Wednesday, January 31, 2007

I did not know that

No sign of the duck today. Instead we're treated to a figure who's apparently supposed to be Howard Dean and--actually I don't know who the blonde is supposed to be, some lesbian latte-sipping liberal I suppose.

Anyway, actual dialogue from the strip:

Dean: Oh geeez! Mallard Fillmore's starting a populist "draft Walter Williams for the G.O.P. nomination" movement!
LL-sL: But isn't that how your "grass-roots" campaign in 2004 started sir?

How about that, Howard Dean's candidacy began with a Mallard Fillmore comic strip!

Be a glutton for punishment: Read the strip

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Walter who?

Ah so the big reveal comes, and it turns out that the "threat" is a demand that Walter Williams run for president.

The wikipedia article, in that blandly non-controversial way that wikipedia talks about controversial people, says

Dr. Williams is also a critic of the minimum wage and affirmative action, believing that both practices are detrimental to blacks. Dr. Williams especially emphasizes his belief that racism and the legacy of slavery in the United States are overemphasized as problems faced by the black community and do not adequately explain the situation blacks face today.
Of course, he also thinks that the confederate states had a right to secede. Because after all, the secession had nothing to do with slavery, it was all about state's rights. And you wouldn't believe the great deal he got on the Brooklyn Bridge. He'll be making a mint on the tolls as soon as the paperwork comes through.

He also lauds capitalism as being much superior to feudalism. Apparently it allows people to amass large amounts of money by "serving your fellow man" rather than "looting, plundering and enslaving their fellow man.". And it also, of course prevents us from establishing feudal dynasties.

Personally, I have to admit that I have my own preferences for who Bruce should have named in this strip if he were to go this direction.

In the department of I'm-clearly-not-qualified-to-write-this-blog, I had no idea that the duck is supposed to be a TV reporter. There had been some clues that he was a journalist of some sort, but I had always assumed he was a newspaper reporter. How old media of me.

Be a glutton for punishment: Read the strip

Monday, January 29, 2007

There's no humor like black humor

Bruce Tinsley declares that this week, he "will threaten an African American!!" Throw in a silent panel and then the revelation that it's all a desparate cry for attention and well, it's just kind of sad, really.

Coming soon: Yelling fire in a crowded theater to get the media's attention.

Use the comments thread to predict just who he'll be threatening. My guess is Barack Obama.

Be a glutton for punishment: Read the strip

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Rant-free Sunday

I keep staring at this strip, looking for the offensive, misinformed conservative rant. I don't see it. Can it be? A rant-free Mallard Fillmore? Has the descendency of the Republican party mellowed Bruce Tinsley? As we'll no doubt see tomorrow the answer will clearly be, "of course not." Apparently, in the spirit of snark-free Sunday, the duck has decided to treat us to a rant-free Sunday.

Which is not to say all is well here. Today, Bruce didn't forget to include a joke, but the joke is kind of lame and cliched and feels like it could be any Blondie. And back-up remote? Umm, Bruce, you do know that you can change the batteries, right? Or perhaps that's the stealth joke in today's strip and it is actually funny.

Be a glutton for punishment: Read the strip

Saturday, January 27, 2007

You are what you eat

Crazy illogical people will complain because Bruce says that Chinese people eat dogs. Sane logical people will complain because Bruce can't produce anything remotely resembling a citation.

Personally, if you're going to get upset about eating dogs, then you should be even more upset about eating pigs. Hell, you look into it all, and you'd be a vegetarian. I'd be a vegetarian if it weren't for that whole not eating meat thing.

But from Bruce's perspective, the most important thing is not whether it's morally appropriate to eat dogs (or other meat), but to defend himself against claims of being politically incorrect because he wants to say that Chinese people eat dogs. Never mind, that in the cursory research that I did using Bruce's own sources, I found that dog is far more popular in Korea and Vietnam. It's kind of like talking about Cubans eating tacos and enchiladas. Yes, you can find those foods in Cuba, but that's not where they're popular.

No illustration today, I was going to use that scene from Hannibal, but when I found a picture, it started to put me off eating anything.

