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Possibly the geekiest post ever on this blog

Mark Trail, 6/5/11

It’s not often that Mark Trail sends me on an etymological adventure, but now the hunt is on! I was very suspicious that the loon was the ultimate origin of the word “loony,” and sure enough, a quick trip to the dictionary shows that it’s actually a 19th century slang abbreviation for “lunatic,” which, as the spelling implies, is derived from the Latin luna, or moon, since it was once believed that the phases of the moon affected mental states. I had assumed that “loon” as a synonym for crazy person shared the same derivation, but that seems murkier; the dictionary says it is in fact derived from the name of the bird (though “perhaps influenced by loony”), but has the bird’s name’s etymology somewhat different from the one Mark offers, deriving it from an Old Norse word for diver. Anyway, you might not enjoy sleuthing after word origins as much as I do, but surely this trip through the English language’s past has distracted you from that white-headed loon’s terrifying searing red eye blazing out at you soullessly from the final panel of this strip.

Crock, 6/5/11

Oh, look, Crock is celebrating the anniversary of D-Day! Isn’t that nice! Apparently the French Legionnaires of Crock are actually Vichy collaborators fighting for the Nazis? And they’re stationed in some desert section of Northern France? Eh, sure, why not, makes as much sense as anything else.

Dennis the Menace, 6/5/11

If Dennis is trying to up his menacing quotient, I’d say that staring at the Wilsons’ house through a fence for hours in eerie silence is doing a pretty good job of it!

72 responses to “Possibly the geekiest post ever on this blog”

  1. Wayward
    June 5th, 2011 at 11:55 pm [Reply]

    Apparently Mr Wilson only painted the holes in the fence.

  2. Baka Gaijin
    June 5th, 2011 at 11:55 pm [Reply]

    Hagar the Horrible: “Makes you stop and think, doesn’t it?” Yes, Hagar, it should make you think of why you haven’t drawn your sword and lopped off her ungrateful bitch-head years ago, then tossed it in the air as if you’d just graduated.

    Mary Worth: Continuity error or something more sinister? The scene-stealing “Happy Birthday Balloon of Happiness” has transmogrified into the scene-stealing “Happy Birthday Sign of Love.”

    Slylock Fox Mystery: My answer would be to get Count Weirdly to shine his massive laser at the cooler. It has to be more useful than zapping neighbors’ flowers.

  3. Wayward
    June 5th, 2011 at 11:56 pm [Reply]

    … Or it was a spray-through thing because I missed the first panel. Go me.

  4. Mark B
    June 5th, 2011 at 11:57 pm [Reply]

    Dammit, when you said it was the geekiest post ever, I was expecting the punch line to be “GOTO considered harmful.” I’m crestfallen.

  5. Artist formerly known as Ben
    June 5th, 2011 at 11:58 pm [Reply]


    HOTC: Poor Dean. He had to go to the park on the same day Lucy can’t pull the football away fast enough.

    FW: Oh hell, Les was at his most appealing when he was cribbing lines from Henry M. Stanley, which makes the whole thing even more baffling.

    Phantom: Chatu has been exiled to Sunday, I see.

    HtH: The Horribles out-Lockhorn the Lockhorns.

    DtM: Wonder if inhaling paint fumes will make him more menacing, or just sleepy.

    JP: Am I seeing wrong, or would Ms St John have to let go of the fire escape and levitate back up to the roof to take Judge Emeritus Parker’s hand? Kinda defeats the purpose.

    Baldo: Having sex with another man’s car is a great way to get hurt, Baldo.

    Archie: I knew Pat Paulsen was always running for office, but I didn’t realize he’d actually won.

    S-M: Yeah, have sex with your wife first and try to help people tomorrow. Baby steps, Parker.

    DT: Ordinarily a man with shoulder-length hair would be dead meat the minute he walked into Dick’s squadroom. Apparently the rules are different for guys from Hawaii. All these little nuances are so fascinating.

  6. Baka Gaijin
    June 5th, 2011 at 11:58 pm [Reply]

    @Old School Allie Cat (#Y195): When that UK DVD player breaks, go to Walmart or Kroger and pick up the cheapo no-name player. They’re usually all-region even though the box doesn’t say so. As someone with discs from 4 regions, it’s a lifesaver. A non-Mac with VLC player will ignore regions, too.

