1. Loved cocky Newton! One question though…what’s happening in the church comic? Is it…

    a) …he sees people are getting ill generally (turning into zombies, by the looks of it) and blesses those that have contributed in the hopes that they don’t get ill. A futile effort, but funny because the priest singles out contributors, providing us with a dig at the materialism of the church.

    b) …he has poisoned, via communion wine perhaps, cheapskates who haven’t contributed. Funny as it’s a juxtaposition of the perceived caring attitude of the church and the homicidal maniac at the alter.

    c) Neither.

    d) Both.

    I’m leaning towards option ‘b’ since the ‘did’ is emphasized which suggests he was dealing with those that ‘didn’t’ prior to this and now they’re all dying. However, I’m not sure so I thought I’d ask.

  2. Stan has it with “D” (“both”), except that the complimentary action to the minister’s “blessing” is that he has “cursed” the unsupportive members of the congregation.

  3. “except that the complimentary action to the minister’s “blessing” is that he has “cursed” the unsupportive members of the congregation”

    Thanks Kilby. I think you’re closer to the mark than I was. If you’re right though, it would have been a much more subtle and humorous joke (in my opinion) if the priest had just said, “Bless all of you who contributed to the church fund.”

  4. @ Stan – That sort of understatement would be something I’d expect from Charles Addams. Gahan Wilson tended to be more upfront with his creepiness.

  5. I read this week that Tim Conway is also suffering from dementia, and his daughter and second wife are fighting over where he should be. As Dorothy Parker once said about the doorbell ringing, “What fresh hell can this be?” . . . as we age.

  6. I think “B” is most correct, but names the wrong murderer… whichever deity it is that this church worships was not pleased by the (lack of) offerings from some members of the congregation, and has afflicted them accordingly. The church-leader is trying to keep things moving rather than dwell on the loss of some of their number.

  7. It is the unwritten line before the minister gives his blessing. “Curse all who did not contribute, and to all those who did (underlined in the comic) contribute to the the church fund…. Our Blessings.”

  8. The Rapunzel cartoon looks like a rejected storyboard for a Red Bull commercial. “Red Bull gives you hair!” Same artist maybe?

  9. These are all good, though the A&J hits close to home. I love DH, but it drives me nuts when he shows his affection while I’m trying to be productive. I have a hard enough time getting motivated to do chores; I really don’t want to be interrupted.

  10. I haven’t flown in such a long time (and if I do, I will do my best to avoid travelling through the USA), that it took me a very long time to get the “Pre-check” joke.

    As for Gahan Wilson’s cartoon, I find it very funny, but I wonder about the church involved. The priest/minister has destroyed the entire concept of faith on which religions are based. He has provided convincing evidence that their diety/ies both exists and has/have the power to affect our physical world.

  11. @RAL “It is the unwritten line before the minister gives his blessing. “Curse all who did not contribute,”

    Yea, I was thinking that myself, but it seemed like a weird thing for a minister to say…but this is a comic and comic logic applies. I can’t think of anything more logical he would have said in front of my first two options. “Well, it seems we’re in the midst of a zombie apocalypse…”, or “I’ve just poisoned all the non-contributors to the church fund…”, so yea, I think you’re probably right.

  12. SBill, I had occasion to fly out of London, Berlin and Brussels last year, and their lines were no less nightmarish than those in the United States.

  13. @CIDU Bill: Sure, the airport has never been a fun place, at least if you’re flying in the cheap seats. However, I’ve the impression that flying to, from, or through the USA is particularly difficult as all the TSA foolishness must be followed. Were I flying directly from Canada to another country and not transiting via the USA, one might get to avoid some of the worst of it.

  14. @ Bill – A large portion of the foolishness that one experiences in a European airport when flying to the US is imposed by American regulations, and not the local authorities. When flying from the same airport to a non-American destination, the process is significantly easier.

  15. I have heard that the Europeans treat their own citizens differently from foreigners. (Specifically, I heard this about France). So there’s a line for French passports, and a line for everybody else, and they aren’t the same. You, of course, would have been in the “everybody else” line. I only heard this from one person, so it may not be accurate, or may not be accurate any more.

  16. It’s the same on both sides: in France, there is a line for European passports (short), and another line for the rest of the world (long); in the US, there is a line for American passports (short) and another for the rest of the world (long). You might wait a very short time at immigration, but then, you wait for your suitcase at the carousel; actually, the maze helps pass the time: instead of standing in front of a wall, you walk around, stretch your legs, enjoying all the walls.
    Only way to save time is to have just a carry-on bag, and travel inside the US, or the EU.

