Someplace in the World, the Sun Is Over the Yardarm
Jan. 6-12, 2003
NEW YORK TIMES CROSSWORD JUVENILE SNICKERS AND ONE INSIDE REFERENCE TO THE CITY PAPER WEBSITE DEP'T: SODOM, EPEES, HEAD, ASS, STAIN, EATUP, WEE, SORE, MANROOT, LEOTARD, WADS, NUTS, INYOURFACE, LAYER, CPO.
WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY: Blizzard conditions grip the east-central region of the Sun funny pages, as the storm system that started in Rex Morgan, M.D. and spread to Apartment 3-G begins lashing For Better or For Worse too.
EVERYONE'S A CRITIC DEP'T.: "This week [in Family Circus] little Billy gives his capsulized view of the comics." Hey, Bil Keane is bitin' Funny Paper's cheese! No fictitious seven-year-old is gonna knock us off, old man. Tuesday, the subject--"copied (not traced)"--is Garfield: "This is a cat whose main job is posing for pictures, dolls, and [string of scratched out childish misspellings] things than dangle in a car." Dag, Billy, that's cold. Maybe a fictitious seven-year-old is going to knock us off.
EVERYONE, AND WE MEAN EVERYONE, IS A CRITIC DEP'T.: Tuesday, while Billy Keane is knocking the stuffing out of Garfield, Dagwood and Blondie are trying to explain a gag from some unnamed comic strip to their son. "The gag is that the husband said a nice thing, but the wife misunderstood," Dag ventures. "That's not it . . . " Blondie counters. "It's showing how husbands hardly ever listen to their wives." "We don't get it either," Dagwood concludes. Ha! Not as easy as it looks, is it? Bow before Billy, Bumstead!
DENNIS THE MENACE: Sexual tension returns to the Mitchell household. Tuesday, Dennis brags about the fact that his mom's a hottie. Wednesday, a teacher ducks into the principal's office, pressing the back of her hand to her forehead. "So class just started 30 minutes ago and the Mitchell kid has already worn you to a frazzle?" the principal asks. Frazzle, schmazzle: Why is the young woman's shirttail dangling out of her skirt? Friday, the five-and-a-half-year-old conquistador prepares for his next triumph. "Don't get one of those sitters that cries a lot," he tells his mother as she picks up the phone. "They always make me feel guilty."
BLONDIE: Saturday, Dagwood turns to the lottery-ticket strategy to supplement his retirement portfolio.
JUMBLE: HE "RELISHED" IT, A "MOVING" SCENE," WENT TOE TO TOE, A "PANED" LOOK, IT'S DULL WORK, A GOOD "TURN."
THE BOONDOCKS: "We're still on Strom Thurmond?" Caesar asks Huey Monday. Caesar is the Reader Representative of The Boondocks. Huey is the uncaring editorialist. "Do you realize how scary it is that someone that old was a member of the most powerful legislative body in the world?" he demands. "They don't even let you drive cars when you're a hundred years old!!!" Isn't it a little late now to be complaining about Strom Thurmond? Like 30 or 40 years late? Plus, what's the big deal about having an impaired old man in the Senate? It's not like they have the power to make war or anything anymore.
Tuesday, Grandpa is sick of reruns like "trouble in Iraq" and "trouble in North Korea." Try and remember that sentiment the next time you go on vacation Mr. MacGruder. Wednesday, Grandpa declares that the name B2K "sounds like a value meal at Burger King." Yes! Burger King! Exactly! Friday, Donald Rumsfeld announces he's changing his name to "Donald 'Let's Rumble' Rumsfeld." It would be funnier if it weren't so true.
SHOE: Friday, Shoe makes a pass at a TV weather forecaster and is rebuffed by the expected metaphor. Saturday, Cassatt & Brookens dig up the mummified corpse of the old gag about dead people voting in Chicago and try to pass it off as new material. Wow, there's like three layers of undeadness to that one, what with this being the late Jeff MacNelly's comic strip.
B.C.: Monday, Johnny Hart makes a Jerry Springer joke. So we're definitely back in prehistory, then. Tuesday, manning the "Show Me" joke-generating rock, Curls receives the input "a politician who's kissed a thousand babies." "And I'll show you a politician whose breath smells like strained carrots," he replies. How about "I'll show you a politician with stank bref?" Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday, the automatic-joke-generating performances are supplied by the pedal-operated "You Know" rock, the "was really smart" / "How smart was he?" routine, and "Wiley's Dictionary" respectively. Number of funny gags thus generated: zero!
FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE: Tuesday, Liz and friends talk about their nicknames. "Spud" is short for "Stéphane Pierre Ulrique DuPuis."* "Weazel" used to wheeze with asthma. "Opal? What did you get called?" "The family jewel." Lynn Johnston works blue!
When the highway gets closed by the blizzard, the kids decide to stop for the night. Saturday, as Elly frets about Liz's whereabouts, Lynn Johnston resorts to a Phantom-style expository text box, with a Dick Tracy-style arrow attached to it: "Meanwhile, Elizabeth and friends are holed up in a Huntsville motel." For better!
(*Stéphane! Pierre! Ulrique! DuPuis! And the only thing the other kids could make fun of was the acronym? Only aux Canada, folks. Only aux Canada.)
ZIPPY: Friday, Zippy gets giggles out of the broken-Engrish lyrics to the Kikkoman jingle. Bill Griffith's Japanese is flawlesss, we're sure. "Fried egg . . . soy sauce is best." Half of Funny Paper assures the other half of the Funny Paper that this is absolutely true. Even more so for scrambled.
THE COLL-EGG-TABLE EGGERS FAMILY: Caroline Arnold, age 8, of Ellicott City compresses an entire narrative into "Eggs-pensive new clothes," as her anthromorphic egg throws up its arms and cries "Whoops!," while a helpful arrow shows a rip in the side of its striped duds. Lori Lee Landi resorts to multiple arrows to illustrate the Eggs-ample: "Egg-shell." As far as Funny Paper can tell, the arrows are just indicating the perimeter of the anthropomorphic egg. Where's the pun? It's just an eggshell! Hey, Lori Lee--Caroline Arnold is bitin' your cheese! Asterisk Features is gonna give your job to an eight-year-old!
IN THEIR OWN WORDS: Gloria Steinem. Thanks to the combined effects of age and Art by Vernon Carne, the erstwhile Playboy Bunny looks like Hugh Hefner in a wig.
MARK TRAIL: Trusted with the care of the wild pet deer, incompetent child Rusty immediately leaves its pen unfastened so it can escape. A squirrel watches, dumbfounded, as the deer makes its break for the woods. Even the squirrels have contempt for Rusty's mental abilities.
Sunday's featured natural phenomenon: still more about space weather, with special attention to the "beautiful and often eerie" aurora borealis. "Did you know," Rusty says, apropos of nothing, "that if the energy of the sun was gathered in for one second*, it would provide the United States with enough energy for the next nine million years?"** Nice info-nugget, brainiac. Is that assuming the U.S. population holds steady for the next nine million years, Rusty, or are you factoring in growth on the demand side? Nine million years. Nine million years from now, Rusty's great-to-the-Nth-grandchildren will be slaves to a race of ten-foot-high talking squirrels.
(* "If all the neurons in your brain were laid end to end," Funny Paper's college roommate used to say, "you would die instantly.")
(** Rusty's teachers are too busy teaching energy-industry propaganda to waste time on the niceties of the subjunctive.)
CATHY: Cathy's coworkers demonstrate that men are too arrogant to read the manuals to learn how to operate their electronic doodads.
SALLY FORTH: Sally's boss demonstrates that men are too arrogant to see a doctor when they feel chronic stomach pain.
HERB & JAMAAL: A customer compares a recent toothache to his ex-girlfriend. "After it was gone, I missed having the tooth . . . but I felt much better." Funny Paper was going to make some sort of colonoscopy joke here, but has thought better of it. Half of Funny Paper is avoiding colonoscopy references (and whatever's wrong with Sally Forth's boss) till the test results are in. Ouch.
NON SEQUITUR: Wednesday, a man sits at a desk with boxes labeled "Like, in, dude" and "So, like, out, man." "Frank's quest for job security in a youth culture continues," says the caption. Frank's and Wiley's both, huh, dude? Thursday, a man on a desert island gets messages in bottles addressed to "occupant." Does anybody get mail addressed to "occupant" anymore? Send us some, attention: Occupant, dude.
THE PHANTOM: Thanks to slow service in the airport coffee shop, the mystery airplane's hidden sabotage device kicks in before the flight reaches Ivory Lana. Meanwhile, on the ground in the Deep Woods on Thursday, Guran fumes at the sight of the Massa Phantom currying his own horse. "That is a Bandar task!" the chubby house-Bandar grumps. Saturday, the sabotage device--which seems not to be a bomb after all--cuts off the fuel. Check in with Rhodian air-traffic controllers? "Delay that! Fuel pressure's dropping fast!" "Delay that"? How 'bout "Belay that"?
