CSotD: Scheduling Issues

Today’s Zits (KFS) illustrates the problem I have with podcasts. It’s not that they’re a collection of belches and farts, exactly, but they tend to be just about that rigorous in the way they’re set up and planned out.

There’s already a certain amount of ego involved in thinking people want to know what’s on your mind, and, yes, that includes what I do every morning, as well as writing columns in newspapers and novels and poetry and so forth. But those things involve some planning and preparation: The CSotD you read in 10 minutes takes about four hours start to finish, and, unlike syndicated columnists, I don’t have to confer with editors, which would only add to the effort.

Verbal commentary is no less demanding: The best interviewers, like Terry Gross and Jon Stewart, have clearly prepped for their seemingly informal conversations, and Johnny Carson was legendary for the way he demanded everything be pre-planned and lined up just so.

Asking people to listen to you and your pals yak for 45 minutes is asking a lot. The least you could do is edit out the opening 15 minutes of random “What I did this weekend” warm-up chatter.

Even if you don’t edit the directionless wanderings in the remaining half hour, which few podcasts do.

My guess is that a tight 45-minute radio interview is probably edited down from a 90-minute conversation, and I’m as impressed with the production staff of Fresh Air’s ability to turn Terry Gross’s interviews around within 24 hours as I am with her own talent.

Most podcasts, by dismal contrast, remind me of Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s appraisal:

You write with ease to show your breeding,
But easy writing’s curst hard reading.

Now, as long as I’m flexing my Grumpy Old Man muscles …


Juxtaposition of the Day

(Dark Side of the Horse — AMS)


(Pearls Before Swine — AMS)

(Sam Hurt — The New Yorker)

Again, this is possibly a personal thing. I prefer to work alone, in silence, and it took me awhile to get used to the bustle and chatter of a newsroom, so it’s hard for me to understand why someone would choose to take their work to a coffeeshop.

That’s aside from the matter of being a Starving Artist while drinking $5 coffees.

I knew a guy who, besotted with Hemingway, moved to Paris, rented a little apartment and discovered that he couldn’t write. I managed to fail as a novelist without having to get a passport or buy a plane ticket, just sitting at a cheap desk from the unfinished furniture store, drinking my own coffee.

For further reading, try Maugham’s “Of Human Bondage,” which is about young people going to Paris to become great artists. Among some other things.


Speaking of aspiring artists, Bizarro (KFS) took a pretty good swipe at Roy Lichtenstein, who made a highly successful career of copying other people’s work. Not everyone whose work he “adapted” has been amused, and one fellow even made an extensive effort to track down the stolen work and connect it.


Russ Heath’s friends have not forgotten, particularly since Heath wound up living a very hard life after his days in the comics business.


Crowden Satz brings to mind the topic of “Quiet Quitting,” which we went over a few days ago.

This cartoon not only brought the topic back up, but reminded me of sitting in a department head meeting as an editor. The publisher said we needed to generate more stories, and then, on another topic, that we needed to cut back on overtime.

There was a brief break while he left to get something, and I casually observed, “If we’re asking the reporters to do more work but not claim overtime, isn’t that sort of like telling them to falsify their time cards?”

There was a horrified gasp around the table and the circulation director said I shouldn’t have said that. He didn’t say I was wrong, mind you, just that it wasn’t something anybody should say.

Though, at another paper where I was only a reporter, a relatively new reporter was assigned to review a book, which she did. And then she put in for the time spent reading it, which was a pretty hefty chunk of change.

She was absolutely entitled to do that, given that she had been told to read the book. And, certainly, had she been sent to see a play or review an exhibit at an art museum, nobody would question her keeping track of her time.

But this was uncharted territory and we were all quietly delighted. They had to pay her the overtime, but that was the last book she was ever asked to review.

Once I became an editor, of course, I was on salary, at which point OT stands for “own time,” and nobody ever directed me to put a limit on that.


As Jonesy suggests, it wouldn’t be fair to demand that the ownership chip in to acknowledge extra efforts.


Baby Blues (AMS) explores a different kind of time management, and brought back the days when I had one son in half-day pre-school and another who was a wee baby.

Grocery day got down to a precise science: Drop elder kid at pre-school, then go to the store and fill the cart while the baby was in a good mood, get home and refrigerate what needed to go there, then head back to pick up elder kid and hope baby doesn’t begin the “I need a nap” freak-out before it’s all completed.

