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.

“Cogito ergo verum!”

I think, therefore it’s true” seems to be Cherry’s mantra. Unlike humans, animals normally shy away from that which hurts or attacks them. But not Sassy, who seems to have a fascination for self-destruction—like humans who smoke, eat too many processed foods, or watch Reality TV shows. Isn’t it amazing that Cherry did not already know about this property, apparently situated a short distance away in Lost Forest?! 

Cherry said that this is a perfect lawn. Hmmm, I wonder if this will turn out to be a hitherto unrevealed Lost Forest Golf Course run by yet another obnoxious organization or person? Well, there are some decorative trees lining the background and there is a landscaped lake (hazard). Perhaps tomorrow we’ll hear a shout of “FORE!” and observe a golf ball slicing across the fence, narrowly missing our protagonists.

Why would Sassy want to go back?

[edited for clarity] Either Cherry’s own storyline is now moving along concurrently with Mark’s (as in, things are happening that we did not observe), or Cherry is just making a rash assumption before the results are in. When we left off, Doc Davis had only proved that Honest Ernest’s lawn treatment chemical cleans dirty coins faster than a carbonated drink could. That doesn’t exactly prove it is the source of the pet rash.

Still, if Cherry wants to find the possibly offending lawn, it seems to me it would be more productive to walk through neighborhoods with lawns.

The Week in Review and the Sunday Nature Chat

Okay, action fans! The simple overview is that Mark, Diana, and Rex arrived at the Tiger Touch Center, presided over by Tess Tigress, who was costumed in a fetching tiger dress. She was flanked by two male assistants in matching tiger shirts and caps. Their Hawaiian inspired greeting was brought down by snarky comments from Diana Daggers. This resulted in Tess banning her from the Center, whereupon a put-upon Mark was left to handle production for Rex’s intended on-location show.
The understory here (according to my team of literary experts after polishing off a case of beer) is that Diana deliberately created and reinforced this confrontation, resulting in the ban. This meant Rex would have to rely on Mark, something Diana wanted. As you might recall (and as Diana reminded Mark in Saturday’s strip), Diana manipulated Amy Lee into getting Mark to take this assignment so that Diana could convince Mark to help save Rex—being filled with self-doubt and lacking confidence—from the clutches of Tess Tigress and her cult. Quite the story, I think. Yeah, I know, I’ve been carping off and on about how this story sometimes seems to dip into Reality Show memes; but we can’t deny that they are part of our contemporary vocabulary, for better or worse.

He! He! Another pun title panel. But what elements make up that title (“Mark Trail”)? Is it what I think it is:  the stuff you bring plastic bags for when you take your dog for a walk?

I’m pretty sure we didn’t buy our house because of our pet(s). Never heard of anybody who bought property primarily to accommodate pets. Well, it could happen, I reckon. I am with Mark when it comes to a yard:  ditch the grass and go with native plantings. Less maintenance, less cost, and less hassle. And I’m 100% with Mark on the value of spiders. If you see a spider (inside or outside), that means there are insects and other bugs lurking around. Leave the arachnids alone to do their job. They’ll leave on their own when the food source dries up.

Oh, and thanks for your valuable contribution today as a lawn ornament, Cherry. You nailed it!

Diana makes the finesse

Okay, I’m sure you all saw this coming. Diana was play-acting—after a fashion—as a troublemaker, in order to deliberately get ejected and ensure Rex had to rely solely on Mark. Mark can then save Rex from what looks like a one-sided infatuation.

Clearly, this pose didn’t take much effort on Diana’s part. She must have learned enough about Tess Tigress to know what would get her angry. And so far, Rex hasn’t tumbled to the true motive for Diana’s ejection. Well, we’ll get back to this story in a week, but after Sunday, it’s time to return to Lost Forest and the Mystery Rash.

Is Diana a team player?

As this plays out, Diana ups her role as the sarcastic, cynical sidekick to the point where Tess starts slipping out of her hippie-dippie animal spirit guide persona to something more resembling angry members of the Sunny Soleil Society.

Well, how will this “tiff” get resolved, Mark? Do you quit acting like a city boy on vacation and save the project from sinking? Will Rex step in to calm things down? Again, is this play-acting or did Mark and Rex overlook Diana’s personality (again)?