On suffering

October 16th, 2007 | Oddments, Sketch Diary

identity

Somebody on the blog said they miss the sketch diary entries I was putting up for a while. I miss them too. I started one the other day about the two hours I spent sorting out a fraudulent charge to a website called Mr. Skin with my credit card company. But then I realized the cartoon would take at least another hour, and why throw good time after bad?

Although in a way, that’s a workable definition of the creative process. Nevertheless, I set the cartoon aside. Then today I realized it’s time to put my next strip up, but I put it up last week by mistake, so I drew this one panel of the credit card fraud cartoon to post instead.

I’ve been thinking about Charles Schulz (“Peanuts”) and how this new biography portrays him as a depressed, ambitious, driven, bitter person who devoted himself to his cartoon children and neglected his real ones. Thanks, Shado, for the link to Laura Miller’s review in Salon. It fit in nicely with the discussion here about Doris Lessing “abandoning” her children and the whole question of whether it’s possible to be a successful artist AND a good parent/partner/family member.

I guess you sort of expect poets and writers to be tortured souls, but it’s jarring to think that someone who draws a comic strip could be just as angst-ridden. There’s a good article in the Times about Schulz and “the cult of the suffering artist” that’s worth checking out just for the illustration–Charlie Brown painted in the style of Van Gogh’s earless self-portrait.

Silvio pointed out that Dr. Seuss was another isolated, depressed guy producing “light” work. Norman Rockwell, too, was a tortured wretch who neglected his family so he could spend all his time making paintings of happy families. I guess I’m fascinated by this phenomenon for obvious reasons. When I read the bit about how Schulz’s wife (the first one or the second?) had an item on her mental to-do list, “9-9:15, Comfort Sparky,” I flinched with rueful recognition.

Comics! Nobody knows what an excruciating business it is trying to wring humor from this bleak, pointless existence.

185 Responses to “On suffering”

  1. Deena in OR says:

    Argh!!! Does that mean we have to wait 3 weeks for the next strip?

  2. Em says:

    jeeziz… i’m starting to feel the same way and I’m only in art school! I guess it never ends, does it.

  3. Gaudior says:

    James Thurber is another tortured soul who managed to be hilarious. I especially love his dog cartoons, and his book My Life and Hard Times recently got me through a long labor (seriously.)

  4. The next strip’ll go up on the 31st.

  5. shadocat says:

    Backatcha Ms. Bechel. I enjoyed that “Times” article as well—that picture of Charlie Brown is PRICELESS, btw. Although being half Norwegian, I wonder how much Schulz’s depression was connected with his art,and how much was due to his “crushing sense of Norwegian humility.”

  6. anon-eponymous says:

    “A scientist’s work is in no way deepened or made more cogent by privation, anxiety, distress, or emotional harassment. … If a scientist were to cut off an ear, no one would interpret such an action as evidence of an unhappy torment of creativity; nor will a scientist be excused any bizarrerie, however extravagant, on the grounds that he is a scientist, however brilliant.”

    P. B. Medawar (1979)

  7. Deena in OR says:

    Alison…I meant that to sound teasing, not pressuring. Curse the limitations of words without sound, gesture, or facial expression! We’re grateful for whatever you share.

  8. kate says:

    i was wondering what you might have been thinking about the discussion of artists and their personal relationships.

  9. Molly Shannon says:

    I always thought that my instinct towards comedy was germane to “internal suffering” (ew, a pretentious term at any age, but even moreso because I have yet to be emancipated from adolescence). You know what I mean, though? I see myself as Woody Allen — pathetic, tragicomic, subverting my awkwardness and sadness by acknowledging it.

    We make fun of ourselves so no one else gets there first. If I’m going to be teased, I want it to be on my terms.

  10. Aunt Soozie says:

    Struggle for balance and focus.
    I was reading a couple of books on ADD earlier this evening but I got distracted. Still, reviewing that diagnostic criteria is sort of validating.

    Molly, pretty sharp for someone not past her adolescence.
    But you feel the joy too, right? and the love? It’s not all Mo’s world…(or Woody’s) really. Did you see how Alison scored fairly high on almost all of her own characters in that quiz? They’re all in there.

    It’s easy to see artists/comedians/writers as depressive, brooding, needy, difficult crazies. Let’s not make them, uhm, cartoons of themselves. The creative process may be hard to fit into a more conventional life. But truly none of us can do it all well. We all struggle.

    Creative people have their quirks…their share of deficits as parents and partners…but, they have virtues that others don’t have. They bring great stuff to the table that kids whose parents are not a bit eccentric miss out on. When you’re a parent some self-sacrifice is necessary. But, we can’t change who we are at our core anymore than we could change them to meet our needs. Still deep love and a willingness to find balance between their needs and our own goes a long way.

    As to partners…maybe it’s about finding people who don’t tolerate but rather thrive in the type of life we create. The relationship doesn’t have to resemble what others think is “normal” as long as it works for those who are in it.

    Even folks who are fundamentally impaired in their ability to create anything… be that music, art, literature… have terribly fucked up relationships and can be crappy partners and parents. oh, geez…does that make everyone depressed instead of cheering up the creative people?

    Oh well…Mr. Skin…that’s rich.

  11. Ginjoint says:

    When I was in third grade, I wrote to Charles Schulz, and he wrote back. (Or one of his assistants did.) I was absolutely over the moon.

    I think I quoted this here before, so I’m sorry if I’m repeating myself, but I have a yellowed copy of Matt Groening’s tribute (via his strip “Life in Hell”) to Schulz after Schulz’s death on my fridge. He says, “I think my favorite thing about ‘Peanuts’ was the negative stuff. The loneliness, the isolation, the absence of grown-ups, the unrequited love, the frustration of contained rage. Funny stuff!” I think Groening nailed it with that, not just in terms of “Peanuts”, but with a lot of comedy.

    Next up on the fridge? That awesome Van Gogh portrait of Charlie Brown. And “Mr. Skin”?! What the hell are you up to out there in the woods, anyway?! Somehow, the fact that that, of all websites, showed up on your charge bill shows me that the universe has a sense of humor…despite all the black space.

  12. Josh says:

    I haven’t read the Schulz biography, but how can anyone read Peanuts (which I adore) consistently and not come away with the impression that the artist was seriously depressed? I’m opposed to comics reruns in the paper on principle, but it has been enlightening to see some of the older, bleaker Peanuts strips again recently. There was one the other day where Charlie Brown’s baseball team had lost again in particulalry heartbreaking fashion; the whole strip is thee panles of Charlie Brown staring ahead in silent shock, and then in the final panel the “punchline” is him saying “I think I’m going to cry.” I mean, Jesus.

  13. NLC says:

    Wait a minute…

    I guess you sort of expect poets and writers to be tortured souls, but it’s jarring to think that someone who draws a comic strip could be just as angst-ridden.

    “[S]omeone who draws a comic strip” can’t be a “poet and writer”!?

    Madam! I protest!

  14. NLC says:

    An additional note on the role of depression, anxiety, etc underlying the work of Charles Schulz:

    “Good Grief”, it’s worth nothing, was the title of the review of the biography that appeared in Sunday’s NYTimes Book Review. And, by the way, was also the title of an earlier full-length biography of Schulz written by Rheta Grimsley Johnson[*] (and which biography, has not been referenced in any of the reviews of Michaelis’ new biography that I’ve read).

    [* Who, btw, is married to the cartoonist Jimmie Johnson who draws “Arlo’n’Janis”.]

  15. Ginjoint says:

    Yeah, NLC, like Time magazine would pick just a comic strip for its Book of the Year. There musta been some good writing involved!

    shows me that the universe has a sense of humor…despite all the black space. So after I post that, I’m in the shower, and thinking…jeez, that sounded kinda racist. I’m hardly the poster child for political correctness, but that…it just rubs me wrong, and I hope it didn’t offend anyone else. If it did, my sincere apologies.

  16. --MC says:

    • I was once asked by somebody how I could draw such funny cartoons yet be such an angry, sad person. (As I was at the time.)
    • NLC: I understand that Grimley and Johnson are divorced, sadly.
    • The Charlie Van Gogh illustration was cool, but I prefer the Seth illo that was in the Book Review: Schulz as one of his characters, clutching his stomach as he walked through a dark and stormy night.
    • My favorite Peanuts strip? The end of a sequence where Sally, Charlie Brown’s sister, fell in love with Linus, who freaked out (naturally) and denied that he even liked girls. Broke her heart. The strip shows Linus walking past Sally, who keeps a straight face until he passes; behind his back, her eyes turn to dark coals of resentment, and she steps out into the path and sticks out her tongue, then bursts into tears. Those four panels always stake me right through the heart.

  17. Susan Stinson says:

    It always makes me happy to see the sketch diary entries.

    I put up a couple of quotes today, and, this one, from Flannery O’Connor, is in conversation with this post and the Times article (plus my birthday).

  18. Hayley says:

    I used to spend hours and hours on my bed as a kid…into early teens…reading the paperbacks. I have about 20, I think. I really learned a lot about life along with the entire Peanuts gang. While I am sure I recognized the angst, humility, sadness, isolation…I always felt a terrific sense of stability and comfort. There were no huge surprises, just glimpses into personalities that I knew well. And there was always a tribute to the imagination (Red Baron, famous novelist, Joe Cool) as well as fleeting glimpses of true joy in simple things…a frozen over birdbath…perfect for skating, frolicking, waiting in a Pumpkin Patch for something wonderful to happen. I think Schultz was a master at administering a healthy dose of “what we all feel from time to time” with pure joy.

  19. Silvio Soprani says:

    Molly,

    I totally relate to what you said:

    “We make fun of ourselves so no one else gets there first.”

    And I’d also like to say that sometimes I write stuff (songs) that I consider too revealing of inner distress to be entertaining. Then I find out other people really find them hilarious. It’s like that description of physical slapstick: people are relieved to see their own pain happening to someone else and it gives them enough detachment to laugh in relief.