Added bonus, there's a new little ad box in the upper left corner of the page. Based on the network, you can expect this to be an ad listing from some web cartoon or other. I was going to make a snarky comment about how they were paying good money, as much as nothing per day to appear in that space, but there's apparently already some competition to appear on these pages, so check them out and give them some bang for their buck (they pay to appear, not for the clicks).

Even more added bonus. From the Wichita Eagle:

A reader asked about a new stomach virus going around: "Did God make it, or did it evolve?" Neither. It was caused by President Bush and "Mallard Fillmore."
You know you're in trouble when you're a conservative duck and you've lost Kansas (dot com).

Be a glutton for punishment: Read the strip

Friday, January 26, 2007

It's official--it IS obesity week on Mallard Fillmore

My favorite part of the strip is Bruce Tinsley's attempt to make up for his poor citation skills (come on, at least a date!), he tells us to just "Google 'dog eating'". Alas, there was nothing about rising dog meat consumption in China in the pages of search results that I looked through before, being afflicted with ADD, I got bored and decided to play Tetris instead.

I do have to admit that there have been less helpful internet pointers than Tinsley's.

Gee Bruce, even people who provide lame useless citations do it funnier than you. Oh yeah, Jack Elrod's better at drawing ducks too.

Be a glutton for punishment: Read the strip

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Freedom is on the march (offer not valid in China)

The rant about childhood obesity in China continues. And I have to admit that Bruce is right that the Chinese almost certainly did import the problem from us. In fact, when I was doing some of the initial research for yesterday's commentary, I found that we've apparently been quite successful in exporting the problem to large portions of the world. Basic rule: The more Americanized a country's food system is, the more obesity becomes a problem. We've even got the French.

But I do think Bruce is wrong on the rest of it. I think the Chinese have settled on American-style democracy and human rights.

Be a glutton for punishment: Read the strip

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Is that you Hillary?

PC? That's so 1992

I was in college during the rise of the concept of political correctness, for the few years before the term had changed in meaning from "language that's not racist, sexist, or otherwise offensive" to "anything that Rush Limbaugh disagrees with and why can't we just go back to the days of minstrel shows anyway because they were harmless fun". So, I feel qualified to say that using Rex Morgan to play an asian kid would in fact be far less PC than would drawing the asian kid. That is, assuming that you can draw the asian kid at all, which, as we know from the long hard experience of reading MF, is a dangerous assumption to make about Tinsley's artistic abilities.

But if Tinsley had anything funny to say about childhood obesity in China, then a depiction of an asian youth would not be viewed with outrage (although part of that would be shock at people reading a MF with a joke in it), so Bruce, get over yourself.

So I'm guessing that this is going to be fat week. I suppose I should start researching some solid stuff about nutrition. Or I could just tell you to read this book.

Be a glutton for punishment: Read the strip

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Fat dogs and drugs

So, apparently Bruce's modus operandi is to look in the paper for something to get outraged about. I imagine that he pictures Pfizer scientists spending a great deal of effort making a drug for dogs. I somehow suspect that this isn't the case at all. More likely, Slentrol was created as part of a research program for human weight loss drugs. After all, animals are used in early phase drug research, and in this case it turns out that the drug uses a mechanism which is unique to dogs. It won't work for people or cats.

Or perhaps it's shock that the FDA might regulate drugs for non-human consumption. Which tells me that Bruce ought to get out more.

But the really interesting thing is that apparently, Bruce thinks that his outrage is so important that it would get reported on TV. Nope, just some piddling blog.

Be a glutton for punishment: read the strip

Monday, January 22, 2007

To make up for the duck being dull today

I feel compelled to report Tony Snow's response when asked what the best part of the upcoming state of the union address would be:

It's like looking in a drawer full of diamonds
I'm sure it is.

Oh boy I caught the duck in hypocrisy...

.. just like every day.

Coaches moving on to jobs with better pay? Oh dear, what would Milton Friedman think of that?

Need I add that the "poetry" is so arhythmic, that I didn't even realize that it was supposed to be a poem until the third time I looked at the strip and noticed the word "ode" in the first panel?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Sundays, just like the rest of the week but in color and 3x as unfunny

We get some more brilliantly unfunny commentary from the duck today. Let's see, "joke" one: Hillary Clinton is running against Barack Obama. She'll be fighting hard, but does Tinsley really believe that she'd really say something as openly racist as "America's not ready for a black president"? I'm sorry, I don't think even Pat Robertson would be that stupid.

"Joke" two: "Barack Obama" is hard to pronounce. Umm, only if you have some sort of large prosthetic appliance in your mouth (get your mind out of the gutter, I'm talking about orthodontia). Of course that puts aside the right-wing wags who say things like Barack Osama or joyfully point out that Obama's middle name is Hussein. Which is a really effective political tactic--if you're running for Junior High Class President. Personally my first choice pick for 2008 is Al Gore, but he's almost definitely not running. Obama is my second choice and I believe that he'll be the next president of the US (barring a Bush impeachment/resignation). But at least those comments are a lot funnier than what Tinsley came up with.

"Joke" three: Milton Friedman. OK, I'll admit I had to go to wikipedia on this one. I've heard the name, but I'll be damned if I knew anything about what the man claimed, although I think that Michael J. Fox's character might have declared him his favorite economist back in the Family Ties days. Skimming over wikipedia, it seems that he's a big-time laissez faire guy. Fair enough, there's a lot to be said for that, although I think there are limits and so, apparently did Friedman. I think though that I'd draw the line a lot farther back than Friedman would, and his support of school vouchers is a classic example of that sort of ideological blindness. When anyone actually starts looking at how vouchers work in practice, flaws become grossly apparent. What people forget is that the purpose of public education is to make sure that we have an educated population to avoid gross failures in the democratic principle.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Wow, almost funny

I have to admit, this time Bruce Tinsley managed to lightly amuse me. Sure, the 419 e-mails aren't about Americans dieing in plane crashes, but on the other hand, African airlines do have a higher rate of fatal events with their aircrafts than do airlines from most other areas (although the mideast doesn't come out so well either, nor does AirTran airlines in the United States who actually have a worse safety record than Nigerian airlines.

So the big news here is that the duck is kind of funny and only partially wrong. But then it was snowing in Los Angeles earlier this week. Clearly the apocalypse is near.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Nigerian 419 scams: Tinsley's solution for the AIDS crisis in Africa

Ah the Nigerian 419 scam, one of the most bizarre of all scams. There's a great deal of humor to be mined from this. It's almost impossible to go wrong.

But of course, this is Mallard Fillmore we're talking about. And Bruce Tinsley decides, "I won't take the money, it'll revert to the government and bingo! the AIDS crisis is solved."

Oh Bruce Bruce Bruce, there isn't any money.

If you do want to do something about AIDS, you could buy a Red iPod, or better still, make a donation to my friend Cam's AIDS/LifeCycle fundraising. Add an extra $.03 to the end of your donation so that he'll know I sent the donation.

Update: There's even more reason to find Tinsley a little offensive today.

Update 2: Doonesbury shows Bruce how it's done:

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Bruce Tinsley, please don't talk about the Cubs

There are some things that I believe very strongly in. Two of them are that the DH rule is the product of Satan, and that you should cheer for the baseball team from the city of your birth for the entirety of your life. This means that when I have kids, they'll be raised to be Dodger fans, even though I'm a Cubs fan.

So as a dedicated Cubs fan, let me just say, Bruce Tinsley, you have no right to talk about my team. Just by acknowledging their existence in passing in a poem with no discernible meter, you make me feel like I need to take a shower.

And there's a reason people don't, as a rule, talk about sporting events in comic strips: By the time the strip hits print, nobody cares. The exception that proves the rule, of course, would be the Get Fuzzy strips about the Red Sox winning the world series.

But when it comes to college bowl games, come on, two weeks later, no one can remember who played in which one, let alone who won. People are busy worrying about more important things, like the NFL playoffs.

