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Sunday, February 10, 2013

One for the Funny Papers

In the past week, I've learned three surprising things about the funny papers, specifically how they influenced life outside of the funny papers.

Sadie Hawkins
We never had Sadie Hawkins Day dances at my high school, mostly because I went to a girls' school. I mean, you could sit around waiting for one of the boys at school, but you'd be waiting a while. Also, is that actually a thing that happens anyplace besides sit-coms? Because it seems awfully silly for the school to sanction who asks whom to a dance. But what would I know about dances? I went to my prom stag and in overalls.
They were adorable. And no, they are not why my boyfriend wouldn't go with me. Okay, yes they were. But, I ended up taking a way hotter date to the prom than if he had gone with me. But at least my date didn't discover he'd left his wallet at home halfway through dinner (like he actually did for his Homecoming dance).
Anyway, Sadie Hawkins, according to the Li'l Abner comic strip, was "the homliest gal in all them hills." Her father Hekzebia didn't want his daughter to be a spinster, so he hosted an event in which Sadie chased after all of the town's bachelors. If she caught one, he was legally required to marry her. The official Li'l Abner website tells me that the dance is about female empowerment. And here I thought we had to burn our bras.

*#@!$ Off, You Stinking &#$%@
My mom recently suggested that I try to be a lit more circumspect with the swearing on my blog. She was not pleased to know that I thought I was being circumspect. Okay, so I've got a bit of a mouth on me, but seriously, there are far worse things a preacher's kid could grow up and do.

If, however, I wanted to swear without offending my mom, I might try using something like $&#*. According to, this fanciful euphemism first appeared in Rudolph Dirks' The Katzenjammer Kids. Equally fanciful names for the string of characters include obscenicon (coined by blogger Benjamin Zimmer) and grawlix coined by Mort Walker. How is grawlix not a Pokemon?
I tend to agree with Mark Nichol of Daily Writing Tips with regard to swearing. He says:
Ultimately, the question any purveyor of prose must answer is, where do you draw the line? Certain four-letter words are either acceptable or anathema. But what about minor league profanity: hell, damn, and the like? If you prohibit these words in your publication, what about heck, darn, and gosh, which are all merely disguised forms of literally profane profanity? What about effing or bleep? Everyone knows what each means or could mean. Why permit euphemisms or evasive explications? Don’t you risk offending readers or site visitors who resent such coy conjurings intended to wink-and-nudge them about what you might otherwise have explicitly stated?
But then Mark Nichol doesn't have my mom for a mom, and I kind of owe her some consideration all I put her through during my high school and college years.

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