Thursday, June 29, 2006

COMICS: They'll Do It Every Time

Thanks to Joshua Fruhlinger at The Comics Curmudgeon, I've been introduced to the horrors of the comic strip They'll Do It Every Time, or TDIET, as he calls it. The premise of TDIET is that its readers (which is already blowing my mind -- this thing has fans?) send in their (allegedly) wacky, zany, true-life anecdotes about the lamest, most petty shit imaginable, and a cartoon is built around it, expressing enormous disbelief and dismay at things to which 99.9% of the population would have this reaction: "Yeah? So?"

Every single strip is, without exception, brain-damagingly stupid. Each installment of this comic kills 5,000,000 brain cells of anyone unfortunate enough to witness it. But this particular strip, which Josh posted this week, I fear may actually be making me insane:

I can't stop looking at it. It's burrowing into my mind.

So many things in it fascinate me, in a detached, shellshocked kind of way, like those soldiers in the opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan who were numbly fascinated by their own blown-off limbs. There's the giant red backpack young Zigmunt (Zigmunt?) is wearing -- is he going to school, or is he packing for two weeks of survival training in the desert? There's the forced, dated hepcat way the narrator has of phrasing things (which comes across even more strongly in other strips): "Like, we mean, listen in." And why is the narrator so baffled: "Huh? What'd he say?" You're the one drawing the comic. I think you know what he said. The cloud of question marks over young Zigmunt's (Zigmunt??) head. The bizarreness -- so far above and beyond residual problems with English as a second language -- of Pop's sentence, "So vot is German Mama und I could help you vith?" "Vot is German"?? The way Pop says "skool," as though changing the "ch" to "k" somehow changes the pronunciation of the word, or makes it more German. Mama's switch from "Ya" in panel one to "Ja" in panel two. The overriding presumption that it makes no sense for a kid who (I'm assuming, which may be a mistake) already speaks German not to want to take a German class, that there is no redundancy to be found in a fluent German speaker taking a class to learn how to speak German, absolutely boggles my mind. How could anyone or anything outside our perfect race ever interest our son??

Then there's Zigmunt's (Zigmunt???) total bafflement over the textbook he picked out: "It says 'Buenos dias, hasta la vista' -- Wha'--? What's that mean, Pop, huh?" That sentence gives me fits. First of all, why is he so flabbergasted when he's the one who chose Spanish (it says so right on the cover of the goddam book!). Why, there are words in this book that are neither English nor German!! I am at a total loss as to what language they might possibly be!! And despite the fact that I am holding the book right in my very own hands, I have no idea what resource I should consult in the translation of these alien words!! The way he demands that Pop give him the answer he's looking for, as though Pop didn't have enough trouble with English ("Vot is German"). And what kid born in America (clues that he's American-born: lack of German accent; idea sent in by "Eddie & Liz, Boston, MA") wouldn't have at least a vague idea of what "buenos dias" means? What kid in Europe wouldn't recognize those phrases? What person, anywhere in the world? Fill in some other phrases, to get an idea of how crushingly stupid this kid must be: "It says 'Bon jour, au revoir' -- Wha'--? What's that mean, Pop, huh?" "It says 'Konichiwa, sayonara' -- Wha'--? What's that mean, Pop, huh?" "It says 'Guten Tag, auf Wiedersehen'-- Wha'--? What's that mean, Pop, huh?" (At this point, I have to assume even his parents' native tongue leaves him clueless.) HOW DO YOU NOT KNOW WHAT THOSE WORDS MEAN? Was Zigmunt (Zigmunt????) raised in a sensory deprivation chamber? Was he cloned from a scab and some hair found in the shower drain just the day before? Was he literally born yesterday??

Just the unnecessarily extended word "So-o" had me staring slack-jawed for five minutes. Why? Why? Why does there need to be that extra "o"? Why? I don't understand. I can not comprehend the thought process that would lead to that particular choice, in this particular situation. "So-o." Why? I just, I don't -- "So-o." Just look at it. "So-o." "So-o." "So-o." What is going on? Why is the room spinning? NOTHING MAKES SENSE TO ME ANYMORE.

This comic has broken my brain. I need to go take a nap.

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