Thursday, July 28, 2005

Vacation!

No more posts until next Sunday (8/7) at the very earliest . . . going to vacation at one of North Carolina's finest beaches. The good news is: a) vacation wasn't this week, when I would have cooked in 95-100 degree temperatures and b) I will be perusing the Wilmington Star, where I am sure to be introduced (or re-introduced) to many not-so-great comics we don't get here in the Triangle!

Adios muchachos!

PS ANOTHER anniversary joke in today's Blondie. WHEN is this great anniversary? Will I miss it while I'm away? Horrors!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

"I have Erik Estrada's birthday lunch next week"

So, Blondie and Mrs. Dithers are discussing the big anniversary party. It has been the theme of this strip since July 10. That's right -- we're on to the 18th consecutive "anniversary strip" with no end in sight. This better be one heck of a party!

And, when planning your anniversary party, who better to talk to than your husband's boss's wife??? Seriously, is this a close relationship a lot of people share? Actually, I'm very close to my husband's boss's wife. I'm closer to her than pretty much anyone I know, so I shouldn't be criticizing Blondie, I guess. Also, my husband is his own boss, so technically, I am my husband's boss's wife. I should go to a nice luncheon and just talk to myself.

Of course, two ladies can't get together without gossiping, and, like any "off screen" character in Blondieworld, she has a wacky name: Emily Gorkal! Heh. Remember Milly Crabknackle? How about the Glambuster Contract? I need to pay more attention to this phenomenon.

Anyway, I guess this Emily Gorkal (heh heh) is a name dropper. Mrs. Dithers and Blondie tut tut at such behavior, until . . . Blondie does a little name dropping herself!!! HA HA HA! Hypocrite! And what name does she drop? When trying to impress your friends and the comic reading audience about the very hip and well-known people you cater for, the name you drop is . . . . PHYLLIS DILLER????? Seriously? Phyllis Diller? Huh? Has anyone under 25 even heard of Phyllis? I mean, I know she's a stand-up comic. When I was growing up she would appear on episodes of the Love Boat or the Muppet Show or Carol Burnett or something.

I find this very intriguing. If Blondie and Mrs. D were real, I'd guess the reason Blondie name dropped Phyllis Diller is because Phyllis is the only famous person whose name she COULD drop. But Blondie and Mrs. D aren't real! Dean Young could have chosen any celebrity in the world, and he chooses Phyllis Diller???? I can't get over it. He could have chosen any ubiquitous, innocuous star of today (Teri Hatcher? Clay Aiken? Jessica Simpson? -- none of these choices are particularly cutting edge or hip). He could have chosen someone more appropriate to the Bumstead's age group (whatever the hell that is), but still well-known and worthy of name dropping (Tony Bennett? Sean Connery? Barbara Walters?).

But he chose PHYLLIS DILLER!!!! Phyllis Diller whose career had peaked by the time I watched her in Love Boat reruns. I mean, he could have actually had Blondie say "Carol Burnett" instead of someone who just made guest appearances on her show. She could have said "Mary Tyler Moore," or "Mel Brooks," or . . . anyone. But Phyllis Diller? I now hope that random Love Boat guest stars will start making guest appearances in Blondie: stand by for Charo, Sandy Duncan, Dick Van Patten, and Toni Tennille (and believe it or not, the previously mentioned Teri Hatcher.)

PHYLLIS DILLER!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Witch Chicks Love a Deal!

Well, I was away for the weekend, and when I returned I was surprised to see Friday's Broom Hilda:
So much for the "indignities of visiting the doctor" theme she had going earlier in the week. I would have loved to at least seen Anonymous' prediction come to fruition. Ah well, we can't have hilarious doctor and gown humor all the time -- it would get old and boring!! (And in reviewing those gown comics, I wonder why they let her keep her hat on).

So, we've moved on to . . . shopping humor. Women! Crazy broads will buy a bunch of ugly shit they don't like as long as they get a deal. HA HA HA! At least they can cook -- 'cause men are cluebags in the kitchen! Ahhhhhhh . . . age-old gender humor. Almost as funny as doctor humor!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Gown Humor, Cont.


Well, whaddaya know? ANOTHER joke about the backless gown! HEE HEE! I can't get enough of the Broom Hilda ass humor! And, the fact that jokes about backless gowns are NOT at all tired.

