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Comic Podcast 1 Transcript

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A transcript for Comic Podcast Episode 1: "Ziggy, Garfield, Cathy, Mary Worth." This podcast was an April Fool's Day prank in 2011.

Pronoiac set up a Fanscribed page, and most of this transcript came from there.


jingle: (not the usual theme song, but Tall Dwarfs, Ain't It Funny)

cortex: Hi there. I'm cortex, and I'd like to welcome you to episode one of the Metafilter Comics Digest Podcast. In this new series, Metafilter staff will be bringing you narrative slices of some of your favorite daily newspaper comics, one panel at a time. We're pretty excited about this - this is easily the most consistently requested new Metafilter feature over the last several years, and now with this inaugural episode, all those Mefimails you've sent us, all the contact form messages, and the Metatalk posts, and the late night phone calls from unlisted numbers - it's finally paying off! So put on your Marmaduke Underoos -

cortex: - and stick a "pissing Calvin" sticker on your iPod, because we've got four great comic strips coming up for you. Jessamyn reads through ten years of Garfield strips that ran on her birthday, and shares her thoughts and reflections on life, domain service providers, and evolutionary cartoon physiology. Matt checks in with one of the great casualties of the comics page, the recently discontinued Cathy, with some topical tax season humor, plenty of flop sweat, and neurosis, as our eternally self-conscious protagonist puts the "ack!" into accounting.

cortex: Then in a contemporary turn, Paul spends some time with the Charterstone crowd, in a recent Mary Worth arc where sandwich afficionado Wilbur stages an inter-fun-tion to help his daughter Dawn break free of a crippling internet addiction. But first up, I turn back the page-a-day calendar to 1998 as our favorite squat, bald, pantsless everyman offers us a glance into his unique worldview. Buckle up, because we're getting Ziggy with it.

jingle: Ziggy Stardust by David Bowie

[Ziggy Stardust plays]
[Ziggy Stardust fades out]

cortex: Well alright. It's kinda cloudy outside, I'm wearing my bathrobe, it's, uh, it's just pretty much a perfect day for reading some Ziggy, so...let's do it. I'm starting with the first of January 1998, um, cause hey, why not start there.

So Ziggy, uh, it's a New Years comic, Ziggy's holding a list of resolutions -- it's a really long list actually, and uh, he's
saying, "It seems like all my New Year's Resolutions just go in one year and out the other." Which is a, it's a joke, because he said 'year' instead of 'ear'. So that's a pretty good start for a year.
The next one, there's a doctor, and Ziggy's got a red nose and some sort of pox marks and a thermometer in his mouth. And the doctor's saying, "Don't worry about paying my bill ...
I stand to make millions from the talk shows alone." So I guess the doctor's gonna monetize Ziggy's illness, is the idea, like, go on talk shows and talk about how weird his sickness is. So that's, you know, I mean, that's kind of a win-win for them, I guess. Ziggy gets medical treatment and the doctor gets to advertise a little bit.
The next one, Ziggy's sitting at his computer, and he says, "Sometimes I get so
frustrated with my computer ... I feel more like booting it out instead of booting it up." So he changed the preposition there, that's kinda clever.
Let's see... ooh, it's a Sunday strip now. In the throwaway panel at the top he's standing on a scale and it says 'DING' and it says 'TILT', like a pinball machine. I guess Ziggy's kinda fat.
So he's saying, "One thing I hate about getting physicals is ... they are so physical!" So it's kind of an extra standalone joke by itself. And then the doctor walks up, he says, "Well, Ziggy, we've completed your physical, and now that I have all the results of your tests, I can give you my diagnosis. My diagnosis can be summed up in one word. That word is 'DIET'." And 'DIET's written in really big cartoony letters, and the doctor looks really happy about this. But then the doctor says, " your case,
a word to the wide should be sufficient!" So he's--yeah, so that makes sense, that works with the early part of the strip, it's definitely about Ziggy being fat.
So now there's a guy--this is another strip, the doctor one's over--and the guy's holding a cigar, and he and Ziggy are looking at a car, and Ziggy looks kinda bemused but the guy looks sort of smug and happy, and he's saying, "If imported cars are out of your price range ... I've got some deported ones
out back I can show you!" So I guess those are cars that have been in other countries, but then were there illegally and so they got sent back to this guy's lot. (pause) I'm not sure if the car we're looking at is supposed to be a nice car or not. It's kind of hard to tell.
So in the next strip, Ziggy's seeing a psychologist, I guess? And the psychologist or psychiatrist or whatever is, he's saying, "'s not all that
unusual, a lot of one-panel cartoon characters have claustrophobia!" So this is sort of like a metatextual joke. I mean, the doctor is being metareferential and sort of playing with exegesis. So that's kinda cool. I mean, that's, you don't really see that sort of thoughtful metacreativity in a lot of cartoons. So, I mean, this is part of what really makes Ziggy shine, in my opinion.
So now there's, Ziggy's sitting in front of a TV, and you can see out the window there's some sunshine and some bushes, and there's a bird sitting on the back of his bark lounger, and says, "It's too nice a day to sit here like this -- let's move the TV outdoors!" Which is funny, because you think, you know, he thinks he's going to say, like, "Let's go outside," but he's actually saying, "Let's go outside with the TV," so it kind of violates
your expectations. Also, the bird can talk, apparently, so that's kind of an interesting twist. It could be a parrot, I guess, but it would be weird if that was the one thing it memorized. So I'm going to think about that some more.
So in this next panel, Ziggy has a dog and the dog has some cloth in its mouth and the cloth is from the butt of another guy whose polka-dotted boxer shorts we can see because his pants are torn. And the guy's wearing a shirt that says, "Al's Obedience School,"
so this is probably an obedience school. And Ziggy's saying to the guy, " there anything he can do for extra credit?" So I guess Ziggy's concerned that the dog isn't getting very good grades after biting the pants? So I guess pants-biting wasn't what he was being trained to do.
Ooh, this is fun. Okay, so now there's a spaceship, I guess, with some bug-eyed aliens,
well, not bug-eyed, eyes on like stalks, like a slug, I guess. And they're saying to Ziggy, " got a gift shop anywhere around here? ...we promised the kids we'd bring them t-shirts!" So that's kinda funny, because it's like they're going on vacation except for instead of going to an amusement park or another state they went to a different planet.
This next one there's a waiter, or a maître d', or whatever, there's a guy with a moustache, it's a restaurant, and he says,
" want to order food? You look like you've had enough to eat already!" So this is, there's sort of a narrative arc here. There's some continuity from strip to strip, Ziggy's difficulty with his weight or the perception of his weight is kind of a running theme. So that's kind of nice. It gives you more to chew on than just one throwaway gag after another. You really get a sense of the character development.

