Tuesday, July 7, 2020

The Sad State Of Academia And "Cancel Culture"


Mostly on this blog I talk about the things I like, particularly entertainment from the past that I admire. Only occasionally do I get political on here, but this is one of those exceptions as I think it's too important not to address.

Within the last couple of weeks a situation happened to a friend of mine that very closely resembled what I too had experienced in my last year or two of teaching college until my resignation in 2015. (Perhaps I'll finally tell that story in the near future). Cristy Maltese is a veteran of Disney feature animation, having most notably painted backgrounds for The Little Mermaid, Beauty And The Beast and several other features through to Home On The Range, for which she was background supervisor. In short, she's got a lot of talent and some pretty impressive credits to her name, so she knows her stuff. Recently, Cristy had also been teaching Visual Development in the Animation program at Laguna College of Art & Design in California. That all came to an end last week after a ridiculous situation that Cristy writes about here. Please read her account first before continuing on to what I have to add to it below.

https://medium.com/@cristymaltese/how-laguna-college-of-art-design-is-dealing-with-its-racism-88505daf4a87

The following is Cristy's original letter to LCAD that she also copied to her teaching colleagues, including Larissa. These segments are from Larissa's Facebook page, so you can also see the snide comments in response from she and her followers:



Now, here is Larissa's initial response to what Cristy had said:



She then followed that up with this letter of rebuttal that was sent to LCAD:

https://www.facebook.com/larissa.marantz/posts/10158563054098234

As well as airing her views about Cristy on Twitter:

https://twitter.com/LarissaMarantz/status/1276886456481398791

As you can see, Larissa went to great pains to paint herself as a “victim” of “racism”, when it was really all much ado about nothing , i.e.  a hashtag that read #AllLivesMatter issued by one of the staff at LCAD. Yet when Cristy tried to show just how benign that statement from this well-meaning staffer was (as he was actually writing in support of BLM), Larissa decided that Cristy must also be publicly outed for not kowtowing as she was supposed to when it came to all things related to the Black Lives Matter movement (a dubious organization hiding behind a title suggesting noble intent). Anyone who has actually read Cristy’s original letter can plainly see how it was only meant to calm things down and is not “racist" in the least, as Larissa falsely claims it to be. Yet Larissa decided to write a spiteful screed in response that deliberately mischaracterized Cristy’s words while also ginning up her followers on both Facebook and Twitter, all of whom added their own vitriolic comments likely without ever having actually read Cristy’s letter in the first place. Just take a read through those comments to see how hateful they are.

The end result was that, after this debacle and the pressure that Larissa and her followers (including other faculty and students) put upon the college through a signed petition, Cristy received a phone call from LCAD letting her know that she would not be called back to teach in the next semester. In short, she was another casualty of today's "Cancel Culture".

The fact is, I know only too well how such radicals operate, having been subjected to much the same vindictive experience a number of years ago myself. As such, I know how to recognize their insidious and dishonest tactics intended to ruin the reputations of others. Teaching can be a very satisfying experience when one has students who are willing to learn, as well as colleagues and administration who are tolerant of different viewpoints. But it can devolve into a nightmare when those who are steeped in “outrage culture” are looking for any opportunity to take phony offence and seek to destroy their target by whatever nefarious means they can. So long as this intolerance of alternative views and practice of “Cancel Culture” continues, our colleges and universities will lose their brightest and their best teachers and professors, and will end up with mediocre people remaining to indoctrinate and cow their students into submission. This does not bode well for the future of higher learning or for society at large.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Happy Birthday, Jim Garner!


As is my annual tradition on The Cartoon Cave, here is this year's new caricature to honour the late, great Jim Garner on his birthday. Though I've drawn him in a number of his film and TV roles over the many years, I must admit that I always prefer to return to his familiar role as Jim Rockford in The Rockford Files. This time, however, I also wanted to showcase Jim's co-star and longtime friend, actor Stuart Margolin, in his semi-regular role as Rockford's former cellmate and professional grifter, Angel Martin, whom Jim still inexplicably remains buddies with despite how often Angel takes advantage of his good nature. For no matter how many times Angel behaves like a despicable little weasel, somehow Jim not only tolerates him but seems to genuinely like and care about the guy. So does the audience, for that matter, and it's all due to Stuart Margolin's ability to imbue the character of Angel with such a manic, yet likeable, personality.

One of the recurring situations that will be familiar to all fans of the series is when Jim and Angel are confronted by gun-wielding heavies and, while Jim attempts to calmly talk their way out of the dilemma, Angel will desperately say anything he thinks the bad guys want to hear in the hopes of saving his own skin, even if it means selling out Jim in the process! Yet somehow Jim's wits (along with a sucker punch or two) manage to eventually get them both out of the scrape and back into Jim's gold Firebird to go burning up the pavement to safety.

I based my caricature on such a scene from the episode, The No Cut Contract, but here is a similar scene (and perhaps the definitive one!) from another episode, Chicken Little Is A Little Chicken. Enjoy!



Friday, March 20, 2020

Happy Birthday, Jerry Reed!


I'm afraid I haven't been too active on this old blog for quite some time now and I do really miss it. Anyway, here's a new caricature of my favourite country singer, that crazy rascal, Jerry Reed, who had quite a successful career on both the country music charts and onscreen alongside his buddy, Burt Reynolds.

I watched a number of Jerry's performances available for viewing on YouTube before settling on this one as my main reference in developing this caricature. Here's Jerry singing a medly of songs along with the great Marty Robbins in this clip from Marty's syndicated TV show back in the late 70s. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Happy Birthday, Jim Garner!


As is my annual tradition here on The Cartoon Cave, I have created a new caricature to honour my favourite actor, James Garner on the anniversary of his birthday. This time around I decided to portray Jim in his role from his lesser known TV series, Nichols, which ran on NBC in the 1971/1972 season. This was a series that I had never seen in its initial run, nor had I ever found it available in syndication since that time, so I was entirely unfamiliar with it until several years ago when it was released on DVD.

Fact is, I've only gotten around to watching the series in the last few months, and am only about a half dozen episodes in, so I certainly make no claims to being an authority on the show. Although a western, it is certainly not a traditional western by any means, as it is set not in the 1800's but rather in 1914, when the automobile was first arriving on the scene. After a stint in the army, Nichols arrives back in the fictional border town of Nichols, Arizona, which was named after his grandfather who founded it. The town is now being run by a rather unsavoury clan called the Ketchams, and after some run-ins with the bullying, corrupt son, Nichols finds himself coerced into reluctantly accepting the position of sheriff by the family matriarch, a sly ol' gal called Ma Ketcham.

By the third episode, Nichols has imported an early motorbike, which he tools around on in lieu of a horse in his pursuit of lawbreakers. When doing so, he often wears the cap and goggles pictured in my caricature in place of his more standard cowboy hat. James Garner had high hopes for Nichols and was disappointed that it didn't catch on. I must admit, from the episodes I've watched thus far, though very good, they just haven't appealed to me in the same way as The Rockford Files had. But I still need to finish watching the series before I can make a final judgment! The series did have the distinction of being an early role for the actress, Margot Kidder, before she would go on to great fame through the Superman films. It also introduced the pairing of Stuart Margolin as a shifty deputy to Garner's sheriff, which would be a chemistry they would enjoy to much greater effect when Margolin became the equally shifty Angel Martin in The Rockford Files.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Happy Birthday, Crystal Gayle!


About a month ago I finally fulfilled a longtime wish - I got to meet one of my favourite female vocalists, Crystal Gayle! It came about quite quickly and unexpectedly, beginning with my scrolling through Facebook and seeing an advertisement for a concert Crystal was scheduled to perform the following week in St. Catherines, Ontario, which is just a 45 minute drive south from my place. I immediately checked the ticket site and found there were still some good seats available, so I made the purchase.

Four years ago I'd drawn a caricature of Crystal Gayle and posted it on her Facebook page, which I wrote about here. In response, I'd heard from a rep named Darrell in her management office telling me how much Crystal liked my picture. I was flattered and offered to send her a bunch of prints of it as a gift. So in planning my trip to see her in concert last month, I used that caricature as a way of hoping to get to see her after the show. Thanks to the same rep I'd dealt with four years ago, I was able to get permission to meet her as I'd hoped!

Crystal Gayle is such a lovely and gracious woman, and she was kind enough to pose for this photo with me and sign my caricature as well. As thanks, I'd brought her another dozen prints that she could give out to family and friends for Christmas. It's always a treat to meet celebrities whose work I've enjoyed all my life, and I'm very grateful to Crystal for her legacy of wonderful music!

Here is my caricature of Crystal Gayle once again:


Saturday, April 28, 2018

Happy Birthday, Ann-Margret!


I just love Ann-Margret, as she seems to epitomize the 1960's girl for me! There is a wonderful kinetic energy about her that just sums up all the fun and excitement I equate with the entertainment of that era. Ironically though, by her own admission, Ann-Margret claims that she really isn't like that off-screen. I remember reading a few years ago in her 1994 autobiography, Ann-Margret - My Story, where she described how she could switch that high energy movie persona on and off, and that she was in reality very shy and quiet due to her proper Swedish upbringing.

But it is that high energy, vivacious on-screen persona that we all love and remember from her major hit movies like Bye Bye Birdie and her pairing with Elvis Presley in Viva Las Vegas. For this caricature, I decided to sketch Ann-Margret from the opening and closing titles from Bye Bye Birdie, in which, over the course of the film, she has evolved from a flighty teenager infatuated with a famous pop music idol, to a (supposedly) more mature young woman who has come to the realization that her loyal high school sweetheart is a better man than the flaky pop star. This YouTube video combines both those beginning and end sequences, and it's quite amazing how Ann-Margret contrasts the evolution of her character through her vocal performance and body language:



Another quality I love about Ann-Margret is her willingness to mug for the camera, pushing her facial expressions in a song performance. This adds a slight eccentricity to her sexiness, which for me only adds to her great appeal. And look at this song sequence from Viva Las Vegas, in which she's preparing lunch for her boyfriend (Elvis), pouting over the fact he's spending more time fixing his race car while neglecting her. This performance, requiring singing (lip synching to her pre-recorded song, more specifically), while performing various perfectly timed physical feats as she travels throughout the houseboat cabin, is achieved in one continuous shot without any camera cuts! Ann-Margret has always been the consummate professional at anything she does, and she remains one of my all-time favourite actresses. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Happy Birthday, Jim Garner!



As you may have noticed, this blog has been pretty inactive for awhile. In fact, it's been inactive for exactly one year, as my last entry was also in celebration of James Garner's birthday!

Well, be that as it may, here is my latest caricature in tribute to my all-time favourite actor. I've always loved Jim's 1969 comedy western, Support Your Local Sheriff, so I thought I'd revisit that film with my cartoon interpretation of the scene where Jim's character, a drifter named Jason McCullough proves himself worthy of accepting the position of sheriff to the town Mayor, played by that wonderful character actor, Harry Morgan. Of course, TV audiences from that time will fondly remember Harry Morgan from two hit series of the era: as Officer Bill Gannon, the partner to Sgt. Joe Friday on Dragnet, as well as his long-running role on M*A*S*H as the gruff yet loveable Colonel Sherman Potter.

In this scene, Jason McCullough attempts to prove to the town officials his marksmanship by tossing a metal washer up in the air and shooting a bullet through the hole in it. Unconvinced that the bullet passed through the hole, Mayor Perkins places a piece of tape across the hole and asks him to do it again. When the washer comes down with a hole clear through the tape, the Mayor realizes he's dealing with a professional gunslinger and appoints Jason the job of town sheriff.

Luckily, that very scene is available to view on YouTube in this video clip. Enjoy!




Friday, April 7, 2017

Happy Birthday, Jim Garner!


As is a yearly tradition here on The Cartoon Cave, April 7th is dedicated to my favourite actor, Jim Garner. Unfortunately, due to time constraints I had to go with a less ambitious illustration than I had originally planned to do. So I fell back on drawing Jim once again as Jim Rockford from The Rockford Files. If Rockford is looking a bit concerned here, it's because I sketched him from one of the episodes, Hotel of Fear where he's having to deal with the shenanigans of Angel Martin, played so brilliantly by Stuart Margolin.

By the way, I'd like to dedicate this year's caricature of Garner to Robert Howe, who runs the wonderful tribute page to Jim on Facebook, The Official James Garner Fan Page. For a number of years, Rob's kept the spotlight shining brightly on Jim Garner and his career, and this is especially appreciated by all of Jim's fans in these years following Jim's passing in July 2014. Here's to you, Rob!

Thursday, April 6, 2017


Well, I heard the sad news today that we lost "Mr. Warmth", the brilliantly acerbic comedian, Don Rickles, at the age of 90. Those of us who came of age in the 60s and 70s will always fondly remember Rickles for his appearances on The Tonight Show and especially on The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts, where he humourously skewered so many of his fellow celebs with his comedic insults. I'm betting that as he walked through those pearly gates, he flipped a quarter to St. Peter and told him, "You're a helluva doorman!"
So long, Rickles - we'll miss ya'!

Here's a great clip from The Tonight Show where Rickles drops in during Johnny Carson's interview with Frank Sinatra:

Monday, March 20, 2017

Happy Birthday, Jerry Reed!



I've written at length about ol' Jerry Reed in this previous post. Back in the 70s and 80s, Jerry was my favourite male country music star, as he was such an entertaining and manic personality in addition to being an incredible guitar talent. I remember reading in an interview with Jerry that he never thought of himself as a great singer, but rather, he felt he was more of a stylist with a brash, mostly humourous approach to his songs. In fact, he compared himself to Phil Harris, the former bandleader and vocalist also known for his brash, breezy humour, and even recorded one of Phil's hit songs, The Darktown Poker Club, although with the slight title change, The Uptown Poker Club, to reflect Jerry's more uptempo beat.

Anytime I need to lift my mood, I put on one of my Jerry Reed CDs or original LP records, and that crazy rascal can always get me smiling. Jerry would have hit the age of 80 today if he were still around, and I sure do miss him. I'd like to dedicate this tribute post to Jerry's daughters, Seidina and Lottie, in the hopes that they know just how much their Dad was loved by his legion of fans.

Also, since the summer of 2017 will mark the 40th anniversary of the crowdpleaser, Smokey and the Bandit, here's Jerry (who played trucker, Cledus "Snowman" Snow) singing his hit song from that film, Eastbound and Down. Pick it, Son!