LTCartoons Is 22 Years Old. This Is How You Do It by Rick London c2019

These days, I probably move a little slower, my hearing is not as good, and my fashion statement includes 2 pair of navy sweats that fit fairly well.  

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I launched Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons and Funny Gifts on March 19, 1997 (22 years ago).  Most of you know the odd story of how I decided and where I got started.  Without going into detail, I’d not recommend my beginnings to anyone, but if you are working without much cash, and zero community support,  sometimes it’s the only way.  Bare bones.  

22  years later I look around at my positive environment; an attractive yet modest mountain residence overlooking Hot Springs Mountain and the cascade waterfall.  I turn around and there’s my beautiful supportive humble wife, Lee (Hiller-London) who I’ve said from the start is the “real talent in the house”…and that is true.  Her nature photography and  are truly worth seeing as are her designer gift shops. (Hike Our Planet and LeeHiller.Com). 

I love Hot Springs.  It felt like the home I never had.   Once the residents get to know you awhile, they are your neighbors, friends, and supporters.  This is a magic place, and with so much easy-access to natural beauty, one can’t help but be inspired to create.  

Lee agrees. She is a native of Portland, Or. and has an amazing work ethic which is contagious.  At this point in any creative venture it is easy to become burned-out, bored, anxious, wanting to go back to school, wanting to commit to a newer bigger better project….yada yada yada.  But I procrastinate and the years pass. 

However, I am on the first draft of my autobiography.  For some reason, I’ve been stuck on page 90-something for several months.  Am not sure why, but writer’s block happens, especially when I’m wearing numerous hats.  I will have it published by next year.  I have talked to several people who make movies who have seen the “elevator pitch” of my story and are interested. 

As a human with feelings, I believe it to be a story that should be told.  As an autistic, diagnosed at age 60, but abused to the point of cPTSD as a child by being made to live in an attic (“bedroom”) away from the rest of my family,  I believe it is a  story that must be told.

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I’ve never really talked about the creative process (when I used to write a lot of blogs).  Maybe this is a good time to do so.

First and foremost, I don’t have a clue how creativity works.  I have, however, learned how it works best for me.  I have tried a lot of different things over the years.  I have observed that what works for me does not necessarily work for everyone else, and vice versa.  But many of my kindred creative friends/spirits pretty much have adopted similar elements in their own endeavors.  

I have noticed a lot of people are very competitive in the cartoon and comic gift business but I don’t use that approach.  I love watching people be creative and successful.  I look at it as an “inspirational roadmap”. 

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I also believe the more that become successful, the more interest people take in this “therapeutic millisecond” called “comics”.   It’s therapy for us too.

I say us because LTCartoons.com is a team.  Not all cartoonists draw their own cartoons.  The one I learned about first was Walt Disney through an early caring “phone mentor” Charles “Sparky” Schulz of Snoopy fame.

It’s a long story.  We love doing it and I’ve worked with numerous talented illustrators nearly a decade such as Tom Kerr and Sergey Rudenko. While I can draw a little, not well enough for the vision I had/have for LTCartoons. So we’re a team of a writer/concept man and illustrators. 

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In my early days I worked with illustrator Rich Diesslin for about a decade.  We continue to associate for the occasional deals that come our way.  Rich also managed my site.  I was a latecomer to the Internet and didn’t know html from IBM. Rich has three cartoon properties of his own now with some great “creative real estate” there. 

These illustrators are amazing talents and I get the special privilege of working with them simply because I can “think of funny things”.  Thinking of funny things was how I survived growing up with Autism, and not understood by many.  Now I don’t have to use it as a defense mechanism but as a creative outlet that keeps me productive and is often useful (friends tell me).

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Another “trick” to the trade is keeping ones body and mind in as good a shape as possible.  We don’t use drugs (except the ones I have to take to stay alive…I have congestive heart failure, type 2 diabetes, peripheral neuropathy …My “hidden Hippa” looks like an organ recital.  Drinking is also a no-no as is tobacco (even vaping) in our lives.  Lee and I even gave up coffee (our last holdout) several years ago and never looked back.

I will admit to non-perfection in that I often find myself home from the grocery with tons of organic foods and several 2-litre bottles of Pepsi Zero but other than that……

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We’re both vegans and have been about 8 years or so;  Lee a year longer than me.

I don’t mention all this for bragging rights or to be condescending, but as a prelude to the fact that my creative abilities have increased, rather than decreased over the years (I’m told). 

One is never too old to start that creative venture they’ve been hiding away for years or even decades. 

The moral of my story is, “Don’t necessarily do what I do”.  I may change some or all of that in the next decade.  But for now, I easily see, as hokey as it sounds, the more I do it, the more something that might be described as a “creative channel” opens and I pull out a pen and pad and write it.

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(Above Cartoon is a collaboration with Rich Diesslin)

As Lee might tell you, it’s often during a hike that one “comes to me”.  So nature plays a big part in freeing me of cobwebs that so easily block that creative channel.

I know it is cliché’ to say but thank YOU for LTCartoons.com.  I never thought I’d be doing what I’m doing.   It has been your support and encouragement that has been a major factor in “my little project” turning into something I enjoy doing.

I remember early steps including surfing the web and researching even though there wasn’t much there.  I also found masters in the trade (Sparky Schulz was but one of them), and absorbed all I could.  

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If you want to turn your new hobby into a business, the net is full of wonderful articles and the SBA offers excellent webinar classes that offer a lot of useful information.   

