DTWOF episode #523

March 4th, 2008 | Uncategorized

523 detail

A paean to my favorite Dr. Seuss book.

155 Responses to “DTWOF episode #523”

  1. Bulldoggrrl says:


  2. fruitfemme says:

    Maybe I *am* feeling lost because the kid is getting more independent. . . Nah. I just want another baby.

    Great strip. I have no idea how I wound up as Stuart!

  3. Al et al says:

    Thank you, Alison, for saving what has otherwise been a pretty crappy morning!

    My five-year-old still sneaks into my bed in the middle of the night. Fortunately, I’m too exhausted to notice.

  4. Mabel says:

    Stuart seriously needs to go back to work.

    Fabulous strip.

  5. DeLandDeLakes says:

    An inspirational tale about the birth of Dr. Seuss, for these anxious times-

    It all began when one Theodore Geisel was sitting in a bar in La Jolla, California, during the height of the mass hysteria that was the 1950s. He was so depressed about the state of the nation, that he began to make up rhymes, right there in the bar, to console himself.

    And thus Dr. Seuss came to be!

  6. byrdie says:

    I’m waiting for Sparrow to say, “No, I don’t want another one” and be done with it. J.R, lovely as she is, wasn’t planned. For all of Sparrow’s early talk about the miracle of childbirth, how wonderful it must be to feel a new life growing inside, how Toni’s aura was glowing when she was in labor, I notice that she doesn’t really seem quite that fascinated with parenthood unless J.R. is actively learning something — and that’s another 16 or so years in their house to witness that miracle.

    Perhaps Stuart should volunteer as a baby-cuddler for premies, get trained and licensed to work in day care, join Big Brothers or something. gah.

    As for Clarice, I love how the tables have turned. I remember the very early strips featuring these characters, where Clarice scolded Mo for whining about needing a love interest. hee hee. This is great!

  7. sunicarus says:

    Delightful strip, Alison. My favorite is the “The time for night-brushing of teeth is at hand.” Playful yet slightly ominous language. Perfect.

    DeLandDeLakes~Thanks for the inspirational tale.


  8. Duncan says:

    Dear Alison, is that post title a tease or just a late-night typo? 😎 Whichever it is, it’s a great episode.

    I looked up Nussbaum’s “Sleep of Reason”, and the subtitle is subtly suggestive: “Erotic Experience and Sexual Ethics in Ancient Greece and Rome”. Maybe Sidney’s sending her sizzling innamorata a signal? At least she’s not sampling Siegel’s “Suicide of Reason.”

  9. Alex the Bold says:

    Auggghhh! I can’t be reading this! I have two exams to study for! And Alison’s gonna be at Rutgers, and I’ll be taking one of those $(%*% exams when she’s there.

    O, bitter fate!

  10. Mrs. Tarquin Biscuitbarrel says:

    My book favorite too! Especially because my kids were all so sleep-averse… And that “co-sleeping” scene is a riot.

    “Up at Herkheimer Falls, where the great river gushes, and crashes down crags in great gargling gushes/The Herkheimer sisters are using their brushes/These falls are just grand for tooth-brushing beneath/If you happen to be up that way with your teeth…”

    yes, I guess I still know it all…

  11. Mrs. Tarquin Biscuitbarrel says:

    Good luck, Alex! and lucky you, to see Alison in person!

  12. Ellen Orleans says:

    Remembering a previous post about how long it takes to draw an episode, I particularly appreciate the white on black lettering. That must have added an extra hour to the strip’s creation. Gorgeous serifs.

  13. Jennifer says:

    Rhubarb wine, high-larious.

  14. Xena Fan says:

    Where will JR go when she becomes ready to wean herself out of her parents’ bed? If I remember correctly, all the other rooms are taken. Will there be pressure to more Lois or Clarice out in the future?

  15. Xena Fan says:

    Sorry, I meant ‘move’, not ‘more’.

  16. Dr. Empirical says:

    Clarice is obviously of the “If I drink it from a teacup, it doesn’t count as drinking” school of thought.

    I like the cross-hatching on the exterior shot. The contrast with the blacks and whites is quite engaging.

    I was disappointed, though, that there was no rhyme for “kvetch.”

  17. laura says:

    Gorgeous episode, thanks, thanks, thanks. I love the humanity of all the people (should it be “characters”? to me they are REAL): how they love each other, but at the same time yearn for space (Mo, Sparrow) or for something they can have only with others (a new love for Ginger, another baby for Stuart). Whatever it is, none of them is getting what they want at the moment. And, as it is so often the case, they all look like they are going the wrong way about getting what they need.

    On a different, inchoerent, and irrational note, the sleep of reason reminds me of Goya’s etching “El sueno de la razon produce monstruos” (the sleep/dream of reason brings forth monsters). Which doesn’t seem to fit in with Neussbaum book (or this episode), but came powerfully to my mind

  18. geogeek says:

    Sleep thoughts are spreading throughout the whole land.
    The time for night-brushing of teeth is at hand.
    The number of sleepers is steadily growing.
    Bed is where more and more people are going.
    It’s a great night for sleeping – it must be the air…
    *clearly this is a hidden contest to write the last line!*

    “But don’t try to sleep while you’re climbing the stairs.”
    “Sleeping is even preferred to affairs.”
    “People sleep everywhere, even Bel Aire.”
    “Disturb sleeping lesbians, all those who dare.”
    “Sleep in any position, don’t be doctrinaire.”

  19. The Cat Pimp says:

    The word that rhymes with kvetch is bletch.

    As for Mo. Just once I want to see her in plaid.


  20. Xena Fan says:

    I agree with The Cat Pimp. Please, AB, put Mo in plaid, pokla dots, anything! Even the Miami Vice look she was considering to wear to a dance (many, many years and strips ago)!

  21. Nickel Joey says:

    I found myself missing a final rhyme, too, geogeek.

    “So lie down, dear reader, and snore like a bear”?
    “Good night, all you sleepers asleep everywhere”?

  22. geogeek says:

    Nickle Joey, “all you sleepers asleep everywhere” is very Dr. Suess. Nice.

