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Give Books: Your Final Chance to Win Ten Free Books!

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on November 16, 2012

BOOK CONTEST!: All this week I will be reviewing books courtesy of Chronicle Books. And all this week one of you will have a chance to win all ten books featured on this site. To enter, simply post a comment on this site that reads “WHO DOESN’T LIKE BOOKS?!?” under one of the “Give Books” posts (five in all this week), followed by a nice statement about cats. Why a statement about cats? Because I’m running this contest. The winner will be chosen the very old-fashioned sweepstakes method–by my drawing one name from a hat. Just note, however, that multiple entries will still only result in one name slip in the hat (which I am now renaming the “Contest Entry Receptacle”). Contest Ends Sunday, November 18th. Good luck!

And in the meantime from now through December 31, enjoy 30% off + free ground shipping on all holiday orders at ChronicleBooks.com! Enter discount code GIVEBOOKS at checkout.

Darth Vader™ and Son
By Jeffrey Brown
There’s a reason Ted Forth watches The Star Wars Holiday Special every Thanksgiving weekend despite the fact that recasting Star Wars as a variety show and being co-written by Bruce Vilanch should have been a heads-up to even an 11-year-old who just wanted to see the very first appearance of Boba Fett only to wonder why Princess Leia sounded like she just left six consecutive dentist appointments. There’s a reason Ted Forth’s entire retirement fund is based not only on his collection of unopened Kenner Star Wars action figures but also a once-played copy of Christmas in the Stars: Star Wars Christmas Album (featuring Jon Bon Jovi’s first record appearance). That reason is that Ted Forth is me (something one usually has to admit in therapy) and that I will always have a childlike love for the first three films. And only the first three films. Okay, the climactic duel between Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon against Darth Maul at the end of Phantom Menace is pretty damn spectacular. But don’t even try to pretend that Revenge of the Sith had any merit. I’d rather watch Bea Arthur as a Mos Eisley bartender in the holiday special than see even one frame of that movie again.

Anyway, this is a rather circuitous way of explaining that naturally I find Darth Vader™ and Son an endearing, enjoyable comic read. Each page offers another cartoon reimagining a far happier father-and-son relationship that features unfortunate trips to the toy store, sibling rivalry, and even Darth proudly saying “That’s my son” as Luke is awarded the medal for destroying the first Death Star. It’s a very welcomed, far more humorous and lighthearted official take on the iconic movie series that lets you think, “Okay, maybe I can mentally accept the idea of a Star Wars VII since, like this book, Lucas will personally have nothing to do with it.”

Cat Getting Out of a Bag and Other Observations
By Jeffrey Brown
Yes, another must-have book by Jeffrey Brown. And yes, another book subject that is near and dear to my heart. (Really, did you think we would actually go all week without even one cat book?) Less traditional comic strips than comical reflections on cat behavior, the book is an outright charming, almost meditative look at such cat activities as suddenly becoming maniacally fascinated with a speck of dirt on the wall, thoughtfully reacting to their sad person, and rearranging a desk with great flourish. Each page perfectly captures a cat’s daily habits and longings with quiet dignity and the occasional drool. It truly is a beautiful little book.

Thank you to all who read these reviews and entered the contest! And remember–Contest Ends Sunday, November 18th! Good luck, everyone!

Previously on “Give Books: The Giveaway”:
Tartine and The Where, the Why, and the How: 75 Artists Illustrate Wondrous Mysteries of Science
The Art of Monsters, Inc. and Ramayana–Divine Loophole
The Complete Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook, ACME Catalog: Quality is Our #1 Dream, and Geek Battle: The Game of Extreme Geekdom
Cartoon Modern: Style and Design in Fifties Animation

Give Books: Yet Another Chance to Win Ten Free Books!

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on November 15, 2012

BOOK CONTEST!: All this week I will be reviewing books courtesy of Chronicle Books. And all this week one of you will have a chance to win all ten books featured on this site. To enter, simply post a comment on this site that reads “WHO DOESN’T LIKE BOOKS?!?” under one of the “Give Books” posts (five in all this week), followed by a nice statement about cats. Why a statement about cats? Because I’m running this contest. The winner will be chosen the very old-fashioned sweepstakes method–by my drawing one name from a hat. Just note, however, that multiple entries will still only result in one name slip in the hat (which I am now renaming the “Contest Entry Receptacle”). Contest Ends Sunday, November 18th. Good luck!

And in the meantime from now through December 31, enjoy 30% off + free ground shipping on all holiday orders at ChronicleBooks.com! Enter discount code GIVEBOOKS at checkout.