Ready to do a creative project of your own?   To borrow a phrase “just do it”.  And then keep doing it.   Find your own right way.   Lee does hers different than I do and that works for her.  In time, you’ll “find your groove”, if you’ve not already.


Rick London is a writer/cartoonist who lives with his wife Lee in the Ouachita Mountains Of Arkansas.  He considers his home Hot Springs.  He launched Londons Times Cartoons & Gifts in 1997.  It became Google #1 ranked in 2005 and has been ever since.  His offbeat cartoon website has attracted 8.9 million visits since 2005 and his Rick London Gifts Funny Giftshop remains #1 ranked.  

Border Collies, Stocks, & Humor by Rick London

Border Collie Collectibles         Click To Enlarge

Border Collie Collectibles
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I love dogs.

I like to make money, though I doubt I’ll ever be a dot.com zillionaire. I have too much of a writer/artist’s heart (whatever that is), and am much more interested that certain details of a graphic are correct, than I am if one of my licensed t-shirts is displayed properly (though I do appreciate the importance of that part of business too). Let me reword that. I don’t like selling things.

I probably am fairly good at selling things (for instance I’m fairly good at bartering which takes a certain amount of sales acumen), and by the same token I understand the importance of the myriad of details that go into an entrepreneurial venture.

I have learned over the years that I have strengths in some areas and weaknesses in others. There are several remedies for that. In the areas of weakness, I should surround myself with people who have strengths in those areas, and be the strength for them, if they have weaknesses in the areas (of which I have strength).

It’s business but it’s also physics. In basic physics one of the first lessons is “action/reaction”.
What people don’t understand is those physics apply to everything. When we empower someone, we become empowered. When we try to undermine or hurt someone, we become disempowered. Don’t believe me? Try it. It never fails to be true. So I try my best to try to empower those around me. I don’t do it perfectly, but that’s no reason not to keep trying. And I allow them to empower me, if they have knowledge in a matter of which I do not.

Which brings us to border collies and investments.
Rumor has it that art and art collectibles have outperformed Standard & Poors for the past 3 decades. That really doesn’t surprise me much, given the reasons people buy art or collectibles compared to the reasons people buy stocks.

I love art and photography collectibles and my wife Lee Hiller (Lee Hiller-London) who is a fine nature photographer and I have posters and prints of our work all over our home. We have some mugs, cards etc. too. We may, or may not ever sell them, but whatever we do, we’ll enjoy them, and have enjoyed them as the years have passed. We had several new ones to our collection each year. Our wall looks like a nicely stocked gallery.
One could do that with their stock certificates (if they wished) but the emotions that stocks and bonds paperwork seem to enhance are not in the same league with arts and letters collectibles on a print, mug, apron or even ornament.

That’s why I don’t “just design a T-shirt when we create a cartoon but a bulk of collectibles, because a lot of people are like me. They often don’t just want a T-shirt or an eco-friendly bag or a mug bearing that image, they want all three and maybe a key chain and/or button to match.

Which brings us to border collies. I love all dogs. But late in life I shared my home with a beautiful bearded collie mix (I think); and learned about a whole new breed. Most my life I’d had hounds, mixes, goldens labs etc.
One of my best friends had a border collie who reminded me very much of my bearded collie in many ways. Both were extremely bright, a bit hyper, goofy and a lot of fun.
My friend was/is also a sculpture. He has made numerous sculpted metal of border collies which are wonderful.

I’ve not kept up with Frank for several years (his late dad was one of my best friends though), but it gave me the idea of collectibles. If it worked so well on “serious items”, why couldn’t it work with cartoon collectibles?
So I created products, and put them in specific categories and pages, so that one could find a tee, keep shopping for the same design on other products, and not get lost.
Here is a “for instance” of my border collie page at one of my online shops. Enjoy and have a great week.

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Rick London is a writer, cartoonist, songwriter and designer. He is best known for Google #1 ranked Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts which he launched in 1997 in an abandoned tin shed in rural Ms.

Living Our Dreams. How Did Londons Times Cartoon Turn 17?

“….And please remember to set your watches forward one hour”. One hour?  I just fast forwarded mine 17 years.  And where did those years go?  Londons Times Cartoons is 17 years old this March 2014. Holy Smokes. Where did the time go?  Where in the world did it go.  I know I fought some battles and faced some challenges along the way (that seemed like I was walking through a long bad dream), but looking back, it seemed like last week that all this started.

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The last thing I remember after the workplace still looked like Scott Adam’s cartoon “Dilbert” was being downsized from a cubicle and pc to an abandoned warehouse; living on occasional donations of food and small bills from friends.  I received no governmental support. It was March 1997.

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Shifting career gears and goals from producing/editing/marketing to “writing cartoons” at age 44 was not something that Dale Carnegie might have recommended in “How To Make Friends And Influence People”. In fact if I had to write a book about it’s humble beginnings I might have called it, “So you’ve burned every bridge but your dog still loves you”.  And he did.  As did my new calico kitten which wandered up to the warehouse on day. This caused my loyal dog of many years to reassess his reasons to love me but I found “Pat” the cat a new home rapidly and Thor the dog loved me again.

When I launched Londons Times Cartoons, I virtually had nothing.  My car died and with no job I could unwisely spend what little cash I had on another piece of tin, or put it into technology which would help me “build a cartoon empire” (whatever that is).

Thor was with me for nearly ten years of my journey.  What a wonderful administrative assistant.

