Monday, May 24, 2010

Today's Cul de Sac


Today's strip features a musical in-joke so obscure and unfunny I'm ashamed of myself, and if you got it you should be too. Alice's four and a half minutes of lost time refers to a famous/infamous piece by the American Zen master composer John Cage, who investigated lots of sounds including silence. It's called 4'33", which is how long the performer is instructed to sit without playing anything; this makes the audience aware of the ambient sounds of the performing space, especially if somebody's stomach gurgles, or worse. And I figure Alice, as a 4 year old, places some significance on the number 4 and a half as that's her next step up.

14 comments:

chris said...

This is really a masterpiece RT. Perfect!

Evan "Doc" Shaner said...

4'33" was kind of a legend back in college in the music school. And as a guy who was constantly called out for his poor piano posture, I completely sympathize with Kevin. Great strip, Richard!

Mike Peterson said...

Oh, I'd have gotten it if she'd said, "Four minutes and thirty-three seconds ... "

Really. Run the strip again, only have her say it that way, and watch me get it.

(Actually, I'd heard of the piece but didn't know its title. Or duration. Or that it was purple.)

joe said...

I'm even more impressed than when I found out you read Danish

Kid Shay said...

Is this the first syndicated strip to employ a John Cage reference? Or was that Garfield?

Ronnie said...

Is this the one where someone waves a white flag?

Jesse C said...

I didn't realize his name was Kevin, but that is one of my favorite characters. I love his square, neckless head and torso.

Paul said...

thank you thank you thank you. of course, it would have been nice if I HAD gotten it, but beggars can't be choosers. the sad thing is, I've actually heard that piece performed. well, of course I could also say I've performed that piece myself, just without a piano. or that I'm performing it now, just with a computer keyboard. except without Kevin's admirable posture. but you know what I mean.

richardcthompson said...

Glad to hear all this; it seems to have worked better than I thought. So next up, a Morton Feldman joke!

Ted Dawson said...

But, hey, it's funny even if you don't get it! Who else can say that about their comics?

I did one a few years ago with an obscure reference to Petaluma from a Peanuts strip that I'm pretty sure Nobody got besides me. Strangely, to me that made it even funnier.

fritzoid said...

The Cage gag works so well because the strip is funny enough without it; if you recognize it, fantastic! If you miss it, you wouldn't even be aware that there's anything to miss.

In the Gravedigger Scene in Hamlet, the Clown's repeated use of the word "argal" works on the surface as a malapropism of "ergo", but it works on a second, buried level (which is more than appropriate, considering the speaker) if you know that John Argall was a famed Elizabethan logician.

Four hundred years from now, when the scholarly editions of Cul de Sac are being produced, the 4'33" gag will make a great annotation, but the strip itself won't feel "dated" by the reference.

Amber Gail said...

I consider myself ashamed.

Funny strip!!

Paul said...

If Amber Gail's middle name is "Roxanne," then she's A.R. Gail.

here today, gone tomorrow said...

I wish I could *quadruple like* this.