And speaking of the NFL playoffs, even though I'm Chicago-born and bred, I'm not rooting for the Bears. I will boycott them until they get rid of that abomination that they've desecrated Soldier Field with. It's fugly. And evil. L.A., meanwhile, has managed to lose not just one, but two teams in my time here, so now I just don't really pay attention to football at all. But that's OK, baseball season begins in just over two months.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Glory Hallelujah!

We only had two days of Saddam Hussein limericks. Maybe after the latest fiasco, Tinsley got on the phone to the syndicate and begged them to pull what was planned to be a week-long series. Or maybe we'll be treated to some really tasteless attempts at poetry in a couple of weeks. The question in Tinsley's mind: "does Iraqization rhyme with decapitation?"

Today's strip carries the implication that with all that's wrong about Mallard Fillmore, apparently what really inspires people to send a letter to Indiana is what the duck has to say about bowl games. I don't know much about college football, I have to admit (I went to a division III school, we had a football team which consistently lost to such athletic powerhouses as, um, actually, I have no idea who they played. Neither did anyone else that I knew). But I do tend towards conservatism when it comes to sports. That means that I'm summarily opposed to sports league expansion, think that their should be ten schools in the Big Ten, and that the super bowl is supposed to be a match-up between the best school in the Big Ten and the best school in the Pac Ten, and who cares about all those other bowls?

So maybe the Boise State punchline really is funny. I have no idea. I suspect not. What would be funny is if Boise State was some bad team that got to play in a big-time bowl, but they apparently went 13-0 and won the fiesta bowl in overtime.

Score today: Right vs wrong? Maybe right. Funny? Not even close.

And I think that this was meant to be a poem with the emphasized rhyming words at the ends of lines 2 and 4, but again, there is no rhythm. Yo Bruce, if you get some rhythm, some music, and your girl, well, who could ask for anything more?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Bruce Tinsley can't dance

Given Tinsley's clear lack of sense of rhythm in his attempts at limerick, I think that it's a safe assumption that the man can't dance.

Today represents one of those dilemmas about critiquing Mallard Fillmore. It's not just the factual inaccuracies and sheer unfunniness that indicate that displacing it by reruns of Ziggy would be an improvement, but also the tedious repetition. So let me talk about something other than today's strip.

I have two brothers. They're both republicans, I'm (as both of my readers could easily tell) a democrat.

In comic strip terms, I'd categorize us as follows:

I'm Doonesbury. I'm funnier, better looking and have a clear sense of style.

Jim is Prickly City. He's wrong a lot of the time, but he's got a sense of humor and doesn't always take everything that's dictated by Karl Rove and Rush Limbaugh at face value.

Rich is Mallard Fillmore. He's stubbornly wrong. He believes that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11, that Bush should have unlimited power, and strangely, even though he's worked as a writer for a few TV sitcoms, he's almost never funny.

Monday, January 15, 2007

The duck's lead time is 2 weeks

And so he felt compelled to write a poem letting the poor cowering Iraqis who feared his return know that it was safe to stop cowering.

I'm not sure that anyone reallly feared Saddam's return at this point. On the other hand, the poorly handled execution did effectively turn the unpopular secular dictator into a Sunni Muslim martyr. Oops. Fortunately, it doesn't appeared to have sparked an immediate wave of sectarian violence, but his death also didn't put an end to the civil war either.

From the rhyme scheme of Mr Tinsley's attempt at poetry, this is apparently supposed to be a limerick. Of course, I may be wrong, because while it does have the AABBA rhyme scheme of a limerick, it has nothing remotely resembling the metric quality of a limerick. Or the metric quality of, well, anything. This is my English major side coming out. I've done far too much scansion of poetry to take a poorly-written poem like this seriously. Heck, forget trying to get three metric feet out of the A lines and two from the B lines, we're looking at something where we can't even get consistent syllable counts. And while a limerick is a sort of "low" poetry, it does have a very rigid meter to it. Try saying, "There once was a man from Nantucket, etc." but replacing each syllable with a "dah", stressing where appropriate. You can easily feel how the limerick is supposed to go. Now try and read Tinsley's poem the same way. Notice how it really really doesn't work?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

It's Sunday!

