Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Via Barry, here's an interesting blog post that expands a bit more on what I was saying about the new Uhura in the Star Trek movie. The main argument about Uhura is a few paragraphs down.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
I love how Congress decided to rescind the gun ban in national parks RIGHT BEFORE I GO ON A TRIP THROUGH AMERICA'S NATIONAL PARKS. Fortunately, the law won't take effect until February, so I won't need to whip out the Killer Weenies. Yes, I am aware of the argument that guns help "good people" defend themselves in the wild. I am also aware that I live in the country, where people fire guns all the time, sometimes stupidly close to my house. In the real world, "good people" often have "accidents."
The Cannibal Corpse lyrics in the Death Metal Campfire Songs gag are from the song "Dormant Bodies Bursting" off of Gore Obsessed.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Continuing with this week's theme of criticizing things that everybody likes but me, I would like to give my opinion of the new Star Trek movie. What J.J. Abrams has done is take the original, contemplative Star Trek and Poochified it.
I trust if you're reading this blog, you are familiar with Poochie from The Itchy & Scratchy Show on The Simpsons. Poochie was a contrived "cool" character brought onto the show to boost ratings. Everyone hated Poochie, though. The young, cocky, frat-Kirk as played by Chris Pine is essence of Poochie, if you ask me.
While the movie isn't awful as a pure action flick, let's just say I stand by this prediction from my New Year comic I drew for C-VILLE Weekly:
Oh, and don't get me started on the gender stuff. The original Star Trek was remarkably progressive in its day; to honor that, Abrams could have thrown in at least a couple interesting female leads. This is the age of Battlestar Galactica, baby. We can handle a Captain Thrace or two. The fact that Uhura is portrayed as a "smart" piece of ass does not quite cut it. Nichelle Nichols was better. So congrats, J.J.! You've "rebooted" the franchise back to the 1950s! Talk about time travel...
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
I really didn't want to write any more about LOLcats, but my friend August has penned an impassioned defense on their behalf, and in so doing, has set up a couple of straw cats I wish to rebut:
1. I do not think the LOLcats are a threat to the livelihood of cartoonists. I was mostly lamenting the fact that the humor sections of mainstream bookstores are filled with books that pander to certain "safe" demographics -- cat lovers, dog lovers, parents, etc. Ruben Bolling's All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned From My Golf-Playing Cats parodies this phenomenon.
2. I never dissed the Roomba cat. The Roomba cat is very funny, as is the stalker cat. (The keyboard cat, I would say not so much.) I like me a funny animal video as much as anyone. Really, I'm OK with internet memes as long as they are truly amusing. Although I do think that a culture that only privileges the viral -- the simple, easy-to-understand entertainment nugget -- is cause for concern. (See: cable news)
3. My dog is using my leg as a pillow right now in a manner that is distractingly cute. So you see, I do have a soul.
4. I think the thing that annoys me most about the LOLcats is the babytalk. I can understand how people think it's funny, but my primary response is revulsion. Also, August is right to state their ubiquity -- and lack of critics -- irritates me. Can I get a witness?
5. Meowcenaries is awesome. Peace offering accepted!
[UPDATE: Seems I have a witness in Mr. Bors. Although he's being a tad uncharitable.]
Yesterday's Business section of the NYT had a couple articles that made me chuckle. One article described the "virtual goods" market on Facebook, which I addressed back in '07 with this cartoon. Check this out:
Facebook sold some $40 million worth of virtual gifts last year, according to analysts... The overall virtual goods market on Facebook is expected to bring in $500 million this year, according to executives at Super Rewards, a company that sells virtual currency.Damn! Maybe I should start selling the idea of cartoons instead.
There was also this article about the current struggles of Wired Magazine. Last year I blogged (skeptically) about a cover story by editor Chris Anderson touting FREE! as the "future of business." Here's how Anderson is dealing with Wired's money problems:
As for the free theory, Mr. Anderson is actually considering the opposite. He is weighing raising the price or straying from the traditional magazine business model with ideas like tiered pricing with different benefits.I must admit to a wry, knowing nod or two.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Let me state up front that this is not about hating on cats. If anything, I am defending the dignity of our feline friends. No, this cartoon is about comedy. Comedy in an age where publishers chase after viral websites, hoping to cash in on a zeitgeist while it's still hot. In a way, I can't blame them. Cats with tiny pancakes on their forehead are probably all that's keeping them afloat right now. If you can't beat 'em, though, at least you can insult them. Personally, my cynical cartoonist sensibilities make the post-ironic cutism of the LOLcats hard to stomach. (If you want a good cat book, see B. Kliban's sellout masterpiece, "Cat.")
One reader who wrote me a confused-sounding email in which he both complimented and insulted me, had this to say:
Why be mad at the cheezeburger cat book? Isn't it more fun to celebrate it than hate it?No. It is more fun to hate it.
[PS: Some commenters seem to think I'm "jealous" of the cat books. Right now, on the "Stuff on My Cat" website, there is a photo of a cat hugging a stuffed rabbit with the caption "You're nobody till some bunny loves you." No, I'm not jealous of that. I think "disappointed in humanity" is more like it. Somebody has to say it!]
Monday, May 18, 2009
Today I attended the Emily Couric Leadership Luncheon, named after Katie Couric's late sister who was a state senator from my area. I was kindly invited by a delegate who I interviewed on the floor at the Democratic National Convention last August.
