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.

A little deception goes a long way.

Once again, Cherry is put into a moral quandary:  Ethics v. Income. If she comes down too hard on Violet, her apparent sole source of income could dry up. But she has stood up to Violet in the past, confessing to her own actions against Violet and the Sunny Soleil Society. Still, Cherry still has no actual proof. So, caution is the watchword for now.

I bet Cherry didn’t get any grass clippings, either. That might require another midnight raid by the Black Rose Garden Club.

On the other hand, Cherry can avoid the moral quandary, or at least put it on hold, by simply reporting her finding to Doc, who can properly administer the necessary balm to the pets, then carefully school the owners into being more careful where their pets play. Then anonymously report Honest Ernest to the EPA!

Rusty’s earnest effort gains some attention

Cherry, you are starting to sound as didactic and heavy-handed as Mark. All you needed to say was “Don’t cross the fence, Rusty!” By the time you got to the main point, he was already over and gone. Still, I suppose it was necessary to further the story.

I wonder if Rivera is deliberately spoofing one of the old-time foibles of this strip in panel 3, where Rusty’s thought balloon is “ambiguously” pointing either to him or the chipmunk. So, what is Rusty thinking of: “Spotted the sign by that Ernest guy!” I’m not sure what sign Ernest was “by”, but Rusty is onto something, all right. That diamond shape on the lawn signs appears on the bottles of Honest Ernest’s lawn treatment. Clearly, this property belongs to Ernest and must double as his testing lab.

Maybe that’s also why the chipmunk is stuck on that tree stump. It’s too afraid to cut across the lawn.