Achoo!

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Bizarro 06-19-16 hdrWEB

(To find all 13 of the Secret Symbols, you may want to embiggenate the cartoon, which can be achieved by clicking either of the woman’s knees.)Bizarro 06-19-16 WEB

Bizarro is brought to you today by An Open Letter To God.

Whether you’re liberal or conservative, you’ve likely noticed we Americans are in the middle of the strangest presidential election since Cookie Monster ran against a talking bullfrog back in the late 19th century. Which, for those of you who have no knowledge of history and will believe anything someone tells you in an authoritative voice, never happened. This strange race taking place in front of us now IS happening, however. I recommend fastening your safety harness, strapping on a helmet, and grabbing a barf bag. This could get messy and dangerous.

Though I can’t offer you a solution to the heinous position we’ve put ourselves in, I can offer these cartoons for a few moments of distraction.  Why not begin by embiggenating the Sunday cartoon above and having some fun with the background jokes and Secret Symbols?

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I posted this gluten gag on my various social media sites with this tagline: “I have a theory that all trends eventually make their way to every corner of the planet.” Most people thought the cartoon was funny, but a few people who suffer from celiac disease scolded me for making fun of a serious disease. I know a person with celiac disease and I know it is awful. But does that mean that no one can ever make a joke about it again? Especially since the overwhelming majority of people who avoid gluten these days do not have CD, and, in the absence of any science that backs up their suspicions of the evils of gluten, are mostly just following a fad? No, I don’t think it does. (And yes, I know you have all kinds of good reasons not to eat gluten and are not just a mindless fad follower. I’m not talking about YOU. I’m talking bout other people.)

Another person said this cartoon was racist. I disagree on the grounds of the definition of racism. Depicting people who existed historically in a manner which is not a judgement about them is not racist. Racism has to intentionally attach negative attributes to a person because of their race. Like Donald Trump does every time he talks about Mexicans or Muslims. (I know that Muslim is a religion, not a race, but I’m not sure Donald does.)  This cartoon says nothing about any race. It says something about food trends.

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I have a love/hate relationship with math. I hated it in school because I was never particularly good at it––except for Geometry, which I could visualize––but I’m fascinated by the majesty and magic of it. I saw a NOVA episode recently called “The Great Math Mystery” and it blew my mind. I often wish I could get really deep into high-level math but I think it’s a genetic skill like being a good artist. My brain just won’t do math beyond what the average 12-year-old learns. Attempts to force it to have resulted in tears.

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If I knew how to knit and wanted to spend some time doing it, it would be fun to knit giant, ten-feet-tall sweaters for multi-armed monster aliens. I’m guessing some artist has already done this, though. Here’s my favorite knitting cartoon I’ve ever seen in my life by anyone. It is a coincidence that I happen to be the one who did it. (Yes, I am aware that there isn’t a great deal of competition in this category.)

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This guru gag was about me looking for a surprising caption for a cliche picture. We’ve all seen hundreds of cartoons about the climber asking the guru in the high-mountain cave some secret to life or whatever. Here, it’s a gay couple who are arguing about how to decorate their apartment. I thought it was sort of surprising and funny. When I submitted it for publication four weeks ago, I did not realize that a massacre of LGBTQ people would occur just a few days before it appeared in newspapers worldwide. I was worried some people might think I was making fun of gay people in response to the Orlando tragedy, as sometimes happens, but I’ve not heard from anyone. To be clear, I’m not making fun of anyone here, gay or otherwise.

On a related note, I simply cannot believe I live in a country where politicians are debating whether or not a person on a terrorism watch list should be allowed to legally buy an assault weapon, which they now are and have been for a long time. It’s like debating whether you should allow a convicted pedophile to operate a daycare center out of an underground bomb shelter in the woods. Polls show most Americans favor a ban on assault weapons yet our politicians pander to the minority. It’s disgraceful.

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Here’s a cartoon in which I attempt to draw a parallel between parallel universes and parallel parking. I don’t think it is very successful. Let’s move on.

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This was my most popular cartoon of the week, which is no surprise. It isn’t surprising that liberals think that the Republican party nominee for president is dangerous; that always happens. What is surprising, however, is that such a large number of Republicans think their own nominee is dangerous. That’s never happened before. They are right, of course, and anyone who knows much at all about the political history of the West knows what a catastrophe it would be for Trump to be elected. He is, quite literally, the definition of an authoritarian fascist. These guys often get elected but they never turn out to be a good idea. Countries who do so invariably pay a high price and regret their foolishness profoundly and for decades. I’m trying to be optimistic and believe that there are enough Americans who see this to prevent it. It’s still a bit terrifying, though.

