Price of a small coke

The anonymous submitter asks: “Although virtually all of the movie theaters have been shut down because of Covid-19, I would be interested to know what a “small coke” currently costs in an American theater (or, for that matter, in any fast food restaurant). I’m betting that Breathed’s presumably wildly inflated $6 (in 1986) won’t sound all that inflated now.”


  1. guero: I don’t think I’ve ever heard “assume” = “ass” + “you” + “me” used in a serious way. I’ve only heard it used in self-mocking way.

  2. @ Andréa – “ArcaMax does NOT run a colorized ‘MUTTS”, so I’ve gone back to GoComics for that…
    I was very puzzled at first (because GoComics doesn’t carry “Mutts”), but then I figured out that you meant “Comics Kingdom”. I don’t like the colorized version at all, but the tip about Arcamax is wonderful! I normally read “Mutts” at McDonnell’s website (“”), but his archive is impossible to navigate, so I think I will switch to Arcamax whenever I need to catch up after a week or two away.

  3. For the color critics: What do you think of the color treatment of Bliss? I receive the dailies via his newsletter, in black & white, then see it on the syndicate site in color. I sometimes think the joke or point comes thru more clearly in the b&w, and the color can be overdone. But then again, sometimes the rich colors can bring out the detail and handiwork of the drawing, that was already there in the b&w but not so easily observed. Also I sometimes think the characters, particularly the cats and dogs, have more personality in color.

  4. I never knew there was a B&W version, and I still prefer the colorized one, especially, as you say, it brings out more personality of the animals.

  5. @Mitch: don’t know or follow that one, but based on your posted examples, the B&W wins hands down — the fine detailed shading brings out the spookiness of the house magnificently. The color version is just flat and, well, cartoonish. Also, it seems very clear that the original intent was for B&W, that that was the finished goal the artist was aiming for; if you know the final will be in color, you draw it differently, so that the color will enhance and bring out the final art, instead of the art just wearing it like garish clown makeup. Does the artist do the coloring, do you know?

  6. (I have no idea why that went into moderation — does the new editorial crew subscribe to Bill’s ideas that the moderation system is outside human understanding?)

  7. I’m not sure if he has commented on the colorizing job, but I get the b&w via his own newsletter, which sort of says to me that is what he stands by. Also noted, his work for the New Yorker is all b&w (except the occasional cover).

  8. Btw the credit for Bliss/Martin the second part is the well known comedian Steve Martin. Apparently they hung out some at one point and came up with some jokes together, which Harry Bliss could turn into comics and give co-writing credit to Martin.

  9. I guess the question then is can the current team actually explain to someone why a post went in and how to avoid problems in the future?

  10. @ Brian in StL – Even though we have a new team of Editors, we still have the same old WordPress. The Editors can modify the “manual” list of moderation trigger words, but they have (or at least Bill had) no control over the internal WordPress algorithms, which are sometimes very sensitive to certain links, user IDs, times of day, or simply unpredictable and capricious. The best solution for any moderated comment is the classic (German) aphorism: “Abwarten und Tee trinken” (wait a while and have some tea). The Editors will fish that comment out of the moderation bucket fairly soon.

  11. @ Andréa – The reason that I (vastly) prefer reading daily “Mutts” strips in monochrome is more or less what larK said: “the original intent was for B&W“. All the “Mutts” books I have (#1-#10, except for #6) are in black and white (inclduing Sundays), and it’s clear that this is the way that the dailies were designed, drawn, and inked. (At some point I need to get the book of Sunday strips in color, especially for the commentary about McDonnell’s “art parody” title panels.) Even though it’s been a long time since McDonnell bothered to draw one of those “special” panels, I still think that he does his own coloration for the Sunday strips, but I am fairly certain that the daily coloration is handled by a syndicate flunky.
    P.S. I feel the same way about Calvin and Hobbes and Peanuts: colorizing the daily strips is superfluous and disrespective to the original artwork. Luckily, Watterson is still around (and owns the copyright) to preserve the sanctity of his work, but the syndicate has always held the rights to Peanuts, so they can do (and doo doo) whatever they want.

  12. Even though we have a new team of Editors, we still have the same old WordPress.

    All right, thanks.

  13. So far the moderation has generally seemed sensible to me. However, Bill referred to the moderation or spam filters going crazy sometimes, and just changing the rules suddenly, without him doing anything. It’s only been a month, so we may just not have gotten to one of those yet.

  14. I was just acknowledging the answer I received. It sounds like shouldn’t expect much change in that area, at least for the foreseeable future.

  15. I don’t think it is possible to deduce the behavior of the moderation filter without knowledge of the internal algorithm, especially when the available evidence is restricted to the effects on one’s own comments. Bill had the advantage of seeing all of the comments that landed in moderation, but he nevertheless avoided identifying the precise reason why any particular comment had been flagged. It’s possible that he really didn’t know the reason(s), or perhaps he didn’t think it was worth his time to debug wordpress’s oddball decisions, but I think it was also in line with his principle of not discussing moderation decisions in public. When a comment (or a thread) went too far out of line, it simply disappeared, without any discussion. He sometimes had to call us all to order, but that only happened on rare occasions.

  16. I would like to endorse many of Kilby’s policy suggestions and other conclusions — except not on the incorrect basis that he is starting from. There is no mysterious “internal algorithm” (apart from the Akismet plugin for spam which is a different matter). There are a few visible parameters, many of which you have seen screenshots of, and there may be a level of practical uncertainty how they interact, but that is not something utterly hidden from us by WordPress.

    If its unclear what kind of interactions are involved, there is one setting you probably are familiar with, under which a new commenter goes into Pending until they have already had a comment approved. ‘But what is the identity test? Screen name? Email address? IP address? If IP address is taken into account, you may be an established participant but get Pending’ed when you go on a new network. In point of fact I think we have IP matching turned off, but that should illustrate how the outcome could be puzzling but not because of mystery.

    Another one we explored in the Site Comments thread was number of links. It turns out the system was in effect counting double the number a poster intended. (That seems to be because there is the actual URL which will be the destination when a reader clicks on the links, and also the text which appears on the page for you to click on. The text often is something else [even “Click here”], but can be just the same as the URL, so readers see where they will be going. But then in the underlying HTML of the comment, it will appear twice.) So you may have included two links, and thought you knew the limit was two, and thought you were safe, but then it put you in Pending — and it is natural to want to ascribe it then to “Word Press’s mysterious internal algorithm” but there can be more to the story when we have a chance to look at it together and tease it out a bit. (By the way, this number has been increased to 5 or 6 so a post with 2 visible links will still pass muster even when those 2 get treated as 4.)

  17. “Long Kiss Goodnight” can’t be that obscure of a movie if even Jill from Pajama Diaries has it on her list!

  18. My description of the “mysterious” character of the WordPress moderation algorithm is not the result of an incorrect assumption, but simply a matter of a different point of view. As ordinary users, we cannot see what is going on inside, and Bill consistently described the moderation decisions as inscrutable. However, as we all know, Bill had a fairly rocky relationship with programming technology, so it’s entirely possible that the reasons why various comments get sent to moderation might be perfectly clear to our new Editors, even when Bill could not (or chose not to) explain them.

  19. I’ve always seen this as the quirky fixtures in one’s house which puzzle guests, but which one doesn’t pay much attention to.

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