H Is H: August 22-27, 2005

This strip is dedicated to Andrew, who always says this.

Yes, I do a lot of fourth-wall-breaking humor, but the important thing about this strip is that Artie looks adorable in a suit.

Artie can seeeee yoooou. He can see you like Animal Man.

Zeta is calling Artie a work of art. I’m embarrassed by the number of strips in this sequence that need me standing by to explain them.

Right, so Artie is receiving this grant for his hypertext poetry, which probably sounds pretty antique nowadays. I studied hypertext fiction in college under the pioneering hypertext novelist Michael Joyce. Sometimes my parents wondered if their money was being spent wisely.

Man, Dave’s gotten all classy. He didn’t learn it from Helen, that’s for sure.

This storyline exists mainly to tie up some loose ends and set up events in the final arc of Narbonic, and it’s maybe not the strongest storyline on its own. I have enormous fondness for it anyway, mainly because I got to draw Artie in his suit and tie. I love how dapper he looks. Cary Grant was a major model for Artie’s poses and expressions. If I’d been into “Mad Men” at the time, I probably would have put some John Hamm in there too.

Oh, wordy strips. Why do you have to be so wordy? I like this rare glimpse of Helen and Dave just hanging out as a couple, though. Also Helen’s socks.

Yes, Dave is playing on an NES. Because he’s awesome.

“So I says to Mabel, I says,” is a line from “The Simpsons.” There seems to be a lot of Internet debate over whether it’s a reference to anything. Kumamoto, like many areas of Japan, has a local dialect different enough from standard Japanese to be close to a separate language. So you can see how this strip is hilarious.

Anyway, yes, this is a rare glimpse of ANTONIO SMITH, FORENSIC LINGUIST in his day-to-day, mixed-caps life. It’s been a while since he showed up in Narbonic, so it’s good to have him back in the story again.

46 thoughts on “H Is H: August 22-27, 2005

  1. Monday:

    All humanity, hear my plea, I’m begging you: kill Dave. Please kill him. He’s become completely unbearable. 10 months from now is too long to wait.

  2. (TUNE: “I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face”, Lerner & Loewe)

    I get such comfort from your butt!
    The way it jiggles when you strut!
    When you bend over at the waist,
    My pulse picks up the pace!
    It breaks … my heart …
    Each time … you f**t …
    Through all your troubles, you will find
    I’ll not be far from you behind!
    Yes, it’s the fate of all mad-scientific subjects, you explain,
    Though Artie may defect to Good, and I may go insane,
    And start to babble like a nut,
    I’m comforted, somewhat,
    By your fan-tas-tic butt!

  3. My vote for Andrew’s oft-repeated line: “I suppose any experiment of mine that isn’t a dark abomination is bound, sooner or later, to leave me…”

  4. Tuesday:

    This storyline just got interesting. And I must say panels 2 and 3 work surprisingly well as a recap of Ms. Vincent’s narrative arc thus far.

    Fourth-wall breaks: 66. I was contemplating preceding these numbers with bingo calls, but I looked them up and seriously all of them sound like terrible double-entendres.

  5. (TUNE: “Standing On The Corner”, Frank Loesser)

    Staring at the fourth wall, terrified as I can be …
    Staring at the fourth wall, when a lady yells at me!
    She interrupts my internal conversation …
    So much for angst!  So much for pain!
    I’m staring at the fourth wall, talking to myself
    Talking to myself
    Talking to myself … again!

  6. Yeah, that punchline is a classic… I keep meaning to use it on people around me.

    Note also the conservation of characters….

  7. It is a recurring and well-established meme that the planet Earth and al its inhabitants are, in fact, a laboratory experiment.  Artie, having been created in and grown up in such an environment and now allowed to leave, might have the superpower that allows him to see this fourrth observational wall.  But what do I know.  Now, where’s that button that I need to press for a food pellet?

