1. For those who don’t follow the strip, I think it is worth viewing the panel in context:

    P.S. The words that Janice speaks in the first two panels are the beginning of the “Lorem ipsum” placeholder text, which I think is probably more well-known than Jimmy Johnson assumed. Personally, I think he should have had Arlo answer with the second line in the second panel.
    P.P.S. The geezer variation would have been “etaoin shrdlu“.

  2. I don’t think JJ is assuming that “Lorem ipsum” isn’t well known. The joke works fine (actually, better, I think), if you know what “Lorem ipsum” because, indeed, no one is going to understand what Janis means (since it has no meaning), even if they do understand where the words came from.

  3. Oh…. It never occurred to me she’d be referring to *what* she is saying. I assumed she was saying no-one would understand why she was filling a speech bubble with apparent nonsense are what the nonsense was. And I was of Kilby’s opinion it’d actually be fairly well known.

  4. The beauty of what Jimmy’s done here is that it doesn’t matter if you know about lorem ipsum or not. If you know enough about it to know it’s meaningless, then it works like WW points out. If you don’t, then it looks like gibberish or maybe for some people Latin, but it still doesn’t mean anything. Either way, the punchline works. Also note that Arlo is far, far from being really awake. Kudos all around, Mr. Johnson.

  5. “I thought “Etaoin Shrdlu” was how you sent Mr. Uldrhs Nioate back to the Fifth Dimension.”

    Please don’t.

    I’m pretty sure he’s the one responsible for the abomination that is “Up, Up, and Away”….

  6. The fourth panel is a fourth-wall break message from Mr. Johnson.

    The cartoon is about how Arlo is aware that Janis is talking, but has no interest at all in what she has to say at this particular moment. Which is why the text is lorem Ipsem. Which is well-known in the print-media professions but not so much elsewhere. Animation tends to just use squiggly lines to represent text, and movies actually have a professionally-designed newspaper that is used as a prop in lots and lots of movies… the exact same newspaper in every one. (Then they switch to a closeup if they actually need you to know what the newspaper actually says to understand how it affects the characters.)

  7. It’s not *quite* meaningless; it’s a badly corrupted version of some lines from an essay on comparative religions by Cicero, which at some point was adapted to stand in for “meaninglessness.” Which is why when it came up on another of my lists today, I posted:

    “Arlo and Janis: This is what you do when you can’t think of a joke.”
    Well, that was Cicero’s theory. (Though he was a bit drunk at the time, and botched both the build-up and the punch line. And nobody laughed. Even back then, he should have remembered “Philosophy is easy, comedy is hard” and that “Philosophy is what closes on Saturday night in Ostia.”)

  8. Back in the 40s and 50s, several science fiction authors would use “etaoin shrdlu” to stand in for swearing.”Qwert yuiop” would get thrown in for a spate of really inspired swearing.

  9. @ James – Your memory is definitely correct (I have a paperback copy of “Pogo”, vintage 1951, pages 49-51). His name was revealed just after he complained about the “bad spelling” in a book, which turned out to be a copy of “Webster’s Dictionary”. In the next strip, Howland Owl warned him that “bait is scarce”.

  10. Etaoin Shrdlu was often set to mark the end of a large block of text. Or that’s what I was taught when I was learning to run a Linotype back in the dark ages. I watched the “You will never replace hot lead for quality printing” move to “This laser printer thing will never replace phototype for quality printing.” I think in my career there were more changes in printing than in the 5 or 6 hundred years since Gutenberg. I learned to set type on a Lino Type, Then a Compugraphic, then finally PageMaker and InDesign. If you know any of those names you are probaly in printing and damned old.

  11. I had a brief interlude as a print designer. We used to do rough mockups at 300 on the laser printer in the office, but final proof and production would be printed on a linotronic… located across the lake, at a service bureau. It took too long to send the files over by modem (at 9600bps) so it was actually faster to copy it to a Syquest drive, drive over the lake, in rush-hour, and drop it off.

  12. “. . . drive over the lake, . . .”

    I’ve heard the myth of someone who walks on water, but never one about someone who DRIVES on water . . . maybe just an updated version?

  13. @Andréa : I suspect he cheats and uses one of them-there “bridge” thingees. (He’s High Tech!)

  14. Andréa, I don’t want to search for it, but Mythbusters tried driving a motorcycle across wide, deep water. They succeeded.

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