Saturday, October 3, 2015

Stamp and Deliver

Just recently, it was announced that Peanuts would celebrate it's 65th Anniversary with a new set of stamps to celebrate the occasion.  This isn't the first time Schultz's beloved tortured characters have appeared (much less to promote an upcoming movie) but back in April 5, 1993, a slew of cartoon stamps were given their due by celebrating the upcoming 100th Anniversary of newspaper comics.

Given the long-running nature of these comics, some went out of their way to celebrate certain legacy titles that hadn't been seen (or read) for decades, but included them for rememberance 's sake.

Other strips didn't rely on stamps themselves, but more on letters, which seems positively antiquated, given that hardly anybody uses stationary nowadays.  Stamps are more for mailing online items and dead tree books nowadays.

One possible latecomer was Adam who made a quick joke a week past the event.  I'm including it here just in case.

When the day finally came, only a Sunday Beetle Bailey managed to bring attention to the subject again.  Obviously, this meant a great deal to Mort Walker.  Since then, there's been commemorative cartoon stamps pretty much every year, making what was once a novelty item another routine event, like Free Comic Book Day.  (And yes, I'm aware that my title is remarkably similar to another one I did)

Thursday, October 1, 2015

It's hip to be October

It's that time of year again, when Christmas decorations go up.
The Clock Lighthouse
William Clark, 1827-1883
October 26: British Summer Time ends - Wear vest from now on

October 27: Bank Holiday (Rep. of Iceland) - Doesn't affect me.

October 31: Hallowe'en - Turnip (a really big one)-check / Candle-check / Courage (not available)

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Smarter Than the Average Berra

The baseball world has lost a worldwide legend, Lawrence Peter Berra, better known to everybody as Yogi Berra.  He was named  Yogi after a childhood friend likened him to a Hindu Yogi in a mediative pose, and the nickname stuck.  Amusingly enough, his parents called him "Lawdie", due to their Italian pronunciation, so for his entire life, he was never actually called (or recognized) by his own name.

Around the same time, a certain rhyming cartoon Bear started gaining popularity, and Yogi Berra considered suing over the misuse of his name... until it was pointed out that Yogi wasn't his real name.

He was a prolific batter, as well as being surprisingly progressive in accepting Gays and Blacks in baseball, but his legacy will more likely be forever attributed to his memorable one-liners.  I'm not a major follower of sports, and even *I* know about Yogi's immortal quotes, because they were filled with humouristic philosophy.  What was great about them was that Yogi would spontaneously spout them off without much afterthought.  They're the kind of riddles appropriate to "The sound of one hand clapping", or "If a tree falls in the forest, and no one's around to hear it does it make a sound?"  Hmm.  A lot of these questions seem to rely on sound for some reason.

Partially why I like them so much is that they're so similar to the kind of mangled metaphors I make all the time, such as, "If the mountain won't come to the molehill, the molehill should come to the mountain" and "All things are possible, and all things are impossible".

For that purpose, I thought that it would be equally appropriate if ZenPencils would've done a historical representation of Yogi Berra's life via a collection of his many infamous quotes throughout the ages.

I've grouped together his most famous quotes into something resembling a narrative.

His beginning years

You can observe a lot by just watching.
Baseball is 90 percent mental and the other half is physical.
In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.

Words of Advice

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.
If you don't know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.
You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you are going, because you might not get there.

Baseball Reportage

The other teams could make trouble for us if they win.
I always thought that record would stand until it was broken.
You wouldn't have won if we'd beaten you.
How can you think and hit at the same time?

Manager of the Yankees and New York Mets... until both teams lost in seven games, after which he was fired.

In baseball, you don't know nothing.
The future ain't what it used to be.
Even Napoleon had his Watergate.
It ain’t the heat, it’s the humility.

On the declining rate of fans attending baseball stadiums:

A nickel ain't worth a dime anymore.
I don't blame the players today for the money. I blame the owners. They started it. They wanna give it to 'em? More power to 'em.
If people don't want to come out to the ball park, nobody's gonna stop 'em.
Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded.
If the world were perfect, it wouldn't be.
It's like deja-vu, all over again.

Closing Thoughts

There are some people who, if they don't already know, you can't tell 'em.
It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much.
Half the lies they tell about me aren't true.
I never said most of the things I said.
I don't mean to be funny.
If you ask me anything I don't know, I'm not going to answer.
I wish I had an answer to that because I'm tired of answering that question.
A lot of guys go, 'Hey, Yog, say a Yogi-ism.' I tell 'em, 'I don't know any.' They want me to make one up. I don't make 'em up. I don't even know when I say it. They're the truth. And it is the truth. I don't know.

In conclusion:

Always go to other people's funerals, otherwise they won't go to yours.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Shoe in Space

By now, you've no doubt heard of Ahmed Mohamed, the Muslim boy who was arrested over the crime of bringing an ambitious-looking clock that was mistaken for a bomb by his teacher, who then called the cops to arrest him for bringing such a dangerous-looking mesh of beeping wires to class.  Not like the good old days when a kid could bring a fully armed nuclear reactor to school with minor repercussions for exceeding expectations.

