The Stan Freberg Show: the fourteenth show, with all the timely jokes


This episode, next to the last in the series’ run, originally aired the 13th of October, 1957. That is, not quite ten days after Sputnik launched, which would give the premise for an unusually timely sketch. It’s also got a reference to the Brooklyn Dodgers moving. There was another reference to the Dodgers moving last week. The move had been officially announced the 8th of October, although baseball had approved the move in April, and the Dodgers had played some “home” games in New Jersey in 1956 and 1957.

And here’s the rundown:

Start Time Sketch
00:00 Open. The show is billed as “brought to you by Stan Freberg”.
00:58 Opening Comments. Stan Freberg promises advertisers frightened by last week’s sketch that there’s almost no werewolves in advertising. He tells Daws Butler he paid $100 to sponsor today’s show.
02:32 Commercial for Stan Freberg. The jingles are surely parodies of specific ads, although I don’t know what for. Little lines like “the all-American dog” and such suggest dog food, car, and drain cleaner. It’s hard not to wonder if Freberg was letting advertisers know, hey, he had some free time and a good comic sensibility ready for advertising by doing so many ads for himself.
03:50 Miss Jupiter returns. She’s back from the third episode. Includes a stray reference to the International Geophysical Year, which ran from July 1957 through December 1958. She’s “returning your basketball”, Sputnik. This has to be among the first comedy sketches recorded about the event. There’s a reference to “red tape at the Pentagon”, which has got to be alluding to the idea that the United States space effort was too bureaucratized to work swiftly. I’ll go on about this below. Miss Jupiter’s computer goes into action, delivering a fortune cookie from her ear that’s surprisingly explicit about the Space Race being a game.
08:53 Peggy Taylor sings “Love is Mine”.
11:38 Freberg goes to World Advertising. Meeting with advertising executives is a big, weird muddle of daft business-creative types and baffling metaphors, which is a standard take but offers nice goofiness. World Advertising claims to represent nations, and showcases an advertisement for America that’s a takeoff on Lucky Strikes tobacco, which is a nicely wicked joke the more you think about it. Another reference to moving the Dodgers. The commercial also ends with “Can It Be The Breeze”, which closed The Jack Benny Show when he was sponsored by Lucky Strikes (reruns of which ran right before Stan Freberg’s show). There’s a reference to Freberg having a hole in his shoe, making him more homely and “a cinch to win”; Freberg asks if he’s heard from Adlai Stevenson. There was a moment in the 1952 campaign when reporters noticed a hole in Stevenson’s shoe, and he riffed “better a hole in the shoe than a hole in the head”. “You’ll wonder where the Freberg went” riffs on a Pepsodent jingle still current when I was a kid in the 70s.
18:00 Sam Spilayed Mystery. Freberg tries to do a radio mystery. It’s nailed the over-expository yet mournful tone of shows like Pat Novak for Hire. Some nonsense about pronouncing “bracelet” wrong along with the over-written metaphors and impossibly complicated exposition and the sound effects either wrong or mis-timed. You can see the Firesign Theatre’s Nick Danger in formation already. And then at 20:45 a commercial interlude for Instant Freberg. At 22:45 he goes into his own commercial, one where he beats up someone who doens’t like the show, and then back into the main plot. There’s multiple references to stuff from earlier this episode. There’s also a reference to “Little Orphan Annie at an Aquacade” which I believe references one of the comic strip discussion panels in past episodes. The femme fatale being named “Yours truly, Jenny Dollar-ninety-eight” is a reference to Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar. That mystery show’s gimmick was that Dollar was an insurance investigator and the episodes were framed as his expense reports, itemizing costs and what they were for, so the close of each episode was a summary and signature, “signed, yours truly, Johnny Dollar”. The sketch closes on another commercial for “Stan Freberg, the falling comedian”.
27:32 Closing Remarks. Freberg asks for cards and letters about what to do for the final show.
27:55 Closing Music.

My recaps of all the episodes of The Stan Freberg Show should be at this link.


Okay, so the Space Race thing. Something that baffled many people in the early days of the space race was why the United States didn’t launch a satellite first, the way everyone would have expected. A lot of complaints boiled down to the US didn’t take it seriously. Contemporary thinking in space historians is that President Eisenhower did not think it all that important to launch the first space satellite. His priority was establishing the idea that, while nations might control their own airspace, outer space was a different thing and free to all passing vehicles. Specifically, so that spy satellites could be allowed. But how to establish the precedent that satellites may go about their business? Well, that would be a scientific satellite, launched as part of a major international cooperative effort, by an agency with a long history of research for the public good, on a rocket with no military value. That is, Vanguard, launched as part of the International Geophysical Year, by the Naval Research Laboratory, on a rocket derived from the Viking and Aerobee sounding rockets. His other priority was not spending a crazy amount of money on it, thus, not going any too fast. The Soviets launching a satellite was fine by him; they can’t complain about a satellite launch if they’re doing it too, right? That it set off a American paranoiac panic was probably inevitable but somehow not anticipated.

What’s Going On In Gil Thorp? Cheating? In GOLF? June – August 2018


Do you like Milford? Sure, if you’re here. If you are here, and it’s after about November 2018, this plot recap has probably been superseded. More current goings-on for Neal Rubin and Rod Whigham’s Gil Thorp should be at this link. Thanks and good luck finding what you need. If that’s mathematically-themed comic strips used to start discussions, you’ll want my other blog. Thanks for reading.

Gil Thorp.

4 June – 25 August 2018

Last time Gil Thorp was starting up a sequel to a story from before I did plot recaps. So let me recap that one from the distant, relatively happy times of 2016: Milford boys’ softball star Barry Bader’s father Del was on trial for drunk driving. While that trial was underway, he’d had a liquid lunch and got into a minor accident with beloved Milford girls’ softball star “Boo” Radley. She wasn’t hurt by that. She died when another car crashed into Radley’s stopped car. Del Bader has been in jail since. Barry Bader has been angry, pretty intensely so.

Two years later. Milford Trumpet reporter Dafne Dafonte nags Barry Bader into an interview about how everybody hates his Dad and doesn’t much like him. She mentions him being short-tempered, and he complains about how society casually spits on short guys. To that point I honestly didn’t realize he was supposed to be conspicuously short. Rod Whigham’s art has always avoided straight-on shots, and casually varies the angle. I didn’t attach any particular importance to apparent size.

Jay: 'I've been thinking about Dafne all day, when I should be thinking about Valley Tech.' Trumpet Editor: 'I hear you, Jay.' [ At the jailhouse interview ] Dafne: 'Do you concede that you were a repeat drunk driver?' Del Bader: 'No! I hadn't been convicted yet on my first arrest. I got railroaded.'
Neal Rubin and Rod Whigham’s Gil Thorp for the 23rd of June, 2018. Ah, those precious moments where being correct — he wasn’t yet convicted when the accident happened — actually makes your position a bit weaker. Still, how did Dafne get to this question? That she did screw up a pretty obvious thing — that he couldn’t be a repeat drunk driver before his first conviction — suggests inexperience, which is authentic to her being a high school reporter. But we don’t see how her screw-up was reflected in the story, which other characters treat as having been reported correctly.

Eventually Dafne nags the elder Bader into an interview, too. This promises to be a glorious fiasco. Mr Bader was a ball of rage even before his drunk-driving convictions. He was also a bundle of sexist rage, offended by the discovery that a mere woman could be in charge of a courtroom. And now some teenage girl he never heard of wants him to talk about all this. I wouldn’t blame Bader for refusing to have anything to do with her. If any character ever asked Dafne what precise public service was being done by poking the Baders I never saw a good answer. It’d be interesting? I guess, but that’s not by itself journalism.