And, we even had an anonymous poster point out the uneasiness Broom Hilda must be feeling in the office with the big windows! HA HA HA! But, wait, yesterday (and the day before), the windows were either painted over with black paint, or the scene took place at night! Today, the window is bright and we can see the whole city behind (no pun intended) Broomie! I think the artist must have changed this detail at the last minute to make the punchline more suprising and "funnier."

This is what dramatists like to call holding out information . . . it worked pretty well in Murder, She Wrote, when J.B. Fletcher springs the key piece of background evidence at the 55 minutes mark. It works less well in Broom Hilda.

What will happen in Friday's strip? Will she still be at the doctor's office? Will the gown issue be resolved? Well, sadly, I'll be on the road, on my way to a wedding, so I won't know. The suspense will be killing me, but I guess I'll find out on Sunday.

Happy weekend everyone!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

What's up, Doc?

You know, we haven't checked in with our good friend Broom Hilda lately. Shall we see what she's up to?

Oh, dear. It seems as though she's having to see a doctor. Let's hope that this is just a check up of some sort. Oh, the patient's gown! That's a great source of humor (and it's soooo original, too). Let's see, when do you suppose anyone's ever made a joke about those gowns? How about yesterday? In Broom Hilda, no less:

Of course, these are two completely different jokes: in bottom strip, the joke is about how bad those gowns are -- they are just like wearing all your clothes backwards! HA HA! Imagine that doc with his coat on backwards! HA HA HA!

But in the top strip, the joke's on Broom Hilda! The punchline is that the gown isn't a problem for her, but for the people who are forced to see her ass. Which I guess is true, but I am sure there are a lot of ugly people with gross rears, and I think they still have a legitimate gripe about those gowns. This doctor has a TERRIBLE bedside manner! And as far as ugly asses go, well, let's just say I'm not too keen on seeing him in a gown, either.

Why does she need to see a doctor anyway? Isn't she a witch? Can't she come up with some sort of potion or remedy to cure what ails her?

I can't wait to see what happens tomorrow! More gown jokes? Jokes about doctors playing golf? Instruments are too cold (Monday's joke had the nurse turning down the thermostat)? Doctor's handwriting is bad? Boy, the possibilities are endless! Can't wait!

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Mom Hair









Is it just me, or do they all look remarkably similar? You can tell these are the "modern" moms, because they are brunettes with sensible mom-hair. The "old fashioned" moms were blonde with a less sensible hair. To wit:

The blonde with the elaborate up-do, favored by 1940s pin-up idols like Ava Gardner:
She was so defined by her hair-do that it formed her name! (Notice none of the "modern" moms are called "brownie" or "blackie.")



The "I think she needs hot rollers and a LOT of hairspray to get it to do that:"

Who's more high maintenance, do you think, Blondie Bumstead or Alice Mitchell? It's a close call.





The blond with the less-labor-intensive Carol Bradyesque shag:

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

To Age or Not to Age: The Baby Blues Conundrum

I'm going to take a break from the typical "look at this ridiculous and unfunny strip" to discuss something I've been thinking about for awhile: why do some comic characters age, and others stay mired at the same age for year after year after year? Yes, I know the characters aren't real and the answer to this question is "the characters do what the creators want them to." OK, but why do some creators choose to age their characters, and others choose not to?

Is one better than the other? Well, in my opinion, all things being equal, the "aging" strips are better. Think of FBOFW v. Hi & Lois (542 U.S. 76). They are essentially the same strip: family with multiple kids, dogs, working dad, part-time working mother . . . I actually enjoy FBOFW. Are the characters sanctimonious at times? Sure. Is it ever laugh out loud funny? Very rarely. But the exact same can be said for H&L, and let's face it, ENOUGH ALREADY with the Chip is a sullen teenager, Dot and Ditto fight, Trixie takes a nap "jokes!" Meanwhile, the "aging" of FBOFW allows us to get to know a vast array of characters and watch them grow up. Do we care about them? Sure we do. Maybe our "care" is that Mike's downstairs neighbor beats him to a bloody pulp, but we do care. Do we care what happens to the Flagstons? Well, no -- because the same things happen to them over and over again.

