Chess by Lamplight

An illustration for General Electric (love the lamp) by Charles Edward Chambers. Born in Ottumwa, Iowa, in 1883, Chambers was known for his advertising work, especially 45 billboards for Chesterfield cigarettes and a portrait of Mozart for Steinway pianos, and illustrations for books by Pearl S. Buck, Louis Bromfield, Faith Baldwin and W. Somerset Maugham.


I read today in Wired magazine that Velveeta really isn’t cheese; since 2002, it has officially been a pasteurized, prepared cheese product. I’m all for truth in labeling, but I must stand up for Velveeta. How well I remember the foot-long square loaf my mother would produce from the refrigerator, the peeling back of the foil, and then the appearance of the magical slicer, that ingenious combination of a wire strung parallel to a roller from which fell perfectly uniform slices of this most perfect food, excellent in grilled cheese sandwiches, sublime when layered with liverwurst. Almost plastic, truly fantastic.

Spy Smasher

I want to wear this button.

Spy Smasher (whose real name was Alan Armstrong) was a master detective who got around in the “Gyrosub” — a combination airplane, auto and submarine. Created by Bill Parker and C. C. Beck, Spy Smasher was introduced in Whiz Comics #2 (February 1940) and adapted into a 12-part film serial for Republic Pictures with Kane Richmond as the title character (an American agent in Nazi-occupied France who was originally believed to have been killed in a plane crash) and his identical twin brother. Cool or what?

Spy Smasher’s Nazi nemesis in the U.S.A. is The Mask, operating from a U-Boat  near the coast, attempting to flood the country with forged money, and destroying planes, oil and munitions bound for Britain. I’ve got one thing to tell you: sea of flaming oil.


“I like kids. They are funny and they eat things and they run around, and then they sleep in very cozy outfits. I am jealous of them.”

Maira Kalman, illustrator, designer, artist, quoted in Metropolis magazine, September 2010