Blog Posts

Vintage Book Prints on the Move

Throughout the summer, I have done some Etsy loitering and have noticed an emerging trend in upcycle art: vintage book prints. From beautiful images impressed on torn Bible pages to absurd quotes imprinted on ripped-out chapters of Pride and Prejudice, this art form is on the rise.

The images atop the prints are almost always translucent, offering the idea that rekindling books as art can act as a unique publishing palimpsest. Many times, I’m interested in perusing book prints just because the descriptions are so romantic. The books are referred to as “rescued” and the yellow pages due to lignin concentration in paper pulp is a “golden finish of old age.”

While book artists emboss everything from hipster skulls to sweet squids (above), I have fallen in love with the practice of screening typographical quotes onto vintage pages, especially when the quotes make the least amount of sense. Sometimes, the quotes take on a confessional quality too, which is always good. Where better to announce that you’re a bibliophile than on an actual book?

Pumpkin Cake: Recipe for a Happy Hobbit Day

Tomorrow marks the birthdays of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins in Tolkien’s tale. More than anything else, hobbits love food. In fact, they plan six meals a day, including breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, luncheon, dinner, and supper—not to mention afternoon tea. So what better way to celebrate Hobbit Day than to enjoy some Shire food?

The following Pumpkin Cake recipe might be a family recipe from my non-Shire homestead, but it compliments any hobbit meal and is handy for parties—especially unexpected ones.

ARGH (Our) Top 10 Favorite Pirates

Ahoy! Aaaargh! argh argh argh argh RUM me matey’s argh argh Walk the plank with ya! argh argh argh argh landlubber n’ wot ye swashbuckled git argh argh argh argh n’ I’ll feed ye to the fishies n’ argh argh argh avast me left hand’s a hook but I sail the seven seas argh argh argh (more rum) argh ARGH! 

TRANSLATION: In honor of International Talk Like A Pirate Day, here’s a list of 10 our favorite pirates. Argh.

1. CAPTAIN HOOK: Ah, yes. The scourge of Neverland, thus affirming the popular that all grownups are in fact evil pirates. Also known as “Black Stache,” the man we know as Captain James T. Hook (although even that is not his real name) is believed to have been a shipmate of the famous pirate Blackbeard, as well as the only man that Long John Silver himself ever feared. As for what brought him to Neverland in the first place, we may never know for certain, although storytellers have dared to reveal their own theories of this deep, dark secret.

Hook is perhaps the most iconic of the hook-handed pirates, having lost his right appendage in a swordfight with that rascally Peter Pan. In the true fashion of a deadly pirate, Hook fears only two things in the entire world: the crocodile that ate his severed hand, and the sight of his own blood.

2. LONG JOHN SILVER: The progenitor of all things that we have come to associate with pirates, despite the fact that he was merely the quartermaster, the man responsible for leading the boarding party onto the ships of their victims, and not a Captain of his own ship. With a prosthetic pegleg on his left side and a fast-talking parrot named Captain Flint (after the actual Captain of the ship, because he was such an intimidating figure that even his own boss was scared of him), the depiction of Long John Silver in Treasure Island set the bar for all fictional pirates to come.

His moral ambiguity, mutable allegiances, and strange sense of honor among thieves made him an intriguing and likeable rogue. Plus he has his own fast food chain, which is pretty much the most badass thing that any pirate has ever done.

3. THE SEA CAPTAIN FROM TALES OF THE BLACK FREIGHTER: Because in a world with actual superheroes it wouldn’t make sense for anyone to read superhero comic books, people in the world of Alan Moore’s Watchmen read pirate comic books instead. Through the course of the series, there is a young boy sitting by a newsstand on the street and reading a comic book called Tales of the Black Freighter, and the panels and narration from that comic book end up being intertwined with the panels and narration from the Watchmen comic book that you’re reading because, metafictional parallel narrative devices I guess. Is that a good reason? 

Tales of the Black Freighter tells the story of a man known only as the mariner or the Sea Captain who is the last serving member of his shipwrecked crew. He sees the ominous, evil The Black Freighter pirate ship approaching in the distance, and tries desperately to return to his home before the ship attacks and destroys his family. Not to give too much, but the story ultimately serves as a parallel to the story of Watchmen as a whole, and one character’s journey in particular. But this is not happy drunk pirates; this is dark, scary, evil pirates who do horrible, horrible things (let’s just say the story starts with someone building a raft out of the dead, bloated, waterlogged bodies of his former crewmates, and it goes from there).

Top Ten Hobbit References in Popular Culture

It's almost Hobbit Day! This very special day of Tolkien Week is celebrated every September 22nd in honor of Frodo and Bilbo Baggins’ birthdays. Or at least it’s been celebrated since 1978 when the American Tolkien Society announced it. So go outside, take off your shoes, break out your favorite Tolkien tome and celebrate all things Hobbit in style

Here are some of the top Hobbit related pop-culture references to get you in the Hobbit Day spirit. Let us know how you’ll be celebrating in the comments!

1. THE BALLAD OF BILBO BAGGINS: Oh the ‘60s. An era of war, love, and a time when Leonard Nimoy sang a song about the exploits of Bilbo Baggins for fun and profit.

Complete with women in elf ears and pixie cuts, this retro song features glorious lyrics like, “Hobbits are a peace-loving folks you know, they don’t like to hurry and they take things slow. They don’t like to travel away from home, they just want to eat and be left alone.” Do not mess with a Hobbit and their second breakfast!

2. SOUTH PARK: This parody episode titled The Return of the Fellowship of the Ring to the Two Towers comes complete with an epic quest, six grade Ringwraiths and plenty of “my precious” jokes. Not to mention the usual irreverence we expect from Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

Bonus: Gandalf the Grey also appears in the Imaginationland episodes as part of the Council of Nine alongside the Jesus allegory lion Aslan.

3. FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS: Real life New Zealand band turned semi-fictional HBO parodies of themselves Bret MacKenzie and Jemaine Clement create and star in a LotR themed music video for their song Frodo, Don’t Wear the Ring. Dressed as Hobbits of course.

This is made even funnier when you consider that Bret starred in The Two Towers as the fan favorite and fan named character Figwit. He is also an Oscar winner, so amend that to Figwit: Oscar winner. Yeah, that’s a thing.

Four Metaphors, Made Tangible as Bookshelves

Photo by David Trawin

Sometimes a bookshelf holds books. Sometimes a bookshelf holds other things. But, occasionally, a bookshelf holds something intangible. Sometimes the idea behind a bookshelf is much more interesting than the books it holds. I know, blasphemy right?!

Books are full of symbolism, metaphor, and concepts that reach out beyond the words and physical pages of the book. Why can’t a bookshelf be more like the books on it? Why can’t a bookshelf be more than just a receptacle for the heavy burden of stories, ideas, conspiracy, and knowledge?

In fact, a bookshelf can be much much more than it seems. Below, you’ll find five bookshelves that contain ideas just like the hunks of paper, words, and glue that sit upon them.

Popcorn for the Apocalypse

Nothing different. That is exactly what I would do if the world’s end was supposedly near. That was my response to the Y2K panic and The Rapture, so if anything, I am consistent.


Subscribe to