Over on the Other Blog: Comic Strips!


It’s not got quite so large a fan base — well, I post less, because it’s harder work — but I do keep up a mathematics blog where among other things I review comic strips that have touched on mathematical themes. I’ve just put up a fresh summary of this past month’s, and if you’d care for pointers to a bunch of comic strips and some mention of what they’re talking about, please visit.

I should warn you that this includes a lot of comic strips that you probably didn’t know existed, because somehow I keep finding comics like Rabbits Against Magic or On A Claire Day that nobody else has ever heard of or read. At least people have heard of Mutt and Jeff, although they stopped reading it back in the Coolidge administration, and maybe remember hearing about Wee Pals. It’s a talent I somehow have.

Some Parts Of The Horse Or The Carburetor


(Let’s try this again.)

  • The head.
  • The neck.
  • The mounting base.
  • The posterior whelk?
  • The idle speed adjusting crackscrew.
  • The mounting base. (If you forgot the first.)
  • The parts that’ll step on you.
  • The parts that’ll bite you.
  • The parts that flames come out of.
  • The idle mixture adjusting screw. (Now this seems like they’re just putting in screws for the fun of it. I must have something wrong.)

Some Parts Of The Horse


(Note: Not a complete list.)

  • The head.
  • The neck.
  • The … uh … widdershins?
  • I think there’s stifles or something?
  • The anterior whelk?
  • The … Tralfamadorian … infandibulator I want to say? Infindibulator? Something like that.
  • The retroactive … er … carporeal … uh … thingy?
  • The parts that’ll step on you.
  • The parts that’ll bite you.

What To Pack


If you aren’t caught by surprise by your trip somewhere you’ll want to prepare, since preparation turns the stress of time spent away from home when you might discover you forgot something essential (the most commonly forgotten things are wristwatches, the ability to produce the neurotransmitter-hydrolizing serine protease acetylcholinesterase, and credit cards), into a week of worrying that you are going to forget something you need and then discovering you forgot something else while you brought enough toothpaste to crush a small army of cavities. Here’s things you need:

Outfits: 1 outfit for each day of travel, plus one just in case, plus one in case you decide to be non-nude when you set out. Add another outfit for every other day in case it turns out to be more than 20 degrees (forty Imperial meters) cooler than you expect it to be. Add one more outfit for every three days in case it turns out to e more than 25 degrees (two ha’pennies) warmer than you hoped it was going to be. Throw in another two outfits to cover the case of the weather being more average than you anticipate, and another three outfits in case you don’t see the pie fight soon enough.

Continue reading “What To Pack”

More Warnings from the Dreams


Just because your undergrad school has a two-person dorm room mysteriously available does not mean that you personally would be the person to best solve the mysterious emptiness by moving into it with a guy you knew later in the 90s, particularly if you were kind of savoring the idea of having it to yourself. Just tell the guy that the other mysteriously open dorm room is at least as good and this way you’ll both have dorm room to yourselves. Also, that guy interviewing you for the student newspaper despite being, like, two or three decades too old for it is only humoring you in asking for details of your plan to install a modest roller coaster on the engineering campus by where the A and H buses first stop (near the mathematics building), so don’t be fooled by his enthusiasm, even if he had no idea it was going to be so popular a proposal.

Pondering Blackbeard


Stipulating that there is an afterlife in which all persons who ever lived are able to meet one another and speak as they like, then, and let’s not consider the sorts of scheduling problems that presents one you really think about it (sure, there are probably only dozens of people today who’d like to talk to 19th century superclown Dan Rice, but when you multiply a dozen people by the over thirty years left until the end of time, that’s a lot of demands on his time, plus he was more popular back in the day), I’d kind of like to be there when someone tracks down Blackbeard and tells him that by the early 21st century, his name is plastered all over stuff like kiddie roller coasters at Great Adventure or some pretty fun miniature golf courses that include randomly selected facts about pirates alongside that agonizing one where the hole is in the middle of this little hill and you just can not possibly get it in without overshooting. I think the confused and awkward silence to follow could be among the greatest confused and awkward silences of all time.