sfx: (Music: You're The One For Me, Fatty by The Smiths)

sfx: (Music: You're The One For Me, Fatty by The Smiths, continued)

cortex: That's another Sunday strip. These are fun, they're colorful. The other ones are all just black and white, so. In this one, Ziggy's walking along, and he's dressed up in winter clothes because it's January, so that's, you know, that's thematic. And there's some guy sitting on the sidewalk

and he's counting, "one...two...three...four...five..." And then Ziggy says, "Hello, Mr. Pendleton," so I guess this guy's name is Mr. Pendleton, he says, "Hello, Mr. Pendleton. What are you thinking about?" And Mr. Pendleton says, "Oh, hiya Iggy...I'm trying not to forget my cares!" "I'm trying not to forget my cares!", okay. Why do you call him Iggy? His name is Ziggy. That's weird.
So Ziggy says, ", wouldn't it be better if you did forget
your cares?", which, okay, thank you, Ziggy, because I was kind of confused about why he would be trying not to anyway. And then Mr. Pendleton says, "Are you nuts? There's too many of them!", and he sort of waves his hand a little bit. That's kind of a dynamic bit of illustration there, actually. It really kind of showcases Tom and Tom Wilson's graphical strengths.
So he says, "There's too many of them!" and then Ziggy says, "What?", and Mr. Pendleton puts his head in his hands, and he doesn't actually say anything, but there's a
sort of thought balloon that looks like sort of an angry cloud coming out of his head. And so he says, "Medicare...Healthcare...Seniorcare...Choicecare... who can keep track of them all?" So when he was talking about cares, he was talking about words that have 'care' in them that apply to elderly or healthcare issues. So that makes more sense, like, I can see why you'd be trying not to forget those, because that's important stuff.
So for the next one we're in a restaurant again, so again with the thematic strength, and there's a very beat-up looking waiter. He's got bandages on his nose and all of his fingers. Actually, it looks like he's pretty badly injured. And Ziggy's looking at him and he says to Ziggy, "'re not going to order the lobster, are you?" Which, I mean... I don't get the impression that Ziggy's a very affluent guy, so, I mean, it could be a special occasion or something, but I don't think he'd be ordering the lobster anyway.
But that doesn't really address the waiter's fundamental problem. If he's being hurt by the lobsters, he should probably talk to management. It's not really a customer issue. So I'm not sure he's really going about that the right way. That doesn't feel totally effective to me.
In this next one, Ziggy is standing in a dark alley with a man who's shining a flashlight on him, and he's got a sandwich board sign standing next to him that says "SHINE: $2.50". So normally that would be
a shoe shine, but he means literally shining you with a flashlight, I guess? I don't know if he is going to demand payment because he's already shining Ziggy, or if maybe Ziggy had paid him and we're just watching it play out. The whole thing has a very sort of noir-ish look, though. It's kind of unconventional. It jars with the normal light-hearted tone of the strip. So it's kind of a daring creative choice there.
In this next one, Ziggy's watching TV again, and the TV's saying, "...a spokesman for the Food and Drug administration said
today... 'We don't care and drink whatever you like. But don't come crying to us when...'" So, you know, that's sort of like a subversive take on the notion of paternalistic government. And I don't know if it's a commentary on libertarianism per se, but it definitely pushes into some interesting territory there.
The next one, we've got another doctor,
and he says, "Brace yourself!", he says to Ziggy, "Brace yourself!'ve got the worst health insurance I've ever seen!" So I don't know if this is the same doctor as the other guy, because if so that shouldn't be an issue because he's already sort of promised not to bill, but if this is a different doctor, Ziggy may have wanted to stick with it originally. But maybe the original doctor got too busy with the talk shows, I don't know. It's... I don't know. I can't really work that out, I need to think
about that more.
So now in this next one Ziggy's standing in front of a washing machine, I guess, and he's holding up something. Maybe this will make more sense in a second here. He says, "You know your life needs more excitement... when your greatest challenge all week is removing the lint-screen from your dryer's lint-screen all in one piece!" Oh, so it's lint, he managed to carefully extract the entire sheet of lint.
Which is, that's not super easy. So that is kind of an impressive thing to do, I have to give him credit for what seems like a fairly difficult maneuver there.
In the next one, Ziggy's got a bandage on his nose now, and he's holding a sort of briefcase thing. I don't think I've seen him doing before. And he says, "They just closed a tax loophole... while I was still in it!" So apparently the loophole was actually a physical loop, and he
was injured when they were trying to shut that down.
Now Ziggy's staring up at a birdhouse. And he's wearing a hat now. I haven't seen--well, I guess I saw him wearing like the winter cap, so that's not true, I'm forgetting. And he's staring up at a birdhouse, and he's not saying anything, and there's no bird or anything, but the birdhouse has a satellite dish on it, which is kind of funny, because why would a bird have a satellite dish? It's also very small. I'm not sure it would function correctly. And I don't know how
to get a TV in there. Although it could be like an iPhone or something, but then you would probably just use 3G, you know, so I'm not sure I buy that one. That's... nah.
Now Ziggy's reading the paper on his parka[?] lounger, and he's looking over a fishbowl, and the fish is sort of looking back at him kinda glumly, I guess, for a fish. And Ziggy says, "Well, if you're bored, try swimming counterclockwise for a while!" So I guess, you know, I'm not sure if Ziggy
really appreciates how confined the fish probably feels, but at least he's trying to be constructive, I guess, so.
Let's do... eh, let's do a couple more and then we'd better wrap it up for this episode.
Ziggy's sitting at his computer, and he's sort of sitting at the side of his computer table, so it'd be really hard to type from that position. I don't know if he just wasn't planning on working right then or what. But he's got his hand on his chin and he says, "...I've just been evicted from my own
homepage!" Which, that can actually happen if you store questionable materials on your website, so, cautionary message: don't put stuff that's illegal on your website, or it might get shut down.
And... okay, last one. We're at an airport, a travel agency, probably--it's hard to say. It says "Econo-Airlines" up top, like it's the signage on the wall.
And there's a woman smiling and typing at a computer, and Ziggy's standing there in his cap again. And she says, "...You'll arrive in L.A. a little late, because you'll have to dust some crops along the way!" So I guess they're going to use a small crop duster plane to make his connecting flight. Which I guess? I don't know if they expect Ziggy to actually do the crop dusting, I don't know if he's a certified pilot, so that's a little bit tricky.
Anyway, that's really... I should stop for now, but that's January 1 for January 22, 1998, Ziggy comics. We'll pick up on January 23rd next time.

