I have to keep telling myself that it's only the first two games of the season and that there are 160 left, but damn it, this sucks. The last time we spoke, the Sox were about to take on the Yankees and all was right with the world, the sun was shining, the grass was poking up from a long winter's hibernation and people were pumped for the games to begin.
On Sunday, if I passed four people in the street, three were wearing Red Sox hats. Now, who knows, but which is worse: the listless way they lost on Sunday (no fire, no passion) or the craptastic way they lost today (bottom of the ninth walk off dinger by Jeter after Varitek tied it in the ninth of Rivera). I'd have to say today's type of game always hurts more. The ironic thing is that both team captains hit their homers off the other team's top closer in the ninth. Wow. How fascinating.
I remember when I was a senior in high school and our team was kicking ass, we were like 8-2 and just needed to win a few more out of the next ten to make the tournament, we had a game like the one the Sox had today. Our manager, former AHS vice principal Bill Chambers, left the pitcher in way too long. The kid was a sophmore and he absolutely grooved one to the second best player in the league (we were playing first place Hamilton-Wenham) and the kid crushed it. Game over. After that we had zero confidence in our skipper and we went on to lose eight of the last ten, in bad fashion.
Postscript on that game, I was so pissed we lost, I forgot my glove on the bench. The next day I looked for it and it was gone. Thanks a lot, Chambers.
I don't expect the Sox to lose eight out of ten, but these games are like punches in the nuts. Sometimes you just don't recover.
I got a few emails about my cartoon criticisms, so I'll keep doing it. This one will be about everyone's favorite punching bag, The Family Circus:
First off, this is a strip from June of last year. For some stupid reason, the King Features Syndicate home page won't let you upload the strips to a blog. Totally blows too, because today's was actually the first one in years that made me sort of chuckle. Billy and Jeffy were in bunk beds and Jeffy (who was in the bottom bunk) slammed his head onto the top bunk. Billy, looks down and says, "That's why they call them bonk beds."
Why did I laugh at this stupid strip? Mostly because I'm a bit deranged, but something cracked me up about seeing Billy taking such joy in Jeffy's obvious injury.
This is an example of a good Family Circus. Every family has foibles and sometimes brothers are mean to their younger siblings. Not everyone is walking around their neighborhoods leaving dotted lines and saying "Not Me" or "Ida Know" when they get busted for breaking something. Not everyone has a crazy-assed grandmother who spouts crappy, churchy cliches and talking to her long dead husband.
If Bil Keane stuck to these sort of subjects, he wouldn't be so widely ragged on. Here's the thing about Keane, for one he's a tremendous artist. In the above panel, look at how he was able to cram so much detail into such a small place. That actually looks like someone's kitchen. You can almost feel the Formica. And the spatial relations are just right too, not to mention the looks on the faces of the characters.
Like I said, he really does a hell of a job illustrating all of those circles and being witty enough to have jut one sentence be the "punchline" of the strip. That's a hard thing to master. For the most part people use the same formula: set up, comeback from the straight man, punchline. Not Keane, the straightman's query is done in the facial reaction, which is sort of a tough trick to pull off day after day after day.
This is a bad example up top because the punchline is so stupid that it doesn't even make sense. I think Dolly meant to say "recipe" instead of "menu", but I can't tell whether Keane doesn't have a thesaurus, is simply going senile or if that is the joke. Because it seems to me that the joke of the strip is that scrambled eggs are so easy to make that she doesn't have to be shown or told how to do it. I must say that the majority of Dolly-centric strips are normally the most retarded ones of the bunch, which is saying something. I'm not sure whether this is because I'm a man and can relate more to the Billy, Jeffy, PJ stories or whether Dolly is just a moron. If there are any woman reading 19Thoughts, let me know if you like Dolly better than the brothers. And by brothers, I mean Billy, Jeffy and PJ, not the one black kid who hangs out with the rest of the crew.
Another thing about Keane, I don't think he gives two shits about whether he's popular or not with anyone above five or below 70, he knows his audience: little kids and grandparents. Little kids like the strip because it's about kids. Even if it's lame, it least it's about someone your own age. Grandparents like the strip because they think that that is the way their grandchildren really act: naive, full of wonder and hopelessly white bread.
So while it's foolish for me to make fun of Family Circus, the fact is this: the comic has over stayed its welcome. Like Marmaduke and Garfield, Family Circus just has nothing to say. The sad part is, I doubt that Bil Keane is even writing the strip any more. I was doing some research online and found that his son (named Jeffy) inks the cartoons, at least according to published reports. I have noticed though, that there is a distinct difference in the message behind FC.
It has always been syrupy enough to give you diabetes, but there is more of a Christian push behind it now. It was once very secular, very kids-cutesy sort of drivel, but Grandma seems to be quoting scripture a lot more and Dolly is wondering more about God and His plans. Whether the Keanes are happy that their boy Bush is in the White House for more years (and make no mistake about it, these dudes are Republicans) or whether Bil Keane (if he is writing it still) is preparing to meet his maker, the Family Circus reads like the Weekly Reader for the Christian Right.
Which, incidentally, is probably the only thing those bastards don't complain about.