You thought we couldn’t do another collection of Oopsies, Quickies, We-can-improve-its, Semi-CIDUs, Mysteries, and flops? (12th Series)

Thanks to Dana K for this Today’s Szep. The main joke is easy enough: the mere unlikely existence of this rack and these categories of card message. But what is all that ancillary action supposed to be about? Do these two know each other? Or is the woman just a judgemental bystander? Is she saying something, or just standing there with her jaw dropping?

On the first hand, this seems to me an excellent job of working out a technical experiment in the art of cartooning. Color-coding the speech bubbles could represent an improvement on trying to aim the pointers with precision, or stretching them around, or finding a basis for making the comic multi-panel so the dialogue can be rearranged.

But OTOH, the content of the dialogue is miles away from being at all funny. And is not even folk-wise, in that pseudo-deep way Frazz is so fond of trying.

Here’s a FoxTrot sent in by Kilby for the Oopses list. He says there is a real-world chronology error in showing Alpha-bits cereal in a current cartoon scene. “Alphabits was taken off the market in 2006, and made only brief periodic re-appearances, before disappearing again a year ago (May 2021). [Wikipedia link] The reason I checked is that I was not able to find them the last time I visited Washington. It’s possibe that Bill Amend is writing his strips a whole year in advance, but I seriously doubt it.”

Kilby also presents a judgement dilemma. “When a cartoonist recycles an ancient joke (albeit with ‘improvements’), is it better (A) To admit the crime, or (B) Just pretend that nobody will notice how ancient the gag really is?”



A classic case of “Oops!” from Le Vieux Lapin. Oops, I forgot to draw a cloud that looks like a comma.


  1. I agree that the string of bubbles in that “Frazz” is an excellent innovation. I especially like the fact that the bubble colors match their shirt colors. The font used for Frazz seems somewhat irritating in comparison to the much more readable font used for the teacher (whose name I cannot remember), but I fully understand that it was important to use two different fonts, since the pastel colors will not be distinguishable if the strip is reproduced in monochrome form.

    P.S. I also agree about the odious content of the dialog: this is precisely why I quit following “Frazz”.

  2. Do you buy guilt cards when you feel guilty, or do you buy them to make someone else feel guilty?

    In other words, is the purchaser the one who (e.g.) had an affair, or the one victimized?

  3. The guilt cards remind me of one of my favorite golf jokes. (I don’t really play golf but I love the jokes.)
    A golfer comes home after a golf weekend that was maybe a bit TOO long. He can tell his wife is mad at him so he decides to butter her up.
    “Hey honey, your birthday’s coming up, what would you like this year?”
    “A divorce.”
    “……. gee, honey, I really wasn’t planning on spending that much…”

  4. I don’t see the cloud joke as an oops. First, he is pointing at a cloud we can’t see. Second, the point of looking for shapes in clouds is to use your imagination and then you can see what you will. Having a cloud clearly shaped like a comma completely ruins the point of looking for shapes in clouds.

    No matter how old a joke is, someone will not have heard it. We all tell really old jokes (not to pick on anyone telling a joke in this thread), and sometimes they can still be amusing.

    Alpha-bits may be out of production, but many will know what they are and won’t know they are out of production. Or care. The joke still works.

  5. For the cards joke, I don’t think they know each other. The guy is looking around furtively and the woman is just shocked to catch someone selecting a card in that section.

  6. Folly, I agree with your reading of the picture in the cards display comic, that they don’t know each other. I’m unsure whether the guy’s side look is just being furtive in general, or that he has noticed the woman and is sending a “watcha looking at?” in her direction.

  7. I happen to like Frazz, and that one resonated with me . . . being a person with SAD, and now that I’m in FL, lots of sniffling and coughing, as there is always something blooming all year round. Dr. told me [today] that it’s completely normal, for certain degrees of normal. The SAD doesn’t kick in so much down here, so there’s compensations for everything. And that, to me, is the essence of this Frazz.

  8. I agree with TedD about the clouds. The “comma” is probably out of the frame, but even if it isn’t, it’s only the subjective impression of an “editor” that caused it to be identified that way in the first place. None of the other clouds look like words or punctuation, either.

