Category Archives: Humour

Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour

2013 Leacock Medal Short List Header

The Leacock Associates announced their short list of 5 aauthors for the 2013 Leacock Medal of Humour on 1 April 2013.. The winner will be announced at a luncheon at The Mariposa Inn in Orillia on 25 Apil 2013. Tickets are in short supply for this event ($25.00) Details at — Reserve your ticket(s) today.

Short List in alphabetical order by author:

Fallis, Terry: UP AND DOWN (McClelland&Stewart)

Goldstein, Jonathon: I’LL SEIZE THE DAY TOMORROW (Penguin)

Kaufman, Andrew: BORN WEIRD (Random House Canada)

Stocks, Cassie: DANCE GLADYS DANCE (Newset Press)

Whitehead, William: WORDS TO LIVE BY (Cormorant)


A Junior Bloodstain, 2013

A Junior Bloodstain was held at The Roosevelt Hotel, New York City, on Saturday January 12, 2013 from 11:30 A.M. to 12:30 P.M.

It featured the premiere performance of The Riddle of the Starving Swine by Gayle Lange Puhl (adapted for dramatic reading by William Hyder) with hand puppets by Ken VogelGayle is from Evansville, Wisconsin and William is from Catonsville, Maryland.  Many enthusiastic Wodehousians and Sherlockians read the parts and manipulated the puppets in the jovial spirit of the playlet.  The Dramatis Personae in order of speaking were:

DR. WATSON: Bill Hyder, Stu Nelans and Philip Cunningham

SHERLOCK HOLMES: Ken Shuttleworth, Allan Devitt and Burt Wolder

LORD EMSWORTH (Clarence, Ninth Earl of Emsworth): George Vanderburgh

BEACH (Butler at Blandings Castle): Ed Van der Flaes

LADY CONSTANCE (Sister of Lord Emsworth): Norma Hyder

ANGELA (Niece of Lord Emsworth and Lady Constance): Margret Fleesak




The story (one of thirteen) was included in Gayle’s first book Sherlock Holmes and the Folk Tale Mysteries which was also illustrated by her and launched on the BSI Weekend.  The script is available on request to George Vanderburgh ( at no charge as a nine page pdf for those interested in reading it.

Also introduced at the Junior Bloodstain was the new Clients pin designed by Laurie Fraser Manifold.





The Pale Parabolites

The Pale Parabolites

The P.G. Wodehouse Society of Canada

The vital years of the English humourist P.G. Wodehouse, Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, are 1881 and 1975. He lived in many countries, but never in Canada, though at one time he considered the wisdom of moving here, as he admitted in correspondence with a friend: “I always find a great charm in Canada and sometimes toy with the idea of settling there.” Thus he wrote in 1949 following a convivial conversation with Stephen Leacock conducted in Montreal. Wodehouse described his own fiction as “light writing.” It has always been popular in Canada and indeed there even existed a loose association of his Canadian readership while the author lived and breathed. On 15 October 2012 – the 131st anniversary of the author’s birth – the association took on new life under the auspices of George A. Vanderburgh, M.D., Major (ret.), Canadian Armed Forces, resident of Lake Eugenia, Ontario. It reaffirmed the appropriateness of the name “The Pale Parabolites” which, as every member of the association is pleased to recall, is derived from the opening line of a poem from the collection Songs of Squalor attributed to Ralston McTodd, “Singer of Saskatoon,” a visitor to Blandings Castle. This occurs in the pages of Wodehouse’s comic novel, Leave It to Psmith (1923), where the poet is described in the following fashion: “A sullen, gloomy man with long, disorderly hair, he is a cigar-lover who likes to be the centre of attention, and to impress people with his epigrams.” Epigrams to one side, here is the poem’s opening line: “Across the pale parabola of joy….” Any Canadian connoisseur of the “light writing” of this master stylist, who registers as a member of the association, may thereupon refer to himself or herself as “a Pale Parabolite.” Each and every member may bear the association’s insignia, and purchase a lapel pin ($10.00 plus shipping), which depicts upon a field of pale blue (to represent the Prairie sky) a white parabola or arch (to suggest simplicity or innocence) which is adorned with a ruddy maple leaf (to symbolize the Dominion of Canada). The three words “The Pale Parabolites” appear in the typeface known as Copperplate, with its suggestion of tradition and gravitas. These emblematic details are drawn to the attention of past, present, and future members by the designer and typographer Bill Andersen. Please send along your e-mail and other contact information to receive irregular notices of meetings, which will be luncheon meetings at Massey College at The University of Toronto, 2 Devonshire Place. While there is a charge for the lapel pin, and that purchase is entirely optional, there are no fees for membership, since all communication will be in cyberspace. Join the PP Facebook Group page. Please contact: — George Vanderburgh, Chief Apogee P.O. Box 50, R.R. #4, Eugenia, Ontario, Canada N0C 1E0


