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Clammy hands of paternal love

Rex Morgan, M.D., 5/19/12

Uh-oh, in her sad and futile attempt to finally get ahead of Rex in their ongoing dickishness contest, June has gone a little off-script when it comes to her more immediate task, namely keeping Iris off the sauce. “Hey, Iris, you sure look pretty in that funeral dress! Good thing, too, since you need to wear it all the time, seeing as everyone you ever loved keeps dying. It doesn’t show off your rack to the same advantage that mine does, of course, but then what would, right?”

Spider-Man, 5/19/12

Thanks, Newspaper Spider-Man, for neatly encapsulating your narrative philosophy for new readers. “I don’t need any amazing, exciting powers beyond those of ordinary humans to dislike that creep! Sullen, baseless jealousy will be the engine of this plot, not a superheroic battle to save mankind!”

Pluggers, 5/19/12

An archaic, failing bureaucracy is pretty much the only thing tethering pluggers to the mainstream of human society, and once that tether snaps, things are gonna get real depressing real quick.

Mary Worth, 5/19/12

The sad thing about the awkward, violent gesture in panel one is that Wilbur thinks it’s a hug.

244 responses to “Clammy hands of paternal love”

  1. Clint Brawny
    May 19th, 2012 at 8:25 am [Reply]

    Marvin: stinging parody of Newt Gingrich.

  2. Rocky Stoneaxe
    May 19th, 2012 at 8:26 am [Reply]

    Heathcliff — You don’t use an Alphorn to call for pizza, you use it to call for cough drops. RI-CO-LA!!!

  3. Rocky Stoneaxe
    May 19th, 2012 at 8:33 am [Reply]

    Beetle Bailey — Zero, you could have knocked me over with a feather when I learned your new love is a Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade balloon. Let’s hope your Dear Sainted Mother* doesn’t explode over your romance.

    * “Mom” being a used Jenna Jameson blow up doll Zero bought online at

  4. Rocky Stoneaxe
    May 19th, 2012 at 8:35 am [Reply]

    Pardon My Planet — “Stone walls do not a prison make. And I care not for Klondike® Bars.” (I believe it was Richard Lovelace who said that. Or was it Linda Lovelace?)

  5. Mibbitmaker
    May 19th, 2012 at 8:38 am [Reply]

    “Dad, I’m already upset enough — why are you slapping me in the arm?!”
    “Because it’ll be a love tap compared to what’ll happen if Worth finds out you’re giving up on LOOOOVE, honey. God, the woman’s insufferable!”

    S-M: This is where the real paternalism is. Pete’s a bigger jerk than either Morgan. ANY woman deserves better than that perpetually jealous jackass!

  6. Holly Folly
    May 19th, 2012 at 8:42 am [Reply]

    The fact that Wilbur is stuck half in and half out of the mattress, and that neither one of them acknowledge this is anyway, makes me think that this is a fairly common occurrence. “No I can’t help you in the kitchen, I’m stuck halfway in the floor again, dangit.”

  7. Kris
    May 19th, 2012 at 8:43 am [Reply]

    Mary Worth: Wilbur has also apparently vaulted over Dawn’s bed in an attempt to block any possible escape into the outside world, where she would quickly discover that all her online boyfriends are actually her dad’s multiple avatars.

  8. RavenHawk
    May 19th, 2012 at 8:51 am [Reply]

    MW: Dawn’s decision to get her forehead lengthened, probably didn’t help the situation any, either.

  9. Rimrock
    May 19th, 2012 at 8:53 am [Reply]

    MW: I see a project for Mary Worth, Super Matchmaker!!

  10. Nate
    May 19th, 2012 at 8:56 am [Reply]

    Did that teddy bear break out in a smile between panels? ‘Do it! The world is ending, Dawn – nothing matters anymore! I have a gun!’

  11. Jocelyn Knockersbury
    May 19th, 2012 at 9:00 am [Reply]

    Wilbur not only has angry principal face, there is a misplaced white whatever-the-hell behind him that looks like a swoosh to indicate rapid arm movement. The wobblies behind Dawn only solidify my opinion that we’re watching the first moments of a violent attack. It’s both disturbing and far too exciting to be what’s really going on in Mary Worth.

  12. Nate
    May 19th, 2012 at 9:02 am [Reply]

    Something about that she-plugger is terrifying. Maybe it’s how she’s facing forward with her chicken-head craned sideways. Maybe it’s the way she’s holding her trowel stiffly in front of her while staring blankly down the road. Maybe it’s the fact that the subtext to this panel is ‘two pluggers murder the mailman with a trowel and use his body as fertilizer for their gardenias.’

  13. Trillian
    May 19th, 2012 at 9:03 am [Reply]

    FC: The Athlete’s Foot? Musicland? Where is this strange time machine mall?

    (Just Googled and The Athlete’s Foot is still around, but there are none in my state.)

    9CL: And…….never mind.

    Curtis: Huh?

    GA: Suddenly, this kitten giveaway plot has taken a strong left turn onto Disturbing Lane.

    JP: Now, I’m a heterosexual female, but…DAMN!

    Love is…thought bubbles coming from your vagina.

    Luann: Hit ‘er, Ox!

    MW: Are we coming up to that “very rare Mary Worth in which she has advised a friend to commit suicide”?

  14. Rocky Stoneaxe
    May 19th, 2012 at 9:05 am [Reply]

    To honor what would have been Joey Ramone’s 61st birthday (he was born May 19, 1951), King Features has issued a special commemorative doll:

    (The likeness is uncanny!)

  15. The Ghost of Jarrod
    May 19th, 2012 at 9:06 am [Reply]

    MW – Everyone betray me! I fed up with this world.

  16. teenchy
    May 19th, 2012 at 9:07 am [Reply]

    Pluggers: Okay, I can appreciate the snark at the USPS’ imminent demise, but I think I understand part of the intent behind the strip. I grew up in the country and everyone on our route knew our mail carrier by name. He’d even take a moment to say hello and chat if he wasn’t running behind.

    Can’t say that I spent all day waiting for him to show up, though, and I guess that’s the point: Pluggers have nothing better to do.

  17. Spunde
    May 19th, 2012 at 9:12 am [Reply]

    @Nate (#10):

    My question is, why is it mayonnaise colored?

  18. Naked Bunny with a Whip
    May 19th, 2012 at 9:18 am [Reply]

    “Come on, Dawn. It could be worse! You could be forced to single-handedly raise a daughter you will never understand and never wanted. Cheer up!”

  19. The Ridger
    May 19th, 2012 at 9:18 am [Reply]

    MW: what the hell is going on with the perspective in panel one? I gather that Wilbur must have clambered onto the bed, but that means Dawn’s legs are in his lap – ew. And then look at the bedstead – is the bed L-shaped or something? That’s unsettling.

  20. Liam
    May 19th, 2012 at 9:22 am [Reply]

    JP-Did something happen in today’s comic? I was distracted by Gloria Sanchez’s gravity defying ample breasts.

    Pluggers-”He should be coming into view anytime now. Get the boulder ready.”

    MW-”Blah blah blah. Oh woo is me.”

  21. mojo
    May 19th, 2012 at 9:22 am [Reply]

    MW: An adult woman who lives with her schlubby father and still has creepy stuffed animals on her bed? Can you say “old maid”, Dawn? How about SCREAMING it? ‘Cuz that’s what you’re doing.

  22. Chareth Cutestory
    May 19th, 2012 at 9:32 am [Reply]

    Mary Worth: Maybe getting a bizarre orange skunk dye-job is what helped Dawn end up as the queen of Dumpsville?

  23. Mibbitmaker
    May 19th, 2012 at 9:35 am [Reply]

    9CL: She’s only worth marrying if she’s having a kid (and, much as Brooke wants us to suffer forever through never being told what the outcome was, he still makes it… uh…. clear? that she’s not pregnant).

    FW: Glad someone finally shut up the obnoxious “story”telling gimmick (as opposed to credible human being)!

    JP: “….with Rusty Trail!”

    Luann: Greg Evans is the bully. He picks on characters like Ann, then portrays them badly as well. Also, he picks on Ox by making him a stereotype of overweight people, then suddenly makes him sympathetic just to further pile on his (Greg’s) whipping girl.
    Next Ann Storyline: Evans: “Hey, let’s have big, dangerous thugs beat her up badly in a robbery attempt, then make her a bitch so that’ll make it okay. I’ll make sure she has life-threatening injuries… and the assailants go free… That’ll teach her!”

    Stone Soup: Gentlemen, she’s a real catch! (shift to Calvin “ugh” face)

    FC: Proto-Zits
    Zits: Meta-Zits

    May 19th, 2012 at 9:36 am [Reply]

    9CL: Oh, for crying out loud just have that parasitic clump of cells terminated! By which I mean Amos.

  25. Señor Tortilla
    May 19th, 2012 at 9:41 am [Reply]

    @mojo (#21): Is Dawn even Wilbur’s “daughter”?

    MT – That’s Kelly Welly in a wig, right? Or is that Cherry?

  26. Braniff
    May 19th, 2012 at 9:53 am [Reply]

    FC: Doesn’t Mommy Keane know that when you go to a mall you SHOP TILL YOU DROP? Why is she spending time with the melonheads? Mommy Keane should be maxxing out her husband’s credit cards!

  27. queek, source of Cuteness, Kawaii Commando
    May 19th, 2012 at 9:55 am [Reply]

    IP: The Most Common Superpower saves the week from being a total loss.


    NS: F-U, Miller. I really am beginning to wonder why I have this one bookmarked.

    JP: ye godz!

    PMP: and thus the negotiations for prison sex begins.

    6Cx: it’s cute, even if I don’t agree with the message.

    rMC: Norm, that was a hint. She wants you to double-check her ‘math’.

  28. queek, source of Cuteness, Kawaii Commando
    May 19th, 2012 at 9:55 am [Reply]

    Love Is . . . memories of morning wood.

  29. Digger
    May 19th, 2012 at 10:00 am [Reply]

    MW: The real reason Dawn’s boyfriend dumped her: that freaky, all-white Teddy bear scares the crap out of him.

    That Plugger won’t be so thrilled when the mailman delivers a letter informing him that dog-chicken marriages have been ruled an abomination against nature and are therefore invalid.

  30. CanuckDownSouth
    May 19th, 2012 at 10:04 am [Reply]

    Annnd MT completes its shift back from out-of-touch “gee whiz! fighting baddies in nature!” charm into Deeply Disturbing territory. In the real world there would be restraining orders, possibly harassment charges … here, the only reason a widow won’t help Mark is because she’s obviously in league with the Real Killers. Are we in for another Bucky-level tale of misogyny here?

  31. TheDiva
    May 19th, 2012 at 10:05 am [Reply]

    MW: Elsewhere… “My meddle-sense is tingling! Someone is rejecting my ideals of love and relationships! I must go!”

    Pluggers are sad, sorry people.

    SM: “I just need my petty insecurities!”

    9CL: And Amos dodges the bullet.

    FW: So the rest of the arc is going to be Roberta being dressed down by her formerly henpecked husband (because that uppity woman needs to learn her place)? While the Anonymously Gay Duo disappears back into the closet? THERE’S your heartwarming, progressive story arc, GLAAD!

    Luann: How is Ann wrong? Shannon hurt someone in order to get what she wanted, then (with the help of her “responsible adult” Toni) laughed about the pain she caused. If this does not define a bully, I don’t know what does.

    MT: “Gene has a temper, but he’s not a killer!” Is it too much to hope for a “revenge of the abused wife” situation?

  32. wossname
    May 19th, 2012 at 10:08 am [Reply]

    A3G – In her haste to point her abnormally long index finger, Margo lets go of her coffee cup, which will land in Scott’s lap, probably giving him burns and contusions on his boy parts. “Oh, I bet that smarts,” says Margo unsympathetically.

    JP – I suppose Mr. B. is speaking metaphorically. But I’d rather think he’s jerking Peaches around the way Mark does Rusty. “Oops, sorry Peaches, just got a phone call – we’ll have to put off that fishing trip.”

    MW – Dawn has one of those newfangled sectional beds that can be arranged to form a right angle.

    FW – I guess we’re supposed to be cheering for One-armed Becky’s dad for shutting up his wife and not allowing her to express her opinion, because obviously free speech is only for people we agree with. This reminds me a lot of being expected to hate Ann Eiffel for getting bitten by Shannon.

