October 06, 2022


Calendars (desk for 2023): Chihuly 2023 Weekly Planner; Get It Together! with Sarah’s Scribbles. Abrams, $19.99 (Chihuly); Andrews McMeel, $16.99 (Sarah’s).

Sandra Boynton’s My Family & Friends Birthday Calendar. Andrews McMeel. $12.99.

     It is very difficult to think of some calendars as disposable. Objectively, almost all of them are: they are designed for use for a year and replacement thereafter. But every once in a while, there is a calendar that is truly special, one whose genuine beauty makes it tempting to keep it around long-term – or maybe tear out selected pages and use them as decorations. That is the situation with the Chihuly 2023 Weekly Planner, an exceptionally attractive, spiral-bound, lie-flat desk calendar that features a beautiful photograph of elegant Chihuly glass art on every page, opposite a week of dates with plenty of room to make note of appointments, plans, meetings and so forth. Chihuly’s art is all over: among the locations where the glass sculptures in these pages can be found are Columbus, Ohio; Tacoma, Washington; Monterey, California; New York City; Milwaukee; Singapore; and Naples, Florida. Even if you do not recognize Chihuly by name (Dale Chihuly, born 1941, is known for transforming blown-glass pieces into large-scale sculpture), the art created by him or in his studio is immediately recognizable. Brilliantly multicolored glass twists and turns every which way; flower-like shapes become chandeliers and wall hangings; nested baskets-within-baskets look like enormous, gorgeously colored seashells; rich-hued glass stalks resemble elegant, long-necked birds. These and many other scenes are what make this calendar such a special addition to a desktop or tabletop. The calendar’s layout is artistic, too, in the way it presents standard information. Each month starts with a full-page display of all that month’s days, some of which contain a small triangle at the lower left – the triangles function as asterisks, directing users to a list, below the dates, of notable events of the month (including moon phases and holidays, which are also listed on individual days as the month progresses). To maintain the flow of the calendar, every page of dates includes a full week, even if a new month begins during that week – thus, August 28-31 and September 1-3 appear on a single page. And the Chihuly glass art is sometimes on the left-hand page, sometimes on the right-hand one. This sounds more confusing than it is: the calendar is designed to stay flat when open, and can easily be left open all the time for quick reference – and when it is open, seeing the notes on the day-by-day page (whether at the left or right) is very simple. This is a calendar designed with elegance in mind: the spiral-bound part is within a hard-cover binding, which means the calendar has two cover pages featuring different Chihuly works – one on the outer binding and one on the front of the actual calendar pages. This is the sort of gift that one gives to a senior corporate executive, a tenured university professor, an artist with strong feelings for colors and curvature – or to oneself, for considerably more beauty in calendar form than is typically seen.

     If you switch over to what is typical in desktop/tabletop planners – and still want something a cut above – a good choice for the upcoming year is Get It Together! with Sarah’s Scribbles. This is a 16-month calendar (September 2022-December 2023) filled with the offbeat humor of Sarah Andersen, who makes the life of a twentysomething woman seem much more wryly amusing than it really is (and never mind the fact that Andersen turned 30 in 2022). From the page of self-adhesive stickers bound into the front of the calendar, to the handy pouch on the rear inside cover for storing receipts and miscellany, this spiral-bound planner is packed with useful as well as funny elements. The entire 16-month span of the calendar is laid out, month by month, at the front of the book (instead of having each full month shown at the start of the week-by-week pages). The individual pages then give each day of each week three columns: “appointments/misc,” “stuff to do,” and “my social life.” The columns are the same size, but hey, if you have no social life – or have a lot of it – you can adjust the notations on the calendar accordingly. Each full month at the front of the calendar shows Andersen’s cartoon alter ego at the top in a specific pose, and that pose carries through to each of the week-at-a-time pages. And each two-page spread showing a week of dates includes a full Sarah’s Scribbles comic of up to six panels. These panels may be aimed at a certain age group, but they often reach out beyond that target audience: in one strip, cartoon Sarah struggles while carrying a boulder labeled “stress” that grows in each panel and finally crushes her; in another, she holds a glob labeled “feelings” and tries to stuff it into a bottle so small that an out-of-panel voice warns her it will burst (which cartoon Sarah denies); in another, cartoon Sarah’s dog spends multiple panels projecting “I love you” at her, while her cat uses a single panel to say, “I accept you under certain circumstances.” Sarah’s Scribbles is not artistic in the Chihuly sense, to be sure, but in the Internet sense (the strip originated online) and the keep-people-amused-throughout-the-year sense, it works just fine – and makes for a very pleasing planner that can bring plenty of smiles all year.

     If you really do want a calendar that is not disposable, there is one type you should definitely consider: the perpetual calendar, otherwise known as an “occasions” calendar, otherwise known, specifically, as Sandra Boynton’s My Family & Friends Birthday Calendar. The back of this wall-hanging, spiral-bound (at the top) calendar says it all: “OH, WHAT A RELIEF!! A birthday calendar that ISN’T DIGITAL! [Dinosaur-approved for home or office use].” So, sure, be a dinosaur where calendars are concerned, and forget the reality that so many people nowadays do all their record-keeping and appointment-watching and occasion-remembering on their phones or other digital devices. Proclaim your independence and free-thinking ways with Boynton’s usual bevy of rounded, ridiculous-looking dinosaurs and hippos and elephants and penguins and indescribable monsters, oh my! Seriously (ok, not too seriously): this calendar features some of Boynton’s inimitable characters atop each month; then there is a headline with the month, the word “birthdays” and an exclamation point; and then there are numbered lines for every day, so you can write in the name and birth year of anyone whose birthday you want to remember perpetually. Toward the bottom of each page, one or two small Boynton characters appear, just to enliven the whole display even further. How could anything be wrong with this? Well, ok, if you want to nitpick, think about the label “birthday calendar” and consider the fact that most people who use perpetual calendars in the first place utilize them for more than birthdays – there are anniversaries of various types, for example, and the dates of arrival in the family of canine or feline companions, and various other notable occurrences to be remembered year after year. However, anybody who wants to carp about the precision or imprecision of such matters does not deserve this Boynton calendar in the first place and should be relegated to electronic record-keeping only. There is a timeless quality to Boynton’s silly cartoons that makes them a great match for what is essentially a timeless calendar – one that you can hang in a suitable place on a suitable wall and use both for reference and for something to enjoy time after time after time.

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