Saturday, March 30, 2019

Them Bones

I had a grand time at last Saturday's Hell With Lid Off barleywine festival. A tip of the old porkpie to the crew at Kelly's Bar & Lounge for managing the logistics of this spectacular event. A few customers even asked me to autograph their posters, which was flattering and enjoyable.

I hope the week's cartoons are worthy of following HWTLO.

This employee's performance review was harsh, but accurate to the first decimal place. The minimum requirement for advancement is eighty percent-baked.

Tueday's cartoon blurs the line between health coaching and life coaching.

Shoats these days have no respect for decorum. This one was fun to draw, and I had to concentrate on making the younger pig look neat and clean.

In a weird way, it makes sense.

This does make him look bright and shiny, but as soon as he's applied all of the whitening strips, it's time to start peeling them off again.

I'm reasonably certain this is the first time the word "broccolini" has appeared in a Bizarro cartoon. 

Don't forget to peek into Dan Piraro's weekly blog post for a fresh Sunday page, additional wisecracks about last week's cartoons, and strong opinions about a couple of animals from the funny pages.

Bonus Track

Louis Armstrong: The Skeleton in the Closet (1936)

Louis Daniel Armstrong (1901-1971) was the greatest American musician of all time, and his recorded legacy is unmatched. Do not try to contradict me on this point*.

For this fan, Armstrong's sweetest spot was 1931 heading into 1932. If you ever run across a copy of this CD, I recommend snagging it:

* Even so, I would happily live the rest of my days without ever again hearing his recordings of Mame; Hello, Dolly; and What a Wonderful World. I could, however, listen to the 1931 version of Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams any day or time.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Bacon Fat

This afternoon, I'll be attending the 15th annual Hell with the Lid Off barleywine festival. It's important to be well-rested for HWTLO, so this week's comments are briefer than usual to allow for extra nap time.

Coincidentally, the soldiers' last names are Toothpick, Tweezers, Nail File, Corkscrew, Can Opener, Screwdriver, Awl, and Fish Scaler. 

Swiss military personnel also have an extra leg joint for enhanced foldability.

The yellow beak is colorful enough, let's not go crazy.

Domestic felines require plenty of sleep so they can wake their human companions early in the morning for breakfast.

The candidate who promises to bring back crash test jobs is guaranteed the blockhead vote. Or should that be the blockhead bloc?

"Your health is generally good, but I want you to cut back on cigarette loads."

UPDATE: We at Bizarro Studios categorically deny receiving advance notice of the release of the Mueller Report, and did not coordinate with the so-called deep state on the timing of today's cartoon.

Thanks for following Bizarro, and for putting up with my weekly ramblings. Dan Piraro offers his own take on the week's gags at his blog

Come back next week for a new batch of gags and more behind-the-scenes insight, or get the blog delivered every week by entering your email address in the "Receive New Posts by Email" box in the upper right corner of this page.

Bonus Tracks

Over the weekend, we learned of the passing of the undisputed king of surf guitar, Dick Dale, and Detroit R&B legend Andre "Mr. Rhythm" Williams. Both were in their early 80s, and each made plenty of unique, entertaining music.

Here's one of Dick Dale's earliest hits, which became his signature tune.

It wasn't easy to pick a single Andre Williams record to share, but this is one of my favorites.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Too Much Information

Tomorrow is officially Saint Patrick's Day. 

March 17 is thought to be the anniversary of the Christian missionary's death. Americans traditionally celebrate this cultural and religious event on the nearest Saturday by engaging in excessive drinking of tinted beer, donning ridiculous outfits, screaming in bars as countless faux-Irish bands play the same handful of songs, and public purging of bodily fluids. Venturing out to dinner on this particular Saturday is nearly as foolhardy as doing it on Valentine's Day.

we remain safe and warm inside Bizarro Studios North, sipping a Guinness as our corned beef & cabbage simmers, we offer a recap of the week's cartoon shenanigans.

McRodent's food isn't just fast, it scurries. They call this one the Unhappy Meal.

Tuesday's gag reveals the origin of the cliche, "so clean, you can eat off the floor."

At least it's organic, and promises a shorter wait till the regurgitation begins.

The word "clement," meaning "mild," is so rarely used that it sounds like a joke.

Thanks, Bill, but we really didn't need to know that.

Saturday's cartoon pictures the newly popular "He's led an otherwise blameless life" defense.

Thanks for reading Bizarro, and for your comments and shares throughout the week. You deserve a gold star for following up with the blog. For even more behind-the-panel analysis, check out my collaborator Dan Piraro's weekly posting, along with his latest Sunday page.

By the way, Dan recently gave his website a makeover, and included a nice little blurb in the FAQs explaining a bit about how we divide up the duties at Bizarro Studios:
Who's Wayno?

Before January 1, 2018, Dan wrote and drew over 95% of the gags for Bizarro. After almost 35 years of writing and drawing a joke every single day, Dan has given himself a much-deserved break, and now only creates the Sunday cartoons. The Monday-through-Saturday cartoons are now all drawn and written by Dan’s good friend and colleague, Wayno, although they collaborate on many of the ideas and discuss how to make each one the best it can be.
Here's Dan's blog post with a detailed explanation.

And, for comparison, my own announcement.

Bonus Track

In honor of Saint Patrick's Day, we present the greatest Irish punk record of all time.

NOTE: Some YouTube videos are unavailable outside the U.S.

Don't take my word for it. John Peel, the legendary BBC disc jockey, chose a line from "Teenage Kicks" to serve as his epitaph.

