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 *).

Sunday, August 31, 2008

See No Evil....

I was a Hillary supporter, and I admit that gender was one of the factors in my choice. I think it's time we had a woman in the White House. But I'm not sure America is ready for a vice-president, a heartbeat away from the presidency, a woman who named her five children Bristol, Willow, Piper, Trig, and Track. That's what rock stars do, not serious politicians.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Heartbeat Away

The comedy gods gave us all a gift yesterday. There's something really delicious about watching the right wing bloviators extolling McCain's vice-presidential choice while tap dancing around the fact they've been ripping Barack Obama as being too young and too inexperienced in foreign affairs. It's teaching us all a lesson in irony.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Where There's a Will

It's often said that where there's a will there's a way. But it's far more common to find that where there's a will there's a beneficiary.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Going Back

I don't like people filling my e-mail box with the latest "cute" posts that are making the Internet rounds, and I especially detest those posts that, like the pyramid letters back in the snail-mail days, exhort me to pass it along to 8 friends if I want happiness and joy the rest of my life. But one I received the other day captured my interest. It was longer than this, but I'll cut right to the chase. The subject was the number one billion. The point was putting it into context. A billion days ago, it said, there were no two legged animals walking the earth. A billion dollars ago, it concluded, was eight hours and twenty minutes at the rate our government is spending money.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Anything For a Good Story

I look at the conventions as a pimple on the face of the endless presidential campaign. It's all come to a head for a few days. Up to now it's been nasty, but nothing like the real ugliness that will come spewing forth in the next couple of months. The media bloviators, meanwhile, have played their usual slimy game of trying to create the news rather than report it, as they poke and prod at the empty hornets' nest that was once the Hillary-Obama nastiness.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

It's a Small World

Legend tells us that when the reporter Henry Stanley finally found Dr. Livingstone in deepest Africa his first words were, "Dr. Livingstone, I presume." Less known is Livingstone's reply, veddy British: "You most certainly do."

Monday, August 25, 2008

It's the Thought, Stupid

Mark Twain once said that we rejoice at a birth and grieve at a funeral because we're not the person involved. I've long felt that the reason we fear death is because birth was so traumatic, going from the warm, comfortable safety of the womb to the harsh place that is this world in a matter of minutes by being squeezed through an opening half our size. From here, things might get better if you believe certain preachings, but based on actual experience it could only get worse.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Ridi, Pagliaccio, Ridi

I'm fond of asking people what they would choose if they were stranded on a desert island and could only have one item of food. And compounds aren't fair. Nothing that might require a recipe, and nothing enhanced by the addition of another ingredient. Mine is peanut butter, hands down. I'll have it with anything, peanut butter and Walla Walla onion sandwiches, peanut butter with cucumber pickles, peanut butter mole', you name it.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Bellicose Up To the Bar, Boys

War on Poverty. War On Drugs, War On Obesity, War On Fuel Consumption, War On Illiteracy, we're obsessed with war in this country. How about a War on Politicians Who Want to Solve Every Problem By Making War On It? Or better yet, how about a War On War?

Friday, August 22, 2008

It's All In the Translation

In Czechoslovakia (before it was the Czech Republic) I once visited the ruins of an old castle perched atop a high hill that jutted up from the surrounding plain. Ruins is the operative word, it was just piles of stone rubble, barely recognizable as having once been walls. Here and there the remains of a stone stairway started upward and ended nowhere. The guide spoke only Czechoslovakian, so we tourists were provided with a printed translation of his spiel. "This beautiful castle," it began, "has not been lived in for over 500 years, which is why nowadays it is in such poor shape." I figured they abandoned it because they had trouble keeping help.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Nanny Nanny Nah Nah State

I was all for bans on smoking, since I've been a lifelong non-smoker who always resented smoke-filled rooms. And being someone who dislikes the sight of brains splattered on a highway, I'm in favor of motorcycles helmet laws. But when it gets to things like food, I say the government should butt out. I don't need little placards informing me that a double whammy cheeseburger and fries at Burger Buddy has enough calories to last me a week, or that a gooey dessert is loaded with stuff that will rot my innards. I'm with Marie Antoinette. "Let 'em eat cake." Pass me the arugala.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

If At First...Steal Second

At the end of his first year in business on his own a young man came home and said to his father proudly, "I've saved a thousand dollars." After five years he told his father, "I've now saved ten thousand dollars." Five years later it was, "I've saved a hundred thousand dollars." A few more years went by and he told his father, "Things haven't been too good lately. I had to borrow a million dollars." His father replied, "at last you're beginning to get somewhere."

