DTWOF episode #507

April 4th, 2007 | Uncategorized

I’ve gotten all cattywompus with the strips. This is the episode I was desperately trying to finish before my vacation began on March 21… But despite a valiant effort, which entailed a long bus trip in Albuquerque to obtain art supplies, I didn’t get it done before my vacation began–I sent out an “archive” episode to the newspapers instead. Then after my trip, I came down with an awful virus that knocked me out of commission for a week, and I only recovered today. So I finally inked the strip and here it is. It was meant to run this week, 4/4, but I’m dating it 4/18 , because of having sent out an archive episode to the papers, which is really too complicated to explain, but the point is I’ll just post this early.dtwof 507

135 Responses to “DTWOF episode #507”

  1. Ellen Orleans says:

    The tension builds….

    Nice observations on the complexities of supporting troops, protesting war, and all the shifting ground around it.

  2. Josiah says:

    I have nothing to say except that the word “cattywompus” made me smile.

  3. Anna says:

    Ack. Typo alert!!! “Conerence” should be “conference”.

    Nice episode, though. Sydney needed a bit of a smackdown from someone.

  4. Ellen Orleans says:

    Oh my God! The Realtor is Liz of Liz and Beth! I knew she looked familiar. Really sticky now…

  5. Deena in OR says:


    Sorry about the virus. Hope you’re beginning to feel human again.

  6. Josiah says:

    OK, I lied — I can’t help commenting on the fact that the realtor (sorry, Realtor®) selling the house is Liz McLaughlin-Farkas. Methinks a storyline collision is coming!

  7. Jana C.H. says:

    Note to Seattle-area fans: Geogeek and I are meeting tomorrow at the Floating Leaves Tea House in Ballard at 7:00. Here’s their website, where you can link to a map: http://floatingleaves.com/

    We can discuss the new strip! And in honor of AB’s travel adventures, bring an interesting travel book. I can’t decide between Thor Heyerdahl and Winston S. Churchill III. (Winston III was in the news lately, criticizing the Iraq War.)

    Back-up location is Mr. Spots Chai House. Look in the right-hand column of their website for a map. http://www.chaihouse.com/

    See you there! I’ll wear a– I dunno, which hat should I wear? Well, I’ll wear a hat. You’ll notice it.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith James Boswell: Gentle herb! Let the florid grape yield to thee. Thy soft influence is a more safe inspirer of social joy.

  8. Sheila says:

    Maybe Sydney’s baleful look is a reaction to the typo.

  9. payton says:

    Oooh! Symmetry!

  10. Nora says:

    I always thought “cattywompus” was a word my family made up. Huh.

  11. Arte es Vida says:

    From Random House Unabridged Dictionary:
    catawampus or cattywampus: adjective
    1. askew; awry.
    2. positioned diagonally; cater-cornered.
    –adverb 3. diagonally; obliquely: We took a shortcut and walked catawampus across the field.

    Chiefly Midland and Southern U.S.
    [Origin: 1830–40 for earlier sense “utterly”; cata- diagonally (see cater- cornered) + -wampus, perh. akin to wampish]

  12. shadocat says:

    Anna: I’m betting that Sydney’s headed for SOME kind of a smackdown. The question is what kind? And from whom?

    I do think it would be cool if Samia and Ginger moved next to Mo and Sydney—think of the plot twists and turns!!

  13. Cyan says:

    Nice work, as usual, Alison.

    On unrelated note, this place probably needs a messageboard, not a blogger. I think the realtime comments and conversations outgrew the purpose of the blogger. It’s great to see that many online friendships have grown around Alison’s work, but it’s a bit tedious to paddle through all the ephemera to get to the stuff that really matters, i.e. illustration work.

    The ancient Greeks used to say something along the lines of ‘he who sees everything is blind’, meaning that some format or criteria needs to exist to extract some lasting meaning from the surrounding noise, no matter how flattering the noise may be.

  14. Happy Pappy says:

    I thought this was a message board. 🙁

  15. Cyan says:

    Happy Pappy – I guess it’s fast becoming one. Comments related to DTWOF and Fun Home aside, it looks more like a member-moderated queer chat board, which is fine, even if it does have a slight groupie undertone.

    The joys of the instant communication, huh. 😉

  16. Pam I says:

    Cyan, if you just want the strips you can go through the Strip Archive. This blog is part of my morning check-in. I wouldn’t go to a message board in the same way (but then I’ve never looked). It’s the randomness that works, from painful political discourse to utter sillyness. It’s up to AB to kill it or leave it but her occasional comments make me think she is as intrigued by it as I am. And the “community” has somehow become reified. A soap within a soap?

  17. LondonBoy says:

    Lots of scope for plot turns developing here. Imagine the possibilities of them living next door to each other…

    And… Of course he’s just a bit player, but it’s nice to see a cute guy in the strip ( panel 3 ) !

  18. Troy NY says:

    Brilliant to make Liz F-M a realtor, a profession noted for being mostly concerned with monetary values and surface perceptions over human needs and individual expression (admittedly a stereotype, but nevertheless).

  19. Annie>Anna and Shadocat says:

    Yup, Sydney was in desperate need of a smackdown… but the one who was hiding a “torbit secret” was Ginger.

    I found the whole excghange between the two just perfect!

  20. Alpine Joy says:

    Dear Alison,

    Wow, you get so many responses, and you don’t have personal email, I wonder if I’ll even reach you. I just wanted to say thank you in general, and for your work on DTWOF # 505, which I just read, late, in Funny Times newspaper.

    I like reading each panel with a magnifying glass, as I’m sure many other readers do to.


    Your straight stalker,
    in Washington, D.C.

  21. little gator says:

    This bodes ill.

  22. Aunt Soozie says:

    Oh Alison,
    I know I keep threatening it but…
    had I known I definitely would have FedEx’ed some vegetarian chicken soup with matzo balls…this being Peseach and all…maybe I’ll send you some frozen solid as a Grandmotherly rock and you can keep it in your freezer for just such emergencies…getting stuck on a cold mountain or boldly dumping snow from your roof onto your person or post travel and vacation illnesses…hmmmm…I’ll talk to Liza and see if she can persuade Alix to send you a CD of yiddish lullabies and then you’ll be good to go…anytime you need a Jewish mama…I don’t know how to attend to the guilt and nagging…but, I suspect you can handle those aspects without any outside interference.

    Seriously, I do hope that you are feeling much better and that you enjoyed New Mexico…that bright clean clear sunshine. That light, the mountains, the wide open sky, it’s like no place else I’ve ever seen. While driving there we saw a, hmmm, I wanna say “dirt devil” but that’s a brand of vacuum cleaner…dust devil? A little quick mini tornado thing…that was exciting.

    Lots of fun unfolding above. Speaking of guilt I liked Sydney’s facial expressions and even her hug and “Hi Sweetie” seemed painfully guilt ridden.

    Cattywampus. My paramour or my Southern Luhvah uses that word. It’s a good one. and Smackdown! Now that’s a word…that would be a fun episode…
    hmmmm…did you do that one already?

    Yes, look only at the strips if you prefer.
    Skim away.
    That reminds me of a few of my peers in gradschool, women who were returning to school after many years away from academia. They were nervous Nellies, prodded our professors till they confessed that we truly could not read EVERYTHING that was assigned for every class. And then these ladies tried to get the professors to TELL them WHAT to read! OY VAY!

    FREE WILL I say!
    by all means…pick and choose what you want to view with a magnifying glass, soak in and savor or scroll by with nary a glance.

    There will not be a test.
    Well, okay there will but you won’t be graded.

    In closing, be well Bechdel and thanks for posting this early for us.

  23. louise says:

    I’m liking J.R.’s expression when she’s regarding Sydney in the second to the last panel. To me it reads one part “Yes, I know I’m a badass” and one part “I’m a good judge of character and have deduced that you’re a sleazebag”. I’ve seen the exact same expression in paparazzi photos of Maddox Jolie-Pitt.

    Cyan: Wow, you should really design your own message board!

  24. Tom says:

    Alison, thank you – great strip, love it as always. I hope you enjoyed ABQ, my hometown, and that you’re feeling much better. Did you spot any tumbleweeds? I miss them almost as much as the sky and mountains. Not exactly the season for them, though.

    Cyan, et al.,

    A message board is a nice idea — it would require lots of admin time and probably a few volunteer moderators; and possibly an upgrade in server resources. It’s worth thinking about – and more people might participate in conversations, if they were given that kind of structure by topic and category.

    On the other hand, I like the blog because I subscribe to the RSS feed, which sends me a notice when a new (main) entry is posted, and I’m not sure a message board can do that necessarily – although the volume on the blog does get overwhelming sometimes.

    Maybe a message board can be started that isn’t designed to replace the blog, but to catch some of the overflow? Just a thought.

