It's Everything You Wanted to Know About Phobias. . . but Was Afraid to Ask
Nov. 21-Dec. 1, 2002
Tuesday and Wednesday, the preparations keep coming. Snuffy wins the turkey raffle but loses the dinner, as he tells Silas he'll make good on the money he borrowed to get the ticket. "Anyone I'm in debt to is invited to dinner!!" he declares. "See ya Thursday, Snuffy!!" replies the entire male population of Hootin' Holler, as one. Better hurry out and steal some more poultry, Mr. Smif! The next day, the saga continues, as Snuffy is mystified by Loweezy's claim that the "store bought" turkey will "tell me when it's done!!" Funny Paper is not thankful to see the relapse into day-to-day continuity in the hill country.
Meanwhile Curtis keeps dreading his cousins, then shows why he's not a character in The Boondocks as he watches a TV special about the Pilgrims and Indians with his brother: "It was th' start of a wonderful tradition for everyone!" Curtis declares. "What were the black folk doing?" Barry asks. Don't ask Curtis, kid. Ask Huey. In Jump Start, Clayton rents a whole town to hold his progeny, and Dot brings in caterers to handle the big meal. In The Middletons, Bumper the dog has a nightmare about being a turkey on a platter, and Midge sets up a body-cavity-search joke by complaining, "I hate taking out the turkey neck!" Just leave it in, Midge, along with the giblet bag, like half of Funny Paper's mom used to. The not-so-thirsty Mr. Thurston tells Hi that it can't be Thanksgiving yet, because Hi & Lois' jack-o-lanterns "haven't finished decomposing yet!" Which one of these guys is the slovenly and irresponsible neighbor, again? Maybe Hi's been hitting the sauce, huh? Hi? Hi and tight, more like. B.C. does shtick with turkeys hiding in an apple tree, utterly defying Funny Paper's comprehension, then plays Dagos and Injuns as ethnic stereotypes Conahonty and Anno Domini palaver about their feast preparations ("Conahonty catch big turkey . . . " "Anno catch big pepperoni"). And Dennis the Menace cracks wise at the expense of a deceased bird: "Isn't it too late to be takin' his temperature?"
EVEN MORE PREMATURE PRE-HOLIDAY TENSION DEP'T.: While everyone else is digging the gizzards out of their Butterballs, Joel and Rufus in Gasoline Alley are receiving and accepting an invitation from Santa Claus for them to join him at the North Pole. By Saturday, they're flying off in a sleigh drawn by four reindeer. A visit from Dick Tracy was one thing. A visit to St. Nicholas is quite another. What did you put in th' jug, Joel?
THANK YOU VERY, VERY, VERY MUCH DEP'T.: Nobody in Flatland eats as well on the holiday as Funny Paper did. Half of Funny Paper feasted on turkey that had been deboned in strategic locations, then had its bones replaced with Italian sausages. There's no turkey like the turkey that comes from the pig! The other half of Funny Paper partook in turkey deep-fried in peanut oil. Only took an hour, and we had to do it outside because of the propane-cooker setup--which allowed us easy access to the beer cooler. Thish turkey ish delishush!
In our grease-spattered Today section, the Circus Family opens its house to a multitude for the feast. Thel's form-fitting apron ("Mommy! That's a pretty bib you're wearin'!") is not enough to keep Bil from chatting up a willowy blonde over cocktails in the living room. Leroy Lockhorn asks if it's his job to saw the turkey. Dennis the Menace gives thanks that "the Pilgrims didn't have liver an' onions." Wiley's Dictionary in B.C. makes the case for Thanksgiving as a gross breach of the First Amendment: "Thanksgiving Day: A mandatory reminder that our freedoms have a source--lest we forget." Wendie and Wilson in The Middletons watch the Macy's parade. The Flagston menfolk in Hi & Lois hunker down in front of the TV to watch the big game. "Indians 21, Pilgrims 14," Hi reports. Indians leading? Bah! Funny Paper only recalls the Indians winning one versus the colonists, and that was thanks to those treacherous Canadians. Dagwood refers to Mr. Dithers as "the turkey," to Blondie's confusion. She's confused because you can't possibly be trying to pass that off as a gag, Bumstead. Huey tries to give anti-grace, with "a short list of 1,543 things I am not thankful for," but Grandpa cuts him off. Cathy's mother serves too much pie. Curtis undermines Ray Billingsley's holiday homilies by grabbing a drumstick in each fist before grace is said.
