Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Glass of Yeast Piss

Ed, the Hall Tutor, was the consummate preppie from Downeast. He had his obligatory Topsiders (worn without socks, of course) and corduroys, but what distinguished him from the others of his kind was his choice of shirt. In most strips, he was pictured wearing a tee-shirt that was an homage to his favorite beer, which was Coors.
Today, Coors is a pretty ordinary beer - you can get it anywhere - but in 1977, Coors was not made outside its home state of Colorado. It also was not preserved, which meant that it was not widely available. In the early '80s, Coors built a brewery in North Carolina, and ended up destroying its mystique. Today, Coors is foreign-owned (Molson's of Canada bought the brand in 2005, and SAB Miller, a South African brewery that bought the legendary Miller Beer brand, went into a joint venture together a couple of years later to brew Coors in the United States), and other beers have captured the attention of beer connoisseurs. The thought of Miller and Coors together would have horrified purists in the '70s. Miller Time, it might have been back then, but not if we could help it.
In 1972, it was the rare Coors bottle that made its way to the East Coast. Texas was able to get occasional imports of the beer, and it was prized by Texas liberals who took their vacations in places like Rocky Mountain National Park (in fact, Coors was the only beer served in our household). Coors was cold-filtered and made with Rocky Mountain water, which meant that the beer was as pure and fresh as the mountains. Other beers were heat-pasteurized, and though it's hard to fathom how heat pasteurization could kill the taste of a glass of urine, cold-filtering was considered to be natural. Naturally, anyone who treated his body as a temple but still loved a good beer buzz early in the morning would drink Coors. It was an easy beer to drink - perhaps too easy. In fact, it was said that the only difference between Coors and piss was 30 minutes. At least there was a time difference involved, as opposed to Shiner Beer, which was concocted in a little brewery in Shiner, Texas, and could strip your innards.

What was ironic about the liberal worship of the Coors brand was the fact that the Coors brewery was owned by some of the most fanatical conservatives to venture into politics. Adolph Coors had started the brewery in Golden, Colorado, back in 1913, and it had stayed in the family until the 21st Century. There was an unwritten rule that no outsiders were allowed in the brewery, which essentially meant no blacks and no Mexicans. It was also an anti-union shop, which also rankled those trying to organize the brewery workers. On top of that, there were the outspoken politics of Joseph Coors, who formed the Committee for the Survival  of a Free Congress in the '70s (later, it became the Free Congress Foundation) and was an early backer of Ronald Reagan's run for president in 1976 and again in 1980. The Committee's principal mission was bashing liberals and liberal causes, which was basically Coors thumbing their noses at their biggest beer-drinking constituency.
The attempts to organize the Coors brewery, and the rumors of their discriminatory practices against Hispanics led to a boycott effort in California, and that boycott was a heated topic on the Stanford Campus in 1979. The esteemed Senate of the Associated Students of Stanford University decided that the issue required further study, and in early 1979, the Senate sent a delegation to Golden, Colorado, to discuss the boycott with the Coors family. They came, they saw, they quaffed, and they left. The four student senators came back to Stanford and issued a final report: "Burrrp!"

The delegation also reported back to the Senate that they had found out, among other things, the secret to Coors Light, which was a light beer that managed to produce a nice, foamy head when poured into a glass (supposedly, Lite Beer, which was Miller Beer's pioneering brand, had no head). Miller Beer had captured the attention of beer drinkers with its "everything you wanted in a beer - and less" ads, featuring any number of personalities from the worlds of literature, motion pictures and especially sports. The other brewers tried to counter the runaway popularity of Lite Beer by introducing their own light brands; I'm not sure of the origins of this ad, though I suspect it was Coors again. Whatever it was, a cartoon was sure to follow.
Now, I already mentioned my skepticism that heat pasteurization could kill the taste of urine. When someone says, "This beer tastes like piss", they are not far off the mark. The brewing process essentially consists of introducing yeast into a porridge of malt, barley, hops and a few other choice ingredients. The yeast, who cannot believe their good fortune at having been invited to an all-you-can-eat buffet of their favorites, proceed to gorge themselves, and then their tiny little bodily functions take over. The food acts as a powerful diuretic, and the yeast piss themselves until they drown. You drink the piss. Now, while you may be tempted to tell your bartender, "I'd like a glass of yeast piss, please", you may want to refrain.

