Monday, January 31, 2005

Well, Bill, This Makes Me Want to Take a Pill

So today is . . . Garfield. Oh, Garfield. Garfield, oh it pains me to say it ... sucks. It's not funny, not cute, not topical, there's little variety, and ... ugh, it's just plain awful.

Why is this so hard for me to say? Because when I was 8 or 9, I loved Garfield. I was so jealous of a friend of mine who had all these Garfield books. They were numbered, and each rectangular book (maybe 5 x 11") had a different color. You could order them out of the Weekly Reader inserts, and I might have had one or two, but my friend had all of them!!! My parents figured if they were spending money on books, it should be for actual books, not comics. Although I also remember I did order this really awesome book about the Muppet Show. After I placed that order, I was so anxious for it to come in, I was excited to go to school for weeks (I had no concept of 6 to 8 weeks for delivery).

Anyway, now Garfield sucks (and they made a movie??). Here's today's:

Cats like to eat/catch birds. We have indoor cats, but they do get rather wound up when there are birds out on the deck. See, though, Garfield is so domesticated, that he can go and get his own hot dog bun to put the canary in. Has he caught the canary yet? Is he planning to? Whatever. Why is Jon so mad? That Garfield has a hot dog bun or that he caught a canary or that he is going to catch a canary? ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ It's not funny, poignant, original, enlightening ...

So, did Garfield just get worse over the years or has my sense of humor matured over the past 23 years? If I saw the Muppet Show today, would I think it sucked? < < < PIGS IN SPACE > > > hee hee. Or those old dudes, Waldorf and Statler, making cranky remarks from the balcony!! Sad to say, this is still funny. I am getting a little chuckle thinking about it. Or what about the Muppets Take Manhattan? Kermit is in the hospital and the doc (Linda Lavin, I believe) pushes and twists his snout, and winds up all his legs. "Yep, no doubt about it, you have amnesia!" Or when he goes to work at that advertising firm with soap campaign: "Soap: It Gets You Clean." Or they go to the diner: "Something from the grill Jill?" "No Gil, meat makes me ill."

Whah ha ha ha ha! That all really makes me laugh! I'm not being sarcastic or mean like normal. I love that shit! So, obviously, my sense of humor hasn't done a lot of maturing; it looks like Garfield has done a lot of sucking.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

The Huxtables of the Comic Pages

I don’t have too much to say about the next comic, Jump Start. It’s a family-friendly comic, but it does update a few of the typical themes. First, the family is African-American. Second, the dad (Joe) is a cop, so you don’t have the typical office “jokes,” like asking for a raise, going to boring meetings, etc. Ditto for the mom (Marcy), who is a nurse. Third, as in For Better or For Worse, the characters age, so the kids aren’t always the exact same age.

Jump Start has some other oddities including an interracial couple (Clarence and Charlene; I think they are Joe and Marcy’s neighbors) and an NFL football player (one of Clarence’s brothers).

There’s nothing edgy about Jump Start, and I don’t get the sense that it’s trying to make any big points. I don’t recall the interracial nature of Clarence and Charlene’s marriage ever being an issue in the comic. It’s just accepted as “the way it is” (although I could have missed something). That’s what I like about the strip. Yeah, comics like The Boondocks and Doonesbury get all the comments and criticism about how they are too political, or are too controversial for our funny pages.

It’s the things that go unnoticed (bad marriages, 1950’s style home life, insipidly sweet kids) that are “just the way it is” that I feel are really more insidious, because we simply accept this, and don’t even question it (well, I do, but most don’t). And now, here comes Jump Start. It’s got an interracial couple, a happy and well-adjusted African-American family, a black cop and nurse . . . and it’s “just the way it is.” No one ever mentions or complains about Jump Start. It, like Blondie, or Hi & Lois, or FBOFW, is just a part of the comics page. And in the words of one of my favorite convicted felons, “That’s a good thing.”

And look at this: who was mentioned in today’s strip? Oprah Winfrey, Condoleeza Rice, Terrell Owens, Donovan McNabb, Lebron James, Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O’Neal. Hey, those names aren’t coming up any time soon in The Family Circus. Of course, Yo Yo Ma is also mentioned, and it dawns on me that I can only think of two Asians in the comics today – Cpl Yee in Beetle Bailey, and one of Elizabeth’s high school friends in FBOFW. Am I missing someone? That’s sad, people.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

One way or another, Dagwood's gonna find ya!

So, the comic directly under For Better or For Worse in the News & Observer is Dagwood! er, I mean, Blondie! The hell? Isn’t Dagwood the main character? Whatever.

Is there a paper in this country that doesn’t have Blondie? If so, I’ve not lived in such a place! Now, I know the New York Times doesn’t do comics, but I’m quite frankly surprised that they don’t make an exception for Blondie. At least in the Sunday Magazine. You know, right below “The Ethicist,” there would be Dagwood, late for work, running smack dab into his mailman. Where does Dagwood live that his mailman comes so early in the morning AND comes right up to his door?

OK, my take on Blondie is that it’s well, it’s just there. I mean, they seem to be a happy family. Dagwood and Blondie do seem to love and care for each other. It’s just not really funny. It’s just part of the comics, and, like Peanuts, just has to be there. I guess it must be some sort of law. I mean, Charles Schulz died, and the comics still have Peanuts! A funny page without Blondie is like a cop show without an alcoholic cop. Like a high school without a wacky French teacher. Like a nonfiction book without the glossy picture pages in the middle. It’s just the way things are, and you’d better like it!

Blondie has some variety, but not really enough for my liking. The jokes revolve around the following situations:
  • Dagwood tries to take a bath or nap
  • Dagwood thinks about food
  • Dagwood gives his kids money or advice
  • Dagwood talks to his kids about Bumstead ancestors
  • Work humor: Dagwood is lazy or sleeps at work, or he asks Mr. Dithers for a raise
  • Dagwood is late for work and crashes into the mailman or is late for his carpool
  • Dagwood rides in the carpool
  • Dagwood plays golf with his neighbor, Herb, or borrows or loans something to or from Herb.
  • Blondie deals with crazy clients at her catering business.

There are a handful of others, but that’s the basics. Now, let me go on over to the Blondie website and see what the latest strip posted is. Odds are 3 to 1 that it’s already been noted on my list (I promise I didn’t cheat) … (I just typed “Blondie” into Google, clicked “I’m feeling lucky,” and got the website of the Deborah Harry band!).

Yes! Dagwood wants to ask for a raise! Score: Big Al: 1, Blondie: 0

Well, we are stuck in an ice storm (with no Sigourney Weaver or Tobey Maguire). I could be stuck inside for awhile, so if the power doesn’t go out, maybe I will get some good blogging done!

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

And I also really enjoy Barry Manilow.

I’ve decided that my new gimmick will be to run down the News & Observer’s comics one by one. I’ll do one a post. The N&O has 2 facing pages of comics. I’ll start with the top comic of the first column of the first page, and go in order. This will be a 33 day project. Well, I should say a 33 post project – since I do get lazy from time to time.

And, yippee! The first comic of the first column of the first page is my favorite comic! (coincidence?)

Can you guess what it is? I rail and rail against all the sickly sweet “family” comics, so it’s probably not one of them. And I complain about comics not being funny, so you would expect me to pick a side-splittingly funny one. You may guess my favorite comic is Dilbert, but no. . . (Dilbert’s waaay up on the list of favorites, though – probably 2nd). My favorite comic is none other than the non-side-splittingly funny family comic, Lynn Johnston's For Better or For Worse.

Look, I never said I was counterculture, and let's face it FBOFW is not exactly edgy. Edgy makes the Boondocks funny. Edgy makes Larry David funny. But, is edgy necessary for humor? No it is not. I just happen to love FBOFW, so sue me.

What FBOFW is, to me at least, is real. I think that's partly because the characters age. So that what started out as a strip about a mom, dad, and their two small children, is now a strip about a mom, dad, their two adult children, and their teenage daughter. The family obviously loves and cares for each other. In a recent story line, the older daughter (Elizabeth) has a sprained ankle, and is getting ready to leave her parents' home for the long journey back to her house. The trip will involve buses, trains, walking . . . The mom (Ellie) drops everything so that she can drive her daughter home. AWWWWWW... but, well, it doesn't make me want to throw up. That's just being a good mom.

Besides, these people aren't always so sweet to each other. They drive each other crazy. The mom has hot flashes, the teenaged daughter dresses inappropriately, the dad is late for an event because he spends too much time with his trains, the grown son is driven banannas by his two young children. Isn't that life? Don't we love and care for (and about) the people who enrich our lives? And don't they sometimes drive us absolutely bonkers? All the other comics I complain about have it one way (too sweet Family Circus) or the other (the terrible marriages), but real life is both ways.

Another thing I enjoy about FBOFW is its variety. The strip jumps around in setting and viewpoint so that from week to week a different character is featured. Ellie has just dropped Elizabeth off at her home. Now, the strip is focusing on April (the teenager) and her teenage angst. The strip presents life as a whole – the workplace, a young family, and older family, an elderly couple, single life, teenage life. Yes, Dilbert does workplace humor much better. Zits probably does a better job of capturing the teenage angst of well-off suburbanites. Baby Blues gets better digs in at the problems of raising children. But as much as I enjoy those strips, they are all one-note affairs. Yeah, Dilbert goes on the odd (usually extremely odd) date, and talks to his mother from time to time, but the strip is workplace humor. Zits is only about a teenager. Baby Blues is only about raising young children. Only FBOFW presents life as it truly is – frustrating, varied, challenging, and, in the end, all completely worth it. Although I've started to pay closer attention to Funky Winkerbean; it's very similar in this regard.

Ah, it’s so difficult to be mean about something I like. Yeah, sometimes the FBOFW jokes fall flat, but I just can’t bring myself to rail on them. Here is some meanness, just in case that happens to be why you tune in here:

I’ve mentioned the really hick woman who is a secretary at my office? Yes, I have. She though al Qaeda was a place, and she thought Katie Couric worked in our office (it’s not, and she doesn’t). Good god, she is the dumbest person I have ever met (the secretary, not Katie Couric -- she seems right intelligent, and I've not met her). I called her Doris before, but that’s not her real name, and I’ll call her by her initial. This is from today:

H is on the phone with "Maw Maw." (I am guessing this is her grandmother that dips snuff). Obviously the grandmother is hard of hearing, because H just asked "Did Shirley call you?" about 5 times. Of course, she never said it any louder, just slower. But I think the problem is that Maw Maw is “hard of hearing” not “slow of hearing.”

Anyway, H said, "Maw Maw I'm on long distance, and if you can't hear me, it's not worth talking." I didn't know how Maw Maw was supposed to hear THAT but not hear "Did Shirley call you?"

And all I want to shout is “Shut up shut up shut up!!!” Her hick accent and ignorance drive me up the wall!! Her accent is hideous and her grammar is worse. I write this as someone who, except for a 6 month stay in Rhode Island, has never lived farther north than Washington, D.C. Why does my cubicle have to be so near her desk???

If it takes so much time to post tomorrow (something is reaaaaaally realllly slow), I will have to give up the ghost, or come up with some sort of hobby to do while the pages are loading. Tomorrow's comic? You'll have to wait and see. Unless you happen to get the Raleigh News & Observer, and then you can just look!

Monday, January 24, 2005

It's Pat!

No comic rant tonight, as I am searching for a new "theme." I need something that doesn't drive me to drink (like the "marriage sucks" bit) or bore me (sorry, Momma, that's you). So, I have some ideas percolating, and will get on the ball and start something new probably tomorrow.

In the meantime, ponder this: Is the first person in this Gil Thorpe panel a male or female?

Sunday, January 23, 2005

EIGHTEEN THOUSAND, People! 18,000!!

I've mentioned Marmaduke several times, and haven't yet taken the time to see if I'm correct in my assumption that Marmaduke is a one joke comic. The joke is that Marmaduke is big dog who often gets into scrapes.

Oh look here! The sign says "Beware of Dog" as you would expect, but look closer!! If you read the whole thing it says "Beware of Dog Slobber!" Ha ha. See, Marmaduke isn't going to maul you like one of Mike Tyson's pit bulls, but he may slobber all over you. The visitor is obviously concerned.

Here's the thing with Marmaduke: It doesn't anger me like some of the comics (those with the crappy marriages and cutesy kids). It bothers me because there is one joke and one joke only. Marmaduke was created in 1954, so there have been approximately 18,250 (!!) Marmadukes!!!!!! How can you have over 18,000 comics with one joke - Marmaduke is a huge ass dog. How is this possible?

Look, I hate Family Circus, but they've got 4 kids, a grandma, pets, family trips, etc. There is some variation. I hate Hagar the Horrible, but the jokes are sometimes about raiding castles, sometimes about his sucky marriage to Helga, sometimes about how dense Lucky Eddie is. Marmaduke, though . . . man. I don't know how the Marmaduke creators can keep it up.

18,000! My MOM was eight when Marmaduke started!! Eisenhower was President!!! The Dodgers and Giants still played in New York!! Think of everything that's changed, and yet . . . 18,000!!! I just can't get over that.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

And what could be more politically correct than hating your spouse?

Answer: Hating your kids and borrowing shit from your neighbors and never returning it.

Oh, goody! Today's Momma is a perfect way to wrap up this dip into Momma. They're back to the family counselor!

Momma says, "Thank you, doctor! That sounds like the perfect solution!" Then, pointing to her children, "One of you will have to go."

Hmmmm .... go where, I wonder? Just leave? That's a good solution in that it eliminates 1/3 of her problem. But does it, really? Won't they just fight over who it is who has to leave, causing her even more headaches? She will need to cowboy up and pick one of them, or they will never figure it out.

Now, why was she waiting on the doctor's advice to let one of them go? She doesn't seem that fond of them, so she could have done this a long time ago? And, do they all live at home? Or just Francis? I will admit to not having Momma in my daily newspaper for many years. So, it could be that all of them live at home and she's now kicking one of the three out.

Or maybe "One of you will have to go" means that one of them will have to go in to see the counselor. That doesn't make sense, though, because they are already in the waiting room. I'd assume they were there to see the counselor in the first place.

Maybe they are constipated, and "one of you will have to go" means they will have to, you know . . . go.

Anyway, I think it's most likely that she's going to be kicking one of them to the curb. The humor here, of course, is that that is TERRIBLE family counseling advice. In panel #1, we are supposed to think, "Ah, Momma's finally got it figured out!" Then panel #2: Doh! We realize that's bad advice and it's not really going to help her, and . . . you know, it's, uhm, funny or whatever.

It looks like someone with some real, professional skill has figured out something I've been trying to say:

(Liberty Meadows, by Frank Cho -- the women are all rather, well, uhm, stacked (sort of like Blondie), but I still enjoy this strip very much.) Yep, all successful modern newspaper comics ARE sweet, bland, and politically correct. True that. I just find it amusing that bad marriages are politically correct. No one ever complains about them. Except me on this blog. Maybe I will write a letter to my local paper. Why not? I've got my thoughts spelled out already.

Aw yeah! I'm starting to get the rage pent up again! Thank you Frank Cho! Love ya!

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Your Heart is True, You're a Pal and a Confidant

No bitching about the comics. I watched too much TV tonight. I'm too lazy, and it's too late.

Plus, I'm not all that riled up about Momma (yet). Is it because she's a tough gal who takes no guff an Estelle Costanza/Sophia Petrillo-esque lady?? Yes, maybe. So for today: whatever. The comics suck, they aren't funny, blah blah blah blah ad infinitum.

Here are some not comic thoughts:

1) I know the names of all the Golden Girls characters! First and last! Yes it's true. They are Sophia Petrillo (Estelle Getty), Rose Nylund (Betty White), Blanche Deveraux (Rue McClanahan) and Dorothy Spornak (Bea Arthur). I'm not sure about the spelling, and you are just going to have to trust that I actually know that, and didn't hop over to to figure it out.

Why is this crap taking up space in my brain? I could have used that extra brain space on Tuesday when I mailed off a bunch of my husband's important documents without stamps. Ah well.

2) My garbage men support the troops! That's what a huge sign on their truck says. How do they support the troops? Do they give to the USO or something? Do they send care packages? Maybe they are just saying they are behind the troops. But, as far as I know, there aren't any troops in our neighborhood, so their sign isn't supporting anyone. Except maybe some of the troops' families live here, so that's nice. I have lots of friends who are troops, including one who went to Iraq last week, so I guess I'm glad my garbage men support him?? I guess? I mean, how should I respond to this? Make more trash for them? Less? More patriotic trash?

3) There is an Aquafina commerical (I think) that uses the song "I Feel Pretty." This was from West Side Story, a fantastic musical and piece of American entertainment blah blah blah. Screw that! This is the song that Baby's sister wanted to perform at the Kellerman's end of the summer talent show in Dirty Dancing! But did she actually perform it? I don't remember. I WOULD remember but that space in my brain is taken up by the following bits of knowledge:
Reverend Alden was the minister in Walnut Grove, MN and Miss Beetle was the teacher.

Sorry, folks. Hate for the entire post to be off-topic, but . . . eh. Can't muster up the necessary outrage at the comics today. Don't worry, I still think they suck!

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

??? I mean, WTF ???

OK, back to analyzing Momma. I know many of you were waiting on tinterhooks. What's the deal with Momma? You would ask yourself while on your daily commute. If only Big Al would tell me! But, no . . . a break to discuss voice mail and the fact that birds don't watch reality tv. But today -- back to "What the hell is the deal with Momma and her kids?"

Well, I think from this strip we can guess that Francis is lazy. At least Momma thinks that he is. Or dreams that he is. I mean, I guess her subconscious is telling her that he's lazy. And slobby. And also, he's been cloned like Michael Keaton in Multiplicity. Isn't it funny that she's the one really sleeping, and he is only sleeping in her dream?? No? It's not funny? Oh.

OK, we gather that he's either lazy, or Momma thinks that he's lazy (or both). But "The Day Francis's Copyright Expired"?? The hell? Huh? Look, I work in publishing -- when a copyright expires, that means that the copyrighted work returns to the public domain. So, for instance, if it's a song, a band will no longer need the artist's permission to cover it, and royalties do not have to be paid to the artist.

So, I ask again: The hell? What does he mean Francis's copyright expired? Does he mean that the character of Francis is no longer copyrighted? That the character Francis can now be used by anyone? Oh goody! I can feel the mood of the U.S. being lifted! Hey, everybody! You can now use the Francis character whenever you want! I, for one, plan to go to Kinkos and get a Francis life size cardboard cut out made. Then, I will charge people to come over to my house and look at it! I bet bars start holding "Francis Parties." This is what Jennifer Garner's dressing like in the next episode of Alias.

Is the author saying that now that the copyright has expired, he can draw as many Francises as he would like? And that freaks Momma out? Gives her nightmares? What? What? What? Damn it, the author held the copyright already, he could draw as many Francises as he wanted whenever he wanted!

But is this really the meaning? Why did the Momma artist let the copyright expire? Maybe he means that Francis held a copyright on something, and because he is so lazy he let it expire. But what does Francis have a copyright on? Last we saw Francis, he was a waiter! Did he write the menu? Is that why he was so excited about the new menu? What?? And why does the expiration of his copyright make him sleepy? And why does it make him multiply?


Oh my! These suck ass comics take me to the edge of sanity. I would like to thank Emily for her very nice comments yesterday. As crazy as looking at this terrible stuff every day makes me, it's nice to know that others appreciate it! Don't get fired by laughing at work. If you want to avoid laughing at work, can I reccommend going to the Momma website and just perusing that. That should cure your laughing spells.

Emily, tell your friends and family. I mean, tell them about the terrible comics, not the blog (although that would be nice, too!). We have a mission:

People! The comics suck, and we just read them because they have "always been there." You don't realize how crappy they are until you TAKE THE TIME TO LOOK. I have former co-workers (frequent commenter John S. for instance) who may have taken the comics at face value. Then, someone (me) pointed out how awful they are. Those co-workers are now as frustrated as I am. Observe. Marmaduke is a big ass dog. He sits on people who don't expect it. It's not funny. Trust me.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

An Editorial Response

I'm going to break from Momma for a day to copy the following letter from today's Raleigh News & Observer:

"Aaron McGruder's Jan. 15 "Boondocks" comic strip, which included the line that Condoleezza Rice was pushing for the death penalty for anyone who teaches a black person to read, is an outright malicious lie. The N&O should apologize to Rice and your readers for such a calumny.
I agree with many other readers that this strip should be on the Other Opinion page if it is worth printing at all. There is nothing comic about it." -- Eugene V. Moriarty, Durham

Here's the link to the cartoon in question. What you don't see is that in previous cartoons McGruder had been poking fun at black churches for applauding white politicians for just showing up, regardless of what they said at the church. As happened in this strip.

A few points: I do think the Boondocks from time to time edges across the line. Sometimes, that makes it shocking instead of funny. Other times it makes it hilarious. I guess the times I find it shocking, others may find it funny. At least it is funny, though! Aren't the funny pages supposed to be funny? And isn't this why I started this blog in the first place?

Is he worried someone is going to mistakenly believe Condi Rice did push for the death penalty for teaching blacks to read? Puh-leeze. That may happen, but people who get their NEWS from the FUNNY PAPERS deserve what they get. Condi Rice has a PhD, PEOPLE!! Condi Rice grew up in Birmingham during the Civil Rights era!!!! Condi Rice's family stressed the importance of her education. If there is any person less likely than Condi Rice to do such a thing as push for the death penalty for teaching blacks to read, I'd like to meet that person. Really! Because I think that person may be Oprah Winfrey, and I'd love to meet her.

Mr. Moriarty was obviously offended by this strip. He says it may not be "worth printing at all." Why? Because it's offensive to him? Because it sometimes crosses the line? No: Because "There is nothing comic about it." Comic: "Causing laughter or amusement." (according to Webster's). I find nothing comic about Family Circus, Garfield, Marmaduke, Hagar the Horrible, Dennis the Menace ... need I go on? I should write a letter to the N&O. I should also write a letter about this malicious piece of trash they printed today:

Dear Editor,

January 18's Shoe, which included the line that an extreme makeover tv show was coming to visit the bird waitress's house is an outright lie. It has been scientifically proven that birds don't watch tv. I mean, come on! TV's don't fit in the nests of most North American songbirds. The fact that Shoe thinks the bird waitress is ugly is offensive to me. Women (and female birds) come in all shapes and sizes. Your comic is offensive to female birds who work in coffee shops, and an apology is in order. Besides, if the bird waitress is going to be watching a makeover show, don't you think it would be The Swan?

Thank you,
Big Al

Monday, January 17, 2005

If this is an emergency, get off the computer NOW.

The restaurant customer says, "What are today's specials?" And the guy (one of Momma's sons) says, "Please listen carefully as the menu has changed. Yes!!! I couldn't wait to say that!"

OK, I know my plan was to analyze Momma, to try to figure out what's going on with Momma and her children, but . . . we'll have to put that on hold because 1) Momma isn't even in this one, nor is she referenced and 2) I don't understand it!!!

My normal complaint is that even though I "get" the punchline, I don't think it's funny. This time I don't understand the humor.

Was the old menu so bad that he couldn't wait until the new menu was implemented? Why does he care? He doesn't have to recite the whole menu to the customer, just the specials. Besides, the guy asked to hear the specials, and Momma's son then said the MENU had changed. Well, he wasn't asking about the menu, dipwad. Duh. Besides, the specials should change every day (or at least every week); that's what makes them SPECIAL. So, I mean, he's not even answering the guy's question.

But, I notice that the customer doesn't have a menu to begin with. So, maybe in this restaurant the waiter DOES have to recite the whole menu to the customer. Well, that's not funny. I mean, the author of the strip has to be assuming that we would make that leap in logic, and, well, I'm just not making it. Besides, I repeat, the customer asked about the SPECIALS not the MENU.

A new angle, just suggested by my husband: Momma's son is mocking voice mail options. This actually makes sense. They always tell you to listen carefully b/c the menu options have changed. Why don't they just get a good menu to start with? And, aren't you going to listen carefully anyway? I mean, I don't have the options memorized. So, this makes sense. But, why is he so excited about saying that? Is the customer a voice mail operator, and the waiter is just excited to throw it back in his face? Does the waiter secretly long to be a voice mail operator?

Here is the dumbest thing I ever hear on voice mail: When I call in a prescription the pharmacist's voice mail starts by saying the name of the pharmacy and the hours of operation. Then I bet dollars to donuts that it tells me to listen carefully because the menu may have changed. Then, a bit more information. THEN, "If this is an emergency, please hang up and dial 911." I always laugh. Duh. What IDIOT is getting on the pharmacy voice mail in a medical emergency????? I mean, if I had just cut off my finger, I wouldn't be calling the pharmacy in the first place, but if for some reason I did, then got the voice mail, I'd hang up right away and dial 911. Good grief.

And, John, they both have their eyes on the same side of their faces.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Momma Mia!

Momma -- I haven't seen Momma since back when I'd visit my grandmother in Tennessee. So, it was in the Nashville paper in the '80s at least. I don't know where it is now, but I am going to get to the bottom of Momma!

The only thing I really remember is that Momma and her children don't get along. Huh. So the strip is called Momma, but the main character is apparently not a very good Momma, or she doesn't like being one. It would be like having a comic called Hubby where Scott Peterson was the main character. Except, as far as I know, Momma hasn't killed anyone. But we'll see.

Some of it is starting to come back: If I recall, Momma either gives bad gifts, or her children give her bad gifts. There's definitely a cheap-o involved somehow. Don't worry; I'll get it figured out.

Now here Momma comes out of the family counselor's office asking, "Children, refresh my memory: The doctor wants to know what was the very worst way you ever mistreated and neglected me?"

HA HA HA! Family tragedy! My goal for the next several posts will be to find out whose fault this bad mother-child relationship is. This strip would lead you to believe it's the kids' fault. See, Momma is seeking counseling for this problem, so it's obvious it concerns her. Also, notice she's crying, so thinking about her miserable children (I think that's the 3 of them sitting to the right of the Family Counselor certificate) upsets her.

Then again, the children have made the effort to join their mother for family counseling. Then, she announces to the whole waiting room that they mistreat and neglect their mother. They look a little embarrased. If she regularly airs the family dirty laundry in public, then that's probably why they don't like her!

Look at all the hats! Does this strip take place in the 1940's? Aren't men supposed to take off their hats indoors?

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Oh, Henry

Have you ever heard of the comic strip Henry? If not, consider yourself lucky. I was first exposed to it in the Sunday Richmond Times-Dispatch. They didn't print it daily. Probably because it sucks, but then why did they bother to print it on Sunday? Well, anyway, my brother and I always made fun of it. According to its website, it's in 75 newspapers! I'm sorry if it's one of yours.

It works really well for this site because there is never any dialogue, so I don't have to type that out for you.

Here's what you probably think the joke is: kid in shorts and t-shirt notices that it's freezing outside. He goes into his house, and gets a coat, scarf, and hat, but not for his own use!! HA HA HA - it's for a snowman!

That's not what the "joke" is, though. See, Henry always wears shorts and t-shirt. The "joke" is that snowmen don't really need coats, scarves, or hats -- they don't get cold. Yes, of course, they are made of snow, but see -- they prefer the cold, otherwise they'd melt. Have you not seen "Frosty the Snowman"? Or sung the song? I guess Henry hasn't.

But, boy do Henry's parents suck. Can you believe they let him out in such cold weather dressed like that? Maybe he has one of those strange childhood diseases -- his disease is that he has super-heated blood.

Hey! I just noticed that the snowman also has earmuffs, but not gloves. This is odd. I mean, snowmen don't generally have ears, but this one obviously has hands, so you think it would be more important for him to have gloves than earmuffs. Also, he's not wearing pants.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Hot Dog! We got that 'lectricity down here in North Cakalaky!

OK, back to neighbor humor:

Loweezy (I think that's her name) says, "It shore ain't th' same 'roun' here wif Snuffy and Lukey away on thar campin' trip." Then Elviney (I think) says "Yep!! When I sit down to my dinner all alone I can't halp but think . . . 'bout all them dirty dishes I ain't got!!!"

I normally say HA HA HA to the lame humor, but I think the appropriate response to this Snuffy Smith comic is Hardy har har. You may also think that this is ridiculous, over-the-top hick dialogue, but there's someone at my office who actually talks like this. She says things like, "I done throwed that away" and "He ain't got none of them." Yep, she's just perpetuatin' the image of the dadgum dum Southerner!

Also, she doesn't curse, just says things like "Sugar." When she wants to say "Damn" she always spells it. But she spells it "D-A-M" like the Hoover Dam or something. I don't know if she just doesn't know how Damn is really spelled, or if she is trying to save time or what. Or, maybe she thinks that she shouldn’t even spell a bad word, and so she’s censoring her spelling. Every time she does it I think, "I'll tell her it's misspelled. But I’ll just let her keep doing it.

Anyway, this is only neighbor humor because Elviney and Loweezy happen to be neighbors. Just talkin' 'cross the back fence, like us folks in the South do all the dadburn time! Note, this is also a bit of the marriage "humor" I used to rail about. Why don't they have any dishes to do? Now that their husbands are gone, are they not eating? Or are they using paper plates? Or not using dishes at all? How are they cooking their food then? I guess the husband uses one plate, one glass, and a set of silverware (although we are talking about hicks, here, so maybe not even that much!) Well, anyway, it's not like the workload has decreased that much, right?

Finally, the official name of this strip is Barney Google and Snuffy Smith (I looked it up!). I think Snuffy is the little bald guy married to Loweezy (the one with the red shirt and saggy boobs). In fact, I know for sure that that is who Snuffy is. But who in the world is Barney Google? I have no idea.

Monday, January 03, 2005

What a tangled web some idiots weave

So, I know I was going to go with the "neighbor" theme for awhile, but this was too good to pass up! A tangled Christmas lights strip in the paper today -- January 3, 2005. I believe that just yesterday I pointed out this staple of holiday "humor." Today's entry is from Drabble:

In case you can't read (and by that I mean, "in case you can't make out the blurry words," NOT "in case you are illiterate." Because if you WERE illiterate, it wouldn't help me to type it here would it? Yalomh yjr Vjrosta, -- that's what it would look like to you if you really couldn't read. And this reminds me that whenever I tell my mom that our one cat always eats out of the other cat's bowl, my mom says, "You should put their names on their bowls." Then I say, "They can't read." And she says, "Then you should put their pictures on the bowls." But, I'm not sure that would work, either, they each KNOW what bowl is theirs, it's that Tigger doesn't care, she wants Honey's food!) Anyway, the comic strip guy says, "Taking the Christmas lights down is easy. The hard part is getting them all tangled up again before I put 'em away for next year."

Tangled lights humor some more. Again. Of course the difference is that he points out that he INTENTIONALLY tangles them!! And we are supposed to knowingly nod, and say, "Ah yes, tangled Christmas lights. I know the feeling! Wouldn't tangled Christmas lights be less frustrating if I tangled them intentionally?"

Are tangled lights really such a scourge that they have to be "joked" about over and over every holiday season? I mean, when we put ours away, I loop them between my elbow and hand, and they stay relatively untangled. The few bits that do get tangled up are easy to untangle. So, you know, I know what they're talking about, but really? Is it that bad? Are people across the country struggling with their lights every year? Do we need to appoint a blue ribbon panel? Are the comics just out of holiday humor?

And why is there a duck in the second panel? Stupid stupid stupid. AFLAC!