  20. Aunt Soozie says:

    schadenfreude

  21. Alterity says:

    I like to think of artists as mediums for our collective consciousness. I think so many resonated with Schultz because his soul was tapped into a kind of existential realism (can I put these two concepts together?), and thus the comic strip was a catharsis for the public.

    If you would ask me why I enjoy DTWOF, I would have to admit that it is because Alison captures in ink, with great skill and ingenious candor, an essence of reality I long to see represented and redeemed.

    There is a great deal of public good happening when “crazy” artists share their work.

  22. Ian says:

    I always thought that Schulz nailed the casual cruelty of children to other children. I remember reading that in the 60s and 70s there used to be complaints from the APA (or some such body) about the psychological bullying that went on in the strip, but I could recognise traits from all the characters in real life people.

    I’m one of those nightmare people (to genuine artists) – the frustrated artist type – I’m neurotic and moody (the alleged artist stereotype) but like to think I’ve not found my media just yet. 😉

  23. 'Ff'lo says:

    The regular to-do “Comfort Sparky” is striking. And somehow rings a bell of fantasy— the partner who copes with emotional disastrousness with such routine acceptance/skill.

    Another striking bit in that Salon piece (I haven’t read the Times one yet) is how Joyce had “a daughter from an improvident first marriage.” “Improvident” — not a word you hear tossed about so very. I believe I like it.

  24. dna says:

    Mr. Skin? The same Mr. Skin from the movie “Knocked Up?”

  25. NLC says:

    BTW, to clear up what seems might be a small misconception:
    Joyce (Schulz’s second wife) didn’t have a literal “Comfort Sparky” item on her to-do list.

    Quoting Laura Miller’s review:
    Despite the loving ministrations of his second wife (her family joked that her evening schedule included the item “9:15 to 9:30: Comfort Sparky”)…

  26. Suzanonymous says:

    Big laugh at that sketch! I really enjoyed it. I had to do that credit card thing a few years ago and, seeing the cloak and dagger secrecy and pitched anxiety as a cartoon, it seems so overblown, in retrospect. Thanks for the big laugh.

    I’m sure they’ll remove the charge and send Alison a letter confirming this has happened, within a few weeks, tops. Rest easy, Alison.

    About recurrent sadness, there was a depressing factoid in Social Intelligence (by Goleman, also author of Emotional Intelligence). A study where people were asked what they were feeling at random times in the day, they were paged, individuals had what I think he called a dominant feeling tone (anyway that’s what I call it). Year after year they remained with this pattern, at most a year in a different tone, after being married, for instance. There was even a lotto winner in the group: same pattern. On the positive side, I can just go, well, how concerning is this sadness, really, it’s my dominant feeling tone.

    Josh, as a kid I also loved the more depressive Peanuts strips. I remember being really irritated with Schultz when he moved so far away from that as to have strip after strip dedicated to that little bird doing this and that goofy thing. I felt like the strip had lost its soul.

  27. Silvio Soprani says:

    Aunt Soozie, Is THAT what “schadenfreude” means? I don’t speak German, but they used this word a couple of years ago on BOSTON LEGAL (before it got all crude and depraved).

    I was disappointed that the news (at least CBS, because I got home too late to watch ABC) did not lead with (or even show) the Prez with the Dalai Lama. I am sure some good effect will occur from the President sitting next to His Holiness at the Congressional ceremony. The Dalai Lama has GOOD VIBES. He reminds me a little bit of Harpo Marx. A definite trickster personality, don’t you think? (In the best possible way.)

  28. Silvio Soprani says:

    After reading back through this thread, it reminded me of another anquished depressive: Lytton Strachey of the “Bloomsbury Group,” (which some may know from that wonderful movie, CARRINGTON, which detailed his life with his equally alienated companion, Dora Carrington, the painter.

    But if you have read any of Virginia Woolf’s diaries or her husband Leonard’s autobiographies, you have many vignettes of Lytton Strachey bemoaning various situations in his life. But he seems to have had a wonderful sense of humor as well.And his friends certainly adored him.

  29. Ian says:

    What could a Buddhist say to Bush except “your karma is really fucked!”

  30. Aunt Soozie says:

    yes, it’s finding amusement in another’s misfortune.

  31. Silvio Soprani says:

    Ian,

    I don’t think so. From looking at the pictures of the Dalai Lama with Bush, the former seems to be exuding good humor. I suspect his method is probably flooding the President with sincere kindness. The complete novelty of this will so blow up Bush’s circuits that some sort of realization will come to him, probably in an odd moment, and he will suddenly exclaim to nobody in particular, WHAT THE HELL HAVE I BEEN DOING ALL THESE YEARS?

    That’s my fantasy.

    Anyway, what good is winning a Nobel Peace Prize if you have no power to change the hopeless?

    Last night there was a show on PBS about spontaneous human combustion. I always thought it was a joke, but here were all these bona fide scientists explaining how there were grids of atomic energy that target human beings and set them on fire in such a way that only the body burns up; not the environment. And the grid was like a plaid, you know, horizontal and vertical lines across the globe. WEIRD. (And damned scary; hope i don’t live on one of those grids.)

    Well, what if love and common sense worked like that? What if sitting next to the Dalai Lama could actually, physically and psychically knock some sense into people? Now THAT would merit a Nobel Peace Prize, if you ask me.

  32. Jaibe says:

    Normal people aren’t exceptional. It would be a contradiction.

    Speaking of science, there’s a lot of work showing that depressed people are more likely to make accurate assessments than normal people. Given that artists are supposed to be perceptive…

    Here’s a review article on the topic: Illusion and well-being: A social psychological perspective on mental health.
    By Taylor, Shelley E.; Brown, Jonathon D.
    Psychological Bulletin. 1988 Mar Vol 103(2) 193-210

  33. Mac guy says:

    Molly Shannon, you rock!

  34. Aunt Soozie says:

    Could it be the other way around…more perceptive people are therefore more somber? People who can tune out are happier?
    I don’t savor thinking about it in absolutes or analyzing the mind/life of the artiste very much…it’s annoying. Maybe my mind is skewed from my work but I don’t know if anyone is normal. normal is just a median…a measure…no individual, on close inspection, is actually “normal” are they?

  35. Lizen says:

    Where are those normal people? Maybe it’s just the circles I travel in, but once the surface is scratched, I haven’t found any of those folks. Maybe it really is just the circles I’m in!

    Also wonder if artists–or those aspiring to make “real” art– sometimes look for and hang onto those tortured moments in life. The idea of the tortured artist is so ingrained in the culture that if one is actually happy there’s a fear of losing street cred. A real fear of the average.

    I was at the public event for the Dalai Lama on the Mall yesterday. I don’t see how it’s possible to be in his presence (even at the great distance I was) and not be affected. Although Bush might just be able to pull it off.

  36. Aunt Soozie says:

    “…Joyce’s specialty, pear halves in green Jell-O topped with a dollop of mayonnaise and grated cheddar cheese…”
    Does anyone else have a strange desire to want to make that and see what it would taste like? I’m not certain but too many desserts involving green jello and mayo could make me bitter and resentful.

  37. mysticriver says:

    NLC, thank you so much for bringing up Rheta Grimsley Johnson’s “Good Grief”. I can’t help but wonder if the new volume is just trying to be a post-mortem “scandalous” book driven by the idea that people would be tickled by the irony of a “children’s cartoonist” being unhappy, which really ticks me off. For those who have read “Good Grief”, or read or watched any interview with Schulz when he was alive (or for that matter, as Josh points out, for those who read his work), the depression is no surprise at all. He certainly was open about it in anything I’ve ever read.

    A lot of fans liked the early, existential (darker?) strips, more, which saddened him when he heard people mention it. He was happy in later years doing more happy-go-lucky strips featuring Snoopy and Woodstock.

    Anyway, we should revere him because in 40+ years of drawing, he never employed any assistants but did it all himself. One of the rabble-rousers from Comics Journal once compared him to Garfield’s Jim Davis in an interview with Schulz, apparently trying to get Schulz to pass judgement on the guy for his liberal use of assistants. Bless his heart, Schulz just said something like, “I’ve never met him, he’s probably a nice guy”. Depressed and self-absorbed or not, I don’t think Schulz had a malicious bone in his body.

    God bless comics artists! Particularly those who produce the serial, on-a-deadline variety. What amazing pressure to *have* to be funny, daily.

  38. ksbel6 says:

    I turned 35 last year and for some reason that brought up lots of questions from my students about what I have learned from life at such a great age…I told them the number 1 thing is that everyone is crazy. The more you know a person, the crazier they become.

  39. mysticriver says:

    Actually, I’m reminded of a little tidbit I once read about the amazingly large amount of comics artists from the Pacific Northwest…I think it was in an article about Matt Groening. Apparently there is something to being depressed (or living in dreary, overcast places) and creating comics…

  40. Juliet says:

    In that case, Britain should be awash with them…

  41. sk in london says:

    …britain is awash with them

  42. shadocat says:

    Soozie, the “pear in green jello” didn’t sound so terrible—until I got to the “dollop of mayonaise” Ugh! I wonder they stayed married as long as they did, with fare such as that…

  43. Dr. Empirical says:

    Speaking of Jim Davis and Garfield, Mark Evanier (whose blog [newsfromme.com] should be a daily stop for anyone interested in comics or cartoons) tells this story about his job interview to become head writer for the Garfield Saturday morning cartoon:

    “Jim and I were working in the big conference room and one of his associates came in with the prototype for a new Garfield toy. It was a sculptured plastic thingie and the model had to be okayed before the manufacturer could commence full production. It looked fine to me.

    But Jim looked at it, winced and said, “That’s wrong. I told them to move the eyes like this — ” And he picked up a marker and indicated how the eyes should be moved a fraction of an inch apart.

