Saturday, May 27, 2017

THE NEW IKEA SUPER STORE

Ikea just opened up it's largest American store, IKEA Burbank, and it's a doosey! The exterior is ugly in the extreme...a real eyesore... but if you can resist the temptation to flee you'll be richly rewarded.


The interior space is so large that some common items are doubled up just to fill the void, and the result is sometimes startling and innovative...like that table above, for instance.

It's actually two tables joined together. Sure, it would be great for a large dinner party but this is 2017 when food is considered medicine and you can't find two people who share the same diet. I like the table because it invites thinking about large work surfaces. I like to spread out when I work, don't you?


 Wow! Size really does matter! The large space surrounding the bed prompts a re-thinking of what a bedroom really is. This is a room for a creative and productive person who loves his work. It's one where the sleeper wakes up in the middle of the night and works for a couple of hours before going back to sleep.

In recent decades a lot's been written about the creative nature of sleep. We acknowledge that when we reach a creative impasse and decide to "sleep on it." How often have we all woken up and spent half an hour on our backs immobilized by our half sleeping brain still sifting through ideas at a breakneck pace?


Above, that's the identical bed in a different diorama surrounded by a different layout. Holy Cow! The store is so big that it can afford to show two ways of setting off the same furniture!


Here's an interesting concept: the room within a room...a sort of thinking area near the dining room table in the foreground. I get some of my best ideas during meal time. How convenient it would be to have a nearby room where I could work on those ideas immediately after having them.


 Here's (above) the thinking room interior. Notice the low, fake ceiling.


Notice also that the room is mostly white and the pictures on the wall are generic. The idea is to minimize distractions.

BTW, I'm aware that suddenly leaving the table to work is rude to the friends who remain. I'm also aware that a nearby thinking room seems terribly contrived and eccentric. Obviously an idea like this requires modification to work in the real world. It's just fun to think about.



Thursday, May 25, 2017

ENGLISH MYSTERY NOVELS

According to a book called "Murder Ink," England is a country steeped in its history of beheadings and quirky murders.


Something in the English character makes the people there fond of crime stories. 


This (above) is how the rest of the world views a typical English home. Is the picture accurate?  No, but like a lot of people I want to believe that even the Monty Python ladies live in a house with a trap door or a portrait with cut-out eyes (spy-style) over the mantle.


Here's (above) an English village, the site of at least half the murders in mystery novels. It has a cycling vicar, a tea shop, a post office where residents read each other's mail, and a pub.


The pub's name is probably derived from some gruesome historical event. There's (above) that headless thing again.


Haw! For some the idea of an honest lawyer will seem more bizarre than the severed head.


Here's (above) Black Shuck, a mysterious hound that believers say wanders around rural England in search of victims.


I don't want to exclude London, so here's (above) the stately Old Scotland Yard building situated near the Thames.


Not so photogenic was London's old Newgate Prison, described by prisoners as Hell on Earth.


Newgate is gone now but I think a fragment (above) still survives.


The prison was conveniently located near the courts at The Old Bailey.


Here's (above) a holding cell where inmates waited for their hearings to begin. It doesn't look very comfortable.


I'm guessing that this drawing depicts the goings on in that cell, though it seems doubtful that the artist ever personally witnessed it.


Prisoners were expected to provide their own food. Relatives and friends would drop food into the cell through a hole in the ceiling.


Escapes from Newgate could be lavishly detailed in the press. Here (above) every obstacle the convict had to surmount was carefully documented.

Gee, thinking about all this makes me want to visit England.


Monday, May 22, 2017

FLETCHER HANKS: CREATOR OF STARDUST

Stardust is a superhero who orbits the globe in a spaceship that alerts him whenever a crime's committed on Earth. 

Once alerted he slither-flies down to Earth and grabs the evil-doers.

"Grabs," you say? "What's so bad about being grabbed?" Trust me, it's bad. You never want to be grabbed by this guy.


When he's really mad he's not above separating bad guys from their heads. 


Grievous crimes require grievous penalties. For the crime of eliminating Earth's gravity and killing millions of innocent people... 


...the perpetrator is not only rudely grabbed but forced to spend eternity in a snow filled room in a floating apartment building.


Under an assumed name, and full of crime combatting zeal, Hanks also created Fantoma, a girl version of Stardust. She polices the world's jungles.


Hanks' jungles are full of criminals.  Here (above) a man becomes a supervillain in order to take revenge on jungle gorillas who tormented him.


For a while he caused all sorts of havoc. 


Ultimately, though,  Fantoma sided with the gorillas and restored order. 


Above, Stardust's romantic side. 

I think there's a Stardust action figure out there. Gee, I wouldn't mind having one.

Friday, May 19, 2017

CRIME POETRY


Am I the only one here who likes crime poems? Here's (below) the best one I know of.  When I was a kid it came with my board game, "Clue." I don't know the author's name.





Nice, huh? It's robust simplicity begs comparison with Service's "Dangerous Dan McGrew." It's so playful and unpretentious...so delightfully unmodern.  For comparison here's (below) a ponderous contemporary crime poem:

My beef with this poem (above) is that it saves the true meaning for the end. That's such a silly, modern thing to do. Apparently, the poet isn't inspired by the thrill of the chase. At the end we discover that he's only interested in detection as a metaphor for a sad comment on life.


My advice to all poets is to avoid melancholy zingers at the end of what you write. Avoid the temptation to bait and switch. Let the poem be about what attracted the reader to it in the first place. If there's a subtext or a secondary meaning let it be made by the stylistic zeal embedded in the writing.


Monday, May 15, 2017

GUS MAGER AND RUDOLPH DIRKS


While perusing samples of Gus Mager's strip "Hawkshaw the Detective" I stumbled on this example (above) of Hawkshaw done in the style of Rudolph Dirks, the "Katzenjammer Kids" artist. What the Heck!??? Was it Mager influenced by Dirks or was it an active collaboration? 
  

Either way the merging of the two styles was a match made in Heaven. Here's (above) the same page shown smaller.  The layout is arguably as beautiful as anything either man accomplished on his own.

Here's another example, and this time I'll guess that it's pure Gus Mager with Dirks serving only as an influence.

According to Stripper's Guide, Dirks asked Mager to do the gag strip above Katzenjammer so we know the two men knew each other.

Here's (above) Cliff Sterrett doing Mager. I wonder how that came about?



Monday, May 08, 2017

SPACE INVADERS

If ever space aliens invade the Earth they'll almost certainly start with easy targets like children and animals.

Some believe the invasion has already started. 


How else to explain cow tipping?


Intellectuals assure us that there's nothing to worry about.


 Well, they must know what they're talking about.  After all, they study stuff like this.


Even so....


Then again, everyday life on the street is still so placid, so normal, so delightfully uneventful.

 
Well, mostly uneventful.


Did you read about the latest goings on up there on the moon? 


Being an astronaut is getting to be hazardous to your health.


But what do I know? I'm busy with the latest cleavage controversy. 


Thank goodness we have intellectuals to explain everything to us.

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