And let's end this essay with a story about Budweiser's mascot. In 1988, before the Budweiser Frogs had been created, Anheuser Busch came up with another cute little animal to sell their beer products - a lumpy, nondescript bull terrier named Spuds McKenzie. Spuds was described as a party animal, and he was competition for Alex, the beer-fetching dog popularized in commercials for Stroh's Beer. But Spuds had a decidedly Jamaican lilt to his attitude, which was kind of hard to fathom in a bull terrier. Nonetheless, I was inspired to come up with a poster that played on the brief popularity of Spuds McKenzie.
I've got to admit - the potato looks like that dog.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Barely Brothers Band

It is said that the legend of the Baskir Musicians is strong. It was also said of my family that when we were still young and in school, one brother (me) played the flute, another brother played the piano and the third brother played the stereo. My youngest brother would develop quite a CD collection once he got out into the working world and settled in North Carolina, and his son would learn to play bass and join a band. If you happen to be in the Massachusetts Berkshires, near Hampshire College, you might eventually run into these guys. They are the Barely Brothers Band - at the far left, Sam Baskir: center, Ian Schenholm; near right Daniel Peck; and far right, Nick Anschuetz. Also in the picture is Scott Murawski of Max Creek and the Mike Gordon Band.

The Barely Brothers Band has been turning out some good music recently, and some of it can now be found online. These songs were recorded at Snowzees a year ago but are just now available:

Wolfman's Brother

Bathtub Gin

Just a reminder - this is the Stickles music tradition:

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Don't Touch My Coke!

I miss the golden age of air travel. For me it was probably more golden than for most because I can remember a time when there was no airport security. In the '60s, when I was a mere lad, passengers walked in the front door at the airport terminal, bought their tickets, checked their bags (as many as they wanted, for free!) and (in some cases) walked across the tarmac to get into the airplane. The passenger boarding bridge, which allowed people to walk onto the airplane directly from the holdroom without going outside was still a relatively new invention, and despite the introduction of the Boeing 707 (and later the 727), there were still plenty of piston-driven propeller aircraft around - Convair 440's, Douglas DC-6's and 7's, and Lockheed Constellations. For an airplane enthusiast (and I was one), it was a time when I could go to the airport on a Saturday afternoon, just to watch the airplanes take off and land. There were even observation decks - outdoor observation decks! - on the roofs of some terminals, so you could look out at the airplanes with only a chain link fence holding you back (for your protection, not to protect homeland security).

Then in 1968, the first American got on board an airplane and decided in mid-flight to change his travel itinerary to include Havana, Cuba. He would soon be joined by others, some of them fleeing conscription into the Vietnam War and others motivated by their solidarity with Fidel Castro. All were enabled by handguns they had toted onto the airplane with them (because happiness is a warm gun). In 1970, a quartet of American aircraft were hijacked in Europe and flown to the desert (I think it was Egypt). This time, the aircraft had been hijacked by Palestinians in what would be the first of many incidents that were intended to liberate their homeland. The airplanes were later incinerated.

After a sufficient number of these incidents, the US authorities, and those in other countries decided that perhaps they needed to restrict the carriage of weapons onto aircraft, and the first laws were enacted to prohibit persons from walking onto airplanes armed. They set up the security procedures that we all came to know and, if not love, then accept. Metal detectors were hastily developed, tested and installed at all airports, and everyone who wanted to go out to where passengers were boarding airplanes had to pass through one - to prove they were weapon free. The detectors were simple - they shone X-Rays through the person who was passing through them and emitted a loud warning beep if anything suspicious were detected. Crude, they were, but they were effective. And security screeners trained and employed by the FAA or hired by private contractors working for the airlines made sure that no contraband got through. It was easy, it was simple, it was no big deal. Then came 9-11.

