Saturday, October 04, 2008

Separated at Birth: "Hey, Kool-Aid!" "OH YEAH!"

Avengers #1-196, #3-22
L: Avengers v.1 #196 (June 1980), art by George Perez, Jack Abel, and Carl Gafford
R: Avengers v.3 #22 (November 1999), art by George Perez, Al Vey, and Tom Smith
(Click picture to Hank Pym-size. That's Hank Pym-Giant Man size, not Hank Pym-Ant Man size.)



Saturday Morning Cartoon: Stone Trek: "The Deadly Ears"

The Flintstones Universe: a prehistoric world where cavemen have cars, jobs, bowling alleys, household appliances, and laugh tracks, they also have Stony Curtis
Stony Curtis

Stoney Carmichael
Stony Carmichael

and Ann-Margrock.

Ann Margrock

But in this dinosaur-encrusted world of celebrities and entertainment with rock-related names, what sort of TV shows do you think the Flintstones would watch? Huh? What kind? Huh, huh?




"Stone Trek: The Deadly Ears" created by Brian Matthews. See more episodes here.



Friday, October 03, 2008

Friday Night Fights, Ladies Night: You picked a fine time to hit me, Lucille

Lucy van Pelt

Lucille, you won't do your sister's will
Lucille, you won't do your sister's will


Lucy van Pelt

You ran out and married
But I love you still


Lucy van Pelt

Lucille, please come back where you belong
Lucille, please come back where you belong


Lucy van Pelt

I've been good to you baby
Please don't leave me alone


Lucy van Pelt

I woke up this morning
Lucille was not in sight


Lucy van Pelt

I asked my friends about her
But all their lips were tight


Lucy van Pelt

Lucille, please come back where you belong
I've been good to you baby


Lucy van Pelt

Please don't leave me alone


Lucy van Pelt

Well, I woke up this morning,
Lucille was not in sight


Lucy van Pelt

I asked my friends about her
But all their lips were tight


Lucy van Pelt

Lucille, please come back where you belong
I've been good to you baby
Please don't leave me alone


Lucy van Pelt

Lucille, baby satisfy my heart
Lucille, baby satisfy my heart
I played for it baby
And give you such a wonderful start


Lucy van Pelt



Now fire it up and read it again!:



All panels are from Peanuts by Charles Schulz, reprinted in various volumes of The Complete Peanuts, published by my good pals at Fantagraphics.



This Halloween, I'll be sitting in my pumpkin patch, waiting for the Great Bahlactus to rise up over the patch and bring candy to all the good little boys, girls, and bulls of the world.


Thursday, October 02, 2008

Cyclops hates these ads!

Cyclops hates these ads!
Full two-page spread from [Uncanny] X-Men #6 (July 1964)
Cyclops pin-up by Jack Kirby and Chic Stone
Click to Fred Dukes-size!



Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Unsettling Slang of Mister Clint Barton, Part 8

Hey, we haven't done one of these in a while, have we? No, we haven't. So let's check in with the fearlessly frantic archer of adventure, Mister Oliver Qu Clint Barton, the high-flyin' Hawkeye! He's an Avengers extreme and the superhero voted Most Likely To Shoot You In The Butt With An Arrow three times running (losing in '79 narrowly to Beast during his Robin Hood phase). Not content with mastering the fine art of toxophilousity, Mister Hawkeye is also best known for shooting off his big mouth. Even during a tender scene with Wanda "No, I would never rewrite the world in my father's image and reduce the world mutant population to fewer than 200, why do you ask?" Maximoff, Clint's likely to spoil a sentimental moment with a discussion of religion:

Avengers #181
Panels from Avengers #181 (March 1979), written by David Michelinie, pencils by John Byrne, inks by Dan Green, colors by Françoise Mouly (yes, that Françoise Mouly), lettering by Elaine Heinl
(Click to embiggen. Or, direct your tender eyes below:)

Avengers #181


Whoa, that's a conundrum for the ages, Hawkeye. Maybe you should consult with one of the Avengers who knows a little more about religion, like, say, Thor. But in truth, take a poll of most ursines and I think you'll find very, very few are Roman Catholic...

