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 *).

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What's the Big Deal?

In 1752 Britain and her colonies got with much of the rest of the world and adopted the Gregorian calendar, thus abandoning the Old Style Julian calendar that had been around since 46 B.C. By decree of Parliament Thursday, September 14 followed Wednesday, September 2. As a result, 11 days were dropped altogether, sparking riots in the streets by mobs who were afraid they were losing almost two weeks of their lives. My point is that the calendar is entirely arbitrary. Were this 257 years ago, we would have already celebrated New Year's Day. It's all arbitrary, a bit like excluding same-sex couples from marriage.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Order Out of Order

The impoverished son of an impoverished family was asked how it was that in the so-called "land of opportunity" he had remained penniless for so long. "You have to remember," he answered, "I had a headstart."

Shameless Commerce Division of The Fool's Journey: Out of Order is now available at by clicking on the link at:

Or contact me directly about getting autographed copies.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Take Debate

"As soon
Seek roses in December--ice in June;
Hope constancy in wind, or corn in chaff,
Believe a woman or an epitaph,
Or any other thing that's false, before
You trust in Critics."
--Lord Byron, 1809

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Angels We Have Heard on High

"Methadone as a cure for drug addiction," said Dr. Smith to Dr. Jones, an advocate of the treatment, "is like saying if you can't beat 'em join 'em." "No," replied Dr. Jones, "it's more like taking rat poison away from a baby and substituting a teething ring."

Saturday, December 27, 2008

All the World's a Stage

It was Oscar Wilde who once commented after the opening of a new production that "the play was a success, but the audience was a failure."

Friday, December 26, 2008

Weather or Not

Today is Boxing Day in England, so-called because it's the day when people pack up the gifts they don't want and give them to the servants. Over here we give them to our in-laws and call it "getting rid of the crap we don't want."

Thursday, December 25, 2008

But Once a Year

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Something Rotten

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There's something curious going on, and the media haven't picked up on it yet. I've noticed that even after the election I've continued to receive e-mails daily from the Obama campaign, as if nobody ever informed the squirrels in the basement in front of the computers that he already got elected. Now I run into a neighbor while dog walking who tells me I really must come to one of the local Obama weekly meetings. Meetings? We're just getting through with W's Imperial Presidency, now we have organizing on a community level? What's next? Comintern?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Good For the Gander

A journalist and an accountant were riding in a car together and passed a flock of sheep. "Look," said the journalist, "the sheep have all been shorn." "On this side anyway," the accountant replied.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Santa Baby

This is a good time to remind everyone that jolly old Saint Nicholas is not only the patron saint of children, but also pawnbrokers. I guess the lesson here is that it's alright to go into hock at Christmastime. I wonder who the patron saint of eating too much is.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Ups and Downs

Today is Forefather's Day, an annual event that sadly gets lost when it comes to the madness of the so-called "holiday" season. Forefather's Day, not to be confused with Four Feather's Day, commemorates the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth in 1620. It brings to mind a remark once made by the late Whitney M. Young Jr. "Only some of us are descended from those who arrived on the Mayflower," he said, "but we're all in the same boat now."

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Home On the Range

Wouldn't you know it? While the rest of the country goes through a financial meltdown, folks are losing their jobs, other are being foreclosed on, and most are going through belt tightening, Congress voted themselves a pay raise. Those are the same guys who lectured the auto company execs about making too much money.

You can visit my book's webpage at but the links to Amazon and Barnes and Noble won't be functioning for a while. In the meantime, Out of Order can be ordered directly through me by clicking on "Contact the Author" on the page.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Getting a Head in Life

For those interested in numerology, this post is the Fool's 777th, without missing a day. This is supposed to be very good luck, which makes it an excellent day for me to announce happily that my book of cartoons, Out of Order, a collection selected from the past two years, is now available. I'll have more information forthcoming about how one can buy it. Signed copies can be obtained directly through me, by e-mailing me at Forgive me for this, my blatant plunge into commerciality.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

To the Finish

The fascinating thing about democracy is its contradictions. Everyone seems agreed that governments need to maintain a certain amount of secrecy, and yet a free society demands that we have all the information when we step into the voting booth to make our choices. Now we have freedom of speech coming up against good taste. A man in New Jersey has given his son the names Adolph Hitler and has sparked outrage. His reason? "Nobody else will have that name."

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Feet First

On one of the many occasions that Albert Einstein was asked to explain relativity he answered, "Think about when you're rushing to make a plane. You have only two minutes to get through check-in. Those two minutes don't mean very much to the clerk, but to you they flash by in an instant. That's relativity."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

It Begins At Home

"No man can be a good citizen unless he has a wage more than sufficient to cover the bare cost of living, and hours of labor short enough so that after his day's work is done he will have time and energy to bear his share in the management of the community, to help in carrying the general load. We keep countless men from being good citizens by the conditions of life with which we surround them." Theodore Roosevelt, August 31, 1910

Monday, December 15, 2008

She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain

As I was reading yesterday's New York Times interview with Clint Eastwood, I came across this quote from producer Brian Glazer: "What most interested me about Clint Eastwood as a director is the honesty and insanity he injects into the movies that he directs. Insanity? Fascinating, I thought, now that's something I've never seen in an Eastwood movie, and went back to reread the sentence. It turns out I'd misread the word. It was "intensity."