  33. Fats Pinto
    May 19th, 2012 at 10:18 am [Reply]

    Pluggers: Part of the fun of being a Plugger is deciding whether to sniff the mailman’s ass or just bite him.

  34. The Ridger
    May 19th, 2012 at 10:22 am [Reply]

    @CanuckDownSouth (#30): Be fair. It may be insensitive of Mark to drop by the widow’s house, but it’s not illegal. If she wanted to talk to him, she could. If she agreed that Gene was being framed, she could help out the defense; she’s not bound to agree with the DA and sheriff. Of course, since she’s now told him to go away, there should be (but won’t) consequences if he doesn’t. But if he goes now and never comes back, there would be no grounds for any kind of legal actions.

  35. Sequitur
    May 19th, 2012 at 10:23 am [Reply]

    Fred Basset: Hey! A pun! Fred almost had a joke.

  36. TheDiva
    May 19th, 2012 at 10:24 am [Reply]

    @Mibbitmaker (#23): Logic according to Luann:
    Ann yells at someone who is bigger and stronger than she is in order to get him to do what he wants. Ann is a bully.
    Toni threatens to harm someone weaker than she is (being in a less physically demanding profession) in order to get her to do what she wants. Toni is an assertive, admirable woman.

  37. bbofun
    May 19th, 2012 at 10:25 am [Reply]

    @Spunde (#17):I believe the preferred terminology would be “why is the mayonnaise African-American?”.

    So, so very sorry. Really. It was lying there, I had to pick it up.

  38. TheDiva
    May 19th, 2012 at 10:25 am [Reply]

    Murphy’s Law according to Diva: anytime I don’t preview will be the one time I have an open markup tag.

  39. Dawn's Teddy Bear
    May 19th, 2012 at 10:27 am [Reply]

    Don’t give up, Dawn! There’s someone right here who has loved you all his life! It’s me! Your teddy bear! I’ve been staring at you with longing every night! My little stubby arms are ready to hug!

  40. queek, source of Cuteness, Kawaii Commando
    May 19th, 2012 at 10:28 am [Reply]

    58 seconds of ikkle big kittehs. (jaguar cubs, total brainmush.)

    more big kitteh squee. (squeetah and BFF Lab.)

    Poteet begs to differ.

    Sequitur’s new ride.

    amazing FMA cosplay. (shirtless Ed.)

    Twilight as a Reaper.

    ferret sleepin’ kewt.

    ikkle booby.

    ikkle corgi. V-.-~

  41. Gabacho
    May 19th, 2012 at 10:29 am [Reply]

    Mary Worth – Well, thank goodness you came to your senses, Dawn. It is time to give up. All of it. The rest of us gave up on you years ago. So just go quietly and let us have another plot, perhaps a follow up on Vera The Vixen, who stole Drewchebag from you then crushed his heart. Her I like. You, Dawn, not so much.

  42. Notebooked
    May 19th, 2012 at 10:31 am [Reply]

    …Uhh…I must be a plugger, then.

    (Sad summer days, sitting on the lawn with a folding chair and a book, waiting for the van so I could smile at the postie and prove my devotion to getting letters. Their apologetic smile as they handed out the day’s adverts and junk mail. Is it depressing if you’re more excited about possibly getting letters than actually sitting down and reading those letters? It’s like surprise bingo! Except without the competitiveness and seething hatred.)

  43. Gal Friday
    May 19th, 2012 at 10:33 am [Reply]

    MW: Funny how Dawn’s teddy bear resembles Wilbur in the tummy department. All it needs is a sandwich to complete the resemblance.

  44. Jim North
    May 19th, 2012 at 10:33 am [Reply]

    9CL: McEldowney is inviting us to ponder whether or not Amos has decided to call off the engagement idea entirely or if he’s merely decided to postpone the engagement until such time that the fuss about Edda’s news – whatever it may be – dies down a little bit. I invite everyone to not ponder this at all. I invite you most strenuously, for it is down that path that caring about the events in 9 Chickweed Lane lies.

    A3G: I was going to make a joke about Paul and Margo being seated at a table on a pneumatic lift that periodically takes them from one floor of the cafe/restaurant/whatever they’re currently in to another so that the nearby scenery is always fresh and slightly different . . . then I realized what a cool idea that would actually be and therefore could not in any conceivable way be what’s currently happening.

    BB: Dear Greg & Mort: If you’re going to ham-fistedly pound some awkward expository dialogue into your comic, it would be nice if it at least led to a joke that A) makes sense and B) is actually a joke.

    Crank: Pam, are you trying to draw attention to her breasts? You saucy minx. This isn’t Judge Parker, but that’s okay, I’ll play along. *ogles*

    Crock: Ah, the long-awaited end of Crock seems to finally be here. And what’s this? Why, it appears that it may find new life as it slowly slides into a brand new Blackadder series! How wonderfully whimsical! By which I mean wretchedly awful! An adieu for you, dear Crock . . . may you find the peace you’ve so long sought.

    DT: At long last, Superman and Lex Luthor reach an accord and become the most devastating crime duo on Earth!

    FW: You demand the right to what, Roberta? Be an intolerant ass, spewing your message of hate? Or perhaps engage in some sort of discussion in which all sides are heard and all viewpoints considered? What utter nonsense, both of these notions. Lord Batiuk has spoken to us through his avatar, the Principal, and none may gainsay him. None.

    MT: Mark just doesn’t understand her hostility towards him.

    MW: That’s right, Wilbur! Beat the sadness out of your child! Smack that shoulder until it’s bruised and bleeding, a constant reminder to Dawn that she is loved and of what will happen to her if she ever, ever leaves you!

    RMMD: But if she throws the dress away, what’s she going to wear for her own funeral?


    S-M: I’m fairly certain that we’re seeing the beginnings of the new Sinister Six, which will be comprised entirely of regular guys who Peter simply isn’t very fond of for one petty reason or another. Aren’t there any real supervillains he could be BAHAHAHAHAHA, sorry, couldn’t say it with a straight face.

  45. CanuckDownSouth
    May 19th, 2012 at 10:35 am [Reply]

    @The Ridger (#34): You’re right, harassment would require Mark coming back, and he’s acting like an asshole but not making threats here. It’s just beginning to set me off by how in the strip’s worldview the widow clearly doesn’t have the right to any grief, indignation, anger, or consideration by others. Her objections to helping the friend of the guy the police have IDed as her husband’s killer are clearly illegitimate and she’s being heavily foreshadowed as Bad.

  46. Jim North
    May 19th, 2012 at 10:36 am [Reply]

    @queek, source of Cuteness, Kawaii Commando (#40): omg jagulars, so adorababble :3

  47. Señor Tortilla
    May 19th, 2012 at 10:39 am [Reply]

    FC: Wow! Look at those huge planters and old storefronts. And coupled with the “General Cinemas” sign from a few days ago, this is both dated and charming. Seriously, I’m close to unironically loving this “story arc”.

  48. Bill Murray
    May 19th, 2012 at 10:40 am [Reply]

    I believe that creepy white bear is Wilbur’s id. It’s clear Wilbur no longer has any basic drives. So the bear is augmenting Dawn’s instinct of destruction and, thus, it will be Mary’s job to lay her on a couch and fix her.

  49. bbofun
    May 19th, 2012 at 10:44 am [Reply]

    Pluggers- i always suspected that Pluggers took place in some sort of post-apocalyptic hell-scape, in which the animals had evolved to take over the worst and most mundane aspects of human society. Now we know just which hell-scape- Kevin Costner’s THE POSTMAN.

    ASM- Has the artist on Spider-man not seen a movie since the ’70s? His idea of “the movies’ top star” is apparently Tom Selleck.

    Also, I assume Hardy Laurel will be turning up as a “Phantom Of the Opera”-type eventually. Or else Mr. Mustache will just turn out to be utterly incompetent without re-takes, forgetting his lines, etc., and we’ll have to endure a week’s worth of strips about that disastrous performance, too.

    JP- Mr. B’s “flight attendant/personal assistant/whatever” will be awfully disappointed when she finds out that, in “Parker-ville”, her “peaches” ain’t that impressive. If her name was “Melons”, now…

  50. Señor Tortilla
    May 19th, 2012 at 10:46 am [Reply]

    Sometimes I’ve wondered if Funky Winkerbean was a brilliant conservative comic strip that worked by deconstructing liberal ideas. For example, the “school bond” appeared to prove what conservatives have thought about teacher’s unions for a long time…a group of whiners who can’t fire bad teachers, and now using deliberately using a weak counter-strawman who can’t give a decent reason of why the same-sex couple can’t purchase a ticket, AND shutting down anyone who remotely disagrees.

    But then I realized that would be giving Tom Batiuk WAY too much credit, and still wouldn’t explain the non-political storylines (such as the Specialist Snowflake and her ACL).

  51. bbofun
    May 19th, 2012 at 10:56 am [Reply]

    Sorry- missed one-
    0CL- I actually admire Brooke’s decision to tell some of this story with no words- comics, is, after all a visual medium. But, since neither his artwork nor the characterization up to this point has been clear enough, this strip is confusing.

    Amos is planning to propose, we know. Edda approaches, with the news that she’s not pregnant. They hug, he takes out the ring. Now, in the next panel, she’s looking at him- is she telling him the news? And then they hug, but he puts the ring away.

    Did he not propose because she’s not pregnant? Or because this would be a HORRIBLE moment to? Or did he , and she said no? Or has she not told him, he proposed, and sobbed “no” while hugging him? Honestly, any of these things could be true, and would be perfectly in keeping with the storytelling.

  52. bbofun
    May 19th, 2012 at 10:58 am [Reply]

    0CL? I wrote 0CL instead of 9CL? I wish that was deliberate.

  53. Trillian
    May 19th, 2012 at 11:00 am [Reply]

    @bbofun (#51): Heed @Jim North (#44)‘s warning.

  54. The Fake Macoy
    May 19th, 2012 at 11:01 am [Reply]

    FW – I don’t get it. Was the father speaking up supposed to be some moment of triumph?

    JP – Is there a single woman in the JP universe who hasn’t gotten implants? Is this how they one-up each other in their world?

    MT – Don’t worry Mark. The only reason that guy’s widow is angry at you is because she’s involved in the murder, not that you’ve shown up at her door and declared that the number one suspect is your friend.

    RMMD – Maybe I haven’t been reading RMMD for long enough, but this has to be a new level of bitchiness. “Hey Iris, don’t forget your husband is dead! What are you going to do about it, crybaby? All the whiskey in the world won’t change that.”

  55. [Old Man] Muffaroo
    May 19th, 2012 at 11:02 am [Reply]

    3G – I think the background is one long strip that just unreels slowly from right to left, like the “Saint James Infirmary Blues” sequence in BETTY BOOP AS SNOW-WHITE. The other possibility is that they are in a museum, walking from one diorama of 20th century life to another. [note: I had not even considered Jim North's scenario. Must ponder.]

    9 – I know what’s happening here! Thorax used up all the goddamn words in the universe, and it’s all pantomime until the supply replenishes. (Still and all, I think today’s strip was effectively and subtly acted.)

    Gasoline – Never mind the earlier continuity. I’m going with the idea that this strange creature, drawn in a different style from everyone else in the strip, is some kind of invisible (perhaps even imaginary) figure of mayhem. We’ll know for sure if he tells Mr. Dennis to burn the garage to the ground. (Say, that would be kind of menacing!)

  56. [Old Man] Muffaroo
    May 19th, 2012 at 11:04 am [Reply]

    Judge“Get my gear ready, Peaches! We’re going fishing!”
    Dear lord, he’s not only talking to the breasts, he’s even made up a name for them!

    love is… …thinking about Dead Hubby while rocking slowly on that “just let go” log with the great big knot sticking up on it. Ohh, yeah, that’s the one.

    Mary – Sing it, Dawn!
    “Oh, why does the fridge keep on humming?
    Why does the mayo still spread?
    Don’t they know it’s The End of the World?
    It ended when my boyfriend fled!”

  57. [Old Man] Muffaroo
    May 19th, 2012 at 11:04 am [Reply]

    Pearls – Hmmm. New character-slash-prop. I must decide carefully whether I like him or— eh, get rid of him.

    Rx – From Viz‘s “Top Tips”: “Give yourself a nice surprise at the next wedding or funeral you attend by putting a tenner in the pocket of your black suit right now!”

