I’ll say this for today’s Pluggers: it’s managed, without having heard of any of the bands, to put together an actually realistic summer concert series lineup, in the sense that it runs the gamut from relatively popular, relatively current acts (Animal Collective) through jam bands that had a minor mainstream breakthrough years ago but have been touring the festival circuit more or less nonstop both before and since (Rusted Root) to bands that were popular in the early ’90s and subsequently broke up but then a subset of the original members gained legal control of the band’s name and now are cashing in with a bunch of new people (Color Me Badd). We’ve rounded out the list with two separate bands who were apparently mistaken for one (Slightly Stoopid and SOJA, who are touring together this summer) and, apparently, just to stick it to know-it-alls like me, the truly obscure “Kongas,” which as near as I can tell was the name under which Marc Cerrone, an “Italofrench disco drummer, composer, record producer and creator of major concert shows,” released a couple of albums in the late ’70s. I guess it’s probably more likely that this is a mistake for Kongos, a band that’s in that first category with Animal Collective, but I want to believe that we’re talking Italofrench disco drummer here.
Mary Worth, 7/14/16
Oh man, it looks like Tommy’s upcoming opioid addiction’s going to arise from a bad interaction between a lower back injury … and broken heart. I guess this is why you shouldn’t start dating someone before you start growing your hair back out. The relationship begins under false pretenses. They won’t know the real you.
Family Circus, 7/14/16
Mommy’s grim facial expression tells us exactly what she thinks of the MPAA’s censorious reign of prudery and its effect on film as an art form. “More like a Profoundly Grotesque stifling of cinema’s ability to shock us out of our comfort zones,” she thinks, glowering at her hopelessly middlebrow children.
Mary Worth, 7/13/16
The Sad Story Of Tommy’s Back Problems could’ve gotten into some interesting socioeconomic territory, examining how someone who works as a janitor at a small business, almost certainly without employer-provided health insurance or sick days, deals with an injury that, while not permanently debilitating, would keep him from working for a period of time. Instead, we’re real concerned about how this will affect Tommy’s relationship with his coworker/girlfriend, who apparently only sees him at work, and who will quickly forget he even exists if he doesn’t show up, so I guess we’re going to get some comical scenes of Tommy trying to operate a mop while doped to the gills on Vicodin. “I don’t want my girl to forget what I look like!” he says, while staring into the mirror, determined that he won’t forget what he looks like either. Poor Tommy seems to think he has a very forgettable face.
One of Prague’s biggest tourist attractions is the New Synagogue, so called because when it was built in the 1270s it took over the position as the city’s main synagogue from other, even older houses of worship. Now I’ve encountered (and even perpetrated) some ugly-American-abroad-isms in my time, but I’m willing to bet that exactly zero American visitors see the place and say “Whoa whoa whoa, this place is super old. I want to see something new, like the name implies. Gimme some poured concrete, an injection-molded facade over over plywood frame, the whole nine yards. I didn’t come all the way to Europe to see something historic.” And yet we are meant to believe that Marvin’s family is reacting exactly thus! Each strip seems intent on making sure we understand that Marvin isn’t uniquely terrible, but instead comes from a deep and ancient lineage of badness.
Despite the fact that he’s being played by known Briton Benedict Cumberbatch in the upcoming film, good ol’ Steve Strange is in fact 100% American, as he seems to be going out of his way to make clear here. “Yep, those Yankees, they sure play in the World Series a lot! The World Series is the championship of Major League Baseball, a sport that I, like most ordinary Americans, enjoy following. Please do not hunt me down and burn me at the stake due to my practice of sinister witchcraft, the techniques of which I mastered in the mysterious Orient.”
At first I assumed “demon” was just another cute pet name Greg uses for his eldest son, but no, check out the devil horns Curtis is flashing in that last panel. I think we need to make our peace with the fact that Curtis created a flash mob using the demonic powers granted to him thanks to his allegiance to the Lord of Lies, the King of Hell, whose affection for millennials is well known.
A lot of people have asked me, in so many words, “Josh, man, what’s your deal with Pluggers? Do you hate Real America?” Not at all! What I do have a problem with, though, is an attitude that I think that Pluggers has slowly over the years shifted into showcasing, which is that many people who consider themselves residents of Real America (which is, it goes without saying, a cultural and psychological attitude rather than a geographical location) are just better at everything than other people. I say this because the strip less often depicts cultural folkways or life’s little foibles and more just basic life skills. Like today’s panel! Pluggers: they sure now how to manage their urinary processes! Speaking as a big-city liberal and resident of godless Hollyweird, let me assure you: we too know how to go pee-pee in a toilet. So do terrorists! I’m willing to guess that at some point in a terrorist’s training program, they get advice on always making sure to go to the bathroom before embarking on a mission that ends in an act of horrific violence, so they don’t get distracted. What I’m trying to say, pluggers, is that you should either focus on what really sets you apart, or maybe just acknowledge that non-pluggers are in fact humans like you, who breathe oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide and, yes, go to bathroom in advance.
Mary Worth, 7/6/16
Thank goodness for health care market innovations like urgent care clinics, which have created grades of service that can work around anybody’s irrational phobias! “No hospital!” “His father died in the hospital. Most people die in hospitals, because most people die after getting sick or being injured, and hospitals are where people go when they’re sick or injured. Tommy’s scared of them.” “Tommy, would you like to go to a health care facility for sick or injured people that has a different name?” “Sure, sounds great!”