December 29, 2003

Somebody Got Out of Bed on the Wrong Side This Morning

Unf sez: If you're going to be gauche and dweebish enough to run a comic strip that talks about the stock market, try to make sure that its talk about the stock market is accurate.

Unfogged: Now that I'm back to blogging, I just can't stop myself. Two posts in as many days!

I have never understood why Slate, when it wanted to run a cartoon (an entirely admirable goal, in my view), chose Doonesbury. Its like reading a dumbed down version of the New York Times editorial page, brought to life by a group of characters who stopped being interesting around the time Gerald Ford left office.

I'm only prompted to offer this observation because of today's strip. No doubt this strip is the first of several that will blame G.W. Bush for yet another failing - in this case the erosion of people's retirement savings. But the premise is that this woman's portfolio is down 20% on the year. Which is odd if you consider that the S&P 500 is actually up about 15% for the year. Which means either this woman got some really bad investment advice, or Garry Trudeau (sp?) is even lazier than I thought.

What's unclear is why Unf thinks this strip is the first of a series blaming George W. Bush for our current unusual climatic episodes--plague of frogs, hail of fire, you know the drill--and all other bad things. I thought this was the first of a series in which Garry Trudeau tries to deal with the fact that he blinked--and all of a sudden it's not 1973 any more: it's 2003.

Posted by DeLong at December 29, 2003 04:50 AM | TrackBack


I think the strip is a rerun from last year focused more on Joanie's age and retirement issues than Bush policies.

Posted by: Marc Stone on December 29, 2003 07:19 AM


I blink, and it is not 1973 any more, it is 2003, and I try to make 2003 work like 1973 and it doesn't, I blink again and it is still stubbornly 2003, and then I get frustrated...

Posted by: Bulent Sayin on December 29, 2003 07:32 AM


The Dow Jones average declined 15% in 2002, which supports Marc Stone's suggestion that the comic strip is from last year. Rerunning last year's strip supports Unfogged's point about Trudeau's laziness.

Posted by: David on December 29, 2003 07:34 AM


I'm getting a feeling of deja vu when I read that strip, which leads me to suspect that it is a rerun. However, that isn't necessarily laziness on the part of Trudeau. When a cartoonist goes on vacation, it's up to the syndicate and to the local papers how they handle it. Quite often, they run older strips without comment, trusting that readers will neither notice nor complain.

Posted by: PaulB on December 29, 2003 07:47 AM


'Rerunning last year's strip supports Unfogged's point about Trudeau's laziness.'
I keep hearing that irrational american haters will, no matter the action, turn said action to america's detriment.

or how about: X makes the argument that Y is lazy by doing Z, when it turns out that Y actually did -Z this also is an indication of the laziness of Y. (I realize that the model should actually be more complicated than that, but it will do for a blog comment.)

Finally, rerunning last year's strip really says very little about Trudeau's laziness but rather is most likely a decision of the newspaper or the syndicate, unless he prints the newspaper in question himself.

Note: I only read Doonsbury when a coworker emails me a strip, happened maybe 4 times last year.

Posted by: bryan on December 29, 2003 07:50 AM


A google search on doonesbury joanie 66 turns up this blog comment:

manny12345 - 11:31am Jul 30, 2002 EST (#274 of 338)
"... did you notice in doonesbury today that joanie caucus is 66 years old and shes trying to figure out if..."

Slate has archives, but it looks like you have to pay to go back that far.

Another tipoff that the strip is not originally for today is who would say "so far this year" on Dec. 29?

Posted by: Paul Callahan on December 29, 2003 08:36 AM


The latest take from our host on Mr Brook is that doing a couple of columns a week for the NYT is more than he can respectably manage. The rap on Mr Krugman among his middle-of-the-road critics has long been that he has bitten off more than he can chew in his NYT slot. But there is Mr Trudeau, who has been cranking out daily cartoons (with notable gaps) for decades, and suddenly, he's lazy and his stuff is tired. As for his lack of anything new to say, well, Charles Schulz sort or ran out of new ideas along the way, but his wit and the charm of his characters kept him on my reading list long after that. Lighten up, folks. It's a cartoon.

Posted by: K Harris on December 29, 2003 09:09 AM


Somebody is getting fried on this one too and me is glad!

Posted by: Bulent Sayin on December 29, 2003 09:43 AM


What K. Harris said.

