Cartoons, cartoons, cartoons.... John Crowther's Cartoon Odyssey

I think of it as The Fool's Journey. I've been asked who the "fool" is. It's me, but in the classical sense of the court jester. Only the fool was allowed to tell the king of his follies. All cartoons are available as prints or originals, framed or unframed, through my website or e-mail. For mugs, t-shirts, and other products visit my gift shop at* (be sure to include the *).

Monday, April 30, 2007

Global Harming

The latest bit of lunacy to sweep the country is "carbon-efficiency offsets," a pay-as-you-go system of credit that presumably makes someone feel better about being a one-person ecological disaster. The idea is that an individual with a 3000 square foot house who drives a hummer and scoots around the country in a private jet can atone for all that energy waste by buying these offsets, the money from which is directed toward programs that are meant to help the environment. The more energy you account for personally, the more you pay. Kind of like drinking diet soda so you can pig out on cake and ice cream. As someone noted, it's like buying "indulgences" was in the middle ages. Until Martin Luther came along and stopped the practice, rich folks could sin all they wanted as long as they kept pumping money into the church. Instead of the fat bishops lining their pockets, now it's the geniuses who operate these schemes and can legally skim off a high percentage of every dollar for themselves as "administration" costs. A better idea is for everyone to start acting responsibly and cut back their energy usage. Responsibility? Wow, what a concept!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Arms Race to the Finish LIne

There are scholars who argue convincingly that the beginning of the end for humanity came about 8000 years ago with the development of agriculture, which led to specialization. Individuals were needed to fill specific roles, and thus was born the idea of "jobs." (And by the way, the job of turning wheat into flour gave us the term "the daily grind," but I digress.) And because man was no longer wandering far and wide in search of the best hunting, or ripest berries, another bad idea sprang up, the need to stake out a claim to "property" and protect it from all intruders, including those who still hadn't given up wandering and figured out that they could just wait until after harvest and steal the flour from the settlers. The settlers meanwhile figured out two new specialties were needed to help protect their flour, weapons maker and security guard. Eventually pretty much everybody had property, but none of them were satisfied they had enough so they began trying to steal each other's lands, which led to bigger and more powerful weapons and a new and improved kind of security guard called a soldier. We all know the rest, it led to a vicious cycle of everyone trying to protect their lands and flour against everyone else, as nobody was ever satisfied and the weapons got bigger and bigger. Meanwhile nobody noticed that the weapons had got so big and powerful they could now not only destroy their adversaries' flour, they could render the land useless for growing more flour for centuries to come. Man had been around for hundreds of thousands of years before agriculture came along 8000 years ago. 8000 years. That's a drop in the bucket.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

I Never Metaphor I Didn't Like

How are we going to learn if we don't try things? I'm a fairly good cook, good enough so that I'd rather eat at home than in a restaurant, but I've had some pretty spectacular failures at times when I've operated on impulse. I think part of my success as a cook has to do with a complete lack of fear when I step into the kitchen. I'm always willing to risk failure, throw the whole mess out, and start again, though happily that happens rarely. The challenge is learning from the mistakes so they don't get repeated. Cookbooks are nothing but accounts of successes compiled after a series of screw-ups, and a recipe is just a record of the fact that somebody got it right so it's worth attempting. If anyone wants to read more into this commentary than immediately meets the eye, I encourage it.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Confuser Access

There are currently various initiatives underway to provide the homeless with computer training. In a delicious bit of irony, as I was halfway through this commentary my computer froze up and I lost everything I'd written. Just what those who are down and out need, I thought, something else in their lives to cause them frustration and rage.