sfx: (Music: I Don't Like Lasagna by Weird Al Yankovich)

sfx: (Music: I Don't Like Lasagna by Weird Al Yankovich, continued)

jessamyn: This is ten years of Garfield on my birthday. So, starting in 2001 and Jon's eating a sandwich and he goes "Crunch!" in like sort of big multi-colored letters. And then he goes "Crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch!" and Garfield's kind of flipped out and he says,

"Time to go grocery shopping, Garfield," and Garfield tells us, "Sugar cube sandwich." Which, if you know my habits in the podcasts, you would know that my next line of course is, (sings) Sugar cube sandwich! In the heart of America. Oy yoy yoy! Oy yoy-yoy yoy! Oy yoy yoy yoy-yoy-yoy yoy.
Now, John Davis, sugar cube sandwich, really? It also makes me think of The Breakfast Club, and that Cap'n Crunch sandwich that that Ally Sheedy character eats, and you think maybe she's got some kind of a vitamin deficiency. And the first thing I thought of course was, "Man, she's going to rip the shit out of the top of her mouth with that Cap'n Crunch." But I don't really know what happened, and this was six days before September 11th
and so I guess we're going to figure out what happens next.
So! 2002. "Garfield, why don't you catch mice? Are you afraid of them? What power do they have over you?" And I think that's a real question, right. Because, like, I had mice, and it's not that they have power over you, exactly, it's that they're in your space and they're awake at night, right. And so you're going to sleep and then there's this--man, one time I had some little crumb or something,
and it was on my nightstand, and this mouse came up, and I'm like asleep, and my hand was sorta out, and I'm like sleeping because I sleep kinda on my side like bluhuhuhuhbluh, and the mouse was like on the table, and I woke up and I was like, "What the!" and turn on the light and the mouse is just looking at me like, "What? What's your problem?" and I was like, "Holy shit!" And, like, what's it going to do, right? Kick me out of bed? Like, I'm in charge, right? It's me!

jessamyn: It's me! But, you know, what kind of power does the mouse have over you? I think that's a good question, um, to which the response Garfield has is, uh, "tiny little incriminating photographs." And you're thinking, they make tiny little film? Do you think mice have tiny little iPhones? Like, how does that work, exactly? Alright, 2002, moving on to 2003. John: "You know what we could use in our lives? A wacky adventure! Right? Right?"

