Picks and Pans Main: Etc.

updated 12/07/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/07/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST


Pay attention in 1988. There are so many calendars around featuring deceased performers it would be easy to believe a time warp had occurred and we had all slipped back to 1960 There's Elvis Presley (Great Northern. $8.95), in which the King sneers, grinds, and rocks his way through the year. Marilyn Monroe: The Official Authorised Calendar (Great Northern, $8.95) does not include the calendar shot. But it nicely reproduces such other familiar images as Joseph Jasgur's picture of the then wholesome-looking brunet actress when she wore plaid blouses and her most striking feature was, believe it or not, her teeth. In James Dean (Pomegranate, $8.95) a dozen Sanford Roth photographs of the actor, most of them off the set, may help people see what all the fuss has been about. Doors 88 (Great Northern, $8.95) has no place to write notes, the dates are psychedelically hard to read, and the photographs of Jim Morrison and his posthumously hot band are fuzzy. Doors fans and others not averse to perversity will love it.

The more contemporary-minded sex symbol admirer may rather have U2 (Great Northern, $8.95), out of which Bono and his boys glare meaningfully, or Madonna (Great Northern, $8.95), with enticing Herb Ritts and Alberto Tolot photographs. Country (Country Music Foundation, $8.95), as one would expect, is much more easygoing, with such people as the Judds and Ronnie Milsap looking like just folks, relatively speaking.

There are some evergreen subjects too. Even if the team owners and players of the National Football League don't grant us the boon of another season, Seattle Seahawks (St. Martin's, $7.95) offers a nice shot of Sea-hawks linebacker Fredd Young being apparently punched in the groin by Kansas City guard Brad Budde; it is part of a series covering all 28 NFL teams. For baseball fans The Baseball Card Engagement Book (Houghton Mifflin, $8.95) includes reproductions of bubble gum cards and such quotes as this, from Steve Garvey: "The Friday night crowd is the one that has anxiety built up...The Sunday crowd comes out to take their kids...Monday and Tuesday nights you get the fans who really know baseball."

Taken from a 1986 book, The Sketchbooks of Picasso (Pace, $14.95) provides an unusual kind of calendar art, though one might have expected citations of Picasso anniversaries somewhere. Ernest Nister's Delightful Days (Philomel, $8.95) presents endearingly naive book illustrations by the late-19th-century English artist; every child is a cherub, every day a gift of spring, every kitten a delight. American Art in American Museums (Abrams, $14.95) is a desk calendar that ranges from John Singleton Copley's 1771 portrait, Mrs. Thomas Gage, to George Segal's Cézanne Still Life #5 from 1982. Among the most intriguing works is Grant Wood's Death on the Ridge Road, a 1935 painting of an impending highway accident.

Vincent van Gogh (Georgi, $6.50) provides for the artist's works to be cut out and used as postcards once the month is over; it's too bad the colors seem a trifle flat. Surrealism (Georgi, $17.95) is an 18-by 19-inch wall calendar with paintings by such artists as Miro and Magritte; as might be guessed from the title of Dali's Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate, it shows two tigers, one of them being eaten by a fish, pouncing on a naked lady while an elephant with long spindly legs walks by.

Joggers, marathoners and the generally restless of foot may like the space for diary style entries about who went how far and when in Runner's World (Collier, $6.95) or Runner's Day-by-Day Log and Calendar (Random House, $8.95). The latter includes such quotes as this from Thoreau: "Methinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow." For the more serene, Wooden Boats (Addison-Wesley, $10.95) has Benjamin Mendlowitz's photographs and commentary by boat-builder Maynard Bray. Then, while it's not exactly clear what three frigate birds sitting on a log have to do with sports, the Sports Illustrated Desk Calendar (Little, Brown, $10.95) features a lot of other photographs more to the point.

Given the economic eccentricities of late 1987, one might expect Wall Street Men (Calendar Images, 9100 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, Calif. 90045, $8.95) to feature pictures of young men poised on skyscraper ledges. As it is, the calendar runs to such scenes as the well-dressed young man carrying a red duffel bag, holding his shades in one hand and leaning on his lacrosse stick. The gentlemen of investment are not identified, but the peace officers who are the hunk candidates in LA Blue (L.A. Blue, 12335 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, Calif. 90025, $8.95) are named, for those ladies who might want to head to California to get in trouble with the law. Teddy Hunks (Pomegranate, $8.95) sends up the genre with macho teddy bears such as one called "Bambo," who says, "If something's not free, I free it."