  8. To others of us, the important thing about this strip is that *SPOILER* someone else can imagine what it’s like to be a gerbil/human hybrid.*/SPOILER*

  9. Wasn’t the “Zeta is a gerbil” thing established a long time ago?

    Yeah, quick archive search pulls up the strip from 11 Sep 2004.  So that’s hardly a spoiler anymore, indeed I believe it is *intended* to be the joke.

  10.             I just Wiki’d “hypertext poetry,” because I had no idea what it is.  I still have no idea what it is.
                I just love Zeta so much, and she’s right.  Artie is—literally—as much Art as he is Science.

  11. I like that this one takes a second to make sense. You get to feel Artie’s confusion along with him, and then you figure it out and laugh, or–if you’re me–blush sympathetically and think “I’ve been there.”

  12. ” I’m embarrassed by the number of strips in this sequence that need me standing by to explain them.”

    Really? It’s always seemed pretty obvious to me.

  13. (TUNE: “Heart” from “Damn Yankees”, Richard Adler and Jerry Ross)

    You’re certainly Art!
    You’re a living work of Art!
    With a body that is chiseled and tall,
    You make me fall apart!

    You’re sculpted and buff!
    You have really got the stuff!
    Sitting next to you, I’m starting to sweat,
    I just can’t get enough!

    You don’t look quite like a poet,
    You’re not ugly, old or fat!
    You don’t even seem to know it …
    Meriono, you’re All That!

    You are ART!
    You’re a living work of ART!
    I cannot believe you’re looking so great!
    You palpitate my heart …

    The sound of your voice … the look of your eyes …
    I stare at you, and then I realize
    That I said out loud …
    That you’re Art!
    That you’re Art!
    That you’re Art!

  14. Oddly, this conversation doesn’t completely depend on Artie’s species.  Almost anywhere but in Narbonic, “you don’t look like the other recipents” would be introducing the elephant-in-the-room of his race….

  15. I got the joke right away.  It’s not that obscure.  It’s natural that Zeta should be attracted to Arty given their simular origins.  Ahem…mad Helen, gerbils, etc..  There are several excellant writers working in hypertext.  Do a search on “Deena Larsen”.

  16. Yeah, this one took a minute, but it certainly didn’t need any explanation after that. “I’ve been there” took over that job but quick.

  17. (TUNE: “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”, Wallis Willis)

    Merlot, sweet Zeta wants …
    Artie’s gonna come to her room …
    Merlot, sweet Zeta wants …
    Artie’s gonna come to her room!

    Before this night could even start,
    (Artie’s gonna come to her room)
    She said he was a work of art!
    (Artie’s gonna come to her room)
         (repeat CHORUS)

    To Zeta’s room, she said “Please come!”
    (Artie’s gonna come to her room)
    On human customs, he’s quite dumb!
    (Artie’s gonna come to her room)
         (repeat CHORUS)

    She said to bring along some wine …
    (Artie’s gonna come to her room)
    Says Dave, “Don’t buy the boxed-up kind!”
    (Artie’s gonna come to her room)
         (repeat CHORUS)

    It doesn’t seem that Artie knows …
    (Artie’s gonna come to her room)
    That Zeta plans to get … how close?
    (Artie’s gonna come to her room)
         (repeat CHORUS)

    He’s dressed up in a tie and suit,
    (Artie’s gonna come to her room)
    ‘Cause Shaenon thinks he looks so cute!
    (Artie’s gonna come to her room)
         (repeat CHORUS)

  18. Wikipedia doesn’t seem to think so, but the article was last updated in October.

    That discussion is pure gold. Thanks for digging it up, Leon.

  19. You can’t go wrong with Cary Grant. You just can’t.Perhaps Dave reasons that whatever Dr. Narbon’s taste in wines is, it can’t possibly be shared by any (seemingly) normal woman.

  20. @John; I dunno.  I only remember Cary Grant from Notorious, where I really hated him!  (Claude Rains was way cooler, and more sympathetic, IMO.)  I’ll admit that’s insufficient data, but it IS data!

