August 09, 2012
(++++) IN DAYS TO COME
2013 Calendars: 365-Day—Get Fuzzy; Non Sequitur; Peanuts; Vocabulary Cartoon-a-Day; Wild Words from Wild Women. Andrews McMeel. $14.99 each (Get Fuzzy; Non Sequitur; Peanuts); $13.99 each (Vocabulary; Words).
You may think it rather early in the year to begin contemplating the next year, but not so: we may not know what 2013 will bring politically or economically, but the one thing that is absolutely, 100% certain is that it will bring 365 days. And we can plan for that. And that means planning to spice those days up a bit – whether individual ones bring good or ill – with page-a-day calendars designed to evoke chuckles, guffaws, laughs, smiles, or (come on!) at least an upward twitch of the mouth.
There are plenty of ways to make the coming year more amusing, at least from a calendrical standpoint. One way is to get a calendar based on a favorite comic strip. Andrews McMeel has plenty of these. You can follow the misadventures of Bucky Katt and Satchel Pooch in Darby Conley’s Get Fuzzy, for example. This will expose you to Bucky’s new movie, “Your Banana or Your Life,” in which Satchel wears a “monkey augmentation suit” but can’t figure out how to load the banana gun. And then there is Bucky’s remark to Rob Wilco, the none-too-bright human with whom Bucky and Satchel share living space: “As far as you’re concerned, an open-minded person is anyone who doesn’t kick you in the shins.” And Bucky deciding that “fiction” is a dangerous country – and worrying that it has invaded Tennessee. And complaining to Satchel, “Must you always decoolify my moments of triumph?” And…well, you get the idea.
Or maybe you prefer to get the ideas, plural. Then try Wiley Miller’s Non Sequitur, which these days does have some continuing stories – principally involving proto-Goth-girl Danae, whose father asks her to create an anti-social network and who writes a constitutional amendment that allows boys to live wherever they want on a planet far away from her. Still, Non Sequitur also has plenty of room for non-sequential humor: a man puts on diapers and brings along a baby bottle for regression therapy; a street beggar hopes to rise from “prophet of doom” to “blowhard on radio” and eventually to “Donald Trump”; a man and woman are almost at the altar as their lawyers argue whether “obey” is a deal-breaker; a family pays a visit to “Realityland,” which is “the ride with the shortest lines at Disneyworld.” And so it goes.
Prefer humor that is simpler, nearly timeless, and a whole lot sweeter? Charles Schulz died in 2000, but Peanuts shows no sign of going away anytime soon. Fans will cherish the strips reprinted in the 2013 calendar, such as one in which Charlie Brown comments that sleep “gives your cells time to recover from the labors of the day,” and Snoopy, overhearing, thinks, as he drifts off, “I have very hard-working cells.” And one in which the kids’ baseball team is looking forward to the start of a new season “with real horror.” And one in which Charlie Brown tearfully tries to write to his baseball hero, who has been sent down to the minor leagues. And one in which Sally is sure she will have a good game of jacks because the plays with a golf ball – “the ball that all the touring pros use.” All the usual characters are here – Lucy, Schroeder, Linus – and their adventures retain a freshness and, yes, naïveté that may make the inevitable pressures of the coming year that much easier to take.
Ah, but perhaps you would prefer cartoons that give you more than a daily dose of amusement. Then try Vocabulary Cartoon-a-Day by Martha Gradisher. This calendar really does teach genuine vocabulary words – using cartoons to make the words more memorable. “Hebetude,” for instance, means “the state of lethargy or exhaustion," and the cartoon shows one dog commenting of another, “The only thing that gets him out of his hebetude is the Food Network.” A “corollary” is a proposition that follows from something already proven, and the cartoon shows a panel of judges, with one saying, “My dog ate my corollary.” And there are plenty of cartoons here that do not involve dogs. For example, there’s one with a frog, for “diadem,” a crown – a princess, looking at a crowned frog sitting on a lily pad, comments, “According to my manual, I should kiss anything wearing a diadem.” And there are even some all-human cartoons, as for “muliebrity,” which means female nature or qualities: one woman sitting at a bar, scanning the available men, tells another, “My muliebrity is signaling slim pickings.” The cartoons put this calendar a step above others teaching daily vocabulary words – or a step sideways, at least.
Take several additional steps to the side and you will find Wild Words from Wild Women. This one is indeed all words, but you won’t miss the drawings – you’ll be too busy laughing at the comments, or sometimes thinking about them, since some are genuinely thought-provoking. Amy Ashton: “I find low self-esteem incomprehensible. Why hate yourself, when you can hate others?” Gertrude Stein: “If you can do it then why do it?” Carolyn Wells: “Advice is one of those things it is far more blessed to give than to receive.” Zsa Zsa Gabor: “The only place men want depth in a woman is in her décolletage.” Naomi Mitchison: “The lesser evil is also evil.” Tallulah Bankhead: “I’ll come and make love to you at five o’clock. If I’m late, start without me.” Helen Hathaway: “More tears have been shed over men’s lack of manners than their lack of morals.” These are comments that will amuse on some days, enlighten on others, perhaps even infuriate on a few. They will certainly help prevent 2013 from being a dull year – just in case you were worried that it might not have its share of excitement.