What’s Going On In The Phantom (weekdays)? Is The Phantom about to die? April – June 2021


Don’t be silly; The Phantom is immortal. That’s, like, the second thing you learn about the comic, after how he’s called The Ghost Who Walks. But yeah, there has been a lot of foreshadowing the end of the current Phantom’s life. It’s been like this for several years now, but the current story is hitting it hard.

This should catch you up on Tony DePaul and Mike Manley’s The Phantom to the end of June 2021 in the weekday continuity. If you’re looking for the Sunday continuity, or if you’re reading this after about September 2021, or any news breaks out you may find a more useful essay here.

Over on my mathematics blog I have not yet resumed reading comics regularly. But I am about to start this year’s A-to-Z, in which I explain mathematics terms. If you’d like to suggest topics, please, let me know. I love seeing what people suggest.

The Phantom (Weekdays).

5 April – 26 June 2021.

I last checked in near the end of an encounter with “Towns Ellerbee”. The Phantom used that false name. Under it he helped The Trusted Man sneak through Gravelines Prison and free his boss and friend Ernesto Salinas. Salinas tries pondering the mystery of who Towns Ellerbee could be, and finally turns to anagarms. The name translates to “Be Well Ernesto”, a thing I totally would have gotten if I’d thought to pick out proper names.

Salinas's wife, pulling him toward bed: 'Ernesto, it's so late ... ' Ernesto Salinas: 'Yes, my love ... come ... ' We see on the table his anagram solution: 'TOWNS ELLERBEE' rewritten as 'BE WELL ERNESTO'. Underneath, a narrative dedication box: 'In memory of the Trusted Man, Tarquino Felix Flores, 1978 - 2019'.
Tony DePaul and Mike Manley’s The Phantom for the 24th of April, 2021. Not to brag of my own anagram prowess but I’m able to work out most Jumble panels if the target word is not ‘OBJECT’. For whatever reason scrambled versions of ‘OBJECT’ throw me. I think it’s my natural assumption that if there’s a ‘J’ it probably starts the word that throws me.

That story, Then Came Towns Ellerbee, ended the 24th of April, with a dedication: “In Memory of the Trusted Man, Tarquino Felix Flores, 1978 – 2019”. Tony DePaul’s blog gives some insight into this “friend and long-time Phantom fan from Mexico”. DePaul’s blog includes photographs of Flores both out and in his costume as lucha libre wrestler El Dentista.


The 26th of April began the 257th Phantom daily story, Hello the Himalayas. Once again after a fairly long (26 week) and action-filled story we got a short (4 week) reflective one. Heloise Walker comes to the Deep Woods, into the Phantom’s Cave, and into even the Chronicle Chamber. And there she writes a letter that she knows she’s “not supposed to be writing” to her brother Kit Junior. She writes of being afraid to sleep, traumatized by nightmares of the night she captured Eric “The Nomad” Sahara. And that she has been trying to reason where exactly Kit Junior is.

Heloise, writing to Kit Jr: 'It wasn't easy to track you down, Kit. I did it to learn whether it was even possible to do so.' (She envisions a body under a burial shroud in the Phantom catacombs.) 'On some terrible day to come, I didn't want us all puzzling over a few vague lines left by dead Phantoms!'
Tony DePaul and Mike Manley’s The Phantom for the 17th of May, 2021. I do agree with Heloise Walker’s reasoning here. A major crisis is not the time to be fiddling over weird, elliptic clues. Especially from someone like the 21st Phantom, who’s always got about eighteen layers of deceit and secret identities going on.

The Phantom had placed him in secrecy in the Himalayas somewhere, ahead of his anticipated and foiled death in The Curse Of Old Man Mozz. Heloise, thinking it’s daft that nobody knows how to find Kit Junior in case something happens to The Phantom, tried to work out where her brother is. She’s confident she’s figured out what Himalayan monastery he’s at. And she closes up the letter, and seals it, and conceals it within the Chronicle Chamber. With the 22nd of May, this story ends.


The next and current story began the 24th of May. It’s titled To Wrack And Ruin at Gravelines. And it sees the return of Captain Savarna. She’s the oceangoing vigilante whose private gunboat shelled Gravelines Prison to help free Diana Walker from it. We haven’t seen her for several years, I believe since before the contract dispute that threatened to see Tony DePaul leave the comic strip.

The story opens with Colonel Worubu meeting the Unknown Commander of the Jungle Patrol. Part of the raid that got Salinas out of Gravelines Prison was a database of who was being held there. Many are dissidents, opponents of Rhodia’s fascist government. But, Worubu concedes, there are some people there on legitimate grounds. His example is this Indian-national woman who killed nine flag-rank naval officers and four aviators. Even granting that fascists are better off being dead, you can’t fault a government executing someone for that.

The Phantom knows about this. Savarna had killed the Rhodian naval officers who’d sunk her India Voyager II. They were retaliating for her shelling the prison to free Diana Palmer. The Phantom sets his plans to go back to Gravelines and free her, and regrets how this would have been easier if it weren’t right after Salinas’s escape.

Phantom, riding his horse, thinking to himself: 'My son's 7,000 kilometers from home because I was certain I was out of time ... I didn't want Kit called upon in a way he wasn't ready for. Why do I not feel that way about Gravelines now? I should, I think ... Objectively speaking, going back there right now is a fool move.'
Tony DePaul and Mike Manley’s The Phantom for the 17th of June, 2021. I’m inclined to agree that it’s a foolish move to go back to Gravelines, like, days after breaking out Salinas. On the other hand, they’re probably still working out their assessment of what security failures happened and why, so their procedures might be all a mess right now. Hey, when doing security assessments around Bangalla, how much time is spent arguing whether a threat is The Phantom versus whether it’s something mortals can affect? The Ghost Who Walks has got to be a great excuse for mediocre people to explain why their security isn’t.

Old Man Mozz stops him. Mozz shares a sketch from one of his visions. It’s the hallucination-setting of the story The Llongo Forest. In that vision a spirit presenting as The Phantom’s father warned the Ghost was Walking into oblivion. This as penalty for having not died in The Curse Of Old Man Mozz. The warning said he was now without “the right to lie in the crypt of the Phantoms”.

Now Mozz offers similar warnings: if he interferes with Savarna’s fate, The Phantom’s body will lie in that Llongo Forest doom. And Kit Junior will never return from the Himalayas. And will never be the 22nd Phantom. He even promises that “the journey of the Walkers in this land … will end”.

That doesn’t sound good, no. But even granting that this is happening in a world where prophetic visions happen? I notice Old Man Mozz hasn’t warned that The Phantom will die from this. Nor has he quite said there won’t be a 22nd Phantom. Still, between Old Man Mozz, The Phantom himself, and Heloise Walker, there’s a lot of people with grim visions of what’s to come.

Next Week!

Did Gawain make it past that jousting cheater? Did Valiant escape Lord Hallam’s henchmen? Did we get a successful reorganization of extremely-early-feudal England? I’ll say when I check in with Mark Schultz and Thomas Yeates’s Prince Valiant, next week, if plans work out.

On looking over 2500 words about one episode of Conan


In looking over how much typing I did for that one episode of Conan, you know, I guess I see why the original Late Night Fan Abstract Project back in the days sometimes struggled to find someone who’d write up an episode where the comedy sketches were Celebrity Tombstones and Conan’s Lullaby, and the guests were Al Roker and whoever the secondary female lead was for the sitcom NBC was putting on Tuesdays at 9:30 Eastern/Pacific for the next six weeks.

60s Popeye: Ace of Space, in lifelike 2D


And now for another 1960-dated flying saucer cartoon. This one’s produced by Larry Harmon, so of course the story is by Charles Shows. Direction’s credited to Paul Fennell. Please enjoy, best you can, Ace Of Space.

There’s a moment this cartoon where Popeye says he doesn’t believe in flying saucers because he’s never seen one. The Popeye Wikia warns this cartoon is “Not to be confused with Popeye, the Ace of Space.” Good luck; the titles and premises are close. But Popeye, the Ace of Space is a big, sometimes frightening, theatrical cartoon released in 3-D. This is a more modest affair.

This one has a neat little twist. The typical Earth specimen that the aliens — robots, this time — pick is Olive Oyl. Popeye seems almost slighted, and lassoos the flying saucer to get back in the action. That’s also a little twist. Usually this sort of cartoon the alien has to drag Popeye in. Once Popeye’s aboard, Olive Oyl is back on her erratic anti-fighting thing. She scolds Popeye for “this nice space man! He’s just taking us for a ride!” This might set the record for Olive’s fickleness.

The Martian robot spaceman brings out a ray gun and shoots Popeye. The ray gun doesn’t seem to do much, but Popeye still gets out his “spinach ray”. This is him eating a can of spinach and blasting … a spinach flame from his pipe? Something? I’m not sure what exactly’s supposed to happen. You know, as is usual for Larry Harmon studios.

Olive Oyl watches nervously while Popeye is held at arm's length by a Martian robot.
Finally someone discovers Popeye’s weakness: arm reach.

It’s not that anything is specifically wrong. But, for example, Jackson Beck, as the news reporter for K-PLOT radio, says a flying saucer was observed “flying south over North Dakota”. It’s got the shape of a joke, but isn’t quite one, although a kid might laugh anyway. Better joke-shaped is a bit where Popeye demands Olive Oyl from the flying saucer, and the Martian Robot squirts a bit of motor oil. “Not motor oil, Olive Oyl!”

There’s a cute reversal of fortunes at the end. The robot floats out of the flying saucer, and Popeye commandeers it to fly back to Earth. The robot ends up in Popeye’s suspiciously-tiny-trunked car, though, driving that happily along. It’s a cheery enough ending to question the Popeye Wikia’s characterization of the Martians as “sinister”.

Statistics Saturday: Some Song Sequels


  • Two Is The Loneliest Number
  • Love Potion Number 10
  • Theme to 78 Sunset Strip
  • It Ain’t 1919
  • Revolution Ten
  • Also Sprach Zarathustra, Also (Theme to 2002: Also A Space Odyssey)
  • In The Year 2626
  • Three Out Of Four Ain’t Bad
  • 867-5319 (Jenny’s Neighbor)
  • Land of 1,001 Dances
  • 4th of September, Asbury Park
  • 910

Reference: Mythematics: Solving The 12 Labors Of Hercules, Michael Huber.

Conan Abstract Project Episode 1510 – 24 June 2021


The Late Night Fan Abstract Project was one of those expressions of fannish exuberance you got in 1990s Usenet culture. I suppose you get it now too; I just don’t know to handle exuberance anymore. But on Usenet group alt.fan.conan-obrien — organized no later than April 1994 — there grew this tradition. It was one of writing abstracts, summaries of episodes, for those who couldn’t see a show, or who wanted to look up when some guest or some sketch was done, or some noteworthy discussion happened.

I joined, of course. I wasn’t alone, although some weeks it felt like it. Most every night — plus special events, such as when The Allbell got hold of a videotape of Conan’s premiere episode — someone would videotape an episode and go slowly over it to describe what happened. I’d do, usually, about one episode a week, sometimes filling in for Abstracters who had something terribly concrete mess up their plans. I’d like to credit my skills in writing story strip plot summaries to this experience but I doubt that. I fell out of the thing around 2000, probably when I was nearing the end of my thesis and surely when I moved to Singapore. (Late Night with Conan O’Brien didn’t really air in Singapore in the early 2000s, although some episodes would sometimes run on CNBC weekends.) And, of course, Usenet fell apart around then, and Late Night by 2009, and you know. We all have other stuff to get to.

I don’t know that there was ever a Fan Abstract Project for Conan O’Brien’s TBS show, but what the heck. Here’s one entry, as one of the few things I never missed becomes impossible to miss again.

Conan Abstract Project Episode 1510 – 24 June 2021

Cold Open: Homer Simpson does exit interview with Conan O’Brien.

  • Homer’s there for a big star at TBS; figures it’s one of the Impractical Jokers. ‘That time you and Sal blew up that toilet, I can’t believe that guy lived!’
  • Homer’s had hundreds of jobs, at one point even a monorail conductor, ‘What a stupid idea that was!’ Conan thinks that’s a nifty idea.
  • ‘How long have you been working at Tibs?’ ‘I think you mean TBS.’ ‘Thanks a lot, smart guy, but I think I know how to spell Tibs.’
  • Homer’s favorite moment was that time Conan asked an actor if there were any wacky stuff on the set of his movie and told a mildly interesting anecdote and Andy fell asleep. ‘You just described pretty much all the shows I’ve ever done.’ ‘Good thing I only saw one, then.’
  • How would his coworkers describe him? In one word or less. ‘Irish.’ ‘Funny, you don’t look Irish.’
  • ‘You know what? I’m gonna get a pencil and write this down.’
  • Conan reveals his Homer-level baldness. ‘Oh my god! You’re beautiful! You mean the world to me, Conrad!’

Opening Credits.

  • With Jimmy Vivino and the Basic Cable Four

Monologue.

  • Closing jump obscured by audience sign. No string dance! Conan chant tamped down, ‘It’s getting creepy … I know how Mussolini felt.’ Andy: ‘I don’t think you should say that.’ ‘I thought it all turned out well for ol’ Mussolini, didn’t it?’
  • ‘Our final show on TBS.’ Andy: ‘Wait, *what*? I just bought an amphibious car!’
  • They’ve done over 4000 hours of TV. Always promised tonight was really great, was often lying.
  • Thanks everyone at the Simpsons for the cold open, promotes this little show that’s never broken through.

Live Over Zoom: Will Ferrel.

  • He’s in Boston, shooting a secret project. It’s Batman. ‘In this version he gives oral’.
  • Wishing all the best, excited to see what comes next. Was there for the last Late Night, and the last Tonight Show, and now this. It’s krunking *exhausting*.
  • Pretapes a few goodbyes for when his next several shows flame out.
  • Slates, introducing ‘string of Conan talk show goodbyes’, claps hands together.
  • Congratulations on HBOmax show, six episodes isn’t a lot but you packed enough for eight episodes.
  • Will from set of his Batman sequel, we all miss his late night talk-show on Al-Jazeera Network. Sorry about the fatwa.
  • When I heard MTV3 was looking for host of new reality show, ‘Videos of People Dry-Humping in Trucks’ you were the first name that popped into my head and now, 12 seasons later … good luck, next host Logan Paul Jr.
  • I wish we were done! Truly going to miss your Delta Airlines talk show ‘Wheels up!’
  • YouTube won’t be the same without your classic unboxing videos, such reverence and wit to episodes such as Kitchen-Aid Serrated Bread Knife.
  • Reality Competition Show ‘Celebrity Room-Temperature Oyster Eating Contest’ cut down by explosive diarrhea outbreak; who could have predicted? Everyone.
  • Conan is 80% sure we have a great show tonight.

[ Commercial Break ]

First Segment.

  • So many amazing guests. Here’s a sample.
  • Steve Martin reading his diary of Conan’s sluggishness.
  • Martin Short, would love to do the shore more often but, you know, pride.
  • Jordan Schlansky brings Lego Millennium Falcon to Harrison Ford, who trashes it.
  • Fake clip from The Notebook 2. Conan wrote Ryan Reynolds every day for a year; they kiss.
  • Tequila Slaps with not sure.
  • Betty White is ‘getting better’ seeing muscle-y guy on magazine.
  • Lord of the Rings guy showing off a prop ring; ‘My Precious’ guy comes in and swipes it.
  • Will Ferrell shows off his dog-training, with maze of dog stunts to perform. Absolutely none of the dogs do anything and it’s all about the dogs going out of control while he freaks out.
  • Medley of Zach Galifianakis entrances.
  • Woman doing impression of turtle, eats lettuce.
  • Woman talking about being single; it gets dirty, shocking Conan. ‘Why does every question I ask you go down a certain [path]?’
  • Blue-screen riding stunt with Tom Hanks and Woody on a motorcycle; Woody gets knocked off by road sign.
  • Andy Samberg ‘and his new baby girl’; doll is riding on a chest charrier; does a lot of chest-bumping, jumps on the ground and all.
  • That cell phone crotch trick I don’t want my Dad to know about.
  • Animal expert on; a large (iguana?) wraps their tail around Conan’s leg so the tail pokes out between his legs. Andy: ‘Now they all know the Conan that we know.’
  • Comic be-bop singing duet with actor I didn’t recognize.

