Monday, March 25, 2013

Goblinproofing Chicken Coops and Other Awesome Books

It's an exciting time of year, when finalists for the Diagram Prize for the year's oddest named books is out.

Last year, my favorite was called "Cooking With Poo." and it will be almost impossible to top that.

My favorite this year is "Goblinproofing One's Chicken Coop" by Reginald Bakerly, which sounds totally handy in this day of DIY backyard farming. So many people I know nowadays keep chickens in their back yards for fresh eggs. I'd hate to have the chickens spooked, by ghosts, or worse, the eggs we eat become tainted by the Otherworld.
Required reading for anyone with chickens

The Amazon description of the book is priceless:

"In this charming guide, "fairy hunter" Reginald Bakeley offers practical instructions to clear your home and garden of these unsettling inhabitants, and banish them from your chicken coop and kitchen cupboard forever!
In Goblinproofing One's Chicken Coop readers will discover:

  • Why a bustle in one's hedgerow may be cause for alarm
  • Why a garden fumigator may come in handy on evenings at the pub
  • Why a toy merchant, a butcher, and a Freemason are among your best allies in the fight against the fey (sic)
Goblinproofing One's Chicken Coop is the only complete manual on how to identify, track, defend, and destroy those bothersome brownies, goblins, dwarves, scheming flower-fairies, and other nasty members of the fairy realm."

Um, wasn't a bustle in a hedgerow part of a Led Zeppelin song lyric? Will a bustle in a hedgerow make our backyard chickens start singing "Stairway to Heaven?" I hope not.

In any event, "Goblinproofing One's Chicken Coop  would make a fantastic sequel to some movie like "The Exorcist," though. Girl has fresh eggs from the backyard coop for breakfast. Eggs are haunted, so evil spirit invades eggs that girl ate. Horror ensues!

I'm writing the screenplay now. I feel an Oscar in my future, thanks to "Goblinproofing One's Chicken Coop."

There are other very worthwhile titles in this year's list of Diagram Prize finalists. One is called "How to Sharpen Pencils" by David Rees, which sounds like a worthwhile guide for completing the ever important task of sharpening a pencil.

The most crucial guide
for pencil pushers

The book's subtitle is certainly a handful: "A Practical Guide and Theoretical Treatise on the Artisanal Craft of Pencil Sharpening for Writers, Artists, Contractors, Flange Turners, Anglesmiths and Civil Servants."

Who knew you needed a whole book to learn how to sharpen a pencil correctly? God, life is so complicated!

I'm sure Rees' tongue is firmly in cheek, and the Amazon description of the book is fun:

Rees, previously known as creator of the brash, deadpan, clip-art comic strip, Get Your War On, has set out to do what few of his predecessors in the pencil-sharpening game have, laying forth not just a detailed practical manual of all of the major sharpening techniques and devices but also a thoughtful discourse on the creative, performative, psychological, and even occult aspects of the sharpener’s art. 

Bowing to popular usage, he includes a section on the proper use of electric sharpeners (it involves a mallet) and a trenchant (if profane) discourse on mechanical pencils. Although this reviewer was brought up a little short by the omission of chapters on sharpening in the dark or at higher altitudes, it must nevertheless be acknowledged that this is without doubt the most thorough single-volume work on the sharpening of North American No. 2 pencils currently in existence. 

One is tempted to call it a must-read for anyone who has ever used a pencil. Then one comes to one’s senses and recommends it, rather, to those who possess a home workbench, a dry wit, and/or a healthy appreciation of the absurd. --David Wright 

Next on the list is "How Tea Cosies Changed the World," by Laoni Prior.

I'm fascinated by this book because I'd love to know how a device for keeping tea warm altered the path of world history, as the title implies. Was a tea cosy so effective in some past diplomatic negotiation that it made everyone feel good and avert a huge war?

Will tea cosies alter the future of the world, too? We'll have to buy the book to find out.

However the book appears more about making tea cosies, not their history, judging from the Amazon profile.

Maybe tea cups changed the world more, who knows?

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