Andrew, I officially love the Rewind Game. Let me try.
Major League: Rachel Phelps, the owner of the Cleveland Indians, succeeds brilliantly in her plan to turn the popular team into a failure by transforming the players into a band of ragtag societal misfits.
My Fair Lady: Eliza Doolittle has broken turn-of-the-century English taboo by transcending her class. Henry Higgins turns her into a common flower girl. Order restored.
Patton: Nobody runs from the Nazis faster than the Seventh Army.
Twelve Angry Men: This one stays the same.
Waiting for Godot: Damn it. This one stays the same, too. Twice.
<COMPLETELY FORCED SEGUE>Anyway…</COMPLETELY FORCED SEGUE>
Leo Cullum, the New Yorker cartoonist, died this week. I’ve been reading the New Yorker religiously since I was in high school, and Cullum’s work has long been one of my favorite parts of the magazine.
What I did not know until his death was that, for Cullum, cartooning was a side gig. His day job for thirty years was flying planes for TWA. Cullum’s cartoonist life began because he used his spare time well. While enduring layovers in countless terminals, Cullum would draw. And with this happy hobby, he made readers laugh, including me. I’ve rarely guffawed outright at a New Yorker cartoon, but when I did, it was usually Cullum’s.
Leo Cullum was a special talent working for a special magazine, but he was far from unique. I’m comforted to think that the world offers more opportunities for creativity today than it did when Cullum was first published in the 1970s. It’s already a cliché to point out how the internet has changed our lives, but the change that excites me the most is the opportunity for exposure it offers artists. The aspiring cartoonist need not be accepted by a newspaper syndicate or sell freelance work to magazines, as he did even ten years ago. The internet is a meritocracy in a way the old venues are not, and this change has allowed many tremendous talents to reach new audiences and thrive. There are several web artists whose sites I visit on a weekly basis, but I haven’t read the hardcopy funny papers in years.
I am additionally excited by the way we, the audience, interact as a community with these artists. A friend of mine is a pilot. When I posted news of Cullum’s death on Facebook, she mentioned that she had flown jets with Cullum many times. For years now, I had been two degrees of separation from Leo Cullum and never known it. I could have traded emails with him and told him I loved his work. Now I can’t. As we get better at harnessing the internet’s collaborative capabilities, I think we’ll miss fewer and fewer of those opportunities. We’ll know these creators not just by their art, but by our relationships with them as well. Tennessee Williams once said that to know him was not to love him; if lucky, it meant tolerating him. I would have appreciated the chance to try.
Maybe this blog will be a little of that. All five of us are busy living our lives, but I think it’s nice to find time once a week to create and share. And the rest of the time, we can keep flying.