Category Archives: Mad Magazine

Hot Air: Good Sense Worth 2 Cents

Trifling Trans

Have you heard the news? Caitlyn Jenner’s gonna pose fairly nudely on the cover of Sports Illustrated this summer around the 40th anniversary of her gold medal turn in the 1976 Montreal Olympics.


Jenner, Long Ago And Far Away

Don’t hate me but I have to confess — I don’t give a holy shit about Jenner’s gender choice. I’m long past the point of noodling about trans people. I accept whatever form of gender display they choose. I’m even related to a trans person and I love that person (I won’t use a gender pronoun because I don’t want to even hint who that person might be).

Now some may say Jenner’s excruciatingly public transformation is important because too many dopes in this holy land are scared little rabbits when it comes to someone making or having made the big change. Fair enough, but knowing a relative or a co-worker or a next door neighbor who’s experienced the ordeal of redefining him- or herself to the public seems a much more effective way of bringing those folks into the mainstream, which is where they belong.

Caitlyn Jenner and that whole Kardashian mob serve only themselves and not some higher moral precept like the acceptance of those who are different.


Check out this piece on cartoonist Al Jaffee of Mad magazine. The old bird just turned 95 y.o. and is still scribbling pix for the beloved satire mag. He refuses to retire, saying, “They’re going to have to suffer the ignominy of firing a 95-year-old man.”

Don’t you just love feistiness, especially in a person most of whose contemporaries have been populating graveyards for years and years? BTW: He’s in no danger of being canned.

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Anyway, Mad magazine was my fave before I even hit my teens. It became a must-get after my mother, having discovered a couple of issues in my bedroom, warned me never to bring the mags to school and, moreover, not to even talk about them with my friends. She fell back on the nebulous they for authority. “They say this stuff is communist,” she said. “You can get in trouble if they (presumably my teachers, the police and/or, perhaps, the FBI) catch you with these.”

From that moment onward, I bought and hoarded every issue that came out.

Back to Jaffee, he invented the fold-in, the back cover cartoon feature wherein you folded it over at specified arrows to create a second ironic and always uproarious cartoon. The very first one featured Elizabeth Taylor kissing Richard Burton — this just as she was starting up her torrid affair with him — while her current husband, Eddie Fisher, was being trampled by the celebrity-obsessed crowd. You folded the panel in and — voila! — there was Liz smooching some other, anonymous handsome swain in the crowd with the caption, “The Next One!”

The next one, in terms of the fold-ins, featured Richard Nixon.

Mad always came down hard and funny on celebs and pols. Advertisements, big corporations, various blowhards, and sundry moralists, as well. It continues publishing to this day, both in hard copy and online, which makes me happy.

Good Luck

Malcolm Gladwell made a big splash with his 2008 book, Outliers, the gist of which was highly successful people like Bill Gates benefitted as much from the times they were born and where they were raised as from their brilliance, hard work and perseverance.

Now comes author Robert H. Frank with his new book, Success and Luck, connecting much of the myth-making about successful folk to the widening divides between conservatives and liberals and the haves and have-nots. Conservatives, Frank argues — as do I, love to buy into the fairy tale that the wealthy and successful got that way because they are special souls while the poor are poor because they aspire only to stand on the street corner smoking cigarettes and drinking out of bottles in brown paper bags.

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Get A Job, Ya Bum!

Believe me, I’ve had countless shouty debates in barrooms w/ people who’ve made just those assertions.

Frank also tells us his ideas about how policy changes might be able to even the playing field for poor sap kids who grow up, say, in Appalachia or East LA and are just as innately brilliant, hard working, and perseverant as guys like Gates.

May 7th Birthdays

David Hume — Scottish philosopher who championed empiricism, skepticism, and naturalism. He argued in  A Treatise on Human Nature that we’re not so rational but more reactive and hard-wired from birth to do what we do.


Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky — Russian composer, one of the few classical greats who are known to a great number of people. He studied more Western forms and themes of music and included some of them them in his repertoire even though his output is considered definitive of the Russian character.

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Gary Cooper — One of the greatest underplaying film actors of the 20th Century.

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Eva Perón — Even though she’d been pals with Spain’s fascist dictator, Francisco Franco, “Evita” has been worshipped for some three-quarters of a century by Argentines for her and her husband Juan Perón’s liberal reign as the South American country’s first couple. She died young, contributing to her mythical status à la JFK.

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Anne BaxterEve.


Thelma Houston — Late-disco-era singer whose hit, “Don’t Leave Me This Way,” became an anthem during the days of big-city, airplane-hangar-sized gay dance bars.

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Amy Heckerling — One of the still-too-few female movie directors, gave us Fast Times at Richmont High and Clueless.


