So it took me about five minutes and change to read the Sunday Durham Herald-Sun. That wasn’t surprising. But it’s a marvel that, amid all the carnage, the wasting away, the self-amputations, some things remain the same. The “funnies,” for example: The Family Circus is still in syndication, as are Hi and Lois, Beetle Bailey, and more. But the Herald-Sun recently dropped Doonesbury, and it seems like hardly anyone noticed. They also dropped the execrable Mallard Fillmore.
I’m not sure if this was designed to be a zero-sum change, something to appease both liberals and conservatives, or what. Doonesbury was, of course, the best comic strip in the paper, but I’m not sure Mallard Fillmore was the worst. In fact, I only read two strips. Guess which two?
The other thing I notice has not changed in 40 years is the presence of the Sunday Parade magazine. I used to read the thing when I was a kid. Even then I knew it was garbage, but I read the “Walter Scott’s Personality Parade” on the inside cover, and the “Ask Marilyn” column. Ah, the “Ask Marilyn” column, featuring answers from Marilyn vos Savant, who supposedly has an IQ of 230.
(True story from my adolescence: My friend Jimmy and I were discussing Marilyn vos Savant’s IQ. I said something like, “How can it be that high? It can’t go over 200, can it?” And Jimmy said, “What do you think happens when you hit 200? You explode?”)
(Today, Wikipedia says that vos Savant’s IQ is a matter of some controversy. And it offers some support to my notion that an IQ shouldn’t exceed 200!)
The amazing thing is that not only is Parade continuing to be published, but the same crappy features are in it, along with the same ads for commemorative coins and products for old people.
To be sure, today’s Parade is but a shadow of its once-mighty existence. It’s a smaller tabloid now, and it has 24 pages. “Walter Scott’s Personality Parade” and “Ask Marilyn” are still there, although poor Ms. vos Savant, who is now in her 70s, is reduced to one question and about 200 words.
Who publishes this thing? Is it profitable? Why is it still a staple of non-major Sunday dailies? And who reads it? (A clue could be on this cover here: A teaser for a vapid feature with a photo of … Sonny & Cher.)