60s Popeye: Popeye’s Tea Party, with a lot of casual tea-sing


We travel back in time with Jack Kinney studios to 1960 today. Popeye’s Tea Party has a story credited to Jim Rivind, and direction by Hugh Fraser. Jim Rivind is a new name around here. Hugh Fraser is all over the place.

The title’s almost a warning that there’s depictions of “Indians” and these are not done with an attention to research into the people who actually lived there, or how these people were perceived by white folks of 1773. They don’t do much more than wear feathered headbands, but, still. If you don’t see any reason you need to put up with that nonsense in your recreational reading you are right. Catch you tomorrow.

Once again we start with O G Wotasnozzle and his time machine. I swear, Wotasnozzle did other stuff when he took over Elzie Segar’s Sappo. It does make me wonder what’s gained by using this frame, though. I understand thinking that it helps because it explains why Popeye and company are in, here, pre-Revolutionary Boston. I don’t know that this is a thing anybody needed explained, though. It’s not like Popeye and the Dragon explained why everyone was in this setting, or would have been better for it.

But the frame offers a lot of familiarity, and people love familiarity. We complain about it in kids entertainment, but kids aren’t that different from people in that way. Maybe Jack Kinney understood this would be affectionately remembered. Or appreciated how much time it filled with stock animation.

This time around Popeye’s sent to meet the rest of the cast ahead of the Boston Tea Party. Brutus is the tax collector, proclaiming the tax will be “the same as usual plus 50% for tax collector Brutus”. This reflects the American notion that the Tea Act was the British government imposing big new taxes just to be meanyheads. Wimpy’s cast as the owner of Ye Red Rooster, an inn offering “Tea Burgers, Tea bone Burgers, Tea Spinach, Tea 2c/plain, plus 50% tax for Brutus”. Got that sign up pretty fast. It’s a fair reason to have Wimpy in the action (Brutus was inevitable). Olive Oyl and Swee’Pea are along because the cartoon needed some more ineffective characters.

Not that anyone’s very efficient during the Tea Party raid. It allows for a lot of little jokes, on the order of Swee’Pea shooting arrows at Brutus’s rear end without Brutus ever noticing. Or Wimpy pulling out an arrow to find a hamburger on its end and declaring “I can’t waste this shot!” If there’s a particular charm it’s the dialogue, which has a bunch of good sentences. Popeye declaring “No taxation without resentment,” which is true enough. Olive Oyl calling to a Popeye that’s hurting through the air, “Look out, Popeye!” and Popeye asking, “For what?” Brutus grabbing Olive Oyl with the invitatino to “come up and see my riggings”. Swee’Pea saved from falling in the harbor with the declaration, “A nail in time saved mine!” The patter-heavy dialogue gets away from the cartoon at the end, as Brutus in stocks offers the deal, “I don’t tax you and you don’t tax me?” Popeye, tossing ‘tax’ labels on him, says, “OK, but this is for amusement tax, and that’s tax-free!” It’s got the shape of joking patter but doesn’t get there.

Popeye is trapped in the muzzle of a cannon. Wimpy, wearing a bird feather Indian-style, pours tea almost but not quite into Popeye's pipe.
That’s it, Wimpy! Pour that tea kind of near-ish Popeye’s pipe!

There’s also a surprising number of background voices. They don’t sound like Jackson Beck/Jack Mercer/Mae Questel doubling things up either. I’m curious if they just recorded whoever happened to be nearby. Also why they didn’t just tell the regular actors to do a couple lines of grumbling in a different voice.

The animation’s a bit cheaper than usual, to my eye. There’s what feels like a lot of cartoon where it’s just the characters clinging to a mast that rocks back and forth. And one moment (at about 1:55) where Popeye floats off the bottom of the screen, revealing he’s legless below the knees. There’s a bunch of misaligned characters or characters fluttering through objects too. There’s a few attempts at having a character moving toward or away from the camera. Popeye falling into the harbor. Brutus dragging Olive Oyl into the riggings. They can’t make much of an impression against characters disappearing or appearing. Well, they wouldn’t spend so much time with Wotasnozzle if they weren’t trying to save on the animation budget.

