MiSTed: The Tale of Grumpy Weasel, Chapter 19

It’s another exciting chapter of Arthur Scott Bailey’s The Tale of Grumpy Weasel that I have for you. The whole of my Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction based on this novel should be here. Hope you enjoy.

Previously: Grumpy Weasel has had his spats with other animals in Pleasant Valley, sure. But he’s never successfully preyed upon any of the animals he might eat however hard he tries. But what would happen if someone turned the table, and tried to prey upon him? Huh? Didn’t think of that, did you? And now settle in and enjoy …




TOM: [ As Henry Gibson ] ‘A hiding, by Henry Hawk.’

> In the spring Grumpy Weasel was always glad

JOEL: No he was *not*!

CROW: [ Startled ] Little harsh there.

JOEL: I have to put my foot down somewhere.

> to see
> the birds coming back from the South.

TOM: The birds had such a wonderful time visiting South Dakota. Wall Drug, the corn palace, the filming locations of North by Northwest …

> But it must not be
> supposed that it was because he liked to hear them sing (for
> he didn’t!).

CROW: He signed up for this stupid bird-watching app and if he doesn’t log something every week it gets all whiny at him.

> Nor should any one make the mistake of thinking that
> Grumpy Weasel loved the birds.

JOEL: Not after all the times someone asked if Grumpy wanted them to give him the bird and …

CROW: [ Raspberries ]

> The only reason why he
> welcomed them was because he liked to hunt them, and rob
> their nests.


> But there were two birds that Grumpy didn’t care to
> have in Pleasant Valley.

CROW: The Roc and Baby Huey.

> He often wished that Solomon Owl and
> Henry Hawk

TOM: Solomon Owl. ‘en’ery Hawk. _They’re beaked!_

> would leave the neighborhood and never return.
> That was because they liked to hunt him.

CROW: They’d like it more except hunting him means getting close to him.

> Especially did Grumpy Weasel dislike Henry Hawk,

JOEL: His cartoons weren’t *that* bad.

TOM: Eh …

> who
> had an unpleasant habit of sitting motionless on a limb

CROW: [ As Grumpy ] ‘Get off my tail.’

TOM: [ As Henry ] ‘Are you sure a tail is a limb?’

CROW: [ As Grumpy ] ‘MOOOOOOM!’

> in
> the top of some great tree.

TOM: I’ve seen better.

> From that high perch he swept the
> whole valley with his keen, cruel eyes,

JOEL: o/` These eyes have seen a lot of land … o/`

> because (as he said)
> he "liked to see what was going on."

TOM: [ As Henry ] ‘Landslide! … Oh no, wait, Fatty Raccoon just tripped.’

> If Henry Hawk saw anything anywhere that interested
> him he lost no time in reaching that place.

TOM: Oh now me I’m always putting time in a special place I won’t forget and then I can never find it again.

> It might be a
> bird, or a meadow mouse, or maybe a plump chicken.

CROW: That’s what’s so great about him, he’s not fussy.

> And he was
> always hoping to catch a glimpse of Grumpy Weasel.

JOEL: Oh anyone can catch a glimpse, that’s easy. It’s weasels that are hard.

> One day early in the fall Mr. Hawk saw what he had
> been looking for so long.

TOM: The first robin of spring! You’re *incredibly* late!

CROW: [ As a robin ] ‘I’m very early!’

> Near the old cider mill, up the
> road from Farmer Green’s house,

JOEL: No, no, back down, you’ve gone too far — oh, that’s the Moon, nobody’s going *there*.

TOM: It’s too full.

> he spied a long, slender,
> brownish shape moving swiftly among a pile of barrels outside
> the building.

CROW: *Four* Maurice Chevaliers?!

> He knew at once that it was Grumpy Weasel;

TOM: Now, now, it might be Sulky Marten.

JOEL: I loved any game show hosted by Sulky Marten.

> and
> though he was a long way off Mr. Hawk could see that Grumpy
> was very busy looking for something

CROW: Grumpy! Are you looking for love in all the wrong places?

> —so busy, Mr. Hawk
> hoped, that Grumpy wouldn’t notice anything else.

JOEL: You know how it is when you’re looking for something, you can’t see anything.

TOM: Now where did I put my thing?

> Henry Hawk had wonderful eyesight.

CROW: [ As Emily Litella ] ‘Now how can eye sighing be wonderful?’

> As he came
> hurtling down out of the sky he could see that Grumpy was
> playing hide-and-seek with a mouse.

TOM: Oh, how sweet! Everyone thinks he’s mean and yet he goes out of his way to play with the deprived mice —

JOEL: [ Rests a hand on TOM’s shoulder ]

> "It’s a shame to break up the game," Mr. Hawk
> chuckled to himself.

CROW: All tied in the fourteenth inning, too, too bad.

> And just then something made Grumpy Weasel look up.

TOM: [ Yes’s _It Can Happen_ ] o/` Look down! There’s a crazy world outside! o/`

> It must have been Henry Hawk’s shadow flickering over a
> barrel.

JOEL: Wait a minute, hawks don’t come in barrels.

> There was no other sign that could have warned
> Grumpy.

CROW: [ As Henry ] ‘Except you, blabbermouth narrator.’

> He put the meadow mouse out of his mind

TOM: Never try eating a mouse with your mind.

JOEL: You get cheesey thoughts.

> without a bit
> of trouble and made a sidewise spring

CROW: Thank you, Coily!

> for the first hole on
> which his eyes lighted.

JOEL: Oh no, it’s the hole that only goes halfway!

> Grumpy was through it in a twinkling.

TOM: Not halfway anymore.

JOEL: Try and escape hard enough and everything’s a hole that goes all the way through.

> Henry Hawk made
> a frantic grab with his talons at the black tip of Grumpy’s
> tail,

CROW: No no, it’s marked ‘lift other end’.

> just as it whisked out of sight. But he was too late.

JOEL: Grumpy had called ‘olly olly oxen-free’.

> It did not soothe Henry Hawk’s feelings to find that
> the meadow mouse had vanished at the same time.

CROW: Wait! That mouse must be Atomic Mouse!

> Henry would
> have liked to play hide-and-seek with him himself.

TOM: Oh, what a happy valley this is! Everyone is so playful!

> Mr. Hawk knew well enough where Grumpy was hiding.

JOEL: [ As Henry ] ‘I can pick up tips from the gabby narrator *too*.’

> That slim fellow had sought safety in an empty jug,

CROW: o/` Little brown jug, little brown jug, little brown jug I don’t know the other words! o/`

> which was
> lying on its side near the pile of barrels.

TOM: It’s also lying on the ground, don’t make it look like it does all the lying by itself.

> It made a fine
> fort for Grumpy Weasel.

CROW: Fort Grumpy Weasel, a surprisingly critical post during King William’s War.

> The enemy couldn’t break through it.
> And there was only one loophole,

JOEL: It’s if a person of sufficient virtue reunites the Seven Lost Shards of Wisdom at the peak of the triple eclipse that happens Sunday night for the last time in a thousand years!

> which was far too small to
> do Henry Hawk the least good.

TOM: The least good, the fundamental particle of utilitarianism.

> Henry saw at once that he might as well go away.

CROW: I don’t know, could be pretty funny if you made the jug roll some.

JOEL: That’s mean, Crow.

CROW: Yeah but still.

> So
> he went off grumbling.

TOM: Grumpy pops his head out to yell that’s *his* line and then whoops.

> "This," he said, "is what comes of disorderly habits.

JOEL: Always keep your habits in a row, folks.

> Farmer Green ought not to have left that jug lying there.

CROW: Had he not ought?

> If
> he hadn’t, I might have been able to do him a good turn."

TOM: Oh, you could do him a good turn *now* by picking up his clutter, you just want to do something for yourself and *say* it’s a favor.

And to explain riffs. 1506 Nix Nix was a common catchphrase in the Dadaist comic strip Smokey Stover, I am told. I’ve read like three Sunday pages of it myself. Seems fun. Baby Huey was an inexplicably longrunning character in the Harvey Comics universe; he was an enormous, powerfully strong toddler of a bird. He aspired to Baby Schnooks status. The “Four Maurice Chevaliers” references the earlier parts of the Marx Brothers’ Monkey Business, where they sneak off the boat they’re stowaways on by pretending to be Maurice Chevalier. So funny a movie that Zeppo is funny in it. Yes’s It Can Happen is from their 1983 album 90125, the one that gave us Owner of a Lonely Heart.

Atomic Mouse is one of the approximately infinitely great number of old-time funny-animal comic book superheroes who gets their power from a proton energy pill. In his case, it’s Uranium-235 pills. Pretty fun overall but be ready for 40s-style casual racism and sexism spoiling a nice time. King William’s War was one of several wars between the England and France which in colonial times manifested as wars between American colonizers and Native Americans. It was pretty brutal, which is what makes it funny to reference.

[ To continue … ? Yeah, to continue, I’d be silly if I gave this up at this point. ]

What’s Going On In Olive and Popeye? Is it enough to make a regular feature of this? December 2022 – March 2023

I don’t know that enough is happening in Shadia Amin and Randy Milholland’s Olive and Popeye to make it a regular part of my What’s Going On In … writing. I’ve limited these columns to the story strips. And particularly the ones where the story is involved or long enough that a new reader would need months to catch up.

Popeye, to the sea monster that's got him tied up in their tail: 'Yer really bein' a pestk, huh? --- Wot's this?' From afar Olive Oyl comes in on a jetski, screaming Popeye's name: 'WE ARE SPENDING VALENTINE'S TOGETHER!'. Later, after sunset, the two clink wine together while sitting on the head of the knocked-out sea monster. Olive: '... And I forgot to reply. I'm so sorry!' Popeye: 'Fer wat? Spendin' the day witsk me sweet? Arf arf arf!'
Shadia Amin and Randy Milholland’s Olive and Popeye for the 14th of February, 2023. There happen to have been more plot-bearing strips in Milholland’s installments, run on Thursdays, than in Amin’s, run Tuesdays. This is not to slight Amin, just a side effect of what I’m trying here. But this makes a nice example of the scenarios that Amin likes illustrating. (Olive Oyl had failed to reply to Popeye’s text that he could put off the sea monster business if she wanted to see him tonight.)

