Monday, August 31, 2015

Pyramids For Gymnastic Displays: With a chapter on how to pose by Staff-Sergt. Moss.

Pyramids For Gymnastic Displays: With a chapter on how to pose by Staff-Sergt. Moss. Hardcover book (stiff card)(no dust jacket) published by Athletic Publications (no date, probably early 20th century), 74 pages with a few pages of advertising.

PYRAMIDS are a fitting termination to all gymnastic displays owing to the fact that every individual performing may take part in the final event, and show that not only do they excel in individual gymastics, but that they can work successfully in combination. Pyramids are, indeed, frequently the most effective and pleasing item in the programme of displays. The original idea of the Pyramid was to form a number of men in such a manner as to represent the outline of the famous Pyramids of Egypt. This idea has now, however, been largely lost sight of in subsequent development, and, to-day, a great deal of variety obtains in connection with gymnastic tableaux. Of course, the main thing to be studied in the presentation of a Pyramid is a graceful and striking effect. Care must be taken to ensure that the appearance of the tableaux is graceful and finished, as obviously, if the arrangement is clumsy, the general impression is bad, even although the desired outline may, to some extent, be obtained. In the succeeding pages there are illustrated many kinds of Pyramids, calling for a varying number of men, and arranged in many different ways. Any particular one may be selected, if necessary, ideas may be selected from a number and worked into one figure. This, however, should not prove necessary, as much time and thought has been used in making the selections thoroughly representative and complete. A few of these pieces have names, but the names have not been inserted, as, after much trouble, it has been found.

Oh yeah. I couldn't help myself.

Maybe it's just me but when I find a book such as this one and regardless of the condition (this copy has spent quite a bit of time tumbling and twirling), I feel the urge...

No, not the urge to get a group of people together and form a pyramid, but the urge to share this book with someone who genuinely loves this sort of thing... and who doesn't.

It was a different time back then and you may have noticed that I haven't listed a date, that's because there is no date on a book that is as timeless as this one. This was a time when fun meant doing very strange things for other people to admire. This was a time before the internet, a time when...

...ummm, this is a bit weird.  What's with the leopard skin? ... and no pyramid!!!... i guess this is posing. 

This is such a crazy book and it reminds me how much fun book hunting and selling can be. If only everyday could be a Pyramids for Gymnastic Display day. I love it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Complete Course In Pick Pocketing by Pierre Jacques.

Complete Course In Pick Pocketing by Pierre Jacques. Hardcover book published by Tannens Magic Manuscript 1983, 91 pages with black and white photographs.

Fortunately I have never had the displeasure of experiencing a strangers hands inside my pockets. That doesn't mean that there has never been a strange hand in my pocket as anyone who puts the information in this book to use would supposedly not be detectable and therefore I wouldn't notice this sort of thing happening:

I find these photos fascinating as they are so anonymous and victimless, yet we all know that pick pocketing is a crime... unless of course it's done in the name of entertainment!!!

When I first saw this book I hesitated and then noticed it was published by a Magic publisher... and still hesitated. Something that is so evil, could be used for evil... unless of course it is used for 'fun' magic purposes. I'm fairly sure that someone pick pocketing me in front of others would not be a 'fun' experience... but maybe that's just me and my perverse desire to not have things stolen from my person. As I write this with a little distance from my purchase point, I'm still a bit torn between whether this book is a good thing or not. It's definitely of interest, I just hope that I don't bump into the person who buys it, at a later date. …here, take my watch.

I'd like to see the face of someone who steals my watch when they realise that it's worth less than a fiver.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Paxette Guide: Making the most of the Paxette and Super Paxette Models by W.D. Emanuel.

Paxette Guide: Making the most of the Paxette and Super Paxette Models by W.D. Emanuel.

Paperback book (approx 12cm x 16cm x 4mm) published by The Focal Press 1957 (fourth edition), 72 pages with black and white illustrations and a few black and white photographs. Also contains a single page (folded) brochure for Agfa film.

This book is a guide to the Paxette and Super Paxette Cameras. The Paxette belongs to the small group of early post-war cameras which, through their original design (breaking away from many pre-war traditions), helped to create a new look and new trend in modern photography. At the same time they paved the way for numerous latecomers in the field of the inexpensive 35mm camera. The Paxette has no bellows, the lens being fitted rigidly to the camera front, thus doing away with opening up of the camera. It is fitted with a film transport coupled with the shutter tensioning and exposure counter. The viewfinder is an integral part built into the camera body.

Cameras have changed a bit since 1957. Most often they are now called “mobile phones” or “mobile devices”. Don't let the “phones” in the first one confuse you, it's a camera and sometimes a phone. You can still buy a camera, but I think I can confidently and arrogantly assert that more photos are taken on mobiles than on Cameras. Correct me if i'm wrong.

