Friday, January 16, 2009

Calvin & Hobbes (Slight Return)

I don't say this lightly, I'm not well-known for my humor, but Bill Watterson's birthday, 5 July, should be a(nother) national holiday. Watterson, the genius responsible for the world's most wonderful comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes, never failed to amuse and amaze on a daily basis for the ten years and six weeks he shared his creation with the world.

One of the nice things about being somewhat advanced in years, and slightly mentally encumbered, is not remembering if I cried when the comic strip came to an end, but I suspect I did. I had and still have, a large number of the C & H books, which were compilations of the daily strips. At various times one and/or the other of my children, for reasons entirely their own, have borrowed and enjoyed them as much as I still do and (at least in theory) have returned them to where they found them. Just as their father, a role model in everything even vaguely connected to doing as I say and not as I do, has always returned (nearly) everything to its proper place.

That's actually an inside joke. When I wash the dishes, my wife gets to play 'Where in the World Is Carmen San Diego?' with a surprising assortment of implements and kitchen objects, ranging from the mayonnaise knife through the plastic microwave splatter guard to the small chopping block, because her husband of over thirty years just moved into the house and has no idea where she keeps any of these items.

Yeah, to some extent, I do resemble Calvin's Dad (mostly at the hairline), who, like Calvin's Mom never had a name in the comic strip. Calvin's classmate and occasional nemesis, sometime victim, and often object of unwanted attentions, Susie Derkins, went Calvin, himself, one better in that she not only had a first name, she had a last name as well.

You didn't need to know that Watterson had named his two characters for John Calvin and Thomas Hobbes, two more disparate souls you would be hard-pressed to find anywhere, with or without Carmen's assistance. The comic strip is a marvel without ever savoring the irony of the name. I was thinking about C&H when I came across an online article from the International Herald-Tribune, "Who Would Jesus smack down?" that I'm sharing with you because I found it to be amazing stuff even though no tigers were harmed in the writing of the story.

My own relationship with a Supreme Being has been, shall we say, somewhat uneven in recent decades, but I'm forever fascinated when, while channel surfing, I come across any of the televangelists toiling in the video vineyards in His Name. I was just thinking the other day of Billy Mays and his feverish fervor, being a marketing John the Baptist, albeit for a curious assortment of products, but I'm not sure who plays his Salome unless you can imagine Paula Deen with a veil. (Please, don't.)

I didn't even know there was a GodTube (and was I ever relieved it wasn't porpoise which is how I first read it) but I wasn't surprised to realize much of what goes on in the Mars Hill Church wouldn't quite fit there. I, too, am a Poppa Daddy (much better, I think, than being a mack daddy and far more alive than a Bernie, larger than a Big, and without the deviated septum of a Fleetwood) in the Peasant Princess tradition, but at an hour PLUS per sermon, I guess my first prayer is for patience (and an aisle seat in the back). Praise the Lord and pass the extra couch cushions. After all, a progressiveboink is, in its own way, a revelation. Can I get an Amen?
-bill kenny

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