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Craig J. Quack
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 08, 2002 8:07 am    Post subject: Young Zaphod Plays It Safe Reply with quote

Wikkit wrote:
I don't know if he wanted ambiguity, but he got it. He said that he had someone specific in mind, but I personally like the theory that it is someone else.

Who do you think it was?


I was always confused by the ending of "Young Zaphod Plays It Safe" until I read the version in Wizards of Odd, a short story collection published a few years back. It contains a couple of sentences that weren't in earlier versions, explicitly stating who the mysterious cargo was. Looking back at the version in The More Than Complete..., I realized that all the clues were there, I had just never picked up on them.
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neoepicurean
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 08, 2002 3:58 pm    Post subject: a few thoughts... Reply with quote

A few folks have commented back and forth on the unique geometry of our protagonist, and many have focused on the color differences, usually alluding to race. I don't think race has anything to do with it.

The parallelagram is simply unique in an abstract way, something salient, which is the power that the represetation has - no mistaking his uniqueness. To read his color as signifying him to be a different race is an interesting choice, since it would require us to see all the females/circles as one race and the men/squares as another.

The shape and color are simply *unique*. What traits we read into that - race, age, views, aggression, attitude etc are simply our projections onto the character. The highly abstract presentation of the character and dialouge are the beauty of the peice. One might read the infinity sign to signify "spending time together" and another might read it as having no limit on a relationship, or as intimacy. Note that the tombstones capture the "death do us part" notion more directly, so seeing the infinity thing as representing time rather than content or emotion seems redundant, and therefore unlikely.

ehsh...who knows...mostly I am facinated by the amount of discussion this one generated...
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OverThinker
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 08, 2002 7:02 pm    Post subject: Gender issues re-thought Reply with quote

I think it's possible that the "assumed" gender of Male=Square and Female=circle has a flaw. Think of it this way:

When the circle is young, the beautiful parallelogram wants a full commitment, but HE (the circle) says no. Young man = fear of comittment.

He gets older, eventually finds a wife as that fear of committment subsides and marries the square.

And here is the most telling part: When they cirle and the square are arguing, the Square seems to be demanding a bigger house, yet the Circle is the one saying "We don't have the money!" Traditionally, these roles would be assumed as Circle=Male, Square=Female.

Again, these are the traditional roles, assuming the man to be the breadwinner. But they are no more invalid than assuming the man to be the abuser. Besides, the abuse could really be symbolic and emotional i.e. "You don't make enough money, why aren't you a REAL MAN?"

Just thinkin'
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Wikkit
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 08, 2002 10:28 pm    Post subject: Re: Young Zaphod Plays It Safe Reply with quote

Craig J. Quack wrote:
I was always confused by the ending of "Young Zaphod Plays It Safe" until I read the version in Wizards of Odd, a short story collection published a few years back. It contains a couple of sentences that weren't in earlier versions, explicitly stating who the mysterious cargo was. Looking back at the version in The More Than Complete..., I realized that all the clues were there, I had just never picked up on them.

Interesting. I'll have to buy a copy of that. Can you paraphrase the sentences? Maybe the library will have it.

Of all people, I should know about this sort of thing.... doh.

Greg 'CrazyOne' Pacek was of the opinion that the person was Jesus, which makes the story a bit more interesting, and wouldn't be too surprising considering that DNA was an atheist.

Sorry for hijacking the thread.
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losttoy
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 09, 2002 7:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

carine wrote:
I cannot see any evidence that the parallelogram was in fact an angel, and therefore I read the P's revenge as comment also on fantasy memory of lost people.

Nice! I have been guilty of that before.

nihon wrote:
THAT's the Parallelogram's Revenge! "Now that you're in trouble you come searching for me? Sorry, I'm dead."

Yikes ... but may be right.

neoepicurean wrote:
A few folks have commented back and forth on the unique geometry of our protagonist, and many have focused on the color differences, usually alluding to race. I don't think race has anything to do with it. The parallelagram is simply unique in an abstract way, something salient, which is the power that the represetation has - no mistaking his uniqueness. To read his color as signifying him to be a different race is an interesting choice, since it would require us to see all the females/circles as one race and the men/squares as another.

At first I believed this. The shapes and colors did not have anything to due with race or gender, just there uniqueness. This would be true if all shapes were a different color. Although, this is not the case. All circles are green. All squares are blue. If there was a green circle, a yellow circle, an orange circle, and so on, then it would be showing their individual uniqueness. However, in this story there is some definate division going on in relations to what group each shape is in. There is no designation to say what gender each shape has to be. It is implied that the circle in this story may be female (although other then our own gender roles do we imply that). There is nothing saying that there are no male circles or female squares, just that the ones in this story are implied gender roles (which I still do not buy). I would not suggest the color or shape to gender because there are three different shapes and colors in this story. Since we are anthromorphising these shapes into humans there is one too many gender if we seperate them by there physical attributes.

