Wednesday, May 16, 2007


1.Ampersand Duck has an entry up about a rather curiously-named chap, one Manly Banister.

Who was Manly Banister? Apparently, a bookbinder, writer, and, (according to a brief autobiographical piece by by Manly himself, an ex-editor.

Names like this can have a life of their own. Since his name appears on a number of books, it seems fairly safe to assume that the correct spelling is as appears on the books ('Manly', no 'e', Banister, one 'n'). But wait! A google search for 'Manly Banister' returns approximately 34,800 hits. That's a lot, but then, a google search for 'Manley Banister' returns 22,300 hits; for 'Manley Bannister', 48,700 hits; and 'Manly Bannister' gets the most of all at 55,700 hits. Popular opinion, then, seems to fall in favour of the last spelling ('Manly', no 'e', and 'Bannister', two 'n's').

There are red-herrings galore: John Tranter's Jacket Magazine has an 'interview' with Manly Bannister that is fictional - isn't it? Elsewhere, on a fantasy discussion website, fans quibble over the correct spelling of his name

Actually, there was an author named Manly (Manley?) Bannister back in the days of Weird Tales. His most reprinted story is "Eena," about a hunter who falls in love with a female werewolf.

They indulge in a round of bad puns:

And everyone knows a manly bannister is a mannister.

"That's a heck of a manly bannister you've got there."

"Well, we tried installing a womanly stair-rail but the boys wouldn't stop sliding down from morning till night. This seems to have done the trick."

And even invent non-existent relatives of our friend:

Not to be fussy, but isn't it Manly Banister (with one n)?

Fussy Banister was Manly Banister's spinster cousin, who wrote an etiquette column for the Didn't Really Exist Bugle-Picayune.

JMP("Picayunier Than Thou...")

But who was he? Surprisingly enough, there is a brief charming biographical sketch here, by Steve Jackman:

Several weeks ago, I temporarily posted an article on my website from a 1955 Popular Mechanics Home Handyman Encyclopedia which illustrated construction details of several pieces of bookbinding equipment with descriptions of the bookbinding process. When someone offered to post the article permanently on their website, I checked my local library for the original appearance of the article in the August 1940 Popular Mechanics Magazine, hoping for better engravings of the photographs. To my surprise, the byline on the article was by a then 26 year old Manly Banister (the byline was not shown in the encyclopedia article). Although Banister died in 1986 and the copyright on the article was probably not renewed, I am uncomfortable with posting the article while some of Banister's books are still in print. So at the end of the week I will remove the article from my site.

Jackman performed a search under the name:

... and found mixed views on his work. The most condescending was the one that said "Manly Banister is to Book Arts and Printmaking what Richard M. Nixon was to acting".

He also finds:

short fiction in various science fiction magazines, culminating in the publication of the science fiction novel "Conquest of Earth" in the 1950's. He published a science fiction fanzine in the 40's and 50's called NEKROMANTIKON.

In the concluding paragraph, he adopts an elegaic tone - will we ever see the like of Manly Banister again? - before suddenly diverging to discuss bookbinding:

In our current consumer society, most of us simply go out and buy what we need to pursue our interests. Manly Banister belongs to a mostly vanished breed who had to MAKE the tools to pursue their interests. While he may have used Elmer's Glue when he should have used a more archival product, and used alum in his paste when we know now that's not a good idea, his works are a product of his time.

2. Wikipedia has a list of 'Place Names With English Meanings'. (Thanks, Mark!) Included are the towns of Accident, Maryland, USA; Boring, Oregon; Egg, Austria; Kinki, Japan; Wank, Bavaria; Fucking, Austria; and Wet Beaver Creek, Arizona. Not included are the Australian towns of Come By Chance (although the Canadian version is), Mount Debatable, Usless Loop, the electorate of Batman, Melbourne; or, indeed, the suburb of Manly in Sydney.

Wikipedia is un-Australian.