Meanwhile, following up on yesterday's post, in another bit of synchronicity last evening's news had a story about a state legislator back east somewhere who is introducing legislation to ban low-rider pants. Don't these politicians have more pressing concerns to deal with, like for instance, real crime? I can imagine some newbie con being grilled by his fellow inmates: "Whaddaya in fer, punk?" "Ugly clothes." On the news report some boy was being interviewed about the proposed law. "They teach us about liberty and freedom in school," he complained, "then they want to tell us what we're allowed to wear." The kid's got a point. Maybe the schools should start teaching the students about aesthetics and taste.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Fashion Statement

When you see kids with their trousers falling off, as is common nowadays, the logical question that comes to mind is, why would anyone want to dress like that? Aside from godawful ugly, it has to be wildly uncomfortable. To me, though, the more urgent question is, how do they do it? It absolutely challenges gravity. Sure, they usually keep one hand free as they walk down the street so they can give an upward tug every now and then, but in between tugs one would think the pants would be down around their ankles. Such is not the case. I've had players on the lacrosse field trying to run as their over-size shorts sag toward their knees exposing indecent amounts of butt-crack. They lope along with a curious wide-legged gait, but otherwise show not the slightest indication that their sartorial preference presents any problem. On the other hand, I can't help but remember the time when I was a lot younger and we squeezed into trousers so tight it left you no room to perspire, let alone find sufficient room for the appendages. I guess for every new generation it's not about aesthetics or taste, it's about discomfort.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Nero Fiddles

It's just not worth getting stressed about partisan wrangling. Whatever is going to happen as a result of the hot air and bickering that passes for political debate nowadays will happen, and no amount of angst or anger on our parts will change it. So the best we can do is sit back and watch, unless we choose to ignore it totally, which is very difficult to do. The events that play out may be memorable tragedy on a grand scale, or they way wind up being farcical, relegated to eventual trivia on the level of Mr. Ed factoids. A lot is just subplot. My guess is that we have the privelege of front row seats at the modern day equivalent of, say, the fall of Rome, the Crusades, or the French Revolution. Big stuff. Oh sure, we have comic relief like Sanjaya, and the soap opera of Anna Nicole's baby, or even deeply affecting philosophical drama like the Virginia Tech massacre, but we also have the clash of powerful conflicting forces that are changing the world, and as long as I'm around I'm going to gawk with fascination. And then there's the silly stuff that goes on offstage almost unnoticed, like the guy who walked into a Zizzi pizza restaurant in London the other day, climbed onto a table, and cut his member off as patrons fled screaming. It gives "one with everything to go" new meaning.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Lend Me Your Ears

As Frank Lloyd Wright once said, "Democracy is a wonderful thing. We ought to try it sometime." The Greeks had a great idea, and America's founding fathers were inspired enough to attempt to apply it to the 13 unruly original colonies, but there was no way they could envisage the day when it would be unworkable. Actually, Thomas Jefferson was wise enough to suggest that for it to succeed, a revolution would be required every twenty-five years or so. Which would be an interesting concept as long as there wasn't any loss of life or destruction of property. Well, some destruction of property might not be so bad if it involved WalMart outlets, McDonald's franchises, and billboards. It's not so much that bad men have their grubby hands on a good system. It's the system that's flawed. Let's face it, democracy is nifty as long as you're not dealing with more than a handful of people, say a maximum of five. And even then nobody has figured out a way to factor individuals into the process. When I was very small, before my younger brother was born, my father wrote a poem that summed it up:

Boz wanted to go to the zoo,
Johnny wanted to go there too,
Daddy said 'twas the thing to do,
But mommy said no.
That is how the voting went
In our domestic parliament,
Three were for and one against,
So we didn't go.

Monday, April 23, 2007


Click on image to view enlarged.

A writer friend once told me that he didn't really like writing, he liked having written. I knew just what he meant. But painting and drawing for me are different. I get immense pleasure from every part of the process of creating, and I never feel that any work is truly completed. No matter what, there's always something more I can do, something I can add or fix. Another friend, a film director and editor, told me that at a certain point he must be dragged away from his work because otherwise he'll keep tinkering until he's destroyed it. As far as lacrosse is concerned I love the coaching process, and yet on the other hand there's a huge relief when a game is over, and of course, unlike the making of art, you're on the clock and a whistle blows telling you it's time to stop. Yesterday, the boys' lacrosse team I coach at Huntington Park High School won their first game, and I can honestly say that as sweet as victory is, getting there has been what it's about. What greater satisfaction can there be than teaching a sport to a group of young men, most of whom had never even seen the sport played a few months ago, and having them give back to you not just by winning their first game, but doing it by playing incredibly well? That's the joy of coaching. Your players are your muse.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Opera Buff