Why I can no longer go on the Star Trek forum


Listen, if Early Grey were Captain Picard’s favorite tea, then that would be his default setting for “tea”. That he orders “Earl Grey” means he must most often have something else. No matter how much we like our favorite we sometimes want something different and it so happens that we the viewers just happen to keep catching him when he is not having his actual favorite tea.

Since he also specifies “hot” I conclude ordinarily Picard enjoys iced tea. I bet it’s with a three-parts-sugar-to-one-part-tea ratio.

Anyway I have forgotten my password. It was “one one A, two B”.

Statistics Saturday: Number Of Times I’ve Seen Builders Tea Since I Bought That One Box In 2015


This refers to a box of Builders Tea that I got in March of 2015.

Total

0.

In Detail

Year Sightings of Builders Tea
2015 (March-Dec) 0
2016 0
2017 0
2018 0
2019 0

Not included: 2020 figures owing to incompleteness of the year.

Reference: The Panic Broadcast: The Whole Story of Orson Welles’ Legendary Radio Show Invasion From Mars, Howard Koch.

The Tea Wants My Attention


I may have mentioned that I like to drink tea. If I haven’t mentioned that I like to drink tea, let me mention that I like to drink tea here: I like to drink tea. So I hope we’re all caught up here. This past week I’ve been drinking tea from work, from the office. They got the tea from … somewhere … somehow. I don’t know. The tea bags, though, have these little tabs trying to be entertaining, and I’m fascinated. Oh, there’s some of mere usual ones, like the warning that minds and parachutes function only when open. But then there’s pieces like this:

Among economics, the real world is often a special case.

OK. If that doesn’t wow you, though, try this:

Pawn shops are loan-ly places.

It’s no Kabibble Kabaret, I admit, since it doesn’t openly hate women. And yet the tea just keeps on giving, for example:

Dressmakers treated customers ruff in the 16th century.

If that hasn’t got you acknowledging the existence of a joke, please consider this one:

Indolent philosopher: Mr I Can’t.

I would not dare speak for you. But for me, I wish to read all of these aloud, imitating whoever it is Saturday Night Live had in the 1980s to imitate Gene Shalit. And, at the end of each reading, saying loudly, “Wink!” while wincing half of my face in a way that suggests I know the concept of a wink but haven’t figured out how to do it myself. Anyway I don’t know how long these tea bags will hold out, but they certainly inspire in me the thought: huh.

Go Juice


Maybe you heard about this discovery about a way to make fuel out of coffee. If you didn’t hear about this discovery about a way to make fuel out of coffee, let me bring you up to speed. So, apparently there’s this way they discovered to make fuel out of coffee. When I put it that way it sounds like that’s all anyone is talking about.

It started out with an accident, when Dr Mano Misra at the University of Nevada, Reno, made coffee one night and didn’t drink it. Now I don’t normally feel envy at the achievements of real academics. I don’t really play that field anymore, and anyway, how many mathematicians do you know have opinions about the plots in Gil Thorp? But here, I realize, I could totally have made this discovery myself. I have a lot of experience in my life not drinking coffee. I used to be limited in discovering things in coffee I didn’t drink by how I didn’t make coffee before I didn’t drink it.

But this past decade? I’ve made a surprising lot of coffee. This is because there’s a complimentary coffee bar at this overgrowing farmer’s market on the west side of town. We go there to get our pet rabbit vegetables and to see what they’ve expanded to doing this week. It’s great. Gourmet popcorn? Sure! Fresh-pressed olive oil? Why not! Gelato? Yeah, they can do that, why not? There’s also a great wall of succulents that gets moved to a new place every time you step in, even if you only stepped out for three minutes and came back in because you’re looking for a lost hat. If you’re ever in town (Lansing) you should stop in. You can find it by looking for the massive parking lots that nobody can escape. Use the one on the west side of town.

Anyway, they have a complementary coffee bar, so for a long while there I started making coffee. What was I going to do, not get coffee just because I don’t much like coffee? Besides, they have all sorts of things to make coffee taste less like coffee. Flavored beans, for a start. Sugars, in real (sugar) and imaginary (Splenda) and complex (cinnamon maple sprinkles) versions. Creams ranging from light to dark to postmodern inquiries of the nature of whitening coffee. Whipped cream. You can put so much stuff in the coffee you don’t even need the coffee. And after seven years of going there nearly weekly I’ve realized: you know, they have some tea I could get instead. It’s boring tea, but then I have a deep, fundamental boringness to myself and so that’s right for me.

