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Less Is More

Friday Next strip will be Friday. My car had, as the service guy called it, a "catastrophic event" and the repairs outweigh the value of the car. Now I'm spending all my free time dealing with getting my old car scraped and finding a decent cheapo. This is what I was referring to before when dealing with outside life-type forces. And that's when I prematurely thought it would be reasonable repairs. Now it's just a giant paperweight. See you then.

214 thoughts on “Less Is More

      1. She’s won NOTHING, Blue. In addition to this Fabulous Prize she’s also lost a little bit of Dignity. BACK TO YOU!

        1. Damn it Johnny, did you eat that year’s worth of Rice-a-Roni again?!?

          How many times to I have to tell you…

          Sell those crappy little compacts and the televisions, you get more money for them, so you can extort the game show from those and then you can buy pizzas for every one here. THEN, you steal the pizza delivery guy’s car, drive it off of a cliff, tell him, split the insurance money with him, and then he’s on here to win a new car. We then use the insurance money to purchase a crappy prize of last year’s #2 computer system, flat screen television, blu ray player and that particle board furniture that looks like it was made out of cherry and stock it full of that damn Rice-a-Roni macaroni art.

          But no, you had to eat it, again.

          Just order in some damn pizzas.

        2. Alright, I’m ordering triple anchovies, and I warn you Bob Barker taught me to fight SO WATCH THE TONE!

  1. Oh, I get it. She’s(Sister X is) future Tarra. I’d like to point out, I voted for Ginger’s storyline. I’m Bunny posting from my phone.

    1. at first I was like, no. her boobs aren’t big enough and the marks on her cheeks are different!
      and then I was like, causes cancer? breast cancer?
      so I guess it COULD be that way…

      1. Could be worse, could be future pumpkin.

        I think Tarra’d be even more broken up over having cause cancer in her sisters than in herself.

  2. Actually, Rusche, the quality of this throw-down so far actually has me feeling fairly mollified about Ginger losing out. And, the vote started before Ginger got to spend over a week in the spotlight while tearing Juniper down to her foundations. So, she felt like less of a neglected character by then.

    It’s not that I actually ever really doubted that you were smart enough to know what you were doing as a writer, either- you’ve demonstrated exceeding competence on several occasions already- but that putting what you were going to do up to a vote made it feel like you didn’t have a vision and just didn’t *care* what happened. I always feel that way when authors put a plot point up to a vote; maybe that’s inaccurate, and maybe it can be done without compromising artistic integrity, but that’s just the gut reaction I have when I see an author do it.

    I remain very interested in hearing what Ginger’s version of the story would be, but I was encouraged when you said that Tarra’s version was actually what you had originally had in mind. It makes me feel that everyone would have been much happier if you had just gone ahead and done what you were planning on doing in the first place and not held a vote on which way the story would go at all.

    1. Just because a story evolves, that doesn’t make it necessarily worse. If it did then we’d never revise what we write, just check for typos/spelling/punctuation and leave everything in the first form.

  3. If that IS future Tarra, her hair has been cut(indicating defeat)and her breasts are gone. Also scars are where her rosy cheeks used to be.

    1. Yeah, Miss X’s comment about cancer seems to strongly imply that she had a double mastectomy. Also, after seeing the title of the previous comic, “XO”, the “XOXO” that Tarra has in her username when she comments here suddenly took on new significance to me.

      Usually I like to see an overpowered character brought down to earth, but if Miss X is future Tarra, then this (potential) outcome is heartbreakingly tragic.

    2. It seems that if Terra lot to something or someone; it was cancer. One of the most comon side effects of chemo is hair lose which would go hand in hand with a double mastectomy.

      1. But that would be if Tarra allowed herself to go with an antiquated medical procedure such as that. I’m sure that she went all Egon Spangler and figured out another way to do such without all of the chemicals needed and stuff.

    3. Remember that in the Odds Are comic (11 Sept 2013) where all the sisters get an initial bio, Rusche had in Tarra’s description “Tarra”-forming & Fusion Dance shortly before it stating that she’s “The only sister to survive the zombie apocalypse (as seen in comic #12,957.)”

      So this could be far-future post-zombie apocalypse Tarra. If there’s a version of Tarra to come back in time, a post-zombie apocalypse makes good sense. Also if her sisters already died in that then she might have less resistance to ending their lives a bit earlier (especially if some turned and she’s trying to spare them, or obviously if some caused it).

    1. Well, there goes the space-time continuum. Future Tarra’s going to go back to 2035 and discover that Alex has legalized gambling in Lakeland and the biker gangs are running amok. Have you learned nothing from time travel-based television and movies, Tarra?

  4. If my eyes aren’t deceiving me, I see a flux capacitor (or reasonable facsimile). Looks like there is indeed some time traveling involved.

  5. I don’t grok Sister X’s dialog.

    What is a “hooch off”? Google search does not enlighten.

    Not sure what “tend to the median” means, but “…starting with the goth” is a pretty good clue. The median is the middle, so it looks like she means to kill some of the middle set of sisters, starting with Anise. We had better assume Cinnamon is on her list, and Juniper; I can’t think of any particular reason why she might have it in for Ellie, but if she wants her list contiguous Ellie would go too. Clearly Ginger and Pumpkin are to be spared, and I’ll bet she has no choice but to leave Tarragon alive.

    P.S. Wow, just from the word “cancer” in the comic, “Strain of Thought” came up with “Sister X is future Tarragon after future T got cancer and had a double mastectomy”. I’m impressed because I suspect this is true, and I wish I had thought of it! “Causes cancer”… perhaps in the user!

    1. “Hooch” is primarily a term for home-made alcohol, but the obliquely-related slang “Hoochie” refers to a woman of loose morals, low class, and sexually provocative appearance- note Miss X’s use of the word “impropriety”. Adding “off” as a suffix to a word is a way of naming a semi-formal competition at doing or being that word, like dance-off or cook-off. Miss X is telling Tarragon that she doesn’t want to have a competition as to who can fight while exposing the most skin, and simultaneously insulting Tarragon by implicitly saying she looks slutty in her tank top and shorts.

      I’m afraid I can’t make out what Miss X meant by “I must tend to the median.” either, though.

      1. “Tend to the median ” means that she intends to kill off the sisters in the middle of the family birth order.

