The Story Behind Salad Bar Exam Cartoon & Gifts by Londons Times Cartoons

salad bar

When I launched LTCartoons.com in 1997, everything we did was in black and white. We felt newspapers would “make or break us”, and for many years that was true in cartooning. We heard every excuse from “Your cartoons simply are not family-oriented enough” to “Nobody really would understand them…they’re kind of ‘out there’.” Yada yada. I worked with an artist named Richard Larson (no relation to Gary).  Newspapers just wouldn’t touch us. We didn’t take it personally. On any given day there were approximately 100,000 cartoons competing with us (and still are).

On the other hand we were getting amazingly positive feedback from families (even kids of all ages), and on the Internet within a year they were relatively well-known. We finally decided to do color and a t-shirt manufacturer in San Diego paid us $10,000 for the rights to 12 images (by then we were doing color); convinced newspapers were not going to be our bread and butter.

Peanuts creator Charles “Sparky” Schulz advised me that if I was ever to make any money in cartooning, it would not be from newspapers; they merely paid peanuts (no pun intended). He said the real money was in licensed goods, such as Tshirts, mugs, lunch boxes etc.  So that became my focus.  When someone finally created digital design a few years after I launched the cartoon, I spent 15 hours a day learning how to design products digitally.  I have designed about 160.000 products with my mouse and keyboard.  Though it’s not rocket science, it does take a few minor skills to learn. And I’m grateful for those who helped me along with learning that process.

Still curious why so much rejection from newspapers, and downright hostile rejection letters from literary agents.  Though most of those rejection letters were “form letters”, a few added personal comments.  One of my favorite was, “That’s all I need is another failed cartoonist”.  (That came from one of New York’s biggest literary agents who has been defunct for about 8 years). 🙂

I started researching a bit, and talked to some mentors (other cartoonists who had made it) only to discover newspapers no longer were the holy grail.  The Internet, somehow was going to be the place to showcase ones work.  One simply had to be creative and figure out a way to do so (attractively) and market them properly.

I returned to school at age 47 to learn Internet Technology and Business. This helped a great deal; though most of what I learned is now outdated.  However many of the business principles remain the same and I believe always will.

I started selling signed limited edition prints on Ebay and at the time they did fairly well.  I noticed some of my most popular ones had to do with either a particular animal (such as dogs, cats, mice, chipmunks, snakes, etc). Everybody had a favorite.

Also professions were popular, and, believe it or not, nobody liked lawyer jokes (as much as lawyers).  Well most of them anyway.  They loved to laugh at themselves and many bought their fair share of legal-related cartoons.

So I decided to “outdo” myself with one called “Salad Bar Exam” which is now 14 years old. It remains our trademark cartoon and people seem to like it no matter what their profession (or lack therof).  Also many vegans and vegetarians like it too, as well as dieters who love restaurants with salad bars.  And of course just regular people like you and me who like to laugh.

Many collect my licensed items of “Salad Bar Exam” since they tend to go up in value.  They enjoy items such as Tshirts, mugs, caps, eco-friendly bags, aprons, etc.

To view entire Salad Bar Exam line of Collectibles…
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Shopping The Way Mom Taught Me To….by Rick London

Caveat: Please forgive me for dropping graphics of some of my brand items in this article.  I couldn’t help myself as I love shameless self-promotion 🙂   The article has important info in it, however, so bear with me please & enjoy!  

I remember (sort of), loving to go shopping with my mom.  She taught me about “outfits” rather than buying “just Levi Jeans”.  I was relieved upon discovery that “an outfit”, could be made from Levis because I didn’t wear much else in the way of pants. 

zazzle watch twittermoms 

Those lessons would serve me well in the “80s Yuppie Movement” while living and working in Washington, D.C. where what one wore was nearly as important as his/her pedigree and/or education.  Am so glad those days are over (at least for me).   I believe my wife Lee agrees.  It was a neverending frenetic “keeping up with the Jones’” and no matter how much one had, and at one point I had a lot, it was never enough.  That became another powerful lesson that would serve me turning into a senior. 

I still see numerous peers playing that “frenetic game” in which money rules over all. Please don’t get me wrong. I like money and I like making it.  It is simply not at the top of the list; not even close; unless I’m making it doing exactly what I love doing.  So far so good.

Which brings me back to shopping. 

zazzle squid zone tee 

As a college student in the early 70s in Dallas, I took any kind of jobs offered to me such as waiting tables, managing a walk-in movie theater,  working in a health food store, etc.  Though they were all very different jobs, they all involved dealing with the public.

Fast forward not too many years and the dotcom boom was beginning.  Included in that boom was retail sales.  Retail was not at the top of my list as “fun ways to make a living”, but humor did.  So did design, and I attended retail school in Dallas while going to an accredited college across town. I wanted to “learn it all.

zazzle print kiwi 

I didn’t become so lucky, but every lesson, whether “good” or “bad”, served me in later life.  At age 49, I returned to college online, and learned a fascinating topic.  Retail. 

