mobile phone

The Dropped Call of Cthulhu

Detail of 'Bug Martini' by Adam Huber, 17 August 2015.This public service announcement is brought to you by Adam Huber.

There are, of course, so many things we might say.

Not that any of them are good or useful.

Do we go with the cigarette joke, or the … er … yeah, you know, never mind.


Huber, Adam. “This is Your Brain on Cthulhu”. Bug Martini. 17 August 2015.

The Girl with the Clown’s Face

Detail of 'Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal' by Zach Weiner, 13 July 2015.Something about implications goes here.

When I was young, a distant relative explained why her three year-old daughter didn’t like Sesame Street―clowns frightened the child. It was the first time I’d ever heard of such a thing, but in later years a joke would emerge; it turns out the young lady was hardly alone in her fear of clowns.

This is not quite the same thing.

Still, though, Zach Weiner’s latest is actually kind of frightening.

Well, you know. If you stop and think about it.

How ’bout this? Don’t think about it.


Weiner, Zach. “Pix”. Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. 13 July 2015.

The Shadow Over Mary

Detail of 'Mary Death' by Matt Tarpley, 5 June 2015.

First world problems.

What? What else need we say?Detail of 'Mary Death' by Matt Tarpley, 7 October 2014.

C’mon. It’s Mary. It’s always the end of the world when Death is your best friend.

And, besides, it’s Matt Tarpley, whose sense of tragedy is infamous.


Tarpley, Matt. “Despair”. Mary Death. 5 June 2015.

—————. “Dead Meat”. Mary Death. 7 October 2014.

Automated Vengeance

Detail of 'Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal', by Zach Weiner, 20 November 2014.

Coincidence. Synchronicity. I don’t know, God’s will? Hell, why not get mystical, right?

Or is it just that we happened to see the same article as Zach Weiner?

Which would bring us back to coincidence. But, hey, we don’t know.

Question for an interview that will never happen: From conception to posting, about how long does it take you to produce a cartoon? Or is that already answered in a podcast?


Weiner, Zach. Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. 20 November 2014.

Something About Happiness Having Nothing to Do with a Warm Gun

Detail of cover art for Golden Earring's 'Cut' Lp.

A brief note on narrative, and how details can change the context.

Alexis Krell of The News Tribune posted this lede today:

A man was shot Tuesday in Federal Way while trying sell a phone, police said.

On the surface, it sounds like a routine, run-of-the-mill, idiots-all-around neighborhood crime. According to police spokesperson Cathy Schrock, the buyers stole the phone, the seller chased them down, and in the resulting struggle someone shot the seller.

And some might pause here to wonder why one would chase multiple criminals; it didn’t work for a boxing champ, and Federal Way is a town with few boxing champs.

Maybe if one was, say, a Triwizard Champion, or some such.

It turns out there is a reason, though, one might wonder why one would chase multiple criminals, getting shot in the process, for a phone. After all, few secondhand phones transfered in street deals are worth much money.

But guns are; hence the update as more accurate facts came in:

Police said it appears the man was selling a gun, not a phone, and that he was shot with the gun he was selling, Schrock said. The victim is about 21 years old.

The victimized gun trader will live. At least there is that.


Krell, Alexis. “Police: Man shot with gun while trying to sell it in Federal Way”. The News Tribune. 18 November 2014.

A Cheeky Chickie Champloo

Detail of 'Ampersand', by Barry Deutsch, 9 October 2014.  (Remix November, 2014.)The thing about “prevention” advocacy is that it can actually empower what it seeks to “prevent”. Consider all the things we deign to inform women about rape; there comes a point when telling women what they should and shouldn’t do becomes a quality of life issue. To wit, what about your clothes? When you go out on the town, wear clothes and shoes suitable for running, and you know, get a better haircut. At some point it sounds like this infintite prevention advocacy comes down to: “Plan your life around being sexually assaulted.” This would seem to invoke some sort of quality of life issue. Human rights. Who the hell other than women do we expect to live in perpetual fear?

No, really. Think about it. A year and a half ago, amid a string of sexual assaults and attempted abductions, Anna Minard of The Stranger (Seattle’s Only Newspaper) threw down the obvious gauntlet:

So, to review: Seattleites—and let’s be honest, we’re talking mostly to women here—as you go about your business, constantly scan your surroundings, memorizing detailed physical descriptions of people you encounter. Always know, down to the exact block, where you are and where the nearest security guard is and the hours of nearby businesses. Wear running shoes and loose, appropriate clothing—aka clothing appropriate for running away in. Bring your cell phone, but don’t use it to listen to music or text. And as you walk through the city like a human danger-scanner, walk confidently and keep your face neutral. You’re “in charge”!The Stranger


I’m sure the police department is working to solve these crimes. I’m sure they just want to remind people that we live in a city and crime is real and it can happen to you. But this is exactly the kind of shit that we are talking about when we talk about women being raised in a culture of fear and conditioned to certain behaviors and expectations—like the expectation that we’re the ducks in a giant game of Duck Hunt™ ....

.... Here, as a refresher, are the best rape prevention tips I’ve ever read:

8. Use the Buddy System! If it is inconvenient for you to stop yourself from raping women, ask a trusted friend to accompany you at all times.

That is the conversation I would like to see happening at the Seattle Police Department, and not just among women on women’s blogs. Not a convoluted and ever-growing list of how to prevent your own rape by wearing the right non-rapey hairstyle or crossing the street in the most anti-rape fashion or sleeping in past the raping hour.

That is not helping women and, obviously, it is not ending rape.

We might mention this particular iteration for any number of reasons, suffice to say that there do exist in this world social circles where the 2013 events in Seattle triggered a long-running dispute between associates, a microcosmic reiteration of a genuinely ridiculous debate.


FOX News Pretending to Report News

Always be wary of FOX News.

Okay, right. But, still, you know … sometimes people need reminding. That is, sure, the crazy uncle who wrecks every holiday dinner with his newsletter nitwitting is a lost cause, but the younger relatives might need the occasional reminder.

So, Maggie Thurber aptly demonstrates what FOX News is all about with a spectacular lede:

Using a cell phone in a school or construction zone may soon be illegal in Ohio.

Oh, dear Christ, what are those sneaky liberals doing in Ohio?

A bill introduced by Rep. Rex Damschroder, R-Fremont, would prohibit the use of any electronic wireless device when in a construction zone during actual work hours.

Right. First point: A Republican bill.

But neither is this the problem. Go back and read those two sentences, which also constitute two paragraphs from the article.

The third paragraph is no better.

It would also make it illegal to use such devices in a school zone during hours when children are present — and that includes when they are at recess, not just during opening and closing times.

No, seriously, does nothing seem amiss, here?

It is, however, the fourth paragraph that finally starts leaning back toward reality:

"Ex-Lucas County Commissioner Maggie Thurber helped Thomas Noe launder $45,000 to George Bush’s campaign and ended up with a slap on the wrist $1000 fine." (Cleveland Challenger, 22 February 2013)House Bill 637 also makes the illegal use of cell phones for texting – writing, sending and reading – a primary offense for adults. Currently, drivers 18 years and older can only be cited for such infractions if it’s in conjunction with another traffic violation.

A-ha! Did you catch that? Actually, we hope so, since it isn’t especially clever. Thurber goes on to point out that the apparent problem with the law as it is in Ohio has something to do with the police not writing enough tickets. And while that is its own question, to be certain, it is worth noting that only two sentences make any mention of driving at all, and at no point does Thurber actually come right out and say, “Using a cell phone while driving in a school or construction zone may soon be illegal in Ohio.”

And, you know, for many of us, that sort of thing might seem obvious. But we all have that person in our lives who seems to adore tinfoil, who might listen to Michele Bachmann, cornered, explaining that if only someone had provided this birth certificate before, then Obama could have saved us the trouble of the racist Birther conspiracy, and all the while not seeming to recognize that it was the actual document we had the whole time. And we all know the potsherds ran around reciting that one, too.

And it should also be noted that the FOX News article is nothing more than an advocacy tease; you can find out the real details if only you click through to the fanatical right-wing political website.

So, you know, print and save that article for Uncle Bumbles, next time he comes around, and see how quickly he bites.

Meanwhile, as a point of fair disclosure, we at This Is are currently scratching our heads after a friend inquired about some bizarre question of the federal government trying to force elementary school children in a rural Washington state county to use transgender bathrooms. And we’re always dubious of such stories when we hear them, because nobody can actually tell us what’s going on. So apparently this is happening, because someone said that someone else told someone, and then somebody asked us to find the federal regulation involved. Because, you know, reading a widely-published judicial opinion currently circulating in the news is no different from digging through the various regulations within any given cabinet department like Education or Labor.

Still, though, that is what people like Thurber, a disgraced former county commissioner whose reputation crumbled in a campaign financing scandal, are banking on, that potential allies won’t read the detail, and potential opponents just can’t be bothered with such tripe.

And while we know FOX News is excrement, it sometimes behooves us to tread the plopped pastures and take a look at just how such crap is spread.


Thurber, Maggie. “Proposed Ohio cell phone law raises many questions”. FOX News. 20 October 2014.