CSotD: Retrospection


Last night, a whole bunch of cartoons suddenly became, if not obsolete, at least blunted.

For instance, Joe Heller (Ind) was absolutely right that, given the financial pressure on people impacted by the pandemic, a relief payment of $600 was ludicrous, if not insulting, but possibly both.

He wasn’t the only cartoonist to say that, nor was he the only cartoonist who probably fell off his chair last night when Dear Leader announced that he agreed.

See yesterday’s remarks about the difficulty in fighting a drunk, because nobody anticipated that Trump would suddenly decide to knock the legs out from under the Republican Party, undermine their efforts in Georgia to hold onto the Senate and make, of all people, Nancy Pelosi giggle with pleasure.

Trump himself has cited the story of the woman who sheltered a venomous snake in her bosom, only to have it bite her, chiding her that she knew it was a snake in the first place.

I’m not sure why he would tell that story, since what we knew about him when we picked him up was that he was a liar and a con man and purely out for himself.  Not exactly a list of attributes most people put on their resumes.

In any case, nobody expected him to say he’d veto the bill if they didn’t give Nancy Pelosi what she wanted, and not only did it make a lot of cartoons “inoperative,” to borrow an old Republican expression, but I think there will be a further gap in commentary while cartoonists ponder what the hell just happened.

If nothing else, they’ll need to see how Congress reacts to the threat.


The other bomblet last night was the list of pardons, which had the opposite impact for a cartoon Adam Zyglis (Cagle) had drawn in August, 2018, when Rep. Chris Collins was facing prison.

Zyglis recycled the jab not so much as an “I told you so” as a mark of astonishment over Trump having either the chutzpah or the blind vanity to pardon such a sleaze, apparently for exactly the reason given in a cartoon that was intended as sarcasm.

I share in the general surprise that Trump’s pardons were so blatantly self-interested, but, then again, when you’re fighting a drunk you really shouldn’t expect predictable moves.

But it’s the blatancy that surprises, not the self-interest.

And I suspect this will slow down cartoonists even more, since they’ll probably wait for the other shoe, or shoes, to drop. Dear Leader has one more month of power to pardon, and he’s still got several kids and kids-in-law and other co-conspirators to consider.

He should pull an Oprah: Set up one final rally, pack in a few thousand people and then have them each reach under their seats to discover that he’s taped Presidential pardons there.

Congress was supposed to remain in session until they got the relief bill straightened out and they thought they had but now Mr. Scrooge is keeping them working despite the holiday.

Similarly, any cartoonist who planned to post a Merry Christmas generic comic and take the Dec 24-Jan 2 period off should probably recalculate recalculate recalculate.

Meanwhile, here are some non-political items and things you should click on.


Existential Comics is often geared for philosophy majors, but their current piece will work for anyone who encountered Socrates freshman year, which isn’t asking much.

Plato got into some pretty convoluted “theory of language” rabbit holes later on, but his Socrates memoirs are pretty simple and the cartoon plays on them at an appropriately sophomoric level.

Though maybe the dialogues just seem simple to us arts-and-letters types. My brother taught philosophy at Annapolis and found that the Middies, top students who make excellent engineers, required a lot of prodding and nursing through what he thought was pretty basic stuff.

They liked it once he finished explaining it, but it was kind of like translating a joke and seemed to lose something.

Well, trust me. This one will get a laugh even from people who understand fractals and quarks.


Though this Macanudo (KFS) might also leave the more literal-minded puzzled.

It sent me spinning into the distant past, however, because Liniers is right, and we only recognize those great moments in retrospect.


It reminds me of my very favorite Arlo & Janis (AMS), which I have run several times before, because it’s not the futility of wishing to be able to go back, but the futility of thinking it would work.

As with the little girl in Macanudo, I spent a lot of time in the woods as a very small child, but my memories rely on a child’s sense of curiosity and discovery: Squatting at the edge of a creek and sorting through the gravel for caddis fly larvae, or watching a war between ants or shinnying up a sapling for no reason at all.

To try again would be like the lobster scene in Annie Hall, where Alvy’s attempt to recreate it falls so pathetically flat.

Which brings up another place to which you can never return.

There are things lovers can do to each other at 19 and 20 that they’d never be able to justify later on.

One hopes.

Though I hear stories that make me wonder.


Finally, and on that precise topic, this is not a cartoon, but I did send it out as my Christmas card one year.

It’s a still from Fellini’s Eight-and-a-Half, the start of a fantasy sequence in which Guido imagines gathering into one big house all the women he has ever made love to.

Even in his fantasy, it goes about as well as you’d expect.


6 thoughts on “CSotD: Retrospection

  1. I have, in fact, had the awareness to recognize a few of life’s great moments at the moment I was living them, and it’s a good feeling. Not when I was a child, of course. One paradox of being a kid is that a moment is only perfect if you’re so in the present that reflecting upon it is impossible. Something like that . . .

    In any case, I have often thought to myself, “This is a perfect moment, remember it forever,” but then I eventually forget it and am left only with the memory that I have had such thoughts before.

    I can explain part of the problem of teaching philosophy to engineers and other science-types (which I was in college). I grew increasingly frustrated as the teacher trolled us through theory after theory of How The Universe Works when I actually KNEW how the universe works and couldn’t get anyone interested in following along. Wittgenstein almost did me in; I recall one paper in which I (in my mind) completely dismantled him with cosmology and quantum theory, and the puzzled prof just handed my paper back ungraded with a “try again.”

    What I’m saying is that engineers in particular tend to be concrete to a fault. Don’t talk to them about shadows on a cave wall if you’re not ready for questions about where the light source is or how the cavern optics work.

  2. There’s a four-panel Ernie Pook’s Comeek by Lynda Barry that captures the unexpectedly perfect occasion. A neighbor comes home with a bunch of hamburger meat. Another brings out a grill, and there are burgers going to kids and grownups left and right, and there’s music, and sometimes little kids almost freak out from the overflowing joy, and the narrator ends up falling asleep and being carried inside and it’s pointless and inexplicable and perfect.

    I search for the strip online now and then. I’m sure I saw it in an issue of The Comics Journal. Now that I think about it, there was something like that in our neighborhood after the hurricane in 2003 knocked out the power, and the folks across the cul-de-sac from us were grilling outside for neighbors.

    (If someone searches better than my attempts, don’t hesitate to link me to the strip. Thanks.)

  3. The bottom video is blocked – it says This Video contains content from ALPA, who has blocked it in your country on copyright grounds…

    But belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year full of Vaccinations and Recriminations but Less Demonizations and Maybe Some Prosecutions….

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