John From Cincinnati
His Visit: Day Five

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Mr. Sobell: B- | Grade It Now!
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Preach On. And On. And On Some More.

Kai is stocking the shelves at the surf shop when Cissy stalks in, still smarting from the morning's smackdown from Shaun. Cissy wants to know if he stopped here. "Shaunie?" Kai asks. "Who else would I be talking about?" Cissy says pissily. I don't know -- Mitch? Butchie? Someone else with the XY chromosome? Awfully vague pronoun, "he." Kai asks if Shaun is surfing; Cissy replies, with increasing pissiness, that Shaun left with his skateboard, not his wetsuit. "Well, I wonder if maybe he's skating," Kai says with the weariness of someone regretting the lack of Monster.com postings for surf-shop clerk. "Would you go see?" Cissy asks, only it doesn't sound like much of a request. "You busy, Cissy?" Kai fires back. "Time for your ball-buster booster shot?" Ah, how wonderful it is to see someone -- anyone -- call Cissy on her shit. It turns out, though, that Cissy is insisting on Kai's going out to look for Shaun because Shaun loves Kai; his feelings about Cissy are up in the air after this morning. Cissy lets it slip that she never actually mentioned to Shaun that Tina paid him a visit last night, though he did overhear her slagging his mother's unorthodox career on the phone to Mitch. Kai snorts that Shaun was well aware what his mother did for a living -- one of his dopey pals gave him that Moist Thighs, Pink Bottoms DVD (hopefully not in the two-for-one package with its less-successful follow-up effort Wanton Ladies With Low Self-Regard Take Off Their Tops For Your Illicit Pleasure). Cissy is so incensed by this -- imagine, the thought of teenaged boys circulating porn amongst each other! -- that she misses Kai's larger point: perhaps Shaun is upset not by Cissy's cruel comments about Tina and her profession but rather because he's well aware that mom's in town and that Cissy is not playing straight with him. "Well, maybe if you'd go and fucking ask him, we'd know," Cissy snaps. Wait...I'm having a John Monad-like vision...it's Cissy...in her surf shop...beaten to death with a surfboard. On her way out the door -- oddly, she isn't skipping and singing hallelujahs at the chance to be out of earshot from Cissy -- Kai asks whether she's heard from Butchie at all. Cissy has not, and testily wonders why Kai's asking. "For my website," says Kai. "'Me and the Yosts: Information I Don't Give a Fuck About.'" Too late, Kai -- I registered that domain weeks ago. Anyhow, Cissy instructs Kai to find out "what he's being such a little jerk about." Kai shakes her head: "How can anyone help you, Cissy, when you won't see what's right in front of you? ...Which is, whoever you don't drive away runs away on his own." She's right -- Butchie, Mitch, Shaun, the viewers...

And now, the scene you've all been waiting for -- the Bill Jacks/Vietnam Joe summit, as brokered by John and Zippy. "How do you stand the constant cheeping?" Joe wonders over the constant cheeping. "Every one hatched in this home," John says sweetly, causing Bill to start. "Be aware that if you speak in that voice again," Bill seethes, "I will break every bone in your body." "What's your policy," asks Joe, trying to change the subject, "on guests smoking herb?" Bill's policy is not to permit it, thanks for asking; Joe's face falls as if someone just told him that Christmas has been postponed until mid-January. "And your smart-ass friend here," Bill continues, "with his Charlie McCarthy imitations, skates on very, very, very thin ice." "How about in the backyard?" says Joe, trying a different tack. But Bill is on a roll: "Which I am liable as not to pound his head through. With my fist. And hold him, gagging and thrashing beneath the surface of, 'til he drowns." "The ice," says Joe, indicating that he's able to follow along, weed or no. John, meanwhile, sips a glass of tea and continues to talk in the same sweet voice as before: "Chamomile, Billy -- wonderful." And here we get to the nub of Bill's complaint: John is apparently imitating (or, perhaps more accurately channeling) the late Mrs. Jacks. "What the hell are we doing here?" Joe mutters to John/Mrs. Jacks, which causes Zippy to start chirping. "Go ahead, Zip," Bill says wearily. "You're the big cruise director. Entertain them while I get back my composure." Instead of Zippy, however, John gives the instructions in his Mrs. Jacks's voice: the three of them -- John, Bill, Joe, though apparently not Zippy -- are to apprehend the fellow who stabbed John. A stricken Bill asks his wife if she's in any discomfort; John says that she is not. Bill then asks his wife if John is pulling a fast one on him; again, the answer is no. "Oh, for Christ's sake," says Bill, losing what little composure he has left. He'll go on this little adventure with them, but first, he wants them to go outside so that he can pull himself together. Really, some yeoman's work in that scene from Ed O'Neill who -- whether you love this show, hate it, or just feel generally indifferent to it -- is clearly the best thing about John From Cincinnati. I will tolerate no counter-argument or rebuttal.

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John From Cincinnati

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