CSotD: Human Nature and other follies

Mr. Boffo offers a bit of safe harbor for troubled marriages and thank goodness for finicky cats. Our cat ate Friskies kibble every day without a complaint and maybe that’s why our marriage didn’t last: We didn’t have cat food to agree to disagree about.

Somebody was kvetching on social media yesterday about how half of marriages end in divorce, but that’s a bogus statistic, because it counts every marriage instead of factoring in the people who screw things up more than once.

I’ll confess to viewing second marriages along the line of Mark Twain’s observation that a cat who sits on a hot stove lid won’t sit on a hot stove lid again but also won’t sit on a cold one. Having blown one marriage, I was reluctant to chance another, but I realize a more optimistic person could sit on yet another hot lid. Or two.

I’d have pretty dismal stats myself, if I’d tied every knot I contemplated.

Unless we had finicky cats to keep us together.

There doesn’t seem to be any one reason marriages last, and cartoonist/physician Nathan Gray had a substantial graphic discussion of the matter in the Washington Post this past weekend. It’s so much worth taking a look at the whole thing that I’ve gifted it to lift the paywall, but, as noted, don’t go there expecting a magical revelation because there isn’t one.

Hat tip on spotting that, by the way, to Mike Lynch, whose blog had its 17th anniversary earlier this month just as mine was having its 13th. No particular reason for those to last so long either, I suppose, except that I equate doing this to running every morning: A good way to wake up the brain.

Lynch and I combined are a year short of Non Sequitur (AMS), which turned 31 this week. Maybe winter lockdown inspires creativity, since I don’t think counting back on the calendar will reveal a reason for all these February births.

(Old Joke: “How long does it take to have a baby? The first one can come any time. After that, it takes nine months.” Vestige of a bygone era.)

Wiley is right, though I haven’t seen water labeled like that. I have seen vegetarian ketchup, however, and all sorts of other vegetable products labeled “cholesterol free.”

And while I acknowledge that people who genuinely need to avoid gluten are thrilled by the explosion of products marketed to people who genuinely don’t, I remain skeptical about all the things claiming to be probiotic.

Besides, if taking too many antiseptics can make you antiseptic-resistant, what happens if you eat too many acai berries?

Meanwhile, I’m really sick of the flood of commercials for those pills that you can take instead of eating fruits and vegetables, particularly since, amid all the claims of how much better you’ll feel if you take their pills, they say you should also eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, .

Next up, labels claiming to be “rich in placebos!”

Though, as Paul Noth suggests in this homage to Henri Matisse, nobody really wants to be in the placebo group.

Here’s a second cartoon from the New Yorker, this one from Tom Chitty, with a discouraging message about how things work outside the imaginary world we learned about in the days when Marvel was among the many media outlets promoting good values.

Long before Spider-Man, we were spoon-fed inspiring stories about heroes like Zorro and Robin Hood standing up against evil government officials, despite Disneyland’s policy of barring entry to people who looked as though they might.

And today’s Lockhorns (KFS) sparked a memory of those days when we were supposed to admire Zorro but not act like him, and one specific memory in particular:

Joel Beck‘s classic seems mostly like a gag, since none of us ventured into barber shops in the late 60s, not so much because of the risk of bad vibes as because of the risk of bad haircuts.

Much as I treasure the memories of the Good Old Days, we let our girlfriends trim us up, since they had a better grasp of current fashion. As my friend Charley once remarked, “The last time I bought hair, it was very poorly cut.”

That was then and this is now and I’m becoming a cranky old man who gets a laugh out of this Jonesy piece, though I hope Satan also has a pool of torture for radio and TV reporters who begin every response with “Yeah.”

I spent a decade mentoring middle-school print journalists, but the challenges there were not a matter of verbal tics.

Rather, I had to deprogram them from the kind of writing they were rewarded for at school, starting with telling them that, while teachers only assign books you are expected (required) to like, in a book review you should say it wasn’t any good if that is your opinion.

