8 Covers

Cidu Bill on Aug 11th 2017


Honestly, I can’t think of any definition by which this discussion makes sense.

Filed in Arlo and Janis, Bill Bickel, CIDU, Jimmy Johnson, comic strips, comics, humor | 43 responses so far

43 Responses to “8 Covers”

  1. Wilhelm Fitzpatrick Aug 11th 2017 at 02:42 am 1

    “Cover” is restaurant lingo for a served meal. Presumably the gag is that Gene’s parents would be overwhelmed by handling even a small amount of diners, and so won’t realize the restaurant isn’t doing well.

  2. Cidu Bill Aug 11th 2017 at 03:42 am 2

    Got it. Thanks.

  3. Kilby Aug 11th 2017 at 05:35 am 3

    @ W.F. (1) - Does the term really refer to an individual meal? I thought it meant the whole group of diners at a table (equivalent to the tablecloth that needs to be placed for each new group).

  4. Kilby Aug 11th 2017 at 05:51 am 4

    P.S. @3 (in moderation) - Although I thought that “cover” was a reference to the tablecloth, I suppose it could refer to those old metal shells that some restaurants once used to keep the food warm(er) on the way from the kitchen.

  5. Mitch4 Aug 11th 2017 at 09:02 am 5

    I’m still waiting for my Adam and Eve on a raft.

  6. Kilby Aug 11th 2017 at 09:59 am 6

    @ mitch4 (5) - You’re lucky. My order will probably be delivered on a shingle.

  7. Kamino Neko Aug 11th 2017 at 02:15 pm 7

    What Wilhelm said.

    Conversely, their restaurant is kinda tiny, so 8 covers could be a ‘capacity’ day…but being parents, Arlo and Janis (the latter, especially) would still panic about it ‘only’ being 8.

  8. Arthur Aug 11th 2017 at 02:54 pm 8

    Whenever I hear (or read) hash-house lingo I think of this:

  9. Mona Aug 11th 2017 at 03:18 pm 9

    I’m slightly confused by this, I do see that it is not a rerun.
    I thought Arlo and Janis went to help out before and did fine. So I don’t know why Gene thinks they’ll panic. It was hard work but they enjoyed it. In fact, they considered moving to be closer to The Kids so they could help out when needed, also spend more time with them and the granddaughter and the sailboat.

  10. fleabane Aug 11th 2017 at 04:39 pm 10

    Okay, my impression was the first six balloons made perfect sense. The last one was “purple monkey dishwasher”. The explanation that “cover” means paying costumers translated “purple monkey dishwasher” to “It’s so hot, I better put on a jacket”. He’s concerned that his parents will worry when the see how slow it is… so he says they’ll freak out if they have *more* than eight costumers? Huh?

    Or does he mean they’ll panic when they see that only eight is a typical night. In which case… what’s the joke. He’s concerned that they’ll worry if they see how bad business is …. and so he comments they’ll panic when they see that it really *is* bad? That’s funny?

    Or is the joke, that we’re supposed to think the parents are exagerating how bad bsiness is, and the punch line is … that business really *is* bad? That’s almost funny I guess.

  11. James Pollock Aug 11th 2017 at 06:32 pm 11

    OK. So, here’s the setup. The kids have help, but the help is temporarily unavailable. So, they COULD just push through without the help (her idea). A&J did OK when they helped out before, so Gene asks them to help out.

    Now, Mary Lou is worried… business is slow at at the restaurant, and Janis has a tendency to worry about them. If they come to help out, they’ll see that business is slow, possibly triggering Janis’ worrying.

    And the payoff:
    Gene says “ah, but you forget, these are people who, unlike you, did NOT grow up in and around the restaurant business. What you see as a very slow day will keep them plenty busy; too busy to worry about how business is going.” (obviously paraphrased).

  12. fleabane Aug 11th 2017 at 07:52 pm 12

    James @ 11.

    Oh…. that actually *does* work.

    But, man, they could have put a few more indicators about emotional tone. Or even a few, “but”s and “although”s in. That interpretation really isn’t all that linear.

  13. James Pollock Aug 11th 2017 at 08:20 pm 13

    Arlo and Janis does have some days of the “setup… setup… punchline” that works for everyone. But it also frequently features “character-based” humor, where the joke comes from your understanding of the character(s) involved, and if you don’t already know the characters, you’re not going to get the joke.

