On The Shelf
The current issue of the Lampoon provides an interesting study in negation. Some of the material is satisfactory. In places it is very good. But the rest is bad, and often so bad, that the better efforts suffer by context. The cartoons, especially, often lack both humor and originality.
J. G. Marcos' sufficiently nostalgic cover starts off promisingly enough. But as Lampy President John Limpert points out in his drab chiding of Confidential Magazine:
"Their cover would interest anyone. But if you turn the cover, what do you find? . . . Nothing is revealed--much to the disappointment of the reader."
In the opening article by D. J. Golden, not even quotations from Gray, Coleridge, or Shelley warrant the almost two columns of space. Limpert characterizes his own "Something for the Pit" with his phrase ". . . a symphony of boredom . . ." J. F. Fletcher's "Imogene and the Parrot" is well-written, but no more, and the attempt at high-pressure humor in "A Message to Ganglia" is sadly unsuccessful.
Artistically, the issue is hardly better. P. Herrera again contributes two good sketches, but L. D. Hill's work is disappointing. His illustration for Fletcher's title page poem is bold, but obvious, and his failure to master the tone technique in one cartoon is exceeded only by his inability in this case, to draw people. Hill's illustration for a satire on the founding of Yale are good, however; unfortunately they are dulled by the quality of the accompanying text. An unsigned cartoon commentary on Natural Sciences 3 is well-conceived, but ill-executed, and three of the other illustrations have been better done elsewhere.
The poetry is somewhat better. Fletcher's title page poem is excellent: ("I shall miss the ticket filing/I shall miss the frenzied cheers./I shall miss the cozy parties/With their one-too-many beers. . ."). George Vaillant contributes a deft satire of argument by authority.
There are other bright notes. P. H. C. Williams' "Yale Weekend 1954" is cleverly whimsical, and the Blot-Jester dialogue jabs gently at the Yale Record in the usual lucid style of the department. Best of all in the issue is a smooth study of an intemporate Uncle Charlie. The author, RDH, is otherwise unidentified in the issue, however, which would suggest that the article has been reprinted from a past issue.
But even reprints cannot save an otherwise bleak issue. Occasional signs of promise do not take the place of humor. D. J. Golden, in describing a phonograph record in the opening article, writes: "Certainly there was little that could provoke even a grin . . ." The comment is all too applicable to the Lampoon.