Egg-themed Scrabble

🐇 🐇 🐇 rabbit rabbit rabbit for the first of March; meanwhile, it’s St. David’s Day, and here comes Taffy with the leeks (from which many excellent soups can be made) and the daffodils (strictly for admiring; they are poisonous)!

Today’s Wayno / Piraro Bizarro, with an egg-themed Scrabble game, providing an excuse for the pun Scrabbled eggs, based on scrambled eggs:

(#1) Six ways of referring to eggs (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 3 in this strip — see this Page.)

At this point, I discovered that there’s a Scrabble cartoon meme, with huge numbers of cartoons using the word / board game as the setting for a variety of jokes.

Also that though Scrabble has been mentioned many times on this blog, I’d never posted anything about the game. So I’ll start with that.

Scrabble, the game. From Wikipedia:

Scrabble is a word game in which two to four players score points by placing tiles, each bearing a single letter, onto a game board divided into a 15×15 grid of squares. The tiles must form words that, in crossword fashion, read left to right in rows or downward in columns and are included in a standard dictionary or lexicon.

… History: In 1938, the American architect Alfred Mosher Butts created the game as a variation on an earlier word game he invented, called Lexiko. The two games had the same set of letter tiles, whose distributions and point values Butts worked out by performing a frequency analysis of letters from various sources, including The New York Times. The new game, which he called Criss-Crosswords, added the 15×15 gameboard and the crossword-style gameplay. He manufactured a few sets himself but was not successful in selling the game to any major game manufacturers of the day.

In 1948, James Brunot, a resident of Newtown, Connecticut, and one of the few owners of the original Criss-Crosswords game, bought the rights to manufacture the game in exchange for granting Butts a royalty on every unit sold. Although he left most of the game (including the distribution of letters) unchanged, Brunot slightly rearranged the “premium” squares of the board and simplified the rules; he also renamed the game Scrabble, a real word which means “to scratch frantically”.  In 1949, Brunot and his family made sets in a converted former schoolhouse in Dodgingtown, Connecticut, a section of Newtown. They made 2,400 sets that year but lost money. According to legend, Scrabble’s big break came in 1952 when Jack Straus, president of Macy’s, played the game on vacation. Upon returning from vacation, he was surprised to find that his store did not carry the game. He placed a large order, and within a year, “everyone had to have one”.

There would appear to be several parables of fashion and marketing in this story, plus a hymn to chance and coincidence (whose roles in social practices are often, I think, underestimated) — in this case, working to bring a well-designed game to public attention.

The Scrabble cartoon meme. Having one in hand, I searched for Scrabble cartoons, and found an enormous collection of them, with many subtypes. Here, two that especially tickled me. Both are doubly memic: Scrabble + IKEA and Scrabble + Caveman. No doubt there are instances of Scrabble + Desert Island, Scrabble + Psychiatrist, and more.

IKEA. IKEA — a pile of parts, components, ingredients, etc. representing what the Swedish emporium provides (along with drawings of the assembly procedure) when you buy one of its products — is enjoying a rich life currrently as a meme, period. When the drawing or photo of this pile comes with explanatory text, you’ve got a cartoon, with a caption, as here:

— The book I ordered from IKEA finally came.
(#2) Many versions of the meme image have simple letter tiles, but this one uses Scrabble tiles

Caveman. A cartoon of Cave Scrabble (on suitably reduced board), by Harry Bliss & Steve Martin in the 12/27/21 New Yorker:

(#3) The quiver in Og’s hand, the expression on his face: priceless


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