November 03, 2005


Wall calendars: Monet’s Passion: The Gardens at Giverny; Birds of Fantasy; Healing Mandalas. Pomegranate. $13.99 each.

Engagement calendar: Charles Addams. Pomegranate. $14.99.

365-day calendars: Weird and Wonderful Words; Anguished English; Latin for the Illiterati. Pomegranate. $11.99 each.

Annual calendars are, by definition, throwaway items, good only for a year. Most manufacturers know this and create their calendars accordingly: graphics are often barely adequate, content is no more than mildly interesting or mildly amusing, and the quality of the paper, glue and other elements is barely adequate to last the year.

Not Pomegranate Communications. Pomegranate’s calendars are beautiful, well made, calming or consistently amusing to look at, and always of high quality in printing and construction. Monet’s Passion: The Gardens at Giverny, for example, offers a dozen truly gorgeous photographs of water gardens, a water-lily pool, and the land-based gardens themselves. Photographer Elizabeth Murray is herself an expert gardener who helped restore these very gardens in Giverny, France, lending her work authenticity that comes through as clearly as the beauty.

Pomegranate offers beauties of all sorts for your wall. Consider Birds of Fantasy, which showcases a dozen 18th-century illustrations of mysterious provenance: they show nonexistent Chinese birds against fanciful but real-looking backgrounds, and they were painted in watercolor on paper made in Holland. No one knows quite what to make of all this, but the birds’ images – the full collection is in the Field Museum in Chicago – are enthralling: one looks like a chicken that can fly well, another like a cross between a duck-billed platypus and a duck, and so on. Or, for beauty of a more abstract kind, consider Healing Mandalas, created by combining digital scans of flowers with astronomical photographs from the Hubble Space Telescope. You do not have to accept New Age spiritualism to find these lovely multicolored geometric shapes calming and highly pleasing to the eye.

Not all Pomegranate calendars are so serious, but the company’s production quality comes through clearly even when it is just having fun. Consider the 2006 Charles Addams Engagement Calendar. Spiral bound and with sturdy plastic front and back protective covers, this is a calendar whose heavy cardboard pages display entire months, weeks on a day-by-day basis, and lots of oddball Addams illustrations. It is not a perfect desk calendar: it sometimes gives a week on the right-hand page and an illustration on the left, and other times gives a two-page spread of two weeks – those seeking consistency of display will not find it here. But where else will you find a dinosaur egg hatching in a museum’s hall displaying fossils? A mountain goat climbing the steel skeleton of a skyscraper? A symphony orchestra containing a member with dynamite and a plunger, just waiting for his cue? Or a full-color pose of the whole Addams Family? Addams fans and fanatics will love this.

Pomegranate’s 365-day calendars take humor in a different direction. Instead of quotations from celebrities, pop songs or movies, you can get Weird and Wonderful Words and learn about everything from antapology (a reply to an apology) to zoilists (critics). These are all real words, really in English, and really amazing to learn. But of course, some people never learn, even when using simpler words, and that is where Anguished English comes in. Here, neatly gathered in such categories as “Lost in Translation” and “We Stand Corrected,” are such snippets of unintentional hilarity as: “The difference between a king and a president is that a king is the son of his father, but a president isn’t.” Or: “Handmade gifts for the hard-to-find person.” Where does all this linguistic malfeasance come from? Well, a lot of it comes from Latin, since that’s where a lot of English comes from – and if you want much delectamentum (delight) from the original Romance language, you will find it in Latin for the Illiterati. From genuine Ovidian and Virgilian quotations to inspired bits of silliness (edo, ergo sum – I eat, therefore I am), this and the other Pomegranate calendars will amuse and instruct you all year, and have you looking forward to 2007. Satis verborum – enough said.

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