Posted by: Tom Slee on December 29, 2003 10:18 AM


For the record, the 'manny12345' in the above 'mannyrant' is Manny Nosowsky, who is a terrific crossword puzzle constructor. One of the very best-- his puzzles are full of 'sparkle' and intelligence. His work generally appears in 'Friday/Saturday' level New York Times puzzles.

Posted by: Matt on December 29, 2003 11:14 AM


"The rap on Mr Krugman among his middle-of-the-road critics has long been that he has bitten off more than he can chew in his NYT slot."

Rubbish. This is only the rap of radical Republicans who despise anyone who understands what they are about and has the courage to point it out! Paul Krugman is a treasure.

Posted by: lise on December 29, 2003 11:20 AM


Hey people, I REMEMBER this strip from more than a year ago.

Posted by: Dave Johnson on December 29, 2003 11:58 AM


I'm pretty sure that Marc Stone is right. We'll find out for sure in the coming days. Doonesbury does these reruns a few times a year; check whether tomorrow's is labeled "Doonesbury Flashbacks" or some such.

Posted by: Peter F on December 29, 2003 12:06 PM


Hey, maybe Joanie, as an individual, made some bad investments.

Posted by: Zizka on December 29, 2003 12:13 PM


In the Los Angeles Times, when a strip is a repeat, they put a note to that effect by the title, even for things like "Foxtrot", which I love. The "Doonesbury" strip in question was labelled as a repeat in today's paper.

I disagree that "Doonesbury" is mired in 1973 or 1976 or....... I think the day-to-day quality of the strip is quite high, and sometimes he gets a storyline that he can riff on and is quite brilliant. See: Roland Hedley Jr. interviewing the female Palestinian suicide bomber. And the way he depicts Quayle (a feather), Bush (an asterisk), Clinton ( a stack of waffles) and Ah-nuld (a big, groping hand) is terrific. Plus, "Doonesbury" is one of the very few non-gay targeted strips to have an openly gay character (Mark Slackmeyer) that I know of (Lawrence in "For Better or Worse" is the only other one I can think of).

Considering that Trudeau has been writing the strip in one form or another since 1968 (with a few sabbaticals thrown in), I think he does an amazing job. There's an endless supply of politicians and pop-culture fads to skewer and I think he does an ace job most of the time.

Jim, a fan

Posted by: Jim on December 29, 2003 01:09 PM


I dunno. I look at those strips, and wherever he discusses politics, there's a lot of obvious recycling going on. For example, many recent strips have featured President Bush!!! Hey, it's the 21st century! And Rumsfield!?!?!?!?!?! What is this - That 70's Show?

Posted by: Barry on December 29, 2003 03:04 PM


Look at Slate's link to the strip: "Today's Doonesbury Flashback Strip".

That confirms what several people (and my own recollection) have already suggested.

I think Doonesbury in general is brilliant, though the Gropenfuhrer series is a bit, er, heavy-handed.

Posted by: John de Hoog on December 29, 2003 03:39 PM


Just so we have the correct figures:

calculated from 12/31/02 through today's close, the S&P 500 is actually up 26% year to date, the Dow is up 25%, and the Nasdaq is up 50%.

Posted by: Greg Ludvik on December 29, 2003 03:48 PM


Unfogged makes beautiful self-parody: "or Garry Trudeau (sp?) is even lazier than I thought". It took me 3 seconds to confirm the spelling on Google.

Posted by: Ben Vollmayr-Lee on December 30, 2003 06:40 AM


I'm amazed at the mental capital invested in this matter. Isn't something important happening somewhere in the world that would be a better investment?

Posted by: Andy Hughes on December 30, 2003 06:44 AM


3 seconds, Mr. Vollmayr-Lee, that my co-blogger, who bills by the hour after all, clearly didn't have. Furthermore, Garry (sp?) Trudeau (sp?) can be lazier than Unf thought, but still not as lazy as Unf.

Posted by: ogged on December 30, 2003 11:11 AM


Andy, are we supposed to be hunkered down, using all our mental energy angsting about the Iran earthquake, Coalition soldiers killed recently and [insert what you think is an important story here] all the time? Is taking 3 minutes to read this and reply mean that we've become the equivalent of people that devour Michael Jackson news?

I think not. We can multi-task, you know.

Posted by: Jim on December 30, 2003 12:19 PM


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