    The associate said, “It’ll cost them $20,000 if they have to break the molds and redo it again.”

    Jim said, “So —?”

    Jim still doesn’t know how close he came, that day in Muncie, to getting a big wet one right on the lips.

    The whole story is at http://www.povonline.com/cols/COL191.htm

  44. Ed says:

    Any comic strip that began on day one with a little boy admitting through clenched teeth how much he hated Charlie Brown is one that bears repeated scrutiny. I love it.

  45. Anonymous says:

    Aunt Soozie,
    In spite of what Shado says, I have NO DESIRE to try that green jello-pear-cheese-MAYO dessert!

    Isn’t it a midwest thing, putting mayo on everything? (I only know what I hear on Prairie Home Companion.)

  46. Aunt Soozie says:

    I don’t know if it’s midwest but I know sometimes people made things with Jello that they called salads so maybe that’s where the mayo comes from. It sure wins the award for the dessert/side salad that most closely resembles individually wrapped cheese-like slices with mayo on wonderbread.

    I’ve never made anything with green jello as an ingredient. think you have to show ID or a birth certificate or get a dna test to buy green jello anyway.

  47. NLC says:

    Well, speaking as a native midwesterner –and, consequently, as someone bred and raised on dishes as described above– I would comment that the only unusual feature of the recipe mentioned earlier is that it omits the grated carrots and –optional– mini-marshmallows.

    (That said, I would also add that since arriving on the east coast –lo these many years ago– that it has been a regular source of amusement to listen to a “ewww-how-can-people-eat-that-stuff” lecture when folks ’round here are exposed to types of cuisine enjoyed by the majority of people in the country; and typically delivered over of dinner of some “interesting” coastal delicacy, for example, sushi [a substance referred to in most of the rest of the country as “bait”].)

    Anyone care to join me for a sack of White Castles later this evening? (Mo and Stuart decline; but Harriet said she might make it.)

  48. shadocat says:

    NLC, I’ll pass on the “belly bombers” at White Castle, but a dish of lime jello with marshmallows is actually comfort food to me—hold the mayo, PLEASE!

  49. Silvio Soprani says:

    hey NLC,
    Apologies if my East Coast culinary narrowness was showing…being Italian-American, I confess that I grew up eating things like eggplant, anchovies, and kale with kidney beans; things I later found out many do not love.

    These days (except for mixing jello with mayo) I do consider myself an omnivore.

    Note to people not from the East Coast (of the USA); I recently tried “pimento cheese sandwiches.” A friend who grew up in Cincinnati but whose mother comes from ALabama said it was a staple of his childhood. Good stuff.

    Especially because often I see people fishing on bridges by the side of the road and realize it is not necessarily leisure…it’s called “dinner.”

  50. Maggie Jochild says:

    Waldorf salad? Fruit with mayo.

    Real mayonnaise is a culinary delight. (Fresh eggs yolks, extra virgin olive oil, and a little lemon juice, that’s it, basically.) And yes, with jello, it’s tasty.

    The worst vomiting episode I ever had was after trying my first White Castle burgers. Never again.

    It’s all about conditioning, folks. Cheese is made from expressed lactated fluid mixed with a stomach lining enzyme and set to controlled decay — for some people in the world, that’s as disgusting as you can get.

  51. tg says:

    mmmmmmmm cheese

  52. Ginjoint says:

    We make fun of ourselves so no one else gets there first.

    I like that. I think I’ve just had a huge key to my psyche unlocked. Yay! No more therapy!

    Mayonnaise? Revolting. Satan’s semen.

  53. Deena in OR says:

    I grew up thinking that the canned pear/lettuce/mayo/grated cheddar salad was special food for when we had company. Must have been a sixties thing….

  54. I’m with you on the mayonnaise, Ginjoint.

  55. Uh…not that there’s anything wrong with semen. But I imagine Satan’s isn’t pleasant.

  56. NLC says:

    One other inter-coastal culinary correction:

    For most of the country (certainly the midwest)
    “mayonnaise” == “Miracle Whip”

    (…and, by the way, is pronounced MAN-ays.
    Not to be confused with “Manetz”, the preferred
    salad dressing of the French Impressionists)

  57. Aunt Soozie says:

    Wow…i feel so provincial.
    When I worked at a convenience store I got familiar with the cold cut items…like pimento loaf. I had never seen such a thing…it ain’t pretty. One guy came in for lunch daily requesting thickly cut slabs of liverwurst with mayo on white bread. Any wonder I’m a vegetarian now?

    and hey AB, nice catch on the semen.

  58. shadocat says:

    Hey–I’m from the midwest, and I certainly know the difference between Miracle Whip and mayonaise!

    Talk about disgusting cold cuts, I was once in New Hampshire and forced to eat souse—still gives me nightmares.

  59. Nickel Joey says:

    As a native Hoosier, I can corroborate what NLC says about Miracle Whip. Here in urban Ohio, my cosmopolitan friends are generally horrified by the stuff. Thankfully, I discovered *real* mayonnaise (MAN-aze) in my 20s and there was no going back for me. Mmmm . . . Hellman’s.

    My dad still enjoys liverwurst sandwiches just like Aunt Soozie describes, though some of us in the Midwest know it as Braunschweiger. Fun word to say, but it’s still a disgusting substance.

    And speaking of fun words to say . . . I can’t be the only gay guy on here, but I’m surprised no other musical theater aficionado (hey, the stereotype fits) has mentioned the song “Schadenfreude,” from the show Avenue Q, still playing on Broadway. Cute little song, and you’ll never forget the word’s meaning or pronunciation again.

  60. Nickel Joey says:

    BTW, Soozie: “Nice catch on the semen”?! Wow. There are just too many jokes there. One doesn’t know where to start. 😉

  61. Deena in OR says:

    @Nickel Joey-

    What *do* you do with a BA in English????

  62. ClongowesRefugee says:

    wait. if mayonaise is Satan’s semen, does that mean that Miracle Whip…

  63. April says:

    thankyou Ginjoint, AB: nice to know i’m in good company with the mayo thing. ergh.

    dyke humour AND semen jokes. my cup runneth over.

  64. gamma lexicon says:

    Another tangentially related food query : ( Silvio Soprani, how do the Italians ( or your family ) serve Kale with kidney beans was it ? ( I’m half Greek and I started eating Kale because my grandmother used to cook it ( boiled ) but said that the Greeks borrowed it from the Italians.

  65. Duncan says:

    Nickel Joey, I’m a Hoosier and a gay guy, but I’m not a musicals queen. I’m fairly omnivorous, even catholic, in my musical tastes, so of course there are show tunes that I’ve liked. But I’m more of a rock/soul/folk/jazz kinda guy.

    As for semen, as a gay man I am well acquainted with it, and I don’t see a resemblance between it and mayonnaise. Cooked okra looks more like it. But then, I’ve never tasted Satan’s semen. (Years ago, some kid in the dorm where I work would scratch lines like “This food tastes like camel shit” onto the food trays in the cafeteria. I always thought that someone who’d tasted enough varieties of shit to distinguish them by flavors was in no position to complain about the food. But I’m a cynical, hateful old man.)

  66. Maggie Jochild says:

    Duncan, remember that old joke circa 1979 about the gay whale? Put his mouth on a submarine and sucked out all the seamen?

  67. gamma lexicon says:

    Non sequitor with food related ideological humor. Anybody familiar with “Pastafarianism “( faux religion making fun of intelligent design theorists. Not to my taste, as it’s fairly snide and sexist. ) I was at a parade in the summer, well the Mermaid Parade actually, but for those not in nyc an ostensibly nautically themed parade and I saw some folks dressed vaguely like giant pieces of pasta, with signs proclaiming ” Pastafarianism ” needless to say, I was puzzled until I looked this up.

  68. Straight Ally says:

    Re schadenfreude:

    It’s my understanding that “amusement” at another’s misfortune (and such extreme “amusement” that it accounts for viewers laughing at some TV character’s misfortune) is one possible manifestation of schadenfreude, but not the defining element of schadenfreude. Rather, schadenfreude is happiness or joy over another’s misfortune, which might manifest itself as, for example, a feeling of smugness or an excited “Yesss!” (often silent).

    Here’s American Heritage Dictionary, home of distinguished Usage Panelist AB, to back me up (I believe):

    schadenfreude

    NOUN: Pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others.

    ETYMOLOGY: German : Schaden, damage (from Middle High German schade, from Old High German scado) + Freude, joy (from Middle High German vreude, from Old High German frewida, from fr, happy).

    (American Heritage Dictionary 4th ed., online)

  69. Aunt Soozie says:

    I noticed how everyone noticed when Alison posted a strip late once no one commented that she had posted a strip too early. (we’re selfish little things aren’t we?)
    Duncan, you made me laugh! What are catholic musical tastes? The Sound of Music? I’m gonna go get my dictionary and see if I can figure that out myself.

  70. Aunt Soozie says:

    oh shit,
    I turned it orange.
    I have no idea how that happened…
    KATIE! HELP!

  71. Aunt Soozie says:
  72. Aunt Soozie says:

    I think I fixed it…

  73. NLC says:

    Aunt Soozie

    Looking at the source-view of the page, it appears that somehow an errant “a-tag” (that is, less-than-sign, “a”, greater-than-sign) got into your message. So the system thought the rest of your message was a link. It stayed that way until it ran into a “closing-a-tag” (less-than-sign, backslash, “a”, greater-than-sign) at the start of the next message.

    (Sorry for the geek-y response; I’ve just crawled out of bed after a 20-hr day yesterday doing “remote software-upgrades”. It’s hard for me not to talk like this…)

    Anyway, let’s try a little experiment. See I can start here, and make the rest of my message orange…

  74. --MC says:

    I’ve got nothing to add, just want to see if my text comes out orange. Er, carry on.

  75. Anonymous says:

    I confess I can’t tell the difference between mayonnaise (May-Oh)and Miracle Whip. I think one costs less.

