Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Scam

Time for another tract, kids. This is about what happens if you run scams, and if you're a victim of scams: You go to hell! Just steer clear of the scams and you should be okay. Here's the link so you can follow along.

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Lita: So. The Scam!

wurwolf: With special guest star, Dante from Clerks!

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wurwolf: I read ahead a little bit, and I'm going to warn you: the artwork in this tract is particularly horrendous.

Lita: Even more so than usual?

wurwolf: It looks like twelve different artists worked on it, all at the same time.

Lita: I guess mom does look a bit like a bobblehead in that panel on the right.

wurwolf: The dad looks like an elderly Bob.

Lita: I do have to wonder why, if the folks were in debt, they decided to buy a new car.

Lita: I know people do that in real life, too. I don't understand it there, either.

Lita: Geez. Mom's crosseyed, too. I wonder if that's why they're seeing a doctor.

wurwolf: I wonder if that's a tear tattoo on her face. Possibly she's in a gang.

wurwolf: If so, she better watch out for Joey.

wurwolf: Uh oh, I think Frank might be based on your cousin.

Lita: Or possibly the uncle who spawned my cousin.

Lita: Who actually did once refuse to give my grandmother any money to buy medicine with, even though he owes her lots of money because she helped him buy his house.

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wurwolf: Oh okay, I see where we're going. The old couple is scamming Frank.

wurwolf: Serves him right, really. Would you lend your car that you just bought to people you barely know? I'd be all, Take a cab, old lady.

Lita: Yeah. I was thinking they were the guy's parents, in which case how much does he suck knowing they're going to get taken in by their doctor and he's still willing to buy their beloved car for nothing?

wurwolf: Really. If they're your parents, pay their doctor bill, don't take their car, too.

Lita: But if he just met them, then he doesn't really have any obligation to help with the doctor thing. Buy the car and give them the number of whatever local service that town has to drive old people around and get gone.

wurwolf: But I guess he's just some random dude on the street with $500 in his pocket, and the old people spotted him as an easy mark.

wurwolf: So you can see we're starting off with the usual level of realism in a Chick tract.

wurwolf: Next, winged monkeys are going to come down from heaven and mess up Frank's hair.

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wurwolf: I'm trying to figure out the guy's hair under the "6 hours later..." box. Is he bald? If so, what's that on his head? It's not a hat, right?

wurwolf: Is it a particularly insidious combover?

Lita: I think he walked in front of a draft or a fan or something and it blew his combover over and he hasn't noticed yet.

Lita: Everybody else is too embarrassed to mention it to him.

wurwolf: Really. It's hanging down the side of his head.

Lita: Frank's lawyer didn't show up? I guess he knows Frank doesn't have any money anymore.

wurwolf: Lawyers can smell that kind of thing. It's amazing, I see it all the time here at work.

Lita: Is that the same gay cop from the gay pride parade?

wurwolf: I don't know.... I can't see his earrings.

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wurwolf: Oh man. Those are the funniest mug shots ever! They should totally be on Smoking Gun.

Lita: "Slick Willy" and "Mean Molly"? Worst criminal names ever.

wurwolf: I can see Slick Willy's resemblance to the old man in the beginning, but Mean Molly does in no way look like that old lady.

Lita: That mugshot was taken just after "Grouchy Gordon" gave her two black eyes.

wurwolf: "Cranky Calvin" took the picture.

Lita: "Holdin' Holden" is holding the picture.

wurwolf: We could go on all day.

Lita: "Foolish Frank" is looking at the picture.

Lita: I guess Bob just hangs around the police station trolling for gullible young men down on their luck.

wurwolf: This poor guy. He got scammed out of $500 by two old people and now Bob shows up to throw the Bible at him. I really feel for him.

wurwolf: Why is there a chef at the police station?

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Lita: Gah! That dog is back!

wurwolf: So now we know the dog's name is Fang.