Thomas Piketty — Economist and author whose hugely best-selling 2013 book, Capital in the 21st Century, sits unread on millions of coffee tables around the world.

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The Pencil Today:


“You can’t just sit around and make protest albums all your life; eventually it comes to the point where you have to do something.” — Paul Kantner


So, Mitch Daniels went all the way Sunday morning. He appeared on Fox News (where else?) and called for the elimination of public sector unions.

That’s Rich, Mitch

Next week, Donald Trump and Mitt Romney will appear on Fox to call for the elimination of the 50 states. They will be replaced, under the Hair Hell/Mitt Plan, by fiefdoms run by the leading corporations on the Fortune 500 list.

On June 24th, Ron Paul will present his proposal to declare the national deity whichever plutocrat happens to occupy the Richest Man in America spot each particular week.

Sometime in July, Saint Ronald Reagan is expected to arise from the dead, speak briefly on the Fox News Sunday program, and then ascend into heaven.




Prosperity gospel” bunk artist Creflo Dollar harangued his congregation yesterday about his arrest on charges of physically abusing his 15-year-old daughter.

He denied everything, natch. “I want the church family to know that all is well in the Dollar household,” he thundered.

Charged With Battery, Family Violence, & Child Cruelty

Here’s a personal message to Dollar: Your own daughter caused you to be cuffed, printed, and given a room in the Lockup Hotel. Your own daughter. All is not well in your household.

By the way, the holy loon’s wife is named Taffi Dollar. Did a comedy writer come up with this stuff?

Daffy & Taffi

His congregation numbers some 20,000 trusting souls. He is reported to have owned a couple of Rolls Royces. He flies around in a private Gulfstream jet. He lives in a million dollar home in Georgia as well as a $2.5M pad in Manhattan. He tells his sheep that Jesus and his old man want them to be rich, rich, rich, just like him. Then he asks them to send him dough. Loads of it. How much? No one can say precisely. has rated him F in financial transparency.

The New York Post reports that his church rakes in $65M a year.

Oh, and his ministry doesn’t pay any taxes.

Wouldn’t you love to do to him what his daughter says he did to her?


Mad magazine is still at it. (h/t to Brady Haston from Tennessee.)


Bill Maher’s right. (Go to the 2:42 mark in the vid.)

He smacked the Occupy Wall Street and street protest crowds Friday.

OWS and the rest of the dance-on-the-pavement bunch who think The Man is afraid of them because they wear bandannas over their faces have to start thinking about real change in a real world.

NATO Protesters In Chicago

Playing cowboys and Indians on the streets may be fun but it gets nothing done.

Let’s start holding Town Hall meetings.

Let’s start registering voters.

Let’s run voter shuttles on election day.

Let’s start packing school boards, county commissions, city councils, and other small legislative bodies

Then let’s focus on the House and the Senate.

Let’s withdraw our money from gargantuan banks.

Let’s start credit unions.

Let’s pack municipal, state, and federal legislative sessions.

Let’s apply real pressure.

Whee! I’m Changing The World!

Here’s Maher: “It seems to be working for the Tea Party. I mean, think of it, three years ago the Tea Party was just a few hundred diabetics angry at blacks and gays for making them feel old. But now they have 62 seats in Congress.”

Believe me, NATO ministers and investment bank CEOs and corporate rapists don’t care who you are under that bandana nor do they care what your placard reads.

Or Your Chest

The Pencil Today:


“I learned to draw everything except glamorous women. No matter how much I tried to make them look sexy, they always ended up looking silly — or like somebody’s mother.” — Norman Rockwell


Idly surfing the interwebs last night I came across this publicity still from the film noir classic, “The Killers.”

That’s Ava Gardner and Burt Lancaster. Here’s a simple question — are they the two sexiest human beings ever brought together on film?

In fact, let’s make this official. Herewith is another in our irregular series of Pencil Polls:

For my dough, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are mere romantic manqués. They can’t touch Ava and Burt for steaminess, passion, and delicious, forbidden love.

So, we’re presenting a list of hot screen couples. Pick your fave pairing. Results to follow in a couple of days.

Anyone who writes in Julia Roberts & Richard Gere from “Pretty Woman” will be banned from this site permanently.

Oh, and remember, I’m a native Chicagoan so you can vote as often as you’d like. Additionally, I’ll accept unmarked envelopes stuffed with cash to influence the results. Hooray for democracy!


If your mind is open, you can acquire wisdom from the unlikeliest of sources. For instance, I read every day. I learned something about politics and Big Media from it this week.

When I was a kid, Cracked magazine was sort of a cut-rate Mad magazine. It wasn’t as incisive or insightful as Mad but it’d do in a pinch.

