CSotD: Fun with Self-Deception

A laugh from Mr. Boffo to start the day. Joe Martin’s sense of humor is based on the loveable loser, and a formula in which a sensible opening tumbles into bathos, and it certainly works for me, particularly since, before going through the day’s cartoons, I begin with a stroll through social media to catch up on what people are discussing.

Which means that, among other things, I see a lot of kindly, philosophical postings about wisdom that (A) you know never really happened and (B) you suspect are propping up lives of bathos.

Martin picks a pin in such nonsense, dividing his barbs into categories, with the Ralph Kramden bloated promises mostly over at Willie ‘n Ethel and the optimistic nonsense you can’t possibly live up to at Mr. Boffo.

This is much more organized than Facebook and Twitter, with the added advantage that you are not only permitted but expected to laugh.

A lot of cartoons get clipped (or printed out) and taped to cash registers, but marriage counselors don’t have actual cash registers and, even if they did, they would probably do well not to tape this one up where their clients would see it.

But the real laugh comes not from the professional who wishes they could be this frank but from those of us on the other end of the process who recognize in it our own appetite for self-deception.

Nous sommes tous M. Boffo.


Self-deception comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, however, and Kim is the perfect target for this Between Friends (KFS) because she does the best job of projecting an image.

Susan wouldn’t be able to pull it off, and, while Maeve has just enough OCD in her makeup that she would, she wouldn’t recognize that she was doing it.

Kim balances between the two, and I’ve said before that one mark of a good strip is that a particular gag only works with a particular character.

And there is, I would note, an emerging thing on social media of analyzing various people’s carefully cultivated Zoom backgrounds.

My own way of dealing with the pandemic was to retire rather than get sucked into Zoom culture, and the few times I’ve had to use it, it was nighttime and I simply set the lighting so that I was lighted but you couldn’t see any background.

Granted, this may have given people the impression that they were Zooming with the Unabomber, but it spared them trying to read the titles on book spines to see what sort of phony baloney image I was attempting to project.

Looking at the pretentious bookshelves of CNN and MSNBC contributors is simply exhausting, with a few of them even propping up their own books in a brazen bit of marketing, but over at the NFL Network, things are — aside from the tiresome types who display their old trophies and autographed footballs — considerably more eclectic and fascinating.

I devoted a substantial portion of a previous blog post to the topic and it remains amusing which, after all, is what both sports and literature should be.


Speaking of literature, Sherman’s Lagoon (KFS) had a recent story arc about graphic novels that brought some laughs.

Back when I was editing the work of young writers, my boss and I had some discussion of whether we should assign reviews of Captain Underpants or the various graphic novels with titles like Hawthorne’s opus.

The issue with silly books like Captain Underpants — or the various non-graphic novels extruded by the James Patterson empire — was that there was no there there. Either you like them or you don’t and there wasn’t a heckuva lot to review.

And while some of them are inventive, their sequels tend to just be the same old stuff over and over. There are some genuinely funny graphic novels for kids, but you have to look for them.

The fart-and-poop books were a different issue, because there’s a difference between being silly and being vulgar and our problem was figuring out whether we were being, well, a pair of old farts in hoping that the kids would pick up on books with some semblance of substance.

Our policy, we decided, would be to list all the available books that didn’t have “fart” or “poop” in their titles, with the publishers’ blurbs, and let the kids decide.

Seeing what they chose was as revelatory as reading what they then wrote: Some went for the super-challenging stuff, some went for the silly stuff, and some chose challenging material one time and silly stuff another.

Kind of like the grown-ups, and Tom Gauld shares the urge to steer readers towards things that meet his definition of literature.


However, I believe that train has left the station.

And if you don’t like teddy bears, we’ve got some nice tote bags and coffee mugs.


But whatever you’re getting, you’d better get it quickly.

Brevity (AMS) notes that there are only 12 Shopping Days until Christmas, which makes a nice pun with Shipping Delays, though it’s been a very long time since we had to subtract Sunday from those “shopping days.”

I’d also point out that, however hard it is to shop locally in terms of actually finding locally owned stores, there is an advantage in going to a physical store and picking up a physical object, rather than hoping an on-line merchant will get it to you in time.

But the more important factor is this: For all the talk about supply chains, if you allow your kid to fixate on one specific item that absolutely has to be under the tree, you’ve lost a much larger war.

Goes for your spouse as well. See “Mr. Boffo,” above.



6 thoughts on “CSotD: Fun with Self-Deception

  1. My working-from-home computer is in my basement, which isn’t the most scenic of places. When it became clear that I would be doing a lot of Zoom calls, I bought a green screen and flexible curtain rod. Now I can have any background I want from my huge collection of photos, including one of my cubicle at work.

  2. Watching local TV news reporters Zoom from home has been interesting: the jock sportscaster whose den is lined with football helmets, the airhead who decorated her bookshelves with color-coordinated empty boxes, the harried parent who still had Christmas lights up in July.

    I’m not a fan of the virtual or green-screen backgrounds. They’re distracting. People fade in and out like a ghost. And I always wonder what they’re hiding.

    In some cases, people’s Zoom backgrounds confirm what I already knew about them, and in others make me think more or less of them.

    My Zoom background isn’t carefully curated. My computer is on one side of the room and a nice bookcase is on the other, and there’s not much I can do to move either. But depending on the situation I have actually de-curated that bookcase (which is maybe the same as curating it?) by removing baubles that might look like bragging. Like, I know people brag via their Zoom backgrounds, and I don’t want to be that guy, so I go to the effort to dress it down. And then I write about it here, which sounds like humble-bragging.

    As the joke goes, I’m the best there is at humility.

    I’m off to read that Sherman’s Lagoon arc on graphic novels now. Thanks for the lead!

  3. “their sequels tend to just be the same old stuff over and over.”
    Kind of like The Cars albums?

  4. @Brian: Having an actual green screen greatly diminishes the ectoplasm effect. My backgrounds are for entertainment, and anyone really wants to see my basement, I’m happy to oblige. Then they beg me to put the screen back.

  5. Having an e-reader seems to avoid the supply-chain delay factor.- or the ones set up by the delivery services.

  6. I take Zoom calls sitting at my dining room table, which is where I also do all my genealogy research. This means my Zoom background is the 1970s green fern wallpaper that we haven’t yet got around to replacing, and several printed photos of my various ancestors in all their hirsute glory. I’m not sure what that “says” about me, but it’s definitely who I am.

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