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>Cracker Leverage

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Bizarro is brought to you today by Scary Parrots.

I likely won’t be posting much over the next few days during the holidays, so I’m leaving you with what I think is a good one. I confess that this idea came to me while looking at a cartoon in New Yorker by the legendary and brilliant Sam Gross. It isn’t a case of plagiarizing since I completely changed the gist of the gag, but it is a direct inspiration.

Even though I don’t like or celebrate Xmas, the wife and I spend a few days with friends in the country. It’s way fun and nobody plays Bing Crosby‘s Xmas album.

Hope all of you have a nice holiday, whatever that means to you. I’ll post again next week.

>Sporky the Pig

>Bizarro is brought to you today by Holiday Crafts.

This is a cute gag with a fun picture that I’m sure some of my readers enjoyed. Pretty much anything featuring a “spork” is humorous on some level: Mr. Spork of the Starship Enterprise, born with a silver spork in your mouth, etc. But it wasn’t until the day after the cartoon ran in papers and a reader emailed me that I realized my grievous error.

When I wrote this cartoon I confused the term “spoonbill,” which normally refers to certain birds, with “duck-billed,” which refers to platypuses. I knew the difference but because my brain is overworked and underpaid, I made a mental error in the beginning of the joke writing process and never gave it a second thought.

The next day another reader wrote to correct me, as well. I thanked both of these kind folks, both of whom were gentle, polite and informative, and told them that the kind of lunks that typically read Bizarro wouldn’t know the difference anyway.

Readers of this blog are excepted, of course. I’m sure all of you caught my error and am quite certain that none of you are lunks.

>Playing With Your Food

>Bizarro is brought to you today by Bill Maher.

As a lot of you know, like my friend Bill Maher, I’m an ethical vegan. (As opposed to someone who is vegan purely for his own health.) I occasionally think of cartoons that have to do with this topic and its related issues – nutrition, cruelty, health, the environment – and I toss them into the mix. I have been guilty of being pretty preachy about it in the past, it is difficult not to be when you are fighting against the suffering of those unable to speak for themselves, but I try very hard not to be and I hope I’m getting better.
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>Pumped up Pigeon

>Bizarro is brought to your attention here today by Major League Baseball.

I am not proud of this, but in my late teens and early adulthood, I found the idea of becoming a bodybuilder appealing. It was part and parcel of the inherent masculine insecurity of my youth and I suppose I figured if I was built like Arnold Schwarzenheimer, people would know I was tough.

Now when I look at those big bumpy people, I am both repulsed by the malformation of their bodies and impressed by how much time they’ve spent lifting heavy things instead of doing something intellectually or creatively stimulating. Some get so big I begin to wonder if they can still wipe their own butts or reach a computer keyboard with both hands.

Of course, there is a difference between people who build their bodies for competition and people who go crazy and turn into balloon animals. I think guys (and gals) like that have a similar body image distortion problem as anorexics and plastic surgery addicts.

I enjoy exercise and sports, always have, so I’ve spent a fair amount of time in gyms over the years, but the thought of doing so 6 or 8 hours a day for years sounds like a prison sentence. In fact, that’s pretty much a lot of prisoners actually do all day, but at least they’re getting free room and board.

I don’t mean to be overly judgmental, body building isn’t for me but that doesn’t make it wrong or worthless. I have a couple of friends who are vegan bodybuilders and they’re both great guys. They enjoy bodybuilding and they’re animal rights types, so they use their sport to show that one does not need animal protein or steroids to become strong and bumpy. Cheers to them.

They also still look human, which is a big plus in my book.

>Caged

>Bizarro is brought to you today by Bunnies.

I’ve never watched an entire cage match, only a minute or so. I find it fascinating like a car wreck: can’t not look but then wish I hadn’t. I’m not talking about the phony-baloney wrestling cage events, I’m talking about these Ultimate Fighter competitions, in which two guys literally beat the crap out of each other until somebody gives up or dies.