    Gamma Lexicon (with a name like that you fit right in here!), my mother would cook “easy meals” on Friday nights. Usually a big pot of boiled kale with kidney beans, served with a splash of olive oil, a crushed piece of garlic, and a squeeze of lemon.

    We dipped Italian bread in the soup. I always liked it. It had a comforting, meditative vibe.

    Back to strange sausage–the first job I ever had was as a waitress in a diner on Route 17 in New Jersey.

    All the truck drivers would come in early for breakfast and the favorite was taylor ham and egg with ketchup on a hard roll (down south in Maryland they call it a “kaiser” but I have resisted calling it that for the last 20 years and am not going to start now.)

    Taylor ham is a bit like baloney, but chewier. I guess it is also a bit like Spam. I was shocked when some of my young Korean students told me sincerely that Spam was one of their favorite foods. They would incorporate it into their Kim Bab (sort of like sushi but no raw fish.) These were middle class exchange students so I found this surprising since most of the people I know are mystified who actually eats Spam. (It is so gelatinous!) Is it really so affordable as to give an incentive to eat it? UGH!(Apologies in advance to all those out there who,like my mayonaise-eating friends, adore it.)

  76. Silvio Soprani says:

    Um, that “anonymous” was me. Forgot to fill in the name, here away from home.

  77. Kat says:

    shado–
    eat WHAT now?? Please enlighten the California kid!

  78. Aunt Soozie says:

    NLC thanks for the food and html tutorials.
    But…did you try to turn the orange off by yourself before the next message so the next person’s name wouldn’t come up orange?
    And since you’re answering tech questions…here’s another one that I don’t totally get…what exactly is an RSS feed? You can answer via email if you feel it would be inappropriate to go on about it here. phoebephiles (at) mac (dot) com
    thanks!

  79. nora says:

    Alison, I just wanted to say how much I love the sketches. Of course, I love the OCD attention to detail in your other work – the filled-in backgrounds, the newspaper headlines – but there’s so much energy in that looser line and simple panel. And if we didn’t already know you were a dyke, your commitment to faithful hand detail would probably tip us off (I’ve been reading Osamu Tezuka’s “Buddha” series, which is a great read but it weirds me out how he renders hands and feet almost as paws, or blobs).

  80. Ginjoint says:

    ClongowesRefugee, that was good.

    Also, for those interested, the Chicago Tribune today printed an article about Lynn Johnston (“For Better or For Worse”) today, explaining a bit about the recent changes in the strip and what she’s been going through:

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/lifestyle/chi-1019johnstonoct19,1,3706028.story?coll=chi_mezz

  81. Ian says:

    If we’re talking about spam we could bring in Monty Python references, the fact that Chinese buffet restaurants in Liverpool all seem to have spam fritters on their menu (that’s spam (minced pig is the best way to describe it and they’re not too fussy about what bits of the pig go into it), dipped in batter and deep fried. Cholesterol city.

    Deep frying things in batter leads me onto talking about how this is a peculiarly British food fetish and things to be found deepfried include pizza, meat pies and Mars Bars (a bit like Milky Way). The chocolate leads me back to maoist orange cake which is a place we don’t go anymore!

    Um … desperately trying to get back on topic (do we ever have a topic?), I loved how Schultz’s favourite ice cream flavour was vanilla and couldn’t help thinking of Sydney eulogising of the deceptive simplicity of vanilla (as opposed to Chunky-Monkey) in the novella at the end of Post-Modern D2WO4. There ya go – from Spam to Sydney in three easy paragraphs!

  82. Saskia says:

    Thanks very much, Ginjoint, for that link to the story about Lynn Johnston.

  83. Ian says:

    Oh, and ginjoint, thanks for that. I’ll never eat mayonnaise ever again.

  84. Nickel Joey says:

    Deena in OR:

    Well, I can tell you what I’m doing with my B.A. in English, if you’d like. But I’m wondering how you know that I have one.

    It’s spies, isn’t it? You have spies watching me. Right? Spies?

  85. Ian says:

    Some of us can spot a BA in English a mile off, without being told – it’s like gaydar, BA-dar if you like … (apols for the pun, sadly it was intended).

  86. mlk says:

    skipping down a couple of days’ worth of comments —

    Ian, I am so with you! I’ve got the artistic temperament, with its indolence and fierce focus, unique (or at least quirky) world view, inklings of creativity, without skill in any medium whatsoever! I could possibly be a writer if I’d journaled my life and could discipline myself to write while doing what I need to do to support myself. don’t see that happening in the forseeable future . . .

    I console myself with the belief that whatever artistic tendencies I may have are expressed by living my life in an outside-the-box sort of way. that’s worked pretty well so far!

  87. Silvio Soprani says:

    Ian, I am in awe of your succinct three paragraphs, “Spam to Sydney.” (Sounds like a title for the long-ago-mentioned DTWOF musical.)

    An American friend was married to a Brit for a while.He took her home to meet mother and she was served potato chip tea sandwiches on white bread with (of course) MAYO.

  88. mlk says:

    and about Peanuts cartoons, I liked the earlier (and darker) ones as well– got a little antsy when we saw too much of Snoopy and Woodstock having a good time. felt more frivolous than happy to me. loved the Red Baron, though!

    it kinda surprised me that Schulz was so attached to Snoopy and the lighter strips, but that seems to fit with his history of depression.

    I’m so glad that Jell-o as a salad ingredient has (mostly) fallen out of favor. never made sense to me!! in my book, Jell-o is a *dessert*.

  89. Ginjoint says:

    I calls ’em as I sees ’em, Ian.

  90. Nickel Joey says:

    Hmmm . . . if there’s B.A.-dar, then my blip probably is the size of the Queen Mary. (Yeah, yeah, pun intended.) But if I can let my English geek flag fly anywhere, it’s here, right?

  91. Anonymous says:

    This is totally irrellevant to all the talk of suffering artists and wiracle whip and such, but Alison i would just like to let you know that i read fun home in the spring and now i see men EVERYWHERE who look like your drawings of your father. It freaks me out a little bit. Theres one who rides his bike around my neighborhood all the time. Just thought you should know.

  92. shadocat says:

    Kat–the stuff I ate was called “souse”. I found it so bad, it was indescribable, But here’s a link that should give you an idea of what it’s like…

    http://www.foodreference.com/html/fsouse.html

  93. sunicarus says:

    Ginjoint~Thanks for the condiment commentary! Rhetorical Question:
    If mayo is “Satan’s semen”, what is ketchup or catsup? Is there a difference other than spelling? Then, of course, there is a cornucopia of mustards?

    Deena~This is what this BA-English does with her spare time.

    Cheers!
    Sunicarus

  94. oceans 111 says:

    Re: Spam in the greater world: In the continental US Spam is generally an object of derision, but around the Pacific, particularly in tropical and sub-tropical Asia, it’s a regular food. Genuine sushi joints frequently offer spam sashimi, with the spam cut into a little tidy rectangular solid and draped over the little blob of rice with the little dab of wasibi between the two. It’s more common in Hawai’i than mainland U.S. too. As far as I can tell, this was a taste developed in WWII and carried over to the present day in part because it doesn’t spoil in warm climates.

    Even so, I think it’s kinda gross and limit my interaction with Spam to the occasional Spam-carving contest.

  95. Silvio Soprani says:

    ocean 111,
    Thank you for that affirmation. Your more or less detached reportage has made me feel less guilty for my revulsion.

    Shado,

    there is NO EXCUSE for souse and I hope you will NEVER do that again!

    I did want to return to shadenfreude.
    What I was describing earlier (relief at seeing the pain happen to someone else, which becomes a detachment that allows one to see it as humor (=relief)) is not quite the same thing as enjoying someone else’s pain.

    It might help if some German-speaking person could give us a literal translation of what “shadenfreude” means.

    Isn’t “freude” the German for “friend”? How does that fit in?

  96. Kat says:

    silvio,
    freuNde is friend. freude is joy or hope.

    Shado, sorry but Silvio’s right. that sounds more repulsive that I can imagine, but I’ll forgive you if you never do it again.

    Although, I’m really not one to talk. Speaking of reviled foods, I have actually eaten haggis. twice.

    Did anyone else get the New Yorker today? The review of the Schultz biography has a picture of Charlie Brown done in the same reds and blacks and whites as Alison’s sketch.
    coincidence?

  97. Dr. Empirical says:

    I just wanted to point out that there is absolutely NO truth to the rumor that Spam is popular in places where it’s popular because it tastes just like human flesh.

    None at all.

  98. Anonymous says:

    Silvio–

    You saw my comment on schadenfreude, right? It contains the etymology, from American Heritage Dictionary.

    (I’m going to try some “orange”–gulp!) Here’s what I hope will be a link to the comment:
    October 19th, 2007 at 2:43 am

    Not someone’s pain; someone’s misfortune. And here I have no backup, but we don’t feel schadenfreude over every misfortune that befalls anyone else, only over a “well deserved” misfortune, such as that of an arrogant, obnoxious, spoiled person or someone with whom we have a bitter rivalry.

  99. Straight Ally says:

    Sorry! That was me at 2:43 a.m.

  100. Straight Ally says:

    Sorry again! I meant 10:40 p.m.

  101. shadocat says:

    Well the “souse episode” involced your’s truly at a big family dinner at the home of some elderly relatives…I was sorta cornered into it. The things I’ve sone just trying to be polite—oy vey!

  102. gamma lexicon says:

    Just want to add, while I always like these discussions, I particularly like all these food references. I’m thinking of a section of one of the strips where Mo is shown opening and preparing a package of tempe. ( And there is that literal seitan : meat substitute.) Hm, my dad used to eat raw meat on occasion with a bit of olive oil and some pita bread.