As a child I spent hours staring at the sky and pondering infinity. A part of me wanted desperately to imagine a limit to space, but another part of me couldn't wrap my mind around the idea of endlessness. Likewise, I continue to obsess about the humanoid who picked up a piece of burnt wood or something hundreds of thousands of years ago and made marks on a cave wall, thereby creating the very first piece of art. Whatever possessed him (or her) to take this astonishing leap, and did this individual have any conscious sense of its significance? That then leads me to wondering about who the first critic was, that troglodyte who had zero ability to draw even crudely, but who neverthless wrinkled his nose, squinted with an air of studied expertise at the scratchings on the stone in front of him, and declared, "the right rear leg is longer than the others, gazelles don't look like that."

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Cutting Edge

A couple of years ago I hit technology burnout, and I haven't recovered. Way back "in the day" I was one of the first people I knew using a computer. When I first learned about a new thing called "word procecessing" I figured it was for me, and I raced out to a computer store. The acne-scarred geek kid behind the counter stared at me with total disdain when I asked to see a word processor and finally answered me with a sneer. "There's no such thing." When I persisted, he intoned, voice dripping with contempt, "oh, you mean a computer with a word processing program." I learned Wordstar that afternoon, and for several years kept up with progress as I went through ten computers. My friends considered me a techie. Eventually I worked my way up to one of the first Mac X's with Final Cut Pro for film editing, and got pretty good at it. But the obsession with staying on top of the monthly updates finally wore me down. It seemed like I had become far more occupied with technology than creativity, and I crashed and burned, got rid of the Mac, and became stupid overnight. Nowadays I will not watch a TV program except when it's actually being broadcast, so getting a Tivo is out of the question. So is using the speed-dialer on my cellphone.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Fiddling While Rome Burns

Well, Sanjaya Malakar got voted off American Idle this week, but not before the 17-year old Seattle boy with the big hair and small voice had become a household name. At one point during the Sanjayamania that swept the country for a while and kept people's attention diverted from things that matter, Hillary Clinton was even asked to comment on him in a press conference. She likened his campaign to her own. Even the young man was startled, and expressed to an interviewer his astonishment that he had become conflated with the race for president, only not exactly in those words. One is tempted to refer to him as an instant star, but there's really no such thing. Stardom takes long preparation, hard work, accomplishment. Gosh, it took him several weeks of enduring national villification and derision to reach the lofty heights. Now, with job offers pouring in, he must make some hard choices about his future. There will be celebrity golf cart races, mall openings, telethon apearances. Heady stuff. We wish him well, and we pray for America.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

An Ode to Human Ingenuity

It's always puzzled me that one of the world's truly great inventions, Saranwrap, could be one of it's most flawed. It's a miracle that you can cover food in your refrigerator and still be able to identify it at least for the first two months, before everything begins to look like one of Alexander Fleming's early experiments. And unlike tinfoil, you can accidentally bite down on it without sending a charge through your fillings that zaps your brain. Here you have something that, in my opinion, outranks even the self starter and scissors, but to get it to do what it's supposed to you have to have four hands, one for each corner, to keep it from rolling into a static electricity-crackling ball. Every box comes equipped with a serrated edge that too often leaves you with a nasty cut on your finger. Even with it you can't tear off a big enough piece to cover more than a small bowl of peas insufficient for an entire helping or for kidding yourself into thinking you're being creative when all you've got for a salad is some wilted iceberg lettuce and a small glob of mayonnaise. I have it on good authority that a gizmo for tearing off flat sheets large enough to cover a whole roast suckling pig was conceived of by Leonardo da Vinci but he never built a working model. After all, it would be hundreds of years before Saranwrap was invented. And besides, he got sidetracked by the helicopter and ways to divert the Arno and flood Pisa so it could be conquered by the Medicis. Another great invention is the squeegee, to get the remains of the mayonnaise out of the jar.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Wherefore Art?

