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Monday, November 15, 2021


Welcome to the blog, 'zine, and bookstore of Priscilla King. We encourage comments, contact, and support. If the comments section isn't working, or the "contact" tab isn't showing, please feel free to e-mail (our Message Squirrel's address, which routes messages to Priscilla King, Grandma Bonnie Peters, Gena Greene, and others). And please e-mail us if you'd like to buy anything you've seen here.

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We are currently looking for (TWO) paid guest posts. Guest posts should be unique, informative, and well referenced. They may reflect your political and/or religious views but should not be primarily or specifically about politics. They should tell me something I didn't know, about something I find interesting but don't write about. If in verse, they should have some recognizable form, not necessarily a traditional form. Whether in verse or prose, they should have at least three published nonfiction references, at least one of which should be a printed book. Guest posts will be reviewed by at least two separate people, the writer will accept an offer for the post with or without changes, and $5 will be transferred to the writer's Paypal account before a guest post appears here. Guest posts should also be e-mailed to Saloli at the address above.

As discussed below, due to recent world events our discussions of U.S. political issues have moved to a U.S.-only web site called Freedom Connector. Many writers, elected officials, and others active in U.S. politics have pages at this site. U.S. readers should find it easier to comment and socialize at FC than it's been here.

International readers are still welcome to read and comment about books, nature, history, recipes, handcrafts, and miscellaneous topics here.

Unlike some other web'zines, this one has not been kickstarted with a big grant or loan. We are paying as we grow. So, in order to buy guest posts, or even keep this site alive, we need reader support. If the Google "Support" button above or the Paypal "Donate" button below isn't working, you may e-mail Saloli to buy any book you've seen reviewed here (total cost is usually US$10), buy an advertorial article or picture ($50-100 if I write it, less if you do), or buy any handmade item you've seen photographed here (they start at a total cost of US$10).

Please support this blog! If you like what you're reading, Google recommends $5, the average cost of a printed magazine:

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Morgan Griffith on Obama's Executive Action

From U.S. Representative Morgan Griffith, R-VA-9. (My English teacher would not have approved of all those separate quotation marks in one continuing quote, but here I think they do help make it clear that my Congressman's remarks are his own. What do you readers think?)

Thursday, November 20, 2014 – In advance of President Obama’s remarks this evening regarding his plans to move on immigration via executive order, Congressman Morgan Griffith (R-VA) today issued the following statement:
“Reports indicate the foundation of President Obama’s legal theory behind his plans on immigration is the criminal law doctrine of prosecutorial discretion.  If these reports are true, the President through his executive actions is refusing, in a blanket form, to prosecute violators of the United States’ immigration laws.”
“I question the authority to make a blanket decision regarding the prosecution of criminal laws, as opposed to making decisions in a specific individual’s case.  Further, prosecutorial discretion does not give authority to grant unprosecuted violators with privileges or benefits such as work permits.  Such benefits granted to unprosecuted violators may be in violation of the law.”
“Additionally, if the President’s theory is in fact prosecutorial discretion, it does not mean that the violations the President is choosing to leave un-enforced are no longer crimes.  A subsequent Administration could choose to prosecute any or all of the people previously not prosecuted.  The President granting benefits to unprosecuted individuals will unintentionally create a registry of unprosecuted individuals which may be used by a subsequent Administration for prosecution.”
“There are a number of actions that the President could and should take regarding illegal immigration.  Among the actions outlined by U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) in a recent National Review Online article that the President has the authority to undertake but isn’t undertaking:
  • completing and strengthening the southern border fence;
  • tracking foreign visa holders via an exit-entry system;
  • canceling visas to nations that will not take back its own citizens;
  • stopping the issuance of child tax credits to illegal immigrants;
  • targeting those cities that defy immigration law.”
“The President should be defending America’s borders and enforcing our laws.  If he is serious about resolving the illegal immigration issue, why has he not taken the actions above for which he has the authority?”
“President Obama should first work with Congress to stop the unfettered flow of illegal immigrants from around the world into our nation.  Then, working with Congress, we can find a long-term solution.  An unwillingness to deal with the problems at our borders and entry points indicates his current actions have more to do with politics than with seeking real solutions.”
“I am very concerned by reports that later this evening President Obama will announce executive actions on immigration.  Over the next several weeks, I will be closely examining his actions and their legality.  I strongly encourage President Obama and his Administration to respect the Constitution, follow his oath of office, and fulfill his obligation to faithfully execute the laws of our country.”

Should this post be here for overseas readers to read? Yes! This web site wants overseas readers to know that people in the U.S. do not want anybody trying to "immigrate illegally."

Friday, November 21, 2014

Book Review: Good as Gold

Book Review: Good as Gold
Author: Joseph Heller
Date: 1979
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
ISBN: none, but click here to find it on Amazon
Length: 408 pages
Quote: “Gold longed unreasonably for a blast of arctic induce the abrupt departure for Florida of his father and stepmother.”
How good is Professor Bruce Gold? He’s not heroic. At forty-eight, he’s still as much embarrassed by his family as a fourteen-year-old. As a writer he’s not widely read. As a citizen he thinks he’d leave his home in New York, even his parents, wife, and children there, the minute he got a chance to move to Washington and take a better-paid government job. As a Jew he thinks he might write a book about being Jewish, but he’s not religious and thinks he wants to abandon his family, so how good could any book he'd write about his heritage be?
Gold’s old colleague, Ralph Newsome, a successful “unnamed inside source” who never says anything positively, can just about guarantee Gold the appointment. It might help if Gold were associated not with his loyal, thoroughly Brooklyn working class, wife Belle, but with young, attractive, horsey, academically brilliant, morally retarded, neurotic Andrea Conover, the daughter of a truly loathsome carpetbagger in suburban Virginia.
To his credit, Gold becomes disgusted by the Conovers before Belle finds out that he’s slept with Andrea. He even gets a miracle he can’t be said to deserve; although nobody’s ever counted how many men have already slept with Andrea, he doesn’t seem to have caught anything...well, in the 1970s most venereal diseases were treatable anyway.
To his discredit, Gold has no empathy for Andrea’s howling need for feminist consciousness-raising; he plans to exploit it to get rid of her after using her connections. He also puts up with Pops Conover’s ineluctable loathsomeness to the point of...let’s just say that Conover is a satire not based on the actual or legendary behavior of any real diplomat living or dead, but people who are prone to nausea should have naturally flavored ginger ale within reach while reading any scene in which he appears in the book.
Actually, even the scenes with Conover aren’t as nauseous as parts of Catch-22, but all stories about twentieth century warfare are nauseous, so readers of Catch-22 knew what to expect. Stories about diplomats aren't supposed to be gross-outs.
If the test of a “good” practice of any religion is compassion, as my late husband used to say, then Gold is not a good Jew. He has no compassion for Andrea, little for Newsome. He’s not what in 1979 was known as “warm and caring.” As the plot unfolds he does discover, deep in the basement of his consciousness, tiny amounts of compassion for his family, but nothing you could really call sympathy or affection. Gold is not the man any boy wants to grow up to be; he’s the kind of man male readers might fear becoming, or female readers might fear finding themselves married to.
If that’s how good or bad Gold is, how good or bad is Good as Gold? It has its comic moments; it’s not as hilarious as Catch-22. As a movie it might be rated PG-13; sex takes place outside of the context of pair-bonding, mostly offstage, and some characters have foul mouths...violence is mostly narrated in gross-out lines, especially Conover’s. Kids read worse in the daily newspapers but I’d still recommend this book only to adults, because a big part of its comedy is a long sardonic inside joke that’s never explained and may confuse young readers.
But I'll explain it: There were overtly Jewish diplomats in Washington in 1979. (I used to work for one of them; he'd been there since 1969 or before.) There were, in fact, overtly Jewish diplomats in Washington even in the nineteenth century, as there were in London, and in Richmond during the Civil War. In Washington, by the 1970s, they had a well entrenched social network and seemed to own the suburban town of Wheaton, Maryland. What is doubtful is whether there were working-class diplomats. 

