CSotD: Post-holiday Flashbacks

Between our shifting servers and an apparent post-holiday sag in general, this has become a good day to indulge in some favorite comics from years past.

This Rhymes with Orange (KFS) came at a particularly propitious time, because not only did I live just around the corner from such a house, but I recall that it fell shortly before the time that GE, having thrown up in the Hudson River, began fighting to avoid having to clean up the toxic sludge they’d left behind.

So not only did this particular set of neighbors have a ghastly garish display lighting up the place, but other neighbors had yard signs declaring the right of free enterprise to poison our waters. It was the first example I knew of using yard signs to intimidate those who dared to disagree with you.

It all seemed right in the away-in-a-manger spirit of the season!

FWIW, GE was eventually forced to do some remediation. It was a compromise: Cleaning up the Hudson was a vast project, but they got away with doing a half-vast job of it.

Here’s some more intentionally political humor from Boondocks (AMS), which burst upon the scene with an uncompromising look at race in America. It was not the first cartoon to do this, but other Black cartoonists like Ollie Harrington had conducted the conversation within the relative privacy of the Black press, while Aaron McGruder brought his fury into the mainstream.

It was a breakthrough, not only making what had been a private conversation public, but forcing non-black readers, and Black readers used to accommodation, to confront themselves. McGruder apparently tired of the demands of daily syndication and went on to other projects, but Boondocks left a mark on the comic pages.

Another gone-but-not-forgotten strip was Helen, Sweetheart of the Internet, which had a legendary run as one of the early webcomics but faded in syndication, at least in part because of the changes required for mass market distribution.

But it retained more spunk than a lot of its competitors, and I particularly enjoyed this one because, like Doug, I graduated from a college where my attendance was somewhat virtual and increasingly sparse after the first two years. And, no, it didn’t really bother me that Doug was something of a doofus.

There was a standup who used the phrase “I never let school interfere with my education,” but, when I tried to figure out who it was, I discovered that Mark Twain didn’t say it but someone else did quite a few years before Short Attention Span Theater brought wiseassery to the nation. And several people, including a couple of comedians, have adopted the expression.

Anyway, I didn’t let classes get in my way, either, but, as Yogi said, “You can observe a lot by watching.”

True Story: Senior year, my seminar came up with a rule that any question that was not based on the first third of a book, or its final chapter, was unfair. Not all of us were kidding.

I also feel a kinship with The Norm, a strip that its creator, Michael Jantze, likened to jazz, citing Annie Hall and It’s Gary Shandling’s Show as his inspiration.

Like Gary Shandling, the Norm may have been too smart for the room, but it was lovely while it lasted, and, in this case, I particularly appreciated that Boy Norm, Norm’s inner voice, not only knew that the Star Wars franchise had wandered off course but dared to say so.

Agnes (Creators) was a delightful strip, largely because both she and Trout led wretched trailer-park lives that rarely got to them.

They went back and forth between innocent naivete and sharp wisdom, and, just as Boy Norm recognized Return of the Jedi as a two-hour long toy commercial, Agnes spotted the falsity of the key Wise Saying in Forrest Gump.

As a parent, I objected to sitting through a two-hour toy commercial with my kids, but it was better than sitting through two hours of inspirational glurge, and not just because we’ve all seen the map inside a box of chocolates, even if we haven’t memorized all the swirls and shapes.

Juxtaposition of the Technology

On the Fastrack — KFS

Arlo and Janis — AMS

On the Fastrack began with a focus on technology, though in recent years it has shifted more to a general discussion of the business world. In this case, it makes a nice contrast with an A&J of several years later, because it indulges somewhat insider tech humor with a less sophisticated issue.

I suppose the pair represent “Every time we come up with something foolproof, they come up with a bigger fool,” because there are now a couple of failsafe ways to retrieve a carelessly saved file, but nobody over 35 is capable of consistently handling a smartphone without messing up.

Though mine is easy to deal with because, for some reason, it either goes into “Do Not Disturb” mode or shuts itself off entirely. But only if you touch it. And since I don’t much like talking on the phone, I’m okay with that.

I switched from a flip phone, which consistently worked, to my current smart phone shortly before I retired. Excellent timing.

Doonesbury (AMS), at its height, punctured foibles on both the micro and macro level, and much of its appeal was that you never knew which it was going to go after on a given morning.

But this Sunday strip earned a place on my office wall, by which I mean my home office, not my work office, because I found myself wishing I had Honey’s wisdom in dealing with more than one employer.

I certainly had bosses who were anything but stable, practical and consistent, if not in my direct chain of command, just a notch or so a step above them.

Though I don’t think I ever worked for someone so thick that they wouldn’t have decoded the sarcasm if I’d had this up over my desk at work.

Though I did have this Calvin and Hobbes (AMS) panel over my desk at one job, and nobody ever took it personally. If they’d had that level of self-awareness, I probably wouldn’t have needed it.

It was, BTW, inspiration for my escape, mind you, not self-pitying, self-indulgent continuing discontent.

8 thoughts on “CSotD: Post-holiday Flashbacks

  1. Thanks for sharing the info on The Catholic Cartoon. I’ve ordered copies for our priest and others at our church.

    1. The meet-the-parents and score a reactor thread? Yes he’s been wrestling with the Important Questions for quit a while. It has now come to a socratic dialog in front of a piano between the two least morally ambiguous characters in the strip?

      If only we could see a debate between Sam Starfall and Dr. Bowman!

  2. I have long treasured the Animals ‘we gotta get out of this place’ as a reminder of the insanity engendered by the foolishness of human society. I had a vintage 2002 phone that worked perfectly until telecom corporate greed mandated (about a year ago) that it would no longer work on any of their networks. Smart phones are NOT smart, just quirky. Technology is a tool, not a panacea. And, i don’t want to spend 30% of my time trying to learn all the bizarre twists and turns of new corporate spyware devices. I’ve created a variety of multimedia offerings that have been lauded by people in 4 countries, even by university professors. I did it using a 2003 computer that I restored and 20+ year old software. Am I a tech curmudgeon? Maybe. Are our creations still relevant? To a number of thoughtful people, yes. Still, the answer to where we go to ‘get outta this place’ eludes us. Maybe the answer is within, not without.

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