Let's ease off the political throttle today, starting with today's Blondie, which makes an old man nostalgic for the days when factory outlets were, well, factory outlets rather than just company-run retail stores.
For instance, when I was going down to visit my stepdaughter in Boston, I used to stop off at an LL Bean outlet store in Concord, NH, where they had odds and ends, either discontinued items or things that hadn't passed inspection, and if you found something that happened to fit and wasn't either too badly flawed or so ugly that it was obvious why it was there, you could save some serious money.
As in today's Blondie, the LL Bean outlet also sold monogrammed rejects, like dog beds and backpacks, which saved you money if you had a kid with the same name as the one on the backpack, or an illiterate dog, or -- as Blondie wishes were the case -- a husband who realizes that a deeply-discounted comfy robe isn't leaving the house anyway.
But a good two decades before that store in Concord, there was a Champion Factory Outlet in suburban Buffalo that was a treasure trove of discounted absurdity, because it was there that they sold their customized disasters.
My favorite finds there were a windbreaker from the University of "Nebrasra" and some polo shirts (we bought a couple of these babies!) that proclaimed themselves to be for a prep school's field hockey team and always got a nice double-take because they were adorned with a pair of lacrosse sticks.
Today, LL Bean has stores all over but the stuff is all current and perfect and priced like in the catalog. Which is odd, given all the weeping and gnashing of teeth over the fate of bricks-and-mortar stores.
And the Champion outlet stores simply sell slightly discounted underwear and T-shirts. Which is kind of pointless, since Champion underwear and T-shirts aren't terribly expensive, or terribly good, to begin with.
A more positive shopping tip, maybe
Today's Overboard brings us to the subject of crack balls.
The actual name of the toy is not "crack ball," but "Chuckit! Ultra Ball," and it's a very good ball which is nigh-invulnerable except that, after being lovingly chewed for a few weeks, it can get small punctures that, when the ball is thrown into the river, cause it to slowly fill with water and sink.
It's the "lovingly chewed" part that has given them the name "crack ball" down at the park where our dogs meet, because there is something about these things that send previously sociable, playful dogs into an obsessed reverie.
I am completely serious. Dogs who had chased sticks and tennis balls with no discernible mental aberration become so fixated on these damn things that they cease to play with the other dogs and simply lie on the grass chewing an orange-and-blue cud with a vacant stare that is bizarre and, frankly, a little disturbing.
Which led someone to suggest that perhaps the manufacturer has managed somehow to infuse them with cocaine and hence the name "crack ball."
If you are tired of playing with your dog, buy him a set of these.
Just a waffer-theen bit of politics, maybe ...
And as a sometime-resident of the Green Mountain State, Danziger may be experiencing some cross-border cognitive dissonance, because over here in New Hampshire we've got one PAC-financed campaign going on against Senator Jean Shaheen, claiming that Obamacare is a failure because only one insurance company is participating and most hospitals are locked out.
Which is technically still true, because foot-dragging, whining obstructionists had so muddied the waters that the first year was a mass of uncertainty.
However, it got straightened out and, as of the upcoming enrollment period, plenty of other carriers and all our hospitals are now participating, which means the ads are within 10 days of an outright lie. (The elections are Nov. 4, open enrollment begins Nov. 15)
Meanwhile, the anonymous billionaire donor PACs are also funding commercials for rightwing, photogenic Marilinda Garcia. I have nothing against rightwing photogenicity per se, but it can't be your sole qualification, and Garcia is no Kelly Ayotte, whom a smart GOP would put in the second slot of their main ticket in 2016.
The campaign excoriates Garcia's opponent for voting against a provision allowing NH to opt out of the Affordable Care Act, which, as I understand it, means that, while attempting to opt out caused the program to only be offered by one company in a handful of hospitals, not offering it at all would have been better.
Never mind the bucket. It's time to take cover behind the potted palm.
Comings and Goings
We reported the other day on the demise of "Freshly Squeezed," and Ed Stein has departed from normal storylines with a fantasy sequence that began yesterday. Here are the first two strips.
My totally unconfirmed suspicion is that, given the gap between daily deadlines and those for Sundays, Stein's decision to retire the strip left him with a couple of weeks of dailies yet to draw before his already-completed Sundays ran out, and he's doing some sort of farewell tour wrap-up.
I don't know where he's going with this, but I'm aboard for the ride.
Meanwhile, he's baaack. Just in the nick of time, with new adventures from a new generation of damn kids!
Recovering Catholics and other traumatized former-children rejoice!
The other flip-flop has been dropped
And speaking of decisions to retire, Arlo & Janis, having launched a parallel on-going plotline with now-grown son Gene and Marylou,follows up on the earlier news that Marylou's dad was going to sell his gulfside restaurant after Labor Day.
It's after Labor Day.