So that’s what’s got me late. I’m thinking about this in case I ever end up in a situation like Wilbur Weston’s. Except that in my case it would be different because I would feel wronged for actually legitimate reasons, unlike other people, such as him.
But there’s other problems. Like, at karaoke I can do a thing that satisfies most technical definitions of singing. But I can only sing one significant note, plus something that’s 75 to 85 percent of the way to a minor third above that note. There’s not a lot of songs written for that vocal range. It’s mostly “Mrs Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter”, except that I can’t control what the significant note will be. Also I know about four normal songs, like, ones that anyone has heard of. I could imagine getting someone pretty good with that old Frank Crumit song about being a guy who builds outhouses. But that’s not as on-point as you’d imagine. Plus it’s not going to be in most karaoke machines.
It might be less trouble to just talk sincerely to people I’m mad at.
Wilbur Weston has been, the past couple months of Karen Moy and June Brigman’s Mary Worth, a Nice Guy. That is, he’s been one of those guys so sure that he’s lovable he’s failing to give the target of his affection reasons to put up with him. Not since the faltering days of For Better Or For Worse, when Granthony whined to Liz “I have no hoooooome”, has a character been quite this punchable. I mean besides Funky Winkerbean’s Les Moore, who’s in a class by himself because everybody you might put him with punches him and leaves.
But supporting him this way has been Mary Worth herself, who keeps telling Estelle, and the reader, that Wilbur has his flaws but has a good heart. Which, fine, but you can say that about almost everyone. Most of us know not to crash someone else’s date with passive-aggressive karaoke fighting.
That I write of “passive-aggressive karaoke fighting” lets you know this has been a glorious couple months for Mary Worth. Soap operas do well when they have emotions out of all proportion and leading to bad decisions with huge consequences. So this has been, culminating with a drunken Wilbur falling off the side of a cruise ship and washing up on an unknown shore.
Mary Worth tries consoling Wilbur by going with him to a karaoke bar. There, he sees Estelle and her date (her cat’s veterinarian). He can’t see a good reason not to sing a heartbreak song about how could she leave him alone. Wilbur’s day job, by the way, is syndicated newspaper advice columnist. It’s an irony not touched at all in the text. Estelle takes up the battle, singing Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”. He responds in kind. It makes a night so exquisite in its awkwardness the audience discovers four new dimensions of spacetime just to have places to look away to. Her date chews his own head off to escape.
The next day Wilbur apologizes to Estelle. And admits how he has no hoooooome and his dog doesn’t like him, so, would he want to take Pierre? She does. He goes off, feeling miserable, and buys some fish that he names Willa and Stellah. And — look, everybody has a right to mope and to self-pity and to putter around telling themselves how the world’s picking on them. That’s fine. But it’s hard for the reader not to notice that Wilbur fought pretty hard to get himself into this fix.
Mary Worth, meanwhile, visits Estelle to sing Wilbur’s praises. Estelle concedes that Wilbur has considerable good sides. We the readers haven’t seen much of this. But there is evidence of it. He likes doing interesting things. He’s able to keep a writing job in this economy. He’s got a writing job where they pay for him to travel around the world. When we see him on a successful date, it’s always, like, him and his partner singing. That is, doing something together without fear of embarrassment and without either person having to be center stage. This might not convince you. But every text asks you to accept there’s more stuff going on than it can show. And this does give a prima facie case for Wilbur as someone you might enjoy hanging out with.
Thing is, Wilbur provoked their breakup because he couldn’t stand the cat meowing along while he sang. And ignored Estelle’s pleas by locking the cat out of the room. He wouldn’t accept that they won’t sing a recording-studio-quality rendition of “Thank You For Being A Friend”. He adopted a dog figuring hey, dogs are chick magnets. And when he did attract a woman, he talked to her about Estelle until she fled. And then picked a passive-aggressive karaoke fight. At least he wasn’t embarrassingly drunk this time, but, he’s done that to Estelle in the past.
This invites the question: does Mary Worth know how bad Wilbur can be? Mary Worth giving advice that turns bad seems to have great story potential. But she was at the karaoke fight. She has to know if he’s a work in progress, the progress is going like the Second Avenue Subway did. We don’t see that she does know.
