Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Question for You

Whether you're a lurker or a frequent commenter, I'd like your opinion.
How come there are so few female cartoonists?
Females doctors, politicians, cops, athletes and writers aren't uncommon, yet most comics and cartoons are done by men. Why do you think this is?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Ever Met this Person?

Ever met this person? He or she is forever eating junk, yet claiming it's healthy.

Pack of Fruit Licorice: "It's made with real 100% real fruit!* And it's fat free!"

Taco Salad (including a greasy shell and a pound of cheese): "I eat light. I'm having a salad."

Battered Fried Chicken: "Chicken is leaner than beef. I eat healthy."

Croissant, Jumbo Bagel or any Oversized Sandwich Roll: "I'm gettin' my grains."

Baked Potato (with cheese, sour cream, butter, bacon): "I'm gettin' my veggies. And gettin' my calcium from the sour cream)"

Three Slices of Thick Crust Pizza (with pepperoni, peppers and olives): "I'm gettin' my grains with the crust, my calcium with the cheese, my protein with the meat, and my veggies with the peppers. It's a perfect food."

Plate of Nachos: "Another perfect food!"

Large Frozen Yogurt (with Oreo sprinkles and caramel sauce): "I eat healthy snacks"

Starbucks Double Caramel Latte (with whipped cream): "Just a cup of coffee for me!"

This goes along with my theory that anyone who's constantly insisting "I'm doing [this virtuous thing]" is doing the opposite.

*Probably someone puts a few drops of 100% real fruit in the candy vat now and then

Saturday, July 26, 2008

For Benefit of Science

A few posts back I introduced The Chud, a fellow student from my years at U.C. Nowheresville.
The guy who stood outside and "graded" passing girls by barking "P!" (pass) or F! (fail). One day he found something new to do. Something strange.
He worked part time in a science lab. Not sure if he was a professor's assistant or the guy who buffed the floors, but he knew where to find the radioactive stuff.
The dialog went something like this, I hear.

Friend He Roped in: Are you sure we're supposed to do this?

The Chud: Who cares what we're supposed to? We're doing scientific method!

Friend: What if someone finds us? We'll get in trouble. And the warning signs said-

The Chud: Real scientists don't signs hold them back! This is for benefit of science! Think of all the sacrifices from scientists for benefit of science!

The Chud's plan for benefit of science involved a canister of radioactive material he'd swiped. He took it to a remote part of the lab. It wouldn't open. The budding scientist found a hammer and smacked it open.
The noise attracted a lab worker. Who threw a fit. From a safe distance.

I never learned his full plan. Maybe he was testing his theory that if you.

1. Stole a can of radioactive stuff,
2. Cracked it open like a walnut,
3. Exposed you and your friend to enough gamma rays to make the moon glow,
4. Were observed doing so...'d be big trouble.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

P! F! F!

I called him The Chud. He looked like Fred Flintstone. His voice boomed across the college commons.
"P!" he'd say, "F! F! F! P... ...P!" standing near popular walkways.
A shared friend* asked him what was going on.
"The girls that are going by!" he explained. "Some girls that is good looking. They pass! P. for pass! And some girls: they is ugly. They FAIL! F! So each girl that is going by, she gets P or F!"
What a gentleman.
I never found out if I passed his test. I didn't get too close.
*I couldn't stand The Chud. Others were more tolerant.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


