Thursday, April 28, 2005

Liberace in Black and White

Yep. The TV is definitely black and white.

And they are watching, what exactly? A piano concert? This is on public television, I guess? What the hell is wrong with them????? I mean, this isn't even an issue of when they live, it's like . . . well, I don't know. Are they child prodigies? Do they enjoy watching concert pianists? Why is the tv just showing one unoccupied piano? Why doesn't their TV have any buttons?

What a bunch of freaks.

What else is going on with our favorite comic strip characters? Well, surprisingly, it turns out that Odie is quite familiar with the writings of Isabel Allende. On the other hand, Miss Buxley's literary tastes are not quite so erudite.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

So I put the pizza in the dishwasher now?

So, now back to carbon dating the Family Circus.

I've said it before, RETIRE DAD CAN'T COOK. It is not original and it is not funny.

You may ask, "Al, how is this related to the modern-ness of Family Circus?" Because the joke only works if at least one of the following four conditions is true:

1) They have an old fashioned kitchen.
2) They only have access to an old fashioned grocery store.
3) Bil is an idiot.
4) Thel has unrealistic expectations

I just went to my freezer to research this. According to the frozen pizza box in there, you are to preheat the oven to 425 degrees, then place the pizza in the oven, then cook for 15 minutes! These instructions are clearly written to the lowest common denominator, as they tell you that you must first REMOVE the pizza from the cardboard box, and you must also REMOVE the plastic wrap for the pizza. (It does not say, however, that the plastic wrap is NOT A TOY. Hmmm. I wonder if it IS a toy? It's clearly not a flotation device, but it could be fun to play with!)

What part of this can Bil not handle? Preheating the oven to 425 degrees? That's real easy in my kitchen; you just turn the oven to "on" then the dial to 425, and then you wait about 10 minutes (actually my oven beeps when it reaches the correct temp, but Bil's might not). So, one possible explanation is that they have an old timey stove. Perhaps he has to stoke the bellows, or add coal or something like that. That would be hard to keep at a stable temperature.

The other part of the instructions is that he has to put the pizza in for a specified amount of time. I know it's easy to forget or lose track of time, so I'm wondering if they don't have a kitchen timer, or if Bil doesn't know how to use it. Also, it's not exactly a chemical reaction or something where you have to get the timing right down to the millisecond. I'm sure that even if the pizza's in there for 20 minutes, that will be fine. But, then again, if he's using a sun dial to time it, it might be hard to really tell.

So, it's possible that the kitchen is so old fashioned. Maybe they don't have a refrigerator, even. That would certainly up the level of difficulty. Also, if they only have access to an old fashioned grocery store, maybe they can't buy frozen pizza, or pasta sauce in jars, or Supperbakes, or canned soup, or what have you. Only fresh ingredients from scratch in Family Circus town!

Finally, the only other possible explanation is that Thelma's expectations are too high. Maybe she says, "Bill, I'm going to the PTA meeting tonight. I thought you could do Coquille St. Jacques or lobster bisque for the kids? A simple arugula salad with roasted pears and caremelized onions might also be nice." See, now I know plenty of men (and women too) who would find this a challenge. My guess is, though, that she's gone infrequently enough that she doesn't mind the kids eating mac-n-cheese and tater tots a few days out of the month.

So the options are:

A) They live in the past (when food prep was more complicated)
B) Bil is an idiot
C) Thel has unrealistic expectations.

What do you think???

And, I will pimp the new blog again (and probably will a few more times just because I can). See how the Family Circus grandma keeps track of the kids, what happens to Lucky Eddie when he angers the Norse gods (and Hagar too!), and Mr. Dithers' office equipment dilemma.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Our Life on the Funny Pages

Some regular posters and I started a new blog today: see your favorite (or more likely, least favorite) comic strip characters as they struggle with the daily ins and outs. You can read it here.

Bookmark it, visit it regularly, whatever it is you do with your favorite blogs, because I can guarantee you will love it!!! Well, really I can't, but I love it and that's good enough for me.

Our Life on the Funny Pages -- check it out!

I've been a little busy getting that set up, and there are still a few kinks to work out, so there will be no "traditional" (as traditional as anything that started last November can be) post here tonight. Not to fear, I'll be back with some scathing comic rants possibly as soon as tomorrow.

Until then, enjoy the witticisms of Mr. Julius Dithers, Lucky Eddie, Helga Horrible, Gaylord the Buzzard, Dolly Keane, and other fun pals!

Monday, April 25, 2005

Send in the Clowns

I am so easily distracted, it's a joke. I should not be allowed to have a blog where I try to figure things out (like carbon dating the Family Circus for instance). But, when looking for evidence yesterday, I ran across this:

Now, despite many years of agonizing over the crap on the unfunny pages, it was the presence of a clown, and Jeffy's reaction to said clown, that prompted me to start this blog in the first place (and speaking of distracted -- when I go back to look at that original post I see that Jeffy has the dotted lines to show his movement. F.C. hasn't done one of those Sunday strips in a while. You know, the kind where Thelma tells the kid to go get something, and he makes it a round-the-'hood jaunt. Yeah, funny stuff).

ANYWAY . . . I am wondering if Jeffy is freaked out by clowns. He doesn't seem that freaked out by them here. He looks sort of bored. But, then again, is he clenching his fists? Is he tense? It's hard to tell. He does seem to understand that most clowns are actually just people playing dress up. So, why did the clown on the street scare him so much? Did he think that was a "REAL" clown? And why was he unsupervised on the street? And again, who was saying "Oops" in that original post ? Why would anyone say "Oops" when they were scared? Oh, I'm confusing myself again.

If he is freaked out by clowns (and who among us isn't?) then why did Dolly have to come back from the party and throw the presence of a clown in his face? That's mean. Oh yeah, I forgot, Dolly can be sort of a bitch. And, that, my friends, is what makes this a top of the line Family Circus. It's got character! Jeffy is known for his clownophobia, Dolly is known as a bitch, and here we get them both in the same strip. Not only that, the joke isn't half bad.

Do little girls still get dressed up for birthday parties?

Clowns sure are freaky, and they do scare a lot of kids. I mean, there is a famous clown serial killer (I know someone who went to a birthday party where John Wayne Gacy was performing!!!!). Anyway, I wonder why clowns haven't gone extinct. I guess there are more kids who think they are funny than kids that are scared of them. But they are inherently scary, if you ask me.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Previously on Marcus Welby, M.D. . . .

As suggested by Emily, today we begin "carbon dating" the Family Circus. Why do they sing old-fashioned songs in the park? Why does Thel wear Birkenstocks? Are they aging hippies? (in which case they'd be my parents age, and unlikely to have toddlers). Or, maybe they think they live in the 1960s. Or, maybe not. Maybe singing the birdie song in the park is something a lot of parents with young children do. Let us know if that's the case.

More evidence, although I will need confirmation:

Now, I will admit that when I pictured the Family Circus TV in my mind (yes, this is the sort of thing I think about in the car on a long drive), I KNEW it was on the floor, but I also thought it was in one of those big wooden consoles. That doesn't seem to be the case, although it is hard to tell. My in-laws have the TV in a big wooden console, and the effect is sort of like watching TV in the 50s. Like we're all gathered around to watch Bonanza for the first time in color!

So, it seems as if the F.C. doesn't watch from a big wooden console, but still watches their TV on the floor. So, I will have to ask for some input. Do people (besides my in laws) still just set their TVs on the floor? I am trying to think of a single other home I know with the TV on the floor and am coming up blank. Certainly no one with small children whose grubby hands can dirty up the screen.

Reader feedback: Is a TV on the floor un-modern? Is it slightly more modern that they are no longer watching from the wooden console? Is this any sort of evidence we can use for our cause?

Friday, April 22, 2005

Spring is in the air! So is opium!

We're deep in the throes of another lovely Chicago spring-- it was in the 70s on Monday and snow is forecast for tomorrow.
Good times!

Considering the freak weather of my adopted home, I've been looking in the comics to get a little dose of spring fever... And we all know that nothing really beats kicking back with a good Family Circus (much better than, say a good Marmaduke), especially when looking for some keen observational humour!

Bitchy Dolly notes that it's Springtime! It's God's way of saying "Let's Party!"

For fear of offending sensitive readers, I won't divulge what my way of saying "Let's Party!" is, but suffice to say that it isn't appropriate for the Sunday unfunny pages, but hey, to each his own.

Let's examine Bil Keane's idea of "God's Party", shall we? Let's start with the lower left hand corner...
Billy playing baseball? Ok. That's nice.
PJ enjoying cotton candy? No complaints there.
Bil cooking up some franks and burgers on the grill? Thumbs up!
Dolly terrorizing butterflies? Billy drinking juice out of a sippy cup? Good times!
Ice cream, swings, terrorizing bunnies? Check, check, check!

But then we get to this:

Posted by Hello

Which just confuses me.
1. Why is Bil wearing sweats while Thel is in a party dress (albeit with Birkenstocks)?
2. Thel is really into it, isn't she? I guess when God says, "Let's Party" she just cuts loose! From recent episodes of "The O.C." I've learned about the dangers of ecstasy and what "candy-flipping" is. And Thel's squinty eyes and reckless abandon (while dancing with her sweatpantsed hubby!) suggests that she's may be on something...
3. Who dances in the park? I mean, except people on ecstasy.

Continuing on...

"...Let's all sing like the birdies sing..."Posted by Hello

Ok people! WTF?
Who are these people? Where is Thel? What is this song? "LET'S ALL SING LIKE THE BIRDIES SING" Like the BIRDIES sing? Birdies? BIRDIES!!!
The two other brown-haired people look like dirty hippies (or at least former dirty hippies) and the other lady looks like Mamie Eisenhower in a sweatshirt.
I could see the FAMILY singing something like "You are my sunshine" or "Oh Susanna", but we have the patriarch singing about BIRDIES with a bunch of random people while his children are chasing butterflies and white rabbits when they're not drinking the kool-aid.

Think about it people!

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Hello, Cleveland!

Today's Hi and Lois:

Oh, my brain just turned inside out. Is that a Spinal Tap shout out? Is this a reference to Nigel Tufnel's amp that went to 11???

Here's my problem. The Christopher Guest canon (Spinal Tap, Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, A Mighty Wind) to me is the epitome, the apex, the height of the humor scale. Brilliant, brilliant stuff. Hi and Lois, on the other hand, is just not funny. But here is H&L giving a shout out to one of my all-time favorite movies. The space time continuum just folded in on itself and shot me out the other side. What's next? A Jon Stewart appearance in Family Circus?

I hope this is another case of the metahumor MaryAnn was talking about. Yeah, that's it. This is just a dumb joke about turning an amp up to 11 (because they normally go to 10). Hee hee. Now I am thinking again about the scene in Spinal Tap. Rob Reiner's saying "Well, why don't you just make 10 louder?" And Nigel is dumbfounded. Hee hee. Please tell me this is Hi and Lois metahumor, because I can't handle H&L alluding to one of my favorite movies.

NOTE: If you haven't seen the Christopher Guest movies -- see them!! Then, you would understand what it means to hate someone's ASS FACE. Heh heh. Or the Jennifer Coolidge character married to the old man in Best in Show: "We can talk or not talk for hours." Or WINC (Witches In Nature's Color). Ha. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Adult Content: Reader Discretion Advised

Feeling a good bit of writer's block lately, I decided that the sure cure for that was to head on over and see what the Lockhorns are up to. They are sure to get my blood boiling. And it worked! Note to readers: this cure for writer's block works less well in other venues. I tried it at work, but when I submitted our June 2004 editorial as a candidate for the Dental Editors' Prize for Dental Journalism, well . . . let's just say that my one page diatribe about Loretta's meatloaf and the terrible mother-in-law did not go over well. I guess that means no $1,000 cash prize for us. That's what the nomination form says, by the way: "$1,000 cash prize." And I wonder if it will be distributed in unmarked bills. $1,000 cash?? Really?? Is this to avoid the IRS?? Somehow I doubt the award will actually be cash, but more likely a check. Why does it say "cash" if it doesn't mean it? And I will never know the true answer since I wrote about Loretta's meatloaf on my nomination form. Actually, I kid, y'all. I mean, not about the "$1,000 cash" -- that's true enough. I did not write about the meatloaf, and if we WIN THE PRIZE, I will be sure to update you on whether I actually get a wad of cash or not.

ANYHOOOO. . . The Lockhorns did NOT disappoint. Here was the very first one on their site:

I have three words. Guh. Ro. Dy. Go ahead and sound it out if you're hooked on phonics. Ok, I'm sure he's speaking of added weight, and not alluding to the fact that he's answered several spam emails about "getting a bigger tool" or "filling her hole." And, no my mind is not that dirty, I just looked in my junk email folder to see what sort of lovely missives were in there today. Anyway, even if Mr. Lockhorn isn't talking about "his tool" (ARGH!!!! Ack ack ack. Will have to shower and bathe after this. Also, maybe lots of tequila to drive the image away). So, even if it's not "dirty," the point is still that he has gotten flabby in the crotch area -- upper thighs, belly, etc. GROSS GROSS GROSS. This has to be the grossest thing the comics have ever made me think about.

But, I think maybe he IS talking about his, ahem, tool. Look at the smile on Loretta's face!!!! Mr. L and the gym guy look bored, but Loretta looks, dare we say it? Satisfied.

Please pardon for the explicit content today. Really, really, really, I just went over to the Lockhorns site and picked the earliest cartoon they had. And, thanks to the good people at the Raleigh News & Observer, I actually had to seek out this content. I've seen hide nor hair of the Lockhorns in the paper for some time.

Some other stuff:
Broom Hilda (worst of March) contest ongoing. We have more nominees than votes! The nominees are:
Hilda's Hott Date (aka Lincoln)
Broom Hilda is an Idiot (well, that could be any, but specifically, she doesn't know what a computer is)
Broom Hilda's Dentures
The Usual Suspects (aka fire hydrants)

Emily's from Chicago. That's why she always says to vote early and often. That's how they do it there. But you can do it that way here too, if you want.

Still slots available if you want to play the role of a comic strip character in the upcoming blog.

Real Action in the Triangle

From Today's News & Observer:

Is Ted being Forthright? (re: Last week's Sally Forth, and also the big news, drumroll . . .) A suggestion that the N&O may consider changing things up on the comics page.

I remember last night's poster who said this had happened in his paper too, then the complaints brought back the oldies-but-suckies. So, we'll see. Trust me, though, I will be emailing them FORTHwith (pun intended).

Still! Action! I'm so happy and excited. And a little disappointed in myself. I think other people are fighting for world peace, an end to hunger, etc. Well, it's bad comics for me. We all have to have our fights.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Another Saturday night and I ain't got nobody...

I tried to read a month's worth of Broom Hilda with the wide-eyed innocence of a mentally-challenged adult.
Which may be the proper way to read any amount of Broom Hilda, but I digress...

