Mar 15, 2010

Caspar Milquetoast

To start out the 2010 book list, I just finished Webster Unabridged, a compendium of comic panes and strips by H.T. Webster, published in 1945. The humor is SO outdated, which is humorous in itself. It's so America 1940s. I checked this book out of the library, however, because of Caspar Milquetoast. 

Some of you long-time readers of this blog, if you exist, may remember the blog subtitle: "It always comes back to David Niven." I had to take that down because it hadn't been coming back to him in a while (Although the title and url both stem from Niven film Around the World in 80 Days (1954)). Well, now it has! I first heard the word milquetoast when I professed my love of David Niven to my mother. She responded: "That milquetoast?!" His foppish top hat and umbrella cane probably irked my mother, while these accessories are probably what I liked best about him. Consequently, I began to associate the term with formal, serious people. 

In case you don't know, it actually means timid or bland. And it is purely an American word, appearing in American English dictionaries but not British English ones. So, it turns out my mother's description of Niven, the ultimate Brit, was not quite ironic, but whatever is the appropriate term here, coincidentally incorrect? The word comes from the aforementioned character in H.T. Webster's series of The Timid Soul single-pane comics. In turn, he got the name from milk toast, a food often eaten at the time by people with ill or sensitive stomachs, a calming, mild food. Caspar is always afraid, worried, and meek (Check out the page I scanned in for you). Exactly what David Niven isn't. 

The Incredible Mr. Limpet (Snap Case)A more appropriate character would be Mr. Limpet of the children's classic, The Incredible Mr. Limpet. Don Knotts! Such a great movie. (Edit: I was spot on. I just checked Netflix and they even describe him as "a bespectacled, milquetoast bookkeeper.")

Anyways, the book linked in the list is not this book, because Amazon doesn't carry it, but a similar looking collection and one that is only 50 cents! You should definitely get it or find one at your library.

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