Go ahead. Click the above image. Study it. Drink in the imagery. Immerse yourself in Gary Larson's farcical take on the ongoing saga of Dog vs. Cat in the modern world. Learn it. Live it. Fall to the ground in side-splitting hysterics.
Have you composed yourself yet? Caught your breath? Perhaps you had to jab yourself in the gut with a ball-point pen in order to stop yourself from laughing to avoid hyperventilation. Now you're left with only one question: Why? Why does this simple one-panel cartoon compel laughter from a place so deep within our very soul that only intense physical pain can snap us out of it?
I'll endeavor to answer.
Larson's famous "Cat Fud" cartoon taps into the very essence of "funny" on many complex levels. Its a veritable comic overload featuring elements of slapstick, whimsy, irony, and situational comedy, all while delivering a powerful commentary about the world we live in.
At first, the viewer thinks s/he is laughing simply because the dog is so hell-bent on ruining the cat's day that he concocts an elaborate "mouse trap" to ensnare his furry nemesis. This idea preys upon the built-in (but often mis-guided) notion driven into us since early childhood: that cats and dogs are sworn enemies. Saturday morning cartoons have played this card for years; of course, never quite as cleverly as this.
Next, we are left to wonder just what events preceded this? How many times had the dog's carefully laid plans been foiled by the crafty feline's uncanny ability to sense danger and outmaneuver his canine counterpart at every turn? After all, the dog is begging...literally begging, for this to work! This one time! Oh please, let me get the upper hand just this once! The complexities of their relationship are hinted at just enough to pique the viewer's imagination and encourage him or her to conjure up images of epic battles of wit between the pair. Tom & Jerry have nothing on these two!
By now, the viewer has gotten past the history of the players and is examining the ingenious plan hatched by the dog. Brilliant. Animals that think and act like people are always funny. Animals that can think and act like people and choose to use that intelligence for such a foolhardy venture? Hilarious!
This opens the door to further examination of the dog's apparent intellect. Hmmm. Displays complex problem solving ability and grasps abstract thought---very impressive indeed. But...wait for it...he mis-spelled food!!! Fud. Cat Fud. CAT FUD!!!!! This is so freaking funny, I had to stop writing and slam my hand in my desk drawer several times in order to stop myself from laughing to the point of hyperventilation.
You see, its funny because he was thisclose---but far enough off to allow you question his "intelligence." If he simply dropped an "o" and wrote "Fod," that's not funny. Not at all. The only way for him to mis-spell "Food" and make it work is to replace the "oo" with a "u." Nothing else would have sufficed. That's funny. Also note that the dog decided to use capital letters for the first letter of each word (perhaps to make the invitation appear more formal to the cat).
By the way, how did he manage to write it at all without opposable thumbs? Ahhh. Part of the riddle that may never be answered. I submit that he used his mouth, but an animal capable of the feats depicted could have devised any number of ways to accomplish the modest goal.
Now for the absolute best part; The coup de gras if you will. The part of this little gem that brings it all together and weaves the comic mayhem into a humor-crescendo of epic proportions:
Not only can the dog devise and execute this scheme...not only did he grossly mis-spell "Food" despite his higher learning abilities....but.........(wait for it)......
THE CAT CAN READ IT!!!! The cat can not only read it, but he understands it DESPITE THE SPELLING ERROR!!!
Excuse me while I punch myself in the face in order to stop the laughter which, unabated, will surely lead to hyperventilation. Just when the viewer thinks s/he is laughing at the dog's hi jinks, Larson manages a subconscious switcheroo...the cat is the true star of the show!
That is one smart cat, no doubt. And yet, he is about to fall for the lamest trick in the book!!! Oh, the irony!! The bitter, bitter irony!
Of course, the ending is open to interpretation. In my mind, the cat recognizes that something is amiss before climbing into the dryer in search of the ever-elusive but highly coveted "Cat Fud." To others, the story may end with the cat tumbling around and around while the dog howls with glee.