  25. JK says:

    Aunt Soozie, you’re hilarious!

    Sometimes it’s hard to wade through all the lines of conversation, especially when the # post starts to exceed 100… but I’d still rather wade through the mix then have them all separated out.

    Really funny strip.

  26. Unaffiliated Dyke says:

    Message Board Discussion

    Check out the FAQ section of this blog to read what Alison has to say about threading comments.

    Skimming is always an option as is writing your own subject line.

  27. Jaibe says:

    No one’s talking about all the outing subtexts. Didn’t Sydney know the house buying thing is secret? Is Ginger going to out her? Or does Mo know? We’ve been fooled before…

  28. shadocat says:

    I for one, say don’t change the blog. Based on my experience of the past year, I would say that most of us who post here on a regular basis feel this way. If one just wants to read the strip, then just read the strip.

    Jaibe you are correct. And didn’t Ginger and Sydney have a discussion about Ginger and Samia looking at houses, and how Ginger hadn’t told the housemates yet? Or am I just imagining that? Will have to check the archives…

    And yes, we HAVE been fooled before; it’s possible that Mo knows all about the Madeline stuff, but it’s hard to imagine her being totally okay with that. Still, stranger things have happened…

  29. shadocat says:

    HA! I was right about our gal Syd—check out #503. Also, seems like she can anthroporphize with the rest of us, when it suits her. Oh Sydney, you little rat…

  30. Feminista says:

    Ah,the plot thickens. And what will happen to Amir? Will he *gasp* take Ginger’s place in the collective household and take sensitive man lessons from Stewart? Stranger things have happened.

  31. for scorn or pity says:

    Alpine Joy, when it comes to D.C. stalkers, sometimes the only way to settle your situation is to take cues from Barry Egan in “Punch Drunk Love,” and say, “that’s that.”

  32. DeLand DeLakes says:


    Caddywompus!?!?! I used to think that my mother was the only person in the world who said that!!! Glad to hear it’s alive and well. 🙂
    BTW, I thought you might like to know this. Recently, while in a cloud of pot smoke, my S.O. and I got into an argument about whether or not Johnny Cash ever did speedballs, so we went to Wikipedia to settle the matter. There we discovered a picture of the Man in Black discussing the issue of prison conditions on TV with Richard Nixon. While we were marveling over the fact that there was ever a time where celebrities cared enough about any topical issue to debate it with the president on live TV, I wondered aloud, “What pop-culture figure would be intelligent and articulate enough to take the president to task now?” Then we both said in one breath: “Alison Bechdel”. Bechdel for Ambassador to the heart of Freaky Conservative U.S.A!

  33. little gator says:

    I have to defend real estate agents. Yes, many of them are as bad as you hear, and I could tell a few stories about that.

    But more importantly, we had a wonderful experience with our buyer’s agent Joe when we bought our home. He spent over a year with us, not just showing houses, but learning exactly what we were looking for, even when we hadn’t figured it out ourselves. He educated us on all kinds of things related to real estate, and gently and kindly talked us out of unrealistic goals.

    One morning he called us and said “I think I found your house. It will sell fast so let’s see it today. ”

    We did, Joe was right, and we ended up buying it. It wasn’t a perfect match but it came closer than I’d thought possible. And he was right-it did sell to one of the three offers they got the first day. One reason the sellers chose us was because Joe had advised us to have a loan pre-approved and we had. The other two bidders hadn’t.

    The other folks at Joe’s office were equally competent and nice, but didn’t know us well enough to be as useful as he was.

    Seven years later, we still call him for a reference if we need home repairs, an exterminator, or anything like that.

    He can’t be the only one. May you all find realtors as wonderful as Joe when you need them.

  34. --MC says:

    I’m sure Mr. Cash, God bless him and sit him at Hir right hand, did his speedball back in the day. All the old country singers used to get wired to the teeth. I’m recalling the story of one old boy who was playing a county fair show and, after his first song, started talking like Donald Duck. This was amusing to the crowd — but he wouldn’t stop, and kept on, even singing his songs in the duck voice. The crowd wept.
    Alison would be a great Ambassador of Sense to the President — I couldn’t do it — the temptation to grab him by the lapels and yell into his face is too much —

  35. Jana C.H. says:

    I figure Sydney was all wrapped up in her wild memories of infidelity and– whoops, here’s Mo!– that she simply forgot that Ginger’s house-hunting was supposed to be a secret. I’m no Sydney-hater but there’s no denying she’s quite self-centered.

    Another subtle point: Look at Samia when she says, “It needs a lot of work,” and pushes Liz off to look at the back yard. She either (1) expects an explosion because Stuart is about to find out, or (2) thinks, “Oh no, I thought I was prying Ginger loose from her ever-present pals, and this house is next door to two more of them,” or (3) both.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith Arthur Pinero: Where there is tea there is hope.

  36. shadocat says:

    BTW–just to clarify-this “shadocat is NOT affiliated with any other shadocats as in,”—- and shadocat.”

    Just particular about my screen name….

  37. shadocat says:

    but apparently not about my typos…

  38. Suzanonymous says:

    Sorry to hear you’ve been sick, Alison. 🙁

    I like the background detail of the guy climbing the buffalo statue. I laughed in recognition of the name of the realtor. I love that. Also great facial expressions/reactions, as others have pointed out.

    Though I dare say, couldn’t the real estate agency have been renamed? At first I hoped it said ReLax, but no.. 🙂 Oh well.

  39. Berkeley Expat says:

    little gator: What bodes ill? That Alison has a stalker or that the stalker is straight? I only ask because I’m a new convert to DTWOF, have spent the last couple of weeks hunting for copies of every DTWOF book in existence, read each new one cover-to-cover on the day it appears in my mail, etc. (Out of sequence, but I can’t help myself.)
    Unfortunately, though I looked into the matter pretty
    seriously in grad school, I’m straight. Does that
    mean I shouldn’t participate in this on-line community?
    (Don’t ask me why, but I’ve always gravitated towards the lesbian community, where ever I’ve lived. Is there a term for women like me? Sort of the dyke-equivalent of ‘fag hag?’ I’m sure someone is thinking, ‘closeted,’ but that
    wouldn’t be the case, here.))

  40. Feminista says:

    Berkeley Expat–don’t worry,there are other hetero folks here,like me,and everyone is welcome. This group is very erudite & witty,and sometimes just plain silly.

  41. little gator says:

    Berkeley Expat-“this bodes ill” is an injoke here, though I meant it to refer to what was going on in the comic.

    I’m straight too, but no one’s bothered me about it.

    I’d like to be a dyke, except that I’m not sexually attracted to women. I’m a woman married to a straight man. He might make an exception if Cary Grant was still alive, but don’t tell him I said so.

    We here are erudite, witty, silly, and I’ve heard we’re chubby and infatuated.

  42. xckb13 says:

    Sydney does have her pet “distraction theory,” which she has used before to throw Mo for a loop: when confronted by Mo about her credit card debt (sometime in Post-DTWOF, I think), she puts a quick end to the conversation by suddenly pretending to admit to dalliances with that skeevy grad student of hers (Olivia?).

    That said, I don’t think she’s being that cruel or manipulative in this situation. I agree with Jana that she’s just awesomely self-centered and trying to get away from Ginger’s disappointment with her over l’affaire de la not-so-petite Madeleine by faking jolly chit-chat about house-hunting, a topic that she is too flustered to remember is not a neutral one for Ginger.

  43. Berkeley Expat says:

    Sydney’s test of Mo’s “distraction theory” appears on page 47 of “Split Level,” e.g. the “Divert and Conquer” episode….

  44. xckb13 says:

    See? Who wouldn’t love a great reference librarian? Thanks, Berkeley Expat!

    I only have ONE DTWOF book with me at the moment, I situation that I plan to remedy the next time I move.

  45. Doctor E says:

    I’m not only straight, but male, and no one seems to care. A healthy society concentrates on similarites rather than differences.

    There’s an awful lot of Outing going on in this strip:
    Ashley outing Cynthia as a right-wing operative, Sydney outing Ginger on her plans, Ginger showing signs of outing Sydney’s infidelity, and who knows what Liz is going to make of this? I think Sydney knows exactly what she’s doing as she spreads chaos to obscure her own misdeeds. I liked the Christian “cute guy” being concerned with mistreatment of prisoners. There’s so much demonizing of Christians going on, and that’s just as silly as demonizing feminists.

    The whole Outing concept is interesting to me. All the gay people I’m close to in the meat zone are out, and always have been. None of my close firneds have an ugly coming out story. Coming out as a rite of passage is slowly disappearing, and I hope it will be gone in another generation. This is a good thing.

