The time of mildly debasing yourself

Nathan W. Pyle’s Strange Planet cartoon for this season:

(#1) The pleasures of the Christmas season, followed by resolutions for the New Year

Pyle and the beings on his his strange planet. From Wikipedia:

Nathan W. Pyle (born 1982) is an American cartoonist and writer living in New York City. He is the creator of the popular Strange Planet webcomic series, which according to Pyle depicts “a strangely familiar planet full of blue things who are doing things that seem very traditional and familiar to us, but they describe them in some unusual ways” using very technical terminology, such as saying “I crave star damage” instead of “I want to get a sun tan.”


Launched in February 2019, it quickly gained a large following on Instagram … A book version was released in November 2019 … [also published: his 2014 comic series and book NYC Basic Tips and Etiquette, showcasing his sardonic observational humor]

Pyle’s beings seem to lack most of the framework of conventional knowledge of cultural practices and the vocabulary — idioms, especially — for talking about these practices, but otherwise have an excellent knowledge of English. Here they are dealing with The Kiss, the racing heart it inspires, and the feeling of butterflies in the stomach (“(butterflies) informal a fluttering and nauseated sensation felt in the stomach when one is nervous” (NOAD):


They are then like pop-cultural fictional visitors to our planet who are to varying degrees unacculturated, or bring alien practices with them, or both — as with the Coneheads on Saturday Night Live. From Wikipedia:

The Coneheads was a recurring sketch on Saturday Night Live (SNL) about a family of aliens with bald conical heads. It originated in the 1977 premiere on January 15th (episode 35: season 2 episode 11) and starred Dan Aykroyd as father Beldar, Jane Curtin as mother Prymaat, and Laraine Newman as daughter Connie.

… The Coneheads are an alien family, natives of the planet Remulak, who find themselves stranded on Earth. The Coneheads’ most distinguishing feature is that, as their name implies, the tops of their heads are shaped like large cones.

(#4) The Coneheads at home

… Coneheads have much larger appetites than an average human. They eat large amounts of food during meals, announcing “Consume mass quantities!” They drink entire six packs of beer at once, and smoke whole packs of cigarettes at a time. They also consume foods that are inedible to humans, including cleaning fluid, pencil shavings and fiberglass insulation. On Halloween in 1977 (specifically, the October 29, 1977, SNL episode), a neighbor complains about the Coneheads’ choice of trick-or-treat handouts: six-packs and fried eggs.

The Coneheads have a very fast, nasal, monotone speech and humorously strange language patterns, using needlessly technical dialogue. They refer to food as “consumables”, and say “I summon you” to ask to speak to another person. The phrase, “Maintain low tones,” is used towards Connie by Beldar in the film and in the original 1977 sketch. … The popular term parental unit also comes from the sketches.

Seasons. The American commercial Xmas season begins, more or less officially, on Black Friday, the day after U.S. Thanksgiving, though decorations, Xmas music, and Xmas sales in stores routinely appear on All Saints Day (November 1st), the day after Halloween.

The 12 days of Xmas in the religious tradition run from  Christmas Day through Epiphany (January 6th), inclusive. In the US, the secular tradition treats the 12 days of the annoying cumulative song to end with Christmas Day rather than begin there. But there’s also a European popular tradition of treating the secular season as running from Christmas Day through New Year’s Day, making a combination of secular Xmas (with trees and the like) with a passing of the year (year’s-end + year’s-beginning) celebration.

In French, a recognition of the year’s passing can be focused either on the year to come, the fresh start (as in #1), for which you say Bonne année or something similar; or on the year just completed, for which you say Joyeuses fêtes de fin d’ année or something similar (as in the image below from the Agence pour l’enseignement français à l’étranger, the Agency for French Education Abroad):


One Response to “The time of mildly debasing yourself”

  1. long / tall | Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] Planet. As it happens, the Nathan Pyle strips first appeared on this blog a year ago, in my 12/29/19 posting “The time of mildly debasing yourself”, on the pleasures of the Christmas season, which […]

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