The artwork itself also plays an important role in conveying the comic genius. Note the cat's lazy approach and his carefree stance. The thick haunches and portly figure that suggest a life of leisure further mock the dog and his vain efforts to best his rival. Vain until today, perhaps.
The cat's laissez-faire look serves as an ideal counterpoint to the sense of desperation and tension depicted in the canine protagonist (or antagonist, depending on your point of view): his stiffened body crammed into the tight corner, holding his breath, careful not to cause even the slightest change in the air for fear that the cat will be alerted to his presence.
The cabinet door left ajar and the Acme brand "cat fud" open on top of the washing machine tells us that as his plan neared fruition, the dog simply could not contain his excitement and eschewed such minor details in favor of action!
I could go on and on. Larson's "Cat Fud" Far Side(c) is simply the Funniest Thing in the World. Its almost as if he sold his soul to the devil in order to create it. Perhaps we'll never be able to fully unlock the totality of its secrets. Perhaps that's for the best. After all, there is no telling what that kind of power in the wrong hands could lead to.
Oh, and the powerful commentary about the world we live in? I am not going to insult you by spelling it out. Its so obvious.
Besides, its meant to be laughed at, not analyzed.
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Go ahead. Click the above image. Study it. Drink in the imagery. Immerse yourself in Gary Larson's farcical take on the ongoing saga of Dog vs. Cat in the modern world. Learn it. Live it. Fall to the ground in side-splitting hysterics.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
This is the beginning of a new regular feature here on RtN. For those of you who don't already know, John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces is among the greatest books ever written. It's ingenius, shocking, hilarious, and on more occasions than I could count I was forced to put the book down, close my eyes, and shake my head at a paragraph or passage that was so perfectly written I couldn't bear to move on and leave it behind.
So every now and then I'll post a short excerpt from the book, if for no other reason than to remind myself of how extraordinary it is. (It won the Pulitzer, so I'm not the only one who thinks so.) Today, I think it's appropriate to start with the opening paragraph.
A green hunting cap squeezed the top of the fleshy balloon of a head. The green earflaps, full of large ears and uncut hair and the fine bristles that grew in the ears themselves, stuck out on either side like turn signals indicating two directions at once. Full, pursed lips protruded beneath the bushy black moustache and, at their corners, sank into little folds filled with disapproval and potato chip crumbs. In the shadow under the green visor of the cap Ignatius J. Reilly's supercilious blue and yellow eyes looked down upon the other people waiting under the clock at the D.H. Holmes department store, studying the crowd of people for signs of bad taste in dress. Several of the outfits, Ignatius noticed, were new enough and expensive enough to be properly considered offenses against taste and decency. Possession of anything new or expensive only reflected a person's lack of theology and geometry; it could even cast doubts upon one's soul.
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Friday, February 23, 2007
CNN featured the top 10 wealthy eccentrics in US history. This guy is my favorite ... what a life (and death).
Jim Fisk (1834-72)
"Big Jim" or "Jubilee Jim" Fisk was a robber baron par excellence. In his hectic youth, he worked as a circus traveler, waiter and peddler, then struck it rich during the Civil War by selling moldy blankets to the Union army and smuggling cotton up from the South. Setting up shop on Wall Street after the war, he and fellow rascal Jay Gould battled, and beat, Cornelius Vanderbilt for control of the Erie Railroad. Now rich, Fisk grew bold: An attempt to corner the gold market in 1869 caused a financial panic and damaged the presidency of U.S. Grant, whose brother-in-law was implicated. Fisk enjoyed his wealth, favoring velvet vests and lots of bling. He died when a business rival shot and killed him in a fight over a showgirl.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
The Amazing Career of An Imaginary Soul Superstar
Publication Date: May 1, 2007
One cold December morning in 2003, Dori Hadar - DJ by night, criminal investigator by day - was digging through crates of records at a Washington, D.C., flea market. There he unknowingly stumbled into the elaborate world of Mingering Mike - a soul superstar of the 1960s and '70s who released an astonishing fifty albums and at least as many singles in just ten years. But Hadar had never heard of him, and he realized why on closer inspection: every album in the crate - as well as the records themselves - were handmade of cardboard. Each package was intricately crafted, complete with gatefold interiors, extensive linear notes, and grooves drawn onto the "vinyl" - some albums were even covered in shrinkwrap, as if purchased at real record stores.
