2013 Highlights: Hauled Aboard a Boat in Norway Like a Limp Whale

My 2013 year-end letter where I write about jumping off a boat to go skinny-dipping without thinking how I might get back on board, and the jaw-dropping price of banana splits in Norway.

December 2013

Dear Family and Friends,

I haven’t written a year-end letter in years. Not sure why: most likely laziness. I’m not even sure why I’m writing this one. It’s not as though I’ve got anything really interesting to say. My life is quiet, comfortable, and to an outsider, probably dull. I’m still cartooning full-time and I hope I make some folks smile every day.

Google changed its algorithm and made it easier than ever for folks to swipe stuff. I make the plea on my site, “If you wouldn’t steal from a blind newsvendor just because you can get away with it, please don’t steal my cartoons.” Sad to say, there must be a lot of blind newsvendors ripped off on a regular basis. Consequently, I hired Watermelon Web Works, a web design company in Portland, to help me overhaul my site, mchumor.com. They advertise that they have “organic internet solutions.” Not sure what that means. I hope it doesn’t mean the site will start to biodegrade shortly after we re-launch it early next year.

BTW, both my books, Cartoons from a Slightly Warped Mind and Holy Rollers: Murder and Madness in Oregon’s Love Cult are now available as eBooks.

This year Norway had the hottest summer on record since 1946. I know this because I was wilting there while visiting Peter, my brother, Anne, my sister-in-law and Alex, my seven-year-old nephew. Anne’s father has an ancient wooden sailboat that we spent some days on. One evening Peter jumped into the water and I, fortified by booze, jumped in after him yelling, “Don’t worry, baby brother, I’ll save you.” I have no idea what I was saving him from. Did I mention I was fortified by booze? Peter easily climbed back on board. I did not. There was no ladder and I did not have the coordination or strength to pull myself up without assistance. I imagined the way they hauled me back aboard was a bit like the way they haul in great white whales. Did I mention we were all nude? Perhaps another reason the image of a whale flashed through my mind is that Norway still hunts whales and I’d been invited to a BBQ where one of the meats served was whale.

Alex had brought along a friend, Casper, and while Alex laughed hysterically through the whole incident, Casper’s eye bulged. I think they may still be bulging. It was the first time Casper had ever spent a night away from home and we all wondered what his parents thought as he told them of his adventures. “Casper,” I imagined them saying, “Stop making up stories.”

My eyes are still bulging after stopping at a café to buy Alex an ice cream and Peter and myself a beer. A scoop of ice cream was $7, and a glass of beer was $15. $15! That’s for a glass. Not a pitcher, not a pint, but a mere glass. And a banana split? $30. Despite the high price of everything, the restaurants and shops were crowded; I saw no evidence of poverty or homelessness, and encountered only three panhandlers, elderly Romanian women.

Like many his age, Alex wants to be a paleontologist when he grows up, so I brought him a Mickey Mouse backpack filled bones and skulls I’d collected over the years. I guess airport screeners see everything because I worried needlessly that I might be stopped because of the booty. Alex liked the bones, but I wasn’t able to tell him much about them because, like many his age, he knows everything. “I know that,” he says when you tell him anything: whether you’re telling him how to identify what an animal eats by the shape of its teeth or whether he’s got a piece of lettuce stuck in his own teeth. It’s a wonder they bother sending him to school. He knows everything. What can I say? He’s brilliant, cute, adorable, and a bit obnoxious

After dissecting a calf in science class and holding its heart, Katie, my 13-year-old neighbor who refers to me as her “Crazy eccentric Aunt” announced that she wants to be a cardiothoracic surgeon when she grows up. It’s pretty ambitious for someone who’s dyslexic, but hey, Einstein and Edison had trouble reading, so I’m cheering her on.

I hope all is well with you and yours.


Christmas Cartoon 9171: "The Reindeer Got a Better Gig." Santa is dropping gifts into a chimney from a lawn chair tied to balloons.

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