Friday, September 30, 2005

Howard and Liz

The October monthly letters on the For Better or For Worse website came out today and I was elated to see that Elizabeth’s letter mentioned my character again. I thought Howard had disappeared forever. It was interesting because it solved a number of questions that had been remaining since the September letters:

Solved #1: How did the other 2 women find out about Liz’s charges to file their own? Liz says she thinks she mentioned how the weekly police report in the newspaper named Howard, but not her. It was cleverly worded with “I think” since she didn’t actually mention it. Also, it was nice to note that this time; it was written as “sexual assault” instead of the garden variety, plain vanilla assault.

Solved #2: Is Howard in jail, in prison or out on bail? The answer is he is out on bail, thanks to Mommy and Daddy. The use of the Mommy and Daddy term implies that they have money. Of course, if they had money, Howard wouldn’t have been working a low salary physical labor job at Lakeshore Landscaping. I solved this incongruity by having Howard reuniting with his estranged parents. That way, they can have money and it still explains Howard’s employment choice.

Solved #3 (sort of): What is Howard’s fate? The Liz letter makes it pretty clear that she expects Howard to plead guilty and go to jail for just under 2 years because of those fearsome four video tapes. Someone will have to explain to me the significance of the videos. Why would that make any more difference than someone pressing charges? If dropping the “Mother and Father” line in the letter means Howard’s family has money, then there is no way Howard is going to plead guilty and we are going to trial. I would love for there to be a “Howard on Trial” storyline. I suspect though that “Mother and Father” was just a slap at Howard’s parents and a guilty plea is on the way in the November monthly letters.

Back in early September, a knowledgeable anonymous poster to Howard Kelpfroth’s Blog indicated that:

Howard's charges under the Criminal Code (criminal law is federal rather than provincial) would be sexual assault. If the Crown elects to proceed summarily, the maximum sentence would be 18 months. If the Crown elects to proceed by way of indictment, the maximum sentence would be 10 years.

If the writer of the Liz letter investigated this properly, then this would mean that Liz is thinking that Howard is going to be indicted and not summarily charged. I don’t know how that could possibly work, since Liz was basically unharmed after her assault and gathering physical evidence from the other 2 women would be difficult after a long period of time passed since their assault. Naturally, I don’t think the writer of the Liz letter investigated it. I suspect that 2 years was chosen for no other reason than it works out well with the projected end time of the For Better or For Worse strip. Given this, I am sure that if Howard gets mentioned again, he will have pleaded guilty.

My anonymous poster’s original estimation was: “30 days per charge if Howard enters a fast guilty plea.” That is quite a bit different than the 2 years predicted by Liz. My plan is for my Howard to stay out on bail until either the strip or the monthly letters puts him in jail. So he is free to snark for at least another month.

I only hope that if he is put in jail, it will not happen before I can resolve a conflict that I have been setting up for weeks with Howard and Beatrice Alfarero. Her bio in the FBOFW website says that “Beatrice is a single mom with a colourful past.” She has not physically appeared once in the strip since she was hired. But I have in mind a colourful past involving Howard, if only Lynn will bring her back and explore that past a little. That may also be coming, since Elly mentioned her specifically in her October monthly letter.

Unlike my fellow ARB posters qnjones and aprilp_katje, who have expressed to me that when they post as Becky and April, they become the characters, I cannot say the same about me and Howard. I am looking forward to posting as Constable Paul Wright, whom I predict will reappear sometime around December. I also enjoyed posting briefly as Jeremy Jones, a character recently abandoned by mst3k4evr (Still crying about her departure. I miss my posting buddy for Kortney Krelbutz.) and clearly on the rise in the For Better or For Worse strip. He was mentioned quite prominently in April’s October monthly letter, so I think there is something coming up with him. If it does, and nobody else has taken the character by that time, Jeremy may be asking for a few snarky postings by howtheduck.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Killing Me Softly With Boredom