Lita: So Fang is barking at a bird who's just looking at him like, "Whatever, psycho." Meanwhile a cat is sitting in the street two feet away from the both of them just watching the whole thing go down.

Lita: Perhaps torn between the urge to eat the bird and to run from Fang. He watches to see who will come out victorious before he plans his next move.

wurwolf: I hope that cat doesn't get run over.

Lita: The guy holding his leash is wearing a poncho, a sombrero, and sandals. I wonder if he's supposed to be Mexican.

wurwolf: I think so. Maybe the dog walker?

wurwolf: Is that racist?

Lita: If we're going to go there, then you could say he kidnapped Fang and plans to ransom him to his owners.

wurwolf: Except that he fell asleep in the middle of the afternoon for his siesta.

Lita: But since we've seen Fang wandering around the town on his own barking at random people, I'm thinking the owners didn't take the best care of him anyway.

Lita: Maybe the guy is supposed to be Cesar Millan.

Lita: And is that Steven Spielberg in the right panel?

wurwolf: No, it's Stephen King, I think.

Lita: I knew he looked like somebody.

He's crying over the suckulence of his latest manuscript.

wurwolf: At any rate, it's definitely a Steve.

wurwolf: This is what I mean about the artwork. It's all over the place. It looks like someone doodled a picture of Stephen King and they decided to stick it in the comic.

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Lita: The Israelites hung up their long johns to dry back there.

wurwolf: They have some particularly ugly lawn ornaments.

Lita: Is that the golden calf back there? I thought Moses told them to knock that off.

wurwolf: This is why they were wandering around for 40 years.

wurwolf: Man, Joshua looks like a crank.

Lita: I'd like to look up this story and read it myself, but Bob is withholding vital information.

wurwolf: Not telling you where to find it?

Lita: Yeah

Lita: Ok. We're in Joshua 7

Lita: So far I don't have any qualms with Bob's telling of the story.

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wurwolf: Frank wants to know how in the world Joshua got conned. Is Joshua that impressive already? Does Frank think that Joshua is so scary wonderful that it's impossible that he could get conned?

wurwolf: I'm guessing Jericho had a lot of sodomites in it. According to Bob, that's the only reason why God would wipe a city from the face of the earth.

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wurwolf: I think it's funny that the town of Ai is small. So the town of Antidisestablishmentarianism is a huge metroplis, I guess.

Lita: Just wait until you see the town of Bababadal­gharagh­takammin­arronn­konn­bronn­tonn­erronn­tuonn­thunn­trovarrhoun­awnskawn­toohoo­hoordenen­thurnuk.

wurwolf: Bob's working the creepy look again. Really, it's a wonder anyone comes to Christ. Why aren't they all distracted by the freakshow that is Bob?

Lita: It's the hypno-eyes. If this comic were animated you'd see little spirals spinning around in his eyes.

wurwolf: You can almost see them now.

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Lita: Bob tells us that the thief confessed and was stoned. This is true. But Bob doesn't want you to know that they also stoned Achan's wife and his kids and burned their bodies.

Lita: They took all their stuff as well, but it doesn't say whether they kept them or left them out in the desert with the bodies.

Lita: Achan was warned, though. Joshua told everybody ahead of time that anybody who takes anything curses not only himself, but also his family. I guess once you make a statement like that you have to follow through.

wurwolf: Good for Joshua, I guess. It does seem really harsh.

Lita: I feel bad for the kids. Their dad did a stupid thing and they got stoned for it.

Lita: "So the LORD was no longer angry."

wurwolf: I guess Bob didn't say anything about it because he doesn't want a potential convert to think that there's a possibility of being executed for doing something wrong.

Lita: Bob wants you to think you only get your whole town blasted if you're gay.

wurwolf: Frank isn't gay. He's not wearing earrings or insisting that Bob kiss him.

Lita: Though that cute little goatee of his is kind of suspect.

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wurwolf: Oh wow. The panel with the cat jumping after the bird weirded me out for a second. I didn't realize we had made the jump back to our time and thought that some ancient city was fighting the Israelites and catapulting something at them.