Bear Pope


Well. Whaddaya know! Like the proverbial stopped clock, Hawkeye's right at least twice a day. Ain't that the truth, Mister Barton?
Avengers #181



Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tuesday Night Tuesdays: Introduce me to that big blonde/She's got a touch of Tuesday Weld

Hey kids! Once again it's Tuesday night, and you all know what that means...time for Tuesday Night Tuesdays!

On tonight's edition of TNT, let's drop in on war grunt, swingin' spy, ladies' man and presidential candidate Nick Fury in one of his groovy appearances of the sixties, takin' a breather from wooin' the skirts and leavin' the ladies breathless to shill his own majorly-magnificent Marvel mag, Strange Tales:

House ad for Strange Tales


Darn straight, Mister Fury. But hey, what's this?:

Arrow


Nick Fury? Could he possibly be mistaken for Tuesday Weld? Hmmm, let's see. Here's Nick...

Nick Fury


And this is Tuesday Weld:

Tuesday Weld


Whoa. Tough call. Let's take one more gander at Nick:

Nick Fury


And let's check in once again with Tuesday:

Tuesday Weld


So you see, after all, Nick Fury and Tuesday Weld: not the same thing at all.

Which is not to say that, like a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, you don't get the best of both worlds by cramming the two of them together in some over-the-top 1960s action-adventure film:

Nick Fury and Tuesday Weld


And, hey, what the heck: If I Ran Marvel Comics™, the pair of 'em would be teamin' up every month in glorious four-color:

Strange Tales


Happy Tuesday, everybody!


Monday, September 29, 2008

A Wodehouse a Week #75: The Prince and Betty

A Wodehouse a Week banner

The Prince and Betty. No, not
The Prince and Betty


but the 1912 novel by...aw, you guessed it, P. G. Wodehouse. The Prince and Betty is something of an odd duck. Plop it in your lap with a trayful of buttered toast at your elbow and turn page one and you're instantly transported to the tiny Mediterranean island paradise known as Mervo, where millionaire Benjamin Scobell plots to turn Mervo into the next Monte Carlo-style gambling paradise, complete with hot and cold running chorus girls, 24-hour baccarat and all the cheap shrimp cocktail you can shovel down your gullet. He's built an expansive casino and is only missing one tourist draw that Monte Carlo can boast of: an honest-to-goodness royal Prince. A simple matter to dispatch his secretary Crump to dig up and bring back the young man who's the real heir to the throne, his family long-ousted by the republic.

Meanwhile, Scobell's stepdaughter Betty pines for her one true love. In what seems like a very open-minded plot for 1912, Betty reveals the name of that love:
Elsa leaned forward eagerly.

'Who, Betty?'

'You don't know him.'

'But what's his name?'

Betty hesitated.

'Well, if I am on the witness-stand—Maude.'
Hotchy motchy! That's some progressive stuff for the nineteen-teens. But wait, faithful reader:
'Maude? I thought you said a man?'

'It's his name. John Maude.'

'But, Betty! Why didn't you tell me before? This is tremendously interesting.'
Yes it is...especially when (could you guess it?) loverboy John Maude and the newly reinstated Prince of Mervo turn out to be one and the same, and both of him are pretty likeable—a stalwart Wodehouse hero:
Ten days after Mr Scobell's visit to General Poineau, John, Prince of Mervo, ignorant of the greatness so soon to be thrust upon him, was strolling thoughtfully along one of the main thoroughfares of that outpost of civilization, Jersey City. He was a big young man, tall and large of limb. His shoulders especially were of the massive type expressly designed by nature for driving wide gaps in the opposing line on the gridiron. He looked like one of nature's center-rushes, and had, indeed, played in that position for Harvard during two strenuous seasons. His face wore an expression of invincible good-humor. He had a wide, good-natured mouth, and a pair of friendly gray eyes. One felt that he liked his follow men and would be surprised and pained if they did not like him.
and becoming royal doesn't go to his head; John's still the same salt-of-the-earth reg'lar guy he always is:
At this point Mr Scobell made his presence felt.

