Statistics January: People don’t hate Mark Trail as much as they used to


I enjoy reviewing a month’s readership figures, normally at the month’s end. So this is a good chance to look over January’s postings. It was another month in which my readership declined, a steady process since October, when Jules Rivera’s Mark Trail debuted.

Still. There were 5,082 pages viewed here in January 2021. That’s a good bit above the twelve-month running mean of 4,686.8 views per month, and above the running median of 4,286.5. These came from 3,094 unique visitors, also above the running mean of 2,767.4 visitors and running median of 2,479.5. All I need to stay popular is for story comics to go on looking weird. So I’m rooting for the Macanudo cartoonist take over Spider-Man.

There were 143 things liked in January, beating the running mean of 100.4 and running median of 99.5 likes per month. And there were even 48 comments — I’m surprised by that number too — well above the mean of 32.7 and median of 36.5 comments per month. It’s my chattiest month since, well, November, although some of that is comments I didn’t reply to before Sunday night. That’ll go in to boosting February’s numbers, though.

Bar chart of thirty months' worth of readership figures. After a new high in October 2021 the monthly views and unique visitors have been dropping steadily but are still above the average.
I can only imagine how popular I’d be if I did plot recaps for the stories in Vintage Barney Google over on ComicsKingdom. … But I have a strong suspicion.

My most popular posts were all about why various comic strips (Mark Trail, Mallard Fillmore, Heart of the City) look different. They got new artists. Well, Mallard Fillmore, the old artist came back, I’m told; I’m not reading it. The most popular posts published in either December or January were:

And yeah, those all turn out to be January posts; nothing from December had much of a January life. My most popular Statistics Saturday post was Things From 1925 Now In The Public Domain. This shows again the value of posting something a little clickbait-y. The most popular of the long-form pieces, which have all been Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfiction lately, was MiSTed: The Tale of Fatty Raccoon, Chapter X.

I plan to keep on MiSTing The Tale of Fatty Raccoon, one chapter per week, so I’ve got something that I should be doing tonight. Statistics Saturday will keep on going you-know-when too. And for the story strip recaps, my plan is to take these strips in this order:

That’s all subject to revision. There may also be extra stuff to write about Gasoline Alley come the middle of February.

Mercator-style map of the world, with the United States in dark red and most of the New World, western Europe, South and Pacific Rim Asia, Australia, and New Zealand in a more uniform pink.
I’m experimenting with using the same alt-text for this map of countries that sent me readers every month. How is it working? … rather well. Sometimes I have to go and double-check there was any change month-to-month.

82 countries or things as good as countries sent me readers in January. Here they are, and how many:

Country Readers
United States 3,573
United Kingdom 188
Canada 187
India 180
Germany 93
Philippines 72
Australia 62
Italy 61
Indonesia 45
Portugal 40
South Africa 37
Spain 36
Sweden 36
Finland 33
Brazil 30
Denmark 30
Ireland 22
Netherlands 22
Mexico 21
United Arab Emirates 21
Sri Lanka 18
France 16
Thailand 16
Norway 15
Singapore 14
El Salvador 13
European Union 13
Malaysia 13
Japan 11
Latvia 11
Romania 11
Belgium 8
Argentina 7
Turkey 7
New Zealand 6
Austria 5
Mongolia 5
Peru 5
Russia 5
South Korea 5
Chile 4
Colombia 4
Greece 4
Israel 4
Nigeria 4
Switzerland 4
Trinidad & Tobago 4
China 3
Czech Republic 3
Serbia 3
Ukraine 3
Barbados 2
Bosnia & Herzegovina 2
Ecuador 2
Egypt 2
Hong Kong SAR China 2
Hungary 2
Iceland 2
Jamaica 2
Maldives 2
Pakistan 2
Panama 2
Poland 2
Puerto Rico 2
Qatar 2
Saudi Arabia 2
Taiwan 2
Venezuela 2
Vietnam 2
Bahrain 1 (***)
Bangladesh 1
Belize 1
Croatia 1
Kenya 1
Lebanon 1
Liberia 1
Macedonia 1
Oman 1
Palestinian Territories 1
Senegal 1
Slovenia 1 (*)
Tanzania 1

13 of them were single-view countries, way down from December’s 23. Slovenia was a single-view country two months in a row. Bahrain’s on four months in a row. Nobody else has a streak going.

Between the debut of that awful 1990s Land of the Lost TV show and the start of February 2021, I’ve posted 2,922 things here. They gathered in all 212,601 views from a logged 120,599 unique visitors. WordPress things I published 20,866 words over the month, for an average of 673.1 words per post. Watch this post mess that all up.

If you’d like to be a regular reader, I don’t know how this post convinced you. But you can add my essays feed here to your RSS reader. If you need an RSS reader, sign up for a free account at Dreamwidth or Livejournal. You can then add my, or any, RSS feed through https://www.dreamwidth.org/feeds/ or https://www.livejournal.com/syn. And if you’re on WordPress you should be able to click “Follow Another Blog, Meanwhile” and have it in the Reader you mean to look at more than you do.

Thanks for reading, or at least letting the page load so it looks to me like a page view. Take care, please.

Statistics 2020: How Last Year Treated My Humor Blog


I do like starting the month, and the year, with a look at the past month’s, and year’s, readership statistics. Someday I’ll learn something from all this, but until then, it’s a good way to fill a publication slot with something that’s oddly well-liked.

2020 was my eighth year of this blog; I’ll reach the actual anniversary later this month. It was also the best-read year I’ve ever had around here. There were 56,241 page views recorded from 33,209 unique visitors. Both are about one-third higher than 2019’s figures, of 42,746 views from 24,539 visitors. The number of likes resumed its drop, falling to 1,205 from the previous year’s 1,714. My likes around here peaked in 2015 and have dropped every year except 2018 since. Comments rose a bit, with 392 received in 2020, compared to 277 in 2019. My comments also peaked in 2015, with 879 of them, although 2018 almost overtook that earlier year with 830 comments.

Bar chart showing annual readership and unique visitor counts from 2013 through 2020. There's a considerable rise between 2019 and 2020 on both figures.
So I had a big readership spike in 2015 when Apartment 3-G went all to pieces. Then another one in 2020 when Mark Trail tried to somehow be more dramatic than the whole world. Clearly what I need is to somehow cause a bitter controversy to break out over, I don’t know, Gil Thorp and then sell my blog to Hollywood.

That’s what the readership looks like, in pictures and a handful of numbers. But what are people looking to read? Mostly, they want to read about Mark Trail. Also, to an extent, other comic strips. The ten most-read things I posted in 2020 were these; see if you spot any common themes:

It’s a bit sobering to realize that what people most want from me is that I read the Daily Cartoonist and mention stuff from it later on. If that’s what people want and actual comic strip news sites don’t block my IP, fine. I’ll do that.

The most popular long-form essay I posted in 2020 was What Your Favorite Polygon Says About You, which pleases me. That’s a nice silly piece just true enough to catch.

There was a tie for my most popular Statistics Saturday post. Statistics Saturday: Where Comic Strips Are Set, which offers real information, got as many views as Hypotheses about How the Premise to _Loonatics Unleashed_ Came About, which mocks a harmless cartoon for no good reason. I’d still like to know how such a weird thing came about, though.


There were 151 countries or country-like things, such as the United Kingdom, to send me readers at all in 2020. Here’s who they were:

Country Readers
United States 42,247
India 2,335
Canada 1,679
United Kingdom 1,510
Australia 895
Philippines 693
Brazil 525
Germany 498
Italy 445
Sweden 423
Finland 294
South Africa 283
France 275
Spain 267
Norway 205
Macedonia 164
Netherlands 157
Mexico 156
European Union 138
Colombia 120
Portugal 111
Ireland 105
Indonesia 104
Japan 104
Malaysia 104
Denmark 94
New Zealand 88
Belgium 81
Kenya 78
Russia 76
South Korea 76
Singapore 71
Thailand 71
Chile 70
Hong Kong SAR China 67
Poland 67
Switzerland 66
Peru 63
Trinidad & Tobago 63
Romania 62
Taiwan 60
Argentina 57
El Salvador 56
China 50
United Arab Emirates 47
Pakistan 44
Nigeria 43
Austria 42
Turkey 41
Serbia 37
Greece 36
Jamaica 33
Vietnam 33
Sri Lanka 32
Bosnia & Herzegovina 28
Hungary 28
Czech Republic 25
Israel 24
Saudi Arabia 22
Bulgaria 21
Croatia 21
Kuwait 21
Papua New Guinea 21
Egypt 20
Ukraine 19
Morocco 18
Bangladesh 17
Ecuador 17
Nepal 17
Slovakia 17
Slovenia 17
Puerto Rico 16
Zambia 15
Costa Rica 14
Venezuela 14
Cyprus 12
Guadeloupe 12
Lebanon 12
Iceland 11
Oman 11
Tanzania 11
Uruguay 11
Estonia 10
Guatemala 10
Honduras 10
American Samoa 9
Qatar 8
Dominican Republic 7
Myanmar (Burma) 7
Kazakhstan 6
Panama 6
Bahrain 5
Barbados 5
Belarus 5
Guyana 5
Mauritius 5
Moldova 5
Paraguay 5
Bermuda 4
Bolivia 4
Brunei 4
Cook Islands 4
Fiji 4
Jordan 4
Latvia 4
Montenegro 4
Belize 3
Ethiopia 3
Laos 3
Tunisia 3
Uzbekistan 3
Zimbabwe 3
Albania 2
Algeria 2
Azerbaijan 2
Bhutan 2
Botswana 2
Cambodia 2
Libya 2
Malta 2
Senegal 2
St. Lucia 2
Uganda 2
Åland Islands 1
Aruba 1
Bahamas 1
British Virgin Islands 1
Burkina Faso 1
Caribbean Netherlands 1
Cayman Islands 1
Congo – Kinshasa 1
Curaçao 1
Georgia 1
Ghana 1
Guam 1
Iraq 1
Isle of Man 1
Jersey 1
Kosovo 1
Liechtenstein 1
Lithuania 1
Madagascar 1
Maldives 1
Mali 1
Mauritania 1
Mongolia 1
Nicaragua 1
Rwanda 1
Somalia 1
Suriname 1
Turks & Caicos Islands 1
Mercator-style map of the world, with the United States in dark red and most of the New World, western Europe, South and Pacific Rim Asia, Australia, and New Zealand in a more uniform pink.
I actually just reused the alt text from my December-2020-recap post. How right was it?

Nobody from Greenland, but that’s all right. I had two page views from Greenland on my mathematics blog so I’ll be riding on that high for a while.


Over 2020, I published 204,435 words here, says WordPress. Spread over 366 essays that’s an average of 559 words per posting. Both of these are down a little from 2019’s totals,

What do I plan doing for 2021? Plot recaps for the story comics, obviously. I could probably shut down everything else on this blog and be as well-read. But I hope to keep publishing some long-form piece every Thursday night, Eastern Time. And some Statistics Saturday post, where I puff a quick joke up into a pie chart every week. And besides that? I don’t know; I guess I’m committed to finishing watching all these King Features Syndicate Popeye cartoons from the 60s. That’s something.

I’m glad to have you reading along. You can get all my posts by using this feed in your RSS reader. If you don’t have an RSS reader, you can get one (among other ways) by signing up for a free account with Dreamwidth or Livejournal. Then you can add any RSS feed to your reading page, through this link for Dreamwidth and through this link for Livejournal. Or you could click the “Follow Another Blog, Meanwhile” link on this page, and have it in your WordPress reader.

Thanks for being wherever it is you’ve ended up.

How December 2020 Treated My Humor Blog


December 2020 was the second month that I’ve been in low-power-mode here. That’s been marked by using old Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfiction for the weekly long-form pieces, and lots and lots of Popeye cartoon reviews for daily stuff. It was a bit more actually active than in November. I suppose in the next months I’ll have more non-review writing here, as I feel able to do. But, again, writing about Popeye cartoons is comfortable and easy and I understand I’ve needed more comfortable and easy.

Ah, but how did this affect my desire to be popular? And that’s what I try to do a review of monthly readership figures for.

All my readership statistics, as WordPress logs them, fell in December. There were 5,759 page views recorded, from 3,381 unique visitors. The twelve-month running mean, for December 2019 through November 2020, was 4,462.2 page views in a month. The twelve-month median was 4,228 page views. So I do feel good about coming in above average. The twelve-month running mean was 2,632.3 unique visitors per month. The median was 2,450.5 unique visitors. So again that’s comfortably above the average.

Bar chart of 30 months of readership figures. After a spike in October 2020 there've been two months of gradual decline in readership and unique visitors.
I like that I’ve somehow recreated the Philadephia skyline, though, so I accomplished that this month at least.

There were 128 things liked in December. That beats the twelve-month running averages — 98.4 likes as a mean; 99.5 likes as a median. It’s still well below, like, the average for 2019, or 2018. I don’t know if it’s me or if it’s WordPress.com that’s in such a decline. Or whether buying my own domain name would help, however much WordPress advertises the service. The most dire single number was comments: there were only 18 in December. The twelve-month mean was 32.9, and the median 36.5. I may be asking too much of people to ask them to have an opinion about a 1960s Popeye cartoon.


What did people want to read here in December? Anything about Mark Trail. I only do so much of that. Most of it was older comic strip posts, though. The five most popular essays posted here in November or December ended in a three-way tie, naturally enough. But here’s the roster:

I’m surprised The Phantom drew so many views but, all right. I am embarrassed that among the things I forgot to list as happening in 2020: that time in Animal Crossing when suddenly everything was eggs.

Still, what people always really want to read is the story strip recaps. The comic strips I plan to look at the next month include:


Mercator-style map of the world, with the United States in dark red and much of the New World, western Europe, South and Pacific Rim Asia, Australia, and New Zealand in a more uniform pink.
Bah! Two Baltic states away from having all of NATO this month. I guess I have the former SEATO, but who cares about SEATO? (Yes, yes, I apologize to Leszek Buszynski, but c’mon, his book about SEATO is even subtitledThe Failure of an Alliance Strategy”.)

There were 88 countries or country-like countries sending me any page views in December. 23 of them were single-view countries. Here’s the roster:

Country Readers
United States 4,603
India 164
Canada 117
United Kingdom 103
Philippines 92
Sweden 78
Australia 55
Brazil 46
Italy 37
Norway 31
Germany 30
South Africa 25
Portugal 24
Finland 23
Chile 21
Spain 20
France 18
Japan 16
Mexico 16
Netherlands 13
Romania 11
Malaysia 10
Greece 9
Indonesia 9
Poland 9
Denmark 8
European Union 8
Hong Kong SAR China 8
Ireland 8
Serbia 8
Cyprus 7
Czech Republic 7
South Korea 7
Iceland 6
Russia 6
Belgium 5
Puerto Rico 5
Trinidad & Tobago 5
Ukraine 5
Bangladesh 4
Saudi Arabia 4
Singapore 4
Bermuda 3
Hungary 3
Kuwait 3
New Zealand 3
Switzerland 3
American Samoa 2
Austria 2
Azerbaijan 2
Belarus 2
Bosnia & Herzegovina 2
Cambodia 2
China 2
Guyana 2
Kazakhstan 2
Kenya 2
Moldova 2
Morocco 2
Pakistan 2
Peru 2
Tanzania 2
Thailand 2
Turkey 2
Vietnam 2
Bahrain 1 (**)
Barbados 1
Botswana 1
Colombia 1 (*)
Costa Rica 1 (*)
Estonia 1
Guatemala 1
Isle of Man 1
Israel 1 (**)
Jamaica 1
Jersey 1
Jordan 1
Kosovo 1
Madagascar 1
Malta 1
Mauritius 1 (*)
Nigeria 1
Qatar 1 (*)
Rwanda 1
Slovenia 1
Sri Lanka 1
Taiwan 1
Uruguay 1

Colombia, Costa Rica, Mauritius, and Qatar were single-view countries in November. Bahrain and Israel were single-view countries for the third month in a row. Nobody’s on a four-month streak.

