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Test Pattern: Five-link Friday

Turkey help, forgotten books, and stuff on your cat. By Gael Fashingbauer Cooper

Five-link Friday

No five-link Friday next week, since it'll be the day after Thanksgiving and we'll all be in turkey comas. Except you Canadians, who got your Thanksgiving over with already.

• One of my favorite Thanksgiving references: . Recipes, a carving guide, and 10 cooking disasters to avoid.

• The .

• Ever racked your brain for the name of that favorite book from your childhood? These days, you can Google it, post it on any of a number of online forums, or e-mail friends for help. But if none of those work, for $2, you can submit your memory of the book to Loganberry Books' and see if it can be answered. You can also read through submitted stumpers and those that have already been answered.

• I may have linked to this before, but I do love it. features photos of commercial buildings that used to be very obviously fast-fooderies, and are still recognizable. My favorites are the . Some even !

• Reader-submitted link: , from Meghan. Those are some tolerant pets, I'll tell you that. Use the e-mail link below to submit your favorite links for an upcoming five-link Friday.

State slogans that oughta be

Don't worry, New Jersey, you're far from alone in needing a new state slogan. Here are some of my favorite suggestions from the reader mailbag.

Alabama"Really just Mississippi in a mirror."    --Wade

Connecticut"Driver's license test? What driver's license test?"    --Renee

Delaware"The place you drive through to get to the beach."    --Judith

Florida"God's Waiting Room."    --Byron

Hawaii"Aloha -- we don't know if we're coming or going."  --Ron

Illinois"Will the defendant please rise?"    --Kelli

Indiana"Chicago's New Jersey."    --Shawn"Hoosier Daddy?"    --Ron

Kansas"Just because our names are similar does not mean we have anything in common with Arkansas!"    --Wade

Maine"We're not as creepy as Stephen King makes us out to be!"    --Wade

Massachusetts"Home of the Girl from Nantucket."    --Toni

Minnesota"Not just cold, butt-cold."    --Karen

Mississippi"We have a full set of teeth ... if you count us all at once." --Ash"The Commodore 64 of the United States of America."    --Ash

New Jersey"Welcome to New Jersey, what exit you at?"    --Rob"Funny Ha Ha?"    --Rich

North Carolina"Ohio technology tried here first!"    --Brian

Oklahoma"The circus has been here twice!"    --Karen"Come visit beautiful Tornado Alley! (Rebuilt every five years.)"  --Wade

Pennsylvania"Where the roads never seem to get any better."    --Ryan

South Dakota"We have two seasons: Swat and Shovel."    --Gary

Texas"We put the 'fun' back in 'dysfunctional'."    --Christy

Utah"Just one legal wife per man since 1890."    --Mark

Washington(After Mt. St. Helen's eruption) "Don't come to Washington, Washington will come to you."    --Michael(From a Spokane resident) "Washington: Home of Seattle, Tacoma, and, uh, that other city over there."    --David

Wisconsin"Come smell our dairy air."   --Submitted by numerous folks"Come for the cheese, stay to laugh at the accents."    --Karen

State slogans for a new era

So apparently , after rejecting "New Jersey: We'll Win You Over" as too negative. That underwhelming slogan reminds me of when Delta Airlines used the tagline "Delta Gets You There," and comedians would mock it by spouting belligerently: "HEY! We GET ya there!"

New Jersey is still deciding on a new slogan, but it likely won't be what one Philadelphia Inquirer reader suggested: "New Jersey: It Always Smells Like This."

The story got me thinking about all the joke slogans we've seen for states throughout the years. They're collected all over the Web, .

The slogans are equal opportunity offenders. Some joke about weather ("Arizona: But It's a Dry Heat!"), some about demographics ("Florida: Ask Us About Our Grandkids!"), and few are politically correct ("West Virginia: One Big Happy Family. Really!").

Some make for a good laugh ("Kansas: First of the Rectangle States") and others should be sent back to the drawing board ("Nebraska: Ask About Our State Motto Contest.")

I grew up in Minnesota, and some of the slogans I remember seeing on T-shirts and bumper stickers include "Land of Lakes and Flakes," "10,000 Lakes and 10,000,000,000 Mosquitoes," and "Land of Two Seasons: Winter and Road Construction."

Now that I'm in Washington state, slogans I hear include "Help! We're Overrun By Nerds and Slackers!", "Home of Bigfoot and Big Imaginations," and "Washington: No, The Other One."

Do you have a favorite joke state slogan, whether for New Jersey or another of the nifty fifty? Send it in.

Soap! Opera! Comic! Strips!

Newspaper comics fascinate me. Until recently, there was one genre of comics that I ignored completely: The soap-opera strip. You know what I'm talking about: The strips that don't go for a joke, but instead wind out a convoluted, semi-realistic story based on human characters. In these strips, beagles don't fly Sopwith Camels and stuffed tigers don't talk. These are strips like "Mary Worth," "Mark Trail," "Judge Parker," and "Gil Thorp."

Other strips can be realistic but still go for the joke ending, like my favorite, "For Better or For Worse." But soap-opera strips are never intentionally funny, instead, what's funny about them is how irresistably quaint they feel, an anachronism in a world that's moved on. It's as if they exist in a time warp.

Their plots meander along for weeks without much happening (much like television soaps). There's a great line in "The Golden Girls" where Dorothy tells Blanche, "I haven't read Apartment 3-G since 1962." And Blanche replies "Oh, well, let me catch you up! It is later that same day..."

The modern world rarely interferes in soapy strips. You can read the strips for weeks and still be unsure as to whether they're set in the present day or the 1950s. Their artists are aware of this, however, and will suddenly shoehorn in a reference to "iPods" or "the Internet" just to make you feel really lost.

Soap-opera strips are always the best-dressed on the comics page, as their characters are almost always clad in suits or other business attire.

But my favorite item of note about these strips is how they're puncuated. With the exception of questions, Almost! Every! Single! Line! Ends! In! An! Exclamation! Point!

In a recent "Mary Worth," a character shrieks "Vic, you mentioned you're a single parent!" In "Judge Parker," someone orders "I want you to think about what we just discussed, son!" In "Rex Morgan, M.D.," it's explained "Rex knew Jack's family when they lived here before!"

Who screams sentences like these? Why wouldn't a period do just as well? It's as if the characters are yelling even when they're just thinking quietly to themselves. If these characters knew how to use e-mail, you're pretty sure they'd be WRITING IN ALL CAPS!

I love because the main character is just so darn nosy. The National Lampoon once parodied the strip as "Mary Worthless," and featured her trying to commit suicide because none of the people she helped cared enough to help her back. Finally she leaps from a bridge, only to become caught on a part of it. Finally, a boy she'd helped happens by, and with the flick of his switchblade, offers her help ... cutting her free to fall to her death.

I enjoy because he's so wonderfully square-jawed and clean-cut, out there among the animals. Some years back, the cartoonist had him give up his famed pipe to be even more Ned Flanders-esque. I imagine Mark Trail's wild nights at home consist of alphabetizing his issues of National Geographic.

My favorite soapy strip, however, has got to be perhaps the only comic strip about high-school sports. These are high schoolers like you've never seen outside faded yearbooks (check the   -- or is that a girl? Or is that a helmet?) Thorp himself has a flattop so sharp you could open mail with it, and there's a nerdy character called -- no kidding -- Brick House.

My local papers don't carry many of the soap-opera strips. But these days, that doesn't matter. Weblogs such as and regularly skewer the goofier aspects of the comics. You can read your fix of whatever strips you like on the Web, and thanks to online archives, you can even skip them for months and then gorge on one big catch-up session. Don't be surprised, though, if you find you haven't missed much. After all, it's still just "later the same day."