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 *).

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Family Planting

The story of the woman who gave birth to octuplets has been dominating the news the past few days. She has remained anonymous, but it turns out she already had six children. Now we learn she was taking fertility drugs and was artificially inseminated from an unknown sperm donor. It's a triumph of will over shouldn't.

Friday, January 30, 2009

A Walk On the Wild Side

Rev. Ted Haggard is back in the news. While fresh allegations have broken about his relationship with a young male church member, he's busy doing a media blitz to promote an HBO documentary about his deceptions and lies. Meanwhile, Bloggo, former governor of Illinois, has taken his case to the public by way of the talk shows. It all seems a little strange, this frenetic selling of one's own descent into the inferno. I expect they'll both be hosting Saturday Night Live some time soon, and do hilarious skits about sex with call boys and lining one's pockets by selling out a high office.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Putting the Fun Back In Funeral

The student asked his professor why it was the ancient prophets in the Bible and even the dinosaurs lived so much longer than we do. "Because," said the professor, "they didn't know they weren't supposed to."

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bon Appetit

Here's one of my mother's favorite jokes: A young man in New York City leaves home in the Bronx to start life on his own in Manhattan, but every Wednesday he returns to his mother's house for dinner. On one of these occasions his mother asks him how things are going.
"I quit my job," the young man answers.
"Put down that pork chop."

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Big Dawg Who Art In Heaven

I'm amused at the media attention a youngster from Pasadena has been receiving lately because of his efforts to stamp out cursing. Having won the support, presumably, of his friends and schoolmates, he now has a website with tens of thousands of loyal followers worldwide. He's even written and recorded a rap song that serves as a kind of anthem for the cause. A rap song? Without the f***, b*****, w****, and s*** words? Isn't that like clam chowder without clams, or vegetarian beef stew? Meanwhile, I saw a headline lately that caught my attention. "Prince Harry Humped By Girlfriend" I read. A second look proved I'd misread. The word was "dumped."

Monday, January 26, 2009

Dear Old Mom

Chimpanzees can paint pictures, but you'll notice they're only interesting to human beings, not to other chimpanzees.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Those Who Can, Do

In The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson, 1984, Mark Twain wrote, "Training is everything. The peach was once a bitter almond; cauliflower is cabbage with a college education." On the other hand, it was Frank Lloyd Wright who said that "a prune is nothing but a plum with a degree."

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Dream On

It amuses me briefly that some commentators have been criticizing Pres. Barack Obama's inaugural speech as not containing enough soaring rhetoric. I say "amuses me" because it's so expected that there will be dunderheads on both the left and the right who can't see the audience for the seats, who fail to separate decor from form. I say "briefly" because amusement quickly gives way to annoyance. Right now the one word I'd like to see erased from the vocabulary of all talking heads is "symbolism."

Friday, January 23, 2009

Fight or Flight

The boy had spent the day with his parents at Disneyland, where he had consumed massive amounts of every kind of junk food available. When the family got home the boy's father found him raiding the refrigerator. "How can you be hungry?" his father asked. "You've had cheeseburgers and fries, nachos, popcorn, cotton candy, soda, ice cream, and now you're eating again." "Oh," said the boy, "I was just working up an appetite."

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Very Happy Hour

It was suggested to Howie that he had a drinking problem and would be well advised to seek some kind of help. "I got no drinking problem," Howie insisted. "I drink, I get drunk, I fall down. No problem."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Greyed Expectations

Yesterday's ubiquitous security presence in Washington, much of it unseen, reminds me of my neighbor who worked for years in the federal building in Los Angeles. Her office was down the hall from the local Secret Service branch office. The day Ronald Reagan was shot my neighbor had heard the news and went down the hall to find out more. The Secret Service guys looked up from their poker game surprised. Nobody had told them.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hail to the Chief

Two phenomena stand out for me this morning, both sources of endless amazement. One, I'm struck by how television has brought its years of experience covering epic events to the task of turning thirty extraordinary seconds, the administering of the presidential oath of office, into hours and hours of tedious fill. Second, I'm overwhelmed at how many times reporters can ask African-Americans "What does this day mean to you?" with the smug confidence that they're the first person to come up with the question.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Music Hath Charms

"Take a music-bath once or twice a week for a few seasons, and you'll find that it is to the soul what the water-bath is to the body." Oliver Wendell Holmes, 1891.

"Hell is filled with musical amateurs. Music is the brandy of the damned." George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, 1903.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Take Me Out

Thanks to Molly Shmednik's dawdling, which never failed to infuriate her husband Herman, the Shmedniks finally arrived at the baseball stadium an hour after the game had begun. It was an exciting pitchers' battle, going into the bottom of the sixth when they finally settled into their seats. "Oh good," said Molly to Herman, it's still 0-0. We haven't missed a thing."

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Yolk's On You

Today being the birth date of Benjamin Franklin, I take this occasion once again to remind myself that it was he who wrote, "A word to the wise is enough, and many words won't fill a bushel." Which recalls George Bernard Shaw's words, written to a friend, "This letter would be shorter, but I don't have enough time."

