“Fire Water” is primarily a capella and percussion (with interesting clicks and shakers and even a guy whispering “ahhh.” A few bass notes enter near the end, but other wise it I a very stark song.
“Miles Da Millas” is dedicated to a fiend of a friend who died recently. He loved Tony Desk Concerts. Whenever someone mentioned a new band he would say “But do they have a Tiny Desk?” So this make Gina feel like she’s made it This song, a cumbia, is bilingual with the chorus in Spanish. And her voice is just as strong if not more so in Spanish. It’s fun when the percussionist yells and whoops and overall its a nice groovy song. It’s a little weird that she hums a trumpet (quite well, admittedly) when there is an actual trumpet player in the band. They take turns so I guess it’s kind of duet.
When introducing the final song, she says spent 8 months in El Salvador doing mission work teaching English in an all girls’ school. Things are really bad down there, so she started a college scholarship fund called Niñas Arriba. This song “Siete-D” is about a wild ride on the 7D bus from Soyapongo to San Salvador. Soyapongo is the home of the MS13 gang, the place where guide books tell you not to go.
It’s a fun song (sung entirely in Spanish) with a cool “Sube! Hey! ho!” chant. It’s a bouncy song with some great trumpet work. There’s even a rap in Spanish
[READ: September 9, 2016] The Complete Peanuts 1987-1988
I felt like after the major highs of the last few books, this one fell into a bit of a repetitive pattern. This is not to say there weren’t memorable moments in the book, but there were a lot of variations on a similar jokes (especially with Spike in the desert–how many different ways can you make a joke about a cactus looking like a person with his arms up? About fifty, I guess).
But perhaps it seems like things have changed because On 1-11 1987, that heading that has been there for so long–the hand-drawn looking “Peanuts featuring Good Ol’ Charlie Brown” had been replaced by a computer-generated font that just says “Peanuts.” It also felt like the drawings looked different somehow–thicker lines, somewhat less polished? And in July of 1988 it seems like Snoopy looks rather different. His ears are much smaller for one thing. That seems to go away though. But it’s some time round here or maybe even in a previous book that Schulz started drawing circles for eyes on Snoopy from time to time–mostly to express distress or angry. But Snoopy is meant to have dots or sixes for eyes–the circles always look weird. And sometime they look poorly drawn, if I may say so. Especially on October 12 1988 (he’s supposed to look aggrieved, but they still look sloppy for Schulz).
And then, a huge shock to the system! The daily strips go from 4 panels to 3. Three panels! What gives? Is it because many of his fourth panels didn’t really have a punchline so much as a commentary on the punchline? It’s mind blowing! After thirty some years, he is finally messing with the format!
But I loved the way 1987 started with Snoopy giving Woodstock a calendar with beagles on it. The next day Snoopy finds the calendar in the garbage because Woodstock “wanted to try out his new wastebasket.”
Despite my feeling like Spike was overused an a bit exhausted, I got a kick out of the joke that “sometimes you can find markings that were probably made a million years ago” and the graffiti says Kilroy was Here (of all the things he could have picked, that’s a funny/odd one for 1987.” In June of 1988, Spike’s handwriting suddenly improves and is much easier to read.
There’s very brief sequence in which Spike believes that the summer Olympics will be in Needles instead of Korea but it doesn’t really pan out to much.
I do enjoy that Shulz was still introducing new characters (with varying degrees of return) this year. Like the girl (whose name changes all the time) who thinks that Linus is too old for her. He was born in October; she was born in December. The punchline is repeated quite a lot but the variations are pretty funny, especially as it changes to “aren’t you kind of weird for me?” Her real name is Lydia and she returns in December although every day she says her name is something different–this all drives Linus insane. He wants to send her a Christmas Card but she won’t give him her address. He sends one to the fake address she gave him and it comes back. And then he receives one from her and says “I’ve been out-Christmasted!!” Lydia returns in the summer of 1988 and Linus takes her out for a date but she ends the date by saying “I don’t find you very interesting.”
In February of 1987 Snoopy becomes a world-famous surgeon (I don’t recall seeing this character before). He is mostly paired with Linus in these strips, with Linus asking him lots of questions about being a doctor (which mostly end with jokes about golf).
I don’t spend a lot of time talking about Snoopy and his WWI stuff because I don’t really like it, but I did get a kick out of the sequence where he and his troops are searching for Fort Zinderneuf (which was in the film Beau Geste)and wind up going through all of the sand traps on a golf course (which Charlie has to rake).
But there’s still some one-off strips that I find very funny. Like Charlie and Linus asking a man “Hey Mister how do you know how high to build a house?” He answers, “The first thing you do is count to see how many nails you have.” Linus notes, “Never banter with an old carpenter.” Or this one between Patty and Marcie. Now that women can join the rotary club, Marcie asks what they do at Rotary, “I think they have lunch and insult each other.” “We’d fit right in, wouldn’t we, sir?”
I also really love the Sunday strip in March of 1988 where Linus and Charlie are talking and Linus says that suddenly last week he put the right shoe on first. “Every day this week I’ve been putting my right shoe first. And you know what? It hasn’t changed my life a bit.”