  7. S. Stout
    June 5th, 2011 at 11:59 pm [Reply]

    Dennis’s mom needs to tone down the makeup a little. She’s looking like a Raggedy Ann doll.

  8. Artist formerly known as Ben
    June 5th, 2011 at 11:59 pm [Reply]

    Josh on Crock: I believe the Vichy collaborators part easily enough.

  9. Uncle Lumpy
    June 6th, 2011 at 12:09 am [Reply]

    Once when my kids and I were fishing in northern Wisconsin, a loon popped up not five feet from the boat. The Science Museum of Minnesota once had a live exhibit of nesting loons, and it was awesome. Loon calls at night are scary.

    Thus ends the tale of Lumpies and loons.

  10. Nekrotzar
    June 6th, 2011 at 12:09 am [Reply]

    On top of everything else, we are supposed to believe that the soldiers in Crock have access to the highly secret documents detailing in advance the exact date of the most important military operation of the entire twentieth century, but do not have access to a compass.

  11. Rocky Stoneaxe
    June 6th, 2011 at 12:12 am [Reply]

    He’s looney… and he’s daffy… and he’s delicious?

  12. ElkMeadow
    June 6th, 2011 at 12:26 am [Reply]

    Arlo and Janis also had a D-Day strip, such as it was.

  13. Frank Lee Meidere
    June 6th, 2011 at 12:29 am [Reply]

    @Uncle Lumpy (#Y227): Great link. Thanks.

  14. Walker of Dog
    June 6th, 2011 at 12:30 am [Reply]

    @S. Stout (#7): In panel #7, it appears that Mrs. Mitchell is using makeup to cover up a contusion she received at Suburban Fight Club. Which might also explain her severed torso in panel #6.

  15. ElkMeadow
    June 6th, 2011 at 12:31 am [Reply]

    Of course Liza’s not hearing what you’re saying. She’s thinking, “It’s not ‘you and I’–it’s suppose to be ‘you and me’.”

    Or however that punctuation works.


    Another garage story arc. It really gets me how happy June is about Dex’s humiliation, about taking the boat back. But she and Berna are BFF, and neither can do any wrong in each other’s eyes.

  16. K. Ivan Ruppert
    June 6th, 2011 at 12:37 am [Reply]

    I suspect that Dennis’ mom is only mad at Dennis for this because his spying makes it easier for them to catch HER spying, when she’s so close to catching those no-doubt immoral, pinko elderly miscreants red-handed doing SOMETHING scandalous!

  17. Bill Thompson
    June 6th, 2011 at 12:41 am [Reply]

    Is this Unclear On The Concept Theme Week?

    The Amusing Spiderman: “He didn’t waste any time.” Unless you count the non-events in this arc.

    Phantom: Bleed, will you!

    FW: It’s called “sympathy,” Batiuk. Even for someone who dislikes this strip in general and Louse in particular, it’s unpleasant to see his alleged friend mock him.

    Crock: An objective observer wouldn’t sit there wide-eyed in fright. He’d sit there with a bored glaze in his eyes, like one of the readers.

    (YesterCrock: Maybe the cannonball is from the Torch landings in November of 1942. If anyone would side with Darlan, it would be Crock. And if anyone got the dates and artillery wrong, it would be this strip.)

  18. Mark B
    June 6th, 2011 at 12:46 am [Reply]

    Ah, I get it. ‘Lattice Spray’ is a benediction. ‘Let Us Pray’ … almost.

    Ha … ha … ha … um heh?

    Wow, when a joke in DtM is almost too subtle for me to get, I start worrying about early Alzheimer’s onset.

  19. Space Monkey
    June 6th, 2011 at 1:09 am [Reply]

    If you’re standing on a ledge, and someone named Parker is trying to keep you from falling…you may as well just jump and get it over with.

  20. zenvelo
    June 6th, 2011 at 1:17 am [Reply]

    You might have thought Laurel and Hardy could have brought a block of ice when they visited Camelot in Prince Valiant today.

