CSotD: Friday Follies

We’ll start the day with a serious piece of folly before we get into the fun stuff. Guy Badeaux reports that Gary Varvel (Creators) got himself into a jam in Canada after the Toronto Sun ran this anti-Ukraine cartoon in a nation with a very large Ukrainian population. {There are places on the prairies where Ukrainian is commonly spoken.)

Adding to the outrage is that he exaggerated Zelenskyy’s nose. I hadn’t caught the fact that Zelenskyy is Jewish, but others knew it, and, combined with the theme of stealing money, were not amused.

I’m going to call BS on that part, because while Zelenskyy does have a somewhat, though not extraordinarily, large nose, he has an otherwise very average face. I think using it as an innocent identifier is within normal caricature bounds, just as Obama’s jug ears were a reasonable feature for cartoonists to play with.

Still, given that Zelenskyy made his plea for help openly and honestly, there’s no reason to call him a thief and Ukrainians are justified in being offended by the accusation.

For that matter, it’s a historic fact that Canadians stood up to German aggression in the 1930s while that generation’s America Firsters were working to keep us out of the war. There are numerous reasons the editor of the Sun might have thought twice before selecting this cartoon, and she acknowledged the error in an apology to readers.

Varvel’s work will no longer appear in the Sun, she wrote, but she placed the bulk of the blame on her own shoulders, not on him, which is a more reasonable response than we’ve seen in other such controversies.

Take it as a message that people really care about cartoons and that editors should pay more attention to the artform and their audience.

Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

Watson got more than a smile with this one. It’s normally a sweet, gentle strip, and this is no exception, but it addresses a serious topic for those of us who have passed the September of our years. I remember my father once wondering aloud if he’d made enough of his life, and I’ve asked myself the same thing, though both of us were wondering, not having a mid-life crisis over it.

Watson is right. It’s not necessary to achieve fame to have mattered. I wouldn’t have chosen his particular metaphor, but, then again, for a dog, it’s not a metaphor, and there are other mundane acts that will help you make your mark.

Moderately Confused (AMS) also speaks for me. I’m certainly too old to be a digital native, but I’ve kept up with things fairly well, which makes me part of the transitional generation that knows how to download apps, but also how — and when — to use a phone as a phone.

I don’t know if I’m being really hip or an old fogey when I am suspicious about companies demanding more information than I think they need. I do know that, while a lot of identity theft can be blamed on people taking stupid quizzes on social media or passing along sentimental glurge they find there, plenty of it also comes from normal transactions with reputable companies.

But even without that concern, it’s often easier to just call in your order than to use the stupid app.

Juxtaposition of the Day

Guy Venables


I don’t understand the British fascination with Harry and Meghan. When King Whoever He Was left the throne and became the Duke of Windsor, it was an earthshaking moment, but then the Windsors seemed to become plain overly-pampered celebrities whose doings were more gossip than news.

Admittedly, I don’t recall the Duke writing a book about it all, and the Sussexes have drawn attention to themselves, but Venables’ cartoon is pretty innocent stuff and I laughed. I’ve seen less affectionate depictions of Meghan that make her look as dark as Grace Jones and I don’t think it’s an accidental trick of the lighting. We know what it is.

It’s not just them. I don’t get the utter devotion to royals. Taylor and Travis have earned their audience honestly, but I think Charlie looks just as silly in his for-real crown as Harry does in a paper crown from a cracker, and he can’t sing, dance or catch footballs.

Which brings us to Jonesy’s cartoon and the fact that British judges still wear wigs. It’s good that the UK doesn’t have a death penalty, because being sentenced to hang by someone wearing something like that on his head would add insult to injury.

Here’s an explanation of why judges and barristers wear the things, and while I got a laugh out of Jonesy’s cartoon, I got a bigger one out of the statement that “It brings a sense of solemnity to proceedings.”

So would a rubber nose and a seltzer bottle.

Your kilometerage may vary.

Cruel humor from Bizarro (KFS). Not that the joke is cruel. The joke is funny, but it was cruel to mention taxes at this time of year. The problem for this fellow is that elf, god and leprechaun require different occupational codes. My advice would be to use “sprite” and cut down on the duplicate forms.

The IRS will be piloting “Direct File,” a free tax preparation service competing with H&R Block and Turbotax, for 2024 in several states, but it’s apparently only for people with W-2 income. We self-employed wretches will still be filling out Schedule C and Schedule SE and Schedule LSMFT by hand.

I have, admittedly, already begun toting up the year in anticipation of doing taxes, but they didn’t have to bring it up during the holidays.

Ben (MWAM) counters Bizarro’s grinchy mention of tax prep with some cheerful news: The Muzak is about to return to normal. I worked in a store around this time of year once, and you really stop hearing it after awhile, but that doesn’t mean the earworms aren’t being inserted.

New Stories for a New Year

It looks like Rip Haywire (AMS) is about to start up a new arc.

And Vintage Buz Sawyer (KFS) has a new, promising storyline set at Cape Canaveral less than a year before Gagarin and Shepard made their first flights.

