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Lean, mean, puking machines

For Better Or For Worse, 3/4/05

Kudos to FBOFW! Generally speaking, pop culture depictions of the first three years of any human’s life are shown through some sort of rosy, gauzy filter, depicted as a nonstop cavalcade of pure unadulterated love and hugs and family togetherness and candy canes and happy happy oogie woogies boo boo bean. Too often left out are the crapping and the puking and the screaming and the screaming and the OH MY GOD THE SCREAMING MAKE IT STOP MAKE IT STOP. I mean, I know about this stuff and I don’t even have kids. But too often if you bring any of this up, especially if someone who has chosen to bring forth precious new children into this vale of tears we call “life,” you get accused of hating children in general, of hating your interlocutor’s children in particular, and of hating America.

Fortunately, our friends the Pattersons have already proven their hatred of America by their insistence on being Canadian, so FBOFW can depict the non-Ann-Geddes-little-angel side of toddlerdom with impunity. Though good taste has prevented them from taking on the feces and the vomit, they’ve tackled the screeching with gusto. Fortunately for our protagonists, in the strip after this Michael and Deanna were offered rent-free use of the apartment above them by their landlord (more proof of Canada’s capitalism-spurning anti-American hate). But at least we got to see them get close to the breaking point, which wouldn’t happen in, say, Marvin, even if they don’t actually snap.

Apartment 3-G’s Mim, who recently declared that her baby-sitting experience has, like, totally prepared her for motherhood, is clearly someone who needs to be reading this strip. Her rendezvous with Chuck is inching forward ever so slowly, but I thought this exchange was worth reproducing:

Why would Margo be mean? Um, Lu Ann, where have you been? She doesn’t need a reason — she’s Margo!

48 responses to “Lean, mean, puking machines”

  1. Bill Peschel
    March 5th, 2005 at 5:07 pm [Reply]

    Amen to that. I was the youngest, so I didn’t realize just what little shits kids can be. One is bad enough; you and your wife outnumber the little bugger, but when you get two, you’re toast.

  2. Islamorada Girl
    March 5th, 2005 at 5:39 pm [Reply]

    You don’t have to be Margo in order to be mean to Mim. That kid is such an airhead anyone could do it! Even the saintly Elly Patterson would be severely annoyed at Mim’s total cluelessness.

  3. Woodrowfan
    March 5th, 2005 at 5:39 pm [Reply]

    I didn’t think Lovey offered the 2 bedroom apartment for free, but at the same rate as their current 1 bedroom apartment.

  4. Johnny Bacardi
    March 5th, 2005 at 5:41 pm [Reply]

    Michael’s not getting the upstairs apartment rent-free, she’s going to rent it to him for the same amount as he was paying her for the one he’s in now.

    Whatta gal, that Lovey.

  5. Woodrowfan
    March 5th, 2005 at 5:41 pm [Reply]

    I think they should have horses whinny when they say Margo’s name, like in “Young Frankenstein.” Ok, it’s New York circa 1950, or whenever it is in that strip, so there are no horses, maybe dogs howling instead.

  6. Johnny Bacardi
    March 5th, 2005 at 5:42 pm [Reply]

    We wouldn’t pile on with that rent thing, would we? :)

  7. Woodrowfan
    March 5th, 2005 at 5:44 pm [Reply]

    Should we pile on Margo instead? Wait, don’t answer that.

  8. RememberByronFrost
    March 5th, 2005 at 7:22 pm [Reply]

    Speaking of Mim being an Airhead, in today’s strip she makes the simple act of applying lipstick sound like rocket science,,,,, it’s something she learned from a Magazine!


  9. RememberByronFrost
    March 5th, 2005 at 7:28 pm [Reply]

    And Josh, I can’t believe you didn’t jump on the “Rex Morgan” strip from today.

    Ms. Pointy-Chin is so trusting of the pus-encrusted grad student Vagrant living in the woods that she is now gonna bring him into her HOME.

    I love the way the word COME is emphasized in the last panel… freudian perhaps? Or is it just me?

  10. RememberByronFrost
    March 5th, 2005 at 7:31 pm [Reply]

    Sorry, forgot to mention the puzzled look on the dog’s face…. even he doubts her naivete (sp?).

    Wonder if Buck also likes to …… have unprotected sex? Ha ha !!!

  11. MLH
    March 5th, 2005 at 7:58 pm [Reply]

    And on the subject of dogs, that’s another area in which For Better of For Worse excels.

  12. Zipper the mule
    March 5th, 2005 at 8:57 pm [Reply]

    Ok, I don’t believe in beating around the bush and I’ve been waiting for a couple of weeks now to say – Meredith is the creepiest, most annoying, stupid, clumsy toddler to ever appear in comicdom. I shudder when I see her. And to tell you the truth, you’ve gotta blame the parents.

