A Sonnet for Edward Elric

Considering an attempt to resurrect your dead mother via alchemy? Read this first.

This here free weekly newsletter by John Maher is about cartoons and crying, with a few odds and ends thrown in. Follow @johnhmaher and @tearsfortoons on Twitter, if it suits your fancy. And if you haven’t yet, please sign up for future missives.


Human Transmutation

the elements you thought you knew before
water ammonia carbon salt and lime
silicon saltpeter sulfur iron
fluorine phosphorus and fifteen more
are not enough to build a human life
something you learned as yours was torn away
though it felt lost before even that day
dead mother absent father living rife
already with regret and to endure
you gripped your brother tighter to be sure
the world would never lose another soul
as if none could escape a closer hold
and filled your days with searching for the gone
with making as if that meant moving on


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What I Wrote This Week

The Animaniacs revival is here! I reviewed it for Polygon and, for Vulture, laid out just how an Animaniacs song is made by asking a whole lot of people on the new team how they managed to put together the first original song of the first season.


Tips for the Tooned In

Weekly watching recommendations and more.

What I’m Watching

I will finish the first season of the Animaniacs revival this weekend, I’m sure, but like everyone else who grew up with a dad who loved space opera, right now I am busy watching The Mandalorian, and I have absolutely nothing interesting to say about it. However, my buddy Eric would probably say that if you like it, you should watch one particular four-episode arc from Star Wars: The Clone Wars—not to be confused with Star Wars: Clone Wars, the earlier, overall better show directed by the great Genndy Tartakovsky—that is, to quote some old GChats from Eric, “basically the Vietnam War in space and has redeemed most of my gripes about the clones” in the show, of which, I can confirm, there were many. (Many gripes, many clones.) The arc starts with the episode “Darkness on Umbara,” Eric would tell you, adding that you should go in without any prior knowledge other than this: the 501st Legion featured in the episodes is the group Anakin Skywalker commands, and its troops are frequent supporting characters in the show. Ugh, I’m going to end up watching this tonight, aren’t I?

What I’m Reading

I am not reading. I am rereading. I am rereading Black Forest by Valérie Mréjen, which is translated from the French by Katie Shireen Assef and published by Dallas, Texas–based small press Deep Vellum. I am rereading Black Forest and thinking of death and being silent.

What I’m Listening To

I found the work of Japanese composer Masakatsu Takagi earlier this week after idly clicking through to a playlist Spotify put together for me in 2019 so that I might “broaden my horizons,” which is hysterical, since pretty much every one of the many styles Takagi employs is one I’m already fairly invested in. He’s worked with David Sylvian. He’s scored three of Mamoru Hosoda's films. He scored the Studio Ghibli documentary The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness. Frankly, I’m embarrassed I hadn’t gotten into him before. So I guess sometimes the algorithm is good, actually.

What I’m Cooking

My late grandfather had a secret recipe for ricotta gnocchi, which I plan to make this weekend. I will not share his recipe, but Taste has quite a good one. I've got leftover squash yet again, so my plan is to improvise a butternut miso alfredo, but truly, with gnocchi this light and airy, you really can’t go wrong sauce-wise. Brown butter and sage with shaved Parmesan or pecorino Romano? A creamy mushroom sauce? A simple marinara with fresh basil? Whatever your call is, it’ll be the right one.


Political Cartoon GIF of the Week

The president is still having feelings about the election.


Thanks for reading!

Psst. Hey, you. Got any feedback for me? And what cartoons made you cry this week?

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