Saturday, April 12, 2008

Guilty geeky pleasures

I recently stumbled upon a book of illustrations by Kurt Halbritter at a local fund-raising book sale. Aside from online antique or used book stores selling copies of his work, I've been unable to find any information about him on the internet. The book I picked up is a spoof of illustrated naturalist books and is called Halbritter's Plant-and-Animal World. It's translated from German and is comprised of images and descriptions of fantastical animals -- integrating human appendages. As a blurb on it from the New York Times in 1982 pointed out, the effect or wit of its original puns has likely lost some punch here and there during its translation. I've managed to find a site hosting a few of the illustrations from it. In the book, this one is described as

Cunning Cuddlefish
octabrachium cupidissimum
Sleazy eight-armed sea monster; can't keep its hands off anybody. Polydactyl and puritanical, it preys primarily on Christian sailors who have gone astray. Research into the sex life of the Cunning Cuddlefish is currently at a standstill for lack of any captive specimens. Cuddlefish cuddling is a tough act to catch, let alone follow.

This one is the

illex iambecornuta
Indigenous to the Solomites. Long-haired, sure-footed and provocatively crowned with a pair of ravishing legs. The luscious Leghornucopia lives way up in the mountains, at altitude ranging anywhere from 8,000 to 12,000 feet, and comes down from these peaks only on the coldest winter days. The severe climate of its natural habitat notwithstanding, this erotic beast has led many a hunter astray, enticing and exciting him to such heights that they can hardly hold their peashooters straight.

Some of the illustrations are a bit more risqué, some are a little less clever. It was a fun find for a buck. Other find for a dollar apiece: Alan Alda's Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself, a like new trade-sized copy of Flannery O'Connor's Wise Blood. I also picked up a crafts book with sections on things like braiding rag rugs and how to make dipped candles.

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