Wednesday, December 8, 2010

There Will Be Emancipation

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,

Still no real update on the job situation in San Francisco… but thanks to my “inside man” I know a few reasons for the delay. No worries. I’m confident that I’ll be hearing from them in the near future… and that they will insist on me being a part of their team. Then, there will probably be a lengthy transitional phase where I train my replacement(s) here in Tahoe, in the middle of our busiest time of year, then check out apartments in San Francisco, while learning the fine points of the new job (though pretty much the same) and meeting all the new people, then packing up all my stuff & moving. So yeah… it’s gonna be a busy time once it gets started so… not too worried about all of it. Besides, Bubbles is coming up for the weekend!!! Happy days… and here’s the news…

Eight-Digit Book - To some (like myself) it's just a bunch of bird pictures. To others, John James Audubon's "Birds of America" is a rare blend of art, natural history and craftsmanship, unique enough to sell for more than $10 million at a London auction Tuesday — making it the world's most expensive printed book. Yes, you read correctly. TEN MILLION DOLLARS for a bird-watching book. Some of the world's wealthiest book collectors had been anticipating the auction for months: it represents a chance to own one of the best preserved editions of Aubudon's 19th Century masterpiece, with its 435 hand-colored illustrations. The book sold for 6,500,000 pounds ($10,270,000) at a Sotheby's auction to an anonymous collector bidding by telephone (Batman?), the auction house said. While the Audubon volume holds the record for a printed book, a 72-page notebook of Leonardo da Vinci's handwritten notes and illustrations went for even more. Known as the Leicester Codex, the collection was bought by Bill Gates in 1994 for $31 million (and he’s been using the technological secrets within ever since, since DaVinci invented X Box). Each individual picture in "Birds of America" is so valuable there have been some fears the volume could be broken up and sold as 435 separate works of art. Experts believe that unlikely: the tome is probably more valuable intact. And collectors hold Audubon in such reverence that the notion of ripping apart a perfect copy would be akin to sacrilege. "Audubon's Birds holds a special place in the rare book market for several reasons," said Heather O'Donnell, a specialist with Bauman Rare Books in New York. "The book is a major original contribution to the study of natural history in the New World. "It's also one of the most visually stunning books in the history of print: The scale of the images, the originality of each composition, the brilliance of the hand coloring." Then there's the wow factor. "No one can rival John James Audubon for frontier glamour. The story of his lonely journey through the American wilderness and his struggle to record what he saw there gives the Birds a resonance that no other book can match." Audubon was part naturalist, part artist, and possessed a rare, almost unequaled ability to observe, catalog and paint the birds he observed in the wild. Experts say his book, originally published in 1827, is unmatched in its beauty and also of considerable scientific value, (allegedly) justifying its stratospheric cost. Pom Harrington, owner of the Peter Harrington rare book firm in London, said it has been 10 years since the last complete edition of "Birds of America," with all of the illustrations, has been auctioned — and that was sold for $8.8 million by Christie's auction house, a record for a printed book at auction. He said it is unusual to find a copy not in a museum or academic institution. "If you want to buy an example of a rare work of art, this is one of the best," he said. "It is valuable in its artistic nature because it is so well drawn." He said other historic books — like an excellent example of a Gutenberg Bible — would likely be valued even higher if they came up for sale. Harrington estimated that a complete Gutenberg Bible in good condition would probably sell for between $30 million and $50 million, but none has been sold in more than 30 years. In recent years, he said, a complete First Folio of Shakespeare's works sold at auction for about $5.6 million while a Chaucer collection sold for more than $4 million. "That's getting close to Audubon," he said. Close, but no cigar: the complete Audubon book is more rare than the Shakespeare folio — and much more beautiful to look at, even if Shakespeare is more famous. A Shakespeare First Folio from 1623 is also being auctioned with the Audubon book Tuesday evening. It is likely to be sold for more than $1.5 million. Sotheby's books expert David Goldthorpe said the Aubudon and Shakespeare volumes represent "the twin peaks of book collecting." The books come from the estate of the 2nd Baron Hesketh, an aristocratic book collector who died in 1955. The "Birds of America" plates were printed in black and white and hand-colored afterward. That made the production process extremely expensive, especially, Harrington said, since it was carried out by "the best artists of the time." (Slaves?) The collection, made from engravings of Audubon's watercolors, measures more than 3 feet by 2 feet (90 centimeters by 60 centimeters) because Audubon wanted to paint the birds life size. The size of the illustrations makes them extremely valuable as standalone piece of arts, which makes the complete edition vulnerable to being broken up so the individual prints can be sold one-by-one. Harrington said that the wild turkey that is depicted in the first big plate of the book can be sold for $200,000. But Mark Ghahramani, a rare book specialist at Classic Bindings in London, said it is unlikely the "Birds of America" will be divided up for resale because it is probably more valuable intact. "There are very few copies left of the entire book, so I would think that whoever bought it at the auction would be quite interested in keeping it whole," he said. "Anything to do with American natural history is quite valuable." Audubon, who died in 1851, represents a unique figure in American history, a renaissance man with shades of Huckleberry Finn — like Mark Twain's fictional character, Audubon made an epic voyage down the mighty Mississippi — but with a scientist's inquisitive nature. He made his trip, after his dry-goods business failed, with only a rifle, an assistant, and a drawing pad, making illustrations of as many birds as he could find. He did not find a printer in the United States willing to take on the book, with its oversize illustrations, so he sailed to England, eventually finding printers in Edinburgh, Scotland, and in London. The volume is seen as a vital piece of American history, Harrington said. "It is the most important natural history book for America," he said. "That is the main point. It screams Americana. For an American patriot, it is the greatest book on American heritage — there is no competition." So there you go. Somebody paid over $10 million for a book that’s mostly pictures. Pretty impressive if you ask me… especially since all forms of publishing will probably be dead in the next generation or so…