[ Commercial Break ]

Second Segment.

  • Conan trying his hand at other careers, ‘I hit it out of the park every time.’
  • Mary Kay Beauty Consultant. Goes outside to stare in from the window with mis-painted lips.
  • Commercial Actor. Scenario of being too calm while driving in crises. ‘Wait, you’re saying I hit a guy on a bike, but because I’m in such a nice car, I don’t give a krunk? That’s crazy, this car is making me immoral!’ Lighting makes Conan look eight years old.
  • Modern Dancer. Alvin Alley dance troupe. Conan gets his head edited on top of a better dancer’s body. Conan starts drumming, picks people who are still dancing when he stops and picks them out. ‘*You* are now Uber drivers.’

[ Commercial Break ]

Third Segment.

  • Conan Without Borders clips.
  • Cuba. Dancing; Cuban pay phones. Supermarket with rows of one product. Manager doesn’t want them filming there. Sings ‘I am Nutella’, other gibberish with street band.
  • Korea. Learning the language. Creeps out language instructor. ‘I don’t like you.’ Visiting Demilitarized Zone. K-Pop video.
  • Armenia. Sheepherders dressed like bouncers. Conan and Sona Movsesian dress in more traditional garb. Her voice drives sheep along.
  • Haiti. Conan desk-drumming in a schoolroom; kids join in. One kid slaps his hand.
  • Israel. David invites Conan for coffee, thinks he’s beautiful.
  • Australia. Male echidnas have four-pronged penises. ‘Why?’ ‘Why not?’ ‘She’s good.’
  • Mexico. Conan giving monologue in Spanish. Collects for the wall; people give the finger.
  • Ghana. People get fantasy coffins. Coffin-maker laughs at the turkey coffin gag (‘you get to be the stuffing’), to be polite. ‘It’s not the cough that carries you off, it’s the coffin they carry you off in’. Conan’s fantasy coffin is a giant Conan with a NASCO tv.
  • Berlin. The Happy Bavarian dancing, including accidental face-slappings.
  • Japan. Companies provide fake families for the lonely. Conan’s fake family doesn’t understand his jokes but laugh to be nice. ‘Do you guys like ramen? Not me, I like my men cooked. … Please tell them to laugh.’ ‘What if I don’t understand his joke?’ ‘You don’t need to, just laugh.’
  • Greenland. Conan gives the weather report, reading off the teleprompter.
  • Italy. With Jordan Schlansky. Conan yells out random things. Conan wants pumpkin-spice-lattee from bartender; guy in background makes hideous, offended face. Driving with Jordan; Conan has music ‘this sounds very stereotypical to the point of insulting’. Movie sound effects. ‘We can also have silence as well.’ Car stalls out; Conan has fallingsound effect. Raspberry sound effect. Jordan cracks up (!), calling Conan a fool.
  • Mentions, went to Armenia with Sona Movsesian, she’s not there as she’s expecting twins any day now. She’s in the audience. Conan didn’t know. ‘You told me you couldn’t work, but you can come here and check the show out?’ Thanks her for everything.

[ Commercial Break ]

Fourth Segment.
Guest: Jack Black

  • Special note: the musical guest on Episode 1 of _Conan_ in 2010 was Jack White. The symmetry goes without mention.
  • Black comes out with a cane and a leg cast in what I thought several times was going to be a bit. No; Conan says he was ‘the healthiest I’ve ever seen you yesterday’. They were going to do a bit where Black does a musical number with a lot of physicality and with a fake injury, and paramedics who’d take him, and whom he’d shake out. They were pre-taping the bit where he escapes the paramedics, and doing one more take, and Black tumbled, spraining his ankle. The paramedics for the bit were actors, of course. The ambulance was a fake; it didn’t even have bandages. The paramedic actors drove to CVS to buy bandages. ‘It was a really quick run to CVS’, said Black.
  • It’s a real sprain, says the MRI, and he has to do nothing physical while he heals. (I thought he was going to use this to break out and reveal the whole story was a fake. I was wrong.)
  • Conan thought it fitting that given the meticulous perfect finishes of Johnny Carson and David Letterman, *they* came up with a bit where Jack Black hurts himself faking getting hurt.
  • Ah, but Jack Black can sing. He does ‘You Did It Cone’s Way’, a filk of ‘My Way’. ‘I wrote/ this song today/ that’s why the lyrics/ are so krunk-y’. Though he can’t do *much*, Black is able to stand and twirl his jacket around and toss it to the audience.

[ Commercial Break ]

Final Farewell.

  • Conan’s beneficiary of hundreds of talented, amazing people. 11 years ago came to TBS; Steve Coonan, ‘what the Irish call a mensch’, said he’d protect you and your people and will support you. They did that. Thanks bunch of TBS people.
  • Thank Rick Rosen, Gavin Polone, Libra Keene (?), his squad. Polone’s his agent and I imagine the others are connected similarly.
  • Executive Producer Jeff Ross. He peeks out from behind stage. ‘He’s making dinner reservations’.
  • Andy Richter, brilliant man, love him forever. Thought of the funniest thing to say a million times. ‘Their chanting is gonna make me cry!’ ‘It would’ve been nice if you, like, fake-laughed once!’ ‘Oh, I did!’
  • Always wanted best comedy writers and did, starting in 1993 to now. Courage, ingenuity of writers.
  • Particularly: Michael B Sweeney, Matt O’Brien, ‘no relation to me … I always tell people that he’s my uncle’s son and we had to hire him and so many interns think it’s true and don’t give him the respect he’s due and I think it’s the funniest thing in the world.’ Another look backstage, at him.
  • Field producer Jason Chillemi who gets everything sorted out on location, ‘gets shot’. He peeks out from backstage; Conan says we didn’t think this through; everyone’s a creep who pokes out of the dark.
  • Line producer Sarah Pederovich ‘if she left I’d leave show business’; where are you?
  • Lorne Michaels for his faith in a crazy, stupid idea back in 1993.
  • Lisa Kudrow, who he met outside these doors in an improv space in 1985; immediately sized her up as one of the coolest people he’d ever meet. In 1993 she had more faith in him than he did, ‘You’re the only one that can do it’. You wouldn’t know him if it wasn’t for Lisa Kudrow.
  • Shout-out to parents, who’ll see this three months from now. Siblings ‘they never, ever were impressed by anything … would you?’.
  • Most amazing thing was a remote when he met a woman, an advertising executive, ‘you can see me fall in love on camera’, his wife Liza. ‘When we shot the scene in The Notebook when I kiss Ryan Reynolds she said, ‘Well, that ruined both of you for me’.
  • And because of Liza, I have two children, I know everyone thinks their children are incredible but I’ve seen some of your children and they suck. My children are better, though.
  • ”I have devoted all of my adult life, all of it, to pursuing this strange phantom intersection between smart and stupid. And there’s a lot of people that believe the two cannot coexist, but, God, I will tell you, it is something that I believe religiously, I think when smart and stupid come together — it’s very difficult, but if you can make it happen — I think it’s the most beautiful thing in the world. I am so grateful to all my staff, and the fans in this country and around the world, who have joined me in this really crazy and seemingly pointless pursuit to do things that are kinda stupid but have something smart in there somewhere, and then there’s a little tiny sort of flicker of what is a kind of a magic, I think, that’s what I believe. So, my advice to anyone watching right now, and it’s not easy to do, it is not easy to do, it’s not easy to do, but try, try and do what you love, with people you love, and if you can manage that it’s the definition of heaven on Earth. I swear to God, it really is. So goodnight, thank you very much!”

Goodnight, Everybody!

Closing Credits.

MiSTed: On Beards And Evolution (Part 2 of 4)


Another special consideration with MiSTing rants? How did you know they were sincere? How do you tell a genuine loopy argument from someone mocking a loopy argument? Like, I remember one Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfic that mocked an argument we had proof of time travellers meddling with history by how some events were put inexplicably out of order. The argument gave an example: how could Bruce Lee’s Return of the Dragon, released in 1972, have logically come out before Enter the Dragon, released in 1973? The MiSTing snarked that oh, yeah, one reference book gets movie dates wrong and that proves time travel? Except that, yeah, Return of the Dragon was made before Enter the Dragon. So was the original time-travel-conspiracy rant in earnest? Or making a really sly joke?

Arthur Claude Munyan’s On Beards And Evolution gave me similar vibes. It still does, some. Like, this is an expertly-crafted parody of a particular kind of petty-authoritarian attitude, right? The author didn’t really believe it, right? And yeah, I know, we have the coward excuse that however dumb an argument is someone believes it. But did I get taken in? Or was I ridiculing something actually deserving the ridicule?

Ultimately, I decided, it doesn’t matter. When I say something facetious and find it taken in earnest, I am delighted (and my love offended). If the person behind this rant had similar intentions, I hope they are similarly delighted. Anyway, there’s a lot of riffs in here that I really like, and only a couple that I regret.

And, again, a content warning: Munyan’s piece contains racist attitudes and while my riffing sneers at that, you’re right if that’s not something you want in your recreational reading. We’ll catch up again with, I don’t know, that old Reboot fanfic or something.


Last week featured part 1 of this rant. It’s got two weeks to run yet.

>
> I never cease to be amazed at all the male high school students
> I see who are wearing beards.

TOM: Yes, some minds can find amazement in the most mundane things.

CROW: I thought he stopped all the high schoolers from growing beards?

> Misguided parents who allow this to go
> on are guilty of the worst form of permissiveness.

JOEL: They don’t hate dandruff enough!

>
> These parents ought to be teaching and modeling the true
> meanings of manhood

TOM: Like playing sports and blowing stuff up.

> instead of encouraging their sons to flaunt such
> false symbols thereof under the phony banners of freedom and
> self-expression.

CROW: True individualism consists of watching what everybody else does and conforming without being told.

>
> Let me make it clear that the grooming standards I am promoting
> apply to the twentieth century and beyond.

JOEL: He does not *necessarily* endorse travelling back in time and shaving historical figures. But he wants to keep the option open.

> Before then, we did not
> have the knowledge of good grooming and personal hygiene that we
> have today.

TOM: Basically, everybody before about 1957 was stupid.

>
> Many Americans lived under very adverse frontier conditions.

JOEL: Today, they just struggle to survive network TV.

> By
> necessity, daily survival itself was more important than shaving.

CROW: Hm, should I survive today, or should I shave?

TOM: Well, Billy decided to shave yesterday.

CROW: Did he survive?

TOM: Nope.

>
> Pre-twentieth century man was guided by a different set of
> priorities. Most honorable among them was our noble quest to
> fulfill our divine mission of completing our western expansion.

JOEL: Hm, should I massacre the Sioux today, or should I shave?

CROW: Well, Hank decided to shave yesterday.

JOEL: What happened?

CROW: The Sioux hung on to a scrap of their territory.

JOEL: Dang!

>
> The many savage Indian tribes who constantly tried to stop us
> kept our hands full. Shaving was the least of our worries.

CROW: Being on “Gunsmoke” was worse.

>
> As Americans, we prevailed. Because we are Americans.

TOM: Except for the Americans who were here first.

>
> Therefore, I fault no man for wearing a beard prior to the
> twentieth century. After all, many of our most famous Civil War
> generals wore beards.
>

CROW: And … that’s the only example he can think of.

> However, I cannot help but wonder

JOEL: How *can* I tell a cabbage from a lettuce?

> if the fate of the confederacy
> might have turned out differently if some of Robert E. Lee’s faulty
> military decisions had been made without the itchy distraction of
> his beard.

TOM: So slavery ended because of beards? Good for facial hair!

> I also suspect that Abraham Lincoln was similarly
> distracted when he put forth his Emancipation Proclamation.

CROW: Well, again, yay for beards!

>
> During the early part of the twentieth century, our armed forces
> finally wised up.

TOM: Not to hear the enlisted men tell it.

> They adopted the practice of giving all recruits a
> decent haircut, and a shave if necessary,

JOEL: Two bits.

TOM: And a pantsing where applicable.

> on their first day of
> basic training.

JOEL: And that has to last them *all* year.

>
> They finally realized that they can more effectively tap into
> and train the "inner man" into the fighting machine he was meant to
> become without a lot of superfluous hair in the way.

CROW: What, the beard absorbs orders that would otherwise be followed?

>
> History has shown us that military decisions are best made with
> a clear head.

TOM: And a lot of shouting.

> A clean shaven face and a decent haircut go hand in
> hand with a clear head.

JOEL: Wait a minute — hands don’t go in heads!

> Even the Roman warriors favored clean shaven
> faces, in order to give their adversaries less area to grab hold and
> pull during hand to hand encounters.

TOM: And by having all males shave now, that’ll save us ten minutes before starting at the next war!

>
> They were also among the first to adopt the "high and tight"
> hairstyles

CROW: ‘Nuff said.

> that most of our recruits wear with honor and pride in
> our military boot camps today. It is most unfortunate that our
> Civil War heroes failed to follow their example.

TOM: Or the North could’ve won two years earlier.

>
> The twentieth century marked a major turning point in the
> history of grooming practices among our leaders.

CROW: Yes, the twentieth century will be remembered for automobiles, airplanes, computers, *and* the Gilette triple razor blade.

> The last U.S.
> president to wear a beard was Benjamin Harrison, who served his term
> from 1889 to 1993.

JOEL: His first 20 years were OK, but the last 84 kind of stank.

CROW: His effectiveness declined sharply after he died.

>
> Since then, not one of our presidents has ever sported a beard.
>
> Not one.

TOM: Their loss.

>
> Indeed, the first sixty years of the twentieth century was a
> golden age of grooming among men.

TOM: Soon they started grooming each other, but found they liked it too much.

> Most men were clean cut and
> shaved on a regular basis. Barber shops in practically every town
> and city in America fluorished.

TOM: Charlie Brown’s dad had steady work!

>
> However, this glorious era was temporarily interrupted during
> the turbulent and ugly decade of the sixties.

JOEL: What’s so funny about peace, love, and Wildroot creme oil?

>
> Perhaps, the first omen of what was yet to come took place when
> Richard Nixon himself failed to give himself a proper shave before
> his televised debates with JFK in 1960.

CROW: He explained it as his Flintstone fandom, but nobody bought it.

> His five ‘o clock shadows
> clearly did him in,

TOM: When it grabbed a knife and attacked Jack Paar.

> as he came across as a character on a wanted
> poster instead of the dedicated communist fighter he truly was.

CROW: If he was a dedicated communist fighter, shouldn’t he at some point in his career have found a communist instead of just mudslinging Daniel Ellsworth?

>
> As a result of being duped by a more clean shaven and
> charismatic Kennedy,

JOEL: People stopped wearing enough hats.

> the American electorate had to endure eight
> years of Democratic rule and all the turmoil that it wrought.
>
> Shortly after this fateful election,

TOM: Fate stepped in.

> the Beatles came along with
> their mop style hair cuts. Teenage boys everywhere began to forsake
> their Brylcream and started growing their hair like the mangy
> sheepdogs that their heroes emulated.

JOEL: Oh, yeah, remember the “longhair” Beatles of ’64, with hair that grew as much as two and a *half* inches long.

> Popular American culture was
> just beginning its rapid descent into depravity.

