DTWOF episode #505

March 5th, 2007 | Uncategorized

505 detail
Sorry I haven’t been posting. I’ve been really crazed.

160 Responses to “DTWOF episode #505”

  1. maker says:

    I really like the second panel with “The Queen” in the background. Really beautifully drawn.

  2. little gator says:

    First post?

    The kid in the shopping cart strongly resembles Lynda Barry’s Marlys, except for the lack of freckling and the clothing.
    And some less obvious things. There, that last sentence covered what I missed.

    In a Bechdelian sort of way, of course.


    And don’t apologise. We owe you for having this blog up at all, much less being so welcoming of commentgators.

  3. little gator says:

    Nearly everthing in Fun Home AND dtwof is beatifully drawn, but my favorite bits are legs, bare feet, and children’s faces.

  4. Maggie Jochild says:

    So much to appreciate — the details of the WTF on the background signs in the store, the honest description of the gross of crappy pens, the “Gay Gel” pens, the poker hand on the movie marquee at the “Maul”, the irony of massive quantities of envelopes next to all the proof that most mail goes via cyber routes these days, plus “Elspeth”‘s expression and Farkas-McLaughlin tilt of her head. Just glorious. And now we know what Helen was posing for!

    Gloria’s subtle “At this rate, we might as well be carrying on” might have gone over Toni’s head, but not ours.

  5. cybercita says:

    the packaging on the pens made me laugh out loud. and helen mirren’s face is amazing!

    thanks for the link, little gator. i do love marlys.

  6. Ellen Orleans says:

    What a fine way to start my day off from work. Thanks, Alison.

    I love the kids messing with Toni’s instructions. I teach writing to middle-schoolers and that is spot-on.

    Also, “Envelopes for Your Next 5 Reincarnations.”

    The face of The Queen foreshadowing judgmental Beth McLaughlin-Farkas— brilliant. Someone needs to start a campaign:
    Put the “Laugh” back in McLaughlin-Farkas.

    I can’t stand the term “you people,” used perfectly ironically here. Those two are going to be the next to split up.

  7. little gator says:

    I love Marlys too, but it’s her brother Freddie who breaks my heart.

  8. Maggie Jochild says:

    Well, I read “Gay Gel” into the package on one set of pens instead of what it really was “Grip Gel”. Guess I expect to see that word everywhere…

    But, just looked at the strip again, and isn’t that our AB with the cone hat going into the Infiniplex in panel 1?

    And Ellen Orleans — you spelled “judgmental” correctly! So few do these days. But on this blog, except for excited typos, we strive for erudition.

  9. payton says:

    Oooh, that smug, self-righteous Farkas-McLaughlin clan, embodying that weird element of queers who marry people exactly like themselves.* Do we yet have any notion of which is Beth and which Liz? Or does it matter?

    * kind of makes you wonder about that Freudian notion of narcissism. Me, I prefer contrasts.

  10. Anonymous says:

    God, I really want to lay into her. “Must you sexualize everything? Why is it wrong to offer a friend a supportive hug? Is that really what you want to teach Elspeth?”

    And yes, love the details 🙂

  11. Chavisory says:

    Soooo loved the “WTF” aisle marker!


  12. LondonBoy says:

    I’m still in the office, and running late, but I just had to comment on this immmediately. Another wonderful strip, of course, but I wonder: Have we, after all these years, at last got ourselves some authentic villains ? Is Alison finally going to address the dark side of lesbianism ( creepy “log cabin” lesbians and Stepford domestic partners, and those awful people who turn their relationships into business ventures ) ? Oooh, I just hate Liz and Beth already !!

  13. Olivier says:

    Me, I like the way AB just jumped over the breakup and presents it to us as a fait accompli, something foregone. It feels like that in life, too: terrible stress, you think you’ll never see the end of it, and then one day, yesterday was another life.

  14. Ellen Orleans says:


    Beth is the curly-haired one who was attacking Toni and Gloria at the Freedom to Marry meeting (#501). She first appeared in the graphic novella that concluded Invasion of DTWOF.

    Liz, and I think this is the first time we’ve seen her, has the shorter, straight hair.

    Beth and Liz look pretty butch-femme to me. Not prey to the lesbian-twinning syndrome, at least not appearance-wise.

    I don’t know if we’ll ever find out (since they are ink and paper and maybe Alison hasn’t created a back story for them yet) but if they were flesh and blood, I’d suspect that not all is squeaky-clean at the McLaughin-Farkas house.

  15. The Cat Pimp says:

    Olivier, I respectfully disagree. The breakup has been a slow and painful process over quite a while. The bed death, the workaholism, the missed signals, the fling…

  16. Lizzie from London says:

    I laughed out loud at the defeated little man who is about to have a box of envelopes for life fall on his head. I amuse myself by thinking up torments for a modern Dante to put into his Inferno: one would definitely be an eternity of trying to find one refill in a superstore stationers.

    Also the different meeting times: reminds me of a friend who suggested we meet at a pub called The Polar Bear in London but it turned out he meant The Porcupine.

  17. Chris says:

    Please, please, PLEASE tell me these tedious Farkas-McLaughlin hags are going to get a suitably Bechdellian comeuppance! Can’t stand ’em.

    I’m curious what, if any, consequences there were for the kids uploading this to YouTube too.

  18. Gwen says:

    I love the Elspeth’s facial expressions. Unfortunately, it looks like she’s already learning to be nasty and judgmental from Beth. I wonder if Liz is as terrible? We haven’t heard anything from her character yet. But I can’t imagine a sweet person putting up with someone as sanctimonious as Beth.

  19. Anonymous says:

    besides having pigtails and glasses, its stretching it to say she looks like marlys.

  20. shadocat says:

    That’s quite a “hand” playin’ there at the “Infiniplex”…

    I could use a gross of those “WTF’s”—seem to be using those a LOT lately!

    (Could it be? Dare I hope? Is Toni having second thoughts??)

  21. little gator says:

    I see your point anonymous, but the squinty spectacled look and pigtails with bangs were enough to make me see Marlys.
    If she’d been genrously freckled in a diagonally-striped dress I’d have been certain, and I can’t begin to describe Marlys’ teeth.

    For those who didn’t look at the url” Lynda Barry’s “Ernie Pook’s Comeek” tells the continuing story of two nasty sisters and their kids sharing a household. One has Marlys the Great! Freddie, and the annoying teen Maybonne. The other has the twins Arna and Arnold, who are the same age as Marlys.

    It has its funny moments but is painfully real most of the time.

  22. Sophie says:

    Ooh, I SO hope our sweet gals are about to start earnestly “pursuing happiness”… it’s right there if they want to see it! That goes for Clarice, too. More love to everyone! 8D

  23. Anonymous says:

    yup. ernie pooks comeek is one of my alltime favourites, and i suppose the kid resembles maryls enough in a vague way to rationalize a shoutout and link to another amazing comic artist so everyone, go read it.

  24. reed_maker says:

    I love DTWOF. Great to come home to after a long day at work.

    When I was a kid, I cried when my mom told me that some women are Republicans. That’s exactly how I feel about the creepy Farkas-McLaughlins, who are an absolutely, inexplicably real part of this crazy world we live in.

    Maggie Jochild, I’m pretty sure “Gay Gel” was a lesbian hair product back in the ’80s. Rosie O’donnell used it in her VH-1 days.

  25. PKintheUK says:

    Yeah, loved the infiniplex hand. Brilliant. Good to see more of the Toni-Clarice-Raffi story, even though it makes me nervous.

  26. Ben says:

    It was fun to see the illustration that you showed helen posing for (or was that on her blog?) it’s really cool to get little glimpses into how you do your work.

  27. PixieLauren says:

    Oh — This strip was so flipping funny on so many levels! I laughed out loud and then had to tell my kids “None of your business” when they asked why — I’m just not ready to explain “WTF” to them…Or the rest of the humor!

    But oh…I needed a laugh today so, so badly…Just perfect…

  28. Suzanonymous says:

    Sophie, I wouldn’t mind seeing the pursuit of happiness resume between Toni and Gloria, and Clarice and Ginger, for that matter.

    One of my favorite things about DTWOF has been the little jokey details (toddler Raffi reading “Everybody Poops” still makes me laugh :-)) but recently they seemed to have largely disappeared. Okay, I do respect that it’s up to the artist. Then this episode suddenly has a plethora of them. Weeee! Thanks, Alison, I do so like’em. 😀

  29. tacitus says:

    Son of a B, Alison, you do good work. The layout of each panel and the pacing is nuanced and excellent; the story continues to intrigue.

    (why apologize for not posting? this is so secondary. take care of yourself & do good work.)

  30. Deena in OR says:

    Hmmmm, the glasses, the pony tails, the expression? I see a young Cynthia. :-O

  31. Feminista says:

    Stapled,huh? I just got an e-note from my cousin Ruth,who said her oldest son is still toiling at Staples in MA until he can find an IT job. He has provided a lot of tech support on creating her family history websites. Good satire,anyway,of Big Box stores.

    I agree that Elspeth looks like Maryls,complete with the clueless expression. However,she could rebel and become a radical cheerleader(seen at peace demos shouting “we’re sexy,we’re cute,and radical to boot”) or a riotgrrl.

