25 Portals…new book

Posted in art, books on October 20th, 2017 by Ira Altschiller – Comments Off on 25 Portals…new book

A new book on the iBooks Store – check it out!

iBooks Store link: 25 Extraordinary Portals in Space Time

New on the iBookstore: Twenty Five Miles to True North

Posted in art, books on May 4th, 2015 by Ira Altschiller – Comments Off on New on the iBookstore: Twenty Five Miles to True North


Twenty-Five Miles to True North
(link takes you to iTunes)

“Twenty-Five Miles To True North” is a “Children’s Book for Adults.”

The radical play of imagination in these 13 unforgettable “journeys” will stay with you. The stories are a form-breaking, original mix of absurdist humor, Kafkaesque/Borgesian surrealism, pop culture references, which possess an underlying compassion. The tales in “Twenty-Five Miles To True North” affirm love and embrace the mystery of things.

These compelling, often deeply felt landscapes, offer surprising turns. The unnamed narrator is usually accompanied by a beautiful companion, who sometimes becomes just a sweet voice. Hovering, offering advice and protection, all the while teasing the narrator.

From the first form-breaking story we are launched into a landscape of bickering rabbits who warn of horrors ahead—prognosticators of doom. There is a suggestive story about a chaos machine which is also about public presentations. There is a landscape of lost things, mysterious Victorian ladies singing a song of healing enchantment, a crystallographer and his bionic pet—even a parade float in a basement.

PREVIEW, “ISLAND”, ebook on the iBookstore

Posted in art, books, videos on July 21st, 2014 by Ira Altschiller – Comments Off on PREVIEW, “ISLAND”, ebook on the iBookstore

This is a preview @youtube of “ISLAND, Eleven Lost Islands, A Summary Report”

If this vid produces an error try viewing it on YouTube:
ISLAND @youtube

“ISLAND” iBookstore link: ibookstore

Bill Bryson

Posted in books, science on April 30th, 2013 by Ira Altschiller – Comments Off on Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything is so good I’m having a second go at it, via audiobook from the library.

The experts he’s chosen, the facts to which he has given credence, express a soundness that reflects character. The miraculous thing is that he is able to parse these specialties, find baseline information, and express it in a witty, devilish way. He focuses on people, on the scientists and their eccentricities, as well as the science. Bryson’s giving due credit to those history left in the dust, without deserved acclaim, is particularly fine.

This is a 2003 book that needs updating, though.

iPad Sketchbook Video

Posted in art, books, videos on August 4th, 2012 by Ira Altschiller – Comments Off on iPad Sketchbook Video

A sample animation from iPad Sketchbook 5 (soon to be) in the iBookstore. 

All but the first of the iPad sketchbooks, which are now in the iBookstore, contain vids.
(See links on right sidebar.)

music: Kevin MacLeod under Creative Commons

Three Books: Grendel, Cerberus, Minotaur

Posted in art, books, jolly days news, writers-poetry on May 4th, 2012 by Ira Altschiller – Comments Off on Three Books: Grendel, Cerberus, Minotaur

Three just published books, all exclusively for the Kindle, at the moment:

cover grendel

Grendel, The Demon’s Inner Torment

In this short story, third in the Monsters series, Grendel, the ancient, legendary demon, tells a surprising story – one which we weren’t taught in school.

cover minotaur ebook

The Minotaur’s Tale

A short story in which a powerful being, condemned to dwell in infinite caves, gives his personal perspective.

cover cerberus ebook

Cerberus, Gatekeeper to the Underworld

In this short story,second in the Monsters series, Cerberus, the legendary gatekeeper, a terrifying creature with three snarling heads, reveals himself to be a bored, wise bureaucrat. Alternately conversational, witty and reflective, we get the scoop, up close and personal.

New Book: “The Crowd”

Posted in art, books on March 5th, 2012 by Ira Altschiller – Comments Off on New Book: “The Crowd”

cover-the crowd

The above image is the cover of a new book in the iBookstore called The Crowd”.

It is an enhanced eBook, with both video and a new format; a format currently only provided by Apple.


This is a book of suggestive, mask-like images, which can be thought of as a book of drawings only, but its goal is something more experimental.

These images are built around an ambiguous theme which the reader can choose to embrace, providing a complex landscape of ideas.

Included are 23 images with an introductory video depicting the creation, in sped-up fashion, of one of the images.


From the Foreword:

Our transitional age inspired this series of images.

With a daily overload of amazing and disturbing news from the town square percolating in my subconscious, these flickering images emerged from my regular practice of drawing and painting. They are images of suggestion and feeling rather than illustrations.

At one juncture I thought of these body-less visages as Beings Before Time; masked energy existing before the Big Bang. (It is thought Time was itself born at the moment of this astonishing cosmic paroxysm.)

In this metaphor, spirits inhabiting a timeless realm awaited their moment, entering our universe as sprites which now inhabit our minds, each spirit with its own predispositions; its own grandeur and deviltry. …

New Book: Old Peculiar Tales / Book Creator App

Posted in art, books, computers on October 13th, 2011 by Ira Altschiller – Comments Off on New Book: Old Peculiar Tales / Book Creator App

A new book on the iBookstore:

Old Peculiar Tales

This is a book of eleven speculative tales of fantasy. Image rich, created as a “picturebook”.


