Walt Whitman was into paleo and wrote a “Manly Health and Training” guide with sex tips

It me, Walt Whitman.
Leaves of Grass? He probably ate them now and then.

A scholar at the University of Houston in Texas has discovered a 13-part, 47,000-word series by Walt Whitman, published by the New York Atlas in 1858, under the pseudonym Mose Velsor.

Under that most macho of aliases, “Manly Health and Training” amounts to a "part guest editorial, part self-help column," a “rambling and self-indulgent series” that reveals Walt Whitman's thoughts on a variety of manly-man topics. Including sex.

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The Sartorialist – NYC stylish strangers happily caught by a candid camera


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The Sartorialist by Scott Schuman Penguin Books 2009, 512 pages, 5.2 x 7.4 x 1.6 inches (softcover) $19 Buy a copy on Amazon

Scott Schuman once worked in the fashion industry but found that the outfits that amateurs wore on the streets of New York City to be a lot more interesting than those from famous designers. He began photographing people on the street who caught his eye, and, with their permission, posted their images on his blog, The Sartorialist. His street photos had their own style, and soon fashion followers were happy to be caught by Schumans’s candid camera. Soon The Sartorialist blog became legendary in the fashion world. It was also the first of many photo blogs to feature street fashion – showcasing what people with a personal flair wore everyday. This brick of a book collects the best of The Sartorialist’s first 10 years of images. It works as a one-stop shop of hip clothing designs; it also works as a document of “what they wore” in 2010; and it also works as a cool gallery of contemporary fashion photography. It lacks the richness of the life stories in Humans of New York, but it gains something by focusing so obsessively on the design decisions of creative people. A second volume called The Sartorialist X, takes Schuman outside of New York to other cities of the world. Read the rest

The secret history of Mac gaming


With its high-resolution monochrome display, the early Mac didn't fit easily into the gaming mainstream, where chunkier, colorful graphics were the norm well into the 90s. But as a result it generated a culture of its own, focused around detailed artwork, literary experimentation and powerful tools such as Hypercard. This history is often ignored, but Richard Moss is setting the record straight.

His book, The Secret History of Mac Gaming, shares the stories behind the often-whimsical 80s Mac games and glorifies the unique "1-bit" art style that emerged from the technology.

Mac gaming welcomed strange ideas and encouraged experimentation. It fostered passionate and creative communities who inspired and challenged developers to do better and to follow the Mac mantra "think different".

The Secret History of Mac Gaming is the story of those communities and the game developers who survived and thrived in an ecosystem that was serially ignored by the outside world. It's a book about people who made games and people who played them — people who, on both counts, followed their hearts first and market trends second. How in spite of everything they had going against them, the people who carried the torch for Mac gaming in the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s showed how clever, quirky, and downright wonderful videogames could be.

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The Pharos Gate: Griffin and Sabine's Lost Correspondence


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The Pharos Gate: Griffin & Sabine's Lost Correspondence by Nick Bantock Chronicle Books 2016, 60 pages, 8.2 x 8.2 x 0.8 inches $17 Buy a copy on Amazon

The lovelorn nostalgia and mystical voyeurism of an extraordinary correspondence return in the latest edition of the Griffin & Sabine saga, The Pharos Gate. This is the seventh book in the bestselling series by Nick Bantock and it brings several questions about the unusual love story to a satisfying end. As you might recall, Griffin and Sabine share a peculiar connection through their mail and art that seems to allow them to transcend space and time. As they fall deeper in love, danger looms and they are forced to dodge and hedge around the globe in an attempt to unite. Bantock disappointed some fans by leaving the fate of the lovers somewhat ambiguous at the conclusion of the third book and then launching a new storyline in the fourth book surrounding another unlikely pair of sweethearts. The ultimate fate of Griffin and Sabine remained tantalizingly mysterious until last month with the release of The Pharos Gate. Readers will finally find the answers scrawled in between the lines of the missing letters as Bantock revisits correspondence that has eluded us for more than a decade.

Perhaps in answer to the frustration of fans, this latest edition pays particular attention to recreating the feel of the first books. Fascinatingly strange, juxtaposed images of Egyptian gods and sketches of animals mingle and crowd the pages. Read the rest

Bellwether: Connie Willis's classic, hilarious novel about the science of trendiness


It's been nearly 20 years since the publication of Bellwether, Connie Willis's comic novel about scientists caught in the turmoil of bureaucratic fads. I had very fond memories of this book, though I hadn't read it in more than a decade, so I gave the DRM-free audiobook a whirl, and fell in love with it all over again. Read the rest

Humans, make room for Felines of New York!


