Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sunday morning toons: Looks like they picked the wrong week to be a kid on an armed border

But then, I suppose there are never any good weeks for that, are there?

Also, it was a bad week to be traveling by air. But on the up side, looks like the House Republican plan to further avoid doing their jobs by suing Obama for his dictatorial behavior will have to wait until after everyone goes on vacation because, you know, priorities. Also, for conservatives, the long game of packing the federal courts with conservative judges, begun in earnest during the Reagan years, was bearing fruit in the DC Court this week.

I have to say, I wasn't really looking forward to the Disney re-launch of the Star Wars franchise next year anyway, and if I have to contend with the drip, drip, drip of leaked stories and production shots – Look! You can see the back of Mark Hamill's head, right there! – on a regular basis between now and December, 2015, I'm going to be even less interested. "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice," and "Avengers: Age of Ultron," I'm look at you, too. (Look! Here's a moodily-lit photo of part of Batman's costume!). The comic-book blockbuster films are doing that a lot right now too, because of ComicCon 2014, an event from which the studios are generally sucking most of the oxygen. I think Comic Strip of the Day nicely captured my own feelings about CC: It would be nice to be able to say I'd been to one, but it's no longer the kind of thing I'd want to go anywhere near. And at least there's the fun of The Onion providing the definitive take on the steady, measured, and cynical leaking of crumb after crumb of behind-the-scenes manufactured "news" on upcoming blockbusters of inevitability.

Today's toons were selected in a very hands-on process by director Michael Bay from the week's offerings at McClatchy DC, Cartoon Movement, Go Comics, Politico's Cartoon Gallery, Daryl Cagle's Political Cartoons,, and other fine sources of toony goodness.

p3 Best of Show: Pat Oliphant.

p3 Legion of Merit Award: Marshall Ramsey.

p3 Certificate of Harmonic Toon Convergence: Scott Stantis, John Darkow, and Mike Lester.

p3 Aviator Wings: Mike Luckovich.

p3 "One Is a Tragedy, But 57,000 Is a Statistic" Medal: Joel Pett.

p3 World Toon Review: Patrick Chappatte (Switzerland), Paresh Nath (India), and Petar Pismestrovic (Austria).

Ann Telnaes hears the jingle of spurs somewhere near the Texas/Mexico border. Do not forsake me, oh my darling!

Mark Fiore wonders: If the glasses didn't make him any smarter, will deploying the National Guard make him any tougher?

Tom Tomorrow finds that outrage is a delicately balanced thing.

Keith Knight reviews Great Chokes in New York History.

Tom the Dancing Bug brings the return of Super-Fun-Pak Comix, including the further adventures of Percival Dunwoody, Idiot Time Traveler from 1909.

It's Red Meat's Karen and Milkman Dan as you've never seen them before!

The Comic Strip Curmudgeon has both a Moral and a Motto. Not bad.

Comic Strip of the Day considers, among several other things, the problem of dog-years.

He's my super-duper dream man! Yesterday, Portland's Northwest Film Center screened all 17 of the classic 1940s theatrical Superman shorts. Nine of these (generally the better ones, I think) were done by Fleischer Studios before they were bought out by Famous Studios, where the remaining eight were done (albeit with mostly the same artists). As a tribute to NWFC bringing these beautiful works back to the big screen, if only for a day, here's "She-Sick Sailors," in which Bluto impersonates the Man of Steel (although, as you'll see, the "S" on his costume inexplicably disappears early on) in order to cut Popeye out of the running with fan-girl Olive. Directed in 1944 by Seymour Kneitel from a story by Bill Turner and Otto Messmer, "She-Sick Sailors" covers some familiar ground – when will Olive learn to make sure all her windows and doors are closed before she has an argument with Popeye? But it also has a couple of moments that struck your humble narrator as pretty damned dark when he was a kid. Uncredited voice work: Jack Mercer as Popeye, Jackson Beck as Bluto, and Mae Questel as The Slender One. Sammy Timberg, uncredited musical director, worked in a couple of bars of the Superman theme (which he also composed) when the comic book Superman rescues the train, and again, briefly, when Bluto delivers the "Superman to the rescue" line. Timberg also plugs in a musical cue I have never understood: After Popeye has been shot point-blank with a tommy gun (spoiler!), we hear a bit of Chopin's "Funeral March," followed by . . . a few measures of "Love in Bloom," a 1934 ballad mainly associated with Bing Crosby (another Paramount star) or Jack Benny, but certainly not with one-sided shoot-outs. What's it doing here? It's a puzzle.

Update: When I listened to the soundtrack again last night (here at p3, we do it all for you, dear readers) I noticed for the first time five notes – right before Popeye's line "Hey! You ain't proved nothin' yet!" – that could be the beginning of "Love in Bloom," meaning its first appearance is as the love theme of Olive and "Superman," and the second an ironic joke on Olive, since "Superman" has become less dreamy and Popeye narrowly missed being massacred despite Olive's change of heart. Hm.

The Big, And Getting Bigger Since We Cheated and Welcomed Back The Departed, Oregon Toon Block:

Ex-Oregonian Jack Ohman considers the limitations of the "black box" – or in this case, the yellow one.

Possibly Ex-Oregonian Jen Sorensen has good news for nation-states with territorial problems: Help is just a free phone call away!

Matt Bors reveals what can happen when closely-held corporations begin to dabble.

Will Jesse Springer ever find contentment with Oregon's healthcare delivery system? The odds don't look very good.

Test your toon captioning superpowers at The New Yorker's weekly caption-the-cartoon contest. (Rules here.) And you can browse The New Yorker's cartoon gallery here.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A quantum of umbrage: What are you, cracked?

In the beginning, there was Ken Ham of the creationist shop Answers in Genesis, also head of the Creation Museum in northern Kentucky. He was an anti-science loon, but no one outside of his little fundamentalist niche had any idea who he was. And it was good.

Then Bill Nye unwisely agreed to <airquotes>debate</airquotes> Ham, an otherwise-pointless exercise in which Nye's credentials and name recognition gave Ham the PR boost he needed to attract attention with silliness like this.

And last week, when Ham should have been whiling away his time doing the daily crossword in pencil and waiting for the phone to ring, he uncorked this bit of wisdom.
On Sunday, Ken Ham, president and founder of the creationist organization Answers in Genesis (best known for debating Bill Nye), wrote a blog post calling for the end of the U.S. space program.

Why? Well, according to Ham, who also runs the Creation Museum in Kentucky, there’s no point in spending money on finding extraterrestrial life for a couple of reasons: First, the search is a deliberate rebuking of God, and second because aliens are already damned to hell.

“I’m shocked at the countless hundreds of millions of dollars that have been spent over the years in the desperate and fruitless search for extraterrestrial life,” Ham wrote.

“Of course, secularists are desperate to find life in outer space, as they believe that would provide evidence that life can evolve in different locations and given the supposed right conditions!” Ham continued later in the post.
Apart from the fact that it's not very many degrees of separation from this argument back to the one that the church used to condemn Galileo when he got crossways with them, at least we can take comfort from the fact that no one in any authoritative position today will bother to get themselves tied up in the question of whether or not extraterrestrials have souls as Christians understand the notion. Right?

Sigh. Apparently not:
Pope Francis has said that he would be willing to baptise aliens if they came to the Vatican, asking “who are we to close doors” to anyone - even Martians.

In a homily yesterday dedicated to the concepts of acceptance and inclusion, Francis recalled a Bible story about the conversion of the first pagans to Christianity, according to reports on Vatican Radio.

He said Catholicism was a church of “open doors”, and that it was up to Christians to accept the Holy Spirit however “unthinkable” and “unimaginable” it appeared.

Describing how, according to the Bible, Peter was criticised by the Christians of Jerusalem for making contact with a community of “unclean” pagans, Francis said that at the time that too was “unthinkable”.

“If, for example, tomorrow an expedition of Martians came to us here and one said ‘I want to be baptised!’, what would happen?”

Clarifying that he really was talking about aliens, the Pope said: “Martians, right? Green, with long noses and big ears, like in children’s drawings.”
Well, as long as the "unthinkable" and "unimaginable" aren't extended to include ordaining women, I suppose it's okay.

Actually, many people think it's more likely to be Zeta Reticulans than Martians when the aliens come, although I'm sure for many Christian Americans it doesn't matter as long as they're not Guatemalans, Nicaraguans, or El Salvadoreans.

But I'd like to imagine that all of this fooforaw about whether aliens have a soul would display at least the Scholastic dignity once given to debating how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. But it doesn't even clear that bar, first of all because of all the other things to which many of these folks are eager to ascribe souls – and religious rights under the Constitution.

But mainly because it all feels just too much like this:
Vern: Do you think Mighty Mouse could beat up Superman?

Teddy: What are you, cracked?

Vern: Why not? I saw the other day. He was carrying five elephants in one hand!

Teddy: Boy, you don't know nothing! Mighty Mouse is a cartoon. Superman's a real guy. There's no way a cartoon could beat up a real guy.
Which actually, come to think about it, sounds a lot like Ken Ham debating Bill Nye.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Quote of the day: The electric Kool-Aid corn-dog test

I'm a week late getting to this, so Brother Pierce gets a compensatory two-fer.

First, on the uselessness – nay, counterproductivity – of continuing to indulge Iowa in its fantasies of self-importance in our presidential election system:
There are a couple of hundred reasons why it is stupid to give the Iowa caucuses the pride of place in our presidential nominating pageant that they has come to enjoy. These run from embarrassing corn-dog photos, to the even dumber Iowa Straw Poll, which now may be mercifully chloroformed so that the elderly white folks on the buses can go to the Indian casinos where they belong, to the fact that occasionally we don't even know who won the damn things until long after it has ceased to matter.