    R=R – Ah, if only that had been one of the nut-throwing squirrels from Mutts.

    Spider-Man – Another gay guy to be jealous of.

  58. bourbon babe, unbuckled
    May 19th, 2012 at 11:04 am [Reply]

    JP: “We’re going fishing”? Don’t tell Rusty Trail. (In the Judge Parker of my dreams, Rusty now appears on the wing of the plane, fishing pole in hand, gap-toothed grin and all, saying, “Hi, Mister! When are we going fishing?”)

    SM: And in the Spider-Man of my dreams, each week from now on features a new co-star for MJ who is poutingly distrusted by Peter and who then bombs his first night on stage.

    A3G: “She was jealous of all your past fiancees, and now she’s just jealous of me! Apples and oranges!”

    And: “all your past fiancees”? How many has he had?

    MW: Isn’t Dawn supposed to be in her twenties or something? Where’s the part where she sniffingly calls up one her girlfriends, and they hit the local bars, get roaring drunk, and pick up a couple of leering dudes in stripey shirts, and then Dawn sneaks him into her room, giggling and stumbling, and mounts him right there on her bed as Teddy looks askance in horror?

    It’s too bad, too, that Dawn doesn’t have anyone in her life who’s equipped to deal with problems like this—someone like, say, a syndicated advice columnist.

  59. bbofun
    May 19th, 2012 at 11:09 am [Reply]

    @Trillian (#53): If only I had read it in time! but no. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

  60. bbofun
    May 19th, 2012 at 11:10 am [Reply]


  61. Trillian
    May 19th, 2012 at 11:10 am [Reply]

    @Señor Tortilla (#47): I bet when the storyline was run the first time, it seemed horribly modern for FC. I’m enjoying this one as well.

  62. bourbon babe, unbuckled
    May 19th, 2012 at 11:13 am [Reply]

    @CanuckDownSouth (#45): My response exactly—starting with “the Chavez Widow” a few days ago (not “that poor woman”). It’s obvious we’re supposed to be on Mark’s side here, not on the side of the woman whose husband was just murdered and who would probably prefer not to have some strange guy questioning her. But then, she’s just a woman—essentially, an impediment, obstacle, or plot device with mascara and breasts.

    On the other hand: Boy, she sure likes purple, doesn’t she?

  63. Psychid
    May 19th, 2012 at 11:15 am [Reply]

    Wait, in today’s Mary Worth she’s not referring to Judgment Day of 2012, is it? God, I hope not.

  64. Jon the Red
    May 19th, 2012 at 11:15 am [Reply]

    Oh my god, Wilbur looks so awesome…! Check out the muscles in his arms, the motion lines implying that he snapped his hands straight to Dawn’s shoulders the moment he hopped up onto the bed, that seismic pout he’s rocking…now I’m hoping this Mary Worth storyline involves physically restraining Wilbur to stop him from delivering a savage beating to Dawn’s ex.

  65. SurrealKangaroo
    May 19th, 2012 at 11:28 am [Reply]

    I wonder what Pluggers do on Sundays and holidays…

  66. Katie
    May 19th, 2012 at 11:32 am [Reply]

    So, is it safe to assume that Peter’s a homophobe as well as, well, all the other terrible things he is?

  67. Jim North
    May 19th, 2012 at 11:33 am [Reply]

    @bbofun (#59): Poor bbofun. Never stood a chance, really. :(

  68. Islamorada Girl
    May 19th, 2012 at 11:37 am [Reply]

    MT: Wait a minute! Haven’t we seen this story before? Sinister widow with Bettie Page hair sets up the murder of her rich husband so it looks like MT’s friend did it? But in reality, dead hubby was done in by Bettie Page’s secret boyfriend? Two or three years ago? Wasn’t there a small plane involved? Anyone else remember this story? Or am I sundowning again? Of course, you see a woman in a Bettie Page hairdo in MT, it’s your signal she’s up to No Good.

  69. queek, source of Cuteness, Kawaii Commando
    May 19th, 2012 at 11:42 am [Reply]

    This explains a lot of problems.

    Bad Hammy!

    meanwhile, at the Westview prom. (language.)

    Best Mr. Rogers ever!

    bad puns and a Disney princess.

  70. Irrischano
    May 19th, 2012 at 11:48 am [Reply]

    MW: Me Wilbur. You Dawn. Me fight Care Bear for checking out your ass.

    Spider-Man: “Wow, the movies’ top star will be in our play – Top Gun-era Val Kilmer wearing a Guy Fawkes mask!”

  71. LiamA
    May 19th, 2012 at 11:51 am [Reply]

    A3G-Nina just thinks that you love the thing growing inside of her more than her.

  72. Tom T.
    May 19th, 2012 at 11:56 am [Reply]

    I am currently visiting relatives near Henrico, Va., i.e., Pluggers world headquarters. It’s one of those parts of the country where the names of the stores are all unfamiliar, and pedestrians amble across the street anywhere they please. I keep getting dirty looks from people in the breakfast room at our motel; I think they think I’m putting on airs by wearing clothes from Target.

  73. Chip Whittle
    May 19th, 2012 at 12:00 pm [Reply]

    I would have sworn the highlight of a Plugger’s day was when that “nice young girl” (she’s 39) at Old Steam-Tray Buffet grins and rings them in at 3:56 so they can pay the lunch price instead of making them wait on the line until 4:00 by the clock like that other one does.

  74. mr12ozcan
    May 19th, 2012 at 12:03 pm [Reply]

    mary worth – i thought dawn took up kiteflying to cure her internet addiction ? also unless a guy is really into grapes or eggplant who wants to be seen with someone who wears purple 24/7
    mark trail- i bet the dead guy looked like boris badenov for some reason

  75. commodorejohn
    May 19th, 2012 at 12:07 pm [Reply]


    If you liked my attempts at being all weird and progressive-rocky with a comics-themed concept album, I’ve made some more music that’s absolutely nothing like it! In the subject-matter department, that is, it’s still all weird and progressive-rocky (though hopefully less self-indulgently esoteric.) This time around it’s a sort of psychedelic progressive space-metal thing that’s 17 minutes long, so if that intrigues you you might want to check it out! “Remnant of the Universal Veil” is available on my site or at!


    A3G – “You understand women, Margo. You know, because a vagina is like a mystic third eye that grants comprehension of all the incomprehensible ways of all women everywhere, right? I’m pretty sure that’s how it works.”

    DT – “Mumbles is a loose cannon! He’s off the force! Turn in his badge!”

    FW – Hey, it’s sort of like that bit at the end of The Music Man, only it completely sucks!

    JP – “Peaches,” eh? I’d be interested in seeing what’s hanging off her boughs, myself…

    Jumble – That’s a pretty nice Peter Finch there, FEJF.

    Lola – And this is why I’ve never attempted lyrics.

    Mandrake – Introducing new, high-precision earthquakes!

    MT – Hey, wow, a human close-up that isn’t just Mark’s forehead!


    Peanuts – Some day she is going to lead a terrifying new regime that will spread darkness and fear over the whole face of the Earth. Mark my words.

    RMMD – I’m no expert on matters sartorial, but can you really make a poodle skirt appropriate for a funeral by dyeing it black? And don’t vests typically go down further than the base of the ribcage?

  76. Santa Royale With Cheese
    May 19th, 2012 at 12:09 pm [Reply]

    @Jim North (#44): Your 9CL paragraph is pretty much ripped from my train of thought after looking at today’s strip.

    Although I don’t foresee myself “caring” about the strip so much as “willfully allowing myself to be annoyed by” it.

  77. seismic-2
    May 19th, 2012 at 12:12 pm [Reply]

    RMMD: “I’m going to toss this dress, after today. In order to generate at least some interest in this ridiculous story line, from here on out it’ll be nothing but loose bathrobes for me!!!”

    SM, Panel 2: “We’ll get along famously, I’m sure, especially now that you’re transforming into a lobster. Work it like a claw, baby!”

    Pluggers: Given the way that Mrs. Plugger is staring at him and brandishing that trowel, I’d say Mr. Plugger is wise indeed to be quite vigilant in monitoring the postman’s visits.

    MW“: “One day he’ll just be a blip on your radar screen!”
    “Oh Dad, please don’t remind me! Every time when we made love, just at the climax he would always shout ‘INCOMING!!!’”

  78. Rocky Stoneaxe
    May 19th, 2012 at 12:15 pm [Reply]

    @Islamorada Girl (#68): Are you sure this isn’t a remake of Billy Wilder’s “Double Indemnity”? Fred MacMurray’s insurance rep character has been changed to the owner of a rival fishing camp, and is being played by Gene this time around — with the Widow Chavez filling in for Barbara Stanwyck. Which means Mark has stepped into Edward G. Robinson’s shoes as the insurance investigator nature writer who exposes their murder/insurance fraud scheme.

  79. Horace Broon
    May 19th, 2012 at 12:20 pm [Reply]

    A3G: You thought Margo was mad when she wasn’t being given credit for getting them back together? That’s nothing to how mad she is about not being given credit for breaking them up!

    FC: If this is what Nina has to look forward to, I’m with her.

    FW: Glad to see from the previous comments that I’m not the only one wondering how we got from “school dance accepts gay teens” to “husband of stereotyped battleaxe reinforces the patriarchy for the good of society”.

  80. Calico
    May 19th, 2012 at 12:23 pm [Reply]

    MW – With just a tiny tweak, panel 1 could be PS’d to look like Wilbur and Dawn are … *Oh, God … No!”


  81. Frank Lee Meidere
    May 19th, 2012 at 12:31 pm [Reply]

    FW: “Shut up, Roberta! We’re being tolerant here!”

  82. Jim North
    May 19th, 2012 at 12:34 pm [Reply]

    In fact, I think that we should go forth and crush every other worldview that doesn’t promote tolerance!

  83. Calico
    May 19th, 2012 at 12:41 pm [Reply]

    A little golf humor from the excellent movie “Sideways” – volume is a little low, but clip is still funny.

  84. Frank Lee Meidere
    May 19th, 2012 at 12:42 pm [Reply]

    9CL: And Calvin’s Cardboard Box calls it! I’ll give him points, however, if he palms the ring when he learns that she is Not Pregnant.”

    Go Amos! The next step is to buy a ticket under an assumed name to some other country and get away from those Burbers forever.

  85. Tom T.
    May 19th, 2012 at 12:46 pm [Reply]

    9CL: Days like this, I just think to myself, “At least there’s no dialogue.”

  86. tallyHO
    May 19th, 2012 at 1:10 pm [Reply]

    @Bill Murray (#48):

    Well, normally, I’d agree that a white teddy bear that is neither adorned with ribbons and bows nor is wearing stylish clothing symbolizes something pure and innocent. But, you may well be correct to deduce that it is the sweaty man’s Id.

    However, while I can see Wilbur, if that is indeed his dorky name, not having a libido, I can’t help but think somewhere on his person he has a burrito stashed…for his compulsive eating habits.

    If Mary does try to solve this by being getting that girl on the couch to open up…* then more than likely she will apply her meddleurgy skills to performing what she sees as an exorcism. If Wilbur happens to be present during this “valiant” attempt by Mary to rid the girl of meddling spirits, more than likely the methodology of meddling Mary uses will lead to something that could only be called a Meh-xorcism. It probably won’t relieve the girl, it will probably just result in Wilbur’s hidden burrito flying out of his fat folds and into his mouth.**

    *see, I didn’t go there
    **yes, I did go there. please forgive me.

  87. Nehemiah Scudder
    May 19th, 2012 at 1:11 pm [Reply]

    A little Charles Addams/Pluggers mashup.

  88. bats :[
    May 19th, 2012 at 1:19 pm [Reply]

    @Jocelyn Knockersbury (#11): I think Wilbur learned Psychology and How to Deal with Unhappy People from Airplane!.

  89. tallyHO
    May 19th, 2012 at 1:25 pm [Reply]

    One day he’ll “just be a blip on your radar screen”.

    Then fire the torpedos!
    But, before you do that, fire that teddy bear,from the look on his face I think he’s after my burritos.

    *is there such a thing as a Wilbur-bur? I’d think he’d be an elephant.

  90. Illustrator Steve
    May 19th, 2012 at 1:37 pm [Reply]

    MT – “I can’t help you, Mister Trail! Good day!”