    So the Clarice/Toni split appears to have occurred,something we at the western OR meet-up brunch lamented but most thought was inevitablebrunch. It’s still sad–I remember Mo saying that C and T were “an institution.” I remember the scenes on the bus to a march on Washington,when Clarice declared about Toni “I’m going to marry that woman!” to a shocked Mo,who replied (paraphrasing here)–“Marry? Ooh,gross me out,Clarice–how patriarchal!”

  32. Feminista says:

    Oops,should read “thought was inevitable.” I’m editing as I write and sometimes get verplunked.

  33. Deb says:

    I had such a great time with this one. I love the details and I cracked up to see the person with the cone hat going into the movie theater, so well named, “INFINIPLEX”. that was perfect. I have to admit, I paid more attention to the details with this one than the intent of the strip.

    “They Skip! They Blot! But you have 144!” I have to quote that somewhere. I loved it!

  34. Feminista says:

    I’m getting carried away here,but anyway…tonight my community choir,which practices in the basement of a progressive Lutheran church because it’s a convenient location,was asked on the spot to sing for a wedding being held upstairs. We all agreed and sang a South African song to the happy couple,Mary and Tanya,who were being joined in a commitment ceremony by a cool mid-life female minister. This was a last-minute event as the women were being deployed to different units in Afghanistan They were dressed alike in black pants and white shirts. Two flower children and two guests were in the audience. Aah,it was sweet,and they seemed so happy.

  35. LM says:

    I would bet that the cone-hat person saw The Queen.

  36. Maggie Jochild says:

    Feminista, thanks so much for sharing about your singing gig. I don’t know why, but it really got to me. I can’t imagine what they are going through, those women. If nothing else good comes from the terrible, terrible war, it will be how much the left has shifted toward understanding the lives of soldiers, the pull to duty, and toward articulating how wrong it is on an individual level to take such sacrifice for granted (not just a political stance).

    On a complete other note, I find myself intrigued by the notion of an inevitablebrunch.

  37. Pam I says:

    Those little details are what we used to find on the Madwimmin bookshelves – I never knew how AB managed to come up with so many every 2 weeks, did it involve a big round-table brainstorm down at the wimmins cafe?

    Is AB going to Do a Hitchcock and include herself in all the strips? Or maybe she has been doing this for years and I just haven’t noticed – the difference between print and screen, now I go back over the strip more, following blog heads-ups. Head-ups? Heads-up?

  38. Eva says:

    What about the whole Elizabeth business with Beth, Liz and Elsbeth?! All three of them basically have the same name. The adult women just happen to have the same name, but naming their child after themselves is too much, much too much. And don’t give me that naming after dead relatives bit, either! I once knew a family where everyone, man, woman and both children, girl and boy, were variations of Charles. Ick! My prediction for this little family, based on this strip, is that Elsbeth will grow up just like her culrly-haired mom, and straight haired mom (who looked like SHE wanted to cry) won’t leave until curly haired mom kicks her out for a big bull of a dominatrix (who she had an affair with while they were together).

  39. Eva says:

    Um, excuse me. I guess I got a little carried away. I forgot these are cartoon characters. Alison, I hope you don’t know any families where everyone has variations on the same first name. I know the cartoon characters didn’t name themselves. You did! It’s funny, but it creeps me out!

  40. Kat says:

    didn’t a reader suggest the name “elspeth” for their spawn? I seem to remember a discussion about the evil McLaughlin-Farkas/Farkas-McLauglins….
    Rafi and Stella are the coolest, and I hate that age, so that’s saying something.
    Plus, I’m so glad I read this blog, and all the comments, cuz I completely missed a couple of the details that people are mentioning. I went back and triple-re-read, and the strip got better each time.
    wonderful job, Alison!

  41. Jude says:

    I want to drum them out of the McLaughlin clan! Yeeeeeesh. They’re giving us a bad name. So to speak.

  42. Ann says:

    What a great metaphor – the “single pen.” Yep, that’s an exquisitely true feeling after a break up. As a single pen, you’re more likely to get kicked under the couch, dropped between the car seats, or forgotten at the bottom of a backpack. Pens in packs (or grosses) are more likely to be seen and retained, and there’s a subsequent feeling of security – hey, if I lose one of my 144, there’s 143 left, and we’re still pens! Curses to those who lack compassion for the tenderness in being a single pen.

  43. geogeek says:

    I liked the “Maul” best out of the surrounding material

    Totally off-topic, the little map that shows how many hits this site gets must be screwed up – it says that AB’s had 3 visitors since feb 2nd. r is it just my browser?

    I really feel bad for Toni. I don;t quite understand what set her off, but boy, do I knwo that state of mind where it doesn’t really matter what happens, something will set one off.

  44. LondonBoy says:

    I think it’s interesting that several people ( me included ) are speculating more about the McLaughlin-Farkas clan than about the strip’s regular characters. Do you think they have arguments ( in the privacy of their own home, when no-one else can possibly see ) about whether they’re McLaughlin-Farkas or Farkas-McLaughlin ? I have an uneasy feeling that they’re trying to get Elspeth into a private school ( “so that she’ll be with people of the same cultural background”, as they’ll phrase it ).

    Slightly apropos of the McLaughlin-Farkases, am I the only person to have noticed that the whole Freedom to Marry movement has, on average, more support from right-wing lesbians and gay men than the other things we’ve fought for over the years ? I was at college with a well-known blogger and proponent of gay marriage, and I can’t help but wonder what he was doing when I was getting sneered at on early Pride marches and handing out fliers for Outrage – oh, that’s right, he was schmoozing with a bunch of right-wing pundits. Grrrr !! I suspect the McLaughlin-Farkases have some skeletons in their closet, though I’m not sure what they will be – perhaps Liz had to give up her job at Merrill Lynch in the wake of the Martha insider-trading scandal… I bet they mix socially with that dreadful rival of Sydney’s ( can’t remember her name, but she had enormous teeth ).

    Oh, and speculating about Toni: is it possible that she’s having second thoughts ? As usual, I can’t wait for the next strip !

  45. Montrealais says:

    I want to drum them out of the McLaughlin clan! Yeeeeeesh. They’re giving us a bad name. So to speak.

    Me too; at least I spell my name differently.

    (Fortis et fidus! Testify!)

  46. Ellen Orleans says:

    London Boy,

    I can’t tell if it’s healthy or unhealthy that, since the 1990’s, the most visible portion of the gay civil rights movement has focused on the military and marriages. Doesn’t do much for me, but maybe cutting a wider swath is good over all.

    My queer volunteer work is with GLBTQA youth and it’s amazing to see the mix of kids that meet and work together at these Gay-Straight alliances and queer outreach groups. Light years away from my upbringing when I truly was told, “it’s a phase” and “talking about it only encourages it.”

    Last year I worked with a group of lesbians and gay men on an upscale fundraiser. We made lots of money that was spread out to good causes, but at the price of pushing lots of alcohol, excluding most low income folks, and being subjected to a hierarchical business model by a wealthy, clueless gay man. I resigned as soon as the event was over, thoroughly disgusted.

    Give me a bunch of dykes, tranny bois, and radical fairies making plans in some one’s living room over cheap pizza and tap water any day.

    Maggie, “judgmental” and “misspelling” are two words I hate to spell incorrectly. Because of the irony. Also, my “loves the keyboard” cat is Bella, named after the Congresswoman.

  47. LondonBoy says:


    I think it’s important that we have, and that the society in which we live agrees and affirms that we have, the same rights and duties as everyone else. These include the right to get married ( and I for one don’t want a separate-but-equal “civil partnership”, which is what we’ve currently got in the UK ) and the freedom to serve in our countries’ militaries on the same basis as anyone else, but for me there’s more to it than that. It’s not enough to pass legislation saying that lesbians and gay men must not be discriminated against at work, say, if employers systematically underpay all women, or all black people, and so on. We, as lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgenders and all the other members of our rainbow will not be fully liberated until everyone is liberated: their struggle is our struggle, and our struggle is also theirs. I vividly remember marching against Section 28 ( an anti-gay legal measure in the 1980s ), and hearing speeches from the wives of striking miners: lesbians and gay men had marched to protect the miners, at a time when they were under attack, and now they were marching to protect us. They had realised that our interests were intertwined. My worry is that we may be forgetting this. It’s great that so many more people are fighting the battle now – it’s always a sign that you’re winning when people flock to your banner – but, like you, I miss the pizza, the endless talk through the night of revolution, the drag queens facing down East End queer-bashers, and the dykes drunk on cider. I envy all the teen gay boys and girls I see on Old Compton Street, because things are easier for them than they were for me and my friends, and of course I wouldn’t wish life any different for them, but sometimes I just want to shake them and shout “Don’t you realise how much more there is to be done ?!”

    The funny thing is that most of my friends think of me as a dangerous right-winger, but either I’ve drifted to the left or global society has drifted to the right…

  48. AnotherOregonian says:

    Fun thread. LondonBoy, could you elaborate on “Stepford DPs” and “those awful people who turn their relationships into business ventures?” I think you’re on to something…

    ps It’s sunny here. A jaw-dropping spring miracle. And Feminista, thanks for the touching story.

  49. shadocat says:

    Hope I have permission from the masses gathered her (and AB if she’s reading to ask a dumb question—Did Gloria AND Toni just leave their partners, I mean in a physical sense? I thought Yoni and Clarice broke up and decided to just cohabit under the same roof. Did I miss something? Did Toni and Gloria move in together? And what is THEIR(T&G’s) status? Are they friends that just indulged in a little canoodling? Or are they a couple now? I’m just wondering; forgive me for being as thick as a plank…

    Also, I kinda like the Farkas-McLaughlin’s/McLaughlin-Farkis’s…There sort of endearing, in a pain in the ass sort of way. And little Elspeth is as cute as an ornery button!(Or as they say where I come from–ON*ree button.)

  50. shadocat says:

    oops sorry–BIG Freudian slip there! I of course meant TONI not, uh yoni…

  51. little gator says:

    I know you meant Toni but i giggled anyway.

    I’m still tyring to sort out the characters. I gave up reading after Digger died a very short time after my own Molly did. Molly was my husband’s best beast beloved and even though I was her secondary backup human she adored me, as long as Eric wasn’t noticing her. A few eps later I saw Digger’s mom(I used to knwo her name) seeing dogs everywhere and it was too much. Did she ever consider getting another?

    I foudn the one in the archive with Mo kissign Digger goodbye and I still see him as Molly, even thoguth Molly was a longeared speckled hound with no visual resemblance.

  52. DeenainOR says:

    shadocat….tooooo funny!

  53. little gator says:

    Who Our Pets Were Named After

    Lydia after the Groucho Marx song Lydia the Tattooed Lady.
    She’s a tabby with black dots and lines on her white feet and black paw pads, and looks like she’s been playing in ink. My friend Chris would have totally approved.

    The justmentioned Molly came with the name and it lengthened to Molly the Speckled.

    Someone once told me that lesbians who have pets sooner or later have one named Molly Bolt or Sappho. She herself had a tortoishell feline Molly Bolt at the time.

    A week later two women came to the vet I worked for with their dog Sappho, which convinced me it must be true.

  54. Jaibe says:

    I was really hoping Tony & Gloria were going to see the Queen together… but I don’t think this has bearing on the future, I think it’s just a realistic reaction to a breakup. Toni & Clarice may have been over for years, but they hadn’t admitted it, they hadn’t given up. This may have been the first time Toni thought of herself as single, after years of thinking of herself as beloved and married.

    Speaking of old times, hello PaytonC! From planet out, unless it’s quite a coincidence!

    Ok serious content — I have a confession. I’ve gone off Lynda Barry. I used to think she was really profound and rememberd childhood in a way no one else did, and I *still* really like the kickball episode of 1001 Demons. The only thing that bothered me was you kept thinking something would go somewhere, but it kind of felt like it never did. But lots of comics are like that I guess. *But* I bought Cruddy & I kept getting depressed while reading it, and my partner said “yeah, I read parts of that, it was just nasty for no reason. There’s no way I’d read the whole thing.” It was like when my partner pointed out the way my Mom played mind games with me in the letters she sent — I’ve never been able to look at either the same way since. And now I just stopped reading all Lynda Barry’s strips.

  55. AnotherOregonian says:

    Re: Lynda Barry–Poodle with a Mohawk is a classic, no?

    And re: NW cartoonists–Has anyone else seen the film bio of John Callahan?

  56. little gator says:

    *film* bio?

    No. Last thing I knew of from Callahan was his kid’s tv cartoon, which was dispappintingly preachy.

    and(whispers) I get bored by Lynda’s comeek when Fred the Poodle starts ranting. BUt I am completely in love with Marlys, Freddie, and Arna.

  57. AnotherOregonian says:

    *Kid’s TV* by Callahan? Whoa.

    http://www.dollev.com/ has good info about the documentary, which I saw at the Portland Int’l Film Fest. I really enjoyed it although I certainly am not at complete ease with Callahan’s depictions of sexual, gender and racial issues. But he makes me laugh hard and I think he does a lot for disabled visibility.

    I don’t know Fred the Poodle, but Poodle with a Mohawk was a one-panel wonder.

    Apologies if this is too off-topic, even for this board!

  58. Ginjoint says:

    I just read One Hundred Demons by Lynda Barry, and the one that made me cry was the one about her dog and their beginning together. Cruddy – that was a hard read; not a pleasant story.

  59. Therry says:

    Alison, I’ve been away for a while, but oh it so good to see you again. Wait, that sounds like you’ve been away. I’m a little crazed myself. What can I say, but you are completely wonderful! My deepest wish is that you get a gig doing The Funny Pages for the New York Times Sunday magazine. They’ve been running a mind-dumbing piece by Seth for just a little too long, like maybe since the Truman administration. I just picked up Jaime Hernandez’ first anthology of Love and rockets, Maggie the Mechanic! He reminds me of you, all the nekkid ladies and the gorgeous detail. But nobody wields the pen like you do. Much love, and hang in there —

    Yer fan, Therry

  60. K.B. says:

    I like best the scene where Elspeth is coming ’round the corner in the shopping cart!

  61. genevieve says:

    Before reading the last panel, I was expecting the McLaughlin-Farkas woman to be some random homophobic yahoo.

    I also love all the little fun details in this strip, particularly the “Maul”. And it’s kind of interesting to see a strip focusing on Toni. It seems we’ve always gotten more of Clarice outside the ‘institution’, due to her history with Mo and then her affair with Ginger. After all these years, I feel like I don’t know Toni as well as I do the other characters. Much as I wanted Toni and Clarice to stay together, this could be a great opportunity to explore a side of Toni that we’ve never gotten to see.

  62. Maggie Jochild says:

    I had a Bella cat who was named after Bella Abzug, too. She was my mother’s, a long-haired calico, and she came to live with me after my mother died when Bella was 11. She never quite got over losing my mother, which was all right because neither did I. Lived to be a very cranky 17.

    My Abbysinian Rusk was named for his color but also that was my grandfather’s name. My Cat of Cats Alice was named for a very remote ancestor of mine, Lady Alicia DeLisle, who was the first to be executed during the Bloody Assizes of 1685 for conspiring against the King. Alice was a gorgeous Manx who had an extensive understanding of English and did more than any other animal I’ve ever met to cross the species communication barrier.

    My current feline roommate, Dinah, chose her name in a dream I had about her the night before I met her. I wanted to name her Ripley, but she scoffed at the idea. I don’t know why she likes Dinah. She has no interest in crossing the species communication barrier.

  63. morganna says:

    sydney’s rival with the enormous teeth was betsy gilhooley, who syd described as ‘an arrogant, overbearing, careerist cutthroat’ – a little like the pot calling the kettle black, no?

  64. meg says:

    good analogy on the pens–just was at staples last week and was completely irritated that the smallest quantity of the pen i needed was 25

  65. Danyell says:

    I especially like the box that says “WTF”!


    It’s the details that make us feel like you really care.

  66. shadocat says:

    lil gator–I agree–I was deeply affected by Digger’s death. Reminded my of my sweet doggie, Ginger, who was the only being on the planet who ever really gave me total, unconditional love. I mean, my kids weren’t always glad to see me, the cats aren’r always glad to see me, even my gf’s not always glad to see me. But that dog always was. Plus she bit my ex-husband’s hand once when he threatened me, so I think that alone should elevate her to sainthood in “dog heaven”.

    Maggie, did you know the name of Alice’s (from Wonderland fame) was Dinah?

  67. shadocat says:

    CAT, that is. CAT,CAT,CAT. Gawd, I’ve gotta stop taking my meds BEFORE I blog!

  68. Maggie Jochild says:

    Your typos are the best, Shado. Yoni what I mean.

    Dinah loathes the mention of Alice, who has once too often been held up to has as an Example of Catdom. When she hears Alice’s name, she exhorts her to “Go toward the Light!” So, we here in this household must disclaim the possibility that Dinah’s name arises from you-know-how.

    Wasn’t Ginger the name of the dog in that inspired Gary Larsen cartoon about what we say to dogs, what they hear?

    Londonboy, I react to the word “marriage” like Maynard G. Krebs reacted to “work”. The lesbian-feminists of my ilk were perfectly willing to reclaim or redefine some concepts or terms (like dyke, cunt, and collectivism) but marriage as an institution has reeked for too long. We used to joke that there were three sure-fire signs a lesbian couple was unable to grow together and were fighting an inevitable break-up: First they’d buy a house together, then they’d get married, then (last ditch) they’d have a kid. That was BEFORE Clarice and Toni followed that same death spiral — it was just a noticeable phenom in the non-political-dyke community.

    And as for the military — my personal response is always to quote Susan Saxe, “I see no humor in uniform.”

    Kat, you’re right, the name “Elspeth” was proposed by a reader of this blog some time ago, reacting to the similar names of the Farkas-McLaughlins, who, as it turned out then, were originally the same person in Alison’s head, which is why there were two names and the transposed McLaughlin-Farkas. AB use of it is the ultimate tip o’the nib. Whoever it was, speak up here and claim your credit!

  69. Judith, London says:

    please someone explain WTF?

  70. Doctor E says:

    Lynda Barry’s work can be laugh-out-loud funny at times, and heart-rendingly sad at others. What more could one want? I thought Fred the Poetry dog was a brilliant concept, but if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.

