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As I've probably mentioned before in this space, the Garrity-Farago household has an NES and a Super Nintendo. The arrival of the NES and games from Andrew's brother was a big event for us around 2001, mainly so we could play Mario 3 and get to the Kuribo's Shoe level. I freak out so hard when I get the shoe that I invariably bounce into a pit and die. The only Mario game I'm actually any good at is Mario 2, where I kick all kinds of ass as the princess.

I knew a guy in college who drank these, with exactly this rationale. Mell's last line is one of my favorite punchlines I ever came up with, although, as usual, it's probably only amusing to me.

The five-panel structure leaves the lettering pretty cramped, especially in...Oh, never mind. I can't stay mad at a comic that has "CHUG!" as a sound effect.

Yeah, so this is just a big fakeout. I don't care! I have no shame!

I think this is the first strip in which Dave expresses romantic interest in Helen, as opposed to just generally being attracted to anything female. Of course, the situation is complicated by Helen being, like, half-Dave. I'm not sure what it says about Dave that he feels most comfortable going after a woman when she's turning into him.

Man, I used to draw really fat hands.

Dave's apartment is, of course, based exactly on mine. I do have a comic-book spinner rack next to my front door. The more-or-less illegible comics in Dave's rack are mostly by people who were involved with the Modern Tales sites: Killer Princesses my Lea Hernandez and Gail Simone, Shuck by Rick Smith, New Hat by Tom Hart, and Fred the Clown by Roger Langridge. Actually, Gail Simone was never involved in Modern Tales, but she wrote the introduction to the upcoming Narbonic Volume 6. So it all comes together.

To the left of Helen in panel one is an "Andre the Giant Has a Posse" OBEY poster, which we had on our wall here at Chez Garrity-Farago for a while. Isn't it weird that the guy who did those is, like, the official guy who does pictures of the president now? The other poster in panel one, behind the spinner rack, is impossible to identify, but it's a self-portrait Keith Knight did for us on oversized sketch paper once. We still have that one hanging up.

I must have just copied the titles on the spines of the books in panel two off my bookshelf, because they're completely random books I own: The Stars My Destination, The Salmon of Doubt, something by Terry Pratchett, a Bloom County collection, and Cryptonomicon. Geez, I'm really nerdy. The Stars My Destination and Cryptonomicon were both gifts Dave Barker got me when he visited me around this time.

Also visible in panel two: Optimus Prime (who would later prove invaluable as an art model in "Mad Science Is Decadent and Depraved"), a Morpheus doll from Sandman, a poster for the then-recent Spider-Man movie, a poster for a Tom Tomorrow show at the Cartoon Art Museum, and a nonfunctioning Superman clock.

In panel three: a Far Side calendar (hey, they don't make those anymore), a poster for Batman: The 10-Cent Adventure, and assorted toys, of which the only ones I can identify are a Popeye action figure and a Spider-Man Pez dispenser.

Wow, I drew a lot of random crap in this strip! Good for me!

This is all pretty hard on Dave, but it would be weird if these two hooked up like this. Especially when Helen started turning entirely into Dave.

The plush Cthulhu in the first panel is another random object from my apartment.

66 comments:
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: NES?! You can run a NES emulator on any modern computer... and I've found that the SNES rules the NES any day.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Monday:

Let's talk about Super Mario Bros. 3.

"...I invariably bounce into a pit and die." But there's only two pits in the entire level! Well, weally.

I don't really understand the psychological draw of Goomba's/Kuribo's Shoe. The most benefit it provides is the ability to take yet another hit (to whit: Shoe->Suit->Super->dead). Its primary ability to jump-attack the Piranha Plants is somewhat hampered by its bizarre one-legged movement scheme that's halfway between Mario's walking and running speeds, and makes jumping less predictable.

Certainly, there's the visceral pleasure of stealing an enemy's equipment, but there's more useful thrills to be had in stealing Lakitu's cloud in Super Mario World, or in the Hammer Suit.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Maria" from "West Side Story" by Bernstein & Sondheim)

Nintendo!
I just got my eight-bit Nintendo!
It just arrived today!
I bought it on eBay,
You know ...

