Sunday, October 28, 2018

Poetry Sunday

Yesterday we celebrated the birthday (in 1914) of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, who wrote many stirring and thoughtful poems, as well as the classic "A Child's Christmas in Wales" that was always a holiday favorite in our home when I was growing up. This week for Poetry Sunday, we revisit one of Dylan Thomas's most famous poems ...

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night
by Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

To hear Dylan Thomas reciting this poem, go here.

Have a good day and enjoy the rest of your weekend. More thoughts coming.


Saturday, October 27, 2018

Cartoon Saturday

Welcome to our cold, wet Saturday, courtesy of the season's first nor'easter.

The Trump administration has given notice that it will pull the US out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, claiming that the Russians are not observing it; a quick arrest was made in the case of pipe bombs mailed to a group of prominent Democratic/liberal figures, including former President Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former CIA director John Brennan, and liberal donor George Soros - Donald Trump blamed Democrats and the media, while his supporters and the conservative media suggested a "false flag" effort on the part of the Democrats to sabotage Republican election chances; from the Department of the Fox Minding the Henhouse, the government of Saudi Arabia announced that it would try the individuals charged in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi; and grandstanding lawyer Michael Avenatti and his client were referred for criminal prosecution by Senate Judiciary Committee chair Chuck Grassley on a charge of providing false statements to Congress ... Republicans being well able to recognize a false statement when it does not come from Donald Trump.

Halloween is just days away, and today marks the final part of our annual Cartoon Saturday Halloween Extravaganza. This week, everybody's favorite bloodsuckers ... no, not tax collectors, vampires ...

It helps to be specific ...

I guess you could call it false advertising ...

Vampire memes ...

When vampires need to take it outside ...

Good idea ...

Didn't know vampires could have diet problems, did you? ...

Happy hour down at the Creaky Coffin ...

It can be tough being a gourmet vampire ...

Some students just don't get it ...

Vampires have GPS apps, too ...

And that rounds out our annual Halloween Extravaganza here on Cartoon Saturday ... over the last four weeks we've honored Godzilla, Frankenstein, Witches, and Vampires as we get ready for the spooky season. I hope you enjoyed them.

Have a good day and a great weekend. Come back tomorrow for Poetry Sunday, when we visit Welsh poet Dylan Thomas in honor of his birthday ... which is actually today. See you then.


Friday, October 26, 2018

The Left-Cheek Ass Clown for October, 2018

Well, Dear Readers, today is Friday, October 26th - the last Friday in October, and eleven days until the midterm elections. If you are like me (and if you're reading this, you probably are, at least in part), you're utterly sick of brainless political attack ads, candidates who can't answer a simple question without telling you how bad his (or her) opponent is, and the supreme annoyance of door-to-door vote wranglers who can't answer basic questions about their preferred candidates.

All this means that it's been relatively easy to pick

The Left-Cheek Ass Clown for October, 2018

and the award goes - in a tie - to

The Republican and the Democratic Parties

It would be easy and satisfying to present this award to the GOP alone, simply on the basis of its shameless hypocrisy and betrayal of true and laudable conservative principles. This, however, would ignore the fact that the Democratic Party has failed utterly to present a comprehensive and rational program that could present liberal principles and goals in a defensible way. If Republicans have reduced their program to simple bumper stickers ("America First," "I'm a Nationalist," "Democrats Are Evil Incarnate"), the Democrats don't even have enough of a coherent program to fill a single bumper sticker.

Republicans and Democrats rely on demonizing each other, rather than on explaining in clear and precise English exactly what they want to do, why it's better than the specific programs advocated by their opposition, and how they propose to pay for it all. "Make America Great Again" is a great mantra for mindless chanting by armies of true believers, but it's no more a blueprint for useful action than is "Medicare for All" or any other Democratic line.

One might wish that the Libertarians could provide some adult options, but that's a forlorn hope. Libertarian belief in a world of near-zero government and limitless personal freedom crashes spectacularly on the rocks of human nature, yet remains smugly secure in the belief that every problem can be solved by grit and personal responsibility for ones actions.