Between that time everyone got mad at U2 because they Apple gave everyone their album and the start of January 2021, I posted 2,891 things here. They gathered a total 207,519 views from 117,505 logged unique visitors.

In December 2020 I posted 19,802 words, for an average of 638.8 words per posting in the month. And that’s brought my annual words-per-posting, for 2020, up to 559. Popeye cartoons are easy to write about; they’re hard to write about succinctly.

So, what will I write for tomorrow, as I’ve used up past years’ chapters of The Tale of Fatty Coon? And past that? You can see by checking in here regularly. Or by adding the essays here to your RSS reader. If you don’t have an RSS reader, you can get one easily. One way is by signing up for a free account with Dreamwidth or Livejournal. Then you can add any RSS feed to your reading page, through this link for Dreamwidth and through this link for Livejournal. Or you could just click the “Follow Another Blog, Meanwhile” link on this page, and have it in your WordPress reader.

However you do it, though, thank you for reading. See you again soon, I hope.

What’s got my plans diverted now


Yeah so I woke up with the phrase “Vampire-Elect Dracula” running back and forth through my head. So I guess I’m stuck writing a supernatural romance/political thriller now? I’ll let you know how it turns out. It’s going to depend whether I can think of something witty to do with “electoral coffin”.

Statistics November: How Many People Wanted Me To Fix Mark Trail Last Month


November 2020 was an exceptional one for me, as it was for many people. The big one is I went into a low-power mode. This has been a very stressful year. I had great fears for the United States elections. I needed to shift to things I could do when more emotionally fragile. And that’s reprinting a Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfiction and reviewing a lot of Popeye cartoons. What did readers think of this?

They didn’t notice, because they wanted to know about Mark Trail. But that’s all right since, by good fortune, I had the plot recap for Mark Trail posted in the middle of the month. I’m sure I can’t stay in low-power mode forever. But for now? This is an easier way to manage my blog, and I’ll keep at that until I’m ready to go back to normal. Probably after the new year.

According to WordPress, there were 6,284 pages viewed in November. This is fewer than in October, but October was the greatest number of page views I’d had in a month. November was the second-greatest. I can’t be too fretful about that. The twelve-month running average leading up to November was 4,282.9 page views per month. So a lot of people are upset about Mark Trail and they’re coming to me to ask about it.

Bar chart of monthly readership, which mostly rose for about a year's worth of figures; November saw a drop from October but is still quite high.
I absolutely dare Google Ad Technologies Inc to come up with a way to make money on me talking about the Popeye cartoons of the 60s.

There were 3,868 unique visitors logged around here in November. Again that’s down from October, but October was my record high. 3,868 is still my second-highest unique visitor count on record. The twelve-month running average is a mere 2,517.7 unique visitors.

The things where people interact with the page in some way were up, also. WordPress recorded 136 likes given to posts in November, above the running average of 94.8. It’s the greatest number of likes I’ve gotten in a month since July of 2019. And there were 48 comments given, way above the 29.9 running average and my greatest number since … well, April, which also saw 48. But no month’s had more than 48 comments since January 2019, when 70 comments came in here. Again, people really want to argue about Mark Trail, or Alley Oop. I’m spoiling the fun by not being too obviously angry about or fannish of either strip.

What was popular around here in November? Everything with “Mark Trail” in the subject line. But to be more exact, the most popular things posted in October or November have been:

I’m delighted that my needless mocking of an unimportant cartoon captured people’s imagination. Also that my Statistics Saturday piece for my Dad was received so well. Dad, if you have other statistics ideas, please, let me know; apparently, they play well. The most popular long-form piece was the first chapter in the MiSTing of The Tale of Fatty Coon. Chapters of that should keep going through the month, at least.


I of course intend to keep publishing my What’s Going On In series. Coming up are some of the comics that were pretty big draws back in their day, before everybody got mad at Mark Trail and Alley Oop. If pressing news, or pressing life, doesn’t force a change I expect to publish:

I’m aware that The Amazing Spider-Man is still in repeats and is almost certainly not coming out again. My plan, right now, is to cover the strip until it starts repeating things I’ve already recapped. I’ll change that if I get bored making retread Spider-Gags.


87 countries sent me readers in November, up rom a couple months of 77 countries each. The roster this month was:

Country Readers
United States 4,941
India 207
Canada 187
United Kingdom 142
Philippines 107
Australia 72
Germany 41
Sweden 40
France 35
South Africa 33
Spain 31
Brazil 30
Finland 26
Mexico 26
Bosnia & Herzegovina 25
Italy 24
Malaysia 18
Japan 15
Ireland 14
Morocco 13
Peru 13
China 12
Jamaica 12
Netherlands 12
El Salvador 10
Russia 10
Belgium 9
Norway 9
Trinidad & Tobago 9
Indonesia 8
New Zealand 8
Saudi Arabia 8
Thailand 8
Switzerland 6
Denmark 5
Estonia 5
European Union 5
Kenya 5
Poland 5
Romania 5
United Arab Emirates 5
Chile 4
Croatia 4
Lebanon 4
Montenegro 4
Nigeria 4
Oman 4
Taiwan 4
Ukraine 4
Egypt 3
Portugal 3
Singapore 3
Argentina 2
Czech Republic 2
Greece 2
Hungary 2
Kuwait 2
Pakistan 2
Panama 2
Serbia 2
Slovakia 2
Slovenia 2
South Korea 2
Sri Lanka 2
Bahrain 1 (*)
Bangladesh 1 (*)
Bulgaria 1
Cayman Islands 1
Colombia 1
Costa Rica 1
Cyprus 1
Ecuador 1
Ethiopia 1
Guadeloupe 1
Hong Kong SAR China 1
Israel 1 (*)
Latvia 1
Macedonia 1
Mauritius 1
Myanmar (Burma) 1
Nepal 1
Qatar 1
Senegal 1
Turkey 1
Uzbekistan 1
Venezuela 1
Vietnam 1 (*)

Bahrain, Bangladesh, Israel, and Vietnam were single-view countries in October also. No countries have been single-view for more than two months in a row, just now.

Map of the world with the United States in deepest red, and most of the world except Africa and central Asia in a light pink. Greenland and Iceland are blank, though, like always.
Victoria II map challenge here.

Between the introduction of the second-generation iPod and the start of December I posted 2,860 pieces here. They gathered 201,752 views from 114,113 logged visitors. Oh, man, think if I’d gotten one more visitor. That would have been so nice.

For all that November was an easy month, it was not a terse one. WordPress records me as writing 25,140 words in November, for an average of 838.0 words per posting. Well, these routine, bulk-quantity Popeye cartoons give me a lot to talk about, all right? It means that for 2020 I’m averaging 551 words per post, a jump of nearly thirty words per post since October. I need to say less stuff about these cartoons, I guess.

Will I? You can find out by adding my essays to your RSS reader. Don’t have an RSS reader? Sign up for a free account with Dreamwidth or Livejournal. You can add any RSS feed to your reading page there, using this link for Dreamwidth or this link for Livejournal. If you’re on WordPress, too, you can click “Follow Another Blog, Meanwhile” on this or any post’s page.

Thanks for the reading.

60s Popeye: Barbecue for Two, which has to be good since Popeye’s in his old outfit


So this is a weird one. It’s back to the Jack Kinney studios, with a cartoon produced and directed by Kinney himself. The story’s credited to Dick Kinney and Al Bertino. And it’s dated 1960, in a title card that sure looks like the copyright was superimposed later. The credits warn that it’s going to be a cartoon to pay attention to. The production credits are given this striking rhombus background, for one thing. And the music is abnormally long for the King Features run. We’ll get into more of these peculiar things in Barbecue for Two.

So if you’re not alert to the subtleties of animation production, like, if you’re a kid watching these cartoons, you maybe realize something’s strange about this. We settle in to Popeye’s suburban home, although it’s not his usual Boring Suburban Home from Kinney productions. But the real giveaway is our first look at Popeye. He’s not in the white, Navy-derived sailor suit. He’s back in black/navy-blue, like in the comics and the 1930s cartoons. Also he looks … somehow more squished and angular at once.

The Popeye Wikia says this was “the pilot” for the King Features Popeye cartoons. The Internet Movie Database says it was the first short made for TV, but that Hits and Missiles became the pilot. Who’s right? Clearly, impossible to know. But this sure reads as the pilot, particularly for having different models for all the characters. And for how studiously they avoid naming Brutus. The closest we get is an admiring Olive Oyl saying of Popeye’s neighbor, “What a handsome brute [ something ]!”

Popeye holding in his arms Swee'Pea, Wimpy, and Brutus. Popeye's wearing his old blue sailor suit. The sky behind is the same pea-soup-green as the lawn.
I suppose Popeye knows what he’s doing, but, Swee’Pea on the left and Wimpy AND Brutus on the right? That’s a heck of an unbalanced load. I’d put Wimpy and Swee’Pea on one side and Brutus on the other. Save your hips the agony.

The premise is that Popeye wants to have Olive Oyl over for a barbecue for, well, it’s there in the title. Brutus intrudes, becoming obsessed with getting in on the action. This would be obnoxious except Popeye starts the aggressions here, swiping petunias from right under Brutus’s nose. Wimpy joins the action because he can smell the hamburgers. Swee’Pea jumps in because he’s very young and should have some adult at least within screaming range. Brutus starts hitting on Olive Oyl by singing the rock-and-roll she loves. His lyric, “Don’t drop no mustard on my clean white shirt, baby”, is just wonderful, and his swaying, like he’s me trying to dance, is an extra nice goofy bit.

Olive Oyl rejecting Popeye’s square music evokes Coffee House, the Beatnik cartoon, certainly. The other Jack Kinney cartoon this makes me think of, though, is Popeye’s Car Wash, for its plot structure. Particularly for the way Popeye has to run between several stations — hamburgers to Wimpy, the swing for Swee’Pea — before getting back to fighting Brutus, or trying to.

I like this short, but have to admit it’s a complicated liking. The models for the characters are weird. Our first view of him is the skinniest Wimpy apart from the weight-loss cartoon I’m sure they did. There’s some snappy lines in it, such as Olive Oyl declaring, “If there’s nothing I like the least, no-gentlemen is the most”, or observing, “What’s that? A plane? A train? A rocket? It’s Wimpy!” Or there’s weird lines. Thinking here of Brutus taking off Olive Oyl’s shoe and dropping lumps of sugar in. Less good, and more baffling, is Brutus’s rage at being called Junior. I cannot see how this is a “sissy” name and I wonder if some other name got changed to Junior in the recording. His declaration “My name is … ” before Popeye punches him across the continent (and knocks the world off-axis) is a funny bit for everyone who noticed the avoidance of Brutus’s name.

Olive Oyl and Brutus singing together, caught at a moment when Olive Oyl's mouth is wide open and looking a bit Pac-Man-ish, really. The sky behind them is this solid green mass.
I know this isn’t a very good look, but that muddy green is just what the sky looked like before the Clean Air Act.

Much of the music sounds, to my ear, like leftover Famous Studios sound cues. This makes sense for a pilot. There are a few bits where Popeye huffs his pipe. It’s a faint thing, softer than the huffing he does in other shorts.

It’s always easy to like the first, or first couple, episodes of a series. They tend to be weirder, and that stands out. I suppose if the whole cartoon series were like this then this one wouldn’t stand out. As a one-off, showing a way that Popeye might have been animated and wasn’t? It’s compelling.

Popeye’s still being a jerk about those petunias, though.

What’s Going On In Mark Trail? Do you hate the new Mark Trail? August – November 2020


My answer is long. Let me defer it until after the plot recap. This plot recap should get you up to speed for mid-November, 2020, and the start of Jules Rivera’s tenure on Mark Trail. If you’re reading this after about February 2021, or if there’s more Mark Trail news, you might find an essay at this link more useful.

Also! Remember that Comics Kingdom survey? It hasn’t come to anything yet. But D D Degg, at Daily Cartoonist, reports how Comics Kingdom is doing a Flash Gordon Anthology strip. Flash Forward started this past Sunday. It’s in honor of the 40th anniversary of the movie, and they seem to have forty artists lined up to do stuff. I don’t know whether it’ll have an ongoing story. If there is one, I’ll try and do plot recaps.

Last, my A-to-Z of mathematics terms resumes this week on my other blog. Would you like to see me say something about velocity? The answer may surprise you.

Mark Trail.

23 August – 14 November 2020.

When I last checked with Mark Trail, it was a Jack Elrod-era rerun. I did not know when it was from. I’ve since learned. The story ran from the 13th of March through to the 29th of May, 2001.

And, now, a content warning. The story features a pet — Andy the dog — being harmed. He comes through it fine. But you folks who don’t need a pet-harm story in your recreational reading right now? You are right. I’ll put all this text behind a cut and we can catch up with the first Jules Rivera story.

[ Edit: I turn out to have overestimated my ability to just put a couple paragraphs behind a cut.  Well, I tried.  Zip ahead to the horizontal rule and resume reading from there if you want to skip the pet-harm stuff. ]

Continue reading “What’s Going On In Mark Trail? Do you hate the new Mark Trail? August – November 2020”

Statistics October: When Am I Going to Do Something About Mark Trail, And What Will That Be?


I have not a thing to do with Jules Rivera’s Mark Trail. Even in the world of comic strip snark bloggers I’m a third-tier player. The nearest connection I have is that a former friend went on to become a syndicated cartoonist.

But I do read it, and I occasionally recap its plot. I do this for a dozen story strips. This is my plan for what comic strips I’ll be recapping the next month, and when I plan to post those recaps:

So my first comments about the story and my reaction to it, I figure to have in two weeks. Hope you feel it’s worth the wait. Me? I’m just reveling in that I figured out how to post from the Classic, or “Good”, WordPress editor again and don’t have to fight the new Block, or “Bad”, one to do stuff like embed images or videos.


So, like, every month I hope to look at my readership figures and see what was popular and what wasn’t. This month? It was extremely popular for me, according to WordPress’s count of page views, and other stuff. WordPress tells me there were 7,149 page views here in October. This is the largest I’ve ever had in a single month, going past even the Apocalypse 3-G peak in November 2015. It’s way above the 4,050.8 twelve-month running average of page views. The number of unique visitors was way up too. WordPress recorded 4,135 unique visitors in October, also a record, and way above the twelve-month running average of 2,374.8. Heck, 4,135 views, never mind visitors, would be among my most-read months.

Bar chart of monthly readership figures. After several months of slight rises around 4,000 views per month, it leaps to just over seven thousand views and four thousand visitors for October.
I feel like daring them to tell me how I could get people to pay me for reading Gil Thorp.

I know why all these visitors. You do too. But let’s let that wait a moment and look at other statistics. There were 115 things liked here in October, tolerably above the twelve-month running average of 95.3. And there were a positively robust 43 comments, beating the average 27.5. I do like seeing all this. My next goal will be getting two commenters having a conversation with each other, instead of chatting with me. Well, that’ll probably never happen. I’ve been doing this daily for eight years; if I knew how to say stuff that attracted people who want to talk to each other, I’d have done it by now.


