Story Behind The Cartoon: Twitter Moms by Rick London

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       When it came to the Internet, I was a bit late to the party.  By 1995, I knew how to Email and use Yahoo!   As a man who has had a long legacy of “starving writer”, I really didn’t bother to learn much about the web, as, in my mind, it was probably just another cool trend that would pass and we’d be comunicating via “vibes” with our brains while floating around the moon, where we’d buying craters and other mountainous property from Newt Gingrich, Realtors, complete with a deed of mistrust. 

      My luck he’d sell me several acres on the dark side of the moon.  Sure, sounds bad but think about all the free Pink Floyd 24/7 radio stations. My wife Lee told me she’d open the only tanning salon if we moved to the dark side.  

    So a few years after “the next big thing” came along which was Google and later MySpace, I had a feeling I better learn this stuff.

     So I signed up at one of the better colleges in the country that teaches how to do business using the Internet. I still feel blessed that I had that experience and learned things I probably could not have learned anywhere else.  It is called Western Governor’s University and is known to have some of the best professors and advisory board of any college in the country. And looking at other’ scurricula  I find it hard to disagree.

     During that time as a student in my late forties and early fifties, Twitter was born.  I was not sure what to think of it.  Could it beat MySpace? Probably so. But what about that other new one facebook?
Possibly.  But I decided to learn both of them and work hard to get my name out there. 

     Though I have no children of my own, I’ve worked with many kids teaching them the arts and martial arts.  This GenX (or whomever they are) are a lot smarter and more savvy than we were at their age.  As far as the birds and the bees, seems like they were born knowing that topic.

      They wanted to talk geek stuff, search engines and later SEO.  I knew a little of some of that stuff so they deemed me “cool” (for an old geezer). I was about 44 at the time. I’m now 59.

      When my workshop/classes ended each day, generally if they didn’t walk or ride the bus home one of their parents. Most of them were age 6-15.  For those of my generations if I told you the kinds of things they talk to each other about (and to their parents) you would screech on breaks.  When I first heard their favorite topics of conversations, I thought I misheard several things due to the fact that my hearing is not that great.

       Sadly, my hearing is fairly good and I heard what I heard.  I’m no prude, and frankly these kids were not rude, not misogynist, or hateful in any way.  They simply talked about topics that were very taboo, especially when I was their age, and even more especially in conversations with our parents.

      So rather than get all depressed and stuff about being an ancient dinosaur, I came up with this cartoon.  I think it explains how I felt, and how they think and talk.

       Not long after we completed this cartoon, my first cousin’s son asked her a question very similar to what was in the cartoon.  She got a very good laugh out of that, as I’d sent her a matted glossy copy. She hung it in his room, and told him he’d understand it one day….my feeling is…he probably already does….after all he’s 5 and a half. 

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Rick London is an author, songwriter, designer and cartoonist.  He is best known for his Londons Times Cartoons which have been Google #1 ranked offbeat cartoons and funny gifts since 2005. He is married to popular nature photographer /blogger Lee Hiller-London who owns numerous online shops of thousands of products bearing her licensed photography images.  She also creates art with a likeness to Peter Maxx/mixed with nature and sea world scenes. 

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

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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 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

 

“Bored & I’m Mild” (Song Parody By Rick London c2012) Sung To Steppenwolf’s “Born To Be Wild”

Bathroom jokes aren’t funny,
And my hair is real gray,
Lookin’ for my dentures,
And Poligrip paste.
I get shingles relief with hot cayenne,
Glad I got the extra strength leg and arm brace,
My sleep apnea sounds like machine guns,

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My alarm clock doesn’t phase.

In the shower I try to remember,
  Who are my friends on facebook,
Gas X reduces wind,
   At least I’m not 6 feet under.
   Yeah darlin’ got a case of Depends,
Not quite Magic Mike’s love embrace,
I smoked medicinal pot once but didn’t inhale,
But the brownies sent me to space.

I play Lawrence Welk real loud,
We are bored, bored and we’re mild,
Wow Weren’t Golden Girls so wry,
I’m usin’ ammonia-free dye.

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Rick London is a parody songwriter, poet, author, cartoonist and designer.  He founded Google’s #1 ranked offbeat cartoons & funny gifts & funny tees.  He is married to nature photographer and designer Lee Hiller-London who owns the popular LeeHillerDesigns which sells many online gifts at affordable prices.  Together they live in the beautiful Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas where they hike often and commune with nature.  Follow them on Twitter: @RickLondon and @LeeHillerLondon.

 

 

 

(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.

 

Unfriending, Social Media, POTUS & Happiness by Rick London

     One need not be Kreskin or Jean Dixon these days to figure out what is on someone’s mind.  (For those post boomers they were popular psychics in our younger days).

