Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Choosing Horses

from "Choosing Horses" by Lisa Hanawalt

Remember the theme song of Mister Ed. “A Horse is a Horse of course/ Of course.”  The Cartoon and Puzzles edition of The New Yorker which features a crossword by Joon Pahk providentially called “Pattern Recognition,” also showcases a comic strip entitled “Choosing Horses” by Lisa Hanawalt, a producer of Netflick’s Bojack Horseman. What's it about horses which makes them even more amenable to “personification” than dogs or chimps? If you’ve grown up near horse farms you know the competition to get kids into good stables is almost as keen as that for a New York Private School. Undoubtedly many private school students enjoy the best stables. If you're competitive enough to get into Brearley, you’re ready for a world which is one big barnyard anyway. In the comic strip at hand, the artist's avatar uses horses to account for her “childless adulthood." One frame reads “Plus, having kids would ruin my favorite activities…cursing and gossiping.” The  succeeding bubbles show a childless couple discussing their predicament. “Did you know you CAN’T gossip around kids? Because they repeat everything you @#$ing say?" “That’s horrible @#$ing horrible!” “The delicate social fabric woven from shit-talk means NOTHING to them.” Besides being funny, the strip deals with loss. “Losing a horse is intense. It’s the loss not only of a pet, but a partner.” The change of tone might be otherwise disconcerting, if the cartoon form were not as elastic as Popeye’s famous muscle. Comics also possess a certain legerdemain. Hanawalt’s horses may be drawn or painted, but they allow for the willing suspension of disbelief in a way that's not characteristic of most photos of "Secretariat." There's another great strip in the issue “Picturing the Cove Inn” by Seth. Here the subject is a high school student’s part-time job at the kind of restaurant that employs all the local kids. It’s both sui generis in its Zoom-like Hollywood Squares format and utterly believable to anyone who’s ever worked at the local fish joint.

read "What's Not Funny?" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and watch the trailer for Erotomania

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