For me, the question is not whether I can make ethical decisions, but whether I can make ethical decisions under duress. Any of us can display courage and moral integrity while sitting on our sofas, but what would we do if an ethical problem presented itself in the real world? What would we do if there was an element of danger, or if we witnessed a mugging? If the mugger didn’t seem like he posed much of a threat, I might intervene. If he had a weapon, I might call the cops. And if there were two or more muggers, I might scream for help from my fellow Samaritans. I might do any of those things, but in reality I’d be just as likely to stop dead in my tracks, unable to process the moral implications until the threat of physical harm had passed.
Archive for the ‘Deflocked’ Category
On the bottom shelf of my pantry sits a box of gingerbread pancake mix that’s just waiting to be made. One of these Sundays, I’ll get up early and whip up a batch of breakfast goodies on the griddle; in fact, the only reason I haven’t yet is that my wife refuses to eat the perfectly good blueberry syrup that I use to flavor my pancakes. She insists on maple syrup. No matter, I’ll add it to the grocery list along with deli-cut bacon and a fresh container of milk. Amazing breakfast, here I come.
Today’s Deflocked veers dangerously into emo territory with its depiction of a melancholy boy pouring his heart out to a beached baby whale. “Poor, dehydrated whale,” the boy sighs, his ennui hanging like a blanket of gray clouds above a cold, wet afternoon. “This world has forsaken us both. We are wretched, neglected souls who feel deeply the crush of the thousand muddy boots that stomp us into submission, day after dreary day.” To which the parched whale replies, “pfft,” a sputter so achingly pathetic and singularly strained that it makes the very air around him weep with sadness.
What is the statute of limitations for New Year’s resolutions? Three months? One month? One week? Forty-eight hours? I’m hoping it’s longer than that, since my New Year’s resolution is to finally – no excuses this time – write a novel. At approximately the same time millions of people head to their local gyms to burn calories (and membership dollars), I’ll head to my desk to write chapter after chapter of prose. I have an idea. I have two main characters. I even have a rough plot outline. Now all I need to do is write.
Oh, hell no. At a time when most comics are content to show Christmas trees or, in a few more radical instances, allude to Jesus, Deflocked decides to go all fire and brimstone on us. The strip’s reference to damnation is jarring, to say the least. Consider the messages one typically hears during the holidays: shop, hang lights, celebrate family, embrace a vague spirituality, shop some more. The cynical among us see a bonanza of crass commercialism while the sentimental among us see a community connected by hope, faith, and the possibility of redemption. Only the truly twisted among us see a righteous hand from heaven that forces us to choose between a difficult (if ultimately rewarding) path and hellfire.
I’ve always struggled to come up with clever Halloween costumes. As a child, I dressed up as Homey the Clown from the TV show, In Living Color, but was unable to adopt a gruff, cynical demeanor to go along with my multicolored wig. As an adult, I fashioned myself after a Red Eye newspaper box but nobody except me found the commuter rag’s soundbite-driven style of journalism to be particularly scary. Needless to say, I’ve never come up with anything as cool as Captain Bubblewrap. I suppose I could steal the costume from the dog in this strip, but I’m sure my only reward would be an evening of pinching and giggling at the hands of friends and acquaintances.
When I was a teenager, I helped my grandfather renovate several rooms in his house, including the upstairs bathroom, the downstairs bathroom and two bedrooms. We also worked on a lot of smaller projects around the house. Whenever my grandfather needed a hammer, however, he would as me to hand him the hammerfore. “What’s a hammerfore?” I would ask. “For hammering nails,” he would say with a smirk. You might think the joke would have gotten old after a while, but to this day I refer to my hammer as a hammerfore without the slightest hint of sarcasm.