moose, marriage, pocket history of sex

March 28th, 2009 | Uncategorized

My pal Cathy Resmer who works for our local alt weekly Seven Days took some great videos yesterday morning at the Statehouse. 300 people descended on the Governor’s office to tell him how peeved they were with his announcement that he’s going to veto the same sex marriage bill pending in the legislature. Things are getting pretty exciting up here in the north woods.


As evidenced also by these fresh honkin’ moose tracks I found behind the house this morning.


See how close it was to the house? My glove is next to the hoofprint.


vandenburgh review

And look! The book review I’ve been telling you about has finally been published. I reviewed Jane Vandenburgh’s memoir A Pocket History of Sex in the Twentieth Century for the New York Times Book Review this week. It’s a graphic review of a regular, non-graphic book–it was a fun exercise, and I was very pleased to be invited to try it.

196 Responses to “moose, marriage, pocket history of sex”

  1. cresmer says:

    Hey, thanks for the plug! The rally yesterday was pretty intense.

    Here’s a direct link to those videos, btw:

  2. cresmer says:

    And nice job with the NYT review!

  3. Kate L says:

    Sorry about your governor… I’d trade you your state legislature, but you’d want to trade us our outgoing governor here in Kansas. Congrats on the review. Also, honkin’ moose? The mooses (meese?) in Vermont honk?? And, if moose was there, could squirrel be far behind?

  4. iara says:

    Wow, the review! Thanks! And I just learned an alternate spelling of sanatorium.

  5. DW says:

    from the Times intro, “self-caricature”? What the what! I did see a good self portrait.

  6. Kate L says:

    DW’s comment made me go back to the review… I hadn’t realized that A.B. wrote a text intro. I guess I wasn’t expecting it! 🙂 What she wrote made me think about how some people think in images, while others don’t. I’ve heard that geologists tend to be visual people, because we are always forming pictures of how geologic processes play out in unobserved areas, such as deep underground. Coincidence or not, most of the geologists that I have known have been left handed. That’s the hand to use; well, never mind (60’s Simon and Garfunkel reference). Also… a 60’s memory set off by something mentioned in A.B.’s review: I’m one of the increasingly fewer people who can state where they were when President Kennedy was killed. My family and I were preparing to drive from Kansas to Texas to attend a family reunion. Yes, we went through Dallas 24 hours after the murder. The city had been closed down while the hunt for the assassin was on, but it was open again by noon that Saturday when we drove through Dealy Plaza. There were still hysterical people in the streets. I was 9 years old, and I’ll never forget that sight.

  7. Heidi says:

    Huh. I read the review, and now I want to read the book. Guess it’s going on my list to request from the library. One thing I love about our local library system is how I can put a book on hold and have them deliver it to my neighborhood branch library. Then I get an email when it comes in, and I just have to go pick it up. This week I got the new Stacey D’Erasmo novel and the new Abraham Verghese novel!

  8. Virginia Burton says:

    The moose track pictures end with a scary lone glove in the snow. As if that were all that was left after the moose encounter.

    And hot dog! I’ll be in NYC tomorrow for the last day of the optical trade show, so I can get the NY Times at its origin!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Fantastic review. It makes me want to read the book.

    How did it feel giving someone else’s life the Bechdel treatment? How did you cope with needing to be accurate in your portrayal and did Jane Vandenburgh supply you with photos to work from?

  10. Sophie in Montreal says:

    Alison, you are so a master stripper! hehe. It was wonderful to watch your “manner” evolve with time, and now this! Rhythm, balance – the dialog of white and blue – and the eyes-in-the-picture infinitely recessing at the end.
    Quand je lirai ce livre… it will take place in a Bechdelienne universe…

  11. @Anonymous
    Good question. No, I had no photos to go by (other than Vandenburgh’s author photo)
    And when I realized doing a graphic book review meant I was going to have to give visual form to the characters in the story, I had some ethical qualms. It seemed very intrusive to do this, intrusive not just to Vandenburgh, but worse–to the reader’s experience of her work. So I tried to draw kind of simplified, iconic faces—but not so simplified that the emotion was drained out of them.

  12. Alex K says:

    Why, AB, said Little Red Riding Crop, what a big…house you have!

  13. Ian says:

    That anonymous was me! I’d no idea the cookie’d been reset!

    It’s interesting how the visual representation leads to how a reader may perceive a character – it may even be more important than the words. I characterised Ms Vandenburgh’s mother from the words, but filled in a lot of blanks from the way you drew her as well.

    I also asked the question because you’ve written/been interviewed about your work method and attention to detail and I wondered if the absence of ‘source material’ would affect the way you worked.

  14. DW says:

    Well, book reviews are intrusive in the sense that they intrude the reviewers take into the book. Reviews in The New York Review of Books sometimes seem to use the book the way a pearl uses a grain of sand. It is a re-view, a parallax view, not the things we ground out in junior high. But from a review we get, besides the reviewers opinions on the subject, an idea of whether the book itself might be worth it. I wonder if I would be as interested in this book if I had read a standard review. Whatever else Vandenburgh might think of this review, she can’t complain about the exposure.

  15. Alex says:

    Just have to say, AB, that your house looks so sweet and charming. The surroundings appear so serene, even if there may be a moose traipsing about. I’m ever so glad to know that people still live do choose to live in a cabin in the woods. Just the idea of it warms my heart.

  16. Kate L says:

    Count me as being among those who are very impressed with A.B.’s self-portrait! Whenever I try to draw my own face, it always turns out looking like a cubist revival. I’m sure that’s some sort of desperate cry for help on my part!

  17. Jessica Bessica says:

    @ Kate L: I feel the same way!

  18. Hey, I just learned from Isaac Cates, who teaches graphic novels and many other subjects at the University of Vermont, that the cartoonist Milt Gross used to write book reviews in comics, without any words! In fact, his feature was called “I Won’t Say A Word.” In one page, he’d sum up the plot of the book in pictures. Here’s a blog post someone did about these pieces, with examples, including “The Grapes of Wrath.”


  19. yelena says:

    For one hot second, I thought the “first chapter” pdf was of the upcoming graphic novel. D’oh!

  20. Married in MA says:

    I hope you guys aren’t planning to marry moose up there! You know that just ruins it for the rest of us. And I can’t wait to read the review, but I must ask if there will be pocket sex once we win the right to marry? What is pocket sex anyway? It sounds cool, but I imagine that moose don’t have it, owing to the fact that they don’t have pockets! Sorry, now having visual sillies about moose pockets and what they do with them! But fer real– your neighbors to the south are sending you our hopes for victory. Battle on! Register at William Sonoma!

  21. Married in MA says:

    oops, a pocket history of sex, not pocket sex. That changes things doesn’t it. I must read more carefully.

  22. Duncan says:

    Alison, that is a good piece of work, but it doesn’t make me much want to read the book you’re reviewing. (Which I know, as a sometime book reviewer, is sometimes the point.) It made me think of Marge Piercy’s similar memoir “Sleeping With Cats,” which it may be time to reread.

  23. Ready2Agitate says:

    Aw shucks, for a sec. I thought AB and the moose tied the knot!

  24. JoVE says:

    That review is excellent. I love the format. I’m glad they asked you, too. It works really well.

  25. Ready2Agitate says:

    I admit feeling similarly to Duncan re: reading the book, but I also believe that you *could* indeed write a written review, Alison — your command of written language is one of your great strengths. To wit: “It’s a rare pleasure to be in the hands of a memoirist both old enough and good enough to wring this kind of coherence from life’s chaos.” (bravo!) I’m glad you enjoyed the challenge — terrific on multiple levels (and thank you for sharing it with us here!).

    Kate L. – I enjoyed hearing your recollection of the day JFK died (to quote a Lou Reed lyric).

  26. Paulo says:

    I just read your review in the Times, and felt compelled to Google you to tell you how great it was. Don’t normally do that, though I’m a NY-er who reads the NTBR every week. It’s just that your spot-on detail — the twisting toast to Mr. Lockheed, the young Jane’s hair at dinner chaos-blown. . .and her dog in the back! Great. Thank you.

  27. Ready2Agitate says:

    Aw shucks, I’m just catching up and I’m so sorry, ksbel6. You were such a kind friend and we’ll all miss those pup updates (poor thing.) 🙁

  28. Greg B says:

    A fabulous review! I’ve been a long-time fan of DTWOF (in fact the strip where Sydney and Mo babysit Raffi was an integral component of my best friend coming out,) but I have to say your non-fiction work simply blows me away.

  29. Ted says:

    Very well done Allison. It’s amazing how much emotion you can show in a character’s face with just a few strokes of your pen.

    I enjoyed the “Grapes of Wrath” review also. I couldn’t find the review of the “Big Sleep” that was supposed to be appearing later. That was a book that as good as it was had a plot so convoluted that the author admitted to the movie studio that he had no idea what was going on in places.

  30. TiredLitMama says:

    Loved the Times review as well– it’s hanging on my fridge covering up my daughter’s artwork. It is hard sometimes how everything seems to require “the weight of time.”