CROW: What, when “Gilligan’s Island” came on?

>
> The cancer grew even worse with the emergence of the hippies a
> few short years later,

CROW: Short years are like regular years, but staffed by Munchkins.

> with even longer, more unkempt hairstyles and
> beards. Their influence on our American youth was devastating.

JOEL: Those pesky minorities started acting like they should have actual civil rights and stuff.

> Clean cut young men everywhere were seduced into their ranks, taking
> up pot smoking, internalizing anti-American ideas,

CROW: Watching Adam West on Batman.

> and protesting
> our nation’s gallant efforts to stop the spread of communism in
> Southeast Asia.

TOM: Efforts which were cancelled to make room for the Vietnam War.

>
> Instead of listening to leaders like Richard Nixon and Spiro T.
> Agnew,

CROW: They followed people with souls.

> they started following the likes of Jerry Rubin, Abbie
> Hoffman, and scores of other political agitators

JOEL: Vince Lombardi!

CROW: Tommy Smothers!

JOEL: Rowan and Martin!

TOM: Bubble Puppy!

JOEL: Robbie the Robot!

TOM: Sandy Koufax!

CROW: Underdog!

JOEL: Neil Armstrong!

TOM: Danny Bonaduce!

> who were glorified
> to high heaven by our liberal news media.
>
> Rock stars with beards and long dirty stringy hair started to
> multiply like rabbits.

CROW: I loved seeing their cute little bunny paws working slide rules.

> Clean cut wholesome musicians like Lawrence
> Welk and Pat Boone became passe.

JOEL: Oh, they were passe even when they were hot.

CROW: Notice he says nothing about Liberace.

>
> Something was wrong. Our nation was going to hell.

TOM: If Woody had gone straight to the police this would never have happened.

> The chaos
> and decline of traditional moral values the hippies wrought was
> clear evidence that long hair and beards were clearly inappropriate
> for modern twentieth century man.

CROW: Every other century could handle beards, but they were just too much for the 60s, man.


[ To be continued … ]

60s Popeye: Hill Billy Dilly, featuring a cast of dozen (mostly Brutus)


I think this is the first Hillbilly cartoon in the King Features run, at least as they’ve ordered things. Hill Billy Dilly is a 1960 short from Jack Kinney studios. Story by Wesley Bennett, a new name around here. Animation direction by Harvey Toombs, not a new name. Producer, of course, is Jack Kinney, a pretty well-worn name by now.

The premise is that Popeye and Olive Oyl, looking for a picnic, accidentally wander into the middle of the Hitchfield-and-McGoo feud. They take a while to tumble on to what’s happening. I wonder if there were any impulse to have Popeye and Olive Oyl never suspect they’re being shot at. I imagine that would give a great comic tension. But leaving that unresolved might be moer than the kid audience would bear. (On the other hand, it’s not like kids couldn’t handle Mister Magoo.)

Popeye sits atop a heap of knocked-out Brutus clones, and holds his spinach up, ready to start eating it now.
So turns out the Crisis on Infinite Blutuses wasn’t that big a problem.

There is a lot of talking in this cartoon about two gangs of Brutus Clones who won’t stop shooting each other. I’m distracted trying to figure out who voiced the Hitchfield Brutuses. (They’re the ones wearing the blue shirts, like normal-model Brutus.) I didn’t think either Jackson Beck or Jack Mercer had this range, but it’s easy for me to be wrong about that. Beck, particularly, was on every radio program of the 1940s so he knew some things to do with his voice. The talk doesn’t get far — a punch line about how nobody remembers what they’re feuding over — but maybe I’m outside the audience that would find that a killer revelation.

And then to pad the screen time we get Olive Oyl being fickle. She set up, properly, that she was tired of Popeye finding someone to fight all the time. But then after the McGoos and the Hitchfields get to fighting over who’s protecting her, she blames Popeye for fighting. It’s a weird beat, allowing Popeye to spend some screen time doing she-loves-me/she-loves-me-not with flowers when Olive Oyl cries for help. Popeye beats up the Hitchfields, producing a funny pile of Brutus clones. Then the McGoos insist if anyone beats up the Hitchfields it’s going to be them. So Popeye needs his spinach to punch up another pile of Brutus clones.

Close-up shot of Olive Oyl screaming for help. We see into her mouth, seeing her upper teeth, her tongue, and the outline of the back of her throat showing two uvulas.
Peple asks Popeye what he sees in Olive Oyl, who is, after all, a fickle, quarrelsome, often aggravating person. And yes, she has these weaknesses. On the other hand: where else is he going to find a woman with two uvulas?

That bit of Olive Oyl complaining about Popeye is diagnostic of the cartoon, though. It’s reasonable for Olive Oyl to be tired of Popeye always fighting. And it can produce good comic tension if Popeye’s restrained from fighting. But it’s brought up at a moment, in a scenario, where it doesn’t make sense. So we have another cartoon where the flow of events is mostly all right, but the characters talk as though responding to a different plot line.

It’s all okay, but does feel like Popeye versus two mobs of Brutuses should be more wild.

What’s Going On In Alley Oop? Why were the giant crabs pinching people? March – June 2021


The Chrabs were on an alternate Earth, Universe 881, not by their own will. They would pinch people to death as they could not bear being around arguments and had ended up in a most argumentative universe. It turns out to be Ollie Arp’s fault, for once.

This should catch you up on Jonathan Lemon and Joey Alison Sayers’s Alley Oop to late June 2021. If you’re reading this after about September 2021, there’s probably a more up-to-date plot recap here. Thanks for reading.

Alley Oop.

28 March – 19 June 2021.

I last checked in with Alley Oop as he and the gang prevented the murder of Lady Worthington. They’d gone back in time a little bit to catch Clifford, her butler and secret criminal mastermind. They send Clifford to the universe where everyone is butlers “and definitely not all murderers!”. In her gratitude, Lady Worthington admits she had wanted to steal their technology, but what the heck. Also, she already has a time machine, “from a wild-haired farmer with a penchant for inventing”. That would be Doc Wonmug’s clone of Albert Einstein.


Ooola: 'We should get some clothes so we blend in.' Alley Oop: 'I'm on it!' (Comes back with a heap of Western duds.) Oop: 'Here we are!' Ooola: 'Thanks, Alley. Where did you find these so fast?' Oop: 'I found a ... store ... over there called 'Give Me Your Clothes, Or Else'. ... AND they were free!' Doc Wonmug: 'Wow! What a friendly universe!' Three guys in the background walk past wearing rain barrels.
Jonathan Lemon and Joey Alison Sayers’s Alley Oop for the 15th of April, 2021. So when I first read this I didn’t notice the guys in barrels, and just took it at face value that Alley Oop had robbed a general store. Yeah, the dialogue doesn’t support that but I read a lot of comics, I can’t pay attention to the words too. It’s a small shame we didn’t see Alley Oop getting the clothes since the eagerness of his victims to comply could have been a sign of what the gimmick this Universe was. But it’s not like it took forever to get to that point either. This was a quickly-told story.

The new, and just-wrapped-up, story began the 12th of April. The gang chooses to explore the mysterious Universe 881, an unexplored and locked universe. (Its password is “password123”.) It looks like an Old West themed world. Alley Oop gets some clothes by going up to some guys and demanding their clothes. They’re happy to comply.

It turns out everyone in this Old West town is happy to comply. Amicable. Someone accused of cheating a poker game denies they could ever value a game over their friendship. An actual showdown turns out to be competitive dancing. The locals don’t ever fight, over anything, because they don’t want to die. Also, on this Earth, if you fight, the Chrabs come out and pinch you to death.

Oop: 'Is all this business about the Chrabs true? It doesn't sound true.' Garnet: 'Now please don't go doin' *that*. You sound argumentative.' Oop: 'I'm NOT!' (A crack in the ground appears and a giant Chrab claw snaps out, trying to grab any of them. The claw vanishes.) Oop: 'I still say I wasn't arguin--- MFFFFF!' (Doc Wonmug covers his mouth.)
Jonathan Lemon and Joey Alison Sayers’s Alley Oop for the 29th of April, 2021. Garnet, the prospector-y type here, ended up being their companion for the story, and he survives through to the end even.

There weren’t always Chrabs. One day there was a flash of light and then anyone who got a little disagreeable got pinched to death. So Alley Oop and all venture into the City of the Chrabs, using a disguise that gets them arrested immediately. They’re taken to Queen Chrab. (Her name. She’s the democratically-elected president.)

Queen Chrab reveals they’re not from this universe. They’d been minding their own business. There was this flash of light, and then they were stuck in this universe. Doc Wonmug arranges to send the Chrabs back to their home Universe 7. It’s a bigger project than they planned: there’s almost a hundred million of them.

Queen Chrab: 'Thanks again for helping us get back to our universe. We never wanted to be in Univers 881, pinching all those cowboys. We're peaceful beings.' Doc Wonmug: 'See, Alley and Ooola? I've always tried to show you the core benevolence of all living things. It is the nature of life to be kind, and ... ' Alley Oop, being pinched in one of the Chrab's claws: 'Um, Doc.' Pinching Chrab: 'Oops, sorry. Old habits die hard.'
Jonathan Lemon and Joey Alison Sayers’s Alley Oop for the 1st of June, 2021. I felt it was too far off point to include but I enjoyed Queen Chrab’s complaint the 20th of May about Universe 881 not having the Interclaw. That’s “a global pinching network. Wherever you are, you can pinch anyone or anything you want!” Also the Chrabs’ whole deal reminds me of one of Jim Toomey’s Sherman’s Lagoon strips, in which Hawthorne the hermit crab gives a utilitarian argument for his pinching people.

So the Chrabs are home. Universe 881 is free of the pinching menace. Everyone can go home. It’s a brilliant success, which is when Ollie Arp, of Universe 3 appears. Ollie’s there to explain what a stupid failure that all was. He sent the Chrabs there, because the Universe 881 humans were far too violent. They were on the brink of destroying their own world. Ah, but the reign of the Chrabs must have made a lasting change in their temperament, right?

Doc Wonmug: 'Things can't be that bad in Universe 881 since we left. I really think they learned their lesson. They seemed very peaceful.' Ollie Arp: 'Hmm. We'll see about that.' They ZANG into Universe 881, where everything is postapocalyptic ruins. Wonmug: 'We were here only an hour ago!' Arp: 'Something tells me you've destroyed universes faster.'
Jonathan Lemon and Joey Alison Sayers’s Alley Oop for the 12th of June, 2021. So I concede that dropping the Chrabs into Universe 881 was good for that world. But the setup does mean Ollie Arp went and kidnapped a hundred million people. Yes, you can forgive a crime committed in case of urgent need, but it’s also hard to have urgent need when you have easy control of a time machine and a universe-hopping device. I have to blame this mess more on Ollie Arp for a change.

Ollie Arp figures to try and save … whoever’s survived. He sends Our Heroes home, without charges, since they were trying to do good. And once hope, Ooola ponders whether they actually are doing any good.


There’s not much self-examination, though. From the 18th of June what seems to be a new story starts, with a trip to the 60s to see the Moon Landing. They arrived in 1969 last week. Might know by September how that works out for everyone.

Next Week!

I had just been wondering if we’d ever see Captain Savarna again! And now Tony DePaul and Mike Manley’s The Phantom, weekday continuity, is off to find her. We’ll see how we got to that point, and how it’s working out, if all goes well next week.

Someone in the neighborhood has an above-ground pool and we don’t know who


Sorry to be late, but I’ve been distracted by listening to the true sounds of summer: kids in the ambiguous distance squealing with joy, while one of them makes fake vomiting noises, and an adult voice cries out “Ryan, what are you doing?”

60s Popeye: Hamburgers Aweigh, featuring gross violations of Wimpy’s autonomy


Paramount Cartoon Studios gives us today’s 60s Popeye. The producer is, as ever, Seymour Kneitel. He’s credited as director as well. Story is by Joseph Gottlieb. From 1961 here’s Hamburgers Aweigh.

The Popeye Wikia does not say this cartoon was adapted from the comic strip. I do wonder, though. It’s got a curious structure, feeling as though important pieces are missing. For example, we start with Popeye and Olive Oyl setting off on a voyage. To where? For what purpose? The cartoon ends at sea, with all their food eaten, and there’s not a hint of what they’ll do about that. (Granting the comic strip often forgot to resolve whatever the instigating event of the story was.) Popeye is able to call on the magical Whiffle Hen Bird. The Whiffle Hen Bird is an old and important piece of Popeye’s story, older even than spinach. But why is the Whiffle here? Why is Popeye able to call on him for a wish? (Eugene the Jeep hangs around Popeye enough that his presence doesn’t need explaining. But his magic seems defined in a way that the Whiffle Bird’s isn’t, and that would prevent what’s needed here.) Why did the Sea Hag stow away on Popeye’s ship? It can’t be the Whiffle Bird: she never knows this fantastic wish-granting creature is on board. Is it related to the unknown objective of Popeye’s voyage? (She offers to split the hamburger cargo with Wimpy, but that is the thing to bribe Wimpy with.) If this is condensed from a comic strip story, the condensing was done well. None of these questions really matters, apart from why the Whiffle Bird happens to be here.

A wide-eyed happy Wimpy stares at the camera as his body shakes, freed of all magic spells. The Whiffle Bird is in the air beside him, happy also.
No quarreling with Wimpy’s priority of getting all those spells off him, but it does seem like he’s uncharacteristically slow to see the power of having a bird who grants wishes on hand.

This is a cartoon with far more mind control than I expect from Popeye. And all about mind control of Wimpy, which also seems unusual. Wimpy is almost one of the magic cast himself, wandering through adventures barely touched. It’s weird when he’s turned into a werewolf or, here, gets the most important element of his personality wished away.

There’s some good plotting here. Particularly, the Sea Hag orders Wimpy to toss all of Popeye’s spinach overboard. Good thinking. It’s dumb ironic luck that the spinach cans land where her vulture drops Popeye. It’s particularly nice as the Sea Hag had just cackled how everything was going according to plan. I’m not clear what the plan was. It involved tying up Olive Oyl, only to have her walk the plank. Also it involved catching Popeye unaware, except also flying her flag so anyone could see she was up to something. I don’t quite follow her reasoning, but children’s cartoon villains sometimes have to cut some story-logic corners.

Sea Hag and her Vulture stand, glaring, next to Wimpy, who stands guard with a giant knife/saber resting on his shoulder.
“I regret, Miss Sea Hag, that no one over 48 inches may ride Pirate Boats and the park strictly enforces this policy.”

Popeye, unable to hit the Sea Hag, has no trouble giving Olive Oyl spinach so she can hit her. He’s ethical but he’s not above obvious loopholes. Meanwhile Wimpy’s used the Whiffle Bird to take all the magic spells off of him. Interesting that he’s aware of all the mind control and that nobody wished for him to be content with his new programming. If she had thought of it, the Sea Hag … well, she would have been in the same fix. But Popeye and Olive Oyl wouldn’t be doomed to starve at sea after Wimpy eats all 200 cases of canned hamburger. Live and learn, mm?

It’s all a competent, reasonable done cartoon. Something about it gives me the feeling there’s more to this story. Or it could be Joseph Gottlieb conveyed the tone that there was more going on than they could show. I’ll still be thinking about this one a while.

Statistics Saturday: Some Safety Procedures


  • Look, but don’t touch.
  • Smell, but don’t taste.
  • Touch, but don’t trip.
  • Listen, but don’t squeeze.
  • Taste, but don’t meddle.
  • Observe, but don’t wolf down.
  • Shake, but don’t lick.
  • Bend, but don’t slap heartily on the back.
  • Hug, but don’t break.
  • Lick, but don’t shake.
  • Encourage, but don’t promise to help set up the show.
  • Measure, but don’t cut.

