Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4 | Page 5 | Page 6 | Page 7 | Page 8 | Page 9 | Page 10 | Page 11 | Page 12 | Page 13 | Page 14 | Page 15 | Page 16 | Page 17 | Page 18 | Page 19 | Page 20 | Page 21 | Page 22
Michael Ubaldi, December 23, 2003.
Cute, Google; very cute.
Michael Ubaldi, December 23, 2003.
Any extended reading of Anna's weblog will impart you with the knowledge that rabbits - er, sorry, bunnies - make fine house pets and companions. Bunnies come in economy sizes, and often give domestic cats a run for their money.
But sheepherders? File this one under "must be seen to be believed," and walk away.
Michael Ubaldi, December 19, 2003.
Another Jacquie Lawson animated greeting card. Hey - the secretary sent it around. Labradors in puppy love at Christmastime. Who wouldn't enjoy watching that?
Michael Ubaldi, December 13, 2003.
Celebrate the holidays by, er, battling your way through toy-making robots run dangerously amok to save Santa Claus. You're even rewarded with a moral lesson at the end.
Michael Ubaldi, December 6, 2003.
I have good news and bad news about Berke Breathed's return to the comics page with his strip Opus.
The bad news: it's terrible. Somebody said "witty" and Breathed heard "brittle." They beamed "This is a landmark opportunity" and Breathed came away with "Make it ham-handed flummery." I keep thinking about the Sex Pistols' late-90s "reunification" tour, the first of several nostalgia-reapings: Q. Mr. Lydon, why are you and the other sexagenarian Pistols on the stage again, performing full-throated anthems about fatalist nihilism to fans one-third your age? A. Eh, what's this about rebellion? We're here to nick the last bob out of your back pocket, mate.
Breathed, however, has spent the fourteen years since Bloom County making a killing in the author-illustrator role. Who hasn't bought at least one of his books for a loved one at Christmas? Breathed has all the money he needs, so I confess that I don't understand why he's decided to put out a comic that comes off like bad Outland (his second, less successful strip) with watercolor. Unless he just couldn't keep away from the newspaper. But Opus doesn't seem to have been written for the sake of having something to say.
The comic started on November 23rd. Two strips (it's a Sunday-only) have run. The first barely deserved polite chuckles and the second bordered on hostess-repeatedly-telling-bad-jokes-towards-the-end-of-the-party awkward. There's no subtlety: it's as if you went to see Bob Newhart and he decided to stop and turn to the audience every two or three lines to explain what his parody was about and why it was particularly funny. Even more disturbing is the strange, over-the-top comic violence for both Sundays. While, presumably, Opus is the strip's eponym because through the years of Bloom he became Breathed's favorite, I already have that chilling feeling that the artist-writer-director is no longer attached to his character. Ever watch a movie or play, or read a book where the actors are forever one-dimensional, combination pawns-and-punching-bags? I don't know about you, but Voltaire's Candide went incredibly unread by me when I reached sophist Pangloss' wry, dada resurrection - it was the breaking point of trudging through an arrogant snoot's obsessive torment of wind-up, human mockeries. Seeing self-humor through fiction is okay; watching a writer act like a rotten brat tossing around his toys, only because he can, is not.
They say Voltaire converted on his deathbed. Smart guy, the jackass.
Breathed, in turn, ended last Sunday's strip with Opus, literally torn to shreds by contrived, contemporary vagaries of life that looked like they were lifted from Newsweek's "Periscope." Opus, shattered by overrated-yet-elusive, modern, domestic living. There's a fresh concept, not at all made fatally obsolete by the "happenings" of the last two years - and narrated in a meaningful way, to boot.
Thanks, but no. Really. I'm done. Only one strip in the past twenty years has been good enough to hold the top-half, first page of nearly every major newspaper's Sunday comic section - and that guy knew when to shelve the inkstand.
So, now, the good news: my appreciation for Breathed's brilliant Bloom County has increased tenfold. I'll be buying books for my own. And I've turned to another example of political satire as art: Pogo. Old Pogo. It's a cross between the Bible and a Magic Eight-Ball for tenderhearted burlesque. I swear - I opened one of Walt Kelly's books just now, flipped a couple of pages and bang, protagonist Albert the Alligator sums up Breathed's totally unnecessary, inexplicable addition of a lousy chapter to his career. (Even, odd, even...odd? No!) December 2, 1948:
Read it? Man, how many talents you expect is wrop up in one boy? I only good at writin' - never gives a hoot for readin' what I writes.
Michael Ubaldi, December 5, 2003.
About a half an hour ago, incoming Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace was interviewed by Jim Angle, sitting in for Brit Hume on today's Special Report. Wallace was polite, and the conversation stayed formal; I like his style. Politically moderate, at first glance, but fair. He'll do well in Tony Snow's seat.
Michael Ubaldi, December 4, 2003.
Second, Tony Snow has left Fox News Sunday for Fox Radio, to be replaced by ABC and NBC veteran Chris Wallace. I don't know much about Wallace's style and so can't predict the new direction in which he'll take the show (other than assuming Fox is looking for tougher pol interviews). But after watching an advertisement for the new program several times, now, I figure that any news show playing a sped-up loop of John Bonham's drum intro from "When the Levee Breaks," under a shot of its new host trolling down a studio hallway, has got to be worth my time.
Michael Ubaldi, December 3, 2003.
Since December of 2000, I've had about ten letters to the editor printed in Cleveland's Plain Dealer. The first was in defense of the Supreme Court's decision on Bush versus Gore; most have been about the war on terror or broad foreign policy issues, two were in support of the city school's operating levy, and one was a counter-snark to some lefty's anti-Bush screed. Letters of mine that haven't been published are generally too long or too confrontational - or, like John Derbyshire's rejects, fall into the opaque depths of unpublished nebulae for reasons unknown. I certainly can't find the logic in skipping one like this:
To the Editor
Michael Ubaldi, November 26, 2003.
I took off from work for shopping and cooking. More, perhaps, later. Enjoy the day.
Michael Ubaldi, November 24, 2003.
This holiday week is looking to be a fantastic one. Added to the joy of family is a tight schedule of going places and seeing people, according to the phone conversation I shared with my friend Paul earlier this evening. Ed's flying in. Quiet catch-up tomorrow night, sushi or Asian cuisine Wednesday with a potential confluence of acquaintances afterwards. Thanksgiving as usual Thursday, family Friday, decorations and other exploits over the weekend. Even if half of it doesn't work out, it's always twice as much fun as you expect. It's the good kind of superfriends. Paul called it a "brouhaha," I called it "fundemonium."