  21. Poteet
    June 6th, 2011 at 1:22 am [Reply]


    FW — Back in ancient times, I’d like to think that the gods and goddesses would be fighting over who got to kill Les.

    MT — You could also mention the poaching, Mark. You know, poaching? As in “illegal” and “unethical”? As in “most normal outdoor writers would mention the poaching without being reminded”?

  22. MahonToTheMusic
    June 6th, 2011 at 1:23 am [Reply]

    Dennis: So, Mister Wilson stood in front of his lattice fence and just absentmindedly painted in large swaths with enough paint that it went through the holes and made perfect little diamonds on Dennis’ face? And he didn’t notice a small child just standing there receiving this abuse with nothing to say for himself?

  23. Poteet
    June 6th, 2011 at 1:25 am [Reply]

    6/6 A3G — “That gal is a caution.” Where is Mrs. Bloom from? I’m dying to know.

  24. Poteet
    June 6th, 2011 at 1:30 am [Reply]

    6/6 PHANTOM — Oy. After seeing that, I feel a burst of celibacy coming on. (*In the Bandar tongue)

  25. Mark B
    June 6th, 2011 at 1:33 am [Reply]

    I think Drew is doing a Chris Tucker imitation–specifically a scene from Rush Hour: “Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?

  26. gnome de blog
    June 6th, 2011 at 1:46 am [Reply]

    Pope Josh: This has nothing to do with either loons or Mark Trail, except a rhyme and it involves birds, but you need to know this anyway: the word “goon” is derived from goony, as in goony bird. And at least the source I read (Merriam-Webster, if I remember right) said it was influenced by Alice the Goon in Popeye.

  27. gnome de blog
    June 6th, 2011 at 1:51 am [Reply]

    “Mythbusters” should explore whether you average size-4 woman can fall 10 feet or so and grab on to a vertical railing with one hand and actually hang on. Or for that matter whether anybody who isn’t an Olympic gymnast can do it.

  28. FOOBed again
    June 6th, 2011 at 1:54 am [Reply]

    MT: I know someone else mentioned this, but it’s really been bugging me since Mark mentioned it again. I can understand that it would probably be best that John at least keep in some kind of contact with his dad to let him know he’s OK and see how his dad is doing.

    But he doesn’t have kids or a spouse or partner. He probably did have friends, but people do sometimes drift away from their friends. They move to other cities or even other countries and though they do usually keep in contact, they don’t always.

    His dad seems to be in good health, so it’s not like John is needed to take care of him.

    Sure it’s not normal to be a hermit, but if John’s happy that way, why does Mark feel he has to bring him back? And why does Mark keep insisting John has a “responsibility to his family and friends”?

  29. Poteet
    June 6th, 2011 at 2:00 am [Reply]

    @FOOBed again (#28): Mark may just be automatically repeating the words that Cherry whispers into his ear when he’s asleep, whenever she has the chance. She knows Mark would be up there digging pit traps and sitting around in a cave himself if he could.

    Speaking of living in that cave, I’d like to know how Fringe Boy handles bathroom, bathing, laundry, etc. On second thought, maybe I don’t.

  30. Mr. O'Malley
    June 6th, 2011 at 2:02 am [Reply]

    “Getting one past the censor” in the Sunday Wizard of Id.

  31. seismic-2
    June 6th, 2011 at 2:08 am [Reply]

    @Mark B (#4):

    Dammit, when you said it was the geekiest post ever, I was expecting the punch line to be “GOTO 6CL considered harmful.” I’m crestfallen.

    Fixed it for ya. I feel sure even Dijkstra would have agreed, since the strip so often gets stuck in an infinite loop.

  32. Mr. O'Malley
    June 6th, 2011 at 2:09 am [Reply]

  33. Maggie the Cat
    June 6th, 2011 at 2:32 am [Reply]

    WTF is a “caution”??

    Is this is some crazy old Greatest Generation term that isn’t used anymore? Or is A3G just more hip than I am, throwing around their cool, urban slang words?

