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June 11, 2019

Mr. Mxyztplk v Joe Btfsplk — Vowel-Deprived Throwdown: Who came first?


From Shawn Lea comes an investigation of the little-known origins of two grand vowel-deprived characters of the 20th century, Mr. Mxyztplk (above) and Joe Btfsplk (below).



Who came first: Mr. Mxyztplk or Joe Btfsplk?

Joe preceded Mr. Mxyztplk.

Joe Btfsplk's first appearance was June 11, 1942.

Mxyztplk's ((roughly pronounced Mix-yez-pit-lick, also nicknamed Mxy) first appeared in September of 1944.

Joe's creator, Al Capp, pronounced Btfsplk with a "raspberries" sound, also known as a "Bronx cheer."

Mxyzptlk appeared originally as a small bald man in a purple suit, green bow tie and purple derby hat.

This was changed to a futuristic looking orange outfit with purple trim in the mid-1950s, although the hat remained.

At around this time the spelling of Mxyzptlk's name changed (by mistake) to "Mxyz ptlk".


From Wikipedia:

After the establishment of DC Comics' multiverse in the 1960s, it was later explained that the purple-suited Mxyztplk lived in the fifth dimension connected to Earth-Two and the orange-costumed Mxyzptlk in the fifth dimension connected to Earth-One.

The Earth-One version was also retconned into Superboy stories as Master Mxyzptlk.


From Superman Homepage:

The imp known as Mr. Mxyztplk first appeared in our dimension in Superman #30 (1st series, 1944) in a story by Jerry Siegel with art by John Sikela.

For those who haven't seen the original story, you can find it in The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told trade paperback.

The bald little fellow in the purple suit and green bowtie creates all kind of havoc — including animating a naked statue he calls McGurk.

Mxy describes himself as a "court-jester" from another dimension.

The not very bright imp laughingly tells Superman that there is no way he can be tricked into saying the magic word "Klptzyxm" that will return him to his own dimension.


Saying the word, Mxy vanishes (my nickname — don't expect me to keep spelling the full name!!)

A note at the end of the tale says, "If you enjoyed the antics of Mr. Mxyztplk and would like to read of his further encounters with Superman, let us know on a penny postcard."

Obviously, Mxy was a big hit and returned many times.

The imp's name was later changed to Mxyzptlk (and for the consonant-challenged among you — the letters "t" and "p" are reversed).

He had a long history of antagonizing Superman, supposedly every 90 days, until Superman inevitably tricked him into saying his name backwards.

This restored everything back to normal and banished Mxy back to the Fifth Dimension for another 90 days.

Until the "Crisis On Infinite Earths" series rewrote DC history.

June 11, 2019 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

The official fast food French fry power rankings


After the kerfuffle resulting from last Friday's "Who makes the best French fries?" post, I thought I'd add grease to the fire by bringing you the results (above) of Los Angeles Times food columnist Lucas Kwan Peterson's exhaustive French fry survey, which drilled down really deep and brought back results from chains I've never heard of.

Long story short: Five Guys won, with McDonald's a close second (but only if you eat them within 4.5 minutes when they're "absolutely searing hot").

Without further ado, then, his introduction and judging criteria:

French fries, a.k.a. chips, aka freedom fries, aka 炸薯条, are a delightful treat enjoyed the world over, and they’re a staple of the fast-food meal.

And what is fast food, exactly?

For the purposes of this survey, I've selected chains where there's an emphasis on speed of service, you're not waited on at a table, and where there are at least a couple hundred locations, if not more.

I ordered medium- or regular-sized fries (when available) and judged them based on the two metrics: (1) taste and (2) texture, which includes fry shape and mouthfeel.

June 11, 2019 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

A visit to the Wright Flyer


Whenever I go to Washington D.C., I make sure to leave time for a visit to the Air and Space Museum.

I go there for one reason: to pay homage to the Wright Flyer (above, making its first flight at Kitty Hawk on December 17, 1903; below, as it appears today).


I never fail to feel humbled and in the presence of greatness when I stand along the enclosing railing and take my time perusing the beautiful details of this magnificent achievement.

To make your visit — should you decide it's worth the trip — even more wonderful, I strongly urge you to read beforehand David McCullough's magnificent biography,


which reveals that the Wright brothers' feats were the result of superlative attention to detail, enormous creativity, superb craftsmanship, and fierce determination.

June 11, 2019 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Where the ladybugs are

I couldn't stop watching this 27-minute-long video documenting a trip into California's Sierras to an undisclosed location where a professional ladybug hunter reveals his secret trove where they overwinter before flying off into the Central Valley to lay their eggs.

And while we're on the subject of ladybugs, how about the at-first mysterious giant green blob (below)

Screen Shot 2019-06-07 at 8.42.45 AM

that suddenly appeared on the National Weather Service (NWS) radar last Tuesday?

From NPR:

"It was very strange because it was a relatively clear day and we weren't really expecting any rain or thunderstorms," Casey Oswant, a NWS meteorologist in San Diego, told NPR. "But on our radar, we were seeing something that indicated there was something out there."

The meteorologists called a weather spotter in Wrightwood, Calif., near the blob's location in San Bernardino County.

Oswant says the spotter told them the mysterious cloud was actually a giant swarm of ladybugs.

The phenomenon is known as a ladybug "bloom," and while this one appears particularly large, Oswant says it's not the first time local meteorologists have spotted the beetles.

On the radar, the cloud of insects looked like a "light rainstorm" — not quite the density of a severe thunderstorm, she said.

They were flying about a mile above the ground in the cloud that was about 10 miles wide.

The mass of beetles was spotted heading south just before 9 p.m. on Tuesday night.

The weather watchers lost sight of the cloud overnight, and the ladybugs' current location isn't clear.

June 11, 2019 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ellsworth Kelly Postage Stamps

Screen Shot 2019-06-06 at 7.54.56 PM

Almost too beautiful to use.

Sheet of 20 "Forever" stamps: $11.

June 11, 2019 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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