Despite the changing world of picture taking, there are those that persist with the camera and there are even those who appreciate the vintage camera. I know of at least 3 people who own and regularly use a real camera, 2 of these I would even catagorise as collectors of vintage cameras. It was with this knowledge of appreciators that saw me pick up this guide/manual for the Paxette. I had no idea what a Paxette was at the time, but fortunately due to the picture on the cover and the format of the book (small booklet size bordering on ephemera), I figured out that it was a camera and that this book had something to do with it. I guess it's all part of the learning curve that this bookseller is still curving through.  

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Born In A Tent: How Camping Makes Us Australian by Bill Garner.

Born In A Tent: How Camping Makes Us Australian by Bill Garner. Paperback book published by University Of New South Wales Press 2013, 288 pages with black and white photographs and illustrations as well as some colour illustrations and a few colour photographs.

Breathtakingly original, this book shows that the history of Australia can be told through a history of camping. Bill Garner reminds us that Australia was settled as a campsite — the nation was born in a tent. But while Europeans brought tents, they did not bring camping. Australia had been a camping place for millennia. And so it continued to be. For more than a hundred years, settlers — women as well as men — colonised the country by living under canvas. It changed them into a new sort of native Australian. It gave them a feel for the place, a wry can-do attitude, and a lasting taste for equality and it led to a sense of belonging.”

My family emigrated to Australia in the 1950s, which was a few years before I sprung into this world. It was post war (the second big one) and there was this thing known as assisted passage meaning that the Australian Government would pay you to come by boat and set up shop here in Australia... which is as far way from current Australian policies on immigration as you can get. It was that whole thing of better opportunities here, compared to post war Europe over there.

The story goes that my parents weren't 100% sure what would happen when they got here. I think there was a thought that they (my parents and 2 brothers who were both toddlers at the time) would be left standing on a pier with suitcases and a trunk... without any friends, absolutely no grasp of English and no where to stay. So my father hit upon the idea to pack a tent at the top of the trunk. They were coming by boat and he figured that they would be on or near a beach and they could set up a tent as temporary accommodation. In the end this was not necessary as Australian officials took care of them.

The reason I mention this is of course related to the whole tent/camping thing that this book, Born in a Tent, is all about. For my family it was a real option to live under canvas as many people had done before. They were part of the European colonisation of Australia, not necessarily early colonisation, but colonise they did. The book doesn't look at post war immigrants camped on the shores of Port Phillip Bay but does cover a large swathe of Australian history. I'd like to think that my parents “wry can-do attitude” re camping upon arrival was the beginning of their Australianisation and in a way they were part of the history of Australian camping... even though they didn't do it. It was an idea and in retrospect, it was an Aussie idea... at least i'd like to think so. 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Rude Kids: The Unfeasible Story of Viz by Chris Donald.

Rude Kids: The Unfeasible Story of Viz by Chris Donald. Hardcover book published by Harper Collins 2004, 378 pages with colour and black and white photographs, one colour illustration and some black and white illustrations. SIGNED COPY

This is the fascinating rag-mag-to-riches story of Viz, as told by its creator Chris Donald, who started the magazine in 1979 and remained its editor for 20 years. Chris tells how the tasty fanzine he threw together in his Newcastle bedroom became one of the UK’s bestselling magazines. He explains the origins of comic characters like Roger Mellie, Biffa Bacon and the Fat Slags. As Viz flourished and those characters became household names, Chris’s life changed dramatically. He was invited to St James’s Palace for dinner by Prince Charles, and to New Scotland Yard for questioning by the Anti-Terrorist Branch. He wined and dined the lovely Catherine Zeta-Jones, played celebrity football with, erm... Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards and caught his wife up to no good with Keith Richards in Peter Cook’s attic. But it’s not all celebrities, sex and drugs. Chris also gives a unique insight into how Viz affected himself, his family and friends, and tells of the fall-outs and controversy that came with the magazine’s phenomenal success.”

...and who hasn't had a chortle at Viz at some stage in their lives. I mean, it's not the sort of thing one want's to read everyday or over an extended period of time*, but you haven't lived unless you've read at least one issue of Viz from cover to cover**. Fat Slags, Finbarr Saunders and his double entendres, Johnny Fartpants etc, hilarious... well... at least interesting and they are all part of the phenomena which has something of a cult following here in Australia, unlike in the UK where it is so much more than a quaint, crude/rude, politically incorrect, offensive and out there magazine.

This book was written by the founder of this phenomenon and very kindly he even managed to scribble his name on it ('s signed). To think that a man who could dream up a character with oversized testicles, has touched this book. Amazing. He mostly retired from the magazine in 1999 which is not really that surprising... If you look up Viz on line there have been many court cases and controversies over the years and i'm sure that by the time anyone, in this case Chris Donald, gets to the age of 39, fart jokes just aren't as funny as they once were*. What I am most impressed about is that his wife was “up to no good with Keith Richards in Peter Cook’s attic.” Now there's a story that's worth telling and I guess that's what Chris has done in this book.

**A bit like Moby Dick.