Tuesday, November 24, 2015

QOTD: Place on ground, light fuse, run away

Carson loves to complain about "political correctness" preventing him from talking about slavery and Nazism, though as has been noted, he talks about them unhesitatingly all the time, but what's really wrong with what he does is the cowardly way he does it, throwing those scary words out into the discourse and then just leaving them there, refusing responsibility.

- Yastreblyansky, on GOP how presidential hopeful Ben Carson prefers to handle the blowback from some of his more incendiary claims.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Sunday morning toons: Overdone Thansgiving fare

If you couldn't come up with a way to point out the shame of the US's current spate of anti-refugee animus that didn't involve the torch of the Statue of Liberty, the Emma Lazarus poem on her base, or the myth of the First Thanksgiving, you might have made the cut this morning, but the odds weren't in your favor. But I was willing at least to consider quotes from Delacroix's "Liberty Leading the People" because underneath this hardened and cynical exterior I'm a softie at heart. And besides, like Peter Venkman, I have this indecent attraction to hottie 19th-Century French embodiments of liberty and democracy. I don't apologize.

And there were several toons that employed the refugee toddler in the red shirt and blue shorts washed up on the shore several weeks ago, but that whole angle was just too specific and too ghastly for me. Sue me.

And if you only like France again because they want to bomb the crap out of people in the Middle East you don't like again, you faced slim odds on that too. In fact, I liked Daryl Cagle's piece, below, precisely because I couldn't tell which side it was taking.

But if you're more worried about the 3000 innocent Americans killed by terrorists since 2001 (or about your re-election chances) than the far higher number of American children who've killed someone or been killed under our ridiculous gun regime, then God, Jed, I don't even want to know you.

And I only found one cartoon on the touchy subject of Charlie Sheen's HIV status, and it wasn't dismissive enough of the self-replicating train wreck he's become or the fact that he got time on The Today Show to parade it as his virtue in standing up to blackmail, so I'm afraid I let it pass. He has had his moments, but few of them are recent and there are times when I think he should have retreated into obscurity after Ferris Buehler.

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, About.com, and other fine sources of toony goodness.

p3 Best of Show: Tim Eagan.

p3 Award for Best Adaptation From Another Medium (tie): Clay Jones, Mike Keefe, and Jack Ohman.

p3 Legion of Merit (with Citation for Waterboarding the Cat): Jeff Danziger.

p3 Croix de Guerre: Ted Rall.

p3 Certificate of Harmonic Toon Convergence: Gary Varvel and Glenn McCoy.

p3 World Toon Review: Patrick Chappatte (Switzerland), Giaccomo Cardelli (Italy), and Konstantino Tsanakis (Greece),

Mark Fiore points out (again) what should have been obvious (long ago): Terrorism depends, reliably, on the West – and especially the US, I'm sorry to say – to react like a drunk in a bar at 11:30pm on a Friday whose drink got sloshed when he was bumped by a stranger. But the correct response – or at least part of it – will never happen: Putting pressure on our partners in peace.

Tom Tomorrow gets to the satiric nubbin in panel five, but then it takes an ugly turn back toward reality in panel six.

Keith Knight is obviously tired of letting transitory fluff obscure the real issues.

Reuben Bolling presents, among other things, the continuing adventures of Percival Dunwoody, Idiot Time Traveler from 1909 – except this time there are more idiotic time travelers in play.

Red Meat's Bug-Eyed Earl resists a temptation, but not as awful a temptation as you might have expected.

The Comic Strip Curmudgeon notes the continuity problems of legacy strip madness. For the record, Blondie Boopadoop was a flapper of the Betty Boop era who improbably married Dagwood Bumstead, the son of a wealthy tycoon who thereupon cut his fly-haired son off without a penny, 

Comic Strip of the Day takes the day off from political cartooning. The results take a sharp turn toward pets and dessert pastries.

A thunder of jets in the open sky: This week marked the 56th anniversary of the Rocky and Bullwinkle franchise in 1959. Known for its great writing, surprising political satire, shameless puns, infinite bumpers, and dreadful animation, R&B was that generation's gold standard for Marketed to Children/Written for Adults television humor. Here's the story of Bullwinkle inadvertantly inventing rocket fuel from a family fudge cake recipe, the secret origins of Peabody and Sherman, and the story of Rapunzel like you've never heard it before.

