Salad Bar Exam: The Story Behind The Cartoon by Rick London – Londons Times Cartoons

 

     If I had to pick salad bar examany one cartoon that is our “trademark image” it would have to be “Salad Bar Exam”.  Even though the cartoon is about 12 years old, it remains our most popular. We even put it for sale on all types of odd products, and some not so odd like tees and mugs and such. 

      The story behind the cartoon, truly is nothing that dramatic about “the story behind the cartoon”; at least the story does not seem that dramatic to me.

      I actually wrote the concept around 1974.  I was in college (my first time around) and had switched to about 3 different majors; one of them being political science, which seemed to be a great pre-law major at the state university I attended. 

     As a vegan now, I look back at some of the “things” I ingested and wonder how I ever survived that time.  Some of my staples included peanut butter, sardines, ramen noodles, Gatorade, more ramen noodles and white bread.  No wonder I was sick all the time with the flue one week, strep throat the next week, etc. 

     It was about that time salad bars became popular at restaurants and Shoney’s, an establishment near USM had a huge salad bar.   My friends and I would go in and just order the salad which was super healthy, but then load it with blue cheese dressing, making it as fatal as any ramen noodle could be even if it didn’t try (to be fatal).

       By the same token I was losing interested in the law, and getting pulled over and warned by it (the law) more than I was learning the logistics of the Constitution.  Besides, my shoulder length hair got in the way of my eyes when I was trying to study, and to me, that was “a good thing”.

       My friends started losing interest in school, and the law generally about the same time I did.  Maybe 80% of them ended up in liberal arts like me.  I was liberal and an artist so why not?

        I can remember many a night debating staying in college and maybe pursuing the law, or maybe becoming a chef, a salad chef at that.  The two sort of melded together and this is the image that evolved.  It didn’t mean a lot at the time. I rough-sketched it with the caption “Salad Bar Exam” and it sat in a shoebox  with several other strange concepts and rough sketches for nearly 35 years.  At the time, I felt one day I would dispose of the entire box of silliness.  I felt that many times since too.  Funny how some of the most mundane things can become a major part of ones life. 

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Rick London is an author, songwriter, cartoonist and designer.  He is probably best known for his Google #1 ranked offbeat cartoons and funny gifts “Londons Times Cartoons” or “LTCartoons.com”.  London is an avid hiker, a vegan and lives with his wife Lee Hiller-London in the Ouachata Mountains of Arkansas where they hike often and commune with nature, only to go home and eat soy n’ stuff. London adds, “Hey, its better than ramen noodles, eh?”   London offers a variety of products bearing his award-winning cartoon “Salad Bar Exam” on funny tshirts, aprons, mouse pads, and much more. 

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

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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. 

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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.

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Just Another Dead Black Kid Wearing A Hoodie In Sanford, Fl? by Rick London

A little over a month ago in Sanford, Fl, a suburb of Orlando,  an unarmed minor named Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by an armed self-appointed Neighborhood Watchman George Zimmerman.  Zimmerman called 911 before shooting Martin.  He’d called 911 “for suspicious-looking characters” 46 times this year before encountering and stalking Martin and “finding him suspicious too”.  The call before Martin was about a week earlier “Two black youths, about age 7 and 9”.  Martin had been at the neighborhood convenience store where he’d walked to buy Skittles and iced tea where he was described as “Not suspicious and just fine” and was on his way walking home. That was approximately 5 minutes before Zimmerman found him “suspicious” and began pursuing him in his SUV armed with a loaded Kel-Tec PF-9 9mm pistol. Zimmerman is the son of retired Judge Joe Zimmerman, whose career was in Va. but retired to the Sanford area of Florida where he was known to be “very well-liked”.

Now the U.S. Federal Department Of Justice has landed in Sanford and both Zimmerman and the Sanford Police Department are under federal investigation.

Here are some of the major items bothering the DOJ:

1. Trayvon weighed significantly less than George Zimmerman.

2. Trayvon was not armed.

3. George Zimmerman was armed with a semi automatic gun.

4. George Zimmerman admits he shot Trayvon Martin.

5. George Zimmerman was told by the 9-1-1 dispatcher not to pursue ‘Trayvon Martin.

6. George Zimmerman did not want to give the police dispatcher a location where the police could find him, but instead indicated that they should call him when they arrived, suggesting that he might be moving around, or that he wanted some warning before the police would see him.

7. Somebody was yelling for help before the sound of the gun shot.

Trayvon is not around to give his version of the events leading up to his murder. However George Zimmerman suggests that the killing was in “self defense” and that he was entitled to stand his ground, and protect himself. Here a just a few problems with his story, assuming only the undisputed evidence.

1. Why would George Zimmerman call out repeatedly for help if he had a gun?

2. Why wouldn’t George Zimmerman agree to wait for the police at an agreed upon location?

3. Why didn’t George Zimmerman go to the hospital to be checked out before going to the police station? If he had actually had his head beaten into the sidewalk, shouldn’t Zimmerman and the police be concerned about a bleed in the brain, or at a minimum a concussion? The broken nose and lacerations on the back of his head would have been sufficient reason to seek medical treatment. However the potential for a cranial bleed or concussion would have necessitated medical evaluation.

4.  If George Zimmerman was afraid for his life, why didn’ t he wait in the safety of his car or Mary Cutcher’s apartment until the police arrived?

 Ever wonder how George Zimmerman eluded court or jail in two cases of domestic violence, 1 case of resisting arrest w/o violence, and one case of resisting arrest with battery against a police officer?  And now after interviewing Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin, (Sanford’s one honest investigating homicide officer) Chris Serino (who demanded charges of manslaughter against Zimmerman as he says none of Zimmerman’s story added up), was overridden by “friends of Zimmerman’s dad from the state attorney’s office”.  Serino fortunately knew something was rotten in Sanford City and wrote out an official protest and an Affadavit” anyway and which is on  record and why.

Had the state or DOJ not gotten involved, that would have been the end. Just like Syria. Just like Iran. No court case, no nothing; just a police state; exactly as is utilized in countries we are trying to teach how a civilized society operates. The DOJ, though hard at work,  must be having a field day with all these new discoveries coming in at almost an hourly basis. 

Every single honest police and/or judge in this great land, should be furious over the way this is playing out.  How would you like all your hard work to go down the drain because “somebody knew somebody’s dad (a judge)  4 times (at least 2 of them felonies with no court trials, one battery on a policeman!!!)”?  PS Zimmerman’s “best friend” Joe Oliver now admits they are only “casually acquainted and he knew nothing of Zimmerman’s past” but please “trust me based on my gut feeling”…..; so his major defender is now useless to him with zero credibility. 

But….again lets let the DOJ (Sanford’s new justice system) do their work.  But for those yelling that, it does not mean to censor or intimidate anyone posting news  and/or opinions as they happen.  That is the way its done in Iran, Syria etc. not America.  We all get to speak our minds here no matter our opinion.  Make sure of that, no matter how you feel about this case.  It’s our duty to let everyone with every opinion speak out; if they find it important to do so. 

By the way, I find it hideous that the “New Black Panthers” have latched  on to this tragedy and turned it into “their cause” to put their name in the limelight. They are not needed and impede the important work of the DOJ. It is clear their motive is not justice in this case, but to provide their own justice in this case. They already have stated publicly they do not follow U.S. law, which means they may try to impede it.  They have every right to be there, however, until/unless they do, and if they do, they too, should be arrested, and sent back home.  America will not let them impose their own “law” on a case this important, a case that almost didn’t even make it out of the morgue, except for a ringing cell phone that went unanswered for three days.

It is tacky that Sharpton et al show up but what does he not show up at? He never met a media event he didn’t like.  But that doesn’t change the facts of this case. I happen to find it important because it sets the bar for justice for everyone which is very important.  No case should end with a state attorney office opinion and no court trial. Sharpton and friends find it important because it makes them feel important. And that’s sad.

No matter what the outcome, that is, whether George Zimmerman is found guilty or not guilty, the fact that this case did not end at the morgue, and that there is now a chance that justice will be served because of one honest homicide police officer, a dead child’s cell phone that didn’t quit ringing, and a panicking coroner, the world now knows the story of Trayvon Martin’s trip to get Skittles and Tea.  And the case may or may not turn out the way we think it should.  But at least it will not end up as the corrupt Sanford Police Department and State Attorney’s Office Of Florida (who has now thank God been taken off the case) wanted it to turn out.  Just another dead black kid wearing a hoodie who ran out of luck in Sanford, Florida.

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Rick London is a writer, songwriter, cartoonist, designer and Internet entrepreneur.  He founded Londons Times Cartoons (LTCartoons.com) in 1997 which have been the number one Offbeat Cartoons (Google & Bing ranked) and funny gifts since 2005.  He recently founded Planet Hoodie which sells funny hoodies featuring LTCartoons.  He also is fond of hiking with his wife nature photographer Lee Hiller-London, the founder of HikeOurPlanet.com.

Quote Theft On Twitter & facebook by Rick London

There is a new kind of plagiarism that is sweeping the Internet by storm.  Quote theft.  Taking a famous, or not-so-famous quote about love, philosophy, inspiration, motivation etc. and leaving off the original author of the quote, or changing the wording just a bit, calling it ones own and posting it into social media or into one’s blog is intellectual property theft.

Before leaving old England, our founding fathers (and mothers) were sick and tired, not of just of losing rights to tangible property, but also to non-tangible property such as their writings, often including quotes they had written, and being credited to someone with more power.  They keenly understood that creating such quotes and writings is real work, no different than plumbing, medicine, law, or any other profession.  The word or art that was created was their property, no different than land that we purchase and have ownership rights. If someone came along and partitioned off a section of our property, we would not stand for it, most likely.  Hopefully if we see one of our creations, whether it be words or art, copied, but without our name, we would speak up.