  103. Pam I says:

    I remember souse as brawn, in my long-ago meat-eating days. It works in the same way as ham and makes great sandwiches. If you eat meat, why is it so different to eat bits of head or foot, as arm or leg?

  104. Ginjoint says:

    In the last thread, some folks were speculating about the sexual orientation of some Harry Potter characters. Here’s an AP article in which J.K. Rowling says that, yup, Dumbledore’s gay:

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/sns-ap-books-harry-potter,0,1534349.story

  105. Pam I says:

    And re mayonnaise, I’m just doing a bastardised vegetarian version of Atkins diet after a summer of sitting down writing a dissertation and eating pizzas (to save time). Lost 15lb in 6 weeks, it works, the attraction for me is that I can have as much mayonnaise as I want (plus loads of brawn if I was still so inclined). I have to Just Say No to pizzas for another few months, and we’re done. Aïoli is an even more superb version of mayonnaise,you beat a head of crushed garlic into it. Head, not clove. Yum.

  106. Silvio Soprani says:

    WHOA! Where to begin? So much promising material this morning.

    Okay, let’s begin with Rowling announcing to her audience at Carnegie Hall that Dumbledore is gay. Can we assume there was a wicked glint in her eye; spitting in the eye of all those right wing Magicphobes must have been fun!

    We are not surprised (that Dumbledore is gay), but we are sad there will be no further development in future novels of all the various possibilities.

    I (back to the humble I) have always wished she would write a pre-quel about the life of Snape, whom I always found the most interesting character.

    ON TO SHADENFREUDE. Kat, thank you for setting my linguistically ignorant self straight on the difference between joy and friendship. And Straight Ally, YES INDEED, you did give the definition. My apologies; I have been reading the strip at work and feeling a bit paranoid, what with all the stories you read about people getting fired for blogging at work. So I think my concentration was a bit distracted.

    Gamma, was your father by any chance Syrian or Lebanese? Your description of raw meat and olive oil and pita bread reminded me of the “cibi” and “cibi neh” that a Syrian high school boyfriend’s family used to offer me. It was raw, “thrice-ground” lamb with minced garlic, onion, and parsley, made into little meat balls. it actually tasted pretty good.
    And they enjoyed eating it together so much, how could I resist?

    Pam, in spite of my uncharitable remarks about mayonnaise, I confess that I am very fond of the vegan “Nayonnaise” that I can sometimes find in the Safeway.

  107. Silvio Soprani says:

    p.s. I didn’t mean that the Magicphobes were there in Carnegie Hall. It was probably parents and their children…Now that she doesn’t have to worry about sales of future books, I guess there was no risk. 🙂

  108. mysticriver says:

    Dr. Empirical: Apparently Paul Theroux started that rumor in some book of his. I hate to know how you’ve debunked it. :p

    Ginjoint: Thanks for the Harry Potter link! That totally makes sense about Dumbledore. One can see him like Ian McKellan. I’m surprised Lucius Malfoy didn’t get wise and try to get him fired as headmaster on those grounds instead of going through the trouble of using a horcrux to bewitch a student to unleash a basilisk in the school. The mind reels.

    Also thanks for the Lynn Johnston link. I was just rereading “The Lives Behind the Lines” yesterday and was reminded that her *first* husband (the father of “Michael”) also had an affair. She’s been really dealt a rough hand. I hope her kids (and fans) are getting her through. She sounds upbeat, though, more power to her!

  109. ksbel6 says:

    This is seriously the best blog ever…you guys are so funny!
    My mom makes the best potato salad ever…and the secret is to use miracle whip instead of mayo. Yummy!

  110. Maggie Jochild says:

    Whoever started the “rumor” that people from Asia, Micronesia, etc. (read it as “not white) must like Spam because they are/were cannibals, it’s racist. Cannibalism is an old, old accusation and smear that Europeans have used as an excuse for invasion, conquest and genocide too many times to count. It doesn’t need debunking because it never was true except in the minds of those who find permission somewhere — including on this thread, apparently – to make moral judgments about the palates and food preferences of others. No humor in it whatsoever. And for all the Asian, African and indigenous readers of this blog, please be assured, there are lots of white Americans (myself and all my friends) who would never consider such a notion, much less make a reference to it.

  111. little gator says:

    Um, I used to eat head cheese(souse) and it was good. Not thrilling.

    I mostly ate it because my MIL would serve it and thne criticise anyone who was crude enough to eat it, telling us how it was made in an attempt to gross us out.

    So why did she serve it?

    Anyway, I read once that the people of Pitcairn Island serve canned peas as a party food. Eaten cold right out of the can. They don;t have the right climate to grow them.

    A college roommate told me that yogurt culture germs came from cows’ vaginas. After that I made sure she saw me eating it more often.

  112. Jain says:

    Thanks Maggie.

  113. Em says:

    I was very excited to read the link about Dumbledore, while I do wish it was mentioned in the books I suppose there was no way to do it where it didn’t become it’s own huge issue. I dunno if Harry would be the type to be all “zomggaypanic!” but I can see Ron spazzing out and Hermione would spend five pages lecturing the both of them “Honestly, if you had just read Famous Gay Wizards, which I just so happen to carry around with me, you would have known already!” It makes me wish we didn’t have to see the books through Harry’s POV cause there is SO much more intrigue to the other characters’ lives, the Marauders in particular. Lupin I see as a queer character, though not actually gay… y’know, outsider to society, faces discrimination cause of something he can’t help, was “outed” by Snape. The director of the third movie even said that he’s like “Your favorite gay uncle”

  114. gamma lexicon says:

    Silvio Soprani, yes my dad is indeed Lebanese, good call.

    I have wondered why Rowling didn’t create a gay character and it’s pleasing to know that she did ( albeit obliquely ).

  115. Pam I says:

    Spazzing?

  116. little gator says:

    Spazzing at almost anything is Ron’s specialty. In the movies anyway, not so much the books.

  117. Pam I says:

    In playgrounds round here, spazzing is derived from spastic. Maybe it’s different elsewhere, I suspect not.

  118. Deena in OR says:

    OK…a bit of biographical truth here. About three and a half years ago now, my contract was not renewed at the private elementary school where I was the science teacher, and head of the preschool. I’d been outed to the director of the school, and she told me to my face that my presence was a detriment to student recruitment. Two weeks after that, I attended the opening of the third HP movie, with the line uttered by Lupin at the end about “when word gets out that someone like me is here, parents won’t want their children at school” (I can’t find the exact quote now…).

    The school’s director was also in the audience with her family. Afterwards, in the lobby, I looked her directly in the eye from about 15 feet away, and held her gaze until she looked away. She did have the good grace to look ashamed. I’ve never heard from her again, and we don’t live in that big a community. So, yeah…Lupin is a favorite of mine.

  119. little gator says:

    Maybe it is here, but if so the connection’s been lost.

  120. Ian says:

    Ok, JK Rowling’s outed Dumbledore at a safe moment, i.e. when all the books are done and it’s going to be difficult for her to get much richer. But dontcha just love that she made the most powerful, wisest wizard gay? Not only that, he spent an extensive amount of time ALONE with the hero and was headmaster of a school? A father figure? Gay? She just loves winding up the fundies doesn’t she? I wonder if we’ll see book burnings in the news?

    Lupin is a fave of mine (and Ms Rowling’s apparently), helped by the fact he’s played in the films by David Thewlis. Woof.

  121. Maggie Jochild says:

    It’s used here in Texas as shorthand for spastic — but spastic and retard are still used, too. (Sigh.) I have a couple of friends with CP who fight it in their everyday lives, the assumption that jerky physical motion and reactivity is linked to a lower intelligence.

    One guy I know wrote a performance piece about how when he went to college, everybody on campus (a major university) called him by a guy’s name that wasn’t his. It wasn’t an insult — they were friendly — and he was completely bewildered, but he couldn’t get anybody to understand him well enough to find out why they were calling him this other name. After a couple of weeks, he was walking down the sidewalk and in the distance saw someone approaching who also had visible CP, with a dystonic gait and shuffle. This other guy was two feet shorter than my friend, weighed 80 lbs. more, and was Hispanic to my friend being European-American. As they got near each other, they called each other by the the names they’d been mistakenly labeled, and cracked up when they understood what had been happening. All the other kids had seen about their bodies was “spastic”.

  122. Maggie Jochild says:

    It’s used here in Texas as shorthand for spastic — but spastic and retard are still used, too. (Sigh.) I have a couple of friends with CP who fight it in their everyday lives, the assumption that jerky physical motion and reactivity is linked to a lower intelligence.

    One guy I know wrote a performance piece about how when he went to college, everybody on campus (a major university) called him by a guy’s name that wasn’t his. It wasn’t an insult — they were friendly — and he was completely bewildered, but he couldn’t get anybody to understand him well enough to find out why they were calling him this other name. After a couple of weeks, he was walking down the sidewalk and in the distance saw someone approaching who also had visible CP, with a dystonic gait and shuffle. This other guy was two feet shorter than my friend, weighed 80 lbs. more, and was Hispanic to my friend being European-American. As they got near each other, they called each other by the names they’d been mistakenly labeled, and cracked up when they understood what had been happening. All the other kids had seen about their bodies was “spastic”.

  123. Pam I says:

    My friends with cerebral palsy simply hate the term spastic, even though it’s a medically appropriate term to describe a muscle spasm. ‘Spaz’ ‘spazzer’ and ‘spastic’ are interchangeable as insults. They may have got a bit detached by common use from the origin, but they are still, simply, rude. ‘Gay’ has allegedy been diluted to mean just anything thats a bit crap. One BBC DJ nearly lost his job by describing, I think it was a pen, as ‘a bit gay’. He kept his job by saying that such useage was now common and not offensive. The BBC let him off, but they were wrong.

    I have this discussion about hurtful language about once a week with my classes of unsophisticated 16-y-olds, I stop the class if I overhear these terms being used and usually get the point across by comparing them with racist ones.

