The blog of Richard Thompson, caricaturist, creator of "Cul de Sac," and winner of the 2011 Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Countdown to Free Comic Book Day


You can already feel the excitement building as we get closer to Saturday and the nationwide celebration of Free Comic Book Day, or FDCB for short. In honor of FBDC '06, I did this Almanack in, um, 2006. Twelve people probably understood it, but in '07 I did another one on BFDC and thirteen people got that one! This year, if I do a DBFC caratoon, I project an even fourteen readers who'll know what I'm talking about.

And look, you could've gotten a free Little Neuro comic book, just like Petey reads. And who doesn't want to be like Petey? I'll post the Almanack on DCVII '07 tomorrow. And my thanks to Mike Rhode for pulling this off his wall and out of its frame and scanning it for me.

Fun With Anagrams


In the post below about Hogan's Alley magazine I mentioned that it can be anagrammed as Holy Lasagne. To my shame, I got that anagram off of a web anagram generator which, once I typed in "hogans alley", coughed up almost 400 anagrams. I'd never used an anagram generator before, being staunch in my belief that such things should be handmade. But heck, this is a blog, it's not like it's a real job and who has the time to make anagrams for free these days with the price of gas being what it is?

But I remembered this cartoon that I did late in 2001. I found that "Osama Bin Laden" is good for anagrams, though nothing else, and made dozens of them all by hand then picked my favorites and gave them aliases.

And at the time we seemed to've been searching for Bin Laden very hard so I thought this might be of help.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Your Unpleasant Blooms Guide for Spring of Aught-Eight


I've put in all my wild garlic and onion bulbs and the yard is looking just the way I thought it would.

On an unrelated note, how come nobody sings "I'm a Lonely Little Petunia in an Onion Patch" these days?

A Swell Offer!


This Saturday is Free Comic Book Day, that special day when millions of Americans crowd into their favorite comic book store and strip it of merchandise, leaving every spinner rack in the nation empty and forlorn! And here's a special bonus offer from Tom Heintjes, the madcap editor of Hogan's Alley, the nation's premier comic magazine whose name is an anagram for Holy Lasagne.

Take it away, Tom!

"Send us an e-mail ON THAT DATE with your mailing address, and we’ll send you a FREE issue of Hogan’s Alley! No obligations, no strings attached; the only thing it will cost you is several hours as you enjoy the issue. (This offer is valid for all U.S. residents, whether you’re a current subscriber or not.) Remember the one condition--we must receive your e-mail request on Free Comic Book Day, not the day before or the day after."

Tom's email is hoganmag@gmail.com . He's got a two year old daughter, so if you email after 8 p.m. please don't use any exclamation points.

Monday, April 28, 2008

More Old Stuff


This is a coupla years old. It's from a little series where Alice's parents attended back-to-preschool night at Blisshaven Preschool, and her mom found her still awake when they got back. When I redid the series as a daily this part got left out, which was too bad. I like this a lot, the colors are pretty, the acting's good and the situation seems true. What I like about it best is the black background; it was a grey-blue and it looked wrong, so I got mad and inked it all in. And then it looked fine.

Alice's parents do have names, they're Madeline and Peter, but somehow I've never mentioned it.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Today's Poor Almanack


The joke here, if there is one, is that Hillary is posing as the front-runner. Haha!


This Hillary caricature was also posted some months ago so she make look a little familiar. I think I drew it for fun a coupla years back and I've been waiting for a chance to use it since. And I did a Hillary finiger puppet joke last October, but I kinda hated the drawing, so this kills two birds with one stone.


It actually kills a whole flock of 'em, because the first idea I had was to do something like this with Hillary. This one's from about four years ago during a previous exercise in democracy. It's sort of what's called a "wallpaper gag", one where there's a simple repeating image, though this one varies a little. I've also done this with John Kerry and Al Gore, but this one's my favorite, though despite my best efforts the man got elected anyway.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Happy Arbor Day


So I just learned that today is Arbor Day in the state of Virginia. I mean, Commonwealth of Virginia. This is an old drawing I like a lot, and I keep trying to turn it into something bigger, like a watercolor painting, but it's hard to translate something so loose into something more thought-out. Like usual, the stuff where I'm not thinking works best.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Old Strip Until Something Better Comes Along