Olive and Popeye has had stuff happen. Not so much action and adventure, although there’s a few with that. It’s rather a Rosencrantz and Guildenstern take on Olive and Popeye’s own life. One of the bits of action the past several months was Popeye having to beg off a date to go punch a sea monster, for example. With Milholland starting to do short stories in the Popeye Sunday strips perhaps between the two of these there’ll be enough for me.

Whatever does happen I’ll bundle all my Olive and Popeye plot recaps here. I’ll figure on doing at least one more of them, which should come around June of 2023, and we’ll see what follows from there.

Olive and Popeye.

27 December 2022 – 27 March 2023.

In the first several months of Olive and Popeye we mostly had characters get back together. This includes the return of Ham Gravy, one of the original cast of Thimble Theatre. He was set out as Olive Oyl’s beau, but couldn’t hold his own against the pillar of charisma and intrigue that is Castor Oyl. When Popeye took over the strip he didn’t have a chance.

And we also meet some new characters. Whaler Joe was, created by Elzie Segar himself back in 1931, as part of a newspaper feature explaining Popeye’s past. As far as I know he’s not been on-screen so he’s effectively a new character. Unmistakably new is his daughter Petunia. She’s an aspiring marine biologist who’s up for learning what Popeye knows of the sea. This is a lot of trouble with monsters and such.

Pappy: 'First yer ma an' aun come t'town an' ye say nothink! And now Joe?! I'm startin' t' suspeck yer ashamed of me!' Popeye: 'Lemme know when yas wants confirmation.' Pappy: 'What's yer problem?' Popeye: 'You, Pappy! Ya wanna be included in e'rythink, but ya also antagonize e'ryone! Ya know wot that's like?!' Pappy: 'Yeah. Hilarious.' Popeye: 'I meant fer others peoples.' Pappy: 'There ya goes, pretendin' other people has feelinks again.'
Shadia Amin and Randy Milholland’s Olive and Popeye for the 19th of January, 2023. Pappy is getting written a bit more sociopathic than I think is quite true to his character. But it’s being played so preposterous that it works for me.

Meanwhile Poopdeck Pappy wonders why Wimpy is being so nice to him and hanging around all the time. This is because Popeye’s paying him to keep Pappy away from Whaler Joe. Popeye’s not worried about his mother Irene or his Aunt Jones (wife of Davy “Locker” Jones) knowing him. They get along great, in fact, with the worst that happens digging out old photos of Popeye’s teen goth phase.

Still, Pappy is jealous and he won’t take any of the abundant good advice he gets to back off. I know it’s the mode of modern cartoons and comic strips to have emotionally aware characters. Still, when you think of how many Popeye adventures have depended on bonkers headgames it’s odd to see Olive and Popeye being mature. It fits well enough, moreso on Popeye, but still.

Irene, with Aunt Jones, taking tea from Whaler Joe: 'I yam so glad ye took care of me boy. He weren't any trouble fer ye, was he?' Whaler Joe has several flashbacks: running after a young Popeye, who's holding a baby sea monster right in front of the parent, yelling 'No!' Catching Popeye and a friend with firecrackers, yelling 'No!' Patting a forlorn-looking Popeye with a patch over his eye, gently saying, 'No.' The present, Joe, softly saying, 'No.'
Shadia Amin and Randy Milholland’s Olive and Popeye for the 16th of February, 2023. Boy is that a sweet comic, though. You do have to suppose Popeye was a difficult child, but also that he probably responded well to boundaries that made sense to him.

And it turns out Pappy and Whaler Joe knew each other anyway. Pappy had used a young, naive Whaler Joe as lackey on the first ship Joe ever sailed on. That ended when Pappy accidentally got Whaler Joe fired. It’s a gag solid enough that it feels more like a stroke of Dickensian plotting than a shrinking of the Thimble Theatre world. Pappy leaves, wondering why everyone treats him as the jerk. Whaler Joe is gracious and we learn Popeye’s taken up that same good grace.

Stuff’s been happening with Olive Oyl too, although I’m less sure there’s a story there. Some avoiding of the new flirtations by Ham Gravy (who, with Castor Oyl, had a fun five-week sequence in the Sunday Popeye strips failing to vanquish all, or any, of Popeye’s foes). Some getting-together with her family and with Petunia and offhandedly vanquishing Susie the Sea Nymph. Rolling her eyes and sneering at Bluto. Being nice to Brutus, and the Sea Hag’s intern, for a Pi Day strip. A lot of the stuff that would be the thing going on when an adventure starts. I don’t know that it’s going anywhere but it’s all fun to see.

Next Week!

I get serious about our favorite time-travelling cave people and how they encounter a claimant to the throne of Schenectady. Also the oceans. Jonathan Lemon and Joey Alison Sayers’s Alley Oop gets some love from me next week, if things go to plan.

I Will Get to the Story Comics Soon, I Promise

But I have somehow got sucked up into still more Charles In Charge nonsense. Particularly with the discovery that Charles did not have, in the canon of the show, a known last name. That’s right, he was just Charles Lastname. Both Wikipedia and the Internet Movie Database speculate that this was so that viewers who weren’t paying close attention would think that he was the same guy as Chachi from Happy Days and Joanie Loves Chachi, just after he dumped Joanie and started going to college in a different decade.

And now I know what you’re thinking: wait, we don’t know Charles In Charge’s last name … we don’t know Lieutenant Columbo’s first name … do we have a match here? No, of course we don’t. Come on. Charles In Charge was 19-ish in the mid-80s when his show came on. He had to have been born before 1970 and if he were, then absolutely at some point Columbo would have deployed some anecdote about his son against Patrick McGoohan. That’s just how stories work. Let’s not be silly about things, now.

In Which I’ve Had Enough Time in the _Charles in Charge_ Vortex

At one point over the weekend I got thinking about that episode of Charles in Charge where Charles run to be in charge of the Rutgers student government, and was figuring to snark at myself about how they didn’t even bother to learn how the student government at Rutgers was organized. I went to Rutgers, understand, a little later than Charles did, but I can tell you there were no important constitutional changes in Rutgers student government between our tenures. Just the one time where the governing association lost a page of their constitution, the one where it said the College of Engineering students got a representative, so they had to stop doing it, and the College of Engineering students stopped talking to them.

Anyway I checked on Wikipedia and learned that while the show is set in New Jersey and Charles was attending college there it wasn’t Rutgers, but rather the fictional “Copeland College” and obviously if you’re making up your college you can give it any student government structure you like, including “effective”. (Haven’t lost my undergraduate-student-newspaper gear after all, how about that?) Also that the show only ran for one year on network TV, when I would have bet it ran for fourteen years in the mid-80s. When it returned for syndication they kept Charles around but swapped out the family he was in charge of for another one, something Charles learned about by coming home from summer vacation and finding a whole different family there. That’s much more of bizarre waking-nightmare experience than I expect from Charles in Charge.

Joe Giella has died

The Daily Cartoonist reports the death of Joe Giella. I know his work from his quarter-century drawing Mary Worth, a tenure so long I still think of June Brigman as the new artist even though she’s been the artist since before I started doing plot recaps.

For as long as he worked in the daily syndicated story comic game he worked far longer in the comic books, starting in the 1940s and continuing through .. I’m not sure just when. The Grand Comics Database lists over six thousand stories with his work, although I don’t know how many of those are reprints. Likely many are; a lot of his work was in well-regarded Silver Age comic book stories, including one of the era’s iconic stories, “Flash of Two Worlds”. He had also, before his Mary Worth work, inked Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, The Phantom, and pencilled and inked the Batman comic strip for two years.

Statistics Saturday: Some Movie Sequels II: Some Movier Sequels

  • Unbreakable II: Unbreakabler
  • Breakin’ 2: Brok’n
  • The Taking Of Pelham 123 2: The Taking Of Pelham 1234
  • On Golden Pond 2: On Goldener Pond
  • The Verdict II: The Verdictation
  • Star Trek II: Star Trekker (Star Trekkie west of the Rockies)
  • The Land of the Lost (1914) II: The Land of the Loster (1916)
  • Mother 2: Mothest
  • The China Syndrome 2: The China Syndromedary
  • π 2: Circumference

Reference: Voyager: Seeking Newer Worlds In The Third Great Age Of Discovery, Stephen J Pyne.

Some Other State Boards That I’m Not On

It’s not just soybeans. There’s also a Michigan Propane Commission that has monthly meetings, but I assume that’s just someone’s King Of The Hill rewatch podcast that got out of control and accidentally got money from the state legislature. Good deal if you can swing it, though.

I bet I could do well on the state Wheat Promotion Committee, though. I could find all sorts of wheat fields, if someone gave me a map to the wheat fields, and promote them to Corporal or Lieutenant Colonel or Sergeant if someone helps me check on how to spell Sergeant every single time.

MiSTed: The Tale of Grumpy Weasel, Chapter 18

Yes, it’s one more chapter in Arthur Scott Bailey’s The Tale of Grumpy Weasel. The whole of my Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction of it should be at this link. And I’ll try and put explanations of riffs a the end of all this.

The story so far: Grumpy Weasel has had unpleasant run-ins with several birds, a muskrat, a rabbit, and Fatty Raccoon. I mean unpleasant for them. Grumpy enjoyed it all by not enjoying any of it. Who’s going to be next on Grumpy’s agenda of disliking things? Read on …


CROW: Prequel to the prequel to XXX: Ecks versus Sever.


TOM: Out east they say ‘Soda! goes the weasel.’

> There were many things that did not please Grumpy
> Weasel

JOEL: So be gone with them!

> —things that almost any one else would have liked.

CROW: How do we count Fatty Raccoon’s likability?

> For instance, there was music.

TOM: [ Singing ‘Til There Was You ] o/` And wonderful roses o/`

> The Pleasant Valley Singing
> Society,

CROW: Aren’t they the people Cherry Trail keeps doing garden stuff for?

> to which most of the bird people belonged,

TOM: What, Twitter?

> did not
> number Grumpy Weasel among its admirers.

CROW: They’re hoping he supports them on Patreon, though.

> He never cared to
> hear a bird sing—not even Jolly Robin’s cousin the Hermit,

JOEL: They’ve got a lovely daughter …

> who was one of the most beautiful singers in the woods. And
> as for Buddy Brown Thrasher,

TOM: Death metal comes to the Pleasant Valley!