    “But, you HAVE to help me! After all, this is my area, and I expect you to remember WHOM you are speaking with! You are speaking to someone who is very popular in his community in the southern part of the state! ….Besides, this will make a good story, and if I don’t make a good story soon, my editor, Bill Ellis, said he will fire my ass!”

  91. Nehemiah Scudder
    May 19th, 2012 at 1:41 pm [Reply]

    The Arrival of the Mailman

    A balloon from the parade followed him home.
    Maybe that’s what Skittles dream was trying to tell me:
    I find golf balls.

    Astrobiologist, the greatest profession.
    Really, is that what you think?
    Not a care in the world, just eat and sleep all day,

    And I was wrong about something.
    I will unmask the villains among us.
    You’re cool with moving to India, right?

    Oh please keep your walnut, my outdoor concerts are free.

  92. seismic-2
    May 19th, 2012 at 1:42 pm [Reply]

    MW: I’d probably burst into tears, too, if Karl Malden had just punched me in the arm.

  93. Calico
    May 19th, 2012 at 1:44 pm [Reply]

    @Nehemiah Scudder (#91):
    My goodness, what did you sprinkle on your pancakes this AM? : )

  94. MKP
    May 19th, 2012 at 1:45 pm [Reply]

    SM Good lord what is happening to MJ’s claw? I would be concerned more about the palm/finger/wrist proportion meltdown disaster than any creep she was talking to. Yikes.

  95. Calico
    May 19th, 2012 at 1:46 pm [Reply]

    @tallyHO (#86):
    That bear is white because it’s covered in mayonnaise.

  96. Calico
    May 19th, 2012 at 1:49 pm [Reply]

    @commodorejohn (#75):
    MW – Return of the Giant Sandwich
    *Doodly doodly doodly doddly*

  97. Frank Lee Meidere
    May 19th, 2012 at 1:59 pm [Reply]

    @Nehemiah Scudder (#91): *Applause* You’ve just created a new category: Found Poetry in the Comics Section.

  98. A Smirch Unheeded
    May 19th, 2012 at 2:09 pm [Reply]

    @Frank Lee Meidere (#97): Thanks, but I don’t think it’s new – I vaguely remember seeing the Elder Mudgers do it way back when I was only an occasional lurker. Something about today’s Slurper crop struck me as very Wallace Stevensish, tho, and it had to be dealt with.

  99. A Smirch Unheeded
    May 19th, 2012 at 2:11 pm [Reply]

    @A Smirch Unheeded (#98): Or, Nehemiah might say that, if he hadn’t been suddenly called away to deal with a spiritual crisis. A pastors work is never done.

  100. A Smirch Unheeded
    May 19th, 2012 at 2:12 pm [Reply]

    @A Smirch Unheeded (#99): pastor’s work, that is.

    // This is why I’m stuck at deacon.

  101. Cloudbuster
    May 19th, 2012 at 2:13 pm [Reply]

    FW: … and then everyone joined together and beat the crap out of that intolerant old lady! We hate intolerance!

  102. Cloudbuster
    May 19th, 2012 at 2:18 pm [Reply]

  103. Nehemiah Scudder
    May 19th, 2012 at 2:21 pm [Reply]

    @Cloudbuster (#101): FW: … and then everyone joined together and beat the crap out of that intolerant old lady! We hate intolerance!

    Oh my goodness! Is it National Brotherhood Week again already?

  104. Cloudbuster
    May 19th, 2012 at 2:22 pm [Reply]

    A3G: “You understand women, Margo!”


  105. bats :[
    May 19th, 2012 at 2:28 pm [Reply]

    @Nehemiah Scudder (#103): no, I just think the Sanctimonious Duo is out in full force this week…

  106. Frank Lee Meidere
    May 19th, 2012 at 2:36 pm [Reply]

    FW: There are so many annoying elements to this arc that it’s hard to settle on just one, but the most maddening is the principal’s argument that because the school doesn’t have a policy of intolerance, they must therefore be tolerant. It doesn’t work that way, and anyone who’s ever been even remotely connected to the school system should know that — certainly someone who was once a teacher. The policies spell out what can and can’t be done, and in 2012 (or 2011, since Batiuk writes his stuff a year in advance of publication), the gay issue would certainly be spelled out in numbered paragraphs.

    This complete lack of understanding of how schools work might be acceptable in a strip like Mark Trail, where the author/artist makes no claim to any knowledge of the subject, but when so much of Batiuk’s reputation comes from his background as a teacher it’s inexcusable. It’s like Neil Armstrong writing a comic strip about space travel in which the main character operates the craft with a steering wheel and clutch.

  107. tallyHO
    May 19th, 2012 at 2:38 pm [Reply]

    @Calico (#95):
    Sorry it took so long for me to reply. I fainted.

  108. greghousesgf
    May 19th, 2012 at 2:38 pm [Reply]

    @Jim North (#44): Crock: I knew Blackadder, Blackadder was a friend of mine, sir, you are no Blackadder.

  109. Rana the Pedantic Wet Blanket
    May 19th, 2012 at 2:50 pm [Reply]

    Following up on yesterday’s 9CL thought… Amos seems to be the only person in this drama who is being left out of the various Wall of Pretentious Words dialogues. Funny, I don’t remember him being a deaf-mute, but if he were, it would explain so, so much.

  110. commodorejohn
    May 19th, 2012 at 2:50 pm [Reply]

  111. Frank Lee Meidere
    May 19th, 2012 at 2:54 pm [Reply]

    @commodorejohn (#110): Interesting timing. I’m listening to it. A strong Yes/Wakeman vibe, to me. (That’s high praise, just to be clear.)

  112. Rana the Pedantic Wet Blanket
    May 19th, 2012 at 2:55 pm [Reply]

    @Frank Lee Meidere (#106): Well, he also seems to have lost whatever understanding he has of how relationships, and people, and comic strips work (plus air travel, text messaging, high school sports, and a host of other things), so I’m willing to give the not-understanding-schools thing a pass in specific, if not in general.

    Honestly, he might as well head down the road McE’s taken (noooooo!) where any deviations of his strip from reality are Proof of Artistic Genius, You Beefwits, rather than evidence that the comic’s creator hasn’t done his homework. Or he could head to soap strip land, where the use of vague details instead of overly specific (and wrong) ones prevails.

  113. Rocky Stoneaxe
    May 19th, 2012 at 2:55 pm [Reply]

    @Holly Folly (#6): The fact that Wilbur is stuck half in and half out of the mattress… makes me think that this is a fairly common occurrence.

    It’s part of Wilbur and Dawn’s cosplay. Wilbur is the mattress tag that reads: This tag may not be removed under penalty of law except by the consumer. Dawn is the scofflaw who removes the “tag” and is made to pay a “penalty”!

  114. Dagger
    May 19th, 2012 at 3:00 pm [Reply]

    Peter reveals that his powers are even more useless than we thought. “That brute with the mechanical arms is terrorizing the city! My spider-sense is telling me that I dislike that!”

  115. seismic-2
    May 19th, 2012 at 3:04 pm [Reply]

    MT: “You have some nerve coming here if you’re friends with the man who killed my husband!”
    “No, I don’t have some nerve, I’m just totally oblivious. Ask anyone!”

    Anyway, I really don’t mind that Selena Gomez is now appearing in this strip, just so long as it doesn’t lead to a Rusty-Trail-meets-Justin-Bieber fishing trip.

  116. commodorejohn
    May 19th, 2012 at 3:07 pm [Reply]

    @Frank Lee Meidere (#111): Interesting, I would’ve put it as more Pink Floyd or Hawkwind (though really I just made it up as I went along rather than trying to emulate a particular band.) But a Yes comparison is even more of a compliment… :D

  117. tallyHO
    May 19th, 2012 at 3:10 pm [Reply]

    @Dagger (#114):
    You know, I do worry that someday that Spider sense will lead to him missing the warning signs for a stroke.

  118. Dennis
    May 19th, 2012 at 3:18 pm [Reply]

    @Señor Tortilla (#50): You really gotta hand it to Batyuck and Evans. Only they can make a card carrying villain strawman who is only slightly less sympathetic than the “progressive” main characters.

  119. Alison
    May 19th, 2012 at 3:19 pm [Reply]

    “Spider-Man”: Wait. The guy is a creep because he’s being nice? Or something. What?

    Also, M.J.’s hand looks like a lobster’s claw in the second panel. Snap snap snap snap.

  120. tallyHO
    May 19th, 2012 at 3:36 pm [Reply]

    The Incorrigible Spider Mensch

    Okay, breakdown time…well, breakdown time, part II. The first one was a nervous one which was suffered at the thought of a mayonnaise bear. (eeeeeugh! the vapors!)

    For this strip, I’m not sure who Jebidiah Brand is supposed to be. In fact, I’m not sure if the character’s first name is Jebidiah either. Fortunately, this ignorance should not preclude me from performing an analysis of the strip.

    Surely, this character is a movie star who is either slumming or shining on off-off broadway. He’s doing it for the art. Hoo boiy!

    While I’d guess he’s based on Robert Goulet (<—-Youtubelink), I am sure he could be based on Robert Downey, Jr. Esq., the Rich. But, he could also be Tom Selleck. Or, it could be what Stan Lee wishes he looked like on the silver screen in order for his roles to be less buffoonish ones.

    Or, it could even be Kevin Kline. Now, Kevin Kline is quite likely because Kevin Kline probably would do an off-off broadway production as a third string actor who followed two no-name actors, with one having his sights set not on stardom but on evildoing, in a clownish way.

    So, yeah. I could see that being Kevin Kline.

    In panel one, that is Kevin Kline posing as R. Crumb’s Mr. Natural. He’s continues to Keep On Truckin’!

    In panel two, the aforementioned claw that is MJ’s right hand has a flaccid penis in the negative space of that awkward thumb and forefinger. She’s introducing Peter.

    The movie star claims he will get along famously with Peter. At least he’s not being a dick about it.
    Now, this statement makes me believe that he may not be based on Kevin Kline because K.K. seems like the kind of guy who would only say that about someone more famous than himself. That puts the ball back into corner of Stan Lee’s Idealized Self. Stan Lee would recognize that he is second or third banana to one of his co-creations.

    And, finally, there is panel three: That’s some straight up, self-loathing if it is indeed an avatar for Stan Lee. On the other hand, if it is Robert Downey, Jr., Tom Selleck, or Kevin Kline, one would think Peter would be making goo-goo eyes with him. Instead he seems to have ‘stache envy going on.

  121. tallyHO
    May 19th, 2012 at 3:43 pm [Reply]


    The untold story that is in the missing second panel:

    In other news, an ironic drive-by shooting occurred today in Pluggervainia. Two pluggers were standing by the mailbox awaiting the mailman when the mailman decided to go postal and plug the pluggers.

    Film at Past Pluggers’ Bedtime.

  122. tallyHO
    May 19th, 2012 at 3:45 pm [Reply]

    Somewhere in Hootin’ Holler, Snuffy Smiff, Hamhock Rasta, is singing:

    I Plugged the Plugger!
    Then I Plugged his chickenlady!

  123. NoahSnark
    May 19th, 2012 at 3:49 pm [Reply]

    The highlight of the mailman’s day is imagining horrible things happening to the Pluggers he meets on his route.

  124. Artist formerly known as Ben
    May 19th, 2012 at 3:59 pm [Reply]

    S-M: To be fair, Peter’s sexual jealousy does seem much more active than his spider sense. Is it more useful? It could hardly be less so.

    Pluggers: Mail carriers in the non-Plugger world don’t know how lucky they are. They only have to worry about dogs biting them, not droning on about their hip replacements.

    MW: “Oh honey, are you going to give up on life and love after a minor setback? Speaking as a Weston, I’ve never been more proud to be your father.”

    Crock: While it probably won’t make him hate this site any less, I’ll give props to Kevin Rechin here. While ending the strip he’s actually giving it a proper resolution. One that takes advantage of the DADT repeal, if I’m reading right.

    A3G: “Look Scott, I’ve had intimate relations with at least half your past fiancees, and they were nothing to write home about.”

    BB: The mascot of the Log Cabin Republicans has attached itself to Zero.

    H-Cliff: Heathcliff likes Ricola cough drops on his pizza?

    Lockhorns: Hey Leroy, why don’t you leave the comedy to your dinner guest, Peter Sellers?

    GA: “Got lucky” as in “had sex”? That’s disgusting! Lucky is still clearly a minor!

