Saturday, January 22, 2022

Mediterranean Twist

Last weekend, the climate gods gifted us with eight inches of snow over a twenty-four hour period. We did three smaller shoveling sessions rather than wait for the huge job when the storm ended. Other parts of the northeast were hit harder, and so we were grateful to have had a manageable cleanup. After an hour's workout in sub-freezing temperatures, that first cup of coffee in a warm kitchen tasted mighty fine.

Of course, we wouldn't let a little snow interfere with our production of comics, or stop us from finding a pipe pic to share with you.

One of my recent posts included an old print ad for Pabst Blue Ribbon beer featuring the artist James Montgomery Flagg. It was one of a series of PBR ads carrying endorsements from artists, authors, actors, and sports figures, including this image of character actor and big galoot William Bendix, posing with a beer, a sandwich, and several pipes.

Bendix (1906 - 1964) was best known for the 1940s radio sitcom The Life of Riley, which was  adapted as a television series in the 1950s. Chester Riley was an early example of TV's bumbling father figures. His catchphrase, "What a revoltin' development this is!" entered the popular lexicon.

Although Bendix is mostly remembered for the comedic Riley, he was also an accomplished dramatic actor.

He played a gangster's sadistic henchman in the 1942 film noir, The Glass Key. In one scene, Bendix's character administers an extended, brutal beating to the protagonist played by Alan Ladd that's still difficult to watch eighty years later. Supposedly, during the filming, Bendix accidentally landed a punch and knocked Ladd unconscious.

One of my paintings for a 2008 art show was based on that scene, and was also used for the exhibit poster.
If you have an opportunity to see The Glass Key, I recommend checking it out, although you might close your eyes during the scene described above.

I don't think there's anything in our latest comics that might make you squeamish, but let's take a look to be sure.

These two finally realized that they could profit by working together. BB blows down the straw and stick houses, and the practical foreman builds a brick structure. 

The Infinite Monkey Theorem, in comic form. The probability isn't zero, but it's close enough.

The passenger was doing research for his upcoming book, The Stock Market for Dummies.

Some forms of voodoo cause confusion rather than pain.
My limited familiarity with opera comes almost entirely from Warner Brothers cartoons. Being of Italian heritage, I really ought to know and appreciate more about this art form. For the most part, I enjoyed the few operas I've attended, although I must admit that during The Barber of Seville, I was waiting for Bugs Bunny to shave Elmer Fudd's beard using a tiny lawnmower.

In decades past, most people had at least a passing familiarity with operatic plots and music, which is why they were regularly referenced in popular entertainment like animated cartoons, and even TV commercials.

I knew that some readers might not get a gag based on an opera, but figured this was accessible enough, with its pun on a title most people have at least heard mentioned. Plus, the opera is about a troupe of clowns, and I rarely miss an opportunity to draw a clown comic.

I liked this one enough to schedule it for a Friday, which is where I normally place the strongest gag of the week.

Although I'm happy with the panel, I somehow managed to leave the caption box off the strip version, leaving a joke with no punchline.

I was unaware of this error until a reader pointed it out online, for which I am grateful, although my embarrassment is at least equal to my gratitude. Here's the corrected strip.

My apologies to all readers who saw the strip and were left scratching their heads. It wasn't you, it was me!

Saturday's caption refers to the nonspeaking character, and is an example of what's called an unpaired word. These are words which ought to exist as the opposite of a familiar word, such as "whelmed" as an antonym of "overwhelmed."

That's the latest batch of drollery from Bizarro Studios North. Thanks for dropping by. As always, your comments are welcomed. Be sure to visit Dan Piraro's blog to see what he has to say about these gags, and to read his always-amazing Sunday Bizarro comic.

Also, if you'd like to be notified when I publish a new blog post, you can subscribe to my email newsletter, which also includes an exclusive sneak preview of an upcoming gag.