Tartine
By Elisabeth Prueitt,and Chad Robertson
They say that if you study one topic long enough eventually you will know all topics, since everything is interrelated in some fashion (though an in-depth knowledge of Star Wars tertiary characters has yet to allow me a greater understanding of bioluminescence or macroeconomic marginal analysis). And so it is for my mom, who is a voracious reader but has always had a passion for studying cooking. As of this moment she has 1500 cookbooks, all carefully organized by subject matter (with color-coded spine labels) in my parents’ house, making for a Library of Alexandria by way of Long Island. Through these books she has learned about history, geography, politics, culture, and why her Portuguese brethren have to put ten bags of sugar into every cookie. Of course, this passion does engender its own sort of mania, as when several years ago my mom stood outside Julia Child’s house in Cambridge until security had to intervene. (Of course, to my mom Julia Child is an absolute saint, which yields its own sort of fervor.)

So I’m always on the lookout for new cookbooks to give to my mom. And because of my mom I’ve also developed a strong appreciation for well-written and visually inviting cookbooks. The James Beard Award-Winning Tartine, by the creators of the famous San Francisco bakery of the same name, is a highly entertaining, instructive, and helpful guide to making some unbelievably amazing baked goods and desserts that will have your guests saying. “You didn’t make this! You could never make something this good! Why do you lie?! Why are you such a stinky, stinky liar?!” Or maybe just my guests. I have very judgmental guests.

The Where, the Why, and the How: 75 Artists Illustrate Wondrous Mysteries of Science
By Jenny Volvovski, Julia Rothman, and Matt Lamothe
People have always told me “You would be great with kids” which I think is another way of saying “You think like a kid” and which I fear is actually a way of saying, “I’d give it about five minutes in your care before my kid was snatched by condors.” But should I ever be fortunate to have children I would very much like to have a book like this at the ready to help me answer those kid questions that would otherwise cause me to to utter such incompetent responses as “Well, the thing about that is…” “That is a a good questions. That is a very good question. Koosh ball?” or “What exactly in the three years you’ve known me has given you any idea that I know the first thing about the circadian clock?”

Thankfully, there is The Where, the Why, and the How: 75 Artists Illustrate Wondrous Mysteries of Science to prepare me for such queries as “What is the origin of the moon?” “Why do pigeons bob their heads when they walk” and “Why don’t animals’ muscles atrophy during hibernation?” should your child really want to trip you up. Pairing leading scientists with top artists, the book is a wonderful exploration of science and a celebration of imagination. Plus, it explains why cats purr, and that alone helps the book score my recommendation.

Please join me tomorrow for the final installment as I review two cartoon books by the same artist, one a favorite topic of Ted Forth (and yours truly) and the other a favorite topic of mine (and perhaps Ted Forth, since the line between the two of us fades a little more every day).

Previously on “Give Books: The Giveaway”:
The Art of Monsters, Inc. and Ramayana–Divine Loophole
The Complete Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook, ACME Catalog: Quality is Our #1 Dream, and Geek Battle: The Game of Extreme Geekdom
Cartoon Modern: Style and Design in Fifties Animation

Give Books: Still Another Chance to Win Ten Free Books!

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on November 14, 2012

BOOK CONTEST!: All this week I will be reviewing books courtesy of Chronicle Books. And all this week one of you will have a chance to win all ten books featured on this site. To enter, simply post a comment on this site that reads “WHO DOESN’T LIKE BOOKS?!?” under one of the “Give Books” posts (five in all this week), followed by a nice statement about cats. Why a statement about cats? Because I’m running this contest. The winner will be chosen the very old-fashioned sweepstakes method–by my drawing one name from a hat. Just note, however, that multiple entries will still only result in one name slip in the hat (which I am now renaming the “Contest Entry Receptacle”). Contest Ends Sunday, November 18th. Good luck!

And in the meantime from now through December 31, enjoy 30% off + free ground shipping on all holiday orders at ChronicleBooks.com! Enter discount code GIVEBOOKS at checkout.

The Art of Monsters, Inc.
Introduction by John Lasseter,and Pete Doctor
Pixar Studios to me today is what Skywalker Ranch was from the 70’s up until the “Midichlorian Count” scene in The Phantom Menace–a place of almost limitless wonder and joy that I would try to break into if I weren’t so law-abiding and inept with glass cutters, wire snippers, and even allen wrenches. Fortunately, Pixar’s The Art of series of books allows me that special entry not only into the environment but the very minds of some of the best visual artists and storytellers working today. And though I have great unbridled awe and affection for The Incredibles and Toy Story movies, The Art of Monsters, Inc. is perhaps the strongest of the series, offering countless sketches, works-in-progress, and just page after page of unfettered imagination that has convinced me that secretly lowering myself via cable drop into Pixar’s headquarters a la Topkapi (or “homage” Mission Impossible) is not only completely unnecessary but also may not be the best way for me to spend a free Saturday.

