60s Popeye: Tiger Burger, which you can go ahead and join in progress


I came pretty near noping out of another King Features Popeye cartoon this week. I’m not saying you’re wrong if you do. Tiger Burger, another from the Jack Kinney studios, has a story by Cal Howard and animation direction by Harvey Toombs.

It is set in “Darkest Injia”. This is bad. But the use of “Injia”, as though Popeye’s quirky pronunciation were the “correct” thing, cut the bad down a little. The start of the cartoon is all like that. If you want to get to the part of the cartoon that doesn’t need excuses? Start from about 19:30 and proceed from there. My embedded link will be the whole cartoon, though.

So. Yeah. The first two and a half minutes of this are stuff you have to rationalize to keep watching. It bottoms out about 18:08 when we get the sign “You are now entering Puka-Puka, Fastest Growing Slums In Kasha County” which ugh. This is undercut, not swiftly enough, by going to the sign for the Optimists Club. If this cartoon were aimed at adults, this could be a wry comment on the misery of society. And how some people refuse to acknowledge that, a thing both good and bad. The cartoon is not thinking deep enough to get away with that. Not 60 years on, anyway.

The village of Puka-Puka doesn’t look great either. Not crazy about Popeye wondering about the native hospitality, but at least he does address everyone as “sir”. The cop that Popeye talks to is given a British accent and puffs a Churchill-class cigar, icons that are … oh, a bunch to unpack. They do seem to me to be things that would, to a white middle-class American audience of 1960, signify “civilized” and “respectable”, so there’s that. If the cop had been Jackson Beck trying to do Apu I might have dropped this whole series never to touch it again.

Anyway, all this — all this — is to establish that Popeye and Wimpy are hunting Gonga the man-eating tiger. (Yeah, I see the reference.) Gonga’s given a big build-up as “the most vicious, cruel, meanest, low-down, ferocious, good-for-nothing, low-down, fiendish man-eating tiger in all of Injia”. We don’t see a lot of Gonga’s fiendishness. He just yoinks Wimpy off of their turtle. But since Wimpy’s been whining the whole cartoon about wanting to eat hamburgers it’s hard not being on Gonga’s side.

A tiger has one paw wrapped around Wimpy's shoulder, and looks at the camera, with one eye drooping. Wimpy, both eyes open just a tiny bit, is holding up one finger while looking off-camera and apparently whispering.
Look, let them have their time together.

Monomania usually works great for comic characters. And Wimpy is almost the definition of a monomaniacal comic character. I’m not sure why it doesn’t work here. Possibly because there’s so much of him talking hamburgers with nothing else going on. Wimpy can’t interrupt the action with his little thing if his little thing is all the action.

It’s hard to sell me on a Popeye-hunts-an-animal cartoon. While he’s far from consistent, his “always be kind to children and dumb animals” philosophy is a great statement of goals. There’d be some respectability in the plot if he were protecting the village from a menace. I guess that’s the point of the cop’s declaration of Gonga’s wickedness. But Popeye and Wimpy didn’t know about this tiger going in. And we didn’t see Gonga doing anything particularly wicked. So it’s hard to get past the impression Popeye’s being a jerk here.

There’s a couple bits that try to salvage the cartoon. Popeye challenging Gonga to “come out and fights like a man” and Gonga calling back, “come in and fight like a tiger”. Popeye answering how he didn’t come to India to eat hamburgers which, yeah, I wouldn’t. Or the wacky choice to have Popeye and Wimpy riding on a turtle, rather than an elephant. It seems to have been done for the silliness of a howdah on a turtle. And to let the cartoon stop on a joke about how turtles are slow. And if we just stick to that the cartoon is all right. But it’s not much salvage and it comes after a lousy start.