Estelle meets up with Wilbur while walking her pets. They agree they miss each other, and Wilbur promises to try harder to get along with Libby. And to make it up to her. They get together and Wilbur brings a chew toy for Pierre, and is actually nice to Libby. So it may have been a lot of needless pain getting here, but he is at least being a better person.
Wilbur suggests they take a three-day cruise together, and Estelle is up for it. They leave their cat and dog with Mary Worth. (Mary Worth will do anything except marry Dr Jeff to help people take CRUISE SHIPS into their lives.) And we see today-the-18th that she’s also feeding Wilbur’s fish. I know just enough about fish to know a tank as small as he has is going to need regular water checking and changing, though I grant that’s hard to make visual.
Mary Worth takes the week before Christmas to congratulate herself for shoving these two together. She has a good time walking Pierre and Libby. In what we readers now realize was irony, she almost wishes Estelle and Wilbur would extend their cruise.
On the cruise, Wilbur asks Estelle to marry him. He can’t see any reason for them to wait. She can’t see any reason for them not to wait. Wilbur storms off to get drunk. In that state, he falls off the ship, and King Features Syndicate opens an RIP Wilbur Weston store. (You can buy posters, even framed posters, of most any comic strip they run, not just plot-bearing strips. The “Where There’s A Wilbur” T-shirts and mugs are novel, though.)
Estelle notices he’s missing, and coaxes the ship’s crew to search for him. They find the security camera footage of his fall overseas, and go to search. But it’s a large ocean, and Wilbur has … already washed ashore on some island, somewhere. Strange development that keeps him from being dead.
Dubiously Sourced Mary Worth Sunday Panel Quotes!
“I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it.” — Groucho Marx, 24 October 2021.
“The past is never the past. It is always present.” — Bruce Springsteen, 31 October 2021.
“Where there is anger there is always pain underneath.” — Eckhart Tolle, 14 November 2021.
“More people should apologize, and more people should accept apologies when sincerely made.” — Greg Lemond, 21 November 2021.
“Before you quit, try again. Before you leave, get back in.” — Michael Bassey Johnson, 28 November 2021.
“We’re all a little weird and life is a little weird.” — Robert Fulgham, 5 December 2021.
“Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” — Samuel Beckett, 12 December 2021.
“Live a life of gratitude, giving thanks in all circumstances.” — Dr Mary C Neal, 19 December 2021.
“Music is very spiritual. It has the power to bring people together.” — Edgar Winter, 26 December 2021.
“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, ‘it will be happier’.” — Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1 January 2022. Special non-Sunday bonus quote!
“Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open.” — John Barrymore, 2 January 2022.
“Everything is a reaction.” — Robyn Hitchcock, 9 January 2022.
“The breaking of a wave cannot explain the whole sea.” — Vladimir Nabokov, 16 January 2022.
In his weekday continuity The Phantom faces the harrowing forecast that if he frees Savarna Devi — to whom he owes his wife’s life — from death row he will cause the destruction of everything his family stands for. In Tony DePaul and Jeff Weigel’s The Phantom Sunday continuity, things are a bit less dire. The Phantom’s making sure two Mori teenagers have a pleasant time in town. I hope to recap that side of The Phantom here, in a week.
Refusing to read any more essays that want you to have an opinion on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”.
Trying to insist the problem is they just don’t write good Christmas songs anymore and it’s not that you imprinted on the songs of your childhood and aren’t taking in new ones.
Minor-key acoustic cover of “Wonderful Christmastime” makes you exit for the kitchen, open the freezer door, stick your head in, and scream into a bag of frozen peas-and-corn.
Wishing you still had the emotional baseline that allowed you to be genuinely upset about “Santa Baby”.
Karaoke night has a group that starts out singing “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” but ends up making a fair fraction of the bar actually weepy.
Entire afternoon spent reading the lyrics to Tennessee Ernie Ford’s “Jingle-o The Brownie” and pondering dumb mysteries like why Jingle-o has such a broad and, honestly, unfocused portfolio
Attempt to fuse an argument about “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” to the question of whether pigs-in-blankets count as sandwiches somehow backfires and gets you stuck among people trying so hard to insist that Back To The Future II is somehow a “Christmas Movie” that you can’t tell exactly where the put-on is. You scream into a bag of frozen peas-and-corn-and-carrots, the extra carrots doing much to absorb the sonic blast.
Watch about 65 minutes of the movie Auntie Mame before working out that oh, the version with songs in it is just called Mame and it stars different people, it’s not just that they did some weird and very wrong edit that missed out on songs like “We Need A Little Christmas”.
Entire day lost to trying to convince people you heard a song titled “Captain Santa Claus And His Reindeer Space Patrol”. You are imagining things.
Hey, they snubbed “Father Christmas” again, didn’t they? Ray Davies is not going to be happy.
I know there’s exceptions to this next statement. But, generally, going to an amusement park is fun. I mean for the people going to the park for the purpose of fun. Just let me have this point, please. Where I’m going is that there are other things that are fun, too. Like, there’s going to karaoke night and singing the one song you’re kind of able to sing with mostly the right tones and pacing. That’s fun. So is making clicking noises back at a squirrel who seems to be trying to work out what your deal is. That’s fun. Again, if you want to do that.
But here’s where I’ve gotten. All these kinds of fun are very different activities. You can’t swap one out for the other without noticing that something is very different. One could not mistake chatting with a squirrel for talking about how you can’t imagine someone riding anything where you go upside-down. That is to say, fun is not fungible.
And so continues my lifelong discovery in adulthood of, oh, yeah, that’s why everybody treated my like that in middle school.
Also please enjoy this bit from a sequence of Bill Griffith’s Zippy the Pinhead. It’s from an August 2002 sequence where a strangely realistically-drawn woman turns up in the underground-styled comic strip. I discovered this from reading a strip compilation I borrowed from the library and felt as though Griffith were drawing a storyline just for me. (The woman turned out to be from — well, I won’t spoil the story unnecessarily.) And it’ll make a nice graphic for those times, like today, when the auto care place hasn’t updated its inspirational-despair sign.
14 May – 5 August 2018.
Mary Worth had just talked a despairing Wilbur Weston off the cliff face last time I checked in. He’d been going through a rough time. His column got dropped from the local newspaper. His former girlfriend had a shiny new boyfriend. His shower radio broke. His daughter’s off in Europe arranging a major professor-student relationship scandal. But she promised him things weren’t as dire as all that. And he figured he could go along with a gag.
It worked out well, too. The local newspaper reinstated his paper, citing reader demand. I swear I didn’t write in. I’m cutting back on my ironic reading of stuff. His daughter writes in to say how he’s happy and nobody from the college Human Resources department has asked any questions. And Mary treats Wilbur to a dinner with friends during karaoke night. And they push him to actually performing for once. It’s one of those moves that either turns out great or disastrous. Here it turns out great. He sings the theme from The Golden Girls. It’s one of those moves so corny that it falls over the edge to be sweet again.
And that’s followed by a week’s victory lap. Mostly Jeff telling Mary Worth how great it is that she can fix people up and not marry him. The new, and current, story started the 10th of June.
It’s about Iris’s son Tommy. He’s flirted successfully with coworker Brandy. They have a late-night dinner together that goes well. He’s figured he’s in love already, and he’s only more sure when they go to see Action-Adventure Movie. They do talk about the movie a little, about what you do when you lose choices and about trusting in strained circumstances. It all feels like foreshadowing. Also slightly foggy movie discussion, but I accept this as a convention of the medium. (Any actual movie, even if it were on point, would be out of the theaters before Moy and Bridgman could depict it in the strip. And there’s not the space to describe a made-up movie’s plot in detail.)
Going to the bar afterwards reveals the drama. Brandy doesn’t drink alcohol. Her father was an alcoholic and drug abuser. She doesn’t want that kind of trouble in her life. Tommy doesn’t drink either. He quit after getting addicted to alcohol and painkillers. He’s been clean for over a year now, and has a support group that he feels comfortable with. Brandy’s talk about how this damaged her ability to trust people, and how she can cope with it only by banishing drink and drugs from her life, shatters Tommy’s hopes.
He’s spent the time since then in a self-inquisitive spiral. He’s clean now, yes. But he did get hooked. And he worries about relapsing. He started using alcohol and painkillers after he was badly injured at work, yes. So, you know, he’s not one of those people who have drug problems because they’re bad. He just needed relief from never-ending severe pain. Still, he can foresee Brandy learning about his past and blocking him out. (And for all my snark, I agree both Brandy and Tommy have reasonable fears that they act on appropriately.)
But Tommy remembers what comic strip he’s in. He lays out the situation for Mary Worth. She offers the reasonable advice that she would have to learn of his past. But also that Tommy is not Brandy’s father. But this is serious stuff, so she kicks the problem up a level, to God. Tommy goes to confession, revealing that I guess he’s Roman Catholic too. And he gets some decent talk about growing through your sins.
So that’s the standings as of early August, 2018.
Dubiously Sourced Quotes of Mary Worth Sunday Panels!
“The greatest test of courage on the Earth is to bear defeat without losing heart.” — R G Ingersoll, 13 May 2018.
“There was never a night or a problem that could defeat sunrise or hope.” — Bernard Williams, 20 May 2018.
“Find a place where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.” — Joseph Campbell, 27 May 2018.
“My friends are my estate.” — Emily Dickinson, 3 June 2018.
“To acquire knowledge, one must study; but to acquire wisdom, one must observe.” — Marilyn vos Savant, 10 June 2018.
“Don’t fall in love; rise with it.” — Amit Abraham, 17 June 2018.
“Pray that your loneliness may spur you into finding something to live for, great enough to die for.” — Dag Hammarskjöld, 24 June 2018.
“The simple act of caring is heroic.” — Edward Albert, 1 July 2018.
“Gamble everything for love if you are a true human being.” — Rumi, 8 July 2018.
“We all have our secrets. We all have our vulnerabilities.” — Brett Dalton, 15 July 2018.
“Fear is the mother of morality.” — Friedrich Nietzsche, 22 July 2018.
“When in doubt, tell the truth.” — Mark Twain, 29 July 2018.
“Repentance means you change your mind so deeply that it changes you.” — Bruce Wilkinson, 5 August 2018.
So while I was thinking about how many people would forget what it means for a country to demand its young accept the horrors of war had Hi and Lois not reminded people of Memorial Day, I learned the hipster bar near us is having 90s Karaoke Night this week. So I’m thinking about dropping in for when they’re going to be playing nothing but “Breakfast At Tiffany’s”. If karaoke night is at all representative of the real 90s, they should be playing this from about 9:23 through 11:15 without stopping. I might sign up for it myself since I’m not really sure what the verse is like. I’m assuming it has one. But in that regard it captures the experience of having watched Breakfast At Tiffany’s, since I’m awfully sure I’ve done that and I kind of remember there was something about a something or other happening and then at the end she’s not marrying the rich guy in the rain. This also matches my recollection of what the 90s were like. Might check in.
The news is that he and King Features Syndicate have reached an agreement about the rights to the stories he’d produced for the comic since 1999. And they have an agreement to have him keep writing as long as both sides are happy with the way things are working. The breakthrough apparently grew over June, after he’d announced the intention to leave. King Features’ general manager for syndication, who hadn’t been directly involved in negotiations, asked for an informal meeting to see what could be done, and after — well, suppose it can’t have been more than a month of talks, yes, something could be done. And just in time, too; DePaul says Jeff Weigel, the Sunday artist, had just run out of story to draw. Mike Manley, the weekdays artist, had about six weeks of story yet.
I’m glad, certainly. The Phantom‘s been reliably interesting and who would want that messed up? Also the hint about how long the current Sunday storyline has to run confirms my resolve to change some of my “What’s Going On In” schedule. I’d been thinking to separate the weekday and the Sunday summaries for better pacing. Moving the next Sundays recap to closer to the end of the current storyline suits me. I was also thinking to move around some of the other strip recaps. I’d set the order without any plan, and I’d like to break up what seem like blocks of too-similar comics.
DePaul teases the idea that the current daily storyline will end in the death of the current Phantom, especially in saying how the story “would have been a superb sign-off to my Phantom career” and describes just how screwed up things would be if the 21st Phantom were to die just now. Me, I’m not making guesses. While the narrative would fully justify the current Phantom’s death this year, escaping certain death is just what superheroes are all about.
Another Blog, Meanwhile Index
The index rose an astounding fourteen points after looking up the lyrics and finding that the karaoke machine had it right. There is a bit in “I Just Called To Say I Love You” that goes “no Libra sun”, and hey, there’s this whole stanza that just goes through the months, one at a time, and counts Libra for September which is fair enough, although is there really anything distinctive about September’s sun? Granted that April is the cruelest month, what is September? The snarkiest month? When it’s up against November? No, that doesn’t make sense.