Reference: Sunday: A History Of The First Day From Babylonia To The Super Bowl, Craig Harline.

60s Popeye: There’s No Space Like Home, the rare alien-mailbox-free flying saucer cartoon


There’s a weird bit of fanfare to start the credits. So you know what that means: it must be a Gene Deitch cartoon! Except the pipe sound effect comes in time with Popeye blowing his pipe. So … not Gene Deitch? … Nope; it is. There’s No Space Like Home is another 1960 cartoon from Gene Deitch’s team and I’m sorry not to have better credits for you.

We open with Popeye reading the news about flying saucers over town. And … what, again? We just did a Gene Deitch cartoon about Popeye meeting flying saucers. Well, the subject can go a lot of ways. In Partial Post, it went really weird, with aliens taking the form of mailboxes to mess with Popeye’s head.

Here we have a more normal story. It’s much easier to like as it’s easier to say what’s going on and why. Popeye decides to go to Olive Oyl’s costume party as a spaceman. Brutus gets Popeye arrested for this. But then he mistakes a tiny blue-skinned guy for the costumed Popeye, and accidentally gets the aliens to go to war with Earth. Or, well, with Olive Oyl’s underpopulated costume party. Popeye, having broken out of jail because he didn’t see any reason to stay there, gets to the party in time for the aliens to roughhouse with him. Brutus declares this is dire enough he has to feed Popeye spinach. More fanfare, Popeye punches the aliens, and throws their spaceship so it gets stuck in the moon.

A battered Popeye, wearing a spacesuit, slumps against the doorframe as two short space aliens in spacesuits and helmets fling the door closed. There's the confetti and ribbons of a party strewn about.
I guess when you look at the aliens and their miniskirt spacesuits you really can see how Brutus would mistake one of them for Popeye.

There’s nothing this cartoon does wrong, and compared to Partial Post it does a lot more well. It’s always clear why people, including the aliens, are doing what they’re doing. The only truly baffling moment is Brutus mistaking a tiny blue guy for Popeye. Maybe Brutus is even worse at recognizing faces than I am. The cartoon’s well-paced, and pretty well-animated too. Freeze the video at any spot and the picture’s expressive. (And character walk cycles match the pace at which the background moves.) And we get Brutus recognizing how he’s out of his league here and turning the whole fight over to Popeye. It’s the touch that makes Bluto/Brutus’s relationship with Popeye interesting.

But there is this curse to competence. Partial Post is full of stranger, more alien choices. That sticks more solidly in my mind. I’m curious whether that’s because I am impressing so many of these cartons into my brain, and it looks for the novel and the weird. And so There’s No Space Like Home seems less good. This even though it’s clearly the better 1960 Gene Deitch-animated cartoon about Popeye versus flying saucers to show someone.

MiSTed: On Beards And Evolution (Part 1 of 4)


I mentioned last week needing time to figure out who this Arthur Claude Munyan name I referenced was. Munyan was the name given as writing a lovely little rant that I had MiSTed, On Beards And Evolution. So I’d like to share that. Bit of a content warning for the whole piece, although not so much this week’s installment: Munyan shows some racist attitudes and vocabulary, terms along the lines of “Asiatic People” or referencing professional racist Phillipe Rushton in apparent sincerity. If you don’t need that in your recreational reading, you are right and we’ll catch up on a later piece.

Rants were a special sort of Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction. Since they were never solicited, and were rarely even on topic for the Usenet group, they were treated with a particular disdain. This included refusing the courtesy of asking authors for permission to MiST them. How did we rationalize disregarding someone’s copyright in this way? Well, the normal mode of Usenet was for people to reply to posts, with new text inserted into the old. If you published on Usenet you accepted that, at least in principle, anyone might do that. So, we did.


[ OPENING THEME ]

[ 1.. 2.. 3.. 4.. 5.. 6.. ]


[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. At the desk are GYPSY, CROW, JOEL, and TOM. All looks normal. Too normal. ]

JOEL: Hi, everyone, and welcome to the Satellite of Love. I’m Joel Robinson, these are my bots Gypsy, Tom Servo, and Crow, and it’s a holiday week.

CROW: So you know what that means …

GYPSY: It’s a half day!

TOM: And there’s inexplicable TV specials that have nothing to do with the holidays on.

JOEL: Also it’s your mother’s birthday on Friday, don’t forget to call her, so we’re going to jump right into the invention exchange.

TOM: We’re inspired by the electric toothbrush, which many dentists say is a good way to adequately brush even those hard-to-reach back teeth —

CROW: Especially if you’re incredibly lazy.

[ JOEL takes from behind the desk a two-foot tall electric toothbrush. ]

JOEL: So we’ve invented the electric soap-brush! Just lather it up, turn it on —

[ JOEL presses the side, and the soapbrush starts whirring. It splashes foam everywhere, in as excessive a manner possible. ]

GYPSY: And gently wave it over your body…

CROW: Scrubbing you clean!

JOEL: So you don’t have to!

TOM: Coming for Father’s Day, the power loofah.

JOEL: Now down to you, Bausch and Loam.


[ DEEP 13. DR. FORRESTER is wearing a train engineer’s uniform, down to the striped cap, with Deep 13 patches sewn on. TV’s FRANK is standing behind, similarly dressed. The floor is bare. ]

DR. F: And hello, Atcheson, Topeka, and Santa Fe. Like many generic middle-aged men, TV’s Frank is an avid model railroader.

FRANK: I *am* the God of PlasticVille USA!

DR. F: Much as model railroads excel in simulating vaguely 1953 small-town America, if you want the thrill of the big city and of high-population-density transportation networks, you have to look to our invention this week.

FRANK: It’s the model subway!

DR. F: In O, HO, Z, or N gauge now you too can recreate the experience of shuttling hundreds of thousands of tiny passengers far beneath your busy city streets.


[ TV’s FRANK goes to the upper left of the screen, half kneels, and holds his hands out, `showcasing’ the floor. ]

DR. F: There’s the New York City Interboro Rapid Transit lines (Brooklyn Mass Transit sold separately).
[ TV’s FRANK moves to the upper right, and repeats his gestures. ]
DR. F: The stylish and elegant Paris Metro!

[ TV’s FRANK stands stage center and kneels. ]

FRANK: Boston’s MTA — Charlie sold separately! Also available in MBTA.

[ TV’s FRANK moves just behind and left of DR. FORRESTER and gestures. ]

DR. F: The granddaddy of them all, the London Underground!
[ TV’s FRANK moves to the right, and gestures. ]
DR. F: And for the novice, Singapore’s shiny new North-East Line MRT.

[ TV’s FRANK and DR. FORRESTER begin grinning at a private joke. ]

DR. F: What station you at, Frank?

FRANK: Dhoby Ghaut!

DR. F: [ As Ernie Anderson ] In Color!

FRANK: [ Also as Ernie Anderson ] A Quinn Martin Production!

[ BOTH giggle for several seconds, and look to the camera. ]

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. JOEL is toweling off TOM SERVO and CROW. ]

CROW: They’re just amusing themselves now, right?

JOEL: I think they shouldn’t have skimped on their oxygen budget.

[ DEEP 13. As above. TV’s FRANK is humming a generic 70s detective- show-style theme song. ]

DR. F: Well, Robert Moses, your experiment this week is a little piece all about facial hair and political destiny. It’s sure to make you think you’re hallucinating. Bon appetit!

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. As above. ]

TOM: Did they actually make anything?

CROW: I’d buy the Washington Metro, if they’ve got it.

JOEL: I’m thinking of the fantasy line for Madison.

[ MOVIE SIGN flashes. General alarm. ]

ALL: Aaah! We got movie sign!

[ 6… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… ]

[ ALL enter theater. ]

> Path: rpi!usc.edu!attla2!ip.att.net!in.100proofnews.com!in.

CROW: The only news source that’s constantly drunk!

> 100proofnews.com!cycny01.gnilink.net!cyclone1.gnilink.net!ngpeer.
> news.aol.com!audrey-m1.news.aol.com!not-for-mail
> Lines:

JOEL: Line? Anyone?

> 329
> X-Admin: news@aol.com
> From: professormunyan@aol.com (Professor Munyan)

TOM: Professor Munyan and his bunion enjoy some Funyuns!

> Newsgroups:alt.fan.cecil-adams
> Date: 22 Sep 2003 10:21:20 GMT
> Organization: AOL http://www.aol.com

CROW: So all of AOL sent this post?

> Subject: On Beards And Evolution

JOEL: I was wondering when somebody would finally connect them.

> Message-ID: <20030922062120.08275.00001245@mb-m14.aol.com>
> Xref: rpi alt.fan.cecil-adams:653846

TOM: It’s the Xref that makes this extra special.

>
>
>
>
> ON BEARDS AND EVOLUTION

CROW: Oh .. uhm …

TOM: This is gonna be good.

>
>
> I am an educator and an American.

CROW: When Miss Brooks ruled the world!

>
> As an educator, I fulfilled a dream two years ago by becoming
> principal of my high school.

CROW: Finally he gets to show the bullies in gym class who’s boss!

> Prior to that, I taught American
> history for over twenty years.

JOEL: He stopped when somebody pointed out America has almost four hundred years of history, not just twenty.

>
> I taught with a passion for the patriotism and traditional
> American values that made our country great.

CROW: Memorization, rote learning, conformity and mindless obedience!

> As a member of our
> local American Legion, I was also the faculty sponsor for our Boys
> State Club.
>
> I made damned sure

CROW: *Darned* sure.

> that our members dressed, groomed, and
> conducted themselves like young clean cut gentlemen.

TOM: He was embarassed to learn he taught at a girls’ school.

> This meant no
> punk or hippie haircuts.

JOEL: Which served him well when he was teleported back to 1968.

> No earrings, no tattoos, and no beards.

CROW: Oh, yeah, tough guy stopping ninth graders from growing beards. What next, you suspend the girls who grow feathers?

>
> Today, I want to talk about beards.

TOM: We’re all mighty excited to hear that.

>
> We have just embarked upon a new millenium,

JOEL: Please keep your hands and feet inside the cart until we come to a complete stop.

> one whose beginning
> marks a critical juncture in the evolution of human civilization.

TOM: Unlike the rest of human civilization.

> In order to facilitate its progress, it behooves modern men today to
> abstain from the wearing of beards.

CROW: Oh, well, sure, if you put it like — huh?

>
> I will grant three exceptions.

JOEL: Oh, *thank* you, Mister Munyan.

>
> First, I will excuse the actors.

TOM: So Skeet Ulrich, you go ahead and grow a beard.

> Sometimes, an actor is called
> upon to portray a historical figure who wore a beard.
>
> I can relate to this personally.

JOEL: I was afraid he’d have to relate to it only through other people.

> About ten years ago, I was
> offered the opportunity to play the role of General Stonewall
> Jackson in a school play.

CROW: But the play was “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown.”

>
> Normally, I would have considered it a dream come true to play
> a man like Stonewall Jackson.

TOM: Men like him, such as Braxton Bragg.

> But with deep regret, I had to turn
> it down.
>
> It was early in life when I learned that my face was not cut out

JOEL: No, your face is supposed to be attached to you. That’s how it works.

> for the beard I would have had to grow for the part.

TOM: So this guy can only grow pathetic wispy beards, and we have to hear about it?

>
> During a survival camping expedition during my twenties, I went
> an entire week without shaving,

JOEL: I barely escaped with my life!

> and that was about all that I could
> stand.

TOM: Coincidence? Read the book.

> My face itched to high heaven until I was able to seek the
> relief of a razor.

CROW: Then it took another two weeks till I remembered which way the blade is supposed to face.

>
> Second, I will excuse certain religious groups.

CROW: He’ll grant permission to people who don’t care about getting his approval.

> The Amish, in
> particular, have earned my highest admiration for their old
> fashioned morality and simple way of life. They deserve a lot of
> credit.

JOEL: So you can have buttons, or you can have a beard. Choose wisely.

>
> The Orthodox Jews are another example. So are the Sikhs.
>
> Finally, I will excuse the liberals.

JOEL: And the occasional Labour MP.

> If they want to look like
> the leftover overaged hippies they truly are, then I won’t stand in
> their way.

CROW: Yeah, he’s scared somebody’s going to drag him into their psychedellic circus.

> In the meantime, I call upon any good conservative out
> there who is still wearing a beard to shave it off.
>
> Otherwise, I see no other legitimate reason for any modern man
> in this day and age to wear a beard.

TOM: Except for Will Riker.

> Any man who does so without
> just cause is obviously suffering from a deep seated personal
> inadequacy.

JOEL: So why are *you* growing a beard?

TOM: Just ’cause.

JOEL: Well, you pass.

>
> If a man is truly content with his manhood, then why does he
> need to grow all that excess hair?

JOEL: They’re selling it on the black market!

> What is he trying to hide?

CROW: Communism!


[ To be continued … ]

Mutts is in repeats because the cartoonist is working for the Dalai Lama


Patrick McDonnell’s Mutts is not in reruns yet, as this posts. But D D Degg, at The Daily Cartoonist, passes on word that that’s changing. The comic is to go on sabbatical the 5th of July, and stay in repeats until the 1st of January, 2022. McDonnell, apparently, is “to collaborate with His Holiness the Dalai Lama on a special project”.

I haven’t seen any news about what the project is, or how it came about. If anything does come to me, I’ll try and pass it along.

What’s Going On In The Amazing Spider-Man? Are the other Guardians of the Galaxy in this story? March – June 2021


The current-rerun storyline, the last one I intend to cover here, features Rocket Raccoon. Rocket does mention the rest of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Also the team name. They don’t appear in this story. I don’t remember (from when this ran in 2016-17) if there was any excuse given for their non-appearance then. Could be nobody was picking up Rocket Raccoon’s calls. Also, yes, this story first ran two and a half years after the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie. It did wrap up close to the release of the second movie, at least, so that’s the level of cross-promoting tie-in you got from the newspaper strip.

So this catches you (back) up to mid-June 2021 in Roy Thomas and Larry Leiber’s The Amazing Spider-Man. This and my other plot recaps, plus any news about the newspaper comic strip if it ever has news again, are at this link. But unless something changes the next plot recap, around September 2021, will be the last of these.

The Amazing Spider-Man.

21 March – 13 June 2021.

My antepenultimate check-in on The Amazing Spider-Man was near the end of the Ant-Man story. Our heroes take the subway home, because they forgot they rented a car to get to the climax. They have coffee together, agree to hang out again sometime, and never do.

The current repeat story started the 26th of March. Mary Jane’s Broadway play, already shut down, has shut down even more. Theater repairs. But that movie she did? Marvella 2: The Rise of Doctor Bong? The producers would like her to do publicity. So they rent a car, like Peter Parker had such trouble doing last story, and aim for Route 66. Somewhere in New Mexico, they see a meteor strike suspiciously close to them and investigate.

Cop, doing the cool-down talk in the diner: 'Okay, 'Thor' --- put down that sledgehammer.' Ronan: 'I do not know any Thor. I am RONAN, the ACCUSER! And I accuse this planet --- of INSUBORDINATION!' He slugs, sending the groaning cop flying backward.
Roy Thomas and Larry Lieber’s The Amazing Spider-Man for the 9th of April, 2021. So Ronan came to Earth and is just going to punch people until they guess what he’s looking for. I get his assertion that he’s not here to answer questions. But when he demands “WHERE IS IT?” and people ask what “it” is, I mean. You’re not lessening your majesty to let them know whether it’s an object, an event, a location, a feeling, something like that.

