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It’s far past time for ‘Abby’ be put out to pasture

Working as I do in the newspaper industry, I am reminded on a near-daily basis by the media at large that newspapers are dying because they are outmoded, obsolete, operating under a business model that is no longer sustainable, and plenty of other doom, gloom, and etc. I guess I should feel fortunate that I work in the online division — the very aspect of the business that’s allegedly “killing” the rest of the paper — but it still gets tiresome when all you hear about is how dinosaur-extinct the industry apparently already is. Too bad, I guess. Facts are facts. After all, I read about it on somebody’s blog.

When you look through the paper and come across parts of it that are truly obsolete, you realize that the industry’s prognosticators have a point. My case in point: “Dear Abby” — a syndicated “advice” column that has long since outlived its usefulness. It’s not even entertaining anymore, because the stories aren’t lurid but simply dumb. The column should be renamed “Paging Dr. Obvious.”

I’ve never regularly read Dear Abby (I assume you must be over the age of 70 to do so), but whenever I have come across the column in the newspaper, I find myself wondering: Who couldn’t do Abby’s job, really? The letters that are printed there are usually beyond inane, and the advice that “Abby” dispenses is equally inane, perhaps because it’s so damned obvious. I guess you get the advice you deserve.

I will demonstrate this point with three recent letters to Abby and her responses.

Dear Abby: My husband and I live and work in a delightful resort town. Lately, we have noticed a trend among our friends and family who are traveling to our town. Instead of calling in advance, many of them call us on the day they hope to see us. In the last two weeks, it has happened three times. These are people we like and would enjoy seeing, but we work full time and we usually need a little more advance notice.

We know our friends make plans well in advance to book airline reservations, so we’re baffled that they don’t contact us while they are making their travel plans. What can we say when our friends call hoping to see us and then are disappointed when we already have plans?


Dear Beach Dwellers: Tell them that you are disappointed, too, and the next time they plan to be in the area to please call sooner because you make your plans in advance and can’t cancel the ones you already have.

Wow! Sage advice! Thanks, Abby!

Here’s another:

Dear Abby: My husband, “George,” wears his false teeth only for church. He puts them in his pocket as soon as the service is over and won’t wear them anywhere else. If I say anything, he gets furious and refuses to discuss it, even though I tell him it embarrasses me and it should embarrass him, too.

George is upset with the dentist who made the dentures. He went to another dental lab, wore them for one month, and then gave up. He also fusses with his hearing aids, glasses, etc. He’s driving me crazy. What should I do?


Dear Janet: If your husband’s dentures were comfortable, he’d wear them. The dentist who made them should be contacted so adjustments can be made until they fit properly. If George won’t make the call, do it for him and go along for moral support.

He may also need his vision checked by an ophthalmologist. His glasses may need refitting or replacing — or he may have a condition that should be treated ASAP, so don’t put it off. Also, hearing aids take getting used to and the process can be frustrating — especially if your teeth are hurting and you’re having difficulty seeing. Poor George, if you think you’re being driven crazy, imagine what he’s going through and try to be patient.

DAMMIT! I hate it when my spouse refuses to wear his/her teeth and/or glasses!

And, finally, my favorite:

Dear Abby: I recently became aware of this trend where my friends hit themselves repeatedly in the kneecap with a hammer, because they say it feels so good when they stop doing it. I tried it recently and I think this is a terrible idea. Although they are right that it feels good to stop hitting your kneecap with a hammer once you’ve started, I find that it’s difficult to walk for several days afterward because of my sore knee. This also upset my husband because I couldn’t walk with him to church on Sunday. What should I do?


Dear Hammered: While it might feel good to fit in with your friends, this sounds like a behavior that is not suited to you because of the level of pain it causes you. It also appears to be emotionally hurtful to your husband, who had to walk to church by himself because of your physical pain. You should consider ignoring your friends and stop hitting your knee with a hammer.

Okay, so I made this last one up. But I’m expecting a similar story to appear in the Dear Abby column any day now.

Maybe I should start my own advice column called “Dear Jammer,” and have it syndicated in hundreds of newspapers across America. If Abby can do it, why can’t I?

Oh, wait. Never mind. Newspapers are dead. We’ll make Dear Jammer a blog instead.

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20 comments on this post

I remember years ago when they were promised. “It’s far past time for “TNG Reviews” to be put to pasture” or completed. or something.

Dear Jammer: I recently moved into my dorm and rented a refrigerator with my roommate. It’s one unit, but we both paid for it and both want to use it. What on earth should we do?


Dear TNG Reviews: Remember that patience is a virtue. If you find that you cannot wait for TNG reviews, you should voice your displeasure to the person that is making you wait. If you are told that you must continue waiting, you can at that point decide whether you want to keep waiting or not. Hope this helps.