That being said, I humbly present my nominee for the worst BH in the month of March:
Hilda's Hottt Date

Posted by Hello

My gripes:
1. It's not funny.
If the third panel, was say, Hilda sneaking around the bushes surrounding Brad Pitt's house, that would be funny. Or if in the second panel Gaylord said something like, "You're not going to sneak around the bushes surrounding Brad Pitt's house, again are you?", then that would be funny (even if the last panel was her at the Lincoln Memorial).

2. It's not timely.
The only possible excuse that I will accept for unfunny (note, not nonsensical, ref: Idol Minds as the DEVIL'S Playground ) is if it's topical or timely... i.e. discussing Christmas on 12/25 or being all GO USA!!! on 7/4...
According to my sources, this BH ran in mid-March. Not President's Day or Lincoln's Birthday or what have you. Random civic-mindedness does not a snicker make.

3. It's bordering on non-sensical.
Has Hilda's crushes on Presidents past been discussed before? Why, on this night, is she going to the Lincoln Memorial? Does the BH gang live inside the Beltway?

I am confused. Not amused.
And this is the worst BH in the month of March.

Big Props to News and Observer

I think we have an ally in the N&O's features page. Last week they reprinted a WSJ article about the troubles with the old timey strips. The week prior, they ran an interview with me! (I did not post, because it was nothing y'all hadn't heard me say already). And today, this on "comic nepotism." An interesting read. (you may need to register -- free -- or go to to pick up a login).

Question: If so many people feel as we do, and even the professionals think there's a problem, why does nothing change?

Monday, April 18, 2005

Out, Out Damned Wart

The Broom Hilda contest is plodding along. (the nominees are here and here); unlike the Family Circus contest, which whipped up quite a response of venom and hatred. Is it possible that you people hate a cute, loving family more than you hate a witch who lives in an enchanted forest?? What the heck is wrong with you? Families are GOOD. Little children are CUTE. LOVE makes the world go 'round. And yet, I get nothing but complaints and debate about worst Family Circus. Now, we are debating about a WITCH and . . .nothing. Crickets chirping. For God's sake!! What is wrong with you people?? Anti-family, I assume.

Or maybe, there are too many to choose from. Because here's another nominee, submitted by John Sullivan:

John will have to explain what he thinks is so bad about this one, because, quite frankly, I think it's sooooooo funny! She says she has the skills to run a modern office, BUT . . . doesn't know what a computer is!!! HA HA HA!! Because running a computer is the #1 skill for a modern office! Ooh hoo hoo. Side splitting. I guess she doesn't know about the computer because she lives in an enchanted forest. But wait, there's more! In panel 3, we get to see the potential future employer jump up and down and scream. HA HA. Luckily for him, his phone and blotter randomly disappeared from the desk.

And Broomie misinterprets this as his excitability. And thinks she's the lady to help out. Phew! I gotta stop. This is making me laugh too hard.

When Broom Hilda is looking at you head on is her wart harder to see? Or is that just me? If I had a big wart like that (and I don't, FYI), then I'd always try to look right at you so that you couldn't see it.

She's a witch. Why does she need to know how to run a modern office? Can't she just use her witch powers to create spreadsheets and other documents? If I were a witch (and I'm not, FYI), I think I would use my powers on Excel at the very least. Word, too. I would be flummoxed trying to merge two documents, one which used an "auto number" list, and one which had a manually created list. Then, I would cast a spell:

Double Double, toil and trouble
Why does that bullet look like a bubble?

Fillet of a fenny snake
Why the fuck can't I insert a page break?
Eye of newt and toe of frog
Bill Gates go screw a dog

And etc., etc. And, OK, I'd probably use my witch powers whenever I had to cut and paste between PowerPoint presentations. For some reason, whenever I do that now, it pastes in teal (even though it wasn't teal in the original presentation). If I were a witch, I doubt I'd have this problem. Maybe the lesson isn't that I should want to be a witch. Maybe the lesson is that I should get a better handle on the suite of Microsoft Office products.

I guess Broom Hilda doesn't want to use her witch powers in an office setting. Or, maybe she's not allowed. Sort of like how Hogwart's kids can't use magic when they are out of term and in Muggle land. I can respect that. Wouldn't want Prof. McGonagall to get after her. Actually, I sort of would. I think Prof. McGonagall kicks ass.

I'm still working on setting up the new blog. So far we have: Mr. Dithers, Family Circus Grandma, Lucky Eddie and Helga (both from Hagar), Dee Patterson (FBOFW), and Gaylord (Broom Hilda's buzzard friend). We could use others, if you are interested. Some people I think may be interesting: Irving, Cathy's mom, Cathy's dad, Lt. Fuzz, Miss Buxley, Gen Halftrack, Ted Forth . . . Seriously, if you're interested, let me know. I think this will be a lot of fun!

Thursday, April 14, 2005

New Blog Idea

Hi folks. I have an idea for a new blog, and I am looking for volunteers. First, thanks to John Norton (who has given his characters blogs) and Ellcee who has some pretty funny FBOFW satire going on. So, my thought was, why can't ALL the comic strip characters have blogs? What would poor Irving (Cathy's husband) have to say if he could tell the whole world his thoughts?

