You may recall that Doonesbury was never my favorite comic strip.
We used to publish it before The Washington Star kidnaped it from us.
A cult had grown up around the strip. One who attacks unpopular people, institutions or concepts is, automatically regarded as a wit in some quarters. People love people who hate the same people they hate.
Doonesbury is forever on the attack, so I did a little attacking of my own. I said I didn't think the strip was as clever as its cultists claimed. It has occasional good days, but also a lot of duds.
It is vicious, and about as subtle as being run over by a cement truck. But it is not really witty. When we published it, I lumped it with the other unfunny funnies I complain about.
After Doonesbury obtained, a quickie divorce from The Post, a strange thing happened to one of its characters. He lost his job and identification as a Post employe.
Before the kidnaping, the investigative reporter was always "Rick Redfern over at The Post." Afer the move, Redfern was held prisoner in cartoonist Trudeau's ink bottle. It was rumored that he would be rubbed out and never appear again. There was also speculation that he would be renamed "Sid Jetstream over at The Star." Both stories proved false. Redfern has finally come back, but now his name is more often Rick than Rick Redfern and there's no mention of where he works.
Good heavens, Trudeau, where are standards? Where is your flaming artistic integrity?
Victor Pecci collapsed during his tennis match with Guillermo Vilas.
Staff writer John Feinstein's story said, "He remained prone on the court, surrounded by cameramen and ball boys." But our pictures showed Pecci on his back.
When the first edition came off the presses, I trotted back to our sports department to ask about that "prone." I found Feinstein and his copy editor discussing "prone" and "supine."
"He fell on his face," Feinstein said. "He was prone. Later, they rolled him over, and that's when the pictures were taken."
The copy editor weighed his decisions for a few seconds. Then he said, "I'm sure you're right, John, but the readers aren't going to know that, and they'll think we don't know the difference between prone and supine. Take out 'prone' for the next edition." I retreated to my own cubbyhole in silence.
Alfred J. Silver of Silver Spring raises an eyebrow at a restaurant ad. He writes, "Phineas has been advertising a special on prime rib served 'with hot au jus.' I hope you can set them straight before they start advertising potatoes with delicious au gratin."
Or pie with ice cold a la mode?
Alfred has a good point. Au jus means "with its natural juice."
However, it should be noted that we often alter foreign terms when we incorporate them into English. Many of these alterations become embedded in our language.
One who campaigns against this use of au jus must be prepared to take on a hundred other foreign words and phrases that have been folded, spindled and mutilated in their travels.
Edward R. O'Brien of Vienna was surprised when his use of a word was questioned. As a result, he consulted his dictionary and then posed this question. "One of the following words does not belong in this category: wharf, pier, quay, dock, jetty. Which one doesn't belong.?"
Don't read on until you take a stab at it. The dictionary says a dock is a waterway alongside a pier, or between two piers. A ship is in a dock. It unloads at a wharf, quay or pier.
I didn't know that. Did you?