Friday, July 27, 2007

Upcoming Blog Entries

Hey there!

Blog entries may be few and far between for the next three weeks for one of the following reasons:

* I have been kidnapped by the dreaded pirate Bluetooth who, despite his nom de pillage, provides absolutely no wi-fi access to his captives.

* By the end of this sentence I would have used up all the English I learned while studying for my TOEFL: Long Island as First Language Edition exam and must now teach myself some new words.

* I have given up writing and cartooning all together for my new, one true passion--onanism.

* Turns out the coroner was right. I am dead.

* I'm going to bum around on a beach in Portugal for the next three weeks under the misguided belief that if I ring in my 40th birthday in a foreign land then the age won't really take and I will remain 39 when I return to the U.S. in mid-August.

Thanks for reading this blog! Will try to update whenever and wherever possible. If not, see you in mid-August!


Famous Product Failures #1: New Coke

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the introduction of Diet Coke. Lost in the fanfare, however, is the almost-as-historic 22nd anniversary of the launch of New Coke (as well as the 15th anniversary of its ultimate demise). The following is the true story of that latter soda's famous failure.

New Coke
Reason for failure:
Rapidly losing market share due to the tremendous success of the “Pepsi Challenge” campaign, Coca-Cola dropped its one hundred-year-old flagship soda in favor of a sweeter-tasting recipe. The resulting beverage, “New Coke,” proved an instant smash, quickly outselling the original product across all demographics. Supermarkets couldn’t keep the brand on the shelf. Business schools touted “New Coke” as the very model of marketing savvy and crisis management. Late-night talk show hosts repeatedly made jokes about how no one could even remember what the “Old Coke” (or “UnCoca-Cola” as it became to be known) tasted like. People were so overwhelmed by the cola’s success, in fact, that they failed to notice the sudden and sharp increase in werewolf attacks across the United States. Within two years of New Coke’s introduction America had become 65% lyncanthrope, causing great debate about whether or not the National Anthem should be rewritten to include howls and if two werewolves could legally marry, given that one could never properly ascertain their gender unless you lifted up their tail and looked closely. Eventually the Senate sought to limit all werewolf rights, leading to a full-scale monster attack on the capital and its citizens, re-enacted in the blockbuster film “RowrRoarCrunchSlop.” By 1992 New Coke was pulled in favor of spilt blood.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

How To Write to a Cartoonist

A correspondence primer for those who need to put others in their place (and rightfully so):

1. When writing to a cartoonist, immediately assume a spurned, petulant or even churlish tone. This will automatically capture your intended's attention by playing off of their gnawing fear that they have once more disappointed their readership as well as their desire to make everything all right. A suitable sample opener would be "I am almost halfway finished writing this first sentence and I have still yet to get a response from you."

2. Genuine inquisitiveness is the life's blood of any healthy dialogue. Showcase your interest in the cartoonist's career with such queries as "Seriously, have you ever worked in a real office before?", "Seriously, have you ever been a member of a family before?" and "Seriously, have you ever had a ripe peach before?"

3. Form a strong, perhaps unyielding bond with the cartoonist. This can easily be accomplished by drawing obvious parallels between your life and those of the comic strip's characters. Such examples are "I couldn't help but notice that on the 7/3 strip of Sally Forth you had Ted eat a sandwich for lunch. Surely you know that I, too, have been known to enjoy a sandwich for lunch. Care to explain? Hmm? I'm waiting.", " I see that you mentioned North America, my home continent, in your strip. Clearly this cannot be a coincidence." or "Why is Hilary looking at me like that again?"

4. The workday of a cartoonist is a solitary one, oft bereft of the crucial exchange of ideas and inspiration that encourage powerful results and great art. It is therefore your task to help said cartoonists by offering your own suggestions. Make sure that they come across as emphatic as possible so that your proposals simply cannot be ignored: "Have you ever thought that maybe you shouldn't be writing a comic strip?!", "Your latest story arc is surely your dumbest yet. For the last time, when are you going to introduce some sort of mole character in the strip?!" and "I'm neither a mom nor employed. Maybe it's about time you did a strip that actually spoke to your reader!"

5. Correspondence is a two-way street, even when there's not a single chance in hell that the cartoonist will respond. That's because writing a fan letter to a cartoonist can be quite the cathartic exeprience, much to the surprise of the very author of the letter. Often in the act of pointing out the foibles of others one might well learn a little something about themselves, such as "I don't know why a comic strip named 'Sally Forth' has to put the female character of Sally so much in the front and center when I'm a real guy who doesn't like such women's lib feminism crap like my having to report to a female boss and constantly calling girls who don't return my calls and wondering just what my undying affection for Derek Jeter really means and feeling sweaty and threatened when I'm the only man in the elevator and also I hate my mom."

6. While an ultimatum can seem unduly harsh, sometimes you just have to draw a line in the sand to get your recipient's undivided attention and spur necessary action. Such demands can include "As a long time reader of your strip I will never read your strip again until you apologize for that crack about double-sided windows", "Until you find Ted and my husband a career--a good one, not just some job--I'm never reading your so-called 'funny' strip again" and "I'm not even buying a newspaper until I see 'Moley,' the mole character, in 'Sally Forth.'"


Big congrats to blog pal Jodiferous on her wedding. If there is a God, the bride and groom wrote their own vows in the form of slam poetry.

You Know What Would Be Great? If You Were to Fuck Up The Strip And Your Career!

Another "fan" letter:

For some strange reason, I find myself addicted to your strip about this constantly smirking little example of corporate perfection and middle class feminism--and I don't know why. Maybe it's because I'm fascinated with its social and political subtext, which is thoroughly conservative. To my mind, she's thoroughly obnoxious. If I worked in her office, I wouldn't trust her for a second. But I see you're making changes--may I suggest some more? Maybe it'll help break my addiction, or at least give me some solid reasons for holding on to it.

Let Sally have a torrid affair with her boss Jowdy, breaking up her marriage. After he dumps her and forces her out of her job, she becomes embittered and starts reading Marxist and anarchist literature. She undergoes a complete conversion, and joins a left-wing terrorist underground organization dedicated to destroying capitalism. She changes her name to Red Sally, and plots to bomb her old corporate office. Caught by Homeland Security, she ends up in federal prison. Your strip then spends the next twenty years illustrating her life in stir.

There--now THAT'S something worth following every day!!

1500+ Prisoners of the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center in the Philippines Recreate the Video for Michael Jackson's "Thriller"

For added fun try to guess which inmates are wrongly imprisoned. Then check out their high-steppin' versions of "I Will Follow Him" from Sister Act and "Radio Ga Ga" by Queen. Then just feel the guilt wash over you.

Monday, July 23, 2007

How NOT to Write to a Cartoonist

The following message was forwarded by my syndicate just moments ago. Apparently the author sent me a previous email. Apparently the author is just one step away from knocking on my door and demanding why I don't serve her tea and answers.

It took me a long time to find an address to send this email to, therefore I would appreciate a response. Have been patient since May!

This comic strip (2006) appeared in our local paper, and I found it interesting that the cartoonist made reference to a surname that is not a popular one here in the US. It so happens that this is a family name - SCHWALLER. I am curious how and why this name was picked in this strip of all the names in the universe that are available! Does the cartoonist know someone by that name and from where?

The strip shows husband and wife sitting at the table, drinking coffee, looking worse for wear. The daughter goes by with a greeting of "Morning!", and he says "Why does she keep doing that?!" She says "First resolution - never attend the SCHWALLER'S New Year's Eve Party again.

I tried getting in touch with the cartoonist by calling
(NOTE: This is where the author lists my actual home phone number, which I am none too pleased that she sought out or in fact called) and left a message which was never returned. This is my second attempt. Hopefully I will get a response from someone.

Thank you.

Possible Dialogue for the Final Comic Strip Panel of "For Better or For Worse"

"Ballistics report came back, Chief. Looks like we better pick up Elly..."

"Uh oh. Skynet is up and fully operational."

"Wait, why is it every time I speak my words form over my head?"

"Don't stop beliiiiiiiieving..."

"You heard what I said--the entire United States can go fuck themselves, eh?"

"Attica! Attica!"

"Shannon just spends every day staring at that snow globe, making up stories about something called 'The Pattersons.'"

"I'm beginning to think none of us survived the gas leak."

"I don't wanna die, Lynn! None of us want to die! For the love of God, don't put that pen down!!!"

"You once knew me as 'Farley.'"

“In a Land Lousy with Unicorns…” and Other Less-Than-Exceptional Beginnings to Children’s Books

“At Hogwarts School for Wizards, the ‘special ed’ kids were the most inadvertently dangerous of them all.”

“This is the story of seven little elves…well, five little elves…no, wait, four little…two…this is the story of one little elf with a repeat-action pistol.”

“Sleeping Beauty awoke from her long slumber to find that, crap, she was still drunk.”

“Bobby was an orphan. Tommy was the reason why.”

“For an eight-year-old boy, Arnie had made some very powerful enemies indeed. The following is the story of his last known hours.”

“A long time ago in a land far, far away, lived two brother. One was extremely happy, loved by all and could do no wrong in the eyes of family, friends and every one he met. The other brother, however, had not won Powerball Lotto.”

“Tugboats don’t usually drown…unless they are very, very depressed.”

“Puddles was no ordinary adorable puppy. For starters, he robbed banks.”

“Because he kept kosher, many believed Petey to be a self-hating pig.”

“For an enchanted sprite, Louie was having a heck of a time graduating from air conditioning and refrigeration school.”

“Wherever you look there is magic…and probably a Starbucks.”

“One fine spring day Jenny awoke to realize that she could fly…but only up to 1000 feet, whereupon she lost instantly lost her newfound power forever.”

“It was the day of the teddy bear picnic, and shame was once more to walk hand-in-hand with alcoholism.”

“Once upon a time there lived a very poor farmer. His crops were dying. His loved ones were starving. His future looked oh so bleak. Then one day, only hours before the bank was to foreclose on his property and the government was to put his children to work in the coal mines to repay the family debt, the lowly farmer spied a leprechaun struggling against the swift currents in the river that ran alongside the farm. The farmer quickly ran to the leprechaun’s aid and without hesitation rescued him from certain doom. The leprechaun was so taken with the farmer’s bravery that he said unto his rescuer, ‘For saving my life, I shall grant you one wish. Name it and it shall be instantly yours.’ And since that fateful time that poor farmer has never gone a single day without scoring some sweet, sweet pussy.”

“For small, defenseless and apparently edible beings, gnomes have a tendency to shoot of their mouth to the wrong creatures.”

Friday, July 20, 2007

Nightmare on Your Street

I recently received the following great email from someone I have never met:

Just thought I'd drop a note to let you know that you made a cameo in one of my dreams last night (weird, I know). Apparently, in my dream, you used to be a middle reliever for the Atlanta Braves before quitting to become a writer (100% true story). You were in the league for a few years, had a live arm (fastball topped out at 96, 97 mph) and a great slider, but you've got no control. You gotta work on that.

I'm apparently in the "dream world" now, people, so consider this your fair warning...although I'll probably just use my razor-like fingernails for spearing pickles from jars or making hand puppets with two black olives for eyes.

38 Years Ago Today

Thursday, July 19, 2007

New Delhi Monkey Gang Auditions

The Great Foma gives an in-depth lowdown on THE casting call of the year (and a great follow-up to the casting call of LAST year).

The Single Greatest, Unfortunate, Appalling, Mindsticking Commercial of All Times

What's truly amazing is just how accurate this commercial portrays married life in the 1970's. Back then wives would indeed spend their days embarking on desultory walks through their own (or others') backyards like wood nymphs on clonazepam, sporadically checking in on children that may or may not be theirs, while their husbands toiled away in offices straight out of an early-era Bergman film.

Moreso, the commercial provides a clear glimpse of exactly what such office life was like back in the "Me Decade." No Internet. No computers. No coworkers. No lighting. Just you and the gnawing, horrifying fear that your wife may one day be abe to pinch more than an inch.

Curiously, Tab filmed a sequel to this very commercial, consisting of a single self-inflicted gunshot and blood silently seeping from a man's head just after he learned his wife had to go and have a second cookie.

So save that faltering relationship of yours and drink Tab. After all, "keeping your shape in shape has it's rewards."

Some Patients May also Come to Believe That They Are The Pope of Mars

The following are the possible side effects of Mirapex--a prescription drug for the treatment of restless leg syndrome--as listed on the manufacturer's web site:

Some people who take MIRAPEX can become sleepy or fall asleep while doing normal everyday activities like driving a car. It is possible that MIRAPEX treatment can cause someone to feel faint or become dizzy when standing up from a seated or prone position. There are reports of some people having hallucinations (seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, or tasting something that does not actually exist) while taking MIRAPEX.

There have been reports of patients taking certain medications to treat Parkinson’s disease or RLS, including MIRAPEX, that have reported problems with gambling, compulsive eating, and increased sex drive.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Update to Previous Post

A commentor on this post below noted--quite astutely I might add--that whether or not the The Bill Engvall Show was inspired by Sally Forth, the "pet/vacation" plot is quite honestly not the most original in the world.

In fact, I remember back in the 70's when sitcoms utiized what seemed like only a handful of possible plotlines, including:

* Long-quarreling characters get stuck in elevator/basement/shipping container and must work out their differences, only to come to both a mutual understanding and the same mutual dislike for one other.

* Neighbor's or boss's dog left in main character's care accidentally jumps off balcony and gets lost or killed, resulting in main character having to find a suitable replacement in time.

* Main character has to be in two places at once, usually at a big office meeting and a child's school recital.

* A conversation is overheard out of context and shenaningans result (otherwise known as the Three's Company device).

* Main character tries hard to impress the in-laws with disasterous results, only for their son or daughter to make a long-overdue impassioned plea about the worthiness of their spouse to their parents.

* The Harlem Globetrotters, Joe Namath or Sammy Davis Jr. appear.

Am I missing any?

The Ingenuity of Sitcoms

Tonight on The Bill Engvall Show:
Bill has the chance to take his family to Hawaii for vacation, and everyone's thrilled. But when a tumor is discovered on the family dog, Bill must decide whether or not to spend the vacation money on an operation that may not work. Hilarity ensues.

Summer 2005 in Sally Forth:
Ted and Sally are about to go on their dream vacation to Paris when they learn their cat needs an emergency colon operation. The Forths must decide whether or not to spend the vacation money on their pet instead. Hilarity ensues.

Of course, the fact that I may be inspiring a sitcom the likes of The Bill Engvall Show may speak to just how uninspiring my writing truly is.

Thanks to for the heads-up.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Jane Austen's Summer Newsletter, 17 July 1798

O, Dearest Friends, Confidents, Kindred Spirits and Compeers:

What dreadful hot weather has been upon us, forever keeping us in a state of inelegance and gracious indignation. With the house staff still tending to whatever their kind do at our principal house--and the Lady Heathcote's gloriously diverting daily tea dances regrettably deferred due to a most unfavourable outbreak of rickets, consumption and Spaniards--we have had to make our own merriment at the country estate with all manners of rebuses, whist and impeccably delivered character slights (alas, I would be most remiss if I did not take this moment to extend my condolences on the passing of the Bertramsworths' youngest child, Abigalia, due to that most fearful of childhood horrors, spine rot).

Of course, we have had our opportunities to dispel the summer malaise. The pleasingly handsome Mr. Tom LeFroy invited us to his father's "Pheasant and Vole Brawl," but his unrefined disposition made me wish he would profit from further social edification or at the very least a sound thrashing, since such has often proved a strong tonic for the four humours. And the less said about Mr. and Mrs. Fowles' "Mojito Mixer" the better (also, let me express how grievous it was for these ears to hear of the unscheduled passing of the Bertramsworths' other youngest child, Timothford, due to that most common yet egregious of prepubescent afflictions, lupine attack).

So to pass the time we have conscripted our very selves to the duty of throwing a fete of such exuberance and conviviality forthwith hereto this coming week's end. There shall be pointed yet diverting disquisitions of the predicament of unmarried decorous English women in these times. There shall be inumerable opportunities to demonstrate the purity of our secular spirituality. There shall penetrating explorations of the uncertainty that forever rules our moral situation. And there shall be the revelation of a great love, presented with detached irony, hardy realism and pleasing results for who object to both wild abandon and great caculation (and please permit me to use this closing moments to utter my most deepest and refined regret on the passing of the Bertramsworths' third youngest child, Hertfunshire--"Hertie"--due to that most displeasing of juvenescence ailments, being ensnared in a carriage axle for the duration of a three-day journey).

Monday, July 16, 2007

Thanks for Sticking It In Me

Sure, there are a few musical comedians. But out of those who is actually funny? And who can actually sing? I mean, really sing?

The answer is Shayna Ferm. Not only is she exceedingly talented but also exceptionally nice. Just check out her song Thanks for Sticking It in Me, a love song to her husband. Then make sure to watch her other clips:

The Confidence Song
The Dummyless Ventriloquist

Sally Forth Hate Mail

Over the years I’ve received numerous irate responses from Sally Forth readers wishing to lecture me, chastise me or simply call me a “feminist gay pussy twat” because of various plot lines or jokes in the strip.

Of course, that is in now way meant to implay that everyone who responds to a Sally Forth does so without merit. In fact, many of the readers' reactions have been quite reasonable:

Dear sir: My husband and I have been readers of the Sally Forth comic strip for years, and we have generally enjoyed it a great deal. However, we are extremely dismayed to find that recent strips have shown thievery in the office place after a general lay-off. Completely unacceptable behavior, but it certainly isn't being portrayed as unacceptable--in fact, the thievery appears to be accompanied by a self-congratulatory attitude. Until this is rectified, we won't be enjoying the strip any longer.

Others, however, a little less so:

Who are you to make fun of looms?!

But all of the responses have been--in a word--passionate. Back in 2004 when I wrote a story about the Forth family considering having a second child, people thoughtfully took the time to track down my home phone number and leave messages angrily demanding that I remind the characters there are already 6.2 billion people currently populating the globe, none of whom I imagine are fictional.

In 2005, when I had the family’s cat—“Kitty”—go missing for two days, my syndicate received 2800 pieces of hate mail and over 200 irate phone calls. Two newspapers pulled the strip, three ran scathing editorials about the storyline, several animals rights groups contacted me threatening to boycott the strip and a call-in pet care radio show in Florida invited me as a guest so I could chat with their listeners, all of whom they said “wanted me dead.”

And just a few months ago I got emails from four incensed readers—one stating, “Dear Mr. Marciuliano: You are a dumb fuck”—because I didn’t know that pickles now come in plastic bags.

Many of these responses I find pointed or funny, a few I find irritating and one or two make me wish I never left copywriting. But only once in my almost ten years of writing the strip was I completely terrified of the readers’ possible reaction to a story. It was the result of remarkably poor timing and completely without intention, but it involved a major geopolitical fiasco.

Now, there is a significant lag time between when one writes a strip and when it appears in the newspaper. I’m currently writing daily strips that will run at the end of September and Sunday strips that will appear in the November. So at the end of May 2004 I wrote a Sunday strip for that autumn in which the title character—Sally— dreams office demands and obstacles are piling up at an increasingly bizarre pace until her company’s building is eventually taken over by Chechen rebels. The strip was approved, illustrated and set to run in 900 newspapers on Sunday, September 26, 2004.

On Wednesday, September 3—on the third day of a tense standoff in a Beslan elementary school, shooting broke out between Chechen rebel hostage-takers and Russian security forces, resulting in the deaths of 344 civilians, 186 of them children.

