CSotD: If you go right, you’ll be left

Today’s headline is from an old joke, one that struck me as funny at an age when I wasn’t quite old enough for more sophisticated wordplay:

Woman: Where is the platform for the 8 o’clock train?
Attendant: If you go left, you’ll be right.
Woman: Don’t be impertinent!
Attendant: All right. If you go right, you’ll be left.

Not all that rib-tickling, no, but I was much older before I understood the one about the girl who wore her socks inside out on hot days because it felt so good to turn the hose on her feet.

It’s all just my way to introduce Ann Telnaes’ cartoon of the Trump administration going down the drain and taking the country with him.

From her pen to God’s ears, and certainly current poll numbers — as well as the general tenor of comments on social media — suggest that whatever appeal Trump has had is fading.

However, there’s many a slip ‘twixt cup and lip, and this Rolling Stone article quotes a number of Republican campaign strategists as saying that, with things as dicey as they are, GOP candidates are forced to be loyal to Trump because losing even a couple of percentage points could cost them the election.

It’s a good read but not a particularly cheerful one, unless you were planning to go right but were afraid of being left.

And, while it might contradict Telnaes’ optimistic analysis that, if you go left, you’ll be right, it doesn’t contradict her point that Dear Leader is dragging Lady Liberty down with him, wherever he’s headed.


To be replaced, perhaps, by Scary Lucy in Dear Leader’s Garden of Appalling Art.


Jack Ohman has some additional nominees, all stalwart supporters of Dear Leader and thus deserving of inclusion, assuming construction moves more efficiently than his other major project, which may finally pick up steam and competence if Mexico agrees to pay for it to keep Covid-19 spreaders out.

Trump’s actual nominees are a mixed bag of good, bad and ugly, from founders like Washington and Jefferson to bizarre choices like Antonin Scalia and George Patton. To quote that linked article, “It’s the kind of list that could largely be gleaned from grade-school history books of the 1950s.”

He has both Columbus and Junipero Serra on his list, which should delight those who wish we could still enslave the natives, and he includes Harriet Tubman, which is nice, considering he’s blocked plans to put her on the $20 bill.

The impetus for all this, you may recall, was finding something to do with all those statues of traitors erected to help maintain Jim Crow and hype the myth of the Lost Cause.

People have said they should be put in museums, but, as noted here before, they’re too large and would overwhelm the rest of anyone’s collections of white supremacist memorabilia.

An outdoor garden of cheesy, inappropriate statues would, however, provide the same educational tourism opportunity as the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum, allowing people to learn mythology and folklore under the aegis of bad history.


Particularly if we brought in Richard Jackson’s “Bad Dog” megasculpture (which I happen to love) and mounted it on a track so it could slowly go around the Garden commenting on each of the exhibits in turn.

I also love, by the way, that that link includes “The meaning of the work.”

If you have to ask, bring an umbrella.

My attitude towards snobbery, and my affection for bad dogs, combine to bring us to


First Dog on the Moon’s joyous response to the recent discovery that the Merriam-Webster dictionary recognizes “irregardless” as a word, and you should absolutely click on that link and read the rest of the comic.

It’s not just that, like First Dog, I use the word for the express purpose of giving grammar fundamentalists a case of the heebie-jeebies.

It’s that my white-haired, 96-year-old mother, who has a first-class education and a fine understanding of language, has always used it sarcastically, because she’s not the type to say “Bullshit!” even when that is her reaction.

“Bullshit,” by the way, is also in the Merriam-Webster.

That doesn’t make it a nice word, but it does indicate that it’s part of our language.

Or, at least, mine.


Which brings us to today’s Candorville, in which Lemont intrudes on a conversation to insist that the proper term is getting your “ducts,” not “ducks,” in a row.

I don’t know if Darrin Bell was purposely making Lemont seem like Cliff Claven — sometimes in error, never in doubt — but his etymology is, how you say, “boolsheet.”

