2771: College Knowledge

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College Knowledge
'Your chitin armor is no match for our iron-tipped stingers! Better go hide in your jars!' --common playground taunt
Title text: 'Your chitin armor is no match for our iron-tipped stingers! Better go hide in your jars!' --common playground taunt


This comic and 1202: Girls and Boys are plays on the common playground rhyme which children will often recite when divided by gender is that "girls go to college to get more knowledge; boys go to Jupiter to get more stupider," also commonly heard as "Boys go to Mars, to get more candy bars; girls go to Jupiter, to get more stupider." The words "boys" and "girls" may be interchanged, depending on the gender of the person chanting (or how intelligent they are, for that matter). The schoolyard taunt embodies the competitiveness and separation commonly seen between young boys and girls, and ideas about the superiority of one's gender.

Starting out with this cadence, three characters (or child versions) jump rope and explore parts of the solar system and beyond by taking it in turns to provide the rhythm's tempo. First Jill (who is turning the left end of the rope), then a Cueball (at the right), followed by a Ponytail (doing the jumping), before returning to Jill. As they concentrate on various stellar bodies that are harder and harder to rhyme, their chants become increasingly hesitant and obscure, ruining the rhythm, and resulting in ever more contrived "rhymes", to the point where they eventually seem compelled to abandon the whole game.

The title text refers back to some of the rhymes the characters mention, making sure to stay consistent with whichever gender acquires which object. Speaking from the perspective of the college-bound gender, who had acquired ferrous iron from Eris (or perhaps become more composed of it, by bodily transformation), the girls playfully threaten the boys with iron-tipped stingers, for which the boys' acquired armor of chitin (a material commonly found on the exoskeletons of various insects, including in any stings these might normally have) from Triton is purportedly no match. The girls then also refer to the jars which the boys had acquired from Mars, telling the boys that they'd better hide in them if they wanted any sort of protection from the iron-tipped stingers. To top it all off, the title text finally claims that this is supposedly a "common playground taunt" among children, which implies the unlikely outcome that the bizarre and unwieldy rhymes which the characters in the comic created have somehow persisted and passed into common usage enough to be generally recognizable.

In 1202: Girls and Boys, boys and girls both go to college and to Jupiter, both to get more knowledge.


  • Going to Mars to get more jars may be a reference to a 1955 Burma-Shave campaign promising a free trip to Mars for whoever sent in 900 empty jars. The joking offer was accepted by a Wisconsin shopkeeper named Arliss French. The company enjoyed the publicity and sent him and his wife to Moers.
  • Ceres is a dwarf planet in the asteroid belt, between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.
  • Chitin is a polysaccharide found in the exoskeletons of insects and cell walls of fungi.
  • Tim Berners-Lee is the inventor of the World Wide Web.
  • Pamplemousse is the French word for grapefruit or pomelo, depending on dialect. Note that it does not actually rhyme with Betelgeuse for most pronunciations, only when pronounced like Beetlejuice does this line's final syllable rhyme.
  • It could be debated whether these are three children, and thus not Cueball and Ponytail, who are adult, but there is nothing to compare them to, and Jill has also been drawn as an adult. So, for ease of naming them, it is easier to keep the names even if these are children.


[Jill, Ponytail and Cueball are jumping rope while singing a common playground song. Jill and Cueball are swinging the ends of the rope, Ponytail is jumping in the middle facing Cueball on the right. The rope is going so fast around her that it is drawn with four thin gray lines, one over and one below her and two in between, so they form a kind of 3D ellipsoid shape around her. Small lines indicate the movement of the rope and the hands that hold it.]
Jill: Girls go to college to get more knowledge
Jill: Boys go to Jupiter to get more stupider
[Same scene but Ponytail is at a different moment in her jumping.]
Cueball: Girls go to Ceres to get more theories
Cueball: Boys go to Mars to get more jars
[Same scene but Ponytail is at a different moment in her jumping.]
Ponytail: Girls go to Eris to get more ferrous
Ponytail: Boys go to Triton to get more chitin
[The three have stopped playing so the rope is hanging from the hands of Jill and Cueball, running along the ground beneath Ponytail's feet. She is now just standing but has turned towards Jill.]
Jill: Girls go to...Mercury...to...meet Tim Berners-Lee
Jill: Boys go to... ...Betelgeuse...to get more... ...pamplemousse
Cueball: I think we're done.

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Did anyone else learn today that "chitin" rhymes with Triton? (I've always pronounced it chitten, like a chewy kitten, but apparently it's kai-ten!) College Knowledge? More like webcomic knowledge! Mathmannix (talk) 10:51, 4 May 2023 (UTC)

Well, if you pronounce it "Tritin", it rhymes. Yorkshire Pudding (talk) 18:14, 4 May 2023 (UTC)
I'm not sure that's correct, when I read this comic my head just used the "chewy kitten" pronunciation, and pronounced Triton shortly, like Tritin. NiceGuy1 (talk) 04:22, 6 May 2023 (UTC)
Trit'n, rather, I'd say. Yup. Not being English-speak-native, the chronicles tell often on how I learned the language by reading - fantastic vocabulary, spelling, and grammar, rather messy pronunciation. Nowadays, I am working my way through Koyne Greek with the same method. Having learned my lesson (dubious - discuss), I strove to learn pronunciation from modern sources, that indicate that what they found regarding funny pronunciation for otherwise clear written text, they did by studying rhymes of the corresponding period. Much fun to be had 17:28, 7 May 2023 (UTC)
why are you chewing kittens Whydidimakethis (talk) 19:07, 9 May 2023 (UTC)

Rather than giving up because "their justifications for each visit become increasingly tenuous," I read the comic as indicating greater and greater complexity in scansion, which leads to increased difficulty in jumping rope, so the point where Ponytail is no longer able to meet the physical challenge, hence her giving up. I do feel like I'm missing something as to the ellipses and the meter in the 4th panel, though. JohnHawkinson (talk) 12:36, 4 May 2023 (UTC)

I think the ellipses are the chanter pausing to think of another heavenly body and what to rhyme it with. But usually the chants are already established and everyone says them in unison -- it's hard to do extemporaneous patter in unison. Barmar (talk) 13:38, 4 May 2023 (UTC)
One thing that bugs me about this site, seeing uncertainty in the weirdest most inappropriate places, LOL! Sorry, there is no question, the final panel is simply that they're struggling to keep rhyming using this scheme, that's it. That's what the ellipsis indicates, delays while reaching for a word. NOTHING about physical difficulty. Note that they AREN'T chanting together, they're going one at a time. NiceGuy1 (talk) 04:22, 6 May 2023 (UTC)
Betelgeuse only rhymes with Pamplemousse if you mispronounce both ... 13:41, 4 May 2023 (UTC)
You only have to mispronounce one, but you have to mispronounce it very badly. 15:04, 4 May 2023 (UTC)
Theoretically, anything could rhyme with anything else if you mispronounce one or both words sufficiently poorly... 17:02, 4 May 2023 (UTC)
Yeah...but I think final-syllable rhymes are OK, aren't they? Like, if you chanted "You drink grapefruit juice - it makes your bowels loose", that would be fine. Well, it wouldn't, but as a rhyme it would. So "-geuse" rhymed with "mousse" is fine - the "betel-" and "pample-" needn't trouble us. Yorkshire Pudding (talk) 18:10, 4 May 2023 (UTC)
-mousse pronounced in the French way (with stress on the final e) does not rhyme with any of the ways to pronounce --geuse - Either Gerse or Jooose ... 20:20, 4 May 2023 (UTC)
There isn't 'a French way' to pronounce it - sometimes it will sound like the English 'moose', sometimes with an elongated 's', sometimes with a pronounced 'e' (like 'Moussa') - all depends on the speaker, and sometimes the register, or what word happens to follow it.... 14:54, 5 May 2023 (UTC)
That is NOT the french way, I'm born, raised, and live surrounded by french and I have no idea how you even would "stress on the final 'e'", I just know that's incorrect. The second half of "pamplemousse" is just simply how we say "moose", that's it, that's the french pronunciation, don't try to complicate it. NiceGuy1 (talk) 04:22, 6 May 2023 (UTC)
You don't have to mispronounce either. ??? Last I knew, Betelgeuse is pronounced like the Tim Burton movie, Beetlejuice (maybe more "Bay-tle"). So, ending in "juice". "Pamplemousse" ends in "moose", identical to the animal. "Juice" rhymes with "moose" just fine. I mean, I've rarely heard "Bay-tel-guise", but it seems like "juice" is the correct one. It's the one Randall is using, anyway. NiceGuy1 (talk) 04:22, 6 May 2023 (UTC)

