Zippy, Elia, and Vilnissimo confront their stress

(There will be a just barely not-naked moose-knuckled underwear model, plus references to male raunchy bits and man-on-man sex in plain terms, so, alas, not suitable for kids or the sexually modest.)

Three items on my computer screen this morning: today’s Zippy, in which the Pinhead totters from stress in a world of (historical) roadside seafood joints in New England, the last of which leads to today’s Daily Jocks swimwear ad for the Elia company; meanwhile, Zippy’s succumbing to stress leads to National Stress Awareness Day, and a Private Eye cartoon by Vilnissimo for the occasion (posted today on Facebook by John Wells).

(#1) Stressed-out Zippy shacking up with the shad, Chad going to the beach to spawn in Elia swimwear, Vilnissimo keenly aware of stress in Private Eye

A stressed-out Zippy covers the waterfront. In a search for seafood (and, where possible, ice cream delights as well):

(#2) Higgie’s Food & Ice Cream in Higganum CT (within Haddam CT, on the Connecticut River); Pilot House in Sandwich MA, on the Cape Cod Canal; Spencers Haddam Shad Shack in Haddam CT — all in earlier times

The places, with information about what they’re like now:

— Higgie’s Food & Ice Cream, 236 Saybrook Rd Higganum CT 06441 (the village of Higganum is one of five making up Haddam CT, on the Connecticut River), offering diner fare, but specializing in seafood specialties (especially the fresh lobster roll), plus soft serve ice cream, in fanciful creations; the place has passed from hand to hand several times. A fairly recent version of the place:


and the food (not the ice cream) menu as of 4/9/21, which might now have been superseded:


— what is now the Pilot House Restaurant and Lounge, 14 Gallo Rd, Sandwich MA 02563 (at the Sandwich Marina on the Cape Cod Canal), specializing in local seafood; the Zippy drawing seems to be of an earlier (much more modest) building, so I won’t show you the current upscale restaurant

— Spencers / Spencer’s Haddam Shad Shack, 1130 Saybrook Road Haddam CT 06438, on the Connecticut River, once a little roadside place specializing in shad; closed in 2003, it survives as a dilapidated wreck that historic preservationists are hoping to restore, because of the great significance that shad played in local (and American) history. Here’s a recent photo of the ruins:


It’s all about the shad. Shad is a big fucking deal — though, technically, shad don’t fuck, but instead the female distributes eggs (ova), the males sperm (milt), in the water, two coordinated activities that the Merriam-Webster on-line dictionary reports can be referred to as spawning by either sex:

verb spawn: (used of an aquatic animal) to deposit or fertilize spawn (eggs)

(in a narrower usage, the verb is used only for depositing spawn; but keep the wider usage in mind for when we get to Chad on the beach).

Basic facts from Wikipedia:

The American shad (Alosa sapidissima) is a species of anadromous [migrating up rivers from the sea to spawn] clupeid fish [in the family Clupeidae, the fish family that includes herrings, shads, sardines, and menhadens] naturally distributed on the North American coast of the North Atlantic, from Newfoundland to Florida, and as an introduced species on the North Pacific coast.

…The American shad has been described as “the fish that fed the (American) nation’s founders”. Adult shad weigh between 1.5 and 3.5 kg (3 and 8 lb), and they have a delicate flavor when cooked. It is considered flavorful enough to not require sauces, herbs, or spices. It can be boiled, filleted and fried in butter, or baked. Traditionally, a little vinegar is sprinkled over it on the plate. In the Eastern United States, roe shads (females) are prized because the eggs are considered a delicacy.

The name “shad” derives from the Old English sceadd, meaning “herring”; it is a cognate to Irish, Welsh, and Scottish Gaelic words for herring.

… The shad spends most of its life in the Atlantic Ocean, but swims up freshwater rivers to spawn.

(Those freshwater rivers include the Connecticut River at Haddam CT, which empties into Long Island Sound to the south — a tidal estuary of the Atlantic Ocean. Haddam was once part of Shadland.)