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It amuses me when people decry the graffiti splashed all over the buildings, buses, railroad cars, and freeway overpasses of the monstrous sprawling, smog-choked, rat-infested, garbage-strewn eyesores we call cities. To compound the irony, there are people smearing huge canvases with what sometimes looks like excrement, calling it art, and getting it displayed in high-end galleries. I don't claim that all graffiti is good or welcome. Nor do I detest all abstract or conceptual art. But I can tell you that of the two I'll take the graffti, if for no other reason than it explodes out of genuine passion, requires a determination and resourcefulness to accomplish, and carries no reward, other than possible jail time. Now that, to me, is an artist.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Rest In Peace

Life continues to present us with the same challenges over and over, as individuals and a society, until we learn the lesson. And then we move on to the next challenge.
My heart and prayers go out to the Virginia Tech victims, their families, friends, colleagues, and classmates.

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Great National Barroom Brawl

You have to laugh when the pundits and journalists blather on about how this whole stinky Imus garbage pit has a positive side, in that it will "at last" open up a national dialogue about racism and intolerence. Yeah, right! Haven't they noticed there's been a dialogue going on for the past half century, and it's done nothing but get louder and more strident? And it's the very people who should lead the discussion in a sane, rational way that keep ratcheting up the volume. Unfortunately nobody will cop to being the least bit wrong. The hate-mongers manage to justify their irrational convictions and those who think they hold the keys to righteousness pick and choose their targets very carefully. The terrible fact the commentators and politicians and business honchos would prefer to avoid is that they're the very ones who've supported and encouraged Imus, snickering complicitly in public while they were cringing in private. This is a drug-addled ex-boozer who, if he weren't famous and started mouthing off at one of their cocktail parties, would never have been invited back. The same geniuses who're now calling for dialogue have all along been the secret champions of diatribe.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Three Killed, None Seriously

I did something yesterday evening I rarely do anymore, I watched the local news. I find myself searching for an adjective to describe the experience, and I'm at a loss. Appalling leaps to mind, but that's way too strong, suggesting something that has some impact. Stupefying is closer, but even that gives it far too much weight. It's just nothing, the texture of cotton candy without the sugar. On one level, I have to admit it's pretty funny, these people all shouting things at the camera excitedly, as if something actually happened that we should care about. They call those folks anchors, possibly because they're dragging us down with them, or maybe because their function is to keep people in one spot, transfixed. The guy on the "health desk" comes on and gives us the earth shattering information that researchers have determined depression causes some people to get fat and some to get thin. The "life style" reporter tells us about little polished wooden coffins for divorcees to put their wedding ring in and bury it. The weather guy screams out that the "live mega-doppler HD7000 weather cam" tells us that there's no rain in the area, which for some reason that eludes me would show up as green if there were any. And in a bit of breathless "breaking news" the "Eye in the Sky" chopper focuses on a Wal-Mart where inside right now employees have caught a robber and are beating the crap out of him. Wow, a window on the world!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Lost In Translation

Language differences can present daunting obstacles to human communication. Understanding each other can be tricky under the best of circumstances. I maintain that even between people born and raised in the same country verbal language is overrated as a way to exchange ideas and get things accomplished, but complicate the process with two different nationalities and it can be a rocky road. In Rome 37 years ago I met the young woman who would become my wife. Early on in our relationship, in a moment of intimacy, she cooed to me, "oh, you are my eunuch." Now that can throw cold water on one's ardor. It turns out she was attempting to translate, "tu sei il mio unico," my "one and only." Okay, the misunderstanding was cleared up, even if a certain insecurity lingered on. I mean, that kind of body slam to the ego can be felt for a long time. Italian waiters get a huge kick out of the American tourists who frequently order "fica e prosciutto" believing they'll get figs (sing. fico) and thinly sliced smoked ham when in fact they're ordering an unmentionable part of a woman's anatomy. Little wonder Ford never succeeded in working through the contract negotiations to buy Ferarri.