     All one need to do today is take a glance at their social media postings, read their emails, or hang up from talking to them (on one of those rare occasions we use our cell phones rather than email).  You see, (again this is for the youngn’s), we baby boomers have had our share of drama.

     Drama requires talking in person or on the phone so we much prefer email or social media.  Unfriending someone no longer requires drama, creating an army of like-minded friends (aka bullying) to defend one’s decision to terminate a friendship and if they try to rekindle it, the army of friends knocks them back down (double-bullying). I always wondered why folks can’t just unfriend quietly in social media and simply move on.  Nobody else really cares who we like or dislike. 

     Now, with the click of a mouse, we simply unfriend them or even more dramatically block them.  Yowsah. Click click click.  Feel the power, Luke.  (For those of you post-boomers who don’t know who Luke is, well……never mind.)

     So these days, especially this close to November, friends are often made or broken based on which glorified policy wonk aka POTUS aka President gets to live at 1600 Pa. Avenue for the next 4 years (and possibly longer).

     Many expect the rest of us to tow their party line.  Let me get this straight with everyone up front.  I do vote, but I register as an Independent. I choose the candidate, not the party.  Parties ALWAYS let you down, candidates do about 50% of the time.

      Politicians are so far from being my role-models they don’t even show up on the radar screen. And anyone who makes or breaks a relationship based on which politician I think is best for the job, may be a friend, but is a friend in deep need of psychiatric care (and I’m not making a joke here).

     My friends are based on character. They are not “armchair powermongers” who enjoy the “divide and conquer” that their favorite trained politician has shown them.  I like/and love people based on many other factors…..how they feel about themselves and others, their treatment of animals and the planet, their generosity (and this need not be financial but in sharing their personality/gifts etc., their sense of humor/or their appreciation of humor, and so many other factors).  Their political preference is so far down the stream, I don’t really even care.

      Even in today’s (somewhat dysfunctional)…ok very dysfunctional world, there are many reasons to be happy and/or grateful.  Some are so basic we almost miss them.  We awaken yet another day.  That means we still have a reason to be here on the planet.  It may not have been revealed (to us yet) but it is there, and usually others discover it before we do.

      Sometimes we have our health. I will admit, my health is not optimal but it is well above what it should be. In fact, given medical science, I should have died numerous times.  At first, that made me bitter.  Later I learned it was “what it took” for me to truly look within, and I became a vegan and started hiking the mountains with my beloved wife Lee Hiller-London.

     Not everyone has to become a vegan and hike mountains with the one they love to be happy.  The trick is simply to learn from one’s errors, and attempt to correct them. Do a little better than yesterday.            If you ate a Big Mac yesterday, don’t eat one today. If you didn’t exercise yesterday, walk a block today.  I changed my lifestyle very gradually…I didn’t stop eating milk, fish, meat, eggs, etc all in one day and begin leaping buildings like Superman.  It took almost two years, a lot of reading, a lot of patience from Lee who was already well on her way to a healthier lifestyle, and the willingness to give it a try. I didn’t know if it would work. I only knew that the way I had been living didn’t work. And a little over a year past those changes, I am just beginning to learn about life and treasure it as it should be treasured.  I am but a newbie and can tell I will be for a very long time.

    My happiness (or lack thereof) was the same under the administrations of JFK, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, both Bush’s, Clinton and Obama.  Presidents had absolutely nothing to do with my mood (though it was so convenient and easy to project any of my own problems using their own shortcomings; and each has had many, but each have done much good as well).  America, with all its issues has continued to exist and thrive throughout many diverse administrations.  I believe that has much more to do with the people of America, their faith in America, and their reverence to the U.S. Constitution; not any one person living at a nice address on Pa. Ave.

      So today, simply make the decision to be happy.  Do one little thing that is better for you than you did the day before.  Journal it.  The next day do another.  You may slide backward some days. I know I do.  But keep trying.  Don’t blame me. Don’t blame an enemy. Don’t blame the President or a candidate you don’t like.  All that will simply delay your road to happiness. Joy is within you. Not 2000+ miles away in Washington, D.C.  I believe I am on the right path to be happy. I can’t guarantee it, but it feels right to me.  One thing I know for sure, though (based on experience). 

      That is, spending one’s time on social media to teach them what to think, feel, believe, how to vote, etc etc etc. is a sure way to emptiness and unhappiness, and I’d bet the farm on that.

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Rick London is an author, songwriter, cartoonist and designer.  He founded Londons Times Cartoons aka LTCartoons.com which has been Google & Bing #1 ranked offbeat cartoons & funny gifts since 2005.  He is married to nature and wildlife photographer Lee Hiller-London. They live in their beloved Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas where they spend a great deal of time outdoors and hiking. They are active in animal, children and green causes.

Deleting Haters From One’s Group Is Not Always Easy, But Always Necessary

     I live a simple life.  It is what I would call a good life.  I’m not extremely wealthy; nor do I live in a mansion, but I live in a beautiful part of the world, with the woman whom I love, Lee Hiller-London.     

      I have a few digital design, computer, and marketing skills, which makes it easy for me to choose a place I want to live.  Thanks to the Internet combined with those basic skills, I can fairly easily make a living from my living room as can Lee after developing her photos from her hike.  She knows the importance of me hiking several times a week with her as I bring along with my one of my professors told me to call “my genius pad”. Nature has a way of bringing out the genius in the most mundane of all of us.  I remember telling him, “But I’m not a genius. What is the use of carrying the pad? “He responded, “You will be when you jot down the fleeting idea on paper that 99.9% continue to let fleet until they forget it by the time they got home.

     This theory has proven itself over and over again; no I don’t consider myself a genius by any means but I clearly see why the brightest of the bright keep a pen and pad always within reach wherever they are.  

     This week was a very bad week.  No, it wasn’t because I forgot my “genius pad” or couldn’t think up anything funny that would make it as a cartoon, it was people. Personality conflict. 

     I will start with facebook “friend #1. Let’s just call him FBF#1 for now. I rarely talk to him, but I always got along with him growing up. He seemed friendly and occasionally visited one of my more popular facebook groups about growing up southern.   I occasionally like to kid around; just to see if people are awake and paying attention. I found an old movie marquee with Dorothy, Toto and one of the flying monkey-monsters and said, “You guys want believe this but I just discovered a new film on Netflix called “Wizard Of Oz”. It has cool special effects, flying monkeys, a wizard who speaks from behind a curtain, a tornado scene and all kinds of cool stuff. I think it’s going to be a hit.  Most of my friends had this or that funny sarcastic thing to say except for one. 

     FBF#1 was someone I’d known in real life, but not that well…fortunately.  He added, “Oh, and look at the monkey. It looks just like Obama and I didn’t know he was acting too”. 

     I didn’t take the post down immediately nor did I take his racial slur down. He is allegedly a respected man around my hometown, and I wanted people to see who he really was. 

     A few days later he sent me a private message telling me I was so wrong that…ready…..”Some of his best friends are black” (I kid you not); do people still fall for that old faux line?  Worse yet, do people still use it? I guess so. But it gets better.  When the event happened, his icon photo was that of a bright red Indianapolis 500 racecar.  When he wrote me the private message to basically “go straight to hell” (not his exact working but I got the picture”, he had taken off the Indie 500 racecar and found a picture of himself in an office with a black man’s arm around him.  Big buds.  So, within 48 hours, he was able to find that photo to prove his point (thinking I didn’t remember what he had up) and change it to prove me a liar. 

    Sadly, he is not savvy in the least about facebook and bullying. He is more so now.  I not only took a screenshot of what he actually said, and what I actually said, and kept one copy and sent one copy to facebook security.  They are now monitoring his every move. Last I saw he started a group exactly like mine (so he is as original as he is IQ-challenged). I hope he gets 5 times the membership I have. Then he’ll get to have to play arbitrator and see what it’s like when a conflict occurs. And there will be many in his group. He offers no rules or terms of service.  If he goes with what his philosophy is, racism is okay, as long as it is comparing a U.S. President he doesn’t like to a monkey.  He’s in for the time of his life.

     He told me in his private facebook mail to me that I called him a racist, bigot etc.  Problem is I have the actual screenshot which is considered CYBER-DNA proof; and he is lying; so he’s probably lying to others as well.  Good thing he is nobody of any significance. I get the feeling the people who run in his circle would be better off thinking I’m a liar and no good SOB.  All is better that way. They stay out of my way and I stay out of theirs.  But if it ever came to a head. Facebook security thanked me the screenshot; and if he ever causes trouble with it, he’s up against them, not me.  Good luck big bad guy.                            

    More irony is, I couldn’t care less if he doesn’t like Obama.  He can even say so I a tactful way but not attack the candidate as that is not allowed in our group. The same is true of Romney. No personal attacks against people period, politicians or not.  It has worked very well for me. With over 900 members, we’ve only had to ask 7 to leave in a year’s time.

    So I finally caught my breath and that was over.  We live in volatile sensitive times and I realize some people are ill (compulsion is an illness) and they cannot help themselves when posting such filth. I compare it to pornography and in many ways it is. The reaction of the creator of it is meant to do the same thing.  And I don’t allow pornographers in my tweet stream.

