Thursday, November 29, 2012


If you're looking for a Christmas gift for a boy, you could do no better than to give him a rousing poster of sea battles in The Age of Sail. 

Here's (above) a detail of the famous painting depicting The Battle of the Nile in 1798.

It occurred shortly after Napoleon succeeded in dodging Nelson and successfully landed his troops in Egypt. Nelson arrived right behind him, ready for a fight, and immediately engaged the French fleet in the harbor. The French made the mistake of arranging their warships in a singe line and the British arrayed themselves on either side of it, catching the French in a crossfire. It was a big victory for Nelson.

It looks like the painter was prevailed upon to paint a duplicate (above) of the Nile picture, only in more somber colors. 

Nelson was afterward involved in another battle with the French off the coast of Syria. Britain won but Nelson was seriously wounded. Oddly the battle was most famously commemorated in a poem called "Casablanca" written by a British woman about the bravery of a French boy who fought for the other side. For a hundred years the poem was read by every schoolboy in the English-speaking world, but it's now largely forgotten.     

My guess is that this one (above) is of The Battle of Trafalgar. Wow, massive ships of the line going at it, fang and claw.

Is this Trafalgar again?

I'm guessing that this one (above) is of Drake's ships vs. The Spanish Armada.

What is this (above)? The ships look like frigates. I'll guess that it's a scene from a battle on The Great Lakes, but I'm probably wrong.

I have no idea what this (above) is. Are those Congreve Rockets...the kind that Britain used against America in The War of Independence? Maybe they're just red-hot shot.

Unfortunately battle posters are often small and expensive...why, I don't know...but bargains must exist. Give it a try.


On another subject, have you seen this video yet?  'Chances are you have, but just in case.......

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


You expect artists, especially painters, to live in strange-looking houses (above), and thankfully some do, but most live in more sedate environments. I'm glad that at least some painters live in houses not far removed from the kind the rest of us live in. That way we ordinary people can benefit from seeing how painters transform ordinary houses, and make them seem special.

So here's an ordinary home (above)....very cheerful, very neat....

 ...and here's (above) a painter's house. Not cheerful exactly, but very cozy.

It looks like a place where way too much marijuana gets consumed, but I like the emphasis on color. You can see the influence of South America and India.

This house fairly shouts, "A hippie artist lives here!"

A number of California painters I've met live in bungalows (above). I wonder if the price  above was, more than a hundred years ago, the asking price.

Maybe it was the cost of the plans. A lot of people built their own houses from mail order designs.

Bungalows I've seen (above) had pretty good landscaping. Artists are good at stuff like that.

Good bathrooms, too.

Sorry about the girl. I looked all over the net for pictures of the kind of Bungalow bedroom I was looking for, and the only one I could find was this one, which is "R" rated.

If you can bring yourself to look past the model, notice how simple and beautiful the room is. The dark brown of the wood, the detailing on the windows, the colorful bedspread, the tactile rug, the human scale of's a great look. You'll never see rooms like this in Architectural Digest. These rooms weren't meant to be fancy. They were meant to look lived in. Artists thrive in places like this.

Monday, November 26, 2012


I am here to extol the virtues of a simple, overlooked and undervalued item...the toupee.

There are lots of bad toupees (above) around, and they've given toupees a bad name.  What I wonder is, how many good toupees are out there? How many do their job so effectively that they're virtually indetectable? I don't know. I mean, if they were that good, how would we even recognize them?

Toupees are on my mind because of an incident that happened on Thanksgiving at Milt's house. After a terrific dinner (thanks, Katie!) I asked Milt (above, hairless, a few weeks before) if he'd care to try out some funny hats I brought over and he good-naturedly agreed. I took a picture of him in each one, and we all got a good laugh over it.

 Finally I came to the last one, which was not a hat but rather a toupee. It was the nine dollar "Tacky Toupee" pictured above, near the top. The instant I put it on my jaw dropped. In fact, the jaws of everyone at the table dropped. Nobody was laughing. There was dead silence. All, including me, were stunned.

Poor Milt didn't know why everybody was staring. Finally someone blurted out: "Oh, my God! He looks ten years younger!" I said more like twenty. We were all amazed. it was just a stupid horsehair wig, yet it sheared years off his apparent age.

The lesson I learned was that one day, when my hirsute days are over and I get really thin on top,  I'm going to cover up with a toupee or a baseball cap. It just doesn't make any sense to deny myself the self-confidence that comes from faking a full head of hair.

Friday, November 23, 2012


 How was Thanksgiving? Get enough turkey? Yeah, Thanks to Milt and Katie I did, too. I could hardly stand.

How about Black Friday? Get any bargains?


I stayed away from the stores on Friday, and greatly regretted it by the time night fell.

After all, it's our job as cartoonists to personally witness things like this. We should be in the thick of it, sketching ideas and impressions and getting photos.

There was humanity in the raw, and where was I? I was listening to records at Mike's house.

If I had it to do all over again, I'd don an old lady wig, grab the zebra-striped handbag I bought at the 99 cent store, and wade into the Black Friday crowd bashing people with my purse. It would make a great blog post!

Geez, I lost priceless opportunities on both Halloween and Black Friday. Am I going to blow Christmas, too? It seems to me that the only fit place for cartoonists in the last days before Christmas (apart from being with family and friends and charity functions) is at the busiest, most crowded, most agonizingly stressful stores we can find. Camera batteries should be fully charged, wallets left at home lest we fall prey to the buying frenzy.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Hello, Theory Cornerites! My name's Dandelion Fortesque, and I'm a Philosophy Girl. As you probably know, each Philosophy Girl specializes in a particular niche in the history of philosophy. Mine is the Roman know: Marcus Aurelius, Seneca...people like that. 

Today I'll be talking about Cato the Younger, the great Roman Stoic and Senator who disemboweled himself when Julius Caesar took power. Cato wasn't the type to commit suicide. He did it because he knew that Caesar would have him killed anyway, and he wanted to die in a manner that would inspire people to unseat the tyrant and restore The Republic. 

 It's worth asking, "Why did Cato believe that his death would motivate anybody to do anything?" After all, his adversary Caesar was popular and had convinced a lot of people that what the nation needed was a benevolent dictatorship.

The answer to that question is an interesting one. Most of the higher-ups in Rome were 
associated with the interests of the various ruling families or political factions. In the Senate only Cato and a small number of others had real moral authority. When he took a stand and backed it up with his life, people listened. 

That's because Cato had a reputation for objectivity and for thinking things through for himself. It was well known that he wanted to do what was best for Rome, regardless of his own biases, and regardless of what special interests thought. Every Senator claimed to do the same thing, but it only a small number actually did. How did Cato manage to convince a bunch of cynical aristocrats that he was the real deal?

Well, he lived the way that he spoke. He wore a simple black toga when all his peers wore lavish purple. He lived in a modest house and walked to work. He ate what the common people ate. When he was a general, he disdained a horse and walked along with the soldiers. He ate what his soldiers ate, and slept in the same gear. When sick, he never complained.

People are impressed by self-discipline. 

Cato's often cited by people who believe in the importance of character. He wasn't the richest or the highest born Roman, or the most successful general, and yet he was as influential as any of them. You could say that his character was worth an entire legion. 

That's really all I have to say, but I can't resist adding a footnote. Here's how Plutarch described Cato's death. Don't read it if you're's pretty grizzly:

Cato did not immediately die of the wound; but struggling, fell off the bed, and throwing down a little mathematical table that stood by, made such a noise that the servants, hearing it, cried out. And immediately his son and all his friends came into the chamber, where, seeing him lie weltering in his own blood, great part of his bowels out of his body, but himself still alive and able to look at them, they all stood in horror. The physician went to him, and would have put in his bowels, which were not pierced, and sewed up the wound; but Cato, recovering himself, and understanding the intention, thrust away the physician, plucked out his own bowels, and tearing open the wound, immediately expired.

I warned 'ya! See you next time!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Did you see Ultimate Fighting on Saturday night? If you didn't....TOO BAD! You missed one of the great fights in mixed martial arts! It was welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre (above, right) vs interim champion, Carlos "Natural Born Killer" Condit (above, left). WHAT----A----FIGHT!!!!!!

Condit's a super talented bully-type who became obsessed with the thought of wrecking St. Pierre's handsome face. He trained hard for 9 months specifically to fight GSP. He turned down other fights, he watched recordings of GSP's matches, he studied with specialists and with his adversary's trainers and sparring partners, and he trained nearly to death, as only the most obsessed fighters can. Imagine how creepy it must have been for GSP to fight somebody who knew more about himself than he did. 

 Not only that but St. Pierre was out of the fight game for a year and a half, recuperating from a serious knee injury. Fans wondered if he'd have "ring rust." When he entered the Octagon he looked, for the first time in his career, worried. He knew that Condit was serious competition.

Condit's a truly great fighter. For one thing, he's one of the best back fighters in mixed martial arts. He doesn't just lie there while the guy on top pounds him, he fights aggressively from the bottom. When you're on top of Condit you've got a tiger by the tail. No doubt a lot of opponents wished they hadn't taken him to the ground at all.

St. Pierre took him down repeatedly, and paid the price with a face that looked horribly torn and raw. GSP had to work hard to avoid punches, submission holds, moves to wiggle out, and to deliver the ground and pound that could win the fight. There were zillions of expert moves and counter moves, executed so fast that they were almost a blur. I half thought GSP would die from an overworked heart that only just barely managed to stay in his chest.

Eventually Georges won by unanimous decision. I imagine most fans would find it hard to bring themselves to say that that the dedicated and resourceful Condit "lost"...he just didn't win. In the best fights you admire both fighters almost equally. Georges got the belt he deserved and entered the history books as one of the greatest UFC fighters ever.


By the way, the top two pictures are of Condit and St. Pierre, but the animated gif is of two other fighters.

Sunday, November 18, 2012



EDDIE (VO): "Okay, while we're waiting for the pizza, how about a few pictures? You're a Dickens fan. How 'bout posing out something of his?"

KENT: "Sure! How 'bout this one....Mr. Pickwick from 'Pickwick Papers!' "

EDDIE (VO): "Wow! Great!"

KENT: "Or this one....David's mentally handicapped uncle from "David Copperfield."

EDDIE: "Brilliant! More! More!"

KENT: "Okay, one more....Micawber from 'David Copperfield' again.

'Annual income 20 pounds, annual expenditure 19 pounds, result...happiness. Annual income 20 pounds, annual expenditure 21 pounds, result...misery. The blossom is blighted, the leaf is withered, the God of day goes down upon the dreary scene.' "

EDDIE: "Haw! Very nice! You should be an actor! Wait, let me take one more picture.........Uh oh. It made you look evil. I swear, this camera could make Mother Theresa look evil. Here, take a look.""

KENT: "Oh, yeah. I see what you mean."

EDDIE (VO): "Don't worry, I'll delete it."

KENT: "No need to delete it. It's fine. Use whatever you want."

EDDIE (VO): "Whatever I....? Really!? You don't mind???? BLESS YOU, KENT!! You're a photographer's dream! Everyone else I know thinks I make them look bad, and they run the other way when I take out a camera."

KENT: "That's silly. They should let you take whatever you feel like."

EDDIE (VO): "Those are golden words by a great man. I'm humbled."

EDDIE (VO): "Wait! Here comes the pizza!"

KENT: "Aaaah, stringy Mozzarella. Nobody does it better than Lido's."


KENT: "Aaaahh, that last, satisfying bite!"

EDDIE (VO): "Yes, truly, Lido's does not disappoint."

KENT: "Okay, let's pay this bill! Let's got the linguine...but you had a coupon for 6% off. You let me use it, but the waiter said I'd only get 3%. That means I get a refund, but I owe you two bucks from last time, but then again, you owe me 4 bucks from August. If we split the tax, and reckon in the...wait a minute...okay, we have the right amount. We're good."

EDDIE (VO): "Any picture I want...any picture I want..."