On Thursday, September 4, I received the advance print of the aforementioned strip. Only then did I remember what I had written.

I now had three weeks to get the comic pulled.

To be honest I had two reasons to prevent the strip from running. First and foremost, the last thing I wanted was to appear to be making light of a horrible tragedy, especially one involving the death of children. Second, I had once received 13 emails in a single day cursing me out because the characters in the strip had not wrapped their Christmas gifts until Christmas Eve. The thought of what kind of—and how many—responses I would receive from a large-scale international tragedy was a significantly more than I could comprehend. Unfortunately, the reason Sunday strips are written so far in advance is that it takes that long to process them in color, put them in Sunday comics supplements and send them out to various warehouse distribution centers. In other words, the only chance I would have had to pull the strip was more or less three days after I wrote it.

So I had another idea—what if I wrote a note to run in the editorial section of all 900 newspapers explaining that the strip had been written and illustrated long before the shootings and apologizing to anyone who might take offense at its content. Not wanting to seem indifferent to people’s reactions—which were going to be strong—I also gave readers a special address through which they could contact me with their questions or concerns.

The papers ran the statement. Then I waited in fear, worried that if I could receive 22 emails telling me off for getting one of the “Thundercats” names wrong—it’s “Cheetara,” not “Cheetera”—God only knows what wrath I was about to face.

I got one letter. This is that very letter, furiously hand-scrawled, all in caps, on unlined paper (please click on image to enlarge):

The next day I received an email from a reader angry because I had mentioned “Yodels” in the strip instead of “Ho-Hos.”

Friday, July 13, 2007

Name That Band: Part Two

Thanks to everyone who has participated in the quest to rename Faye and Hilary's piano/guitar powerhouse, supergroup combo. I've narrowed the original list down to the leading favorites and added a few new options to the mix, just to keep things a little interesting and the poll perhaps never-ending.

1. Cupcake Thunderbrake
2. Francine and the Trousers
3. And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Our Bread
4. Teenage Girl President
5. New Delhi Monkey Gang
6. Strawberry Shoreleave
7. I Am Rubber You Are Glue
8. Don't Stop Bereaving
9. What if We're a Dream and the Giant Wakes Up?
10. The Strudels

Forgotten Sid & Marty Krofft Shows

For the greater part of the 1970's, Sid and Marty Krofft defined Saturday morning children's television with high-concept stories, ominous themes, alternative realities, hallucinatory production design, trippy music, giant puppets, inadvertent references to skin flutes and more abandoned children than a Dickens retrospective. From the fantastical and frightening H.R. Pufnstuf to the frightening and frightening Land of the Lost, the Krofft brothers spun magic time and time again with shows whose freakish images couldn't have burned more into a child's mind if they were attached to the end of a branding iron. But almost as fascinating as their hits are the series that failed to capture the public's attention and were sadly forgotten...until now:

Nice to Meat You (1971)
A young Mersey lad, Jimmy Jim, who eats nothing but fast food gets shot in the head and wakes up in Pattiesburgh, a city “founded, incorporated, governed in a democratic-republican fashion and outfitted with an extensive, financially-prudent mass transportation system by huge, talking hamburgers,” according to the less-than-memorable theme song lyrics. The show revolved around the town’s good-hearted leader “Burgermeister,” the power-pop trio “The Pickle Chips” and the curiously out-of-place “Asian Salad with Premium Spring Salad Mix” all trying to help Jimmy Jim get back to his own world. Unfortunately, the child actor playing Jimmy spent the entire series screaming in utter, unstoppable terror at the sight of the large-headed, anthropomorphic food puppets, resulting in every episode focusing on the costumed cast sitting around playing cards, talking about summer stock theater and dropping dead from heat exhaustion.

Crash Course (1976)
Three clean-cut teens (Pam, Billy and The Black One) find and fix-up an old jalopy only to realize that not only is it alive but it also embodies the spirit of little-known founding father Arthur Middleton (voiced by Richard Burton). "Artie"--as he is dubbed by the kids much to his dismay--tries to teach the trio about the historical significance of the Revolutionary War and the very importance of the upcoming Bicentennial, but the gang instead decides to enter the car in one demolotion derby after another to help raise money for their hippy band, "The Daisy Chain." Much of the show's humor derived from "Artie" slowly losing not only his posh accent but also his motor skills, cognitive abilities and eventually his very sense of self due to the horrible collisions he endured on the derby circuit on a daily basis. By series' end the immobile "Artie" could only form bubbles from his grille and demand pancakes at an ever-increasing volume, forcing the kids to abandon him for a sentient skateboard voiced by Charles Nelson Reilly.

