Friday, June 11, 2010

What this blog is About

This blog is about the actual adventures of my dog MuTT and myself, JeFF and we travel around Japan and map out the most rural parts stay at and review onsens and ryokan.  We will also be interviewing people who are masters of their craft (woodprints, pottery, swordmaking...)  There will be a muttandjeff website as well with photo and video gallaries as well as an interactive map of where we are at any given time.  Live video streaming will be available as well. 

The future MuTT
Australian cattle dog (female)

MuTT will be my constant companion during our road trips.

 This will be the transportation around Japan.  I still haven't made a choice between the 1967 and 1972.  It will be loaded up with camping gear, hiking gear and my folding Brompton bicycle.


An onsen (温泉) is a term for hot springs in the Japanese language, though the term is often used to describe the bathing facilities and inns around the hot springs. As a volcanically active country, Japan has thousands of onsen scattered along its length and breadth. Onsen were traditionally used as public bathing places and today play a central role in directing Japanese domestic tourism.
Onsen come in many types and shapes, including outdoor 露天風呂 rotenburo and indoor baths. Baths may be either public run by a municipality or private (内湯 uchiyu) often run as part of a hotel, ryokan or Bed and Breakfast (民宿 minshuku).
Onsen are a central feature of Japanese tourism often found out in the countryside but there are a number of popular establishments still found within major cities. They are a major tourist attraction drawing Japanese couples, families or company groups who want to get away from the hectic life of the city to relax. Japanese often talk of the virtues of "naked communion" (裸の付き合い hadaka no tsukiai) for breaking down barriers and getting to know people in the relaxed homey atmosphere of a ryokan with an attached onsen. Japanese television channels often feature special programs about local onsens.
The presence of an onsen is often indicated on signs and maps by the symbol ♨ or the kanji, 湯 (yu, meaning "hot water"). Sometimes the simpler hiragana character ゆ (yu) is used, to be understandable to younger children.

MuTT and JeFF

a) Another name for the Good Cop/Bad routine
b) In April 1941 two Norwegians, Helge Moe (Mutt) and Tor Glad (Jeff) fetched up on a remote Aberdeenshire beach, having travelled by seaplane and rubber dinghy. They immediately turned themselves in to the local police as German spies.
MI5 soon 'turned' them, assigning them their codenames, which were the names of a pair of cartoon strip characters (see Mutt and Jeff). 'Mutt and Jeff' is also cockney rhyming slang for 'deaf'.
Mutt and Jeff's mission was supposed to be one of sabotage, as well as having a secondary intelligence role, reporting via wireless military locations, deployments and civilian morale. MI5 used Mutt and Jeff's radio sets to relay false information, leading the Germans to believe that the United Kingdom intended to invade Norway (this activity was a component of Operation Fortitude).

The Comic Strip

MuTT and JeFF was an actual comic from way back in the early 1900s.
Below is some insight into the comic strip.

Mutt and Jeff is an American newspaper comic strip created by Bud Fisher in 1907. It is commonly regarded as the first daily comic strip. The concept of a newspaper strip featuring recurring characters in multiple panels on a six-day-a-week schedule had previously been pioneered through the short-lived A. Piker Clerk by Clare Briggs, but it was Mutt and Jeff as the first successful daily comic strip that staked out the direction of the future trend.

It remained in syndication until 1982, over time drawn by several cartoonists, chiefly Al Smith who drew the strip for nearly 50 years. The series became a comic book (initially published by All-American Publications and later by DC Comics, Dell Comics and Harvey Comics), as well as cartoons, films, merchandising and reprints.

Syndicated success

Under its initial title, A. Mutt debuted on November 15, 1907 on the sports pages of the San Francisco Chronicle. The featured character had previously appeared in sports cartoons by Fisher, but was unnamed. Fisher had approached his editor, John P. Young about doing a regular strip as early as 1905, but was turned down. According to Fisher, Young told him, "It would take up too much room, and readers are used to reading down the page, and not horizontally."

This strip focused on a single main character, until the other half of the duo appeared on on March 27, 1908. It appeared only in the Chronicle, so Fisher did not have the extended lead time that syndicated strips require. Episodes were drawn the day before publication, and frequently referred to local events that were currently making headlines, or to specific horse races being run that day. A 1908 sequence about Mutt's trial featured a parade of thinly-disguised caricatures of specific San Francisco political figures, many of whom were being prosecuted for graft.

On June 7, 1908, the strip moved off the sports pages and into Hearst's San Francisco Examiner where it was syndicated by King Features and became a national hit, subsequently making Fisher the first big celebrity of the comics industry.[3] Fisher had taken the precaution of copyrighting the strip in his own name, facilitating the move to King Features and making it impossible for the Chronicle to continue the strip using another artist.

A dispute between Fisher and King Features arose in 1913, and Fisher moved his strip on September 15, 1915, to Wheeler Syndicate (later Bell Syndicate), who gave Fisher 60% of the gross revenue, an enormous income in those times.  Hearst responded by launching a lawsuit which ultimately failed. By 1916, Fisher was earning in excess of $150,000 a year. By the 1920s, merchandising and growing circulation had increased his income to an estimated $250,000.

In 1918, Mutt and Jeff became a Sunday strip, and as success continued, Fisher became increasingly dependent on assistants to produce the work. Fisher hired Billy Liverpool and Ed Mack, artists Hearst had at one point groomed to take over the strip, who would do most of the artwork. Other assistants on the strip included Ken Kling, George Herriman, and Maurice Sendak while still in high school.

Fisher appeared to lose all interest in the strip during the 1930s, and after Mack died in 1932, the job of creating the strip fell to Al Smith. The strip retained Fisher's signature until his death, however, and not until December 7, 1954 was the strip signed by Smith.[4]

A Mutt and Jeff strip from 1913

Characters and story

Augustus Mutt is a tall, dimwitted racetrack character - a fanatic horse-race gambler who is motivated by greed. Mutt has a wife, known only as Mrs. Mutt (Mutt always referred to her as "M'love") and a son named Cicero. Mutt first encountered the half-pint Jeff, an inmate of an insane asylum who shares his passion for horseracing, in 1908. They appeared in more and more strips together until the strip abandoned the horse-race theme, and concentrated on Mutt's other outlandish, get-rich-quick schemes. Jeff usually served as a (sometimes unwilling) partner. Jeff was short, bald as a billiard ball, and wore mutton chop sideburns. He has no last name, stating his name is "just Jeff — first and last and always it's Jeff." However, at one point late in the strip's life, he is identified in the address of a cablegram as "Othello Jeff." He has a twin brother named Julius. They look so much alike that Jeff, who can't afford to have a portrait painted, sits for Julius, who is too busy to pose. Rarely does Jeff change from his habitual outfit of top hat and suit with wing collar. Friends of Mutt and Jeff have included Gus Geevem, Joe Spivis and the English Sir Sidney. Characteristic lines and catch phrases that appeared often during the run of the strip included "Nix, Mutt, nix!", "For the love of Mike!" and "Oowah!"

The original inspiration for the character of "Jeff" was Jacques "Jakie" Fehr, a tiny (4'8") irascible Swiss-born shopkeeper in the village of Occidental, California. One summer day in 1908, Fisher, a member of San Francisco's Bohemian Club, was riding the North Pacific Coast narrow-gauge railway passenger train northbound to the Bohemian Grove, the club's summer campsite. During a stop in Occidental, Fisher got off the train to stretch his legs and observed the diminutive walrus-moustached Fehr in heated altercation with the tall and lanky "candy butcher," who sold refreshments on the train and also distributed newspapers to shops in towns along the train route. The comic potential in this scene prompted Fisher to add the character of Jeff to his A. Mutt comic strip, with great success.

Cicero's Cat

Bud Fisher's Cicero's Cat (August 7, 1942)

The spin-off strip Cicero's Cat starred Desdemona, a cat that Smith originally introduced in 1933 as a pet for Mutt's son, Cicero. This pantomime strip was a "topper", a Sunday-only feature packaged with the Sunday strip.

Al Smith received the National Cartoonists Society Humor Comic Strip Award in 1968 for his work on the strip. Smith continued to draw Mutt and Jeff until 1980, two years before it ceased publication.

In the introduction to Forever Nuts: The Early Years of Mutt & Jeff, Allan Holtz gave the following reason for the strip's longevity and demise:

The strip's waning circulation got a shot in the arm in the 1950s when President Eisenhower sang its praises, and then again in the 1970s when a nostalgia craze swept the nation. It took the 1980s, a decade focused on the here and now, and a final creative change on the strip when even Al Smith had had enough, to finally allow the strip the rest it had deserved for decades.

During this final period it was drawn by George Breisacher.[13] Currently, Andrews McMeel Universal continues to syndicate Mutt and Jeff under the imprint Classic Mutt and Jeff (in both English and Spanish language versions) under the signature of Pierre S. De Beaumont.

Comic books

Mutt and Jeff also appeared in comic books. They were featured on the front cover of Famous Funnies #1, the first modern format comic book, and reprints appeared in DC Comics' All American Comics.

In 1939, DC gave them their own comic book, published until 1958 for 103 issues. The DC run consisted entirely of strip reprints. Dell Comics took over the feature after DC dropped it, but their tenure only lasted one year and 12 issues. Many of the Dell issues featured conventional-length stories newly drawn by Smith.

Harvey Comics, which had several other comic strip reprint comics running at the time, picked up Mutt and Jeff from Dell Comics, and this version of the comic ran through part of 1965 for a total of 33 issues, plus two short-lived spinoff title: Mutt & Jeff Jokes and Mutt & Jeff New Jokes. During these later versions, Smith's Cicero's Cat, was also included.

Motion pictures

In early July 1911, during the silent era of motion pictures, at David Horsley's Nestor Comedies in Bayonne, New Jersey, Al Christie began turning out a weekly one-reel live-action Mutt and Jeff comedy short, which was based on the comic strip.

The Mutt and Jeff serial was extremely popular and after the Nestor Company established a studio in Hollywood, in late October 1911, Christie continued to oversee a weekly production of a one-reel episode.

In the fall of 1911, Nestor began using an alternate method of displaying the intertitles in the Mutt and Jeff comedies. Instead of a cut to the dialogue titles, the dialogue was displayed at the bottom of the image on a black background so the audience could read them as a subtitle, which was similar to the way they appeared in the cartoon strips. Horsley was very proud of the device and claimed to have entered a patent on it. He advertised the Mutt and Jeff movies as "talking pictures."

The first actors to portray Mutt and Jeff in the comedy shorts were Sam D. Drane, a tall man noted for his resemblance to President Lincoln, who actually played Lincoln in his last movie, The Crisis (1916), as A. Mutt, and Gus Alexander, whose nickname was "Shorty," as Jeff. When Alexander was leaving the serial, Christie hired the small actor Bud Duncan. Duncan played Jeff in two installments before the serial ended in 1912.


In 1916, Fisher licensed the production of Mutt and Jeff for animation with pioneers Charles Bowers and Raoul Barré of the Barré Studio. The animated series lasted 11 years and more than 300 animated Mutt and Jeff shorts were released, making it the longest running theatrical animated movie serial second to Krazy Kat.

(Popeye appeared in fewer movie cartoons, a total of 120 produced over a 24 year period. But there were more Popeye cartoons combined with the theatrical and television productions.)

Popular culture
"Mutt and Jeff" became idiomatic for any tall-and-short pair of men (Mutt was the tall one).
The "good cop/bad cop" police interrogation tactic is also called "Mutt and Jeff".
Marcel Duchamp signed his very influential early work Fountain, a urinal he purchased from the manufacturer, as "R. Mutt 1917".

Bud Fisher's Mutt and Jeff #17 (Cupples and Leon, 1932)
The names were used as codenames for a pair of World War II spies, Mutt and Jeff.
The combination of the Victory Medal and British War Medal, awarded to soldiers in the British Army for service in the first World War, was also known as a "Mutt and Jeff." The Victory Medal was awarded to those who entered a theater of war, and the British War medal was awarded to soldiers who left their own land.
The Australian cricketers Bill Woodfull and Bill Ponsford formed a famous batting partnership during the late 1920s and 1930s, and were nicknamed "Mutt and Jeff," although it was never clear which one was which.
The film Racing with the Moon (1984) about two close friends (Nicolas Cage, Sean Penn) in 1943 includes a scene with a copy of a Mutt and Jeff comic book as both a period artifact and a reference to the friendship depicted in the movie.
In rhyming slang, "mutton" is used as a shortening of "Mutt'n'Jeff", meaning "deaf".
In the movie The Sting, Robert Redford's character mockingly says hello to a Chicago mobster's two goons calling them "Mutt and Jeff."
In The Simpsons episode Helter Shelter in which the Simpsons participate in a reality television game show in which they live in a Victorian house and have access to items available only in 1895, Bart laments having access only to Mutt and Jeff comic books and is quoted as saying, "This has been the worst week of my life. I miss my toys and my video games. Mutt and Jeff comics are NOT funny! They're gay, I get it!". Mutt and Jeff was not created until 1907.