The organization was honoring journalist Kimberly Dozier, who was severely injured in a 2006 bombing in Iraq. Dozier flatlined five times, but today she can walk again, and she even completed a marathon.
Makes you think: those unpaid "citizen journalists" and "information curators" who will report the news in the future better start saving for Kevlar vests, since they'll be doing similar work, right?
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Bumper stickers spotted side-by-side on a pickup truck last night:
"I'M A TEAMSTER AND I VOTE"
"McCAIN-PALIN"Why not save space with one sticker? "I'M PRO-LABOR AND I VOTE AGAINST IT."
A couple years ago, I noticed the book Stuff on My Cat featured prominently in the humor section of my local B&N. Then More Stuff on My Cat. Then came the heavily-advertised novel Dewey: The Small Town Library Cat Who [ugh] Touched the World. Then the cringe-inducing -- and bestselling -- I Can Haz Cheezburger? book. And now, with my last book having disappeared from the shelves, we get Wet Cats, yet another emission from the Stuff On My Cat guy. As a humorist trafficking in such arcana as "words" and "opinions," I think it's time for Stuff on My Stuff on My Cat Book. The "stuff" could consist of a steamroller, the Atlantic Ocean, ten tons of untreated sewer sludge. You get the idea.
(NOTE: In no way do I advocate running over cats with steamrollers. I only wish to flatten the cloyingly cute picture books.)
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
This week's strip was apparently posted to a couple social bookmarking sites in Iceland. I've gotten thousands of hits from Icelanders since yesterday -- and considering Iceland only has 320,000 people, that would mean at least 1% of the population has seen my cartoon. I eagerly await my personal email from Björk!
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
I've been thinking lately about the inordinate amount of time I spend on the internet, and how none of my best memories have taken place in front of a computer screen. I do, however, have some fond memories of reading physical books -- Huck Finn one spring in high school, 1984 on the beach, and so on. Maybe it would be the same with the Kindle, I don't know. But I recently read some quote from Jeff Bezos about realizing the dream of a paperless society, and I was like, "Your dream, not mine, you little bald butthead." (I will probably see Bezos speak in person at a conference in a few weeks, where I will try to refrain from calling him that.) Ever notice that the people most excited about a paperless world tend to be those who stand to benefit from it economically?
But back to my main point: I do not want to spend every moment of my life staring at a frakkin' screen. I spend enough time working at my computer that prefer not to spend most of my leisure time there as well. Again, this is not to say I don't waste unbelievable amounts of time on the web -- I do -- but I'm happiest in meatspace.
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
It's hard to make mutual funds linked to genocide terribly funny, so I don't expect this one to rocket up the charts of lightly amusing internet fare. But I do find this subject upsetting, especially since Vanguard's board is pooh-poohing a shareholder proposal to divest from Petrochina. Other heavies like Fidelity, Warren Buffet, and Harvard have already dumped the stock. I've always thought of Vanguard as being a notch above the other companies, since it's owned by its shareholders (kinda like a credit union) and stands philosophically opposed to the sort of speculative, short-term market piggery that got us into our current crisis. So it's disappointing to hear them take the head-in-the-sand approach on this.
One commenter on a Huffpo article (which I can't link to because Huffpo refuses to pay cartoonists) says:
"when i invest my money, i want profits. when i feel charitable, i pay to charities. no use mixing up the two."This is the banality of evil in a nutshell. As long as you're dealing with abstract numbers, it's all good, man! Yet these same people would probably balk at handing an assault rifle to a Sudanese militia fighter out to mow down Darfuris. At least, I hope they would.
Monday, May 04, 2009
Longtime readers know I've been remarking on the ironic mustache phenomenon for quite some time. I recently had the opportunity to sport my very own 'stache -- or handlebar goatee, as it were -- when they were being given out as party favors at a fundraiser for a local arts center. Please note that I am wearing the ironic goatee ironically.
Speaking of ladies with fake facial hair, did you see that photo of Bjork in the NYT with the enormous mane and wispy beard? Fascinating. (I can't find it to link to it, so you'll have to trust me.)
Sunday, May 03, 2009
I haven't seen the print edition yet, but people tell me my article takes up most of a page. I'm guessing they ran the strip large, which would be cool.
Saturday, May 02, 2009
Man, the Times must be really desperate for ad revenue. Did y'all catch that crazy full-pade ad in yesterday's print edition? The one touting "Free armored safes being doled out to public" like some sort of government cheese? The ad, from a private company, promises a Presidential Armored Safe to anyone who buys a 4,100-coin "hoard" of uncirculated coins. (The hoard costs just 19 payments of $98 each).
The caption to the top photo, of a woman knocking on the door of a closed bank, intones: "SHOULD HAVE HAD MONEY IN A SAFE." The big photo in the middle looks heavily Photoshopped to me, with the reflections all wrong on the safes in front. And the final photo shows a smiling old lady -- presumably the ad's target market -- having a safe delivered to her doorstep. "I'll also set aside some of my hoard for my grandchildren" she says.
Of course, the ad becomes a bit less amusing when you realize there are probably plenty of clueless people who will fall for it. Some quick Google research reveals the company has been making dubious sales pitches for some time now. But hey, no one can steal a safe, right? It's not like thieves have dollies or anything.
Friday, May 01, 2009
Word on the street is that a little interview with yours truly will appear in this Sunday's Washington Post Style & Arts section. I'll link to the online version here, but if you get the print edition, check it out.
[UPDATE: Here's the link. I like the title: "Sister, Can You Spare a Smile?"]
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