Feast-themed splash panels are on the menu in Sally Forth, Barney Google & Snuffy Smith, and Jump Start. Gasoline Alley does a historic Mayflower panel: "The Pilgrims sailed across the ocean -- Rocking with a rolling motion!" says the text. "Thanksgiving thoughts from Gasoline Alley." Rocking with a rolling motion, indeed--a tiny Pilgrim appears to leaning over the starboard bow to vomit his or her hardtack, as seagulls swoop in to eat the leavings. Yum.
Minimum holiday effort comes from Mary Worth, where "John and Joe" simply tack on a Happy Thanksgiving scroll in the lower corner of the regularly-scheduled programming.
In Garfield, the cat sprawls on his back while Jon reads the story of a cat who "ate and ate and ate." Every day is Thanksgiving for Garfield.
And For Better or For Worse ignores the holiday altogether. "Cuz Canada has its own separate-but-equal metric Thanksgiving on some other day. Hoity-toity Canadians. Hey, Lynn Johnston, howsabout being thankful that you've got 285,000,000 potential readers south of your border, eh? And that we're not holding that whole Schenectady thing against you anymore.
SLOPPY SECONDS DEP'T.: Friday, Dennis the Menace opens the refrigerator and auctions off a turkey leg to the neighborhood kids. The Middletons sit on the couch clutching their guts and craving pie. Crunchy in Jump Start carps about having had his relations over. The twins in Hi & Lois bicker about which one is more thankful. Curtis gives Chutney the blow-by-blow of his Thanksgiving meal. Snuffy Smith, still Mr. Continuing Story Line, sticks the womenfolk with the dirty dishes. And Francesco Marciuliano keeps reheating installments of "Sally Forth's Guide to the Perfect Thanksgiving" clear through Saturday.
SUN CROSSWORD IMMATURE SNICKERS DEP'T: LOGOFF, ERECT, MEAT, MATE, EPEES, TEEPEE, PEEWEE, TRIM, HOE, GROTTO, POSSE, YEAST, ASS, TIACARRERE.
NEW YORK TIMES CROSSWORD IMMATURE SNICKERS DEP'T: CHINUP, DIPSTICK, PERKY, ODOR, BURNRUBBER, BONE, STUDIOUSPOKER, REAR, DEBUSSY. Oh, and hey: FENGSHUI. How about that, Bob Levey? What's this arcane feng shui doing in the Paper of Record? Funny Paper thinks the ch'i might flow better if you put the NYT X-word up your ass, you senile buffoon. That's some real good feng shui right there.
WILLY 'N ETHEL: When Willy and Ethel do stray into Lockhorns territory, at least they do it with abandon. "Do you ever think about that guy you were going to marry before we met?" Willy asks in bed on Thursday. "Last I heard, he moved out of town," Ethel says. "No forwarding address . . . and the detectives were just wasting my money on blind alleys . . . I run an ad now and then in the personals, but that's about it . . . Why do you ask?"
CLASSIC PEANUTS: "Woodstock feels that eating bread crumbs is kind of degrading." Snoopy translates from bird-squawk Tuesday.
JUMP START: "Your dad has bounced back from heart surgery . . ." Marcy tells Joe on Monday in the enumerate-your-blessings strip. "My mother is here for the first time in years . . . Our kids are happy and healthy." "And my team is nine and two!" a grinning Joe thinks to himself. Nine and two? According to our grease-spattered Thanksgiving-morning sports page, that would have to mean Joe's a Tampa Bay Bucs fan.
JUMBLE: HER TRUE COLORS, BORING HOSTS, TURNED TO JELLY, A "FAT" CHANCE, OUT OF THE PICTURE, "SOLE" MATES.
THE PHANTOM: The latter-day Crusaders speed onto their getaway cargo plane and take off, with the Phantom hidden aboard. "Arsenault was a formidable foe on the ground," thinks the Ghost Who Has Previously Pulled This Hide-Out-and-Overpower-the-Crew-One-by-One Routine on a Nuclear Sub, a Power Yacht, an Amphibious Jet, and Probably a Trolley Car and an Amphibious "Duck Tour" Vehicle Somewhere in There Too. "But he's about to get a lesson in why sky marshals don't carry broadswords." It ain't because the blade would slice through the bulkhead and depressurize the cabin, is it? Hardly seems likely.
Sunday, the Phantom does not overpower the crew of the getaway boat of "Raz" Rakowski. The storm and the rocks do the overpowering, thank you very much: "Head back for the coast! This boat is not built to ride out a storm like this!" "No! I have an appointment at sea, and I intend to keep it!" "Help!" "Land ahead!" "Helm doesn't work!" CRRUNCH.
