CSotD: Things That Make You Say “Hmmm”

Sometimes you need a dose of silliness, and Jimmy Craig is just the one to deliver. This gag requires a little cultural literacy, because, first of all, you have to know who Jackson Pollock was, which isn’t all that esoteric though his paintings are.

Plus it adds another chuckle to know that the story of Sir Isaac Newton and the apple tree is a legend, not a fact, which makes this explanation of Pollock’s inspiration equally plausible.

The bonus being that it’s funny even if you didn’t know all that.

Same cartoonist comes back with a particularly good They Can Talk, since there is a lot of chatter on-line over that thing about whether a woman alone in the woods would rather run into a bear or a man.

It rather depends on which bear and what man. Black bears are best avoided, but they’re not particularly dangerous, while grizzlies are, at least in the same sense that moose are dangerous.

Moose are short-sighted and somewhat belligerent and I don’t know how well grizzlies can read eye charts but I do know they are quite different than blackies, who will generally retreat as long as you aren’t accidentally between mama and cubs.

There’s an old joke that you should carry bear spray when hiking and attach small bells to your gear so you make enough noise to avoid startling a bear. It goes on to say that you can tell what kind of bear poop you come across because black bear poop is full of berry seeds while grizzly poop smells like bear spray and is full of little bells.

Meanwhile, I don’t know about returning wallets, but if you leave food in your car, a blackie will break in and completely redecorate the interior.

Albeit with a bear’s sense of design.

The Other Coast (Creators) illustrates the interplay of wilderness and civilization that can bring bears and people into conflict, though I see enough pictures of black bears on porches that I don’t know that they’re as traumatized by it all as are, for instance, cougars, who can come into violent conflict with people who build homes in what had been wilderness.

Some animals — raccoons, skunks, coyotes, deer — adapt well to encroachment, and meanwhile human loss of connection to the natural world results in a population that believes you can tip over sleeping cows and who try to pose for photos with short-sighted, belligerent bison in Yellowstone.

Since cows don’t sleep standing up, they’re not much of a threat, but ignorance is a threat on several levels, to both humans and animals.

When Theodore Roosevelt was police commissioner in New York City, he used to pass out nature books to homeless kids, in hopes they’d be inspired to get out into the natural world a little.

It doesn’t seem to have worked all that well, but he did what he could and we should, too.

Speaking, as we were, of cultural literacy, Frazz (AMS) offers a riff on Heraclitus, who said “You cannot step into the same river twice,” because both man and river will have changed.

My favorite example of Caulfield’s objection is The Sun Also Rises, which I thought was romantic and wonderful at 20. When I reread it at 40, I still found it brilliant but despised its self-absorbed, thoughtless characters, and I would much rather run into a grizzly on a hike than Brett Ashley on a date.

The book itself hadn’t changed, of course, but it’s a mark of great literature to interact with the reader at that level. By contrast, I’ve reread the Hornblower saga and it brought back a pleasant sense of who I was at 14 when I first encountered it. It’s fun stuff, it’s not great literature.

Nothing wrong with fun, but, as Caulfield correctly suggests, sequels seek to connect with an unchanging audience. Well, I still like cotton candy, but I think it was better when it was fresh-spun, before they began pre-packaging it in plastic sleeves.

I feel the same about sequels.

Juxtaposition of the Same Topic

A couple of examples from Monty (AMS)’s current story arc, which provides good laughs in and of itself but happens to come while I’m in another re-reading of War and Peace, which actually has changed because Russian literature is essentially untranslatable and I’m reading a third translation, so that both it and I are quite different yet again.

The coincidence here being that I’ve just gotten to the part where Pierre is under the impression that he has some great mission to accomplish, which conclusion required not only that he play solitaire until a game came out, but that he then explore numerology to confirm his cosmic selection. This required that he try several variations of his name until the letters added up to 666.

I don’t think it’s a spoiler for me to point out that nobody assassinated Napoleon, regardless of how many ways Pierre could think of to spell his name.

Or that such people are neither confined to the 19th century nor to works of fiction, literary or cartoonish.

Another Juxtaposition

Daddy’s Home — Creators

John Deering

Markstein and Rubino are right: Climate change is getting pretty hard to ignore and deny. We’ve got massive floods in Mexico, Tajikistan, southern Brazil and elsewhere, thousands dead in a New Guinea mudslide and a score killed in tornadoes here.

It’s not that such things have never happened — Bangladesh is frequently flooded by seasonal storms — but that we’ve never seen them occur so often and with such ferocity.

However, while Florida is not exempt from reality, their government is.

A low-lying state with a very long coastline would appear to be at greater than average risk, but that hasn’t stopped their duly-elected governor from stifling official discussion of the topic.

Though as Deering points out, his proclamations haven’t kept insurance companies from, you should pardon the expression, bailing out, nor has he stopped those that remain from raising their rates in line with increasing risk:

While I admire Wallace the Brave (AMS)’s ability to laugh in the face of impending disaster, Floridians should contemplate the fact that Spud has a better grasp on reality than does their governor.

And that once in a century is becoming once every few months.

7 thoughts on “CSotD: Things That Make You Say “Hmmm”

  1. Thank you, Mike! It’s so rewarding to be placed in such good company by such good company.

  2. While it is colorful, there’s something fishy about that Jackson Pollock comic. But, it is a matter of some gravity.

    Mike wrote: ‘Some animals — . . . adapt well to encroachment’
    I reply: But, humans don’t!

    Mike wrote: ‘I thought was romantic and wonderful at 20. When I reread it at 40, I still found it brilliant but despised its self-absorbed, thoughtless characters’
    I reply: excellent. You gain wisdom as you age. But, all the imbeciles around us who get older but never wiser.

    Mike wrote: ‘Russian literature is essentially untranslatable’
    I reply: that’s because of the use of idioms. However, in today’s world a lot of what is on social media is untranslatable because of the idiots.

    Speaking of idiots, Yes, as Deering points out, DeathSantis has banned the use of the phrase ‘climate change’. Forget coal in his stocking at xmas, I hope someone jams his favorite fuel, coal, in his mouth, soon.

    Wallace the Brave turns the tide and saves our sanity with some nautical humor.

    O.K. that’s enough, I promise not to clutter up your column any more (today, at least) And, thanks Mike for provoking more thought and laughter

  3. As to The Galveston Hurricane : “Isaac’s Storm” by Erik Larson lays out the weather bureau’s worst FUBAR in it’s history. (If you want a good – and eerie- fiction take on it “Widow’s Tears” by Susan Wittig Albert will do.)

    And no, I am still not gonna use what remains of my lifetime to read “War and Peace.”

  4. I think my favorite “you have to know who the artist is” joke is MST3k’s Paint-By-Numbers Mark Rothko

    (the joke being that Rothko’s works are often just a single block of solid color)

  5. I love the look of deep concentration on DeWitless’ face while he writes.


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