    Bill Watterson never sat down and explained the relationship between Calvin and Hobbes, either. He just jumped in with both feet on day one, meaning that first week of strips was pretty confusing (I was lucky enough to have access to a newspaper that bought C&H from the beginning, and to have picked up a paper on the 3rd day C&H existed.)

  14. Kilby Aug 12th 2017 at 01:21 am 14

    @ JP (13) - I vividly remember my reaction on that third day(*): at the time, I thought “Oh no!“, because it initally appeared that Watterson had given up drawing the “fuzzy” tiger as he had on the two previous days. The dichotomy of Hobbes’ appearance did not become clear (to me) until after a few more strips illustrating the change had appeared.

    P.S. (*) From the date, I must have been reading it in the L.A. Times, which had picked up Calvin & Hobbes from Day One.

  15. Olivier Aug 16th 2017 at 08:45 am 15

    I think this “cover” comes from the French “couvert”. “Les couverts”= cutlery.
    Restaurants will offer “tables de X couverts”= tables for X (people).

  16. Kilby Aug 16th 2017 at 09:19 am 16

    @ Olivier (15) - I thought “couvert” meant “envelope” - at least that’s what the imported word means in German.

  17. Olivier Aug 16th 2017 at 10:04 am 17

    Are you sure it’s not imported from English ? Cover=envelope. Envelope is “enveloppe” in French.
    “Couvert” can also be translated as covered and there’s a link with “enveloppé”(=wrapped) but it’s a bit of a stretch.
    I’m a philatelist and I don’t remember the word “couvert” ever being used in connection with envelopes.

  18. Kilby Aug 16th 2017 at 10:23 am 18

    @ Olivier (17) - The German term was definitely taken from French, not English, but Duden says that the spelling “couvert” is now used only for a certain type of blanket cover. For envelopes, the “Germanized” spelling “(das) Kuvert” is used(*). That latter form was once also used (in German) for a silverware place setting for a single person.

    P.S. (*) - It’s not that rare a word, I’ve even seen it in a children’s book (by Janosch).

  19. Olivier Aug 16th 2017 at 11:19 am 19

    Now, you’ve lost me : blanket covers have nothing to do with stationary, have they ? We’ve moved to linens, haven’t we ?
    And blanket being “couverture”; blanket cover (”couvre couverture”) looks redundant ;)
    “That latter form was once also used (in German) for a silverware place setting for a single person”: that’s the meaning I was trying to convey @15, thanks for clarifying.

  20. DemetriosX Aug 16th 2017 at 02:00 pm 20

    I think by “blanket cover” Kilby means the cover you put your comforter/duvet in. As for a connection between “couvert” and envelopes, you probably have to go back to the Napoleonic Era, which is when most of the French loanwords entered German. Doesn’t English-language philately also use the term “cover” for a stamped and canceled envelope? Probably the same source, there. Also, few Germans today would use Kuvert for an envelope; the more common word is Umschlag (literally something like “wrap-around”).

  21. James Pollock Aug 16th 2017 at 02:44 pm 21

    Of course, “envelope” is also a verb… (in English, anyway.)

  22. Winter Wallaby Aug 16th 2017 at 03:20 pm 22

    JP #21: I’m not aware of any common verb “envelope” in English (although I wouldn’t be shocked if there was something obscure in the OED).

    There is a common verb “envelop,” though.

  23. Olivier Aug 17th 2017 at 02:08 am 23

    “you probably have to go back to the Napoleonic Era”. Yes, but at the time, letters did not have envelopes : they were folded and sealed closed with wax and called “lettre”. I do understand that “Kuvert”/cover have the same origin, and probably from France, but I can’t find the connection here.

  24. Kilby Aug 17th 2017 at 05:16 am 24

    @ Olivier (23) - All of the objects that we have been discussing involve something “covering” something else: a duvet wrapper around a quilted blanket, covering a bed, a place setting covering (one small section of) a table, an envelope wrapped around a letter, and so forth. Looking at it now is like linguistic archaeology. The basic form probably came from Latin, after that the French and the Germans kicked the word back and forth across the border(*), fiddling with the spelling as they saw fit, and applying it to anything that they thought would be adequately “covered” by the term. I also remember a bit in a Karambolage episode that talked about the way this happened with “caput / kaputt”, leading to all sorts of current words on both sides of the border.

    P.S. DemetriosX is correct @20 in noting that “Umschlag” is the normal German word for envelope. “Kuvert” is more of a poetic (slightly archaic) term, but it’s still well-known enough to appear occasionally in modern books.

