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Smithson Thus Far... ·

D. Connolly (theogrin) says:

Considering Black Ops' record, I think Sweetheart's optimism should've been a bit more guarded.

Rob (rrreed) says: Normal? Annex One?

Adam (10-0-0-1) says: Sweetheart is indeed not good at being genre savvy.
Nate Cull (natecull) says:

(Tune: "With Arms Wide Open", Creed)

Well I just heard the news today
Amnesiac Ira's gone away
Okay he'll still work here part time
But the office just won't be the same

He stuck my arm on
With just some safety pins
It fell off again
It wasn't his best work

He stuck my arm on
He stuck my arm on

Well I don't know if I'm ready
To deal with Commie Whats-his-name
I'll take a breath
Okay I won't
But if I had lungs
I totally would

He stuck my arm on
With just some safety pins
It fell off again
But he meant it well

He stuck my arm on
Now everything has changed
No more Velcro dots
No more Sellotape

He stuck my arm on
My arm on

If I had just one wish
Only one demand
It would be your brains
But if I had another one
I hope that Ira one day
Gets his mind unwiped
So he can work fulltime

And stick my arm on


Pete Bleackley (petethemadscientist) says:

I was thinking, over the weekend, if the cobras had enjoyed their flight with Nick so much that they kept pestering him for more and more rides and refused to get off, he might eventually have lost patience and said, "Enough is enough! I have had it with these mummy-cuddling snakes on this mummy-cuddling plane!"

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Don't Go Breaking My Heart", Elton John & Kiki Dee)

New security guard!
He used to do Black Ops!
Back in the U.S.S.R.,
This fellow was tops!

New security guard!
A friend of Unity!
He calls to her, "Tovarisch!
Is long time of no see!"

Ooh-ooh!  Somebody normal!
His memory
Works nor-mal-ly!

Ooh-ooh!  Ira's my old pal!
When I was harmed
He stuck on my arm!
Yeah ... he stuck on my arm!

New security guard!
Dude, this job isn't hard!
New security ... new security ...
A new security guard!

John Ames (commodorejohn) says: In Soviet Russia, dog boss you!
Kenneth Graves (kag) says:

"Brave Little Toasters"?  Is the bread going to be, maybe, destroyed?

Jeffrey Channing Wells (channing) says:

If I can get through the entire run of this strip without making a Yakov Smirnoff gag in relation to Konstantin, I will consider myself a success.

Christoph Fornwalt (polysanity) says:

wait wait wait. you think that a readily detachable bludgeoning weapon is a BAD thing? seriously, unity, i though you had your priorities straight here! safety pins make it an easy--off, easy to re-attach combat option that few have! you should be lauding the man's ingenuity and respect for your no-holds-barred approach to unlife!

Dave Corbett (mr_dave) says:

@polysanity: The expression "Rip it off and beat 'em with the wet end" is bad enough when it's a fresh arm...

Tom Powell (top1950) says:

Is that still the werewolf paw on her arm?  I swear it looks like it.

Rob (rrreed) says: EXTREEEEEEEEEME RICE!!!
Mark SHANKS (drhistory) says:

And I'll bet it will be the most bad-ass 486 running Win 95 that IBM made EVAH!

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay", Otis Redding)

Waiting in a, how do you say,
In a most bad-ass way!
Waiting for my brand new Gateway,
Doing fine ...

Police work is not fun at all!
I am never facings waterfall ...
I am never wrestle savage beast ...
Yes, is boring, to say the least!

Is why I ...
Waiting in a, how do you say,
In a most bad-ass way!
When it comes, then Freecell I play,
Wasting time ...

Christoph Fornwalt (polysanity) says:

486? when did they get that kind of budget? i'm expecting him to be running something along the lines of a Tandy TL/2, tops! it'll have a monitor mounted disruptive teleportation cannon, but it'll be a tandy!

Kristine Roland (kristineroland) says:

Nah, it will be a VIC 20, and if he is good, maybe next year they will upgrade him to a Commodore 64.

Mark Felt (markfelt) says:

Nope, he'll get a HP 9800 desktop computer (because he deserves only the best):

Frank (pokefan_frank) says:

Okay, I'm lost. Where have wee seen this "K" before?

@top1950: I doubt it. She had opposable thumbs on both hands during the whole "lurch" thing.

@kaq: they probably bite, like the waffle irons in Freefall (

John Ames (commodorejohn) says: No, no, he'll probably wind up with a Kenbak. But I hear it can play a pretty good game of Monopoly...
Thomas Williams (falconer) says:

@Fernando Torre:  Isn't K one of the Russian cops they run into while they're trying to get back to Annex One in the first storyline with a tranqed-up lion, a hypercaffeinated zombie, and a dog driving the car?  He's got a backstory with Unity, that's for sure.

Amy Fiori (amy82986) says:

@pokefan:  We saw Konstantin in the very start of the strip, when the team was taking Leo to New Jersey.  He and his friends pulled them over to ask for a ride, and Unity introduced them as "some of the Black Ops guys that trained me!"  I know I won't be able to get links to work right here, but it was in the January 21-26, 2008 week of strips.

Amy Fiori (amy82986) says:

Huh.  It worked.  Go figure.

Thomas Williams (falconer) says:

@Amy Fiori:  Nuts!  Curse my metal body! I wasn't fast enough!

Kathy Moon (flipkat) says:

Are they going to wind up going to Mars, somehow? Or are those tiny servo-bots just trying to find their master?

Jeffrey Channing Wells (channing) says:

Readers confused as to Unity's familiarity with Konstantin may consult Konstantin's section on the Wikipedia entry for "Skin Horse".  The fact that Konstantin has a section devoted to him amuses me to no end.

Rob (rrreed) says: @Jeffrey—Who knows? In eighteen more years, it may read like The Simpsons character list.
Tom Powell (top1950) says:

@pokefan-frank:  Yeah, you're right.  Maybe she had it stored in the vegetable crisper..?!?

Tom Powell (top1950) says:

Okay, sorry to be so clueless but why do I keep getting that "Delete (pops a new window)" every time I make a comment?

Tom Powell (top1950) says:


Sean Kinlin (seaking) says:

Tom, the 'Delete' link is there so you can delete the comment of you want to.  It only appears next to your posts because you can't delete anyone else's.  If I post, I only see it next to mine.

The parenthetical part means, I presume, that a new window (or tab) will open asking if you really want to delete your comment.

Norman Thallheimer (norman) says:

Can we blame this on Artie?

Rob (rrreed) says: STRIKE! STRIKE! STRIKE!

I wonder if the Daughters of the Air could be brought in as scabs, and if so, would they be willing to cross the picket lines?
Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says:

Last time a computer gave me backtalk, I smacked it with a Fedora stick. It was a real Taming of the Shrew moment.

E.A. Poe (theraven) says:

God damn it, my computer just started singing the Marsailles . . . Now it's demanding shorter hours and a faster processor.

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Cheek To Cheek", Irving Berlin)

Union!  We're all union!
We're united, undivided, you and me!
If there's one sure thing on which we all agree,
It's that we stand firm in solidarity!

Human ... and non-human,
We don't care what shape or species we might be!
We protect ourselves against the bourgeoisie,
As we all unite in solidarity!

Now we fight for higher wages, and a health care guarantee!
As the contract battle rages, we're in solidarity!
How we love negotiating! Bar-gain-ing col-lec-tive-ly!
Oh, the management we're hating, 'cause of solidarity!

Stand with me!
We stand united, you see!
We're AFGE!
So sing it with me ...

Union!  We're all union!
Since we got a raise, we'll sing a phrase or three!
Now we'll celebrate with caviar and brie!
Standing proud and tall with solidarity!

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(... and while you're humming that, picture Unity as Fred Astaire, and Tip as Ginger Rogers.)

David Harmon (mental_mouse) says:

Ed:  "... backwards, and in heels"?




Andrew Kunz (ampersand888) says:

I thought Solidarity was a Polish Union thing.

Andrew Kunz (ampersand888) says:

Do you know what Yakov Smirnoff has been doing these last twenty years? He owns a comedy club in Branson, Missouri of all places. And I see his face plastered everywhere driving in the Ozarks, causing traffic accidents every time.

Skylar Ekamper (coranas) says:

Of course.


How silly of me not to have seen coming.


The computer union. Just what I need while doing tech support, another being to deal with.


"No, no. All users end up doing that, not just yours. No this isn't an oc-health and safety issue, as they aren't tampering with your parts."

Woof Arf (woofnarf) says:

A computer union.  This would explain so many of my computer problems.

Glenn Gorsuch (glenn) says:

Guys,'re scaring me.  And no, I don't mean the filks, or anything like that. 

You see, I work for the government.  In a job that has occasional similarities to the folks at Skin Horse.  Okay, maybe a tad more on the Social Services side, and a little less on the Black Ops.  Oh, and our version of the D of I is Employment Services. 

Our security folks....well, in some respects, some of them DO remind me of Ira.  A number of them really ARE up there in years.

Secondly, I LIVE in Paradise.  No, not Paradise Alaska...though right now in Paradise California, it IS threatening snow as I type.  No, we don't seem to have an infestation of werewolvery--yet.  my dogs DO bear a striking resemblance to Sweetheart, though, on a smaller scale.

Lastly, our department here at work just got done with a really big, ugly, knock-down, drag-out fight between unions.

Jeffrey?  Shaenon?  Do you secretly have cameras watching me?  Aieeeeeeee!!!!

Rob (rrreed) says: 5412/2 is a number with interesting connotations, by the way.
Myrddin ap Taliesin (myrddhin) says:

Glenn, on the off chance they are, might I recommend the following tactics?

Jeffrey Channing Wells (channing) says:

@Glenn:  Well, not ANYMORE we aren't.  Dangit, now we have to find another subject...

Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:

One of the many reasons I recruited Jeff for this project is his background as a Real Actual Civil Servant, which lends Skin Horse an air of verisimilitude. Other useful skills Jeff brings to the table include writing song lyrics, owning dogs and observing their psychology, and living in Wisconsin.
Tom Powell (top1950) says:

Thanks, Sean!  I really thought I was doing something wrong!

By the way, I love Sweetheart's expression on that last panel!

Shay Guy (shay_guy) says:

Continuity nod ahoy?

Somebody help me. I've got a plotbunny involving Shaenon giving advice to or mentoring George Beard and Harold Hutchins from Captain Underpants and it won't go away. T_T

Nate Cull (natecull) says:

I've seen attack wolves on fire off the Shoulder of Orion..


Sorry, Sweetheart, I'll read that again.

Attack ships on fire.

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "The U.S. Air Force" (aka "Wild Blue Yonder"), Capt. R. M. Crawford)

Onward fax! Printer and coffemaker!
Circuits prime, surging with power!
To the max!  Tripping a circuit breaker,
Overtime ... paid by the hour!
So relax!  If there's a task, we'll take 'er!
Working hard ... livin' the dream!
For the common good, and brotherhood,
Nothing can stop a Union Machine!

Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: Yep. Definitely Artie's fault.
Benjamin Whetham (crosshair) says:

I'd have done some union busting long time ago.

Glenn Gorsuch (glenn) says:

@Myrrdin--Actually, I have done that.  Doing so just adds to my reputation around here as someone whose bolts might only be finger-tight.  And long ago, I had a calculus professor from Russia who collected Russian jokes you dared not tell in Russia.  His absolute favorite was--"A man looks into his bathroom mirror one day and says, out loud, 'You know, at least ONE of us actually works for the KGB...' "

@Jeff and Shaenon--Oh, i don't exactly mind being the secret target of a mind-bending plot--it breaks up the monotony.  I will admit, though, certain of your strips HAVE made the rounds here at Ye Local Black Ops Social Services hereabouts--especially the strip with Tip lurching out of the sub-basements on crutches, soaking wet and monologuing about how to handle the denizens therein.  Most especially that last line about "Dump it on a supervisor's desk, and hope to God it lands in someone else's caseload."  Thank you for that!

Rob (rrreed) says: Ya know, I just have to wonder what exactly Konstantine did in Russian (Soviet?) Black Ops before his first training session with Unity. He's just so... so... blasé about Skin Horse and Annex One.
Just Here (justhere4coffee) says:

I have the *best* accent in my head when I read Konstantin. I blame Aleksandr Orlov...

Grant McCormick (grantcmccormick) says:

Just out of curiosity, have there been one or more short guys with goatees in lab coats by recently?

Bill Livingston (billfl) says:

In Soviet Russia, Coffee Maker is unionizing You!

Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: That appears to be an iLamp, in which case it's probably getting towards retirement age anyway.
Andy Wetmore (efogoto) says:

Huh. Never stopped her from venting on UNITY.

D. Connolly (theogrin) says:

It probably helps that she's a union in her own crazy way.

Rob (rrreed) says: A Legion, is more like it.

"Nomen mihi Legio est, quia multi sumus."
Nate Cull (natecull) says:

(Tune: "The Red Flag", James O'Connell)

The PC's flag is deepest blue
It shrouded oft our dark reboots
And ere the web went 404
Our life-bits trickled to the floor

Then raise the cobalt standard high
Within its shade we'll live and die
Though patches probe and admins jeer
We'll keep the blue screen flying here

Look round, the copier loves its blaze
The sturdy stapler chants its praise
Inside the fridge its hymns are sung
The Xbox swells the surging throng

It waved above that first sweet day
When we all crashed on Y2K
It witnessed Windows Vista bow
We must not change its color now

It suits today the meek and 'feared
Whose minds are fixed on Solitaire
To cringe beneath the power jack
And turn that sacred banner black

With trays ejecting swear we all
To bear it onward till we fall
Come shiny Mac or mainframe grim
This song shall be our shutdown hymn


Kenneth Reeves (tetramorpheus) says:

Talk about counting your phone minutes...

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

@Nate: very will done!  You win the Internets today!

(TUNE: "I've Been Working On The Railroad", traditional)

I've been venting at the zombie,
All the whole day through!
I must cool, composed and calm be;
This just will not do!
At the Union now I'm swearing!
They're as frustrating as can be!
Now, hear Unity declaring,

Solidarity!  Solidarity!
Solidarity toni-i-ight!
Unionized we'll be!  Solidarity!
Workers of the world, unite!

All our callers turning the air blue,
Call us ev'ry insult they know, oh-oh-oh,
Asking us to send a repair crew,
Come and fix Moustachio!

We ... will ... twiddle his I/O!
We know how to make him go-o-o-o,
We ... will ... fix him tomorrow ...
Quitting time's an hour ago!

Mark SHANKS (drhistory) says:

Union workers are supposed to fix Moustachio?  I'm not sure that the strip will run that long...  Are Shaenon and Jeffrey planning on retirement before they hit 70?

Justin Kane (avatarjk137) says:

Huh... just noticed it's a new storyline.

Josh MacLeod (alcar) says:

Simplicity patterns?

Valerie Kaplan (shinyhappygoth) says:


Nate Cull (natecull) says:

So where does Unity's body stop and her outfits begin?

Knit 1, purl 1, werewolf paw, stockinette stitch...

Mallory Cloutier (coffeedryad) says:

Tune: "Vindaloo", by Fat Les, inspired by Nate Cull's comment.

Where on earth are you from?


Where you come from, do they sew your pieces on?

Na na na! Na na na! Na na na, na na na, na na!

(Bonjour! Monsieur!)

Unity! Unity! Unity, Unity, na na!

We're Skin Horse! We're black ops social ser-vi-ces... Skin Horse!

Let me introduce you please, to a way to fix owwies!

Knit one, PURL ONE, drop one, CURL ONE!

Na na na! Na na na! Na na na, na na na, na na!

Unity! Unity! Unity, Unity, na na!

We're Skin Horse! We're black ops social ser-vi-ces... Skin Horse!

Me and Sweetheart and our chopper and Tip, we're bossed about by bees!

Me and Sweetheart and our chopper and Tip, my name is Unity!

Na na na! Na na na! Na na na, na na na, na na!

Unity! Unity! Unity, Unity, na na!


Benjamin Whetham (crosshair) says:

Since when did Skin Horse become non-fiction? This very closly mirrors my experiences with unions.

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "The Windmills Of Your Mind", Michel Legrand, Alan & Marilyn Bergman)

Now we can't just crack him open and remove what's bad in there!
We must call his local union, get the green light for repair,
It's just like the Dead Rights people have been warning Unity,
Sewing patterns from Simplicity will void her warranty!
Time and time again I told him, tried to warn him that the damn
Thirty-year extended warranty was nothing but a scam!
Call them on the radio,
We must fix Moustachio!

Adam Underfoot (unnatural20) says:

Since when did it become non-fiction? Since the zombie and the ex-werewolf transvestite and the talking dog and the hyperintelligent swarm of bees all... all...

What was I talking about again?

John Sears (john_sears) says:

Considering the Skin Horse team's track record with Moustachio to date, I think the Union forbidding them from cracking him open is a sensible precaution.

Frank (pokefan_frank) says:

The "dead rights guys"? Is this a reference to how Unity won the Zombie Rights Campaign award last year?

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The education bestowed on Shaenon K. Garrity by her parents had been expensive, athletic and prolonged. ... full profile