> whom most people thought a
> brilliant performer, Grumpy Weasel always groaned whenever he
> heard him singing in the topmost branches of a tree.

CROW: When he sung in a bush, that was different.

> A bird-song—according to Grumpy Weasel—

TOM: [ As Grumpy, giving a report ] ‘Webster’s Dictionary defines birdsong as the song of one or more birds.’

JOEL: Webster wasn’t working hard the day he filled out the ‘birdsong’ card.

> was of use

> in only one way: it told you where the bird was.

CROW: [ As Grumpy ] ‘Oh! Well, that’s two ways, then.’

> And that was
> a help, of course, if you were trying to catch him.

JOEL: To catch a bird, it helps to think like a bird … hey, seed!

> Nor did the musical Frog family’s nightly concerts

TOM: To a sold-out arena!

> have much charm for Grumpy, though he did admit that some of
> their songs were not so bad as others.

JOEL: The closer they get to that Lesley Gore sound the better for him.

> "I can stand it now and then," he said, "to hear a
> good, glum croaking, provided there are plenty of discords."

CROW: Grumpy’s a huge fan of the 7-chord.

> Naturally, knowing how he felt, Grumpy Weasel’s
> neighbors never invited him to listen to their concerts.

TOM: Sounds like a problem solved, then.

> On
> the contrary they usually asked him please to go away, if he
> happened to come along.

JOEL: It only hurt when they started inviting him over so they can leave.

> Certainly nobody could sing his best,
> with such a listener.

CROW: [ As Grumpy ] ‘Well how good do you expect me to listen with such singing?’

> As a rule Grumpy Weasel was glad to go on about his
> business,

TOM: Mankind was your business!

> though to be sure he hated to oblige anybody.

CROW: Has Grumpy considered passive-aggression?

JOEL: Oh, he’s thought about it but he probably wouldn’t do it nearly well enough to annoy.

> But
> one day he stopped and scolded at the top of his voice when
> he came upon the Woodchuck brothers whistling in the pasture.

TOM: How were the Whistling Woodchuck Brothers not a regular blackout gag on _The Muppet Show_?

> Their whistles quavered a bit when they noticed who
> was present.

JOEL: [ Whistling ‘Sidewalks of New York’, but after a few bars breaking it off to a questioning tone. ]

> And they moved a little nearer their front door,
> in order to dodge out of sight if need be.

TOM: They hope to fool Grumpy into thinking the door was whistling.

> Although Grumpy
> Weasel might follow them, there was a back door they could
> rush out of.

CROW: Won’t they be surprised when Grumpy runs in the back door?

> And since they knew their way about their
> underground halls better than he did they did not worry
> greatly.

JOEL: They know every speakeasy, pool joint, and crooked pinball parlor in the Bowery.

> "We’re sorry—"

CROW: But your mauling has been disconnected.

> said the biggest brother, who was
> called Billy Woodchuck—"we’re sorry you don’t like our
> music.

TOM: Would you like a coupon good for two musics?

> And we’d like to know what’s the matter with it; for
> we always strive to please."

JOEL: They’re very professional, I bet they make it big someday.

> "It’s not so much the way you whistle," Grumpy
> snarled, "though your whistling is bad enough, it’s so
> cheerful.

CROW: [ As Billy ] What if we’re doing it while shivering in our shoes?

TOM: [ As Grumpy ] You don’t wear shoes!

> What I find fault with especially is the tune. It’s
> insulting to me. And you can’t deny it."

JOEL: [ As Billy ] What’s so insulting about I Don’t Like Weasels? Oh, now I say it out loud I hear it.

> Well, the Woodchuck brothers looked at one another in
> a puzzled fashion.

TOM: They’re stumped by today’s Woodchuck Wordle.

CROW: It’s ‘WHEEP’! It’s always ‘WHEEP’!

> "Never again let me hear you whistling, ‘Pop! Goes
> the Weasel,’" Grumpy warned them.

TOM: Got it, only sing it a capella from now on.

> That was the name of the
> Woodchuck brothers’ favorite air,

JOEL: Huh. Well, my favorite air is four parts nitrogen to one oxygen but hey, you like what you like.

> and the one they could
> whistle best. And any one could see that they were quite
> upset.

CROW: [ As Billy ] Would you like to race to the finish of the song?

> "Why don’t you like that tune?" Billy Woodchuck asked
> Grumpy Weasel politely.

TOM: [ As Grumpy ] I was cheated out of the royalties.

> "It’s that word ‘pop,’" Grumpy said.

CROW: Oh, he’s not into pop music.

> "It reminds me
> of a pop-gun. And a pop-gun reminds me of a real gun. And
> that’s something I don’t want to think about."

TOM: He’s making a good case, have to give him that.

> Well, the Woodchuck brothers looked at one another
> again. But this time they smiled.

JOEL: [ Billy, as Leo Gorcey ] Give ’em the ol’ Routine 29!

TOM: [ As Huntz Hall ] Ooh! Ooh! Right, chief!

> "You’ve misunderstood," Billy Woodchuck told Grumpy
> Weasel. "This is a different kind of pop.

CROW: Technically it’s a sort of ginger beer.

> It means that when
> you enter a hole you pop into it in a jiffy, without taking
> all day to do it."

JOEL: Oh come on, that … makes … sense?

TOM: [ Muttering, going over the lyrics ] Go around the mulberry bush, monkey chase the weasel, all in good fun …

> For a wonder Grumpy Weasel was almost pleased.

CROW: For two wonders Grumpy might almost experience Gemuetlichkeit.

> "That’s true!" he cried. "I couldn’t be slow if I
> wanted to be!"

JOEL: [ As Grumpy ] ‘But if I wanted to I could be the fastest to being the slowest thing imaginable! You’d be so slow getting to being slow compared to me you’d never get to me! Nobody could beat my pace to not being fast if I tried at it!’

TOM: [ As Billy ] ‘Are you high?’

> And he actually asked the Woodchuck brothers
> to whistle "Pop! Goes the Weasel" once more.

CROW: Wait, Grumpy’s first moment of happiness was caused by a *fan theory*?

> But Grumpy Weasel never thought of thanking them.

JOEL: [ As Billy ] ‘That’s all right, our real thanks is in messing with people’s heads!’

[ To continue … ? ]

The 7-chord is what came up when I looked up ‘most dissonant chord’ and this site says C# diminished sounds dissonant at least. The reference to the Bowery wasn’t meant to set up the Bowery Boys riff but it works nicely. There is, of course, no agreement about what the song Pop Goes The Weasel means, but a lot of theories. Considering the lyrics now I’m not sure the Whistling Woodchuck Brothers are wrong in saying it means weasels are fast.

On the Other Hand Maybe I Don’t Want to See Exciting Places

This week I learned that the Michigan Soybean Committee held its monthly meeting in Orlando, Florida. And before you go joking about how well yeah, two-thirds the population of Florida is people visiting from Michigan, consider that their January-February meeting was in Morocco. I’m more or less happy with my life but apparently if you want a life of jet-setting excitement you need to get in touch with people who think about soybeans once a month. Certainly a better deal than I got, going into the business of “having opinions about the 1960s Popeye cartoons”.

Oh, I shouldn’t make it sound like all of Michigan’s soybean committing business is done in world-famous tourist destinations. Back in December they held their meeting in Grand Ledge, a town on the outskirts of Lansing where … uh … they have a pretty good-sized rock, it’s like 40 feet tall and that’s maybe the biggest climbable rock in the mid-Michigan area. Also in the 1880s this guy built a three-story pagoda where the second and third stories kept rotating, the third story faster than the second, and on top of that was a centrifugal swing bringing riders out over the river, but it broke in a flood in 1893. I don’t know if it’s still there. I’m not invited to the Michigan Soybean Committee.

Come Fly With Me

I got to thinking about Fly Me To The Moon, the 2007 computer-animated film about how heroic American flies kept Soviet flies from sabotaging Apollo 11. This isn’t the first time I’ve thought about it, although I still haven’t seen it. It’s just that back in September 2020 I noticed some of the Internet Movie Database goofs recorded for the film. checked again and it seems like there are more goofs recorded now. Yet how could that be? Who is going in to a movie from 2007 and sneaking new errors into it? For that matter, who went and snuck into my old article and claimed it was a film from 2008 when the Internet Movie Database says it was 2007?

Anyway just so we can track the progress of whoever it is adding errors to the movie for some reason all these years later, the Internet Movie Database currently lists eleven goofs. This is less than half the number of goofs in The Third Man, so I guess we know who the craftsmen among filmmakers are here.

What’s Going On In Judge Parker? How was that a detective story? December 2022 – March 2023

The story, recently concluded, in Francesco Marciuliano and Mike Manley’s Judge Parker had Sam Driver investigating the murder of Judge Duncan’s family. But he didn’t do a lot of clue-gathering. It was more he drove around and saw who shot at him, which turned out to be, most everybody, until finally a witness explained what the heck was going on.

Do I accept this as a story? Oh, you know me; I’m easy and I’ll take most anything that doesn’t trip over some some vague lines. But I’m also accepting of stories where the detective figures who did it by seeing who shot at him the most. Done well, you get swept up in the noir-ish style and energy. Done poorly, you get those old-time-radio shows based on the adventures of Sam Spade where it’s all right if you don’t pay attention. There’ll be a fistfight or snappy patter soon enough.

This is another case, by the way, where the comic strip pretty well explains itself in the week or two before I come around. This is how a paranoid mindset develops, you know.

But this should explain stuff through to mid-March 2023. If you want to catch up on Judge Parker after about June 2023, there’s probably a more useful link here. I mean if you’re here after about June 2023. If we’re not that far in the future there’s nothing I can do.

And finally a content warning. This story is built around murders, including some grisly ones, and explained as being fueled by the drug trade. There are people shot, off-screen, and people battered on-screen. To respect your choice about whether you want to deal with that in your recreational reading, I’m putting the rest of the article behind a cut.

Judge Parker.

18 December 2022 – 18 March 2023.

Continue reading “What’s Going On In Judge Parker? How was that a detective story? December 2022 – March 2023”

A Thought about Happiness

So I agree that it’s hard to define what exactly is the best in life. That granted, you know? That summer vacation when I was about eleven and had nothing to do except work on this box that was like two feet by two feet by one foot tall and was filled with tagalong rejects? That’s got to be somewhere in the top five of bests ever.