I enjoyed making all the pieces fit, but I had a major advantage: When Mom came home, she eagerly took over the kid stuff while I fixed dinner, and I was off-duty until bedtime, when I became the storyteller, puppeteer and singer of songs, which was pure pleasure.

She also handled breakfast and dressing the kids in the morning, since I was zonked from sitting up writing until the wee hours.

Parenthood is one of those jobs you probably shouldn’t apply for if you’re not into customer service.


Finally, if you’re following the Dysfunctional Parenting story at Vintage Judge Parker (KFS), you’ll find the missing strips here.

On accounta we’re always prepared!

Well, pretty much always.



11 thoughts on “CSotD: Scheduling Issues

  1. Not to get overly pedantic, but Russ Heath

    Always loved his comic art, and hated Lichtenstein — even at a young age.

  2. You want to raise a ruckus among a group of cartoonists, just bring up Roy Lichtenstein. “Plagiarism” is maybe the most charitable word you’ll hear, but he has his defenders.

    Mort Walker had an interesting take in a comic that I’ll link to below (at my pal Mike Lynch’s blog), but basically Mort was all ready to blast Lichtenstein until he showed up at a National Cartoonists Society meeting and won them over.

    I’d call my own opinion on him “nuanced.” RL was an artist of his time, and that time included elevating mundane things to Art simply by focusing on them. Warhol’s soup cans weren’t just reproductions of Campbell’s labels, they were the attention paid to Campbell’s labels, everyday items that nobody else would look at twice. Ditto the low art of comic books. So I feel great empathy for a comic book artist who sees a version of his work on a gallery wall, but understand that RL really did transform that work into something else.


  3. One evening in the late 1980s I went into a coffeehouse and found an acquaintance there with his attache-case-sized ‘laptop’ computer at a table (pushed next to the wall so he could plug in). Certainly something I had never seen, or considered, before.

    My “Hey Kevin, whaddabout a pen and notebook?” alas now sounds like “Get a horse!”

  4. To paraphrase Humphrey Lyttleton, it’s homage. There’s petty homage, grand homage, and homaging a bank with a sawed-off shotgun.

    And add Studs Terkel to the list of great interviewers. For one thing, if he interviewed an author, he actually read the book beforehand.

  5. Brian — Walker shows verbal thanks from RL, but as pointed out by Russ Heath (a fantastic artist in anyone’s eyes), he climbed the ladder of rame and fortune on many a talented back.

  6. I’ve mixed feelings about Roy L. combined with my feelings about Pop Art in general. I like comic art, but Pop Art doesn’t do much for me. If Roy L had paid a fee, it would have gone to the copyright owners and not the artists, who were not credited on most of the works he “redid”. Those copyright owners mostly did not pass any fees down to the artists. and if turning comic art into Pop Art was so easy, why were so few able to successfully do it?

  7. Steven R wrote: “and if turning comic art into Pop Art was so easy, why were so few able to successfully do it?”

    The gatekeepers of Pop art are the king/queen makers and determine what artists and what works get promoted to wealth-building status. Today, they have downplayed the artists in favor of enabling the carefully anointed artworks to stand on their own as quickly tradable market assets, building an economic bubble.

  8. If you want a short history of how effed up modern art is, start with Tom Wolfe’s “The Painted Word” and then watch the recent documentary “The Price of Everything.”

  9. I’d be more convinced by RL’s “elevating mundane things” if he had split the money he earned with the original artists.

  10. i won’t respond to the comments from Anti-Roy True Believers (file under: hopeless causes), but i will clarify Russ Heath’s errors in that panel you used.
    1. Lichtenstein did indeed use Heath’s comics in his art during that time, but his primary source for Whaam! was, in this case, an Irv Novick panel (the joke about taking credit for other people’s work writes itself).*
    * apparently realizing his snafu – or whatever it was – Heath later redrew the image, replacing Whaam! with Blam, which was actually based on a Heath illustration.
    2. and this brings us to Heath’s other falsehood, which he didn’t correct in his revision: Lichtenstein did NOT, in fact, get four million dollars for either of those paintings. back in 1963, he was selling his work in the mid-hundreds price range.*
    * even in 1966 – after Roy had left his comics series behind – the Tate bought Whaam! – from an art dealer – for £3,940, or roughly $11,000.


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