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, April 30, 2010

Health Care Reform

It's not everyday that you get to tell a member of Stephen Colbert's production staff that Wilford Brimley said to tell Colbert to perform an act of solo sexual gymnastics with a part of the body that might be of interest to a proctologist. Okay, that's not exactly the way Wilford put it, so I had to, well, translate. Today was the day.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Dressing Down

"When seen in the perspective of a half-dozen years or so, the best of our fashions strike us as grotesque, if not unsightly." Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class, 1899.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Hell In a Handbasket

I'm suddenly feeling nostalgic for the days of Masterpiece Theatre, Studio One, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and the like on television. The reason for this sudden plunge down into the murky pool of memory? It was the description in this morning's paper of the prime time, major network airing tonight of a game show called Minute To Win It: A firefighter from Los Angeles must put a lampshade on his head with a fishing rod while blindfolded. Ain't culture great?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Kids Say the Darndest Things

As we speak a 13-year old boy is nearing the summit of Mt. Everest, the youngest person ever to climb it, and a 16-year old girl is halfway around the world in her bid to be the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe solo. Lesser well-publicized is the fact that an 8-month old Sri Lankan infant is poised to become the first human being ever to hit six sewers on a fly in Brooklyn stickball competition.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Party Hearty

I confess, I don't get the Tea Party thing at all. First of all, the Boston Tea Party was about not having a say in things by way of a vote. These jackasses have a vote. Don't they realize the real enemy is the big money interests that render their vote negligible? And they don't like big-spending government? So where were they during the Bush years when the nation debt went crazy? I despair.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Only Yesterday

It's fitting, I think, as we sit in front of our glowing screens connected to the world instantaneously through words, still images, movies, music, and conversations, to remember that today is the 146th anniversary of the birth of Guglielmo Marconi, the man who gave us the miracle of sounds carried through the air. The scary thing is that his invention also made possible Rush Limbaugh.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Acting Out

Danny Kaye once noted that there is a clear difference between Russian comedy and Russian drama. In both everybody dies, but in the comedies they die happy.

Friday, April 23, 2010

From Bed to Worse

A couple on their 75th wedding anniversary were asked what they thought marriage had taught them. "Patience," he replied. "Fortitude," said she.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

What's Mine Is Yours

"I like work. It fascinates me. I can sit and watch people doing it for hours on end." Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men In a Boat, 1889.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Taxing Our Patience

Oscar Wilde, it is said, once protested the taxes he paid on his house. An official told him that while living there he enjoyed the protection and services of the government, even while he slept. "But," Wilde told him, "I sleep terribly."

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Pun in the Sun

Ironies abound. On this date in 1657 Asser Levy and Jacob Barsimon won the right to full citizenship in New Amsterdam, later to be renamed New York, the first Jews to do so. Also on this date, 232 years later, Adolph Hitler was born. Coincidence tells us what, but not why.

Monday, April 19, 2010

What's the Matter With Kids Today?

My kids played terribly Friday, without focus, not the most unusual thing with 14-year old boys. Before today's game I made them stand silently while I led them in a few minutes of guided imagery. Darned if they didn't go out and play beautifully, totally focussed and totally disciplined. I can't whether or not it was the pre-game session that did the trick. What I am sure of is that these kids never experienced anything of the sort before. (Oh, and we won, beating Beverly Hills 6-5.)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Good For the Gander

I don't know why I find the irony of this so delightful, but today is the anniversary of the births of J. Pierpont Morgan (b. 1837) and Nikita Kurshchev (b. 1894). Which reminds me of the useless fact that the Cyrillic alphabet has a letter for the sound "shch," something else that delights me. Okay, I'm easily amused.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Ain't Nature Grand

I've finally come up with a kind of unified field theory of human behavior, explaining why we just cannot and never will get our act together as a successful species, like say, cockroaches. Mankind is doomed by our conflicting impulses, on the one hand noble, on the other selfish. Both are evolved survival strategies, but to keep them in balance we need institutions, like churches and government, and institutions have a tendency to devolve into the opposite of what they were originally meant for. And there you have all of history in a nutshell.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Ear Today, Gone Tomorrow

"The imagination of a boy is healthy, and the mature imagination of a man is healthy, but there is a space of life between, in which the soul is in ferment, the character undecided, the way of life uncertain, the ambition thicksighted." John Keats, Preface to Endymion, 1818.