In theory Americans detest elitism as much as we do the other forms of bigotry; in practice we’ve opened up and discussed and formally condemned the other forms of bigotry, but we’ve never confronted elitism and we’re still actively practicing it; we tend to feel that people without some experience handling large amounts of their own money can’t be trusted to handle public or corporate money. And Gold never understands this fundamental defining fact of his situation. Throughout the book, anyone who knew Washington in or close to this period would know that Gold’s being Jewish has nothing to do with his chance at a diplomatic post, that his thinking it has is evidence of his cluelessness, and that Newsome’s failure to give him a clue is proof of Newsome’s satanic function in the story...but Gold never guesses this, and for Heller, obviously, it all goes without saying.

Because Good as Gold is a real novel, not just a farce, Gold will grow and improve over the course of the book...but not much. Readers learn, although Gold doesn’t, that Gold has had mediocre success because he is a mediocre man. Readers will need some psychological astuteness, because this is never made explicit in the book either, to notice that Newsome plays the tempter to an old and true friend because his own bad choices have already made him a profoundly unhappy man and he’d like company in his misery. Ultimately Good as Gold has a solid moral, but Heller avoids belaboring the well that the kind of reader who’s bothered by lots of foul language and frank talk about immoral behavior probably won’t notice the moral.

Heller no longer needs a dollar, and to sell this book online I'd have to charge $5 for the book + $5 shipping, so go ahead and buy it cheaper if you can.  

Santa Fe Jacket

This is a woman's batwing-style jacket. The shape came from a back issue of Fashion Knitting, in which the title was "Santa Fe"--I think (going by that magazine's editorial practice at the time) this referred to a novelty yarn that was made that year. In this photo I focussed on a detail of the front in order to show the colors, and sure enough, on this computer the brown, tan, and cream yarn is showing up realistically, at least in the middle third of the picture. The jacket has a round neckline, a wide center front panel with room for either one or two rows of snap fasteners, and full-length batwing sleeves.

Material: 100% acrylic. Machine wash and dry.

Size: 40-44" bust, 5'6"-5'9"

Price: $25 for the jacket, $5 for shipping. (Yes, you could fit something small, such as a cap, into the package with this jacket and pay only one $5 for shipping.)

By the way, would anyone like to see better photos of the handcrafts available through this web site? E-mail salolianigodagewi (at yahoo) to donate a better-quality digital camera, and we'll post them. These were snapped with a $5 Tracfone.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Does Izea work?

Will make this blog profitable? Wouldn't it be about time something did?

Here's a link you can use to find out more about Izea:

Book Review: Season of Ponies

Title: Season of Ponies
Author: Zilpha Keatley Snyder
Date: 1964
Publisher: Atheneum
ISBN: none (click here to find a newer edition on Amazon)
Length: 133 pages
Illustrations: watercolors by Alton Raible
Quote: “Give the searching heart an eye, and magic fills a summer’s sky.”
Pamela would rather travel with her father, a salesman, than live with her Aunt Sarah on a failing farm where the only horses left are the model horses on Pamela’s bookshelves. Guess where she has to spend the summer anyway. But she meets a mysterious boy whose only family seems to be a herd of strange-looking, slim, dainty, odd-colored ponies. He lives in fear of a wicked witch, the Pig Woman, who sings a terribly beautiful song that causes males of all species to give up their free will and turn into pigs. These pigs are as different from any real pigs you may know as the Ponyboy’s ponies are from real ponies, but the Ponyboy’s magic doesn’t turn Pamela into a pony, as seems indicated. He only needs her energy to help him resist the Pig Woman.
All fairy tales have to get their inspiration somewhere. This one, which seems most closely related to the myth of Circe on the surface, really taps into the early 1960s fear that women who made decisions for themselves would “lose their femininity” and make bad decisions.
At the same time, it’s still a simple but well-written fantasy. You’ll wonder whether the real Zilpha Keatley Snyder ever had a real pony, but you’ll love her glass and china ponies come to life.
What about the innocence of Pamela’s sneaking off alone to meet the Ponyboy? This was heady stuff in the 1960s. Some parents wanted to believe that preadolescent children were too innocent to be in any danger. Some would say that, the more innocent children are when they sneak off to be alone with just one other child, the worse the results might be.
Maybe, although this fantasy was written to entertain third and fourth grade readers, it’s best enjoyed by adults. The misogyny may be too toxic, and the children may be undesirable role models, for children. And yet...when I was about the age of Pamela, I enjoyed this book, just for the delightful fantasy ponies. And it did not cause me to sneak around with boys, or turn anybody into a pig.

At the time when I wrote this review, Season of Ponies would have been a Fair Trade Book. I had the first hardcover edition, too. Together with a Gena Greene Recycled doll dressed like Pamela, it sold for $5. I hope the person who bought that copy of the book checks out the current price of the first hardcover edition on Amazon. You got a real bargain. In order to keep things real at this web site, what I can now offer to sell online will be a recent paperback reprint, $5 + $5 shipping, and if you find a better price, go for it. Zilpha Keatley Snyder no longer needs a dollar. 

Maine Pines Cardigan

This is one of the designs in Maine Island Classics, which you can buy from me as a Fair Trade Book ($5 for the book, $5 for shipping). In real life the main color is dark blue, with a light summer-sky blue yoke, white sailboat, and blue-green trees knitted in.

