CSotD: Monday Mix

As my colleague DD Degg noted recently, Stephan Pastis has been getting more philosophical at Pearls Before Swine lately, with his tribute to his dog getting a great deal of attention.

This shift means that the strip doesn’t always produce the belly laughs it did when it was new, but it probably wouldn’t anyway.

We’re oversupplied with animal strips whose daily routine is to set up a gag that is then topped by a nasty, selfish comment from the resident malcontent.

It’s not just the comics: I don’t watch a lot of TV, but over the football season I saw a lot of promos for sitcoms in which unpleasant people make nasty cracks at nicer people.

Thing is, whether you like antisocial humor or not, there’s a point at which it all becomes interchangeable and dull and repetitive, both internally and as a form.

Though I guess if everyone felt that way, TV would be a lot different, wouldn’t it?

In any case, Pearls has always been one of the more creative of the misanthropic animal strips, and perhaps Pastis became bored with simply having Rat make nasty comments seven days a week.

Or maybe doing his Timmy Failure books sparked a shift in his overall view.

Or maybe this is just a temporary diversion.

Anyway, I’m enjoying it, and I wouldn’t mind if a few other misanthropic animal strips tried some new directions.


Sensitivity Straining

Candorville takes on the blackface scandal, and I’m with Lemont in wondering how anybody in 1984 didn’t know it was offensive.  And in laughing over how much more you’d have to pile on in order to finally ping their sensitivity button.

Though times change. I note that both the new Aladdin and the new Robin Hood preserve the Magical Negro elements of recent versions. It makes sense for Aladdin, since that’s a deliberate remake of the animated film, but I don’t see how anyone could take the Kevin Costner/Morgan Freeman version of Robin Hood as canonical. Or worth copying.

I’m not hearing much pushback, but I’ll bet our grandkids will wonder what we were thinking.


Public Schooling

John Branch illustrates one immediate aspect of the Wall, which is that its construction requires destruction of a butterfly sanctuary in Texas, and the courts have, so far, given Homeland Security the right to place the wall anywhere, regardless of normal restrictions.

It’s hardly the only place where eminent domain will destroy established lives, and not just of butterflies. However, it’s an excellent example of how disruptive and unnecessary the whole nonsensical project is.

The people who live on the border are starting to push back against the lie that their region is racked with violent crime or that the places where walls have been built show significantly improved crime rates.

I just find it curious that the same crowd that normally goes nuts over government seizure of private property is standing by watching cattlemen — y’know, like the folks who seized that nature center in 2014 — lose their land.

Especially since the Bundy family does not support the Wall.

As the old punchline goes, they may be crazy, but they’re not stupid.


And when the government isn’t threatening us with scary, violent brown people from shithole countries, they’re terrifying people, as Paul Szep points out, with the boogeyman of Socialism.

If you follow the line of no-thought on social media, you’ll find lectures on how it’s not socialism to do those things Szep lists, because …. well, the “because” gets buried in rightwing bafflegab, but it basically comes down to the fact that most people who drive on roads or use the services of the police are “us,” but feeding the poor or providing people with heathcare would benefit “them.”

And there’s consistency in that position.

If you go down into “their” neighborhoods and check out the condition of the infrastructure, you’ll see that, no, we don’t spend tax money on things that only benefit “them.”

(And don’t drink “their” water. They serve it mixed with lead, for some reason.)


In fact, don’t go out at all

Mo celebrates, or mocks, the “Life in a Box” syndrome, which I find bizarre on a number of levels, mostly that, when I first saw these things, I thought “What a dumb idea!” but now that I see more, I wonder about a world in which they succeed.

Unless it’s just a bunch of companies failing at the same fad.

However, it’s possible that capitalizing on people’s urge to remain in their bubble is a most excellent idea.

I had one of my young writers send for a wardrobe in a box and she thought it was great, even though she had to send the first one back for re-sizing.

Still, it strikes me as a present you pay for ($98 in her case), and you could get the “personal service” aspect on a more micro-tuned level if you’d shop at a small, locally owned clothing store.

Assuming you live somewhere where small, locally owned clothing stores haven’t been driven out of business by the chains.

But the food thing really puzzles me, in part because I can only imagine what my box would be like after transiting through sub-zero weather, but mostly because part of knowing how to cook is knowing how to substitute and match your own taste.

There are certain foods worth sending out for, at the top of my list being Indian, since the blending and simmering of spices is way too specialized if you didn’t grow up in a kitchen where it happened regularly.

And jarred simmer sauce is a damn poor substitute for what you get at an Indian restaurant, so that, even if they had “Masala In A Box,” it couldn’t possibly be the same.

Anyway, cook-by-numbers seems silly and uncreative. If you’re not going to really cook, hand off the job to a real cook.

Living in a bubble is okay, but your kitchen is the wrong room.




7 thoughts on “CSotD: Monday Mix

  1. “[Y]ou could get the “personal service” aspect on a more micro-tuned level if you’d shop at a small, locally owned clothing store.”

    Well, maybe. Or maybe they’d try to sell you whatever they over-ordered.

  2. I think your reaction to the meal in the box is reflective of a generation that learned to cook from home. I think that has changed in the last 30 years and people are struggling to recapture things like home cooked meals. I don’t subscribe but have seriously considered it if only to try new things that I might not try otherwise.

  3. In re. to blackface. I am always amused by the belief of so many that their life experiences are universal and their POV and beliefs are absolute.

    I grew up in a small college rural Kansas town. It was a lifestyle similar to TV series Leave It To Beaver. In the seventeen years this white guy saw one black fellow student.

    At 17 I moved to Southern Louisiana where I actually talked to the first black person for the first time. I can understand why a white 18 year old might include blackface in the clueless idiot things to do. It is not the time but the local culture that overrides the mass accepted behavior.

    I have been blessed with seeing the world from more than one point of view. I have lived over twenty years in the South and over twenty years in Los Angeles. During the Bush-Gore race I heard the same comments from people I knew in Los Angeles and those I knew in Louisiana, but with one difference – Los Angeles could not understand how anyone could pick Bush over Gore and Louisiana could not understand how anyone could pick Gore over Bush. It was an important lesson to learn and helps explain Trump.

    I have lived in Kansas, Louisiana, and California and all three had different beliefs and cultures. This is a big country with a variety of people and experiences and those who see the world through their own limited point of view will forever be confused.

  4. Steve, my kids learned to cook the same way I did: Standing around the kitchen talking while dinner was prepared.

    Busy? Sure, we were all busy. They played sports and had jobs and I had my own distractions, but we still had time to be together, and it wasn’t that we “made time” but that it was assumed.

    That’s what we’ve lost: The assumption that we spend time together as a family.

    One of the best signs that you’ve done it right is when your kid calls you a few years later and asks for details on the clam sauce and linguine. Even better is when you have it at his house a few years after that, and realize he’s improved on the recipe.

    Some families still have that, but fewer and fewer and I don’t think we can require it, though I envy the LDS for encouraging “family night” to the point that people in their communities don’t bother scheduling against it. Good for them!

  5. “The South is a foreign country. They do things differently there.”
    I don’t rememer who said this – my suspicion is Wm. Faulkner.

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