    Phantom: There are many mixed feelings involved when you think you’ve killed your best friend, but he turns up on your TV set, threatening you in a luchador mask. Trust me on this.

    C-Shaft: That’s… not a punchline. Not even close to one. Although I can amuse myself at wondering what would happen if you held up players behind you for ninety minutes while picking clovers.

    H&J: No matter which way the economy goes, Rev Croom won’t have any money troubles. He’s got an ironclad side business blackmailing politicians.

  125. He Brought Queenie Baby Jesus
    May 19th, 2012 at 4:01 pm [Reply]

    I like Iris, but she needs to be drunk more.

  126. Artist formerly known as Ben
    May 19th, 2012 at 4:02 pm [Reply]

    @Frank Lee Meidere (#106):

    It’s like Neil Armstrong writing a comic strip about space travel in which the main character operates the craft with a steering wheel and clutch.

    Except that would be fun to read.

  127. sporknpork
    May 19th, 2012 at 4:03 pm [Reply]

    If Spiderman teaches you anything, it’s that if you ever lose a thumb to leprosy, your index finger will shift to compensate for the loss.

  128. tallyHO
    May 19th, 2012 at 4:25 pm [Reply]

    Theeeey’re the pluggers that you meet/
    When you’re plugging down the street/
    They’re the pluggers that you plug each day!

    Isn’t that right, chicken-lovin’ dog?

    Oooooh, who are the pluggers in your neighborhood?
    Do you know they’re good?
    In your neighborhood?
    Are they spayed, neutered or tasty good?

    They’re the pluggers that you meet each day!

  129. Nehemiah Scudder
    May 19th, 2012 at 4:44 pm [Reply]

    @Artist formerly known as Ben (#126): Heh, heh. Yes it would.

  130. Inexplicable Bear Tongue
    May 19th, 2012 at 4:49 pm [Reply]

    I’m telling you, that’s a sentient bear that Dawn has on her bed, and he’s been doing nothing but ripping gloriously satisfying farts the whole time.

  131. Emperor Joseph II
    May 19th, 2012 at 4:51 pm [Reply]

    @commodorejohn (#116): Too many notes.

  132. Inexplicable Bear Tongue
    May 19th, 2012 at 4:54 pm [Reply]

    BTW: JP: You have to know that at the end of this book contract sequence, Sam’s totally going to be owning that private jet.

  133. Jim North
    May 19th, 2012 at 4:55 pm [Reply]

    @Inexplicable Bear Tongue (#130): He’s also voiced by Seth MacFarlane!

  134. Artist formerly known as Ben
    May 19th, 2012 at 5:02 pm [Reply]

    @[Old Man] Muffaroo (#56):

    Mary – Sing it, Dawn!
    “Oh, why does the fridge keep on humming?
    Why does the mayo still spread?
    Don’t they know it’s The End of the World?
    It ended when my boyfriend fled!”

    That’s a song always brings a tear to my eye and a rumble to my tummy.

    HOTC: I’m afraid the time when you could make a convincing schoolyard bully with feathered hair is a good two or three decades in the past.

  135. Poteet
    May 19th, 2012 at 5:06 pm [Reply]

  136. Calico
    May 19th, 2012 at 5:07 pm [Reply]

    @He Brought Queenie Baby Jesus (#125):
    Oh, she will be, once she has to confront Mabel.
    If we’re not going to get a catfight in the lily pond, at least I want Iris and/or Mabel to go flat-out crazy like Jill in MW or Nick Cage in “Leaving Las Vegas.”
    (Refer to casino scene)

  137. Poteet
    May 19th, 2012 at 5:09 pm [Reply]

    Belated congratulations to Ed Dravecky and the fabulous floaters! This was an outstandingly funny week, and it’s a surprising honor to be up here eating more chocolate than I toss.

  138. Frank Lee Meidere
    May 19th, 2012 at 5:10 pm [Reply]

    H&J: Okay, now I know Herb and Jamaal aren’t Catholics, are they? And while there is some emphasis on confession in the higher Anglican churches, it’s not at all common among Protestants. So…what the hell church is this?

    I might also add that I am aware of no church in which the confessional sits alone in a room while the priest sits outside talking through a screen. I suspect that the whole confession thing is new to this particular church, and because they didn’t have proper confessionals, someone went bought a porta-potty and cut a hole in the side for the grill.

  139. Calico
    May 19th, 2012 at 5:13 pm [Reply]

    @tallyHO (#128):
    Oooooooooh, love to plug you baby
    (repeat 37 times)
    RIP Ms. Summer.

  140. Rocky Stoneaxe
    May 19th, 2012 at 5:21 pm [Reply]

    @Rana the Pedantic Wet Blanket (#112): Or he could head to soap strip land, where the use of vague details instead of overly specific (and wrong) ones prevails.

    Actually, it sounds like Herb and Jamaal-land to me. (Seriously, Batiuk could take lessons from Stephen Bentley!)

  141. commodorejohn
    May 19th, 2012 at 5:23 pm [Reply]

    @Emperor Joseph II (#131): Are you suggesting I cut some? You beefwit, don’t you understand Art?

    …oh dear. I haven’t been transmigrated into the life of Mozart, have I? Or has Mozart suddenly found himself working at a call center in Duluth?

    Brooke’s at fault for this, I just know it.

  142. Poteet
    May 19th, 2012 at 5:27 pm [Reply]

    @Frank Lee Meidere (#106): Thank you. Even to some of us who don’t know schools, his version doesn’t make sense.

  143. Cloudbuster
    May 19th, 2012 at 5:30 pm [Reply]

    @Artist formerly known as Ben (#126): @Frank Lee Meidere (#106): Except half the hard “sci-fi” novels out there these days routinely make scientific errors so egregious, it might as well be the same thing. I’m sure the old masters are spinning in their graves/nursing homes.

  144. Poteet
    May 19th, 2012 at 5:33 pm [Reply]

    S-M — A few days ago, I postulated that S-M is now MJ’s coma dream. I’d like to thank this storyline for making that theory seem more plausible every day.

  145. Rocky Stoneaxe
    May 19th, 2012 at 5:37 pm [Reply]

    @tallyHO (#122): I prefer the Bob Marley/Dawn Weston version:

    I plugged the Plugger!
    But I didn’t shoot no chickenlady, oh no! Oh, god… no!

  146. Young Punk with a Gun
    May 19th, 2012 at 5:46 pm [Reply]

    I wish to advertise my services as a hit man for shooting Pluggers. I’m plugging my plugging the Pluggers.

  147. Señor Tortilla
    May 19th, 2012 at 5:48 pm [Reply]

    @Frank Lee Meidere (#106): I suspect Batiuk hasn’t stepped foot in a high school or interacted with high schoolers in years. One word: “Vendos”.

  148. Johnny S
    May 19th, 2012 at 5:50 pm [Reply]

    SM Peter better rely less on his Spidey Senses and more on his gaydar. I don’t think Mary Jane is the one this handsome actor has in his sights!

    RM “…yes, thanks for reminding me. And isn’t that the dress you wore to the horrible bitch meeting?”

  149. This Guy
    May 19th, 2012 at 5:51 pm [Reply]

    Even when Tom Batiuk strikes a blow for a naked awards grab tolerance, it’s pretty weak tea. The principal refuses to engage in segregation because the handbook doesn’t tell him he should? Way to take a stand, buddy. Couldn’t muster up an argument like “bigotry is wrong,” or “this is no different than when schools might have forbidden interracial couples decades ago”? Nope. For him, it’s “I’ll strip away the rights of my students when so ordered and no sooner!”

  150. This Guy
    May 19th, 2012 at 5:52 pm [Reply]

    @Young Punk with a Gun (#146): As Juvenal wrote: “Who shall plug the pluggers themselves?”

  151. Frank Lee Meidere
    May 19th, 2012 at 5:55 pm [Reply]

    @Cloudbuster (#143): It’s funny, my wife and I were talking about that just a couple of hours ago when we were out. We were commenting on the excellence of Firefly, but noting that even shows like Space: Above and Beyond, which had terrible science (a ship that had lost power rocked back and forth in space, like a vessel on the sea) still manage to find their ways into our hearts because we liked the characters. Batiuk has neither the “science” (in this case, a working knowledge of school policies) nor likeable characters. If it were a science fiction show, it would be Heroes — a dumb but enjoyable beginning (the early Funky years) followed by a drawn-out collapse into irrelevancy and incoherence.

  152. Calico
    May 19th, 2012 at 5:56 pm [Reply]

    @This Guy (#150):
    Well, our young Tortie cat, for one – she caught a baby robin yesterday evening and enjoyed a succulent wild supper outdoors sitting in the Pachysandria.

    We now need some additional plugs to plug the pluggers of Pluggers.

  153. This Guy
    May 19th, 2012 at 5:56 pm [Reply]

    @mojo (#21): In fairness, I’m not sure we know how old Dawn is. The art makes it impossible to tell characters’ ages, inasmuch as it only approximates the human form. We interpret the characters as being human in much the same way we can recognize words with their medial letters scrambled.

  154. Frank Lee Meidere
    May 19th, 2012 at 6:00 pm [Reply]

    @Señor Tortilla (#147): That would be very comforting to believe, however, in its story on his bold “Gay Prom” story line,’s “Today Books” (May 2, 2012) claims that “Batiuk still serves as a substitute teacher at his alma mater.

  155. CanuckDownSouth
    May 19th, 2012 at 6:02 pm [Reply]

    @Cloudbuster (#143): And movies, and TV… I remember wanting to yell at Deep Impact “you can’t get an orbit from one epoch! It would take 20 seconds to show an image archive search!”

    This fall, I’m probably going to cringe at whatever technobabble they use for a new show called “Revolution”, where all forms of power quit working all at once 15 years before. As in even batteries. Because you can alter the rules of physics to screw up one particular subset of chemical processes and certain types of EM fields without utterly remaking all chemical bonding rules, never mind everything involving atomic energies and thus fundamental forces. Suuurre.

    (Sorry, a bit of a pet peeve, but thinking that you can change one bit of the interconnected physical laws without screwing everything up is one of the ways that I get students telling me the universe is 6000 years old even as we discuss what we learn from the light of stars billions of lightyears away… arrgh.)

  156. CanuckDownSouth
    May 19th, 2012 at 6:04 pm [Reply]

    * oh yes, and remaking the rules not to allow electricity, but our bodies keep functioning with all their electrical signalling? Riiiight

  157. tallyHO
    May 19th, 2012 at 6:05 pm [Reply]

    @Calico (#152):
    “We now need some additional plugs to plug the pluggers of Pluggers.”

    Plug-getabout it!

    Though I do wonder if:

    A plugger doesn’t eat square meals. Square meals plug up the dentures.

    To a plugger, fine italian cuisine includes leftover pluggetti and plugballs.

    However, I wonder too much.

  158. commodorejohn
    May 19th, 2012 at 6:11 pm [Reply]

    @CanuckDownSouth (#155): Ten bucks says someone responds to you with “oh, it’s conceptual, man! You’re not supposed to think about it!”

  159. Droopy Says
    May 19th, 2012 at 6:14 pm [Reply]

    @Señor Tortilla (#50): (concerning FW as ehT kcuD): wouldn’t explain the non-political storylines (such as the Specialist Snowflake and her ACL).

    That would be “lib’ruls turn kids into such PC zombies that they lose one for the Gipper” and “you recover by toughing it out at home, not by seeing some gosh-dang physeecal therapist.” Next up, we’ll learn why the Specialest Snowflake doesn’t really need college.

  160. Yr Obt Servt
    May 19th, 2012 at 6:14 pm [Reply]

    Luann is skirting dangerously close to a class-action lawsuit over its’ stereotypical portrayal of lummoxes.

  161. Frank Lee Meidere
    May 19th, 2012 at 6:18 pm [Reply]

    @commodorejohn (#158): Arggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggh!

  162. Poteet
    May 19th, 2012 at 6:20 pm [Reply]

    @CanuckDownSouth (#156): Thanks for the warning. (Note to self — avoid REVOLUTION.) One reason I quit reading sci-fi years ago was the inability of certain authors to create alien ecologies that made sense. If I want to read ecologically-illiterate prose, there are plenty of non-fiction sources.

