Heart of the City is a feel-good strip that doesn't often provide boffo laffs, but, like Red and Rover and Dog Eat Doug, is in a genre you might call "Nostalgia with an Edge." R&R specifically goes back to the past, but these strips all rely on your memory of what it was like to be a kid, mostly the parts that make you smile.
Today, Dean comes up with something odd and fascinating, which particularly struck me because I'm trying to declutter and just went through a drawer relentlessly asking myself, "Why do you have this?" and getting back the answer, "I dunno. It's kind of cool, though."
Which is pretty much Dean's answer, and "It's kinda cool" is also why I put together this cover for a granddaughter some years ago, to which her response was mild amusement that might have been more if she had ever seen something called "LIFE Magazine."
Ah, the Generation Gap!
I take grandfathering seriously and have been known to give subscriptions to Ranger Rick or one of National Geographic's kids magazines or Cricket. I thought it would be fun to get something in the mail regularly, plus I liked the idea of the kids having a magazine up in their room and going through it in moments of reflective boredom.
I also have a history of giving classic (ie, pre-"I Can Read" era) Seuss and Make Way for Ducklings and other books that kids ought to have, and was delighted to hear that the response to the arrival of a recent gift was delight since Grandpa always sends really good books. Here's that granddaughter with her Fantagraphics collection of Barnaby, one of those aforementioned really good books.
When kids don't know stuff, it's because they haven't been shown stuff.
My grandkids -- well, except for the one who was born yesterday and not in the metaphorical Judy Holliday sense -- love museums, for which I take indirect credit because their parents, as kids, were always taken to museums and national parks and plays and other thought-inspiring wonders.
And, speaking of "Born Yesterday," they were also treated to old movies, not as educational punishment but as something else that's fun.
Fun is learned, and the lessons stick: One son finally broke up with a GF I didn't like, certainly not because I didn't like her, but over a weekend that included, among other "What was I thinking?" moments, her refusing to watch "The Philadelphia Story" because it was black-and-white.
You raise'em right, they'll have good values.
A theme upon which Jen Sorensen plays in her latest opus, which cracked me up because it combines an inventive gag with some genuine insights, the major one being that kids don't surf.
They go to places their friends recommend, and the "big change" in the past generation is, as Sorensen suggests, that those recommendations aren't coming by email or in person, but by way of the various algorithm-driven places they hang out.
Well, except one of my granddaughters who at least surfs within YouTube, to the extent that, when I gave her a set of headphones two Christmases ago, her sisters were ecstatic because, the computer being in the livingroom, they were more than a little tired of hearing what she was watching.
And while some of that is humor, mostly in excruciatingly bad taste, a lot of it is nature and science to the point where her father reports that he has stopped correcting her on obscure facts and, instead, begun asking "How do you know that?"
Not only is she invariably right, but the proof is often fascinating.
Again, that comes from the fact that, while the kids are often taken to amusement parks, they are also taken to museums.
It's not an either/or proposition.
Here's what I particularly like about Sorensen's take: These kids are curious. They want to learn about the past, they enjoy hearing about their grandparents' experiences.
They are simply growing up with a different set of prompts and filters, as (the cartoon suggests) did their grandparents.
I could have skipped a lot of verbiage by simply juxtaposing Sorensen's Gen X take on things with this piece from Baby Boomer Ed Stein, who describes the impact Saturday Evening Post had on his growing imagination.
Ed is just a few years older than I am, which means he can clearly remember life without television, while I have only vague half-memories of going down to Butchie Nagel's with my older brother and sister to see it.
But I certainly remember pouring through Saturday Evening Post for the cartoons each week, including that I didn't really distinguish between the actual cartoons and the Elsie the Cow ads that featured cartoons.
As the twig is bent, yes, but there's a point where you don't have to force the bend anymore.
Let's look at one more techno-generational-gap gag, this from Moderately Confused, with which I must quibble.
Alt-Ctrl-Del is not the missing factor.
It's Ctrl-Z. Also Ctrl-X and Ctrl-V.
They make writing fun and easy.
I have a coffee mug full of pens by my computer, most of them dried up.
Not "used up." Not "empty."
Clotted. Their ink turned to tar through lack of use.
Which is okay because the paper is six feet away in the printer (which also doesn't get much action anymore, except as a scanner), so, if someone calls me and I have to make a quick note, I first have to find a pen that still flows, then grab an empty envelope and write on the back.
And hope I can read my handwriting later, because that's dried up and gone to hell for lack of use, too.
I'm not proud of this, I'm not ashamed of it.
It's just what is.
And will be.
Now here's your moment of affectionate nostalgia