And just what are your qualifications, Tess?

As far as story development, shouldn’t Rivera have the characters at least look into this organization for such basics as certifications, training, licensing, etc.? At the least, Rex should be asking Tess these questions on camera, rather than reacting like she just put her hand somewhere else.

Just like the old Mark Trail, Rebooted Mark also fails to capture (on video or camera) current action and dialog. At least Peter Parker thought enough to set his camera on auto to capture images of his fights with Doctor Octopus and the Green Goblin! Time to step in and take charge, Mark, since Rex is too smitten. Roll film!

In today’s installment, Mark continues to just stand around (on what looks like a Christmas Tree railroad track), instead of filming the “therapy session”, as Tess suggested. Way to (not) go, Mark! This will truly be some kind of documentary.

And apparently, today’s strip is an “edited” view of the actual therapy session, since Rex does not mention his dog. If only we had complete video footage to look at …! Mark? Mark?


Today’s Twofer

Home chores and new window inserts kept me too busy yesterday, so today is a double-header.

Okay, the story is finally moving along as Tess explains her Touch Center in more detail. (But quit fantasizing about the cub in panel 3!)  And Mark is finally capturing video of activities. That’s some progress, at least. Maybe Tess actually believes this is a valid therapy technique. Or maybe she is a good con. They do seem to be very popular these days.
But Rex hasn’t got a lot to say. Odd, since they are supposedly filming an episode for his show.  Perhaps that is meant to suggest his distracted state. Well, I think this adventure would pace better if Rivera cut down on the gag-a-day format for lame puns. They should be dunked!

At last, an actual crisis to deal with. Suddenly the temperature dropped some 30 degrees as the story takes a walk on the darker side. Mark doesn’t seem to understand what the word “volunteer” means with regard to wages. At the same time, Tess exhibits a quick change from politely flirtatious to accusatorily defensive. We’ve seen that anger suddenly flare up before. Meanwhile, Rex must have forgotten that he is supposed to be filming a show. What we have here is failure to communicate.

That toad is not the only horny thing around here!

Now hooooold on there, Baba Looey. . . I mean Mark! Tess might be doing something wrong in the way she runs her Tiger Touch Center, but making eyes at Rex is just biology in action. Same for Rex. Aside from Tess, the only other person doing something wrong is squishy Mark, who so far refuses to film the cubs, undermining why he is there.

Diana Daggers may be giving Mark a story about this place being a covert cult and it could turn out to really be a case of jealousy. It’s possible that Diana may still be recovering from Professor Bee Sharp’s stinging betrayal and fixated on Rex on the rebound. Based on her surreptitious photographing of Mark’s abs while on their boat during the zebra mussel adventure, it’s not too big a stretch to see that she could be interested in Rex. Even Tess has noticed some of Rex’s physical attributes.

The Week in Review and the Sunday Nature Chat

If you missed this past week’s strips, you won’t be too far out of the loop. Mark started his pretense of filming the Rex Scorpius Show in the Tiger Touch Center, without knowing how to even run a video camera. But then trouble appeared when Mark got sidetracked by Tess taking a baby lion cub out of a holding pen to demonstrate its calming influence. This resulted in Mark holding an internal discussion with himself on the mistreatment of lion cubs and whether he should get involved. That took up most of the week.

Mark’s concern conflicted with Tess and Rex, who wanted Mark to film Rex holding a cub. Mark didn’t want to, thinking it would be exploitive, rather than evidentiary (for the undercover exposé). Mark offered up a weak excuse about not having enough battery life to film Rex holding a cub, but strangely enough, he said there was enough battery life left to get location shots of the Touch Center!

How Rex and Tess will respond to this transparent lie is something we’ll have to wait for Monday to discover. Anyway, if your newspaper doesn’t carry the Sunday Mark Trail…

Unlike the daily strips, there does seem to be a larger reader acceptance and even appreciation for Rivera’s Sunday nature strips. Rivera might even agree. I’ve read that she enjoys doing them the most; possibly because she has an affinity for nature and animals. I’m betting it’s also due to the fact that the drawing space allowed is much bigger than what is mandated for the dailies.

And following her habit, Rivera once again focuses on an animal that is popular in the state/location that is the basis of the current Mark Trail story. Once again, an animal is endangered by urbanization and farming. Mark makes a fair point about the horny toad eating harvester ants, but for that to matter, a farmer would need hundreds, if not thousands, of those creatures. That would not likely be possible or practical.

Is there a plan here, guys?

Lemme see if I understand this logic:  There is not enough battery life to record Rex holding a cub for a few minutes, yet there is enough battery life to film the rest of the Touch Center? Hmmm, pretty weak excuse, Mark. Is Tess really as naive as you think she is? At the least, I’d expect Tess to suggest “Mark, you’re a pro, right? Just put in your spare battery!Uh, spare battery?”  Uh-oh.

Anyway, Mark is clearly a victim of his own self-righteousness by not filming Rex holding a cub. He seems to assume that he really is filming an episode of Rex’s show, rather than filming evidence of possible animal abuse. I would have thought he’d be filming every damn thing he could. But if he continues to avoid filming the very things that are wrong, he might as well go to work at the Hallmark Network. I’m not sure where Rivera is going with this.

Why does Mark talk to himself like he is lecturing?

As Rex, Tess, and an animal handler conveniently stand in the distance and just stare, Mark gets to film the tiger cubs, who seem to be having a good enough time on their own. I’m not sure where Mark acquired all of this information about tiger cubs and zoos, but we can assume it happened in between the published strips, during times when . . . you know, comic strip characters take care of personal business best not published.

I’m fantasizing public bathrooms for comic strip characters, with waiting lines and cross-strip conversations. That could make an interesting strip all by itself. Anyway…

While on the throne, some comic strip characters would leaf through Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader, while Mark must have skimmed information on roadside zoos from websites. Maybe Rivera was inspired by the Netflix series, Tiger King.  I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that Tess will not later hire a hitman to take out Mark or Rex. Diana, on the other hand, better watch out!

Little Town Flirt

Yeah, okay. This is a bit weird. I wasn’t aware that lions (or cubs) could show distinct emotions, such as sadness or fear (as in panel 3). They do seem to have some limited facial expressions, from what I could find out, but most of them appear to consist largely of big, open mouths that say “I’m coming to eat you!

Seems to me that Tess is using her “therapy” more to project her own feelings of loneliness onto Rex. Mark has a point, though, but I’m not ready to call in the ASPCA until we find out about the parents of these cubs and where they sleep.

Just a thought: You think this might wind up like the original Jurassic Park, after the dinosaurs escape?

I’ve seen more sophisticated mini-golf courses

Mark discovers a flaw in this supposed covert plan when he realizes he should have gotten briefed on how to use a video cam, first. Or perhaps my own off-the-cuff hypothesis is shedding its few layers of plausibility, and all of this is really just ad-hoc chaos. But if that is the case, it seems unnecessarily foolish. We know that Daggers deliberately asked Mark to help her save (rescue) Rex. Why would she deliberately do something dumb that puts Mark into an untenable situation?
On the other hand, Tuesday’s strip ended with a decent-enough pun. But moving on . . . .

Seems to me if Mr. Know-It-All Mark Trail knows the separation age for tiger cubs, he should also be able to tell their age. Call me befuddled, but I’m not sure how Mark suddenly became multi-tasking when a few “moments” ago, he wasn’t even sure how to turn the video camera on.

I suppose that the raised eyebrow stare Mark displays in panel 4 is only supposed to provide us a symbolic confirmation of Mark’s sly plan, and we should not assume it is an actual expression, as it would be something that Tess Tigress could easily see. She might then respond “Mark! Are you trying to imitate Jack Nicholson? Ming the Merciless? Or are you planning something sneaky?

Well, I can’t say I’m impressed with the layout of this place so far. Looks amateurish. A fair clue this place could be a scam.

Pay no attention to the fool behind the camera!

We’ve already had a week of Mark and Rex at the gate to the touching zoo, and we’re still here. You’d think somebody would, at least, have had to go to the bathroom. Unlike the sober, straight-forward Mark Trail of Sunday, we’re back to the Kramer version of Mark Trail.

Well, I think I already planted my flag in the hypothetical ground that Diana’s expulsion was deliberately staged and this danse des imbéciles of Mark’s is just a pose to fool the zoo staff to overlook his actual undercover investigation. So, we’ll see who turns out to be the real fool here.

The Week in Review and the Sunday Nature Chat

Hard at work you say? Spent too much time stressing over the Emmys? Couldn’t keep up with Bik Bok shorts? And couldn’t find time for Mark Trail?Fret not, dear reader. I’ve got you covered.

It’s been a Cherry Week! Rivera dedicated this week to Cherry searching for the suspect lawn (tainted by Honest Ernest’s lawn elixir) she believed could be the source of the pet rash. She was aided by Rusty and their canine witness, Lassie. I mean, Sassy! And what better way to search for a suspect lawn then to take a walk through the woods of Lost Forest. So they did.

Surprise! Surprise! They discovered a property along Lost Forest hitherto unknown to them, which is kind of odd when you think about it. The lawn was golf-course green, raising red flags in Cherry’s mind.

Rusty took it upon himself to carry Sassy over the property fence and across the lawn, when a menacing voice and accusing finger challenged Rusty’s trespass. Turns out it was Violet Cheshire, so  Cherry and Rusty feigned an apology and retreated to the woods. Looks like they missed a big lawn sign with a yellow triangle, similar to the logo on Honest Ernest’s lawn treatment bottles. And it looks like Cherry forgot to grab grass clippings to analyze. Well, before Mark’s adventure resumes on Monday, let’s check out today’s nature expository!

Yes, indeed! Try planting some milkweed seeds in your garden or along the house or garage. It’s enjoyable to watch Monarchs up close. And it beats a boring lawn of just grass and edged flower beds.