Del Bader starts off all right: his wife and son are struggling without him, and he’s treated as an awful person, for an accident. He points out how “Boo” Radley being an attractive, popular teenage sports star makes people view him more harshly than they would “if I’d hit a 50-year-old named Joe Smith”. But he also tries arguing, like, he was not a repeat drunk driver. He hadn’t been convicted for his first arrest yet. “I got railroaded”. Sometimes the literal truth does not make your case better.

Dafne: 'I let the Baders know roughly what to expect, so Barry shouldn't be --- ' Barry: 'YOU SNAKE! You lied! You told us you'd be fair!' Dafne: 'I was, Barry. I stand by every word. The dad you described isn't the one I met. And you KNOW I didn't misquote you.'
Neal Rubin and Rod Whigham’s Gil Thorp for the 7th of July, 2018. I understand Barry Bader should have a different view on his father’s conviction than other people have. And that there’s only so much space a comic strip can have. But I did feel cheated there weren’t any specifics. Like, what’s something that Dafne reported that Barry believes was wrong, or unfair? I feel like that would have given the emotions shown in the story more effect.

Dafne writes a story leading off, “three hours from his comfortable home in Milford, Del Bader is in prison — and in denial.” It’s a catchy start and I hope someone ran it past the school paper’s attorneys. Barry Bader is furious. But his mother — she asks Dafne to come over. She wants to do an intervention. Mrs Bader has Barry sit down and hear about how his father really screwed up, and is screwing up Barry. And Barry needs to think seriously about being something besides a weirdly intensely angry high school athlete.

I’m not sure the exact role Dafne serves by being there. I suppose just that having an outside yet semi-involved party can keep a family dispute from growing too intense. Anyway it all seems to have a good effect. Bader returns to the team apologizing for being such a jerk. And he gets to close out his senior year hitting a three-run inside-the-park home run. Not bad, yeah.


Kevin: 'I'm glad for Ryan, but how come he's getting recruited and I'm not?' Gil Thorp: 'Because unlike you, Kevin, he had the foresight to be a left-handed pitcher.' Kevin: 'Good point ... but I'm still gonna take it out on Madison.' [ Sure enough: two homers, four RBI! ]
Neal Rubin and Rod Whigham’s Gil Thorp for the 18th of June, 2018. As much a sideline as it was, I was endeared to Kevin Pelwicki’s weird little intense, nerdly turn towards perfecting his baseball technique. It’s revealed in the story that Pelwicki affects a pose of being a lunkhead. But actually gets better grades than I did in high school. And hey, look how I turned out! … so. Uhm.

There is — well, not really a subplot. Subplot, to me, suggests something that highlights the main plot, either by contrast or by reinforcement. This is just other stuff going on along the side. Senior Kevin Pelwecki got crazily obsessed with setting records and getting a college baseball scholarship. Coach Gil Thorp, rising above the cliche that he doesn’t really care, helps Pelwecki get his play up to form. But he’s not that serious about finding a college team that’ll offer Pelwecki a spot. He’s able to get Pelwecki a tryout, although as best I can tell the same tryout anyone would. That’s all right, though. Pelwecki finishes the season with 11 home runs, third-highest for the team, and comes to realize that he didn’t really want to play college ball. He wanted to be good enough that he could. I can understand that.


So Bader’s and Pelwicki’s storyline finished off, the 28th of July. with the 30th of July started the new, current storyline. It features the Official Sport of Comic Strip Artists For Some Reason: golf. (I think the reason is that golf was The Sport for Army officers in World War I. So Army enlisted men tried it in World War II. And since every comic strip from 1946 through 1969 was started by someone who’d been enlisted in World War II they carried their interest over.)

Wilson Casey and Tony Paul are really interested in golf. And seriously interested too: they’ll play in the rain, because hey, they get course time nobody else wants. They’re not Milford students; they attend St Fabian, and there’s mention that Gil Thorp is coaching them as part of his summer job. All right. Casey and Paul are really into the game. They just wish those snobs from Pine Ridge weren’t so obnoxious. And this sets off my Jim Scancarelli alarm. “Pine Ridge, Arkansas” was the setting for long-running old-time-radio serial comedy Lum and Abner. Probably just coincidence, though. The defining traits of both Lum and Abner — and most characters from Pine Ridge, Arkansas — was their complete lack of guile. This is not an accurate characterization of these kids.

In qualifications for the Valley Juniors golf tournament the Pine Ridge kids are teamed up with Blackthorne Country Club kids. And they together start cheating, cutting a few strokes off their holes. The St Fabian kids are ruthlessly honest about their play. In an earlier game one had counted a bunker as two strokes because he believed he felt his club strike the ball twice. Paul hits for 83; Casey for 82, scores Gil Thorp said should qualify them easily. The cheaters turn in scores in the 70s, and bump Paul and Casey out.

Pine Ridge pro: 'Sometimes a kid gets on a roll.' Gil Thorp: 'But not EIGHT of them, playing together. You're the adult. If you let this slide, you'r as guilty as they are.' (Later, to his players.) Thorp: 'In a sport built on honor, they cheated, but that doesn't diminish what you did.'
Neal Rubin and Rod Whigham’s Gil Thorp for the 23rd of August, 2018. The tournament scorekeepers were skeptical about the Pine Ridge and Blackthorne players’ scores, but had nothing to go on.

They’re stunned. They know the guys were playing in the 90s the previous week. I admit I’m stunned too; I had just assumed in this sort of contest some tournament official would follow each group. Shows what I know. Well, there’s stuff at pinball tournaments you probably wouldn’t guess happened either.

Thorp goes to the Pine Ridge Country Club pro with the question: come on, srsly? The Pine Ridge guy shrugs, saying, hey, golf is a streaky game. Sometimes a group of eight teens will all happen to play fifteen strokes better than their average all at once. Thorp tries to honor-shame the Pine Ridge guy, and goes back to his players with talk about how good their performance truly was.

And that’s the current standings: a summer storyline about cheating in golf. I realize it’s easy to snark about the insignificance of the subject. But it’s resolutely the sort of thing Gil Thorp is the right comic strip to write about. Really I’m still getting over learning that cheating in tournament golf play is apparently just that easy.

Next Week!

Has Francesco Marciuliano and Mike Manley’s Judge Parker gotten all plot-heavy and crazy? We’ll just see what might or might not have happened.

In Which I Keep Score At A Baseball Game


Keeping a scorecard is a time-honored tradition of attending baseball games. It’s slightly newer than attending baseball games. But then attending baseball games is only slightly newer than playing baseball at all. This is a statement that can get you into a good fight about what people mean by “attending”. Consider this for sometime when you’re at a party and everyone has run out of things to talk about.

Still, it is a tradition. It lets participants combine their love of a game predicated on suspense and anticipation with the natural thrills of multiple-entry bookkeeping. An experienced scorecard-keeper can reconstruct, pitch-by-pitch, a whole game from 139 years ago simply by glancing at the card, working at it for 138 years, and then reading how the newspaper reported the game. Now and then I try. Here’s how it usually goes.

I get a pre-printed scorecard blank. This can be had for under four dollars if you have the special scorecard endorsement on your vehicle registration. There are people who create their own scorecards, using notebooks or such. But such people are wildly unpredictable in their ways and I don’t need that sort of trouble. At the top I would write the teams, the date, the weather conditions, the time of play, my own name in case I forget, my homeroom section, and my name again so that the columns even out. My pen runs dry.

The first batter comes up and I write out his name, letting me discover that the column assumed people had shorter names. So in the next box over I write the number from his shirt, and the number from his position. This I use interchangeably, because I forget which way I started and it’s too late to fix that all now. Each at-bat, real or potential, has a lovely little greyscale diamond, there to record the action. By the time I come out of the hypnotic trance these engender he’s already out. I guess he struck out, since it didn’t seem like all that many people were moving around, and write in a K in the column for his position number.