Ramayana–Divine Loophole
By Sanjay Patel
And speaking of Pixar, Sanjay Patel has been a longtime storyboard artist and animator at the studio, working on such films as Monsters Inc, Toy Story 2, and The Incredibles. But he has also made a name for himself producing absolutely spectacular illustrated books, using his bold, modern art style to capture the vitality and spirit of the classic stories of his Hindu faith. And so it is with Ramayana, the age-old adventure of a prince-turned-god who must battle flying monkeys, countless monsters, magic weapons, and a demon king to save the love of his life, resulting in a gorgeous work that reads like an epic and comes fully alive with all the graphic and storytelling skills that have been his hallmark while working at Pixar.

Please join me tomorrow as we review a cookbook (yes, a cookbook) and a new book that promises to help explain the greatest mysteries of science.

Previously on “Give Books: The Giveaway”:
The Complete Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook, ACME Catalog: Quality is Our #1 Dream, and Geek Battle: The Game of Extreme Geekdom
Cartoon Modern: Style and Design in Fifties Animation

Give Books: Win Ten Free Books from Chronicle Books!

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on November 13, 2012

BOOK CONTEST!: All this week I will be reviewing books courtesy of Chronicle Books. And all this week one of you will have a chance to win all ten books featured on this site. To enter, simply post a comment on this site that reads “WHO DOESN’T LIKE BOOKS?!?” under one of the “Give Books” posts (five in all this week), followed by a nice statement about cats. Why a statement about cats? Because I’m running this contest. The winner will be chosen the very old-fashioned sweepstakes method–by my drawing one name from a hat. Just note, however, that multiple entries will still only result in one name slip in the hat (which I am now renaming the “Contest Entry Receptacle”). Contest Ends Sunday, November 18th. Good luck!

And in the meantime from now through December 31, enjoy 30% off + free ground shipping on all holiday orders at ChronicleBooks.com! Enter discount code GIVEBOOKS at checkout.

The Complete Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook
I always figured that if the world should experience some cataclysmic do-over–because of war, contagion, or birdemic–as a professional writer/cartoonist I would prove utterly useless in a new society that would require people with actual mental and physical skills and not one who can readily recall the Partridge Family episode where they sing with whales, thinkinging that might help should we all be attacked by the cannibals of The Road or the Civil War-era foot soldiers of Revolution. Nor would it prove of any value when civilization would eventually break down into two warring factions–“The Feral Slashers” and “The Milksop Fops”–only for the ensuing battle to be swift and decisive as I clutch my powdered wig and wonder how my 6th grade Trapper Keeper failed to deliver even a glancing blow to my enemy.

But now thanks to The Complete Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook I now know I have a fighting chance. From “How to Survive an Elephant Stampede” should the animals reclaim the frozen earth like in 12 Monkeys to “How to Stop a Runaway Golf Cart” should the zombies assume control of Augusta National, I now know I am ready for anything that the fates or a post-apocalyptic TV series MacGuffin can throw at me. Plus, this complete edition comes with a CD containing all 11 previously published handbooks, so you’ll have absolutely no excuse not to be ready for the aftermath, even if you did major in English.

ACME Catalog: Quality is Our #1 Dream
Of course, if you are going to go up against post-apocalyptic gangs, zombies, cannibals, or perhaps even Southwestern birds that you really should just leave alone in the first place, then you would almost certainly want to purchase some of the very fine wares featured in ACME Catalog: Quality is Our #1 Dream. True, the ACME company doesn’t exactly have the most stellar reputation when it comes to effective weaponry, means of transportation, or even tunnel paint. But what the book lacks in testimonials from satisfied customers it more than makes up for with such fondly-recalled and brand new whimsical (and rather capricious) products as “Tortoise Shell Body Armor,” “Jet-Powered Pogo Stick,” and “Integrating Pistol” (because, as the book says, “Everyone deserves a second chance”). And if you’ve never been in the market for a “Straightjacket Bazooka” then frankly I don’t even know why we’re talking in the first place.

