CSotD: All happy cartoons are alike

I realize it’s a case of “damning with faint praise,” but Mike Luckovich (AJC) offers the best of a bunch of happy cartoons praising the rollout of the Covid vaccine, which is a demonstration of Tolstoy’s opening of Anna Karenina that “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

That’s Tolstoy’s explanation for why nobody writes novels about happy families, or, at least, nobody writes very good novels about them.

They write nice novels about them, and, at the risk of channeling my inner Lou Grant, I hate “nice.”

There have been some very nice cartoons about how nice it is that we have a vaccine, and I’ve liked some of them, but it’s like watching someone sit in your restaurant drinking tea when they could be ordering good wine and maybe a whole meal.

But Luckovich is right that, after we’ve gone through a long, dark night on several levels, it’s awfully good to see the sun again, and he did well to bring in both the vaccine and the elections.

Though, while I’m not blown away by all the nice cartoons about the vaccine, the cartoons about the end of Trump make my Spidey senses tingle.


That is, Luckovich is quite correct that we should be happy with the election results, but, as noted yesterday, it’s far from over, and I like John Darkow (Cagle)‘s take, that, yes, it’s technically, officially over, but, then again, no, it’s not.

And Tolstoy’s theory is further fulfilled here by Trump proudly stating that he has never had to face the music before: It’s an example of why stories about the unhappy and unfortunate and unlikeable have more heft, because he was born into comfort, his path was paid through schools he barely attended, he was then set up with money he proceeded to waste and protected himself by bankruptcy fiddlings and a thick shell of his own well-practiced bullshit.

For my part, his greatest gift was how darkly realistic he made the character August Melmotte seem, as that cynical villain was fleecing half of London’s financial pretenders in Trollope’s “The Way We Live Now,” which I highly recommend.

And if you haven’t the time to read that brilliant, hilarious novel, you can binge the BBC miniseries on Amazon Prime.

You may find it easier to stomach, now that the parallels are largely in the past. One hopes.


At least Trump and Melmotte were scheming to grow rich from their snake oil shenanigans. It’s hard to find how Utah Senator Mike Lee expected any profit from using his ability to, with a single objection, block planned construction of museums honoring women and Latinos.

Pat Bagley (SLC Trib) dutifully notes that Lee had no reason for the move except, apparently, a strong desire to demonstrate that he doesn’t consider women or minorities worthy of honor. Really. Read that link.

However, he’s something of a cardboard villain. It takes more dimensions than that to be an interesting villain, rather than simply an (anatomical reference).

We’re approaching the most horrible time of the year, as noted by Graeme Keyes (Irish Daily Mail), who suggests that the high points of this year won’t take long to summarize.

But we sure will do it anyway, because (A) senior news staff will be off over the holiday and (B) so will all their sources, such that there isn’t a damn thing to report between about December 23 and January except plane crashes and earthquakes, and nobody to report it.

So each year reporters are required to go back through their notes and come up with these tiresome highlight summaries, which actually do raise an important issue: “If the news is going on holiday why don’t you go find something else to do yourself?”

Yeah, I know: My inner Lou Grant is getting a helluva workout today.


So wotthehell, I might as well join Reply All (WPWG) in mocking the use of emojis.

Emojis began simply — and usefully — enough, back in the all-print days, as a graphic way to indicate that a remark was intended to be either humorous 🙂 or sarcastic 😉 without trampling your own punchline by overtly saying so.

And then a few more came along to indicate things like shock 😮 which was kind of unnecessary but, sure, okay, whatever.

Well, then we got Windows and graphics and things went completely out of control and now there are so many emojis that you need a damn interpreter to figure out what they all mean, though I suppose a little icon of somebody puking is no more tiresome than people writing out the phrase “I just threw up a little in my mouth.”

There are so many people on-line these days throwing up a little in their mouths that I’m going to roll my entire IRA over into shares of companies that make acid reflux medications.


Though as John Deering points out in this Strange Brew (Creators), it’s not necessarily the most annoying verbal-tic-du-jour.

This one is jousting for “most annoying” with the omnipresent tic of beginning each answer with “Sure,” and, once you become aware of that one, you’ll barely be able to listen to public radio interviews ever again.

The issue there, I suspect, being that NPR interviews a lot of people who are not on radio often.

When I was in talk radio, my program director finally told me to stop saying “We’re back!” after every commercial break, and I suspect that people interviewed on CNN or MSNBC are similarly cautioned not to say “Sure” before every answer, since most of those programs seem to have a rotating cast of regular experts, aka, “the usual suspects.”

Perhaps chosen because they don’t begin every sentence with “Sure,” though they are still prone to dropping “At the end of the day” into things.

For which I blame Jean Valjean. It wasn’t fair to sentence him to the labor camps for stealing a loaf of bread, but he’s lucky they didn’t execute him for starting this.


Ah well. My own damn fault — I could have gone a la version francaise.


17 thoughts on “CSotD: All happy cartoons are alike

  1. I’m going to take notes from this Sunday morning’s “news” programs. I’m counting the number of times a talking head starts a reply to a question with “Look.”

    It’s pervasive. I think Chris Christie started it, but if he didn’t, he’s certainly perfected it.

    Keep up the good work.

  2. Back in the day, we didn’t hear “at the end of the day” so often. At least not day in, day out, as part of the daily grind. Those were the days, my friend — the good old days.

    (I still find “one of the only” the most irritating thing-I-see-everywhere-these-days, but for some reason it’s almost always in print — I seem to only very rarely hear someone actually *saying* it aloud.)

  3. A small nitpick: emotions spelled out with keyboard characters are emoticons, which are different than emojis. 😮 is an emoticon, but ? is an emoji. The difference is negligible, but it’s big enough for me to correct you on >:]

  4. (side note: it seems that these text fields are unable to print emojis. That question mark really ought to be a shocke face. Rest in peace, my demonstration. You will be missed)

  5. This year, the year-end reviews will at least be helpful to remember things that happened oh, so long ago–back in, say, January or February. Wasn’t the president impeached or something?

  6. I loathe working on “year in review.” This year in particular. What am I going to do? Draw a time line and say, “and this is where it went off the rails.”

  7. I really like that idea, Beth. I wish I were your editor because I never had one who would have allowed it. (Though I had a publisher who would have thought of it. Those were some good times.)

    Point taken, Abraham. So I like emoticons and hate emojis.

    Some day, we’ll talk about animated gifs and how creatively they spark a conversation — if only Lincoln and Douglas could have responded to each other with a woman doing a spit take or a little Asian baby wagging his finger!

  8. In the 70s, print fans in APAs were using a collection of initialisms to try and add that missing dimension to text. HHOK (“Ha ha, only kidding”), S,AS (“Smiling, always smiling”), NK,N (“Not kidding. Not.”) and others popped up and wore out their welcome and were riffed upon and misused and so on.

    I always thought we needed a gesture for “thanks,” but it would be hijacked as a bit of rude sarcasm within hours.

  9. re “In the 70s, print fans in APAs were using a collection of initialisms to try and add that missing dimension to text. HHOK (“Ha ha, only kidding”)”

    As far as I know, I was the fan who first introduced HHOK, in a comment in my apazine in Minneapa. Of such is, or more accurately, isn’t, fame. (I could relate the exact circumstances but the fellow apa member to whom I addressed the disclaimer might not appreciate dragging up old snark.)

  10. Anyone remember the ASCII cows?

    Slightly off-topic: I once posted a comment in [newspaper] without adding “/s” because I didn’t think anyone would take me seriously. Someone banned me as a troll.

  11. Mr Simpson are you kidding? Try and keep up with the count for numbers of folks beginning their sentences with “SO” and sometimes “SO-O-O-O”.

    Shoot me now please!

  12. Fred King – Many comments generated on today’s Non Sequitur because some people were not aware of what “/s” means.

  13. The verbal tic chapping my hide is the nauseatingly ubiquitous “going forward” to which I usually reply “I’m so glad you’ve ruled out time travel.”

Comments are closed.