Friday, September 30, 2011


I recently got two very interesting comments: one by Brian regarding early childhood, and one by Roberto regarding the best way to pass a difficult AP language course, which I assume is French. I'm no expert in either of these subjects, but this is a theory site, so I feel obligated to take a stab at it. I'll tackle the language question first, and reply to Brian in another post..

Roberto: Man, my heart really goes out to you! I had a lot of trouble with French and Latin in school, which is odd, because I liked the subjects. I feel certain I could have done better if the classes had only slowed down, and maybe put more emphasis on aesthetics...but maybe I'm just making excuses.

Anyway, my advice is to get all the tutoring you can afford or can handle. Use tutors for the entire year if need be. If that doesn't help, and you're looking at a possible failing grade, then make a cold analysis of what's needed to pass. The teachers want you know grammar and irregular verbs....but maybe you can squeak through (just barely) by studying the easier things instead, like vocabulary, prefixes, translation and regular verbs.

The only other thing I can think of is to acquire a couple of raggedy old thrift-store textbooks that might explain some things in a way that excites you more than the textbook you're using. Then there's always flash cards. Or get a girlfriend who's good at French! I'm afraid that's all I can think of. Does anybody else have a thought about this?

How would I teach French 101 if I were qualified (which I'm not)? Well, for one thing I'd use more English in class than most teachers, and not rely on the total immersion technique which is popular now. Not only that, I'd require only "pigeon" French in the beginning...but in copious amounts.

What's wrong with pigeon? I'd cheerfully accept bad, ungrammatical speech, as long it succeeded in communicating. If a student said the equivalent of "Jean go library yesterday," instead of "Jean went to the library," I'd give him a passing grade. That's the way little kids learn their native language. They speak pigeon first, then refine it as they learn more.

I should add that if you speak this way in France they'll kill you. 

 Of course pigeon won't give students a love for the language. You need first rate literature and rhetoric for that. To heck with a steady diet of "Paul, open the window please." Students need to learn exciting things too, things "La Marseillaise." YouTube has an excerpt of that song that was used in "Casablanca." Embedding isn't allowed, so check it out here:

 I'd love to hear a whole class sing this with passion. Maybe a couple of the students could sing the part of the nazi officers whose own song is drowned out. 

Here's (above) the same anthem sung more clearly, and with English subtitles. Boy, there's a big disconnect between the way the language is written and the way it sounds. No wonder students have trouble with it!

I love the French. They have a spirit that's bracing and unique, and which is exemplified by this amazing song (above) by Edith Piaf. Piaf delivers her nasal sounds and her "R's" like a master. The language is too often dumbed down to make it easier for foreigners to learn. I prefer it full strength, like it is here (but I would only enforce it that way in French 102).

If the video won't play, then click on this link to hear it on YouTube:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


TV ANNOUNCER (VO): "Not Godzilla, not King Kong, but gigantic women as tall as skyscrapers wander the streets of our great city! Who are they? Where did they come from? What do they want? Scientists are baffled, and the police are powerless to stop them! All we can say for sure, is that they seem to be searching for something....but for what?"

TV ANNOUNCER (VO): "They're peeping in windows..."

TV ANNOUNCER (VO): "...scouring rooftops...."

TV ANNOUNCER (VO): "...and listening to what goes on inside buildings! But why!? What are they looking for!???"

TV ANNOUNCER (VO): "On the streets thousands flee in terror."

TV ANNOUNCER (VO): "Roads and airports are congested as a panic-stricken population attempts to flee. The question on everybody's minds is: 'Who are these women? What do they want!??' " 


CO-WORKER #1: "Oh, my God! One of those women is outside right now! We're all 
gonna die!"

UNCLE EDDIE (EXASPERATED): "(Sigh!) You're not going to die. Nobody's going to die, except maybe me. I'm the one they're looking for."

CO-WORKER #2: "YOU!!!??? The office boy? YOU'RE the one they're looking for??? Why?"

UNCLE EDDIE: "Weeeell, they're kinda' my old girlfriends. They were all too short, and I like tall girls, so I used to sneak vitamins into their drinks. I guess I over did it. "

CO-WORKER #3: "Well, tell them to go away!"

UNCLE EDDIE: "You can't just tell somebody 50ft. tall to go away! 

UNCLE EDDIE: "Look, just chill out a little longer, and when they can't find me, they'll go away. They'll never, ever find me here!" 

GIANT: "Eddie!? Is that you?"

The giant takes off her dress and does a sultry rub against the side of the building.

GIRLFRIEND #4: "Ooooh, Eddie! I've been looking for you...sooooo long!"

ON THE STREET: Eddie's car careens out of the parking garage. 

UNCLE EDDIE: "I gotta get outta here!"

Another girlfriend blocks the way.

