Minor Mysteries and Oopses

These are non-CIDUs or semi–CIDUs, where the joke or main point isn’t seriously in doubt, but some specifics of the writing or artwork seem somewhat off, or incomplete, or in need of explanation or correction. (Yet we don’t want to get into the territory of mockery or purely complaining.)

This first one is from Chak who calls it an Oops, and comments “The oopsies I’m thinking of are about well-drawn comics that slipped up”. In this Fastrack, the custom paperclip seems to change position without physical cause.:

Here was a Between Friends that seems to be illustrating a familiar saying with a situation that shows something different. In the picture, isn’t it more someone who has gone down and may not come back up?

The Far Side

We have been getting plenty of submissions or suggestions for The Far Side cartoons by Gary Larson, both classic and recent, some scanned from books and some copied off the 2019-established web site. Some suggestions were meant as classic solo-CIDU posts, but others might fit into one of these quasi-CIDU categories.

But there’s a big problem, that Larson has made a public point of his wish to not have his cartoons reprinted without permission and not under his control. There are people who doubt that this would have legal force if he tried to enforce it; but it doesn’t seem entirely right to defy the wishes of someone whose work we appreciate and want to enjoy.

So generally we have been responding to submissions and suggestions with a reminder of those constraints.

But thinking about Internet standards, short of copying and reposting something, and short also of the middle ground of embedding something by link, there is the fundamental WWW action of linking. That is well established as not infringing anything.

It’s also pretty inconvenient! Hard to have informed discussion threads when the item being commented on is not visible in the same window or tab! Still, it’s not beyond our abilities, CIDUers.

Sent in by Findus as an artwork/layout question rather than overall CIDU, this linked Far Side cartoon raises for them the question “what’s with the lovingly executed reflection in the mirror that is not a ‚mirror image‘? Is this intentional?”

And from Brian R we have this linked Far Side cartoon, which he suggested as a CIDU – but then understood fine the next day!

There actually is a certain amount of good sense to the now-classic bit about tech support asking “Have you tried turning it off and then on again?” as made famous by “The IT Crowd”. Now here in Lard’s World Peace Tips, it is cited in the wrong order. Is that the joke? Or was it accidental? Or intentional but supposed to be meaningful here, where the kite in the picture seems to be “off” since it is not flying, so is poised to be turned on, i.e., launched? My gosh that was long-winded!

Down the Garden Path Dept. Can you convince me this Loose Parts does not at all involve people getting squeaky voices from inhaling Helium?


  1. FastTrack – I see nothing wrong here. Ms Trellis takes the folder in her right hand, holding it at the bottom. The paperclip is on the side.
    Then she turns her hand one quarter turn. The bottom is now the side, and the side is now the top.

  2. Loose Part: It’s a word BALLOON. And balloons need helium or they sink to the ground.
    A lame gag, but a simple gag.

  3. @Pete, but then the short edge should move along with the clip attached to it, but it doesn’t.

    The first linked Far Side. I don’t believe shows a mirror. It’s just a duplicate of the same print with a sheet of glass over it in the frame. Now, why would they hang two of the same print (in the same frame)? Dunno.

    The helium shortage is about lift, not voices. The word “balloons” are apparently only held up by helium inflation, and Loose Parts couldn’t get any helium for this panel.

  4. @Carl Fink – RE: the duplicate pic, my husband & I stayed in a (really lousy) hotel that did just that. Two identical pictures of some kittens, in identical frames, were the only decor in the entire room.

    RE: Helium shortage, I agree with your interpretation. That was was pretty funny IMHO. But it also made me think that everyone must have deep voices now that they’ve all “dropped to the ground” so to speak. (Er, no pun intended there…)

  5. Re the coyote Far Side: The cartoon’s copyright date is 1987. I can’t remember the level of computer image technology back then, but the image in the glass appears to be identical but smaller (identical details like the position of the tufts of grass). I don’t know why someone would make a duplicate of a picture and then also duplicate the frame and hanging wire, then shrink it down to 1/3-ish size and frame it flush-right. It’s obvious they wanted to show a reflection of the image on the right wall in the glass on the left, and either neglected/forgot to reverse the image, or did not have the technology to do so and said, meh, no one will notice…

  6. If the Far Side wall hanging is supposed to be just a duplicate print, why is it inset inside its frame, with a duplicate frame visible?

    I have to assume it’s just laziness on Gary’s part. Or whomever is remastering these old cartoons for him.

  7. Re: double picture, I assumed the one on the left is a framed picture taken in the room. The actual subject is outside our view. Perhaps wolf-prom.

  8. BTW, not that the joke in the FasTrack is in question, but we might as well note that the “custom clip” is designed to look like it’s her hand, and is detachable.

  9. The second Far Side is a bit opaque to me. I’m guessing that it’s referring to the kid having to pee, but why is there a banana in the glass?

  10. Pandering to The Owl House fanbase, I see. Eda has done detachable body part humor more than once.

  11. Phil – I realized that the banana in the glass is actually a crescent moon engraved on it, and the solution hit me like a brick outhouse.

  12. BrianR/Lost in A**2: Ahhhhh…Bach. “brick outhouse” indeed! Yeah, ok. Not one of his best.

  13. Thanks for explaining the helium word balloon. It would have been easier if the words hadn’t contradicted the drawing — something like “Conversation is getting difficult with this helium shortage” or “I hear there’s a helium shortage!”

  14. Re: Lawson’s Letter from Lonso
    That IS the way that 2 mirrors work. (In the bathroom, it let’s us see the back of our head. Here, the reader is invisible, so they can stand in the reflection path.).
    I’m glad this question was here because I had not noticed that Larson had redrawn the picture (and that gave me a little smile inside :~) Of course he had to; it was just kind of special that he added the whole mirror thing to what was already an entertaining panel).

  15. I just don’t see what y’all do in the first Far Side. To me it looks like 2 separate pictures, the right shows outside the barn door, the left shows inside the barn with the moon shining in through the open door. Presumably the pictures are of successful raids of farm animals.

    Agree with the question about Between Friends. That one bothered me when I first read it.

    Thanks for the explanation of Loose Parts. Totally above my head.

  16. OK scratch that comment. I zoomed in closer (old eyes) and now I see it’s a reflection. Interesting.

  17. Kevin: what makes you think it is two mirrors? To me it seems as if it is a picture and a mirror, the picture being (wrongly) reflected in the mirror. But OK, let’s assume that they are both mirrors, the one on the right reflecting some scene happening behind the fourth wall — that scene would be reflected backwards, which is to say, the barn that in mirror is on the right, if you turned around to see the actual barn, it would be on the left. So, then you have the mirror reflecting the mirror: it would reverse the reversed mirror image, making it right-side up, if you will — like the double bathroom mirror you allude to. Since the right-way-round has the barn on the left, then in the reflection of the reflection, the barn should also be on the left… it’s not.

    If you say they are two mirrors, both reflecting the original scene behind the fourth wall, then I would ask why does the wider mirror on the left show a frame (like maybe it’s reflecting a view out a window behind us? Funny how that window looks almost exactly like the mirror on the right…), whereas the mirror on the right doesn’t show any indication of a frame?

    It’s a mistake, pure and simple.

  18. I see it as a picture at the right reflected in a mirror at the left, rendered with a digital image mistakenly omitting the left-to-right reversing that should be present with a reflection. My feeling is the original printed comic might differ here in terms of art work. Might be worth hunting down the original version of this comic to compare. My collection “Hound Of the Far Side” does not appear to have it.

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