It’s Enough To Make a Person Sick

Look at this list of the topselling box calendars on Amazon.

Other than The Office and Dilbert, it’s filled with sickeningly sweet bunnies and kitties and puppies.  That’s just too much cuteness.

Let’s send those people a message and buy a calendar filled with cynical animals and death.

Like, for example, these guys:

Please.  Help strike a blow for snarkiness.

And defeat those cuddly bunnies.

Is That a Banana in Your Pocket, or a BUH-nan-uh?

“Banana” is pronounced “buh-NAN-uh.”

It’s a strict rule.

I know that because I tried to break it at the cafe near my house this morning.

I asked for a “BUH-nan-uh.”

“A what?” asked the cafe employee.

“A BUH-nan-uh,” I repeated.

“A buh-NAN-uh?” she asked, a little impatient.

“A BUH-nan-uh,” I repeated.

“One of these?” she asked, pointing to a banana and looking at me as though I were a toddler.

I nodded.

She shook her head.

“You know, in my six years here, I’ve never heard anybody pronounce it, ‘BUH-nan-uh,'” she said.

“Oh, well that’s just how we pronounce it where I’m from,” I answered.

“Oh, I see,” she said, calming down a little.  “Where are you from?”

“Down the block,” I replied.

Please Don’t Squeeze the Aphrodite

I saw an amazingly beautiful woman in the grocery store.

She was tall and thin with long blonde hair and high cheek bones.  She looked like someone Hollywood would cast as Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love.  She even had a certain aura about her, like she knew she was Aphrodite.

That’s when I looked in her grocery cart.

And saw the package of toilet paper.

And something inside me died.

Yes, I know.  Everyone does it.

But I wanted to think she was above it.

And that wasn’t even the worst part.

The worst part was this:

It was a 24-pack.

And no, she had no ring.  So she had no husband.  And probably no kids.

It was all for her.

My Aphrodite.

The one with bowels.

On the Tearing Down of the Berlin Wall, and the Putting On of Ziggy’s Pants

They are so close we can almost touch them.

I speak, of course, of Ziggy’s pants.

Presenting (cue trumpets)…

…….today’s Ziggy:

Like the shining Ark of the Covenant, there they are.

Not buried in some Egyptian tomb, but lost by a dry cleaner.

Will the dimunitive man put them on tomorrow?  Or won’t he?

It the most anticipated moment in popular culture since the O.J. Simpson verdict.

All brought about by one small rodent who led a revolution.

I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that this is the proudest moment in the history of “Pearls Before Swine.”

A moment where my work — lo, my art — changed the world.

While some make it their life’s work to free a people, save a species, or protect a planet, I made it mine to force a bald midget to cover his twig and berries.

And now I and a group of anthropomorphic animals willing to starve themselves for the greater good, stand on the precipice of something great.  And like Ronald Reagan’s challenge to Mikhail Gorbachev (“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”), I now say in a moment of even greater import:

“Mr. Wilson, wear now those pants.”

HOUSTON, WE’VE GOT PANTS (Well, almost.)

“There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious—makes you so sick at heart—that you can’t take part. You can’t even passively take part.  And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop.”

— Mario Savio, Free Speech Movement, December, 1964

. . . .

The voices of millions are now being heard.

I give you…’s Ziggy:

Fine, he still isn’t wearing pants.  But Rome wasn’t built in a day.

And sure, Ziggy creator had agreed to put pants on Ziggy yesterday, but maybe he needed to warm up to it.  Take a few baby steps.

And today’s strip is that first step.

One small step for Ziggy, one giant leap for decency.

The “Pants on Ziggy” people’s movement has borne fruit.

And now, alongside the portraits of Moses, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, you can put this little guy:

Power to the people.

Power to the pants.

— Stephan Pastis, “Put Pants on Ziggy” movement, December, 2009

I Pant, You Pant, We All Pant for Ziggy Pants

Sometimes when I parody another cartoonist I call them in advance.  Sometimes I don’t.

In the case of the Ziggy strips this week, I did.  In part because I needed some help.  Specifically, with the premise of this particular strip:

I had never before spoken with Ziggy creator, Tom Wilson Jr., so it made the conversation a little awkward.  My intro to him on the phone went something like this:

“Hey Tom, my name is Stephan Pastis, and I do the comic strip Pearls Before Swine.  Anyways, I’m doing a series where my characters are really, really mad that your character never wears pants.  And they’re going to organize protests, and cars are going to get overturned and they’ll go on a hunger strike, all because they think this grown man should be wearing pants.”

I never know what I’m going to hear on the other end of the line when I make one of these calls.  Will they hang up?  Will they say no?  Will they swear?