Old Men Study – Speaking of which, according to Australian researchers, the very oldest men are still interested in sex but illness and a lack of opportunity may be holding them back (sarcastic GASP!!!). The "male" hormone testosterone was clearly linked with how often a man over 75 had sex, and doctors need to do more studies to see if hormone replacement therapy might benefit older men, the researchers said. Zoe Hyde of the University of Western Australia and colleagues surveyed more than 2,700 men aged 75 to 95 for their study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine (not “Anals” of Internal Medicine). They asked a range of questions about health, relationships and sexual activity (and then shuddered and/or vomited at the thought of their responses). "The older the men were, the less likely they were to be sexually active, but sex remained at least somewhat important to one fifth of men aged 90 to 95 years, refuting the stereotype of the asexual older person," they wrote in their report. "Of those who were sexually active, more than 40 percent were dissatisfied with the frequency of sexual activity, preferring sex more frequently." GASP!!! What? Men of any age still want more sex (especially when compared to none and/or manual release)? Baffling. More than 30% of the men reported some sort of sexual activity in the past year, but more than 48% said sex was important, suggesting many of the men wanted to have sex but could not. Age was a factor but so were testosterone levels, the lack of an interested partner, and various diseases from diabetes to prostate cancer (to the Plague to Old Man Penis). More than 40% of the men who had not had sex recently said they were not interested… which is obviously a cry to pull the f**king plug. Okay, that last part might’ve been a little harsh… but you get the idea. See? They really conduct studies like this… and some people make a good living at it. How do I get one of these cushy jobs as a studier of widely accepted facts & scientific laws? I’m telling ya, one day, somebody will have the balls to give me the funding to find out the truth behind stereotypes. Hell, if somebody can pay $10 million for a book of color-by-numbers (think about it… and that’s exactly what it is… reproduction… colored by others… see? Not crazy), then somebody might give me seven digits to find out the truth. It’s out there.

Frisky, Are We? – Then again, maybe the old guys just know that crazy sh*t that you can get into in a fit of Passion. For example, a Wisconsin woman bit off half her husband's tongue during a kiss… and has been arrested, authorities said on Tuesday. The bitten piece of the husband's tongue was recovered, and he was taken to a hospital following the incident late on Monday, Sheboygan, Wisconsin police said in a statement. The woman, 57, told emergency workers she had "bit her husband's tongue off," police said in a statement. She had blood on her clothing, they said. The 79-year-old victim said his wife bit his tongue while he was kissing her (and apparently the new denture grip was working like a charm), police said. The woman was singing Christmas carols and blowing a New Year's horn when police arrested her on charges of felony mayhem (sigh… delirium… it gets us all). She was being held pending formal charges by the District Attorney's Office. The victim was transported to an area hospital where doctors were trying to reattach his tongue, police said. The victim said his wife had been acting strangely in recent days, said the police in Sheboygan, roughly 50 miles north of Milwaukee. Wouldn’t that be an awkward Christmas dinner with the grandparents? “It’s great to see you all again… it seems like grandma bit grandpa’s tongue off under the Mistletoe mere days ago. Sigh… that reminds me, I should go visit her at Shady Acres after the New Year. That’ll be my resolution.” Be careful out there, gentlemen. You never know when you’re normally frisky sexual partner will be straight bat crackers crazy and rip your face off like Hannibal Lechter.

