Understanding Bizarro

Today’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro, requiring a crucial piece of cultural knowledge:


(#1)(If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 2 in this strip — see this Page.)

The figure of Batman is the easy part of understanding this cartoon; asking the waiter for “the insect steward” is the part that draws heavily on background knowledge: that bats primarily eat insects, and that high-end restaurants will offer the services of a sommelier, or wine steward, to its diners. So we are asked to see Batman simultaneously as an upper-class man (Bruce Wayne) ordering food in an elegant restaurant (admittedly, in a bat costume) and as an actual bat, a predator seeking its prey.

On the sommelier, see my 10/28/17 posting “Further adventures in cartoon understanding”, with in #2 a Paul Noth New Yorker cartoon “Mommelier”, and in #4 this photo of a sommelier in the costume of his craft:

(#2)

From Wikipedia:

A sommelier, or wine steward, is a trained and knowledgeable wine professional, normally working in fine restaurants, who specializes in all aspects of wine service as well as wine and food pairing. The role in fine dining today is much more specialized and informed than that of a wine waiter.

… A sommelier may be responsible for the development of wine lists, and books and for the delivery of wine service and training for the other restaurant staff. Working along with the culinary team, they pair and suggest wines that will best complement each particular food menu item. This entails the need for a deep knowledge of how food and wine, beer, spirits and other beverages work in harmony. A professional sommelier also works on the floor of the restaurant and is in direct contact with restaurant patrons. The sommelier has a responsibility to work within the taste preference and budget parameters of the patron.

In #1, we’re contemplating some combination of a wine steward for a human diner and an authority on fine insects for a bat diner: an insect steward.

Bonus. Bats feed on insects. What feeds on bats? Such a predator could turn up in a temple of fine dining (well, in such a place in a cartoon) asking for guidance in selecting a suitable bat to order — asking to consult the bat steward.

From the BatWorlds enthusiast site on 11/5/13:

Main predators: owls, hawks, snakes, raccoons.

Snakes are a common predator of bats that consume fruits. The snakes can easily blend into the surroundings of the trees and plants where such fruits grow. These snakes can range in size from small to quite large. They tend to be more of a problem in warmer climates. In areas where bat houses are erected there are usually lots of problems with snakes coming along.

In some locations raccoons and weasels have been identified as bat predators. They often lurk around areas where the bats sleep. They will wait for them as they enter or exit that location. Spiders called Tarantulas can also kill small species of bats. They tend to be in many of the same environments and are opportunistic feeders. Minks have been identified as bat predators too in some locations.

… The biggest predator of bats though are humans.

Specifically, from the My Thatched Hut site on 2/5/17, on “The Cave of the Bat-eating Snake: See snakes hanging from the roof of a cave and catching bats as they fly past”:


(#3) A rat snake eating a bat in a Mexican bat cave

The species of snake in the cave is called the Red Rat Snake [apparently the yellow-red rat snake (Pseudelaphe flavirufa) in the family Colubridae]. They live in Mexico, Belize and Honduras.

… The cave is near the village of Kantemo in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, not too far from Playa del Carmen and Tulum.

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