'Glad to meet you, Prince,' he said, coming forward. 'Scobell's my name. Shake hands with General Poineau. No, that's wrong. I guess he kisses your hand, don't he?'

'I'll swing on him if he does,' said John, cheerfully.
Golly. I think I'm falling in love with him.

Just like they always do, complications ensure. (Darn those complications!) Tho' John and Betty are reunited and it feels so good, his conscience won't allow the home of his ancestors to become a gambling haven, and he exercises le droit seigneur to shut down the casino. Around this point, your buttered toast cooling and forgotten, your bottom creeps to the edge of your seat and you lean over the book, enthralled, expecting the rest of the novel to be a romantic swirling Ruritanian romance of princes with mistaken identities and swashbuckling sword fights and court orchestras feverishly playing Strauss's Trisch-Trasch Polka.

And then, on page sixty-five, the thing suddenly turns into The Gangs of New York.

As Mike Nelson so succinctly opined during a fast scene change in a Coleman Francis movie: "Agh! My neck got broken during that jump cut!" But had he been born much earlier and he and his steampunk auto-mat-ons engaged to poke japes at the nickeoleon cinemo-entertainments, Nelson might have been referring to the second two-thirds of The Prince and Betty, which are set in the world of New York City tabloid journalism, so far from Mervo that you may as well take off your tropical shirt and sunglasses. John abdicates the throne rather than put up with being a puppet ruler, and Betty, who has already run away from him in dismay, falls into steady work as a typist for the genial and low-key periodical Peaceful Moments, overseen by the talkative, philosophical, and monocled Rupert Smith:
He was a young man of spirit and resource. His appearance, to those who did not know him, hardly suggested this. He was very tall and thin, with a dark, solemn face. He was a purist in the matter of clothes, and even in times of storm and stress presented an immaculate appearance to the world. In his left eye, attached to a cord, he wore a monocle.

Through this, at the present moment, he was gazing benevolently at Mr Renshaw, as the latter fussed about the office in the throes of departure. To the editor's rapid fire of advice and warning he listened with the pleased and indulgent air of a father whose infant son frisks before him. Mr Renshaw interested him. To Smith's mind Mr Renshaw, put him in any show you pleased, would alone have been worth the price of admission.

'Well,' chirruped the holiday-maker—he was a little man with a long neck, and he always chirruped—'Well, I think that is all, Mr Smith. Oh, ah, yes! The stenographer. You will need a new stenographer.'

The Peaceful Moments stenographer had resigned her position three days before, in order to get married.

'Unquestionably, Comrade Renshaw,' said Smith. 'A blonde.'

Mr Renshaw looked annoyed.

'I have told you before, Mr Smith, I object to your addressing me as Comrade. It is not—it is not—er—fitting.'

Smith waved a deprecating hand.

'Say no more,' he said. 'I will correct the habit. I have been studying the principles of Socialism somewhat deeply of late, and I came to the conclusion that I must join the cause. It looked good to me. You work for the equal distribution of property, and start in by swiping all you can and sitting on it. A noble scheme. Me for it. But I am interrupting you.'

Mr Renshaw had to pause for a moment to reorganize his ideas.

'I think—ah, yes. I think it would be best perhaps to wait for a day or two in case Mrs Oakley should recommend someone. I mentioned the vacancy in the office to her, and she said she would give the matter her attention. I should prefer, if possible, to give the place to her nominee. She—'

'—has eighteen million a year,' said Smith. 'I understand. Scatter seeds of kindness.'

Mr Renshaw looked at him sharply. Smith's face was solemn and thoughtful.

'Nothing of the kind,' the editor said, after a pause. 'I should prefer Mrs Oakley's nominee because Mrs Oakley is a shrewd, practical woman who—er—who—who, in fact—'

'Just so,' said Smith, eying him gravely through the monocle. 'Entirely.'