Yes, the very same retail I’d learned while “finding my way” in early life.  But this retail required digital design of my own line of products, and learning to deal with manufacturers.  I found I was not working as much with the public, except on social media which I learned to like, but also taking that information from interaction with media followers to become “the seed” if you will of image designs that went onto the products.  Wow.  Sounds high-tech and different.  Well, it actually is today, but my latter-life education has taught me that if asked, even online, most people will tell you what they like, or don’t like, and most people in this day and time prefer to shop from the comfort of their own home.

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They have, and I have, nothing against malls or Main St. shops, but one can’t help but be reminded of business classes.

When ordering from an online boutique shop (or shops) with good reputations one is more likely to get a unique product not found in malls and downtown shops.  We all love unique.  None of us like being at a party where someone is wearing our same clothing or has the same gift we’re describing. 

zazzle pillows dolphin 

More importantly to many, economics plays a major role in any buying in today’s marketplace.  Common sense tells us that the lower the overhead, generally the better the price.  That is true in both my wife Lee Hiller’s shops and my own. 

But what about employees.    We indeed create a fair amount of jobs, but they are contractors who work for the organizations that make our products.  They get paid the same amount no matter how many products we design.  Again, cost stays down.

I don’t say this just about our online shops, but of nearly everyone’s.

If a person is looking for unique quality affordable designer products, at the cost (or lower) than non-designer products as found in a mall or shop (or even a box store or their website), the trick is to find your favorite designer at such places as CafePress.com, Zazzle.com, RedBubble.com or Amazon.com.

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If one is the least bit savvy, he/she can buy the most memorable different gifts, for 1/10th what they’d spend elsewhere.  Plus these are the type gifts that will be used, cherished, and remembered (as they often become valuable collectibles as well).

zazzle case salad bar 

Shop smartly.  Shop with small businesses and/or designers. You will come out ahead in the short (and long run). 

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Rick London is the founder of Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons aka LTCartoons.com which he launched in 1997. He also owns several licensed image shops that sell funny gifts such as Rick London Gifts and one that specializes in funny tees and clothing called Rick London Cartoons.  He is married to nature photographer  Lee Hiller who sells designer gifts & clothing at Lee Hiller Design.  

The Real Story Of The Invention Of The Internet….As Told by The Real Inventor & Cartoons/& Their Inspiration by Rick London

By Londons Times Cartoons Click To Enlarge

By Londons Times Cartoons Click To Enlarge

     Sometimes people believe the story behind this cartoon and more often than not, they don’t.

     Perhaps the year was 1999. I was taking a sabbatical from cartooning but still talking about it with people because I was mainly looking for people who could lead me in the right direction.  My venture was only two years old and my site contained less than 1000 cartoons. Some of them were fairly good, but remember I was 44 and quite immature for my age, okay immature for a 25 year old’s age, but hey, I was becoming in my mind “The King Of Cartooning”.

     Along the way, online, I  met a very nice guy, a Dr. Vinton Cerf who lived in Washington, D.C as I had done for 12 years.  Vint was a Sr. VP at MCI when it was still open.

     Back then, if I remember correctly broadband was not available, or if it was it was in limited places.  Vint had AOL Online and he had my team draw a graphic of a skeleton with cobwebs sitting at his pc with an alert on his monitor “Welcome To America Online”.  Back then, that was very funny as AOL, Compuserve, NetZero and the  rest were quite slow at connecting, and felt even slower once broadband arrived.    A copy of it still sits on my site in the computer cartoon archives.

     I remember feeling a bit bad at the time because a childhood friend from 1st and 2nd grade, Bob Pittman, after founding and selling MTV, became CEO of AOL for a good many years.  I hope he never saw it but one never knows. I never got an ugly call from him and Vint was happy. He loved to joke about how long it took him to get on the Internet using his trustworthy, but very slow AOL.  

Custom Cartoon for Dr. Vint Cerf, Father Of The Internet by LTCartoons.com. Click to enlarge.

Custom Cartoon for Dr. Vint Cerf, Father Of The Internet by LTCartoons.com. Click to enlarge.

     Well there is more to the story.  Vint was just a sophomore at Stanford in 1969 when he came up with the idea of TCP-IP, the protocol which eventually became the Internet.  Professors and others talked him into selling the rights for awhile to the Pentagon and they called it “Arapnet”.  It was mainly an email communication device between different governmental entities.

     In 1974, Vint learned that will a bit of work, it could go public, but it would take a Congressional vote.  He approached a young (then Congressman from Tn. Named Al Gore who liked the idea and called it the Information Superhighway. 

     That same year he pushed it through Congress and the world had the Internet.  There was not a lot to it except email, bulletin boards and some domains.

     Ten years later an MIT professor named Tim Berners-Lee invented a software called the WWW which would drive the Internet into places we never dreamed imaginable. 

      Suddenly it became a major media and communication device.  The best features at that time were Yahoo!, Hotbot, email, and some bulletin boards.  There was no Google, online college, social media, or anything else that has driven it to become the most important media of our time. 

     Hence the silly little cartoon at the top of the page.  Compare it to the one we did for Vint, and you can see we’ve come a  long way baby along with that little invention of his The Internet. 

    And by the way all these years the joke was NOT on Al Gore. His exact words were, “I created the incentive to invent the Internet”, and in Washington political terms, that is exactly what he did.  Though I’m not a big Al Gore fan, I surely do get a good chuckle when some know it all jokes about Gore and the Internet and has snide know-it-all chesire grin to go with it.