The Modest Oregon Toon Block:

Ex-Oregonian Jack Ohman polls the donor base.

Allegedly Ex-Oregonian Jen Sorensen provides a handy guide to distinguish Us from Them.

Matt Bors watches as France once more endears itself to good Americans, and Americans endear themselves to . . . well, go ahead and guess.

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.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Sunday morning toons: Yooge and Obviously Very Classy

If your cartoon used "political correctness" as a term of opprobrium, you have been played by the right and you didn't make the cut today (even if you're a cartoonist whose work we've been happy to feature before – you know who you are).

If you really think that throwaway coffee cups are an important part of the national conversation on anything except throwaway coffee cups, you missed the cut by a country mile. (If, on the other hand, you get the irony of complaining about that in the first place, you may very well have gotten one of the coveted p3 golden tickets today.)

If you regard the ISIS terror attacks in Paris on Friday as a great opportunity for the US (at least those parts of it that don't contain your friends and family) to get its war on, you didn't make the cut. At least in the old days, there was the assumption you'd at least be willing to buy war bonds (link goes to an image with a casual WWII-era racial slur; consider yourself warned). In fact, if your take on the Paris attacks is summarized in any of these, you didn't make the cut.

And no, that's not <air quotes>political correctness</air quotes>, nor is it censorship. Shush. (Nope. Not censorship either.)

Today's toons were selected, based on how they were polling in Iowa last week, from the offerings at McClatchy DC, Cartoon Movement, Go Comics, Politico's Cartoon Gallery, Daryl Cagle's Political Cartoons, About.com, and other fine sources of toony goodness.

p3 Best of Show: Chan Lowe.

p3 Legion of Merit: Darrin Bell, John Deering, Jerry Holbert, and especially Rick McKee.

p3 Award for Best Repurposing Of A Disturbing April 1976 National Lampoon Cover: Henry Payne.

p3 Award for Best Adaptation From Another Medium: Daryl Cagle

p3 "If You Think There Are Invisible Rats and Bugs on the Wall, You're Ray Milland in "The Lost Weekend," But If You Believe an Invisible Hand Guides All Markets Toward Optimal Outcomes, You're a University of Chicago Economist" Medal: Matt Weurker.

Today's p3 Certificate of Harmonic Toon Convergence will be presented by Comic Strip of the Day.

King Features Syndicate is celebrating its 100th birthday with a special comics insert for local newspapers. From Krazy Kat to Rhymes with Orange, Prince Valiant to Flash Gordon, from Popeye and Betty Boop to Hi and Lois, it's a fun historical tour. But you won't find it in today's Sunday Oregonian.

Ann Telnaes live-sketches last week's GOP presidential debate, and discovers the Jack Lemmon lurking inside of Jeb! Bush.

Tom Tomorrow says it's all about the post debate ritual. And, of course, the "But Later."

Keith Knight reflects on a missed opportunity.

Reuben Bolling says, Have a nice day, Citizen! You have been warned!

Red Meat's Bug-Eyed Earl been hangin' out in the park all mornin'.

The Comic Strip Curmudgeon's Google search history will never be the same – and he has Snuffy Smith to thank.

Comic Strip of the Day reviews the immediate post-Paris options: sorrow and bluster.

Speaking of King Features, Popeye, and Betty Boop: He was already a hit in the comic pages when Popeye's first theatrical appearance (and Olive's, and Bluto's) got a kickstart from the already-established Betty Boop in the 1933 "Popeye the Sailor," directed by Dave Fleischer, with animation by Seymour Kneitel and Willard Bowsky. (Kneitel kept his animation and, later, directing duties all the way through the low-budget made-for-TV Popeye cartoons of the early 1960s.) Uncredited voice work by Billy Costello (Popeye), Bonnie Poe (la Boop and The Slender One), and William Pennell (Bluto).

The music department had a good time on this one: In addition to "Strike Up the Band (for Popeye the Sailor)," a shameless borrowing of the 19th century song "Strike Up the Band (Here Comes a Sailor)", this cartoon introduced the song that would eventually be Popeye's theme (loosely borrowed by songwriter Sammy Lerner from Gilbert and Sullivan and, if Wikipedia is to be believed, written in two hours), plus brief quotes from "The Sailor's Hornpipe," "The Volga Boatman" and "Bollocky Bill the Sailor," the latter of which was repurposed from an old and off-color 19th century drinking song into the theme for Bluto's role as Barnacle Bill the Sailor in the 1935 short "Beware of Barnacle Bill."

