23 Comments

  1. There’s a joke here. It’s that “being a dog” is a career rather than a species, and when you join the fire department you’re now something different.

    It’s like saying “I used to be a stay-at-home mom, but then I changed careers”.

  2. Wikipedia thinks that “fire dog” can be an alternate term for fireplace “andiron”. (Wiki entry for “Andiron”)

    An andiron or firedog, fire-dog or fire dog is a bracket support, normally found in pairs, on which logs are laid for burning in an open fireplace, so that air may circulate under the firewood, allowing better burning and less smoke. They generally consist of a tall vertical element at the front, with at least two legs. This stops the logs from rolling out into the room, and may be highly decorative. The other element is one or more low horizontal pieces stretching back and serving to hold the logs off the bottom of the fireplace.[1] An andiron is sometimes called a dog or dog-iron.

    Here’s something that has a figure of a dog! But this is not meant to go inside the fireplace.

  3. In his world, being a dog is a job, with the description of being a companion, bringing joy to humans, etc. He just decided he was ready for a change.

  4. I used to be a composer, but I thought I would change careers and become a fire-spotter.

  5. It’s like saying “I used to be a stay-at-home mom, but then I changed careers”.

    But that seems perfectly sensible. It’s reasonable to treat “stay-at-home mom” as a job, similar to “firefighter” or “nurse.” The cartoon is more like “I used to be a human, but I became a stay-at-home mom.”

  6. Yes, that is Shostakovitch! It was during the siege of Leningrad. The authorities (and probably the people) mostly wanted him to stick to writing and performing music, but he insisted he should contribute to defense of the city, and got this assignment. This or similar photos were published (including on the cover of Time) and sometimes called him a fireman or firefighter, but apparently “fire spotter” is closer. Maybe less dangerous, but not trivial.

  7. Okay… For this MG&G there is no immediate or obvious joke and I give you my permission to not understand it.

  8. “The cartoon is more like “I used to be a human, but I became a stay-at-home mom.””

    I think it’s more like dog = stay at home mom and fire-dog= fire woman. So “I used to be a stay-at-home dog, but I became a fire-dog”.

    And…. that is an explanation…. As such it flops on the ground gasping like a dead fish an I pace around it saying “… but…. but… that doesn’t really work, does it. I mean, even if I accept it it’s not funny and I had to bend but brains in knots to accept it…. Is that really it?”.

    But… Powers is probably right. That probably is the joke.

    Anyway, I’m extending an olive leaf out to Stan and all who thought I was being harsh on the readers (not my intent) with the last MG&G here.

  9. I’ve seen a number of pictures of Shostakovich and he always has the exact same expression in each one. Like you’re turning in your term paper to him, and he’s not looking forward to reading it.

  10. woozy: I thought the comments about being harsh in the last MG&G were for Brian (not from STL), not for you.

    It is sort of hard to distinguish between the scenarios “This interpretation of the joke doesn’t work at all, but it’s clearly what they meant,” and “This interpretation of the joke doesn’t work at all, so they cartoonist must have been going for something else.”

  11. “It is sort of hard to distinguish between the scenarios “This interpretation of the joke doesn’t work at all, but it’s clearly what they meant,” and “This interpretation of the joke doesn’t work at all, so they cartoonist must have been going for something else.””

    Well, it’s a gradient but I do think there are demarcation lines.

    “kennel club” = “fight club for dogs” seemed pretty clear to me (in my opinion) and objections that it should fit better or be funnier (both true) are gravy, and therefore objections “I don’t believe it is funny or good enough so I don’t think it is it” is really expecting more from a cartoonist whom experience shows we shouldn’t.

    “dog”= “career” => “change of career” = “not a dog anymore” on the other is just too weird (again in my opinion) and only fits as far as a cutting parchment paper with kindergarten scissors to line an egg-carton fits. I wouldn’t say it’s “clear” that this is what he meant but I can’t think of anything else so it probably.is it.

    “This interpretation of the joke doesn’t work at all, so the cartoonist must have been going for something else” holds if we have expectations for a specific cartoonist. Sadly Mike Peters has …. fossilized… a bit too much to deserve the doubt. But for other cartoonists…. sure.

  12. The “soft boundary” that I am more often conscious of is the one between “I don’t understand what here could be intended as a joke” and “I don’t understand how this could be considered as successfully funny”. If that were as easy to distinguish in practice as it is to write out the formulations, we might be looking to lay out a bright-line rule that only the former can count as real CIDUs. But since telling them apart is sometimes hard — and often harder in advance of discussion than after chewing it over a bit, communally — this makes me want to lean to generosity of acceptance of what might turn out less first-category than it seemed and more second-category than we would count as CIDU if we knew that conclusion all along.

  13. Thank you all for providing expert scholarly analysis of Mother Goose and Grimm. It’s far more than it deserves.

  14. Well, “scholarly analysis” and “comic” probably shouldn’t even appear in the same sentence. It’s absurdist humor, take it or leave it. Power’s explanation kind of works, but isn’t necessary for the chuckle. My favorite take on dog careers is: “All dogs are therapy dogs, it’s just that most of the are free lance.”

  15. “most of them are free lance” — Heh!

    Although, I remember a spate of fussing about people purportedly making fake claims of therapy animal status to get their ordinary pets on board planes.

  16. Can MG& G just be retired from discussion? Mike Peters’s sense of humor is in decline, and it feels like he’s been responsible for most CIDUs in recent weeks.

  17. Woozy:

    Olive leaf accepted. I was going to write a long response, but I think it would have mainly echoed the sentiments Mitch expressed in his last post here. I think he’s summed up my approach to and perhaps the reason for the existence of CIDU very nicely. Also, after reading a few of your recent posts, I think we probably agree on most things when it comes to getting to the core of CIDUs.

    Finally, just so it’s on record, I had never heard of a “kennel club” before I sent that comic in. In my mind, a kennel was a place where stray dogs were kept, or perhaps a place you sent your dog when you were going on vacation. To me, it would have made as much sense if a bunch of chickens were talking about the ‘coop club’, or pigs talking about the ‘sty club’. I didn’t understand it at all. I wasn’t being deliberately obtuse, it was actual ignorance.

    In any case, all good. Next time we’re at the pub together, first round’s on me.

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