CSotD: Friday Funnies

Tom Cheney gets the top spot for drawing a tin-can telephone with a taut string.

He’s originally from my part of the world, which is a good thing in itself, but the important thing is that he’s old enough to remember when comic books were for kids and had instructions for a tin-can telephone in about every other issue.

You needed a pair of tomato cans — something slightly bigger than soup cans —  and a pair of finishing nails, plus string. You could always scrounge some nails from somewhere, and kite string was a given. We all had kite string.

Pound a hole in the bottom of each can, using one of the nails and whatever poundy thing you had. A hammer. A rock.

The hard part was threading the string through the small hole. Then you tied each of the nails to an end of the string so it not only held the string in place but added to the vibration against the bottom of the can.

Then, with you holding one end and your buddy holding the other, you pulled the string taut so that, when you spoke into your can, it send a vibration down the string to the bottom of the other can, turning it back into sound.

The flaw in this instrument being that you were probably close enough that you could have just talked anyway, but hush.

Anyway, cartoonists who draw tin-can telephones with loose strings might as well be drawing cartoons in which penguins mingle with polar bears.

Consarn it.


Juxtaposition of the Ages

(Prickly City)

(Between Friends)

And while I’m ranting on things the young folks just don’t get, I’ve been rejecting the “Boomer” label for a couple of decades now, and not only does nobody listen but they keep inventing new Madison Avenue marketing categories and joyfully wedging themselves in.

There was a baby boom, of course, in that a lot of babies were born between 1943 and 1964, but the notion that they had anything in common beyond that is nonsense.

My older brother was born in 1945, I was born in 1950, and we argued over whether to watch Hoppy or the Mickey Mouse Club. I doubt that our baby sister, born in 1958, remembers either of them.


Applying Bollings’ Law, as laid out in this 2007 cartoon, let’s look at music.

The first Boomers hit 12 in 1955. The top songs of the year included “Rock Around The Clock,” while the youngest Boomers were 12 in 1976, the height of disco.

Granted, the marketers divide Boomers into “Leading Edge” and “Trailing Edge,” but that’s just more Madison Avenue nonsense. For those of us born in the middle, there were divides even at the moment: Some of us were British Invasion, some of us were Beach Boys and never the twain did meet.

However, the biggest divide has always been between those who follow trends and those who don’t, which doesn’t make the non-trend setters “rebels” so much as it makes the trend-followers trend-followers.

I had an editor who used to see fads in Newsweek and then assign us to go out and “localize” them with feature stories, which usually turned out to be about kids who also read Newsweek.

Anyway, I’m with Susan: I’ll take the senior discount.

Accepting those other groupings falls under the category of “Selling Out.”


Science Notes

Dog Eat Doug anticipates the Ig Nobels. Okay, not medicine, but chemistry. Close enough for a Labrador retriever.


Language Arts, Part One

Andertoons reminded me of a conflict between what we learned in school and what we learned in church, because the term “ejaculation” certainly had different meanings in different contexts.

Our school teachers had long since abandoned that second, dated definition.

In Sunday school, however, an ejaculation was a very short prayer, such as “My Lord and My God,” which you might say, for instance, when passing a Catholic church. Each ejaculation gained you an indulgence of 300 days.

Which we were told meant 300 fewer days in Purgatory, which was sort of how the Catholic Church backed itself into the same mess that DC Comics got into by trying to explain how Superman cut his hair.

Some things are better left as mysteries.

Anyway, we were encouraged to offer “Spiritual Bouquets” for parents or whoever, in which we would pledge so many Our Fathers and so many Hail Marys and so many ejaculations.

Proposing this to a class of 12-year-old boys inspired more blasphemy than grace.


Language Arts, Part Two

Harry Bliss challenges the sense of trying to teach Thoreau to eighth graders.

I question trying to teach eighth graders about anything that can’t be held in their hands.

Eighth Grade should focus on home ec and shop, maybe some math, and then come back in another year or two for subjects that involve judgment and analysis.

I say this having tried to lead a group of eighth graders through “Hamlet.” It’s deceptive, because they’re articulate enough to make you think they’re following things, but then you realize they are still so concrete in their thinking that you lost them when the ghost exited.

This is why eighth graders study “Romeo and Juliet.” It is profoundly concrete: Their families hate each other, they’re in love, everyone dies, it’s sad.

At their age, “transcendental” means you’re not gonna need braces after all.


Speaking of which

Bottomliners raises a question besides “How low will your boss go to save money at your expense?”