3. Wikipedia also has a list of cakes, including Depression Cake.

I'm hungry.

4. As an afterthought, what sort of parent calls their kid Manly Banister, anyway?


Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

Flannery O'Connor has a character in her short story, "Good Country People", called Manly Pointer. He's an itinerant Bible salesperson, and, as it happens, a prosthesis fetishist.

Anonymous said...

One of my favourite past times, when I have too much time on my hands or not enough time and I'm intent on frittering away what little I have (I won't hazard a guess as to which is your case), is to read the baby announcements in the newspaper. I do so enjoy the schadenfreude one can obtain from parental cruelty- but perhaps it's just the jealousy of the dully named!

TimT said...

I had to google 'prosthesis' to find out what it meant. It sounded like somebody who was enthusiastic about doing PHD style essays.

Karen, you should rank the names and score them according to pre-set rules: 'Y' substituted for 'I', or 'Sch' substituted for 'Ch' (Jyll, Scharpelle)? - 2 points! Posh-sounding names like 'Algernon' or 'Kentigern'? 10 points! Inclusion of redundant letters? 1 point! (Scharpelle)

And so on...

Anonymous said...

Obviously you are capable of the sort of bitchiness I can only dream about, although I am very fond of ranking things, usually milkshakes.

The most beautiful baby name moment I have yet had was a child named "Jaxon" with a middle name I can't remember which made it sound like a company. He was photographed wearing a T-shirt which read "I love boobies" and his parents (who were in marketing and advertising) were convinced that he was a baby genius and was reading their magazines rather than simply throwing them about.

Reading that small item in the paper gave me almost as much pleasure as the marinated feta I have in the fridge.

TimT said...

I rate milkshakes! Also donuts, liquorish, coffee, (etc, etc, etc). I maintain that the quality of a cafe can be judged on the quality (or lack thereof) of its milkshakes. Thus:

q = cm,

where q = quality of cafe

m = quality of milkshake

c = An arbitrary mathematical constant.

Although obviously, there are various factors that go into 'm', such as amount of bubbles, whether there's any syrup at the bottom, whether the milkshake comes from icecream or not, etc, etc.

If you can, get a hold of 'The Age' for today at a big library. They have a whacky American story (much the same as some commercial TV networks have the occasional whacky animal story) about a baby from Illinois called Bubba(!) who happens to have a gun-owners licence.

As soon as I read that article, the comedy-meter started ticking over in my head and I started thinking of a scene at a local Illinois Prep-School and Gun Owners Club...

Anonymous said...

There are places where the milkshakes are made without using ice cream? (She represses a small tremor). I'd hadn't got around to a formula yet, but I'm quite charmed by yours. I find that I will be quite fixated upon the milkshakes at one establishment for a time and then I will move on to another. The milkshake palate has its subtle shifts, as I'm sure you'll understand. At the moment (I can tell you're a true milkshake connoisseur and will appreciate this) I like the milkshakes at the roadside dinner near the Harp hotel in Tempe. They are best consumed whilst contemplating the rather polluted body of water nearby.
I don't like liquorish, because I had too much of it once when I was a child and was quite sick afterwards. And I'm strictly a tea drinker. I love the smell of coffee, but I'm afraid of the health consequences if I let myself get into it (I don't get into things by halves, you see).

Can I view this article in the online edition of The Age?

Anonymous said...

Gosh, I just realised that I have never seen a Tempe milkshake being made, because I always wait in the car like Lady Muck and make others collect it for me. Perhaps I'm addicted to some vile chemical approximation of ice cream? I must investigate this further.

TimT said...

What's your position on malt? Where do you stand on this vital milkshake issue: should the shake be had with or without?

TimT said...

Couldn't find the article on The Age website, but here's a link to the story:

Anonymous said...