Psychotropical Paradise (1974)
A young brother and sister make friends with a talking brownie inside a mirror-walled kewpie doll teetering on the edge of a teacup in a pirate ship sailing against the tide of button-up conformity, as embodied by Billy Barty playing a corn fritter festooned with talking medallions. Although Sid and Marty Krofft have categoricallly denied that Psychotropical Paradise was influenced by--or made any reference to--drug use, the show's 42-minute opening theme song (in which an old woman moans "I am the one scratching inside the wall behind your bed" over and over again while a xylophone learns to play itself), the use of the same plot for every single epsiode (boy and girl try to find way home, meet cow, the lichen take arms, a beatiful egg hatches from a constable's eye and the rain echoes the sound of chocolate) and host Syd Barrett (who would end each show demanding to know how the viewers found his home address before retiring to his mother's basement) all make for a strong counterargument. Despite attempts to impart life lessons (such as the importance of writing your name on your hand, phoneticaly, should you forget who you are), the program baffled critics and scared the bejesus out of four-year-olds, who were its target market. Eventually the show was pulled and replaced with another Krofft series, Clap, Clap, Clap, about giant hands that made thunder noise for a living and the little British boy who winds up in their world for some inexplicable reason or another.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

From the Ted Forth Files: How NOT to Start a Cover Letter

Thanks to Ted Forth for sharing the following less-than-triumphant attempts at securing employment:

"Mother always said Baby Jesus has a plan for every person in Christendom. I believe His plan for me was that I become your Assistant North Eastern Regional Manager of Sales Development, New Media."

"A team player. A natural leader. A big-picture visionary. A details-oriented individual. A fine piece of ass. I’m all these and oh so much more."

"I’ve got skills. Mad skills."

"I despise everything that your company represents. But I love your competitive salaries and comprehensive benefits package. So clearly I’m torn."

"I’m not one for making threats. So please excuse the awkwardness of this letter."

"In the words of the Insane Clown Posse…"

"I’ll do anything for a Klondike bar. Anything."

"Please note that this job request is contingent on tonight’s Mega Lotto drawing."

"Working for your company would be the twelfth best thing that could happen to me."

"I never thought it would come to this. Me, asking someone like you for a job."

"When I saw your ad in the classifieds I immediately thought, ‘Hey, that looks like a good way to kill two or three years of my life.’"

"Clearly if I had something other than deli wrapping paper to write this on I would have used it so don’t even start."

"Ever since I was a kid I longed for a career in medical supply sales. Christ, what a freak of a nine-year-old I was."

"I know you’re looking for a self-starter, but I beg you to reconsider."

"Do you guys like to party?"

"As I write my ninth cover letter to you in as many days, I can’t help but wonder why haven’t you called. Are you ill?"

"I believe I possess the essential job qualifications, experience and commitmentthat you not only seek but also demand for this significant position. I shit you not."

"Turn around. Slowly."

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

New Delhi Monkey Gang: Unsigned, Undeterred

Well, Hil and Faye got the band back together, and while they are still dead-set on singing about vampires, vampire cake and perhaps even vampire bris, they may soon be looking for a new band name.

This is where you come in, dear reader, with yet another chance to inspire--or at the very least corrupt--the world of Sally Forth. Just choose your favorite band name from the list below and maybe, just maybe, you'll see it printed in almost 20 newspapers across the contiguous United States.

1. Ron Weasley Harding
2. Cupcake Thunderbrake
3. And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Our Bread
4. Rawkstars
5. Francine and the Trousers
6. Faye and Hil Meet the Harlem Globetrotters
7. Rockcandy Raspberry
8. Dog Day Afternoon Delight
9. New Delhi Monkey Gang Experience
10. Interpol

Table of Contents for "The Complete Norton Anthology of Emily Dickinson, Post-Zoloft Prescription"

I think I’ll have some chicken

Can't find my pillow's "cool spot"

This gum is kinda chewy

Hail is snow but not really

My vase water smells funky

Crayons could make nice candles

I don't know what this key's for

"Emily" starts with an "e"

Two cookies then back to work

Today I catalog spoons

Monday, July 9, 2007

Comics and Gambling: A Winning Combination

“Ted Forth, Male Lesbian, is gazing at the abyss, and the abyss is gazing at him. He needs less Nietzche, more Norman Vincent Peale.”—Doug Puthoff, Comics Curmudgeon

Ever since Ted was terminated from his job in Sally Forth reader reaction has been, well, let’s just say there has been a reaction, which is a step in the right direction. Some have identified with his plight, others have decried what they view as a dour turn of events for the funny pages, but only one person--Jamus the Bartender, regular commentator on America’s Finest Website --took the time to actually set odds for Incidents During Ted Forth’s Tenure of Unemployment. Place your bets on his predictions and maybe, regrettably, help alter a storyline in the process:

1. The first time Ted does the laundry, he eschews using the dryer in favor of a clothespin line simply to watch the college girl next door sunbathe and get drunk. 20-1 Win, 10-1 Place, 5-1 Show

2. Hilary can no longer bring her friends over as an unshaven, cologne-smelling-leaves-his-robe-open-and-doesn’t-care-because-it’s-still-his-house-Goddammit Ted freaks them out. 10-1 Win, 5-1 Place, 3-1 Show

