pages of results from what happens if you type "copyright page" into google image search. And can I be alone in thinking that they have a quite, breathing elegance all their own?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Red Dress

The other day I wore a red dress that I've had for ages. I first bought it, impulsively, for Valentine’s Day, I think it was in 2002—Bill and my first Valentine’s together—in a little shop on Colusa Avenue, just off Solono, in Berkely. I wore it, and brought over my corduroy-and-denim patchwork quilt (my own baby quilt, which has never been far from my life for long, and which Mabel now sleeps under at night) to Bill’s apartment, and we went and got Italian food from our favorite Italian restaurant in the Mission, Il Cantuccio, and brought it back and had a dinner picnic on the floor. I thought the dress was seriously sexy at the time. And while I still think it's quite winsome, standards of what’s provocative change in a decade. In '02 we were still practically in the 90s, the era of huge flannel shirts and even huger pants, and knee-high black boots still seemed like daring quasi-dominatrix-wear, rather than the wardrobe staple of every woman on earth they would become. Anyhow, I dug it out of the closet, and wore it, and it turns out these days it suits quite well for the office with tights and oxfords and a cardigan. I was pleased as heck to discover how much I still like it. A nearly ten-year old dress that still feels really wearable and good. Pretty rare.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Picnic Baby

Going back in time a ways we find Mabel at a Memorial Day Picnic (her daddy just visible in the background). With Labor Day on the horizon now its funny to think how much she has evolved in one short summer. At this picnic crawling was an ambition, though not yet a reality, to be pursued on the grass with gusto. Now of course she walks. Crazy.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

This Week's Poem in the Series About the Autumn of 2005

October 4, 2005
Went out to dinner with Jen and Kristen last night

To a restaurant full of pumpkins and sunflowers
where a friendly young woman sommelier picked out our wine
I want to describe what this white wine tasted like
but I don’t want to sound like a ponce
Here goes
Mild and rich and mellow
a flatness to the flavor which was almost metallic
but in a warm way
copper as opposed to stainless steel
and a flavor of unsweet fruit
toasted figs or raisins or unripe pear
And in place of that standard butter flavor was
Cream? Grass? Sunshine?
Damn it’s hard to articulate taste
But hey
I can tell you
in the ladies room
there was a photo of Sophia Loren cooking spaghetti

This morning on my walk to work
there was the cat among the pumpkins
Lately the guy at the bodega nextdoor
wheels this cart out onto the sidewalk each morning
and on the cart is a bale of hay
and on top of the hay are some pumpkins for sale
and sitting in among the pumpkins the past few mornings has been this cat
a small brown tortoiseshell type cat who lives in the store
doing his imitation of an autumnal picture postcard

The morning light has changed from last week to this
as late as a quarter to eight on my way to work now
it’s darker in the canyons between the buildings
and the brightness at their tops is
golden and honeyed
rather than
white and bright
now the sun is shining up onto their top halves
from somewhere down near the horizon
rather than down upon them from high up in the sky

And it’s dark as night out in the street now
when we sit and have our breakfast at six thirty
at the table near the window
the lights shine out from the coffee shop across the way
and the sky gets incrementally brighter as we eat
There’s so much that’s nice about it really
but we’re always so tired and I'm always sort of miserable so early
But the sitting across from each other is good
and the spoons and bowls and napkins
The jelly jar of sugar on the table when we have cold cereal
The flowered tablecloth

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Art of the Spine

Ah, spines. Overlooked by many, bur certainly not by any publisher or book designer worth their salt. My father recently featured the above and below photos, which he took in the library where he works (yes, the editor is the child of a librarian and an english teacher--the proverbial apple not falling far from the proverbial tree), on his admirable blog Spencer Alley:

They reminded me, not only how much I like book spines. But also of the fantastic art produced by two fine artists: Jane Mount's Ideal Bookshelves, which are personal and evocative and beautiful:

And Nina Katchadourian's Sorted Books which are clever and wry and at times laugh-out-loud funny:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Summer Vacation!

A few random highlights from last week's trip down the coast, which included stops at Pescadero, Santa Cruz (above), Big Sur (below), Hearst Castle (second image below), Moro Bay, and San Juan Bautista (bottom image). 

Great Big Baby

Here is Mabel, a week before her birthday, showing off her myriad young-toddler accomplishments: wearing shoes, picking flowers, WALKING(!), rocking big kid clothes like jeans and a puffy vest and a monkey hat. Where did the little baby go? Out of the everywhere, into here.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Style by Kate Spade

Ok, I admit it. Even for me, it's a stretch to call Style, by Kate Spade, an art book. It's a book about fashion and getting dressed. But, hell, I don't care. It's visual and it's charming and it's illustrated with the loveliest little watercolors. Not to mention, it has terrific endpapers:

My favorite part of this book are the pages about colors. The color combinations, where she suggests what colors to pair with your blue or yellow or what-have-you garments are actually incredibly useful.

Mabel helped me take these pictures. Can you tell?

Then there are various sections about dressing for different situations, different seasons, etc. All quite pleasing. And because the focus here is on a very classic sort of style, it still feels quite fashionable, even though the book came out back in 2004.

This book also introduced me to the concept of "forever clothes"--those very few pieces you will keep for always and never get rid of (in my case its a black sweater with marabou feathers at the neckline that I've had since I was about sixteen).

Kate Spade (the company, not the person) also has one of the best corporate blogs I've seen, Behind the Curtain, and a great Tumblr, too, if you're looking for more colorful inspiration.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Yet Another Poem in the Series About Fall 2005

October 3, 2005
One of the singular pleasures of my whole year was this weekend

The big library book sale at fort mason
Where we’ve gone every year
for the past five years
Saturday we spent seven hours
came home on the bus
lugging two large canvas tote bags
full of forty-six books
for ninety-six dollars
Myriad joys make up the day
Anticipation beforehand
thinking ahead to the cart and the map
The way the light diffuses
into the big high warehouse space above your head
filled with white girders and rafters
And of course the books
row upon row
stretching to a vanishing point
seen from one angle as
all spines
or from another as
endless bottoms of pages
The long tables made of bowing plywood
laid across old cardboard fruit cartons
(which are in turn all full of more books)
The tactility of it
the picking up and putting down
The feel of paper under your fingers
The heft in the hand
The quiet state of slowly inching down each aisle
engaged in constant mental activity
reading spines
moving slow but evaluating fast
throwing volumes into the cart with wild abandon 

image source is here

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

In Praise of Board Books

Apparently we're having something of a baby themed week, here, this week (perhaps due to the Dear Child's immanent birthday). To balance out yesterday's screed about nursing in public, today for Publishing Wednesday I thought we'd have a nice gentle post about board books. Now let me be clear: I know next to nothing about children's publishing--despite the fact that the publisher I work for makes many fine children's books. It is a different world of book making and one I wouldn't presume to comment on. All I know about are the books I loved in my own childhood and the new books we've discovered since the baby came. And man oh man does Mabel love her board books. Below a few of the favorites in current heavy rotation at our house:

 ABC Baby Me!

 A Book of Sleep

 Caps for Sale

 Global Babies / Bebes del Mundo

 In My Nest

 Urban Babies Wear Black

Where is the Green Sheep?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


I don't normally advocate consumer products--ok, except for books--here on the Cabinet. But I just can't let the chance go by to sing the praises of the nursing tops made by the Swedish company Boob. They first came to my attention when Joanna Goddard talked about them over on Cup of Jo. She has also written very cogently about breastfeeding in public (image below is from her piece on the subject).

And I wholeheartedly agree with her assessment that it is a lovely, freeing, and empowering thing to be able to do. Further, I have grown to really hate all those elaborate apron- and cape-like garments that American women are encouraged to drape about themselves for the purpose--they just draw more attention while at the same time being oddly shaming. And the fact that, in the twenty-first century, there is still any shame or embarrassment around this most natural of activities just makes me see red.

Which, I suppose, is why we must look to Europe for this oh-so-simple yet ingeniously designed shirt with the two simple pieces, one that lifts up and one that lifts down. Making everything easy while preserving virtually 100% modesty. Why? Why must we pay top dollar for these imported garments at the wonderfully friendly yet often-sold-out tiny web store Stockholm Objects? Why are these shirts, or something very much like them not available at every Target in the land?

Because breasts in this country are way way over-sexualized? Because we still have weird Puritan hang-ups 392 years after the Mayflower? At the risk of falling into the old oh-America-is-neurotic-and-Europe-is-awesome-and-have-you-been-to-the-topless-beaches-in-the-south-of-France? cliche, well, um, yes. Pretty much.

So I guess its rather fitting that the photos I dug up of myself, and Mabel, making use of a Boob shirt happen to be on the steps of St. Peters in Rome. Actually, wait, make that in The Vatican City--not exactly a place known for its social liberalism, and yet did anyone flinch? Did anyone even notice? Nope.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Out for a Stroll

Something which we really love whenever we see it out in the world is when a baby goes out for a walk with its parents, just being held in arms (as opposed to being popped into a stroller or carrier or other baby-lugging device). And yet Bill and I do this with Mabel relatively rarely. Which makes it an all the more special treat when we do just head out the front door and take a little jaunt down the block--in this case for an impulse purchase of frozen chicken pot pies at the corner store.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Mourners

Today's book, The Mourners: Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy by Sophie Jugie, is quite simple, and quite amazing, and quite simply amazing. Not only are the sculptures it depicts astonishing works in their own right--their humanity of gesture and tenderness of line are truly remarkable--but they are also photographed with notable sensitivity, to the point where we feel we are looking at people, rather than at statues. Also, I love the fact that all the art historical text and supplementary images are all ganged up together in the frontmatter, leaving the main central body of the book free to just be page after page of images. Well played.