So what does draw people in? The mode of them were looking for Mark Trail news. The five most-read pieces in October were posts with names like Why does Mark Trail look funny? and Why Does Mark Trail look different? As I noticed these getting popular I put up tags to tell people about the new artist-and-writer, and to point them to my plot-recaps pages. They’ll never come back. The only pieces to compare were, well, that months-in-reverse-alphabetical-order post, and one asking about what’s going on with Mallard Fillmore. Daily Cartoonist says that Bruce Tinsley is returned to the comic strip he originated. That’s all right. I return from not reading Mallard Fillmore to not reading Mallard Fillmore.

The five most popular pieces around here that were posted in September or October of this year were largely comic strip based. One original thing did make the cut:

My most popular long-form essay was Some Astounding Things About The Moon, which it’s nice to see get some recognition. Especially since I both like the piece and had the main bulk of it spill out in about twenty minutes’ thinking, which is a pretty good ratio. Some pieces I spend all week trying to get into shape and they’re still formless blobs. My most popular Statistics Saturday piece was, of course, How Many People Wanted To Know What Was Up With Mark Trail This Past Week. I’m not above being a little clickbait-y, as long as I can whitewash it with irony. Yes, I’m Gen-X.

77 countries sent me any readers at all in October. That’s the same count as in September. There were 15 single-view countries, up from 10 the month before. Here’s the roster:

Country Readers
United States 5,677
India 262
Philippines 144
Canada 142
United Kingdom 113
Australia 102
Colombia 51
Germany 49
South Africa 43
Sweden 42
France 35
Spain 33
Brazil 29
Norway 28
Finland 24
Italy 24
Sri Lanka 22
Netherlands 21
Chile 20
Japan 18
Kenya 18
Malaysia 15
European Union 14
Greece 14
Belgium 12
Thailand 10
Austria 9
Mexico 9
New Zealand 9
Singapore 8
Hong Kong SAR China 7
Switzerland 7
Trinidad & Tobago 7
Turkey 7
China 6
Croatia 6
Denmark 6
Indonesia 6
Poland 6
Tanzania 6
Costa Rica 5
Nigeria 5
Peru 5
Romania 5
Russia 5
Serbia 5
Argentina 4
Cook Islands 4
Pakistan 4
Egypt 3
Saudi Arabia 3
Slovenia 3
South Korea 3
United Arab Emirates 3
Algeria 2
Bulgaria 2
Czech Republic 2
El Salvador 2
Ireland 2
Kuwait 2
Portugal 2
Taiwan 2
Åland Islands 1
Bahrain 1
Bangladesh 1
Congo – Kinshasa 1
Curaçao 1
Georgia 1
Guatemala 1
Israel 1
Libya 1
Morocco 1
Myanmar (Burma) 1
Puerto Rico 1
Turks & Caicos Islands 1
Vietnam 1
Zimbabwe 1
Mercator-style map of the world, with the United States in dark red and most of the New World, western Europe, South and Pacific Rim Asia, Australia, and New Zealand in a more uniform pink.
Some month I’m going to just repeat the previous month’s map and see if anyone notices. I bet that’s the month I get a reader from Greenland, too.

There’s no countries that were single-view two months in a row. I’m not sure that’s ever happened before that I noticed. I’m happy seeing it, though. If I am going to be barely noticed, at least it can be a broad bare-noticing.


From the dawn of time to the start of November I had posted 2,830 pieces. These gathered 195,475 total views, from 110,257 logged unique visitors.

WordPress credits me with 14,152 words posted in October, my most laconic month this year. I averaged 416.2 words per posting in October. And that’s with stuff like the Popeye cartoon reviews and the story strip plot recaps bulking out my average. Recapping a Sunday-only strip like Prince Valiant helps. But, this means for the year to date I’ve posted 159,495 words, and have an average for the year of 523 words per post, dropping from 536. We’ll just see what I do about that.

If you’d like to see what I do, add my RSS feed to whatever you use to read essays. If you don’t have an RSS reader? Sign up for a free account at Dreamwidth or Livejournal. You can add any RSS feed — which most every WordPress blog has, and many comic strips and other regularly updated stuff does too — from https://www.dreamwidth.org/feeds/ or https://www.livejournal.com/syn as you like. Or, if you have a WordPress account, click the “Follow Another Blog, Meanwhile” button on this page somewhere.

Thank you all for reading.

Statistics September: How September 2020 Looked At Me, And What For


As I’ve said before I like starting the month with a look at what got read around here, and how much. I’m sure this is going to be fun. WordPress kicked me off the Classic, or “good”, post editor and the New, or “bad” one is really bad. Like, it was annoyingly many steps to embed pictures in yesterday’s Popeye cartoon post. And every attempt working through the Bad editor to embed the video starting at the right time marker failed. I had to post it and then edit it using the back path to get the Good editor back. It takes some doing to screw up stuff like that. Don’t worry. You’ll hear a lot more from me on this topic.

All the statistics I track around here were up this past month, which is to say, good. WordPress reports 4,479 page views in September, which is the third-highest month I have on record. (April 2020 and November 2015 were higher yet.) That’s a good bit above the twelve-month running average of 4,018.7 views per month.

These views came from a recorded 2,623 unique visitors. That, too, is up from the running average 2,347.3. I think that’s also the third-highest unique visitor count, but WordPress doesn’t make that number easy to track. There were 130 things liked, which is above the average 94.4 and the largest number since July of 2019. And there were a positively chatty 41 comments, well above the 25.7 average. That was the greatest volume of comments since April 2020, owing to people turning caps lock on.

Bar chart of monthly readership. The last several months have seen around four thousand page views and two thousand to 2500 unique visitors each month.
You don’t suppose it’s possible I got like a thousand page views between 7:59 pm and 8:00 pm when the new month started, do you?

What articles were popular here? The most popular things published in September were:

I was, in the interest of fairness, looking for top things posted in August too, but it turns out nothing from August was as popular as the Jules Rivera news. That’ll happen.

Mercator-style map of the world with the United States in darkest pink, most of the Americas, Europe, Russia, and the Pacific Rim in light pink, and scattered African countries, plus India, also in pink.
I feel like I’m far less popular this month in Africa, but it turns out the difference is two page views from Zambia and one from Ethiopia. Well also that Ukraine wasn’t interested in me this month either.

77 countries sent me any readers last month. That’s down from August’s 78 and July’s 82, and not at all significantly so. There were ten single-view countries, noticeably down from August’s 18 or July’s 28. I suppose next month there’ll be minus two.

CountryReaders
United States3,108
India223
Canada149
Brazil135
United Kingdom114
Australia103
Philippines99
Sweden38
South Africa34
Germany32
Norway31
Italy27
Finland26
Spain25
Japan23
Netherlands23
France15
Denmark14
Nepal14
Trinidad & Tobago14
Mexico12
Indonesia11
Belgium9
Portugal9
Argentina8
Singapore8
Turkey8
Colombia7
European Union7
New Zealand7
United Arab Emirates7
Hong Kong SAR China6
Ireland6
Switzerland6
Thailand6
Chile5
Honduras5
Malaysia5
Peru5
Slovenia5
Venezuela5
Fiji4
Greece4
Hungary4
Qatar4
Taiwan4
Austria3
China3
Czech Republic3
Ecuador3
Guyana3
Israel3
Kazakhstan3
Kuwait3
Myanmar (Burma)3
Pakistan3
Poland3
South Korea3
Vietnam3
Bulgaria2
Egypt2
Guadeloupe2
Kenya2
Nigeria2
Puerto Rico2
Romania2
Russia2
Belize1
Bolivia1
Costa Rica1
Croatia1
El Salvador1
Iceland1
Jamaica1
Maldives1
Mauritius1
Paraguay1 (*)

Paraguay is the only country that was a single-view country in August. And no countries are on a three-month or longer streak. So that’s fun.


My plan for the next several weeks of story comics is to do these, on these days:

All this is subject to revision in case of news or anything getting in my way. I am thinking of what I might shuffle around to make sure the week of Election Day is as low-stress for me as possible, around here at least, for example. I’ll have some What’s Going On In The Story Comics post, or news, at this link. And hopefully a plot recap every Tuesday, Eastern time.

Also in my plans: a long-form essay Thursday evenings, Eastern Time. Also Statistics Saturday posts, Saturday evening, Eastern Time. And I’m hardly out of 1960s Popeye cartoons to talk about Sunday evenings.


Through the start of October I’d posted 2,799 things here. Those collected 188,327 views from 106,121 unique visitors. WordPress thinks I posted 16,141 words this past month, an average of 538.0 words per posting for all thirty posts. My average post, year to date, has been 548 words, so my goal of writing shorter was going great until I started this post.

If you’d like to be a regular reader here, please click the “Follow Another Blog, Meanwhile” button on this page. Or if you’d rather read without being tracked, add the RSS feed for this page to your reader. If you don’t think you have a reader, get a free Dreamwidth or Livejournal account. You can add RSS feeds to your friends page from https://www.dreamwidth.org/feeds/ or https://www.livejournal.com/syn as you like. And my @nebusj Twitter account announces posts. Don’t try to contact me through it, though. Safari often refuses to let me see Twitter. I don’t know why, and I don’t know what the pattern is. Am I going to make the surely slight effort it would be to clear up the problem? No, not this year. Why would I want to see more Twitter than I already do? In 2020? Thank you for your understanding.

Everything There Is To Say About Writing A Résumé


The important thing in writing a résumé is that it has to fit to the job you want, which is “the astronaut who draws Popeye”. To get the right fit you have to decide how many of the little accent marks that go up and to the right you put over the word. Whatever they’re called. Ageds or agues or whatever. Including none tells employers you want low-level and uninteresting jobs. Having ague marks suggests you are interesting enough to know how to get at those characters. It is by holding down the key.

The more agues you put over the e’s the higher-level the job you get, though. If you include more than three agues you have a shot at the really good jobs. Those are the ones where you don’t have specific hours or definable duties. In the best of them, yeah, you’re paid money. But somehow some of your money ends up earning money on its own. Nobody can explain how, or why. But if you want that kind of job try tossing agues over maybe the m, and the r. Maybe even several ague marks over the same letter, particularly s. Don’t ever put it above the u. That one makes you look clingy and desperate and causes people to suspect you eat oyster crackers at inappropriate times.

One of the best ways to avoid actually writing the résumé is laboriously deciding whether to format it chronologically skills-based. The chronology résumé should look something like this:

  • Permian Period. Shrinking of Paleo-Tethys sea. 96% extinction of marine species.
  • Ordovacian. Carbonate hardgrounds become very common, but biogeneic aragonite dissolves rapidly on the sea floor.
  • Late Bronze Age. Facilitated coming of the Sea Peoples in compliance with TQM practices.
  • 2018-present. Confirmed cleared mortgages for PNC Bank North Jersey facility.

In contrast the skills-based résumé is targeted instead at readers who want to know that you can write a skills-based résumé. The skills-based résumé is useful for covering up embarrassing gaps in employment. It should look something like:

  • Excel. More than 32 months experience screaming about why you are doing that to me. Certificate, Microsoft online training.
  • Banana bread. Extremely experienced in eating. Have made only twice, once by accident.
  • Equipment management. One time in high school this friend got, like, 30 surplus office phones and we recorded tossing every one of them off the roof of the abandoned Quick Chek on Route 516.
  • Light house-contracting. Pried open a painted-shut window. Successfully hired person to replace the glass that broke when the crowbar somehow flew upwards.

Thinking about this organization and considering imaginary types of résumés lets you put off actually working on them for weeks without feeling guilty. Then the accumulated guilty comes all at once.

The most important section is fibbing about your credentials, particularly if you’re going for a job even faintly supported by public funds. Every couple of years these puffed-up résumés turn into a scandal that’s a lot funnier to the people not fired as a result of it.

For example, in 2017 over eighteen administrators at New Jersey’s Livingston County College had to resign after the state comptroller revealed that New Jersey has no “Livingston County”. The college’s students were given two semesters to wrap up their studies or transfer to other colleges. When the bulk switched to the nearby imaginary Hamilton County College the Department of Higher Education threw up its metaphorical arms and sent them to Connecticut, where they enrolled in Trumbull County College and weren’t New Jersey’s problem anymore.

But résumé-based scandals make the community feel better. Everybody gets to point and snicker at whoever got caught, but nobody has have to feel bad like when it’s an important and hard problem. So give to the community and list something like how you were the very first New Jersey state comptroller. This way years later someone can discover New Jersey has never had a state comptroller, and the whole word “comptroller” looks pretty fishy too.

You can probably give writing that résumé another week or two before you do it. Let the built-up guilt come at you all at once.

Statistics August: People Wanted To Know About The Guy Who Drew Pluggers Last Month


With the month started out I’d like to look at last month. I’d especially like to see that lots of people read and appreciated my writing the past month. But I’ll settle for a day where the post is easy to write.

According to WordPress there were 4,281 pages viewed here in August. That’s the fifth-highest month on record, which is nice. Most of those records have been in the past year; only November 2015, with 4,528 views, is an old high. And that is above the twelve-month running average of 3,969.6 views per month.

There were 2,454 unique visitors, which I think is the fourth-highest I have on record. It’s above the twelve-month running average of 2,311.2 unique visitors, though.

Bar chart of monthly readership. The last several months have seen around four thousand page views and two thousand to 2500 unique visitors each month.
Still not buying this claim about turning a blog into a source of income. I don’t know what they’re selling but I know it’s not legit.

There were 104 things liked in August, above the running average of 96.3 and the biggest month for likes since January. There were also 38 comments, again beating the running average of 23.3. That’s almost as many as in May, so while this is nowhere near the heights of January 2018, it’s at least getting chattier.


What posts were popular last month? A lot of people wanting to know about comic strip artists changing. Also that months-of-the-year-in-reverse-alphabetical-order thing. But the most popular posts from August last month? These:


78 countries sent me any readers at all in August, down from July’s 82 no significant amount. There’d been 77 of them in May and June. 18 of these were single-reader countries, down from July’s 28 but in line with May and June’s 20.

Mercator-style map of the world with the United States in darkest pink, most of the Americas, Europe, Russia, and the Pacific Rim in light pink, and scattered African countries, plus India, also in pink.
Would I get a Greenland reader if I mention I finally saw that episode of Conan O’Brien where he went to Greenland and met all 24 inhabitants? … No, it would not.

Country Readers
United States 3,080
United Kingdom 218
India 198
Canada 142
Australia 69
France 51
Brazil 39
Philippines 38
Spain 27
Finland 23
South Africa 23
Germany 21
Hong Kong SAR China 21
Italy 20
Norway 19
Sweden 18
Trinidad & Tobago 18
Indonesia 16
Malaysia 16
European Union 13
Vietnam 11
Belgium 10
Ireland 10
Poland 10
Mexico 9
Netherlands 9
Slovakia 9
Guadeloupe 8
Taiwan 8
Thailand 8
New Zealand 6
Russia 6
Singapore 6
Switzerland 6
Chile 5
Peru 5
Serbia 5
Egypt 4
Japan 4
Kenya 4
Nigeria 4
Romania 4
South Korea 4
El Salvador 3
United Arab Emirates 3
Argentina 2
Brunei 2
China 2
Colombia 2
Czech Republic 2
Denmark 2
Ecuador 2
Honduras 2
Hungary 2
Lebanon 2
Tunisia 2
Turkey 2
Uganda 2
Ukraine 2
Uzbekistan 2
Zambia 2
American Samoa 1 (*)
Austria 1
Bhutan 1
Caribbean Netherlands 1
Dominican Republic 1
Ethiopia 1
Greece 1
Guatemala 1
Iraq 1
Jordan 1 (*)
Liechtenstein 1
Lithuania 1
Paraguay 1
Portugal 1
Puerto Rico 1 (*)
Slovenia 1
St. Lucia 1
Uruguay 1

American Samoa, Jordan, and Puerto Rico were single-view countries last month too. Lebanon bowed out of single-reader status after six months.


