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Funny Paper

A Pocketful of Meatballs

Dec. 8-14, 2003

By Scocca & MacLeod | Posted 12/17/2003

REPORT FROM THE FUNNY PAPER FOREIGN BUREAU DEP'T.: Sunday, lounging in a Superior Harbour View room at the InterContinental in Kowloon, half of Funny Paper opened the South China Sunday Morning Post to see Calvin and Hobbes on the front of the color supplement, above the fold, with something called Pooch Cafe below. Inside were Classic Peanuts, Garfield, B.C. , Adam@home, and . . . Classic Rugrats. Classic whaaaat?!? On behalf of the United States of America, Funny Paper would like to apologize to Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

But perhaps the best feature of the supplement is the last page, on which the Hong Kong papers--displaying the same refreshingly uninhibited attitude toward intellectual property as the DVDs-for-$2 shops further up the peninsula--combine elements of Uncle Art's Funland, Slylock Fox, and stuff we can't even identify into an unbylined melange of kid-entertaiment titled Fun time. Fun time indeed.

NEW YORK TIMES CROSSWORD SNICKERS DEP'T.: ANAS, SEMINAL, HMOS, BONO, STOOL, EPEES, WEED, HASH, ASSAY, LIMP, PEENS, PENU, SLIT, BRA, JAILBAIT, AMYGRANT, INRI.

NEW YORK TIMES CROSSWORD OREO WATCH DEP'T.: Wednesday, 62 Across: "Longtime Oreo competitor." HYDROX! Saturday, 57 Down: "Modern ice cream flavor."

JUMP START: Joe deals with the consequences of having extremely far-from-the-action NBA season tickets. Thursday, as he and Marcy try to figure out which of the specks on the court is Allen Iverson, Tupac and Elvis pop up in the row behind them.

LUANN: After a few more days of cell-phone hijinks, Delta confesses to hunky Caribbean-American substitute teacher Mr. Laurent that she has a crush on him. She renounces the age-inappropriate desire, but not before Greg Evans gets to draw a fantasy-sequence panel of the student planting a deep kiss on the teacher. Sunday, in still more April-December action Luann decides she wants to sit on Santa's lap.

BEETLE BAILEY: Otto returns and carries the strip into disturbing and previously unexplored territory on Thursday: To illustrate Otto's anxieties about feline dominance, Greg + Mort Walker abandon the strip's essential visual vocabulary and paste in a giant clip-art stock engraving of a cat's head, looming over the barracks, its outline vibrating against the Ben Day-dot night sky.

APARTMENT 3-G: Monday, Margo camps out under the mistletoe at the building's holiday party. Thurssday, the Professor tells the gals he took up jogging so that he can someday chase down and capture their stalker. "They think I'm joking . . . " he muses. "I'm not . . . " Friday, the newly fitness-enhanced Prof. starts sweating and trembling as he hefts a computer monitor. Saturday, Margo explains that the Professor is returning her old computer to her, and offers it to cleaning lady Sara a hand-me-down. "No, thank you, Margo," the enigmatic housekeeper replies, " . . . I have a G4 laptop." Sunday, a "THUMP CRASH!" brings Margo out of the apartment to find the Professor slumped in the hallway, next to the broken remains of the monitor, clutching the right side of his chest. "Professor!" she cries. "What's wrong?!" He was too cheap to spring for a flat-panel, that's what's wrong.

MARY WORTH: Beverly "Don't Call Me Sills" Hills warns Mary that her brother Woody "has a notoriously short fuse." To illustrate her point, out on the parking lot, Woody grabs preteen lothario/saboteur Brint Prescott roughly by the arm and compares the boy's hand to the print on the door panel of his tire-flattened car. Satisfied with the match, Woody turns his attention to the boy's bicycle. "Unfortunately for you, I believe in the 'eye for an eye' code of justice!" he announces.

"I'm warning you," the boy protests. ". . . Touch my bike and my mom will tell the police!"

"Don't threaten me, you miserable brat!" Woody counters. "I wouldn't soil my hands by 'touching' your precious bike!" With that, he delivers a vicious kick to the bike, then proceeds to mangle the wheels by stomping on the spokes--using his shoes all the while, never his bare hands. That'll teach you to mess with an assistant professor of English and a master ironist, you impertinent scamp! Woody's not much of a legal expert, though--under the 'eye for an eye' code, Brint should be now be allowed to answer the overkill by taking a cutting torch to the rims of the Woodymobile.

FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE: Internet-abusing problem employee Kortney manipulates Elly into not firing her. Funny Paper breathes a sigh of relief. For better!

DOONESBURY: Garry Trudeau depicts the Commander in Chief traveling to Iraq inside a hatbox and unaware of his actual destination. Good one! That's also how Funny Paper pictures him traveling to the bunker on Sept. 11, 2001. Wednesday, hovering over a prop turkey platter, the Commander in Chief sends his regards to "our soldiers in . .. in . . . um . . . that other 9/11 place!" That's not the president talking; that's the public.