We know a lot more about space today:

20 thoughts on “CSotD: Friday Follies

  1. One of the wonderful things about having a SiriusXM subscription is that it’s possible to get thru the entire Christmas season (12:01am on 1 November – Christmas Day) without hearing one Christmas Carol. The one exception being finding a Christmas music channel on the service for our drive to my traditional restaurant for Christmas Eve dinner – a tradition going on 26 years now and more important to me than Christmas Day itself. Then again, I always was Christmas Eve person.

    No Whamageddon. No Mariah Carey. No Little Drummer Boy.

    This will be muted a bit this year by the wife having already found the preferred channel for Sunday evening. Modern Country Christmas, or something like that. Groan! As if her constant setting of channel 56, The Highway, for the rest of the year isn’t bad enough.

    1. Curious as to what station you listen to to avoid Christmas music, or do you just change the channel when one comes on? I wish they’d have a dedicated “No Christmas tune” station; they have several dedicated to the genre, so why not one that skips them altogether?

      1. My usual’s are: 21 – Little Steven’s Underground Garage, 33 – First Wave, 38 – Ozzie’s Boneyard, 41(40?) – Hair Metal, 52 – BPM, 67 – Real Jazz, 75 – BB King’s Bluesville. Yeah, they’ll toss the occasional Christmas song in there, but sticking to their prescribed formats ensures the current stuff I can’t stand never appears.

  2. Just checking, but I think you mean Harry and Meghan, not William? William may indeed someday get the crown, but Harry is the “spare”.

  3. I wonder how many people will get the LSMFT reference.

    My dad used to smoke those when I was kid. They even put out a few LPs of music back in the day–my parents still have some of those albums.

    1. Dammit! I would have gotten it, but I passed right over it without seeing it. My Dad smoked them too, and after he quit in about 1950 a pack languished on the piano for years. “Sold to the American!”

  4. Mike, while you may not be a ‘million follower influencer’ over the years you have made a significant and positive ‘mark’. We offer you ‘Congratulations’.

    As Mike said: ‘I don’t know if I’m being really hip or an old fogey when I am suspicious about companies demanding more information than I think they need. I do know that, while a lot of identity theft can be blamed on people taking stupid quizzes on social media or passing along sentimental glurge they find there, plenty of it also comes from normal transactions with reputable companies.’

    I reply: You are being prudently cautious. While holding free computer clinics, we would warn that the many people posting on social media that they would be away from home for a week was an invitation to theft.

    Mike referred to tax forms: ‘Schedule LSMFT’
    I reply, Mike, ‘you smokin’ now’ (ohhh, groan, another dad pun)

    And, ‘Vintage Buz Sawyer (KFS) has’ a phallic rocket just like the billionaires of today!

    1. It’s natural the Boys should whoop it up for
      so huge a phallic triumph… –W.H. Auden, Moon Landing

      And Mike, I add my congratulations to you for your work here. I’m a bit fuzzy on exactly what kind of profession an “influencer” is, but you’re a good teacher, raconteur, and overall good egg.

  5. On the Varvel piece it’ll probably just add another nail to editorial cartoons running on editorial pages across Canada. Postmedia, which runs the tabloid, also runs major broadsheets in Canada’s big cities. More and more file photos are running in place of editorial cartoons, and when they dare to run any, the satire is often milquetoast or completely lacking of substance beyond bubblegum wrapper gags. Editors just can’t be bothered taking risks and their ignorance of the history of satire presents itself whenever a cartoonist, whether having a bad day, is anti-Semitic or just plain dumb needs to be reined in.

  6. See, Mike, hey, you are an influencer!
    I just saw this: on claytoonz .com/2023/12/21/art-of-the-mein-kampf/
    “My friend Mike Peterson wrote about Godwin’s Law in today’s Comic Strip of the Day, . . .”

  7. The stupidest aspect of the Ukraine funding controversy is that what Ukraine uses the money for is to buy American armaments FROM AMERICA. It’s a circular process that means we’re only making an investment in our own arms industry.

    And I know it’s too late in the day to mean much here, but speaking as someone who loves Christmas music, though I hate repetition, I will confess to nearly altering my stance back in the early teens when Walmart had no radio license and substituted an eight-hour DVD of programmed music, which repeated no songs, but played them in the SAME ORDER night after night so you anticipated the songs on the disc that bugged you, which is actually worse than actually hearing them. My personal guilt in this is that I would be the only one on overnights who knew how to go in the backroom to the player connected to the PA to hit the on switch when the disc would end, or when we came in to silence (which IS worse than hearing low-level music in the background). Now that I’m retired and home all the time, radio has been an appointment-only thing where I only turn on SiriusXM to listen to five or six specific shows a week, so in order to sate my yearly Christmas-song hunger, I have to seek out one of their multiple Christmas channels (which do repeat stuff if you listen longer than an hour), which I sometimes forget to do until Christmas day, and then a few of them disappear shortly thereafter. Then I’m forced to dig out one of my voluminous collection of Christmas music on CDs–which are ALL about the repetition. It ALMOST makes me wish I were still working and hearing the current Walmart radio. Almost.

  8. You’re being far too kind to Stiglich. He’s been repeatedly called out in online comments for using that stylized outsized nose associated with anti-Semitic caricatures to designate people he accused of dishonestly, particularly Joe Biden.

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