2008 Calendars: Engagement – Dilbert; Day-to-Day – Dilbert: He Only Talks When He Listens; Cartoons from “The New Yorker”; Zits; Non Sequitur; Eats, Shoots & Leaves; Wall – Grey’s Anatomy. Andrews McMeel. $12.99 (engagement); $11.99 each (day-to-day); $12.99 (wall).
The year 2007 may not be much more than half over, but why not start looking ahead to 2008 anyway? The folks at Andrews McMeel have, with the result that you can already anticipate many ways to tickle your funnybone, take out your work-related frustrations, enjoy celebrity-laden medical soap opera, or even learn a little something next year.
Engagement calendars – desktop, lie-flat books with spaces in which to write appointments and notes – have diminished in popularity as electronic organizers have become more widely used. But there’s still something to be said for a colorful, spiral-bound book that helps keep the office in perspective through full-color Dilbert cartoons on every left-hand page – and small spaces for daily notes on the right. The spaces really are small, encouraging you to keep appointments and meetings to a minimum or develop really tiny handwriting. Either way, this helps keep work in its place.
Of course, there are other ways to make Scott Adams’ strip a part of your daily life. The day-to-day calendar, with tear-off pages, lets you revel (if that’s the right word) in a different Dilbert strip every day, realizing from the Kafkaesque situations in which the characters perpetually find themselves that your own workplace is a joy by comparison. Hopefully.
Work is only one subject in Cartoons from “The New Yorker,” which also includes typical New Yorker takes on psychiatry, home life and, especially, relationships. This is a calendar in which an elephant lies on a shrink’s couch, lamenting that no one acknowledges him even when he’s right in the room; where a couple walks side by side as one remarks, “If you’re bored with yourself, imagine how I feel”; where money and sex get the same wry treatment as dating and politics…to which, come to think of it, they are closely related.
Prefer something a little more family-oriented? Try the day-to-day calendar based on the wonderful Zits strip by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman. If you have a teenager or ever were a teenager, you’ll enjoy a daily dose of the life of the Duncans, featuring 15-year-old Jeremy, who eats everything in sight and many things not in sight yet; takes notes on his body instead of on paper, so he can’t wash up for dinner; declines to discuss chores, but asks his long-suffering parents if they would like to leave him voice mail; and generally embarrasses everyone but himself. And sometimes himself, too.
To get a dose of something entirely new every day, a great choice is the Non Sequitur calendar, since the strip’s title means “it does not follow.” Day follows day, true, but why should there be a connected narrative throughout the year? Wiley Miller does have some recurring characters, such as the little girl, Danae, who starts her own religion. But most of the Non Sequitur panels will simply give you an offbeat angle on life: a bar calling itself “reality rehab center,” an obsessive-compulsive chicken that can’t stop crossing the road, a superhero named Litigator Man, and lots more.
Or maybe you’d prefer a verbal pick-me-up instead of an illustration. Eats, Shoots & Leaves is informative, fascinating and a great deal of fun in showing just how important punctuation can be. The title – which is also the title of the Lynne Truss book on which the calendar is based – contains a misplaced comma in a description of a panda’s diet. If you want your pandas harmless rather than equipped with weaponry and ready to use it, and you want to find out not only how to use commas, apostrophes and more but also why, this “zero tolerance approach to punctuation” has the answers.
Too serious, even if delivered in a lighthearted way? Well, how about something totally mindless, such as a wall calendar featuring a dozen stars of one of the most popular of the steamy prime-time soap operas, Grey’s Anatomy? For a whole month, you can look at one large photo and multiple small ones of every major character, from Dr. Meredith Grey herself to Drs. Derek Shepherd, George O’Malley and Alex Karev on the male side, and Drs. Calliope Torres, Miranda Bailey and Isobel Stevens among the females. Fans will revel in the full-color images and brief text relating to each character – and there’s plenty of room to jot down real-world notes on every day of every month.