Good advice

Photographer, filmmaker, writer, journalist and bon-vivant, Duane Michals, 91 years young, was in his hometown of McKeesport last Friday, where he read to a standing-room-only crowd his latest poem.

Michals said he was submitting it to “the Times” — presumably the one in New York, not in Beaver County — but since he emailed it out today, I’m guessing they didn’t publish it.

So, since no one has told me not to, I’ll republish it here:

© Duane Michals Inc.


A young woman must decide
whether or not to bring her fetus to term.
That’s her business, that’s not my business.

Two gay men who love each other
kiss in the privacy of their room.
That’s their business, that’s not your business.

If someone believes in
burning bushes that talk and virgin births,
that’s their business.
Why should they find my business their business?


—© Duane Michals

Out in the street a crowd is gatherin’

Empty items from a cluttered mind:

Today’s show is live and local, in the air everywhere over CMU’s very independent free-form WRCT-FM (88.3) and online at McKeesport’s I’ll be taking your requests from 12 to 3 p.m. at 412-385-7450.

Speaking of McKeesport, from where I do the show most weekends, someone asked me Friday morning “Why are you so committed to the Mon Valley?”

I said, “You’re right, I probably should be committed.”

On the other hand, I worked from the studio on Friday, and this was the view from my window, which wasn’t too shabby:

The creator of the website, political prognosticator Nate Silver, has been laid off by ABC News.

According to our models, there’s a 50-50 chance he didn’t see that coming.

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And you follow ’til your sense of which direction completely disappears

It’s no secret that I love newspaper and online comic strips — especially the traditional ones. Now, I don’t know if you follow the “Heathcliff” cartoon — you probably don’t — but, friends and neighbors, believe me when I tell you: It’s gone completely bonkers.

“Heathcliff,” a single-panel daily cartoon about an orange-striped cat, is perpetually upstaged by that other daily cartoon about an orange-striped cat, “Garfield.” But “Heathcliff,” which debuted 50 years ago this September, actually pre-dates the better-known strip by five years. “Heathcliff” hasn’t been featured in a movie (yet) but the comic strip has inspired at least two animated TV cartoon shows — one in 1980, one in 1984.

And there are some distinctive differences between the two orange tabby cartoon cats. Garfield is extremely lazy, gluttonous and sarcastic, offering snide comments about the world and people around him. Heathcliff is sneaky, but industrious, and he never talks, even in the form of word balloons — he pantomimes or simply “meows.”

And whereas Garfield more or less behaves as a furry human, Heathcliff’s behavior has always been more in line with that of a real tomcat — albeit one with human levels of intelligence.

Continue reading “And you follow ’til your sense of which direction completely disappears”

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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This is the first day of the rest of my blog

The late New Yorker magazine columnist A.J. Liebling famously wrote, “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.”

So, since I own this space, I’ve decided to start using it.

Facebook proved itself to be more trouble than its worth a while ago. (I wrote about my decision to exit Facebook, except for professional and work-related use, back in March.) While I still maintained a presence there, I was spending more and more of my time on Twitter, at least for fun.

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If you really want to see me, check the papers and the TV

Like a lot of people, I’ve been considering getting off of Facebook for a while.

I’ve already cut down the amount of time I spend there, but that’s a little bit like cutting your cigarette consumption from two packs a day to one pack — you’re still making yourself sick, just more slowly.

And I’ve concluded Facebook is making me sick.

I’ve joked with my shrink that Facebook has been a great benefit to the psychologists of America, because it’s generated so much business.

After all, how many people have had fights, ended relationships, got into arguments, cheated on their spouses, alienated themselves from friends and family, or lost their jobs because of Facebook?

Continue reading “If you really want to see me, check the papers and the TV”

It’s been comcraptic!

I like to be honest with listeners.

So we’ve been having some problems the past few weeks getting the show on the air at 12 noon. You’ve been annoyed and if I had any hair on my head, I would be pulling it out.

Today (July 31), after two hours of emergency troubleshooting by me and Mike Xu, the chief engineer at WRCT 88.3FM, here’s what we think is going on: Comcast Business is boning us. Again.

And we now think this problem has been going on for a while — we thought it was something either I or WRCT was doing wrong, but it isn’t.

This is the beauty of trying to have a studio in a low-income area like McKeesport — you barely get second-rate Internet and phone service. It’s more like third-rate.

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You can’t root for what you can’t watch

If you haven’t heard already, the ratings for the Sunday broadcast of the Academy Awards were the lowest in history.

According to Nielsen, 9.85 million people watched the broadcast. By comparison, 23.9 million people watched the year before.

One big problem, of course, is that many movie theaters were closed most of last year. But ratings for the award ceremonies have been declining for a long time.

Ken Levine, an award-winning writer and director, baseball play-by-play announcer and podcaster — leave some talent for the rest of us, geez — has some thoughts about “Why no one gives a shit about the Oscars”:

One of the reasons that the Academy Awards are such an afterthought is that movies play a much smaller role in our lives.

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How to spot fraudulent vaccination cards

As businesses and events re-open, some say they will require employees or visitors to have their COVID-19 vaccination cards.

Now, police in several states are reporting that counterfeit vaccination cards are being sold on the Internet.

What are some signs that you have a fraudulent COVID-19 vaccination card?

“CDC” is spelled wrong

Card is printed on the back of a Burger King placemat

Instead of “Pfizer,” “Moderna” or “Janssen,” product is described as “one of them Fauci ouchies”

Instructions on card are in English, Spanish and Klingon

Card has holes punched in it and entitles bearer to a free 6-inch sub after five more COVID-19 vaccinations

Card is sticky and smells faintly of Topps bubble gum

Back of card lists bearer’s horoscope, lucky numbers and weight

Card doesn’t have authentic laser hologram image of winking Joe Biden

Card includes spaces to list other shots for rabies, distemper and heartworms

Reminder message says, “Return for your second dose … if you dare!”

The words of the profits were written on the studio wall

As I frequently mention on the air, I was a big fan of the late Doug Hoerth and a heavy listener of WTAE (1250) when it was in its all-talk heyday — a lineup that included, at one point, O’Brien & Garry, Lynn Cullen, Hoerth, Ann Devlin, Myron Cope, Phil Musick and Larry King overnights. It was a murderer’s row of Pittsburgh talk radio.

When I was in high school, I mostly got to listen to Hoerth in the summertime and on weekends, so I vividly remember how disappointed I was in 1990 when his “infamous Saturday show” (a freewheeling panel discussion/trivia contest hosted by Hoerth and his buddies) was shortened so that WTAE could pick up repeats of a new syndicated show by someone named Rush Limbaugh.

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