Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Food, Glorious Food (or The One With the Missing Strip)

Nostalgia. Ostensibly, it's what this blog is all about. The sense of longing for the past, thinking about the good memories that make you say "I remember back in my day..." (although I don't think I'm quite to that point, yet). There are many things that can produce a sense of nostalgia, whether it's an old television program, a song, a photograph, or even a smell. In fact, smell is one the most powerful triggers of memories. It's so prevalent, that there are actually a number of different words and phrases that refer to it, such as odor memory, olfactory memory, and redolent.

As I'm thinking back on growing up, the scents that trigger memories are most often associated with food, or at least food preparation. 

In the summer, while we lived on the family farm, there were a number of gardens on the property. Grandpa planted everything, from potatoes to strawberries to cucumbers. Whatever wasn't eaten fresh (which was quite a lot, to be honest) was either frozen or canned. The canning process produced many scent memories for me. The vinegar used to pickle the cucumbers to the heating of the filled jars to produce the required seal filled the summer kitchen with familiar smells every year. To this day, the smell of dill sends me back to those times, with my grandma and mom working in the hot kitchen to ensure that nothing from the garden went to waste.

When you're feeding a family, you have to make the dollars stretch, and while using veg from the garden certainly helped, not everything could be grown. You need to get your meat from somewhere. Ground beef was a staple, certainly, but an even more notable smell reminds me of those days: Spam. Before it was associated with unwanted email, it was a common main course at the dinner table. Smelling almost like ham, but not quite, it was actually quite good, if a bit on the salty side. Mixed with mayonnaise, it made a great cold salad spread for bread. Even today, there's still a part of me that craves that World War II-era product.

In the interest of stretching food to feed a family, mom would mix the ground beef with bread to make a Danish dish called frikadeller. It was about this time that mom started cooking with the microwave. The appliance had been around for some time, but had recently become more affordable. And the convenience of putting a dish in and cooking it with little or no attention required was certainly a boon to busy people needing to multi-task. While I always craved the smell and taste of a 100% beef patty, frikadeller fed us quite well growing up.

There are so many other smells that trigger sense memories today. The smell of frozen cardboard triggers the memory of the office of one of the hog farms we grew up on. The smell of lilacs tiggers memories of the family farm and the lilac tree that grew there. But food smells are definitely the most powerful. And they are something that I will hold on to for the rest of my life.

Strip 95/166 - Guess who's baaaaack?

Is the whole "complicated dialog simplified for the simpleton" getting old? Obviously I didn't think so, since I kept coming back to it so often.

Speaking of coming back to things, our favorite Admiral is back once again to harass our heroes. In the first frame, I was going for a "opening of Star Wars"-type, ship passing overhead towards the planet-type shot, but the aspect of the ship overhead turned out a bit wonky. But it's always good to try new things.

Strip 96/166 - Something, something, something, better fool.

Speaking of coming back to things... I think I had a tendency to rely on call-backs a bit too much. They can be a fun trope, but they do rely on the reader to have something of a familiarity with the history of the strips to really pay off. Otherwise, they just don't land right.

Strip 97/166 - Caption missing

In the history of the strip, there are two missing comics. One was never published, as we'll get to that soon. But this one was actually published. 


When I started the strip, we were keeping each edition of the Kiester Courier-Sentinel as they came out each week, for the sole reason of keeping a copy of each published comic. Over time, these papers started taking more and more room in the closet in which they were being kept, and at some point we made the decision to just cut the comics out of the papers (with the exception of a few other items, like the small article blurb in the first issue) and discard the rest. Unfortunately, during the course of this process, we realized that we had missed an issue. I don't know if it was too late to get a back issue of the paper, or if we just didn't think of trying that, but we just came to terms with the fact that there was going to be a missing strip.

So, there it is. The basic gist of the missing strip is as follows: the Admiral comes upon a hill, with Furble, FC, and their new friends located on the other side. He comes up with the Wile E. Coyote-esque plan of rolling a boulder down the hill to squash them. As the boulder hits the top of the hill, it instead rolls back down and squishes the Admiral. Hilarity ensues. End scene.

Maybe someday I will redraw it.

Strip 98/166 - Just call me Sisyphus

Maybe it's time for another plan. This one seems to be letting the Admiral down.

You know what never lets you down? Food. And nostalgia. See you next week!

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