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September 2012

Itching to Rule the World? Vordak the Incomprehensible Can Help!

September 29, 2012 | Claire | Comments (0)

Vordak"Greetings, inferior one.  I am Vordak the incomprehensible.  Who you are doesn't matter.  What does matter is my dastardly decision to add the world of book publishing to my growing list of conquests.  Without even trying very hard, I have created a book of such unbelievable brilliance that it dwarfs all other literature preceeding it throughout the course of human history."

One thing Vordak isn't, is modest.  One thing he is, though, is funny.  Very, very funny.  Oops!  I meant scary, of see, unlike the superheroes your son or daughter might have read about in the past, who are all about taking responsibility for your power, protecting the weak, and so on, Vordak is evil.  Just pure evil.  "I'm talking 'willing to pull the moon into a collision course with the Earth by means of a powerful, nuclear-powered tractor beam in order to get your way' evil."  And his books (he's up to three so far) are all about getting kids to discover their inner bad guy and rule the world.  I defy anyone to read this without laughing out loud at least once.  

How to Grow Up and Rule the World includes such useful information as selecting a gut-wrenchingly evil name, how to create a lair, and how to select a henchman.  Mr. Incomprehensible clearly knows his stuff.  Say, I wonder why he isn't ruling the world? 

This book is a great choice for middle-school readers who like their humour wacky and smart, and who still like lots of pictures enlivening their text.   Here are book trailers for the first two volumes:





Don't miss the other Vordak the Incomprehensible books, or Vordak's awesome website!


Setting an Elegant Table

September 17, 2012 | Claire | Comments (0)

If I were ever to indulge myself with a collection, I know exactly what it would be--table china (with perhaps a secondary collection of vintage tablecloths).  I'm not talking about collecting in one pattern, either--who would want to limit themselves when there's so much variety out there?  I come by my love of beautifully laid tables honestly--my mother set the bar very high, with rich and memorable tables set for every Christmas, Easter, and family event.  Her sense of aesthetics and occasion influenced me deeply.

Some truly wonderful books about table china have been published in the past several years--not dry lists of patterns and vDishalues, but browseable, involving and exquisitely photographed volumes.  My current favourite is Dish:  813 Colorful, Wonderful Dinner Plates by Shax Riegler. Riegler is a journalist, a collector of plateware and a scholar (his biography says that he is "now completing a Ph. D. from the Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture").  The focus here is definitely on the plates--the backdrops are clean, with no tablecloths or other accoutrements to distract the eye.  I love the variety we see here--from amazingly ugly Tortoiseshell ware (a trend in the 18th century) to themes such as monogrammed, floral, or animal patterns.  From antique to modern, from anonymous designers to dishware designed by Pablo Picasso or Alexander Calder, from children's plates to Christmas dishes, it's all here for us to admire.    My own favourites (although it's so hard to choose) include the seriously elegant dishes designed for the annual Nobel Prize banquet, and the playful, contemporary Jane Jenni melamine picnic plates.  Here are some interior shots from the book:


   Dish6 Dish4

Dish5 Dish2

  Dish1 Dish3


WedgA little narrower in scope, but equally gorgeous, is At Home With Wedgwood:  The Art of the Table  by Tricia Foley.  I have a weakness for Wedgwood china for two reasons--Wedgwood's Osborne pattern is the china I picked out when I married, and it's graced our table for many happy occasions with friends and family.  Also, I've met Lord Wedgwood briefly several years ago, and I found him to be a very warm and gracious man. 

Foley curates her selections by focussing on either a person and their collection, a designer, or a type of china with each chapter.  Although I associate Wedgwood primarily with classic traditional pieces, Foley also showcases some modern designers such as Vera Wang or Barbara Barry.  The photographs are luscious and the tableware is often shown as part of a set table or in some other vignette style. There is also an inspiring chapter on Wedgwood's famous basalt busts.  


Wedg Wedg3


Here's an unrelated shot of a teacup in my Osborne pattern:



Finally, here are some more "dishy" books in our collection:


Perfect Shabby Table