    Coming out takes many forms. A couple I used to play Dungeons and Dragons with in college were faced with a dilemma a few years ago. They couldn’t invite their friends and coworkers to the same Christmas party, because that would have meant coming out as Dungeons and Dragons players to the Law Firm. This seemed like a big crisis to them at the time. They got over it.

    On another of the many subjects weaving through this thread; I’m also a former librarian. It was 25 years ago, but I helped people find the facts they wanted and the ficions they needed. Time well spent.

  46. Hilary says:

    Thank you for making a Christian character who wants to do something besides bash queers/oppress women/fight against evolution, etc. Some of us really DO think, “What would Jesus do?”

  47. Rebl says:

    I’m dying to know where you bought art supplies in Albuquerque, because I used to work at Langell’s.

  48. Viceroy says:

    LondonBoy, you commented on the cute guy in frame 3 (“just a bit player.”) You never know … as yet another straight reader going through the books to catch up (backwards — I have read the last three in reverse order), I was stunned to see Jasmine appear in two of the strips in Post Dykes to Watch Out For (Book 9), but she doesn’t meet Ginger and Lois until Dykes and Sundry Other Carbon-Based Life-Forms to Watch Out For (Book 10). I wonder if Alison already planned to introduce Jasmine as a character that far back, or if Jasmine was actually introduced in an earlier book (since I am reading backwards.) It would be neat to know.

    Don’t worry Berkeley Expat — it is so normal for straight people to read this that my husband and I read the new postings together. In the intro to book 10 (yes, I even read intros) Alison said, “Some straight cartoonists said to me, ‘Your stuff isn’t bad. Have you ever thought about doing comics for a general audience?’ This irked me, because I thought I was doing comics for a general audience.” From this thread, it sure looks like a general audience to me! (Well, a general audience with an above-average appreciation for the arts.)

  49. Aunt Soozie says:

    I love the apologetic tone you use when explaining how you gave lesbianism the old college try…you are too funny. Who could fault you, you tried your best, alas, it wasn’t meant to be. For many folks being straight is just a phase but in some cases it can stick for a lifetime. It’s okay…we welcome you!
    (and thanks JK)

  50. cybercita says:

    expat —

    not only am i not a lesbian, i’m another berkeley expat. welcome.

  51. LondonBoy says:

    I’m pleased that the guy in frame 3 ( aka “the cute guy”, though I suppose it’s a matter of taste ) is christian, too. I think in general it’s appropriate that most male characters in this strip should be “bit players” though ( Stuart and Raf being the two big exceptions ). I’d be happy to see more of Max Axel, though – it seems to me we haven’t seen much of Lois lately…

    I’m slightly discomfited by the way that things may go… I keep thinking of the last panel of #503.

  52. Danyell says:

    Thank you for the separation of “supporting troops” versus “supporting the war”. They are not always connected people!

  53. sweeter_the_juice says:

    AB, I’ve been meaning to post this for a few days, but I just wanted to tell you what a kick it was to watch the re-run episode of you on “In the Life” last weekend. I was channel surfing, and low and behold, there you were. What luck!!

    Also, can anyone direct me to the episode wherein Ginger and Samia discussed getting a house. I really don’t remember.

    And lastly, while on spring break last week, I re-read the entire DTWOF series–including The Indelible Allison Bechdel.

  54. Lizzie from London says:

    In terms of coming out : try announcing that you are (or are becoming) a Druid. Straight and gay alike look surprised, abashed and change the subject. (Well,not all, in fairness)

    I can see I shall have to catch up on all the back stories.

    Cattywompus is a great word. Wasn’t there a character in Last of the Mohicans called Natty Bumpo or am I imagining that.

  55. shadocat says:

    I owe you a huge apology! I totatlly mis-read a post you wrote directed towards Anna and me, and thought someone hijacked my name! (I’m blaming it on one of those 24 hr brain tumors that have been going around lately). Anyway, sorry for being a such a dork.

  56. little gator says:

    I lost track of a high school friend for 25 years, then she found me again.

    She says I made a pass at her but she turned me down cause she had her period(not that she said that at the time, she just laughed it off. I don’t remember this at all, but i think I was probably joking.

    She wasn’t out then, even to herself, but is now.

    And all I could think when she told me was how dare she think I’d go all the way on a first date anyway. That and lots of snickering.

  57. Maggie Jochild says:

    If Cary Grant were still alive, I might give him a whirl, too. And I’m a Kinsey 6.

    As a lesbian with as many close friends who are straight women as lesbians, I feel particularly cautious about making sure my language/behavior will never seem like a sexual advance. I mean, I’m that way with all friends (deep intimacy doesn’t encourage casual flirting) but I feel particularly obliged to not subject straight women to the kinds of boundary violations I see them enduring with men on a daily basis. Is this generational, just me, something other lesbians out there feel?

    There have always been certain members of our community (lesbians, I mean here) who seem to want to bring straight women out or try to persuade them they are in the closet, but I’ve found them thankfully to be a small minority. (Just like the numbers of lesbians who want to be the one to bring someone out — I’m grateful someone is doing this work but not me, baby, never again, as Ginger said above “I’m too old for this.”) I find it obnoxious to presume someone else’s orientation against their own stated preference.

    Re “coming out” in other forms — right before I turned 40, I found myself starting to believe in godde again (to use Deena’s spelling) after having been an ardent atheist since age 13. This change in my self-identity was excruciatingly painful, far more than coming out as lesbian had been (even during the terrifying period when I did) or giving up a public identity as a separatist or reclaiming my Southern accent while still in the South-ridiculing Bay Area. I told only a few people, the ones I was sure would not think less of me or try to persuade me of their spiritual beliefs (I’m STILL, 12 yeara later, not sure how to define what I believe), and I swore them to secrecy for a year or two. My best colleague during this process was a good friend who had been raised Southern Baptist, like me, but not the fundamentalist kind and who was not triumphant at my return to godde — she loved me no matter what I believed. But she understood my relief and grief and doubt. And she did not think I had to give up my radicalism to reclaim godde.

  58. Erica says:

    On an unrelated topic, did anyone else see that Chumley’s was torn down?

  59. Melissa says:

    Wow, there are a lot of folks from Berkeley here! I’m from Berkeley too.

  60. little gator says:

    I’m turning 50 next month. And suggestions on observing my official cronitude?

  61. --MC says:

    According to The Gothamist, the building that houses Chumley’s isn’t coming down — yet:
    But I mean, shit! First they close CBGB’s, now this!

  62. Berkeley Expat says:

    I am _loving_ this site.

    Maggie J — My father’s family originated in Alabama and
    Georgia. To me, Southern women are powerful, survivor-types. I don’t know who populated your social circle in
    the Bay Area, but I would have expected you to have gotten
    more action speaking with your Southern accent than the
    bland, non-accent we native Californians tend to have.
    There is nothing sexier than an astute, middle-aged, wise
    person with a slow Southern accent. I’m living in North
    Carolina, now, and there are a few of that type where I
    work. Verrrry nice!

    little gator — How about a “circle dance” for your 50th?
    When I was in the Bay Area, a woman named, “Starhawk,”
    conducted circle dances on the major Wiccan holidays in
    San Francisco. I never got to attend one, myself, but can
    just imagine how amazing it would be to claim your place
    with the wise women in that way. I guess the hard part,
    depending on where you live, is finding like-minded souls
    to join you.

  63. judybusy says:

    little gator, maybe do something you’ve always wanted to do, something big. As I type, a co-worker and his wife are in Washington state to visit Washoe, the signing chimp. They will attend the “Chimposium” tomorrow and hear the researcher speak. The wife turned fifty, and this is what she wanted to do. Whatever you choose, cherished friends definitely have to be a part, I would think! Happy cronitude!

  64. Jana C.H. says:


    Buy yourself a red hat and go out for a night on the town t an old-fashioned musical and an expensive post-show dinner.

    Invite over your fiftyish friends for wine/beer/cider and rent some TV shows from the Sixties and Seventies or listen to the Beatles from beginning to end.

    Join the Raging Grannies.

    Go to an “Impeach Bush” rally with a sign that says “I never thought I’d miss Nixon”. Be sure to wear your red hat.

    Buy yourself something high-tech, cool, and completely unnecessary.

    Make donuts. With friends. Be sure to use plenty of lard.

    Remember, you have earned the right to say and do any crazy thing you want without worrying about embarrassing yourself or wounding anyone’s tender sensibilities.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith JcH (13 years ago): I don’t mind being forty. What I mind is that a fifty-year-old would not be too old for me.