Lita: I guess the bird vanquished Fang and thus freed the cat to make his attack.

wurwolf: The Gibeonites are getting their flea market together.

Lita: I'm amazed. We're told that the Gibeonites were such wretched sinners that God didn't even want anybody to associate with them. The artist must be using great restraint to not draw us another picture of dudes frenching.

wurwolf: It is pretty surprising.

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wurwolf: What do baked potatoes have to do with the scam that the Gibeonites are putting together?

Lita: Hee. They took old sacks upon their asses. I'm 12.

wurwolf: I know! I wanted to white out the last half of the word "upon" and giggle like a little kid.

wurwolf: Even with Bob's explanation that "clouted" means "patched", that sentence still doesn't make any sense to me.

Lita: That one dude needs two hairdressers working at once to make him look disheveled. He must be a total stud.

wurwolf: He needs a whole team working on him.

Lita: "No! I'm still too hot! They'll never buy it! Debbie, you come over here and help fug me up!"

wurwolf: So people in Biblical times spoke in Old English. Heaven forbid we paraphrase.

Lita: Bob is making Joshua sound retarded. Anybody could see through these people if they really threw in "NOW MAKE A TREATY WITH US!" after every sentence.

wurwolf: "Would Joshua fall for their pitiful, phoney trick?" Uh.... yes?

Lita: Yes, but in his defense the Gibeonites made a more convincing argument in the version of the Bible that I'm reading. It is one of those Satanic non-King James versions, though.

wurwolf: That's what happens when you read a Satanic non-KJV. Satan's totally going to make his guys sound like they were awesome when they were scamming Joshua.

Lita: Satan: Joshua still fell for it, but it was a *good* scam instead of a lame scam that a child could see through. (...heh heh... suckers...)

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Lita: I love that picture of Joshua slapping his forehead when he finds out he got scammed again.

Lita: "DOH! I'm such an IDIOT!"

wurwolf: It's a total "DOH!" moment.

wurwolf: "Joshua was forced by his promise to defend Satan's children!" Satan's children? Isn't that a bit extreme?

Lita: Bob is skipping some important details, though.

wurwolf: Like what?

Lita: Joshua didn't just say, "Oh well," and go on with his life. The treaty they signed was for the Gibeonites to be the Israelites servants.

Lita: So he made them chop wood and carry water for everybody.

Lita: So it wasn't like they got off scott-free and got to go back to their city and continue their lives of debauchery unimpeded.

wurwolf: So the Israelites could really say that they were defending their property, ie. their servants, rather than "Satan's children".

Lita: They could. And that's how the Gibeonites asked for help. They said, "Don't abandon your servants now!"

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Lita: So Satan's the daddy of all con-men. Does that include Ronnie?

wurwolf: That's what Bob's saying. And since Janet is Ronnie's sister, that includes her, too.

Lita: Probably Bob should have destroyed Ronnie instead of talking to him.

Lita: That makes Satan Jacob's daddy too, huh? Since Bob was all proud of how Jacob was an awesome con-man.

wurwolf: That bird loves that fire hydrant. He's back on it.

wurwolf: Now he's defending it from a mouse.

Lita: The bird has conquered the cat, and now a mouse comes to threaten his territory.

wurwolf: It's Wild America, right outside the diner.

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wurwolf: Man, Hitler is SO annoyed by the service at the diner!

Lita: Outside you can see the bird flying away as the mouse attacks.

wurwolf: It's quite a saga.

wurwolf: Oh no! The bird is making a beeline for Frank's head!

Lita: He heard what Bob's saying about Frank going to Hell. The bird hates dirty sinners.

wurwolf: He's going to poop on the head of a dirty sinner.

Lita: But Bob sure turned on Frank really quick, didn't he?