jessamyn: I mean sure, wacky adventure. Garfield: "I'm in!" Next page. "As long as it's not too wacky or overly adventurous." Now, you know, ever since that Garfield movie came out, I've really sort of heard everything Garfield says in the Garfield voice from the Garfield movie, in that stupid CGI cat. Like, I kind of used to think that Garfield was up for anything, you know, he fucks around with the dog, he eats way too much, and he, and he

puts hair in things, and he sleeps, and you'd kinda think wacky adventures would be his thing, right? But apparently, no! Or apparently, Jon's idea of wacky and adventurous is not Garfield's idea of wacky and adventurous. Which, you know, kind of, you know... And it's basically three panels that are all kind of the same. Jon's kind of bummed out, his hair's a little kinda all over the place, and you know, I don't really know.
I'm used to kinda seeing these in black and white, I didn't know Jon was kind of like a brunette, and all right! It kind of sets up the dichotomy, right? Jon: up for anything, Garfield: not too wacky please, thank you.
Ahh, 2004 is a weekend panel, and it has five words in it. The words are 'schtonk', 'water' and 'if you please'. So, I mean, really, like, make your own joke
there, right? But it's got something to do, Garfield runs outside and then he jumps, and then he jumps into the kiddie pool, and then the kiddie pool is empty, you know... it's the classic, classic, jump into the pool, the pool's empty, Jon's standing there with his visor and his Birkenstocks, which he is wearing with socks, because that shouldn't surprise any of us, right?, saying "hey man, do you want some water for your pool?" And the sun's overhead like this giant
swirly cinnamon bun, and you know, fuck it, it's snowing here in Boston, and you know, I'm sitting in the basement, and I just, I could really use a swimming pool, maybe, and a little sun, and maybe a little water, and I wouldn't even care if it had hair in it. Maybe just a cinnamon bun, maybe I could use that.

sfx: (Music: I Don't Like Mondays by Tori Amos)

sfx: (Music: I Don't Like Mondays by Tori Amos, continued)

jessamyn: Alright, 2005. 2005, Jon and Garfield are kinda pissed, right. And really, you know, their relationship has progressed, I think? You know, I think...

you know, they're feeling each other out, they know each other more, Jon says, "You cats!" and then he says, "Take! Take! Take!" Garfield thinks, or kind of says, or thought-bubbles, or whatever the fuck a cat does, he's like, "You're right." Last panel, sitting there with his giant--were his feet always that big? Because I'm like looking at him now, and I'm like, "That cat's got the freakishly largest feet I've ever..." Were they always that big? Now I've gotta look at all the other panels.
Really? I know he's got the three fingers, like Mickey Mouse, and giant feet.
And Garfield says "give! give! give!" like that's the joke. Like "take take take," "give give give" - it's the duality of Jon and of Garfield. I don't know what Jon's problem is. What does he think a pet's supposed to do, right? Like Garfield's going to get a job? That's gonna happen? I don't really understand. It seems like there's some expectation thing and it's supposed to be funny, and the tag thing -
says, "Be the first to tag this comment," oh, but then I try to tag it and I'm not a registered user. I was gonna tag it on [??], right, or, like, "essential dichotomy", or something, but I guess I'll just leave it alone.
Ah. Alright! 2006, 2006 Jon's dating. Remember he was after that gal Liz, the vet, I guess? Was she the one who had kind of the Betty Rubble haircut, and... Alright, so he's on the phone, right, it's one of those phones, it's got a cord and like a dial on the top--I think it's got a dial, I can't
really tell, it's the side. He's like, "Hi, Liz! ...A what? A veterinary lecture? Tonight? Sure! Sounds like fun!" and in the last panel, "I wonder what you wear to one of those." And Garfield, who's basically like every guy in MetaTalk ever, is like, "A sincere look of feigned interest." BAM-BOM! Timing, right? I mean, a veterinary lecture, can you imagine what that might be about? They might show you, like, how to unroll a hedgehog, or
they might show you, well, the llama x-ray that I've always been looking for. If there was a llama x-ray at one of those meetings, I would wear whatever. I would dress up, I would wear a skirt to go see a veterinary lecture on a llama x-ray. Maybe... maybe there's an elephant, like that elephant, that--okay, GoDaddy, fuck!--shot, and I was trying to explain to somebody why they shouldn't go with GoDaddy, and I started talking about the Super Bowl, and all the stuff, and it was like 24 hours too soon, if it had been today I could have been like, "He's that elephant-shooting fuck, don't give him any money,
you'll be fine." But then there was that elephant that they electrocuted, remember that one? I'm going to have to find a bunch of links for this, because the elephant that murdered somebody in a rampage, and so then they electrocuted it, but I think it was one of those, like, Thomas Edison things, and... maybe the lecture would be about mice. I would wear a skirt.
Alright, 2006. Moving on!
2007. 2007's my favorite one, right? Because Jon walks in, and his hair is all standing up. He's got like fifteen hairs, and they're all standing up, and there's smoke coming out of it, and his eyes are all buggy, and he says, "Morning!" Garfield's drinking coffee, right, because Garfield drinks coffee. Beat. Pause. Jon says, "I think the toaster has a short." Garfield: "So now all of a sudden you're an electrician?"
Like you gotta be an electrician to--I mean, couldn't Jon just stick his fork in it? Is he the stupidest human being on Earth? Like, you know, there's these other shows that have pets, and like on Family Guy, like, the dog--I think the dog is smart? Smarter than Peter? Maybe? Garfield is like, wry, but is Garfield intelligent? And how do you get shorted making your toast, right? Like, do you touch your toaster when you put the toast in it? Does toast conduct electricity?
I don't think so, right? Is Jon wearing slippers, do they have rubber bottoms? Is it grounded? Like, what's going on here? What is wrong with this person? Is he the stupidest man alive? He dates a veterinarian! They're smart. He eats toast? Who eats toast anymore? Aah. But the--it's brilliant, he's got this like stripy pajamas, he looks like he's in Angola prison, and he's been zapped by the toaster, and... Garfield's drinking coffee.
Very primary colors, very red, very blue.
Moving on to 2008. Lady, I guess it's that veterinary lady. "Would you like to go dancing Saturday night, Jon?" He's smiling like a goof. "Would I?!" Then he turns around and goes to the cat. "Would I?" And I know what you're thinking, right? I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Peg leg! Peg leg!", because, like, that's how that joke goes.
But Garfield, Garfield, Garfield doesn't give a shit. Garfield, you know, Garfield's like, "As long as I don't have to watch," you know. Thanks for the snack, stupid! He, you know... so many missed opportunities. "Would I?" is a missed opportunity for a terrific joke, Garfield sails right past it, we're in 2008, my birthday... man. Man! And, you know, if you did the sort of Garfield without Garfield, terrific!
It's all, you know, dancing. Dancing's nice. I'm concerned about the feet, though. Does Jon have giant feet also, maybe?

