Not everybody has the right idea about romance.

Even a mechanical heart can be stirred by love:

This was published on GoComics as the 19 December 2022 comic. Now, where’s that calculator that can tell me how many days between that date and today?

I don’t entirely understand, why is this strip treating the “valentines for everyone” as a recent school practice. Geezers will recognize it from, gosh, the 1950s…


  1. December has 31 days, so De. 19 to Jan. 19 = 31 days; January has 31 days, so Jan.19 to Feb. 19 = 31 days; 31 + 31 = 62; we want Feb. 14, not 19, so subtract 5 days, 62 – 5 = 57; oops, shopping days, so the target is really the 13th, so 56 days….

    The reason they are treating it as a “recent” phenomenon is so they can make it link to Pixar’s The Incredibles for the joke (in The Incredibles it’s “if everyone is special, then no one is special”); The Incredibles is only from twenty years ago, so, for a geezer, a topical reference…

  2. Thanks for the Date Calculator, Mr. Grumpy! (Autocorrect keeps wanting to call you Mr. Frumpy!)

    And 56 days earlier from today (technically, for this calculator, -56 days later) does work out to Dec 20, 2022, just a day off from what the cartoon has. Unfortunately this isn’t taking into account the spec of shopping days.

  3. larK, I’m not sure of your shopping-days correction. You seem to be excluding only the final day-of, but expecting stores to be open every intervening day, including Sundays and two holidays.

  4. lark – Personally, I add up the whole months then do the partial months on either side. January has 31 days. Dec 19 through Dec 31 is 13 days. Feb to 1 to 13 is 13 more. 26 + 31 = 57. They might not be including Christmas or New Years. Or they are excluding both and including Feb 14th. Of they miscalculated and got “close enough.”

  5. Mitch: I hadn’t considered shopping days being constrained by the stores actually being open; my only thought was you had to finish your shopping before Valentine’s Day, or else it wouldn’t count — if you buy stuff the day of, it’s because you forgot or didn’t care enough, right?

    TedD: yeah, there’s some kind of fencepost error in there I can’t wrap my head around just right now, probably around whether or not the first day is inclusive or exclusive.

  6. Hunh. Really? I thought the tradition, which was at first “shopping days before Christmas” was literally days on which you could go shopping. And long enough ago that Sunday closings were the norm.

    Here was the closest a search got me to that — it happens to be another calculator site though I hadn’t requested such. . See that “business days”?

    Here is their ad copy:

    Business Day Calculator to Calculate Working Days Between Dates

    This free online calculator will calculate the number business days between two dates, or calculate an ending date based on a specified number of business days to add or subtract to or from a starting date.

    Plus, unlike other working days calculators, this calculator will not only let you choose which days of the week you want to be counted as business days, but it also allows you to indicate which, if any, holidays you would like excluded from the count.

    This customization feature means you can also use the calculator to count work days only (working days calculator), or any other types of events that are counted based on which days of the week they reoccur.

  7. So I tried “meaning of shopping days left” and got the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary of English:

    Definition of shopping days to Christmas from the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary

    shopping days to Christmas
    /ˌʃɒpɪŋ deɪz tə ˈkrɪsməs/
    /ˌʃɑːpɪŋ deɪz tə ˈkrɪsməs/
    a phrase used to explain how many days are left on which the shops will be open between the present time and Christmas. It is written in the windows of some shops to encourage people to buy their Christmas presents before it is too late
    I can’t believe there are only fifteen shopping days to Christmas.

  8. The artist on the first gag is Paul Coker Jr. — easily recognized from hundreds of MAD Magazine articles and all those Rankin-Bass TV specials. Didn’t know he’d ever done a comic strip. Looked him up and it turns out he died just last year, at 93.

  9. Mitch: I’m not in any way trying to argue that what you’re posting evidence for isn’t what was meant; I’m merely explaining that in my off-the-cuff post, I hadn’t thought of that. In my thinking, you can shop everyday, even if the store is closed, either window shopping, catalogs, or, of course, online; planning what you are buying is the major part of shopping to me — the exchange of money finalizing it at the end is merely a formality. So the important part, the thought that counts, is that you are planning for the special day, and this is how many days you have left for that strategising.

  10. “When everyone is somebody, then no-one’s anybody!” That’s from “The Gondoliers” by Gilbert and Sullivan, in 1889, a century before The Incredibles.

  11. I went to Catholic school. If there were 25 kids in my class, I had to buy 26 Valentines: one for every kid but me, one for the nun, and one for Jesus.

    I got a Valentine from every other kid in the class and one from the nun, but never one from Jesus.

  12. There’s pretty always some place open for shopping. This afternoon I went to Walgreens, and they must have had at least 50 mylar balloons inflated. Even with the usual procrastinators, I can’t imagine they would sell anywhere near that amount in the remaining hours of the day, and those aren’t really something that people would buy at a clearance discount like with candy.

