Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Nowlege is Gud

I am beset with a profound sense of malaise. The creative juices are drying up. Basically, I am running out of ways to say "Hey, those Family Circus kids are annoying!" or "Marmaduke isn't funny" or "Here's another comic stuck in the 1950s." Face it, the comics are the same thing over and over and over, and I'm running out of ways to say the same thing without falling into the repetitious trap I am constantly ragging on the comics for falling into.

Besides, there are great comic parodies out there. And there are others who have figured out how to keep this up, and keep this funnier and more entertaining than I can (and I could link you to plenty others, but again: malaise). I gave some serious thought to throwing in the towel, but have roused myself with a new idea, and that idea is: LEARNING.

Remember when Dennis wondered about the aquarium whale? And I expounded on the wonder of whale fall? Then, an anonymous commenter posted a link about the exploding whale, and . . . people! That's called KNOWLEDGE. And that is my newfound purpose: to use the comics to educate and elucidate.

Will it bore you? Are you kidding me???? Is the attainment of knowledge boring to you?? Well, it was to me in those 7th grade films where we'd watch great threshers (or whatever the hell big farm equipment) thresh up the wheat as we learned about the silos and wheat and great bread basket of the American Midwest. Nothing against agriculture, but that shit was boring. So, I hope this will not bore you, but more importantly IT WILL NOT BORE ME. And, trust me, Big Al's Comic Blog was starting to booooooooooore me.

Today's lesson comes from yesterday's Shoe:

NOTE: Skyler and Cosmo are going to eat a TURKEY SANDWICH!!! ACK! Is that cannibalism?? I mean, THEY are birds, and TURKEYS are birds, so . . . I wondered, do birds eat other birds? And here is what I found after some exhaustive research (yes, I have a major university library at my disposal, but for my purposes here, "exhaustive research" is spelled G-O-O-G-L-E):

Well, apparently, at least in the Antarctic Peninsula, they do.

And this very official looking site seems to have the definitive word: Yes birds eat other birds. That site will also tell you this important fact: birds live "pretty much every where."

So, that makes birds, basically, cannibals, and if you type "cannibal" into Google, you'll get to some insane freaked out parts of the Internet that make me feel very, very unsafe. But, you can read about the German trial in which a man was on trial for eating another man, who had actually volunteered for the privilege. He was convicted, but just weeks ago he was ordered to be retried, as his sentence was considered "too lenient."

Your lessons for today: birds eat other birds, and cannibalism, in humans at least, is bad. Also, (some) Germans are weird.

I do wish I could blog longer, but... I'm having an old friend for dinner.

NEXT LESSON: Who knows? But I will be out of town (again), so it will probably have to wait until the weekend. Until then, study up on cannibalism and birds. There may be a quiz.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Giving Thanks

Today's funny pages exposed several comic page truisms. To wit:

1) Teenagers have messy rooms.

2) There is a generation gap.

3) Kids say the darndest things.

4) Women are totally neurotic, and they like to shop. A lot.

5) Little boys like mud.


6) People eat a lot of food on Thanksgiving.

Today, I give thanks to the funny pages: such original observations on life! Not at all stereotype-reinforcing! And, as always, seriously, side-splittingly, uproariously funny!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

Today's comics were BOR-RING. Blondie forgot to thaw a pot roast! Garfield scares the pizza delivery guy! Mr. Wilson is bald! Beetle stymies Sarge! ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

So, today's Hagar isn't any less boring than the rest. Hagar and Eddie are drinking extra -- they deserve it for their hard week of work. But it's only Tuesday!!!!! HA HA HA HA! Get it? It's not even hump day! ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. I don't even have the energy to comment on its boringness.

So, here is the most pornographic panel of the day. Cathy and the saleslady talk dirty:

Yes! Oh, yes! Faster!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! See you after the holiday. Enjoy the comic turkey shenanigans.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Survival of the Mathiest

So, we're back to the inscrutable chalkboard messages. In this case, Skyler's class is learning the following: 3+1 = CAT. They are also apparently studying the ancient Egyptians and their worship of cats . . . so the "CAT" on the chalkboard is related to this? Pure coincidence? Who knows?

