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Updated: 06/14/05

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"The Art of Eating"
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Tuesday, 14 June, 2005

Remember what I wrote last week about Eva, Chip and John? Well, forget it. My bad. Just typing gremlins.

[Move along, nothing to see here.]

I did see Eva on Friday, however. We had lunch and watched the skies open up outside halfway through. We had originally planned to sit outside - good call on moving indoors before the waterworks started. But it was a delightful lunch, nonetheless.

[Even without Chip, John or Jon.]

Nice race by Afleet Alex in the Belmont on Saturday. It was an impressive looking win, pulling away at the wire, but whether that was because he is really that good or because he was up against a pretty weak field of exhausted horses, remains to be seen.

[Although the fractions were pretty fast.]

Spoke to Mom and Dad on Sunday. They were planning to leave for Kyoto for a week, so they'll try to call in when they can. I just got a note from Cousin Janet (via Cousin Jeff) that Uncle Dick is still in the hospital. He was suffering from pneumonia, which they are treating, but they have discovered some major arterial blockage in his heart and leg. They are evaluating him to see if they can do surgery.

As Janet says, "My sweet father," and he truly is. He is one of the nicest people I have ever met. How fortunate am I to be related to him.

[Or any of them!]

Speaking of Japan, apparently there is a revival of the book, "Little Black Sambo" there:

A writer's death can do wonders for pushing that back catalog. Less drastically, a few books acquire cachet by getting banned.

Which may help explain why a reissue of "Little Black Sambo," a turn-of-the-20th Century illustrated children's book with a reputation for racism, is back on the best-seller lists in Japan.

In April, Zuiunsha, a small Tokyo publisher, bet there was still a market for a book that had charmed Japanese youngsters who as adults were unable to find it for their children.

The market agreed. Zuiunsha reportedly has sold 95,000 copies in two months since offering "Chibikuro Sambo." Despite being a child's read at a thin 16 pages, "Sambo" is among the top five adult fiction best sellers at major Tokyo book chains.

I don't remember the book itself from my childhood, but I do remember this:


This is one of series of postcards that were available at Sambo's Restaurants in the 1970's. The postcards tell the story of Sambo and how he loses his beautiful clothes to the tigers who end up fighting one another for them. In the postcard set he stops them by telling them that he will make them all pancakes if they stop.

The story is that the restaurant chain's name was derived from its founders: Sam Battistone and Newell "Bo" Bohnett. They started the chain in 1957 and the chain's decor and advertising leaned heavily on the enormously popular children's book "The Story of Little Black Sambo" (by Helen Bannerman), which actually is about an East Indian child, hence the depiction in the postcard. They once had 1,200 units coast-to-coast. Civil rights agitation against it began in 1970s and the chain collapsed, though the original restaurant still is open - owned by Sam Battistone's grandson, in fact.

Here's another postcard:


I can remember these drawings being light panels above the counter in the Sambo's near our house. But I seem to recall the penultimate picture showing the tigers chasing themselves around the tree so fast that they turned into butter, and then the last panel showing Sambo eating "tiger butter" on his own pancakes, rather than stopping the tiger fight and sharing his pancakes with them, per the official postcard version. But I may be projecting the actual story onto my ever-so-accurate childhood memories.

Or perhaps Sambo's Restaurant was being PC ahead of its time, trying not to offend the Peta People with Sambo's callous treatment of the tigers.


Or not. I'm sure that the world is a better place without the thousands of Sambo's Restaurants anymore. For me, I found this to be a disturbing note about the final resting places of the chain's outlets:

Many of the defunct restaurants were taken over by rival Denny's.

"Tiger Butter" versus "Grand Slam?"

[Mmmmm . . . Tiger Butter . . . ]

Quote du jour:

"The one sure way to conciliate a tiger is to allow oneself to be devoured."

-- Konrad Adenauer (1876 - 1976) German statesman

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