Archive for the ‘Verne’ Category

One League Into the East

Contest winner John T. Woods provided this clever graphical depiction of his journey. "One League Into the East" even sounds like a pretty ripping good yarn by M. Verne. Well done!

Friend and neighbor John T. Woods (or Jaunty, as I like to call him) hoofed it along Wilshire Blvd. here in Los Angeles, and went approximately 3.01 miles (according to Mapquest). That’s .01 more than the official modern understanding of a league. The table of measurements the prefaces 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea indicates that in Verne’s usage, a league is equivalent to 2.16 miles.

So congrats, Jaunty, you walk faster than a Frenchman.

Not surprisingly, at the end of his league, Jaunty wished he had a horse on which to test a league on the way back! (Incidentally, if anyone can test out a horse’s distance walked in one hour, I’d be very interested to have that data.)

This result effectively closes the Walk a League contest. However, if anyone is feeling like a scenic walk, I still welcome any data. I still plan to walk a league, and will report my findings here at AOM once I do. So don’t feel discouraged! Summon up that spirit of adventure I know you have (since you’re here), and walk a league!

Meanwhile, if you still want a print there are currently 19 more available for purchase at StBernART, my store, which is located at the top of my website, StBernardsPass.com (just click on the red tab that says store!). Get ’em while they last…

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Walk a League Contest!

From the very beginning of my experience with Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, units of measurement have played a critical role. In fact, one can’t approach the novel without running up against a measurement, because there are twenty thousand of them in the title itself. But just what is a league, anyway? The average reader is probably somewhat unfamiliar with that unit of measurement. But it seems there is a discrepancy even among the more learnéd, and one need not poke around too long before discovering an array of differing definitions. (One table at the beginning of 20,000 Leagues actually attempts to standardize a number of measurements, one of those being a league, in order to square the various facts and calculations which were notoriously mangled when Verne’s works were translated into English from his native French.) My favorite defintion, though, has to be this one, from Wikipedia of all places:

The league most frequently refers to the distance a person or a horse can walk in an hour.”

A person or a horse?! Surely the distance a horse can walk in an hour is different from the distance a man could walk in the same amount of time. And even if it’s not, given the differences in people’s strides and natural land speed, surely the distance walked by any two individual men in an hour would be wildly different.

20KLUTS print

"20K Leagues Under the Sea," or 20KLUTS print

Naturally, I’m curious to know just how similar the distances might be for various individuals (I’m thinking people, here, not horses) walking non-stop for an hour. But I would need volunteers, and hence was born the Walk a League Contest. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to grab a pedometer and hit the streets. Set aside an hour, and go walking. Not 59 minutes, not an hour and change, but exactly an hour. No stopping, no lollygagging, no idle chit-chat with neighbors unless they can talk and walk with you.

The first person to report back to me (by leaving a comment on this post with the distance they travelled on foot in 1 hour) will win a limited edition signed print of the “20K Leagued Under the Sea” book cover I designed completely free of charge, shipping included! (19 more of you will be able to purchase a print for the low, low price of $10 + $3 shipping anywhere in the US.) To the fine print!


To enter, you will need:

  • a device (or methodology) to reliably gauge distance walked
  • a device (or methodology) for reliably measuring time
  • one (1) hour to spare

For ONE (1) HOUR (excluding any set-up or walking downstairs to get outside or whatever) walk at a normal, comfortable, and sustainable pace while using your distance-gauging device or methodology to keep track of how far you go in that hour. If you have an iPhone or iPod Touch or something like that, there are pedometer apps you can download (I will personally be using GoPedometer on my iPhone).

The idea is not to stop. This is a challenge if, like me, you live in an urban area and may confront cross walks or other obstacles to pedestrianism. Although I may look a bit insane, I plan on coping with this by making an about-face and continuing to walk in the opposite direction whenever confronted by a “don’t walk” sign. Or, by turning a corner where applicable — but be safe! I wouldn’t want anyone ending up in a sketchy area just because they were trying to maintain a continuous walk.

Once you have completed this task, navigate to this blog and click on the comments feature associated with THIS post to share your results with me. (IMPORTANT: just to maintain some sense of consistency, results left in the comments of other posts on this blog will be considered invalid, so follow directions!)