What we do know is that the birds are learning some pretty bizarre arithmetic. 3+1=CAT??? Really? In what system of mathematics? Now, I know what you Kansas school board members are going to say: Arithmetic is simply a theory. 3+1=4 has not been proven in any real sense, and there are some who do say 3+1=CAT. Skyler's teacher is just teaching the controversy, and letting Skyler and the gang decide for themselves whether three plus one equals four or cat.

Here's the thing, though: these birds are being left behind!!! As long as Skyler doesn't really know that 3+1=4, he will be out-tested by the birds from other countries that take math more seriously. Now, in human terms, that would be the Asian children, but since the Asian birds are currently so busy with the H5N1 math (i.e., bird flu), I'm not sure who's going to be outclassing Skyler and his cohorts, but it will be someone as long as they are learning this crap.

In the end, this is why humans are better than birds. We are better at math. If the birds really knew math, you'd think be designing and building skyscrapers, not running smack dab into them, you know? Humans are smarter than birds, because birds can't do math. Also: God wanted it that way. (Genesis 1:26)

Apologies for the Delay . . .

Busy at work, and then attending my 10-year college reunion! Much fun, but I haven't even read the funnies for about a week! Sacrilege!! But will be catching up shortly. Maybe even tonight.

Meanwhile, and I'm sure you all care, Navy beat Temple to be bowl eligible for the 3rd consecutive year! Considering that during my four years in Annapolis, Navy won (I think) five games TOTAL . . . this is exciting and amazing news!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

If You Don't Want the Answer, Don't Ask the Question

Well, Dennis, perhaps they will sink the dead body in a nearby bay. Then, they can study the magical and wondrous world of a whale fall. That, young man, is the ecosystem created by the scavengers dining on the decomposing flesh of dead whale carcass! According to wikipedia, in deeper water (depths of 2000m or greater), fewer scavenger species exist, and the carcass can provide sustenance for a complex localized ecosystem over periods of up to 100 years.

Because it's difficult to know where wild whales die and sink, researchers often sink beached whales, and, I guess, dead whales from aquariums. So, yes Dennis, in a sense, they WILL flush this guy. According to one scientist at a site I found, the process of getting a dead whale from the death spot to a suitable sinking spot can be a nasty process. The decomposing fatty tissue of the whale gets quite ripe. Said the scientist, "We often throw away our clothes because you can't get the smell out." Yes, Dennis, the smell of decomposing whale flesh permeates their clothes.

Isn't that fascinating? Aren't you glad you asked?? No? That was just supposed to be a cute little "kids say the darndest things" comment? Oh. In that case: HA HA HA, Dennis, you little monster you!!! You're just cute as a button, and I'm glad you are in my newspaper every morning to make my day a little brighter!

Monday, November 14, 2005

More Brick!!!!

GLARGH! Gil Thorpe! You always confuse and vex me. If you haven't been following the travails of my new fave, Brick House, here's what you've missed:

Brick has introduced this startling innovation to Coach Thorpe: Analyzing game film. Shockingly, this new tactic has propelled Milford to (I think) two victories on the gridiron. As with so many comic strips, I just have to ask: WHEN THE HELL DOES THIS TAKE PLACE??? OK, I have no idea if high school programs routinely analyze film, or even have the resources to do so. What's so shocking about this whole scenario is that Coach Thorpe and the rest seem to never even have heard of this scheme. WHEN IS THIS???? Seriously, is he going to go off and share this bit of strategy with his colleagues, Coaches Rockne and Halas?

And that isn't even the point of this strip. Brick's social skilz and inability to read other people's emotions leads me to believe he may be mildly autistic or suffer from Asperger's syndrome (he's like a football savant or something). To wit: The Milford fans are actually chanting FOR Brick -- in a positive way -- and he thinks it's a "ritual slaughter." Whatever, socially inadequate dude.