And One More Krazy Kat


I don’t mean to turn this entirely over to a “you should like Krazy Kat sort of blog,” particularly since it definitely isn’t for everyone. But some of them are accessible even without getting into the strip’s odd rhythms and pace, so here’s another to enjoy.

Continue reading “And One More Krazy Kat”

Improving How You Draw


If you’ve been stuck trying to improve the way you draw things, and/or people, and/or how you caricature Richard Nixon and found yourself stuck, have you considered giving a try at drawing guinea pigs? They make good practice if you’re having trouble on the details of shapes, because guinea pigs really don’t so much have shapes. They’re more sort of there and have fur all right, and maybe a bit of general nervousness about how you seem to be expecting them to do something, but as result you really can’t go wrong with them. If that fails, you might try drawing some invisible characters, if you don’t think that’s too likely to get you caught by ghosts.

Finley Peter Dunne: Machinery


I want to offer another bit from Observations By Mr. Dooley, this one a bit about the astounding progress in machinery that the late 19th century had brought, and the basic attitude feels to me pretty evergreen.

Mr. Dooley was reading from a paper.

“‘We live,’ he says, ‘in an age iv wondhers. Niver befure in th’ histhry iv th’ wurruld has such progress been made.’

Continue reading “Finley Peter Dunne: Machinery”

In Which I See Through A Chipmunk


So I was eavesdropping on that troupe of squirrels doing improv in the backyard when I noticed there was this chipmunk, dressed in a bow tie of all things, looking up at me and grinning in this way that just screams “sunflower seeds”. I tried to just sort of smile and shuffle off without committing to anything, but he started talking about how great it was that this gang had a venue in which to perform now, and how they were looking ready for great things, and how somebody really sharp with a modest investment could see them rocket out of the sticks and into at least regional importance.

I tried not to look offended that my backyard — mine, mind you — was being called the sticks, and I didn’t explain that all the giggling from the pond was not because it’d been installed as a laugh track (“it’s wonderfully awkward, laughing at all the wrong beats, it really throws the performances into this whole new area, and challenges the audience” which what?) but because we’d put fish in it.

Still, I made my getaway as quickly as I could. I know when somebody’s warming up to hitting me for cash.

A Guide to Some Municipal Parking Garages


8th 4th Street Meeting Parking Deck

The county-famous Meeting Parking Deck is designed for anyone with a need to have a meeting today. Gate attendants are constantly keeping track of which spaces are free and which people have not yet met anyone, and a roving pack of feral docents guides visitors into teams where they can hold meetings or — using the cylindrical tower at the north-east corner of the structure — even start to facilitate networking or some such rot. This parking deck leads the way in the whole Lesser Pompous Lakes Area as being the fourth-largest small-business incubating parking deck and counts dozens of small-business success stories to its credit by stealing the mail from the Lastman’s Glurge Small Business Development Center and Discount Candle Emporium. Maximum parking fee of $18.50 per day which can be waived with proof that you know someone who died of boredom during a Total Quality Management seminar.

Continue reading “A Guide to Some Municipal Parking Garages”

Customs of the Goldfish


Some of the many customs of the goldfish:

  1. Grabbing a flake of food in the mouth and waddling around shaking it out to show off to everyone until everyone explains that they aren’t all that impressed by grabbing flakes of food, until you find out it’s rock candy.
  2. Calling up Glenn Beck just to make fun of him. (Not unique to the goldfish community.)
  3. Tri-dimensional do-si-dos. Or do-si-does. It includes some argument about what the plural of do-si-do is, anyway.
  4. Writing new lyrics to classic Paul McCartney songs and proclaiming them far better than what he produced for, say, “Freedom”.
  5. Explaining these freaky games they had of SimCity 2000 where they built the whole city without any roads or rails or this one time on Civilization II where they conquered the entire world, several continents worth, without ever building a ship because some city on a neighboring continent overthrew its rulers and joined their empire and they bought their way into world domination that way until everybody else in the pond loses patience.
  6. Talking about the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode “The Giant Spider Invastion”, with everybody in it explaining the guy who says “You been hittin’ the BOOZE again” also played the Klingon judge in Star Trek VI like any of them don’t remember it.

