Eating in the time of pandemic

I put on 15 pounds this year. I attribute it to not going the gym.

When I was at the doctor’s last week, he said to me sort of shyly, “I don’t want to insult you or say anything out of line, but you need to take off some weight. You need to push yourself away from the table.”

I noticed that the doctor likes to throw shade, he does it ever so subtly quite often.

I said to the doc, “I am usually 186 lbs. Never 187 or 185, always 186 for some strange reason.”

That day I am 201 lbs. Which of course freaks me out, as I never thought I would reach 200 lbs in my life!

I explained to the doc, that I am not over-eating, I am just not going to the gym. Since muscle burns fat, I attribute it to that. I’m not big eater and I mostly eat vegetarian. I have a friend that gets annoyed that I always leave food on the plate and don’t basically lick it clean like he does. I attribute that to not over-eating. When I’m full, I stop.

The doc was surprised and said, “Most people don’t know that muscle burns fat.” And I thought that strange since I thought everyone, especially gym people knew that. He said, “People think muscle burns sugar.” Which seemed a strange thing to say.

I’ve been craving getting back to the gym, but I still don’t feel safe.

But alas, I think I lost the 15 pounds in a few days. I threw it all up! That and the fact that I have not eaten much for the past three days.

On Sunday, I was sick all day. I woke up light headed and for the next 8 hours I vomited on and off and had dry heaves because my body was so cleaned out!

At first I thought it was covid, but I didn’t have any of the symptoms – fever, loss of taste, smell, headaches, etc. None of that, just light headedness and nausea.

Anyway, by the next day, I was 90% well, just a bit stuffy in the ears, which made me still a bit light headed but today I am 99% well.

I don’t know what it is, but I think it was something I ate. I think it was mushrooms I bought on Saturday. I got them at the hot bar at Whole Foods with a bunch of other stuff – roasted peppers, broccoli, etc. So it was one of those things and I suspect the mushrooms.

It was a dumb idea to get anything from an open food bar in this time of pandemic but luckily it was just food poisoning and not something worse. I ended up throwing all the rest of the prepared food out from the food bar – a big salad, pizza, etc.

The good news – I took the 15 lbs. off. The doc will be happy.

It’s all about the cavemen (and women)

It’s interesting that two of the most popular cartoons this year are caveman-related.

These two cartoons got more likes, shares and comments than most of the others.

I try to be more cerebral when I do cartoons and I prefer those, but apparently the readers like these goofy caveman ones.

What’s interesting is that as a child, I was very influenced by The Flintstones. I think the first character I ever drew was Fred Flintstone and I drew Fred over and over again as a child. So I guess there is something there.

This Flintstones comic below is liked by realtors. They have purchased the rights many times to use the image on their flyers and business cards and such.

We all see it . . .

Yesterday’s comic was a hit – a play on the Progressive Insurance commercial. Most people got it, many from out of the country didn’t. It got so many comments, people really enjoyed it and apparently love the commercial.

Progressive Insurance saw it and they re-posted it on their Instagram account.

I almost didn’t use it. I didn’t like the way the skunks came out. I kept playing with it and didn’t want them to look like Disney or Hanna-Barbera characters. But I liked the gag enough to just go with what I came up with.

Here is the commercial for those who have never seen it. Here in the U.S. It’s on tv every other minute it seems, but we never get tired of it!

My doctor died!

I went to my GP yesterday, for regular tests – cholesterol, etc. and he asks me if I have a new cardiologist. I said, “Why would I need a new cardiologist, I have, Dr. Barquet?” and he says, “He died.”

I thought I didn’t hear right. Apparently this youngish doctor died of covid in May. I was in shock. I couldn’t move for a minute. This guy was the sweetest guy ever. My GP told me he was so loved by the medical community that they are all still in mourning so many months later. My GP was in tears.

The crazy part is that he wasn’t part of the medical arts community, you know, in the medical office or hospital with hundreds if not thousands of doctors and patients every day. He bought his own building off from the madding crowd and only had his own patients. He didn’t use elevators or deal with masses of people every day as you would in hospital or medical arts building. He had a one floor office which only consisted of his staff and his own patients.

I had a cardiologist because one of my bothers passed away some years back. My youngest brother had heart or artery problems and as a precaution, doctors had my other brothers and me go to cardiologists for check ups. I would go every couple of years, I guess.

The first doctor I went to was not a nice or friendly guy. The few times I went to his office they would throw me on a gurney and start tests before I could open my mouth – hours later you were released. “I only came to ask you a question!” was my reply after hours of tests. The first time I was there 10 hours – six hours one day and then back another four hours the next! All tests.

This new guy was an angel. So low key, so humble. The first time I met him, we talked. Like humans. He didn’t throw me on a gurney and charge me for exhortation tests. Such a decent and nice human being. And to hear he passed away – I still can’t believe it.

After my GP mentioned that the doctor passed away. He said in a low voice, with his eyes down, “You know from what . . . ” And I said, “Heart disease?” Thinking that the heart doctor ironically had heart disease. But he said, “No.” And he continued to look down in sadness. And I said, “Covid?” And he shook his head “yes.”

I’m still in shock. I am sorry I didn’t know at the time. When I googled it, I see it was in all the papers and on all the tv news, but I never seem to follow local news these days, my tv is always on national news it seems.

One headline at the time said, “Beloved Miami cardiologist dies from coronavirus complications.” He was beloved.

This was the second doctor of mine that died! Many years ago, my family GP died in an accident. He and his family were in a car accident in New England, I think. I believe he was with his whole family and if I remember right only he and one of the children died in the accident, the wife and the other kids survived. That was a hug shock at the time. I mentioned this to my GP yesterday and he remembered that, too.

Spicy (and mean) food

Today’s comic, above, reminds me of this comic which was published earlier this year, with Dan Souza from America’s Test Kitchen.

I noticed this weekend that American’s Test Kitchen started the new season and it’s from everyone’s own kitchen. In other words, they are working from home. It works, but I miss the interaction between the people.

Violence and mayhem

I’m sickened by what happened in our country yesterday. I didn’t post a cartoon today because I think it’s disrespectful to post something funny which has nothing to do with the sorrow we are all feeling.

But here are some political cartoons today, which reflect the treason from yesterday.

The transformation of comic strips

There’s an interesting article in the Washington Post about comics and comic strips. Comic artists reflect on the year 1995, when there was a major shift in comics. That year, quite a few popular comics left the comics pages and people believe things were never the same after that, including the size reduction in the printed newspapers.

Calvin and Hobbes, The Far Side and Outland, the Bloom County spin-off ended.

I remember at that time, I submitted my comic panel to syndicates and quite a few rejected me saying I was too much like The Far Side, which I took as a compliment! I guess I, like many others at the time, were trying to fill that gap. Now the comics are over-loaded with Far Side clones. I almost didn’t publish Tomversation when I heard that Gary Larson was bringing back The Far Side, I didn’t see the point. But in the end it all worked out, as The Far Side is not what it was in the 1990s and there is room for everyone.

Back then, it sort of was the end of an era. Now the comics are more intimate. Back then and before then, cartoonists were treated like movie stars, especially at the beginning of the 20th century. Their daily comics were seen by millions of people, literally millions – many strips were read daily by 50 to 80 million people daily. Imagine that.

A high-end talk show on tv these days is happy to have 4 million viewers a day! Now comics are on that level and more intimate. Because they are mostly digital now, each comic strip has its own intimate audience and the cartoonists have an open dialogue with the readers. I like that.

I mean, it would be amazing to have 50 million readers a day, but the intimacy makes up for that.

Hilary Price, who does the “Rhymes With Orange” comic strip says journalism’s digital transition has affected comics’ visibility “for the worse.”

She says, “For readers who get their news on a screen, online newspapers bury their comics deep in their websites, if they carry them at all,” Price says. “Sunday funnies don’t ‘wrap’ the Sunday e-editions. So as more people migrate to the screen, the comics are further divorced from the news-reading experience.”

This is where I disagree with Hilary on quite a few things. I believe that the printed comics are lost on most people because they are buried in the newspaper and are so small, you can barely read them. Also, online, I find it quite easy to find the comics on newspaper websites, it’s usually a link right at the top, many times under “entertainment,” where you find the comics, tv listings and things of that nature. One unfortunate thing about that is the link goes to one specific site or group of comics – like ComicKingdom.com or GoComics.com, so you don’t get a choice of all the syndicated stuff, but again, you only get a few printed in the newspapers anyway.

Also, most news readers these days get their news on social media, and the digital comics appear in people’s daily social media feeds along with the news. I don’t think many people go to the local newspaper sites to look for the comics page. I may be wrong, but I don’t see that as being the case. I read the Miami Herald, the New York Daily News, the Arizona Republic, the LA Times, the Chicago Tribune and so many other newspapers through social media, like many people. And I read the comics on social media, too, as they come up when posted on my feed.

And try reading the comics in the newspapers and you need a magnifying glass – they are stamp size! So for those who still read the comics, or try to, in the printed daily newspapers – that is where the issue is. They are treated like second class citizens by the way they are printed and handled.

I showed this image in the past. These postage stamps are larger than some of the comics in the Miami Herald!


Berkeley Breathed, gets it. He has adjusted to the technological evolution, according to the Washington Post article. He revived “Bloom County” in 2015 and posts it digitally.

Today, he enjoys the “immediate relationship” with his online readers, which he feels are more intimate than in the past. “I knew nothing of, or from, my readers for decades. Now, we’re family,” Breathed says. “Not a family of 70 million anymore, but closer. We hug digitally — far more rewarding.”

I like both – the old way of getting 50 million readers a day, and today, being more intimate with the readers.

Popular 2020 comics

Here are some of my most popular comics this year. The ones with the most likes, shares and comments. Enjoy!

You can see all of this year’s comics here: TomFalco.com

Or here:

The Christmas tree

Today’s comic is sort of true. I did this for many years – only without the ornaments on the tree!

I would throw the Christmas tree off our balcony so that the needles would not get all over the elevator when we got rid of the tree. I would have someone stand below and then throw the tree off, and they would be sure that no one was standing under it. We would then drag it to the street.

For the past few years – it could be as many as eight or 10, we’ve had an artificial tree. I bought it once, not sure why, maybe to conserve real trees. But I didn’t like it. It looked so much larger and nicer in the store. So I thought, ok, let’s use it one year and then get a real one next year. Only the next year I felt, why not use it again, it’s so easy to just drag it out of the spare room and not have to run out tree shopping, plus we’ll get our money’s worth if we use it one more time.

And then another year passed, and then another and it’s just part of the family now.

My car is a convertible and the only time I ever put the top down was to throw the Christmas tree in the back seat each December! Now the top wont’ open, due to lack of use. I think it may just need fluid.

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