Something Completely Different: Working with John Cleese on a Public Talk and a New Book

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Mapping the directions of John Cleese’s Escher-like mind. Drawing by Julia Smith.

By Dean Smith

In the fall of 2015, Cornell University Press hosted a folk concert in our offices at Sage House with author and Cornell history professor Richard Polenberg to celebrate Hear My Sad Story, his new book about the true stories of folk songs like “Casey Jones,” “Stagger Lee,” and “John Henry.” Sixty people showed up for the free event. Folk music enthusiasts jammed the foyer and sat knee-to-knee on the staircase all the way to the second floor. Polenberg played four songs on his acoustic guitar and the crowd sang along with him—a magical Ithaca moment—as the sunlight shafted in from all sides after a cold rain.

After the concert, I noticed three women at the top of the second-floor steps. We’d roped off access to the offices on the second and third floors. I asked if they wanted a tour of what had been Cornell benefactor Henry Sage’s mansion and the university infirmary for most of the twentieth century. I showed them our carved oak bats and owls, stained glass windows, and fireplace tile sequences featuring fairy tales such as Goldilocks, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Rumpelstiltskin. Our managing editor’s fireplace is adorned with Arthurian characters such as Lady Guinevere and Sir Lancelot.

At the end of the tour, one of the women, Gerri Jones, told me that Professor John Cleese would like a place like this. At first, I didn’t think I heard her right. Continue reading “Something Completely Different: Working with John Cleese on a Public Talk and a New Book”

Something Completely Different: Working with John Cleese on a Public Talk and a New Book

It’s all about the music: social media in the month of May

Here are some of our most popular social media posts in the month of May. It’s safe to say the Dead ruled Sage House as we celebrated the publication of Cornell ’77: The Music, the Myth, and the Magnificence of the Grateful Dead’s Concert at Barton Hall, with events timed to the 40th anniversary of the Dead’s legendary concert at Cornell.

On Facebook, it was all about the party:

Continue reading “It’s all about the music: social media in the month of May”

It’s all about the music: social media in the month of May

You Were Sweet, Little Databases, But We Outgrew You

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To: Sage House Staff
From: Patrick Garrison, Data Processing Manager
Subject: New Press-wide Database

All,

The PWDB¹ has now been transmitted in final form to Bob Oeste for AllBooks². Our database has now been frozen in time. Full search capability remains, but nothing can be changed. It is what it is, for the ages to come. Goodbye old friend, along with your good buddy CIS³. Change, the inevitable, irresistible force of the Universe, has caught up with you both.

To paraphrase Shakespeare: 

Our revels now are ended. These our databases,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The inventory reports, the price change worksheets,
The solemn reworking of the PWDB, the great mission of the Press itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a dust jacket behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

And when we wake, we will find All Books waiting for us, in a forest of Long Leaves4. In another year, we will not think it so long in coming.

Best,
Patrick Continue reading “You Were Sweet, Little Databases, But We Outgrew You”

You Were Sweet, Little Databases, But We Outgrew You

Remembering Susan Christopherson

My colleagues and I at Cornell University Press were saddened to learn that Susan Christopherson, Professor and Chair of City and Regional Planning at Cornell, died on Wednesday, December 14. In the obituary posted on the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning website, her faculty colleagues celebrate her excellent research and writing, her commitment to equity in our communities, and her tireless work as an administrator, teacher, and mentor. At the Press my colleagues and I saw those qualities of mind and character displayed in her role as a fair and exacting referee on book manuscripts. My predecessor, Peter Wissoker, and I benefited greatly from her dedication to supporting projects that brought theoretical innovation to grounded research as we built a list of titles in that melded political economy approaches to geography with urban studies. Susan was an indispensable and savvy critic, and a champion of worthy projects in the rough that needed just a little more editorial attention. When my energy flagged on a book she cared about, Susan would jump in and revive the project and push both editor and author to work a bit harder. I cannot imagine a better partnership between editor and faculty member. Susan will be missed be me and by my future authors.

—Michael

Michael McGandy is a Senior Editor at Cornell University Press.

Remembering Susan Christopherson

The Deer Is OK

City Lore 30th anniversary party
“Readings, dancing, food, wine, poets, and fans” at City Lore’s 30th anniversary party and book signing (Photo: E. B. Gallardo)

The Poetry of Everyday Life, by Steve Zeitlin, hit the stores this month. The book is a lovely meditation on the nooks and crannies of daily life where poetic moments are nestled. Throughout the book the reader meets poets who have captured and paid homage to those moments. A few weeks ago I got to hear some of those poets in person as they read from the book in a lively and jam-packed book party on the Lower East Side in Manhattan at City Lore, where Steve is founding director.


One night I had a dream in which I tried to navigate the narrative of my dream using the Word toolbars (both Standard and Formatting).


We manuscript editors spend our days with manuscripts and page proofs, e-mail and monitors; some of us don’t get out much, or at least as often as some of our colleagues in other departments. One night I had a dream in which I tried to navigate the narrative of my dream using the Word toolbars (both Standard and Formatting). So I thought, when you get an opportunity to attend an event for a book you got to know really well during the editing and production process and see what actually happens when it hits the world, along with a chance to get down to the city, it is a good idea to seize it! Continue reading “The Deer Is OK”

The Deer Is OK