The destruction of the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York was an unexpected shock that changed everything about air travel. Suddenly, we were all on hair-trigger alert. Airplanes that had previously been quarantined from us by a thin line of metal detectors were now suddenly more vulnerable than anyone had ever conceived, and their potential to be used as bombs had us all spooked. No one was more spooked than our government, which now fretted how to reliably keep us safe from terrorists bent on committing suicide by ramming an airplane into a building. Thus was born the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security, and the burdensome rigamarole of having your bags sniffed by explosives detectors and of taking off your shoes, your belt, your metal jewelry and all your other junk. The plain vanilla metal detector now takes pictures of you (and sells them to Penthouse), and if you don't like it, the security agents will play "I feel your fingers, touching my shoulder" (fans of Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical already know the tune). If you don't like getting your junk touched (and I have many friends in Hong Kong who are very possessive of their junks), it can be hard to find a seat on a flight. For the airlines, life has never been the same. As soon as they dug out of the hole caused by skittish passengers abandoning flights after 9-11, oil prices went through the roof, and it took a recession to bring prices down, which meant no one was flying airplanes. Now, flights are full and ticket prices are up, but so is fuel again. The airlines just can't catch a break. American Airlines, the one carrier that knew how to make money in the '80s and '90s, hasn't seen a profit in a decade. And every other airline except Southwest has gone bankrupt at least once (maybe that's what American has done wrong!).
We had other worries in 1980. For one thing, the Iron Curtain had not yet fallen. For another, oil prices had gone up to $40 a barrel, which pushed the pump price well over $1 a gallon. The cause of that was a third worry: Iran had seized Americans as hostages. And finally, the economy was in the doldrums. But the airlines had been deregulated, and we could be reasonably certain that flights were safe from the specter of hijacking. We just couldn't be confident of the ingredients in Coca-Cola.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Go Go Pogo

Cartoonists who do it for a living publish 7 days a week, 365 days a year. The Monday through Friday comics page in the typical newspaper is filled with four-panel black and white strips, but on Sunday, the cartoonist gets a half page and produces what is typically an 8-panel cartoon, in glorious living color. Most of my cartoons were four panels, but I did experiment with the Sunday 8-panel format, only I didn't colorize them. Because Stickles was appearing in the Tech at the time, I didn't have a whole lot of space for my cartoons, and so consequently, it is likely that the larger format strips were not published. But I managed to create a half dozen of the Sunday format strips in the early 1980's, and this is the first of them.
What a line-up, indeed. The year is 1980, the last year of the presidency of Jimmy Carter, and in England, it is early in the term of a political ideologue named Margaret Thatcher, a prime minister who would become an example and the muse of Ronald Reagan. On the East and West Coasts of the United States, where economic malaise had settled in, punk rock and new wave music are just beginning to leave their mark. I was in Palo Alto at the time and settling into my first permanent 40-hour-a-week job, and the Bay Area, like Boston, was teeming with young bands playing aggressive music that sounded just like the music happening in the night-clubs in London (no, not the discos!). It was a time of Turning Japanese and Dancing With Myself, of Urgh! A Music War, skinny ties, skinny-legged jeans and sleeveless tee-shirts, when bands such as the Dead Kennedys, the Circle Jerks and X were just beginning to establish a name for themselves, and KROQ in Los Angeles was beginning to shake up the airwaves. You could still see Greg Kihn and his band performing in the Stanford Student Center, in the days before "The Break-up Song" and "Jeopardy" made him a nationwide phenomenon (Kihn hailed from Beserkeley and his band was a Bay Area favorite - at least among the skinny tie, skinny-legged jean and sleeveless tee-shirt set).

Boston had its own favorite haunts for music, promoted by WBCN and a host of college radio stations. Because I was on the West Coast, I had no idea who the big names in underground music in Beantown were, but if I had to guess, new wave bands in Boston got named the same way new wave bands in Berkeley got named. Hence, the strip above.

Incidentally, the typical 8-panel strip always had a 2-panel joke followed by a 6-panel joke. That 2-panel was kind of a warm-up act for the headliner. In the strip above, the reference to "three-out-of-ten" is an homage to Darryl Martinie, the Cosmic Muffin, who was a long-time reader of Zodiac signs for the star-struck and star-crossed, on the radio in Boston and elsewhere. He would come on every evening, usually late at night, with his cosmic predictions for the coming day, replete with references to rising signs, moons in seventh houses, cusps and other astrological phenomena. Before he signed off with his customary salutation, "It's a wise man who rules the stars. It's a fool who's ruled by them", he would summarize with a numerical prediction for the coming day. If he gave you a 7 or 8 out of a possible ten, it was going to be a good day to take that all-important final or call that chick from McCormick that you thought was giving you the eye in the 8.03 lecture. But woe be unto you if he only gave a 3 or less out of a possible 10; then it was a good time to hole up in your room and avoid direct sunlight for a while. When the '90s came around, so did Miss Clio, who could be summoned up by phone - which kind of dimmed Darryl Martinie's star.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mad Man and Englishmen