The scrutiny irritated Mr Renshaw.

'Do put that thing away, Mr Smith,' he said.

'That thing?'

'Yes, that ridiculous glass. Put it away.'

'Instantly,' said Smith, replacing the monocle in his vest-pocket. 'You object to it? Well, well, many people do. We all have these curious likes and dislikes. It is these clashings of personal taste which constitute what we call life. Yes. You were saying?'

Mr Renshaw wrinkled his forehead.

'I have forgotten what I intended to say,' he said querulously. 'You have driven it out of my head.'
Huh! sez I, scratching my little stuffed head as I read this bit. This Smith fellow reminds me an awfully lot of another Wodehouse character. Wears a monocle, monopolizes the conversation, calls his peers 'Comrade'...why, this Smith character

(Yes, I actually thought this distinctly before I realized exactly what I was saying)

this Smith character reminds me a lot of Psmith.

Bang! goes my hoof on my forehead as the other shoe or the shiny penny drops and the similarity of the names makes perfect sense: no simple coincidence; this is Rupert Psmith, he of the silent P and the later Wodehouse adventures like Psmith in the City. This is his first full-fledged appearance, and if he's missing his P, very nearly everything else is in place. Our Ruritanian romance has turned into a Psmith adventure. Betty helps the plot along by rescuing the cat of a Manhattan tough guy crime boss (thus ensuring his undying gratitude), and john shows up much later to accompany Psmith Smith on his muckraking newsmaking adventures, but the love story if pretty much tabled in favor of Smith, Journalist, as the pleasant and quiet Peaceful Moments becomes a hard-hitting tabloid that promotes boxing matches and enflames the ire of the mobs by running a series of exposés on the dismal living conditions in the New York slums, turning it into a paper J. Jonah Jameson himself would be proud of, albeit unusually free of Spider-Man bashing. There's plenty of chasing in and across rooftops, being hit by the head with coshes and rival gangs facing off against each other, and the whole thing seems to be The Gangs of New York except with a few jokes along the way and some kisses at the end.

But delve in deep like the journalistic muckraking of Smith and Co. to find the true origins of this novel and its dual two-face nature is revealed. In 1912 Wodehouse released "The Prince and Betty" in serial form in The Strand magazine; it was later collected into a novel of the same name, but not the one I've read this week. Instead, the action is confined to Mervo, the main players to John and Betty, and their love story the primary action. When the novel was published later that same year in the United States, Wodehouse substantially expanded it by integrating most of the plot of a 1909 magazine serial from The Captain magazine that starred (P)smith and Mike. Thus, the edition I've been reading is what's known as the "American version" of The Prince and Betty, which, much like Composite Superman or Certs with Retsin, contains two, two, two things in one. To complicate matters, Wodehouse rewrote and recombined the two plots yet again in 1931 as a magazine serial under the title A Prince for Hire. It's not considered part of the true Wodehouse book canon as it was never originally published in book form (but here's a news story of a publishing endeavor that eventually brought it out in a 2003 limited edition that I need to get my hooves on one of these days. C'mon, A Prince for Hire...to paraphrase Billy Ocean, get out of my dreams and only my shelves!) And there's a 1919 silent film version that featured a young Boris Karloff (as one of the gangsters? We can only hope!). Clearly this evergreen plot was fodder for a lot of Wodehouse's creations, and if the American patchwork version of The Prince and Betty is a wee creaky at times, it makes up for it with some fine dialogue, the sparkling characters of Smith and his comrades, and some really lovely and still-accurate descriptions of New York City:
New York is an egotist. It will suffer no divided attention. "Look at me!" says the voice of the city imperiously, and its children obey. It snatches their thoughts from their inner griefs, and concentrates them on the pageant that rolls unceasingly from one end of the island to the other. One may despair in New York, but it is difficult to brood on the past; for New York is the City of the Present, the City of Things that are Going On.
But finally, I can't find fault with a Wodehouse book that so jovially addresses me by name:
John beamed down on them.

