How to Go to Your Mental Happy Place

When this comic first ran, I received numerous complaints. Nobody complained that I was objectifying women. Rather, they (men and women both) took issue with the specific characters I chose. I got a lot of “Kaylee, not Inara?” and some “Boomer, not Six?”

I always answered that one with “That isn’t Boomer, it’s Athena,” which solved nothing, but made me smile.

The third character shown confused many people. Some thought it was Daphne the Speedster from Heroes, but it was, in fact, Chiana from Farscape. I’m sure you’ll sleep better knowing that.

Note from Missy: How weird that I watched the full runs of both Farscape and Heroes, and while I remember Chiana very well, I have absolutely no memory of Daphne.

 

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How to Reveal the Killer's Identity

If you know who the murderer is, why not just tell the cops and be done with it? Why invite the murderer to hang out in a room with lots of other people while you publicly accuse them of being the murderer? You may be thinking that it’s so that there will be witnesses, but I say that all those so-called witnesses are gathered together in one room for convenient kill-ability.

Furthermore, if you’re the murderer, and some detective invites you to a gathering where he or she promises to unmask the killer, why show up? Does every murderer walk into the room thinking, “If I don’t show up, it’ll be a dead giveaway?” Does it not occur to them that attending the gathering and having the detective point at them and say, “That’s the killer, right there,” will be a dead giveaway as well?

I suspect if a detective tried the old “You’re wondering why I’ve called you all here” gambit in real life, either nobody would show up, or the detective would find themselves alone in a room with the murderer, because none of the other suspects would want to attend a gathering where they know there will be at least one murderer.

 

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How to Properly Use a Factoid

As a child, I loved seaplanes, that is, planes where the fuselage was shaped like a boat, enabling the plane to take off and land on water. I think it comes from watching the show Tales of the Gold Monkey as a child (it was one of the spate of knock-offs that came out the year after Raiders of the Lost Ark was a hit.)

I still like seaplanes. The Grumman Goose, the Grumman Albatros, the Catalina PBY. I have little or no interest in floatplanes, which are regular planes with pontoons for landing gear. For many years, any time someone referred to a floatplane as a seaplane, I would correct them. I only recently let that go.

Why do I bring that up? No reason. Hey, on an unrelated note, I suspect Missy might have something to say about this comic.

Note from Missy: BLAAARRHGHLEBARGLE! Dang “factoid”! Coined in 1973 by Norman Mailer, it originally meant “invented facts that are believed to be true because of repeated use,” but as the years rolled on, and people used it incorrectly to mean “a brief and often trivial fact,” the wrong has become the right, and now both definitions are deemed acceptable by dictionaries. I know that language has to evolve, but when words take a complete 180 (like how “literally” is now defined as “figuratively” in some dictionaries), you’ll still find me over in the corner, cringing.

 

On the plus side, a discussion about factoid caused Scott to make me LOL: “Actually, it's only a factoid while it's still in space. Once it hits the ground it's a factite.”

 

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How to Repel the Inevitable Invasion of the Moon-Men

Here it is! The very first appearance of Rocket Hat and the Emperor of the Moon, and the Moon Men! I don’t want to toot my own horn, but I’m pretty proud of what I did with my motley crew of useless superheroes and villains, and this is where it all started.

A couple of interesting notes. The name “Rocket Hat” doesn’t appear anywhere in this particular comic. Also, I dropped the running joke of having the Emperor shout “the details are unimportant” after this comic, but readers continued quoting it to me in e-mails for years.

Note from Missy: I do like how the Moon-Minion’s outfit is more fat-Elvis here, as opposed to the adult-sized Onesie it evolved into.

 

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How to Deal with People Who Stand Too Close When They Talk to You

I once had a job that involved standing in a prominent, but non-specific spot for an extended period of time. As long as I was easily visible and could see a specific area well, I could stand anywhere I wanted. It was not a job with a demanding list of qualifications.

Anyway, I had one coworker who insisted on standing right next to me, within my personal space. They often stood so close that we were touching. Again, bear in mind, they could stand anywhere in a thirty square yard space, and they chose to stand on top of me.

I did the only think I could do. I made a game out of it. I would slowly move away, forcing the other person to follow me. Once, when I got tired of just doing laps of the area, I got them to follow me in a figure eight pattern.