    “In plaid or in polka dots, sleep mends all cares.”

    For some reason, I find it much easier to get the scansion to come out right with a pluralized last word. Damn.

  23. bindweed says:

    HHHhhh-nyuh!! Sorry, Stuart, kids never get tierd of sleeping in their parent’s bed!! My 16 year old sister still sleeps in my mom’s bed nearly every night, and my 20 year old brother does when he’s home. I try it when I’m home, but my nearly 5 year old son of corse wants to sleep with me, and three is too many for that bed!

  24. Xena Fan says:


    How about “In plaid or polka dots, sleep mends every care.”

  25. Stacie Hanes says:

    Sydney’s reading Nussbaum! I love Nussbaum! I am a complete Nussbaum fangirl.

  26. hetero genus says:

    resolution for:
    “Clarice calling to kvetch”
    It’s amazing how much we relate to a sketch!
    She rinsed off her toothbrush with a yawn and a stretch.

    The last lines from Geogeek, Zena F and Nicle Joey cannot be improved upon, All excellent

  27. MikeSTL says:

    Re: DeLandDeLakes’ inspirational story, are you sure about the time frame? I know Theodor Geisel was active in the 1940s; one time at I saw a book of Geisel’s cartoons mocking Nazis, Fascists, Japanese militarists, &c. &c. &c. A lot of “Dr. Seuss'” later characters (Onceler, Lorax, Horton Who Heard a Who, &c.) were prefigured in those World War II-era cartoons.
    When did Theodor Geisel introduce the “Dr. Seuss” persona? Does anybody know? Calling all Dr. Seuss specialists! 🙂

  28. MikeSTL says:

    Sorry, that should have read, “. . . one time at *chain bookstore name deleted for poster’s security* . . .”

    Sorrysorrysorry. 😉

  29. Suzanonymous says:

    This one didn’t work for me for some reason, perhaps because I didn’t get very good sleep last night. :-/

    Laura, what a thoughtful observation (in the first paragraph)!

  30. Suzanonymous says:

    Although, about the strip, I must add, the art is wonderful. I particularly love J.R. in the first panel of the second row.

  31. MikeSTL says:

    Wikipedia reporteth (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dr._Seuss) that Theodor Geisel first began using the name “Seuss” to sign his work when, as an undergraduate at Dartmouth (Class of 1925) he was punished for throwing what amounted to a keg party (in violation of Prohibition) by being forced to resign from his extracurricular activities. Seuss was Geisel’s mother’s maiden name (and his official middle name), so young Geisel employed a little bit of subterfuge to get around the administration’s ban.
    “Dr. Seuss” apparently made his debut after Geisel’s graduation from Dartmouth, while working for the humo(u)r magazine, The Judge.
    Now that that issue is thoroughly beaten to death, we return you to your regularly-scheduled strip, now in progress. 🙂

  32. Ian says:

    There’s a new animated film out of Horton hears a who? by the peeps who did Ice Age. It looks good. AB has a definite gift for rhyming – remember the lewd limericks calendar strip?

    Ha, my first thought on reading this was the reversed-roles switch between Mo and Clarice. Prob ‘cos I was re-reading More Dykes lately …

  33. Ian says:

    Um, by the way, what happened to espisode #523????

  34. Jamus The Bartender says:

    Stuart, Stuart, listen to the lady.
    And i’m tellin’ ya, I don’t mean maybe.
    (Here I am, a single guy at forty, telling fictional single guy how to live his life. Dr. Phil would gobsmack me. Anyway, this was a terrific strip today.)

  35. Ian says:

    Dang it! I always make a mistake when I point out someone else’s. Karma, I guess …

  36. ksbel6 says:

    My 10 year-old still comes into my bed if she wakes up from a bad dream. I really kicked her out because she was just taking up too much room (pretty close to 8) and I wasn’t getting enough sleep. Of course, parents don’t usually get enough sleep 🙂

  37. Kristen says:

    J.R.’s sleep positions are beautiful. We finally trained our 1-year-old to sleep in his crib after a few months in our bed (we were weak and desperate for sleep). One morning he woke up, pulled up on the headboard, and, with a grin at me, sat down on his sleeping daddy’s face. And yes, he had a very poopy diaper.

  38. ksbel6 says:

    Hey, that funny sunglass guy is supposed to be the age eight…I don’t know how that got there!

  39. Suz says:

    I love it. And I keep trying to get the dialogue to scan.

    Sweetie, wake up, we agreed we would talk!
    Stuart, I’ve told you “no more” all along.
    But we could adopt!
    I’m too tired to think! Maybe you should consider
    daDAH dah dah DAH.

    Or something.

  40. Xena Fan says:

    Sweetie, wake up, we agreed we would talk!
    Stuart, no more and take a walk!

    Sweetie, I want another child!
    Stuart, remember when I was wild!

    Sweetie, I’ll pout!
    Stuart, Get Out!

    This is my “the conversation Sparrow should have had” version.

  41. anon says:

    Oh, I thought I had posted this earlier but maybe not. Did everyone see this? I remembered that someone around these parts is SNL-related. This is kind of funny and very sweet.


  42. June says:

    What a beautiful door in the first drawing! It’s great to see the characters developing a few creases around the eyes, but I also love the other ways they indicate their experience–like remembering affairs from 20 years ago!

  43. Elf says:

    Ms. B, can you do a strip based on “One Fish, Two Fish”? I have that one memorised… My sister and former brother-in-law and I even turned it into a mini-faux-Germaic opera…

  44. Ayala says:

    One of my favorite!

    I can’t believe clarice is mentioning that again.

  45. Rohmie says:

    Wow. Motherhood is turning Stuart into a huge, controling dick. Granted, he has always been a bit impulsive and he already has a distressing pattern of unilateral decision making (like selling the car without consulting Sparrow first), but it seems to be getting worse all the time.

    “I was disappointed, though, that there was no rhyme for kvetch.”

    Wretch? Retch? Could have worked in some baby puke with that second one. The first would ordinarily work well with Mo, but Clarice would be the best candidate in this instance.

    “Where will JR go when she becomes ready to wean herself out of her parents’ bed? If I remember correctly, all the other rooms are taken.”