My skills were very limited.  I can draw a little but not to the level that matched the vision of the cartoon of which I had in mind.  This cartoon would have an offbeat nature ala Far Side, yet not the cartoony look of Far Side (or other cartoons for that matter). If I could eventually create it, my feelings were there was nothing else like it on the market.  I talked to masters in the cartoon industry. I was too naïve to know to leave them alone.  The bigger these icons were, the more friendly and open they were.  Charles Schulz recommended I recruit illustrators who were also fine artists who might do so on spec. He admitted it was a long shot, but long shots do happen, especially in the cartooning industry.

 

 

 

As time went by, I wandered and called around with my shoebox full of cartoon concepts. Sure enough, a bite.  Problem…he didn’t want to do color.  Color was part of my vision but I gave in and figured I could get them colored later.  As time went by a Ca. tee shirt company offered us $10,000 for rights to 12 images (if they were in color).  My illustrator/partner decided color would be good. And from that moment on about 99% of our cartoons were done in color and still are.

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I slowly moved “up the creative corporate ladder” which meant moving eventually to my own place to my favorite mountains in Arkansas; a place surrounded by the most gorgeous natural beauty in the world.  As my instincts suggested, it would be impossible to hike those hills, and not be inspired to write some unique panels.  At one point I was working with eight different top illustrators and writing from 30-100 cartoons per day (not all great albeit but usually 3-5 were marketable).

There’s a lot more to the story. I pretty much took a permanent break around 2001 to return to college and study business as it applies to the Internet at Western Governors.  The professors were fantastic and I learned things that were pragmatic enough to bring into the workplace and facilitate the same or next day.

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I never thought during my pursuit of my own happiness I’d meet the woman of my dreams, Lee Hiller-London , whom I’d eventually marry and as it turns out she, too, loves to hike in the same mountains, and is a wonderful artist and photographer and is building her own brand based on her art and nature/wildlife photography.  We both love what we do and never get bored.  When I was young I used to jokingly say that might happen to me one day; but I never really believed it.  Lee and I have been married since June 18, 2010.

We’ve changed our lifestyles dramatically.  We’re vegans.  We mountain hike 3 or so days a week.  We’re out in nature all the time.  We’re active with animals and the environment.  We have a good life.

I guess there is a moral to this story; several actually.

We are not our last mistake nor are we an accumulation of all the mistakes we have made.

It is never to late and start right where we are and begin working on our dreams.  I was 44.

There will be obstacles and naysayers, lots of them.  And that’s all they are; and best left ignored, or not ignored but looked at as teachers.

There are those who say “Never quit no matter what”. I say that’s foolish. I say quit every single time you feel fatigued, tired, uninspired, etc. It can be from 5 minutes to 5 years (or more).   In my case I needed more knowledge, hence school.

Oh, in the middle of school, I started receiving emails, mails, phone calls etc from every major charity, religious organization, private school, animal cause, environmental cause etc. all wanting autographed cartoons.

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I thought it was some kind of joke.  Finally friends started congratulating me. Why?  For having Google’s #1 ranked offbeat cartoons and gifts.  Several years later also Bing’s #1; and have remained #1 on both search engines since Jan. 2005.

I guess my point is, if I can launch a creative venture mid-life, anybody can.  Please remember 17 years has gone by like a flash so if you plan to start, please get started.

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Rick London is an author, designer and cartoonist.  He is best known for his #1 ranked LTCartoons.com offbeat cartoons and funny gifts Londons Times Cartoons. He is married to popular nature photographer Lee Hiller London who runs the popular blog Hike Our Planet.

Frankenfood Lab-Raised Meat Will Increase Global Warming And Factory Farming

     I don’t have a problem with the new laboratory-raised meat that grows in a petri dish. I have a huge problem with it.  I have an issue with it. I have issues with the people producing and hyping it.

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     If they were honest, I wouldn’t have such a problem with it. They are not being honest?  How could that be? Think about it.

       They call themselves “Vegan Outreach” on Twitter.  That’s bad enough. It’s about as vegan as veal.  It derives from a stem cell from the animal’s muscle whose taste it is trying to mimic.  A spokesman for that industry said “We add a tendon to it”, but he didn’t elaborate what that meant.

      But my big beef (no pun intended with this industry) , they are hyping it as “a way to feed  the world, or safe the planet, because of its very nature, it would mean less farm animals, or even no farm animals, hence less methane gasses, less cruelty etc.

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      Why is it that none of the so-called brilliant talking heads on TV news have not asked, “So when farming ends, will all the farmers just go home and live with their moms?”   Or will they hang in their patiently while people find thousands of new ways to invent new clothing, new products, new fuel, new everything (much less regulated than meat)?   Doesn’t this mean animal factory farming is going to increase about 1000-fold if this “meat product” takes off?  And with more factory farming (which is inevitable, this means more methane gas which means “If you think global warming is bad now, wait till then”.    Just wait till people find all the new neat uses for livestock.  And you know and I know, savvy entrepreneurs worldwide are just waiting for the right opportunity, and Frankenmeat story, gives them not just a foot into the door, but an but something “more special than fracking” as far as “caring for the planet”. 

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      I am sure the people inventing it know this, but they certainly are mum.  Why?  Duh.  Could it be that they are only in it for the money?  Isn’t that special.

