Life Spent Recuperating

Let’s be silly for a moment or two.

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

And I quote to the best of my knowledge, “While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping.”

Now I intensely quote, “His eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming.”

The following is a bulleted paragraph list of three popular and very blind mice:

  • Rufus, the oldest and wisest, makes cheese sculptures at the Mouse Louvre
  • Dufus, who prefers to spell his name d-o-o-f-u-s and refers to himself as Doof, calls himself a “doof machine” and prefers to be in a constant state of “Doof” because “Doof is Life, baby … yeah!”

And

  • Gufus, whom most everyone calls Goofy (but we all know Goofy is a dog … right?), writes love poems in the sand at Myrtle Beach (which does not, as far as I know, grow myrtle beech trees)

The above silliness was brought to you by boredom.

I’m bored because I’m inactive. I’m inactive because I’m recuperating from an illness.

Recuperating may be boring, but it’s also nice.

Sometimes we need to recuperate from all the ills life throws at us. Sometimes we need to call “Time out” and go sit it out before we can go back into the game … if we can still play.

The past week I had to take a time out and recuperate from a complication while wearing the Covid-19 mask (and other facemasks) at my 9-to-5, 40-hour-week job. I have been breathing in too much of my exhale, which contains mostly carbon dioxide, along with methanol, isoprene, acetone, ethanol, ketones, and other alcohols and hydrocarbons. Rebreathing our exhale is not healthy, and doing so has left me in a near asthmatic state. I recuperate (able to breathe regularly again) after I punch out for the day and remove my mask. But due to my age (63), I recuperate at a slower rate than if I were younger.

When anyone rebreathes air, they are at risk for carbon dioxide intoxication or, in extreme cases, carbon dioxide poisoning. Hypercapnia or hypercarbia are names for a condition when a person has an excess of carbon dioxide concentration in the blood. Symptoms of carbon dioxide toxicity include high blood pressure, flushed skin, headache, and twitching muscles, all of which I have experienced while wearing the mask for periods lasting longer than two hours. I have also experienced irregular heartbeat.

So now, after Day #5, I’m off work until (hopefully) Monday, sucking down various medicines, and spending too much time on the Internet.

Will wearing the mask knock me down again? Probably. But I plan to take better care of my health by often removing my mask in safer environments and breathing properly to clear my lungs. It’s my health, after all.

Conroy’s Corner from the Archives [comic strip]

I began drawing comic strips when I was in high school. I mentioned The Klutz in my last post. I featured it in my notebooks, notes to friends, and on chalkboards when teachers weren’t around. The Burgess Bros. came next and became a common feature on many unattended chalkboards at my school. Fifi was a French girl from Montreal, Canada who had a passion for watching the Expos play baseball on TV. Her boyfriend, Carl Burgess, was a Navy recruiter stationed in a city I called Big City. (Hey, I was 15.) His brother was a brainiac inventor whose inventions caused crazy adventures that took place in many of my school notebooks.

Super Cluck was my rendition of Super Chicken, a feature on the TV cartoon, George of the Jungle. He was also a klutzy version of Big Bird from TVs Sesame Street, and a member of the Harkem Glove Trompers basketball team, though he rarely played because he hated wearing gloves and was so busy fighting crime. He used to wear a cape but almost hanged himself when he leapt from a rooftop, causing the bad guy (Evil McWeasel) to get away.

The Bullpen was a mature comic strip about a baseball farm team’s group of pitchers that tended to get into trouble with their coach and manager. Think Bad News Bears for grownups crossed with Catch 22 and M*A*S*H without the military locale. Or, imagine all your pitchers behaving like Ty Cobb or the way Babe Ruth did when he was out of the news public’s eye. Even Coach, who was like a father to the guys in the bullpen, had a lot of Pete Rose in him.

The Adventures of Moses featured a high school track star named Moses who was a health nut and an all-American clean-cut kid and his nemesis Flash’t (short for Flash Itt, his name) who was better than Moses was but didn’t take care of himself, like smoking a cigarette and pounding down a beer for warmups before running a track event.

After high school and six years later, I drew Louie and Bruce (a comic strip featured in my last post). I had finished a six-year enlistment in the Navy and had the means to attend college. Conroy’s Corner was born from that venture.

The early strips were 3-panel gags for a monthly newsletter addressed to the “adult students”—a title the college gave students who weren’t fresh out of high school and a way for college officials to segregate them from school activities. I drew many strips about the injustices at that school and the “us and them” attitude there. Most students ignored my protests. I tamed the later strips and eventually only featured sports gags.

The main character, Bruce Conroy, was really Bruce from Louie and Bruce in disguise.

I based the next strip on a true event.

After I graduated college with a BA in art, a local newspaper printed these strips and more. Some of them, yellowed by age, are still on refrigerator doors. I still get a kick when people ask, “Are you the person who drew Louie and Bruce and Conroy’s Corner? Those comics made me laugh.”

And I always grin. It’s fun to laugh. We need to do it more often.

Louie and Bruce from the Archives [comic strip]

This archive features a tiny collection of my favorite Louie and Bruce comic strips that I drew many years ago.