'That's right,' he said. 'Bully! I knew you could get a move on as quick as anyone else, if you gave your minds to it.'
Golly. Thank you, Mister Wodehouse.

A Wodehouse a Week #75: The Prince and Betty


The Prince and Betty is one of those early Wodehouse novels that, until recently, has been out of print just about forever. Why, if it weren't for the internet itself, we'da scarcely been able to read it: here's the online free text version. But for those of you who prefer to hold a book in your hands and turn the pages with barely-concealed excitement and mounting thrills, well, then, thanks to the modern-day invention of the twenty-first century, The Prince and Betty is now in the public domain and has been republished in Arc Manor's series of inexpensive early Wodehouse paperbacks. Their jacket designs are often amateur and cartoonish and the books are typeset cheaply with regrettable typos that suggest it was optical-scanned without proofreading: 'His first act, on landing, w5as to proceed...' says the opening of Chapter Four, and there's a rogue asterisk in the first sentence of page one: 'A pretty girl in a blue dress came out of the house, and began to walk slowly across the terrace to where Elsa Keith sat with Marvin Rossiter in the* shade of the big sycamore.' But skim over these minor annoyances and dive into Mervo and New York—it's well worth the adventure.

Oh, and what of the adventures of Smith/Psmith and friends? If The Prince and Betty existed in two forms, with Smith and without, is the same true for the Psmith storyline: does it exist shorn of its Mervonian origins? But of course!—Wodehouse went back to the well once again for the 1915 Psmith novel Psmith Journalist, a rewriting of the second two-thirds of the American version of The Prince and Betty. Let's read it next week, shall we? Yes, let's! See you then!

A Wodehouse a Week Index.


The real reason Marvel Comics stopped printing readers' letters.

Letter from Bill Bondurant
Letter from Tales to Astonish #76 (February 1966)



Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Wodehouse a Week #74: Jill the Reckless

A Wodehouse a Week banner

Derek drew at his cigar, and watched the smoke as it curled to the ceiling.

'It's about Jill.'

Freddie signified his interest by wriggling still further sideways.

'Jill, eh?'

'Freddie, she's so damned impulsive!'

Freddie nearly rolled out of his chair. This, he took it, was what writing-chappies called a coincidence.

'Rummy you should say that,' he ejaculated. 'I was telling her exactly the same thing myself only this evening.'

—from Jill the Reckless by P. G. Wodehouse

This week's Wodehouse is Jill the Reckless (1921, titled The Little Warrior in the USA). How reckless is Jill Mariner? Well, she ticks off her snobbish fiancé Derek by having dinner with an old chum from her childhood in Chapter Four, and by Chapter Five she's pinched by the Metropolitan Police for assault. She's got a perfectly good reason, of course—Jill's pleasant and smart and not at all the Frank Castle type: she was thrashing an animal abuser who was trying to attack an escape parrot. But by far the most reckless thing young Jill does is lose her family fortune. Rather, it's her charming rogue of an Uncle Chris (a sort of proto-Uncle Fred in the Wodehouse canon) who loses it all on the stock market. For this she's shunned by her fiancé and his family, and like all good heroines off to make their way in life, she escapes to New York to take a job as a chorus girl on the Broadway stage. Reckless? Mmm, by the standards of Lindsay Lohan or Paris Hilton, Our Miss Mariner is practically Mother Cabrini.

Thus begins one of Wodehouse's early comedy-romances, and it's a wonderful little fluffy piece of adventure, one of my favorite of his between-the-war non-series books. Jill is one of Wodehouse's favorite names for a heroine (remind me to someday do that pie-chart showing how often he re-used female names for protagonists) and his affection for her is clear and adoring, passing her brightness and cheer onto us. She's no Pollyanna—she's clearly inherited the family cleverness that gets her con-man uncle into so much trouble—her can-do spirit and cheerful demeanor keep her from being a pushover, as solemn Long Island relatives try continuously to take advantage of her good will until Jill has had all she can take:
Mrs Mariner frowned.

