Gross and flying penguins, Barsotti and flying squirrels

Unearthed in today’s clearing out of material piled up in a cabinet, two New Yorker cartoons: a Sam Gross (published in the 9/4/95 issue) in which a penguin achieves flight, a Charles Barsotti (published in the 8/12/96 issue) in which squirrels question whether they are in fact flying squirrels (there are tree squirrels, ground squirrels, flying squirrels, and questioning squirrels — TGFQ):



If you try harder, you might succeed; and if you give it a try, you might discover your identity.

Background: I was clearing out (amog other things) huge piles of materials for making collages — mostly clippings from various sources, or the sources themselves, not yet processed; and mostly, but far from entirely, XXX-rated images (these sorted into dozens of categories, of varying degrees of salaciousness, from men kissing to very specific man-on-man sexual acts). My hands are no longer capable of making collages, so, sadly,. amost all this stuff  has become instant paper-recycling. Boxes of it.

But in there were a few usable things, like #1 and #2 above (cartoons by artists already represented on this blog) and a very large assortment of collages (both originals and copies). Plus some items to give away, including some X-rated stuff I’ll offer here shortly.

More Gross. I’ll use this occasion to post two more Gross cartoons not already on this blog. A grotesque frog food cartoon I remember vividly, although it seems not to have actually been published (though it’s in the magazine’s files), and a cartoon that manages to combine two cartoon memes:



The Wikipedia article cagily avoids the frogs’ legs vs. frog’s legs issue by using the equally available plain N + N compound frog legs, and then it says:

Frog legs are one of the better-known delicacies of French and Chinese cuisine. The legs of edible frogs are also consumed in other parts of the world, including Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, northern Italy, the Alentejo region of Portugal, Spain, Albania, Slovenia, the northwest Greece and the Southern regions of the United States. As of 2014, the world’s largest exporter of frogs is Indonesia, also a large consumer. In such regions as Brazil, Mexico and the Caribbean, many frogs are still caught wild.

Frog legs are rich in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, and potassium. They are often said to taste like chicken because of their mild flavor, with a texture most similar to chicken wings.

Of course, once you’ve harvested the legs for food, the rest of the creature is just animal waste. No paraplegic frogs in little wheelchairs, as in #5, from the magazine in .

Then, in #4 (from the magazine in 5/20/13)  we get the stock cartoon vultures waiting for newly dead prey to harvest, and the soon-to-appear prey, the stock cartoon lemmings racing off a cliff.

More Barsotti. Two more cartoons from him as well: one obviously linguistic, one (from the magazine on 6/18/12) a wordless cartoon (a Barsotti specialty, in the magazine on 1/19/95) that’s funny as it stands but might be understood :



In #5 the haughty dog — a greyhound, I think — uses the regal one in talking to the humble mutt.

And then in #6 we have an entertaining situation: the character on the right is a potato, about to confront the character on the left, a kitchen utensil we are meant to recognize as a potato masher lurking around the corner, ready to jump the potato (with mashing in mind).

This is the interpretation the New Yorker files get — and almost surely the one Barsotti intended (alas, we can’t ask him, since he’s died) — because the magazine’s note on the cartoon refers to the potato as male. But now try thinking of the potato as female, and note that the noun masher is in the air. From NOAD2:

N. Amer. informal a man who makes unwelcome sexual advances, often in public places andypically to women he does not know. [late 19th cent.: probably a derivative of slang mash ‘attract sexually,’ perhaps from Romany masherava ‘allure.’]

Ok, it’s a stretch. But then works of art, even pop-culture miniatures like cartoons, can resonate with meanings their creators did not consciously intend.


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