Anyway, while last week’s issue of the local alt-weekly didn’t have a New In Town article to let me know what bars are opening, it did have the list of what bands are performing nearby. So now I know that whoever’s been booking acts for The Loft got sloppy about covering up how they’re also working for Moriarty’s Pub. Or else we had three musical acts lived that sitcom premise of having to cover two gigs at the same time in places that aren’t even next to each other. I hope they figured out where they should be and when. Also I hope they foiled international spies or something along the way because part of me still thinks the world should work like 1970s Hanna-Barbera cartoons.
Also if it seems like we have a lot of Reno’s in town yeah, it kind of does. We also have a lot of Tin Can Bars, it seems like, but they don’t have shows I guess. Nothing like we have Biggby Coffee shops, mind you. But nobody has as many of those as we have, not even us.
Another Blog, Meanwhile Index
The index dropped another four points owing to investor confidence being shaken by this incredibly long line to get out of the parking lot. And yeah, the line got so long and so slow they just raised the barrier and waved people out without charging but, still, what was going on? That isn’t right.
The announcements on the event board that it was going to be open-mike night until someone went up on stage and said, “check, check one, check one” and then left, ninety minutes before the event started.
Someone who thought he was signing up for karaoke night. But who was game for this and did his best by pulling up The Bangles’ Walk Like An Egyptian on his phone and singing along to it until two-thirds of the way through when the phone crashed.
An excessively long anecdote that might be personal. But the central premise is that it’s a very funny thing to suppose that grandmothers might be on Facebook, and even moreso that it would be hilarious that they might get snarky at one another when talking about their grandkids over what seems like a minor misunderstanding to start with.
A singer who’s really working hard on getting this “I say”/“You say” call-and-response going, even though the audience somehow doesn’t seem able to quite get what they’re supposed to say back. It’s hard to pin down blame except that he seems to be rallying pride for the vaguely-defined neighborhood that ends about two blocks over from the bar and that the audience has only vague impressions of. “Isn’t that where they have all the hot tub showrooms?” asks someone leaning over from the nearly functional Getaway pinball machine. Did you even notice there was a second hot tub showroom? Be honest.
Oh, Lord, someone workshopping a bit for their comedy troupe and they’re interviewing a Folkmanis raccoon puppet about Donald Trump’s tax returns. Cute voice on the raccoon. Good puppet work.
Another fellow who figured to make this into karaoke night since that worked nearly right for the first person. So he pulls up the theme to Transformers on his phone and after the very long intro discovers he’s somehow got the Spanish-language version, which is a thing that it turns out exists? He laughs and retreats, head under his arms, into the corner until he comes back and just pantomimes like he’s Tom Jones to this whole thing.
Guy straddling the line between a rant and a comedy bit about how the promise of genetic engineering was how it was going to let us turn into werewolves and dinosaurs and cool stuff like that. But now it’s here and what is it about? Doing stuff to Progresso Lentils-with-Vegetable soup that’s so boring they can’t even bring themselves to specify what it is on the labels. He’s got something there.
They’re going to take a twenty-minute break now which turns out to be thirteen minutes long.
Quickly-delivered beat poem that’s doing very well at sounding like what you hope for out of an open-mike night. It’s way too dense to actually parse but there seems to be something going on with nation-duration-obliteration and fence-dense-Pence-offense that suggests they know what they’re doing. Probably the highlight of the night even if the audience is going to spend the whole next day trying to work out what fit between nation and duration and obliteration and whether there’s a fourth word that could fit the rhyme scheme. Abomination, sure, but right-wingers wrecked that word when they mashed it up with Obama’s name to denounce stuff like non-binary people being allowed to pee.
Guy who can’t be heard even though he’s standing so close to the microphone it may actually be inside his mouth. He apologizes for not “speaking up” and “louder” four times over the course of his two-minute set.
They take the other seven minutes of break now. It takes twelve minutes.
Fellow who wanted to read the classifieds from the free weekly in a funny voice. In a courageous act he didn’t vet the classifieds beforehand, and apparently didn’t realize how much they change week to week, so he’s trying to build something out of Dave’s offer for snow removal.
Someone telling a comic anecdote and who’s just assumed that of course we’re on her side in this encounter with a Kmart cashier whom she’s decided was asking stupid questions. The saving grace is supposing that the storyteller is making all this up after deciding that she should’ve been a worse person after leaving the store, but then, oh yeah, remember working retail?
