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Showing posts with the label Harvey Kurtzman

Who is Alfred E. Neuman?

A recent (May 10, 2019) news item caught the attention of longtime fans of Mad Magazine.  President Donald Trump (R) went after Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) of South Bend, Indiana, who is seeking the 2020 Democratic nomination for president.  The current president unloaded with another one of his infamous Twitter attacks, likening the mayor to Alfred E. Neuman.  Buttigieg, displaying a quick wit, did not let this taunt go unmet.  “I’ll be honest.  I had to Google that,” Buttigieg said.  “I guess it’s just a generational thing.  I didn’t get the reference.  It’s kind of funny, I guess.  But he’s also president of the United States, and I’m surprised he’s not spending more time trying to salvage this China deal,” he told Politico.  Mayor Buttigieg’s response was clever, at once letting the press know that he can take a joke, and taking two shots at Trump, both calling him old and suggesting that he should spend more time doing his job and less time mocking politicians on Twitter.  It was a s

Where have you gone, etaoin shrdlu?

One commonly printed “phrase” has disappeared from the English language.  This “phrase” wasn’t a phrase at all, but it would often appear in print, starting in the late 19th century and vanishing by the 1980s.  The “phrase” would baffle readers who were hard pressed to pronounce it, much less to understand it.  The phrase was “etaoin shrdlu”. “etaoin shrdlu” was the subject of many letters to the editor from readers begging an explanation.  An item in the local paper might look like this: Item in the New York Times, October 30, 1903. A reader might, understandably, want to know what’s going on.  That line, third from the bottom, looks like gibberish, but anyone who read newspapers frequently during this time would have seen the “etaoin shrdlu” part before.  Editors would dutifully explain what it’s all about. You might have guessed that the twelve letters in “etaoin shrdlu” are the most commonly used letters in the English language, from the most frequent to the twelfth