cardboard what-cha-ma-call-its?

The four items pictured below came from that pile of comic strip ephemera in a cupboard in the home of August Derleth that is, at The Place of Hawks in Sauk City, Wisconsin. They are 5″ x 5″ pink cardboard ads for comic strips to be used as advertisement to be run in the Newspapers before the comic actually appeared in the Sunday section. I am told they are quite collectible and rare, but the name associated with them is so far lost on me. The first three are for Toonerville Folks 11-27, 11-28 and 11-30. They appear to have been created by F. Rox for the McNaught Syndicate, Inc. The fourth (5″ X 7″) appears to be an add for “Cordell Hull” a strip for TRUE COMICS. There appears to be a space left for “name of newspaper” in the bottom right column.


“Dear Trixie” by Lisa Hammer

Dear Trixie

by Lisa Hammer)TPB 200 pp. ISBN 978-1-55246-939-2 @ $20.00


“Er … what’s up, Auggie?”

Here’s an item from Auggie’s scrapbook it is undated, but the caption reads “Er … what’s up, Auggie!?” and it signed JC Melendez. Melendez was an illustrator at the Disney Studio and also did work on Charlie Brown. There is no record of correspondence under ‘M’ or Melendez in the Archives, nor Disney nor Warner Brothers. The item is undated. Perhaps it was a Christmas Greeting? It certainly is the Bugs Bunny I remember in my youth in the cartoons that accompanied Saturday afternoon at the movie theatre.

Leacock at the Bat

I just received my invitation in the mail to the annual Stephen Leacock Medal Awards Dinner. It is scheduled for June the 12th in Orillia at Geneva Park, and promises to be a worthwhile event. Over the past number of dinners I have prepared pamphlets with content which may be of interest to Leacock Fans, and distributed to each attendee at their place setting for dinner.

   There are presently four in the series: Two Elegies (2005); Random Rhymes (2006); The Shannon and the Chesapeake (2007); and A Scandal in Montreal (2008).

   I took 2009 off as I was simply too busy being retired to prepare one. I had planned to do one discussing the poem “Casey at the Bat.”  Now I’m glad I didn’t get around to it, because I now have new cover art by Charles Pachter.

   Carl Spadoni mentions in his Bibliography of Leacock, that he found an unattributed newspaper clipping from Montreal relating that Leacock had regailed the audience at a dinner speech with his own personalized version of “Casey at the Bat.” It was unclear from the article whether Leacock had recited E.L. Thayer’s version of the poem, or personalized it for Mariposa.

If you google “Casey at the Bat” you find and audio version with De Wolf Hopper reciting the poem, as he did 1,000’s of times in his acting career. I would speculate that Leacock undoubtedly heard Hopper recite the poem, and was inspired to do it himself.

Leacock was not known to play baseball, but he did pay Cricket, both in school and as a young adult.

Shortly after I retired I received a letter from Martin Gardner, of Annotated Alice fame, in which he congratulated me for the publication of The Complete Annotated Father Brown. I called him to discuss the project and compare notes, and he was also interested about republishing a number of his out of print books. One of these was a fourth edition of his The Annotated Casey at the Bat.

It seemed like a natural next step then for me to work on a Mariposa version of “Casey at the Bat” titled “Leacock at the Bat.”

Next, I was working with Charles Pachter, a Toronto pop culture artist, essentially Canada’s Andy Warhol to develop an image of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John H. Watson, and this project is still very mcuh a work in progress. But in any case during the preliminary conversation, Charles mentioned that he had a cottage studio on Lake Simcoe located  a 20 minute drive from Orillia. I invited him to do an image of Leacock at the bat, but not baseball, but rather cricket, and I attach his creation for your consideration.