Size: 36-38" bust/chest, 5'3"-5'6". Gena Greene did not add a sleeve gusset to this sweater. We've been advised that some women with 36-38" busts think all the women's sweaters in Maine Island Classics needed sleeve gussets...the designers were young. (In my twenties I knitted some jackets with waistlines a lot of women hated, too.) If you have trim, firm upper arms and want to show them off, wearing this lightweight cardigan over a short-sleeved or sleeveless shirt is a nice subtle way. If you have wide upper arms, we can insert the gussets.

Material: acrylic--machine wash and dry

Price: $25 for the sweater, $5 for shipping, $5 to add buttons, $10 to add sleeve gussets.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Book Review: Easy Crafts

Title: Easy Crafts
Author: Ellsworth Jaeger
Date: 1949
Publisher: Macmillan
ISBN: none, but click here to see a copy with a dust jacket that shows the author's name as "Jaeger Ellsworth." (Probably the pen name of a writing team, since the inside front page of my copy has "Ellsworth Jaeger" and so has the dust jacket of the companion volume.)
Length: 129 pages with black-and-white illustrations and diagrams
Quote: “Simple craft suggestions...that untrained hands may undertake with materials easily secured.”
These are the crafts people my age learned at summer camp: smoke printing (with grease), spatter painting, potato printing, shelf-fungus sculptures, track casting, insect collections, tin-can birdhouses, bird feeders, baskets, sock animals, clay pots, cornhusk dolls, cardboard weaving, fuzz sticks, and green-twig toasting forks.
The beauty and usefulness of these objects varies considerably even when they’re made well. Usually they weren’t made well. Many of them, being made from all-organic materials, weren’t meant to last long. A green-twig toasting fork has two uses: it teaches us that, if metal toasting forks weren’t available, we could still toast things; and it teaches us why our ancestors celebrated the cleverness of the first few humans who thought of making metal toasting forks.
Anyway, the objects are fun to make, even if some materials (blueprint paper, blotters, inky coprinus mushrooms) are harder to find than they seem to have been in 1949.
Some materials are, in fact, so much harder to find that making these projects now seems unthinkable. Spruce roots and willow bark are not to be wasted on beginners’ baskets that could be made with phragmite reeds and honeysuckle vines. The idea of killing butterflies for a collection is disgusting to most people today, although my brother and I filled a large case with butterflies and moths that we found in good condition after the short-lived animals died. Even though wild birds normally shed and replace all their feathers every summer, and many are likely to drop lovely little feathers at camp sites where a feeder has been set up, using feathers that aren’t obviously the dyed feathers of white chickens now seems tasteless.
On the other hand children can still enjoy recycling outgrown socks into toys, cutting scraps of paper into snowflakes, tying cornhusks into fanciful shapes, weaving, beading, braiding, and similar crarfts described in this book.
No attempt to “grade” the projects has been made. (Children who are growing up on their own schedule always appreciate things that aren’t limited to some arbitrarily defined “age group.”) Directions for things four-year-olds can do without much supervision, like shaping clay pots, are interspersed with directions for crafts that require strength and coordination, like snipping tin and sewing leather. Know the children with whom you share this book. My brother shaped some cute fuzz sticks when he was six, and did not hurt himself, but fuzz sticks are made with a sharp knife. In the eighteenth century little girls made elaborate alphabet samplers while learning the alphabet, at ages four to eight, but embroidering with a blunt plastic needle on plastic mesh may be a safer way for a whole first-grade class to learn the craft than embroidering with a sharp sewing needle would be.

With appropriate adult supervision, Easy Crafts is an excellent book for all ages. 

Whoever Ellsworth Jaeger, or Jaeger Ellsworth, or Jaeger and Ellsworth were, it's unlikely that they have any use for a dollar. To buy Easy Crafts (and/or Nature Crafts) from me online will cost $5 for each volume plus $5 for shipping. 

Little Moose Vest

From a design by Helene Rush. In real life the background color is a bright deep blue, like the U.S. flag, and the moose are brown...on this computer this photo actually looks like the sweater. (Helene Rush's design in Maine Woods Woolies was originally a jacket; Gena Greene had enough of this yarn to make a vest.)

Material: 100% acrylic; machine wash and dry. May stretch while wet. Will not shrink.

Size: average two-year-old child

Price: $10 + $5 shipping. (Shipping price is per package, and you could fit other things in a package with this vest.) For an extra $5 we'll add snappers, and for another $5 decorative buttons.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


The blogger known as Arlene from Israel was not the first to share reports of this morning's very bad news. The first couple of reports read like abridgments of the one that's currently at the top of this site:

This web site officially offers our condolences to the families affected by these cowardly murders--U.S., Israeli, and otherwise.

This web site officially calls on Muslims of good will to denounce the ways that are not affected by the different possible understandings of words. I read that under Islamic law the penalty for murder is supposed to be negotiated with the bereaved family. Right. If the families seriously, coolheadedly think that the kind of penalties Arlene from Israel is recommending today are appropriate, then the Muslim leaders should walk their talk and do as their law prescribes.

Keystone Pipeline Viewpoints

Oh, the annoyance. Freedom Connector still isn't working. (That's where the political content of this web site was supposed to go.) So what'm I supposed to do with press releases from our elected officials? Sit on them? File them as spam? Sorry...I know major shareholders in the Internet, e.g. Al Gore, want to keep all "conservative" political content off the'Net, but I don't support that effort.

At least this post is balanced. First, from Senator Tim Kaine:

Tim Kaine: United States Senator for Virginia - Newsletter

Keep Up With Tim

11.18.14 Why Keystone XL Is Not In Our National Interest

Dear Friends,
Today, I will go to the Senate floor to make the case for why approving the Keystone XL Pipeline is not in our national interest. This pipeline would transport Canadian tar sands oil, which is 15-20% dirtier than conventional oil. We need to continue the transition from dirty energy to cleaner energy – quickly enough to preempt serious harm to the climate, while allowing enough time for our economy to adjust. This is particularly relevant in Virginia where drastic increases in sea level rise pose a serious threat to the Hampton Roads economy and the center of American naval power.
Keystone XL would take us in the opposite direction of where we need to go, which is generating cleaner energy tomorrow than we do today.  We can do better.
You can watch my Senate floor speech here at 4:15 PM.
Senator Tim Kaine

Now, from Congressman Morgan Griffith:

"Monday, November 17, 2014 –         
Keystone XL Pipeline – Solutions

On Friday, November 14, the House of Representatives again passed legislation (H.R. 5682) to approve the application for the Keystone XL pipeline, which has been slow-walked by President Obama and the State Department for more than six years.  This is despite other pipeline projects requiring a Presidential Permit having taken 18 to 24 months to review and approve.