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

But He Doesn't Like To Be Second

I have to admit, like everyone else I admire the heck out of Michael Phelps's achievement, but the man himself leaves me a bit cold. I guess I just can't relate to someone that monomaniacal. He's too perfect. He even has a slight flaw, which is a characteristic of perfection. And were it not for his flaw, he couldn't have accomplished what he did. His feet are way too big for him to even be human. He's got flippers.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sunday, Sweet Sunday

For the record, on this day in 1892, or thereabouts, Mae West was born in Brooklyn, New York. The piece of life saving equipment named for her is now called a flotation device on airplanes, to avoid objectifying the female body. We live in strange times.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

It's Lonely at the Top

Click on image to view enlarged.

I have it on good authority that Michael Phelps didn't really win eight gold medals. In fact, he may not have won any. Well okay, he might have won three or four, like a normal person, but for the rest the fix was in. It was all a plot by the IOC and NBC to increase ratings. There was some internal discussion about whether it was better drama to have him take the all-time record or just to tie Mark Spitz's old record. They asked Spitz to pony up fifteen million dollars to keep his record intact but he refused, and so in the end Phelps got to, as they say, "make history." That's why such an air of inevitability hung over the whole thing. And regarding the assassination of Lincoln, a guy in the orchestra, third row center did it.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Hush Money

It was bound to happen. Rick Warren, evangelical pastor of a California megachurch, has organized the first primetime face to face with the two presidential candidates. He's not going to get into piddling things like the war in Iraq and the economy, no, he's going to ask personal questions. You know, like what's their relationship with Jesus. In other words, it's the de facto religion test forbidden by the constitution. It's a bit scary, given this gaping disconnect between the holier than anybody public faces of our politicians and the revelations about the private conduct of so many of them, not just now but throughout history.

Friday, August 15, 2008

It's the Bucks, Stupid

Click on image to view enlarged.

Rush Limbaugh finally revealed his true colors, and with it the hypocrisy of the whole right wing "family values" crowd. He blamed John Edwards's amorous misadventures on his wife Elizabeth, suggesting that perhaps the snarky senator wouldn't have strayed had she been willing to use her mouth for something other than talking. (I've been a bit more circumspect than he was.) To me "values" involves taste, judgment, human decency, and, oh yes, simple intelligence. I'd suggest a move to get Limbaugh thrown off the air, but that won't hapen anytime soon. He rakes in too much money, thanks to the loyalty of his listeners who share his, um, values.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Court Appearance

I've never been a fan of professional basketball. I just can't get into a sport that's played by outsized freaks. Same with professional football. Soccer makes sense. You can be normal size, or even abnormally small, as long as you're a great athlete. It's also true of baseball. At the other end of the spectrum, professional "Rock, Scissors, Paper" holds no interest for me. But I'm surprised it's not an Olympics event. After all, it does combine physicality with mental toughness.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Going For the Old

Kudoes to Michael Phelps, but enough already. Oh, I don't think he should stop in his quest for more gold medals, but the coverage has got really predictable. Footage of Michael getting up in the morning, shovelling breakfast into his mouth, arriving at the stadium listening to his I-pod. Michael winning his race. His mom Debbie cheering. Race replayed. Replayed again. Michael being interviewed. "What does it feel like to win yet another gold medal?" Michael grins. "Awesome." Michael's win replayed. Replayed again. And again. And again. Michael on the podium getting his medal and standing for playing of the National Anthem. Debbie wiping away tears. Race replayed. Same thing all over again tomorrow. Maybe they could slip in a rerun of American Idol, just to break the monotony.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

You're Only Dumb Once

"The mental disease of the present generation is impatience of study, contempt of the great masters of ancient wisdom, and a disposition to rely wholly upon unassisted genius and natural sagacity. The wits of these happy days have discovered a way to fame, which the dull caution of our laborious ancestors durst never attempt; they cut the knots of sophistry, which it was formerly the business of years to untie, solve difficulties by sudden irradiations of intelligence, and comprehend long processes of argument by immediate intuitions." These words were written by Samuel Johnson in The Rambler in 1851. I would add to them, you're only young once, but judging from our politicians and pundits it lasts a long time.