There’s a lot of baseball of course, with spring training starting in the snow this year. On May 2nd there’s a joke about Woodstock being a farmer, driving his tractor over the pitchers mound, which I think we’ve seen before. Joe Garagiola keeps popping up. Sally was going to write a report on him but doesn’t know who he was. When the team loses in 1988, Charlie says they should cheer to show they are good sports. After the “2 4 6 8 who do we appreciate” cheer, Lucy adds her own cheer: “One, Two, Three, ya;ll hear / just wait till next year.”
There’s one hockey joke in October when Charlie says some friends had a new baby. They are huge hockey fans and thought about naming their baby after Gordie Howe or Bobby Hull or Wayne Gretzky but they finally called him Zamboni. Later Marcie tells Sally that her grandpa is sixty-five and he plays hockey. But Snoopy got an injury playing hockey and was going to have knee surgery until the doctors realized that dogs don’t have knees.
In February 1988 Snoopy says he completed a triathlon yesterday: he ate a doughnut, a pizza and a hot fudge sundae.
There’s some football although my favorite joke is Marcie calling it the Splendid Bowl.
When Sally is writing a book report about Tess of the d’Urbevilles she says the book was written by Laurel N. Hardy.
Patty’s teacher gets a good joke in when Patty realizes that the ink from her math book has come off on her hands the teacher jokes (through Marcie repeating it, of course) “That’s the first time you ever got anything from your math book.”
In April 1987 Peppermint Patty is told to pose for a class picture. She says she’s never done that before. Marcie tells her “just do what everybody does when a camera is pointed at them.” Patty jumps up and shouts “we’re number one.” Marcie retorts “I think it’s called media conditioning, sir.”
I May of 1987 Patty is nominated for May Queen (she wears flowers in her hair), but she loses it to someone else because she is sleeping at her desk.
We get a bunch of mispronounced words like Patty saying her dad likes his coffee “decapitated.” And I love when Schulz just makes up a phrase to be silly about: Lucy Brings Charlie some water from the fountain carried in her baseball mitt and he says “I don’t really care for leather water.” In April 1988 Lucy calls Charlie a Noggerhead and says she read it in an old book. In August 1988, Lucy says that her grandpa has six children: “and he says that this fall there will be three more applying for life” Charlie says, “Your grandpa has a way with words.”
In May 1987 Lucy tries to teach Rerun how to snap but it only comes out as snip. He finally gets it right, but Snoopy is not impressed (I rather enjoy when Snoopy acts like a dog).
Franklin gets a few appearances, mostly to talk about his grandpa (lots of grandpas in these later books, Schulz must be a grandpa by now). Franklin says his grandpa wants to know :”why s he older now than people he used to think were old.”
Snoopy has of course been writing this whole time, and in one joke Lucy tells him to “just take a famous fairy tale and change it a little…they all do it.”
In October, 1988 a new bird joins Snoopy’s troop. His name is Raymond and he is “dark skinned”
My favorite food joke is when Charlie offers Snoopy some coleslaw “I chopped up some cabbage and few carrots, a couple of onions and mixed in some dressing.” Snoopy says, “Forget it. I never eat anything that has to be explained.”
There were quite a lot of pop culture jokes in this book. In March of 1987, Woodstock is wearing leg warmers. In April, Snoopy talks about his aerobics class. In June of 1987 Lucy says they are starting a neighborhood watch. Schulz seems to throw in a Mickey Mouse joke once a decade or so, this time Charlie says Snoopy would look ridiculous swearing Mickey Mouse shoes. In July 1987 Snoopy is on a skateboard (for just that one strip). In August, Snoopy asks Who did you think I was, Teddy Ruxpin? In October 1987 Snoopy says he refuses to enter a “Spuds Mackenzie look-alike contest.” In May of 1988 a boy has a boombox and snoopy complains that it’s too loud. In June of 1988 Snoopy makes a fax machine joke. In August 1988 Sally ends a punchline with “four wheel drive pick up commercials.” In August 1988 Snoopy says “Who do you think I am, Crocodile Dundee?” And in September 1988 Snoopy is wearing a Walkman.
In July 1987 Patty and Marcie go to camp and Marcie calls Charles to says “were going to miss you. We love you.” This gives Charlie a big silly grin. Marcie spends most of her time at camp pining for Charlie. When Marcie finally gets back and asks Charles if he missed her, he talks about his cereal. So she kicks him in the shin. In March of 1986, Marcie addresses Charlie Brown. She tells Charlie that she has always been fond of him, “Well, once I was fond of you but then I wasn’t. But then I was again. There must be a word for it. Refond!”
This also gives Schulz a chance to introduce some new little kids. Sophie who calls Patty “Ma’am” (Patty is reduced to repeating “Don’t call me Ma’am,” just like she used to do with Sir and Marcie. Schulz gets a lot of jokes out of Sophie jumping into things and saying “Here I go!” Another girl is Clara who asks if the lake is real or plastic. Later some other new kids come over wanting to play football. It’s actually three kids under a helmet. One is called Leland. We never actually see them though.