Sunday, December 14, 2008

'Tis the Seasoning

The people you hear weeping and wailing most about the current financial meltdown are those with the most to loss, i.e. with the most money, biggest houses, and lavish yachts. You know how the rich could bail everyone else out? Get rid of half their stuff by selling it to the Saudis and then spread the proceeds around as a Christmas gift to the country. Ho ho ho.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


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My favorite all-time art story is about the man who painted incredibly realistic, correct-size bills in various denomination, ones, fives, tens, and twenties, always being careful to include some small, barely noticeable flaw. He then traded them for goods, never making any pretense that they were anything else but original works of art. The feds predictably tried to nail him for counterfeiting, but the judge threw the case out. That's one for our side.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Business As Usual

A well-known man of the cloth was asked once if he prayed for our government leaders. "No," he answered, "given what I know about our leaders, I pray for the country."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Crescat Scientia

"Nine tenths of modern science is in this respect the same: it is the produce of men whom their contemporaries thought dreamers -- who were laughed at for caring what did not concern them -- who, as the proverb went, 'walked into a well from looking at the stars' -- who were believed to be useless, if anyone could be such." Walter Bagehot, The English Constitution, 1867.

The banker asks "how much?" The scientist asks "how come?"

To err is human, to make a habit of it is science.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Onward and Downward

When I was in college it was strictly verboten to bring booze into the football stadium. A group of my friends and I learned of a way to beat the rule. We got some grapefruits and pumped them with vodka using a syringe. Once in our seats in the stadium we cracked them open. To our dismay they virtually exploded, spraying us with vodka. Nobody told us you had to extract some of the juice first to relieve the pressure. That's what college is for, isn't it? To learn?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Forgive Us Our Trespasses

In a remote third world country the dictator decided he wanted the sun to stand still in the sky, so he passed a law to that effect. But the sun continued to rise in the east and set in the west every day, just like always. In a rage, the dictator called in his advisors to find out what could be done about this insubordination. "Your Excellence," the head of his privy council told him nervously, the problem is with the law itself. You can't blame the sun. "Ignornace of the law," thundered the dictator, "is no excuse."

Monday, December 08, 2008

Veni, Vidi, Vichysoise

And on another note, today is the birthdate of Horace, the great Roman poet, born in Venusia in the Roman Empire in 65 B.C. This sounds a special chord for me, since as I pound out this homily every morning I'm ever mindful of his immortal words, "Brevis esse laboro, Obscurus fio."

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Two For the Show

Remarkably, I haven't decided yet whether the Big 3 automakers should be bailed out or not. I say "remarkably," because as you may have figured out, I'm rarely without an opinion of some sort, even an uninformed one. Often an uninformed one. Having said that, I admit that I do lean heavily toward cutting them loose and letting them sink or swim. The vaudeville turn that Congress and the auto execs are doing is disquieting. After being soundly booed for recently jetting into Washington on their flying yachts, hats in hand, with no plan for what to do with their money, they drove to Washington in hybrids this week to try again. Well, they were driven. And not exactly like Okies crossing the dust bowl. But this time you can be sure they'll get their money. This isn't leadership. It's opera bouffe. Oh, and their cars will wind up in the Smithsonian.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Eyes Have It

I was in my forties when I discovered I needed reading glasses. I can't remember how long I'd remained oblivious to the fact that my eyesight was getting worse, and then one evening I was in a restaurant with my mother, my older brother his family, and friends. My brother watched me struggling to read the menu in the dim light, and after a few minutes quietly handed me his glasses and said, "try these." ""Oh no," I replied, "I don't need glasses." "Just try them," my brother insisted. I did, and it was like one of those moments in a movie where the blind man recovers his sight. I wanted to leap from the table shouting, "I can see, I can see!"

Friday, December 05, 2008

Give Him a Hand

An author went to a publisher with a new book he'd written on dieting called The Hundred Years Diet. "But the public wants a dieting book that tells how to lose weight quickly," the publisher said. "Yes," said the author, "but mine tells you how long you have to stay on the diet to avoid getting your weight back."

Thursday, December 04, 2008

A Wok On the Wild Side

Today is the 141st anniversary of Edison's phonograph, a fact that gives me pause. When I was a small lad we still had 78 rpm records, just a short step from the gramophone. My parents had a player that ran on electricity, but we were still a couple of years away from having a changer, and meanwhile I suffered with my wind-up. When the 33 rpm record came along it was a technological miracle. It's a long way from people walking the streets with a wire dangling from their ears and a blank, distant stare on their faces.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Mouths of Babes

A teacher assigned her young charges to write an essay entitled "My Favorite Room." When Horace turned in his paper he received an F. His father came the school to find out why, so the teacher showed him the paper. "He deserves an A for this," Horace's father said when he read it, "not an F." He pointed out that it was a perfectly acceptable response to the topic suggested by the title. "I like my room," Horace had written, "just the way it is."

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

By Any Other Name

It's like a Monty Python skit. For over a year the economy has been inexorably sliding downhill while government officials, economists, and pundits have argued about whether or not we were in a recession yet. Meanwhile, the folks in the Federal Bureau of Economic Research, who presumably have the last word on this, kept saying nope, not yet, until the other day, that is, when they declared, "oh, by the way, we just decided we've been in a recession since this time last year." I wonder if they were able to keep a straight face when they said it.

Monday, December 01, 2008

The Way To a Man's Heart

My favorite all-time recipe direction came from my wife's Tuscan grandmother. I once asked her how much milk she put into a certain dish and she replied, "four mouthfuls." She came to visit my wife and I in Rome years ago. We asked her once if she would mind cooking dinner, since we were both going to be out of the house all day. She was delighted. We came home that evening to discover she'd spent the day cheerfully cooking everything on hand, several days worth of food. It was normal for her. She'd raised a houseful of children without the benefit of refrigeration, and preparing an abundant amount of food was the only way she knew how to do it.