      I happen to be a vegan, but a weird non-meat meat product is not the source of my anger.  The source of my anger is all the new industries that will form once animal farming is outlawed, because there will be so many new uses for farm animals.  And most of these products go from slightly regulated to not regulated at all.  If you think factory farming is bad now, wait until cows, sheep, pigs, chickens etc. are used for rocket fuel, caps, hub caps, back-to-school notebooks, and a zillion other items.  Items that are made out of cheaper plastic products will compete with a more upscale “animal-based” product; hence a huge need for farm animals, hence much more factory farming; all so a few people can make a fortune on Frankenmeat.

      Shame on the meatless meat industry, and shame on us for being so short-sighted. 

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Rick London is an author, designer, songwriter and cartoonist. He is best known for his Google 7 Bing #1 ranked offbeat cartoons & funny gifts “Londons Times Cartoons” which he launched in 1997.  He is married to hiker/nature photographer and gift designer Lee Hiller-London who has the popular wildlife photography blog Hike Our Planet and shops such as Lee Hiller Designs

How Joseph Stalin & The Koch Brothers Founded The Tea Party By Rick London

With politics, as with any other emotional issue, sometimes it is good to “give it a rest”.  And I’ve heeded that advice after the election. Many misunderstood my message.  My message was not to denigrate the GOP, they were doing that well enough themselves, it was to try to make them aware that the FOX BUBBLE was not leveling with them (of course they’ve used Karl Rove as the scapegoat du jour) but they are all complicit.

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How do I know? I worked there in the 1980s as their Editor-In-Chief at their flagship station in Washington, D.C.   It was not even called FOX yet and Rupert Murdoch had not yet purchased it. It was called Metromedia and owned by (who was then one of the wealthiest men in America John Kluge).

I knew the drill. I knew the slant. I knew how and why they broadcast. I knew how they raised the money to broadcast to “people who didn’t necessarily want facts” comfort zone. I knew the whole story and still do. It sounds like facts. It feels like facts, and admittedly, it often has a kernel of truth. But it is anything but the truth.  I promise. 

What and whom I didn’t know was The Koch Brother’s history.  I bought Brawny Towels but that was as close as we got.   I used to joke (once Governor Scott Walker started union busting), and later Todd Akin and Richard Mourdoch began spilling the beans of what the GOP/Tea Party was really all about in spite of their “some rape is just fine” verbiage, that they were becoming like Stalin On Steroids. Nothing small govt about them.  They were to become the largest government in the history of the world (not to mention the worst and most hated by the world and 53% of Americans including most of the military.  This  was no longer a political party. This was the “Cult Of The Egg”. 

And if you think I am for abortion, you better think again. I’m about the most pro-life person you’ll ever meet.  A lot who vote pro-choice are very pro-life.  We are the ones who know the stats and know that in countries where abortions are illegal, are the highest, way highest, rate of abortion.  In all of Latin America (except Uruguay, abortion is illegal.  Their abortion rate is through the roof.  In the early days of RVWade, the Pro-Life Movement, was up to date and doing a good job of finding science that might hold up in court. None did to overturn it, but access, etc was changed.  But their movement became outdated.  They got into the “Some Rape Is Good” movement which was one of the major factors that lost them the election.  This was to create an environment where nobody would need an abortion because the “good father’ would now have visiting rights.  Really. How insane is that?  It’s very insane, I promise you. I don’t care for abortion any more than Pro-Life far right GOP’s.  So I HAVE to vote pro-choice or we’ll end up with millions of more abortions.  Sorry, but its true.  

GOP, America is changing and you’re heading in the wrong direction.  If you keep going in that direction, I assure you, you will be exhibits in the “Museum Of Contemporary Almost Political Parties That No Longer Exist”.

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After the election, I, like Susan Eisenhower,  Colin Powell, and others figured the GOP would start their long struggle back to the center (simply for survival purposes).  But it was not to be.  Today we understand the backroom “Right To Work” laws being passed with no votes thanks to some Koch Brothers conniving.

 

 

That was a bit of a surprise because now that I know the GOP is going to keep pushing right thinking the rest of the country will follow lockstep (they were wrong in 2008,  2012, and they will probably be nonexistent by 2016, sadly.  I don’t want them to go. Our country relies on a strong 2-party system.  But parties come and go based on good and/or bad decisions.  They are making nothing but dismal ones; acting as if the 53% don’t exist, when the 53% voted them out and bid them farewell.  America is headed in another direction.  Many have promised to secede. Promises, promises.

The biggest surprise was what I learned today.  The Tea Party actually really did get its education from a man who truly understood how to run a huge government, yet make it sound small. His name was Joseph Stalin.  The Koch Brothers father, was his right hand man.  And the philosophy of “Right To Work” not a lot different than what Stalin offered workers (and every bit as evil). Heaven forbid if anyone tried to start a union under Stalin’s USSR.  He/she was massacred on the spot. That’s why Michigan was so scary last night with the back room laws. 

The bottom line is this….and the GOP who is out of the Fox Bubble already get it. Those trapped in it may never get it.  The country does not want far right, but don’t worry,it doesn’t want far-left either.  It wants Constitutional Law. Some of that may bother you. It may not. But that doesn’t matter.  Just know the people are trying to form a “more perfect union”.  That may mean gay marriage because everyone, according to The Constitution gets equal rights and should.  

I know, I know. I learned in Sunday School too that was a “no no”. But remember, those lessons were for how “we who went to that Sunday school might live”, not for us to tell others. They know what is right for them, we don’t.  Get used to it.  They know better about their lives than you or I do.  Sorry but it’s true. And the Constitution is on their side and should be. 