  17. @ JP – Almost. When there are two separate lines for incoming passengers, they are for “all EU passports” and “all Non-EU passports”. However, this isn’t a major problem, because this usually occurs in the airport where we change planes, so it’s just a brief formality (they scan the passports and wave everyone through). At the final destination, the (second) flight originated within the EU, so nobody bothers with passports (or customs, for that matter).

  18. When I worked in Japan, I had the appropriate visa to be allowed in the “Japanese” line when going through immigration. I do not look Japanese, so everyone else in the line (who all looked Japanese) were eyeing me, figuring I was in the wrong place. Eventually a man, who I know was just trying to be helpful, approached me and told me, in English, that this line was for Japanese and I should go to that line over there. I told him it was okay because “I am Japanese”. He looked a bit baffled but nodded and smiled and said something like “Oh, okay” and went back in line. I really wish my Japanese had been good enough to explain the details of my visa.

  19. I stopped air travel for vacations after 9/11 because it just became more work than it was worth. Hubby still travels for scuba diving, and his horror stories (he has more patience than I do) make me glad I wasn’t traveling with him (I’m sure HE was glad about that, too).

    When I did have to fly to AZ to take care of my parents, I spent the extra $$ and traveled first class; much less hassle.

  20. I have an EU passport, and recently acquired an American passport, and I can report that it is now all hassle, all the time: on the American side I have seen no benefit in having a local passport (I was traveling with my mother who still doesn’t have a US passport, so I could compare), as they keep making the system more complex, adding machines and robots, but in the end, you still have to be cleared by an immigration agent (the machine prints out a slip that you have to present to the agent — so now you have two lines to wait in (robot line and agent line), and instead of your passport you present a computer printed slip, potato potatoe… And that’s when the new system isn’t broken and the whole thing is being done manually anyway. (The last time, end of January, they were showing videos of a guy tearing up that damn customs form they make you fill out in the airplane because supposedly they were no longer needed — except of course they WERE (they always are, they’ll never get rid of those damn things!), and this stupid video was adding to the confusion, because people were tossing the ones they had, and then having to refill them out when they got to the agent, causing no end of slow down…)

    In the EU unfortunately they have started implementing face scanners on entry and exit, so they no longer just wave you through with an EU passport, you have to scan the thing and then be scanned yourself… I used to love entering the EU, it was so nice and affirming and welcoming…

    And, let me just leave this here: Tegel Airport in Berlin has to be the worst airport in the world currently, and I have traveled in the third world, and the fourth (that would be any NY/NJ Port Authority Airport). (Heck, the third world airports are often some of the nicest, because they’ve blown a lot of money to build an impressive airport that is usually ten times as big as the travel rate warrants…) Tegel is just a disaster on every level, and it makes you wonder if this is not the beginning of the end for the Germans if they can’t build a simple airport any more (I still like Frankfurt, but apparently the institutional knowledge has been lost…)

  21. @ larK – The problem with Tegel is that it is handling many times the traffic it was designed for. If you are lucky enough to fly from one of the original seventeen gates in the main hexagon, it can be a very pleasant experience. If you have to journey out to one of the outposts (C and D gates), it can be a hideous pain in the neck.
    None of this is going to change when (or if) they ever open the new BER airport on the southeast side of town. The maximum capacity of the new terminal building is lower than the current annual number of passengers who fly to and from Berlin, so the system will be overloaded before it even starts. Even better, they made no provisions for expansion, so there’s no way to increase capacity or even build a tunnel to a hypothetical second terminal. There’s even a move afoot to consider keeping Tegel in service after BER is opened, because there’s just no way that BER will handle the traffic otherwise.
    The earliest that they could even consider getting BER open is late 2020 (nearly ten years late), but nobody who lives here believes that this will happen.

  22. @ Kilby: Is this book distinct from Looking for the Lost: Journeys Through a Vanishing Japan? The entries on Amazon make it hard to tell if these are the same book published under different titles, or two different books published around the same time with very similar subjects…

    I ask because my library only has the one I mention above, and before I kill myself trying to get the one you recommend, I want to make sure it actually is a different book…

