Archive for January, 2010

The Breakfast Club…

Mark your calendars: Next week Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (February 4, 5, and 6), Grandville High School will be putting on the play, “The Breakfast Club.” It is a stage production of the 1985 John Hughes film. Ellie will be on stage as Alison (the Ally Sheedy part); Natalina is working backstage. Call or email me or Jane for details!


Shut the Door!…

Originally published in the Grand Rapids Family magazine, January 2010

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Constitution Overhaul, Health Care Reform, and Hieronymus Bosch…

Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, January 18, 2010

My earliest cartoons revolved around two characters: an angel and a devil. (Someday I’ll get all scanny and post some of these for you.) I suppose it was not extraordinary that as a young Catholic boy I would muse beyond our mortal world and consider how these heaven and hell things might function. It is a little disturbing that I tended to focus more on the hell….

One comic that pops to mind:

  • Panel 1: A man is tied to a post and a devil is snapping his bare back with a whip. The man is laughing uproariously, and the devil is angry.
  • Panel 2: Devil: “What are you so happy about? You sold your soul, and you’re being tortured?” Man: “Yes, but in I sold my soul for eternal bliss!”
  • Panel 3: Man throwing his head back and laughing. Devil: “%@#$* loopholes…”

 A more current thought is this: What if there is no actual “Hell” as a destination point but rather an infinitely long line you must wait in throughout eternity with peppy, muzak versions of your favorite songs playing in the background?

Or, for something more old school — with fiery brimstone and gnashing of teeth — I considered in this week’s comic an eternity of the health care reform debate. Ooo, nasty! And frankly, nobody depicts old school hell like the 15th/16th century Dutch painter, Hieronymus Bosch (the darkness! the eyes! the creepy birds!). Now, why in the, um, hell would I have the imagery of a pre-Renaissance painter floating around in my head, at the ready to use in an editorial cartoon? I dunno. That early (and apparently continuing) fascination with these topics and, more likely, something my parents did wrong. Yeah, let’s go with that one. 🙂

Whatever the reason, the comic germinated when former Grand Rapids mayor John Logie publically suggested that Michigan should consider revamping its constitution (which hasn’t had a good whisking since the early 1960s). I happen to think it would be a good idea. With Michigan at its (hopefully) lowest point, it’d be an excellent time to get ourselves aligned for moving forward. Or it could be a torturous political painfest. Heaven or hell. Fascinating…

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Something NOT to Say During a Job Interview…

Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, January 11, 2010

So after the attempted bombing of the Christmas day Northwest flight to Detroit, Pete Hoekstra — a US congressperson from West Michigan — had an error in judgment. And I’m going to call it an error in judgment because, given the circumstances, I think — I hope — that that was all it was.

Circumstance #1: Pete Hoekstra is the ranking member (leader of the minority party) of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which means he is privy to all sorts of information on international terrorism and what is going on behind the scenes. That makes him something of a go-to guy when it comes to these issues. For intelligence matters, Pete Hoekstra is somebody. For other matters, Pete Hoekstra is a congressy something or other from one of those states nobody cares about. So “terrorism-related” is right in Hoekstra’s wheelhouse, and when it happens, he’s gonna be swinging.

Circumstance #2: Pete Hoekstra is running as a Republican candidate for Michigan this year. There are lots of Republican candidates, and they all profess their strong dissatisfaction with the current governor (a Democrat) and president who either have already ruined everything or are in the process of. It’s a good strategy. Really good. (Think of how well “I’m not George W. Bush” worked in 2008.) So it’s difficult to tell the candidates apart. Hoekstra is in big need of an issue to differentiate himself.

Interesting Side Note: Why is Pete Hoekstra running for Governor when he could have easily gotten himself re-elected to the US House in a prestigious committee position? I don’t know. Guilt I think. In 1992 Hoekstra got himself elected largely on the populist promise of self-imposed term limits. A fellow Republican, Guy Vander Jagt, had held that particular West Michigan seat for 26 years and fully intended to hold it for life. Hoekstra said that if he won, he would serve for no more than six terms. But when 2004 rolled around, he ran. It was fine with me. I think term limits for congress folks are stupid, short-sighted, and liable to either be ignored or broken if at all possible. So I hold no animosity toward Hoekstra for that.

Error in Judgment: Hoekstra (or more likely, his people) saw the Christmas underpants bomber as a golden opportunity — an issue very clearly his own that would set him apart (and raise money!). Soon after the event, the Hoekstra campaign sent out a fundraising letter saying, essentially, “if you hate terrorists like I do and are afraid of the Obama administration allowing them to fly to your house willy-nilly, then you should elect me governor (no, wait!, first send money, then elect me governor) because I know whole bunches of stuff about these things that you wouldn’t understand and they hate you, so, um, yeah, I should be governor. Don’t forget about the money thing.”

Kind of hard to follow the logic, huh? Ahh, I’ll let this one pass. But no money for you, Mr. Hoekstra.


Michigan Economic Quiz…

Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, January 4, 2010

You know, I may have had something clever to add here about Michigan’s current economic predicament, but then, well,  there was this earthquake in Haiti and I’m mostly feeling blessed about living in Michigan at the moment….


2009 in Michigan — Pretty Brutal…

Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, December 28, 2009

Yet another invasive species is making its way to the Great Lakes, four of which make a shoreline with our beleaguered state of Michigan. This time it’s the Asian carp, a large and nasty fish that would gobble up and muscle out the native plants and creatures, which is bad enough. But they also have an alarming tendency to leap out of the water when agitated by motors — motors on the boats of, say, unsuspecting fishing enthusiasts who might then seek to avoid spending their fishing time in Michigan and spending their fishing money. What’s next? A plague of locust?