 

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How to Create a Running Gag*

I wrote this strip when I’d finally had enough of readers asking why “That bald guy is married to a lesbian.” I guess the issue was that Missy has shortish hair and glasses. I was pretty disappointed with the people who made this joke, and tried to make my point with this comic.

I was also disappointed with the readers (sadly, more than one) who felt it necessary to write me to share some “surprising news I might not know” about Ms. De Rossi.

I know a guy who, as a young comedian in the eighties, asked Ellen DeGeneres out on a date. She declined. A few years ago, he discovered Arrested Development, and expressed an interest in Portia De Rossi. Discovering that Ms. De Rossi is married to Ms. DeGeneres was much more meaningful for him than it was for the rest of us.

 

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How to Talk a Great Deal Without Actually Saying Much of Anything

I am not what you’d call “outdoorsy.” My father is. As such, when I was a child, most of our family vacations involved fishing, clamming, crabbing, or picking blueberries.

For the first few years of my life we would sleep in tents, but then dad made a sort of home-brewed RV by building plywood furniture in an old van he’d bought as surplus from the phone company.

When I pointed out that our vacation consisted of spending our days looking for food, and our nights sleeping in a windowless van, I was chastised for my poor attitude.

 

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How to Use Technology to Perform a Repetitive Task

It’s funny how technological change rolls out at different speeds. When I took on my job as an office manager, I had already been all-digital with my schedule and contacts for years. (a large part of actually making a living as a standup comic actually comes down to schedule and contact information management.)

When I got the office manager job, many of the company’s executives were just beginning to make the transition from Rolodexes and Dayrunners to software, and it fell to me to do quite a bit of data entry. Then, often, I would be asked to print the information I had entered in a format that would easily fit into preexisting Dayrunners and Rolodexes.

The software of the time often had an easy means of making those prints automatically, but it still irked me.

 

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How to Watch a Movie You Are Told You Will Love

Because of where I worked, and my attitude about princess movies, I saw the live theme park production of Beauty and the Beast dozens of times before I ever saw the animated film. I don’t plan to ever see the live version they’re about to release, despite the presence of Hermione and cousin Matthew, because this man is not playing Lumière, and as such the entire enterprise is fatally flawed.

The thing that always struck me about Beauty and the Beast is that even after the Beast changes back into a human, everyone still pictures him as he used to look, and calls him “Beast.” He’s kinda like Leonard Nimoy in that regard.

 

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How to Stay Young

The specific model this comic was written about is no longer available, but a similar product can be had for under $50.

On a related note, I think that seeing something really cool exists, and knowing that you could buy it, but choosing not to because the item serves no useful purpose in your life is one of the hallmarks of adulthood, and also is one of the reasons kids find adults insufferably boring.

 

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How to Face Your Fear

I don’t trust birds. I think it has to do with the fact that we raised peacocks when I was a child. They were not pleasant.

Later, when I lived in Seattle, all I ever saw were seagulls in the distance and pigeons on the sidewalk. Over time, my mistrust of birds receded into the background.

Then we moved to Florida. There are birds there that are brave enough to walk up to you when you’re sitting down outdoors, like at a café, or in a parked car, and tall enough to look you in the eye when they do it. The first time I was confronted by one of them, my peacock-driven mistrust came roaring back. Then I attended a wildlife show where live birds of prey flew inches over the heads of the audience.

The next day, I wrote this comic.

 

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How to Have a Horrifying Conversation

This comic is based directly on a real conversation. A person I know talked about how his father never beat him, but did teach him right from wrong, using the improvised device mullet boss describes here. The person talking even referred to it as a homemade cat-o-nine-tails. I tried to point out the absurdity of the situation to him at the time. My father never beat me, just flogged me with an implement he made himself, like “Wonderboy” from The Natural. He was incapable of seeing it, and looked at me as if I was talking crazy.

 

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How to Come Up with The Perfect joke

This one makes me a bit uncomfortable in retrospect. I paint Mullet Boss’s interest as abhorrent, but still . . . uncomfortable.

As I get older I find that certain types of humor no longer work coming from me, not because society’s attitudes toward the subject have changed, but because society’s attitudes about me have changed.

When this joke was written, it was about a man in his early 30s talking about being uncomfortable in the presence of attractive high schoolers. That’s creepy, but it’s relatably creepy. Now I’m in my 40s, and it’s much, much creepier, even to me.

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