Thursday, December 16, 2010

2010 In Review

Technology's wonderful. Now I need not limit myself to boring friends and family with my year end letter. I can now bore complete strangers. So here goes:

Dear Friends and Family:

Christmas Cartoon 8577

I had hoped that Wiki-Leaks would save me from writing a year-end letter by posting all the important information about my life, but so far as I can tell, I don’t rate a single mention. I guess I haven’t made enough snide remarks about world leaders.

Not that much happened to me this year … or maybe it’s that I’m getting old and can’t remember what happened. I believe I’ve entered what is euphemistically called a “woman’s change of life.” The hot flashes have really cut my heating bills and, even better, cut the frequency I have to wrangle a 40-pound bag of pellets into my pellet-stove. I swear, 40 pounds weighs a lot more today than it did 20-years ago. I think the Bureau of Weights and Measures should launch a full-scale investigation and Wiki-Leaks should post the results. I’ve also begun to wonder why people claim they’re younger than they are. I’m 53 and when I tell someone I’m 63, or better yet, 93, they say, “Wow, you’re in great shape!” I know a lot of baby boomers hate the idea of getting old, but I’m embracing my dotage and decrepitude and kind of enjoy the role of eccentric-wise-elder whose job it is to warp and mold those not yet old enough to have had their first colonoscopy.

Speaking of young people I’m working on warping, I got to see my four-year-old nephew Alex in June when we had another family reunion in France. He, my brother, Peter, and his wife, Anne, flew in from India. Alex arrived hale and hardy, but soon developed severe diarrhea and had to be hospitalized for five days. I guess there weren’t enough microbes in the Parisian water. Fortunately, medical care in France is top-notch. Most who worry about the U.S. adopting an European-like health-care system has never seen a doctor in Europe or, like myself, been denied insurance in the U.S. for pre-existing conditions and have to rely on faith-based care (i.e., praying that nothing happens to you that will bankrupt you).

Meanwhile, my adopted 10-year old-niece, Katie, spent much of the summer in a backyard pool. This may come as a surprise to those of you familiar with the climate here where two-consecutive 70° days are considered a heat wave and topless beaches are where the really frisky take off their sweatshirts. So how did Katie manage her daily dips? Solar panels and a wetsuit. She has a typical coastal Oregon tan where only her face and hands are dark. She’s young enough that she hasn’t developed a green patina from constant exposure to mold and mildew.

Cartooning has been pretty good this year. A few of my projects were ‘toons for a text-book on nano-technology (I still wouldn’t know a nano from a Big Mac), a series of ‘toons for wine coasters (wine coasters! Who needs to do draw cartoons about wine and cheese parties for the New Yorker when you can draw directly for winos?), and ‘toons for a unit on civility for the Montreal school-system (I can’t think of anything snide to say without seeming uncivil).

My dog, Sammy, and I still occasionally lead nature hikes for Elderhostel … excuse me, Road Scholar. Baby boomers are now Elderhostel age, but don’t like anything implying they may be getting old, so a name change was needed. For a brief period they called it Exploritas, thus going from a name that people hated to a name that people didn’t understand. Perhaps the powers-that-be who came up with this were boomers who found an old joint and made the decision in a drug induced haze.

I hope you and yours are well and happy.
Merry, Merry

More's Christmas Cartoons

Thursday, March 5, 2009

What Ever Happened to Inspector van Creveld?

Stop Work Order
I have reached a new milestone in my cartooning career: I ticked off someone enough that he contacted an editor. "I have been a reader of Rock Products for over 30 years. I can tell you that rarely has a cartoon offended me more than the McHumor in this month’s issue. We take safety very seriously and I find this in extremely bad taste."

"Rock Products?" you ask. It's a magazine that deals with, well, what else? rock products (quarries and the like). Hey, we can't all draw cartoons for magazines with centerfolds to die for or for the New Yorker. Actually, I used to draw cartoons for the New Yorker, but they never had the good sense to buy my work, so I eventually stopped wasting postage and concentrated on selling to trade journals ... but I digress.

This is the offending cartoon.

What's really funny is that it was inspired by a real life experience. My grandfather was a stonemason and when I was building my house he said that when I was ready, he would build me my hearth. I explained to him that since I was going to have a pellet stove, I didn't need a hearth. He pshawed. "No granddaughter of mine is going to have a house without a hearth."

Since I was doing much of the construction myself and funding the project as I went, it was a long time before I was ready, so long in fact, that when I finally told my grandfather I was ready he asked, "Ready for what?"
"For you to build me my hearth," I said. He snorted.
"I'm ninety-some years old. You build your own !@#$% hearth."

And that's what I did. I set up an easy chair for him and spread out on the floor the interesting rocks, agates, petrified-wood and fossils that I had collected over a lifetime, augmented with ones given to me by friends who knew of my plans. It was a slow process in that I'd lay down a row, wait a day for the mortar to set, lay down another row, and so on. When I was about three-quarters of the way through, I got home one day to find a yellow "Stop Work" order posted on my door from my septic inspector, a most dreaded development someone with a house under construction can get.

When I looked closer I saw that written below "Stop Work, was "have a beer." The inspector who'd left the order was an old friend and had left me a six pack in a mini-cooler. Still, my heart was going pitter-patter. I was also friends with his wife who, after popping open a bottle, I called. "Oh that man," she said. "What should we do for revenge?"
"Give me one of his ties," I said.

I mortared it into my hearth in and installed a plaque on the mantel that says, "Whatever happened to Inspector vanCreveld?"  He loved it and when he was training his replacement he brought him over to show his part in a very unique cartoon.

8355v-rock-cartoon's Inspector Cartoons

McHumor.coms Masonry Cartoons

Robert van Creveld currently runs Edgewater NW

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Space Shuttles, Espresso and Baths


NASA's impending launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavour with Barbara Morgan, the teacher-turned-astronaut who was Christa McAuliffe's back up 20 years ago on the ill fated Challenger Shuttle, made me think about espresso. Of course, in the Pacific Northwest where knowing how to operate a commercial-cappucino maker makes you more marketable than having a degree from one of the nation's top universities, it doesn't take much to make us think about espresso.

But there's a rational reason for my current thoughts. Espresso pots, like space shuttles, have O-rings, and if they're not put together right, espresso pots, like space shuttles, blow up. I learned this when I was about 13. I went to pour my mother a cup of espresso and the instant I lifted the pot off the stove it exploded, sending shrapnel all over the kitchen, some to this day still lodged in the walls. My mother sighed, rose from the dining room table, shuffled to a cupboard, dug out another espresso pot--this one twice the size of the one before--and began over, this time making sure to put in the O-ring.

Tea pots in Britain need a certain amount of competence to operate, too. Twenty years ago I was visiting a friend in Oxford, and even though I was exhausted and jet lagged, my host spent a good while showing me how to operate her electric tea kettle before I went to bed. Heaven forbade I should wake before her and wait an instant longer than necessary for a morning fix.

In the morning, though, what I really wanted was not a cup of tea, or even espresso, but a hot bath. Alas, my friend had only mentioned the workings of the bath in passing. Consequently I took a cold bath. That's because even someone such as myself--someone who does know how to operate a commercial-cappucino maker and has a degree from one of the nation's top universities--couldn't figure out the dropping in of coins of hard-to-find denominations into even harder-to-find slots, and then figuring out the right order to manipulate the series of pulleys, levers and knobs to avoid asphyxiation or scalding. I'm not a rocket scientist.

Best of luck to all the astronauts on the Endeavour.'s Coffee and Tea Cartoons's NASA Cartoons

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Coffins for the Living

"Demographic studies show that almost 100% of those who use coffins are dead." That was a note I jotted down in my cartoon idea note book. "Is there a way to expand the market outside of going on a shooting spree?" I added and promptly scratched out. Then I had a brilliant idea. Not a cartoon idea, but a genuine business idea. A way to double if not triple, quadruple the coffin--or as people in the trade refer to them, casket--market: sell to the living.

Caskets sell for between $1,000 and $10,000, and therefore is probably the most expensive piece of furniture anyone who's not a convicted CEO will ever use. Why shouldn't you get some use out of it while you're still alive? My uncle was buried in a casket with box springs. Box springs! The man didn't even sleep on box springs when he was alive. His last years of slumber could have been his most luxurious if he'd bought his casket before his death.

And the niche marketing opportunities! Futon lined caskets for crunchy granola types, IKEA casket-kits for do-it-yourselfers, and as a guest bed for those beset by out-of-town visitors over staying their welcomes. Caskets could fit into any room's decor with appropriate accessorizing. If made out of teak, it'd make a tasteful coffee table and since caskets have to be waterproof you could have a unique bathtub by adding a soap dispenser and a rubber ducky. The possibilities are endless.

I'm lousy at business so I'm going to let someone else run with this brilliant idea of mine. Oh, and before you try to sell me a casket, you should know that I plan on being cremated by ABC, Affordable Burial & Cremation Company of Newport.'s Cartoons about Funerals's Cartoons about Heaven

McHumor's Cartoons about Hell

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Is It Art or is it Gross Anatomy?

The Skin Man
Twenty years ago I used to live in Washington D.C. and one of my favorite haunts was the Walter Reed Medical Museum. I don't even know if it still exists. Among other things it had very graphic displays of reconstructed faces after they'd been mutilated in various wars, the leg of a Civil War general who ordered a medic to preserve what was left of it after it had been severed by a cannon ball, the bloated leg of someone who had died of elephantiasis, lots of other diseased, abnormal and normal body parts in jars, the bullet that killed Lincoln, and what I believe was the world's largest collection of human embryos. Obviously it was not a museum suitable for everyone. Then again, I'm not suitable for everyone since the only thing I found gross in gross anatomy was the smell of formaldehyde.