    They can take a page from “For Better or Worse” and make the kid sleep in the high chair:


  46. jk says:

    It’s so nice to get into peoples’ bedrooms. And to see the characters reflecting on their conflicts and questions with eachother. Recently strips have often been about the conflicts without a lot of decompression.

  47. Dr. Empirical says:

    Amusing artifact of computer viewing: Scrolling down, I momentarily had only the top half of the “Don’t patronize me.” panel in view, so all I could see was Stuart saying that, and a hand smacking Sparrow on the forehead.

    I thought “Oh No! The comments thread is going to go INSANE!”

  48. Suz says:

    Sweetie, wake up, we agreed we would talk!
    Stuart, I’ve told you “no more” all along.
    But we could adopt!
    I’m too tired to think! Maybe you should consider
    Returning to work!
    But I’m wanting more kids!
    No! Don’t be a jerk.

    Okay, done.

  49. judybusy says:

    If Stuart really wants to talk more baby, he’s picked the *worst* time! She’s asleep, man! Why doesn’t he ask someone to babysit and take Sparrow out for dinner? I think he’s being pretty dumb in how he’s going about this. Aside from the fact he isn’t really listening to Sparrow, as far as I can tell.

  50. Katie says:

    Good grief! Stuart may in fact be a a self involved prick, but not because he wants more than one child!

    As a primary caregiver I know I’d go nuts if I had to entertain a solo kid all day – two or more is just a nicer family dynamic. What on earth is wrong about wanting kids? He’s obviously trying to negotiate with his spouse, as anyone would do in this situation. And he’s not insisting she go through another pregnancy. This may be an impass without solution, but if Sparrow vetoes the idea without taking Stuart’s wishes into consideration, she’s as much of a prick as he is.

  51. isrw says:

    Sleep of Reason has to be a Goya reference, either first- or second-hand.

    Kids sleeping in bed is something you miss like heck when it’s over.

  52. tas says:

    Will someone tell me, please, in what strip number(s) Clarice and Ginger have their affair? And why didn’t Toni leave her rear-end when it happened?

  53. lee says:

    wow… wanting a kid, wanting to talk about it means being a dick (and not in a good way)? really?

  54. anonney moose says:

    shouldn’t it be 523 not 524???
    the oval says 523, and the last one was 522.
    don’t mean to be so snarky….

  55. little gator says:

    “sleep with your cat, but don’t choke on the hair.”

    I know, but fur doesn’t rhyme.

  56. DeLandDeLakes says:


    Sorry about my inaccuracies. I got it secondhand from a friend who was studying in La Jolla (where there is a lot of stuff named after the good doctor). I think there is some truth to it, but obviously my timing was off. Oh well!

  57. woodstock says:

    Dr. Seuss gives me so much comfort even though I never read the sleep book. As usual, the details in the strip are amazing. Should mention now that my cartooning girlfriend covets your pens every time you’re picture with them? 🙂

  58. ready2agitate says:

    I love JR’s belly!! Wonderful rendering of the growing toddler age. Fun to see how much JR looks physically like Sparrow’s and Stuart’s child, too. Also love the cross-hatched gingerbread-looking house (um, did I say Ginger?). And kinda smiled at Mo’s cynical comment abt personals, esp. following Clarice’s remark about “quiet dinners” and “walks on the beach”…. (been there/done that)

    Oh, and I think AB has intentionally put eps out of order (in deference to the chaos of the pres. elections).

  59. Suz says:

    I just noticed the juxtaposition of Clarice’s cute mobile-phone headset and Mo’s old brick-style cordless phone. Not sure what the difference connotates, but I love the level of detail.

  60. Jain says:

    I was at the coast with girlfriends the weekend my 23 year old son came home to take his LSATs at the University of Oregon. “I think it gave me extra power,” he said, “to sleep in the bed I was born in before I took the test.”

  61. Colin Tedford says:

    Ooh, Suz just made me notice Mo’s phone changing color in the last panel! I shouldn’t even point it out, having done similar things several times in a much shorter cartooning career than Alison’s, but I never get to be an eagle-eyed fan.

    Sydney in bed there reminds me of my college roommate’s “Power Position” for studying. He would climb into bed with his books, pull up the covers, and be asleep within an hour. Eventually he would wake up a little, discard the books, and fall asleep for the night.

  62. MikeSTL says:

    DeLandDeLakes: Sorry, didn’t mean to be such a pedantic prick, it’s the history major in me. 😉 I think your friend may have had a point. Perhaps Theodor Geisel had established himself as a cartoonist before he got into the rhymes we’ve all come to love so much? Perhaps it was the dread of nuclear war* that made him want to retreat into something simple, like children’s books?

    *Quoth Mark Twain, the Sage of Hannibal, “History may not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”

  63. Ms. M. says:

    Long time lurker, first time poster.

    The Sleep Book is also my fave Dr. Suess, and contains my two fave Dr. S rhymes:

    (in ref to the Zizzer-Zoof salesmen)
    Tonight they’ve forgotten their feet are so sore,
    And that’s what the wonderful nighttime is for.

    and (apropos of the political climate these days)
    On a mountain half-way between Reno and Rome
    We have a machine in a plexiglass dome
    That listens and looks into everyone’s home.


  64. Dr. Empirical says:

    Seuss was an established cartoonist well before WWII. My favorite pieces of work from this early period were the Private Snafu cartoons he did with Chuck Jones and some of the other Warner Bros. regulars. Seuss was head writer on the project. In one, the Private gets drunk. His hallucinations are the types of creatures Seuss later made famous in his kids books.

  65. Hariette says:

    Ian & Ready2agitate —

    If you notice, the number after the title panel is 523 while the title of the post is 524. My guess is AB had a cat attempting to type as she posted this. This theory comes from the fact that these few lines have taken 5 minutes to complete due to my own furry assistant.

  66. mk says:

    I have to agree, there is nothing wrong with wanting another child and wanting to talk about it. Sparrow owes him her attention on this one, after all they are partners. Maybe Sparrow needs to take a day off from work and hire a sitter so they can talk this thing out. That scene looks like the classic “let’s talk about this later” where later morphs into “I’m too tired to talk now”. A scheme I and my partner have done plenty.