    My pets:
    Bix, a Great Dane named after the jazz pioneer Bix Beiderbeck
    Zouzou, a rescue mutt named after the Josephine Baker character
    Riffraff, a Belgian Shepherd named after the Underdog villain

    Before them was Momur a sweet, gentle and very dangerous wolf named after the Adrian Belew song. Raising a wolf in my home was simultaneously the stupidest and most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.

  71. chewy says:

    WTF – What The F___. Usually asked as a question.

  72. LondonBoy says:


    I think it was Yi-Sheng who theorised that the McLaughlin-Farkas offspring was called “Elspeth”, though I can’t remember the exact circumstances.


    I was envisaging a “Stepford DP” as being something like a “Stepford Wife” – a kind of excessively submissive, robotic housewife kept sedated by her spouse in the interests of forming one half of a “perfect marriage” ( maybe a little like Laura Bush ). The “awful people who turn their relationships into business ventures” may be more common in male couples, but I imagine they exist as female couples too: the kinds of people who turn their two salaries into a property empire renting rooms to underpaid lesbians, or the kinds of people who have turned themselves into a non-threatening “TV gay couple” – people, in other words – who have a vested financial interest in maintaining their status as a couple, irrespective of how their interpersonal dynamics have evolved.

    My problem is that I tend to invent back stories to explain loose ends in the main strip ( like the therapist who got Lois hooked on prescription drugs for her own nefarious ends, or the epidemic of chlamydia that put Clarice and Toni off the idea of becoming suburban swingers ), and the McLaughlin-Farkas clan are fertile ground for this.

  73. Andrew B says:

    I think the Elspeth originator’s full name is Ng Yi-Sheng. See episode 501 and comments on it. I’m surprised he hasn’t stuck his head up to take credit. He was a real regular for a while.

    Wasn’t it just about 10 years ago that Toni was crying on Gloria’s shoulder when somebody found them and misinterpreted what was going on? Except then it was Clarice who walked in on them. And then, as now, there was something sexual in the background — the misinterpretation was of the immediate circumstances.

    The M-F’s are awful, or at least Liz is. What do you think “you people” was supposed to refer to? I hope it’s an ironic reference to lesbians, but it could also be a serious, racist reference to Latinas. I can’t remember there being such a pure villain in dtwof before.

    It’s good that Toni and Gloria have enough on the ball to blame Liz. They could easily have blamed Raffi and Stella for posting the video, and accepted Liz’s behavior as a normal response.

    I still think Toni and Clarice could be happier together than they will be apart. That won’t remain true much longer, though (if it is true now). Pretty soon the pain of splitting up will overshadow everything that was good about their companionship.

    And I hope Stella is going to stay in the strip as a character in her own right, whatever happens to Gloria.

  74. --MC says:

    I had a cat named Lydia once. She was named after one of the characters from Angela Thirkell’s Barsetshire stories.
    Londonboy mentioned Section 28 .. here in the PNW we had Oregon’s Ballot Measure 9 in 1992, which would have effectively outlawed gays and lesbians .. it did not get voted in, but it was close, and the organization that backed it is still around in some form or other ..
    And I had the chance to buy some John Callahan originals in the mid-80s; he had a small art show, with original cartoons for sale — drawn on typing paper, stapled to a board. They were like five bucks apiece. Why didn’t I buy them all?

  75. Jana C.H. says:

    I hope everyone has noticed that there are four women named Elizabeth in this strip.

    It used to be fairly common for people to name an eldest daughter after the mother, just as it’s still common to name an eldest son after the father. See Jane Austen for examples. So it’s not completely freaky that Beth and Liz named their daughter Elspeth.

    Boris got his Russian name because when I got him I was told he was half Russian Blue, and because he’s the adoptive brother of the late Illya, who was a Russian Blue with a pedigree as long as your arm. (Illya was named for Illya Kuryakin of “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”) When Boris was a skinny little kitten it was believable that he was part Russian Blue, but he has grown into a big, chunky grey-and-white cat whom no one could mistake for a Russkie. His second name, Janavitch, of course means “son of Jana,” and was shared by all my Russian Blues.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith Floss Forbes: If you don’t know the tune, sing tenor.

  76. judybusy says:

    I have a cat that my ex-husband and I adopted, along with another Humane society kitten. My ex is Jewish, so we named them Shlomo and Rachel, Shlomo being Yiddish for peace. Well, I got divorced, got to keep the cats and got a roommate to help with expenses. She, like many Gentiles, found Shlomo a puzzlingly difficult name to say and after a few weeks announced she was changing his name to Buddy. Well, he *is* a super friendly cat, always to be relied on to settle on the most allergic guest, or the ones wearing black pants. Even though I really liked his original name, I had tired of explaining it so now he’s been Buddy well over half his life. Most importantly, he hasn’t minded.

    Many years from now, When Buddy and Rachel have passed on, I will likely get another cat. I want to name her Foljambe, after Georgie’s maid in the Mapp and Lucia stories.

  77. xckb13 says:

    To me, Beth’s comment, “oh please, can’t you people control yourselves,” is odiously reminiscent of the usual sneer flung by people who hate to love the sinner and love to hate the sin. As in, “I understand that you people have urges, but do you have to act on them? And in public? Why do you always have to flaunt it?”

  78. Doctor E says:

    My girlfriend thinks it’s really strange that I have names picked out for pets I don’t have yet. I’m glad to see I’m not the only one!

  79. Jana C.H. says:

    Andrew B– I think “you people” refers to “you adulteresses”.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith E.G. Forbes: Never spoil a good story with too much truth.

  80. Jaibe says:

    Note if they *had* been random homophobes coming around the corner they would have guessed correctly that there was nothing going on. Yet.

  81. Margie says:

    What’s up with Raffi and Stella going to the movies? Are the just friends or going on a date?

    They’re in middle school, right?

    I guess when you’re 40 and gay, they seem like little kiddies, but for those of us who are a little younger and a little more hetero, it raises a bit of a question.

    They would make a cute couple.

  82. judybusy says:

    Yes, Dr. E, and tell the gf that my wife has the dog’s name picked out, too: Hadley, for the small Massachusets town she grew up in. Glad to see there are some other long-thinking folks out there.

    On another note completely, there was a vocabulary contest recently featured in the New York Times, with MANY words I didn’t recognize! Fun! Check it out: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/06/nyregion/06words.html

  83. fjm says:

    Jana comments on Jane Austen names… while in a late eighteenth century church recently I noticed that while the sons’ names on stones were as varied as girls’ names are today, the girls’ names were astonishingly uniform:

    in any order.

    Then at the fourth daughter someone would get inventive and we were into Charis, Diana, Sappho and other Greek names.

  84. shadocat says:

    Maggie–I wish I could say I named my doggie after the Gary Larsen cartoon (it did hang on my fridge for many years). My Ginger was named by my children, after a character in the very good, but very short lived T.V.series, “Home Front”. This would not ordinarily be a problem, but the name Ginger is usually reserved for a dog with a rust-colored coat, and our dog was sort of a dark taupe–with blue eyes, no less (I suspect there was a weimaraner in the background somewhere.)When people would ask, I was forced to tell this very uninteresting story over, and over…I finally just started teling them, “She has a spicey personality”.

    Jana–As a kid, I was a HUGE “Man From U.N.C.L.E.” fan! When the neighborhood kids played “U.N.C.L.E.”, I had to arm wrestle for the right to “play” Illya (he WAS the cool one, ya know).

    One more thought…If Gloria and Toni are moving in together, and Raffi and Stella are gettin’ that lovin’ feelin’, think of the complications that could ensue!! I know, may of you will say they’ve grown up practically like brother and sister; but many a first love starts with “the boy next door” (or the girl…or hell, who knows, maybe one day Taylor will come out, and fall in love with Raffi…)

  85. little gator says:

    Littleknown fact about names:

    In the 1800s, girls with their mother’s names were often called Dolly, just as boys with thier fathers’ names were Junior.

    I’ve got one such Dolly in my family, my greatgrandfather’s sister Julia, named after their mother but always known as Dolly. His first wife was Julia too, and his second wife’s sister.

    His only daughter was NOT named Julia.

  86. The AstroDyke says:

    Ellen Orleans! What are you doing with yourself these days?

    I’ve really enjoyed your books — Dykes of Madison County was a stitch, and your essay collections made me laugh out loud. Especially the parts about Trek, and a 1-800 number for rapid infusion of lesbian culture during extended holidays w/ family.

    (astrodyke@gmail.com, astrodyke.blogspot.com)

  87. judybusy says:

    What?! There’s an 800 number I can call when spending time with my family? Does it have to be extended visits or can I call even if I’ve been there for just 20 minutes or so?

  88. Olivier says:

    Cat Pimp, yes of course we witnessed much of the process leading to the breakup but not the breakup itself: in one pane they were still unsure whether to split, as if it would drag on for another 6 months, and then suddenly in the next pane it had finally come to pass. Just like that.

  89. Maggie Jochild says:

    Genealogy geek here: The Scots naming pattern, which was used by the majority of Southern whites until after the Civil War, dictates that the oldest son is named for the father’s father, second son for the mother’s father, third son for the father, and after that for various uncles on either side. Oldest girl was named for mother’s mother, next for father’s mother, next for mother, and then after aunts. This was so reliably practiced that it can be used to extrapolate (or provide circumstantial proof for) the unknown names of an older generation — especially the mother’s mother, as first names as well as maiden names for women in those days tend to never appear on records.

