Bagge – Woman Rebel

Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story, First hardcover ed. by Peter Bagge

Date read:01-02 March 2015

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Image of cover of Bagge's Woman Rebel

Hardback, 72+ pages

Published 2013 by Drawn + Quarterly

Source: Deschutes Public Library (BAGGE PETER)

Margaret Sanger was an American sex educator and nurse. She opened the first birth control clinic and, in effect, began Planned Parenthood. She is a fascinating person, to say the very least.

This title was interesting enough. There is a 2-page intro called, “On Peter Bagge and Margaret Sanger” by Tom Spurgeon (editor of The Comics Reporter), the graphic novel proper in 72 pages, followed by two pages on “Why Sanger?” by Peter Bagge, and 18 pages on “Who’s Who and What’s What,” which is actually the endnotes. Yep. No indication in the text that there was more context, and perhaps photos or other images, in the back. Grr.

Also, the text in the introductory and back matter is tiny. Grrr.

The author does do a good job of telling us where he took artistic license in the back matter. Clearly, other stories—as he points out—can and have been told.

Fast read. Positive but honest portrait of a complex woman. Mostly marked down for not alerting me to extra context and small type.

This is the 39th book in my GN2015

This is the 14th book in my Traditional Chesterfield armchair

Atkeson – Oregon II

Oregon II by Ray Atkeson; text by Archie Satterfield

Date read: 21-26 February 2015

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hardback, 182 pages

Published 1974 by Graphic Arts Center Publishing

Source: Deschutes Public Library [OVERSIZE 917.95 ATKESON RAY)

Not near as impressed with this as I was with Oregon, My Oregon or even Ski & Snow Country.

In those books all of the photographs were black & white and we were provided both historical and technical details by contributors highly qualified to do so. This book has only color photos and the text by Archie Satterfield consist of an eight-page essay to Oregon and, I assume, the photo captions are also by him. But in neither case do we learn anything about the historical and technical details of these photos. Or why they are even all color.

Despite carting home this heavyweight and its equally stout companion, Oregon III, and the not light but more middling-sized, Wind on the Waves, I almost did not read this. Atkeson’s color photos (based mostly on this book) simply do not draw me in like his black & white photos do. Better editorial selection? Or do I just prefer his work in b&w?

What drew me in, even though I still had to force my way through the Satterfield essay (which is OK in its own right; just not what I am looking for), was the two-page photo (pp. 8-9) of the Cascades at sunset looking west from the top of Pilot Butte. I immediately recognized the view, despite it being an “impossible” one. That is, not a human eye perspective. The photo is mostly shades of gold and browns, while the sunset silhouettes cause lots of interesting flattening in the depth-of-field. But it isn’t quite flat, not in all places. I am not going to try and describe it any further; let us just say, it has depths. Then again, I do not particularly think it is a great photo at all. It is an interesting one though.

The perspective in the photo is quite intriguing, as I hinted at. My guess, based on information on Atkeson’s technique (at least in b&w) in Oregon, My Oregon was to use the “extra” resolution of his 4×6 camera to take larger landscapes and then crop out the portion he wanted. Based on the perspective of this photo he had to do something similar. This is a piece of a much larger negative. There is no other way to compress and flatten the foreground so much without a telephoto lens which would seriously narrow the angle and we would have far less peaks in view. By the way, I talked about foreground in the previous paragraph but that is what is entirely missing from this print. The foreground of the photo has been removed in printing.

So … larger negative, piece of. Interesting. But now I want to see the whole negative. And did Atkeson compose the entire picture in the viewfinder and then still enlarge sections out or did he compose the shot he wanted and only ensure he had enough “extra” around it to do whatever he was looking for with perspective, etc.? So many questions and no hints of an answer.

By the way, there was an Oregon in 1968 by Atkeson with text by Charles H. Belding. It was “one the most successful books in the history of regional publishing, [but] has gone out of print to make way for this fresh look …” (front flap).

