Thursday, April 24, 2014

A note to the pregnant mom with the screaming tykes

Hi there! I didn’t get a chance to talk to you the other day when you and your kids plopped down in a restaurant booth next to mine. More's the pity.

Maybe you noticed my wife Liz and me. Or maybe not. You seemed preoccupied. But we noticed you. Actually, it was your kids who first caught our attention. I’m guessing the boy is about three and the girl is about two years older than that?

Anyway, they’re very cute! And they have such healthy lungs! Why, when they screamed in frustration or glee or exhaustion or whatever emotion it was that struck their adorable little hearts every few minutes, I’m sure folks could hear them in every corner of the restaurant! I certainly could, seeing as they were sitting only a couple of feet behind me! There was no ignoring your pint-sized angels, that’s for sure!

We did notice that you made absolutely no effort to get them to pipe down even a wee bit, which seemed, I don’t know, a bit odd. That’s why I turned around and looked right at you during one particularly loud bout of shrieking. I was hoping to catch your eye and perhaps suggest that you slip back into mommy mode. You know, just for a second or two. Nothing too taxing.

But you didn’t notice. I could see that you were mesmerized by your phone. Perhaps you were updating your Facebook status, or grappling with some other equally pressing emergency.

The restaurant was still very busy after the three of you finally left. But with everyone speaking in a normal tone of voice and no young'uns howling and screeching at regular intervals, we might as well have been in a church! Ah, the exuberance of children! They’re so irrepressible, aren’t they? And fortunately for all of us, you have another one on the way!

Anyway, here’s wishing you the best, especially when your free spirits hit puberty. Don’t be too hard on yourself at that point, though, okay? After all, teenagers are supposed to be loud, boorish and ill-mannered, right? No doubt they’ll grow out of it, have kids of their own, and raise them as carefully as you did your own brats. Oops! Slip of the tongue there! Sorry! I mean, your little darlings.

Editorial cartoonists: keeping the legacy of Thomas Nast alive

by Dave Granlund

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A few thoughts from Gabriel García Márquez

Cal Fussman, who writes the “What I’ve Learned” column for Esquire, has pulled together a wonderful collection of quotes from Nobel laureate Gabriel García Márquez, the Colombian writer who died on April 17. What follows are my favorites from the list, which you can read in its entirety here. 

Fiction was invented the day Jonah arrived home and told his wife that he was three days late because he had been swallowed by a whale.

The day shit is worth money, poor people will be born without an asshole.

A person does not belong to a place until there is someone dead under the ground.

I don't believe in God, but I'm afraid of Him.

Justice limps along, but gets there all the same.

Crazy people are not crazy if one accepts their reasoning.

How strange women are.

Literature was the best plaything that had ever been invented to make fun of people.

The secret of a good old age is simply an honorable pact with solitude.

Be calm. God awaits you at the door.

Editorial cartoonists: keeping the legacy of Thomas Nast alive

by Nick Anderson

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day greetings from Pogo Possum

Here's an Earth Day cartoon by the late Walt Kelly, creator of the long-gone but still-beloved comic strip Pogo. Kelly first used the line "we have met the enemy and he is us" on Earth Day in 1970, according to He revived it in a two-panel cartoon in 1971, and again in 1972, as the title of a collection of Pogo strips.

Nowadays, Pogo's preoccupation with litter seems almost quaint in the face of climate change, oil spills and nuclear disasters. And yet, more than four decades after its debut, this cartoon still delivers a powerful condemnation of environmental degradation.

Kelly's message paraphrases the report that Oliver Hazard Perry sent to Maj. Gen. William Henry Harrison on Sept. 10, 1813, after Perry's fleet defeated a British fleet on Lake Erie during the War of 1812: "Dear Gen'l: We have met the enemy, and they are ours, two ships, two brigs, one  schooner and one sloop. Yours with great respect and esteem. H. Perry."


Editorial cartoonists: keeping the legacy of Thomas Nast alive

by Pat Oliphant

American Civil War: 150 years ago today on April 22, 1864

The Civil War, 1861-1865
April 22, 1864

The first U.S. coins with the inscription "In God We Trust" are minted, per an act of Congress.

Information from the Civil War Almanac, by John C. Fredriksen (Checkmark Books) 
Illustration: detail from the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial in Boston honoring the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment 

Monday, April 21, 2014

"Listen, my children, and you shall hear . . . ."

 Stand Your Ground, by Don Troiani

Today is Patriots' Day, which probably doesn't mean much to you unless you live in Massachusetts or Maine (where it is a state holiday) or you're running in the Boston Marathon. But as a New Englander, it means a lot to me. Always has, in fact. Some 30 years ago, my soon-to-be wife, Liz, and I got up long before dawn on Patriots' Day and hit the road, bound for Lexington, Mass. We were headed to the annual reenactment of the battle that occurred there on April 19, 1775, after Paul Revere and other riders had warned that British troops were on the march. (No, Michele Bachmann, this did not happen in New Hampshire. Sorry to disappoint you.) History buff that I am, I had volunteered to cover the event for The Providence Journal, which I was working for at the time.

It was a raw, damp morning. We were none too comfortable standing near Lexington Green, waiting with perhaps 200 other brave souls for the British regulars to march into view. A line of latter-day minutemen stood nervously on the green as the redcoats approached. The reenactor who portrayed British Major John Pitcairn, his voice filled with anger, shouted at the colonials, "Disperse, ye rebels! Disperse!" Moments later, a shot rang out from some unknown quarter. And the rest, as they say, is history.

The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, by Grant Wood

Maine native Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is credited with immortalizing Paul Revere in Paul Revere's Ride, which he wrote after visiting the Old North Church in Boston. As the Maine Historical Society points out on its web site, "the basic premise of Longfellow's poem is historically accurate, but Paul Revere's role is exaggerated. The most glaring inconsistencies between the poem and the historical record are that Revere was not the only rider that night, nor did he make it all the way to Concord, but was captured and then let go (without his horse) in Lexington, where he had stopped to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock of the impending attack."

Paul Revere's Ride, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,--
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm."

Then he said "Good-night!" and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, British man-of-war;
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.

Meanwhile, his friend through alley and street
Wanders and watches, with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.

Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the sombre rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade,--
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town
And the moonlight flowing over all.

Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their night encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel's tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, "All is well!"
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay,--
A line of black that bends and floats
On the rising tide like a bridge of boats.

Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he patted his horse's side,
Now he gazed at the landscape far and near,
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
And turned and tightened his saddle girth;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry tower of the Old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry's height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns.

A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet;
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.
He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
And under the alders that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.

It was twelve by the village clock
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer's dog,
And felt the damp of the river fog,
That rises after the sun goes down.

It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, black and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon.

It was two by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadow brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket ball.

You know the rest. In the books you have read
How the British Regulars fired and fled,---
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the redcoats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,---
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

Editorial cartoonists: keeping the legacy of Thomas Nast alive

by Clay Bennett

Book Review: "Aunt Dimity and the Wishing Well," Nancy Atherton

Find reviews of over 2,500 books, including this one, at The Walrus Said blog.  

Sunday, April 20, 2014

"He is not here, for He has risen . . . ."

Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene came with the other Mary to inspect the tomb. Suddenly there was a mighty earthquake, as the angel of the Lord descended from heaven. He came to the stone, and rolled it back and sat on it. In appearance he resembled a flash of lightning while his garments were as dazzling as snow. The guards grew paralyzed with fear of him and fell down like dead men. Then the angel spoke, addressing the women: "Do not be frightened. I know you are looking for Jesus the crucified, but he is not here. He has been raised, exactly as he promised. Come and see the place where he was laid. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has been raised from the dead and now goes ahead of you to Galilee, where you will see him.' That is the message I have for you."

They hurried away from the tomb half-overjoyed, half-fearful, and ran to carry the good news to his disciples. Suddenly, without warning Jesus stood before them and said "Peace!" The women came up and embraced his feet and did him homage. At this Jesus said to them: "Do not be afraid! Go and carry the news to my brothers that they are to go to Galilee, where they will see me."

The resurrection of Jesus, from the Gospel of St. Matthew 

Editorial cartoonists: keeping the legacy of Thomas Nast alive

by Jeff Stahler

American Civil War: 150 years ago today on April 20, 1864

The Civil War, 1861-1865
April 20, 1864

The U.S. government reduces rations to Confederate prisoners of war in retaliation for mistreatment of Union captives.

Confederates capture 2,800 Union priosners and a large quantity of supplies at Plymouth, North Carolina, after a three-day siege.

Information from the Civil War Almanac, by John C. Fredriksen (Checkmark Books) 
Illustration: detail from the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial in Boston honoring the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment