MUSKRAT RAMBLINGS, Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Muskrat Ramblings
The Muskrat Way and Me
posted by John

The votes are in, and, with 55.2% of the vote, HIGH CONCEPT was the free James Wallis “thank you” game, as voted on by the Army of Dorkness.

Details as they emerge.


I’ve been asked by some what differentiates the Muskrat Way (from Monday’s strip) and the Tao of Igor (from Dork Tower comic books 30-36).

In other words, both Igor and Carson have definite philosophies. How do they differ?

To them, I’d add Gilly. All operate with specific, undeniably positive world-views. But the differences are (to me, at any rate) well-defined, and I hope the comics reflect that.

Gilly and Igor represent, to my mind, forces of nature. Neither’s world-view is forced: they both live their lives with an almost unthinking freedom. OK…perhaps Igor’s more “Unthinking” while Gilly’s more “Freedom.” Yet – for better or worse – both Igor and Gilly are utterly true to their core natures. This makes them incredibly fun characters to work with.

The Muskrat Way, on the other hand, IS sometimes forced, by its very nature. It’s a philosophy of life Carson abides by, but one that takes action on the part of its follower. The list of tenets hinted at in Monday’s comic strip certainly allude to this.

While Igor lives his life with well-meaning but Chaotic Neutral abandon, the Muskrat Way is an approximation of Gilly’s perky outlook on life. But – muskrats being muskrats – it takes work. When you belong to a species that’s eaten by people in some parts of these United States, there are times the cheeriness doesn’t come naturally. Yes, his people rode with the US Cavalry in the latter half of the 19th century…as hats.

Yet I’m not sure there’s anything unnatural or too forced with the Muskrat Way. Spreading a little happiness…living life with a positive outlook…well, what’s wrong with that?

This weeks’ strips aren’t directed towards fandom and its natural inclination to grumble, though. They’re directed at me. There are times when I find myself all owly and scowly, with absolutely no reason to be. There are people in this world with real problems.

Often, when the Dork Tower characters banter back and forth like Matt and Carson are doing at the moment, it actually represents an interior dialog of mine. While I identify with Matt more often than not (one reason I’m so hard on the poor guy), Carson, Igor, Ken and even Gilly all contain aspects of self-portraiture. Some more than others. But the Muskrat Way certainly contains rules – “suggestions” is possibly a better word – that I, personally, wish to follow, and try to.

“Buy a CD from an opening act”? Yes, yes I will.

“Make a child smile”? Do some people have any idea how fricking easy it is to make a kid feel good about themselves?

Complaining about things in my amazingly blessed life – that I absolutely have the power to change – seems an utter waste of time, breath and electrons.

Those following me on Twitter have probably had their share of my, well, let’s call it “distaste,” shall we, for the buffoonish (stop it, John – STOP IT!) Guy Fieri or “Unwrapped” at this point. Does following the tenets of the Muskrat Way mean I’ll no longer gripe, moan and whinge at Food Network shows?

Probably not. A certain amount of grumbling makes for good comics, after all. There are several things I don’t want Dork Tower to ever become: “Love Is…” falls comfortably near the top of that list.

But the next time the unwatchable “Unwrapped” follows the sublime “Good Eats,” instead of complaining bitterly in a series of scathing (but HI-larious, erudite, and insightful) 140-character Tweets…I’ll just change the channel, and find something I like.

Or maybe do something positive: like improve upon my Food Network drinking game.

The Muskrat Way. Sometimes forced, seldom useless.

——- John


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