48 Comments

  1. Using Google Chrome, I right-click on the picture, and click “Open image in new tab”. Then it’s large enough to read.

  2. Were there really a lot of single-panel comic strips before the Far Side that would have done this sort of gag?

  3. Thanks for the viewing tips.
    Here is what I come up with, for the convenience of others not needing to go thru that.

    Judge: Having found you guilty of the unauthorized appropriation of moonbeams in a jar, the court sentences you to not less than three but no more than five years of singing on a star. Has the defendant any statement he’d wish to make?

    First standing guy (defendant?): Your Honor, if it please the court, I’d rather be a pig.

    Second standing guy (pig? lawyer?): You fool! You have no idea what it’s like. Believe me, you’re better off as you are!

  4. For the Barney & Clyde, I thought they usually make some effort to distinguish their fictional Pillsbury pharma company fro the real-life Pillsbury baking brand. But the part about “Pillsbury is with you in the kitchen” and the view of a lit oven, is getting kinda close, no?

  5. @ Mitch4 – There have been other occasions where I found the Weingartens’ needless choice of a confusing name objectionable, but in this case I never noticed the connection, mostly because the tube of ointment that she’s holding in the non-burning hand led straight to “medicine”, so “dough boy” never came to mind.

  6. Sorry about the quality of the first comic: it’s from an old magazine and I had just a few seconds to take a photo with my phone.

  7. It’s a kid’s song really, Andréa. I remember learning it in elementary school (aling with the likes of Drill Ye Tarriers Drill: our music teacher made some interesting choices )

  8. B. A., I assume you mean stand-alone panels (Far Side vs. Dennis the Menace) in newspapers, in which case… nothing comes to mind.

    My guess is that syndicates assumed a strip without a fixed cast of characters wouldn’t develop a following.

  9. But the part about “Pillsbury is with you in the kitchen” and the view of a lit oven, is getting kinda close, no?

    A little bit. Notice what they’re advertising is the burn cream.

  10. I had never heard of that song. But it does explain the line in Ray Stevens’s song “Guitarzan” where he sings about carrying moonbeams home in a jar – obviously a reference to the Sinatra number. The line still doesn’t make sense though.

  11. Kid’s song is probably a bit of a stretch.It was written for the movie “Going My Way” and was sung by Bing Crosby and a boy’s choir. I don’t know when or why Sinatra added it to his repertoire. Interesting that both Larson and the New Yorker cartoonist went with the second verse, rather than the mule from the first. Are pigs easier to draw?

  12. Seems like “Swing On a Star” needs a geezer tag.

    Also, just today Drill Ye Tarriers Drill came up on my car music.

  13. BA & CIDU Bill: the movie is from 1944; in the 1960’s, the next generation probably made fun of it (in Mad magazine maybe? Or college students’ newspapers).

  14. Okay, this is weird. I distinctly remembered Frankie singing the song to a kid in an old black and white movie from the fifties/early sixties, so I go to IMDB to check it out, and sure enough he sang it in a 1957 movie, The Joker is Wild, except that’s not the movie I remember, and there’s no kid in it. Turns out the movie I remember is A Hole In the Head, but the song was High Hopes. They say the memory is the first to go… I’m doomed.

  15. Back in 1944 every big hit was covered by every major record company. Often the record company just picked one of their top singers and told them to record it. There generally wasn’t that much stylistic difference among the different singers so it didn’t matter much whether Bing or Frankie sang it, except to the Bing and Frankie fans of course.

    I remember Captain Kangaroo’s recording of “Swinging on a Star” but I can’t find it on YouTube so here’s a link to Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Green Jeans singing “The Horse in Striped Pajamas”: https://youtu.be/YjZ812ASdn4

  16. For those discussing single-panel comics, the unique B. Kliban was thought to be a major influence in Larson and the rest.

  17. Both “Drill Ye Tarriers” and “Swing on a Star” were standard “sing along” numbers for when my family went on long car trips. I’m not sure where my mom learned the latter, but a quick search turned up an old cartoon version (1947) as well as one from Sesame Street (with “Susan”), so it seems to have been fairly widely known over many decades.
    P.S. That cartoon shows three “stars” (at 0:45 min). I can’t tell whether the voices are authentic, but they are probably supposed to be “Frankie”, “Bing”, and somebody else I cannot recognize.

  18. I afraid “It’s really not that obscure” is going to be my catch-phrase for 2019.

    Yes, it needs a geezer tag but … “It’s really not that obscure”.

    Now I never really heard it much And I hadn’t heard the animal versus until I was well in my twenties but the overall melody and the lines “Would you like to swing on a star; carry moonbeam home in a jar” were well enough known to be trite.

    …..

    “and somebody else I cannot recognize.”

    Someone in the comments section seems to think it is supposed to be Jerry Colonna, but I’m not so sure.

  19. In the Little Lulu cartoon Kilby linked to, the first guy is definitely Bing and the third one is Jerry Colonna (the mustache is the giveaway), but I have no idea who the second one is. It’s not Sinatra.

  20. I know “Swing on a Star” from Hudson Hawk, where Bruce Willis and Danny Aiello use it for timing a break-in. Weren’t we just talking about Bruce Willis’ break-out? This movie almost broke him down… I soooo wanted to like this movie, but boy was I disappointed. I blame the trailer for maybe half of that, because they made it seem like an action movie, whereas it was supposed to be a goof-ball silly movie, breaking plausibility even beyond what an action movie does, but no, I remember it was bad, even considering… (Although… I wonder what I would make of it if I were to rewatch it now, some 30 years later…?)

  21. Laurie Anderson “sampled” Swing on A Star in “Monkeys Paw” on her “Strange Angels” album.

    “You- could- be- an- oca- rina- salesman-
    going- from- door- to- door.
    Or- would- you- like- to- swing- on- a- star-
    and- carry- moon- beams- home?
    Or- next- time- around- you- could- be-
    a- small- bug-
    Or- would- you- like- to- be- a- fish?”

  22. Guero: I’ve often confused “High Hopes” with “Swing on a Star” too. Not surprising, I guess – turns out the tunes were written by the same person (though not the lyrics, despite both songs having weird, slightly unsettling animal themes).

  23. “In the Little Lulu cartoon Kilby linked to, the first guy is definitely Bing and the third one is Jerry Colonna (the mustache is the giveaway), but I have no idea who the second one is. It’s not Sinatra.”

    I assumed it was Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and Jerry Colonna (whom I wasn’t all that familiar with)

    “though not the lyrics, despite both songs having weird, slightly unsettling animal themes”

    I always thought animal themes in High Hopes were optimistic and positive; but the animal themes in Swing on a Star were mean and insulting and vulgar…. but now we are getting into my personal opinions.

    Hmm, I never noticed the similarity in the songs, but now that you mention it. It’s there.

  24. The middle one is definitely Bob Hope, although it is certainly not his voice. Little Lulu, Bing, Hope and Colonna all worked for Paramount. Sinatra was over at MGM.

  25. Woozy, I completely agree the animal themes in “Star” are not just unsettling but insulting. The weird part is that the lyrics segue from sweet stars and moonbeams directly to disparaging mules and pigs. How did people think that was a good idea?

    In “Hopes” the animals aren’t insulted but are somehow praised for being destructive. And the lyrics that don’t make sense but are just thrown in lazily to fit the meter (there aren’t any “billion kilowatt” dams… and who talks about a “tree plant?”) are just jarring.

    Anyway, I guess these are two of my least favorite pop songs from that era…

  26. The animals in Swinging On A Star were metaphors for certain personality types that were seen as negative and not to be emulated.

  27. @CaroZ good points .. I also always was bothered by the phrase “rubber tree plant”, but not quite in your way. You say you are troubled by “tree plant” but as I parse it that isn’t a phrase — the grouping is [[rubber tree] plant] not [rubber [tree plant]]. We know what a rubber tree is, and it is a kind of plant — it’s just odd that its planthood needed mentioning.

    It’s maybe not as bad as saying “orange tree plant” or “apple tree plant”, because those would be encountered only growing in the ground. A rubber tree might also be in the ground, but could be — and in animations for the song often is — a sort of potted plant in a heavy but luggable planter.

  28. “Honestly, I didn’t think “Drill Ye Tarriers” even existed outside of P.S. 21.”

    Even if I had heard it before, I would probably not have recognized it by title. It’s only because I heard it *the same day* that I knew what song you were talking about. But with these comments, it’s likelier to stay in my mind.

    And I don’t have it by the Weavers. I think it’s the Chad Mitchell Trio.

    (BTW, there are few, if any, Chad Mitchell Trio songs I haven’t liked.)

  29. “The animals in Swinging On A Star were metaphors for certain personality types that were seen as negative and not to be emulated.”

    I get that but I always felt these metaphors were insulting to the *animals*. It’s one thing to say a mule is stubborn but its over the top to say its just plain stupid and its brain is weak; and pig is … well, piggy but … ain’t got no manners and is extremely rude, well, speak for yourself. …. And what harm did a fish ever do to any one?

  30. I thought that might be Bob Hope.

    As for the animal stereotypes, mules and pigs have pretty negative metaphorical reputations anyway (fish not so much). Given that pigs don’t wear shoes, disgraceful or otherwise, metaphorical creatures may be meant from the beginning.

    Apparently, the song came about because the lyricist’s son was complaining about having to go to school the next day. Dad warned him that if he didn’t go to school, he’d grow up to be a mule, realized there was a song there and ran off to write it.

  31. larK – I love Hudson Hawk.

    So, I guess it is true what my Robert’s mother said when we were picking my gown for our wedding (neither me not my family could be trusted to meet her standards and I ended up with a gown designed by committee of his mom, sister and dad which looked like – yes – it was designed by committee. She said, in front of my bridesmaids – “Everyone knows Meryl has no taste.” My sister was ready to sock her and I calmed her down with – I did pick her son so what does she think of him.

  32. When I was little my dad had an extensive record collection (added to since and now we have to figure out what to do with it as we clear out the house).

    He had recording of “Swinging on a Star” by Sinatra. Now, remember I was little – less than 5 when I first heard the song. I thought it went. Would you like to swing on a star? Cary moonbeam’s (is) home in a jar.” Meaning that I thought some fellow named Cary Moonbeams was at his home in a jar.

    Never confused same with “High Hopes” knew the song and saw the movie.

    And the Joker is Wild is a movie that as an adult I am amazed that my parents took me to see as child – a bit violent for movies of the period.

    Drill you tarriers I remember from before I can remember (as is true for the above songs also).

    Dad’s records varied all over the place from Buddy Holly to Gilbert and Sullivan – much Sinatra (for my 30th birthday I asked for the family to go a Sinatra concert (with Gene Krupa on drums) – comedy, Jewish and otherwise – I thought Perry Como was singing about me with my blond braids when he sang about being in love “with the girl with the golden braids”. Dad liked music from good country performers to rock and roll to opera to the above mentioned big band – vocalists – Gilbert and Sullivan- musicals – and so on. His records started “the soundtrack of my life” and we all grew up appreciating it – even if we were all tone deaf. (Which makes it amazing that my nephew is an eclectic musician – but he gets his abilities from his dad’s side.)

    Luckily Robert grew up with the same music and we both enjoy and appreciate it – along with our later music, although surprisingly when we put our records together there were only 2 duplicates.

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