Popeye On Another Roller Coaster


Amusement parks are great places for cartoons. By definition an amusement park is the sort of strange, surreal place where anything might happen. And a cartoon is a way we represent the potential for reality, without losing the sense that something else might happen yet.

Popeye would go back to amusement parks several times. Surprisingly few times, I’d say, given the potential for Popeye to show off his superhuman prowess, and for the ability of an amusement park to provide any setting or prop useful. But for this week let me share Abusement Park. This was originally released to theaters the 25th of April, 1947, so it’s more nearly seasonally appropriate than King of the Mardis Gras, despite its other shortcomings.

The biggest shortcoming is that Jack Mercer doesn’t act in it. Mercer was the voice of Popeye most of the time from 1935 up to his death in 1984. But there were exceptions, such as a streak from 1945 to 1947 when he was, if I’m not mistaken, in the Army. In this cartoon Harry Foster Welch voices Popeye. Welch performed for most of 1945-to-1947. Abusement Park happens to be the last time he performed the character. His isn’t a bad voice, and he plays Popeye reasonably well, I think. It’s just hard escaping the most common performance.

The plot’s also a bit weaker than King of the Mardis Gras, I think because the earlier cartoon presents Popeye and Bluto trying to appeal to a whole audience, rather than attending just to Olive Oyl. There’s somehow a difference in trying to draw a crowd to trying to win a single woman’s attention. Also, and I admit this is a silly thing, but it has always bothered me, since childhood, that Popeye blows into a telephone and explodes a lighthouse. It’s not that I don’t think he could do it. It’s just such a jerk move. Sometimes the parts of the cartoons where Popeye shows off his strength forget that he’s also supposed to be nice.

As before the action ends on a roller coaster, an impressively gigantic one. While the action runs nicely wild — if you’re not satisfied with a battle fought in midair along a chain of elephants we just don’t have anything in common — Famous Studios doesn’t make use of the 3-D settings the Fleischer Studios did. I wonder if they even had the equipment anymore. There aren’t the wonderful and hypnotic movements along the course of the roller coaster track, where all those structural supports move in perspective. The roller coaster itself gets panning shots, or gets shunted off-camera fast enough. It doesn’t look bad, mind you. But it’s hard not to conclude the animation for this roller coaster sequence was a lot less trying than that for King of the Mardis Gras. The chipping away at budgets and animation and effort that would make 1950s Famous Studio cartoons such a chore weren’t bad yet, but they were coming.

Statistics Saturday on Labor Day: Humor Blogging In August 2014


So on to my monthly examination of whether anyone actually read my little humor blog here anytime recently. The good news is people seem to have: WordPress’s statistics in fact say I had my greatest number yet of unique visitors this past month, 369 of them, up from July’s then-record of 332. The total number of page views declined very slightly, to 682 from July’s record 704, and this suggests the number of views per visitor collapsed very modestly from 2.12 down to 1.85, but I’m comfortable with that. I reached viewer number 7,864 by the end of the month, and 7,865 just after the start of the next.

I had a nice, broad-based popularity this past month, with a remarkable-to-me 27 posts getting ten or more views, so it isn’t like people just find the one, probably Turbo-based, page and ignore the rest of what I have to write. That’s comforting. August 2014’s most popular posts around here were apparently:

From all the nations of the world the United States sent me the most readers in August (514). The United Kingdom nearly doubled its readership (57, up from 32), and Australia came in at 30 which is again some kind of increase though I admit I don’t know how many. And Spain popped in with ten readers which I didn’t see coming. A single reader each came from Germany, Moldova, Qatar, Sweden, and Uruguay. Germany was the only single-reader country last month. India, which went from one reader in May and June, to three in July, was up to six in August. This is a pretty good trend, though I’m still doing rather better per-capita in Singapore (three).

And, so, what search terms bring people around here? It hasn’t been the kind of month to inspire much poetry but among the search terms have een:

  • robert benchley
  • koko clown end of world
  • turbo the film facts kids (also) what was an interesting fact about turbo the movie
  • 2038 dave barry
  • joan randall barefoot captain future

I don’t understand that last one either.