Which story comics do I plan to cover the next several weeks? Subject to breaking news, of course?

Whatever I do cover, and any news about any of the story comics, I’ll have in a post at this link.

And my overall plan remains to have a long-form essay Thursday Evening, Eastern Time. Some kind of Statistics Saturday post Saturday evenings, my dad’s favorite feature. Sundays, Popeye cartoons from the 60s. And then What’s Going On In the story comics on Tuesdays. The rest of the week I stare at my scraps file, trying to figure out whether “palindromedome” could ever be a thing. It’s not looking promising.


From the dawn of time to the dawn of September I’ve posed 2,769 things here. They drew a total 183,846 views from 103,497 unique visitors. WordPress figures I posted 15,621 words in August, an average of 503.9 words per posting. My average post, year to date, had 536 words.

If all this has convinced you to read my blog regularly, please click the “Follow Another Blog, Meanwhile” button on this page. Or if you’d rather read without being tracked, add the RSS feed for this page to your reader. If you don’t think you have a reader, get a free Dreamwidth or Livejournal account. You can add any RSS feed to your friends page from https://www.dreamwidth.org/feeds/ or https://www.livejournal.com/syn as you like. And I do have my semi-accessible @nebusj Twitter account set to announce posts, although I don’t get to read it most of the time. Contact me here if you need me to read what you say. I’m sorry it’s like that but I just don’t want to deal with fixing Twitter’s issues. You understand.

60s Popeye: Spare Dat Tree and where it lost me


We’re back with Jack Kinney studios this week. The story is again by Ed Nofziger. That usually signals some genial weirdness. The animation director is Ken Hultgren. Don’t have a large enough sample to say what to expect there. I was on edge when I saw the spelling of “dat”, but I suppose they were trying to approximate how Popeye would say “that”. The title’s referencing a poem and song — “Woodman, Spare that Tree!” — published by George Pope Morris in 1837. I only know it from the occasional cartoon that references it, and a song adaptation that Phil Harris did.

With that all introduced, here’s Spare Dat Tree.

I believe I’ve adequately documented how I was a weird kid. I was in fact as many as three weird kids stacked on top of each other. I do remember something weird about this cartoon bothering me as a kid. It bothers me today.

The cartoon starts at Popeye’s Boring Suburb House. We’re saved from that by it being a Swee’Pea “tell me a story” frame. In this, a nature story, Popeye’s the forest ranger and protects two monarch trees, each five thousand years old. Brutus — a Brutus, the cartoon notes, as if it were an occupation — comes to chop down the trees. Eventually Popeye gets to eating some spinach … some wood spinach, that I guess is its wild counterpart(?) … and punches him to the state capitol, in Poland.

The trees are presented with faces, and voices, done by Jack Mercer and Mae Questel. It would be a cute riff on Popeye and Olive Oyl’s voices if I thought it was a choice. The cartoons only had three voice actors. And there is this strange dreamy circularity to their dialogue. Especially the Queen Tree’s asking the King if it hurts and the King answering variations of “only when I laugh”. Little exchanges, though, like the Queen Tree fussing about how cute Ranger Popeye is, share that light dreaminess. Also the Queen Tree telling the King to get back down here, once he’d been blown into the air, and his wearily agreeing to comply.

It’s a small thing but Ranger Popeye spends a lot of this cartoon squinting angrily. It’s a good look.

Scene showing Brutus having burrowed underground, and having dug open a tunnel wide enough to chop the subterranean trunk of the King Tree.
By the way I was surprised to see that Jack Mercer’s credited for the old male tree’s voice since I did not expect him to do that good a job sounding different. But then I remember he was tagged to do a lot of old-man voices for Paramount cartoons. Still, this tree put me in mind of Allen Swift’s portrayal of Simon Bar Sinister, which maybe better shows you how long it’s been since I watched Underdog.

What bothered me as a kid, and bothers me today, is after Brutus goes underground to cut the King Tree. (And that’s a good loophole-joke way around “no logging on these grounds”.) Brutus succeeds! He cuts the tree the whole way through. And I knew there was no coming back from that. I would accept the trees talking with Popeye and maybe Brutus. I accept unquestioningly Popeye’s spinach-induced super-strength. Also the tree trunk going a good eight feet underground instead of being roots. But that all the tree needs is to be set back in its hole?

Every story depends to some extent on suspending disbelief. Many of these are small things, like stories reaching a clear resolution. Or they’re things that we accept if we’re taking in the story at all, like how spinach makes Popeye even more super-strong for a while. Why was “the giant talking tree just needs to be set back in the ground again” too much ask of me? I don’t know.

I’m sure if Popeye had fed the tree spinach then I’d have accepted it. That would have made good sense.

Statistics July: how July 2020 treated Another Blog, Meanwhile


I say that, but I always mean how the readers treated Another Blog, Meanwhile. And by “treated” I mean “looked at one or more pages”. That’s what I’m really here for. Page views and the chance to think of a good joke about Prince Valiant, since nobody else is.

According to WordPress’s counter, in July there were 4,175 pages read here. It’s nice to see that above four thousand. It’s also above the twelve-month running average of 3,911.4 page views. These views came from 2,447 unique visitors, which is higher than the 2,260.6 running average.

Bar chart of about 30 months' worth of readership figures. The July figures are rising after a slight drop in June. There was a peak in April.
The tease to ‘accept payments for just about anything’ is a nice sentiment but it’s not as though I was turning away payments before. The trick is getting anyone to give me money for doing the stuff I have fun doing.

There were 95 things liked in July, which is a bit below the average of 100.3, but at least if my figures are representative, people don’t go liking stuff on WordPress anymore. I get about two-thirds as many likes as I did a year ago, and this with more page views and unique visitors. There were 35 comments given, gratifyingly above the average of 21.8, though.

So regarding the most popular posts: I’m getting a little tired linking to that months-of-the-year-in-reverse-alphabetical-order one. So I thought I’d just list the top five posts from July here. That’s a fine idea except there was a three-way tie for the fifth-most-popular piece, so, fine, have seven links. I’m glad that this includes at least one of my long-form pieces and also a Statistics Saturday piece. It gives a little more balance to things.

I should probably do something to account for, like, a post the last day of the month that gets most of its views the next month. But that’s getting to be a little too much work for me.


Where do my readers come from? For July, they were from 82 countries, a bit above the 77 that I’d seen in June and in May. 28 of them were single-view countries, which is up from the 20 of June and of May. Here’s the roster:

World map showing the United States in deepest red, most of the Americas, South and Pacific Asia, and Europe in a more uniform pink, and few countries in Africa or central Asia with any readers.
I missed my goal of getting all the nations formerly part of the Federal Republic of Central America: no readers from Costa Rica or El Salvador last month. Maybe next time!

Country Readers
United States 3,044
India 301
Canada 155
United Kingdom 131
Australia 78
Brazil 40
Finland 38
Germany 33
Sweden 29
Spain 25
France 24
Italy 22
Norway 18
Philippines 15
Austria 14
South Africa 14
South Korea 10
Portugal 9
Taiwan 9
Argentina 7
Indonesia 7
Ireland 7
Mexico 7
New Zealand 7
Poland 7
Netherlands 6
Singapore 6
Belgium 5
Colombia 5
European Union 5
Guatemala 5
Kenya 5
Peru 5
Denmark 4
Malaysia 4
Zambia 4
Bangladesh 3
Hong Kong SAR China 3
Japan 3
Nigeria 3
Russia 3
United Arab Emirates 3
Albania 2
Belarus 2
Czech Republic 2
Dominican Republic 2
Jamaica 2
Oman 2
Paraguay 2
Saudi Arabia 2
Switzerland 2
Thailand 2
Turkey 2
Venezuela 2
American Samoa 1
Barbados 1
Bermuda 1
Botswana 1
Brunei 1 (*)
Chile 1
China 1
Croatia 1
Cyprus 1 (*)
Ecuador 1
Egypt 1
Estonia 1
Honduras 1
Hungary 1
Israel 1
Jordan 1
Kuwait 1
Lebanon 1 (*****)
Mali 1
Mauritius 1
Nicaragua 1
Pakistan 1
Puerto Rico 1
Romania 1
Slovakia 1 (*)
Ukraine 1
Uruguay 1
Vietnam 1

Brunei, Cyprus, and Slovakia got a single view two months in a row now. Lebanon has had a single page view for each of six months in a row now. I’m not sure whether my longest streak is seven months or what, but that’s one of the longest single-reader streaks out there.


I’m continuing my plan for stuff to write this coming month. A long-form essay posted Thursday evening, Eastern Time. A Statistics Saturday piece posted Saturday evening, Eastern Time. More Popeye cartoons on Sunday evenings. And on Tuesday evenings What’s Going On In the story comics. My plan, barring special circumstances, is to cover the story comics in this order:


As of the start of August I’ve posted 2,738 things. These have drawn 179,564 page views from 101,044 unique visitors. Sorry to have missed you, visitor #100,001. You should have said something. In July I published 15,701 words, for an average of 506.5 words per posting in the month. And that brings my words per posting average for the year down to 541.

I’m happy to have more readers, if you know anyone who’d like to be one. You can subscribe through WordPress by using the “Follow Another Blog, Meanwhile” button. Or you can put the RSS feed for posts into any reader you have. This includes free accounts at Dreamwidth or Livejournal, if you don’t have anything else. You can add an RSS feed to your Dreamwidth page from https://www.dreamwidth.org/feeds/ and to your Livejournal friends page from https://www.livejournal.com/syn. I also announce new posts on my @nebusj Twitter account, that I can only sometimes post to manually. So if you need to contact me use literally any other method, including asking people you know if they happen to know me. It’s that bad, but somehow, too low-priority for me to sort out or just use a different web browser on. Sorry.

Statistics June: How June 2020 Treated My Humor Blog


June 2020 was another recessional month around here, as most of my readership figures have it. The number of page views dropped about 250 from May, to 3,964. I’m still hanging on ahead of the twelve-month running average, of 3,842.8 page views, but it’s a closer thing. The number of unique visitors dropped about 150, to 2,336. This is again above the running average of 2,217.0, and a bit more comfortably above that.

The number of likes jumped nearly twenty, to 87 given in the month. The secular decline somehow continues, though. The running average is 105.0 likes in a month even though I haven’t seen that kind of number since January 2020. And to give you some idea how long ago January 2020 was: remember how long ago June 2020 was? January was twenty times that long ago.

The number of comments dropped seven, also, to 32 in the month. This still has it above the average of 21.0, though.

Bar chart of monthly readership for the past two and a half months. After a spike in April the readership and unique visitors counts are declining again.
Couldn’t get a picture of the statistics at exactly the start of July, Universal Time, because we were going to a drive-in movie showing Ferris Bueller and The Breakfast Club as part of their “what the heck, let’s just be the 80s” program. This week: Ghostbusters 1984, the one with the toxic fandom.

The per-posting averages have almost an identical story. Since I have something posted every day that’s not much of a surprise. The views per posting and visitors per posting are almost exactly the twelve-month average: 127.9 visitors per posting, compared to an average 126.1; and 75.4 unique visitors per posting, compared to an average 72.8. 2.7 likes per posting, compared to the average 3.4. 1.0 comments per posting, better than the average 0.7. The per-posting averages are more useful on my mathematics blog, where I’ll let days go without a posting.

The most popular postings in June were, as often happens, not ones that were posted in June. One of them I totally understand, though, and it’s probably going to be a steadily inappropriately popular post in the months to come:

What things from June were popular in June? Nothing involving June Morgan, it happens. Instead we had these:

Altogether, 577 distinct pages, plus my home page, got at least one view in June. 330 pages, counting the home page, got at least two views. 78 pages got at least ten views. That’s right about the same as in May. Probably these figures can’t change much until someone goes and gets me some viral bundle of attention.


77 countries or things like countries sent me viewers in June, which is the same number as in May. 20 of them were a single view, which again is the same count as in May. Here’s what they all were:

Mercator-style map of the world with the United States in darkest red, most of the Americas and Europe in a uniform pink, and also South Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.
Yes! Landed both Czech and Slovakia this month! Next month: everything that used to be part of the Federal Republic of Central America.

Country Readers
United States 2,640
India 226
United Kingdom 177
Macedonia 163
Australia 123
Canada 118
Finland 60
Germany 37
Brazil 32
Italy 26
Philippines 26
South Africa 25
Netherlands 22
Sweden 21
Norway 20
Mexico 13
Spain 13
France 11
Indonesia 11
Denmark 10
Ireland 10
Malaysia 10
Peru 10
Kenya 9
Nigeria 9
Romania 9
Japan 8
Singapore 8
Hong Kong SAR China 7
New Zealand 7
Kuwait 6
Taiwan 6
Trinidad & Tobago 6
Belgium 5
Switzerland 5
Hungary 4
Slovenia 4
United Arab Emirates 4
Austria 3
Greece 3
Israel 3
Thailand 3
Zambia 3
Argentina 2
Bulgaria 2
Croatia 2
Egypt 2
Jamaica 2
Oman 2
Pakistan 2
Panama 2
Poland 2
Russia 2
Serbia 2
South Korea 2
Ukraine 2
Vietnam 2
Belize 1
British Virgin Islands 1
Brunei 1
Colombia 1
Costa Rica 1
Cyprus 1
Czech Republic 1
European Union 1
Kazakhstan 1
Lebanon 1 (****)
Myanmar (Burma) 1
Nepal 1
Paraguay 1
Portugal 1
Qatar 1
Slovakia 1 (*)
Sri Lanka 1
Tanzania 1
Turkey 1
Venezuela 1

Slovakia’s been a single-view country two months running now. Lebanon’s been one for five months now. Macedonia hadn’t sent me any readers in May so I’m wondering if there was maybe something miscommunicated to the Balkan nations regarding my content here. Again, I’m always glad to have readers, wherever they’re from. I just know how far short I am of discussing anything like universal truths regarding the human condition.


My plan for the coming month is very like my plans for past months. A long-form essay posted Thursday evening, Eastern Time. On Saturday evening, Eastern Time, a Statistics Saturday piece. And on Tuesday evenings, What’s Going On In the story comics. My plan for the next few weeks — barring something special that forces me to change plans — is to cover there:

As of the start of July I’ve posted 2,707 things here. That all has drawn 175,391 page views from 98,598 unique visitors. There were a relatively slender 14,534 words published here in June, for a sleek average of 484.5 words per posting. I like that. For the year to date I’ve published 97,880 words, averaging 547 words per post. That average is down from the 556 at the start of June. This is doing well considering that every time I think I can cut a review of the 60s Popeye cartoons down to a couple well-chosen paragraphs they sprawl out to 1200 words.

I’m always glad to have more readers, either as subscribers or just stopping in for a while. You can subscribe through WordPress by clicking the ‘Follow Another Blog, Meanwhile’ button. You can use the RSS feed in whatever reader you like, which can include a Friends page on a free Dreamwidth or Livejournal account. New posts are announced to my Twitter account, @nebusj, although I only sometimes can actually post to it manually. Sorry. Nice to see you in any form, though.