Does that mean that the "aging" strips are the best way to go? Not by a long shot. I think the two funniest daily strips in the paper today are Dilbert and The Boondocks. In fact, The Boondocks would lose some of its allure if the characters DID age. Most of the humor is that little boys would say such outlandish, angry things (the same principle works for Southpark).

So, I guess the "to age or not to age" dilemma comes down to what the purpose of the strip is. Doonesbury is political, and its characters need to be involved with current issues (B.D.'s stint in Iraq comes to mind). Zits is about a teenage boy, and if Jeremy aged, Zits would no longer be Zits. Which brings me to the Baby Blues conundrum.

I am too lazy to look this up, but if I remember correctly, the strip started either shortly before or shortly after Zoe was born. As the strip's name suggests, it is about the joys and terrors of parenting a baby. Clueless parents of a newborn, as Kirkman and Scott (the strip's creators) know, are ripe for humor: the sleeplessness, the diaper changing, the spit up, the "how do I get her to stop crying?" . . . But as any parent will tell you, there is more to parenting than dealing with a newborn. Heck, there's more to parenting a BABY: there's first smile, crawling around and getting into stuff, babbling, first steps . . . See, Zoe HAD to age, if only to encompass the entirety of baby humor. Heck, if Zoe never aged, we wouldn't have Baby Blues, we'd have Marvin.

But if Zoe kept on aging, the stip wouldn't be Baby Blues anymore. In 10 years, it would be about a dopey dad, a mom with curly raven-black hair, and a 10 year old girl. In other words, it would be Sally Forth.

So, the McPhersons had Hammie! Now Baby Blues had even more "parents of young children" humor: sibling rivalry, the differences in boy and girl babies, the added difficulty of keeping after 2 kids. But, Hammie aged, too. He got to go on play dates, fall in love with dump trucks, and annoy Zoe. But he wasn't much of a baby anymore. They could keep aging, but by the time Zoe and Hammie got to be teenagers, you wouldn't have Baby Blues, you'd have Luann (and ANOTHER mom with the same hair-do also shared by the Zits mom. What's up with that? Note to self: Future posting idea). And doesn't Brad look like Hammie all grown up? (yes, in Luann the brother is older, I know).

So, the McPhersons had ANOTHER baby, Wren, thereby sticking with the "Baby" concept of the strip. So, what's next? Keep aging the kids? OK, so this is the new FBOFW? Will the name change? No more Baby Blues, it's now Adolescent Angsts? Or Teen Terrors?

Or do the McPhersons just keep having kids? Quite frankly, that's not in keeping with this strip's concept, either. The way it is now, the McPhersons are just everyday parents, dealing with life just like anybody would. If they keep having kids, they become "that whacked out couple down the street with 12 kids." (They know what causes that right?) Even worse, they could stop at 4 kids, and become the Family Circus. Horrors!

Do I have an answer? A preference? No, I do not. Do you?

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Man, thank GOD that Mr. Dithers isn't my boss!

Fathers and Sons

They really do monopolize the comics page, as this Boston Globe article makes clear. AWWWWW, but they really love each other.

More real posts to follow. The summer is busy.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Glorious Gil

More Gil . . . it's addictive. You may think that we in the "making fun of comics" business have it easy. No problem, right? Read the strips, find the lamest, most annoying, or most confusing one, type it up, and voila! Not so easy. Sometimes they are all just so middling, lame in a non-descript way, full of lame puns that don't even bear commenting upon. Then I discovered Gil Thorpe (I used to skip it in the N&O). Making fun of Gil is like taking candy from a baby.

Case in point: The strip above, which . . . is three unrelated panels? They're unrelated, right? Am I missing a connection?

For any of you true Gil aficianadoes out there (not you, Sara Sidle - it's a different Gil), you will discover that I have NO IDEA who these people are and how they relate to each other. I only read Gil for the possibility of mocking, not to retain and assimilate info. Moving on.

Panel 1: These folks think Von Haney is "smooth." Yeah, baby! Von, I'm guessing, is the guy who's been working at the local radio station. He's the Delilah of Thorpeland, playing dedications and spinning the tunes. His song choice here is "You Don't Know Me!" I actually LIKE that song! Hey, Von Haney IS smooth. Right on. You'll have to click on the strip to enlarge it. That way, you can see that the "woman" in this panel is absolutely bizarre. Her hair is the anti-Mandy do. Her glasses are . . . strange. Her lips are painfully swollen. She reminds me of the one Nazi in Raiders of the Lost Ark who grabbed that burning medallion and had the imprint burned onto his hand. I mean, this guy (on the far right in the photo). Oh yeah, and not to be outdone, the guy in this panel has a nice pencil thin mustache.

