May 24, 2007

(++++) HUMORS

Loserpalooza: A “Get Fuzzy” Treasury. By Darby Conley. Andrews McMeel. $16.95.

The Government Manual for New Pirates. By Matthew David Brozik and Jacob Sager Weinstein. Andrews McMeel. $10.95.

      Ya takes yer humor where ya finds it, ya know? Neither of these books will appeal to everyone looking for a laugh, but both will bring plenty of chuckles to people who are in tune with their very different skewed views of the world.

      Darby Conley was fully hitting his stride by the time of the Get Fuzzy collections entitled Say Cheesy and Scrum Bums, and now those collections have themselves been collected in oversize “Treasury” format (with color Sunday strips) – allowing Conley to regale his fans with a heaping helping of offbeat and off-kilter humor. Rob Wilco, in whose household Bucky Katt and Satchel Pooch live (and usually dominate), is a pretty unattractive specimen of homo sapiens, and the front cover of this collection shows him just about at his worst: As the drummer in a Get Fuzzy rock band, he is hairy and pop-eyed and pot-bellied and generally not the sort of guy you’d want to spend time with outside the funny pages. Bucky and Satchel look a lot better on the book’s cover, and frequently within it as well. Here, for those who missed it the first time around, are the strips in which Satchel finally snaps because of Bucky’s unending insults and yells the cat into temporary submission. Characteristically, what puts Satchel over this uncharacteristic edge is Bucky’s constant nastiness toward Satchel’s friends – this is one mighty self-effacing pooch. The three central characters are more in character elsewhere here: Satchel names objects in the apartment, is traumatized at the possibility of moving, and takes up a collection for Martha Stewart when she gets into legal trouble; Bucky tries to get the better of the ferret next door (always without success), hatches numerous schemes that go nowhere, and gets the worse side of a wrestling match with a chicken; and Rob is totally ineffective at everything, except apparently at advertising, the field in which he works to be able to support the cat and dog in the style to which they prefer to be accustomed. If you’re a Get Fuzzy fan, you’ll love the book – if you don’t get it…well, just get something else.

      Get, for example, The Government Manual for New Pirates, the third Government Manual parody by Matthew David Brozik and Jacob Sager Weinstein. It’s a little too far on the juvenile side, and it’s not quite sure whether it’s trying to satirize government instruction books or actually write one for would-be pirates, but it’s clever enough for a (+++) rating. Most of what you get here is pirate-like jargon: “Land, and How to Avoid Lubbing It,” and “Here There Be Loopholes.” And even, in deference to Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance, “A Parleydox! A Parleydox! A Most Ingenious Parleydox!” There are also instructions on how to be a pirate – or, if you are one already, how to be a better one: “Every tar worth his salt – and vice versa – knows that X is far and away the most useful of all the letters; it is, after all, X and no other letter that marks the spot.” There is information on being a pirate in the Caribbean, being an Ice Pirate in the Arctic, and naming your ship appropriately (“Blood Vessel” and “A Painful Berth” are okay, but not “Idle Warship” or “The Love Boat”). And there is a great deal about rum. The book is strung together with a “political campaign” for pirate king, which is pretty weak string; but its main purpose, it seems, is to be intermittently funny while perhaps cashing in on some of the popularity of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, to which it bears no direct (or much indirect) relation. Give it a yo-ho-ho or two anyway if you enjoy comments like this explanation of why pirates and parrots go together: “Parrot sounds a lot like pirate, especially to a pirate (or a parrot) who has been up late drinking.”

No comments:

Post a Comment