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OPINION | BRENDA LOOPER: As the crank turns

by Brenda Looper | June 16, 2021 at 2:00 a.m.
Brenda Looper

Did I ever like summer in Arkansas? Right now, I'm not so sure, and it's not even officially summer yet.

When I was a kid, there were things that made it not seem so bad: Vacation Bible School, July 4ths that usually involved burgers by Shadow Lake and fireworks on the Greenwood square after dark, the occasional trip with friends to go swimming (though it was floating for me since I don't swim).

Now it's days when the air conditioner can barely keep up and the odd trip outside for a few minutes results in me drenched with sweat and being inordinately cranky.

Don't mistake me: I love Arkansas. I was born and raised here, and will probably be here until I die. But, c'mon, you have to admit that we're not so hospitable in hot weather. And why does it feel like August already? It's making me actually miss the big freeze we had.

So since I'm cranky already, let's talk about what makes me crankiest right now.

• Humidity.

Even though my hair is just above my shoulders, it doesn't take much to make it so frizzy that it could probably be seen from the International Space Station. OK, not really, but it feels like it. Walk outside to get the mail or to pull the trashcan back to its spot, and I might as well have run a marathon.

Forget finishing yardwork that really needs to be done, especially after that week of rain that kicked everything into high gear. I think I'll sit inside in the dark, rewatch "Downton Abbey," and take a cold shower before bed. Outside can swelter without me.

Michael Storey could wring laughs out of humidity, but I can't. That's one more reason he's missed.

• Talking points.

Talking points are OK if used sparingly by spokespeople and are veered away from if necessary to provide context. However ... for some, talking points (especially the false ones) have become articles of faith from which you cannot divert. I'm assuming this is because information is bad, so we must reduce access to it at all costs, even if it means we look like dolts.

Between talking points being blindly adhered to and the zero-sum politics we have now (complete with "fill in the blank" insults to be used for the opposition), it's nearly impossible for me to get through a day without seeing at least five seriously offensive things (to thinking people) in my emails or social media feeds.

I long for the days when we actually think for ourselves instead of taking the lead of a political party (one more reason I refuse to join a party). When you do that, you have a greater tendency to see the validity in opposing arguments, and to see others as fellow humans rather than animalistic enemies.

• The Pulitzer committee.

Seriously? No editorial cartoon prize this year? Ken Fisher (drawing as Ruben Bolling), Lalo Alcaraz and Marty Two Bulls Sr. are all worthy finalists, and any would be worthy of winning. I would argue, though, that our own John Deering would be worthy of being a finalist as well, if not winner, as he had remarkable cartoons in 2020, some of the best of his career, in my humble opinion. Considering the declining ranks of working editorial cartoonists, not giving an award this year seems especially egregious. The last time no award was given for editorial cartooning was 1973.

I'm not the only one flabbergasted by this decision. The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists issued a statement Friday after the committee tweeted that no prize would be awarded this year.

"The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists strongly disagrees with the decision by the Pulitzer Board to award no Pulitzer Prize in Editorial Cartooning in 2021," the statement read. "We are mystified by the pointed rejection of talented finalists as well as the many other artists who have been creating powerful work in these most eventful and challenging of times.

"The medium of editorial cartooning has been evolving for many years now, yet the Pulitzer board remains extremely traditional and narrow-minded in its tastes, apparently uncomfortable with contemporary trends in opinion cartooning and comic art. Last year the board discarded the jurors' choices and selected its own winner; this year represents a new low in this trend of insularity and institutional hubris."

To add insult to injury, reportedly entry fees won't be returned. No one should be surprised next year if there are fewer entrants, and not just because there are fewer cartoonists.

One more thing that makes me cranky: Bullies.

I've had it up to here (remember, I'm a very short person) with people who harass and abuse others, especially if it's because they have nothing better to do. There are more than enough horror stories to make some of us never want to deal with the public again. Why harass a waitress, barista, customer service rep, or anyone else? Why expect special treatment?

You get a lot further when you treat others as humans. Workers are just trying to pay their bills, and don't deserve to be abused for no good reason.

And you really should know better than to bully someone who handles your food. Just saying.

Assistant Editor Brenda Looper is editor of the Voices page. Read her blog at Email her at

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