The night before Christmas I was reading The Night Before Christmas to The Daughters (as I am wont to do on the night before Christmas). I found this beautiful oversized hardbound edition with illustrations by Christian Birmingham.
I’m not sure what medium Mr. Birmingham used for the illustrations. They’re either pastels or chalk or something of that ilk.
The drawings have an eerie nighttime quality. I love them.
I got halfway through the book and found a glaring typo! They left out a word! The fourth line should read: “With THE sleigh full of toys—” I checked it against other copies of this story we have and it’s definitely a gaffe.
Mrs. Wife thinks I’m making too big a deal out of it but I am astonished that this could happen. Do you know how many eyes see this before it’s sent to print? It was printed in China so maybe they did it.
It’s one thing if they leave a word out of, say, Joyce’s Ulysses. Who would even notice?! Or care!? But if the entire page only contains 19 words and you leave one of them out, people are going to pick up on that. Even a dunce like me could spot it. (Yes, I’m fully aware the my blog entries are often riddled with grammatical and spelling mishaps.) I’m thinking of going back to Barnes & Noble to try and get my money back. Just to see if they would do it.
* * *
My favorite James Joyce joke: James Joyce is sitting at a table weeping uncontrollably. Ernest Hemingway walks into the room and says, “What the hell’s the matter with you this time?” Joyce says, “Ernest, I wrote eight words today!” Hem says, “What are you crying about?! For you, that’s pretty good!” Joyce says, “Yes, but I don’t know what order they go in!”
* * *
Fun fact about The Night Before Christmas: The actual title of the poem is A Visit From St. Nicholas, but those words never appear in the story. The opening stanza became so popular that they officially changed the title. It’s like The Who’s Baba O’Riley which is often misidentified as Teenage Wasteland.
I took a cold winter stroll up 5th Avenue. The upper-tier stores were all adorned with holiday lights so I whipped out my camera to create a virtual walking tour for those of you who can’t make it this year. Hope you’re looking at these through a bright monitor!
These are the big snowflakes on the façade of Saks Fifth Avenue’s flagship store. If you stand directly in front of the building and squint your eyes, you get the illusion that they’re floating in mid air.
Here’s the entrance to Cartier. These lights are a lot more twinkly in person.
I think I posted a pic of this last year, as well. The lights make the building look like a big, beautifully wrapped box. The ribbon contains small strobe lights, so it sparkles. In retrospect, I wish I had waited until that MTA bus had passed by!
Here’s Fendi’s flagship store. The building seems to be held together by two huge, sparkly belts. Again, with the strobe lights. I first saw the strobe effect on the Eiffel Tower. Now, everybody copies it.
This is the Bergdorf Goodman and Van Cleef & Arpels. All they ever do is put a bunch of wreaths in the windows but I love it. It’s a quiet, elegant touch, especially when compared to the visual noise that precedes it.
And, finally, here is a festive holiday street meat cart. Many of the street food vendors, especially those who cater to the tourist-choked midtown area, decorate their carts with lights and ornaments.
This is probably my last post until after Christmas. I hope everyone gets a little happiness and joy in their stocking this year (except for that shithead Bernie Madoff). Merry Christmas!
I made my annual pilgrimage to the Morgan Library to view my two favorite pieces of holiday ephemera; the original handwritten manuscript for A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and a first edition that includes the hand-colored plates. They display a different page from the manuscript each year. Interestingly, the original manuscript makes no mention of whether or not Tiny Tim lives. That line was added at the printers.
Much to my complete annoyance, the first edition was NOT on display this year. I asked the docent what the dillio was and she had no answers for me. But the manuscript is pretty cool. He wrote that story in a six week burst of creativity and panic. He was near bankrupt and needed the money for Christmas and to maintain his lavish lifestyle. It was a commercial venture.
Here’s my favorite plate from the first edition. It’s Mr. Fezziwig’s ball. I hope those idiots have the good sense to put it back on display next year.
If you click here, you can see high resolution scans of the manuscript. The handwriting is barely legible. (Seems to only work with Internet Explorer. Move your cursor over the post-it note and the written text is interpreted for you.)
I also visited Morgan’s Gutenberg bible. It’s the first book ever printed on movable type. Prior to that, it was all quills, ink wells and parchment. There aren’t many of Gutenberg bibles left (perhaps 50) and the Morgan Library has three! Over the centuries, many of the copies were disassembled and the pages (leaves) were sold. After the Morgan Library, I walked up 5th Avenue to the New York Public Library on 42nd and guess what!? THEY had a Gutenberg bible on display as well! That means that FOUR Gutenberg bibles are within six blocks of one another. Is this a great town or what?!
At the Morgan, there was also an exhibit of Jane Austin first editions, manuscripts and letters. I tried to take it in but I was never interested in her books so the exhibit fell flat for me.
Today was 7-Year Old Daughter’s birthday. Henceforth, she will now be known as 8-Year Old Daughter. She had big party plans but, unfortunately, she woke up to 18 inches of snow that began falling the previous day. There were no cars on the road. Outside was the the bright white light and muffled quiet that only a major snowfall can provide. It’s a singular sensation.
Of course, the party had to be scuttled. The roads were impassible and I doubt anyone would have come. It would have been irresponsible to go out driving in this mess for anything other than an emergency. So instead of having a party with her friends, she sat down in snow drifts.
She did not take the postponement very well. What 8-year old girl would? Her reaction upon hearing the news:
This is the worst birthday ever!
I don’t know about that. Years from now, she might remember it as being one of the most memorable. She’ll discover that birthday parties are a dime a dozen, but powerful storms that force you to live in the moment are a far more rare and valuable treat.
I visited the holiday window displays at Lord & Taylor. Lord & Taylor was the first retail store to create special holiday window displays that didn’t include merchandise. In these cynical days, it amazes me that they still do it.
The flagship store on 5th Avenue and 39th Street opened in 1914 and has been designated a New York City landmark. It’s a beautiful building but it’s one of those stores, like Saks Fifth Avenue and Tiffany & Co., that I stay the hell out of because of the intimidation factor.
Here are a few shots of the 2009 displays. Click on one or two of them. They’re pretty impressive. There’s a lot of old-world slow-moving animatronics. The work is miniature and finely detailed and I believe it has true artistic merit, but I think a lot of kids in this day and age would find it kind of dull. It’s a shame.