The second batter comes up. I write five letters that I incorrectly think are in his name. I thought I was looking at the scoreboard. It’s an advertisement for one of the metro area’s leading motorcycle attorneys, insisting they’re one of the area’s best. While I imagine attorneys motorcycling through the courtroom, scattering writs and stuff, he makes a base hit. I darken the diamond line from home to first base. It’s not dark enough, so I run the pen over several more times and break through the paper.

I’m distracted trying to figure if I can somehow make the napkins I swiped from the soda stand into a desk. There is not. But while trying, something happens that I miss. The runner leaves the field, though. So I write down that this was a Fielder’s Choice, off in a little box by itself where the graphic design is well-composed. I’ve always liked the name of the “Fielder’s Choice” as a thing that might happen in baseball. And I’ve never known anyone who knew exactly what constituted one, so perhaps this was one.

The third batter. I listen carefully to the loudspeaker to get his first name (Thorny). The echo makes me think this is his last name too. It would be odd to have a name like “Thorny Thorny”. But if he’s come to peace with it, then who am I to argue? I like my name, and nobody knows what to make of it except a nervous pause before pronouncing it wrong. He hits a foul ball that goes off to a fairly empty part of the stands. A young child 35 feet away from this screams and covers his head. This doesn’t need my scoring, so I write in an ‘X’. Thorny Thorny gets hit by a pitch and takes his base; I record this as ‘F’ as my backup pen dies. I don’t have a better idea for a letter to use in this context.

I try making little spirals to get the dead pen to write again while the next guy hits a grounder that makes shortstop, second base, center field, and right field converge. None of them bonk their heads into each other, a disappointment, and someone tosses a ball to first, where the runner’s tagged out. But Thorny’s on second.

My calculations say this should end the inning, but everybody’s staying where they are. They seem like reasonable professionals and like they know what they’re doing. On my card I draw a line from first to second, jot down the batter’s jersey number, and draw a circle around a 9 that I think is a position number, but has nothing whatsoever to do with whatever just happened. The next batter hits a fly to center field. I write down nothing, as I try to ponder how this has all gone wrong.

I have fun, in my way. But also don’t feel like I need to do this often.

Everything Interesting There Is To Say About Baseball Without Talking About Playing It


Baseball! Say the word (baseball) and right away you’ve conjured thousands of rhapsodic essays about baseball that you won’t read. The sport attracts a lot of writing. To write you only have to be awake and have run out of everything to do except writing. To play it as a sport you need a bat and a ball and maybe like eighteen friends and crowds of tens of thousands of fans. Getting enough people together to supply concessions alone is a chore. Far easier to just write essays about how awesome it would be to play, or maybe watch, or maybe just not worry about.

Still, baseball puts up some good statistics here. Baseball enthusiasts create an average of 49.5 pretentious essays about its inherent greatness for every 12.1 that football enthusiasts create. There’s alo 62.7 essays about baseball for every 25.3 about basketball. There’s 88.5 pro-baseball essays for each 56.2 about cricket. There’s nearly two baseball essays for every one about some silly made-up sport that appears in science fiction shows. That’s a pretty good ratio for the made-up sports. But remember that lots of those essays are snarky. Their major thesis is how the games never look like anything anyone would ever plausibly do for fun, unlike real sports, a category which includes “competitive shin-kicking”.

But just that paragraph gets at some of the joy of baseball. You see even a mystical aura given to its numbers and how easily they can start arguments. Try out 61, for example, or 2632. Toss in a 755, or an 1981 if you’ve got it. If these don’t start an argument, you’re not being persistent enough. Try them again, with greater emphasis. Some numbers get so contentious that there’s nothing sensible to do except retire them. Usually only baseball teams will retire a number. But if you want to do it, go ahead and retire one yourself. If you pick some number that doesn’t get called on much, like 441, they might never catch you. The National League discovered in 1994 how someone had retired 2538 on them over five decades before and they never noticed.

Baseball enthusiasts like to embrace the sport’s mythic origins. According to those, the rules were the creation of Paul Bunyan, who wrestled John Henry’s locomotive. This dug out the finger lakes and uncovering Cooperstown. There Johnny Appleseed emerged from the ground. From this first Home Plate he would walk the Old Northwest, planting Cardiff Giants everywhere. And from these steps small semi-professional teams would grow. Then Mike Fink would come along and punch them. The legend may have grown confused in the retelling.

More serious baseball enthusiasts like to point out the game actually derives from the British game of rounders. This turns out to be fictional too. It all comes from one guy reasoning that he liked baseball now, and when he was a kid he liked rounders. So they must be the same sport at different stages in his life cycle. When he wrote it down this seemed to make sense to everybody, which shows what the standards for making sense were like back then. Please remember that “back then” was generations before baseball was so well-organized that its players could be poisoned by socks. But it inspires questions. Like, what if he had written about this rounders-baseball thing later in life, when his interests had moved on still farther?

What if we saw baseball as merely a transitional sport between baseball and holding a cane while disapproving of the young? How different would the sport be? Would it earn publicly-funded stadiums in all the major cities? Would we have teams of nine scowling old men competing to see who can most be disgusted by some youthful frivolity? Would we be tracking the range and performance of the nation’s greatest complainers? Would the 60s have seen carefully-reasoned critiques about what makes a good crack about how with their long hair you can’t tell boys from girls anymore? Would the American League in 1973 have introduced a Designated Grumbler? I don’t know, but isn’t that an experiment worth running?

My point has gotten away from me, leapt over the back fence, and is running off toward the bridge over the highway. If found please return to this address, or any other needy place which you believe will provide a good home.

In Which I Wonder A Bit Less About The Pretend Baseball Game


I’m not saying I’m not still wondering about that pretend football game’s scoreboard. This is the one at the Cherry Republic store in Traverse City, Michigan. Fun place, lots of cherry-based food things you can put in your mouth if you so desire.

Anyway besides the football scoreboard and a bunch of mocked up movie posters with bear or cherry stuff inserted into it, they’ve got a pretend old-timey baseball scoreboard and it looks like this, because this is a picture of it:

'Boomer Field' scoreboard, showing that after eight innings the Cherries had 11 runs and the Apples 9. And then for some reason the Cherries played the ninth inning, putting up another run.
Yes, I’m sure that this is the Cherries’ rather than the Apples’ scoreboard. The bear thing is part of the whole Cherry Republic motif and besides, you don’t paint the visiting team’s name on the scoreboard while hanging the home team’s name up with a little sign. We have to be realistic here.

So. Yes, I am incredibly disturbed that the home-team Cherries are put on the top of the scoreboard there. I’ve seen this sort of thing done in like high school ballparks and football … parks … and stuff and it always looks unsetting and wrong. Never mind that. Here’s my question.

After eight innings the visiting Apples had nine runs, and the home-team Cherries had 11. That’s a plausible enough score and it sure looks like it was a fun game to that point. But then, and this has been bothering me for four months now, is: why did the Cherries play their ninth inning?

Yes, yes, I know. Up until the 1950 revisions of the rules of baseball the home team could choose whether to bat first or second. And maybe this scoreboard’s just been up there since that time in 1946 when the Cherries manager figured going first would be a great way to throw the Apples’ manager off. Of course I thought of that. But even I don’t buy it. What is going on?

Statistics Saturday: Some Half-Considered Halloween Costumes


  • Uhm … Tron scarecrow?
  • Tron witch?
  • Mouse, but from Tron?
  • What about, like, black cat, only with like Tron markings?
  • Sullenly furious Tron teacup?
  • Tron scarecrow? No, wait. Scratch that.
  • Baseball player.
  • Public-domain version of something from Game of Thrones only maybe like Tron would do it?
  • Kangaroo but maybe like in Tron would make them?
  • Baseball kangaroo witch?
  • From Tron?
  • You can buy a costume of a ‘mustard squeeze bottle’ that’s just a yellow tube with a cone on top like those contestants on Let’s Make A Deal who aren’t even trying? The heck?

From The April 2017 Scraps File


Free to good home. Please be gentle. Many of these sentence fragments had hopes of being put to a useful purpose.