Hardly everything there is to say about The Story of Brick


So I read that book by the American Face Brick Association that I had noticed yesterday. How could I not? By the second page it’s got into how things had changed by the time of Nebuchadnezzar. When else do you ever hear about Nebuchadnezzar? There’s times that Linus is getting all scriptural in A Charlie Brown Christmas, and that’s about it. I’ll finish any book if it starts out by how the subject had changed by the time of good ol’ Nebuchadnezzar. “How will we get Joseph to finish reading this book about modern bowling alley management,” I can imagine a niche author wondering. “Make him aware such a thing exists?” says her co-author. The first, not realizing this is correct, says, “I know!” And hastily adds to page three a sentence, “by the time of Nebuchadnezzar the management of bowling alleys had developed some techniques familiar even today”. This would clinch the deal.

I know what you’re thinking, and no. So far as I know, “Nebus” is not a shortening of “Nebuchadnezzar”. I am aware of no relation to the ancient kings of Babylon, Sumer, Akkad, and the Universe. My family has always lived in the Universe but that’s about it.

The book is written by a true believer in bricks. I suppose we all believe in bricks to some extent. It’s not like we’ll pat the brick cladding of a building, lean over to our companion, and whisper, “Of course, you know what’s really going on with these.” I mean unless it’s that new kind of brick they build stuff with today, that’s somehow bricks that look like fake bricks. I mean we believe in bricks that look like bricks. We just don’t believe in bricks as much as this writer believes in bricks.

From this book I learn that, like Gaul, the clays used for brick are divided into three parts. The first is surface clays, “of which the commoner type of brick are made” and which I trust are the down-to-earth clays. Next are shales, “nearly reduced to the form of slate” by immense pressures, I trust from trying to avoid those commoner surface clays. The last group are fire clays, “so-called because of their refractory qualities”. Can you name three refractory qualities? Share your work below.

I wouldn’t have put Gaul into the matter except the book is written all like that. There’s a bit where it talks about how John Howard Payne made himself immortal with his universal lyric. Quick, name it!

Before I go further I should explain the difference between a brick and a face brick. A brick is that brick-like thing you call a brick or use for brick purposes. A face brick is a brick that sounds like you’re writing for a comic strip or maybe a network TV cop show and so can’t say “Facebook”. I hope this clarifies matters.

Anyway the American Face Brick Association feels quite strongly that whatever it is you’re doing, brick is a correct choice. “Whether you plan some elaborate baronial sort of mantel and fireplace or a cozy little ingle nook, you will find nothing either in point of durability or beauty that excels the right kind of brick.”, they say, and fairly. I can’t imagine they would have kept the manuscript draft that admitted ingle nooks are more a hardwood floors thing. I have enough trouble imagining what an “ingle nook” is, if not a transcription error. Maybe it’s the town in Connecticut that the physicist J Willard Gibbs was from?

If the book would like me to remember anything it is that bricks are cheaper than you think. Like, that time Tuesday when you and your friend were talking about how expensive bricks are? “This is a grave mistake based, as it is, on comparisons of forty or fifty years ago.” Add in the 98 years it’s been since this book was published, and you’re degrading bricks based on information that’s as much as 148 years out of date. I would urge you and your friend to apologize. Run to the door and cry out, “I apologize to the American Face Brick Association!” I don’t mean right now. It might be after 11 pm when you read this and that’s late to shout apologies to any face brick association.

To put all this in a word so far, though? Nebuchadnezzar. In two words? Nebuchadnezzar bricks.

60s Popeye: neat meet with the Track Meet Cheat


… I’m a little surprised that wasn’t the actual title of this short. We’re back to Larry Harmon productions for the cartoon this week. It’s another short directed by Paul Fennell, with story by Charles Shows. Let’s take a moment to watch Track Meet Cheat. The moment takes about five and a half minutes, with credits.

So the cartoon is animated as I’d expect from the future Filmation team. The characters are angular; Brutus is almost a triangle. The movement well-defined or stiff, depending on how good a mood you’re in. The story is … now that’s interesting.

If you watch this when you’re seven years old, or if you watch it while distracted, the story makes good solid sense. Brutus is showing off at the extremely thin stadium. Popeye has enough of this, and challenges him to the track-and-field events. Popeye does great but Brutus cheats until Popeye has enough, spinach, fight, triumph, end.

The thing is that’s not quite what we see. Like, Brutus is showing off, yeah, but he’s also there to put on a show. If we take his ballyhoo in earnest, he is setting world records. And we don’t actually see Popeye challenge him, nor Brutus accept the challenge. If we didn’t know the series we could see this as a relentless heckler spoiling the show. Connective tissue is missing.

It’s not just skipped steps in setting up the story. There are anomalies in motivation all over. For example, in tossing the ball-and-chain, Brutus makes a good impressive throw. Then he runs out and catches it. It’s an impressive stunt, but it spoils the throw as an athletic performance. Popeye does a high jump by tying balloons to himself; how is that supposed to impress the judges? Brutus hands Popeye a bomb, which explodes, and then Brutus wonders where the guy he just blew up went. Why?

Picture of Brutus looking up, nervous, and holding a small consumer-grade circa 1960 camera.
Brutus looks like he’s only now realizing the horror that setting a bomb in Popeye’s hand would actually be. That or he’s sorry he doesn’t have a Polaroid.

If you’re a kid watching this, there’s no trouble. These things just happen because it makes sense for the scene. You know Brutus and Popeye act like this because that’s what they’re doing. If you watch while distracted there’s no problem. You, having learned how narratives work, imagine a connective tissue that makes sense. There’s a hole that swallows up Popeye’s pole, when he tries to vault? Brutus probably dug that to sabotage his opponent.

So there’s a curious anomaly here. The cartoon makes perfect sense, unless you’re an adult paying attention to it.

I’m not saying it’s bad. The stunts are nice, many of the jokes work for me. I love any chance for Popeye to do that angry chimney-puffing on his pipe. Wimpy hawking spinach burgers is a more interesting way to get the spinach than just pulling out a can would be. Wimpy not wanting anyone to actually eat the spinach burgers makes his participation an existentialist absurdity. Or just painting a joke onto an already non-sequitur plot element. It’s just a cartoon that works better if you don’t scrutinize it.

Statistics May: How the past month treated my humor blog


So how do my readership figures for May look? And how do they look compared to past months? And the short answer is that it’s down from April, because nobody cares about Easter egg dye colors anymore. But it’s still a comfortably large number. Not quite the figures I saw at the end of Apartment 3-G, but surprisingly close.

Specifically, there were 4,292 page views here in May 2020, spread across 2,505 unique visitors. That’s above the twelve-month running averages for these figures. The average was 3,769.6 page views from 2,179.8 unique visitors. The twelve-month running averages are increasing month-to-month too, but I’m not going to start tracking that because that’s getting daft.

Bar chart of two years, four months, in total views and unique visitors. The trend is generally upward, though falling back after a spike above 5,000 visitors in April.
By the way the default chart shows two years and five months’ worth of figures. I write this because every month I swear I’m going to remember just how much it shows, and then I forget, and I look at all the month tabs and I get lost and I guess it’s about two and a half years. Which it is, although why 29 months instead of 30 is another of those mysteries.

The disappointing figure in all this was the number of likes, which have been trending down forever now. There were 67 things liked in all of May, way below the running average of 109.5. More important than that, though, was that 39 comments came in over the month, well above the 19.8 average. That’s also three months in a row with more than thirty comments, which makes me feel so much better, really.

The per-post averages are all rather similar. There were on average 138.5 views per posting in May; the twelve-month average is 123.7. There were 80.8 unique visitors per posting in May; the average is 71.6. There were 2.2 likes per posting in May; the average was 3.6. There were 1.3 comments per posting; the average was 0.6.

There were 556 distinct postings that got at least one page view in May, up from April’s 514. 359 of them got more than one page view, up from 323. Only 72 pages got more than ten views, slightly down from April’s 76.

The most popular comic strips were a recurring mystery, and then a bunch of comic strip stuff:

I continue to have no idea why that months-in-reverse-alphabetical-order is popular, or why it’s staying popular. I feel like it must have got put on a list incorrectly. Or there’s just that many bots who got something wrong.

All those posts are old ones, though. The most popular thing posted in May was a comic strip recap, What’s Going On In The Phantom (Weekdays)? Why is the Phantom punching terrorists? February – May 2020. My most popular May piece that was intended to be funny was Remembering the home computers of the 1980s, one of my long-form essays that’s still a mushy nostalgic haze.


There were 77 countries, or things like countries, that sent me any readers in May. There’d been 78 in April and 73 in March, so that’s all normal enough. There were 20 single-view countries, just like in March, and basically like in April, when there were 19. Here’s the roster of what countries they were, and how many views each got:

Mercator-style map of the world with the United States in deepest red. Most of the Americas, western Europe, South Asia and the Asian Pacific nations are in a uniform, less intense pink. Almost no African countries are pink.
I do kind of wish WordPress would use a different map projection, because every single month I give this the alt-text ‘Mercator-style map of the world’ and every single month I have to look up whether it’s ‘Mercator’ or ‘Mercatur’. And I’m the map freak here. Me! Anyway if they could do an equirectangular or maybe a Gall or Lambert I’d save myself that little bit of monthly embarrassment.

Country Readers
United States 3,171
India 177
United Kingdom 135
Canada 128
Australia 65
Germany 59
Sweden 58
Brazil 46
Italy 35
South Korea 33
Philippines 28
Finland 24
France 20
Spain 19
Colombia 14
El Salvador 13
Ireland 13
Russia 13
Mexico 12
Portugal 12
Norway 11
Argentina 9
Indonesia 9
Malaysia 9
Vietnam 9
Kenya 8
Netherlands 8
New Zealand 8
South Africa 8
Serbia 7
Singapore 7
Taiwan 7
China 6
Denmark 6
Jamaica 6
Japan 6
Poland 6
Turkey 6
Hong Kong SAR China 5
Pakistan 5
United Arab Emirates 5
Belgium 4
Chile 4
Czech Republic 4
Peru 4
Croatia 3
European Union 3
Iceland 3
Israel 3
Romania 3
Venezuela 3
Barbados 2
Bolivia 2
Costa Rica 2
Ecuador 2
Morocco 2
Zambia 2
Bahamas 1
Bangladesh 1 (**)
Belarus 1
Bhutan 1
Egypt 1 (**)
Greece 1
Guam 1
Guatemala 1 (*)
Lebanon 1 (***)
Mauritius 1
Panama 1
Puerto Rico 1
Saudi Arabia 1 (*)
Slovakia 1
St. Lucia 1
Switzerland 1
Trinidad & Tobago 1
Tunisia 1
Uruguay 1 (*)
Zimbabwe 1

Guatemala, Saudi Arabia, and Uruguay were single-view countries last month too. Bangladesh and Egypt have been single-view countries three months in a row. Lebanon is on its fourth month so.


Through the start of June, I had published a total 2,677 posts. They’ve drawn 171,428 views from a recorded 96,260 visitors. And I’m hoping some of them will stick around for my writing. Each Thursday, Eastern Time, I post a long-form humor essay. Each Saturday, similarly, I post something for Statistics Saturday, my Dad’s favorite feature here. And then, for Tuesdays lately, I watch What’s Going On In the story comics. My plan for the coming month, subject to breaking news, is to cover these strips:

WordPress estimates that I published 15,458 words here in May, in 31 posts averaging just over 515 and a quarter words each. For the year to date I’ve published 83,346 words, over 150 posts, for an average 556 words per posting. This is running a bit under the pace for 2019, which I am fine with.

I’m always glad to have more regular readers. If you’re on WordPress you can become a regular reader by clicking the “Follow Another Blog, Meanwhile” button on this page. Or you can add the RSS feed for articles to whatever reader you use. If you don’t have an RSS reader, good news: you can get a free account at Dreamwidth or Livejournal, and use their Friends page to look at any RSS feed you like. I also announce posts by automated service to my Twitter account of @Nebusj. But while I’d sort of like to be active there again, Twitter only sometimes lets Safari read it. I don’t know what its issue is, and I don’t have the energy to work it out. Sorry.

Statistics March: How March 2020 Treated My Humor Blog, At Least


They say that in times of crisis, keeping up routines is a good thing. That’s why I’ve moved the What’s Going On In series from posting late Sunday to posting late Tuesday: I don’t know what I’m doing. Also this lets me handle the Sunday-only strips more gracefully. Still, I do want to look at what kinds of things get read around here, and how much, and this is my first really good chance for that. So here’s a quick review of what my readership was like, according to WordPress, which I keep going ahead and trusting even when I don’t like the results. This is known as integrity or being too lazy to do something else.

Bar chart showing a little over two years' worth of monthly readership figures; after three depressed months the readership is back up again.
Yeah so I was at home at 8 pm Eastern Time on the 31st of March so I could take this snapshot at exactly the moment to have April not appear. Frankly, I would rather have been out messing around playing pinball at the hipster bar two blocks over.

So, three months of a slump seems to have passed. There were 3,963 page views in March, comfortably above even the twelve-month running average of 3,605.3 views per month. These came from a logged 2,385 unique visitors, which is also a fair bit high of the 2,083.3 running average. That’s all looking good from my perspective. The number of likes was flat, though, the same 75 as in February. This is a fair bit below the average of 131.5. This suggests a great fall-off in reader engagement. But then the number of comments rose to 30, its greatest number in over a year, and well above the twelve-month average of 16.1.

Pro-rating things per post gives a similar story. There were 127.8 views per posting for March, above the average 118.3. There were 76.9 unique visitors per posting, up from 68.4 as an average. Only 2.4 likes per posting, below the twelve-month average of 4.3. But 1.0 comments per posting, way above the 0.5 average. April is already looking nicely chatty, too. Now that I’ve said that I can watch comments shrivel up and die, apart from people upset about Mark Trail.

I am, as ever, not joking about Mark Trail. The most popular five essays last month were:

My most popular long-form essay last month was In Which I Am Very Petty About This Covid-19 Business, the first of what’s turning out to be a series of me rambling about my minor neuroses. It implies that I’ve finally figured out my niche, and it’s complaining about myself.

There really is no official word on what the deal is with James Allen and Mark Trail recently. I shared my best information, which is to say rumor and conjecture, and intend to post if I hear anything.

What else do I intend to post? In the comic strip plot recap lineup, these things, over the coming month:

These are subject to change in case of breaking news or something that demands my attention or whatever other chaos breaks out in the world.

484 posts got at least one page view in March, well up from February’s 401. 302 of them got more than one view, up from 245. 75 of them got at least ten views, compared to 56 in February.

Mercator-style map of the world; the United States is in darkest red. Most of the Americas, Europe, Russia, and Pacific and South Asia is in pink; little of Africa is.
Someday I will get a reader in Greenland and I won’t know what to do with it. … Hi, Greenland! I’m sure you have someone where who could read me!