Hadar put his detective skills to work and soon found himself face-to-face with Mingering Mike nearly thirty years since his last album. Their friendship blossomed and Mike revealed the story of his life and the mythology of his many albums, hit singles, and movie soundtracks. A solitary boy raised by his brothers, sisters, and cousins, Mike lost himself in a world of his own imaginary superstardom, basing songs and albums on his and his family's experiences. Early teenager songs obsessed with love and heartache soon gave way to social themes surrounding the turbulent era of civil rights protests and political upheaval - brought even closer to home when Mike himself went underground, dodging the government for years after going AWOL from basic training during the Vietnam War.
I'm going to have to pick up this book. Meet Mingering Mike.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
An announcement I saw in Corridor magazine today got me thinking about the first singer I was ever really into: Kenny Rogers. The Gambler himself is coming to Morgantown to play the CAC on March 10.
The pictured album was one of my first records -- I was eight when it came out -- and it was the only Kenny Rogers album I ever listened to. But I listened to it a lot. I was partial to Coward of the County, no so much because I liked the simple tune, but because I liked the idea of the little guy who was trying to make his dead father proud standing up for himself and putting the Gatlin Boys down in a bar -- all of them! -- for the honor of his lady. (I'll get to "Lady" in a minute, don't worry!) Hey, sometimes you gotta fight when you're a man.
I also liked the sappy stuff. I can still remember every word to "She Believes In Me" and "Don't Fall In Love With a Dreamer," and I promise you it's been 20 years since I've heard them. I'd pay ten dollars for either of these songs to come on the radio while I'm driving. You'd probably pay ten to not be in the car.
Just like he started the album with "The Gambler," which is certainly his calling card, he finished it with another knock-out punch, "Lady." The song begins dark, pensive, indebted, as Kenny opines:
Lady, I'm your knight in shining armor and I love youBut then he turns it on. He gets bold. He steps it up, just like the Coward of the County did, to lay it all on the line for his lady. The grand finale, not just of the song, not just of the album, not even just of Kenny Rogers' illustrious career, but perhaps of the formative years of my life as a music fan, are Kenny's final lines of the song:
You have made me what I am and I am yours
My love, there's so many ways I want to say I love you
Let me hold you in my arms forever more
Lady, your love's the only love I needHe starts by sacrificially saying "I am yours" and he ends by telling her where he wants her to be and what he wants her to know! She probably didn't even know he'd flipped the deck on her! She was too busy melting to see it coming!
And beside me is where I want you to be
cause, my love, there's somethin' I want you to know
You're the love of my life, you're my lady!
Okay, I exaggerate. And the song is cheesy as hell now, just like the rest of them. But I remember them all fondly regardless. Not enough to go to the show in March ... but almost.
Sunday, February 18, 2007
This is a good friend of mine, Jamie Lester, a local sculptor's blog. Today they dedicated a statue of Jerry West that he had been commisioned to do, before the WVU-Seton Hall game. Really amazing stuff. http://www.lestersculpture.com/index.html
Saturday, February 17, 2007
I'm reading a remarkable book by Fyodor Dostoevsky called The Idiot, and it takes place in late 1800s Russia. It contains a couple of references to a secret Christian sect called the Skoptzy, so I decided to do a little research to learn more about them.
To quote the Wikipedia entry:
They believed that after the expulsion from the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had the halves of the forbidden fruit grafted onto their bodies forming testicles and breasts. Thus, the removal of these sexual organs restored the Skoptsy to the pristine state before the Original Sin.So they'd castrate themselves, either partially or wham-bam-thank-ya-ma'am, in order to be closer to God. And the sect actually gained in popularity, especially with influential members of socitey! Can you imagine how good the recruiters must have been? Or how crude Russian medicine must have been in the 1800s? I wouldn't trust someone from those days to remove a wart, let alone....
