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 *).

Friday, October 05, 2007


One of the many things I love about Italy is that the cocktail party is non-existent. Italians can't fathom the concept of mingling. All my life I've loathed cocktail parties, and I've never been good at mingling, so I'll gravitate to someone I know, latch onto them for dear life, and ignore everyone else. Moving around the room and making small talk with people I barely know I find ludicrous. Even worse is being faced with a roomful of strangers and having to either come up with lame ice breaker conversation or else respond to lame ice breaker conversation like, "How do you know the host?" or worse, "What do you do?" It's an art form I never mastered. Just as bad is the cocktail party where you know everyone superficially and move around the room having brief conversations with people until you both run out of things to say, and then your eyes start to wander while you try to figure out how to detach yourself without seeming rude. "Um, I think I'll just go over there and grab me another of those miniature brie and pate tacos."


Blogger Mary Jansen said...

It's difficult, isn't it John, to be an introvert in a extroverted world? My whole family is introverted- including my husband- and he's a pastor. We love our friends dearly but being placed in the public eye is often daunting if not exhausting for us. I've learned tricks of the small talk trade over the years...enough to keep me comfortable. My boys claim that I've become too expert at chit chat and that I keep them much too long at social occasions. As much as I hate fishing around for things to say I've discovered that once that ice is broken people can be darn right interesting underneith.

8:51 AM  
Anonymous Earle Rich said...

On the other hand, I've had a pot luck/dinner party for people who don't know each other yet, but should. I know lots of interesting folks who have fascinating lives but wouldn't normally come in contact with each other. These have been a great success, even for those who are not that social.

9:10 AM  
Blogger John M Crowther said...

Earle and Mary, you both make good points. As I said, it's an art form I never mastered. And having registered my discomfort in these situations, I have to admit I have met people who became close friends. Ironically I'm not an introvert, just lacking, perhaps, in the ice-breaking/small talk skills. I can't remember which well-known writer it was (one of the Algonguin Round Table group, I think) who said, "I don't drink at parties to be more interesting, I drink so other people will be more interesting."

10:21 AM  
Anonymous kate said...

I feel really bad for you, John, and for you too, Mary.
I know you both are in positions where idle chit chat is a necessary part of your lives.
I have absolutely no problem being in situations where I have to meet people and converse with them, although it wasn't an ability I was born with. People who know me now don't believe it, but I was almost catatonically shy as a child. But like most kids born in the sixties and raised in the 70's, my parents were not very involved in my life, and most interactions were left to me.
When my parents divorced when I was twelve, it was even more of a "sink or swim" situation. My father and I traveled all over the country as he was doing research at different academic institutions.
With every move, I was responsible for finding the school I wanted to attend, meeting the principal and teachers, and registering myself. I had to deal with movers, maids, caterers, and for a month every year I was stuck in the Diabetic hospital for regulation of my insulin and tests, so I had to meet with doctors constantly, and endure the ensuing interviews.
It wasn't long before talking to anyone about anything became second nature to me.
I'd still rather stay home and read a book, with only my dog to keep me company, but at least if I must go, I only have to deal with the boredom of the evening, rather than discomfort.
I do think, however, the old saying, "the more you ask people questions about themselves the more interesting you become" is true And "what do you do" is a good start, John, even though you don't like the question!

10:48 AM  
Blogger John M Crowther said...

Understand, I never said I can't do it. I'm a very social and sociable person, and love good conversation. An evening around a dinner table with a group of witty and intelligent people is bliss to me. You hit the nail on the head, Kate, when you mentioned dealing with "the boredom" of it. More often than not I feel in these situations as if there is something way better I could be doing with my time.

11:46 AM  
Blogger Mary Jansen said...

I'm perfectly content with my life Kate. Truly! I do love to converse with people. I just get tired afterwards that's all. That's the introvert that is and always will be a part of me . I need only to pace myself and take "people respites" once in a while and I'm fine!

1:46 PM  
Anonymous kate said...

I feel bad for anyone who has to spend a large part of their time doing things they don't want to do. Maybe I just feel an emotional connection because I have to spend so much of my time doing things I don't particularly like. I'm not even all that wild about theatre, and yet I spend 40-50 hrs/week doing things that are related, either directly or indirectly, to my business. Most time consuming is the paperwork, that I dislike intensely.
Still, I have no right to complain, because I do this out of choice not necessity.
I apologize if my post came off as condescending and pitying. It's not so much sympathy I feel, as empathy.

2:33 PM  
Blogger John M Crowther said...

No apology necessary, Kate. You're free to air your thoughts here. It's scary just how many people in the world spend vast amounts of their lives doing things they do want to, yet I suppose choice frequently comes into it. We give up things to have other things we want more.

5:09 PM  
Anonymous Lee said...

Funny cartoon tonight, John C.

Interesting comments from all.

9:03 PM  
Anonymous Lee said...

PS: Robert Benchley, I believe.

9:20 PM  
Anonymous kate said...

Sometimes some things are bigger than just "what one wants".
Life would be so much easier if it ran on such a simple equation as, "I want it, I get it, I'm happy".
I'm sure I speak for many people in this world when I say most of my choices are based, not on what I want, but on the commitments I've made to others, and obligations I feel I must fulfill.
Happiness is a twentieth century, western invention.
Strange, isn't it, that someone such as I, who was raised without any religious influence whatsoever would have such a Calvinistic approach to life.

10:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I moved to my new home I held a few qine and cheese evenings and watched the people mingle. One of my friends was "working" the room and my daughter commented that she hadn't seen anyone do that that well since she watched her mother do it as a teenager. Both the the worker and my wife were active in politics. Both I may add were (are) great people. It isn't a skill that i have or want to have but I admire it nonetheless. roger

3:10 AM  
Anonymous il professore said...

Guaranteed ice-breaker, learned many years ago when I lived in Santa Barbara:
"Can you believe what happpening to the real estate market here?"

Guaranteed ice-breaker, learned many years ago when I lived in Greenwich Village:

"Can you believe that anyone would be crazy enought to give (name popular painter)a show?"

4:49 AM  
Blogger John M Crowther said...

My apologies, Kate. I meant to say, "it's scary just how many people in the world spend vast amounts of their lives doing things they don't want to."

I agree, Roger, I too admire those who can "work the room."

Good ones, prof. I was once at an L.A. dinner party, all writers talking about whose series got greenlighted, whose dropped. I finally said, "I'm ghost writing the life story of a serial jewel thief." It stopped conversation dead in its tracks until someone finally reported they had a pick-up from ABC.

8:05 AM  

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