Nintendo,
I love playing classic Nintendo!
It makes me shout "Hurrah!"
When playing Super Ma-
Ri-o!

Nintendo!
Player 2 has to be Luigi...
Why the heck was the film rated PG?
Nintendo ...
We'll spend all night playing Nintendo ...

Scott Davidson (mrson) says:

NES?! You can run a NES emulator on any modern computer...

Emulators? Bleh. What I did was get a dual NES/Super NES game system.
kicking_ k (kicking_k) says:

Emulators just aren't the same.

I grew up in a Sega household, so barely know this Mario of whom you speak. My husband in turn scorns my Sega reminiscences and turns to vintage Amiga and Amstrad CPC games.

We have a working Amiga and a Game Gear, and keep trying to get a BBC Micro on Freecycle.

Eric Meyer (anvilwarrior) says:

Ha!  My first game system was an Atari 7200, and an Atari 2600.  I own an SNES, two original Gameboys, original Game Genies, and a Game Gear.  I also have an Xbox, but that isn't much bragging rights yet.

My favorite game has to be Joust, on the 7200.

Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:

Well, sure, you can play an emulator on your computer instead of hooking a vintage SNES up to your widescreen TV. You can also watch "Lawrence of Arabia" on your iPod Nano and make wine coolers out of Stag's Leap. The question is, why?

Leon: I believe Seanbaby said it best, but the Hammer Suit and Lakitu's cloud, although awesome, do not make Mario totally freakin' adorable. Also, Lakitu's cloud dissolves in, like, ten seconds. That is so unfair. It doesn't do that to Lakitu.

Last night I was playing Super Mario World on the SNES and discovered another thing that causes me to flip out and die: when Mario is riding Yoshi AND a dolphin on the friendly-dolphin level. I'm an Italian riding a dinosaur riding a dolphin! That's the ultimate life form! I had to go back and play it without Yoshi because I could not calm down and kept throwing myself into the evil puffer fish.
Jason (hactar) says: I only have one question about this strip: what was David doing in the lab at 2am?  Nocturnal I get, but usually at that time I want to be goofing off, not working.
K C (spotweld) says:

Ah Faygo.. such sweet sweet, corn syrup, laced memories.

Rockin Rye where are you now... 

Mel Van Weelden (kessalia) says: Spot> It's all over, where are you? Oh yeah, east coast. :P   Come back to the midwest.  I'll make Rock 'n Rye Floats. Mmmmmm.   I'm so gonna have to do that tomorrow now, darn you.
Rockphed (rockphed) says: Personally, I think Rock 'n Rye smells like bubblegum, so I prefer Redpop.
Alex Jay Berman (alexjay) says: What about if you were to download the Mario games to play on the Wii?
Rachel S. (masamage) says: Hee hee. My mom drinks tabasco sauce in tomato juice just because she likes it.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Personally, the reason to use an emulator is simple: I don't own a SNES.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Today's comic: Neat... but eww.
Leon Arnott (l) says:
"Last night I was playing Super Mario World on the SNES and discovered another thing that causes me to flip out and die: when Mario is riding Yoshi AND a dolphin on the friendly-dolphin level. I'm an Italian riding a dinosaur riding a dolphin! That's the ultimate life form! I had to go back and play it without Yoshi because I could not calm down and kept throwing myself into the evil puffer fish."

Speaking as someone who automatically corrects people when they seem not to know that the Angry Sun also appeared in world 8-2... I think you enjoy videogames a little too much.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Tuesday:

How many more of these nerd cuisine jokes can we get out of this storyline? Verily, it is a bottomless font of mockery.

You've gotta love those overexpressive eyeglasses. It's like she's developed the opposite of compound eyes!
Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says: Shaenon: The punch line nearly had me on the floor the first time I read it. Yay, you!
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: The Doublemint Gum jingle)

Double the weirdness,
Double the smell;
It's Double-Freak, Double-Geek,
Double-grossed Mell!

ribbles (ribbles) says: Punchline funny.   That is all.
Elaine Corvidae (elaine_corvidae) says: I always thought the punchline was hilarious, maybe because I grew up with those horrible commercials.
kicking_ k (kicking_k) says:

Hactar: The Informatics building at the university where I work is open 24 hours. And there appear to be people working there at any time. That's computer scientists for you. Either that, or it's the free coffee they lay on.

 I love Mell's incredulous-despairing expression in the last panel.

fluffy <3 (fluffy) says: Real nerds don't find Tabasco sauce hot at all. They see capsaicin-induced pain as a challenge to overcome.

Or maybe that's just me and my circle of friends.

Rick Shott (not_home) says: I, too, thought the punchline was hilarious.  It is an excellent strip.
David Harmon (mental_mouse) says:

Pfft.  Tabasco sauce isn't hot, it's mostly vinegar!  Now if you did that with "red cock" sauce (formally, "sriracha"), that would be something! (And there are hotter sauces around..., I don't know how many of them (much less sriracha) would have been available in the Midwest at the original publication date.)

I usually mix my V-8 with (concentrated) beef boullion -- one can of Campbell's to  one big can of V-8.  Maybe I'll put some scriracha in the next batch.

Pat Stephenson (pat) says:

David: The hottest sause I know about is called "Dave's Insanity Sauce" and- now that I think about it- is highly appropriate for this comic.

It' really, really hot.  Especially the private reserves or the Ultimate Insanity Sauce

D. Connolly (theogrin) says: I would be remiss in not mentioning my fondness for a drink of my own devising, a "Hail Caesar".  Removing the clam juice (a distinctly Canadian touch) turns it into a "Hail Mary".  While I don't know how to add hyperlinks in comments, here's the URL:  http://www.drinksmixer.com/drinkvw17238.html
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: *snicker*
Leon Arnott (l) says: Wednesday:

Cigarette motion trails!
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Down The Highway", Jim Croce)

Helen's DNA now with Dave's combined!
She changed her name ... she changed her name ...
The cartoonist messing with readers' minds!
She has no shame!  She has no shame!

WIll HelenDave survive this story line?
(Well, here's a spoiler, folks:
She'll be just fine!)

Twist in the plot is shocking!
Nerds of a feather flocking!
Save HelenDave!  Now, Dave, you'd best behave!

Cat Bascle (mage_cat) says:

Note a subtle bit of transformation in today’s strip.  The bits of hair that normally hang in front of Helen’s ears are gone.

fluffy <3 (fluffy) says: Dave's Insanity Sauce isn't the hottest sauce on the planet by any means but yes it is wonderfully hot. When I'm feeling masochistic I use 5-6 drops of it in whatever I'm eating, and the resulting endorphine rush is well worth the searing pain.
Lenore Hoyt (landsnark) says: mage_cat, I totally missed that!  They were getting pretty thin yesterday...my, but our cartoonist pays attention to detail.
Mike Kozar (mikekozar) says:

@Fluffy - Congrats, you finally got me out of my lurking place.  I had to sign up to weigh in on the Insanity Sauce issue.

Insanity Sauce is not a condiment, it is a war crime.  There certainly *are* hotter sauces out there - some of them have crystalised capsicum crusting the glass.  Most are intended to heat up 'serves 36' pots of chili using small quantities. I'm honestly shocked that they put it on the shelf at Safeway next to a half-dozen watery Tobasco clones.  If somebody who wasn’t used to hot stuff tried to use it, I would honestly fear for their health.

It's not merely a sharp, painful amount of heat, though - it has incredible sticking power.  Expect to still be in pain fifteen minutes later.  My friend Dave (who occasionally uses the username TheDaveConspiracy, so you know he's good people) got some when visiting his parents and reported that his stepmom lost the power of speech for an hour.  A friend spiked the cheezedip at my MST3K night with some – he and I each got one chip’s worth before sprinting to the kitchen to chug directly from the gallon of milk. He added a shake to four cups of cheese and sour cream, and it was completely inedible.

Now, Dave and I consider ourselves pretty hardcore - I've burned out most of my taste buds and my friends think I'm insane. Tobasco tastes exactly like salty vinegar to me. I love Sri Racha sauce on my toast in the morning, if that tells you where my personal hotness tolerance is at.   I'm not at a competitive pepper-eating level, but I'm no lightweight, either.  I consider my experiences with Dave’s Insanity sauce to be a life-changing experience.  I simultaneously realized that I would never be the World’s Biggest Badass, and lost all fear of civilian-grade peppers.  I’ve looked the devil in the eye – I’ve had Insanity Sauce.

Pat Stephenson (pat) says:

 This is a really good one, I love Dave's double take.

Catherine- that is so cool.  I've never noticed it before.

fluffy-  It's still pretty hot. 

Mike-  I like you.  I'm too scared to even touch the Insanity Sauce.  Closest I've ever come was one drop of habanero Sause in a bowl of homemade guacamole.

Joyce Melton (halfelven) says: I'm reminded of a Daniel Pinkwater line: "No matter who you are, no matter what you've done -- there's a pepper you can't eat."
Jim Crider (autojim) says:

Okay, now you got me to de-lurk...

There are multiple varieties of Dave's Insanity Sauce. The *most* insane is the annual Private Reserve (bottle #5899 of the 1998 edition, signed and numbered by Dave hisownself, resides in my refrigerator), which comes packaged in a wooden coffin wrapped in yellow caution tape and required the signing of a liability waiver when I bought it from Peppers of Key West. Really. Witnessed and notarized.

It doesn't go bad, near as I can tell, provided you keep it refrigerated. One drop from the end of a toothpick onto a Tostito is enough for one night, and probably the next 2 or 3 nights as well. My last batch of chili (no beans) was about 2 quarts and it got 3 drops. Which was PLENTY even by my standards, even after 24 hours of simmering to mellow the vibe. Next batch will get 2 drops -- I'm zeroing in that one drop per quart is about right.

If I'm cooking chili for civilians (read: anyone I don't know their tolerance for spice in great detail), I omit the Private Reserve and have it on hand for individual dosing.

Jon W. (kd7sov) says: "Then it acquires the urge to breed..."
Katie Powell (pencilears) says: insanity sause is delishious stuff. but it is spicy enough that my ears are sweating just remembering it.
Rhiannon McCullough (kaiserin) says: I love the signature Dave gesture Helen is making in the second panel there!
Leon Arnott (l) says: Thursday:

Helen seems to be at an ideal ratio of Helen-Dave biology such that the attraction of Helen's newfound nerd interests counterbalances Dave's feelings of self-loathing buried deep within every sufficiently asocial nerd.

I'm suddenly reminded of the subtle distinction between this storyline's treatment of Daveness and D-Con's treatment of Davosity. Having previously dealt with Daves as a subset of humanity united by biochemistry and/or metaphysics, this storyline treats Davenport himself as a unique biological entity, with all of his character traits encoded at the genetic level.

Which leads to the conclusion: this Garrity person must really be infatuated with this Dave Davenport if she's constantly toying with and exploring the qualities that make Dave special, and what it means to be him - to view him as something more exclusive than mere humankind.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Catch A Wave", The Beach Boys)

Now HelenDave will stay up all night playing Quake;
(Being Dave ... being Dave ...)
Eating Doritos and getting tummy ache!
(Ooo wah ooo wah ooo wah ooo wah)
Poor HelenDave got those chubby hands ...
Poor Reg'lar Dave got those blue gonads ...
Guy and girl,
Both unique in Garrity's world!

Joseph Charneskie (mutantsentry) says: I thought that was extream forshortening with the big hand in panel 3...
K C (spotweld) says: It's the flannel, nerds digs chiks in flannel.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: (snicker)
John Wells (johnwwells) says:

Leon: Nah, that's just being a good author. If you write a viewpoint character, you'd better be prepared to explore 'em. If this were Artie's story, we'd probably get just as much about him - how his tastes, lingusitic quirks, and brain developed, for example.

James Rice (jhrice) says:

I had always wondered how autobiographical Dave's apartment was.  I assumed a couple of books and posters,  Now I find out you basically just sketched it verbatim.   That's a little scary.  That's a little sad.   I LOVE IT!!!

Rachel S. (masamage) says: Wait, what was that about Obey Giant and the president?
Jonathan Bogart (jbogart) says: That iconic blue-red-and-offwhite Obama picture was designed by Shepard Fairey, the Obey Giant guy.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: You do?
Leon Arnott (l) says: Friday:

Let's compare with previous glimpses of Castle Davenport.

What I don't quite get is how Dave has time to be an IT professional, a mild videogamer, a tabletop gamer, and, as can be assumed from today's episode, a full-on print comics maniac. There aren't that many hours in a week!
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "We Didn't Start The Fire", Billy Joel)

Spinning rack of comics; book of Cryptonomics,
O-bey An-dre; Superman clock!
Batman Dime Adventure; Spidey Pez dispenser,
Morpheus, Optimus, smells like old socks ...

Welcome to Dave's apartment!
Dave's apologetic 'cause it's so pathetic ...
Welcome to Dave's apartment!
Kinda looks like Shaenon's (hey, we're not complainin' ...)

Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says: Leon: Multi-dimensional nerding is all about time-management. And caffeine. And sustenance in convenient, easy-to-open packages.
Adam Underfoot (unnatural20) says: Mad Geniuses can make more time.
Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: I'm brain-blocked right now on the actual name, but isn't the eyeball toy on top of the monitor in panel 3 the sidekick character from Monsters Inc.?
Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says:

Could Mike Wazowski. Could be any of those generic bugs-to-stick-on-your-monitor.

Next to it appears to be a minature human heart, complete with a segments of major vessels. Or it could just be another generic bug.

The one standing down by the keyboard could be the cylindrically-headed droid bounty hunter from Episode v.

Elaine Corvidae (elaine_corvidae) says: I'm horribly jealous of your comics spinner rack.
fluffy <3 (fluffy) says: Growing up in New Mexico left me pretty desensitized to spice.

The particular variety of Dave's Insanity Sauce I use is Dave's Total Insanity. Five drops on a single quesadilla is about the limit of my tolerance. And what a wonderful limit it is!

Warren Terra (warren_terra) says: Living the dream!
Pat Stephenson (pat) says:

fluffy- Geez, I can't even stand more then one drop in a very large pot of chili.  Or I couldn't, last time I had some.  And I grew up in Southern California, where hot food is not uncommon.

 Shannon- Dave's really a geek, though I'm surprised you didn't have any Star Wars figurines or Star Trek posters up on his walls, especially considering Dave's already established ownership of Yak-Face

Jennifer McGaffey (jjmcgaffey) says: Actually, I think the thing next to the Monsters Inc guy is an ashtray with a couple crushed cigarettes in it - and some smoke curling up.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Oh well.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "The Ballad of John and Yoko", Lennon & McCartney)

Playing with my classic Nintendo ...
Mario and Kirby and Link ...
A true gamer geek
Won't bathe for a week;
My score is high, but boy do I stink!

Cripes, this level is easy!
(If I remember to save!)
The thought makes me queasy ...
I'm gonna turn into Dave!

Leon Arnott (l) says: Saturday:

This storyline is a bit of an odd duck, in that it almost but not quite overlaps with other storylines' material. Helen's turning into a man, and Dave's revealing intimate feelings for Helen. Fortunately, as we can see in this strip, our author is focused on the central premise of this storyline.

I'm not quite sure which NES games are two-player competitive. Super Mario Bros. 3 had those astoundingly effective battle rounds in its 2P mode, but all the others that spring to mind are exclusively co-operative - the sort of videogames you'd play with your dearest love.
Jason (hactar) says: And this posted on valentines day.  Awww...
Pete (westrider) says: I have plush Cthulhus scattered all over my Apartment, including some little ones in rather unexpected and surprising places.
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The education bestowed on Shaenon K. Garrity by her parents had been expensive, athletic and prolonged. ... full profile