Sunday, March 31, 2013

Design and Construction of Small Earth Dams by K.D. Nelson.

Design and Construction of Small Earth Dams by K.D. Nelson.  Paperback book published by Inkata Press 1985, 116 pages with some black and white maps, illustrations and photographs.

Last summer was a hot one.  Apparently numerous temperature records were broken here in Australia and I think I can speak for most (but not all) Australians when I write, that it wasn’t very nice.  When I moved away from the big smoke of Melbourne to rural Victoria 3 years ago we were in the middle of a long long drought.  Then we had floods and lets just say that things were quite moist here until this summer.  It looks like these searing soaring weather patterns are going to be causing further water issues until we solve the on going problems of global warming!!!  Large cracks in the soil are now common and as one local agriculturalist put it to me, are big enough to put your hand in.  … and the green green grass of home, well there aint much of that around here.

So this means that with temperatures on the rise and lower rainfall, there is once again likely to be an issue with water supply (translation: we’re heading towards drought).  Water tanks?  They are prohibitive in regards to cost.  Obviously the answer is build your own dam and just hope that it rains enough at some stage to fill it.  

Now, I know someone who is the proud owner of a larger empty hole in the ground which in past years was a dam full, or reasonably full, of water.  Recently he casually mentioned that he might either extend or deepen his hole as water supply is reasonably important to his small scale farming ambitions.  A week later and what do you know, I find a book about The Design and Construction of Small Earth Dams.  To be honest if I hadn’t of spoken to my empty hole owning friend, I would have picked the book up regardless.  This is one of those subjects that is of interest, maybe not to all of us, but to those where water is an issue (… all of us?).

 Proud owner of large empty hole in the ground.

Large cracks in the soil.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Death of Captain Cook: A Hero Made and Unmade by Glyn Williams.

The Death of Captain Cook: A Hero Made and Unmade by Glyn Williams.  Hardcover book published by Profile 2008, 197 pages with a few black and white photographs and illustrations.

Here at Huc & Gabet Blogspot it is one superstar after another at the moment.  This particular superstar is probably bigger than Michael Jackson and Jah Wobble combined, in that his popularity, fame and influence is still being noticed after almost 250 years.  Yes, Captain Cook was/is a superstar.  Sure, he wasn’t in any movies and as far as I know he didn’t record any hits, but he may have been a sportsperson (I haven’t fact checked this, so I can only suppose) and he was very popular at the time… maybe not so popular in Hawaii, or Australia and probably New Zealand, but the British loved him.

And why wouldn’t they love him, the guy was ‘the pride of his century’.  Besides an illustrious career in the Royal Navy he was also a fearless explorer going where no man had gone before… at least no British man.  As with many superstars (eg. Michael Jackson) his life came to a rather dramatic early end due to a bloody and chaotic fracas in Hawaii, except in Cooks case the interwebs, facebook and twitter hadn’t been invented, so it took a year before anyone heard about it.  It’s his life and death and the aftermath of this news that is the subject of this book.  I like the idea.

In Australia, Cook, as with many other superstars, is a larger than life figure in our history which is why I picked up this book.  There are those who have issues with him and his legacy… a bit like Michael Jackson detractors… but either way, I believe that his influence here is undeniable.  This book doesn’t just look at Australia and it’s history via Cook, from what I can gather it’s considerably broader in scope… a bit like Jah Wobbles musical career.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Memoirs of a Geezer: The Autobiography of Jah Wobble: Music, Mayhem, Life by Jah Wobble.

Memoirs of a Geezer: The Autobiography of Jah Wobble: Music, Mayhem, Life by Jah Wobble.  Paperback book published by Serpents Tale 2009, 344 pages with some black and white photographs.

Last week I wrote about the now departed superstar, Michael Jackson and in keeping with the theme of music superstars, I thought that this week I might write about Jah Wobble.  Maybe he’s not a superstar to you, but there was stage in my life when Jah Wobble was a superstar to me.  I collected everything I could find, which involved many 12 inch singles spanning many genres and always only available as imports here in Australia.  I even managed to track down his very first12 inch single, which in retrospect is not one of my favourites, but I had to have it.  After a number of years his releases began to multiply and to be honest, he and I had moved on from his early material and whilst I still have a fondness for all of the early stuff, I’m a little more selective with the later stuff.