By the way Dr. Vinton Cerf was selected as creative director for Google which is where he remains for about a decade now. Way to go Vint. 

I Thought My Wife Lee Was Designing My Twitter Background. She Had Designed A Work Of Art by Rick London

RL Twitter page   77777

There are two geeks in the London home. I am one of them, an Internet geek.  The other geek is my beloved talented wife Lee Hiller-London who is more of a software and design geek.  

She taught me a long time ago that though Twitter is an amazing social network with potential beyond most others, if one’s Twitter welcome page is not alluring, nobody will hang around very long.  

She designed my 1st Twitter background about 4 years ago.  Today she decided it was time for a change and designed another one.  It is located @RickLondon (my personal page) and at @LTCartoons (The Londons Times Cartoon Twitter page). 

Thank you baby. It doesn’t get more alluring than this.  I invite all to view what she did with her page as well at @LeeHillerLondon x0x00x  Amazing work.  Hey all, please follow us. 

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Rick London is a writer, designer and cartoonist.  He founded Google’s #1 ranked offbeat cartoons and funny gifts “Londons Times” in 1997. He lives in the Ouachita Mountains with his nature photographer wife Lee Hiller London where they enjoy nature and hiking.  They are active in animal and green causes 

The Dramaless Strain (How Older Hippies Reduce Drama) by Rick London

       It was a very good day today.  Most of my days are very good.   For the younger crowd, you might have called your psychiatrist to make certain your Prozac prescription was renewed for the next 250 years, but for me, it was ideal. 

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       Number one, it was drama-free.  I love days that are drama-free.  Don’t get me wrong; I do understand the ups and downs that life can purvey, but I worked very hard for very many years to live a life that involved very little drama.  My younger days had more drama than Les Miserables on steroids, so you can imagine how grateful I am for the serenity.

       My beloved wife Lee and I drank our delicious smoothies (which she concocts every morning) and enjoyed it while reading several newspapers online and getting a little work done.     Someone once asked me how many newspapers and periodicals I read and I really don’t know the answer so I just gave it an educated guess, “About twice as many as Sarah Palin”.

      A little before mid-afternoon, the weather was turning mild; about 65 degrees without a cloud in the sky.  That is the perfect time to hike the Hot Springs Mountain Loop.  Lee and I were both excited because a lot of the wildflowers that had been elusive or gone all year, were and are back.  So are a lot of the birds and butterflies.   This might not sound like much, but remember, we had a whole year of severe droughts and forest fires followed by a brutal blizzard which destroyed about 75% of our beloved forest.  It felt like a death in the family.  All the wildlife was gone for a month. Not a bird. Not an insect. Not a wildflower. 

      Then suddenly we saw a few warblers here, a cardinal there, a few butterflies riding the wind and occasionally landing on the lone wildflower.   Today, still very bare in many parts, little bits of green are returning and pink and red buds and berries are peeking their way out of the end of tree branches.  For a better view of this drop by Lee’s HikeOurPlanet.com.   To see a comparison of what it was like, say 2 years ago, simply go into her archives.  It truly looked like a Peruvian rain forest.  It has a long way to go before it is back to that, but we’re patient, and we still love it, and all it offers.  Lee heard a deer today. Sadly one ran downtown two Sundays ago and into a store window.  Chances are it was searching for food.  It did not survive. 

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     At the top of Hot Springs Mountain two large robins greeted us up close for a photo-shoot.  Lee was too busy shooting and trying to name some rare wildflowers so I took “The Magic Box”, Lee’s old camera that I inherited, and made sure the robins got equal time. 

     We’ve got bears, panthers, mountain lions, snakes, wolves, foxes, and just about every animal you could imagine.  They are surprising in that they are shy.  They do not look at humans as their prey.  Bears are about the most unpredictable and we carry extremely loud alarms which they do not like, causes their ears pain and they move along.

     Today, we heard a wild turkey toward the end of the hike.  We could tell where it was, but it was very shy and not in the mood for human companionship.

      We came home and turned on the tv and ate a lot of whatever was left in the fridge.

      If you look up, you see “the typical day of a semi-retired 58 year old”.  What makes me laugh is that it just seems like yesterday I couldn’t wait for my subscription of Rolling Stone to arrive, see which bands were the hottest, when they were coming to the nearest venue (which used to be The Warehouse in New Orleans), a place many of us have incredible memories, and even more incredible non-memories. Well, you know they say if you don’t remember the 60s or 70s you were probably there.  And though I’m no longer a party person, yes I did inhale.  Don’t worry…I have zero political ambitions.

     But today, I had a drama-free life.  I came up with a few gift ideas for my shops which I’ll make tomorrow, and then at about 6pm CST starts Shabbat.  Ironically, I was born Jewish, Lee is studying to be, and she knows 100 times more about how it is celebrated than I do.  But I’m a good student, and I know I like challah so I imagine I’ll be quite the mensch….a drama-less mensch at that.

