Crankshaft takes place about twenty years in the past, according to Wikipedia. When it suits the comic’s purposes it lurches into the modern world so we can chuckle along with the nasty old misanthropist’s attempt to comprehend technology. (Note: by “chuckle” we mean stare stone-faced at the drawing before moving on to Pearls Before Swine.) LAst week’s strips seem to be playing with the timeline, as the local movie house is forced to close because studios are switching entirely to digital projection.

The comic:

For one thing, you wonder why everyone’s sitting in the back row. For another, you roll the word “comic” around in your head and consider the vestigal associations with “mirth” and “humor,” and wonder if you’re missing something. No, there doesn’t seem to be any molecules of amusement detectable by modern methods. Perhaps it’s setting up a punchline for tomorrow! So let’s look at Friday:

Ah. Well. Laughter is involved, it seems, but only the empty, bitter bark of someone cursed to live while all around him perishes, and he must make his way alone in an unrecognizable,  indifferent world. 

Then there’s the matter of today’s “Zits,” which appears to have redesigned the main character while keeping everything else in the strip intact, but we’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see if this was a one-off or a sign that the strip is about to tackle the subject of eating disorders.

LITERATURE Good news: undiscovered work of Raymond Chandler. Disappointing news: it’s a libretto.

The 48-page libretto to the comic opera The Princess and the Pedlar, with music by Julian Pascal, has hidden in plain sight at the library since its copyright was first registered on 29 August 1917.

The work, a copy of which was obtained by the Guardian, was found in March by Kim Cooper, shortly after she published her debut novel, The Kept Girl, featuring a fictionalised Chandler in 1929 Los Angeles.

While looking for more information about Pascal, Cooper discovered a missing link between Chandler’s English boyhood and his detective fiction: a witty, Gilbert-and-Sullivan-inflected libretto for a fantasy-tinged romance between Porphyria, daughter to the King and Queen of the Arcadians, and Beautiful Jim, a “strolling Pedlar.”

Keep looking through the archives; maybe we'll find out why the car went off the dock into the water. 

PODCAST An interview with the parents of the subject of Serial, here in the Guardian. Does the mother listen to the podcast?

“After everybody goes to sleep,” she says. “Eleven, twelve o’clock, I lay down here on this sofa and I listen.” She says she sometimes plays just one part over and over. “It’s the bit at the beginning where the prison operator says, ‘This is a Global-Tel link prepaid call from …’ and Adnan says, ‘Adnan Syed.’”

“So sweet,” Shamim says. “I listen to that again and again and again.”

With the tinkly tip-toe caper music included, alas. The last episode of Serial didn’t say this, but anyone listening may have suspected the jury convinced Syed because they couldn’t stand his lawyer’s voice.

8-BIT ART Charming little gifs of life in modern Japan. More here.