"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 1 June 2001. Updated every WEEKDAY.


Henry Boltinoff: A Tribute


The Usual Suspects
Stim is our most polished media hack to date. The suggestion that we could better integrate our technology and natural systems research by dosing our UI experts with LSD-25 was brilliant. Stim is "virtually" impossible to navigate, and the wasted brain cycles of the Mutes - not to mention the inevitable cell mutations from the minoxidil treatments that the Mutes should incur as a result of their hair-pulling - makes the planet ripe for a Mutant takeover from the disoriented managerial class.
Five years ago today in Suck.

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It's a measure of just how meretricious, dishonorable, and self-deluded the newspaper game really is that only two journals in the United States bothered to mention the passing of Henry Boltinoff this past April 19 at his home in Lake Worth, Florida. Of those two, the Houston Chronicle dispatched Boltinoff in four short sentences. Boltinoff's hometown paper, the Palm Beach Post, did better, revealing in nine paragraphs that, among other things, the legendary newspaperman had once drawn a Wall Street cartoon entitled "Stoker the Broker," and that he was, in the words of a daughter, "just a very, very kind man." No other obituary section in the country, not even the media-heavy death notices of the New York Times found room to mourn the death of Boltinoff.

But in a just world, in a world where newspapers, like web sites, could track exactly which features people actually look at, Boltinoff would be a household name and Maureen Dowd would be selling pretzels at FedEx Field. For more than 30 years, in more than 300 newspapers, Boltinoff kept kids of all ages perplexed with "Hocus-Focus," the legendary two-panel cartoon that asks the sharp-eyed reader to "Find at least six differences in details between panels."

A dreamscape of exasperated coaches whose striped shirts shifted with barely perceptible stealth; a parallel universe of boys with disappearing hats and girls with repositioned arms; a bracing burst of vaguely unsettling Americana in which flowerpots and lamps could move or vanish without logic or reason — "Hocus Focus" plunged readers into a world of detail as spare as it was compulsive, with Boltinoff as our Robbe-Grillet, arbitrarily twisting the elements to render the whole incomplete, the real unreal.

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Reading "Hocus-Focus" made better observers of all of us. How many future crime scene witnesses were better prepared to remember relevant details thanks to Boltinoff's ministrations? How many students of his minutiae went on to rewarding careers as art critics or graphic designers? How many trivia buffs were driven stark raving mad by "Hocus-Focus" and its world of endless itemization? We may never know. But none of us ever spotted the puzzle without doing it. And few of us ever failed to spot at least four out of six differences.

Unlike the journalistic hoi polloi, we honor Boltinoff and will miss his work. When the existing collection of Boltinoffs runs out in October, Junior Whirl, and the world, will be a poorer place. For today, we can only do our best to carry on the tradition...

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Vive la difference in today's Plastic discussion

courtesy of BarTel d'Arcy


pictures Terry Colon

BarTel d'Arcy

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