A Booth Scene

My first time reading the word “defenestration” was in the title of a story by Arthur C. Clarke, “The Defenestration of Ermintrude Inch”, appearing in the collection Tales from the White Hart. Subsequently, I learned the general uses of this funny word, and in particular in the nickname for some historical events, “The defenestration of Prague”.

My first encounter with the word “quantum” in other than a physics sense was in the title of a story by Ian Fleming, “Quantum of Solace”, appearing in the collection For Your Eyes Only. Subsequently, I rarely encounter any use other than something scientific.

My first exposure to the word “squalor” was in the title of a story by J D Salinger, “For Esmé—with Love and Squalor”, appearing in the collection Nine Stories. Subsequently, my foremost exemplar for the concept of “living in squalor” are the cartoons of George Booth.

This one was sent in by Stan, who says “Here’s one I didn’t get…or maybe it’s an, ‘Is that all there is? But what’s the joke?’ kind of thing. Anyway, I’m guessing she made scrambled eggs for dinner. What’s the joke exactly? Also, what is the cat doing? Is that part of it?”


  1. The usual phrase is “Dinner is served,” but that’s too classy for the amount of effort put into scrambling some eggs.

  2. I don’t get what all those things hanging from the ceiling are – it’s like some sort of tinkerbell starfish chandelier, except that some of the tinkerfish are on the ground. Anyway, there is a proper light fitting in the centre of the room – the starfish thing is just hanging from a hook, like a mobile, not plugged into the electricity. And it is not very well hung – there are crack lines running from where the hook is screwed in, and it looks like it is about to fall out. Is that relevant, or just some doodly curlicue?

    The cat looks pretty scrambled too, and the dog has seen something weird. Maybe everyone’s brains are scrambled.

  3. I take it to mean she scrambled more than just eggs: From the look of the cat, the strange thing on the ceiling and the husbands(?) expression I take it whatever she scrambled, she did it so vigorously that the whole house shook. There are, of course, a couple of details which contradict this interpretation, namely the vase still standing on the sideboard and the still upright hanging picture.

    And no, I do not know what the thing beside the light fixture is meant to represent or what parts of it are supposed to rain down onto the carpet.


  4. My exposure to defenestration was in the political satire of Walt Kelly. After one character used the word correctly, another said: “Throw him out the window! Justice is too good for him!!”

  5. It’s definitely a potted plant. I’m not sure a Star of Persia Allium of Damocles would pot well, maybe a spider plant? The cat is either bathing or it is Cerberus’ feline cousin. The dog is just laying there, like dogs do. The great thing about Booth is that his drawings are hilarious, whether the punch line makes sense nor not.

  6. Whenever my husband bought a new computer with Windows pre-installed, he would say he defenestrated his computer to install Linux. (In case more info is needed, he’s a Latin scholar, and fenestra, or some form of it, means window in Latin. Or so I understand.)

  7. Guero, I suspect the “of Damocles” was Mark Jackson’s joking addition to his suggested identification – based on the danger of falling it presents.

  8. If you’ve ever had a spider plant, you’d recognize this thing as a spider plant. They are impossible to kill and they just keep on sending out new stems with more leaves.

  9. I didn’t learn any new words today, but I did learn that dragon fruit is from a type of cactus. I had thought it was some sort of tropical fruit. YouTube served me up a video with a time-lapse growth of dragon fruit from seed to four months.

  10. Ha! That one went right over my head (heh). In my defense, I had cut and paste the name for a Google search, and the ads at the top of the search results parroted back the phrase like it was a legitimate thing, “Are you looking to buy a Star of Persia Allium of Damocles?”

  11. Actually, it seems like it is grown in tropical regions as well as sub-tropical. I was right in the first place! I’m awesome!!

  12. Oh, man. I had not heard of the “Neural Yorker” before. AI generated panels and captions from something that trained on New Yorker cartoons. Some of them are on the edge of intelligibility. https://twitter.com/NeuralYorker

    I imagine there are a few out there that would find them exactly as funny as real ones.

  13. Brian in STL:
    “I think everybody was just wondering what this would mean.”
    That one worked pretty well.

    Brian, I don’t see where that bit is that you seem to be quoting and reacting to. What was that, and who said it? If you recall.

  14. Was it the caption or the drawing that was generated by the AI? I honestly can’t see anything in that mess of doodles…

  15. Both. While the AI captures the style right, it doesn’t know what a person or a table or anything is. So the whole thing is just a mess. Captions have fewer degrees of freedom. It’s easier for it to at least end up with something grammatical.

  16. Towards the left side of the picture hanging from the ceiling is a hanging plant -what is in it looks flowers and matches the flowers on the floor below it which must have fallen from the hanging plant. To the right of the plant there is a ceiling light fixture with a pull cord hanging from it.

    I am not saying this as a solution to what the caption means, but in answer to what was hanging from the ceiling.

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