  34. Judas Peckerwood
    June 6th, 2011 at 2:39 am [Reply]

    DtM: Sorry, there’s no way this makes sense, unless the little half-wit was trying to spy with the slats of the lattice blocking his view. Great job phoning in the menace Hank Ketcham Enterprises!

  35. Maggie the Cat
    June 6th, 2011 at 2:50 am [Reply]

    Mark Trail is a fucking hypocrite. Who ishe to tell John F. Thrasher to suck it up and face his responsibility to his family? Mark sees his family about once every blue moon; in between diamond smuggling cases, being stuck on isle de smugglers, and hunting down humans in the Great Smokey Mountains. If anyone spent his time running from heterosexual intercourse with his spouse responsibilities, it’s Mark. Luckily for him he keeps getting wrapped up in schemes that seem like plausible excuses for him to leave the ol’ Trail homestead.

  36. Hoverboy
    June 6th, 2011 at 2:53 am [Reply]

    Mister Wilson appears to have erected a wall of floating green cubes to keep Dennis out of his yard/life. Ingenious in his hatred.

  37. Mars
    June 6th, 2011 at 2:53 am [Reply]

    This would only be the geekiest post ever, Josh, if you had mentioned the Foxtrot Portal strip today. And that would have been a good thing.

  38. Ian
    June 6th, 2011 at 3:09 am [Reply]

    @MahonToTheMusic (#22): More likely, he noticed that dennis was spying and set out to cover him in paint.

  39. KarMann
    June 6th, 2011 at 3:35 am [Reply]

    @yahtzee (#Y221): If that’s what you want, it sounds like you should be reading Weapon Brown, if you aren’t already.

    @Josh (#0): Ha! Beat you to it! Geekier than thou!
    . . .
    . . .wait, and I’m admitting this?!?

    @ElkMeadow (#15): Umm, actually, it would be “you and I”, it would be “supposed“, and it’s nothing to do with punctuation at all.

  40. Mordock999
    June 6th, 2011 at 4:01 am [Reply]

    Today’s Luann – 06/06/2011

    Luann – “What’s THIS?”

    Gunther – “Oh, that? That’s the ‘Creative’ trophy award for the gown I MADE for YOU at last month’s Pageant. Rosa PRESENTED it to me and said SHE COULDN’T have WON contest without it. Annnnnnnd, She ALSO promised me that she has a LOT MORE ‘Trophies’ coming MY way this Summer! Isn’t that GREAT? I think I’m gonna BUY a new shirt and_____OWWWWWWW!!! HEY! Why the HELL did You drop that damned stack of books on My foot for??!!??”

    DEATH to TJ!!!

  41. KarMann
    June 6th, 2011 at 4:13 am [Reply]

    BTW, among comics that don’t get mentioned much around here, I found today’s Arctic Circle especially amusing. Might help that I already knew of the phenomenon mentioned in the first panel.

  42. Pozzo
    June 6th, 2011 at 6:22 am [Reply]

    “Those who have heard the voice of the loon,” is probably the most frightening series of words I’ve ever heard in Mark Trail. I, for one, will be sleeping with the light on.

  43. Pozzo
    June 6th, 2011 at 6:23 am [Reply]

    Meanwhile, Dennis’ mom is doing her Popeye imitation in the penultimate panel.

  44. John C Fremont
    June 6th, 2011 at 7:11 am [Reply]

    A3G – A caution, you say? Land o’ goshen! Now fetch me another mint julep, child. I’m downright parched. I say, parched. Dehydrated, that is.

    @Poteet (#23): I’d say she’s from wherever Hoagy Carmichael was hanging out in 1929.

    SFx – “I’m so glad we had this time together…”

    DT – Chang Apana, heir to the toothpaste fortune. That seemed hilarious an hour ago.

  45. Some Guy
    June 6th, 2011 at 7:11 am [Reply]

    DtM: Where did the paint that went though the holes and didn’t hit the non-menace go? Has Mrs Mitchell noticed her lawn is dead yet?

  46. Jonn
    June 6th, 2011 at 7:13 am [Reply]

    I actually know about the “luna”-”lunatic” connection already. Thanks, National Geographic World!

  47. KarMann
    June 6th, 2011 at 7:47 am [Reply]

    @Some Guy (#45): But her grass can’t be dead! It’s so green!