Statistics May: Or, Statistics April, Continued Again


Finally I have a window to explore the strange state of my readership statistics. I’d had a weird, catastrophic drop in my readership, from 1,053 views by 483 visitors in march down to 808 views by 303 visitors in April. That trend … well, in May the number of views dropped to 759, though the number of unique viewers rose back to 359. I don’t know what to make of this. The number of views per visitor was more in line with what I’d expect. That was 2.11 in May, compared to April’s anomalously high 2.67. March was 2.18, which is about what I expect.

Still, the number of likes received over the month dropped again: from 443 in March, to 402 in April, to 380 in May. The number of comments similarly fell, from 113 in March to 108 in April to 81 in May. Perhaps I just didn’t have subjects that lent themselves to cross-chatter? Or that might reflect the end of the First Betty Boop Cartoons project, since listing all the previous firsts was counted by WordPress as a comment for reasons that make sense to WordPress’s statistics team.

If I’m reading it right stuff was basically fine except for the third week in May (the 18th through the 24th) when people just didn’t come around. I don’t see anything odd about that week’s selection of articles and cartoons and stuff, though.

Well, the month of June started at 17,231 page views, and 568 WordPress followers. Ten of them added in the month of May, so, hi there.

Now on to the popular business of listing stuff. The most popular articles in May were:

As for the popular listing of countries: the greatest number of readers in the reader-deprived month of May came from the United States (542), with runners-up the United Kingdom (33), the United Canada (28), and the United Australia (20). Sending me a single reader each were the United Belgium,
the United Bulgaria, the United Chile, the United Egypt, the United European Union, the United Finland, the United Hong Kong, the United India, the United Italy, the United Norway, the United Saudi Arabia, and the United United Arab Emirates. United Finland United is on a three-month streak of sending me a single reader. I don’t know how a reader can be coming from the United European Union considering there’s countries in it that are already listed.

Here’s some of the search terms I got. Good luck working out what they mean:

Statistics Saturday: Nations Of Australia And Antarctica Ordered By Length


At last, completion!

  • 1. India (Antarctic)
  • 1. (tie) India (Australian)
  • 3. Australia
  • 4. The Ice Republic (Australian)

Now I have to think of other things to list. Hm. This could be trouble.

Statistics Saturday: Nations of Asia Ordered By Length


My grand project is drawing nearer completion! Can you feel the sort-of excitement-ish sensation? I know I can.

  • 1. Iran
  • 1 (tie). Iraq
  • 1 (tie). Laos
  • 1 (tie). Oman
  • 5. China
  • 5 (tie). Japan
  • 5 (tie). Nepal
  • 5 (tie). Qatar
  • 5 (tie). Syria
  • 5 (tie). Yemen
  • 11. Bhutan
  • 11 (tie). Brunei
  • 11 (tie). Cyprus
  • 11 (tie). Israel
  • 11 (tie). Jordan
  • 11 (tie). Kuwait
  • 11 (tie). Russia
  • 11 (tie). Turkey
  • 19. Armenia
  • 19 (tie). Bahrain
  • 19 (tie). Georgia
  • 19 (tie). Lebanon
  • 19 (tie). Myanmar
  • 19 (tie). Vietnam
  • 25. Cambodia
  • 25 (tie). Malaysia
  • 25 (tie). Maldives
  • 25 (tie). Mongolia
  • 25 (tie). Pakistan
  • 25 (tie). Thailand
  • 31. Indonesia
  • 31 (tie). Singapore
  • 31 (tie). Sri Lanka
  • 34. Azerbaijan
  • 34 (tie). Bangladesh
  • 34 (tie). Kazakhstan
  • 34 (tie). Kyrgyzstan
  • 34 (tie). Tajikistan
  • 34 (tie). Uzbekistan
  • 40. North Korea
  • 40 (tie). Philippines
  • 40 (tie). South Korea
  • 40 (tie). Timor-Leste
  • 44. Saudi Arabia
  • 44 (tie). Turkmenistan
  • 46. United Arab Emirates

Robert Benchley: The Rope Trick Explained


There is no such thing as the Indian Rope Trick, the stunt where a rope gets tossed up in the air, and an assistant climbs up it and vanishes. There never was. The entire stunt was a creation of 19th-century western magicians. I know, I was shocked to learn it too. Peter Lamont’s The Rise Of The Indian Rope Trick: How A Spectacular Hoax Became History describes much of the trick’s cultural history. Lamont mentions how the humorist Robert Benchley was an early and fervent skeptic that there was ever such a thing as the Indian Rope Trick.