Oh yeah, what the heck is "Michael Buble?" Well, you can find out here. He's a real singer, a young looking guy. Gil Thorpe is making cultural references I am not hip enough to get. Pardon me while I slit my wrists.

OK, I'm back.

Panel 2: Does it have anything whatsoever to do with Panel 1? Is the guy on the ground Von Haney? If so, that means that this panel takes place much later than Panel 1 ('cause Von's not spinning the tunes here). Or, it means that Von pre-records his radio shows. So, I'm guessing it's not Von. Just two random dudes getting ready for "Hoop Camp." Uh, Hoop? Isn't the correct term "Hoops?" Whatever. It's just two dudes shooting baskets while lit with an angelic aura. They are lit with the heavenly glow of the glorious blessed. God is watching them. He knows how bumpy things really CAN get for "the big man."

Panel 3: Lest we get the idea that this strip is about Von and his righteous tunes, or the heavenly big man, we get Kelly and her colleague screening calls from Gary! I guess they work in PR or advertising or some other "hip" and "creative" field. You can tell this because they have a Picasso on the wall and a flat screen monitor on the desk. Is Kelly the "mystery woman" Von talks about in Panel 1? Is Gary one of the guys in Panel 2? How does he call while he's on the court? No, I guess he's not one of those guys.

Who are these people? How do these panels relate? If you are a cartoonist, can you just string together 3 panels and call that a "strip?" Or do you have to take the effort to make them relate? Because if you can just put random things together, that would make the whole field of creativity much easier!

Kelly Clarkson. Albert Pujols. Kyoto Protocol. HA HA HA!! I like this random trick!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Is her food choice the only thing Cathy fakes?

Cathy has what we in the field of "don't know much about psychiatry" (but dug when Harrison Ford and Kelly McGillis danced to that song in Witness) call "issues." Serious image and self esteem problems. I mean, God! How exhausting must it be to act like someone you aren't around the person you LIVE WITH! Shouldn't he love her for who she is, not the food she eats? Gah! (If this is how it starts, no wonder the state of comic marriages is so crappy.)

When we first date someone, do we put on certain airs, make an effort to dress up, look nice, and act witty? Yes. Can we keep that up 24/7 when we live with someone? I, for one, can't.

I first noticed this particular issue with Cathy when she wouldn't let Irving carry her across the threshold, for fear he'd find out how much she weighed. What's a time-honored tradition in the face of blinding insecurity? Besides, do they not have sex? Does he not see her naked? Did he not marry her anyway? Why would you marry someone you were so physcially uncomfortable with? So many questions, but moving on . . .

Now we find that she has been stocking her fridge with healthy, low fat, and low carb foods. Because she likes this stuff? NO. Because she wants to have a low fat, low carb diet (which are two different things, CATHY)? NO. Because she wants Irving to THINK she likes healthy eating! How lame is that? Why do young women have eating disorders? (ooops sorry. Off track . . . or am I?). How low must her self esteem be to hide her true eating habits from her HUSBAND? The man she plans to live the REST OF HER LIFE with? Not that this sort of thing doesn't happen, I just object to it being the punchline to a joke.

Or is this just me? Am I some sort of image-enhanced cyborg with a self esteem of steel? You wouldn't think so if you heard me babble my way through attempting to ask my boss for a raise, but . . . I like full-fat fresh mozzarella and other cheeses, so . . . I buy them from time to time. I do NOT like rice cakes, so don't buy them! The fact that Cathy censors her food purchases simply to create a facade for her husband is . . . sad.

Do men think that women who only eat low fat or low carb are sexy? (Cathy, Irving KNOWS WHAT YOU LOOK LIKE. Your food isn't fooling him).

Turns out, Irving is happy that Cathy is going to upgrade their fridge food. Which leads to another question. If Irving hated this stuff so much, why didn't he say something about it? Why didn't he do something about it (like buy something he liked at the grocery store)? Why is Cathy in charge of what's in the fridge? Don't they both live there?