Friday, January 16, 2009

Something's In the Air

Science is the never-ending quest to prove facts, and the absolute refusal to respect facts as anything else but things that must be disproven.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Made In Heaven

It is said that Lady Astor was once listening to Winston Churchill holding forth at a social gathering. After growing more and more angry over the views he was expressing, she blurted out, "My dear Mr. Churchill, if you were my husband I'd put poison in your coffee." To which Churchill replied, "if you were my wife I'd gladly drink it."

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Store the Acorns

As things go from bad to worse, economists are madly turning again to the theories of John Maynard Keynes, who argued that contrary to what one might think, the way out of a financial crisis is for government to spend like crazy in order to get things back on an even keel. Keynesian theory might have made sense in other times, but our government has already been spending like crazy. The point is to encourage people to spend, rather than do what people used to do, which is save money against a rainy day. But people have been spending, and getting deeper and deeper into debt. Ergo, disaster on top of disaster, like a sundae made of chocolate sauce with chocolate sauce poured over it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Price of Fame

The price of the daily Los Angeles Times went up from 50 cents to 75 this week, a 50 percent raise. Geniuses. What do you do when business gets bad? It's obvious, raise the price and give people less for their money. That ought to get things going again. Tomorrow The Fool will explain why the economists and politicians who are now embracing Keynsian theory as a way out of the financial mess are doomed to failure. What does all this have to do with today's cartoon? Absolutely nothing, but buy my book.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Out of This World

"The poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;
And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name."
William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Can't We All Get Along?

We live in a strange world, and whether or not people wish to realize it, human beings exist in an uneasy truce with one another. It's why we have policemen and laws. The Chuck-E-Cheese chain
of pizza joints catering largely to birthday parties is experiencing an upswing in violent fistfights in their establishments. Apparently they're started by divorced parents showing up at the same celebration.

Another milestone: today is the fool's 800th post without missing a day. And if you've forgotten or misplaced the link, our book Out of Order is available by going to

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Big Bang

"It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world." George Washington, Farewell Address, September 1796.

Friday, January 09, 2009

This Petty Pace

The average elephant lives longer than the average human being. Some people will tell you it proves there may be some benefit to working for peanuts, but others will argue that the secret of a long life is to have a thick skin.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Price Is Right

Knee-jerk reactions, or just jerks. The haste with which our lawmakers race headlong into bad decisions is staggering. They tumbled all over themselves giving Bush the authority to take us to war, and they threw money at wall street like it was a ticker tape parade. It's not quite the same level, but the lack of clear thinking about seating Senate-appointee Roland Burris is the same. There's no legal reason not to seat the man. He was named by a sitting governor who's been accused but not convicted of anything, and whatever anyone thinks of Blag-whateverhisnameis it's a separate issue entirely. These people in Washington scare the crap out of me.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

It's In the Past

Winston Churchill once suggested that history would treat him kindly. "How can you be so sure?" he was asked. "Because," he said, "I intend to write it."

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

A Dog's Life

My little wire-haired dachshund Zuzu has me totally trained now. She refuses to eat dog food, so I must prepare her dinner every evening from fresh ingredients. Among her favorite meals is Asian-style beef or chicken with vegetables and rice. She won't eat from a dog dish, but insists on a plate, and now will sit next to her meal waiting for me to feed her by hand. Dog "experts" tell me what I'm doing is wrong. Why, I wonder? Because it's bad for the dog, or less easy for me?

Monday, January 05, 2009

Light Up My Life

"Opinion has caused more trouble on this earth than plagues or earthquakes. -- Moliere, Jan. 5, 1759.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Sew What Ye Shall Rip

A group of congregants was asked by their pastor if they prayed regularly to God and all nodded their heads vigorously. He then asked what they prayed for. Some said it was health, others for world peace, still others for eternal salvation. So it went until there was one fellow left who still hadn't responded. When the pastor turned to him he replied, "I believe in God. I just keep praying for some sign he believes in me."

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Photo Finish

Apropos of nothing, and signifying less, it's worth remembering that on this day in 1882 Oscar Wilde declared to U.S. Customs in New York, "I have nothing to declare but my genius."

Friday, January 02, 2009

The Write Stuff

So the California legislature has now presumably rectified its mistake. In passing a law last year banning the use of cellphones while driving, it neglected to also ban the practice of flying along a freeway at 65-plus miles an hour while exchanging messages with others using a tiny screen and nine tiny keys. I'm imagining our lawmakers failed to image the possibility than anybody could be that stupid. As of yesterday the practice is against the law, which means the meatheads will now have to master the art of doing it surrepticiously.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year

It's appropriate that January is named for the two-faced Roman god Janus, with one face looking forward and one back. It's that time of year when we obsessively look backward and ruminate on the kind of year it's been, and forward hopefully at the year to come. This year is especially poignant, as everyone prays the economy will get sorted out so we can go back mindlessly to making the mistakes that got us into this mess in the first place.