Chatter #12: March 29, 2001

12/14/2001 — I started the Chatter section on July 27, 2000 when I noticed that the rest of my site was sometimes getting cluttered with lots of text. I'm a talkative guy, after all! So now I talk about my life here, instead of all over the place. Originally this was one huge section, but in December of 2001 it simply became too large to remain as one page, and I broke it into dated sections, as you can see. —>PM


Sometimes I wonder if anyone reads this. Nobody's ever written to me about it, and since there've been long stretches where I haven't written anything, it could well be that this is one part of the site that simply doesn't get read. Which is okay...but it feels a little odd. It's a lonely sort of personal journal, badly organized and pretty irrelevant to almost anything - or anyone - else.

Which may mean that this is a good place to hide stuff that I don't want to be widely read. Okay, yes, I realize that 1,000+ people a month doesn't qualify as "wide" in most senses (although maybe it does for RQ sites), but this might be a good place to put stuff as kind of a reward for people who slog through the whole site. Sometimes I come across material which for one reason or another is somehow questionable. For example, there's an absolutely hysterical (and unbelievably sick) one-shot comic strip called The Story of Beef. It's impossible to find on the web; at one point I found a site that claimed to have it, but the graphic was missing. Maybe the author or publisher ordered it to be taken offline, although the publisher is out of business and I haven't been able to find the author on the web. Anyway, I have a copy of the comic book that it appeared in, somewhere deep in storage. Once I get around to digging it up, I'll be strongly tempted to scan it and put it up here with no publicity; just a little extra prize for people who are interested.

Which is leading me to my next point. Several years ago there was an online project called The Dysfunctional Family Circus. The concept was simple, yet brilliant: old copies of the treacley comic strip Family Circus were put up on a web site with their captions removed. Visitors to the site suggested their own captions. The editor (later a team of editors) sorted the captions into categories according to their estimation of their quality (I have to admit that I really got a laugh out of some of the "stupid" category captions). After a while, the strip and captions were "closed", and no more captions were accepted. The final version listed the "good" captions only, usually about 20 - 40 for each comic.

It was the internet; the captions ranged from gross to offensive to unbelievably filthy. But the vast majority of them were also incredibly funny. The site became more and more popular, with hundreds of archived DFC strips. Would you care to guess what happened next?

That's right! Bill Keane (the author/artist of the Family Circus), and the lawyers of the Cowles syndicate (that carried his strips) objected to the site. It was too offensive, too dirty, too gross. And so it disappeared. Even the archives were gone. I'd tried to capture the site with some site-snagging freeware before it was taken down, but the software didn't work. I'd printed out some of the 500 cartoons & captions, but missed most of them.

Anyway, I was wandering through the web recently and found something amazing: a different web site had a text index for the Dysfunctional Family Circus - and not only a listing, but the actual comics and captions themselves! I don't know how long they'll stay up, but here's hoping that the lawyers are asleep at the switch for once. In the meantime, if you have a strong stomach for really sick and twisted humor, I'd strongly recommend The Dysfunctional Family Circus Archives.

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[email protected] Copyright 2001 by Peter Maranci. Revised: August 16, 2002. version 1.1