Marijuana is most likely to be legalized.  That is probably not as big an issue to most.  We now know that it is probably the most medicinal plant on our planet.  By controlling and taxing it we can most likely dissolve our country’s debt.  By not doing that we leave it in the hands of criminals.  It makes no sense to keep it illegal.  Million need it and are already smoking it, paying way too inflated prices, braving rough neighborhoods at times, just to get medicine they have to have when nothing else works. 

Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are staying safe with the government.  No privatization. Don’t like it. Tough. A lot didn’t like it when Herbert Hoover privatized everything which led America into the Great Depression within a year.  

The middle class is the core of America.  Nothing wrong with the wealthy or even extremely wealthy.  They just need to pay their share.  Sorry.  Bill Gates is okay with that. Warren Buffett is too. Those two can buy out most other wealthy Americans with their pocket change.  

This is America.  It is changing.  Change with it, or stay where you are. Nobody can make you change and learn and grow.  I will be working on myself, but I think I can handle it.  If you find that I can’t, i encourage you to correct me, but constructive criticism please.  And if you’d like, I’ll do the same for you.   

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Rick London is a writer/cartoonist and designer. Politics is a “hobby”.  He launched Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts which have been Google’s #1 ranked since 2005. He and his wife nature photographer Lee Hiller-London enjoy hiking in their mountains The Ouachitas of Arkansas.

 

Depends, They Need A Changin’ (Song Parody by Rick London c2012) To The Tune Of Bob Dylan’s “Times They Are A Changin'”

Bob Dylan has reached 70 and those of us who have followed his career and love him are also getting older.  I realize this was a very important song (in the 60s) but for most of us, nothing is more urgent than the topic of this parody song….

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“Depends, They Need A Changin’” Parody by Rick London c2012 to the tune of Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A Changin’”.


 

Hold on to your panties,
That used to be thrown,
     And admit of leaking waters,
And light yellow tone,
And accept at my concerts they’re no longer strewn,
Please wear Depends or be drenched to the bone,
dylanNo time for the lue
       Those things ain’t for savin’
My dear AARP women,
You’re not all alone,
Don’t throw panties at me they’re for changin’.

Just wear ‘em real tight,
Don’t need diaper pens.
Toss ‘em out they don’t need to be dried,
  Pee’n in your pants ain’t no sin.
Just remember you swooned,
When my 45’s you spinned,
Just don’t go to the leu   
Men and women,
Bladder’s looser now,
So get your Depends,
But don’t throw ‘em at me, please just change ‘em.

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Some Senators, Congressmen,
Waddle down the hall,
    They’d like to stand still but there’s just no way,
From their cars to the chamber is quite a long haul,
           And Boehner’s kidney must hurt,
Talkin’ that deep while in the stall,
He wonders if down there he’s yet dried.
And Dems bets are wagin’.
How does he keep a dry hose?
While legislatin’ laws,
And his Pea Party’s still ragin’.  

While the fringe wear fox & mink deserves PETA’s slurs,
All fur needs to be banned
And fur farmers they lie,
    To protect their brand,
 Who lay watch in the sand,
  And ambulance lawyers,
   Are  takin’ a wiz,
While rapidly agin’,
Please don’t throw panties I don’t need sticky buns,
Over in the corner is a disposable can,
book 3 pol cover   And besides they need a changin’.

Maybe some Clorox would be right-on,
Even though some may still seem aghast
Maybe lay off of the chicken kung pao
And try not to fast,
At least not now.

If in public just hold-fast,
The odor is
Rapidly fadin,
At my concert don’t dare throw panties at me now,
This time better be the last,
For Depends, they are for changin’.

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Rick London is an author, cartoonist, songwriter, and designer.  He founded Londons Times Cartoons in 1997 which have been Google’s #1 ranked offbeat cartoons & funny gifts since 2005.  He is married to popular nature/wildlife photographer Lee Hiller-London who runs the nature blog Hike Our Planet.  They spend much time hiking and enjoying nature in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas which is their home.

The Bernie Madoff Syndrome: How Grover Norquist Did What He Did by Rick London

    

 Whether we admit it or not, to a certain extent we all played “the popularity game” in junior high and high school.

     Hopefully, by the time most of us got to college, we were humbled by the fact that the world was much bigger than the walls of our tiny lower education walls, and there would always be someone stronger, richer, cuter, smarter, more talented, etc.

     And that’s a powerful lesson.  Unfortunately and obviously, not all of us grew out of it.

     Bernie Madoff was able to pull off what he did by using “The High School Popularity System”.   If you remember, the way it worked was to find someone in your grade (or higher) who was more popular than you.  You befriended them, and basically held them hostage.  If your other friends were nice, you made the introduction and the recommendation.  If they weren’t nice, they were banned from your “in group for life” or in the case of high school “until you graduated”.

      Oddly enough, as strange as it may sound, a great many never grew out of that adolescent game.  In fact all those who donated money to Bernie Madoff knew that he was “friends” with Steven Spielberg and a host of other Hollywood icons. Maybe, just maybe if they donated enough to his charities, they too, could finally get the best revenge that they never got enough of in their youth “popularity”, or to which it is referred in adulthood “money, power etc etc yawn”.

      As strange as it may sound, this is the exact model of Grover Norquist.  He drew up a simple pledge that he knew would appeal to the wealthiest in the country (no new taxes).  But something went wrong.  The more savvy among the wealthiest such as Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Walmart Political Super Pac and others, saw through his little game.  Though the Walton kids continued to give money to the GOP (after their candidate Jon Huntsmann lost, the Walmart SuperPac for the first time ever gave more to Democrats than Republicans this election term).  Why?  You tell me. 