This is the best campaign sign I've seen yet ...

... but there aren't any in the running. And we're not insisting on it.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Readers, the Left-Cheek Ass Clown Award for October, 2018, is presented to the Republican and Democratic parties. We deserve better. Don't wait up for it.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow, the last Cartoon Saturday of our annual Halloween Extravaganza.


Monday, October 22, 2018

"Educational Density"

I was listening to an interesting discussion on my local NPR station the other day in which the panelists and callers were discussing the various reasons why various groups of people vote the way they do, often in clear opposition to their own interests, and at one point in the discussion, one of the panelists referred to the role of educational density in group voting.

Educational density in this context referred to the percentage in a given city, state, or other voting region of a particular group of citizens who shared a particular level of education - grade school, high school, or college - with the idea being that the relative distribution of education levels can predict how a particular group or region will vote.

As I look at present-day America, I have another possible definition of educational density. In this definition, it refers to the ossification of one's way of thinking as a result of one's level of education ... such as, these damn college-educated elitists don't understand real people, or those high-school yahoos just don't understand how the world really works.

Speaking as one of those damn college-educated elitists, I believe that a lower level of education can lead to insular thinking and a failure to recognize the critical importance of interactions among people, nations and economies. I also believe that a higher level of education can lead to a tendency to ignore the day-to-day concerns of those whose points of view come from the school of hard knocks rather than the ivy-covered walls of academe.

It's important in our current supercharged, politically angry climate to understand the role of educational density not just as a convenient (if dodgy) predictor of voting patterns, but also as a danger to clear thinking. As I've often said here before, Bilbo's First Law applies: don't let anyone else do your thinking for you.

Have a good day. More thoughts coming.


Saturday, October 20, 2018

Musical Sunday

We're just a week and a half from Halloween, and who better to goose us into the right frame of mind than Bobby "Boris" Pickett with his classic song, "The Monster Mash?" ...

Whatever happened to the Transylvanian Twist, indeed?

Have a good day and enjoy the rest of your weekend. More thoughts coming.


Cartoon Saturday

What could be more scary - even at Halloween - than the latest news? ...

The Saudi Arabian government finally admitted that missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi was dead, claiming that "discussions between Khashoggi and those who met him during his arrival at the consulate in Istanbul led to a quarrel and physical altercation, which led to his death;" more than 60 people were killed and 100 hurt after a train ran into a crowd in India; the Spotted Lanternfly, an invasive insect species native to China, India and Vietnam, is invading Virginia and Pennsylvania and could be "the most destructive species in 150 years;" the Justice Department has filed criminal charges against a Russian woman, Elena Khusyaynova, for interfering with the midterm elections; and in Barcelona, building permits have finally been issued for the famous Sagrada Familia cathedral ... which has been under construction for more than 130 years.

This is the third week of our annual Cartoon Saturday Halloween Extravaganza, and this week we're featuring cartoons about witches ...

Hot tub, hot cauldron, whatever ...

Sometimes the old ways are the best ...

True ...

Witches need eye exams, too ...

The obligatory terrible pun ...

It's just as dangerous for witches as it is for the rest of us ...

But what are the alternatives? ...

New on The Potion Network ...

Oh, the horror! ...

Witches don't get along with their mothers all the time ...

And that's it for this week's entry in our annual Halloween Extravaganza - hope you enjoyed it. Have a good day and a great weekend ... more thoughts tomorrow, when Musical Sunday returns for its Halloween edition. Be here.


Friday, October 19, 2018

Great Moments in Editing and Signage

Last collection for October ...

Chinese restaurant menus are always good for interesting entries ...

Somehow, I'm not surprised ...

Refreshing honesty in advertising ...

Um ... no, thanks ...

Do the rats convey? ...

I think the coach may see things differently ...

Not at MY house, anyway ...

I'm with Dylan ...

Mixed messages ...