        I could picture talking to my own younger self with that same disparaging/impatient/bored tone of voice…

        1. I’ll tell you why I didn’t become a math teacher, Bunny. It’s because I couldn’t get the image out of my head of teaching a class room full of me. Little high school aged me. 30 of me, against me. In math. 30 snot nosed little punks who sailed through math because it seemed like some easy thing. I mean, why bother getting a lecture together, just test them all.

          Never gave 100%. And I still got A’s in math.

        2. Well, I suppose that I can say that I was demoted from General to Major. General Depression to Major Depression. However, it was a step up at first from Clinical Depression.

          Just think, all of those buttons out there, not being pressed, depressed, or even what Bob did in “SPEED” when he pressed the button twice.

          But, it’s just me and my trusty old Hewlet Packard Pavilian carbine-action DVD-RW drive, range model Pavilion zv6000 laptop. Lucky I got a wifi in the ports and an additional 2 gig of RAM in the slots.

      2. Tend to the median… Or tend to the average. I think it was a bit of a bitter jab at her sisters. I am getting a bit of a air of superiority from her.

        1. “Tend to” can mean “take care of”. Earlier she said “I only need to kill some of you” referring to the Buckingham sisters. That’s why I put together “tend to the median” to mean “kill the middle sisters”, but it’s a bit obscure so I’m not 100% certain.

        2. She did say that it was going to start with Anise, so possibly, she may have been the one to cause the glass eye to be introduced to the family.

          My next guess for a target would be Juniper.

          And thirdly, Cinnamon. Because maybe there are more ratchantulas at home, and what happened here was not the omega event, YET

        3. Yeah, I’m shaky on the “tend to the median” phrase too. Though if it’s future Tarra, as it almost certainly is but I want to stubbornly keep pretending it isn’t, then that would fit with her tending to name her sisters by birth order (Ellie on phone and Pumpkin before toss). But it also bodes ill for Ellie and well for Cinn if symmetry is a concern. Which would seem weird, but you never know.

          Aside from tend to the median, I’m wondering how Tarra recognized X as sufficiently dangerous to be worried in her introduction. Sure she fired a rocket launcher at the people behind them, but that’s nothing to Tarra.

        4. Wouldn’t you recognize yourself if you saw your face outside of a mirror?

          Let’s not forget two things.

          1) A sister has a glass eye.

          2) Sister X has an eye patch.

          Besides, isn’t there some sort of writing convention where people tend to recognize themselves through gut reactions? Also, mother’s and their adult children, asides from “BIG.” I think that DC used that, maybe Marvel, not sure. It was a black person who was the adult who went back in time.

          (aside: I do not use politically correct terminology because I feel that in doing so not only creates a fervor of reverse discrimination that would subjugate a separation of the American People artificially. And enforces a bit of censorship before anything can even be said, thus emasculating the English Language from the pilaster of free speech.)

        5. Would I recognize myself if I saw my face as it looks today outside a mirror. Extremely likely. Would I recognize my face if I saw it aged 10, 20, 30 years and appeared on a person near me. Probably not, and if so I’d assume it was just someone that looked like me who was older, not me.

          I’ve actually met at least two lookalikes for myself already. I always assumed it was just someone who looked like me and made no judgements on their capabilities.

          Some kind of gut level “knowing” a worthy opponent is a norm to fiction that would work, but I’m wondering if there’s more here. X has said things to show recognition of Tarra and knowledge of her tendencies, but Tarra’s dialog so far would fit either for her recognizing X or not.

        6. perhaps I might be over reading the OH FUDGE part.

          Although, what if tend to the median is either the exact middle sister, which should be Juniper. But since it isn’t, or as Jody points out, possibly Cinnamon via 12 Monkeys lens of mistaken identity, could Xister be after three sisters, since taking her self out would mean the entire bulk of the middle grouping of sisters?

          Leaving Ginger and Pumpkin, since they technically do not equate to any part of the median.

      3. I think that you might be a bit wrong in the hoochie remark. I’ll find the link again.

        bing . com/search?q=urban+dictionary+hooch+off&qs=HS&pq=urban+&sc=8-6&sp=1&FORM=QBLH&cvid=898504b415f4406082a66a0a0839be3f

        urbandictionary . com/define.php?term=Hooch-out

        Term coined by singer-songwriter David Homyk on April 24th, 2009 on the Tyra Banks show, meaning to dress in such a way as to expose and flatter the sexual areas of the body.

        From April 24th, 2009 episode of the Tyra Banks show:

        Studio Audience Member: What are we supposed to wear on the first date? Are we supposed to show off our style, be classy, show skin?

        David Homyk: I think a girl should hooch-out just a little bit but keep it classy.

        Tyra Banks: “Hooch-out!?”

        Studio Audience Member: Like leave a little bit to the imagination and show a little also?

        David Homyk: Well the basic rule is to show little up top and nothing down below or a little below and nothing up top, you don’t want to show both.

        Tyra Banks: Oh, you know that!

        And the more you know. . .

  6. Is it bad that I have the chorus from Fall Out Boy’s “The Mighty Fall (In Love)” Stuck in my head?

    Also I am still sticking to the fact that because future Terra traveled back in time she created an alternate reality. Hopefully one that Terra can overcome.

    On that note; Seems like there is a message about those who can achieve things easily. Or at the very least never are challenged in their life. With Terra being able to “get” whatever she wanted; it appears that the one time she was denied she was sent into a rather dark spiral. Curious to see how this pans out and how wrong I am.

    1. I looked up that song. It’s good, and while I didn’t parse the lyrics, the general tone felt like it fits.

      I’ll grant that from what we’ve seen Tarragon is exceedingly blessed, but I wouldn’t describe her as unchallenged or her achievements as things she just “gets”. Tarragon clearly challenges herself, and earns everything she’s got. It’s natural to be envious of her abilities and accomplishments, but her not deserving them simply doesn’t follow from that.

      I speak from some personal experience here: I have a real-life Tarragon in my family. One of my cousins is a gymnast, a cross-country bicyclist, a mountain climber, physically gorgeous, highly educated, volunteers for charities, spent a few years backpacking around the globe, moved to Australia just because she could, finds seasonal work wherever she is when she’s traveling in dream positions doing stuff like managing parasailing tours and helping the environment, and has an iron handshake. She’s incredibly intimidating. Having a conversation with her is like trying to talk to dolphin. I’m am very, very envious of her.