Exactly ONE (1) WEEK from the official date of this post (Pacific time-zone), this contest will be CLOSED. But that gives you the rest of this week and all weekend to get out and walk for an hour and report back to me. Your results comment MUST be received before the official closing time of this contest in order to be valid.


The first person to validly report their results will win an 8″x10″ fine art print of “20K Leagues Under the Sea,” the digital artwork I made as a theoretical dust jacket for Jules Verne’s novel. (You may remember I made two different versions, and asked readers to vote on their favorite; this print is of the winning design.)

20KLUTS print, with certificate of authenticity

"20K Leagues Under the Sea" print, shown with certificate of authenticity

This is a limited edition print, representing the cover and spine artwork. It’s printed on luxurious Hahnemühle Photo Rag Ultra Smooth paper (305 gsm) with 6-color process archival ink. Each print is hand-numbered and signed by me (the artist) and comes with a certificate of authenticity, which also indicates the edition number.

There are only 20 of these bad-boys, as I’m not sure what kind of demand for them there will be. If I sell them out, I’ll most likely offer the next cover artwork as a larger edition. One of these 20 prints is obviously going to be the prize for whomever wins the contest. The remaining 19 will be available for purchase from my newly minted StBernART store, my own personal e-storefront made possible by Vendr.com. To visit the store, simply go to my personal website, StBernardsPass.com, and look for the fairly obvious red tab at the top of the page that says “Store.”

The St.BernART store at St. Bernard's Pass

If I have any prints from this edition that don’t sell at StBernART, I will make them available on Etsy, but they will probably cost a little bit more than $10, just to cover the percentage of the sale that Etsy collects. So if you’re interested, lock down a print from StBernART today!

Now, go walk a league!

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It was a pretty close scrape, but it looks like the more modern-looking aqua cover for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea won by a nose. (You fans of the more traditional, steampunk looking cover, I hope you’re not overly disappointed in the result!)

Stay tuned to find out how to win this as a digital print:

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea - winning cover design

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Richard Burton in "The Spy Who Came In From The Cold"

Richard Burton as Alec Leamas, The Spy Who Came In From the Cold (Ritt, 1965)

This past week I’ve been in Berlin, Germany on business — and that’s the reason activity at this blog has slowed to a stand-still. Never fear, though! I have returned, and will be ramping up speed at this blog again. Keep tuning in: find out which 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea book cover emerged victorious in the poll, and find out how to win a print. Also, stay tuned for discussions on King Solomon’s Mines, by H. Rider Haggard.

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One person has reported difficulty submitting their vote on the book covers poll (below). You can also tell me which is your favorite by leaving a comment. Just please don’t abuse the system to double-vote! 🙂

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20000 Leagues Under the Sea book coverNow, I know one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. But as a reader who is also a graphic designer and a very visually-oriented person, I appreciate when a publisher puts some thought into the exterior of the book.20000 Leagues Under the Sea cover art

I have to say that whatever disappointments I might claim to have had with 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, they began on the surface. I ordered my copy online from Amazon.com, and I’m sure what guided my decision more than anything was the price. I was fortunate to have picked the restored and annotated version, having ordered the book before I was aware of its turbulent translation history. Had I browsed the bookstore for a copy, I’m sure I would have picked up the one with the slickest cover, and this might not have been the one with the best innards. That being said, I was pretty disappointed when my copy arrived in the mail. For one thing, at 7″x10″, it’s not the size book you can easily wag around with you on an airplane (though I did exactly that, en route to Albuquerque for my 10 year high school reunion). And for another, the 1993 Naval Institute Press publication is something of an eyesore:

20000 Leagues Under the Sea - Naval Institute Press cover (1993)

Believe it or not, it shows up a little better on your screen due to the nature of monitor color; in the printed form, where ink gains on paper, the dark red title is completely lost against the murky green-and-red artwork. And I don’t mean to be criticizing the art (which I believe is by Milo Winter, although this fact is not attributed anywhere that I can see on the book cover). The blame must be put on the designer — or, in the apparent lack of one, on whomever was assigned those duties. Even if the title had been set in a color which didn’t mush into the background, little of the art would be seen due to the unnecessarily gigantic size of the type!

So, when I began to blog about reading 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, I set out to find a fun image of the book cover to insert into my posts, to keep things lively. I was frustrated that I never really found an exciting cover design. One of the issues that has long plagued English translations of Verne’s adventure stories is that, due to the errors in translation, Verne has been considered an author of children’s adventures, and indeed many of the covers I came across seemed to be geared for younger audiences.