Finley Peter Dunne: “Sherlock Holmes”


Here’s a bit from Finley Peter Dunne — Mister Dooley — in Observations By Mr. Dooley. It amuses me, besides its basic funniness, for spoofing the Sherlock Holmes stories right about when they were still being written. I can’t find just when this particular essay was composed, but the book was published in 1902 or possibly 1903.

Dorsey an’ Dugan are havin’ throuble,” said Mr. Hennessy.

“What about?” asked Mr. Dooley.

“Dorsey,” said Mr. Hennessy, “says Dugan stole his dog. They had a party at Dorsey’s an’ Dorsey heerd a noise in th’ back yard an’ wint out an’ see Dugan makin’ off with his bull tarryer.”

“Ye say he see him do it?”

“Yis, he see him do it.”

“Well,” said Mr. Dooley, “‘twud baffle th’ injinooty iv a Sherlock Holmes.”

“Who’s Sherlock Holmes?”

Continue reading “Finley Peter Dunne: “Sherlock Holmes””

City Council Primary Guide


Third Ward candidate David Floche comes from a self-described innovative and job-creating background, taking credit for franchising the operations of that guy on the city buses who keeps staring at the poster on the wall behind the driver’s head, like he’s trying to drive eye-lasers through the poor driver. His licensees can be found on all buses running to and from the Two Corners Intersection Mall.

Floche supports the merger of Pompous Lakes with San Luis Obispo, California, a move he expects will catch them “completely off guard”, and believes our city, or possibly theirs, will better serve the public by instituting a policy of visiting everyone to remind them of what they forgot at the supermarket last visit. Anticipating success in both election and implementing this policy he has asked for suggestions of what that forgotten thing might be, as all he can think of is “candles”.

Making Me Smile: From The Back Of My Peanuts Calendar


This, now, this just made me smile. It’s “The Daily Extra” that’s on the back of my page-a-day Peanuts calendar, a feature they include so as to distract people from how they don’t have Sundays as separate days anymore even though the “page-a-day” calendar is implicitly one (1) page for one (1) day, of which Sundays (S) are one (1). Anyway, from the back of the 3/4th of August calendar for the year 2013:

Unique Gift Idea

Do you have a unique gift idea, but you can’t find the item locally? There’s a very good chance that you’ll be able to find it on the Internet. Have a friend help you search the Web if Internet shopping is outside your comfort zone.

That’s outstanding advice and I figure to put it into practice just as soon as I’m in 1998.

Community Calendar: Streetlight Counting Day


Monday, August 5, 9:30 pm. The Lesser Pompous Lakes Office of the Comptroller invites all residents in and around the municipal area to take part in the fourth-ever Streetlight Counting Day. A half-hour after sunset please step outside, identify any and all streetlights in your area, and whether they’re working, and report back to the Office of the Comptroller. Asked if residents should decorate their streetlights or dance around them or maybe do a thing with flowers or papier-mâché the Comptroller-General said, “Yeah, sure, whatever, just send in the counts.” We can’t wait!

Getting Started


Often it’s hard to get started; I know I barely manage to start anything for the first time, myself. Often it’s going to require a jump start. The easiest way to get a jump start is to have a kangaroo do the jumping, as they’re experts in jumping and, in the cartoons, looking really dashing while wearing vests and maybe a pair of glasses. Of course, it’s hard to find kangaroos outside Australia this time of year, as they’re busy registering for fall classes. Thus we can return to the cartoons and rely on mice. Mice are smaller than kangaroos, according to most of my references, so they’re going to need to practice jumping over smaller things and work their way up. So you’ll need to explain to the mouse you have doing your jumping for you, that he or she will have to start by jumping over a squirrel. If challenged, point out that it would be reasonably easy for a kangaroo to jump over a lazy fox, and just as a mouse is smaller than a kangaroo, so a squirrel is smaller than a fox, and then show the mouse that the card in its hand was the eight of diamonds.

In Which Our Rabbit Explains Windows To Me


“You’re making an awful noise,” our pet rabbit said, in his most scolding of tones.

