Our weekly respite from the political flood comes just in time.
But never mind. C’est le weekend!
We’ll get in the holiday mood with Nancy. Olivia Jaimes is at her best when she goes into minimalist dadaesque mode and this is a lovely bit of graphic bathos.
It reminds me of a classic poem which, at nine years old, put us in stitches:
Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Some poems rhyme,
But this one doesn’t.
which is distinct from this one:
There was a young chap named McMahon
Whose poems would never quite scan.
When told it was so,
He said, “Yes, I know,
“but I always try to get as many words into the last line as I possibly can.”
They’re equally ridiculous (in a good way), and both rely on confounding expectations (which is about 98% of all humor). But the latter is wit while the former is a dumb joke.
Wit is kind of an elitist bonding humor: “Only we clever folks will get this one.”
Dumb jokes deliberately puncture that snobbery.
At the opposite end from Jaimes’ quick-take approach is the shaggy dog story, in which the narrator goes on and on only to reveal at the end that there is no punch line.
But it’s the same anarchic anti-humor.
Meanwhile, if Aunt Fritzi manages to relive all her Christmas memories in four brief panels, poor Ted Forth can’t manage to fit his into a manageable bundle no matter how big the canvas he’s given.
This is an entirely different form of surrealistic humor.
Francesco Marciuliano is still mourning his own father, and there’s an element of blending Ted’s family dysfunction into that process, but readers don’t have to know that to recognize, however they feel about it, a brand of storytelling that doesn’t involve a lot of seltzer down your pants.
Ces wrote a remarkable piece several years ago about his view of Ted, which I remember chiefly for this:
(O)ver the years I slowly gave Ted more of my interests, more of my worries and even my own occasional tendency to break the fourth wall-minus any audience save for a concerned companion–until one day my editor called me with an emergency message–“You’re making Ted Forth insane. Stop it.”
Fortunately, he didn’t, and, fortunately, the editors let things go on, and the result is a strip that most readers either really like or really, really hate. Which are both foreseeable, appropriate reactions.
If Olivia Jaimes is Salvador Dali making a bull’s head out of a bike seat and handle bars, Ces is more in the realm of floppy clocks.
Either you get it or you don’t.
An English professor freshman year told us a story of a poet — I think Pound but can’t remember — approached by an enthusiastic fan who wanted to know what a particular poem meant.
He responded, “It doesn’t mean anything. It’s just a goddam poem.”
Not that we weren’t required to try to parse the poetry and fiction we studied, and, while I found Joyce to be a lot of fun, Yeats drove me to change my major.
It felt like dissecting a canary: It might tell you how it sang, but it wouldn’t tell you why, and, meanwhile, it meant the bird would never sing for you again.
Ditto with comics. Let’s move on.
Today is the shortest day of the year. Bizarro, conversely, commemorates the longest day not just of the year but the longest day of all time, a March 17 when I took a gig as a strolling minstrel at an Irish-themed restaurant.
The best part is the looks on the faces of the diners as they wonder who this man is and how they can get him to go away.
I have seen those faces.
The restaurant went out of business and I deserve some of the credit.
I got a laugh out of Carpe Diem because, while my dog doesn’t like toys at all, he has friends who are genuinely addicted to their toys.
In fact, there is a particular toy that we at the park refer to as a “Crack Ball” not because it breaks — in fact, it’s virtually indestructible — but because the dogs get so into them that they lose all interest in anything else at all.
Dogs who used to run and play will lie there chewing on their crack balls and gazing blissfully into some vague distance.
But at least they’re quiet. The infamous squeaky chicken in the cartoon even afflicts addicts outside the canine world:
The interactions between young Sedgewick and his butler, Jarvis, in Monty are high on my list of favorites. Here the young lad is dressed as his hero, Mr. Potter.
(Hey, it’s not politics. It’s cinematic studies.)
Going back to the topic of college, this Zits made me think of life before the academic calendar changed, when we had a two-week break for the holidays, then came back to another week or two of classes before first semester finals.
This meant that we’d bullshit ourselves into thinking we were going to study over break, adding 40 pounds of books to our suitcases.
Which we never touched, but I don’t know anyone who had the gall to simply admit that in the first place and go home unburdened in either sense of the word.
As for life on Jeremy’s level, I remember caring and stressing in high school, but most of my memories of January mid-years were that, depending on your test schedules, there were days you had to go in and days you didn’t, and it was an odd week or so of being intensely supervised on the one hand and then completely unsupervised on the other.
Some of the maddest things we got into, we got into on those days we didn’t have tests.
At least, the kind on paper.