There are occasional internet references to this short as having been "banned," which is a bit of a stretcher. The casual racism (consider yourself warned) of one scene and the hanging-by-a-thread quality of Betty's lei and grass-skirt hula wear did cause some TV stations to keep it off the air for a while after they were syndicated in the early 1950s (the sexy Boop performance was probably more of a problem at the time than the "darkie" sight gag, unfortunately; and of course the ritual violence against Olive wasn't a problem until much, much later).

The Yooge and Obviously Very Classy Oregon Toon Block:

Ex-Oregonian Jack Ohman made me laugh.

Possibly Ex-Oregonian Jen Sorensen has a dream, in which green M&Ms figure prominently.

Matt Bors explains that whole Syria thing. It'll definitely put your mind to rest. 

Jesse Springer captures the moment: While surveiling #BlackLivesMatter for potential threats to police – and that should have been enough to make somebody stop and rethink things, right there – Oregon's Department of Justice wound up targeting their own Director of Civil Rights. Well played, OR DOJ. Well played.

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.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Sunday morning toons: Mr. Channing, call your agent

What's in the news today?

Well, adding to Obama's extension of our military involvement in Afghanistan, there's now the promised-he-wouldn't introduction of American advisors (the technical term for first-into-the-war) in Syria, for reasons that aren't terribly clear.

The future of the GOP primary debates appears sketchy.

And the argument against the candidacy of Jeb! Bush appears to hang less and less on objections to American political dynasties, per se, and more on objections to American political dynasties that are plagued with generations of "daddy issues."

But the main topic appears to be the man who, as Randle Patrick McMurphy might have put it, has nosed out The Short-Fingered Vulgarian as the bull goose loony in the Acute ward of the GOP psychiatric hospital. (He's also the one whose face has replaced Trump's as the most nearly omnipresent on my Facebook feed, a situation I'd love to see remedied at the earliest possible moment.) The trouble with Ben "Elmer Gantry" Carson is that he makes parody, satire, even ridicule, nearly pointless. There's little a cartoonist needs to do (or can do) beyond simply quoting the man, accurately and in context. I wonder how many of the Carson demo even know who Elmer Gantry is? Perhaps if we remade the film version (even with Kindle, no one's going to read Sinclair Lewis these days, dahlink), in 3-D, with Tatum Channing in the Burt Lancaster part.

Today's toons were selected after a week of negotiations in a 67-degree Fahrenheit, multi-podium broadcast venue, from the week's offerings at McClatchy DC, Cartoon Movement, Go Comics, Politico's Cartoon Gallery, Daryl Cagle's Political Cartoons, About.com, and other fine sources of toony goodness.

p3 Best of Show: Chan Lowe.

p3 Legion of Merit: Ted Rall.

p3 Award for Best Adaptation From Another Medium (tie): Nick Anderson, Marshall Ramsey, Phil Hands, and Jeff Danziger.

p3 Good News/Bad News Award: Bob Englehardt.

p3 World Toon Review: Patrick Chappatte (Switzerland) and Marian Kamensky (Austria).

Ann Telnaes asks a pretty obvious question about borders made up out of nothing a century ago, although her headline writer has a somewhat odd sense of the word "predictable."

Tom Tomorrow lets us watch as Second Amendment enthusiasts discover that the whole authority thing is trickier than it might appear.

Keith Knight reveals something silly. Or allows something silly to reveal itself as such. Probably the latter.

Reuben Bolling reminds us: Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens (numbering no more than perhaps 1% of the country) can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. (Profound apologies to the legacy of Margaret Mead.)

It's a Red Meat twofer: Bug-Eyed Earl is on the job, and Ted Johnson acknowledges some lingering concerns.

The Comic Strip Curmudgeon considers you and I never have: the horrifying opposite of the face of a man engaging in a long-running, well-established B.C. gag.

I joked above about how many Carson supporters do – or don't – know who Elmer Gantry is. Comic Strip of the Day reminds me that they probably don't know who Parson Weems is either.

Hey, shrimp! Get an eyeful of this – here's some real window washing: "The Paneless Window Washer" was directed by Dave Fleischer in 1937, with animation by Willard Bowsky and the magnificently named Orestes Calpini. Uncredited: Jack Mercer (Popeye), Gus Wicke (Bluto), and Mae Questel (The Slender One), musical director Sammy Timberg, and scenic artist Anton Loeb, who created those lush (even in black and white) street fronts and building facades.