  48. Little Guy
    June 6th, 2011 at 7:47 am [Reply]

    @gnome de blog (#27): Been done, in a way, in one of the Pirates specials, where they try to find out if a pirate can use his sword on a sail to slow his travese downward. Spoilers: Myth Busted.

  49. queek, source of Cuteness, Kawaii Commando
    June 6th, 2011 at 7:53 am [Reply]

    IP: Popeye fans will enjoy this one.

    Lio: ewwwwwwwwwwwwww!

    R&R remember D-Day.

    rMC: win. I don’t remember this one, but I like it!

    A&J: SERVICE!!!!!

    Frazz: been there, done that.

    MT: GOAT!

    PMP: man, the girls get non-servicey service.

    RwO: o, my bleeding eyes.

    SFx: is that your final answer?

  50. langostino
    June 6th, 2011 at 7:54 am [Reply]

    The pattern of the paint is Dennis’ body is proof that he wasn’t spying on Mr. Wilson.

    To be spying, he had to be looking through the holes in the lattice. Had he been looking through the holes in the lattice, there would be paint around his eyes.

    The lack of paint around his eyes proves that he was just staring at the lattice. Perhaps he was just practicing entomology?

  51. Moon Mullins
    June 6th, 2011 at 8:01 am [Reply]

    I don’t believe any of the birds recognize your geekiness; indeed, your post could be retitled “fruit of the loon unaware”.

  52. Mysterious Shirtless Lawyer
    June 6th, 2011 at 8:02 am [Reply]

    “I had assumed that “loon” as a synonym for crazy person shared the same derivation, but that seems murkier;”

    “Seems murkier”? I think you mean “I was wrong and Mark Trail was right.” No wonder the loon’s red eye makes you nervous! It sees your guilt!

  53. queek, source of Cuteness, Kawaii Commando
    June 6th, 2011 at 8:02 am [Reply]

    @Falcata (#y223): well played! *applaz*

  54. Zaratustra
    June 6th, 2011 at 8:11 am [Reply]

    Hey, there’s not even a single way listed in which a loon can kill you. Is this really Mark Trail?

  55. Bill Thompson
    June 6th, 2011 at 8:12 am [Reply]

    @langostino (#50): Which proves that, sadly, Mrs. Mitchell is not as acute an observer as Slylock Fox. Dennis, however, is still as dumb as Reeky Rat.

  56. Rocky Stoneaxe
    June 6th, 2011 at 8:22 am [Reply]

  57. Morndew
    June 6th, 2011 at 9:45 am [Reply]

    @Poteet (#23):
    This term was also used in an old OBH by rRse when reffering to her BF and running around with her in her youth. I think I like it…but don’t know why. Now that it’s been used TWICE, it’s become part of the secret language of cartoons that make my family call me a dork.

  58. Alan's Addiction
    June 6th, 2011 at 10:38 am [Reply]

    Ah, yes, the Sunday “Mark Trail.” Not as interesting, accessible, or informative as a Wikipedia article, but it does have more pictures involving strange and disjointed point-of-view angles and foregrounds.
    Is that a cannonball being fired at the French garrison in today’s “Crock?” If so, why are their enemies using cannonballs, when the French have a machine gun from the early 20th century? It’d be like fighting the US Civil War with bows and arrows, it’s not going to end well. Not that I’m against the occasional creative anachronism, but I’d like “Crock’s” enemies to have a fighting chance against their French colonial oppressors.
    Dennis obviously has some sort of nerve disorder that prevents him from sensing the feel of wet paint. Not terribly menacing, but perhaps it also prevents him from feeling pain, which would at least put him in the same category as a James Bond henchman.

  59. Tophat
    June 6th, 2011 at 10:53 am [Reply]

    I love the nervous twitch Dennis’ mom seems to have developed in the second to last panel. “And HOW, exactly, did he paint the spaces BETWEEN the lattice work with a dark green paint? Can you answer me THAT? Smart guy? Huh?”

  60. Ingeld
    June 6th, 2011 at 11:57 am [Reply]

    Why is Dennis’ Mom giving her orgasm face in the second to the last panel? Perhaps yelling at Dennis turns her on.