Click To Enlarge

Click To Enlarge

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Rick London is a writer, songwriter, designer and cartoonist. He founded Londons Times Cartoons (LTCartoons.com) in 1997 which became Google’s #1 ranked Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts in 2005 and have remained at that ranking for the past 7 years with nearly 8 million visitors.  He also designs more serious gifts and collectibles at such shops like his RickLondonDesigns.com which carry famous quote gifts.    He is married to popular nature/wildlife photographer Lee Hiller-London who runs the nature blog HikeOurPlanet.com.  

 

America’s Economy: International Tourism. Why Are Gun Safety Laws So Important? By Rick London

gun safety

BREAKING Victory! New York will be the first state to pass gun laws in response to the mass shooting at Sandy Hook.
New laws include restricting access to the mentally ill, bans on assault weapons and extended magazines, background checks for private gun sales, a statewide database of gun licenses. and harsher punishments for gun crimes, particularly smugglers.

As you probably observed, it didn’t “just happen” overnight.  We were angered and felt powerless every time another mass murder happened. To add icing on the cake, before any American had a chance to express grief, the NRA and it’s groupies were making the story “all about them and their guns and how the second amendment” blah blah…” as if those of us who own guns or have owned them didn’t have that concern.

It simply showed us that people set their priorities differently.  For some, their guns are like their wives or 

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children (or in many cases even more valuable) but for most of us, the children, teachers and other innocents being murdered was the only story here.
 I am a pure Constitutionalist, hence the 2nd Amendment to me is as important as the rest of them.   But here is a case that I know is going to be mentioned in the Supreme Court regarding “what is a gun and what is not”.  It was the same thing in 1935 when machine guns were banned except for military use.  Anything that was once “a gun” that becomes automated, is no longer

considered “a gun” or “arms” but “a military issued weaponry”, and not protected by the 2nd Amendment, hence a moot point  Citizens had to turn in their machine guns and all of them claimed the Constitution would fall apart and the end of the world would be very soon.

Well the world continued, and thrived, and many many less machine guns were bought because the few that got pushed further underground were so expensive, only the very wealthiest criminals could afford them, and no teens, nor young adults, those who are using the majority of automatics and/or extended clips now. 

new cow capone 7797979797097

 

And even if all that didn’t exist, our 1st Amendment rights trump anyone’s 2nd Amendment rights any day (also proven in court in 1935. Every citizen had the right to walk down the street without the fear of being blown into little pieces to the point of no identification (a machine gun like an automatic or pistol with extended clip can do that same kind of damage).  So

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America is finally coming into the civilized world.  

 Keep in mind, banning the automatic weapons is part of the solution, but not even close to all of it.  What is goingto be a factor that decides whether America continues to go down the slippery slope of “outlaw-land” or not, is the extensive background checks that finally will be put in place.  

Of course the NRA has “it’s script” that is written for its members, created only to raise money for them.  Whenever the government mentions the idea of extensive background checks, the NRA sends out the same, or nearly the same fear-based letter every single time to it’s members that in a nutshell says, “And so what is next?  We know what is next.  They take our guns away.  

And only you can prevent this and we’re counting on you.  Will you be sending us $10?  $25? $50? $100 or this amount_________?  And it works.  By now anyone who has been a member for at least a year, may not understand it, but the NRA’s fear-based fundraising letters, written by the very best psychologists-turned-marketers knows the score.

On the other hand, these days, one of the first things International tourists look for in their research is violence in the country in which they feel might be a fun and/or interesting visit.  

So they check gun deaths in the U.S.  30,000 in 2011.  Nope, no way.  So they check Canada.  Gun deaths in 2011 – 37.   It doesn’t take an Einstein to figure out what country they would be visiting in 2011 with their family of 4-5.  

And those families of 4-5 are in the millions each year.  And thanks to yours truly, the NRA, and its brainwashed members who think that any day now their 2nd Amendment rights will be breached, the topic is not even raised.  After all, what could be more important.    America can afford to lose millions of dollars each year in tourism dollars if it means something as important as the “heroic NRA” fighting for your rights.

The problem is, they aren’t fighting for your rights.  They are fighting to put money in their pockets after each gun story, Newtown tragedy, etc.  The background checks has been a much-needed law in this country for a long time. It exists in every other civilized country. It does not breach any law-abiding citizen’s right to bear arms.  If it is upsetting to you, it is time to look within, not at the government, concerned parents, murdered citizens and their families, etc. What are you hiding?  If you have nothing to hide in your background, extension background checks should please you. 

It keeps guns out of the hands of people who are not mentally or emotionally capable of handling them.

But you know the NRA mantra.  When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.  Well that’s not exactly true.  Guns will never be outlawed.  But when sick violent people are outlawed from getting guns, where they will have to go to buy them, deep into the black market is so expensive, only a small minority of them will be able to afford them.

Is it foolproof?   Of course not.  But it is a very good start.  And it is a message to our citizens who have been staying indoors an awful lot, not going to crowded theaters, malls, downtown or other places where people might be found shooting a gun, will begin doing public commerce again.  And there are millions of them.