I liked it well enough but I simply am not roused by Atkeson’s color photos—or at least those selected for this book. I will try poking at Oregon III, which has text by Richard Ross, and at Wind on the Waves, with lots of text by Kim R. Stafford. Both of those also contain all color photos.

This is the 13th book in my Traditional Chesterfield armchair

Pilot Butte Update 2

In which I give an update to my hiking of Pilot Butte and more general walking and other exericse.

I first addressed Pilot Butte in my Exercise goals for 2015 post and again in the Pilot Butte Inspiration post of 10 February, which makes this update 2.

The gist was that I was going to climb Pilot Butte a minimum of 1x/week but that was causing my back to hurt too much so I decided to hike the base trail around, which really is as much up and down but in shorter more frequent doses. I also started working toward the Century Club.

In the last update I had hiked the butte 9 times by the end of week 7. Week 9 just ended—also ending month 2—and I have have hiked it now 15 times. That is 30% of the way to the Century Club with only 16.7% of the year gone by. Maybe I can complete two Centuries this year.

a photo of my Century Club card filled out to date

Times are still quite good (for me, and in my opinion) and I do not detect any kind of overuse issues beginning. I do need to get new walking/hiking shoes soon though. Should be good for running shoes but got cold again so that’ll wait.

Tights update: new tights are boring black. ::sad face:: Seems fashion moves on. Colorful tights are only available in 3/4 length tights currently; at least at the local store I went to. Maybe elsewhere the situation is different … but 3/4 length are nowhere near my radar currently. I have tights though. Of course, as soon as I got them the weather turned cold again and we even got snow and ice. It is winter after all. 😀

And thank you, Mom, seriously, for helping me with the tights. They may be boring but they should be effective. That’s what truly matters. You know me, though. Loud and flashy.

At work yesterday I went through the current version (Oct 2012) of US Army FM 7-22 Army Physical Readiness Training [PDF ~24 MB) and got a lot of good info to start doing other things besides walk/hike and pull-/chin-ups.

As for weekly mileage, in the last update we were still in week 7:

  • Week 7     16.19 mi
  • Week 8     8.96 mi
  • Week 9     13.77 mi
So despite week 6 being crap I have been over 8 mi/wk since. This pleases me greatly.
I think that’s it for now.

Ramsey – New Era

New era : reflections on the human and natural history of Central Oregon by Jarold Ramsey

Date read: 07-26 February 2015

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cover of  Ramsey's New Era

Paperback, 154 pages

Published 2003 by Oregon State University Press

Source: COCC Barber Library (F 876.5 .R36 2003)

I found this while verifying that there is a second copy of the previously reviewed Atkeson book on the library shelves.

I truly enjoyed this book and will be acquiring a copy to own: there are several stories, some useful leads in my local history question, and some intriguing points of view that I want to revisit.

Ramsey’s language is of the common person, yet fluid and often beautiful. We heard the author speak at our public library just two days after I checked out the book. He told us a very schematic Native American folktale from the Central Oregon region and then proceeded to embellish it by looking at it academically and following up leads and sources until it is was fleshed out as it can be. It was wonderful exercise. “The Farm Boy, the Homesteader, and the Old Indian: Conserving a Story” is a similar sort of exercise that he undertakes in this volume.

Contents:

  • Introduction
  • New Era: Growing Up East of the Cascades
  • The Farm Boy, the Homesteader, and the Old Indian: Conserving a Story
  • Going Around the Mountain
  • The Kiln
  • Opal City
  • Quincey’s Ladders: A Fishing Tale
  • The Canyon
  • Two Homesteads
  • An Impromptu on Owning Land
  • Notes

“New Era” tells of growing up in Central Oregon and of the one-room schoolhouse he attended. I already mentioned “The Farm Boy, …” above. “Going Around the Mountain” tells the story of a family trip in the summer of 1949 to circumnavigate Mount Jefferson. “The Kiln” and “Opal City” are about just what they say there are. “Quincey’s Ladder” is about a prime fishing spot and so much more. “The Canyon” is indeed the story of a canyon, while “Two Homesteads” is a comparative study of two ranches. “An Impromptu …” is also well-advertised as to topic.