OverThinker writes
And here is the most telling part: When they cirle and the square are arguing, the Square seems to be demanding a bigger house, yet the Circle is the one saying "We don't have the money!" Traditionally, these roles would be assumed as Circle=Male, Square=Female.

I read it as Square, "We have damn too many kids. This house is getting crowded." Circle, "But honey, we can't afford a bigger house. You are being irresponsible." I.e. the husband complaining about how the house is being run and the wife rationalizing their finanical situation. Of course that is my inturptation using gender roles which I do not really believe in myself.

I really think that too many people are trying to find gender roles in these shapes. The story is not about circle's experiances on how life treated "her" because she is a woman. The fact that any of the situations protrayed in the story could happen to both genders. The fact that McCloud has objectively drawn them shapes instead of actualy humans helps support this. It's not about who they are, but what happens to them.
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Rip Tanion
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2002 5:14 pm    Post subject: Gender and Race Reply with quote

I've got to agree with Overthinker. The circle is the male.

I, too, saw the circle as the breadwinner, and that the square was asking him for a bigger house. In addition, the "piercing" of the circle is not physical, but emotional. His "heart" has been pierced.

In the divorce, the square gets the house and the kids, and the circle is out in the cold, further proof, that, using traditional gender relationships, the circle is male.

I don't think the shape colors indicate any race. The story is gender specific, but not race specific. In the begining of the story, all circle are green, and all squares are blue. What confuses me, is why all the offspring are green.

A square is a regular or "perfect" shape, as is a circle. A parrallelogram is a irregular or "imperfect" shape. In addition, green and blue are cool colors, while red is a warm color. Thus, the red parrallelogram is the "ugly duckling", a compassionate outcast who is different from the clique. The square decides he's too good looking for the parrellogram, no matter how warm her heart is, and instead couples with someone more akin to his idea of beauty, even if she is cold hearted.

In the end, however, the circle regrets his decision to marry for looks instead of personallity.

To quote an art teacher I once had, "But you don't have to buy MY package."
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2002 8:10 pm    Post subject: Parallelogram's Revenge Reply with quote

I think that this story is clear and outfront. The parallelogram falls in love with the circle, but is an outcast from society (as represented in the first panel). The parallelogram proposes his affections for the circle, but is rejected for some pointless reason. The parallelogram falls into depression and dissapears as seasons pass. The circles and squares live in their community talking amongst themselves and then a square proposes marriage to the circle. She agrees and they marry and have children and as the years pass(10 years to be more precise). The circle begins to complain to the square about how full the house is wiht all their children and the square responds with the fact that they are short on money. The square hurts the circle in a rage and the circle moves off and falls into a depression herself. The circle remembers the parallelogram and runs off to find him and accept his previous request, but finds his grave and dies next to him from her deep depression, ironically the original ends of his proposal.
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Trench
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2002 9:34 pm    Post subject: Wow ^_^ Reply with quote

This is...very cool.

Just for the record I'm the guy that suggested the title. And this...is very cool. Obviously I think the thing itself rocks (just because it was my suggestion, nach) but to have the first MI to be discected to this level...and to actually be disectable...

It's cool. I have this whole warm rosey glow thing happening. And I didn't even do any of the work!

Yay.
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s
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 13, 2002 4:49 am    Post subject: hmmm Reply with quote

The argument for why the circle was attacked/struck by the square was a bit silly though.

Square goes "we need a new (bigger) house"
Circle goes "we do not have enough money for one"
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 13, 2002 3:27 pm    Post subject: Re: Gender and Race Reply with quote

Rip Tanion wrote:
I don't think the shape colors indicate any race. The story is gender specific, but not race specific. In the begining of the story, all circle are green, and all squares are blue. What confuses me, is why all the offspring are green.


The reason why the offspring are different colors is because they are a mix of the "races". In the sixth panel you see how Parallelogram is telling a possible future of childred between itself and Circle. The mix of red and green makes the children brown. In the eighteenth panel you see the introduction of the children of Circle and Square. The mix of blue and green make aqua offspring. This can only happen between two races, not two genders. When male mates with female you do not have a creation that is hemapherdite. You see some children that are aqua square and some aqua circle. That just shows traits being passed down. Once again I must reiterate that there are three shapes, so you can not say that circles are female (or male) and squares are male (or female) because that leaves the question unanswered of what Parallelogram is. That is if we are anthromophising them ... they could be a species where gender roles are not distinct.

