1. I think maybe it’s a comment on the modern move away from literature. In the past, people would have shelves full of books to keep them entertained and educated, but now our go-to is the TV and internet for this. Since you can’t show off what you have read, the modern equivalent is showing off your big TV.

  2. I used to have a large collection of DVDs that filled several shelves, but now, everything is streaming so no one has any physical media. Just a screen and an internet connection. Nothing visually impressive.

    But the question should be “Have you seen all these?” or “watched.” “Read” makes no sense.

    I still don’t get the punchline.

  3. As both of you are saying, the punchline words, exactly as they are, used to be something a party guest or home visitor might say to somebody with well-filled bookshelves on display — maybe out of simple admiration, but often with a bit of edge.

    So, what does it mean to this guy, here? “Pal, I remember when you had a big wall of books!” ? Maybe. Or “Oh man, I remember when people like us would have a big wall of books, and the gibe would be to ask if you’ve read them all. But now we just have screens.” ? Or maybe the other guy had just been saying “I have 3000 titles in that box!” and the punchline speaker merely makes a slip in saying “read” instead of “watched”?

    But none of those click perfectly for me.

  4. Maybe they are all foreign subtitled films and TV shows. Which, in a certain sense, you have to “read”. But if that’s the case the cartoonist would surely have included a few more clues, like posters for foreign-language films like Parasite or Rashomon.

    I much prefer, myself, subtitles to dubbing – better to hear the original Japanese, Iranian, Italian or whatever flow over you.

  5. I had a question or two about the drawing. Is the screen: a) off; b) on but displaying muddy screensaver; c) on and showing something like a menu or catalog, but represented in the drawing only by these random dot trails.

    Also, is there a little gizmo attached to the screen frame at its lower right corner? And is the ghostly dotted line going up the wall a wire, or is just the first inch or so of it meant to be a real thing, namely an antenna?

  6. @deety, it looks as if Bliss was drawing old-fashioned analog static, which causes the cartoon to make even less sense.

    The gizmo could be any number of 21st Century things, e. g. Amazon FireStick.

  7. I think it’s about the prevalence of e-books. So, rather than asking that about a full bookcase, he asks it about a TV screen showing all of Orange’s ebooks…

    The screen DOES look like static, but I’ll chalk that up to the artist…

  8. Clearly the reference is to guests asking hosts with large book collections if they’ve read everything. But I have nothing beyond a vague reference to that trope. If the joke is about a screen full of e-book titles, I would sort of understand, except that I’ve never seen or heard of anyone displaying such a screen configuration since nobody reads e-books on their TV. Given how obscure that idea would be, if it were something along those lines the cartoonist would have had to write the text in the cartoon for anyone to get the idea.

  9. It would have worked for me if there were shelves of discs. I still have plenty of DVDs acquired in the early days of the Millennium. A good number I haven’t seen. They’re from when a video rental shop was going out of business and I grabbed a bunch of foreign films and stuff you rarely see. One of these days…. But I’ve also, in the last couple of years, started buying discs again. Now that I have a large TV and a 4K Blu-ray player, I’m adding select items to my acquisitions. Things like Criterion Collection editions of some great films and 4K UHD versions of real classics. So, for me, this could work if there were large shelves full of a bunch of discs. As I’ve been following news on new items being released on disc, I’ve learned there are people out there that will buy just everything. So the “Have you watched them all” is a legit question.

    BTW, even as a cinephile, streaming is “good enough” for things I have only a casual interest in.

    narmitaj: In the olden days, foreign films would often be dubbed and the directors expected it. A lot of Italian films of the 50s and 60s dubbed all the dialogue in, both for Italian versions and foreign versions. I agree that I prefer subtitles to dubs because I think you lose a lot of the emotion of the original performance in a dub.

  10. @Carl Fink I don’t know; when my monitor is off and the room light hits it from the side, the surprising accumulation of dust can look like that. :~)

  11. I agree with Stan. A social commentary on how we’ve moved away from books to entertainment being digital media.

  12. Also interesting is that the DVD player does not appear to be connected to the TV, unless he’s run the wires behind the wall

    That’s part of what I was getting at when asking about the gizmo at the lower right of the big screen. I said it had something that might be an antenna but I didn’t mean old-school TV antenna, rather just the stubby antenna you might find on a walkie-talkie or older flip-phone, etc. With the idea that could be what connects the screen and the player box. .. Though I guess by now it would be bluetooth and those don’t use obvious external antennas..

  13. Deety, with those components sitting so close, bluetooth would not be the connection of choice, but rather a physical cable, either HDMI or optical data. But it just isn’t showing in the drawing, for whatever reason.

  14. Mitch4: There’s no way you could Bluetooth enough data fast enough between the TV and the disc player/streaming player. Bluetooth maxes out at about 1 Mbps. Netflix claims it can deliver 4K pictures with about 15 Mbps in bandwidth, thought the company notoriously reduced the quality of the data streams during the heightened demand of the pandemic. It also increased the amount it charges Canadians for this “high quality” tier. But, even for Netflix, 1 Mbps is a bit ambitious. And for disc playing, 4k UHD discs can have a throughput of 30-100 Mbps, depending upon the scene and how it is encoded. So you’re absolutely right. HDMI cables are a necessity.

    Trivia fact: 4K UHD discs (which are only playable on a 4K UHD Blu-ray player) are supposed to have no region code, so a disc from anywhere in the world will play on any player anywhere. Though there have been reports of some movie studios putting region locks on their 4K UHD discs because they’re a-holes.

  15. beckoningchasm – we still have almost all of our DVDs, VHS tapes, and Beta tapes. When we had bed bugs and anything which could burn, melt or explode had to be taken out of the house before it was treated we did set a rule that if we had something on VHS the Beta copy went, if we had it DVD the VHS copy went – except for James Bond movies and a few others which we kept all 3 versions – sometimes even more than 3 versions – of. We have entire TV series on DVDs.

    We do very little streaming other than what comes through the Roku free. No Amazon, No Netflix, No Prime. Too expensive. We do get HBO Max and and a few other channels through the Roku as we pay for the related channels with our cable service and there seems to be some way (which he is still figuring out) to get movies free from some channel due to public library membership.

    Our first Saturday night stuck home due to the pandemic (early March 2020) he decided we would still have Saturday night date night – we took in Chinese food for dinner and he was going to find a brand new movie to watch through the Roku. He kept looking and looking. Finally I suggested that since we had passed “Leap of Faith” with Steve Martin 6 times we should watch it again. Now, I don’t begrudge anyone their income – but the fact there were commercials and we could have pulled the DVD out faster than we found the movie on the Roku and we would not have had any commercials if we watched the DVD – was a bit annoying. He has gotten better at movies in advance – might not like them, but at least he finds them in advance now.

  16. Addendum – we don’t have a big screen TV. Our largest is something 26 inches analog TV in living room (I have trouble watching digital TV) and we watch our Saturday night movies on our kitchen set which is smaller (but is digital, so I mostly don’t actually watch the movie, but glance at it from time to time).

    He has started talking about a big screen TV. I asked where he would put it. He would put it in the living room at the back of the room behind the window curtains (room is decorated Colonial revival and big TV would not go with room – one we have is in a piece of furniture to hide it). I pointed out that means we would have bring chairs from the kitchen or dining room to sit on to watch it or sit on the sofa and look sideways. He is still working on the idea. If he gets the big screen I will be watching movies with my eyes closed – they are too overwhelming.

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