Spread The F Word

F Minus is the daily comic strip by Tony Carrillo
Visit www.FMIN.us for more information.
www.GoComics.com for today's comic.

Oct 10, 2007

Time is on my side

Normally I would wait for the weekly roundup to talk about this, but I'm getting some awesome Hate Mail, and I can't wait to share it. Here's today's comic: Apparently some people are completely missing the boat on this one. As I write this, it's ten a.m. and I've already had four professors of cleverness write me to inform me of... well, I'll let you read it:

I liked reading your comic, but now I have lost all respect and interest for it because of a very obvious mistake that doesn't make any sense. In the comic, a person at a ckock shop is handing a clock back to a coustomer and saying "I'm afraid this clock is too badly damaged to repair. In fact, it's only right once a day."
That statement would only be true if the clock was an electronic one that was set on 24-hour time (as the military uses; 6 pm would be read as 18:00 on the clock). In contrast, an analog clock would be correct TWICE a day if it was stopped. This even reminded me of the riddle "Which is better; a clock that is (x) minutes fast/slow or one that is stopped?" Obviously the correct answer is the one which is stopped, as it would show the correct time twice a day. In the future, please double-check for inconsistencies that are incorrect and not related to the joke line of the comic.

... the author of the next letter was not quite so angry, but a little more smug:
Hi ..
This cartoon should have said ... "its only right twice a day"
because the hands are on 10 or 11 o'clock . If they were on 12 o'clock ... then you could say
" Its only right once a day" ....
sorry .. I am an engineer ... we are quick to recognize always see these kinds of faults

I'm sure I'll get more letters during the day, so I'm going to do something I hate to do. I will explain this joke for all the other smarty-pants out there:

The comic is a play on the old phrase "even a broken clock is right twice a day". The clock the customer brought in is so broken, that it's only right once a day. Get it?

The thing that boggles my mind is that everyone that wrote me is familiar with that old phrase, yet they still didn't get the joke. I could understand someone being confused if they had never heard it, but they all mention it in their letter, as if to say, Here's a little something to help you remember how clocks work! Well thank you, Einstein. Do you have a little phrase to help me understand relativity too?

As a result of these letters, I've decided to add a new feature to F Minus comics: The Big Red Arrow of Comedy. It's intended to help engineers and the like to find exactly where in the comic I am using "humor". On a slightly different note, I've noticed when someone writes me just to tell me I suck and I'm not funny, they don't sign their name. But when they are writing to point out my ignorance, they include their full name, job title, and address. That way I can mail a letter of apology and ask them to be my life coach.
I'll post more funny letters about this comic, if any.

EDIT: Hey, the engineer wrote back...
Hey Thanks for the reply ...
I had forgotten about this. anyway .... I stand corrected (maybe) . 12o'clock would also be correct twice a day... but you could argue that 5o'clock is both 5am and 5pm .. they are both on the same day but there is only one 12 noon and you can say 12midnight is the start of the next day ...so in a 24 hour period you can have only one 12o'clock or 3 in a 48hr period ( using that logic).
What do you think ..?

My response:
I think you might want to check that logic again, James. If midnight is applied to the start of the next day, that means THAT day starts with a 12 midnight and has a twelve noon. That's twice. The next day will also start with a twelve and have a twelve noon, and so on to infinity. So every day will have two 12's. A 48 hour period will have four 12's.
They test us on all this stuff before becoming cartoonists.

EDIT: The letters keep coming...
Included are my responses in blue. I try to keep my response at a politeness level greater than or equal to that of the letter I received. It's not easy.

Subject: Clock Repairs
Your cartoon about clocks that don't run was half right. "In fact", a stopped clock shows the correct time twice a day . . . once in the AM and once in the PM.
I assume that mine was not the only message on the subject.
(Name Omitted)
National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors . . . memb.#582**

Nope, you weren't the only person to write me. "In fact", many other people misunderstood this comic. You see, the comic is a play on the old phrase "even a broken clock is right twice a day" (referring to someone that is usually wrong, but sometimes has the right idea). The clock in the cartoon is SO broken, it's right only ONCE a day. Of course, this is impossible; hence-> humor.
-Tony Carrillo
National Association of Clock Comic Writers... memb.#1

Subject: Oops! You get an F Minus on this one...
A comment about your F Minus cartoon that appeared in the Knoxville News Sentinel on October 10. The cartoon depicts a clock repair shop and the proprietor is saying to a lady "I'm afraid this clock is too badly damaged to repair. In fact, it's only right once a day." Any typical clock with a dial face shows only twelve hours, which means a broken clock will always display the correct time twice per day. My schoolteacher wife says you get an "F Minus" on this one.
(Name Omitted)