    This naming tradition was not used in New England or other parts of the country, at least not often. And when it was not observed in a Southern family, it’s a strong clue that their ethnicity was not originally Scots (or Scotch-Irish as it is mistakenly called).

    The “Jo” in Jochild comes from my mother (part of that 70’s dyke naming tradition) but it is originally Scots for darling. As in John Anderson My Jo.

  90. Anonny Mouse says:

    Gloria seems to be missing the point: Since Toni and Clarice did in fact get married (after having a civil union, after having a commitment ceremony), as far as anyone who considers their marriage valid in any way is concerned, Beth is right, Gloria and Toni ARE adulterers. Or at least Toni is, since she’s the married one. I don’t think it’s been revealed if Gloria and Ana are/were married or not.

    It would seem that Toni might consider their one-night stand adultery, even if Gloria doesn’t. Which in itself doesn’t speak well for any future together Gloria might be imagining.

    I wonder if Toni’s parents ever ended up getting to like Clarice, off-panel. During one of the metafictional “we know we’re in a comic strip” installments, it was claimed that Toni’s mother joined PFLAG. Some breakups can lead to family members taking unexpected sides…

  91. straight girl fan says:

    Myself, I’m not that interested in seeing the F.-M.’s demonized. If we see much more of them, I want to know what makes them tick. Evil characters are so much more interesting when you understand them and to some degree sympathize with them. Like Sydney.

  92. shadocat says:

    me too sgf–and frankly, I’d be a lttle pissed at Toni and Gloria too, if I was in Liz and Beth’s shoes. I mean the straight non-fans already think we can’t be monogomous. Toni and Gloria just handed ’em more ammo for the fight!(Well, actually,Raffi and Stella did that; but hey, ammo is ammo dammit!)

    And villans ARE much more interesting (EVIL GRINNING COMMENCES…)

    AB, I’m lighting a big candle for your win tommorow…

  93. LondonBoy says:

    I do seem to be posting a lot more to this thread than usual… I just wanted to add a brief note: I don’t actually like Gloria. I can’t put my finger on why, but there’s something about her – the way that she’s facilitated things, perhaps – that makes me uncomfortable.

    I never thought Sydney was evil, and I still don’t. She’s a difficult, prickly person, certainly, but that just makes her more human. Personally, I think she’s one of AB’s greatest creations. In the same way I agree that the M.-F.’s are not “evil” in any Stalin-esque sense of the word, and if we were to see what makes them tick ( a fight to escape trailer-trash poverty, a never-quite successful struggle for parental approval, and so on ) we would understand why they are the way they are. But right now all we see is the external nastiness.

  94. silvio soprani says:


    You go, Girl! [well, “Dude…”] Keep on posting!

    I just find Gloria colorless. She is kind of boring in a suburban sort of way. Of course, that’s just because we have not really seen much of her. (And of course, it is hard to get a word in edgewise when Clarice, Toni, Sydney, Mo, and everybody else are happenin’. I must say that Stella is a lot more interesting to me than her mother.

  95. Andrew B says:

    For the record, I got Beth and Liz confused in my previous post. It’s Beth who is as pure a villain as I can remember in dtwof. Sydney in her early days was more annoying, but Beth is more, well, banal. No idea yet about Liz, except that I really really don’t like her partner. And yes, I’m sure Beth has a backstory. But so does everybody.

    Of course for purposes of this strip, God lives in Vermont, where she reveals the secret places of the deer and sets off avalanches. So we’ll see if she has more interesting plans for Beth.

  96. 8BallEd says:

    i have a gray block concealing the last tier of 505. anyone else seeing this?

  97. yiddish knower says:

    to judybusy

    shlomo is not yiddish for peace. it’s the israeli/sephardic hebrew word for Soloman (as in King Soloman in the Bible).

    The Yiddish word for peace is Sholem. (As opposed to the israeli/sephardic word Shalom.)

    and the Yiddish word for Soloman is Shloime or Shloymie. (My grandfather’s name, btw.)

  98. yiddish knower says:

    that said: Shlomo does have the same root as shalom. It’s a proper name with the etymology: ‘peaceful’ or ‘God’s peace’. It’s explicitly not Yiddish–has a very strong modern Hebrew vibe to it. Another Yiddish word for Soloman by the way is Zalman.

  99. little gator says:

    I knew a woman named Shlomit once. She said it was the feminine from of Shlomo. She pronounced it Schloe-MEET.

  100. Laugin, M'seur ... says:

    It’s funny that Therry brought up Love and Rockets, I was just thinking that Liz and Beth is the title of a similar “adult” comic, this one geared more toward straight male fans of girl-girl sex.

    Let me know if I’m up to speed: Toni and Gloria had an affair (may have started with a one-night stand but it continued) Ana found out somehow and moved out, the thing went down in the bagel shop with Mo (priceless) that led to Mo’s fender-bender in the next strip (even more priceless) and now Toni and Clarice are estranged but still living together. Have I missed anything?

  101. judybusy says:

    Thanks, Yiddish knower! Now I know why that cat has mediated so many household disputes these past 12 years….and I just thought he was nosy.

  102. shadocat says:

    Londonboy–here in MIssouri (a place I like to call the “buckle” of the “Bible Belt”)I hear the words “evil”,”Satan”, even “villain”,tossed around so casually, which I suspect is a carryover from Sunday school indoctrination, or the occassional revival meeting.They seem to have crept into everyday conversation to descibe things that previously would just be referred to as just plain old “bad”. When Sydney first came to the strip, I, like many others just HATED Sydney–I thought she was a pompous bitch(sometimes still do) I probably posted many things like, “I hate that Sydney, she is EVIL”, which is (for me anyway) “hillbilly-ese” for, “I don’t like Sydney: I think she’s a pompous bitch.” Not like axe-murderer evil;
    more like she’s mean and irritating-evil (BTW, I’ve softened quite a bit about Sydney over time–sometimes, I find her actually likeable; even kinda sexy–just sometimes, now!)

  103. silvio soprani says:

    I was sad to learn in the news this morning that “Are You Being Served” actor, John Inman has died.

    I know some people felt that his swishy character, Mr. Humphries was stereotypical, and therefore a negative image, but I never felt that way.(Of course, I am not a gay man, but I have had gay male friends whom I liked for similar reasons.)

    I thought his character accepted himself just the way he was, fabulous and all. He was the epitome of being “out” because he did not hide anything about his true nature.

    Inman played the character with such joy, compassion, and kindness that if anything, it created a place of familiarity about gay men for people who might not know one personally, thereby paving the way for acceptance.

    In the continuum of cinematic gay characters in the 20th and 21st century, there have been many kinds of gay men portrayed. Inman’s is far away on the scale from,say, the guy in “My Best Friend’s Wedding” (Rupert Brooke?) or the two partners in “Four Weddings and a Funeral.” All of the latter were a bit less silly, and a bit more handsome, but of them all, I loved Inman’s the most.

    I will miss him. He has made me laugh so many times, I am sure he has extended my life span.

    RIP, John Inman.

  104. little gator says:

    He was always my favorite of the “Are You Being Served” crew, and he had serious competition there.

    He was even funnier and sweeter than Mrs. Slocombe and her pussy.

  105. Deena in OR says:

    little gator–
    And what could be sweeter than that?

    Seriously, and off topic-

    If anyone on the blog has had experience living with someone with narcissistic personality disorder, and would be willing to dialogue off-blog, I would appreciate the opportunity to tap into the collective mind. You can reach me at


    sorry to hijack the thread…..

  106. geogeek says:

    Ha! I just got another background joke. All of the movie titles have playing cards in them. Nifty.

  107. Jen says:

    And its a flush too (AKQJ10)

  108. straight girl fan says:

    Holy cats, geogeek! Triple bonus points to you!

  109. Ellen Orleans says:

    Laugin, M’seur …

    From what we’ve seen (who knows what goes on backstage?) I don’t think Gloria and Toni have had sex since the night of the Anti-MoFo preparations.

    Sounds like you are up to speed in DTWOF-land.

  110. shadocat says:

    sivio–I will miss john Inman too-this is the first I’ve heard of his passing…

    Also wanted to let you know I agree with you about Gloria. She’s just so…bland. To me, she’s about as exciting as a bowl of oatmeal. I always thought they were “drawn together” only because they were both married to workaholics, and, at least in the early days, they were both stuck at home with little children, and they were the only grown-ups around.

    I remember those days well…I was so starved for adult conversation, I onced enticed the female mail carrier to have coffee with me, just so I could have an actual CONVERSATION with an ADULT. Okay, she was about 55 (I was 25)and chain smoked, but if she would’ve made a pass at me, I mighta taken her up on it.

    So maybe Toni will discover she really has nothing in common with Gloria, other tham being a mom. Or perhaps we’ll find out Gloria has a nefarious, dark side…(okay, that’s my wish, but stll…)

  111. shadocat says:

    Oh, I almost forgot! This is completely OT, but dd any of y’all see this?