What will they dance to? ...

And so much for October ... your next collection of Great Moments in Editing and Signage will appear in this space on November 2nd. Chin up, you'll make it 'til then.

Have a good day. See you tomorrow, when Cartoon Saturday will feature the third entry in our Halloween Extravaganza with a look at Witches and Wizards. Be here.


Sunday, October 14, 2018

Poetry Sunday

Autumn is one of my favorite times of the year, with crisp temperatures and the glory of fall colors. This poem by Sonia Gernes combines the beauty of the season with an homage to her parents ...

by Sonia Gernes

for my parent's fiftieth anniversary

In the old photographs, it is always autumn.
Colors fade to the sepia of remembered thought:
my mother in a flapper dress, my father
proud beside the Model A. They glow
in the light of dreams that I can never know.

What did they think of that autumn
they climbed into the photograph of bride & groom?
That love would conquer?—the Depression yield
more than its tart and scanty fruit?
In a season of scarceness, the bitter root

of her father's death fresh within the house,
they strode from the church believing
in sunlight—the prairie ringing for them,
the October trees all aflame with praise.
Good farmers, they knew how to raise

the future, a steady hand on each day's plow,
patience in the fallow fields, a table
big enough for all who'd need it, hope
in the seedlings, beauty's grace, a faith
that is the opposite of winter's death.

This autumn, I would take the color
of that triumph, the bright praise of trees.
the harvest secure in the heart's high bins;
I would make of them a portrait fit to hold
through time: these trees, these lives, this gold.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend. More thoughts coming.


Saturday, October 13, 2018

Cartoon Saturday

I don't mind that the beat goes on ... I just wish it wasn't on our heads.

Enormous and enormously powerful hurricane Michael devastated large swaths of the Florida panhandle and headed north to hammer areas still recovering from last month's hurricane Florence; journalist and prominent critic of the Saudi Arabian royal family Jamal Khashoggi disappeared during a visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and is presumed to have been murdered; a Russian Soyuz FG rocket carrying a Russian cosmonaut and a NASA astronaut apparently failed shortly after liftoff, triggering an emergency abort of the mission in which both passengers were safely recovered; US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley unexpectedly resigned; and in New York state, 20 people in a stretch limousine were killed in a horrific accident.

This week, our Cartoon Saturday Halloween Extravaganza continues with cartoons featuring everybody's favorite man of many parts - Frankenstein ...

That's one way to look at it ...

This parent-teacher conference isn't going to end well ...

A match made in ... uh ... the lab ...

Brain 1 is widely available in Washington, and is frequently purchased ...

I would, too ...

I had no idea that Dr Frankenstein was a Republican ...

I sometimes find that my followers are like this when I make some controversial post on Facebook ...

I think the traditional way is more fun ...

Literally ...

Millennial Son of Frankenstein ...

And so it goes, two weeks into our Halloween Extravaganza ... my small attempt to get you laughing before the critically-important midterm elections, just weeks away.

Have a good day and a great weekend. More thoughts tomorrow, when Poetry Sunday returns. Be here.


Friday, October 12, 2018

The Right-Cheek Ass Clown for October, 2018

September was a great month for ass-clownery, with so many world-class ass clowns clamoring for attention that it was unusually difficult to make a good selection. But that was September. Now it's October. And the embarrassment of riches continues as we face the problem of identifying a single ass clown whose behavior eclipses the rest of the thundering herd. It's hard, but - as always - you expect me to make the tough choices, and so I have.

