Sunday, July 25, 2010

We Apologize For The Inconvenience.

There's nothing new in the concept of the characters in a work of fiction directly addressing the readers (audience, viewers, spectators, etc.). It has been the implied conceit of the first person narrative since Antiquity. When Lucius Apuleius tells in The Golden Ass his personal story of religious enlightenment through his transformation into an ass and his sexual exploits in that form, he addresses the readers directly. It is, perhaps, the earliest surviving first person novel in Western Literature. Since then, authors have made use of the device in different ways, often bringing themselves forward as the central character, often bringing themselves forward to comment on the story or the character, often becoming both the central character and the commenter. Latterly, authors have been stepping forward as creators, minor deities, who reveal themselves as both the makers of and participants in the stories they are telling. The classic example is Kurt Vonnegut, who appears in his books as both a first person narrator in Slaughterhouse Five, and as an author, Kilgore Trout (e.g. Cat's Cradle), whose works bear a curious resemblance to the works of Vonnegut himself. It's become all too common in comics. Pastis is a recurring character in his own strip. Doonesbury and friends are always addressing the reader, acknowledging their comic nature. Now Barney and Clyde are aware of their own natures, too. The strip would have been more interesting had the above quotation from Douglas Adams been shown.
(The cited Vonnegut identity paradox led to the exchange in Supernatural between Dean and Chuck about which Vonnegut Chuck was in his series of Supernatural books. Chuck, of course, was revealed to be God in a controversial scene in the last episode of Season 5. Or possibly not.)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Etruscan Urn Joke.

Q: What's an Etruscan urn?

A: These days, nothing. They're all dead!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Fossilized hobo poop.

Fossilized hobo poop. Doing our best to spread it around the 'net for Google.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Book Review: Fiddling Away the Hours

Print journalism is dying, they say. The evidence is all around us. The shrunken corpses of once mighty newspapers lie crumpled and discarded, soon to vanish on the next puff of wind. Great buildings that once had throbbed with huge machinery, devouring paper forests and drinking ink rivers, are veritable whited sepulchers, empty and silent, empty even of echoes. The universe, too, is winding down, if we are to believe the reports. Nothing lasts forever. But there are yet bright spots in the darkness. That is one of the corollaries of entropy. Some papers are still turning out thoughtful work. The Washington Post is one of those bright spots. Yes, it has suffered along with the rest of the industry, but it has fought back. There are still reasons why print journalism matters. Gene Weingarten, more often than not, is one of those reasons. The articles collected in this book demonstrate why newspapers were and continue to be necessary. Nowhere else can you find writing this good about subjects that, however unlikely to warrant attention some may seem, should be noticed. Newspapers make this kind of writing possible.

The topics run the gamut from b to b, baseball to babies. Well, there are some other letters, too. There is great reporting in The First Father, an investigation that begins in the dark, literally, and ends up bringing to light the hidden story of Bill Clinton's biological father, W.J. Blythe. There is the search for the Armpit of America, in which our intrepid reporter has to stumble upon something nice to say about Battle Mountain, Nevada. And then there are the two pieces for which Pulitzer prizes in Feature Writing were awarded: the title story, The Fiddler in the Subway (originally titled Pearls Before Breakfast), the story of what happens when an audacious but simple stunt turns into a wildly successful feature, reprinted everywhere, and Fatal Distraction, an unflinching look into a grievous modern-day trend, the deaths of children through inattention.

