Archive for December, 2009

one time I almost went to Jamaica

1986859211_147812b22d_o It was a surprise that I was not able to book the plane tickets online. After all, I had always used the internet to purchase plane tickets. Calling the phone number listed in tiny type on the bottom of the web page would only result in a long wait on hold, followed by an unhelpful salesperson who is angry that you didn’t book your tickets online like the rest of the civilized world. Right?

This was a few years ago. I was booking two plane tickets, one for me and one for my wife, to visit my wife’s family in Ohio. Simple enough. Except every time I went to buy the tickets, the price shot up.

After checking three or four different websites, all with the same result, I finally broke down and called the airline. Assuming I’d be on hold for forty minutes, I found a magazine and sat down in our most comfortable chair.

Amazingly, the call went right through. A woman with a thick Jamaican accent told me she would like to help make my reservation. Well!

Her phone demeanor was impeccable. I gave her the flight information, and we waited for her computer to spit out the numbers. We made small talk. As it turned out, she was actually in Jamaica.

Then she spoke the words that almost changed my travel plans completely: “Why don’t you go to Jamaica?”

She had me there. Why not? I did a quick mental calculation. Would my wife’s anger at not being able to see her family outweigh the surprised happiness at finding out we were going to Jamaica?

Stalling, I asked, “How’s the weather there?”

“Good,” she lilted. “It’s always nice here.” I could hear the surf lapping against her desk. Her eyes were shaded from the warm sun by a Blue Mahoe tree. “How is the weather in Cleveland?”

“Pretty crappy,” I admitted.

By then the information about the Cleveland flight had arrived at her screen. She told me the details. Like a coward, I purchased the tickets.

Dear readers, I am sure I made the right decision that fateful day. Besides, everyone knows Cleveland rocks.cleveland-07

just in time for the holidays

Still have gaps in your gift-giving list? There’s still time to order one of my books for that special someone in your life. Imagine how happy they will be when, instead of getting that polyester Christmas tree sweater that’ll just molder in the closet all year, they unwrap a hilarious comic strip collection! Falling Rock is funny all year long.*

Just follow this link here and you’ll be instantly transported to the book order page on my website. Choose from three Falling Rock collections or my pirate comic, Dancing with Jack Ketch.
owl_howl_V2-copy backcover1-copyfront-cover-book-3 dancingwithjackketch_cover_low
*This statement was not approved by the FDA, the FBI, the CIA, the CDC, or the BBC.

more to buy

I updated my CafePress store! New designs, including Pigeons: Gettin’ the Job Done and a few new designs based on Friday Robots.

Shop now.

As always, if you see a design you like on a shirt that you don’t, email me and I’ll fix you right up.

friday robots

Robots today, as well as a warning for those of you artists playing with the idea of moving to Oregon. friday-robots-12-4-9lazy-person-oregonThat artist had to fend off an otter attack right before the picture was taken. Also, he had to gnaw off both legs due to infection. He replaced them with carved wood. 1851? This quote could have been ripped from today’s headlines. That’s the way we roll in the Beaver State.

building a bigger boat

I thought I’d introduce you, my dear readers, to each other. Where do you come from? Well, according to this map, you come from all over the place.blogger_05
102 countries, to be exact. The regions underrepresented are Africa, Greenland, and the Middle East. I can’t understand why this blog does not appeal to them, as my comic strip takes place in a fictitious National Park in the American Southwest. I guess you can’t please everybody.

Thankfully I’ve got almost all of Central and South America locked up, West and East Europe, and New Zealand and Australia. Of the 18 billion people who live in China and India, I got 59 visitors in the past year. Score! Sweden, who I famously courted for a while, paid me respect 42 times. I’m happy to report I have 466 fans in the UK, better than the 314 who made the trek south from Canada.

I wonder what Iran (5 visitor) and Saudi Arabia (11 visitors) think of this blog?

I was surprised that Brazil (157) outdid Mexico (50) by a wide margin.

My most loyal international fans hail from Brazil, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Thanks guys!

