25 Comments

  1. No, he doesn’t mean anagram. He gets it wrong, because hye isn’t an expert at anagrams. I think that’s the joke.

  2. Acronym, anagram, abbreviation, allusion… one of those “a” words — kinda, sorta. Look, it’s funny ’cause it’s true! Amirite? I’m reusing the artwork from a previous strip anyway, these deadlines just sneak up on you, and I can’t be bothered to dig out my Thesaurus whatsit to look this stuff up — can you look up a word if you only know its definition? — and as others here have noted, the internet is no good at this stuff… So, in conclusion, look over there, I have a 4 o’clock tee time.

  3. He’s not even trying to make an anagram. It’s like that scene in “Back to School,” where Rodney Dangerfield asks Kurt Vonnegut if he reads lips (over the phone) and then very loudly says “eff you.”

    He sets you up for this, and he delivers that.

    And that’s basically the joke here.

  4. I think the doctor knows exactly what an anagram is.
    When people anagram a person’s name (or any phrase or thing, possibly personal), they are relatively free to say whatever the letters allow. So, calling it an anagram engages the anything-goes rule (but the doctor has not followed the have-have-to-use-all-the-letters [-of-a-polite-diagnosis] rule).

  5. hmmm….. I think the cartoonist did mean anagram but did a bad job as it doesn’t actually seem like an anagram (too long and the words flow too naturally).

    It’s poor joke and makes as little sense any other badly executed PMP joke. But the cartoonists thinks making wry and jarringly funny anagrams is trendy (is it? Not really, but this is Pardon My Planet. Vic Lee thinks everything s/he’s seen once is trendy and will be seen as such) and so the doctor is just being blunt and rude and pretending its an anagram.

  6. I can see that the doctor choosing the word “anagram” — or more to the point, the cartoonist choosing the word “anagram” — may be a matter of having thought anagramming was trendy at some point. But that doesn’t rule out the other point, that he just doesn’t know what an anagram is, and just says it for lack of a neat term for what he actually wants. And that is a short description, a label, a mnemonic of sorts — a way of mentally filing the patients and remembering who’s who

    BTW, what does “updating his insurance plan” mean?

    And yes to everybody who points out we don’t generally have high expectations for PMP to show the kind of nerdy technical knowledge or care for details you get in some other strips. If this were somehow XKCD, we’d be looking as “rat’s batootie” and asking “why did he say batootie instead of patootie? Must be key to the anagram or code!” .

  7. “Updating his insurance plan” – The doctor referring to his expired insurance. For example, I’ve recently been laid off and, if I weren’t paying for COBRA, I’d have to switch to the state-run plan because I’m near broke.. I’ve also failed, due to the obscure system, to successfully cancel my free plan when getting my next job, and the government takes a dim view of using state insurance when you are covered by your company.

  8. But… since we don’t know what the guy’s name is, we can’t be sure what the doctor said isn’t an anagram.

    But we can be sure that if it is an anagram, the guy has a lot of problems filling out forms.

  9. The doctor is perhaps responding to the patient demanding some diagnostic procedure ending in -gram (like angiogram or electrocardiogram or whatever) but the patient said anagram, perhaps after exhausting all the other -grams he could think of (causing the doctor to lose patience and hate this patient). So the doctor just went with something involving words that he called an anagram. It could be an anagram of something.

  10. I’ll admit the joke doesn’t work and doesn’t make much sense, but I don’t see why one would think it would work any better or make any more sense if he meant any other word. If he didn’t mean anagram then what did he mean?

  11. ObPython –

    C: I understand this IS Bolton.
    O: (still with the fake mustache) Yes?
    C: You told me it was Ipswich!
    O: …It was a pun.
    C: (pause) A PUN?!?
    O: No, no…not a pun…What’s that thing that spells the same backwards as forwards?
    C: (Long pause) A palindrome…?
    O: Yeah, that’s it!
    C: It’s not a palindrome! The palindrome of “Bolton” would be “Notlob”!! It don’t work!!

  12. If he didn’t mean anagram then what did he mean?

    Hmm, woozy and others, I think we can say anagram is the wrong word without asserting there is some other particular word we think would be right; or that, right or wrong, we think was his intended word. It’s rather more like the Python bit that narmitaj has given us (and thanks). It’s just something the doctor has in mind, and he does have in mind a meaning or at least an area of the semantic field, for which he doesn’t find a good-fit word, and we may not either. But if not demanding a single word, it could be explained as patient summary, or personal descriptive précis, or what’s his motto or melody?, or any of those things.

    For lack of a perfectly apt single word, he could have used one of those phrases, but instead pressed for a single word and accepted an incorrect one. Someone in this thread suggested keynote, and my longer phrase with summary could have been reduced to that as a singleton. Both of those are somewhat incorrect, but at least in the right ballpark. Instead, the doctor came up with anagram, which is not just wrong but unfathomable.

    The doctor may not even know that’s a mis-fit word. The cartoonist must know it’s wrong, and expects that will be part of the joke — but I think may not know how badly wrong it is, or knows that but doesn’t think it spoils the joke. Where the remaining intended joke is, as Kevin A and others early on were suggesting, that the doctor is using some fabulism about word play to speak the insulting impression he has of the patient, which he would otherwise feel compelled to cover up.

  13. As an aside, do you often have to wear a hospital gown in a doctor’s office with an eye chart??

  14. bpostow, good point, but I think this is a GP, or nowadays in the U.S. they seem to say a PCP (primary care physician); and this guy is in for a general exam. So then, this kind of doctor could have an eye chart, to do a shallow screening on whether to send a patient to an oculist (or optometrist or ophthalmologist); he is not going to do a refraction and prescribe corrective lenses.

  15. The meaning of “PCP” has subtly changed in the U.S. in the past year. It now means “Primary Care Practitioner.” This person may or may not be a doctor. He or she may be a licensed practical nurse for instance.

  16. Thanks for the update on PCP, Mark In Boston. Of course, for those with even medium long memories, tHe choice of Physician or Practitioner are both a correction to a first reaction of reading it as a dangerous drug.

  17. Doctor could be warning man if he does not do as he should he should make sure to update his Life insurance (as opposed to his health insurance.

  18. I see. Meryl’s response, as well as an earlier one from, I think, Kevin A, both clarify what I didn’t understand originally. Both of you take this as meaning something like “catch up on the payments, to be sure the policy is in force”. But I took it to mean “update the information (medical as well as personal, contacts & next-of-kin, etc) that the ins company has on file about you in connection with this policy”. Which is perhaps harder to explain in context of the doctor’s rant. Though I also thought that a specialised person in the medical office deals with insurance eligibility and would know who’s paid up while the doctors would not. While the doctor might be involved with the info side of updating.

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