29 Comments

  1. Fair point, other-Dana!

    But on behalf of the editors, and submitters, let me point out that most of the Bizarros were needed for thematic groups.

  2. Actually I’m almost a year overdue to get refracted.

    Not that I ever could reach 20-20, not even last year.

  3. The kids are unhappy with Elf on a Shelf spying on them 24/7, and used the adjective “Orwellian” among themselves to describe it (a la the “Big Brother is Watching You” trope in Orwell’s novel 1984).

  4. There is a comment at Wayno’s Blog about the return of the memory foam mattress.

    “Sometimes when we cartoonists brainstorm topics for humor, we come up with more than one usable joke. That happened to me a couple of months ago, when I wrote two gags riffing on the phrase “memory foam mattress.” The first one ran on December 28, and the other was published today.”

  5. Elf on a Shelf always seemed super-creepy to me, which is probably why that one was an LOL for me.

  6. The optometrist one has always seemed rather dumb to me, because the pedestrian can easily see the edge of the sign, the hanging hardware, etc., as clearly as ever.

  7. I had never heard of The Elf on the Shelf, though now I know its name I can google it and I see that it is apparently on sale in the UK and yes, it does sound creepy and indeed Orwellian. From the Wikipedia article:

    “Professor Laura Pinto suggests that it conditions kids to accept the surveillance state and that it communicates to children that “it’s okay for other people to spy on you, and you’re not entitled to privacy.” She argues that “if you grow up thinking it’s cool for the elves to watch me and report back to Santa, well, then it’s cool for the NSA to watch me and report back to the government … The rule of play is that kids get to interact with a doll or video game or what have you, but not so with the Elf on the Shelf: The rule is that you don’t touch the elf. Think about the message that sends.””

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Elf_on_the_Shelf#Criticism

  8. I’m not a huge Shelf-Elf fan, but I think concerns about it opening the door to the surveillance state are overblown. Same as claims that perpetuating the Santa Claus myth means kids will never trust their parents.

  9. Very interesting!

    Terminology quibble: an illiterate person can still know their letters, so this would be for the “analphabetic”.

    Come to think of it, I remember eye-test charts for young kids that did not have letters, but just had rotations of the capital E three-bar shape, and the response was, if not “up, down, left, right”, just pointing.

    And when I look at the shapes here, an odd association is to what I just learned should be called “Zener cards” but I would have up to then called “Rhine ESP testing cards” (although sets I have seen previously were all black figure on white card, not color).

    or in case that vector graphic doesn’t work,

    Wikipedia credits: By Mikhail Ryazanov (talk) 01:30, 1 April 2014 (UTC) – File:Cartas Zener.svg + File:Zenerkarten c.jpg, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31927664

  10. I don’t get the “do we have to do this every 5 years” one… did his stomach used to be up by his shoulders 15 years ago?

  11. No, his stomach wasn’t up there by his shoulders — but his chest maybe was more prominent than his belly back then, and the “prominence” is what the markings on the wall are tracking.

  12. “and the “prominence” is what the markings on the wall are tracking.”

    By that logic He should be very happy in a few years.

    (And living in a surreal landscape after that.)

  13. “I’m not a huge Shelf-Elf fan, but I think concerns about it opening the door to the surveillance state are overblown. Same as claims that perpetuating the Santa Claus myth means kids will never trust their parents.”

    While I agree, I still think there is something creepy and very unappealing about a commercial efforts to consciously concentrate and actively encourage that kind of thinking.

  14. By that logic He should be very happy in a few years.
    (And living in a surreal landscape after that.)

    Ha! But no, the dialog in this one suggests he’s going to try to put a stop to this.

  15. While I do know some people who found it upsetting to find out that their parents had been lying to them about Santa, I think it’s generally a harmless fun story for kids. But as I said in the self-driving cars thread, sometimes fun stories have have more problematic aspects that it’s better to gloss over than think about too carefully. Elf on the Shelf focuses attention on the more creepy aspects of the Santa story.