The suspicious meteor is actually a suspicious flying saucer. Inside is Ronan The Accuser, who’s come tens of thousands of light years to mess with patrons at a Route 66 Diner. “WHERE IS IT?” he demands, refusing to answer what “it” he means. “Do you want our 600-pound man-killing Mystery Spot?” they ask, assuming supposing he’s here for the tourist trap stuff. “The world’s largest pair of size-32 men’s slacks? (The pant legs have a 612 inseam.) The world’s Most Electrified Mirror Maze? Are you here for the Dueling 40-foot-tall Tic-Tac-Toe Chickens? The Northernmost South Pole Below the 37th Parallel? North America’s Highest Ball of String?” He refuses to say, instead punching out Peter Parker. (Mary Jane, aware she has no powers and is facing a possible supervillain, stayed in the car.) Ronan slurps a bunch of diner food up into his magic hammer, deflating his menace a bit, and storms off seeking The Sentry.

[ An entity called Ronan the Accuser has invaded a New Mexico roadside diner ... ] Mary Jane, thinking: 'It's been too long since Peter went inside to stop that robbery --- or whatever it was. I've got to see if there's anything I can ... ' Peter Parker comes crashing out the plate glass window. Mary Jane: 'Peter --- are you all right?' Peter: 'D - do I look ... all ... ' (He passes out) Mary Jane: 'PETER!' Ronan: 'Defeating my LAST victim depleted some of my energy. These FOODSTUFFS will help me replenish it!' (A bunch of diner food, including the coffee carafe, swoops up toward his hammer.) Ronan: 'Now I must find THAT WHICH I SEEK --- before it is TOO LATE!'
Roy Thomas and Larry Lieber’s The Amazing Spider-Man for the 18th of April, 2021. Ronan is making way too big a scene out of swiping an ice cream cookie sandwich and some fried broccoli.

Peter and Mary Jane don’t know where Ronan’s off to. They also don’t try calling the Fantastic Four, who’ve dealt with Ronan before. Other superheroes never pick up Peter Parker’s calls. That’s not even my joke; he’s gotten Reed Richards’s answering machine in past stories. Anyway, there’s another suspicious meteor strike nearby. (Mary Jane, aware she has no powers and is facing a possible supervillain, insists on going with.) And inside is Rocket Raccoon.

Spider-Man, to a web-bound Rocket Raccoon: 'Now that you're all webbed up, we can have a little talk.' Rocket: 'Yeah, you *do* that, seein' as how I'm so HELPLESS and all.' He jumps right at Spider-Man's belly, knocking him over. Spider-Man grabs the bound Rocket: 'Are you a raccoon --- or a wolverine?' Rocket: 'You're just makin' up all these nutty names, right?'
Roy Thomas and Larry Lieber’s The Amazing Spider-Man for the 12th of may, 2021. Spidey had just joked that it had been three opponents since his webs caught anyone. Anyway, Ronan’s lingua-trans told the Accuser just what a spider was, and enough context to know spiders are easily squashed by humanoids. So why isn’t Rocket’s Lingua-Trans conveying the gist of what raccoons and wolverines mean to humans?

They do the ritual superhero meeting-fight, with Spidey oddly confident he should be doing better against a space raccoon. And then they remember there’s not a blasted thing for them to fight over. Anyway, Rocket Raccoon is on Earth to find the Intergalactic Sentry that Ronan’s after. The Intergalactic Sentry’s this Kree Empire superweapon that blah blah galaxy conquest etc. Also Rocket hopes to deploy a lot of hilarious 60s-70s comic book techno-wordistrifications. He’s got a Lingua-Trans, for example, which is why everyone understands him. A trackoscan that might find Ronan. A ptero-salad sandwich for lunch. He reads the news-a-gram. Talks of putting Ronan into electro-manacles. It’s my level of goofy.

Rocket’s ready to go searching on his own. Spider-Man points out he lives in the galaxy so he’s got an interest in it not being conquered. Mary Jane, aware she has no powers and is facing a possible supervillain, insists on going with.

Motel Manager: 'Hey, kid --- your folks know you're out here eatin' garbage from a trash can?' Rocket: 'Garbage? So that's your name for it? When I ate one on Sirius-12, it was called a Radium Prospector's Delight!' Manager, grabbing Rocket: 'C'mon! can't have you runnin' around at night in that dumb costume!' Rocket: 'LEMME GO!'
Roy Thomas and Larry Lieber’s The Amazing Spider-Man for the 1st of June, 2021. I am amused that the more insistently Rocket goes on about his space stuff, the more he sounds like a difficult kid who just WILL NOT STOP with his space stuff. Also, since he could grab and carry Rocket without trouble, the motel manager has super-strength beyond Spider-Man’s, right?

They check into a motel, excusing Rocket’s appearance as their kid wearing a Halloween costume. The motel owner is skeptical. “If that’s a Halloween costume, why isn’t it a cheap plastic mask with a broken rubber band, plus a flimsy T-shirt showing a picture of a raccoon?” But also he doesn’t care. At least not until a naked Rocket sneaks out, looking for food, and gets into a fight with a coyote over the trash bins.

Mary Jane: 'Rocket, if you keep attracting people's attention --- ' Peter Parker: 'The Men In Black'll show up and toss you into an alien holding cell!' Rocket: 'Hey, a guy's gotta eat! Now, if you'll give me some space ... I'll finish adjusting my Trackoscan to Ronan's Aura!' Mary Jane, Peter: '?'
Roy Thomas and Larry Lieber’s The Amazing Spider-Man for the 3rd of June, 2021. Rocket raiding a trash can is not my favorite development. But it starts from a good spot, with Rocket waking and surprised they need more than one hour a night’s sleep. It’s a plausible reason he’d have time to kick around and get very hungry. And it’s the sort of mistake nobody has to be dumb to make.

Rocket’s track-o-scan finds Ronan. The Accuser is at Petroglyph National Monument, a National Park with thousands of figures carved by Pueblo peoples. The “star person” carving Rocket Raccoon identifies as the marker for the ancient Kree starship used to transport sentries. The revelation, about a real-world petroglyph, is not even the littlest bit near the racist “Ancient Astronaut” myth so don’t worry about that. Rocket and Spider-Man head off for Ronan. Mary Jane, aware she has no powers and is facing a possible supervillain, stays in the car.

This story has about thirteen weeks left to it. So my plan is to run the next Spider-Man plot recap a week late, and give the web-slinger an honorable retirement. I haven’t decided what if anything will take its place in my rotation. I’m up for thoughts, if anyone has them.

Next Week!

Jonathan Lemon and Joey Alison Sayers’s Alley Oop took a little break from time travel to do some dimension-hopping instead. That worked out great for all the dimensions involved, right? If all goes to plan, we’ll check in next week and see. Thanks for reading.

Thoughts while waiting for the Showcases


Just got to thinking about a moment we must infer happened sometime in the 70s. The Price Is Right production team was thinking out ways to bring prizes out on-camera. And someone declared, “We shall have a tugboat pull them out!” Were they immediately recognized as wise? Were they laughed at at the time? But stayed confident in their rightness and lived to hear their doubters admit they were wrong? What were the rejected possibilities? Parachutes, obviously. Submarines, too, given the difficulty working out agreements with the show filming the next floor under them. LSTs.

Or am I thinking of it backwards? Did someone originally buy The Price Is Right Tugboat by some complicated mistake, and then go about looking for ways to use it? And every time it’s brought out they thank their lucky stars that it came out okay?

These are all questions I feel I cannot answer.

60s Popeye: Popeye in the Woods and … did Wimpy invent the bacon cheeseburger?


Today’s is a cartoon from 1960. I always lead with that, but I want that year particularly remembered. The story is by Ed Nofziger, and the animation direction by Eddie Rehberg. So you know the producer (and director) was Jack Kinney. So, again, from 1960, here’s Popeye in the Woods.

This is another cartoon that feels like two cartoon ideas pushed together. In particular, it feels like a regular cartoon onto which a public service announcement was grafted, like Gene Deitch’s Tooth Be Or Not Tooth Be. Here, it’s a camping cartoon plus a warning about not setting the forest on fire.

So it sends Popeye and Wimpy out to the woods, past a quick shot of commanding billboards, to sleep. They’re out in the open, without even sleeping bags. Popeye is kept awake by the quiet sounds of the woods. Apart from a squirrel dropping an acorn and a frog beating its chest, these are all insects. Or mushrooms popping up. I’m not sure why it’s almost all insect noises, except I guess for the comic exaggeration that a caterpillar is so very slight a sound.

There’s also the good comic instinct that Wimpy falls asleep and stays asleep. This after complaining he wanted hamburgers that Popeye said they couldn’t cook here. Wimpy snores, so we know he’s asleep. But he’s also interrupted by mutterings about hamburgers. And the most interesting one is a muttering, “hamburger with cheese and bacon”.

So, do you know the story of The Bacon Cheeseburger? Granting, yes, it’s always hard to track down where foods actually started. But the least-disputed claim is that bacon cheeseburgers first appeared at an A&W restaurant on then-US 16 in Lansing, Michigan. In 1963. (The road is now either Grand River Avenue or Cesar Chavez Avenue, depending on where the restaurant was.) Then-franchise-owner Dave Mulder thought the cheeseburger would be even better with bacon, and what do you know, was right. (Mulder would go on to be chairman of A&W, so, good instincts all around.) Granted, it’s absurd to suppose that no person ever had the thought of putting bacon on a cheeseburger before 1963. This still seems like an early publication of the idea.

And this is not Wimpy’s only act of food pioneering this cartoon. After Popeye finally silences the forest, the quiet wakes him up. Again, good story structure there. Wimpy sees the mushrooms that appeared and declares “mushroom-burgers are delicious”. He sets them grilling on what seems more like a mushroom kebab than anything else, but, still. Today, restaurants offer portobello mushrooms, for vegetarians who want something like a burger only disappointing. When did that start? When did that become widespread? People aren’t copying Wimpy’s inspiration here, right?

A chagrinned Wimpy imagines the burned-out forest, with survivor raccoon, two deer, and a rabbit crying over their fates.
If that were a skunk rather than a raccoon, I would wonder whether former Disney animator Jack Kinney was alluding to the movie version of Bambi. I’m still a bit curious whether that was still the goal but they thought a skunk would be a distraction in a way a raccoon wasn’t.

Wimpy’s campfire starts a forest fire, and Popeye eats his spinach so he can stomp it out. Wimpy has to jump into the water to put himself out, and ruins his mushroom-burger-kebab. And Popeye explains how bad forest fires are, starting from the killed trees to the displaced animals to the floods and human misery that result. And then cooks a chagrinned Wimpy some hamburgers, in a proper grill, because he’s Popeye the safety-in-the-woods man.

As with the tooth cartoon I’d like to know if this was meant to be a public service. I wouldn’t think it hard to fill a whole five minutes with camping jokes, especially since so much of the time was jokes about not being able to get to sleep. It makes more sense they couldn’t find five minutes of jokes about woodland fire safety, at least not before deadline. It would also make sense of Wimpy feeling regret about the innocents he might have harmed.

And I would so like to know whether Wimpy bestowed on us all the bacon cheeseburger and the portobello mushroom burger and didn’t even make a fuss of it.

Statistics Saturday: Some Rules of Baseball


  • 5.01. Starting the Game (“Play Ball!”).
  • 6.01(g). Interference With Squeeze Play or Steal of Home.
  • 8.03. Umpire position.
  • 5.06(a). Occupying the Base.
  • 9.23. Guidelines for Cumulative Performance Records.
  • 5.07(a)(1). The Windup Position.
  • 3.05. First baseman’s gloves.
  • 5.07(f). Ambidextrous Pitchers.
  • 6.01(i). Collisions at Home Plate.
  • 9.06. Determining Values of Base Hits.
  • 5.09(d). Effect of Preceding Runner’s Failure to Touch a Base.
  • 3.09. Undue Commercialization.
  • 4.03. Exchange of Lineup Cards.
  • 1.00. Objectives of the Game.
  • 2.05. Benches.

Reference: Empires Of Food: Feast, Famine, And The Rise And Fall Of Civilizations, Evan D G Fraser, Andrew Rimas.

60s Popeye: Battery Up or we could sneak out and watch Baseball Bugs if you prefer


Nothing against today’s cartoon. It’s a 1960 cartoon with the story by Jack Kinney. So you know what that says about the production. Animation direction is credited to Volus Jones and Ed Friedman. It’s just that there’s already a really good baseball cartoon out there. Still, we didn’t stop making space movies when there’s already the bits from Battle Beyond The Stars that I kind of remember from when I was sixteen. So let’s extend the same courtesy to other premises. Battery up!

We get a nice rousing start, with Jackson Beck doing his best sports-announcer voice. I haven’t listened to actual radio broadcasts of the 50s but it all sounds plausible enough. Introducing the characters with newspaper mockups is a good device and also lets them save like a minute’s worth of animation budget. From the headlines we see Thompson Tries for Records at least twice on the same page, so Thompson’s having a good season.

After that? Well, we get your basic jokes for one difficult half of an inning of baseball. It’s Popeye versus a team of Brutus duplicates. Brutus hits everything Popeye tosses at him, which is lucky because Popeye doesn’t have a catcher. It’s curious that having a team of nine Brutuses is okay in a way that nine Popeyes could not be. In the Fleischer cartoon The Twisker Pitcher Popeye and Bluto had anonymous teammates.

But even with a minute of staring at still pictures there isn’t the animation budget for teammates. There’s also no animation budget for crowds; the only person in the stands is Olive Oyl. She has a nice, underplayed joke where she has everything at her seat, including a coffee percolator, a TV set, and an alarm clock. It’s a surprise to have an understated joke, in this era; I’m glad seeing it.

Picture of a 1960-style TV set, with a smiling Popeye on screen sliding a pristine blank background in place of a 'broken' picture.
Be right back; I’m going to photoshop this into a Coming Up Next card for my fake TV station.

Most of the cartoon’s time is spent on silly pitches and silly fielding. Nothing at all wrong. Worst you can say about it is that there’s only one big, surprising joke. That’s the baseball heading right for the camera and then Popeye apologizing for breaking your TV. That’s a great moment of energy and if there were two more jokes like that I’d call this a great baseball cartoon. (Olive Oyl’s pile of stuff is funny and gets better each time you see it, but it’s not a big joke.) Instead, it’s pretty good for the cheap TV leagues.

A curious point here. Popeye gets around to his spinach, yes. But there’s no point where Brutus and the Bruclones are cheating. They hit everything Popeye throws at them, but they’re hitting fair and square. (And even at that, they hit one pop fly that’s so easy Popeye doesn’t have to move to catch it.) At least in The Twisker Pitcher Bluto did stuff like mess with Popeye’s clothes and swap his spinach out for grass. It throws the moral balance off. And there’s a curious not-quite-resolution. An unconscious Brutus accidentally hits a ball that knocks out Popeye and Olive Oyl. It’s a good idea for how to end the action, since we don’t have time to set up a way for Popeye to win the game. But without someone — it would have to be Wimpy — to observe anything, it leaves the cartoon petering out. Poor form. It’s essays written online reviewing things that are supposed to peter out, not cartoons.

MiSTed: What’s Actually HOT and NASTY About Venus? Part 2 of 2


And today I conclude another MiSTing. This of Brad Guth’s essay demanding that someone explain what in fact makes Venus a nasty place for us. The first half of this Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfic ran last week, and next week? We’ll just see what I do.

The reference at the far end to Arthur Claude Munyan is an allusion to the author of another rant I had MiSTed. I’d completely forgotten and needed about twenty minutes of work to figure out what the heck I was on about. The weird non sequitur bit about tennis nets is from a Robert Benchley essay because I was going through a phase where I thought adding silly nonsense made the credits longer and therefore better. I apologize for my error.


> In fact, the acclamation to that sort of environment might
> even become humanly doable,

TOM: You just have to find the fun.

> within as little as 0.1% O2 and the bulk
> of the remainder as CO2

JOEL: CO2 — The Wrath of Khan!

> or perhaps artificially accommodated by a gas
> of some other element that’s quite likely already within the
> technology that’s at hand.

CROW: Like those dancing soda cans.

>
> There’s certainly no shortage of green/renewable energy at one’s
> disposal,

TOM: In fact, there’s none at all.

> thus no amount of raw energy need be imported.

JOEL: Just refill your thermos at the natural fountains of Red Bull.

> There’s
> certainly no shortage of H2O that’s sequestered within them
> relatively cool clouds

CROW: Them’s cool clouds, baby.

TOM: They’re the Barry Whites of strato-cumulus formations.

> (especially those of their nighttime season).

JOEL: In the nighttime season’s when we let it all hang out.

>
> I have a good number of other qualifiers

CROW: A couple conditionals, and three uses of the subjunctive tense …

> plus my humanly subjective
> interpretations of an image (nearly 3D at 36 looks per 8-bit pixel)

TOM: It’s just an ASCII art calendar of Snoopy.

> closeup look-see at what can be reviewed as every bit as most likely
> artificial,

JOEL: Venus is dyeing her hair?

> as otherwise nicely surrounded by whatever else is
> supposedly so freaking hot and nasty about Venus

CROW: Like her bratty kids and obnoxious dog.

> (whereas hot being
> almost entirely in reference to geological/geothermal heat since so
> little solar energy ever migrates into the surface).

JOEL: Um … you’re dangling participles there, Brad.

TOM: He’s dangling *everything* there.

> Of course, this
> information as having been deductively obtained from my
> observationology

CROW: Brad’s a certified expert in observationologicalizationalizing.

> perspective is now nearly 6 years old,

JOEL: Obervationologicalisms are so cute at that age.

> whereas I’d
> informed our NASA as to sharing my SWAG (scientific wild [ bleep ]
> guess) upon a few specific items of interest,

TOM: They were most interested in the chance at saving up to fifteen percent by switching to Geico.

> as having been so
> nicely imaged by way of their Magellan mission,

CROW: They’re not bad observationologicalisticalizers themselves.

> as to my sharing upon
> exactly what was worth taking a second unbiased review upon whatever
> Venus has to offer.

TOM: I called dibs on the chewey caramel inside.

> Silly me for thinking outside the box,

CROW: Or on top of spaghetti.

> much less
> upon anything the least bit positive or in my expecting something
> other of productive considerations

TOM: Does he mean money?

> as would have come by way of our
> nay-say (nondisclosure) folks at NASA,

JOEL: They say nay-say, we say, yes-way.

> that which apparently still
> had a good cash of way more than their fair share of "the right
> stuff",

CROW: Space rant mention of “The Right Stuff”, check.

> rather than having to risk dealing with anything as having to
> do with our moon nor Venus

JOEL: Wait, what’s the moon got to do with this?

TOM: Joel, have you not been observationalicologizing the same thing as the rest of us?

> regardless of whatever science and
> discovery potential may have been previously overlooked or simply
> underestimated, thus unappreciated.

JOEL: Okay, I’ll give five dollars to the first person who can diagram that sentence correctly.

>
> BTW; I’ve included "news.admin.censorship"

CROW: I want to be censored. Daily. By Barbara Feldon.

> in order to minimise
> topic/author stalking, topic diversions into unrelated forums

JOEL: Well, sure, I can see how that … huh?

> and MOS
> spermware attacks upon my PC.

ALL: AAAAH!

TOM: GAH!

CROW: Don’t DO that!

JOEL: Hey, these are young bots!

CROW: I always thought MOS was more into serving chicken burgers with rice patty buns and smiley suns and stuff.

> The previous topic of "What’s so HOT
> and NASTY about Venus?"

TOM: Previous?

CROW: Did we fall into a time vortex?

JOEL: We’ll need more careful observationaligisticalication to be sure.

> http://groups.google.com/group/

JOEL: googles/com/ …

TOM: group/google/coms/ …

> sci.space.history/browse_frm/

CROW: Browse Ferret.

> thread/
> 7a7cab487beb942d/a7f016c63e03207b?

ALL: o/`It’s the most remarkable word I’ve ever seen! o/`

> lnk=st&q=brad+guth&rnum=8&hl=en#
> a7f016c63e03207b

JOEL: Queen to Queen’s level three.

> offers good info at least from myself but, otherwise
> having been quite thoroughly hammered by those encharge

TOM: Encharge!

CROW: Guard! Turn!

JOEL: Parry! Thrust! Spin!

> of keeping
> our perpetrated cold-war(s) and space-race lids on tight, thus giving
> need for a fresh topic reset. ~

JOEL: This is all going to tie in to the Legion of Superheroes at some point.

>
> Life on Venus, Township w/Bridge

CROW: A Venusian haiku.

> and ET/UFO Park-n-Ride Tarmac:

TOM: And the Ferris Wheel to Jupiter!

> http://guthvenus.tripod.com/gv-town.htm

TOM: Forget it, Jake, it’s gv-town.

> The Russian/China LSE-CM/ISS

JOEL: And write in `pizza’ where it says `machine gun’.

> (Lunar Space Elevator)

CROW: With Bubble Puppy, tonight in concert.

> http://guthvenus.tripod.com/lunar-space-elevator.htm Venus ETs, plus

TOM: Neptunian Encounters of the Third Kind.

> the updated sub-topics; Brad Guth / GASA-IEIS

JOEL: Well, try some Chloretts.

> http://guthvenus.tripod.com/gv-topics.htm
> "In war there are no rules" –

CROW: Not even in tactical field backgammon.

> Brad Guth

TOM: He certainly did.

CROW: Let’s blow this popsicle stand.

[ ALL exit. ]

[ 1.. 2.. 3.. 4.. 5.. 6.. ]


[ SOL DESK. JOEL is sitting down, head on his hands on the desk,
and he’s wet. TOM and CROW are by his side, holding water guns,
squirting his face and hair regularly. The scene holds, JOEL
getting progressively damper, for several seconds; the longer,
the better. ]

GYPSY: [ Leaning into view ] Remember to keep your humans moist. This message brought to you by the Church of Latter-Day Venus.

[ TOM and CROW squirt one last time. ]

JOEL: What do you think, sirs?

[ DEEP 13. DR FORRESTER and TV’s FRANK are both on the couch, holding half-eaten TV lunches, watching TV. DR FORRESTER groans still; TV’s FRANK is chipper as ever. ]

FRANK: Want more of the macaroni and cheese made from slightly sour milk and that gnarly little half-pat of butter meal?

DR F: [ Whimpers ]

FRANK: Right-O, pushing the button, boss.

[ TV’s FRANK reaches over and … ]

                            \   |   /
                             \  |  /
                              \ | /
                               \|/
                            ----O----
                               /|\
                              / | \
                             /  |  \
                            /   |   \

Mystery Science Theater 3000 and the characters and situations therein are the property of Best Brains, Inc, and are used while they aren’t looking. The essay “What’s actually HOT and NASTY about Venus?” is the property of Brad Guth. This MiSTing as a whole is the property of Joseph Nebus, who intends no ill-will towards Brad Guth, Best Brains, Mystery Science Theater 3000, Arthur Claude Munyan, or the Swanson’s corporation. The tennis net does not appear until the 17th century. Up until that time a rope, either fringed or tasseled, was stretched across the court. This probably had to be abandoned because it was so easy to crawl under it and chase your opponent. Come back, Dr Mike Neylon!

> BTW; I’ve included "news.admin.censorship" in order to minimise
> topic/author stalking, topic diversions into unrelated forums and MOS
> spermware attacks upon my PC.

A question created when I was looking up _The Odd Couple_


All right, so Wikipedia brought me to this article about The Oddball Couple

It’s a mid-70s DePatie-Freleng cartoon …

It’s a Saturday Morning Cartoon version of The Odd Couple

The Oscar character is a dog named Fleabag. He’s voiced by Dick Dastardly actor, ventriloquist, and artificial-heart pioneer Paul Winchell

The Felix character is voiced by … yyyyyyyyyyes, it says Frank Nelson.

Did I make this up and slip it into Wikipedia as a gag and then forget?

Screenshot of Wikipedia's article about The Oddball Couple, a short-lived 1975 cartoon version of The Odd Couple, containing a picture of the title card and a paragraph describing the series.
I mean, yes, it looks convincing. That mossy-mold background for the title card is SUCH a DePatie-Freleng touch that it makes me suspicious. If this were really done in the 70s they’d sometimes get their style wrong. Also, Wikipedia says that Fleabag and Spiffy shared a secretary named Goldie Hound. At some point just having the mountain of evidence becomes suspicious.

What’s Going On In Judge Parker? Where did Randy Parker vanish to? March – June 2021


We don’t know! The past few months of Francesco Marciuliano and Mike Manley’s Judge Parker saw a crazification, where what had been a stable arrangement blew up. It’s too soon to say where Randy Parker, April Parker, and their daughter Charlotte are. Nor whether they’re going to run into Ted Forth and shock him by being The Chadwells.

This should catch you up to early June 2021. If you’re reading this after about September 2021, or any news about the strip breaks, I’ll try to have an essay at this link which might help you more.

Judge Parker.

14 March – 5 June 2021.

Charlotte Parker was seeing her mother walk by the house every day. This perturbed her father, Randy Parker, because April was off in Super Hyper Ultra Duper Spy Assassin World. It’s a dangerous world, one in which we’re likely to run into Norton, even though April Parker said on-screen that he’s dead. (Norton will never be dead.) Retired Judge Alan Parker asked Sam Driver to check. Is April Parker lurking around her (ex?)-husband’s home, and if so, why? And this leads to a day in which everything happens at once.

Deputy Mayor Stewart: 'It's just ... you had some properties reassessed at almost double their previous value. Properties that belonged to your opponent's supporters.' Mayor Sanderson: 'It's been a helluva real estate market the last year, Stewart! People had to expect to pay more property taxes.' Stewart: 'You also have Spencer Farms paying triple in taxes from last year.' Sanderson: 'They put a B-and-B on their property. Last year there was no business. But with the pandemic nearing a hopeful end, the value has changed.'
Francesco Marciuliano and Mike Manley’s Judge Parker for the 24th of March, 2021. Abbey Spencer has to spend some part of her day wondering why Mayor Sanderson isn’t always dealing with never-suspected evil half-siblings and ultra-hyper-super-duper assassins and drug-dealer starlets and stuff, right? Why does he get to just sit back and do Stephen Colbert Eyebrow Push-Ups at his staff?

The easy stuff, first. Cavelton’s reelected crazypants mayor Phil Sanderson sent out the new property taxes. They include punitive tax hikes on his political opponents, such as Abbey Spencer. This seems like something one could challenge in court. But Sanderson’s already looking ahead to his third term in office. Also to changing the town laws so he can serve a third term. Deputy Mayor Stewart, who I bet has a second name, takes this news with a sequence of faces of pouty concern.

[ While on a stakeout, Sam gets a call from ... ] Sam: 'Neddy! That's wonderful news!' Neddy: 'I KNOW! I can't believe Ronnie's and my show is actually going to series! IT WILL ACTUALLY BE STREAMING FOR ACTUAL PEOPLE TO SEE!' Sam: 'Which channel?' Neddy ;'A new streaming service called Plus+!' (Silent penultimate panel.) Sam: 'Please excuse the silence, but I wasn't sure if you were joking with that name or ... ' Neddy: 'I know. I can't even find the app on Roku. But who cares?!? IT'S ALL HAPPENING!!!'
Francesco Marciuliano and Mike Manley’s Judge Parker for the 4th of April, 2021. “It’s all happening”; hold that thought.

Second, and happy news: Neddy Spencer and Ronnie Huerta’s series got picked up! The show is based on what they imagine the April Parker/Godiva Danube relationship was like. It’s to run on a streaming service that exists in the minds of its investors. Still, a show credit is a show credit. They call that in to home as everything else explodes.

Now the explosions. Almost all the past three months of Judge Parker took place over a single day. Sam Driver, staking out Randy’s home, sees who he thinks is April Parker. He chases her, until a bicyclist accidentally collides with him. The bicyclist has nothing to do with anything and is happy to leave when the woman draws a knife on him. The woman is not April Parker. She’s Rogue Agent Strand, former partner to Norton and a woman who looks rather like April.

[ As an unconscious Sam lies on the street ... Randy wants the full truth ... ] Randy Parker: 'How did you just happen to be here the moment I realized 'Agent Strand' was outside my house? The moment Sam showed up?' April: 'I ... I still have you tapped. I have everyone tapped. I've been tracking the CIA's movements for months.'
Francesco Marciuliano and Mike Manley’s Judge Parker for the 3rd of May, 2021. “Really? You have Randy Parker and the CIA tapped?” ponders The Phantom, pausing between his jobs as protector and fair arbiter of the Bangallan natives, and the Unknown Commander of the Jungle Patrol, and the globetrotting terrorist-fighting super-vigilante who answers letters sent to Box 7, Mawitaan. “That’s a lot of cognitive overhead you’re putting on yourself there. Is that really a plausible workload for a human being? Really?”

Meanwhile inside Randy’s house is April Parker. She and Randy have a furious argument about how this does too make sense. April’s thesis is that the CIA is going to capture her by killing Randy and kidnapping Charlotte. Strand, who needs back in the CIA Good Graces file, is there to provide credible sightings of April Parker. April can then be framed for the murder of Randy and kidnapping of Charlotte. And this would leave April with no contact with her former life. Unless she turned herself in and revealed everything she’s learned in her rogue super-agent days. The only way for Randy to live, and Charlotte to be free, is to abandon their lives now and join April on the super-assassin circuit.

It’s a lot to swallow. And Randy’s under a lot of pressure. Like, everybody in the world is calling him at once. You tried calling him. If I have two phone calls in a day I’m useless until next Tuesday. The pressure keeps up. “They” get cited as closing in. April insists they must go now. Here the fact that story comics only get two or three panels a day fights the drama. This whole scene takes a month and a half of reader time to finish. It allows for unwanted giggles about April’s insistence they don’t have much time. In-universe, yes. I think you could do Randy and April’s whole scene in as little as five minutes. But, especially with the cutaways to everyone calling or driving to the scene? It was hard to feel the rush day-by-day.

Randy: 'Why ... why would they take Charlotte?' April: 'As leverage to draw me out! They want me dead, but they want my intel on others, too. So ... listen ... ' Randy: 'What?' April: 'I don't hear a sound coming from Charlotte's room.'
Francesco Marciuliano and Mike Manley’s Judge Parker for the 6th of May, 2021. Charlotte’s okay! She’s just scared by all this arguing about whether the plot makes sense so she hid a while. Nothing to worry about.

Sam Driver recovers consciousness and races back to Randy’s house. He and Abbey Spencer converge inside, in time to be surrounded by police. Who called them? Unknown. (I’d guess the bicyclist, if it isn’t someone in on the conspiracy.) Where are Randy and April and Charlotte? Unknown. Randy gave his father a quick choking good-bye call and left behind … everything.

The 31st of May saw another several-month time jump, a common Marciuliano response to having crazyfied the story. Randy and Charlotte and April Parker are all missing still. The police and the CIA questioned Sam Driver and everybody they could find. But none of them know anything about anything. That’s about where we readers stand too. (Among other things we don’t know whether anyone in authority believes Sam and all know nothing.) And Sam’s feeling guilty about failing Alan Parker.

How does this all develop? If the pattern follows, we’ll see a couple weeks of rationalizing and stepping back from the craziest parts of what just happened. I can’t guess whether that involves showing Randy and Charlotte Parker. Or showing everyone else reacting to their absence.

Next Week!

Roy Thomas and Larry Leiber’s The Amazing Spider-Man draws nearer to the end of my coverage, but does so in style. By “in style” I mean “with Rocket Raccoon mocking Peter Parker a lot”. Hope to see you next week, True Believers!

60s Popeye: Jeep Jeep, the one with the Jeep


Today’s is a short from the Jack Kinney studios, so you know who’s producer. Story is by Ed Nofziger and animation direction Ken Hultren. Here is 1960’s Jeep Jeep.

The Popeye Wikia says Jeep Jeep “is not to be confused with Jeep Is Jeep. They have made their ruling; now let them enforce it.

1960’s Jeep Jeep is a Jack Kinney Studio production introducing Eugene the Jeep. 1960’s Jeep Is Jeep is a Paramount Cartoon Studios production introducing Eugene the Jeep. I’m curious whether all five 1960s King Features studios did their Introducing The Jeep cartoon.

This time around, it’s Swee’Pea who discovers the Jeep, after he wanders far from home. I like that as an idea. Travel as a way to encounter and be changed by magic fits. Even if Swee’Pea is only nine miles from Popeye’s Boring Suburban Home. Nine miles is a pretty good journey for someone who can’t walk upright yet.

Swee’Pea brings Eugene home. Popeye’s willing in the end to accept a magic pet who can broadcast music and CW ham radio. (I couldn’t make out what Eugene’s Morse code message was. I suspect it was nonsense.) Brutus and the Sea Hag decide they’ve got to steal a dog who knows how far away the Sun is. I understand this was shorthand for “knows everything”, but from what we see? It’s a dog that can help you win pub quiz night. Also not sure why Brutus and the Sea Hag teamed up on this. Or why it takes two villains.

Swee'Pea looking up delighted at what appears to be a large Jeep. It's Brutus wearing a Jeep costume; the audience can see the seams.
So did Brutus and Sea Hag make that Jeep costume, or did they rent it?

Their plan: kidnap Swee’Pea so they can kidnap Eugene. This seems like one kidnapping too many to me. Maybe the Sea Hag figures it’s the only way to keep Eugene from attacking her. Anyway, Popeye has a plan, which is to give the villains what they want, and then wait for their plan fall apart. And this works. Eugene’s treasure map takes them, by plane, by train, through swamps, to the desert, to dig into jail. Popeye barely has to get up from his chair.

I want to like this cartoon more than I do. It’s Jeep-centered, for one. The resolution involves out-thinking the bad guys instead of just punching them. But the story’s too ramshackle for me to quite buy. Like, why do Brutus and the Sea Hag grab Swee’Pea and not Eugene? Why do they take this long yet very quick journey to dig into a jail? How did they not notice they were next to a jail? (I expected Eugene to have them dig into Fort Knox, malicious compliance with their wish for a place with tons of gold.) Was there nothing Popeye could do besides follow these adventures over his hand-held Jeep TV set?

Could be I assumed a Jack Kinney cartoon is going to have more comical weirdness to it. Or I want too much out of a Eugene the Jeep cartoon. Hard to say.

60s Popeye: A Poil For Olive Oyl (I count at least 28 poils myself)


Back today to Paramount Cartoon Studios, and the year 1961. Seymour Kneitel gets credit for direction and (of course) production. Joseph Gottlieb gets the story credit. He also had the story credits for Operation Ice-Tickle and for Going … Boing … Gone. So I’m glad to have a title from him that doesn’t make me wonder if I’m missing an obvious pun. We search now for A Poil For Olive Oyl.

The hosts of bad-movies podcast The Flop House once offered that a common bad-movie mistake is explaining wrong things. Too much time on backstory that doesn’t matter, not enough on why characters would want to do this thing now. A Poil For Olive Oyl is an example of this explain-the-wrong-things error.

Popeye wants to get Olive Oyl a birthday gift. She looks at a $12,000 mink coat and then a $5,000 strand of pearls. This setup takes about as long as third grade. I don’t mind giving Popeye a reason to go pearl-diving. But how long did we need the jewelry store owner to spend figuring out 20% off of five thousand dollars? We could have started with Popeye on the boat, saying, “And now I will collect the poils for your birthday presenk, Olive!”. We’d lose the not-quite-jokes about Popeye being a cheapskate. But the cheapskate jokes also imply that Olive Oyl can’t guess, to within four thousand dollars, what’s a reasonable cost for a birthday gift.

When Popeye gets to the oysters we have a modest but actual flight of fantasy. The beds are literal beds, oysters tucked in under blankets and all. The whimsy isn’t bad or unprecedented. Paramount Cartoon Studios was the Fleischer Studios reorganized. Surreality was the Fleischer’s greatest strength. But it has been a while since this studio put this sort of fantasy in its Popeye cartoons. I like the intent behind putting this whimsy in. But giving the oysters eyes and beds and pillows anthropomorphizes them in a way that makes taking their pearls more like theft.

Olive Oyl (seen from behind) watches a TV set showing Popeye swimming underwater.
Hey, nice of Olive Oyl to watch the cartoon along with us!

Even more like theft: the Sea Hag says Popeye is stealing from her oyster beds. Popeye insists that’s false, but … is it? I’m not asking about the actual maritime law about ownership of oyster beds. If she’s been farming oysters and she’s come out to chase off a tresspasser? Explain it to me like I’m a seven-year-old who’s accepted the folk-Lockean notions of the origins of property that every American grows up with. Because that gets the end of the cartoon, and finally some action, on a bad footing. Which is a shame. It’s the rare example of Olive Oyl eating the spinach and punching the bad guy. You don’t want that foiled by doubts about who’s right.

So there’s the problems here. We spend a lot of time justifying why Popeye would dive for pearls. But we don’t get to hear why the Sea Hag hasn’t got at least equal rights to the pearls. The cartoon counts on “she’s the villain so she must be being villainous” and that doesn’t work. My quick fix? When Popeye gets to the oyster beds, ask for volunteers to donate pearls to Olive Oyl’s necklace. Then Popeye’s not stealing from the anybody while the Sea Hag is. And start the cartoon at the oyster beds. We don’t need it explained why someone might gather pearls to make a necklace.

Statistics Saturday: Some Forecast Weather


  • Sunny and warmer, chance of evening showers.
  • Sunny and cooler, chance of overnight storms.
  • Partly cloudy, breezy. Hardly needing that study session.
  • Overcast and windy or rainy.
  • Imaginary hailstones the size of hypothetical golf balls.
  • Overcast and windy xor rainy.
  • Snow with trace accumulations.
  • Not rainy and not cloudy if and only if sunny and clear.
  • Snow, two to three odds.
  • Freezing rain giving way to heavy fog after a protracted court fight.
  • Distant sound of a train that hasn’t run on that line since the Penn Central bankruptcy.
  • Unfair and warmer.

Reference: The Teapot Dome Scandal: How Big Oil Bought the Harding White House and Tried to Steal the Country, Laton McCartney.

Statistics May: How In May 2021 Everyone Figured They Had The Right Amount Of Me


The past couple months had unusual things bring readers here. People looking for that post about which color tablet makes which Easter egg color, for example. Easter isn’t all that unusual, but most months it doesn’t happen. Or people on Reddit linking to one of my pictures to explain Mark Trail drama. As best I can tell, in May, none of that happened. There were just people coming around for their usual reasons. These reasons are plot recaps of story strips, this one S J Perelman essay, and bots trying to place generic comments on every web site they can reach. And what does this imply for my readership totals?

They went incredibly average. May 2021 looks to be the average-est month I’ve ever had. WordPress says there were 4,910 page views in May 2021. That’s below the twelve-month running mean, leading up to May, of 5,478.7 views per month. But it’s almost dead on the twelve-month median, which was 4,930 page views. There were 2,979 unique visitors as WordPress counts these things. That’s again below the mean of 3,317.5. But it’s still quite close to the twelve-month running median of 2,979. There were 38 comments in May. In the twelve months leading up to May there were a mean of 41.3 comments per month, and a median of 39.5 comments per month.

Bar chart of two and a half years' worth of monthly readership figures. After an upward spike in April and a smaller hig point in March the readership was down to rather close to 5,000 page views in May.
Sometimes I wonder what kind of blogger I’d be if I hadn’t discovered people want to read me explaining Gil Thorp to them. It’s too horrible a fate to consider.

It’s in likability that May stands out. There were 199 things liked in May. The mean is 114.2 per month, and the median 120.5. I think people love me mentioning forgotten sitcom Alice.


The most popular things from May this past month were mostly comic strip news, as usual:

I’m glad other people are as baffled by remembering anything about Alice as I am. The most popular of the MiSTings was Dreams of a Lost Past/Loss, Part 2 of 4 and I don’t know why that should be the best-liked slice of that.

Not one of my most popular pieces, somehow, but deserving of attention? Here’s how to get rid of WordPress’s Block Editor and get the good editor back. You’re welcome, everybody who hates WordPress’s Block Editor, which is to say, everyone who uses WordPress’s Block Editor. This would include the people who programmed the Block Editor, except we know they do not use the Block Editor. If they used the Block Editor they would have either fixed any of its limitless problems, or resigned rather than continue to endorse that fiasco.

My plan for story comic recaps for the coming month is to do these:

As ever, that’s subject to rejiggering if events warrant. When Rocket Raccoon gets done insulting The Amazing Spider-Man, I figure to drop that strip. The comic will have cycled back into strips I’ve already recapped. While I could do a better job recapping them now, do I need to do that work?

I’m open to thoughts about how to replace Spider-Man. Might do one of the not-newspaper-syndicated story comics like Rip Haywire. Or the humor story strip Safe Havens. But since I’ve missed its big multi-year Mars Mission storyline that’s probably anticlimax. I will not be reporting on what’s going on in Endtown because by the time any Endtown story is a month old I have no idea what’s going on in it. But, if someone has a good idea, please share.


Mercator-style map of the world, with the United States in dark red and most of the New World, western Europe, South and Pacific Rim Asia, Australia, and New Zealand in a more uniform pink.
Also sometimes I wonder what it would be like if I hadn’t pre-written the alt text, to describe what this monthly readership map looks like, so I can copy and paste that to each month for which it applies. And what will happen if I ever have a month where it doesn’t apply, like because I get way more page views from Ecuador than from the United States.

In May, some 85 countries sent me any readers at all. 18 of them were a single reader each. Here’s the roster:

Country Readers
United States 3,416
India 226
United Kingdom 164
Canada 161
Germany 117
Brazil 91
Philippines 83
Australia 81
Italy 36
Spain 30
Sweden 29
France 28
Norway 26
Austria 22
Finland 22
Romania 21
Netherlands 18
Ecuador 17
South Africa 17
Denmark 16
Indonesia 16
European Union 14
Ireland 14
Mexico 14
Japan 12
Poland 12
Argentina 10
Jamaica 10
New Zealand 10
Czech Republic 9
Egypt 8
Greece 8
Albania 7
Malaysia 7
Turkey 7
Chile 6
French Guiana 6
Georgia 6
Israel 5
Nigeria 5
Portugal 5
South Korea 5
Thailand 5
Ukraine 5
Belgium 4
Cape Verde 4
Cayman Islands 4
Singapore 4
Switzerland 4
Bahamas 3
Colombia 3
Croatia 3
Hungary 3
Kuwait 3
Peru 3
Russia 3
St. Lucia 3
Taiwan 3
Bangladesh 2
Burundi 2
Costa Rica 2
Guernsey 2
Honduras 2
Hong Kong SAR China 2
Paraguay 2
Trinidad & Tobago 2
United Arab Emirates 2
Algeria 1 (*)
Brunei 1
Bulgaria 1
China 1
Dominican Republic 1 (*)
Guatemala 1
Iceland 1
Latvia 1 (*)
Lebanon 1
Libya 1
Lithuania 1
Macau SAR China 1
Maldives 1
Morocco 1
Oman 1
Qatar 1 (*)
Saudi Arabia 1
Serbia 1

Algeria, Dominican Republic, Latvia, and Qatar were single-view countries in April also. There’s no countries that have gone three months in a row with one view each.


WordPress says I posted 26,084 words in May, bringing my year’s total up to 101,995. I’ll accept that, even though it means my average post was a hefty 841.4 words. I think the MiSTings are ratcheting my averages up. It does bring my average post for the year up to 676 words. That’s the highest that figure’s been this year.

In the time between US President Dwight Eisenhower’s first meeting with Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru (1956) and the start of June, I have posted 3,042 pieces here. They were viewed a total 237,789 times by 136,548 unique visitors.

If you’d like to be a regular reader, great! Keep doing the thing you’re doing right now. That would be easier if you have an RSS reader. You won’t show up in my statistics, unless you comment, but you can read the articles from my RSS feed. If you don’t have an RSS reader you can sign up for a free account at Dreamwidth or Livejournal. Then https://www.dreamwidth.org/feeds/ or https://www.livejournal.com/syn lets you add any RSS feed to your friends page. More blogs than you imagine have RSS feeds. Give it a try.

And if you have a WordPress account, you can use the “Follow Another Blog, Meanwhile” button to add this page to your Reader page. You can also sign up for e-mail delivery of posts as they happen. That will give you posts with all the typos that I fix in the quarter-hour after a post publishes, so, be warned.

MiSTed: What’s Actually HOT and NASTY About Venus? Part 1 of 2


I share today the start of another MiSTing. As I’ve been doing this, first, I’ve been worrying a lot less about what to write for the big Thursday pieces. Second, I’ve been discovering a lot of Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction that I forgot I ever wrote. It’s neat finding these old pieces and I’m glad to share them with you.

So today and next week I hope to share Brad Guth’s essay/rant “What’s actually HOT and NASTY about Venus?” It is a companion piece to “Venus for Dummies”, as Mr Guth was eager to dispel the common vision of Venus as, at least, a planet with some issues. As of 5:50 this afternoon Brad Guth has not revolutionized the world’s understanding of Venus.

Please be careful, when reading this, not to cut yourself on the sharp edge of that TV Lunches Invention Exchange.

I’ve ridden reverse bungees twice, on opposite sides of the world, so I count at least one of those as being a normal-bungee ride.


[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. ] GYPSY, CROW, and JOEL are behind the desk;
a wide slingshot-style rubber band reaches across the view. ]

JOEL: Hi, everyone, welcome to the Satellite of Love. This is Gypsy, Crow, and demonstrating our invention this week is Tom Servo.

TOM: [ Off-screen ] SAVE ME!

GYPSY: Our idea was based on one’s natural inclination to go bungee jumping.

CROW: But most people aren’t insane or Australian enough to plunge headfirst into the unknown.

TOM: I’M NOT AUSTRALIAN!

JOEL: And reverse bungee, where you sit in a cannister and fling upwards, isn’t much better.

GYPSY: So we unveil — the sideways bungee!

TOM: LEMME OUT!

CROW: Tom has his hoverskirt, but normal customers would just wear roller skates for a reasonably friction-free experience.

JOEL: Everybody ready?

TOM: NO!

CROW: You heard him, Gypsy, go!

[ GYPSY’s light blinks; TOM, screaming, is flung across the camera,
and — after a few seconds — flung the opposite way. He does
not crash into anything. GYPSY, CROW, and JOEL watch TOM go
through several oscillations this way. MADS SIGN flashes. ]

JOEL: So, uh, what do you think, sirs?

[ DEEP 13. FRANK hosts; DR FORRESTER sits listlessly on a couch,
behind a TV set (screen hidden from view), with a TV dinner
tray on a snack stand, and he holds and stares at a half-eaten
peanut butter and jelly sandwich, without moving. ]

FRANK: [ Cheery as always ] TV Dinners: one of the great American contributions to humanity, like atom bombs and `Night Court’. Besides inventing a use for this country’s vast annual tater tot output, it allows many bachelors to consume nutrition-inspired yet unsatisfying suppers alone in a fraction of the time! So we thought, why not extend this to other meals?

