Comic Strips I Like: Krazy Kat

George Herriman's _Krazy Kat_ for 13 March 1936: Ignatz takes the road.

Since I haven’t done this in a while, let me share one of George Herriman’s Krazy Kat comic strips. This one originally ran on the 13th of March, 1936, and was rerun on just a couple days ago. This seems to be a bit of a mistake as in the 2014 Theme I’m currently using the strip is squeezed down too compactly, but if you click on the comic it should take you to a page showing the comic much wider. I’ll see what I can do about getting the comic less cramped.

I think this is a particularly nice strip since it’s quite Herriman-esque yet not so cryptic as the strip can get. Indeed, you don’t even need to know anything about the comic to understand it. If you redrew it to modern newspaper comic standards (the art is a little cramped, not to mention inky, for what people are used to reading these days) you could run it today without it seeming particularly dated. It’s also got a subtle bit of fourth-wall breaking as Ignatz takes the road by snipping it out of the newspaper; that kind of gag often tries to command more attention and to have it underplayed is another pleasant bit.


In Our Defense

The Internet problem was just one of the wires had come loose? What the heck kind of problem is that? Of course we didn’t try unplugging and replugging them ourselves. Unplugging the wires is the thing you do because there’s nothing to be done and you’re just going through the motions out of the existential despair of tech support. Why should we even try the plug before making cranky calls to get our service fixed? Who thinks like that?

On the bright side, another technician came around and got to see that our pet rabbit is quite large, and to admire his large-ness, and so our pet rabbit is going to be all proud of himself all day, even though (don’t tell him) he’s not actually that big for his breed. But I always love the moment the technician stops in his tracks and realizes that is a big bunny rabbit.

Out Of The Inkwell: The Tantalizing Fly

For today’s piece I offer the Max and Dave Fleischer cartoon The Tantalizing Fly, a quite short (under four minutes!) bit from 1919 that includes the cartoonists’ typical sort of free-flowing strangeness and wonderfully mutable world, in which both Max Fleischer and his cartoon Koko the Clown can’t get to whatever they meant to do today as there’s a fly which won’t stop bothering them. It’s funny, yes; it’s also impressive to see that it’s done, since so much of it involves interactions between cartoon Koko and a real-looking fly. The cartoon also gets a bit recursive as Koko grabs hold of the pen and starts drawing on his own … well, it’s easier to see than to read about. Do enjoy, I hope.

A Targeted Warning From The Dream World

According to my subconscious apparently this is an important problem, so, let me put the advice out for anyone who finds themselves in this situation:

If you ever find yourself with my father in the parking lot of Target, and we’re working out just which of the bottles of salad dressing in that little cubby-hole we used to use for storing compact discs back before everyone got over compact discs still have any salad dressing to speak of in there, and he goes in to buy new salad dressings, and you go around back to the trunk and discover the milk in his Toyota Something Or Other is not spoiled after all, despite how hot a day it’s been, plus there’s like a third of a bottle of light vinaigrette left and you need to rush in to warn my father about this, then, remember to put on some pants and a shirt. Even if you’re just rushing in through the pharmacy door to get word to him, people are going to pay more attention to your running through Target in your underpants with a carton of unspoiled milk than they are going to notice that the speaker system is playing songs from Sparks’s 1974 album Kimono My House.

I just hope we can all take a valuable lesson from this, and that is, to not put the vinaigrette in that weird cubby-hole underneath the stereo where nobody knows what’s supposed to go in but it accumulates old papers and unneeded receipts anyway, because it’ll spill all over the papers you don’t need.

Percentages of Things Ruined by its Fans

For Statistics Saturday (really Sunday) I’d like to offer a useful little guide regarding things to be fannish of.