I used a new App called Book Creator for the iPad to construct this book. There have been no dedicated tools for creating fixed position books, and, out of the blue, a wonderful developer in England, Dan Amos, has done what billion dollar corporations could not. Picturebooks are books that look like formatted books; like a PDF, rather than flowing web pages. An excellent format for image heavy eBooks, but mind-numbing to create from scratch by code.

Dan uses a very simple, transparent interface – he had set out to make this App useful for kids – but it turns out to be fully capable for professional production as well. In the latter case a bit of knowledge about CSS would help for tweaks, but in most cases, you can get along with just the tools offered by Book Creator.

Book Creator is fun. You open the app and you immediately figure it out.

You create the book in the app. Instead of following a meandering path to get the eBook into iBooks, you simply tap a menu choice and BC constructs the ePub and places it in iBooks. You can edit without the usual hassle of creating on the desktop, transferring to iTunes and syncing – a tremendous time saver. Dan is currently working to enable audiobook capability and later videos.

I once taught in an after school center with the charge of introducing printmaking. You should have seen the pure delight expressed by children when they see a print of their drawing appear. It made you smile. Some kids would laugh out loud or even shriek. I can imagine whole classes filled with delighted children at seeing their creations appear in iBooks using Book Creator.

At first it was a surprise to see the solution BC offers; one expects a desktop application to create these picturebooks. It makes so much more sense to have the app on your iPad.

At the App store: Book Creator

Dan’s site,

iPad Sketchbook 4

Posted in art, books, jolly days news on July 19th, 2011 by admin – Comments Off on iPad Sketchbook 4

iPad Sketchbook 4

This is the fourth in a series of digital sketchbooks containing expressive images created on the iPad. This is an enhanced eBook, with thirty images, and includes sped-up movies which depict the creation of two of the images.


The Tribulations

Posted in art, blogging, books, ideas, jolly days news, miscellaneous on April 11th, 2011 by Ira Altschiller – Comments Off on The Tribulations

After a battle with WordPress and obstinate plugins – which resulted in Jolly Days loading as a blank page; and a battle with a cell phone company about its online payment implementation, and not being able to run today –  I’m feeling pecked to death by ducks. Until you realize the context – the greater tribulations of the world – the Arab world in turmoil with uncertain outcome; the devastation in Japan; our president who seems one step behind too often and the Republicans in disarray, the ominous future for the economy if something is not done – it doesn’t make you feel perky.


I’ve been working hard to publish more books at the iBookstore; not satisfying creative work, but rather meticulous, mind numbing work. I’m very proud of the result though:

iPad Sketchbook 3
Ira Altschiller: Works on Paper
Ira Altschiller: A Retrospective

and two more to come: picturebooks is what Apple calls them, which are fixed layout books for a better presentation of books which have an emphasis on images.


I did want to mention a funny link provided at Jason Kottke’s site

Someone at Yahoo Answers uploaded a page of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest as his own and asked for comments.

Rated as the best answer / criticism:

You know your story needs more work, so you don’t need anyone to tell you what you already know.

Comment sections are always pretty funny. Some people don’t like the snarkiness, and I’m not a big fan of that aspect, but often there are interesting ideas and commentary as well. It is the mosh pit after all. A financial journalist at bloggingheads said that she always felt that people weren’t asking questions or engaging ideas  in comments sections of weblogs, they were trying to appear smart.

The idea of sending great literature as if written by sender to an established publisher has been done over the years. Rejection letters for masterpieces like War and Peace leaves one agape – like the audience watching The Frankie singing Puttin’ on the Ritz in Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein. Saul Bellow stopped sending his stories to the New Yorker after a full of himself young editor told him how he should correct his piece. Bellow had recently won the Nobel Prize.

The Dead, Joyce and Huston

Posted in art, books, ideas, writers-poetry on February 6th, 2011 by Ira Altschiller – Comments Off on The Dead, Joyce and Huston

Joyce’s novella The Dead was made into a movie in 1987 by John Huston, then in his 80s. This was a project of love, with his daughter Anjelica in the lead role. We just saw it in a Netflix rental. The movie begins with a depiction of the long associations of human society and quirks of personality as manifested at a party. You feel the weight of time on these people living in Ireland in 1904. Their characters are all delimited and defined in a way that is a marvel. Like My Dinner With Andre, Huston has taken a minimalist setting and made it something so much more complex. Anjelica Huston is a great actress. Her silent presence in so many scenes gave the movie a tremendous emotional richness.

Underlying it all is the genius of Joyce. His language en-flowers as the story evolves into a meditation on living and dying. At first this human society is mundane, slightly boring, quietly funny. Then on the carriage ride home The Dead opens up into a dark space that makes you shudder, like traveling into a boundless forest. You feel the emotional separation of husband and wife.

When Anjelica Huston tells her husband – a “sensible man” she sneers – of the long lost love of her youth; of her guilt at this young boy’s death, she overflows with grief and finally loses herself hugging, clutching at her husband. But she immediately pushes her husband away – she will not accept even his consolation. Her husband muses over the evening party and falls into a reverie about his life, his beloved wife, and the lives of his friends and family, and then into a reverie about all our lives. It is like a melting into something larger and larger, as Frost defined poetry.

Clearly no one could re-write Joyce in the concluding scene. It has to be repeated and heard in Joyce’s words and so the filmmaker resorts to the slightly awkward technique of voice-over to give full throat to Joyce. Joyce mingles prose and poetry in a great yielding resonance of language and feeling.

A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.