Highly recommended for lovers of Central Oregon history, Ramsey’s other literary endeavors, or fans of stories of the homesteading era.

This is the 12th book in my Traditional Chesterfield armchair

Merveille – Hello, Mr. Hulot

Hello, Mr. Hulot by David Merveille according to Jacques Tati

Date read: 23 February 2015

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cover of Merveille's Hello, Mr. Hulot

Hardback, 32 pages

English translation published 2013 by NorthSouth Books; first published in France under the title Hello Monsieur Hulot, 2010

Source: Deschutes Public Library (Picture Books MERVEILLE DAVID)

I learned about this adorable book from Unshelved in a review by Gene Ambaum himself. Same weekly installment in which I learned about A Most Imperfect Union.

Monsieur Hulot is a comedic character invented and acted by Jacques Tati for four movies made between 1953 and 1971. I have not seen them all but I know I have seen at least one and perhaps two. If you are unfamiliar with Monsieur Hulot then I suggest you check out one of the movies listed at the Wikipedia article linked above.

If you are familiar with (and like) Monsieur Hulot then I suggest you check out this book. It is quite simple and you can read it in minutes if that is your desire. You would be better rewarded by taking your time with each scene, though, and soaking in what is going on around Monsieur Hulot; whether or not he is aware that anything is going on.

This was the most fun I have had with a book in a long time. There are 22 “scenes,” perhaps “tableaus,” each consisting of two pages. The “set-up” is on the recto (righthand page) and then you turn the page to see the “punchline” on the verso (lefthand page.)

My favorites, for assorted reasons, are:

  • The Moon Walk
  • Globe Trotter
  • The Umbrella Corner
  • Chameleon
  • The Eternal Smile
  • The Crossing
  • Attention
  • A Tall Tale
  • A Butterfly Moment

I honestly do not remember there being any stinkers in the bunch. I think it could be great to read with kids but they might need some help with context. I mean, Neil Artmstrong’s footprints on the moon? Of course, I would really love to hear the stories an inventive three- to four-year old might tell based on the pictures.

There are no words, except for those on the occasional street sign or awning or a sound effect or two.

Highly recommended for story lovers of all ages. Especially those who appreciate whimsy, lightheartedness and kindness in their humor.

This is the 38th book in my GN2015

Stavans and Alcaraz – A Most Imperfect Union

A Most Imperfect Union: A Contrarian History of the United States by Ilan Stavans and Lalo Alcaraz

Date read: 18-20 February 2015

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Image of cover of Stavans and Alcaraz - A Most Imperfect Union

Hardback, xv, 269 pages

Published 2014 by Basic Books

Source: Deschutes Public Library (STAVANS ILAN)

I wanted so much more from this.

There is so much sarcasm here, at different levels, that it becomes an obstacle to knowing how to take much of it. The author, Stavans, jumps right in in the five-page Foreword. He doesn’t need to sell me on the “immigrant perspective”—I value such critiques—but he does on some of his stereotypes of Americans throughout the book. I agree in most cases, but I sometimes want a little support. Also, I despise broad-brush generalizations as a simplification device; or, for most any reason.

Sadly, though, I think they are mostly preaching to the choir. Anyone who truly needs this book will probably never read very far in it; that is, if they ever even pick it up.

Give it a try and see how you relate to it. I guess I wanted sharper, more pointed critique that was not simply stereotypes being thrown around.

This is the 37th book in my GN2015

This is the 11th book in my Traditional Chesterfield armchair

Tobin and Dewey – I Was The Cat

I Was The Cat by Paul Tobin and Benjamin Dewey and others

Date read: 16 February 2015

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cover of I Was The Cat by Paul Tobin and Benjamin Dewey and others

Hardback, 186 pages

Published 2014 by Oni Press

Source: Deschutes Public Library (TOBIN PAUL)

Grabbed this the same time I got Ratfinger at the public library. They were next to each other and their spine titles juxtaposed so damnably well.