  67. dzieger says:


    The funny sunglasses guy is a result of the blog software translating 8 followed by an end-parenthesis as the emoticon “smiley face with sunglasses.”

    Our kids, at 5 and 8 don’t officially co-sleep with us anymore, but pretty much every morning we wake to find the older one on the floor beside the bed and the little one curled up between us in the bed. The depiction of J.R.’s sleep positions is dead on.

    AB draws and writes kids (of all ages) with astonishing accuracy and insight for someone who’s not a parent herself. Or even for someone who is, come to think of it. I love reading the strips from around 10 years ago, because of that era Raffi reminds me so much of my own 5-year-old, not just the physicality, speech and behavior, but even the facial expressions.

    How the hell does she do that?

  68. Al et al says:

    “It’s Clarice, calling to kvetch,
    And reminisce ’bout her brief turn as a letch.”

  69. ksbel6 says:


    In regards to Ginger and Clarice’s affair…I’m pretty sure it was in the second DTWOF book (the first that involved the group), but it may have been the third. It was long ago, in a decade far, far away 🙂 I’m pretty sure it would have been the late 80s. It was a one time deal, with lots of tears and Toni decided to forgive her. It just shows though, how rocky that relationship was from the beginning.

  70. Ginjoint says:

    I still want to know what castanets have to do with elevator operators.

    Geogeek, on the subject of a rhyming last line, I’m trying to work out something involving lesbians ditching their flannel pajamas to sleep bare. I’m getting nowhere, though.

    And, speaking as an adoptee, I hope Stuart doesn’t dismiss the social and psychological aspects of adoption, especially if he’s thinking of doing it internationally.

  71. Ellen O. says:

    I noticed a new link on this blog for Waste Free Living, which features a smart, good-looking artist/business woman who is NOT wearing a blonde wig and over-sized Elton John glasses, yet, otherwise, looks strikingly familiar.

    Is this the blog equivilent of bringing her home to meet the family?

  72. Ginjoint says:

    For comics lovers – hate the banality of “Garfield”? Try “Garfield Minus Garfield” at http://garfieldminusgarfield.tumblr.com/

    When you yank Garfield out of the strip, it becomes something else entirely.

  73. Ginjoint says:

    Damn, Ellen, that was a good catch! The Moose, Revealed.

  74. Lea says:

    Haha, she seems to be good fun:
    Quote: Compost, I love you, as if you were my girlfriend!
    Good Choice Alison :-).

  75. iara says:

    Waste not, want not! Ellen O., we seem to zero in on the same things. I had just noticed that too. I assumed everyone else already knew, and that I was just slow to catch on.

    Hi there, AB’s shy girlfriend! (don’t know what your nickname is on this blog -maybe one of the regulars?) You are really cool and I wonder what your next get-up will be. Moose, blonde wig… hard act to follow!

  76. ready2agitate says:

    AB & the Compost Maven up in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G! (oops I just reverted to about JR’s age…) (non-US folks – that’s a US children’s sing-song when you find two people you think are being lovebirds). Holly’s blog is so refreshing! (especially since I live in the city.) Love it.

  77. ninjahobbit says:

    The paean thing is not a typo- it is a Greek song. Check it out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paean

  78. Rohmie says:

    “Sparrow owes him her attention on this one, after all they are partners.”

    Except that *Stuart* doesn’t do that very much with *Sparrow*, which was exactly my point. It may be a harsh exaggeration to say he sees her as a baby making machine; but despite the domestic bedtime reading tableau, I wonder how much quality downtime they enjoy together if she is so exhausted. It’s hard not to hear him saying “I need another baby: This one doesn’t work anymore.” His attitude seems selfish and immature. He needs to graduate from liking kittens to liking cats.

    If Sparrow gives in, MO should rant about the population bomb and point out that this isn’t exactly sustainable living.

  79. Virginia Burton says:

    Hey Ginjoint, you must be too young to know that elevators in nice office buildings and department stores used to be operated by people in white gloves who took you to the correct floor and knew what was on each floor. Quite often there was a bank of elevators and a supervisor who wielded something that sounded like a castanet that would tell individual operators to close the doors and head on up.

    But what made you ask about that? I can’t find any mention of it in this thread. Yikes! I hate it when I miss something!

  80. little gator says:


    now I want a kitten!

    But my cat would never allow it. And she was here first.

  81. Rohmie says:

    “now I want a kitten!”

    They have their uses:

  82. LJR says:

    I suspect that the 524 has something to do with that being the episode that Allison just finished 😀

    I keep reading about (and watching other people live) Attachment Parenting… but cosleeping is working its way into the list of things that are scary to me, mostly because of how much trouble I have sleeping with just one other person in the bed. I gotta give credit to Sparrow for keeping up with it just as long as they have — when as I recall there’s a guest room in the House of Wayward Adults that could probably be appropriated (didn’t Janis stay there at one point a few years ago?)

  83. Ginjoint says:

    THANK you, Virginia! I do know about elevator operators (I’m 41 – too young to have seen one, but old enough to know), and in the “Beebo Brinker” thread, Minnie mentioned something about castanets being used. That part I did not know about. So thanks.

    And? I work in a very old department store – I’ve often wished we would bring back elevator operators, just for the charm of it. Here in Chicago, the Fine Arts Building in the Loop still has one – he’s been there for over 50 years.

  84. Scotia says:

    I wonder if the situation were reversed (primary caretaker woman wanting another kid and breadwinner man opposed) if people would be so judgmental. Of course, Sparrow is basically right, though she is patronizing Stuart. Who needs to be weaned from having J.R. in the bed: J.R. or Stuart?

    As a non-parent, the idea of finding one’s school-aged children in one’s bed in the morning serves only to reinforce my satisfaction with that particular choice.

  85. Scotia says:

    p.s. does Mo SLEEP in her striped turtleneck?

  86. Cynj says:

    Love the strip – I’ve had the pleasure of getting “Whapped” by the offspring in the middle of the night!