GIRLFRIEND #5: " Eddie, there you are! Let's have lunch!"

UNCLE EDDIE (VO): "Good Grief!"

SCREEEEECH! The car screeches to a halt then takes off in a different direction.

MATILDA: "Eddie! It's me, Matilda! I still have your Tiny Tim records!"


UNCLE EDDIE (VO): "Sorry, Matilda! 'Can't talk now!"

DAISY: "Eddie! At last I..."

UNCLE EDDIE (VO): "Sorry Daisy! 'Gotta go!"

Eddie's car races through traffic, takes lots of shortcuts.

UNCLE EDDIE (VO): "Sorry! Pardon me!"

UNCLE EDDIE (VO): "So Sorry!"

UNCLE EDDIE (VO): "Excuse me! Sorry!

UNCLE EDDIE (VO): "Beg your pardon! Excuse me! Pardon!"

UNCLE EDDIE: "Huh? What's this?" 

UNCLE EDDIE (VO): "I'll just park infront of this orange thing. They'll never find me here."

MILDRED (VO): "Soooo THERE you are!!!!"

MILDRED: "It's me...Mildred, your girlfriend! You were running away, weren't you? Oooohh, I'm so mad! I could..."

MILDRED: "....Ha ha! Just kidding! You know I could never be mad at you! I like you so much, I could just eat you up..."


UNCLE EDDIE: "Um, how 'bout a cup of coffee? You know, all sweet and everything, just the way you like it!?"

EXT. COFFEE SHOP, LATER: Mildred waits outside while Uncle Eddie goes inside to score some coffee. A passer-by stops to stare. 

MILDRED: "What are YOU looking at!?"


STARBUCKS EMPLOYEE:  "And what size will that coffee be, sir? Large, larger, or "grande?"

He looks back at Mildred (outside).

UNCLE EDDIE: "I'll have the MUCHO, MUCHO, MUCHO, MUCHO, MUCHO, MUCHO, MUCHO, MUCHO GRANDE please, with a couple of sacks of sugar and, oh yeah...a 2X4 to stir it with!


Many thanks to GARCIA ACCASBEL for the great girl photography! 

Sunday, September 25, 2011


I'm proud of the way I brought up my kids. From my point of view my kids had a near ideal childhood immersed as they were in Shakespeare, Dickens, science, Kurtzman's Mad, Sid Caesar, Ernie Kovacs, Monty Python, Mr. Bean, Clampett and all that. Imagine my shock when Mike showed me this article (excerpt above) from The Onion, which claimed that kids raised that way led shabby, friendless lives, which would almost certainly culminate in depression and suicide. Okay, I exaggerate, but only a little.

Let's try another excerpt from the article (below) (click to enlarge):

Imagine my greater shock when I showed the article to my adult daughter, and she agreed with it. She said she did have trouble making friends in grammar school because nobody her own age read anything she read, or even showed any interest in it. She was glad for what she still thinks was a better than average early education, but she said it came at a  price, definitely a price. Man, I felt terrible!

So what am I to make of this? Am I a bum?

Read the whole article at The Onion site:,26132/

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


My computer's fixed!!!! Many, many thanks to Steve Worth for the repair! He not only fixed the machine, but he talked me through every step so I can do the next fix myself. Now I can put up photo stories and comics just like real bloggers do!

I'll try to do a photo story tomorrow!

BTW: Thanks to Kellie and Anonymous for the useful repair tips!

Monday, September 19, 2011


Dark Horse just published an anthology of stories from "Crime Does Not Pay," for my money one of the best adult comic books ever. I skimmed my friend Mike's copy of the book, and I got the impression that the book's stories were chosen for the writing, and not the artwork, but maybe I'm wrong. Jack Cole used to draw for this comic, and so did Paul Gustafson.

You never heard of Gustafson? That's a sample of his work above. He had a real cinematic style. How do you like that second panel where we see ordinary pedestrians waiting for a light to change from the vantage point of some evil force lurking in the shadows?

The comic was edited by Charles Biro and Bob Wood in the early forties. In real life, Wood lived the life he wrote about and ended up beating his wife to death with a steam iron. He went to prison for it, and was murdered by another inmate.

"Crimes by Women" looks like a pretty good title too, to judge by the cover. There were a lot of crime titles in those days.

Look at that policeman (above)! He looks like he was drawn by Kirby, but I think the drawing is credited to someone else.

"Murder Incorporated" (above)  looks like an interesting comic.... does "Crime Reporter!" I wish I could read these comics.

Geez, here (above) we have the shocking immediacy of seeing a man shot at point blank range from the point of view of the shooter.

I hate to seem like a prude, but maybe these comics were too strong for kids. They make crime and sadism look exciting in a way that EC comics never did.

How do you like the far away look (above) on the stabber's face? 'Probably an editor's change.