  112. Pam I says:

    Shadocat – oats are good for the heart…

  113. Laugin, M'seur ... says:

    Oh, how sad about John Inman. Loved that character. His manner was kind of over the top, but didn’t really stand out on a show where all the characters were very broadly drawn.

    The bit of dialogue that popped into my head immediately:

    Captain Peacock: Mr Humphries, are you with us, against us, or a “don’t know”?

    Humphries: I’m a “don’t know”. (With great dignity) But I’m with you.

  114. Silvio Soprani says:

    geogeek! OMYGOSH I must be BLIND! I looked right at those movie titles and did not see! But then, I am not a card player! (I get too restless sitting still that long, I don’t smoke, and don’t tolerate whiskey very well…)

    Shadocat, I cracked up envisioning you sitting down with the hard-case, chain-smoking letter carrier lady!!! ha!(you probably made her day!)

    It reminds me of an interview I once did with an Irish female author. She had written a book about the mother of an IRA member. The author herself had been banned from the BBC (because their policy, as I understood it, was not to broadcast interviews with terrorist supporters–this was the 90s), so she was on a US speaking tour for her book.

    We met in her hotel. She chain-smoked and drank whiskey for the entire two hours of the interview. She was quite a salty character.I felt very naive speaking with her. But it was worth breathing the smoke, I must say.

  115. jmc says:

    The card pun was indeed a stroke of brilliance and subtlety. If she sees the comments, I bet AB’s glad to know that somebody figured it out. My gf’s ability to create long strings and broad swaths of puns was one of the things that first caught my attention about her, and when she gets going I try to do it too, but just can’t keep up. It’s some special associative relationship with language that I totally admire.

    This is off-topic, but pets have been the subject of so many strings and posts… Isn’t it funny when an animal you’ve lived with for years suddenly figures out something new about the house? The dog I’ve had for the last three years, a true scrounger, has just this month figured out that the garbage can is his garden of earthly delights. And this morning is the first time my cat of six years figured out that my desk had a spot by the window that would be a fine perch for her. Love ’em.

  116. shadocat says:

    silvio-I still wondered how that lady walked her route and smoked as much as she did–and when she sat down, she said, “Thanks a million kid, my dogs are barkin’.” A fond memeory…

  117. Jana C.H. says:

    I know smoking causes many ailments, but I’d never heard before that it causes sore feet (or barking dogs).

    Jana C.H.
    Saith Floss Forbes: Maybe her feet hurt.

  118. Silvio Soprani says:


    I don’t know about smokin’, but your last comment got me wheezing (very funny!)

    shado, I have never heard anyone say “My dogs are barkin'” before in regard to their feet…but thinking about it, it makes perfect sense.

    My theory about smokers who accomplish great feats (ouch!) of activity is similar to the way an old car will run, even if you neglect it, AS LONG AS you don’t get it serviced. The minute you take it to the mechanic, then everything starts going wrong. It’s almost as if the gunk in the engine keeps it stuck together.

    I am still sure that you made her day. 🙂

    Laughin’ M’seur, they broadcast “Are You Being Served” here in Baltimore on Saturday nights. Tomorrow night I will toast John Inman with a nice glass of Foster’s Lager and laugh through my tears in his honor. In the news item I read, it said that his partner (also in his 70s, I think) was “devastated.” As one would expect.

  119. Sir Real says:

    Inman gone… thanks for the information. I’m sad. Mr. Humphries was quite a factor in my development as an effeminate drag king/thing! Oddly, or perhaps appropriately, my best friend, a drag queen, prefers Mrs. Slocombe 😉

    I’ve watched and rewatched my foggy, crackly videotapes from public television of AYBS, and found that Humphries’ early character was defiantly and proudly swishy, and definately a sexual entity as well. As the seasons passed, I felt they made him more and more apologetic for his flamingness, _and_ eventually asexual. Sigh. Maybe that reflects the years it ran, 72 – 85.

  120. little gator says:

    shadocat-“the kids named her” is enough excuse for an odd name. Including case where mom said the kids could name her anything they wanted, and they named her Pus.

    And the male Collie named Lassie, though that’s not uncommon, and Lassie was played by male dog actors. With all that fur, who could tell?

    And the Golden whose humans thought Butterscotch was a nice name for, and ended up calling her Butt.

  121. Me again. says:

    Well,you have thrilled me again.

  122. shadocat says:

    lil gator– you crack me up! Pus–really? Imagine calling THAT doggie into the house—you poor thing…the things we go through for these children!

    Pam I–oatmeal may be good for the heart, but soul food tastes soooo much better…

  123. shadocat says:

    Oh–just to clarify–I think reason her “dogs were barkin”, was that she walked her mail route–not that she smoked–although I’m sure smoking didn’t help.

  124. Maggie Jochild says:

    My mother often said her dogs were barkin’ after a day of hanging out clothes, ironing, working at the stove, etc. It was an expression I heard commonly growing up in Texas. Sometimes folks would say “My dogs are howlin'”.

    Shadocat, how great to see Rosie’s Bar and Grill evoked. Are they still playing? During the summer of 1977, I think, I saw them at the first and only Stillwater Oklahoma Women’s Music Festival. That festival emboldened me to go on to Michigan, the second year it happened. (And the rest, as they, is herstory.) I saw RB&G other places, too — must’ve been California. I still have their vinyl LP. They were best known, seems like, for the Ballad of Amelia Earhart, but I bought the album because they had a version of “Cam Ye O’er Frae France” on it, the radical Jacobite song that I fell in love with from hearing Betsy Lippett perform it with her octaves-spanning voice and intense fervor. I still think of that song surprisingly often, in its coded derision of King George — or perhaps, not so surprisingly.

    “Mony a sword and lance swings at Highland hurdie
    How they’ll skip and dance ower the bum of Geordie”

  125. Maggie Jochild says:

    P.S. “Hurdie” in the above is Scots for buttock.

  126. shadocat says:

    The things I learn here! “Hurdie” is now in my forever vocabulary!

    Oh, and I heard today “Rosie’s” is opening for Ann Reed out here next week (those gals all live around here, ya know–one positive thing about my hometown!)

  127. Pam I says:

    Feet are Plates in cockney rhyming slang – from plates of meat. Maybe there’s a tenuous link there, with the middle section missing?

  128. Silvio Soprani says:

    Queen Pam,
    Someday I must study where this practice of Cockney rhyming slang comes from. My only experience of it is in the Rumpole of the Bailey stories of John Mortimer. His “North London criminals” are always explaining their comments to him. Or he is explaining them to one of his long-suffering Judges. (Or actually, I think it is Rumpole who does the suffering..)

    MAGGIE–I remember Betsy Lippett singing that “Came ye over frae France” song! I used to hear her sing in Denver in the mid-70s before the years of the Michigan Festival. I confess I never understood what it was about; I just liked the way she sang it!

    Little Gator, I have a dog-naming story for ya.
    When I lived in Maine, a friend acquired a little beige puppy from a local farmer. “What’s his name?” she asked. “Camel,” the farmer replied.

    We called that dog “Camel” for a about a year, and he was starting to grow up and get a little frisky. Then she ran into the farmer again. She asked him, “Why did you name the dog ‘Camel?’ Is it because he likes to hump?”

    The farmer replied (with his Maine accent), “No, it’s because he’s the color of caah’mel candy.”

  129. LondonBoy says:

    Re: “My dogs are barking”
    This link purports to provide an explanation:
    I’m not sure, as I’ve never heard the phrase – rhyming slang changes fast, and relies on shared experience to be comprehensible, so it’s difficult to learn from books or translate from era to era. I’ve heard of “plates (of meat)” for feet, but I’ve also heard “plates (of chips)” for Japanese people and “lions (of Longleat)” for feet, so who knows ? Part of the reason for using rhyming slang is specifically to exclude outsiders, or to entertain ( “dirt grifter” for gay, just because of the rhyme ( “shirt-lifter” ) ). In my experience rhyming slang is used more as word-play than as true slang ( with certain noble exceptions hallowed by long usage, e.g. “take a butcher’s (hook)” for “take a look” ).

    In a way the exclusionary aspect of cockney slang has something in common with Polari/Parlare ( there is no uniform spelling ), which is just a “vaya to let omi-paloni chavas spill without beryl or the naves getting a glimmer” ( way for gay guys to gossip without the police or other uninitiated people understanding ).

  130. Maggie Jochild says:

    Well, then, the question for me is how did rhyming slang (or any Cockney language) come to be commonly used in the very rural parts of the Red River Valley, along the Texas-Okie border, by people who were mostly descended from immigrants arriving from the Ozarks or Middle Tennessee for generations? (And heavily Scots, with some German.) I mean, that’s one for the linguists.

    Thanks for the link, Londonboy. Working people’s slang to weed out the upper classes or strangers is ancient, I think. When I lived in San Francisco, I used to love to drive up to Boonville where between the World Wars, the young people of that isolated region created their own language called Boontling. One cafe in town, The Horn of Zeese (which was Boontling for a cup of coffee) was frequented by now old geezers who still spoke Boontling, mostly for the entertainment of tourists — but in their day, it had been a way to shut out their parents.

    In the mid 1960s, before TV had done heavy damage to the thick regional accents of rural folk in the US, a radio show broadcasting from San Antonio would once a month feature a man who was an expert on the accents of Texas. You could call in and talk with him for just a minute, no more, and then he’d tell you what Texas county you grew up in and, often, where your parents were from.