REX MORGAN, M.D.: Rex and June hash over some more of the sad back story of Elwood and Wanda: the feuding, bankrupt senior citizens have an estranged 45-year-old son; Elwood lost "over a half-million dollars in one day" playing the tech stocks. Saturday, the annoying girl who just nagged Elwood about eating a hot dog shows up on TV as the subject of an Amber Alert--but Elwood is in the kitchen, messing with the salt shaker, and doesn't see it. Drama! Tension!

FAMILY CIRCUS: "In case God is tired of the same old prayers," a kneeling Jeffy announces Monday, "I recited Humpty Dumpty for him." Compare the results for a while, Jeffy, and you might be the first in your family to figure something out.

SALLY FORTH: Sally hits Ralph with the news of her new job opportunity, then shakes him down for a counteroffer. Demand No. 1: a bunch of blather about respect and other unenforceable concessions. Demands No. 2 and 3: an actual office and two more weeks' vacation. Done! That's way more than what the half of Funny Paper that even got a performance review succeeded in getting.

GASOLINE ALLEY: Newlyweds Rover and Hoogy find themselves short on Lebensraum. Rover's roommate Tyrone refuses to surrender his bed so that the happy couple can sleep '60s-sitcom style.

WILLY 'N ETHEL: Saturday, Willy and Ethel go out to eat. "Would you like a pocketful of meatballs for the ride home?" the waiter asks. "Do you still wanna know why that's my favorite restaurant?" Willy asks, munching on an after-dinner meatball as they walk to the car.

B.C.: Monday, Grog drops a rock on a snake, then draws a face on resulting boulder-and-snake composition. "Grog make rockrat," he declares proudly. Rockrat? Johnny Hart make no sense. Grog write script this week? Wednesday, an amorous tumbleweed chases after Grog, as a clam announces "Tumbleweeds got mating seasons!" Maybe Johnny drinking grog?

JUMBLE: A "SWAT" TEAM, GIVE HIM A "GAG", FLOATED "ALONE", "SLEPT" ON IT, BEAR TO BARE, "HANG" OUT.

KUDZU: The Rev. Will B. Dunn brings Alabama Judge Roy Moore's Ten Commandments monument to Bypass, so that humorless P.C. straw-womyn Ida Mae Wombat can fulminate against the Decalogue. They're not in a courthouse anymore, but, of course, that's not what the godless hated about them in the first place. Highlights of Doug Marlette's latest timely and trenchant contribution to the Kulturkampf: "Crossing state lines for moral purposes! . . . . They discriminate against sin! . . . I find the commandments extremely inhibiting! . . . . The heathen have rights too, y'know!" Kudzu has now sunk lower than Mallard Fillmore. At least the right-wing duck sometimes hammers away at more than one gag per week.

MARK TRAIL: Trail goes to lobby overprotective and superrich mother Mrs. Lane to allow her son Joey to go camping. "Joey did mention your name . . . " she says Tuesday, "you're some sort of a writer!" The meeting is getting nowhere, till on Thursday, Mrs. Lane announces the arrival of "an important guest." "Mark, what a pleasant surprise . . . " says the newcomer. "How are you, old friend?" "Fine, Senator . . . " Trail says. "It's good to see you again!" The two men exchange pleasantries about the joy of fishing and being in the Great American Out-of-Doors. Saturday, Mark bids the statesman goodbye, and a 2,000-foot-tall talking squirrel--the most unambiguous talking-animal panel yet from the pen of Jack Elrod--thunders a goodbye to Mrs. Lane on Trail's behalf. "Mr. Trail," she says, "please wait!"

Sunday's featured natural phenomenon: the dread waterspout. "A waterspout associated with Tropical Storm Mitch in November 1998 produced a tornado that ravished the upper Florida Keys with 113-157 mph winds, injuring 20 people and causing $25 million in damage." Ravished, eh? "The best escape route is to move at a 80-degree angle away from the apparent motion." Sounds like that could heighten the ravishing.

THE PHANTOM: Prince Condor orders the grasslands set ablaze to drive the Phantom into the open. "He's prepared to sacrifice all wildlife on this island, just to trap me!" the Ghost Who Has Apparently Underestimated the Lunacy of His Foe thinks on Wednesday. So the ever-resourceful Phantom lies down underwater, breathing smoke and carbon monoxide through a handy hollow reed, till the wind shifts and the fire heads back toward the Prince's palace.

Sunday, the Phantom lurks here and there, watching the bad guys mistreat their prisoners.

MARMADUKE: Thursday, Marmaduke slips his bone into the sleeping Phil's mouth.

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Dec. 22-28, 2003

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