Wednesday, November 08, 2006

We're Bachelors, Baby

A little poseur thug tried to case the place and rob me a few nights ago at work; it was, and I say this in all seriousness, possibly the saddest display of incompetence that I've ever seen. I watched him as he tried to phone a buddy for backup in the lobby (announcing his plans in an indoor speaking voice right where I could see and hear him; yes, really), then I casually went about foiling his best laid plans -- by escorting him out of the building, locking the front door, and watching in amusement as he pinged himself off the glass repeatedly like a moth.

This is the quality of criminal element that Winnipeg has to offer? How does anybody ever get robbed around here? Ye gads, man!

There isn't very much more to the story than that; it's just a humourous sidenote to let you know what I've been up to lately. Paid to sit around all night and I get to think circles around prospective robbers? Man, that was the highlight of my week!

What? Well, yeah, I do need to get out more. No argument there. (And save for some communications breakdowns with a friend of mine, I was going to get out and do something last night -- BUT OH WELL.)

So, just because I was in a bizarrely good mood about the whole thing (and believe me, it was really funny to see him turn around and smack himself into the door -- it's locked, genius!), here are a few songs that completely overstate the matter but regardless convey that I am not a man to be trifled with lightly.

Ice Cube - Wrong Nigga to Fuck Wit [buy]
De La Soul - Stakes is High [buy]
Max Romeo & the Upsetters - I Chase the Devil [buy]
Gogol Bordello - Oh No [buy]

Grr! I am deadly dangerous.

Anyway, as I was saying earlier, that's just a humourous sidenote and an excuse to post some songs; what I really intend to write about in this post is Garfield.

You heard me!

This may sound like a strange thing to want to discuss, but I've really been digging the Garfield strips this week.

Garfield has a reputation, and largely a deserved one, for having become remarkably unfunny over the years -- and the revelation was made online earlier this year that the comic is almost always way funnier without Garfield's thought balloons. Jon comes across as lonely and pathetic in the actual strip, when Garfield is a superintelligent wisecrack machine that just happens to be a cat; when the dialogue is removed, and Garfield is instead just an everyday cat, Jon becomes increasingly psychotic and surreal.


But disregarding all that for the moment, let me return to the actual series. You can say a lot of negative things about Jim Davis' flagship creation, and these things are hard to argue against -- intellectually redundant, spiralling ever downward for decades now, led to two shitty major motion pictures, everything Bill Watterson said about it is true, yes yes yes yes. But every so often, just when I'm all prepared to write him off once and for all, Jim Davis up and shares flashes of brilliance with us -- or at least flashes of insanity, which translate into brilliance by virtue of the medium they're delivered through. They always seem to take the form of week-long story arcs; sometimes they're easily accessible, sometimes they're a bit bizarre, and sometimes they're a complete and total departure from the usual safety nets of the series.

If you don't believe that this happens from time to time, or if you don't believe that the quality of Garfield has gone downward comparatively over the years, consider this week of strips from October 23rd to 28th, 1989:


Now, obviously, he doesn't do anything quite that extreme all the time. In fact, he only went to this level once, and I'd imagine most kids like myself reading Garfield at the time did not know what to make of it.

That was back in 1989, remember; after that point, the strip just rolled downhill and degenerated into a collection of writing traps -- "LOOK EVERYBODY I AM A CAT THAT HAS EATEN SOMETHING HE SHOULDN'T HAVE TO GREAT COMEDIC EFFECT", or "ISN'T IT FUNNY THAT A CAT WOULD WATCH SOMETHING FUNNY ON THE TELEVISION", or "HAY GUYS I AM FAT LOL". Now, I'm sure a great many people appreciate these -- but I can't be the only one thinking that Garfield becomes far more interesting reading material when Jim Davis overtly starts screwing with people's heads.

My absolute favourite example of this, even over the above, was the week of October 22nd to 27th, 2001. When you open up the paper to the comics section, you know what exactly to expect from that day's Garfield -- or at least, you usually know what to expect. However:

The dog disappeared from the comics forever, having never appeared prior to these strips, and no explanation was ever offered about why any of this was going on; a dog in a superhero outfit spent six days finding new and inventive ways to flatten Garfield with a senton suicida, and then the strip continued on from there as though nothing had ever happened.

I mean, just, god damn. These are Garfield strips specifically operating on the principle of screwing with the way your brain understand Garfield, and I love them.

So, with that in mind, understand that I am being truthful when I say that Garfield hasn't actually provided any amusement or interest to me since 2001. At least, until now!

There I was at work early Monday morning, sitting there overnight, reading the papers as they came in at three or four in the morning. I scanned the Free Press comics section, as I do, and:

Okay, admittedly, that's pretty funny. (I've always felt that humour written around Jon is by far the core strength of the series; there are a lot more jokes to write around around a man leading a miserable life than there are to write about a cat drinking coffee.) I finished the paper and went about my day.

The next day, same scenario, and:

Oh, man, yes. This is accessible as a standalone strip to anybody who didn't read the Monday one, but then underneath that the dread beast of continuity is building off the day before -- and, continuity fan that I am, I love that to pieces. You thought Jon was pathetic yesterday? He was! And now, with this added layer of sadness in place, he's worse!

Now, yesterday was my day off. (My weekends consist of Tuesdays and Thursdays; I never get to do anything.) I was so dead tired that I slept through everything, including the movie I was going to go to with some folks (not that they phoned me, of course), and then I woke up late into the night and pissed off at myself for sleeping through everything.

I puttered around for a few hours, the paper arrived at my house, and:

And then I felt better. Good ol' Jim Davis! May he one day go completely insane yet still retain control of the writing process. Here's to you, Jim!

Go figure that foiling a robbery and reading a particularly good week of Garfield are the most positive developments in my life right now. Back to being grouchy!

I'm already peeved about missing out on seeing a movie with friends last night, but the being peeved does not peter out there! Remember how I had posted previously about having to miss an upcoming Moses Mayes concert because I had to work that night?

Turns out that Moses Mayes are performing this Saturday, the 11th, at the Pyramid Cabaret to commemmorate the release of their third full-length album.

And I have to miss it. Because I have to work that night.

They schedule a show on Remembrance Day and I still can't get to it? I'm beginning to take major issue with the pattern of my scheduled hours at work.

I shall continue to grouch! Grouch grouch grouch! Grr!

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