The Shadow knows

April 22, 2018

… or if Lamont Cranston isn’t available, Facebook will know. In this Maddie Dai cartoon from the April 23rd New Yorker, Facebook knows, immediately:

(#1) “And, just like that, Facebook is giving us ads for used cars, optometrists, and couples counselling.”

Smash the car, you’ll need a replacement; trouble seeing what’s in the road, you’ll need an optometrist; forthcoming disagreement over who was responsible, you’ll need couples counselling.

And magically, invisibly, Facebook is aware of all this.

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Personal anniversaries in 2018

April 21, 2018

… some in big round numbers. The biggest is 100, commemorating the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 — which has personal meaning for me because my maternal grandfather Irwin Rice died in the pandemic that year (as did my aunt Mildred, then a tiny baby). For comparison: my parents were both 4 years old that year, and my paternal grandfather Melchior Zwicky was 39 (my dad was the baby of the family). I was reminded of all this by the publication last year of a new book on the pandemic, the excellent Pale Rider by Laura Spinney:


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April 20, 2018

… or RotisserFoosball, depending on how you look at it. In the April 23rd New Yorker, this clever visual and conceptual hybrid of foosball and rotisserie chicken: a game played maniacally by chefs in their kitchen:

(#1) Cartoon by John O’Brien, who often ventures into this hybrid territory

Earlier on this blog, a 6/4/16 posting on the cartoonist Jeff Hobbs, with this FoosKebab cartoon as #4 there:

(#2) Kebabs on a grill, with the skewers treated like the bars in foosball (aka table football)

(#3) A foosball table

In #1, rather than kebabs on skewers, we have chickens on spits in a rotisserie. From NOAD:

noun rotisserie: 1 a cooking appliance with a rotating spit for roasting and barbecuing meat. 2 a restaurant specializing in roasted or barbecued meat.

(#4) Costco rotisserie

Rotisserie chicken is a chicken dish that is cooked on a rotisserie, using direct heat in which the chicken is placed next to the heat source. Electric- or gas-powered heating elements may be used, [supplying] adjustable infrared heat. … Leftover rotisserie chicken may be used in a variety of dishes, such as soup, chicken salad and sandwiches.

… In 2014, Costco sold approximately 76 million rotisserie chickens in the United States. (Wikipedia link)

About the artist John O’Brien, from his website:


John O’Brien was born in Philadelphia, PA in 1953 and graduated from The Philadelphia College of Art in 1975.

In the course of his career, he has worked with many notable publishers, illustrating 83 children’s books, 8 of which he also wrote.  He has done illustrations for publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Washington Times, Global Finance and Worth, and contributed to many other collections, anthologies and textbooks.  He has also had a long relationship with Highlights for Kids Magazine for which he has contributed numerous covers and interior illustrations.

John has also had a long career as a cartoonist for many magazines, most notably The New Yorker, for which he created 17 covers and over 200 interior pieces.  His cartoons have also been featured in the New York Times, Esquire, Fast Company and Omni, among others.

John resides in Delran, New Jersey in the spring and fall.  In the summer he moves to North Wildwood, NJ, where he has been a lifeguard on the North Wildwood Beach Patrol since 1970 and is currently Senior Lifeguard. John spends the winter months in Miami, Florida.

He plays music both professionally and for entertainment, primarily Dixieland and Celtic.  He most enjoys banjo and concertina but also plays piano, bass and guitar.

Two of his “hybrid” covers for the New Yorker:

(#6) 7/16/90: a Venetian gondola and an ice cream sundae

(#7) 2/4/91: a ski slope and a pinball machine

The world out my front door

April 20, 2018

I post a lot about the world out my front door: what can be seen and appreciated within a few blocks of my house on Ramona St.: buildings, businesses, public art, parks, food, and (especially) plants.

“The world out my front door” is an allusion to the wonderful 1978 book of photography by Ruth Orkin: The World Through My Window:


What’s out my front door is downtown Palo Alto, and at somewhat greater distance, Menlo Park, Stanford, and the Professorville, Old Palo Alto, College Terrace, and California Ave. neighborhoods of Palo Alto. What was out of Ruth Orkin’s window (on Central Park West in NYC) was Central Park, which she captured in photographic images (mostly in color) that have become iconic. Central Park in mist and haze, Central Park in the snow.

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The rainbow beard

April 20, 2018

Displaying yourself flagrantly, for a very good cause. This is the tale of Lee Tucker and his rainbow beard … and more. It started with this:

(#1) LT: When you foolishly sign up to be the emcee for a rather amazing event at work. And it requires a rather dramatic look.

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Sein Dopelgänger

April 19, 2018

Not a typo. The man in question is the elusive David Dennison, a pseudonym of the notorious American sociopath Helmet Grabpussy (who is generally referred to on this blog as [REDACTED]). And his Dopelgänger is the distinguished David Denison, Professor Emeritus of English Linguistics at the University of Manchester (on the other side of the Atlantic).

There’s the 2-n DD and the 1-n DD, and they are laughably, horribly, distinct. The 2-n DD is a creature, the 1-n DD is a teacher. (Apologies to Ogden Nash, llamas, and lamas.)

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Faucet handles

April 19, 2018

From Joe Transue on Facebook this morning, this piece of hardware from the Pfister company:

(#1) Joe: WTV?

In three languages, a head noun meaning ‘handle’ with the modifier Verve (prenominal in English, postnominal in French and Spanish): Verve handle, poignée Verve, manija Verve.

One reader took Verve to be the noun verve: ‘vigor and spirit or enthusiasm’ (NOAD) and played with that:

Rarely do you see such lively, talented, energetic & animated handles. You are lucky to have found one. Makes lavatory stops much more enjoyable!

But Joe took Verve to be an error, and appealed to me as an authority on errors in speech and writing:

Old post… But Arnold Zwicky do you have any idea what is up with this? I think this is a seriously strange error. At first I thought it might be some sort of trade name for the part, but I’m about 99% sure they mean VALVE.

But no. As you might have expected from the form Verve in three different languages, not an error — but the name of a type of faucet handle. From the wonderful world of hardware terminology.

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On the food and drink beat

April 19, 2018

Two remarkable finds: on Facebook, passed on by Heidi Harley, cotton candy burritos; and on a Pinterest board, the Slippery Panties cocktail.

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Erective affinities

April 19, 2018

The Daily Jocks ad from yesterday, for a swimwear sale, with a caption of my own devising (below the fold). Not for kids or the sexually modest:


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Cartoons on SF earthquake day

April 18, 2018

Three cartoons in my recent feeds: a One Big Happy with a Southernism that Ruthie’s unfamiliar with; a Rhymes With Orange with tuxidermy ( = tuxedo + taxidermy); and a Zippy with a war of plush cudgels (and the munitions industry that it supports). Nothing to do with the 1906 SF earthquake.

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