The Air at the Top of the Bottle

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Tillie the Toiler

May 9th, 2016 · 3 Comments

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“Tillie the Toiler” was once a popular comic strip, and held forth on newspaper comics pages from 1921 to 1959. It inspired books, movies, and pinbacks (as you can see above).

It was drawn by Russ Westover, who, like many cartoonists, had worked his way up to a daily strip through the sports page. Tillie was one of several strips that featured working women (“Winnie Winkle” being the most popular).

“Tillie the Toiler” has been mostly ignored by comics historians, and has not been reprinted. The only reason I bring it up is because I recently found a stack of dailies in an antique store. It contains 281 strips, covering all of 1930 except for October (and Sundays). I don’t know why October isn’t included. One week in September is obviously ghosted, so maybe October was ghosted too, and the original collector only wanted to save Westover.

Although I’d read that Tillie’s appeal was that she was an independent, working woman, that was not the case in 1930. The main premise of the strip is that Tillie is vain, superficial, irresponsible, and lazy, but that men adore her anyway. In the course of the year, she ruins her own business by excessive spending on clothes, and by neglecting the business to party with any “good-looking man” she meets. Her supposed boyfriend, Mac, puts up with her callous treatment, which includes destroying his car and breaking dates with him at the last moment. She often asks him to drive her to dates with other men, or to take calls from her boyfriends when she’s out dancing with another of them. But she’s supposed to be pretty, so I guess nobody cares that she’s such an asshole.

At any rate, Westover’s art is breezy and appealing. Here’s a sample, showing Tillie, her new boyfriend Ken, Mac, fellow stenographer Bubbles, and her boss, Mr. Simpkins. Then, as now, the ukulele was controversial.

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(Posted by Doug Skinner)

→ 3 CommentsTags: Cartoons · Ukulele

Avocado Seed Soup

May 1st, 2016 · 1 Comment

As an admirer of Slim Gaillard’s inimitable creation, The Avocado Seed Soup Symphony, I wondered if I could indeed make avocado seed soup. A search of the internet yielded the information that avocado pits are rich in magnesium, calcium, and potassium, and that they can be ground up and added to smoothies, but no recipes for a Gaillardesque soup.

So, I experimented, and can offer search engines a tasty Avocado Seed Soup.

It’s pretty simple. Add one or more avocado pits to boiling water. You don’t need to clean them; bits of avocado will only help the soup. Add salt, garlic, and onion. You can sautée minced garlic and onion, or use dried bits from a jar if you’re busy or lazy. Season to taste; the proportions will depend on how much water and avocadoes you’re using.

After the pits simmer for a while, the skin will boil off, and they’ll separate into two parts. The water will turn a rich reddish brown. The pits themselves are bitter, so remove them. The broth itself, though, is not, although stray flecks of pit add a bit of welcome flavor. You can, of course, use it as a broth, and add other vegetables, but I like it best as is. It’s Macvouty!

(Posted by Doug Skinner)

→ 1 CommentTags: The Ineffable

Children’s Card Games (224)

April 18th, 2016 · 1 Comment

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This version of “Authors” was published by Milton Bradley, sometime in the late 19th or early 20th century. It promises a “Revised Edition with Fine Portraits of Standard Writers.” I welcome the chance to admire Wilkie Collins, who doesn’t often make it into the canon. The others in this set are Shakespeare, Scott, Macaulay, Dickens, Thackeray, Tennyson, Longfellow, Lowell, Holmes, Burns, Hugo, Irving, and Goldsmith. Hugo’s appearance is also unusual: he’s the only French writer.

This edition also includes “Prize Cards” which earn you extra points. Rack up those Authors points!