    P.P.S. (*) - The town I lived in for my first year in Germany (Landau/Pfalz) wasn’t “kicked across the border”, but the border was kicked across it so often that after the last exchange, the returning (German) owners “uncovered” it - they took down the entire city wall, just to make sure that if the city was ever re-recaptured (by the French), they would not have the wall to defend it again. You can still see exactly where the wall was (there’s a street than runs a ring around the city), but all that’s left of it now is one massive solitary gate.

  25. Olivier Aug 17th 2017 at 05:34 am 25

    Landau is much easier : they used to make a kind of horse cart there and the name has devolved down to mean… pram ! :)

  26. Kilby Aug 17th 2017 at 05:56 am 26

    @ Olivier (25) - Some Americans may not know that a British “pram” (short for “perambulator”) is the same thing that is called a “(baby) carriage” in the US. However, as far as I know, the German word “Landauer“(*) is applied to the larger (horse drawn) variety of carriage.

    P.S. (*) - My copy of the American Heritage Dictionary (incorrectly) traces the (English) usage of “Landau(er)” back to the “other” Landau (in Bavaria), but the “Duden” says that they were made in Landau/Pfalz.

  27. Olivier Aug 17th 2017 at 06:03 am 27

    Oh, come on; who doesn’t know this line :”I have to push the pram a lot”? https://getyarn.io/yarn-clip/ef0046ed-08b6-43e4-8cd8-6e68068ab12c

  28. Kilby Aug 17th 2017 at 06:28 am 28

    I think the number of Americans who have heard and are familiar with a line from a 42-year-old Monty Python movie is still probably far greater than those who would correctly associate the term if it were to come up in ordinary conversation. :-) The percentage of Americans who would actually use the term themselves could probably be counted with the digits of a double amputee. ;-))

  29. DemetriosX Aug 17th 2017 at 07:04 am 29

    That’s a good point about letters not having envelopes in the Napoleonic Era. It’s also possible that it came into fashion here in the late 19th century through Austrian influence. It’s possible that the Germans or Austrians screwed up the meaning. God knows there are plenty of incorrectly imported English words in the language now. It also wouldn’t surprise me if the Austrians still use “Kuvert”.

    As for the Landau, it has two related meanings in English. Originally, it was a large carriage with a removable or retractable top, a convertible if you will. Then at least as late as the 30s it referred to a car with the same characteristics. It cropped up a bit in the 50s and 60s, but has been completely replaced by “convertible”. And Wikipedia agrees with Duden about which Landau they came from.

  30. Kilby Aug 17th 2017 at 05:03 pm 30

    @ DemetriosX (29) - There’s a fair number of regional expressions in and around Berlin that still reflect the francophilic mania as influenced by the court of Friedrich the Great(*), who supposedly couldn’t speak German (because when he did, he spoke with a very heavy Berlin dialect). The French used at court rubbed off on the populace, but various expressions were contaminated by “volks”-etymologies, and sometimes applied in ways that probably would have horrified the French.

    P.S. (*) - Officially “Friedrich the 2nd” (1712-1786), but he’s more commonly known and is still referred to by his nickname as the “Alter Fritz” (”Old Fritz”).

  31. Olivier Aug 18th 2017 at 02:03 am 31

    Actually, it’s earlier than that : in 1685, when Louis XIV repealed the Nantes Edict, Friedrich-Wilhelm I published his Potsdam Edict inviting the French Huguenots to Brandeburg (the idea was to repopulate after the 30-years war). By 1700, there were about 12000 refugees there, half of them in Berlin. More here : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edict_of_Potsdam

  32. Mitch4 Aug 19th 2017 at 11:54 am 32

    For a postscript on the history of envelopes, please see Saturday’s Rubes.

  33. larK Aug 20th 2017 at 02:23 am 33

    Kilby @ 24: I’m reminded of the joke of the Alsatian named Lagarde: when the Germans take the Alsace, they translate everyone’s name to German; when the French retake it, they just adapt the names as pronounced to French. So Lagarde reasons as follows: when the Germans come, he’ll become Wache; when the French come back, he’ll be Vache; when the Germans come back, he’ll be Kuh; when the French then return, he’ll be Cul, so why not just get it over with and call him Arschloch now?

  34. Kilby Aug 20th 2017 at 06:15 am 34

    @ larK (33) - I was able to follow the logic except for the last French word, which I had to look up. Before I did that, I would have expected the final punchline to be “cool!” (which has been adopted verbatim into German, except for a slightly warped pronunciation).