In this piece, collected in My Ten Years In A Quandry And How They Grew, shows off some of Benchley’s skepticism about the trick, although it isn’t one of the pieces Lamont quotes, for fair reason.

The Rope Trick Explained

In explaining this trick, I need hardly say that it is known as “the Indian rope trick.” That is the only trick that everyone explains, as well as the only trick that no one has ever seen. (Now don’t write in and say that you have a friend who has seen it. I know your friend and he drinks.)

For readers under the age of three (of whom, judging from several letters at hand, I have several) I will explain that “the Indian rope trick” consists in throwing a rope into the air, where it remains, apparently unfastened to anything, while a boy climbs up to the top. Don’t ask me what he does then.

This trick is very easy to explain. The point is that the boy gets up into the air somehow and drops the rope down to the ground, making it look as if the reverse were true. This is only one way to do it, however. There are millions of ways.


While in India, a friend of mine, a Mr MacGregor, assisted me in confusing the natives, in more ways than one. We dressed up in Indian costume, for one thing. This confused even us, but we took it good-naturedly.

Then I announced to a group of natives, who were standing open-mouthed (ready to bite us, possibly) that Mr MacGregor and I would perform the famous Indian Rope Trick under their very noses. This was like stealing thunder from a child.

Stationing myself at the foot of a rope which extended upward into the air with no apparent support at the other end, I suggested to Mr MacGregor that he climb it.

“Who—me?” he asked, hitching his tunic around his torso.

This took up some time, during which part of our audience left. The remainder were frankly incredulous, as was Mr MacGregor. I, however, stuck to my guns.

“Up you go, MacGregor!” I said. “You used to be in the Navy!”


So, like a true yeoman, Mr MacGregor laid hands on the rope and, in a trice, was at its top. It wasn’t a very good trice, especially when viewed from below, but it served to bring a gasp of astonishment from the little group, many of whom walked away.

“Come on in—the water’s fine!” called Mr MacGregor, waving from his pinnacle (one waves from one’s pinnacle sideways in India).

“Is everything fast?” I called up at him.

“Everything fast and burning brightly, sir!” answered Mr MacGregor, like a good sailor.

“Then—let ‘ergo!” I commanded, sounding Taps on a little horn I had just found in my hand.

And, mirabile dictu, Mr MacGregor disappeared into thin air and drew the rope up after him! Even I had to look twice. It was a stupendous victory for the occult.


“Are there any questions?” I asked the mob.

“What is Clark Gable like?” someone said.

“He’s a very nice fellow,” I answered. “Modest and unassuming. I see quite a lot of him when I am in Hollywood.”

There was a scramble for my autograph at this, and the party moved on, insisting that I go with them for a drink and tell them more about their favorite movie stars. There is a native drink in India called “straite-ri” which is very cooling.


It wasn’t until I got back to our New York office that I saw Mr MacGregor again, and I forgot to ask him how he ever got down.

Statistics Saturday: Nations of Africa Ordered By Length


I choose to believe this project will someday be remarked upon by someone else with a comment like “you won’t believe how this changes the way you see the world!”

