Bonus for a lazy Sunday afternoon — The Polls are Open

But truth to tell, we just wanted an excuse to try out the poll feature and see if it really works. So here are two cases where various and sundry editors and senders-in were unsure whether and how to agree on how something would be taken, and said: let the vox pop have a say.

First up, Boise Ed sent this one in as a CIDU, asking: “What does the Casper the Friendly Ghost toon have to do with mattresses?”

However, it turns out the puzzle entirely dissolves, and the connection is clear, for people who happen to be aware of a certain fact. But is this a fact most readers will know, or only a few? And then, when you do know, is the cartoon a good joke, or a shrug?

Please record your view in the poll just below. And commenters, please refrain from explaining it all for about 24 hours, if you don’t mind. Thanks!

Next up, Andréa and Chak both sent in this Reality Check of a giant feline on the rampage!

It’s been called a CIDU, a LOL/Oy , and an Ewww. As CIDU: “What is this, just Catzilla? Or is there more to it?” . The Oy factor is the wordplay from the usual sense of “Big box store” for the kind of building, to an idea that it could mean a place to obtain a big box. The Ewww might be if you thought the giant cat wanted to find a suitably large litter box. And the LOL reading is still with the idea of obtaining a very big box, but just for the giant cat’s comfort and amusement — just like your housecat, who will play with and curl up in an empty cardboard box even in preference to the toy or pet bed that may have come in it.


  1. Worked okay for me. Then showed the vote so far, after submit. Percents were for total of 3 votes in one case, 4 in the other.

  2. Phil, I entered those choices on your behalf.

    It didn’t care that I was re-voting (from the same IP and browser and everything) .

    If you’ve seen Twitter polls, they (1) block if you try to re-vote from same login (2) offer a “just show me the results”. Both are improvements on this one.

  3. Or the Catzilla could be heading for the Big Box Store building itself to make use of as a box.

  4. Yeah.. I voted twice in both too. If you come back or refresh the poll shows afresh.

    Also I’d be curious to view the poll results without voting and …. you can’t.

  5. I guess when adding a poll one could put in a choice “Just show me the results” — but that would be counted and distort the percents for the other answers.

  6. Casper/ Matress, no idea.

    Kitten Kong – I got it after thinking for a few seconds. Not aa CIDU. Not particularly funny. I selected LOL as the closest, even though I didn’t.

  7. I’m not surprised I can’t vote (because of my browser and settings). I am surprised that I can’t even see a vote link.

    As for the first one, I am “aware of a certain fact”. But I’d rate it no better than a shrug.

  8. Good suggestions for next time we try this poll feature. A “just show me the results”, some sort of “none of the above”, some sort of “I don’t like it enough to care about the category”. …. I say For next time, as the ones in this post cannot be edited without discarding the results to date.

  9. Right, because one of the problems right now is that you (or at least I) can’t get updates on the poll numbers after the thread is refreshed.

  10. I voted “CIDU” on the first one — I hope you are planning on revealing the “certain fact” in the near future, so that those of us who are clueless will not have to hunt for it unaided. I didn’t bother voting on the second one, because my preferred choice was not offered in the menu: “Mostly lame“.

  11. Pardon my ignorance, but I would certainly like to hear the fact about Casper that I’m supposed to know.

  12. We haven’t quite reached the 24 hours requested in the post (for holding back on explaining the Casper one) but there haven’t been a lot of amusing wild guesses, so I think it’s fair game now to just disclose-away!

  13. I feel like we’re far enough into the comments that it’s probably reasonable to give context to the people who didn’t have context before:

    Casper is, besides being a friendly ghost, the name of a company that sells mattresses online. They are one of the companies that advertises on podcasts — if a podcast you listen to is ad-supported, there are some products that it’s pretty much guaranteed to have ads for — Squarespace, Casper, MeUndies, Blue Apron, Quip, and/or some of their competitors. Casper advertises on ALL ad-supported podcasts that I’ve listened to.

    If a podcast isn’t 100% Patreon-supported, or supported by some other thing like the BBC or NPR or the fact that two guys who have been friends since grad school and eventually became professors of medieval literature have managed to scam their respective departments into thinking that “running a podcast about Icelandic Sagas” was a thing that was appropriate for tenure-track professors to do with college resources, then it’s got ads for Casper matresses.

  14. ryanberickson, not quite. I listen to no podcasts, but I read an article comparing options where the information important to understanding this was mentioned.

  15. Thank you Ian for the full explanation!

    Here are latest poll results. In either case, there is at least one extra vote from me getting the results to show (for lack of foresight to provide a null option); but probably more than one, as others may have been checking too. So I won’t get specific on corrective subtractions needed.