  65. Maggie Jochild says:

    little gator, if you live anywhere near pam isherwood, get her to make your birthday cake! she’s the best in the world. pam, post us your cake url again so little gator can see ’em and get ideas, please?

    the cake I had on my 50th was not special until my godson insisted we put 50 candles on it (no symbolic candles, no way) and light them. it literally set the cake on fire and set off the smoke alarm. we laughed about it the rest of the evening.

    for my big 40, i decided to watch a movie i’d heard about all my life but never seen. in my case, it was casablanca. damn, it was as good as everybody said; cried my guts out, which really entertained my friends.

    at 50, you’ve outlived the overwhelming majority of your ancestors. have a ceremony where you invite them to come tell you how proud they are of you, all the things you’re doing right. (if you ask them, they will come…)

  66. byrdie says:

    Quoth Annie of Anna and Shadocat:

    ‘Yup, Sydney was in desperate need of a smackdown… but the one who was hiding a “torbit secret” was Ginger.

    I found the whole excghange between the two just perfect!’

    I was scanning the comments just to see if anyone else was going to say anything about that. heh. At first I thought the weird expression on Ginger’s fact was about the fact that Mo had showed up just as Syndey was about to dish about Madeleine, then realized that it was Stuart’s appareance that was giving her the heebie-jeebies.


  67. DeLand DeLakes says:

    Lizzie from London-

    Yes indeedy, J.F. Cooper’s hero of _Last of the Mohicans_ was named Natty Bumpo- he also went by a lot of other pseudonyms, like Deerhunter, Leatherstocking, etc. I only know all this because I was forced to read _The Deerhunter_ for a really crappy seminar on 19th century literature, and it was pretty much the worst book I’ve ever read. That guy’s miscegenation panic just spirals out of control.

  68. Jen in California says:

    There is something about #507 that makes me happy and sad and hurt and hopeful, all at the same time. It’s hard to explain how I feel.

    Not so much the interpersonal drama. (Eek!), but the boundary blurring of all the different “sides” of our society. Right before the 2004 elections I went to see Michael Moore speak, and he basically reminded us that according to mainstream polls, most people in the US basically believe in liberal values. But we allow voices in the media to tell us that “Christian values” are right-wing values, and that “mainstream” ideas are only those represented by ultra right-wing ideologues. And everybody forgets that this is not really true.

    After all, since 2004 who has been running the protest camp in Cuba outside of Gitmo? Catholic nuns. Just like in the Vietnam war, there’s a long history of protest from a lot of the churches.

    I personally have a tendency to forget that history, and to not give credit where credit is due. Partially due to my own anti-church feelings, and partially due to a gradual erosion of objective reality thanks to our friends at Fox et al.

    I think the disconnect feeling brought about by this strip is not seeing that there -is- a church-organized protest vigil, but rather from the jolt of having to remember forgotten reality that many “mainstream” or “traditional” groups are not what we are told they are, and don’t believe what we are told they believe. And maybe they themselves have forgotten it too. Maybe the alliances aren’t odd, just forgotten or misremembered.

    2 + 2 = 5. We have always been at war with Eastasia.

    – Jen

  69. a different Emma says:

    Maggie Jochild–
    Your comments about being cautious in interactions with straight women friends echoes exactly a conversation I had just yesterday. I was trying to explain the same thing to my fabulously hetero pal; especially the part about not overstepping boundaries or inflicting “the gaze,” so to speak, upon women who generally have a large part of the population doing that to them daily. Particularly central to this caution is a sensitivity to the fact that a lot of the world IS homophobic (but not any of my friends–one must choose carefully) and a lot of women use their own heterosexuality to define themselves. With this in mind, I don’t want to upset straight women by threatening them with the possibility of my own desire.

    I know that might not be the healthiest way to view the world, but there you go. It’s born of the pressures ofoperating within a heteronormative culture–which often means behaving with defference to the dominant group. Another part of the problem is that women and girl-idenified people are so often socialized to be affectionate with each other. This becomes difficult to navigate when one is conscious of the potential for sexual tension or misinterpretations of language–vocal or physical.

    All of this is hard to put into words. My straight friend totally got it though and gave me a tonne of reasons not to worry so much. She made me feel so much better and more comfortable about being myself that I can’t even explain it.

    I reccommend that sort of conversation to anyone.

  70. The Cat Pimp says:

    Hm. So many threads. Well, I’m straight and have been “stalking” DTWOF since 1986 and have been in Berkeley the whole time. I saw her first, she’s MINE! (In the purely imaginary sense of course.)

    As for the story today – wow. I had to read it several times. All the outing and subterfuges made my head spin.

    People are villifying Sydney. I don’t think she was told to keep Ginger’s “secret” of wanting to get a house with Samia. There they were next door to Mo and Sydney’s when Sydney was unloading her bags. Cynthia did not tell Ashley to keep any secrets – she clearly says “Who told you about that?”

    All of these secrets are non-secrets. They’re just breaking news that the people thought they could keep secret. Of course, keeping secrets in DWTOF land is impossible. The jungle drums beat continually….

  71. calamityJ says:

    re: Berkeley Expat:
    April 5th, 2007 at 5:49 pm

    I’ve always preferred “dyke tyke” for the fag hag equivalent. And so. WELCOME, to all of you who may not fit the dominant paradigm!!

    –a contrarian driving w/a suspended lesbian license…

  72. Pam I says:

    Little gator, here are some cake ideas as requested:
    They are easier than it may seem – the hard part is getting the idea. Then it’s just a day in the kitchen and lots of marzipan. The only rule is that everything has to be edible.
    My 50th was memorable, 120 close personal friends in The Vortex, which for decades was the best jazz club in London. Don’t ask about what happened to it last month courtesy of an acquisitive landlord and ridiculous property prices.

  73. little gator says:

    We have a tradition of unusual birthday cakes.

    The daffodil was my favorite. a small round cake over a large star cake, with appropriate colors. The stamens or whatver they’re called were chocolate chips speared on (non edible)toothpicks. lost more chips than we used, but that was no problem.

    The Jackson Pollack cake-plain white icing, small bowls of colored icing and decorative candies. We got a friend’s children, showed them a website of his flungpaint stuff, and turned them loose. years later we still find bits of icing on the walls.

    The christmas in July-a tree cut from a sheet cake. Everyone got to help with candy deco.red licorice whips and tiny candies make a good string of lights. bonus-extra batter made snowman cupcakes. Another friend’s kid made an evil snowman complete with licorice noose and blue fangs.

    The spaceships-individual loaf and round cakes with, you guessed it, candy and colored icing. each person decorated their own.

    Rat Cakes for Halloween-a bunch of disposable tiny loaf pans(a box of mix made eight) pinched into a pointy snout at one end and a round butt on the other. bake with the snout ends on the rim of a cookie sheet and the butts to the middle, which makes a nice pointynose humpback look.

    Gummi worm tails, red hot candy eyes, candy corn ears(point in, broad part out), then slit their little tummies and pipe in some red icing guts.

    The best part is most people are satisfied with half a rat, so you can make lots of jokes about giving a rat’s ass.

    I can’t afford anything pricy, but I must think of a good cake theme. Maybe a bonfire in our homemade firepit made of an old clothesdryer drum.

    btw, the m&m cake failed. We made the mistake of using angel cake batter and the m&ms were too heavy and sunk to the bottom. Yummy and edible, but not very pretty.

    Too bad the kids I used to know are now teens and too kewl for such things.

    And as far as outliving ancestors: in general yes, but I have a great-aunt who is almost 106. She might be the oldest person alive in Rhode Island. She’s pretty much lost her mental sharpness, but only about 3 years ago.

  74. Jana C.H. says:

    When I was growing up, my mother had a booklet with directions for making cakes that looked like various objects; she took it as an inspiration and went far beyond it. My brothers and I would tell Mom what we wanted our birthday cakes to look like each year, and somehow she came up with it. A Siamese cat. A motorcycle. A saxophone. A ski slope with a rope lift and people skiing. I gave her an easy one for my 18th birthday: a ballot. The last fancy cake I got was when I was a grad student in geography and she sent me the Earth: northern and southern hemispheres. She shipped that pair to me in Seattle from Port Angeles; it was the last time I’ve ever actually thrown a birthday party, a little over twenty years ago.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith Marth F.H.: Ovens are for baking, not for cleaning.

  75. LondonBoy says:

    My mother is great at cakes in unusual shapes and with unusual decorations. So, perhaps surprisingly ( he was brought up in a time when men didn’t go near the kitchen ), is my father. Over the years everyone in my family has had some great cakes. Particularly memorable: Thunderbird 1 ( from the TV show ), a perfect steam locomotive, and an ABBA logo.

    Jen in California: I’ve never understood how the Republicans can claim monopoly on Christianity. At risk of sounding cliched, for me the simple question is always “what would Jesus do ?” And looking at his words and actions in the record, it seems to me a reasonable bet that he’d be hanging around with the “minorities” in the melting pot. One thing I’m sure of is that he’d be pretty scathing about a lot of the “Christian Right”.