  87. Alex the Bold says:

    Back from the second exam (a disaster)! And, no, I didn’t get to see Alison. I was too worn out from trying to explain feudalism!

    And I love Clarice’s look when she’s looking at the personals. It’s exactly mine! Who ARE these people with their walks on the beach? Is everyone trapped in a feminine hygiene commercial? How ’bout the ad that starts off “I don’t want to die alone.”?

  88. Minnie says:

    Exquisite! Thank you very much.

  89. iara says:

    Why is Stuart reading the book and not Sparrow? Wouldn’t it be natural for Sparrow to stay awake at least long enough to read to JR, since she hasn’t seen her all day?
    [ok, I know, I am reacting in an emotional way to the choices made by fictional characters]

  90. Minnie says:

    Oh Virginia and Ginjoint,

    Virginia gives a wonderful description of the lead elevator operator’s castanets. The elevator operators’ operator. I’d been wracking my brain trying to form words to describe it.

    I guess different messages were being clicked out, like
    “Elevator three, rise up”, or more rarely, “meet me under the bridge at midnight”.

  91. LM says:

    I’m trying to remember. Does the Starter’s clicker show up in the flic “The Apartment”? The heroine was, I believe an operator.

  92. laura says:

    Iara, good point. We are all so busy bashing Stuart we overlook Sparrow’s weaknesses.

    He, granted, deserves some bashing, but in my opinion not much more than anybody else, in the strip or elsewhere. And Sparrow is SO absorbed in her job (and/or, I keep suspecting, in some cute co-worker or correspondant, but that might be my European bias).

    Then again, both J.R. and Sparrow are so soundly asleep, it feels a little like Stuart is reading for himself, a little like it were the right thing to do if you are a responsible father and partner.

  93. Dr. Empirical says:

    I think the correct term for elevator operators’ operator is “dispatcher.”

  94. laura says:

    and Scotia, no, Mo doesn’t sleep in her turtleneck (we have seen her night outfits before), it must be just because she picked up the phone before she was ready for bed.

  95. Ginjoint says:

    L.M. – I’m sorry, I’ve never seen The Apartment, so I don’t know.

  96. Dr. Empirical says:

    I remember a scene in The Apartment in which an older woman was directing traffic at the elevator bank. She directed people to the proper elevator, and when each elevator was sufficiently packed, gave the order to go up. She was only glimpsed in passing, but it looked like a high-pressure job. I don’t believe there were castanets involved.

    Here’s another unnecessary reference to a past thread: I spent much of the day yesterday trying to solve a quadratic equasion. My 8th grade laziness finally came back to haunt me!

  97. Alex the Bold says:

    Speaking of Stuart and Sparrow’s “discussion.”

    First, I notice that Joan Rivers’ comment (or is it Erma Bombeck?) comes to mind: Never go to bed angry. Stay up and fight.

    I don’t think Stuart and Sparrow are fighting, but I think that when you’re lying in bed, almost unconscious, you tend to not bother with the niceties; you spit out exactly what you mean and what you’d sneak up on in normal, polite conversation.

    Sparrow, I think, got it exactly right: Stuart feels lost because JR is no longer some adoring little parasite. And I think Stuart knows Sparrow got it right, at least subconsciously.

    Should Sparrow be reading to JR? Well, I realize there’s lots of arguments about how Stuart works just as hard as Sparrow. Sorry, I just don’t buy it.

    Yes, keeping house is exhausting work. Whadya do today? The laundry, the dishes, tidied up, threw out the trash, dusted, stripped the beds, vacuumed, made lunch, etc., sounds like it should take, what, 45 minutes? But it takes hours and hours! And it IS tiring! But I’ve never stood home, and said to myself, “Christ, I’ve got that vacuuming done or Mr. Mooney’s gonna fire my ass if he sees me having a cup of coffee and surfing the Internet.” Stuart definitely has the longer end of the stick on the deal. And it isn’t like Stuart is TRAPPED. Oh, poor Stu, no marketable skills of any kind.

    If Sparrow isn’t involved enough in the one child, why does Stuart push/nag/discuss having a second child? Leave the woman the hell alone, Stuart. What is this fetish he’s got going on? Sparrow ought to mention the carbon footprint of a child. That’ll quiet Stuart down.

  98. Rosa says:

    I have a partner who works >60 hours a week (except when I have mandatory overtime at my job, when I demand that he work no more than 9 hours a day). He falls asleep reading to our son at least twice a week.

    It’s totally possible that *was* the time they had set aside to talk, and Sparrow worked a few hours late and they ended up smushing all the evening activities into half an hour instead of 2 hours – that’s what happened to my family last night.

    And also, it’s not fair to Sparrow to say she’s not involved enough. She may not be home, but that doesn’t mean she’s a hands-off parent.

    Truthfully, if one partner is working those kinds of hours, it’s *really* hard for the other parent to work full time. Together, we put in 100+ hours a week of paid work. It’s exhausting, and because we don’t want to cut our parenting time or *all* of our social time, what gets cut is couple time and sleep time.

    I was very lucky that I found a flexible job, because even though my partner has lots of PTO saved up, he’s rarely willing to take it. And our extended-family obligations have only escalated since we had a child, too.

  99. jen in california says:

    I have absolutely no competency to address Alex and Rosa’s worthy points on who is working harder Stuart or Sparrow, considering that I have no children and my fantasies of stay at home bliss require only that I occasionally clean the toilet (unlike now, yuck).

    No matter whether Stuart’s intentions are totally utopian (“We should bring another child into this world to love unconditionally!”) or slightly selfish (“I’m Bored! Entertain me with another tiny person!”), I still think he of all people should be sensitive to the emotional triggers that women STILL have faced with feeling pressure to bear children.

    Yes, these are the beautiful sublime ’00’s, with the controversy over the pill and abortion long behind us (Cough! Cough! Ironic Comment!). But even us 3rd-wavers still bear the cultural scars and fear of being pressured/cornered/medically coerced/forced to have children we just don’t want.