And that means two things: A longer lead time on comic strips and a big expanse to fill. That means that we're treated to not one but THREE rants from the duck.

And Tinsley's bizarro world predictions include a US pull-out from the UN, an OJ reality show and some strange CBS news prediction (which is either a bizarre synchronicity with the daily strip or Tinsley was stuck for ideas this past week and decided to look at what he'd submitted for the Sunday to see if that inspired him).

So taking these one at a time: The UN. This is a favorite target of conservatives who find the UN useful only when it blindly supports the US. And when it doesn't it never occurs to them that maybe we're doing something wrong, like, oh, I don't know, maybe starting a war on false premises? I was a Model UN nerd in high school and college, which meant among other things digging through all kinds of UN documents looking at voting records on resolutions and their texts. One of the rather striking things I noticed was on a lot of common-sense-seeming resolutions before the General Assembly, the vote came down to, oh, EVERYBODY IN THE FUCKING WORLD yes, the US/Apartheid-era South Africa/Israel no. We're talking things like, let's get rid of land mines, or slavery, or apartheid.

Can't see why residents of any other countries would object to that.

As for the effectiveness of the UN, I would strongly recomend reading The Best Intentions: Kofi Annan and the UN in the Era of American World Power by James Traub. A big part of the UN's inability to act effectively has been the lack of will of its member states to commit to action, and the US is a big part of that problem.

OK, number two, the OJ thing. A reality show? I doubt it. I wonder if this was written before Rupert pulled the book. It is amusing to have the duck talking about how Fox news is going to rule the world and then have to address the fact that NewsCorp was behind OJ's book. Or for that matter, that it seemed to the extent to which anyone defended the book, they were from the conservative side of the spectrum. What will happen is that the book is going to end up being published by someone somewhere and it'll sell millions and we can all wring our collective hands over the decline of western civilization.

And number three. This seems to be a continuation of the duck's misogynistic attacks on Katie Couric from last fall. I've not seen her on the news, but when the Katie Couric strips ran, neither had Tinsley. His critique boiled down to "she's a woman, how can she possibly be a serious journalist?" I had to google Lara Logan whose picture appears to the right, but apparently his problem with her is, "she's an attractive woman, how can she possible be a serious journalist?" I don't know, maybe sixteen years of journalism experience including newspaper reporting and dispatches from multiple war zones has something to do with it?

And was there anything remotely funny here? At least Prickly City makes an effort to tell jokes.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

More network news

Oh brother, I'm afraid we're going to be treated to a long series of rants about how nobody watches network news. Umm, actually, a LOT of people do. Maybe fewer than used to when there were only three networks, but not only is Mr Tinsley still not funny, he's still wrong. But the funniest part of all this is having a joke about how nobody watches network news delivered in the context of having your character, um, watching network news.

Now it is possible to make funny jokes about low viewership, but they generally only work as self-deprecating humor. For example, if I were to refer to my reader of this site. Alas, we won't get that here since it's likely that in Tinsley's case he's afraid that if he says something about nobody reading his comic strip, then maybe the editors who publish his strip will stop running it.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Fox news and Toyota

We get not one but two pictures of the duck to go with the not-terribly funny joke. Apparently, in Bruce Tinsley's mind, Fox News=Toyota. I suppose you could make the case that they're both foreign-owned. Or perhaps he's making the case that Toyota owners are poorly informed.

Of course what Tinsley fails to mention is that Fox has been beginning to see its viewership disappear along with Bush's popularity ratings. For that matter, while Toyota is selling as many if not more cars than the Detroit "big three", the same cannot be said about Fox (gee Bruce, thanks for pointing me at where I found, by searching for "fox abc cbs nbc" a nice chart refuting your claims).

But wait what about the car stuff? I found this recent article, complete with a handy bar chart. It looks like Toyota is poised to overtake Ford for second place but not close to passing GM in total sales.

So not only is the duck not funny, he's also wrong.