When I first started in cartooning, this happened to the point to where I couldn’t handle it myself and had to call in an attorney to warn those posting my works without my credit. It was not that I was that great, and everyone had to have my work and take credit, it was that they were that bad, and couldn’t come up with something on their own.  I’m not feigning modesty…and its not that I’m that great now, I am, in my mind, presentable, and people enjoy my work. When I look back to much of the work that we created at the start fourteen years ago, I cringe at much of it.

I enjoy writing quotes. Mine are often humorous quotes (or at least that is my intention), and nothing like “the masters” such as Shakespeare, Wordsworth, etc.  A day doesn’t go by that I don’t see this type of theft conducted on both facebook and Twitter; often by otherwise “respectable” sometimes even household names.

The first time it happened to me by one of the big dogs; my wife Lee Hiller-London found it in a high profile well-respected online tech magazine.  They offer blogs to their “reporters”. One of their bloggers lifted one of our early cartoons, removed the text and credits, typed his own and posted. The only problem was he forgot to remove the tag; and we found it on Google under his name at his blog. That tech magazine is owned by one of the three major TV networks.  I immediately shot off an email to their legal department and even though they removed it the same day, it was not before it was picked up by hundreds of other blogs.  Normally I would not get so shaken, stirred but never shaken, but the author, who had to be “on something” not only removed all our credits, but added credits in his article adjacent to the tampered cartoon.  He used our good name to attack a major corporation with which he apparently had “a beef”.

Other than lack of creativity and/or motivation, there is another perfect reason not to conduct this type of activity.  There is a new breed of lawyer that “hangs out” at Twitter and facebook looking for this very thing.    Early on, I explained this to my facebook and Twitter friends and many of them took my advice.  Many others kept doing it, and yet others continued to take well-known quotes; change a few words, and take credit; just as repulsive.

After fighting with the large TV network and their tech magazine to get my altered cartoon removed, I decided not to spend a lot of time and energy on instructing other adults how to prevent making a big mess.   Lee advised me to “Not clean up other adult’s messes, even if they are friends”.  That is hard because I was taught “that’s what friends are for”, but she’s right; you can instruct a friend, and hope they heed the advice, but if they don’t it is only enabling if trying to go in to clean up the mess.  I rely on friends who know more than me to counsel me as well on all types of topics.  Most of it is common sense behavior, “Do unto others…” etc.  But some has shades of gray and I often need advice and ask for it from others who have trail blazed before me; and I’m grateful that often they do so.  When I mess up, and I do, it is not intentional (I’d be perfect if I thought that could ever be possible); but the best I can do is try to mess up less today than yesterday; and that is more than just a lofty goal for anyone I think.

Last night, I  was reading my stream on facebook.  Suddenly I had a very sick feeling in my stomach.  I saw a quote by the great philosopher Soren Kierkegaard (slightly altered) and posted by a relative of mine flow down the facebook stream. Kierkegaard’s name was not attached to the quote.

My initial feeling was to send a private message to my dear relative and explain the importance of “not shoplifting quotes”.  But I decided on Lee’s counsel who gave me the same common sense approach that applies to friends. “You can’t clean up other adult’s messes”. I rebelled a little with a response, “But this relative is young, in college, and may not know better. Maybe some of her professors are doing it, and do know better but don’t care”.  (I hope readers are getting my point here; it’s not just a mean thing to do, it is Unconstitutional and anti-everything for which our founding fathers (and mothers) stood.

So I turned off the computer, and faded into an uneasy sleep; knowing that, no matter how much I love a friend or relative,  it is my responsibility to understand the important boundary that they are adults too (even if some young adults). I can’t modify or change a behavior in anyone but myself (and as I mentioned, in case you didn’t notice, I am far from perfect).

The best I can do is write blogs like this and hope that the ones I love, and even the ones I may not love so much “get it”.

Addendum:  My wife Lee writes gorgeous quotes about life, wisdom, the universe, love and much more.  She has a wonderful coffee table photography book “The Nature Of Love” at Amazon, B & N, etc featuring many of her early “love quote” muses to me and nature photos.  We can’t even count the times people have lifted her quotes; changed a few words, and posted them on facebook or Twitter (or both) giving themselves credit.  The oddest thing of all is, this has happened more often with “so called” friends with whom we’ve both chatted, not complete strangers. We still are at a loss how to handle that one but if anyone has any ideas,  please advise.  It is a hideous thing to look up and see your own quote slightly altered, going down your social media stream.  For those who don’t understand, writing such quotes (along with her photography and product design) is her work.  People who do this are stealing her work even if only one word is altered and removing her name on the credits.

 

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Rick London is a freelance writer, designer and cartoonist.  He and his wife Lee Hiller-London are active in animal and environmental causes.  He founded Google’s #1 ranked offbeat cartoons “Londons Times” and numerous stores featuring over a quarter of a million funny gifts bearing his cartoon images.