It is indeed a vital issue. I don't think I've had many milkshakes with malt and I think I'd have to say I'd be generally against it, as it would seem to me that it was taking up space more properly occupied by further dollops of ice cream. Of course, I have now checked the wikipedia article on milkshakes and am quite taken with the suggestion that they are known as cabinets in Rhode Island and that a "coffee doorknob" flavour of "cabinet" is available. I am further intrigued by the "milkshake (drug reference)" entry in the milkshake disambiguation and mourn the missing link to which it refers.

I'm a purist with regards to my milkshakes, so I would frown upon the toppings pictured in wikipedia's photo (although they are almost restrained in comparison with other selections).

Thank you for the link and for your efforts finding it. The world has indeed gone mad.

TimT said...

Well, I don't know about you, but I could drink three cabinets at the moment, not to mention a clothes cupboard and two kitchen drawers.

Anonymous said...

For me a bureau with port ice cream (I got a new bottle of port yesterday and I had port ice cream too, so I keep mentioning port today). A dressing table would probably be the best option for very special occasions.

Relatedly, my sister found this charming book called "The Eating-In-Bed Cookbook" at a book sale. My favourite sections are "Just because you love yourself" and "Eating in the bathtub".

TimT said...

Eating In Bed is good, but I'd be interesting in Eating THE Bed. Delicious!

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm sure they cater for that sort of thing too, somewhere... If there's a Philosophy of Furniture, I'm sure there's a gastronomy of it as well. The author of The Eating-In-Bed Cookbook*, one Barbara Ninde Byfield is pictured "formally posed in her test bed" and in full early-1960s toff splendour on the back cover. It is certainly difficult to decide who or which is the more delectable- Barbara, her recipes or the bed.

*I have momentarily appropriated it.

TimT said...

Capital review, just capital. I'm a fan of toffees, so I think I can extend that interest to toffs as well.

Anonymous said...

Barbara will be so pleased to hear that, but first one must decide whether one prefers one's toffs with a hard or a soft centre. Unfortunately the otherwise impeccably prolix Barbara can offer no guidance on this score, although she does brandish "pate on the back", a "shoulder of lamb to cry on", "curried favour" and "leg of veal with a Swedish massage", before concluding in "instant oblivion" and "ether". I suppose one makes what one will from such suggestions.

TimT said...

That's wonderful, just wonderful, she clearly is a Queen of the bad joke, and I bow down to her greatness!

Of course, eating a leg of lamb in bed or in the bath seems a little extravagant, but hoorah for extravagance! I'm a big fan of reading in the bath, and my older brother once took this to ridiculous lengths, taking in a working-board into the bathroom and propping up his book on that. (He gave us a lecture about it and told us how it was a new invention of his; even dubbed it 'The Bathman's Friend'.)

TimT said...

Or perhaps that was too weird an anecdote, even by my standards...

Anonymous said...

Bugger it, I'll give you the first paragraph of the introduction:

"There is a secret, wholesome indulgence to eating in bed which perhaps explains why it has not received the uniformly good press of other things which go on in bed and which are certainly no less an indulgence. The trouble is, nobody ever thought of proving one's manhood or femininity by eating, and although it is well-nigh impossible to prove them without eating at some point, as a bedtime activity eating is generally done alone and thus the word doesn't get around. It is not the intention of this book to set up competition between the two activities; there is time enough to accomplish every bedtime delight, including sleep; the purpose here is to enhance one's time in bed, however spent, by opening up a whole new way of life".

She follows this with a chapter on "Postures and Procedures". I think I'm in love! The names are fantastic, aren't they? She also has "Baron of Beef in Bed" and "Watermelon Hollandaise".

I have not yet discovered reading or eating in the bath, but I am eager to try both, possibly at the same time. Some friends brought me back the most wonderful book rest from Hong Kong last week (others know HK for the electronics, I know it for the book rests), so perhaps I can see how that does in the bath. Barbara's section on eating in the bath is an acknowledgment of the sad fact that not everything is suitable for eating in bed. She concentrates predominantly on the messier fruits. It is worth quoting her at length on this point (you can tell me if I weary your patience at any point!):

"Very little, if any, expenditure is needed on equipment to make your comfortable, familiar bathtub as gracious and attractive a dining spot as you would want. There are many ready-made bathtub trays available, intended perhaps for manicures, eyebrow plucking, murder mysteries, Martinis, and such like, but which are quite satisfactory to hold your dinner. The soap dish, once it is shipshape and Bristol fashion, will hold a wealth of buns, salt and pepper shakers, the mustard pot. Bagels and doughnuts fit nicely over most faucets..."

The book was published in 1962. I dearly hope that Barbara is still with us. I mostly eat fruit and cheese in bed and sometimes chocolate, but Barbara has certainly encourged me to experiment with complete meals.

My sister once hit her head on the soap dish whilst sliding from end to end of the bathtub and had to get stitches in her forehead, which is not as happy a story as your one about your brother, but it's my equivalent, such as it is.

Anonymous said...

Oh no! Hurrah for weird anecdotes!

TimT said...

I foresee a paradox inherent in this cookbook: while it celebrates the pleasures of eating in bed, in order to be able to eat in bed, you must first acquire the meal to eat in bed; and in order to do that, you must either,

a) Get out of bed, which defeats the purpose;

b) Grant the cookbook to a partner, who has to get out of bed to bring you the meal in bed; and the last thing they'll be wanting to read about are the pleasures of eating in bed, when all they encounter through is the pain of preparing the meal for eating in bed.

Indeed, for anything but the simplest of meals - cereal or chocolate - a not inconsiderable amount of effort would have to be gone through. I am fond of croissants; but in order to prepare these for eating in bed, I would have to a) crisp them in the oven; b) prepare coffee (an essential luxury) c) fetch butter, jam, plates, knives d) Carry all these, one by one, back to the bed. By which time I would be inured to the out-of-bed environment, and may even feel uncomfortable getting back in bed! But if one is going to enjoy the pleasure of eating in bed, then one needs a suitable object for that pleasure: breakfast cereal? Just not good enough! I fear in many cases eating in bed may not be possible. Life is truly a vale of tears!

And yet, and yet - one thinks of those famous stayers in bed: Proust, for instance. Montaigne. One would presume they had found some way to combine the joys of staying in bed with the joys of eating. Could it be true? O, how the heart yearns for a world in which one could eat in bed every day!

On a related note, allow me to recommend the book 'How To Be Idle' by Tom Hodgkinson - not for the arguments, which are dud (the contradictions start right in the title), but for the wonderfully luxurious writing style, setting out in full the pleasures of the idle lifestyle. I'm almost certain eating in bed is included; sleeping in until very late hours in the morning certainly is.

Anonymous said...

Barbara does anticipate the difficulty you so astutely detect somewhat. She suggests preparing meals (particularly breakfasts)in advance and employing electric warming trays and other portable devices. The difficulty is probably not solved satisfactorily though. Life is indeed a vale of tears or, as I am fond of saying to my cat when I stop her from doing something she really wants to do, life is very long and very hard.

Personally, I am never uncomfortable getting back into bed, but I suppose, being Lady Muck, I would be more likely to opt for option b. Of course one would have to live in a home specially designed so that there would be a clear view of the kitchen from the bedroom, since the only thing anywhere near as attractive as someone cooking for you is someone mopping the floor for you. Many bright eyes are indeed enlivened by the exercise!

Yes, thinking about it more closely, I think option b doubles the pleasure!

Will look out for the Hodgkinson-sounds like just the thing.

TimT said...

Oh, it's just tickety-boo!

I would gladly cook for someone, but could barely be persuaded by electric cattle prods to mop the floor for someone.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to hear that, as mopping the floor, particularly for gentlemen, is an ingenious way of showing off one's physique to full advantage without appearing to do so. I swear by it.

My sister shocked me by actually requesting that I cook for her. I am the worst cook that ever there was, as I may have mentioned before.

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