Archive for April, 2015

A blogging puzzle

April 27, 2015

Recently I got a comment on a posting of a Bizarro cartoon (“Dinosaur connoisseur”), wondering why I hadn’t commented on the space alien and the stick of dynamite in it, and I explained — as I had a number of times before, to other readers of this blog — that this was just one of cartoonist Don Piraro’s things, a little game he plays with his readers: some number of “secret symbols” are salted in almost all his cartoons (they have nothing to do with the actual content of the cartoon), and then their number is noted in the cartoon, just above Piraro’s signature.

Here’s a recent Bizarro with a pun on boot, with two secret symbols:

The eyeball and the piece of pie. The symbols are listed here.

Now the question is: How can I provide this information to my readers?

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Armenian days

April 27, 2015

Some time ago I came to consciousness in the middle of the night to intriguing music from WQXR (classical music from NYC): a collage of melodies, many hauntingly semi-familiar. Hmm, Charles Ives? Not any Ives I recognized, and quieter and less assertive than you expect from Ives. Unfamiliar and charming.

Symphony No. 50 Mount St Helens by Alan Hovhaness. And that took me to Armenians in the U.S., especially to the west of Boston (near where I lived when I was in grad school); to the Armenian diaspora; and to the genocide, a hundred years ago, that triggered the dispersal of Armenians.

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Elsa Lanchester

April 27, 2015

In idle chat with Elizabeth Daingerfield Zwicky at breakfast on Saturday, Elsa Lanchester’s album Bawdy Cockney Songs came up, including the double entendre in “Linda and her Londonderry Air”. My grand-daughter Opal finds these songs entertaining, but we’re not sure how much of this stuff she gets.

From the album, two songs (“The Husband’s Clock”, “Lola’s Saucepan”):

Then I pointed out that beyond her music hall performances, Lanchester was a well-known actress (most famous for Bride of Frankenstein but quite accomplished in many other, less campy, roles) and also the wife of Charles Laughton, with whom she often acted.

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A playful poetic footnote

April 26, 2015

In my “More detection” posting, we came across writer E. C. Bentley, with fame in two areas. From Wikipedia:

E. C. Bentley (full name Edmund Clerihew Bentley; 10 July 1875 – 30 March 1956) was a popular English novelist and humorist of the early twentieth century, and the inventor of the clerihew, an irregular form of humorous verse on biographical topics.

… His detective novel, Trent’s Last Case (1913), was much praised, numbering Dorothy L. Sayers among its admirers, and with its labyrinthine and mystifying plotting can be seen as the first truly modern mystery. It was adapted as a film in 1920, 1929, and 1952. The success of the work inspired him, after 23 years, to write a sequel, Trent’s Own Case (1936). There was also a book of Trent short stories, Trent Intervenes.

… From 1936 until 1949 Bentley was president of the Detection Club.

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More detection

April 26, 2015

Follow-ups to my posting on Ronald Knox and his ten “rules” for detective fiction (enjoining writers to play fair with their readers): the origin of the rules; floutings of the rules; and attacks on detective fiction as a genre.

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Morning: Great American Dream Machine

April 26, 2015

This morning’s name: the television show The Great American Dream Machine. Bonus: grades of olives and their names.

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Apologetic candy

April 26, 2015

On the tv this morning, a (very short) commercial that turned on the apology “Sorry I was eating a Milky Way”. It’s on this site, with an explanation of its content:

A hairstylist, a rodeo clown and a cruise ship captain all completely forget what [they’re] supposed to be doing while eating a delicious Milky Way chocolate and caramel candy bar. Hilarity ensues, but their Milky Ways are just too good for these people to care.

On another site, a set of other “Distracted Chocolate-Eating Ads”:

Although being distracted by a chocolate bar might not be the best excuse for certain scenarios, the Milky Way Caramel campaign shows that this snack may be particularly irresistible. With its gooey caramel center, how could a bride possibly make it to her wedding on time? Or a mother not burn her son’s boy scout uniform with an unattended iron? These situations and more should be excused, at least according to the Milky Way Caramel campaign.

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Morning: Conrad Ecklie

April 25, 2015

This morning’s name was Conrad Ecklie. From Wikipedia:

Conrad Ecklie is a fictional character on the television series CSI played by Marc Vann. He was employed as Assistant Director of the crime lab of Clark County, Nevada until he was promoted first to Undersheriff in Season 10, then to Sheriff of Clark County in Season 13. In earlier seasons, he is a typical antagonist. As the series progresses, he gradually starts to become a good friend to the CSI team.

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Underground Mastodon

April 25, 2015

From Sim Aberson, this tile from the NYC subway, at the 81st Street – Museum of Natural History Station:

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That’s the American mastodon. And this is a marker for an underground mastodon (note nice double dactyl: Higgledy piggedy / Undergound mastodon …).

A few words about mammoths and mastodons.

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shtum

April 25, 2015

From the April 18th Economist, in the article “Putin’s targeted strike: The meaning of Russia’s weapons sale to Iran”:

In July 2013 Russia remained silent when an Israeli air strike destroyed anti-ship cruise missiles that it had recently supplied to Syria and were on their way to Hizbullah. And Israel kept shtum last October when Syrian rebels released footage of the involvement of Russian intelligence officers at a Syrian military listening post on the Golan Heights that had been overrun.

Israel kept shtum. With the adjective shtum ‘silent, mute’ — an item that, apparently, few Americans know, unless they have some experience of British English. (The Economist is a British publication.) On the British side, the item is ordinary slang, commonly used in the collocation keep shtum (and in some other contexts). It seems to be derived from Yiddish, though I believe that very few British speakers appreciate that; for them, it’s just slang. So there’s something of a puzzle as to how it became naturalized in BrE but not AmE.

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