Next, things get better, because Coach Thorpe sends his young charge away with these stirring words: "Go be adequate!!" (TWO exclamation points!!). More inspirational words have never been spoken. Remember George Gipp? "Some time, Rock, when the team is up against it, when things are wrong and the breaks are beating the boys, tell them to go in there with all they've got and be adequate for the Gipper." I get inspired just thinking about it. Or, this is baseball, but still, Lou Gehrig's famous speech? "Today, I consider myself . . . well, quite frankly, not very lucky. ALS sucks, y'all!!" MAN! Doncha just get the chills thinking of those rousing words?

Panel 3 leads us to believe that Brick may be gaining some social acceptance. Except for the girl (I think it's a girl) who seems bummed that Brick's tagging along again. And not that I have anything against ambiguously gendered people, it's just that when you aren't part of the social mainstream yourself, you shouldn't exclude other people just because they say assy and ridiculous things like, "History suggests that a blitz is highly remote."

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Here's One I Don't Understand

I don't get it. Let's analyze:

OK, in panel one, the flower has a thought balloon, which, magically, the rock hears and responds to. Can the rock read the flower's mind??? In panel two, the flower whips its head around, and it's hard to tell what amazes it more --- the fact that the rock read its mind, or the fact that the rock spoke.

In panel 3, ANOTHER rock comes rolling up. This one doesn't talk so much as it displays messages -- flattering messages -- on its face. This amazes the flower. So much so that it exclaims, "Wow, a talking rock!" The first talking rock takes umbrage to this, and when it confronts the flower with its disgust, the flower calls the first talking rock "chopped liver."

OK, someone needs to explain why this is funny. "Chopped liver" isn't any sort of pun, as far as I can tell, on rock, boulder, pebble, or any other "rock word." I realize that "What am I? Chopped liver??" is a fairly standard idiom (one I've never completely understood, aside from the fact that chopped liver does, indeed, sound kind of gross). But it's not particularly funny, or, in this case at least, "punny."

So it's not a pun, and all I am left with is that the "joke" is this: The flower is more impressed by the sycophantic message-displaying rock than it is by the mind-reading talking rock. And I suppose that's a nice little message on human nature and the power of flattery, all tied up with nice little idiom. An idiom I just Googled to find is actually Jewish in origin. So, on top of all the non-punning, talking, flattering, message-displaying mind-reading rocks and talking flowers, we may also have one of Mr. Johnny Hart's anti-Semitic messages!

What we don't have is humor, that's for sure.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Tyler Durden and Dr. Phil and ACK! Cathy!

Is Tuffy Curtis' Tyler Durden? This thought only occured to me this morning, with today's strip:

I think it's his sudden disappearance that got me wondering. He just set loose a spider horde of epic proportions that conveniently stopped the exam Curtis was sure to fail. Just last week he pulled a water gun on noted bullies Derrick 'n Onion. So, I wasn't paying attention to the Tyler Durden-ness of Tuffy then. Have other characters seen Tuffy? Stand by.

And, here's another one that dawned on me this morning (my bus ride was so full of enlightening moments). Is this Dr. Phil giving a pep talk to the Scapegoat football team?

That's yesterday's strip. I read it and was so confused. Is "build a bridge and get over it!" a Dr. Phil aphorism? I wondered who the bald guy in a suit was. Today, it was like a slow dawning . . . that's Dr. Phil, isn't it?

Finally, today is Veterans' Day. A sure chance for our comic artists to appreciate and thank our veterans. And in today's News and Observer, the only two strips to acknowledge this? Surely it is Beetle Bailey, right? No. How about B.C., realm of ultra-conservative Johnny Hart? WRONG AGAIN!

No, the answer is: Peanuts (which, since it's a rerun doesn't even really count, does it?) and, in an upset, Cathy!

Good for Cathy! Even though she seems to be standing on the colonized surface of the moon.