3. Sally spends a LOT of time at the office due to Ted’s unwillingness to get off his hiney and look for work, their sex life suffers and….well, let me just say, amongst the mailroom, Sally’s new nickname is now “fingercuffs” (consult Kevin Smith’s Chasing Amy or your local library for further information). 15-1 Win, 10-1 Place, 5-1 Show

4. Sally comes home to find Ted rearranging her underwear drawer, labeling each piece by day of the week, color, pattern and “which one works best for me."30-1 Win, 20-1 Place, 10-1 Show

5. Not only has Ted seen every episode of Sealab 2021, he’s also started an Annotated Sealab 2021 site, complete with lists of cast of characters and a possible interview with the guy that does the voice of Hesh. 10-1 Win, 5-1 Place, 3-1 Show (Note: Ces bets $25,000 to Win)

6. Ted buys a telescope, ostensibly for his new astronomy hobby, but it’s really for….well, co-ed next door, you do the math. 20-1 Win, 10-1 Place, 5-1 Show

I Know Art When I Purchase It

A little over month ago I finally moved into my new apartment in Manhattan. Since then I've been busily on the search for new art to hang on my blank walls, knowing that if I stare at that "Benjamin Moore Simply White" surface much longer I'll eventually snap, cover the entire studio in blackboard paint and immediately start scrawling feverish dreams that make a Henry Darger retrospective look like Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Thus, last week I found myself perusing some paintings at an upscale produce shop on the Upper East Side--as the Medicis no doubt did before me--when I noticed a price tag exclaiming, in megaphone font, "SALE! ONE WEEK ONLY! $185!" It already being Wednesday, I quickly looked at the attached painting, only to first notice a small, metal plaque screwed to the bottom of its wooden frame.

It read, simply, "Portrait, Edwardian Monkey."

And sure enough, the plaque did not lie. The painting was in fact an in-studio portrait of a seated monkey, circa 1910. The subject was smartly attired in a Norfolk jacket, checkered cap, tasteful black tie, crisp white linen shirt and an onyx walking stick. On a small pedestal was placed a white and pink Chinese vase, filled with a cross-sampling of British orchids. A pipe was held firmly, but not tightly, in a gloved hand. The monkey acknowledged this viewer with little to no regard, as if I just happened to fall inadvertently within his line of sight only to be soon dismissed for a smudge on the wall, a chip in a teacup or the grout between tiles.

As I studied "Portrait, Edwardian Monkey," with a critical eye for both subject matter and execution, a single yet persistent question eventually came to mind--Exactly what is the going rate for crap? Is $185 for "Portrait, Edwardian Monkey" a good deal? Is it a steal? Will I be kicking myself hard this week when I return to said produce shop only to find the painting is once more retailing for its standard six-figure price?

All I know is, if that plaque had read, "Self-Portrait, Edwardian Monkey" that shit would be hanging in my apartment as we speak.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Quotes from Ted Forth's Prolonged Unemployment

“The mice don’t really do my bidding, Sal. They just hear me out.”

“What is it about hard lemonade that goes down so soft so often?”

“Sure, the neighbors laugh now. But soon they will come to respect my cape and cowl.”

“Look, Sal! Look! Look! If I yell loud enough and long enough you can actually see the news anchor on the TV twitch!”

“I lost $11,000 in online cribbage.”

“At first it was just a convenient way to always have a ‘To Do’ list on me. But then I found I really like branding.”

“Listen, Sal, I’m sorry to call you at work but…but…but a fly got in the house and–AUGH!!! IT FOUND ME!!! IT FOUND ME!!! AUUUUUUGH!!!”

“I was going to build a bookshelf but then I thought, ‘Why not just nail all our books to the wall?”

“And now for my one-man ‘Medea’…”

“It’s our very own castle, Sal. Right in our backyard. I made it myself. And you wanted me to throw out all those cans of Tab.”

“Listen, Sal, it’s probably best if you don’t keep screaming, ‘Is that a meth lab in our mud room?!?’”

“DON’T OPEN THE DOOR, SAL! We’re filming in here!”

“It was easy, Sal. I just got one of your dresses, cut off some of your hair while you were asleep and ta-da! Twinsies!”

“It’s all for you, Damien!…Uh, I mean Hilary.”

Thursday, July 5, 2007

No Whammy!

Last Saturday the following Sally Forth strip ran:

Today I received the following from The Game Show Network along with a very nice, handwritten "Thank You" note:

It's a game show buzzer (A GAME SHOW BUZZER!) complete with three sounds: "Wrong Answer," "Correct Answer" and--most important of all--"Applause."

Never again shall I spend another day without audience adulation.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

A Child's Independence Day Guide to Class-B Explosives

Sparkler: Much like candy cigarettes were once an adorable towhead’s first awkward steps toward an adult lung biopsy, the equally harmless sparkler once started a child on the path that could eventually lead to firecrackers. Then M-80s. Then having to count to ten by using the same hand twice. That said, as fireworks, sparklers were only amusing if you had ever wondered what a corn dog would be like if it were made of magnesium. Limited in firepower, lacking in risk and wanting in unbridled machismo, the sparkler lent itself to only three forms of entertainment:

1. Pretending the sparkler was a light saber as you engaged in epic duels while imitating Darth Vader’s voice in a prepubescent voice so ludicrously high it made Neil Sedaka sound like Barry White.
2. Using the sparkler to quickly scrawl some incandescent doggerel in the air, such as "This sparkler sucks."
3. Making believe the sparkler was Tinkerbell burning up upon reentry.

Firecracker: While the sparkler was a sign from above of what the world would be like if moms had final say and safety scissors were considered "shivs," firecrackers were like manna from heaven. After all, when you’re a child nothing but nothing spells "fun" like "detonation." Throw in the added bonus of "deafening noise" and a firecracker seemed like Christmas and Armageddon rolled up into one. Granted, at times the appeal of the firecracker could seem limited at best. It didn’t scream across the sky. It wouldn’t burst into a shower of brilliant hues. It couldn’t be timed to blast perfectly to any thing other than that "The 1812 Overture." But while the firecracker may have lacked the sheer artistry of professional firework displays or even roman candles, if placed carefully and in sufficient quantities, it could instantly revert your Tonka tuck back into its elemental properties. The same went for your G.I. Joe doll, Lego sets, Aurora racetrack and Big Wheel. The downside of such merriment, alas, was that the firecracker could also rob you of all your earthly possessions faster than a crystal meth addiction.

Bottle Rocket: Back in the 60’s and 70’s, children oft dreamt of hurtling into space--usually within the safe confines of a capsule or some sort of ship. But while the very idea of commercial space travel seemed like something that would only come to fruition in the distant future--say 1992 or so--bottle rockets provided the perfect simulation for anyone who had already used all their Estes "D" rocket engines to send their hamster to another zip code. Of course, bottle rockets also had the rather nasty habit of arcing into a neighbor’s roof, setting fire to nearby brush or skidding down the street toward a wholly unsuspecting and soundly sleeping dog. But these were minor quibbles and acts of inadvertent arson compared to the pure elation of watching your rocket climb higher and higher into the stratosphere, slicing the air with its high-pitched whistle, only to abruptly and inexplicably turn and hurtle straight down into an idling car with a gas leak.

Roman Candle: Despite the presence of the word "roman" in its name, these beloved fireball launchers were initially conceived as the ultimate weapon of mass destruction by a long-forgotten civilization so woefully inept at everything (including arming itself) that it died off due to accidental strangulation moments before it was conquered by some wayward sheep. The fact that such occurred in the mid-1930’s only makes their sad tale all the more pathetic. However, their horrifying yet admittedly humorous demise became every child’s gain. For what small tyke did not gaze wide-eyed in wonder at those airborne spheres of varicolored light--especially if they were headed right for their face thanks to some son-of-a-bitch second cousin. Your best chance to emulate a professional fireworks display without a permit or sponsor, the roman candle also brought a touch of class to a night that might have otherwise consisted solely of immovable "tank" firecrackers, aeronautically-deficient "whirlybirds" and firework "fountain" displays that showered only disappointment upon family and friends--along with some sort of corrosive acid.

M-80: Providing a level of firepower not usually bequeathed to an eight-year-old outside of military service or backwoods militia, the M-80 was many a child’s first proof that there indeed is a God. And that He is cool. And that He, too, understood that to create one must often destroy or at least dismantle well beyond easy repair. Whereas the bottle rocket was elegant--and the roman candle resplendent--the M-80 possessed its own simple yet foreboding beauty, not unlike a sunflower wielding a Beretta. It also gave a small child an enormous bargaining tool outside of the Fourth of July celebration--say, such as during discussions of a "new" bedtime with one’s parents or a talk about whether or not you would get to drive the car to Grandma’s house, literally through the woods. In short, to hold an M-80 was to have infinite possibility within your very grasp. It was, in essence, a chance to be God. Until you detonated it. Then all you were was covered in plaster and the dust of whatever else once lined your bedroom.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Unpublished Ted Forth Dialogue

"Look, Sal! I'm caulking! I"M CAULKING!"

"I'm just so garrulous today."

"Wait! Nobody move! I smell honeysuckle..."

"Now THAT's a rammekin!"

"If I ruled the world I would be making some bold color choices..."

"Socks? With sandals? Why not just put on a trash bag and call it an ensemble?"

"Let the the tea steep for three minutes."

"I can't stop trembing..."

"In the summer I tan to a fine nutmeg."

"Oh, Nutter Butters. You'll be my downfall yet."

"I'm reading this amazing book on Olivia de Havilland..."

"Oh...Oh, God! They put milk in my latte..."

"That football tourney was wonderful. Simply wonderful."

"I...I...I could have sworn Blue Velvet was the sequel to National Velvet..."

"Where are the tweezers?"

"You gaze out on this beautiful autumn day and tell me it doesn't make YOU cry!"

"In a word, delicious!"