Lita: He's telling Frank this story about con-men to make Frank feel better because he got conned, and then all the sudden he's all, "And all the Gibeionites went to Hell because they didn't get their sins forgiven... JUST LIKE YOU!!!"

wurwolf: "You suck just as much as they do!"

wurwolf: The poor guy. Like he hasn't had enough of a bad day. I'll bet he's starting to regret accepting Bob's dinner invitation.

Lita: As do all who run afoul of Bob.

Lita: Bob makes it sound really crappy that the Israelites had to fight for Gibeon, though. Actually, Israel kicked ever-loving ass in the battles that followed, and God did some pretty major miracles to help them out.

wurwolf: Bob's gotta make the Bible fit into his little story.

Lita: And I don't see where it says none of the Gibeonites ever repented of their sins or were redeemed.

Lita: But that's ok, Bob. They were all sinners and went to Hell where all sinners belong.

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wurwolf: Nice arty above-the-table shot, but Bob's arm is freaking me out.

Lita: Bob's arm is freaky. It looks like he thinks Frank is going to try to stab him in the hand or something, so he's holding a fake hand on a stick out of his sleeve.

Lita: It must have happened to him before.

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wurwolf: This next panel is another example of bad artwork. It looks like the artist drew Bob in, cut out a picture of Frank's back and head, and pasted it over top of Bob at an awkward angle.

Lita: Looks like Bob's going in for a smooch.

wurwolf: They are awfully close.

Lita: "Jesus loves you, Frank... and so do I."

wurwolf: Maybe he can get a three-way going with Shirley. She's got some free time now, I'll bet.

Lita: You kind of knew this was where it was going as soon as Bob picked Frank up at the police station.

wurwolf: That's why Bob hates Sodom & Gomorrah so much. He's so closeted.

wurwolf: Who's that in the shadow-rama? Did some random old man wander into the tract?

wurwolf: The table and the drinks look like they took it out of a clipart book. More crappy artwork.

Lita: Another person who doesn't have the faintest idea what happened to Jesus.

Lita: Is that Death standing on the hill in the stock footage of the crucifixion? I don't remember seeing that before.

wurwolf: It sure looks like it.

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wurwolf: There's that clipart of Jesus under the tree again.

Lita: Ouch! Frank just brained himself on the corner of the table!

Lita: I've done that. It hurts!

wurwolf: Wow. This is really his worst day ever.

wurwolf: The dude with his head on sideways really disapproves of Frank rolling around on the floor.

Lita: "I came here for a quiet meal, dammit, and all I get is an hour and a half of sermons and seizures!"

wurwolf: I kind of doubt that Frank is really saved, though. He's not completely prostrate on the floor.

wurwolf: Can Jesus save you even if you're just kneeling?

Lita: I'm in big trouble. Lots of times I don't even close my eyes when I pray.

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Lita: Wow! Look at that last panel! The mouse is the victorious king of the hydrant! The bird plans the day when he will return and take his revenge.

wurwolf: Whooo! Go mouse! Go mouse!

wurwolf: I don't like this resolution, because it makes it sound like as soon as you get saved, all of your problems disappear.

wurwolf: They did the same thing in the Framed tract with Joey. He gets saved and immediately the phone rings with news that they caught the people who framed him and his name has been cleared. It just doesn't work that way.

Lita: Which runs counter to something else a lot of fundies will tell you. If things are going too well that's bad. It means Satan isn't bothering to try to trip you up.

Lita: So you get to feel guilty for being happy.

wurwolf: Or, conversely, that if something bad happens to you it's because you didn't have enough faith or you did something to make it happen.

Lita: I am glad these tracts aren't taking that route. If I have to pick between that and unrealistic happy endings, I'll take the happy endings.

wurwolf: I guess, but I think it's leading people on.

wurwolf: Will no one just accept that this is life and this is what happens to people, Christian or not? And that one of the gifts we receive when we're saved is not that all of our problems will go away but that God gives us the grace and strength to get through those problems?

Lita: Nope. Jesus is Santa Claus and He fixes all your problems immediately if you ask Him to.

wurwolf: It's sad. It's putting God in a box.