  • 1. Chad
  • 1 (tie). Mali
  • 1 (tie). Togo
  • 4. Benin
  • 4 (tie). Egypt
  • 4 (tie). Gabon
  • 4 (tie). Ghana
  • 4 (tie). India
  • 4 (tie). Kenya
  • 4 (tie). Libya
  • 4 (tie). Niger
  • 4 (tie). Sudan
  • 13. Angola
  • 13 (tie). Gambia
  • 13 (tie). Guinea
  • 13 (tie). Malawi
  • 13 (tie). Rwanda
  • 13 (tie). Uganda
  • 13 (tie). Zambia
  • 20. Algeria
  • 20 (tie). Burundi
  • 20 (tie). Comoros
  • 20 (tie). Eritrea
  • 20 (tie). Lesotho
  • 20 (tie). Liberia
  • 20 (tie). Morocco
  • 20 (tie). Namibia
  • 20 (tie). Nigeria
  • 20 (tie). Senegal
  • 20 (tie). Somalia
  • 20 (tie). Tunisia
  • 32. Botswana
  • 32 (tie). Cameroon
  • 32 (tie). Djibouti
  • 32 (tie). Ethiopia
  • 32 (tie). Tanzania
  • 32 (tie). Zimbabwe
  • 38. Mauritius
  • 38 (tie). Swaziland
  • 40. Cape Verde
  • 40 (tie). Madagascar
  • 40 (tie). Mauritania
  • 40 (tie). Mozambique
  • 40 (tie). Seychelles
  • 45. Ivory Coast
  • 45 (tie). South Sudan
  • 47. Burkina Faso
  • 47 (tie). Sierra Leone
  • 47 (tie). South Africa
  • 50. Guinea-Bissau
  • 51. Equatorial Guinea
  • 51 (tie). Republic of Congo
  • 53. São Tomé and Príncipe
  • 54. Central African Republic
  • 55. Democratic Republic of the Congo

Statistics Saturday: Nations of Europe Ordered By Length


This listing of nations of a particular continent proved to be the most challenging of any continent so far. This is due to the large number of European countries with names the same length as one another. The student of history knows that is a consequence of the famous Treaty of Ulm of 1802, which I need hardly tell you closed out the war of 1805. You’ve probably read something about it. If you haven’t, you should, as it’s a fascinating problem of history and geography.

  • 1. India [ It’s working! I tell you, it’s working! ]
  • 1 (tie). Italy
  • 1 (tie). Malta
  • 1 (tie). Spain
  • 5. Cyprus
  • 5 (tie). France
  • 5 (tie). Greece
  • 5 (tie). Latvia
  • 5 (tie). Monaco
  • 5 (tie). Norway
  • 5 (tie). Poland
  • 5 (tie). Russia
  • 5 (tie). Serbia
  • 5 (tie). Sweden
  • 5 (tie). Turkey
  • 16. Albania
  • 16 (tie). Andorra
  • 16 (tie). Armenia
  • 16 (tie). Austria
  • 16 (tie). Belarus
  • 16 (tie). Belgium
  • 16 (tie). Croatia
  • 16 (tie). Denmark
  • 16 (tie). Estonia
  • 16 (tie). Finland
  • 16 (tie). Georgia
  • 16 (tie). Germany
  • 16 (tie). Hungary
  • 16 (tie). Iceland
  • 16 (tie). Ireland
  • 16 (tie). Moldova
  • 16 (tie). Romania
  • 16 (tie). Ukraine
  • 34. Bulgaria
  • 34 (tie). Portugal
  • 34 (tie). Slovakia
  • 34 (tie). Slovenia
  • 38. Lithuania
  • 38 (tie). Macedonia
  • 40. Azerbaijan
  • 40 (tie). Kazakhstan
  • 40 (tie). Luxembourg
  • 40 (tie). Montenegro
  • 40 (tie). San Marino
  • 45. Switzerland
  • 46. Vatican City
  • 47. Liechtenstein
  • 48. Czech Republic
  • 49. The Netherlands
  • 50. The United Kingdom
  • 51. Bosnia and Herzegovina

Statistics Saturday: Nations of Oceania Ordered By Length


(This one was complicated by my learning that “Oceania” still looks wrong to me even when I have independent evidence that I’m spelling it right.)