  31. says:

    Wow. Great review. [Words fail me (and I can’t draw).]

  32. Wayne's Mom says:

    Hey, Alison, I SO love this review, it’s my favorite review of my lifetime, honestly, not only because it’s the most deep and RIGHT ON — you so totally GET what life in THAT family was like — but b/c you cover SO much ground in so few words. So my big brother “Will,” whose real name is Hank, is bragging on Facebook about how he GETS several lines, tho the 2nd, he says, makes him sound like Ayn Rand. I can’t believe the fun it’s been to see and hear people react to this this week — I was away from home on tour when we first got rumor of what was going on, that Jack was in it! my dog! OMG! that they looked like Jack and my dog! I’m a HUGE fan of Fun Home and, while in Powells’ in Portland got an autographed copy of The Essential DTWOF, which I love. I’m at Write me?

  33. Karin Gafvelin says:

    You have such wonderful way of telling things through comics; scenes, tradegies, emotions, people, lives. It seems to come so easily for you. I still keep re-reading Fun Home and just read your review, don’t quite know what more to say, I’m just truly thankful. Thank you.

  34. --MC says:
    I wish they’d killed back the blue on the print page, it sort of overwhelms the text in the fill areas. It looks regal on the screen though. A pretty good review. Now I have to hunt up this book.

  35. Hey, MC.
    I haven’t seen the print version yet. The blue was kind of a problem as I worked on the piece. I wanted a color that would work for blueprints AND water AND sky. Which meant a pretty dark, saturated blue.

    In an earlier version, I had spots of white text dropping out of the blue background—in the surfboard panel and the three small ending panels. But the art director said the white text wasn’t going to be legible enough. So I redid it in black, and lightened the blue somewhat. But it sounds like it’s still hard to read.

    In the online image, I thought the blue was too light. It looks good for the sky and water, but it’s not right for the blueprints in the first panel.

  36. Alex K says:

    @Married in MA: Here’s someone juvenile enough immediately to associate “pocket sex” with “pocket pool”.

    I’ll never wring coherence from anything.

  37. Ellen O says:

    What a treat to find your review in the Times as I vacation here in San Jose, California, sipping coffee, barefoot, in the sunny backyard garden of my long ago Oberlin roommate. Ah.

    The scene in the review with the young author on the roof overlooking her expanded dysfunctional family reminded me of the DTWOF episode with the bird of the roof overlooking Stuart and J.R. in Stuart’s massive backyard garden (sans kiddie pool).

    Nice (evolving) perspective.

    I had also wondered if you’d worked off of family photos from the book. I thought the blue worked well, by the way.

  38. Ellen O says:

    Also, I just loved the last three panels. Perfect illustration of the power of illustration.

  39. Robin B. says:

    Oh, Alison. The review is beautiful. Just beautiful.

  40. Aries K says:

    Your review of the book had me in tears. Absolutely poetry (However, I made me not at all want to read the book.) Sorry if that was the intent…

  41. just a guy says:

    Kate L, kudoes for the moose and squirrel reference. No doubt Boris and Natasha are skulking nearby too! Bullwinkle forever…

  42. ksbel6 says:

    Yes! I love Bullwinkle!

  43. Jennifer Hayden says:

    Lovely review. The words gave the art extra meaning, the art gave the words extra meaning. It’s a brave new world for book reviews.

  44. Anonymous says:

    I find the discussion of horrific events making for good memoir fascinating. I know Alison brought that notion up here a couple of years ago and I thought about it after I read Name All the Animals by Alison Smith.

    Can a memoir be crafted out of an average life? Is there such thing as an “average” life? Is it all in the framing and telling?

  45. Ellen O says:

    Above comment from me. I’m borrowing a friend’s laptop and forget to fill in the name line.

  46. london elf says:

    Though its a bit scary (I know moose are big – I think there’s an Elizabeth Bishop poem about one) I’d quite like to live somewhere where they wander into your back garden. here in North London not even a hedgehog can get into mine.

  47. Anonymous says:

    Careful of the moose. The males are wicked ill-tempered when in rut. One kept my maternal grandfather treed for three days, or so the family story goes.

  48. Ginjoint says:

    I do want to read this book. I like the older brother, instead of the parent, telling the youngest kid to eat his vegetables – that says so much so briefly. And I love the dog.

  49. Dr. Empirical says:

    The traveling Edward Gorey exhibit, currently at the Brandywine Museum in southeast PA, is well worth the drive from anywhere. I’d always assumed that his exquisite penwork was accomplished by shrinking his drawings to the tiny size he favors for his books, but no. They’re reproduced at the size he draws them. There were drawings we’ve all seen in his books, plus sketches and studies, hand-decorated envelopes for letters to his mom, and costume and set designs for The Mikado.

    My favorite piece was a study for the cover to The Gashleycrumb Tinies. He hadn’t come up with the title yet, so it was labeled “The Something Tinies.”

    Five minutes of googling failed to disclose the exhibit’s destination when it leaves the Brandywine in May, so watch for it at a museum near you!

  50. Allie says:

    I’m impressed with your review; as a comic, it’s necessarily more compressed than a prose article would have been, but it’s still quite thorough. (Appropriate, given that you also praise the compressed quality of the first part of the book!) You pulled that off beautifully.

    I must say, I’m delighted to imagine my rather old-fashioned English teacher father opening his favorite publication to find a graphic review.

  51. ksbel6 says:

    AB: The review is awesome. I can’t decide if I want to read the book or not, but your attention to detail is amazing. I cannot wait for your new book to be released!

    Off topic…I posted this at the end of the previous thread also, but for those of you who do not backtrack…

    @Andrew B: I totally agree. The one thing that is true about humans is that we are all different. Even trying to do something as simple as “handedness” can become very difficult very quickly. Trying to generalize sexuality…well, I don’t think it can be done. Where would one place the transexuals who get married and have kids, then transition but stay with their spouse…or move on to someone of the opposite sex…or…I think you see my point.

    @Ginjoint: Patience will be the key. I waited 3 years before I felt like I moved into the “a really important friend” category, then things built up from there. So you have to REALLY believe she is “the one.” Also, I’m passing along “Love Will Come To You” by the indigo girls via good vibes and positive forces 🙂

  52. iara says:

    I wonder who will be reviewing your new book when it comes out. Might it be a graphic review too? I am trying to visualize it. Or would that be too homotextual?

  53. Ger Apeldoorn says:

    For those of you who like a bit of Gross action, today I have put up The Big Sleep over at my blog (as mentioned above).

  54. Ginjoint says:

    Thanks, ksbel. I think right now it’s more a simple crush, and the return of my libido. I can’t say as I mind, though…

  55. Ready2Agitate says:

    Gj, if I remember your winning smile shining thru the pic that Alison posted, now that your libido is back (from chemo, I’m assuming), I’m betting some cute dyke is going to come your way this year….

  56. Robin B. says:

    This is off-topic, but I’m appealing to the good nature of this group (or to you directly, Alison, if you feel like responding!). I’m writing an article about Louise Fitzhugh’s Harriet the Spy, and I have a vague memory of the book showing up in one of Alison’s comics. I know that Mo reads HTS in one of the calendars (p. 142 in _Indelible_), and I also know that Alison mentions HTS in her interview in The Comics Journal. But I vaguely remember another comic in which HTS shows up in a chewy kind of way. Does anyone remember? It’s possible that I’m mis-remembering and it’s a different dyke cartoonist–Ariel Schrag or Leann Franson or someone like that. Anyway, any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, and sorry for the off-topic post!

  57. Robin! I can’t wait to read your article. No, sadly, I can’t remember any places in my comics where I delved any further into HTS, despite the fact that the book has been one of my deepest influences. There’s a possibility it will find its way into my new book, but it hasn’t yet.

    Did you see the piece Louise Rafkin wrote about Fitzhugh and Harriet for OUT years ago?

  58. Acilius says:

    Let me add another voice praising the review. It comes together perfectly. And in view of the many painful similarities between Vandenburgh’s early life and AB’s own, it is downright heroic that she was able to keep Vandenburgh’s story distinct from hers.

    I can see why AB worried about imposing her experience of the book on those who come to it through the review. For example, the line “He killed himself over the ugliness of buildings” fits so perfectly with those children under that looming tower that I would be amazed if any other image comes to mind when I read it in the book. But as DW pointed out above, that’s the price an author pays for a powerfully conceived and well-executed review.

    @Ginjoint: Good luck!

  59. Ginjoint says:

    Oh, Robin. There’s no such thing as an off-topic post here. I can’t remember any HTS references, though. Anyone else?

    And thanks all for the encouragement! Mm-hmm, nothing like that warm buzz one has after seeing one’s attraction. (Wow, could that have sounded any more sterile?!) Ksbel, I’ve been thinking about you and your family, and hope you’re feeling better…

  60. ksbel6 says:

    @Ginjoint: Sunday was kind of a bummer, since it had been a week. But we noticed yesterday that we all smile at the picture on the fridge now, instead of seeing it and getting sad, so that is a good sign.