Selling Kids for Cars - A Florida woman was charged with trying to sell her infant son in order to pay for a new car, police said Tuesday. The baby's grandmother brokered the deal (oh yes, it’s a family affair) and initially demanded $75,000 but agreed to cut the price to $30,000 when told the prospective buyer could not get a bank loan (sounds like some great haggling), the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) said. The mother of the eight-week-old boy, Stephanie Bigbee Fleming, 22, of Bradenton, Florida, was to receive $9,000 of the proceeds, the FDLE said. "Fleming planned to purchase a new vehicle from the money received," an FDLE spokeswoman said. Fleming also needed money to pay court costs for an unrelated probation violation, the arrest documents said. Fleming was arrested Tuesday. The grandmother, Patty Bigbee, 45, was arrested last week with her boyfriend Lawrence Works, 42, both of Holly Hill, Florida. All three were charged with the illegal sale of a child (as opposed to a legal sale of a child), and Bigbee was also charged with communications fraud, the department said. The arrest report said Bigbee offered to sell the baby to a female relative in October, explaining she had been caring for her grandchild but "was not mother material." The relative alerted police and worked with them during the negotiations. Bigbee and Works were arrested when they collected a $30,000 cashier's check and handed over the baby to an undercover agent in a Daytona Beach parking lot, police said. The baby remains in state custody. Wow! This is absolutely unacceptable. So just to sum up, not only did the buyer get 60% off the original asking price… but the mother only got a 30% cut while grandma took a 70% commission. That’s the real crime here. I’m glad that they got arrested. Oh yeah… and the selling your child thing I guess is a little wrong… but isn’t that kind of like adoption. Please don’t make me go into a rant where I compare children to cats & dogs in an animal shelter because it’ll break your f**king heart and mine. There is a silver lining though. The Bigbees will have an opportunity to learn the finer points of bartering & negotiations while in a Florida prison. “In exchange for protection from the other inmates, I will gladly offer you two cigarettes per day. Deal?” “Hmm, interesting… my counter offer is… how about you give me those cigarettes, your fruit cocktail AND oral pleasure… and in exchange, I will refrain from shanking you AND violating you with the same modified broom handle. Are we in agreement?” It’ll be an amazing learning experience for both of them.

Lincoln Update – Okay, for years now, I’ve been anxiously anticipating Steven Spielberg’s biopic about Abraham Lincoln… and I’m not afraid to admit that it was primarily because of what would be a legendary confrontation between Abraham Lincoln (played by Liam Neeson) and his Vice President Andrew Johnson (played by Harrison Ford). Throw in Sally Field playing his crazy wife Mary Todd Lincoln and you’ve got cinematic GOLD!!! However, after years of delays and hearsay… something happened that may make this even MORE of a legendary confrontation. Ladies & gentlemen, Daniel Day-Lewis (“There Will Be Blood” & “Gangs of New York”) will star as Abraham Lincoln in Steven Spielberg's long-gestating biopic about the 16th President of the United States according to a just issued press release from DreamWorks Pictures. Based on Doris Kearns Goodwin' best-selling book "Team of Rivals" and adapted by multi-award winning playwright Tony Kushner, the film will focus on the political collision of Lincoln and the powerful men of his cabinet (including Johnson) on the road to abolition and the end of the Civil War. The film has been on Spielberg's 'to do' list for years and Liam Neeson had been attached to play Lincoln since at least mid-2005 right up until July this year. Spielberg originally planned to make it his first post-"Munich" project but for various reasons the film kept getting delayed over and over again. Now at last it is finally happening with shooting expected to get underway in the fall next year for a late 2012 release through Touchstone Pictures. I’m getting goose bumps just thinking about it. I can see it now. Bill the Butcher… versus Han Solo. Hawkeye… against Indiana Jones. Daniel Plainview… and the other President Ford (“GET OFF MY PLANE!!!”). It’s going to be AMAZING!!! (in theory) I’m getting more excited every day. Coming soon… Gary Oldman signs on to play General Robert E. Lee… and Jefferson Davis will be played to John Malkovich… and Megan Fox plays the White House intern that through her Love & Full Release Massage would save a nation. My God, it’ll sweep the Oscars AND the Razzies. Until then though… we can only wait…

I guess that’ll do it for today. Not a whole lot else to update at this point. Awaiting word from San Francisco on the job opportunity… and Bubbles is getting REALLY excited about this weekend… as well she should because it’s going to be EPIC!!! Show off the sights of Lake Tahoe, maybe a dash of Reno, elegant workplace Christmas celebration, gorgeous weather (fingers crossed but it should be sunny most of the weekend), should be amazing. Have a great night everybody!!!

1 comment:

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