Patty and Marcie are still going to musical performances. This time it’s a new piece for conductors who like to challenge their listeners. Patty asks “Boring is challenging?” And in November 1988 she has her best concert because she got to be an usher “Sit where I tell you or I’ll break all your arms.”
In the 1987 Great Pumpkin joke, Sally comes with him and instead of calling him Sweet Babboo, calls him “Punkin.” I always get a kick out of the dentist jokes. Lucy is going to the dentist and asks if Linus wants to give her a good luck kiss and he says “Nope I don’t want to catch your cavities.”
In 1988, Sally updates her philosophy. It used to be “who cares” but now it’s “don’t blame me.” She makes it complete: “What Do I Know? Who Cares? Don’t blame me!”
Charlie gets closer and closer to contact with the little red-haired girl. In February of 1988 he is spying on her and his mittens get frozen to the tree. Then she sees the mittens (we don’t see her) and picks them up “My mittens are doing better than I am.”
Over the years there have been some kite-eating tree jokes. My favorite was in March 1988 when Woodstock was also flying a kite and a tiny tree ate it. Charlie says “I hate to admit it, but I just saw sometime that made me feel real good,.”
Snoopy hasn’t done the suppertime dance in ages and Charlie Brown (in a single long panel) points this out to him “You used to dance up and down and all around when it was suppertime.” Snoopy says, “There’s always somebody ready to remind you of the dumb things you did when you were young.”
I also get a kick out of Snoopy and Woodstock arguing. Snoopy makes a jokes about a farmer who wants to raise brown sheep so he could have “chocolate sheep cookies.” Woodstock suggests “Chocolate ‘cheep’ cookies” and starts laughing but Snoopy says “Bird jokes aren’t as funny.”
It seems like Schulz is getting mildly political, (although it has kind of always been there). Patty asks Lucy if they have prayer in her school. Lucy says no but they had us observe a moment of silence. Schulz diffuses any politics by having Patty asks How did that work. “It almost killed me.”
In March 1988 Sally brings in a “Praying Doll” whose hands are sewn together. She gets sent to the principal to talk about separation of church and state, but Schulz has a ton of fun with that. The kid after Sally has a rocket launcher and Sally whaps the kid with the doll saying “How do you like my new praying doll launcher.” Then about separation of church and state she says she doesn’t know what that is but “if that kid with the rocket launcher pushes me again, I’ll separate his head from his neck.”
In December of 1988 Sally is told to write a Christmas play but she writes in Geronimo instead of Gabriel. After getting the actor to stop being mad about not playing an Indian (we do see him in a headdress) the school board has cancelled the play. Sally moans the season: “We have nothing. No Christmas play, no Christmas tree, no Christmas carols, no Christmas cookies. Just a math test on read and green paper.” Finally they decide they can have a Christmas play as long as there’s no religion in it, so Geronimo is back!
In Marcie and Patty’s Christmas play, Patty is a sheep but forgets her lines: “Woof. Meow. Moo. Whatever.”
And my favorite joke of all. After a series of mistakes with Charlie trying to get Snoopy a dog license the final panel is “Yes, ma’am we got the new dog license. We also got a driver’s license and a fishing license… then he turns to snoopy and says, “No, she says you don’t need a license for that,” and you see Snoopy holding a machine gun.
In November, Patty says “stop calling me sir” and Marcie leans in ans says “Sir! Sir!Sir! Sir! Sir!” and they get in a huge fight and get sent to the principal. Marcie says, “That was kind of fun wasn’t, it sir? Ever since I got up this morning I’ve been on sort of a high.”
When she pulls the ball away in 1988 there’s no words except for the final panel: “It so sad. Eventually everything in life just becomes routine.”
And if we want to get sad for a minute, in 1987 when Lucy pull the football away, she says that she has time to try again in November. Charlie says “November will be fine…in the year 2000”. It’s sad because Schulz never got to make a Football joke in 2000.
But don’t end on a sad note. In the final panel of December 1988 Charlie says A new year is interesting because we’ll probably hear things and see things we’ve never seen before and the next panel shows a tiny hot air balloon filled with all the Woodstock-looking birds floating through the air.
Garry Trudeau wrote the intro for this book. He talks about two newspaper writers saying that they wrote scores of columns condemning the Vietnam war but didn’t make the slightest bit of difference. The other agrees and says the only two people who ever made a difference were Bill Mauldin and Charles Schulz. Snoopy has been talking about Bill Mauldin for years–the guy he visits on Veterans Day. I had no idea he was a real person and can’t believe I never looked him up. Mauldin wrote about the dangerous lives of WWII soldiers and Schulz was a Pvt who loved Mauldin for giving them laughter when they needed it most.
Trudeau then says that although Schulz would never admit it, he also made a difference, with the first postmodern comic strip. It was graphically austere but beautifully nuanced. Schulz often passed up punch lines in favor of aphorisms and little throwaway codas–literary devices rarely seen in a gag-oriented medium.
He concludes, on the surface the strip was a bout people with big dreams who never give up hope, but the pain of sustaining that joke shows everywhere. He then lists strips where the Peanuts influence is all over it (including Doonesbury).