Sunday, as night falls outside the Temple of Anuga, the Phantom power naps.
MOMMA: Jackpot! Three splash panels of Francis in the same week. Monday, Francis sprawls in bed, surrounded by empties and rubbish, with headphones on. "It's not as bad as it looks, Momma," he says. "I'm listening to Mozart." Thursday, Francis repeats the pose sans headphones, telling Momma he's assuming a "fallback position." Friday, Francis gets out of bed and tries his hand at tree-sitting: "No, this tree isn't threatened, Momma, but I thought you'd be proud to see my name in the paper."
MARY WORTH: Silas Smedlap hits the sauce. "Someplace in the world, the sun is over the yardarm," he declares Tuesday, hoisting the bottle. Why's he lapping the hard stuff? He picked up the "Boston paper"--whether it's the Herald or the Globe we can't quite tell--and found an ad for "L'Etoile in Chatham" . . . "formerly Smitty's Chop House." The solution, the bitter ex-restaurateur declares, is for him to sue his daughter Connie.
APARTMENT 3-G: Tuesday, Margo demonstrates meteorological ignorance by declaring that "it's hailing snowballs." On Wednesday, "MEANWHILE. . . " Lu Ann trudges on through the blizzard. "I can't feel my toes!" she thinks. Saturday, she's still struggling. "I've been walking in circles," she thinks. What, the wind's blowing so hard it bent the grid of Manhattan?
REX MORGAN, M.D.: Difficulty piles up faster than the white stuff, as the snowbound and deathly ill John corroborates the Morgans' suspicion he's got rabbit fever. "The television weatherman says the weather is worsening," Sasha the faithful cabby announces Sunday. Two panels later, the scene goes black. "What happened?" someone says. "I believe the power has gone off!"
DOONESBURY: Trudeau warms up the "Duke for President" shtick. With all that dough he spent on the Web site, who can blame him?
CURTIS: Tuesday, Ray Billingsley feints toward doing a supernatural-curse plot line, then drops it. Thanks, Ray.
HAL FOSTER'S PRINCE VALIANT: As Justinian's forces close in on the secret caves of Fishburg, with an earthquake warming up for good measure, Aleta offers citizenship and sanctuary in the Misty Isles to the Ichthyopolitans. Icthyopolites. Icthyopoles. Icthyopolanders. To the people of the hidden city of Ichthyopolis who want to get the hell outta Dodge.
THE MIDDLETONS: Wednesday, Wendie makes a head-only snowman. "He's standing in really deep snow!" she says happily. The original gag was in Peanuts, back when Charlie Brown still had a wiseass streak. His snowman was standing in a hole. And it was one of a whole series of conceptual snowmen gags, variations on a theme by the mighty Schulz.
CLASSIC PEANUTS: Thursday, Lucy beats Dr. Phil to the Punch by what, 30 years? "YOU'VE GOT TO GET RID OF THOSE FAILINGS! IT'S THOSE FAILINGS THAT ARE HOLDING YOU BACK! ITS. . ."
LUANN: Mrs. Horner trains Luann in the ways of love. Step one: Let someone else eat the last ginger snap.
MOTHER GOOSE & GRIMM: "Mom signed me back up with that snooty dog-walking group." Mike Peters signed back up with the same snooty-dog-walking-group gags.
ZIGGY: Thursday, Tom & Tom II mint one destined for office corkboards and home refrigerators everywhere. "I'm down to one cup of coffee per day!" Zig says, brandishing a mug as big as his body with a trembling hand. This gag relies on the reader knowing that Tom & Tom II never use perspective, so we understand that the mug is a giant mug rather than simply a normal-sized mug thrust into the foreground.
GASOLINE ALLEY: Walt wanders off again and gets lost. Saturday, it looks like he's going to be hit by a large truck. Oh pleasepleaseplease.
JUMP START: Charlene takes a life drawing class with "live models." Male models. Marcy is so appalled, she can't stop staring at the middle of the page. Clarence is appalled too.
MARMADUKE: Saturday, Marmaduke sticks his snout inside a neighbor's refrigerator.
POETS: A new strip in the Sunday color supplement important enough to cause the downsizing of Sally Forth, The Phantom, and Hal Foster's Prince Valiant.
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