Today’s Gag

November 28, 2008
armageddonCopyright © 2008 Jim Sizemore.

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Poster Wars

November 26, 2008

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Judging solely by the graphic qualities of these two posters, which one would more likely entice you to see the movie it represents—the original design from 1951, or the promo for the remake, which opens Friday, December 12, 2008? Click images for larger views. To vote (and perhaps tell us why you prefer one more than the other), click the word “Comments” below. The poll results will appear as an addendum to this post on December 3.

Poster Poll Results: There were a total of 14 responses to my query—three as direct comments on the 11/26 post, and the rest via e-mail. (And, because of the small sample, let’s assume an error rate of 97%, give or take.) The ballot breakdown is thus: Only one person, a friendly contrarian, voted for the new poster design. That means that the other thirteen voters—including me—like the old poster better. (Judging solely by the few clips I’ve seen, I think it’s safe to say that most of us will feel the same about the remake of the movie itself—but we’ll leave that discussion for another time.) Personally, aside from the unimaginative composition, mundane font selection and symmetrical layout, the thing that rankles most about the contemporary poster design is its lack of human juice. It’s cold. Even the Speilberg back lighting trick to create “drama” has been used so often it’s a visual cliche. (Sigh—they just don’t make movie posters (or movies) like they did in the good old days! I know, I know—I’m a curmudgeon.)

Copyright © 2008 Jim Sizemore.


Today’s Haiku

November 24, 2008

swallow1

Skimming the lawn

behind riding mowers

the barn swallows feast on bugs.

Copyright © 2008 Jim Sizemore.


Business As Usual

November 21, 2008

promotionsblogTo purchase reprint rights for this cartoon, buy a print, or have it reproduced on T-shirts, mugs, aprons, etc., visit the CartoonStock website by clicking the sidebar link. If you would like to own the original of any of my selection of more than 500 gag cartoons, contact me for information about price and availability. My e-mail address is: jimscartoons@aol.com

Copyright © 2008 Jim Sizemore.


Vanity Doodle

November 18, 2008

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Any young man who ever smoked a pipe (including me), and made a picture of himself doing it, was—or at least appeared to be at the time—a pompous ass.

Copyright © 2008 Jim Sizemore.


Today’s Haiku

November 15, 2008

two-crows2

Twin crows debating

on a snow covered tree branch—

Heckle and Jeckle?

Illustration: Two Crows in Winter, Yosa Buson; Private Collection, Japan

Copyright © 2008 Jim Sizemore.


Business As Usual

November 14, 2008

officeblog21To purchase reprint rights for this cartoon, buy a print, or have it reproduced on T-shirts, mugs, aprons, etc., visit the CartoonStock website by clicking the sidebar link. If you would like to own the original of any of my selection of more than 500 gag cartoons, contact me for information about price and availability. My e-mail address is: jimscartoons@aol.com Copyright © 2008 Jim Sizemore.


Corner Stores

November 12, 2008

Drink Chilly Willee Now!

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In 1940s South Baltimore there seemed to be a “mom and pop” grocery store on every other street corner—and many more in the middle of blocks—and the densely packed and populated neighborhood of shoulder to shoulder row homes meant their were plenty of people to keep them busy. (One friend of mine, a successful comic strip artist, grew up in a 1,500 square foot home with his parents and six siblings.) Those small commercial establishments were what today we’d call “convenience stores,” the “7-Elevens” of that era. 7up(Among scores of items, they sold my favorite snack food, called “Coddies,” or codfish cakes, made daily and served on salty crackers with mustard; they cost five cents each.) The basic day-to-day supplies people needed were just steps away from their front doors, and everything else could be found at the end of a slightly longer walk to the full-service shopping areas on Light and Charles Streets, and in Cross Street Market; or a short street car ride uptown. Meanwhile, most of the booming wartime labor force walked to their jobs at the dry docks and factories lining the harbor. Few families could afford a car, and none that I knew of had more than one, so there were no parking problems. (That’s unlike today in South Baltimore where there are at least two cars to each home.) The photographs I’ve used to illustrate this post were taken in the late 1970s, but they give you some idea of what I saw as a boy growing up in South Baltimore in the 1940s and ’50s. My only regret is that I could have (should have) photographed more of the remaining corner stores—of which there were still many in the ’70s—and the unintentional beauty of their cluttered window displays.

