CSotD: The laughter of old men

It occurred to me yesterday that I’d missed the anniversary of Comic Strip of the Day, which began 13 years ago Monday with this Ink Pen, a strip about a talent agency for cartoon animals which is no longer active but can still be read at GoComics.

It also occurred to me that I don’t much care how long I’ve been doing this and that, even if I did, one only celebrates anniversaries divisible by five.

I also noted with pleasure yesterday that, when Lebron James broke Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s scoring record, Kareem was present and came out of the stands to congratulate him.

I’ve never been a basketball fan, but Kareem has always been about a lot more than that and we’re of the same vintage, so I was particularly struck with his remarks on the moment.

The only time I ever think of the record is when someone brings it up. I retired from the NBA 34 years ago. For the past 20 years, I’ve occupied myself with social activism, my writing career, and my family—especially my three grandchildren. If I had a choice of having my scoring record remain intact for another hundred years or spend one afternoon with my grandchildren, I’d be on the floor in seconds stacking Legos and eating Uncrustables.

Grantland Rice famously wrote “For when the One Great Scorer comes to mark against your name, He writes not that you won or lost, but how you played the game!” but I think the real mark in your favor is when you finally stop keeping score at all.

And simply enjoy the things that make you happy.

So let’s move on:

The Buckets (AMS) cast me back, because most of my schooling was based on my having been told to be there.

What I remember of first grade is that I was terrified — with good reason — of Sister Theophilus, but had no sense of why I was there beyond the fact that the bus dropped me off in the morning and I had to stay until it took me home again in the afternoon.

I finally overcame the dilemma my senior year in college by accidentally living through the Student Dream in real life.

I went to my first seminar of the fall, but skipped the next one and then, when I showed up for the third session, the room was empty. They’d moved and I had no idea where they’d gone.

So I dropped out of school and went to Colorado, where I wrote a bad novel and married a good woman.

I hope Toby is a little faster on the uptake than I was, but I’m confident he’ll get there eventually.

Meanwhile, the dog in Bliss (Tribune) ponders the meaning of it all.

I’ve told my dog that I’m planning to scrapbook it for her, which seems to satisfy her despite my plainly depositing in the bin by the parking lot and her being far too young to remember a dozen years ago when everyone was furiously scrapbooking everything.

Then Marie Kondo told us to throw it all out and now she has decided we shouldn’t.

This is why you should not try to keep score and mark records: Deep inside, we all know what’s in the bag.

Juxtaposition of the Day

(Non Sequitur — AMS)

(F Minus — AMS)

There’s a “Pay Me Now or Pay Me Later” aspect to this pairing. Wiley is right that there have always been, and always will be, deniers of the obvious. And, when I say “obvious,” I mean as obvious as people in the delta at Bangladesh living up to mid-calf in water and the nation of Indonesia moving its capital inland before Jakarta completes the process of sinking into the Indian Ocean.

It will, granted, take a little longer for the water to rise above the tops of Manhattan’s buildings, but New York City is preparing to protect the financial district from rising sea levels and increasing storms and, yes, it has occurred to me that, elsewhere in the nation, it’s not the stockbrokers who wind up in the flood zones.

Some folks get seawalls, some folks get sandbags. Empty sandbags. Bring your own shovel.

First Dog on the Moon points out that, while climate change may prove disastrous for the rest of us, it may indeed assist octopi in making coochy-coochy and it’s an ill wind that blows no good. The report that inspired Brenda the Civil Disobedience Penguin is very real and, as First Dog notes, amazing, but it’s of little comfort to anyone not planning on becoming an octopus.

Though, as Stephen Collins points out, you’ve also got the choice of simply walking over the top of those rising waters.

All it takes is determination, hard work and the right family connections.

The Nepo Baby conversation is very strange indeed, starting with the fact that we’re having it now, as if it were a fresh topic.

I like and admire Marlo Thomas, but, even 50-some years ago when I was barely a teenager, I winced when I read an interview in which she said that being Danny’s daughter only got her foot in the door and she still had convince producers to greenlight “That Girl.”

Getting your foot in the door is the hard part.

A few years later, when I was having no luck selling the bad novel I’d written in Colorado, I read a very similar first novel that was a Literary Guild selection.

Like my book, it involved young college students in a doomed romantic relationship and, also like my book, it sucked.

But unlike my book, its author was the son both of the head of a major publishing company and of the editor of a major book review, and so he didn’t have to convince anyone that he was as talented as Marlo Thomas, nor did he have to turn water into wine.

My issue with Nepo Babies, understand, is not that Marlo got that critical interview.

My problem is knowing that it’s stupid to argue “Since you published his truly lousy novel, you should also publish my truly lousy novel.”

Howsoever, at this stage of life, my main frustration is that my grandchildren have outgrown Uncrustables and Legos.

6 thoughts on “CSotD: The laughter of old men

  1. That you remember Love is amazing, and that album, is even more amazing. Such an excellent group. I have them all. Enjoy your CSotD column immensely. Thanks for it.

  2. If you tried to explain that “First Dog” to a rightwing climate change denier they’d just laugh. I find it fascinating but deniers would find it too complicated.

  3. Being of Kareem’s vintage (like me) means you probably remember SI cover photos and stories about gangly Lew Alcindor vs. Elvin Hayes. We lived for those weekly editions.

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