Yes, I was in the advertising racket. You've already seen this ad I did for Dick's Deli in thursday.
Dick's got these cartoons for free (aside from what they paid to thursday, which wasn't much when you figure they stiffed the newspaper out of $100 when they closed unexpectedly). So did a lot of my MIT colleagues, for whom I drew posters advertising parties, mixers, special movie showings and other things. But I had at least one client that paid me for my drawings. As I mentioned, my cartoons were used to sell vitamins (or rather supplements) to kids. Thus was created the GOPHER Gang, a group of cool kids and one funny-looking doctor (and a gopher, of course). The GOPHERs were created to promote good nutritional habits to a younger audience, which everyone knew was going to be a hard sell given the typical youngster's preference for soda pop, fast food, chips and candy. However, it didn't help that the first attempt to reach them was a newsletter filled with dense print, along with the cartoon characters.
This was the one and only issue (and I'm leaving out the inside pages of this four-page newsletter). 
This was as far as the project got. It had everything it needed to become a hit, but then, so did the Carolana Colony Mystery Package, for which I also drew a cartoon. The most I'm going to say about the Carolana Colony Mystery Package is that it commemorated the Carolana Colony, a heretofore undiscovered British Colony that was found in Texas in 1987 when a backhoe operator digging in a parking lot just north of downtown Houston happened upon some undisturbed black earth graves. A friend of mine - a Brit who had moved to Texas almost two decades earlier to promote unregulated offshore radio (pirate radio, mateys!) - took an interest in the graves, as did a professor and archaeologist at the University of Houston. The professor researched the history of the graves, and determined that they were indeed from an English Colony that tried to establish itself in Texas at a time contemporary with the Carolina Colony at Jamestown. My friend tried to turn that history into a pop culture item by putting together a package consisting of 8 miniature flags representing the Eight Flags Over Texas (France, Spain, Mexico, Texas, Confederacy and the United States - and England and Carolana), a booklet with a condensed history, a cartoon that I drew, and a baggie full of dirt (taken from the parking lot where the graves were found). These were taken to Trader's Village in Grand Prairie, Texas, and offered for sale, and in one afternoon exactly zero were sold (on the other hand, some lucky customers walked away with bargains on Blaunkton car stereos and Alphine speakers).

So what did Houston do with this astonishing bit of history that was right under their noses? They did what Texans usually do with historic artifacts - they paved it over with asphalt.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Moving in Stereo

Stereos. They were almost as ubiquitous as fire extinguishers in a student's room. Just about everyone had one. And roaches (everyone had many, many more than one).

Stereos provided our high-fidelity musical entertainment. Today's systems are quite different from what we had in the '70s. Whereas today's units are indeed a unit (receiver, amplifier, tape deck, CD player and sometimes even speakers in a single plastic body), high fidelity in the '70s was built on components (and Bang & Olufsons are still built on that principle today). You didn't buy everything in one box (well, you could, but the sound reproduction was, well, Heathkit quality). No, you bought everything separately - receiver, amplifier (most receivers were the amplifier, but a really sophisticated set-up required a separate amplifier to really give the sound a boost), speakers and a turntable. Those with the money would get a cassette tape player to go with the system, but frequently the turntable was all you needed, especially in the days of 33 1/3 long-playing records. I later found the tape player to be a useful feature because I liked to rip my music off the radio, and somehow recording the ambient sound coming through the air tended to lose something - and gain something (like a coughing fit in the middle of a song you were recording). Connecting it all together were jacks and wires, and you had to plug the right jack into the right hole, otherwise you wouldn't get sound to your speakers. It was red jack to red hole, black jack to black hole, and so on. It was a little like trying to patch together all the components of a desktop computer (but who uses those anymore?)

In the '60s, stereo receivers would frequently come from places like RadioShack. My father, the Renaissance Man, actually brought home a kit from RadioShack and carefully soldered the whole thing together, giving us our first stereo system. When I bought my first system, in 1977, I carefully researched Consumer Reports (my high-brow neighbors on the floor went for the electronics magazines with the reports on stereo equipment that were prepared by experts in the field, supposedly), and developed a plan for a system with everything I needed for about $400. In those days, $400 would buy you about 100 watts of power, a turntable with a clean sound coming through the tone arm and needle, and a set of speakers that could faithfully reproduce just about anything recorded on Deutsche Gramophon. I went with a Harman Kardon receiver/amplifier, a B-I-C turntable with an AudioTechnica cartridge and needle on the tone arm and Avid speakers - all of which came highly recommended by Consumer Reports. It was plenty powerful; in fact I could stick my speakers into the window and bounce an echo off the Landau Building (a Chemical Engineering lab right next to East Campus) from my Goodale dorm room.