"I was going to suggest," she said frostily, "that you shovelled the snow away from the front steps!"

"Splendid!" said Jill. "Oh, but I forgot. I want to go to the village first."

"There will be plenty of time to do it when you get back."

"All right. I'll do it when I get back."

It was a quarter of an hour's walk to the village. Jill stopped at the post-office.

"Could you tell me," she asked, "when the next train is to New York?"

"There's one at ten-ten," said the woman, behind the window. "You'll have to hurry."

"I'll hurry!" said Jill.
There's other great characters: Freddie Rooke is a helpful and sometimes bumbling member of the Drone Club; he follows Jill to New York to persuade her to return to Derek but winds up staying for a life on the stage when he falls in love with a chorus girl. There's Wally Mason, tall, gallant and handsome playwright, who we all know is the man Jill should be with (but she's not sure of it herself until the end of the book). While Wally serves several plot points to introduce Jill to her new world, Wodehouse smartly resists the temptation to make Wally a deus ex manhattana to solve all her problems—instead, Jill's smarts and kindness get her ahead and solve the puzzles, no matter how complicated they are. Her Uncle Chris—Major Christopher Selby—is a charming rogue, conning his way into crashing at Wally's lush midtown apartment behind Wally's back. Then there's a bevy of chorus girls: Babe, The Duchess, Nelly and the Cherub, who are about to become Jill's friends and confidantes and for whom Jill learns she can lay down the law to authority on behalf of. I like almost everyone in this novel, and if Wodehouse probably could have used a little bit of judicious editing (it clocks in at 300+ pages, about a third longer than the vast majority of Wodehouse novels), Jill flies by thanks to its energetic and amusing cast of characters.

Add to that cast of characters the twin cities of the novel's setting, my two favorite big-ass cities in the world, London and New York. Wodehouse as a comic writer isn't best known for lyrical and picturesque descriptions of his cities, but his affection for both metropolises is generally crystal clear, and in Jill he foregoes much of the usual humor and off-handed jokes when he describes London and New York, giving us almost Dickensian paragraphs like
There are streets in London into which the sun seems never to penetrate. Some of these are in fashionable quarters, and it is to be supposed that their inhabitants find an address which looks well on note-paper a sufficient compensation for the gloom that goes with it. The majority, however, are in the mean neighborhoods of the great railway termini, and appear to offer no compensation whatever. They are lean, furtive streets, gray as the January sky with a sort of arrested decay. They smell of cabbage and are much prowled over by vagrom cats. At night they are empty and dark, and a stillness broods on them, broken only by the cracked tingle of an occasional piano playing one of the easier hymns, a form of music to which the dwellers in the dingy houses are greatly addicted. By day they achieve a certain animation through the intermittent appearance of women in aprons, who shake rugs out of the front doors or, emerging from areas, go down to the public-house on the corner with jugs to fetch the supper-beer. In almost every ground-floor window there is a card announcing that furnished lodgings may be had within. You will find these streets by the score if you leave the main thoroughfares and take a short cut on your way to Euston, to Paddington, or to Waterloo. But the dingiest and deadliest and most depressing lie round about Victoria. And Daubeny Street, Pimlico, is one of the worst of them all.
Those of you who know this li'l stuffed bull know that one of my favorite times of day in England's capital is being able to wander through London by night, so this description of wandering down the Thames Embankment after dusk especially touched me. His words still ring true; it's barely changed in almost ninety years:
She glanced down the Embankment. Close by, to the left, Waterloo Bridge loomed up, dark and massive against the steel-gray sky, A tram-car, full of home-bound travellers, clattered past over rails that shone with the peculiarly frostbitten gleam that seems to herald snow. Across the river, everything was dark and mysterious, except for an occasional lamp-post and the dim illumination of the wharves. It was a depressing prospect, and the thought crossed her mind that to the derelicts whose nightly resting-place was a seat on the Embankment the view must seem even bleaker than it did to herself. She gave a little shiver. Somehow this sudden severance from the old days had brought with it a forlornness. She seemed to be standing alone in a changed world.