This documentary that Lynn is doing on Mtigwaki is sapping the strength from my snark. It’s like reading the Mark Trail Sunday or colour strips, except without the interesting animal perspectives. I resorted to doing snark on the decidedly unfunny Baloney & Bannock comic strip reference on the food menu for today’s strip. B&B strip samples can only be found on the FBOFW website and then only if you are really looking for it. It was awful (my snark that is). I tried to work in a comic strip barber to explain the white hairstyles prevalent in the strip for the Mtigwakians, but I could only find one as a minor character in Geech, a comic strip I loathe. So, that was out. Let’s hope tomorrow is better.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Krystle’s Kakes and Pies

Last night’s teaser on April’s Real Blog was when I posted as Jeremy Jones and had him tell a story where Marjee Mahaha says she had an intimate relationship with Howard at one point. The tricky part was that you don’t know if she is just saying that to antagonize her boyfriend Maynard and nothing really happened, or it did happen but it was a one-time only thing, or it was an extended relationship. aprilp_katje, who posts as Marjee Mahaha went for the one-night stand option and had a nice story to go along with it. Howard has been with so many women now (Rhetta Blum, Kortney Krelbutz, Beatrice Alfarero, Marjee Mahaha); I may have to find him a boyfriend, so he can maintain his reputation as a homosexualist.

I had planned to leave Jeremy Jones alone after that, but the_berserker who posts as Duncan, mentioned Duncan beating up Jeremy, so it was too tempting to resist doing a little posting fight between Duncan and Jeremy. That was fun. In the strip, Jeremy is constantly trying to antagonize the people around him, so it was interesting to play off that with Duncan.

The comic strip For Better or For Worse appears to be adapting the material in the Mtigwaki section of the FBOFW website now. The pictures of the pow-wow are lifted directly from the pictures shown there. I was researching Ojibway history in order to understand what some of the stuff was that she was showing in the strip and found that Lynn’s source may not be the most knowledgeable person on Ojibway customs. There are dozens of websites on the subject, many of whom cover the culture more thoroughly than Lynn’s source. So it was fun to have Howard contrast the Lynn source with information coming from my other sources.

Lastly, Howard begins work at Krystle’s Kakes and Pies with Becky’s mother Krystle, while still keeping his required work at Grandpa Jim’s. This allows him to snark from the Elly and the Jim perspective, depending on where the FBOFW strip goes. It also will allow an interesting dynamic to develop with both Howard and Becky protecting each other from Becky’s mom, for different reasons of course.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

It's My Party And You Can Cry If You Want To

The day started off with what has become one of my favorite gags, which is to leave a very suggestive post before I go to bed, and then see what my fellow April’s Real Bloggers do with it before I wake up. On 4 occasions I had Howard drugged unconscious, once had him half-dressed in Becky’s bed, and then yesterday had him mention the words feather and lesbian in the same sentence. The classic instance was when I linked Gerald and Becky together, with Becky waking up wearing a man’s shirt. Ah good times. qnjones posting as Becky responded just I hoped she would to the feather comment. It was great.

The rest of the day was spent setting up the Howard Getting-Out-Of-Jail party, in which virtually all of the April’s Real Blogger characters were invited to participate, including schmoosie as Liz, although obliquely. mst3k4evr stopped posting as Kortney (I am still in mourning over that), but also as Jeremy Jones, so I was able to temporarily post for Jeremy to gain his participation. After writing all this correct grammar stuff as Howard, the blog speak was a little difficult. I still have hopes that aprilp_katje, the_berserker, and greytail088 will post their perspective as their characters Kimmi LaSalle, Marjee Mahaha, Duncan Anderson and Vicki Simone. Maybe tomorrow. We need something to alleviate the extreme boredom of the current anthropological survey of Mtigwaki going on in the For Better or For Worse strip.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Back From the Reunion

The high school reunion was interesting. My father had told me that when you get to the later reunions, you get past all that high school stuff and end up with a group that just likes to get together every 5 years for a party. This year was definitely that way for me. It was a good time, but I was glad to get back to the wonderful world of April’s Real Blog and see what happened to Howard Kelpfroth, after giving permission for him to be brutalized by the April’s Real Bloggers. It turned out nothing in particular.

I got Howard out of jail with the Richards being his new surety. I considered the possibilities of the Richards, Gerald’s dad, Rhetta Blum (after reconsidering not being the surety), or Howard’s aunt Winnie and uncle Melville. I decided to go with the Richards, since this gives them an opportunity to lord over Howard for home cleaning and it keeps him in touch with the life of April. Plus, I enjoy running Howard through a series of degradations for some reason I can't quite fathom.

The Grandpa Jim snark today involved his philosophical ramblings. I went back through the last 3 years of strips, and found that Grandpa Jim did not really started getting into this heavy philosophical mode until about 2 years ago. Each of Jim’s statements is a somewhat exact quote from the strip, except the name “Elly” changed for “Coward” and a few expository statements to link them together. It was fun to write, but a little less fun to read. Grandpa Jim is boring.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Howard in Jail, Me on Vacation

I am going to put Howard in jail, while I go to my high school reunion this weekend. The method will be to have Rhetta Blum remove herself as his surety. Howard is placed back into custody until Gerald’s dad agrees to be his surety. Fellow April’s Real Blog posters, you can do anything you want with Howard while I am absent, including completely ignore him. Just don’t kill him off. No matter what you do, I won’t be offended, even if he ends up with his privates trapped in a portable massage table.

I was pretty busy today, so I did not get a lot of posts in. At the end of my day though, qnjones posted in the Metablog that she was expecting more of a fight with aprilp_katje over Becky’s attitude about the robert freeman party. Robert Freeman is the grandfather from the bitingly, satirical Boondocks strip, which has been animated to have a release on October 2 on the Adult Swim part of Cartoon Network (plug). I am looking forward to seeing it, but I am strange that way. Howard turned this into a reality TV show kind of thing, with an opportunity for Becky to get exposure and then used that to hopefully give qnjones the fight she was hoping for.

Writing the fight sequence between Becky and Howard was quite interesting. It gave me a feel for why so many professional writers are a little crazy. In order to do a proper dialogue, you have to get yourself into the emotional head of the character. I found myself getting worked up during the course of writing it, particularly during the part where Howard expressed an emotion for Becky quite a bit stronger than his usual, “you’re my bud.” Of course the other trick to April’s Real Blog is that in order for this stuff to work, you also have to throw in a few funny lines with all the trauma. It was fun to do. I had a similar, but less emotional experience, when I posted the exploding Dixie story with aprilp_katje. Both qnjones and aprilp_katje are phenomenally fast with their writing. I could just imagine them saying, “I posted my response 5 minutes ago. Why hasn’t he responded back?”

If you are a person who reads Howard Kelpfroth’s Blog, but not the comments posted to it, schmoosie who posts for Liz on April’s Real Blog, has said she wouldn’t mind being my posting buddy when I pick up posting for Constable Paul Wright. It will be a love story, so it will be really different from the Howard stuff. Schmoosie is really good at the emotional stuff, so it will be a challenge to keep up with her. Plus, I am really curious how Lynn Johnston is going to have them meet, without him appearing to be a stalker.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Loveable Liz

I got my inspiration today from schmoosie posting as Liz. She (I think schmoosie is a she) dropped the idea that Elly's full page color singles advertisement for Liz was published, and I started thinking, "What is the worst that this could be?" I adapted the strip Elly's description of Liz and reworded it to lose its innocence. Then I had to think if I had ever seen Liz in a swimsuit and I immediately remembered the Sunday strip from last year where she went topless after April spit watermelon seeds on her back. Yuck, April. That was disgusting. The Elly snark came together nicely after that.

I had Howard go and visit poor Gerald in the hospital thinking I was going to get inspired to write something funny about the visit. Nothing came to me that didn't involve putting the poor guy back into the hospital. So, I opted to do a little Gerald Project work, so there might be something interesting for him to say once he finally gets around to telling his version of the massage table incident.

Constable Paul Wright was finally named in the 9/21/2005 strip as Liz's Mr. Right (has to be in the running for the worst pun ever in the For Better or For Worse strip). I am seriously considering posting as him, assuming nobody beats me to it and assuming that schmoosie would be interested in a posting buddy for her upcoming Liz love story. I haven't decided for sure.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Where Do You Get Your Inspiration?

Today the inspiration came from eeknight posting as Anthony. He mentioned that Elly had been putting pictures of Liz into certain books being purchased. One of the books in question was Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code”, which I coincidentally just finished reading. So I tried to imagine what Howard would think of the book and that led me into taking Howard once again to Lilliput’s to buy it and an encounter with Elly Patterson over the Liz picture. At first I thought we were being a little harsh with Lynn Johnston about this “Elly pimping Liz” plot, but then I read the 9/20 strip where Elly practically does a singles ad for Liz and realized that we were not harsh enough. Bring on the snark, April’s Real Blog posters!

My second inspiration for the day came from aprilp_katje as April’s and qnjones as Gerald’s excellent posts on Saturday for the Gerald / April date. I was able to use their dialogue to lead into a Grandpa Jim and Iris post reported by Howard.

The fact that Elly is setting up Liz with a policeman leads me to the idea that Howard would make a return appearance in the strip in order to utilize the police protection to lead to romance. That’s probably just wishful thinking.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Dinner with Dr. Forsythe

I had to be away from the computer for most of the day today, so when I finally got back, I was curious as to what stuff would have been posted by qnjones as Gerald and Becky about the events of the dinner with Gerald’s dad and how I would work those 2 narratives together into Howard’s narrative. As it turned out, Becky posted, but Gerald didn’t. In addition, Becky’s post was unusually terse for a Becky post. So I had to come up with a reason why Gerald would not have posted and why Becky’s post was so short.

1. If I were Gerald’s father, how would I try to encourage my son to be interested in another girl? There were the usual methods of threat, bribery, vague hinting (April = bad, Becky = good), but I was pretty sure that would not actually work with our straight arrow Gerald. So, I called up my experiences in watching “The Bachelor” television show, as to what would be considered a very romantic date. Gerald’s dad would set up a romantic situation and hope that nature would take its course between Gerald and Becky.
2. Why was Becky’s post short? My thought was that Becky goes along with quite a few of the romantic things, and may be embarrassed to admit that to April on April’s Real Blog. Nothing nasty, but enough to perhaps make April a little concerned.
3. Why didn’t Gerald post? My thought was embarrassment. Becky’s post said he had a testicular injury, but that’s nothing new for Gerald these days. I had to up the ante to get embarrassment.

Thanks to aprilp_katje for suggesting the idea that Gerald’s dad is a man who has a stack of legal books on being a surety. I took that idea to do Gerald’s dad’s dialogue in surety legalese. After all that, I hope someone takes the time to read it and maybe finds it a little funny.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Standing on the Corner, Watching All the Snark Go By

On April’s Real Blog today, for Howard the action was elsewhere. It was on April’s date with Gerald and then at Becky’s Sam Driver party. Howard was not involved in any of it. All I could do was to wait for the snark to come in from the participating players and make comments on it. It made me appreciate how well aprilp_katje does that and manages to sneak in her own funny April stuff to boot on a daily basis.

I liked the fact that the Becky celebrity comic strip party this time was Judge Parker, which has been one of my favorite strips for years, mainly due to the artistry of Harold LeDoux. His line work and composition are consistently superb. When I was growing up, there were many comic strips artists of that quality, but now very few are left. Lynn Johnston’s artwork has improved quite a bit since her earliest days of doing For Better or For Worse, but it still pales in comparison to LeDoux. Lynn has clearly farmed a lot of the art chores off to amateur artists, which is a pretty common practice (e.g. Garfield). The face and body shapes are not consistent from panel to panel, and the person who does the backgrounds using a ruler drives me nuts. I don’t know where Lynn got these people, but anyone with any kind of art training would not be making these kinds of mistakes. Why hire rank amateurs when there are plenty of good artists who would kill to get a regular art job? I don’t understand it.

Tomorrow Howard and Becky go to Gerald’s dad’s house for dinner. I will be absent from the computer for most of tomorrow, so I expect I will have the joy of filling in the empty spots that qnjones posting as Becky will leave me when I get back. It will be nice to once again have a piece of the action.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Gerald Development Project

Last night I went to bed having dropped a line about Howard in the April’s Real Blog, where he could have drunk a drugged drink, or he could have just gotten a little bad grape juice in his glass. It was up to qnjones posting as Becky to resolve what happened next. When I got up the next morning, qnjones had still not posted a resolution and some evil thoughts started popping up in my head. What if I post as Howard where it appears that Becky might have spiked the drink, and then Becky took advantage of Howard; instead of the more obvious Becky’s mom did it? The idea was too irresistible, and so I went ahead and did it. qnjones then posted a resolution to the storyline that of course, had Becky as innocent of the drink drugging. In that post, Becky taped a conversation between Rhetta Blum and herself posing as her mother to fool Rhetta. Then the tape ends up in the hands of Gerald’s Dad, the child psychologist, and there is also an invitation to Sunday dinner from Gerald’s dad to both Howard and Becky. 2 thoughts went through my head:

1. If I were Gerald’s dad and I were to play the tape, what would I make of it? I went back through the Becky – Rhetta tape dialogue post and it worked beautifully to set up the idea that Becky may have actually been responsible for the drugging. I don’t know if that was done intentionally, but it worked great for me.
2. Why did Becky get an invitation to dinner? I understood why Howard did, but not Becky. Then my evil brain started working again. qnjones also posts as Gerald, and has written as Gerald a series of hilarious posts that discuss how he is struggling mightily with teenage sexual desire. Gerald’s girlfriend April is not putting out, but in the mind of Gerald’s dad, Becky might (because of the drug / seduction possibility of thought #1). This set up the whole idea that Gerald’s mom and dad might try to move his attention from April to Becky, and hence the dinner invitation to Becky.

qnjones had said she wanted an opportunity to develop Gerald a little, and this is what I have tried to set up for her -- an opportunity for Gerald to defy his parents for April, and for Gerald to express why it is that he prefers April to Becky. With any luck the marvelous aprilp_katje can also post the April perspective to the whole thing. In the For Better or For Worse website monthly letters from April, she has been nervous about Becky with Gerald before.

Finally Howard got to do a little Iris snark today. In the FBOFW website monthly letters from Iris, she inevitably talks about some activity that she and Grandpa Jim are doing. I decided to make light of this, by stringing together every thing she did listed on the website that involves going out of the apartment building. I refer to this style of humor as the endless list, where none of the items are particularly funny, but if you take them in altogether, then they could become humorous because they are numerous. The only downside to the endless list is that not one of the items appeared in the regular strip, so it was snark based completely on the monthly letters, which I usually try to avoid.

The additional aspect to the Iris snark was in order to help with the Gerald development project. I had Iris send flowers to April on behalf of Howard, in order to spark a little Gerald jealousy, when he sees April’s flowers and knows they are not from him. I look forward to seeing what Gerald is going to do with all this mess I have thrown at him.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Running Out of Grandpa Snark

Today I went through the last of the obvious jokes about Grandpa Jim that I had gotten from looking over the strips and letters about him over the last 3 years in the For Better or For Worse website archives. The joke being that Grandpa Jim complains about his health all the time, and then turns around and says that life is beautiful or some such thing as that. In the monthly letters on the FBOFW website, he mentions sneaking a smoke and eating candy (specifically peanut butter cups) provided by April (the candy, not the smokes) that he keeps hidden in a bag in the linen closet. Those 2 elements combined for today’s Grandpa Jim snark, i.e. I complain about my health, then I say I don’t complain and then I do something quite unhealthy. It was not particularly funny stuff, but as I said, it was the last of the obvious jokes.

The rest of the day was spent trying to set up another Garage Opera kind of scenario, except with Becky’s mom taking the place of Elly and as before, leaving qnjones as Becky plenty of places to insert her own stuff, should she care to. It was fun putting together the Becky’s mom poem/song. There is a tune that goes with it, but it doesn’t translate well with Blog posting. The dinner was made up of a series of Canada-specific food items. Since I live in the U.S., it was fun researching the kinds of foods that might be served in Canada, but not in the U.S. The on-line pictures of beaver’s tail look pretty good, but the pictures of poutine râpée on-line look disgusting. Maybe it looks better in real life. If I can believe the on-line Canadian food guide, pheasant and maple syrup are popular in Ontario, although not necessarily together. I apologize to any Canadian food-lovers that I may have just insulted.

qnjones also posts as April’s boyfriend Gerald, and has expressed a desire for me to somehow get Gerald involved in a storyline, by introducing the possibility that Gerald’s father become Howard’s surety in his legal case, replacing the sexually voracious Rhetta Blum. phatsmacky has not done his “RHETTA!!” scream in several days, so I have lost my enthusiasm for her. I will have to put my poor feeble brain to the task. Once Gerald posts that his father has agreed to be Howard’s surety, then we will be on our way. To what I don’t know.

