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Tag Archives: Gerber

The American Restroom Association

5 Jan

January 5, 2012

A brilliant philosopher once said to me “heated toilet seats are like a gift from the gods. I really wish that they were the norm in all places of poop.”  Frankly I have no idea why she said that. We were standing together by a quiet lake, moonlight glittering on the water, my arms around her, when all of a sudden she came out with that. Totally ruined the mood.

But she has a point. My love life aside, (and what better metaphor for anyone’s love life than a toilet?), when you stop and think about it, what relationship is more important than a man and his toilet? And a woman and her toilet? Doubly so. Let’s be honest. Put a guy in the middle of a forest, in the back of a military cargo plane, or in the audience of his daughter’s third-grade recital, if he has to go, he’s going, toilet be damned. Women are a bit fussier. Hence the wish for heated poop seats by my romantic philosopher friend.

And lest you think I made that quote up, I did not. How did I ever let a woman like that get away?

What sparked my decidedly non-romantic and slightly gross reverie was this little nugget from News of the Weird. Lately the more I watch the network news the more I think I prefer NotW.

In poker, a full house beats a flush, but on a crowded airplane with a broken toilet, a flush beats a full house every time.

We’ve all been there. Broken toilets, no toilets, toilets that look like a burly mountain man eviscerated a grizzly bear in the bowl. We’ve hated it, we’ve complained, we’ve yelled, we’ve thrown things, we’ve resisted arrest, we’ve- what? Sorry, strike that last part. Broken toilets and a big crowd? It’s Lord of the Flies time. But of all the ways of dealing with a lack of toilets, I daresay that none of us gotten involved with a toilet advocacy group. However, I did just that and dove into the cesspool of the internet to do so.

Who would speak for the toilet-less? Who would be the voice of the incontinent? Who would have really funny business cards?

These guys.

Yep, that basic Power Point cell belongs to the American Restroom Association, and if you want to see more basic and simplistic Power Point, hop on over and see for yourself. (And if you happen to be web developer, they can use you.) I checked out their site and expected to find links to bulk toilet paper warehouses or debates on the merits of hard vs. soft toilet seats but I was doomed to be disappointed. This is a very serious organization. They have a mission statement. All serious organizations have mission statements. The Boy Scouts have a mission statement. China has a mission statement. Even Vice President Joe Biden has a mission statement, but he just copied it from some Senator who used to sit next to him a few years back. Check it out the ARA mission statement:

Wow, they’ve really got it going on. They used bullet points and everything. This is a real-deal bunch. One of their goals is to “communicate with other similar associations around the world.” I have no idea if there are any (though I bet France has one) but the site does have a message board so I surfed over to their discussion thread (there is only one) and did some heavy reading. The forum was very surprising.

Frankly, I was surprised that anyone used it at all.

But the site does feature some important information. For instance, do you know what a restroom is? Or what a pay toilet is? Oh, I am sure most of you think you do, heck; many of you may be sitting on one as you read this, but I for one felt just a little ignorant after reading their definitions.

Not only do I finally know the official definition of a public restroom (I always wanted to know!) but I also know that a pay toilet requires a fee and that the US government has its collective head stuck in a toilet for coming up with a code for that. Seriously, our tax dollars, flushed away.

The site is full of important and vital information, I suspect, though I seem to have missed all of it. Maybe there was another Power Point?
And why couldn’t they use a bigger font? I hope whoever designed this thing knows his toilets better than his html.

All evidence to the contrary aside, the ARA is robust organization. Look at their upcoming events:

I am really bummed that I missed World Toilet Day 2011, but in my house every day is Toilet Day. Honestly, can you imagine a day without a toilet? My mind shudders with the horror. And I want to find out more about the World Toilet Summit. It sounds like the perfect place to host the first annual Mr. Blog’s Tepid Con. Let’s book a hotel now! But where to hold it? Flushing Queens comes to mind.

However, I do not want you think that I am making fun of this issue. “Places of poop” is a serious matter. Check out this piece of “poop culture:”

I’ve heard of manna from heaven, but manure?

Who doesn’t dream of turning his own feces into gold? For centuries, alchemists sought ways of turning lead into gold, why not shit? Face it, none of us has any lead just lying around, but nobody runs out of human waste. All that waste just flushed into the cesspool, septic tank, the ocean, or some kid’s wading pool depending on what municipal regulation you are flouting. Why let some stranger turn your crap into gold when you can do it yourself?