For children, excerpts from stories about everyone's favorite pachyderm—sorry, Dumbo—are woven into Babar's Adventures (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $7.95). Lisbeth Zwerger (Picture Book Studio, $9.95) is devoted to gentle, whimsical illustrations by the Austrian artist, for such works as Hansel and Gretel and The Canterville Ghost.

No new Gary Larson has appeared to enliven the comedy calendar market. But while President Reagan isn't likely to order one, there is Berke Breathed's Mom Quest-Opus Goes Home (Little, Brown, $7.95), in which the Bloom County strip's penguin hero journeys to Antarctica in search of his past. Growing Up Catholic (Workman, $6.95) tells what day belongs to St. Zita, patron of domestic workers (April 27), who invented bingo (Edwin S. Lowe in 1929) and whether the Pope ever carries cash (no); illustrations by Bob Taylor and Timothy Paul cover such subjects as a nun separating a couple at a school dance. The worst taste award for 1988 calendars goes, no contest, to P. M. S. Attack (Landmark, $8.95), in which S. Phillips makes light of premenstrual syndrome.

The usual zoological, geological and botanical suspects have been rounded up for 1988's nature calendars. Buffalo trudge through a misty, orange-tinged sunrise in Yellowstone National Park in Wilderness (Sierra Club, $8.95), while a sun star sprawls on a bed of purple sea urchins in Audubon Sea Life (Macmillan, $7.95). The gardenias and clivias seem to be growing out of focus, but there's a lovely patch of Pacific Coast iris in California Gardening (Abrams, $9.95), and the grandeur of the American West—such as the Yosemite Valley—resounds in Ansel Adams (New York Graphic Society, $14.95). The often astonishing beauty of our friendly neighborhood mollusks is reflected in Shells (Ruby Street, $7.95), among them a roseate juxtaposition of strawberry tops and pink tellins. World Wildlife Fund (Abrams, $8.95) provides a mix, with cheetahs, Kodiak bears and hoatzins (a colorful Venezuelan bird species) tossed in amongst cacti and Odontoglossum crispum, a variety of orchid.

A Day in the Life of America (Collins, $9.95) was spun off a 1986 book that is an older cousin to the similar new volume about the Soviet Union. Among its 12 striking photographs is Stephanie Maze's shot of a chaotic lunchtime scene at a home in Miami's Cuban community. Mainland China exports sometimes serve primarily, by way of invidious comparison, as testimonials to capitalism. China (China Books, $7.95), however, provides picturesque scenes for the first year of the dragon since 1976; then again, while the photographs were all shot in China, the calendar itself comes from Hong Kong.

As for getting through the year, Weight Watchers (New American Library, $9.95) offers the aspiring thin person cheerleading, advice and recipes. The peanut chocolate-chunk cookies are still 186 calories apiece; there'll be plenty of time to diet for real after the holidays. The wisdom in 365 Quotes, Maxims & Proverbs (Workman, $6.95) comes from a variety of sources. Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. noted, "The secret of my success is that at an early age I discovered I was not God." John Wayne philosophized, "Kids get in trouble, but it's human nature to get as close to the hot stove as you can—and sometimes you touch it." Robert Benchley said, "A boy can learn a lot from a dog: obedience, loyalty and the importance of turning around three times before lying down." Erica Jong suggested, "Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn't."

Along those lines, in Miss Manners' Engagement Book (Ruby Street, $9.95) Judith Martin pontificates in typically witty fashion—for example, this thought for New Year's Eve: "It is proper to drink champagne and make eyes at someone over the top of the glass at the same time. It may not always be wise, but the combination itself is considered socially proper." She also suggests that, when considering whether to invite unloved neighbors to a party, one must "weigh their horrible presence against their inclination to call the police to complain about the noise." Happy New Year indeed.

From Our Partners