I also tried desperately to get them to not describe anything as amazing or awesome unless it genuinely left them face down on the ground unable to speak, and to stop beginning their final paragraph with that ghastly, unnecessary teacher-favorite word “overall.”

When we were forced to shut down the publication, one of the kids sent me this thank-you graphic.

I would add “actually” to the list of banned words, because, as seen in today’s Wallace the Brave (AMS), it generally falls into a category with “Seriously?” as words used by people who could use a good poke in the snoot.

Though what really appeals to me in this strip is that Wallace’s mom knows what is in his comic books. It’s part of an overall pattern of his parents knowing and caring about him rather than viewing him as a mysterious annoyance.

That may also be why I feature Betty (AMS) here so often. The comics pages are full of dysfunctional couples and parents who seem to despise their children, but there’s plenty of humor in nice people, too.

Man Overboard takes a brief respite from Biblical humor to make much the same point.

Too Soon?

Finally, to prove I haven’t gone all mushy and decent, I’ll share my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad reaction to the coincidental timing of this F Minus (AMS).

9 thoughts on “CSotD: Human Nature and other follies

  1. ‘though I hope Satan also has a pool of torture for radio and TV reporters who begin every response with “Yeah.”’

    Yeah, I’ve become annoyed with that, too . . . WHY do they do that? They sound so surprised that someone is turning the show over to them.

    I worked with someone who, whenever she called someone and s/he answered, ALWAYS started the conversation by saying, ‘OH!’, as tho she was surprised that someone answered (this was before cell phones). Drove me up a wall, figuratively speaking.

  2. My brother taught me to use the response “Oh” when someone makes a statement and you wish to appear interested yet mostly noncommittal or in fact uninterested.

  3. Some single-sentence reactions to today’s offering:

    Has the U.S. ever produced a better writer/observer of human nature than Mark Twain?

    I know Nathan Gray through graphic medicine, like him and his work a lot, and think it’s a HUGE game-changing deal for him to be published in the Washington Post.

    Mike Lynch is a terrific person, cartoonist, and unheralded national treasure.

    You may recall that I have a gluten-free-for-medical-reasons wife who is indeed happy that the fad caught on but finds gluten-free salt, jelly, oil, rice, potatoes, etc. etc. hilarious.

    I am not gluten-free, but find that if I go too long without it as a result of being married to someone who is, a modest serving of bread can cause enough GI distress to make me either resolve to eat more of it or swear off it for good.

    The Noth cartoon is excellent.

    The Chitty cartoon makes me sad because it’s true.

    The Beck cartoon is great; never seen it, thanks for posting it.

    Wallace’s mom is the best.

    Yeah, overall you’re amazingly awesome.

  4. Also, gotta disagree with you on the merits of the “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” interlude. It’s a jarring anachronism and momentum-killer, absolutely, but you’re missing that its narrative purpose is not to advance the story. It’s there to make the viewer fall in love with Katherine Ross. Always worked for me!

    1. Not an anachronism in one sense — Bicycles were a huge fad at the time of the movie’s setting, though the music surely is. Following the Czech avantgarde innovations, there was a period in which every movie needed a montage, some of which worked, many of which involved multiple screen-within-screen imagery. The one in Charly (same vintage) worked well, advancing the characters’ unlikely, doomed romance. As you note, the one in Butch & Sundance most certainly did not. I think filmmakers have recovered from it all.

      1. Oh, I don’t mind the bicycle. The painful needle-scratch is the song, it’s SO 1969. Maybe it wouldn’t grate as much if it hadn’t become a top-ten hit. You’re right about Charley. And I don’t miss the “jazzy score over split-screen action” (e.g., The Thomas Crown Affair) at all, although I kind of admire it as the cinematic technique that most closely resembles comics.

        But Katherine Ross . . . Sigh.

  5. So. I presume Seamus Heaney’s at the bottom of that pool, since he’s responsible for the trend.

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