Emdashes—Modern Times Between the Lines

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Before it moved to The New Yorker:
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Best of Emdashes: Hit Parade
A Web Comic: The Wavy Rule


I was looking for an old cartoon from the magazine’s first decades to illustrate this post, when I realized that what I was thinking of was a little guy playing a huge piano in an enormous room, singing “I like coffee, I like tea, I like the girls and the girls like me!” This cartoon is from memory, but I will look it up on the Cartoon Bank and get the precise wording and drawing for you, assuming it’s there, of course—you can’t be 100 percent sure with those early ones. Why is that, Bob Mankoff? I’m just curious; I’m sure it has something to do with scanning, or copyright, or touchy ghosts. (Update: It’s there!) In the process of looking for the bananas-song cartoon, which as I mentioned doesn’t exist, I found this funny Leo Cullum cartoon that makes reference to “The Banana Boat Song,” which, as you’ll recall, was the full text for another cartoon (by Danny Shanahan) and another post. Will the circle be unbroken? By and by, Lord, by and by.

But the point of the hed in the first place is to say: No Pick of the Issue, or POTI, as we refer to it here at Emdashes HQ, this week, due to the alarmingly finishable double issue. Tune in next Monday for the Best in Show, since my recent writeup wasn’t an official POTI, just the result of a mild case of sunstroke, a bout of ennui, my personal tallyman, and the long tail end of an ailment “involving the eye, the ear, the nose, and throat,” as Adelaide would say.

In the meantime, what have we got for you? Another Cartoon Caption Contest Interview, a favorite feature of some of you, returning in glorious form under the canny supervision of summer intern John Bucher. Look for it later today, and enjoy! If you’re a contest winner who hasn’t been made famous(er) yet, please contact us. We’re standing by. Or we’ll contact you. Stand by.


I vote the thing about the University of Texas archives “Pick of the Issue” - a little non-fiction for us non-fiction readers. Unless it wasn’t even in the fiction issue … ach, I’m a mess.

No no, zp, it totally was in that issue. I favor NF too, so I would also single that piece out.

Last year I reviewed a book called Riding with Rilke, in which Ted Bishop, a Canadian modernist lit scholar, rides his Ducati all the way down to the Ransom Archive (to study some Virginia Woolf papers) and back again. Tom Staley plays a small but key role. An amusing read.

And yay for Spoon getting a NYer review!

ZP, did you complete the move from _____ to _____ yet? Has your subscription been obedient in following you, or is it lagging like an ill-trained pup?

Martin, is there enough Rilke in that book to justify the title? Because I love Virginia Woolf, but would feel hoodwinked by the promise of Rilke if there were none delivered.

Emily: Methinks you’ve divined a palpable wrinkle in the book’s PR strategy. There’s hardly any Rilke in it; chosen for alliteration, I’m sure. It’s a road trip, and the guy is a modernist scholar (not sure how easy a fit Rilke is there, anyway). If Woolf had been named Riley, it would have been called that.

I don’t want to overstate; but you won’t really learn anything about Rilke in it. It’s an accurate title only insofar as the author may well have read Rilke on the way (and perhaps even says so).

Yes, all that new New Haven action on your statcounter is me, relocated. TNY arrived, but only thanks to those yellow post office forwarding stickers.

And I was wondering if I might be called a non fiction-reader … ??

I’ll be in New Haven this very weekend, if you want to have a cup of coffee! They do coffee very well there. It fuels Yale brains.

Looking forward to it …

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2008 Webby Awards Official Honoree