    The great thing about my relationship is that I totally still get that warm buzz you are talking about when she walks in the door…we are coming up quickly on 5 years…yeah for warm buzzes 🙂

  61. Andrew B says:

    I found that the graphical form made me want to read the review as if it were poetry, with careful attention to each word and each image. It allowed Alison to do things she could not straightforwardly have done in an ordinary prose review, e.g. comparing distance to compression in the last few panels and suggesting that ultimately time compresses experience down to nothing. I would like to read at least one of Vandenburgh’s books.

    Alison has decks on her house — downstairs AND up! All houses should have porches and decks. The slightly tilted angle of the picture makes her house look like a ship sailing through the forest.

  62. smmopah says:

    Here in the Golden State we were betrayed again and again by our Guver’neener and then by the electorate! So, yah, ow.

    I wonder how the rest of the nation can continue to see us as a blue see of crazy liberals.

    Beautiful review. You are doing fine work in this medium. I’d kind of like to see the whole book with this treatment.

  63. --MC says:

    Robin B — the only other HTS ref in DTWO4 is on the calendar page about vegan substitutes for fudge, latkes — in the border, Harriet appears over the caption “(eats) nothing but tomato sandwiches”.
    Ah, Harriet. I first read the book in a copy with the front section ripped off, so I had no idea what was going on when I was first making my way through the book. I still remember the mystery of that reading.

  64. Kate L says:

    Somewhere in the house I grew up in (the same one I live in alone, now) is a piece of notebook paper that I drew a story board on as a grade school kid. It concerned characters from the Soupy Sales television program; I remember an emphasis on the dog character, White Fang (I like dogs). My mother was so proud of that story board that she would pull it out of the encyclopedia that she kept it in and show it to me whenever I came home from college years later. Mom is long gone, now, but I have to think… would it have really KILLED me to have become a graphic artist and made my mother proud?

  65. iara says:

    Kate L you have my sympathy! I’d love to see your old story board.

  66. Gomes says:

    Do you ever plan to do an India tour? Coz, u have plenty of fans here. U should definitely come to Bangalore and Mumbai! Maybe,it will give u a different perspective of lesbianism in the East?

  67. Mighty Ponygirl says:

    Douglas is being an ass. He claims that we shouldn’t be dragging this issue out so that VT can “concentrate on more important things like the economy” (despite a report showing that legalizing SSM in the state will generate something like $3billion in revenue — destination weddings in the fall, anyone?) He said he didn’t want to force the issue to a vote in 2010 because it would just keep the issue open. So he’s going to Veto the measure? How will that do anything but prolong the debate?!

    Also, VPR reported this morning that a recent VT poll shows support for SSM jumping well into the “this is what the majority of the public wants” category (I wish I could remember the numbers).

    OK, I just left a message with Douglas’s office telling him (nicely) that he was being hypocritical and short-sighted.

  68. Mighty Ponygirl says:

    Ah! Here’s the story!

    “In 2007, same sex marriage was opposed by a 4 point margin, but in the last two years, there’s been a 21 point shift on this issue. This year it was supported by a margin of 55 to 38%”

  69. NLC says:

    Mighty Ponygirl: Also, VPR reported this morning that a recent VT poll shows support for SSM jumping well into the “this is what the majority of the public wants” category (I wish I could remember the numbers).

    Specifically the poll reported support for Same Sex Marriage “by a margin of 55 to 38%”. (In 2007 it was opposed by a 4% margin.)

    However, to add a little more context:
    The poll in question is held each year by state Representative Bill Doyle following Town Meetings around the state.

    As many people have noted this is a poll 1] of people who attend town meeting and 2] who search out the poll in order to take it. Both of these are pretty active filters. It’s a reasonable question ask to what extent these results actually generalize to “what the majority of the public wants”.

  70. ksbel6 says:

    Here in the Show-Me State, the majority of the state voted against the right to carry a concealed weapon and then the legislature came along a few years later and passed a law to allow it. So, the majority didn’t get to pick in that case, why does it get to pick in the case of marriage equality? I hate the way politicians say, “but this is what the majority wants” anytime the majority agrees with what they (the politicians) want!

  71. Robin B. says:

    Thanks, MC and Alison! I’ll post info about the essay when it’s published (it’s going to be in a book about queerness and children’s lit).

  72. Ian says:

    @–MC: I’d always assumed that Harriet in that particular calendar strip “only eats tomato sandwiches” was just some random baster baby. Ah well.

    Btw, that strip contains two of my favourite AB panels: right below the “vegetarian” that eats fish is the big fish that eats vegetarians. It never fails to make me smile.

  73. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Kate L

    Soupy Sales?!?! Hobart lived in the stove, Pookie was the lion, White Fang and Sweet Tooth were the dogs. And the pies were made of shaving cream.

    (sings…) “Hey, let’s do The Mouse, yeah. Hey, you can do it in your house, yeah…”

    Extra points if you know the song on the flip side of “The Mouse”

  74. hairball_of_hope says:

    I saved the NYTBR for dessert on Sunday. I read AB’s review over coffee, and I was impressed by the power of AB’s images plus words to succinctly and elegantly explore Vandenburgh’s tragic childhood and her relatively saner adult life in a seamless narrative. The last three panels with the dog receding into the distance were brilliant.


    Not sure how saturated the blue showed up in editions printed elsewhere, but the copy I have was printed at the Queens NY plant, and it’s sort of a cross between Federal blue and Obama blue (and no, you won’t find Obama blue in the Pantone color matching system!). The contrast between the black type and the blue background was a bit poor in some panels (even though there’s some white shadowing on the type), but that might be because I was reading in a restaurant with so-so lighting, it was much more legible at home with proper lighting.

    I noted that in the same NYTBR, there was a review of Jane Alison’s book, “The Sisters Antipodes” on p.17. The theme of this week’s NYTBR must have been dysfunctional families.

    All of which recalls the opening line of Anna Karenina, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

  75. NLC says:

    I noted that in the same NYTBR, there was a review of Jane Alison’s book, “The Sisters Antipodes” on p.17. The theme of this week’s NYTBR must have been dysfunctional families.

    Not to mention Anne Carson’s ‘An Oresteia’…

  76. hairball_of_hope says:


    Yep, definitely the dysfunctional family theme. I wonder if the editors were influenced in their choice of review books by the usual family events at this time of year.. those of us who celebrate Easter and/or Passover often think about our history with our families or dread upcoming interaction with our families. Which explains why I celebrate Passover with friends… at least I picked ’em!

  77. judybusy says:

    The comments about the review remind me of what I loved about DTWOF being on the blog: we all notice so many different details, and my reading/viewing was greatly enriched. I’ve had to go back several times to the review to see it all over!

    Gomes: I wish that AB could go to India, lecture, learn and write a great book about it! Wouldn’t that be incredible? I am interested in how lesbians live in other countries–are there any local websites or blogs you’d recommend? Also, if there are any brasileiras reading, I’d be interested in the same thing. I read enough Portuguese that I could get the meaning.

  78. Kate L says:

    Oh, hairball, you watched Soupy Sales, too? We have so much in common! 🙂

  79. Dr. Empirical says:

    Kate and HoH: Here’s a great White Fang story from ubergeek Mark Evanier:

  80. Ted says:

    HoH an Kate, when I was a kid (50s) Soupy was a local guy in Detroit and I got to watch him everyday because my Dad was stationed there. At that time he had another character called “Willie the Worm” Years later after he moved to LA I was working on the Flying Saucer ride at Dland and there was Soupy handing me his “E” tickets.

  81. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Dr. E

    Thanks for the link to the Clyde Adler/White Fang story. It brought back so many good memories and laughs. I also remember watching Soupy for many years afterward on “What’s My Line?”

    @Kate L

    Yup, you’re slightly more vintage than me, but still of the same era. I was interested in your recollection of the trip through Dallas after JFK’s assasination. My most vivid memory of JFK’s death was his funeral on that Monday. School was cancelled because of JFK’s funeral, and I thought there was something wrong with the TV because all three channels were broadcasting exactly the same thing. I watched with my mother, and she explained the significance of the riderless horse with the boots backward in the stirrups. How she knew that, I’ll never know (maybe from military funerals during WWII?). Alas, the riderless horse with the backward boots became a much too common sight, RFK’s funeral a few years later had the same ritual.

    Still waiting on the extra points answer to the question, “What song was on the flip side of Soupy Sales’ ‘The Mouse’?”

  82. hairball_of_hope says:

    De-clique-ification for young’uns and non-USAnians:

    Soupy Sales was/is a schmaltzy comedian who hosted some wacky and edgy kids TV shows in the 1950s and 1960s. His trademark schtick was the pie in the face, he ended up with pies thrown in the face several times in every show (and sometimes his guests ended up with pies as well).

    He was thrown off the air several times for his antics, among them the following:

    On New Year’s Day, he instructed kids to go into Daddy’s wallet and send him the green pieces of paper with funny pictures on it (US dollar bills). He ended up with several hundred dollars, which he donated to charity.