    While I totally agree that both Sparrow and Stuart need to communicate better, and that Sparrow shouldn’t be so offhand with Stuart’s feeling, I also completely understand previous commenters feelings that Stuart is being a dick. I don’t know what Stuart’s angle is here, but IMHO he’s accumulating major negative karma for his cultural insensitivity, at the very least.

    You’d think in Sparrow’s line of work she might catch onto some bad “argument over control of body” vibes and try to discuss it. But then again, over half my family members are some kind of psychologist/therapist and none of them exhibit any signs of self-awareness whatsoever.

    Considering that, I guess I’m giving props to AB again for realistic characters 🙂

  100. Andrew B says:

    If Stuart is talking adoption, Sparrow ought to be willing to talk to him. He does the large majority of the child care — in obvious contrast to the division of labor, so to speak, in a pregnancy. Sparrow’s diagnosis of his psychological state may or may not be correct, but he’s absolutely right that it’s patronizing for her to respond that way instead of addressing the idea he’s raising.

    I still don’t like Stuart and I still think he needs to figure out what was wrong with his attitude toward Sparrow when she was pregnant, and with selling the car. But right now he is talking to her about a project in which he will be doing most of the work. What’s wrong with that? Child care is one of the most important tasks one can do. There are lots of kids bouncing from foster placement to foster placement who need the stability of a good adoptive home. Why do we assume Stuart wants to adopt a third world baby, with all the problems that raises, as opposed to a kid from foster care or an orphan?

    If the conversation does move forward, Lois and perhaps Clarice need to be in on it too.

  101. LJR says:

    Actually, I’m slightly surprised that J.R. isn’t being included in the conversation about another baby.

  102. JenK says:

    There’s also the humor value in the man wanting the baby and the woman saying “no”… stereotypically it’s the woman who wants babies and the man going along with it.

  103. Deena in OR says:

    LJR-I hear you, but perhaps *they’re* trying to have the conversation first before bringing a toddler with limited rationality into the discussion.

  104. LJR says:

    Deena in OR — Having the conversation just among the grown-ups first definitely strikes me as the sensible approach.

    That might be why I would have more-than-half-expected Stuart to not take it, and include J.R. as a full player in the baby discussion… I now (particularly after #516) assume that if a good idea can be taken to a less rational extreme, that Stuart will take it there.

  105. tas says:

    Thanks, ksbel6!

  106. j.b.t. says:

    I sleep in a striped turtleneck!!! (It’s cold here in Minnesota). Maybe I should send in a picture to the look a like contest…

    And speaking of MN, I just saw Alison here tonight at the U of M. She was, as usual, fabulous and smart. I talked to her afterwards to thank her for the strip and this blog, and I am happy to report that she had only kind words for us all. (She likes us! She really likes us!)


  107. j.b.t. says:

    Ellen O. – where did you find the link for waste free living? I can’t find it on the site…

    Thanks, J.

  108. Rachel says:

    It was Phyllis Diller who said “Don’t go to bed angry; stay up and fight.” (Research: I Googled that quotation. Also googled Phyllis Diller and found a link to 39 quotations by her. This site corroborates the quote, but it’s not phrased exactly the same.

  109. Rachel says:

    Sorry–hit “submit” before adding the link: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/p/phyllis_diller.html

  110. laura says:

    Loved the waste free living site. Am looking for something like that in Italy, anybody knows? The municipality I live in does not collect separately compostable stuff, and I use organically grown vegetable and fruit, it pains me to throw away even part of it (also given how expensive the stuff is).

    I remember my (extremely urban) grandmother doing some artisanal, limited composting, but she had large balconies, while, alas, I live in a neighborhood where (curiously) buildings only have windows.

  111. Mothra in NYC says:

    Love this.

    Here’s my entry in the rhymed-and-metered-version stakes. Of course any such effort would ruin the perfect tone of all these characters’ dialogue, and would make it impossible for AB to fit all the words in. But as a card-carrying member of the OCD brigade, I had to give it a shot …

    S: Who’s that? It’s so late!
    M: Clarice, I just betcher …
    S: Bemoaning her fate …
    M: She’s become quite a kvetcher.

    St: Sweetie, wake up! We agreed we could talk.
    Sp: I’m tired, so tired … Have a baby? I’d balk.
    St: Okay, then, let’s see now … we could try adoption.
    Sp: Oh, Stuart, you’re grabbing at any old option
    ’cause J.R.’s got bigger and you’re feeling lost …
    Does her independence have too big a cost ?
    If you went back to work … C’mere and lie down …
    St: Don’t patronize me! I am NOT some big clown!
    Sp: Ow ow, JR, ow ow, my poor head!
    Oh when can we wean her right out of this bed?!?!?
    {It’s a great night for sleeping. It must be the air … }
    Whenever she does, it’s her own damn affair!
    C: Oh Mo, oh Mo, have these people been drinking?
    They want “walks on the beach”; what could they be thinking?
    And “dinners for two” … they’re all lost in confusion!
    M: Oh, personal ads are so much mass delusion.
    C: My sleep here is weird … this room is the one
    Where Ginger and I had, oh, way too much fun
    some twenty years back in our secret affair
    with Toni away for that funeral, not here …
    And now I just feel like a loser.
    M: You drinking?
    C: Does rhubarb wine make me a boozer?
    M: I’m thinking …
    Go to sleep.

    {Good night.}

  112. Ellen O. says:


    On the home page, scroll down with an eye to the right side of the screen. Under ARCHIVES, there’s a section called LINKS. It’s the third link.

    Or simply go to http://www.wastefreeliving.com/

  113. the moose says:

    I just have to say: that was mighty impressive sleuthing. Jeezum crow, this crowd doesn’t miss a beat! My hat (er…antler and wig?) is off to this blog community for your wonderful blend of wit, gossip, astute political, personal, and creative discourse, and of course, appreciation for Alison’s work. Glad to join your ranks.

  114. Alex the Bold says:

    Mothra! That was inspired!

    I’m envious.