Thing Percent Ruined
Monty Python 73
Star Trek 78 or 79, whatever
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic 60
Football 22.5
The United States of America 37.5
Flowers 8
Typography Conventions 50
Firefly 84
Saying It’s “Sinister” Whenever Someone Mentions Left-Handedness 98
Dvorak Keyboards 22
Douglas Adams 45
Silver-Age Comic Books 38

Alternating Life

I’d figured it would be useful, as these things go, to figure out some way of breaking down the different stages in a person’s life, since those are popular articles in the web that I see in my mind. So far the only one I’ve been able to identify is, there’s this stage in your life when every car you have to deal with needs its alternator replaced, like, every nine weeks. And that’s a hassle but the mechanic is able to get you a refurbished alternator that’s only like $150 instead of the $400 a new one would be and it’ll be just as good, although it still wipes out your attempts to have savings anyway. Still, at some point, if you’re lucky, you start living in circles with cars that don’t need the alternator replaced, possibly because cars stop having them or something, and you only dimly remember there was a time when you could count on the month being spoiled by the alternator.

So that’s a stage of life and I hope you’re out of it. If you haven’t got to it yet, well, start an alternator savings account. I think cars believe alternators are some kind of hard candy they lick to nothing over the course of a couple months. Good luck.

What Do Angels Do All Day?

So, what do angels do all day? I wasn’t particularly looking for trouble when I started thinking about this, and I can’t really say I’ve found any trouble, but it has been one of those little things that’s nagged at me for literally minutes and who knows when it’ll end.

I mean, I know, kind of, that angels are busy being in perfect communion with God, and I guess that’s great for them. I suppose that of all the people you’d want to be in perfect communion with, God is right up near the top of the list, well ahead of the guy who draws xkcd or that Firefly person other people on the Internet get all tense about. And I’m sure they’re happy about it, because of perfection and all that and plus, if they weren’t happy, God would know about it right away and could fix that before they even knew they were unhappy. That sounds a little creepy if I lay it out like that, but I have to suppose that God would try to play up the non-creepy side of that, and succeed, if God’s making any kind of effort at it. Also I suppose that if angels are there outside the mortal realm the whole idea of days or even time get pretty vague, but, it seems like being isn’t the same thing as doing. Given that they exist, I mean, what do they exist to do?

Pop culture, as ever, offers suggestions, most of them stupid. If I follow the twee movie industry right, angels can keep themselves fairly busy by coming into the mortal realm and guiding schlubby people into successful romances, possibly with the angels themselves, possibly with some faintly attractive person who has some properties such as existing and being played by the third-billed actor. Some work on teaching mortals to cherish what they have, which I guess is also nice enough. I suppose there’s a couple who have to explain why they can’t get the mortals Peter Falk’s autograph. (He’s getting coffee.)

It used to be different. Going back to the Like 1940s Or Something, angels got to work in vast bureaucratic organizations, becoming parts of the classic Men in the Grey Flannel Halo sort of lifestyle. They’d have titles and ranks and run off to take care of people whom review meetings have found are succumbing to life-threatening despair, or are maybe dying by accident way sooner than they ought to be, or maybe are just driving uncommonly poorly while in New Jersey, or not decorating their homes with enough telephones, or maybe they’re just trying to figure out the right way to bring the world to an end. Some of them might get into hijinks like putting that new-fangled Swing music on trial and deciding to acquit it on the grounds that they can kind of hear how there’s licks from Mozart slipped into it, plus, the people in the movie theaters watching this short really like Swing so they better not disapprove too much.

The angels in these presentations all clearly have stuff to do all day, and they seem to be pretty happy with an existence of staff meetings and interdepartmental communications. They seem to be happier staff meetings than I’ve ever been to, I guess because instead of having walls and PowerPoint demonstrations they have clouds and sunsets and the implication that someone who acts up might lose his cloud-seating privileges, which would be pretty exciting. They don’t have doughnuts, but maybe part of being in perfect communion with God is that you don’t even care about jelly doughnuts while you’re trying to remember exactly which planet Earth is, again. Come to it, worrying about things like Swing music when you aren’t sure about what planet Earth is seems kind of like busy-work. Maybe that’s what was going on in the mid-century like that, and the angels took to bureaucracy because they needed something exciting to do. I bet when they discovered PERT charts they were on cloud nine, if they could be said to exist anywhere.