I must ask people to be careful when aplying gender roles to these shapes in an almost form of sexism. The reason the story is done in shapes is so it can be objective to the story it tells. Otherwise it could have been drawn with actual gender symbols. As for these gender roles people imply ... I have suffered physical abuse from past relationship. Does that mean I am a woman and the partner was male? Domestic violence can happen to anybody. The bread winner idea is faulted too. I was layed off of work and I stayed home to take care of the children while my spouse went to work and supported the family. Does staying home mean I am any less of a man? I have also been both on the the top and the bottom, what does that say about my sexuality? Remember that each person is unique and have their own traits. I think it is insane in this day in age that people have to go out of their way to fit into society's standards. Stop stereotyping and/or trying to fit in. You have to live your life for yourself, not anybody else.

No where in this story is gender actually implied (other then the fact that there was sexual offspring and no where does it say which is the father and which is the mother if that is even the case). Race is hinted, however not really explained (we know that Parallelogram is different from the rest of society in color and shape). All the rest is implied by the reader.
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 13, 2002 3:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For some reason my post just came up as Anonymous ... For the record I wrote the above post.
-David Ano
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Chris McLeod
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 13, 2002 8:26 pm    Post subject: Circles and Squares. Reply with quote

Here's my interpretation.

It's Spring. Young geometric figures are out enjoying the weather. They are a mixed bunch- simply friends and nothing more. One day, Circle meets a nice parallelogram. They spend time together, and after not too long, Parrallelogram falls in love with her. He tells her that she is wonderful- he thinks she is the most perfect circle there could ever be. She is his angel (or is that angle?) He tells her that he wants them to be together forever, he wants to have a physical relation ship. He wants to have children with her, and one day be laid to rest beside her. Circle is furious! How can he be so brash as to come right out and say all these things? No one else is getting married! The geometric shapes are all too young for that kind of a commitment! She says some things that she would probably not have said if she had thought about it more, and leaves Parrallelogram.

Parrallelogram doesn't follow her. He is too shocked. He stays right where he asked her until nightfall. He is lost without her.

A year passes. The leaves on the trees turn to orange and gold, then fall as the ground is covered in snow.

Now the geometric shapes are more mature. The circles and squares are no longer in random groups- they are all in definite couples. By now, some may even be married. Circle is still alone. One day, she meets Square. Square is a nice enough guy. She hasn't known him for very long, no where near as long as she knew Parrallelogram. One day, he suggests they get married. He doesn't say anything nice to her, he doesn't even try to be romantic. Circle simply doesn't want to be alone anymore.
So she accepts

The physical side of their relationship is the only thing they seem to have together. Eventually, they have four children. Ten years pass, with ten children to show for it. Square begins to complain about all the children, that the house is too crowded. He wants to buy a new one. Circle is aghast. They don't have that kind of money!

Square gets angry. This is the first time that Circle has ever done anything of any sort that was not part of what he wanted. He unthinkingly hits her, screaming at her to get out of his life. Injured, she does what she always does- exactly what he said.

But as the sun sets, she begins to feel something again. Sorrow. She's alone, exactly what she married Square to get away from. Night falls. Circle thinks back to the days of her youth, before Square. And she remembers Parrallelogram. He'd been sweet and nice. They'd known eachother before he ever asked her to marry him. He'd behaved like an angel (or angle) With something finally to drive her, she hurries off into the night, trying to find some trace of the man who once loved her. And she finds it- a tombstone with his name engraved on it. In the eleven years since she last saw Parrallelogram, he went peacefully into eternal rest. But she notices no other tombstones about. He died alone.

Circle has no energy left. Everything she has known for the ten years of her marriage to Square, has fallen down around her ears. She falls to the ground and weeps- something that Parralellogram never did. She weeps for him and for herself, for all the years they could have had together if she had said "Yes" instead of the awful things that she did say.

She eventually dies, as all gemotric shapes are bound to do. Maybe it is now, maybe years from now. But when she does die, she has made arrangements. She is burried, not next to her lover... but perhaps more importantly, she is burried next to her friend.

Excellent story, Mr. McCloud.
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 13, 2002 11:29 pm    Post subject: And then again, maybe we're all all wet. Reply with quote

I bet Scott is sitting back, reading this, and laughing his toochas off. I bet we're all reading in a lot more into this story than he ever intead. I'd give good odds that his intentions were no where near as symbolic and complex as we all have assumed.

