Optical Collusion


(To make a whole big thing out of the cartoon below, click Picasso’s big toe.)

Bizarro is brought to you today by Something To Do With Jesus, Possibly?

Lately, I’ve been spending a lot more time on fine art than I have in many years so this cartoon was a labor of love, to be certain. Escher and Picasso were both geniuses but at completely opposite ends of the art spectrum: Escher was first and foremost a draftsman whose precision was remarkable and at times breathtaking; Picasso was all about raw creativity expressed with passion instead of precision. I would guess they could appreciate each other’s talents but I found it easy to imagine a friendly put-down session––in the way that some men have of “busting each other’s balls” as a sign of affection.

With the direction that America is going, it won’t be long before corporations begin requiring their serfs to wear dog suits and get spayed/neutered to alleviate any pesky maternity or paternity leave. Discipline will likely come in the form of being hit on the nose by rolled up IRS tax forms, which they will no longer need now that the Republicans have legally excused rich people from paying taxes.

Quick commercial break: we added some stuff to the Bizarro store this week. 

If recent political headlines and the impending American Civil War Part 2 have gotten you down, you may find this short article as calming and comforting in a philosophical sense as I did. I’m a big fan of Maria Popova and highly recommend her blog for those of you living an examined life.

I know Starbucks has millions of loyal addicts and that’s why you can’t fall asleep driving without crashing through the front doors of one, but I’m one of those who thinks their coffee tastes like the liquefied remains of an old trailer park that burned down. One of my readers suggested they burn their coffee on purpose in order to encourage customers to go for the more elaborately flavored coffee drinks with lots of bells and whistles, which are more expensive. It’s as good a theory as I’ve heard; nothing like caramel, chocolate, whipped cream, pumpkin spice and sprinkles to disguise the flavor of charred mobile home carpeting.

Cartoons about complaint windows used to be as frequent as those about desert islands but they went out of style ages ago along with the windows themselves. Still, I thought this meta version of a complaint window cartoon might be worth a smile. You can still complain online, of course, but the motif isn’t very suitable for cartoons.

This cartoon stirred some controversy, as I knew it would. Someone mentioned that SNL did a skit about this very thing last week and I hastened to inform them that I submitted this cartoon for publication four weeks ago, so technically, I was first. Being first is important in the world of comedy writing.

After so many centuries of being treated like property, I am encouraged to see so many women speaking out against abusers and having some success with making them pay a price. Although this kind of reckoning is long overdue, these kinds of movements always gather their own momentum and innocent people get lynched in the process, and that concerns me.  I’m also disheartened by the fact that the “president” of the U.S. is a prime example of the kind of scum that deserves punishment (for sexual harassment and an almost unfathomable list of other sins against decency) but will likely never receive it. It’s enough to make me wish the Hell I was indoctrinated with as a small child were real.  (I’d better go back and read that Popova article again.)

I know it’s morbid but all my life I have been curious about what a human brain goes through after a beheading. Are there a few moments when you are aware of what happened but are not yet dead?  How long does it take before one loses consciousness? Is it painful? I’ve no doubt I could google this question and get all kinds of information, scientific and otherwise, but I think it might disturb me so I don’t. I’m content to just wonder and shudder.

My calendar tells me tomorrow is a major holiday. If that’s meaningful to you, I wish you a happy and fulfilling Christmas. If not, I wish you a happy and fulfilling Monday. If you’re into some other holiday at this time of year, I wish you a happy That Thing.

I’ll be back next week with more cartoons and commentary and I hope you’ll join me. If you’d like an email each time I post something here, drop your email address into that slot in the right margin of this page. I’ll never share or sell your contact info, nor will I send you creepy emails asking what you’re wearing. (I’m not very presidential in that regard.)

Also, if my efforts have brought you joy this year, please consider tossing me a buck or two to help keep the lights on at Rancho Bizarro. 




37 thoughts on “Optical Collusion

  1. Wow! For the big Sunday panel you had to manually write out the dialog in the balloons!!

    (I’m also a fan of Maria Popova because I like o get my brain picked.)

    By the way, I looked around here for the Complaint Window, but I couldn’t find it. That’s not intended as a complaint.

  2. Please collect the cartoons involving Pinatas; I’ve saved them all for a young Latina and they have all been wonderful. I’ve been a fan for years.

  3. I too have a curiosity (morbid or not) about what happens when one is decapitated. There’s probably a scientific name for that mild obsession.
    Anyway, really happy to share this Pale Blue Dot with you guys. See you tomorrow!

      • “You know that cool blast of air in the middle of your brain when an axe splits your head? I love that feeling. But since that’s the only way I can get it, I try not to get too hung up on it.”~the late great George Carlin

  4. Dan, I LOVE the Picasso/Escher strip! I’ve always been a huge Escher fan, so I can imagine what fun that must have been to draw!

  5. The usual fine roundup but I especially appreciate your breaking with the orthodoxy that Starbucks coffee is drinkable, very definitely over-roasted. That is, except for the espresso -based drinks which are watery. That’s what happens when you multinationalize. I’m a fan of the carefully made home brew and the indie coffee bar.

  6. I just showed the video of Sagan’s “pale blue dot” speech to my best friend today. It’s always good when you need some perspective.

  7. I really liked the Picasso and Escher cartoon. It reminded me of when my son and I went to the art museum in Vancouver BC in September 2017 to see the Monet collection on temporary loan. We walked through just in awe of the excellence of this impressionist but as we got deeper into the collection the work became more and more out of focus for us and we had to stand well back to see what he was actually portraying. My son and I joked about the artist eyesight as it was becoming more and more difficult to see or feel what the artist was implying on his canvas. Somewhere near the end of the exhibit, we read that Monet was losing his eyesight. All things becoming clear at that point was questionable but hey, if we can joke about it, so can you. You crack me up…

  8. Re: beheading. I think it was a “thing” for a bystander to pick up the head immediately upon being severed from the neck and look the person in the eyes. Sometimes they mouthed things briefly, but of course could make no sound. There were also reports of eye movements and other facial expressions.

    The science seems to be inconclusive. Some say any movements are involuntary, others say consciousness could persist for a few seconds, or even more. Results are inhibited by the lack of any direct feedback from the subject … er … the victim … the accused? Anyway, The Google will find some animal testing that has been performed.

  9. About the beheading on 12/23 —
    What will happen to your singular skull after you expire?
    Maybe you can actually plan for such a thing there in Mexico!
    [There are likely umpteen laws against such a practice here in the US.]
    How about this —
    Start an online auction for said artifact …
    the proceeds to go to some charitable cause …
    or to provide a “life insurance” policy for your heirs?
    Actually, I bet a lot of folks would be happy to leave their skulls to posterity.
    It would gratify me a tiny bit to know my cabeza would be still out there.
    Like — on someone’s mantle?
    Even in a science classroom somewhere?
    Please let us know if this notion works for you.
    There are many unborn cartoons out there along the lines of —

    “Alas, Poor Yorick!
    I knew him well ….
    a fellow of infinite jest,
    of most excellent fancy.”

    Sounds like Hamlet might have been describing you, Dan.

    • I’ve thought of donating my body to science but I’d want to make sure it was used in an amusing way. So, yeah, I’d go for this idea.

  10. another week for the record books, dan. well played.

    the picasso-escher lunch is excellent….. reminds me of a continuation of steve martin’s “picasso at the lapin agile”…. but more fucked up…. in a good way. escher may disgree with the modern love’s classic line in “pablo licasso,” that pablo picasso was never called an asshole…..

  11. Bad enough that Starbucks was pushing their surary, fatty, and salty drinks to cover up their overroasted coffee; but the sheer volume of their market presence has warped the coffee scene to the point where even half the indie shops in my town are pushing overroasted coffee.

    And this is a college town, so there are indeed indie coffee shops, but it’s still harder than it ought to be, for me to find an espresso I can drink straight.

  12. So the Escher-style bird seems to be counted as the inverted bird secret symbol, but it seems to be standing on the floor of the right (inverted) wall, so it’s not really an inverted bird. Like everything Escher (or Picasso or Piraro) this cartoon is riddled with paradoxes.

    • I also liked the teapot gag as well. With abstract artists, like Picasso, I find it interesting to look at their (usually) earlier work of conventional representational art. In the case of Picasso, he was indeed able to paint beautiful ‘conventional’ paintings. Oddly enough this makes his abstract paintings more interesting because it is clear there is nothing accidental or random about them, given his very high level technical skills to create any sort of image he can imagine.

  13. Starbucks utterly failed in Australia – they opened almost 100 stores in 2000 and closed all but 20 of them in 2008 after losing $143 million. The trick is that Australia took in a huge number of Greek and Italian immigrants after World War II who taught us to make and love real coffee – as opposed to the burnt, watered down, syruped up bilge water Starbucks serves. It’s telling that all the remaining Starbucks are in tourist areas where they can rely on custom from overseas visitors who don’t know any better.

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