CSotD: Now for something completely different

I recently confessed a crush on Wallace the Brave (AMS)‘s mother, and yesterday’s final panel not only failed to diminish things but heightened it a bit. Anybody can be charming at dinner, but to be equally together at breakfast is the mark of quality, IMHO, and the sweats, tosseled hair and bunny slippers only enhance things.

The strip also reminds me that there is no tale so tall that young children will not believe it. Be careful.

That includes, as in this 2001 Arlo & Janis, the sin of casual misinformation which wasn’t intended to outlast the moment.

But it also includes, as in Wallace’s case, storytelling which you assume everyone can plainly tell is pure fantasy.

Early on, when firstborn was a babe in arms, I told the little boy across the street that we were a family of swans, transformed into human form, and that what appeared to be our baby was actually our father because we grew younger, not older, over time.

I thought it was clearly a joke, but later realized he thought it was real, which I attributed to his parents never taking the time to pull his leg with such stories.

However, the baby in that story turns 49 tomorrow and, over the intervening years, he and his younger brother have disclosed the number of nonsensical things I told them in jest which they absorbed as truth.

For the record, I never saved the life of the King of the Squirrels, he did not, in fact, reward me with the eternal friendship of all squirrels and the ability to understand their language, and, if he had, I doubt they would have had names like Steve and Bob.

And we will not extend this conversation further, but please feel free to ponder the folklore, fairy tales and other fantasies we tell our kids.


However, what goes around comes around, and this Pardon My Planet (KFS) brings to mind a conversation I had with my parents on October 5, 1970, when I was 20 and my father was 49.

There was nothing funny about this one.

I know the date because Janis Joplin had died the night before, and I’d heard the news while reluctantly driving back to college after a weekend with friends in Colorado. My little brother Tony, who was 17, had died in an auto accident in August, and so, while I wasn’t a huge Joplin fan, it seemed like one more clue that made me question soldiering on for that one more year of school.

I also knew that my father was deeply torn by the increasingly heartless demands of a steel company more concerned with raking off quick profits than with the good of our mining town, and by his role in the process.

So, when I told my folks I was dropping out of school for a year or two to write, I said to my father, “Tony never got to do the things he wanted to do with his life. When are you going to do the things you want to do with your life?”

Within a few weeks, he had left the steel company for a job in a school district where he could make a positive difference.

This is, of course, a reverse of the story in Pardon My Planet, but I prefer happy endings.

I only wish I didn’t think learning to suck it up and spend your life putting happiness second were not more typical of the lessons we pass from generation to generation.

Escape from the weight of your corporate logo. Or at least save your kids.


Today’s The Buckets (AMS) also brought back the past, but I could laugh at this one because I didn’t have to quit my job to escape the misery, though I happened to be the same age my dad was when he pulled the rip cord.

I took a job as an assistant to someone with the understanding that I’d replace her when she retired six months thence, but I’d been educational services director at another paper for seven years, so I needed to learn the new market but not a lot of new skills.

They were the longest six months of my life, because she intended that I continue the program absolutely unchanged, and, when I say that, I mean that, while she never told me how to work the vending machines, she did chew me out for collating a 36-page teaching guide by first assembling pages 1-18, then assembling pages 19-36 and combining the two, rather than putting them together 1-36 the proper way.

And so forth and so on.

Fortunately, I wasn’t the only person in the building marking the days until she retired, most of whom outranked us both.

Which still didn’t make it funny, but did make it bearable.


You’ll be relieved to know that this Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee (KFS) didn’t trigger any sermonettes on my part, though I certainly have worked with people who would rather fuss with new, hip, balky technology than just order a damn pizza.

Which I guess helped get us through the pandemic year, since I have hated video conferencing from the very start and would not have done well if I’d been forced to Zoom more than once or twice. I’d have screwed up the whole system.

At least with teleconferences, nobody could see how completely unattentive you were, and you could accomplish something else while they were droning on.

The other good thing being that not only did I retire just as the pandemic struck, but I did so with the programs I need on disk, not licensed on the cloud, and, while they’re not the latest versions, I don’t want all the bells and whistles anyway.

And wouldn’t know how to use them even if I could afford to be renting them.

Point is that, while I prefer margherita, pepperoni is fine if the alternative is toast that never happens.


And speaking of technology and geezers, let’s return to my favorite semi-hip geezer, whose hometown of Pass Christian was hit hard by Katrina but I hope is safer today, or he may indeed be seeing alligator lizards in the air.

Hang in, Jimmy.

Now here’s a (slightly) better earworm than “I’ve been to the desert on a song with two chords.”


7 thoughts on “CSotD: Now for something completely different

  1. “… there is no tale so tall that young children will not believe it.”

    At one point in time, I had my children firmly convince that once you’re a grownup, you’re allowed to break The Rules once a day.

    It was useful when, for example, they caught me eating ice cream for breakfast.

  2. @Douglas, if you’ve been reading Dick Tracy (GO Comics), they’ve recently introduced technology that would allow them to answer the easter question definitively.

    But instead they used it to make a family photo album for B.O. Plenty.

  3. When I read yesterday’s “Wallace” I was hoping it would show up here so more people could enjoy it !

  4. @Bob, If anything could definitively prove Easter, it would cause a war that would make all previous wars look like… Well, nothing would REALLY change, it would just be another group saying that everybody else is wrong and technology is bad, and so on, and so on, and so on.

  5. At some point, I’d like to do a full discursion on oral histories and folklore.

    A band in British Columbia traced their presence on the land to a story of a woman who fell in love with a magical bear. Her brothers objected and shot at the bear, who swept the top of a mountain off with his paw and killed them, burying the village. Archaeologists found evidence of a major mudslide with the remains of an ancient settlement under it, verifying their land claim without verifying the bear.

    Francis Yeats Brown wrote of India in the 30s that the stories of their religion were far more immediate than ours because they still lived the same lifestyles as the characters in those stories, while we were utterly removed from the deserts of 2000 years ago.

    Truth in these matters requires context.

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