CSotD: Santa offers a mixed bag

Several comic strips have been anticipating Christmas with gags about kids trying to clean up their acts for Santa and people decorating their trees, but now we’re getting right down to the real nitty gritty, and Monty (AMS) brings up the topic of Christmas cards as we enter the home stretch.

I used to get a lot of Christmas cards, but, then, I used to send out a bunch of Christmas cards. The two factors are likely related.

My dad used to draw a card every year — that’s me reaching for the candy cane in 1952 — and people looked forward to them. I get a few cards from artists today and feel much the same, because they come across as a gift.

Family photo cards also mattered, because in the days before the Intertubes they were how you kept up with distant friends and family. Today, they aren’t so special, since you just saw pictures of everyone on Facebook two days ago.

What made me laugh about Monty was the use of filters, because I hate them. Living in the midst of autumn colors, I’ve long known that catching the right fall landscape on the right day with the right settings is magic. Having some nitwit colorize and post a mediocre shot does for photographers what AI does for writers: It cheapens honest work of skilled people.

Now they’re advertising camera-phones that allow you to swap in faces so there’s never a photo in which someone had their eyes closed or was looking the wrong direction.

Hooray! Everybody is an artist!

Which means nobody is an artist.

I mentioned a while ago the number of Thanksgiving cartoons which assume we still bring home live turkeys, and Cornered (AMS) mashes up the concept with the “X-number of shopping days ’til Christmas” promos that mattered a lot more back when we shopped locally at stores that closed on Sunday.

When Vietnamese refugees first began coming here after the war, one of the things they had to get used to was that we sell dead animals, a practice they found unhealthy and disgusting. They’ve apparently adjusted, but I wonder how many born-here-Yanks would suddenly turn vegetarian if we all had to slaughter and clean the meat we ate?

Just an idle thought. Growing up amid the autumn color means I also grew up where a deer hanging from the chimney was part of the normal landscape. For that matter, the people I know who keep chickens today give them names and only consume their eggs, and it sure didn’t used to be that way.

Juxtaposition of the Day

Grand Avenue — AMS

They Can Talk

Comic strips this year have been a mix of kids being careful to behave in case Santa decides he hates them and ones in which the whole Santa-as-Big-Brother thing is questioned. Grand Avenue is right that, at best, such a vigilant Santa Claus would be a real annoyance if he weren’t somewhat theoretical.

I remember being stunned when, in the third grade, we discovered that one of our classmates still believed in Santa, though none of us were cruel enough to burst her bubble.

I also remember being not quite so surprised in junior high Confirmation class when we discovered that she thought the priest was walking down the Communion rail with an empty chalice and alakazamming a host for each person.

Meanwhile, They Can Talk shows how to make a cartoon about the cat messing with the Christmas tree that stands out amid the flood of cartoons about cats messing with Christmas trees. I don’t remember our cat ever knocking down ornaments, but, if he did, I could readily see him doling out justice to that rotten little stooge.

Juxtaposition of Inexplicable Beliefs

Mr. Boffo

Lee Judge — KFS

Lisa Benson — Counterpoint

I don’t blame Mr. Boffo for being somewhat off on the stock market, given the normal lead time for comic strips and how recent the growth of stock prices has been. My IRA has gone up about 7% since New Year’s but that’s mostly in the last two months.

Of course, the Boffos aren’t retired, so the ups and downs of their portfolio don’t matter a whole lot. If they have the sense to leave it alone, it’ll be fine by the time they need it.

Editorial cartoons, on the other hand, are expected to be up-to-date, and yet many of them continue to weep and hang crepe. Recent numbers don’t justify all the pessimism.

Jobs are up, unemployment is down, inflation is low enough that the Fed is no longer raising rates. The consumer price index has only climbed slightly and remains healthier than in other developed nations, gas prices are dipping close to $3 a gallon nationally and there has been a rise in median wages.

And yet too many political cartoonists continue hauling out their dead, ignoring the cries of “I’m not dead yet!” and “I feel happy!”

Well, we know how that ends: With a brisk thump on the head to make a reality out of partisan perception.

Plus, come on, Lisa:

Perception matters more than facts, though, as RJ Matson demonstrates with this illustration of a flush, thick, richly decorated holiday tree.