    If you want to see brilliant coding in action (language which, if it had been understood by the ruling English, would have resulted in death for the singer), check out the lyrics to Cam Ye Oer Frae France — this website has them accurately along with some explanations. It refers to this song as ribald, which is an understatement — the site doesn’t translate some of the more graphlic terms, although I remember Betsy Lippett doing so for us, much to my enjoyment. http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk/song-midis/Cam_Ye_Oer_Frae_France.htm (There’s also a MIDI in QuickTime)

  131. little gator says:

    Yes, I really did know a dog named Pus, whose owner swore she would never again let her kids name anything “whatever they wanted”

    BUt then, my first cat was Eeaoo(pronounce as 3 syllable Ee-yah-oo) Its was a an attmept to imitate her kittenish meow.

    BUt we usually called her Eecat, Miss E. or even Ee.

    At one point we had a dog named Rikki(I didn’t care about the spelling but Mr Gator did. I’d have spelt it Ricky myself) Like many Coonhounds he was loud and noisy, and we were always yelling at him to shut up.

    Two houses over was a very nasty family who didn’t talk to us. When he(the kid) was about 5, we learned their youngest kid was called Ricky and all that time he thought we were yelling at him.

    another dog, my heartdog Sara, got her name mutated to Saran Wrap. we explained it was beacuse she was clingy and transparent and like to wrap herself around food.

  132. Ianscot says:

    There’s nothing like the vaguely authoritarian, dehumanizing atmosphere of someplace like a “big box” retailer to wrench a few pangs of emotion out of me. This strip really caught how that happens. The joke-y bits were funny, and you tell yourself those things as a way of letting off the pressure a bit. It catches up to you, though, sometimes. The thing to do is look for something poignant to concentrate on, usually, for me. Some detail. Alison can catch those a bit.

    Next time, let’s see someone shopping in the Home Despot.

  133. little gator says:

    Home Despot? I always wanted to name a sex toy shop Cervix Merchandise.

  134. Maggie Jochild says:

    Home Despot: You can do it. We can help.

    (Motto of the Republican Party.)

  135. --MC says:

    Who knows, Maggie, but that maybe the rhyming slang of England was transported to the Ozarks by some means or other?
    I was just watching Richard Thompson’s “1000 Years of Popular Music” (from “Llude Sing Cucu” to “Oops I Did It Again”), and in introducing “King Henry”, a song about Henry V, he notes that the song was collected in the Appalachian Mountains in the 1930s .. a lot of old English ballads wound up in the mountains, for some reason.

  136. cybercita says:

    my kitty is named henri IV. it was either that or louis XIV, but one of my friends was just about to marry a man named louie and it was too confusing.

    if you say the numbers in french, you’ll get the joke.

  137. cybercita says:

    cervix merchandise? haha! i was just thinking about a product line for female dogs who are expecting… pregnant paws.

  138. Silvio Soprani says:


    Quatre…Quatorze…Ha! (Thanks for the user-friendly joke!)

    Change of subject: Spring Comes to Baltimore. Took nice Sunday morning walk to the park this morning and saw…CROCUSES!!! Yippee!

  139. little gator says:

    They do make panties for canines in heat called Bitches Britches. You can buy special pads for them or just use human-type menstrual pads.

  140. TF says:


    Why would domestic contentment and commitment be incompatible with public political action and conviction? Why would married people be by definition apolitical? Why can we not redefine the institution?

    On a separate note, I used to work with someone called Yoni. It was short for Yonatan. I suspect he didn’t know what it meant.

    A left handed, left winged (married) lesbian.

  141. Pam I says:

    Once upon a time there were three cats. Being in France/ Canada, they were called, Un, Deux & Trois. One day they went sailing (in a beautiful pea-green boat) but the boat hit a rock. And Un, Deux, Trois, Quatre, Cinq….

    My last cat was called Next. We had feral backyard kittens. To avoid getting involved with the expanding families out there, I’d named them in the order they came to get the bribery food that let me catch them to get them neutered – First, Next, Third, Fourth, Fifth and Runt. Next decided indoors was a better bet. She never did reveal her proper name, in sixteen years. Two litters later, I managed to catch their mother Orville and I felt like The Old Man and the Sea, with the whirling spitting furious dervish in a box with just a piece of string keeping those claws off me. No more litters.

    Orville had a brother Babs, that we discovered must have been a transexual lesbian. Babs had been named by our neighbour, as s/he was deeply involved in childcare, which tomcats just don’t do. S/he went into that box, off to the vet with us thinking we were up for the extra cost of spaying a female. Returned by slightly bemused vet charging half the price and querying the name. Turned out Babs had been Bobs all along. But then, post-op, proceeded to try humping all the female kittens. Ho hum.

  142. Doctor E says:

    A lot of appalachian music is derived from centuries old Scotch/Irish music. They brought it over, and settled in such isolated locales that the traditions survived unchanged into the early 20th century.

    The appalachian fiddle breakdown “Red Haired Lad” is identical to the Irish drinking song “Little Beggar Man.”

  143. Sir Real says:

    BTW, I’ve read that the reason Lassie was played by male dogs is that female collies shed every four months, and males shed only once annually. To keep a shooting schedule while avoiding the star looking mangey, they went with boys.

    I got to name some kittens when I was 6 or so… of course the only male ended up as “Pussy Wussy”. (I’m pretty proud of my parents!)

  144. silvio soprani says:

    Queen Pam,

    I have added your Un,Deux, Trois joke to my (miniscule) repetoire of jokes I can remember.(I lack the joke gene.)

    My best is the one about Monsieur Rene Descartes, who ordered dinner in a fine French cafe. [This is the short version because I ought to be correcting papers…] Finally, after many pleasant exchanges with the Garcon (in which Descartes always replied, “Oui,” the waiter asked, “Would Monsieur like some dessert?” And M. Descartes replied, (in French), “I think not.” With that, he suddenly disappeared.

    [Colino, if you are listening, forgive my laziness in not switching back and forth to M.S. WORD to cut and paste a cedille for the “Garcon” and the accent grave for “Rene.”]

  145. --MC says:

    There was a famous case where a philosophy professor at some large college was busted for spending too much time at the racetrack betting on the ponies.
    He was guilty of putting the horse before Descartes.

  146. Duncan says:

    Maggie J: “Home Despot: You can do it. We can help.”

    Well, I’d suggest something along the lines of:

    “You WILL do it. We WILL help.”

    I agree with those who want to see the evil (pronounced in the British way, with the “i” clear and unslurred) McLaughlin-Farkases developed, rather than merely demonized. If I’m willing to recognize my common humanity with the straight religious right, I’m willing to do with the gay religious right as well. To understand all is *not* to forgive all, however, and religious bigotry doesn’t stop being religious bigotry when it’s practiced by queers.

    Someone else pointed out that Toni and Clarice are married, at least in principle, and so Toni’s fling with Gloria *was* adulterous. Well, yeah: even if they’d never signed pieces of paper or exchanged vows, and were ‘merely’ steady lovers of twenty-plus years’ duration, cheating is cheating, and neither Toni nor Gloria ever seemed unaware that they were busting boundaries in a big way. (This is another reason I, like Maggie, am wary of the whole marriage thing: it’s as if the breach of trust once you’ve got a government license is somehow graver, or anyhow different, than if you’ve merely committed to each other verbally and in private. I don’t see the State as necessarily my friend, which is another reason why I strongly distrust people who want to give the State the power to intervene in matters of “hate speech” and the like.)

  147. silvio soprani says:

    The British “i” you refer to is “unreduced.” (I guess that makes it “phat.” )

    Remember how Angela Lansbury pronounced it in THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE? Scary!

  148. Annie Leslie says:

    First-time poster. This is totally off-topic, but the strip that I can still cry over far too easily is the one where Ginger had the vet come over and end Digger’s suffering.

    Well, friends had that happen with their 16-year-old dog on the weekend – the vet did come, and she had known him all his life – he was the last of his litter, and she (vet) had found him his home with them. Anyway, I’m looking for the Internet comment floating around about how pets will be waiting for us – something about a Rainbow Bridge? If anyone has a copy, or a link, I’d like to send it to my friends. We said goodbye to him our last visis, two weeks ago, and we knew we wouldn’t see him again. So I’d like to read that for myself, as well.

    Sorry for any remaining typos!

  149. little gator says:

    Annie Leslie-


    For me, the most important benefit of marriage or whatever else a legal union may be called is the right to speak for each other in emergencies, especially if one of you is medically unable to decide anything.

    The worst discrimination I’ve seen to unmarried is denying someone a partner’s rights when their other is sick, or worse, recently died. I’ve seen someone lose everything they jointly owned because it legally belonged to the partner, whose family grabbed everything.

    Marriage isn’t the only way to deal with this, but it’s one way. If you are commited but not legeally, it’s a very good idea to have your will made out so things go the way you want them to, not that way the laws deal them out.

    If an unmarried childless person’s dies without a will, that parents usually get everything. Or siblings if the parents are no longer around. This is only ok if you have decided it’s ok.

