Tuesday, June 30, 2015

1228: Still Not Sure How I Feel About Uncle Ted

"I usually start out reading about what Obummer is doing. Did you know he wasn't even born in this country? He wants to give us all healthcare and gay marriage and equal pay for women to distract us from the real problem--immigrants from Kenya coming into our country from Mexico. Also, Benghazi."

You know what section of the newspaper I read first? I scroll through the news articles of the day and see what catches my fancy. On the rare occasion I read a physical newspaper, I read the local and national news first. The one section I don't touch. Sports. I already get enough information on sports, teams and player that I don't care about from Twitter.

Monday, June 29, 2015

1227: There Are Other Tea Cozy Companies?!

Does Brutus ask for a promotion every week? I mean, he literally just asked for one 15 days ago. The only difference is this excuse uses "quality of work" to deny the promotion. You know, if Brutus spent the time he used asking for a promotion actually doing work then maybe he wouldn't need to ask for a promotion.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

1226: I've Killed Off People In Five of Today's Strips

The body was found, pulverized into the ground by a bowling ball. Witnesses claimed that Phil was just playing catch with his loyal Great Dane, but none saw what happened. But they did see and it terrified them all for the rest of their lives.

Does Puddles have a spinal deformity? I ask because Puddles is vaguely reminiscent of this dog that is currently the ugliest dog in the world:

I believe this was the first Calvin and Hobbes strips where I began to question whether what happened was in Calvin's imagination or actually happening. Calvin's still cornered by the bike and is even planning on spending the rest of his life living on the roof while if this was in his imagination, the bike would become lifeless upon his parent's return.

I guess it's good that murderers, rapists and thieves can still maintain friends despite being murderers, rapists and thieves. Bad news for fans of tabloid talk shows though.

I hate when I'm looking up at the clouds and wind up getting my face ripped off by a squirrel.

Or, they can just figure out a way to keep the cube shut and be rid of their County Weirdly problem once and for all.

I can't believe they are trusting me to use a shovel and dig a hole, Daddy Keane thinks, imagining clubbing his children and wife and then tossing their bodies in the hole. As the shovel goes into the ground, hitting the rock, Daddy's face twists in pain and he collapses.

"Don't forget who's in charge here," Billy said as they all stood over Daddy Keane. "We know what you're thinking but it won't work. We're here forever."

"We may act like kings now but soon we will stretch ourselves too thin. There will not be enough food or water and it's hard to conclude what will finally end us--famine, drought or war--but a mass extinction is coming and it's coming hard."

Does Brutus look thinner in today's strip? Maybe Brutus has been sleeping more.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

1225: NuPenny's Last Stand

It's Free State Festival Week in my hometown where my city becomes about 25% weirder. An art installation sponsored by the University of Kansas's Spencer Museum of Art is a NuPenny Toy Stand by Randy Regier. The location is secret but if you know people who have found it, they will tell you or you could probably figure it out. I figured out its location based on the pictures people were posting.

It was actually quite cool and I'm glad we all went out to look at it before the artist gave every one directions today.

Is Wilberforce thinking about becoming a vegetarian or is he just asking a random question in order to learn more about Hattie? I've thought about becoming a vegetarian but those thoughts don't last long as I love meat--all kinds. I know how we get our meat. It's disgusting but just about everything we do is disgusting when you really think about it.

Come on. Do it. Really think about it.

Friday, June 26, 2015

1224: I Had a Title But I Forgot It

Okay, I'm going to delve into the secret origin of today's strip. Chip had something planned out and when he was trying to explain it to his wife to garner a reaction and forgot what he was going to write. She ended up laughing hysterically at Chip's bumbling so he wrote this strip. Unfortunately, now his wife expects to laugh like that at all his strip ideas and it's putting too much pressure on him.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

1223: I'm Sure He'll Still Have Room for Supper

Lawrence was the capital of Free-State Kansas back in the days of Bleeding Kansas and the Civil War so you wouldn't think there would be any Confederate soldiers buried here but there is. There is only one and you wouldn't know where to look unless you knew he was there.

Private Gray Boulware served in the 9th Virginia Cavalry. The 9th was formed in January 1862. It was commanded by Colonels Richard L.T. Beale, John E. Johnson, William H.F. Lee (a son of General Robert E. Lee) and Thomas Waller. The 9th saw battles at, among others, Second Manassas, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg and Williamsport. Late in the war, they skirmished around Richmond and Petersburg.

The Boulware's were a prominent family in South Carolina and Virginia. I don't know when or why Mr. Boulware came to Kansas but on February 13, 1895, he died in Topeka of "paralysis."
News release of Mr. Boulware's passing from the Lawrence Daily Gazette,
February 14, 1895.

Pvt. Gray Boulware's gravestone in Oak Hill Cemetery.
I've never understood eating popcorn outside of a movie theater. When I think of getting a snack, popcorn never even makes the list and I usually have a pretty long list of snack foods. One of my favorite snack foods was Totino's Cheese Nachos. They were essentially pizza rolls except instead of pizza flavored insides, they were nacho based. My favorite was cheese but the beef were pretty good, too. I guess they don't make them anymore and I can't even find a picture of them online. Those things on Brutus' plate kind of look like them. Maybe Brutus hoarded them. They'd only be about ten or so years old now. They'd still be good.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

1222: What's In the Cup? Chocolate Milk?

Time to go out and buy a box of plastic silverware if you are truly out of regular ones. You know, like a real diner would.

Actually, a real diner probably wouldn't allow their spoon supply run so low that it would be possible for all of them to be in the dishwasher. Why isn't someone hand-washing a few because that is quicker than waiting for the dishwasher to run. Why does Brutus keep coming here? How is this place still open? It's terrible.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

1221: Like This


I going to ignore the obvious question this strip should be subjected to (Who are they talking to?) and point you all to the Tauy Creek Facebook Page. It's pretty bare right now but I'm hoping to use it to not only post what goes on here but to also share and post similarly related stuff that happens online. Please Like it or I'm going to send Gladys out to your house and have her do what she's doing to Brutus in the last panel.

Dick Van Patten, 1928-2015

Dick Van Patten, best known as the patriarch Tom Bradford on the television series Eight Is Enough, has passed away. He was 86.

Monday, June 22, 2015

1220: Smartphone...Dumb Owner

I went to an education conference in Wichita a couple days which is why there was no Born Loser most of last week. It was an interesting conference but what I really enjoyed was spending some time in Kansas' largest city. I had never been to Wichita except just on the outskirts while travelling to and from Houston back in 2001. While we didn't do too much there, we went to the Mid-American All-Indian Cultural Center and the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum. A major feature of the Cultural Center is the Keeper of the Plains, a statue created by Comanche-Kiowa artist Blackbear Bosin. He also painted a beautiful mural inside the Center called "From Whence All Life".

When you enter the Center, you are greeted by this totem that tells the history of Kansas. I wish I could've gotten a better picture of each section and maybe even a translation but it's really hard to photograph a totem.

Chaac, the Mayan rain god.

Mingled with the United States flag and Kansas flag are the flags of all of the recognized Indian Nations of our country.
These flags hang about the dance floor in the Cultural Center.

"From Whence All Life" panoramic photo. It started out really good and then got a little warped about halfway
through. It was painted by Blackbear Bosin and represents Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico.
"Prairie Fire" by Blackbear Bosin. This tile painting is placed at Bosin's memorial
as you walk to the Keeper.

The Keeper of the Plains, overlooking Downtown Wichita at the confluence of the Arkansas
and Little Arkansas Rivers.
The Keeper of the Plains at night lit by a ring of fire.
The Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum is located in the Old City Hall. The Old City Hall was built in 1890. It is an amazingly beautiful building listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Historical Museum features a very in-depth history of Wichita and Sedgwick County from pre-history to the 1960s. There is a massive display featuring transportation--especially aviation. Other exhibits include Wichita founder history, business history, how children lived throughout Wichita history, replicas of an old drug store and schoolroom, how women lived, among a lot of other things. The museum did a really good job of trying to preserve at least the memory of things that no longer exist and that's something I like seeing in museums.

A couple of the more interesting things I grabbed a picture of was this Carry Nation tribute(?). Nation was a radical member of the temperance movement who would attack taverns with a hatchet to destroy the bar and liquor supply.
The display features one of Nation's hatchets, a small hatchet pin with Nation's name etched into it, and a comic describing the two choices men have to make in life. You can either drink alcohol, become a drunk and fall into a ditch. Or, you can be a teetotaler, abstain from alcohol and live in a nice house. The choice is yours, men.

In the children's exhibit, there was a small display for radio shows. In a case were these books featuring radio show properties although, with the exception of The Green Hornet, all these characters started out as comic strips. I would love to read one of these.

Yeah...that's one of the perks of smartphones.

Who forgets it's Monday? It's not like Monday is Wednesday or Thursday. You just had a weekend.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

1219: Charleston

We need to do better. It doesn't matter if this is a conservative issue, liberal issues, Republican issue, Democratic issue, race issue, police issue, mental health issue, what matters is that it is an issue. We cannot use the argument we always use. If bad people want a gun, they can get a gun but what we can do is make sure that bad people who don't have guns don't get them. But that's not going to happen. On December 14, 2012, we agreed that gun violence is okay no matter who it happens to.

Charleston is just the most recent shooting, as of this writing. Dylann Roof, who often claimed that blacks were "taking over", supported racial segregation and supported pre-Apartheid South Africa and the government of Rhodesia, went into the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, to attend a Bible study. He sat for nearly an hour participating in the study before pulling out a gun and saying "I have to do this". Roof killed nine people and was brought in, unlike several non-murdering black people lately, alive.

Roof chose the Emanuel A.M.E. Church due to its role in African-American history. The church was founded in 1816 by former members of other churches when the discrimination became too much. Having an all-black church was, for all intents and purposes at the time, illegal and the church was raided several times. In 1822, co-founder Denmark Vesey was implicated in a slave revolt plot and was executed, the church being burned down. In 1834, all-black churches were officially outlawed so the congregants met in secret. The church was also the center of the civil rights movements of the 1960s. If you can't see that this was a racially motivated shooting, then why did the shooter admit that he wanted to start a civil war, that he wanted to start a race war? Everything he has said and worn comes straight from white supremacist websites.

I understand why we aren't talking about the racism that persists in our country. It's hard to talk about because then our prejudices come to the surface and we'd have to confront those. Why we are fine with people--human beings--being routinely killed by police or gunned down because we view them as a threat is beyond me. Racism is not behind us. No amount of African American Presidents is going to end racism. Racism will end when society acknowledges the issues and works to end it. We can't just say that all people are equal and have it be so. A few years of progress cannot erase centuries of inhumane treatment.

This should be something we can work together to fix but people need to want to fix it and unfortunately, it just seems like there aren't enough of those people around. Let's put an end to this. No more innocent victims. No more grieving families. Let's do better.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Randy #1


“Yes, I know I was supposed to give you a manuscript a month ago but it’s been hard coming up with anything good, let alone cohesive,” Randy Brubaker said into the phone, a cigarette between this forefinger and middle finger of his right hand. His publisher had been after him to at least send them to look over. What he currently had written was more than nothing but not something they wanted to see. “I do have something written and I could send it to you if you want to read 1,600 pages of rambling bullshit. Okay. That’d be great. Three more months and you want at least 100 pages by then. I can do that. Thank you. Bye-bye.” Randy hung up and slumped to the desk. He took one last drag on his cigarette and put it out. He turned around to see his boyfriend of three years standing in the doorway with two suitcases. “This can’t be good.”

“You know we can’t do this anymore, Randy,” he said. “It hasn’t been good in almost a year and I just can’t take it anymore.”

Randy nodded. “No, I get it, Mose. Maybe I’ll see you around or we can keep in touch.”

“I don’t think that would be a good idea,” Mose said.

“That’s true. You don’t want to do to Aaron what you have done to me,” Randy said. Mose was taken aback. “Yeah, I know.”

“I’m going to go now.”

“Yeah, you better go,” Randy snapped. Mose left the apartment, the door closing behind him. Randy sat alone, motionless for a couple of minutes breathing very rhythmically. Finally, he took a deep breath and exhaled. “I think I handled that pretty well.” The phone rang and Randy grumbled and cursed. “Hello?” he answered.

“Randy? This is Erin.”

“Oh, hey, Erin. How is everything?”

“Could be better. Mom passed away,” Erin could be heard tearing up.

“Fuck,” Randy said softly. “This is turning into a very shitty day.”

“Why?” Erin sniffled.

“I’ll tell you when I get back to Kansas. I’ll be there as soon as I can,” he sighed.

After high school, Randy moved to Los Angeles to study writing at UCLA. After he graduated, he began trying to find something to write about. He discovered a high school girl who had had a stroke during her sophomore year. For a year, he talked to her and her family, taking notes and becoming close with her and learning about every aspect of her life before the stroke, during her countless surgeries and readjusting to teenage life. Randy then changed the names of the people involved, sold the book as fiction, cut ties with the family and rocked to the top of the bestseller list for his book detailing a realistic portrayal of a teenage stroke victim. He had survived the subsequent lawsuit brought on by the
girl’s parents and signed a deal with the publisher for another book which he was having trouble coming up with.

Erin picked him up from the Kansas City Airport and drove him back to Overland Park, a suburb in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area. Randy hadn't been back to Overland Park since he left for California. Being a city founded in the mid 20th Century and having most of its boom in the 1990s and 2000s, not much had changed. Big commercial retailers, franchise restaurants and houses all similar to the ones next to it lined the streets.

Not that parts of Los Angeles were any different.

"So what happened?" Randy asked when they exited into 119th Street from Interstate 35.

"It was her heart. She'd always had heart issues, you know, and she was a good sized woman," Erin said.

Randy chuckled. "Yeah, it runs in the family," he took note of his and Erin's more ample frames and their dad's. "Where did it happen?"

"She had been in the hospital for a couple of days. She went to take a nap and never woke up. Dad was with her so she wasn't alone."

"That's nice," Randy returned to looking out the window. "How are you?"

"Oh, I'm good. I got promoted to liaison director at work."

"What the hell is that?"

"A liaison is an intermediary between a client and the employee. I oversee all of the liaisons and assign them to cases."

"That sounds...what's a nice word for awful?"

Erin laughed. "I know it's no bestselling author but it puts a roof over mine and Aiden's head and food on our table," she explained.

"Aiden. That's his name. I wanted to ask about him but I forgot his name. I was hoping you'd bring it up. How's Aiden?"

"He's fine, you ass."

Erin pulled into the driveway of their childhood home, a modest 1970s ranch house in a slightly older neighborhood, of which there were few and getting fewer.

Randy and Erin walked in, their dad, Randall Senior, wa sitting, where he always did, at the small dining room table in a chair right next to the kitchen. A traveler's mug of probably cold coffee sat in front of him.

"Well look who it is," he snorted. "How you doing, Junior?"

"Please call me 'Randy', Dad," Randy corrected.

"I'm your father and I will call you whatever I want," Randall said. "Bastard."

"Aw, there's the love," Randy smiled at Erin. "How are you holding up, Dad?"

"Your Mom's the one who's dead," Randall began. "I'm doing great. How's the weather out in L.A.?" his Dad used a snarky tone for L.A., like most people from more conservative areas.

"It's good. It's weird not having a winter but after nearly ten years, I'm used to it. How's it been here?"

"Can't complain," he snorted again. "Where you staying?"

Randy quickly glanced at Erin and then back at his Dad. "Can I stay here? I didn't get a hotel, assuming I could just stay with you or Erin."

"That'd be fine," Randall said. "There's still a bed in your bedroom. You can sleep there."

"Great. We can get caught up on what's been happening."

"Funeral's in three days. Can we really catch up on ten years in three or four days? I doubt you'll stay much past the funeral."

"Hadn't planned on it but maybe I can stay a week. I do have to get a manuscript written and sent into my publisher soon though."

“You can’t write right here?” Randall questioned. “Your Mother would sit right there--” he pointed at the chair next to the large bay window “--
and do all her writing. Grocery lists, Christmas cards, get-well cards, thank-you letters…”

“Okay, I get it. I’ll stick around for awhile…”

“...Checks, she wrote a letter to the editor one time.”

“It’s not like I have anything waiting for me back in California,” he shrugged. “I guess I will go see my new room.”

Randy looked at the list he made as he pushed the shopping cart through the grocery store. The cart was already half full as during the last week, Randall hadn’t bought any groceries since he was at the hospital so the kitchen was pretty bare. He got to the meat section and began looking at and pricing the meat, trying to figure out how much he and his Dad would need.

“Randy?” a woman walked up to him with her own shopping cart. “Oh my God, what are you doing back in Overland Park?”

“Jess, right?” Randy was unsure.

“Yeah, it’s Jess. Jess Westgate,” she said.

“Okay, I knew that was right. Sorry, it’s been so long. How are you doing?”

She made an odd noise and exhaled loudly, her lips vibrated. “It’s been better but I’m back in school getting my degree in special education. I should be done next year.”

“Didn’t you marry Nathan?”

“I did. It was terrible and the marriage ended after three years. I still see him around. He lives with Brian,” Jess said.

“Brian? How’s he doing?” Randy asked. Brian was Randy’s best friend in high school. Randy always felt bad that he didn’t keep in contact with him but all ties had to be cut, not just 99 percent of them.

“Why I don’t I get ahold of everyone and we meet to get a drink? Can you come out tonight?” Jess asked.

Randy thought for second. “Who’s everyone?”

“You, me, Brian, Nathan and Chrissy.”

“Let’s do it. Two hours from now. I’ll meet the four of you at the Ace of Clubs.”

“Great. We’ll all see you then.”

“So what are you doing back in Overland Park?” Chrissy asked.

“My Mom passed away,” Randy said. “The funeral is in a couple of days. I said I would stay a week or so.”

“I’m so sorry, Randy,” Jess said. “How’s your Dad holding up?”

“Same ol’ Dad,” Randy chuckled. “He seems kind of lost though. Like he doesn’t know how to handle himself now.”

“As long as your parents were married, it’s probably like losing an appendage,” Chrissy said. She finished her drink and then looked at her cell phone. “Oh, it’s past eleven, I need to get home.”

“I should probably head out, too,” Jess said.

The girls cleared out leaving Randy, Brian and Nathan at the bar. “I’ve missed you,” Brian said.

“Oh, you’re going to get mushy aren’t you?” Randy whined.

“No, just letting you know,” Brian took a sip of his drink. “We were best friends and you decide to move to California and then you cut off contact with everyone. You only call your parents on birthdays and Christmas. How come you became such an ass?”

“I was always kind of an ass. It’s nothing new.”

“But it seems like after high school you reached a whole new level of ass. Tell me, how many friends do you have in California?”

Randy thought but then faked a laugh. “I don’t really have any but that doesn’t…” he looked at Brian and Nathan. “You’re right. Look, I’m here for a week and I would like to keep in touch after all this is over. We can hang out together, the three of us and the girls, when I’m not helping my Dad with funeral stuff.”

“It’ll be nice to have the gang back together,” Nathan said.

“It will,” Randy smiled.

When Randy returned to his Dad’s house, he grabbed his laptop and created a new document. He began typing and when he was done, he had ten pages of everything that had happened to him over the last three days.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Kansas School for the Deaf

In 1860, Philip A. Emery arrived in Kansas, in the Wakarusa River valley, to start a new life. He had previously lived in Indiana and worked for their state school for the deaf as a teacher. Thrilled that there was an educator who could teach deaf children, Jonathan Kennedy, who had three deaf children, persuaded Emery to start a school for the deaf. When Emery agreed, Kennedy borrowed $200 and went with Emery to find a suitable location for the school. They found a modest two-room house with an attic in Baldwin City. The rooms could be rented for $5 a month.

The school officially opened October 1861 but didn't receive its first student until December when Elizabeth Studebaker arrived from Clinton. In March 1862, the state legislature voted to assist the school by appropriating $500 per year to help with operational costs and twenty-five cents a day for each student. In 1864, it was decided that all state institutions should be located in Topeka so for a short period, the school was moved to Topeka but returned to Baldwin City the following year. The decision on the location was still up in the air as there became a bidding between Baldwin, Olathe and Topeka over the location for a new school for the deaf.
The first School for the Deaf near 10th & Indiana in Baldwin City. Note the wooden
sign typical of historical markers in Baldwin at this time. Via ksdeaf.org
On November 15, 1866, the Kansas State School for the Deaf and its 18 students left Baldwin City for Olathe and into a new stone building. The stone building was torn down in 1886 and replaced with a new administration and dormitory building and by 1893, enrollment at the school was over 200. The current administration and dormitory building was built in 1934.
The current Roth Administration Building. Via kansastravel.com
One of the more prominent pupils, and later teachers, at the school, was Luther Haden "Dummy" Taylor. Taylor was born in Oskaloosa in 1875. While most accounts say that he was born deaf, his family did not list him as such on the 1880 U.S. Census. He was listed, in the 1885 Kansas Census, as being a pupil at the Kansas School for the Deaf in Olathe. He remained at the school through his high school years pitching for the baseball team and boxing. After leaving the school, Taylor played for semi-pro and minor league baseball teams in Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. As of 1900, he was playing for team in Albany, New York.

He was called to play with the New York Giants in 1900 and in 1902, went to play for the Cleveland Broncos (later to be the Cleveland Indians) for more money but he was persuading to return to the Giants the next season. In 1903, new manager John McGraw turned the Giants into a formidable team being National League champions in 1904 and 1905. Taylor was sold to the Buffalo Bisons in 1909. Taylor would remain in the minor leagues until his retirement from baseball in 1915.
1903 image of Taylor on the New York Giants. Via Library of Congress.
Taylor would return to the Kansas School for the Deaf in 1915 where he would become the physical director and baseball coach. Taylor then moved to the Iowa School for the Deaf in and then the Illinois School for the Deaf. He continued to be very involved with baseball. In August 1958, Luther Taylor passed away at Our Savior's Hospital in Jacksonville, Illinois. He is interred with his first wife, Della, in Prairie City Cemetery in Baldwin City.
Gravestones for Luther and Della Taylor in Prairie City Cemetery. Photo by author.
The Kansas School for the Deaf continues a tradition started by Philip Emery back in 1861 of educating children despite the absence of hearing. Students are encouraged to live up to their full potential and are judged by contributions and character. For more information, please visit ksdeaf.org or the Kansas Deaf Cultural Center located on the Olathe campus.

The site of the original school in Baldwin City is currently a more modern home. The wooden marker, as seen in the above picture, no longer stands. A small stone sits near 10th Street and reads:
School for Deaf 1861-1867

Photo by the author.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Simpsons Roasting On an Open Fire

Oh, no. Not another website devoted to The Simpsons. Oh, great and it focuses solely on the good years and doesn't even dip a toe into the more recent seasons. Do we really another pointless commentary on the golden age of The Simpsons?

I don't know but I'm at least going to start one and see what happens. The Simpsons have played a big role in my life--a role that lasted 23 years and I would like to pay tribute to this show that will probably be the longest-running TV series I will ever watch. So let's get this thing started with the first full-length episode--"The Simpsons Christmas Special" also known as "Simpsons Roasting On an Open Fire."
This episode premiered on Sunday, December 17, 1989 and, fitting in line with the message of the special, I watched it with my family. Every two weeks we would spend Sunday at my Grandparent's house and this special just happened to fall on one of those weekends. I had never seen The Simpsons before because I didn't watch Tracy Ullman. To be fair, I was only 6 but I loved what I saw in this Christmas special. So did my Mom which made it possible for me to watch it when it would debut in January. There is just so much in this episode that I remember. Honestly, aside from "Marge Vs. the Monorail" and both parts of "Who Shot Mr. Burns?", this is the only other episode I can quote beginning to end and completely.

It's always the details that makes The Simpsons fun. The opening scene with the school Christmas program is so accurate as to how those go. Each grade is paraded onto the stage to do their thing but the parents only care about the grades that have their children. Luckily, Homer and Marge barely catch the end of the 1st grade class and only have to sit through grades 2-6. What I love is that when the 1st grade is done singing, they added a cough to one of the audience members making it seem like someone had been holding in a cough for a while.

I've always loved this dialogue exchange between Homer and Patty:
*phone rings*
"Marge, please."
"Who's this?"
"May I please speak to Marge?"
"This is her sister isn't it?"
"Is Marge there?"
"Who shall I say is calling?!"
"Marge, please."
"It's your sister."

 I always wanted to decorate a house like Flanders does but then I realized that it requires time, money and effort, three things I just don't have. Flanders was initially created to be the opposite of Homer--the anti-Homer as it were. Homer has no money, Flanders has money to spare. Homer is lackadaisical parent, Flanders is a loving, caring father and husband. Homer is a lazy worker, Flanders starts his own business. Homer went to church but didn't like it. Flanders went to church and went above and beyond what his faith requires. Flanders was a perfect foil for Homer and while the seeds of friendship were planted in numerous episodes, it never quite happened. It recent seasons, Homer and Ned are friends and Flanders is no longer the anti-Homer, he is a caricature of religious conservatives. The Homer/Flanders dynamic was such a good addition to the show, it's too bad that it, like most everything else in The Simpsons, had to end.

When the doctor is lasering off Bart's tattoo, he says "Now whatever you do, don't squirm. You don't want to get this thing near your eyes or groin." That was the first time I had ever heard the word 'groin.' I didn't know what it was so I had to ask. When Homer comes home from work to learn that Marge "had to spend the Christmas money having [Bart's tattoo] surgically removed" and starts freaking out over Christmas being canceled and there being no "presents for anyone" shouldn't that have raised some bells that something was wrong? Marge does at least notice in the next scene where we also get a glimpse of Homer's one chest hair.
But Homer, not wanting to disappoint his family, instead asks to do the Christmas shopping, which he does at a discount store buying things like pads of paper for Bart and a squeaky pork chop dog toy for Maggie. The presents he buys for his family can be contained in one paper bag and, after literally running into Flanders, he realizes just how disappointing Christmas is going to be for his family. During the good years of The Simpsons, Homer loved him family and tried to do the right thing by them but whether through his own stupidity or just because of life, Homer failed. That was something everyone could see themselves in. Homer was also sympathetic, something that began disappearing after season 8 and was completely eradicated by season 20.
After stopping in at Moe's, Homer is convinced by Barney to become a Mall Santa in order to make some extra money. After some cut scenes showing Homer not doing that great of a job reciting the names of Santa's reindeer and nearly punching the teacher when he pretended to be a child saying "You're not Santa, tubby" Homer actually becomes a pretty decent Santa but it doesn't matter since he only gets $13 for his work. Hoping to overcome the lack of a Christmas miracle, Homer goes with Barney to the racetrack to bet on a dog. Homer instead decides to bet on a dog named Santa's Little Helper who handily loses the race.

In an odd turn of events, Santa's Little Helper is soon abandoned by his owner for losing too many times and leaps into the arms of Homer who reluctantly agrees to take him home. It's amazing how just bringing home a dog makes everything better. The only thing bringing home a dog can't do is fix the upside down background in this scene.

And thus The Simpsons entered into our lives as the force it is today. Sure, the animation got a lot slicker, the colors more vibrant and the heart a bit more lackluster but that the first episode is a Christmas episode is just wonderful and this episode was the only Christmas episode until season 7's "Marge Be Not Proud".

One thing I didn't note above is that Homer goes out to buy a Christmas tree and ends up cutting one down on some private property. The family notices the birdhouse in it which Homer waves off as a Christmas ornament. When you see the later when the family is singing, the tree is still undecorated except for the birdhouse. I never noticed that before and just thought that was kind of funny.