And according to the website, the Drabble family is "one of the best-loved families in the comics." Really? I hadn't even heard of it until I read it in the Washington Post 5 years ago. It's in my current local paper, the Raleigh News & Observer, as well. Best loved?? Are they kidding me?? Is THAT supposed to be funny? I can never tell.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Even lots of Cold Medicine doesn't make this funny

If any of this seems disjointed, I am hopped up on Cold medicine!

Dagwood's neighbor, Herb, asks Dagwood to help him untangle the Christmas lights. Then, they have trouble and argue about how to do it. Finally, they are all tangled up in the lights and have to ask Blondie for help!

Wow! This strip has many elements to it:

First, it's a bit of "neighbor" humor, but only in the sense that Herb is Dagwood's neighbor. But, isn't it funny that the neigbhors help each other out, only to end up in an argument? No?

Second, it's the tangled Christmas lights humor. That is a staple of holiday humor. The lights get tangled, the lights don't turn on. Ha ha ha. It's the sort of thing we can all relate to, but I don't think it's funny.

Third, this is "men are incompetent" humor. You see it all the time in the comics, sitcoms, and commercials: men are incompetent boobs who can't do anything right. Luckily, they have level headed (and usually gorgeous) wives to help them extricate themselves from their self-imposed messes. This sort of humor drives me bonkers. If women were always shown to be such dumb asses, there would be an uproar. But it's OK for men to be shown as incompetent? They can't take care of kids, can't cook, can't be handy around the house, can't untangle Christmas lights ... It's amazing men still exist, really, they seem so incapable of doing anything. ARGH! Here's the thing: some men don't know what they are doing in the kitchen! And there are some women who are pretty incompetent cooks, too. Some men are outstanding care givers to their children, and some are probably pretty clueless. There are some things we are all pretty bad at, and I don't understand why men get painted as complete incompetents.

Finally, this is slapstick humor. The guys getting tangled -- ha ha ha. I've never found that slapstick works in comics. I think it's pretty tough to pull it off in any format, but, face it, there *is* something funny about seeing someone fall on his ass, spill something on herself, trip ... sad but true. The thing is, you don't see this in the comics. The artist can represent someone falling, or people crashing into each other, or two guys getting tangled up in lights, but you don't actually see it happening. I mean, it's not all that funny to imagine seeing someone fall down, or to see a photograph of someone falling. Slapstick doesn't work in the comics, and yet it's tried again and again.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

If borrowing really were funny, loan officers would be more popular

Happy New Year!

I am back from a week’s vacation in the Caribbean, and I did not once think about the sorry state of the “funny” page. Nor did I read a comic! I almost don’t have the motivation to continue. Who cares that they aren’t funny? It’s not like I’m forced to read them. In the “Entertainment” section, I could just read the TV listings, music reviews, advice columns, and skip the comics altogether. The one flaw is that I like to do the crossword, and it’s on the same page. So, I suppose I will keep reading the comics, and keep getting upset at them.

We’ll turn to a new topic today, and that is neighbors. Like dopey skinny guys, neighbors are also a staple of comedy in the comics and on TV. TV has Ed Norton, Rhoda Morgenstern, Cosmo Kramer, Wilson (Home Improvement) . . . In Friends, they were ALL neighbors! Yep, for some reason, the neighbor is necessary for humor. If the neighbor is also a skinny dopey guy (Norton, Kramer) … all the better.

So, let’s see how the comics treat neighbors. One of the most often explored areas of “neighbor comedy” is how often neighbors borrow things. HA HA HA! We just borrowed a crib from our neighbors. Friends were visiting with their baby. They forgot to bring the travel thing the baby sleeps in, so it was either a drawer from our house or a crib from our neighbors. That was funny, let me tell you! I’m sure our neighbors still get a chuckle out of it.

Hagar says "I'm tired of neighbors borrowing my things! I'm going over there and demand that he return all the stuff he's borrowed over the years!" Helga says, "While you're there ask if you can borrow a cup of sugar."

Neighbor hi-jinks (and borrowing) are universal. As you can see here, even Viking warriors from the days of yore had problems with overly-borrowing neighbors. This surprises me a bit, as I would think the Viking longhouses were too remote from each other to make borrowing from the neighbors an easy thing. Helga needs a cup of sugar. Did they have sugar back then? I am sure they did somewhere, but did the Vikings? That also surprises me.

What doesn’t surprise me is that the joke isn’t funny. Dagwood makes it at least twice a month. It may have been funny at one time, but the neighbor borrowing your stuff and not returning it is NO LONGER FUNNY. I think the “humor” here is that while Hagar goes on and on about NO MORE BORROWING, Helga wants him to go over there and borrow something! ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.