20000 Leagues Under the Sea book cover

20000 Leagues Under the Sea cover art

With no engaging cover art to be found, I decided I would design my own. I’m not a designer of dust jackets by trade, and I’m sure there are as many rules and tricks in that game as there are in designing movie posters. Oblivious to whatever regulations there may be, I’m fairly pleased with the outcome of my experiment, and I think I’ll make it a custom for books I read in the future (my brain is all ready percolating with concepts for the cover of King Solomon’s Mines, and the forthcoming biographical post about H. Rider Haggard — as well as future author bios on this site — will be written with the express intent of plugging it in to the “author flap” down the road).

The only problem is that I came up with two concepts, and I can’t decide between them. That’s where I need your help. I’m posting both concepts below. Please take a moment to evaluate them, and scroll below the images to a poll and tell me which one you prefer. I will make the winning cover available as a digital print (details to come). Thanks for your vote!

20000 Leagues Under the Sea - dust jacket design #1

1) The dust jacket as it would appear in its entirety, unfolded and flattened out

dust jacket design 1, front cover and spineDust jacket design 1, inner flapsDust jacket design 1, back and spine

20000 Leagues Under the Sea - dust jacket design #2

2) The dust jacket as it would appear in its entirety, unfolded and flattened out.

dust jacket design, front cover and spinedust jacket design, inner flapsdust jacket design, back and spine


photography courtesy of Camile O’Briant

Don’t forget to vote for your favorite one!

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Title Page of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

In which conclusory (if not conclusive) remarks are made regarding the final episodes in M. Verne’s adventure novel, Vingt mille lieues sous les mers; in which there may be spoilers, so if you haven’t read the book, don’t already know the basic story, and intend to read it for yourself one day — proceed with caution!


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There are only a few entries remaining before I close the book on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

I thought some of you might be interested in following along on the next adventure up for discussion here, which will be H. Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines, which essentially contains the DNA for the “tomb-raider” genre of adventure, including its most perfect manifestation, Indiana Jones.

King Solomon's Mines book cover

featuring Allan Quatermain, the original Indiana Jones

The first discussions will commence around May 21st (don’t hold me to that too tightly). So go out there and grab a second-hand edition and start reading. I’m determined to make this a more interactive experience!

If you’ve got something else going and can’t join us in reading King Solomon’s Mines, not to worry: Your input here is still welcome! As with 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the topics will draw from all kinds of media you may have thought was unrelated (“Heart of Darkness,” for example, or The Maltese Falcon). But just in case you were wondering what to read next, I thought I’d reveal my intentions in plenty of time to track with me (which is no great feat, because I’m a pretty slow reader).

Happy exploring!

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The Orange Monk with a Fin Whale

Catch of the Day: The Orange Monk pictured with the skeleton of a fin whale

I don’t have the energy for paraphrasing, so I’ll just quote the informational placard at the Los Angeles Natural History Museum, where this photo was snapped by that intrepid shutterbug, Hurricane Camile:

Reaching lengths of up to 85 feet and weighing up to 80 tons, the fin whale is the second largest species of whale (the blue whale is the largest, measuring up to 100 feet). Despite their large size, fin whales are surprisingly fast swimmers, earning them the nickname of “greyhounds of the sea.” Fin whales feed on small shrimp-like animals called krill and on small schooling fish, consuming up to one ton of prey per day. Like other large whales, they were hunted for their meat, blubber, and the filtering structure in their mouths called baleen. They are still listed as an Endangered Species, but fin whales have been slowly increasing their number since commercial whaling was suspended in 1986.”

Furthermore, I believe Captain Nemo would classify the fin whale as a “good” whale, and not an “evil” one.

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Admiral Ackbar vs. the Nautilus

Sometimes I just have no words for the pictures. In those cases, The Orange Monk’s Squire comes to the rescue. The Orange Squire is a Tumblr blog I created as a sort of pictorial digest of the considerably wordier things happening here. It was intended to drive additional traffic to this website, but some of you may be coming directly here, and I hate for you to miss out on some of the fun being had at my sidekick blog.

I’ve put a link in the sidebar so you can check things out over there from time to time. If you yourself have a Tumblr blog, I invite you to follow the Squire. He’ll alert you when something is going on here.

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