Dear Brian: While I do not condone deceit as a moral point, you may be able to solve the problem as follows:

Find an impartial judge whom you know is familiar with the famous story of King Solomon. The judge will suggest the fridge shall be divided in two. Your roommate will agree with this. You will disagree, saying that you would rather your roommate have the fridge than the fridge be destroyed. The judge will instantly see you as the worthy owner of the fridge and grant you custody.

Note that this happened in an episode of “Seinfeld” with a dispute over a bicycle between Kramer and Elaine, with Newman as the arbiter. Whoever said “Seinfeld” was a show about nothing was clearly wrong.

Dear Jammer,

I live in the most charming little town, but the stress of my job – which I feel so blessed to have – gets to me. After almost 40 years of never hitting my spouse or children, I am thinking about starting because my friends tell me it is a great stress reliever. My delightful spouse is against it, she said she will have to cover the bruises when we walk to church and the children (who are all precious) say it will embarass them. I need a stress reliever, am I wrong to think, “Hey, I finally decided on a hobby, why are you trying to stop me?”

Confused in Suburbia

Dear Jamma,

Any plans on reviewing District 9?

Shrimps in Space

Dear Confused: Beating your children is wrong. Even if it feels so right. Instead, you should kick your dog.

Dear Shrimps: If aliens want to be reviewed, they should come to America instead of going to South Africa. I suggest an immigration program that will allow aliens to come to America where their movies can be rightly reviewed. Until then, Jammer will not be making any trips to Johannesburg … at least not until maybe DVD. (But even then, probably not.)


I recommend that you see it theatres.

Shrimps in Space

Dear Jammer:

The woman who works in the cubicle directly across from mine has very large breasts and insists on wearing tight tops that show ample cleavage. When movement makes my eyes flick up reflexively, I often catch myself staring directly at them before quickly looking away… but she glares at me just the same. I feel like a creepy old man now, and the other women in the office treat me like a disease.

Two questions:
1) What can I do other than not look up for any reason? If I complain to management, she might be forced to stop, and the other men in the office would think I betrayed some “man code”.
2) Is this entrapment? After all, if she didn’t want us to look at them, she should wear a heavy burlap sack instead.

– Single For Some Reason

Regarding the second story, wouldn’t it have been a lot more interesting (and slightly unnerving) if it were a man complaining that his wife didn’t wear her dentures? And on that fairly obvious note, cue the porn music. Aww yeah.

I was laughing quite a bit by the time I read that last one. Good job. I thought it was another real one and I just couldn’t believe that someone would actually sign it as HAMMERED IN HELENA. Haha.

Dear Single: I must quote “Seinfeld” again. Looking at cleavage is like looking at the sun — you don’t stare. But as long as you’re not staring, you’re probably good.

And, yes, it is entrapment.


No hitting the kids, but I do notice there was no comment on the wife. Awesome!

Hey Single….same issue here, except it is a woman with the greatest legs I have ever seen and she really likes her short skirts. So distracting at meetings. *sigh*

I thought Abby was fake anyway. I mean, who would take the time to write to Abby, hope Abby reads their letter at some point in the future, and wait for Abby to reply in a newspaper column at some point even further in the future? I’m sure Abby is just a literary technique designed to teach morals, not anybody’s actual problems.

Dear Jammer, I am having an issue with my father. The family recently located after a long journey to a beautiful new plan– um, country. Anyway, my father took our last Rapt– um, er, vehicle, and decided to bury President Ros– er, his girlfriend, who recently died, on a hill, and build a cabin, but lately he just sits there staring at nothing. I miss him back here and since was hoping he would rejoin us, but he just keeps staring into space, taking about his cabin and muttering 150,000 years later. What can I do? Signed, “Lee” P.S. What does Miss Manners say about lovers who are presumed dead but come back, only to vanish again?

I was JUST watching that Seinfeld episode as I read that comment. That is bloody freaky! “Get a good look, Costanza?” — I heard that line JUST as I read your comment.


Dear Jammer,

I find myself obsessing over an online blogger who writes reviews of my favorite shows. I think I should move to his town and introduce myself. I’ll bring my vintage video games and my pitbull, Worf.

Don’t you think this is a GREAT idea?




Dear Jammer,

I have a tendency to stay up late for no good reason.

This makes me tired, irritable and run down. I feel that his is creating undue stress to my wife who likes to get up early and go to bed early.

Why oh why are there so many blogs and distractions on the internet?

Major Lieutenant Sir Granger Dulwart-Smythe (Mrs)

Dear Jammer:

I find myself getting terribly thirsty after eating a bag of potato chips. Generally speaking, the thirst is abated if I have beer in the house, but when I have only water, I find that chips and water just don’t seem to mix. What can I do?

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