… | Ratfinger | I Was The Cat | …

Ratfinger pulled stronger and I took it off the shelf to look at first. I decided to take it and although I had pretty much dismissed the cat book I took it off the shelf to take a gander at. Looked decent enough and, again, the juxtaposition of titles was there. Fate, I guess. Truth be told, I enjoyed this more in the end.

Seems our cat was at least eight other cats. Cats you may well know of and have seen in photos or movies. Others most certainly you have not heard of. Our cat, Burma, has been around. He has orchestrated many schemes. He may be scheming now.

Recommended for any librarians [only because we all so love them, right?] / cat-loving / slightly twisted history fans out there.

This is the 36th book in my GN2015

Moon and Bá – De: Tales

De: Tales : Stories from Urban Brazil by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá

Date read: 12 February 2015

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cover of De: Tales by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá

Hardcover, 112 pages

Published October 2010 by Dark Horse Books (“This book was originally published as a softcover edition in June 2006.”)

Source: Deschutes Public Library (MOON FABIO)

Moon and Bá are twin brothers from Brazil who share a love and talent for graphic novels and comics. I have also read Daytripper by these two. Stories, anecdotes, scenes from their lives, perhaps?

Contents:

  • El camino (“The path”)
  • Estrela (“Star”)
  • Outdated
  • Late for coffee
  • As if
  • Reflections I
  • Reflections II
  • All you need is love
  • Qu’est-ce que c’est? (What is it?)
  • Happy birthday, my friend!
  • Saturday
  • Outras palavras (“Other words”)

Fact or fiction, they are pretty enjoyable and the book as a whole is a very fast read.

This is the 35th book in my GN2015

Atkeson and Miller – Ski & Snow Country

Ski & Snow Country: The Golden Years of Skiing in the West, 1930s-1950s by Ray Atkeson; essay by Warren Miller

Date read: 11-12 February 2015

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cover of Ski & Snow Country: The Golden Years of Skiing in the West, 1930s-1950s by Ray Atkeson

Hardback, 120 pages

Published 2000 by Graphic Arts Center Publishing

Source: Deschutes Public Library (796.93 ATKESON RAY)

Another excellent collection of 100 black & white images of Atkeson’s ski and snow pictures. Based on technique alone these images ought get 5 stars but as the title suggests the focus is narrower than in Oregon, My Oregon and skiing is not something I ever took up. In fact, this book has been quite educational to see how short of a period of time good equipment for the masses has actually been available. I must admit the tug of some of the action shots but I think it’s beyond the time I might take up downhill skiing. Perhaps cross-country at some point but we need to use our snowshoes more first. Not that we’ve had much opportunity this winter whether we wanted to or not.

The introductory essay is by Warren Miller, famous skiing filmmaker. The two became friends in 1949, meeting in Squaw Valley. The essay was written in 2000 and as the note to readers says on the title page verso:

“There are undoubtedly some errors in dates, time, and places in this book due to most events happening fifty or more years ago. I have tried to be as accurate as my memory of the events and the occasional phone call for verification allows. — Warren Miller”

Highly recommended, especially for fans of skiing, skiers, those interested in the early decades of skiing in the western US, and anyone who simply enjoys black & white photos of snow (and often other things along with the snow).

This is the 10th book in my Traditional Chesterfield armchair

Quadbeck-Seeger – World of the Elements: Elements of the World

World of the Elements: Elements of the World, 1st ed., by Hans-Jürgen Quadbeck-Seeger, with kind support from BASF; translation by ??

Date read: 16 January – 08 February 2015

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Cover of Quadbeck-Seeger's World of the Elements

Hardback, 111 pages

Published 2007 by WILEY-VCH

Source: COCC Barber Library (QD 466 .Q3313 2007)

Let me just start with saying this book is crap. There. Out of the way.