  163. Frank Lee Meidere
    May 19th, 2012 at 6:25 pm [Reply]

    @CanuckDownSouth (#155):

    I get students telling me the universe is 6000 years old even as we discuss what we learn from the light of stars billions of lightyears away

    Oh come on. That’s easy. The speed of light is not constant, but increases exponentially. This increase in speed is extremely small for the first light year or so, and therefore is undetectable to our instruments. After that, however, it begins to double in speed. This means that our concept of a lightyear is incorrect, since a lightyear is longer or shorter depending upon how far from the original source it is. However, if we use the common meaning of the measurement “lighyear,” then the light from a star one billion lightyears away would only take about five to six thousand years to reach us.

  164. Droopy Says
    May 19th, 2012 at 6:33 pm [Reply]

    @Frank Lee Meidere (#163): But then you get into the problem thatCanuckDownSouth mentioned earlier: change one constant and you change everything else.

    The explanation I’ve heard from creationists is that their God created the universe so that it appeared to be old, which meant creating light that seemed to have been on its way for billions of years. It’s a test of faith, or something. The best refutation I ever heard for that came from a rocket engineer who was also a devout Christian: “My God wouldn’t test my faith by creating a lie.”

  165. Frank Lee Meidere
    May 19th, 2012 at 6:34 pm [Reply]

    @CanuckDownSouth (#156):

    * oh yes, and remaking the rules not to allow electricity, but our bodies keep functioning with all their electrical signalling? Riiiight

    You’re forgetting the élan vital that permeates all living things. This combines with the electromagnetic field of organisms, allowing electrical impusles to continue working. (Of course, I’ve got nothing for why molecules would hold together or recombine, but I’m sure something could be worked out.)

  166. Frank Lee Meidere
    May 19th, 2012 at 6:36 pm [Reply]

    @Droopy Says (#164): I don’t think there’s anything about an increasing speed of light that would affect anything within our own directly-observable part of the universe — and all it would do for anything farther out would be screw up our idea of how far away and how old they are.

  167. seismic-2
    May 19th, 2012 at 6:36 pm [Reply]

    @Poteet (#162): “One reason I quit reading sci-fi years ago was the inability of certain authors to create alien ecologies that made sense.

    Two words: Westview, Ohio.

  168. CanuckDownSouth
    May 19th, 2012 at 6:41 pm [Reply]

    @Frank Lee Meidere (#163): I know you’re just being facetious, but “alpha” = fine structure constant = foundation of many nuclear processes. And we’ve got astrophysical limits on the variation of “alpha” (and so of 1/c) down to parts per million over billion-year timescales due to the consistent relative strengths of lines depending on energies which depend on alpha^N (with different N for different energy levels). But say this and they’ll retreat back a level to “can you reproduce it in a lab? have you observed it yourself for a billion years? then it’s not proven”

  169. Zerowolf
    May 19th, 2012 at 6:47 pm [Reply]

    MW: I swat you like fly.

  170. Frank Lee Meidere
    May 19th, 2012 at 6:54 pm [Reply]

    @CanuckDownSouth (#168): Partly facetious, but also making the point that it only takes a few minutes to come up with something that will give some semblance of consistency to the physics of a story — at least enough consistency not to throw relatively-knowledgeable people out of the plot — and yet so few TV writers can be bothered to even try. Star Trek at least had a batch of pseudo-technical babble to explain FTL drives, and of course, Whedon got around it by simply not allowing FTL in the first place. (And having the characters wrap a spacesuit around a traditional gunpowder rifle in order to allow it to work in a vacuum.)

    I accept that stories involving some change in physics won’t necessarily explain every detail — what really pisses me off is the complete absence of even the slightest effort to apply some degree of consistency. Hell, gather a few science fiction fans together, explain the premise of your show, and let them talk for an hour. That’s pretty much all it would take. And you could pay them with some coffee, pastries, and signed copies of the Firefly cast.

  171. seismic-2
    May 19th, 2012 at 7:02 pm [Reply]

    @Frank Lee Meidere (#163): There’s no need to devise such an elaborate explanation. Just postulate that all the photons that we see now from the distant stars were created 6000 light-years away from the earth, on a raypath pointing to the stars that were created at the same instant, with a spectral distribution that shows them at the already advanced age at which they were created.

    Remember, when Slartibartfast built the earth, he had to bury all the skeletons of the dinosaurs and other species that never lived, making sure to put them in the proper rock strata that would have been laid down at that same time, had those different geological epochs actually existed, which they didn’t.

  172. demoncat
    May 19th, 2012 at 7:03 pm [Reply]

    rm .that is a lovely dress iris. thanks june its my death dress i wore it with the idea to add mabel to my death count as payback for whacking my dad. mary worth and after even trying to violently shake some sense into his daughter wilbur relizes he must now go and once again seek out mary worth.

  173. Chip Whittle
    May 19th, 2012 at 7:09 pm [Reply]

    @Cloudbuster (#143):

    Except half the hard “sci-fi” novels out there these days routinely make scientific errors so egregious, it might as well be the same thing.

    As opposed to the old days, when you could be a renowned hard sci-fi writer and make mistakes like having the Earth spin in the wrong direction.

  174. Frank Lee Meidere
    May 19th, 2012 at 7:09 pm [Reply]

    @seismic-2 (#171): True, but I’m trying to keep away from the more supernatural explanations. Now that you’ve brought it up, however, this is why some of the fantasy shows bug me — they have even more resources at their disposal for creating a coherent world, yet so often fail to do so.

  175. Frank Lee Meidere
    May 19th, 2012 at 7:16 pm [Reply]

    @Chip Whittle (#173): I have a copy of one of the first science fiction books I ever read. It was published in 1955, only two years after I was born, and I must have read it in 1959 or 1960. It’s called Kemlo and the Space Lane, by E. C. Eliott. The story involves the building of space habitats in Earth orbit, but the big catch is that humanity now has two branches: those born on Earth, who are normal, and those born in space who can live in vacuum. Even as a kid I could never wrap my head around how that could happen. If they were born in space, they’d still be born in an atmosphere since their mothers would have been living in some kind of habitat suitable for humans — unless their mothers were inexplicably forced to give birth in vacuum, thereby killing them.

    Being an engineer, Eliott’s engineering details are quite good, but the rest? Well…

  176. Frank Lee Meidere
    May 19th, 2012 at 7:17 pm [Reply]

    @Chip Whittle (#173): PS: Which writer are you thinking of?

    May 19th, 2012 at 7:24 pm [Reply]

    @queek, source of Cuteness, Kawaii Commando (#69):

    there were no nuts attached

  178. Nehemiah Scudder
    May 19th, 2012 at 7:30 pm [Reply]

    @CanuckDownSouth (#168): Excellent! So you see, you have all these unprovable “scientific” theories, as opposed to the hard evidence of the Bible, where it says in plain English that so-and-so was begat by so-and-so, who was begat by so-and-so, including how long everyone of the begetters lived, so calculating the age of the universe is simple arithmetic. Observation beats equations, right? Bishop Ussher for the win!

  179. Crankenstank
    May 19th, 2012 at 7:40 pm [Reply]

    I dunno, I’m more optimistic about today’s Pluggers, since the Plugger in question is a dog…and dogs have a well-known comic-strip relationship with mailman that can only end in one way: hilarity.

  180. Rocky Stoneaxe
    May 19th, 2012 at 7:50 pm [Reply]

    @Droopy Says (#159): “Knute Rockne All American” is on TCM tonight, so the George Gipper reference seems fitting.

    @Crankenstank (#179): Assuming both Pluggers follow their natural urges, Earl will chase the mailman’s truck. And Henrietta will cross the road. (Why? To get to the other side, of course!)

  181. Chip Whittle
    May 19th, 2012 at 7:51 pm [Reply]

    @Frank Lee Meidere (#176): Larry Niven. Specifically, the first edition of Ringworld had Louis Wu dragging out his birthday by moving east faster than the sun, which is as wrong as you can get and not be written by Tom Batiuk.

    And, yeah, that’s really more a typo than a significant error–it’s something fixed on the editorial stage (and was before the second printing) and it doesn’t make any difference–but you can pretty much take any classic of hard science fiction and tear apart its actual science, from commonly-accepted-but-just-plain-wrong stuff (even Hal Clement, the poster child for Worked Out The Numbers before Greg Egan got into things, accepts faster-than-light travel in many stories) to the-numbers-don’t-add-up stuff (this one will kill just about any science fiction story, especially ones that go into space, faster than light or not) to just “science fiction writer said something about biology” (which, at the risk of generalizing, writers don’t deign to learn about before spinning stuff out).

    I like hard science fiction, but its claims to respecting Real Science are better considered a marketing ploy than any respect for actual science content. “Soft” science fiction is probably better at not contradicting the real world, since it will often avoid the sorts of details that let someone actually prove a thing can’t happen as described.

    I’d also point out writers are correct to do a story that’s interesting than to fret too much about science points. “What if light of different colors travelled at different speeds?” is a neat idea and it’s fun to play with. The toy doesn’t have to be as full and coherent as the whole universe; it has to be fun to play with.

  182. Liam
    May 19th, 2012 at 8:01 pm [Reply]

    RMMD-If you are going to toss that dress might I suggest you toss it into your father’s grave during the funeral.

    MT-Would you consider the man who shot my husband as an enemy? I would but since he is a friend of yours then I won’t consider him an enemy of my husband’s.

  183. tallyHO
    May 19th, 2012 at 8:07 pm [Reply]

    @Rocky Stoneaxe (#180):
    Well, it depends upon how you define their natural urges….
    and if the only thing which happens is mail is delivered and nothing else.

    yours and @Crankenstank (#179): ’s would be funny and likely if they behave as dogs or chickens. But, they just look like a dog and a giant chicken. So, if they act like Pluggers then one of two things will happen:

    The do not get any mail and slowly walk back to their abode and watch TV.

    They do get mail and they stand there reading it as if they are important. The point being to leave the window open long enough that their other plugger neighbors see them reading the mail. Hence, they show that they still matter to someone; that they are not completely forgotten to others who are not their neighbors.

    But, it would also be possible that if they dropped the mail on the ground they would try to pick the envelopes up by manically pecking and pawing at the ground. Then any neighbors witnessing this would probably say, “Oh that Merle and Cluckina! I’ma gonna join in the fun!”

    So they run out and start doing the same thing. Then the runaway semi-truck finishes the scene. Of course, it will turn out the driver was plugger who had his earplugs plugged into his furry ears.

  184. tallyHO
    May 19th, 2012 at 8:19 pm [Reply]

    @tallyHO (#183):

    Byeeeeee, byeeeeee
    Pluggermerican Guy

    Took a plugger to the levy
    but the plugger was dry
    Good ol’ plug pluggin’
    pluggin plug plug
    This’ll be a good day
    to sigh.
    This’ll be the day that
    I siiiiighh!

  185. Rocky Stoneaxe
    May 19th, 2012 at 8:25 pm [Reply]

    FW — Becky’s father finally shows that he has a backbone by standing up to his wife. Probably the most courage he’s shown since his days as a Freedom Rider in the segregated South. (Mr. Blackburn’s spinal column is like Marmaduke’s schlong — none of us has actually seen it, but we have to assume it’s there!)

  186. Harold
    May 19th, 2012 at 8:26 pm [Reply]

    Readers new to this Rex Morgan storyline may be surprised to learn that Iris and her husband apparently both wear the same dress size.

  187. The Ridger
    May 19th, 2012 at 8:28 pm [Reply]

    @CanuckDownSouth (#45): Well, yes, you are totally correct about that. She clearly killed her husband with Gene’s rifle, and is framing him, and only Mark will be able to save the day.

  188. [Old Man] Muffaroo
    May 19th, 2012 at 8:39 pm [Reply]

    @Droopy Says (#164): …change one constant and you change everything else.
    I understand constant change is here to stay.

    @Chip Whittle (#173): As opposed to the old days, when you could be a renowned hard sci-fi writer and make mistakes like having the Earth spin in the wrong direction.
    Nowadays we have spin doctors.

  189. tallyHO
    May 19th, 2012 at 8:44 pm [Reply]

    @The Ridger (#187):
    But does that explain why Gene (the chubby MarkTrail PrisonLover) is always smiling?

    I guess it does. I hope that is the only reason why he is smiling.
    Dude could have a Lost Forest Midget Weasel running around in his pants as far as we know.

  190. Rocky Stoneaxe
    May 19th, 2012 at 8:44 pm [Reply]

    @Calico (#152): Have you considered adopting a Zombie Cat?

  191. The Ridger
    May 19th, 2012 at 8:46 pm [Reply]

    @tallyHO (#189): We will never know why Gene is always smiling. And we should be grateful for that.

  192. tallyHO
    May 19th, 2012 at 8:55 pm [Reply]

    @The Ridger (#191):
    I’ll be honest here: even if it was hard to believe that he didn’t kill someone, seeing him constantly smiling would make me think he was nuts and guilty as sin.

    If he didn’t do it, if he was innocent, why not show him as being worried or cautiously hopefully? Even the latter doesn’t include constant smiling, just occasionally looking like he has a positive attitude.

    As it is now, my takeaway would be worried he’s already cracked up because he looks like he’s got a nervous chuckle going on.

    This is all the fault of the art and maybe the writing. But, the art–what we are shown– matters completely. Even if it is a head fake, a red herring or something, it looks like an inappropriate expression for the circumstance he is in.

  193. Frank Lee Meidere
    May 19th, 2012 at 8:56 pm [Reply]

    @Chip Whittle (#181): Yes, that’s one I’d count as a minor blip. It’s like saying “turn left” when you mean “turn right.” The serious hard science fiction writers really do try their best to get things right (Heinlein once famously spending several days with sheets of bucher paper calculating what stars would be seen out the port of a space ship at one particular point in its journey — I think that was for Space Cadets). I don’t demand such dedication from all of them, but I do expect at least a modicum of knowledge concerning their topic. And since almost every science fiction either involves science that is either contra-factual to what we know (such as FTL) or science that is predicted from the present into the future, there will always be errors. As you say, it’s the story that really counts. And the characters.

    But while I accept that as being true, I don’t accept that as an excuse.

    And as a PS — I always found Niven somewhat hard to take. His science was top notch, but his characters were, for me at least, completely forgettable. I thought his best work was with Pournelle, who managed to bring the human element to the stories.

  194. tallyHO
    May 19th, 2012 at 8:58 pm [Reply]

    That problem would be easily solved by making him look worried. All it takes is adding occasional forehead wrinkles and maybe constant bags under his eyes…..

    A teardrop tattoo next to his eye might give the wrong impression…if he is indeed innocent of this crime, that is.

  195. seismic-2
    May 19th, 2012 at 8:58 pm [Reply]

    @tallyHO (#192): Well, Gene is happy that his #1 rival, whom he hated so much that he punched him out, is now dead. He’s also happy that now he can’t be convicted of the crime, since all he has to do is claim that he wishes to be represented in court by Mark Trail, and he will immediately be found not guilty by reason of insanity.

  196. tallyHO
    May 19th, 2012 at 9:05 pm [Reply]

    @Frank Lee Meidere (#193):
    Sorry, my last post was following up on what I wrote above your post.

    That said, you wrote:
    “I always found Niven somewhat hard to take. His science was top notch, but his characters were, for me at least, completely forgettable.”

    I’m not a science fiction reader. Though I am sure I have read something by Niven. I take the fact that I can’t remember as being less about him and more about how I could never get into Sci-fi. I did try to get into a lot of different writers when I was young but rarely got through any of their novels.

    Mysteries on the other hand…yeah. Maybe if there was a good sci-fi mystery, I would have….nah…the spacey, futurey aspects would have nixed it.

    Movies are probably the only time I can accept the genre. Old, implausible, absurd ones work really well for me and new, overwhelming ones work okay. I’m not like some people who ruin it by saying X or Y is impossible. I’m not a prescriptivist or a literalist.

  197. tallyHO
    May 19th, 2012 at 9:06 pm [Reply]

    @seismic-2 (#195):
    I wonder what Mark Twain would say about that choice of counsel.

  198. Calico
    May 19th, 2012 at 9:15 pm [Reply]

    @Rocky Stoneaxe (#190):
    I wish I could adopt all cats, including zombie cats. : )

  199. Dale
    May 19th, 2012 at 9:23 pm [Reply]

    @Frank Lee Meidere (#170):

    I give up.
    What is a “traditional gunpowder rifle” and why won’t it work in a vacuum?
    Part of the propellant is an oxidizer.
    Rockets work in space, but that’s just NASA talking.

  200. Sgt. Stoned
    May 19th, 2012 at 9:25 pm [Reply]

    MW: Of course, Wilbur, a “blip on [a] radar screen” just might be an incoming nuclear-tipped ICBM or something else extremely significant.

  201. GrafSpee
    May 19th, 2012 at 9:36 pm [Reply]

    @queek, source of Cuteness, Kawaii Commando (#69): Your princess link doesn’t seem to go anywhere (I get a 404 page).

  202. kkarenb
    May 19th, 2012 at 9:48 pm [Reply]

    @commodorejohn (#75): Re: RMMD – She is wearing a bolero jacket. They reach only to the ribcage or thereabouts. I don’t know if they are still worn today, or if they are a fashion “don’t.”

    GT – Good grief, look at her right arm in the second panel. When she stands up, it must drag on the ground.

    FW – Something is wrong. Becky appears, but there is no pinned-up sleeve.

    A3G – Fiancees? Plural? I’m starting to think that Nina is a saint for putting up with this guy.

  203. Master Mahan
    May 19th, 2012 at 9:51 pm [Reply]

    The “movies’ top star” is a guy with a Clark Gable mustache? What decade is Spider-Man set in, anyway?

  204. Nehemiah Scudder
    May 19th, 2012 at 10:19 pm [Reply]

    @Frank Lee Meidere (#193): “You know, it must be springtime on Earth now.”

  205. seismic-2
    May 19th, 2012 at 10:21 pm [Reply]

    @Nehemiah Scudder (#204): Well, he has a 50-50 chance of being halfway right. That’s better than Spider-sense.

  206. Artist formerly known as Ben
    May 19th, 2012 at 10:27 pm [Reply]

    @Liam (#182):

    RMMD-If you are going to toss that dress might I suggest you toss it into your father’s grave during the funeral.

    “Hey Frank, I went to the craziest funeral the other day.”
    “I’m sorry to hear that, Pete. Who died?”
    “For the life of me I can’t remember.”

  207. Artist formerly known as Ben
    May 19th, 2012 at 10:32 pm [Reply]

    @Chip Whittle (#181): The science fiction fiction authors I enjoy the most are those who have their own vision and who have a good grip on character, not necessarily those who are most accurate in the technical details. I admire Joe Haldeman, who actually does have a science background – as does Gene Wolfe – but I’m pretty sure they’ll choose good storytelling over hard science every time.

  208. Chip Whittle
    May 19th, 2012 at 10:54 pm [Reply]

    @Frank Lee Meidere (#193):

    The serious hard science fiction writers really do try their best to get things right (Heinlein once famously spending several days with sheets of bucher paper calculating what stars would be seen out the port of a space ship at one particular point in its journey — I think that was for Space Cadets). I don’t demand such dedication from all of them, but I do expect at least a modicum of knowledge concerning their topic.

    At the risk of sounding snotty…that would be the Robert Heinlein who rather famously proposed using rocks thrown from the Moon as weapons against Earth. What makes this interesting is that using the ballistic impact and tidal wave data tables available to him at the time of writing, the depicted attack on the United Kingdom would produce flood tides almost as much as three inches high at Margate.

    Also in that book, Heinlein has a mountain destroyed by lunar impact bombardment. Again using impact estimators available at the time of writing, he could determine that the depicted vaporization would require around two hundred thousand impacts.

    Now, again, it’s fine to make stuff up, quantitatively or qualitatively [1], in the service of an interesting story. Science fiction writers are in the business of making stuff up to be interesting. But legends like the “days spent figuring out an orbit” are the ways science fiction writers and fans build up their celebrity, and are not reflective of the actual content of the books. It’s how the genre markets to its fans.

    [1] Great example. Fred Hoyle, The Black Cloud. A big cloud of interstellar dust–thin, but, considerable compared to what’s in our solar system presently–occupies the solar system. Sunlight is going to be dimmed by this, but, one of Hoyle’s characters points out an ingenious and counter-intuitive consequence: this should actually warm the Earth, as all that extra space dust soaks up solar energy and re-radiates it. Amazing, and, since this is a hard science fiction novel and one written by a name-brand astrophysicist, surely, something that actually would happen in the case. Except, well, no. It wouldn’t. The Earth would cool down because of the occluded sunlight and the re-radiation wouldn’t be worth a thing. He made it up to be more interesting, as well a novelist should.

  209. Frank Lee Meidere
    May 19th, 2012 at 11:03 pm [Reply]

    @Dale (#199): Damn! Damn, damn, damn! You forced me to look it up, and I discover that one of the tenets of sci-fi nerds, that gunpowder won’t work in a vacuum, turns out to be false. So one of the things I’ve always pointed to in Firefly as evidence of its attention to science, turns out instead to be misinformation.

    Again, I say — damn!

    Still a damned good show.

  210. Rocky Stoneaxe
    May 19th, 2012 at 11:05 pm [Reply]

    @The Ridger (#191): “We will never know why Gene is always smiling.”

    My Magic 8 Ball says “You may rely on it” in response to the question: Are Gene and TJ related?

  211. Frank Lee Meidere
    May 19th, 2012 at 11:08 pm [Reply]

    @Nehemiah Scudder (#204): Don’t recognise the source, but I love the quotation.

  212. tallyHO
    May 19th, 2012 at 11:12 pm [Reply]

    @Frank Lee Meidere (#209):
    Now see I do like “Serendipity”. Friends told me: it is the greatest movie ever ™ and I avoided it for that reason alone. If the tv show is a lot like that then I’d probably like it.

    This is odd for me to state but I think me not “getting” a lot of sci-fi novels and short stories, and becoming engrossed in it, is a failure of imagination on my part. Part of me doesn’t feel good about that but the other part doesn’t care because I like a lot of genre works explained using the written word.

  213. Frank Lee Meidere
    May 19th, 2012 at 11:13 pm [Reply]

    @Chip Whittle (#208): I won’t comment on the Heinlein elements, since it sounds like he got it wrong in detail more than in actual concept, but I’m surprised by the Fred Hoyle misstep. It’s been years since I read The Black Cloud, but as I recall, after we managed to communicate with it, the Cloud opened up a pathway for sunlight to get through in order to save the Earth. I remember this as being so that the Earth didn’t freeze. Was it so that the Earth wouldn’t overheat?

  214. Rana the Pedantic Wet Blanket
    May 19th, 2012 at 11:20 pm [Reply]

    This discussion of sci-fi and accuracy therein is reminding me why I tend to go for the sort of science fiction that focuses on the social sciences, rather than the hard ones. An awful lot of the physics oriented stuff seems bound up in some perceived obligation to lecture the reader about basic physics first (“This is a ram jet, and here’s how it works, down to the tiniest detail…” said the cardboard figure, pedantically, to another cardboard figure). The anthropological ones and some of the biological ones (like Octavia Butler’s stuff) generally go down easier for me.

    The writers who are more interested in setting up a generally consistent world (like David Brin, he of the very long books) and then letting their characters loose in it tend to appeal to me more than the ones that seem more interested in giving me science lectures in the form of narrative, though the best ones pass along information as they go, as a natural part of describing their characters and their actions.

    I’ve also discovered that some of the more thought-provoking stuff appears in the “young adult” section, perhaps because it’s under less pressure to adhere to existing genre tropes.

  215. Frank Lee Meidere
    May 19th, 2012 at 11:35 pm [Reply]

    @tallyHO (#212): Whedon does best with a broad canvas — the kind that can be supplied by weeks and weeks of a television series. Serenity is a damned good movie, but I don’t think it’s quite as good as the series itself, partly because the series spends more time with the people. The stories themselves are generally quite old — the whore house being threatened by a despotic town leader, the brilliant heist of a priceless object, and so on. That was part of the appeal of Firefly — it was just plain good story telling, and the science didn’t interfere one way or the other.

    I had this discussion with Robert Sawyer (a Canadian sci-fi writer) once after he’d made the typical derogatory comment that Heinlein was a “nuts and bolts writer, uninterested in character.” Just off the top of my head I started listing off stories like “Ordeal in Space” (an agoraphobic ex-spaceman who climbs out onto the ledge of a building to save a kitten), “Delilah and the Space Riggers” (the first woman on a construction crew in space), “The Man Who Travelled in Elephants” (a widower who, while going to the places he and his beloved wife used to go to is involved in an accident and dies, whereupon he meets up with his wife again), “It’s Great to be Back” (about a couple who, after living on the Moon for a while decide to return to their beloved Earth, only to find that they can no longer stand the dirt, noise, and general lack of manners), “Gentlemen Please Be Seated” (about a man who stops an air leak by sitting on it), and so many, many more.

    Hell, even his famous first-man-on-the-moon story, The Man Who Sold the Moon, is simply one man trying to raise funds for a shot at the moon — without a single scene set either in the rocket or on the moon.

    I do like science fiction that pays attention to science, but I’m far more interested in good story telling. And when they go together, it’s damned powerful stuff.

  216. Frank Lee Meidere
    May 19th, 2012 at 11:42 pm [Reply]

    @Rana the Pedantic Wet Blanket (#214): You get that lecturing stuff in both hard and soft sci-fi, and it’s annoying in both cases. The best manage to give you the necessary details as part of the story. The worst give you cardboard characters with metaphorical Powerpoint slides.

    I wonder if you’ve read Philip Kerr’s A Philosophical Investigation? It was written in 1994 and set in 2013, at a time when the British government has found the genetic tag for serial killers, and has tested everyone in the country, putting their results in a data base. One of the people classified as having the gene, and therefore being more prone to becoming a serial killer, breaks into the database and starts killing off potential serial killers. It’s a nice little piece of police procedural, science fiction, and some philosophical musings.

  217. Poteet
    May 19th, 2012 at 11:44 pm [Reply]

    @seismic-2 (#167): Yeah, that caged coyote ordered from a garden catalog was a wee bit too edgy for me.

  218. Frank Lee Meidere
    May 19th, 2012 at 11:48 pm [Reply]

    @tallyHO (#212): By the way, while I overall admire Whedon’s attempts to keep to science where it’s appropriate, and to at least keep a consistency to his worlds, can really pull some boners. In an early season of Buffy, for instance, she drowns and Angel pulls her out of the water. He is unable to give her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, however, because as a vampire he “has no breath.”

  219. Dr. Weird
    May 20th, 2012 at 12:11 am [Reply]

    @Rana the Pedantic Wet Blanket (#109):

    Following up on yesterday’s 9CL thought… Amos seems to be the only person in this drama who is being left out of the various Wall of Pretentious Words dialogues. Funny, I don’t remember him being a deaf-mute, but if he were, it would explain so, so much.

    In the color version, Amos’s head seems to disappear. Perhaps it symbolizes how he’s only a body to Edda, or that his words and thoughts on the situation are unimportant, even to himself.

    For a better take on the “power stops working” idea, CCers should check out S.M. Stirling’s “Dies the Fire” or “Emberverse” books, in which electrical power and fast combustion (including gunpowder) stop working suddenly and completely. The survivors work out that it must be caused by some powerful outside force, aliens or God or whatever, as the precision that it was applied had to be the work of an intelligent agency. Didn’t help them fix it though.

  220. Chance
    May 20th, 2012 at 12:11 am [Reply]

    @Frank Lee Meidere (#218): That’s ridiculous. He clearly blows.

    HA! Zing.

  221. seismic-2
    May 20th, 2012 at 12:28 am [Reply]

    @Frank Lee Meidere (#218): He of course has breath, but he inhales ordinary air and exhales pure carbon dioxide. Because that’s just the way vampires work, don’t you know.

  222. Frank Lee Meidere
    May 20th, 2012 at 12:30 am [Reply]

    @Dr. Weird (#219): That brought to mind a book I read back in the late ’60s, The Jesus Factor. It was discovered during the Manhattan Project that they couldn’t produce runaway nuclear fission, and therefore couldn’t produce an atomic bomb. On the other hand, they weren’t absolutely sure whether or not it might be possible, but they just couldn’t figure it out. So they faked it. They bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki with extremely high explosives while setting off high-intensity lights and spreading radioactive dust over the cities. The result was something that looked like an atomic bomb, but wasn’t.

    In order to keep the deception going, they had public above ground “tests” and did everything in their power to keep the Russians from knowing that they didn’t actually have a bomb. The Russians, meanwhile, were doing the same thing, out of fear that the Americans had actually developed the bomb when they couldn’t.

    I no longer recall if it was a good book (I would have been about 17 when I read it, and not terribly discerning), but it certainly was intriguing. And the slight change in physics was simple enough to be believable.

  223. Frank Lee Meidere
    May 20th, 2012 at 12:31 am [Reply]

    @Chance (#220): I believe you mean, “Bazinga!”

  224. Droopy Says
    May 20th, 2012 at 12:32 am [Reply]

    The A-snoozing Spiderman: Okay, didn’t they establish earlier that this play had just opened? And if Generic Brand has already endured several performances with MJ, why didn’t he introduce himself to the actress he so admires? Why didn’t anyone in the audience, or in the tabloid press, notice his presence? And why didn’t he get involved in the play before Hardly-Har-Har infested the scene (I know–here in the real world, the producer would have to negotiate with his agent, and that takes time. And we’ve already had the idiocy of Hardly-Har-Har getting hired, evidently right off the street.)

    Deathwatch: Let me spoil the joyous occasion with two portentuous words: Classic Crock.

    FC: A week at the mall with the melonheads will turn anyone into a bitch.

    FW: And, Batiuk, everyone has had more than enough of you!

    Mock Trail: Given the strip’s usual slow pace, it’s fitting that Trail would smile with enthusiasm as he discusses snails.

  225. Frank Lee Meidere
    May 20th, 2012 at 12:32 am [Reply]

    @seismic-2 (#221): Now see? With just a few minutes though you can come up with something that makes it consistent. And that’s why I get pissed at writers who don’t even try. (The Whedon mistake in this case doesn’t count, since it’s more in the form of a brain fart than a real error in his universe, and he never used it again — for obvious reasons.)

  226. Poteet
    May 20th, 2012 at 12:33 am [Reply]

    5/20 MW — I too believe in magic again. I figured Sunday would bring a recap of last week’s exciting action, and I wished really hard to be spared the sight of Gina’s ghastly ponytail, and behold! We were spared! I do believe in magic, I do I do I do!

  227. Droopy Says
    May 20th, 2012 at 12:39 am [Reply]

    @Frank Lee Meidere (#222): I remember that book. The “slight change” in physics was never explicitly described. Fission bombs worked, but only when at rest; they misfired when in motion. It was suggested this might be an effect of moving through the earth’s magnetic field.

  228. ElkMeadow
    May 20th, 2012 at 12:40 am [Reply]


    Kitchen Capers. Something about cooking. Wasn’t there something like this already? without the gags? (No pun intended. Maybe.)

  229. Frank Lee Meidere
    May 20th, 2012 at 12:48 am [Reply]

    @Droopy Says (#227): Was that the gimmick? I thought they simply didn’t work at all. And I liked the fact that the slight change wasn’t explained. They didn’t know why, and the reader didn’t know why, so there was no temptation to say, “But…but…but.”

    I’m happy to find out that someone else heard of the book. I had the impression it was pretty obscure.

  230. Poteet
    May 20th, 2012 at 1:15 am [Reply]

    PV — Margo, is that you??

  231. Droopy Says
    May 20th, 2012 at 1:47 am [Reply]

    @Frank Lee Meidere (#229): That’s how I remember the book. There was a world crisis where everyone wondered if Red China had an operational nuclear weapon. Static tests of the bomb–Trinity and a fictional Israeli detonation–worked. (The Israelis staged an air-drop test in the book, and have a back-up nuke on the ground at their test site. They detonate it when the bomb is a dud.)

    I don’t know if Corley wrote any other SF, but he did understand the basic trick of rubber science: throw in just enough detail for plausibility, and don’t try to explain too much.

  232. This Guy
    May 20th, 2012 at 2:29 am [Reply]

    @Dr. Weird (#219): That’s exactly the connection I made about this Revolution, although it might end up having fewer witches.

  233. Comcis Fan
    May 20th, 2012 at 3:54 am [Reply]

    FW: And the author Les Moore lived condescendingly ever after.

  234. Droopy Says
    May 20th, 2012 at 4:35 am [Reply]

    9CL: Good news. It’s a Solange Sunday.

  235. Jocelyn Knockersbury
    May 20th, 2012 at 6:28 am [Reply]

    @Chip Whittle (#181): which is as wrong as you can get and not be written by Tom Batiuk.

    At some point in the future, I will steal that line. If I forget to credit you, you can have all my nachos.

  236. Boophilus
    May 20th, 2012 at 6:33 am [Reply]

    9Cl I like Solange Sundays. No Thorax! But color me beefwit, what is Solange looking at? A window? Her shadow suggests the lighting is coming from the panels, but I don’t see a frame. Seriously, please explain!

    And the truth is, I still like this one better than any wall of words like last week.

  237. Frank Lee Meidere
    May 20th, 2012 at 6:38 am [Reply]

    @Boophilus (#236): I’m stumped too. It looks like the panels on the wall are light coming from behind Solange, but Solange’s shadow indicates that the light is actually coming from the panels, which would mean she’s staring at a window. But if it’s a window, what is that oval thing in the upper right hand corner, and why is there no depth to the window?

    As you say, though, it still beats anything else we’ve seen from Brooke this week.

  238. Boophilus
    May 20th, 2012 at 6:45 am [Reply]

    I figured it out!! She’s looking at the panels of the comic strip itself – the oval is the “9 CL” logo. I feel much better now. Thanks for your input. I’m glad I’m not the only one who had trouble interrpreting that.

  239. Ted
    May 20th, 2012 at 7:11 am [Reply]

    MW: “I loved that bear, and he died! Now I’m haunted by his ghost! I’ll never find another one like him…I give up!”

  240. Nehemiah Scudder
    May 20th, 2012 at 7:50 am [Reply]

    @Frank Lee Meidere (#211): Richard Dawkins, the biologist, in The God Delusion, and elsewhere, remembers “reading a science-fiction story in which astronauts voyaging to a distant star were waxing homesick: ‘Just to think that it’s springtime back on Earth!’”

    He uses this excellent howler as an example of borealcentrism, Northern Hemisphere chauvinism. Dawkins doesn’t identify the story, and neither can I. It does sound right, though, doesn’t it? If it isn’t in some Golden Age sci-fi story, it oughta should be.

  241. gleeb
    May 20th, 2012 at 8:13 am [Reply]

    Slylock: Cool Hand Reeky.

    Dick: So, they kill the three guys in the Mumbles Quartet who can talk intelligibly. This will increase the odds of having to pretend I understand what the hell is being said. I hate you, writer of Dick Tracy.

    H&J: I have no idea what manner of “machine” they’re talking about. Kandinsky couldn’t get this abstract.

    Sam Driver, Cleared for Entry!: hat second-to-last panel. Peaches has had just about enough of working for this guy with his fly rods and his opaque glasses.

    Rex: Yeah, more drunk Iris!

  242. MWDG
    May 20th, 2012 at 8:30 am [Reply]

    Great ways to continue the depressed Dawn story

    • Wilbur breastfeeds Dawn back to psychological normalcy

    • Terry Bryson takes Dawn out for a “girls’ night.”

    • Have Mary and Wilbur go undercover as head cheerleader and captain of the football at Santa Royale High

    • Have Jeff come out of retirement and give Dawn breast implants

    • Have Wilbur beat Dawn back into her senses while Mary and Toby cheer him on.

    • Have a love triangle with a famous teen heart throb torn between Dawn and Wilbur

    • A Mackenzie…John Phillips inspired storyline

    • Have Wilbur marry actress Bonnie Franklin who becomes Dawn’s mentor and lover

    • Have Dawn’s mother come back from the dead to castrate Wilbur

    • Have Wilbur sew a cute pantsuit or Daisy Dukes™ for Dawn out of those pink curtains.

    • Have Wilbur and Dawn go to a tattoo parlor when Dawn is viciously assaulted.

    • Have Mary convince Dawn she needs to become a prostitute

    • Have a month long story line where Toby (with Ian) tell Dawn how to groom herself

  243. Shrug
    May 20th, 2012 at 2:24 pm [Reply]

    @Nehemiah Scudder (#204):

    “You know, it must be springtime on Earth now.”

    Wasn’t there a ST:TNG episode in which someone noted that “today” was Thanksgiving Day on earth? (Apparently either Canada or the U.S. had seceeded from earth at that point.)

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