A Better Way to Start Your Day

Two things are bugging me.

One is that Germany’s plan for invading France at the start of World War I was called the von Schlieffen plan and it was doomed from the start because it involved a very strict timetable and yet didn’t give any allowance for possible resistance from the Belgians as the Germans passed through Belgium.  I’ve been thinking a lot about it lately because it’s in a World War I book I’m reading.

The other thing that’s bugging me is the expression, “Good morning.”

First off, what the heck does it mean?

Am I objectively declaring that the morning is good, as though I’m the authority on mornings?  In the same way a judge at a dog show might feel the rump of a Doberman and proclaim, “Good dog.”

Or am I telling you to go out and make the morning good, in case you were stupidly planning on making it crappy?  Because if that’s the case, a warning from me probably won’t make a difference.

And even if I was telling you to go out and make the morning good, the expression still seems overly truncated.  I mean, if I wanted you to go out and get a good haircut, I wouldn’t just say, “Good haircut.”

And while I’m at, why do we say “Good heavens” when we see something out of the ordinary?   It’s like saying, “Holy shit, I am shocked, so let me say something mildly complimentary about the afterlife.”

It’s just about as odd as “Good riddance.”  That’s supposed to tell someone you dislike to leave.  And yet I’m wishing good on them as they do.  The correct expression should be, “Fucked-up riddance.”

But “good morning” is the worst of these because it is used first thing every single day and yet is confusing and meaningless and uninformative.  Instead, we should begin our day by jumping right in with what’s on our mind, thereby triggering a healthy debate of the issues.

I bring all this up because my wife Staci woke me up this morning by gently nudging my shoulder and saying, “Good morning, sweetie.”

And I replied:

“The Belgians fucked up everything.”

And she didn’t say one word in defense of the von Schlieffen plan.

The “Pearls Blows Up” World Tour Kicks Off (Updated)

The “Pearls Blows Up” World Tour kicks off in San Francisco, California at the Cartoon Art Museum on Saturday, March 19, 2011 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. I’ll be talking all about the strip (including how it started and how I went from being a lawyer to a cartoonist), showing some readers’ favorite strips (and some not-so-favorite strips), and afterwards, I’ll be signing books. Tickets are just $5 and are on sale HERE.


Feb. 26 UPDATE:  Unfortunately, there are only a handful of tickets still left, so if you want to attend, you might want to get your tickets soon.

An Economy for the Birds

With the economy as it is right now, it seems wherever you look there’s someone trying to rip you off.

It just happened to me with a bird feeder I bought.

I wanted it so I could put it in front of the window where I draw and watch the birds as they eat.

Well, the birds are eating the food, but they’re not doing it while I’m around.

And that, to me, is theft.

I’m thinking about putting a sign on it that says, “Do not eat if human not watching.”

But they’d probably steal that too.

This has got to be a real low point in this Great Recession.

“Pastis, This is Mildred. I Need To Talk To You.”

I got a call yesterday from a woman who sounded old.

“Pastis, this is Mildred.  I need to talk to you.”

I didn’t know Mildred, but she obviously knew me.  So I asked her what she needed to talk about.

“The parish banquet.  I think starting it at three o’clock is a mistake.”

“What parish banquet?”

“The parish banquet at the church.”

“I don’t think I’m going to that,” I said.

“How can you not go, Pastor?”

And that’s when I realized she had not said “Pastis” at the start of the conversation.

Now this is where a kind, sane person politely says, “I’m afraid you have the wrong number” and hangs up.  So that’s not what I did.

I said this:

“How can I not go?  Because I don’t feel like it, Mildred.”

“You need to go.”

“Well, I wanted to, before you told me it couldn’t start at three.”

“It’s just too early.”

“Not for me, Mildred.  I don’t like those people.  I want to get in and get out.”

“We can’t start it at three.”

“Listen, Mildred, you’re really pushing me on this.”


“I feel like I’m being strong-armed.”

“You’re being what now?”

“Strong-armed.  Maybe you can talk to your people and I’ll talk to my people and we can work this out amicably.”

“I can talk to Mary.”

“That would be a good idea, Mildred.  I’d hate for things to get ugly.”

“I’ll call you back, Pastor.”

“Thank you, Mildred,” I said, and for some reason felt compelled to add:

“And God bless you.”




A Ratio That Not Even the Ex-Lawyer in Me Could Defend

It’s 9 pm at night and I can’t find my Netflix movie.

So I yell across the house to Staci, “Hey Babe…Did you get the mail today?”

“No,” she says, “Why?”

“Because I want my Netflix movie.”

“You’ll have to get it yourself then.”

The mailbox is about 90 yards down the street.  And it was cold.

“But you always get the mail.  Why do I have to get it?”‘

“Because you never get it.  It’s not my job.”

I wanted to say, “I sort of think it is your job,” but thought better of it.

“Stephan, since we’ve lived here, how many times have you gotten the mail?”

“What, is this a fairness thing?  Like we should each get the mail the same number of times?”

“How many times have you gotten the mail?”

“I don’t see the point of this.”

“How many times have you gotten the mail?”

I thought for a minute.

“Four,” I said.

“Four,” she repeated.  “And how long have we lived here?”

“Nine years,” I said.

I walked the cold, 90 yards in silence.