So there was this period I was making coffee, although instead of not drinking it I would drink it instead, because what was I going to do, waste coffee? And cinnamon maple sprinkles? I was raised in too big a family to do something like that. But if I had just used the coffee I was making and didn’t drink it, then this is a discovery I totally could have made, if I had noticed anything.

The story then is Dr Misra noticed a layer of oil floating on the coffee. That’s something I didn’t know coffee could do. I thought layers of oil formation were only done by fossils and peanut butter. I mean the peanut butter that’s so good you can’t use it for sandwiches because you’re always stirring the oil back into it. Misra found the oil, though, and didn’t think to stir it in. Using it for motor fuel is a breakthrough, though, and one I wouldn’t have made. I was pretty sure you only put mysterious fluids in cars if you’re in a low-effort Disney movie made between 1958 and 1982. So it’s not enough to observe a thing, you also have to have an idea what to do with it. So that’s something I wouldn’t have though to try.

What gets me is that if you can get oil out of coffee, then there must have been oil in the coffee to start with. Right? I feel like this has to be right. But then that means someone put the oil in. But who goes around injecting oil into coffee beans? I understand it happening once or twice, as a prank. But that wouldn’t stay funny forever. On the other hand, everything I know about this is a couple years old, so maybe someone was playing a nasty prank on the University of Nevada, Reno. Or maybe the oil really comes from the coffee cups, and the coffee is just a red herring. I bet they checked that possibility, though. I don’t know anybody who drinks herring.

What Has This Fictional Tea Cup Seen?


Back in the Like 40s Walt Kelly was drawing comic book versions of fairy tales and that’s great. He needed to do something like Pogo was getting under way. Plus it gave him excuses to draw stuff like this dragon that thought he was a cow and never knew otherwise until the story started. I don’t know if that’s an actual fairy tale or one he just made up, but either way, if you’re starting out with a dragon that doesn’t know it’s no cow you’re in good with me. I have no explanation for this.

Anyway I was looking at the art in “Thumbelisa,” the story that I had always thought was “Thumbelina” but I guess Walt Kelly had the script so who am I to argue? And it’s got a lot of classical comic-book fairy-tale art, with matronly mice and stuffy old moles who wear eyeglasses even though their eyes are always closed. And, not really saying anything, tea pots that have eyes and a mouth and are presumably characters in their own stories that we aren’t seeing. So here’s an example, with the tea pot I was thinking about on the right, in blue.

Mister Mole exiting the room, speaking to Dame Mouse. 'I see sweet Thumbelisa is speechless with joy. Now I can't stay for tea, but I'd like to show you something in the underground passageway between our two homes, Dame Mouse.' Dame Mouse follows, while Thumbelisa stands, head slumping between her shoulders. In the corner: a tea service set, with faces.
Also: does that fireplace have a face, or it it just a couple of plates sitting on a shelf? Also to the left of the fireplace is that a grandfather clock or one of those old-fashioned lollipop-shaped scales like you see in silent comedies and Pink Panther shorts about people figuring they have to lose ten pounds by next week?

And then I looked at the cups. I mean, really looked.

Cheery teapot sitting on the table, beside one furious-looking cup and one shocked-looking cup that vaguely resembles a Charles Schulz character.
“I don’t know what you’re so unhappy about,” says the saucer. “You’ve got it way better than me.”

That cup on the left. That is one furious tea cup. Even the pot’s cheer is doing nothing to tame it. That tea cup has clearly just finished a fifteen-minute shouting tirade covering every topic from the genocide we’re not talking about in Myanmar through sexism in the video game industry through they’re trying to remake The Munsters only they live in Brooklyn now through to they call everything a “reboot” even when it’s just “remaking” a show or movie through to what the flipping heck is wrong with Funky Winkerbean to whether anyone in power is going to be held responsible for the Republican party poisoning Flint, Michigan’s drinking water and now the other cup is completely unable to respond in any way except to look on with the face that Linus van Pelt has when he’s rendered speechless. What has happened to this cup that it’s so infuriated? What it in its life that it’s come to this point? It’s not lapsang souchong, is it? Because that at least would be an overreaction. But it’s something.