I've coached high school boys as well as 5th and 6th graders. This season, for the first time, I'm coaching 13 and 14 year olds and I can attest that no words are truer.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cordon Blechh

"We may live without friends; we may live without books,
 But civilized man cannot live without cooks."
                             E.R. Bulwer-Lytton, 1860

Yeah, tell that to the folks at Kentucky Fried Chicken who came up with the gloppy, fat saturated mess they're calling the "Double Down." (As in double the risk of blocked arteries, hard to keep down?")

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On

I admit to a fascination with earthquakes. For the life of me, I don't think I can dive under a desk or doorway when the shaking starts. I'm far too seized with wonder at the planet rolling around and lurching beneath me. When I was developing my Frank Lloyd Wright one-man play I once gave a reading of the script to a group of architects in an up-scale Brentwood home. Just when I got to the part where Wright says there's no such thing as a natural disaster, only forces of change, like earthquakes, the house started shaking. After several seconds, during which the assembled remained frozen in place, I ad libbed, "that effect cost plenty, believe me!"

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Caveat Emptor

My wife and I once were looking to buy a piece of property outside Rome that belonged to the local parish. It was for sale because the church in the small village desperately needed a new roof. For the sale to be approved, we had to meet with the regional bishop in his elegant villa. He seemed like a nice fellow, but it was hard not to be bowled over by the disconnect between this bejeweled man, surrounded by elegant furniture and magnificent works of art, and the poor folks of the village who just wanted to keep the rain out on Sundays.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Burning Bright

Pretty incredible, isn't it? Today is the 149th anniversary of the beginning of the War Between the States. One African-American is president and another, married to a white woman, is lionized for cheating on her with a parade of white trash, We've come a long way, baby.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Santa Baby

Teddy Roosevelt said (1903): "Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing." What he failed to say was that "work worth doing" meant busting one's butt for meager returns so his buddies the Astors, Vanderbilts, et al could build their fortunes.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Hare Today, Gone Tomorrow

This morning's Los Angeles Times has a story about a California physician who was dispensing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of drugs illegally to addicts from his "Kind Care Clinic." And if that's not enough to make you blink in disbelief, the friendly doc's name is Healy. As Dave Barry says, I'm not making this up.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Trippingly On the Tongue

"There are no small actors, only small roles," the great Russian director and acting teacher is reputed to have said. I prefer my version: there are no small actors, only small salaries."

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Shake, Rattle, and Roll

So much for my belief that I could remain emotionally disconnected from the Tiger Woods media vaudeville. Nike has a commercial out that suddenly, unexpectedly raised my bile. In it an unsmiling Tiger in black and white stares at the camera while a gently paternal voiceover of his father assures him he will be inquisitive but not judgmental. Presumably it's intended to evoke sympathy for the "fallen" golfer, but its real intention is to exploit the late Earl Woods in an attempt by both Tiger and Nike to get the money train back on track. Yucch.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Free Money Machine

"If you would know the value of money, go and try to borrow some." Benjamin Franklin, The Way to Wealth, 1757.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Egg-ony and the Ecstasy

As the old question goes: walk south a mile, east a mile, and north a mile and you find yourself right back where you started. Where are you? The answer, of course, is the North Pole, reached for the first time 101 years ago today by Robert Peary and Matthew Henson. My question is, after that three mile trek how would you know you were back where you started?

Monday, April 05, 2010

Our Father Who Art Ticked Off

No comment. (Or to put it more precisely, I'll let the 'toon do the talking for me.)