    P.S. Schulz drew a fair number of strips about interpreting clouds, but only rarely bothered to include the clouds in his compositions:

    P.P.S. The same is true for Watterson:

  9. “During an Affair” appears to be the odd topic out, in a somewhat arrogant way – at least pretend the affair is over. Belated birthday cards are fairly common, and the rest appear to be various kinds of apology after the fact (well, maybe not the golf trip). The man appears to be looking elsewhere (perhaps that someone he knows is not watching), and the woman just appears mildly shocked.

    Cereal can last a year after purchase, so a cereal discontinued in May 2021 seems a bit picky. Bill Amend could have a stale box but more likely just went for the possibly stale joke without looking for a current box. (Another chronology error or excuse; the children have not aged since the 1980s, so maybe no reason to expect this is set in the present. Most long-running comics exist in some nebulous time period that occasionally acknowledges current events and retires dated elements; cf. )

  10. Yes, I admit that I was very disappointed that I wasn’t able to inflict Alpha-Bits on my own kids, but my “lead time” explanation was just being charitable: I think it’s a simple case of a geezer reference. The May-2021 date isn’t a real indication: the stuff hasn’t been dependably available since 2006. None of the “re-introductions” were particularly successful, otherwise they would still be selling it.

  11. There was a letter-based food joke event in the UK BBC sitcom Not Going Out during a recent (April) episode called “Jury” (a spoof of 12 Angry Men)…

    Fellow Juror: “This is absurd. Of course he’s guilty. He confessed to being at the scene of the crime.”
    Lee: “Yes. But is that enough to condemn a man to the gallows?”
    Fellow Juror: “The gallows? For 200 tins of alphabetti spaghetti??”
    Lee: “It could still get him a very long sentence.”

    Boom boom.

  12. PETER GRIFFIN: “Hey, Brian, there’s a message in my Alpha-Bits! It says ‘Oooooooooo.'”
    BRIAN: “Peter, those are Cheerios.”

  13. If, before this strip ran, you’d asked me if they still made Alpha-Bits, I would had said, “Probably.” From comments on GoComics I know that such is not the case anymore.

    I don’t buy kid cereals these days, just bran flakes and Honey Bunches of Oats. For the former I buy the store brand, for the latter only the real thing will do. Fortunately it often goes on sale so I can stock up.

  14. Like Brian in STL and Bill Amend, I didn’t realize they no longer make Alpha-Bits cereal, and it wouldn’t have occurred to me that they had been discontinued. Guess he should have used Alphagetti, which is apparently still being made. (I have never bought it, nor understand why anyone would.) The real issue, however, is that Mrs. Fox would never buy either, based on other comics where we see her food choices, and I don’t think Mr. Fox does the grocery shopping.

  15. I think, with one exception, it may have been twenty or thirty years since I’ve had any cereal. (I’m strictly an eggs and sausage and stuff like that breakfast guy. I don’t hate the taste of various cereals, as best I can remember, just didn’t care about them — I’d rather eat plain toast, for instance.)

    The one exception? I had been listening to early JACK BENNY old time radio shows from back when he was sponsored by Grape-Nut Flakes and got curious what they tasted like. I bought a box, tried one bowl, couldn’t finish it, and composted the rest of the contents.

  16. I really liked Alpha-Bits, and also Kellogg’s OK’s. And Post Oat Flakes. There’s nothing like any of them anymore. Alpha-Bits and OK’s tasted better than Cheerios.

  17. I eat cereal every day, but not for breakfast. It’s an early evening snack.

  18. I have been unable to find a “Unicode-Bits cereal” comic; maybe I’m just bad at internet searches. But a back of the envelope calculation suggests you’d need more than 20 boxes on average to get either a poop or vomiting face emoji.

  19. Based on the answer I often get when I ask my kids what they would like for breakfast, I think Kellogg’s should start producing a cereal called “I Don’t Knows“.

    P.S. I remember a comic that made a reference to a “50lb bag of Purina Bachelor Chow“, but the joke has been recycled so often (including by Futurama) that it is impossible to find the original reference, if there ever was one.

  20. I think it was Meow Mix cat food that had an ad campaign based on the idea that cats would ask for it by name.

  21. There are two answers to “What’s a pirate’s favorite letter?” One of course is “ARRRRR”, and the other one is X as in “X marks the spot” on a treasure map. So a pirate’s favorite movies could be pirated, ARRR-rated or X-rated.

  22. “…it is impossible to find the original reference, if there ever was one.”

    An infinite jest?