"Cold?" said Wally Mason.

"A little."

"Let's walk."

They moved westwards. Cleopatra's Needle shot up beside them, a pointing finger. Down on the silent river below, coffin-like row-boats lay moored to the wall. Through a break in the trees the clock over the Houses of Parliament shone for an instant as if suspended in the sky, then vanished as the trees closed in. A distant barge in the direction of Battersea wailed and was still. It had a mournful and foreboding sound. Jill shivered again.
Things are apt to get brighter and sunnier in New York, both thematically and literally, when Jill once again meets Wally there, with room for another wonderful panorama landscape view of a great city:
Wally disappeared again, and a few moments later Jill heard the faint splashing of water. She walked to the parapet and looked down. On the windows of the nearer buildings the sun cast glittering beams, but further away a faint, translucent mist hid the city. There was Spring humidity in the air. In the street she had found it oppressive: but on the breezy summit of this steel-and-granite cliff the air was cool and exhilarating. Peace stole into Jill's heart as she watched the boats dropping slowly down the East River, which gleamed like dull steel through the haze. She had come to Journey's End, and she was happy. Trouble and heart-ache seemed as distant as those hurrying black ants down on the streets. She felt far away from the world on an enduring mountain of rest. She gave a little sigh of contentment, and turned to go in as Wally called.
A good two-thirds of the novel takes place in Manhattan, and that's "good" not only as "the better part of" but also "agreeable": New York City energizes and enlivens our heroine and brings out the best in her. I see her point. It's a tough city to live in—the mild-mannered need not apply, and being a small stuffed bull on the MTA subway is often an invitation to have a boot step on you. But it's a grand and glorious place, and Jill's (and Wodehouse's) affection for it is nicely drawn. Much of the action takes place in Bryant Hall, a (possibly fictional) music hall theater on 42nd Street, my midtown stomping grounds. Right across Fifth Avenue from the New York Public Library is Wally Mason's midtown apartment, so deviously appropriated by Uncle Chris, so out at lunchtime on a bright day I stepped around the corner and tried to scout out 9 East 41st Street, where Wally lived on the 22nd floor. Wally's building is almost certainly gone: there's no building at that address or near it of that height, and the buildings are all much young than 1921. But here, showing the scaffolding that tells you New York is always a place of change and transformation, is where once upon a time Uncle Chris threw dinner parties behind Wally's back and from whose balcony Jill gazed out across the East River. You see, there's a little bit of Wodehouse wherever your hoofs take you.

9 E. 41st St., setting of P. G. Wodehouse's "Jill the Reckless"


Jill has much in her to be admired: her faithfulness to friends, her cleverness in a scrape, kindness to animals, resourceful nature, and gung-ho spirit are all signs of the finest of her fair sex. But there's another way she proves to be one of my favorite Wodehouse heroines. Like another famous New Yorker, she's quite fond of a delicacy that might aptly be named the food of the gods:
Wheatcakes!'Whatever are you doing in New York?' asked the girl. 'I never knew you meant to come over.'

'It was a little sudden. Still, here I am. And I'm starving. What are those things you're eating?'

'Buckwheat cakes.'

'Oh, yes. I remember Uncle Chris talking about them on the boat. I'll have some.'
You can't go wrong with a heroine who enjoys wheatcakes.

A Wodehouse a Week #74: Jill the Reckless




I had wheatcakes for breakfast this morning and delicious they were too, a proper accompaniment to reading this Wodehouse book—two of my favorite delights at the same table. Be careful you don't get syrup on your book and you two can enjoy the sweet, buttery richness of Jill the Reckless at your very own table, just by clicking on the Amazon.com link above. It's part of this delicious and nutritious breakfast! Of course, if you prefer Special K or waffles or yogurt, I can't stop ya. But it seems like I hardly know you when you do that.

A Wodehouse a Week Index.


Ten of a Kind: We come to each other from different worlds





















(More Ten of a Kind here.)