‘His colleagues called him Filth, but not out of irony. It was because he was considered to be the source of the old joke, Failed In London Try Hong Kong.’ Jane Gardem, Old Filth


M. C. Escher Pop-Ups

By Jesse Kornbluth
Published: Nov 25, 2014
Category: Art and Photography

A Christmas Carol: In the 19th and 20th centuries, kids sat dutifully for all 28,000 words of the holiday classic. They won’t today, so I gently cut the Dickens classic to 13,000 words and Paige Peterson created new illustrations. Now we’re stepping into Web 2.0 with a video that explains how and why — and why Dickens would approve. The paperback and Kindle are available here. There are also some signed copies at our favorite East Side destination, The Corner Bookstore, Madison Avenue and 93rd Street.
Advice, please: This site traditionally sponsors a charity project at the holidays, and, within reason, I match your gifts. Once we sent supplies to under-equipped soldiers in Iraq; last year we gave to food banks. This year? I’d welcome your ideas.
I began yesterday by writing the President of the University of Virginia, a college that’s had no great interest in removing predatory males from campus, that it was too late for her to reform the school’s “rape culture” — our daughter would never apply there. I followed that by writing to the head of my daughter’s school, suggesting a meeting to advise parents which colleges were reasonably safe for its college applicants. I ended the day by watching a prosecutor with a perfect record in indicting police — he’s now 0 for 5 — fill the air with everything but answers to obvious questions. After a day like that — a day of heartache some of you may have also experienced — I thought: Let’s have some unreality, let’s have some beauty, some genius, something that might inspire us and our kids. And here it is…

Twenty years from now, someone will make a breakthrough in the arts, technology or design, and remark, “Well, when I was a kid, there was this book….”

He or she will mean “M.C. Escher Pop-Ups.”

It’s only 16 pages. By conventional standards, a wisp of a book. Really: a pamphlet.

But we do not judge Escher by conventional standards.

Only those who attempt the absurd will achieve the impossible.

And when we consider that this book takes his work into the third dimension, we — well, some of us, anyway — get excited. (To buy the book from Amazon, click here.

Are you really sure that a floor can’t also be a ceiling?

Maurits Cornelis Escher (1898-1972) was a draftsman whose exacting vision and precise technique led him to explore the relationship between art and mathematics. In 1922, he visited the Alhambra, a 14th Century castle in Granada, Spain; its intricate carvings and optical tricks inspired him to go deeper into mathematical creation. He’d go on to create 448 lithographs, woodcuts and wood engravings and more than 2,000 drawings and sketches, many of them mathematically-inspired — and to write so well on the subject that some academics considered him a research mathematician. (For more about Escher and more Escher books, click here.)

“The things I want to express are so beautiful and pure.”

M.C. Escher, on a flat page, is a contact high. As pop-ups? Hang on.

Short takes

A Christmas Carol (because…Christmas)

We’re doing something new with the abridged version of “A Christmas Carol.” It’s called…Marketing. For Head Butler, that means putting a toe into the video universe. Read about the book and Kindle here, and gawk at this baby step….

Brandy Clark: ‘You were lyin’ there with nothing on/ But a goofy little grin and a platinum blonde’

You were lyin’ there with nothing on
But a goofy little grin and a platinum blonde
I can’t believe you’d do that on our bed
I got a pistol and I got a bullet
And a pissed off finger just’a itchin’ to pull it
The only thing keepin’ me from losin’ my head is…

I hate stripes and orange ain’t my color
And if I squeeze that trigger tonight
I’ll be wearin’ one or the other
There’s no crime of passion worth a crime of fashion
The only thing savin’ your life
Is that I don’t look good in orange and I hate stripes

If you watch it, you will download it.

“Happy Hour” — a film you invested in — comes to New York

“Happy Hour” — written, produced and directed by Guest Butler Gretl Claggett, narrated by Julianne Moore and funded in part by Head Butler readers through Kickstarter — is an official selection at the New York No Limits Film Summit on 11/20 and the Williamsburg Independent Film Festival on 11/21. Awards are likely to follow — “Happy Hour” won the “Award for Excellence in Cinematography: Short Form” at the International Festival of Cinematic Arts in LA and has been an official selection at a number of festivals around the country, garnering nominations for three Maverick Movie Awards.

Reader Mail (Advertisements for myself)

From Paul Zengilowski

My children will turn 19 and 21 in a few weeks and the birthday gift choice falls to me. My wife and I bought them books by the bushel when they were young — some they chose, more often though, we exercised our parental prerogative. That stopped as they entered their mid-teens and felt more confident in their choices than in ours.

I’ve not bought them books in years — with two exceptions. The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need, by Andrew Tobias, was a high school graduation gift. Knowing that having the money talk with them would be fruitless, I passed on to them my financial bible. I’d read it when it was first issued and it has served to keep me mostly on the financial straight and narrow over the last 30 years.

The second exception is their birthday present for this year: The 100 Essentials. Should they read only those two books, I’m confident they’ll enter adulthood with important and foundational knowledge that will serve them well.

from Marcie

You recommended Queen’s Gambit to me when I asked for the most grabable book you could think of. I loved it. It’s difficult to articulate precisely what the dark magic of that book is, but I found it fascinating — the characters, all of them, were like no others I’ve encountered. The relationship between Beth and her adopted mother was so subtle. I love that Tevis never capitulates to cliché or sentimentality. Elegant. Thank you for urging me to read it.