The top 5 countries for visits (excluding US):
1. United Kingdom
2. Canada
3. Germany
4. France
5. Brazil

What about my American fans?blogger_06
With a whopping 5,435 hits over the past year, America can’t get enough Falling Rock. Excluding friends, bitter rivals, family, and people who misspelled “”, that leaves about 34 hits. Just kidding! I’m sure there are many, many Americans who read Falling Rock on a weekly, monthly, or even centennial basis.

Every state in the Union sent at least one representative to Falling Rock over the past year, including the District of Columbia and one called “not set.” I actually got more visitors from “not set” than from North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia, or Delaware.

The states whose visitors linger longest include Indiana, Iowa, Wyoming, Nebraska, Maine, and Kansas.

A special shout-out to Ohio (135) where I went to college and where the prestigious Cartoon Library & Museum houses the complete original drawings of Calvin and Hobbes.

I am continually impressed with California (599), who shows me that while financially bankrupt, they will never be bankrupt in the heart.

Whaddup Pennsylvania (152) and Massachusetts (150)? I’ve hardly spent time in either of those states, but they are my long-distance buddies. Thank you.

As to the states who arrive at my site and flee in terror without spending even a second there (Alaska, West Virginia, North Dakota), I pledge to do you better in the coming year.

Top states for visits (AKA my favorite places):
1. Arizona
2. California
3. Indiana
4. New York
5. Colorado
6. Oregon
7. Texas
8. Illinois
9. Florida
10. Wisconsin

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obama’s good year

obama+head+shot_01It used to be that kings and queens were considered at least part deity. The Americans did one good thing right away by establishing that the President was fully human, acknowledging the fallibility inherent in each of us.

At times the President would become a part of our national mythology. Washington and the cherry tree, Lincoln holding the country together with nothing but his beard, Teddy Roosevelt punching Spain right in the face. These stories are part of who we are as Americans, but we never make the mistake of saying (as much as we wanted to) that George Washington had descended from Zeus.

Then Nixon came along and made it okay to view the President as someone out to get you, kind of like a Boogeyman. The President was not only fallible but potentially worse than the average citizen. This is a perception that successive Presidential candidates fail to alter every four years.

I’ve championed Barack Obama since before he even announced he was running for President. I saw in him some of that mythology that has been missing from the White House since, I don’t know, FDR. I was sick of the run of Presidents who, at best, could be called place-holders, and at worst gave us two wars, the worst financial disaster in 70 years, and ignored global warming and those pesky “anti-torture” agreements.

I couldn’t say I was proud of any President who served in my lifetime* until now.

President Obama is doing exactly what I elected him to do. Hope? Change? Yes, on both counts. In March he signed wide-ranging conservation legislation called the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act, adding new national parks, increasing the size of existing parks, and increasing protection of wilderness areas around the country. In May, he nominated Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. She is the first Hispanic justice and the third woman to serve on that court. Oh, and let’s not forget the nation’s first national health care package, which Obama is currently pushing through Congress.

Besides those accomplishments, Obama spends his time putting out the fires from the bad old days of his predecessor. Acknowledging that global warming is not some liberal fever dream, he’s actually putting money into programs that will help us curb our greenhouse emissions. Funding stem cell research that may one day allow us to cure some of those “incurable” diseases. Appointing people to his cabinet that don’t actively hate this country.

It is the combination of big and small acts that has made Barack Obama’s administration a success. Not yet a year into his Presidency, Obama is proving that he will be there for us like Bruce Springsteen is there for Mary.

Before I go, I want to comment on the unfortunate news that President Obama will be sending more troops to Afghanistan. I’m never for war. There have only been three wars in our country’s history that have been completely necessary.** But if it’s between leaving Afghanistan to the warlords and the triumphant return of the Taliban, or finishing what we started lo those years ago, I say we stay and try to clean up some of the mess we made.

“Cleaning up the mess we made” probably should have been Obama’s campaign motto, because that’s what he’s doing and what he will continue to do for the next seven years. In spite of this handicap, Obama has been quietly bringing about the positive change he promised, moving us forward while rectifying past errors. And if that’s not totally awesome, I don’t know what “totally awesome” means.


*Except Jimmy Carter, who was in office for three months after I was born.
**The War of 1812, The Spanish-American War, and the War on Drugs. Duh.