Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Circle of Swill

I have spent the last week in Florida with my parents. While my parents are still on the younger end of the retired community they have fully embraced retirement living. Their days are filled with bridge and canasta games, complaining about the home owner's association, considering 72 degrees to be "chilly" and planning meals my father has discovered in various magazines. Don't be quick to think that I am mocking their lifestyle, far from it in fact. If I could substitute poker for bridge I would consider it quite the idyllic lifestyle. One constant of life with the parents is reading the paper in the morning. All three of us will read some if not all of the lovely Florida Times Union and proceed to mock various sections of the paper. Without going in to too much detail let's just say that the Times Union will never be confused for The New York Times. Today and tomorrow's blog posts will be related to this glorious newspaper and its contents.

When it comes to his paper choices my dad is still a six year old at heart as he grabs the comics section first. I know that some of this is so that he can get to the crossword and the sudoku before I do. This is a smart move, I would not it put it past me to put double digit numbers in every box on the sudoku just to drive him crazy. It is not merely the puzzles that motivate him, he loves the comic strips. In fact, he may like the comics more than anyone else I know. I find some sweet irony in this since he openly mocks my love of comic books. For the most part he has very good taste in comic strips; he likes Pearls Before Swine, Non Sequitor, Brevity and Get Fuzzy while he despises Sally Forth and Cathy. He seems to enjoy Andy Capp a bit more than what I would consider normal but I assume this is because he and I share far too much in common with the titular character than my mother would like. There is one comic where we don't see eye to eye, Family Circus.

Now, don't be mistaken, my dad does not like Family Circus. The problem I have with him is that he doesn't hate Family Circus and tries to convince me that my own hatred is misplaced. I can't help myself. I hate Billy, Dolly, PJ and the parents. I have a special pedestal of hatred for Jeffy. I despise every little thing about him from his mischief filled trips around the neighborhood to when he blames "not me" when he gets caught. I hate how gosh darned cute every punch line is. It's not supposed to make me laugh like other comics. No, when I read Family Circus I'm supposed to give a delicate little sigh about how precocious and wonderful childhood is. Fuck that. I don't want my comics to be wholesome. I want to see Lucky Eddie take an arrow in the ass or watch Calvin steer him and Hobbes off a cliff in their trusty wagon. I want slapstick and fun, maybe a darkish premise being made light of (like Andy Capp's alcoholism). The last thing I want is to say "Aw shucks, ain't kids grand?"

In the movie Go Timothy Olyphant's character spoke about his disdain for the Family Circus. He put it better than I can when he said; "Okay. You sit down and read your paper, and you're enjoying your entire two-page comics spread. Right? And then there's the Family fucking Circus, bottom right-hand corner, just waiting to suck." Much like his character I can't do the mature thing and just skip reading The Family Circus. I'm oddly compelled by it and I force myself to read it whenever I see it. Look, I know the names of the character's for God's sake, this proves that I actually read the stupid comic. I don't know why I can't avoid it but every time I'm sucked in. Without fail I slam my coffee on the table and start complaining to anyone within earshot about the supposedly sweet bullshit that Dolly just did and how no child ever actually acts like that and blahblahblah.

Despite my searing hatred for The Family Circus I have been sucked in nonetheless. I probably read it just as often if not more often than comics that I actually enjoy. If I'm in a hurry I might not get a chance to look at Pearls Before Swine (probably the best comic currently running) but you can be damn sure I'll look at the bottom of the page just to make myself upset. It's sort of like a five hour energy for my rage. I don't know why I do this, I sort of wish that I didn't, but I guess it's just a messed up gene that I have. I assume it's the same gene that makes me watch Fox News or read New York Yankees fan sites, I seem to enjoy making myself angry. If only I had some sort of outlet for all of this rage. . .

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