The House has now voted nine times to advance this landmark jobs and energy project.  31 House Democrats voted in favor of this bill, and the Senate is now expecting to consider a similar measure.

At a recent press conference in Myanmar, President Obama is reported as having said that his position hasn’t changed on the Keystone pipeline.  As far as I am aware, however, he has not taken an opinion publicly, only saying that the proposed pipeline should be studied more.  According to the New York Times, the President said in a major speech on the environment in the summer of 2013 that “…he would approve the pipeline only if it would not ‘significantly exacerbate’ the problem of carbon pollution.  He said the pipeline’s net effects on the climate would be ‘absolutely critical’ to his decision.”

Of course, the State Department in late January found – again – that the proposed Keystone XL pipeline would not significantly worsen carbon pollution.  And yet the President has not made a decision.

The pipeline has been studied, and the facts are in.  It is time to build Keystone XL pipeline, creating jobs and a more energy-independent North America.

The House knows a solution to create jobs and energy is to work with our friends in Canada, and we have voted repeatedly to do so.  Because there is a runoff election in Louisiana, the Senate may finally join the House in agreeing to this solution for jobs and energy.  Then we’ll see what the real opinion of the President is when he gets his chance to use his pen and veto this pro-jobs bill. "

Which one does this web site support? Actually, the position of this web site is that good things may come out of the debate.

Book Review: Under the Tuscan Sun

A Fair Trade Book

Title: Under the Tuscan Sun
Author: Frances Mayes
Date: 1996
Publisher: Broadway / Bantam Doubleday Dell
ISBN: 0-7679-0038-3
Length: 280 pages
Quote: “My reader, I hope, is like a friend who comes to visit, learns to mound flour on the thick marble counter and work in the egg.”
Frances Mayes bought a house in Italy. More people wanted to visit her than she could entertain, so she wrote a book about the house. This book has been a bestseller, even though it’s family-friendly with only occasional flashes of dry humor. It’s not likely to make any college reading lists, but it’s a very enjoyable read, a sensory tour of a big country house written skillfully enough to give readers a wholesome mental escape from their boring commute or dismal hospital stays. It’s an almost perfect pillow book. Sort of ironic, in view of recent news stories from Tuscany, but a pleasant read.
Its one flaw as a pillow book might be the continual references to Real Italian Food, or specifically Tuscan food, the delicacies that grow in Tuscany and wouldn’t be the same in other parts of Italy. The secret is all those fresh vegetables. Our protagonists live in the country and have masses of vegetables to use up. “We no longer measure, but just cook...ingredients of the moment are the best guides” to creating their own new, authentic Italian dishes. Simmer chicken and vegetable scraps, skim the broth, add tomatoes and herbs as available, and sup. Cook pasta until it’s soft enough, add greens, cream, cooked meat, and grated cheese, toss them together and eat. Shell peas, mince shallots, soften them in butter, add a little mint, salt and pepper, chop this into a paste, and spread it on toast. Absolutely nothing to it...if you have garden-fresh vegetables. If you have to buy vegetables in a supermarket the recipes won’t turn out half as good. And if you don’t need to think about food when you’re not cooking or eating, Under the Tuscan Sun qualifies as “food porn.”
But of course Italians do other things as well as eat. Our protagonists settle in, and see the sights in the nearby towns. They go to night concerts in the town square, visit a museum and describe the elaborate fourth-century candelabrum, go to what’s ordinarily the movie theatre and watch the ballet. Nothing more “exciting” or like the plot of a novel happens to them than the renovation of the house, but it’s all fresh and new to Americans and it all feels good.

This book was a bestseller because everyone enjoys reading it once. So, Under the Tuscan Sun is recommended to anyone who hasn’t read it. It's tasteful, it's tasty, it's a Fair Trade Book, and if you buy it here for $5 + $5 shipping we'll send Mayes or a charity of her choice $1. And you can add a few other things to the package for that $5 shipping cost, too.

Striped Cap Family

In real life these caps are white, black, and a medium gray-green. (And they're photographed lying on a wooden table.) They are a small, medium, and large size, but there's not much variation in head sizes and knitting is fairly forgiving, so most people could wear whichever of these hats they fancy. On me the ribbing around the small (gray-green) cap would look stretched, and the ribbing on the large (black) cap would need to be rolled up.

All three caps are 100% acrylic, machine washable and dryable. They'll stretch if worn while wet. They will not shrink.

Price: $5 each + $5 shipping...only one $5 per package, and there's room for a sweater or a few books in the package with these caps, even if you buy all three.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Book Review: Les Belles Histoires de la Bible