    He reviewed the alphabet with Pookie (not verbatim, just my recollection):

    Soupy: Let’s do the alphabet, A B C D E F G H… ok Pookie, your turn

    Pookie: A B C D E K G H…

    Soupy: No no, that’s not right, let’s do it again… A B C D E F G H… your turn

    Pookie: A B C D E K G H…

    Soupy: Pookie, that’s not right. How come everytime I see F, you see K?

  83. SQPNTK says:

    That panel is great. I love that “psychoanalysis” is a religion.

  84. Steph says:

    If only there were more graphic reviews of non-graphic books. It’s nice to see life breathed into reviews!

  85. Alex K says:

    Hey all — this is a lovefest for AB. I am drinking the Kool-Aid too. But.

    Let’s share the love.

    Let’s write to the NYTimes Book Review. Let’s say — Yowza! Graphic review by AB! Sliced bread, chopped chicken liver — nowhere near the elegance and refinement and turbocharged glory that is AB! Commission more, many more!

    Gotta prime the pump, innit?

  86. Acilius says:

    @Alex K: Thanks for the reminder!

  87. Ted says:



  88. hairball_of_hope says:

    DING! Ted gets the extra points. Pachalafaka was also sung by The Muppets a few years ago. I asked a colleague who was born in Turkey what Pachalafaka means, he said it’s not a Turkish word. I was so bummed. All those years we imagined it was something naughty.

    Soupy had a smidgen of an interview on “On The Media” a few years ago, and they played “The Mouse” and “Pachalafaka”:

    Pachalafaka, pachalafaka
    they whisper it all over Turkey
    pachalafaka, pachalafaka
    it sounds so romantic and perky
    oh I know that phrase
    will make me thrill always
    for it reminds me of you, my sweet
    just the mention of
    that tender word of love
    gives my heart a jerkish Turkish beat

    I won’t say c’est bon
    or l’amour toujours
    for they can’t express what I’m feeling
    even maresydoats or
    other foreign quotes
    don’t seem to be quite so appealing
    but pachalafaka! pachalafaka!
    takes me back with you to passionate desert scenes
    and it’s there we’ll stay
    till the very day
    we find out what pachalafaka means
    we find out what pachalafaka means!

  89. Dr. Empirical says:


    Yes, not only should we be congratulating Alison on her accomplishment, but we should be congratulating The Times for trying something new!

  90. cybercita says:

    i haven’t read all the comments, so i don’t know if someone has already pointed this out, but wasn’t alison reading HTS in one of the panels of fun home?

    that was one of my favorite books growing up, too. i remember when my mother bought it for me. i read it a thousand times.

  91. Ellen says:

    No Kool-Aid here. I come to this website to find intelligent conversation about art, language, the art of the memoir, the state of the lesbian world, and other thoughtful topics.

    To me, the word “lovefest” misses the mark on pretty much all of the above.

  92. Ian says:

    @hoh: Thanks for the cultural explanation. So basically Soupy Sales is the inspiration for Krusty the Klown on The Simpsons?

    @Ellen: you forgot to list ‘bacon’ as one of those thoughtful topics. 😉

  93. Dr. Empirical says:

    Ian: From the start of television into the early seventies, local TV stations had their own people hosting afternoon kids shows. They’d do skits and show cartoons. Many dressed as clowns. Firemen and sailors were also popular. There were hundreds of these. Some, like Soupy Sales (or Pixanne, also discussed on these pages recently), were popular enough to go national. Krusty is sort of an amalgam of creator Matt Groening’s childhood TV watching experience.

    I don’t know if any such local shows are still around, but they used to be ubiquitous.

  94. Alex K says:

    @Ellen: Well, allowing for hyperbole, cynicism, and all-’round quirkiness (even after discounting orangely pointy-haired inappropriate visitors!), this website is the closest thing I can imagine to an unqualified approbation of AB, bloo brah included. “Lovefest”. Perhaps, along with our dear Prince Charles, I should say wistfully here…that all depends on what “love” is.

    @Ian: Check out for opportunities to beta-test bacon-flavoured personal lubricant. Nummers!

  95. ksbel6 says:

    Do you guys remember the old Simpson’s where the olympics are going on and Krusty promisses a free cheeseburger for every gold the US wins? McDonalds actually ran that campaign and the USSR (at the time, I want to say 1984) was boycotting and the US won most of the golds, so LOTS of free cheeseburgers were being handed out. My favorite exchange…

    Krusty (in an ad on tv): I will personally spit in every 4th burger.

    Homer (on couch watching ad): I like those odds!!

  96. hairball_of_hope says:

    Ian, Dr. E.

    Supposedly Matt Groening modeled Krusty the Klown after his childhood local TV clown, Rusty Nails.

    Soupy Sales was part of a wider circle of wacky kids TV comedians. I think his appeal was broadened because his jokes had so many double meanings that older kids and adults could laugh at (e.g. the Pookie alphabet spelling).

    I’m thankful Soupy and the others managed to break into the idealized 1950s/1960s media propaganda of what passed for “normal” family life. And definitely grateful for Mad Magazine, which my brother and I hid from our parents as if we had a stash of pornography. To this day, if I’m stuck in an airport somewhere, I’ll buy a copy of Mad and yuck my butt off.

    Maybe my early appreciation of Mad is one reason I really enjoy AB’s sendups of product and corporate names, Mad did that all the time. Each time I see AB give a “Tip o’ the Nib” in the margins I keep hoping she will do some of the “Marginal Thinking Dept.” drawings à la Sergio Aragonés.

  97. ksbel6 says:

    HOH: I love putting those pages together at the arrows to see the new picture.

  98. --MC says:

    The decline of regional television is a big shame — nowadays the stations will just show infomercials in the wee hours, but back when there used to be some unique stuff around.
    I missed the JP Patches show but K grew up watching it — the local TV clown in Seattle (there were three or four classic kids shows on the TV during the 60s: Brakeman Bill, Stan Boreson, Wunda Wanda, and JP) .. there aren’t many Youtube clips of the guy, but here’s my favorite. JP, his show over for the day, starts fooling around on the news set:

  99. Kate L says:

    I kept mum on the Soupy Sales related songs, because for years I thought that the song “Hang on Sloopy” was called “Hang on Soupy”!

  100. Ian says:

    @ AlexK: Bacon flavoured lube? Now I know it’s the end of the world!

    @Dr. E et al: Thanks for the info on local kids shows. I didn’t realise it was a whole genre. We [used to] have regional TV here but given our entire island is smaller than Rhode Island (apparently) there really wasn’t much difference between the different regions. Although having read Mary Ann Singleton’s progress from ‘local’ to ‘national’ TV, I’m aware of the concept! 😉

  101. lolpatrol says:

    o hai i can has kew-layed an baycan an othr tings liek freeraiz. I pressoanley doan liek raiz for nommin – bat iz ma poyntn ekzakly: u doan has kew-layed if u doan like kew-layed srsly. On othr paw, ma hooman iz streit whooman an she dran kew-layed. Takez all kindz, rly. Evarebaddee iz walcam in daikz innertubes! Eevan peeps wif lawts ov thoghtfoolz in ther brainz, srsly.

  102. hairball_of_hope says:


    The MAD fold-ins! They were great. We used to try to figure out the new picture and text without folding the back cover.

    I confess to having purchased the six CD set of MAD Magazine many years ago. One of the neat things they did was the fold-in, drag the mouse and fold-in the cover to see the new picture.

    De-clique-ification for non-MAD Magazine readers:

    MAD is a goofy irreverent comic/graphic magazine that spoofs and skewers all manner of everyday life. Cynical looks at life, parodies of movies, books, TV, popular culture, and absolutely brilliant wordless comics from Antonio Prohias (“Spy vs. Spy”) and Sergio Aragonés (“Marginal Thinking Dept.”). All created by “The usual gang of idiots,” with the ubiquitous Alfred E. Newman saying, “What, me worry?”

    One of the highlights of every issue is the inside back cover, which is a fold-in. The graphic and text say one thing, and when the cover is folded inward in thirds vertically, the graphic and text say something else. Absolutely brilliant, and created entirely by hand before all the fancy-schmancy computers made that stuff easy.

    BTW, am I the only one who sees the physical resemblance between Alfred E. Newman and George W. Bush?

  103. Anonymous says:

    Alex and all — I won’t try to define “love-fest,” but if you remember the origins of the Kool-Aid reference, maybe you’ll understand why it is such a turn-off for me.

    That said, everyone gets something different out of this site. For some, bacon, pop culture, dictionaries, or funny cat talk, for others, politics, lesbian life, art, bird song, or community. That’s what makes it such a good site.

  104. Stefan J. says:

    In a (late) response to Robin B: If I remember correctly, Alison depicts herself reading “Harriet the Spy” in the short story “Compulsory Reading”, that was published on this blog on the 25th of June 2008.

  105. lolpatrol says:

    O hai Anynomouse, Iz gud ciet, I sed it farst! Sum liek dis, sum liek dat, we all play naic togethr in AB ciet. I owlso rmambar orgeen ov kew-layed refz. Owlso orgeen of diekz refz wasna so nais, srsly. Bat we liek diekz naem nao.