Were you teased or ostracized as a kid? I sure was.
I was very shy, goofy, and had the social skills of a fireplug.
Seventh grade was the worst.
I had no friends. Kids hassled me all day. Most of it was verbal- name calling and catty remarks. I spent spare time writing stories and drawing pictures each day, trying to ignore pebbles pelted my way. My pop-up art project was sabotaged after the teacher put it up. An older boy flashed me. Sometimes kids would gather around me and ask why I was such a weirdo (or loser, or "skuzz" etc..) Once, in a home ec class, some kids put masking tape in my hair and ran my school photo through the sewing machine. They cracked up as the needle punched it full of holes.
I'm so glad I'm not thirteen any more.
It could have been worse. Nobody beat me up or extorted money. Nobody gave me a swirlie. Nobody shot me.
It left lasting effects. I became even more shy and withdrawn. And cynical.
There were benefits:
While the normal kids were hanging out with friends, I drew pictures and wrote stories. Would I be writing and drawing today if I didn't have the practice?
Another bonus: Since I know how much it stank to be bullied, I never became one. It could have happened. I have a smart mouth. I'm quick to make cracks about public figures. Without the "gee, it stinks to be ostracized" experience, would I be making cracks about my peers too? Am I shoving some poor sap in an alternate universe?

Motivation by Fear

"Why do some people think fear is a good motivator?" asked stray g. It was a response to some blog posts I'd done about an old nemesis who behaved like the Queen of Hearts from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
I replied that I thought they got a power trip.
Linda suggested they were motivated by fear. I can see this. Like the lion tamer who won't put down his whip. He fears the lion's jaws.
Machiavelli wrote "it is better to be feared than loved." but he also said, "[A leader] must endeavor to avoid hatred."
The bullies of the world missed "avoid hatred" hint. They forget that when you act like a jerk, or in some cases, a monster, you make enemies. The lion waits for when the tamer accidentally drops his whip.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Beware of Walrus

When I was a kid, we'd visit Sea World each fall.
They had a campy sea lion act. The shtick went like this:
Near the end of the show, a walrus slid on stage. He'd swim a lap, perch on the edge of the tank...
... and spit a stream of water at the audience.
They'd been warned earlier that they "might get wet." It wasn't specified exactly how it'd happen.
My dad got a kick out of it.
One time we were walking near the show. It was almost walrus time.
"Hey," my dad said, "Lets stand off to the side and watch the walrus spit on someone!"
We did.
For a Dad's Eye View of what happened next, see below:

Monday, July 14, 2008

Freddy (Dip Rage)

With us he was gentle, but vets feared him. Freddy, our family cat when I was in my teens, had a reputation. He scratched. Hissed. Bit. We actually had to switch vets a few times because they couldn't handle him. He turned into a rabid death weasel.
Once my dad and I went to pick him up from a flea dip. Unearthly yowls came from backstage. Wow, I thought, he must treat wild animals too.
The vet motioned us to follow.
Wet and furious, Freddie scrambled in place on the steel countertop, held in place by a ripped net. Earls glued down, he snapped at anyone who got close. Dip Rage.
"The fleas are dead!" the vet kept saying. "The fleas are dead!" In other words, I did what you paid me for, now will you please get this maniac outta here!?
Freddy let my dad and I untangle him.
When we got home, Freddy retired to his hide out (covered litter box) and sulked.

Another vet we didn't go back to.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Terrible, Terrible

Recent posts have been at the expense of Dr. Fault, a control freak swine of a principal I met in my early days of student teaching. How would she defend my accusations? Here's a mock interview.

Interviewer: Namowal said some vicious things about you, Ms. Fault-

Dr. Fault: That's Doctor Fault. Namowal's posts don't surprise me. It's indicative of her immaturity.

Interviewer: Care to tell your side of the story?

Dr. Fault: We get some "Namowals" each year. Unprofessional. Disengaged. The children need someone who can facilitate their education, not a scatterbrained babysitter. Did you know there was a fire drill and her class was over a minute behind in the evacuation? What if it was a real fire?

Interviewer: Actually the real teacher, Mrs. York, was in charge when that happened. Namowal was only observing.

Dr. Fault: (frowns) Mrs. York was just as bad. I had her terminated.

Interviewer: Is it true you interrupted her class to scold her about the roll call error?

Dr. Fault: How can one access student's individual needs when they can't even take roll?

Interviewer: Namowal didn't have trouble at other schools. In fact she became rather well liked.

Dr Fault: Some districts have lower standards. It's a shame really. Disgraceful. Every child deserves a sound education.