This is from the Post Mag of a few years ago. I redid it for syndication too, but the watercolor version's prettier. It's poignant, I guess. But I'd really like to know what the cat joke is.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

444 Years Young


April 23rd is Shakespeare's Birthday, and I'm celebrating by drinking lots of orange juice. My wife volunteers as a docent at the Folger Shakespeare Library and on Sunday they're doing their annual birthday party (there'll be cake for everybody so y'all come on down). One of the things they need for a children's craft project is orange juice can lids, lots and lots of them. I think they make jewelry or badges out of them. So we're pitching in and drinking frozen orange juice. or really I am, because nobody else here drinks orange juice (Sunny D doesn't count). My wife also runs the fifth grade Shakespeare program at my daughter's school. This year they're doing Richard III, or at least a forty minute version of it, with a big fight at the end, and the kids got to learn stage combat from a real stage combat specialist. So my house is full of wooden sword parts, handmade wooden-tray shields, costumes and orange juice can lids. And I'm full of vitamin C.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Sky Awareness Week


It's Sky Awareness Week too. What I'm mostly aware of is how much rain the sky is currently dumping on me.

Earth Day


Here are some thoughtful cards you can give the Earth today.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

It's Still National Poetry Month


So I might as well squeeze some more jokes out of it. Last year for NPM I just illustrated one of my favorite poems, but I can't find the drawing now. The poem goes like this:

Mary had a little lime,
And quite a lot of gin,
And everywhere that Mary went,
She didn't know she'd been.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

(blush)


This is from the Washington City Paper, the Paper of Record in this town (even if they did drop most of their comics and Rob Ullman's excellent illustrations, what were they thinking?). If you see it in the Washington City Paper it's so, like Virginia O'Hanlon's father said about the New York Sun. And thank you, Mark Athatakis, from this now officially designated Local Institution.

And congratulations to Mike Rhode whose blog, Comics DC, won for (Comic) Art Blog.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Wright, Obama & Audience


This was done for last week's New Yorker. Reading left to right; Wright, Douglass, King, X and Obama. I don't usually enjoy "crowd scenes" but I liked drawing this. Frederick Douglass alone is one of the great faces in history and I'd like to draw him again, and larger.

A Milestone in Comics History


Here's a piece of phony Comics History, presented to you a few days early so you can plan how best to ignore it. Back in 2000 the Post ran a daily feature called The Century in the Post, reprinting whatever article was most interesting for that day from the last hundred years, duh. And the feature looked a lot like this parody, except it wasn't hand-lettered and it wasn't made up. I'll come clean and admit that I don't know when Dagwood first took a nap on his sofa, but I'll guess that I chose the date August 18th because I couldn't think of anything else to draw for that week.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Baseball


My younger daughter, who goes everywhere, went to a Nationals game today in their new stadium, the first in our family to make it there. We've all been to 6 or 7 games in the old RFK stadium and I'm looking forward to trying out the new place. I'm not a big sports fan, but sitting in the bleachers with a beer & a hot dog and trying to pay attention to what's happening on the field is one of my ideas of a good time. The first few games we attended I kept trying to explain the game and the stats, but kept hitting a wall of ignorance, especially with the stats. So we just watched and cheered whenever the Nats did something obviously good. And stretched in the seventh inning.

This was drawn for a special all-Nationals edition of the Post Magazine back in aught-five. Dad is explaining things to Alice, with probably the same level of competence that I did. But it looks like they're enjoying themselves. And, if you look closely, you'll notice they stretch in the seventh inning.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Today's Poor Almanack


The new, improved and relocated Newseum had its official opening this week, hence the above cartoon, which I thought of early in the week then put off drawing till two hours before it was due. On Friday the Newseum offered free admissioin, but as an adult ticket usually costs $20 I'm not sure how soon I'll visitor how often. When it was in Rosslyn VA, right across the river from Georgetown, I got there three or four times, but it was free then. The new Newseum sure looks nice from the outside, but it seems a little overbearing and grandiose and I mostly agree with Jack Shafer of Slate.com who wrote a very funny piece on it a few months back. And the Newseum bills itself as the world's most interactive museum and I don't know about you but, being standoffish and lazy I don't really like things too interactive. If it's just pushing buttons to make the little lights in the map light up or the millwheel in the little model gristmill spin that's one thing, I love stuff like that and the old American History Museum always had lots of it. But the Newseum seems to demand a much more intense level of commitment, plus it's all in hi-def 4-D which for me gets creepy real fast. And the way things are going, someday real soon the Newseum'll have on exhibit the Last Edtion of The American Daily Newspaper, taxidermied and displayed in a helium-filled case, with low lighting to preserve it from fading and a sign saying No Flash Photography. And a button to push so the pages will turn.

Maybe I'll revise my opinion of it if I actually go see the Newseum, and if they ever install a Hall of My Cartoons I'll deny ever having doubts about the place.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Un Lavoro Bello


I got a very nice email today from Diego Ceresa, the translator who's doing a beautiful job of making Cul de Sac comprehensible in Italian so it can appear in the comic magazine Linus. I've wished for years that I'd learned Italian at some point as it's the language of Art, Music and Food, and it sounds like fun to speak. As it is, the only Italian I know is that provided by babelfish.altavista.com, where I just typed in "cul de sac" and got it translated into Italian as "cul de sac". So it's universal, which is a relief. "Bottom of the bag", the literal English translation of "cul de sac", translates as "parte inferiore de sacchetto", which sounds delicious and reminds me it's lunchtime.

Molto grazie, Diego!

And now, thanks to babelfish-

Ho ottenuto oggi un email molto piacevole da Diego Ceresa, il traduttore che ha fare un lavoro bello di rendere Cul de Sac comprensibile in italiano in modo da può comparire nello scomparto comic Linus. Ho desiderato per gli anni che italiano istruito ad un certo punto poichè è la lingua dell'arte, della musica e dell'alimento e suona come divertimento parlare. Mentre è, gli unici italiani che conosco sono che hanno fornito da babelfish.altavista.com, dove ho scritto appena "in cul de sac" ed ottenuto esso tradotto in italiano come "cul de sac". Così è universale, che è un rilievo. "la parte inferiore del sacchetto", la traduzione in inglese letterale "di cul de sac", traduce come "parte inferiore de sacchetto", che suona squisito e mi ricorda esso è l'ora di pranzo. Grazie di Molto, Diego!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Ides of April

I hate to say it, but here it is that time of year, April being the cruelest month and all. You know that if it says "From the IRS" it must be real, too.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Monday, April 7, 2008

Gene Weingarten Blows Lid Off Subway Fiddler Mystery; Wins Pulitzer


And richly deserved too. I hope you all read his Wash Post Mag story about Joshua Bell busking in the DC Metro. If not, go do it now . And watch the video of Bell in the subway. It's a fascinating piece, and it makes you wonder, what would you do if you were unexpectedly confronted with Beauty, Art & Genius in a wholly unlikely place? Especially if Beauty, Art & Genius was playing for throw money?

And my apologies for the above image. In several years of drawing Gene for his column this is the only one that looked remotely like him. Back in the early 90s, for about 5 years, I illustrated a column by Joel Achenback called Why Things Are that Gene edited (Joel & Gene, along with several others Post staffers, had migrated north from he Miami Herald when that paper took an editorial nose-dive). When Joel ended the column Gene asked me if I'd like to try a weekly cartoon, which eventually became Richard's Poor Almanac, and he was my editor for the first few years. So I owe Gene bigtime. And for a while on the side I illustrated Gene's column in the Post Magazine, where I'd often get to draw him and his fabulous mustache.

Update, here's another one, and not as mean, kinda-

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Belated Haydn's Birthday Fun Facts


Oops, his birthday was March 31st.

Today's Poor Almanack

Thanks to recent advances in technology I can now offer the latest up-to-the-minute Almanack the same day it appears in the Washington Post. So here's the one for today. As far as I can tell the only real joke is that it's all about comics but there's almost no actual drawing in it. Next time I'll try for no drawing at all, and no jokes either, and sign it "George F. Will" and see if anybody notices.

Enterprising Reporter Blows Lid Off Cartoonist's Embarrassing Secret


If you read it in the San Antoinio Express-News it must be true !

A Handy Map for Your Visit to the Damn Cherry Blossoms

We're going down to the Tidal Basin tomorrow to see what's left of the cherry blossoms.My wife's aunt & uncle, two of my favorite people, will join us down there, so I hope the blossoms haven't washed away in the rain.

