They'll Do WHAT Every Time?

Bloggified by Jake on Saturday, September 9, 2006

I may be way behind the curve on this one, but you'll have to forgive me as I haven't read a daily newspaper on a regular basis in about six years and haven't read more than the sports page in about fifteen years. This is how I totally missed out on the whole Sudoku thing until a few months ago.

Recently, I became aware of a rash of comic strips in which the creator doesn't even try to come up with his own jokes. Instead, he'll appeal to readers to send in their own suggestions and turn them into comics.Brilliant as this idea might seem, the laziness benefits are far outweighed by the "not making any sense" flaw. Have you ever given a "you know how..." or "it's like when..." example from your life to a friend and found that something you or your family does and considers perfectly normal (like eating peanut butter and bacon sandwiches or not being circumcized) is disgusting and borderline perverted by the standards of others?

For example, when I was growing up, my family had a much for relaxed attitude about nudity than other families did. We weren't nudists, but we also didn't rush to "cover our shame" when someone walked past the door while we were getting dressed. In fact, I regularly would help put lotion on my mother's back when she got out of the shower. Let me stress, there was nothing sexual about it and I wasn't being abused; it was just a matter of it being easier for someone else to wipe lotion between your shoulder blades than to reach that spot yourself and if I happened to be walking past the bathroom as she was drying off I would lend a hand. My mother had several surgeries as I was growing up so helping with things like that was about the equivalent of changing bandages and never even registered as anything out of the ordinary.

But try starting a story with your twelve year old friends with "So I was rubbing lotion on my naked mother's back..." and see how quickly the conversation you intended to have gets sidetracked.

My point is that instead of "slice of life" observational humor, these comics instead give a frightening look into the lives of the readers who shared the jokes based on their own belief that "this is perfectly normal behavior." The worst of this genre has to be They'll Do It Every Time.

Created in 1929 as a fill-in for a missing editorial cartoon, the comic depicts little hypocrisies in human nature as shared by its readers. In addition to the already discussed, "I've never had that experience" factor, the strip is also plagued by antiquated ideals representative of the octagenarians submitting jokes and bizarre narration that's heavy on asides and... for lack of a better term, snorting.

Here are just a few choice selections (or select choices) from the last few weeks:Ha ha, abusive spouses are funny! Let's all have a chuckle over N. Locasio's story of how her husband loses his shit, belittles her, and threatens to smack her around for giving him a sandwich for dinner. But here's the kicker: he likes to eat his corned beef and cabbage with bread! Clearly there is no difference between a few slices of cold turkey with some mayo and a tomato on a kaiser roll and a corned beef dinner if you're just going to eat it between two slices of bread.

In his defense, however, if you look at his criticism, he isn't upset that the food is between two slices of bread. He's upset that his wife, who sits at home all day watching her stories and doing some light dusting while he works his ass off and foregoes desperately needed orthodontia so she can buy multiple versions of the same outfit in different colors, couldn't be bothered to dedicate more than four minutes to making his dinner. Whether that justifies swinging around an open hand Ike Turner-style and knocking condiments on the floor remains to be seen. I think we can safely say, though, that both sides are partially justified in their respective feelings and might want to discuss their differences rationally instead of airing them in a newspaper cartoon.

Since abusive spouses are so funny:Hee hee hee... his son and wife are terrified! This one's going on the fridge. Look at how the furniture is falling over! What kind of asshole tries to improve the schools and infrastructure of his town? If he's so damn dedicated to improving things, he should listen to his wife's brilliant plan to put a skylight in the living room of their two story house. Just because her outdoor shower never gets used doesn't mean her new ideas are stupid too.

Oh, but husbands aren't the only assholes in marriages.How do you think it will affect these kids when they watch their father die before their very eyes while their mother doesn't even bother to pause in her incesant nagging to dial 911?

Sometimes when I read comics, I reflect back on when I was a kid and my grandma would cut out a comic that was particularly funny or pertinent to my life and send it to me or put it on the fridge. When you read comic strips online, there is almost always an "Email this comic to a friend" button to click. Obviously some comics (Mary Worth, Judge Parker, etc.) aren't trying to give you a witty, fridge material bon mot, but this comic seems to be trying for exactly that. The goal every day is to make people say, "Yup, I can relate to that." But who would put this on their fridge?