Statistics Saturday: Things I’ve Tried To Warm My Feet Up

  • Putting on a second pair of socks.
  • Starting a fire in the fireplace, where such things are normal and expected, so that the whole room gets to be not as warm as you’d think it should be.
  • Dousing my feet in hot chocolate.
  • Putting on a third pair of socks.
  • Turning the car thermostat up to ‘Melts the floor mat’.
  • Setting them underneath a pet rabbit who then leaves.
  • Putting on a fourth pair of socks, in-between the second and third, which does mess up the counting admittedly.
  • Thinking a lot about when I lived in Singapore and it was 92F every afternoon and never colder than like 78F at night.
  • Taking my feet off and setting them in the oven at 300F for a half-hour.
  • Putting on so many socks my feet are spheres of fabric and I can’t fit any of my shoes anymore.

I Knew This Would Fail but Not How Much It Would Fail

I understand if you haven’t been reading Comics Kingdom’s 1943-vintage reruns of Dashiell Hammett and Alex Raymond’s Secret Agent X-9, what with by this time Hammett and Raymond having nothing to do with it. I think it was Robert Storm and Mel Graff by then, and Robert Storm didn’t even exist. But let me catch you up: Secret Agent X-9 is chasing down a baddy named the Little Corporal, a name which I’m sure had no significance at all to readers of 1943.

The Little Corporal has been trying to escape and after his first attempt — disguise himself as a gorilla in a midway show — failed, he ran to the Ferris wheel. It turns out you can’t really escape pursuit in a Ferris wheel, so he jumped down a tree, waved to Fatty Raccoon, and ran to the Scenic Railway roller coaster. So now you’re caught up to seeing how someone can escape on a roller coaster:

Cop: 'Watch out, X-9! Little Corporal is shielded behind that scenic railway car!' X-9, climbing into the launch station: 'I'm climbing up here!' Narrator: As Little Corporal falls, he trips the lever releasing the scenic subway car ... ' Someone offscreen yells, 'I've hit him!' while Little Corporal falls, gun tumbling from his hand, against the brake lever, and he drops into the roller coaster car. Someone (X-9?) off-screen describes: 'Great scott! The scenic railway is being dismantled! He'll fly off into space!' Narrator: 'Little Corporal tales his last ride ... ' And we see the roller coaster train dropping off the partially missing track just past the hill.
Robert Storm and Mel Graff’s Secret Agent X-9 for the 24th of September, 1943, reprinted the 17th of March, 2023. I know you’re wondering why the roller coaster happens to be being dismantled like this and you have to remember, there was a war on.

By the way the attempt to escape on the Ferris wheel wasn’t even the first time I’ve seen an adventure/crime comic where the bad guy tried to escape on a flat ride. There was a 1930s Dick Tracy adventure where the crook tried to escape on a Caterpillar ride. A Caterpillar was kind of like a Musik Express or Himalaya ride, cars going around and around on the track, but it had a canopy covering the cars most of the ride and the crook snuck out of the ride while the canopy was over. So that was a dumb plan but it was a better grade of dumb than “get on the Ferris wheel and try and climb out when the cops get to the ride platform”.

MiSTed: The Tale of Grumpy Weasel, Chapter 17

My making a full Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction out of Arthur Scott Bailey’s The Tale of Grumpy Weasel looks even more inevitable every week. The entirety of the MiSTing should be at this link. As is the new norm I’ll try to explain obscure or baffling riffs after this week’s installment.

Now the Weasel News Recap: Fatty Raccoon is here! Everyone’s favorite, fabulous, one-seventh-of-a-ton raccoon tricked Grumpy Weasel into jumping into the corncrib. It’s scared off Frisky Squirrel and some supernumerary mice. Grumpy took Fatty’s advice on how to catch them! Will Grumpy live to regret listening to Fatty? Will Fatty live to regret angering a bundle of rage in weasel shape? Read on and learn!


TOM: Editing rival to emacs-XTREME.


CROW: He just assumed Dewey was going to defeat Truman and now …

> As soon as Grumpy Weasel left to chase the squirrels

JOEL: If you know what I mean.

> and mice that he had frightened away from the corncrib

TOM: Everybody run! The corn is teething!

> Fatty
> Raccoon hurried into the building through a hole in the floor

CROW: I’m fixing a hole where the racc climbs in …

> which nobody knew but himself.

JOEL: The loneliness of the long-distance raccoon.

> Though he was a great eater

TOM: I don’t know about ‘great’, I mean, he eats a lot but does he do anything to advance the eating *arts*?

> Fatty was also a fast
> one. And now he bolted a huge meal of corn

CROW: A cornmeal?

JOEL: No, a meal of corn.

CROW: Right, so, a cornmeal.

JOEL: No, you’re not hearing me.

CROW: I need better ears.

JOEL: Ears of corn.

CROW: Cornears.

TOM: Corneas? I thought his eyes were fine?

> in only a few
> minutes. Then, smiling broadly, he left the corncrib by his
> private doorway

JOEL: Polite way of saying he fell through the floor.

> and squatted down to await Grumpy’s return.

TOM: Now there’s a sentence nobody’s ever written before.

> In a little while Grumpy appeared.

CROW: As the prophecy foretold.

> "I hoped I’d see you again," Fatty Raccoon told him.

JOEL: Well now Grumpy just knows you’re lying.

> "Did you have any luck?"

TOM: He hasn’t had any luck this whole book!

> "No!" Grumpy Weasel snapped. "I was mistaken about
> your idea.

CROW: It fails to account for how the cosmological constant would have to vary in the first ten-billionths of a second after the Big Bang!

> It was a very poor one. For I’ve been running in a
> circle (as you suggested) till I’m dizzy;

JOEL: Well, just run in circles the opposite way until you’re un-dizzy.

> and I haven’t seen
> the least sign of a mouse nor a squirrel."

TOM: [ As Boris Badenov ] ‘Have to get mouse and squirrel!’

> Fatty Raccoon told him to cheer up.

CROW: You can just *feel* Grumpy’s withering stare through the pages like this.

> "I’ve another idea for you," he said.

JOEL: No time to ask questions, just put on this clown suit and this tiny doghouse over your head!

TOM: ‘I’ve’?

> "Keep it! Keep it!" Grumpy Weasel hissed.

TOM: No, take the box!

CROW: Door number three! You always want door number three!

> "Your last
> idea only made me tired; and I haven’t a capture to my credit
> to-night."

JOEL: ‘I haven’t a capture to my credit to-night’? Why is he talking like he’s in a lesser PG Wodehouse?

TOM: Grump Among The Chickens.

> "That’s because you ran too fast," Fatty explained
> glibly.

CROW: He … ran right past the squirrels?

> "Now, if you’ll be careful to run slowly, and do just
> as I tell you, I can promise that there’ll be a capture,
> without fail."

TOM: Now, if you invade Persia, a great empire will be destroyed.

> Grumpy had had such bad luck in his hunting about the
> farmyard that he decided to listen, anyhow.

CROW: Yeah, has Grumpy eaten, like, ever?

JOEL: If his whole issue is ‘hangry’ I’m swear …

> He told himself
> that he wouldn’t take Fatty’s advice unless it was much
> better than he expected.

TOM: A better plan than ‘run in circles’?

> "Well—go on!" he grunted.

CROW: Go on with your merry little schemes and plans.

> "Do you see that little house near the woodshed?"

TOM: Is it little or is it far away?

> Fatty Raccoon asked him. "It has a low doorway that’s always
> open, and no windows at all."

JOEL: Wait …

CROW: Is … is that the outhouse?

> "Yes!" said Grumpy Weasel harshly. "Of course I see
> it. I’m not blind."

TOM: You sure? Because ‘blind as a weasel’ sure sounds like it could be a saying.

> "Do you know who lives there?"

CROW: This *can’t* be the outhouse, right?

> "I always supposed that it belonged to Johnnie
> Green," said Grumpy.

TOM: He has to house his ineffectively caught pets somewhere.

> "His father is big and lives in the big
> house, and Johnnie is little and lives in the little house."

JOEL: [ As Fatty ] ‘Well, then who lives in the wide house?’

CROW: [ As Grumpy ] ‘The president.’

JOEL: [ As Fatty ] ‘D’oh!’

> Fatty Raccoon laughed merrily.

JOEL: [ As Fatty ] ‘Sorry, just thought of a hilarious corn I ate this morning.’

> "You don’t know as much as I thought you did!" he
> cried.

TOM: [ As Grumpy ] ‘Yeah, well, I know things you never thought I didn’t know!’

CROW: [ As Fatty ] ‘Yeah, I — what?’

> It may be that Fatty had set out to make Grumpy angry.
> Anyhow, Grumpy’s eyes burned in the darkness like two coals
> of fire.

JOEL: Uh-oh, weasel’s coming up to power.

> "I’m right about that little house," he wrangled.

TOM: They throw away *way* too much trash *every* single *week*! Something is up there!

> "Nonsense!" Fatty Raccoon exclaimed. And that made
> Grumpy angrier than ever.

JOEL: [ As Fatty, walking it back ] ‘Uh … partial sense? In the right contexts?’

> "You learned that word of old Mr. Crow!" he grumbled.

CROW: Aw, I gifted ‘Nonsense’ to the world, anyone can have it.

> "It’s his favorite expression; and I can’t endure it."

TOM: Grumpy doesn’t play favorites, he’s an equal-opportunity non-endurer.

> "You don’t need to stay here and listen to it," Fatty
> Raccoon said.

CROW: You can listen to it anywhere on my new podcast! Let me tell you the Raccoon Supper Syndication feed!

> "If you dared to you could run over to Johnnie
> Green’s house (as you call it);

TOM: Stipulating for the benefit of counsel without making an admission with regard to the house-ness of Johnnie Green.

> and if you found that you
> were right about it I promise you I’d never say ‘Nonsense’
> again."

JOEL: [ As Grumpy ] ‘Hmm … how close do I have to get so you promise you’ll never say ‘Snackage’ again?’

> If Grumpy Weasel hadn’t been so angry

CROW: He’d be any other character in this book.

> perhaps he
> wouldn’t have been so eager to prove himself right.

