1. A Startling Discovery!

    Recently, I had to replace a broken headlight on my car.

    I know, I know – you’re wondering just where in hell I’m going with all of this. Oh, I’ll tie it all together soon. But first allow me to add yet another element to this most curious puzzle:

    The other day CNN ran a great story about some guy named “Al Jaffee,” who is an artist and writer for some magazine called “Mad.”

    What’s even more fascinating than the article itself is that I scrolled through about the first fifty comments below the piece and no one wrote “Mad hasn’t been funny in years” – a comment you always see below any article about Mad. Could it be that people have finally begun to respect the American institution that is Mad magazine, or in this case, at least the focus of the piece – one of Mad’s elder geniuses?


    Soon I realized, of course!, the lack of negative comments is simply due to the fact that you’ve got to be invested enough in your disdain of Mad to take the time to register if you want to leave a comment, and who the hell’s got time for that?

    But what’s even more fascinating than that is the article itself.

    And while the article gives a very interesting and detailed overview of Mr. Jaffee’s life and career it’s not complete.

    Indeed, nowhere in the entire article does it mention the wonderful work that I recently discovered, completely by accident, that Mr. Jaffee did in the mid-1990s…for Toyota.

    You see, as luck would have it, it was the driver’s side headlight that went out – oh, no – not the passenger’s side headlight where you just pop a new bulb in and you’re done. Oh God forbid my life should be easy!  God forbid!

    No, for the driver’s side you’ve got a whole afternoon ordeal ahead of you that involves scraping your knuckles raw trying to blindly wedge your hand into a tiny, dark recess full of sharp metal corners and pointy metal bolt ends before finally accepting that you’re going to have to disconnect and remove the damn battery to get to the bulb, and in doing so splash battery acid in all those scrapes since you refuse to let those crooks at Pep Boys install it for you, because the last time they did it, they also fast-talked you into getting four new tires, new shocks, a new motor for the sun roof and a new transfer case despite the fact that your car has neither a sun roof nor four-wheel drive! At least that’s been my experience with them.

    So not only do you have to pull out the battery, you’ve also got to remove the air cleaner duct (Christ!) and to do so, you’ve got to turn to page 171 of your owner’s manual.

    Wake up!  This is where it all comes together, folks.

    Look at the illustration from said owner’s manual for removing the air cleaning duct clip:

    Now tell me Al Jaffee didn’t draw that!  Tell me he didn’t draw that!

    Okay, my attorney is telling me he didn’t draw that. Or that I shouldn’t imply that he did just because I think it looks like an Al Jaffee drawing. But it does look like a Jaffee drawing, right? It totally does! Right?! And the weird thing is, it’s one of only two drawings in the entire owner’s manual drawn in that style. The rest are drawn differently – more owner’s manual-like and less Jaffeesque. But this little diagram…? It looks exactly like something out of one of Al’s ’inventions’ pieces for Mad, doesn’t it?  Of course it does!  Yes, yes, yes, I know I’m basing this only on a hand, but it looks like an Al Jaffee hand!

    Okay, I guess it’s unlikely Al Jaffee drew that, but it’s fun to pretend, right?

    On a possibly related note, Antonio “Spy Vs. Spy” Prohias totally designed the logo for this marvelous little café in Monrovia – I just know it!

    It’s clearly his work, somehow commissioned and drawn by him after his death, for a café that opened just a few years ago.

    Pardon, there’s the phone. My attorney! Now what the devil could he want?

    Posted by on December 9, 2011, 6:32 PM.

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