Friday, April 13, 2007

A Little Hypocrisy Goes a Long Way

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Yesterday it seems was a day for repentence. There was, of course, the I-pology, the one that resounded through media headquarters toilets, most notably at CBS, where executives fled to seek relief after being pounded by Rev. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Then there was Paul Wolfowitz, head of the World Bank, whose mea culpa came because of the furor over his intervention in getting his girlfriend hired to a $200,000 post in the State Department. And finally there was former Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong, who begged the forgiveness of the three Duke University lacrosse players for totally screwing up their lives and putting them and their families through hell. All this is fresh on the heels of Mel Gibson's and Michael Richards' public meltdowns and subsequent abject grovelling. Saying "I'm sorry" has become the new in thing to do. I wonder if the apologies come with chocolates and roses.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Show Me the Money

Given that a bunch of high roller sponsors have bailed on Imus's television Simulcast of his morning radio cesspool, it shouldn't be surprising that MSNBC has pulled the plug on him. Neither is the obligatory statement they released surprising, in which they apologized for any hurt his idiocy has caused. (I won't repeat his foul remark here, since every single media outlet has echoed it ad infinitum until it's etched into the American soul as deeply as E Pluribus Unum and "mission accomplished.") MSNBC also "reaffirmed" its commitment to all those wonderful values they stand for, you know, all that family stuff. Where, I want to know, have the MSNBC people been all these years while Imus was pumping out his hate-filled spewage? Why did they suddenly get a conscience? Up to now they were too busy counting the profits, that's why. Some advertisers get nervous and we have a mea culpa. The fact is, the airwaves may be public, but nobody is forced to listen to Imus, or any of the other bottom feeders who man the microphones. I've driven back and forth across America twice, listening to radio stations all the way, and I've got news for you, the creeps are out there, hundreds of them, in every local market from L.A. to Maine, little Imus and Limp-paw wannabes. To my way of thinking, the fact that anybody pays attention to them is cause for deep sorrow about the conscience of the country.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Blabber Radio

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One can be charitable and forgive Imus his lapse of judgment, intelligence, and decency, just so long as he rots in hell for all eternity. It's not that he was so unutterably tasteless that bothers me, it's that he represents a firestorm of rudeness that has exploded across this country. Actually, it's worse than that, he and the jabberjocks like him and Limp-paw and the aptly named Michael Savage are to a large degree responsible for it. They've made it okay for people to act like barroom boors on Tuesday night, their brains switched to idle and their mouths at full rev. Just the other day some passengers on a Northwest airliner awaiting departure heard the pilot screaming invectives at someone on his cellphone. They complained to the cabin attendants, who conveyed their discomfort to the man. He turned his rage on them with a torrent of obscenity, and had to be forcibly removed from the cockpit. Flying has become worrisome enough without having pilots with uncontrollable stress levels. And life is complicated enough without our being surrounded by people whose opinions and manners are formed by mindless morons.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Home Is Where the Art Is

Click on the image to enlarge.

It's been a strange journey. Ever on the lookout for a career with the least possible job security, I early on intended to be an artist, but back then if you weren't an abstract expressionist, which I wasn't, you didn't even think about it. There was something about making a person look like a person that had an inexplicable appeal to me. Besides, I had no idea how to turn my angst into blotches of paint on a canvas. So I drifted toward set design in school and somewhere in there the acting bug hit me. Once out of college I ran away to New York, no big deal since it was about a half hour down the commuter line from home, and became an actor. My parents, worried about the precariousness of my choice, urged me to write, so I figured since nobody else was writing a play with a lead role for me, I would do it myself. People were very complimentary, but I decided I was wrong for the part. I got the message. I was continuing to paint and draw, but I settled on writing as my main occupation since I didn't like it anywhere near as much, and my Judeo-Christian upbringing had instilled me the conviction that it was therefore more appropriate as one's life work. Live and learn.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Where's the Rage?

At my local Arco station the price of regular at the pump hit $3.26 this past week, and nobody seems to notice anymore. It's become a matter of common wisdom in California that the cost of gas leaps upward in the summer months and then drops for the winter months. The gas industry tells us it has something to do with additives mandated by law and the cost of changing over, but that doesn't make sense. They could perfectly well average the cost out over the year. Even though the TV news gasbags keep reminding us of the reason, they never explain why the prices are higher year after year. It also doesn't explain why summer keeps coming earlier and earlier, and winter gets shorter and shorter. They throw other reasons at us as well. A refinery fire in Texas, for example. Yeah, sure. A couple million bucks worth of damage and the oil companies rack up another few billion in profit. It's not that these are the same guys taking us to war in the Middle East that bothers me, it's that we're the same people who keep falling for their lies. You'd think we were busy with other important stuff, like is the self-annointed King of Radio Howard Stern going to succeed in sabotaging American Idol by actively campaigning for Sanjaya while Rush Limp-paw does yet another fluff interview with the Vice-President.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