  106. Ready2Agitate says:

    Soupy: Hey kids, what starts in “F” and ends in “U – C- K”
    … FIRETRUCK! (I think that one got him in trouble too. But my memories are only from “What’s My Line”)

  107. Anonymous says:

    @hairball et al re: Mad Magazine.

    My sister Karen and I discovered our cousins’ huge collection of Mad (which went back at least 8 years) in the early 60s. We loved the puns,word plays and satires.

    Here’s what many people don’t know. Many of the original artists and writers had been blacklisted in the McCarthy era; when Mad started they were restricted to satires of pop comic strips. I remember Archie,Jughead,Veronica and Betty satirized as Starchie,Bottleneck,Velma and Biddy. (The comic book series featured the tame antics of 1950s white teenagers.)

    When the political climate eased somewhat,Mad started doing takeoffs on musicals,etc. So Mutiny on the Bounty became Mutiny on the Bouncy,West Side Story became East Side Story. The latter was a brilliant riff on the Cold War,complete with sharp skewering of Russian Premier Krushev (sp?)and our new prez JFK.

    I stopped reading Mad around 66 when they nastily satirized Joan Baez;some of their writers were becoming more conservative,ridiculing the anti-war movement. So I moved on to lighter fare like Camus,Sartre,Edgar Snow,and the NY Times.

    No need to hide from parents,as our vast reading was never censored…Later found out that Mad was popular among some Boomers I knew,mostly male, who became late 60s/early 70s activists.

  108. Alex K says:

    @Anonymous: Point well taken. Thanks, and I’m sorry for distress that I caused you by using that bit of jargon.

    @Ian: Bacon-flavoured lube as a sign of the End Times? Fiddle-dee-dee. It also repels alpha particles and gamma rays, though the FDA won’t let them put that on the label. Slather it on / concern-be-gone!

  109. Robin B. says:

    Stefan J., that’s it! That’s the reference that was hiding out in the back of my brain! Thank you!

  110. hairball_of_hope says:


  111. hairball_of_hope says:

    Thank you, oh Great Delete Key In The Sky, for eradicating our little Yersinia pestis. You ought to check the site logs for the IP addresses, I think those two lol posts might be from the same source.

  112. Ame says:

    I’m new to the site and entranced by the conversations weaving through these comments. I’m not sure whether this is a sore subject or not, but I’m curious and you all seem to be quite kind to clumsy newcomers, so here goes: what is the origin of the Kool Aid reference?

  113. Ready2Agitate says:

    Welcome, Ame – you’re in for quite a ride!

    The Koolaid reference comes from an extremely tragic incident in US history, where a charismatic leader (Jim Jones) got his collective of (largely African-American) followers in Jonestown to drink a cyanide-laced grape ade drink in the largest collective loss of US life (mass suicide) — including many children — until 9/11/01. A film came out about it last year or the year before. It’s just so sad.


    So nowadays – if someone says, “she drank the koolaid” it means that someone who has accepted all that someone says (“hook, line, and sinker”) and follows it without question.

  114. hairball_of_hope says:


    Welcome to our merry band.

    Kool-Aid…. I feel oh so old, I had to explain this exact same reference to my friend’s 18 year old college freshman at last Thanksgiving dinner.

    Really short version: In November 1978, a cult of USAnians who had relocated to Guyana, and were known as the People’s Temple, committed mass suicide by consuming Kool-Aid laced with cyanide. Nearly 1,000 people died, including children. Parents poisoned their children, then poisoned themselves. It’s commonly known as the Jonestown Massacre; the compound where the cult lived was named eponymously after the cult leader, Rev. Jim Jones.

    Here’s the Wiki link so you can read all the gory details:

    “Drinking the Kool-Aid” has entered the lexicon as a perjorative, meaning that one has a cultish belief in someone/something that is clearly harmful or detrimental to one’s well-being. It’s most often applied in policy and political contexts, such as “Anyone who believes the TARP bailout is good for the average consumer has been drinking the Kool-Aid.” Sometimes (less commonly) “drinking the Kool-Aid” simply means that one has an unquestioning belief is someone/something, which is how I think Alex K intended to use the phrase.

    But given the sordid history of the phrase, I think the first usage is more common, and more appropriate.

  115. hairball_of_hope says:

    Here’s the Wiktionary definition of “Drink the Kool-Aid”:

  116. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Robin B.

    There’s quite a bit of discussion about Harriet the Spy on DTWOF over the years.

    Quick Google trick: If you want to search a specific website, you can do it directly from Google. I often use this instead of clunky search boxes on the sites themselves.

    In the Google search box: “Harriet the Spy”

    The ‘site:’ prefix tells Google to search only the site you’re interested in (in this case, DTWOF). The full quotes around the phrase “Harriet the Spy” tells Google to look for that exact phrase (not case-sensitive, however). The full phrase search might be too restrictive, so searching for “the spy” will probably yield the most results. I see that folks are also abbreviating the title as HTS, so you might want to search on that too. Definitely you don’t want to search only on Harriet, because you’ll turn up lots of references to the DTWOF character who is Mo’s ex.

  117. Alex K says:

    @h_o_h: Up far, FAR too early, before 0430 (if the cat doesn’t want to sleep, NOBODY gets to sleep), and, checking in, a bit abashed to find your kind reference.

    Yes. That’s what I meant — that we here are happy admirers of AB and her work. But the phrase seemed right to me because “blog communities” can become… a bit cultish. Personal and, when I think of it, a bit spooky example: I know DTWOF panels the way my five-year-old nephew knows dinosaur facts.

    So: The intended message, once more, for us True Believers. Rather than articulating our support and admiration of AB and her work only within this (relatively) closed community, let’s advocate to editors and the like that they commission work from her. This might be useful both to AB and indeed to those who follow this blog in hopes of enjoying more of her work.

  118. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Alex K

    4AM is the favorite time of felines everywhere. If you’ve got a feline as part of the family, you get used to it. Sort of. And when they’re gone, you miss it. Really.

    Felines all seem to know Marlene Dietrich’s take on that time of day, “It’s the friends you can call at 4AM who matter.”

    “Oh boy! Mommy/Daddy has pulled the blanket over her/his face, I must rescue Mommy/Daddy!” “Oh, s/he has sticky salty stuff on the eyelids, I must give them a good tongue wash!” “Lookit what I brought, my hairball-encrusted mouse toy! Let’s play!”

    (I’ve spared everyone the lolcat translation)

    Then, after finally getting out of bed, Mommy/Daddy stumbles toward the bathroom and unexpectedly slides on the floor, having discovered the unseen puddle of upchucked hairballs by stepping in it. Mommy/Daddy then swears to never walk barefoot with the lights off again.

    Well, maybe I don’t miss THAT.

  119. hairball_of_hope says:

    Back to same sex marriage… the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the Vermont House passed the bill last night, 95-52, but not with the required 2/3 majority that they will need to override the expected veto from Gov. Douglas. The Vermont Senate previously passed the bill 26-4.

  120. white_mouse says:

    That review was wonderful! I’m just now struggling with the problem of graphic storytelling myself, and it is wonderful to see how a true master (mistress? Hmm) of this art handles it. As I work on my pitiful first effort, I see just how hard it is to do what you’re doing, and admire you all the more.

    I can’t say I’m too eager to go read that book, but that’s hardly your fault. Just not my cuppa tea.

  121. Ready2Agitate says:

    Let’s put pressure on the Gov! We could be SO proud of New England…!

  122. hairball_of_hope says:

    Back to bacon…

    Queercents has posted a vegan BLT recipe as a means of stretching one’s money:

    If you’re not familiar with Queercents, it’s a personal finance blog geared for the LGBT community, but it has pretty wide coverage via the popular non-LGBT blogs. Their motto pretty much sums it up, “We’re here, We’re queer, and We’re not going Shopping without Coupons.”

    Also on the Queercents blog are some articles about the financial advantages of marriage vs. civil unions, including an article on the tax challenges Annie Liebovitz is having with the estate of her late partner, Susan Sontag.

  123. hairball_of_hope says:


    Master? Mistress? I vote for Dominatrix!

  124. Maggie Jochild says:

    I’m reminded of a riddle we kids used to distress adults with during the 1960s: What’s a four-letter work that means intercourse?


  125. NLC says:

    So long as we’re channeling middle-school:

    There was young girl with a duck
    Who road into town on a truck,
    but the biggest surprise,
    I bet none of you guys
    Thought the last rhyme would be “luck”

  126. Acilius says:

    In fairness to Kool-Aid, the Jonestowners drank Flavorade.

  127. Robin B. says:

    That’s a great tip, hairball_of_hope. Thanks!

  128. ksbel6 says:

    My favorite MAD take on a musical was “Annie.” I occasionally sing, “tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you, tomorrow, you’re always a day away…” when I’m procrastinating.

  129. hairball_of_hope says:

    Great news from Iowa… Bloomberg reports that the Iowa Supreme Court has struck down the anti-gay marriage law. The best part of the ruling… it was UNANIMOUS!