Why, it’s as plain as 2+2=5.

Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

There used to be a Christmas special every year, in which a comic strip would offer a series of strips specifically for the season. I haven’t seen one in several years, but don’t despair.

Non Sequitur (AMS) has been running a story since Monday in which Danae finds Lucy missing and tracks her into the forests of Maine. This is today’s episode, but you can start at the beginning by clicking here.

While, over at Crabgrass (AMS), the boys have captured one of Santa’s elves last week, or perhaps the elf has captured them, but now he’s promising them a look at Santa’s Workshop. Again, you can click here to start at the beginning of the serial.

I don’t think Brewster Rockit (Tribune)‘s story arc of a giant inflatable elf is extensive enough to qualify as a true seasonal serial, but it’s been a funny sequence and today’s episode gave me a laugh.

Finally, here’s an odd start to a brilliant career:

14 thoughts on “CSotD: Santa offers a mixed bag

  1. Here in West-central Wisconsin, gas dipped below $2.60 for a while last week, then went up a dime, then dipped again this week. Meanwhile, I’m about two months away till I need any gas, so I’m only an observer. It’s hard to believe I’m living in some sort of bubble paradise, so I’m wondering where this alleged $3.00-plus gas is being averaged.

    1. California. But I am retired so can’t complain. I buy premium for my old beast but only a tank-full each month, but that is still $75. Was $100 last.month. Fortunate that I can afford it either way.

    2. Earlier this week I paid $5 a gallon and was happy it wasn’t higher. I haven’t seen $3 gas in years and years. Seattle area

    3. Northern Illinois, it’s about 3.50 here which is pretty low. I haven’t seen gas in the 2.00 range in well over a decade.

  2. Gas in Rochester NY usually runs high, although there seems to be an unusual spread ($3.09 to $3.69) at the moment. We often drive back and forth between Rockford IL and Madison WI when visiting the Midwest and gas is definitely cheaper in Wisconsin. I assume there’s a difference in state taxes.

    The Boffo reminds me of one of Joe Martin’s older cartoons. Ace Johnson, Financial Advisor, to Willy and Ethyl: “Whoever told you not to panic must be out of his mind.”

    1. Makes you wonder how many shots he took versus how many days he didn’t try. I’d assume part of his artistry happened on the spot and part in the darkroom, but with that technology, it was GIGO and you had to start with the right lighting, the right exposure, the right F-stop and then play with it.

      Maybe we’ll start seeing “artisanal photography” down at the Farmer’s Market, next to the homemade pickles and the organic kale.

  3. Midstate PA here; gas prices have been steadily dropping since Thanksgiving, down to $3.45 this week from about $3.95 in September. I filled up during Sheetz’s T-day weekend special: $1.99/gal for their unleaded 88 ethanol blend. You’d think that folks would notice that gas is getting 4 or 5 cents cheaper every few days and take that as a sign that the economy is better than they think, although food prices are stubbornly remaining high. (Prices for natural gas and electricity have also been decreasing every 6 months, when the local entities announce their “price to compare.”)

  4. “In a world where everyone is an artist, no-one is.”

    Well thanks for that nice bout of depression there.
    The sad truth is we now live in a world where everyone carries an HD camera in their pocket 24/7, and upload hundreds of pics to social media daily.
    As with any widely available technology or industry, it’s become harder to discern true art from mass-produced garbage.
    AI is a fascinating concept, but there’s no denying it’s leading the way in blurring the lines between reality and fiction. As the tech continues to improve it’ll take a keen eye to spot the difference. Unless of course the use of AI is simply banned outright.

  5. It’s Mr. Boffo, for heaven’s sake. He probably put it all into Crypto and WeWork! Being a loser is his schtick!

  6. Gas prices? Who cares? Replaced both my ICE-powered cars with EV’s three and one year ago respectively. Did so without having to change my life radically, have myself picked up stranded at the side of the road, or go thru any kind of difficulties.

    Still have some gasoline powered vehicles around the house: Three motorcycles and a fifteen year old minivan that sits for months at a time under a car cover with a battery tender on it 24/7 just to ensure it starts when I need it (have used it about 1500 miles this year).

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