    One reason I like Cynthia is because I can see her making the same journey that many others make: from labelling oneself as a Christian to acting as one. ( Still on that road myself ! )

    I was always being told as a child not to talk about money, religion or politics. As you can tell, I’m still ignoring that rule !

  76. Maggie Jochild says:

    I love this blog. I love the lives you all are living, and how beautifully you share them. I love your courage, your smarts, and your humor. Every line is packed.

    I was moved to tears by the bird video. Small creatures trying to take in enough calories to fight the cold, with puffed out feathers and vigilant head turns. The three-toes-ballasted-by-one-behind grip of the woodpecker — what was she thinking in her pauses between combing her feathers? And that one moment where you hear Alison breathe as she’s otherwise silently, raptly focused on the bird.

    a different emma — you said “All of this is hard to put into words” — coulda fooled me. Eloquence personified.

  77. Kinbote says:

    An ABBA logo cake?! I almost shot organic cranberry juice out my nose when I read that. Please don’t change this format. I just love stumbling over these things!

  78. Pam I says:

    Little Gator, the stamens for the daffodil would have had to be eaten in my obsessive rule book. So crystallised asparagus strips would do. Or those little chocolate sticks made as After Dinner nibbles. One day I’ll get arrested for standing in front of the biscuit section in tescos for about an hour while I work out the whole thing in my head.
    Actually between you and me there was one transgression. The propellor of Maggie Murray’s biplane (I’ve yet to dig out those negs) just _had_ to rotate. There was no edible device that worked despite days of trying – so a chopstick got appropriated. At least it was vegetable matter.

  79. Pam I says:

    And LG, dont worry about the kids not wanting cakes any more. There will be wave after wave of 30ths, 40ths, 50ths yet to come…. we’re now hitting the 60ths…

  80. notpeanut says:

    Jen in California, LondonBoy– I’ve always liked the saying that a saint is a dead liberal worshipped by living conservatives. Hmmmmmm…

    And I’m sure Jesus would be hanging out with the minority folk one way or another– as much as the right wing would have us think otherwise, he wasn’t exactly European himself.

  81. shadocat says:

    Anne Lamont was in town yesterday–she did a local radio show and spoke a lot about spirituality, and the things that are happening to Christianity in particular. One of the points she touched on was that this Radical Right version invokes the name of Jesus quite often, but almost never talks about what he taught. Not much is said about helping the poor, about making the world a better place, about how “God is love.” And although they are called “Fundementalists”, they seem to draw their fundementals from the Old Testament, and draw the most negative lessons they can from that text. If they’re Christians, shouldn’t they be paying more attention to the New Testament? I mean I’m just sayin’…

    Remember the quote Maggie was looking for a-ways back? I do believe it was said, and that the info is out there somewhere, but I just can’t look for it anymore. Why, you may ask? Well I’ll tell you:

    I knew some pretty outrageous things have been said about LGBT people, so I thought I was prepared. I was wrong.

    At first, they were so ridiculous, I was laughing. Then, I got mad. Then I just got more and more depressed. Not so much about the statements. It was the realization that there are lots of people out there that believe this bullshit.

    Let’s see; I’m sure you’ve heard we have sex with animals (the gerbil thing, etc). Did you know we eat feces? Drink urine? Have sex with infants on the streets of Chicago? Group sex on a daily basis? Want to “convert” everyone to homosexuality so that babies will stop being born (close to the quote, but not quite). Oh, we eat human flesh, aborted embryos, and drink human blood by the tumblerful. Plus some of the ideas they have of what we do in bed —well all I could say is—What the FUCK??????

    The thing is, when these people first appeared on the scene, I’m thinking after Roe vs Wade—I discounted them. Bunch of “Holy Rollers” I thought. No one will listen to them. And even though they got Regan and Bush #1 elected, I still didn’t take them seriously enough. Now they have W in office, and here we are again; acting as if we’re going to win in ’08.

    Liberals , don’t take these people for granted! They are evil, I mean REALLY evil, no hyperbole here. They took a religion based on love, forgiveness, and helping one another and turned it into a movement of selfishness, superioity, and simple GREED. It’s all “I am saved, and the hell with the rest of you.” You know I heard some preacher chick say on TV the other day that Jesus was a millionaire? A MILLIONAIRE! JESUS?

    Ok I’m done. Sorry about the long rant. Hope I didn’t spoil anyone’s Easter.

  82. Anonny Mouse says:

    I think it’d be interesting to see more of Cynthia interacting with the people on “the other side,” the student Bible Fellowship, whom it now turns out may be no more in line with her thinking than Ashley.

  83. Tabby says:

    The vast gulf between the old & new testaments amazes me. It’s like they should be two different books or something. But I’ve often thought that “fundamentalists” would be better described as “testamentarians”.

  84. Pam I says:

    There was a scary documentary on the bbc this week called The Most Hated Family in America, about the Phelpses – the godhatesfags lot. A classic illustration of how effective intense brainwashing within a domestic setting can be. But I started to think, if they were here there would be moves to take the younger children into care. Has that been proposed there? So when the monstrous Gramps goes off to his personal hell, eventually the clan will disappear. It was heartbreaking to see a banner-clutching 7-year-old trying to come up with reasons why fags will burn in hell – “because they are dykes?”. Enough, surely, to be defined as abuse?

  85. Austinite says:

    Nice to see “Cattywompus” up there. That’s one of those words that you don’t find in just any dictionary, and if you do you never know how they’ll spell it. And as for the definition, well, it means more than just “diagonal”. It’s more like a funny way of saying something is messed up. In his book “Texas Crude” Ken Weaver gives an example: “Ever since I rolled my car it drives a little katty-wampus”.

  86. shadocat says:


    As fate would have it, the Phelps family lives not too far away from me, in Topeka, Ks. I have seen their pickets many times, at the funerals of friends, and of course, when anyone famous comes to town, no matter their politcal persuasion. Fred is a publicity whore, and will do anything to get his face on the news. I have often thought, as I have seen his very young grandchildren standing at the roadsides, holding signs with the vilest, most obscene language written on them, “Where are the social service people? Isn’t this child abuse?” Not to mention you’ll see them in the pouring rain, broiling heat—all to deliver this “message” of hate. The “official” story is that no laws have actually been broken. The “unofficial” story is that Fred has all the powers that be shaking in their boots. The adult Phelps’are, in addition to being crazy zealots, all attorneys, and they have made most of their money filing frivilous lawsuits. Piss them off, and they’ll litigate you into the ground. I hotlined them once, when I went to see Bill Clinton and Former Senator Bob Dole (a Republican, btw)speak at the University of Kansas. It was a very hot day, and there were the little ones, sweating, sunburned, and holding a large sign that said, “Bob Dole Is A Fag!”Two weeks later, I got a letter from Kansas SRS–my claim was “unsubstantiated” and no action was being taken. Poor kids.

    Speaking of Fred, his website states that the sin of sodomy is “unforgivable” Even if one has regrets, wants to repent and “rapair” themselves, too bad. Once one has sex with someone of the same gender, they’ve earned a one-way ticket to Hell, no refunds, no second chances.

    So since I am one of the older people on this blog, I promise that if I am the first of us to go, I will contact the “head demon” in Hades, and see if I can set up a “DTWO4 Table” at the gates of the underworld, where all bloggers could check in, mix and mingle. Hey, I mean since we’re all headed there anyway….

  87. shadocat says:

    Oy, and in my first rant I should have said Anne Lamott–forgive me, Anne…

  88. maNFan says:

    “Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

    When I first heard that, I thought well that’s stupid. Consistency is important to ideas Etc.

    It was only after I got online, and started to read conversations virtually killed by a few’s obsession with the correct way to spell things, the correct definition, as if they are written black and white and are inviolate for eternity. A single misspelling could render invalid, an entire discussion.

    So AB misspelled a world. Reading her intro, she made it extremely clear just how busy she’s been. Just as obvious is she certainly did NOT intend to misspell it. No one needs to wonder. LOL

    Everyone knows what she meant. 😉 The misspelled word confused no one. I’m sure she will correct it if and when she finds the time.

    Yet all the focus? Now I see what he meant about consistency 😉 However I substitute the term “anal retentive” for the phrase “little minds.” One thing is clear, anyone can have an obsession.

  89. Pam I says:

    especially fred phelps…. you do kind of wonder why?

  90. little gator says:

    Pam-all the cakes were for adults. But when everyone is helping to decorate, a preteen or two in the mix makes it lots more fun.

  91. Deena in OR says:

    little gator-
    Sounds vaguely cannibalistic to me…

  92. c.m. says:

    don’t know about cattywompus but here in ny the hottest baby dyke bar is cattyshack . .