The website “Using English” backs up his explanation. Sort of. But then it says “This is an alternative version and explanation for the idiom ‘Get your ducks in a row’.”

Which it then also defines, and, as the Pointed Man said, a point in every direction is the same as no point at all.

World Wide Words provides a more decisive explanation for the term, “ducts in a row” being, based on my quick research, used primarily as a pun by people who clean furnaces for a living.

To which I would add — not that anyone asked, but it always seems to come up — that there is a type of heavy-duty cotton cloth called “duck,” and, if you cut it into long strips and add an adhesive, you have “duck tape.”

Which is very useful for a variety of purposes, but, if you put it on heating ducts rather than cold-return ducts, it will fail.

You need a metal-based tape for that.

So you can call it “duct tape” if you’d like, but “duck tape” is the original usage.


And, sorry, Lemont, but fish, while they don’t lie down and close their eyes, most assuredly do rest in a sleeplike state, according to NOAA.

Not to be confused with “Noah,” who built the enormous ark referenced above and who, according to Eddie Izzard — my go-to source for interpreting Biblical texts — had trouble getting his ducks in a row.


9 thoughts on “CSotD: If you go right, you’ll be left

  1. If the Republicans get trounced mightily in November (which I’m praying daily that they do), I wonder if it will lead to any soul-searching at all within the party.

    I’m thinking back to the first time Obama was elected—I felt at the time that the outcome was as much the Republicans losing as much as him winning. The Republicans were still carrying 8 years of an unpopular president, and they decided for some reason to make Sarah Palin their star. Myself, who had been a Republican voter from my teen years decided that year that this was not my father’s party anymore—unless they stopped the detour to Crazyville, I was done with them.

    And yet, to hear my conservative FB acquaintances and RW talking heads tell it, they did nothing wrong—Obama was elected with nothing but a combination of white guilt and Jedi mind tricks.

    I keep holding out hope that someone higher up in the party might realize that, no, you actually can’t run on conspiracy theories and racism (oh, sorry, “economic anxiety”) forever and try to be an actual functional political instead of the nutjob cult that they’ve become. But that’s probably silly on my part.

  2. We used to get appealing holiday cards from Manco Duck at the office I worked at, and I’d save them. They had those sparkly-eyed ducks on them. I learned later that the company leans way right and supports RW causes. But the ducks are still cute.

    Walking down the hall at school one day, I saw that the sculptor chosen to replace the Hideous Lucy was one of our alums: almost a Brush With Greatness there!

  3. Then there’s gaffer’s tape, which is better than duct/duck tape for most uses, and leads right smack to an etymologic dead end.

  4. I’ll be damned! I’ve always believed the term came from duckpins, you know, something like “get your remaining pins in a single row, and you can knock them all down with a single roll.” Not that plausible, now that I think about it, which puts it in pretty much the same category as the other explanations.

  5. Gaffer’s tape is as easy to trace as it is to take off without damaging the surface. A gaffer is an electrician on a movie set; gaffer’s tape is used to temporarily fasten down wires so they aren’t a tripping hazard.

    As for ducks in a row, I yield to Robert McCloskey and his associates, Mr. and Mrs. Mallard. (God send nobody decides to tear down their statue!)

  6. Shooting galleries (the kind that used to be at county fairs and old-timey arcades, not the kind doubling as public schools) used to “have their ducks in a row.”-

  7. I have been reading it for a while, and it seems as though your cartoons are all very virulentely mean spirited anti trump. Why don’t you consider having a pro trump pro conservative cartoonist on just to keep things balanced fair and even?
    As it is, it just seems like angry pouting.

  8. Your cartoons and opinions do not change the contributors to history.
    But you probably agree that historical decisions
    have much to do with your opportunity to make a mockery of of our past, and soon to be, history.

  9. Call me an old production nerd, but I consider gaffers’ tape one of humanities’ truly redemptive ideas. Game-changing!

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