But the primary reason for this is that the Iowa Republican party is Jesus-mad and bugfck insane
And, as proof of the above, witness the governor of Iowa, currently seeking easy re-election, who still felt compelled to hump the leg of his whackjob base by announcing his new-found conviction that the Prime Mover and All Father, who is not mentioned in the Constitution, nevertheless oversaw its establishment.
Put simply, public officials should not be doing this. They should not be participating under the color of their office in religious activities, no matter how allegedly "nonpartisan" or "nondenominational" those events are. They should keep how and when and to whom they pray to themselves. They should self-censor on this issue, and they should tell their constituents honestly why they are doing so. They certainly shouldn't have to trot their personal religious beliefs out for public display on public property just so they can get themselves re-elected again.

That's the bubble culture in which the Hobby Lobby decision makes sense

Monday, July 21, 2014

Quote of the Day: You go to war against the culture you've got

Culture War, which is what rightbloggers have instead of culture.
- Roy Edroso at Alicublog, nicely capturing the ongoing struggle by conservatives to "take back the culture."

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sunday morning toons: You have to look hard to find the good in this bad news week

Malaysian Air flight MH 17 was blown out of the sky by a surface-to-air missile over the eastern Ukraine and, as Josh Marshall at TPM points out, you can decide whether you find more comfort in the possibility that whoever did it knew what they were doing, or didn't know what they were doing.

Tens of thousands of children from three Central American countries where the US went to a lot of trouble in the Reagan era to destabilize governments we didn't like are now at our borders. They're fleeing violence at home. We can only hope they don't get shot by anti-immigration whackjobs now that they're here.

And Hamas, having very few options at its disposal, has succeeded in picking the worst: Starting another bloody fight with Israel in which Israel will cheerfully outgun them.

Today's toons were carefully selected from the week's offerings at McClatchy DC, Cartoon Movement, Go Comics, Politico's Cartoon Gallery, Daryl Cagle's Political Cartoons,, and other fine sources..

p3 Best of Show: Darrin Bell.

p3 Legion of Merit: Martin Kolzowski.

p3 Award for Best Adaptation from Another Medium (tie): Mike Luckovich and Steve Breen.

p3 Notice Served for the Most Despicable Cartoon of the Week: Glenn McCoy. Okay, we get it: You don't like Obama, and you don't like illegal immigrants – especially of the brown variety. But this is beyond the pale.

p3 World Toon Review: Kevin Kallaugher (England) and Paresh Nath (India).

Ann Telnaes reminds us, male legislators and jurists work from sun to sun, but a woman's work is never done.

Mark Fiore imagines what it would be like if Neanderthals could decide our response to global climate change. But we don't have to imagine, do we?

In an alternate-reality Riverdale, Archie took one for the team this week, and rightwing commentators haven't been this outraged since Peter Parker was killed off and replaced by a half-black, half-latino Spider-Man a couple of years ago.

Judge Lalo Alcaraz by the fee-discounted enemies he makes. File this one under It Would Be Funny If It Weren't So Sad.

Tom Tomorrow reads us a bedtime story. I particularly like the Jiminy Crickitization of Michael Kinsley. Very fitting.

Keith Knight says: Lie back and think of Germany.

Tom the Dancing Bug takes it to the logical next level.

Red Meat's Ted Johnson and his wife share some pillow talk.

The Comic Strip Curmudgeon is following Dick Tracy through a time-travel crossover story arc. Weird.

Comic Strip of the Day looks at scams and delusions.

Here I come to save the day! Mighty Mouse (originally named Super Mouse) was created in 1942 by the Terrytoons studio for 20th Century Fox to cash in on the popularity of you-know-who. When his theatrical cartoons (eventually there were 80 of them) were collected for Saturday morning as the Might Mouse Playhouse in 1955, introducing a generation of kids to the idea of light opera in the process, the show had this intro (which more people today probably associate with Andy Kaufman than the flying rodent):

"Wolf! Wolf" was directed in 1944 by Mannie Davis from a story by John Foster, with Tom Morrison voicing Mighty Mouse, studio head Paul Terry as the narrator, and music by Philip A. Scheib (all uncredited).

The Big, And Getting Bigger Since We Bent the Rules Big-Time and Welcomed Back The Departed, Oregon Toon Block:

Ex-Oregonian Jack Ohman looks at the status of middle eastern peace talks.

Possibly Ex-Oregonian Jen Sorensen reveals the evil force standing between you and cheaper garden gnomes!

It's a Matt Bors twofer! Matt wonders what we'll watch now that the World Cup is over, and shares the joy when parents get the blessed news.

Jesse Springer notes the Violence Policy Center's recent report that Oregon was one of 14 states where gun deaths outpaced motor vehicle deaths in 2011.

Test your toon captioning kung fu at The New Yorker's weekly caption-the-cartoon contest. (Rules here.) And you can browse The New Yorker's cartoon gallery here.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Saturday afternoon toons: Homophones and other matters

I've been having fun watching "Weird Al" Yankovic's eight new videos in eight days campaign for his new album. And I like this one (including the wonderful two-second shot at Alanis Morrisette) a lot. Words and music by the Wieird One, animation by Jarrett Heather.

But this song, by Tom Lehrer of the p3 pantheon of gods, remains the definitive grammar song. It's from the old Children's Television Workshop series The Electric Company, which boasted regulars like Morgan Freeman and Rita Moreno. And it's in klezmer style. Take that, Weird Al.