Current Events and Old Peanuts
One day the CEO of Kroger, the company that owns Smith's grocery stores, asked the board of directors, "Gentlemen, what can we do to make our self-checkouts more annoying? Currently, as we all know, when a person identifies himself and the fact that he has shopped at our store hundreds of times by scanning his shopper's card at a self-checkout, it nonetheless insists on repeating every instruction on its use as if he's never heard them before and can't read. That surely must be annoying, but I think we can do better. Any thoughts?"
The room was silent for a moment. Then one man, who had been waiting his entire life for just such a stroke of genius, raised his hand. "Sir," he said, "What if the machine not only repeated every instruction, but also spoke aloud the price of every single item that was scanned, and the amount of every discount, where applicable, that the shopper was getting with his shopper's card, and the total? Even though we'd still have all those numbers actually on the screen like we used to, but you know, maybe he can only read Roman numerals?"
The room was silent for a moment longer as the CEO stroked his chin. Then he shook his head, not in rejection but in wonderment. "That would be a level of annoyingness seldom achieved outside of a customer support hotline. I'm giving us all raises."
I'm assuming that's more or less what happened, anyway, because no one could possibly do something that annoying unintentionally.
Norma McCorvey, the "Jane Roe" of Roe vs. Wade, died a week ago, and in the aftermath I learned more about her. I already knew the basics of her story - that she lied about having been raped, that she was merely a pawn in something larger that would have happened regardless, that the court decision was moot for her because her child was two years old by the time it came out, and that some time later she had a complete change of heart and became "dedicated to spending the rest of my life undoing the law that bears my name." I didn't know that she was bisexual, that her early adult years were lonely and neurotic and spent on the fringes of society going from one lousy job to another struggling to survive, that her change of heart stemmed from a conversion to Christianity, or that she was alienated from and hated by both sides of the culture wars because she was a pro-life bisexual person. An interesting woman with an interesting life, to be sure.
In other abortion-related news, and this is a bit older but I was preoccupied with the refugee ban and then I forgot because I was tired, Planned Parenthood (which, as a friendly reminder that you probably won't get anywhere else, is still in big trouble with Congress for violating federal law and good taste) has quietly removed mentions of "prenatal care" from several of its websites after Live Action made calls to several clinics around the country who explained that they do not, in fact, offer prenatal care. They don't need to because they offer abortions. It would have been nice of them to not lie about that in the first place, but of course their highly exaggerated reputation as an essential and irreplaceable source for all women's healthcare needs takes priority over little things like "the truth". (It turns out that Snopes, a website that was apparently trustworthy at one point, feels the same way.)
I like "Peanuts" all right - anyone who doesn't love Snoopy or Woodstock or Linus isn't human - but I have to confess that as far as comic strips go I've never found most of it particularly funny. Most of the punchlines don't seem to be actual jokes. As much as I love Charlie Brown closing his eyes and saying "I can't stand it... I just can't stand it!", that's not an actual joke. So when I found one of the first ever "Peanuts" books at work, titled simply "Peanuts" and originally published in 1952, and noted with surprise how funny the first couple comics were, I was fascinated. I was familiar with how the characters looked at this early stage but not how they behaved and interacted. Since it was going to end up in the invalid tote anyway I read it during lunch before putting it there. The only characters at this stage are Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Shermy, Violet, (non-Peppermint) Patty, and Schroeder. And Charlie Brown's mom, I suppose, who at one point is heard yelling offscreen in a normal voice instead of "wah wah wah". Weird stuff.
This incarnation of Charlie Brown, occasionally just "Charlie" to his friends, has self-esteem and a bit of a mischievous streak - he opens the book yelling (paraphrase) "It's morning, mom and dad! Up and at 'em! Let's go! Rise and shine!" and then turns to the reader and says, "Boy, wouldn't you hate to have me around your house in the morning?" (Why, yes. Yes I would. You wouldn't be there for very long, if you catch my drift.) When Patty asks him if he thinks she's beautiful, he says, "Well, it's no secret you're getting on in years... but if I squint and cock my head like this..." As she chases him, he remarks to the reader, "It's risky, but I get my laughs!" That catchphrase is repeated in another comic later on. Apparently his confidence was somehow linked to his ability to break the fourth wall, and he lost them both at the same time. Poor good old Charlie Brown.
Both of the girls vacillate between snubbing, mocking, and idolizing him, depending on their fickle female whims or whatever joke the cartoonist is trying to tell, I suppose. For example, one time Charlie Brown wonders how long it takes to shave, and Shermy says he supposes that depends on the size of one's face, and Violet interjects, "In that case, it would take Charlie Brown three hours!" At another point she also plants the seed for a future running gag (pun intended) when she holds a football and tells Charlie Brown to run up and kick it, though she panics and drops it by accident at the last minute, then wonders why he didn't kick it. In the strangest strip of the book, yet one of my favorites, she complains that he likes Snoopy more than he likes her. He assures her that isn't true. She says, "I bet you don't even have a picture of me in your room anymore." He assures her that he still does. He leads her into his room and shows her the wall where he has a small picture of her... next to an enormous picture of Snoopy.
Ah, Snoopy. He looks different, of course, more like a puppy with his cute little upturned nose, and he demonstrates above-average intelligence but never "speaks" or has fantasies. His biggest claim to fame is the ability to smell and/or hear ice cream. Sometimes he seems to be Charlie Brown's dog but for the most part he seems to be a neighborhood dog of whom the kids share joint ownership. Violet introduces Charlie Brown to Schroeder partway through the book, and then it turns out he's a baby. Charlie Brown remarks, "I always feel so awkward around kids!" Schroeder quickly grows up into a mostly mute toddler, and history is made when Charlie Brown gives him a toy piano to play with. He soon begins to experience the myriad disappointments of life when, for instance, a radio DJ plays an accordion number in lieu of his request for Beethoven, or when his planned 8:30 concert has to be canceled on account of his 6:00 bedtime. It's kind of odd that Schroeder is the only character who ages at all, and I kind of wish he had been left a toddler. He's cute and more compelling as a character that way imho. Of course, that would be weird for Lucy...
Crywolf - The Home We Made Pt. II
So I found this on my computer this week and I don't know how it got there. It says it was put on my computer on December 31 at 8:31:50, but I don't remember that or recognize it at all. I was traveling for most of that day and went to bed as soon as I got home. And on top of that it was in the "Star Wars Breakbeats" folder where it certainly doesn't belong and I certainly wouldn't have put it. Just one of life's little mysteries, I guess. Though not my favorite by a long shot I found it to be decent.
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender Christian male, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic and asexual, so you can't, unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.