  93. Duncan says:

    shadocat, “One of the points [Lamott] touched on was that this Radical Right version invokes the name of Jesus quite often, but almost never talks about what he taught. Not much is said about helping the poor, about making the world a better place, about how ‘God is love.’ And although they are called ‘Fundementalists’, they seem to draw their fundementals from the Old Testament, and draw the most negative lessons they can from that text. If they’re Christians, shouldn’t they be paying more attention to the New Testament? I mean I’m just sayin’…”

    Oh, my. Well, first, Jesus didn’t teach “God is Love.” That’s in one of the letters of John, the first, I think, the same one where he orders his followers to expel anyone who doesn’t obey his teachings. (In the following letter he’s furious because someone else drove *him* out of their church for disobedience. What goes around comes around…)

    So, which teachings of Jesus’ do you have in mind? The parts where he promises to cast the disobedient unbelievers into eternal Hellfire? That’s a major part of Jesus’ teaching, and it’s the part that ‘liberal’ Christians tend to imagine is “Old Testament” stuff. It’s not. Hell is a specifically New Testament doctrine; the “Old Testament” has very little to say about the afterlife, and it’s never been a major theme in Judaism. (When Christians ignorantly badmouth the “Old Testament,” they tend to forget that it is The Bible of Judaism, and they don’t seem to realize what they are saying about Jews. I wonder how Tabby sees the Old and New Testaments as so radically different; they aren’t really, and Tabby should be aware that the New Testament generally, and Jesus in particular, quotes and refers to the Old Testament constantly as an authority.)

    Or how about the parts where Jesus forbids divorce, or orders followers to mutilate themselves if their body parts lead them to sin (especially sexual sin), or to hate their families; or claimed that he had come to bring not peace, but a sword? And don’t forget his consistent teaching that the end of the world and the final judgment are going to come very soon (a la Pat Robertson). Or his faith healing and exorcisms, a la Robertson and Oral Roberts, among so many others. I have found that liberal Christians who attack fundamentalists are almost always extremely ignorant about Jesus’ teachings, and about the Bible generally.

    As far as I know, Christian fundamentalists have New Testament “fundamentals” in mind; but since you don’t refer to specific teachings/passages, I can’t say much more than that.

    Yes, I know there are nicey-nice, huggyface kissybear parts of Jesus’ teachings. But you can’t just selectively ignore the hateful, nasty, condemning parts if you want to condemn fundamentalists for selective reading of the Bible. One teaching of Jesus’ that I do like is the one about removing the beam from your own eye before criticizing the speck in your brother’s eye.

    I’m an atheist, as it happens, but I have bothered to inform myself on this subject; I’m still amazed at how few Christians bother to do as much.

  94. shadocat says:


    I am not in position to debate the Bible with you. I was raised Catholic, and we are not taught the Bible by “chapter and verse”. And as fate would have it, I don’t even have a Bible in my house,(and my girlfriend is the daughter of an Episcopal priest!).I no longer attend the Catholic Church—just my own choice—not meant to reflect on anyone out there who may be Catholic. I do know there are many translations of the Bible, and thought perhaps to converse with you on that—but a Bible knowledge contest was not what I had in mind when I made that post. I am sure you are by far the superior Bible scholar and I wll not contest you on that point.

    What I meant to say was this: As a child, I was taught the Christian message was that we should “treat our neighbor as we would like to be treated”. I was taught that certain things were sins, sure, but never taught to out and out HATE a group of people. But perhaps my experience was atypical.

    The Christian Right has no qualms about teaching their children out and out hate, or rewriting the “Golden Rule” I mentioned above to “Whoever has the most gold makes the rules.” Don’t discount the Christian Right as a political force. Remember, people discounted the fledgling Nazi party as just another fringe group, and look how that woked out…

  95. shadocat says:

    sorry-look how that WORKED out…

  96. Tabby says:

    Tabby furrows her brow and licks a thoughtful paw.

    Last time I read it, I got the idea (and it’s one of those things that life keeps smacking me with) that it’s really all about context. Jesus was a person, of a certain place in time and of a certain place. But what made him remarkable – what made his message – was not his fidelity to his time, but the parts where he aparently trancended custom and law to include outcasts, to heal (and lost to time is the medical validity of what he did), to reach out.

    The parts you quote seem sort of snipped out of context (a thing that drives me nuts about scripture – you can make it say whatever you want, a la Phelps (shudder)). Did Christ mean that you were to actually cut off parts of yourself and hate people, or, my reading, did he speak metaphorically (spelling gods, forgive me!! – I have dinner on (vegetarian stroganoff – hard to see why Easter is not a vegan holiday, but, anyway!). He spoke to the people of his time, in the language and within the traditions of the times. But the message I got out of it all was very much the “huggy-face”.

    However, it was a couple of lives ago that I really read – I wonder what I would see differently on a new reading. This sort of thing is always a process of questioning, drifting, reaching, seeking. As I get older, I find it hard to fault people who seek the comfort of easy answers. It’s the institutions that provide such self-serving versions of those answers that seem so twisted.

    But for me, the only comfort I could accept were the things that somehow resonated within me. Christ resonates. So does Buddah. So do some native teachings, and some of what I’ve read of Gurdjieff. Which leaves one with a sort of spiritual buffet – take what you like and leave off the stuff you don’t like? Eating the desserts and leaving the bitter greens? That doesn’t seem very nutritious! But how much of conventional religion is more about political control than actual spiritual need? Do the people who are inclined to dig a bit deeper into whatever the culture and tradition of their time have a sort of personal sense of what is spiritually needful, even when it’s something one doesn’t really “like”, particularly about oneself?

    Perhaps that is THIS place in time, that we are between the old and the new and nothing seems self-evident and universal. So people cling with a deadly fierceness, and seek to validate their own beliefs by drowning out all others. The universe is big & we are tiny. There are so many ways to see a thing that each new set of eyes sees it anew. We bring bits of our past – as indiviudals and as human whole – into the future. Certain things fall away, and certain things change, but some things remain. May compassion, which I read as the central message of Christ & Buddah carry us into the future.

  97. Silvio Soprani says:

    Just got back from a week of camping, visiting, etc, and was not near a computer.

    I did, however, try to read the blog on the RSL (is that right?) feed on my cellphone.

    I was able to read the comments (until my thumb got really tired…), but guess what? Episode 507 was available graphically, but was about one inch square on my cell phone screen! Talk about frustration in the woods!

    So now I am home, and trying to catch up. (But thrilled to finally view Episode 507!) I see everyone has been very busy. Creative cakes, hate speech, analysis of Sydney, and lots of Jesus!

    I did attend a Catholic Easter Vigil last night (in a Georgia Catholic church. ) It was the first Catholic service I have attended in about 20-something years. I was surprised to see that people don’t genuflect anymore, they BOW. (I don’t see any appreciable difference if the goal was to be more modern. They both signal humility and/or subservience.) I also saw altar girls up there with the altar boys. But one thing that has not changed was the totally un-impassioned liturgical “music.” No soul at all.
    What are they afraid of? It can’t be lack of talent. I think it is lack of ego.

    Berkeley Ex-Pat, I believe Starhawk’s dance was a “spiral” dance (not “circle.”) And that is a lovely experience.

    I must continue now with my cathching up of threads..

  98. ragthetiger says:

    Wow, little gator, I love the rat cakes! Gotta try them next Hallowe’en.

    As for turning 50- When I turned 50 and friends asked “how do you feel being 50?” I’d just say, “Like half my life is over.” It was fun watching their expressions go from sympathy (“Awww…”) to enlightenment (“–OH!)!

    Anyway, it’s just a number with a zero at the end, and it only has a zero at the end because we have ten fingers. But if you want to make it important, have a great time. Happy birthday!

  99. Jana C.H. says:


    Your experience with music in Catholic services matches mine. I was brought up American Baptist (the liberal Baptists), and all Baptists sing. That and dunking people in water is just about the only thing you can say about Baptists that’s true for all of them.

    Our church youth group went to a Catholic service one Sunday as part of a program to visit other congregations. Queen of Angels was the biggest church in town, and the place was full, but when they sang it was hardly above a mumble. We were astonished. We went back to our own church, where there were probably a couple dozen people in the congregation that day, and we out-sang all those Catholics.

    That’s the main thing I learned about the Catholic Church in my youth: They don’t sing.

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

  100. ragthetiger says:

    Jana – damn straight we don’t sing. We know our limitations! LOL

    Actually the songs, and the dirgelike tempo they’re played at, are generally so godawful that we just grit our teeth and wait for them to be over. Our hope is that they’ll give up: if we sing along we’ll just encourage them. That’s my Catholic church, anyway. I don’t suppose they’re all like that – some of them must have it right – but I couldn’t agree more. Catholics Don’t Sing. And You Should Be Glad We Don’t.