As powerful as my system was (and it had enough power to blast Hoyt Axton's "You're the Hangnail in My Life" clear up Ames Street), it was no match for Norm Sheppard's system with its floor-mounted speakers. Ed, our hall tutor, also had a massive sound system that was just perfect for listening to the heartbeat at the end of Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" broadcast at 100 decibels. Various people on Third and Fourth East also had the ability to crank it up and annoy those peaceful souls on First West, and when it was time for a party, we could string all the stereos together in parallel so that they'd all play the same record in unison. Of course, doing that would blow all the fuses, so we simply removed them and stuffed a large wad of aluminum foil into the fuse socket. When we cranked up the sound, the foundations of West Campus literally moved.

When I became a disc jockey (and I was the house DJ for a few of the Strat's Rats in my senior year), I found out about different types of turntables. The set-up in my dorm room had a belt-drive turntable, which was typical for most consumer applications, but disc jockeys needed something more heavy-duty. For them, there were direct-drive turntables, in which a gear in the base of the unit spun the turntable, rather than a belt. This was essential because disc jockeys, whether in a broadcast studio or a night club, needed the ability to cue records by hand so that the music started the instant the needle was placed on the record (there were little tricks to this; you could let the turntable spin while holding the record in place on the felt pad that was the turntable top, then gently releasing the record so that it would start to spin without the needle skipping). Belt drives were too jerky and unreliable for this task; for one thing, holding the record still could screw up the belt, and even if that weren't a problem, the jerk of the record when the belt engaged could cause the needle to skip off the disc. In the early '80s, Grandmaster Flash would learn how to slide records back and forth on a direct drive turntable, producing the "scratching" sound that has become so familiar to hip-hop enthusiasts.

As I mentioned, I did not buy a tape player for my stereo system until a few years later. I had acquired a car with a cassette player in it, and I wanted to record my LP's (and certain songs I heard on the radio) onto cassette tape so I could play them in my car. The first tape players had a single slot, or "deck", for the cassette tape, which meant that they recorded from either the turntable or the radio, then played back. There was no cutting and pasting possible; you got only what you recorded directly off the other units. Then, in the early-to-mid '80s, the first dual tape decks appeared...and the recording industry had a cow. "These dual decks will lead to music piracy" they screamed in unison, and the din got even louder when Aiwa made a dual dubbing deck that could record from one cassette to another at high speed. There were dire predictions of lost sales and attempts to restrict the use of the dual decks, but eventually, common sense and the consumer won out. The next threat was just about to emerge - the dual deck VCR, capable of dubbing from one VHS tape onto another. This was 1990. Within 20 years, everyone was loading MP3's onto their iPod's and Smartphones, and the music industry would never be the same again. 

Monday, May 16, 2011


Tunafish. It's a favorite of human beings and cats alike. I mean, it's a real convenience food - it comes out of a can. The only thing you have to do to it is open it into a bowl (draining off the water first), put in some mayonnaise and mash it up. The result can be spread between two slices of bread with either a leaf of lettuce, a little butter, maybe some pickle relish and served as part of a healthy and delicious lunch (or you can put a tunafish sandwich or two into a baggie and save it for lunchtime). Cats, being none too particular, will eat tunafish without any special preparation; all you need to do is open a can and set it in front of them. Many cats will even lick out the can once the tunafish is out of it. Tunafish is the one thing that cats are dreaming of when they're chowing down on the kibble that their owners typically set in front of them. About the only thing a tunafish doesn't do well is smell like a bouquet of peonies. No, it smells like tunafish, and the longer it smells like tunafish the worse it smells - except to pussycats, who would eat it even if it had been fermenting in the sun for a week.

I've had tuna in many different forms. I've had tunafish on rye (yum). I've had tuna melts on rye, on the presumption that warm tunafish always tastes better with a little melted cheddar cheese on it. I've had tuna salad, which in most restaurants is a whole lot of lettuce, some tomato and maybe a few bits of fish hiding underneath it all on the plate. I've eaten tuna sushi, which presumes that Americans can be suckered into eating a raw piece of fish on a finger of rice if you make it expensive enough (this is also the French theory of cooking that created steak tartar). And I've had tuna steak, which is premium eating with very little fat and cholesterol.

Tuna steaks are tasty for the same reason that swordfish, shark and marlin are. These are gamefish. They are not small; in fact, the full-grown bluefin tuna is often over one thousand pounds, making it one of the biggest fish in the ocean. It is also a voracious eater. It has to be; it spends a lot of time and energy just swimming from one end of the ocean to the other. As a result, it is a very lean and muscular fish (despite its almost oval shape), which is not something you would imagine looking at a six-ounce can of it on a store shelf.