I stopped swinging the rubber mallet and let go of the putty knife. “Yes, I know, but it’s for a good reason.”

He poked his nose between his cage mesh, almost close enough to nibble at the knife’s handle. “I don’t think you understand. It’s you and you’re doing that thing where you make noise.”

“I’m sorry, but there isn’t another way I’m going to get this window open.”

“Windows don’t open,” he said, and crossed his paws together. “Hasn’t anyone ever explained that to you?”

Continue reading “In Which Our Rabbit Explains Windows To Me”

Here Are Some Numbers (July 2013)


Since my last monthly-statistics roundup post was successful, in that it was a thing that existed and didn’t produce any unwanted explosions or anything, let me repeat the thing. This is just for generally tracking the health of this humor initiative and whatnot, and who knows where that’ll end up? Your guess is as good as mine, although this coming month probably isn’t going to see me get to Altoona, which is a shame.

WordPress says the blog got 375 views in July, which is disappointing only because in June it got 441, and July is a longer month given that it has the whole summer’s heat to expand it. There were also only 178 distinct visitors, as opposed to the 227 distinct viewers in June. This does have a positive side, though: it means the average number of pages each reader went to increased from 1.94 to 2.11, although that’s probably not statistically significant and besides I had 2.17 pages per visitor back in May, but you don’t see me telling everyone that. There’s right now 239 people following announcements about this blog, at least, through e-mail, WordPress, or Twitter, that I know of.

My top five most popular pages of the past 30 days were:

  1. About The Spider-Man Comic Strip, which I did expect to be a popular one since it involved (a) the chance to put up a comic strip that (b) was ridiculous on its own, thus needing no work on my part to amuse.
  2. Basic Dishwasher Repair, which has also gotten some curious attempts at linking from what look like big dishwasher-repair fan sites on the web, which can’t possibly exist, except it is the Internet so who am I to say there aren’t vast dishwasher-repair fan communities, other than a sane person?
  3. Five Astounding Facts About Turbo, That Movie About A Snail In The Indianapolis 500, another rare venture into direct pop-culture commentary for me and again something I thought would be popular because even after seeing the movie I can’t believe this thing actually exists.
  4. Argument With The Rabbit, which I again thought was destined for success given how it’s about a cute pet.
  5. Some Now-Forgotten HTML Tags, which rests comfortably in that set of nerdly jokes that lets me talk about Usenet, which was really great in its heyday and still has flashes of greatness.

Nothing that was in the top-five last month made it over to this month, a bit surprising, since S J Perelman’s “Captain Future, Block That Kick!” was one of last month’s big winners and I posted that back in March. That one dropped to around number 23 in the rankings.

My top recent commenters include, again, Corvidae In The Fields, and thank you for that, then Chiaroscuro (similarly), fluffy (again, thanks), and Ervin Sholpnick.

In July the countries which sent the most visitors to me were the United States again (308), the United Kingdom (11) and Canada (also 11), with last month’s number three, Brazil, falling off the charts altogether. If anyone’s going to be down that way please ask someone what’s wrong. Sending me only a single visitor each were Poland, Lebanon, Turkey, Malaysia, South Korea, Russia, and Sweden, so at least I haven’t lost my Polish or my Swedish viewers.

Robert Benchley Society Announces 2013 Writing Contest


It’s conceivable I’ll be making life harder for myself by spreading the word, but, I still think it’s worth spreading. The Robert Benchley Society, which celebrates the writing and other works of you-know-who, has started its 2013 Humor Writing Contest. The deadline for submissions (up to 500 words) is the 30th of August, and the final judging is to be done by Dr Gina Barreca, author of They Used To Call Me Snow White But I Drifted and a good number of other works.

I’d entered the 2008 contest (final judge that year, Bob Newhart, to my delight — whatever else might happen in my life, Bob Newhart read something I wrote with the intention of being funny), but only reached the finalist stage. I’ve meant to enter in years since, but kept missing the announcements of the contest, and I don’t want that sort of disappointment to happen to other folks if I can help it.