I’m not saying the world should work like all 70s Hanna-Barbera cartoons. It’s too heavy a load on the continuity of the world to have one in which we have cyborg Three Stooges, slice-of-life football players, and space-cop Casper the Friendly Ghost coexisting.
— cut from that bit yesterday where some bands were listed playing in two venues at once because if I start letting my brain vent genially dumb cartoons I used to watch obsessively I will never stop and that’s some dangerous stuff to let out.

Baseball had trouble in its early days because it was hard to think of good team names. They started with teams like the Troy Trojans, the Philadelphia Phillies, the Providence Providentials, the Chicago Illinoisians, the Detroit Michiganders, and so. — cut from my ramblings about baseball because that bit was getting long enough already and because I couldn’t find a good resolution. Some more obvious-place-name spots, like, “the Dover Delawarians”? Some fanciful like “the Sea Girt Grit”? Something that’s over-researched and a little bit off like, “the Queens County Superbas”? I don’t know. Maybe this just needs to be let to brew longer.

[ A bulk lot of about 650 words regarding the controversial plan by the International Flipper Pinball Association, one of the organizing bodies for competitive pinball, to charge one dollar per player per event for certifying rated events; serious inquiries only. ] — a whole presentation which would have been good for some pinball forum about the hotly debated “IFPA Tariff” which I realized I don’t have a use for because (a) “tariff”, like “sheriff” and “sergent”, belongs to the class of words that always look to me like I’m spelling them wrong no matter how many times my spell-checker and DuckDuckGo tell me I’m doing fine; and (b) because while I’m not an expert I’m pretty sure this is an “excise” and not a “tariff”. Actually that’s what has me most riled up. It makes me realize that yeah, actually, everyone treating me like that in middle school had a point. You don’t want to do things that make you learn that about yourself. But I’m right, right, about this being more nearly an excise than a tariff?

There’s stuff about a teenaged boy body that are beyond anyone’s control. After a couple hours trying to get through the unformed judgement centers and the free-floating resentment even the teenaged boy himself stops trying to deal with him. So — I’m just giving up trying to follow up that thing about antiperspirant with some more of my mild body-dissatisfation and I can’t get that stuff to go anywhere. If you have a body or know someone who does, give it a try.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corrugated_galvanised_iron — a particularly haunting scrap. I’ve had it in my notes as something I could do something with just forever and I can not think of any reason why. There’s some pleasant words in the Wikipedia article, like “roll forming”, but that can’t possibly be enough. If you see whatever it was I saw when I made that note, just let me know. I can’t just be thinking to mock the claim that corrugated galvanized iron is occasionally abbreviated “CGI”.

Not that I mean to blow your mind but you do realize there’s not a word in the canon to suggest Romulans even had deflector shields in the era of the Original Series. — cut from a TrekBBS discussion because whether there’s any word depends on whether you accept some logical inferences from Star Trek: Enterprise or whether you’re considering merely the canon of the Original Series as it existed when the show wrapped in 1969 (or whether you include the cartoon, 1973-74, which I’m inclined to). But if you are willing to consider this it considerably reduces some of the plot holes in the episode where Kirk goes undercover as a crazy guy to steal a cloaking device and oh there I go with understanding middle school again.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index fell a point today as investors ran out of singles for the change machine.

120

Because The Season Has Come Again


Baseball! And with a word (baseball) you’ve summoned a spirit (of baseball) renowned for its ability to talk about baseball. There are many rivals for the attention of American sports enthusiasts out there, but none come close in getting people writing rhapsodic essays about baseball. The average baseball game inspires fourteen essays about its greatness. The average football game barely gets more than two essays about the greatness of baseball written. The average hockey game does even worse, inspiring just five people to stand at the window and shout “I like baseball gloves!” And that’s before we start tracking those silly made-up sports they put in science fiction shows or movies that never look even faintly like someone plays them.

It’s easy to understand baseball’s appeal. It fuses two elements: the desire of people to hit a thing with a stick, and the desire of people to not run all that far before stopping. The bases are baseball’s greatest innovation since they promise that you have a built-in reason to stop running. People are a lot like guinea pigs that way, and vice-versa. I bet guinea pigs would love playing baseball if they had some effective way to bat. I know what you’re thinking: couldn’t they hold the bat in their teeth? I say: good luck to that. No guinea pig I’ve ever known (there’ve been like 22 of them) wouldn’t chew the bat to pieces.

Oh, maybe if they had aluminum bats. Yes, that would work. Now the question shifts to why it is we don’t see leagues of guinea pigs playing baseball. Or why we don’t if we look down, since guinea pigs aren’t all that tall. My guess: they have trouble pitching. So if we could just adapt the technologies of tee-ball to guinea pigs their play could sweep the nation. At least I bet it would get like thousands of views on YouTube.

The origins of baseball are shrouded in mystery and are imponderable and unknowable as long as nobody looks them up. When we do look them up we find that people thought baseball grew out of an English game called “rounders”. Rounders, it turns out, is just what they called baseball when the guy who first said baseball grew out of rounders was a kid. Anyway, the whole baseball/rounders thing got muddled up in the late 19th century when followers of Madame Blavatsky tried to mythologize an anti-English origin for the game and found a suitable Theosophist in Abner Doub … wait, am I doing a bit here? I can’t have this right. I mean, Madame Blavatsky? What am I even doing there? You know what this is? This is what stuffing in an allegedly hi-larious word to shore up a dull sentence looks like if you’re a know-it-all type. I don’t know how to recover. Maybe something about Madame Blavatsky contacting the spirits of baseball.

If you’re plagued by baseball spirits know that you can handle many of them by retiring a number. Originally only baseball teams themselves could retire a number, but it turns out the way the rules are worded you can do it yourself. I understand if you’re not sure about this. I never feel sure about anything I do for the first time. If you want to practice try retiring a number that won’t be called on for a while. That way by the time they even notice your pick it’ll have been retired for so long they won’t have the courage to change it. The National League was stunned last year to learn that someone had retired 32,054 on them back in 1942, and while they still grumble about it they don’t even consider reversing the decision.

You can retire a number simply by writing it on a big circle and then sticking it to a green or blue wall. Face the number side out, lest galvanic corrosion (the most corrosive of the galvanics) weaken the joists or halberds or whatever it is holds a wall up. Fo’c’sles? Something like that. Note that this has to be done with a real circle and wall. I know you’re tempted to just whip something up with a web site or maybe an app. Try that and your retirement will count, which is exactly what you do not want a retired number to do. Ask your spirits. Most of them have retirement all worked out, and it’s nice chatting with anyone who’s done worked out anything.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index dropped two points despite confirmation from someone who drove past it on the way to the bookstore yesterday that the ice cream place is too open this early in the year.

124

What’s Going On In Judge Parker? 1 January – 8 April 2017


Hi! Looking for my most recent report on Judge Parker? This might be it. But check this page, with all the Judge Parker-tagged essays, just in case it’s not.


When last I talked about Judge Parker, new writer Francesco Marciuliano had finished his round of thoroughly blowing up the Parker and Spencer families’ incredible streak of fantastic good luck and fortune’s favor. Judge (Retired) Alan Parker’s movie deal had stalled and his new book was going nowhere. Sophie Parker had reappeared after months missing, with the rest of her band still gone, abducted by strange parties unknown. And Parker Sr had received a mysterious bouquet and message from shadowy intelligence-types, and made a promise to “have it done for you soon”.

Blowing up plots is fun and, relatively speaking, easy. How has Marciuliano handled putting things back together?