Is it just me, or does it often seem that the stupider people are, the more ingenious they try to be? Sure, this fool could have stayed home, mystified by the bright lights on his television set, but his animal cunning, and likely animal-level IQ, led him to save his poop and dry it on a space heater. Is it really so stupid? Even if he never made a single ingot of gold, he had a really cool composting program going on. Too bad he lived in a fifth floor apartment.

I attempted to contact the American Restroom Association for their opinion on turning poop into gold but unbelievably they never got back to me. They must be very busy gearing up for January 17th, International Quilted Toilet Paper Day. The highlight of the festivities will be the unveiling of the world’s largest roll of toilet paper in Czechoslovakia. The first sheet will be ceremonially pulled off the roll by none other than Honorary ARA International Ambassador Regis Philbin, schedule permitting.

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The Saturday Comics: Howard the Duck

18 Jun

June 18, 2011

If Mr. Blog’s Tepid Ride has an underlying theme or philosophy, it is that “life’s most serious moments and most incredibly dumb moments are often distinguishable only by a momentary point of view.” I’d love to boldly lie and take credit for that but I can’t, it was said by Steve Gerber, the late creator of Howard the Duck.

The blog actually does have a tagline, “an absurd look at the absurdities of this absurd world” and if you want to know what Howard the Duck would think of that, check out his first appearance from 1973’s Adventure into Fear #19. (Yes, he actually debuted in a melodramatically titled horror comic.)

He then moved to the comic whose title has launched a million lousy jokes, Giant-Size Man-Thing, and then, mercifully, to his own title in 1976.

However, outside of the comics world, and very often inside, Howard the Duck is better known for the atrocious 1986 film starring Lea Thompson. It was a Lucasfilm production and I’d say George Lucas should be ashamed of himself, but he went on to make The Phantom Menace so it is quite clear that the man has no shame.

For those of you who don’t know Howard, here is a brief wiki-duction:

Howard the Duck, as his name suggests, is a three-foot-tall anthropomorphic duck. He generally wears a tie and shirt, and is almost always found smoking a cigar. Originally, like many cartoon ducks, he wore no pants; Disney threatened legal action due to Howard’s resemblance to Donald Duck, and Marvel redesigned that aspect of the character. [They stuck some pants on him. –ye old editor, Mr. Blog]

Howard has an irritable and cynical attitude to the often bizarre events around him; he feels there is nothing special about him except that he is a duck, and though he has no goals other than seeking comfort and to be left alone, he is often dragged into dangerous adventures simply because he is visibly unusual. His series’ tagline, “Trapped in a world he never made”, played off  the genre trappings of 1950s science fiction. A common reaction to meeting Howard the first time is a startled, “You…you’re a DUCK!”

Howard’s adventures are generally social satires, while a few are parodies of genre fiction with a metafictional awareness of the medium. This is diametrically opposed to screenwriter Gloria Katz, who in adapting the comic to the screen declared, “It’s a film about a duck from outer space… It’s not supposed to be an existential experience”.

There is no relation to Pierre D. Duck.

Howard’s adventures tended to favor the more literate fans:

Seemingly an autodidact, Howard at various times references Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Albert Camus (whose novel The Stranger Gerber considers the principal influence on the series), the Brontë sisters, and other figures of philosophical and political significance.

If you’ll pardon my cynicism, that’s probably why today he is mainly a cult character and not more popular or well-known. Even the newspaper strip lasted only about a year, replaced by the much more popular Incredible Hulk, whose movie franchise is only slightly better than Howard the Duck. The strips below were thankfully not based on the lousy movie but came out almost a decade earlier, based on the comic and it was written by Steve Gerber himself before some disputes (which tended to dog him when it came to Howard the Duck) arose between him and Marvel, and comic veteran and legend Marv Wolfman took over scripting duties.

Rarely seen now, these strips were rarely seen even when in production since the series was picked up by only a handful of newspapers. Enjoy!

by Steve Gerber and co-creator Val Mayerik

by Steve Gerber and the legendary Gene Colan

by Marv Wolfman and Alan Kupperberg

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