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Raging Pencils by Mike "Lefty" Stanfill

The Family Circus Homicide Advent Calendar, Day Fourteen: Barfy bites the Big One

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Watch This!

wish for wings that workEach year Beloved Girlfriend and I set aside two or three nights leading up to Xmas Eve and wallow in the nostalgia of seasonal-themed videos. I know you probably don't care but the following is a list of what we favor in no particular order... save one. More about that in a minute.

(1) Die Hard: Yes, the original Bruce Willis classic. In case you forgot, it's set at Xmas time. Although there are no Christian lessons to be learned from this movie, other than "shoot all the bad guys", it affords us an opportunity to watch a first-class action flick at least once year.

(2) Charlie Brown Christmas/How the Grinch Stole Christmas: These two should only be watched in uncut, wide-screen DVD format. Take your "yellow Grinch" VHS versions out back and burn them now. Buy a DVD player for Cthuhlu's sake! And don't even think of watching either version on free or cable TV as they're both so edited for time it's embarrassing.

(3) Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The charm of this production is its classic, clunky, unapologetic stop-motion animation. If nothing else it's taught several generation of animators that you can cut corners and still tell a swell story.

(3B): A Christmas Story: I love Jean Shepherd and I realize some people almost build their whole seasonal experience around this thing but I can only stomach a viewing every couple of years. Sue me.

(4) A Wish For Wings That Work: This is a wholly-original, quirkily animated tale featuring Berke Breathed's "Bloom County" bunch, though mostly Opus the penguin, Bill the Fruit-of-the-Loom-wearing cat and Elvis. I have no earthly idea why this isn't more popular.

(5) A Muppet Family Christmas: This frenetic production features almost EVERY muppet character ever made arriving all at once at Fozzi's childhood home, much to his mother's chagrin (Even though the Fraggles are there the Doozers and the Gorgs didn't make it. Shucks.) There's lots of good music and a ton of bad jokes. It's a true confection, topped off by the delicious cherry that is Ms. Piggy. Oh, and there's a surprise guest that will leave you teary-eyed. Guaranteed. (For copyright reasons this production is not commercially available on DVD in America but bootlegs abound on the net. There's a really lousy copy on youtube but it at least features the entire, unedited program.)

(6) Rick Steve's European Christmas: A recent addition to the collection, Rick is the Mr. Roger's of world travel, as witnessed by his wonderful PBS travel programs. This DVD features heartwarming and unusual (to Americans, at least) Christmas customs as practiced in England, France, Austria, Sweden, Norway and Switzerland.

(7) The Muppet Christmas Carol: This is the jewel in the crown, the one we save to watch every Xmas Eve as we snuggle together in our jammies waiting for Santa. The interpretation is stellar, with Michael Caine as a note-perfect Scrooge, and it hits all the right emotional buttons with a minimum of treacle. It just wouldn't be Saturnalia without it.

Addendum: The girlfriend has her limits so I privately enjoy copies of Ren & Stimpy's "Have Yourself a Stinky Little Christmas", The Animaniacs "Hellooooo, Holidays" (Both VHS only) , "Pee-Wee's Playhouse Christmas Special" and, last but not least, "Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol".

I hope I mentioned one or two of your favorites, and if there's a title you'd be certain that I'd enjoy, please email me. Cheers!


I've encouraged my family to spend a little less on gifts this year and to instead give more to charity. One of the biggest arguments against this idea, from a relative who I think just likes getting free stuff, is that not buying consumer goods slows down the U.S. economy.

Not so, I argue. Think of it this way... suppose you take the money you were going to spend on a copy of The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and give it to, say, your local food bank. The money will go to paying for food grown locally, which keeps U.S. food producers in the black. Whereas the flying fuck is made in China, so all that does is skew the balance of payments in the wrong direction.

So if I've managed to convince you of the wisdom of my argument, and you haven't already blown the Xmas budget on flying thingies, then visit the Second Harvest/Feeding America website and they'll give you all the details on how to help a food bank in your area.

And thanks.


end rant

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Today's Google Chow.

The Family Circus Homicide Advent Calendar, Day 14: Barfy bites the Big One.
"Colorblind? I'm dead!"was the last Barfy said
As he couldn't tell the blue wire from the red.

(PS, management reserves the right to alter punchlines any time it damn well pleases. )