Book Title: Les Belles Histoires de la Bible: Volume 1: Le Livre des Commencements
Author: Arthur S. Maxwell
Date: 1953
Publisher: Monde Français / Pacific Press
ISBN: none (but click here to see seven of the nine other volumes in the series, because these are picture books and you have to see the pictures)
Length: 190 pages
Illustrations: full-color paintings on most pages
Quote: “La Bible est le plus merveilleux livre d’histoires qui ait jamais été écrit.”
Arthur S. Maxwell was English. Some of his early books for adults were published only in English. With his Bedtime Stories series, published between 1920 and 1970, and even more with his Bible Stories series, published in the 1950s, publishers knew they’d struck gold. Maxwell’s storybooks have been widely translated in a variety of beautifully illustrated editions.
It might be said that translators took some liberties in retitling Bedtime Stories as La Route Enchantée and inserting Belles into Histoires de la Bible, but cultural sensitivity was probably a factor. On the whole the translation of this volume is more faithful than a disgusting “modernized" English edition I’ve seen. This is an authentic Bible Story book, printed on low-gloss but durable paper, bound to stay bound in a wonderfully waterproof, even peanut-butter-and-jelly-proof cover. You’d have to look at the copyright date to know that my copy, although handled extensively, wasn’t printed within the last ten years. (Actually my copy was printed in the 1970s or 1980s. You can tell because the contemporary pictures were updated; some people have dark skin, and the fathers of the churchgoing families on page 60 have 1970s “mod” haircuts.)
The illustrations of all Bible Story books deserve introduction to those who don’t know them. In commissioning paintings for these books, the publishers spared no expense. Professional landscape painters supplied at least one full-page, poster-quality image to introduce each story. Some pictures were done from photographs of the Middle East, and some, done by Harry Anderson while he was staying at an historic home in Maryland, come from Takoma Park.
In The Faith Club, the Jewish participant asked the others to describe the stereotypes the word “Jewish” brought to their minds. The unflattering images they described aren’t totally unfamiliar to me. I’ve seen cartoons like that; I’ve even seen a few people like that. Yet that’s not the image the word “Jewish” brings to my mind. The first context in which I met the word “Jews,” as a child, was The Bible Story. As an adult I can observe that the painters were directed to select attractive models whether they were painting faces, landscapes, buildings, or whatever. In any case they succeeded in making “Jewish” suggest, to me, “good-looking people, with either dark or snow-white hair, usually observed in attitudes stereotyped as noble and devout.” Even the wicked characters have, at worst, scowling expressions on their classic faces. Since most of the stories focus on good characters these books can be said to give child readers a favorable image to go with the word “Jewish.”
I’ve actually heard some complaints about the fabulosity of the models painted in these books. While the artists gave Moses and Abraham white beards, they couldn’t bring themselves to make heroines like Sarah and Miriam age at all—some of the virtuous women of the Bible seem to have luxuriant black hair and girlish faces at ninety. 
The books are, of course, Christian. They’ve been endorsed by rabbis, but I suspect these rabbis were Messianic Jews, since four of the ten volumes are about the life and teachings of Jesus. They stick to the literal sense of the Bible stories, without many attempts to explain any “poetic,” “allegorical,” or “metaphoric” interpretations or abstract theological teachings. They are, however, padded out with explanations of Bible words and concepts, from “the begats” (preschoolers are told that "begat" means "was a daddy") through “kindness” and “generosity.”
Stories some adults prefer to construe as metaphors are presented as literally true, with illustrations of the traditional picture-book school. Adam and Eve always stand behind convenient bushes or large animals; domestic animals that hadn’t been fully domesticated even in New Testament days appear as types bred in the nineteenth century, marching into Noah’s Ark two by two.
Volume one takes the child reader as far as “The Girl with the Kindly Heart” and “The Boy with the Friendly Spirit” (La jeune fille au coeur aimant...Le garçon à l’esprit amical). These stories expand on how Rebekah was chosen to marry Isaac because she was kind enough, as well as strong enough, to draw water for ten camels, and although we’re not told whether Rebekah had ever met Isaac before she rushed off to marry him, we can guess that they were compatible because Isaac later dug two wells for Ishmael before keeping one for his own farm. This kind of approach is typical of Maxwell.
Maxwell wrote down to children of picture-book age in some ways but he expected them to look up, or ask adults about, new words. Translators have preserved this quality in Les Belles Histoires de la Bible. Second-year students whose native language is English should be able to read this book without much recourse to the dictionary; it’s not dumbed down for first-year students. 

All of Maxwell’s picture books are warmly recommended to anyone who is a child, used to be a child, or knows a child. Although thousands of copies were sold (door to door, by deserving students at Christian schools) and many copies printed in the 1950s are still readable, these books tended to be handed down through families rather than resold on the Internet, so when they're available online they tend to be sold for collectors' prices. Note the price tag on the incomplete set linked above...single volumes in this series seem to start high on Amazon. The non-English versions aren't easy to find in the U.S. and I'm afraid the best I can do for this volume, online, is currently $120 + $5 for shipping.  If I find a better deal I'll update this post. At least Arthur S. Maxwell no longer needs 10% of whatever you have to pay for his books.

Pink Pixie Cap

Both this little bonnet and a beret I posted on Bubblews match a child's sweater that's likely to show up here later. The color is a brighter, more watermelon-ice-like pink than it looks on this computer screen.

The material is a blend that contains rayon, so "dry" cleaning is recommended. (I tested...rubbing alcohol works about as well as it ever does on spots. Scrubbing does not work. Discourage the child from activities that are likely to attract really stubborn spots, if you want to pass these garments on to another little princess-in-pink.)

Size: average two-year-old child

Price: $5 + $5 shipping. (One $5 shipping cost per package.)

Friday, November 14, 2014

Non-Cardiac Chest Pain

My part of the world didn't have Lyme Disease for a long time, but we've seen several cases in the last three years. A Lyme Disease survivor asked last week whether I could find out on the Internet why he's been suffering non-cardiac chest pain. I naturally referred him back to his doctor. I've also taken the question as a writing prompt. This web site usually avoids mentioning body parts so I won't even mention the specifications about the type of pain I looked up, but here are some things that may cause chest pain, other than heart disease:

1. Ulcers: Massive bleeding ulceration can be caused by reaction to medications. Ordinary ulcers are caused by a messy but treatable infectious disease. Ordinary ulcers are likely to cause pain right after eating, and unlikely to cause much loss of blood.

2. Esophagitis: Inflammation of the esophagus can be caused by infections, vomiting, various recreational drugs and prescription medications, and sometimes more serious things.

3. Pneumonia, asthma, and other breathing problems can cause pain throughout the chest area. This would usually be more of a cramp or stitch-like pain than the pain associated with internal bleeding, but few things can be guaranteed from research alone, when it comes to medical concerns.

4. Pancreatitis: Inflammation of the pancreas can be caused by infections, complications from diabetes, reactions to medications, and sometimes cancer. This one is fairly serious; here are some ways patients have described symptoms that turned out to be pancreatitis.

5. Tissue damage: Some older people manage to break ribs and/or the breastbone itself without even realizing it. "I just leaned over the railing, bumped into the steering wheel as I climbed into a small car, was held back by the seat belt in a minor accident, so why does it still hurt after three weeks?" Hiatal hernias can also cause chest pain. A more unusual disease of the esophagus itself can cause chest pain and internal bleeding.

6. Costochondritis: It's possible for the tissues between the ribs to become inflamed, sometimes due to infection, more often due to stress or injuries. The inflammation is not considered serious; if it's caused by an infection, that may be serious.

7. Liver or gallbladder problems: Anything that can go wrong with the liver or gallbladder may cause pain in the lower chest and upper waist area.

8. Complications from diabetes: This web site lists some complications from diabetes that may cause chest pain.

9. Bowel and kidney diseases: These usually cause pain lower in the body, but can sometimes cause chest pain.

10. B-vitamin deficiency: The authors at this web site seem to have found this problem mostly in young women--as a minor occasional ache-or-pain, not a cause of internal bleeding.

11. Embolism (blood clot): If one gets into the lungs, it may cause chest pain.

What's the prognosis? Can you take care of it all by yourself, without paying for meds? Will you have to go to the hospital? Could you die from non-cardiac chest pain? Is it related to Lyme Disease? Research supports the first answer I gave off the top of my head. Chest pain may be nothing, it may be fatal...who knows? And a vast amount still remains to be learned about Lyme Disease....but there is, in fact, a condition called Lyme Carditis that seems definitely to be a complication from Lyme Disease.

If you're having chest pain with bleeding or fever or other symptoms, it probably is something that needs treatment. Definitely see a doctor.

If you're having minor chest pain without other symptoms, it's likely to be a trivial early warning of something that might be serious a few years later. The sensible thing to do would be to talk to a doctor.