But why is oral health considered a separate thing? Not that logic and health coverage are linked. Because I’ve been diagnosed as potentially diabetic, my eye care is covered. Not the glasses, but the exams.

However, dentistry, which has much greater implications for overall health, is over there outside.

Makes no sense. But that’s why I laughed even harder at the cartoon.


Finally … (no, not THAT kind of “finally”)

As it happens, I saw my physical therapist yesterday and she pretty much told me what this guy in Rhymes With Orange was told.

Slightly different phrasing. Same message.

So’s this, and it’s less work:


7 thoughts on “CSotD: Friday Funnies

  1. Once again, I reject the conceit that anyone born in the year 1964 is a Boomer, trailing edge or otherwise. I know no one born in that year, which includes myself and pretty much everyone I went to school with, who consider themselves Boomers or share any of the attributes assigned that generation.

    My wife came up with the best definition which was: if you were born after WWII, and JFK was still alive, you’re a boomer. If you were born after Kennedy was shot, you’re not.

  2. I was born in 1956, and all through the 70s, I was given to understand that I was at the very end of the Boomer cadre. I felt that I was really after the bump, but culturally still a Boomer because I have three older sisters, and spent a fair amount of time in older company.

    Now they seem to have extended it almost to 1970. Somebody’s grasping. It’s like all the kludges they had to apply to astronomy to make the cycles work before they committed to heliocentrism.

  3. Born in 1960 and don’t mind being called a Boomer but have never really felt I fit. In my mind, Boomers were nebulously defined by two criteria: they remember when Elvis hit it big (I do not), or they risked being drafted to Viet Nam (I did not). I also like JP’s definition–Kennedy’s death is a bright dividing line between the past and future of the USA.

    Still, I’ve always accepted the Boomer label, and admit to a bit of schadenfreude as my cohort ages and learns we’re not the most important people in the world anymore, kicking and screaming all the way. How’s “hope I die before I get old” working for you now, grandpa?

    “Pop Culture was at its best when you were 12” is an idea that comes up a lot in comic book circles, especially re: superheroes. No heroes were more heroic, no action more pulse-pounding, no cliff hangers more cliff-hangery than when you were 12. It leads to a lot of arguments.

    A corollary is that everything that came along after you were 12 is crap. I try to remember that when I hear my younger friends’ anguished cries that, for example, new Thundercats or She-Ra cartoons completely ruin the spirit, integrity and quality of the old Thundercats and She-Ra cartoons. Which, as far as I could ever tell, had no spirit, integrity or quality to ruin in the first place, but then I wasn’t 12.

  4. I once made a really good pair of can phones using instructions I got from a tiny Donald Duck comic (a shoe store giveaway). The big improvement in this one is that you take both ends off the can—not always easy nowadays—and put greased brown paper over the end, held on with rubber bands, and you put a button on the end of the string and run it through a hole in the brown paper.

    I don’t remember playing with it, though. My best friend and I generally got each other’s attention by standing outside and shouting, yard to yard. One of my sisters came in from playing tetherball once to tell me, “He’s yelling for you.”

  5. Leave it to Disney to make it more complex.

    But it does remind me of another comic book project, which was to take a button — preferable a large coat button — and put thread through it twice in opposing holes, then tie the thread into a loop, hold it out between both hands and swing it to get it twisted, then move your hands back and forth to keep it spinning and buzzing.

    Not sure any of these projects were in Superman or Batman. I suspect they didn’t climb the demographic ladder much past Archie, and admitting to them may be admitting you read Caspar or Sugar & Spike.

    (Which I proudly do.)

  6. Several unrelated things that I want to comment on.

    When I worked for a defense contractor, we were told that it was possible to hear conversations inside a room by using a laser to measure the vibrations on a window. Assuming that is true, you might be able to measure the vibrations on a piece of string.

    Similar to the Tom the Dancing Bug I’ve heard (actually read on a Usenet newsgroup) that the golden age of baseball is whenever you were 10. Both these make sense: you’re old enough to start understanding things, but young enough for things to be new and exciting. I remember the first baseball season I paid attention to: 1961. I also remember someone talking about the 1960 World Series and being completely unaware that it was going on. What can’t remember is how I transitioned from being totally unaware of baseball to being super excited about the Maris/Mantle home run race.

    Re: Ejaculation: Intercourse used to mean communication or talking. It seems that once a word acquires a sexual meaning, the previous meaning get pushed out, or people are hesitant to use them for fear of being misconstrued. It seems that we can only coarsen language, never refine it.

  7. Mike,

    My mom taught me the trick with string and a large button. It was fun for oh, I’d say about 30 seconds.

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