The Existential Horror of Garfield

The other Garfield

Today is the 40th anniversary of the first appearance of Garfield!  To celebrate, please enjoy some favorites of Internet Manifestation, Garfield Minus Garfield, which gets to the very heart of what makes the strip so deeply melancholy and unsettling, and the horrifying Lasagna Cat, where Garfield strips are acted out by real live people.

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Sing Us A Song, You’re The Great Old One

Like me, you may have experienced feelings of dread when listening to Uptown Girl, or seen visions of cyclopean ruins when Captain Jack comes on the radio.

Well, now we know why.

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Black Hats

As frequent readers know, I have a connection with SUNY-Binghamton, and a distaste for mis-used metaphor.  So it is more in sorrow than anger that I read the latest issue of the SUNY-Binghamton Watson School of Engineering alumni magazine.  In it, there was an article about “white hat hackers” which, as the name implies, are hackers who use their talents for good.  But it seems the authors of the article didn’t trust the connotations of “white hat” and “black hat” hackers to be obvious, and in trying to make it more clear, managed to muddy the waters.  As you can see here, they added a sidebar defining white, gray, and black-hat hackers, and illustrated it with little pictures of hats in those colors.  So far, so good, but for some reason they used black, gray, and white fedoras.

Now, as anyone could tell you, the whole “black hat for the bad guy / white hat for the good guy” thing is a metaphor based on westerns, so the hats used for illustration should have been cowboy hats.  But the choice of a fedora makes it even worse, because a) bad guys are not known for wearing black fedoras (is anyone?), but they are known for wearing white fedoras.  I mean, think about the last time you saw someone in a movie wearing a white fedora.

It was this guy, right?









Frank Nitti in The Untouchables is hardly the first person most people would go to for help, computer-based or otherwise.  Or maybe you thought of Sydney Greenstreet, in some movie where he wasn’t just wearing a fez.  Again, not one of the good guys, I bet.

Now, maybe the illustrator was making a callback to the fact that these days, about the only people who wear fedoras are computer science majors, but in that case, shame on them.  We don’t need anyone encouraging that behavior, especially not at my alma mater.



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More Reading Recommendations

Once you’re done working your way through twenty-six years of Galaxy Science Fiction, another possibility is working your way through Tangent Online’s recommended reading for 2017.  The fact that my story, Peddler, in Grimdark Magazine happens to be on the list is, of course, incidental.

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Who Wants to Read Some Classic Sc-fi?

I’m a bit late to this, since it happened a while ago, but did you know that, thanks to you can read a good chunk of the run of Galaxy Science Fiction magazine for free?

Well, you can.  So go ahead and do it if you enjoy Bradbury and Asimov and so an (and who doesn’t?)

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I’ve got a story in the latest issue of Grimdark magazine, and as you can see from the image over there, I’ve maintained my streak of only being published in magazines with unsettling cover art (seriously, check out the ol’ publication page for a gallery). This one isn’t as lighthearted as There Are Rules, which was also under a spooky-pants cover, but it isn’t exactly scary either. Just a bit dark and grim (oh, hey, I just got that).

Anyway, I encourage ya’ll to pick up a copy, in whatever digital format you prefer.

Here, some links to make it even easier for you:






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Finally, I Can Enjoy Books Properly

If you’re like me, you agree that there is nothing more annoying than reading a book in a series out of order.  It’s almost as bad as being prevented from compulsively reading the foreword, afterword, and author’s notes.

So you, too, will rejoice in the website Order of Books.  It lists different series of books in their proper order, both by publication (which is the easy part), and by chronological order, for those series where the author gets all famous and successful and either a) can finally indulge in exploring origin stories, or b) realizes they need to go back in time because they ran too far forward too quickly and risk their characters getting to old to jump from car to car during a freeway chase or whatever.

So now, with a quick check, you can read in comfort, secure that you won’t suffer the horror of reading Sharpe’s Eagle before Sharpe’s Havoc (seriously, Bernard Cornwell – when you give every book in a series a two-word title, and make the first word the same for all twenty-three titles you aren’t giving us all that much to go on)


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And What Have You Learned From Johnathan Franzen Lately?

Not to reopen the never-ending battle between advocates of literary vs. genre fiction, but I assume by now everyone has heard about the girl that saved a friend’s life using first aid techniques she learned by reading The Hunger Games.  I’d always assumed The Hunger Games was more useful for information on shooting people with arrows, but there you go.

But what useful skills has anyone ever picked up from reading literary fiction?  How to make cutting remarks?  How best to map the travails and grievances of previous generations of your family?

I’m just sayin’.



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Another Book, the Third

Once again, it takes a book by Carrie Patel to break my long silence in the blogosphere.  As you can tell by comparing the cover to previous entries in the trilogy, things have taken a less chaotic turn, but things are still very exciting indeed.  And now dirigibles are involved!

Thanks to my long delay in posting, of course, you may have already read about it elsewhere, but in any case, pick up a copy today.  It makes a great Father’s Day gift.

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You Just Sound Defensive There, Trail

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, the erudite and well-read follower of this blog, about the latest developments in the comic strip Mark Trail, but for those of you that have been too busy to keep up with it, or absorbed in Ziggy or something, I’ll catch you up.

First, upon arriving in Rapid City on assignment, Mark was accosted by a kidnapper who was looking to add to his stable of victims, and who was interested in the careers of said victims:

The kidnapper’s intuition about the reason someone would have to visit the Cheyenne River reservation proved correct, as Mark confirmed:

So far, the conversation is pretty civil.  I mean, the “never heard of it” is arguably a bit rude (as is, perhaps, the non-standard pronunciation of “huh”), but as far as conversations with kidnappers go, you can’t ask for much more.  The man is expressing interest in Mark’s career, after all.  But things take a turn for the worse:

I have to say, I’m disappointed in Mark’s verbal sparring here, especially considering he’s a writer.  The guy gave you a nice opening, there, to defend the craft of writing on intellectual and spiritual grounds.  You could go with “Just because it takes you forever to get through an article about ferrets because your lips move when you read doesn’t mean everyone is semi-literate”, and that’s just off the top of my head.  Mumbling something along the lines of “Well, I make pretty good money at it” is just sad, especially to a kidnapper/bank robber.  Step up your game, man.

(Hat tip to Comics Curmudgeon)

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