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Felines of New York: A Glimpse into the Lives of New York's Feline Inhabitants by Jim Tews Simon and Schuster 2015, 240 pages, 7.4 x 9.1 x 0.7 inches (softcover) $11 Buy a copy on Amazon

A beautiful book with glossy pages, the photographs of the myriad cats in Felines of New York are as diverse as the cats themselves: single portraits that occupy a single page, several that spread across two, working cats, attentive cats, cats ignoring the photographer – all are portrayed. Lolo, a silver tabby in Park Slope, is quoted as saying, “For me, showing love is more about what I won’t do than what I will do. For example, if I love you, I won’t shit outside your bedroom door.” Jeddy, a cat from the Lower East Side, tells us, “My grandparents immigrated here from New Jersey with nothing, and now I have this box. I wish they could see me. They’d be like 'How the f--- did you get that box? We never had a box.' But I don’t know, the box kind of showed up and so I sat in it.”

Author and photographer Jim Tews takes snapshots of the cats he encounters in New York – both feral and community cats, as well as those that live with human owners. From the purebred to those with dubious origins, the photographs are beautiful portraits of cats in their habitats, and short interviews provide insight to their lives. Read the rest

A Burglar's Guide to the City: burglary as architectural criticism

For years, Geoff Manaugh has entertained and fascinated us with his BLDGBLOG, and now he's even better at full-length, with A Burglar's Guide to the City (previously), a multidisciplinary, eclectic, voraciously readable book that views architecture, built environments, and cities themselves through the lens of breaking-and-entering.

Humans of New York - Photos of random strangers in NYC and their life stories


See sample pages of Humans of New York at Wink.

Brendon Stanton started photographing random strangers in New York City in 2010. He treated each of them like a celebrity, portraying them in a classy portrait on the street. He then added a little bit of their life story in their own words. These mini-autobiographies were the secret sauce that transformed random snapshots of strangers into a remarkable series of portraits of real people that you could connect with. Brandon posted his photos-plus-bio on his blog, Humans of New York, which quickly went viral on social media until he had millions of followers. The 400 best of his portraits were fan-funded into this printed book.

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'Wizard in a Witchy World' is an urban fantasy love story


Jamie McFarlane's Wizard in a Witchy World tells the tale of lost in love, current-era wizard Felix Slade.

Slade has a tough name, but thats about it. Generally having spent his life not in love, suddenly Felix is. Naturally, he falls in love with a witch, and they are hard to love. It doesn't help simplify matters that Slade has had a vision of the object of his desire dying, and must save her.

This cute, fast paced adventure includes a lot of strong world building. The lead character is not a big action seeking hero, and the story reflects that. It will be interesting to see where McFarlane takes this next.

Wizard in a Witchy World by Jamie McFarlane via Amazon Read the rest

An interview with Beverly Cleary about her inspiring books for children

Ramona Quimby illustration by Louis Darling

[Beverly Cleary is 100 years old today. Here's an entry I posted in 2006 about an NPR interview with the great children's book author.--Mark]

I'm over a month behind in listening to podcasts, so I just got around to listening to this NPR interview with Beverly Cleary. She just turned 90, and her mental acuity is better than most people half her age.

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Kickstarting Tak, a new Cheapass Game based on Patrick Rothfuss's "Wise Man's Fear"

animation (1)

Carol from Cheapass Games writes, "About a year ago, James Ernest started working with Patrick Rothfuss to make the game Tak a reality. Tak features in Patrick's novel, The Wise Man's Fear." Read the rest

Rad American Women – Athletes, writers, rock stars and other heroines who helped shape our world


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Activists, artists, pioneers. Rad American Women A-Z takes readers on an alphabetized journey through the lives of women throughout the country and across time “who fought,” “who led,” and “who soared.” Every woman’s story begins with an action: there are no passive heroines in this historical feminist primer.

Each biographical sketch by Kate Schatz is accompanied by a crisp, black and white print from Miriam Klein Stahl. The author and illustrator team create a tone that is both conversational and immediate. The brightly colored background of each portrait seeps across from image page to text, highlighting each woman’s name and drawing readers into her story. This alphabet book meets call to action lends itself to a wide range of readers, using accessible, explanatory language (“A union is an organization that helps protect the rights of people who have the same kind of job.”), bold, dynamic illustrations, and a traditional walk through each letter of the alphabet (“J is for Jovita,” and “K is for Kate.”). I’ve been reading it with my three year old knowing that even on the days we use it only to practice the alphabet, she’s getting a dose of empowerment and diverse herstory. Though many of the women profiled are easily recognizable agents of change, Rad American Women introduced me to others I hadn’t heard of and began to flesh out the origin stories and broader social contexts of the women I already knew. Through the work of greats like Billie Jean King, Angela Davis, Temple Grandin, and Maya Lin, this book does an excellent job introducing the concepts of identity, intersectionality, and straight-up girl power, simply by telling the stories of real, radical women. Read the rest

Something New: frank, comedic, romantic memoir of a wedding in comic form

Lucy Knisley is a favorite around these parts, a comics creator whose funny, insightful, acerbic and disarmingly frank memoirs in graphic novel form have won her accolades and admiration from across the field. With her latest book, Something New: Tales from a Makeshift Bride, Knisley invites us into her wedding, her love life, her relationship with her mother, and an adventure that's one part Martha Stewart, one part French farce comedy.

Supreme Court sends Authors Guild packing, won't hear Google Books case


The Authors Guild has been trying to get a court to shut down Google's book-scanning/book-search program for more than a decade. Read the rest

Jack Hunt's 'The Renegades' is the 'Red Dawn' of zombie novels

In Jack Hunt's 'The Renegades,' a small team of High School students survive the zombie apocalypse. At no point, however, will you be crying out "Wolverines!"

Castle Rock, Nevada has nothing going for it but an annual halloween-time zombie run. Naturally, several of the local High School's less-fitting-in sort have named themselves, titularly, "The Renegades" and are quite good at making it past all the fake zombies. The world has changed, and finally these bozos have a useful skill. Rapid fire teenage jokes and abuses result.

Hunt's story is someplace between Red Dawn and the Bad News Bears, except it needs Buttermaker. The Renegades filled a void I didn't know I was missing, sort of 'what would a John Hughes zombie story be?" Probably, something like this but with less poop jokes.

This is immature, but fun zombie comedy.

NOTE: The author of this post has only seen the 1984 Patrick Swayze 'Red Dawn' and not the 2012 re-make.

The Renegades (A Post Apocalyptic Zombie Novel) via Amazon Read the rest

The Everything Box: demonological comedy from Richard "Sandman Slim" Kadrey

Richard Kadrey's got more writing identities than anyone has any business having: cyberpunk pioneer (Metrophage); master of hardboiled supernatural fantasy (Sandman Slim); young adult author (Dead Set). Now, with The Everything Box, Kadrey delves into supernatural comedy and shows that he's funny as Hell, and can make Hell funnier than you'd believe.

Secret Hero Society is Batman for the Diary of a Wimpy Kid crowd


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Secret Hero Society: Study Hall of Justice is Batman for the Diary of a Wimpy Kid crowd. Ostensibly a graphic novel, Study Hall of Justice adds to the format with pages drawn like diary entries, or web chats between the heroes. Some pages are flyers for school events and some are progress reports or official school documents that Bruce annotates. Most of the plot is in traditional comic panels, but the real clues of the central mystery unfold in these unique pages.

The story is about a young Bruce Wayne enrolling in a Gotham prep school called Ducard. Immediately he feels something is off about the school, as everyone there seems more interested in misbehaving than studying, and the faculty appears supportive of this misconduct. Sharp readers will notice many Batman villains both as staff and students, and you’ll quickly figure out what is going on behind the scenes. Bruce makes it his mission to get to the bottom of it and expose whoever is at the top running this nefarious school. Helping him are a young Clark Kent and Diana Prince, which sets up a cool origin for the future crime team. Humor in the story comes from Bruce’s repeated attempts to be a good detective, training for his later moniker as “world’s greatest detective.”

While the story is fun and enjoyable and kids should get a lot out of it, my major gripe with the book is that you probably can’t introduce Batman this way because of the ending. Read the rest

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