Recently in Whimsy Category

Pogo Possum Items

| | TrackBacks (0)

Pogo Possum Items

Topical index and cover images for the Pogo paperbacks, anthologies of the comic strip by Walt Kelly.

Photo essay: Detroit as I knew it

Photographer Herman Krieger, born in Detroit in 1926, documents with then-and-now photographs the places he lived, studied, and worked before leaving the city in 1951. "The houses in Detroit, in which I lived, are all gone. They have either been razed or covered over by a highway."

Mr. Krieger has lived an interesting life: Moving to San Francisco as a photographer, then becoming a computer programmer in 1956 and working all over Europe, and then coming back to America in 1990, earning a Bachelor's in Fine Arts at the University of Oregon, and working since that time as a photographer. One of his photographs is part of an exhibit of landscape photography at the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon, running through December 2, 2017.

Turning the page: Tulsa man finds work in living room after years of travel | Whatareyou |

Tulsa voice artist and audiobook narrator W. B. Ward talks about his craft:

"Ward said he never listened to an audiobook before taking the plunge into his current profession. He said it's recommended that people who voice books listen to others to see how they handle the job.

"'I don't like doing that, and I almost refuse to do that,' he said. 'Instead, I listen to a lot of real old-time radio -- the old Dragnet and the old Blondie. Father Knows Best is my favorite because these guys were actual masters at telling a story through vocals only and making it carry over, and they had to do this on a live basis seven days a week in some cases. So I consider these guys to be absolute masters and, all of us, we are just kindergartners playing in the sandbox right now.'

"Ward enjoys the old radio shows, and he said he uses them as 'sleeping pills.'

"'I used to watch TV to go to bed,' he said. 'But when you are listening to an old radio show, it doesn't matter which way you sleep. If you are watching TV, you had to lay a certain way to do it. With a radio program, it doesn't matter what position you are in or what room you are in. I love it.'"

(Good points. I used to use C-SPAN as a "sleeping pill" when traveling, but I found that light from a TV screen in a dark room would interfere with falling asleep. Also, old-time radio -- "Hancock's Half Hour" is my current favorite -- tends to have a more subdued dynamic range, where the brighter sound of contemporary radio -- car dealership ads, for example -- can rouse you from your slumber.)

You Actually Would Die without Your Coffee: Aleteia

"Research the world over is confirming that drinking coffee keeps you alive ... but it doesn't work if you drink it in moderation. In fact, Harvard researchers found that low consumption of coffee is linked to deaths from heart-related illnesses. To get the health benefits of coffee, you have to drink it like you mean it.

"Drinking three to five cups of coffee per day gives you a longer life, making you 15 percent less likely to die early, lowering your risk of dying from a heart attack or a stroke by 21 percent and slashing your risk for type 2 diabetes by 12 percent.

"Three cups of Italian-style espresso per day cuts the risk of prostate cancer in half. And a study in the British Medical Journal found that coffee helps prevent clogging of the arteries.

"When it comes to your brain, coffee does more than just help you feel alert. It has neuroprotective properties, and drinking it regularly can reduce your risk of Alzheimer's -- but to get the full 20 percent reduction, you have drink at least 3 cups per day."

How We Met: Ray Galton & Alan Simpson | The Independent

The British comedy writing duo who brought us Hancock's Half Hour and Steptoe and Son met as teenagers in a tuberculosis sanitarium and bonded over their shared love of American comedy on the American Forces Network -- "Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Don Ameche."

Simpson: "Sometimes we'll reminisce. Some of my fondest memories are from the Hancock days. He was a dream to work with - one of those rare performers who could read something perfectly first time. He had his problems and was never a great party man, but he was funny. When we had readings with Hancock, Sid James, Kenneth Williams and Bill Kerr - some of the biggest laughers in the business - they would be on their knees roaring, eyes watering. It was incredible, and Ray and I would stand there like kids thinking, 'We did that.'"

Come On, Fhqwhgads: A Look Back at the Music of Homestar Runner - Noisey

A conversation with Mike and Matt Chapman, the creators of the early web cartoon sensation, about how Homestar Runner grew in the years before social media made it easy to share things on the web.

Voices of Variety » Chesney Allen

A page devoted to British comedian of music hall and movies Chesney Allen, one-sixth of the Crazy Gang, half of "variety's greatest double-act," Flanagan and Allen.

"The act always featured a number of songs - nostalgic or patriotic or, more likely, evoking hard times and the camaraderie of ordinary people bonding against misfortune. And they invariably ended with that song, which had been growing slowly in popularity.

"'Underneath the Arches was written by Bud, words and music, in some digs in 1928,' said Ches, 'and we sang it for two or three years before it really caught on. In those days, you see, a lot of people really did have to sleep under the arches and I think the song was written partly with them in mind. Bud had roughed it a lot earlier. He'd been a taxi driver and he'd been to America and roughed it there. He once walked from London to Glasgow. So he did know something about 'the arches.' Then, in 1934, the song became the best-seller in this country. Later on it was a tremendous seller in America after the war, too, because American soldiers used to come over here and they got to know the song.'"