      But there’s nothing about her which is “spoiled”. She pays for everything herself despite having rich parents. When she backpacked, her budget for food and shelter was ten dollars a day- if she’d needed her parents permission, they wouldn’t have let her go. She’s been very lucky in terms of her life experience, but good luck isn’t a moral failing, and she keeps what she has because she has the responsibility to hold on to it.

      1. Oh I don’t think Tarra is spoiled in the traditional sense. Not by any stretch of the imagination. However, there is something to be said about never losing; especially when it comes to love. I just think Tarra may need to learn how to lose if she is to overcome her envious side

        1. Ah, so you feel Tarragon needs to face her Kobayashi Maru? I’ll absolutely concede to that. No one can succeed one hundred percent of the time, and too little experience with failure can leave one dangerously unprepared to contend with it when it regrettably does arrive. If you’ve never known real failure at all, it can be terribly hard just to accept its existence once you have it before you, and stubborn denial can be quite destructive.

        2. AHH HAA!!

          What if this battle IS Kobayashi Maru? This is a paradox of epic Tarra proportions.

          I shall leave off speculations at this point.

      2. I disagree, at least partially. Tarragon won 4 gold medals in the same event because the other three rowers on her team got severe food poisoning. The reason the committee gave her all 4 gold was that she was, quote, “very persuasive.” I’d say that was basically undeserved.

        1. The motif that surrounds Tarra is one that elaborates on the larger than life persona. We’ve met these people throughout our lives. They walk into a room and they change the atmosphere by simply being there. They are vastly successful in anything they do. The are nice. Wonderful. Generous. You name it.

          What we are seeing now is a fairly literal version of “Person vs Self” And while this conflict is very much a hyperbole of what some of these larger than life heroes deal with. it is all very real. The tallest men cast the largest shadow. What we are seeing here is the result of falling to that shadow.

        2. Okay, so we have a bit of a metaphysical of the man vs. man type of battle, however this could spill over into the psychological with a battle of the self vs. self.

          But what we have is present self fighting future self, and present self (future) fighting past self. Two different battles, but no current time line has them, because up until the point where Sister X left the future and appeared in the past, it was all one singular time line. In entering the past, Sister X has altered the time line to a point where she may no longer exist in the future.

          But for those who complained about the lack of a bust for Sister X, now they know why. dorks.

          Here’s something funny. My mom and my cousin had to have things removed from their breasts. My cousin was a guy. Who was the girl from “Married With Children?” She had to have a double mastectomy as well.

          So please, do me a favor and don’t elaborate so much on a singular feature of an individual and just go for the gestaltic jugular instead.

        3. People were guessing double mastectomy yesterday in the comments.

          I believe the actress you’re talking about is Christina Applegate, whom I hated in Married with Children but have steadily liked more and more in everything I’ve seen her in since.

        4. There’s also the matter of Angelina Jolie’s preventative double mastectomy last year. That one kind of got to me: I don’t take cancer as a general condition lightly at all, but I usually brush off “breast cancer awareness” campaigns as needless anxiety-mongering that is too focused on a single niche to be productive. Learning that a woman who presents such a persona of fearlessness, is so renowned for her physical beauty, whose career is so intertwined with her appearance, and who has endless medical resources at her disposal, could be so concerned for her life that she would cut off both her breasts before even having a diagnosis of cancer really made it serious business for me. I read up on Jolie’s story; she lost her Grandmother, her Mother, and her Aunt to cancer, and once the doctors told her that she possessed the genetic marker indicating she had the same extremely high risk, she just went ahead with the procedure. She didn’t even wait to get the cancer. I think that’s incredibly courageous; that woman is a survivor. I can only imagine the psychological effect of having had to watch your family members die one after another to the same disease and then be told it will most likely be coming for you next.

        5. Okay, I’m not so up to speed on genetics, but if the possibility of cancer is present, does it mean directly that it’s going to be breast cancer, or a possibility of something else?

          I mean, if the trigger had already occurred, then there may be a sound reason to perform the preventative procedure. However, if the said trigger did not occur at that time, then isn’t there a possibility that the cancer could occur somewhere else in the body?

        6. You hated Christina Applegate on the sitcom because she was so good at that part. Don’t confuse the actor with the character…

        7. I freely admit I like her as an actress now, it just surprised me when I realized that and remembered that role.

  7. Ooookay. The conversation about cancer has taken this to a dark place.

    Anybody else notice that Sister X has chased all the sisters out of the Cast page? To the best of my knowledge Chris(Artist/author) never mentioned this. Also there’s a mysterious ‘Wandering Girl’ cloaked in shadows and a large dynamite graphic broken into numbers 1-52.

    Perhaps Sister X is from the New 52 universe.

  8. Well this is certainly a new twist. Nice to see something besides the same old D-list “not-so super” villians.

    1. I’m more surprised that Tarra couldn’t just think hard or yell “CUT IT OUT” at her body to cure her own cancer.

      1. perhaps somebody managed to cut her hair, which is clearly the source of her superpowers, leaving her vulnerable to the realities we mere mortals must endure

  9. ANYONE who complains that it is March and you are telling a story about Black Thursday/Friday can go POUND SAND!!

    Pay no attention to the baying and howling of drooling mouth-breathers. They are full of sound and fury, but signify nothing.

    Ignore the morons and tell us the story. It’s awesome.

    1. I strongly concur.

      Let the tale finish out at it’s own pace.

      I have NO IDEA what to say to people who expect print media to keep up with real time.

      I’m enjoying myself.

    2. Though, just as devil’s advocate here…the story has basically been running since just before Thanksgiving. “What the Pilgrims Ate” kicked it off on November 20.

      1. Counterpoint : That only matters “now” A year from now it won’t have as much weight. Or if this wonderful comic goes to a paperback form. It is a story being told. The time it takes only matters now. Also, still very interesting.

        1. True enough. I’m enjoying it, myself, though I can sympathize with those who’d like some resolution out of a plot that’s been running six months in three-a-week bursts.

        2. Fair enough. Although I am liking this comic very much so far. I am content with the pace so far.

        3. Excellent!

          Then we are in agreement that these dissenters are defective mutants, forming a verbal minority that must be ignored.

          Let us begin the ignoring!

        4. NO, we are not.

          The dissenters have a valid point and should be offered compassion in this time of a plotline that’s gone on for a very long time now and hasn’t provided much in the way of answered questions so much as it has questions needing answers.

        5. The dissenters would only have a valid point if they were the purchasers outright of this story. They aren’t. The only thing that they are spending is their own time to look up a web comic that they can put aside at any time.

          I think to badger the artist is to abuse what he has/wants to say for their own fetid reasons. Heh, fetid. I like that. In particular what I think of some webcomics out there that made it to the mix march madness. Especially when that dork has two of them.

          To pump out anything faster beyond the QUALITY capabilities of the artist will compromise the ability for MH370 to land safely.

          Too many cooks spoil the soup. How about that one if the Malaysian airlines quip is cuts to close to the bone. I’ll not apologize for it, as it is meant to cut those who are complaining about the lack of updates versus the speed of chronological strip time.

          I would suggest to Jessica, that a contact form be set up, with a list of subjects to be added in order for Chris to categorize some of the “rote” email complaints/suggestions.

          It’s not like the artist doesn’t have a life. Those boorish philistines should learn patience. How else did Tarra learn to Tarraform.

        6. Everyone has the right to their own opinion (I e-mailed Rusche exactly once this calendar year regarding something he’d said about hosting woes and nothing about pacing). Granted, anyone who refuses to accept, “Sorry, I have more story to tell before I can move on that won’t have a second chance for a first introduction.” (which is my paraphrasing of Rusche’s answer pre-Christmas when I mentioned in comments he’d earlier had a plan to have checkout at Christmas time) is being a bit immature. But if the pace bothers someone then the appropriate thing to do is ignore the comic for a month or two and come back and catch up then.

          I voted Tarra and don’t regret it, but I do find myself wondering where the comic will go after this arc. It kinda’ turned a few things up a notch for longer than usual, so I’m curious if going back to other storylines will seem slow. Though perhaps going to a single-threaded storyline will help with that too, as opposed to following several groups around. I’m also wondering if Ginger’s solution would’ve helped bring Black Friday to a more down-to-earth conclusion.

  10. You know…her dialog and temperment, not to mention her figure…she does seem very similar to Quinn. The more I look at that first panel the more I think about that time Pumpkin had Quinn trying on the different wigs.

    1. “The Median” does seem to be a troublemaking element. Anise’s weird, Juniper’s penchant for drunken frivolity, Cinnamon’s burgeoning sociopathy and Ellie’s wild card tendencies make for a growth medium of wild events. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that Tarra and Pumpkin have already worked together, and quite closely. Though at this point, who can tell?

    2. I know, right? Juniper is obviously the median, age-wise anyway, unless there is a sister or two older than Ginger that we don’t know about?

      1. Of course…if this IS a future Tarra…one would wonder why she seems to have forgotten her sisters’ names….

        1. Maybe she didn’t forget. Maybe she has such disdain for them (evidenced by her trying to murder them) that she will not call them by name. Maybe in the future it is disrespectful to call people “the [descriptive noun]”?

        2. I don’t know – it seems she always had name-issues, always referring to her sisters by their birth-order-numeric… by that logic, the median would be #4 – Juniper, with Anise and either Ellie or Cinn (delivery-order dependent) being the sigmas

        3. OH CRAP. If she is going after the median, then that leaves Cinnamon safe, as Ellie is Number Five.

          But that’s if Anise is the first one to be targeted, and then the assumption of symmetrical targets in birth order to excise the median from existence.

          Soo, outside of Jody’s 12 Monkeys remark, is Xister going after Anise, Ellie and Juniper?

        4. Well, if this is post-zombie apocalypse Tarra, and Tarra’s the only sister to survive, perhaps she hasn’t thought of them by name in a while, and the zombie vaccine might have negative effects on long-term memory.

  11. Actually……regarding the whole time travel theory…..sister x kinda looks more like Ellie facially than Tarra…..and Ellie did know about the radioactivity…..

    1. Huh. Turning an N into an X would be easier than converting a giant blush spot into an X. And if they’ve got a flux capacitor, they’ve probably got an easier way to perform cosmetic augmentations without scarring. Though Ellie using “the median” seems a bit of a stretch. See also “Hooch off” and “impropriety.”

      1. I’m still thinking it’s Quinn. Pretty much anything Ellie knows she probably told Her rookie (such as the radioactivity).

    2. I thought X looked more like Ellie facially too, and Rusche’s response was that Tarra, Ellie, & Pumpkin are all supposed to have very similar faces. So aged any of them might look more like younger of any of the others.

  12. The plot thickens!

    My schedule is all screwed up this so if you see me not commenting that’s why. It’s certainly not because I stopped reading.

        1. That sort of warning reminds me of my reaction to some water coolers at work that have “NOT A DRAIN” labelled on the very obviously shallow cavity below the taps. I frequently consider slowly adding more and more labels, starting with “NOT A STEPLADDER” and then maybe “NOT A DOORJAMB” and try to start incrementing the ridiculousness to see what stories people think someone did to cause the new labels.

        2. The point was more that the indentation was such that anyone over 3’6″ could easily determine that it’s not a drain visually, but it was still labelled as not a drain. So the impulse is just to start labeling everything else is isn’t.

          Also there are some raised floors that had “weight limit 4000 lbs” posted around them. One day all of those changed to say “weight limit 1000 lbs stationary, 800 lbs rolling”. I found out a week later someone had tried driving a fork lift onto one and found out that the 4000 lbs wasn’t correct by unintentional experiment.

          The combination of those two things is where the impulse comes from to slowly post more and more ridiculous “NOT A _____” on the water cooler and listen to the speculation.

        3. I still want to find a template for a coffee cup design so that I can put that one joke on there about “If you spill hot coffee in your lap, we will point and laugh at you.”

        4. Warning: Pregnant women, the elderly and children under 10 should avoid prolonged exposure to water cooler.

          Caution: water cooler may suddenly accelerate to dangerous speeds.

          water cooler contains a liquid core, which, if exposed due to rupture, should not be touched, inhaled, or looked at.

          Do not use water cooler on concrete.

          Discontinue use of water cooler if any of the following occurs:

          -Tingling in extremities
          -Loss of balance or coordination
          -Slurred speech
          -Temporary blindness
          -Profuse sweating
          -Heart palpitations

          If water cooler begins to smoke, get away immediately. Seek shelter and cover head.

          Water cooler may stick to certain types of skin.

          When not in use, water cooler should be returned to its special container and kept under refrigeration…

          Failure to do so relieves the makers of water cooler, Wacky Products Incorporated, and its parent company Global Chemical Unlimited, of any and all liability.

          Ingredients of water cooler include an unknown glowing substance which fell to Earth, presumably from outer space.

          Water cooler has been shipped to our troops in Saudi Arabia and is also being dropped by our warplanes on Iraq.

          Do not taunt water cooler.

          Water cooler comes with a lifetime guarantee.

        5. It’s the most immediately recognizable chain of disclaimers EVER. Useful in most any situation, and always hilarious thanks to the sheer depth and irrationality of the claims.

          What the hell was actually IN that ball??


          Or slap a sticker on the side of the water cooler that says “Trans Fat Free” or “Low Sodium” or “Was not tested on animals” or something else completely obvious but likely to be overlooked because we see it everywhere.

        7. @boog
          1: Is that (Not a spacesuit, not a screenplay, not a mathematical theorem) a reference to “read a book”?

          2: I have already started to read McNinja. I just got to the part where his office has been invaded by a raptor. Crazy stuff. I’m wondering if Chris got some of his ideas from there. . . .
          2b: And I have looked at the timeline. Crazy stuff. At least I know who Charles is, supposedly. However, he does/did work at NASA and has a LinkedIn profile.

          @Strain of Thought and Jee
          3: The structure of the timeline from 12 Monkeys is that the paradox is in the memories of Bruce Willis and the kid. However, in focusing on the wrong person, the loop stays closed. That and the assumption that the release of the Omega Complex can be from a security guard who is just too stupid to keep the thing from opening.

          However, if Xister (my name for Sister X (to keep from having to type Sister X over and over and over and over again, (and to differentiate from Tarragon Present and Tarragon Future (If it is Tarragon, but I think that she is.)))) is here to kill the median, starting with the Goth. And in applying the 12 Monkeys motif, then yes, she is too late if it is in fact the ratchlantulas. But, what, just what if the ratchlantulas are sterile? It’s the ratches that are the definition of the OMEGA PESTILENCE unless the health department guy is just upset over being face hugged. . .

        8. @Mr. Blue:
          1. Not a reference – it was a direct reply to That One Guy’s comment about the water cooler. You can tell I was continuing his joke because I was consistent with the all upper case text starting with “NOT A” and also the examples were contained in quotation marks (“). Of course, I tried to make my examples a bit more absurd… well, maybe not the spacesuit one. Conceivably a child might look upon a water cooler and pretend it was some sort of spacesuit what with the giant plastic helmet and complicated levers and all so I guess you’ve got me there!

          2. It’s a fun comic. Crazy stuff, I agree.
          2b. A correction on Mr. Goodrich: He does/did/WILL work at NASA… I mean, technically… we did start that discussion talking about time travel and all. ;)

  13. Damn Chris, I though the comic was nicely done, got a good chuckle from it, then I started reading all the comments that are focusing on the cancer bit, and they’re really bringing me down.

    It seemed like just a joke to me, like how everything causes cancer (http://maximumble.thebookofbiff.com/tag/cancer/), but everybody is shoehorning the comment into the context of the story, as some depressingly-tragic backstory for Sister X (or “forestory” for Tarra..?). Maybe they are right, maybe not. But your comic is making me sad. I hope you’re happy.

    1. Course, if Tarra knows that Tarraforming causes cancer, she may well stop using it. That could put an end to possible future Tarra’s marked lack of…attributes…and graphically screw up the space-time continuum.

      Of course, that all depends on how you look at time travel. Some say the past can’t be altered, while others say the past is alterable and as fluid as even the future is, only we can’t perceive the differences when altered.

      1. Multiple timelines, seems the most likely to me. That way the person who traveled back in time to alter the past would still be compelled to come back even after the past was altered. When they travel to the past, they are actually traveling to a separate timeline (and universe?). Seems like the idea fits the best?

        Or maybe after they alter the past, something else compels them to come back again anyway? Like Chuck Goodrich?

        1. Right. Sister X tells Tarra that Tarraforming causes cancer. Tarra stops using Tarraforming. If Sister X is Future Terra, and Present Tarra stops using Tarraforming, then Present Tarra doesn’t get cancer when she turns into Future Terra, or Sister X.

        2. But what about the previous suggestions that Tarra is going to be emitting residual radiation no matter what. Not to be morbid, but those people who survived the initial blast from Hiroshima, Nagasaki and those Pacific tests had to deal with the after effects from the residual radiation exposure.

          So, even if Tarra did stop, the accumulated residual radiation that was absorbed would make the issue moot if anything at all.

        3. Well, that depends when/how fast it develops. Radiation can cause a mutation, and cancer is just the mutation sticking around and replicating like mad. Even if X is only a few years in the future, Tarra curtailing her radiation exposure could still change the outcome (for example, even if she still gets cancer, it might be something that could be handled with less drastic surgery or just chemo).

        4. Well, that’s the thing about radiation. There are ways to purge radiation from the body, last I knew. Pectin is a good example–found in apples and sunflower seeds. There’s also iodine, like in seaweed. Potassium iodide also can be used. Those folks in Nagasaki and Hiroshima likely didn’t know about the means to remove radiation from the body, and they were also exposed to quite a bit more of it. Tarraforming likely doesn’t pack quite the same number of Roentgen.

        5. I know that iodine can remove Radiation from the body, but Tarraforming radiation is something that we know nothing about.

          What if she’s not using it correctly? But, I think that the stop using it analogy as if it were a cigarette can’t compare. At least the smoke is too big to (as far as I know) enter the nucleus of the cell and muck about with the DNA. EM Radiation is something else, small enough and energetic enough to effect a rapid change to where stopping use may not have that great of an effect to curtail the damage caused.

          Anyway, outside of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there is Chernobyl and Fukishima, which may have world wide implications. Maybe wormwood style implications.

        6. Yeah, that’s not how radiation poisoning works. At all. Radiation is just a broad term for energy delivered by waves, like radio waves and sunlight. Bad radiation harms you not because it enters your body and stays there but because its wavelength is in a high-energy range that smashes the molecules you’re made of on impact. This can damage you plenty even without the long-term threat of cancer. If the molecule in question is something delicate like DNA, not only has the radiation damaged a cell, but the altered information-storing molecule may go on to produce a dangerous mutation. But the important thing is, the damage happens instantly, or not at all. The cancer is an entirely separate, long term risk, after the radiation is long gone. There are no magical natural cures that “purge” the body of radiation, for the same reason you can’t repair a smashed vase by purging it of hammers: the damage was already done on impact.

          Iodine pills as a treatment for exposure to radioactive materials is a real thing, but they have nothing to do with “purging” radiation from the body. Iodine is a relatively rare element that is essential for the operation of your thyroid; thus your body aggressively absorbs any iodine that enters it. One of several nasty byproducs of uranium fission is an unstable iodine isotope, iodine-131. If your body absorbs iodine-131 into your thyroid, it will decay there later exposing that organ to radiation from the inside out, putting you at very high risk for thyroid cancer. All iodine pills do is flood your body with so much iodine that your body can’t absorb any more, allowing iodine-131 to pass through your system. Iodine pills do nothing if they’re not taken before or very shortly after exposure, and they have no effect on any other source of radiation other than internal iodine-131.

          Pectin is just a soluble fiber common in fruit. Soluble fiber is an important part of the human diet and getting sufficient amounts will make your digestion much more regular, but it isn’t going to protect you from gamma rays.

        7. But a research paper on the use of apple pectin to remove radioactive dust and Cesium from the bowels of children from the Chernobyl accident seems to have been effective. But I suppose that has to do with the ingestion of radioactive dust, and not the I-131 that Strain mentioned.

        8. Plus there’s the issue of half-life and cumulative exposure. It’s possible that Tarra hasn’t yet taken enough radiation to cause the cancer, and if she cuts off the exposure now, she may not get enough radiation to do the job.

        9. Yeah, the timeline chart at the end of last chapter, to explain just what the hell happened because it’s all so freakin’ complicated, was absolutely brilliant.

          Plus it’s always the same guy coming back to prevent the apocalypse of his timeline. Which is awesome.

        10. That timeline has been the strongest urging for me to consider taking the plunge and going back through the archives there. It’s just been around so long, though. It’s hard to do a full new archive crawl for me when the comic’s over 1000 comics long (I’ve done it a few times, but not often).

        11. Yeah, I need a gap between archive crawls, and the longer the archive, the longer the gap. I’ve been wanting to go all through Sam & Fuzzy again for a while now but… same reason. At least you can skip most of the first book because it’s just joke-a-day comics, before it turned into an actual story.

          Okay, enough talking about other comics. ;)

          So, Cinn in Anise’s clothing, you don’t say?

        12. Adventures of Dr. McNinja. I’m gonna say if you didn’t guess that, especially after That One Guy said “McNinja”, then I recommend not looking at that timeline until you’ve read through the comic first. You don’t want to spoil it for yourself, do you?

  14. My completely random joke of it being Quinn might be right after all. Being around Ellie’s family has ruined her life, causing a split personality. X doesn’t remember their names, much like Quinn doesn’t. If Quinn got arrested during. This whole thing, it would probably wreck any scholarship she was using, and her dad might cut her off from a free apartment. Cancer would make her need to buy one of Pumpkin’s wigs (and Ellie might’ve insisted she get the blond one to have 20% more fun).

    Plus, she knows a group of nerds that probably already own a flux capacitor.

    Plus, acting arrogant and better than people (the hooch off comment) sounds like something she’d say about Ellie’s family.

      1. Yeah, but remember Rusche said X was a sister. So the Quinn theory needs to overcome that the same way my division theory needs to overcome the “older than Ginger” part.

        1. … technically, Ruche said Sister X would be a sister if Ginger won the vote…

          Now, the facial markings imply she still is one of the Spice Girls, and Rusche did say in the comments a few comics back that X’s name started with a T, so she probably IS Fewcher Tarra, but that single piece of evidence (use of the term “sister”) is inconclusive.

    1. It especially seems like Sister X is future Tarra considering she said “our life” and not “our lives.”

      1. “Our life” is possible usage for another sister (my bet would be Pumpkin) if talking about collective family experience, for example if Cinn went on a killing spree and somehow managed to avoid being caught for a year that could be considered for her family members to describe her as ruining “our life” to speak for all of them.

        But yeah, Rusche pretty much gave up that it was future Tarra in a comment about someone being ridiculous last week or the week before.

  15. I voted for Ginger, and I do have a question.

    You mentioned that Sister X would have been a different person based on the outcome of the vote. Will that other character she could have been ever show up, or it it totally scrapped now that Tarra won?

    I ask this since I am under the impression that if Ginger won Sister X would have been the girl’s older half-sister. Since ‘there’s always an older sister’, I am holding on to hope that there will be another sister showing up eventually. . .

    1. I made a similar suggestion earlier, as I’d love to see a “Sister Y” like story arch.

      Can’t have too much Buckingham insanity.

  16. Heh — I sure wish I had ANY idea at all of what’s going on here and why. Sure is interesting to watch, though.

    1. I would suggest an archive crawl.

      Today’s explanation from the set up would have not only been Blackford’s question about the flux capacitor, but also the professor saying “Everyday, Back to the Future.”

      1. Well, I’ve read every panel from about the first month when I discovered this strip. And I am amused that I didn’t understand any of your 2nd sentence either — which I suppose is the point.

  17. I’m not sure anyone has mentioned this yet because I haven’t read through the comments, but is it just me, or does Sister X talk kinda weird?? There seems to be something different about her dialog.

    Also…what is on Sister X’s hip?? A tablet?? probably something MUCH cooler but…I’m interested.

    1. A flux capacitor is the currently accepted theory. Specifically the mechanism used to engage in time travel from the “Back to the Future” series.

      1. Thanks guys! Knowing all the back to the future references going on in these comics, I’m guessing you guys are spot on.

    2. I did notice that, which is why I’m suspecting it’s a future Quinn instead of an actual sister. When she starts talking down to people, she tends to use bigger words.

    3. The biggest thing I get from X’s speech patterns is some degree of being tired/resigned/duty-bound. Also, if she’s a time traveling Tarra, then some degree of modified phrasing would be expected as language tends to evolve over time (which would hold for any time traveler, for that matter, not just Tarra).

    1. I thought Tarra’s birthmarks simultaneously exist everywhere in both space and time, but only choose to make themselves visible on Tarra’s cheeks.

      1. I don’t know. But the Tarra Fact where the birthmarks are so unique that they can only exist in one place in space and time, no matter how many hosts are present didn’t seem to have any hits. . .

  18. Dang! I’m having problems with displaying the site again. It worked find for a few days, now it doesn’t. Again only from my laptop. Phone works fine.

    Anyone else having problems sometimes? And what system are you using? (Windows 7 and Firefox 27 for me.)

  19. I’m suggesting this, if Tarra did recognize who this sis is, and I think that she does, then showing off what she’s got vs. what sis doesn’t have is also an emotional weapon, as I think that sis misses them.

    1. If theories that Tarra’s radioactive special moves caused breast cancer leading to double mastectomy and X is future Tarra, I’d seeing her old self would be possibly bittersweet nostalgia, but I think the bigger emotional trigger would be a radioactive move. On the other hand, she might also be trying to provoke that in passing to warn her past self.

      Since Rusche already said “nobody dies” X will either have to be talked out of killing some of them or O will have to win enough to stop her. That also makes me wonder if perhaps Tarra was weakened by chemo, avoiding her radioactive moves due to cancer diagnosis before she’d developed replacement moves, or was perhaps in the hospital at a critical time she could’ve stopped things in her normal timeline. So possibly preventing her cancer or causing earlier non-radioactive move research might be sufficient to achieve her ends, too. At that point the sister killing thing might just be to make sure her past self takes it seriously.

      1. Outside of suicide, can you really kill yourself? I mean, Timecop Yes. And you can erase yourself from time. . Hmm. . could Xister’s motivation be so strong that she would remove herself from the time line to prevent the coming storm?

        1. That depends entirely on what the laws of time travel are in the universe in question. Some would allow it (for example Chuck Goodrich), but others would not. Hard telling what this one would be.

          As to the question of if someone’s motivation could be strong enough to off themselves, I’d say certainly. Now, that’s not to say X’s is that strong, necessarily, but in theory it’s certainly possible. However X’s choice of verbs two comics ago suggests she doesn’t intend to kill Tarra.

          Now if she’s future Anise, then she sounds like she might be about to try it.

        2. I don’t know about Chuck Goodrich yet, beyond his employment at NASA. I’m just past the point where his mother’s expertise are beets and precisely aimed demolitions.

  20. I am having a weird problem with my comments getting eaten when I try to submit them. At first I thought it was just a random glitch but now I’m starting to wonder if I’ve been blocked or something. Honestly, the main reason I’m submitting this comment is to see if I can comment at all when not replying to something. Has anyone else had a problem with persistent lost comments? I seem to remember seeing comments at previous times where people said they’d been blocked.

    1. Welp, this comment appears to have gone through, but I still can’t get my reply to do the same. At least I’ve learned to start writing the comments out in a separate word processor first.

      1. …and I seem to be able to reply to myself, at least. This is getting really weird and frustrating. I hope there aren’t three nearly identical comments in a que somewhere waiting for approval that are all going to show up at once in the same place.

  21. Uh, guys/gals? Ever see 12 Monkeys? Future Terra going back to prevent the armageddon caused by the ratchulas. She is going for the ‘goth’ one because Cinnamon was wearing Anise’s clothes when she released them. All they know definitively is the ratchulapolcalypse began that fateful day…. and one of the sisters released it. Probably piecing all of this together as she goes.

    1. Juniper, please hit me upside the head with a feather. I totally forgot about 12 Monkeys.


      Personally, I can’t believe I totally forgot about that. Good eye Jody. +2.

    2. Oh wow, that Cinnamon-in-Anise’s-clothing thing… that’s perversely brilliant. I’m not saying I think it’s true, but even as a fan theory it’s all kinds of deliciously twisty. It also offers a new angle on what Miss X may mean by referring to “the median”, as I think you’re the first person to produce a reason that Miss X could have for seeking to hurt Ellie, since Ellie gave Cinnamon the ratches.

      I loved 12 Monkeys, it was so clever, but the ending was very sad. I loved the joke that the apparently crazy guy claiming to be the time traveler keeps telling people with a tired voice that of course you can’t actually change the past that would be ridiculous, and then at the end it turns out that what he said really was literally true, and an understood part of the master plan. But the circular nature of the stable time loop was so depressing; for me time travel is all about the power to finally fix what went wrong, but 12 Monkeys ends up reinforcing the futility of trying to change our past- and in the case of some of the characters, the futility of even trying to change our future.

      What’s interesting is that if this is a time loop in the spirit of 12 Monkeys, it’s being played alongside numerous references to Back To The Future, which portrays a very different set of rules for time travel and more significantly, I think, a different ethos about what it means to dabble in time. Back to the Future argues that even those who seem long past redemption can be saved if you can only reach back and touch the right moment in their lives in the right way- but 12 Monkeys asserts that even those who desperately struggle for redemption are doomed once the timeline has chosen their fate.

      And, you know, look at the overarching themes that Rusche keeps working into the comic: Shotgun Shuffle is a story about redemption and triumph through the acceptance of personal responsibility. It’s like Spiderman without the crime-fighting. And that can clash very strongly with some of the tropes of the typical time-travel story.

      I don’t think Rusche would accept the idea that, just for example, George Mcfly was powerless to stand up to Biff Tannen until Marty went back in time and set an example for him. It’s tragic that George failed to stand up for himself and his family in the original time line, and quite nice that he got his act together in the altered one, but that didn’t excuse his original cowardice. On the other hand, in the as-yet-unsupported case that this storyline is going to play off of 12 Monkeys, I think Rusche would find that movie’s suggestion of the existence of inescapable fate unpalatable. The whole purpose of Juniper’s story seems to be to say that yes, no matter how bad things get, even after you’ve made mistakes that can’t be unmade, choosing to take responsibility for your life is still the better path. Heck, look at the love letter that Rusche wrote to Annakin Skywalker when he portrayed him as Lt. Dan Taylor.

      So here we have a matchup which is starting to look overwhelmingly likely to be between a familiar present-time Tarragon Buckingham at what may be the height of her personal success, a beautiful and powerful young woman who seems to able to achieve anything at all she puts her mind to, and a time-traveling future Tarragon Buckingham that has been betrayed, broken, twisted, and left deeply scarred in both the emotional and physical sense, who has taken it upon herself to revisit her own surely bitterly remembered past and attempt to do terrible violence upon her own family. To me, that feels like a battle between the underlying conflicts of Back To The Future and 12 Monkeys: whether it is that we truly can dare to do the impossible, determine our own destiny, and come out with flying colors, or that we must bow before a horrifyingly real and inevitable fate that leaves us with no recourse in our pursuit of even marginal respite but the commission of terrible acts.

      At this point, I am on the edge of my seat with anticipation to see how Tarragon is going to choose to end this fight- and I don’t mean the woman with the ponytail.

      1. Certainly isn’t fool-proof, just made sense since she is after not just Anise but all the sisters- and seeing as the ratchula plague development and release are due to them. Or maybe it is all wrong and Sister X is an agent for Umbrella Corp sent to eliminate the source of the plague, dunno. I’m a casual observer who had this dawn on me right away and was shocked no one wrote about (didn’t see your comment, Matt).

        Was the ending of 12 Monkeys that sad, really? I thought the point of the judge being on the plane was that it was about to be ended. Or was that supposed to be her only when she was younger? I guess that threw me off, I assumed she was ‘finishing’ the job that McClain couldn’t, and that it truely was just a loop. Or was it implying that she was the one who released it in the end? Either way, great movie.

        1. It has been a while since I saw the movie, but my understanding of the ending was this: Bruce Willis’s primary mission was to obtain a sample of the original virus before it had mutated. Because of his work, his overseers in the future were able to determine who had released the virus and travel back to the correct time and place to obtain that sample. The purpose of the sample was to support the creation of a cure in the future- but one that would only be useful to people in the future, since the past could not be changed. So, Bruce Willis’s work did contribute to allowing the people of the future to someday leave their underground shelters, but he and the Psychologist he is hoping to elope with are not even able to try and enjoy the last few weeks before the plague hits- instead he witnesses his own death, his life becomes a closed loop, and the Psychologist is left alone as she waits for the plague she knows is coming to kill her.

          Willis’s character’s actions do make a difference, but it is unclear that the difference can be meaningful in any way. He was unable to change any events, could not protect anything he cared about, never experienced freedom, and died unknown to those whom his actions might someday help.

        2. I agree completely with your analysis of the ending of _12 Monkeys_, but there was one more nuance: when the Bruce Willis character died, he knew exactly what was going to happen, but didn’t try to weasel out of his death. And the reason he went right ahead and died was to protect the woman he now loved. He died, but he died for her. It is overall a bleak and depressing movie, but at least the ending has a few positive notes.

        3. Ah, thanks for the clarification. Haven’t seen the movie in forever, was on Amazon Prime a few months ago and I should have watched it again. I apparently missed much. I get it now.

        4. I’m just wondering if we’re forgetting a few other time travel (I don’t want to say tropes) items.

          The Final Countdown” and “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.”

          It’s been forever since I’ve read the book, and at least half a year since I rented the DVD.

          But it seems that Tarra is unable to dabble in time travel on her own power. So perhaps those two aren’t necessarily needed, are they?

      2. Oh and another thing- someone noted that Tarra’s short hair could have been due to chemo…. Sister X’s nose is clearly broken and bent sideways to the left. This implies getting socked in the face, and possibly losing said fight- which could be the source of the hair-cutting. Again, someone probably noted it but I didn’t see it during the 5minutes I spent skimming the comments.

        1. not just short hair; short, bedraggled, dull hair – the only feature missing that’s common to chemo re-growth is cancer survivors usually end up with curly hair when/if it grows back (well, and it’s usually a mouse-brown color, irrespective of it’s original hue), so if this is the case, she didn’t lose all of it – just had large quantities fall out.

      3. Sorry, posting again.

        I have to ask, if the issue of redemption is in terms of either Doc. Brown or Marty? I thought that Doc Brown was there to have a love interest in the end, and bring things to a boy meets girl after boy time travels and wreaks havoc until it’s all fixed with steam.

        But for Marty, boy met girl, boy likes girl, girl likes boy, planned to go to the mountains, biff wrecked the car, late for school, slacker in the eyes of most outside of his clique. . . Well, I think that Marty had the vehicle for change from nearly the beginning of the movie. But I’m not going to get into that.

        I’m going to have to watch 12 monkeys again in order to refresh that theory. But it would seem that time as a linear concept for Bruce’s character seems to be flowing forward no matter what time frame he’s in. Sooo.. In the future, going forward, in the past, going forward. All in a cyclical parallel of sickness and death. Spiraling downwards. I think that the joke in that movie is that there is nothing that man can do to better themselves. Perhaps Back to the Future is, there’s no better time to learn from your mistakes, past, present and/or future. Marty learned to let the chicken slide off his back, Doc fell in love, and Jennifer watched a piece of paper go blank. Oh, and George learned to punch Biff.

        Did we forget to mention that Biff seems to be quite the connoisseur of merde?

    3. Outstanding observation and analysis. My one counter-point: if that is indeed the plot, then she already failed – the ratchantulas were already released; the plague of “locusts” has already begun.

      1. Yeah, the only thing that makes sense in that vein would be if she already tracked and dealt with the ratchantulas before confronting sisters or if the ratchantulas are irrelevant.

  22. First off, called it on the double mastectomy. Second, if Jody’s post is any indication that Sister X and the Ratchantulas are connected, called that too.

    Anyways, Chris, I am really impressed with that last panel. You can really see the resentment and anger in Sister X’s eyes. Great portrayal!

  23. With embarrassment, I am not sure if anyone said this already and I haven’t got the eyes to look through all of the comments, to small and wordy, on this and the last strip, but X does say our life, not our lives.

      1. And you even announced the emotion intended prior to your sentence. You sir roleplay a good elcor. Anyways I think it had been mentioned before, but sometimes the comments section explodes so quickly that I start skimming lol. So you’re good.

    1. Considering that her O’s seem to be getting in on the action, it makes me wonder if X decided to learn a new method before or after losing the O’s.

  24. sorry to hear about the car. being in the automotive repair profession, I’ve seen it happen many times. plus experienced it myself. so, good luck to you. and don’t let it get you down.

  25. Remembered a question I had for Tarra, that was sparked by an episode of Mythbusters (ended up watching the same episode recently soo…).

    Tarra, could you row a boat fast enough for a person to waterski behind, or have waterskied behind a rowboat?

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