During the same visit, I also spotted two other Pachter images in the studio, and obtained permssion to use them as well. The one is for Raymond Souster’s next collection of poetry entitled Big Smoke Blues. The image itself is entitled “Tour de Force.” and it is neat image of a Moose on a tightrope in the shadow of Toronto’s CN Tower. The other is entitled “Bon Echo.” and it is illustrated elsewhere in this blog as the cover for Walt Whitman’s Canada.

So that’s the background, and now, all is left to me to redraft Thayer’s poem change Casey to Leacock, change the other characters to the Mariposa Rogues’ Gallery, and of course change the sport from Baseball to Cricket.

I also plan to include the revised version of Thayer’s poem as well as Martin Gardner’s introduction and footnotes in the pamphlet as well.

As far as 2011 Dinner goes, that’s already allocated — “The Innocence of Stephen Leacock” in which Stephen Leacock meets Father Brown, a pastiche by John Peterson.

A mysterious phenomenon, toward which Professional critics are usually oblivious, recurs constantly in the literary history of the United States. A man or woman, with no special talent for poetry, will put together some apparently run-of-the-mill stanzas and manage to get them printed in a newspaper or magazine. The poem is read and talked about. It is reprinted here and there. People cut it out to carry in a billfold, or pin on a bulletin board, or put under the glass top of a desk, or frame and hang on a wall. Thousands memorize it. Eventually it becomes so well known that it is hard to find a literate person who hasn’t read it. (Martin Gardner in his intrroduction to The Annotated Casey at the Bat)

  Just to recall to your memory I include E.L. Thayer’s originally published version of the poem here:

Casey at the Bat

A Ballad of the Republic, Sung in the Year 1888

The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville nine that day;
The score stood four to two with but one inning more to play.
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows3 did the same,
A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;4
They thought if only Casey5 could but get a whack at that—
We’d put up even money now with Casey at the bat.

But Flynn6 preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,7
And the former was a lulu8 and the latter was a cake;9
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey’s getting to the bat.

But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despis-ed, tore the cover off the ball;10
And when the dust had lifted, and the men11 saw what had occurred,
There was Johnnie12 safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.

Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Casey’s manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey’s bearing and a smile on Casey’s face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt ‘twas Casey at the bat.

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
Then while the writhing pitcher13 ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance gleamed in Casey’s eye, a sneer curled Casey’s lip.14

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped—
“That ain’t my style,” said Casey. “Strike one,” the umpire15 said.

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore.16
“Kill him! Kill the umpire!” shouted some one on the stand;
And it’s likely they’d have killed him had not Casey raised his hand.

With a smile of Christian charity great Casey’s visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the spheroid flew;
But Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said, “Strike two.”

“Fraud!” cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered fraud;
But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn’t let that ball go by again.17

The sneer is gone from Casey’s lip, his teeth are clenched in hate;
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville18—mighty Casey has struck out.


In the Realm of Mariposa

In the beginning, Stephen Leacock self-published his first book of humour in 1911, and then wrote a book of humour almost every year until he died in 1942. He was employed as a Professor of Economics at McGill University, and lived on Côte de Neiges in Montreal. He spent his summers in Orillia in a home he built and rebuilt in 1928 on The Old Brewery Bay.

Like most other children of my generation I first learned of Leacock as the author of “My Financial Career.”

I enjoyed reading his other writings as an adult and decided to work towards “An Omnibus Edition of his Humour” This project was a very large one in the abstract, but each volume was easy enough to compile along the way.

I invited my friend Jean-Pierre (who I met in a stalled elevator in an apartment building in Manhatten some years ago. We were both rescued by the fire department ) to do some caricatures of Leacock and I append the results below.


by Jean-Pierre Cagnat

John Robert Colombo introduced me to Pete McGarvey, who has a superb radio voice, and a long time inhabitant of Orillia, and the author of some Leacock volumes himself, and his advice and guidance in my quest for Mariposa has been invaluable. Pete invited me to my first Leacock Medal Dinner at the Geneva Conference Centre in June of 2004, and the project continues up until the present.


by Jean-Pierre Cagnat