  21. Friday:

    It’s time they faced facts: ever since they got together, lab productivity has dropped like a satellite. How’s the government supposed to win the War on Terror when their black-ops bioweapon contractors are blowing their hard-earned grants on Adventure Island and Little Nemo carts from eBay?

  22. (TUNE: “If I Were A Rich Man” from Fiddler On The Roof, Jerry Bock & Sheldon Harnick)

    If I had a million,
    Moolah boolah boolah moolah boolah boolah moolah moo,
    Just imagine all that I could do,
    If I were a millionaire!
    I’d …
    Buy a big gorilla!
    Moolah boolah boolah moolah boolah boolah moolah moo!
    If I had a boolah moolah mill!
    Boolah billah, cool!  A million bucks!

    I could donate it to a cause such as Greenpeace,
    Which I’ve supported all my life,
    Or save endangered species in my own zoo!
    Or I could stage a match with Dubya and Limbaugh,
    Giving them each a rusty knife!
    They’d battle to the death on pay-per-view!

    If I had a million,
    Moolah boolah boolah moolah boolah boolah moolah moo,
    I would feel superior to you,
    If I were a millionaire!
    I’d …
    Buy a politician!
    Moolah boolah boolah moolah boolah boolah moolah moo!
    If I had a boolah moolah mill!
    Boolah billah, cool!  A million bucks!

    I would produce my own reality show,
    That swears even more than “Jersey Shore”!
    Then Trump and I would get in a drunken brawl!
    I’d get corrupted by the power and fame,
    And Helen would love me all the more!
    And that would be the sweetest thing of all!

    If I had a million,
    Moolah boolah boolah moolah boolah boolah moolah moo,
    I would blow it in a year or two,
    If I were a millionaire!
    I’d …
    Soon be broke and homeless!
    Moolah boolah boolah moolah boolah boolah moolah moo!
    From my fame and status I would fall!
    That would be a lesson to you all!
    Oprah Winfrey might return my call …
    If I had a million bucks!

  23. @Tiff; Well, until you remember what Artie actually did with his money!  At which point big gorillas start to look pretty harmless.

  24. tune: “Ten Minutes Ago I Saw You,” Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II, Cinderella, 1957

    Ten minutes ago I saw you
    I arrived at the grant-awards site
    She hoped I would ram her
    But fixing her grammar
    Has brought us together tonight

    Ten minutes ago, I met you
    Antonio Smith, how’d you do?
    We’re talking linguistics
    I need some heuristics:
    I’m strangely attracted to you

    Though you’re short and
    Almost hairless
    You’re a man I could talk to all day
    Suddenly, I
    Want to wear less . . .
    Oh, good heavens, I think that I’m gay!

    In the bar we discuss Noam Chomsky
    As I feel an ever-growing yen
    And I like it so well
    Even Zeta can tell
    She may never get laid again
    Unless she sets her sights on stupid men

  25. I can’t be the only person who thinks this whole strip is just adorable. Antonio Smith and Artie’s enthusiasm, Zeta’s crestfallen expression…

  26. “So I says to Noam, I says…” is pretty much standard English in parts of the county where I grew up. The verb is pronounced, and often spelled, like a Shriner hat.

  27. With the (somewhat dubious) benefit of additional experience, I just want to say about Saturday’s strip:

    That’s very prescriptivistic of you in the second panel, gentlemen.

  28. “So I sez to Mabel” etc. apparently originates in the Great Gatsby, as exactly this, a sample of interrupted conversation with no precedent or antecedent. At which point it is much closer to common American English than it is when the Simpsons used it. I’d first heard it in a production of “On the Town”, so it’s been picked up more than once.

  29. “Bring” vs. “Take” makes me wonder about bad grammar and grammar police in other languages.

    For example, in Japanese, kureru means “(you/they/outgroup) give (me/us/ingroup) something”, while morau means “(I/we/ingroup) receive something from (you/them/outgroup)”. This is if anything more finicky than bring/take, as both of them involve you getting something from someone else. Is this one of the places Japanese people slip up and get snobbishly corrected by gramma nerds on? Or is this super obvious and the real confusions are somewhere else?

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