    As for Margo, she is gonna rip Chuck a new one. Booooyah! Another Apt. 3-G convert.

  13. Dub Not Dubya
    March 5th, 2005 at 9:04 pm [Reply]

    I’m wondering about today’s Apartment 3-G, where Mim accidentally compliments Margo’s looks and then quickly takes it back. Is Mim really a lesbian with a crush on Margo, or was she just horrified to accidentally say something nice to her? Of course, Margo using the word “pretty” made me think, “I’ll get you my pretty, and your little Chuck, too!”

  14. Garment Industry
    March 5th, 2005 at 9:50 pm [Reply]

  15. Woodrowfan
    March 5th, 2005 at 9:58 pm [Reply]

    Meredith is clearly a devil child and the strip will take a very different turn once she’s old enough to use her powers for evil.


  16. Oscar Blotnik
    March 6th, 2005 at 1:13 am [Reply]

    Damn, I love Margo! Thanks, CC, for introducing me to her charms!

  17. meep
    March 6th, 2005 at 5:43 am [Reply]

    Ha! Now I know y’all don’t have any kids… I’ve got two kids right now… one newborn and one not yet two (hmmm, seems familiar), and the toddler is =always= turning things over, slipping on stuff, tripping over her own feet, etc. Heck, she’s got a new trick where she jumps up, picks up her feet, and lands on her butt.

    Anyway, FBOFW is currently my life. Well, without the Canada.

  18. Joakim Ziegler
    March 6th, 2005 at 9:12 am [Reply]

    For Better Or For Worse might be honest about family life and whatnot, but it fails totally to be funny. Shouldn’t that be taken into consideration?

  19. Woodstock
    March 6th, 2005 at 9:36 am [Reply]

    Oh NO! Chuck got away without us getting a look at him. The bets on his actual appearance must continue now.

  20. Buzz Dixon
    March 6th, 2005 at 11:57 am [Reply]

    BABY BLUES manages to bring out the gross/annoyance factors of kids as well. I realize BB isn’t everyon’e cup of Metacusil, but it’s funny enough often enough to keep me reading.

    6 CHIX on occasion hits on some pretty funny spot-on infant/toddler humor as well.

    Think they’re gonna do a “Lena the Hyena” contest for Chucki?

  21. willowy1
    March 6th, 2005 at 12:35 pm [Reply]

    As an avid comics reader as a youth I now just read a select few, and FBOFW just happens to be one of them. What I like is how quickly the family ages so you don’t get bogged down in the perpetual Dennis the Mennis rut.

    The characters aren’t really that interesting, but they are mostly likeable. It has a strong family values message without preaching. Still it shows a range of human emotions both good and bad.

    Excuse me while I go hug my Mom!

  22. JohnnyC
    March 6th, 2005 at 1:10 pm [Reply]

    FBOW isn’t the only strip where characters “age.” Check out Margo’s bedroom in the Sunday strip…definitely early 50′s ranch-house modern, matching her wardrobe…which is sad because the strip was started in the 60′s, on the cusp of the sexual revolution, and that was a cool apartment with a LOT of traffic through it…Margo then was a hot young secretary who “liked men and wasn’t afraid to show it”–and she was often shown in her frilly underwear…now she’s a dowdy prude from a decade earlier with a frilly pillow on her 3-G is going backwards in time!

  23. Islamorada Girl
    March 6th, 2005 at 4:18 pm [Reply]

    Curse you, Josh and all the Joshheads, for getting me hooked on 3-G again! I went to college so I could deconstruct a soapy comic strip? Yeah, I guess so. And they all did used to wear a lot of frilly baby doll pajamas and whatnot, back in the day. But I always wondered about the professor. What’s up with him, hanging around with these hot young babes? Most
    profs, once tenured usually spend a lot of time chasing young women.

  24. lefty von righty
    March 7th, 2005 at 11:31 am [Reply]

    This morning I heard a five year old tell me, “I hate life” when I told her it was time to wake up. It was the cutest thing. I need to introduce her to Garfield’s many “I hate Mondays” strips.

  25. Sourbelly
    March 7th, 2005 at 11:38 am [Reply]

    That FBFW strip might be refreshing if it weren’t one of about 10 in a row depicting the horrors of child rearing. Mike and Deanna come off as being stupid and self-centered parents. Note that Deanna-or-is-it-Mike’s reaction to the kid falling is basically, “Oh great, another inconvenience for me.”

    Most importantly, no funny.

