The Limitations of Facebook Messaging

If you’re a cartoonist, you have to know how to write out sounds.

Like when someone says something sweet, the response is “Awwwww.”

And when someone gets hit in the face, the correct noise is either “CRACK” or “SMACK.”

But if it’s in the stomach, it’s “OOF” or “OOMF”.

And if someone says something that you just begin to understand, you say, “Ohhhhhhh.”

But if someone screams in horror, it’s “Ahhhhhhh!”

I bring all this up because last week I wrote a Facebook message to someone I had known in high school but hadn’t seen in twenty years.  I told her I had been thinking about her and wished her Merry Christmas.

In reply, I think she wanted to let me know that was sweet by saying, “Awwwwww.”

But that’s not what she wrote.

She wrote, “Ahhhhhhhh.”

I think I’ll stop writing her.

The First Noel, the Stephan Did Stray

I know this is wrong.

But my neighbor has the word “NOEL” in bright lights on his lawn.  Each of the letters is separate from the others, and all four are just stuck in the grass.

I’ve never spoken to him, and only rarely even waved.  All I know about him is that he has brown hair and drives a Mercedes.

Last night, I came home late from a Christmas party.  It was a time past which most people would be asleep.

Well, long story short, my neighbor’s lights no longer proclaim the Christmas season.

They now, rather cryptically, proclaim “LEON.”

In my mind, it’s a tribute to the 1978 heavyweight boxing champion of the world, Leon Spinks.

Who as far as I know has no connection to the Christmas season.

I’m just hoping that next year my neighbor buys enough letters to spell out “CHRISTMAS.”

Because someone I know really wants to see “MR. ASS ITCH” in lights.

Cheese, Swearing, Afghanistan and More

Part I AND Part II of my rare video interview with Tom Racine are now up.  There’s a little bit of swearing now and then, so you might not want to watch it with children present.  Unless you want to teach them new words.  Your choice.

We talk about Pearls, my trip to Afghanistan, other cartoonists (find out who I term the “supremo-prick”), Tom’s man-crush on me, and my advice for putting together a comic strip.  I also eat cheese.

Part I is HERE.

And Part II is HERE.

The Frequency of Laughs in the Right Frequency

Yesterday I listened to a science podcast called Radiolab.  It was an older one of their shows and it was all about laughing.

One of the segments was about a scientist who was trying to determine if rats laugh.

To make them laugh, the scientist tried tickling them.  But he heard nothing.

Then one of his lab assistants got the idea to use an ultrasonic recording device that could pick up high-frequency sounds the human ear could not.

And sure enough, when they tickled the rats and recorded it with this device, it picked up these odd chirping sounds.  Every time the rats were tickled, they made tons of this noise.  It was just that none of this ultrasonic “laughter” had ever been audible to the human ear before.

I bring all this up because this morning I was writing my strip in a cafe here in Santa Rosa and the man next to me was reading the comics.  He had the comic section folded into quarters, enabling me to see that he was staring right at my strip.  I looked at his face to gauge his reaction.

But his face showed nothing.  Nothing.  Not even the slightest of twitches.

It was then that I realized he was laughing ultrasonically.

Like a lot of my fans.

I am more popular than I ever realized.

Tis The Season To Promote In A Clever Yet Endearing Way

Sure, I could use this column to make fun of stupid people.  But today I am taking a moratorium from mocking in order to give you many, many gift-giving ideas.

Like these guys:



Which you can buy HERE.  Or HERE, where you can even get Christmas versions that look like this:


But wait, there’s more.

Because next year will not be complete without the Pearls desk calendar:

Which you can get in stores or HERE.

Or, if you’re a big picture kind of person, the Pearls wall calendar:

Which you can also get in stores, or HERE.

Then again, maybe you’re just a book person, in which case you can get the latest Pearls collection, “When Pigs Fly.”

Which you can find in any independent bookstore or Barnes and Noble or Borders or HERE.

Then there are a whole host of Pearls clothes, cups, prints and other cool stuff at the Cafe Press store, which was recently filled with 25 new designs.  All of which you can find HERE.

They have cool stuff like this:



And this:


And because Pearls is nothing if not hip, this and many other iPhone cases:


But wait, there’s even more.  If you really really want to get something for that someone special in your life, you can get a print of ANY Pearls strip you want signed by ME.


They look like this:

To order those signed prints, click HERE.

And if you’re cheap like me, you can get unsigned prints of various Pearls strips and images HERE.

They come framed and unframed and look a little like this.



And last but not least, if you still can’t get enough of me, I just did a video interview with the great Tom Racine of Tall Tale Radio (now Video), which you can find HERE.  But be warned.  Someone (won’t say who) had a bit of a potty mouth during the interview, so it may not be appropriate for young kids.

Oh, and don’t forget all the animated Pearls strips, which you can find HERE.  They’re quite entertaining.

There.  I’m done.  That is all the yuletide cheer one man can be expected to provide.

Here’s Hoping for the Automatic Fork

Yesterday, I saw a person press a button to close the trunk of his car.

After closing the trunk, he walked around to the driver’s door and got in the car.

That got me to thinking.

It’s a shame he had to make the effort to sit down in his car.  I think he should be able to press a button and have a crane rise from the car roof and automatically lift his body and set it down in the seat.

And what about when he gets home and has to walk to his front door?  There should be an automated conveyor belt that folds out from under the car and carries him to the door.

And he shouldn’t have to open it.  The front door should swing automatically open, at which point a ceiling-mounted harness should lift him gently to the recliner in front of his TV.

I am guessing that the most exercise that person gets in the course of a day is lifting a fork to his mouth so that he can eat the 7-Layer Burrito his wife bought him at Taco Bell.  Which is a real shame.

Because there should be a button for that.