Come to think of it, who on the comics pages needs Dr. Phil more than Cathy does? Actually, who needs a Tyler Durden more than Cathy?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Dear Penthouse,

Sweet heavens! I am clutching my pearls -- shocked at the implications here. What kind of magazines does Alice Mitchell need to hide??? Does Mr. Mitchell get porn??? DOES ALICE???????

I mean, what other sort of magazine would you want to hide from your pastor?? Let's think about the standard magazines people get -- you get a newsweekly (Time or Newsweek), maybe you get a sports mag, a science magazine (like National Geographic or Discovery), or a celebrity rag mag (like People or US Weekly), also maybe a lifestyle magazine like Martha Stewart or GQ or Ladies Home Journal or something.

Anyhow, which of those magazines would you hide from your pastor??? Huh? OK, you could argue that if Ol' Alice got Cosmo and had her "Are You a Candidate for Multiple Orgasms?" quiz open and marked up, she might want to hide it. But, come on, I don't see Alice as a Cosmo subscriber any more than I see Mr. Mitchell subscribing to porn. I, for one, would peg the Mitchells as loyal subscribers to Readers' Digest and the Saturday Evening Post.

So, what is she hiding? Obviously, it's National Geographic with all its Godless talk of evolution and other nonesense. And also she's hiding the porn magazines that they just happen to have scattered about the house.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Stereotypes and Bad Clothes

While Jon did appear in today's Garfield, there's no evidence either way in the question of "Is Jon gay?" In today's strip, Jon inadvertently persuades Garfield to (GASP!) kick Odie off the table! Horrors! So, so funny . . . and original!

But it's not just the lack of evidence here, it's that I am having a difficult time figuring out how to approach the topic without being completely offensive and perpetuating tired stereotypes. (Hey, just like some comic strip artists!) For instance, Jon is a hideous dresser, and so: clearly not gay. Because, as you know, all gay men are very fashion forward and would not be caught dead dressing like Jon. Now, I admit, "gay man as fine dresser" is a stereotype I happen to buy, but what do I do if he likes Liza Minelli? As all gay men do. Or so the stereotype goes . . . and that's one I don't buy. We shall see. . .

Speaking of hideous dressers, let's look at two of the comics' leading ladies shall we?

Here's Lois Flagston yesterday:

Niiice short sleeve turtleneck (!?), Lois. The fluffy neck looks so warm and inviting for a chilly autumn day when you are also wearing short shorts? Huh? And short sleeves? What sort of shirt is this???

And then there is Sally Forth. Now, this particularly fine outfit escaped my initial notice, but Marc caught on to its EEEEEEVIL-ness (click the image to enlarge).

Well, I am off soon on more business travel . . . now to Chicago. So, it's probably going to be at least a week before I post again. Damn my paying job!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

One Year of Bad Comics

Well, folks, it was one year ago today that the Family Circus broke me. For years I had scoffed and rolled my eyes at the sad state of the funny pages. In early October 2004, the Family Circus printed a comic that was so inscrutable, so unfunny, and so baffling, that, after a month's consideration, I finally broke down and began my quest to get to the bottom of the (alleged) humor that passes for good family fun in the funnies. That inaugural post is here.

So, what have I learned over the past year? Well, nothing really. I discovered:

Favorite comic panels from the past year?

What have I really learned?

  • That it is incredibly difficult to come up with something to say about the comics every day . . . or three times a week, which has become the norm. Sorry!
  • That there are tons of like-minded comics haters out there. Thanks for all the comments and feedback. Most recently, John Norton (creator of the most awesome George) pointed out that Garfield's Jon may be gay (not that there's anything wrong with that). If Jim Davis cooperates, and does some Jon strips in the next few days, we may examine that further.

So I haven't gotten to the bottom of the crappy humor yet, but I'm working on it! Thank you to everyone who reads the blog. From time to time I've considered throwing in the towel, and out of nowhere comes an insightful, hilarious, or complimentary comment. Thanks much!