Observer's Notes

The ideas of a thoughtful college student (Updated Whenever)

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    I'm Brian. This is my blog. I write about things that I think about, since verbalizing it helps me put things in more concrete terms. So here you'll find my occasional thoughts.
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Archive for April, 2008

Of Kids and Tigers

Posted by Brian on April 6, 2008

(Update: Improved image resolution. And for anyone who’s curious, I have a fair use rationale to justify using copyrighted materials.)

Somehow over the course of this weekend, I’ve found myself reading Calvin & Hobbes comics online. There are really some very good ones. I remember now why I like this comic so much. So I figured for this week’s blog (which will put me back on schedule, by the way!) I’d reflect on some of the wisdom imparted by the two titular characters. These are five of my favorite Calvin & Hobbes strips, and my thoughts on them.

Dreams

Calvin and Hobbes - Dreams

This one actually took me a long time to find. I started looking for it after Mooku set an away message with one of the lines from this strip. This one strikes me as noteworthy simply because it’s so honest. It exemplifies the relationship between Calvin and Hobbes, which is (if you ask me) the archetype of a close friendship. Even though the two of them sometimes grate on each others’ nerves, they really couldn’t bear to be separated. The genius in Bill Watterson’s writing is that it accomplishes two dichotomous goals at once: it captures deep and mature ideas in a childish and innocent way. In my opinion, that’s what makes Calvin & Hobbes a great comic.

Big Sunny Field

Calvin and Hobbes - Happy

This one is pretty cool. Watterson pretty routinely took shots at society in general through his comic, though he rarely targeted specific events or people. Rather, he stuck to general societal commentary. This particular strip is one such comment. It’s long been my belief that the simplest of things in the world can generate the greatest happiness. I don’t know how many of you have ever actually taken the time to sleep in a big sunny field, but it’s pretty damn awesome. Getting a new car or having lots of money just doesn’t provide the same kind of enjoyment. It feels good for a little while, but eventually you realize that no matter how fast the car goes from 0 to 60, it’s not going to make your life better. Why? Because there’s more to life than material things. No matter what you buy, you’ll eventually want something better. You get a PDA, you want an iPhone. You get an iPhone, you want unlimited texting. You get unlimited texting, you realize you have no friends to text because you spent all your time working to get enough money for the damn iPhone! I’ll admit, I’m guilty of this quite frequently. And there’s nothing wrong with enjoying material things; but making it the driving focus of your life is a bad idea.

A Best Friend

Calvin and Hobbes - Best Friend

This is definitely one of my favorites, if only because this is one of the comics where I can really identify with Calvin. Some of you who’ve known me for a while know that I sometimes experience insomnia. Not just that I stay up late, but that I try to go to bed and end up lying in bed for hours and hours before I can finally fall asleep. Usually that will last from a few weeks to a few months. Oftentimes during that time I’m lying awake, I think about the same thing Calvin is in this strip: all my fears and concerns. And, again like Calvin, the darkness and solitude provides very little distraction from those thoughts. I remember one time I couldn’t sleep, and apparently Justin couldn’t either, because he called me at like one or two in the morning. I can’t remember why, or if there even was a specific reason. But either way, talking to him helped. I don’t think we talked about anything deep or anything that had to do with my not sleeping. But as soon as I hung up with him, I fell right asleep. Having a best friend by your side does make things a little less scary. Also, there have been quite a few social situations where I have been more comfortable because Justin was there with me. Even when I’m not with a close friend, just knowing that there are people out there who care for me is a huge confidence-booster. So, yes. Things are never quite as scary when you’ve got a best friend.

Merry Christmas

Calvin and Hobbes - Christmas

This one is another favorite, for obvious reasons. It’s between this strip and the next one for my favorite Calvin & Hobbes of all time. The expression of friendship between Calvin and Hobbes in this one is pretty touching, which is unique for a comic strip. Most comics aren’t this good at invoking emotional responses. But the other cool thing about it is that Christmas isn’t just about gifts for Calvin and Hobbes, nor should it be between any two good friends. For me, Christmas is a time when I can express how much I care about all the people around me, not just a day to dazzle people with how much money you can spend on gifts. It’s a day of love, just like in this strip.

I’m going to introduce this next strip before you actually see it, since anything I could say afterwards would simply diminish its brilliance. It’s actually 9 sequential strips forming one storyline; it’s long, but the ending is worth it. I’ll warn you, it’s very bittersweet (heavy on the bitter). To quote the website where I got this, “What makes [Calvin & Hobbes] one of the great treasures of our culture is its ability to invoke emotions that you never thought you’d spend on a comic strip. This one’s positively touching.” I think everyone can identify with this comic. So here you all go. My favorite Calvin & Hobbes comic:

“…But Don’t YOU Go Anywhere”

Raccoon complete

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