CSotD: If it’s Friday, it’s Meet the Funnies

This week’s story arc in Betty has them contemplating the collection of snow globes they’ve accumulated in their travels, with the central question being “Why on earth did we accumulate all these snow globes?”

Apparently, they weren’t being ironic, though snow globes from tacky gift shops might be an interesting thing to collect. And by “interesting” I mean they wouldn’t take up much room and they’d certainly start some conversations, though mostly the one going on in the strip this week.

Gift shops are so full of ridiculously tacky crap that it’s hard to believe they aren’t doing it on purpose, having found that gag gifts sell really well. I bought a coffee mug at Graceland on the basis that I could use it in the office with no danger of it wandering off.

But I suppose what they’ve found is that, to put it politely, you can’t anticipate public taste and as long as you buy cheap things, you can lay out quite a variety.

Or, to put it less charitably, that tacky crap sells really well, and not just as gag gifts.

Which seems to be the basis of our economy. I just bought a bowl for the puppy and had a hell of a time finding one that didn’t say something like “Yum!” on the bottom.

First of all, I have never had a dog who needed additional motivation to eat.

Second, I’ve never had one for whom uncovering a clever message in the bottom of the bowl would be an incentive.


While I’m still in rant mode, here’s this past Sunday’s Edison Lee, which gave me flashbacks to when I was polite (It was a long time ago. You probably weren’t here.) and allowed a pollster to ask me questions.

And thereby got signed up for the 12-calls-a-week plan, which makes me question the random nature of these things, though I guess if you find anyone who’s willing to be polled, you need to hang on to them.

Which brings up a related issue.

Charlie Sykes was talking to PJ O’Rourke on the Bulwark podcast recently and they were laughing about a reporter who had interviewed a typical local woman.

While she sat outside a bar having a drink.

At 8:30 in the morning.

I’m not sure “people who are willing to be polled” is a much more reliable indicator of across-the-board public opinion than that.

A poll came out the other day that said most Millennials and Gen-Z’s don’t know about the Holocaust, which got a lot of shocked coverage and which I think shows that somebody doesn’t know how to conduct a poll.

Or else knows how to conduct one that turns out right.

Most states have had the Holocaust on their curricula for a couple of decades, and schools often devote a whole week to the topic, including having survivors come address classes. And the Pew Research Center also has a poll that shows some gaps in knowledge, but nothing as shocking as the purported ignorance revealed in that poll.

I’m not asserting any motivation for those shocking results. But I don’t believe them.


Speaking of schools and learning and suchlike, there are all sorts of Zoom-class jokes running around and they’re mostly kind of the same and not all that funny, but Maria Scrivan cracked me up with this Half Full.

I was going to remark that young Master Potato Head’s trick would have been easier when he was made of Styrofoam rather than hard plastic, but couldn’t find a reference for when that happened.

However, the Wikipedia article does note that he was originally a real potato, which would certainly make it work.

It also notes that

On April 30, 1952, Mr. Potato Head became the first toy advertised on television. The campaign was also the first to be aimed directly at children; before this, commercials were only targeted at adults, so toy advertisements had always been pitched to parents.

There is a soupcan of illogic in that: If it was first, there weren’t any previous ones pitched at anybody.

But, whatever the tangles of the claim, it brings to mind that, in Quebec, you’re not allowed to advertise to children on TV, and you don’t have to say “Hey, kids!” to get in trouble. A TV commercial got yanked up there because it showed cookies jumping off a diving board into a glass of milk, which regulators determined appealed to children, not adults.

No wonder Canadians grow up to be so civilized.


Wedding Bell Blues

Dethany and Guy have run into a pandemic problem over at Fastrack, though, like his dad, my disappointment would be muted.

I don’t much like weddings, though our wedding was really cool.

We put it together ourselves, we only had about 40 people there and we hired a legendary Boulder band.

We were going to have it on Mount Evans but rethought things in light of the 14,000 foot elevation, the challenging road and the number of grandparents involved, so instead we borrowed an Episcopal church in Denver from her brother’s college roommate’s father, the rector, who also signed the certificate, since the ceremony was performed by an ex-priest who’d lost, or renounced, his collar after arguing with his conservative superiors over the Farm Workers’ Strike in the San Luis Valley.

The only  weddings better than that are second weddings. By then, all the Barbie-and-Ken fantasies have been worked out of the system.

Everybody should skip the first wedding and the first marriage and go straight to the sequel.


But to give Fastrack a second shot today, I’ve got a niece getting first-time married who basically just told everyone it would be a quiet wedding and a good party, so they could show up or not and it would be cool either way, and then the pandemic made showing up even more problematic, which means it probably will be an even cooler wedding for those who make it.

I like their attitude so much I (almost) wish I were going myself.

And speaking of attitude …

Best Second Wedding Ever

12 thoughts on “CSotD: If it’s Friday, it’s Meet the Funnies

  1. The “drinking in the morning” reference makes me wonder if most have never worked nights—I am pretty confident that Funny O’Writer hasn’t. When I worked 2300-0700 … ugh, forty years ago … we would occasionally go get “breakfast” and then repair to a bar when they opened at 0800 for “breakfast club.”

    Not a serious difference from the socially-acceptable trip to the bar in the evening, but I’m sure all the upstanding citizens thought we were soaks.

    Selection bias is certainly a tough problem. It makes me curious what the reliability of the typical poll is and then wonder why they’re reported on so heavily. Then I remember cost-cutting in the news biz and the ever-expanding “news hole” and I shake myself and turn to the comics.

  2. Tourist junk-shop items are a real hoot. I still have my rubber alligator from a family trip to Florida. In Missouri, I purchased a collection of minerals, attached to a piece of cardboard. One of them was asbestos. Ah, the good old days!

  3. Two items on selection bias:

    “Other pollsters complain about declining response rates, but our poll showed that 96% of respondents would be ‘somewhat likely’ or ‘very likely’ to agree to answer a series of questions for a survey.” That’s the associated text for https://xkcd.com/2357/ from last week.

    And I may have already mentioned a story in one of the then-two newspapers in Urbana-Champaign IL back in the 1970s, when one of the local sheriffs was talking about setting up sobriety checkpoints on roads in his county. Sent out to get local reaction the reporter went to a bar in late morning, where he found someone who averred that sobriety checkpoints were “a form of Communism.”

  4. My second wedding featured our about-to-be blended kids as our attendants, a model rocket launch, a surprise mariachi band instead of a recessional, and a reception at the local nature/science center.

    A+++ would do again.

  5. A fun thing to do at gift shops is to turn the items over and look for the price tag placement on the bottom. We’ve discovered in our travels that the more upscale shops very carefully place the price stickers so that they cover the “MADE IN CHINA” stamp.

  6. Somebody in Chicago in the 70s — perhaps Bob Greene, before he got too full of himself — began writing about how “man on the street” too often was “man in the bar” and it helped bring an end to the easy interview that made Royko famous.

    Mike Beede is right about due deference to shift workers, but, still, people who are out wandering around in the middle of the day are not likely to be fair representatives of average people.

    My opinion on the topic being skewed by how much I hated doing those stupid things. I’ve interviewed people whose house just burned to the ground, whose bank was just robbed and who were suspects in murder cases (well, only one of those), and I’d rather do that than accost some person on the street and ask how they feel about this weather we’ve been having.

  7. Ya gotta be careful with those cheap souvenirs. A Mexican-American co-worker once gave me a souvenir mug from the south side of the Rio Grande for a Christmas gift exchange. It sported four pictures of the crossing and various buildings nearby.

    It lasted just fine through several hand-washings, but the first time we put it in the dishwasher, nearly all the blue and much of the red ink washed away.

    But I’ve read that 82% of respondents in a recent poll preferred muted pastel colors on their coffee mugs.

  8. In Stats I learned how pollsters can make a poll say whatever they want it to say. It’s surprisingly easy. Just what is an “average person” anyway? I’ll argue there is no such thing. You start out with a broad set of criteria, and then narrow it down, eventually, to the individual. What constitutes “average” is inherently biased, and based on preconceptions of what constitutes “normal.”

  9. I just got a reminder that I would be getting a survey after having my car serviced with “Please know the only passing marks are EXCELLENT and STRONGLY AGREE”. Polls or surveys are so self-serving that they really don’t say anything.

  10. Chris — different kind of poll, but you’re right about the lack of candor. A grocery had signs at checkout urging you to give them great marks. The manager told me that, if you said “I love the store, the people are great, but I wish you had X-brand of cereal, so I’m giving you an 8,” he could lose his job.

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