Tom was great.  I think all he said was that sometimes Ziggy did in fact wear pants.  I conveniently ignored that.

But then I needed his help.

“By the end of the series,” I told him, “Rat is going to declare victory, saying that you — Tom Wilson — have agreed to put pants on Ziggy.  Do you think there’s any way you can put pants on Ziggy that day in your strip?”

“Sure,” he said, accommodating as can be.  He could not have been nicer.

So I did my strips, told Tom that the key strip would run on December 16, and he sent me an email confirming that “Ziggy will wear pants on Dec. 16th.”

Feeling triumphant, I went online this morning to look at Ziggy and to my great surprise, he has no pants.

Never before have I been so disappointed to see a man with no pants.

At least I think he has no pants.  Here is Tom’s strip:

Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but I’m presuming that like me, Tom doesn’t color his own dailies (the Monday through Saturday strips).  And the heel and sole of Ziggy’s right foot do look pretty angular, so maybe those were some sort of stretch pants on Ziggy, and the colorist just screwed up and colored them flesh tone.  Sure, he’s not wearing shoes either, but I see Ziggy as a bit of an elf and elves don’t need shoes.  They’re like magical midgets in tights.

So are they or aren’t they?  Did Rat win his protest?  Or go down in ignominious defeat?

You’ll have to be the judge.

It’s a controversy for the ages.

Pants-gate has begun.

Call Now. Operators are Standing By.

Because I am a really really really nice guy, I have signed the final bunch of Pearls books that I will be signing before Christmas.  In each one, I drew either Rat, Pig, Guard Duck, Zebra, Goat, Snuffles, a croc, or me.

In the past, they have sold out rather quick, so if you’re interested, contact THIS bookstore.

And Merry Christmas from me.  The cartoonist with a heart.   (It’s tiny and black like a lump of coal, but still, it beats.)

A Heartwarming Christmas Tale to Read to Your Children This Holiday Season

All I wanted was a sandwich.

I had taken a number at the deli section of the grocery store and I was waiting for it to be called.

That’s when the mother of one of my son’s friends saw me.  I thought about hiding in the bread aisle, but I didn’t want to miss my number being called.

She walked over and started talking.  About her son.  About the basketball league her son is in.  About the coach of that baskeball team.  About the coach of his baseball team.  About how something in some tryout wasn’t fair.  About something something something.

I had no idea what she was talking about.

I didn’t know what to do.

Worse, she took a number, which meant we’d both be waiting together, for what was beginning to feel like the better part of a decade.

I looked down at my clothes to see if I was wearing the shirt that said, “Tell me a whole bunch of boring shit about your personal life.”

I was not.

That’s when the accordion started.

An accordion.

Like war and famine, something that should not exist.

It was a smorgasboard o’ annoyance.

All I was missing now was a swarm of locust.

The accordion was being played by some high school student.  I guess to entertain shoppers.  And I use the word “entertain” loosely, as in “something that makes you want to kill yourself.”

And he was playing a Christmas carol.  At least I assume it was a Christmas carol.  The way he played it was hard to tell.  It could just as easily been “Stairway to Heaven.”

If there is anything worse than listening to a self-absorbed woman talk for ten minutes about her son, it’s doing it to the tune of a high school kid’s accordion.

And it did not stop Mighty Mouth from talking.  It made her talk louder.

“HANG ON ONE SECOND,” she shouted, “I HAVE TO GET A BAG OF CHIPS.”  She walked around the end-cap of the aisle.

I knew that brief window of time for what it was.

A gift from God.  Lo, a miracle.

And I did with it what the Lord himself intended.

I ran.

Right out the front door of the grocery store.

No sandwich.  No nothing.

There was no food on earth worth the sound of that woman’s voice.

On my way out, I glared at the accordion player.  It was rude.  But not as rude as what I wanted to do, which was push him over.  But I didn’t do it, because I knew I was in the midst of carrying out the Lord’s will, and I thought it would be inconsistent to assault someone.

Running from the grocery store, I knew I now had something in common with the little girl from  34th Street.

We both believed in miracles.

Requiem for Smart People

Was at the airport yesterday sitting through a three-hour delay.  I desperately needed a book, so I went to the airport gift shop.

Desperate though I was, there was not one book I could buy.  They were all dumb crime novels or romance novels or mystery novels.

I noticed something else about all their dumb books. All the titles had bumpy letters, the kind you can feel with your fingers.

That is how I know a book is dumb.  If I can feel the title with my fingers.

If you’re not blind and reading Braille, you should not be able to feel the title of your book.

I went back to my seat, bookless.

And noticed everyone around me reading books.

That all had bumpy letters.

I weep.