sfx: (Music: Monday, Monday by The Mamas and The Papas)

jessamyn: Alright. So September 5th, 2009 makes light of

owner-companion animal violence. Jon is sitting there staring, he says, "Sigh." Garfield smacks him on the back of the head, which just seems rude. Jon turns around and says, "How would you like it if I did that to you?!" Garfield: As long as you're not sighing. And... like, I don't even know where to start with that, right? Like, first of all, he smacks him on the head. Like, have you ever gotten bopped on the head
by a cat? Cats are teeny! Like, you're in charge of the cat. Like, your cat smacks you on the head, you don't get angry, you pick up the cat by the scruff of the neck and you're like, "I'm your mom!" Like, "Go in the other room!" Or, you know, you bop the cat on the ear or whatever. Like, I had a friend who visited me once who, my cat kinda scratched him like he was messing with her and she kind of went, "Mraow!", kinda scratched him on the shin, and he kinda bopped her on the nose, and it was like, "How do you like it when I do that to you?" And I looked him at him and I was like,
(unintelligible due to mic noise) has these like matches with animals that have tiny brains the size of a walnut, like, it's like people yell at their kids in the supermarket, like, really, really, you can't do something else? Like, you're not in charge? And, you know, again, Jon, that man is not in charge. He is just not in charge. I don't know what his deal is. I don't know what he was lost in reverie about. Again, no tags. Like, I don't know who's going and tagging the Garfield comics, but all the kind of sad ennui
strips probably need a little bit of attention. I'll be getting on that right after this.
Last, Garfield on my birthday, this is the last one. It's a Sunday comic, it's got some nice kinda Crayola colors over it. It appears that we are at Tsunami Junction, which is some kind of amusement park? And what's-her-name is there, and she's in a bathing suit, and it's one of those like Wonderwoman bathing suits where you're like, "I don't know how that
stays up there, it's clearly fake!" Odie's there, because I guess like they're friends, and Garfield... yeah, Garfield really does have really big feet. I don't know why I never noticed that before. So what's her name, Arlene? Liz? Ehh. And so she's like, "It was a good idea of Jon to come to a water park." So, like, she's sitting there with the pets, where is he? What's going on, what is up with their relationship, they go to the water park, she's wearing a crazy hat, and then she's like, "Hey, where is he,
anyway, Garfield? I think he went on that big slide..." Big slide, right? Big slides are fun. And then all you hear for the next three panels is, "Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeyaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhh!" "Splash." And, the most horrifying Jon that I have ever seen shows up with his pants yanked up to his armpits and all his hair
doing that like eighteen hairs stuck up thing. Looking at him, he's only got like four teeth. And Garfield says, "The 'atomic wedgie'." And Jon says, "Can we go home?"

sfx: (Music: Moving Out by Billy Joel)

sfx: (Music: Moving Out by Billy Joel, continued)

mathowie: Nothing's permanent in this world, and although this comic is now gone, I decided to go ten years back from today and start reading some Cathy. These are classics from the Cathy archive. Starting on April 2nd, 2001, the first panel: It's 1981, and it's Cathy with a pencil, and she says, "I can't figure out