  101. rouputuan says:

    what IS this nonsense about Roman Catholics not singing in church. granted there were some pretty awful “aggiornamenti” of the liturgy and devotional music after Vatican II, but not all of it was bad. i grew up in a French-speaking Catholic community with hymns by modern church composers that weren’t some of them half bad. and then, when i was spirited across the ocean to my father’s homeland of Scotland, into a university parish there, we sang a healthy mixture of hymns in the “anglican” style, contemporary folk and once a month, a “schola” of young students delivered renaissance and early baroque church polyphony (Palestrina, Victoria, Tallis, Byrd, Monteverdi, and lots of plainchant aka Gregorian). i couldn’t wait until my voice finished breaking so i could join their ranks…

    my notion is that post-vatican II church music is really unsingable because it tried too hard to be hip and in tune with the times. that’s not what people want to sing in church… more like “my song is love unknown” than “morning has broken”…

  102. ragthetiger says:

    Rouputuan – your comments on post-Vatican II — yes, yes, yes! Not that “Tantum Ergo Sacramentum” was particularly singable either, but oy, the “modern” stuff is just horrible. And at least Tantum Ergo was in Latin so we weren’t stunned by banal lyrics as well as banal tunes.

    Occasionally we get to sing one of the good, old melodies, but invariably they slow it down to dirge tempo, and then add insult to injury by bowdlerizing the lyrics… I ask you, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved and set me free”? Better to have no singing at all. And so I return to my original theory, that we don’t sing in hopes that they’ll stop trying to make us.

    Again – my disclaimer: I can only speak for my particular parish church, which does have a lot going for it otherwise.

    BTW rouputuan, what is aggiornamenti? Pardon my ignorance. I find this all fascinating.


  103. silvio soprani says:

    Ah, so this thread is still going.
    I think the reason the more conservative Catholic congregations have bad singing is this: music comes from passion. If you are repressing your passions in the interest of being free from “sin,” you aren’t going to be able to belt it out.

    Now I know that some of the ancient saints were quite ecstatic–some of their writings were downright erotic, even though they were talking about God. They were having basically psychedelic experiences born of fasting, self-flaggelation, and deep meditation.

    But in modern times, in conservative American parishes, there just isn’t much of that.

    Even the “new music” (post-ecumenical), as you said, rouputuan, while trying to be relevant, isn’t very musical.

    I stopped regularly attending mass sometime back in the 70s, so I confess that I am pathetically out of touch. I was just commenting on how my recent visit showed me that in all that time, not much had changed.

    I do remember the “high masses” of my youth, in latin, with the organ supporting operatic singers of latin…it was quite powerful, regardless of one’s feelings about religion.

    Personally, I think that listening to and producing good music is a religious experience in itself, and it frustrates me to hear people trying to be religious with such weak, uninspired performances. It is a great loss to everyone in the congregation.

    But even the weaker new music could be made powerful by some committed performances; that’s what I don’t see happening.

  104. Maggie Jochild says:

    You know, Silvio, etc. — recent anthrological theory is leaning toward the notion that our unique human brains developed because of the need for and persistent reinforcement of working in collaboration with one another. And (at least according to David Attenborough) this probably first arose by singing in groups. Some of the oldest hominid artifacts found seem to be musical instruments. I know singing together alters the brain — music is a language separate from spoken speech, as is mathematics. Makes sense to me. Just like the first written symbols were not alphabets but numbers — we wouldn’t have written language without math.

  105. LondonBoy says:

    Warning: Babble follows ! I know I should resist this thread, but I just can’t help myself !

    I love music in church: for me it’s part of the whole experience. I love everything from ancient plainchant to mid-20th century hymns. As long as it’s musical and engages my mind and spirit I’m all for it. Only with the modern stuff do I lose patience: do the writers of modern religious songs have no idea how dull it is to sing, as in one recent ditty, “God is Love” ( 6 times ), “He is Love” ( 1 time ), “God is Love” ( 3 times ) ? And then repeat, replacing the “He is Love” with “Alleluia” ? We get the message, already ! How much better to sing “The Lord’s my shepherd, I’ll not want…”

    Some of the modern stuff is great ( “From the microbes to the whales, all creation tells God’s glory…” – though I doubt that’s heard much in the creationist sanctuaries of the USA ! ), but it’s hard to beat the poetry of Tate and Wesley, and I don’t believe Bach’s religious music can be improved on.

    Truth is, many of the times I have felt closest to God have had music in them: the joy of singing, or dancing, or just listening to it. The old puritans who wanted to ban it from their churches were wrong I’m sure: we have this wonderful capability to make and appreciate music, and I can’t imagine we weren’t meant to use it. The Shakers, and other ecstatic groups, had the right idea: music does have something spiritual about it, at least for me. And of course when all the congregation are singing “Jerusalem” it’s hard not to shed a tear !

    Sorry this is so far from the standard DTWOF topics. BTW, Silvio, I love “My song is love unknown” !

  106. geogeek says:

    Being almost entirely without group religious experience, I can only offer a joke from my parents. Why do Unitarian churches have such crappy singing? Because people are busy reading ahead to see if they agree with the words.

  107. silvio soprani says:


    Strangely enough, the Unitarian services I have attended from time to time have had wonderful, diverse music–because creativity is highly encouraged (even though dogma is not!).

    LondonBoy, from my childhood experience attending Catholic church regularly, I don’t believe Catholics even notice what songs they are singing. (Well, alright, I’ll just speak for myself–I don’t remember them. They put me to sleep.)

    However, my cousin always sang classical pieces in her church and she would sing them for us at Christmas time, and they were lovely.

    But I don’t think Catholics have “favorite hymns…” the way Protestents do. (By the way, CAtholics call every Christian who is non-catholic a “protestent.” I suppose that’s a bit like the way white people call all native americans “indians,” whereas the indians identify themselves by their nation, like “Cherokee,” etc.)

    But I digress. LondonBoy, I was just going to tell you that I know “Jeruselem” from that wonderful Tom Courtenay movie from the ’60s called “Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner.” That song makes me cry too. (The words are from William Blake, right?) But I have never been in a church where it was sung. I only know it from British movies!

  108. Liza from pine street art works says:

    I adore Lonliness of The Long Distance Runner and it was also my only reference to the hymn “Jerusalem”. But you have to see Eddie Izzard talking about that song, and the general dreariness of white church music. I’ve been trying to locate it on YouTube ’cause I know it’s there. Sooo hilarious.

    And I didn’t even know that there were various types of protestants until I read Max Weber, “The Protestant Ethic and The Spirit of Capitalism” in grad school. I mean, I guess I knew that there were Unitarians and Shakers and, well, protestants, and that’s about it. I knew who Martin Luthor was. But hey, I’m a New York Jew.

  109. Jana C.H. says:

    “God is Love” (6 times), “He is Love” (1 time), “God is Love” (3 times) ? And then repeat, replacing the “He is Love” with “Alleluia” ?

    This only works if you’re Handel. And he had a better librettist.

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

  110. silvio soprani says:

    Well, if it’s any consolation, growing up Catholic and Italian in New Jersey, there were Irish and Italian Catholics in my school. In 17 years living in my childhood neighborhood, there was exactly one Jewish family on my block (and they were anti-war; they had a sticker on their front door that said “Ban The Bomb;” very radical in 1965).

    My father had a Jewish boss, but I never met him. I never met another Jewish person until I went to college. Then I learned that three of my closest male friends (musicians) were Jewish. I was so shocked!

    In some ways it is a wonderful thing to grow up immersed in one’s own ethnic culture. In other ways it is just damned embarrassing. Kind of like growing up in NJ and feeling sorry for all the people across the country who had no access to New York City. And then learning (again, in college) that there are perfectly intelligent, creative, funny people who just happened to grow up somewhere else.

    Thanks for the heads up about Eddie Izzard. I am so crazy about him since I discovered him in “The Riches.” I am looking forward to renting his movies and stand up shows that reveal him in his enhanced state.

    By the way, I think the “Luthor” spelling is reserved for Superman’s “Lex Luthor.” (Martin is “Luther” if I’m not mistaken, although he may have been just as cantakerous as Lex.)

  111. silvio soprani says:



    I found the Eddie Izzard clip where he talks about white christians and their singing. It starts about 3 1/2 minutes into the excerpt.

  112. Grisha says:

    Since it’s true confessions time here at DTWO4, you all should know I’m 59, str8 (Thanks Rafi), a Catholic and an San Franciscan. Cynthia is rapidly becoming one of my favorites.

    I’m really looking forward to her internship at Langley!

  113. Jana C.H. says:

    When I was growing up in the Fifties and Sixties in Port Angeles, Washington, there was exactly one black family in town, the Ducketts.