And more importantly it sends a message to the world that the citizens are welcoming them back. Though we love our guns, and we do, we love people even more. And we love the fact that we live in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, if not the most beautiful, and friendly, and if it means doing our best to keep guns out of the hands of sick/dangerous people to welcome them back, so be it.  If it means saying goodbye to automatic weapons and extended magazines; and leaving them with the military, for whom they were designed in the first place, so be it.

In other words, the U.S.A. is not as insane as they may believe it is, and they do believe it is, and we are surely willing to work on the useless violence, even if it means loss of profits to the NRA and its affiliates, no, especially if it means loss of income to that gang of thugs.  

The gun dealers, gun show operators etc. will have to learn to act like professionals and deal with the government to make certain guns go to the right persons, or simply go out of business.  It is a win-win for everyone.  They do not need to be in the gun business if they don’t understand that simple face which is about to become law.  And the NRA has no business teaching us about gun safety if all they are trying to do is make it more unsafe, to raise money again and again.  

Tourism, our country’s major breadwinner which has virtually dried up due to the unregulated gun laws (and gun laws that are ridiculous and don’t work) are now looking at America again as a possible destination).  Do you know that most travelers from different countries looked at us as they do Syria, Iran, Gaza, etc?  Seriously.  They picked safe(er) countries such as Germany, Switzerland, Scandanavia etc.  And who could blame them.  Those days are changing. FINALLY.

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Rick London is a freelance writer and songwriter.  He launched Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons and Funny Gifts in March 1997. It has been Google #1 ranked offbeat webcomic since 2005 and Bing’s #1 ranked since 2008.  London is active in Childrens, Animals and Environment rights. He lives with his wife popular nature/wildlife photographer Lee Hiller-London who owns and runs Lee Hiller’s Hike Our Planet Nature Blog and Lee Hiller Designs nature photography and artwork gifts and clothing.

lt sushi rebel

Where Do I Live? In The Here & Now…Sort Of….By Rick London

         Sometimes people ask me where I live and I tell them I live “in the now”.  Of course that is not totally true because when things get rough, even given years of excellent therapy, I find myself living in the “then”.   Generally cold weather and overcast skies will send me scurrying to the “then”; not unlike snowbirds from Canada settling in southern Florida for the winter, yearning for the “good old days”.

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      But given my life, and all its ups and downs as a writer, I can honestly say most of my time is spent living in the now.  And it’s not because I am better than anyone else, or even understand the way the world works better than anyone else.  I don’t.  I just happen to like who I am.  I like that I know how to stand up for whom I am (healthy boundaries).  I don’t tell lies to people, not even “little white lies” so that they’ll feel better. I’m not perfect. I’ve chopped down some cherry trees (and didn’t admit it), but I strive to be honest.  Sometimes that hurts people’s feelings, but in the long run, most tend to appreciate constructive criticism. And sometimes I’m wrong.

      Every now and then a new writer or cartoonist will send me a portfolio of his or her work.  And that is not because I am a master of what I do, but that I’ve been doing it for over a decade and am published and licensed in numerous places, and generally that is the goal of most writers and/or cartoonists.  If one has willfully entered this “trade” with the idea of retiring to a home in Malibu, might I suggest a career in plumbing or medicine. 

     I have made it a point to always give an honest assessment of what someone has showed me.  If it has potential (in my mind), I let them know as soon as possible. If it is dismal, I let them know that (in a tactful manner) that I don’t believe it has commercial value.

 The good news is that creativity, the arts, writing etc. can all be learned. And better more advanced instructors can help one advance rapidly.  I was fortunate to have a mom (starting early in my life) who was quite astute in the arts and letters. I later found mentors, some of whom were the best in the humor writing and cartooning business, and even later, upon returning to college, some of the best professors in the business of teaching college courses.  So I really have no excuse not to be able to produce and produce often and be creative often. And still, I sometimes miss the mark.

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      There is a certain generosity about the arts and letters which at first glance goes unnoticed.  But given that the purveyor of this creative mass is put into a fully focused form, and manifested into some kind of medium meant to share with others, not knowing if the creator is going to make one penny or not, but gives totally of oneself, sharing one’s inner soul (yes even in humor), it is a pure act of giving.  There of course are times when the creation becomes a “commercial success”. To me, it is still a sharing situation.  There are plenty of ways to make an easier living (than sharing one’s soul with the world), but the artist, writer, painter, musician etc. is willing to “give what it takes”.

     My wife Lee Hiller-London started climbing and hiking the mountains of Arkansas in early November 2009.    She owned a small digital camera which was more for personal use than commercial, so she knew the chances may be slim of any kind of commercial success, but she had found a new dimension of herself by hiking, taking photos and documenting what she saw.  She became a photo-poet.

      In spite of a lot of obstacles, a new form of commerce began taking place on the Internet called “digital design” in which one transfers one’s art, photography, text etc. onto clothing, gifts, cards and other collectibles.  I had been working in digital art since 2005.  It did not take her long to pick up the craft and she was off to the races.

      In time, she was able to buy a high-end professional camera and her brand, “Lee Hiller Designs” began to flourish.  Within 3-4 years, she had taken tens of thousands of photos and hiked hundreds of miles in the beautiful Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas.