When I was a kid we'd go down to the Tidal Basin at night to see the blossoms, and there'd be 3 or 4 military searchlight trucks positioned at intervals around the Basin. They'd sweep across the water, lighting up the blossoms and it was nice to see. I always loved searchlights when I was a kid and whenever we'd see one in the sky I'd want to go find it, which led my obliging parents to take me to a number of car dealerships and store openings. But I remember the lights down at the Basin in particular, and how whatever was used to fuel the flare in its central lamp (magnesium?) would hiss and how you couldnt look directly at it for more than a few seconds. I still like searchlights and whenever I see one in the sky (or several, as everybody uses those synchronized quadruple light gizmos) I get all excited and want to go find them. I'm easily amused.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Take a Poet to Lunch!

It's true! It's National Poetry Month! Here, something to help you celebrate, and so much better than that lousy CGI movie.

More Damn Cherry Blossoms

It's still Cherry Blossom Time in DC. And look, another cherry blossom cartoon. Did I mention I've got a million of these? Thankfully, it's in black and white instead of some vivid pink that sticks in your retina all day.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

First Petey

This is the first appearance of Petey, on February 15th 2004, in the second strip published in the Wash Post Magazine. He's changed only slightly; I think I like his hair better here. And below this strip is an Almanac cartoon from maybe ten years ago. See? It all fits together. Someday I'll figure out how every drawing I've ever done is a small piece of a larger picture, and my personality will then be so integrated that I'll be issued a certificate of guaranteed sanity by whoever's in charge of such things. Then I won't know what to do with myself.



I think the Captain Busybody strip just proves that superheroes are impossible to parody, unless the parody takes the form of Herbie or the Tick.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Did You Know?

A public service announcement from the American Society for the Cripplingly Self Conscious.

More Cherry Blossom Time

Haha! I've got a million of 'em!

Okay, well, three or four maybe.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Cherry Blossom Time

This is Cherry Blossom Time in DC, which means the Cherry Blossom Festival, Parade, Princes and Tourists. At their peak the cherry blossom trees around the Tidal Basin are just overwhelmingly lovely, and as jam-packed as the trail circling the Basin gets it's always worth the hassle to get down there and see them. I doubt I'll make it this year but I hope you all will. For those who don't there's this Almanac from about 7 years ago. At least some of the facts are true (the number of pancakes is pretty accurate if my math's right) but one thing's completely wrong; the blossoms are nowhere near this pink, they're a luminous white with a pinkish cast. But vivid pink's more fun to draw, or paint, and I have kitschy taste.

Save Spot the Frog


Mark Heath, who draws the poetically comic strip Spot the Frog, is trying to keep the first Spot book in print. He's got a pretty ingenious way to do it, too. Click here to learn what you can do. Hurry! Remember, frogs are the parakeets in the global mineshaft!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Deadline Zombie


Tom Richmond's got a Deadline Demon on his blog. So I'm calling mine a Deadline Zombie, and I'm fightin' him right now.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Easter (at least the bunny part)


And let's celebrate Easter a day early. This makes slightly more sense if you know that the Almanac runs in the Post Style section right next to Doonesbury. If I remember right, the editor's only question was if the spelling of "Bunsy" was intentional. I do remember that drawing the rabbit was a lot of fun. It makes me want to illustrate some Beatrix Potter stories, which'd be a classic case of carrying coals to Newcastle.

A few years ago the Smithsonian hosted a traveling exhibition of Beatrix Potter that included a lot of drawings, letters and ephemera. One of the first things you saw when you walked in was a huge blow up of one of the iconic Peter Rabbit illustrations, the one where he's gnawing on a carrot, enlarged to like ten feet tall. On the opposite wall was the original drawing, and it was so small you could've hidden it with your thumb. Something about drawing little twee English animals wearing vests and cravats and such is awfully appealing. Though probably the dream job for an illustrator would be Alice in Wonderland, which has the little twee animals plus an assortment of visually arresting creatures and grotesques. It's hard to improve on the original drawings by John Tenniel, but many have tried and a few have succeeded to some extent, like Ralph Steadman and Peter Newell and Deloss McGraw.

But anyway, Happy Easter, and may all your chocolate rabbits be solid.

Spring


Let's welcome Spring just a coupla days late.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Higher Pie

Make the Pie Higher is something from a simpler time, when it was sufficien to make fun of Bush's tongue-tied pronouncments instead of tearing him a new one for his disastrous policies. It was drawn the week of Bush's first inaugural, when the lack of an Official Inaugural Poet who'd read an Official Inaugural Poem caused a mild controversy. It's a free verse poem assembled from old Bush malapropisms, and when I did it I was a little nervous that it made no sense and not much of a point. But it leaked out on the web and got a little notoriety, and it got set to music five or six times. If I knew how to market this stuff I'd've made some money, but as it is I'm glad that whoever first posted it on the web put my name to it, though mistakenly elevating me to a Washington Post writer. The drawing hasn't been published since its first appearance 7 years ago and for a while it was lost somewhere in my studio, which swallows drawings at a volume way out of proportion to its size.


See also here.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

St. Patrick's Day SpecPatular!


March

March is one of my favorite months. It seems to have more character than most months, with all the Lion/Lamb stuff, and during March the weather goes a littlte crazy. Which, as long as it's not too crazy, is just fine by me, especially as the Vernal Equinox hits around the 20th of March.

I did this Almanac poem to March about 8 years ago. The day after it appeared snow fell briefly in DC. It's the one instance of actual prescience I can claim. And I liked the poem enough to shorten it up and use it as a jump rope rhyme for Alice.



Here's another March poem which I falsely attribute to Carl Sandburg.

March comes in on Lion's paws,
Then more Sheepishly withdraws.,
Makes a big mess while it's here,
Drunk on green-dyed Irish beer.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Local History; James Thurber in Falls Church


I live in Arlington, Virginia, which is both a town and a county. About a mile west from my house is the county line beyond which is the city of Falls Church, Virignia. If you head in the other direction and go four miles east you'll cross the Potomac and then you're in Washington DC.

From 1901 to 1903 cartoonist and author James Thurber lived with his family in Washington. He wasn't yet a cartoonist or author, he was mostly a small boy, who'd been born in Columbus Ohio in 1894. His father, Charles Thurber, had moved the family to DC when he was hired as a stenographer to a Justice Department commission headed by an Ohio congressman, and the Thurbers rented a house on I street in Washington. The hot summers and thick humidity DC is known for prompted them to rent a second house out of town for the month of August in 1902. They picked one at 319 Maple Avenue in Falls Church, VA, away from the city heat.

The house had a large yard with apple trees and pear trees, and a hedge around it, a good yard to play in for James and his brothers William and Robert. One Sunday afternoon, William was fooling around with a toy bow and arrow set, and he told James to stand over by the fence and he'd shoot him in the back with one of the rubber arrows. William took his time lining up his shot and James got impatient and turned around just as William let fly. The arrow struck James square in the left eye. His mother took him to a GP who dressed the eye, which hurt some but wasn't bothering him too much. But several days later it seemed to worsen and she took him to an opthamologist who recommended the eye be removed immediately.

The accident eventually caused Thurber's blindness later in life and he blamed the lack of more immediate drastic care for the effect it had on his right eye. And the accident profoundly affected his work, as he drew larger and larger and used ever thicker lenses to make sense of the visual world.

If you leave my house, drive about a mile and a quarter down Lee Highway and turn right on West Columbia Street, then left on North Maple Avenue, you'll come to a dead end street called James Thurber Court.The name of the court is thanks to Mrs. Elizabeth Acosta, a Thurber fan from Falls Church who struck up a correspondence with him in the late fifties, during the course of which she discovered that she was living in the house next to where he lived as a boy in August of 1902. When 319 Maple Ave. was pulled down in the early 60s to make way for townhouses, Mrs. Acosta pushed for the newly created cul-de-sac to be called after its most famous previous resident.



I'm going to walk over there some day this spring and take a photo of the street sign, but I'll keep my head down. Sounds like a dangerous neighborhood.

My thanks to Bob Burnett for telling me about this.

Monday, March 10, 2008

That Woman Again

This was drawn last week for the New Yorker. Smack dab in the middle of doing sketches of Hillary falling off pedestals, falling off a donkey, falling off everything, she won some more state primaries and the whole story changed. I was also doing sketches for a similar story for the Atlantic. So everybody scrambled and this drawing was the result, at least of my scrambling. Whatever you may think of Hillary Clinton, we can all agree that she does have a pretty rubbery face, for which I'm grateful.



And I gotta say, every time I pick up a copy of the New Yorker I'm awed by the caricatures Tom Bachtell draws for them, sometimes five or six in each issue. Every face is spot on and he never repeats himself. Makes me cry.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Slowing Down

For some reason our internet connection has slowed down in the last few days. Images and stuff take forever to load; it's almost like back in the days of dial-up. At first I thought maybe it was me, maybe I'd suddenly developed super-powers and was moving real fast and everything just seemed slow to my super-reflexes because, you know, it's all about relativity, And that'd be a boon if I wanted to get ahead on my deadlines, which were especially brutal this week, and if I was the Flash I could draw enough strips to last through next Christmas. But it looks like it's just the internet being slow.

I don't think I'd pick super-speed as my super-power. I've always thought the ability to stay awake indefinitely would be the most useful power, or the ability to make someone's foot fall asleep by staring at it, which'd be a hoot at social gatherings. Whatever, the point I set out to make is that I'm not going to post anything real graphicky, with bells & whistles & funny drawings, until the connection gets a little more up to speed. So until then, please feel free to leave a message with a good joke.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Antsy Times

We all know these are antsy times in the world of newspapers, right? Here are some improvements oughta help a whole lot.

On the subject of Lynn Johnson's For Better or For Worse, I'm guessing eventually the Patterson family will come unstuck in time, like Billy Pilgrim in Slaughterhouse 5, and start bouncing between now and then and next week on a daily basis. Or maybe, like the citizens of Grover's Corners in Our Town, they'll be simultaneously in the here and the hereafter. Or they'll just move to Santa Royale and get bossed around by Mary Worth.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Happy Birthday, Ronald Searle

Master penman Ronald Searle turns 88 today. Here's his illustration for the song "National Brotherhood Week" from the book Too Many Songs by Tom Lehrer With Not Enough Drawings by Ronald Searle. The original hangs in my dining room, just waiting to offend an unsuspecting diner. I think it's the only piece of art I've ever bought, and when I first unwrapped it I studied it for almost an hour, sometimes with my nose an inch from the paper. Look at those hands! just clumps of fingers sprouting out of sleeves, and look at the way he's laid out the page in bendy chains of rectangles, and jeez, all those gormless-looking faces...

I've heard that Searle plans his work pretty carefully and his unmistakably wiry, sprung lines are laid down with a lot more control than might be apparent. His work always makes me aware of how liquid ink is, how it skips and splotches and pools when it hits the paper. For a long time his style exerted a tidal pull on me, as it has at some point for a lot of cartoonists for over sixty years. Though he used to draw not with ink, but with a kind of stain meant for I think furniture. He liked it because it aged interestingly into a greyish purple, and because it handled differently than regular ink. They don't make that brand of stain anymore, and he's drawn with regular ink for years, and better than just about anyone else.

Happy Birthday to Mr. Searle, and I hope he's well and working in his converted windmill in the French countryside.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Important Touchy Subject Vaguely Alluded To

Here's an Almanac that bravely almost mentions an important issue but deftly avoids it for a cheap laugh, like usual.

My favorite is the Shaker. You so rarely come across a good Shaker joke these days, but you so rarely come across a Shaker either. I did see a Shaker once, she came to our school in 8th grade to present a program on her religion. I don't think she gained any converts, but it was interesting and, as we'd coincidentally been doing a week of drug-awareness programs, a little confusing in context. I went to a Quaker school up till 10th grade, and I can claim some pretty thick Quaker heritage, but there weren't many Quakers attending the school. Our third grade teacher, Mrs. Harker, was Quaker and sometimes used thee and thou and did it unaffectedly. She was cool and funny and told great stories (the best one was about how she somehow managed to get her car stuck up in a tree). Nowadays if someone asks my religious affiliation I usually say "lapsed Quaker", then I hope they ask how do you become a lapsed Quaker so I can tell them you sucker-punch a Buddhist. It's a lousy joke and no one's ever laughed at it, but someday they might.