Thanks for reading this far, Jazz Pickles. If you’d like to become a patron of my efforts in the field of comedy and art, please consider clicking on the Tip Jar in the margin of this blog and making a small monthly contribution or a one-time donation. Since cartoons are routinely given away on the Internet for free, it is becoming more difficult for guys like me to keep doing what we do. Your support is deeply appreciated!

Another way to support my work is to nab one or more of these really super wonderfully nice, limited-edition, signed-and-numbered-on-my-own-kitchen-table, framed art prints. Neither you nor a person you gift one of these to will be disappointed. Have a look at these babies here.

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32 thoughts on “Achoo!

  1. Okay, I LIKED the Parallel Parking/Universe gag, but thought it could’ve been worded more obviously: “we couldn’t find a place we could diagonal park” maybe?

    As for the guru gag, to me the climber wasn’t clearly male (they were dressed the way a person of either gender would dress to climb a mountain), and ‘gay couple’ or even ‘couple’ wasn’t obvious since I’ve had arguments over apartment decorating with a totally-platonic roommate myself.

    And for the last gag, the flaw I saw was “why would the guy wait 5 years to try to escape?” And you description of the candidate doesn’t strike me as accurate; he’s not an “authoritarian fascist”, he just plays one on TV. A “power-mad over-entitled egomaniac” is more accurate – and potentially more dangerous. Although I occasionally jokingly mention the few positive actions he might do – like break up the Big Banks since he personally hasn’t been able to get a loan from any of the ones in the U.S. (all his bank business is with Deutsche Bank, which can be a source of even more scary-but-hilarious comparisons)

    One more thing (your cartoons have made me think a LOT this week): I usually play “find the hidden symbols” but today’s example with 13 knocked me over, considering your Hidden Symbols page only lists 11. I noticed the two separate appearances of the crown, but that only brought it to 12, and if I counted the multiple appearances of symbols on sides of the same box (2 crowns and 3 K2s), it brings the total to 15! Stop making me work so hard, man!

    • I got the Parallel Parking/Universe gag right away. But that’s because I am well aware that in the US at least, being able to parallel park is becoming a rare skill. That’s OK with me since the best parking spaces at work are the parallel slots, so even when I come in late I still get a good parking space.

  2. Regarding your comment about being a great artist/math being a genetic ability, I think you are wrong. I think the reason that most peole aren’t more productive in those respective fields is that they’ve simply convinced themselves that they can’t do it. The human brain is a highly configurable peice of hardware with an innate ability for both visual and numerical processing, it would be crazy to assume that the average person couldn’t become at least reasonably adept in either field.

    With math, I think the problem lies a lot with how we teach it, it’s jsut too boring and abstract for anyone to get a good amount of training in it, without being insane, like me.

    With art, I think it’s the notion that it takes talent to become good at it.

    • I’m not sure about math but I know that a person cannot be taught to be a great artist without a great amount of natural ability. You can practice and fine tune what you have but you cannot teach superior skills. As with superior athletes, the vast majority is a natural gift.

      • I believe to be good at higher math takes the right combination of skills. Speaking for myself, I didn’t have trouble with the concepts and was very good at word problems (which is why I became a good programmer), but there are other skills required to be able to ‘turn the crank’, like really good abstract pattern recognition and the ability to memorize very formal rules. So, Dan, I can easily understand your fascination with math concepts, but not being good at the ‘mechanics’ which are also required to be fully successful in the subject. I think really good mathematicians also have an artistic gene, as do really good scientists.

  3. I have to say something about the “No-fly” list…virtually nobody on it has been accused, charged with, or convicted of any crime. Most of them simply have the misfortune to share a name or have a similar name with somebody who (arguably) should be (and probably ISN’T) on that list. Most of the rest have been “reported” because they said or did something that somebody FELT could possibly maybe kinda be sort of suspicious…but has nothing to do with any grudge or dislike the “reporter” has against them, no sirree BOB…and then there is NO appeal to any court of law, because there is NO way to get off that list. Imagine trying to make your next convention on the opposite side of the continent, but you CAN’T take an airplane because Dan al-Piraro’s ex-wife is angry with him and told the Feds he MIGHT be a terrorist.
    The concept of “Innocent until proven guilty” has been increasingly perverted in the name of “Security”.

