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Regarding the new Straw Poll about the holidays, I offer this quote from Harlan Ellison: "Christmas is an awfulness that compares favorably with the great London plague and fire of 1665. No one escapes the feelings of mortal dejection, inadequacy, frustration, loneliness, guilt and pity. No one escapes feeling used by society, by religion, by friends and relatives, by the utterly artificial responsibilities of extending false greetings, sending banal cards, reciprocating unsolicited gifts, going to dull parties, putting up with acquaintances and family one avoids all the rest of the year; in short, of being brutalized by a 'holiday' that has lost virtually all of its original meanings and become a merchandising ploy for color TV set manufacturers and ravagers of the woodlands."
As a professional writer with teenagers who are writing their own novels, I couldn't be prouder of them. At the same time, I was a lot like Jeff as a kid (though my dad was much better than Rick). My hope is that this will kick Rick into gear and he will write the book he should have written a long time ago.
I'm afraid I want Jeff to get a swift and unequivocal dose of reality on the Red Rascal front. For cryin' out loud, the dang kid is still living with his parents! He will have earned the right to feel superior when he has a real job and pays his own rent. Rick is being crabby about it all, and he has fallen from the heights, but then he had somewhere to fall from.
I don't think Rick is trying to punish Jeff or puncture his dream. To me, he's just trying to inject some reality into the situation. In real life, of course, a journalist like Rick would probably have a few books of his own under his belt and know whereof he speaks.
I think there are two ways of interpreting the Rick/Jeff interaction. One, Jeff's way, is to see his father's remarks as belittling his success. The other possible interpretation is that Rick is trying to stop Jeff getting carried away with his success before he is actually successful -- a parental effort to protect a child from pain if things don't turn out as well as he is expecting, particularly in a situation where success cannot be taken for granted. Jeff does have a track record of Fiasco!
The generational division between Jeff and his parents in terms of how they regard success is quite interesting and glaring. Both Joanie and Rick are hard-working professionals and devoted parents. Jeff represents an element in society that believes that success can be achieved by faking it, and does not involve a lot of hard work. His slacker ethos and hapless adventures for the CIA and their mercenaries (and even there he's not highly regarded) have been the source of much mirth.
Rick isn't begrudging success. Rick is begrudging that Jeff is succeeding despite having done nothing of any value. Jeff's living in a fantasy world in which he equates imaginary stories as being equivalent to having actually done something that required effort. And, to get meta, even though his accomplishment hasn't accomplished anything (his books have only been shipped, not sold), he still thinks he's accomplished something. Of course Rick's angry and upset. He's raised an idiot. An idiot-child who can't succeed at anything except by wild luck. It's like watching Dubya grow up.
I detest Rick in this thread. Jeff is finally starting to do something with his life and his father is cutting the legs out from under him. Isn't part of parenting being happy for your kid when he finds his niche in life?
Jeff has an intense fantasy life. When he was in Afghanistan and not screwing things up, he fantasized the Red Rascal. Now he fantasizes writing a bestseller. Don't take it seriously.
I think there's something Joanie's not telling us. Why does Jeffrey look so much like Duke? Why does Jeffrey act so much like Duke? Could there be a cuckoo in the nest?
Jeff is being used by Bekka and the publishing house. He likes it now, but it may not wear well, especially if somehow Jeff matures into a more substantial and deep person. It's a longshot but you never know. People do grow up. Rick is being supportive by telling Jeff how publishing works. Honest advice is a good thing. No point in sugarcoating Jeff's shallow endeavor.
Is Becca, once again, the only adult in the room? This has been going on a long time, but it is getting dysfunctional when irony replaces approbation. I'm sure the son is showing his version of adulthood via material success, and the father is showing protective restraint -- until we get to the part about supporting fantasies. Plain old human nature with baggage keeps turning a bonding into a rank-off. You can see how the crowd approves of that.
Jeez Rick, no wonder your kid is messed up. Instead of celebrating the publication of your son's book, you're giving him a hard time. It ain't easy being a writer; you should know that. Frankly, I hope it sells well enough that there are even more Red Rascal books.
Jeff seems to be a favourite target, but "as ye sow, so shall ye reap." I'm in the process of working my way through the archives. I'm up to 1989 and I've seen a half dozen or so parenting failures that may not excuse, but do explain, Jeff's relationship with his father. Here's one.
I have never been uncomforable before with a Doonesbury series of strips, but the last several days where Rick begrudges Jeff's success is hard to read. It's diametrically opposed to the usually hard-wired instinct of parents to want the best for their children -- although the jealousy has been part of their relationship and growing and I understand where it's coming from. Until now part of the reason I enjoyed the strip so much was that it mirrored my views, political and otherwise. I guess i'll have to broaden the ways I relate to Doonesbury!
The Great Redfern Kitchen Standoff is really illuminating the current generational divide in this microcosm. I'm surprised at the vitriol aimed at poor Jeff, who, after all, has served his country -- if not all that successfully. He's hapless, not evil. And he's surely not the only member of his generation to boomerang. Rick is jealous and petty and wholly unsupportive of his own son in a way that's meant to undermine him in what is probably his first moment of success. It's odd to see folks rooting for that. I wonder if this is what we have to look forward to as the Boomers age, embittered by the collapse of the prosperous culture they consumed.
Everybody wants to punish the Red Rascal, but I can remember when Jeff's mom interrupted negotiations and sold his and Zipper's business plan to Mike Doonesbury for like 100 bucks. Mike is probably still living off vulture.com.
I'd like Jeff to see his book sell a million copiies, only to have the rights and proceeds confiscated by the government to recoup the money lost on that rescue mission to Afghanistan. Oh, and on top of the $50,000,000 bribe he made to Karzai without authorization (paid by the US), add $90 for the cost of his repatriation from the Taliban kidnappers.
Oy! This Redfern kid has operated drones, mistakenly shot down a US helicopter, given $1 million of his boss's money to the wrong person and created a wold of his own delusions. His father was a professional journalist of stature who has been reduced to blogging, and this kid is proud of himself? His family needs to kick his butt so far out of their lives that he finally hits the wall of reality.
Jeff is being twerpy, but also he's trying to individuate and show his father he's his own person. His dad poops on his ideas, his alter ego identity, etc. Jeff is trying to be his own man and live his own life, and his twerpiness is his way of telling his dad, "See I told you so" and "Now you can accept me as my own person." It may fail the "Honor thy father" statute, but it's a pattern played out in hundreds of millions of families worldwide.