    There were, however, a lot of Clallams and the occassional Makah (Native Americans). It seems odd, but I don’t remember any Asians. It is particularly odd considering that I have one brother married to a Philippina and another who’s married to a Samoan.

    Latinos? Not then! Which is why, although a resident of Los Angeles is indeed a Los Angelino, A resident of Port Angeles is a Port Angelean. I know it doesn’t make sense. That’s just the way it is.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith Martin Luthor: I’ll get you, Superpope, if it’s the last thing I do!

  114. liza says:

    Great Silvio, that’s one of the one’s I remember but I must have mixed up two of Eddie’s routines because there’s another one about Jerusalem. I can’t wait until you see his dvds. He is amazing.

    And yes, I’m much better schooled in Superman than Protestantism.

  115. Hariette says:

    Sorry if this has been dealt with before. Since Liz M-F, loving partner of the ever lovely Beth M-F, is Ginger’s realtor I have a few questions regarding characters.

    1) Isn’t Beth the one we saw in Madwimmin’s asking for a boatload of books? When Jezanna said her to let her know when she was ready to check out, she stated that she had already ordered them from Medusa.com but just wanted to see them?

    2) Gloria’s ex, Ana, wasn’t she the woman sitting with Toni on the bus to the women’s march? The same bus where Clarice was sitting behind her & eventually got up the nerve to introduce herself?

    Shoot! I know I had other questions but since beginning to type they have escaped. Oh well. These are a start.

  116. LondonBoy says:

    1) I may have dreamt it, but I think AB once remarked that the Madwimmin book-examiner was a “model” for Beth, which I think means that Beth hadn’t been invented at the time. ( I’m stifling my instinct for retro-engineering here ! )

    2) I can’t find my copy of the relevant strip to answer the second question. It’ll probably be answered in the next post or two, if I know DTWOF readers !

  117. ChrisC says:

    As a Realtor who has taken pride in serving the LGBT community, I hate to see the hideous Liz McLaughlin-Fartus(NOT a typo) be the Realtor. Also, it is curious that this is the one brand name AB didnt change unlike “Stapled” and the rest.
    In my experience, there are many in our community involved in RE and its related fields — designer, renovation, carpentry, etc because it was one of the first professions where you could be out — back when that was a big deal in the 80s–. It’s true that money gets a lot of emphasis in the profession. But, I also must say that of the many straight and un-straight Realtors I know, we are by and large an energetic and caring bunch, and often involved in many community building projects both because its good for our business and because we do care about our communities and see the connections between healthy communities and individual happiness.
    Being with people as they buy their first home is one of the things I really treasure about my business, and for many lesbian and gay couples, it really is kind of a stand in for a wedding, since its an official thing we can do which cements our relationships and families.
    Also, a point of clarification , since the hateful Liz M-F’s name is on the real estate sign, she is the listing agent for that house, not necessarily an agent who Ginger and Samia have selected to represent them in the transaction. It appears they don’t have a “buyer’s agent” which, I would say, is unfortunate since that means they don’t have a professional on their side.
    I am really enjoying the blog as various comments point out things in the art work I missed, and I must say I thought I was a little Alison B obsessed but some of you folks certainly show me up!

  118. Jana C.H. says:

    Beth M-F is the obnoxious one– at least she’s obnoxious about adultery. We don’t really know anything about Liz. She may be perfectly charming, for anything we can tell.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith Will Cuppy: Attila the Hun was an awful pest, but there are plenty of others. You mustn’t blame him for all your troubles because most of them are your own fault and the sooner you realize it the better.

  119. Dicentra formosa says:

    My great-grandparents settled in Seattle in the 1900’s, but as Japanese they couldn’t own property, and then after Pearl Harbor they and their (American-born) children were trucked off to the camps. Like many others, when they were finally released they dispersed to other parts of the country. Maybe this would explain the lack of Asians when you were growing up in 50’s and 60’s Port Angeles.

  120. Jana C.H. says:


    That is very likely the case. Now that you mention it, I vaguely remember reading about a particular Japanese teenager in Port Angeles for whom the locals tried all kinds of tricks to keep him from being taken away to the camps. Didn’t work, alas.

    And my mother has told me about a classmate of hers in high school who was interned. She eventually came back to the Northwest and still lives in the Puget Sound area.

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

  121. Dicentra formosa says:

    That sounds like a good story. As a kid I was always looking for stories about the relocation, and there were very few. As far as I can remember there were none where communities actually reaching out to the Japanese-Americans were a part of the story. Okay, so it didn’t happen alot, and it certainly should have happened more, but where it did happen, shouldn’t we know about it? Ordinary citizens who take time to be human and think about individual people even when government and the media are fear-mongering is always an important story. Shouldn’t it be even more important in times like these, when people are again being turned into numbers and statistics, and groups reduced to flags and slogans?

  122. dragongoddess says:

    I mainly lurk here, but I had to answer Duncan’s comment on fundamentalists. definition: not much fun, and very mental.

    Another commenter hit it on the head that a lot of what you said is out of context. THAT is the problem with the fundamentalists, they pick out whatever they want to support their main issue and ignore the rest. Duncan, I’m sorry you feel the way you do, but you obviously don’t undestand the way you think you do. I’ve been a Christian for 15 years, and I don’t claim to come close to understanding scripture. There’s a lot of weird stuff in the Bible. But you can’t take it out of context the way the fundamentalists do or it loses all meaning. It would take me 20 pages or so and my pastor is on vacation, and I don’t want to tie up someone else’s blog, but you have to look at the big picture. “God is love” is the TOTAL message… if you don’t understand that, you can’t understand the rest.

    I’m one of Alison’s many straight christian readers – a copy of DTWOF was given to me by a friend when my mother was diagnosed with cancer -around the same time as s. in the strip.

    Oh. And John is quoting Leviticus 19:18. ” Love thy neigbor as thyself.”

  123. Pam I says:

    I thought the really radical thing JC came up with was “Love thine enemy”. Could be wrong, as a fundamentalist atheist with no holy books in this house thanks.

  124. Holli says:

    My Cat’s name is Wumples.
    That is all.

  125. rouputuan says:

    back to dealing with our prelapsarian lives…

    catholics DO have favorite hymns: i quoted “my song is love unknown” but that is straight out of a high-church anglican hymnal… my anglophone catholic father loved belting out “faith of our fathers” (or will that have been bowlderized into “faith of our parents” in the US?), with its vivid evocations of recusant martyrs beind hanged, drawn and quartered (or in the case of women, pressed to death in the peine forte et dure). and my francophone mother taught me “chrétiens prenez courage”, an old french hymn known to protestants as “the huron carol”, since it was taught to the native americans by the jesuit jean de brebeuf, who wrote the algonquin lyrics to it. and don’t get me started on “quelle est cette odeur agreable?”…

    also, one of my most amazing moments in church was attending mass in china in 1984 and joining with the congregation singing the latin creed (credo iii missa de angelis for the trainspotters among you) and realizing that catholic did mean universal.

  126. Nene says:

    When you you think the next strip will come out?
    This was run 4/4, but dated 4/18.



  127. Pam I says:

    I’d guess another 2 weeks – see AB’s note above re dates and sequencing.

  128. Ed says:

    I’ve pretty much lost what little respect I had for Sydney. The thing with Madeleine is getting “out of control” but she persists because she gets off on the subterfuge. This is Mo she’s doing it to, and I’m tired of Mo being the injured party without knowing it.

    Syd, it’s been real but you’ve stayed too long at the fair.

  129. annie k. says:

    Enough with the blog already. Where is strip 508?

  130. Deena in OR says:

    Annie…we in cyberworld are two strips ahead of the print world. (almost a month!) They got archived strips when we got 506 and 507. I bet Alison is playing catch up.

  131. Nene says:

    > Annie…we in cyberworld are two strips ahead of the print world. (almost a month!)

    OK…I wait impatiently. I wonder if Ginger will keep Syndney’s secret? Will it lead to another car crash if she does not? What would Mo do next? What would Orpah or Ellen Degeneres say about this?


  132. Rick says:

    I should have a more enlightened reaction, but my gut reaction to Ginger’s move out of the good ole commune is: “No! She can’t!” Even while I’m well aware that the commune’s glory days are pro’lly over. I mean, they all still live together, but their private lives have only gotten bigger and stronger [especially for Stuart and Sparrow, as parents].

  133. mlk says:

    a late entry . . .

    I’d like to see Jasmine and Janis join the household when Ginger leaves (it’s only a matter of time)

  134. David says:

    Am I missing something? I can’t find any newer episodes. #507 seems to wrap around to #1 and we are now into June, 2007. I hope there is nothing wrong, as I love DTWOF.

  135. David says:

    Oops, I see… The numbering is changing in a kind of weird way as Alison shifts to posting one strip a month…