CSotD: Bans, Banns and other taxing despair

I really wanted to decompress from political stress with some funny stuff today, but just when I thought I was out, Mike Thompson pulls me back with today’s Grand Avenue (AMS).

I guess there may be some comfort in knowing that there’s nothing new in all this, and that faint-hearted school administrators have been shutting down productions of Rent — and a whole lot of other plays — for several years now.

That 2016 link lists way too many plays that had then been banned, and says of this one:

Note that bans have included a bowdlerized high school version — that being a particularly apt adjective — which, as this interview suggests, points less towards the admittedly adult script and more towards not wanting anyone to say “gay” well before Ron DeSantis got his tighty-whities in a knot.

I suppose mature content bothers some people, but, for my part, I can’t imagine anything more grueling than to sit through one of those cheesy senior plays written so that everybody gets a role but nobody can find either wit or a coherent plot in the thing.

My uncle was in something called “The Funny Brats,” which wasn’t even slightly, but our school hired a new music teacher a few years later, such that my sister was in “Death Takes A Holiday,” my girlfriend followed with a role in “Little Mary Sunshine” and the next year I got to play Koko in “The Mikado.”

The only objectionable adult aspect in any of them coming when one of my sister’s classmates came home drunk after the cast party and blamed it on a spiked drink in the production. His parents trusted the lad and complained loudly to the school, convinced that one on-stage sip had left him stumbling several hours later.

As Jon Lovitz would say, “Acting!”


In other sources of despair, Monty (AMS) is one of several strips saluting tax time, and the implied plug for TurboTax is not badly placed, since that software guided me through several years of freelancing, which included Schedule C and Schedule SE and charting what I’d paid collaborators and how much I felt I could write off my Internet charges as “business” and so forth.

This 1979 Shoe was on the wall by my desk for years, but I wasn’t foolish enough to take it as serious advice. More as general guidance.

But this year, being semi-retired and down to a couple of Form 1099-NECs, my likely tax burden wasn’t worth ponying up for TurboTax and so, instead, I took advantage of the free filing programs the IRS endorses.

They guide you through the process, but I was dismayed that the one I chose said I owed a couple of grand in taxes, so I bailed out and chose a different one, which then told me that I was entitled to a seven dollar refund.

I won’t say which one I used to file with in the end, but the fact that they were both recommended by the IRS makes me wonder how much money the feds get versus how much they’re supposed to get.

Not that the gummint would ever screw up and lead anyone astray, mind you.


Speaking of Shakespeare (well, linking of him) as we were, Rhymes With Orange (KFS) brings up a chilling threat, or at least a chilling one for those of us whose early scribblings are safely tucked away in bankers boxes under the bed.

I’ve said, and it’s been seconded by others, that I’m grateful there was no Internet back then because I thought I was pretty good a long time before I was even pretty close.

However, that was long ago. Mothers today have to find other ways to shame their neglectful progeny, since they’ve likely already posted every callow thing they’ve ever done.


Further on the topic of drama, I saw Once Upon A Mattress with Imogene Coca and Edward Everett Horton in Toronto in 1961, and immediately stopped taking the original folk story seriously.

Today’s Bizarro (KFS) drives home my main objection, which is that — chickpea or regular pea — I think the prince’s mother would have done him a better favor by using the test to eliminate rather than to confirm applicants for True Love.

This sure ain’t my idea of Happily Ever After.

And this historic note: I read a women’s health book from the mid-19th century and learned that terms like “seed” for sperm and “fertility” for women came from a belief that the sperm was self-contained, and that the mother’s traits came from the fertile bed in which the seed was planted.

The context there was a warning that, if you had pre-marital sex with a Black man, one of his seeds might pop up years later, the way volunteer veggies can appear in a garden, after you had properly married a white guy.

Which seems silly today, but does explain why it was important that the King’s bride be a virgin, given that her role was to pass along the royal lineage and we wouldn’t want some long-forgotten commoner’s seed to sprout and disrupt God’s plan.


Fortunately, while good companionship may not have been part of royal marriages, it looms large amongst us commoners, as Wallace the Brave (AMS) often makes clear.

There is no dowry large enough, nor family connection valuable enough, to equal having a helpmeet who adores you at these moments.


The loss of love may not, with a little time and some further reflection, rise to the level of despair exhibited by Nietzsche in Existential Comics, mind you, though the real philosophical question is whether it qualified as love in the first place.

We’ve all debated that one. Often, and, alas, too rarely in dignified silence.


Twenty years ago, the late Margaret Shulock demonstrated the absolutely worst possible ending ever, with what I still consider the absolutely best Easter cartoon ever.

There’s nothing wrong with a little despair, so long as you only let it last a moment and manage to extract some good art from the dismal experience.

Which, going back to princesses and peas and mattresses, reminds me that, while Imogene Coca played the role of Princess Winnifred on tour, Carol Burnett originated it on Broadway and was nominated for a Tony.