how to do my taxes." And then the next panel, it's 1991, and she's got a pencil and tax prep software, which is kind of bold, I didn't know Cathy was such an early adopter, 1991 and all. And she says, "Can't figure out how to do my taxes." Ho-ho, Cathy! So, the next panel, it's 2001, the present day. It's me with a pencil, tax prep software, fifteen tax help hotlines, and a global network of income tax professional support groups
and online guides. Wow. She predicted Ask Metafilter in April. But she says, "Can't figure out how to do my taxes!!" And the last panel says, "The only aspects of my financial life that ever compound are the ways in which I feel like an idiot." Ohhh Cathy, it's not that bad.
Let's go to the next day. Cathy's saying, "Help! I want to file my taxes electronically, but there are
too many sites to choose from!" And then people in her office are running to her desk to help her. And then she says, "Help! The tax prep software won't download! Help! Stuck in an automated interview!" There's more people collecting at her desk, and she says, "Help! It rejected my entry! Help! The mouse froze! Help! I can't get back to line 14!" And then someone from her office says, "Why are you trying to file electronically?"
And she says, "Ease and anonymity." Oh, Cathy.
Let's see, what's the next one? We're still in a tax arc. Okay. First panel: "Investments: lost. Savings: blown. Credit: maxed out." And she's going to accountants. And now she's at her accountant's desk. "Everyone's storming in here and blaming me for everything this year! You aren't going to do that, are you??" Yes, Cathy.
And she says, "Thunder: stolen." Ho-ho.
Let me see, she's talking to her accountant, and then the next day, the accountant says, "ATMs ruined my life. Before ATMs, people used to go inside banks, remember? People used to talk to other people about their money! But now I'm it. I'm the only human connection to your money! Because of the ATM, 364 days of financial hostility get saved up and dumped on
me!" And in the next panel, Cathy's dumping her entire year's receipts on his desk, and she goes, "Where shall I begin?" And he's thinking to himself, "First, stocks. Now, the plummeting pity market."
Oh, see what's next, eh. Oh, Cathy and her accountant still. Accountant says, "While others bought stocks, you bought shoes." And then he says, "While others traded in blue chips,
you traded in blue jeans... While others invested in dot-coms, you invested in doo-dads... While others played the market, you played the mall. ...And now you're broke. While others wallow in total ruin, you are merely broke!" And he's got his arms up in victory, because this is during the dot-com bust. And Cathy's saying, "Plus, I can have a garage sale!" Hee, she always looks on the upside.

sfx: (Music: Taxman by The Beatles)

mathowie: Oh, let me see, the next one. Cathy... she's still going through her receipts for the year 2000. "January 11th, 188.99, a hundred and eighty-eight dollars and ninety-nine cents spent on riding boots... Why? February 13th, an eleven dollar and thirty-seven cent scented candle... Why? April 23rd, a 44.98 white t-shirt... Why? July 7th, hundred and thirty-five dollar forty-four cent bath accessory set... Why? Why? Why?"

And then her mom is with her. She says, "You were oblivious to how much you were spending as you were spending it, Cathy. Why are you agonizing over every penny now?" And she says, "Only in guilt am I completely meticulous." Oh, Cathy. Her insights are for the ages.
Ooh, a Sunday in color! There's some dogs, and there's popcorn flying around. And they're talking, the dogs are talking about
popcorn flying around the carpet. And the dogs are saying, "They jump up, fly across the room, sit down, eat. They jump up again, land someplace else, eat. They hop in the car, drive somewhere, eat. Hop back in the car, drive home, eat. They pop into the kitchen, eat. Hop back on the sofa, eat. They're up, they land, they eat. They're up, they land, they eat. Up. Land. Eat. Up. Land.
Eat." Oh, those weren't popcorn, they're little poofs of smoke! Ohhh. These are poofs of smoke left by humans, and the dogs are commenting on them. Yeah. The last panel says, "Our humans worry that we have fleas. We worry that they are fleas." Ohhhh.
Alright, back to Monday. Yay! No more tax arc.
So, the first panel--oh, what, it is about taxes. This is Cathy at the office, and these are people at her office talking. "I e-filed my taxes on January 1st, so I can earn extra interest on an early refund!" And the next person from her office says, "I pulled out of NASDAQ before the big nosedive and put my profits in recession-proof munis!" And then Cathy says, "I've got an open box of Girl Scout cookies in the car for three weeks and only have eaten four cookies."
And then everyone in the office mobs her. And it says, "Life in 2001: So many superstars, so few real heroes." It is Girl Scout cookie season.
Ahhh, there's Cathy talking to her accountant again, and she's saying to her accountant, "You've lost weight, haven't you? You look fabulous. How are the wife and kids? This must be a stressful time. What a tower of strength you are!
I hope you get a much-deserved vacation soon." The CPA says, "Being nice to your accountant will not get you a tax break." And then Cathy says, "So much for my financial planning!" Whomp whomp!

sfx: (Music: Money by Pink Floyd)

sfx: (Music: Money by Pink Floyd, continued)

mathowie: Oof, more accountant stuff. Not a single sweat line, not a single utterance of the phrase "Ack!" I'm actually kind of surprised. We're on a streak. 11 in a row, no "Ack!", no sweat lines. Though, her accountant's saying, "No stocks? No bonds? No munis? No Ginnie Maes? No rentals? No capital gains? No capital losses? No dividends? No interest? No depreciation?