    It was jarring to find this language here.

  124. Ian says:

    I completely agree Pam I. I remember back in 86 while I was at school we had a school assembly where the head banned the whole school from using “spaz” or “spastic” as an insult. It’s about the only instance I remember of inappropriate language being raised in school. Weird, we never ever had a talk about racism, not even in history, although it was explained in history about how racism was invented/appropriated in order to justify slavery.

    It’s also really weird – I thought most of the country was over “gay” as a homophobic insult, but I keep hearing children describing things as “that’s gay” or “it’s a bit gay” in a pejorative sense. It totally disoriented me and made me realise that despite the successes in Britain, there’s still a long way to go.

    As with anti-racism. A friend of mine was working a Fair Trade stall on a local market and was asked why he was bothering with “wogs” and “coons”. Cue absolute shock and horror (my friend is a total Stuart type). He swears to this day that the man who said it was listening to 50 Cent on his iPod. That kind of thing really blows my mind.

  125. Pam I says:

    ….but I confess to using ‘bugger’ as an expletive…

  126. Maggie Jochild says:

    Here in the U.S. it’s used as a term for dried snot; nobody really seems to understand what it means on a BBC television show, for instance.

    I wonder what the etymology of bugger is, anyhow? The sodomy version, I mean. I bet one of ya’ll/you folk knows.

  127. Pam I says:

    From wiki: “Etymologically, a “Bugger” was a “Bulgre” (French Bougre’ ) — Originally, it was derived from the French word “Bougge­rie” (“of Bulgaria”), meaning the medieval Bulgarian clerical sect of the Bogomils, which facing severe persecution in Bulgaria spread into Western Europe and was branded by the established church as particularly devoted to the practice of sodomy.[OED]

    It is famously alleged that the last words of King George V were “bugger Bognor”, in response to a suggestion that he might recover from his illness and visit Bognor Regis.”

    I think I knew the bit about the bulgarians.

  128. R says:

    not sure where to post this, but you can view a in the lifes profile of our AB on their site.

    http://www.inthelifetv.org/html/episodes/10.html

  129. Ian says:

    Given all the Schultz discussion/comparison, it’s quite spooky that that flute solo is actually from a Peanuts special. I’m certain of it – specifically to accompany Woodstock.

  130. Deena in OR says:

    “…I dykestream heterosexuality…” Wow.

  131. Silvio Soprani says:

    Maggie,
    I think the word you were referring to is “booger” (not “bugger,”) although perhaps in British pronunciation there is no difference. Just FYI.

    R,
    that link would not play on my computer. What was it, exactly?

  132. Feminista says:

    Silvio,

    It’s from the LGBT PBS show In the Life’s audio and a/v archives. I could access the audio but not the other. It’s an interview with AB which aired in March 07.

  133. Kat says:

    Ian,
    scary that that language is still being used these days. My paternal grandmother occasionally called my dad (who’s mixed race) a wog, but I always thought that it was so archaic a term that no one used it anymore….

    When I was living in London a couple of years ago, I heard adults using “gay” in a pejorative sense all the time. What was even weirder was their complete confusion when I started lecturing them, Mo-style about why it was so wrong.

  134. Aunt Soozie says:

    I’ve never heard the term “wog” but I assume it’s not very nice.

    When kids use the word gay to mean uncool (sorry, I know I said this here before) I say things like “really, it’s gay? Your algebra class is homosexual? All of them? That’s so interesting that the whole class is gay because statistically…” I think it works better than lecturing… they get the point.

    We were just discussing tonight at dinner how one time when I was reading the book “Over in The Meadow” to my daughter (she was about six at the time) we got to the verse,
    “over in the meadow where the grass is so even, lived a gay mother cricket and her little crickets seven…” and my daughter interjected, “oh, she’s gay?”

  135. Nina says:

    If you’d like to be really upset at casual acceptance of hateful language, my favorite has always been “girlie” as a pejorative. Only a few weeks ago, a male colleague was explaining to me how proud he is of his college-age daughter that she plays rugby and isn’t “all girlie”. I mean, rugby is great, but what’s wrong with playing rugby in a frilly pink skirt, I’d like to know? (okay, yeah, don’t actually answer that one) All my feminist hackles were roused – I’m pretty sure he won’t be recommending me for any particular academic honors any time soon… ah well.

    I feel like at least “the good people” are out there fighting against gay being used as uncool, or against racial, ethnic or religious slurs, but we’ve grown complacent women. Just to keep ranting: it’s great that Watson’s been suspended from Cold Spring Harbor for his appalling comments about intelligence and race, but if you change just a few words, you have Larry Summer’s comments from a couple of years back on women, and it took months for them to finally get rid of him for “creating disharmony”, not being (the current quote seems to be) “beyond the point of acceptable debate”… Okay, done with the ranting now.

    I second Aunt Soozie on this: what’s a wog?

  136. Em says:

    Eep… sorry Pam I, I had no idea ‘spaz’ was offensive! In my defense, I’ve never heard it used as an actual insult with intent to hurt, but something on the level of say “space case”. I dunno, is it a generational thing or regional thing? I don’t remember hearing it on the playground, or even hearing “spastic” in an insulting way. I associate it with being all excitable and hyperactive, kinda like Animal from The Muppets.

    Deena in OR, I certainly hope it all sunk in for the director! I’m glad you got to confront her in that way.

  137. Deena in OR says:

    Em…I believe it did. I heard, third-hand, about a year later, that she wished she’d never let me go.

    Oh, and karma has an interesting way of working itself out. The school didn’t reopen this year…for lack of enrollment. I’m sad for the kids and other teachers…for her, not so much. I hope it was a learning experience.

  138. R says:

    Silvo

    in the life a gayl/lesbian channel. You can download the episodes and watch them on itunes for free, Alison appears in the March 07 episode. not sure when it was filmed though?

  139. Pam I says:

    Em at al, maybe it’s when the words lose their origin that they get _more_ offensive? If someone is being twitchy and clumsy (both characteristics of having CP) and is called spazzy, it may be painful but at least it’s accurate. If it’s just used as a general-purpose insult, it means that being a spastic (ouch to type it) means you’re rubbish, automatically. The battle over “gay” is a fun one, will no doubt pass by as kids’ words for good and bad change so quickly.

    “Wog” was a common word heard in my almost entirely white childhood, used of all black and “coloured” people. It’s now one of the words I can’t say, but is part of everyday racist vocabulary in the UK. Wiki quotes several etymological origins, I understand it came from a uniform worn by Suez dockers (?) with the badge “Working on Government Service”.

  140. Ginjoint says:

    Deena, I’m sorry that happened to you – that was truly shitty behavior on the part of the director…just when you think we’ve come so far, eh? I’m glad you were able to make her squirm with the hairy eyeball. Thanks to R for that link to “In the Life”; it reminds me that I need to order several more DTWOF books to read during my recuperation. Also, in that link, is a cool story on Romaine Brooks, a lesbian painter in the early 20th century. I wish that exhibition would’ve come somewhere near me.

  141. Pam I says:

    Deena, in the UK that director’s action would be illegal. You could have busted her for 1000s in compensation as well as demanding your job back. As these step-by-step progressive laws happen, they will spread. Hopefully not to be clawed back – the abortion row is about to re-emerge here but there’s a 100-seat majority against change in parliament, so the anti-choice lobby should lose again (happens every few years, since the 1967 Act was passed here, our Roe vs Wade milestone).

  142. Silvio Soprani says:

    There was a time in Maryland that Deena’s director’s action would have been illegal; Am I imagining this? Sometime in the mid-90s, I thought Maryland had a non-discrimination law that speecifically including “sexual orientation” that covered housing and employment. I am ashamed to say I have not kept current on the law, but a month or two ago those two women who had been in a relationship for 25 years lost their appeal for protections as lesbian parents,and at that point I started to wonder how much protection we had in the first place. Is anyone more informed than I am?

    Regarding the hateful word “wog,” you see it a lot in British novels written in the early 20th century; it usually comes out of the mouths of civil servants who have served in Asian countries. But Pam, leave it to you to know the derrivation!

    (I do remember that “wop” (everyone knows wop; guess it’s been in more movies…)comes from “without papers.” But was it an American (Ellis Island) invention? Where else did a lot of Italians need papers?

  143. Pam I says:

    Someone’s nice long explanations here: http://www.daisy.freeserve.co.uk/wog_faq.htm
    my guess may well be wrong, polwygles (wiggle-heads) were Middle English tadpoles which became pollywoggles, thence small bugs.
    My polwygles all disappeared this year. I blame the dragonflies.

  144. anon-eponymous says:

    I’m one of those nerdy females.

    The big lesson that I took away from the whole Summers fracas is:

    “Do not accept an invitation to make a few off-the-cuff, unprepared remarks ever.”

    They will be quoted as if they were carefully prepared and you might lose your job. My feeling was that he took people at their word, decided to say whatever was in his mind, and was highly caffeinated besides. Sometimes I say the most provocative things when I have enough caffeine in me, things that strike me as not really representative of what I think. Seems like that’s what happened to him; he issued an apology in a letter a day later, clarifying what he had meant to say, but I don’t think anybody read it.

    I’m not sorry for him, or anything—I don’t think he had to give up his fancy house and he’s had enough of a career already. But I don’t think kicking a guy out of office for a few remarks which were never intended to be publicized, and which he was told would not be publicized, is the right thing to do either. He may very well have deserved to be kicked out, just not for that.

    And for Dr. Watson, he’s an old man who probably barely makes sense to himself anymore when he’s speaking extempore. It’s time for him to go fully emeritus.

  145. little gator says:

    TO me spaz meant to be overreacting to anything. Now I know better.

    The snot meaning of booger is always spelled with a double o as far as I knew. And it was in a Harry Potter book that I learned the British for boogers is bogies.

