CSotD: Harsh Realms and other delights

Wiley Miller aids the US Post Office in its hour of need with a cartoon bound to spark letters to the editor. What you might call a cataclysm.

I laughed, but I’m a dog owner and recovering Cat’olic, plus I’m only 70 and not yet in the furious-letter-writing demographic.

I like cats, but I don’t have one. Cats are the opposite of horses: A horse could be the wild, fifth-generation of an escaped Spanish pony and, within a few days of being captured, would decide it liked people and didn’t mind carrying them around on its back.

Even a cat born and raised in a palace will never adjust to the fact that it’s not out hunting, and if you scratch its belly long enough will decide to be wild and dig its claws into you. (See below)


Well, yes. There’s also the issue of shitting in the house, as this Off The Mark notes, though, granted, that’s not quite his point.

We had a cat for a decade or so, but he was an alley cat by birth and preferred to go out rather than use a litter box, which worked because we lived in town.

Out in the sticks, a cat that goes outside is likely to encounter owls, foxes, hawks and other gourmets.

Which is only fair, after all, but most of us prefer that “The Circle of Life” be played out anonymously, not by animals with names.


Little danger of that happening to Ludwig, the most realistic cat in all of comicdom.  He only pops up occasionally in Arlo & Janis, but he makes it count.

Yes, a realistic cat indeed.

Sometimes a little too realistic.


Big Girls Don’t Need to Cry

Big Nate is doing a short guy/tall girl series, which is a staple of comedy that kind of puzzles me, mostly because I’m astonished to find out how many people really do freak out over it.

My group in high school not only didn’t mind tall girls but when Ginny, who was 5’11” or so, walked into the bar with some friends, we gathered around and I don’t remember her friends, whether they were cute or even how many of them there were.

Ginny was a babe, and, in those days, a tall girl who didn’t hunch over was sending a message of cool confidence. We were entranced.

Granted, Randy, who ended up dating her quite seriously for quite a while, was 6’2″ or so, but that wasn’t our choice. That was hers.

And I have heard young women of her height, when they see a six-foot-plus fellow with a short girlfriend, grouse: “Waste of a tall guy.”

Of course, a staple of this particular comic strip is that Nate will screw it up.

Poor little fella.


Speaking of cool, confident, good-looking women with whom you ought not to screw things up, Tank McNamara is about to propose to his tennis pro girlfriend.


Changing times

Took me a bit of a shift to realize that, in 1977, Sam Driver couldn’t turn to a computer and check out this “Charles Kosell.”

Detectivating was real work in those days.


Meanwhile, in the 2020 version, Sam’s stepdaughter, Sophie, is getting her head shrunk telemedically because of the lockdown.


Fun with media

Brewster Rockit triggers not just a pet peeve but a bit of personal PTSD today.

There was a period during which I was assigned to write a weekly feature in the paper that was either “for” or “about” young people between 14 and 20, that “either” being where we went up on the rocks.

Left to myself, I did stories “for” young people, in which I followed a pair of German exchange students around and compared their high schools to ours, or looked into the insane flood of mail you get if you check off a box on the SATs that says you haven’t chosen a college yet or I talked to a young Colombian refugee whose family was stuck in a motel waiting for their hearing across the border in Canada.

But I also got assignments from my editor “about” young people, to look into the popularity of “Dirty Dancing” among teens, which the video rental places denied but we did the story anyway, dropping our demographic to 11 to fit the only example of such a fan that we could find.

Or I got to interview the cast who did the hosting at new midnight showings of “Rocky Horror,” who, it turned out, had seen the movie fewer than a dozen times each rather then the hundreds I had expected.

I became convinced that, if Newsweek ran a story saying that all the kids were shaving their heads and painting them green, I’d be sent out to track down green-headed kids and would find out that they were Newsweek subscribers.

Which brings us to “harsh realm,” “wack slacks” and “swingin’ on the flippety-flop.”

In 1992, the New York Times assigned one of those insufferable stories about the kids and their crazy slang, which normally end up with lists of things the kids stopped saying six months ago.

Only this time, the reporter got hold of a prankster in Seattle who provided a list of things the kids had never said at all.

When Baffler broke the story, in an article called “Harsh Realm, Mr. Sulzberger,” the NYTimes denied the blunder.

Baffler wrote back standing by their reporting and adding that ““When The Newspaper of Record goes searching for the Next Big Thing and the Next Big Thing piddles on its leg, we think that’s funny.”

As it certainly was.

You can read all about it in this story from the Ringer, which has several links, including to that Baffler report as well as to the original NYTimes piece.


And in a related piece, Boing Boing reports that there is about to be launched an animated, updated version of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers.

“Related” because, as Boing Boing correctly notes, it’s extremely lame and tries way, way too hard to be hip. But judge for yourself.

But a warning: I’m still trying to forget I saw it once.


6 thoughts on “CSotD: Harsh Realms and other delights

  1. Good ‘un today. The US version of “The Office” had a running gag in which the black warehouse manager, Darryl, taught “ghetto street slang” to clueless office manager Michael Scott so he could look cool, but Darryl made it all up on the spot. So Michael walked around spouting “Dinkin flicka” and “Going Mach five,” looking like a fool, while Darryl gave little smirks to camera.

    The twist is that Darryl’s inventions were added to the Urban Dictionary, so although there’s probably nobody actually using them, they did kinda cross over into real life.

  2. I was part of a meeting between Gilbert Shelton and a group of Vancouver animators many years ago, to pitch him on the idea of an animated Freak Brothers show.
    Nothing came of it. We heard he’d turned down a few other pitches, too.
    I wonder what was appealing enough about THIS offering..

  3. Having been party to a Freak Brothers movie attempt I have been deeply disappointed by the current releases.

  4. Thanks for putting the Mothers of Invention’s Who needs the Peace Corps at the end of your piece. I still remembered every note and every word just like I did when I was a kid.

  5. Bruce always enjoyed CSOTD – for the commentary more than the actual comics, I suspect. This post, with the FFFBs *and* Zappa, would have thrilled him.

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