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The people in the first panel aren't anyone in particular, except for me in the background.

Telomerase is the enzyme that produces telomeres, little strands of DNA at the ends of chromosomes that are lost, bit by bit, every time a cell divides. (I apologize to all the geneticists in the audience for my crappy explanation of this.) Although the telomere doesn't contain meaningful genetic information, once the telomere is gone the cell is unable to keep reproducing, because then it would start losing bits of DNA it actually needs. Short telomeres have been linked to premature aging, and it's been suggested that telomerase could be used in anti-aging therapy. However, this is questionable and, at present, mostly confined to the realm of science fiction and webcomics.

The Daf-2 gene has also been linked to aging, at least in the worm C. elegans, one of the model organisms commonly used in genetics work.

Pineal gland extract is a pretty common anti-aging phlebotinum in science fiction, although I was thinking specifically of the awesome MST3K movie The Leech Woman.

It's true, though. Some people get old the minute they leave high school.

I can't remember why I named this character "Larry Brock," but I did have a crush on a really short guy in high school. He was cuter than Larry, though. Actually, I frequently had crushes on guys who were shorter than me, because I'm tall, but when I had five or six inches on them it was probably hopeless. Sigh.

In high school I campaigned successfully to get the school to do varsity letters for the Academic Challenge team. I was not a cool kid, no indeed.

Another early one. Initially I had Helen and Dave go to some lengths to pretend to be dating, but I decided that was silly and out of character for both of them. So they kind of just let people draw their own conclusions.

This woman is very strange-looking, while at the same time being not entirely unlike many women in my hometown.

It's kind of surprising, the number of times Dave exploits his sexuality to get something out of Helen.

I could not get Dave to look right in the first panel! I redrew it and pasted the new panel into the strip and it still looked bad! It was very frustrating. He looks exactly right in the last panel, though. As for the middle panels, sometimes I just have too much damn dialogue. I'm aware I have a problem.

So Dave finally confesses, at least to himself, that he's kinda sorta got a thing for Helen. It only gets more emo from here, folks.

As a vegan (and, um, a gerbil), Artie shouldn't eat deviled eggs. I think he's just sending Dave on errands for no good reason. I do like the dialogue in the final panel, though, plus for some reason the skinny guy looks like John Waters.

There's also some kind of argument going on in the background of the first three panels. I think someone just got congratulated on a nonexistent pregnancy, which happened to me at a comic-book store once.

59 comments:
Kenneth Raymond (nerrin) says: Very true. Occasionally I'm with my brother when he runs into someone he went to high school with, and they look so much older than him it's creepy.
Mike Kozar (mikekozar) says: I assume that sign has a CL off-panel.  Otherwise I really want to know who won.
fluffy <3 (fluffy) says: While I was still in high school everyone thought I was 12. As soon as I got to college everyone thought I was some old curmudgeon. There may be some truth to that.

Then again, I'm 30 and my hair's already noticeably turning gray (and it started to turn when I started college).

John Wells (johnwwells) says:

On the one hand, as a geneticist, I loved the daf-2 joke. On the other hand, it meant that either:

 A) Helen's lying.

B) She's given herself diabetes, as the closest human equivalent of the DAF-2 protein is the insulin receptor.

C) The Narbons are human-nematode chimeras. <--- MOST LIKELY EXPLANATION.

In semi-related news, I vote Cynthia Kenyon, who first showed the anti-aging effects of daf-2 knockdown, "Most Likely to Be a Narbon Control Group Member."

John Wells (johnwwells) says:

Regarding telomerase: Mice engineered to overexpress telomerase have, in some cases, gotten wacky overgrown mad scientist hair.

This explains a lot.

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Love the fourth panel.
kicking_ k (kicking_k) says:

So, now there is a good reason to drink the coffee? They'll get you coming and going.

I spent the years from age 14 to 28 looking approximately 21, going by other people's comments. I'm 29 and this effect is beginning to wear off, alas.

Leon Arnott (l) says: Monday:

Helen, age approximately 29, still looks young... despite being previously mistaken for 38! (But I admit that that had less to do with her physical appearance than our artist's rendition thereof.)

But despite Helen not having a distinct age seniority to our Dave, today she cheekily reminds us of her seniority in terms of her power over living things. They might walk arm-in-arm, but they still aren't equals.
ribbles (ribbles) says: Continues the theme of the pseudo-science making disturbing amounts of sense (previously seen in the teleporter theory discussion).
Bauke Schildt (tephlon) says:

Oh gods yes, We occasionally run into my wife's old classmates (Having moved 1800km (1200 miles) means I rarely run into my old classmates) and they all look old. Then again, it might have to do with the fact that they all seem to have kids.

I've looked 26 since I turned 22. Which was 12 years ago.

David Harmon (mental_mouse) says:

Pineal gland extract is a pretty common anti-aging phlebotinum.

Also used for clairvoyance, time travel, and who-knows-what else, mostly because it's easily visible (and centrally located) in a brain dissection.   For a long time, nobody knew what it actually did, but it turns out to be an endocrine gland dealing mostly with circadian rhythms.

tephlon:  Yeah, kids will age you all right.

Personally, my hairline started receding at 16.  (Male pattern baldness.)  In contrast, I suspect my brothers-in-law still get carded sometimes, in their 40's.

 

Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: I started going gray at 29, but I still get zits. My body has no idea what age it wants to be.
Barbara Courter (bjexcou) says: A little extra weight fills out the wrinkles & makes you look years younger!  (That's my story & I'm sticking to it)
Joyce Melton (halfelven) says: I got one of those varsity letters for Scholastic Bowl. :)
fluffy <3 (fluffy) says: Short guys are cute and therefore snuggly. Smart short guys are just awesome.
Pete Bleackley (petethemadscientist) says: "Varsity letters" are one of those references that just don't cross the pond.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Heh.
kicking_ k (kicking_k) says: I don't know what varsity letters are, either, though our school did have a successful science quiz team which I was on. Sadly, none of us went on to be actual scientists, since a memory for trivia isn't the same as a flair for experiment.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Tuesday:

Larry, too, holds his wineglass in his left hand.

Today's Cartoonish Implication: Dave is hiding behind Helen's back in panel 3.
Jeffrey Channing Wells (channing) says: Nonsense.  Like anyone with a lick of sense, Dave elected to "hide" over by the buffet.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Exposition time:  "Varsity" is the top level of high school competition.  (There's also a lower "junior varsity", or "jayvee".)  If you got enough actual playing time, you earned your "letter jacket".  In my day, this jacket had a thick cloth chest & back, with vinyl sleeves, and a cloth letter for the name of the school.  (For example, Acme High School would have a big letter "A" on the front.)

At my school, lettermen also got pins to show which sports they played.  A number of jerks jocks would have multiple pins.  These arrogant jackasses muscular guys were much sought after by the shameless bi popular girls.

Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says: The Wikipedia article on "letterman" does a reasonable job of explaining the phenomenon. I have no idea what the UK public school equivalent might be - mayhap a double-fagged prefect with a stein on top? :-)
Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: I lettered in Forensics and Math Team. Also, my senior year they started giving out academic letters for high GPAs, so I got a third one. I actually own a letter jacket with two of the academic letters on it (they changed designs my senior year, so I have two styles, and the third one is in a box somewhere).
Sean McLane (zodo) says:

I got a letter in Debate in High School, AND the Captain Star.

Of course, they didn't give us the letter jacket for free like they did for the football and basketball players, and my parents didn't think the 200+ dollar price was all that practical.

Brian Rogers (billionsix) says: Why would tall girls have trouble? Tall girls are the sexy!
Martha Mintz (muffinthamighty) says: I have had many a crush on small, perfect men in college.  I call them "man bites" because they are tiny and delicious.  
Sor Cyress (sorcyress) says: @Ed Hey now! As a legitmately bi girl, I resent the implication that I'm somehow "popular" I believe the word that you're actually looking for is Barsexual - http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=barsexual
Pete (westrider) says:

I think Ed was actually abbreviating a rather offensive term with three more letters there, rather than making a reference to bisexuality.

I've never understood why people have a proble with being part of a couple where the woman is taller than the man. Even setting aside the fact that most of the really tall women I've met have been incredibly hot, I just don't see why it would matter at all, any more than if the two people's eye colours didn't match.

Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:

Pete: I never thought it was a problem, but the guys often did.
James Rice (jhrice) says:

    I never thought it was a problem, but the guys often did.

Any guy that has that problem probably has other problems too. 

On another topic, Shaenon is now officially the most fortunate person posting here.  I am envious in every atom of my body. 

 

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "The Letter", by The Box Tops)
(AKA "My Baby Wrote Me A Letter")

First, debugged device designed for doomsday,
Then got toasted by a death ray ...
Spent a day in Hell!
Helen made me well!
She killed me, but then I got better!

John Campbell (jcampbel) says: Dave's conflating Helens again.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Wednesday:

It's interesting that the young and innocent pre-homicide Helen, a girl whose personality was once dismissed as "pure marshmallow", still unintentionally (?) inspired a palpable degree of disquiet in her peers, who, one can assume, weren't judging her entirely by her lineage.

What is that lady doing with her eyelids in panel 3? How does one figure out to draw that extra defining line, anyway?
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: *snicker* How right they were... in the fanfic, it's even become a generational habit.
Johnn Reynolds (sleepyjohn) says: "This woman" has the serene, plasticized look of someone who has spent the last two days in a salon chair, preparing for her tenth year reunion, so that she would look as timeless and unchanging as a Formica tabletop.  If she had spent those days planning her revenge, she'd look a lot more lively.
Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says: Something is amiss, JPEG-wise...
James Rice (jhrice) says: I don't see anything wrong.
Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says: Ah - fixed now - it was showing yesterday's strip with today's commentary.
Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says: What Dave REALLY wants is a Cell Processor - the one in the PS3.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: *snicker*
Leon Arnott (l) says: Thursday:

What I find kind of surprising is how few and far between are the occasions where Dave does consider his employee-employer relationship to Ms. Narbon. Then again, it has been the rule up to now that, due to the very unusual science involved, most of Dave's incurred pain and suffering is quite beyond legal liability.

This, now that I think of it, sharply reveals how uncharacteristically mundane this particular storyline is. It's perhaps the least mad storyline to star both Helen and Dave in this whole webcomic.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Looks like Dave's cache-ing in his chips.

Pete (westrider) says: What Masculine Wiles? He's a Nerd!
Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says: nerd = wiles[masculine];
Joyce Melton (halfelven) says: Actually, Dave has that incipient middle-age hunchback thing going pretty good in the first panel. Like a Neanderthal at the sockhop. What the heck do you imagine could be better?
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Heh. Heh. Heh.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Friday:

These overbalanced speech balloons can be avoided in two ways: either learning to write smaller, or, less obviously, adding an extra interstitial panel. In today's case, perhaps two. (And maybe, he says with a maniacal grin, the extra drawing could be considered a psychological impetus to paring down one's script in future!)

Minor character stowing away on major characters' excursion: 2. Can't they have any privacy?
Leon Arnott (l) says:
"Which is worse...
...Dave being THAT pathetic, or the fact that he couldn't tell he had a gerbil in his pocket?
"
--Joseph Prisco, 15 Nov. 2002
Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: Well, he IS happy to see her....
Johnn Reynolds (sleepyjohn) says: So he has a gerbil in his pocket AND he's glad to see her!
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Rocket Man", by Elton John)

And I'm sitting in the corner of the room,
As Helen's planning to deliver doom!
What's more, my suit has got a stowaway.
(What can I say?)

He's my pocket pal ...
Pocket pal!
Tellin' him my boss looks really cute ...
While the others watch me talking to my suit ...

Pete (westrider) says: @Tiff: I guess that is kinda true these days. Mostly, though, I was just quoting Mell talking about Madblood.
Adam Underfoot (unnatural20) says: Now, is this point /after/ "A Brief Moment of Culture"?
Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says: @Pete: It's the only "masculine" I got :-)
Joyce Melton (halfelven) says: What do you mean, looks like John Waters? That is John Waters. But you must have the word balloons reversed.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: *snicker*
Leon Arnott (l) says: Saturday:

I wouldn't mind a strip of just Dave feigning madness to the satisfaction of onlookers. It would either be ironic, or the exact opposite.

Much as I appreciate the change of scenery, I have to ask: how tall is the ceiling in this place?!
Johnn Reynolds (sleepyjohn) says:

High school reunions always happen in the gym, so you can remember being shoved into your locker.

Kevin Peckham (detailbear) says: Background Guy 2 has a passing resemblance to Dave.
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The education bestowed on Shaenon K. Garrity by her parents had been expensive, athletic and prolonged. ... full profile