One of my favourite pieces of vinyl Wobble (I now have it on CD as well) is his collaboration with some of the guys from Can.  I remember hearing this for the first time at a pub gig before the band came on and interestingly, this particular band had this as their warm up music for the next twelve months.  They were obviously as impressed as I was.


Memoirs of a Geezer is a great title but it wasn’t the title that gave me an indication as to what this book was, it was the cover.  Wobble is very distinctive in appearance and the pose and the hat (he’s possibly loosing a few hairs) gave me the shock of my life.  Here we are in 2013 and I’m picking up a copy of Jah Wobbles biography, amazing.  This was the guy who people were writing about in the mid 1980s New Musical Express, claiming they had seen him working in the London Underground… which is where he was working at the time as he had left the music business.  Twenty five years later and the guy is superstar enough to have his biography published.

Wobble has had many ups and downs, one could even say that at times his career has been a bit wobbly, but it is truly a great thing that he is still around… even if not everything he now does is to my taste, his early music is still something that I often listen to and thoroughly enjoy.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Michael Jackson: Before He Was King, photographs by Todd Gray.

Michael Jackson: Before He Was King, photographs by Todd Gray.  Hardcover book published by Chronicle Books 2009, 144 pages with colour and black and white photographs throughout.

“Photographer Todd Gray worked with Michael Jackson for several years before Jackson requested that he become his personal photographer, a relationship that would encompass the singer's performances with the Jacksons through the release of his smash solo albums Off the Wall and Thriller. This collection of unseen, intimate, and joyful pictures of Michael taken over a span of 10 years reveal him at home, with his family and fans, in career-making live performances, and the on the "Beat It" video shoot.” 

Remember this guy?  What ever happened to him?  To cut a long story short and avoiding the many controversies, he changed the way he looked, started behaving a little strangely and according to some people (myself included), started producing music that wasn’t as good as some of his earlier stuff… and then he died.

Michael Jackson was (is?) a superstar.  Most of us remember him for whatever reasons both positive and negative and some of us have a nostalgia for some of his music and for him as he once was.  The truth is, I have a nostalgia for Michael Jackson circa around the time the photos in this book were taken and shortly thereafter.  Looking at these images you can’t help but wonder where it all went wrong.  There are of course many people who would argue that it didn’t go wrong, but I’m sure we would all agree that there was a perception that it had gone wrong and that Michael didn’t appear to have helped this perception.


This book fulfills the nostalgic requirements for all those who admired Michael before the scalpel and weirdness took over his persona and there are more than a few us who have this nostalgia It was never really a question of whether this book is a book of interest.  It is.  I think most people will be fascinated by these glimpses of someone who later became someone else.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Taj Mahal by Diana Preston and Michael Preston.

Taj Mahal by Diana Preston and Michael Preston.  Hardcover book published by Walker & Company 2007, 317 pages with some black and white and colour photographs and illustrations.

The first time I visited the Taj Mahal, it cost me around eight Australian cents to get in.  I was a backpacker at the time and the fact that Indians paid less than two cents to see the same thing annoyed me immensely.  In hindsight, I think eight cents was quite reasonable and I now recognize that my annoyance was unreasonable.  The last time I visited the Taj it cost me considerably more than eight cents and it took a rather long time to pass through the security checks before being able to enter.  It took so long that they were handing out bottles of water to us inpatient tourists to avoid people passing out in the heat.  All of this is of course due to various people of various religions threatening to blow the thing up.  So far, they have failed. 

It is impressive and one of those things that you never forget once you’ve seen it… at least I’ve never forgotten it.  Quite simply, it is stunning in its beauty and its sentiment (…it’s a mausoleum) and well and truly deserves its world heritage status.  If you’re in the area, I recommend a visit.  There are lots of other great sites and things to see around the Taj as well, unfortunately there is an aggressive tourist industry that can dampen the appreciation, but if you persist and remain focused, there are many rewards… and no, the Indian Government hasn’t paid me to write this… although if they want to slip me a few rupees, I wont say no.

This book looks at the history of the Taj and due to my interest and fondness for most things Taj Mahal, I tend to pick it up when I find it.  In other words, this is not my first copy.  The other one I had rather pleasingly sold to someone who I can only assume had a similar interest as moi, so of course when I find another copy, I snap it up.  Besides making a small amount of $$$ (it’s not an expensive book… but not as cheap as eight cents), I like the idea that I’m sharing my passion for Moghul mausoleums with others.  This may sound a bit hokey, but it’s true.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

American Visions: The Epic History of Art in America by Robert Hughes.

