Archive for March, 2009

An Archaeological Study of a Dirty Dish Pile…


Originally published in the Grand Rapids Family magazine, March 2009


The Basic Problem with U.S….


Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, March 16, 2009

I drew this not to damn us Americans, but to simply point out that (as is often the case) a great strength is also a great weakness. Our constant scramble to be on top and do better than the average makes our economy dynamic and healthy. Except when we go too far, and then we suffer for it. Looking forward to the next bubble…


Old (and Hilarious) Magazine Ads…

It’s problematic to say the least that there exists a world of very interesting things on the other side of my work computer. Curse you high-speed Internet connection! Why must you be so wonderful?! Actually, I think I handle it pretty well. Other than an ongoing addiction to Wikipedia, I manage to steer clear of that which does not translate to billable hours. Mostly. But last week I was tempted away by a link I found in a Graphic Designer newsletter. (So in a very rationalized way, it was in fact work.)

Some evil person has spent a considerable amount of time scanning ads from old magazines and indexing them very nicely. Old magazines (Life, Saturday Evening Post, Colliers, and the like) are a terrible weakness of mine. They are filled with historical articles, classic comics, beautiful photography, and campy ads. So I stole time in between chores to read some from the 1930s and early 1940s, and email favorites to my wife and equally Wikipedia-addicted daughter. Check ‘em out. Once you’re there, you can click the “View Larger Image” link to see details:
“So help me, I’ll beat the crap out of little Timmy …literally!”
Ah, yes! Remember when “willfully stupid” was an endearing trait in a women (excuse me, girl)?
Whoever thought any product called “Crab Orchard” was a good idea?! And is it just me, or is this the gayest ad ever?
Let’s see: empty sugar, corrosive acid, addictive stimulants … oh, wait! They serve it in hospitals? Never mind, everything is a-okay here!
Our house was built in 1941 with these shingles (and still has them). And that’s pretty much what our living room looked like when we moved in.
Lead! Lead! We make paint out of LEAD!
Apparently, “copywriters” back in the “1940s” got “paid” not by the “quality” of their “writing,” but by “the” number of “quotation marks” they “used.”
Good news! Candy is food for work!
Aren’t men difficult? And by “difficult,” I mean, “jerks.”
Inspiration for the classic SNL bit, “It’s a floor cleaner; no, it’s a dessert topping!”?

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The Incessant Need to Be Connected…


Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, March 9, 2009

Of course the market has rallied a bit since this was actually published, but the addiction is the same….


Regrets, I’ve Had a Few…


Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, March 2, 2009

Far, far too often, when revisiting a comic I am confronted with painfully obvious adjustments I could have made — by way of example, this week’s comic. A rare glimmer of positive economic news for Michigan comes from our burgeoning film industry. Recent tax breaks and tweaks designed to lure movie makers seems to be working. (Gran Turino was shot in Michigan.) In terms of actual jobs, the film industry is still quite small, which fit nicely with actors tending to be very short in real life. (My brother once told me that one could easily trip over Sylvester Stallone.) But any job growth contrasts strongly with the ongoing shedding of jobs from our hoary automotive and (vital to West Michigan) office furniture industries. So what I should have done was drawn the two guys as very, very old men with the second one saying, “yeah, well — at least he’s not shrinking.” See? Obvious.

But then on rare occasion, I come across a comic where I would change nothing. Last week I went to a meeting for the Society for Technical Communications (which is actually a lot more fun than the stern name implies), and one of the members, Sandy, handed me a notebook of old newsletters. We’re considering making them available at some point on the chapter website. Back in newsletter days (when people professed not to enjoy reading on the computer), I did an occasional cartoon. When flipping through I found this one from 1994. Made me laugh…



Defending Automaking (and the Chevy Vega, sort of)…


Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, February 23, 2009

Spring Break 1981: My friends Dominic, Lewis, Joe, and I took an ill-advised and somewhat unsanctioned trip. We swung through Pennsylvania to visit (and get free meals from) my relatives in Reading, then Dominic’s grandmother north of Philly. From there we headed to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Spent five days playing and having fun — Frisbee, wave-diving, basketball, go-karts… someday ask me to tell you the story about Lewis and the water slide. Then back over the mountains and home to Michigan. All this without a lick of trouble from Dominic’s Chevy Vega.

Oh, it wasn’t comfortable. Whenever I had to take my turn riding in back, I had to be careful to fold myself up just right and not relax. If I relaxed and Dom hit a bump, my head would smack against the unpadded trim where the back window and the roof met. And when it got too warm, we had to have the heat on full blast so the engine wouldn’t explode. And the tape deck that Dom installed played only one audio channel. So certain songs would disappear for several moments. Whenever I hear “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” I get nostalgic:

Hand across the water (water)
Heads across the sky
Hand across the water (water)
Heads across the sky

The only parts we would actually hear was the “water” repeat. We only had three tapes, so we listened to the radio a lot. That was pretty slim pickings, especially when you consider the geography and what was being played by radio stations in 1981. Someday ask me to tell you the story about how Joe Hasselbach nearly chose death for all rather than listen to a whole Barry Manilow song.

Anyway, I tell you this because most stories or blog posts (particularly the blog posts) that are in favor of letting GM, Chrysler, and the whole automotive industry just go to hell start off with an anecdote about a crappy Detroit 3 car they once owned. Right. So there I have offered a happy story about a notoriously crappy car model.

Now we can get on with the real discussion: What needs to be done to ensure the United States will have a viable capacity for automobile production once we get out of this financial crisis?

Ready, go…