Bizarros of the Solstice, Festivus, and Christmas

Wayno/Piraro Bizarro cartoons for the 21st (Winter Solstice), 23rd (Festivus, for the airing of grievances), and 25th (Christmas Day). The first two are Christmas-related, but today’s is not (at least in any way I can see), so in a spirit of holiday orneriness, I’ll start with that one.

12/25: the Fritz Carlton:


(#1) Ritz on the fritz (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 6 in this strip — see this Page.)

Fritz Carlton: an erratic portmanteau of on the fritz ‘not functioning’ and Ritz-Carlton the luxury hotel chain. (Note: the desk clerk is a supercilious Frenchman, an imagined present-day César Ritz.)

About the Ritz. From the OED3 (June 2010) on the noun Ritz:

Etymology: < the name of César Ritz (1850–1918), Swiss hotelier and founder of a number of luxury hotels. … [AZ: which came to connote wealth, opulence, luxury, and ostentation]

The Hôtel Ritz in Paris was the first of these hotels and opened in 1898; the Ritz Hotel in London opened in 1906. The name was adopted in 1927 by the Ritz-Carlton company, which opened several hotels in the United States, the first in Boston (also in 1927). [AZ: now 108 luxury hotels and resorts in 30 countries; locally, in San Francisco and Half Moon Bay]

Phrase: U.S. colloquial. to put on the Ritz: to make a show of wealth or luxury; to behave ostentatiously or haughtily.

About on the fritz. From my 8/21/13 posting “On the fritz”:

A while back, when Ned Deily was visiting me, my iTunes produced an album of Joshua Bell playing Fritz Kreisler violin music, and Ned joked about my computer being on the fritz — and we both wondered about the source of the slang idiom. It turns out that it’s not very old — the OED‘s first cite is from 1903 — but is nevertheless of unknown origin, and the etymologies that come first to mind are very unlikely.

There’s now an extended treatment in OED3 (June 2014):

Etymology: Origin uncertain; apparently ultimately < Fritz, pet form of the German male forename Friedrich, although the motivation for its use in the constructions exemplified here is uncertain and disputed.

With on the fritz perhaps compare on the blink … This may show a special use of Fritz n.1 reflecting prejudice against German people and products, although if so the construction of the phase would be unusual, and evidence to confirm this has not been found.

It has been suggested that on the fritz immediately reflects the name of the cartoon character Fritz, one of the main protagonists (with his twin Hans) of the popular long-running cartoon strip The Katzenjammer Kids, created by German-born American cartoonist Rudolph Dirks (1877–1968), which debuted on 12 December 1897 in the Sunday supplement of the New York Journal; plots are based on the mischievous and anarchic antics of the twins, whose dialogue is written in a representation of U.S. English spoken with a German accent. However, supporting evidence for this theory is also lacking.

It has alternatively been proposed that this word may be imitative of the sound of a faulty electrical connection or of a fuse blowing (compare e.g. to go phut at phut adv.); although the earliest examples are not in the context of machinery, this association may have reinforced the word in later use.

Attested earliest in representations of the speech of individuals from New York, in early use often in on de fritz (compare e.g. quot. 1900 at sense 1a).

From the body of the entry:

colloquial (originally and chiefly U.S.).

1. a. on the fritz: in an unsatisfactory or defective state or condition; (now) esp. (of a machine, device, etc.) out of order, broken. to go on the fritz: to stop working properly.

[1st cite:] 1900 Star of Hope 25 Aug. ii. 168/1 Now you tell me ‘to lend you my ears.’ Now all dis kind of talk is on de fritz, see? And if you want me to rap to you, you’ve got to talk plain English, Sing Sing English. See?

… b. to put (something) on the fritz: to spoil, put a stop to (something). Also: to cause (a machine, device, etc.) to stop working properly.

… 2. to put the fritz on something: to spoil or put a stop to something.

12/21: Inclement Clarke Moore.


(#2) (Bizarro symbol count: 4)

This time a straightforward POP (phrasal overlap portmanteau): inclement Clarke Moore = inclement + Clement Clarke Moore. On the parts:

(in)clement weather. From NOAD:

adj. inclement: (of the weather) unpleasantly cold or wet: walkers should be prepared for inclement weather. [negative of the weather adj. clement]

adj. clement: 1 (of weather) mild: it is a very clement day. 2 (of a person or a person’s actions) merciful. [sense 1 is an extension of sense 2; the adj. in sense 2 is related to clemency and to the names Clement and Clementine]

Clement Clarke Moore. From Wikipedia:

A Visit from St. Nicholas, more commonly known as The Night Before Christmas and ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas from its first line, is a poem first published anonymously under the title Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas in 1823 and later attributed to Clement Clarke Moore, who claimed authorship in 1837.

The poem has been called “arguably the best-known verses ever written by an American” and is largely responsible for some of the conceptions of Santa Claus from the mid-nineteenth century to today. It has had a massive effect on the history of Christmas gift-giving. Before the poem gained wide popularity, American ideas had varied considerably about Saint Nicholas and other Christmastide visitors.

(No discussion here of the controversy over the authorship of the poem, since the cartoon just runs with Moore.)

12/23: Our frugal cartoonists: Jesus and the therapist. Suitable for Festivus, since J. just wants to complain (if you’re curious about Festivus, including the practice of “Airing of Grievances”, see my 12/21/18 posting “22-festoon!”). This time I’ve already posted this Bizarro Psychiatrist cartoon, with J. on the couch: my 12/23/21 posting “How much myrrh can one man use?”:


(#3) (Bizarro symbol count: 8)

But wait! There’s more. This year’s Festivus cartoon is a reworking of an earlier Bizarro, from Christmas Day two years ago:


(#4) Always with a complaint, that Yeshua! (Bizarro symbol count: 4)

This time it’s about being upstaged by Santa Claus on the day of his birth and the Easter bunny on the day of his resurrection. Meanwhile, the earlier drawing in #4 is reversed in #3; the therapists are different; Jesus’s hair has gone from light to dark brown and his hand gesture is different; and other small details have been changed. But otherwise it’s a frugal use of the comic resource.

2 Responses to “Bizarros of the Solstice, Festivus, and Christmas”

  1. Stewart Kramer Says:

    Jesus, his therapists are all Eyeball University grads! And the etymology of the name Ritz is “reeds” or “Richards/Henry” depending on who you believe, according to some quick Google results:

    https://www.houseofnames.com › ritz-family-crest
    The toponym Ritz is derived from the Old High German word “hriot” meaning reeds, and thus the name would indicate “one who dwelled near a reedy or swampy place.

    https://www.ancestry.com › name-origin › surname=ritz
    German: from a short form of the personal name Rizo, itself derived in part from Richard and in part from Heinrich (see Henry). probably an altered spelling …

    https://www.4crests.com › ritz-coat-of-arms
    This English, French and German surname of RITZ was a baptismal name ‘the son of Richard’. The name was originally derived from a Germanic root meaning ‘strong-ruler’. The name was in use among the Anglo-Saxons in the form RICEHARD. The name has numerous variant spellings which include REICH, RIKER, RICHE, RICHMAN, RIQUE, REICHE, RIEKE and RICHES.

  2. Stewart Kramer Says:

    His enlightenment of the world isn’t until 12/25, which explains the darker hair on 12/23.

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