I began drawing comic strips when I was in high school, waaay back in the 1970s when dinosaurs still roamed the planet. The first serious strip I drew for teachers and classmates was The Klutz, featuring an unfortunate character named Howard Klutz who was prone to all sorts of mishaps. I drew many comic strips in school, filling pages of my notebooks with humor when I should have been taking notes for classes.

A decade later, another character became my klutz in a strip I drew for my coworkers, a strip called Louie and Bruce.

"Panel 1"

Louie and Bruce are friends who work at a sawmill. Louie is the klutz and Bruce is the ballcap-wearing foreman of the mill. I began drawing the strip in a large format that usually featured nine or ten panels. Below is the very first Louie and Bruce comic strip. The year was 1981.

"Louie & Bruce, August 1981"

Over time, I used the sawmill setting less and concentrated on life outside the mill. Below is the last large format strip where I used the sawmill setting. The guy talking to Bruce is Frank, a coworker and Bruce’s best friend.

"Louie and Bruce, May 1982"

Frank became a favorite player. At times, my strip was Louie and Frank instead of Louie and Bruce. Frank was more philosophical than the others and I would have him observing the world around him and give him a spot to make statements on those observations. This allowed me to run his own strip.

Frank - Snowball

Frank - Critic

I drew other characters for the strip, but Louie, Bruce and Frank were the stars.

Louie and Bruce Cast

Although I never became a syndicated cartoonist, a local newspaper ran my strip when I joined a writing club and the paper’s editor was a member. She liked my work and ran many of my strips before the newspaper succumbed to financial problems and was sold to a corporation that ran only syndicated strips.

Drawing comic strips allowed me to put on plays between the characters I created. Those shows were often silly, sometimes serious with a one-two-punch gag thrown in, sublime at times, and even nonsensical when Louie was at the helm. But they were always humorous. If they didn’t make me laugh, they never made publication. No other form of storytelling allowed me as much fun and freedom within the realm of a made-up world. Louie and Bruce was the result of that fun and freedom—an escape I loved from beginning to end.

Big [poetry]

You’re so big—
the internet made you huge

We decipher your candy whining at your blog every day—
we’re some of your best teased hairfriends at your facebook

We know your TV faves
movie faves
favorite faves
and all your playlists

You like short shorts, bikini jeans, and certain days wrapped in Jamawar

You love Mickey D’s sweet tea
smoking weed
teen romances
mean mosh dances, crushes, slushes, fireworks, and ferris wheels

We love that you’re an internet cannibal
snapping off selfies in front of your cathedral mirrors
singing how you’re so famous and how we’re so far far far up your anus—
and we are
because you’re so big … so huge … so tremendous
and delicious
we eat you up 24/7—
Yum!

We love that you love sleeping in after late nights and breakdowns
and that you wear Lola & Coco by La Senza and go on long car rides in 3D…
or something like that!

The internet made your Ts-&-A tremendously huge
so if you break yo boo-tay
your posse is big enough to put it all together
so you can do it again tomorrow for your paparazzi
and us

Sunday Smiles [jokes]

With February ending tomorrow, I look forward to sunnier days to end my winter blues.

I find amusing things to laugh at when Old Man Winter scares away the sun and keeps life dark and cold. Here are three favorite funny pieces I found during the winter that made me smile, chuckle, and even belly laugh.

* * *

An odd phenomenon happens a lot at a store I work at. I call it the Retailers’ Law of Aggravation: As soon as you find a product you really like, the store will stop selling it.

* * *

An octogenarian couple toddled into the local McDonald’s and ordered a Happy Meal. The wife carefully cut the hamburger in two and began to eat half. The husband respectfully sat and watched. The eating didn’t progress quickly, and soon the other customers near the couple’s table noticed the old man without any food, watching the woman eat. One helpful person offered to buy the man another meal. The offer was rejected with the explanation, “We share everything.” Eventually, another couple could stand it no longer and made the same offer. They received the same rejection: “No thank you, we share everything.” And so, the wife ate and the old man watched for quite a while. Finally, one bystander could no longer stand it and quizzed the man, “Why aren’t you eating? What are you waiting for?” To which the old man replied, “The teeth.”

* * *

Many have probably seen these in a book called Disorder in the American Courts, of things people actually said in court, recorded verbatim and published by court reporters who had the torment of staying calm while these exchanges between attorneys and witnesses took place.

ATTORNEY: What is your date of birth?
WITNESS: July 18th.
ATTORNEY: What year?
WITNESS: Every year.

ATTORNEY: How old is your son, the one living with you?
WITNESS: Thirty-eight or thirty-five, I can’t remember which.
ATTORNEY: How long has he lived with you?
WITNESS: Forty-five years.

ATTORNEY: This myasthenia gravis, does it affect your memory at all?
WITNESS: Yes.
ATTORNEY: And in what ways does it affect your memory?
WITNESS: I forget.
ATTORNEY: You forget? Can you give us an example of something you forgot?

ATTORNEY: Now doctor, isn’t it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn’t know about it until the next morning?
WITNESS: Did you actually pass the bar exam?

ATTORNEY: She had three children, right?
WITNESS: Yes.
ATTORNEY: How many were boys?
WITNESS: None.
ATTORNEY: Were there any girls?

ATTORNEY: How was your first marriage terminated?
WITNESS: By death.
ATTORNEY: And by whose death was it terminated?

ATTORNEY: Doctor, how many of your autopsies have you performed on dead people?
WITNESS: All my autopsies are performed on dead people.
ATTORNEY: Do you recall the time that you examined the body?
WITNESS: The autopsy started around 8:30 p.m.
ATTORNEY: And Mr. Denton was dead at the time?
WITNESS: No, he was sitting on the table wondering why I was doing an autopsy on him!

ATTORNEY: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
WITNESS: No.
ATTORNEY: Did you check for blood pressure?
WITNESS: No.
ATTORNEY: Did you check for breathing?
WITNESS: No.
ATTORNEY: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?
WITNESS: No.
ATTORNEY: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
WITNESS: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
ATTORNEY: But could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless?
WITNESS: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law.

Owned [jokes]

We, the marketing corporations of the world, would like to ease some of your financial burdens as we force you to shop our stores out of commercial necessity.

The following list should ease some of those buying burdens.

The key is timing your purchases:

  • September—The best deals on school clothes are at the end of the month. Hold off until then and you’ll save big, unless we decide to keep prices up.
  • October—This is the month to do your Christmas shopping. Do your Christmas shopping now, damn it!
  • November—Wool and fur clothes, including coats and suits come down significantly this month. We promise to keep PETA at bay with our artificial attire to make your shopping experience as pleasant as possible.
  • December—This is a good time to buy or lease a new car. Just remember to keep your credit score in good standing. Flaggers will be flogged on the spot.
  • January—Traditional after Christmas and New Year bargains include suits, linens (white sale), appliances, and furniture. But only on imported merchandise, so buy up that crap so we don’t have to freight it back!
  • February—The season of love brings with it big reductions on china, glass, silver, mattresses, and bedding. You know you don’t want to disappoint your lover. Ahem! I said YOU DON’T WANT TO DISAPPOINT YOUR LOVER!
  • March—Watch for special preseason promotions for spring clothing. We’ll do our best to make sure you don’t miss them.
  • April—Sales begin again after the Easter holiday, especially on clothing. Buying socks and underwear is almost a steal. But don’t steal. I mean it!
  • May—Spring cleaning means specials on household cleaning products. Purchase $100 or more and we’ll split the cost of your ambulance trip to the ER.
  • June—Shop for furniture. Semiannual inventory is on the way in. Old items must go. Right now!
  • July—Sportswear, sporting equipment, and garden tools and supplies take noticeable dips. Unless we find it necessary to increase prices. You know we can.
  • August—lf you are in the market for a car, August is clearance time on current models, especially the ones cluttering the lots. Also: Look for deals on patio furniture, lawn mowers, yard tools and camping gear. You’ll want to clutter up your garage and basement quickly before those prices skyrocket again.

Louie and Bruce – Before Cell Phones

1982 was a time before cell phones as we know them now. Most of us were unable to afford the monstrosities at our local electronics store, so we settled for talking to friends on our CB radio in the car or waiting until we got home to use the house phone for the long distance calls. It was fairly common to see someone rushing home for an expectant important call, and it was this behavior I based the following Louie & Bruce cartoon.

"Phone Calls"

Louie and Bruce – Basketball Blues

Based on a true event, this is a been-there-done-that comic strip from my high school days and drawn later (1983), and features Bruce from my Louie and Bruce comic. Here I’ve exaggerated Bruce’s short height with the tall basketball players. There were always those taller, faster, more athletic kids at school who hogged the ball while kids less fortunate waited their chance to “shoot some hoops.” When Bruce gets his chance, the ball has no life left in it. Lifeless is a good description of the basketballs at my school from 1969 to 1975.

Louie and Bruce – From the Sawmill

Retro Louie & Bruce from May 1982. Here, Frank and Bruce are inside the sawmill. We see them with Bruce’s old radio. Notice the cassette player. Mine was older; it had 8-track.

3 Silly Louie and Bruce Panels

I recently discovered the following Louie and Bruce strips in storage. They were drawn in June 1982 and published five years later in a local newspaper, then put away as I went on to do other things. Each strip was drawn in blue pencil on a drawing panel, then inked with quills and brushes and India ink. I can still smell the distinctive eye-watering odor of that ink when I hold a panel close to my nose.

Panel 1

I can’t take full credit for this joke. It was a running gag at the sawmill where my Louie and Bruce comic strip was born.

Panel 2

Leroy and his talking dog Ernie were occasional characters in my Louie and Bruce comics. Here, they tell a gag every farm kid knows by heart.

Panel 3

Old, but still able to make me chuckle; this is one of my favorite baseball gags.

Louie and Bruce – Cartooning Years Ago

The first Louie and Bruce comic I drew in 1981. I found it inside a box and among drawings and papers from years ago, back when all I wanted to do was be a professional cartoonist. But then I discovered the power of painting soon afterwards and I zoomed off in another direction.