  23. @Kilby, re Tegel: I know the problem, what I don’t understand is that they can’t do a solution… And even flying out of the main hexagon, the problem is that they still think they are a regional airport, not an international one. I flew out on an international flight, where you are supposed to get to the airport 2 if not 3 hours before-hand, but when you get there, there is no information whatsoever about your flight — anywhere! You can’t check in, the information people are useless, you are wondering if your flight has been cancelled, moved, what’s the deal? The deal is they don’t even bother to list the flight until maybe an hour before it leaves, and they don’t man the gate until maybe 15 minutes before; they don’t bother to acknowledge that this is the gate until maybe half an hour before. And you don’t go through security until after you go through the gate! So you have to take it on faith that you really will be flying to US when you are still standing on the outside, no security no passport check, 20 minutes before the flight is supposed to take off…
    Now, admitted, if they can really work this, so that you really can trust that you will make your international flight arriving less than an hour before its scheduled departure at the airport, that would be great! But their communication sucked big time! And the poor public transportation connection to the airport (a bus that leaves you outside the airport — what is this, the US?!), and it still being the better option than to try and drive (my aunt is an expert, knows where to park, she picked us up with the car, but for the return she advised us to take the bus).
    And arrival! Over an hour we waited for our suitcases to come out from the plane. I could see my aunt through the door, but we couldn’t come out because we were waiting for our suitcases to arrive. Literally more than an hour we waved at each other before they finally managed to deliver our suitcases, which is longer than the flight itself (from Düsseldorf) had taken!
    Yeah, I understand why individually all those bad things are happening, what I don’t understand is why systemically all these things have been allowed to cascade to happen — these are the Germans for goodness sake — since when can’t they do planning anymore?!

  24. ‘these are the Germans for goodness sake — since when can’t they do planning anymore?!’

    Might just be a good thing . . .

  25. @ larK – “Looking for the Lost” was Booth’s second book, published posthumously. It is a similar travelogue, but follows the footsteps of a famous Japanese author. Both books are well worth reading, but I would definitely try to find “Roads to Sata” first, although it would probably work to read them in reverse order.

  26. P.S. @ larK – It is precisely the oddity of Tegel’s “multiple stage usage” of the hexagon’s gates that makes it so convenient, albeit only for those familiar with the system. Showing up two hours before a flight from one of those gates, and they don’t even want to see you, because the gate is still in use by the previous flight. However, I share your concerns about incoming luggage handling, the service can be atrocious. The basic problem is that the present airport was never planned to be the way it is now, it is simply a conglomeration of expedient work-arounds and additions, comprising at least five separate terminal buildings, each of which has its own peculiarities.

  27. ” in the US, there is a line for American passports (short) and another for the rest of the world (long)”

    In the US, there is a line to get into the security area (long). The only people in the short line are aircrew.

  28. SingaporeBill is right, The joke is about Precheck, which is unique to US airport security, not customs or immigration (no visas or passports necessary, just lining up like sheep going through the sheep-dip tank to be disinfected.) you pay the gubment $85, prove to them who are with 3 or more IDs or other documents, and you become one of the anointed, bearing a boarding pass with a PreCheck logo allowing you to use the Precheck line into security. In busier airports like LAX, (or even Denver), this can be a big deal. The Precheck line is looong, but the line for commoners is waaay looonger, so you get through security in 15 or 20 minutes instead of 30 or 40 minutes. Plus you can leave your shoes and belt on. In some places you even go through the older metal detectors rather than the fancy-schmansy full body scan.* in smaller airports, there’s probably not that much advantage. You may have a special Precheck entry to security, but you wind up at the same TSA agent as everyone else; you just get called next while everyone watches you cut in front of them. They then give you a yellow card which you hand to the agent at the scanner, so they know you get to keep your shoes on – whoo-hoo.
    * I get a kick out of these high tech body scans that are supposed to be so much more sensitive than the metal detectors. Every time I go through one I get stopped for an extra wanding because my pony tail goes half way down my back, and the machine flags the area for extra attention because it can’t “see” through the hair. Do women with long hair have this issue?

  29. Hubby uses this pre-check because he used to fly out of O’Hare Airport; I think now that we’re using Tampa, he won’t find it necessary to pay that extra $$ and go thru the hassle of the personal interview.

  30. Only have flown to /from Love Field, Dallas, to Mexico City and from Acapulco. We have had passports since post college, and renew them, but have never used them other than when I misplaced my license and needed id to get a new one.

    I spent a lot of time in LaGuardia airport – once when 4 members of the college yearbook staff were going to the yearbook printer (Dallas), traveling student standby, 2 of us early in the day, 2 after work. They kept bouncing the 2 of us off flights (luggage went on original flight) and we all ended up going together. No cell phones then and the yearbook rep never got the message we left (using a pay phone) at the publisher and just met every flight that came in, we when we weren’t on the right one. He later said the flight we did not take had a lot of news photographers and maybe someone political was on it and they didn’t want students. Then my boss (not my dad, I worked for another accountant) decided to move to Florida and I would pick him up at LaGuardia on Monday and drop him off on Friday.

    We used to know our way around Kennedy as we would drop off and pick up family members. We spent almost all of a night in the TWA terminal there. Robert’s family was flying back from Spain when Reagan fired the air traffic controllers. Again, being pre cell phones, we did not know what to do. We called my parents and told them we were going to the airport to wait (just in case they called and tried to find us and thought to call my parents to see what was going on), took some books and stayed until their flight showed up.

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