Judge Parker

1 January – 8 April 2017

Sophie Spencer, returned just in time for Christmas, has as rough a time of it as you might figure. Finding her father’s Crazy Evidence Wall, full of clippings thumbtacked in around circled notes (no strings of yarn connecting stuff, though) sends her into a rage which she takes out on her room, setting off a potentially-fatal-to-their-marriage fight between Sam Driver and Abbey Spencer. But Sam persists, setting back up his Crazy Evidence Wall, growing out his beard to Not Obviously Unhinged levels, and finally (this week) agreeing to go to Ambush Ridge with Sean Ballenger, father of the first abducted teen to have been released. That should turn out well. He can still get his beard out to Riker In The Borg-Are-Everywhere Timeline levels, if need be.

Abbey: 'Sam, please! Don't do this! We just started healing and now you're walking right into a crime scene without even discussing it first?' Sam: 'Like I said, there will be police. I will be with a cop. This isn't the first crime scene I've investigated.' 'Sam, you're not listening to me! You're doing the lone wolf thing again!' 'Abbey, I am listening to you. And I'm not being a lone wolf! This whole time, feeling like I couldn't protect us. Feeling helpless because I couldn't solve Sophie's case. But if I go where Sophie was held, maybe I can solve this. Maybe I can end this for good. And not as lone wolf but with an officer.' Meanwhile the officer, out of uniform, is loading a shotgun into his personal car's trunk.
Francesco Marciuliano and Mike Manley’s Judge Parker for the 2nd of April, 2017. Not to be distracted by petty things but since the start of the year Abbey and Sam have talked about his being a ‘lone wolf’ approximately 628,969,274,033,384 times. I think it might mean something special between them.

Sophie, understandably still traumatized, gets into therapy. It played as a belated move, but just because even when stuff is happening swiftly there’s only a few panels per day and a lot was going on. In-story it was clearly set up within days of her release. This might still be late, but after all, nobody expected her tolerably safe return. She reveals that the only thing she knows of her kidnapper is that she soundd “so much like Abbey”, calling her adopted mother “a cheat” who “doesn’t deserve what she has”. It’s hard not to see this as teasing the fourth wall, or smashing right past it, given the years during which the Parker-Spencer-Drivers were in fortune’s favor. Marciuliano had a more literal, and classically soap-operatic, idea in mind.

Sophie at therapy. 'Neddy and I had nothing but each other after Grandpa died, until Abbey adopted us. But the kidnapper said Abbey doesn't deserve what she has, and I don't either. The kidnapper kept yelling at me that the good fortune wasn't ours, wasn't mine. I wasn't even a Spencer --- it was time for the other shoe to drop. What did she mean?' 'Did you tell this to the police, to Abbey?' 'No. I was afraid! What did the kidnapper mean? It made me feel that everything in my life was an illusion. That's all I could think of when I was trapped --- is it true? Is my life with Abbey based on some lie?'
Francesco Marciuliano and Mike Manley’s Judge Parker for the 26 of February, 2017. I haven’t talked about Mike Manley’s art, so please take this chance to look at it. This is a big talky scene, and it’s not boring. Good coloring helps, certainly, but I think the page would read at least as well without that. Sophie gets to emote, and her speech is well-paced, especially in the second row.

The other kidnapped kids reappear with their own harrowing tales. They had been kept in a remote shack, fed occasionally, waiting for any sign they might be able to escape, or any hint about what this was all about. They don’t get much. Some kind of ransom, some kind of torture to make Sophie Spencer “fall in line”. And then the gradual and then sudden collapse of the kidnapping scheme, as the woman in charge — the one who sounded so much like Abbey — has a fallout with another woman, “the only one who ever helped” her. The One Who Sounded Like Abbey shoots her partner, and then starts shooting the guards. The kids escape when she comes around to kill them, injuring but not killing The One Who Sounded Like Abbey.

Deep in the woods, a standoff between two women holding guns on each other. 'You never had a handle on this plot! You had a vague idea, a dream, but you never knew what you were doing!' 'I wasn't going to be forgotten. I had to remind everyone I'm also family.' 'If family's so important to you, then why are you pointing a gun at me? I'm the only one who ever helped you! I took the boys in case of ransom. I took care of my crew so no one would talk. You were too insane to do anything!' 'Call me insane one more time.' 'And you still wonder why the Spencers abandoned you.' Two gunshots.
Francesco Marciuliano and Mike Manley’s Judge Parker for the 12th of March, 2017. So how did Francesco Marciuliano’s Reddit AMA back in November go? … Oh yeah.

So who is The One Who Sounded Like Abbey? The clear implication is that she’s Abbey’s sibling, or some other person with a claim to the Spencer family (and fortune), denied for reasons not yet revealed. Or at least someone who believes she has a claim.

Not yet resolved: who the mysterious intelligence-type guy was that phoned Judge Parker Senior, or what he was promising to do.

I say Marciuliano’s succeeded in both blowing up the old status quo and putting things together into a plausible, credible, and intriguing new storyline. I’m looking forward to the next couple months of this.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index rose five points when someone looked up legendary 19th Century baseball player Tim Keefe and found out he first played in the major leagues for the Troy, New York, Trojans, inspiring a round of looking up 19th Century baseball team names and subsequent merriment that hasn’t been dimmed even by Richard pointing out how difficult it is to say what a baseball team’s name, as opposed to the nickname they were called by for a while, was before about the 1920s.

126

Statistics Saturday: Some Now-Obscure Professional Baseball Players Given Nicknames Anachronistically


Drawing inspiration from Bob “Death To Flying Things” Ferguson, whose nickname is wholly unattested by any contemporary accounts. Team affiliations are not unique but represent my best guess about who they were with most of the time, and not all these careers were uninterrupted, which is important so that you know my little joke here is as intellectually honest as possible somehow.

  • Candy “A-Go-Go” Cummings, Hartford, 1872-1877.
  • Roger “10-4” Connor, New York, 1880-1897.
  • John “Technopop” Clarkson, Boston, 1882-1894.
  • Bid “Rocket Man” McPhee, Cincinnati, 1882-1899.
  • Ed “Googie” Delahanty, Philadelphia, 1888-1903.
  • George “Knuckles the Echidna” Uhle, Cleveland, 1919-1934.
  • Kid “On Fleek” Nichols, Boston, 1890-1906.
  • John “Brenke Fish ladder” Ward, New York, 1878-1892.
  • Mickey “Laser Knees” Welch, New York, 1880-1892.
  • Sam “Robo-Sam Crawford” Crawford, Detroit 1899-1917.
  • Togie “Theremin” Pittinger, Boston, 1900-1907.
  • Eppa “George `Knuckles the Echidna’ Uhle” Rixley, Cincinnati, 1912-1933.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index dropped three points today on renewed rumors that Lisa was somehow related to legendary 19th Century baseball player Tim Keefe, which she could answer only by saying, “I dunno, I guess?” Indeed, who can truly know?

121

Statistics Saturday: Major League Baseball Pennants, By League


National League, 140; American League, 115.
As of 2016. Not counted: the Players League, Union League, American Association, and National Association, because come on.

Also omitted: my curious belief that it ought to be “penants” even though that doesn’t look right either.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

Index traders wish to remind you that their hypothesis about lower numbers being better has not yet been refuted by anyone and the embarrassed silence among you doubters is starting to show.

90

Thrown For A Curve


When I went to the library it was to return a book. I went in saying, “thanks kindly for having so many books available but I don’t need any new ones just now and wait, a book about the history of fast-pitch softball? Yes, I should read that”. It’s Erica Westly’s Fastpitch: The Untold History of Softball and the Women Who Made the Game. I recommend it, as it’s a pleasant and breezy history. It’s got a bit more focus on major people and less on the policy-setting and organizational challenges than I’d like, but do remember, I’m a person who has a preferred author for pop histories of containerized cargo. If that isn’t enough, well, I’ll let my dad tell you what he thinks of it. I’m guessing my dad’s read it, as we have eerily similar tastes in nonfiction. And he only reads more fiction because he’s the guy in his book club that actually reads the book.

Anyway, the cover blurb is from Lily Koppel, “bestselling author of The Astronaut Wives Club”, which I’ve heard good things about but somehow not read because I guess my dad hasn’t got around to it yet. But Koppel says:

Fastpitch is A League Of Their Own for the softball set.

