Steven Hunter: Looking up "livid" at revealed: livid (adj) - "having a discolored, bluish appearance caused by a bruise, congestion of blood vessels, strangulation, etc., as the face, flesh, hands, or nails."

So apparently she choked or hit her parents after playing a violent videogame, which "Kamikaze Monkey Geeks 2007(C)" clearly must be.

That or they're angry because she can get to level 15, but they can't manage to get past the Dungeon Keeper's Banana Pit(TM) at the end of level 14. The secret is to bang the rocks together guys.

Brian Leahy: This one puzzled me too, but I think the point is merely that the boy self-righteously tattles on Sunny, despite the fact that he was doing the exact same thing she was.

It was more puzzling when my local paper dropped the first two panels; it wasn't clear that Sunny got the idea from him.   I thought
he was just slouching down momentarily to avoid the teacher noticing him talking to Sunny...

Unmichael: Since Arlo didn't expect Gene to even like coffee, he wasn't too
surprised that Gene then liked it in a way Arlo wouldn't have expected (black).

Joe Blevins: Arlo is being sarcastic (in a subtle, understated way) in the final panel since Gene is a novice coffee drinker and Arlo’s presumably been drinking coffee for decades.  Arlo is subtly mocking Gene’s teenage bravado.  “Of course not” is shorthand for “How foolish of me!  I should have known an experienced coffee achiever like YOU would take it black.”

Nathan Johnson: He is a teenager.  Of course he prefers coffee bitter, to match his angst-ridden soul

Morris Keesan: The kid has taken the bowl of guppies from Mrs. Trevino's room, stored the guppies in water in a plumbing appliance in the female staff restroom, and is using the fishbowl that formerly held the guppies.  One would hope that the guppies are happily swimming in the sink, but I don't want to speculate.

Paul Krueger: This strip has precedent in Leave it to Beaver, of all places.

The first show filmed was entitled Captain Jack, and dealt with Wally and Beaver buying a mail order aligator, and keeping it in their toilet tank on a sponge-raft.

The presence of a toilet, which was a taboo at the time, is usually cited as a reason this show wasn't aired until the third week.

I asked: Is Mr. Tatulli making a comment on the paradigm shift by which kids can't sit on the mall Santa's lap anymore without parents being obligated to (or at least coerced into) buying $10 Polaroids of the event? Even if it is, I don't see how he makes the leap to separate lines -- or is this literally the case in some malls (not aparthied according to income, but one "pay Santa" and one "free Santa")?? -Bill

Charlene Vickers: In some places, the parents actually have to pay for their kids to sit
on Santa's lap, let alone get a Polaroid.

Philip Harshman: I think it has less to do with buying the $10 Polaroids (although that is important) then that the over-$200K parents will spend more at the mall on their children, and those are the parents we want to make happy. If you’re not going to drop a wad at the mall, but are only coming to see Santa, they don’t care if you’re happy with the experience.

NG: You are over-thinking it with the photo concept.  It makes the simple statement that only wealthy parents (200k+/year) are able to provide the type of Christmas that is associated with a real, classic Santa.  The toys and goodies associated with a classic Santa cost a LOT of cash these days.  In contrast, those who can't afford the classic Christmas get stuck with a ghetto version of Santa.  Sure, he shows up, but he's nothing special and you try hard to forget how disappointing he is ASAP.

Maybe I'm just jaded

Joe Blevins: I don't think it's so much about the $10 Polaroids as it is about the expensive toys and video games that parents are expected to buy at Christmas.  After all, that's the ostensible point of the visit to Santa, right?  The kid tells Santa what he wants.  The parent is right there, and then the parent knows what to get the kid.  I don't think there are any malls which actually have a "pay Santa" and a "free Santa," but Christmas is a time which magnifies the differences between the economic classes.  We often read that a small fraction of the population controls most of the wealth in this country.  Rolling Stone just ran a piece about that same topic.  This cartoon is a literal illustration of that premise.  There are only two kids in the $200,000+ line -- both white -- while the racially diverse "everybody else" line is overflowing.  And the two rich kids get the "good Santa," while everbody else gets Billy Bob Thornton.  It's not fair.  The mom in the cartoon has clearly had it with the growing chasm between the super-rich and "everbody else" and vows not to return.

This still isn't working for me: If Heart's mom didn't say anything, I could see the scene as symbolic -- but as it's written, giving the impression that there are literally two Santas, "I thnk this is our last year for the mall Santa" would make more sense if they were "movin' on up" -Bill

Paul Krueger: Dental bills are competing with college tuition for the size of the bill.

Joe Blevins: I think the main point is that it's a waste of perfectly good money to put a daughter through college...

Darren George: This is Johnny Hart/redneck version of the old Stephen Leacock observation that universities are full of knowledge- the freshmen bring a little in, the graduates bring nothing out, and the knowledge accumulates.  Thus, sending your daughter to college (one of them there fancy librul arts college that don’t teach Home Ec, but queer stuff like Wimmin’s Studies and Fillersiffy and “Attacking Christmas 101”) is like having her wisdom (that is, her faith in Jeezus and her acceptance of that arranged marriage you set up for her with your nephew Bubba-John (you know he’ll be good to her, he’s family)) surgically removed.

Or maybe I just assume the worst from Johnny Hart.

Richard Lipp: Jon should be thinking of a gift that speaks from his spleen. [oddly enough, quite a number of people suggested Jon rely on his spleen - Bill]

Darren George:  For, “Try another organ”, I’d read “Try using your brain, stupid” (rather than the Arlo-worthy organ that most of your readers have in mind)- this is Garfield , after all.

Joe Blevins: ... and for the record, Jon Arbuckle has no genitalia

And one comic went directly to the Arlo Page, where we park comics and comments that might offend the offendable and impress the impressionable.

Old Business:

Marshall Dabney: As I read Dave Saliva's rant on why people insist on saying "Smokey THE Bear", I immediately knew the reason why I thought there was a "the" present in the name.   Even though it has been over 30 years ago, I distinctly remember listening to a 45 record of the song "Smokey the Bear" when I was in elementary school.  While I couldn't recall any other lyrics, I could still hear the chorus of "Smokey the Bear. Smokey the Bear. Prowling and growling and sniffing the air" in my mind.   A little digging at Smokey's official web site ( shows that apparently I was not the only one who was struck by the song.  Not only does the website specifically attribute the song as the reason that so many people say "Smokey the Bear", but the article even has a heading of the goofy "Prowling.. " lyric that stuck in my head all those years ago.

Additional thoughts on any of these?

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