  115. an australian in london says:

    “First comes the kissing, then comes the marriage, then comes the baby in the carriage”
    (I guess it’s an international kids’ rhyme. I always wondered about these things, how they migrate from school to school, even country to country. Maybe when kids change schools. – someone should write a thesis on that – “the effect of the new kid on international playground culture.”)
    NB I am not suggesting that AB and the Compost Maven should get married, or have a baby, or keep it in a carriage, or have it sleep in their own bed… unless they want to.
    PS what’s a maven?

  116. bcgal says:

    Australian in london, maven is Yiddish, and means someone with specialized knowledge, an expert.

    We had a slightly different version of the kissing rhyme, when I was a kid: (girl’s name) and (boy’s name) sittin’ in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G! First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes (boy’s name) pushing a baby carriage!

    At that time (I’m talking early 60s) the idea of a male pushing a baby carriage was supposed to be particularly hilarious.

  117. Dr. Empirical says:

    I thought the term “maven” was gender-specific. No?

    And isn’t the Korean word for “girlfriend” pronounced “moose”? I think so, but the actual translation may be something less complimentary, like “concubine”. In which case, no offense intended!

    Either way, Welcome to the moose! Join in anytime!

  118. laura says:

    Definitely: welcome to the moose (even though I am as jealous as one can be!!!). And great website and wonderful and inspirational idea!

  119. bcgal says:

    Dr. Empirical, I just consulted with a friend who’s a Yiddishist, re “maven” being gender-specific, and she says,
    “Maven is basically gender-neutral. You could say, in Yiddish “mavente” (MAY-ven-teh) for a woman, but it’s not necessary, especially not when that word is appearing in English where gender agreement is not a grammatical necessity.”

  120. DaneGreat says:

    We had a version of the rhyme that took things out of a tree and into a more realistic venue:

    (girl’s name) and (boy’s name) sitting in a car:
    are they kissing? yes they are!
    (boy’s name) falls out, and (girl’s name) saves his life,
    they belong husband and wife!

  121. Maggie Jochild says:

    Mothra, truly excellent. You worked HARD on that, I can tell.

  122. ready2agitate says:

    So, who among our beloved cast is most likely to get the DT’s from being off her/his/hir email for a briefly extended (oxymoron?) period? Answer: Sydney!

  123. Minnie says:

    Dr. Seuss’s “The 500 hats of Bartholomew Cubbins” was first published in 1938.

    The hats saved Bartholomew from the executioner’s scary looking axe, which, though bigger, resembled the logo in the window of “Madwimmin Books”.

  124. Ginjoint says:

    I thought “maven” referred to a woman too, but I guess not. I didn’t even realize it was Yiddish. Dr. Empirical, care to share the address of your pop culture site? I’d love to visit.

    “the effect of the new kid on international playground culture.” That is great. As is your work, Mothra!

  125. Firefly says:

    Do Sydney’s glasses disappear in the last frame because the weight of the book bent them into a paperwieght? Mine usually just jam into my eyeballs when I fall asleep under a book. Sydney’s books must be heavier.
    I adore the illustration of the sleeping J.R. in the frame when her arm has just whapped Sparrow. You have perfectly captured the essence of a sleeping kid! The bump of her nose and the softly curved cheek blending with the jawline and tiny mouth – I can almost hear her buzzing away snoring.
    And you reminded me how glad I am my little one has now moved on to a loft bed in another room. Ouch.

  126. Minnie says:

    I, too was charmed by the various sleepers, would-be sleepers and their somnolent positions.

    About the executioner’s ax in Dr. Seuss’s “500 hats…”
    My memory may be playing tricks, but a little while ago I was browsing an old Currier & Ives book, and there in Plate 36 is “the Queen of the Amazons attacked by a lion”. The lion is biting her horse’s neck, and the queen is swinging a double-bitted weapon that looks exactly like the “Madwimmin Books” logo.

  127. The Other Andi says:

    OK, I can’t resist a little promotion… the Dartmouth College Library has a Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss) Room. It’s a very inviting little quiet study space with a nice exhibit of items related to Seuss’ life and career and a portrait of him by Ray Kinstler in which Geisel himself drew the Cat in the Hat. You can hear more about the Geisel Room by calling the library’s audio tour at 603-283-6890, then pressing 14 followed by the # key.

  128. Dr. Empirical says:

    Ginjoint, I’ve plugged my column on this site often enough to border on rudeness, but since you asked, it’s at popthought.com. My column is called The Doctor Is In, and is archived at http://www.popthought.com/archives.asp?CMID=26

    I mostly write about music, but occasionally write about comics. Through my comics connections, I was lucky enough to score an advance copy of Fun Home months before it came out, and wrote a glowing review long before I realized that it would be so widely acclaimed. The archive also includes a writeup of Alison’s presentation at last year’s New York Comic Con.

  129. Maggie Jochild says:

    Minnie, the double-bladed axe is called a labyris. (Same root word as labia and labyrinth, I believe.) It was and remains a symbol of matriarchal cultures that existed prior to male domination and christianity coming along to set the world hurtling toward destruction. Check out Knossos, for example. Or http://www.glsenco.org/Resources/GLBT%20History/labyris.htm Some of us have worn them around our necks for 30 years. Some of us have life-sized ones. There was a Labyris Books long ago, which is one of the things that Madwimmin Books evokes.

  130. Joy says:

    Maybe Stuart just needs to shop. He could try a Utilikilt:


  131. Daniel says:

    I too read the Dr. Seuss books to my children and enjoyed the rhymes and strangeness. However, most of his female characters are unsympathetic (In “The cat in the hat”, the mother is mean and the sister wants to rat on her brother), or if my memory serves well, bland and obedient girls, or simply absent. Not gender balanced, nor gender friendly.

  132. Liza Cowan says:

    I think that Labyris Books was the first women’s bookstore. It was in Greenwich Village, (where Beebo Brinker *lived*) In those days, the 1970’s, most feminist Lesbians wore a labyris, or wrote about them, or drew them, or had tatoos of them, or whatever. They appeared on magazine and book covers, rubber stamps, buttons, record albums. They were the smiley faces of a generation of Lesbians.

    How fast collective memory fades, alas.