73 countries sent me any viewers in March, right about February’s 71. 20 of them were single-view countries, close enough to February’s 18. Herees the full roster:

Country Readers
United States 3,030
India 161
Canada 121
United Kingdom 90
Philippines 68
Germany 50
Australia 38
South Africa 35
Brazil 34
Sweden 24
Spain 23
Papua New Guinea 21
France 17
Thailand 15
Finland 14
Switzerland 14
Italy 13
Portugal 13
New Zealand 11
Argentina 10
Netherlands 10
Romania 10
Denmark 9
Ireland 9
Norway 8
Pakistan 8
China 7
European Union 6
Singapore 5
Taiwan 5
Belgium 4
El Salvador 4
Japan 4
Kenya 4
Colombia 3
Croatia 3
Dominican Republic 3
Hong Kong SAR China 3
Indonesia 3
Malaysia 3
Poland 3
Russia 3
South Korea 3
Ukraine 3
American Samoa 2
Austria 2
Greece 2
Honduras 2
Jamaica 2
Mexico 2
Saudi Arabia 2
Sri Lanka 2
Zambia 2
Bangladesh 1
Belize 1
Chile 1
Ecuador 1
Egypt 1
Estonia 1
Iceland 1
Israel 1
Jordan 1
Kuwait 1 (*)
Lebanon 1 (*)
Nigeria 1
Peru 1 (*)
Puerto Rico 1
Serbia 1
Somalia 1
Trinidad & Tobago 1 (**)
Turkey 1
United Arab Emirates 1 (*)
Zimbabwe 1

Kuwait, Lebanon, Peru, and the United Arab Emirates were single-view countries in February also. Trinidad & Tobago has been on a single-view streak for three months now.

WordPress figures in March I posted 17,019 words. That’s 549 words per posting exactly, a rare decimal-free appearance for that figure. It’s my most verbose of 2020 so far, though. For the year to date I’ve posted 48,878 words, in 90 posts, for an average of 543.09 words per posting. The start of April saw me complete 2,616 posts altogether, drawing 161,530 views from 90,399 unique visitors.

And you could be among them! If you’re reading this, you already are. Unless you’re reading by way of RSS reader, in which case I’ll never know unless you say something to me. But you can also follow by clicking the “Follow Another Blog, Meanwhile” button on this page. Or follow me on Twitter as @nebusj, if you’d like. Thank you, however it is you’re doing things.

It’s okay, nobody else gets Sunday’s Funky Winkerbean either


Yeah so Tom Batiuk’s Funky Winkerbean this Sunday didn’t work. I haven’t checked everyone in the world, but everyone I have checked, agreed. It seems like the strip was going for a pun or at least some wordplay. Or an agreement that a thing sounded funny. But working out just what it was going for is hard. So it’s not just you. But here’s the strip:

Science Teacher: 'Which brings us to Ultima Thule [ Footnote: Pronounced 'Too-Lay' ]. Can anone tell me what Ultima Thule is?' Student: 'Isn't he the villain from the Thor [ Footnote: pronounced 'Tor' ] movie?' Teacher, putting his hand on his forehead: 'I wonder if it's too late to revisit the board's early retirement package?'
Tom Batiuk’s Funky Winkerbean for the 29th of March, 2020. Also granted none of the villains from the Thor movies, pronounced “too-vies”, has in fact had a name that sounds anything like “Ultima Thule”. It’s also true that many of the things which we, in jest, say would be good names for a band would, in truth, not be anything like good names for a band.

Ultima Thule as referenced here is this Kupier Belt object that’s about 45 astronomical units away from us, so we don’t have to do anything about it right now. The New Horizons probe flew by it in 2018, and we’re still getting data downloads of the encounter. Slow Internet out that far. It was formally named Arrokoth in November 2019, but Tom Batiuk reportedly works as much as a year ahead of publication. We can be forgiving of things like this, especially when we remember that we as a society still call it Kinko’s, fifteen years after they changed the name to “whatever they pretend they changed the name of Kinko’s to”.

If it weren’t for the footnotes I think everyone would have just read the strip and agreed, that’s got the structure of a joke. Teacher in a comic strip asks students to explain a thing, student has a wrong answer that even reference pop culture, teacher mourns his lot in life. What has this sticking in my mind is the footnotes. They’re fantastically unnecessary. A lot of jokes have some unnecessary bits. They can make dialogue or pacing sound more natural. Or they can clue the audience into the subject matter, so they have the right context for the joke. Or sometimes the word balloon is too large otherwise, as with the mention of “the board’s” early retirement “package”. The teacher could have wondered if it was too late to revisit early retirement.

But. Why the footnote explaining that Anamorphic Mark Twain pronounces Thule “Too-Lay”, in the Bandar Tongue? What would possibly be worse if the reader thought Anamorph thought it was pronounced “thool”, the way everybody actually says it? That, at least, we could defend as character, so that we know Anamorph is, gads, one of those people. You know, who pronounce “Caesar” as “kaiser”. I bet he volunteers that he thinks other people use the word “penultimate” wrong. He’s definitely complained about someone using “decimate” to refer to a thing that’s been more than one-tenth destroyed.

What launches this into the all-time baffling strips is the student’s pronouncing Thor as “Tor”, a thing that has never been done at any time by any person, ever, even by people who are trying to hypercorrect other people into saying something stupid. What is her deal supposed to be? Is it supposed to be that she’s mocking Anamorph for pronouncing “Thule” with a t- sound? Was she just going along with the teacher’s quirky choice about how “th” sounds? The smirk on her face last panel suggests not, but everybody in a Funky Winkerbean strip is smirking all the time. So it loses its power to signal that the smirker thinks they’ve said something clever. So what is that footnote doing there? Something as unnecessary as a footnote shouldn’t be there unless it’s serving the joke, but what joke?

I can defend the first footnote, about too-lay, as serving the joke and not just establishing Anamorph as a tool. It could be that the sound “too-lay” is supposed to make the reader think “tool”, which gets you to hammers, to Thor, so the punch line doesn’t seem to come from nowhere. I think that’s unnecessary, but I can understand a writer feeling that it needs more setup. But then the best I can think for the second footnote is that we’re getting a wacky-answer-to-teacher-questions overlapping with a make-fun-of-the-pedant joke.

So that’s my best guess about what we’re supposed to find amusing. It’s two jokes. Each of them are okay. But arranged as they are, they’re interfering destructively. It’s rather like the sloppier panels of Julie Larson’s The Dinette Set, in which the secondary bonus joke on someone’s T-shirt would distract the reader from the main joke.

The important thing is the problem is the joke, not you reading it.


Oh, and, what the heck. Daily Cartoonist mentioned that Brian Anderson, who does the fantastic Dog Eat Doug comic strip, is doing a half-hour livestream the 31st at 10 am Eastern Time, “How To Write Any Story”, a workshop for kids seven and up. May be worth seeing.

Statistics February: How the past month treated my humor blog


It seems like I did this just a couple days ago, doesn’t it? But at least I’m getting to my monthly review of readership numbers sooner this month than last. I do like taking a moment to look at what got read around here, and how much, since it serves as a reminder that I’m not as popular as I think I am. Also that I never will be. And that I used to be more popular. Or at least more less unpopular.

There were 3,181 page views around here in February. That’s the third month in a row at about that level, although it is rising a little. It’s a chunk under the twelve-month running average of 3,542.6. The numbers aren’t bad by themselves; it’s just this is like a one-quarter chunk of the readership from the previous three months vanished. I don’t know what happened there, or why.

It’s a similar story with the number of unique visitors. There were 1,969 of them in February, which is a bit up from the last couple months and is at least in the neighborhood of the Chuckletrousers running average of 2,038.3. Again, though, like a quarter of my readership vanished between November and December and I can’t figure a reason why.

Bar chart of monthly readership going back four and a half years; after the readership dropped about a quarter following December, it's been slowly rising again.
Now, this same chart but for my mathematics blog tells me the number of things posted in the month. It happens I know how many things I posted here in February; I had something every day. But why does that not get attention in the little pop-up window then?

After a couple months fluttering upward the number of likes has crashed again. There were 75 of them in February, way below the running average of 138.3. It’s the lowest number of likes in a month since 2013, which is amazing to consider because that was a time I would get, like, 300 views and 170 visitors in a month. Comments, too, have rolled over and died: six of them in February, below the average of 18.4 and the lowest since the first months of this blog, back in 2013.

Nevertheless, people are reading stuff. Mostly my comic strip talk. The most popular essays here in February were none at all published in February, but:

So if we learn nothing else, it’s that people really want to know what’s with Mark Trail leaving people for dead. Trust me, I’ll have words about this on Sunday. Also I have no idea why that months-of-the-year thing is proving so popular month after month. I think someone must have linked to it from somewhere trusted. The most popular thing I published in February was also about people wanting story comic characters’ motivations explained. That was What’s Going On In The Phantom (Weekdays)? Why is the Python held by the Wambesi? November 2019 – February 2020.

My most popular long-form essay of the month was It Is Supposed To Be Cold Tomorrow which shows how people like to see me vaguely complaining about stuff. I am thinking of other topics I can go on about in this vein. Anyway each Thursday night, US time, I try to post a long-form essay at this link. We’ll see what I can do with any of that.

Altogether 401 posts, plus my home page, got any views at all this past month. 245 of them got more than one view. 56 got at least ten views. There’d been 450 posts getting any views in January, and 277 more than one view then.

But I know what people really want to see and that’s my plot recaps of the story comics. The plan for the next several weeks is to feature:

As ever, this is subject to change for reasons of breaking news or broken schedules on my part. And, not to jinx myself, but: Mark Trail, Mary Worth, The Phantom, and Rex Morgan? In the story-strip-snark community we know these as the breadwinners. Gil Thorp, well, that’s the hipster breadwinner, a story strip for people who want to snark on something a little more obscure than Mary Worth.

Mercator-style map of the world, with the Americas, western Europe, South India, Australia, and Russia in a mostly uniform pink. There's only a few African countries to have sent any readers at all.
I acknowledge that I will never have a reader from Greenland but I’m startled to see Switzerland ignoring me.

71 countries sent me any readers in February. That’s right about January’s 68 and December’s 65. 18 of these were single-view countries, again right about January’s 20 and December’s 13. Here’s the full roster:

Country Readers
United States 2,313
Canada 182
India 116
United Kingdom 82
Australia 52
European Union 40
Germany 36
Brazil 35
Sweden 30
Philippines 25
Spain 20
France 17
Portugal 17
Norway 15
Finland 13
Indonesia 12
South Africa 11
Denmark 7
Israel 7
Poland 7
Argentina 6
Netherlands 6
New Zealand 6
Russia 6
Chile 5
Ireland 5
Italy 5
Kenya 5
Romania 5
Bangladesh 4
Colombia 4
Jamaica 4
Japan 4
Malaysia 4
Mexico 4
Pakistan 4
Puerto Rico 4
Serbia 4
Singapore 4
Taiwan 4
Austria 3
El Salvador 3
Hong Kong SAR China 3
Hungary 3
Nigeria 3
Thailand 3
Turkey 3
Cyprus 2
Ecuador 2
Latvia 2
Oman 2
Switzerland 2
Tanzania 2
Aruba 1
Barbados 1
Belgium 1
Bolivia 1
Ghana 1
Kuwait 1
Lebanon 1
Libya 1
Malta 1
Panama 1
Peru 1
Qatar 1
Saudi Arabia 1
South Korea 1
Sri Lanka 1 (*)
Trinidad & Tobago 1 (*)
United Arab Emirates 1
Venezuela 1

Sri Lanka and then Trinidad & Tobago were single-view countries in January. There’s no countries on three-month streaks. Italy’s dropped to a more typical number of readers after January’s spike of 170 page views. Most of my readers are from the English-speaking countries that I expect to see there.

I posted, counts WordPress, 14,874 words in February. This seems low. It averages to 512.9 words per posting, which is down from January’s 548. As of the start of February I’ve posted 2,585 things, and attracted 157,567 page views from a logged 88,016 unique visitors.

I’d be glad to have you as a regular reader here. You can put the blog into your RSS reader. (Friends pages on a free Livejournal or Dreamwidth account can serve as an RSS reader.) Or you can use the “Follow Another Blog, Meanwhile” button on this page and add it to your regular RSS read. If you’re on Twitter, you’re one ahead of my @nebusj account, but that link still announces postings. Thank you for reading at all, though, however it is you do it.

Statistics 2019: What Was Read Here, And How Much, Back Then


I have meant to do my usual readership-review thing, but for the whole of 2019. I can’t put it off much longer, either, or I’ll start running into February. Few people ever run into February on purpose; it just sort of settles on us instead, and then we get three weeks of our socks getting wet even through the waterproof boots. So let’s see what was popular around here last year:

Bar chart showing the mostly steady increase of readership, by year, from 2013 through 2019.
Boy, I’m glad the statistics for 2020 aren’t ending now because that would be a pretty sharp drop.

2019 was my greatest year for being read, which is nice to see. 42,746 pages got viewed at all, from 24,539 unique visitors. That’s also a record; 2018 saw only 39,130 views from 20,889 visitors. Also the unique visitors from 2019 was only slightly below the 24,695 total page views in 2017. That’s not a bad rate of growth. There were 1.74 views per visitor in 2019, which is down but probably not significantly from 2018’s 1.87. It’s up but probably not significantly from 2017’s 1.63.

Bar chart of likes per year, from 2013 to the present. It's hung around 1700 to 2300 most years, with 2015 abnormally high.
People really, really liked it when Apartment 3-G was dying and I was covering it weekly.

This is not to say I’m getting any more likable. The number of likes given out in 2019 declined to 1,715, my lowest number since 2013. Given the increase in readers, and page views, this decline’s particularly dire. I can understand the decrease in comments. There were 277 comments given last year, the lowest for a full year that I’ve ever had. But I get that: there’s little to say about a Statistics Saturday post, or any of those wordplay bits I was doing on Wednesdays. Even the What’s Going On In series only offers slight openings for discussion. I don’t make a lot of speculations about stories and since I spend three months getting back to any comic, anyone with a good joke about Mark Trail has used it in a more relevant spot first.

Bar chart of comments per year, 2013 to present. There were a good number of comments in 2014 and 2015, with a decline from there --- except for a huge number of comments in 2018.
Gosh, was it as long ago as 2018 that Ray Kassinger ran across this page and commented on everything I’d ever written? You never notice how fast time moves until it’s done, do you?

So perhaps I need, especially in the posts that are reviews, to write things that more invite comment. My brain is able to think only of adding, “What do you think?” to the ends of posts. So that’ll be a while to develop.

There were, besides the home page, 1,320 posts that got at least a single page view in 2019. 1,055 of them got at least two page views, and 524 got at least ten page views. 63 of them got over a hundred page views, and one of them was about Fearless Fred, Betty Boop’s boyfriend who even she forgot she had. The things people most wanted to read were, yes, comic strip stuff and S J Perelman:

Also someone went and put a single-star rating vote on the Rex Morgan, M.D. piece about Edward’s Dog. I don’t take any of these ratings personally but … what is their conceptual model for a two-star essay about why we don’t see Edward’s Dog on-screen? What would that have which I was lacking?

Anyway all the most popular essays in 2019 which were published in 2019 were What’s Going On In essays, and I’ll admit some overworked days I feel like I could drop everything but that and save myself some work. My most popular post of 2019 that wasn’t about comic strips was also not an attempt to be funny. It was an attempt to serve the public: Which Color Paas Tablet Is Purple? Which is Red? Which is Pink? Knowing the answer to this has become less urgent now that you can use either water or vinegar for all the colors, pink included. But it may still help people work out which color is purple and which is blue.

And the most popular long-form essay was In Which I Cannot Honestly Say I Dodged A Bullet Here, about an axe-throwing place that opened in town. It just barely beat out The Stages Of The Road Trip: Stage One, the start of a surprisingly long sequence about … just … driving. I really liked writing the road trip sequence though, and if I could manage one series like that every four months I’d feel I had reached the mastery I wanted.

