Over at Vintage Thimble Theater (1936), the gang is just beginning to learn about Eugene the Jeep, who lives in the Fourth Dimension and so, among other things, has access to race results.
We’re not sure what else he’s capable of, but, as we’ve seen in the last few days, he’s at least capable of pinging Popeye’s conscience.
It’s a comic strip, of course.
In real life, Popeye would get a few bets down before carefully scheduling a fit of decency and responsibility.
Meanwhile, here in 2019, Big Nate is catching no breaks from his grandparents.
There are a lot of things I like about last Sunday’s strip, beginning with the fact the Nate is right, though I’m not sure how he even knows what some of those candies are.
What his grandparents know, and he can’t, is that the candymakers long since ruined Sugar Babies and Good’n Plentys, which used to last forever, though nothing lasted longer than a Sugar Daddy, a large caramel lollipop that you sometimes ate over a couple of days.
There were also giant Sugar Daddies, which mostly existed as prizes. My big sister got her hands on one of those when she was about five, and I think it was still around when she left for college, carefully left on a dish in her room so it wouldn’t become permanently affixed to the bureau.
You’d buy those, or licorice or Turkish Taffy, when you went to a movie, because they wouldn’t be gone by the end of the previews and the cartoon. Even Mason Dots were chewier then and would get you into the first reel.
Good’n Plentys were the ultimate movie candy: Chewy licorice wrapped in an impenetrable hard candy shell. You might even walk out of the movie with a few left.
Then the Candymaking Cabal got together and decided to make everything soft, and when someone said, “But they’ll all be gone by the time the cartoon is over,” they replied, “Okay, no more cartoons at movies. Happy now?”
In any case, Big Nate lives in a pretty ritzy neighborhood, because Halloween candy comes in two categories: The Good Kind, with lots of chocolate, and The Cheap Shit, a selection of bizarre stuff you’ve never seen on the shelf and wouldn’t buy if you did.
Anyway, I like the way his grandparents respond with gentle, patronizing sarcasm, though it’s too bad Lincoln Peirce drew this a few weeks ago, before “Okay boomer” hit, because he could have just had them respond, “Okay junior.”
Which is not simply “patronizing” but actively condescending and insulting. And which I plan to work into my routine until this “Okay boomer” thing has passed.
Though, in fact, they wouldn’t have said it because they actually like the little fellow, which puts this strip at odds with nearly everything funny in our culture.
People look at our politics and ask why we’re so divided, but our sitcoms consist almost entirely of people saying incredibly hostile, unpleasant things to each other while the laugh track roars.
Though the fact that I’m not into meanness doesn’t keep me from enjoying the slightly macabre, as does Lincoln Peirce.
This, of course, is a variation on Ben Jonson’s 1607 smash hit, Volpone, in which a greedy old nobleman attempts to fool his even-more-greedy potential heirs into thinking they will get to adopt his dog if they help him rake the lawn.
Also on the topic of dogs, Dog Eat Doug ricochets back and forth between totally surreal dog-and-cat fantasies and absolutely realistic dog behavior gags, today’s being squarely in the latter camp.
Our park, not being a fenced place with a lot of rules, but rather a very large grassy spread with bushes and forest and a river, the dogs frequently come up with objects of fascination which they pass around in this manner, while their owners scream “Leave it! Leave it!”
Which is silly because the owners rarely have any idea what the thing is, or, more often, was, either.
And which is even sillier because some of the most avid chewers of mysterious objects are the same ones whose owners pay exorbitant prices for boutique dog foods that are gluten-free or vegan or something or other.
Dogs by nature are not simply omnivores but scavengers, and it’s perfectly natural for them to eat mysterious objects, although, if something is truly disgusting, it’s also natural for them to roll on it.
They do this to disguise their scent.
Which goes back to the fact that, 15,000 years ago, ancient antelope were terrified of the packs of Irish Setters that roamed the Pleistocene savannahs, but were not at all bothered by the suspicion that a dead, extraordinarily rotten fish might be sneaking up on them.
The Persistence of Memory
My immediate, first, unthinking response to this Half Full was “Tiparillo?”
It’s certainly not intentional: Maria Scrivan can’t possibly be old enough to remember those ads, but, then again, she’s not old enough to remember cigarette girls in nightclubs, either, though she probably sees them in noir movies.
I was thinking that my automatic response was a tribute to clever advertising, but, having done a little YouTube research, I guess the “clever” part of the campaign consisted of not being clever at all.
In any case, it sure worked, at least in implanting the phrase.
However, I don’t think any amount of persuasion could make people want to smoke those cheap little pseudostogies, which were, as suggested, neither cigars nor cigarettes, and certainly nothing a true Playboy would offer a pretty girl, though I’m sure the magazine was happy enough to accept their full-page, full-color ads.
Which Mad Magazine, and Jo Anne Worley, were happy enough to mock with something more realistic.
Juxtaposition of the Day
Gather ye rosebuds. I knew a rookie fastballer in the majors who told of how an older pitcher taught him how to throw a change-up and a curve.
Because speed doesn’t last forever.
And, as the jocks say, Father Time is undefeated.