Throughout the years, there have been countless other religions or cults that have persuaded followers to do things that just seem crazy to most of us. Whether it's drinking poisonous Kool Aid, self-administering lethal cocktails in your brand-new Nikes while waiting to hop aboard the next comet, or flailing yourself every now and then with a discipline whip, there seems no limit to what some people will do in the name of God.
I don't know -- it's just hard for me to understand. But as insane as these people seem to me, I will give them one thing: they've got balls. Well, except for the Skoptzy.
Posted by SleekPelt at Saturday, February 17, 2007
Friday, February 16, 2007
To commemorate this blog's one-month birthday, albeit a couple of days late, I thought I'd take the time to go through a few things. I know that many of you, like me, are totally new to blogging, and I'd like to make sure everyone knows how this works.
For starters, I'm not the only one making these posts. Most of you know this, but a couple of people have been confused, so I'll explain this first. Anybody listed to the right under "Contributors" is able to make a post in this location. You can tell who wrote it because, at the end of the post, it says who posted it and when.
If you want to be able to put up original posts for other people to comment on -- and I hope you do, because that's kind of the point -- just let me know and I'll set you up with a password. I'd really like for there to be at least one post per day on RtN, but I just don't always have time (or something to say), so feel free to help me. You can post about whatever you want; let's just try to stay away from politics.
Of course, anyone with a computer can comment on posts. If you're a registered contributor, your comment posts immediately. If you're not, your comment comes to me for moderation. It goes online when I approve it.
Some things to keep in mind if you want to post:
- Type comments any way you want, but if you're creating all new posts, let's use capital letters at the beginnings of sentences.
- Take a look at the buttons above the text box where you type your posts. There are a number of buttons up there that are useful: adding photos, making words turn into links like this, etc. Let me know if you need help with any of this stuff.
- If you make a post and then notice that something looks weird or you want to correct something, just log back in and click the little 'Edit Posts' link. Very easy to do.
- If you have any questions, just ask me.
Posted by SleekPelt at Friday, February 16, 2007
You're gonna want to go to this link and click on the video on the right. Dan Hawkins is my new favorite football coach.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Sometimes Todd Provance sends us toons that are hilarious, but that I just have to keep out of the magazine. Usually it's because they're a bit too risque. In this case, we can't run it because, well, we don't touch religion in our books. But it's too funny to let die, so here it is, a RtN Lapper Exclusive. Thanks, Todd!
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Of all weeks to get sick. Not because I have important things to do—like deadlines, backburner home improvements, and practicing my cursive in the snow—but I'm stuck in front of the idiot box following the endless onslaught of ANS updates. Yes, the Marilyn Monroe/Lady Di of our (my?) time—Anna Nicole Smith.
Before I start, I shot Kurt Cobain. Just to piss off millions of zit-faced, teen punks who dip there faces and fingers in the fry-o-lator at Mickey's D's just to feel one-speck of an iota of Kurt's inner pain. Please, you silly minions, you got suckered. I own the CD, I'd good, and yet I still haven't had a seance nor lit a candle for Kurty. Kurt, the Lennon/Bono of our (my?) time? Wait...Bono?
Anna Nicole Smith, the dumbshit's dumbshit. Living (well) proof that the stupid don't know they're stupid. But who am I to judge. I don't have mega-millions, a TV show, or a boob job (although two out of three wouldn't be bad.) ANS on her best day was a Springer guest.
Let's get out the checklist:
1) Rube. Check.
2) Knocked-up Rube. Check.
3) Knocked-up Stripper Rube. Check.
4) Knocked-up Stripper Rube with BFTs (Big Fake Cleavage). Check.
5-300+ include: Modeling deals, Skinny, TV show, Fat, Playboy, Skinny, Old Crypt Keeper's keeper, Fat, Drugs, Fat/Skinny, blahblahblah
Ultimately, ANS's celebrity wasn't her fault or her own doing. And I'm sure she could've lived happily ever after as a small-town Texas girl/stripper. Society is to blame. Yes, society. We all want the underdog to succeed (see also: Rocky, Rocky II, maybe Rocky III because of Clubber Lang, but the rest sucked), but when said underdog reaches the pinnacle—they're all alone at the top with no one to save them but the same people who put them on top. Now, they're being told to jump. Ever read The Giving Tree in grade school? The ANS tree had nothing left to give. We may never know what actually happened that caused her untimely death although we have our National crack-team of experts on the case, like Geraldo, etc*.
