Thousands of linguists (and other grammar nerds) have fretted over texting, arguing that its reliance on sentence fragments, abbreviations, and emoticons demeans the English language. I’m sympathetic to these arguments, but they don’t capture the aspect of texting that bothers me the most. What really gets on my nerves is the frequency with which texters either ignore or fail to adequately answer their messages. But let’s give texters some credit. They may be so accustomed to reading banal, poorly worded messages that their responses have become equally dumbed down. Which came first, the weakly worded question or the wishy-washy answer? That’s like asking which came first, the chicken or the egg?
Archive for the ‘Rudy Park’ Category
A few days after moving into my house, I found myself rummaging through a remote control caddy and was astonished by the amount of junk buried in the slots. In addition to a single remote control, there was also an old promotional medallion, a ballpoint pen, a set of tags attached to a pet collar, and an inordinate number of hair bands. But the real find was an old, forgotten tube of lip balm. At first I was excited to find the long-lost tube, but that feeling dissipated once I discovered the dust and cat hair sticking to the balm itself. I wisely threw the tube in the garbage.
I am not a morning person. It takes me a good hour-and-a-half from the time my alarm rings to the time I feel fully awake. And while I wouldn’t characterize myself as crabby, I have very little patience for people who burst my groggy bubble early in the morning. Casual conversation tends to irritate me; insults, as the married man in this strip requests from his wife, would be unbearable. But all is not gloomy in the a.m. After I shave, shower, get dressed, read my newspaper, sip a cup of green tea, and scarf a bowl of oatmeal, I feel ready for almost anything.
I’m not one who’s given to crude interpretations of things (or at least not to sharing those crude interpretations in public) but the second-to-last panel of this strip is…suggestive. To be absolutely clear, the lumpy silhouette of the radio host looks like a turd. The small storm cloud of frustration above her head does nothing to diminish this impression, as it can easily be interpreted as a stink line. At best, her figure looks like a turd with a head, but unfortunately a turd with a head is still, partially, a turd.
Following the heath care debate in Congress has been frustrating for me, so much so that I’m tempted to tune out entirely. What bothers me is not the direction of the bill so much as the process of crafting it. A new government-run entity that will compete with private insurers? Allowing people age 55 and older to purchase coverage through Medicare? These are significant proposals that have cycled in and out of the bill not on merit, but as a means to secure votes. At this late hour, it seems like the strategy of Congressional leaders is not to craft a bill that will improve our health care system, but to craft a bill that will win the support of holdout Senators and that strikes me as incredibly distasteful.
When I’m not reading, clipping or commenting on comics, I sometimes wonder what the future holds for this newspaper-dependent industry. Cartoonists Theron Heir and Darrin Bell have been thinking about the future as well; specifically, the future of their comic strip, Rudy Park. I was surprised to read on their website, for example, that “newspaper closings and bankruptcies have cut in half the already modest amount [Heir and Bell] make for writing and drawing Rudy Park.”
That’s pretty sobering, and it makes me wonder how comics fans can support their favorite cartoonists. I personally subscribe to both of Chicago’s high-circulation newspapers, although I realize that makes me part of a dying breed. I also paid for a subscription to Comics.com until they inexplicably decided to make themselves a free service. (Coincidentally, this is how I continue to read Rudy Park on a daily basis.)
Another point Heir and Bell bring up on their website is that cartoonists can’t earn a living when their work is distributed on the Internet for free. That brings to mind the rapidly sinking music industry, but it also makes me wonder whether web comics could ever be a viable business model. When a musician puts his music on MySpace for free, he can entice listeners to buy T-shirts or come to a live performance. When a cartoonist puts his comic strip on the web for free, what else does he have to sell? A coffee mug? A collection of reprints? An advertisement or sponsorship? None of those options are particularly lucrative.
It may be that Heir and Bell have decided the diminishing financial returns on their strip are no longer worth the time and effort they put into it. Both men have other jobs, after all; Heir as a journalist for the New York Times and Bell as the creator of the excellent strip, Candorville. Maybe Rudy Park will find a way to draw paid viewers to its website for “premium” content. Or maybe it will end up as a side project that had a good run, but was destined to fall by the wayside. If that’s the case, I can only hope it won’t be a harbinger of other strips collapsing under various financial pressures.
I’m not sure why there needs to be a conflict between mainstream and independent film when both camps have something valid to offer. My favorite movies of 2009 have been the decidedly mainstream Up (which tells the story of a man hitching his house to balloons and flying to an exotic South American locale in order to fulfill a promise to his dearly departed wife) and the easy-to-miss Azur & Azmar (which tells the story of two brothers who yearn for the love of a mythic fairy imprisoned in a far-away land). Both movies are gorgeously animated and completely inspiring. If I were rigid in my movie-going choices, I would have almost certainly missed one of these masterpieces, and for no good reason at that.