Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Atomic Books T-Shirt Contest

Atomic Books T-Shirt Contest 2012
Deadline March 31st

The Rules, Short & Sweet:

1. One entry per person

2. Two color design, front shirt design only

3. Must say “Atomic Books” in the design

Please send your 300 dpi ready to print file to The finalists will be displayed at our 20th Anniversary Retrospective Design Show, April 6th, and will be voted on by the attendees.

The winner will receive a $300 gift card to Atomic Books and 10 shirts and we’ll do a limited run of their tshirt design.

Hanne Blank & Jo B. Paoletti This Thursday!

Thursday, March 29.
7PM. Atomic Books.

Hanne Blank will be discussing and signing copies of her new book, STRAIGHT - which deals with the surprisingly short history of heterosexuality.

And Jo B. Paoletti will be discussing and signing her new book, PINK & BLUE - which deals with the gendering of pink and blue.

Straight: The Surprisingly Short History of Heterosexuality: In this surprising chronicle, historian Hanne Blank digs deep into the past of sexual orientation, while simultaneously exploring its contemporary psyche. Illuminating the hidden patterns in centuries of events and trends, Blank shows how culture creates and manipulates the ways we think about and experience desire, love, and relationships between men and women.

"Blank’s tenacious research and insightful arguments make clear how malleable the attitudes of the world we live in really are."—BUST

Pink and Blue: Telling the Boys from the Girls in America: "When did we start dressing girls in pink and boys in blue?" To uncover the answer, dress historian Jo Paoletti looked at advertising, catalogs, dolls, baby books, mommy blogs and discussion forums, and other popular media to examine the surprising shifts in attitudes toward color as a mark of gender in American children's clothing.

"Pink and Blue challenges the cultural panic over how children's clothing affects gender and sexual identity. Paoletti shatters myths about what girls and boys "naturally" like, and does so with details that will fascinate both the casual and professional reader." —Peggy Orenstein

Adult refreshments will be served.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mail Bag: Inmate Poetry

We sometimes get odd and interesting letters sent to us at Atomic Books. It isn't always easy to determine the intent of the sender. But we thought it might be interesting to share these letters from time to time.

This letter was sent to us from an inmate at the Maryland Correctional Facility in Hagerstown, MD.

This Is Not An Idle Threat
by Jed P.

I'm going to hunt down,
I'm going to find and kill William Blake.
He had no right
To do like he done to me -
But he'll get his due.

And if that Byron happens to be there,
I'm gonna take out that son of a bitch too.

After that I'm heading straight
For you Rimbaud
You know that you were dead wrong
To be messing around with my baby girl.
I'll never understand,
I'll never see what she was doing
With a cocksucker like you!

On and I'm finally going to get back
The money that Walt Whitman owes me.
He'll pay that seven twenty-five,
He'll pay one way or the other,
After I'm through.

And if that Byron happens to be there,
I'm gonna take out that son of a bitch too.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Watch Out For Film Festival X

In the new issue of Mike White's excellent film zine Cashiers du Cinemart (#16), there is an article by local filmmaker, musician, Microcinefest organizer and former Maryland Film Festival programmer Skizz Cyzyk on advice to filmmakers about avoiding certain film fest scams called "Film Festival X Is A Scam."
"I'm not going to name the festival I'm talking about. Instead I'll refer to it as Film Festival X. Film Festival X has been around for years and has separated countless filmmakers from their money. ... Here's how Film Festival X operates. First, they search around online looking for lesser-known attention-hungry filmmakers. The perfect victims have put a lot of effort into their websites, but maybe not as much into the embedded video clips that appear on their sites. They might brag about hometown screenings or small regional festival screenings, but not screenings at major festivals like Sundance, Slamdance, SXSW, Tribeca, etc."
What happens then is Film Festival X will contact the filmmakers, compliment them in some way, and then ask for a huge entry fee to submit the film which of course they'll refund if the film doesn't get in, but don't worry, most likely, the film will get in. But are filmmakers actually getting their money's worth? Will the affiliation with this film festival actually do more to damage their reputation (and their film's) than help?

Skizz handles all these questions and is chock full o' great advice. Be sure to check it out.

Also, this issue of CdC was done as part of the Revenge of Print challenge.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Baltozine Roundup: Under The Radar Profiles Dan Deacon's Upcoming Album

In the current issue of Under The Radar (#40), the feature "In The Studio 2012" takes a look at a handful of hotly anticipated albums in 2012. One of the profiles is of Baltimore's own Dan Deacon, and his as-yet untitled next album due in June.

