Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Orange Violin

Clarifications for the Curious:
-We may assume Jon is not still making his Chuck E. Cheese requests from yesterday, but making reservations at another restaurant for another date. The immediacy of placing the two strips next to each other might seem confusing, but Garfield tends to group running gags as close together as possible. This is not a technique utilized by many other strips, because it tends to draw attention to the format, and may indicate to the audience that the writer is idea-starved. Garfield, on the other hand, takes care to highlight its stock situations, which goes hand-in-hand with the strip's ongoing mission to provide variants on a narrow range of interests. This trait that does not go unappreciated by fans, as indicated by the nearly illiterate Wikipedia article (ugh) which attempts and fails to catalog these situations. The good news is that Jon is organizing another date, which means Liz wasn't put off by the robot mouse. Take that, Garfield!

-The "juice harp" Jon speaks of is chicken-speak neologism for Jew's harp. Jew's harp is not an antisemetic term, as far as etymologists know, though all the dictionaries I consulted (and followed by the presumed experts at the Jew's Harp Guild website) are unsure about the derivation. I can't fault Garfield for the editor-pleasing, nonconfrontational choice, but the uncommon terminology does confuse the gag a little. Why not just say "jaw harp", which is equally wrong, but more recognizable?

In any case, forget the poor romantic substitution of a Jew's harp for a violin, and Jon's dismay at how weird the world is: the real joke is that Jon turns to his cat to help him decide if he should accept the proposal. Garfield, either hoping to sabotage the date, or figuring it's going to be an evening of idiocy anyway, silently nudges Jon toward disaster. Leave it to Garfield to find a way to turn affirmation into a way of being negative.


gtfhwzk said...

Isn't it weird that both his phone and the wall behind him have changed color but not his shirt?

Dan said...

It was always my understanding -- from listening to the vague ramblings of old men about "European bankers" -- that the Jew's Harp is so named because it is a poor parody of the instrument they give you in heaven.

We also used to refer to steel washers as Spic Diaphragms.

Anonymous said...

Might I suggest that there's another level to the gag? What if Jon, hardly a man of the world, doesn't know what a Jew's Harp is?

So his lack of worldliness shows as he attempts to phoenetically repeat back what was probably a joke at his expense in the first place. Is it likely that the dishwasher ACTUALLY plays one? No. The maitre'd was making fun of Jon. And he just sits there, not even realizing.

luke said...

Haha, I like that interpretation.

I wonder if Jon even knows his own ethnicity.

Richie said...

I'm really looking forward to your thoughts on the October 15th strip...

Loren said...

I think one clear reason to prefer 'juice harp' over 'jaw's harp' is that the first sounds like 'Jew's' (as others have noticed).

Personally, I'm puzzled by Jon's bafflement in the second panel. Why is it so amazing that it's the violinist's day off?

shoux said...

just stumbled across this blog.. instantly hooked.. too bad i read it's discontinued somewhere?

anyway the baffled face is probably because Jon has made such an elaborate plan for his dinner-date.. and never thought of a plan-b

this is similiar behavior/expression as to that american TV show "Ed" where that nerdy looking kid takes his date to an elegant restaurant and had planned to get a certain table (forgot why, maybe next to the band or something). after the waiter says that a family is currently dining at that table, he freaks out to the point of begging and even trying to bribe the waiter.

forgot which episode of ed that was, don't really follow it =P

Chris said...

I can't help but recall that Snoopy is sometimes portrayed playing a Jew's harp. I do not recall if it is referred to by name.