Sometimes a phrase just jumps off the page and, even if it doesn’t rise to the level of art, it still does a splendid job of getting all up in your grill. “A nasty-lookin’ white loner” is just such a phrase. It conjures up images of maladjusted babblers and mumbling junkies. It brings to mind unapologetic groomaphobes with three-day-old stubble and somewhat greasy hair. And it shocks with its injection of race as a primary descriptor of the downtrodden. Combine the “nasty-lookin’ white loner” phrase with a look of knee-jerk disgust, and you’ve got a panel that seems like it was designed to provoke.
Archive for the ‘One Big Happy’ Category
I’m no fan of redundancies, but sometimes they prove necessary. This strip, for example, coaxes major mileage out of the phrase “filthy dirty.” A “filthy” bathroom might house all kinds of disturbing stains and unpleasant odors. A “dirty” bathroom might be home to inches and inches of grime; the kind of light-gray sheen that just begs for a power washing. But a “filthy dirty” bathroom? That would truly be a house of horrors, a test of endurance for the weary Interstate traveler, a water closet of last resort.
I haven’t had a dog in 25 years, but I’m pretty sure they haven’t changed since the mid-’80s. If that’s the case, then we can be reasonably certain that a dog wouldn’t acquiesce to being tucked in at night. If my lazy, lazy cat is too fidgety to sleep anywhere but his spot at the foot of the bed; if he resists all efforts to drag him up toward the soft, soft pillows; then an excitable puppy would probably be even less compliant. That’s why panel two of this strip seems…off. No self-respecting pooch would sit still while an excitable child pulled a blanket toward his chin.
I’ve only gone sledding twice in my life. The first time was as a child, when my friends and I climbed a small slope that led from our back alley to a set of train tracks. (Fences have since been erected, making that slope inaccessible.) The second time was as a college student, when I visited a friend’s dorm in Wisconsin. I piled onto a small sled with a large group of strangers and raced down a hill, eventually smashing into a tree. Looking back, neither of these adventures were safe. They also took place without the benefit of a Sha-Nay-Nay Sled, which is a shame.
If you walk through downtown Chicago, you’ll notice hundreds of signs that read, “Caution: Falling Ice.” Our litigious society demands that building owners warn pedestrians about the dangers dangling above their heads, but for all intents and purposes, these signs are useless. Sure, an icicle falling from a skyscraper could cause serious damage. It could even kill a person, but there’s no way to guard against such an event. Even if you’re aware of the possibility of falling ice, there are no steps you can take to avoid it. Using an umbrella would be insufficient, easing yourself toward the street would be inadequate, and walking with your head constantly craned toward the sky would be impractical. Nothing can save a person from a speeding chunk of ice, not even a starkly worded sign.
The World Series starts tonight and I find myself rooting for the San Francisco Giants. The team has a lot of things going for it: a stellar pitching staff, a funky closer with an amazing beard, and a fan base that’s waited years for a championship. The Giants are also a National League team and, all things being equal, I tend to root for the National League. But those positives only barely outweigh the sordid history they have with Barry Bonds, baseball’s illegitimate home run king. Of course, few (if any) teams have managed to avoid the taint of steroids. The Giants’ opponent, the Texas Rangers, employed Rafael Palmiero for 10 seasons. My favorite team, the Chicago Cubs, duped its fans into rooting for Sammy Sosa. Even the generally clean Chicago White Sox, whose best slugger, Frank Thomas, spoke out against steroids, sullied themselves by allowing unrepentant steroid cheats like Jose Conseco and Manny Ramirez to don the uniform.
Snakes are mean or, at the very least, unpredictable. But how they react to provocation isn’t particularly hard to describe. Depending on the snake, it might slither away through the grass, lunge at the finger of its antagonist, or rise up eerily from a coiled position. It might focus its eyes, bear its fangs, or stick out its forked tongue But can you blame snakes, especially captive snakes, for being grumpy? If I were trapped in a glass box with a small amount of stale water and a painted backdrop, I would have a short tempter, too. And if someone started tapping said box, I’m sure I’d make a face.