      But the Congresspersons who signed it did not.  They felt by signing the pledge, they could then go back to their constituents and say, “Listen, vote for me and I can get you in with some mighty fancy people through this guru named Grover Norquist” (though I doubt they even mentioned his name as they wanted credit for pulling off this magic.)

      The Congresspersons also knew this would appeal to the wealthiest in their own district, giving them yet more leverage in their own districts by offering them untold millions in tax loopholes.

       After the smoke settled, and people realized the little high school game Bernie Madoff was playing to lure his contributors, he went to prison.  As the political dust settled and voters figured out that Norquist couldn’t guarantee a damned thing except that he was willing to “Pledge An Allegiance” to the wealthiest of this country, not to the flag (and for which it stands) decided to move to the Independent Party, or just go ahead and vote for President Obama.  They’d played the game in high school, and many were way too old and smart to play it in adulthood.  

       Besides, such pledges were always temporary and subject to human behavior, moods, health and a million other things.

      There’s a lesson here.  Vote for a candidate who will do the best for the entire country. When the entire country is healthy, so is everyone. 

      Consider that Bill Gates and Warren Buffett didn’t buy into the strange little high school GOP ploy. In fact even WalMart with all its flaws, didn’t either.  And if you’re smart (and now out of high school), neither should you.

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Rick London is a writer/designer/cartoonist living in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas with his wife Lee Hiller-London who is a popular nature photographer and has a blog Hike Our Planet.   London f0unded the Internet’s #1 offbeat cartoons & funny gifts Londons Times Cartoons in 1997.

 

 

 

Never Ever Be Condescending To Those On Entitlement Programs By Rick London

Am not sure why so many of the ignorant of the Top 1% (and the giant parade of 1% wannabes) gloat about “this entitlement society being so sorry”.  Poverty, the need for food stamps, disability assistance, social security and/or government assistance, is very rarely (if ever) the fault of those suffering in poverty.  Nine times out of ten, the person receiving assistance needs it to live due to physical or mental/emotional and in many cases misdiagnosed or  not-yet-diagnosed illness, or a multitude of other legitimate reasons.  Most have never gotten proper medical care. Some have gotten state care, which is often “the basics” at best.  Under The Affordable Health Care Act, they will get dignity and health, something that is deserved by every single American.  A right?  You bet it’s a right.  So is food. No child should go to bed hungry…ever.   Is the system ever abused? Of course it is.  But the percentage is so low, it does not warrant shutting off or cutting back such programs.

 

Ask any economist/scholar.  An entitlement society is a natural reaction to bad business, bad business management, bad hiring/firing, cash-hoarding businesses/entrepreneurs – resulting in money staying stagnant in one region, and a million other bad business decisions.  People don’t just wake up one day and say “I’m going to be poor and ‘get stuff’ from the government”.  More often than not, government assistance is a very last resort, and even then, the recipient has exhausted his/her ideas of how to make their lives work, when everything is gone; and promises of help or hope never arrived. 

 

They more often wake up poor because, generally, they have horrendous business leaders in their cities, and the government was forced to come in and helped.  When I say horrendous that can mean anything from insensitive to self-absorbed to lack-of-vision to not understanding that an entire community is an ecosystem, and what happens in the poorest of neighborhoods affects what happens in the wealthiest and vice versa. 

When we think entitlements we often think of welfare, food stamps etc.  And of course much entitlements go to these programs, and these programs are not bad.  A lot of families (including children and babies) do not go to bed hungry because of them. 

      Around 1930, colleges were going to make it affordable for WW1 Veterans who became homeless but under GOP Herbert Hoover’s administration to go to school.  The government promised a 10K bonus to every returning soldier. Not one got a penny.

 

 Local businesses promised to help, but didn’t.  They were going broke too, under the government of Hoover who was privatizing everything just as had run his huge business conglomerate similar to Bain Capital which Mitt Romney had run.  Colleges said they would lower their prices but couldn’t  because business leaders failed them (and they ended up living in villages of cardboard boxes and tree bark called “Hoovervilles” where most of them died before FDR was elected and founded the GI Bill enabling them to go to college). 

Many in America were against the GI Bill.  They called it “communism”.  Do you think of it that way too? I don’t. At ALL. I’m proud of to live in a country that has such a decent program for honorable men and women who served our country.  Many of them need food stamps and I salute them.  It is their right to eat too.  Anyone who would take that away from them should have to walk a mile in their boots in a war zone.  They might change their minds.

 

So if you are against entitlements, you better add the GI Bill to your list of “Evil Socialist Programs” because it is a socialist program.  Most capitalistic societies like ours have such bills. Australia, UK, Canada, Israel and other of or top allies.  We call them “socialism” in their countries…we call it “The GI Bill in ours”.  It’s socialism, and some socialism is very good.  No country, including ours is 100% capitalistic in which the government has little or no duties.  Hoover tried that and it drove us into the Great Depression within a year of his election.

 

In other words you really do think like Mitt and his 47% (even if you don’t think you) because without the government and its entitlements, all our returning soldiers would be living in boxes and never step foot on a college campus. 

 

The majority of our military’s pay is so low they have to get food stamps to live; even app. 7% of military officers.   And they are giving their all to keep us safe.  You, GOP should be a shame. I hope you’re thinking this through long and hard; that is, your alleged hate of those who “feel entitled”.  Because most of them are.

