Archive for March, 2007

Theodoric of Lansing…


Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, March 19, 2007

I know. I know. Again with the Michigan budget woes! But this week’s comic is a simple plea with a simple explanation: Perhaps Michigan leaders might take a look around to other, more successful Midwestern states (and apparently all of them are in fact more successful) to see what they are doing. Just pandering to beleaguered Michiganians with tax cuts, tax cuts, and more tax cuts seems a medieval solution to a modern problem. Brave Republicans (that is, ones no longer seeking public office) have been speaking out on this.

But this all might be crazy talk. I mean, hey, who’s the barber here?

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The Big Chill vs. Grosse Pointe Blank…


Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, March 12, 2007

I was born in 1963, so technically I’m a Baby Boomer, but I’ve never thought of myself as a Baby Boomer. In fact, I find a lot of Baby Boomerish things annoying. Maybe it’s my contrarian nature, I dunno, but they are an awfully large group of people who tend to see their lives and experiences as unique and special and, well, better than everybody else’s.

For proof I give you the movie The Big Chill. If you don’t remember it, here’s a link, but it’s about a group of University of Michigan graduates from the late 1960s who gather again some 15 years later when one of group commits suicide, and they deal with all that has changed between them and what hasn’t.

A decent movie. I liked it. Jeff Goldblum, Kevin Kline. Funny bits. I found Glenn Close to be kinda creepy (even before Fatal Attraction days), but nothing I couldn’t look past. What I didn’t like was other people (Baby Boomers) telling me that it was a freakin’ fantastic movie with the best music ever in the whole world. Good Lord, when The Big Chill came out in 1983 you couldn’t go to a college party without hearing “Big Chill music”! It was crazy. I mean, I could appreciate Motown, but I just couldn’t relate to it as the music of my youth. What about my music? My movie? My Big Chill?

Well a few years ago worker-mates and I did lunch and movie over at my friend Monty’s house and I saw the film Grosse Point Blank. It shares Big Chill’s “reacquainting old friends” theme, but here it’s Grosse Point, Michigan high school, and graduates are returning for their 10 year anniversary party. John Cusack is a professional hit-man who yearns to get back with his old girlfriend, Minnie Driver. Joan Cusack, Dan Aykroyd, Alan Arkin. Brilliant! And the music: the Clash, the Specials, Violent Femmes is brilliant, too.

Now I’m not saying that one film is better than the other. I’m telling you: acting, plot, humor, music, every category — Grosse Pointe Blank is a much better movie. Go ahead and argue with me, but you can’t deny the absolute greatness. It’s so obvious! It’s completely self-evident! It’s… oh, crap. Maybe I am a Baby Boomer….

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Fired for Poor Performance? Are You Serious?…


Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, March 5, 2007

Man oh man oh man. It just keeps getting worse. (Or I suppose better, if you happen to be an editorial cartoonist with an ax to grind.)

A couple of weeks ago, several U.S Attorneys resigned (i.e., got sacked) by the Bush Administration’s Justice Department (i.e., Karl Rove). One happened to be from West Michigan, which allowed me to opine on the matter. At the time, I didn’t much know or care about the internal mechanics of why it happened. What caught me was the audacity of the official explanation: Poor performance.

Now poor performance is a completely legitimate excuse for firing somebody. In fact, I’d say it rates at the top with “stole all the money” and “is actively trying to kill co-workers.” No, my issue is that up until this point, poor performance has never seemed to be a problem with the Bush Administration. I don’t have time to list the lists, but for a case in point I give you Donald Rumsfeld. I can’t imagine a poorer performance as Secretary of Defense and yet the only reason he seemed to leave was avoid having to defend himself to a newly unfriendly Congress. Oy!

In the weeks since, the U.S. Attorney thing has only continued to blow up in several ways, all seeming to dovetail nicely with my original point. The cherry on top is that this happens to be Sunshine Week. (See my previous post.)

What more reason do you need to see how essential it is to keep a government open and information free?


March 11-17: Sunshine Week…

How appropriate for it to be Sunshine Week — it’s been a rare and wonderful few days of clear skies and 50 degrees here in West Michigan. Unfortunately, it is also quite appropriate in the wake of the FBI’s recent Patriot Act misdeeds and miscellaneous Justice Department shenanigans….

Sunshine Week is a national initiative to open a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. Sunshine Week is about the public’s right to know what its government is doing, and why.

This, of course, is right in the sweet spot for editorial cartoonists. So in an effort to support Sunshine Week and all that it stands for, the AAEC (Association of American Editorial Cartoonists) had its members collect recent creations for the Sunshine Week website to publish. Check it out:

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Beer + Movies = Crazy Delicious!…


Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, February 26, 2007

When I first moved to West Michigan, Studio 28 in Wyoming was the premier theatre complex in the area, maybe the whole Midwest. With 20 screens and a central location on the main retail strip, 28th Street, Studio 28 was at the cusp of the megaplex boom.

But now, 20 years hence, new megaplexes have been built at new retail locations, and the glut of fresh screens is definitely hurting the former big dog. So in an effort to stay afloat, the owners petitioned the city of Wyoming to allow beer sales at the theatre. Part of this was to set themselves up to host banquets and events there. Makes sense. But mostly it’s about hoping that beer sales give them an edge on attracting movie goers. Wyoming, anxious to keep their shrinking retail business from further shrinkage, said okeydoke.

And this is the part of the story where we pass judgment. Go ahead. I did.

Done? Right. I actually had two judgment passes: First (as reflected in the comic), sharing a theatre with stupid people is bad enough, but stupid people with beer can’t help. Second, does the world really need another place to buy a $7 Budweiser? Yecch!

Confession: Not a week before I drew this, I sat in the State Theatre in Ann Arbor with my kids (because I had brought them there and bought their tickets) and watched three Beavis & Butthead cartoons roll across the screen. We were attending the Animation Show, a collection of recent animated features that otherwise don’t get widely seen. (The show itself had some very cool stuff!) Mike Judge, the creator of B&B, is one of the presenters, so I wasn’t surprised. It just wasn’t expected. They ran them as cartoons before the main show (like in olden days). Not a high point in my parenting career. Plus I was drunk. (Only the last bit isn’t actually true…)

And this is the part of the story where you get to pass judgment again. Go ahead, but this time, leave a comment….

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Passive-Aggressive Uno…


Originally published in the Grand Rapids Family magazine, February 2007


All Right, Enough with the Dramatics…


Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, February 19, 2007

In this week’s edition, we find our cartoonist hero poking fun at …himself. Being that I work for a business publication in the great but beleaguered state of Michigan, you may have noticed that the decline of the American automobile industry has been an ongoing theme. The new bad news is that Chrysler is now in the dumpster and plans to layoff 10,000 or workers PDQ, many of them Michigan-based.

Maybe having grown up in Flint, the birthplace of General Motors, I am predisposed to empathy — I have noticed that I probably spend too much time romanticizing the past and lamenting the future. And while I do think some amount of feeling the melancholy is warranted, after awhile it can become, well, annoying.

At a certain point (and this would be a pretty good one) it’s time to concentrate efforts on building new ships and letting the old ones sail….