This past Sunday’s Edison Lee has not simply been sitting in my “Friday Funnies” folder but has also been rattling around in my head.
One of the elements of having grown up hard-core country is that I had a full set of stars overhead, particularly in winter when the combination of early sunsets and cold nights had me walking around under that live planetarium fairly often.
So I was honestly gobsmacked decades later, while working on an educational piece about astronomy and myth, when my technical advisers, Brian Fies and Sherwood Harrington, told me most people had never seen the Milky Way.
How the hell could they miss it?
I poked around and discovered they were right: Most people have never seen the Milky Way. It made me feel at once privileged and also extremely sad.
I’d never thought much about the night sky, but it was a part of my life. I’d be out walking the dog at night and there’d be Orion, which meant it was fall and soon would be winter and hello, old friend.
You can test your own night skies by counting the stars in Orion, but the results may not be terribly encouraging. There are as many as 40, but way too many people can only see 10.
Then, when we got to Bootes, I realized that the idea that ancient people looked up at the stars and invented stories because they had nothing better to do is an elitist myth.
As I learned, and as I wrote, Bootes was a critical navigational aid and clock which a variety of pre-industrial people understood quite well.
And while I was delighted to learn that ancient megalithic structures in Ireland were built with the equinoxes in mind, I was stunned to read a theory that cave paintings are apparently star charts and recordings of complex astronomical observations.
Point being that we may have more toys and tools, but we don’t have any more brains than the people who did things like systematically cross-breeding a grassy plant into corn or building pyramids or any number of things that required, not test tubes and textbooks but imagination and analytical thinking.
Though I do like to assume that, like me, they sometimes looked up on a particularly crisp, clear night and just said “Wow.”*
Juxtaposition of the Week
Bizarro takes an odd path towards reminding us that Passover begins at sundown. I’d actually thought of it yesterday morning, wondering if Bill Barr might want to smear a little blood on the White House lintels in hopes of fooling the Almighty. (Nobody has better lintels than the White House, believe me! We’ve got the greatest lintels anywhere!)
Meanwhile, the Barn keeps me attuned to the dark skies topic, because it reminds me of the time I did a weather break on my talk show and got through the “sunny skies” part before I realized it was 7:30 on a November evening and that the rip-and-read printout on the board in front of me was a few hours old.
Yes, O Best Beloved, I am old enough to have worked in a newsroom that included a ticker printing out the latest news, weather and sports on long rolls of canary paper to be torn off and hung on the wall with clothes pins.
And, by cracky, if I can remember when a cup of coffee was a dime, I’m also — like the fellow in this Super-Fun-Pak-Comix strip — old enough to remember when nobody was dumb enough to spend six bucks for one and, no, this isn’t about inflation.
Let me be clear: I care about coffee and spend about $8.95 a pound for coffee which starts with better fair-trade karma than Starbucks and even lets me create my own blend for a very slight uptick in price, as a friend of the blog recently did.
I may be ancient, but I’m not too out-of-date to know that those six dollar lattes are simply not sufficiently better than what you can get at McDonald’s for a buck, and they’re sure as hell not as good as what you could have made at home for even less, if you weren’t hung up on those sissy little goddam whale-killing plastic K-cups.
Those mules would have you for breakfast.
To both of which I can only add my endorsement.
One disadvantage of cord-cutting is that streaming services seem hung-up on having you enter first your email address and then your password one freaking letter at a time on each TV and tablet in your house, and, if you unplug anything for more than a few minutes, you have to start all over again.
Meanwhile, I agree with the Bug — there is no website in the world fascinating enough to go through that multi-pane multi-pain Captcha nonsense, particularly since they will flunk you because you didn’t see that there’s a little piece of a marmoset’s fingertip in the corner of the panel one over from the left in the middle row.
To which I would add:
In addition to re-designing their site, King Features has, as this RWO graphic tells us, encouraged its artists to abandon their own websites and come in under the umbrella.
I’m not yet a fan of the new site, though they’re making some adjustments, but I’m 100 percent in favor of artists making money.
But there’s this: If you simply post your cartoons to Facebook or Twitter with a magical auto app, you’re just spamming.
Use the app if you can’t remember to throw your work up there regularly, but you have to stick around and respond to comments. Engage with readers and fans. Post pictures of your dog being silly. Comment on life. Build your base.
It’s called “social media” for a reason.
*In lieu of a video today, I offer this rumination upon “Wow.”