The single-view pages are split between ones that I’m amazed didn’t get more views and ones I’m amazed got that many views. One view for On The Problems Of Credit In The 19th Century New England Economy is probably about right, though, given that it has a title like that. I don’t know what I was thinking with that one.

Mercator-style map of the world, with the United States in darkest red, and the rest of the world in a more roughly uniform pink. Countries sending no readers at all include Greenland, Cuba, the Guianas, a swath of central Africa, and Iran, Afghanistan, and some neighboring countries. Also Syria, apparently.
I notice the lack of Madagascar readers, mostly because I have always had an irrational fondness for the island-nation owing to its appearance in a Donald Duck comic book which asserted that it was the premier nation if you wanted papier-mache. I have no idea where the comic book got that idea but, some country has to be the best at papier-mache, so why not Madagascar?

136 country-like things sent me readers in 2019. The United States alone sent me 31,339 page views. This is more page views than I had in any year before 2018 and also shows just how amazingly provincial my writing is. Here’s the full list of page views, though:

Country Readers
United States 31,339
India 2,458
Canada 1,229
United Kingdom 957
Australia 722
Sweden 470
Philippines 422
Germany 385
Brazil 367
European Union 264
Italy 237
Spain 237
France 202
Hong Kong SAR China 187
South Africa 170
Mexico 153
Finland 145
Romania 137
Netherlands 131
Norway 131
Japan 115
Peru 112
Denmark 104
Kenya 94
El Salvador 89
Malaysia 88
New Zealand 84
Turkey 81
South Korea 75
Portugal 69
Indonesia 68
Singapore 68
Thailand 59
Ireland 58
Belgium 57
Russia 56
Taiwan 55
United Arab Emirates 55
Poland 49
Argentina 48
Colombia 46
Switzerland 46
American Samoa 42
Austria 42
Serbia 36
Israel 35
Slovenia 32
Greece 30
Pakistan 30
Chile 29
Jamaica 28
Ukraine 28
Puerto Rico 27
Nigeria 26
Hungary 24
Bangladesh 21
Saudi Arabia 20
Trinidad & Tobago 20
Nepal 19
Croatia 18
Czech Republic 18
Egypt 16
Uruguay 16
Slovakia 15
Ecuador 13
China 12
Vietnam 12
Morocco 9
Venezuela 9
Iraq 8
Kuwait 8
Georgia 7
Jordan 7
Macedonia 7
Zambia 7
Bolivia 6
Bulgaria 6
Cyprus 6
Guam 6
Guatemala 6
Kazakhstan 5
Lithuania 5
Sri Lanka 5
Bermuda 4
Bosnia & Herzegovina 4
Dominican Republic 4
Latvia 4
Mongolia 4
Montenegro 4
Qatar 4
South Sudan 4
Albania 3
Algeria 3
Bahrain 3
Estonia 3
Ghana 3
Honduras 3
Iceland 3
Lebanon 3
Malta 3
Moldova 3
Tunisia 3
Angola 2
Armenia 2
Brunei 2
Cambodia 2
Cameroon 2
Cayman Islands 2
Costa Rica 2
Curaçao 2
Liberia 2
Panama 2
Réunion 2
Uganda 2
Antigua & Barbuda 1
Bahamas 1
Barbados 1
British Virgin Islands 1
Gibraltar 1
Guadeloupe 1
Guernsey 1
Isle of Man 1
Libya 1
Luxembourg 1
Mauritania 1
Mauritius 1
Myanmar (Burma) 1
Nicaragua 1
Oman 1
Papua New Guinea 1
Paraguay 1
Sint Maarten 1
St. Martin 1
Tanzania 1
Uzbekistan 1
Zimbabwe 1

Hey, three countries with more than a thousand page views each! That’s … not different from my 2018 record. It still feels accomplished, though. My India readership almost doubled.

In all, WordPress says I published 204,420 words in 2019. It also says I published 363 posts, which does not square with my having published something every day. I have no explanation for this. This is my second-most-loquacious year, a bit down from 2018 with 233,406 words. I averaged, according to WordPress, 563 words per posting. I make out 204,420 divided by 365 to be just over 560 myself. Either way, it’s just a little more wordy than 2017 was, and with fewer comments and likes. Hm.

While it’s still early to say what the year ahead will offer, I know my plans. What’s Going On In the story comics, once a week. On Thursday evenings, US time, a long-form essay. On Saturday evenings, US time, a Statistics Saturday quick little joke. And I guess I’m reviewing the Popeye cartoons nobody cares about too. Plus whatever fills in the gaps, the other days.

Thank you for reading. What do you think?

Statistics December: How The Last Month Treated My Humor Blog


I like taking some time near the start of any month to look at what my readership is like. I would have liked to get to it earlier this month but I haven’t had the time to think, much less write. I’d also like to know why I like doing this. Well, I know why I usually like it. Usually the statistics tell me that I’m quite popular with a select group of people and that’s nice to see. December 2019, though? … well, not so much.

It’s an exaggeration to say this was a plummet. But there were “only” 3,064 page views around here in December. That’s about three-quarters what there were in November. It’s a fair bit below the twelve-month running average of 3,545.7 views per month. Looking at the number of views per posting seems less dire, even though there were more posts in December than in November. There were 98.8 views per posting in December, below the running average of 116.5 views per posting. This seems less dire because there are more decimal points in it.

Bar chart of several years' worth of readership figures. After several months of increase December 2019 sees a drop to near June 2019's level.
Boy, the end of Apartment 3-G was a long time ago, wasn’t it?

There was a roughly identical drop in the number of unique visitors. There were 1,760 logged unique visitors in December 2019, below the twelve-month running average of 2,034.3. Per post, that’s 56.8 unique visitors, below the average of 66.8. If there’s any bright spots to this it’s in the things that measure engagement. There were 104 things liked in December, a rise from November’s total of 92, and getting closer to the running average of 145.7. This is 3.4 likes per posting, still fairly below the 4.8 likes per posting average. The number of comments was up, though, with 21 received in December. That’s the greatest number since June, and is not that far below the twelve-month running average of 25.0. It’s also an average of 0.7 comments per posting, below but near the average of 0.8.

There were 420 posts, besides my home page, that got any views at all in December. That’s down from November’s 446. 159 of these pages got only a single view, which basically matches November’s 150 and October’s 162. The most popular pieces were nothing posted this December, it happens:

Those last three make me think I need to do something optimizing about my comic strip plot recap posts. My most popular long-form essay for the month was also a new one, Some Books You Can Get Me For Christmas. I’m quite happy about this because I really, really liked this piece and I’m glad other people do.

I plan to keep doing long-form essays every Thursday evening, Eastern Time, until someone likes them. I also plan to keep doing What’s Going On In Story Strips essays, normally posted Sunday evenings. My planned schedule, barring breaking news or other urgent developments, for the next few weeks is this:

65 countries or country-like entities sent me views in December. That’s down from November’s 74 and October’s 76. I thought last month I had found a level, and see where that’s got me. There were 13 single-view countries, down from November’s 15 and October’s 23. Here’s the full list of them:

Mercator-style map of the world with the United States in darkest red, and much of South America, Europe, South Asia, and Australia and New Zealand in a more uniform pink. A few African countries have also sent readers.
Yeah but seriously, is there anybody in Greenland? If you know anybody who’s going to Greenland could you ask them to send me just one page view so I know the system is working? Thank you.

Country Readers
United States 2,206
India 118
Canada 103
European Union 98
Philippines 91
Australia 62
United Kingdom 47
Sweden 44
France 26
Germany 25
Finland 21
Spain 17
Malaysia 14
Turkey 14
Brazil 13
South Africa 12
Netherlands 11
Italy 8
Denmark 7
Poland 7
Greece 6
Singapore 6
Taiwan 6
Ukraine 6
Croatia 5
New Zealand 5
Portugal 5
Russia 5
Colombia 4
Israel 4
Japan 4
Argentina 3
Czech Republic 3
Hong Kong SAR China 3
Ireland 3
Mexico 3
Romania 3
Serbia 3
Slovenia 3
United Arab Emirates 3
Angola 2
Austria 2
Bangladesh 2
Ecuador 2
Hungary 2
Norway 2
Pakistan 2
South Korea 2
Switzerland 2
Thailand 2
Vietnam 2
Zambia 2
Belgium 1
Cayman Islands 1
Chile 1
Iceland 1
Indonesia 1
Jamaica 1
Kazakhstan 1
Kenya 1
Lebanon 1 (*)
Macedonia 1 (**)
Nigeria 1 (*)
Peru 1
Slovakia 1

Lebanon and Nigeria were single-view countries in November. Macedonia’s been a single-view country three months running now.

I figure to do a review of all 2019 sometime later, most likely in 2020. But I can share some things. In December I posted 16,820 words altogether, for an average of 542.6 words per posting. That’s below the 2019 year’s average of 563 words per post. From the start of this blog to the start of 2020 I’d had 2,526 postings, which got altogether 151,278 views from 84,297 unique visitors.

I’m happy to have you as a regular reader. You can add https://nebushumor.wordpress.com/feed/ to your RSS reader. If you don’t have an RSS reader you can create one by using the Reading/Friends page on a free Dreamwidth or Livejournal account. Or if you’d like to show up in my statistics you can use the “Follow Another Blog, Meanwhile” button that’s on this page too. And I have an account on Twitter as @Nebusj which posts announcements of new pieces, although I haven’t got around to getting back into the account. For whatever reason Safari stopped letting me read Twitter and I haven’t had energy to protest this anywhere useful. But thanks for reading this here, at a minimum.

Statistics 2010s: Top Words Cut From My Essays Of The Decade Just Passed


  • just
  • not to say it isn’t
  • really
  • almost
  • microphone
  • a sort of
  • somewhat
  • (really almost any 10% would improve things somewhat)
  • simply
  • heptic

Reference: Mind Partner and 8 Other Novelets From Galaxy Science Fiction Magazine, Editor Horace Gold.

One Thing There Is To Say About How Language Evolution Helps Writers


If we know only one thing about the English language we’re probably counting wrong. Most of us know four things about English. Professors of English know even more. There are some who know well enough to explain to the lay audience six things. Still, one is the minimum number of things people know about the English language, if they know anything at all. And I’d like to see you get out of that one.

But one thing we know about the English language is that words change meaning. They often do this without warning, despite the custom that they do not do this without warning. That is, that they do it with warning. I’d like to see me get out of this one myself.

There are neat ways that words do change meaning. The most exciting way they change is through a graphitic fission. One thrilling example of this was in 1378. A team lead by Geoffrey Chaucer subjected the word “deer” to high-participle bombardment in a gerund-lined chamber. It split the word “deer” from its earlier meaning of “anything that isn’t a bird or fish but that people are still willing to eat, as long as it isn’t a plant or shoe”. All that remained was “Bambi-like life-form”. We’re left without a word for the earlier meaning of deer. We make do with the circumlocution “eh, I don’t feel like that” while standing in front of the fridge.

Still, the experiment was worth it. There were flurries of syntax over southern England for years, accelerating the evolution of the language. That’s not to say this is always without its perils. A 1752 attempt to fragment the word “meat” — applied back then to animal flesh, the innards of peaches, or large enough trees — resulted in war with Spain. In fairness, that sort of thing happened a lot in those days. Spain didn’t even know about the war for two more years. They just thought the English were being all snippy, again.

Another kind of word evolution is reverse mitosis. In this a word shoots out a cytoplasm-dissolving compound to envelop and absorb some other word’s definitions. The shorter words are better at this, wowing to surface tension. It might seem unfair to you that “run” has now taken over 80,954 distinct words and yet it doesn’t show any signs of breaking up. In fact, it is deeply unfair. There’s nothing we can do. But we aren’t expected to do anything either. That itself is a kind of relief.

And while this process can obliterate an old word, there’s no reason new words can’t join up. Any new conglomeration of letters can join the English language. The franchise fee is perhaps objectionably low. It hasn’t changed form its 1663 level of “five groat, a tuppence, and three cloves of onnyons”, which is obvious gibberish. A lost word can just re-form and try again. English is on like its fourth “gossip”, for example, and it’s not going to stop however hard we try.

Another bit of word evolution that’s a really hilarious freaking joke, guys, is protective camouflage. In this, we notice that a word means something. But if we actually meant that thing, whoever we called that would get angry and maybe slug us. So we use the word but get all arch and wry about it. This keeps other people from knowing whether they want to slug us or kiss us. The worst they’ll do is think we’re being witty. This frees up our time and saves us social anxiety. But it does mean that any word is at most three generations away from meaning the opposite of what it now means.

An awareness of this gives writers exciting new chances, though. Sentences are made up of words, I think you’ll agree. If you won’t then go ahead and make your argument. It won’t work, because every word in your argument will mutate to every possible meaning. I just have to look back at the right time and your literal words will mean what I want them to, so I win.

But the opportunity for writers. It’s hard finding the right words and stringing them along the right way. But it’s also unnecessary. Write absolutely anything and, someday, it’ll be what you wanted it to be. This should make all writers’ lives easier. It does not.

What My Brain Has Been Doing To Me Lately, A Quick Complaint


So my brain has been trying for two weeks now to convince me to write a follow-up note to that essay about the axe-throwing business in town. Particularly it wants me to riff on the “scurrilous rumor” that I have some responsibility for mysterious thuds outside Quality Dairy headquarters. My brain, which is working hard at making sure that I can be a humor blogger but never, ever a successful humor blogger, is convinced I should make some kind of squirrel joke here. This is because my brain is convinced I can do some oblique multi-lingual and taxonomic pun built on how scurrilous sounds kind of like “sciurrilous”, which seems like it ought to be a sciencey word for “squirrel”. And it will not be convinced otherwise. “Knock it off, brain,” I tell it, in the shower. “There is not a successful pun to be made out of this and you’ll only hurt yourself if you keep trying.” Then my love asks what I’m mumbling about in there, and I have to insist I’m not, and follow it up with an alarming coughing fit to cover up what I’m doing.

The punch line to this is there isn’t anywhere in the essay I talk about a “scurrilous rumor”. The first draft did, but I realized I had put the words without thinking, and rewrote the sentence to be better-considered easily minutes before deadline. So my brain’s been busy two weeks now trying to make me form a joke that could not possibly have worked in order to follow-up a joke that did not actually exist except for a couple-hour stretch of time on the 10th of January, 2019. I’m glad I have perfectly resisted the urge.

Statistics Saturday: Some Highfalutin Words And Their Better Alternatives


Highfalutin Word Better Alternative
multiple many
compartment bin, box
utilize use, make usable
systematize lose
initiate burn
harbinger warning
transpire distract, confound
adverse anthony
ubiquitous unavoidable
effluvium acetominophen
detrimental trimental [ “de” is here etymologically an intensifier to “trimental” and not, as carelessly assumed, a negation ]
hinder (as in to restrict, limit, or make worse) hinder (as in tuckus)
perpetuate paint
fluctuation fluctoid, inventory
eventuality [ best dropped altogether and never replaced ]
anomalous strawberry-flavored, bumpy, wiggly
dilettante Ben, at it again
fastidious plaid
ostracize ostrich-size
untenable not rounded off

Reference: A History of Mathematical Notations, Florian Cajori.

I Don’t Know Who’s Officially Writing Spider-Man Now


[ Edited the 28 of March, 2019 to add this. ] The newspaper comic strip is officially on hiatus. It’s showing reruns, for now, from 2014. The syndicate says that they are looking to put together a new creative team. I haven’t heard of one being hired, or auditioned, yet. I have some thoughts about the close of the comic strip’s run at this link.


Stan Lee has died. Many people have written better eulogies and retrospectives than I could for a man who was one of the most important writers and editors of comic books for like 14,680 years, going back to the discovery of pigments. It’s oversimplifying to say that if you think of a comic book, you think of something that was in part Stan Lee’s idea of what a comic book should be. But it’s a starting point toward truth.

What’s relevant around Another Blog, Meanwhile is: Stan Lee’s the credited author of the Amazing Spider-Man newspaper comic strip. What happens now that he’s died?

I don’t expect much. None of the people into the serious business of comic strips thought Stan Lee was literally writing the daily strips. I’d heard questions about whether he at least gave story ideas or overall direction, but never a clear answer that he particularly did, or didn’t. D D Degg, writing for The Daily Cartoonist about the retirement of artist Larry Leiber, mentioned “it is generally known that Roy Thomas is the ghost-writer” of the comic strip. Thomas didn’t start getting author credit when Leiber’s name dropped off the comics. Perhaps that will change.

Spider-Man, having stopped a car from crashing full-speed into a wall, fails to notice a cracked brick coming loose. It THONNKs him on the head, which *that* he notices.
Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Alex Saviuk’s Amazing Spider-Man for the 14th of March, 2007. I do not know whether Thomas was the ghost-writer for this 11-year-old installment or how much Lee was involved in this particular but very popular moment

I’m three weeks out from my scheduled recap of The Amazing Spider-Man. But I may bump that up to reflect what I assume will be reader interest in what’s going on there.


Also yes, I’ve heard the news about Alley Oop. I’m hoping to write something for that for Wednesday.

Statistics October: How Good It Is For Me When Longrunning Comic Strips End


Given the choice, I’d rather comic strips not end. Oh, there are strips I don’t like, even ones I won’t read. But for the most part, I like comics. I like them carrying on. I love it when a new creator comes in and revives a moribund property. But even something that’s just marking time is this comfortable, familiar friend for whom nothing exciting is happening, but nothing bad is happening either. And that’s consoling, especially in the face of a terrifying world.

So I expected the ending of Hazel and then Henry to bring readers here, since who else writes anything about either? Besides actual comic strip news sites. Still, people did come. Partly from the comic strip news. Partly spillover from my mathematics blog, which hosted the Playful Mathematics Education Blog Carnival at the end of September. Give that a try, please. You might find something delightful there. Here’s how the figures worked out, precisely:

3,070 views; 1,681 visitors. 1.83 views per visitor. 31 posts published. 99 page views, on average, per day.
Yes, I am thrilled to be back above three thousand page views for the first time in four months.

WordPress tells me of 3,070 page views in October. That’s way up from September’s 2,644 and August’s 2,848. These views came from 1,681 unique visitors, again way up from September’s 1,436 but basically level with August’s 1,619. Still, there were 173 likes submitted around here in October. That’s basically the same as September’s 174, August’s 180, and really every month going back to April. It’s been in a 165-to-180 range all this time now. I don’t know. The number of comments jumped, up to 67, the highest figure since March. September had 50 comments and August 39. I’m trying to be comfortable with people talking to me.

Comic strip talk made up the bulk of my readership. Part of this is comic strip endings or major changes. Part of this is story strips getting really confusing. Here’s the top five posts for October:

Yes, none of them actually published in October. My most popular thing actually published in October was In Which I Am Distracted By Ziggy For Crying Out Loud, a cry of despair provoked by paying too much attention to the art one strip. I had a lot of well-liked short pieces, by the way, possibly because I got into this good groove of having an amusing trifle and being able to put it down in 150 words. My most popular long-form piece was, like, the 814th most popular thing around here last month. That was Regarding The Time When I Had Too Much Desiccant, showing that what really amuses people is me somehow having problems with petty stuff.

Here by the way is my schedule for upcoming What’s Going On In The Story Strip posts. Subject to change if some fast-breaking news breakfasts:

I also have another seven weeks of recaps of The Stan Freberg Show to run. Don’t think I’m not already panicked about what to write about after that.

Now for the running of the countries. There were 69 countries, if you count the European Union as one and Trinidad & Tobago as one other. And Bosnia & Herzegovina as another one. In August and September there were 60 such countries. In August and September there were 16 single-reader countries. In October? 17. So I’m clearly in a growth spiral here. Here’s the roster:

Country Readers
United States 2,329
Australia 140
Canada 96
United Kingdom 54
Spain 53
India 47
Italy 31
Philippines 26
Germany 24
Japan 19
Brazil 18
Mexico 17
Hong Kong SAR China 16
Netherlands 13
Romania 13
France 12
Saudi Arabia 11
Sweden 10
Belgium 9
Finland 9
Denmark 7
Sri Lanka 7
Colombia 6
Pakistan 6
South Africa 6
Ireland 4
New Zealand 4
Norway 4
Peru 4
Singapore 4
Taiwan 4
China 3
Czech Republic 3
Latvia 3
Malaysia 3
Slovenia 3
Thailand 3
Zimbabwe 3
Chile 2
Ecuador 2
European Union 2
Greece 2
Indonesia 2
Nigeria 2
Poland 2
Russia 2
Serbia 2
Slovakia 2
South Korea 2
Turkey 2
Ukraine 2
Vietnam 2
Argentina 1
Austria 1
Bahrain 1
Bangladesh 1 (*)
Bosnia & Herzegovina 1
Croatia 1
Curaçao 1
Cyprus 1
El Salvador 1
Estonia 1
Kazakhstan 1
Luxembourg 1
Madagascar 1
Maldives 1
St Lucia 1
Suriname 1
Trinidad & Tobago 1

Bangladesh was a single-reader country in September. No other countries were, though, and no country’s sent me a single reader each month for three months running now.

According to Insights, by the end of October I had published 195,599 total words in 304 posts for the year. This is 643 words per post total, on average. I had been averaging 641 words per post at the start of October. There were 18,418 words published around here in October, over 31 posts. That’s up a little bit from September’s total, although really only because there were only 30 September posts. Huh. Anyway, I’ve had 742 total comments for the year, as of the start of November. 2.4 comments per post this year up from 2.3 at the start of October. 6.1 likes, on average, per post, the same number as at the start of October. 1,844 total likes so far this year, by the way, if you wondered.

November opened with the blog having had a total of 102,048 page views, from 56,394 unique visitors. And yes, I reached my 100,000th page view this past month, and celebrated it with a special Statistics Saturday post.

If you’d like to follow Another Blog, Meanwhile, please do. You can add it to your WordPress reader. You can add it by RSS reader, using whatever tool you like to read my content, and maybe even get the versions with the dumb typoes and grammatical errors not corrected out. And if you’d like to see me on social media, that’s your business. But I’m @Nebusj on Twitter, so that’s an option. Choose wisely.

The Stan Freberg Show: The Second Episode; Meet A The Abominable Snowman


Archive.org has this really nice system to embed media in other pages. Both videos and audio files. The scheme works really well if there’s a single file on the archive.org host page. If there’s multiple files on the page, though — if it’s an archive page with whole collection of something, like, every episode of a radio series — then it gets harder. The simple “Share This Item” link gives code that shares the whole collection. And that defaults to the first item in the collection. A bit of URL hacking can fix that. But I’m never completely sure I’m doing it right. So if you play this, and it’s just last week’s episode again, please let me know. I’ll try fixing it.

So here’s the rundown for this episode, from the 21st of July, 1957:

Start Time Sketch
00:00 Cold Open. Stan Freberg interrupts one of his own comedy records again; only the one, this time. This record is “John and Marsha”, his first comedy record. The original is a story, in which a woman says “John” and a man answers “Marsha”, and that’s basically it. The comedy’s all in the structure; for me, it works. But that’s also why the interrupting Freberg saying they have a lot to say to each other is a punch line.
00:40 Opening Theme. So now you see how this quiet bit of customization is going to go.
01:30 Interview with the Abominable Snowman. This instance of the Abominable Snowman turns out to be ten and a half feet tall and wears size 23 sneakers. I do, really, have a friend with enormously long feet in real life and I’m not sure they don’t wear size 23. Not quite that tall, though. The narrator’s introduction about how the show “goes everywhere, sees everything, does everyone” riffs on newsreel hype.
08:00 Great Moments In History: the story behind Barbara Fritchie. Quick little sketch based on a poem that I only know because of a Rocky and Bullwinkle sketch, this bit, and a sketch from the Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America albums. The sketch shows that sort of cheery, lightly cynical existentialism that at least I see all over cartoons of the era.
09:15 Song. Peggy Taylor sings “Birth of the Blues”.
13:00 Carving A New Statue At Mount Rushmore. Absurdist bit about carving a 400-foot oleomargarine statue. The sort of sketch you can only do on radio or the cartoons. Mary Mararet McBride did a daily housewife-advice chat show on radio for decades, including what sounds like an admirably eclectic line of interview subjects. This sounds all respectable enough, although by 1957 she’d been on the air for roughly a quarter-century. Likely she served well as an old-enough-to-be-square reference. My favorite line is the carver declaring of someone, “I hate her but she’s a lovely girl”.
16:00 Wrong number. The major sketch this piece, without the political energy of last week’s Incident at Los Voraces. It’s a simple slow-build, slow-burn sketch where a onetime common accident just keeps getting bigger. My favorite line is its most instantly dated, the man declaring he’s so tired he “wouldn’t go out to see Davey Crockett wrestle Marilyn Monroe”.
23:50 Stephen Foster Medley. Is there any dated comic premise more wonderfully dated than the late-50s/early-60s hate-on-rock-and-roll bit? I say there is only if you divide the early-60s-hate-on-the-Beatles into its own genre. This sketch revives a record-producer character from Freberg’s record “Sh-Boom”, mentioned early on, who’d helped a recording get to true modern greatness by avoiding problems like the audience being able to make out a word the singers were performing. This is the same premise, doing a rock-and-roll version of Stephen Foster songs. It’s more cleverly done than funny, and I don’t think just because Freberg writes for clever. Nor because the premise is hilariously dated, embedded as it is in a moment when American popular music styles changed to what is still the default mode, and writing from the perspective of the now-obsolete styles. I think Freberg (or his writers) got caught in an authenticity trap. They got so committed to making plausible arrangements that, actually, “Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair” set to the tune of “Rag Mop” works. I’ve been caught in this kind of authenticity trap myself. I suspect it’s caused by certain nerd personality traits. Particular strains of cleverness and industriousness and perfectionism can combine to where the goal becomes executing an idea perfectly. It’s easy to forget that you haven’t developed or escalated the idea past the original premise.
28:00 Closing Remarks. No teaser for next week; the first episode said the Barbara Fritchie bit would be here.

The Stan Freberg Show: The First Episode


So my big idea what to do next was The Stan Freberg Show. This ran from the 14th of July through the 20th of October, 1957. It was a half-hour sketch-comedy show. And it ran after The Jack Benny Show, Sunday nights at 7:30 Eastern. Or, at least, it ran after reruns of the The Jack Benny Show. By 1957 the United States broadcast networks were shutting down scripted fiction radio. They wanted people to be watching television, with better advertising revenues, instead. By 1962 the last entertainment shows of this kind were off the air. There’ve been attempts to bring scripted fiction radio back. But it’s never lasted.

The Stan Freberg Show‘s interesting for being one of the last major original new programs. It’s built around Freberg, a writer and performer of wit and musical talent and a sort of gentle anger that everybody’s a fool. He’d become a voice actor on arriving in Hollywood. You might know him from the classic Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies as the male voice actor who isn’t Mel Blanc. (Or the guy who did Elmer Fudd.) In the early 50s he started recording comedy albums, many of them spoofs of popular music. My generation may know him best through a long-running commercial featuring him and his son, who had a report due on space, then he got the new Encyclopedia Brittanica, something that he thinks he made … abundantly clear.

So let me take a quick look over these shows. Here’s the first, originally aired the 14th of July, 1957.

Running down the sketches:

  • 00:00. Cold Open. Short bits from several of Freberg’s musical comedy albums, which start talking to one another and back to the “real” Stan Freberg. Good reminder to an audience that might know they remember this voice from somewhere, but not where.
  • 01:31. Opening Theme. We’ll come back to the lyrics.
  • 02:15. Opening Remarks. When Stan Freberg says “Goodnight, folks” and they start playing Hooray for Hollywood, it’s riffing on Jack Benny’s closing theme.
  • 03:00. Musical Sheep. A surprisingly Muppet Show-ready sketch, based on whalloping sheep to play a tune. It’s got me idly curious just how far back the “hitting animals to make music” bit goes. I suppose at least as far back as bones were used for percussion instruments. It’s also got me a bit surprised that Freberg — a puppeteer on top of everything else — didn’t ever guest-host the Muppet Show.
  • 07:15. Freberg’s Fable: Incident At Los Voraces. So, back in like 1995, The Dana Carvey Show opened its brief run as a prime-time sketch-comedy show with a bit where Carvey, as President Bill Clinton, breast-feeds live kittens. Long after the show’s cancellation one of the writers, I think Dino Stamatopoulos, described to Conan O’Brien how they had ratings reports, broken down by six-second intervals, and could just watch the size of the audience plummeting before they even got to the opening credits. Prime-time sketch-comedy was always a long shot. But it’s easy to imagine the show might have had a better chance had they opened with This Week With David Brinkley On A Roller Coaster.

    So, this sketch. I’m not saying it’s bad. It’s kind of wild. It builds off something already crazy, Texas Oil Millionaires. In the 40s and 50s, when not funding insane right-wing paranoia, they’d also build ludicrously oversized hotels, often in Las Vegas. To turn that into a parable about atomic war, though — that’s getting crazy.

    It’s earnest, certainly. It shows a desire to say something important about the most important thing there was to talk about. Along the way it has a bunch of great exaggerated jokes. The woman hoping to swim across the hotel pool, accompanied by naval escort, fits the American tall-tale comedy tradition. (It also reminds me, at least, of a commercial Freberg did for his own ability to make radio commercials. As a stunt for it, he would drain the Great Lakes, fill them with hot chocolate, and have a fleet of fighter jets cover them with whipped cream a mile deep, in under eight seconds, and try getting a spectacle like that on television.) The suggestion of airlifting a chunk of the Israel-Egypt border, and hosting a war for entertainment, is audacious. I’m still not sure if it’s in good enough taste for the laugh it earns. Still, it’s working at being crazy big. And there’s a lot of bits along the way that are wonderfully weird, like the Inaugurieties of 1960. Or that Rock-and-Roll-Romeo bit.

    But it’s also a twenty minute sketch about a pair of Las Vegas hotels that blow each other up. It’s well-made satire. But it’s grim stuff. I think the best you can say at the end of the sketch is, well, I’m not such a short-sighted fool as to use a neutron bomb for a firework. I’m more intelligent than the idiots of this world. It’s cold comfort, even if you’re completely sure of yourself.

    I can’t say this sketch killed the show at its start. I don’t know anything about how it was received at the time. I can say my reaction to this. I’ve listened to this episode a couple times. And my reaction was, oh gads, I already feel bad enough. This might be environmental. I don’t remember the sketch feeling quite as forlorn when I listened to it a couple years ago, before the current hyperfire started. Still, credit to the show for wanting to say something.

Did you notice the mention of Lawrence Welk?