The Sorensen Monologues

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Archive for 2010

This Week’s Cartoon: Post-Election Punditspew 2010

You know, as upset as I am that the Democrats didn’t go on the offensive enough, I kind of feel sorry for them. Obama bends over backwards to be bipartisan, faces an unbudging wall of opposition that includes some members of his own party, and the Dems still get blamed for not reaching hard enough across the aisle. Meanwhile, Republicans can be as fiery and filibustery as they want to be. To illustrate this double-standard, I thought it would be a good occasion to bring back Mr. Perkins as the flaming conservative. You can see his previous appearances here, here, and here.

I was pleased to see a reader on the Slowpoke Facebook page noticed the spelling of “faeces.” I like to think the Latinized spelling adds to Mr. Perkins’ pomposity, and also classes up the joke a bit. In general, I try to keep scatological humor to a minimum, although I could not resist the idea of projectile-evacuating pigs here.

Hello, Alas Readers!

My friend Barry Deutsch has invited me to be a guest-blogger on his site, “Alas! A Blog.” Those of you reading this there may have already noticed some entries by me showing up already. I’ve known Barry through cartooning for a few years now, and recently moved to his hamlet of Portland, OR. I guess this is how Barry welcomes newcomers: by putting them to work for him! (Just kidding, Barry. I know you are a benevolent overlord.)

A bit about me, which regular SlowpokeBlog readers already know: I draw a weekly comic called “Slowpoke” which appears in the Village Voice and numerous other alternative newspapers around the country. You also may have seen my cartoons in Funny Times or Feminist-wise, I was profiled in the summer issue of Bitch Magazine, and I’ve done work for the Women’s Review of Books and Ms. Magazine.

Lately I’ve been lamenting the fact that people tend to get locked into narrow reading habits online, so I welcome the opportunity to share my work with new readers. And for you SlowpokeBlog regulars, be sure to check out Barry’s new graphic novel Hereville, just out from Abrams.

That Election Thing

I haven’t really been talking about the election much, partly because I’ve been busy with real-life stuff and partly because I don’t have much to say that I haven’t said already about the Tea party. It’s hard to argue policy with people who occupy a fictional universe. As for last night, yes, I’m disheartened. I find it especially ironic that Republicans are winning on economic issues when the biggest threat to the economy is a return to Republican policies. I truly fear for the future of this country.

I’ll add that any discussion of whether Obama should have moved more to the “left” or “right” is setting up a false binary. Obama should have pursued a clear and consistent moral argument. Instead, it seemed like his wires were always crossing; he was sending mixed messages, and he allowed Republicans to claim the traditional position of “the left” — that is to say, the underdog, the representatives of ordinary people. Which they most certainly are not. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, pea-headed pundit class.

[Update: Also, I’d say lockstep Republican obstructionism in Congress, which went largely uncriticized by the media, was highly successful at dampening the enthusiasm of Obama supporters. Let’s not forget that. I watched the Frontline episode “Obama’s Deal” on PBS last night, which really put the ugliness of legislating into perspective.]

This Week’s Cartoon: “Incredible Shrinking Groceries”

I noticed while buying orange juice that the Fred Meyer store brand had a big notice on the carton saying “STILL 64 OUNCES!” I was like, Whoa! Are half-gallons of OJ no longer half-gallons? Sure enough, other brands had gone down to 59 oz. Apparently last winter’s freeze damaged Florida orange crops, making juice more expensive. It will be interesting to see if OJ goes back to true half-gallons in the future, if we have a milder winter.

Yet it’s not just juice — I’ve seen all sorts of products shrink slightly over the past few years. This is a separate issue from super-sizing, which tends to occur with cheap, crappy non-food. Seems like a dollar buys you ever more junk food and ever less real nourishment. It’s a market force in the wrong direction, and I don’t see it going the other way anytime soon.

Farewell, Honorable Namesake

I was saddened yesterday when I learned that JFK’s right-hand man Ted Sorensen had died. We were not related — although I did have a pleasant email exchange with his grandson (or grandnephew?) once. I always thought maybe I’d get to meet Ted someday, and we could rap about our shared Sorensen-ness. Alas, it’s too late. But I did get a kick out of this quote in his NYT obituary:

Mr. Sorensen once said he suspected that the headline on his obituary would read “Theodore Sorenson, Kennedy Speechwriter,” misspelling his name and misjudging his work…

Apparently not even Ted could escape the dreaded “-son” misspelling. Speaking for myself, it has caused countless problems with appointments and reservations. I’m actually surprised when anyone gets it right. But I digress. Here’s to Theodore Sorensen, one of history’s better figures to have shared a name with. (Apologies to all you Nixons out there!)

I.T.C.H. Interview

There’s a nice interview with me up on the International Team of Comic Historians blog. The interviewer did a particularly good job of asking not-the-standard questions.

This Week’s Cartoon: “Clarence Thomas Video Club”

I have always been appalled by the amount of blind hatred directed at Anita Hill merely because she spoke up about being sexually harassed by Clarence Thomas. So I confess to enjoying the outpouring of corroborating evidence in the wake of Ginny Thomas’s ill-fated voicemail to Hill.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I have no problem with Supreme Court justices having a few kinks. They can watch all the porn they want, though I prefer not to think about it. But to give someone who harassed his female subordinates (at the EEOC!) a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land, where he would be responsible for adjudicating on those very issues… well, it’s unconscionable. Also, dude totally perjured himself!

Lots of Serious Pundits (such as the flaccid Richard Cohen of the Post) are saying we should just forget the whole unseemly episode. I guess talking about pubic hair on Coke cans doesn’t seem very dignified. But as far as I’m concerned, you only get dignity when you correct the injustice.

2010 Festival of Cartoon Art Wrap-Up

Here’s a photo of me giving my presentation at Ohio State, taken by “Six Chix” and “Tina’s Groove” cartoonist Rina Piccolo:
Jen Sorensen presenting at Ohio State Festival of Cartoon Art

I like how she captured me in mid-demonic gaze.  The talk went remarkably well, even better than my wildest expectations. The crowd was great, full of cartoonists and lovers of The Noble Art (that’s what I call it, anyway). Honestly, this was the best cartooning event I have ever been to. We cartoonists tend to settle into little communities, usually with other cartoonists in our same genre. Which is enjoyable, of course, but I liked the way this festival brought so many different groups together. I met a bunch of daily strip cartoonists for the first time. Went to dinner with Lynn Johnston of “For Better or For Worse” one night. On another occasion, I had Guinnesses bought for me by Jeff Keane of “The Family Circus.” I never imagined as a child that someday “Jeffy” would be buying me beer. I saw several old friends and made a lot of new ones (I can’t name them all, but Hilary Price of “Rhymes With Orange” is awfully cool), and nearly lost my voice from talking so much. Hey, we’re cartoonists — we’re used to sitting alone all day.

I was pretty lazy about taking pictures, but here’s a not-too-shabby shot of the Jay Kennedy tribute panel:

Jay Kennedy panel at 2010 Festival of Cartoon Art

L-R: Matt Groening, Bill Griffith, Patrick McDonnell, Brendan Burford

Many thanks to the Festival organizers for putting on such an amazing and well-run event.

This Week’s Cartoon: “Snippets of Conversation With Cartoonists at the Festival of Cartoon Art”

This past weekend was the 2010 Festival of Cartoon Art, held every three years at Ohio State University. I was invited to be a speaker this year, which was an incredible honor; hopefully I’ll have time to blog about it soon. My strip was due mere hours after landing back in Seattle, and I hammered this out in a state of utter exhaustion. But I like how it came out. It was probably more than a little inspired by the “Life in Hell” cartoons Matt Groening was reading at his talk the night before, in which he simply illustrates crazy stuff his kids said. At OSU, I engaged in a year’s worth of wacky conversation over a four-day period. These snippets are just the ones that came to mind first. Pictured in the cartoon are: Rina Piccolo, Dan Piraro, Sean Parkes, and… well, maybe I’ll hold off in revealing the last cartoonist, lest he not want that to be Google-able forever.

This Week’s Cartoon: “Search Engine Wars”

More often than not, I am impressed by whatever tweaks Google makes to its products. The recently- improved image search that expands the photos as you roll over them is very cool. I am not a fan, however, of Google Instant. The ever-shifting search results are distracting, introducing a sense of clutter to the minimalist aesthetic that helped make Google so popular. Thankfully, you can turn it off. And I have. But the whole episode made me wonder: what kind of world do we live in where the normally-fast Google is not fast enough? Do we really need those few seconds Google Instant claims it is saving us? And what will we do with them, aside from waste more time on the internet?

As a slowpoke, I find society’s efforts to push the upper bound on speed to be more a sign of sickness than anything. Increased worker productivity has won workers no higher wages, but more stress. At a certain point, you have to wonder: what’s the point? Aside from rushing to an early grave?

This Week’s Cartoon: “The Swing Voter Memory Hole”

It wasn’t very long ago that Republican candidates were shy about trumpeting their party affiliation. You had to look carefully at the fine print on their mailers to figure it out, if it was there at all. The Bush administration had pretty much flushed America down the cosmic toilet, and most people knew it. But in a nation that treats history as something born anew with every 24-hour cable news cycle, “Republican” is apparently some fresh, untried brand now, an apple pie-scented alternative to the horrors of the present. At least, that’s how swing voters seem to view things.

I’m not saying Obama has been great on the economy. Clearly he needed to be more aggressive about stimulus and job creation. But the people making that politically impracticable are Republicans and conservative Democrats. And administration advisers too timid to start a fight.

(Afterthought: I was just doing my 2009 taxes — filed for an extension, natch! — and got an $800 tax break I wasn’t expecting. Part of the stimulus package, and a big help. So that’s something.)

This Week’s Cartoon: “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in the Senate”

In an unsurprising burst of ineffectiveness, the Senate failed to break a conservative filibuster against ending the ban on gays in the military. The Senator in the last panel is loosely modeled on Republican Susan Collins of Maine, who provided the death blow. Collins said she supported a repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” but didn’t like the way the Dems were going about it. As in, they were actually trying to pass something. We all know that is forbidden, of course.

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Jen Sorensen is a cartoonist seen on Daily Kos, The Nib, and in magazines and
newspapers throughout the US. 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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