  133. Maggie Jochild says:

    Liza, I just found your Buttons post, with the labyris info, at your website! I’m going to comment there in a sec, but just wanted to give others a chance to see the buttons — it’s at http://seesaw.typepad.com/blog/2008/03/buttons.html

    I didn’t know that Labyris Books was the first women’s bookstore, live and learn. My own copper labyris (the necklace one) was made by Julie Springwater; she had a booth at Michigan, I don’t know where she was from, but I thought hers were the best I ever saw. In case she reads this blog, too — hi, Julie, thanks for your craft.

  134. Liza Cowan says:

    Well thanks Maggie. Speaking of International Women’s Day, and also of DTWOF readers’ blogs, I hope people check out your Harriet Tubman/IWD post at http://www.maggiesmetawatershed.blogspot.com

  135. Ginjoint says:

    Thanks, Dr. Empirical – I didn’t mean for you to repeat yourself; I just didn’t remember you posting it before. My memory is getting creaky in my old age.

  136. Minnie says:

    Maggie and Liza, thank you very very much. I appreciate your generosity with information. Thanks for the links. I love the buttons, and am thrilled to see the reference to Harriet Tubman, whose heroic story encouraged me in difficult times.

  137. ready2agitate says:

    Dang, I knew there had to be some more Maggie Jochild out there somewhere. I’ve bookmarked your blog and will now make a habit of visiting periodically, although not always announced, mind you. Guess I’m kinda slow on the blogosphere, but I’m learning….

  138. iara says:

    I did not have Dr Suess’s sleep book… until yesterday. You see, my daughter is already 13 so I felt a bit funny getting it for her.
    Still, we cuddled up and read it last night. (we had already read the DTWOF paean). Being a teenager, my daughter is pretty cynical pretty much all the time (normal, I guess), but when we got to the end of Dr Seuss’s book, she said “I will be the “ninety-nine zillion nine-trillion and third sleeper. Good night mommy.”

    AB, you can never guess in how many ways your work enriches our lives.

  139. Jana C.H. says:

    I had some rhubarb wine with dinner last night. Goes well with chicken pot pie.

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

  140. Duncan says:

    Dr E, the Korean word for “girlfriend” is pronounced more like yaw-ja-chingu. I can’t find anything beginning with “mu” in my practical Korean-English dictionary that comes close to either “girlfriend” or “concubine” in meaning, and it doesn’t include “concubine” in the English-Korean section. But I don’t think that a Korean boy who wanted to keep his girlfriend would call her his concubine. This sounds like that bogus claim that went around to the effect that “squaw” meant concubine or whore. (Further, from what I know, though I’m hardly fluent, a Korean word spelled M-U-S would be pronounced closer to “moot.”)

    In any case, welcome to the Moose, the yeojachingu!

  141. shadocat says:

    Duncan, if my couch-potato memory serves me right, didn’t the soldiers on the “M.A.S.H.” TV series refer to their girlfriends as “my moose?” That’s where I first heard the expression.

  142. Maggie Jochild says:

    According to the New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, a moose in the Korean war referred to a girlfriend, mistress or prostitute — from the Japanese musume

    I think it’s safe to say, this is a perforative term for women. (Again. What a shock.)

  143. Maggie Jochild says:

    Just to be clear, I’m NOT suggesting anyone here, including Alison, was deliberately using a perjorative term for women. Just validating that moose was used during the Korean War era (as Dr. E and Shado correctly remembered) and that during that time, it was perjorative. Now we know.

  144. Dr. Empirical says:

    I thought it might be a less than flattering term, although I can imagine Sidney and Mo playing a game of “Martha Stewart and the Moose.”

  145. Ian says:

    In Britain, being called a ‘moose’ is just another way of calling you ugly.

    I always thought mooses (is that the right plural?) were cute myself …

  146. Jana C.H. says:

    I haven’t looked it up, but I think the plural of “moose” is “moose”. I’ve always liked “meese”, but that’s just me.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith JcH: Those who can’t write poetry write prose; those who can’t write prose, write free verse; those who can’t write free verse use emoticons.

  147. judybusy says:

    Mothra, may I add my “you’re awesome with a side of awesome” in response to your rhyme! Well done!

  148. Dr. Empirical says:

    Arlo Guthrie has a fun children’s book (though not on the level of a Seuss) called Mooses Come Walking. It’s illustrated by his friend Alice, who used to own a restaurant.


    Seusses come walking
    up over the hill.

    Seusses come walking.
    They rarely stand still.

    Seusses come writing
    in rhythm and rhyme.

    Seusses come writing
    like they do all the time.

    Seusses draw pictures
    of sneetches and whos.

    Seusses draw pictures
    that cure all our blues.

    When the whole world is sleeping
    if you lie very still,
    then you’ll see the Seusses
    come over the hill.

  149. Jana C.H. says:

    Dr. E–

    Superb! No free verse or emoticons from you!

    Jana C.H.
    Saith JcH: It’s called light verse because all the heavy work is done by the poet.

  150. genevieve says:

    I’ve only skimmed the comments but isn’t anyone else feeling frickin’ old that Clarice and Ginger’s affair was 20 YEARS AGO?!?! Oy.

    God Stuart is tiring. I really wouldn’t mind seeing a few strips with Sparrow and NO Stuart. I feel like she’s been eclipsed in this strip by Stuart and his increasingly overbearing whinging.

  151. Pope Snarky Goodfella OTUC, POEE says:

    Hail Eris!

    Here’s the book I’m (re-re-)reading now: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stand_on_Zanzibar

    Stuart needs to read it. Oh, how he needs to read it. Most of us humans need to read it, for that matter…


  152. Pope Snarky Goodfella OTUC, POEE says:

    Hail Eris!

    ready2agitate parenthesised: “(non-US folks – that’s a US children’s sing-song when you find two people you think are being lovebirds).”

    (In keeping with the general tone of this thread, from _Puss In Boots_:) “Ohhhh no it isn’t!” Not a *US* children’s song…;-{P}


  153. Pope Snarky Goodfella OTUC, POEE says:

    Hail Eris!

    Yeah, um, never mind.


  154. an australian in london says:

    Thanks Bcgal. Mavens ahoy!

  155. b9476d6ce5b3 says: