The Sorensen Monologues

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Archive for 2011

Smart bananas!

bananas with QR code

Apropos of my recent cartoon on the ubiquity of QR codes.


This Week’s Cartoon: “The Free speech Dimension”

My cartoonist colleague Susie Cagle was arrested while reporting on #OccupyOakland last week. I can assure you, she’s not the sort of person to give cops a hard time. She was standing in a doorway with a bunch of observers from the National Lawyers Guild, trying to avoid a skirmish, when the police came up and arrested all of them. So I got to thinking… if protesters aren’t allowed to peacefully assemble on private property, and they risk arrest or physical injury from overzealous police on public property, where are they supposed to go, exactly? An entirely separate plane of existence is all they seem to be left with.

The 1% have lobbyists, superPACs, and Fox News, of course, so they don’t have to bother with the messiness of occupying meatspace to make their case.


This Week’s Cartoon: “The Seven Billionth Human”

This one was at least partly influenced by the “We Are the 99 Percent” Tumblr (h/t to my colleague Matt Bors), where #Occupy movement supporters of all ages are posting photos of themselves holding hand-written notes explaining their circumstances, many of which are dire. Read enough of them, and twin themes emerge of crushing student loans amd medical bills. It’s an almost embarrassing display of how miserably the richest country in the world deals with its citizens’ education and health care. (And yes, I realize that Baby 7B is most likely being born in a so-called developing country, under different but no less-challenging circumstances, but I took some artistic license.)

One meme that really gets my goat these days is the idea that college kids shouldering massive student loans must have partied their way through school, or were too lazy to work to pay their tuition. Have these critics not noticed what a college degree costs now? Do they really think you can pay for higher education on a library book shelver’s income? (That was my college job.)  Sometimes I think these self-satisfied blowhards must have spent the last decade partying, or were simply too lazy to do the work of following basic economic trends.


Cynthia Heimel Comic

Now that the exclusivity period has expired, I can share a biographical comic I drew earlier this year for Bitch Magazine about the great humor writer Cynthia Heimel. Heimel had quite the influence on me while I was in college, and it was a thrill to be able to interview her for the piece.

comic about Cynthia Heimel

(Click for larger image)


This Week’s cartoon: “Unsuit Wall Street”

Posting this to the blog a bit late due to travel. I’ve been meaning to do this cartoon for years, and now happened to be just the right time. It has always bothered me that radical ideas are seen as mainstream  because they are spouted by bald men in suits. Meanwhile, supporters of the New Deal — a 75-year old set of programs — get dismissed as wacky, dirty hippies.

For your extra amusement: while checking out the Hermès website, I came across — I kid you not — a $1,400 leather iPad holder. The 1% need only apply!


This Week’s Cartoon: “Occupy Womb Street”

The “Protect Life Act” was back with a vengeance last week, not that you’d know it given the scant amount of attention it seemed to get. Maybe Republicans are trying to bore us with their never-ending displays of unborn baby-kissing so that we simply stop noticing when they pass bills deeming women’s lives expendable.

Even though the bill would face an Obama veto, House Republicans apparently considered it a higher priority than a jobs bill. But here’s the real kicker: just one week earlier, the House passed H.R. 2681, which exempts cement plants from the Clean Air Act and encourages the burning of industrial waste. Via Earthjustice:

“Does the House of Representatives think that not enough babies are being born with developmental damage due to mercury poisoning?” asked Earthjustice attorney James Pew. “The House essentially just opened up all the doors and windows in homes across the country and urged polluters to blow their toxic emissions right in.

So evidently we should sacrifice a mother to save a fetus, but pumping that fetus full of heavy metals is just dandy. Okay, then! I really wanted to work this point into the cartoon, but there’s only so much inanity you can address in four panels.


This Week’s Cartoon: “Protest Pointers With Eric Cantor”

I wasn’t sure which aspect of Cantor’s comments, made at the Values Voter Summit in Washington DC, was more troubling: the hypocritical dissing of Occupy Wall Street protesters in language that could very well apply to the Tea Party, or the more general pooh-poohing of street protest in the age of Citizens United. When you have a Supreme Court that considers unfettered corporate cash to be “free speech” every bit as much as a protest sign scrawled with a Sharpie on a piece of torn cardboard, ordinary Americans are up against some tough competition in the political expression department. Maybe we could funnel money to fly-by-night front groups like the big boys if only we had decent-paying jobs. Until then, Mr. Cantor, I suppose we’ll just have to be uncivilized.

On a purely artistic note, this was my first time drawing Cantor’s bony skull-face. I knew this day was coming, and I’m pretty happy with how it came out. He and Rudy Giuliani should have a skull-face face-off. Not sure how that would work exactly, but I’d rather not think about it too hard.

For more on Cantor’s ties to the financial industry (among other things, his wife was a VP at Goldman Sachs), check out this WaPo article.