     Though I now have inherited her old camera (and enjoy taking nature and wildlife pictures a great deal), it is not my major muse.  I still enjoy writing offbeat cartoons which I use for my Londons Times Cartoons.  I find great inspiration in the forest, often using animals, trees and other living things as the theme of the cartoon.  I jot down ideas while hiking and develop them when I get home from the adventure.   When my head is clear of all cobwebs (after a hike), which it generally is, I can create with the best of them.  If I’ve been closed up at home for several days (which happens) due to weather or some other reason, I am lucky to be able to spell my name correctly.

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      Writing, painting, drawing, music, etc. does not have to be for celebrity, money, or fame.  In fact, it is more often done for personal achievement than audience feedback.  For the first few years I was in cartooning and humor writing, it was only as a hobby, and I was curious how far I could take it before anyone even noticed I was doing it.  I never expected to get published much less my own line of products.  I don’t think my wife Lee did either (she’s actually a much better artist than me).

      Yet, I can remember a ½ lifetime ago, around age 28, moving to New York, haunting the comedy clubs trying out my newly written material, bothering scouts from Letterman and then Johnny Carson etc.  Fame was the key. I felt I would not be happy unless I made my appearances and “knocked ‘em dead” on those shows.  Yet the more I pushed to get what I wanted, the more the universe pushed back to tell me it was not what I was getting. 

     In retrospect, all that is part of growing up.  At age 44, when I decided to settle on cartooning, and later product engineering and designing, it was for me. I truly thought the pursuit of any kind of acknowledgement from my peers or the public was over.  The great irony is that that is when it started. 

     I began Londons Times in 1997.  By September 2001, my team and I had created about 3000+ mostly color cartoons.  I’d also written hundreds of e-zine articles and songs.  And then came a major heart attack.  My cardiologist suggested I let go of anything that was stressful.  By then, cartooning and writing had become stressful, mainly because I’d gotten so involved in it, I never learned to smell the roses.  If I was succeeding, that is, as a business, I would have never known it.  I was just too busy doing it.

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      So I stopped and returned to college; something I’d not done in several decades.  I figured going to college online would be a breeze. After all, nobody looking over my shoulder, go at my own pace, etc. Not so. It was more difficult than any state college I’d attending (and I’d attended my share of them).  All work was state-of-the-art as the courses had been modeled from MIT.  I was out of my league and I knew it.  All assessments were proctored by the local school system.  Though it had to be the most difficult learning experience ever, it was also the most pragmatic. Nearly everything learned there came into play at one time or another when I finally decided to start back at cartooning again.

     By 2005, I had completed about 8 credits out of 20 to graduate.  Then a serious illness struck and I needed surgery.  It took me several months to recover and I was able to finish 3 more credits before an even more serious illness hit and put me on the sidelines.   The school was patient and would have let me continue (even at my slow pace) but being online, at the time, they were heavily monitored by the NEA, and I was on grants, loans and scholarships. 

They asked me to send them my medical records which I did, and they went to bat for me but it was not enough.  So I was unable to finish which broke my heart for a good while.  Then in the middle of my work the thought hit me, two of the most successful people on my school advisory board, Bill Gates and Michael Dell never finished college.  Not that I’m in their league but the fact is they didn’t.  There was no reason I should quit trying in my work just because academia didn’t work out.  So I carried on.

Please don’t get me wrong. I enjoy making money as much as the next fellow.  But as I was getting to know myself along the way, I learned a valuable lesson.  Money, for the sake of just money, that is, working at any job or career just because it pays well, even if I abhor it, is a loser’s game. The funny part is, one learns that lesson after the first paycheck.

“Well that wasn’t enough money. I’ll work harder and make some more”.  Then comes the next paycheck. “Oh, I see I’m going to have to double down on the work, and really pull in the dough.” And that cycle never ends. Ever.  One can be making millions if not billions, and still that dark cloud is hanging overhead. It’s a race for money and nothing else.  One’s moral compass can easily get knocked out of kilter. 

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One gets so busy making money and keeping up with the Jones’, he/she forgets the importance of helping those closest to him/her like brothers, sisters, mothers, close friends etc.  So they distance themselves and go on highly visible missions to Haiti or Central America to prove their charitable worth.  And the world is watching them because they know.

 It is truly no way to live; and I didn’t want to go to my grave that way, and I was surely headed in that direction.  I was blessed to get out of that vicious cycle.  “Show-off charity” is disturbing at best, especially for the giver, as he/she knows he doesn’t have the guts or courage to give to those who need it most in his/her own family, community, etc.

 I’m not saying that going to other countries and supplying blankets, food and other relief is not a wonderful thing, it is.  But if it is a substitute for helping those you love, or once loved, it is a travesty that borders on being criminal.

So, here I am “training myself” not to worry about what “will happen then”.  What will be will be. Que sara sara.  Whatever.

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So it’s Friday. Tonight Lee and I will be shutting down the pc’s for several hours and enjoying Shabbat which we observe each Friday at sundown.  We’ll do our Torah study in the morning and at sundown tomorrow, catch up on work and other silly stuff that are obligations which exist so we can keep the lights on and gas in the cars.

Then, like all mature adult couples, Lee has rented two episodes of “Portlandia” for us to watch tomorrow night and she’ll make some fun organic gmo-free dish with sesame seeds and such in place of that evil Orville Reddenbacher gmo-heavy oversized Chernobyl popcorn.  And all those years we thought he was our kindly grandfather figure.  He’s simply the kindest face in a huge corporation that blows up its corn to 3 times its normal size using GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) compliments of Monsanto. And corporations are not people, my friend…and neither is popcorn.

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Rick London is a freelance writer, designer, songwriter and nature-lover. He launched London’s Times Offbeat Cartoons And Funny Gifts which have been Google & Bing #1 ranked for 7 years.  His stores such as Rick London Gifts offers funny tees, mousepads, mugs & other funny collectibles at reasonable prices.  He is married to popular nature wildlife photographer Lee Hiller-London and they live and hike in the beautiful Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas to commune with Nature.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

 

5 Things The GOP Must Do Not To Become A Fringe Party By Rick London

 The GOP has many positive elements to offer  if they’d only stick to the script for what their party truly stands. The problem is they’ve become insincere as a party, lying to themselves, deluding themselves, and pushing their politics so far right that they’re off the planet.  They’ve lost any idea of what it is like to be compassionate and concerned about the plight of all Americans.  Generally, where the Democrats have strengths, the GOP have weaknesses (and vice versa).  They may not always like each other….but they ALWAYS need each other (to keep America, America)

It will change of course. It has too, as eventually someone will see in the party they want to win and work in government again.   They shouldn’t be surprised when other parties are forced to “tug” even harder in the opposite direction to get things accomplished. It’s like dragging your ballsack through glass with this GOP Congress.  They generally don’t want to compromise on issues that easily “could” be, because they’re more concerned with being right, keeping their jobs (and lifelong entitlements) and living their pride rather than helping voters voices be heard.  

Our founding fathers, though many religious, knew the dangers of a Theocracy. After all it was a theocracy (in England) that they escaped by the skin of their teeth to travel here to found this great nation.  And though many believed in God (as I do); they were VERY clear this was not a theocracy.  And a two-party system was not only important, it was mandatory for America to work; and those two parties must work together, or sink together.

Are you pro-life? Fine, awesome, wonderful. I completely understand that position.  I’m pro-life too. I happen to more often vote pro-choice now that I know about Misoprostol , the cheap Internet ulcer drug that 97% of the time cause abortions. The other 3% of the time, generally horrific birth defects.  The Internet entrepreneurs who sell it, are sitting in prey for a Personhood ticket to be elected. Of course they will become the richest people on the planet.  But that’s my choice. If you believe pro-life works better, God bless you..vote that way.  

     But I have to vote my conscience.    I’ve seen the stats and I see millions of less abortions.  You see otherwise, and I’m fine with that. We’d both like to see less abortions.  For many years the pro-life movement made valliant efforts to lessen abortions.   But when RVWade was settled. There was no Internet. There was no Internet entrepreneurs, and there was no Misoprostol.  Now, in a Personhood/Theocracy state, we would have so many more abortions than happen now it would not even be controllable.  It would be ridiculous in fact.  The movement needs to catch up to speed and understand that the more they push for Personhood, the more the Mosoprostol Entrepreneurs love them.  It’s only common sense the want more abortions, as they will sell more product.

And its very cheap, do it yourself at home, and can be bought over the counter in most countries, prescription in America.  Meanwhile I’ll vote pro-choice for less and safer abortions. Until the pro-life movement tells me what it plans to do about Misprostol, how do they really expect me to take them seriously anymore? And finally, I believe abortion to be a personal health decision between a woman and her doctor.  Does that mean I like abortion?  No. But I think education, contraception and family planning is the key to less (in fact the stats show that works); legislation of abortion is a disaster.  But let’s not argue semantics. You know it too.  But you have a lot invested in “the movement” and I understand that.    But we both would like to see the same thing. Less abortions. So we’re not as far apart as you think. You think legislation does the trick, I think education.  So what.  We both want the same thing.

    You’re concerned about government debt and entitlement programs being abused – That is a very a righteous platform! You want to cut taxes for people making a lot of money because you sincerely believe companies will hire and help American’s get back to work? Awesome — fine, that’s ok by me. 

Just understand I disagree with you.  but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t shake your hand and say “Hey, what can we work together on?”. There was a time in America when parties were open to compromise.   But when you slap my hand away, spit in my face, call me names and tell me I’m going to burn in hell and destroy America because I believe in Universal Health care,  or that a rapist should be in prison, not at the movies every other weekend with his “love” child, and gays deserve less rights than straights,  and are not entitled to the same rights in domestic partnerships or they are an abomination, then you know what you can do to yourself; and if your memory fails you, go to YouTube and see Clint Eastwood’s rambling dialogue with an empty chair. 

The very decent GOP has been hijacked by the loon fringe.  Loon fringe is not “my coined expression” btw. I hear it daily by the ex-GOP’s on Twitter who are now Independents or Democrats.  The party left them too.  Until the GOP sees that, address it, and let them know how very unwelcome they are (unless they start acting as the Constitution  advises, they will lose until the end of time. I don’t say that with glee. I say that because I believe in a strong 2-party system.  

Right now America has a very strong one party system, and one very horrendous joke that was once a strong proud party that knew how to compromise and not undermine a U.S. President’s work (at we, the people’s expense), and think we are all too stupid to know how Washington works and what they did. Most of us have been to college.  We are livid at the GOP; even those of us who have voted it often, ESPECIALLY those of us who have voted it often.

You may wonder why I’ve given the GOP a hard time lately.  You haven’t been paying attention. When the Democrats make faux pas, I’m onto their shenanigans too.  But the Democrats (I hate to tell you) have been playing by the rules. They know their script. They’ve reigned in the far left (who was pulling them off the planet every bit as much as your far right fringe is now).  I have been telling both parties for years, the real sanity is in the middle.  Jon Huntsman tried his best (GOP) and you banished him to his home.  President Obama showed in his actions that he was playing by his script.  Former President Clinton eloquently drove home that fact last night.  Now its time for a brave GOP to come to the plate and say, “I’m not pleased IN THE LEAST with the way this whole party has been hijacked, and even now controlled by the loon fringe.  As a former GOP, I know the majority are not happy at all with that.  In fact they are horrified.   Let’s please. clean it up.  That does not mean “Lose Your Religion”, it merely means know the difference between religion and politics, and if that is too confusing for you, please refer to the U.S. Constitution.  

Thanks sincerely, 

 

Rick London

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 Rick London is an writer, cartoonist, product designer and songwriter. He founded Google’s number one ranked offbeat cartoons and funny gifts, Londons Times Cartoons which have been #1 Google ranked since 2005.  He is married to nature photographer Lee Hiller-London. They live and enjoy nature in the beautiful Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas. They are active in childrens, military, animal and ecology causes 

 

(Poem) I Had To Block You Today By Rick London

I had to block you today,

You said your politics was the only way.

We’d been friends in real life for countless years and days,

From silly games like hide and seek,

And playing war games in the creek.

Even on facebook, we’d kept our rebellious ways.

I thought about it long and hard,

Why today you looked at me in total disregard.

I always thought you to be a kind kindred soul,

But I was wrong….s’pose that’s part of growing old.

The reason for my actions may come across as silly,

It often does for this Arkansas hillbilly.

But it was very real, almost a texture of granite or stone,

My independence from bullies, now that I’m grown.

Pointed out to me by mentors, friends, and therapists I had known,

“Never Rick, never do you have to cower to them again”,

You’re not in the wrong, the bully is,

It’s such an ugly sin.  

He thinks he’s right he’ll fight and fight,

Everything must come to a head for him.

But that’s simply part of his disease,

To him the world’s quite grim.

November is coming and tempers begin to flair,

Politics no longer confined to the Beltway but traveling in the air.

I made a mention of whom I may favor in the ballot box,

But not to you, I was in a conversation with several delegates,

I did not share it for your approval or distaste,

I didn’t see you there.  But if I had and you’d done that, you’d wish I hadn’t cared.

I shared it because I’m an American, and part of the human race.

To tell me that I am wrong to think and vote as I do,

Is frightening to be honest and true.

Peer pressure is how parties controlled/behaved in Communist Russia…and Nazis to the Jews.

They used peer pressure/bullying tactics so you’d see it their way,

Goebbels hired his media pundits to create “the demon-du-jour” each day.  

Your action was a total disregard of my humanity, soul, and voice.

I know for whom you wish elected,

And if that person is selected,

I’d back him with all the force within my being.

On the other hand if my candidate of choice wins the race,

You said you’ll do what it takes to undermine his life until distress.  

So I bid you farewell old friend, based on your major arrogance that shows,

I love so much being American and the difference that it shows.

I salute you for voting for the man of your choice,

But demanding I vote for him too is to treat me as a little boy.

So misinformed, yet I research well. I don’t need a surrogate father,

But if I did, I’ll tell you this, you’d not be the one I’d care to bother.

I’m not a member of a political party, I vote as an independent every time,

I know by now parties are a sham, and it’s choices are a crime at best.

But do not fear, I am sincere, even if I’ve chosen the loser,

Because of the liberties we so enjoy,

I’ll support your winning candidate and lay politics to rest.

I have so many friends voting same as you,

But their humility and compassion doesn’t tell me what to do.

They take it to the voting booth as that’s where our power needs to be,

To spout it to me on facebook, truly makes you quite a freak.

 

I urge everyone to vote. I don’t care for whom you vote. Please take advantage of this beautiful American system. Look around the world and see how many countries are in the middle of chaos, death and confusion simply trying to set up a voting precinct.  Don’t let that happen in America.  Encourage everyone to vote and if they have problems or don’t understand how, help them learn how. If you have an elderly or disabled neighbor, help them get there or show them how to write in.  Don’t let ANYone intimidate you into thinking you cannot vote. You can and should.  To not vote brings us that much closer to countries like Iran, Syria, etc. Thank you.

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Rick London is a songwriter, author, cartoonist and designer.  He founded LTCartoons in 1997. Londons Times Cartons (LTCartoons.com) has been Google & Bing’s #1 Offbeat Cartoons & funny gifts since 2005.  He is married to nature photographer Lee Hiller-London who has the popular blog Hike Our Planet.