Interviewer: Any truth to Namowal's claim that you grabbed a kid by the arm and "yanked him like a kite?"

Dr. Fault: (slaps desk) How dare you suggest such a thing! This interview is over. Security will escort you off the property.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

"You're so Vain"

"You're So Vain" by Carly Simon came on the radio. I was drawing. Impulsively I dropped my project and drew a super quick sketch of the song. I tried to capture song's seething contempt. It turned out okay, but maybe a bit derivative of other artists I admire.
"You're So Vain" is an unusual song. A lot of songs are about how wonderful someone is. Others criticize, but nearly always it's about being rejected by the guy ( or gal). I can only think of a few songs that bluntly call someone a jerk. "You're So Vain" is one of them.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Here and Present Danger (Dr. Fault, part II)

In my last post we met Dr. Fault, the ill-tempered principal who terrorized kids and teachers alike. I started student teaching there.
This was the last person you'd want mad at you. I managed anyway:
I'd been taking roll for a few days (new class). It turned out that one kid wasn't saying "here" when called her name, so I'd marked her absent.
I think it was story time when Dr. Fault interrupted.
"I want to talk to you!" she barked, glaring.
I nodded, wondering what I'd done.
"We called Candy's home because you marked her absent for two days, and they said 'my child was in school!' " A red-faced, wide eyed, what do you have to say for yourself!? look followed.
I tried to explain. She'd have none of it.
"If you want to do it something, do it right!" she snapped, leaving as abruptly as she came.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Dr. Fault

She was principal at Sunnydale Elementary school. My first student teacher assignment was at her dictatorship.
Short, bulky and bitter, she never smiled. She had insane rules about how each kid's desk was organized, including inspections. When her staff screwed up, she barked at them over the intercom. One example:
"Why do I see students in the rain without their heads covered!?" the speakers squawked, "Completely unacceptable! When they come home wet and the calls come in, I'm forwarding them to you!" This was done in a No wire hangers ever! voice and ended with a slamming phone.
She was more concerned with what the parents thought than kid welfare. Once, when she thought nobody was looking, she grabbed a kid and yanked him like she was launching a kite.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Little Africa

I was ten, and excited to be on my first camping trip. As the bus of girl scouts groaned up the 405, I wondered what it would be like. The campsite was called Little Africa. I wondered why. Would there be a jungle? Zebras? Elephants?
Little Weedlot in the Middle of Nowhere would have been a better name. Gravel as white as moon rocks. Clumps of blonde grass... ...few wimpy oaks. This was no jungle. This wasn't even the woods.
It did have a stream. This excited us. Then we saw the duck. It was dead, slumped on the rocks as current flowed around it. Nothing like a dead bird to keep you out of the water.
On the last day I found the cage. It was the size of a garage, rising from the weeds like it grew there. Steel bars as thick as a broom stick grew from the cement base. It creeped me. A dilapidated trailer stood nearby. One girl claimed it had belonged to a former owner. She'd kept tigers in the cage, but they escaped, clawed into the trailer, and killed her. Was it true? I thought, Even if it wasn't true, why was there a cage? Who or what had lived in it?
It spooked me. The thought of it chilled the skin on my back. The chill followed me home.

Note: The park still exists, under a different name. There's very little online info about it, except brief (and favorable) campground ratings. I used a Google Earth photo to get the the tones for the background of the second image. I don't know if the cage is still there.
I never found out what it was for.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Grandfather Clocks

Grandfather clocks didn't terrify me when I was a kid, but there was something spooky about them. So tall and imposing. Part casket, part evil Victorian robot.
They'd stand there, patiently ticking, as if to say no, I'm not waiting for a chance to pounce on you or anything like that.
Then came the striking. First a snap like a twig breaking. The clock hissed.
A deceptively friendly chime played. Then the hour chords. Deep and angry, like the clock was mad at you. Or telling a morbid story in clock language.

Even broken ones made me nervous. They looked down on you with angry faces. What if they fell on you? Or started striking on their own?