So, the new blog is tentatively titled "Our Life on the Funny Pages." I would like to start with a team of about 5-10 (but more if need be) people. Each person would post as ONE comic strip character. Whenever you posted to the blog, you'd be posting in character.

Think of the possibilities: You could choose to be Sarge (from Beetle Bailey) and you could write as though you are a repressed homosexual, and that's where your rage comes from. You could be LuAnn and write the blog of a teenage girl. My initial inclination is that you will only post when your character appears in the strip. For instance, Irving doesn't show up every day, or even every week. You don't even have to be a person. I've toyed with being the bird waitress from Shoe (but I don't know her name).

If we get several people from the same strip: For instance, Mr. Dithers (Dagwood's boss), the lady who drives Dagwood's carpool, and Dagwood's postman, we might have several people posting about the same things from different perspectives. But, I would like to have some variety, too. So, I don't want to have only 7 posters, and they all be from Sally Forth

I would like for anyone who is interested to email me ( and tell me which comic strip character you would like to be and why. I'm going to try to keep it manageable -- at least at first. So, I probably won't start with more than 5-10. Make your case for your character a good one!

If two people "claim" the same character I'll choose the one I think is best. Or, if I can't tell who is best, I'll go with whoever wrote in first. I might then suggest another character.

I might also turn you down if you're from a good strip (subjective, I know). I, for one, would LOOVE to be Alice (the triangle haired woman from Dilbert). But, the point is to MAKE FUN of the strips in question. Dilbert's good enough as it is. I can't improve upon it.

It might be a busy few weeks at work for me, but I've set a goal of having this going by May 1. Sooner if possible. Once I get a team together, we'll start brainstorming ideas.

No, it's not the end of Big Al's Comic Blog. I think I'll choose as my character someone who doesn't appear daily. In fact, I think I'm going to go ahead and claim Mr. Dithers for myself. I really like the guy's rage. I reserve the right to change my mind, so if someone's adamant about being Mr. Dithers, let me know. I could always be convinced to be the bird waitress.

Don't forget: March's Worst Broom Hilda. The polls are still open. Vote today.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

I Got Nothin'

Yeah, writer's block! In the spirit of crappy comics, I'll just throw out some HEE-LARIOUS little thoughts and musings. Laugh it up, people, this is as good as it gets:
  • Men can't cook
  • Mothers-in law are mean
  • Kids say the darndest things
  • Huge-ass dogs are funny
  • If you ask your boss for a raise, he will say NO
  • Teenagers are surly
  • Women are crazy freaks who obsess over bathing suit season
  • Wives are battle-axes, secretaries are hot
  • Men are lazy slobs
  • Neighbors borrow your stuff and don't return it
  • Kids ask their parents for money

That's funny stuff, right there.

I'm still just so happy that the Wall Street Journal has caught on to the crap that is the "funny" page. I can feel it: this is a revolution getting ready to sweep America! We are at the tipping point! Soon there will be no more Dennis! No more Family Circus! No more Hagar! Or not.

Wall Street Journal Getting the Picture

From Friday's WSJ: Comics Don't Die, They Get Makeovers: Blondie has a Laptop.

(please let me know if the link doesn't work, WSJ is a subscription site, so that link might expire).

Still, some highlights:

Quote from Pearls Before Swine creator Stephan Pastis: "It's as if 'Gone With the Wind' was still in theaters, only they're driving automobiles and using fax machines."

Can I get an "amen" for Mr. Pastis?

From Jeff Keane on ways he has kept Family Circus up-to-date (uhm yeah, right): Seven-year-old Billy was recently shown sitting at a computer and saying, "I'm on the honor roll, but there's nothing about it on Google."

Google is a SEARCH ENGINE you anachronistic freak. Maybe he should try looking on his school's website.

What can I say?? Is it time to retire the blog?? Once the WALL STREET JOURNAL is spreading the word, why do we need to get involved???

Well, too bad for you people! I like writing, and besides, we still haven't settled on a Worst March Broom Hilda. So, you're stuck with me for the long haul.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

More nominees

Don't have too much time to post tonight, but . . .

Mary Ann's nominee for worst March Broom Hilda:

My day job is to edit a peer reviewed dental publication about "prosthodontics" which is primarily false teeth and dentures. How dare they make fun of the edentulous population??

Mark M's nominee:

Does anyone know the older troll's name? The little troll is Nerwin. And, I mean, he's covered in body hair. What exactly does puberty mean for a troll? Please don't answer. It's terrible to contemplate, and I sense that is why Mark nominated this one.

These are in addition to my nominee: The Lineup. Vote for your least favorite or choose another nominee by adding a comment or emailing at

My choice to play Broom Hilda in the musical: Nathan Lane.

Monday, April 11, 2005

It's Keyser Soze!!

No, really, it’s March’s worst Broom Hilda

Yes, I get it. It is a metaphor (not simile, as it’s not using “like” or “as”): Broom Hilda is short and squat; something else short and squat is a fire hydrant (and also . . . Madeline Albright!! Ba dum dum). Get it?? Do you, huh huh? Broom Hilda’s short! She’s squat! A fire hydrant is also short and squat! HAH HAH HAH HAH HA!

