Sunday, May 1, 2016

Sunday morning toons: Better to lose in a landslide in Hell than to win in . . . wait, how does that go again?

John Boehner's announcement this week that Ted Cruz is Lucifer was eminently click-worthy, but it was such a fat pitch that it didn't really bring out the most imaginative in a lot of political cartoonists this week. If you simply restated the Other Orange One's point, you probably didn't make the cut this week. If you took it in a different direction, you may very well have slipped in under the wire. And if you captured the Evil One's outrage at the comparison, you might well have ended up with a p3 Certificate of Harmonic Toon Convergence. And if you found a completely different direction to take it, you most likely received the p3 Legion of Merit Award.

And almost every cartoonist has already shot their bolt on the trans-restroom issue, so you won't see much of that today.

One of my sisters (who lives in Indiana and had the two-fold horror last week of Ted Cruz mangling Hoosier basketball history alongside Bobby Knight stumping with the Short-Fingered Vulgarian) said to me on the phone last week, and you could hear the mix of exasperation and astonishment in her voice, that the upcoming primary there "has turned me into a liberal." I could only express my sympathy, as somone who was born with that affliction and has only watched it get worse over the years.

My vote-by-mail ballot arrived yesterday, and although I haven't had the chance to sit down with it and my voter's guide (and a cup of tea) yet, there's one thing I know I'll be voting for: Washington County Emergency Communications System Bond Measure 34-243. Fortunately, Washington County is trying to get ahead of the problem, which distinguishes it from San Diego, where they're already way behind the curve, as Steve Breen notes.

Today's toons were selected by a panel of unemployed former NCAA basketball coaches 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: Joel Pett.

p3 Legion of Merit: Steve Sack.

p3 Award for Best Adaptation from Another Medium: Chan Lowe.

p3 Certificate of Harmonic Toon Convergence: Jeff Danziger and Jerry Holbert.

Ann Telnaes notes another Last Time for Obama experience. (And there's an interesting rumor circulating that Obama, despite his claim that the Republican party, not Obama himself, is to blame for Trump's presence in the 2016 race, may have had some non-trivial part to play in the Slo-Mo Exploding Citrus's decision to enter the contest this time.) And while we're at it, here's a story about yet another Last Time moment this week.

Mark Fiore walks us through the math. (Although, as Booman points out, primaries have little to do with democracy and nothing to do with anyone's constitutional rights.)

Come for Tom Tomorrow's ongoing take on the Marvel Comics presidential nominee presumptive, but stay for the fiendishly clever Democratic National Committee plan to rein him in.

Keith Knight b;ah.

Reuben Bolling shows that the difference between "skeptic" and "septic" is more than just a missing letter.

Red Meat's Wally learns the limits of self-improvement.

The Comic Curmudgeon is too kind – seriously – to a genuinely creepy Archie strip.

Comic Strip of the Day meditates on the traps and triumphs of nuance.

It was on the east side of New York, where my parents resided amid humble surroundings. In belated celebration of Arbor Day, which was two days ago (the last Friday in April), p3 proudly presents Bugs Bunny in "A Hare Grows in Manhattan," another short in which he describes his formative years for an interviewer. Directed in 1947 by Friz Freleng from a story by Michael Maltese and Tedd Pierce, it features Portland's Own Mel Blanc voicing the titular hare, with Bea "Betty Rubble" Benaderet doing an uncredited turn as Lola Beverly, along with writers Maltese and Pierce as the two tough-guy dogs. I have no idea why musical director Carl Stalling, of the p3 pantheon of gods, kicked off the music for the title with a bar of "Mary Had a Little Lamb," but the segue into "The Daughter of Rosie O'Grady" previews the grown Bugs' theme as he tap-dances down the street.

The Adequately Sized Oregon Toon Block:

Ex-Oregonian Jack Ohman pays grudging respect to the Short-Fingered Vulgarian's resume.

Documented Ex-Oregonian Jen Sorensen imagines a future that's not so far away, and in its own vaguely dystopian way is not the worst thing that could happen.

Matt Bors bestows the Blind Squirrel Finding An Acorn award on the Short-Fingerred Vulgarian.

