One more for the Unaccountable Anger tag

Cidu Bill on Oct 18th 2012

2002-10-16-brownie-points.gif

Seriously, what put the bug up Arlo’s butt? If he knows what the expression means, he knows that what he’s doing is a classic definition of the “lazy man’s load.”

Filed in Arlo and Janis, Bill Bickel, Jimmy Johnson, comic strips, comics, humor, unaccountable anger | 27 responses so far

27 Responses to “One more for the Unaccountable Anger tag”

  1. Some Old Guy Oct 18th 2012 at 06:48 pm 1

    He didn’t really need Janis to point out how dumb his decision was. This seemed perfectly understandable. Maybe that says too much about me ….

  2. JoeGrunt Oct 18th 2012 at 07:10 pm 2

    I agree with Some Old Guy: Arlo’s back and fingers are hurting enough that he didn’t really need Janis to point out how dumb his decision was.

    I wonder if there is also an undercurrent of resenting any comparison to his father-in-law?

  3. Elyrest Oct 18th 2012 at 07:18 pm 3

    I don’t remember any mention of any extended family in this strip. It’s like many a comic where the people live in almost a vacuum. I don’t think I’ve heard the term “lazy man’s load” before, but I certainly understand it. I did the same thing yesterday when I went shopping.

  4. NitricAcid Oct 18th 2012 at 07:33 pm 4

    He brings in all the groceries, expecting praise for his hard work, and gets criticized instead. “You’re doing it wrong- why aren’t you doing it properly? You should be taking several trips instead of being lazy.”

    I’d be ticked off, too…except I’m used to it.

  5. JoeGrunt Oct 18th 2012 at 07:49 pm 5

    Elyrest, “lazy man’s load” has been around a long time. There is even a Chinese equivalent.

    Ana Mikala, in
    http://ana-mikala.livejournal.com/175725.html
    claims “Lithermon’s-load (noun) - (1) A greater load than can well be carried at one time, but is nevertheless undertaken to save the trouble of another journey–a lazy man’s load. Old English lither, bad, wicked, has a secondary meaning of “lazy” in some of our early writers. John Ray gives “lither, idle, lazy, slothful,” in North Country Words [1691]; [John] Jamieson [Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language, 1808] has “lidder, sluggishness, and lythyrnes, sloth.” –Georgina Jackson’s Shropshire Word-Book, 1879 (2) Hence, lidderie, feeble, lazy; litherly, idly, lazily; litherums, idleness. –Joseph Wright’s English Dialect Dictionary, 1898-1905″

  6. James Pollock Oct 18th 2012 at 08:09 pm 6

    We know that Janis’ father did not approve much of Arlo. Perhaps “lazy” was thrown around a few times in the past.

  7. sjelly Oct 18th 2012 at 11:56 pm 7

    Janis’s comment struck me as innocuous and mildly amused. Arlo’s response seemed short-tempered and mean. Have I missed a bunch of strips where Janis has been picking on him for no good reason? Otherwise, this is a cidu for me.

  8. mitch4 Oct 19th 2012 at 01:27 am 8

    I’m sure a main part of it is invoking the father-in-law. But why did Arlo think he had gotten brownie points and had lost them only at the end, for his retort? If Janis was already treating that as the wrong way to carry the supplies in, Arlo presumably DIDN’T bank any brownie points.

    Maybe Janis’s remark was not meant actually as criticism but was only a stray linguistic observation? Then Arlo would still have brownie points for fetching the load in (albeit not the ideal manner), but lost them for irritable reaction.

    BTW, is it supposed to be capitalized, Brownie points? In the comments we’ve been downcasing it, but in the comic itself we can’t really tell.

  9. Dan W Oct 19th 2012 at 08:18 am 9

    I think he was expecting brownie points simply for having helped bring in the groceries. Janis’ comment seems to be made rather lightheartedly (note the smile while she says it), so brownie points can still be expected, until Arlo makes his retort.

  10. Rainey Oct 19th 2012 at 09:11 am 10

    I don’t know whether Arlo should be accused of being lazy or cheap for not purchasing a cart or backpack to assist in carrying the groceries. I carry a whole week’s worth of groceries into my apartment with just one trip but I use a backpack and then hand carry whatever doesn’t fit in the backpack.

  11. Catelli Oct 19th 2012 at 09:59 am 11

    I’m with Dan W. and NitricAcid. Arlo is lending a hand, earning “brownie points” and Janis made a wisecrack about how he did it. The fact that she used her father as the reference doubled down on the insult to Arlo. Arlo has a short fuse (for whatever reason) and strikes back, and realizes that he was a fool for doing so because now Janis is mad at him.

    I LOL’d because this is my wife and I (and probably a lot of other couples too). The only thing I didn’t know was the phrase “lazy man’s load”, so I had to read up on it. But I completely identify with this portrayal of a couple.

  12. Daniel J. Drazen Oct 19th 2012 at 10:17 am 12

    I set myself a 3-bag limit, no matter how many trips it takes. I simply tell myself “I need the exercise.” And I do.

  13. fj Oct 19th 2012 at 11:19 am 13

    @Mitch4, “BTW, is it supposed to be capitalized, Brownie points? In the comments we’ve been downcasing it, but in the comic itself we can’t really tell.”

    I would say “brownie points” is correct.