[ DR FORRESTER groans. ]

FRANK: Thus we present — the TV Lunch! Not enough food to make you stop being hungry, but just cheap enough to make fixing a real lunch seem like too much trouble. We’ve got … peanut butter sandwiches with that swipe of the last jelly in the jar; single slices of ham and cheese with plenty of mayo and a couple drops of mustard-stained water; and many more. Each sandwich entree comes with a second half-sandwich made by folding a crust end over. A damp salad of lima beans, squash, and string beans leaks over into the chipped cookie, and overall you have the perfect meal that says: I’m eating this while watching McLean Stevenson blow a question on `Match Game 78′.

[ DR FORRESTER whimpers. ]

FRANK: We think it’ll be a big hit. So, Joeleroo, we’ve got a little trip for you this week through molten rock, carbon dioxide narcosis, and of course, Usenet.

[ SATELLITE OF LOVE. ]

CROW: I don’t like when he calls you ‘Joeleroo’.

GYPSY: He means well.

TOM: [ Bungeeing across the screen again. ] LET ME OUT!

JOEL: Gypsy, you’ll let him out when he comes to a stop, please?

GYPSY: Sure.
[ MOVIE SIGN begins flashing; general alarum ]

JOEL: Good, ’cause WE’VE GOT MOVIE SIGN!

TOM: [ Bungeeing back the other way ] GOOD FOR YOU!

[ 1.. 2.. 3.. 4.. 5.. 6.. ]

> Path:

CROW: Ineligible Rethiever.

> rpi!news.usc.edu!newsfeed.news.ucla.edu!news.maxwell.syr.edu!postnews

TOM: Boy, this thing’s better-travelled than we are.

> . google.com!o13g2000cwo.googlegroups.com!not-for-mail

> From: "Brad Guth" <ieisbradguth@yahoo.com>

JOEL: Hi, Brad.

> Newsgroups:
> sci.space.history,sci.astro.seti,

TOM: Sci Astro City, five miles.

> sci.astro,sci.philosophy.tech,news.
> admin.censorship

JOEL: talk.poofy.hair.

TOM: comp.sys.amiga.fondlers.

CROW: alt.temporary.pants.lad.

> Subject: What’s actually HOT and NASTY about Venus?

CROW: Besides the pools of molten lead, I mean.

> Date: 3 Sep 2005 15:26:37 -0700
> Organization: http://groups.google.com
> Lines: 76

TOM: Trombones: Lead the big parade.

> Message-ID: <1125786396.973436.280800@o13g2000cwo.googlegroups.com>

JOEL: Monsters of the Message Id.

> NNTP-Posting-Host: 64.40.55.39
> Mime-Version: 1.0

CROW: Aah … he’s trapped in a glass box?

> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"

JOEL: That’s a sarcastic way of referring to a charset.

TOM: Isn’t a charset the only thing that beats a bulbasaur?

> X-Trace:

CROW: EXTREEEEEEME! Trace!

> posting.google.com 1125786403 9973 127.0.0.1 (3 Sep 2005

> 22:26:43 GMT)
> X-Complaints-To: groups-abuse@google.com

TOM: It’s a sin to google groups yourself, you know.

> NNTP-Posting-Date: Sat, 3 Sep 2005 22:26:43 +0000 (UTC)
> User-Agent: G2/0.2

CROW: So that’s … G10?

> X-HTTP-UserAgent: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; MSN 2.5; Windows
> 98; T312461),gzip(gfe),gzip(gfe)

JOEL: … rstln(e) …

TOM: … plorfnop(rezniz) …

CROW: … potrzebie.

> Complaints-To: groups-abuse@google.com
> Injection-Info:

TOM: Once daily under physician’s or nurse’s approval.

JOEL: Symptoms may persist.

> o13g2000cwo.googlegroups.com;
> posting-host=64.40.55.39;

TOM: Hike!

> posting-account=mSmX5Q0AAABAOTfKTkCm7WO5PvgF8_A4

CROW: They really should encode stuff like this.

> Xref: rpi sci.space.history:59672 sci.astro.seti:8583 sci.astro:73410
> sci.philosophy.tech:1443 news.admin.censorship:1093

TOM: [ As arena announcer ] The totals on the board are correct-ect-ect
… sci.astro is the winner-ner-ner …

>
> Simply stated;

JOEL: Because I’m not that bright,

> Venus is not insurmountably hot,

CROW: It’s cold at the center. Try nuking it a couple minutes.

> and furthermore,
> because it’s surface and whatever else that’s situated below an
> altitude of 25~35 km remains reasonably dry,

TOM: Past the sulphuric acid rains …

> as such it’s actually
> not all that nasty.

CROW: And it’s got a great personality.

>
> Upon Earth; http:>//www.valleywater.net/hydration.htm

JOEL: Valley water. Water for clean, clean people.

> 1500 ml/day excretion by kidneys in the form of urine

CROW: Shape of, a kangaroo.

> 500 ml/day evaporation and perspiration from the skin

TOM: So if you’re coming to Venus, don’t bring your skin.

> 300 ml/day from the lungs

CROW: 150 milliliters per day from the adenoids.

> 200 ml/day from the gastrointestinal tract

JOEL: And field.

TOM: 84 milliliters per day angrily skipping commercials at the front of DVDs.

CROW: 108 milliliters per day, gratuity.

>
> Human metabolic perspiration (internal as well as external
> excretions)

JOEL: And their afterschool activities.

> represents a wee bit of a testy if not terribly corrosive
> problem at 2500 ml/day,

CROW: But remember at all times to keep your humans moist.

> whereas everything that’s fluid effectively
> leaks out,

TOM: Well, who would want ineffective leaking?

> boils off and/or evaporates at reduced ambient pressure,

JOEL: Peer pressure.

> and just the opposite for having to survive within a greater ambient
> pressure,

CROW: When streams of Sprite Ice are injected daily into your face.

> though please do try to remember that I’m not the village
> idiot

TOM: He’s just goofball for the Fourth Ward.

> that’s even remotely suggesting we should be going there in
> person.

JOEL: So get that foolish thought out of your head, you silly, silly man.

> However, under nearly 100 bar of pressure

TOM: *Chocolate* bars of pressure.

> that’ll have
> essentially equalized throughout our body

JOEL: Under the mighty wrath of the Hershey’s corporation.

> and thus affecting every
> organ and molecule

TOM: With a lovely concerto for organ and molecule.

> involved isn’t all that likely to sweat nearly as
> much, if at all.

CROW: Perspiration declines quickly after death.

JOEL: Mitchum. So effective you can even skip a death.

>
> Thereby even CO2 as a replacement for N2 isn’t nearly as lethal as
> we’d thought,

TOM: It’s only *mostly* lethal.

> or from having been told by all of our NASA certified
> wizards.

CROW: I love seeing Wally Schirra wave that sparkly magic wand around.


[ To be concluded … ]

Exceptional People


I was reading The Year We Had No President, Richard Hansen’s early-1960s study of the United States’s inadequate constitutional provision for a disabled or incapable President because … uh … I don’t know. I guess I interrupted a fairy circle and they enchanted me to be like this? Well, whatever. The point I got to this choice quote about President Garfield’s administration:

Except for Secretary of State [ James G ] Blaine and the young Secretary of War, Robert T Lincoln … the names of the Cabinet members are forgotten by all save historians.

Now. I will concede that Robert Todd Lincoln is a little bit remembered. He was at his father’s deathbed when President Lincoln died. He witnessed Charles Guiteau’s shooting President Garfield. And he was right outside the building at the Pan-American Exposition when Leon Czolgosz shot President McKinley. So everyone who got way too into Ripley’s Believe It Or Not as a kid remembers him.

But James G Blaine? Yes, of course I remember Blaine, Blaine, James G Blaine, Continental liar from the State of Maine (PS Burn this letter). But that’s because I’m a freak who merged with this college-level US history text I somehow got hold of as an eight-year-old. Even granting that Richard Hansen was writing sixty years closer to the events? I’m going to say he was way overestimating the non-historian recognition of James G Blaine.

Maybe I am wrong. Maybe in 1962 James G Blaine leapt to the average person’s tongue the way Cordell Hull’s or Henry Stimson’s do today. I want to see Hansen’s citation is all.

What’s Going On In Gil Thorp? Why is Gil Thorp sometimes in color now? March – May 2021


Beats me! There’s a couple different feeds for Neal Rubin and Rod Whigham’s Gil Thorp and one of them offers colorized pictures. GoComics.com, where I read the strip, has, like, always used the black-and-white feed. But then in March it started, sometimes, switching to the color feed for a week or two. And then switching back to black-and-white. If I ever hear an explanation why I’ll pass it on. I do find the color version of the strip easier to read, making me wonder how Rod Whigham plans out the comics.

So this essay, I hope, will catch you up to date on Gil Thorp for late May 2021. If you’re reading after about August 2021 there’s likely a more up-to-date Gil Thorp plot recap here. Thanks for reading.

Gil Thorp.

8 March – 30 May 2021.

When last we saw Milford Sports, girls basketball center Tessi Milton was declining Vic Doucette for a date. Any date. This after she flirted with him to get the enthusiastic student sports commenter to cover girls basketball games.

The other girls basketball players decide Doucette needs to know she’ll never date him and why. She says it’s because he drives this “grandpa van”. The other players take her at her word. I’d wonder if Milton was offering a less-bad excuse than that she doesn’t want to date someone handicapped like Doucette is. His car is a 2004 GMC Something, modified so that he can drive it on days his cerebral palsy is particularly bad.

So they tell him. She won’t date him, because of his car. “And because she’s vapid and shallow”. Doucette says he can stop working on his prom-posal, then, a statement they take at face value. I’m not sure he wasn’t being wry. Doucette’s friend Doug Guthrie (they bonded over car stuff) tries consoling by the weird tack of asking why he was interested in Milton at all. Doucette liked how she was cute and seemed interested in him, and asks if that isn’t shallow. Which … like, all right, but you don’t need deep reasons to go see a movie with someone. It could be Guthrie’s bad at sympathy. But Guthrie does know that revenge is a dish best served in a cryptic, confusing way.

[ At the unofficial team photo ] A 1966 Pontiac GTO, licence plate 'MST3K', drives up in front of the girls basketball team. Vic Doucette waves from the driver's seat: 'Hey, Tessi! Looking good!' And then the car tears out of there.
Neal Rubin and Rod Whigham’s Gil Thorp for the 26th of March, 2021. Okay, so I see why the boys teams can’t get to the playdowns if they’re made up of Mystery Science Theater 3000 nerds and not athletes. Quick check here, Coach Thorp: if you tell a player “heads up” and toss a softball at them, do they flinch before or after the ball hits them? If it’s after, maybe make them second-string.

Guthrie gets the team to take some photos. At the photo session, after the team gets knocked out of the first round of playdowns? Why, Doucette pulls up behind the wheels of a 1966 Pontiac Something, which I’m told is a cool car to have. He waves to Milton and then tears off.

He’s physically able to do this because Doug Guthrie crouches under the seat, working the pedals. (It’s Guthrie’s car; he and his father restored it.) And that sure showed her … uh … I’m not sure I can tell you. It has the shape of revenge, but I can’t imagine Milton feeling humiliated by this. But I also can’t read Doucette as being too traumatized by someone who flirted with him not being willing to date. Disappointed, sure, but … ? Eh, what do I understand of high school drama?


With that, the 27th of March, the Vic Doucette and girls-basketball storyline ended. The current one began the 29th of March, with one of the Milford Library Board resigning. Family’s moving to Denver. Also with senior Zane Clark rejoining the boys softball team. Things are “looking up” at home, in that he thinks he can make the time to be on the ball team. His father’s disabled, and his mother can only work part-time. So Zane Clark’s working, like, to midnight most nights. I am not sure what Zane thinks is “looking up”. But he’s also the vice-president of the senior class. So he seems to be one of those people who needs to do everything. He might even see his girlfriend Katy Brito again.

Meanwhile, Brito’s family Internet is out. This sends her father, grumbling, to the library to get some work done. There, Abel Brito discovers the library has computers that aren’t even being used. And a librarian who’s just, like, standing there answering questions that better signage could handle. He comes home fuming about the waste of taxpayer money.

(At a family dinner) [ Abel Brito gets ramped up --- again --- about the library ] Abel: 'Seriously, why do they need all those computers?' Zach Clark: 'For people like me! We can't even pay for cable anymore, Mr Brito. We have three kids sharing one outdated PC.'
Neal Rubin and Rod Whigham’s Gil Thorp for the 23rd of April, 2021. “And another thing! The library had lights on over stacks that nobody was even in! And don’t get me started on how much money they’re throwing down the toilet with bathrooms on both floors of the building!”

He’s still fuming weeks later, after Zane Clark’s first and ultimately successful spell as relief pitcher, when he comes for a family dinner. Clark takes Abel’s attack on the library having computers personally. He depends on them, after all, and knows other people do, and that the library does not always have more than it needs. And storms out. It plays a bit abrupt, but we have to allow some narrative compression. I suppose also that they must have met before. The story introduces Clark and Katy Brito as an established couple. And Abel Brito must have been like this before. You don’t wake up one day the sort of person who fumes about the city spending money on the library. You get there by making a long series of wrong choices about your politics.

Mrs Brito says if Abel is so worked up about the library why doesn’t he join its board. And since it would be a terrible idea for him to take this advice, he takes this advice. When Clark learns there aren’t any other candidates, he decides to take responsibility and applies. Partly to kick back at Abel Brito, yes. Partly also because Corinna Karenna has pointed out his need to focus instead of bouncing around things. She meant about his pitching, which flutters between lousy and awesome. But when you give someone advice there’s no controlling how they’re going to use it.

So things look to be exciting for Katy Brito, who knew nothing about Clark’s plans until after they were made. So she’s angry at him, even though he declares he can’t see what he was wrong about.

Mimi Thorp: 'I'm telling you, Corina, you're a college-level talent.' Corina Karenna: 'Maybe. But I didn't go to any of the camps that get you noticed. And I haven't even applied, and it isn't going to happen. Okay?' Later, Gil Thorp: 'The problem is, she's right. The athletic scholarships are taken, and most admissions deadlines were months ago.'
Neal Rubin and Rod Whigham’s Gil Thorp for the 27th of May, 2021. I don’t know why every time we cut away to Gil and Mimi Thorp they’re cooking but I guess that’s a normal thing to do. Me, I grew up in a family with the rule that if one person was cooking everyone else cleared out except to fetch things as directed.

Meanwhile there’s a story going about Corina Karenna. She’s been delivering blunt and perceptive advice to the Milford kids. Coach Mimi Thorp also notes she’s a skilled athlete. Has she considered applying for athletic scholarships to college? Karenna has. But her mother’s too depressed to function if she were to go to college. And anyway, all the deadlines are long past. I don’t know whether the Thorps are going to find some way around that. Sometimes the comic strip admits that things suck and there’s only bits one can do about that. We’ll have to wait and see what develops.

Milford Sports Watch!

Who does Milford play? Who do they just talk about playing? Here’s teams that showed up in the strip the last couple months.

Next Week!

Did April Parker just extract Randy Parker from his own comic strip? Did Sam Driver just get arrested? I hope to have any kind of answers when I look over Francesco Marciuliano and Mike Manley’s Judge Parker next week, all going well.

From when it seemed the world could change


Just thinking back to that time when Windows 95 was coming out. And there were Microsoft fans, for some reason, and there were Apple fans, for some reason. And there were Microsoft fans, for some reason, insisting the Windows 95 user interface of the recycling bin was infinitely better than the Mac’s trash bin. After all, you don’t throw away your disk; you recycle the bits on it ito something new. And Mac fans argued back that you don’t recycle a file, you throw it out, maybe and maybe not replacing it with something new.

Anyway, considering how heated this debate got you can understand how we assumed we had used history up and nothing much would ever happen again.