Bonus Track

Despite my lack of operatic expertise, I listen to quite a bit of music from Italy. I love many Italian film score composers (Ennio Morricone, Piero Piccioni, Nino Rota, Bruno Nicolai, Piero Umiliani, and others), as well as singers such as Paolo Conte, Vinicio Capossela, and Carmen Consoli.

Then... there's Giannetto.

I first saw this wacky 1963 short years ago on a compilation of Scopitone films. The title translates as "I Like Celentano," and refers to Adriano Celentano  an Italian singer, songwriter, musician, comedic actor, and filmmaker, who is said to have introduced Italy to rock and roll. That's a photo of Celentano behind the desk.

I'm not able to translate the lyrics precisely, but Giannetto (whose name in English would be something like "Little Johnny") complains about how school bores him, and that he doesn't want to study, he only wants to sing.

Everything about this little film is weird and wonderful: the stage, the kid's confidently hammy performance, and that pure 60s choreography. It never fails to bring a smile to my face. Scans of some of his record covers are out there on the web, and they're equally entertaining.

Ciao for now, bambini.

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  1. Wouldn't underwhelmed be the antonym of overwhelmed? Whelmed would be neutral.

    My fave versions of Enrico Morricone's themes for Spaghetti Westerns, by the Danish National Symphony . . . the whistler is fun to watch . . .
    The Good, the Bad, the Ugly -
    A Fistful of Dollars -

    1. That makes sense. A better example might have been gusted as an antonym for disgusting.

      I love that orchestral performance!

  2. I've always wondered about "disheveled." Would the opposite be "sheveled" or "heveled?"

    1. I’d go with “sheveled.” I like the sound of it.

  3. Oh wow! I remember that Rice Krispies commercial very well and I am glad, finally, somebody I know also remembers it! One of the best commercials ever, I think!

    1. Yes, it’s an all-time favorite of mine, too!

  4. I always have been a big fan of song parodies, especially this one by the Smith Street Society Jazz Band:

    The bear missed the train, the bear missed the train, The bear missed the train and now he's walking. The bear missed the train, the bear missed the train, The bear missed the train and now he's walking. And now he's walking far, and now he's walking near, And now he's riding in a car, and now he's drinking a can of beer! The bear missed the train, the bear missed the train, The bear missed the train and now he's walking.

  5. Hi,
    flattered you think of Italy from time to time. Yes, Giannetto doesn’t like to go to school, and he cannot think about anything else but Celentano and to be singing and dancing just like him!

    Greetings from Vigevano, Italy
    Max Famoso

  6. Famous Patrick: I scrutablized it for you:

    From the late Middle English word, now obsolete, 'dishevely,' which derives from Old French deschevelé, past participle of descheveler, based on chevel, 'hair,' from Latin capillus. Originally it meant 'having the hair uncovered' and later it referred to the hair itself, hanging loose, and so messy or untidy.

  7. Is this a tip of the pen to Alison Bechdel? Your character looks very familiar!

  8. Gianetto looks like Allan Sherman doing a forced perspective bit.

  9. Thanks for the side trip to Bugs - I always think of Figaro as the classic example of a Bugs Bunny cartoon. This time, however, I noticed something I hadn't picked up on before and I think is actually rather rare in cartoon characters. At the point the piano solos while Bugs is working on Elmer's head, Bugs has five digits on each hand instead of the traditional four. Shocking. Then it switches back. How does he do that?

  10. Interesting blurb about William Bendix. He and Alan Ladd were in several films together, and were very close friends. (Indeed, on one occasion when Ladd became severely depressed---as he frequently did---he begged Bendix to come to California and hang out with him. Bendix regretfully begged off, as he was starring in a Broadway play at the time. Ladd offered to buy out his contract so he could leave the show, but Bendix refused, out of a sense of obligation to his co-stars.)

  11. I wonder what Gianetto is doing now and if he is still alive almost 60 years later.

  12. Thank you, TransparencyCNP.

    This would mean that the opposite would likely be "sheveled."

    My late wife always pronounced it: Diss-HEAVE-uld, which made me chuckle.