Sunday, August 1, 2010
Thursday, July 15, 2010
St. Swithin was a beloved ninth-century bishop of Winchester, England, who requested that he be buried in the churchyard--some say to be close to the common people, whom he loved; some say so that he could enjoy God's gift of rain for all eternity. When he died in 862, his request was honored. About 100 years later, however, it was deemed unseemly that so holy a man should rest in a common grave. On July 15, the saint's feast day, the people attempted to enshrine his remains in his church. Legend has it, however, that St. Swithin caused torrential rains to fall for 40 days, until the intended transfer was abandoned. This is the source of a very old Scottish weather proverb regarding rain on July 15: "St. Swithin's Day if thou dost rain, / For forty days it will remain."
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Saturday, June 5, 2010
From Time Magazine, April 15, 1966:
One night, while listening to a radio announcer spieling a tasteless commercial, gagman Roger Price exploded. "I can't stand it any longer," he shouted at the obnoxious squawk. Then he began to think about all the other things he couldn't stand any longer: solidly frozen butter pats, astrology, karate, clergymen who discourse learnedly on sex. But what was the point in ranting and raving when nobody else was listening? "That's when I decided to complain out loud in public," recalls Price. "The thing every man wants to do."
No Labels. Such were the origins of Grump, a year-old, 16-page bimonthly magazine that ridicules in print, photo and drawing what Price considers the "excesses of today's consumer culture" —everything from hamburgers named "Big Daddy" to "the proliferation of venality" to newspapers that "congratulate you during a blackout for not starting a riot." Grump even invents some excesses of its own: a game called "skull diving," for example, in which a man wearing a football helmet topped by a large spring bounces on his head out of the window onto the street. The instant the skull strikes the pavement is known as the "Moment of Migraine."
The current issue contains a story about an archprotester named Sheppy West who is called upon to sing "My Rotten Country, 'Tis of Thee" at a rally, and offers instead the "ultimate protest," a prolonged belch that "moves up chromatically with a jazz feeling and finishes off with a big tympani effect." The audience is overcome. "It's as if Sheppy has said something personal to everyone and they are with it and relating. He has communicated. It just goes to show, if you got it inside of you, it's bound to come out."
Time to Go Straight. Unlike most other shoestring satirical publications that flood the market these days, Grump carries no identifiable political label. "People get a pleasant surprise when they open Grump" says Price, "because they think any new magazine is either leftist or dirty. We are in the moral middle."
Out in that middle ground, Price has built up a 46,000 circulation for his magazine, and although he steadfastly refuses to run any ads, at 50¢ a copy he is running close to the black. He pares expenses by paying minimal fees to contributors and employing a 15-year-old photographer. "If I ask him for a sharp picture," says Price, "he gives me a sharp picture, without any of this prima-donna or artistic jazz."
A gag writer for Bob Hope for five years and a successful stand-up comedian himself, Price claims he has "bummed around" for the last few years. At 44, he plans to "go straight" now and devote most of his time to Grump. "Today's humor is like frozen food," he says. "Children grow up not only ignorant of what real, good food is but also of what real humor is." Price hopes to enrich their diet.