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CSotD: Good timing, bad timing, you know we’ve had our share

Ben Jennings scores.

This is one of those pieces where the only real response is, “Good for you,” because there are plenty of paintings that depict crowds but this is the right one.

 

Here’s the original, not that you haven’t seen it but I wanted a second look to see how crowded the scene really was and thought you might, too.

My own guestimate is that the groups are a proper six feet apart, but that the people in them are quite close within their groups, which is interesting because one of the places I interact with people is at the dog park.

Problem there being that, while we don’t bunch up too much, the dogs do, and they also come over to greet their favorite humans, which is probably uncool, given that they not only get petted by a series of people but are likely carrying — on their fur if not in their systems — whatever their own humans might be carrying.

I suppose we all have to make our own decisions about what level of exposure we can deal with, versus what level of isolation.

We’ve got 13 confirmed cases in New Hampshire, which is a small state but not so small that I’m terribly worried, though one of the cases visited the DMV in Manchester and I’m glad I didn’t.

But all that pondering simply indicates how brilliant Jennings’ choice was, since that sunny afternoon at a public park is exactly the sort of thing people are torn over.

 

By contrast, not only are Caillebotte’s people well spaced, one from another, but I doubt they’d be out in the rain if they didn’t absolutely have to be.

 

And surely by their own time, the virus will no longer be novel and these people will have developed natural immunities.

Except that fellow in the red shirt, of course.

 

Meanwhile, as Jeff Danziger depicts it, Dear Leader appears to have finally caught on, though you’ll note by the date of issue that this was before his response signaled that he seems more concerned about the impact on the stock market than on the people who may die from the disease.

As said before, I think we all know Trump is, personally, bereft of any sort of empathy, much less compassion. However, you’d think a person so much in the public eye would have learned to fake it, at least in response to the pushback from the paper towel incident, if not as part of the overall conjob.

Which brings us to our

Juxtaposition of the Day

(Patrick Bagley)

(Matt Davies)

Speaking of faking sincerity in furtherance of a con, Fox News has suspended  Trish Regan for a jaw-dropping broadcast in which she directly accused Dear Leader’s enemies of concocting fraudulent fear of the virus in order to impeach him yet again.

However, the network has put such a procession of Lords Haw-Haw and Tokyo Roses on the air that it’s almost unfair to Regan that she is off the air for having crossed a line none of us knew was even there.

Still, if the network has dropped its lockstep loyalty, that’s a good thing. The question is whether it’s too late, given that the Deplorables are already convinced that the whole thing is a libtard plot.

 

Timing is everything, alas

Lead times are interesting things, and while some strips are including references to the virus, others are clunking badly with ill-timed gags.

 

I suppose you could argue that the fellow in today’s In the Bleachers is doubly gullible, given that there aren’t any tournaments being played and so the tickets are an obvious trick.

 

But it’s hard to imagine that Loretta Lockhorn is complimenting Leroy for his wise decision to avoid an obvious contamination source in favor of safer, local cuisine.

If anyone had caught it, it would be easy enough to fix the timing problem by changing the caption to “having a pizza delivered.”

However, a lot of cartoonists work far enough in advance that they’re not aware of potential gaffes in their work by the time the news changes things.

And, despite where the blame falls, the local editor won’t catch it and alert the syndicate, because the local editor never looks at the comics page beyond a quick glance as the rest of the paper is getting a final look.

The backshop might catch it, though they’re often assembling things quickly enough that they only pull the strips in by a computer formula and check to make sure there are no blank boxes on the page.

And the comics page at an increasing number of papers is laid out in India or the Philippines, not only electronically and well in advance but by people whose command of the language, never mind its nuances, may be pretty limited.

 

The Literary Corner

Today’s Pickles sent me off to Project Gutenberg for a search, because I’ve read “War and Peace” a half dozen times and didn’t recognize the quote.

However, it’s in there, and I’d only quibble about where Earl is holding the book, because if he’s halfway through, he hasn’t reached the point where Kutuzov makes the comment.

I would add that, if you can get through a thick “beach book,” you can get through “War and Peace,” which is simply historical fiction and not nearly as hard a slog as people seem to think.

And, by the way, Boris and Natasha are only an item in the opening pages, at which point she’s just a kid with a crush and he has not yet been revealed as a social-climbing … (What’s the Russian word for “dipshit”?)

Not that this is the only classic to have been universally misjudged.

 

By contrast (ahem):

I like Reality Check, but this is the second “wherefore” flub I’ve seen in the last 10 days and, given that we all studied the play in junior high, that’s all I can stands, I can’t stands no more.

Here’s your mnemonic, in the form of a redundant title:

Community Comments

#1 Mark Jackson
March/16/2020
@ 8:31 am

Excellent anti-crowd scene, although Jennings either was exercising his artistic license or mistook Seurat’s seated woman at middle left for a rock.

#2 Kathleen Donnelly
March/16/2020
@ 11:54 am

Caillebotte’s painting has made me gasp ever since the first time I saw it, fifty years ago, as the dust cover of a large book. I’ve since seen the original, in an Impressionist exhibit in San Francisco. Contemporary critics complained, ‘It’s supposed to be a rainy day. Where is the rain?’
Use of the painting as a metaphor for the menace of COVID-19 is brilliant. ‘Where is the virus?’

#3 Katherine Collins
March/16/2020
@ 3:47 pm

I was very surprised by your evocation of newspaper page assembly being done overseas. I somehow didn’t know that, although it makes sense in this time when nothing is what it used to be. But I guess I have always assumed that in a newspaper office the final page creation would need to be right here on site, just in case . . . something.

As a former “paste-up” person, on magazines in the sixties and seventies (and on into the nineties with comics), I feel sad that, like so many people, I have found out my old livelihood does not even exist any more. I ran into a video on You Tube which memorialises the old craft of paste-up. It goes through all the stages of creating a newspaper or magazine page-by-page, and how we used to cut the type (fresh from the computer typesetter) with a (gasp!) little knife, and then paste it onto a large page form, using (giggle) actual glue! (Or, I guess, paste.) It was as if they were describing something like steel engravers in the 19th century, cutting copies of drawings for publications.

I actually remember learning paste-up, and feeling like I was at the cutting edge of printing technology. I had actually started my involvement with printing and publishing by using a pica stick for hand-setting the movable lead type, and then printing it on a one-page little press, and then breaking it all down again for the next person to use the same pieces of type. (This was in a print shop at my high school in 1965.)

After that, I went on to using a strange combination of “hot lead” being set on a Linotype machine, which was then locked into place by the printers, who used that to run off one printed copy with an old platen-based machine. This created a full-size newspaper page, but with only the type in place, and huge white spaces. This was then photographed, in order to create a full-size neg. Meanwhile, the pictures and ads were shot on a “modern” giant camera, creating more negs which were then stripped into place, using a light table, on the afore-mentioned white spaces. Amazingly, this all became routine, and the pages always turned out looking just like an old-fashioned newspaper.

By the time I was actually being paid to paste up real magazines and things (early 70s), the linotype machine was gone, and I was using the classic paste-up methods which are now depicted with a rosy glow of nostalgia.

In more recent years, I have done it all on computers, of course. But I’ve been inactive in this field for about twenty years. I think I will have a new project soon, and I wonder what the latest changes will be. I hope I don’t have to go live in India.

Getting old? Me? That can’t be.

#4 Mary McNeil
March/16/2020
@ 5:51 pm

Katherine Collins – Thanks for the memories.

#5 Mike Peterson
March/17/2020
@ 3:26 am

I was fortunate enough, first of all, to get along well with the backshop, and, second, to be doing school tours at a place where the fellows (all “fellows”) had converted from hot lead to paste-up. They gave me a lot of stories about the good old days that greatly expanded my ability to explain things.

When they converted, it involved setting the pages for the next day in lead, then going to a hotel conference room where the offset computers were set up and doing the pages over again, in preparation to moving into a new building where that was the technology.

An oddity that resounded with any touring kids who worked with deep-fat fryers — they told me the hot lead would spatter in little drops onto your arm but you had to wait for it to cool down before you could pick it off. Made offset printing sound pretty attractive.

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