Friday, February 23, 2018

Zippy, Spivey, and Tormé

[Zippy, February 23, 2018.]

Griffy has accused Zippy of conjuring up “this seventies guy.” The seventies guy has asked Zippy to pray with him and “wash th’ 1980s away.” Zippy suspects that the guy may be a televangelist.

Zippy is on the right track: the seventies guy looks like a brown-haired incarnation of Gary Spivey, a self-described psychic, medium, and spiritual healer. Spivey appeared in three 2004 Zippy strips: this one, this one, and this one, each time sporting his signature helmet-like white wig.

Mel Tormé too has played a small role in the Zippy world. A 2016 strip namechecks Tormé. Two 1995 strips — this one and this one — have something to do with him. Alas, both strips are offline. It’s the second 1995 strip that might explain why Griffy considers Mel Tormé Spivey’s “diametric opposite.” The strip’s title: “Mel Is Good.” Mel Tormé was a genuine showman, with genuine talent. Bill Griffith must like his work.

As did my dad. We played this recording at his memorial.

Related reading
All OCA Zippy posts (Pinboard) : Mel Tormé and the NYT crossword : Mel Tormé on the vagaries of performance

[You can read Zippy daily at Comics Kingdom. “The Velvet Fog”: Tormé’s Homeric epithet.]

Comic books and Post headlines

In case you missed it: Dunning K. Trump’s picture of a safe school involves his chief of staff John Kelly as a gun-toting history teacher. “He’s a four-star Marine. He’s a tough cookie,” says Trump:

“So if he’s a teacher and if other friends of his from the Marines, if they’re teaching, or other people like that, I want them to have a gun. But more importantly, almost more importantly, nobody is going to attack that school, because they know General Kelly is the history teacher. He’s teaching about how we win wars, okay? And he’s got a concealed weapon. But they’re gonna know he’s got a concealed weapon, because we tell them that the bullets are going to be flying in the other direction.”
Trump’s masculinist dream is partly the stuff of a comic book (everyday fellow with secret powers, including perfect aim), partly the stuff of a New York Post headline (Retired General Takes Down Sicko).

If you don’t believe my transcription, watch here.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Bela sardines

[Click for a bigger catch.]

I bought them for the beautiful can and didn’t realize how good they would be. Bela sardines are meaty, so to speak, and intensely flavorful. They are probably the best sardines I’ve ever had. Too bad Bela doesn’t offer a skinless and boneless variety. Until it does, I will have to be a tough guy and have more of these, skin and bones and all.

Related reading
All OCA sardine posts (Pinboard)

[It is never the wrong time of day to think about sardines.]

Calling BS

Last night, at CNN’s Stand Up: The Students of Stoneman Douglas Demand Action, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said that eighteen-year-olds should not have rifles, and that bump stocks and automatic rifles “should be outlawed forever.” And then:

“And anybody who says different, I don’t know about other people, but Emma and I, we’re calling BS on that.”
Sheriff Israel was invoking Emma González’s refrain “We call BS.” I expect to hear those words with increasing frequency in the fight for gun control.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018


No 5. reads “I hear you.” Pathetic. One of the president’s suggestions: bring back mental institutions. Another: more guns, concealed on teachers, janitors, and administrators.

But kudos to Samuel Zeif, who spoke about the madness of selling “a weapon of war” as a retail product. And to Mark Barden, who spoke about the madness of arming teachers. “Madness” is my word, not theirs. But it’s madness.

I noticed that the only D.C. people present were from charter schools. Score one for Ms. DeVos. And why so much praising of the president for the direction in which he’s taking the country? (Taking is right.) Someone needs to find out how the participants for this listening session were selected.

Zippy and Kafka

[Zippy, February 21, 2018.]


You can withdraw from the sufferings of the world — that possibility is open to you and accords with your nature — but perhaps that withdrawal is the only suffering you might be able to avoid.

Franz Kafka, Aphorisms, trans. Willa and Edwin Muir (New York: Schocken, 2015).
Venn reading
All OCA Kafka posts : Kafka and Zippy posts : Zippy posts

[You can read Zippy daily at Comics Kingdom.]

“Swept strangely clean”

On the boulevard, the wind is blowing:

Guy de Maupassant, Like Death, trans. Richard Howard (New York: New York Review Books, 2017).

Economy: like an Imagist poem in prose.

Also from this novel
“La belle nature” : “What was it around him” : “All that has been, is now, and ever will be done by painters until the day of doom”

[Ezra Pound in a letter to Harriet Monroe, January 1915: “Poetry must be as well written as prose. . . . It must be as simple as De Maupassant’s best prose, and as hard as Stendahl’s.”]

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Needed: a word other than meddle

To meddle in an election? There must be a word that better captures the enormity.

Merriam-Webster’s definition of meddle: “to interest oneself in what is not one’s concern : interfere without right or propriety.” M-W gives a sample sentence from George Bernard Shaw: “I never meddle in other people’s private affairs.”

From Webster’s Second, a more eloquent definition: “to interest, engage, or concern oneself unnecessarily or impertinently; to interfere improperly.” And from a W2 note on meddle and related words: “To meddle (with or in) is to concern oneself officiously or impertinently with another’s affairs.”

Notice: to interest oneself in what is not one’s concern; to concern oneself officiously or impertinently with another’s affairs. Meddle suggests individual interference in another person’s life. To meddle is to be a buttinsky or a Nosey Parker, to plant doubts, to offer unsolicited advice, to ask questions to which the only proper response is None of your B.I. bizness! To engage in a well-funded operation to sow national discord and sway an election: that goes well beyond meddling.

More appropriate words: to interfere in an election, to subvert democracy. “Russian meddling” is too trivial a description of what’s gone on. I’m going to avoid using it.

I don’t know what B.I. stands for either. But that’s what we said in Brooklyn.

Netflix as TLC

From an e-mail with the subject line “Michael, we just added a docuseries you might like.” It’s called Strippers :

Explore the personal and professional lives of the dancers who take it all off for cold, hard cash in Scotland’s three biggest cities.
I’m not sure what in my viewing history would prompt Netflix’s algorithms to push this “docuseries” at me. My best guess: the documentary Voyeur (dir. Myles Kane and Josh Koury, 2017) about Gay Talese and a peeping-Tom motel owner. If so, bad algorithm.

Earlier this month I had the thought that Netflix resembles a crummy video store. Now it seems to be turning into TLC.

[And the writing: “personal and professional lives,” “take it all off,” “cold, hard cash.” What really gets me though is “Scotland’s three biggest cities”: Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Glasgow?]

Boolean days

Just wondering how many families have reinvented Boolean operators when playing the children’s game Guess Who?

“Does your person have facial hair OR glasses?”