Lita: Like a big omnipotent mime.


Anonymous said...

This just doesn't get old, does it? Another great job. I apologize for sounding like a broken record after every tract, but how many different ways can you say "great job"?

- The cop's hair under the "6 hours later": it seems his head is in front of some design on the wall. You can see the design repeated to his left. So he appears to have a bad comeover, but that stuff on the side isn't supposed to be his hair. Another poor job by the artist.

- "Why is there a chef in the police station". This cracked me up! It was only after you pointed it out that I noticed it. And that made me try to figure it out and all I can come up with is this: Frank is no longer in the police station when he says "Now I'm broke. How could I have been so stupid?". He's sitting in a diner, spilling his guts (to some poor waitress probably) when Bob overhears him and makes his move. The writer just didn't bother to tell us that the scene had changed, and expected us to put the pieces together ourselves! It's like a Coleman Francis jump-cut. He's looking at the mug shots, then *bam* he's in some diner. So Bob doesn't troll the police stations. He trolls diners.

- I liked Frank's awkward opening line with Bob. "Gee Bob, I didn't realize how hungry I was!" Nice seque into "Now what did you want to tell me?"

- What is Steven King holding? A book of raffle tickets?

- Bob's hand in that above the table shot is waaaaaaaaaay freaky! His tiny wrist, swimming inside that giant cuffed sleeve. And his hand looks like an inflated surgical glove! I loved the line about someone knifing his hand to the table. LOL!

- Also loved the running commentary on the bird/cat/dog/mouse hydrant wars. Wow, a tract with a subplot! I must say that I didn't even notice the outcome of the bird/mouse battle. I was too distracted by the shadowpuppet show going on in the diner window. I especially loved Bob's emphatic thumbs up! Heyyyyyyy - hell is for nerds!

ns (bw bw)

wurwolf said...

Damn you, Blogger, I had a whole long reply written and you lost it on me. Let's see if I can remember what I wrote.

I can't take credit for the chef line -- that goes to PM! He said that and I thought it was so funny I swiped it.

There were a lot of things in this tract that had me reading and rereading to make sure I understood it. For instance:

- It took me a couple of reads to realize that the old couple was scamming Frank and not the other way around. I just had it in my head that they were Frank's parents; I think Lita thought the same.

- I had to really study the picture of the cop with the combover before I saw what you were saying about the wall decoration, Springy. Even if the wall decoration isn't part of his hair, he's still got this big dumb patch of hair hanging on to the top of his head.

- When I logged on this morning to check out the blog I reread it and noticed that Stephen King is actually holding a Chick tract. So it's an ad for Chick Tracts in a tract. Which leads me to wonder if Stephen King isn't actually meant to be Stephen King, but instead the artist's depiction of someone within the Chick Publications universe. Probably not Jack Chick, but maybe the artist himself? Or another artist or the author? We'll never know. I just prefer to think of him as Stephen King, down on his luck and reduced to handing out Chick tracts in the street outside of Bob's diner.

- LOL, the thumbs up! I didn't notice that!! "Heyyyy, hell is for nerds!" I love it!!!! "Sit on it, Satan!"

wurwolf said...

Another thing (I know, I'm spamming my own blog), I really don't buy the parallels between real life and the Bible story in this tract. Frank lost out on $500 and was left with nothing but his wounded dignity and feeling of shame. How did Joshua wind up? Oh, he had a whole bunch of servants that he didn't have before. Plus he totally kicked ass with God's help in subsequent wars. So how did Joshua get the short end of the stick here?

Yet another example of Bob cramming the Bible into his little story with limited success.

Lita said...

Now that I look more closely I see that it is a Chick Tract that Stephen King is holding. When I said in the commentary that "He's crying over the suckulence of his latest manuscript," I meant it literally. The bottom of the tract was blending into his shirt, so I thought he was holding a manuscript to one of his new novels. He does look really sad in that pic.

