Sweetness and Light

Just want to bring a smile to the reader's lips - and an occasional thought. Will try to stay away from controversial topics - rather create my own! And would definitely welcome comments. :-)

Friday, July 06, 2007

Calvin, Hobbes and Me!

I was first exposed to Messrs Calvin and Hobbes in late 80s, when they appeared every sunday in The Telegraph Magazine. I couldn't make any sense of their antics then - all I saw were ugly dinosaurs (now that's redundant - when did I ever find a dino handsome / beautiful?), or spaceships (I am not a sci-fi fan, except for comic sci-fi like H2G2), or a tiger that was sometimes stuffed, and sometime, well, a tiger. Then there was a long gap before I came across a whole book around 1995, courtesy some dear friends who were running out of ideas to cheer me up during my dialysis days. And I discovered the magic!! It has never failed since to bring a smile to my lips AND make me think, simultaneously. If P.G.Wodehouse is unadulterated beauty and elegance of English language, guaranteed to make you laugh whichever page you open in the book, Bill Watterson is that rarity who looks at everyday life with an uncommon lens, turns conventional wisdom upside down, and in the garb of a six-year old terror kid (and his sympathetic, if sometimes uncomprehending tiger) asks questions and makes observations that we as adults would be glad to shove below the carpet.

In my this leisure week (why am I feeling guilty about it?), I happened to browse through some old C&H collection, and felt inspired to jot some of them down here. Now there are scores of websites dedicated to the duo, and there must be legions of fans who are much more knowledgeable on the subject than me, so obviously the attempt is not to educate. Also, the source of my collection is just one book - "The Authoritative Calvin and Hobbes", so it will not be a best of C&H. Finally, there are some strips where it is pointless to reproduce the dialogs, because the true punchline is the drawing itself. How can I (or anyone, for that matter), convey Calvin's satanic glee (with teeth exposed) when some "evil" idea has struck him, or Hobbes' deadpan expression while pulling Calvin's legs in his inimitable, subtle manner?

So here I go:

Calvin asks his dad to pick up his ball from the gutter-
Dad (annoyed): This is the third time this afternoon! I thought I told you to play out back!
Calvin: Relax dad. Its just a ball in the gutter. It is not as if I've been embezzling money or killing people, right? Aren't you glad I am not stealing and murdering?
Calvin (last panel): I always have to help dad establish the proper context.
I am going to try this at office! :)

There are several compilations of exchanges between Calvin and his dad, where the latter routinely gets away with amazing answers to Calvin's incessant queries. But in the rare case where he admits that he doesn't know -
Dad: Heck, beats me. I guess we ought to look this stuff up.
Calvin: I take it there is no qualifying exam to be a dad.
Now, would you still blame dad for inventing all those answers?

So many times Hobbes reminds us human beings of our insensitivity, especially towards animals and nature. Here is one of my favorites, when the duo discover trash dumped out in the open -
Calvin (picking a dumped can): By Golly! If people aren't burning toxic wastes or testing nuclear weapons, they are throwing trash everywhere. You'd think planets like this were a dime a dozen.
Hobbes: You know, there are times when it's a source of personal pride to not be human.

Every Christmas season Calvin gets mighty jittery about his standing with Santa. It usually starts with questioning the notion of good and evil and doubting the existence of Santa himself, but usually as the D-day approaches, cold logic and practicality reign over emotions - after all, if Santa DOESN'T exist and you DON"T believe in him, no loss, but what if he DOES exist? As Calvin himself puts it, it is a matter of "simple risk analysis".
Calvin: I want presents. Lots of presents. Why risk not getting them over a matter of belief? Heck, I will believe anything they want.
Hobbes: How cynically enterprising of you.
I am scared to think about the number of occasions I resort to such "risk analysis". :(

Calvin's new year resolutions are funny only to the extent that the character making them is a kid. I wonder how many of us adults have similar resolutions, consciously or sub-consciously -
Calvin: If the new year requires resolutions, I say it's up to everyone else, not me! I don't need to improve. Every one else does. How about you? Did you make any
Hobbes (eyes rolled up): Well, I had resolved to be less offended by human nature, but I think I blew it already.
I think I need a Hobbes too.

And then there is the episode where Calvin decides to secede from home and move to Yukon. Of course, good sense, or more likely, empty stomach prevails, and Calvin
decides he is better off at home. But...
Calvin: What if mom and dad won't take me back because I seceded? What if they tell me I can't rejoin the family?
They HAVE to take me back! I am their stupid kid. Right?
(Finally, in a rare moment of candid self-appraisal): Right! The operative word being "Stupid".

And, as my vacation draws to an end, can't help but resonate with the following observation from Calvin:

More later.


At 9:57 AM, Blogger Anurag said...

Jawohl, mein fuhrer!!

Also, I might add, posts like these build your character :)

At 7:17 AM, Anonymous Shashikiran Mullur said...

C&H I'd read, and they'd send me into a suspended state: of a half-understanding and a delicious not-understanding. I always enjoyed it.

Please continue writing…

At 9:47 PM, Anonymous thbpthh said...

remember the strip with the colour and black and white conversation between calvin and his dad?

and ya write more posts, please!!

At 10:17 AM, Anonymous Supriya said...


My Take:

There's never enough time to do all the "everything" I want to do..:)

At 12:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love the watterson pouts his imagination in the calvin hobbes strip..:)

At 2:03 PM, Anonymous thbpthh said...

Happy birthday! Hope you're having a great day.

PS: I had lost my phone and a lot of important numbers with it.

At 10:27 PM, Blogger Mike said...

My favorite one is where Calvin is trying to procrastinate his homework. He keeps giving all kinds of excuse to Hobbes while trying to avoid his homework. In the end he delivers his classical line "A day can really slip by when you are deliberately avoiding what you are supposed to do". Be it my FPM days or workplace or housework, I can still come u with ingenuous reaons for shirking work.


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