    The etymology of the phrase is unclear. There are a number of proposed theories. One is that it is a reference to the badges earned by young Girl Scouts. In that case, “Brownie points” might be justified, given that “Brownie” (in this context) is a proper noun. However, I think the theory that it comes from military slang (as a derivation of the “brown-nose” concept) is more likely, although it is certainly quite possibly both of these theories played a role in the popularization of the term.

  14. mitch4 Oct 19th 2012 at 11:29 am 14

    Thanks, fj #13 — I see left out my rationale for supposing “Brownie points” would take a capital B, but it was indeed the supposed junior Girl Scouts origin of the phrase.

  15. Mark M Oct 19th 2012 at 12:34 pm 15

    I had never heard the expression “lazy man’s load” prior to seeing this. And I must say it’s a Phrase I Don’t Understand. Making fewer trips is lazier than carrying lighter loads?

  16. James Pollock Oct 19th 2012 at 12:43 pm 16

    fj, imagine that there are unseen forces surrounding you, in particular, elves which can only been seen occasionally and through the corner of your eye. They are always watching you, they know when you do something good, and they know when you do something bad, and when you do do something bad, they punish you in small ways like moving your car keys from where you left them when you’re not looking. On the other hand, when you do something good, they hold off on such punishments. If you do enough good things, it may keep them from punishing you for something bad. Now… these secretive, hidden, unseen creatures are called “brownies”.
    The moral of the story is that you should do something good even when you think no one is looking, because some thing will be watching, anyway. Then Christianity came and substituted its own version of “be good because someone’s watching”, and the old tales were pushed almost, but not completely, aside.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brownie_(folklore)

  17. James Pollock Oct 19th 2012 at 12:44 pm 17

    Wordpress didn’t correctly handle the link above, so you’ll have to either cut and paste or navigate Wikipedia.

  18. Woodrowfan Oct 19th 2012 at 03:54 pm 18

    there have been a couple cartoons in the past that indicated that Arlo and Janis’s dad didn’t have very high opinions of each other…

  19. zookeeper Oct 19th 2012 at 11:02 pm 19

    James-
    I learned Lazy Man’s Load at an early age, but had always assumed the brown-nose connection to brownie points. Thanks for the reference.

  20. The Bad Seed Oct 20th 2012 at 08:59 am 20

    Nobody enjoys being compared unfavorably to - or criticized by proxy by - any relative, either on their own side of the family, or - even worse - their in-laws. That was actually a pretty passive-aggressive statement by Janis, pawning off the criticism as being said by her absent father, who might not have openly criticized Arlo to his face, anyway. Trust me, I come from a long line of passive-aggressives, they LOVE passing off criticism as either being from someone else’s mouth or being just helpful advice. Besides, Arlo wasn’t really angry, anyway, because he was totally over it by panel 3.

  21. Charlene Oct 20th 2012 at 10:22 am 21

    He let cans scatter everywhere and made a huge mess that undoubtedly she will have to deal with, yet he expects brownie points and feels victimized when he doesn’t receive fawning adulation.

  22. Treesong Oct 20th 2012 at 10:48 am 22

    Mark M, a lazy man’s load is an unmanageable load. You’re not going to carry an unmanageable load unless you’re trying too hard to save time or effort, probably the latter.

    Incidentally, I learned the phrase from another comic strip, B.C., many years ago. The fat broad used it to chastise someone (Curls?), I think for carrying an overlarge load of wood.

  23. fj Oct 20th 2012 at 12:39 pm 23

    @James Pollock, #16

    I am certainly familiar with the brownies of English/Scottish folklore. However, my impression is that they were traditionally viewed as mischievous, unless bribed with food (and particularly cream). That impression seems to be consistent with the description provided in the Wikipedia article.

    I do not believe lexicographers give any significant credence to the concept that the idiom “brownie points” is based on the bribes offered to brownies. I’m not sure that there is any evidence the phrase existed before the 20th century (they earliest reference in print is from 1951). However, the division of Girl Guides/Girl Scouts known as the “Brownies” do indirectly draw their name from the brownies of folklore, via a bowdlerized version of the brownie concept in a book called “The Brownies,” written by Juliana Horatia Ewing in the latter half of the 19th century.

    The brownies of folklore seem to have peaked in their popularity after the Christianity had spread to Great Britain, so I’m not sure it’s correct to say that they were supplanted by Christianity.

    Other folk etymologies for “brownie points” include the suggestion that the term comes from a merit/demerit reward system used on railroads by an American railroad superintendent named “Brown,” and variations of an idea that the name came from trading stamps. I was just sticking to the two concepts that seem to be the most reasonable.

  24. Danny Boy (London Derriere) Oct 20th 2012 at 01:44 pm 24

    And what about those baked goods, that are like a dense chocolate cake with fudge?

  25. Lola Oct 20th 2012 at 09:23 pm 25

    I know it post dates it, but I keep thinking this: “Brownie, you’re doing a heckuva job”

  26. James Pollock Oct 21st 2012 at 01:09 am 26

    fj, I can only pass along what was taught to me. I make no claims as to the antiquity of the derivation presented to me beyond my parental units, who offered this one in the mid 70’s.

  27. George P Oct 21st 2012 at 06:53 pm 27

    I’m with NitricAcid. He expected brownie points for bringing in all the rest of the groceries, but no good dead goes unpunished.

    I thought you had made up the brownie story, James Pollock. It’s funny, and it sounds like the kind of humorous explanation some people can make up on the spur of the moment.

    Maybe your parents did that.

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