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(Posted by Doug Skinner)

→ 1 CommentTags: Card Games

Sleepytime Cemetery

April 11th, 2016 · No Comments

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Sleepytime Cemetery is now available! In the words of Black Scat Books, “In this new collection of short stories by the author of The Doug Skinner Dossier, you’ll discover a world of ostensibly human specimens behaving in peculiar and unpredictable ways. However, they are often recognizable in a manner we dare not admit. Skinner’s dark humor is deceptively playful and childlike, and that makes our bursts of laughter all the more disturbing. These 40 tales are guaranteed to disconcert and astonish.”

Available from Black Scat Books, or from Amazon.

(Posted by Doug Skinner)

→ No CommentsTags: Literature

Bulletin (36)

February 21st, 2016 · No Comments

I’ll debut some new comics on “Carousel,” R. Sikoryak’s long-running presentation of projected pictures, at Dixon Place on Wednesday, March 9, in NYC. Anne Shapiro will join me as guest reader.

I’ll give a program of my songs at Jalopy, in Brooklyn, on Saturday, April 16. I don’t know yet who will be playing with me, but I’ll be splitting a bill with my former ukulele student, Robin Hoffman.

My next book, Sleepytime Cemetery, is in preparation. It collects forty short stories, and will provide unalloyed delight.

Finally, a bit of personal news: after thirty years in Manhattan, I’ve moved north, up to New Paltz. It’s quite a change.

(Posted by Doug Skinner)

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Children’s Card Games (223)

January 20th, 2016 · No Comments

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Mrs. Dr. Anna Tomey is part of an old Old Maid deck from Spear’s games. She looks quite elegant and competent, I think. Here’s the Old Maid, who is much the worse for wear.

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In fact, the previous owner designated another member of the deck, Miss Idylla Reeding, as the Old Maid, and sketched in the cats from the above card.

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(Posted by Doug Skinner)

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A Talpazan Tile

December 14th, 2015 · 3 Comments

I posted earlier about the death of Ionel Talpazan, devoted painter of UFOs. I couldn’t find a small ceramic tile I once bought from him, but I just came across it, tucked away in a bookcase. Here it is, along with the back, showing the price and his signature. It’s small, only 4 1/4 inches square.

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(Posted by Doug Skinner)

→ 3 CommentsTags: Forteana

The Downcast Sun

December 2nd, 2015 · 3 Comments

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This picture comes from a Czech children’s book, Pohádky Před Spaním, by Frank Wenig. I don’t read Czech, so I don’t know why the sun is downcast. I like the picture, though. According to an online Czech-English dictionary, the title means Fairy Tales Before Bedtime.

(Posted by Doug Skinner)

→ 3 CommentsTags: Books

Children’s Card Games (222)

November 22nd, 2015 · No Comments

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I usually post these card games in appreciation of the anonymous artists who designed them. This one is an exception; it’s a 1927 game of “Gasoline Alley,” which I suspect was drawn by Frank King himself. There are four suits of thirteen cards each; I guess you could play any standard card game with them. The thirteen characters are: Pal, Squint, Rachael, Walt, Emily, Mr. Wicker, Bill, Skeezix, Doc, Avery, Mme. Octave, Mandy, and Phyliss. Alas, the scan doesn’t do justice to the delicate colors of the original.

(Posted by Doug Skinner)

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Bulletin (35)

November 16th, 2015 · No Comments

The thirteenth issue of Black Scat Review is now available! It is, fittingly, devoted to the subject of superstition. It contains my short story, “Find a Penny,” which is also fittingly devoted to the same subject. I’m one of thirteen contributors: the other twelve are: Paulo Brito, Eckhard Gerdes, Harold Jaffe, Soren James, Rick Krieger, Terri Lloyd, Monika Mori, Alice Pulaski, Frank Pulaski, Mylene Viger, Dominic Ward, and Carla M. Wilson. It’s edited by Norman Conquest, and Alice Pulaski designed the cover. You can find a copy at Black Scat Books.

There’s a nice notice of my translation of Alphonse Allais’s novel The Blaireau Affair, over at the book blog Wuthering Expectations. And the novel itself is also available from Black Scat.

(Posted by Doug Skinner)

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