Comic Strip of the Day: Friday Funnies

But first this …

When I drop subtle hints that newspaper editors are cloth-eared, humorless dweebs who ought not to be in charge of selecting comics, here’s how it comes down elsewhere in the paper.

Back in the days when papers had budgets, editors would have conventions where they’d make stupid collective decisions, like the time they decided “in lieu of bail” was jargon, but disbanded without coming up with a plain language alternative to a phrase their readers already understood, so reporters had to write variations of “was held in jail because he did not/would not/could not pay $25,000 in bail” until the controversy sorted itself out.

And at some slightly more recent point, they similarly decided that photographs must have cutlines (captions) appropriate for archaeologists who might unearth the paper 1,000 years from now and have no understanding of our culture.

Back in the Lou Grant days when editors were literate people connected to society, the cutline might have been “Deshaun Watson, in the Nov 4 game against the Broncos.”

Most readers would know he had just thrown a pass, they would be able to see the number on his chest and they would not give a horse’s patoot what quarter it happened in.

And since they’re reading it in the sports section of the Houston Chronicle, they would probably know that Watson is a member of the Texans and, knowing that visitors wear white, they’d guess the game was at Denver, where everyone who knows the shape of the ball also knows that the formal name of Mile High Stadium is “Broncos Stadium at Mile High” but only your grandmother and your editor call it that.

They might even know that the NFL plays football and not badminton.

Don’t laugh.

The comics in your local paper are chosen by members of this rollicking laff-a-minit band of imaginative thinkers.


And that makes me want to go buy Terri Libenson (or her doppelganger Jill) a beer or two, because — as noted in today’s Pajama Diaries — a lot of talented people suffer from imposter syndrome.

But getting an award shouldn’t trigger it. Except possibly because the award never seems to be for the work you liked best.

I had one year as a reporter when I didn’t get some random chunk of regional Lucite and it was never for something I had slaved over and dug into and bled on.

Okay, once it was: I heard Census workers were getting screwed on unemployment, tracked it to a rider attached to a supplemental appropriations bill by Senator Fritz Hollings (D-SC) and wrote a story that, within days, resulted in corrective federal legislation.

Pretty cool, and I got some kind of semi-major award.

I forget exactly what it was because my editor took the certificate to get it framed for me and then lost it.

When I somehow became an interim-publisher, the task of selecting stories and preparing them and submitting them for awards fell to me and, boy, if I hated awards before, I absolutely despised them then.

In part because of the actual work involved, and in part because I was torn between genuinely selecting our best journalism or trying to anticipate what the trend-obsessed, thick-pated editorial goobers who judge this crap would think was excellent.

Note to Jill/Terri: Don’t judge yourself one way or the other by Lucite. The judges who matter are here.


Juxtaposition of the Rodentia

(Arlo and Janis)



(Rhymes With Orange)

I suppose a biologist could calculate lead time for each of these, based on where these cartoonists live and when mice and chipmunks and such begin seeking a warm spot for the winter, but you’ll note they all landed Wednesday, which was weird enough to get my attention.

Maybe I’ve been deceived and all the cartoonists live together in a big house somewhere.

A big house currently infested with mice.

Anyway, since nobody drew the traditional mouse trap, this is an acceptable time to note that mice are almost entirely vegetarian (yes, except for insulation) and don’t particularly like cheese.

It’s probably one of those accepted conventions, so that people accept the idea of cheese on traps in cartoons but, if they actually have to catch a mouse themselves, know to use peanut butter.

But, hey, these tropes are malleable. With Henry having left this two-dimensional mortal coil a few weeks ago, cartoon women may have already stopped setting their pies out on windowsills to cool.


Today’s Candorville shifts us from rodents to romance.

This is an absolutely brilliant tease, both of Susan and of the audience. I’d like to know what percentage of readers were saying “No, no, no! Don’t do it!” and how many were saying, “Yes, at last!” but let me remind everyone that “They Did It” was a major category in the list of “Jumped the Shark” disasters.

I’m very much in the “No, no, no” camp and so that last panel cracked me up with the combination of punch-line whiplash and the relief that we weren’t headed down that dead alley.

Not that I’ve never pondered the what-ifs. But I outgrew it.

At this stage, I believe that, if you like where you are at, you ought not to despise the road that brought you there.

I realize that your mileage could really vary, but, if so, maybe that’s your version of imposter syndrome and you’re just looking at things bassackwards.

I’m on good terms with most of my ex’s, and the one I sometimes think about is someone where we broke up for practical rather than romantic reasons — we just genuinely needed to be in different places, not without regret.

I still think that, if we’d stayed together, we’d have really had some interesting times.

But we really did have some interesting times anyway, and I don’t think either of us would trade what we found separately for whatever might be behind Door #3.

Some questions are better left unanswered.

(Sorry, Susan.)


Juxtaposition of Busted Romances

I could have left you with an earworm from this Strange Brew.


But then Rubes offered an alternative.


5 thoughts on “Comic Strip of the Day: Friday Funnies

  1. I know your legendary contempt for those of us that have legendary contempt for sportsball, but one part of your rant about overspecificity in captions hit close to … something. Okay, it’s always about me. We have a dizzying collection of stadiums in Minnesota—one for each shape of ball, and some graded by age of player, and I have taken to correcting everyone when they mention any of them by name. “Oh, you mean ‘Taxpayer Stadium?’ ”

    Speaking of legendariness, I am still impressed by the fact that every morning you not only manage to extrude a post filled with comics goodness, but you fill the cracks in with actual text that makes sense and everything. Thanks.

  2. Careful, Mike, because I have another rant ready to go about jargon, which is that I had editors who objected to my calling the Free Trade Agreement the FTA on the biz page, when my argument is that anyone reading that article would know what it was.

    I would point out that, on the sports page, it was not necessary to spell out “Runs Batted In” on first reference, and you could say someone hit “a homer” without explaining that he hit the ball so far that he was able to touch each of the four bases in order before the fielders could recover the ball and tag him with it.

    However, the editors had not yet had that national meeting and, if they had, their decision probably would have infuriated the sports department without benefiting me.

    Anyway, anyone in Houston reading the sports page knows who Deshaun Watson is. Run him on the front page and we’ll talk. 😉

  3. As for taxpayer buy-in, go back to the previous post about Amazon and tax incentives.

    There are not only economic impact multipliers to consider but also quality-of-life issues that are (even) harder to quantify but which affect corporate relocation decisions.

    Also this:

    And the individual players face very complex IRS returns because they technically earn their salaries per game, which means if Pittsburgh plays in San Diego, California nicks each Steeler for taxes on what he earned in that game and then his home state gets him again as a resident.

    So your NFL team is paying back some of that stadium funding, even before y’all come into town and get a motel room and a 24-pack of beer to drink before the game.

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