  130. ksbel6 says:

    Wahoo, now I just need to move 20 miles to the north 🙂

  131. Kate L says:

    hairball… yep, I just posted the link to the AP story out of Iowa on my local Unitarian listserve! 🙂 With the reminder that here in Kansas, the anti-gay marriage (and anti-civil union and anti-common law marriage) provision is part of our state constitution and therefore much less amenable to change than the law in our neighboring U.S. state of Iowa. 🙁

  132. Eve says:

    Maybe I have an unfair mental image of the state from reading a lot of Bill Bryson, but seriously…Iowa?

  133. --MC says:

    In the interests of Comic Book Guy like clarity, I have to step in and correct Anonymous up there; the original MAD artists weren’t blacklisted, they were the artists for the other EC line comics (Elder, Wood, Severin, Davis) who ground out MAD pages in between their pages for CRYPT OF TERROR and TWO FISTED COMBAT. The initial MAD satires were of genre stories (mysteries, SF) because Kurtzman, the writer and editor of MAD, was making it up as he went along. He hit paydirt with “Superduperman” and started writing superhero satires, then branched out to movies, then to politics — he spoofed the Army McCarthy hearings in “What’s My Shine?”, a bold move for a cruddy kid’s comics.
    But the other comics in the line, the horror comics, brought the heat down. Loosley linked to juvenile delinquency, the crime and horror comics were put on trial in televised Senate hearings, and the industry went into full turtle mode, policing themselves into insipidness. The EC comics suffered most; the head of the new Comics Code Agency was the publisher of Archie Comics, who had never forgiven them for “Starchie”.
    So EC turned MAD into a magazine, which would be excempt from the Code’s meddling. After a year or so Kurtzman asked to have 51% of the publishing, then quit the magazine, and the new editor, Al Feldstein, made it what it became. He’s the one who brought in all the wonderful musical satires (most written by Frank Jacobs). A book of song parodies put out by MAD brought them a lawsuit by Irving Berlin’s music publishers, alledging copyright violation, but MAD prevailed, establishing important legal precedents for satirists. Whew!

  134. Erika says:

    Hey… Iowa’s got a pretty good history of civil rights activism and legislation, actually.

  135. hairball_of_hope says:

    Oh dear, more bacon…

    ThinkGeek sells this stuff called Squeez Bacon. I am not making this up, you have to see this for yourselves:

    Quoting from the e-mail touting this miracle product:

    “** Squeez Bacon – Quite Possibly The World’s Most Perfect Food **

    Every once in a while a product comes around that puts life into perspective. When we got our first bottles of Squeez Bacon (from Sweden) to taste test, we each had a moment of pure revelation. For years, we had thought that the BBBLBT (Bacon-Bacon-Bacon-Lettuce-Bacon-Tomato) sandwich was the pinnacle of gastronomic enjoyment. And suddenly, after a single taste of Squeez Bacon, our world was rocked. Squeez Bacon is imported straight from its Swedish source and delivers taste right out of the bottle – no cooking or refrigeration needed.

    Enjoy all the flavor and health benefits of bacon, without having to slave over a frying pan. Squeez Bacon is the official bacon food product of all the kings and queens of Europe. Oh, Squeez Bacon, where have you been all our lives?!?!

  136. Ready2Agitate says:

    Hairball, you are endless education! 😉

  137. ksbel6 says:

    I have to agree with Erika…Iowa has a long history of providing civil rights ahead of the curve (especially since they are in the center of the country). I believe that I posted here quite some time back the Iowa would be the first state in the midwest to legalize gay marriage…do I get a point for that? 🙂 Anyway, my guess is that Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and then Illinois will be next.

    Sorry Kate L, but Kansas doesn’t get to claim Iowa as a neighbor. You guys either have to go through Missouri or Nebraska to get there! We Missourians have more neighbors than any other state at a whopping 8.

  138. iara says:

    @H-o-h, Squeez Bacon! I think the people at ThinkGeek have outdone themselves! For those not familiar with this website, thinkGeek offers an irresistible (well, at least to geeks) collection of stuff, along with great geeky commentary (again, depends on your point of view). They even sell utilikilts (warning – commentary assumes you are male and want to look masculine).

    Reading it made me want one. Forgive me if this question has already been discussed in this blog, but I am curious: If a woman wears a utilikilt, do you call it a skirt?

  139. white_mouse says:

    Yeah, the Midwest is actually a lot more progressive than most people on either coast tend to think. I have to admit I was rather expecting gay marriage to come to Minnesota first, but it’s wonderful to see it in Iowa.

  140. hairball_of_hope says:


  141. hairball_of_hope says:


    Not sure what you’d call a Utilikilt on a female. It has pockets, lots of ’em, something all women’s clothes desperately need.

    Another plug for ThinkGeek… they are owned by SourceForge. SourceForge hosts the vast majority of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) programming projects on the Web, and they have some profit-making activities such as ThinkGeek to help support that effort. So, while you might find a few of the items at ThinkGeek for a few bucks less elsewhere (if you can find them elsewhere at all), your purchases do wonders for the FOSS movement.

    Sleepyhead alert… you will never find a better collection of amazing alarm clocks than at ThinkGeek. Everything from Clocky, the clock that jumps off the nightstand and runs away from you (I am serious), to the NeverLate, with multiple alarms uniquely set for each day of the week, perfect for college students (and nerdlings such as myself) with varying schedules.

    Check them out at:

  142. Acilius says:

    @h_o_h: “Not sure what you’d call a Utilikilt on a female”- why wouldn’t you just call it a Utilikilt?

  143. Society To Preserve the Definition of Utilikilt says:

    @Acilius: Because, silly, the definition of a utilikilt is one MAN and one pocket-covered heavy-duty skirt. It’s tradition!

    Besides, didn’t Paul say in the Epistles something about “Wear not a skirt if thou art a dude, unless it shall be called unto you a utilikilt”?

  144. hairball_of_hope says:

    Thank you again, Great Delete Key In The Sky (GDKITS). Checkout Yersinia pestis’ IP addresses, and traceroute back to his ISP. Then give the ISP ammunition to nuke his account.

  145. Ame says:

    Ah, THAT Kool-Aid. I remember the original incident but failed to make the connection in this context…

    R2A & HoH, thanks for the welcome!

  146. Timmytee says:

    Alison, great graphic review in the NYTBR last week!
    Commenters, maybe you can help me work something out: I know most people think that, “[so and so] has been drinking the Koolaid” refers somehow to the Jonestown tragedy, but I think there’s some disconnect there. If you “drank the Koolaid”, you’re DEAD, right? It’s not about being CURRENTLY or POTENTIALLY vulnerable to brainwashing, because it’s already ALL OVER for you!
    On the other hand,”[so and so] has been drinking the Koolaid” might just mean, “[so and so] is high”, ala Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters and the LSD-laced punch they gave out at Grateful Dead/Jefferson Airplane shows in the 1960s. If you drink THAT kind of Koolaid, the implication is you could THEN be brainwashed. And you can keep drinking the Koolaid. You can’t drink the Jonestown Koolaid more than once! Does any of this make any sense?
    I’ve been away from this site for a couple days and I can see a lot has gone down. (Maple syrup & bacon sandwiches, anyone?) Best wishes to all from northwest Pennsylvania!–Tim

  147. Feminista says:

    Hi MC and others–I’m the Anonymous who talked about the history of Mad Magazine,not the Anon who was upset over the Kool-Aid remark.

    **takes deep breath. I’m glad we got that out of the way.**

    MC,I appreciate your thorough history,and chuckled about the upset Starchie caused. However,I distinctly remember reading an article which mentioned former blacklistees working for Mad in the early days. I saw it mentioned along with a tribute to longtime (and late) publisher William Gaines. FWIW I think we’re both right.

    Now re: AB’s “a tip o’ the nib.” I believe that comes from “a tip o’the Hatlo Hat” from a one-panel comic called Our Boarding House. My mom remembers it from her youth,so we’re talking late 1920s-early 30s. It was still going strong,however out of date its plotlines,into the 60s.

    But I do remember Mad’s Marginal Comments.

    And now I’m off to the first of three potlucks I’m attending this weekend.

  148. geogeek says:

    I can see the reasoning about Leary’s kool-aid, but I still think the reference is to Jonestown. The current phrase is applied to people who _have_ bought in to bizarro ideas with likely bad outcomes, not people who _might_. While it is true that original people died after drinking the kool-aid, the meaning is applied because you would have to have a very strong irrational belief in order to get to the point where you would drink the kool-aid in the first place. Another common reason the phrase is used now is with reference to the wacky ideas of some charismatic (at least to his insane followers) leader, though I suppose that part of the usage could apply equally to Jones or Leary.

  149. rinky says:

    Is a utilikilt a real thing? I thought Alison made it up?

  150. rinky says:

    Oh yeah, I just answered my own question by googling them

  151. hairball_of_hope says:

    Well, the GOP may tout itself as the party which upholds “traditional family values,” but I’m not so sure they had planned on the traditions in the Palin family.

