Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!

See you all in 2007!

2006 -The Year in Review

Ooops! sorry. I was just catching up on all those "Year-end Review" columns in the newspaper...

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Golfing on Ice-

As the year winds down I've been browsing through my image files. I'm not sure where this one came from, but it's a 1926 photo which I dedicate to all the folks out West who are seeing a lot more ice than we are (though we are scheduled to get some today and New Year's day).

Friday, December 29, 2006

The Hard Way to Make an Ice Cube-

As the year ends and we still have no snow in the Pioneer Valley (a situation that may be about to change) I thought we'd crank up the Wayback Machine today with an albumen print from my own collection-

A pencil notation on the back of the mounting identifies this as the Boston Ice Company's ice house in Lake Village, New Hampshire, probably around the turn of the century. If you look closely to the left side of the picture you can see that they were still building the shed there even as they were loading ice blocks via the conveyor apparatus on the right. This detail shows the men near the foot of the loading machinery-

Makes me want a cup of hot cocoa just looking at it!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Winter Fun Safety Tips

Now that Winter is here everyone will be donning their polar fleece and rushing outside to participate in the wide variety of fun Winter games and activities we all enjoy.

But with fun comes danger.

Even as we enjoy ourselves outside this Winter, I wanted to take a moment to warn folks to remember that just because something is fun does not mean it is also safe. Thin ice on ponds, icy slopes next to busy roadways, ice-packed snowballs, and frantic squirrels on sugar highs in search of just one more piece of Christmas candy can all present dangers to the unwary at this time of year.

I know we have all downed a bottle of scotch or two before getting behind the rope on a sled, lined our front yards with anatomically correct snowmen (and women, and that one time, both...) and "ski streaked" in our day, but please remember-

there are some Wintertime activities
that are just dumb, no matter how much
fun they sounded like they were going to be-

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Wrapping Things Up-

So to speak.

It looks like Santa got what he wanted this year...

Sad News on the Neo-Nazi Front

It's very sad that the day after Christmas we have to deal with a new uprising of Neo-Nazis, and among the ranks of books, no less, but I suppose that is the world we live in today. It seems that a Jewish-owned bookstore has become a boycott target this week.

Indigo Books and Music was started in Canada in 1996 by Heather Reisman and her husband Gerry Schwartz. They were so successful that they soon developed the store into a chain, and
that became so successful that they bought out the Chapters Bookstore chain, becoming Indigo-Chapters. They are now a major presence on the bookselling scene, and on the web.

Among the store's charitable works are the Love of Reading Fund, which distributes 1.5 million dollars annually to Candian schools. Indigo-Chapters was among Canada's Top 100 Employers in 2006. The owners also have private charities they donate to, and among them is a fund that provides comfort and support for soldiers in Israel who have no families. It is because they make a donation to this USO-like fund for Jewish soldiers that the owners are now the target of a boycott, although from some of the rather vile and hate-filled postings on several book-related email lists I have read, it is obvious that something far, far uglier is going on in some people's minds.

One had hoped that we had reached a point in history and toleration, at least in the West, where one would not be boycotted for being Jewish or supporting Jewish charitable causes, but judging from the hate-filled comments I am reading, this is obviously not the case.

And so it goes. If you want to buy a book this week, I'd urge you to show your support and buy it from Indigo-Chapters.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Of the Season-

I see the angels with their pink noses
pressed up against the glass of the
Bonwit Teller window;
the lights from inside shine in their eyes
but they leave no reflection
on the frosty glass plane.

Merry Christmas to All,
and to all, a Good Night!

Friday, December 22, 2006


The weather for much of the last few weeks has been very mild, but that didn’t stop Hatfield from having its annual Luminarium Night.

The Sunday before December 24th everyone in town lines their driveways and the street in front of their house with candles in paper bags or plastic jugs, and then congregates in front of City Hall for carol singing and Santa’s arrival. The local farmers make floats from farm carts and wagons, decorate them with hay and lights and drive people around town, and I’m told that folks come from as far away as Rhode Island to see the thousands (actually, probably tens of thousands) of candles lining all the streets. We put 60 candle jugs out this year, and it always takes longer to light them than we think it will!

It was very pretty, even without snow.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


We are surrounded by trees here- a giant, 200+ year old maple out front, and hickory, walnut, maples and pines everywhere. I love trees in summer, but there is something about winter that brings out the best in trees...

The silver setting sun hugs close
among the maples- grey-boned ghosts
march row on row against the sky,
as day gives way to silent night.
Those black-ribbed maples,
marked with scars,
reaching silent to the stars,
their grey and yellow fingers bare
against the chill night's frosty air,
which wraps our knees against our coats,
we huddle close, our breath makes ghosts,
the starlight beckons, blazes, boasts,
against the black and velvet void,
those shimmers mark
a flaming spark, to light our
ghostly breaths in grey.

Come, sit with me
'till break of day.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Festival of Light-

May you all have a wonderful holiday season, and may all the light shine upon you in the coming year.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

RIP, Peter Boyle-

Actor Peter Boyle has died, which is a shame, as he was a good actor and a good man. As I have been reading various obituaries over the past few days I have been struck by what can only be another example of my passing from the "Now" to the "Used to Be" class. Almost all the stories I have seen were headlined "Everybody Loves Raymond's Father Dies", to which I wanted to scream- "NO!! the star of Young Frankenstein (sorry- Frankensteen) died!"

I guess it's a generational thing, but I'm sorry... which is the better entertainment? Now I have a bias here- I am one of (apparently) six people in the United States who never saw one single second of whatever television show that is they are talking about, and does not regret that for a single second. But that aside- "Young Frankenstein" is one of the *classic* modern comedy movies, back when comedies were still actually funny.

And it had Teri Garr. What's not to like??


I guess I'll go put on my top hat now... puttin' on the Ritz!!


Wednesday, December 13, 2006


I'm relaunching State of Denial with a slightly different slant. Maybe I can make EVERYBODY hate me...

Here we come a-caroling...

The subject of Christmas carols has come up and, well... you knew you were going to be sorry, right? All I can say in defense of this is that I've always been a Tom Leher fan, and his "Hunting Song" is a true timeless classic. But with apologies to Mr. Leher, it needed some seasonal updating-

A Seasonal Hunting Song

(with apologies to Tom Leher)

I always will remember,
'Twas a year ago December,
I went out to hunt some deer,
On a morning bright and clear.
I went and shot the maximum
the game laws gave myself:
Two bell ringers, seven reindeer, and an elf.

I was in no mood to trifle,
I took down my trusty rifle
And went out to stalk my prey.
What a haul I made that day!
I tied them to my fender,
and I drove them home myself:
Two bell ringers, seven reindeer, and an elf.

The law was very firm, it
Took away my permit,
The worst punishment
it could manage to propose.
It turned out there was a reason,
It seems elves were out of season,
And one of the reindeer had bright-red, glowing nose.

People ask me how I do it,
And I say "There's nothin' to it,
You just stand there lookin' cute,
And when something moves, you shoot!"
So there's ten stuffed heads sitting
on my maple trophy shelf:
Two bell ringers, seven reindeer, and an elf.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Of Parties & Catalogs-

Well, we had our annual Christmas Party for the Book Elves in the Cataloging Cave at Foggygates last night and, well- let's simply say that we won't be posting pictures on the website anytime soon. To begin with, I could be wrong, but I'd always assumed (before last night) that the question "how many drunk reindeer can you stuff into the boss's office?" was rhetorical...

But before they stumbled off into the night, swathed in plastic holly and singing "I Saw Mommy [deleted]-ing Santa Claus", the book elves finished work on our new catalog-

"BOOKS ON DECORATIVE ARTS- including folk art, interiors, metalware & iron, textiles, & other Americana & related subjects", with a special section on the China Trade, features 284 books and catalogs, and is available for browsing on our website, or as a printed catalog. If you would like a printed copy, please send us your mailing address.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Almost Xmas???

Every year along about this time I decide to become Russian Orthodox- the Orthodox Christmas, you see, falls sometime in mid-January, which not only gives me an extra month to do the shopping I have not even started yet, but also allows me to take advantage of the post-Xmas sales.

Sorry, I know I should take this all more seriously, but wtf??? I'm among the school of thought that holds that if Jesus came back today he would be appalled at all the crap being done in his name, including the Xmas Shopping Season. Each year I am sorely tempted to get relatives a card that says "a medical kit has been donated in your name to some God-forsaken 3rd world country", or some such. I'm not sure why I don't do it- I have cool relatives and inlaws, and they'd probably appreciate it. Maybe I will this year... hmm. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, for those looking for something a little more spiritual this Xmas, I can suggest a Buddhist retreat, as reported in today's New York Times...

Friday, December 08, 2006

Friday Nights...

Oh MY Lordy, it has been a week since I posted. You know, I read other blogs every day and get very annoyed when they get slack and don't post for a week. I never seem to make any connection about that though...

I have an excuse- we've been busy selling books. Business is a-hoppin', and the books are flying out the door. We finally took a few hours off this afternoon and went and saw 'Borat'. A very funny movie. OK, I could have done without that rather odd and disturbing nude almost-gay-sex scene in the middle... but otherwise a very funny movie.

And then back home to slag books. We opened an Ebay store this week. You know your life needs a kick-start when you are sitting in front of a computer Friday night and the most exciting thing you can think of is to read that "Getting the Most Out of The Selling Manager Program" email you just got from Ebay.

I need an Audrey Tatou fix...

Friday, December 01, 2006

Windy Friday

The casualty roll of Russian GangBanger Vladdy "the Impaler" Putin continues. The first time Bush met Putin they gazed into each other's eyes. For their next date George is going to bring along a geiger counter and his food taster.

Presidential elections would be much more interesting if we decided them the same way the college football championiships are decided. Critics would argue that leaving the running of the country to a press poll would leave Americans confused, disgruntled and fed up, and result in the country being governed by idiots. I'd ask them how that would be a change from where we are today?

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation is the funniest holiday movie ever made, and Beverly d'Angelo is very easy on the eyes.

I'm not quite sure what to do with my "State of Denial" blog. It lost steam during the Summer, and since the election I'm just not feeling as, well, as nasty about politics as I used to. Or maybe I just found it too time-consuming and exhausting to try to make what's going on in the country and world these days humorous. It's not really fair to readers to be so sporadic and undependable about posting, so I'll probably either close it or make it into something else in a few days. Thanks to everyone who was so supportive when I was writing it reguarly.