Kingston, TN

Uh, teacher... I'd like to contest that grade. You see, the cartoon is based on the old phrase, "Even a broken clock is right twice a day". The clock in this comic is SO broken it's only right ONCE a day, which is of course, impossible: that's what makes it funny.
If you'd like to stay and study after class, maybe I can give you some extra credit.
Thanks for the email!
-Tony Carrillo

Subject: Clock
A clock that is only, right once a day, must be a 24 hour clock. The back ground shows only 12 hour clocks. A 12 hour clock that is stopped is right twice a day.
(Name Omitted)
Charlotte NC 28226

Yes I know, Guy. The comic is play on that old phrase, "even a broken clock is right twice a day". The clock in the comic is SO broken, it's only right once a day. Of course this is impossible, which is why it's a joke.
But thanks for playing our game!
-Tony Carrillo

So this is my day. Tired of it yet? I am.

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Arun said...

thats telling them alright :)
and lookit this comment by that engineer - " If they were on 12 o'clock ... then you could say
" Its only right once a day".."
uh hullo,we have 12 noon and 12 midnight right?...thats two..!!!
I'm an engineer too but I'm also a cartoonist,so I love the power struggle here :)
I love yer 'toons Tony..I hope they release your F minus book in India...

Roni said...

"inconsistencies that are incorrect and not related to the joke line of the comic."

I love this phrase. Not only does he point out that inconsistancies are incorrect, but that this whole email was not related to the joke of the comic.

hypnobee said...

Once again, a great joke becomes greater, now that I know people are enraged by the apparent oversight!

Keep up the great work!

hungrydog said...

I love that kind of mail! At least it shows people are reading.... I guess you have to make it more obvious to people, perhaps just by having the word "once" in bold would have done it.

I have had so many cartoons nixed because it was thought they would be over the readers' heads...depressing.

Lindsay said...

My favorite is the red arrow of comedy, since I am a visual/slow learner. It really helps me, and the American public, put my priorities straight. Then I can stop worrying about where the humor is and focus on my weekend, right? Am I right, people?

Tony said...

By the way, these letters are copy-pasted directly from the email, so all the spelling and grammar is the way they sent it. Did you notice that the engineer is "quick to recognize always see" faults?

Daniel said...

The most insulting thing is that they think you'd use old cliches for your jokes.

And they do make 24-hour analog clocks.

And it's better to have a slow clock. You can always figure out the correct time once you know how many minutes it is off by, while the stopped clock tells you nothing (it isn't ever right -- at least not in any meaningful use of the word).

Garland said...

Not only did they miss the joke, they were wrong: A clock could be broken in such a way that its hands move, but at a differnt rate,
but that is besides the point.
-a physics major
ps love the comic

Erin said...

maybe the first angry reader was confused because he thought the whole scene was taking place in a ckock shop...a common mistake.

Tony you're awesome! Love the book!

Cyrus said...

Ah, engineers...can't see the big picture because they're so stuck on the minutae. But seriously, if you're analyzing a comic to try to find the punch line, you're hopelessly lost.

Moderator said...

It's great to know that people of such intellectual stature are wasting their time (pun intended) telling you everything that you did wrong. I thought the comic was fucking hilarious. Keep up the good work.

Charlene said...

And that's the problem: there are people who don't simply assume the clock is a normal type or that the joke is solely in the dialogue. The existence of a 24-hour analog clock or a clock that is never right immediately come to mind, and that distracts them from the wordplay.

alirara said...

I don't understand why those people were freaking out anyways. This comic is amazing and it was published on my birthday. The fact that all these people were freaking out about it makes my birthday even better. Some people can be so arrogant sometimes. And when they are wrong it makes me happy.

Noah said...

Don't clock and watch collectors have anything better to do? Maybe they have too much time on their hands. Hey, Tony, can I borrow that comedy arrow?

Andrew said...

Tony, you are truly a DELIGHT!

Studio Carey said...

How come no one has taken notice to the Peals Before Swine clock in the background!? comic crossover!

when people obsess, they miss out on all the other details. so touchy...

Fritzmonkey said...

My sister just pointed out that it is possible for a clock to only be correct once a day. If the clock is running at half speed it will only be correct once a day. Also if the hypothetical broken clock is one of those old flap clocks it would only be right once a day if broken or simply unplugged.