Why do we care? Why is "live-breaking coverage" on every channel? Anybody hear that 135 people died in Iraq today? You know what? I did. Know how? I saw it on the new blip that was scrolling across the bottom of my screen while I was getting LIVE BREAKING COVERAGE OF ANS's DEATH!!!
Remember last month when that President guy died? All he got was an hour-long special before CSI: whatchamacallit on Saturdays. The man ran the country for a short time and took hell for 30 years because of his predecessor. That's taking one for the team. Doing an old guy in a wheelchair for a $billion or two isn't really the same. But, NOOO. We need all the news channels, on location, in the Bahamas, hanging on the word of every passer-by hoping to get some new info. Unless she popped out of that sheet and yelled "Boo!" I'd say the story stays the same. One jerk-off reporter even asked a employee of the hotel:
"What did it look like?"
"The body?" she replied.
"Yes!" he says with great enthusiasm.
"It looked like a sheet."
We may actually find out that Zsa-Zsa's husband is the father of Dannilynn (oh, yea, another one for the Rube checklist). But, will anyone really remember that poor dimwit, whose light shone bright for those rollercoaster 39 years and became a 3-DDD cartoon? After they do the death-reel at the Oscar's (you know they will), we'll recede back into the normalcy of War, Katrina leftovers, and America's Ugliest Dog on Animal Planet, then all will be right in the world until the next big event comes along. I hope I'm sick for that too.
Wait, LIVE BREAKING NEWS: Wolf Blitzer just found Kurt's trigger-toe!
* And for the love of all creatures great and small. If I'm going to get my earth-shattering insider information, I'm sure as hell not going to rely of that FemBeast Rita Crosby from MSNBC. Her man-voice, sound's like Jim Carrey doing Venus de Milo on In Living Color. How am I supposed to mourn the passing of my generation's heroine while all I can picture is a greasy Jim in a two-piece who's top "accidentally" falls off. (Kinda ironic considering the overall subject here.)
I want to be a Mythbuster.
Monday, February 12, 2007
My daughter's birthday is on Wednesday, and tonight we went to Target so she could use some of the birthday money she got from her aunt and uncle to buy some Barbies. (Because she won't get enough Barbie stuff at her party on Saturday, I'm sure.) I must have spent 30 minutes in the toy aisles, mostly with my boy, who is obsessed with "boy toys" that "turn on," i.e. make a bunch of noise. This got me to thinking about some of the toys I remember from my childhood. So tonight I searched some of them out online.
One of the most memorable toys I had, which a lot of other kids my age had, is the Tree Tots Family Tree House (pictured). This one probably goes back to when I was my girl's age. I always liked the elevator and the button that would make the canopy pop up, exposing the rooms inside. And I swear I can still remember exactly how that canopy felt. Like every other kid my age, I (or one of my brothers) also had the Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle and that little McDonalds restaurant that would ding when you pecked at the cash register (can't find a photo). What a marketing success that was. And man did I love my Six-Million-Dollar Man toy. On the show he could see far away, and to emulate that, the toy had a hole in the back of the head that you could look through to make things that were close actually look far away. I'd go to the top of the twirly slide and watch through his head as the poor Earp boys got pelted by park-lunch apples, thanks to Ed Rigger and other guys who were ten years their senior. I got around town on a Big Wheel, though I ditched the seat and used it like a scooter, which is why I never got into the Green Machine. Stretch Armstrong got all the press, but I had an Incredible Hulk version that I thought was much cooler. I liked the idea of my Lite-Brite, but I never had the patience to really do anything cool with it. I had all of the same board games you had, probably, and a thousand other toys that I still remember like it was yesterday. And to think, my kids will probably feel the same way about some of these toys that I trip over put away on a daily basis. Okay, my wife usually puts them away, but still.