No entertainment? No memberships? No movie expenses? No dependents?" Cathy says, "No." Accountant says, "Perhaps we should take a moment to discuss your future goals." And she says, "I want to simplify my life." And the accountant's throwing away the piece of paper he was reading. Hm. Why does she even need an accountant, if she doesn't have a complex--she should be able to file in like ten minutes, really? She just has one job. I don't know how hard this is. Why does she keep receipts for shoes
she bought the year before? I don't understand.
Anywho. New one! She's still at the CPA office. Cathy's saying to her CPA, "I'd like to file for an extension this year." And he's saying, "Certainly." And she says, "I want four more dieting months until white pants season, ten more months until swimsuit season, two more years to meet someone and start a family, and five more years to rethink my career before I start sharing my puny income with the IRS!"
The CPA's booted her from the office, and she says, "Also, I need 48 more hours to find a CPA with an imagination!" And she's covered in receipts. Ohhh, Cathy.
Alright. April 13th, 2001. Cathy is looking at her taxes. I think she's getting a report. We're leading up to tax day. This is finally the end of the arc. And she's saying,
she's covering her eyes in the first panel, and she says, "Don't make me look! I don't want to look! You didn't look, did you?? Okay... I'm going to look. I'll force myself to look. AACK!" Finally, our first AACK. Ooh, sweat lines in the next one. She says, "I looked! I saw! I'll do better! I'll reform! Just get that hideous number out of my head!!" And there's sweat lines everywhere. And the final panel is the accountant showing her tax summary, and it says, "The accountant's office is like a giant bathroom scale. Shall we peek at page
2?" And there's the poofs and sweat lines where she was sitting before, that she's bailing from the office.
Alright. Two last panels before tax day! She's talking to the account, and says, "Am I the worst?" And he says, "Excuse me?" And then Cathy says, "Am I the most disorganized, the latest? Is my spending hideous, medium, or frugal?? How quickly do my eyes glaze
over when you start speaking compared to others in my income range?" And she has like stink lines around her in the last one, and it says, "Forget the tax bracket. I just want to know what human bracket I'm in..." And the accountant's rolling his eyes.
Alright, April 15th, 2001. It's a Sunday, and I think it's Easter, because there's Easter baskets, but they have Form 1040--oh,
and the 1040 forms come in A, EZ, ES, and ICK. And here it is. And he says, the accountant says, "Here's your tax return for your review, Cathy." And she says, "Thank you." "Review what? If I had any idea what any of it meant, I could have filed it myself! How long do I have to spend on each page for him to think I'm actually comprehending something? Which area of the page should my eyes even be pointed towards??" And there's sweat lines everywhere.
"I should ask a question, but what? And then, won't I have to pretend I understand the answer?" More sweat lines. "Now, too much time has passed. Now he knows I'm an idiot... Now I can't even focus... I'm no longer sure what language this is written... my face is going numb..." "No questions. Nice job. Lovely work. Let me out here before my brain explodes!" And there's a big poof of smoke and her hair's all crazy, and the accountant says in the last panel, "Is there any other business
in which the satisfied customer looks so miserable?" Ohhh. That sums it up. That's Cathy classics for April 1st to April 15th, 2001.

sfx: (Music: Proud Mary by Creedence Clearwater Revival)

sfx: (Music: Proud Mary by Creedence Clearwater Revival, continued)

pb: This is Mary Worth from March 2nd, 2011. We see two people sitting in a restaurant. There's some lattice work on the wall. There's a middle-aged man sitting to the left. He's balding and eating a sandwich. Across from the table

is a middle-aged woman who's wearing a lovely pink blazer and some pearls, and she's gesturing with her hands, sort of a pleading gesture. She says, "There was a time when I knew I had to let Tommy to make his own decisions." And next panel we zoom in closer on her face. "Even though I didn't agree with them. It felt devastating, but I knew I had to do it."
We go on to the next comic. They're still talking, they've now clasped hands across the table, and the man has his hand over his face and says, "Why has Dawn changed so much? Things used to be less complicated." And we switch. It says, "Meanwhile," and we enter the interior bedroom of a young woman. She's sitting on her bed with an Apple laptop. On her dresser is a alarm clock, a picture of her
parents, who we now know are the two people who were just talking in the other scene, a box of Kleenex, and she's typing.
Next comic. The narration says, "Dawn is not able to sleep." And we see Dawn, she's been crying, and she's looking in the mirror, looking at the portrait of her smiling parents. And in the mirror we see Dawn, still at the laptop. Next panel. "And is startled by what she sees in the mirror."
Her hand is on her face. She's obviously very upset. The Apple logo is prominent in the mirror.
Next comic. We see Dawn talking on the phone, and through the phone we hear, "Dawn, do you realize what time it is? Are you okay?" Dawn says, "Cathy,"--we see the alarm clock on her dresser says 3:15--"I feel like I'm going crazy." And from the phone we hear, "Was it a bad dream or something?"
Dawn turns to a friend when she can't sleep. Dawn says, "I go online to relieve stress, but it's having the opposite effect." Through the phone we hear, "Dawn, you have to snap out of this online compulsion or whatever you have. I'm going back to sleep. I suggest you do the same." And Dawn sort of shrugs and says, "I wish I could!"

sfx: (Music: I Never Fall Asleep At Night by Crash Test Dummies)

pb: We cut to a brightly lit kitchen. The kitchen is yellow, the furniture is orange, and Dawn appears to be sitting with her father. The narration says, "The next day..." And Dawn's father says, "Dawn, you look like you could use some quality time.

