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Lileks @ Lunch

James Lileks writes about everything - except sports and gardening

Janis vs. the Mole Man

My daughter cut out a strip from the comics page this morning, because she thought it was funny. Nice to know such a thing is possible, and that kids are not immune to the strange compulsion, the thankless duty, to read the page and see if there’s anything that lives up to the term “comic.” Last week we wondered why Arlo was yelling about lizards’ today the strip takes a much darker turn.

Janis is walking, and then stops to perspire. 

Dehydration sets in - and that’s when things get unnerving.

So . . . hah hah hah! Or not. It’s not so much the fact that she passed out on the lawn, and there’s a neighborhood looking at her with concern - it’s the dark cave from which the neighbor stares. Is that a window? No drapes? No panes? Or is it a monitor in his basement, where he sits all day and studies the world from a series of cameras installed on the periphery of his home? Does this mean he must now leave the room and help a fellow human being, even though he hasn’t been outside in years? Will he call 911, bringing the hated police to his yard, and they’ll notice the boxes and trash stacked up inside the house and call someone to check on his welfare, and that will begin the process of invasion he has dreaded for years? This might not end well.

NATURE “All these little sparkles are spiders deep in the grass.” Best argument yet for winter’s swift approach.

MOVIES A Vulture piece on the decline of the National Lampoon brand, here. Two things stuck out to me:

The jump to movies came in 1978 with the massively successful Animal House, and continued through the 1980s largely on the strength of the three Vacation movies: the original (1983), European Vacation (1985), and Christmas Vacation (1989). But by the time a fourth Vacation movie, 1997's Vegas Vacation, had begun development, the bloom was off the rose.

There was a fourth? Of course there was. It’s the one where Clark bumbles something and Cousin Eddie does inappropriate things. That one. It wasn’t a Lampoon movie, though. They’re turning out a lower class of tripe.

Next up is a movie directed by Donnes called Dead Serious, which he describes as “Animal House in a funeral home.” Backed by outside financing, it starts shooting this fall; Donnes says legendary comedian Jerry Lewis has signed on for a role after reading the script. Lewis is certainly a legendary comedy brand himself, but he’s been mostly retired for years, so it’s fair to wonder just how much he resonates with modern audiences.

Not a great deal, you imagine. But if there’s a chance for him to do this once more . . .

A new generation may discover his work.

How Cecil hurt Yelp.

Headline: Yelp is in a 'death spiral,' industry expert says. Why? Cnet:

It started when Yelp became tangled in a bizarre case involving a Minnesota dentist who has come under fire for allegedly traveling to Zimbabwe and killing a beloved lion named Cecil. People who were incensed with the dentist spammed the Yelp page of his practice, River Bluff Dental, with scathing reviews. Yelp had to step in to delete some of them.

While this isn’t the cause of the Spiral of Death, apparently it’s symptomatic of the problems they face. Internet torch mobs will go anywhere to burn down a virtual house, and nasty Yelp reviews have become something of an art form, just like fake Amazon product evaluations. I don’t find them particularly interesting, aside from showing how miserable people can be, but then again I like reading bad motel reviews. To each his own.

DROP EVERYTHING It’s a sad comment on today’s society when stories like this are confined to the small backwaters of the internet. Attention must be paid! DangerousMinds:

No one is taking 69-year-old Robert Palmer—who claims to have found a caterpillar with a human-like face—seriously. According to reports, Toutle, Washington-based Palmer discovered the supposed human-faced caterpillar a few weeks ago on the side of a trough while giving his horse water. “My first thought was to crush it with my cane, then I thought, no, it looks so strange, I’m going to take a picture of it, ” said Palmer.

Go here for the picture. Looks like Poe’s older brother.

Because I couldn’t stop clicking on Dangerous Minds links, here’s another necessary story: that Human League song reduced to its essence.

UPDATE The reason Arlo and Janis turned into “Love Is” cartoon characters was the strip’s way of celebrating its 30th birthday. All is clear. Meanwhile, there’s still a lot of skink-related action going on.