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Funny Paper

There's a CELL PHONE in My STOMACH!

April 2-8

By Scocca & MacLeod | Posted 4/11/2001

Sun Crossword OREO watch: April 5, 7 down, "Sweet sandwich." But writing in the April 8 New York Times Magazine, Times puzzles editor Will Shortz informs us that OREO is a standard building block in the industry, along with the likes of ALEE, IOTA, and EEL. Finding these regulars, Shortz writes, is the first step in methodical puzzle-cracking. So Funny Paper will leave the lickable cookie alone for a while, and will amuse ourselves by finding words that make us snicker: ACNE, DOGRACE, REBA, URANIAN, SNERD, FARO, UNIT, RIMS, HURL, SCOW, NOLTE.


Cross-promotion watch: Snoopy appears as a stuffed animal in Hi & Lois.


Blondie: Dagwood reveals an affection for Wagner, to go with his affection for his Amazonian blonde wife.


Rex Morgan, M.D.: Wilson & Nolan's latent superhero-action-drawing tendencies come to the fore, as enraged doctor-hating paterfamilias Willis McBride confronts June, and June responds by bodily shoving him into the cellar--"Heeyyy!"--and locking the door. It's strange and pleasing to see motion lines in Rex Morgan, M.D. that aren't associated with a scalpel or a gloved finger.


Mark Trail: Andy and Tabby get themselves into deeper and deeper trouble. First Andy gets sprayed by a skunk that Tabby has innocently riled up. Then the dejected, reeking Andy wanders, with Tabby trailing behind, into the deep woods--where a pack of feral dogs is waiting. Animal of the week: the imperturbable mole crab, aka the sandbug.


Beetle Bailey: An erotic weekend at Camp Swampy. Saturday, Sarge grills Beetle and Killer about whether they plan to go see nekkid ladies in town. Sunday, Plato joins Beetle and Killer for an out-of-uniform swim, including a panel with a bare-bottomed Bailey, who's still wearing a cap. Funny Paper awaits the short-arm-inspection sequence next week.


For Better or For Worse: April's slumber party goes on too long and isn't very interesting--just like a real slumber party!


The Boondocks: Aaron McGruder returns from sick leave to give us a week of Huey playa-hatin' over Puffy's acquittal. Sunday sweetens the mood as Caesar pays tribute to Mr. T: "He's no wanna-be thug--he's a hero." Funny Paper refuses even to consider the possibility that any love shown to Lawrence Tureaud might be tongue-in-cheek. (And we are not alone. Sun Crossword, April 5, 14 across, "Elite group"; April 6, 47 down, "First string." Answer both times: "ATEAM.")


The Phantom: Victoria Carter tries to learn the origin of the Phantom. Just keep an eye on the paper for a few weeks, honey, till Falk & Berry get around to rehashing it for the 574th time.


Mother Goose & Grimm: How not to do a running gag:

Monday: Grimm eats Mother Goose's cell phone, and it rings in his belly. Tuesday: Attila presses Grimm's belly to dial for a pizza. Wednesday: Mother Goose yells about Grimm eating the cell phone, and Atilla suggests pressing under his belly button to call 911. Thursday: Mother Goose hears an automated phone message issuing from Grimm's belly. Friday: Grimm goes into spasms because the phone in his belly is vibrating. Saturday: Mother Goose calls Grimm on the belly-phone, leading to the inevitable punch line about "roaming charges."

Where to begin? First, there's Mike Peters' habit of underlining the gag again and again: "You didn't SWALLOW my CELL PHONE did you?" . . . "There's a CELL PHONE in my STOMACH! . . . "The dog at my CELL PHONE!" . . . "There's only one problem with SWALLOWING a CELL PHONE . . ." Right, Mike. The dog SWALLOWED a CELL PHONE. You're doing a gag about those newfangled CELL PHONES. We got it. What next, Grimmy eats some AIRPLANE FOOD?

And after the joke hits its one note cleanly on Monday, Peters spends the rest of the week serving up not riffs but outtakes, redundant or contradictory versions of the same concept. Wednesday and Thursday are near-identical freakouts by Mother Goose. Friday, all of a sudden, the phone is on vibrate; Saturday, it's back to ringing. There's no progress, either comedic or alimentary. Funny Paper fears it could be a month before the damn dog SHITS the CELL PHONE out of his ANUS.


Prince Valiant: Yuan Chen, the mouthpiece for John Cullen Murphy's pedantic command of the trivia of antiquity, prepares to educate some corsairs about the function of the triple rowing decks of the Roman trireme. See, it's all about acceleration, not top speed. "Let us correct our foe's misconception on this point," he says, as the boat prepares to ram the enemy. Next week: "history lesson." Whaddaya mean, "next week"?

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