Thursday, November 8, 2012

Review - It's Obvious You Won't Survive by Your Wits Alone by Scott Adams

Short review: Dilbert is a hopeless nerd of an engineer who copes with his soul sucking job, pointy-headed boss, completely dead social life, and Dogbert.

Pointy headed boss,
Soul sucking job, and Dogbert
Travails of Dilbert

Full review: Dilbert is the cubicle dwelling everyman engineer who stands in for everyone who ever had to deal with a boss who doesn't understand what they actually do, had to sit through endless meetings about teamwork and quality, or screwed up a date by wearing a short-sleeved polyester dress shirt and talking about computer code. As usual, Scott Adams' sharp, biting satirical look at the life of the nerdy and their working environment is funny and frequently bitterly sad because it is often true.

(On a side note, I just watched the Babylon 5 episode Moments in Transition, in which Adams appears in a bit role as, well essentially himself, and wants to hire Garibaldi to find his cat and his dog who are trying to take over the universe. Dilbert says that becoming one with his computer is Nerdvana. I disagree. Watching Adams on Babylon 5 is).

As usual, Adams manages to mix bizarre material, such as Bob the dinosaur, Ratbert the lab rat, and Dogbert, the dog who wants to rule the world, with even more bizarre material such as pointy-haired bosses and the inanity of the corporate world. Only a strip like Dilbert could demonstrate the idiocy of things like "Rivers and Trees" Management courses and "Quality" office slogans by juxtaposing them with a megalomanaical dog giving common sense lessons and starting a clues for the clueless newsletter. (One of my favorites is a strip when Dogbert makes people apply for a license to have children, and finds them woefully unqualified; almost as funny are the strips where Dogbert offers his own unique brand of marriage counseling). It is a truly sad commentary on modern life that the material involving bizarre animals such as a lazy beaver, or robots with attitude issues (constructed by the garbage-man no less), seem less surreal than the realistic depictions of the working world.

As always, Adams hits the ball out the park with almost every strip. From Dilbert musing on the meaning of life while Dogbert insults him, to Dilbert's adventures in being rejected on dates, to the almost random insanity that flows from Dilbert's alternatively clueless and evil boss, every strip is brutally funny, and painfully honest. This is yet another excellent installment in the Dilbert lexicon, and one that anyone who has ever worked in a cubicle will almost certainly enjoy. Those of you born to lives of silver-spoon wealth and the fast track to upper management (for example, the very tall with executive hair) can safely skip this book. The rest of us should consider it required reading.

Previous book in the series: Bring Me the Head of Willy the Mailboy!
Subsequent book in the series: Still Pumped from Using the Mouse

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