CSotD: Say Anything

Nobody knows what actually happened in Russia and, certainly, nobody knows what’s going on there now, but that hasn’t stopped a lot of people from hazarding guesses, some of which are gobsmacking in their detail.

I like Patrick Blower’s take because it’s modest but reasonably accurate: Putin’s credibility and stature have definitely suffered a blow and he’s in the process of trying to patch things up.

There’s not much more anyone can say about it right now that isn’t likely to look foolish later on.

Though Private Eye doesn’t pretend to have any insight to offer and the wiseass jokes are good, particularly since they assume the reader knows something of the background involved. A well-informed wiseass is still a wiseass, but is a whole lot better than someone making ignorant jokes.

Speaking of which, Tom the Dancing Bug varies from being insightful to being the aforementioned well-informed wiseass, and I’d put this takedown of vanity and wealth in the latter category. I’d elevate it above the norm, however, because we need to see the snowball knock the top hat off that rich guy.

Mocking the wealthy is an old tradition in cartooning and as we find ourselves in yet another Gilded Age, we need constant reminders that these people are not giants and deserve no more of our respect than they’ve earned.

It’s worth dredging up the apocryphal exchange in which Fitzgerald said “The rich are different from you and I” to which Hemingway responded, “Yes. They have more money.”

And then after 1929 they didn’t, so at least we have something to look forward to.

Juxtaposition of the Day

(Clay Jones)

(Jeff Danziger)

Cartoonists go fishin’ instead of just wishin’, and Jones points out that the GOP is constantly looking for miscreants to investigate but somehow can’t be bothered to reel in the obvious candidates. It’s too bad, because if they took on this pair, they might actually hold a committee investigation that didn’t collapse into a lot of mythical missing witnesses and accusations that don’t hold water.

Meanwhile, Danziger notes that better anglers get the results they want. They know the right bait to use and where to cast their lines.

And where to fish that they won’t run into any game wardens.

I don’t know much about the scandal Mike Luckovich is going on about at the University of Georgia, though his cartoon makes the basics rather plain. What I do know is that this isn’t the first time the school’s football team has gotten itself in trouble, and it brings back an interesting story of an intersection between academics and journalism.

I had a GF who went to Smith in her forties, to get the degree she’d always wanted but never had time for. Her senior year, she took a course on whistleblowers from Anthony Lake, whose substantial career made him quite a font of wisdom on the topic.

We often discussed her classwork, and, when she was assigned to do a paper on a whistleblower, I suggested she write about Jan Kemp, the woman whose revelations about a major cheating scandal at Georgia had blown the place apart.

Being 110 miles away, I didn’t hear about it again until she said she’d been walking across campus discussing it with Lake and dropped the phrase, “she said” into the conversation. He stopped her and asked, “Wait. You talked to her?”

The reporter’s girlfriend replied yes, she’d called and interviewed Kemp, because of course that’s how you find things out, and he explained to her that academic research does not involve that sort of thing.

I have since picked up additional clues that he was right, but I still can’t help but think she was.

But I guess it explains why Wikipedia gets its knickers in a knot over “original research.”

A booming topic

(Joe Heller)

(Dave Granlund)

Heller and Granlund are just two of several cartoonists warning about the dangers of fireworks this year.

It’s a change, because usually what we hear about on the topic is dogs who hate them, which is a valid but somewhat overblown issue, at least in terms of July 4 itself. I’ve had more than a dozen dogs in my time and only two of them cared about fireworks. One also threw up in thunderstorms, the other simply trembled for the half hour of the local display.

The best solution is to toss them in the car and head up into the country for a pleasant evening of star-gazing while the folks in the city do their thing. But, of course, this doesn’t help with the nitwits who blow things off all week.

You — and your pooch — can perhaps take some comfort in hoping a few of them are burning their fingertips.

In any case, it’s an old cause and I went back to the files, to a lookback I did at 1914, when it had also been a major cause for cartoonists:

Walter Blackman not only tied in large fireworks — “fool killers” — but the tradition of blowing off the Civil War cannons that graced a lot of town squares. In “Farmer Boy,” young Almanzo Wilder and his buddies gather grass to stuff the cannon in Malone, NY, which was then fired off.

A lot of those cannons disappeared with WWII scrap metal drives and were repurposed to blow up more worthy targets, but the fool killers are still with us.

There was apparently a lot of pressure to promote a “safe and sane” Fourth in 1914, but Robert Satterfield didn’t seem to buy it. For all the frightened dogs and scrambling ambulances, that second panel suggests a more exciting holiday than the first.

This one was unsigned, but note that, for all his burned fingers and such, he’s still got a smile on his face.

Wotthehell theres a dance in the old boy yet.

Pour yourself a second cup of coffee

This is the wittiest, most insightful, best explanation of why we do art that I have ever heard. If all graduation speeches were this good, you could skip the four years that came before.

9 thoughts on “CSotD: Say Anything

  1. As others will no doubt point out, the exchange between Fitzgerald and Hemingway was not apocryphal, although it wasn’t a back-and-forth repartee. The full story is at “‘The rich are different’… The real story behind the famed ‘exchange’ between F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway” (July 12, 2020), available at http://www.quotecounterquote.com/2009/11/rich-are-different-famous-quote.html.
    In summary, the full initial quotation is found in Fitzgerald’s short story, “The Rich Boy,” published in 1926:
    Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft, where we are hard, cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different.
    F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The Rich Boy,” reprinted in F. Scott Fitzgerald, All the Sad Young Men 5 (Cambridge University Press, James L.W. West, III, ed. 2014). “The Rich Boy” originally appeared in two parts, in the January and February 1926 issues of Redbook.
    Hemingway’s original retort appeared in his short story, “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” when it was first printed in the August 1936 issue of Esquire. In a passage in that original version, Hemingway wrote:
    The rich were dull and they drank too much, or they played too much backgammon. They were dull and they were repetitious. He remembered poor Scott Fitzgerald and his romantic awe of them and how he had started a story once that began, ‘The very rich are different from you and me.’ And how some one had said to Scott, Yes, they have more money.
    After Fitzgerald complained, their common editor, Maxwell Perkins, tried to ensure that subsequent collections of the story changed “Scott Fitzgerald” to “Julian.”

      1. Well, the back and forth appears not to be apocryphal; it is the original attribution to Hemingway that is false. But Hemingway did use the put down in print, even if it he didn’t say it first, and Max Perkins did get him to change it later.

        And thanks for the URL. A much more complete explanation of the exchange.

  2. Wow. Mike, thank you for the video. While I am a lawyer by day, my true passion is music … choral music in particular. It is very difficult right now for me. The Great Pause has ravaged those of us in performance art – both professional and amateur. My choir is smaller. The audiences are smaller. Giving is down. The emotional demands on me and my Board of Directors is unrelenting. Many a day – I fantasize about giving up. This video fed me. Janis Ian gave words to many of the emotions I am feeling right now. And so, once again I will pick the pieces of my responsibilities (both administrative and artistic) and try to lead my choir so we can once again experience that moment of creation. Again, thank you for rekindling my muse. http://www.TheChoristers.org

  3. “The very rich are different from you and me.” Thank you, B. Markell. I ain’t no perfeshinul editor, but my brain twerks whenever I hear or read “from you and I.”

      1. Always good to add the verb to be.

        “than you and I are,” yes.
        “from you and I are” what???

        The verb to be is your best friend.

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