Good recommendation, if you liked A League Of Their Own, which I think I do even though I only remember the scene about there being no crying in baseball. But the thing is, A League Of Their Own was about the women’s fast-pitch softball league. The book talks about it in several chapters. I suppose there really aren’t any other movie references to softball, fast- or slow-pitch, that anybody remembers at all, but it’s still weird. It’s got me wondering about other Koppel book recommendations, like, “Jim Lovell’s Lost Moon is Apollo 13 for the Space Race set”, or “Team Of Rivals is Lincoln for the Civil War”. “The Longest Day is The Longest Day for D-Day”. Dad, you have any thoughts about books?

A Name To Be Reckoned With


I saw that Sports Authority didn’t get any bids for its stadium naming rights. Somebody else brought it up. I wasn’t prying. I was vaguely sad about Sports Authority going bankrupt, what with how I kept thinking I might go buy one of those nice slick-looking exercise shirts for years without doing it. I didn’t think I had the figure to wear one just yet and I didn’t want to go buying two of them, one for now and one for when I could look good wearing it. But I don’t blame myself for Sports Authority going bankrupt since I don’t think I’m to blame. It would be at least four shirts and a pair of ankle weights that they needed to sell to make the difference. And I already got ankle weights, back in 2010. They’ve been satisfying. They fit well on the shelf in the basement where they can fall onto my toes when I’m trying to get a can of fossilized paint. I forget where I bought them. Anyway, I was willing to let them go to wherever expired companies go without further action.

It was Consumerist.com that told me an asset auction turned up no bidders for their stadium naming rights. Also that they had stadium naming rights, for Mile High Stadium in Denver. I hadn’t heard the Broncos had sold their stadium name but that figures. Corporations like to graffiti just like any of us do. By paying an exposition authority they can get away with it just like the rest of us don’t. Here I have to divert for a real thing that I saw when I was living in Singapore years ago. I didn’t notice any noteworthy graffiti for months which is not a tautology because shut up. When I did spot one, it was spray-painted on a steel girder at a construction site. It read, “I Love Singapore”. Nice trolling, whoever you were.

Maybe I’m numbed to the selling of naming rights to everything. It’s hard to avoid, anyway. Sports venues and like got named for the team that got them built. Or at least the union-busting rich people that bought the place after the team went bankrupt. Or for lumps of matter you could put in your mouth and chew. If that didn’t suffice you could name them for geographical features, which is how we got Madison Square Garden or Mile High Stadium. I’m not saying the geography names were all that good. Madison Square Garden hasn’t been near Madison Square since Coolidge was President. I assume that’s because of a primitive 20s form of Gentrification. Mile High Stadium is actually only eight feet above ground level, owing to the high cost of stilts. But they offered a kind of certainty. They were named for places and you could be pretty sure about places being around. This was before we discovered continental drift and marketing.

And it is marketing. Corporations figure they want people to like them more. I can sympathize. It’s hard liking corporations. They’re not really about doing things that serve any particular good. They’re mostly about holding the rights to leverage real estate transactions. And who cares for that? It doesn’t matter what a company says it is. It’s just an operating entity existing on behalf of a holding company that’s really in it for the leverage. So you can understand how a corporation would try to make itself look better. They pick hanging around professional athletes. That way they can tie their image to an event that will end with any given consumer’s preferred team losing about half the time, and failing to achieve a championship most of the time. This reminds us that corporations how we as people organize to justify doing dumb or offensive stuff. Some places are astounding at naming rights. Lansing’s baseball stadium sold the park’s name to a law school and the field itself to an insurance company. They don’t seem to have thought to sell the name for the stands, or I just didn’t notice. I can’t wait for them to sell the naming rights for the slow-moving line of confused people at the hummus vendor’s.

Still, I’m surprised to learn nobody wanted to buy the Mile High Stadium naming rights. I’d imagine someone to try just for the fun of it. I’m thinking of starting a collection. Between me and all my friends we could probably put up literally hundreds of dollars to the cause of buying me the naming rights for Mile High Stadium. And I know what you’re thinking, that we’d come up with some hilarious syllable goo and pretend that’s the name for the place. First level thinking. We need better. I’m figuring to name it after some other stadium, like, Giants Stadium at Mile High Stadium. Or the Boston Commons Candlestick Veterans Park at Mile High Stadium. It’s at least as good as any other name.

Hm. Maybe I need a little more. I should sell the idea rights to this name.

Jack Benny Sees Out The Year 1943


The comic writer/critic Ian Shoales (Merle Kessler) wrote once that he thought allegory was an art form that’d gone out with the Middle Ages, “except for certain episodes of The Twilight Zone”. It’s true in spirit, even if allegories lasted a bit longer than the Middle Ages. Allegorical stories are still around, although they’re not so formally structured as your classic Middle Ages/Twilight Zone structure.

The Jack Benny Program was for many years an exception. Benny’s show would do, for the New Year’s broadcast, a deliberately allegorical piece. Benny would play the Old Year, giving advice and explanations to the New Year. It makes for a curious pop-cultural filter on years of history: the sketches are stuffed full of news, hopes for the coming year, wishful thinking for the present, up-to-the-minute pop culture references. (The song Benny as Old Year sings is “Pistol Packin’ Momma”, which was everywhere in 1943. I think Jack Paar mentioned how sick USO crews got of the song, since whenever they arrived at a new base the soldiers and sailors wanted to hear it.) It can make for striking moments of understanding life in a time gone far by.

I’m not sure how many years they did this. But I wanted to share an example. This one’s from the 2nd of January, 1944. It’s dominated by war news, of course. Even there it gets strange, turning the war news of 1943 into a baseball game, with gags like how Mussolini got knocked in the head in the sixth inning. The premise feels odd, though it’s saved by earnestness and sentiment. There are some laughs that I, comfortably seventy years on, have which the original audience wouldn’t.

(There’s some racially charged jokes in this. You probably suspected that going in. I cringed most at Rochester’s segment. The character’s treatment on the show got better in time, but the show as a whole was probably at its best during World War II. I do feel bad closing out 2015, a year that saw so much celebration of white racism, with that Rochester sketch. But I don’t feel right editing it out and pretending it’s not there.)

The November 2015 Scraps File


Once more, here’s a pile of words that I couldn’t use in my humor blog. If you want to do anything with them, please, have fun and let me know if it makes you any money. It would be nice to think my words are providing for somebody. I didn’t hear if last month’s did anybody any good.

  • fresh hickory pickle — cut because it sounds too sing-songy, like I’m trying too hard to write a fake nursery rhyme.
  • that thrilling moment in a history of scientific thought when they mention Pythagoras of Samos and you’re going to get to hear what he thought of the matter — cut because it turned out Pythagoras was just quoting Thales and it wasn’t anywhere near the grade of whacked-out loopiness you expect from the man who gave us Olympic gold-thigh-presentation.
  • well, really — cut from the start of several dozen sentences because I didn’t need the warm-up after all.
  • xam — from the 1966 M F Enterprises run of Captain Marvel; it’s the code word that Captain Marvel, a robot from another planet, used to reverse the body-splitting process that he used for those cases where a supervillain might be foiled by having a detached forearm sprung at him.
  • and if you’re smart you’ll see your dentist right away — line from that episode of M*A*S*H where Hawkeye and Trapper John fool Frank into mining gold, which totally happened for some reason.
  • some days you just need a DVR full of Joe E Brown baseball comedies — while true, it’s too far outside baseball season, even if I was just watching the movie where he’s hoping to join the Cardinals so he can earn the five thousand dollars he’ll need to bring his improved fire extinguisher to market.
  • I remember how you liked to peel your own bananas — weird line to have in a piece that’s otherwise about the spell checker being mean to me.
  • come to think of it — cut from the end of several dozen sentences because I didn’t need the cool-down after all.