American Visions: The Epic History of Art in America by Robert Hughes.  Hardcover book published by Harvill Press 1997, 636 pages with colour and black and white photographs as well as colour illustrations throughout.

“Writing with all the brilliance, authority and pungent wit that have distinguished his art criticism for Time magazine and his greatly acclaimed study of modern art, The Shock of the New, Robert Hughes now addresses his largest subject: the history of art in America.” 

Robert Hughes passed away last year.  By all accounts, he led a remarkable life and led it to its fullest, leaving a legacy of literary works on many subjects with one of those subjects being art.  I don’t mean to sound like a hick from the backwoods of downunder land, but its pretty amazing that this guy was born here and then ended up one of the worlds most well known and read art critics.  I’m sure no one would have guessed this is where he was heading when he left our shores in 1964… least of all him.

Anyway, the guy died and being the cold heartless bookseller that I am, all I could think of was how unfortunate it was that I didn’t have any of his books for sale at that particular time.  Here we are in March of the next year and I find this great book and wonder if everyone has forgotten who this guy was as there seems to be very little interest in the current ebay listing I have of this title.  Or maybe it’s just this book.  I had a copy of his fishing book (there was a bit of controversy around Hughes and a fishing trip to Western Australia) and it sold fairly quickly in the shop.  I personally think this is a much more “of interest” book than a fishing book… but I’m not a fisherman... i'm not an artist either... well not that sort of artist. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Test Everything: Hold fast to what is good by Cardinal George Pell.

Test Everything: Hold fast to what is good by Cardinal George Pell.  Hardcover book published by Connor Court 2010, 372 pages with a few colour illustrations and photographs as well as a few black and white illustrations.

As I write these words, there’s a radiance of Cardinals sitting around in the Vatican contemplating who will be the next head honcho of the Catholic Church.  There will be the whole (baffling) smoke signal thingy for which they have just installed the temporary chimney and then there is of course the controversies that do not need any installation as they are permanently installed in the Vatican, that are overshadowing the whole process.  Cardinal George Pell is Australia’s outsider hope for the top job although according to some he is not the best choice due to a poor track record relating to the controversies I’ve not mentioned above.

Whilst busily defending himself and his church, George managed to scribble down a few words and publish this book and even managed some more time to sign and number this copy.  Now is probably the most of interest time to try and sell this rarest of books before interest begins to decline on all things Cardinal Pell… although with an Australian federal election due later this year and despite the assurances of the leader of our current main opposition party, George will probably remain in the limelight.

… and you never know, maybe he will get the top job.  Just wait until the smoke clears… if it ever does.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Artful Paper Dolls: New Ways to Play with a Traditional Form by Terry Taylor.

Artful Paper Dolls: New Ways to Play with a Traditional Form by Terry Taylor.  Hardcover book published by Lark Books 2006, 144 pages with colour photographs and a few black and white photographs throughout.

For some reason I’ve been finding and listing* less craft books of late.  This is not an intentional action on my behalf and I’m not really sure why this is.  Possibly I’m just finding less craft books of “interest” or possibly I’ve become subconsciously more aware of a lacklustre market for the subject on the interwebs and have therefore developed a selective blindness.  I have noticed that good craft titles tend to not gather dust in the shop and maybe this is why I’ve slowed down on the purchase of these books as I am well stocked with “shop” books and less well stocked with ebay books.  There is a difference which is hard to explain in this brief blog entry, but I can say that there are certain titles and subjects that seem to do very well in the shop and less well on line and the same goes the other way around for other titles and subjects.

This book is one that I excitedly picked up as it was the first book that I have ever found on the subject… other than an actual book of paper dolls featuring the American President and his family (Obama).  To be honest I thought it was a history and appreciation of Paper Dolls, which it isn’t, but I wasn’t as disappointed as I have been when I’ve bought what I thought was a history book and found that it’s historical fiction.  No, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was a craft book looking at various crafty ideas using paper dolls as the focus of the craftiness.  Have a look at some of these:

There is a market for paper doll books. The American President and his family book of dolls is no longer in my possession (it sold)… so I can confidently write here that there is at least one person who is interested in paper dolls (… actually I know another one as well).  The test now is whether this title is an on line book or a bricks and mortar shop book.  Currently (8/3/13) it’s sitting on ebay without much interest, but it just takes that one special interest to change that and if it doesn’t, I feel fairly confident it will sell in the shop.  

