Actually, the above is a part of a series of cartoon posters for cult movies, from Creature from the Black Lagoon to Beetlejuice ... and, of course, Blade Runner. They're by Ïve Bastrash, a Canadian illustrator, and they have such a charm of their own, you wonder about what the movies themselves might have been like with such a style.
I had a chuckle over how Matt Groening and The Simpsons played a bit of a prank on audiences this last week, first by Groening suggesting that Springfield was based on Springfield, Oregon ... and then the show itself (after a welcoming note in the first frames of the opening) having Bart turning things on their head with this twist on the weekly chalkboard message.
I'm not sure why there was much of a fuss; while Springfield could indeed be anywhere, it's been no secret for many years that Springfield draws its inspiration from another city in Oregon, namely Portland, which shares the same topography as Springfield. Groening even grew up on a street with Evergreen Terrace in the name. The names of streets in Portland, such as Lovejoy, Flanders and Kearney, inspired many of the characters on the show.
Anyway, that wasn't even the best part of the opening animation.
This week's couch gag (the name given to the weekly joke in which the family runs to its beloved and ageless couch) was from the drawings of cartoonist Bill Plympton, and it was all-out hilarious, with Homer falling in love with a couch and then dumping it for Marge. (My favourite moment? The couch doing pole dances at a strip club.) Imagine what a whole show would look like.
Meanwhile, I'd love to see other cartoonists (Roz Chast comes to mind, or Robert Mankoff, or Garry Trudeau, or Aislin...) get a similar crack at reinterpreting the familiar characters.
In all, another great moment in a strong series for a show that had once been running low on steam.
I got a kick out of this: a cartoony take on the Beatles, combining another emblem of the Sixties. (Although I always think of my grandfather, who drove a deep-blue one, when I think of the VW Bug, and he was well into his own sixties when the Fab Four got going.)
It's New Year's Day, when people make resolutions and say things with meaning or portent or pretension. I recently came across this, the final edition of Calvin & Hobbes, which both my wife and I loved while it ran in the papers, and which our son has discovered on his own (well, the books were waiting there to be found) and now adores. The strip was published, incidentally, on New Year's Eve in 1995. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)
As sentiments go, I love the energy and optimism that Calvin and Hobbes have for their future. This is the spirit for me for 2011.
Case No. 1. It happened in one of the splashier restaurants in St. John’s, and we were out for dinner with one of our favourite couples. Several tables over, a cellphone started ringing. And ringing. And, minutes later, ringing yet again.
We suspect the well-heeled folks at that centrally located table were pretty significant, because the wait staff and managers at the restaurant did not ask them to turn off or even mute the phone – which, incidentally, was never answered – despite several requests (including from our table) to do just that.
Case No. 2. Recently I watched a table of four thirtysomethings wait for their dinner, all while they individually checked their phones, sent messages, browsed, Tweeted or whatever it was they were doing. It made for quite a sight – a quartet of bobbing heads and fixed gazes.
Obviously, the first case was more annoying, both because of the noise and the restaurant’s refusal to address the loud elephant in the room.
But, more and more, Case No. 2 is becoming more of a nuisance, even as the phenomenon – a full table of adults all consumed with their smartphones – becomes more prevalent, and even though they don’t actually make any noise.
Maybe it’s because it’s so distracting; I can’t help but notice all those turned-down heads and the flicking and clicking of fingers and thumbs.
Or maybe because it’s so sad. Yes, a tricked-out, app-heavy phone can be amazing, but the time and place for it surely is not a night out in a restaurant with friends or loved ones.
After all, if the mobile web, like the desktop web before it, is all about connection, why turn your back – or your forehead – on one of the most wonderful ways to connect? What, really, is a meal but a chance to share and to delve deeply into the lives and thoughts of people who matter to us?
I haven’t been tempted, of course, to complain about a table of phone-addled customers. For their sake, maybe some day I will.
Elsewhere this week
TimWit If you were at MUN in the early 1980s, the name Captain Leisure may mean something to you. It was a comic strip that appeared in the Muse, the student paper, and it was the creation of my friend Tim Peckham. Tim has gone to be a graphic artist and cartoonist in Toronto, and is now the creator of an app at the iTunes store. Loading TimWit will give you 200 editions of a single-panel strip Tim created. It’s a great chuckle, and it’s free.
Republic of Avalon Radio ROAR, as it’s also known, bills itself as Newfoundland’s first podcast … which sounds about right to me. It’s a product from singer and musician Jim Fidler, and it’s back on track after being a little dormant for a while. Click here to subscribe and have new editions delivered straight to your drive.
Sistine Chapel 360 Years ago, I had the opportunity to see the Sistine Chapel for myself, and although one of the highlights – Michelangelo’s full-wall fresco, The Final Judgment – was not then visible because of restoration, I found the experience almost overwhelming. This panoramic view of the Sistine Chapel is provided through the Vatican’s website; it’s not as engaging as the real thing, but it’s still pretty absorbing. Need proof? Just try the zoom function, and see the stunning detail of Michelangelo’s work.
A message from your conscience Finally, I leave for you a bit of wisdom and common sense. What is it, you ask? Well, you’ll have to find out for yourself.
John Gushue is a writer in St. John's, and works with CBC News. John is on Twitter right here.
So that's what she looks like ... and sounds like, too. I started reading The New Yorker in the late Seventies and early Eighties, around the same time that Roz Chast's frantic, funny and (yep, that word) neurotic cartoons were showing up. Here's a video from the New Yorker Festival of Steve Martin interviewing Chast about her work. A must for cartooning fans.
Dot Dot Dot is Morse code for the letter 'S,' the full message Guglielmo Marconi claimed to have received atop Signal Hill in St. John's in 1901. It ushered in the age of telecommunications. My maternal grandfather worked as a telegraph operator for Canadian Marconi on Signal Hill for many years.
As well, I have a habit of overusing the ellipsis when I write ... as frequent readers might notice.