BLONDIE: Monday, Dagwood creates a sandwich--a "Dagwood" if you will--so perfect even he cannot destroy it. "Would DaVinci have eaten the Last Supper?" he asks Blondie, wounded by the suggestion. Funny Paper postulates thus: If Leonardo the Vinci created the Last Supper out of say, butter, or sandwich materials, rather than paint and wet plaster, then yeah, he woulda ate it. Or at least got some of the scraps after those Medicis had their fill.
DILBERT: Wally takes center stage. Monday and Tuesday, he abuses his headphones in the workplace. Friday, he shows up with a doctor-supplied funnel collar around his head. "This is a guess," Dilbert says Saturday, "but I think your doctor is a vet." "I don't know about his military service," Wally says. "I just know he has great cookies. And I like it when he rubs my belly." "I know something you don't know," Dilbert says. Scott Adams: master of the castration joke.
THE LOCKHORNS: Monday, Hoest & Reiner serve up a cold helping of vintage suburban crypto-servant victual comedy. "Dinner will be late, Leroy,: Loretta says. "The pizza delivery car broke down.: This was funny circa 1974. Tuesday, the discord moves from the table to the bedroom. "Dreaming about stewardesses,: Loretta snaps at a marriage-counseling session, "is not having flying dreams." Zounds. Are marriage counselors supposed to be digging that deep?
B.C.: Johnny Hart outdoes Hoest & Reiner on the vintage-humor tip. "I wonder what would have happened if Alan Shepard had whiffed that golf ball on the moon," Peter says Monday. He's been wondering it for thirty-one years! That may be the longest staircase in the history of staircase wit.
HAL FOSTER'S PRINCE VALIANT: Fishburg prepares to repel the invaders, despite the dissent of fifth-columnist Faustus, loser of the last Icthyopolitan election. "He lost--narrowly--and angrily vowed to persist. Now a foreign fleet has arrived, and Faustus sees an opportunity." Christ, everybody's beating up on Al Gore now. Oops. Even Funny Paper. Sorry, Al. Oh, wait. This allegory is about the guy who lost the vote, and who is now waxing opportunistic in the name of homeland security. Maybe it's pointed at George, after all.
ZIPPY: Monday, Griffy archives all his bellyaching. "Putting all my standard diatribes into a searchable database was a great idea!" he says. "Now you can rant by number!" says his pinheaded research assistant. Didn't he do this before? What's the numerical code for the strip about putting his diatribes into numerical code? And why stop with the rants? Conversations with roadside sculpture: No. 27! Thinly fictionalized rights negotiations with Hollywood producers: No. 38!
FAMILY CIRCLE: Monday, Bil Keane wrings laffs from the endless chain of domestic violence. "Dolly!" Thel exclaims. "Did you hit your brother again?" "I'm sorry," Dolly says, clutching her brow. "I'm tryin' hard to quit." Apologizing doesn't get it, Dolly. You have to leave. You're an enabler, Keane. Tuesday, Bil Keane wrings laffs from the crime of vandalism, as Billy warns a graffiti-scribbling P.J., "They're gonna recognize your handwriting." Wednesday, Dolly huffs the fumes from a candle.
HERB & JAMAAL: Ernie the cabbie indulges in crude vaginal symbolism Thursday. "Sometimes I wonder if Yolanda and I are fated for each other," Jamaal says. "If someone beats you to the last doughnut in the box . . . " the hack says, "then it wasn't meant to be your doughnut."
REX MORGAN, M.D.: Rex is bumming about the collapse of our health care system. Eventually, no one will be able to afford a self-absorbed M.D. who's so tired from boning his wife at a convention and eating high on the hog that he fails to notice when one of his friends is gravely ill. Wenesday, Rex is too weary to dance with the missus because he's got a big speech coming up tomorrow. Thursday, the ailing John Woods sends Rex a missive. "I was just about to send an envelope to your room," says the man at the hotel desk. "Mr. John Woods e-mailed this down to us and we printed it! There's a message to you inside the envelope!" Wow--an entire day spent navigating the buffers in the message-giving process. Saturday, Woods goes straight to the phone to reach the doctor, with the ringing actually making the handset dance in the cradle. "Rex . . ." he says in shaky death's-door lettering, "I don't know what's wrong!" Sunday, Rex tears off his bathrobe and starts rushing to the rescue. "I knew this was more than a cold!" he exclaims.
MARK TRAIL: Are you ready for some backstory? Neighbor lady Judy comes to visit Cherry and to explain who she is: "We've been good friends since Tom and I moved into this area . . . It's been over three years now." A hawk swoops down to kill a chipmunk. "I have no right to get you involved in my problems, but I don't know where to turn!" What problems? Who knows? Thursday, a yawning Rusty breaks in on their conversation. Friday, Judy dodges from any further exposition. "I apologize again, Cherry. I was wrong to come here." "Judy, if it's all right, I'll come visit with you tomorrow!" Cherry offers. "That will be fine," Judy says. "I don't think Tom will be home until late!" Saturday, Doc and Rusty try to debrief Cherry. "She had something she wanted to tell me," Cherry says, "but she never got around to it . . . Whatever it was, she was embarrassed about telling me!" Never got around to it for a whole week! Jack Elrod: Master of Suspense.
Sunday's featured natural phenomenon: the dangerous crepuscular hours. "Sunup and sundown are the "rush hours' in the world of nature . . . when both night- and day-active animals are on the move . . . . For their own safety, all must stay alert and move cautiously in the dim light." Once again, Jack Elrod can't draw a cat. The final panel, which is supposed to portray the danger of wild predators to household pets, shows what looks like a coyote chasing some mutant creature that looks a cross between a rabbit and a fox.
APARTMENT 3-G: FBI Pete gives Lu Ann a briefing book about phobias. "It's everything you wanted to know about phobias . . . " FBI Pete says. " . . . But was afraid to ask," Lu Ann replies, taking the baton at the expense of both overall syntax and accurate allusion. "Let me know if I can help," FBI Pete says. Help us, FBI Pete! Funny Paper has an obsessive-compulsive problem with grammar. Tuesday, Lu Ann finally figures out that she has agoraphobia. Thursday, Margo finds FBI Pete's written offer of help to her roommate, and takes it as evidence they're sneaking around. Friday and Saturday, Lu Ann resolves to walk outside far enough to put a letter in the mailbox. "I can do this," she tells herself. "I'm not going far . .. only down the steps and down the block . . . to this mailbox . . . I did it . . . " Lu Ann makes it to the mailbox! Drama! Tension! ONLY in the funny papers could you see this!
MARY WORTH: Monday, Mary cherishes the memory of the trouble Silas Smedlap stirred up the night before. "For a while I felt like a teenage prom queen with two members of the football team fighting for the last dance." Yeah, right, Mary. They were fighting for the last dance, you dirrrty girl. Sunday, the real prom queen, Joy Tully, takes Mary aside. "Could I have lunch with you tomorrow? . . . . Alone! . . . . . It's very important!"
LUANN: Mrs. Horner keeps trying to reintegrate all of Luann's personalities. "The Beatles said: 'The love you take is equal to the love you make,'" the old lady says Tuesday. "You know Beatles lyrics?" Luann replies. Why is Luann stunned? Is she supposed to think knowing Beatles lyrics is somehow young and with-it? Has Greg Evans seen Paul lately? Actually, saggy old Mrs. Horner looks a lot like Paul, now that we think about it. Wednesday, O.G. Original Gunther drops in, bearing pumpkin pie. Luann resolves to be nice.
FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE: Mr. B, the bunny rabbit, continues to nibble at the carrot of Death. Or maybe the baseboards of Death. "I wish you hadn't chewed up all the baseboards in my bedroom!" April tells the dying rabbit Tuesday. Maybe they still have lead paint in Canada? Saturday, Mr. B. finally shits the blanket. "I've never seen anything die before," April says. "You've just seen a miracle, April," Elly says. A miracle indeed--Gasoline Alley still can't work up the courage to kill off Walt.
MOTHER GOOSE & GRIMM: Tuesday, Bibendum sits at home with Mrs. Bibendum and a herd of little Bibendum children. "It's time to have your tubes tied," he says. Once again, Mike Peters abuses someone else's character. But is the Michelin Man within Funny Paper's jurisdiction? It's not as if we grew up reading Bibendum comix. Funny Paper will permit Peters to get away with this particular infringement. But don't think that means we approve of this ultra-crummy gag, Peters, you pathetic moron.
MARMADUKE: Wednesday, Marmaduke jumps on the bed. Or maybe he's levitating over the bed. Hard to tell. Friday, Funny Paper has positive visual ID: Marmaduke lies on the couch.
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