CSotD: Friday Follies

Tank McNamara (AMS) is willing to keep the Saudi sportswashing effort in front of the public, though I get a strong feeling that money talks and nobody cares, which I suppose wouldn’t bother me so much if so many commentators who went ballistic over Biden’s visit to Jedda hadn’t fallen silent over the LIV golf tournaments.

It’s not so much that the Saudis wouldn’t recognize that joke as it is that a lot of Americans wouldn’t, either.

Show us the money.


The Barn (AMS) strikes closer to home. There were, indeed, times when, as a reporter, you took information from an officer who had not yet transcribed his notes and turned his scribbles into verified facts. The result would be that, when the final report came in, you’d have a quarrel with your editor over whether it should be a “correction” or a “clarification,” since you’d simply reported what you were told.

We used “according to police” a lot in those days, but the problems mostly occurred when you had a late-night incident just before press time, and had to take whatever you could get on the fly, with no time for revisions.

Today, thanks to the no-deadlines school of journalism, the urgent need to get the story on-line first means a whole lot more of these screw-ups, and, trust me, a mistake can make it halfway ’round the world just as quickly as a deliberate lie.

As the punchline says, we’d better get used to it.


Over at Between Friends (KFS), Susan is getting ready to start her new job at Shareen’s start-up, where she will be working for someone roughly her daughter’s age and among similarly young co-workers.

It reminds me of when, at 56, I was being interviewed for an editor’s position by a publisher who was about 15 years my junior. He asked, “How do you think you’d feel about working for someone who’s younger than you?”

“At this stage, what choice to I have?”

I got the job and we had a blast.

Lighten up, Susan. You’ll be fine.

And I got a laugh out of this Jonesy cartoon, but there’s a grain of truth in there somewhere. The horses in the American West were often referred to as ponies because they were the descendants of small, hardy horses from North Africa and southern Spain. The horses brought in later from the East were larger.

There was a Lakota leader named “American Horse,” and it seems fair to assume that he — or at least the male forebear who gifted him the name — was a large man.


I’ve got no political musings nor historical trivia to add to this Mr Boffo, but I will note that the stink lines coming up from the former sushi greatly add to the humor.


Joe Martin turned in a better-than-average week, and this Mr Boffo took me a minute, because my eyes went straight from Kong to the speaker without taking in the entire scene. The momentary pause, of course, made the gag that much funnier.


Macanudo (KFS) is one of those strips that people who long to see Dagwood hang off the gutters again really hate.

Some days, it’s simply a fun bit of illustration, and then, other times, he drops a chunk of eternal wisdom on you, like this, and the fact that the cat is thinking of a completely different David Copperfield only adds to the idea that people really do bring their own feelings and experience to a book, because, yeah, they can also drift far from the original source material.

Which, by the way, is why most “Community Reads” books are packed with obvious morals that nobody would possibly misconstrue. People who organize these things love morals.

One of my tasks in working with young writers was to persuade them that — regardless of the demands made upon them in school — not every novel has a moral.

After years of having literary messages shoved down their throats, it was part of our basic training to persuade them that sometimes a novel is just exciting or interesting or fun.


My goal as editor of young book and film critics was to get them to unclench and be the best of the seven billion, not the most pretentious of the few, as seen in Pearls Before Swine (AMS).

I’ve long been shutting off “Fresh Air” when Terry’s interview ends and they switch to reviews that try to out-literary the literarians. There are too many books published that feel like they were extruded from writers workshops rather than written by the spur of a creative mind, and extruded writers’ workshop style reviews only perpetuate the problem.

What was nice about Ebert & Siskel was that it was just two smart guys talking about movies. Their purpose was to tell you about the movie, not about how smart they were.

Give me the seven billion and I’ll sort them out for myself.


For instance, I have nothing to say about any symbolism, verisimilitude or pathetic fallacies in this Wallace the Brave (AMS), though I’m sure there is probably a whole lot of each of them. Spud is probably a Christ figure, too, while Rose functions as a Greek chorus.

And, of course, Wallace is a tragic hero, on accounta he lost the whole bucket.

There’s a dissertation lurking in those three panels.

For someone else.


More cinematic humor over at Brewster Rockit (Tribune) this week, with a series of gags about At-Ats.

There’s nothing funny about At-Ats, and I say that as someone who, as a young father, brought his boys to the next exciting Star Wars movie only to realize a few minutes into it that I’d paid for them to watch a 90-minute toy commercial.

I have no idea why the Evil Empire, given its technical ability to make things that float above the surface, would bother to make a slow, clumping, top-heavy weapons platform, but I do understand why toy manufacturers would, though I managed to avoid buying one.

Instead, our house was full of action figures and random pieces of what was, for a brief, shining moment, an Ewok Village.

And broken glass, because I’d never deprive my kids of fun!


4 thoughts on “CSotD: Friday Follies

  1. >>After years of having literary messages shoved down their throats, it was part of our basic training to persuade them that sometimes a novel is just exciting or interesting or fun.<<

    In my son's first year English class in undergrad (a few years ago now), he told me they were dissecting a comic and trying to decide what deep, underlying message the cartoonist was metaphorically trying to express. After growing up with a cartoonist mom with a 7 day per week comic feature, he said he had to bite his tongue from saying, "They probably had a deadline and just had to get something down on paper!!"

    He gave up on English and went with Poli Sci.

    (Thanks, Mike!)

  2. In Wallace the Brave, the underlying symbolic allegory is of Kevin from The Office and his huge bucket of chili from that cold open.


  3. Sandra Bell-Lundy – just a fan note here ! And as a junior high English teacher for years, your point is well taken !

  4. But Mark, don’t forget the obvious allusions to the Three Stooges short “Tassels in the Air,” in which the boys work as painters with much comedic bucket choreography. Subverting the trope is the Harlem Globetrotters’ bucket gag, in which a pail that the audience expects to be full of water is actually full of confetti that is thrown into the bleachers to much hilarity.

    Other antecedents clearly include the Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919, and, possibly, Moses carrying the 15 Commandments down Mt. Sanai. “Fifteen? TEN! Ten Commandments!” Indeed, rather than Spud being a Christ figure, I’d argue he’s more Mosaic, for surely a crustacean in the hand is worth two in the surf.

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