Tuna come in many varieties - about 50 in all. The ones we see on store shelves are yellowfin and skipjack, but there are other varieties. Bluefin is a favorite - so much so that it is at risk of overfishing. Then there is the albacore, which is the premium white tuna you see in a can. I am told there is also a variety called emocore; it swims mostly in the darker corners of the ocean and wonders why its life always sucks.

Tuna is just about a perfect source of protein for both man and feline, but there are some caveats. First of all, in the process of eating other fish, tuna tend to collect a whole lot of mercury; in fact, pregnant women are warned not to eat tuna, and even us mere mortals are warned to not make a habit out of eating albacore. Second, there was a time when tuna were fished in these large purse-seine nets that trawled up just about everything in the water - tuna, other fish, and dolphins, which are intelligent mammals that die in the nets and are discarded by fishermen afterwards. Lately, a lot of the major canners have been touting their tuna as "dolphin safe", so some of the furor has died down. Now, it's the tuna themselves that are in danger of being overfished, so a lot of well-meaning organizations have tried to get the fishing industry to adopt protocols that avoid the wholesale slaughter of tuna. It only makes sense; we have to think about what future generations of pussycats are going to eat if there aren't any tuna.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

And You Thought This Meant...

Another new cartoon, ripped straight from the land of advertising. Laptops didn't exist in the '70s, and the Internet was the province of the military, which kept it away from the public until the '90s. These days, though, you can find everything on the Web, and there is plenty of advertising online,  for stuff like mortgages for a full percentage point and a half below the current market rate for 30-year fixed mortgages. And there are ads for flattening your belly (or whitening your teeth; take your pick). Here's one weird old tip I learned for losing weight - get diabetes. There are some drawbacks, though.

The Kids in the Hall

We played games in the halls of our dorm. In fact, we invented games to play in the hall. We once converted the Walcott end into a bowling alley - complete with pins. That was good for an evening's worth of fun. We also played golf and Wiffle softball in the corridor. But most of the fun was had with frisbees, which only required two players. We'd set up at opposite ends of the corridor and fling the frisbee back and forth, trying to catch it as it caromed off the walls. There was only one little problem with hall frisbee...
Of course, the games most often played in the hallway were watersports. All I need to tell you about that is that Third East had 40 students and 42 fire extinguishers. There was one memorable evening in which the Third Easters got into it, and there was literally a waterfall running down the Goodale stairwell. Of course, water wasn't the only liquid or semi-liquid to decorate the carpet in the Third East hallway. Among the other items were shampoo, dish soap, various soft drinks, beer (of course), plain ice, dry ice, jellies and jams, chocolate syrup and a full jar of mustard. I think we kept our carpet a little cleaner, if for no other reason than to give the mah-jongg players a clean surface to play on.

Setting off the fire alarm was one of the trivial inconveniences of dorm life. Not only did it make an obnoxious sound until it was shut off, but on occasion, the fire department would respond to the alarm. They were not too appreciative of false alarms, and once they emptied out the entire dorm in response to a call. Later in life, I learned that this particular gag can be played in corporate offices, though typically it is pre-arranged by management without the knowledge of the employees. And the employees, having learned the game, will often stay in their cubicles working while the alarm is blaring. I mean, it beats standing in a parking lot in 15-degree weather.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What Would Stickles Look Like Now?

I realize it has been many moons since I've tried drawing a cartoon, and I've never attempted Stickles using a computer-based drawing tool. I say that knowing some of you remember the cartoon I drew back in 1998 for the 20th Reunion of the Class of '78. That particular cartoon was drawn using drafting software known as MicroStation, which is sort of like trying to shoot a fly with a blunderbuss. After that 1998 reunion, I was inspired to draw some one-panel strips, which now reside on a defunct computer somewhere in my basement (doesn't every discarded item in the world end up in a basement somewhere?). Those strips were sent to places like the New Yorker, which sent back a polite "thanks, but no thanks" letter. One of them did get published in a religious satire magazine which was somehow associated with John Bloom, the man behind Joe Bob Briggs, Drive-In Movie Critic and "God Stuff" (an old Daily Show feature, back when Craig Kilborn was the host). It was worth about $75 to me.

Anyway, here is the fruit of my labor. You may recognize it as a current-day beer commercial that's been getting a lot of airplay on Comedy Central and other youth-oriented television networks.
One thing I like about PC Paint is its ability to copy and paste, which allows me to cheat. You'll notice three of the panels look alike. I've never denied being lazy.