 

Without The Affordable Health Care Act millions of children would be turned away from treatment due to preconditions.  Many of their parents are disabled or ill. Many are homeless.  There are a million reasons people are in situations they are in (due to fate), and they aren’t “evil” nor is it a “punishment from God”.

 

In addition, keeping the poor down, or not giving them a hand up, creates a vicious cycle that ends up costing the wealthy much more than helping educate them or create jobs for the poor.  We are all creatures of habit.

 

 Though people of all stations in life may get into trouble with the law, drugs, alcohol etc., when the poor do, it often ends up more costly. Why?  The poor are more likely to go to jail, due to lack of proper legal counsel than a person of means who can afford a nice rehab and then back to work or training for a new job. And who pays? You do….I do…or our taxes do.

 

And the cost of housing and feeding a prisoner is about 30 times more costly than a college student.  But since you are so into punishment for “just being poor”, it must be worth it to you.  You need to look within.  That is not the way a civilized advanced society acts.  In fact the very opposite.

 

 So isn’t it in our best interest to try to help them become educated?  To make sure they have proper health care?  And if they can’t work, get enough government assistance to live with dignity? If you don’t think so, it might be time to look within, and know there are people much wealthier than you, who think the same thing about you…and me.  And what do you think of those people’s narrow minds?  Pretty dumb people, aren’t they?  If only they knew how to think things through.

 

No matter how one may feel about this past Presidential Election, or the wealthy, or the poor, or entitlements, one does not have to have a considerably high IQ to know that the GOP politicos and news talking heads who continue to carry the “It was the way the message was delivered” torch are only fools fooling themselves.  It was the message.  Many of them are finding that out. 

 

 It’s easy to blame Mitt Romney, but I don’t think of any other person who could have delivered their message more effectively. It was a rancid horrendous message that is being used in Iran and it appears now Egypt and several other Middle Eastern countries.  It is called a theocracy. 

 

  A theocracy will not work in America.  Do you think by my thinking or saying that that I am anti-religion or anti-Christianity? Anything but. In fact so pro-religion and Christianity (and any other spiritual path one might choose that works for him/her) that I write this blog.  I know that on its own, in a community, helping a community, doing what it does best, a church, synagogue or mosque can be a Godsend to many. It enhances any community.

 

  A lot of people who are not affiliated with a religious community also contribute greatly to our society. When religion becomes legislated it becomes the opposite of what it was meant to be.  For that reason, our founding fathers escaped Merry Old England by the skin of their teeth.  Did they hate Christianity?  No. They simply saw what became of it when it (or any religion) decides to run the government.  It becomes very nasty.

 

I wouldn’t want my religion running government, nor would I even think of inflicting that on anyone.  With all its faults, and it has it’s share, it doesn’t need to be muddled with a business as dirty as politics just to give it more power.   Neither does yours.  Really.   Yours is beautiful just as it is.  Don’t try to ruin it like the Tea Party came very close to doing; and…may still try again. 

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Rick London is an author, songwriter, cartoonist and designer living in the beautiful Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas with his Nature/Photographer Wife Lee Hiller-London founder of Hike Our Planet.  London launched Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts in 1997 and they’ve been Google #1 ranked since 2005 and Bing #1 ranked since 2008.  He has 3 books published on Amazon Kindle and One coffee table book at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  He has created 80,000+ licensed gifts & collectibles bearing his cartoon images at LTCartoons.com.

How Today’s GOP Insured That This Independent Would Probably Never Vote GOP Again

As a couple who was neutral for our 1st 2-3 years on facebook; didn’t even mention politics once, we were allowed to observe. My wife Lee Hiller-London were VERY busy with our work, and didn’t have time to follow politics.  What little I could see, I had pretty much made up my mind I was for Huntsmann.  Lee was building her new brand, and I was expanding my then 13 year old cartoon brand and compiling several books.   Politics was one of the last things on our mind.  We live in a small mountain town where, though people vote, most of them (and us) get along in spite of poltical differences. After all, we’re all Americans with the same goals.

  Our town Hot Springs, Ar has an education demographic a bit higher than the national norm.  We are all keenly aware that political differences are a moot point; that if one must judge another, it should be on character, or one is going to be very disappointed since not all Republicans and not all Democrats are pristine citizens.  But more importantly, character remains head and heels above political or religious dogma.  It’s nice to live in a community with that kind of progressive mindset.  Sometimes it feels like being “a fly on the wall” of some of our Founding Father’s early meetings.

I didn’t dislike Obama but it appeared “nothing was getting done”. (I had not had time to study the GOP Congressional Armada against him). Once I learned the real story from the library of congress, National Archives etc (and not slanted news networks), I was livid. 

By then I was being bullied by this strange theological cult pretending to be the GOP and demanding I love Sarah Palin, then Herman Cain (and their hero/American Patriots) seemed to change with the weather.  I didn’t know who they were, I just knew I was not going to vote for whomever they wanted.  Their bullying was like high school on steroids.

 They demanded lockstep belief, behavior etc and “to vote like them” or be a “socialist Muslim traitor to America” (their words, not mine).  They turned out to be known as “The Tea Party”. So my 1st taste of what the GOP had become reminded me of someone had gotten the keys to the institution and let them all out.  They have not changed, but I surely have.  Finally I decided to listen a little closer to what they were saying.  While they were still trying to figure out who/what I was (why was that so important?), I was watching them watching me.  

They had already concluded I was an Obama supporter when, ironically I was fully behind Huntsmann.  But I dare not tell him; as I felt even that far back that Huntsmann was way too sane for a party with that much hate/judgement etc; and I may have to choose another candidate.  And given the GOP’s choices, it was probably going to be Obama.  And the more they bullied me, the closer I got to liking Obama. And finally I was on his side by default.  It was them trying to “scare me into not voting Obama”, that I knew instinctively he must be the right one, and they knew of something very nasty going on (I would later discover the GOP block of all jobs bills, veterans job bill etc etc etc).  Since I’d not watched much news as it would interfere with school and work, I was vulnerable game for any political party (or theological cult in their case).  I decided to go along with a real political party.  In the famous words of Ronald Reagan, I didn’t abandon them, they abandoned me”.  And big time.  

Though I still think Huntsman would have made a great President in the same vein as Teddy Roosevelt or IKE (I tend to lean more fiscally conservative than most), I also got the real scoop on Romney/Ryan vs Obama.

 Obama makes Romney/Ryan look like Enron when it comes to economic fiscal responsibility. Yes, my reason for voting for Obama is not because Romney is too conservative….it is because Obama really IS conservative…but a real one. A centrist conservative very much like Teddy Roosevelt or IKE.  What is Romney? It, of course,  depends on what day it is, and in which state he is making a speech. Frankly I prefer the “Casual Friday Moderate Mitt”; but that only lasts 12 hours.

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Rick London is an author, designer, cartoonist and songwriter.  He founded Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts in 1997.  They have been Google’s #1 ranked since 2005.  He is married to popular nature/wildlife photographer Lee Hiller-London who runs Hike Our Planet.

1 Million Americans Have TRD But Think They Have Depression Due To A Misdiagnosis by Rick London

Sadly, I still have numerous friends who have dealt with depression and/or other mood disorders and for many years have received treatment to no avail.

Most, by now have read about TRD (Treatment Resistant Depression) and VNS (Vagus Nerve Stimulator). The name itself is a bit of a misnomer, in that it is not depression at all, but creates the same symptoms.  It is a vagus nerve disorder and is a much “closer cousin” to epilepsy (though there are no seizures with TRD); the vagus nerve simply freezes to a certain degree.

It is an estimated 18 million Americans have depression and of that 18 million, app 1 million have TRD) but they are being treated for depression or some other mental illness (and there is no improvement).

I was one of those patients for a number of years (being treated for “garden variety depression” and tried a myriad of treatments, with no real improvement.

Around 1998, I read a magazine article about the clinical trials of VNS which was making a dramatic difference in patients who had tried many other modicums of treatment for a number of years…generally with little or no improvement. The testimonials and initial double-blind studies were showing phenomenal results. Finally I saw hope.  But I would have to be patient.

It was not approved by the FDA for TRD, some seven years later in September 2004. On January 25, 2005, I was one of the few hundred in the U.S. (and one of three in Arkansas) approved for the treatment and had the 45 minute procedure at UALR Medical Center (an implant/pacemaker placed right below the skin in my chest) which, inevitably saved my life).

The battle was still waging between the Giant Pharmaceuticals along with the American Psychiatric Association to try to put a halt to Cyberonics.com’s invention.  They were not able to shut it down, but they made it virtually impossible to receive.

Most psychiatrists do not like losing patients.  If you are eligible for VNS, contact a caseworker at Cyberonics.com in Houston.  They will work to make certain you get an implant.  Chances are very slim you have depression if you’ve been treated with all that is available for the disease.  It is usually inherited.  Did one of your parents take antidepressants (and see little or no improvement over the years)?  It is not always inherited; you may have just noticed it in your own (or a friend’s life).

I just learned today of an insurance company  who is once again covering this expensive (app $40,000 procedure).  I know nothing of this firm; own no stock, and just found this article.  So I am guessing some other insurance companies are now also covering it again (which means the APA and giant pharma are losing ground in the battle).   After the procedure, and the grogginess wore off, something interesting happened.  I didn’t have “depression”, because I never did.  The surgery is performed by an ear, nose, throat surgeon, and is painless, even after awakening.

Many, though still have to continue to take antidepressants. I was one of the lucky ones who did not. The device itself does the trick.  I’ve not experienced “depression” since that time.

If, after many different treatments, you feel it might not be depression after all, talk to your therapist or psychiatrist.  Let them know about VNS.  If they say absolutely that cannot be what it is, I HIGHLY encourage you to contact Cyberonics.com.  A good therapist who cares about your health wants you to try every modicum of treatment to get well.  A bad one, simply wants to keep you to pay his/her home mortgage.

More information on VNS is available at Cyberonics.  After the procedure, you will still be working quarterly with a psychiatrist, simply not the same one you previously had (usually) as only a handful in each state are trained to “tune up” the device. It’s done with a “computer wand” and there is no pain.

This treatment is not for everyone. Many really do have depression. I encourage you to study Vagus Nerve Stimulation on the Internet.  Every major hospital has scholarly studies from Mayo Clinic to Johns Hopkins.  

I write about this about once a year to help those who might have tried everything else, and feels “life will just have to be this way forever”; when nothing could be further from the truth.  If you have any questions, feel free to contact me via Twitter @RickLondon or on facebook http://facebook.com/RickLondon1

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Rick London is an author, cartoonist, and designer.  He founded Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons & funny gifts which have been Google #1 ranked since 2005.  His two cartoon compilation books on Amazon Kindle are also #1 ranked. He is a product/gift designer as well.  He is married to popular nature photographer Lee Hiller-London and together they live and hike in the beautiful Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas. They are active in childrens, animal, nature and green causes.  Both are happy vegans.