  61. velvet goldmine
    June 6th, 2011 at 12:00 pm [Reply]

    @Uncle Lumpy #9 — I’m a loon-lover too, from my canoe-camping days. It’s too bad the MT strip doesn’t show one of the more endearing habits of the loon, which is the parents carrying the babies on their backs when the nestlings are only a few hours old. The young loons slip into the water when they reach little protected bays, then get back on when crossing open water or when they get cold. And yes, the first time (or first thousand times) you hear a loon call, especially if you’re lying there unprotected in a sleeping back, it absolutely chills the blood.

    The strip also doesn’t do a very good job showing the “string of pearls” around loon necks, which, combined with the haunting nighttime call, has given rise to all kinds of altered-princess legends.

  62. ElkMeadow
    June 6th, 2011 at 1:29 pm [Reply]

    @KarMann (#39):

    Thanks. I need all the beta-ing I can get.

  63. Lapsed Librarian
    June 6th, 2011 at 3:49 pm [Reply]

    Just want you to know that at least one of your readers *loves* etymology, so don’t hesitate to do it again. ;) Of course, I also used to keep a list of words to look up in the OED…

  64. Wazmo
    June 6th, 2011 at 3:49 pm [Reply]

    I don’t know how good of a spy Dennis is — apparently is mouth was aligned with the fence holes, but his eyes were not.

    I refuse to speculate further.

  65. Jacob
    June 6th, 2011 at 4:06 pm [Reply]

    The best thing about this Sunday’s “Dennis” was that in my paper, there was a printer error, and all the green was rendered as blue. This elevated it from crappy gag-of-the-day comic to surrealist performance art.

  66. Liam
    June 6th, 2011 at 6:36 pm [Reply]

    FW-I’m having a hard time wrapping my mind around it too. Les is so self-centered and narcissistic that I am surprised that the name of the comic hasn’t been changed to “Les Moore”.

  67. Minnie
    June 7th, 2011 at 1:21 am [Reply]

    The loon is depicted on the Canadian dollar coin, which is why it’s commonly called a “loonie”. In school in Canada, we’d get to watch a haunting National Film Board movie, “The Loon’s Necklace”, which tells the legend of how the loon got its necklace.

  68. Minnie
    June 7th, 2011 at 1:26 am [Reply]

    Ooh, the loon is the national bird of Canada – I just looked it up. And here in the states, the national bird is – yup – the bald eagle. (Now go go back and find the weirdest national bird…)

  69. Kibo
    June 7th, 2011 at 6:17 am [Reply]

    Mrs. Mitchell’s kitchen faucet and saucepan appear to be in a multiphasic state resulting from a subspace discharge of anionic tetrions through the primary warp manifold’s starboard lateral EPS conduits caused by exceeding the 10.3 zettadyne stress limit of the outer hull’s structural integrity field. I’ll ask Geordi and Data and especially Barclay and especially especially Wesley to assist with a Level One diagnostic. If you need me, I’ll be in Holodeck One punching an artificially-intelligent holo-matter simulacrum of Dennis the Menace, who died 39,000 Stardates ago.

    …now THAT is how to write the nerdiest post ever. I WIN!

  70. Kibo
    June 7th, 2011 at 6:19 am [Reply]

    (…unless Wil Wheaton posts a better version, in which case he wins.)

  71. Braniff
    June 7th, 2011 at 7:38 am [Reply]

    Regarding MT: Early Shoe comic strips featured a character named Loon, who was a student pilot, yet could barely fly. In one case, he landed on some power lines and played the theme from Dueling Banjos. In another strip, he tried to join the Navy–and crashed into the window of the recruiter’s office. And in yet another strip, he took up crop-dusting–with a feather duster. (Loon was wondering when the “danger and excitement” part would begin.)

  72. Greg
    June 7th, 2011 at 2:33 pm [Reply]

    Crock: I just assumed Poulet was stuttering, and he was chilly at the break of day. See? Doesn’t that make a LOT more sense? (Providing we ignore the beachhead reference, the machine gun nest, the bowling ball flying through the air… Ech, just forget it.)

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