A clean, well-lit place to vent
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A basement is not a home. The dark and damp is bad for you. Jeff likely knows this is not a permanent solution, and Joanie should know that exiling a former kidnap victim to the basement is not a great way to foster reinsertion into society and family life. I have seen far too many homeless youth in their teens and twenties (yes, even those with wealthy or middle-class parents, like Jeff) who barely get by, using whatever means they can, because they do not feel that their parents' support is an option, or because they are too proud to ask for it. Jeff is to be commended for knowing when he needed support and assistance, and asking for it.
"Hemingwad" -- a classic keeper. Will credit when I steal. Maybe. Another day saved by GBT et al. Thanks!
Riding on luck is not a career, and "In your face! Support my bad choices!" is not the way to respect your parents. When Jeff gets a few more books in the stores, hires a financial advisor instead of blowing his advance, and treats his parents with respect instead of showing them he's still mentally a teenager, then we can consider him successful.
Re DEPRESSING REALITY: There are already two comic strips about "selfish, self-centered semi-adults who refuse to take any responsibility for anything," namely Zits (who blames his parents for everything) and Dustin (whose parents blame him for everything). They may be forever stuck in their Möbius strip story lines, but Jeff at 30 is still working on his adulthood, and we can expect great things from him; great adventures, great gains, great losses, great grief, great joy, and a lot of crashing and burning and laughing (on our part) along the way. He is still his mother's son; Joanie has her own road-rash scars that painfully shine from time to time. Perhaps someday Jeff's heart will break and he will learn empathy and compassion, but not every so-called adult does, and some learn it very late in life. Until then (if ever): Onward, Sorkh Razil !
These youngsters are the reason I am going back to school at the age of sixty-three. I want to be there when Zipper finds out there is nothing new under the sun.
Jeff's parent's should cut him a break. While his work with the CIA and mercenary work might have been an hilarious example of the Peter Principle at work, his writing, for which he is a legitimate success (even if he has blown through his first advance with grandeur), means he likely will have at least the oportunity for more income going forward. I think a good portion of Jeff's parents' reaction is schadenfreude. They are clearly persons who are not where they wished they would be at this point in their lives, and seeing their child succeed has left them bitter at their own failures. They seem to take far more pride in his failure than they did in his ability to create and market a popular fictional character and universe.
Jeff's career as a writer has been all his own, and something his parents should be proud of. That we've barely seen a kind word spoken to Jeff by them this entire story arc says so much about the dysfunction of this family. When he was a success his parents' reaction was incredulity; in defeat their reaction is schadenfreude. If Jeff is a self-indulgant bore (and no doubt he is) it is not hard to see from whence he learned such traits. The Red Rascal will likely ride again, but even if he does not, Jeff has already acheived more than many people ever do. It would be nice if his parents actually acknowledged this at some point.
Watching Joanie be fooled by Jeff takes it out of the realm of comedy for me, and into the too-depressing reality I see with several of my friends. I wish there was a comic-strip solution to their problem: immature, selfish, self-centered semi-adults who refuse to take any responsibility for anything and blame their parents for everything. One friend finally (finally!) showed her offspring the door and six months later, everyone is doing better. But mothers hold out hope, even until the last, that they will be able to save their babies. It makes my heart ache to see it.
Jeff's parents know him well enough to know that he isn't going to do anything useful. They aren't ready to lay down the law or throw him out on the street. That's part of how he got to be the way he is.
Joanie's error was to overlook the necessity for accountability. Right now, Jeff doesn't have to show his work and he's in breach of his agreement -- and, for now, getting away with it. He still lives in a fantasy world where he just bumbles along, ducking and weaving, evading responsibility, indulging his appetites, postponing his work and rationalizing his actions with easy self-deception. Every instance of "de-entitlement" he has undergone so far has only been a temporary setback. He always reverts to type. Me, I'd throw him out, but that's probably not an effective means to satire.
You'd think Jeff's parents would want to see what he produces, given his track record with them.
If I were Jeff, I would have negotiated a better deal in terms of scheduling: chores in the morning and then writing in the afternoon or evening. Preferably in the kitchen or living room, with everyone seeing him doing the writing from his laptop so that there is no fear that he might be shirking his part of the deal.
Re OPPONENT: Jeff's job, as with any feckless lad, is to fantasize. But, as GBT renders him, he is clever enough to pop up ahead of the idlers in the daydream department and so manages to get it down in writing for editors to put into communicable shape. That's something, I'll grant you. But still, he has yet to prove himself of any real human worth, that is, to actively care about and care for people other than himself. Then maybe he could write something substantial.
It's a big problem for the culture, for art, for literature, for Hollywood: How can a writer, a producer, a director, portray circumstances where people act within the real range of human potential, do extraordinary things while possessed of the same capabilities, the same vulnerabilities as us human beings, and maybe show what is real hero's work involving real sacrifice, without the crutch of fantasy powers -- and still make a buck? Superheroes are a safer bet. We'll pay to float upon the dream of being thus endowed, hardly challenged to imagine what might be our own real potential in difficult circumstances. It is harder to sell or engage art of substance, art that's challenging.
Meanwhile Rick, as he is given to us, has to engage and decipher the complexities of the real world and make sense of it, render it in intelligent perspective, and, perhaps, in so far as his blog would survive, give his readers insight. That's real work. The father/son psychology here is so interesting: Rick -- too much into the world; Jeff -- too far out of it.
Well, let's be fair: Jeff's job is harder than Rick's. Jeff has to invent his stories, Rick only reports and discusses what is actually happening. Of course, this also means that Rick has to compete with a lot of others. Jeff's only opponent is himself. And, looking at the success he had, that is a formidable one.
I just want to thank you for the Sandbox portion of this site. Both sons were in Iraq at the same time and one also served in Afghanistan. He tells me that in 72 more years he'll be able to tell me what he was doing. I truly appreciate these little windows of enlightenment that get posted -- sometimes through tears, sometimes laughing right out loud.
I'm reporting a continuity error in today's strip: Joanie tells Zipper that he must wait until noon, which implies that Zipper is up and about before noon. Impossible.
Re LAST PAIR: Don't hold your breath. Eighteen years ago my husband said, "This is the last car we'll buy." We're on our third since then.
I believe that the motion, and the search for new ideas, is more important than the clothes. In this Mike Doonesbury is still ahead. For shoes, I would recommend buying Redwing boots and shoes, made in Redwing, Minnesota. The footwear is so comfortable it will make you pray to God. For clothes, I recommend WalMart.
My husband liked shopping at truck stops. Great Hawaiian shirts and fishing tackle in the same aisle. Also some Indian reservation tobacco stores in upstate NY are now carrying clothes in age-appropriate colors and sizes, along with gifts for the wife and kids. That was his idea of a convenience store.
Gas station underwear! I thought my husband, buying a $4.99 sweatshirt at the local drug store, was the only non-clothing-store shopper. And I wonder when Mike will reach the point my I-hate-shopping-for-clothes husband has as he settles into his 'sunset' years: "This is the last pair of shoes I'll have to buy."
And we appear to have missed Jeff's birthday. The Red Rascal turned 30. I look forward to the downward spiral continuing.