Horseshoe Cables Pullover and Matching Baby Set

This is a lightweight lady's pullover; in real life it's not yellowish, the way it looked on the computer where I first uploaded the image, nor is it pale blue and purple, the way it looks on the one I'm using now, but pale peach and cream fleck.

Gena Greene adapted the sweater pattern from a design in Helene Rush's Sweaters by Hand. If you have the book, you can see differences between the original version and this one.

This baby's cap and jacket are knitted in the same yarn...but these have to be considered black-and-white pictures. The garments are a clear creamy white with a peach-pink fleck.

The lady's sweater fits a 34-36" bust, 5'3"-5'6".

The baby's set fits a typical 1-year-old child.

All three pieces can be machine-laundered with care. They may stretch a little; they won't shrink.

Prices are $60 for the lady's sweater, $10 for the baby's jacket, $5 for the hat, + $5 for shipping any or all (plus anything else that will fit into the same package).
Book Review: Canvas Work
Author: M.A. Gibbon
Date: 1965
Publisher: G. Bell and Sons
ISBN: none
Length: 94 pages
Illustrations: many charts and diagrams
Quote: “No elaborate equipment is necessary, the stitches are simple and easy to learn,the rules are few and quickly memorized, and the work done does not suffer from frequent interruptions.”
The majority of the pages in this pocket-sized hardcover book consist of charts and illustrations for canvas embroidery. Tips on technique are given before the charts. Tips on the design and construction of popular canvaswork projects are given toward the end.
Photos of finished projects are printed in black and white on glossy paper. Why bother with glossy paper for black-and-white photos? This strange money-saving measure was part of an historical period. In the 1960s U.S. publishers were moving toward what eventually became the rule that if you couldn’t afford a full-color picture you might as well not bother with photos, much less special paper, but U.K. publishers were thriftier and often used just a few black-and-white photos in a centerfold of glossy paper. For readers of a certain age, it’s a nostalgia trip.
It goes with the grammar, spelling, and punctuation of the period. “It must, however, be mentioned that it is one of the oldest types of embroidery known and that, because the background is completely covered by stitches, it so resembles elaborate woven tapestry that it is often referred to,wrongly, by the name ‘tapestry work’.” I had one English teacher who would have flagged those “its,” one who would have insisted on a comma between “known” and “and,” and others who would have recommended breaking the sentence into two or three shorter ones. Microsoft would flag “it is often referred to.” Currently some U.S. editors have declared war on the old rule of putting the punctuation mark that ends a sentence outside the quotation marks around a quoted phrase, if that punctuation mark is a period. I say all these features of the opening sentences are right. They belong to the time when Canvas Work was written.
Quotes from John Taylor’s poem appear under the chapter headings. Lines like “And high borne Ladies such esteeme did make, That as their Daughters Daughters up did grow, The Needles Art, they to their children show” are part of his period (seventeenth century) too.
In between all these bits of quaintness, pages 25-80 explain 72 embroidery stitch patterns. Then come the suggestions for using these patterns on samplers, kneelers, rugs, purses, etc.

Canvas Work is recommended particularly to crafters who want a book that’s easy to carry around. There are newer, showier pattern books, but this is the one that will fit into any bag or even into a coat or jacket pocket. If you’re ready to design your own embroidered piece but want a compact, lightweight guide to making the different stitches, this book is for you. 

A Google search shows no evidence that anything about M.A. Gibbon has been recorded in cyberspace. It may be hard to find this author, but if you buy Canvas Work for $5 + $5 shipping, we'll try to send him or her $1 if we find that s/he is still alive.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Book Review: Prepare the Way

Title: Prepare the Way
Author: Joe Engelkemier
Date: 1971
Publisher: Review & Herald Publishing Association
ISBN: none, but click here to find it on Amazon
Length: 367 pages
Quote: “May God bless you as you help ‘prepare the way’ for the promised outpouring of God’s Spirit.”
Prepare the Way is a daily devotional book in which a college chaplain meditates on Bible passages, usually in the context of college life, although the book is meant to be used by adults too.
It was, however, meant primarily for the Seventh-Day Adventist denomination. Page one refers to a college: Adventist readers know where the college is located (it has since upgraded to a university). Also on page one, there’s a letter from an “academy”; non-Adventist readers might envision a military school; wrong, “academy” is the standard name for S.D.A.-operated prep schools. Also on page one, most Christians are likely at least to recognize “be one of the 144,000,” “in the New Jerusalem,” and “the power of another Pentecost” as Biblical Language. Many Christians won’t recognize Selected Messages and Evangelism as two of the slower-selling works of Ellen White.
Page two is much the same. You might not be familiar with “Autumn Council” or with The Ministry magazine, but you can work out that they’re part of the organization of a denomination.
Then on page three...whoa! “It was in 1755 that the first great sign of the return of Jesus—the earthquake foretold in revelation 6:12—took place. Then came the dark day, May 19, 1780. Following this in 1798, the 1260-year prophecy ended...” This is a precis of the S.D.A. interpretation of Bible prophecies; if you’ve studied the prophecies in a different church, or not at all, page three of Prepare the Way may not make much sense to you. You might not even recognize “Wrote the servant of God in 1868” as an older S.D.A. cliche for “As Ellen White wrote.” (Theoretically other Christian authors might have been referred to as "the servant of God," but Adventists would be prepared to expect it to be Ellen White, and would probably recognize the quote.)
Thousands of Adventists who knew and liked Chaplain Engelkemier are still active, and would love to explain everything in this book to a bewildered reader. If you are either an Adventist who appreciates this style of writing, or a non-Adventist who would like to, this book is for you. 

A Google search shows that Joe Engelkemeier died around the time I sold the copy of this book I physically owned, so Prepare the Way is not a Fair Trade Book, although we can still sell it online for $5 + $5 shipping. You may find a better deal online, although this book is not easy to find online.

Pink and White Cap

In real life, the darker color is a medium pink and the light color at the top is creamy white.

This is a fairly large hat, recommended for people with thick hair. The material is brushed acrylic--it might stretch a little if you worked on it, but won't shrink.

The price is our standard $5 for the hat, $5 for shipping. As always, shipping charges can be consolidated for multiple items shipped in the same package. You could fit several books and/or a sweater into the package with this cap...keep browsing to save money!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Don't Miss the Google +

Only recently, Gentle Readers, did it come to my attention that my Google + page had somehow been set up in a way that was deeply wrong. Things I'd plussed, in order to share them with you, were failing to show up where you could see those links, unless they included photos. Things that did include photos were being advertised to the public as available for public use--and the real problem there was that the photos the public would've wanted to use did not belong to me; while some of them came from Morguefile or Pixabay, others were popping up along with links to other people's web sites.

