Wigs and smog in Nevada

Today’s (Boxing Day) Zippy cartoon takes us to commercial strips in Nevada and to a Woody Allen (comic) homage to German Expressionist film:


(Remember that Zippy is a notably surrealistic cartoon.)

The setting for the strip is the Las Vegas / Henderson NV area.  Home of both Serge’s Showgirl Wigs and a large number of Jiffy Smog locations providing smog checks.

— Serge’s, at 4515 West Sahara Ave., Las Vegas NV 89102:


From their website, some puffery:

At Serge’s Wigs we offer the largest selection of wigs and hairpieces in Las Vegas to fit everyone’s needs.

Our staff is well experienced and caring. They will help you find the style that is best fitting for you. We also cater to the needs of our cancer patients and offer them a private booth for their privacy and comfort. For our men, we carry a nice selection of men’s wigs and hairpieces .

Serge’s Wigs is a well-known destination for all wig wearers (from all around the world).

— Jiffy Smog, at many locations around the Las Vegas / Henderson area, for example:


I was hoping for Zippy wearing one of Serge’s wigs at a Jiffy Smog, but these hopes have been sadly dashed.

Wigs and smog, shadows and fog. Via the similarities between these two N-N coordinations — a purely accidental association in sound and content (surrealistic associations are often wild leaps) — we go from commercal strip stores in the Las Vegas area to a Woody Allen homage to German Expressionist film and Franz Kafka. Since this is Allen, for whom death is a comic subject, his Shadows and Fog is a comedy, despite what you might think when you first see the posters:


From Wikipedia:

Shadows and Fog is a 1991 American black-and-white comedy film directed by Woody Allen and based on his one-act play Death. It stars Allen, Mia Farrow, John Malkovich, John Cusack, Madonna, and Kenneth Mars. It was filmed on a 26,000-square-foot … set at Kaufman Astoria Studios, which was the biggest set ever built in New York. …

Shadows and Fog is an homage to German Expressionist filmmakers Fritz Lang, G. W. Pabst and F. W. Murnau in its visual presentation, and to the writer Franz Kafka in theme. Critical reception of the work was lukewarm.

I haven’t seen the film, but (as usual with Allen) noted the casting with interest. This film came close to the end of Allen’s period of artistic and personal relationship with Mia Farrow, but the full cast has many surprises. From the cast list:

Woody Allen, Kathy Bates, John Cusack, Mia Farrow, Jodie Foster, Fred Gwynne (of The Munsters), Julie Kavner, Madonna, John Malcovich, Donald Pleasence (of the James Bond films), Lily Tomlin

And Kenneth Mars, who might not be so familiar to current audiences. From Wikipedia:

Kenneth Mars (April 4, 1935 – February 12, 2011) was an American actor, voice actor and comedian, who specialized in comedic roles. He appeared in two Mel Brooks films: as the deranged Nazi playwright Franz Liebkind in The Producers (1967) and Police Inspector Hans Wilhelm Friedrich Kemp in Young Frankenstein (1974). He also appeared in Peter Bogdanovich’s What’s Up Doc? (1972), and Woody Allen’s Radio Days (1987), and Shadows and Fog (1990).

Mars appeared in two seasons of [the American tv comedy] Malcolm in the Middle as Otto Mannkusser, Francis’s well-meaning but dimwitted boss and a German immigrant who owns a dude ranch. [He also voiced many characters in film and tv.]


2 Responses to “Wigs and smog in Nevada”

  1. Mitch4 Says:

    I get FOG ==> SMOG but not SHADOWS ==> WIGS. Could you clarify how that worked for you? Thanks! =mitch (Long ago UChicago Linguistics student)

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      Ah, you were expecting a proportional analogy, but what Bill Griffith supplies is, instead, surrealistic free association. He starts from WIGS AND SMOG, which is given in the cartoon. Then SMOG suggests FOG, and he leaps to a fixed phrase with FOG as its second element: the film title SHADOWS and FOG. That’s it; that’s the whole thing.

      The associations in Zippy strips are quite frequently this simple: one element and a format, and you can leap far away. It’s roughly similar to the “flight of ideas” in bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: