The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

December 7, 2015

December 7, 1970

This drawing (in thumbnail format here) was published in the New York Sun, July 22, 1947. It won a Pulitzer Prize for the cartoonist.

The artist was also an engineer and inventor. Before 1947, Rube Goldberg (July 4, 1883 to December 7, 1970) was making an equivalent of a million dollars a year. There was a market in our dark technological era for obvious and absurd, inventions. "Goldberg was making fun of the idea that new methods always represent better ways of doing things and that new inventions are always improvements."

We excerpt an article about Goldberg:

...He graduated from UC Berkeley in 1904 and took a job in San Francisco where he worked on the city’s sewer systems. But he didn’t last long. A naturally talented artist, Goldberg became a sports cartoonist for the San Francisco Chronicle earning $8 per week. Over the course of his decades-long career, Goldberg drew cartoons that were variously political and frivolous. He penned three nationally syndicated, weekly comic strips —"Boob McNutt," "Mike and Ike: They Look Alike," and "Lala Palooza" — and wrote a single-frame cartoon called "Foolish Questions." At the peak of his career, he wrote three editorial page cartoons every week, which appeared in 43 newspapers across the country.He moved to New York in 1907; by 1915, his cartoons were nationally syndicated. This was an era in which a syndicated cartoonist could make a healthy living:... Goldberg was earning a salary upwards of $50,000 by 1916 — over $1 million by today’s standards...

Goldberg’s work made him famous: he was named the first president of the National Cartoonists Society in 1946; .... The conservative Goldberg was invited to the White House by Presidents Eisenhower and Nixon....

Another source says:

Goldberg drew his cockamamie inventions intermittently from the beginning of his career — he drew the first, "Automatic Weight Reducing Machine," in 1914, and in 1921 Marcel Duchamp published some of Goldberg’s designs in New York Dada. But the majority of these cartoons come from a bi-weekly series he drew for the magazine Collier’s Weekly from 1929 to 1931 called "The Inventions of Professor Lucifer G. Butts." Professor Butts ... was a parody of a Berkeley engineering professor who had once asked his students to design a machine that could weigh the world. Goldberg, one of those students, found this to be a preposterous task...

This article has some great drawings of his contraptions, some of which need cats. He never actually built any of these machines. Below is another of his cartoons, and the explanation I also copy, since it helps to clarify the action in the picture:

Rude goldfish, A, sticks out tongue at cat, B, which reacts with indignant hiss. Hiss awakens snake, C, which rises from basket and hits head on shelf, D, causing egg, E, to fall into frying-pan. F, Eventually smoke, G, from burned eff sets off smoke alarm. H, Noise disrupts radar of passing bat, I, which crashes into wire. J, This lifts and lights match, K, setting off cannon, L, and sending cannonball down chute. M, Cannonball lands on bellows, N, which blow out
candles on birthday cake, O.

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