Progressing out from Bromst, this record features not only a lot of acoustic instrumentation, but a lot of musicians as well (more than 30 players).

Deacon explains this is going to be about protest music.
"The music is very much influenced by the landscape of the United States, and the beauty of the country," he explains. "The lyrics are very much about the frustration of what it is to be American in this time. And how you feel this constant impending doom and fear, but also a weird, non-tangible freedom."
... As the Occupy movement and the Arab Spring unfolded around Deacon, the the aforementioned socioeconomic issues took on greater urgency.
Ken Burns' The Civil War was also influential, as was Cormac McCarthy's grim The Road, resulting in lyrics that are in some places, he says, "Bleak as fuck. About the aftermath of all civilization, and the impending collapse of society."
The music, however... is mostly Deacon's trademark upbeat, anthemic sound.
Also in this issue is a review of Dustin Wong's new record, Dreams Say, View, Create, Shadow Leads (Thrill Jockey).
"...the album mines a hazy sonic netherworld akin to the works of Thrill Jockey labelmates Oval and Tortoise, and shares with them a steadfast devotion to the deconstruction of conventional rock tropes."
 Read the whole thing for yourself.

On our shelves now!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Mysterious Death At Baltimore's The Belvedere

In this month's issue of Fortean Times (#286), local author Mikita Brottman has an article involving the curious 2006 death of Rey Rivera, a 32 year old financial writer working for Agora called "Death on the thirteenth floor".

Rivera fell from the 13th floor of The Belvedere (one of our favorite buildings in Baltimore, also featured in the AMC show Mad Men) and wasn't discovered until a little over a week later when tenants began to complain about a smell.

The real mystery, Brottman's article reveals, comes from the Masonic connections.
"Confounding the mystery further, Rivera's death involved a number of obscure Masonic elements, one of these being the unusual phrase beginning and ending the note found taped to his computer: 'Whom virtue unites, death cannot separate.' In its Latin form, this phrase was used in ceremonies performed by the Knights Templar, and it is still inscribed in the inside of Masonic rings. Rivera's family and friends recall that, in the time leading up to his death, he had become increasingly fascinated by Masonic secrets."
Had Rivera gotten too close to something he shouldn't have? Was he asking questions he shouldn't be asking? Or did he commit suicide?

Decide for yourself after checking out all the details in Brottman's piece - which also involves an anti-government right wing extremist, FBI behavioral experts, mind control, and a meeting with a Mason the day of his disappearance.

And it all takes place in Mt. Vernon in Baltimore.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Moebius (1938-2012)

In 1993 I was working at Geppi's Comic World in Baltimore's Inner Harbor - a small, traditional superhero comics shop.

It was a quiet day in the store when someone walked in and began browsing the shelves with his back to me.

I said, "If you need help finding anything, just let me know."

"I do, actually," came the reply.

The voice sounded familiar, and I immediately began trying to place it. Just as I had pretty much decided it was the voice of one of my uncles, the person speaking turned around and it was Robin Williams. He was in town filming the "Bop Gun" episode of Homicide: Life On The Street (a performance for which he would later receive an Emmy nomination).

"Do you know if you happen to have," he asked, "any Moebius?"

After taking a moment to calm down upon unexpectedly coming face to face with the actor, I knew what he was looking for and where to find it - it was shelved with all the weird, European comics stuff. We didn't have a ton of it, but we had enough for him to build a respectable stack.

"Have you ever checked any of this guy's stuff out?" he asked.

And aside from thumbing through it, I hadn't. I stupidly considered it "that weird European, sci-fi/fantasy Heavy Metal-ish stuff" and pretty much just ignored it.

I said, "Not really."

He told me, "You really should, his art is amazing."

I promised I would. Williams pretty much bought us out of our Moebius books, made a joke about Batman and Robin, and took off.

I then thumbed through a couple of the titles left behind and immediately revised my take on Moebius - from ignorant indifference to a persistent wish that more of his work would be collected and released in America.

I was captivated by the sheer beauty of vision and obsessive precision of linework of Moebius' art. Reading his books opened up a world of European masters for me that if not for him (and Robin Williams) I may have otherwise missed.

Moebius (aka Jean Giraud) died today in Paris of cancer at the age of 73.