  26. JAR
    March 7th, 2005 at 12:06 pm [Reply]

    I don’t think funny is necessarily what FBOFW is going for most days

  27. Toni
    March 7th, 2005 at 1:50 pm [Reply]

    I agree with Sourbelly, too many “parenting sucks” strips in a row. They get tiresome. Believe me, with a 3 year old and a 1 year old, I know how crazy-chaotic and loud a house can be, and it even seems to be annoying when I read it in a comic strip, so she needs to do a few less.

  28. lefty von righty
    March 7th, 2005 at 1:57 pm [Reply]

    Right. FBOFW isn’t necessarily about being funny. A family portrait is being painted slowly over time. One aspect of this is the experience of parenting. I just got into the biz of parenting recently. I’m stepfathering a five year old who is learning to hate alarm clocks and of waking up early at her young age. I’m experiencing the joys of a crying baby at four thirty in the morning. The last two weeks of FBOFW have been a good example of “It’s Funny Because It’s True”. I’ve sent a number of these strips to my partner and we’ve been laughing out loud over them. Trying to get feed two kids, get them ready for day care, feed yourself and the cats every morning is quite a feat. This morning I had no breakfast and no coffee. It was a rough day for every one. I am squarely in the FBOFW demographic at the moment – without out the Canadianness.

  29. Sourbelly
    March 7th, 2005 at 2:44 pm [Reply]

    I’m pretty sure that Lynn Johnston is trying to be funny, but the attempts are so feeble that they’re easy to miss. Pretty much each strip has the same rhythm, with a phrase repeated over and over and then used as a semi-pun in the final frame. As to whether these vignettes ring true-to-life, to each his/her own, I guess.

  30. Islamorada Girl
    March 7th, 2005 at 2:48 pm [Reply]

    Okay. What I don’t get is why crabby Therese is having her baby shower two weeks after the baby’s birth. Is this a Canadian custom, or just another example of FBOFW’s bigotry against French Canadians?

  31. Pompodor
    March 7th, 2005 at 3:21 pm [Reply]

    FBOFW is about celebrating all things Patterson — who represent the artist’s own family. So really, it’s all about how great Lynn Johnston is. The point of this “child-rearing is hell” story arc isn’t that people who like little kids are nuts. Rather, it’s how wonderful it is that the Pattersons/Johnstons are willing to make such sacrifices on behalf of the younger generation. Somehow, over the past week, FBoFW has managed to be both self-serving and not funny.

    On a completely unrelated note, it looks like Doonesbury is tackling Hunter s. Thompson’s death this week. That should make for some interesting strips…

  32. lynette
    March 7th, 2005 at 9:44 pm [Reply]

    Exactly, Pompodor. I have been waiting for this. And as for “funny because it’s true”, that is the therapy of the comics. You are not alone in your foibles, fears and trials. Cathy fights with the swim suit demons for us all. Michael silently curses his fate, and we are absolved of our guilt for cursing our own. And sometimes, we just have to laugh so we don’t cry.

  33. zot
    March 8th, 2005 at 9:07 am [Reply]

    FBOFW: More roadside gigs, Mule! The current maudlin mood must be lifted!

  34. Skip Tracer
    March 8th, 2005 at 9:11 am [Reply]

    Mary Worth is a black market baby seller, gettting ready to make her pitch. See today’s strip:

  35. Sourbelly
    March 8th, 2005 at 10:25 am [Reply]

    Sorry, Zot, but FBFW has moved on to another one-note storyline, this one entitled, “Therese is an evil, non-Patterson bitch!”


  36. sally
    March 8th, 2005 at 11:16 am [Reply]

    Exactly, Sourbelly — Therese is just unbelievably awful. I don’t remember Anthony in his pre-Therese phase but he must be a complete and utter wuss to have married her, much less reproduced with her.

    On a broader note, this is symptomatic of a really unfortunate development in FBOFW: the introduction of one-dimensional villians. FBOFW didn’t have (or need) villians when it was about the Pattersons/Johnstons as a young family, but in the last five years there has been a succession of utterly lacking in redeeming qualities villians: e.g., Therese, Kortney, Deanna’s mom. Even more disturbing, every single one has been female. What’s with that, Lynn?

  37. G. Patton
    March 8th, 2005 at 1:22 pm [Reply]

    I don’t thank that all of the evil, one-dimensional characters have been women.

    Grandpaw strikes me as pretty evil, catting around with all the senile citizen band groupies while his significant other sits at home and waits and worries that he has fallen and can’t get up again.

    Thanks to socialized medicine in the Big Smoke, he doesn’t have to worry about being flaccid anymore. Everytime he falls, he pops a pill. . .