Monday, August 11, 2008

It's the Costume That Counts

Hey, guess what, former presidential candidate John Edwards, in his smug mea culpa on national television in which he acknowledged to cheating on his wife, fessed up to being a narcissist. Who's he kidding? Doesn't he know that in politics that's not a psychological condition, it's a job description.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Agony of Victory

I have to admit that after the overblown excesses of the opening ceremonies, NBC's Olympics coverage has settled down to a comfortable rhythm and is far superior to that of ABC in previous years. Gone are the tedious, treacly "Up Close and Personal" profiles. Now it's almost a hundred percent athletic events, as it should be, and it's great watching. Only one complaint. I knew it was long distance bicycle racing because the commentators told me, but it was hard to tell bicycles from pushcarts through the Beijing smog.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Bring Home the Gold

After the grotesque and sometimes frightening display of excess that was the opening ceremony of this year's Olympics, it's worth pausing to remember that it was on this day in 1936 that a black American, Jesse Owens, stood on the podium to receive his fourth gold medal, a record at the time. That was in Germany, of course, another nation hell bent for world domination despite the human cost. Meanwhile, Bush was there at the party genially chatting up his friend Vladimir, whose troops had just invaded Georgia.

Friday, August 08, 2008

9.0 From the Chinese Judge

So now we have the Olympics, that great celebration of athleticism and the brotherhood of man. Except that it's bollocks. Where do we start? With the millions that NBC is raking in? Or George W. Bush attending the opening ceremonies but not after roundly criticicizing his hosts? I say drop the nationalism nonsense, drop the tallies to see which country comes out ahead, drop the national anthems, and just let the best athletes from around the world go head to head. In foul air.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Offal Office

I find it astonishing that there's still some 28% of the people in the U.S. who approve of George W. Bush's performance. I suspect it's because they don't really think of him as the president. Everyone knows Dick Cheney is the real Chief Executive, and one in four Americans feel sorry for Bush because they believe he's getting a bum rap. For them, Bush is a friendly guy they'd like to hang out with, maybe spend some time sharing a few beers with while listening to him crack dumb perenniel bar one-liners like, "hey, it's better to get pissed off then pissed on."

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

What Goes Up

In the words of the immortal George Gobel, "inflation is when you have to work like a dog in order to live like a dog."

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Physician, Heal Thyself

"Every morning when I get up I feel nauseous," a patient complained to his doctor. "What should I do?" "That's easy," the doctor replied. "Get up an hour earlier." And then there's the one about the doctor who prescribed hot compresses for a patient's aching neck. " "But, doctor," the man said, "my maid told me to use cold compresses." "Nonsense," the doctor replied, "my gardener says hot, and I believe him."

Monday, August 04, 2008

With Friends Like These

Foreign Affairs has always been a messy business. In 1839 Germany and England signed the Treaty of London, guaranteeing Belgium neutrality. But on August 4, 1914, after having declared war on Russia and France, Germany invaded Belgium. England retaliated by declaring war on Germany. In a classic bit of wounded self-righteousness the German Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg declared, "just for a scrap of paper, Great Britain is going to make war on a kindred nation."

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Puppy Pride

The entire week of campaign coverage was unwittingly summed up without a hint of irony by Chris Matthews's substitute on MSNBC's Hardball. "Why," he asked the Republican and Democrat strategists who were his guests, "with all the important things going on in the world -- Iraq, the economy, gas prices -- are we spending all our time talking about the so-called "race card?" "Because," I wanted to scream at him, "you're the dork who brought it up." There actually was a full day when the media didn't obsess about Obama 's and McCain's sniping. That was Tuesday, the day the "Big One" hit Los Angeles, and the news was dominated by coverage of skin cream bottles that had fallen off the shelf of a Wal Mart.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Fun In the Sun

In the words of the Reverend Henry Beecher Stowe, "There can be no high civlization where there is not ample leisure." (Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit, 1887) Still, it's worth also noting that Benjamin Franklin wrote in Poor Richard's Almanac, "A life of leisure and a life of laziness are two different things."

My apologies for yesterday's hiccup. The good folks at shut us down temporarily because its "spam robot" automatically flagged us as possibly using this blog for spamming. A review gave us a clean bill of health. I'm all for protecting us from spammers, but the amount of junk in my AOL mailbox each day suggests the battle is being lost on some fronts. My Gmail account, however, gets virtually none, so my hat's off to the folks over there.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Til Life Do Us Part

If there's anything that should be outlawed by a constitutional ammendment it's marriage. Think about all the violence that's been caused by people who feel trapped in relationships that they can't get out of without paying lawyers megabucks. Oh sure, breakups would still be messy, but they're going to be anyway, so why not just be able to end it with a tap on the shoulder and a "see ya?" If it was that easy people wouldn't get complacent and overly secure, and they'd all work harder to keep their partners happy. That's the theory anyway.