Statistics Saturday: The New York Stock Exchange Standings As Of Friday, 2 October 2015


American League
East Division
Symbol Name Price Price Behind Elimination
Number
Wild Card
Elimination Number
CVX Chevron 82
XOM Exxon Mobil Corp. 76 6 17
CAT Caterpillar Inc. 66 16 7
MSFT Microsoft Corporation 46 36
PFE Pfizer Inc 33 48
Central Division
Symbol Name Price Price Behind Elimination
Number
Wild Card
Elimination Number
MMM 3M Co. 143 x,z
UNH Unitedhealth Group Inc. 119 24 y
TRV Travelers Cos Inc. 100 43
DD E.i. du Pont de Nemours and Co. 49 94
INTC Intel Corp 31 113
West Division
Symbol Name Price Price Behind Elimination
Number
Wild Card
Elimination Number
BA Boeing Co. 133 x
UTX United Technologies Corp. 90 43 13
MRK Merck & Co. Inc. 50 82
KO Coca-cola Co. 40 92
GE General Electric Co. 25 107

x – clinched division
y – clinched wild card slot
z – clinched home field

National League
East Division
Symbol Name Price Price Behind Elimination
Number
Wild Card
Elimination Number
NKE Nike Inc. Cl B 125 x
MCD Mcdonalds Corp 100 25 5
JNJ Johnson & Johnson 94 31
V Visa 71 55
WMT Wal-mart Stores 65 60
Center Division
Symbol Name Price Price Behind Elimination
Number
Wild Card
Elimination Number
GS The Goldman Sachs Group Inc. 177 x, z
IBM International Business Machines Corp 145 32 y
HD Home Depot Inc. 118 59
AXP American Express Co. 74 103
PG Procter & Gamble Co. 72 105
West Division
Symbol Name Price Price Behind Elimination
Number
Wild Card
Elimination Number
DIS Walt Disney 103 x
JPM JP Morgan Chase 61 42
VZ Verizon Communications Inc. 43 60
T At&t Inc 33 70
CSCO Cisco Systems Inc. 26 77

x – clinched division
y – clinched wild card slot
z – clinched home field

Statistics Saturday: The Questions Wikipedia’s Detroit Zoo History Raises


Drawn from Wikipedia’s Detroit Zoo page, in the history section, because I wanted to know whether the Detroit Zoo had ever actually been in Detroit rather than in the suburbs of Royal Oak and Huntingdon Woods:

The first Detroit Zoo opened in 1883 on Michigan and Trumbull Avenues, across from the then site of Tiger Stadium.

Wait, they called any ballpark before Yankee Stadium a Stadium? (No: Tigers Stadium was named Navin Field when it opened, in 1911, and before that the Tigers played in Bennett Park.) Wait, Bennett Park goes back to 1883? (No: to 1896). Wait, the Tigers go back to 1883? (No: to 1894.) Wait, did baseball even have the Western League, which is what the American League started as, in 1883? (No, but that’s kind of complicated.)

Sentences Completed: 1
Total Questions Raised: 4

A circus had arrived in town, only to go broke financially.

As opposed to going broke morally?

Sentences Completed: 2
Total Questions Raised: 5

Luther Beecher, a leading Detroit citizen and capitalist, financed the purchase of the circus animals and erected a building for their display called the Detroit Zoological Garden.

By calling him a leading Detroit citizen and capitalist I imagine he just strode around town wearing evening dress and holding sacks full of money while explaining to the working class that he was uplifting them morally by not paying them more money; that can’t be right, can it? (There’s no article about Luther Beecher, so I am going to suppose that anything you say about him can be true, like, “he was raised as an abolitionist, but later in life painted Christmas oranges blue in order to satisfy his belief that they should rhyme”.)

Sentences Completed: 3
Total Questions Raised: 6

The zoo closed the following year and the building converted into a horse auction.[5]

So what the heck does this thing have to do with the actual Detroit Zoo? Also what happened to the animals? Do I want to know? (I’m betting ‘no’.)

Sentences Completed: 4
Total Questions Raised: 9

The Detroit Zoological Society was founded in 1911, but the zoo’s official opening did not occur until August 1, 1928.

Were … they just puttering around town asking people to put up their giraffes for seventeen years then? And people did?

Sentences Completed: 5
Total Questions Raised: 11

At the opening ceremony, acting Mayor John C. Nagel was to speak to the gathered crowd.

I honestly don’t have any questions about this. I’m a little curious why they had an acting Mayor instead of the regular kind, but I know that cities just go through stretches where they have acting Mayors instead sometimes and that’s a normal function of city mayoralties.

Sentences Completed: 6
Total Questions Raised: 11

Arriving late, Nagel parked his car behind the bear dens and as he came rushing around the front, Morris, a polar bear, leaped from his moat and stood directly in front of Nagel.

Why did the zoo put the mayor’s parking spot within leaping range of the polar bears? Also why didn’t they make a moat that was bigger than what a polar bear could leap across?

Sentences Completed: 7
Total Questions Raised: 13

Unaware how precarious his situation was, Nagel stuck out his hand and walked toward the polar bear joking, “He’s the reception committee.”

Did grown-ups not know back then that between the options of rushing towards a polar bear and rushing away from the polar bear, the better option is nearly invariably rushing away from the polar bear? Is this maybe why they didn’t have a regular mayor and were making do on an acting basis? Was the regular mayor before Nagel perhaps lost when he accidentally slathered himself in bacon grease and rolled around in shredded cheese and sour cream until he was a mayor-flavored shell-less burrito and climbed into the mouth of a surprised yet compliant tiger?

Sentences Completed: 8
Total Questions Raised: 16

The keepers rushed the bear and forced him back into the moat, leaving the mayor uninjured.[6]

Wait, the polar bear was named Morris?

Sentences Completed: 9
Total Questions Raised: 17 (though that should’ve been counted against two sentences back).


At this point I cease reading because if I learn anything more about the history of the Detroit Zoo I will have completely obliterated my ability to know anything about the history of the Detroit Zoo.

Oh yeah, as for my original question, about whether the Detroit Zoo had ever been in the actual City of Detroit, as opposed to the suburbs of Royal Oak and Huntington Woods? I have no idea.

Over There, Mathematics Comics


Over on the mathematics blog I’ve posted some discussion of a half-dozen comics that mention mathematics themes. If that seems a little vague to you, I’ve also included an alleged mathematics joke that I’ve never seen anybody actually tell and why it should be termed a joke.

I’m embarrassed that I don’t have anything more to offer in terms of comic strips right now, not even one that I thought was funny like the Mary Worth where everybody’s horrified at having to talk with Mary, so let me offer the search term poetry that has brought people to here the past couple weeks:

  • spoof text title math and cartoon strip
  • cricket nebus
  • nobody ever died for dear old rutgers
  • pearls before swine math comic
  • cool facts about the turbo movie
  • if- then form in mathematics comics strip
  • rbert benchley jokes of the day

I’m not surprised that searches for mathematics comic strips are bringing people here. And I’m not surprised that somebody searching for “nebus” might find me because it’s a pretty distinctive name, but how cricket gets into the mix I don’t know. I’ve stared at the game without understanding what’s going on, certainly, and can kind of see how it’s related to baseball, and years ago my office computer in Singapore had a bookmark for a pretty nice cricket simulator Java applet (remember Java applets that did anything besides provide advertisements and security flaws?) and I could fiddle around with that without ever knowing what I was doing.

Also I’m curious about the writings of this “rbert benchley”, and imagine that on finding some I’ll be a fn.

(Well, seriously: Robert Benchley Jokes of the Day? He’s funny in small amounts, sure, but his Benchley touch really needs paragraphs, preferably essays, to be funny. A Benchley line by itself doesn’t show the writing off well.)