The Martin Gardner Interview | FifteenEightyFour | Cambridge University Press

On his 90th birthday, in 2005, Don Albers interviewed the legendary Tulsa-born-and-raised polymath.

Tuppence over the rope

Vagrancy in old England: If you couldn't afford sixpence for a bed in a doss house, you could sleep sitting up, leaning over a rope, for a mere two pennies. At dawn the ropes would be untied to encourage the patrons to move along. References to this practice crop up in literature and pop culture. The practice is depicted in an episode of Hancock's Half-Hour, implying that it still happened in 1957.

Casebook: The Twopenny hangover -- sleeping over a rope

George Orwell, "Down and Out in London and Paris": "This comes a little higher than the Embankment. At the Twopenny Hangover, the lodgers sit in a row on a bench; there is a rope in front of them, and they lean on this as though leaning over a fence. A man, humorously called the valet, cuts the rope at five in the morning."

Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers: "'And pray, Sam, what is the twopenny rope?' inquired Mr. Pickwick. 'The twopenny rope, sir,' replied Mr. Weller, 'is just a cheap lodgin' house, where the beds is twopence a night.' 'What do they call a bed a rope for?' said Mr. Pickwick. 'Bless your innocence, sir, that ain't it,' replied Sam. 'Ven the lady and gen'l'm'n as keeps the hot-el first begun business, they used to make the beds on the floor; but this wouldn't do at no price, 'cos instead o' taking a moderate twopenn'orth o' sleep, the lodgers used to lie there half the day. So now they has two ropes, 'bout six foot apart, and three from the floor, which goes right down the room; and the beds are made of slips of coarse sacking, stretched across 'em.' 'Well,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'Well,' said Mr. Weller, 'the adwantage o' the plan's hobvious. At six o'clock every mornin' they let's go the ropes at one end, and down falls the lodgers. Consequence is, that being thoroughly waked, they get up wery quietly, and walk away!'"

Secret Leeds: Flophouses in Leeds

Includes lyrics to the song "Tuppence on the Rope," lyrics by Paul Graney and tune by Gary and Vera Aspey, from the album Gary and Vera Aspey, From the North Topic LP, 12TS255 [1975]

Note on the record sleeve: "During the depression of the 1930s, thousands of unemployed men were obliged to take to the roads. At this time, attached to every parish workhouse was a casual ward or 'spike' which gave shelter for one night, after which the tramp would have to move on to the next town. In exchange for a meal of cocoa and bread and scrape (margarine), he was expected to work for a few hours. Because of this, he often found there was too little time to reach the next spike and so, unless he slept under a hedge or in a barn, he could try to beg a few coppers to go into a dosshouse and obtain a bed for about sixpence. If he failed to raise this sum, he could sleep on the rope for tuppence or, in some places, a penny. The rope was stretched across the width of the room and a man could hang with his arms over it for support. It was customary to untie the rope in the morning, and the whole row of men would collapse to the ground."

Page 2 includes a description of a "spike" or "vagrant ward" -- you'd get fed, have a bath, have your clothes fumigated, get some sleep out of the weather, then do a few hours work, and then be told to move on to the next town. You couldn't return to the same spike within 30 days.

Slate: What Seth Stevenson learned at the Wendelstedt School for Umpires.

Long ago, between college and fatherhood, I was obsessed with minor-league baseball and historic ballparks, seeing games in Bradenton and Durham, Dunedin and Melbourne, Little Rock and St. Catherines, Wilmington and Greensboro. After a year or so of cubicle life, I was entranced by Harry Wendlestedt's ad in the back of The Sporting News and daydreamed about calling balls and strikes in a Pioneer League game under a cool and cloudless Big Sky. I never took the plunge, but Seth Stevenson did, and wrote about it for Slate:

"I first visited the Harry Wendelstedt School for Umpires as a 24-year-old Newsweek reporter back in January 2000. I'd begged my editor to send me because I'd been floored by the opportunity the school promised: Take a five-week course and, if you finish around the top 20 percent of your class, get hired straight into the minor leagues--calling outs and balks and ground-rule doubles in small-town ballparks across the country. Could it really be that simple to launch a career in the national pastime? ...

"I observed the school for a couple of days, touring the facilities in Daytona Beach, Florida, and writing a short squib for Newsweek's front section. It wasn't nearly enough. As I watched those students in their dorky, pressed-and-creased umpire slacks, jogging across infields and yelling stuff, and making weirdly specific arm gestures, I yearned to don the protective equipment and get behind the plate myself. Heck, what if I was a natural?...

"Because authority depends on the perceptions of those who are subject to it, umpires are obsessed with maintaining a commanding presence. Our voices were to be loud, thick, and monotone, our manner laconic, our faces untroubled. We were expected to have our clothes clean, ironed, squared away. We were directed to a local tailor who would hem our pants. A surprising amount of discussion centered on whether to tuck our warm-up windbreakers into our waistbands."