     As if that incident was not enough to raise my blood pressure (remember we are trying to keep it down); after 2 major heart attacks and my only arteries working on stents, that kind of behavior especially cannot be tolerated.  In fact, my cardiologist says block it immediately.  Do not get caught up in others neurosis, sociopathic, or psychotic behavior.

     Then two days later I was blind-sided by another one. This time it was a librarian friend from many years ago; about 20 years to be precise.  I welcomed her to facebook when I saw she’d just shown up and invited her to my Southern Group. I then left and went about my business of designing or promoting as I often do. 

      I usually check in every hour or so but something told me to do so earlier.  People were posting their favorite childhood shows as we often do, but there was one problem.  This university educated librarian who has worked with children for years, listed her very favorite as “Amos And Andy”.  Though I understood the post, I did not understand the “no follow up. Let me explain.

     Most of u were about three years old when that show was produced, and most of us found it funny. Of course we did not have a clue what “black face” meant; and that the show was specifically created to use white men and woman to depict African-American men and women to make them seem to have a lower IQ.  

    So she could have easily said, (and felt like I did); when I was 3 I loved Amos And Andy, but of course I was too young and immature to understand that the producers were utilizing the media to further their agenda of insidious (close to Machiavellian racism), and if I had known better at the time, chances are very slim I would have watched it.  I can surely understand why it was taken off the air and removed from syndication and most if not all the law suits against it were lost (by the producers of the show).

     The librarian didn’t understand I was trying to help her I did not say a word in public. I took it private; to her facebook message box.  So she would know I had no intention of embarrassing her but I had to let her know the rules (TOS) which she’d not read.  Of course she really wouldn’t have had to read the rules to know if that was right or wrong.  She’d been to college and worked with kids for several decades. 

     Her answer was, “Then Rick, you might as well fight to keep people from talking about the Bill Cosby Show, Fat Albert, Sanford & Son.  She really didn’t get it.  She thought I was giving her a hard time and that my beef was with childhood favorites that had black characters. 

     My problem was with white racists who produced the shows in a manner that made them funny, hard to hate (the characters were likeable); I l enjoyed the whole cast of Amos And Andy, but I was 3 years old for goodness sake. I am 57 now and the librarian is nearly that age.  Does she think the same now as she did when she was 3? I so, of course therapy is in order and soon.  

      I am not the man I was even ten years ago, and hope I never go back to who he was; he had a few good qualities but he did not live up to the ideals I had set for myself.  And I sure as hell hope that ten years from now, I am still the man I am today.  If I haven’t changed, someone just take me and stick needles in my eyes.  I like a lot of my qualities.  But I am not even close to the type of man I hope I am becoming. 

      But I must have learned and made some positive changes since I was three.  For instance, I know without a doubt, that Amos And Andy (and any black face show) was created for a dual purpose. One was to entertain (and it often did that quite well) and the other was to subtly keep us in a vicious cycle of hating a race of good people, without even knowing why; to think we were better than them, again,   for not even knowing why. 

      My hopes were to give the librarian another chance.  I knew her to be a better person than what she was presenting herself to be.  I’ve worked in major network TV. I know exactly how those slants and spins are done with “agenda shows” and though black face is no longer used, socio-political issues that were barely mentioned a decade ago; are so today. And sometimes that is a good thing. If it gets a message across such as explaining the U.S. Constitution in easy terms, I’m all for it.  Some have a very hard time with it and get it mixed up with their early Sunday School teachings.

     Sometimes the two parallel, and sometimes they are diametrically opposed. Our personal religions and faiths are for us, not for the world.  And the USA is loaded with persons of all kinds of faiths (and many with no faiths at all).  Everyone in this great country deserves equal rights, no matter what they believe, or not (believe).  That is the main item on the “menu” of the U.S. Constitution that makes it so much different than the Constitutions of so many other countries. There are websites now in which you can read the Constitutions of the world; in fact; type in “Constitutions of the world” into Google and it may surprise you to see how very much all our Constitutions are; except for a few little subtleties which make America great.  That one about equal rights for all is one of “the biggies” and unless it flies; we might as well be living in Syria or the former Iraq or Libya.  I wish I were kidding, but any scholarly sociologist or other expert can easily back me up on it.

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Rick London is an author, songwriter, designer and cartoonist.  He founded Londons Times Cartoons in 1997 in an abandoned tin Ms. warehouse. It has been Google’s #1 offbeat Cartoon since 2005 and Bing’s #1 since 2008.  They both also have his funny gifts ranked at #1.  He is married to his love and best friend, nature photographer Lee Hiller London.  who runs the very popular blog HikeOurPlanet.com.  Both enjoy hiking and photographic their beloved Ouachita Mountains at Hot Springs National Park.

 

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.