What I take away from all this is that I believe I’m somehow turning into a precocious yet annoying seven-year-old.

A Fool He

The link sits there, mocking me.

Is Clickbait destroying the usable Internet?

I want to know, but I know, they only write it that way because they know they can make me jump to their silly little tune.

I could curse my eyes and rush forward into it, but that sounds like something an ancient Greek philosopher might do along the way to decrying his appetites.

And yet … who wouldn’t want to know?

I watch the page, which never changes, and see nothing of the rest of the Internet for the day.

Is this how it destroys the usable Internet?

I won’t know until I click, will I?

Oh, Weather, No

It’s been a long winter. By my estimate it’s been about fourteen months long at this point, and it’s not looking to be better soon. I’ve been trying to pretend I just need to keep up a good attitude about this, but my best source of forced optimism about the state of things — — is starting to crumble under the pressure. It’s gone from proclaiming “wow chilly” and “such winter” and “very below freezing point” to “such brrr” and then “so dismal” — and that isn’t even a joke, I really got that last night — to “ugh” and “why me” and “merciful heavens” and finally it’s started redirecting me to Grumpy Cat Weather.

Koko the Clown: Koko Bubbles

Today I’d like to offer a cartoon, the Max and Dave Fleischer short Koko Bubbles. This is one of the Out of the Inkwell series of cartoons, dating from 1922, and it shows a lot of what’s fascinating and weird about the cartoons of that era. For one I’ll never stop being amazed by the blend of live-action and animated footage, even if it is really obvious how it was done to our modern eyes; but that this is ninety years old just makes it more impressive.

The story is loose, by classic standards of cartoons; it’s hard not to think that in the day they wrote the cartoons just by throwing every joke they could think of on the pile and cutting whenever it was too long. Also, the Fleischers were (rightly) proud of their technical prowess, such as the rotoscoping that makes a lot of Koko’s bigger movements uncannily natural, and would show off what they could do even if it didn’t quite fit a storyline; and, it was at least a common convention to have the lead animator be seen. This time around at least he has some particular role besides starting and stopping the action.

This stream-of-consciousness plotting does make it more familiar, I suppose, to people who like the dadaist cartoons often aimed at young adults. It’s got some narrative thrust, though, in the form of this bubble-blowing contest between animator Max Fleischer and the cartoon Koko, and that’s enough to excuse the clown having his head pop or getting chased by a rampaging bubble monster or the like.

And, the comics

Over on my mathematics blog there’ve been another set of mathematics-themed comics, which gave me the chance to talk for like 1,800 words about things they mention, which is pretty impressive considering it’s mostly about π and some name-dropping.

If you’re not interested in all that, I’m hurt. Really. I thought we were friends. But, anyway, the mock history of comic strip Working Daze has reached the point where it’s folding into its actual history, so they describe less death and doom for its cartoonists, and do show some of what the strip looked like before the current artist and writing team got together. I have to imagine the series ends next week, unless they want to do a future-history projection. This isn’t necessarily absurd, as the indefatigable writers do write produce the comic strip Zachary Nixon Johnson, based on their series of comic/science fiction/mystery novels.

Another View Of The United States

Based on the graphics I see passed around the friends of my Twitter feed, it’s really popular to make maps that equate states of the United States (America) to nations of the world, in terms of population, or gross domestic product, or area, or what have you. And since lists of statistics are unmistakably the most popular thing I write around here, let me get in on the action. For your convenience, here’s a list of the fifty certified United States matched up with one of the world’s nations that has just as many letters in the name.