No idea who the translator is as I cannot find any translation note; I must assume the author did the translation. There is a German-language edition, with a blue cover, which I found at the Deutschen Nationalbibliothek. The translation is fine, although at times it seems to vary between British and American usage and there is at least one “und” that the proofreader missed.

My main gripe is just who is the intended audience for this book? It is an odd mix of fairly serious science which attempts to give us some of the chemistry and physics of the periodic table and of the individual elements, while also educating us on other schemes for laying out the elements in a meaningful order; these efforts still go on, by the way. Not only do I not know who the intended audience is, I do not think there is one. The easy material can be found most anywhere and the more difficult material is only of use to a completely different set of readers. It is a really mixed bag of content.

Nowhere does the author ever define just what is an element. I have no real understanding as to why I am supposed to accept that some man-made by-product of a nuclear bombardment that has a half-life of 2.6 seconds is an actual element. I believe that the author attempted to educate us about such things with talk of periodicity and other issues but, in my opinion anyway, the important dots are never connected. I do know that there are perfectly good theoretical reasons why these man-made elements qualify but this author does not make it clear.

The entries for each element show: where it is located in a color-coded periodic table, its abbreviation, atomic number, atomic weight, images of things made from the element, an info box on discoverers, derivation of the name, and a list of properties. But most of these properties, although ostensibly written in English, contain so many other terms from physics and chemistry that are never defined that you really are just caught in a web of words and learn little about the actual properties of the elements. And if you already knew enough to fully understand most entries then this would not ever be a book you would need.

Some other editing problems: Under Curium (96) Pierre Curie’s dates are listed as (1958-1906) (p. 80). OK, I know Pierre died gruesomely but it wasn’t 52 years before he was born gruesome. Element 77, Proactinium, has Properties text that just runs out mid-sentence.

Throughout some of the discussions of topics, and even within some Properties for various elements, issues of philosophy of science arise and are generally brushed off as “spooky,” which they kind of are. Also, this book is not the place to try and address those as the author (correctly) acknowledges. But then we get near the back of the book…

In the section, “The Elements and Life” we get a list of the three criteria that most “definitions” of life require. These criteria will not tell us whether something is alive but can help us rule out that which is not. But then the author adds a fourth criteria: “All life wants to live!

Um. No. No fucking way! Until we get a much better grip on what “life” is or isn’t this kind of talk is utter nonsense and a category-mistake of the highest order. Life wants nothing. Life is not the kind of thing that can want. Now if he was to say that “All individual life forms want to live” he would get some credit. Of course, we are well aware that this is also not the case as many humans and other animals simply do give up their will to live. Perhaps we could claim “The exception … blah blah.” But life wants not a goddamned thing!

Two pages later same section, there is a breakout box talking about how the number 4 (and 5, and 6) occur over and over in nature. The author ends with

“We can only take note of these facts, and even partly explain them. But we must be careful not to draw any deeper conclusions. Or did someone have an idea to combine arithmetic and life?”

WTF?! So much for no “spookiness.” Seriously though, these two entities are simply things that cannot be combined. Mathematics is a descriptive language and can be used, in many ways, to describe living entities. But it does not describe life and they cannot be combined either. And just who was supposed to do this combining? Spooky.

In the boxes for the discoverers there are often two entries with different dates. Seemingly willy-nilly sometimes the oldest is on top and sometimes the most recent date is on top. Often the descriptions in these boxes leave one wondering at the actual “discovery” of the element.

I think the author did a reasonable but mostly ineffectual job as I do not think either the author or publisher (or between them) ever had a good idea who the audience was. The proofreaders did OK but missed a few glaring things. The book designer/layout folks completely and utterly blew the design of this book.

There are so many books for the general public about chemistry and particularly the periodic table and the elements that this book should be skipped. In fact, I have another book on the elements geared to a popular audience that I checked out the same day; I am hoping I can give it a better review.

Leave this book alone except in a dire emergency. And then, good luck!

This is the 9th book in my Traditional Chesterfield armchair