It’s a lame, lame “joke.” That’s not what makes it the worst. I mean, all Broom Hildas are lame jokes. What makes this the worst is the asinine set up.

What is going on here? I see two possible scenarios:


Broom Hilda assaulted the guy. He described the “perp” as someone short and squatty, like a fire hydrant (HA HA HA!). So, once the cops had BH in custody, they needed to run a lineup, and so . . . they went out and got some fire hydrants? Or used some fire hydrants that they already had handy? Huh?


The guy WAS assaulted by a fire hydrant (huh? whatever, just go with it), and the cops needed BH to serve as a “lineup filler” (thank you, NYPD Blue, for teaching me the lingo). This makes even less sense than Scenario #1. I mean, how does a fire hydrant commit a crime?? Even if the hydrant didn’t commit the crime, what’s wrong with the “vic” that makes him think a hydrant did it?

Also, let me say that while Broom Hilda looks more like a fire hydrant than, say, Uma Thurman does, it’s not such a resemblance that it’s not totally obvious which one BH is. What kind of crap-ass cops do they have in BH world? Apparently, from the looks of them, they have South American dictator cops. No wonder it’s such a looney bin.

When I explained what made the organ donor comic February’s worst Family Circus, I got some guff about taking a lot of space to explain a “joke” that Bil Keane made in one sentence (of course, that’s the ridiculous point of this blog, but . . ) So, I will further add that this EXACT SAME LAME joke could have been made rather quickly without the ludicrous setup.

Broom Hilda could have been standing on the sidewalk, and a dog could be peeing on her. Too crude? The dog could have just been sniffing her. Still too crude? Firemen could have been trying to hook a firehose up to Broom Hilda's mouth. Yes, the joke is still lame. There are so many many ways this exact same lame joke could have been made. I don't see why in the world the police had to get involved.

And so, the contest for worst March Broom Hilda begins. I am sure we will have at least a few more nominees (heck, if we don't get any, I have a handful I could nominate to run against this one). Nominate your least favorite by commenting here, or email me at March Broom Hilda's are all online here.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Random Thoughts

A few things for today. I've gotten a bunch of emails in lately. Some are worth reporting on.


Someone emailed to ask "Why don't you talk more about those damn soap opera strips? They are the worst!!!" They are awful. But, my main purpose is to nitpick the lack of humor in the strips that are SUPPOSED to be funny. The soap opera strips aren't funny because they aren't supposed to be. Case closed. Actually, they can be pretty unintentionally funny, and you can read about them at the Comics Curmudgeon (he does "funny" strips, too, but mostly soap opera).

When I lived in DC, the Post ran Mary Worth (still does, in fact). At some point, the characters in Mary Worth were stuck on a boat and there was some sort of accident. I don't know the details. I didn't read it. What I did read was a letter to the editor from a Coast Guard officer. He complained about the inappropriate safety gear of the MW boaters. He didn't want anyone getting the wrong idea about what was and was not safe. Whatever, Coast Guard dude. I say that MORONS who take maritime safety tips from Mary Worth DESERVE to DROWN. I know that sounds harsh, but if you were going to take boating safety tips from the comics, wouldn't you at least choose something like Hagar the Horrible? I know he's an old-timey Viking, but maritime navigation and plunder are his area of expertise. I don't know why anyone would take maritime safety tips from Mary Worth. That's just dumb. I mean, I take tax advice from Cathy, but that's completely different.


I have learned a lot since starting the blog. Mostly from blog readers who find interesting comic history bits on the Internet. The latest came from a reader likely still confused over when the heck Blondie and Dagwood live. There is information on their wedding here. That also contains a link where you can see the Bumsteads' wedding!! (but the link doesn't seem to be working today). They actually seemed enjoyable in the 1930s, I don't know why they can't just have a dignified exit from the daily newspaper (probably because the chance for a dignified exit passed about 30 years ago).



If you get the paper, check out today's Opus. I can't find it online (if anyone knows where, send me the link), and it would be too large to scan. The strip's point is that there has never been a single female animal cartoon character ("adjunct girlfriends" like Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck don't count). In the strip are 22 famous male animal characters from Winnie the Poo to Sponge Bob Square Pants. An interesting concept. I've been racking my brain trying to come up with the exception to the rule, but so far I've got nothing.

Out of the Gene Pool

I got a Washington Post today, so I got to see some strips we don't get in the N&O. One of those is Out of the Gene Pool, and I had forgotten how pissy it makes me. You know I can't stand the lack of hot men in the comics. This has got to be the worst!

Those are the main characters - husband and wife. Granted, she's no Miss Buxley, but he's a hideous beast!!! Absolutely awful! In the Bumsteads' marriage, yes, Blondie is a stone cold hottie, and Dagwood looks like a total dweeb. That pisses me off enough, but OK. In this case, however, she is a normal looking human being, and he is . . . some sort of creature? He's terrible! And no, this strip isn't about "Beauty and the Beast." She didn't meet her husband in the sewers beneath the city. He is an actual male human being. He's just a nasty, nasty looking guy. If you don't believe me, go over to the site, and check it out.

Yuck yuck yuck yuck yuck. Why does this have to be? Believe it or not, I actually like the strip otherwise. It's fairly modern, and even sometimes funny. I just don't understand what she sees in that creature.

Broom Hilda contest

I promise that my next post (probably tomorrow) will be the worst March Broom Hilda. Until then, I'd like to point out one of the most bizarre things about Broom Hilda:

You will note the presence of a lamp and bedside table to the right of Nerwin in the first panel. Then, it disappears. I think that is because, according to the BH website, "The strip is simply a loony-bin where what’s said and done often makes no sense whatsoever, much to the joy of its millions of fans." And, the first part of that sentence is certainly true. One panel of today's strip not only shows what a loony-bin, loony-tune freak show they've got running, but also serves as just the perfect statement on the comics in general:

And of course, I think the answer is yes. Let people who get maritime safety advice from Mary Worth die in terrible boating accidents. That would be a start.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Till there was you . . . I messed around with my secretaries

I still haven't decided which March Broom Hilda I will choose as my nominee for "Worst of March," but I promise to make my decision sometime this weekend. Yes, I foresee a FUN weekend ahead! I have, at least, eliminated this one from my list (although, of course, you will be able to vote for this one if you think it's worse than the other nominees):

I really, really should choose this as the worst. If you are a long-time reader of this blog, you will know that the sad state of comic strip marriages is my #1 pet peeve. The point of this challenge is to find the worst March Broom Hilda, not the one that pisses me off the most. So, I won't let my own "issues" affect my choice. Besides, there are some March Broom Hilda's that just don't make sense.

If I may rant for a bit, though, it's just this sort of comic that always makes me ask the question: Why doesn't this guy get a divorce if his wife is so bad? Please note, I am not taking divorce lightly nor am I saying you can NEVER criticize your spouse. Divorce and marriage should never be taken lightly, and what sort of strange freak would you be if your spouse never got on your nerves.

What I am saying is that when your spouse forces you to hire, literally, an incompetent witch as your secretary (I'm assuming she doesn't trust him with a looker -- imagine if he hired Blondie!), it's time to start questioning things.

When you and your friends are sitting around drinking margaritas and dishing on your spouses, it's OK to criticize. When you find yourself saying mean things about your spouse to someone on a job interview??? Again, time to start wondering if this marriage is really working out.

Besides, it's a never-ending cycle. His wife is forcing him to hire a witch because she doesn't trust him with a Blondie (or a Thelma, or, God forbid! a Miss Buxley!). He either messed around with his last secretary or at least gave her reason to be suspicious. It's kind of a chicken or egg thing, but if the wife does sleep until noon and irritate people, no wonder he started to stray! He doesn't like his wife!!! So he sleeps around. Then she dictates his hiring choices, so he complains about her even more. Resents her more, then sleeps around again. Broom Hilda is supposed to be "love-starved." She should stay on this job -- she'll probably be "getting some" soon enough.

I'm not saying it's the woman's fault for being a bitch. I'm just saying these two people don't seem to like or care for each other very much, so why don't they make things easier on themselves and move on? Also, why do we have to have this in the comics? It's not funny, it's just mean and sad.

On another note, "'til" is not correct. It is NOT a contraction of "until." It's a common mistake, but the word is actually "till." Till came before until, and well . . . if you don't believe me you can read about here, among other places.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Could Hi be High? Is that it?

I don't mean to pick on Hi & Lois, but (who am I kidding? I totally mean to pick on them). Anyway, does anyone care to explain this one?

Look closely at Hi in the first and last panels.

OK, here are my initial thoughts: Chip asks Hi about his bachelor days, and Hi answers with some sappy answer about Lois "completing him." Panel 3: Lois says, "You had me at hello." NO OF COURSE NOT! I was confusing Hi and Lois with JerryMcGuire. That happens to me a lot. Does it happen to you, to? Especially when Trixie starts shouting "Show me the money!!!" Like, give it a rest, Trixie, Jerry McGuire is so totally 1996.

Sorry. OK, Hi really does give the sappy answer about Lois completing him. But, Lois is listening and says "You can stop winking now." I just don't get it. At all.

I am willing to bet that Hi is really pouring it on thick. I don't doubt that he loves Lois, but that line of bullshit seems too much. Does he know she is listening in? I mean look at his face in the first panel. It's almost like he's rolling his eyes, but maybe he's listening out for Lois' footsteps?

Then Lois says "you can stop winking"?? They totally are NOT winking. Hi has some absolutely ridiculous look on his face. I realize Lois can't see them, so I think the point here is that she realizes this is a load of b.s. from Hi, and Lois is saying he can cut the crap. That's fine. It's the sort of thing my husband and I do a lot of.

It's just the facial expressions in the third panel that mystify me. Lois has a big grin on her face -- because she knows there's some truth to Hi's answer? Because she thinks she's so clever? Chip is getting a hearty laugh. Is that because he thinks his dad's been "caught" selling a line of crap? Or is this some sort of Chip and Lois set up? Or were Chip and Hi setting up Lois? And Hi . . . what the heck? His eyes are crossed, and he's grimacing?? Or smiling?? Or . . . what exactly is he doing?

What's going on here? Interpretations welcome.

Worst March Broom Hilda nominations coming soon. It was harder than I thought, but I've narrowed my choice down to 7 possibilities.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Men are Messy, too! HA HA! Oh, Poor Men

Ah, the old "Dad can't cook" joke. It never grows old. Oh, look at that -- I have my fingers crossed. It does grow old, it has grown old, it grew old a long time ago. Look at me conjugate the verb "grow!" Aw yeah!

Off the top of my head, here is why this "joke" needs to be retired:

1) There are a lot of men who actually like to cook and are pretty darn good at it! I may tend to overestimate their numbers as the men closest to me -- husband, dad, brother, brother-in-law -- are all kitchen-o-philes. Still, I have a feeling they aren't the only men on the whole planet who enjoy cooking. Emeril, anyone? Yeah.

2) The men I know who don't enjoy cooking usually have one or two dishes they can make in a pinch. I think this may stem from the fact that people are getting married at an older age. They don't slip right from their mother's cooking to their wife's. Even the hardiest bachelor figures out how to whip up simple pasta and sauce, or chili, or something on the grill. I am familiar with men who know how to cook one fancy meal in order to impress (i.e., seduce) women. (I don't make the facts, just report them). So, if they were to be (horrors!) left home with the kids, sans wife, I'm sure they could whip up one of their old bachelor-days specials (and I am NOT (not, not, not) implying that they would be reverting to seduction behavior).

3) The entire American food industry is based on making meals easy and convenient for families. I know the joke is that men are big, dumb, oafs who don't know the stove's burning hot red eye from . . . well . . . [insert your own "red eye" joke here]. But how dumb would any person have to be in these days of prepackaged skillet meals, meals-in-a-box, pre-seasoned tubs of taco meat, microwavable meals, frozen pizzas. You get the point. People: If you know a man who is too dumb to handle one of these meals, consider taking him in for IQ testing. I mean, Forrest Gump managed to raise and feed a child, and that was before the advent of Banquet Supperbakes.

4) Even in the context of this strip, it doesn't make sense. I am sure Lois has left Hi with the kids before. In fact, I'd be willing to bet good money that this VERY JOKE has been used in the strip before. So, how much of an idiot is Hi???? I mean, hasn't he figured out ONE SIMPLE MEAL to fix for his kids?? Maybe he screwed it up the first two or three times, but has he not heard of something I like to call "trial and error?" Are we supposed to think Hi is a simpleton? That's the impression I'm getting.

5) It's not funny. Maybe it was funny the first time it was told. Maybe it was funny in the 1950s, when men really didn't know their way around the kitchen. When knowing your way around the kitchen really did require some bit of skill and knowledge. Maybe it was funny the first time it was told, or the second. I think, though, I reached my limit at its 329th telling. Some of you may like hearing the same thing over and over, like a favorite song. If so, just cut this comic out, and look at it when you need a "men can't cook" fix. That way, it doesn't have to be told again, and people like me who can't stand it can be spared.

I've never been a big fan of "men are huge, dumb, shambling oafs who are lucky to have women take care of them" jokes. Mostly because I don't think this is true. Most of the men I know seem very capable, and even the ones who don't know their way around the kitchen aren't so dumb they can't figure it out.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Go Tar Heels!

The race for Worst February Family Circus was a tight one. And the Creepy Clown goes to . . .

There is no winner. It was a tie. The Organ Donor comic and the Valentine's Day comic each received 9 votes! Solitaire was very close with 6 votes. I have decided that there doesn't need to be a tie-breaker, a run-off, a recount, a sudden death overtime, or anything of the sort. Close to 30 people weighed in, and it seems that the two comics were equally bad. And even though I beg to differ (Organ Donor is totally worse!), I'll stick with democratic principles and the voice of the people. They both sucked (I mean the comics, NOT democratic principles and the voice of the people). While we're at it, I should mention that despite the results, in reality, all three sucked. No, wait -- all 28 Family Circi in February sucked.

Our next task will be to find the worst Broom Hilda in March. You can look for them here. I will be putting up the first nominee later this week.

The blog was acting goofy over the weekend. Sorry for that! There were some bugs. Or, if you choose to believe the conspiracy theorists, my post criticizing B.C. pissed off some Higher Ups. Could be. Just in case, I'd like to note, as a good Presbyterian girl, I think Satanism is BAD. Do NOT worship the devil. Just because the comic was a head scratcher, doesn't mean I advocate any form of worship of the dark lord. BUT, if you read this blog backwards . . . ??????? you will be disappointed, because it will just be a random bunch of letters.

It's a beautiful spring day in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels are playing for the national championship tonight, it's Opening Day in baseball. Life is good. I'll take up the crappy state of the comics tomorrow. Until then, let's just enjoy spring!

Sunday, April 03, 2005


Hi folks. Been having some technical difficulties. This is a test.