  23. @ Stan – I remember references to the term while in college (in the early 80’s), long before the Internet became established, so the source must have been in print (not digital) form. My brother even has a recipe (dating almost that far back) for a noodles+ground beef dish that he still calls “bachelor chow” even today. All of the examples that I could find online (including many from Futurama) are later re-treads of the same gag, so identifying the “original” author is probably impossible.

  24. Thanks for the clarification, but I think I knew what you meant. I was just amused by the notion that since the gag could have no discernable origin, it therefore must have existed for all time. Hamlet had a good expression for such a thing. Well, I thought so anyway.

  25. I have a dish I make occasionally that I internally call “casserole” even though it’s a one-pot meal. It has ground meat, mushrooms, rice, and frozen mixed vegetables. It takes some effort to make, but I do a double batch and save one in one of those round takeout food containers. So that second one is pretty much bachelor chow, a complete mealy just needing to be microwaved.

  26. The Post name is so useful! My junior high gang were amused to learn they were introducing Post Nasal Drip.

  27. Yes, there’s Emily Post and her sisters Scratching, Listening, Parcel, Trading, …

  28. We- especially me – have never been morning people. So, since there was no reason to wake up early when the pandemic started we started going to bed later and later and waking up later and later. In addition Robert has never been a breakfast person. So we drifted to the point where we wake up LATE – he is usually awake and watching old TV runs (of shows he refused to watch during their original runs and 1950/60s type shows) around noon and I sleep in – figure we are up and dressed by 2 pm. We have lunch. We have dinner at our normal 8 pm time. We have our third meal of the day – “snack” – at around 2 or 3 am. This consists of cereal – instant grits for him, Cheerios or instant oatmeal for me, followed by a sweet food (snack cakes, ice cream, cake baked from a mix, cornbread ditto, or pudding).

    When we go to bed I change from my daytime jeans, tee shirt, socks to my sleeping jeans, tee shirt and socks.

    I have gone back to my life as a child. I used to have Cheerios (always eaten dry) for breakfast daily and peanut butter sandwich (no jelly or anything else added) for lunch – though now I have a whole sandwich not the half sandwich I had through high school. He is always concerned that we will run out of something – especially something I eat. He had me buy a bag of Cheerios last week so I don’t run out – I insisted I had plenty I now have 2.5 boxes of “Family size” plus what is in the cereal holder container which is the cereal being used.

  29. Since the middle of 2020 when we started again – we have been taking out Chinese food on Saturday nights for dinner. (That and the small, big screen TV he bought for his birthday this year give us our Saturday night date dinner “out” and movie.) We get 2 dishes to share – generally one of them is a noodle dish so we get one package of rice which we don’t eat as we have the noodles.

    I have 3 columns of old rice going to March in the refrigerator so if we were going to make Brian’s “casserole” I would boil water, remove from heat, add leftover rice and pour out the water and let the damp rice sit with a pot lid on the pot to absorb the water.

    (We are currently getting rid of the older leftover rice, but since the containers are relatively heavy I am only tossing one or two at time – a week.)

    Brian – feel free to use this idea for rice for your casserole. 🙂

  30. I make stir-fry at least once a week, and have other things I eat with rice like sticky garlic pork chops, so I consume rice at a fair clip. I cook a cup of raw brown rice at a time and get four servings. Rice reheats well in the microwave or can be used for fried rice.

  31. Brian – It reheats well by boiling water, dropping rice in, draining almost all the rice off, covering it and letting it sit (off the heat).

    We get 1 to 2 rice containers each mail and take in just about weekly during the pandemic and generally we have a noodle dish so we don’t use the rice at all with the take out meal. I

    I use up the leftover noodles with a chicken patty for my Monday night dinner. So the weekly rice containers stacked up – I have containers back to March sitting in the refrigerator (no, we are not eating the old rice, but it is heavy and I can only put one or 2 containers in the garbage bag when we put it or it is too heavy for the bag – we have this much as originally we had been keeping all of the rice to allay Robert’s fear of running of out of food during the earlier part of the pandemic.

    We are both Diabetic so we have to limit how much rice we eat, which is why we end up so much stacked in the fridge.

  32. Just make sure you cool it quickly before refrigerating. As for reheating – cold cooked rice is just what you need for fried-rice dishes.

    (oops – maybe moderate the first comment out of existence?)

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