Thanks everyone for coming out to another great open-mike night, it’s the great audiences we get here that make it possible for everyone to come out and …
Sorry, we missed this woman who signed up to tell about just how crazy her phone call to her Congressman turned out but you’ll give her a listen now, won’t you? Thank you. Thanks for coming out and supporting creativity in the neighborhood.
Another Blog, Meanwhile Index
The trading index rose six points over the course of the day with everybody being in really good spirits after finding out that paczki are back and someone brought a 24-pack box in from the Quality Dairy and now everybody’s kind of sleeping off a paczki coma.
It’s a common longing. You run across a WordPress blog that’s thanking its 10,000th subscriber and its millionth page hit. The blog’s been around almost three months. You look at your own, soldiering on for years now and sometimes getting a comment besides your father saying “it’s great, I wish I understood a word”. I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining. I’ll explain.
I know why some blogs, some performers, some experience providers catch on. It’s personality. We pretend “personality” is something everybody has, but we’re fibbing. What we mean by “personality” is “stuff somebody does that other people wouldn’t choose to do themselves in that position”. It’s easy to form one. Just pick something other people wouldn’t do themselves, and do that. Then keep at it.
For instance, I like my mathematics blog. It’s comfortable writing and sometimes I do something I’m proud of. But I know it’s got this pleasant air of something safely ignorable all over it. If I wanted to change that I could. I’d use squirt mustard to write every equation on bread, and post photographs of that. The end of each post would be me eating this. Suddenly I’d have a blog people found interesting, if only to see when I eat enough mustard bread to regret my life. It would be a quarter of the way into explaining the Fredholm Alternative. I’d leave my readers in suspense about whether the Fredholm Alternative is a real mathematics thing or if I’m writing a 1970s political technothriller about fascist clones with space computo-germs. It’s both. INCLUSIVE OR! IT’S AN INCLUSIVE OR!
I won’t do that. Mustard photographs lousy and it’d be too much work to fix. And that’s part of why having a personality sucks. It’s a lot of effort to keep up. Edwin Land said, “do not do anything that anyone else can do readily”. While he was talking about making consumer cameras he’s right about making personalities too.
Even achieving personality isn’t an unvarnished good. When we say of someone, “he’s got quite the personality” we’re using all our available politeness. We’re trying to not continue, “that he’s using to bring the conversation back to common yet mistaken beliefs about the manufacture of float glass, again”. It’s fascinating, sure, but watching people do stuff we would rather not always is. It doesn’t matter whether it’s dressing in a bright green outfit so eye-catching you can be seen through walls — “all part of my Chroma-Key cosplay, my dears”, you absolutely purr — or grabbing live porcupines and zerberting their bellies before they can file a stiff letter of protest. It’s thrilling to be part of such exotic goings-on, by which I mean being the part that watches without affecting it.
We like this sort of thing when we’ve got a safe distance from it and can flee without social penalty. It’s why personality does so well on stage and TV and online and in other places that have comforting, safe borders. When they venture outside those borders we’re dazzled and then disappointed, even if we’re smiling in the selfie they let us take. Too much personality’s a hard thing to take. If you have to deal with it all the time it gets to be kind of a prison.
But it’s a prison having a personality too. Once people know you’re going to react to something a particular way you have to keep doing it. A normal person can hear that chemists have discovered a new kind of industrial-grade blue dye and think anything they want about that. Someone with personality has to fit this news into what everyone expects. Suppose you’re the guy who knows a Yes song for every occasion, including karaoke night and the debut of new Tron movies. You know exactly what everyone you meet will talk to you about, forever. What if you somehow don’t have a Yes song relevant to industrial-grade color dye technologies? You’re doomed, or have to guess maybe They Might Be Giants have something on point. They don’t.
There’s some good news, anyway. If you show personality long enough it sustains itself, without your involvement. I know at least two people with such renowned interests in squirrels that they get every bit of squirrel-related toy, news item, or movie or TV show forwarded to them. Their friends do all the squirrel-appreciation for them. They don’t ever have to think about squirrels the rest of their lives.