These two deserve each other.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

What Not to Wear

Orders are pouring in for MenaceTM Fashion's tres chic house cleaning fashion line, but we've also heard from customers who feel the look may be "too casual" for less-intense household chores, like simple kitchen tasks. Listen to this testimonial from a satisfied, but "looking for more" customer:

"I love my MenaceTM Fashion Floor Mopping Cropped Pants, the 'MopCrop.' They do flatter my figure, and what's more important when cleaning your floor, I ask you? And, I've really taken to your hints on accesorizing through patterned kerchiefs. I've got a handful I alternate so that they compliment the various MenaceTM Fashion scoop neck T's I bought through your catalog. I have one concern, however. Cropped pants and scoop neck T's are fine for my nitty gritty household chores, but I feel they are too casual for the easier daily chores like cooking. I feel underdressed in my kitchen when wearing a T-shirt, as I'm sure you understand." -- Bree V., Wisteria Lane.

Well, we certainly do understand, Bree! And we're here to help. Again, Alice Mitchell displays the latest in our fashion line -- this for your daily kitchen tasks:

As Alice shows here, black ballet flats are suitable for any home chore occasion. They accentuate your legs, look fashionable, and as an added bonus, are also comfortable.

Of course, cropped pants (or, really, slacks of any kind) aren't appropriate for the more relaxed chores. A knee-length black skirt is the best choice. Black IS the new black, and the knee length is flattering, without being unseemly.

Also inappropriate for kitchen wear are T-shirts of any kind. Instead of a scoop neck T, Alice now wears a pretty and feminine flowery blouse. Note the accents on her apron -- they nicely compliment her shirt! (While this isn't strictly necessary for kitchen fashion, it's that special touch, ladies, that will get your husband's attention!). Finally, no kerchiefs or pony tails in the kitchen! Yes, you will want to keep your hair out of your eyes and out of the food you are preparing, but the best way to do that is through hot rollering your hair, and then spraying and setting your style. Aquanet works just fine.

And, here, Alice is really doing nothing more than wiping down her counter, so she needn't think of any ways to downplay her fashion.

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Grandma's back! And she has updated grandchildren rankings. Who knew Grandma had such an affinity for college football?

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Happy 4th!!!

And, as a reminder of our freedoms and the sacrifices of America's finest, what better way to celebrate than to check in on our troops: Looks like they are doing pretty well - happy at least. Does anyone "get" this one? And don't tell me that all the signs on the "Happy Highway" are puns on words associated with happiness -- I "get" that. My favorite sign is the one at the end: "HA," because that's one of my favorite ways to describe these comics -- HA HA.

Beetle is protrayed as a lazy guy, and, yes, a little happy-go-lucky, but I've never thought of him as being oddly euphoric. This comic is just bizarre -- it's like an Ecstasy trip. Get it? Ecstasy! That's another word associated with happiness, and it's the first one that comes to mind on seeing this strip. I need some strobe lights, neon-colored glow sticks, and some kickin' rave music.

I had less than 24 hours to absorb the trip down X Lane before Beetle Bailey hit me with an "X" of an altogether different sort:
That's right! The General and Mrs. Halftrack in a little X-rated action. Oh, boy. There is so much to disturb me here. DISCLAIMER: I realize it is perfectly healthy and normal for older adults to have active sex lives. I certainly hope that's the case when I'm the Halftracks' age. That said, I don't want to have to think about these two "fooling around." And since in my age group, at least, "fooling around" typically connotates the stuff you do BEFORE sex (i.e., foreplay), well . . . somehow that's even worse to contemplate.

Besides, I thought these two didn't even like each other. And poor Mrs. Halftrack, portrayed with a huge belly in Panel 1. And, was she just trying to get the General's "hopes" up? Hee hee, see "hopes" is a euphemism in that sentence, because she was trying to get more than his hopes up! And, OK, shoot me now, before I make any more lame puns about the Halftracks' sex life.

"Ready or not, here I come!" That's what HE said. Heh heh. Seriously, someone put me out of my misery.

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Hey, sometime in the last 24 hours, the site went over 10,000 hits! Thanks so much everyone for continuing to visit (unless there's just one of you visiting over and over again - that's weird. Get help now). But seriously, this has been a lot of fun to write, and I'm glad there are so many other folks out there who think the comics are as lame as I do.