The One-Size-Fits-All Oregon Toon Block:

Ex-Oregonian Jack Ohman pretty much aggregates all the Ben Carson jokes out there to be made.

Possibly Ex-Oregonian Jen Sorensen introduces Arizona: the land of No return.

Jesse Springer looks at the latest scandal at Oregon's multi-platform entertainment complex that is also authorized to function as a nonprofit and award college credits and wonders how the administration could have handled it worse. (Spoiler: There is no way the administration could have handled it worse, starting with tolerating the conditions that let it happen in the first place.)

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

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Scenes from a failed novel: Special "Ripped From The Headlines" edition!

Earlier this month I read about the latest developments in a notorious suit based on allegations that University of Miami didn't fulfill its Title IX obligations to investigate charges of sexually inappropriate behavior by one of its faculty luminaries:
When Morrison worked as McGinn's research assistant, the famed professor pressed the student for a photo of her, repeatedly asked if he could come to her apartment and made multiple references to Lolita, the novel in which an older professor becomes obsessed and sexually involved with a 12-year-old girl, according to emails HuffPost reviewed. At the time, McGinn was 62 and Morrison was 26, something he noted in one email. In the emails, McGinn wrote about wanting to kiss her, floated the idea of their having sex over the summer and stated she was "much better off with my support than without it." [. . . ]

Morrison's attorneys say she often avoided his direct questions about his coming to her apartment or wanting to see her, saying she was sick or had spotty Internet or simply was too busy.

One March 2012 text message exchange provided to HuffPost is emblematic of her general response to his comments, the attorneys claim:
McGinn: I love your essence
McGinn: Plus it gives me a slight erection
Morrison: Can I borrow your philosophy of physics book…the one by lange [sic].

There's more at the link, and you're certainly welcome to follow the link and read about it, but I've already thrown up a little in the back of my mouth as it is, so you'll have to make that journey on your own. (Pro tip: If you're texting someone about your erection rather than sending a photo, it's okay to go ahead and tell her you have a "substantial erection." No one will be the wiser, eh?)

But the story sounded familiar. And after some digging around in the cellar, I discovered the following fragment of a manuscript, circa 1992, covered with whisky-glass stains and half-hidden under a pile of hard drives found in a recycling bin ("Think Globally, Act Locally") about two blocks from the Clinton compound in Chappaqua NY: 

She took a seat at a table and looked over her list again. Wormel had let it slip that it was a faculty member who was holding onto her book. The odds were good that only one professor was both theoretically interested in that particular book and relentlessly self-centered enough to keep an overdue library book for over a year: Emile Thoreau.

Maggie felt her spirits slip slightly lower. Emile Thoreau, self-conscious bad boy of the art history faculty; Emile Thoreau, whose French accent came and went according to the number of sophomore coeds present in the class; Emile Thoreau, tenured champion of the masses, ass-grabber extraordinaire. Maggie groaned to herself. Kathleen had once called Thoreau a "Volvo Marxist": He believed that, after The Revolution, his second car would still be a Volvo and he would still get to nail his grad students. Still, if he had the Jaeger and Prinz book, maybe she could borrow it from him.

She fished some change out of her copy machine bag and walked over to the pay phone. His number was listed, and she dialed it. Thoreau's answering machine took the call. She hesitated, then hung up without leaving a message. If he did have the book, leaving him a message would only give him time to move the book into the bedroom and dim the lights. Maggie shuddered.
Well, it's not the first time a book idea has tanked because it was ahead of its time, I suppose. (For other excerpts from this tragically doomed work, go here.)

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sunday morning toons: Witches are so last week (or next week, whichever)

There were three big stories last week, although they almost Bigfooted one another: 

Joe Biden officially dropped out of a presidential race he was never in; Paul Ryan, apparently having learned nothing from the demise of John Boehner, tentatively agreed to step into the latter's becrapped shoes as Speaker, placing him for the moment the closest in the line of Presidential succession he'll ever, ever be; and Hillary Clinton got a better boost from eleven hours of swatting away questions from Rep. Trey Gowdy's band of yahoos than her campaign strategists could have won for her in the next eleven months.

And you can tell which cartoons were worked up before Thursday's Benghazi! hearings: they're the ones with the witch-burned-at-the-stake theme. (Too many of them for Harmonic Toon Convergence recognition; we'd have run out of certificates.) Any toons released after the hearings tended toward contempt for Gowdy's pointless hearings or celebration of Clinton's mixture of bemusement and contempt for the committee's clueless bumbling. Jack Ohman and Jeff Danziger are pretty much the alpha and omega of this trend today. What a difference a day makes! (And if your only point is that anything Hillary says is a lie, you didn't make the cut today.)

Today's toons were selected based on leaks to Maureen Dowd and day-before predictions by Bill Kristol, from the week's offerings at McClatchy DC, Cartoon Movement, Go Comics, Politico's Cartoon Gallery, Daryl Cagle's Political Cartoons, About.com, and other fine sources of toony goodness.

p3 Best of Show: Clay Bennett.

p3 Legion of Merit: Drew Sheneman.

p3 Award for Best Adaptation from Another Medium (tie): Matt Wuerker and Tom Toles.

p3 World Toon Review: Paresh Nath (India), Patrick Chappatte (Switzerland), and Ingrid Rice (Canada).

Ann Telnaes' live sketches from last Thursday's Bengazi! hearings pretty much capture the tone. (Bonus points if you find the one where she captures Hillary's Chuck Jones-y moment. Check out the daydreaming Ralph Phillips, at right and below.)

Mark Fiore reminds us: drones aren’t the policy, assassination is the policy. Also, you should read The Intercept.

Tom Tomorrow paraphrases an old saying. Also, you should be reading The Intercept.

Keith Knight imagines a best-case scenario (free market edition).

Reuben Bolling brings us a story of the unsocial media, from Chagrin Falls OH, which is a real town.

Red Meat's Ted Johnson and his son discuss what Mad Magazine's Dave Berg might call the lighter side of family traditions. Or he might not.

The Comic Strip Curmudgeon feels actively angry about Chaplain Stainglass’s flippant answer.

Come to Comic Strip of the Day for the Benghazi! roundup, stay for the moment of Zen.

"I shall return!" And he did: "From A to Z-Z-Z-Z", directed in 1953 by Chuck Jones from a story by Michael Maltese, was the first of five appearances by young Ralph Phillips. Voice work (all uncredited): Portland's Own Mel Blanc (Numbers, Indians, Sailors, and Shark), Dick Beals (Ralph Phillips), Bea Benaderet (Teacher), Norman Nesbitt (Captain and Sailors), and Marian Richman (simply listed on IMDB as "Various Voices.") Watch "From A to Z-Z-Z-Z" at Gogocartoon.

The Modestly-Sized Oregon Toon Block:

Ex-Oregonian Jack Ohman goes medieval on the Benghazi! committee.

Hypothetically Ex-Oregonian Jen Sorensen uses the word "funnies" ironically.

Matt Bors notices that something happened north of the border.

Jesse Springer imagines where the State of Oregon will end up if cities and counties feel free to ignore gun laws that they decide might "infringe on the Second Amendment."

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

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

10:17am, Wednesday

Either the local crows have trained me to feed them when they call, or they simply are telling the other crows in their murder that I'm outside, but either way, they were out there at about 9:30 this morning. A neighbor has taken to calling me "the crow whisperer."

Pardoe the parrot heard them too, but soon lost interest. Then, suddenly, he was listening more intently; you can tell by the way he turns his head to one side. Then I heard it too.

Geese, heading south in formation. I suppose I shouldn't complain; the first sounding this year was later in October than in last year, although earlier than some years.

I looked at Pardoe. He looked at me. From long history, I know we're thinking the same thing: It's a long time until April.

It's not so much the temperature, which has been mild here for several winters now. Nor is it the rain, really. It's the daylight – or absence of same. That's what gets me. The sun will set at 6:15 this evening. By the third week in December it'll be setting at 4:30, at which time we'll slowly start clawing the sun back, a few seconds per day.

What most people suppose to be a parrot's shoulders are actually his wrists. He shrugged his wrists at me.

"Do not go gentle into that good night," he said, with one ancient eye cocked at me. "Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

I always knew he could talk, but I never knew he'd read Dylan Thomas.

Like people, some crows migrate, but not all. The ones around here seem to ride out the winter where they are. I guess the parrot and I will, too.