I mention this now because I believe it's been fixed. You may have to click on "Priscilla King" and then on "+" to see the text-only links, but you should be able to read the tags and follow the links that interest you.

Today, just to highlight what you may have been missing, I'm posting links to what I've plussed in this post. I've enjoyed the convenience of just plussing links instead of creating a blog post for each one. I don't want to give up that convenience...I just want everybody to see one day's plusses, all in one place, in a nice linear table-of-contents format.

So let's start with two more Veterans Day stories from Yes, it's a flashy'zine, funded by Glenn Beck and tricked out with lots of bells and whistles, that may foul up your browser...but, for those who can read it, here's a post by Billy Hallowell that you have to love:

And one by Elizabeth Kreft that may make you chortle...or hit the gym:

Changing gears quickly, the way e-mail and blog feeds encourage us to do: Marsha Cooper demonstrates an approach to quilting I wouldn't dare to try...

The snarky comment that was showing at the top of Fred Lucas's post, when I read it, is apropos. "Abolish coal-burning power plants and use more electricity?" But you may already be meeting partly solar-powered hybrid cars on the road. I rode to and from the computer center in one, one day last week. It runs a treat--has been running about as long as I've been blogging--and has features, like a no-hands, incoming-calls-only speaker phone built into the steering wheel, that kept me saying "Wow" for twenty miles. Fifty miles to the gallon, even while hauling three well-fed adults up a long hill, and it passed a couple of dinosaur cars too. I don't expect to live to be able to afford that kind of dream ride. Possibly some of you readers will. So I'm actually with our President on this one, even though I'm sure the specifics of his plan include things I wouldn't like. Young readers and drivers, "Don't...stop...thinkin' about tomorrow..."

Scott Adams asked for answers to this "General Nonsense" question...I posted the beginning of the answer at Google +. I would've liked to've posted it on his page, but I don't do Facebook.

(Continuation: Our minds aren't big enough to comprehend either the physical universe or God.)

The Blaze Marketplace should not be your one-stop shop for prezzies handmade in the U.S.A. My Google + features lots of lovely unique needlecraft items not shown here. However, when you want to buy non-textile items that were made in the U.S.A., like watches or collector knives, click here...

Sometimes even blogs experience delays. That's why I'm just now posting reviews I wrote four years ago, about books I physically sold three years ago,'cos hey, I did read and recommend those books and I can get more copies if more people want them. It's also why I'm reading this description of a super Sunday, for the first time, on a Wednesday...

Not showing up when I opened Coral Levang's Sunday story, but popping up after I'd read it, came her Veterans Day story:

If you read fiction, what keeps you going back to someone else's imaginary place? I don't do Dreamwidth either, nor am I familiar with most of the series discussed at this post...but it's an interesting discussion. And writing prompt. (Thanks to Elizabeth Barrette for sharing.)

[I don't think this LJ post is especially plus-worthy, it's only mine, but some readers may want to read it too:]

Well, that's the kind of mix you get if you click on my Google + Profile button. Now you know!

Scott Lingamfelter's Veterans Day Story

Virginia Delegate Scott Lingamfelter reminisced:

"Veteran's Day Hand Salute

            I always wanted to be a soldier.  My earliest memory as a child was to be "an Army man".  I recall hearing stories from my great uncle Emmett H. "Bub" Baker.  Uncle "Bub" use to tell stories about WWI to me and my little sister Gayle when he visited with us.  He served in the 80th Infantry Division and fought in France.  He never reflected too much on the horrors of that war.  He just did his duty as it saw it to do.

            And there were friends of my Dad who fought in WWII.  They didn't talk much at all, but you could tell that they knew it was right for them to serve.  My Dad didn't fight in WWII.  He was a doctor in Lakeside, Virginia just outside of Richmond in Henrico County.  He tried to join the Navy as a medical officer, but he had glaucoma and wore glasses.  They turned him down, so he went to the Army.  Initially they said they would take him, glaucoma and all, but soon he was denied entrance because he was one of the few doctors left in Lakeside to care for the civilian population.  He never said so, but I think he regretted not being able to go.  He wanted to be "all in" like others.

            As I grew up, I attended Fork Union Military Academy (FUMA) in elementary school, something I asked my parent to let me do.  When I went to high school, I asked to go Benedictine High School, a military school in Richmond.  And then it was the Virginia Military Institute after that.  I was not conflicted about wanting to be a soldier; I planned early.

            This is not the case with everyone that you meet.  Some were drafted in.  Others fell on the idea as they thought about affording college later or learning a skill.  Yet others simply wanted to serve, to do their part.  Still others just wanted to do what they knew was in their guts to do.  Like me, they always knew.  I've never met a one, regardless of how they entered or how they were motivated, that doesn't deserve our highest praise for honorable service.  You see, drafted or not, officer or enlisted, rich or poor, man or woman, short-timer or lifer, they were in a place to give the "last full measure of devotion".  Those were Lincoln's words.  Good words too.  And not just sacrificing for country; sometimes that wasn't even a factor that they cared about.  Rather, their willingness to be "all in' was for their buddy in the foxhole next to them, on the deck, or on their wing. 

            When I go to the annual reunion with guys and gals I served with in the 1st Infantry Division-The Big Red One- and see those I fought with, we don't talk too much about the "our war"; whether Vietnam, or the latest one in the Middle East.  We talk about families, friends, life.  You see, we know all about death and those who didn't come back.  Think about it the next time you thank a veteran.  It's not just about what they did-  It's about what they were willing to do.

            Did I say I always wanted to be "an Army man"?  Hand salute to all my brother and sister veterans.  
        [signature graphic: Scott Lingamfelter]"

