Wrong Elephants

Darren notes that only one subpanel is CIDU-level puzzling. “Friday’s Wrong Hands is pretty straightforward to me for all the elements except for xenon. I know of xenon used in lamps and as spaceship fuel, neither of which would seem to hide an elephant. Is there a pun or a pop culture reference that I’m missing?”

And while that was indeed the Friday Wrong Hands on GoComics, their own newsletter had a different cartoon on Friday, which as it happens is also pachydermic.


  1. Despite the apology to his UK readership, it seemed rather odd that he wrote “Elepants“, but but then switched back to British English for “pyjamas“. It took me an unreasonably long time to figure out the solution: John Atkinson is Canadian.

    P.S. Eh.

  2. In the periodic table one, I thought it clever that Gold got displaced to an outside row because Helium floated up and took up an extra space; so the rectangle of 12 is still maintained, notionally at least.

    But I don’t get Xenon still.

    In the pants one, I think I recognize most of the terms as relating actually to pants (or trousers or jeans or slacks) – but not “hammer”. At a guess, are “hammer pants” named for M.C. Hammer?

  3. Ok, time for an official definition of geezer. Looks like hammer pants are from the 80s. That can’t be geezerish already, can it?

  4. My only thoughts on xenon is that it is a colourless (colorless for you Americans) gas. Mitch, good guess on the hammer pants, aka harem pants, aka parachute pants. Weirdly, I’ve been seeing a few references to those lately. BillR, the definition of geezer has always been a bit fluid. But considering that if you graduated from high school in the 80’s, you are now over 50, it could be considered geezerish. (Also for the 70’s kids – and earlier- among us, you may not have realized that 1970 is as close to 1918 as it is to 2022. Feel free to take a moment to process that.)

  5. Yeah, see, I would say that Hammer pants is antigeezer — the actual geezers who were around back then remember that they were called parachute pants or harem pants or genie pants, and MC Hammer happened to wear them, among others. Those who came after would then tie them specifically to MC Hammer, so less geezer.

    Xenon being colorless makes sense, but is it the only colorless gas on the periodic table?

  6. Parachute pants aren’t the same as hammer pants. Hammer pants are loose at the top with a dropped crotch and tight in the lower legs. Parachute pants are more snug-fitting and made out of parachute fabric. Hot stuff for an 80’s college student!

  7. @ larK – In addition to hydrogen, all of the “noble gas” elements are colorless and odorless (a result of their relative unreactivity). The only other two gaseous elements (fluorine and chlorine) are highly reactive and have a color, but I wouldn’t want to sniff them to find out how they smell.

  8. Here is a WAG about xenon: Xenon is used in photographic flashes. If one goes off in your face, for a few moments, you see nothing but spots before your eyes.

  9. My guess is that since Xenon is colorless, it’s invisible and therefore so is the elephant. The only thing you can see is the 2 dots for its eyes.

  10. I was thinking “see none” but the eyes appear to be there, so it’s probably the colorless thing like Rob W said.

  11. And that reminds me of a joke I heard on the radio: What do get if you cross an elephant and a rhinoceros?
    – ‘elliphino…

  12. I think Tom nailed it: interpreting “Xenon” as “See None” is by far the best explanation.

    P.S. Just because it’s colorness isn’t an adequate reason, because there’s no reason to use “Xenon” in preference to the other equally colorless gases, except for the (very unlikely) possibility that Xenon is the heaviest gaseous element.

  13. Tom, I think it was Buster Keaton who had a boat called Damfino, because it was a damn fine boat. “And what’s it called?” “Damfino!” “How can you not know? It’s yours isn’t it?”

  14. A quick search indicates that Radon is the heaviest gaseous element. I have always thought Radon sounded like a scam (I know it’s not). “See, there’s this colorless, odorless gas that comes up through the ground and GIVES YOU CANCER!! Buy this gizmo or It Will Kill You!!!”

  15. @ Brian in StL – Thanks for the correction, I should have taken a closer look at the table.

    P.S. Three years ago the German government performed a statistical survey on radon levels in private homes. In addition to randomly selected samples, the company that conducted the survey also accepted “volunteers”, so I submitted an application, and received two radon sensors, each about the size (and shape) of a hockey puck (but hollow). We put one in the basement, and one in the living room, left them there for a year, and then returned them to the lab. Our house is in a “low-level” region, so we were not surprised to learn that our radon levels were “normal”. Things are different down south (in mountainous areas).

  16. Xenon, from greek ξένος = stranger or guest. But I actually suspect the artist got it confused with that other noble gas Krypton, from greek κρυπτός = hidden.

  17. @ Soup Dragon – I like the theory, but I think knowledge of the Greek etymology is a little too obscure, even though Atkinson often does play with obscure information. Besides, Krypton’s original meaning has been complete swamped by its use for comic (book) purposes (as shown in the third panel of this strip).

  18. chemgal – oddly what made me feel terribly old recently was realizing that our house is almost 75 years old. The house was built 3 years before I was born and somehow I manage to not realize how old I really am. Also I realized that we are longest owning owners of the house having it bought it when it was 40 years old and it had 3 owners before us – how the heck can we have owned it that long and how can we old enough to have owned it that long.

    One of these years we might get to the fix ups we thought it needed when we moved in. 🙂

Add a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.