Copyright © 2008 Jim Sizemore.


Blind John at the Movies

November 10, 2008

The Day the Earth Stood Still

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The 20th Century Fox remake of the classic 1951 science fiction movie, The Day the Earth Stood Still, opens December 12, 2008. When I was growing up in the early 1950s, the original film was a must-see for boys my age (12 at the time)—and now, nearly 60 years later, I expect the new version will have the same power for kids of this generation. My love for the movie inspired a scene in an unpublished novel. In my tale the protagonist and first-person narrator, on the recommendation of a fellow newsboy, takes a blind schoolmate to “see” the movie. Here is an edited version of that scene:

Wilson said I had to see it, so when Blind John asked me to go, I went. Wilson claimed that The Day the Earth Stood Still was a bombshell movie to hit Baltimore. He said after I saw it I’d understand why we had to duck under our school desks once a month for atomic bomb practice. “Also,” he said, “Billy Gray is your twin brother, right down to the freckles and messy red hair.”

In the movie a flying saucer from space lands in Washington across from the Capitol Building. It comes down with crazy music and gets surrounded by Army guys with guns. I put my mouth close to Blind John’s ear and whispered, “It’s night. Beautiful shadows. The flying saucer is silver and—” Blind John cut me off with a little grunt. Next thing in the movie a nervous soldier shoots the alien guy in the shoulder, and the alien’s robot, Gort, disintegrates their rifles. The tall alien tells a government man, “We have come to visit you in peace and with goodwill.” His name is “Klaatu” and he sounds like a radio news guy from England. “I merely tell you the future of your planet is at stake.” He also says, kind of snotty, “I’m impatient with stupidity. My people have learned to live without it.”

Later—Klaatu escapes from the hospital and goes to live in a rooming house with Patricia Neal and Billy Gray so he can learn humans better. Klaatu tells her his name is Mr. Carpenter and she believes it. I whispered to Blind John, “You can tell she likes him.”

“It’s that background music,” Blind John said, “plus the music in his voice—she lets him seduce her with it.”

“Seduce her?”

“She’s unhappy—a widow—she’s lonely.”

“But he’s an alien from outer space!”

“So what?”

Pretty soon Klaatu—Mr. Carpenter—he stops the electricity in the whole world for thirty minutes to teach us a lesson. The crazy music comes back. I told Blind John how the pictures showed everything on the planet screeched to a halt, but he just sighed. “Patricia Neal looks worried,” I whispered. Blind John squirmed in his seat. We both stayed quiet until the part where Klaatu gets shot again. “Patricia Neal looks sad,” I said. And then, all of a sudden, Blind John threw a handful of popcorn in my face, popcorn I had paid for out of my newspaper money. “Why’d you do that?”

“I ain’t deaf! I know from her voice and the music how she looks.”

Klaatu tells Patricia Neal to run to the space ship and say to the robot, “Gort, Klaatu barada nikto!” She asks Mr. Carpenter what it means but he says never mind and dies. Later Gort brings Mr. Carpenter back to life on the spaceship. At the end Klaatu makes a big speech to warn us to be good before it’s too late. The movie had real good shadows but didn’t make sense. If we were about to blow ourselves up with atomic bombs, why would Klaatu want to burn us up to save us? But at the end Blind John was on the edge of his seat and had a tight grip on my arm, one fist at his mouth. “Beautiful!” he said. “Patricia Neal was transformed!”

“Big deal,” I said. “Her guy gets back on his spaceship and leaves.”

“Yeah, but now she feels loved.”

I shrugged. “Didn’t get that part.”

As a huge fan of the original The Day the Earth Stood Still, I can only hope that the remake at least comes close to measuring up thrill-wise, but realistically I know that Hollywood doesn’t have much of a positive record in that department (think Psycho, etc.). We shall see. Copyright © 2008 Jim Sizemore.


Business As Usual

November 8, 2008

To purchase reprint rights for this cartoon, buy a print, or have it reproduced on T-shirts, mugs, aprons, etc., visit the CartoonStock website by clicking the sidebar link. If you would like to own the original of any of my selection of more than 500 gag cartoons, contact me for information about price and availability. My e-mail address is: jimscartoons@aol.com Copyright © 2008 Jim Sizemore.