Sunday, October 29, 2006

Give our regards to the A(d)dams mashers!

My review of Linda H. Davis's Charles Addams: A Cartoonist's Life and Amphigorey Again, the final collection of Edward Gorey stories, is in today's Los Angeles Times. This was a lot of fun to write! The print version (I'm hoping) will have some nice Addams/Gorey artwork. (The illo here is from The Object-Lesson; I pinched the image from this site.)

One hoot-worthy, rather random episode in the bio (not discussed in the piece): Addams adopted an eccentric dog named Alice, who hated children; once, he caught it snarling at a short person who was not a child . . . he was Hervé Villechaize, the Fantasy Island midget of "Ze plane, ze plane!" fame.

Stray bit of trivia: Charles Addams was related to reformer Jane Addams—they were first cousins, twice removed.

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Speaking of Addams, minus one D:

Courtesy the invisible Google elf who puts little news briefs on my Gmail, this is from a story about Dilbert creator Scott Adams's odd (and terrifying-sounding) bout with "Spasmodic Dysphonia, a mysterious disease in which parts of the brain controlling speech shut down or go haywire":

One of the most peculiar aspects of SD is that victims are typically unable to have intimate conversations in their normal voice. Yet they can speak under different circumstances, such as immediately after sneezing or laughing, or in an exaggerated falsetto or baritone, or while reciting poetry, according to SD support groups.

Patients are often so anxious about their speech that they stop breathing or have heart palpitations before trying to articulate their thoughts. There is no known cure — but many victims have improved their speech by changing tenor or pitch, or doing special breathing and relaxation exercises.

The story quotes Dr. Krzysztof Izdebski, a San Francisco–based voice and speech pathophysiologist—total nomen/omening! (Our favorite Polish name is that of the protagonist of Harry Stephen Keeler's The Book With the Orange Leaves—one-handed "rapid calculator" Stefan Czeszciczki, a/k/a "Zicky.")

[UPDATE: Via BoingBoing, the link to Adams's own account of his recovery, on his blog. I must say this sounds like it would make a good memoir, given the strangeness of the affliction and the mouthlessness of his characters.]

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(Today's headline is a bit convoluted—here's what I'm thinking about.)

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Dizzyhead poll: Which artist do you prefer, Addams or Gorey?


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