  13. Don’t try Target though. My wife went by today and said there were 2 valentine cards on the shelf (didn’t like either one) and an employee already moving in the easter stock. Definitely not set up for “last minute”-ers.

  14. Back when “Shopping Days Until Christmas” was seriously used as a marketing gimmick† (back in the 1950s, or even earlier), many (or most) American jurisdictions had blue laws that forbade stores from opening on Sundays and holidays. Adjusting the count to reflect that could produce significant differences from a plain calendar count, separate from (and in addition to) the question about whether one should include the beginning and/or end dates in the calculation. Back then all stores were definitely closed on Christmas, and many were closed early (or entirely) on Christmas Eve as well.

    These days, there is almost always at least one store open on every day of the week, including holidays, and even on Christmas (for example, listing to “Christmas (W)rapping” by the Waitresses). It is therefore entirely appropriate to reduce the “shopping days” calculation to a simple arithmetic calendar calculation.

    P.S. † – The phrase was always formulated and presented as a friendly and helpful reminder, but in fact it was meant as a kick in the tush to get lazy and forgetful people back into the stores.

  15. P.P.S. Charles Schulz parodied the Advent enumeration craze using Beethoven’s birthday. This example indicates that Schulz counted all days (including Sundays) up to and including the target date (Dec. 16th), but not the day of the sign’s appearance:

    This “shopping days” example shows that Schulz omitted both the appearance day, the target day, and the two intervening Sundays:

    This final example increases the pressure by adding a clock restraint, the the calculation of the days is the same as before:

  16. P.P.P.S. In contrast to the “Peanuts” examples (soon to be) shown above, this “The Duplex” strip counted all days, including the first, the 25th, and everything in between:

    P.P.P.P.S. I think I would react the same way if someone informed me that I was expected to include Christmas Day as a shopping opportunity. Perhaps for this reason, the Boxing Day follow-up omits (just) one of the endpoints, although it’s not clear whether the reprieve is meant for the day of the comic, or the following Christmas Day:

  17. Pete, as Minor Annoyance noted before all the days-until commenting, “The artist on the first gag is Paul Coker Jr. — easily recognized from hundreds of MAD Magazine articles and all those Rankin-Bass TV specials.”

  18. @ Pete – As MinorAnnoyance mentioned above, the artist was Paul Coker, Jr., but it’s not clear whether this strip appeared in MAD Magazine, or one of his other works. He was discussed in a recent Lay Lines post because of the “Horrifying Clichés” he illustrated for MAD.

  19. Zbicyclist could say where he found the Coker. I think I recall it might have been from a MAD book. He actually started this post months ago as a stub, anchored by just the one vintage cartoon. And the editors have all been adding items as we encountered them, with Valentine or romance themes. [End BTS notes]

  20. There was a really good Valentine’s story arc in Wallace the Brave, starting on January 30th, and continuing all the way to Valentine’s Day. I’m only going to embed the initial strip, in which Amelia assumes the (rhyming) role of a “Grinch”:

    P.S. Click on the link and navigate to read the rest.

  21. @Kilby, thanks for the ID. I’ve seen his work in MAD. I thought the style was familiar, but I couldn’t quite recall where I’d seen it.

    A little research shows that the comic in question was from a short-lived (1970-71) daily newspaper strip called Lancelot, scripted by Frank Ridgeway.

    A few example here, including the Poetry one.


  22. Every time I revisit this thread, I’m left wondering whether the robot in “ThataBaby” is an intentional reference to “Iron Giant“, or just a coincidence.

  23. A late entry for Valentine Day comix, from Maria’s Day. Oh, I’m wrong, it was originally a 2-13 comic in whatever year.

  24. I wonder how they get close to matching dates, but drop a bit off. For some perpetual recycle comics there is an attempt to fix up the Sundays to match.

  25. @ Mitch – Only when someone else is actively managing the archive. GoComics does not care, and does absolutely nothing to synchronize reruns in a sensible fashion. Back to B.C., Ink Pen, and Raising Duncan are three cases in point.

  26. Kilby is right. I once asked GC about it, and they basically said that they take whatever the designated provider sends for the day. If they don’t get anything, there’s no strip that day. The strangest of the ones I follow is Liberty Meadows, where arcs begin and end out of sequence. They do manage to keep the Sundays in sync.

  27. @ Mitch – After all my ranting about reruns, I don’t think that “Maria’s Day” was one at all. Both the subsequent Valentine’s Day strip and (even more) the calendar shown on the following Sunday are (very) strong indications that the “anatomical heart” was intended for Wednesday, February 13th. (The handwritten date in the illustrator’s script is extra confirmation.)

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