The Simpsons Beat Me!

In the comments to last week’s cartoon blog post, reader Nick furnished this screenshot from e Simpsons episode, which bears an eerie resemblance to the first panel to last week’s strip.

Simpsons screenshot

Fracking Mt. Rushmore

Pretty eerie, huh? I have no memory of that Simpsons gag, even though I probably saw that episode at some point. But to give credit where credit is due, I thought I’d post them both here. The placement of the well is especially mind-blowing, but I would add that that’s where it goes, composition-wise.


Illustration Monday

Here’s my first effort at drawing Rick Perry, for the Dallas Observer.

Rick Perry

It was actually used as part of a fake t-shirt design (“elephant walking” is a Texas A&M term, I have learned):

Dallas Observer Perry shirt

Won’t it be refreshing when we no longer have presidents or presidential candidates whose caricatures lend themselves to wearing cowboy hats and waving sixguns around? Unfortunately, I don’t think that will be anytime soon.


This Week’s Cartoon: Red White and Blue Light Special

This one was informed by this recent NYT article about a lovely new bipartisan plan to reduce the deficit. As though we’re going to make up for the Bush tax cuts and trillion-dollar wars by selling off post offices. It’s a market absolutist’s dream come true.

The attack plan shown on the computer screen in the third panel is taken directly from the war room in “Dr. Strangelove.” At least one reader thought I was depicting a military strike on Canada. It does look a bit like Canada, I have to admit. But fear not, northerly neighbors! That general is still fighting the Cold War. You’re safe.

I drew this cartoon at the home of “Troubletown” cartoonist Lloyd Dangle while on a recent trip to the Bay Area for a comic convention. Lloyd, who recently retired his strip, did not seem to envy me one bit as I burned the candle at both ends to make my deadline.


This Week’s Cartoon: “Killer Kleen”

I found out about the scented-laundry-product study last week thanks to a brief article in The Oregonian. To quote the original press release from the professor who led the research:

Analysis of the captured gases found more than 25 volatile organic compounds, including seven hazardous air pollutants, coming out of the vents. Of those, two chemicals – acetaldehyde and benzene – are classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as carcinogens, for which the agency has established no safe exposure level…Emissions from the top five brands, they estimate, would constitute about 6 percent of automobiles’ acetaldehyde emissions.

Puts “mountain fresh” scent into a whole new perspective, doesn’t it?

Longtime readers know I violently hate leaf blowers. I still can’t believe most people regard these infernal shrieking monsters as a “normal” part of life. There’s always one blasting away in my neighborhood, destroying the peace and quiet. I’ve noticed that the amount of work being done with them is often minimal or downright imperceptible compared to the public disturbance they cause. I swear, my neighbor just enjoys waving his blower around like a metal detector as he strolls through his perfect grass. And yet we can’t necessarily see the crud they spew into the air, or the sound waves radiating out for blocks, so it’s all good, man.

I lived in rural Virginia for several years, where some people still burned their trash. In case you were thinking of escaping to the country to avoid dryer vents and leaf blowers…

For more on the ultra-plush toilet paper issue, Greenpeace has been on the case. I’m not a TP radical, but I’ve always been of the opinion that super-soft rolls run out too quickly.

PS: A Daily Kos commenter linked to an article about these awesome Japanese toilets. I want one.


This Week’s Cartoon: Ron Paul’s Muffin-care

The more I think about Ron Paul’s solution to the plight of the uninsured, the more baffled I become. So, churches are going to come to the rescue? That would seem to leave an awful lot of non-churchgoers to die, but maybe that’s the point. And what about, as the Beatles put it, all the lonely people? These same politicians calling for communities to pitch in together are the ones pushing the myth of the radically-atomized individual. They are the party of American alienation: inhuman-scale corporate bureaucracies, big-box stores, unchecked sprawl, barricaded McMansions, and oversized vehicles with outside-world-avoiding names like “Enclave.” (I generalize, but only slightly.) These are the people who crush attempts at fostering community through urban planning and the creation of public space. For these ideologues to lecture anyone about neighborliness takes a lot of chutzpah.

Not even Ron Paul’s muffin-based health care plan could help his former campaign manager who died with $400,000 in medical bills. He was reportedly ineligible for health insurance due to a pre-existing condition. (For an eloquent statement on this, and general Republican cruelty regarding health care, I recommend this Daily Kos diary).

A note about the Kickstarter joke in the fourth panel: I had a nagging feeling that I’d seen a tweet about Kickstarter-funded health care somewhere, but a rather lengthy search turned up nothing. In any case, I apologize if I’m not the first person to think of that.

Follow Daily Kos Comics at http://comics.dailykos.com


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Jen Sorensen is a nationally-published political cartoonist. She is a 2017 Pulitzer finalist and recipient of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.

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