    Poll 1 Casper

    Poll 2 Catzilla

  16. To me, that’s what prevents this from even having the potential of being a great joke. It sits in the awkward intersection between “incomprehensible” and “obvious.” If you don’t know that Casper is the name of a foam mattress company that advertises incessantly on podcasts, then you have no chance of knowing what the joke means. If you do know that Casper is the name of a foam mattress company that advertises incessantly on podcasts, then you’ve already had this “joke” go through your own mind at least once per episode of every ad-supported podcast you’ve ever heard, and you don’t need someone else to make the joke for you. Even fantasy humor podcasts are tired of the joke — the first couple times Casper advertised on “Hello from the Magic Tavern”, the wizard made comments about how he had personally certified that the mattresses were ghost-free, but, at this point, they don’t even try to make jokes related to that, because there’s nothing you can do that isn’t too obvious to bother.

    Ken Levine says that the Cheers writers’ room had the “rule of 2’s” — if two writers pitched essentially the same joke, then you discarded it, even if you thought it was funny. If two writers thought of it, most of the audience would have thought if it, too, so you weren’t adding anything. And this isn’t a rule of 2’s situation — this is a rule of 20million situation. I bet Casper ads have been heard at least 20 million times, and I bet that some variation of this joke popped into every listener’s head every single time.

  17. I did not know there was a Casper mattress, although I find there also seems to be a GhostBed competing against Casper, which bifurcates the joke.

  18. The most interesting part of the poll results was not the division of the votes, but the number of total votes submitted (nearly ten times as many as users who have chipped in with visible comments).

  19. I knew Casper was a mattress company but not from any podcasts, since I do not listen to podcasts. Instead I knew i from very interesting advertising campaign they had on the NYC Subwaylast year. The ads showed a series of rebus puzzles that produced answers relating to sleeping. I personally enjoyed solving them.

    Here is a link to those rebus puzzzles [sic] on the Casper website:

  20. I’ve seen Casper commercials on Facebook for several years. They finally had some retail stores around here (Dallas area), but I don’t think they’re ubiquitous enough to carry this joke. David S. Pumpkins level.
    Cats like boxes, and Big cats like big boxes. RIP Bill

  21. Huh. My parents have a Casper mattress (and I have a Purple, having decided against Casper because they didn’t have one in Twin XL). I see ads for Casper all over the place, online (I don’t listen to podcasts, I don’t do well with audio). I guess it’s because, several years ago now, I was searching for the alternative mattresses…You’d think that would be a counter-productive technique, though, if they only show the mattress ads to people who have searched for (and either bought, or decided against buying) such things. People who have never searched for Casper mattresses would probably be a more valuable market…

  22. After I bought a car, everyone on the Internet seemed to think I wanted to buy another car to go with it. Before I bought the car, nobody had any idea.

  23. Thanks for the Repo Man clip!

    When I first learned the term “synchronicity” it had the flavor of an apparently significant coincidence yet not really explicable in cause-and-effect terms. Here at CIDU we tend to use it in a freer way that is also pretty normal modern usage, for a striking coincidence but without the sense of “These occurrences must be causally linked somehow, unless it’s quasi-supernatural”.

    Wikipedia at gives that heightened older sense, which I forgot to say is also what I take from this Repo Man clip.

    Synchronicity (German: Synchronizität) is a concept, first introduced by analytical psychologist Carl Jung, which holds that events are "meaningful coincidences" if they occur with no causal relationship yet seem to be meaningfully related.

  24. Someone claims that when they come across an ad they really don’t like, they go into Google and type variations of “I hate this product” several times. Google’s algorithm causes ads for that product to not appear to them again.

    I wouldn’t bet on it working, but I also wouldn’t bet against it.

  25. Arthur: That seems really unlikely to work to me. It actually seems more likely that keyword matching would make those ads more common.

    If it’s a Google Ad, isn’t there a simpler solution of clicking feedback on the ad and saying “don’t show me this ad any more”? (This is not a rhetorical question, I have AdBlock and rarely see ads.)

  26. There is a really alarming plugin from Amazon which will watch you shopping on other sites then jump in to suggest a link to find your item or similar at Amazon.

  27. @Arthur: I had heard that some automated phone robots employed voice stress analysis, and if you were getting agitated, they jumped you straight to a human representative. I confirmed this to my own satisfaction whenever I had to call Verizon back in the day when I used them: I would ignore the useless phone tree and just start screaming invective about Verizon, and sure enough, the voice assistant would say something placating and connect me to a human. I think it was more effective than figuring out the ever changing voice menu, plus it was fun!
    If Google were smart, even if they didn’t have the feature you describe, they would implement it post haste. Sadly, I am very doubtful that Google is smart anymore….

  28. larK: Yeah, a friend who was homebound (back before we all were) was convinced that swearing at an IVR helped. I have a friend who programmed IVRs for many years, and he swears (!) that they never programmed that in, though he liked the idea. And that doesn’t mean some other company in the biz wasn’t doing it; it just wasn’t an obvious, standard, industry-wide practice.

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