A clean, well-lit place to vent
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So who will present the greater challenge to the gorgeous and talented Becca Bickle -- the self-deluded psychopath or the self-deluded Peter Pan? Becca's had a good run so far. I look for it to continue.
Today's "400 families" strip is really just an embellishment on last Sunday's about how even college grads are these days not trained to think critically. Before you can solve a problem, or even be outraged by it, you first have to recognize that it is a problem, and not let the "Invisible Hand" folks do the math for you. How ironic that it is Zipper who (at least momentarily) feels a pang of that outrage.
Today's Sunday strip aptly summed up the current American crisis in a fit of frenzied discovery, met by a sigh of complacent ignorance. Calm wisdom and proper action still lurk in the open with the general wellbeing, all waiting to be accomplished...
I wonder when Zipper's eyes will transform from doe-eyed wonder to the world-weary resignation of the other characters.
I like the "trust the invisible hand" being uttered by someone lounging supine in the sunshine -- I've often thought this faith in free markets, to be born of intellectual sloth, complacency, a disabling fear of complexity and of the painstaking thinking-through of muddy realities and detailed policies and risks, needed to run a successful mixed economy. In the UK we call its extreme adherents "headbangers."
I laughed out loud today -- my first laugh of a dreary day -- when Becca had to wrap up her interview with Trff Bmzklfrpz since her "two o'clock" was due, and who do we see over her shoulder for his appointment but the Red Rascal. Love GBT's plotting.
The gorgeous Becca Bickle is perfect, feeling no threat whatever from the drooling Trff's mono-brained bluntness. Which might explain burkas in his country, or perhaps burkas caused him. Interesting planet, this. I'm in communications and media studies. I say Garry Trudeau with a dedicated channel is one of the things about the place that makes me feel okay.
Trff reminds me of a chef I used to work for. His food wasn't that bad, but he used to insult the customers, the staff, God. But then he got a waitress who was totally immune to any and all verbal assaults. Eventually the poor man was reduced to saying 'please' and 'thank you'. I think they got married.
I'm afraid I have to agree that the Trff character is "lewd, crude and contributes nothing." He's got to be the first character that's made me want Trudeau to move on -- fast! At the same time I know it takes as much skill and imagination to create a Trff as it does an Alex. So I'll keep watching and wondering where this will lead.
I'm sorry, but Trff is a brilliant character. Look at today's strip. We have a young woman at a major publishing house who is thrilled, thrilled, to be working with him. It is the perfect criticism of America's two-facedness: Coddle a genocidal thug who murdered untold numbers, especially when a best-seller could be the result? Sure can! Trff will do swell in America. Why? Because he can make a lot of people a lot of money. And isn't that all that matters?
Becca Bickle is amazing! The ability to browse the Doonesbury archives allows us to watch the development of GBT's incredible skill to the point where he can introduce a full-blooded human character in four frames. I can hear her bracelets jingle and feel the energy in the room.
One thing the Trff character has going for him, he makes Duke look like a (marginally) nice guy. Duke is having to deal with someone more obnoxious than he is!
Now I know who Trff reminds me of -- the late Art Hoppe's character the Ratt of Phynkia. His sand-swept, nuclear-weapons-equipped satrapy was located in the Greater Lesser Antilles Desert, IIRC.
I've enjoyed Doonesbury for many years. Yesterday's strip has Trff sad about a lost love, a female shot putter. In John LeCarre's book The Spy Who Came In From The Cold the lead character, Leamas, states that after he is paid for his treason he will "settle down with a flaxen haired shot putter." The similarity struck me.
Jim Andrews must be laughing his tuckas off from The Great Beyond as Random House takes a few shots from GBT. All of which I'm sure has the editors at Andrews McMeel Publishing relishing a few well desrved in-house gaffaws!
I love Becca Bickle on sight, and not just because I'm a professional editor. It will, indeed, be a hoot to watch a top-flight editor wrestle a murderous ego-maniac's story onto the printed page. And as for that deft bit of psychological jujitsu in the last panel, I think Becca and Celeste in Elias' office should get together for beers after work. Kudos to GBT for creating another great character. I hope we see more of Becca in the future.
Trff is a psychopathic dictator. So of course, he's lewd, crude and totally obnoxious -- that's part of the job description. However, notice that the ordinary Americans he's now meeting react to him with amusement and humour. Humour is not something that a psychopathic dictator really understands, which is why they so frequently lock up or shoot their country's satirists. A real-life Trff would of course react very badly to this approach. However, this is cartoon-land. So we can all join in with the Doonesbury characters and safely laugh at monsters like him, seeing him -- and all dictators -- for the ridiculous, strutting, childish clown that he is.
One of my favorite memories from college (class of '64) was a text I discovered while taking a course on Hebrew Wisdom Literature. It could easily be translated as "the kids today are no damn good." The wise man in the Egyptian court who wrote this about 1500 BC went on to say "Now that we can write, nobody can remember anything." (These quotes are filtered through memory, but close.) I try to keep this text in mind when thinking about our young people. Geezers have been damning kids for a long time -- i.e. for as long as we have a written record.
Still, as a college professor I have to say "Amen!" to last Sunday's strip. Maybe someday mind-meld technology will make critical thinking and literacy irrelevant, but not yet. Personally, I think things started going to hell when we began giving every kid on the peewee baseball team a trophy.
I just can't get into the Trff character. He's lewd, crude and contributes nothing to the strip. Sorry.
Today's TEN YEARS AGO Flashback strip reminded me of one of my personal favorites, the strip with the punchline "This is the Sgt. York." In a case of reality imitating art, the U.S. Army recently gave up on development of an Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle that had cost billions but didn't work. You can read about it here.
You're in luck. The Sgt. York strip appears as the TEN YEARS AGO Flashback strip tomorrow.