Mad’s still out there as a hard copy magazine but Cracked is now only a web presence. Cracked seems to have superseded Mad in terms of overall popularity and name recognition among kids today (that includes anyone who’s a year and a half younger than I am). Cracked also has upped its game — its now as cutting-edge as Mad ever was.

Anyway, in an article entitled “5 Ways to Spot a B.S. Political Story in Under 10 Seconds,” Cracked offers as cogent an analysis of the role of corporate media and internet idiocy in the political arena as can be found in any collegiate media studies course.

Take my word for it and go there. You’ll thank me. Here’s the list — you do the reading.

  • 5) The Headline Contains the Word “Gaffe”
  • 4) The Headline Ends in a Question Mark
  • 3) The Headline Contains the word “Blasts”
  • 2) The Headline Is About a “Lawmaker” Saying Something Stupid
  • 1) The Headline Includes the Phrase “Blow To”

Even I — the most reasonable man on the face of the Earth — have fallen prey to one or more of these Big Media manipulations. How about the time that knuckleheaded state representative from Ft. Wayne, Bob Morris, called the Girl Scouts “radicalized” and accused GSA leadership of pushing an abortion agenda down its young membership’s throats.

I went all righteously ballistic on Morris and stood on my head trying to prove that he was the voice of the Republicans.

Now don’t get me wrong, the Republican platform is as appealing to me as spending a weekend at a retreat with the Kardashians, but the truth is just because a person is a member of the GOP doesn’t mean s/he is psychopathic.

No, only Bob Morris is. And that’s David Wong’s point (Wong is the author of the Cracked piece.) Wong asserts that any large group of people will contain a few lunatics. Even a group as small as a dozen would probably claim a maniac or two among its members. To paint the entire group with the brush handed you by its most deranged member is a childish act.

Wong brings up the recent hoo-hah over a Ted Nugent comment about Barack Obama. At this year’s NRA Convention in St. Louis Nugent said, “If Barack Obama becomes the president in November again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.” He then ranted about some “battlefield,” “chop[ping] their heads off,” and “clean[ing] house.”

Clearly it was just wacky, white noise (and I mean that on a couple of levels).

Ted Talking

Big Media went gaga over it, though, wondering if the Motor City Madman was actually threatening to take out Obama with his bow and arrow. Reporters flocked to Mitt Romney to find out when precisely he’d disassociate himself from Nugent’s remark and if not, was it because Romney endorsed the assassination of the president?

It was pack journalism and media hysteria at its finest. And all because some old man rocker flapped his gums.

So, check out the piece. Perhaps it’ll make you a smarter voter.


I can take or leave Ted Nugent’s music — mostly I can leave it. But his first big hit with the band, the Amboy Dukes, was about as cool as anything released in the year 1968.

This vid is funny in that it shows the band as sort of stiff and contrived in a Republican-y way. I wonder if Nugent was a Republican even back then.

The song, though, is terrific.

Electron Pencil event listings: Music, art, movies, lectures, parties, receptions, benefits, plays, meetings, fairs, conspiracies, rituals, etc.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Monroe County Public LibraryExhibit, “Muse Whisperings,” water color paintings done by residents of Sterling House; through May 31st, 9am-close

Monroe County Public LibraryUsed books and media sale; 9am-4pm

IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibits, “Blended Harmonies: Music and Religion in Nepal”; through July 1st — “Esse Quam Videri (To Be, Rather than To Be Seen): Muslim Self Portraits; through June 17th — “From the Big Bang to the World Wide Web: The Origins of Everything”; through July 1st, 9am-4:30pm

IU Grunwald (SOFA) GalleryMFA & BFA Thesis 3 exhibitions; through May 5th, Noon

IU Kinsey Institute GalleryExhibit, “Man as Object: Reversing the Gaze”; through June 29th, 1:30-5pm

Bear’s PlaceJazz Fables, IU Jazz Graduation Concert; 5:30pm

IU CinemaShort films from students in IU’s Department of Telecommunications; 6:30pm

Farm Bloomington, The Root Cellar — Ryder Films, “The Fairy”; 6:30pm

Monroe County Public Library, Auditorium — “We Don’t Know Where to Put You, Huck,” community panel discussion about Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”; 7-8:30pm

Cafe DjangoTom Miller at the piano; 7:30-9:30pm

The BluebirdSon Volt; 8pm

Son Volt

Upland Brewing CompanyAaron Persinger; 8pm

The Comedy AtticTJ Miller; 8pm

Max’s PlaceNew Old Cavalry; 9pm

Bear’s PlaceKaraoke; 9pm

IU CinemaStudent film, “Student Seven”; 9:30pm