  1. Fiji
  2. Niue
  3. India [ I choose to think my ploy to increase my Indian readership is working. ]
  4. Nauru
  5. Palau
  6. Samoa
  7. Tonga
  8. Tuvalu
  9. Vanuatu
  10. Kiribati
  11. Australia
  12. New Zealand
  13. Cook Islands
  14. Solomon Islands
  15. Marshall Islands
  16. Papua New Guinea
  17. Federated States of Micronesia

Statistics Saturday: Nations of North America Organized By Length


(This ended up more complicated than I figured, because I forgot Caribbean countries would be in the list.)

  1. Cuba
  2. Saba
  3. Aruba
  4. Haiti
  5. India [ Note: Again, not properly a nation of North America, but I’m trying to increase my Indian readership. ]
  6. Belize
  7. Canada
  8. Mexico
  9. Panama
  10. Bermuda
  11. Bonaire
  12. Curaçao
  13. Grenada
  14. Jamaica
  15. Anguilla
  16. Barbados
  17. Dominica
  18. Honduras
  19. Greenland
  20. Guatemala
  21. Nicaragua
  22. Costa Rica
  23. Guadeloupe
  24. Martinique
  25. Montserrat
  26. El Salvador
  27. Puerto Rico
  28. Saint Lucia
  29. The Bahamas
  30. Saint Martin
  31. Sint Maarten
  32. United States
  33. Cayman Islands
  34. Navassa Island
  35. Sint Eustatius
  36. Saint Barthélemy
  37. Clipperton Island
  38. Dominican Republic
  39. Antigua and Barbuda
  40. Trinidad and Tobago
  41. Saint Kitts and Nevis
  42. British Virgin Islands
  43. Turks and Caicos Islands
  44. Saint Pierre and Miquelon
  45. United States Virgin Islands
  46. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Statistics Saturday: Nations Of South America Organized By Length


  1. Peru
  2. Chile
  3. India [NOTE: not technically a nation of South America, but I’m trying to increase my Indian readership and every little mention helps.]
  4. Brazil
  5. Guyana
  6. Bolivia
  7. Ecuador
  8. Uruguay
  9. Colombia
  10. Paraguay
  11. Suriname
  12. Argentina
  13. Venezuela
  14. French Guiana
  15. Falkland Islands
  16. South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

Statistics Saturday on Tuesday: January 2015 Readership


I’m trying to do my monthly review of readership statistics near the start of every month, and this is pretty near the start, and what the heck, it’s not like there’s anything amusing going on the 2nd of February anyway.

Well, readership was down in January, compared to December, dropping from 1,251 views and 626 visitors to a relatively modest 1,071 views from 553 visitors. (That is keeping nearly the same number of views per visitor, though.) I’m a bit saddened by that, but it’s still a number of views, and distinct readers, that would have me thrilled as recently as September. And hey, it beat a thousand views, which is a nice symbolic threshold to beat.

WordPress’s new statistics page is stumbling into being slightly less awful, even if it’s still bad, but it does give some new information, like the number of comments received over the month — 93, in January, down from 138 in December, but up from 76 in November — and the number of likes received. There, at last, I could find a happy record high, with 382 likes in January, up from 360 in December and 240 in November. I’ll take it.

The most popular thing I ever do is list countries, so, let me give you this:

Country Number
United States 838
Canada 32
Australia 28
United Kingdom 16
New Zealand 16

So in short, apparently, the former SEATO nations are a stronghold of my readership, if you believe those numbers represent number of readers from any particular country. If you don’t, you can take them to be what you like. Countries that sent me just the one reader in January were Bermuda, Bulgaria, Colombia, Croatia, France, Hong Kong, Ireland, Isle of Man, Mexico, Norway, and Turkey. Ireland’s the only repeat from December. And my India readership went from four to nine, at which rate of growth it’ll take only two years and two months for everybody in India to be reading my little humor blog here, so watch for that, won’t you please?

The most popular posts for January were:

There hasn’t been much good stuff bringing people to me in search terms, unfortunately. Some queries for specific articles like S J Perelman’s Captain Future, Block That Kick! or Mark Twain’s Awful, Terrible Medieval Romance, and for facts about Turbo, but nothing really better than “nebus furniture”. Also, Canada was never part of SEATO. Sorry about that.

Statistics Saturday for the New Year, or December Anyway


First: I have another batch of mathematics comics to talk about, over on the mathematics blog, because Comic Strip Master Command was really enthusiastic about pushing math topics on unsuspecting readers for the last week of 2014.

Second: It’s a new month! That justifies looking back over December 2014 and reviewing what was popular, so it can be more popular, and what countries sent me a lot of readers, and what ones barely did. Again, I don’t understand, but people like it.

It was another very popular month for the blog: 1,251 page views, as WordPress makes it out, which is not quite the Kinks-inflated 1,389 of October but still up from November’s 1,164. The number of unique visitors was down to 626 (from 676 in November and 895 in October), but I suspect that reflects things getting back to normal after the Kinks excitement. That’s a growth in views per visitor, though, from 1.72 to 2.00, which is probably a statistic of its own of some note.

The countries sending me the most readers were the United States (973), Australia (48), Canada (35), the United Kingdom (27), New Zealand (19), Brazil (14), Slovenia (12), and Spain (11), and I admit Slovenia took me by surprise, although, hi guys. I didn’t have you mixed up with Slovakia. Single-reader countries this time around were Belgium, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Lebanon, Pakistan, Sweden, and Venezuela. Belgium and Finland were single-reader countries last month (but not before that), although I see that New Zealand was last month and suddenly whoever read me then was joined by eighteen fellow countrymen. Hi, gang. My India readership grew from three to four, so that’s something.

The individual pages that got the most readers, and this is counting only 30 or more because there were thirteen that got 25 or more, and twenty that got 20 or more viewers, were:

  1. Calm Urged As Comic Strip _The Better Half_ Ends, which I guess shows how passionately people feel about a comic strip I always thought was a worn-down copy of The Lockhorns but somehow came first by a decade. I better not cross their fans anymore.
  2. On The Next Thrilling Episode Of Star Trek: The Next Generation, part of that little string I did of captioning a particularly exquisite moment of Next Generation actors in unusually shiny clothes.
  3. Little Nemo in Mathmagicland, in which I prematurely suspected Little Nemo’s caretakers of wishing him ill just because I have an irrational prejudice against volatile organic solvents.
  4. Statistics Saturday: What Average People Think Are Rodents Versus What Biologists Think Are Rodents, and again, I don’t dispute biologists’ conclusion that guinea pigs are rodents, I’m just saying, if we find out this decade that we were mistaken all along I’m not going to be too surprised.
  5. Is That Enough?, some grumbling about Christmas carols and the attempt to make one in the modern era.

There’s no good search term poetry this time around either, although there were a lot of people looking for information on The Better Half (the cartoonist gave it up for his own cartooning projects), as well as these evocative phrases: he gladest was in his fathers. for , unknown to his daughter “conrad” the old baron klugenstein, and alphabet percentages by 8 people workload, as well as mnemonic device for since and sense. For the last, I offer this: stalactites cling from the ceiling, while stalagmites grow from the ground. This won’t help with “since” and “sense”, but at least you’ll have “stalactites” and “stalagmites” worked out, and maybe make some progress on “ceiling” and “ground” too, and that’s something to be proud of as 2015 gets under way.

Finally, general readers might not know this, but WordPress has put in a new statistics page for people who want to study their own sites, and it is awful. Less information, spread out over more space, requiring more clicks: it’s like they read the modern book on redesigning computer stuff so everything about it is noticeably worse.

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


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

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

The five most popular postings this past month were:

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

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

Some popular search terms bringing people here include:

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