      • First, let’s define “assault” weapon. Are we talking about those scary looking rifle kind of guns that automatically shoot non-stop until the trigger is released or it runs out of bullets? If so, those have been outlawed for individual ownership since the 1960s.

        Or are we just talking about those scary looking black rifles that are really nothing more than a hunting rifle? One bullet per trigger pull ….

        The entire problem with the gun debate (and with most hot topic debates) is that people fail to define the terminology.

        I defend the 2nd amendment, but every rule can have logical exceptions.

      • …Except the US government who funds international arms deals to terror groups and associated countries. Citizens should not be allowed such power and we ought to limit individual freedoms, but we should expand government control over our private lives. Security before Liberty. (While on the uncomplicated subject of how we define “dangerous”…)

  4. The brain works in funny ways. I actually read “Alcool” instead of “Achoo!”.

    BTW I’m not a drinking man so there goes everybody’s theories LOL

    My favorite was the one about the parallel universe, with or without explanations. Brillant stuff!

  5. OMG! I love the mind-your-own-business envelopes … and the snot-be-gone tissues.
    Even though you and I are not on the same page with religion and political beliefs, we are in firm agreement that this election presents us with the most bizarre situation I’ve ever seen in all my 58 years. I cannot stand Hillary, but I can’t vote for Trump just because he’s not Hillary. I think I’ll just get drunk and stay that way for the next 4.5 years … no, maybe I’ll move to CO and resume smoking weed.

    I thought the gluten cartoon was hilarious. Even though I know a young lady who almost died of celiac before the doctors diagnosed her – or maybe because of the knowledge I gained from this – I consider gluten intolerance to be the “syndrome du jour” – hell, even the doctor who pushed gluten intolerance has since changed his mind based upon further research.

    People who cry “racism” these days prove their ignorance; most cases have nothing to do with race.

    I’m a knitter … love the knitting cartoon and thoughts.

    I’m a strong supporter of the 2nd amendment, but agree that some people should never be allowed to purchase a gun. Sadly, the media distorts “assault” weapons … or maybe ir’s sad that basic rifles are now made to look mean and scary. You are correct in your analogy that convicted child molesters should not be allowed to run day cares … I spent the majority of my legal career prosecuting these perverts and trying to help the children.

    I have to confess, though, that I did not ID the person climbing to the guru as gay. I thought it was a woman with her hair tucked into a cap. Yes, I do need a new pair of eyeglasses, but the cost is prohibitive for those of us without vision insurance.

    As for where I see myself in 5 years, I found the most amusement in the comments on Facebook: “in the mirror.” Much funnier than trying to draw a political analogy, because neither Trump nor Hillary nor Bernie nor Gary has the philosophy, character or intelligence to fix this broken nation of ours.

    • I counted only one of the crowns on the tissue box because the one on the left is so squished with perspective that it doesn’t really qualify as a crown any more, but I forgot the arrow in the woman’s back so that’s how I got 13. 14 is accurate without the squished crown but 15 is an acceptable interpretation. :^}

  6. I think it’s OK to make hypochondriac or trend diet jokes without making fun of actual sufferers of disease (or at least not having to live in fear of doing so), and I feel it should still be really OK to make other cultural jokes, even if it involves marriage, gays, the sexes, et c., without being stigmatized as a chauvinist, misogynist, homophobe, or whatever other label we ascribe to people society increasingly considers miscreants. (For that certainly changes with norms and social morés.) For instance, I tend to find humor in my disability as my way of dealing with it, turning something painful into something about which I may laugh. Lightbulb jokes should still be considered culturally acceptable and not prejudiced even if you make them about nationalities or religions. Common sense and moderation should inform us. If those are in short supply, a bit of humility helps as does a little self deprecating. If you think of America as a melting pot or, better, a tossed salad, it’s OK to acknowledge differences and still do so with a sense of humor. People are people and humor is a great way to celebrate our diversity and acknowledge our strengths and frailties. While we may offend certain folks unwittingly, I think we cannot live freely without risk of offending someone with our liberty. That is the nature of expression and of freedom. And it certainly seems to me it is the nature of the business of comedy and satire. Keep up the good work, Dan.

  7. Are you trying to give us Pickles a aneurysm? Sunday’s stop is giving me a headache. Well done incorporating l your secret symbols in the strip by the way. But you 13 has me confused. Depending on how you count them I get 14 total, if you count the K2 3 Times and the Crown 2 times.

    Inverted Bird, Dynamite of Boom, Pie of Opportunity and the Fish of Humility on the dresser.
    (4)

    Arrow of Vulnerability in wife/spouse/daughter’s back. (1)

    Lost Loafer on the Floor (1)

    Eyeball of Observation, Crown of Power and The Bunny of Exuberance in Pictures on the wall (3)

    CoP again on the Kleenex Box (1)

    Flying Saucer of Possibly hovering the bed (1)

    And the mysterious K3 on the Envelopes. (3)

    Adds up to 14 right?

    Hopefully this Pickle can sleep tonight and not find the Fish of Humility in my bed in the morning.

    • Sorry for distressing you. I counted only one of the crowns on the tissue box because the one on the left is so squished with perspective that it doesn’t really qualify as a crown any more, but I forgot the arrow in the woman’s back so that’s how I got 13. But 14 is accurate without the squished crown but 15 is an acceptable interpretation. :^}

  8. Loved the parallel parking one! Loved the subtlety! I laughed at them all but the parallel parking one really cracked me up!

  9. Nobody should be allowed to buy assault weapons, and that includes the police. Only the military needs such weapons. Automatic assault weapons have only one purpose – to kill as many as possible in as short amount of time as possible – and therefore they should be banned, period.

    Being on a terrorist watch list should not be the determining factor – if we need a reason to ban these weapons, their very nature is all the reason we need – so it bugs me when you try and make a connection that frankly has no scientific basis.

    As for the terrorist watch list, it’s as much a joke as the TSA. Neither one really keeps us safe, rather it’s all about portraying an image while cutting our liberties one at a time. We’d be safer without it – it merely gives a false sense of security. The murderer in Florida wasn’t on the terrorist watch list, yet I bet you there’s more than one innocent person who accidentally made it onto the list. Whatever happened to due process? People are put on the list out of suspicion without getting a fair trial. Is this what has become of our democracy???

    • I agree with you completely, John. I stated it the way I did because most headlines that day were saying something like “lawmakers voted against denying suspected terrorists from buying assault weapons”. That sentence makes the mind reel. I, too, think no one outside of the military should have them. I also agree the TSA is virtually entirely theater, and things like “no-fly” and “terrorist” watch lists do more to damage our freedom than keep us safe. From what I understand from the articles I’ve read, however, the Orlando shooter was on the terrorist watch list and had been under surveillance by the FBI for a few years, then recently dropped. Still, he bought his guns legally, which is a social insanity that almost matches his.

      • Glad you see it the same way, Dan. I do think it’s unfortunate all the news articles I’ve read frame it in this way without bothering to see the bigger picture.

        Thanks for pointing out about him being on the watch list – I didn’t know. Well, the fact he was later removed from the list still illustrates the ineffectiveness of it.

        While I believe using the terrorist watch list in that manner is a slippery slope away from our democratic principles, and possibly unconstitutional, I’m all for background checks and waiting periods. If someone is deemed mentally insane, that should also be a factor to consider (but don’t take it the wrong way – I have nothing against those who are mentally or physically challenged).

        There’s some truth to the saying, “guns don’t kill; people do”. As a society, we need to get to the root of the problem – children are taught that violence is acceptable. When I read in the news of a sport star who repeatedly beat up his girlfriend and he got a month of probation, but a 17-year old had “consensual” sex with his teacher and the teacher got life in prison, clearly something’s wrong with our values. These are both terrible crimes, but why people think the latter is so many times worse than the former, despite all the school shootings and such, I cannot fathom. It ought to be obvious that growing up in our culture of violence is what is most traumatic to the children.

        Sorry for being long-winded, maybe I got a little O.T. but I’m glad to have a free forum here sometimes :)

  10. My wife has celiac and I am positive she will think your bit is not just funny but very funny. Say anything and someone can be offended. Say something mild and someone can complain that you are not taking a stand in a time which requires strong opinion. Personally, I found “Where’s Walmart?” your very finest work. I am glad you can draw because you have good points to make and you are irreverent. I could care less about your math skills. I want what you produce in your strongest area and so does everyone else, except maybe your mom. Thanks for different perspective and strong execution. You make me smile.

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