Those are the topics, but the real subjects of all the included articles are lurking in the background. They are two, the more potent of whom is Time. For it is Time that stalks through each of these journalistic essays. Journalism is, after all, the record of what happened in the day. Time the patient, inexorable hunter, whose arrows fly but one way, straight into the heart, is the prime mover of all these works. The time since Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth's single season home run record. The instant of time it takes to forget a child in the back seat of a locked car. Time to stop and listen to the falling of the rose petals of a violin concert, the notes almost drowned out by the tread of the mundane. And the second subject? Time has a companion, a bloodhound, who lopes along before his master. But the bloodhound likes to pause and circle and backtrack when it comes upon an interesting scent. It likes to dig in the most peculiar places, and often in the most disgusting messes. Its gait is loose, sloppy, leisurely. It is the reporter. You glimpse him now and then, but it is his voice that you hear downwind, seemingly far off at times, but insistent. Yes, it is the reporter and Time who are the real subjects. So, when the obituary for print journalism is finally written, there is one person who should be chosen to write it: Dave Barry. Gene Weingarten will be busy sniffing under some rock, trying to make sense of it all.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Clearly revolutionary.

I cannot decide which is worse. Is it the desecration of the homemade flag? Is it the deletion of 44 states? Evidently, it was a slow news day for Channel 5. It's like Easy Rider. Or Jasper Johns as an 11-year-old.

What Would Dan Do (WWDD)?

The question before the House, "What did Cynthia do to merit all the attention for her love of Freedom of Expression?" We note that Dan is the model for Cynthia at the same age, insofar as behavior is concerned. The question becomes, therefore, "What would Dan do?" Build a bomb? Out of modeling clay, of course. Being ignorant of Oliver Wendell Holmes' opinion in Schenk v. United States, shout fire in a crowded classroom? We'll find out tomorrow. Same Bat time, same Bat channel.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

What Color Means to You.

This is what you are missing if your newspaper does not run B&C in color. The July 7 strip's last panel, in B&W and in color.

It cannot be that bad.

It's only Channel 5 News. Nice touch that only Lucretia shows any color in the entire strip, which is otherwise black and white and shades of gray. Lucretia is just a little ray of sunshine.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

GoComics Update.

UPDATE! UPDATE! UPDATE! B&C can still be found on The strip has not properly updated since Sunday July 4, 2010 due to an internal error at Uclick. This error is being addressed, and the strip is expected to be current Real Soon Now.

It's back as of 1:00 P.M..

The Man with the Twisted Hare.

Clyde once again demonstrates that a gentle swindle is as good as a gun as he works his begging scam on another susceptible citizen. Clyde is revealing himself to be more and more like Barney in his entrepreneurial skill. Like Barney, Clyde is selling an illusion. And once again, Clyde shows the intuitive grasp of finding the "real" name. Next thing you know, Sherlock Holmes will find that Clyde's real name is Neville.

In a related scam, it appears that B&C has moved permanently from GoComics to The interface at GoComics was much cleaner, but the advertising potential for merchandise appears to be much greater at The credit line is better, anyway. Looks like Clyde marketing savvy is rubbing off on the B&C team.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Intermittently interesting.

Not every strip is a winner. After the multi-layered Sunday July 4, 2010 strip, the July 5 edition heads back into the zero-dimensional universe. On Sunday, we find that Barney is, in a manner of speaking, surrounded by his family -- transmuted into parrots who remind him of his shortcomings, a problem that might be relieved by one of his own remedies, which, inexplicably, he apparently does not use. On Monday, however, we are back into the flatter-land territory of non-dimensionality: INTERESTING is the last thing it might be called. Really, because Clyde flatters Barney by thinking about him as a hackneyed joke, Clyde is interesting to Barney? Yeah, we already got the point that Barney is starved for human contact, and Clyde has become the one person in his life who has shown any interest in him. We get it. Another anvil falls. More like the Sunday strip, please, sirs.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Which City Is It?

There's a rather distinctive clue to the location in which Barney & Clyde is set supplied in the July 3, 2010 strip. You would have to be a moron to miss it. Peruse the strip in toto.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

St. Petersburg Times, FL trial run.

Here's what the strip looks like in the St. Petersburg Times. Yes, B&C is B&W. Note that David Clark does not get his due in the credit line. But heed the invitation to fire off an e-mail to with "Comics" in the subject line to register your support for Barney & Clyde.