"Girls go to Mercury, to build more funiculæ; boys go to Betelgeuse, to cut down their metal use..." 12:56, 4 May 2023 (UTC)

I initially read that as "mental" and that fits with the theme, too. 13:06, 4 May 2023 (UTC)
Girls go to OGLE-2016-BLG-1850L b to... er... 14:59, 5 May 2023 (UTC)

The ellipses help to show that they're improvising the verses in real time. There are better rhymes for Mercury (e.g., "Marie Curie" instead of "Tim Berners-Lee"), but the players are finding it progressively harder to come up with them. Gmcgath (talk) 15:27, 4 May 2023 (UTC)

Neither of those names are a great rhyme, but Marie Curie is worlds worse than Tim Berners-Lee. Unless Americans tend to pronounce it "ma REE-keree" and that somehow hasn't made it across the Atlantic. The emphasis is wrong for Tim Berners-Lee too, obviously, but at least his name has the right sounds in it.Yorkshire Pudding (talk) 18:04, 4 May 2023 (UTC)
As a DC area American, I pronounce them "Mir-cure-ree" and "Muh-ree cure-ree" which rhyme pretty okay 14:36, 5 May 2023 (UTC)Bumpf
Every time I've heard it, Marie Curie's names rhyme with each other, both ending in a "REE" sound. "cury" in Mercury is "cure-y". As such, Curie and Mercury rhyme so much, it's nearly the same sound (just slightly different on the U). NiceGuy1 (talk) 04:40, 6 May 2023 (UTC)
Ah. There's the issue. Her first name is pronounced "marry" - like what you do at a wedding. Imagine someone called "Barry Fury". Her name rhymes with that. With that in mind then, try rhyming "more mercury" with "Barry Fury". Then try rhyming it with "Tim Berners-Lee".
Ummm, no? Ah, there's the issue, you think her name is pronounced as Mary. No, look at the french spelling - I think she WAS french, wasn't she? At the very least that her name is indeed having a french connection and pronunciation, in line with her last name. And the dozens of people I've heard pronounce it always use the french pronunciation, to rhyme with her last name. :) NiceGuy1 (talk) 04:31, 27 May 2023 (UTC)
"I think she was french, wasn't she?" - Naturalised/by marriage. Originally from Poland, neé Maria ("MAR-Ya"?) Skłodowska ("..." nope, not gonna attempt that), moved to France in her 20s and later married Pierre Curie. Not sure if she francophoned her first name herself or if it was thrust upon her by society/those who never met her and just assumed she was French. She used both her surnames, in her married/professional life, continued to be proud of being and speaking Polish, called her first element "Polonium".
But even her Polish forename doesn't match (most Anglophonic versions of) the planet, to any useful degree, so this info doesn't resolve much about the assonance either! 10:09, 27 May 2023 (UTC)
"MERcury" is a better rhyme for "Berners-LEE", despite the syllable emphasis problem, than it is for "rie CURie". Rhythmically, "Berners-Lee" copes with being distorted into first-syllable emphasis ("BERners-lee") better than "...rie Curie" does. Yorkshire Pudding (talk) 23:38, 8 May 2023 (UTC)
Now, I sort of tend to go for "Tim BERNers-Lee", as it happens. (In fact, imagine a placename of "Burnesleigh"(/-lea/-ley). One more inserted "-ez-" half syallable there than "Burnley", "Bingley" or "Barnsley" have, in terms you might appreciate from their (near-)Yorkshireness. In fact, I'd readily rhyme those three with his name. Slight fudge of the scansion, to accomodate the "ers", perhaps some vowel-shift (most adrift being the "a" in the latter). "Girls go to Burnley to meet Tim Berners-Lee" is a stretch, still, but probably more because (half-skipped extra element aside), it's more a repetition than a rhyme. Possibly a John Cooper-Clarke sort of rhyme (to name just one afficionado of the deliberately strained counter-culture/comedic form of poetry that this might sit in).
For "Mercury", I think the biggest problem is the disconsonance of the hard C vs the softer N. And Marie Curie fits that but falls down on the syllabic count and (as you point out) the 'high-A' of "marry" being adrift from the low-U ("murk"? "Murkle"? ...rhyme it with "work, you 'ree'"?)
Though this is from the perspective of the accent that is mine (and/or that is thine, maybe not that much different, though we might certainly notice, as sure as a thee-thar can distinguish themselves from a dee-dar!), and vowel-shifts are just one element of what Randall might envisage in his head, from his actual personal Pennsylvania/Virginia upbringing and how the schoolyard voices might easily accomodate this non-universal 'rhyme'. Imagine all kinds of other accents (e.g. a Kiwi!), and various modes of assonance and dissonance might well phase in and out, etc. 12:14, 9 May 2023 (UTC)