United State Matches Nation
Alabama Uruguay
Alaska Belize
Arizona Burundi
Arkansas Kiribati
California Kyrgyzstan
Colorado Malaysia
Connecticut Cook Islands
Delaware Dominica
Florida Lebanon
Georgia Georgia
Hawaii Latvia
Idaho Japan
Illinois Mongolia
Indiana Romania
Iowa Peru
Kansas Mexico
Kentucky Portugal
Louisiana Nicaragua
Maine Qatar
Maryland Slovenia
Massachusetts Cayman Islands
Michigan Paraguay
Minnesota Venezuela
Mississippi Philippines
Missouri Slovakia
Montana Tunisia
Nebraska Barbados
Nevada Greece
New Hampshire Turkmenistan
New Jersey Singapore
New Mexico Argentina
New York Estonia
North Carolina United Kingdom
North Dakota Sierra Leone
Ohio Mali
Oklahoma Honduras
Oregon Jordan
Pennsylvania United States
Rhode Island Saint Helena
South Carolina Virgin Islands
South Dakota Switzerland
Tennessee Macedonia
Texas Haiti
Utah Oman
Vermont Nigeria
Virginia Djibouti
Washington Bangladesh
West Virginia Guinea-Bissau
Wisconsin Lithuania
Wyoming Jamaica

I just hope that someone finds this list and discovers how very much time it saves having it on hand.

Oh, I should have made this a picture, shouldn’t I? Too bad.

My January 2014 Popularity Contest

Since it’s a new month and all that, let me look back at how successful it was in terms of being read. According to WordPress for January 2014, I had 337 views — up from 301 in December 2013 — but only 153 unique visitors — down from 168 — which has this silver lining: the number of pages each visitor looked at, on average, rose from 1.79 to 2.20. That’s heartening, because I like to think they’re not just reading the spaces and the paragraph breaks, as there’s not enough of that to be a fifth of a page. There’ve ben only two months where I had a higher views-per-visitor ratio, and this puts me even with February 2013, when I started, which is about what I should have expected.

Anyway, the most popular articles of the past thirty days haven’t included any of the silent movies or S J Perelman bits, which is a bit heartening. The top of them — there was a four-way tie for fourth place — comes to:

  1. Poising For Success, for which I might have accidentally optimized my search engineness.
  2. Giving The People What They Want, my yielding to the fact that Kinks allusions and lists of countries are well-liked, and you all thought I was kidding.
  3. I Dance Horribly, a confession.
  4. Unbeknownst, about a word I thought had fallen out of use, and which hasn’t, and boy do people like reading about that fact.
  5. Why It Is Known As Frontier Airlines, which is probably popular because I was venting my frustration at the airline.
  6. The Mysteries Of Modern Recording, about trying to figure out how this weird Hanna-Barbera record could have existed.
  7. Statistics Saturday, again, giving in to how lists of stuff are popular and see if they’re not.

The countries sending me the most readers this time around were the United States (261), Canada (19), and the United Kingdom (11). There were only five countries sending me a lone reader: Chile, Indonesia, Malaysia, Morocco, and the United Arab Emirates. None of them were on the roster of single-visitor countries last time, so I’m working my way through the world, eventually. I should get souvenirs.

It didn’t make the monthly top roster, but for a short while this week How I Started Consulting was one of the top-articles-of-the-last-day (or however it is they judge the things on the sidebar there), and I looked at it and realized I had forgotten it entirely and was pretty amused by the thing, so let me throw that in as something I liked and maybe you will too if you haven’t seen it already.

Newton’s Prank

I’ll bet that if you have a mental image of Isaac Newton at all, it’s a pretty stern one: a guy forced to wear gentlemanly outfits of the late 17th century with that huge powdered wig that seems to be sarcasm, staring out with an expression that says “shut up, you idiot, I already know everything you could possibly say, and it’s all idiotic”, only written like they did back before anyone decided spelling words kind of the same-ish way most of the time. You don’t think of him as having a humorous side at all, or even cracking a smile. At best you’d think his only entertainment was judging other people to be far beneath him, but that’s one of those cases where history is overblowing his reputation. Why, once time, as Member of Parliament representing Cambridge at the Convention Parliament in 1689, which decided King James II had left the throne of England without pointing out how he left because of all those people pointing pointy spears at him, Newton once piped up to say that it was a little drafty and could you please close the window, you insufferable dunce.

But there’s more to him than that. Why, according to this book that got quoted in some other book that I actually read, Newton at least once played a really grand practical joke. And yeah, I know, you can put anything you want in one book, but I read in a totally different book about the same thing happening, without even quoting that first book, so this has got to be legitimate. While a student at the Grantham Grammar School in the 1650s, “he first made lanterns of paper crimpled, which used to go to school by, in winter mornings, with a candle, and tied them to the tails of the kites in a dark night, which at first affrighted the country people by thinking they were comets”, and if all that isn’t remarkable enough consider that my spell-checker has no objection to “affrighted” but doesn’t think “crimpled” is a word.

Apparently, his little stunt of faking a comet was very convincing in making other people think they were seeing comets, which got the folks around Grantham to wonder what calamity the comets were foretelling. I hope they’re not still waiting for the disaster, come to think of it. Probably they’re not; 350 years is a while to wait for the end of the world to be set off by a fake comet hung from a kite, but, get an idea in some people’s minds and it won’t get back out again either. Anyway, his getting people to see portents of doom is a really good response to a practical joke. The most response I ever get from a prank is some resigned sighing and people looking at their watches to see if they’ve acknowledged my existence enough and can now move on. I just bet Newton never had to deal with people rolling their eyes and smacking their lips while waiting for me to finish being amused by myself, but to be fair, he was the one with that whole idea of faking a comet with some kites and some paper crimpled. Also inventing physics. That’s pretty impressive too.

But if Newton was willing to play this one prank, one time, when he was a kid, obviously, he must’ve played a whole bunch of other pranks throughout his life. What other ones might there have been? I guess the obvious things he might have done were to spread rumors about how Wilhelm Leibniz plagiarized his recipe for Apple Moon Pie (“takke your Appells toe a most vy. grt. height above yr Moone Pie, and droppe them on the Moone Pie untill it being the Pie is affrightingly crimpled”), impose a confusing infinitesimals-based notation on calculus, or call Robert Hooke over to set his drinks on Hooke’s head. But I guess it’s more respectable that Newton might have played practical jokes that require some real props and lighting effects and such; think how you’d feel if you learned Newton was fond of Mad Libs or of telling lesser scientists “I got your nose, you pathetic ignoramus”. It takes imagination to make a comet, a lesson taken to heart by Newton’s I-guess-you-can-kind-of-call-him-a-friend Edmond Halley.

Robert Benchley: Mid-Winter Sports

[ In this piece, taken from Love Conquers All, Robert Benchley writes of a problem largely in our past: the way there just isn’t sports news available this time of year. It’s a bit of an adjustment to think that there was a time not so far gone when there wasn’t sporting news worthy of the name for several months of the year. ]

These are melancholy days for the newspaper sporting-writers. The complaints are all in from old grads of Miami who feel that there weren’t enough Miami men on the All-American football team, and it is too early to begin writing about the baseball training camps. Once in a while some lady swimmer goes around a tank three hundred times, or the holder of the Class B squash championship “meets all-comers in court tilt,” but aside from that, the sporting world is buried with the nuts for the winter.

Since sporting-writers must live, why not introduce a few items of general interest into their columns, accounts of the numerous contests of speed and endurance which take place during the winter months in the homes of our citizenry? For instance:

The nightly races between Mr. and Mrs. Theodore M. Twamly, to see who can get into bed first, leaving the opening of the windows and putting out of the light for the loser, was won last night for the first time this winter by Mr. Twamly. Strategy entered largely into the victory, Mr. Twamly getting into bed with most of his clothes on.

An interesting exhibition of endurance was given by Martin W. Lasbert at his home last evening when he covered the distance between the cold-water tap in his bath-room to the bedside of his young daughter, Mertice, eighteen times in three hours, this being the number of her demands for water to drink. When interviewed after the eighteenth lap, Mr. Lasbert said: “I wouldn’t do it another time, not if the child were parching.” Shortly after that he made his nineteenth trip.

As was exclusively predicted in these columns yesterday and in accordance with all the dope, Chester H. Flerlie suffered his sixtieth consecutive defeat last evening at the hands of the American Radiator Company, the builders of his furnace. With all respect for Mr. Flerlie’s pluck in attempting, night after night, to dislodge clinkers caught in the grate, it must be admitted, even by his host of friends, that he might much better be engaged in some gainful occupation. The grate tackled by the doughty challenger last night was one of the fine-tooth comb variety (the “Non-Sifto” No. 114863), in which the clinker is caught by a patent clutch and held securely until the wrecking-crew arrives. At the end of the bout Mr. Flerlie was led away to his dressing room, suffering from lacerated hands and internal injuries. “I’m through,” was his only comment.

This morning’s winners in the Lymedale commuters’ contest for seats on the shady side of the car on the 8:28 were L.Y. Irman, Sydney M. Gissith, John F. Nothman and Louis Leque. All the other seats were won by commuters from Loose Valley, the next station above Lymedale. In trying to scramble up the car-steps in advance of lady passengers, Merton Steef had his right shin badly skinned and hit his jaw on the bottom step. Time was not called while his injuries were being looked after.

Before an enthusiastic and notable gathering, young Lester J. Dimmik, age three, put to rout his younger brother, Carl Withney Dimmik, Jr., age two, in their matutinal contest to see which can dispose of his Wheatena first. In the early stages of the match, it began to look as if the bantamweight would win in a walk, owing to his trick of throwing spoonfuls of the breakfast food over his shoulder and under the tray of his high-chair. The referees soon put a stop to this, however, and specified that the Wheatena must be placed in the mouth. This cramped Dimmick Junior’s form and it soon became impossible for him to locate his mouth at all. At this point, young Lester took the lead, which he maintained until he crossed the line an easy winner. As a reward he was relieved of the necessity of eating another dish of Wheatena.

Stephen L. Agnew was the lucky guest in the home of Orrin F. McNeal this week-end, beating out Lee Stable for first chance at the bath-tub on Sunday morning. Both contestants came out of their bed rooms at the same time, but Agnew’s room being nearer the bath-room, he made the distance down the hall in two seconds quicker time than his somewhat heavier opponent, and was further aided by the breaks of the game when Stable dropped his sponge half-way down the straightaway. Agnew’s time in the bath-room was 1 hr. and 25 minutes.

CW Music

Almost none of you have heard me sing, and that’s a good thing. While I’m tolerably able to follow along most of the generally accepted words of a song if they’re written out for me ahead of time and can begin and end such words at approximately the right times, I have pretty much the same control over my pitch that a coal-fired locomotive engine has over its position. My voice will pick a note that’s the designated note for the song, even if it doesn’t appear anywhere in the actual song or possibly in all of recorded Western Civilization-informed music including those horrible atonal experiments made by pressing Moog synthesizers under piles of stones until they confessed to witchcraft. It might vary a little around that note as the song moves through its normal melody, but it won’t get more than maybe two-thirds of the way to the flat version of whatever note I started from.

So what I do instead is to hum along to a song, which besides meaning I don’t have to actually get the words right, means I don’t have to go to the trouble of opening my mouth any. But I have the same thing where I have one designated note for each song, and stick to that. What comes out is a tolerably timed “Hmm HMMM hm HMM Hmmm, Hmm HMMM hm HMMMMM, Hmmm Hm-mmm-MMM-MMMMM hmm HMMMMM-hmm-HMMMMmmmMMMM” [*]. It’s quite the monotone spectacle.

Anyway, all this is a way of saying I was stunned to get a special musical achievement award from the American Radio Relay League, the people who bring you ham radio, for my work in translating music into Morse Code. I’m flattered and I’d like to thank everyone who had a part in letting me achieve this, as soon as I think who that could really be.