This has resulted in Ahmed being vindicated for standing up against the school's zero-tolerance policy, Islamophobia and racism.  Especially in light of arresting officers admitting that they knew that Ahmed's clock was just a clock, despite their repeated assertions and insistence that he was carrying an explosive device.

So far, Ahmed Mohamed's been commended by multiple supporters, including technicians, engineers, hackers, and even President Obama, who tweeted his input.  In retrospect, Ahmed's decision to change schools after being "welcomed" back after suspension doesn't look so foolish.  Given the choice, why would he bother going back?

To paranoid conspiracists (consp-racists), this sudden rise to meteoric fame gives a JUST AS PLANNED vibe, consisting of the following convoluted steps:
  1. Construct a clock out of spare parts so that it's contents look like a bomb to the untrained eye.
  2. Get arrested by rightfully suspicious teachers and cops carrying the armed device as evidence.
  3. Attract the attention of social media, while asserting your nonexistent rights.
  4. Be invited to The White House to get up and close to the leader of the Free World.
  5. ???
  6. Profit!
In addition to the above, one of these generous benefits was the offer of being invited to the North Alabama Space Camp.  Just last week, I posted comics of Skyler's last Summer Camp trip, which gave him PSTD symptoms, having never attended regular kid's Camp before.  While that was his last visit to a Military faculty, it wasn't Skyler's last Camping trip so far.  But the next one wouldn't occur for eight more years until 1999.

Originally, I was going to wait until next year to present these, but given recent events, it seems more relevant  and timely to show these now.  They might not be as amusing as other Skyler-centric camp stories, but it follows the same basic premise - unwittingly get yourself in trouble, and you'll be rewarded for your efforts.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

BC's Epic Trip

A long time ago, I posted the Sunday comics that appeared during the last burst of creativity from Johnny Hart's BC, where he created a months-long continuing arc where Peter strove to prove that the world was round.

There had been previous comics attempted at these excursions, but it was BC himself who made these trips, not Peter; and they were solely limited to one-off affairs.

Having finally collected the dailies that led to the creation of this arc lasting roughly 2/3 of a year, it's clearly a rambling affair with religious overtones and too many characters thrown in with little to no effect than to add amusing or pointed commentary for what would normally be a solitary voyage.

There's a LOT of comics after the cut.  These probably seemed more impressive when seen on a semi-daily basis.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Skyler goes Back to Camp

With the end of Labor Day and schools opening to the howls of protests of kids everywhere (save those Jason Fox types who actually enjoy going to learn), it might be time to look back on (not quite so) fond memories of Skyler being constantly shuffled off to Military training bases instead of regular Summer Camp where he could afford to laze about, rather than be shuffled into strenuous exercise.  No such luck.  Surely the new Army Basic Training place would make past excursions Camp LeJune, Parris Island and Cherry Point look like tourist retreats.

In this instance however, unlike past experiences, he actually wanted to go to Boot Camp, just so he could join the first Iraq War.  Oh kids, you and your patriotism!  What are we going to do with you?

So Skyler gets ready for his usual bout of sadomasochistic torture, being constantly harassed by an ironclad doctrine system that refuses to explain itself, surrounded by hulking macho guys vying to be Rank Number Alpha, or whatever hierarchy works in Military terms.

But first, he has to endure the bus trip there, and right away, the experience seems slightly different from what he's used to.

Turns out all those years, the big secret in avoiding being sent to a Marine base was to formally request an invitation to go there.

Skyler is now venturing that murky realm of Catch-22 and Section 8 regulations.  If you actually want to fight, you're deemed an insufficient soldier with mental problems, and need to be relocated elsewhere where you'll do less harm.

While past camp experiences showed Skyler handling rifles and aircraft carriers, this is probably the only instance where he's shown to be actually firing a weapon without fear of being bounced back from the recoil.  Also an instance of doing Archery before it was cool.

Turns out attending a Military Base multiple times against your will doesn't do much to raise awareness to your surroundings being innocuous and harmless events, despite all evidence to the contrary.

Obviously there must be some underlying conspiracy hiding behind that curtain, because no one could possibly be that content and happy without some underlying corruption just waiting to be revealed, right?  Right???

Perplexingly enough, right in the middle of the storyline, there were three unrelated comics, one of which showed Skyler standing right next to Cosmo Fishhawk watching television, without any sense that he'd returned home.

And then, three days later, he's back at camp like nothing ever happened.  You'd think Jeff MacNelly would've chosen his preselected comics more carefully.

When the most dangerous thing you've got to deal with is worrying about a surveillance threat that'll never come, there's not much to write home about; so Skyler puts his renown essay practice techniques to use.

So, having survived another unruly Summer at a camp, Skyler is left with memories of his training that'll doubtlessly help him later in life.

After such a harrowing experience, coming back to civilization comes as something of a culture shock.