I thought about this when I went this weekend to Portland to see Body Worlds, a special exhibit at OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry). It's got dozens of bodies and body parts that have undergone a process called plastination. How to describe it? Corpses have been stripped of their skin, plastic has been injected into their muscles and other remaining tissues and then posed in amazing and stunning positions.

The exhibit has been surrounded by controversy. Is it ethical to display bodies--especially still anatomically correct ones--in a museum? OMSI and Body World officials say that it's all been done for educational purposes, to get people interested in anatomy and to show people what happens if you smoke, drink or partake of other unhealthy lifestyle choices. None of it, they say, was done for prurient purposes.

And are the plastinates--as the preserved bodies are called--art? The poses they're in are striking. The first case you encounter at the OMSI exhibit has a man holding his skin that has been peeled off his well muscled body. When I saw it I let out an audible "Woah!" As I went through the exhibit, I said "Woah" more times that I've ever said in a single afternoon . . . except for the time that I was on an ill tempered horse, but I'll save that story for a future blog.

My take on the controversy? Since all the bodies were donated by people who knew what was in store for them in the after life, is it any worse than having fifteen minutes of fame by being a contestant on Survivor or Are You Smarter than A Fifth Grader?

Frankly, what disturbed me most was that there weren't any bodies posed in positions we're all more likely to find ourselves in on a daily basis. They had a skate boarder in the middle of a flip, his male organs a'fly'n, a hurdler in mid hurdle with brain slices coming out of his skull and a fellow balancing on three balls while holding all his internal organs in the air. Where was the couch potato with a beer in one hand and a remote in the other, or a blogger hunched over a computer? Apparently the plastination process removes not only all the body's liquids, but the fat, too, so I imagine some of these folks may look better in death than they did in life. Still, I think I'm only volunteering as an organ donor. No everlasting fame for me.'s Medical Cartoons


Body Worlds Web Site

Friday, July 20, 2007

Pets? Friends or Foes?


Between Michael Vick's involvement in dogfighting and yet another person in suburban Portland being mauled by a pit bull, dogs have received a lot of press recently in the Oregonian. My family is worried that my dog, Sweet Pea, will kill me. Well, not exactly kill. Just be the cause my death. It's not that she--a large dog pound mutt, a malamutt, so to speak--is a dangerous dog. She's more of a hazard than anything. Speed Bump is one of her nick names because she's always under foot. Whenever I move, she and my cat, Inky also move. Sometimes I feel like the president and the secret service. I get up from my desk and she perks up. "She's on the move," she signals to the cats. "Get ready to swarm in case she decides to go down stairs."

My family's fears aren't totally with out foundation. My uncle died due to complications from injuries he suffered after tripping over his dog. It could have been worse. She could have been his therapy dog. She was a shepherd as I recall. Maybe that's why shepherds are on various lists of "Dangerous Dogs."

Sweet Pea's best friend is my cat, Inky. Actually, I think they're more than friends, if you know what I mean. I just wish they wouldn't flaunt the fact that some in the house have a love life. At least they're both fixed (although I don't think they think they were broken before) so I don't have to worry about baby mutants, even though I'm sure they'd be cute. Also since Sweet Pea's a she and Inky's a he, folks in the Red states can't object.'s Animal Cartoons

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Pimping My MySpace Profile


A real-world friend of mine convinced me that I could drum up business by posting a page on MySpace, so post a page I did, Within minutes someone named Tom emailed that he wanted to be my friend, quite a heady experience for someone who's socially awkward. Usually people in high school only wanted to be my friend when they needed me to help them with their homework.

According to Tom's profile he has 190,892,016 friends. Even though Tom must spend most of his time writing his Christmas/Hanukah/Kwanzaa cards, he was kind enough to say that he would be glad to help me figure out how to get the most out of MySpace. Alas, he added a p.s.: "One thing I can't help you with is HTML/decorating your profile." Apparently if you want to be one of the cool people on MySpace you have to "Pimp" your Profile. Having a page with a plain white back ground and helvetica type is about as geeky as wearing black sneakers in high school in the 1970s.

To pimp properly you should know programing code. Don't know programing code? Don't worry, MySpace tells you. There are many people on MySpace who know code who will want to be your friend.

I looked at several MySpace page templates. Glitter, cuddly animals and flaming skulls are popular motifs. I'm thinking of creating my own template with black sneakers.

Meanwhile, I have already had a business offer due to MySpace. Monica, a talent scout from, asked me to become one of their "performers." According to her I can make up to $100 an hour. Who knew there were so many people out there willing to pay $3 a minute to chat with a 50 year old woman who's added a few minutes to the hour glass figure she had in college? I wonder if they'll pay extra if I take off my sneakers while "performing."

I welcome any "pimping" suggestions you may have.'s Computer Cartoons