Friday, December 15, 2006

Friday Night Notes

Almost all of the big snow of December 1 is gone, melted over the course of this week. That suits me. Snow, of course, is our friend, but its cousin ice reminds that I probably shouldn’t stay in the North into my dotage, if I get any dotage. I’d prefer my obit not to read “died from complications of a fall.”

Browsing in my newish road atlas – a pleasure I have so little time for – I noticed that the Delaware River doesn’t quite separate Delaware and New Jersey; there’s a slice on the New Jersey side near Finn’s Point National Cemetery, and a tip of a peninsula south of there, that belong to Delaware. Information on this geographic oddity is scarce (though I only spent about five minutes looking), but from what I found, my best guess is that in places Delaware got all the river in a separation that’s quite old, perhaps dating back to Colonial times, and that the river has shifted over time, to Delaware’s benefit. Like when the Mississippi moves around to leave river-shaped borders on dry land between various states.

There’s a lot more information about Pea Patch Island in the Delaware River than the Delaware exclaves. Untold sorrow lurks in its Civil War sobriquet “Andersonville of the North.”

In September, as noted in the papers, Iva Toguri passed away. Not long after we moved back to Chicago in 1996, we visited her gift shop on Belmont Ave. not far from the Belmont El station, Ann Sather’s restaurant and other spots. I knew at the time that “Tokyo Rose” owned the shop, but otherwise it wasn’t particularly impressive. An import shop specializing in Oriental kitsch from the time when imports were rarities, long bypassed by other retail, even 10 years ago. But probably it didn’t need updating. My guess would be that there was no mortgage on the place, and that volume business wasn’t a priority.

From reading her death notices, I came away with a conclusion about Walter Winchell, who effectively hounded Toguri, an innocent woman, into prison: what a bastard. Someone who deserves his increasing obscurity.

Dilbert has been unfunny for quite a while now, but Thursday’s strip was incomprehensible, a sign of not only jumping the shark, but getting in the ocean with the sharks. In panel one, Alice (I think that’s her name) says, “And the point of my presentation is that these titanium tubes will…” She’s standing in front of a meeting table at which a male colleague is seated. In front of him is a rectangle with some musical notes emitting from it. I guess that’s supposed to be an iPod or something, but the drawing is so primitive that it’s hard to know.

In the middle panel, Alice viciously smashes the rectangle with her titanium tube. BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM!!! (Five times, three exclamation points.) In the final panel, she hands the tube to the visibly frightened colleague. Something is dangling from the tube. Maybe the electronic guts of the iPod, but who knows. She says to the man, “It’s for you.”

What on Earth does that mean? What’s the gag? Or even the point? Alice smashes a coworker’s iPod, haw haw. Who listens to an iPod during a business meeting? Not even in his ear, but on the table like a transistor radio. This isn’t the first time that he strip has made me think, Huh? Ah well, most days I know better than to even read it.

Labels: , , ,


At 8:29 PM, Blogger Geof Huth said...


Because of my travels, I hadn't read last Thursday's Dilbert yet. Once I did, I figured I'd better drop you a note, but busyness (you'll see evidence of some of it with my posting from yesterday) kept me from getting around to explaining the strip I'd torn messily out of the paper.

Here's what's happening:

Alice is giving a presentation at work about how "these titanium tubes" will work. In the middle of her sentence, the ringtone of a man's cellphone goes off.

Finding this an example of unforgiveable inconsiderateness (now, there's a word), she smashes the phone with her titanium tube--at once dealing with the annoyance and making it seem that the entire purpose of the tubes are to smash phones.

Finally--feigning politeness, pretending to have answered the phone, and holding out a tube to which the cellphone is still stuck---she tells the man that the phone call is for him.

Gag solved.

If Scott Adams could draw, it might've been easier to interpret this strip. Of course, familiarity with ringtones is essential to getting the joke.

Ironically, this is one of the only recent Dilberts to make me laugh.

My favorite strip now--since I think comic strips are essentially a modern wasteland of suburban sitcoms--is "Lio," a strip I doubt even runs in a paper near you.



Post a Comment

<< Home