A Rabbit By Any Other Name

In Rhode Island a school superintendent has banned the use of the term Easter Bunny at a local event, saying that it is a Christian symbol and therefore exclusionary. He suggested using Peter Rabbit instead. Political Correctness doesn't get much more insane. Somehow this bonehead has missed the whole point. Easter is Christian and therefore exclusionary. But my problem with it is that this numbskull gives Political Correctness an even worse black eye than it already has, and I think that's unfortunate. There's always a bigger picture than the parochial, myopic one most people see, and in this case it's the simple fact that PC forces us to take a look at the myriad ways society adopts terms and customs that just happen to be exclusionary, and that often do make some minority groups and individuals uncomfortable. It would be nice if it led to some collective consciousness raising about the ways people celebrate themselves while trampling on the feelings of others, and a willingness to take a hard look at certain practices, but that rarely happens, and part of the fault lies with the lunatics who go too far. What's next, some nut case who wants to ban the Fourth of July barbecue because eating hot weiners sends the wrong message to our children?

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Something Fishy Going On II

Blame it on global warming. I don't doubt that mankind is doing a lot that results in the hole in the ozone layer growing and the ice cap melting. But let's put this into perspective. If there's one thing we can be sure about it's that throughout the entire universe things have been changing since the beginning of whatever. Mankind likes to call the agents of changes we don't like, such as tornadoes, tsunamis, meteorites and volcanoes, destructive forces, and we call all the changes we do like progress. Pave over the entire Los Angeles basin and create a massive freeway system for the gas-guzzling vehicles that clog it, requiring us to suck fossil fuels out of the ground and pump noxious crap into the air and that's building toward a bright future. But let one earthquake knock down an overpass and that's destruction. Spend countless billions of dollars and thousands upon thousands of human lives levelling a city that several centuries ago was the cradle of civilization and that's supposed to be making the world safe for democracy. But let one hurricane wash away some beach houses that shouldn't have been built on the shifting sands of the ocean's edge in the first place and that's evidence of nature's wrath. Okay, so we reverse global warming, then what? I think we worry about the wrong things.

Friday, April 06, 2007

We Interrupt Your Life....

If you can somehow ignore the fact that commercials intrude on whatever pleasure is being derived at the moment, and are meant to sell you something you very likely don't need, it becomes possible to perceive the best of them as genuine surrealist art. Perhaps they are the truest art this culture has to offer, and I don't mean that disparagingly or sarcastically. They are to today's world what a Raphael alterpiece was to the Renaissance, which after all was also intended to keep its message front and center in the minds of its viewers. The 16th century man was reminded to be pious. We're reminded to go out and buy something. The best of commercials are to be found outside the U.S., which in fact, is true of most art. My all-time favorite was a documentary-style European commercial in which three elderly couples faced the camera and spoke quietly and sincerely about how misunderstood their wonderful, beloved sons were. Subitles translated their words. The first were the parents of the Panamanian dictator Noriega, the second were Roumanian dictator Ceaucescu's parents, and the third were the parents of Marcos. It was all very low-key, and horrifyingly believable. I watched increasingly appalled at the bad taste, until it came to an end and a final title revealed the product: a brand of condoms.