Franklin P Adams: A Plea


[ Liking words is a tricky hobby, because you never can tell just when some of them are going to really get to annoy you. For example, I can’t stand the phrase “grow your business”, which is all the more annoying because I can’t fault it for being a ridiculous metaphor or anything. I just don’t like it. But sometimes a skilled writer such as Franklin P Adams gets annoyed by something and turns that irritation into something lovely, eg: ]

Writers of baseball, attention!
   When you’re again on the job —
When, in your rage for invention,
   You with the language play hob —
Most of your dope we will pardon,
   Though of the moth ball it smack,
But — cut out the “sinister garden”,
   Chop the “initial sack”.

Rake poor old Roget’s Thesaurus
   For phrases fantastic and queer;
And though on occasions you bore us,
   We will refrain from a sneer.
We will endeavour to harden
   Ourselves to the rest of your clack,
If you’ll cut out the “sinister garden”
   And chop the “initial sack”.

Singers of words that are scrambled,
   Say, if you will, that he “died”,
Write, if you must, that he “ambled” —
   We shall be last to deride.
But us to the Forest of Arden,
   Along with the misanthrope Jaques,
If you cling to the “sinister garden”
   And stick to “initial sack”.

Speak of the “sphere’s abberation”,
   Mention the “leathery globe”,
Say he got “free transportation” —
   Though that try the patience of Job.
But if you’re wise you’ll discard en-
   Cumbrances such as we thwack —
Especially “sinister garden”
   And the “initial sack”.

Community Events, June 3, 2013


Fireworks Cancellation Night at Municipal Utilities Payment Center Field. Sunday, 30 minutes after sunset or 8:45, whichever comes first. Celebrate the nearly mediocre first half-month performance of the Snake Valley Grasshopper Mice in the division B (lower half) state leagues with an all-new series of excuses why there won’t be a pyrotechnic festival this week either. Fireworks Cancellation Night is as always sponsored by the Patagium Village Credit Dairy and Non-Fat Convenience Store unless they’ve changed their credit card number.

Robert Benchley: The Score In The Stands


I like baseball and won’t argue with people whining that it’s a slow sport because they mostly go in determined to find something to disapprove of and there’s no reasoning from that starting point. (I’ll grant it’s horribly served by television, though.) Robert Benchely, I’m delighted to remember, had a bit about the opening week of baseball in Love Conquers All that looks at the action in a game. I think the fifth inning the high point of this match.


The opening week of the baseball season brought out few surprises. The line-up in the grandstands was practically the same as when the season closed last Fall, most of the fans busying themselves before the first game started by picking old 1921 seat checks and October peanut crumbs out of the pockets of their light-weight overcoats.

Old-timers on the two teams recognized the familiar faces in the bleachers and were quick to give them a welcoming cheer. The game by innings as it was conducted by the spectators is as follows:

FIRST INNING: Scanlon, sitting in the first-base bleachers, yelled to Ruth to lead off with a homer. Thibbets sharpened his pencil. Liebman and O’Rourke, in the south stand, engaged in a bitter controversy over Peckingpaugh’s last-season batting average. NO RUNS.

SECOND INNING: Scanlon yelled to Bodie to to whang out a double. Turtelot said that Bodie couldn’t do it. Scanlon said “Oh, is that so?” Turtelot said “Yes, that’s so and whad’ yer know about that?” Bodie whanged out a double and Scanlon’s collar came undone and he lost his derby. Stevens announced that this made Bodie’s batting average 1000 for the season so far. Joslin laughed.

THIRD INNING: Thibbets sharpened his pencil. Zinnzer yelled to Mays to watch out for a fast one. Steinway yelled to Mays to watch out for a slow one. Mays fanned. O’Rourke called out and asked Brazill how all the little brazil-nuts were. Levy turned to O’Rourke and said he’d brazil-nut him. O’Rourke said “Eah? When do you start doing it?” Levy said: “Right now.” O’Rourke said: “All right, come on. I’m waiting.” Levy said: “Eah?” O’Rourke said: “Well, why don’t you come, you big haddock?” Levy said he’d wait for O’Rourke outside where there weren’t any ladies. NO RUNS.

FOURTH INNING: Scanlon called out to Ruth to knock a homer, Thibbets sharpened his pencil. Scanlon yelled: “Atta-boy, Babe, whad’ I tell yer!” when Ruth got a single.

FIFTH INNING: Mrs. Whitebait asked Mr. Whitebait how you marked a home-run on the score-card. Mr. Whitebait said: “Why do you have to know? No one has knocked a home-run.” Mrs. Whitebait said that Babe Ruth ran home in the last inning. “Yes, I know,” said Mr. Whitebait, “but it wasn’t a home-run.” Mrs. W. asked him with some asperity just why it wasn’t a home-run, if a man ran home, especially if it was Babe Ruth. Mr. W. said: “I’ll tell you later. I want to watch the game.” Mrs. Whitebait began to cry a little. Mr. Whitebait groaned and snatched the card away from her and marked a home-run for Ruth in the fourth inning.

SIXTH INNING: Thurston called out to Hasty not to let them fool him. Wicker said that where Hasty got fooled in the first place was when he let them tell him he could play baseball. Unknown man said that he was “too Hasty,” and laughed very hard. Thurston said that Hasty was a better pitcher than Mays, when he was in form. Unknown man said “Eah?” and laughed very hard again. Wicker asked how many times in seven years Hasty was in form and Thurston replied: “Often enough for you.” Unknown man said that what Hasty needed was some hasty-pudding, and laughed so hard that his friend had to take him out.

Thibbets sharpened his pencil.

SEVENTH INNING: Libby called “Everybody up!” as if he had just originated the idea, and seemed proudly pleased when everyone stood up. Taussig threw money to the boy for a bag of peanuts who tossed the bag to Levy who kept it. Taussig to boy to Levy.

Scanlon yelled to Ruth to come through with a homer. Ruth knocked a single and Scanlon yelled “Atta-boy, Babe! All-er way ’round! All-er way round, Babe!” Mrs. Whitebait asked Mr. Whitebait which were the Clevelands. Mr. Whitebait said very quietly that the Clevelands weren’t playing to-day, just New York and Philadelphia and that only two teams could play the game at the same time, that perhaps next year they would have it so that Cleveland and Philadelphia could both play New York at once but the rules would have to be changed first. Mrs. Whitebait said that he didn’t have to be so nasty about is. Mr. W. said My God, who’s being nasty? Mrs. W. said that the only reason she came up with him anyway to see the Giants play was because then she knew that he wasn’t off with a lot of bootleggers. Mr. W. said that it wasn’t the Giants but the Yankees that she was watching and where did she get that bootlegger stuff. Mrs. W. said never mind where she got it. NO RUNS.

EIGHTH INNING: Thibbets sharpened his pencil. Litner got up and went home. Scanlon yelled to Ruth to end up the game with a homer. Ruth singled. Scanlon yelled “Atta-Babe!” and went home.

NINTH INNING: Stevens began figuring up the players’ batting averages for the season thus far. Wicker called over to Thurston and asked him how Mr. Hasty was now. Thurston said “That’s all right how he is.” Mrs. Whitebait said that she intended to go to her sister’s for dinner and that Mr. Whitebait could do as he liked. Mr. Whitebait told her to bet that he would do just that. Thibbets broke his pencil.

Score: New York 11. Philadelphia 1.

Selections From My Library


I need to clear out some books and so offer these samples of my eclectic tastes to any takers. Please contact this or any department if you would like it sent gratis, or contact me if you would like it sent to you.

An Incomplete History Of The Cold War, by Daniel “D D” Davison “Hall”, accepts that any history of a complicated event will be incomplete, and so for this popularization it includes only the years 1947, 1953-55, 1964-67, 1978, 1980, then goes back to 1972 because of some stuff it thought about, and 1980 again; and it omits completely all reference to “Poland” or “Belize”, the latter of which the author insists was merely coincidence. 325 pages.

Continue reading “Selections From My Library”