[*] Original lyrics by Sparks, 1975.

Keeping Busy

I know you’ve been busy. I’ve been busy. We’ve all been busy. The major pastime people have anymore is being too busy to do whatever it is they meant to do. But the question is what are you busy doing? Because there’s different classes of busy. If you’ve been busy because for some reason you had to bake a million billion kerjillion cupcakes that’s one thing. If you’ve been busy because you’ve had to run around to every corner of the known universe patching up cracks in the spacetime continuum threatening to destroy all creation that’s another. And if it is the latter, then I have to kind of gently ask if you’re really positive that you’ve got every single one of those cracks filled in, because while I’d like you to have some time to unwind I’m also pretty fond of all creation, even the parts that include bubbling pools of organic goo that are near pieces of rusting machinery I have to deal with for some reason, and not having all that destroyed is pretty important to me too. So, please, just evaluate a little what kind of busy it is you’ve been.

Charley Chase: Love, Loot and Crash

I’d like to put up another silent comedy for you today. From April 1915 here’s Love, Loot and Crash, starring Charley Chase as Harold, the suitor, and Josef Swickard as Peter Cushing’s Alternate Doctor Who. The short was one of Mack Sennett’s last Keystone pictures before he switched from Mutual to Triangle pictures for distribution, which is valuable information for you fans of motion picture distributors of the mid-1910s. It’s also got a lot of the essential elements of a Mack Sennett comedy: befuddled homeowners, appealing if slightly bland suitors, bumbling cops getting locked in the basement, ditch diggers having motorcycles jump over them, fruit vendors getting their wagons smashed, burglars dressing as servants, elopement, driverless cars running in loops on a pier, all that. The easily embedded YouTube version starts with a commercial, I’m afraid, but the one I can’t make easy to just show on WordPress.

A pre-fame Harold Lloyd has a small part in the picture. If you don’t look up what character he plays, you can use this as a test of the principle of Clark Kent’s disguise: his character isn’t wearing the glasses that Lloyd would become famous for.

Statistics Saturday

The figures don’t lie, so, let me do another statistics post. Here, the good reasons for something versus the number of bad reasons:

Thing Good Reasons For Bad Reasons For
There Being 360 Degrees In A Circle 6 4
Discount Mattress Sales 5 3
Cement Repair Kits 12 9 [*]
Gerunds 3 8
Indoor Leagues 2 0
Needlessly Complicated Rock Operas 18 [*] 3
Parades 9 4
Ironic Dentistry 2 3
Search Engine Terms 4 2
Silicon Dioxide [*] 42 2.2
In-Jokes 2 6

[*] Not counting the obvious.

Oh, wait, by the Official WordPress Publication Date this is Sunday. Well, now I just look foolish.


I’m starting from the premise that you just can’t say “unbeknownst” anymore, not without sounding at least a little arch and like you’re making fun of the people who use words like “unbeknownst” without meaning to sound a little arch and like they’re making fun of (I’m sorry, I have to call this sentence off because of the recursion error). Anyway, if you’re not willing to give me that premise we’re just not going to get anywhere.

The thing is that “unbeknownst” was a perfectly good word, usable for all sorts of conditions when the beknownsting of things was aptly described as un-, and now it isn’t. At some point the comical uses of the word so overwhelmed the serious uses that the word had to be given up as part of the usable non-humorous vocabulary.

So that means there’s someone out there who was the last person to use “unbeknownst” without meaning it archly, and without expecting the audience to hear it a little archly, and given that arch uses of the word had to be on the rise then I wonder: was this last-serious-use of the word something the writer knew was going on, or was it unbeknownst to her? But if it was beknownst to her, doesn’t that keep it from being a legitimate use? Even a little bitty bit? Or did she refuse to think about that lest she lose the spot of last-legitimate-user to whoever used it just before she did?

To sum up, worrying about this nonsense is why I got like two hours of sleep last night.