So that’s why I’m not complaining about other blogs being way more popular, way faster, than mine. I didn’t even say I felt that. I just said it’s commonly felt. I don’t want to contract personality for that sort of thing. Should I have a personality at all? I don’t know; I’m doing well enough as it is. But then look back to Edwin Land’s advice, and consider the fate of Polaroid. It’s universally beloved and doesn’t really exist. How many of us will ever achieve that much?
To sum up: the concept of “personality” is a good idea, but it needs considerable work before it will be practical.
So, yes, I need to find a new weak comic strip to pick on. The humor blog readership continues to recede. Part of that I blame on my mathematics blog. I spent a lot of time the past two months focusing on its A To Z glossary project and that required a lot of writing. I didn’t tend things around here as much as I might have.
Here’s the sorry numbers. There were 1,043 page views here last month, down from March’s 1,107 and February’s Also 1,107. If you look at it as views per day, that’s still less than March. But it’s not so noticeably less than March. The number of unique visitors dropped more noticeably: 583 in April, down from March’s 632 and February’s 629.
I’m a bit more likable, though. There were 213 ‘likes’ clicked in April. That’s up from March’s 201 and February’s 178, but it’s still down relative to the height of the Apartment 3-Gocalypse. Comments were also up, to 50 from March’s 36. But that’s just to about February’s 52.
The most popular stuff the past month was, as usual, mostly little stuff I dashed off. In the top five were:
My favorite piece for the month — to write, and also what I think was my best — was When Do I Get To Sing _My Way_?, a brilliant expose of karaoke night culture and that was just my eleventh-most-popular thing of the month. Although that is out of 184 different things people looked at, so that’s not too bad. And I don’t know how many people read it as the item that was on the front page of my blog; all those readers get jumbled together.
I confess, I have enough childhood fantasies of being a humor columnist that I think of my long-form weekly things, usually 700 to 800 words and posted Thursday night/Friday morning, as the real meat here. But maybe there’s something connecting far better with the short little 200-to-300-word bits that make up the rest of the week. Maybe the medium works better the more spontaneous it feels. Or maybe I just do.
To the ever-popular listings of countries. The United States, 698. The Canada, 51. The Germany, 47. The United Kingdom, 32. That’s a fair number of page viewers. India had 22 for me. I had five from Guadaloupe; I don’t remember seeing any from there before.
Single-reader countries for April were Angola, Argentina, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, Guatemala, Hong Kong SAR China, Hungary, Jamaica, Lithuania, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Venezuela. Bulgaria and Turkey are the only countries there last month too, and nobody’s on a three-month streak.
There’s not a lot of interesting stuff in search terms that brought people here. But here’s some:
vic and sade (Good, glad to see that.)
paul rhymer writer (See above.)
betty boos boyfriend cartoon (Yeah, ‘boos’. She had some boyfriends but who caes about any of them?)
months of the year in alphabetical order in afrikaans (I … might use this for Statistics Saturday sometime.)
obsess and picturing after cheating (I don’t know.)
semalt expert (I even more don’t know.)
kangaroo’s folding wooden chess set with magnet closure (I love the idea but I don’t know so much harder with this than I didn’t know what was going on before.)
world end 2016 yes or no (I vote no; I’ve got some projects I’m still working on.)
The month starts out with 34,691 page views total so it still hasn’t overtaken my mathematics blog there. It has got 17,874 distinct viewers recorded and that does top my mathematics blog. WordPress claims there are 652 WordPress.com followers, up from 647 at the start of April, and I’ll try not to think what it means that it tells me seven people started following in April.
But there is the follow-me-on-WordPress button, in the upper-left corner of each page. If you wanted to do that and haven’t already, please, give it a try. It might work.
Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, sung by the first person who got to pick anything, and also everyone else there.
R.E.M.’s It’s The End Of The World As We Know It, performed by someone who starts two bars late and has to give up about twenty percent of the words each verse to return to the chorus anywhere near on time.
Let It Go, from Frozen, performed by someone who loves the song but doesn’t realize that it’s awesome because it’s an incredibly hard song to perform.
Bill Joel’s Piano Man, sung by everybody when the person who had signed up for it is nowhere to be found when it’s their turn.
Weird Al’s Yoda, performed by someone horrified there isn’t anything by the Kinks in the catalogue somehow and trying to reconstruct the real words as best as possible in the circumstances, which include nerds crying out to do it “right” with the Weird Al version.
