Saturday, February 23, 2008

they make me happy morning

Oh, I've tried to deny it, but I've been tempted by notebooks since I started school, even when they were utilitarian objects with tables of weights and measures in the back (the opportunities to learn how many gills in a tun, or pecks in a bushel, wasted year after year) with jackets of muted greens and yellows, and unbleached pulp pages.

When blank books became popular in the 80s, the ones with attractive pictures on the cover and pages with borders and decorations, it just got worse. I have one from that era, with a fluffy black & white cat on the front, which has, unexpectedly, an isbn. It's 0-8378-6999-4, in case you wondered. That's a hardcover, as is the corduroy-covered book by Quill Marks, copyright 1981. If I had written anything inside, would it also be copyright 1981, and would it be mine?
I have two softcovers, one calling itself A Woman's Notebook II and also having an isbn (0-89471-143-1) but less ludicrously so, since it has quotes by women within, one per page, the other with a red marbled cover and the words 'Blank Pages' in gilt script. Blank Pages is not quite truthful anymore, since I've drawn a number of pictures in it.
After Chris started school, I scavenged his unused Hilroys and Keystones. One of my prizes is the Spiral (that's the brand-name; the books are staple-bound) notebook with a cover of dressed chimps (possibly bonobos) squatting and gyrating across it.

But my true downfall has come with dollar stores and especially with notebooks from Korea, with the delights of off-kilter English captions and references to manhwa or tv shows I know nothing of, or possibly to worlds known only to mad Korean commercial artists. I'm doomed now. It's like Pickman's Stationery Shop.
Here is what I have on hand, from recent purchases:
spiral-bound small square notebook--reversible! One cover is white, the other black and reversed. The covers are lenticular, each having a cartoon striped cat. The white cat is crouched, and its ears, eyes, and tail wiggle back and forth as it watches a mouse run across the bottom of the page at 5 frames per wobble. The black page has a striped cat with a huge grin, either closing its eyes and reclining, or opening its eyes and disappearing but for eyes and grin. Yes, I have a Cheshire Cat notebook. A happy thing. Lined pages with brown paw-prints.
mini spiral-bound notepad. Also lenticular, this one shows fantasy fruit floating like a colliding galaxy above a sparkling green ocean, with the caption NOTEBOOK Refinedly Made For The Success of Your Outstanding Cause.
spiral-bound hardcover small square notebook, with bonus elastic--Doggie-Woogie Stories. 'Don't eat plants. Don't chew my shoes. Don't grab my hair. Be good and smart.' The green cover shows Bruto, a bull-terrier sort of cartoon dog, lifting his leg against a power pole. Lined pages. Made by Young Art Co. Ltd., Korea.
perfect bound hardcover small notebook, lined pages. The cover shows three views of a blue cartoon dog apparently constructed from shiny bubbles. A giant winking head with peg teeth in a gaping grin; a startled look behind of a seated dog; a dog with his back to us. The dog (or notebook) is called Fancy Boy, and the captions are 'Good Times Are For Sharing With Friends' and 'The number 12 is sweet - I live to hear your voice at midnight'
perfect bound lined notebook. Cover is a watercolour of an imagined (by someone who's never been there, I suspect) Mediterranean scene, pale buildings with blue domed roofs and round-headed arches. Caption is in Greece / Open up your heart / and greet the world as it is. We can always find joy / and love everyplace that our eyes land. Young Art.
perfect bound lined notebook. Textured pale brown cover, with torn-paper type graphics of a doughnut (with sprinkles!) and a mug with a heart design. The typeface is letters cut out of darker brown squares, giving the whole an air of the ransom note: Wednesday Morning Dew / The birds are waking / sun rises in the sky / I start today with sweet donuts & coffee / They make me happy morning. Young Art again.
perfect bound large blank notebook. At first glance the cover is a watercolour of a Venetian (or other city on a canal) scene at dawn. Then you notice that one of the balconies is occupied by a blobby cartoon dog, looking wistfully (for a blobby cartoon dog) at the sky, and the caption is Memory Haroo, Can you wait for me, my dearest? I'll build a heaven for us somewhere. This one made by Barunson Co., also in Korea.
perfect bound lined notebook. Cover is a girl in a flared red dress (oddly, she doesn't look manga or manhwa-influenced) with a selection of interior design closeups behind her. Captions read Rara story / "I feel like starting over" / kick off your shoes and dance... / catch the mood let your heart sing / the colours of old cube / drenched in sunshine... / luxurious fabrics in a clashing mix / of pattern and colour / dynamic vivacious and full of life. The lined pages have a row of hearts at the top of each page, Rara in different outfits with the caption 'I don't take myself too seriously' and a bust of Rara at the bottom of each page, with different hairstyles. Unfortunately these don't work out to a flip-book animation. Made by I Will Fancy Co. alas no website.
two small perfect bound notebooks with charming finger-painty covers of the matte paper that's nice to touch. One has an illustration of a staring ladybug on a leaf, the other two blobby bees amid flowers. Lined paper. I don't need these. They're just cute. Cheer Star, China.
two hardcover stapled notebooks, lined. The covers are sparkly holograms, one of scattered stars, the other of intersecting squares and diamonds. Selectum, Toronto.
spiral bound hardcover notebook, lined paper. Palace Story, with a long caption below the picture, in Korean only. The picture shows a girl in ornate traditional clothing leaning out of a window, her face caressed by a slouching boy wearing a flowered shirt. Barunson again, but this time a context I could discover.
perfect bound small diary, lined. Brown textured cover, with scribbly line drawings of rows of houses, lamp-posts and trees, a double-decker bus. Caption is United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Clearly this is meant to be my travel diary for my next UK trip. Another by Young Art.

Sometimes people give me notebooks.
When I met Zoe in Lincoln, she gave me a classy hardcover lined book with an alligator-hide textured cover. I took it to VPX and other workshops and lectures on writing.
One Christmas M-- gave me a snazzy 5-subject notebook with a black plastic cover and a sheet of sparkly snowflake stickers to customise it, which I have done.
Alis/Anne gave me a lovely faux-medieval little book, with leather cover and incised decoration. Inside is not only note-taking space but quotes and cartoons of the Canterbury Tales.
I will never break free, I fear.


Lulu said...

I am a big fan of stationary, AND of Engrish. I have a small plastic storage box with a sticker that said, "This factory is produce family daily necessity series. Colourful and durable, please see Jin Long Pai when you choose buy."

I like the internal rhyme of the last line.

And if you're not already familiar, is good for several laughs.

batgirl said...

I just gave in and bought more notebooks, plus a totebag that says 'What is the true intellectual? I think my knowledge is for myself and the society. I'll use it valueably for the people.'
Oh, and Young Art has a new line of notebooks called 'Wannabe'. I got a blue one with the tagline 'All of us who've ever wanted to do a book.'

I haven't been to engrish for ages - I should check it out.