So what did you play with?
Sunday, February 11, 2007
It was so awesome to watch WVU put it to the UCLA Bruins for the second year in a row today. I don't remember where they were ranked when we beat them in SoCal last year, but today the number-two team in the country fell to our unranked Mountaineers, thanks to another true team effort that saw even the rarely used walk-on guard Ted Talkington making some key shots. Imagine how frustrating we must be to UCLA coach Ben Howland.
Sure, we're a pretty good team with a lot of promise to be even better in '08 and '09, but I've discovered the reason for UCLA's lackluster performance today -- and, no, it's not because Darren Collison was out with an injury. It's because Michael Roll was forced to play 24 minutes with severe constipation (see photos). The poor dude was clearly in misery.
Friday, February 9, 2007
Wednesday, February 7, 2007
I like anagrams. I decided to rearrange a few names. Let's see what we can come up with here.
Michael Jackson --> Clean His Am Jock
Susan Stealey --> A Sly US Senate
Paris Hilton --> A Hip Nostril (ridiculous but funny for some reason)
Bob Hope --> Be Bop Ho (now this is just silly)
Kevin Federline --> I Never Ef'n Liked
Dolly Parton --> Lard-Only Top
Jason Hooper --> Jar Oh-So Open
Bryan Stealey --> Be Nasty Early
And last but so, so far from least ...
Dru Sigmon --> I'm On Drugs
I'd love to get some more suggestions for stuff to listen to. Think obscure -- something you like but most people probably don't know. Anything counts -- punk, rock, country, hip hop, whatever. Hook it up!
Monday, February 5, 2007
My wife and I were in Virginia over the weekend, and while walking through a Books a Million, I heard somebody say, "Excuse me, sir?" I looked over and there was a dude and his better half, sitting in lounge chairs with a small stack of baby-name books on the table between them. The guy looked at me and said, "So, like, you're good with like grammar and stuff, right?" I was surprised -- maybe it was my glasses? Anyway, I said, "Yeah, I guess, I'm an editor." He was like, "Perfect. My wife and I are trying to pick a name for our daughter. My wife is Tanya and I'm Bryan ... "
Me: "Hey, I'm Bryan, too."
Him: "How you spell it?"
Me: "With a Y, you?"
Him: "Damn! With a Y! I talked to the right guy! Anyway, we want to name her 'Tabria,' which is a cross between our names,but we're not sure how to spell it. Is there any way to spell it with a Y? Could we go with Tabrya?"
Me: "Only if you want people to call her TaBRYa her whole life. But you're Bryan with a Y, and it's sacrilige to spell it with an I.
He agreed, and after some deliberation, I presented them with:
Tabreeya. Sure, they could go with Tabriya, but that puts the I before Y, and anyone who's ever been named Bryan with a Y knows that's just not acceptable.
Anyway, his wife loved the spelling, and he was also stoked to have a solution, so I think it's a go. So, while I might not have exactly named a little girl I'll never see, at least I helped!
Saturday, February 3, 2007
By no means am I an art connoisseur, but I know what I like when I see it. This past summer my wife and I went to Toronto for the weekend, and it happened to coincide with the Toronto Outdoor Art Festival. It's an awesome event, and it was probably the highlight of our trip. One of the artists we met there was Paul Robert Turner, and he had a couple of paintings on display there that were part of his "Don't Panic" series. We just couldn't stop looking at one in particular, and if we'd had an extra five grand on us, we probably would have bought it. As is, I'll have to make due with this image, which is Don't Panic 4. (He didn't have this one there.) If I owned this, or the one we saw in Toronto, I'd rotate it 90 degrees every couple of months, just so the poor sap on the ground could change positions every once in a while.
Thursday, February 1, 2007
This one goes out to my pal Raoul Duke and his lady C, who are expecting their first child in a couple of weeks.
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let our bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.
I'd like to clarify that it's perfectly acceptable and even expected to completely insist that your children are Steelers fans. It's the price of rent in my house.