Morgan Griffith's Veterans Day Story

As promised (at Bubblews anyway), I did spend Veterans Day entirely in the real world. Several Veterans Day stories were waiting in the e-mail when I came back to cyberspace. Congressman Morgan Griffith's needs to be shared. I think the quotation marks around each paragraph are there because he expected this story to go viral and appear on lots of different sites that use different systems for marking quotations...this is one continuous story.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014 – Congressman Morgan Griffith (R-VA) today issued the following statement honoring America’s veterans for their sacrifice and dedication to our country:
“I remain deeply grateful for America’s veterans and their efforts to keep our country the greatest nation, preserving and protecting the freedoms we hold so dear.   May God bless our veterans and these United States.”
“Veterans Day is a time set aside for our country to honor America’s veterans, past and present, for their service and dedication.  Whether or not they saw combat, whether they served overseas or at home,  we can never fully repay the debt of gratitude we owe those who have worn the uniform of the United States for their willingness to sacrifice life or limb.”
“Every November, I am reminded of the fact that Veterans Day was established following the end of World War I, which many hoped would be the last conflict of this nature.  Unfortunately, as we know, they were wrong about that.”
“As I reflect on Veterans Day and on World War I, I think about my great-Uncle Jim.  When I was a boy, I would sit, fascinated, listening to stories told by Uncle Jim and others.  Uncle Jim was one of those brave Americans drafted into the United States Armed Forces during World War I.  However, before his ship docked in England, the First Armistice was signed, ending the fighting and marking a victory for the Allied forces.  He made the trip, but he didn’t see combat.”
“It took months for Uncle Jim and his fellow troops to return to the United States. But upon his return, he couldn’t find his gold pocket watch.  He looked and looked, and just couldn’t locate it.  Eventually, Uncle Jim said, his family confessed to him that they had melted his pocket watch down and made it into jewelry, having resigned themselves to thinking that he wouldn’t return from the war alive.”
"Not all who serve in our Armed Forces face direct fire from our enemies.  Others, while willing to face fire, are needed either in support roles or, like Uncle Jim, their 'boat' arrives too late.  But all make sacrifices.  Some give their lives.  All give up time with friends and family.  And others give up things that don't seem quite as important but which are significant to them, such as a gold pocket watch.  And to all who have made those sacrifices, I say thank you." "
Book Review: Fresh Elastic for Stretched-Out Moms
Author: Barbara Johnson
Date: 1986
Publisher: Fleming H. Revell
ISBN: 0-8007-5203-1
Length: 185 pages, with “diploma”
Quote: “Barbara Johnson understands the hopelessness that you experience when your children choose rebellious life-styles, commit suicide, or severely hurt you in some other manner.”
That’s from the publishers’ blurb, not from Barbara Johnson, but that’s the kind of “book of consolation” this is. Johnson “has been God’s love and the therapy of laughter and assures us that we too can learn to laugh and live again.” Some people have found this book helpful; it's a bestseller. It contains Bible references as well as jokes, cartoons, verse, and family stories.
My personal feeling is that if I’d had a son (or, given my age, an older brother) who was killed in Vietnam, and then another son (or brother) who declared himself homosexual, my priority would have been opposing the draft rather than composing a book of the kind of verse, jokes, and cartoons that used to be tacked up on psychotherapists’ bulletin boards...but many women credit Johnson’s “Spatula Ministries” with having helped them survive their heartaches, and this book was written for them. 

I can offer this tip: Whether a woman loves this book or hates it, she should hide it from the men in her life. The phrase “Stretched-Out Moms” tends not to suggest spiritual “uplift” or emotional consolation to them. 

However, the contents of Fresh Elastic include lots of material that can be used to make lectures easier to listen to. Some of it's laugh-out-loud funny, and some of it's not funny at all. Johnson avoided interdenominational controversy well; this book could be useful to any kind of Christian teacher. Non-Christian teachers could also use it, but it's not written for them.

Barbara Johnson no longer needs the $1 she'd get if you paid $5 for the book + $5 shipping to buy Fresh Elastic from me online. Better prices are available, so if you're an online shopper, go ahead and buy it from someone else. (If you're a local lurker who doesn't order things online, I can still order it for you.)

Baby's Cap and Jacket

This baby's cap and bonnet may have been inspired by 1930s ladies' styles, with lace on the waist and sleeves and plain knitting around the shoulders. In real life the color is pale orange, like the orange sherbet in a Dreamsicle.

Size: 6 months to 1 year old

Material: Acrylic, machine laundry-safe

Price: $10 for the set + $5 for shipping

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Book Review: Toons for Our Times

A Fair Trade Book

Title: Toons for Our Times
Author: Berke Breathed
Date: 1984
Publisher: Little Brown & Company
ISBN: none
Length: 92 pages
Illustrations: cartoons on every page, some in color
Quote: “He was a crook and a shnook...but I always did like ol’ Senator Bedfellow.”
Bloom County. What more need I say? During the 1980s, fictional Bloom County was the funniest place to be.
The places: A boardinghouse occupied by single and divorced men, their sons, and a bird who considered himself a penguin. (When critics said Opus Penguin looked more like a puffin, Breathed looked up both species and demonstrated that Opus didn’t really look like either.) Young Binkley’s bedroom in the boardinghouse, featuring the Anxiety Closet managed by the Giant Purple Spotted Snorklewacker monster. A meadow, frequently occupied by the boys, occasionally some girls, a thoroughly nice paraplegic man, and a few animals. The office of the Bloom Beacon newspaper, where the children and animals sometimes worked. A barr, where the men spent a lot of time staring into empty glasses.
The population: Binkley, the anxiety-prone middle school boy, subject to frequent nightmares about current news stories. His father, most often seen sitting up in bed when Binkley reported a nightmare. Milo, the verbose boy known for ludicrous exaggerations and tabloid-type news stories. Oliver, the computer geek, whose father absolutely forbids him to hack into government computers and (heh-heh) has no idea why the family never seems to owe any tax. Yaz, the girl who’d rather be hanging out with teenagers but has been discouraged enough on the teen scene to settle for the company of smaller, younger kids. Bill the Cat, who wasn’t particularly popular but once campaigned as the Meadow Party’s presidential candidate. Opus, the penguin who was Bill’s running mate, probably the most lovable character in the strip. John, the paraplegic who’d make somebody a perfect husband, if only...anyway, he spends a lot of time giving the children and animals rides around the meadow in his wheelchair. Steve, the chain-smoking lawyer who sees himself as “An American Stinker.” A few young women—in this book it’s Bobbi—who kiss John, then dump him for Steve, then lose Steve (usually thinking they dumped him because he’s such a stinker). The Snorklewacker. Plus a few grown-up minor characters who don’t live in the boardinghouse, e.g. Senator Bedfellow, who in this book has to spend jail time with a bunch of thugs who remember his advocacy of capital punishment, and some even more ridiculous figures who place ads and file complaints at the Beacon.
The targets of the jokes: News stories of the 1980s, especially nuclear armaments, heavy metal music, TV commercials, computer hackers, inadvertent “discrimination” against people with minor disabilities, personal ads, censorship of cartoons, corporate law, back-masked rock lyrics (yes, young readers, some classic rock artists had a lot of fun back-masking), Academy Awards, single bars, and presidential elections.

The main reason why people might not buy a copy of Toons for Our Times is that most older people already have one. It’s recommended to those who want to replace a lost or damaged copy, for younger “Outback” or “Opus” cartoon readers who warnt to catch up on the back-story, all who remember the 1980s, and anyone looking for authentic 1980s comedy. 

Fair Trade Book price is $5 + $5 for shipping, from which Breathed or a charity of his choice will receive $1.