    For wog, look up Golliwog or Golliwogg. I can’t say the wiki entry has no errors, but it has the general idea right. It’s more British than American, and comes from a series of children’s books based on “a Negro minstrel doll.” Of course, “wof” may have other origins as well.

  146. Kat says:

    That was the origin of “wog” as I understood it, Gator. There were dolls, too, or stuffed animal looking things, that went along with them, and were pretty popular in the early part of the century (in England, as far as I know. I don’t think I’ve heard of them here).
    Christ, that was a run-on sentence….

    They’re so distorted that they don’t look like actual people at all. It’s really disturbing, and I’ve always been horrified that dad’s own mother called him that.
    She thought it was a joke or something…

  147. Nina says:

    Dear anon-eponymous,

    I’m actually much less upset (if upset at all) at either man’s words than I am at the difference in public reaction they’ve caused. I feel it’s indicative that the publicly acceptable levels of racism have changed for the better, but it’s still reasonably acceptable to be sexist. That to say there are differences in intellect by race is “way past the line”, but to say the same about sex is “a matter of opinion that reasonable, intelligent people can debate”.

    I definitely think, even if these words were carefully chosen rather than spontaneous and caffeinated or evident of senescence, that the comments of people speaking their opinions outside of the realms of their expertise shouldn’t necessarily cost them their jobs. (Though I tend to think that it was right that Summers should have faced some consequences, not for thinking badly of women, but for being the head of a major research institution and having the bad sense to say these thoughts out loud, even if he had been assured no one would ever know.)

    Anyway, yay for nerdy females.

  148. Deena in OR says:

    Deb, correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t we get as far as the Oregon House with a bill banning discrimination based on orientation? Otherwise, Oregon is an at-will state for employment. I did do my due diligence at the time as far as the possibility of a lawsuit went.

    You know what told me everything I had to know about this woman? She knew perfectly well that I was a single parent and sole breadwinner…my daughter attended the school. Yup, she’s a class act, that one.

  149. Jade says:

    This reminds me of my experience today when trying to pay my phone bill. Usually, I write a check. For some reason I decided to use my debit card, and when I was supposed to dial 611 (to be connected to the universal unicel place where you can complete any mulititude of tasks) I dialed 411 out of habit then practically got in a fight with the rude person (to say it politely) working at 411. So, after that experience I had to deal with the unicel person/robot, taking me 10 minutes of answering silly trick questions just to pay a bill. How not satisfying is that?

  150. Aunt Soozie says:

    Oh Deena,
    I understand what that feels like… being a single parent, sole support, thinking you’re doing a great job, loving your work and then suddenly finding yourself fired! It’s so hard for me to imagine how people can do that…take away your livelihood, knowing you have a child to support…and still be able to live with themselves, sleep at night.

    In my state I’m considered to be in a protected class based on my sexual orientation. I suppose you all know what’s happening on the Federal level? Sometime soon I hope all glbt people will have employment protection.

  151. LM says:

    I just felt the warm, rewarding rush of schaudenfreude. I watched a video report from the Values Voter Summit as evangenicals. etc. expressed their confusion and discomfort with the Republican candidates who had come to court them: from the unsaved, Rudy, to the unelectable, Brownback. I was especially taken with a smiling, dear looking woman who said she was disappointed in McCain. He kept talking about the war instead of the important issues: abortion and same-sex marriage. Somewhere beyond Pluto, in the cold and dark, is the planet these people come from. Hit the NYTimes site if you want to see the show.

  152. Kat says:

    The war seems to be the only thing that ANYONE is talking about. It’s so frustrating, and it’s no wonder that voters seem obsessed. How could they help it with corporate media using the war as a diversion tactic?

  153. Maggie Jochild says:

    I’m NOT watching the debate, for mental health reasons, but I did just read what Digby had to say about it and cracked up. Sharing with you here: “If I were to just tune in from Mars to this Republican debate, I’d be convinced that there is a horrible enemy that is stalking the American people and its name is … The Hillary. Jayzuz Christ, every single one of these guys, including Ron Paul, prefaces virtually every question with “well, if Hillary won she would (bite the heads off puppies)…” And she obviously scares the living hell out of Republicans, whose macho pretenders would rather band together, whimpering like a bunch frightened little boys in the dark, than take on each other. So they are preening for the easy applause from their Cro-Magnon audience. It’s a little bit pathetic.”

  154. Duncan says:

    If I thought Clinton would bite the heads off puppies, I might just vote for her. Unfortunately, she’s just another right-wing Democrat, dangerous to the country and the world.

    Kat, I hope you’re being sarcastic in complaining the war is all that people are talking about. In the first place, it isn’t; but even if it were, the horrors we are committing on the other side of the world do deserve our immediate attention. We need to stop killing and maiming people, right now.

    Of course the corporate media are misleading. One remedy is to stop paying attention to the corporate media, and to urge others to do the same.

  155. shadocat says:

    Duncan, you have won my heart. Hilary gives me the willies, abd puppy head-biting would make for a refreshing change in her usual rhetoric.

  156. Kat says:

    Duncan,
    I really didn’t express my point well.
    I wasn’t trying to say that we shouldn’t be talking about the war. Rather, it seems like little sound bites frequently replace actual, intelligent discourse, which is why I don’t find it surprising that a lot of folks just repeat those. Yes, we should absolutely try to urge people to get away from that. I agree.

    I also think that there are a lot of domestic issues that candidates aren’t really addressing in any detail. Have you heard anyone talk about education? Aside from vague passing references, I haven’t. Is anyone mentioning it?
    Yes, trying to sort out the mess that we’ve created in Iraq is hugely important. But let’s not forget the work that needs to be done at home.

  157. April says:

    back to the souse thing (ergh). my nana used to make it & we called it brawn. jellied catmeat sort of vibe to it. her other specialty was borscht, which is a sort of cold beetroot soup. since both were red and stomach-churning, they have been confused & conflated in my mind. happy childhood memories…

    the dumbledore fracas was the most deliciously subversive moment of my year. the whole backstory about albus & gellert just cried out to me as i was reading deathly hallows, and having it confirmed was just peachy. BTW i think book 7 *was* the snape prequel really…

    dr watson has been going the way of prince phillip for some time now. on a related note, it is now acknowledged that watson & crick’s DNA data was actually stolen from the leading researcher of the time, rosalind franklin.

    we are having elections in oz-tralia now, and i can’t help but notice a few differences between our political process and that in the us. for a start our major candidates try to eliminate any appearance of differences between them, so it becomes a ‘me too’ bidding war, a bit like an auction. they even look the same, for martina’s sake. plus they studiously avoid divisive or controversial issues (not that we have that many in oz) until the very last minute. any yelling or hard-man stuff is frowned upon – none of that ‘i am not a wimp’ stuff here. i wonder what kind of democratic process would best suit getting things done, instead of posturing and promises every 3/4 years?

    oops getting a tad long now, i’ll have to sign off.

  158. Silvio Soprani says:

    April,
    I probably have not been paying attention, but did not realize you were in Australia.

    Last night I finally watched Al Gore’s AN INCONVENIeNT TRUTH. For the first time I finally understand the basics of global warming. GAWD I should have seen this movie when it first came out.

    Of course he should not run for president. He can do much more good where he is.

    But is it my imagination, or does Chris Cooper (think BREACH) look A LOT like Al Gore? Same hairdo. Same thin little lips. Of course, Cooper looks a lot crankier, although he is such a good actor.

    Well, sorry to be so trivial in the middle of Duncan’s serious statement about how TIME IS UP for all this warmongering.

    Has anyone else noticed that on the ABC news (Charlie Gibson, who should know better) they are getting all supportive of the fundamentalists? Tonight they had this major coverage of a “save marriage” project in Oregon started by a couple from a fundamentalist church who brought all the other churches together to start mentoring new married couples? I mean, okay, I guess that is good, but it just smacked of “let’s appease these conservatives going into the election year so they don’t accuse us of being all liberal.” Am I crazy or does anyone else see it this way?

    Today I sat through a meeting at work (I work at a publishing company now) where the manager kept talking about the imperative from on high to “offshore as many journals as we can.” (Translation: transfer the composition and editing functions of medical journals from American companies to much cheaper facilities in India, Singapore, and the Phillipines.) For the first time that whole concept has a face on it for me.

    For years we did business with a company in Eastern Maryland; now we want to transfer all that business to companies in Asia. the Maryland company has employees who have worked there 25, 30, 40 years. They really know their job. But who can compete with a company who will charge $6 per page of a journal as opposed to the $11 per page that the Maryland company charges. it’s impossible.

    Also we hear about the cost of paper. The Singapore company is allowed to export their (high quality but cheaper) paper to London with no tariff, but they can’t export it to the US without a prohibitive tarriff. So we want to transfer our printing business from Maryland to London. More lost business for Marylanders.

    Then at our meeting we talked about health care. How the HMOs we previously had will no longer be an option. We have access now to only PPOs which cost twice the previous monthly premium.

    It’s all very complicated.

    And just three months ago i was worried about having no health coverage.

  159. Feminista says:

    And now for something completely different.

    Did anyone watch the comedy/drama last night on PBS about Roz Pritchard,a grocery store manager,who ran for office on a new party ticket and got elected Prime Minister? She figured the ordinary person wasn’t being represented,so decided to run,never guessing she would win. Then she appoints a record number of women (all white,unfortnately)to the Brit equivalent of Cabinet positions. She does a rather smashing job in her first few days,and definitely knows the cost of a gallon of milk,unlike either Daddy Bush or W.. Quite fun,and it’ll continue next Sunday (local dates may vary).

  160. April says:

    sounds super, feminista!
    wasn’t there a doctor who episode with a similar premise? a new M.P. from a backwater electorate, who is in touch with real issues like aged care and housing (the type that gets called ‘naive’), bothers the P.M. and gets in his face constantly. then, after weeks of her tireless lobbying, the whole cabinet is mown down by aliens. as the only competent person left, she takes charge and saves the planet, ends up P.M!
    jolly good entertainment, that.