Jesse Springer trains his glasses on the Oregon primary, which is only a little over two weeks away. I imagine that it will be all over but the shouting by then, for both parties. Of course, the whole Hillary and superdelegates thing isn't that "rare," really – we went through it in 2008, the most recent contested Democratic primary and first time the Oregon primary even theoretically mattered since 1988 (when the Beaver State Democrats went for Hart).

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

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sunday evening toons: And having once turned round walks on

And turns no more his head;
Because he knows, a frightful fiend
Doth close behind him tread.
Coleridge wrote that, and Mary Shelly lifted it for the moment when Victor Frankenstein beheld his creation. We've featured a number of toons this spring that compared Trump to Frankenstein's creature, and the GOP establishment to its horrified creator. But now, as the Thunderdome that will be the GOP convention draws nearer, the party elite are realizing that, while Trump may be a dreadful nominee, there is another frightful fiend that doth tread close behind him as well. The thought that Ted Cruz would be their fallback guy if trump doesn't get the nomination doesn't seem to be making anyone but Cruz loyalists and Democratic oppo people happy. And the thought that his unfavorables are roughly the same as Clinton's and far better than Trump's doesn't seem to be providing much comfort. They still dislike the guy. Good.

Many people have used the phrase "the soundtrack of my life" to describe their sense of loss at Prince's death. I enjoyed his music, and certainly respected his creativity and the number of issues he came down on the right side of, but I just never had the connection. Different life, different times, different soundtrack. (It's why not many people want to hear what it was like to find out about John Lennon's assassination from Howard Cosell. I get it.) And I appreciate that, if Prince was your soundtrack, the pressure of deadline cartooning mixed with the difficulty of getting past the initial sense of shock and loss might not help you produce your best work. That being said, if you didn't get beyond rain that was purple or two doves that were white, you didn't make the cut today.

And congratulations to the GOP for elevating their fascination with the question of who pees where to a national issue. LGBTQ advocates couldn't have caught a luckier break from a more unsympathetic group of opponents.

Today's toons were 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 of toony goodness.

p3 Best of Show: Rob Rogers.

p3 Legion of Merit: Signe Wilkinson.

p3 "Perspective: Use It Or Lose It" Award: Darren Bell.

Ann Telnaes looks at Earth Day as a poltical football. Or beach ball. Or whatever. And as long as we're celebrating Earth Day this week, time to bring back this gem.

Mark Fiore flies the (un)friendly skies.

Delicate sensibilities! Trial by followers! Unrealized goals! Tom Tomorrow has all that, and more, including a brief yet welcome cameo by Sparky the Penguin and Chuckles the Sensible Woodchuck. And a shocking twist ending! (I had a conversation a couple of days ago with a friend who'd never watched the original Twilight Zone and, with perhaps a little nudging from me, was working her way through them. She was so excited to see "To Serve Man" for the first time – and it was such a delight listening to her explain the story. The passing of the TZ torch is a wonderful thing to see.)

Keith Knight has one word for you. Just one word. Are you listening?

Reuben Bolling presents God-Man vs Human-Man: Dawn of Justice.

Comic Strip of the Day goes on a tear: Facts cannot be "good" or "bad." In a bit of irony (I decline to call it a juxtaposition), not that long after his post I stumbled across this item from an otherwise-sensible site, which sets nearly the opposite challenge for itself: debating the facticity of something that everyone concedes up-front was made up. (Yes, it's a word. You can look it up.)

A rabbit's woik is never done! "Hare Conditioned," directed in 1945 by Chuck Jones from a story by Tedd Pierce, was the short feature before "Rocky Horror" at a campus theater back in the day, so there was a patch when I saw it every Friday night for a now-embarrassing length of time. Watch "Hare Conditioned" at eBaum's World.

The Right-Sized Oregon Toon Block:

Ex-Oregonian Jack Ohman – who as it happens just won a Pulitzer – pays tribute to Donald Trump, who as it happens is a very smart guy. Just ask him.

Documented Ex-Oregonian Jen Sorensen knows a frightful fiend when she sees one.

Matt Bors captures a feeling I've had ever since I got out of the classroom biz.

Jesse Springer asks: What have you hit when marijuana sales in the first two months of legalization doubles the projected annual revenue from the program? Well . . .

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

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Catalog held but just Ourselves / And Immortality

Here's a bit of news from last fall that I'm only now getting around to processing:

It’s been a long time since most libraries were filled with card catalogs — drawers upon drawers of paper cards with information about books. But now, the final toll of the old-fashioned reference system’s death knell has rung for good: The library cooperative that printed and provided catalog cards has officially called it quits on the old-fashioned technology.

The news comes via the The Online Computer Library Center (OCLC). The cooperative, which created the world’s first shared, online catalog system back in 1971, allowed libraries to order custom-printed cards that could then be put in their own analog cataloging systems. Now, says OCLC, it’s time to lay a “largely symbolic” system that’s well past its prime to rest.

When I was in graduate school at Penn State, there was a professor in our department who, so I was told, would sometimes lead his advisees over to Pattee Library and pull out the appropriate catalog drawer,  pointing to all the cards with his name on it (and the number was, indeed, nothing to sneeze at). That, he told his students, was immortality.

He was also fond of reminding his students of the academic injunction "publish or perish," although he took perverse pleasure in pointing out to them it was possible to do both. Perhaps he was right; the professor himself died over ten years ago but the list of his books on Amazon runs to a couple of pages, although most appear to out of print now.

I remember the pleasant shock I found when I discovered my own doctoral dissertation in the card catalog at my undergraduate alma mater.

I also remember the guilty pleasure of searching online catalogs from universities and the Library of Congress in the pre-Web days, seeking that buzz you got when you saw your name on the screen – even if it was only a CRT monitor (which could in part explain the buzz).  "Ego-surfing," it was called, and perhaps it still is. The practice has moved on beyond the simple digital equivalent of looking for one's picture on the cover of the Rolling Stone to more sophisticated questions of online image and reputation management, and even – oddly enough – privacy. I remember finding out about that one the hard way, when a colleague pointed out to me that one of my publishers, linked to on my first-ever web site, had changed its online address and the old address now redirected to a porn site. Of course, social media has made most users' names so omnipresent in their own online sensorium there's less shock in seeing one's name than in not seeing it.

Didn't Oscar Wilde say something along those lines once?

Speaking of slightly less-guilty pleasures, when I go to university libraries or large book stores like Powell's, I often enter my name into a few of the workstations for their book catalog system -- and just walk away, leaving it there on the screen. I enjoy imagining the moment at the regular meeting where they make decisions about acquisitions when someone will look around the table with a puzzled expression and say, "I can't really put my finger on why, but does anyone else think that we should be stocking more books from someone named Nothstine?"  I like to think of it as subliminal marketing, but much more direct than airbrushed nudes in pictures of ice cubes.

One interesting sidelight of the Smithsonian article is the importance that the traditional – I suppose we'd call it "analog?" – card catalog system placed upon clear penmanship, such that it was for a long time one of the major skills sought when hiring librarians. Now both clear handwriting (even block lettering, to say nothing of cursive) are going the way of the dodo. Out-evolved by a doodad you can also use to play Angry Birds and share photographs of your lunch. Same with alphabetizing, a skill that was drummed into me in grade school and which – I discovered to my surprise when I took an exam to be a census-taker in 2010 – either most people had forgotten or were never taught.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Sunday morning toons: Does that Big Dog hunt anymore?

(Update:  The missing link to Comic Strip of the Day has been found.)

Although there's certainly some truth to Rob Rogers' Hillary/Bill cartoon, the ugly legacy of Bill's 1994 crime bill is (for better or worse) something that might possibly get chased off the screen by the next shiny object of the Democratic presidential primary (such being the state of American political awareness in the 21st century). 

But Bill's ongoing real-time capacity for saying the worst possible thing at the worst possible moment reminds us all of Hillary's ability to pick some of the worst campaign spokespersons imaginable. Memo to the Big Dog: The triangulation strategy behind the original Sister Souljah moment hit its sell-by date two decades ago. Pierce is right: Bill's lost his game.

On another Clinton-related note: Toons depicting Hillary sprinting ahead of or standing in front of a line of FBI agents have been going on for over a month. If that was your entry today, you didn't make the cut.

Today's toons were selected via a sucker-punch fight in the audience 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: Joel Pett.

p3 Legion of Merit: Ted Rall.

p3 Award for Best Adaptation from Another Medium: Jeff Stahler, Matt Wuerker, Taylor Jones, and R. J. Matson.

p3 Certificate of Harmonic Toon Convergence: Chip Bok and R. J. Matson.

Ann Telnaes looks at Hillary's biggest liability – and how to fix it.

Mark Fiore appreciates the joke of Paul Ryan as the White Knight. Or as the serious sensible guy. Or as the moderate.

Tom Tomorrow's Sparky the Penguin and Chuckles the Sensible Woodchuck find something they can agree on about Campaign 2016.

Keith Knight has all the luck – moves from California to the First In Flight state just in time for this.

Red Meat's Old Cowboy has a real mess on his hands. And whatever you're expecting, it's not.

Comic Strip of the Day talks about childhood dreams and grownup failures of imagination. Totally got this one; I remember my parents standing me out by the barn one chilly October and helping me spot Sputnik as it slowly crossed overhead ("There! No, not that one – it's moving, see it? There!"). And there was listening to the Mercury launches on a radio the teacher brought into class for the day, and . . .

And brother, when it disintegrates, it disintegrates! Cycling home late last night, I saw Mars shining brightly in the clear southern sky. Here's an oldie but goodie prompted by that sight. "Duck Dodgers in the 24 1/2th Century," produced in 1952 and released the following summer, finished at #4 on the list of the 50 greatest cartoons of all time, and – I did not know this until now – was awarded a post-mortem Hugo Award in 2004. It only indirectly involves Mars, but it did involve the third golden-age appearance of Marvin the Martian, in his only encounter with Daffy Duck; the others were with Bugs Bunny. (And, as I've pointed out before, it was Chief Michael Garibaldi's second-favorite thing in the universe.) Watch "Duck Dodgers in the 24 1/2th Century" on Daily Motion.

The Pretty Well-Sized Oregon Toon Block:

Ex-Oregonian Jack Ohman celebrates progress. Sort of.

Documented Ex-Oregonian Jen Sorensen exposes the outrage represented by foreign shell companies helping citizens and corporations hide ungodly amounts of money from tax liability.

Jesse Springer points out one of the worst reasons – in my opinion, not his – for think a policy is a bad one.

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

Friday, April 15, 2016

Gun safety versus safety through guns: A literary perspective

The story of Little Red Riding Hood, according to this NPR piece from a few years ago, first made its appearance in a French collection of children's stories in 1697. Since then it's been told and retold, worked and reworked, depending on the point of the storyteller, and invariably blood gets spilled – Red's, or the grandmother's, or the wolf's, often all three.

Until now.

Somewhat unexpectedly, the National Rifle Association made its entry into this literary tradition earlier this year with "Little Red Riding Hood (Has a Gun)," the first of two repurposing of classic stories for children (the other being "Hansel and Gretle (Have a Gun)" written by Amelia Harrison in collaboratioin with the NRA. In these two stories, disaster is averted and violence prevented by the presence of a gun in the hands of someone trained to use it safely (in the grandmother's case, it's a shotgun).

So, a couple of things. Three, really.

First, if the NRA really cared about safe hunting and gun handling they'd have stuck with gun safety training and not become the lobby of gun manufacturers and the front for a hysterical reading of the Second Amendment. I took their safe hunter training when I was a Boy Scout. How safe was it? Twice during the course, we were ordered to put our rifles down while the instructors chased away deer who had begun calmly grazing directly behind the targets.

Second, it's not so much that the NRA is preaching gun safety with these stories, it's that they're perpetuating the perception that guns should be everywhere and we'd be safer (and, some also suggest, more polite) if they were. (Presumably, that's not counting homes with domestic violence, of course, or homes with someone having suicidal thoughs, or most of the state of Florida.)

Third, sorry to the author Hamilton and her partners at the NRA, but this theme was handled – and handled better – almost 80 years ago, by James Thurber as one of his Fables for Our Times:

The Little Girl and the Wolf

One afternoon a big wolf waited in a dark forest for a little girl to come along carrying a basket of food to her grandmother. Finally a little girl did come along and she was carrying a basket of food. "Are you carrying that basket to your grandmother?" asked the wolf. The little girl said yes, she was. So the wolf asked her where her grandmother lived and the little girl told him and he disappeared into the wood. When the little girl opened the door of her grandmother's house she saw that there was somebody in bed with a nightcap and nightgown on. She had approached no nearer than twenty-five feet from the bed when she saw that it was not her grandmother but the wolf, for even in a nightcap a wolf does not look any more like your grandmother than the Metro-Goldwyn lion looks like Calvin Coolidge. So the little girl took an automatic out of her basket and shot the wolf dead.

(Moral: It is not so easy to fool little girls nowadays as it used to be.)

I can't resist noting that the NPR commentator linked to above describes Thurber's story as displaying "a more feminist bent," making me suspect either that he has a limited familiarity with Thurber's work (which is characterized by a lot of what I'd call casual misogyny, such as these, especially "man and house;" note also the recurring theme of the woman with a gun), or that he has limited familiarity with feminism (or is willing to pretend same to get a laugh).

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Sunday evening toons: Looking for the next Sun City

Here's the thing about third-world crap holes. They always have to have a resort getaway, someplace where the elites can stay in a Hilton, maybe go to a casino, do business in American dollars, and at least put some psychic distance between themselves and the naked oppression that the whole system rides on. So, Mississippi, North Carolina, Indiana, and Georgia – consider this a pro-tip:

And yes, North Carolina, that is in fact a younger version of the Boss in that video, which makes us wonder why you're all surprised and indignant this week.

On other topics, there's the Panama Papers (where I'm inclined to cut Jackie Chan a tiny bit of slack because at least he was willing to break his own bones making that money he stashed off-shore), and the increasing smack talk between the Democratic presidential candidates as well as their supporters (remember only a few months ago, when the level of discourse was one way that Democrats self-righteously differentiated themselves from Republicans in the 2016 campaign?).

Meanwhile, today's toons were 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 of toony goodness.

p3 Best of Show: Clay Jones.

p3 Legion of Merit: Stuart Carlson.

And initiating the p3 Before and After Award: Steve Sack and Chan Lowe.

A Jeff Danziger twofer: Part one, and Part two.

Ann Telnaes marks the love affair between Cruz and the Empire State.

Mark Fiore offers some tips on the best places to hide your money.

Tom Tomorrow shows why "belted with gamma rays" and "having the nuclear launch codes" just never make a good combination.

Keith Knight shares the best story he heard in Germany. (Spoiler: twenty-seven!)

Reuben Bolling interrupts this post for an apologetic press conference. Special agents Scully and Mulder, please pick up the white courtesy phone. Scully and Mulder, the white courtesy phone please.

Red Meat's Ted Johnson re-evaluates his Monday morning plans.

The Comic Strip Curmudgeon watches in horror as Beetle Bailey enters the unspeakable zone. By all means, follow the link!

Comic Strip of the Day shares information that, as a lapsed Protestant, I had no clue what to do with. But really – and I'm only asked as an LP, and there's not much lower than that – is really it theologically better to let the body of Jesus dissolve into mush than to bite into it? This is a puzzle.

I decided I'd better hop out there! And with that, Daffy Duck, cashing in on the Spade-Marlowe popularity of the trench-coated private eye, gets on the case in "The Super Snooper," directed by Robert McKimson in 1952. Puns and sight gags abound – including one that Mel Brooks would lift without shame twenty-two years later – which is a little unusual for a McKimson cartoon, but it's fun all the same. (Uncredited: Marian Richman as the femme possible fatale, and Grace Lenard as pretty much all the other non-Mel Blanc voices.) Watch "The Super Snooper" at DailyMotion.

The Totally Serious Oregon Toon Block:

Ex-Oregonian Jack Ohman poses the question: Is subway riding in the New York primary the equivalent of ethanol subsidies in the Iowa caucuses – i.e. the do-or-die local issue that the rest of the nation couldn't possibly care less about?

Documented Ex-Oregonian Jen Sorensen is just having some fun this week. (I bet that won't include opening her mail from thin-skinned readers.)

I'll vote for Hillary if the time comes, as it probably will, but I have to admit I got a laugh out of this one by Matt Bors.

Jesse Springer has good news for Oregon salmon:

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

Friday, April 8, 2016

Quote of the day: My enemies I do not fear, but my friends I fear greatly

Please, God, save the old charter from its friends.

Charlie Pierce, reflecting on the danger posed by many of those who claim to love the Constitution most. Come for the Mercy Otis Warren and Pete Townshend; stay for the Tailgunner and the pencil-necked Tory who occasionally writes about baseball to prove he's really a man of the people.

And Pierce didn't even have time to get around to this retrograde asshat.

Or this one.

(Title quote shamelessly lifted from vintage John le Carré.)