October 18, 2007


2008 Calendars: Engagement – M.C. Escher; The Addams Family Postcard Planner; Day-to-Day – Mrs. Byrne’s Dictionary; Great Lines from Great Movies; Wall – Monet; Healing Mandalas. Pomegranate. $14.99 (Escher); $12.99 (Addams); $11.99 each (Dictionary; Lines); $13.99 each (Monet; Mandalas).

      Few calendars expand your mind, entrance your senses and tickle your funnybone the way the ones from Pomegranate do. These are very well-made, durable calendars, in formats from the typical to the unusual, featuring a quality of illustration and/or intellectual piquancy simply unmatched by other companies’ offerings. Whether you prefer a calendar for the desk, the pocket or purse, or the wall, Pomegranate has something that is interesting and attractive enough to keep you involved all year.

      Among Pomegranate’s desk calendars, one of the most fascinating features the perception-challenging works of M.C. Escher, filled with unlikely metamorphoses, impossible angles, and objects that can be drawn but not created in the real world. The 2008 spiral-bound, open-flat desk calendar includes some very familiar works, such as “Belvedere” (a building that confuses inside and outside and features a man holding an impossible object), and some less-well-known ones, such as “Whirlpools” (colorful fish swimming in circles around and within upper and lower swirls that connect in an “S” shape). This calendar expands your horizons while you plan your days on the attractively ruled pages. A bonus is the small Escher illustrations that show up unexpectedly from time to time, sometimes on pages showing full months and sometimes on a single day.

      The Addams Family Postcard Planner looks like an engagement calendar – spiral-bound to lie flat, with a space for each day, and (as with the Escher calendar) featuring small Charles Addams drawings in addition to full-page ones. But its size is unusual: too small for desk use, too big for many pockets, but just right for a purse or briefcase. In fact, this calendar is only slightly bigger than a postcard – and lo and behold, it contains 26 detachable postcards featuring Addams’ inimitable characters, sometimes in color and sometimes in black and white. The Postcard Planner format is unique to Pomegranate and tends to produce love-it-or-hate-it reactions: it certainly won’t work as a full-year meeting planner (not enough space to write things), but it’s great for jotting down occasional notes, and if you enjoy Addams’ gently creepy drawings and like sending postcards, it’s a must-have.

      Pomegranate makes 366-day, tear-off-a-page-at-a-time calendars, too, and their subjects are delightfully off the beaten track. Mrs. Byrne’s Dictionary sounds like a standard word-a-day calendar, but what words these are! Pandiculation! Remontado! Coacervate! Xertz! No, these are not Dr. Seuss creations – they are real English words, albeit seldom-used or obsolete ones. Each page gives you choices of what a word may mean – with the answer on the back. Or how about a language-in-films calendar, Great Lines from Great Movies? There is a quotation on each page – some familiar, many less so – and the idea is to figure out what movie it came from and who said it. “May the force be with you” is easy enough, but “Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries” is not. Take as many guesses as you like – the answers are on the backs of the pages, along with information on each movie’s date, stars and plot.

      There is no plot at all to the Monet and Healing Mandalas wall calendars – just beauty. The wall format is a type of calendar that no one does as well as Pomegranate, which seems to have perfected the craft of turning wonderful art into calendar pages so beautifully printed that they are genuine additions to a room or cubicle even if you never use the date portion of each page. Monet includes a dozen masterful works, from the very well-known The Bridge at Argenteuil and The Japanese Footbridge to the truly fascinating Morning Haze, whose dim shapes are worth studying for the entire month during which the picture appears. Healing Mandalas is art of a different sort: Hindu and Buddhist groups use these representations of the universe as tools for meditation – and the Pomegranate calendar actually shows parts of the universe. These mandalas, which creators Bonnie Bell and David Todd call the “Petal Heaven” series, combine California pictorial elements with images from the Hubble Space Telescope, all within the intricate symmetry of traditional mandalas, for the sort of highly unusual visual experience that will remain attractive from the moment you first see it all the way to December 31.

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