  35. Olivier Aug 22nd 2017 at 05:18 am 35

    larK : lol ; actually, “cul” would be “Arsch” in German, “Arschloch” would be “trouduc”(short for “trou du cul”) in French ;) .

  36. Olivier Aug 22nd 2017 at 05:20 am 36

    So many swear words and no moderation : shocking ! :)

  37. Kilby Aug 22nd 2017 at 10:09 am 37

    @ Olivier (35 & 36) - In his essay “The Awful German Language”, Mark Twain quotes a sweet little old (German) lady who was delighted by the similarity between German and English: “… we say “verdammt” and you say “Goddamn” - in an era when the latter word was definitely outside the boundaries of polite (English) conversation. The German word has (nominally) the same meaning, but nevertheless qualifies for a “G” rating according to German standards (I’ve seen it in children’s books on more than one occasion).

  38. Olivier Aug 22nd 2017 at 10:45 am 38

    That was also Jerome K Jerome’s viewpoint:”He swore at us in German (which I should judge to be a singularly effective language for that purpose)”.
    Twain’s book was 10 years older than Jerome’s, though.

  39. DemetriosX Aug 22nd 2017 at 12:52 pm 39

    It’s not surprising that Twain’s little old lady might have thought “Goddamn” was relatively harmless. In the 19th century, it was a not uncommon name applied to the English, much like “Tommy” in the latter half of the 20th. (And thanks to American cinema and probably the Internet, Germans today think “f***” is more acceptable than it really is.)

    As for Jerome K. Jerome’s assessment, German is all right for personal invective, but I find it somewhat lacking for more general swearing (hitting your thumb with a hammer, ranting at traffic, your computer crashes, that sort of thing). The exception being southern Germans, who can be quite creative in stringing together blasphemies (a bit like Quebecois French in that regard), but if you’re not Catholic it’s more amusing than anything else.

  40. Olivier Aug 22nd 2017 at 01:32 pm 40

    “it was a not uncommon name applied to the English”: true ; the French word is “les Godons”. Apparently, English soldiers used to swear a lot. Nowadays, goddamn seems to be replaced with f***ing.
    Regarding the f-word : are German people that innocent ?
    I remember English exchange students teaching us that word in junior high and it didn’t seem acceptable then and still isn’t for me now.

  41. DemetriosX Aug 22nd 2017 at 03:22 pm 41

    are German people that innocent ?
    They know it’s a bad word, they just tend to classify it one or two tiers less bad than it really is. If you think about it, F-bombs drop a lot more frequently in films (especially action films) than they do in real life. It’s given them a slightly skewed perspective.

    Apparently, English soldiers used to swear a lot.
    Yeah, there’s this Dutch song from the Napoleonic Era that goes through what all sorts of people of different classes and nations say, like “I am emperor, I am emperor says Napoleon.” The thing the Englishman says is “Damn your eye damn your eye”.

  42. Kilby Aug 22nd 2017 at 03:57 pm 42

    @ Olivier (40) - The “F-word” has become much more common in spoken English, but it is still counts as “rude”, and is completely out of line for most mainstream media (newspapers will not print it, nor will TV stations broadcast it). Movies can use it, but risk the limitation of a higher rating designation if it happens too often.

    Unfortunately, exposure to such US movies and/or cable TV seems to have convinced a certain number of German comedians that the word is “fair game”, with the result that it not that unusual that the word gets spoken (unbleeped!) in prime-time German TV. It has nothing to do with innocence, it’s simply the lack of sensibility for “foreign” usage. If those comedians were to use the native German cognate (easy: change the “u” to an “i”), the local morals brigade would not be nearly so forgiving.

  43. Kilby Aug 23rd 2017 at 12:47 am 43

    P.S. @ DemetriosX (41) - “F-bombs…action films
    A perverse distinction has developed in movie rating guidelines, in that the word is treated as “less offensive” when it is used as a “generic intensifier” or “epithet”, rather than for its fundamental (sexual) meaning.
    According to the DVD commentary for “Mr. & Mrs. Smith“, the film was permitted to retain a PG-13 (rather than R) rating as long as it did not use more that one “F-bomb” (which of course had to be a “generic” instance). The number of cold-blooded murders and the 250,000 rounds of special effect ammunition expended by the movie were seemingly irrelevant, at least in comparison to a hypothetical (second) “F-bomb”.

Comments RSS

Leave a Reply