    We all know about the premarital sex resulting in the birth of a son Tripp to Sarah Palin’s 18-year old daughter Bristol. On Monday 4/6/09, the now-estranged unmarried father of the kid, Levi Johnston, will be talking about his sex life with Bristol on the TV talk show “Tyra Banks.” Johnston’s sister has complained that the Palins called them “white trash” and prevented them from seeing Tripp.

    We all know about the Troopergate scandal, in which Palin fired the Alaska Public Safety commissioner because he refused to fire her ex-brother-in-law, an Alaska State Trooper.

    We all know that Sarah Palin charged the state of Alaska for travel per diem while working from home to the tune of about $17,000.

    Now People magazine is reporting that Sarah Palin’s sister-in-law has been arrested for burglary in the Palin’s home town of Wasilla. As if that’s not enough family drama, it turns out that while Diana Palin was inside the house burglarizing, her 4-year old daughter waited outside in the car. The house had been burglarized twice previously, and this time the owner confronted the burglar with a gun and held her until police arrived. The 4-year old reportedly told police she had been in the house before.,,20270168,00.html

    I see lots of potential for the Palin drama. CBS has announced they are ending the 72-year old soap opera “The Guiding Light.” I suggest they create a new reality-based soap opera based on the extended Palin clan, “Land of the Midnight Sun.”

    Awright, maybe I am exhibiting a bit of schadenfreude in all their public travails. So sue me.

  152. hairball_of_hope says:

    Spoiler alert… I’ve been had. I held off on posting the ThinkGeek Squeez Bacon stuff, just to make sure it wasn’t one of their classic April Fool’s gags. And they held off identifying it as one until yesterday. It’s not any more implausible than some of the other items they really do carry, such as the leather-lined Steel Gladiator Helm:

    Sorry bacon-lovers, you’ll have to get your fix from licking up all that bacon-flavored personal lube.

  153. NLC says:

    bacon-flavored personal lube

    h_o_h: On behalf of all of us, thank you so much for sticking that image in our collective head…

  154. Dale says:

    OMG. Bacon flavoured lube. Could such a utopia exist?

    BTW – I’m still a tad uncertain as to the definition of a “PTTWTTBOPH”. Enlightenment, plz?

  155. Duncan says:

    hairball of hope: “am I the only one who sees the physical resemblance between Alfred E. Newman and George W. Bush?”


  156. hairball_of_hope says:


    Original definition of PTTWTTBOPH is in this thread (the dialogue starts a bunch of comments prior, but here’s where the acronym took form):

    The Great Delete Key In The Sky (our friendly web dominatrix) deleted the troll post(s) I was referring to.

    @NLC, Dale

    Don’t blame me for the image of bacon-flavored lube, Alex K brought it up. If it were up to me, it would be chocolate-flavored lube. I just did a Google for ‘chocolate flavored personal lubricant’ (no quotes) and got about 19,000 hits, vs. 3,870 hits for ‘bacon flavored personal lubricant’, so I guess chocolate wins the day.

  157. coolmama says:

    I keep checking in to see your commentary on the Iowa Supreme Court decision! Huge news! A 7-0 decision (CA, CT, and MA were all 4-3 decisions) in a state that’s (mistakenly) usually assumed by coastal-type to be conservative just because it’s in the flyover zone.

  158. hairball_of_hope says:

    I’ve been thinking about the wordless comics we’ve been yakking about above (Milt Gross, Antonio Prohias, Sergio Aragonés), and I don’t know how I blitzed this from my brain… AB drew a spectacularly powerful wordless DTWOF after 9/11/01, #374:

  159. --MC says:

    Hi Feminista — maybe the writers and artists were blacklisted by the Comics Code Authority?

  160. Feminista says:

    MC–Yes,that’s a distinct possibility. And at their best,they were sophisticated and very funny.

    Yes,I’d rather talk about anything but *gasp* Kool-Aid and bacon.

  161. Judybusy says:

    Rinky: I like it when people ask questions here they could just google. It allows a few things: we get a chance to show off; it promotes conversation (you would never go off and google something during a “live” conversation–OK, yes, maybe one would after nobody comes up with an answer); it helps bind us all a little closer and build more community.

    HOH: I, too, have immense schadenfreude re: the Palins. I know it is mean and small of me, and I use the excuse of GOP hypocrisy to justify my gloating.

    Also, thanks for posting the DTWOF strip about 911. It was so poignant.

  162. Dale says:

    Thanks Hairball of hope. Had a good rofl at that!

  163. EO says:

    For all of you in southern/western Ohio, looks like Alison is reading in your neck of the woods next month. Mark your calendars.

    Monday 11 May, 2009
    Wright State University in Dayton.

  164. Ready2Agitate says:

    Wow. (Really, is there anyone like Alison who captures our collective emotions so? I feel like I just visited our history in one quick swoop.)

  165. Anonymous says:

    Right, Judybusy! Why Google when we can Dtwoogle (or something like that)?

  166. Ready2Agitprop says:

    People who drink Kool-aid are in search of a blood sugar high, which can make them behave funny. 😉

  167. rinky says:

    (fills in online order form for McKenzie tartan utilikilt)

  168. Ready2Agitate says:

    I can no longer see a male specimen in utilikilt and not think of Stuart (not that it happens often, mind you, but it happens).

  169. hoppyland says:

    what happened to ginjoint…

  170. Hannah says:

    Sorry for not posting for a bit…we had a small house fire – wiring in the wall scenario, and speaking of cats, they may be to blame for nocking over drink onto plug. Called 9-1-1, leashed the dogs, prayed for the cats and got out fast (too many cats to grab – a personal nightmare for me) Firetruck response fast, only damage was one melted socket and our frayed nerves. Fireman said that if we had not called, could have smouldered and burned our home flat in seven minutes. Still shaking in boots!
    Comments on blog:
    We see utilikilts around here a lot – one in three is Scottish descended in my area and utilikilts are way less expensive than the “real” thing! As a butch with some trans leanings, it’s the weirdest thing – you could not get me into a dress with a gun to my head, but LOVE wearing kilts! Successfully pulled off male drag for a costume party one Halloween when I wore a “great Kilt” (15 feet of tartan cloth with a belt – the modern small kilts predessor) One of my friends got grabbed by a straight woman attendee who wanted to be introduced to “the adorable Scots man!” Unfortunately no such intro occured – my friend had way TOO much fun explaining that the Scots man was her friend Hannah! You could hear the libido go *thud* – the poor soul wandered off mumbling to herself in shock! WEG! Unfortunately I will be crawling into a dress for real for my stepsons wedding. *sigh* observing strange native customs – its a Church of God wedding attended by largely Church of Christ family. So maybe I should call it camoflage for safety!
    And the “where were you when JFK was shot” thread. I was three years old parked in front of the tv and eeriely enought remember it clearly. It is my first memory ever…disheartening welcome to the world for a child. At one point I called my dad a few years ago and checked to see if this was a real memory and not a cultural phenomena that was tangled in my brain. I described the color of the carpet (house long gone) and the toys with me and the TV showing the car and the scramble of the security reaching to help Jackie – Dad confirmed that I was remembering accurately and completely. Strange…since then there has been the kalidescope of memories of Vietnam, shooting of John Lennon, the day I opened the paper and spotted the first article on AIDS (known then as Gay cancer), wars and rumors of war, space shuttle explosions and 9/11. Among other things. And every one of them flashes me back to that day with JFK when I was three years old…. But remember, for our parents, and grandparents, the benchmark “where were you” was the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Some things remain the same….

  171. Hannah says:

    Oh…lets not end on such a downer. Heres a question for serious discussion. What does the dyke in drag as a claymore swinging Scots in a kilt wear under the kilt? Because friends and neighbors…women persist in tipping the kilt in public to find out! *LOL, WEG!* Seriously, they do! (not to mention friend of mine who fell asleep at a Con in his kilt on a bench in the hallway and woke up with a blue ribbon tied…(there is a song, punch line: drunken scots man “I dinna know where ye been, laddie, but I see ye won first prize!” Real question of the day – any filkers out there? Chime in!)

  172. Hannah says:

    And acillus – haven’t forgotten you. Rough week – the fire was only the begining. Emails will be coming.

  173. Hannah says:

    BTW…Filkers is not a typo. Lets see if we have any out there. I will eventually explain.

  174. Acilius says:

    @Hannah: No problem. Sorry to hear about the fire! I take it no one was hurt?

    “the day I opened the paper and spotted the first article on AIDS (known then as Gay cancer)” I remember very clearly one day in 1981, the newest issue of SCIENCE ’81 magazine arrived in the mail. The cover promoted a story about what was then called GRID, Gay-Related Immune Deficiency. The cover featured the question “Is it a contagious form of cancer?,” which for all anyone knew at that point it might have been.

    The article was terrifying. Usually I find popular science writing very comforting, it gives me a soothing sensation that everything makes sense, a feeling that I could understand anything if I studied it a bit. But so little was known about GRID in those days that the article left me with a queasy feeling that I couldn’t shake. I didn’t sleep that night. I didn’t sleep well for weeks afterward. For years, dark thoughts shadowed my mind whenever I caught a cold. A vague dread stayed with me that dissipated only in 1984. That was the first year when people I knew well were diagnosed with AIDS.

  175. ksbel6 says:

    Alright, here’s a question I was going to google later today…what causes the tips of the leaves on my otherwise happy plant to turn brown? There are plenty of flowers on it, and it looks green and healthy, until you get to the tips of the leaves, then they are brown and yucky.

  176. hairball_of_hope says:


    Glad you and the furry family are ok. Fire is a terrifying thing. Our local animal groups give out stickers for the front door, where you fill in how many dogs/cats/humans/other pets need to be rescued in event of fire.

    You brought back so many memories with your connection of traumatic “where were you” moments to the day JFK was shot. And like you, I also remember them all, and I’d add in when Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were shot in 1968, the blackouts in NY in 1966, 1977 (the Son of Sam summer), and 2003.

    I remember where I was when the first space shuttle exploded. I was in a classroom in Oklahoma, some of us had come back early from lunch to study for an exam, and one guy came in and said he heard the Challenger exploded. There was a large projection TV in the classroom, but no antenna. Techies that we were, we rigged up some wire and hung it out the window to grab static-filled images of the booster rockets spinning wildly in air, with spiral exhaust contrails dispersing in the Florida sunlight.

    That’s the image seared in my brain, not the better quality video I saw later on.

  177. hairball_of_hope says:


    I remember reading the first article in the NY Times about “the gay related cancer” Kaposi’s sarcoma in 1981. The articles about “GRID”, which clearly described the things some of my friends were experiencing; thrush infections, night sweats, etc. The long decade and a half between when AIDS was first identified but before there were protease inhibitors available. The coded greetings we gave one another when seeing someone; we never ever complimented someone on losing weight, it might mean he was sick. It was always dicey inquiring about someone who hadn’t been seen in a while, it might mean he was dead or dying. The sudden ghost town feel of the West Village and Chelsea in Manhattan in the late 1980s/early 1990s. The weekly announcements at Friday night services for prayers for the sick, announcements of the deceased.

    And then, around 1995/1996, it was as if we entered a time warp. AZT became available, and suddenly the nearly-dead came back to life, phoenix-like. The guy in my building with AIDS-related dementia, suddenly he was able to function and drive a car. My friend’s cousin, who had to figure out what to do with his life now that he was collecting disability but suddenly able to work again. The long-unseen members of my synagogue, who were able to resume life as if someone had hit the pause button for a few years. It was a miracle.

    And then the realization that the medicines had come too late for so many. My best friend Peter, who died in 1994. My coworker Carmine, who died in 1991. Jerry from synagogue, who died in 1995. My friend’s roommate John. And so many more.

    Every year at my friend’s Passover Seder, I take pictures. Last year we looked at a bunch of them from prior years, and we could track John’s HIV progression every year via the pictures, until there was the Seder where he was gone.

    The meds gave most of the people I know with HIV another 10-15 years, often with high quality of life. But that’s only possible for people in developed countries with access to competent HIV health services.

    The criminal negligence of the Reagan/Bush I/Bush II administrations which withheld funding for organizations that taught condom use should be prosecuted as crimes against humanity.

  178. hairball_of_hope says:

    Typo… the first NY blackout was 1965, not 1966. Finger/brain disconnect. Again.

  179. Acilius says:

    @h_o_h: Thanks for telling us about Peter, and Carmine, and Jerry, and John. And for the other stories. I don’t want to spend my lunch break crying, so I’ll change the subject to something happier.

    To the Challenger explosion. Hey, I didn’t KNOW any of those people. In those days I ate lunch in the Student Union. The dining area was usually fairly empty, the only other people there 5-6 devotees of the soap opera the big TV was always tuned to.

    Come lunchtime 28 January 1986, I go in there to see the place packed. There was a news report on. The only seat available in the entire room was next to a woman I knew, a TA from my English class. I was reluctant to sit next to her, because she had a very brusque and cold manner. She seemed to expect people to dislike her, and to be uninterested in winning them over. I understood her- she was an out lesbian, and didn’t want to spend every minute of her life trying to cure homophobia. Still, if I could have sat by myself I would have. Perhaps I expected people to dislike me and was uninterested in winning them over…

    Anyway, a brief conversation ensued.

    Acilius, with trepidation: “May I sit here?”

    Unpopular TA, with her usual be-damned-to-you air: “Hnf.”

    Acilius, baffled: “Why is it so full this afternoon?”

    Unpopular TA, surprised and suddenly happy to have a question to answer: “The space shuttle blew up!”

    Acilius, stunned silence. Eats ham and cheese sandwich.
    Acilius, with a polite smile: “Thanks for the seat!”

    Unpopular TA, having long since regained her be-damned-to-you air: “Hnf.”

  180. ksbel6 says:

    I was in 8th grade when the space shuttle exploded. I heard the news at lunch, and when we went back to class our teacher was crying.

  181. Dr. Empirical says:

    Hannah, I’ve dabbled in filking. It’s more of a science fiction thing than a comic book thing, and I tend to go to comic cons rather than science fiction. Pulling out a filk at an open jam, or at a music festival campground bonfire can be a lot of fun, too!

  182. Ian says:

    Apropos of the review of the Pocket History of Sex, I’m reading one of those triva books, “The Strange Laws of Old England” by Richard Cawthorne which has this to say about the law as it applied to the Critic:

    ‘Although an author can escape the judgement of the Church, the courts and the censor, he cannot escape the judgement of the critics. The 19th Century Chief Justice Lord Ellenborough ruled that there should be no limit to the contempt and ridicule that could be heaped on a book, provided that the critic does not “introduce fiction for the purpose of condemnation” or “impute fraud, immorality, corruption or something bordering on crime that might merit a libel action”. In the case he was judging, the author had complained that a tasteless satirical cartoon lampooning him had made his book unsaleable and had lost him a publisher for a forthcoming work.’

    So be nice with the cartoon reviews, already! 😉

  183. Erika says:

    ksbel6: Sometimes brown tips on a houseplant’s leaves mean that it is being watered too much.

  184. Ready2Agitate says:

    Oh my, Hannah – hearts out to you! Yikes. And now I’m wondering what happened to the many gay men I knew in the 80s and early 90s who were HIV+…. The Challenger tragedy is a case study in public leadership graduate classes — lessons still being mined today…. And I’m with Erika: too much water: it goes from the roots to the tips of the leaves, where it just kind of sits and rots the edges of the plant (just like leaves floating in a vase of water will make your flowers rot faster). )But I’d defer to the compost maven on matters of earth.) Acilius, I enjoyed your story. Hannah, good luck with the wedding dresscode! ps was happy to see transphobia grabbed cover page space on today (but I haven’t read it yet – sorry).

  185. Ready2Agitate says:

    OK – forgive my laziness – it’s a promo-spot for IDAHO, International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, marking its 5th year on May 17th.


  186. Hannah says:

    Hats off to you, Dr. Empirical – I figured that we had a Filker (dabbler or not) in a population as diverse as this blog! Anybody else? – and I really ought to get off the stick and write a DTWOF filk. Permission, Allison?
    Here is the Wikipedia definition of filk for the curious. I am not in any of the pictures – but I know most of the people in them! That startled me!
    Thanks to all the well wishers regarding my tiny house fire. We are ok, if still shook, a little. Spooky thing is, the NEXT DAY a neighbors house burned out right down the corner from us. Have the eerie feeling we dodged a bullet and it hit someone else! Creepy.

  187. hairball_of_hope says:


    You might consider hiring a licensed electrician (not an unlicensed handyperson type) to inspect the wiring and outlets in your house to see if there are any other potentially dangerous situations that need to be corrected.

    I wouldn’t be so quick to blame the cats for the melted outlet by knocking a drink onto plug, the circuit breaker or fuse should have blown if they shorted out the outlet.

    It will be a few hundred bucks well-spent, you’ll sleep better, and your homeowner’s insurance might cover the cost, talk to your insurance agent.

  188. Acilius says:

    “World’s Oldest Person Turns 115”- and I’m sure many of the regular commenters here will be able to guess what the secret of her longevity is.

  189. hairball_of_hope says:


    I knew the answer would be bacon! (Actually, it’s bacon and sweets.) I was hoping for dark chocolate and red wine, my two faves.

    Amazing that she’s 115 and only moved into the retirement home ten years ago… she lived on her own until 105, pretty impressive.

  190. ksbel6 says:

    @the brown tips: Thanks, I will cut back on the water and see where that leads 🙂

  191. Timmytee says:

    @ acilius: I Laughed Out Loud at that. Thank you! 115! Think I’ll make myself another Bacon & Pennslyvania maple syrup sandwich to celebrate…

  192. Acilius says:

    @Timmytee: You’re welcome!

  193. Feminista says:

    Why,Ms.Baines doesn’t look a day over 90…I think the oldest person on record was 125,but 115 is very impressive.

    My maternal grandma made it to 94,outliving her husband by 34 years(he and his siblings got the hypertension gene). She restricted sodium but not sweets,and never needed dentures.

    Since I was a child I’ve wanted to make it to 100.