  161. Ian says:

    Ok, this is from one of those emails that float around the internet but I couldn’t resist posting it. I’m sure Toni and Gloria have read it …

    Ten Reasons Gay Marriage is Un-American

    1. Being gay is not natural. Real Americans always reject unnatural things like eyeglasses, polyester, and air conditioning.

    2. Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.

    3. Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.

    4. Straight marriage has been around a long time and hasn’t changed at all; women are still property, blacks still can’t marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.

    5. Straight marriage will be less meaningful if gay marriage were allowed; the sanctity of Britney Spears’ 55-hour just-for-fun marriage would be destroyed.

    6. Straight marriages are valid because they produce children. Gay couples, infertile couples, and old people shouldn’t be allowed to marry because our orphanages aren’t full yet, and the world needs more children.

    7. Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.

    8. Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That’s why we have only one religion in America.

    9. Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That’s why we as a society expressly forbid single parents to raise children.

    10. Gay marriage will change the foundation of society; we could never adapt to new social norms. Just like we haven’t adapted to cars, the service-sector economy, or longer life spans.

  162. Maggie Jochild says:

    I saw it, Feminista, and was happily surprised. I especially appreciated the female bonding without backstabbing — I can’t imagine an American-made version managing to slide by without at least one vicious, male-seeking female character. I loved both the daughters. The older one was so familiar, it actually bothered me for a while trying to remember who she was. I woke up right after going to sleep with the answer in my head: She played one of the two Jarndyce wards in the stellar version of Bleak House on BBC last year. What actors they turn out over there!

  163. Kat says:

    Yeah, the Mrs. Pritchard program was great. The actors (adults anyway) have been seen a lot on the BBC. The man who played the husband, Ian, also played “The Street/Clive Norton” on Prime Suspect 5.

    On Ian’s list: People are waiting impatiently for number 3. the kid I babysit wants to marry ketchup!

  164. Grisha says:

    Let’s pray for Mayor Jerry Sanders (Dad of the Year) and his lesbian Fire Chief Tracy Jarman who are facing a monumental crisis right now.

  165. Deena in OR says:

    (Hoping this is isn’t a double post, my first one got eaten somehow…)

    Yeow, yes, Grisha-and for everyone in the Malibu/SoCal area.

    It’ll be interesting to see how the feds handle the disaster response for this one as compared to Katrina. Different SES of residents, Republican gov….hmm…Am I a cynic?

  166. oceans 111 says:

    Deena,

    I’m sure the response _will_ be quite different, and some of the difference will be due to the factors you mention, but a lot of the difference will be because the public/media attention to disaster relief has been highly sensitized after Katrina, and to fuck up the same way would be totally unacceptable. Particularly with a Dem. congress in place. I guess I would say that you’re a cynic if you end up attributing any improvement to voting pattern causes.

  167. Pam I says:

    OK shameless plug time – as both Doctor Who and Brit actors are mentioned here – my sort-of stepson’s GF Freema Agyeman is up for an acting award, if you want to check out her work see the fan site at http://freemaagyeman.com/news/, then if you fancy giving a boost to an actor who did a great job as Dr Who’s assistant (who saves the world in the last episode after being a bit assistant-y in the early ones) click through the NTA logo on the right. You have to then go/skip through 10 more increasingly depressing TV categories (Best Factual! Aaaargh!) to register the vote. I hardly watch TV but this Dr Who series did keep me home on Saturday evenings all summer.

  168. Pam I says:

    That’s http://freemaagyeman.com/news/ without the comma, oops sorry

  169. judybusy says:

    Thanks for the Roz Pritchard tip. I will totally watch it not only because it sounds smart, but that’s my last name, which I don’t see all that often. Anyone interested in Rosalind Franklin can read a great biography about her, “The Dark Lady of DNA” Watson used to call her “that dark lady.” Lastly, Maggie and everyone may be interested in the New York Times article today on how sleep aids memory, tying in with Maggie’s remembering the actress in the Pritchard show (that has *such* a nice ring to it) after she slept.

  170. oceans 111 says:

    There’s another biography, that mostly focusses on the DNA part of her career, “Rosalind Franklin and DNA.” I read this years ago in a class titled “Women in science” that had a pretty ambitious range of topics, icluding women who do science, women as a scientific subject, women and scientific careers, etc. I sort of wish I could go back and take it again.

  171. Feminista says:

    While we’re on the subject of Dr.Franklin,I remember seeing a PBS show about her in the last 4 years or so.Very much worth watching,and it still pisses me off how she didn’t get the credit she deserved. I don’t recall the title,but imagine one could get it on video or DVD from a decent sized library.

    And a new film to watch out for: Made in L.A.,about immigrant women garment workers and their organizing campaigns. The lives of some of these women were transformed just as much as they were 100 years ago when other immigrant women were organizing in New York City.

  172. Silvio Soprani says:

    Pam I,
    THANK YOU for giving me an opportunity to vote for Freema Agyeman, David Tennant, and Dr. Who. Yes, Freema was totally awesome in the last episode, not only for saving the universe, but for reading the bad guy the riot act afterward, AND for the way she forthrightly (but not sarcastically) told Dr. Who she needed to get back to her work as a doctor herself , but then she handed him her cell phone and said, “If I call you, you better show up quickly!” Aretha Franklin could not have delivered the message better. 🙂

    And speaking of Franklins, I think Rosalind Franklin was briefly mentioned in an interesting book I read about perfume and chemistry called THE EMPEROR OF SCENT. I could be wrong; it could have been in a book I read about Dorothy Hodgkin (the woman who discovered the structure of insulin using crystal something-or-other (some kind of microscopic photography) and won the Nobel Prize.

    Dorothy Hodgkin was married to a fellow name Thomas Hodgkin who pioneered adult education in England…his grandfather was the Hodgkin whom they named “non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma” after. Sooner or later, everything connects.

  173. April says:

    Pam I,
    Thanks for the Freema link!!! A better new-comer I have not seen this decade.

  174. Susanne says:

    Gay characters in Harry Potter: I thought Tonks was a lesbian – at lieast until she sadly fell in love with a man (though the man could be gay, of course, wasn’t it Lupin?). Tonks punkish looks and her tom-boyish way of acting reminded me very strongly of a certain ‘type’ (excuse the generalization) of UK lesbians of which I encountered quite a few during my 15 years or so living in the UK, changing hair colour included. Anyone else had that suspicion? I thought Rowling got cold feet and therefore made her straight in the next volume.

  175. little gator says:

    The new Dr Who(Eccleston/Tennant) is much more emotionally complicated than in old. And much more self-referential. Face of Boe(um, won;t give the spoiler but I never saw it coming.)

    My Leela was named after a character from he Tom Baker era. I suspect that Leela in Futurama was too.

    Mr Gator likes Torchwood but I find Captain Jack Harkness extremely annoying.

  176. Pam I says:

    Re Captain Jack, as a new viewer of this new DrWho series, I’d no idea of the characterisations. So it took me several episodes to realise that, yes, this is a blatant bisexual. On kiddies’ TV. We have moved on, it seems.

    John Barrowman, who plays him, did a neat job of MC-ing at London’s Gay Pride main stage this summer. Freema (Martha) did a cup-presenting turn too. Wonder what kids make of it all?

  177. April says:

    I read an interview which said that Captain Jack and Martha, because they are from Doctor Who and are loved by the aforementioned kiddies, don’t swear and screw on Torchwood like the other characters. Cap Jack gets the most romantic snog ever, though.

  178. Feminista says:

    I know what the Brit term ‘shag’ means,but what is ‘snog’?

    Dissenter here: I watched 1 1/2 episodes of the current Dr. Who and didn’t like it. I’m more of a mystery person. I like Tommy Lynley and Barbara ? in the latest BBC via PBS mystery series.

  179. Pam I says:

    Snog = kiss. I guess it’s onomatopoeic.

  180. Dominique Dibbell says:

    Alison, I am so glad you have picked up the sketch diary again. I love them! They are so fresh and beautiful and funny! I love your site, too.

  181. Natkat says:

    I think the mayanaise and Jello-O thing was a popular theme in 50s cooking. The manufacturer’s of these atrocities paid people big money to come up with recipes for the post-War brides to play with their food.

    Here is a web site with lots more information about it.

    http://www.lileks.com/institute/gallery/spec.html

    Clench your teeth, take some Alka-Selzer and enjoy.

    Oh, I’m from Ohio and we call bell peppers “mangos”. I think I was well into adulthood before I found out that real mangos are actually fruit, and what I’d been cutting up and putting into every ground beef and tomato-based pasta glop (what we called “goulash”) were actually bell peppers. I remember sending my husband at the time to the store to buy bell peppers and he had no idea what I was talking about until I said “mangos”. Whenever I tell people this they don’t believe me. Can any of you Ohio/Indiana folks back this up?

  182. Natkat says:

    Man, so much good stuff here.

    Years ago I read the story of Watson and Crick stealing Rosalind Franklin’s work then going on to win a Nobel Prize and telling anyone who would listen.

    I also identify with the dark, brooding nature of most artists. I only wish I was an artist or writer so I could justify my foul mood. I get tired of people telling me to cheer up and be nice. My GF is so frustrated with it and asked me one day what would make me happy. I thought about it a while and realized that I probably never will be happy. It’s more of my nature to be cranky and unfulfilled and I think I was born that way. I come from Northern European stock. I like to believe that our crankiness somehow ensured our survival. It helped us endure long months of crappy weather.

  183. Natkat says:

    that she be “I would tell anyone who would listen.”

    All those with BA’s in English turn your heads.

  184. mlk says:

    Nankat, I live in Columbus, Ohio and have heard bell peppers referred to as “mangos.” I generally call them “green peppers” (as opposed to “red peppers.”) *all* are bell peppers.