Monday, April 21, 2014

Monday Short Takes

Let's start with this Garrincha cartoon.  I've said before that I'm more attuned to the story-telling American style of political cartooning rather than the more metaphorical international style, but this is a situation in which the two blend rather seamlessly.

Moreover, I like the cartoon for what Gustavo Rodriguez is and what his cartoon isn't. Garrincha is a Cuban exile living in Miami, which doesn't exactly define him as a liberal, then, does it?

But the other night, someone asked Jeff Danziger and Tom Tomorrow why there seem to be more good liberal than conservative cartoonists, and Danziger offered Michael Ramirez as an exemplar of a good conservative in the trade.

However, he seemed to be speaking technically rather than in term of commentary, since Ramirez is not noted for bucking the party line, and, when Scott Stantis was offered as an example as a thoughtful voice from the right, they both agreed and, as it always does, the name of the late Jeff MacNelly was raised.

That was when they invoked the old truism that liberals punch up and conservatives punch down, and that satire should consist of mocking the powerful, not the homeless.

Which is simply a variant of the basic rule that knocking a rich man's top hat off with a snowball is funny, but snowballing a beggar is not.

However, I suppose the exception is that, while the Cuban exile community tends to be very conservative in terms of US politics, they are also staunchly anticommunist and, by extension, not huge fans of the oligarchs who now control the former USSR (and, by the way, always did, but that's a topic for another day).

In any case, it's nice to see a conservative who is not either swooning over Putin's "leadership" or prodding Obama to please kill a few thousand more of someone else's American kids so that we'll look big and tough.

And on a much less portentous insider cartoonist topic

So here's a funny, insider cartoon with a funny, insider origin, and you'll have two places to go read the rest of it.

The story is that New England cartoonist Mike Lynch noted that his local Hannaford grocery store has a Walt Kelly quote on the wall, "Food for thought is no substitute for the real thing," and then kvetched that nobody working there had any idea who Walt Kelly was.

Being a New Englander who shops at my local Hannaford, which also has that quote on the wall, I chuckled, but, on the other side of the nation, Brian Fies got enough of a laugh that he made an extended comment, which Mike then turned into this cartoon.

Which you can read on Mike's site, or on Brian's. Either will make you laff, both are good places to know about anyway. Mike's is a little more insider oriented, Brian's is more personal, both a good places for comic fans to get some insight into how it all works.

You could actually read it on Mike's site, set a bookmark, and then go read it on Brian's and also set a bookmark. You'll laff both times.

Don't look too closely

Graham Sale's Easter panel cracked me up mostly for the way it fits into a current Internet theme that combines people with agendas and people with no freaking idea of how life works.

And when I say "life," I mean in the corporeal sense, but the more philosophical as well.

It is indeed possible to make anything sound sinister and disgusting if you describe it the right way. It's a minor but effective building block of humor in cartooning and a major part of political propaganda, both of which can benefit from simple-minded scare tactics.

F'rinstance, I've seen a piece floating around lately in which they list the beers you shouldn't drink because they contain certain trace chemicals that could potentially harm you. The piece does not mention that not only is alcohol present in beer in much more than trace amounts but is also a toxin or else what would be the point of consuming it?

It's like warning someone not to jump out of an airplane without good insoles in their boots but failing to mention parachutes.

And I'm also annoyed by people who are bright enough to know that anti-vaxers and creationists are scientifically ignorant but who become apoplectic over GMOs without acknowledging that there is, in fact, no scientific basis for fear beyond general unhappiness with food inspections and approval.

Well, there is one, but "fear of the new" belongs in the field of psychology, not biology or chemistry.

The latest thing is less political and more just plain weird, which is a shot of a dust mite under extreme magnification and a sonorous warning that these critters are crawling all over you.

Which they are. Which they have always been. Which is part of the circle of life and how things work in the world and nothing to worry about.

But the more urbanized and mechanized and technocentric we become, the less we have any sense of how life works. I'm encouraged by the number of people who realize that the city of Portland was moronic to drain 38 million gallons of water because a kid pissed into the reservoir, but it's a small bit of sanity in an otherwise disconnected-from-reality world.

Back when I was selling vacuum cleaners, we used to use fear of dust mites to persuade people to spend several hundred dollars on a tricked-out vacuum they could have had for a third the price or less if it were on a store shelf instead of being brought to their livingroom.

We thought of them as marks, and they were.

Which is a segue to this:

Today's Close to Home has a funny gag that reminds me of how we used to find those marks to whose houses we'd bring our over-priced rugsuckers. We'd put up a vacuum cleaner in a mall as the prize in a purported drawing and suckers would write their contact information on pieces of paper and put it in the box.

Then they'd win me on their doorstep and a set of steak knives.

At the end of the month, we'd have what my boss called "an educated draw," which meant we'd pick a name completely at random and it would be some young, attractive woman with small children and no more hope of affording one of our units than of flying to the moon.

Now, instead of setting up in the mall, the sharpies simply sucker one of your Facebook friends into visiting their website on the promise of a free iPad or something or other, and unintentionally sharing it with all their friends.

One more wrinkle on a very old tradition within "The Circle of Life" in which the less fir are culled from the herd. 

1 comment:

Dann said...

The first one might work better if the separatists were an alligator fenced inside someone else's backyard that Putin was feeding. Or at least, some indication that he is fostering a problem for someone else instead of just fostering some generic problem or a primarily domestic problem.