P F Sloan and Steve Barri’s Secret Agent Man, done by someone who figures if he’s loud enough about the key phrase “Secret Agent Man” it won’t matter that he sings it in a different, yet still previously unknown to humanity, key every time. This someone, dear reader, is me.
Wings’s With A Little Luck, performed by someone who forgets it has an instrumental break about as long as fourth grade in the middle and stands with wide-eyed terror through three-quarters of it before awkwardly trying to dance, and then remembers the fade-out is even longer still.
Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street, performed by someone who has pretty solid voice control and seems out of place in the proceedings.
Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire, unenthusiastically performed by someone who tries to use the close to say he wanted to do the Wall of Voodoo version, although this explanation gets lost underneath the DJ calling the next singer up.
Some Kinda Romanticky Gushy Ballad I Guess, from the closing credits to the film Any Given 80s Movie, Which You Could See Any Time, Day Or Night, In The 90s By Turning On Any Cable Channel Including The TV Listings, sung by someone mumbling so you can’t make out the words anyway, but the glurgey music alone brings back great memories.
A-Ha’s Take On Me, until it gets to the first “I’ll be gone” and the performer’s voice locks up at the high pitch, and she runs off stage and can’t be coaxed back up however much everyone promises it’s okay. Post-karaoke-night discussion focuses on whether that was a deliberate joke, and never reaches a definitive conclusion.
Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, sung by someone who came in late and also everyone else there.
Somebody or other’s Unintelligible Hip-Hop Song, performed by a most white guy who is neither hip nor hop, who possessed no idea this would require having a strong sense of cadence and rhythm, and also didn’t realize there were three spots where the verse uses the n-word, something he had failed to establish the necessary policy for well ahead of time.
Don McLean’s American Pie sung by a guy who realizes twenty minutes in that he’s still not even halfway through, though everyone feels great joining in the chorus.
Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing, performed by someone who picked it just to complain about the reference to South Detroit, also everyone else there.
Nena’s 99 Luftballoons, sung by someone who just assumed the karaoke machine had the English-language version. Live and learn, huh?
Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit without any inflection or change in tone, possibly by me because there’s no way of controlling what note my voice has chosen to sing in this time.
U2’s With Or Without You performed by Ron Mael of Sparks after he found, to his disappointment but not surprise, there isn’t anything of his in the karaoke catalogue.
Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs’ Little Red Riding Hood done about two octaves low so it sounds 226 percent more pervy than normal.
Any Given Indie Band’s Song With A Lot Of Whoa-oa-oa-oaaahoos In It, sung by someone using his pretty good voice to do it as if by Fozzie Bear for some terrible reason.
The Champs’ Tequila, by someone who figured this would be funny and had no idea everyone was going to groan like that when it was announced and now he’s stuck with it.
Let It Go, from Frozen, as sung by someone who either just came in or didn’t learn the lessons from earlier.
The Who’s Pinball Wizard, sung by someone snarking about how there hasn’t been pinball since 1982 and can’t be convinced to look over in the alcove where there’s like eight tables and six of them are even turned on. Seriously.
Billy Joel’s We Didn’t Start The Fire, by someone who was sure she knew the lyrics, and then saw what the karaoke machine has, which was apparently transcribed by YouTube’s automated-worthless-closed-captioning. So the screen’s giving stuff like “Denny footfall rocky cockerel unsteamed chess team brook lamprey snotty beam” and now she has no idea what to do.
Duran Duran’s Hungry Like The Wolf, picked by someone who was thinking of Warren Zevon’s Werewolves of London because he wanted to do the wolf howl part, but recovers pretty well with the DO-do-do-DO-do-do-DO-do-do-DO-do-do-DO-do-doo part and doesn’t look too disappointed by the end of it all.
The Animals’ We Gotta Get Out Of This Place, sung by someone who once again just assumed he was the last person performing for the night and who is confident this will be funny when he finally is.
Queen’s We Are The Champions, picked by someone making way too big a deal over the Tigers beating the Rays 5-3 this early in the season.
George Michael’s Faith, by someone who didn’t realize how tricky the meter could be, but has a friend who jumps on on stage for the last third to guide her through safely.
The Theme To M*A*S*H, selected by someone who wanted to show off he knew the words to it, and wasn’t thinking how the karaoke machine was going to give him, and everybody else, the words to it anyway.
Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, which is just signing itself up to play at this point.