Geek Battle: The Game of Extreme Geekdom
If, however, you want to engage in warfare that does not actually involve potential bodily harm by way of anvils or malfunctioning iron bird seed–and you want your knowledge of arcane pop culture facts to prove of useful service as opposed to a poor shield from crossbows–then I strongly suggest you step on to the hard-fought combat zone that is Geek Battle. Covering all of the crucial areas of expertise that inexplicably never showed up on college entrance exams or couldn’t get you a date until the whole world righted itself and made “geek” an attractive distinction, the game lets you proudly show your knowledge of sci-fi, fantasy, comics, video games, actual science, and technology on your way to victory or maybe at least someone’s phone number.

Please join me tomorrow as I review to Pixar-related tomes, one on a beloved movie, the other on a revered Hindu epic. And don’t forget to check out yesterday’s review: Cartoon Modern: Style and Design in Fifties Animation by Amid Amidi! And remember, you can win all of these by just entering the contest!

Give Books: “Cartoon Modern: Style and Design in Fifties Animation” by Amid Amidi

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on November 12, 2012

Books make the perfect gift: They’re intimate. They’re beautiful. They can inspire creativity and transport you to another world. Driven by a shared love of books, reading, and a commitment to support bookstores and literacy, Chronicle is launching a community-driven campaign to Give Books this holiday. We’re partnering with authors, artists, bloggers, bookstores, and librarians to share their favorite reads and inspire your gift-giving this season. Whether you love the smell of books, the feel of paper, or the sight of colorful spines lining the shelves, join us this holiday and Give Books. And now through December 31, enjoy 30% off + free ground shipping on all holiday orders at ChronicleBooks.com! Enter discount code GIVEBOOKS at checkout.

UPDATE–BOOK CONTEST!: All this week I will be reviewing books courtesy of Chronicle Books. And all this week one of you will have a chance to win all ten books featured on this site. To enter, simply post a comment on this site that reads “WHO DOESN’T LIKE BOOKS?!?” under one of the “Give Books” posts (five in all this week), followed by a nice statement about cats. Why a statement about cats? Because I’m running this contest. The winner will be chosen the very old-fashioned sweepstakes method–by my drawing one name from a hat. Just note, however, that multiple entries will still only result in one name slip in the hat (which I am now renaming the “Contest Entry Receptacle”). Contest Ends Sunday, November 18th. Good luck!

Anyone who knows me (or at least knows my comic strip avatar Ted Forth, who shares my geek passions and, sadly, my doll-like wrists) is well aware of my love of cartoons. From the “In a cartoon you can do anything” mantra of Tex Avery to the Brooklyn-bred woodland creatures of Warner Brothers, the sheer scope of canvas (and the inspired lunacy of the Goofy shorts) of Walt Disney to the unrivaled depth of character, narrative, and humanity that is Pixar–making certain to side-step the travesty of Hanna-Barbera, Filmation, and Ruby-Spears that nonetheless defined most of my happy childhood Saturday mornings–I have long been not just a fan but a fanatic of animation history and the artists who moved the craft forward.

But being the son of a graphic illustrator who got his start at the forefront of the Mad Men era, I’ve always had an almost heliotropic pull to the commercials designers who helped define that period by eschewing the bland attempts at realism that defined so much of thirties and forties print ads and magazine design. Consequently, I have a special place in my heart for the animators who took that very approach to cartooning, veering away from attempts to simply portray reality to bring animation to the modern world with abstract wit and bold sophistication. And fortunately for me (and hopefully you) there is a book that tells that story of the seismic shift in one media that helped an entire period of art.

Cartoon Modern: Style and Design in Fifties Animation has in the few years since its publication become a bible of an epoch in cartoon (and winner of the Theater Library Association Award). Replete with stunning visuals and encyclopedic knowledge, it’s a book I return to again and again for ideas, for inspiration, or just for a fantastic read. Written by Amid Amidi of Cartoon Brew fame (and who goes into further detail about his book on its own blog), Cartoon Modern illustrates both literally and figuratively how a handful of animators and especially one studio (UPA) dramatically changed the look of cartoons, commercials, educational and industrial films, poster and print design, and what the audience at large came to expect from all such media.

If you or someone you know loves animation, modern design and pop sensibilities, or–like Ted Forth– the “modern cartoon” classic Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol, this is certainly a great holiday book to give and get this season. And since it is the holidays, help Ted Forth ring in the season with one of his favorite songs from one of his very favorite animated specials (and the very first animated holiday program ever produced specifically for television). Enjoy!

Special Note: The “Give Books” logo is by the very talented Julia Rothman.

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