The real live kind." Dawn's at the table with her PDA. "Are you free this weekend? Do you want to do something together then?" "Okay, sure," says Dawn, but she doesn't look sure.
Next comic. Wilbur's surprised when Dawn agrees to weekend plans with him. What, no "I'm too busy, Dad," or "Maybe another time"? "I thought about what you said," and, Dawn continues,
"But I could use a break from being online. And you're right," and her very happy father says, "Then block out Saturday on your calendar. I have something special in mind."
Next comic. Now we see the two in a car, and they're driving. And Dawn says, "Where are we going?" And Dad says, "You'll see. I think you'll like it. It'll be good for you. And us." And they drive away.
"Santa Royale Meadows Park?" And Dad says, "Yes! I have something to show you in the trunk!" And there's a sign outside the car that says "Welcome. Santa Royale Meadows Park. Open: dawn to dusk." And then we cut to the interior of the car. "What is it?" And the father says, "Something we can do together for some family fun." Now they're out of the car, they've parked, and they're opening up the trunk. And Dawn says,
"Oh, Dad... what a great idea!" And the father says, "There's a great wind going! Let's turn our sails loose."
And now we're at March 14th. And the two are flying kites. The narration says, "When Wilbur takes Dawn to the park to give her an offline break." They're flying kites, it's a lovely day, not a cloud in the sky, there are some birds and bushes. The father says, "Isn't this better than
staring at a screen?" And Dawn says, "It's definitely a change. A welcome change."

sfx: (Music: Let's Go Fly A Kite from Mary Poppins)

sfx: (Music: Let's Go Fly A Kite from Mary Poppins, continued)

pb: We're still at the park, and it looks like they're packing up. "Thanks, Dad, I had fun." Dad says, "So did I. I used to fly kites when I was a kid. When it was a simpler time." Dawn says, "Dad, I'm sorry about how I've been acting." And Dad says, "It's okay, Dawn. I was worried about you, and about us. We're good now though,

right?" And they're still outside the car talking. "Things were always good between us. The problem was not within me, not us. How are you now?" Dawn gives her father a big hug. "I'm better, now that I see how much you care."
Now we cut to inside the car. "I really needed our outing today. I wish I'd realized it sooner." The father says, "Everyone needs a break every now and then.
And we need some time together, too." And Dawn says, "I'm glad we did this."
Now we see outside the car. They're driving along a sunny road. "For a while, I kind of withdrew from you. I don't know how you put up with me." And the father says, "Everyone goes through periods of withdrawal and retreat. It's when that behavior lasts over a prolonged period of time that it becomes worrisome."
And now we're parked again, back home. They're taking their kites out of the car. The father says, "We have to do this again." And she says, "I agree. The weather and wind today were perfect. We lucked out!" Her father says, "We're lucky in so many ways."
Now we cut back to the interior of the young woman's bedroom. She's on her bed, no laptop in sight, she's holding a teddy bear, and she says, she's on the phone with her friend,
"Cathy... I'm not going to be responding to my online accounts tomorrow." And through the phone we hear, "Why not? Are you catching up on sleep you lost due to insomnia?" And Dawn says, "No. I'm going to take an offline break every Saturday. I had an epiphany!" There's an exclamation mark from across the phone.
"You probably think it's strange, Cath, but I want to spend more quality time with my dad. We spent
a day at the park last week, and I realized how lucky I am to have him." Through the phone we hear, "Dawn, you are lucky. I lost my dad five years ago, and nothing's been quite the same ever since." And now we see Cathy on the other end of the phone, and we hear Dawn, "There's so much I want to do... not just with my dad, but in life." And Cathy says, "I could use a break from the computer myself." She's sitting in what appears to be a cubicle
with a laptop and some speakers and books.
We cut back to the bedroom. "That's why I've decided to go offline every Saturday, and take a break from staring at a screen." And from the phone we hear, "Dawn, count me in!"
And now we're in an interior room with Mary Worth and a lovely blonde-haired woman. Mary Worth says, "Toby, did I see Dawn leave here?" And Toby says, "Yes, we've just started lessons.
She approached me about learning to paint, and I agreed to teach her." Mary Worth says, "I didn't know she had the inclination."

sfx: (Music: Same Blue Devils by Grant-Lee Phillips)

sfx: (Music: Same Blue Devil by Grant-Lee Phillips continues to play softly underscoring cortex)

cortex: Well, that's it for our first episode of the Metafilter Comics Digest Podcast. Next time, I take a look at exactly who Mark Trail has been punching the crime out of and the beards off of, Matt reviews some of his favorite memories about Apartment 3-G's red-headed third wheel, Tommie, Jessamyn investigates rumors about subversive sexual messaging on the comics page in a report we're calling

"Beetle Bailey Beetle Gaily", and pb conducts step-by-step walk-throughs of a few of our favorite Jumbles. Thanks again so much for listening. We'll hope you join us again. In the meantime, watch out for the Mondays, and keep on laughing.

sfx: (Music: Same Blue Devil returns to full volume)

sfx: (Music: Same Blue Devil by Grant-Lee Phillips, end)


  • beryllium - 136 segments
  • Pronoiac - 6
  • Josh Millard - 2
  • adrianhon - 2