I give you

The Right-Cheek Ass Clown for October, 2018

Senator Mitch McConnell (R, KY)
(Fifth Award)

The senior senator from the state of Kentucky has been presented this award four times in the past, most recently in July of this year. In a political environment in which hypocrisy and bad faith are the standard, Senator McConnell has soared to new heights, shamelessly rewriting history, ignoring his own previous statements and positions to match the political requirements of the moment, and loudly accusing his opponents of exactly the same actions he has himself happily taken. In his most recent example of blatant hypocrisy, he told an interviewer that there would be no problem with seating a new Supreme Court Justice in 2020 prior to the presidential election, blithely stating that a precedent from 1880 indicates that his opposition to such an action only applies when the White House and the Senate are controlled by different parties.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Readers, the superbly well-qualified Right-Cheek Ass Clown Award for October, 2018, goes to Senator Mitch McConnell - the man who has single-handedly undermined all three branches of government for cynical partisan gain.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow, when Cartoon Saturday continues our October Halloween extravaganza with a salute to the ultimate man of many parts - Frankenstein. See you then.


Sunday, October 07, 2018

Musical Sunday

With all the angry talk lately about accusations of sexual misdeeds, this seemed like a good selection for the first Musical Sunday of October ...

And here are the lyrics ...

She was more like a beauty queen from a movie scene
I said don't mind, but what do you mean, I am the one
Who will dance on the floor in the round
She said I am the one, who will dance on the floor in the round

She told me her name was Billie Jean, as she caused a scene
Then every head turned with eyes that dreamed of being the one
Who will dance on the floor in the round

People always told me be careful of what you do
And don't go around breaking young girls' hearts
And mother always told me be careful of who you love
And be careful of what you do 'cause the lie becomes the truth

Billie Jean is not my lover
She's just a girl who claims that I am the one
But the kid is not my son
She says I am the one, but the kid is not my son

For forty days and forty nights
The law was on her side
But who can stand when she's in demand
Her schemes and plans
'Cause we danced on the floor in the round
So take my strong advice, just remember to always think twice
(Don't think twice, don't think twice)

She told my baby we'd danced till three, then she looked at me
Then showed a photo my baby cried his eyes were like mine (oh, no!)
'Cause we danced on the floor in the round, baby

People always told me be careful of what you do
And don't go around breaking young girls' hearts
She came and stood right by me
Just the smell of sweet perfume
This happened much too soon
She called me to her room

Billie Jean is not my lover
She's just a girl who claims that I am the one
But the kid is not my son

Billie Jean is not my lover
She's just a girl who claims that I am the one
But the kid is not my son
She says I am the one, but the kid is not my son
She says I am the one, but the kid is not my son

There's a lot to be said for just keeping ones hands to oneself.

Have a good day. More thoughts coming.


Saturday, October 06, 2018

Cartoon Saturday

Welcome to the first weekend in October ...

A year-long investigative report published in the New York Times this week has cast fresh doubt on Donald Trump's image as a self-made business tycoon; Donald Trump provoked outrage across the country and around the world - including among key Congressional Republicans - when he openly mocked Dr Christine Blasey Ford at a raucous campaign rally; the first nationwide "presidential alert" was transmitted to millions of innocent cell phones nationwide on Wednesday; the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee voted on Friday to send the nomination of Judge Bret Kavanaugh to the full Senate for an almost-certainly successful confirmation vote as early as Saturday; and in Chicago, a white police officer has been found guilty of murder in the death of a black teenager he shot 16 times.

This month, as part of my effort to distract you from the ongoing horror show that is our national government, all four Cartoon Saturdays will feature cartoons about various monsters and other scary things. We begin with this look at the ... uh ... lighter side of Godzilla ...

Time catches up with all of us ...

I've not met very many celebrities, but I have to admit that I didn't recognize most of them ...

Oops ... but then, it even happens to people like Mr Trump ...

Stepping on a Lego brick is bad enough, but ...

Something else wind farms are good for ...

Even gigantic monsters don't always watch their diets ...

Watch where you step ...

Best pun of the week ...

True ...

Why Republican monsters hate intrusive government ...

And there you have it - the kickoff round of our Cartoon Saturday Halloween Extravaganza. I hope you enjoyed it, and it took your mind off the horror of the Trump administration ... at least for a while.

Have a good day and a great weekend, and come back tomorrow for a Musical Sunday visit with Michael Jackson. More thoughts then.