The missing

The Rhymes With Orange on the 1st takes us into two worlds, the somewhat fantastical Laundry World and, in the parallel everyday world, with the missing persons bureau in a city police department:


You need to recogize the interior of a modern clothes dryer, containing three socks — socks that are also three people, two cops and someone searching for a person who has disappeared. And then to fully appreciate the cartoon, you need recognize the legendary figure of the Lost Sock, which links the two worlds.

In two worlds. Three postings on this blog on cartoons that don’t merely allude to some world other than the one you see in the cartoon, but display situations or events located simultaneously in two worlds, with matchings on many points.

from 8/4/18, in “Cultural knowledge”:

Three recent cartoons in my feed that depend on their readers supplying crucial bits of background cultural information: a Rhymes With Orange … (the eating habits of Japanese movie monsters); a Mother Goose and Grimm … (the His Master’s Voice dog); and [a Wayno/Piraro Bizarro] collab (clergy visiting parishioners).

… In each case, the cartoon shows some situation from everyday life (which you have to know about) juxtaposed with, or translated into, another more remarkable world (which you also need to know details of).

from 11/10/18, in “Cartoon understanding in parallel worlds”, about

cartoons … that work only if you have a fair amount of cultural knowledge in two different domains, which are presented in the cartoon as parallel worlds equally present there. A Brevity strip by Dan Thompson [taxi driving (by Uber) and popular music (by Roy Orbison)]; and a Wayno & Piraro Bizarro [surreptitous dealing in pot and the habits of woodpeckers]

from 1/31/20, in “Identify that potato”:

the cartoon takes place in a world of Potato Heads, with their removable and interchangeable features. But it takes place simultaneously in the everyday world, or at least this world as represented in American popular culture — so we’re expected to recognize this as a police station, with a Wanted poster on the wall and a uniformed (male) cop at a desk

World A in #1. The interior of a clothes dryer. Now a commonplace, but I can remember when these appliances were new — they became widespread in the US in the 1950s — and vividly recall laundry life before then. From Wikipedia:

A clothes dryer, also known as tumble dryer, is a powered household appliance that is used to remove moisture from a load of clothing, bedding and other textiles, usually shortly after they are washed in a washing machine. Otherwise, clothes may also be dried by natural evaporation and, if available, sunlight, on an outdoor or indoor clothes line or clothes horse.

Many dryers consist of a rotating drum called a “tumbler” through which heated air is circulated to evaporate the moisture, while the tumbler is rotated to maintain air space between the articles.

… History: A hand-cranked clothes dryer was created in 1800 by M. Pochon from France.[13] J. Ross Moore, an American inventor from North Dakota, developed designs for automatic clothes dryers during the early 20th century. His design for an electrically operated dryer was developed and released to the public in 1938. Industrial designer Brooks Stevens developed the first electric dryer with a glass window in the 1940s. [Glass windows are in no way essential to the appliance.]

A dryer like the one in #1, as the top part of a stacked washer/dryer combination: the GE Unitized Spacemaker:

(#2) As of January 25th, my house has a model GUD27ES, substantially bigger than the moribund Whirlpool number it replaced, but still (just barely) fitting into my little laundry closet

World B. From Wikipedia:

A missing person is a person who has disappeared and whose status as alive or dead cannot be confirmed as their location and fate are not known.

A person may go missing through a voluntary disappearance, or else due to an accident, crime, death in a location where they cannot be found (such as at sea), or many other reasons. In most parts of the world, a missing person will usually be found quickly. While criminal abductions are some of the most widely reported missing person cases, these account for only 2–5% of missing children in Europe.

… In most countries, the police are the default agency for leading an investigation into a missing person case. Disappearances at sea are a general exception, as these require a specialized agency such as a coast guard. In many countries, such as the United States, voluntary search and rescue teams can be called out to assist the police in the search. Rescue agencies such as fire departments, mountain rescue and cave rescue may also participate in cases that require their specialized resources.

The link.The legendary lost socks. From the Days of the Year site:

(#3) As it happens, May 9th is also Ann Daingerfield Zwicky’s birthday (in 1937)

We don’t know where they go, but we know they’re always disappearing there. Is there some kind of vortex created within the whirl of hot air and tumbling wet clothes that exists within the drier? Or perhaps within the washer there is some form of strange kraken like creature that exists that eats them, and only the left one. Whatever the case, it is an inevitable fact of life that somewhere out there exists an ever growing pile of missing left socks, and Lost Sock Memorial Day is your opportunity to mourn your dearly departed foot warmers, wherever they may be.

… Socks have that unique trait amongst all our adornments that they are rendered utterly useless without their companion. Not only would you look ridiculous wearing only a single sock, but your other foot would be cold! So lost socks are a serious problem! The concept of the ‘lost sock’ is so ubiquitous that in Terry Pratchett’s Disc World series of novels, a creature called the Eater of Socks was birthed into existence as a result of an excess of belief rolling around.

Comics have been made illustrating the missing sock monster, illustrating them eating, hoarding, and even wearing all the socks lost throughout the world. Lost Sock Memorial Day is a chance to spend some time in contemplation as to the ultimate destination of the worlds missing socks.

One of these cartoons, from Lynn Thaler’s website (where it’s unattributed; I’ve found it nowhere else, and it might possibly be Thaler’s work):


[Added later on 2/3: Two more two-world postings on this blog:

from 2/5/19, in “Aquatic carpentry”:

To understand the [Bizarro] cartoon, you need to appreciate that it shows a situation from everyday life (the office of a carpentry business)  juxtaposed with, or translated into, another, more remarkable, world (an undersea, aquatic, world, populated by specific fish, which you need to recognize).

from 9/10/19, in “Him wear saurian monitor”:

[in a Scott Hilburn cartoon] the cavemen’s language combines elements from two worlds: the serious lexical stuff from the legal subworld of the modern everyday world, the structure around it from the fictive world of cavemen. Correspondingly, the topic of the cartoon is Zog’s legal tale, but the artwork is all make-believe caveman.

And the humor comes from the juncture between the two worlds  ]


4 Responses to “The missing”

  1. Robert Coren Says:

    Two notes on lost socks:

    The most plausible theory I’ve heard is that it’s the washer (top-loaders, especially), not the dryer, that devours socks; they get caught under the agitator and end up going down (and hopefully not clogging) the drain.

    Conventional wisdom has it that the downside of lost socks can be minimized by buying all identical pairs of socks, so that if you lose two (probably from different original pairs) you can pair their mates and so have only lost one pair. (My attempts to follow this advice have been thwarted by the fact that once I find socks that I like, by the time I need to buy new ones the previous ones have been discontinued or modified in some way that makes them non-identical to the ones I already own.)

  2. Sim Aberson Says:

    Another way to minimize the problem of lost socks is to not worry about whether your socks match.

    Or, to not wear socks at all.

  3. Michael Vnuk Says:

    My opinion, based on one data point, is that socks are lost at other points of the process. I do all the clothes washing in our house, for my wife, my teenaged son and me. Only my wife has problems with missing socks, which suggests that she is not careful enough when she takes them off and eventually transfers them to a washing basket, or after her washed clothes are passed to her to put away. (Almost all of our drying is done outside on a line, so the dryer is not guilty.)

    Interesting that the Days of the Year site said that it is the left sock that always goes missing. Hmm, how would they know?

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