I'm excited to share with you that I'm now the featured cartoonist on a new and terrific website,, stand-up routines, satire, videos. As Johnny Carson used to say, "funny stuff." Tell 'em I sent you.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

All The News That's Unfit

The news just keeps getting weirder and weirder. We've come a long way since the administration decided it could grab anyone they wanted to, call them a terrorist, and hold them indefinitely in a remote corner of Cuba, of all places, without due process. Now the president and vice president are both stridently criticizing Speaker of the House Pelosi for her trip to Syria, ignoring the fact that Republican congressmen had made the same trip a week earlier. But we've become so inured to the shenanigans in the Washington Super Circus that this stuff gets pushed in the background while the media reports on Keith Richards' claim in an interview that when his father died five years ago he mixed his ashes with coke and snorted him. Never mind that he backtracked a day later, saying he was joking. It takes a twisted mind to even joke about that, but what's really sick is that it made headlines. And now we have the story about a bunch of 11-year olds who had sex in class while the teacher was out of the room for fifteen minutes. Fifteen minutes? Talk about Speedy Gonzales. That didn't even give them time for some juvenile fumbling. Face it, folks, these kids knew what they were doing. That's damn scary!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

A Miss Is As Good As a Mile

This will surprise those who know me, but I'm deeply religious. So much so, in fact, that I don't believe in one god, I believe in lots of them. Some people would say that's not religion, that's superstition, but what I want to know is why believing in one old guy with white hair who sits on a throne up in the sky flanked by his son and a fifth of holy spirits is okay, but believing in a whole pantheon of gods each with his or her own specialty is lunacy. So there's this one god I count on daily, the god who looks after fools. I can't begin to tell you how often he's kept me from bad trouble when I've been short-sighted, deluded, inept, or just plain stupid. How do I know he exists? Well, if he doesn't, then who keeps the traffic flowing on freeways most of the time when so darn many drivers are incompetent? If there's no god who looks after fools then how do people get elected to high office with fewer credentials than Sanjaya's hairdresser, and manage to totally screw up the world all the while slipping away from the wrath of the god who goes around smiting people? It's amazing how few people get smote compared to how many deserve it.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Strike a Blow For Equality

When Bill Clinton was elected president and moved to Washington, the Clintons' daughter Chelsea was enrolled in a private school. Soon after the inauguration, Chelsea complained of a headache one day and was sent to the nurse. When it was discovered that there was no signed parental authority on file permitting that she be given aspirin, the nurse told the little girl they would need to telelphone her mother. "No," Chelsea said, "not my mother. Call my father. My mother's too busy." I hasten to add, for the sake of complete disclosure, that I am not at this time a supporter of Hillary For President. I'm not supporting anyone yet. But by golly, she does have one major advantage that no other candidate, Republican, Democrat, or otherwise, has, she's a woman. I spent a lot of years watching my mom juggle motherhood, being a doting wife, running a household, and managing multiple careers successfully. My dad was a newspaper critic. All he ever had to do, for heaven's sake, was go to movies and write about whether he liked them or not, which I thought was as near perfect as you could get when it came to a job. I adored my dad. He was a terrific father. But of the two, guess which one would've got my vote for President.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Play Ball

When I was a kid it seemed as if baseball was the only professional sport that mattered. Football, basketball, and hockey were still struggling for attention, but baseball truly was "the national pastime," and the World Series mesmerized the nation as the Super Bowl, March Madness, and American Idol rolled into one. Well okay, maybe not as big as American Idol. Ironically, back then there were only sixteen franchises, and none west of the Mississippi. Few things echo the transformation of America from a laconic Norman Rockwell tranquility to the high pressure, greed-driven country of today, where our leaders no longer work to unite us and instead encourage us all to distrust and detest each other. And yet I still love going "to the ball game," which is very different from watching on TV. Once I've got past the traffic jams getting in, the astronomically-priced parking, the stratospheric cost of tickets, and the rip-offs at the refreshment stands, and once I put out of my mind the reality that the thugs on the field are steroid-besotted egomaniacs, I can enjoy leaping up from my seat on the uppermost tier, from where people on the field are smaller than my thumbnail. and scream "yer blind ya bum" at the umpire, who stands four feet from the play in question. Passions in the stands run high, but it's all good fun.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Besoboru, Part I


I was astonished to discover recently that one of the traditions in baseball, a sport rife with tradition, is the haiku. Of course, it's only widely practiced in Japan, where besoboru, as they call it, is even more deeply ingrained in the culture than it is here. With the season opening tomorrow, I thought I'd give it a try:

birds wonder why grown men
wear funny pants like small boys
eat marshmallows

Okay, I'm a cartoonist, not a poet.