The Son, The Backpack and the Angry Parents

Every morning, I drive my 12-year-old son Thomas to middle school.  He sits in the front seat with me.  He keeps his weighty backpack in the backseat.

When we get to the school, he gets out of the car, shuts his door, and opens the door to the backseat to reach for his backpack.

That’s when I reach over the front seat and grab one of the backpack straps.  When he pulls on the backpack, it doesn’t move.

A tug of war ensues.

This is a little embarrassing for him because he’s in junior high and we’re right next to the central quad where all the “cool” kids hang out before school.  So while they do whatever it is “cool” kids do, Tom’s playing tug-of-war with his dad.

Today I made a point of holding on to the strap longer, to the point where he was about to give up on the backpack altogether.  I call it my “death grip extraordinaire.”

That’s when I heard the car horns.  A lot of them.

I looked back.  We were holding up a huge line of cars.  Cars filled with parents trying to drop their kids off at school.

I can only wonder what these parents behind me we’re thinking as I maintained my death grip on Tom’s backpack.

Actually, I can do more than wonder, because I could see their faces in my rear-view mirror.  And they were not big fans of tug-of-war.

That’s too bad, because the Olympics begin tonight, and you’d think the thrill of athletic competition would be in the air.

Save the Zebras! (And Improve Your Love Life)

You may have seen this story this morning.

The headline says it all:

Kenya rounds up zebras for starving lions

Yes, the country of Kenya says its lions are starving.  So they’re herding up zebras to feed to the lions.  That is going to ruin many a zebra Valentine’s Day.

Little did I know the message on my Valentine’s Day crocodile would be so prophetic:

Not to mention the message carried by Rat:

Then there’s poor Zebra, begging for peace in light of Kenya’s decision:

And angelic Cupid Pig, hoping to spread the love:

So if you want to help the poor zebras of Kenya, just go HERE or HERE and buy one of these fine Valentine’s Day gifts for that special someone in your life.

And how will that help the zebras of Kenya?   I’ll tell you.

For each plush you buy, I will think about doing something to help the zebras of Kenya.

So do the right thing this Valentine’s Day and buy these Pearls plush.

You’ll be helping your love life.  And more importantly…

You’ll be helping me.

When Is the Right Time To Retire a Comic Strip?

It’s always tough to know when to retire a strip.  If you use as your example Calvin & Hobbes, The Far Side or Bloom County, the right amount seems to be somewhere between ten and fifteen years.

But if Peanuts had retired at that point, we’d have no Flying Ace or Woodstock or Peppermint Patty. In fact, Schulz’s most famous Sunday strip, the one with the characters lying on their backs identifying cloud formations, did not even come until the 10th year of the strip.

For me, the decision is a tough one.  I have to balance the freshness of Pearls with financial considerations, because after all, I’m only 42, and need to make money for a number of more years.

But the decision was made a whole lot easier for me last week, when I received this:


Date: February 5, 2010 1:28:48 PM PST

To: unlisted-recipients:; (no To-header on input)

Subject: Notification of Bequest In Your Name

Notification of Bequest In Your Name

On behalf of the Trustees and Executor of the Estate of Late Scott Kennedy ,I hereby attempt to reach you again. I wish to notify you that late Scott Kennedy made you a beneficiary to his will.He left the sum of thirty one Million five Hundred Thousand Dollars.($31,500,000.00 ) to you  in the codicil and last testament to his will.  This may sound strange and  unbelievable to you, but  it is real and true.

Late Scott Kennedy until his death was a very dedicated Christian who  loved to give out. His great philanthropy earned him numerous awards during  his life time, Late Scott Kennedy died at the age of 71 years.According  to him this money is to support your activities and  to help the poor and the needy.   Please You should fill the information below for more directives

1.Full Name

2.Telephone number,

3.Age address/Country



Yours In Service,

Barr.James Alfred (Esq)

At first, I questioned the email because I found it strange and unbelievable.  But he knew I would think that.  Look, he says:

“This may sound strange and unbelievable to you, but it is real and true.”

Then I started thinking, “But why would this Scott Kennedy guy leave me this money?”  But he explains that too.  See, it says Scott Kennedy was:

“…a very dedicated Christian who loved to give out.”

But then I was like,”Wait, wait, wait… how does Scott Kennedy know me?”  But he obviously does.  See, he says:

“According to him this money is to support your activities.”

See, he knows I have activities.  Which I do!  I like to sit on the beach and drink, and I want to do that for the rest of my life.  But that takes money.  Which now I have!

I know what you’re thinking.  There’s still the formality of sending him the information he wants.  But I’ve already done it!  And to be extra thorough, I threw in my social security number.

So when is the right time to quit a strip?

When Scott Kennedy dies.

Rest in peace, friend.

Who dat? Who dat? Who dat say Saints gonna win Super Bowl back in his book introduction in 2006?

Four years ago, in February, 2006, I wrote an introduction for my treasury, “Lions and Tigers and Crocs, Oh My”, in which I discussed my inability to predict whether a given strip I write will be liked or not.  I added, “I could better predict the winner of the 2010 Super Bowl than I could the funniness factor of an unpublished Pearls strip.”

And then I added a footnote.  I’ll let you look at it yourself.   It’s at the bottom of the page.

I suppose there are a whole host of possible explanations for why I was able to predict what I predicted, from dumb luck to my knowledge of the game.  I prefer this one:

I’m a prophet.

So way to go, Saints.

I was with you all the way.