Statistics Saturday for a Monday: July 2014 on This Humor Blog


And now to return to the very funny question of how well-read I was in the month of July. The answer is very well indeed: I had my most popular month on record according to WordPress. My total number of page views climbed from June’s 495 to fully 704, the highest on record, and the number of unique viewers rose from 181 to a just plain enormous for me 332. I’m stunned. There’s three months since I started the humor blog that didn’t have 332 views total, never mind unique viewers. (The views-per-visitor dropped from 2.73 to 2.12, but that’s still respectable, suggesting most folks who stop in find at least something else worth reading.) By the end of July I’d gotten a total of 7,187 pages read.

The countries sending me the most readers the past month were the United States (562), Australia (34), the United Kingdom (32), and Canada (20). I got only a single reader each from Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Indonesia, Kuwait, Mexico, Oman, the Philippines. Indonesia and the Philippines were single-reader countries last month too. And India, which I worried about for sending me just one reader in May and June, found three people who could find me not perfectly repellant in the past thirty days. That’s not so good on a per capita basis as Portugal (two readers), but, really, it’s an honor just to be nominated.

The five most popular postings this past month were:

  1. Questions Inspired By Great Science Fiction Covers of the Past, which involves a lot of Lyndon Johnson.
  2. From The Technology Centers That Brought You Towels, about a patent pending notice I saw.
  3. Five Astounding Facts About Turbo, That Movie About A Snail in The Indianapolis 500, always liked.
  4. Statistics Saturday: My Reactions To Everything After It’s Been Read, letting you know how much I like being liked, or not being liked, as the case may be.
  5. Theme Park Flashing from the Dream World, my subconscious giving out advice again.

I should say, though, there’s 21 different posts which got at least ten viewers the past month, which I believe is a high but I didn’t track that before. This is just something else I can start neurotically following, isn’t it?

Some popular search terms bringing people here include:

  • “ron|russell mael”
  • charles boyce compu-toon
  • captain future block that kick
  • mark twain a medieval romance
  • can a snail race in the indy 500 (people have got to be looking this up as a lark)
  • transdimensional dream other worlds
  • melies films with spider

Frankenstein 1910


I’ve had something of a running theme of humorous movies running on the Friday night/Saturday morning entries around here and I was casting about for one for this week, and got diverted. This isn’t a funny movie, but, it captured my attention and my interest and this is my blog so I’ll post to it anyway.

Over on Movies, Silently, a blog dedicated to silent films, they’ve posed the 1910 Edison production of Frankenstein, which was thought to be lost forever. It’s a fascinating production, partly because of its age, partly because it shows a filmed Frankenstein that stands independent of the Boris Karloff version. The Creature doesn’t look like Karloff’s, nor like something designed to not be Karloff’s.

It’s also got two particularly interesting scenes in its twelve-minute runtime. One is impressive just on its technical prowess: the forming of the Creature is done in a visually striking way that I think would still be effective in a modern production, even if the audience would more quickly recognize the trick. The other is more one of framing: the Creature intrudes on Frankenstein in his lounge, and is first seen opening and entering in a mirror on the right of the screen. The Creature then appears on-screen from the left, which is surprisingly unsettling, and so effective. I’m surprised that staging hasn’t been used more.

Here Are Some Numbers (June 2013)


I’m told statistics are all the rage among bloggers, because this way they can put in numbers where text might go, and that makes everything better. So, here goes.

According to WordPress this little humor blog got 441 views in June, the most it’s managed since it began at the start of February. It also had 227 unique visitors, again the most since it started. Also apparently 214 pages were just looked at by themselves, or maybe each other, to account for the gap there. Or I’m being viewed by people in other dimensions, which would be kind of flattering considering all the dimensions they have to look at.

