28 Comments

  1. It used to be “Look, they’re touring Barcelona on week five of their world tour!”, which could elicit various kinds of response, but not really “Hey, why don’t we just jump in and try that too?”.

  2. As horizons shrink under lockdown, mundane activities become more important. I went on a 13 mile walk yesterday, highlights of which I reported to a small Messenger group of friends. The most exciting social interaction was walking up a shallow hill between houses towards a woman whose dog was leaping around and wagging its tail outside her house. When I got there, though, the woman said aha, you’ve caught up with your dog. I said, I don’t have a dog, I thought this was your dog, and she said “No, I’m a cat person, especially since my husband died. I saw this dog and you walking up the hill after it and I thought it was yours. I thought I knew all the animals around here.” We looked around in vain for any other lone walker-cum-potential-loose-dog-owners as the dog bounded off into someone’s garden. Then a bloke called Mike – known to the woman – drove up and said, have you seen my dog? and I pointed him out, a shadow among the hedges and trees at the far end of the garden. And so the great mystery was solved, and we all carried on with our day much cheered by the interaction.

    When I told my friends one of them said “I’m having a sit down to get over the excitement!”

    The most exciting architectural feature of the day was the Meare Fish House, built in 1330, the furthest point of my walk. I could look in through the windows but to get inside – for free – you have to ask for the key at Manor House Farm next to the church. Probably no possible in the current situation.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Abbot%27s_Fish_House,_Meare

  3. You have an excuse for not doing something interesting that is expensive. But if your butt in on the sofa, and your other friends’ butts are on the porch, you don’t really have an excuse to be on the sofa.

    And in the other direction, you can’t be vicariously enjoying the interesting things that your friends are doing, and getting benefit from THEM spending money if they’re not spending money.

  4. I think the commenters above have the intent of the strip pegged pretty good, but I also got something else out of it. My wife and I have often found it quite stressful to see or hear about the more mundane things our friends are doing in lieu of normal activities during this crisis as it reminds us of all we cannot do and the folks we cannot go see for the foreseeable future. It has gotten to the point where we sometimes dread planned virtual interactions with our friends because they remind us of all that we cannot do.

    We’re working through it and we’ll be alright, but sometimes you just need to say out loud that you are not having fun, which is essentially what Arlo is doing here.

  5. (OT) Recently we had a nice digression into some of our posting-names and avatars. I should credit billytheskink for getting me to look it up and discover there actually is a kind of reptile called a skink, related to lizards or on some accounts a kind of lizard.

  6. Mitch4: On meanings of our posting names, I took mine as a one-word summary of my favorite James Branch Cabell quote — repeating something I posted here a couple of years ago:

    “I have read that the secret of gallantry is to accept the pleasures of
    life leisurely, and its inconveniences with a shrug; as well as that,
    among other requisites, the gallant person will always consider the
    world with a smile of toleration, and his own doings with a smile of
    honest amusement, and Heaven with a smile which is not distrustful —
    being thoroughly persuaded that God is kindlier than the genteel would
    regard as rational.

    In fine, the gallant person is a well-balanced skeptic, who
    comprehends that he knows very little, and probably amounts to
    somewhat less, but has the grace to keep his temper.”

    — James Branch Cabell, BEYOND LIFE (1919)

  7. @ Mitch4

    “Billy The Skink” was a cartoon I first doodled back when I was in middle school, who I eventually adopted as a mascot and screen name for my online activities. He’s that bug-eyed green reptile in my avatar image. Skinks were a common sight when I was growing up in southeast Texas (distinguishable from garden lizards by their tails, which remain as wide as their bodies for much of their length) and I was further fascinated by an old National Geographic pop-up book my father had that featured an Australian blue-tongued skink. “Billy” had a nice flow with “the skink”, I thought back in those middle school years, thus the name. My real name isn’t Billy or William or anything like that, it’s Ty.

  8. My name is just a misspelling of my middle name (Armitage, my paternal grandma’s maiden name) fronted by my first initial.

  9. Narmitage, I think you told us your first name at some point — maybe in a context of addressing some advice or surprise to yourself .. ‘I told myself, “Nick, you can’t go on like that!” ‘ … or the like.

    I think I remember when Kilby was MKilby, and was pleased to discover the posting name did not have to match the username on some localhost. I don’t know if we knew what that stood for.

  10. I used to just sign it “Brian” but someone else was doing that as well, so I added the “in STL”, a la “Mark in Boston”.

  11. Not to diminish any other aspect of this discussion, but as a zoology major I’m completely confused by the idea that skinks could be anything but lizards. Not to be too indirect: they are lizards. A fascinating, diverse group of lizards do not cease to be lizards because they differ from other lizards–indeed, that is implied by the phrase “other lizards.”

    I missed the earlier discussion of screen names entirely so I don’t know where that came from.

    FWIW, my screen name is my name. My parents gave it to me and I have been using it online since a decade before they invented the Web. I see no reason to stop now. Actually my first name is a tribute to Karl Marx. My dad was a member of the Communist Party.

  12. Heh. There was a lot of it about at one point – my father was also a member of the Communist Party, in the late 1930s. The father of Sebastian Coe (Olympic gold medallist, one-time Conservative MP – and now peer – who led the bid to get London the 2012 Games and is now President of the IAAF/International Association of Athletics Federations) was also a member of the Communist Party in the 30s.

    My father was also an RAF Liberator pilot in the 40s – this being VE Day, I just posted pics of him and his crew etc on Facebook, alongside a pic of my mother, who was then 18 and still at school (and she is still alive).

  13. I stand in awe (and/or fear) of Mitch4’s memory ability. My first name isn’t a secret, but what I really regret is not taking the opportunity (when GoDaddy imploded) to switch over to the standard acronym that I use for other purposes (especially when a little more anonymity is required). I don’t mind being addressed by a surname (it was my standard nickname all through college, especially due to the surfeit of instances of my given name), but it would be more convenient to use the same ID everywhere.

  14. Carl, I’m probably the one responsible for the misinformation about skinks that you mention. I just mentioned it in an off-topic post on the tangent about posting names, where I noted some curiosity about “billytheskink” and said I had to look it up and found out there actually are such creatures. Apart from noticing our billy’s avatar I had no idea if they were lizards, like lizards, or even imaginary. So I hope it didn’t come over as trying to present as an expert! The hedging about “related to lizards or on some accounts a kind of lizard” must have been due to over-reading or mis-reading of some of the Wikipedia material I had lightly perused.

    My father also (as well as one uncle and my grandfather on that side) was a former CPUSA member! He was in Law School in the early 1950s, and graduated okay, but declined to sign the Loyalty Oath (as he would need to either lie or admit to being a former Communist and thus ineligible for the bar at that time) — so was not allowed to take the bar exam nor of course join the bar. (He later sued, with the help of some legal friends, and got admitted to practice.) One time the state HUAC issued subpoenas for my uncle/father/grandfather, and we took an impromptu vacation to Ohio! Both my parents tell about how the Daily Worker couldn’t safely be handed in for newspaper-class postage at your friendly neighborhood post office, so one time when they drew the straw to drive around and drop off batches in different mailboxes, they were up the coast by Cape Canaveral and ran into road blocks and detours for a federal construction project — this must have been the beginnings of the space program. But the trunk was not opened and inspected!

    I mentioned my father’s time in law school. So far I haven’t found the color version to send in or post, but in today’s black-and-white emailed Harry Bliss cartoon there is a joke about unfortunate law firm names ( Hitler, Bundy, and Khan — something like that). My dad had a joke with a buddy named Larry Engels that they should make a partnership. “Marks and Engels” would be bound to go over well in the 1950s 🙂

  15. And I meant to mention, my grandfather was named “Charles Marks”. But they immigrated from Russia (or rather, the Soviet Union, in the 1920s), so it could have been more like Karl. (This is in response to Carl Fink, and will make more sense in the context of my very long comment that is in moderation at the moment.)

  16. Gee whiz, I’m now 2 in moderation; dare I try another?

    Shrug, I know I once read Jurgen, but probably not more James Branch Cabell. But for a while I was a fan of the sort of “speculative metaphysics” fiction I associate with him. There was “The Man Who was Thursday” by G K Chesterton (not one of his Father Brown amateur-detective mysteries, nor overt apologetics). Also the more comedic takes by Thorne Smith, including of course his most famous “Topper” but also “Turnabout” and “The Glorious Pool” and others. And on the deadly serious side, “A Voyage to Arcurus” by David Lindsay. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Voyage_to_Arcturus

  17. Mitch, Moderation seems to have been suffering severe Quarantine Stress today: more than half of all comments are being held up.

    Good thing I got my computer back early, I guess.

  18. Mitch4: Yes, I like Chesterton’s THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY a lot also.

    By a strange coincedence, I just reread TOPPER a week or so ago, for the first time since high school, fifty plus years ago. When I first read it, it was a very important book for me, opening up all sorts of “go out and LIVE” vistas for me, but like ON THE ROAD (which did the same thing for me a few years later) it didn’t stand up well decades later on a re-reading. (For once thing as regards Smith, no matter how much disbelief I can suspend these days, I find it hard to read about drunk driving as a fun, harmless celebrration of life sort of thing).

    I’ve recently reread a few other Thorne Smith books that I now like better than TOPPER, including THE NIGHT LIFE OF THE GODS and his one juvenile novel, LAZY BEAR LANE — the last if only for my admiration of his sustaining a novel that reads like all of his adult novels but somehow does it without ever touching on the subjects of booze or, you know, “thingee” (as the MONTY PYTHON sketch once had it).

    I’ve read about ten of Cabell’s books, but nothing since grad school. But that quote from BEYOND LIFE still resonates strongly with me, even if I never read or reread anything else by him again.

  19. @Mitch4, my dad was also a lawyer (NYU Law), born 1918. Got his law degree in the 1950s (delayed by the War). Never practiced, though.

    It was my grandparents, not my parents that came from Russia. (A shtetl called Titchin in what is now Ukraine.)

    My dad met his first wife (not my mother) in a Communist Club meeting.

  20. There is an investment bank called Carl Marks, which we just thought was a hoot when the advertising company that acquired our internet company got them as a client. One of the rejected pitches: “Carl Marks: working. class.”

  21. We are going to do something exciting tomorrow. After being at home since March 29th we are going to get in the car and drive somewhere! We are running out of our prescription medications – one of them for R we only have enough through Friday and he needs more of his Levemir insulin by 2 days from now – We will drive to the Walmart parking lot and call the pharmacy and they will bring the meds out to us – such excitement, I don’t know if my heart will take it – maybe I should ask them to add some heart meds to the order. Only other trip since then was to a USPD collection mail box two weeks ago to mail out some items which were too large and heavy to leave in our home box for pickup (they fell backwards into the mail box instead of staying the clip).

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