In Which I Am Surprised How Little Time British People Leave Tea Bags In


I’d been reading Marcus du Sautoy’s The Number Mysteries: A Mathematical Odyssey Through Everyday Life because I still haven’t decided whether to make an inter-library loan request for Martin Albrow’s Bureaucracy or just to give up on the idea of fun altogether. Or whether I mean David Beetham’s Bureaucracy instead.

Anyway, de Sautoy gets going in a right jaunty chapter about how tea bag shapes were revolutionized in the 1990s when Tetley thought to try “circular” and it was incredibly popular. And PG had to think very hard about a shape not so fusty and old-fashioned as “mostly square I guess”. But the book mentioned part of the design challenge was how long the average British tea-maker left the bag in the hot water. Apparently it’d be as little as twenty seconds, short enough that in the mostly-square-I-guess bags not even all the tea leaves would get wet.

It’s left me stunned. I grew up with the American fashion of making tea, which is to put the bag into the water and leave it there forever. The only reason we ever throw out a mug is because it’s gotten stuffed full of spent tea bags, jammed into a dense mass of compressed diamond-like sourness. But I know that’s extreme. I hadn’t realized that the British way of making tea was so extreme on the other side. It’s left me wondering how tea was ever rationed, back in the day. It seems like even in the heights of wartime and Austerity Britain rationing they could’ve satisfied everyone’s tea tastes by just shipping a cardboard box labelled “tea” with instructions to bump it against the teapot three times before serving.

This is the eternal joy of learning: it makes you realize how little you understand the world.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

Investor confidence returned today when traders found a bunch of pictures of capybaras, including a bunch that are all other animals resting on top of capybaras that don’t seem phased by this at all, and now everybody also wants to be a capybara.

215

Statistics February: And What They Are And/Or Were


And now to review my readership statistics for February 2016. They should be a touch better than those of February 2012, what with this blog not existing back then.

So the key statistic: 1,107. That’s down from 1,211, and from 1,593, and from 4,528. That’s the number of page views the last several months. I would characterize this as recovering from the Apartment 3-G death throes. This is back to just below what the readership was in July and August of 2015. And let’s not forget, February was a much shorter month than July and August. If we prorate the daily average to a 31-day month that suggests 1225.6 readers. That last three-fifths of a reader would be someone just here for the pictures.

I know some of what I need to do is chat more on other people’s blogs and do some proper reblogging or posting more headsup. It’s just so hard what with that being kind of like human contact-ish and all. But it’s also the … what’s the word … decent thing to do. Fun and all that, even, once it’s done, which is probably enough reason to do it.

The number of unique visitors, says WordPress, dropped to 629, down from 645 in what WordPress calls janvier because that’s all it remembers from taking four years of French in high school, and 785 in decembre. That’s again getting back to pre-3-G-ocalypse levels. There were 178 likes in February, which is down a fair bit from January (272) and December (278) but maybe everybody was in a fowl mood. There were 52 comments, down from 66 but up from 40, because the number of comments obeys no known rules.

For the first time in months the top five posts of the month were not dominated by Nothing Is Happening In Apartment 3-G. It was only two of the top five posts. But I can still look over what was popular here, and it was dominated by … stuff … I … didn’t write. Okay. Often read in February were:

The United States sent me more readers than any other single country in February. It always is. 834 of my page views were for there. Second place went to Canada, with 47 page views. Then Germany with 34 and the United Kingdom with 27. Then we get into countries that don’t have English as a primary language, such as France, or that don’t have a language, such as Australia. Singapore sent me two viewers. India sent me four.

Single-viewer countries this time around were Albania, Algeria, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, China, Curaçao, El Salvador, Ethiopia, the European Union, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Kuwait, Malaysia, Moldova, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland, and Vietnam. The European Union isn’t a country. Ireland is the only one that was a single-viewer country last month and nobody’s on a three-month streak.

Among the search terms bringing people around here the past month were a lot of Apartment 3-G as ever. Among the intersting terms were “new penny 2015”, “celestial seasonings blackpool”, and “zippy the pinhead i promise not to invade new jersey”, along with “make a comics strip about cosette side by side with the stranger in the dark”.

The month starts with 32,541 page views in total and some 16,659 unique viewers. There are 639 people listed as following me on WordPress. If you’d like to, I’ve now figured out how to make sure there’s a little sticker at the upper left of the page to make it easy to follow on WordPress. There’s another button a bit below that to follow by e-mail, if that’s your fancy. Or by RSS, if that’s your other fancy. And I’m on Twitter, also, as @Nebusj, if you want to follow that too. Look, just find something and follow it. That’s all I ask.

In Which I Guess I’ll Do Until The Souchong Guy Arrives


“Are you the souchong guy?” It’s not a question I expected to be asked. I doubt I’m alone. If any of you reading this now (or later, I’ll allow it) were expecting to be asked that please write in. I’d like to see how many are. But I wasn’t expecting it, so I was even worse than my average in responding to the guy at the farmers’ market. Not so bad as the whole “do you want to buy this pair of pants” fiasco, but worse than my average.

It’s really a grocery store, maybe a supermarket. It’s also got a garden center. But it styles itself a farmers market and I think there’s farmers involved with it somewhere. They carry the alt-weekly, and plastic bins of candy. And they’ve got a wine bar, so you maybe have the place scoped out now. I was there to get vegetables for our pet rabbit, and candy for our pet us, but I was wandering toward the tea section with the intent of getting tea. It’s the store where I got that scary box of Builders tea that I thought might punch me if I didn’t get it. They haven’t had it since, maybe after customer complaints about being punched by tea.

“Are you the souchong guy?” And the guy, who either worked for the store or was making off with one of their dollies, explained there was a guy with a beard who’d been looking for lapsang souchong tea. I was not that guy. I have a beard, and I drink tea, but that’s as far as things go.

I have a beard for considered reasons. If I didn’t grow a beard, I would have to shave, or have someone else shave me. And I can do that, when directed to by my love, or before that, my mother. Shaving once every two or three months may not be perfect. But it is between 98.3 and 98.9 percent of my ideal state of my face vanishing into a cloud of hair and spilled tea. That’s as much as one can hope for in this fallen world.

I don’t mean to imply beardedness dictates tea-drinking. I could drink coffee. I often get some at the farmers market’s complimentary coffee bar. But most of the time when I get coffee it’s because I didn’t hear the question right. I never drank enough coffee to get over the fact that it tastes like that. Tea, though, I’ve long since drank enough tea to accept that it tastes like that. The souchong guy might usually get coffee, but when he gets tea, he wants a tea that still takes time to get used to, and thus the souchong guy’s question.

The store guy explained that they hadn’t had any souchong, but he made some calls and found the last couple cases of Twinings souchong tea in the area. And they put it up on the shelves, ready for purchase. That’s sweet. The action, I mean. And I figured that since I was open to tea or tea-like products, why not go with this? After all, if it’s good enough for one Lansing-area guy with a beard, why not another?

As I drove home I got to thinking. I’m supposed to just believe a person asked for a specific kind of tea from the tea-selling staff at the store? I have a hard enough time working up the courage to impose on fast-food workers my preferred choice for lunch. To ask for something that isn’t even on sale there would be impossible. Oh, I hear of people going off and asking for things they’d like from stores that might sell these things, but I always took them to be the stuff of fantasy.

At this point my parents would like to point out the time when I was maybe five years old and my aunt asked what I wanted for Christmas. And I described this awesome toy spaceship. This sent my aunt on a crazed search through every toy store in northern New Jersey. The search ended when she realized that she had assumed I was talking about a toy that actually existed in any form anywhere, and I had not. I just answered what I would like, and never mind what exists. My aunt eventually talked to me again.

But! The situation is completely different. My aunt has, so far as I know, never even been in this farmers market and has no responsibility for the tea selection. Why would she have anything to do with souchong guy? I bet they had more souchong than they knew what to do with, and figured I was an easy mark for a little beard-based flattery.

Well, the souchong’s not bad with a bit of cream or milk. I can get used to it and call that liking it.

In Which I Give In To A Tea Menace


I had been looking around the tea aisle because, as mentioned, I’m one of those people, and came across an honestly menacing and quite large box of a brand I hadn’t heard of before. It proclaimed its contents to be Make Mine A Builders Tea, “Britain’s Cuppa”, and as you can see from the picture if I don’t forget to include it, it’s got the styling of hazard signs warning you that the road is going to be torn up and there’s going to be dug-up roadbeds and people wielding things that make sparks at what sure looks like the waffle iron ordinarily hidden underneath the asphalt.

A box of 'Mike Mine a Builders' tea bags, with a warning that Britain wasn't built on camomile.
A box of ‘Make Mine A Builders’ tea bags. Note the plush toy bunny in the background peering over the table to see what’s going on.

I’m not seriously ashamed to admit it’s the first time I’ve been intimidated by a box of tea, because its cover copy suggests that if I don’t buy it they’ll send a pack of football hooligans over to wallop me silly and stuff tea bags down my pockets. It warns, “Britain wasn’t built on camomile”, and further that “Fancy, frilly, flowery teas are all very well. But to get through a busy day, us Brits need a strong, satisfying brew. The type that gets right to the heart of your thirst.” I should point out I’m not a Brit, although I have spent nearly a whole week in England, where I enjoyed a visit to the Blackpool Pleasure Beach amusement park on an early July day nearly hot enough that the carbon dioxide wasn’t liquefying out of the air and raining down on us. It wasn’t a day for the water rides, due to icebergs.

The tea goes on to explain how making a proper tea is much like a sturdy building. Much like tea, you construct buildings by putting a bag full of building parts into a large pot of hot water and then, after a while, taking them out again, and finding there’s nowhere you can put the bag that won’t leave a puddle of mis-colored water where you don’t want it, and it’s starting to burn your hands, so you scoot over to the trash bin and try to toss it in cleanly, and miss. This is why so many suburban developments have to have swooping, curved roads, so that the houses look like they were built street-facing.

It’s the comparison to camomile as a particularly un-manly tea that’s got me, not least because who knew that tea was really missing gender essentialism, somehow? But a while back I was tossing out a box of Celestial Seasonings Tummy Mint Wellness tea, which probably would make the Builders Tea people explode if they heard about it, and I noticed on the back an actual, honest-to-goodness, somewhat alarming warning:

WARNING: If you are taking prescription medication, or are pregnant or nursing, consult your health care provider prior to using this product. Persons with allergies to the daisy family may be sensitive to chamomile.

Also apparently chamomile is a kind of daisy, and there’s different ways to spell it. The thing is while Builders seems ready to send roving packs of b’hoys wielding cudgels and shouting things like “Oi!” at people not drinking manly enough teas, apparently it’s conceivable you could end up in hospital with a severe case of chamomile. It’s not everyone who can say their life was endangered by the Celestial Seasonings corporation, at least besides the people who have to actually pick the tea leaves, and Celestial Seasonings probably subcontracts that job out to some company whose actions they can plausibly deny anyway. But then b’hoys were a 19th-century Bowery thing, out of place and somewhat anachronistic for modern Britain, so everybody’s on an equal footing again.

But the discovery that chamomile might be the world’s most dangerous tea not actually regularly containing guncotton was surprising, although not so surprising as if it actually exploded out from under me. Particularly I wondered why about eight percent (by volume) of the Internet and the columns of Dear Crazy Abby wasn’t entirely warnings about tea. I mentioned this on Usenet and a friend helpfully pointed out that according to Google, there were 3,750,000 matches for “Chamomile warnings” compared to 7,350,000 for “Snooki”. I suppose tea being half as threatening as Snooki is about the right balance of things. But I get completely different numbers trying it now, with much more concern about Snooki and far less about chamomile, so either we as a society have come to peace with tea recently or Google’s decided we need to stop asking questions about chamomile.

The Builders tea was fair enough, by the way. I haven’t seen another box since.

They Also Warn Of Whimsical Dishes


I bought this neat little tea-making gadget, good for bagged or loose-leaf teas, because yeah, I’m that kind of person. You put the tea and the hot water into the main reservoir, and then you set the whole thing on top of your cup, and it drizzles out the center, and hope that when you lift the gadget up again it stops pouring, and if it doesn’t, you buy a replacement tea-making gadget, like I did in the previous sentence.

I noticed that packed with it was an advert asking me to “peruse our monthly newsletter with entertaining and interesting insights into the history and enjoyment of tea”, which is terrifying enough and a deeper connection than I really feel like for a company that sold me a tea-making gadget. Then it went on to ask that I “drop in on our lively bulletin board — you’ll meet tea-loving friends and find answers to all your tea questions.”

On the one hand, trying to strike up conversations with people with whom I share exactly one known trait — tea-drinking — is terrifying. The idea that I should have multiple tea questions ready for them to answer is all the worse. And on the other hand I’m fascinated by the idea of what an Internet community of tea-drinking people is like. And then I remember that since it’s an Internet community it’s a group of people telling one another that they drink tea wrong. Still, imagine the flame wars they must have.

It further encourages me to “take part in our monthly contest and discover the whimsical dishes created by people with a passion for cooking and tea”. That’s the sort of advertising copy to make me hide under the bed and feel vaguely bad about eating, having tea, or enjoying whimsy.

Imported Tea. Also, Comics.


It’s easy to forget that comic strips that’ve been around since the Battle of Manzikert, puttering on without anyone really liking them, earned their spot by being funny in the ancient past. That’s why I’m glad that Comics Kingdom, particularly, has a rich page of vintage strips so that I can see that Mort Walker and Dik Browne’s Hi and Lois really was … well, hilarious is a bit strong, but at least it was reliably funny in that Mid-50s Sitcom Moderne fashion, back in the 1950s. And the vintage strips allow for the rediscovery of aspects that the strip has dropped, like the number of boardroom jokes at the company where Hi works, or the fear of the god-like computer making decisions for the company. Some recurring gags got dropped because you just don’t do jokes like that anymore, and I’m thinking here of the Chinese Laundry. Chinese Laundry gags were discontinued sometime about 1970, when Racist Joke Command discovered there were a number of people from non-white countries who drive taxis and ordered a switch to joking about that instead.

And then there’s something like this one rerun last Thursday (originally run the 12th of July, 1957), which delights me in many ways. There’s the faint 50s Whitebread Xenophobia, particularly, at the idea of those scary exotic weird moon-man foods like imported tea or bagels or pizza or eggs Benedictus. (Is there anything weirder than running across a late-50s or early-60s punchline that depends on the idea that “eating pizza” is inherently a funny thing to do? Yes: it’s people freaking out at the “long-haired” Beatles of 1964, when they had individual hair follicles reaching out as much as three-quarters of an inch from their scalps.) I should be sympathetic: the 1950s in America were a time when suitable nutrition was believed to be pasty white things boiled into uniform shapeless mush, as seen on the plates of comic strip characters ever since. But she’s scared of tea.

And then there’s also the idea of being dependent on the recipe for a tea. I concede it’s possible for there to be tea that requires special preparation. But I also insist that if you go with “put it in boiling water; after a couple minutes, remove, if that’s what you like. Then put in sugar and milk if you like that” you’re going to be able to make a fairly palatable tea regardless of how finely imported it is. It’s maybe not as safe as making macaroni and cheese from a box, but, it’s still not something risky like making powdered oatmeal.

I guess what I’m saying is, if there is a Peak Hi And Lois this might well be it.

Lois buys some 'imported tea' despite her fear that 'those foreign things require special recipes' sometimes.
Mort Walker and Dik Browne’s Hi and Lois for the 12th of July, 1957. Possibly the most Hi and Lois-iest Hi and Lois to be found.

Meanwhile, while I was busy last week, my mathematics blog had two comic strip roundup post: the First Of The Year Edition, first, and then the second one, in which I give my best guess about what Berkeley Breathed thought was Jon Bon Jovi’s shorts size in 1989. If you missed the comics roundup, but read Bloom County obsessively back when everybody did, then you already know which strips I’m talking about in there. Also, I fiddled with the WordPress theme over there, from one I was just a little bit dissatisfied with to a new one that I’m dissatisfied with in different ways, which is always exciting.