  16. Santa has had kids under surveillance for decades. Remember “He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake.”

    As if “hey what’s in this drink” isn’t creepy enough in a Christmas song.

  17. I remember little me sneaking down the stairs and watching my father trying to assemble a bicycle and weird o’clock Christmas Eve. I wasn’t shocked by that, so I guess I never really believed the Santa Claus schtick. I dislike the idea of constantly lying to kids about Santa, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, and all the other stuff that we take for granted — but then, I’m not a parent, so perhaps I’m not qualified to opine thereupon.

  18. “Elf on the Shelf focuses attention on the more creepy aspects of the Santa story.”

    Exactly! It’s that the creators of Elf on the Shelf consciously sat down and said “Let’s make a story that emphasizes the surveillance aspect of the Santa Story” that I find disturbing.

  19. sigh…. when I was a child my mother always said “you need to go to bed so that I can fill your stocking”. When the other kids told stories of how they learned about Santa Claus I had to make up stories about peeking and discovering it was my parents. One year I tried to peek just so those stories would be true but the layout of the house didn’t really lend itself to that.

    May young cousins had a good story. We came back for caroling early and my parents and my uncle and aunt were filling the stockings and the covered it with a blanket so we wouldn’t see. My mother said we had to go to bed so she could fill the stocking. And my uncle said Santa Claus was filling the stockings and my aunt laughed and pointed to pile and the blanket and said “Yes, there he is, under there; he’s a bit discombobulated at the moment”

    I’ve often wondered what it would have been like growing up in a family that took telling children about Santa Claus seriously. …Some people seem to have actual fond memories of loving the critter they never saw.

  20. Having grown up in the 20th century I tend to think people are often way too serious and cynical about things nowadays. I think my family had elf tree ornaments similar in appearance to the modern “Shelf-Elf”, so they feel vaguely familiar to me. The whole Elf On A Shelf thing came out a couple of decades late for me and I have no kids so I have no frame of reference for the game. Everyone laughed off the “He sees you when you’re sleeping…” line from “Santa Clause Is Coming To Town”, and we didn’t think about “Baby It’s Cold Outside” all that much, as it was just one of many mid-20th-Century tunes that were rolled out for the season and then ignored for another 11 months. The girl in the duet is no victim. She’s willingly playing the game with the male. She’s not fending off her boyfriend’s advances. She’s more worried about being judged by society if her family knew what she was up to.

    https://variety.com/2018/music/news/baby-its-cold-outside-song-war-1203080834/

  21. Danny Boy – London Derriere – husband and I are coming up on 2 years and I am pretty sure he really needs to go and maybe have his secondary cataract removed. (He had cataract surgery about 19 years ago.) There was no way we were going last March/April when it was time to go and since have stayed in house other than for emergencies – we voted the ophthalmologist not to be an emergency.

  22. Have also always thought Elf on a Shelf a terrible idea for children.

    I know that they use picture eye charts for children too young to read. (Ever see the video of the baby who gets first eye glasses put on and reaction to seeing everything clear?)

    What I am not sure of is the letter/number eye chart has some letters or numbers which look alike. I know when we are at the eye doctor (and I am trying not to memorize the chart for when it is my turn) Robert will mistake say an S for a 5 or vice versa and similar with letters which look like – C and O for example and the doctor has said that gives information about his vision – that would be missing unless someone says that they half a heart or such on the picture chart.

    I have worn eyeglasses (hard contact lenses for a decade or two) since second grade (and felt just like that baby when I put them on for the first time and each time I got a new prescription) and just adjusted to them with no problem. I have a wardrobe of them for different needs to see and different occasions over the decades as my eyes became fairly stable and I can wear the ones of various visions from the last 2 decades for different purposes. Robert did not need them until he was older – maybe his 40s and then not much – but since the cataract surgery he gets frustrated at needing them and wearing them and as of his last driver’s license renewal has to wear them for driving, often forgets them and has to go back into the house or a different vehicle to get a pair and is very frustrated.

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