Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Sports, Rockets, and Thought Balloons

I was never very good at sports. This is an indisputable fact. Although my dad didn't really pressure me into them, he did want me to at least give them a try. He was a wrestler in school, so that was one of the sports that I did end up trying while I was in junior high. While I enjoyed the process, I was not a good wrestler. I just didn't have the dedication that it would have taken to be a good wrestler. There were too many other things that I wanted to be doing with my time. Most had to do with computers or music. Wrestling simply wasn't on that list.

We were forced to do track and field events in PE. I ran the mile in... well... I'll let you know when I finish. I did a fair job at the shot put. But, my true contributions to the sports world lie in being an equipment manager, a scoreboard operator, and a member of a variety of pep and marching bands. And, once I got to college, producing sports for broadcast. I do, however, enjoy spectating a wide variety of sports. Being from Minnesota, hockey is one of my favorites, but I also enjoy a good game of football. 

Strip 25/166 - Punt into orbit? Not likely.

I'm not sure what clicked in my brain when I decided to have Furble and FC try to hitch a ride off-planet on a football, but the visual of them flying through the air down-field after a kickoff struck me as funny, so there it is.

Obviously, our heroes aren't making it into orbit on a pigskin punt, and a cleated shoe to the backside probably left a bruise, but at least the got to take in a game, right?

Strip 26/166 - Finally, a ride home?

When I was growing up, my brother and I were members of an organization called 4-H. It is a kids organization, similar to the Scouts, and was at the time, at least, primarily for those of us in rural areas. While many of the activities in 4-H centered around more farm-related pursuits, there were clubs for things like computers and rocketry. I was involved with both. I've since made computers my career, but I really have a love for rockets. While I was never truly artistic when it came to decorating my model rockets, I did enjoy building them and launching them. Seeing something that you built fly up into the air and (hopefully) come safely sailing down on a parachute was just awesome. Of course, the failures had their own spectacular allure, as well, which included at least one (small) explosion on the launch pad, and a rocket driven into the ground when the ejection charge fired, but the nose cone failed to separate from the fuselage.

It only makes sense, then, that our duo would finally make it off-world on a rocket. In the 80s, the NASA space program was all about the space shuttle, so manned rocket launches were virtually nonexistent, which meant that this particular launch was likely for satellite delivery into orbit. Obviously, even if it was manned, it wasn't going to make it to where ever Furble's home planet was located, but they didn't know that.

Strip 27/166 - An unexpected exit

The continuation was loosely inspired by The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, specifically when Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect find themselves ejected into deep space from the Vogon fleet. Fortunately, and perhaps inexplicably, Furble can exist in the vacuum of space (FC is a robot, after all). Who knew?

Strip 28/166 - Space is a busy place

I want to take a moment and address something that I have yet to talk about: the fact that Furble and FC communicate with thought balloons. If you will remember, the original idea for doing Furble was sparked by the comic strip Garfield. In that strip, while Jon and the other humans used regular speech balloons for all of their dialog, Garfield and all of the animals communicated with the audience and each other using thought balloons. Obviously, this is because animals don't talk. At least, not to us. The easiest way to convey to the audience that Jon can't hear what Garfield and Nermal are saying is to use thought balloons. 

I don't recall why this translated to Furble in the way that it did. Perhaps it was to indicate that Furble and FC were using a language that no one on Earth, at least not humans, could understand. As a teenager, I certainly wasn't equipped to create a new language (I was having enough of an issue learning Spanish in school). But I don't believe I had put that much thought into it.

I bring it up, because it will soon become an issue, as our intrepid explorers make their way back home. But we'll need to round the bases first...

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