* On line.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Nigella

Feast: Food that Celebrates Life by Nigella Lawson.  Hardcover book published by Chatto & Windus 2004, 472 pages with colour photographs. 

Forever Summer by Nigella Lawson.  Hardcover book with pictorial boards published by Chatto & Windus 2002, 279 pages with colour photographs.

 “...Some of you may argue that he is well known, but I tell you, he ain’t Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson (one day I will write about this scary woman… I promise) or Peter Russell Clarke.”  Huc& Gabet blogspot 

I wrote the words above just over two years ago and have never forgotten my promise to write about Nigella.  The main reason I’ve never forgotten is that I’m constantly reminded of her existence due to her continued presence on the telly here in Australia.  It’s not as if I watch the box all that oft, it just seems as if when I do she’s there in all her scary glory, cooking and being the Nigella.

I’ve been trying to figure out a way of referencing watching Dr Who from “Behind the sofa in regards to Nigella.  The problem is that if you watch Dr Who from behind the sofa, you’re still watching, even though it does scare the shit out of you.  For me I get so disturbed by her that I have to turn it off.  There is no behind the sofa for me when it comes to the Nigella.  Some of you may think I’m exaggerating… there are a few of you out there that do know of my fear.  Seriously, I find her scary… disturbingly scary.  She’s probably a very nice person in real life and her food is probably wonderful, but there’s just something that doesn’t quite gel between her and me… and I’m not saying it has to, or that it should, it just doesn’t.  I’ve tried to figure out what it is and it basically comes down to her… that’s it, it’s just her. 

Regardless of my Nigellaphobia, I have been looking out for her books particularly since i realized all those years ago that I hadn’t found any for such a long long time.  And now after a completely Nigella book free two years, I find not one but two and of course I snapped them up*.   Fortunately these books don’t speak or move and I am able to relax around them.  I have wondered for quite a while why I hadn’t located some and can only guess that due to her lasting popularity and an appreciation for her food, owners of her books tend to hang on to them.  In other words, she’s popular… which is of course a very good reason for me to pick up any of her books that I might find, despite my misgivings regarding the Nigella herself. 

*There was a third… it was a paperback.  It didn’t meet the Huc & Gabet high standards regarding its condition.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Lazarus Rising: A Personal and Political Autobiography by John Howard.

Lazarus Rising: A Personal and Political Autobiography by John Howard.  Hardcover book published by Harper Collins 2010, 711 pages with some colour and black and white photographs.

John Howard.  I never voted for him (or Lazarus), but enough people did vote for him and he was able to hang on to the Prime Ministership of Australia for eleven years (… John Howard not Lazarus).  That means that people voted for him at more than one election.  Maybe it was his charm… his charisma… his good looks(?)… his politics… or maybe it was his love of all things Don Bradman*, that enabled him to cling to the top job for so long.  As I didn’t vote for him and obviously have some** issues with the bloke and his party, it’s a bit hard for me to be unbiased… a bit like Geoffrey Blainey who wrote: 

“In the end, John Howard will be seen by vast numbers of Australian as one of the great prime ministers.” (From the back of the dust jacket.)  

Howard and his party were in control until 2007 at which time the people of Australia decided it was the end of his innings and well and truly bowled him out at that years election.  Like all ex Australian Prime Ministers there had to be a biography at the end of his long…long… way too long… career.  This is not just an Australian thing, they do it all over the world, so our Johnnie had to do it as well.  The book starts at the beginning (“Early life and the Fraser Government”) and finishes at the end (?).  He was fairly quiet after he lost the 2007 election and I guess this book dwells on what he considers the high points of his career: Tampa, Children Overboard, Work Choices, Dr Haneef… all of which are listed in the index.  But let’s be fair on the bloke, he did tighten gun control… and ummmm… well ummmm… Geoffrey Blainey could probably say a few nicer things than I could possibly make up, or maybe the author of this book might be able to shed some light on some of the nicer legacies that Howard has left for us.

So who could possibly be interested in this book?  Well obviously not me.  I have firmly set biased opinions that wont be budged.  I do firmly believe that anyone who voted for him and his party again and again and again, could hold an interest and as I mentioned above, there were quite a few of them.  This is the second copy of this book that I have recently found and I’ve got a feeling this wont be the last.

* Australian sportsman, worshiped by John Howard.
** More than one.