Tuesday, August 30, 2016

At last, poet/bookseller Ernest Hilbert is bowdlerized

Poets Ernest Hilbert and William Shakespeare
Congratulations to poet/bookseller Ernest Hilbert, who reports a significant milestone in his career as a writer – he has finally been bowdlerized. Sooner or later, all the great ones are censored, and we're proud of this popular bookseller who graces us with his presence every year at the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair.

In 1818, Thomas Bowdler, a strait-laced English doctor, published a sanitized version of William Shakespeare's brilliant plays, one that with the boldly (and even subtly) suggestive lines removed, would be suitable for a father to read to his children in the tumultuous Georgian era.

Critics at the time and since have roundly lambasted the good doctor for tinkering with the Shakespearian masterworks, though it was actually his older sister Henrietta who was said to have cleaned up The Bard. For gender's sake, it was published under her brother's name. Henrietta also published a collection of sermons – anonymously, of course. Nevertheless, the actions of the prudish brother and sister gave rise to the verb bowdlerize, to blue-pencil the edgy stuff that might offend someone.

For his part, Ernest says he doesn't mind that a couple of words were changed when a clergyman sanitized his poem for use in a sermon.  At least the replacement words had the same number of syllables if not the same meter.  Read Ernest's blog, E-Verse Radio for a full account of the incident. 

After Thomas Bowdler died, another sterilized book appeared under his name, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbons. Don't know if Thomas and Henrietta worked on it together but based on the reputations of the ancient Romans, they had plenty of material to work with. (Caligula comes to mind but there were others, too.) Henrietta died a spinster at age 80. Published after her death, her last work was Pen Tamar, or the History of an Old Maid.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

And the week started so well

Last night, shortly after I finished my marketing plan for Rare Book Cafe, and added some material to our shiny new Facebook page launched on Tuesday producer Allan Smith called me to join him in a test of the new opening credits sequence he’d created for today’s show.

It’s a fine piece of work. You can see for yourself:





I signed into Blab.im, the nifty beta platform that gave Rare Book Cafe its unique, interactive home. And, in lieu of the home page- and Allan in the Test Zone, I got this:


Screenshot 2016-08-13 at 01.17.09.png


We'd had no notice.

After a brief, but wrenching, existential wail translating as “WTF!?!”, I told Allan, “We’re toast.”

Clicking “The full story,” see, leads to an article on the Medium where the Head Blabber explains they got bored with their toy and threw it out. At 9:00 p.m., they turned the switch off and went out to drown their sorrows in artisanal beer and the promise of a new round of funding. They’re going off to make a new, even cooler product, they say,  and somewhere, someday, they will tell us all what it is.

So we’re off the air as of today. On hiatus. It’s a midseason break like the ones Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder get away with in November, only in summer.

Rare Book Cafe is an opening in search of a show: “Mimes on Radio”. We’re here: you just can’t see or hear us.

Or as the customer said of the Norwegian blue parrot, “It's not pining, it's passed on. This program is no more. It has ceased to be. It's expired and gone to meet its maker. This is a late podcast. It's a stiff. Bereft of life, it rests in peace. If you hadn't nailed it to the perch, it would be pushing up the daisies. It's run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. This is an ex-internet show.”

Nuts to that, we say.

We’ve already put in several hours looking for workarounds via existing video chat platforms. I suspect that’s how the rest of this night will pass, and the rest of the weekend.

Rest assured: we will be back on the air as soon as we get a new format up and running. We welcome your suggestions, tips, and leads. Are you reading of any new startups in the videoconferencing space? Let us know.

Meantime, we’ll still be developing Rare Book Cafe on Facebook, Twitter, and Blogger. Only our video presence will be iced down in a cryogenic chamber down the hall from Walt Disney and Ted Williams, and only until new technologies can bring the show back to life. And yes, we know that for Uncle Walt, it’s been fifty years now.

We’ll be back, after a few messages. Really. Scout's Honor.


-Lindsay Thompson, co-host (and Eagle Scout, 1970)
For the Rare Books Cafe team

Saturday, August 6, 2016

The bad news? You missed Libby Ware's visit to Rare Book Cafe. The good news? We saved it for you.

We had another fine talk today on Rare Book Cafe! Thorne Donnelley is back from the Universty of Virginia Rare Book School, looking swotted out from days of hard yakka in bibliographic citation boot camp.

Libby Ware, of Toadlily Books in Atlanta, told us about the September Georgia Rare Books and Paper Fair in Decatur, and her new novel, Lum. It's stacking rave reviews like cordwood.

Host Steven Eisenstein was going to give us another RBC first: running the show from a moving car somewhere on the Florida panhandle, but his wife/miniature bookist/Formula One driver Edie Eisenstein was going too fast for Steven to catch and hold a wireless signal. So we'll see him next week, stationary in his studio chair.

Here's a link to the August 6 program.