Passive aggressive jerks in loveless marriages who want to piss off their spouses, that's who.Uh-oh, M. Grovey doesn't understand advertising and thus thinks he's pointing out something witty! Did you ever notice how when you buy beer at the store, its bottle says it tastes the best... BUT then when you watch a commercial for a competing brand you find out the first beer may have misled you? But wait a minute, what if the second beer is the lying beer and the first beer really does taste better?!?!

Someone wipe the brain matter and skull fragments off of M. Grovey's monitor after he read that last sentence.Hey, Shirley Waxbom, did you ever think of getting off your ass and making something to eat instead of just bitching? Your cousin may not be a very good cook, but if she's the only one bringing food to a huge party, I think the rest of your family needs to shut their fucking mouths unless they are thanking her for feeding your ungrateful asses."Wot hoppens?" I'm going to guess the cartoonist's editor gives up on even trying to read the text in his inane ramblings about a baseball team with an inept general manager who built a team with speed despite having a stadium that caters to power hitters or vice versa. Is that "wot hoppens?" Heh heh heh.

Have you tried reading any of these out loud? Al Scaduto is trying--painfully so--to make them read conversationally, like Brian Michael Bendis. Unfortunately, they read like someone trying to sound like someone speaking conversationally... well, like Brian Michael Bendis. Instead of punctuation, he uses, "Huh? Yeah. Then guess what... you got it!"L. Ravitz of Boston doesn't think fat people can read a doctor's chart telling them what a patient can or cannot eat. Seriously, I want to know what L. Ravitz's letter said. "Some hospital dieticians are fat." Yeah, that's a comedy goldmine.

You know who else is fat? L. Ravitz. This "joke" is clearly the upset ranting of a man who went in for a triple bypass and was bitter toward the dietician who wouldn't let him have chili cheese fries in the ICU.

And on the topic of hospitals:It took me a second to realize this was saying, "When you're in the hospital and you get an important call, people start bothering you." At first, I just thought it was "When you get a long distance call in general, people with rectal thermometers are ten times as likely to come waltzing in the door unannounced."

Maybe it's because I've never had to conduct business from a hospital bed that this doesn't ring true for me, but I also think there's something skeevy about the way it's written. With that "Ever happen to you?" opening and "Oh-h, YEAH!" closing, I'm just uncomfortable imagining B. Durschlag saying this too me. I imagine it being delivered much the same way he might say, "Ever happen to you? Some whore is suckin' yer crank and you're just about to blow a load in her mouth when she slips her thumb up yer ass--and here comes the big parade! Oh-h YEAH!"

What fucking world is this? First off, I understand They'll Do It Every Time exists in a kind of temporal paradox. Most of the time people drive cars with fins, men wear fedoras, wives have no lives outside the house, and Negroes drink from separate but equal drinking fountains, yet at times those same people feel the need to comment on Ipods or skateboards or video games or whatever other things the submitters' grandchildren have brought with them to serve as a buffer against having to spend time with grandma and grandpa on their most recent visit.

That said, I'm assuming this might have been a depiction of the way Al Scaduto remembers childbirth in 1954, but I still don't buy it. From my personal experience, I can tell you I delivered both my children, cut their cords, and delivered the placentas and never had to wear a mask. My daughter was admitted to the Natal Intensive Care Unit when she was born and we never had to wear masks, nor did any of the other parents, not even the ones whose kids could fit in the palm of your hand.

Furthermore, we didn't let anyone smoke around them either. Their mom's parents smoke like chimneys but they weren't allowed to smoke within thirty feet of the babies. Hell, my daughter is five now and her grandparents go outside their own home to smoke when she visits them. What kind of fucking neglectful parents put their newborn babies into a room so thick with smoke it looks like a Sherlock Holmes movie?

N. Gaines, your family is full of assholes.This reminds me of the moment where I truly gave up on organized religion. I was at "Campfirmation," a week long bible study camp that was the capstone to our two years of confirmation classes. Unlike everyone else there, I was genuinely interested in asking questions about our church and why we believed what we believed and addressing perceived falacies and contradictions in the bible. This made me utterly hated by all the other campers. The big turning point was when a girl tried to wax philosophical about God and what He was and said, "It's just one of those philosophical things no one can ever really know the answer to, like 'Why is the sky blue?'" I blurted out, "Because of refraction of sunlight through droplets of water in the atmosphere!" and was dubbed "Mr. Wizard" for the remainder of the week.

How does that relate? Hey, B. Sherman of Portland, the Mississippi River is more than four miles wide at some points and only twenty feet wide at others, but that doesn't make it the Mississippi Creek in some areas. Google solved your philosophical riddle in .25 seconds, dumbass!

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