Or then again, Scott might just be a mad, evil genius, who's ultimate designs are beyond our ken. If that's the case, he must be stopped at all cost, before it is too late. Perhaps we are all being subconciously inducted into the Church of Improvology, and being made slaves to his will. Is Scott McCloud the next L. Ron Hubbard? Was Understanding Comic just another Dianetics? Has John Travolta been cast to play Zot?

Scott, weather you intended to or not, you've come up with one hell of Rorshack (did I spell that right?) Test. (I'm not sure, but someone may have come up with that analogy already.)
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Penner Theologius Pott
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 14, 2002 2:41 am    Post subject: I don't know... Reply with quote

I actually suspect that Mr. McCloud has put a great deal of thought into the writing of this, but even if he hasn't, that doesn't necessarily invalidate our interpretations.

Oscar Wilde once said, "Art reflects the audience, not the artist" and I think that remains the case - I think that all these interpretations say as much about the people who make them as they do about the strip itself. (Frightening, huh?)

I often wonder what Lewis Carroll would think of the many varying interpretations of Alice In Wonderland - being as conservative as he was, I'm inclined to think that he would have been appalled by the dissections in which people find hints of violence, suppressed pedophilia and other good stuff, and would prefer the more saccharine readings of his work. Personally, I think that many different interpretations make the story all the more diverse, complex, and interesting. While I doubt Carroll was thinking about everything that people find, that doesn't mean that it's not there, and, hey, if it makes the story more compelling for us, then by all means!

There's a point where art ceases to belong to the one who created it and passes into the hands of those to whom it is meaningful.
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 14, 2002 4:29 pm    Post subject: i know what happened Reply with quote

it is a story of LOVE.

the parallelogram wants to stay forever with the green circle but she turns him down and ends up with the blue square. they boink and have kids. but their marriage falls apart and she ends up getting killed by the blue square. then she dies right next to the parallelograms grave and they remain together in death
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2002 3:30 pm    Post subject: KILL! KILL! KILL? Reply with quote

Gee, I mean, some people are violent nuts, but why would someone KILL thier spouse over an argument about buying a bigger house? Usually, spousal murder is involved with infidelity (either on the part of the victim, or the perpertrator, or both), or some sort of monetary gain (a will, or life insurance policy), but there is no evidence of either in the story. While the argument in the story could lead to some form of spousal abuse, I can't see it leading to MURDER!

Again, I see the piercing of the circle as more symbolic of a broken heart. Weather the circle's heart was broken by mean spirited words, or violent actions, I can not say. The circle dies not from actual wounds, but of lonliness and regret.
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2002 4:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

But wasn't this excellent geometrical tale just the cynic's view of Norton Juster's The Dot and the Line?

The square turned out to be a rat, just like the squiggle in Jester's tale. The only difference? The circle committed to the rat's bandwagon.

Just like in real life, the circle finds it a little harder to regain the happiness that could have been hers because most people move on to the next person. They don't keep banging their geometrical functions against a stone wall like Juster's line.

But question for you? What about those 10 years of relative idyllic existence when so much that was positive got done?

Did they count for nothing? I think they DID and DO. Too many people want to look only at the end result and avoid the truth of how much good there can be even in a bad realtionship or a relationship that merely ends badly.

I cannot get over how often I hear parents describing their own children's father or mother as a no-good so-and-so. And this creates what impression in the child's mind exactly? It's not so much that the bad things being said are not true. It's more that they (a) were not always true; (b) were not important or meaningful until recently; (c) were unjustified in the current environment; (d) were never a problem until something else happened. In short, they are not the whole truth.

You would never get that reading The Dot and the Line. In that story, the silly dot is won back by the persistent line and the ignominous squiggle is left to fend for himself in a loveless world. In Jester's story that one choice made a true "Happily ever after" ending.

I guess it's a good thing that Juster chose the two simplest geometrical concepts though, isn't it?

In real life it is much more comples.

As our now two dimensional friends show us.

So there's a valid basis for a cynical --or is it simply more balanced --retake on Jester's little fable/romance.

But maybe this one is attacking the wrong thing? Is the problem romantic love and the impossibility of predicting whether romantic love will really serve you best in the end?

Or is the problem the insistence on that little infinity sign? You know, that little innocent-looking white symbol in the center of the black field--sitting there like a skull-and-crossbones.

The Ancient Irish might have had the best idea. Every year, the contract of marriage could be renewed -- or not-- as the parties saw fit.

Less fights. More conciliation. More accountability.

I'm not a rabid feminist by any means, but doesn't the concept of a marriage that lasts forever, usually end up hurting the very people it's supposed to help--women? Men just disregard the convention, take a mistress or move on.

Why not know that up front?

In short, there are a lot of things to be said for serial monogamy.

No matter what Juster, Baz Luhrman, and the romantics of the world think.

What frightens me most is that I believe in all that "romance is forever" claptrap. Boy, I sure hope my wife does too. Otherwise, comics --along with romantic comedies and novels --are to blame for another misspent youth. I WANT to live in Jester's world, not McCloud's.

I am still such a maroon.

Oh well.

Maybe Scott or some other clever cartoonist can solve this problem in the next series. Hmm. The two dimensional objects are sort of spoken for though. What next? Complex equations? Or three-dimensional constructs?


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losttoy
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2002 7:44 pm    Post subject: Re: Reply with quote

Chris McLeod wrote:
Now the geometric shapes are more mature. The circles and squares are no longer in random groups- they are all in definite couples.

Nice observation, however in the first panel they could be in couples, just not as much space inbetween them like panel 12. (shrugs)


Rip Tanion wrote:
I bet Scott is sitting back, reading this, and laughing his toochas off. I bet we're all reading in a lot more into this story than he ever intead. I'd give good odds that his intentions were no where near as symbolic and complex as we all have assumed. Or then again, Scott might just be a mad, evil genius, who's ultimate designs are beyond our ken. If that's the case, he must be stopped at all cost, before it is too late.

I will place my bets on the evil genius part. Convienent how this picticular forum for MI got started when he made "Parallelogram Revenge"

-David Ano
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2002 10:25 pm    Post subject: On the "house" bit of dialogue... Reply with quote

There seem to be two ideas about the "house" image used as dialogue, as to whether it means "Our house is too overcrowded with children, we need a larger one" or "We should have more children". I believe that if it was meant to be the former, the image would have had the international NO sign over it. This would represent a negative thought about the house or the larger amount of children, as with the money ("We don't have enough money") and the circle (a general "circle is bad") in the rest of the dialogue. Omitting this symbol, especially when both of the other images in the conversation had it, implies that it is actually a positive thought about having a larger amount of children.

This leaves their discussion, in my mind, as being:
Square: "I want to have more children." (This is also a boost to the circle-is-the-male idea)
Circle: "We don't have enough money for more children."
Square: "I hate you!"

Now, why exactly the Square does this here is not very clear. This conversation, their initial meeting, and the fact that they have lots of kids, are the only clues we have to what their life is like, so there is not a lot of specific evidence supporting any motivational theory. It could be because he doesn't make enough money, or possibly just because the Circle dared to disagree. I prefer to think of this as ambiguous, since as far as the plot is concerned, it doesn't matter which of these reasons was Square's motivation for its actions; this part is just about getting across the simple idea of a hateful and abusive relationship.

Unless you take into account that Parallelogram may have only wanted 5 children...

One more thing, how much time passes between the (hot hot) square/circle sex and them having 4 kids? Or were they quadruplets? They appear to grow into the 4 larger ovals seen in the later image, which all look about the same size and shape.

The interpretations have been as fun to read (and think of!) as the comic itself. Kudos to all.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2002 7:32 pm    Post subject: Re: Hot n' heavy geometry action! Reply with quote

Anonymous wrote:
Do you really think that that's appropriate? I mean, kids could be reading this! THINK OF THE CHILDREN!


I'm better now....


OH, MY POOR FOUREEN-YEAR OLD EYES!
*covers eyes*
I think adults tend to be more prude than children. I still remember the sort of jokes I used to tell when I was six.


~Mephy
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 19, 2002 5:09 pm    Post subject: Re: Hot n' heavy geometry action! Reply with quote

Anonymous wrote:
I think adults tend to be more prude than children. I still remember the sort of jokes I used to tell when I was six.


I knew practically every curse word by the age of five. I didn't hear it on TV or radio, or in the funny papers; I heard my father use them, especially if we had bought something that was "some assembly required". After a few years in elementary school, I knew a book's worth of dirty jokes.

And I grew up perfectly normal.
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 20, 2002 5:56 am    Post subject: Parallelogram's revenge Reply with quote

Didn't you miss a TRIANGLE out somewhere ?????
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 21, 2002 4:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Once apon a time I was putting together an anthology comic and I got a submission by some guys in Illinous. Their main comic was called Nasalman, although the writer had this 2D comic called Box and Triangle. I loved that comic, but my small small comic company died off after the ashcan preview comic was distributed at a convention. I wish I could find their website again ...
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2002 5:27 pm    Post subject: poor parallelogram Reply with quote

This is about me! I am that parallelogram. Stupid circles. So round and wonderful, but...

I've been in that exact situation (except for the dead last part, just moved away). So circles, next time a nice red parallelogram comes your way, don't blow it off. We are really nice and the squares will just hurt you in the end.

Jesse
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