Does the fact that Randall hates grapefruit have anything to do with the ending? Because pamplemousse can mean grapefruit 19:19, 4 May 2023 (UTC)

The rhyme my daughters came home from school with (30 years ago): "Girls go to Mars to get more bras" -- (talk) 11:39, 5 May 2023 (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

During a general edit, I momentarily undid some other edit about "jump rope" (a.k.a. "skipping" in UK parlance - I know US has its own term, not sure which/what version is most used in rest of anglophone world) whilst not yet seeing which bits I was trampling on in resolving my own Edit Conflict notice, so did a favour on reinstating that bit by adding a wikilink. ("Skipping rope", as main title, a case where Rightpondian got there first. :P ) But though the intro mentions non-solo skipping, it has far more attention paid to the solo activity, and all its variations. I'm sure there's a better link out there (anthropological study of typical playground games, maybe?) for the group activity. Might be worth a link to that, instead or alongside. Or someone could vastly improve the target wiki article and then perhaps #anchor the cooperative version in the link, but that's probably a lot more work. ;) 13:03, 5 May 2023 (UTC)

Science Girl may just be more proficient in astronomy (being true to her 'name') than extemporised poetry, causing the activity to fizzle out, but we can't really tell if this is her first (or last!) invitation to participate in the schoolyard game. (Half inclined to add this to the Explanation, but quite a lot of unknown factors, so it won't add much to be so vague.) 14:46, 5 May 2023 (UTC)

THIS IS A SEQUEL TO 1202 but i cant make the edit because i know no html :( GetPunnedOn

No HTML needed. All you need is the page title ("1202: Girls and Boys", ideally, although either the number or the words alone will redirect there) and mention it in double [[]]s, thusly ...in the situation that [[1202: Girls and Boys]] previously described.... This gives you text of: ...in the situation that 1202: Girls and Boys previously described... (But you'd use a better phrasing/context, I'm sure.)
There's more complex wikimarkups (with or without HTML tags) but that's the basic internal link format. Though I'm sure (haven't checked) 1202 has already been referenced in the main page for this comic. Someone can add it, if not, but I'm just helping you get your first step on the link-insertion road. For next time, maybe. 13:16, 15 May 2023 (UTC)

Thank you!