TOM: Grumpy strikes me as someone happy to let other people think wrong things about him.

> While
> Fatty watched him he bounded across the farmyard

JOEL: [ As Fatty, calling ] ‘It’s the other way!’

CROW: [ As Grumpy, responding ] ‘I knew that!’

> and stopped
> at the doorway of the tiny house.

TOM: Pardon, is the tiny of the house at home?

> And then he bounded back
> again, a great deal faster, with old dog Spot yelping behind
> him.

JOEL: The Tale of Territorial Spot.

CROW: He just doesn’t want Grumpy in and seeing his stuff, you know?

> Fatty Raccoon did not wait for anything more.

TOM: [ As Fatty ] Got my rhythm, got my music, got my corn … who could ask for anything more?

CROW: Toyota!

> He made
> for the woods at top speed, grinning as he went.

JOEL: Anytime he can run downhill …

> The next day he pretended to be surprised to meet
> Grumpy.

TOM: [ As Fatty ] ‘Ernie? Ernie Dinkelfwat?!’

> "You must have forgotten my advice," he said.

JOEL: Always — I mean, NEVER — I mean, make sure you don’t fail to forget — and keeping with you — never on your person — even in these troubled times. Thank you.

> "I
> promised you that there would be a capture if you ran slowly.

CROW: I couldn’t do the capture, it wanted me to prove I was a human.

> But it’s plain that you ran too fast, or you wouldn’t be
> here."

TOM: Fatty’s summer abroad working as the Sphinx really paying off here.

> "Nonsense!" Grumpy Weasel shouted, flying into a
> passion at once.

JOEL: Lucky he’s not flying into a passion play, it would mess up the Easter services.

> And he often wondered, afterward, what Fatty
> Raccoon found to laugh at.

TOM: [ As Fatty ] ‘Ha ha! You’ve fallen for my fairy logic! Now I return to the Raccoon Dimension for ninety days!’

JOEL: [ Announcer ] Ladies and gentlemen you have just had *the* Fatty Raccoon Experience!

CROW: Not without cheese dip I haven’t.

[ To continue … ? ]

Tom’s “Grump Among The Chickens” references PG Wodehouse’s Love Among The Chickens. It’s a good book, and only lesser compared to, like, Wooster-and-Jeeves or Blanding Castle stories. You can get it from Project Gutenberg. Johnnie Green and his “ineffectively caught pets” thing refers to an incident in The Tale of Fatty Raccoon where he’s not good at catching Fatty. Also how earlier in this Tale Johnnie couldn’t keep hold of Jimmy Rabbit. There’s no good reason for me to expand ‘RSS feed’ as ‘Raccoon Supper Syndication feed’ except I couldn’t find the ‘feed’ pun I really needed there. The “Toyota” line riffs on an early 80s series they had which used “I Got Rhythm” as theme. Ernie Dinkelfwat is lifted from Bloom County; please let his loved ones know he’s all right.

Considering how much of Grumpy’s motivation, besides being unpleasant to the neighbors, is hunting it’s striking how much he doesn’t get to eat. I know we couldn’t have him devour someone on-screen but you’d think there’d be a reference to how he’d just finished a meal or something.

What’s Going On In Gil Thorp? Didn’t Mimi Thorp’s mother die back on New Year’s? December 2022 – March 2023

Christmas Eve. And no, we didn’t. We did see Mimi Thorp holding her mom’s hands while a parting song played on the radio. That would have sufficed as her death, particularly given Henry Barajas’s trust in readers inferring things. But not only is she not dead but is okay enough by Valentine’s Day to watch the kids. Granting I’m assuming the Thorp kids aren’t too burdensome these days.

And, yes, I’m late — even for postponing a day — in this plot recap for Henry Barajas and Rod Whigham’s Gil Thorp. This is not because the story has been that complicated. I’ve just had a bit of a week and hope not to have another like it soon. But if you’re reading this after about June 2023, and I haven’t had another week like it, a more up-to-date plot recap should be at this link. And in other questions I can’t answer: on the 26th of December we learned this was “Part Two: The Only Game In Town”. Henry Barajas wanted the first year of the strip to have an overarching story with distinct parts, like he was writing The Phantom or something. No, Part One was not named anywhere on-panel. I don’t know if Barajas provided it in the comments or on his own site.

That all said, let’s get to the story.

Gil Thorp.

12 December 2022 – 11 March 2023.

When I last checked in Milford and Valley Tech were finally playing football. Valley Tech coach Luke Martinez has made beating Gil Thorp the summum bonum of his life. So the match has a weird intense energy. Valley Tech wins in the last play of the game. Martinez is busy giving his speech for the Nobel and Pulitzer Prize in Academy-Award-Winning Medal of Freedom High School Coaching (GCMG) when he notices all he gets from Gil Thorp is a good handshake and promise to see you next year. So Gil Thorp one-hit-killed Martinez in all the ways that count.

While the kids from both teams congratulate one another Gil Thorp lectures Luke Martinez: 'We'll learn from this experience. But you've got to give these kids credit. The difference between you and me is *you* fear failure --- and I *welcome* it.'
Henry Barajas and Rod Whigham’s Gil Thorp for the 22nd of December, 2022. So, welcoming failure sounds like a bad thing for a coach. But it is a respectable, somewhat Stoic, approach to any competition: ultimately, all but one participant in an event loses. You can drive yourself crazy thinking about that, or you can decide that doing your best is the real triumph. And, if you’ve taken the second, there’s nothing terrible about failure; it’s either random luck or teaching you what you can do better.

Part Two, the current phase of the story, began the 26th of December, with Milford looking over budget cuts. They have to look into fundraising ideas. Sports Team Candy Bars move okay-ish. Toby Gordon and Ron who probably has a last name an idea as brilliant as it is dumb: what if they sell vape sticks instead? I’m not clear how they finance this. Those details would have been the center of the Neal Rubin version of this story. As it is, they’ve raised enough money to stand out, but no grown-ups have figured out what’s going on here. Which is striking because that would absolutely have happened if this premise were done last year.

While that plays out, girls’ coach Cami Ohchoa has an idea for a Lift-A-Thon. People pay a buck for every four pounds their chosen athlete can lift. Fun enough idea. When Luke Martinez sees that Gil Thorp is going to be lifting, he gets a new goal in life. Even more important than telling boring stories of his glory days to his students? Out-lifting Gil Thorp. He focuses on this with the manic energy of a 24-year-old with ADHD who’s just fixated on Nixie tubes. He’s soon spending every waking moment training, to the point he even misses a practice. Valley Tech business-suit-wearer Paul Lastname calls him out on this. Martinez can’t hear Paul over the sound of out-lifting Gil Thorp. Martinez’s wife also calls out how this is being creepy and weird and he needs to think about something that isn’t out-lifting Gil Thorp. No luck getting through to him. He’s got out-lifting Gil Thorp to do.

Couple older teens? Young adults? sitting on the sidewalk: 'Ian, let me bum a smoke.' 'I'm out, Sue.' Ron and Tobias, wearing sunglasses, walk up and ask: 'Vape much?' Ron: 'We've got many flavors. How about Apple Atrocity or Peach Disorder?' They leave some with Ian and Sue: 'Thanks. How much?' Ron: 'The first vape's free.'
Henry Barajas and Rod Whigham’s Gil Thorp for the 20th of January, 2023. I hope Ian and Sue are fellow high school students because if they’re even two days older than Ron and Toby, they’ve burst into laughing at these two bright young idiots the moment they were out of hearing range and are still, two months later, going. Also, I like ‘Peach Disorder’ as a string of words; I have no idea if that’s a plausible vape flavor.

Other stuff going on. Keri Thorp and Pedro Martinez are happy together, sharing a New Year’s Eve kiss. Toby, reassuring Gil Thorp, tells him how he’s the only man who’s ever apologized to his mother, one of those sincere compliments that makes the receiver feel the world is rotted beyond repair. Oh, but Mimi Thorp’s mother is doing better. And Mimi is taking golfing lessons in Scottsdale, Arizona, from someone named Ericka Carter whom Gil Thorp’s glad to meet. The Thorps have a happy Valentine’s day dinner, too, suggesting their relationship is getting back on track. Mimi still has doubts. She had told Carter “I don’t know if my husband even finds me attractive anymore”. But trust is hard to rebuild, I hear, so it reasons it wouldn’t be linear.

Meanwhile, Coach Kaz has, as promised last What’s Going On In, left Milford High. He’s now Milford Juvenile Sports Program Manager Robert Kazinski, and also his name was Robert Kazinski all this time. Keri is still being harassed by Dorothy, who keeps using her connections with Princess Ozma (rightful ruler of Oz) and Glinda the Good to stay out of trouble. And Pedro Martinez is still angry at his father. After Valley Tech’s football team had a perfect season, his father made it all about him. The actual players got a mention somewhere after the jump in the newspaper. Which is much like the injustice that kept Luke Martinez going for years.

Emmett Tays comes in as temporary assistant coach to fill Kaz’s place. Tays, whose glory days tale started Barajas’s run and also figured in Luke Martinez’s Origin Story, impresses the kids just by being there. I feel like he has more backstory than even this and I don’t know what. Sorry. Tays has some rough edges. Player Leo Atazhoon wears sneakers that are dozens of sneaker molecules held together by masking tape and good intentions. Tays starts to rag him about that. Thorp warns Tays off who suddenly sees, oh, right, poverty. Next time we see the two, they’ve got Atazhoon new sneakers, for the sake of team looking like a team.

Milford High players, talking Gil Thorp out of the weird kind of fight or whatever with Luke Martinez at the lift-a-thon: 'Coach, don't stoop to his level.' 'Dude is literally stealing candy from children.' Gil Thorp: 'The bench is all yours.' Luke Martinez: 'Jaja! Thorp, admit it, I beat you!' Gil Thorp: 'Luke, you raised $500 for us - and since you're representing yourself, we appreciate your donation.'
Henry Barajas and Rod Whigham’s Gil Thorp for the 6th of March, 2023. A recurring motif here has been Gil Thorp doing his best to center the story on other people, and Luke Martinez wanting it to be about himself. It does well at making Gil Thorp be likable without forcing us to like him any. And it helps make scenes like this even more evocative of that episode of the 90s Superman cartoon with Mr Mxyzptlk.

But back to the lift-a-thon. That gets going in good, respectable order. And then Luke Martinez shows up for his out-lifting Gil Thorp. And he’s quite good at out-lifting Gil Thorp. He earns thanks from Thorp and like five hundred bucks for Milford sports. I assume not all in one lift because, like, two thousand pounds at once would be a stretch. (The 500 bucks may also not be literal. Barajas is willing to let people say things that are exaggerated or sarcastic in the ways regular people talk.) I mean if they were dead-lifting. They’re bench-pressing, though. And it’s two-handed. The important things are that Gil Thorp is gracious and congratulatory, and Luke Martinez is left demanding that Elmer Fudd does too have to shoot him now.

Are we nearing a Part Three? Is the vape-selling scheme about to come unravelled? Is Mimi Thorp’s mother going to die when she’s just got back into babysitting? We’ll see answers to some of these over the next couple months.

Milford Sports Watch!

Next Week!

Why are people trying to kill Sam Driver and why are they not better at it? It’s a tale of secrets, substance addictions, and off-screen gunshots in Francesco Marciuliano and Mike Manley’s Judge Parker that I recap next week, if things go right.

Yet more about this year’s Daylight Saving Time

Spoiler: it turns out Daylight ducked and rolled out of the way this time.

So I have been sticking with it so far but I’m not sure how thrilling it’s going to be seeing how Daylight manages to go on two dates with two different people at the same time in the same restaurant. Might have to check in with sports instead.

More About this year’s Daylight Saving Time

Spoiler: it turns out Daylight ducked and rolled out of the day this time.

Now I’m thrilled to wait and see how Daylight and comedic sidekick Willy manage to move this heavy player piano all the way up those sidewalk stairs!

Statistics Saturday: Events Daylight Has Needed Saving From

  • Chapter One. The airship Daylight has commandeered crashes!
  • Chapter Two. The Neptunian Royal Guards shoot their blasters at the chair Daylight’s hiding behind!
  • Chapter Three. Daylight didn’t know there was a trap door underfoot!
  • Chapter Four. The Neptunian ray has turned off Niagara Falls just as Daylight was going to escape into it!
  • Chapter Five. The spaceship Daylight has commandeered crashes!
  • Chapter Six. Daylight is chained between the giant condensors as they’re turned on!
  • Chapter Seven. Daylight’s comedic sidekick Willy reveals he’s a mind-controlled robot since his capture and brainwashing last chapter!
  • Chapter Eight. The submarine Daylight has commandeered crashes!
  • Chapter Nine. All the power goes off in the pneumatic subway system and Royal Guards close in from both sides of Daylight’s transport cab!
  • Chapter Ten. The Emperor of Neptune activates the device to swap Daylight’s mind with that of a worker robot!
  • Chapter Eleven. The titanic Neptunian chameleon is stepping on Daylight!
  • Chapter Twelve. (Re-Cap Chapter; ends with Daylight swearing not to stop until Neptune’s reign of terror is ended.)
  • Chapter Thirteen. Daylight’s antigravity glider-suit runs out of neutrons high above Space City!
  • Chapter Fourteen. Earth forces think the Neptunian spaceship Daylight commandeered in is an enemy craft and order a full anti-airship barrage!

Reference: Reporting The Revolutionary War, Todd Andrlik.

(Spoiler: Daylight escapes by, it turns out, having ducked and rolled out of the way each time.)

I See Good Things in This Kangaroo’s Future

Really, is there any way that this young kangaroo, equipped with the ability to throw his voice and a desire to get rich quick as a boxer, will come to a bad end? It’s impossible, that’s all it is. I don’t even need the rest of this story.

Bunny boxing manager: 'Well - OKAY, okay, come on!' Spunky the Kangaroo, looking right at the reader, excited: 'Boy, oh boy! All I gotta do is knock out Gorilla Gus -- an I'll be FAMOUS!'
Panel from Frisky Animals #56, cover date December 1953, page 17. Original artist uncertain. I don’t know that Gorilla Gus is related to the diner customer that Bimbo needlessly antagonizes in Dizzy Dishes.

MiSTed: The Tale of Grumpy Weasel, Chapter 16

Arthur Scott Bailey’s The Tale of Grumpy Weasel enters its sixteenth chapter and a fresh new adventure this week. You can see the whole of my Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment at this link. You can enjoy it at your leisure.

The story so far: Grumpy Weasel’s plan to sweet-talk his way into the henhouse failed. While Old Mrs Hen remains a fan, Young Master Robin, Paddy Muskrat, and Jimmy Rabbit are wise to his unpleasant ways. Who will our long, squirmy antihero cross paths with next? And is it a name from our past? Read and find out.


CROW: X versus I, the final confrontation!


TOM: The …

JOEL: This adventure’s going to be a struggle.

> Grumpy Weasel never seemed to have anything but bad
> luck whenever he went near the farmyard.

CROW: Hey, you know what’s good luck? A rabbit’s foot — oh.

> Perhaps that was the
> reason why he kept going back there, for he was nothing if
> not determined.

TOM: I’m starting to think he looks for things to be grumpy about.

> Anyhow, he had found the hunting poor along
> his stone wall in the woods.

JOEL: Nobody hunts there anymore, it’s too popular.

> And there was so much "game," as
> he called it,

CROW: Game, but not in so many words.

JOEL: It’s some big game, like Huge Monopoly and Giant Uno and Nine Tall Men’s Morris.

> about the farm buildings that he thought it was
> silly to leave it for such scamps as Peter Mink and Tommy Fox

TOM: Scampy Squirrel …

CROW: Swindler Skunk …

JOEL: Slick Stork …

> and Fatty Raccoon.

[ ALL gasp! ]

TOM: Are we — is this a legit crossover?

> So he took to loitering near Farmer Green’s corncrib.

CROW: Don’t go too near, you’ll have to change the corn-nappies.

> And he was not at all pleased to find Fatty Raccoon there one
> evening.

JOEL: Ladies! And Gentlemen! The hardest-eating raccoon in the business! Two tons of ringtail in a four-ton bag, the one, the only, Fatty Raccoon!

TOM: [ As Fatty ] ‘Who, little ol’ me?’

> He wouldn’t have spoken to Fatty at all had not that

> plump young chap hurled a cutting remark directly at him:

TOM: Scissors slice incisor vorpal blade weasel.

> "There are no chickens in this building. This is a corncrib."

CROW: Thank you, Torgo.

> "Don’t you suppose I know that?" Grumpy retorted.

JOEL: I make no assumptions about what weasels know about what chickens know about what corncribs can be used for.

> "I’ve come here to guard the corn from mice and squirrels."

TOM: And, uh, the space aliens who are stealing our cribs.

> "There’s no need of your doing that," Fatty Raccoon
> told him.

CROW: [ As Grumpy ] ‘Oh, is there no need of my doing that? What if I say no, there isn’t there no need of my doing that? What then, varlet?’

> "Have you never noticed those tin pans, upside
> down, on top of the posts on which the corncrib rests?

TOM: Tin Pan Alley was smaller than I thought!

> How
> could a mouse or a squirrel ever climb past one of those?"

CROW: Maybe something peppy in 3/4 time that’ll sell in Brooklyn *and* Peoria?

> "There are ways," Grumpy Weasel said wisely.

TOM: He’s bluffing! Get him!

> "I doubt it," Fatty replied. "I don’t believe the
> trick can be done."

JOEL: We’ve had to watch six thousand short films about how to have good posture while dating a Chevy salesman on the phone and not one word about what the heck a corncrib is or why you’d have tin pans on them.

> Then, not to oblige Fatty, but to show him he was
> mistaken,

TOM: Anyone can do any amount of work as long as it’s part of showing someone else is wrong.

> Grumpy climbed a tree near-by, dropped from one of
> its branches to the roof of the corncrib,

CROW: What squirrel could have mastered climbing a tree *and* jumping from it to get food?

> and quickly found a
> crack in the side of the building through which he slipped
> with no trouble at all.

JOEL: Um … bye?

> Suddenly there was a great scurrying and scrambling
> inside.

CROW: Eh, I’ve seen greater.

> And soon Fatty Raccoon saw Frisky Squirrel

TOM: Snrrk!

JOEL: Wait, really?

> and
> several of his friends

TOM: Randy Chipmunk, Lusty Woodchuck, and Arthur the Anhedonic Pocket Gopher.

> —not to mention three frightened
> mice—

JOEL: Good job not mentioning them!

CROW: Arthur Scott Bailey slapping his forehead, saying he swore he wasn’t going to do that again.

> come tumbling out and tear off in every direction.

TOM: Including thorbwards.

> Presently Grumpy Weasel stuck his head through a
> crack between two boards.

CROW: [ As the Wizard of Oz doorkeeper ] ‘Who rang that bell?’

> "Did you catch the robbers?" he called to Fatty
> Raccoon.

TOM: [ As Fatty ] ‘What are you, a cop?’

> "They were too spry for me," Fatty told him.

CROW: Also I don’t eat named cast, I’m not a *monster*.

> He
> wouldn’t have stopped one anyhow, for Grumpy Weasel.

JOEL: The screen energy of this pair, it’s like Paul Newman and Robert Redford together.

> "Which way did they go, old Slow Poke?"

TOM: Old Slow Poke? Nah, they went by the South Buttons Shunpike.

> Grumpy cried
> as he jumped down in great haste.

CROW: Even gravity wants Grumpy Weasel to go.

> "Everywhere!" Fatty told him.

JOEL: All at once?!

> "Can’t you be a little more exact?

TOM: [ As Fatty ] ‘Everywhere but *here*.’

CROW: [ As Grumpy ] ‘OK, that does help, though.’

> You don’t
> think—do you?—that I can run more than one way at a
> time?"

CROW: What if you saunter? Maybe you can saunter in up to three directions at once?

> "Why don’t you run round and round in a circle?"

JOEL: Like a record baby, right round, round, round.

> Fatty suggested. "In that way you might catch at least half
> those youngsters—and perhaps all of them."

TOM: Merry-go-weasel.

CROW: Grumpy-go-weasel.

JOEL: It’s just nice to see a weasel getting out of the whole pop-goes-ing box.

> "That’s the first real idea you ever had in your
> life!"

JOEL: Hey, he had that great ‘cheese pie au gratin’ plan.

> Grumpy exclaimed—which was as near to thanking a
> person as he was ever known to come.

CROW: What if he has to thank a person a second time?

[ To continue … ? ]

“Pocket gopher” is just a longer and therefore funnier way of saying “gopher”. There’s no particular reference in the “Old Slow Poke” and “South Buttons Shunpike” thing, the words just sounded like old-timey ways of getting places. If you think something else here might benefit from an explanation, let me know. I can talk about my writing at any length as long as I’m being dull.

Statistics February: What Kinds Of Things People Wanted To See Here Recently

Sorry to be late, I was getting mad at web pages that claim to convert Gregorian calendar dates to ancient Roman calendar dates written by people who plainly have no understanding of the ancient Roman calendar. Anyway no, I don’t have reason to think I might not be basically neurotypical, why do you ask?

I apologize again for not having the pictures of my month-to-month readership fluctuations. WordPress still has that thing going on where I have to go from Safari, the browser I like doing this on, to Firefox, the browser I like to use for looking at bonkers old comic books, to get them. And that’s not much work but I am tired so I’ll get around to pictures someday.

My expectation for popular original posts in a month is that it’s going to be comic strip stuff. Mostly plot recaps. In February I got a fair bit of comic strip stuff going on, sure. But it was scrambled, plot summaries getting sunk by breaking comic strip news. And not all of it was about the Dilbert guy being like that. Here’s the things people read the most from February:

I haven’t yet heard, by the way, what the plan is for Hagar the Horrible now that Chris Browne has died. I also don’t know what sort of lead time they have. My guess would be whatever assistants were at work carry on while a permanent decision is made. Could be reruns, or remakes, too. That’s entirely my guessing. Also, good pick on that Grumpy Weasel chapter; that was a fun one, part of the infinite race Grumpy got Jimmy Rabbit on.

It’s nice to see some spread but what’s always really wanted around here is my comic strip plot recaps. My plan for the coming couple weeks is to do these recaps:

As ever, this is subject to change, in case a story comic seems to stand up and demand my goofy attention. If you want to be sure not to miss anything, there’s no hope. There are a couple things you can do. There’s a ‘Follow Another Blog, Meanwhile Via Email” which does what it says. Above that is a button to add my blog to your WordPress reader. And you can add the RSS feed of https://nebushumor.wordpress.com/feed to whatever reader you like. But, speaking as someone who’s signed up to different blogs by every one of these methods I can assure you it’s possible to miss my writing anyway. The good thing, though, is if you do miss my posts, you won’t miss them. You just won’t read them is all. All you’ll know is whenever I do get around to sharing pictures of my readership rise and fall, you won’t be a piece of the bar chart. Many of us can accept that.

I Will Have to Explain This One to My Dad

But I was thinking about, on Deep Space Nine, those aliens from the “allamaraine” episode? The ones who came all the way from the Gamma Quadrant to see what the board games at Quark’s Bar were like? So, like, the big thing about the series is that the Gamma Quadrant is dominated by the, uh, Dominion. (They didn’t know they were expected to have a name ready today.) And the Dominion has spent thousands of generations sculpting the destinies of all the species in their power to fit specific needs. So this implies the Founders of the Dominion decided that for some reason they need a world of gamers. Why? What problem is solved by having a planet full of people who can’t make it that night?

For my Dad: Uh … this is about a Star Trek thing. Also about gamers. Anyway it’s all correctly constructed and is therefore funny.

What’s Going On In Rex Morgan, M.D.? Why don’t you make forecasts about where story comics are going? December 2022 – March 2023

I’m posting this a day ‘early’ to prove that I can too sometimes make deadline and even when it isn’t one of the Sunday-only strips that have easier plots to recap.

Yeah so this is what happens when I try to think like a writer. Last story recap came after a couple months of dealing with ‘Mud’ Murphy, ten headaches of a performer stuffed into one gigantic body. I thought there were hints being dropped that Murphy was dealing, badly, with self-destructive issues. Maybe he is, but they went unexamined in the strip. Maybe a future storyline; Terry Beatty does like bringing back characters and Murphy’s bombast does play well.

This recap, meanwhile, should catch you up to early March 2023 in Rex Morgan, M.D.. Any news about the strip I’ll post here. And there should be a more up-to-date plot recap around June 2023, in case you’re in the far future and everything I write is more irrelevant than usual.

Rex Morgan, M.D..

4 December 2022 – 4 March 2023.

After everyone called Mud Murphy a Wilbur Weston for his attention-grabbing stunt he quit Lew’s Nite Spot and the strip, at least for now. ‘Truck’ Tyler apologizes to Wanda Lastname, who turns out to be the owner of Nick’s Diner. (I hadn’t known she was anything besides a server there.) They enjoy a happy after-hours dinner. Watch this space.

We transition over to watching Rex Morgan’s family the 13th of December. It’s some hanging around with family, particularly for the holidays. There’s a bunch of that, filling the strip from December through mid-February. The high points there are the kids worrying about getting Christmas right and then Valentine’s Day. Sarah is peeved to learn her little brothers, Michael and Johnny, have girlfriends and a whole life she (and the readers) don’t know about. It’s a deft touch. It might plant story options for the two young boys, although see my preamble for my ability to forecast what’s going on in a comic strip.

June Morgan thinks to herself as she goes into the grocery: 'Seems like Rex and I can hardly go anywhere without needing to help someone with a medical issue. It's not surprising someone would slip and fall on the ice in this parking lot, though. That fellow probably wasn't the first and most likely won't be the last. Anyhow --- that's over with, and I can get my shopping done. [ Inside the shop ] The asparagus looks good. Deli chicken's an easy choice.' Elder man, woozy: 'Excuse me --- I'm feeling a little dizzy. Can you help me?' Morgan: 'I'm a nurse, so, yes --- what's going on?' Man: 'I think my blood sugar's low ... '
Terry Beatty’s Rex Morgan, M.D. for the 8th of January, 2023. How did Rex, who works at the same clinic June does, get home before her?

But most of what we see is June Morgan having a full day, that gets started with January of the year. She’s trying to go to the supermarket. But a man slips on the ice in front of her and she does your basic first-response work, checking that he’s all right and able to get up and about and all. She recommends they go to the local hospital and that the Morgan Clinic is available for follow-ups.

It doesn’t end there, though. Inside, a man stumbles around asking for help. He’s diabetic and can’t read his blood sugar monitor. He is low; she gets him some orange juice and sits with him until it gets better. She scolds him to be more careful about watching his blood sugar levels and drops another plug for the Morgan Clinic.

And that’s not the end of her emergency medical caring. As she’s driving home she sees a car accident, caused by a teen driver going too fast on icy roads. The kid’s all right apart from how his dad’s going to kill him. The other driver is Melinda Jenkins, someone June knows from the PTA. I don’t know if Melinda Jenkins has been in the strip before worth mentioning. She needs an ambulance, but also calls out asking if Petey in the back seat is okay. Her son is named Tommy. Petey, it turns out, is their dog, who is fine if nervous. Once Jenkins has the ambulance crew watching over her, June’s day turns to delivering Petey to his home. That goes without incident. And it gives her time to authorize Rex to make frozen pizza like the kids have been asking for since the story started.

Valentine’s Day is the transition to a new story, based on the multiple sets of older men finding romance with diner owners current in the strip. It starts with Truck Tyler coming back to town and visiting Wanda in her diner. (She’d inherited it from her father.) He’s thinking of settling down, now that he’s doing well enough to not have to live out of his car. And Glenwood seems like a great place what with it being where his life turned around and Wanda being a lovely woman who doesn’t mind him. Wanda confesses to liking him too, and they kiss.

Sitting at the diner booth. Wanda: 'Y'know, you could have simply asked me out a date.' Truck Tyler: 'Yeah, but as bad as I've messed up my past relationships, I wanna put all my cards on the table. I'm a good deal older than you. I spend most of my time on the road. I'm twice divorced and, until recently, flat broke and livin' out of my car. I may not be most folks' definition of a 'good catch'.' Wanda: 'Good thing I'm not 'most folks', then, huh?' Tyler: 'Yeah --- that's what I like about you.' Wanda: 'The feeling's mutual, Truck.' Tyler: 'That's nice to know.' Wanda: 'Yeah --- it is.'
Terry Beatty’s Rex Morgan, M.D. for the 26th of February, 2023. I like how the relationships this strip get started, by the way. There’s not much drama in them, just the terror of opening up to someone you can’t ever be completely sure is going to be responsive. But it feels true to me. Like, imagine staging this scene; would it be hard to get actors to play this well? Compare even to how you’d need a pretty skilled line read to get June Morgan’s thought balloons in the other strip to not sound weird or smug.

As Tyler leaves for his upcoming gig, in walk Hank Harwood Junior and his new bride, Yvonne Grey, the Route 66 diner dowager. They talk a little about the diner and how nice it is to be retired from running one. And about their upcoming honeymoon, a country music cruise. No, Truck Tyler’s not one of the performers. This suggests where the story might be going in the next few months but, again, see my preamble. I’m not making guesses about anything.

Next Week!

And if it weren’t hard enough to guess where things are going, it’s time for my biggest challenge saying where they’ve been! Henry Barajas and Rod Whigham’s Gil Thorp is the next on my schedule, for next week. I need to start work a couple days ago.

In Which I Confess Something Shameful

I sincerely thought Daylight Saving Time started this weekend and I’d have an extra hour to think of anything at all. I know, me, of all people, to be foiled by a calendar event. I mean, you say it could happen to anyone (go ahead; I’m not listening), but I am someone who as a kid tried my best to figure a way to reconfigure the calendar so it would be more regularized and also Halloween would always be a weekend night, and submitted it to the community science fair, where I believe I got the coveted “Oh, uh, well, that’s quite different of you” award. I shouldn’t be making amateur mistakes like this.

Statistics Saturday: Weather Forecast For The Next Week

  • Sunday. 44 F (7 C) Partly clumsy skies
  • Monday. 12 F (-3 ha) Light snow between 2 pm and 3 inches.
  • Tuesday. 66 F (2 km/s/Mpc) Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles
  • Wednesday. 102.3 FM (The Rat Who Rocks) Snow expected in amounts between minus 4 and positive two inches (5.07995 cm)
  • Thursday. 32 F (28 Men’s) Scattered bursts of Sunday, Tuesday afternoon, cloddy skies
  • Friday. 36 F (10% off F’s with discount code) Every podcast publishes a new episode at once, explodes that thing that’s not called iTunes anymore but still can’t handle “download new episodes of podcasts you subscribed to and delete them after you’ve played them and also put the one you select as ‘play next’ as the next one on the list of things to play”
  • Saturday. -12 (High)/48 (Low). Mostly clumsy skies, sunset better than the picture you take of it

Reference: Listening To Radio, 1920 – 1950, Ray Barfield.

Who Watches the Watches

As I write this we’re looking at getting some weather in this evening. By weather I mean “bad weather” since they don’t start running colored tickers at the bottom of the TV screen over it being a pleasant day. It’s probably going to be snow, although they haven’t figured out what we’re getting. It’s coming up from the south, which is the third-most-common place for snow to come from here in mid-Michigan, shortly after “from the west” and “from above”. How much is open to speculation. Might be four to eight inches. Might be 12 inches (or 4.7 centimeters, a mistake made while converting the units that should have been caught before publication). Might be a honking great mass of rain since it’s above freezing and is supposed to stay above freezing all night. All I know is my parents, who moved to one of those states where it never snows but the politics are appalling, will know exactly how bad it is. Also that tomorrow it’s supposed to be in the upper 40s and so, I’m supposing, we get covered in a five-inch-thick layer of ice.

MiSTed: The Tale of Grumpy Weasel, Chapter 15

I’m somehow past halfway in my Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment of Arthur Scott Bailey’s . The whole of the MiSTing, whether I finish the book or not, should appear at this link.

The story so far: After a life spent making everyone around him unhappy Grumpy Weasel has started sweet-talking Old Mrs Hen. He even went into the henhouse to make sure the rat hole is not something his mischievous cousin Peter Mink can get through. And having said that, he went into the henhouse and vanished. What’s his game? Let’s find out.

I’m thinking to put the explanations of more obscure riffs at the bottom, so you can have the fun of trying to guess what I’m on about before I spoil the joke.

> XV

TOM: That V is actually the top half of a much bigger X.


CROW: Push the button, Watson.

> The story soon spread all around the farmyard,

JOEL: Sky falling. Huh. Well, it’ll do that.

> how
> fat Mrs. Hen

TOM: How fat is she?

> had been seen talking with no less a rascal than
> Grumpy Weasel.

CROW: But not more a rascal than two Tommy Foxes less one Peter Mink!

> Everybody told her that it was a dangerous thing to
> do

TOM: Well if everyone told you it was dangerous to jump off a cliff … ?

> and that it was a wonder she had escaped,

JOEL: I wonder how she escaped!

TOM: Everyone’s asking!

> until Mrs. Hen
> began to feel that she was quite the most important person in
> the neighborhood.

CROW: o/` Who are the people in your neighborhood? o/`

> Even old dog Spot asked her some questions
> one day—some of which she could answer, and some of which
> she could not.

TOM: Why does it rain?

CROW: What’s the capital of Nebraska?

JOEL: How do you know if it’s a leap year?

CROW: Why does it Nebraska?

TOM: How are trains?

JOEL: Will I be licked by purple?

CROW: How many are ‘a book’?

> For one thing, she couldn’t (or wouldn’t) tell what
> way Grumpy left the farmyard.

TOM: As a hen it’s important she protect her sources.

> "He just jumped back and was
> gone before I knew it," she said.

CROW: [ As Spot ] ‘So you don’t know he’s gone.’

JOEL: [ As Mrs Hen ] ‘Know who’s gone?’

> "That’s what they all say," said Spot. "He’s so quick
> you never can see him go."

TOM: [ As Spot ] ‘But I want you to try.’

> Now, Mrs. Hen ought to have explained that Grumpy
> Weasel disappeared from inside the henhouse.

CROW: I think she could explain from wherever she happened to be.

> But she was not
> a person of much sense.

JOEL: She’s more of a raconteur.

> By that time she began to think that
> perhaps Grumpy Weasel was as bad as the neighbors had said.

TOM: ‘Really? *He’s* he guy who keeps putting NewsNation on the TV at the car dealership?’

> And she was afraid that her relations might find fault with
> her

JOEL: Your tail feathers are out of order, clean it up or we’ll report you to the Hen Owners Association.

> if they learned that she had invited Grumpy to enter
> their house.

TOM: If he doesn’t come to her house how will Grumpy be one of the comfortable people?

> Silly Mrs. Hen decided that she wouldn’t tell
> what she had done.

CROW: They’re going to suspect something when they find a weasel in the pantry, though.

> But she never tired of talking about what
> she called "the great mystery"

TOM: How to unite gravity and electromagnetism!

> —meaning "Where did Grumpy
> Weasel go?"

JOEL: I love these ‘Where’s Weasel?’ puzzles.

> It was simple enough.

TOM: The henhouse was twins the whole time!

> To escape meeting old dog Spot,
> Grumpy Weasel had crawled into the old rat hole.

CROW: Templeton!

JOEL: [ Shakes his fist ]

> It suited
> him quite well to do that, for more than one reason.

TOM: Why do we even *have* a hole that makes rats old?

> Not only
> did he avoid trouble, but he found the other end of the rat
> hole.

JOEL: It’s this great little dive, they do karaoke Mondays, it’s awesome.

> Silly Mrs. Hen had done exactly as he had hoped. She
> had shown him a way to get into the henhouse at night in
> spite of locks and bolts and doors.

CROW: The secret was asking nicely.

> And Grumpy Weasel went
> off to the woods well pleased with himself.

TOM: [ As Grumpy ] ‘I’m so happy I have this deep hole in the ground to keep my water!’

JOEL: [ Puts his hand on TOM’s shoulder. ]

> "Perhaps, after all, it pays to be pleasant," he
> said

CROW: It’s nice to be nice … to the nice.

> —just as if that was a reason! But he stopped short all
> at once.

JOEL: Grumpy’s heart grew three sizes that day … to four below average.

> "There’s that stupid Mrs. Hen," he cried aloud. "She
> was pleasant; but it won’t pay her, in the end!"

CROW: Great little sociopath we’ve got for our protagonist here.

TOM: He’s *not* a sociopath. He’s a weasel, he doesn’t have a theory of mind in other people so he can’t disregard his theory of mind in other people.

CROW: … What?

> So he
> decided on the spot that he would keep on being surly.

JOEL: Chicks and ducks and geese better scurry before they’re taken out by the surly.

> It
> would be much easier for him, anyhow.

TOM: Growing as a person is so hard.

> That very night Grumpy Weasel stole back to the
> henhouse.

CROW: Hens running around wondering where all their back is.

> And he was just about to creep up to the old rat
> hole,

TOM: It’s $5 Mystery Beer Pitcher night!

> pausing first to take a searching look all around, when
> he saw a motionless figure sitting on a low-hanging limb of a
> tree near-by.

CROW: [ Gasping ] Gargoyles!

> It was Solomon Owl.

JOEL: Wisdom of Shazam!

> And Grumpy could see that
> he was staring at the rat hole as if he were waiting for
> somebody.

TOM: [ Stage-whispering ] ‘He’s asleep!’

CROW: [ Snores ]

> Grumpy Weasel knew at once that that rat hole was no
> safe place for him.

JOEL: There are spies everywhere!

> Very gingerly he drew back into a deep
> shadow.

TOM: Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa [ Fading out, as though falling; finally, a distant ] Splash!

> And as he pondered silently he saw a huge rat step
> out of the hole.

JOEL: [ As Rat ] ‘What a night to be young and have my whole life spread out in front of me!’

> Solomon Owl swooped down and grabbed the
> fellow before he knew what was happening.

CROW: [ As the Rat, fading ] ‘Someone update my status on the office Slack!’

JOEL: Boy, never go unnamed in an Arthur Scott Bailey novel.

> Well, Grumpy Weasel saw that all his trouble had gone
> for nothing.

TOM: All that trouble? Eh, it’s nothing.

> Silly Mrs. Hen hadn’t known what she was talking
> about.

JOEL: In what way, exactly?

> If Solomon Owl was in the habit of watching that hole
> Grumpy certainly didn’t mean to go near it.

CROW: Oh, you’re mean enough to go near it, don’t worry.

> Of course he was angry. But Mrs. Hen never learned
> what he said about her.

JOEL: His rant about birds all conspiring together, though, would get him suspended from Twitter for almost ten minutes.

> No matter what remarks her neighbors
> made,

CROW: Whether they be ‘there’s an angleworm there’ or ‘hey, did you see that other angleworm’ or ‘I’d rather not be eaten’.

> she always insisted afterward

TOM: It would be odd to insist beforeward.

> that Grumpy Weasel was
> one of the most pleasant and polite gentlemen she had ever
> met.

JOEL: I think the rest of the farmyard needs to start doing better.

[ To continue … ? ]

“Push the button, Watson” is a cross between Professor Fate’s repeated instruction to Max in The Great Race, this time with Holmes’s sidekick Watson. Grumpy being “one of the comfortable people” riffs on the “Welcome” song in The Who’s Tommy. Templeton was the rat in Charlotee’s Web and also there was a rat in Charlotte’s Web. Leave a note if something else seems inexplicable and I’ll try to explain.

And Now for a Moment of Relaxation

Let’s put aside all this unpleasant talk about Scott Adams (not the 1980s computer game person, by the way, in case anyone worried) and get back to some good, serious, thoughtful comics, such as whatever the heck is going on here in Supermouse #40, publication date August 1957, the same month when the Soviet Union successfully launched an R-7 long-distance multistage ICBM setting them up for the October launch of Sputnik 1:

Single panel of a comic book showing Supermouse wrapped up tight by a snake, while his face is brushed by the tail of a raccoon henchman. Supermouse cries out: 'Hya-ha-ha! Being tickled to death! Tee-hee! This is the final indignity!' A shadowed figure --- Terrible Tom Cat --- cackles, 'Oh no, my friend! I have a much more SPECTACULAR finish planned for you!'
Panel from Supermouse #40, August 1957. You can find the original on page 31. Please don’t think that the raccoon is voluntarily a part of this crime syndicate; as the story (beginning on page 28) reveals, Terrible Tom is using capitalist force to make the raccoon sweep and tickle his enemies.
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