  38. Pompodor
    March 8th, 2005 at 1:44 pm [Reply]

    I think “Grandpaw” is actually supposed to be a sympathetic character. Whether you find his behavior meritorious is another question. (I find that’s about the only fun left to FBoFW these days: identifying all the ignoble traits of the people Johnston is trying to celebrate — e.g., Elly is so kind to the eskimos of Mtgwaki, yet she makes them drag her around in a sled.) Liz’s college boyfriend, Eric, may be an example of an unsympathetic male character. But, I think Sally’s point is well taken — it’s almost always women who are portrayed as villains. On the other hand, I suppose, the strip is probably targeted toward a female audience.

  39. Anne Nonymous
    March 8th, 2005 at 2:39 pm [Reply]

    Well, if it’s targeted to a female audience (which it is), trust me on this one- there would be many more “evil males,” not just the two-timing Eric. And “Grandpaw” isn’t evil; far from it- he’s showing the early symptoms of Alzheimer’s, and doing fairly well, considering.

  40. LTV
    March 8th, 2005 at 5:24 pm [Reply]

    One of the hardest thing for a good writer to do is write realistic dialogue for a character of the opposite gender. And, Lynn Johnston isn’t a good writer. Thus, the heavy concentration on female characters, good and not so good.

  41. Sourbelly
    March 9th, 2005 at 10:51 am [Reply]

    LTV: True, Lynn is not a good writer. Thank goodness she makes up for it with her tremendous drawing talent!

  42. Sal
    March 9th, 2005 at 1:21 pm [Reply]

    Moving FBOW along this week – what’s with this shower invitation business? WHY are the Pattersons invited at all? Have they all long been closer to the ancient Anthony and horrible Therese than we readers ever realized? April and Elly are discussing going to the shower, what kind of gift, etc. as though the new parents are close personal friends of the damn family!!!! This is maddening to me, but of course I can’t stop reading. I’m looking forward to something really special happening at the shower :D. Oh, and wouldn’t it be maddening too if Mike, Deanna, and Deanna’s mother show up at that shower, too?

  43. Anne Nonymous
    March 9th, 2005 at 2:13 pm [Reply]

    Anthony is an old boyfriend of Elizabeth (and would be more of a current friend, I guess, if Therese would allow it. The guy is really hen-pecked). Of course, Elizabeth is back in the Far North, and won’t be going to the shower (just as well). Anthony also does the books for Gordon’s Garage, and so is a good friend of Gordon and Tracey. The Pattersons are also good friends of Gordon and Tracy, and, in fact, helped finance Gordon’s business. So I guess there’s all kinds of connections there. Why do I remember all this? What does it matter, anyway? Who cares? I need a new hobby.

  44. F. Time
    March 9th, 2005 at 2:26 pm [Reply]

    Let’s not forget that Gordon is aging at an alarming rate. Everytime he shows up in the strip, he looks 10 years older than the last time. I think that he has some kind of terrible disease and the pressure of that has been weighing on his poor, suffering wife. She knows that she will soon be widdow and have to raise the widdle one all on her own. That is what is making her so cranky.

  45. sally
    March 9th, 2005 at 2:47 pm [Reply]

    Father Time, you mean Anthony, not Gordon, don’t you? Gordon has always looked about thirty. Anthony is the one who looks horribly aged, no doubt by having to live with a soul-sucking paranoid like Therese.

    I also don’t get why Therese would invite any Pattersons to her baby shower since she clearly thinks Anthony spends every waking minute dreaming of Elizabeth. It must be because, in her unbelievable awfulness, she’s inviting everyone she’s ever met in order to extort more money. But on the bright side, this will give Elly another homewrecking opportunity!

  46. luluchappel
    March 10th, 2005 at 8:39 am [Reply]

    I think Therese is inviting everyone she knows to the shower so she can rake in as much cash as possible.

  47. Robert Gross
    June 17th, 2005 at 9:46 pm [Reply]

    Everybody is way too hard on Lynn Johnston. So she’s doing a realistic “parenting is hell” series and you guys are complaining that there is a glut of this cliche in comics. Who do you think started the cliche?

    And what’s the name of the strip again?

  48. Roger M. Wilcox
    May 24th, 2013 at 10:10 pm [Reply]

    So, wait. The family in For Better Or For Worse is experiencing cramped living conditions, and to demonstrate this fact tho the audience, Lynn Johnston chooses to show us … a toddler tripping over a toy car?!?

    Honey, it doesn’t matter if you have a 12-bedroom mansion with a Grand Ballroom for a living room. Your kids are STILL going to leave their toys out in the middle of the walkway.

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