Photo by Peter Tarleton, CC BY-SA 2.0

Saturday, March 09, 2019

Slow Train Coming

This week, I picked up posters and t-shirts I designed for a unique annual event here in Pittsburgh called Hell With the Lid Off. It happens at Kelly's Bar & Lounge, a beloved local watering hole known for its killer jukebox, and fantastic burgers and mac & cheese. HWTLO is a barleyine festival where attendees can taste many dozens of barleywine samples while enjoying Kelly's superb bar food.

The beautiful silkscreen printing was done by CommonWealth Press, a locally-owned company who I've worked with on tons of projects over the years. The crew at CommonWealth always delivers top quality stuff.

The shirts and posters will only be available at the event, so if you're thinking of visiting Pittsburgh, March 23 would be a fine day to swing by. Just don't plan on driving home from Hell With the Lid Off

Now, let's review the week in cartoons.

Thank goodness for innovations that make it easier for local governments to take our money. That updated model does seem to be well-nourished.

When I was a youngster, some unsung genius figured out that city parking meters could be tricked with a penny and the ring from a pop-top beverage can. If these two items were inserted into the nickel and quarter slots, and the handle was turned slowly, the meter would ratchet up to its maximum time. 

I confess that I did that a few times during my school days, so when I pay via a modern parking app for a space that's probably still rented by the previous driver, I figure technology is just balancing my account.

Every year, high school seniors in my community participate in an elaborate game involving sporks. Their school mascot is a blue devil, and I apologize to my locals for making these characters the traditional red variety.

This gag is drawn in part from personal experience. Throughout my adult life, I've dealt with insomnia, in varying degrees of severity. My bouts of sleeplessness are often aggravated by racing thoughts, and anxieties about tasks that need to be done the following day.

I recently discovered a Norwegian television series called Slow TV, and have found the Train Ride from Bergen to Oslo episode to be an effective sleep aid. It's an unedited, real-time documentation of the seven-hour ride. There's no narration or music; just an occasional "ding" when the smooth-running electric train passes under a named tunnel or approaches a station. The visuals are provided by a simple camera or two mounted on the front of the engine. 

In the past, I've tried a white noise phone app, but it didn't work for me. However, hypnotic images of gliding over train tracks amidst snow-covered mountains seems to reset something in my brain, and helps me to shut down for the night. Sometimes it only takes a minute or two. If you're a fellow insomniac, I recommend giving Slow TV a try. I'm not joking.

Hear ye, hear ye! Let it be known throughout the land, that John Hancock XVI has posted his Declaration of Availability. Be sure to scroll through his profile.

I apologize for resorting to a pun on Friday, but thought it was surprising enough to use. Also, the image contains a kernel of truth, as we've all seen performers milk applause by complimenting the audience. 

By the way, that's a full-size guitar in the drawing, so this really is a giant pander. 

Saturday's gag is not meant to disparage food trucks, which I appreciate and enjoy quite often. Rather, it's a comment on know-it-alls who smugly make claims like the avian character in this panel.

If you enjoyed these musings, don't miss Dan Piraro's blog, where he offers his own comments on these gags, and shows off his latest Sunday page.

Bonus Track

The birds in Saturday's gag reminded me of this weird 45 rpm single. The photo above is the actual copy that resides in my collection, but the linked audio file was posted by another music lover with strange tastes. 

I don't know who Harold Wald is, but he thanks you for listening to this tune.

Saturday, March 02, 2019

Reduced for Quick Sale

This week's Bizarro offerings kicked off with a look at discontinued items that might be found at the local market.
We toyed with and discarded a few other slightly-off products, and we might revisit this idea in a future panel. My Wacky Packages influences are showing.

Over the years, a few Bizarro comics have referred to the very real disorder known as restless leg syndrome, or RLS. In fact, my collaborator, Dan Piraro, once said to a reader:
I’ve had RLS for a couple of decades and it has driven me nuts. I’ve always found that humor is the best way for me to deal with life’s disappointments or miseries and so I do cartoons about them.
There's no doubt a psychological term describing this practice by artists to exercise some type of retaliatory control over their particular afflictions. Insomnia is something of a recurring theme in my own work, since I'm very familiar with its maddening and harmful effects. If I can get readers (and myself) to laugh at it, it seems less powerful.

On Wednesday, we took silly approach to comment on the sensible practice of mindfulness. As I understand it, mindful eating involves slowing down and paying attention to the experience of enjoying food, and being aware of the body telling us when our hunger has been satisfied. The opposite would presumably be "mindless eating," which we've all probably done. Of course, a character in one of our cartoons would stretch the concept to its illogical extreme.

Thursday's cartoon provided a peek into the cutthroat world of sports team mascottery. It's not all plush costumes and silly dances.

Everybody experiences an earworm now and then. Or, in this case, maybe it's an ear-krill.

A good investment advisor understand the customer's tolerance for risk, but some impose their own preferences.

Please be sure to check out Dan Piraro's weekly blog for another perspective on the week's cartoons, and to admire his latest Sunday page.

Bonus Track

I first heard this song on a 45 rpm single I'd plucked from a box marked "Weird & Misc" at a record fair. It became an instant favorite. I've never found much biographical information on McKay, and as far as I can tell, he only released one LP, Reap the Wild Winds (RCA Records, 1955), which included this track.

McKay played several instruments, including saxophone, oboe, English horn, flute, and bassoon, which is featured prominently on several of the LP's selections.

The style could be described as "eccentric jazz." The bassoon gives much of the album a strange, playful quality. Some of the selections are reminiscent of the unpredictable, zigzagging arrangements Carl Stalling did for classic Warner Brothers animated cartoons from 1936 to 1958.

Maybe the best description was on that box at the record fair, and Stuart McKay just played "weird miscellaneous" music.