This blog is generally chicken one day and feathers the next. This was definitely a day of chickens, with such a banquet of good stuff that I had to eliminate some that would have been the only focus on another day.
Let's start with some interesting beginnings:
"Mark Trail" is not generally known for incisive storytelling in its Mon-Sat strips, but this new arc has me intrigued. (Mark was examining a poacher-shot elk when his game warden friend came along.)
I despise the lazy "captains of industry are building a mall on our ballfield" storylines foisted on kids, because they rely on so many outrageous stereotypes that the message becomes "development is wrong" rather than "development has to be thought out."
But I am intrigued by this, both for the "money is power" element hinted at -- a crisis in our system that goes well beyond conservation issues -- and for the "exceptions to wilderness" aspect in particular. And I happen to be researching a project that involves the history of the conservation movement, which means I'm repeatedly coming across Muir, Pinchot and the Hetch Hetchy Dam.
One of the people interviewed for Ken Burns' series on national parks noted that the Muir/Pinchot controversy is generally painted far more black-and-white than it was. And this drilling/conservation/poaching confrontation will likely be, as well, but let's see where it goes.
Ready for his close-up ... ooh, not too close
Rip Kirby is also starting a new arc, this one about a fading actor and a reluctant producer. The year is 1954, but everything old is new again and here he is speaking about 3-D films.
Meanwhile, in my other life, 3-D gets generally good reviews from the kids, but our eleven-year-old reviewer noted this week that the new "One Direction: This is Us" movie includes a lot of concert footage and that, while the 3-D effect makes it very realistic and exciting, the accompanying combination of loud music and young girls screaming is likely to induce headaches.
As for a fading actor thinking he can still make girls scream with just the right special effects, well, I think that's probably pretty timeless.
As is what the young girls tell him: "I think I should just go home. I'm starting to get a headache ..."
Lunch Lady isn't laffing
And Curtis, like most strips with kids as protagonists, is in a new back-to-school arc, this one set in the cafeteria. The USDA has been phasing in progressively healthier guidelines, which means that a district can serve anything it wants, as long as it's willing to choose between junk food and receiving federal subsidies.
You would expect conservatives to like the idea of not using taxpayer money to hand out ice cream instead of spinach, but you forget that the First Lady has taken up childhood obesity as her project.
Plus there is that general reluctance among them to let poor kids have any meals at all.
And contributions from certain food companies, but they'd never let that be a factor.
In any case, I suspect young Curtis will find the world unsympathetic to his need for fat, salt and sugar. He lives in a much more sensible world than real kids.
Dropping the other shoe ... into the creek
Meanwhile, it's payoff time at Stone Soup for an earlier story arc.
Last month, Alix, our budding naturalist, brought home a crawdad/crawfish/crayfish from a camping trip, and then was persuaded to put it back, not where she found it, but in the local stream. My initial reaction was "Yikes!" but of course Jan Eliot was on top of things and here we are.
Breaks pie crust, fights and leaves
Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal versus the Grammar Nazis.
As said before, grammar-obsessed nitpickers remind me of the old joke that likens an economist to a fellow who knows 100 ways to make love but doesn't have a girlfriend.
And, yes, they know a great deal more about how to use the English language than a ruffian like Hemingway or other annoying illiterates like Austen, Thackerey, Fitzgerald, Shaw, Auden ... the list of incompetent people who needed stricter editing goes on and on.
And speaking of old jokes
I don't know if Rina Piccolo is part of some sort of "Second Wave of Female Cartoonists," but I do know she's got a wicked streak I really like and that she isn't confining her observational humor to the original woman-cartoonist targets of "I should lose weight but I love ice cream" and "Gosh, I sure like shoes!"
Her willingness to unleash some sharper barbs is refreshing, and, anyway, the punchline of today's Tina's Groove reminded me of an old Irish joke, which you should read with a slight brogue:
So this girl from our parish goes off to England, as so many young people must these days to find any sort of work at all, and she becomes a secretary and, every week, she sends a bit of money back to help her family, as so many of our young people do, bless their hearts.
Only, after about a year and a half of this, she starts sending larger amounts home, telling her mother she's had a raise, and, sure, that's all well and good, but the money becomes more and more until her mother begins to wonder.
So finally, three years goes by and she decides to come home for a visit, and her mother meets her ship at the landing, and they hug and cry as well you might expect, and then her mother says, "Daughter, I must ask. I'm grateful for all that you send home, but it seems odd to me that a secretary would make that much money that you could live yourself and still be so generous."
And the girl sighs and says, "Well, I didn't want to tell you, but I've become a prostitute."
Her mother screams and faints dead away, and everyone rushes to revive her and she says, "Daughter, I can't believe what I thought I heard from you. Tell me once more, for it can't be true."
And the shame-faced girl confesses, "No, it's true, Ma. I've become a prostitute."
"Oh, saints be praised," her mother says. "I thought you said 'Protestant.'"