Oops! All spam

If you subscribe to the newsletter feed of this website, you probably got something like 14 messages yesterday from me. My apologies … I uploaded a bunch of old cartoons to the site and had no idea WordPress would send them all out individually until my phone blew up and I saw that I had 14 emails … from myself.

I’m very sorry if you were spammed, and I’ll try to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

The big news is the announcement that the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is buying the region’s alternative weekly, Pittsburgh City Paper, from the owners of the Butler Eagle in Butler County. (The two companies have already been friendly. Butler Eagle has been printing the Post-Gazette during the Post-Gazette’s ongoing strike, and tried to stop City Paper from reporting it, which led City Paper’s then-editor, Lisa Cunningham, to resign in protest in October 2022.)

The Butler Eagle is a conservative paper, both in its editorial outlook and business operations. So the idea of them owning City Paper — which had long been a champion of progressive causes, including police oversight, government accountability, social services and racial and LGBTQ equality — always seemed odd, even back when it was announced in 2016.

But given the Post-Gazette’s hard right turn in recent years, both on its editorial page and in how it’s dealing with its own employees, City Paper is an equally bad fit there.

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Like it so much, I’ll doodle some more

(Optional soundtrack for this post.)

I suppose the fact that my real name isn’t “Jay Thurber” isn’t a surprise to a lot of folks. I picked the DJ name more than 20 years ago as a tribute to my favorite writer and cartoonist, and it just kind of “stuck.” But I use my real name everywhere else (including the talk show I produce for WEDO and WZUM), and on the cartoons I draw each month for CQ Amateur Radio Magazine.

I’ve been drawing ever since I could hold a crayon, and took some summer art classes in high school, but I’m more or less untrained, and it sometimes shows. I didn’t learn how to use a lightbox until very recently, and I stuck to an old-fashioned metal pin and inkwell for much too long. I still haven’t learned to use a digital tablet and stylus.

I did editorial cartoons for the college paper, as well as a weekly comic strip, but after graduation, I more or less went back into the art closet, so to speak, for about 10 years, rarely drawing anything. (For a short time in the 2000s, I was freelancing editorial cartoons for a small chain of weekly papers in New England, but the editor who was buying them had … shall we say … a difference of opinion with the owners, so that ended that.)

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If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, what’s an empty desk?

Artist’s depiction of Jay Thurber, hard at work. (1906 New York Zoological Society photo, Library of Congress collection)

The late Phil Musick referred to them as “some things I think I think.” I call them “empty items from a cluttered mind”:

Today is “Wear a Hoodie to Work” Day, in honor of John Fetterman, who is being sworn into office as a U.S. senator at 12 noon.

In response, Republicans and Dr. Oz have declared today “bring crudites to work day.”

If Ben Garrison is going to war with Scott Adams, my biggest question is: “How much popcorn should I make?”

Adams is the cartoonist behind the comic strip “Dilbert,” while Garrison is a political cartoonist whose work has been widely shared on the Internet.

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Where’s Johnny? There’s Johnny!

Every so often, something from the early days of television pops up on YouTube and I’m gobsmacked, wondering: Where did someone find this? This video clip qualifies as one of those. What we have here, from Dec. 31, 1965, is the first 30 minutes of “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.”

This is rare for two reasons: First, although Carson hosted “The Tonight Show” from 1962 to 1972, very few video recordings exist.

Second, this clip also includes the seldom-seen first 15 minutes of “Tonight,” which happened before 11:30 p.m. and was hosted by Carson’s long-time sidekick, Ed McMahon, and one-time “Tonight Show” bandleader Skitch Henderson.

Say what? Let me explain.

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So long and thanks for all of the giant, fanged Funky Winkerbeans

The comic strip “Funky Winkerbean” is ending a remarkable 50-year run this week. I’ll admit, I never paid much attention to the strip during its heyday in the ’80s, mostly because it didn’t run in any of the newspapers we received.

In fact, the first time I heard of it was as a punchline in Berke Breathed’s “Bloom County” in which one of the characters (Opus, I think) snorted newspaper ink and began hallucinating “giant, fanged Funky Winkerbeans” and I didn’t actually realize a “Funky Winkerbean” was a real thing.

The first time I actually saw it was in the Greensburg Tribune-Review (I think). I then began reading “Funky” regularly in the 2000s, when the McKeesport Daily News picked it up; and, of course, syndicated comic strips became easy to find online at around the same time.

“Funky,” created by northern Ohio artist Tom Batiuk, spent the first 20 years or so of its existence as a standard gag-a-day newspaper comic strip about life in a small-town Ohio high school. Batiuk, who started the strip while working as a high school teacher, based the characters and settings on people he knew around Akron, Kent and other northern Ohio towns, not far from Pittsburgh.

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Whatcha watchin’?

During the COVID-19 lockdown in early 2020, my wife and I started a tradition of having a “date night at home” every Friday and watching a different movie. We alternate selections — she chooses one week, I choose the next. We’ve also tried to pick films that neither one of us has seen before.

Some of the movies we’ve selected from sources such as Roger Ebert’s “Great Movies” list, or from Paul Harris’ “Movies You Might Not Know.” Others, we’ve cribbed from the American Film Institute or British Film Institute websites. The more recent ones are based on reviews or trailers we found interesting.

Out of curiosity, I tried to pull a list of all of the movies we’ve watched via Amazon, Hulu and Netflix over the past two years.

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Breaking news

In a solemn ceremony this afternoon outside FCC headquarters attended by the executives of the top radio companies in the United States, the music of Perry Como, Andy Williams and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra was laid back in its crypt, where it will remain in stasis until next Nov. 1, when all-Christmas formats return. More news any moment.