My top five most popular posts for the past 30 days have been:

  1. Science Fiction versus Fantasy Explained, which I kind of expected might be popular.
  2. What Father’s Day Card-Shopping Taught Me, which is surprisingly just a little less popular.
  3. Jokes You Can’t Play Anymore, which I didn’t expect anyone would notice.
  4. S J Perlman’s “Captain Future, Block That Kick!” which is one of the great pieces of one of the century’s master humorists.
  5. What Skeuomorphism Means To Me (it doesn’t), which I also kind of expected to be popular what with it making fun of Apple and all that.

My top “recent” commenters have been Corvidae in the Fields (by far), then Chiaroscuro (following), BunnyHugger, Jim, Alyssa, and pouringmyartout.

In June, the countries which sent the most visitors to me were the United States (336), Canada (20), and Brazil (8). The countries that sent only one visitor my way included Poland, the Czech Republic, the United Republic of Tanzania, Bulgaria, Spain, Iraq, Moldova, Ireland, Sweden, Trinidad and Tobago, Peru, the United Arab Emirates, Portugal, Denmark, and Italy. I have not been to any of those nations. My parents honeymooned in Spain.

Publicity Break


If I may have a moment from finding that every possible WordPress theme is almost but not quite satisfying to my eye — in fact, each just manages to have something that turns an otherwise decent-looking appearance into unpleasantness, like finding a tolerable-looking pair of shoes, only they’re an awful color, and there’s a pebble in them, and they’re made of antimatter so when you try setting them on there’s a terrible explosion, and the laces broke anyway — there’s a couple of links I ought to share in the interest of publicizing, er, me.

The most important are the links for Oh, Sandy: An Anthology Of Humor For A Serious Purpose, edited by Lynn Beighley, Peter Barlow, Andrea Donio, and A J Fader. This is a collection of short essays written after the need to do something useful after the Superstorm. I have an essay in there about my strange feelings from watching a catastrophe strike home and not being able to quite find out what was happening, or to do anything even if I did. It’s available also through CreateSpace.

Less portently, a Paper.li “newspaper” titled The Lighter Side Of Life Part 2 aggregated one of my daily short entries for its edition of the 31st of March. I’m flattered and mystified by how that one made the cut. They have a daily collection of things and there’s a fair chance that you’ll find something else there that’s amusing.

‘Oh, Sandy!’ now on sale


Some splendid news! The anthology, Oh Sandy: An Anthology Of Humor For A Serious Purpose, has come out. For just now it’s in Kindle e-book version only and the editor, Lynn Beighley, is working on some formatting issues so it’s getting a little bit fixed again. But it’s also to appear in print through CreateSpace which I admit I haven’t heard of before. The print versions are supposed to be available through Amazon and Amazon Europe in around a week. Proceeds are to go to organizations aiding victims of Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy. And I have a slice, a couple hundred words, out of the total collection.

The editor has talked about the need to promote it, which is something new to me. While I’ve coauthored two books before they were academic books, for which promotion just isn’t done because you really, really can’t sell someone an $80 book about statistical mechanics treatments of inviscid fluid flow. University libraries might buy it, but I’ve never been in one which had it. I’m skeptical there’d be much interest in readings about the book from my base in Michigan, but perhaps something might be worked up while I was back east for something. The editor also mentioned podcasts, which are a form of audio communication that it seems like I ought to be interested in, except I’ve just never got the hang of listening to them. I’m sure that my voice, combining as it does soft tones and a mushy, indescribable accent (“You don’t sound like you’re from … anywhere”), would be perfectly suited to MP3 formatting.

Comic Strips I Like: Unstrange Phenomena


I like comic strips, a lot, and thought I’d talk about one of them. That’s Ed Allison’s Unstrange Phenomena, presently running at Gocomics.com. The strip is updated weekdays. I’ve always been partial to both simple absurdity, such as today’s Grand Whiffle Dam project, and to the mock explanation which gets the rhythms of imparting knowledge while being nonsense down. So this strip sates several of my tastes regularly.