The more years I get behind my belt (even though I’ve traded in my belts for suspenders), the more I realize I do a lot of things in the course of a day (even though at times it may not seem so). When I returned to school in 2002, I had to work out with the university a schedule that allowed me to go full time, but at a slower rate than the majority of students.
I had to prove there was a reason for that privilege and was able to do so. Aside from having CHF (congestive heart failure) and was just 5 months into recovery of a major heart attack and surgery, along with several other major health issues, they acquiesced. I taught myself to study and the results were amazing (at first). The school is a very good one, and the professors some of the best I’d ever seen anywhere (and I’d been to public extension classes and lectures at Harvard, MIT, Yale and several others. The curriculum was based on several departments from MIT and the Profs were from numerous Ivy League schools.
That surely didn’t mean I was smarter than anyone else, but proved I could be intimidated with the best of them. And I often was; yet I learned what college was really about and how pragmatic lessons applied in the real world; something I never learned in my early college life career at state and community colleges. Until this day I am not sure if it was me, and my own lack of direction and majority, or the ineptness of the professors working in state #50 in education for so many years it was every other state college’s favorite joke. I imagine it was a bit of both. In any case, I was fortunate enough to have intervention with truly educated people who cared, and made sure I didn’t miss out on that opportunity. Like GW Bush who played video games at lunch time while President (really), I watched VHS that I rented from the video shop down the street.
It was not a big chain so went under almost as fast as it opened. Then I got so busy in school; even made A+ in Advanced Matf and aced the final assessment. I only offer that bragging right because anyone who knew me over the years remember I thought it was indeed a day of celebration if I made a “D” or “C” in any kind of math. But it was proof to me what can happen when a professor who understands math-phobia students and, in fact prefer them.
An A+ in the course and a 100 on the final test. Aced that sucker. Yeeehahh. My parents were both deceased, sadly. First thing I wanted to do was run to them and say, “See, I’m not as dumb as everyone thought…the teachers are though”. But it was 40 or so years too late. So I’d show nobody but myself and a few friends that I could make good grades until 2 more surgeries occurred which knocked me out of school, and watch videos in between. Then I stopped school and videos to recover; mostly watching Nickelodeon and the News.
I watched FOX, CNN and MSNBC. Having worked in Washington News, I knew keenly that was the only way to even get close to any kind of accuracy; since all of them stuck to their slant; and generally somewhere in the middle of the 3 slants was “the truth”. I still know that for sure; though everyone argues that their “favorite news is most accurate”. I always shake my head and smile. Very few of them have worked there, nor has a clue how Washington works; and it’s not like I’m an expert. But I do have a clue. So fast forward to 2009, and I met my beloved wife Lee Hiller.
She knew I was missing something but not sure what. We talked a long time and it occurred to her “Movies”. I’d not watched a movie since the VHS video store closed. I asked her if movies looked very different. “Well sure, they’re invisible…they stream”. “Oh like trout. I love to fish” (I was not yet a vegan). “No you’ll see”. We started renting 1-2 films a week and some were wonderful. I was in heaven and hooked. Nearly four years later we still rent films from Netflix and Amazon. Not as many as when we started but sometimes two a week. I still love it. Not every film produces a cartoon in my head. This one happened to. We saw Harry Potter, The Narnia Series, Lord Of The Rings, numerous animated Pixar and Disney films, some romantic comedies and a series of very fun Pirates Of The Caribbean starring Johnny Depp. I feel certain my love for the film was for different reasons than my beloved wife, but that’s fine; what woman doesn’t have a crush on Johnny Depp.
I was much more impressed that Keith Richards was not just alive but full of energy. As my health improved after yet another major heart attack, Lee and I began walking and finally mountain hiking; not just small foothills, these are very steep gorgeous Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas which is 3 sides of our yard. We still hike it regularly. The first animals to greet us out the door are generally a large flock of house sparrows which (have very good taste) and live in the bushes of the gorgeous Arlington Hotel. Of course Johnny Depp’s name in the Pirates series was Jack Sparrow.
I wondered during one hike if sparrows fly south for the winter. Then the fleeting thought got sillier and I wondered if Jack Sparrow flew to the Caribbean for the winter. Then a cartoon was born. That’s the way they happen sometimes and this was one of those times. Before it was complete I explained it to Lee and she had a “Are you okay, Honey?” look on her face which she often does when I explain a cartoon concept I’ve just created I don’t blame her. It must be a bit odd to hear that from a 59 year old man. But an eleven year old man? Sure, a few times it would seem fairly normal but now? I should have gone to medical school like Mom wanted. But if I had I’d never know anything of sparrows, pirates, and the Caribbean.
—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————- Rick London is an author, songwriter, cartoonist and designer. He is probably best known for his offbeat cartoons “Londons Times” and Funny Gifts which have been ranked number one on the net since 2005 by Google and 2008 by Bing. He is married to nature and wildlife photographer Lee Hiller-London. They spend a great deal of time as “Stewards Of Hot Springs National Park”; the 2nd oldest National Park in America.