Of course there’s a food digression. From the Spruce Eats website, “What Is American Shad? Buying, Cooking, and Recipes” by Hank Shaw on 7/29/21:

(#6) Grilled shad with creamy sorrel sauce (photo by Clive Streeter / Getty Images)

It has a substantial amount of bones relative to its small size, but shad lovers think the flavor payoff far outweighs the inconvenience of dealing with the bones. Usually smoked, grilled whole, baked, or deep-fried, shad can be easily cooked and served as you would salmon.

… American shad has a wonderful, distinctive, sardine-like flavor that is sweet, salty, and freshly fishy. The texture of the fish — which you can really only savor when it is filleted — enhances its pronounced flavor with an oily, yet resilient, silky sensation as it melts like butter on the palate.

And there’s kohada (gizzard shad) nigiri sushi.

They go down to the sea in shocking pink bikini briefs. To spawn. Well, the underwear model I’ll call Chad (for his shad-like behavior) does, in the Daily Jocks 7/20 ad for Elia swimwear, showing Chad, who has faced up to the unbearable stress of his life by slipping into his maximally brief swimwear in shrieking pink, to go down to the gay beach and spawn, to spread his sperm profligately and welcome other men’s sperm with equal abandon, as some men are inclined to do.

(#7) Spawnqueer Chad, seeking relief: sex on the beach, like sex in the woods, combines the enormous stress-reduction effects of having sex (with yourself or a congenial partner) with the very substantial stress-reduction effects of the soothing ocean (or forest) environment

(There are, of course, many techniques for stress reduction: for example, exercising strenuously, walking / hiking / running, getting a massage, meditating, swimming, knitting, stretching, baking, dancing, taking a luxurious hot bath. But having sex and embracing the ocean or the woods are both well-established as effective therapies. So they’re even better together.)

But Chad has taken all this one step further, by choosing his beachwear with such care. The Daily Jocks ad copy:

Mykonos bikini brief, now available in pink: Slimmer on the sides compared to a standard swim brief, the Mykonos Brief is sleek and sexy, perfect for summer!

Almost as sliding-off-the-hipbones sleek as you can get, so sleek that pretty much any guy wearing one — even  a little-dick guy like me (or like Chad appears to be) stands out with a lovingly outlined dickhead. And then of course it’s all in shrieking-queer pink. How could you not want to gay-spawn with a dude like Chad? That sweet face. That earnest mustache and beard. That flowing hippie hair. Those cute little nipples. And that fabulous inguinal crease.

One more bash at stress. Passed on on Facebook this morning by (eminent phonetician) John Wells (asking “Where does the nucleus go?”), this Vilnissimo cartoon — in e-mail, John tells me it’s on p. 38 of issue 1557 of Private Eye, for July 15th of this year:

(#8) There is an actual National Stress Awareness Day in my country — April 16th — but the cartoon is about the stress pattern of the compound Stress Awareness Day, not about stress awareness at all

(To answer the question you haven’t asked out loud, neither John Wells nor I knows anything at all about the artist who draws politically (and often sexually) pointed cartoons under the name Vilnissimo. In my case, not for want of trying to find out, via Google, Twitter, and Facebook.)

So, the cartoon plays on an ambiguity in the noun stress: the emotional-state sense of previous sections of this posting; versus the prosodic-prominence sense of linguists like John and me. From NOAD:

noun stress: … 2 [a] a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances … 3 … [b] emphasis given to a particular syllable or word in speech, typically through a combination of relatively greater loudness, higher pitch, and longer duration

TOO much stress / Too much STRESS in Haddam CT, its power forcing Zippy towards the ground. TOO much stress / Too much STRESS in Australia (where the Elia beachwear comes from), driving Chad and his mates to the beach to spawn together.

5 Responses to “Zippy, Elia, and Vilnissimo confront their stress”

  1. RF Says:

    The publication rights page for Vilnissimo ( gives his name as Vilnis Vesma. Searching for that name results in pages about an energy consultant, but his LinkedIn page ( confirms they are the same person.

  2. Robert Coren Says:

    I have never had sex on a beach, but I’ve always regarded the (oft-celebrated) concept with a skeptical eye; sand is, after all, the anti-lubricant.

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