Roll Up Allstate commercial

This is my new favorite commercial. Every time it comes on I stop and watch. The song is “Lovely Day” by Bill Withers, released in 1977, I remember liking the song as a kid. You can hear the whole song here.

It’s more than just the song, I just like watching the girl roll up in the comforters and roll down the street. It makes me smile.



Friends in my head

Bridget and Julia on the set.

I was talking about how much I love Life Below Zero, but I would never consider living like that on the frozen Tundra. I watch these shows over and over again and enjoy them so much, I feel as if some of the people are friends in my head.

Another thing I love is cooking shows. Mostly on weekends I have taken to watching them all. And yet, I don’t even like to boil water. Yet, like Life Below Zero, I find them very relaxing.

I know what roux is and I know how to caramelize onions. I just don’t do that. I love eating it all, but I don’t care to prepare it. I know what stone fruit is and I love all of it, I just don’t bake. I know where capers come from and how to make chicken in a Moroccan tagine; and I know not to turn fish on the grill, it will release itself when ready.

Dan and friends in the kitchen

I know what Sara Moulton is up to and what recipes Jacques Pepin‘s mother used to make. I know how Bridget and Julia like to brown a turkey and how Dan Souza prepares his Indonesian-Style Fried Rice, and when Martha Bakes, watch out!

I know what size oysters should be before they are harvested and how to kill a caribou and ptarmigan in the Arctic. I don’t put any of it to use, but it’s all in my head!

It’s NOT the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!

So in the scheme of things, this Charlie Brown news is not important, but then again, in the scheme of things, the way this whole year has been, it is important. Even Sally is upset!

Charlie Brown specials are moving to AppleTV+. That means It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown won’t be seen on regular tv this year and possibly in the future. And also the other Charlie Brown specials probably will follow suit. Why? Money, I guess.

I know there are DVD’s (I have them) and there are free days on AppleTV+ where you can see it (Oct. 30, 31 and Nov. 1), but it’s not the same. It breaks with tradition. It was always a CBS show and I was not thrilled when it moved to ABC (I know, I need a life), but now it’s not on regular tv at all.

The last few years, ABC has been showing it twice. Same with the Christmas episode and it is just part of life. And this year we need traditions! We may not even have Halloween in many places this year, so this tradition is important.

There is something about everyone watching it at the same time, enjoying it together. I like watching things “live,” I like to see shows when they are on.

I guess it all boils down to money. Doesn’t everything?

Eddie Van Halen

I’m feeling really bad about Eddie Van Halen’s passing yesterday. I’m not sure why. I mean I loved Van Halen, but I loved so many other people who passed, but I don’t feel devastated over their deaths.

I didn’t feel devastated over Michael Jackson, but I did over Prince and Tom Petty. I felt devastated over Audrey Meadows, but not Jackie Gleason. Weird, right? Anthony Bourdain really hit me hard. A friend in my head.

Maybe it’s the state of mind we are in on the day we hear of the passing. I can’t figure out why else I would feel so bad for some people and not others. All people I don’t know and never met.

But they were all part of my life. Part of my youth. When they pass away, is a part of my youth passing away?

I always remember when 1983 was turning into 1984, the first video MTV showed right after midnight was Jump, by Van Halen, the first video of 1984. I think it was the premier of the song or maybe just the video. But of all the New Years eves, this one always sticks in my head. I can picture myself in the family room in front of the tv, sitting on the floor, and I can picture my mother in the kitchen on the phone, probably wishing Happy New Year to someone at that midnight hour. But that’s one of my special memories of two of my favorite years – 1983 and 1984 – Van Halen performing Jump, which was the first time I had seen and heard it.

Snoopy license plates!

The states of California is offering Snoopy license plates. The extra money raised goes to California museums.

“This street-legal, DMV- and PEANUTS-approved license plate features Snoopy doing his signature happy dance. Plates for cars, trucks, vans, commercial vehicles, and motorcycles start at just $50 ($103 for personalized plates).”

There are over 1400 museums in California.

I want one. Only I don’t live in California. 😦

Fall is here

So Fall is here! I’m going to miss the cold weather this year. I am usually in NY in October and November. In October, I go for Comic Con, which is postponed this year. Picture it – Comic Con and the fall leaves and cool crisp weather. Although I can remember a year or two ago when it hit 80 degrees in NYC in October.

But New York is full of Batman and Superman and all sorts of Cosplay people. It’s like a precursor to Halloween earlier in the month. Mix that with the cool air and turning leaves and it’s the perfect time of year. And then a month later I head back for Thanksgiving with my family. This year I was going to do one of my usual things – spend a few days in Boston and then take the train down to NY later in the week.

That fall trip by train through New England is pure pleasure. I wrote about one trip one time, which was more about inside the train than the actual views outside. I overheard two older ladies talking behind me the whole way and it was pure delight, you can read it here: “A delightful train ride.”

Last October my cousins and I went to the Hudson Valley and we picked pumpkins and apples. One of my all time favorite days. You know when certain things in life stick in your mind forever? Well that day is one of them.

There’s always next year.

NCSFest

On Saturday I watched the NCSFest all day. It was a a cartooning festival put on by the National Cartoonists Society Foundation. It was storming outside, so it was a perfect day to stay inside. You can see over nine hours of the fest here on YouTube, watch the whole thing or pick and choose by scrolling through. The schedule is here so you can see what comes on when.

The main seminar/talk I was interested in was The Superstars of Instagram, I wanted to see how they work and mainly how they get so many followers. The Awkward Yeti, for instance has 1.8 million followers! I interviewed Nick Seluk, The Awkward Yeti cartoonist once, you can see that here.

I also liked the talk on Creating a Successful Online Cartooning Business.

There was a lot of good stuff. Jim Davis, the Garfield cartoonist spoke from his studio and so did cartoonists explaining their process from doing comic strips and panels to creating books.

In between, the yearly Reuben Awards, which are the Oscars for cartoons/cartooning, were announced. The ceremony and events were canceled this year due to the pandemic. Awards are given or best newspaper comic strip of the year, best comic panel, best greeting card comic, best online comic strip, etc. The Daily Cartoonist has a list of winners here. There is then the Reuben Award for Cartoonist of the Year, which went to Lynda Barry.

I love this photo of Lynda, a real artist. The desk looks so comfortable, like you can just sit down and create. I am messy, but since I do all my work digitally on a Surface Pro, it isn’t strewn with all these wonderful tools and inks and pens and such. I literally have to turn on the computer and wait for it to set up. I can’t just get comfy and into it like Lynda here.

Garry Trudeau says that cartooning is like a public utility – you just expect it to be there when you want it.

Social interactions

I’m trying to think what life was like before social media or before reader interaction. Even when I started blogging in 2005, there were comments. Good or bad, you always knew what the reader thought.

As much as I say I don’t like comments or interactions on social media, I think I do. Basically because it’s nice to see people responding to my comics. It’s not that I need likes and shares, but it’s nice knowing that people are seeing the work and enjoying it (or not) enough to leave a simple thumb’s up.

I have a friend who is against social media, and it sort of reminds me of him saying something like, “Is life about how many likes you get?” No, no it’s not, but when you write a book or paint a picture or produce a movie, you do want people to like and respond to your work.

Which makes me think of what life was like for cartoonists before social media, and maybe even today for those who are published daily in the newspapers. They create the comic and it’s published and then what? Crickets? There is an audience, but no instant response like you would have with a live audience. But I guess that’s how tv and movies have been for years, you put it out there and don’t instantly get the audiences response. Do they like it? Are they watching?

With social media, it’s instant and the reader is part of the process, right there – live.

One place where I don’t interact is on Instagram – not the comments section, I do interact there, but I’m talking about the private messages. The main reason is because most of it, 9 out of 10, are spam. But I did make a mistake last week of responding to a reader and it ended up being a bad thing – he was one of those stalker types who wanted to argue, so I regretted reading his messages and then responding to them. I won’t do that again.

But other than that, it’s nice to get a response of some sort, even a simple thumb’s up. Sort of like getting applause on a stage or something, knowing the audience is out there.

Hand Drawn Life

I watched a documentary over the weekend called, “Hand Drawn Life,” it’s available on Vimeo and right here of course, and if you have a smart tv, you can watch it on large screen using their app. It’s listed as, “HDL_FINAL_FULL_Texted_1205” on Vimeo.

Hand Drawn Life just won a Los Angeles Area Emmy Award for best Independent Programming for its airing on KCET-PBS. It’s about the history of cartooning and interviews a number of cartoonists who talk about the craft, their work and the work of many others.

The past few years I’ve watched quite a few cartooning interviews and documentaries. Two great documentaries are, “Dear Mr. Watterson,” which is about Bill Watterson and Calvin and Hobbes. You can watch it on Amazon Prime and “Stripped,” which I got through a kickstarter a few years back, but I see you can purchase it here for just $4.99. Stripped interviews 70 cartoonists about the craft. They are both very enjoyable.

I also found a list of cartoonist interviews on Google here. I’ve watched some of these over the years, too.

What if it happened today?

This I Love Lucy comic was published today. It’s one of my favorites. I changed it a lot throughout yesterday, adding something, removing something, changing an arm, etc. It’s a classic episode that I think everyone knows.

I like taking something from the past, like a tv show, and putting it in the present to see how things would change. I did it with the Columbo comic in May and people liked it.

I have other ideas in mind for future comics and if you have any, feel free to email me with an idea of your own.