“Things Are Getting Dangerously Nutty!”

Berkeley Breathed Knows All About It!

There are a lot of ways at looking at America’s seemingly insoluble split down the middle between the Trumpites/Tea Partiers and the Liberals. Probably the healthiest approach is to take Opus’s point of view. It was that split that brought Berkeley Breathed, the creator of Bloom County, out of retirement. Today, his Facebook page is one of the sanest places on the Internet.

Does anyone knew where I can yet yellow and green briefs with smiley faces printed on them?

A 20-Year-Old Fan Letter

 

Harper Lee (1926-2016)

Harper Lee (1926-2016)

The author of everybody’s favorite book, To Kill a Mockingbird (1960), died today at the age of 89. Most literate Americans revere her memory, even after the recent publication of Go Set a Watchman (2015), in which Atticus Finch is revealed to be a (gasp!) bigot. I take no position on it, however, as I have not read the book; and I find the first reaction to anything by the media is usually wrong.

But what I want to write about is a letter Ms. Lee wrote to cartoonist Berkeley Breathed twenty years ago, when he decided to voluntarily stop publishing “Bloom County,” “Outland,” and “Opus.” It was the character of Opus the Penguin that she would miss the most. Here is the text of the letter as it appeared in Breathed’s Facebook posting today:

Dear Mr. Breathed,

This is a plea from a dotty old lady, and from others not dotty at all: Please don’t shut down OPUS. Can’t you at least give him a reprieve? OPUS is simply the best comic strip there is….

The letter goes on, but that’s all that Breathed shares with us. Fortunately, Opus is back, along with his Bloom County buddies, on Facebook, where I religiously check it each day.

Opus the Penguin

Opus the Penguin

Commenting on her letter, the cartoonist writes:

Bloomers: Many, but not all of you, know that in the way that creative life can often surprise, Harper Lee was one of you. One of us. You might be as surprised as I am that she played a large role in my recent return to the streets of Bloom County—streets inspired by those of Maycomb. When I retired Opus from the Sunday comics some years ago, Harper let me know her displeasure, with all the southern, gracious elegance we knew her for. See the letter below. I’ve waited until her passing to show it. We came to exchange many similar notes… including one in which she grudgingly forgives me for my retirement (irony alert). Imagine my 14 year-old self—freshly savoring the first reading of Mockingbird and sending Miss Lee a fan letter in 1970—being told about another fan letter returning my way almost 40 years distant. Life is wonderful and strange and wistful and happy at the same time. And I’m happy to share this with all of you today.

To follow Opus and his buddies, click here.

 

My Christmas Place

Reykjavik

Reykjavik

At Christmas time, my thoughts turn to Reykjavik, Iceland. I always think of the small city—the world’s northernmost capital—as my special Christmas place.

Not that I have ever been there at Christmas, which at that latitude is dark twenty-two hours a day around the winter solstice. No, like most of the other tourists, I have only been here in the summer. Then why do I think of Reykjavik when I think of Christmas? Is it the warmth of its people in that freezing seasonal darkness? Is it the thirteen Yule Lads of Icelandic lore that have woven their spell on me?

Here is a photo of the port of Reykjavik taken by Páll Stefánsson of The Iceland Review. His photographs have a way of keeping his little land foremost in my mind.

As for the “real” meaning of Christmas, I give you this comic strip by Berkeley Breathed:

A Merry Christmas to All!

A Merry Christmas to All!

Beware of Deadly Hype

Berkeley Breathed’s Take on the New Star Wars

Berkeley Breathed’s Take on the New Star Wars

For the last several months, I have been closely following the cartoons of Berkeley Breathed, author of the Bloom County comic strip, newly resuscitated in view of the sudden rise of Donald Trump.  You can follow the progress of Opus, Bill the Cat, Steve Dallas, Milo, Binkley, and the gang on Breathed’s Facebook page. (His last name, by the way, is pronounced BRETH-edd.)  That’s where I got the two posters displayed on this page.

I was a big fan of the original Star Wars, which I saw previewed at Twentieth Century Fox studio before it was premiered. It was electrifying with its gritty view of outer space. But then they just kept adding curlicues to it, and for me the magic palled. I still love science fiction, but I stick with the classics, such as Philip K. Dick, Stanislaw Lem, and Boris and Arkady Strugatsky.

Say, Is That a Pooper Scooper, Boba?

Say, Is That a Pooper Scooper, Boba?

You probably will not find me sleeping outside the theater to be first in line for the premiere of the Disney Star Wars: Instead, I will be wending my way to Palm Desert to visit my brother and his family.

My Final Word on the Subject

As Usual, Bill the Cat is Eloquence Personified

As Usual, Bill the Cat is Eloquence Personified

Donald Trump has brought joy to comics—though not to me—and even inspired Berkeley Breathed to start up his Bloom County comic once again after a thirty plus year absence. If, as most of my friends think, Trump will self-destruct long before November 2016, all well and good. But, if not, look for another Reichstag fire, concentration camps for Mexicans and women, and perhaps another land invasion of Russia.

It Kind of Says It All, Doesn’t It?

It Kind of Says It All, Doesn’t It?

You see, I have lost my faith in the American voter. Trump’s rising popularity in the face of the most asinine political behavior imaginable leads to to expect that the mofo might possibly win. And, if that happens, say goodbye to the U. S. of A.