  150. Annie Leslie says:

    little gator, thanks. I’ve passed that along to my friends. I’ve also bookmarked it for mtself, even though I hope there is no need to use it for a long time – but we have a dog who is 8, a big beast – and a cat who is 15 or so – used to live with relatives until they had to move into assisted living. Their names are too boring to bother listing – came with them.

    I never name an animal until I get to know it, but I’d love to have a big dog to fit the name “Freeboard” – the kind that wants to stick his head out of the car window all the time.

  151. ManFan says:

    Maggie: I think you’re missing the forest for the trees. (You know the answer, but don’t realize it, or at least you have all the info you need to realize it, but sometimes the fact that it is too obvious prevents us from answering our own question. 😉

    As you stated, there is a connection betwee the Red River Oklahoma/Texas regions, Ozarks Etc. and Appalachia

    From the moment we took over the Louisiana Territory from the French in 1803, Appalachian folk (the hillbillies more precisely) started trickling there and everywhere. Sometimes they were assimilated, but if the place was somewhat remote, they were not. The Red River region would have been considered remote due to it remaining a territory long after the states around were created.

    Appalacian folk are often direct decendents of the various people living the English Isles, and they were some of the first white people here.

    Many of the hillbillies have their origins in escaped white slaves or as we prefer to call them “indentured servants.” Indentured, because they supposedly were free once they worked off their debt, but as we know sometimes people don’t keep their word.

    This lack of sincerity on the part of the debt holders caused many an I.S. to run away permanently. The best place to go was Kentucky, Tennessee where the Natives were still around to help them survive and remote enough to make being recaptured impossible.

    That didn’t mean they lost touch with relatives in the English Isles.

    As the waves of immigrants from Europes started to come, hillbillies invited their increasingly distant kinfolk in the UK to come too.

    . This kept up and they was a regular stream of immigrants from the Isles up until WWI or so.

    As a anecdotal example, a friend’s mother was straight from a neighborhood near the neighborhood where the Cockneys come from.

    In a more salient example. Former Pres. Clinton had traceable relatives in the UK, thanks to esearch done by UK genealogists. While they always search out the “royal connection” his connection no doubt came from the poor and destitute Englishpeople who made up the bulk of early colonialists.

    English i think is still the #1 component of the American racial/ethnic/cultural makeup.

    Germans and Irish are behind, Native American and Spanish then I’m sure African (no specific – and the skin color is absolutely irrelevant).

    Most every American can be described as a mix of one or more of those.

    The other European nationalities are far less common, but I digress.

    All other immigration waves, modified it sometimes a lot, sometimes a little, but the essential “English” core has persevered. Because of that, many “English” aspects of American sub-cultures are far more in evidence than those rooted in other European nations.

    That’s why centuries later and generations removed you’ll find Cockney rhymes on the Texas/Oklahoma border.

    While it is probably a more recent arrival. It was undoubtedly drawn by the brethren who fist settled in Appalachia.

    As the West was conquered, some planted their butts there, and like all people in the world everywhere, maintained certain traditions very effectively. So much so, that one could very logically assume to see such behavior there means there was some effort or obvious connection to explain it, when there isn’t really, other than the fact that English presence in the USA is so strong, it can maintain such things, even when the the why, how come Etc. has been lost for ages.

  152. Maggie Jochild says:

    Hey, ManFan — I actually know more than you’re assuming I do. I am a dedicated genealogist who can trace most lines of my family back to Europe, so I DO know the places of origin for the folks in the Red River Valley who were using what turns out to be rhyming slang. And they were never anywhere near the East End of London.

    The number one European ethnicity in the U.S. is German, by a large percentage. You can only get “English” as a large category if you subsume diverse ethnicities like Scots, Irish, Welsh, Manx, Briton, etc. under the English label, which my ancestors frankly immigrated rather than endure. My ancestry, and in particular those to whom I was referring, were Scots. As were most Appalachians. The “Elizabethan” myth of Appalachian background has I think been thoroughly debunked — most Appalachian culture has its roots in the Scots who were forcibly related to Ireland and then, a few hundred years later, leapt at the chance to come to America without the benefit of land grants or any other means of support. Yes, one out of every five early European American was an indentured servant, and this was often true of the Scots. And they tended to abandon their indenture as soon as they were able, retreating into the hills to make it as best they could — a very Scots thing to do.

    This is in distinct contrast, by the way, with the immigrants who came to New England and then Ohio Territory, who were not so likely to come from Scotland.

    But, as far as I can tell from the origins and history of Cockney rhyming slang, the ancestors of my folks in Sharp Co., Arkansas would never have had contact with those in London and its environs who where speaking such language. And they were not being supplemented by new immigrants — the census records would show this. Definitely by the mid 1850s, when a wave of immigrants from England apparently brought rhyming slang to some parts of the U.S., my ancestors were in established Ozarkian communities where, believe me, I can name the background and period of immigration for every individual in a county where my ancestors lived. I’ve researched it that intensively. I’ve also studied the language usage of this group of ancestors, because it’s a great clue to origins, and this is the first non-Scots or Irish or Native phraseology I’ve ever encountered. I’m not talking in generics. I’m talking about a specific group of people moving from one distinct Ozarks enclave to another isolated Red River community.

    So when I say it’s a question for the linguists, I meant it — it’s an anomaly that doesn’t fit 30 years of careful investigation on my part.

  153. Pam I says:

    Wow, does this mean my one line about feet being plates will be part of someone’s PhD one day?

  154. Pam I says:

    Oh and ManFan, if you carry on calling the British Isles the English Isles you could have problems visiting the Orkneys, or Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.

  155. Tabby says:

    Autumn was a junkyard cat. She ran to us when we came for parts, and when we took her in for her surgery (spay), well, she somehow never made it back to the junkyard. Winter came, and the long withering process was completed. Spring came, and the wind blew fresh, and the withered shell that had once been lived in by a cool guy blew away too – off to his own apartment to pretend he was still a frat boy. And the children and their mother breathed deeply of the lovely clean air! Summer came, and the children swam and someone dropped off kittens at the pool. So Twilight & Mr Kitten (MrK, now he’s older) came to stay with us. And another year came and there were Belle & Lacey, two Scottish fold sisters, who needed a place. And the summer came, and Tiger came, too. Just walked down the street one day. He seemed to know exactly where he was going. The mother and the kids trapped cats from the junkyard and got them shots and surgery and turned them loose, and made sure they had food. But one of them was so terrified that he shredded the pads of his hands on the bars of the carrier. So the mother told him he could stay till he got better. And, of course, Morphie knew he was home. And the fall came, and soccer, and someone left kittens at the soccer field. And the mother told the children “We have all the cats we can take care of. We must find other homes for these kittens.” But Wookie and Minerva laughed at the mother, for they knew they were home. And some children were poking little Padme with sticks, but when one of the children picked her up, she curled in his arms and purred. Teddy came to the farm and fought with the cats there. The people at the farm are kind to cats, but too much is too much, so he was taken miles away to the dump. But he came back to the farm, perhaps the kindest place he’d ever known. But he couldn’t stay, because he fought with the cats there. So he came with the mother to be “the outside kitty”. He fought cats outside, too. But when the mother and one of the boys doctored his injuries, somehow he ended up inside, too. And he did not fight with the cats inside. And Teddy was home. And another year passed, and the family moved to a bigger house in the country (there were lots of children and not so many rooms or bathrooms in the city house). And in the summer, mamma cat came from nowhere, carrying her kittens and hiding them under the house. And the mother said “We must place these kittens” But mamma cat must have dropped Capt’n Jack Sparrow on his head, and he walks like, well, like a pirate. And Celeste is black with white toes and white whiskers, and they know that they are home, too.
    I think they have names already, when they come to you. Some of them will tell you right away, and some of them keep their secrets until they are ready for you to know their names. Perhaps the ones you think you have chosen names for have really chosen you. And sometime, when you think you really can’t have a pet, they’ll find you.

  156. markmaker says:

    OKay, I’m waaay behind on my reply here, but I’ve been away for a bit.

    This is in response to Payton’s long lost comment about how gross and narcissistic it is when couples are too close to the same, termed “twinning” by another poster later….

    uh… HOMO-phobic much? There was a long stretch of time when butch-femme couples were picked on for mimicking straight relationships. Clearly we’ve come to understand that there is much more depth to that dynamic than that. Isn’t it possible there’s more to homo-sexuals than mere narcissism?

    One quick for instance and then I’m done: what if, by some odd chance, our personalities ebb and flow over time, and in this ebb and flow our gender conception and presentation varies too… wouldn’t any given couple, over a long stretch of time, find themselves more alike and then less alike and then more, and then less….

  157. Arte es Vida says:

    Tabby, that was beautiful, and moving.-

  158. Tabby says:


  159. Annie Leslie says:

    I agree about animals having their own names – even those we have inherited with names already attached have generated a string of their own unique nicknames. T.S. Eliot was right!

    Also re names – if anyone else follows Coronation Street, the pub in the series (Rover’s Return, or just the Rovers) is of course the centre of the community. And 3 of the barmaids there have been named Bet, Betty and Liz! Plus ça change!

    Bet was the one who was notorious for wearing leopard patterns on everything, and Betty (now that I think about it, the actor’s name is also Betty! Driver) is still in the cast, and still playing a barmaid, at well over 80.

  160. Travis Johnson says: