It’s been way too long since we had some Dany Brillant on this blog.
I do so adore his music.
We recently took the train into the mountains northeast of Seattle to visit the lovely tourist town of Leavenworth, Washington. Once an economically depressed logging town, Leavenworth has transformed itself into a Bavarian Getaway, with 18 various festivals and celebrations held throughout the year. There is always something to do at Leavenworth, except the weekend we visited. We arrived between events, and we had a wonderful time.
This last photo was either father & son, or more likely grandfather & son playing hide & seek. A good time was had by all.
It’s taken me a little longer than I expected to get back to my year in movies posts, but no worries, the movies I wanted to post about are old ones, anyway. To wit, two great screwball comedies.
The More the Merrier, from 1943, is set in Washington, DC during a wartime housing shortage that forces strangers to share apartments and get to know each other better than they had planned.
This is a film whose title always made me picture something chirpy and syrupy. Instead, it’s a just about perfect romantic comedy, smart and full of clever dialogue delivered with immaculate rhythm and understatement. Jean Arthur is absolutely charming as always, and Joel McCrea gives my favorite of his performances, shy, deadpan and very funny. It also has one of the steamiest movie kisses ever:
The 1934 film Kiss and Make Up, on the other hand, leans less toward smart sophistication and more toward zany absurdity. Watching the first fifteen minutes or so, I was thinking, This movie is preposterous. After about twenty minutes I thought, Oh, I get it – It is utterly preposterous. It’s like reading Kafka, you don’t try to understand it rationally, you just let it flow over you. The corned beef and cabbage, the rabbits, all of it. In the end, I came away completely satisfied, if a little dizzy. It also purports to have a message about society’s overemphasis on beauty, if you like a moral in your movies.
You can watch the entire movie online on the Edward Everett Norton myspace page.
Have I mentioned that The Healer, by Antti Tuomainen (and translated by yours truly) is scheduled for release in just a few weeks in the UK, and a few weeks later in the US?
Random House will also be releasing an audiobook, read by Simon Shepherd, and they’ve posted a preview (or is it a prelisten?) online:
Every year, Rick and I save all of our ticket stubs from plays, concerts, movies, trips – anything that requires a ticket – and look at them on New Year’s Eve to reminisce about all the fun tickety things we did over the course of the year.
Unlike in previous years, I’ve decided not to burden you this year by listing every movie I saw in the cinema all year long (last year it took two posts) and instead to just tell you about the very best films I saw, whether in the cinema or in our living room.
I’ll start with two, the Iranian film A Separation, which won last year’s Academy Award for best foreign film, and the American film Margaret, previously released in a very shortened version in theaters but finally made available in its entirety last year on dvd, and thus ineligible for Oscar consideration.
Here is the trailer for Margaret:
and A Separation:
Both of these films have a complexity of characterization that makes you marvel at how simple-minded most other movies are by comparison. I saw both of these previews in the theater and thought I’d been given a fairly thorough overview of the plot and issues each film was going to tackle. Then I watched them and realized that the trailers barely began to scratch the surface of the moral and emotional questions each film explores. I can’t recommend them highly enough.
What movies do you admire for making you think?
Antti Tuomainen’s The Healer, an atmospheric love story / sci-fi / crime novel set in a near-future Helsinki battling climate change and societal breakdown (and translated by yours truly) is available for pre-order! The UK edition comes out on February 7th, the US edition on May 14th.
I’m very eager to read the reviews. Dulwich Books in the UK says:
Tuomainen manages to make the decaying urban city another character in this crime thriller about eco terrorism and corruption and dishes out a truly surprising ending.
I’ll post links to any particularly interesting reviews as they appear.
I like the British cover, don’t you?
Phew! We’re done getting darker here in the North.
It all gets brighter from here, folks.
Let’s do like Edvard Munch did, and just appreciate this moment.
Go to a used bookstore and choose a cover that matches the size of your paper.
Remove the cover.
Save the bit of ribbon from top & bottom of the old spine.
Apply glue to the first page. This is the page that gets glued to the front cover.
Glue the page to the cover, pressing hard. I used a speedball roller.
Same with the back.
Trim the ribbon & the soft part of the old spine, then glue. Hold the entire thing in place with book repair tape.
I realize that this may not be your dream “How to make a book” tutorial, but this is the only way I know, and I’m quite pleased with the two books I’ve made so far. With this version I stained the pages with black tea to make them look old, and I’m going to add a library pocket + loan card from Miskatonic University to the back cover. The library pocket + loan card are available for free download courtesy of the most excellent H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society.
So that’s about it. Thank you for playing, and here’s a copy of my story for anyone who cares to read it.
For the setup on this project, please see part one.
You need a frame to hold three strings strung tight. I made this frame from an old spice rack and a cutting board. There are hooks or eye bolts at the top, and holes drilled through the board at the bottom. You need three very tight, parallel strings. The signatures get sewn to the strings.
Mark one signature at the strings. This is where to cut some holes for sewing.
Cut five shallow holes in all five signatures, three at the marks and one at each end. I held all five signatures together & sawed like it was a board, but the cut is very shallow, only a millimeter or so.
Sew the signature to the strings.
Pull tight. This is what it looks like from the other side.
Sew another signature. Pull this tight. Don’t pull towards you, pull left or right, parallel to the spine. This puts the pressure on the strings and thread, not on the paper.
Tie a knot with the loose end. The signatures get tied to each other at the top & bottom, and sewn to the strings at the three holes in the middle.
Tie each signature to the last signature. Keep adding signatures, pressing down, pulling tight, tying off.
One last knot.
Not bad. Could be more compact, pinched together a little tighter.
Tape. This cloth tape is book repair tape, also called hinge & spine repair tape.
For an excellent tutorial, watch Bookbinding, lesson 1, steps 1 and 2. This video by Abacus Firenze made me want to make a book.
Join me for for the third & final part, when the book gets a cover.
Here is how I recently made a book. This is a hardcover book, and anyone can do it if you have a story to tell.
1. Write a story on the computer. Give it a title page. Print the title at font size 66, your name at 40, the bulk of the story at 22.
2. Copy, two pages on every sheet. I used standard American size paper 8.5 X 11 inches.
3. Cut the pages apart.
The font is now a normal-looking size for a book 8.5 inches tall. The trick is to arrange the pages in small bundles, or signatures. Each signature is made from two pieces of paper folded in half with one nested inside the other and two pages printed on each side, for a total of eight pages per signature. Look at any hardback and see that it’s not one large stack of pages, but several small signatures attached to the spine.
4. Make a tiny mockup of your book by bundling and stacking the signatures and then numbering the pages. The first four pages are blank, followed by the title page, then another blank, followed by page one, page two, etc. Please follow me: the first page is glued to the front cover; the second page is the blank inside of the front cover; the third & fourth page are the blank page of paper that separates the cover from the title page. The title page appears on the right side of the book, and the next page is blank. After that, the story unfolds. This is a recipe for eight pages per signature. It doesn’t matter how long your story is, the first signature can always be blank-blank-blank-blank-Title-blank-one-two.
Below is the mockup of my second signature, pages 3-10.
You can see the first sheet of paper, front & back, will have pages 3, 4, 9, 10, while the second sheet of paper will have pages 5, 6, 7, 8. Do this for your whole story.
5. Tape the pages together as the mockup suggests, as seen below:
6. Make double-sided copies onto heavy paper. Fold the full-sized sheets into signatures, as seen below:
Here are five signatures:
Join me for How to make a book, part two, when the signatures get sewn together in the Italian manner.
This is a term I just learned, although homophonic translation is familiar to anyone who’s laughed along to that Benny Lava video. It’s “translating” something by writing a phonetic approximation in another language, much like a mondegreen, but the “mis-hearing” bridges two languages.
For instance, I like to annoy my friend Lisa by homophonically translating things she says to me in French. If she says “C’est bon!” I respond “Bone.” If she says “C’est ça,” I answer, “Saw.” I also like to encourage guests to dig in at the start of a meal by announcing “Bony patoot!” By which I guess I mean, Don’t worry your skinny butt about getting fat.
For some reason, there is something particularly amusing about homophonic translations from English into “French”, by which I mean nonsense that looks like French and sounds like English. For example, if you grew up speaking English and can also pronounce French, try reading this little rhyme out loud:
It was written by actor and wit Luis van Rooten. Recognize it? Here’s a visual clue.
Know any other homophonic translations?
Illustration by Florence England Nosworthy
I am very saddened to hear that Isaiah Sheffer, host and reader for Selected Shorts, died recently.
In his honor, I’m reposting my favorite story from that show, Sheffer’s reading of Farce Double, by Harry Matthews.
The first story in this podcast is my very favorite from the radio show Selected Shorts. It’s the series host Isaiah Sheffer’s reading of Country Cooking from Central France; Roast Boned Rolled Stuffed Shoulder of Lamb (Farce Double), a short story by Harry Mathews which is, in fact, nothing more than a recipe – the longest, most ridiculously complicated recipe you’ve ever heard in your life. It’s what Daranee would call a “screw that” recipe, multiplied a hundredfold. Hilarious.
Photo by Arthur Gerbault
The velvet voice of Lasse Mårtenson, from Finland, 1963.