I figured it was a subtle way for the artist to tell us that all Stephen King's money didn't make him happy because he earned it by doing Satan's work (writing scary novels). I should have known better. Nothing about a Chick Tract is subtle.

Anonymous said...

Another thing: the cop says to Frank that if he was scammed by Slick Willy and Mean Molly, then he was "scammed by the best". I gotta take issue with this. The whole basis of their scam was based on finding someone who would let them take their just-sold car to their doctor appt.

Well, what if (as you both pointed out) the person they sold the car to said "Sorry, I can't help you" (like 99% of the population would have), or even "I'll give you a ride"? Then they would have ended up selling their sweet car for only $500 and THEY'D have been the ones who were taken! I suppose their backup plan could have been to whack him over the head with a sockfull of marbles and take off, but they'd be taking quite a chance in daylight. Hardly a scam you'd rank among "the best" in the business.

They just happened to find the biggest fool in the US to pull their scam on. They're far from "the best" - they're just "the luckiest"!

ns (bw bw)

ps - "Sit on it, Satan" - killer!

Lita said...

Unless they knew about this guy's gullibility ahead of time. Maybe they did their homework. That would still count them among the best scam artists ever.

Anonymous said...

If they were able to somehow do research that told them the off-the-charts niceness-level of their mark, as well as the fact that he had an appt with his lawyer which would prevent his being able to offer driving them himself, then I would have to agree - they would be the best!
Hell, maybe the lawyer was in cahoots with them. Willie and Molly had him work his way into Frank's life years prior, all as part of this grand scam which in the end would net them . . . a whopping $166.66 each!

But we know Willie and Molly aren't in it for the money - it's the thrill of the scam, vavy!

ns (bw bw)

Anonymous said...

Okay, I realize I risk looking like a fanatic, but I think I can shed more light on the whole "chef in the police station" thing. The realization came to me as I was re-reading this tract AGAIN, and something the goofy-combover man said struck me as odd. He says "Frank, those cops are back again."

I thought, "This is another policeman, or at least someone who works in the police station. Why would he refer to these officers in such a manner ("those cops"), almost as if he didn't know them?" The answer, dear Watson, is elementary: Combover Man is not a policeman, nor does he work at the police station. He works at the diner! The fact is, after Frank is scammed in the first 4 panels, every other scene takes place at the diner. In the "6 hours later" panel, you can see what appears to be a counter seat/stool next to Frank. You can also see what I'm guessing is one of those diner cake display cases to his right, which is still there 3 panels later.

Apparantly, Frank must have gone to the diner, called the cops, and they came and took down his story there. I guess these cops must have really wanted an excuse to return to that diner, b/c instead of taking Frank to the station house to ID the scammers, they go to the trouble of BRINGING THE PHOTOS BACK TO THE DINER FOR HIM! Which is what prompts Combover Counter Man to utter his classic line "Frank, those cops are back again."

How is the casual, non-obsessed reader supposed to ever follow these things?

ns (bw bw)

wurwolf said...

Oh wow. Springy, you're absolutely right! How weird that at no time did the tract say they were at the police station, yet we all assumed that's where Frank was, and the combover guy was the front desk sargent. I guess Lita and I missed where he said "Those cops are back again", but if we had seen it we might have figured out that he was actually at the diner and not the police station. Those are some awfully accommodating police! I guess we live in the real world, where the police would barely care less that you were scammed out of $500, much less track the thieves down and give it back to you 15 minutes after you got saved. Amazing.

We've really got to examine these tracts more closely.

Lita said...

I saw "Those cops are back again," but I didn't let it sway my belief that they were in the police station. I figured the desk sargeant maybe just never bothered to learn the cops' names. Maybe he's too high above them as a lofty desk sergeant to bother to learn his underling's names. Maybe there are too many cops in this city for him to be able to remember them all. Maybe they're unsaved and he hates them.

But you're probably right, Springy.

Boy. We are getting WAY too into this tract. Maybe we should think about doing another one some time. ;o)