Humans are such a contradictory species. Without any natural fighting weapons – fangs, claws, stinger, venom, strength – we are still the single-most violent animal on the planet. We’re the only one that fights for entertainment, for things we want but don’t need, over control of the TV channel changer.

But even though I have an elitist/pacifist attitude toward violence, I admit I’m still attracted to it. My favorite sport is hockey and I enjoy reading or watching shoot’em-up stories about good guys blowing away bad guys. But I think a part of controlling our violent nature is to realize it is part of our nature. I’ve always found it easier to behave ethically if I recognize my ability to behave unethically. I wouldn’t take a job as a college professor, for instance, because I prefer to remain faithful to my wife.

When I see these “cage fighters,” I often wonder what kinds of horrifying places they must have come from to have honed these kinds of skills to such a high level. (Same with Dick Cheney.) It’s probably good to toss them in a cage and let them duke it out where they can’t hurt anyone else. In fact, I’m thinking of bringing a cage home for the holidays.

>A Resounding Yes

>Bizarro is brought to you today by Affordable Toupees.

People often ask me if I draw cartoons based on my own experiences. The answer is a resounding, “YES!”

If I had a nickel for every time a woodland creature had warned me about another woodland creature, I’d have $953.72. (Three-fifths of one of the woodland creatures was missing, so I didn’t take a full nickel.)

But seriously, folks, illegal drugs are no laughing matter. Many are potentially harmful to your physical and/or mental health, some are even as bad as prescription drugs. So do what the talking squirrel does when he is offered illicit substances of recreational repute: Squeak, bite, and run!

This has been a public service announcement from the United States Department of Career Guidance.

NOTE: Want to look as suave as the dude in this cartoon? Click here for the official Bizarro Icon Line of high-quality schwag!*

*A large percentage of all profits goes to debt collectors. Makes excellent gifts.

>Prison Fun for the Whole Family

>Today’s Bizarro is brought to you by Charming Garden Statuary.

I used to love zoos, but now I despise them. I know that the human brain is a unique product of evolution (or creation, if you’re of that camp) and other animals are not as complex as we, but in emotional ways, other species are far more similar to us than they are dissimilar. It’s easy to miss, but if you get to know a non-human animal it becomes apparent quickly. Anyone who has made friends with a dog knows in their gut that there are emotions behind that slobbering muzzle. Other species are no different.

I no longer think that imprisoning any animal for purposes of entertainment is morally defensible. If I were dictator of the world, I would ban zoos, SeaWorld, circuses with animals, etc. There are always ways to entertain oneself without victimizing someone else.

Some argue that zoos give the public face-to-face appreciation for animals that help them to protect them in the wild. Personally, I think that is a cop-out. I don’t need to visit an Indonesian orphan behind bars in a zoo to know I shouldn’t buy products made by ones being enslaved in Jakarta. If a person has a conscience, they don’t need the personal experience to understand an injustice, if they do not, the visit to the zoo doesn’t help anyway.

Modern, “nice” zoos are not much better than archaic ones. No matter how nice your house is, if you’re not allowed to leave it for the rest of your life, you go nuts.

All this is just my radical opinion, take it for what it is worth. I like to think that other animals are here with us, not for us. Accordingly, I won’t do (or subsidize being done) anything to a non-human animal that I wouldn’t do to a human child. Surprisingly, I don’t find that I’m missing a lot. Here’s a page I wrote in 2003 about my relatively late-in-life conversion to this way of thinking, if you’re interested.

Sorry for the lack of humor in today’s posting. Here’s something funny to make up for it.

>CONTEST TOMORROW, Parrot Today

>Bizarro is brought to you today by Great Band Names.

If I was a shape-shifter, like “Sam” on HBO’s Trueblood, I would choose to be a bird every time. Imagine being able to fly under your own power. Holy cow(bird). Of course, I’d want to be a bird with my mind, not a bird’s mind. Not because birds don’t have good minds (they have perfect minds for life as a bird) but I would want to protect myself from cats, hunters, traffic, the pet trade, all the sort of things birds fall prey to.

But shape-shifters have that ability, at least on Trueblood. They maintain their own consciousness, but take on the shape of a different animal for however long they want, then switch back. So cool.

The only downside to shape-shifting is the nudity. You lose your clothes when you change into another species – you could hardly imagine a pigeon flying around New York City wearing jeans and a hoodie – so when you change back, you’re still naked. And you have to be careful where you leave your stuff when you first “shift” because your wallet will still be in your pants or whatever. It would be a drag to come back from your flight to find all of your stuff missing. How do you get back into your house without your keys? Naked people trying to jimmy windows are often frowned upon by neighbors.

Back to the things birds fall prey to, few things break my heart the way the sight of a bird in a cage does. I admire people who rescue parrots from “pet owners” and try to give them the best life possible given that their natural life has been ruined by captivity already, but I am dead set against people who buy birds to keep as pets. If I were a bird, I’d rather be set free than live the rest of my life in someone’s kitchen window, regardless of how long I could survive in that environment. I’m always tempted to release birds I see in hotel lobbies and pet stores. Big parrots wouldn’t have much of a chance, their wings are typically clipped anyway, but little finches and songbirds would probably be fine just flitting around the city eating what they can. When winter comes, they might not make it, but I can’t help but believe that’s a better life than prison. Some cities do, in fact, have large populations of escaped birds. Good for them.

Before my animal rights friends come down on me for encouraging behavior that might endanger innocent birds, let me say I’m just thinking out loud. I don’t really know what is best for a given species in a given climate. I just know what I’d want. I’d be the Patrick Henry of birds: Give me liberty or give me death. But not in a creepy, backwoods middle America way with stockpiles of guns and a fear of socialized medicine.

I’ll post a cartoon contest tomorrow at 6pm NYC time. Watch for it, play it, enjoy it. First person to post the correct answers in the comment section wins!

>Double Stubble

>Bizarro is brought to you today by Two for One.

Generally speaking, I try to post these cartoons a week after they appear in papers, and since I’m a bit behind that schedule, I’m posting two today. What good fortune for us all!

In one we have a cat who was mutilated for the purposes of his “owner’s” convenience, musing sarcastically about said owner’s karmic comeuppance. In the other, we have a moving man transporting all of the worldly possessions of an ascetic monk in a bicycle basket.

Can you tell which cartoon is which?

NOTE: This is not a contest, per se. No winner will be announced, no prizes awarded. Play at your own risk. Injuries or financial loss incurred while reading this blog are not the responsibility of the characters in the cartoons, nor their creator. If you are still reading this far, why not purchase some fine Bizarro products from this website? I don’t get paid for writing this blog or posting these cartoons and newspapers are closing right and left. A guy has to make a living or he’ll have to quit this line of work and go back to washing cars and selling phony religious artifacts on the side. (Can I interest anyone in a genuine button off of Jimi Hendrix’s shirt?)

>Psycho Analyzes

>Bizarro is brought today before your face by Signage Improvement.

I’m not sure why I drew myself as the analyst in this cartoon. I didn’t really mean to, it just sort of came out that way in the pencil sketch and got even more so when I inked it.

Perhaps it is what they call a “Freudian slip.” Perhaps I have a closeted sheep within me that I am afraid to embrace. Buried deep in the cockles of my being could be mounds of squooshy wool and big floppy ears, yearning to bleat and graze and follow the herd from hill to dale.

Or, maybe I am the wolf, wishing I could break the societal constraints of our culture and run naked in the wild, ripping the throats out of weaker beings.

Perhaps I secretly see myself as the table, patiently waiting in silence to offer a sip of water or a tissue.

Or, I’m just an egomaniac who likes to draw himself. Kind of pathetic.

Until next time…if you want to distract the monkeys, you may have to throw some bananas.

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