Today was also my day for missing jokes. the_berserker posting as Duncan had a very funny sequence involving some children’s book that I had never heard of. I was unfamiliar with the story, but once I was, the Duncan posts were quite funny. Then aprilp_katje slid in a subtle joke about the many ways to spell Kimmie, Kimmi or Kimmy, which I also missed until she explained it. Then qnjones posting as Becky indicated that Becky’s mom Krystal’s maiden name was Carrington, from the TV show Dynasty. This was another joke I did not get until it was explained to me. Then after that qnjones posted that the judge in Becky's case was Judge Joseph F. Crater, a judge who disappeared mysteriously in the 1930s, until evidence found just last month uncovered that he had been murdered. My Grandpa Jim stuff felt like a giant baseball bat compared to all this devastatingly sneaky humor.

Meanwhile in the actual For Better or For Worse strip, my fears about Elly meeting Howard in the prison seem to be alleviated by Friday’s strip, where it appears that police stations also substitute as free hotels. If they had met, I was working out in my mind an elaborate scheme involving evil twins to reconcile the last 4 weeks of April’s Real Blog Howard posts and the actual contents of the strip and monthly letters.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

There’s Something About Dixie

I had just been thinking about how to do some pet snark on April’s Real Blog, and was having the hardest time finding a way to work it in. Howard works in a veterinary office? Howard chances upon the pets in a park? Then aprilp_katje practically hand-delivered and gift-wrapped the answer when she said that April was taking Dixie to Grandpa Jim’s for a visit. Quickly I looked through the entire collection of strips and letters on-line for Grandpa and Dixie and there was only cheese. Havarti cheese is specifically mentioned in the letters, with Elly being concerned about Grandpa overfeeding Dixie both in the letters and the strips. This begged the question, what would actually happen if Grandpa overfed Dixie with cheese? The obvious answer was the exploding Dixie. I was reminded of the scene in Monty Python’s “The Meaning of Life” where the overeating fat guy is fed one last mint by the French waiter and then explodes. The scene is hysterical and gross beyond belief. I had it in mind the whole time when I was posting back and forth with aprilp_katje about Dixie and the cheese. I also had a good time looking up the various kinds of Havarti cheese which mainly consists of different things placed in the cheese. It’s kind of a boring cheese as far as variations go. The only real variation was creamy or not creamy. After doing all those posts, I suddenly had a craving for Havarti and went and got some from the local grocer. It was low fat creamy, by the way.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Grandpa Jim WAR HERO

I went back through the 3 years of strip archive and the monthly letters on the For Better or For Worse website and found very little about Grandpa Jim and his war record. In the monthly letters, Jim seems to be more concerned with a pickup social band he used to play in rather than the actual war effort. It made snarking on Grandpa Jim and the war difficult and my post about his military record rapidly turned back into a “Grandpa Jim the lecher” piece. I did however enjoy looking up what the Royal Canadian Air Force actually did during WWII and found a flying ace that lived reasonably close to Jim in Toronto to use as an famous past associate.

One of the monthly letters from Jim and Iris talked about how they liked the British science fiction TV show “Doctor Who.” The earliest this show played was in the early 1960s. I am not sure when it was imported to Canada, but in the U.S., it arrived during the 1970s. The show discontinued production in England in 1984, but it has recently been revived. Assuming a similar time for the Canadian import as the U.S. import, this means that Jim’s exposure to the show would have been at the earliest when he was well into his 4os. I presume Jim and Iris are watching the newly revised show. I have seen no evidence that either Jim or Iris is a sci-fi geek, so the letter was very curious. I have the feeling that, more than any other of the monthly letter-writers, the Jim/Iris writer takes a lot of liberties with the character. This is probably due to his extremely limited number of appearances in the strip. Most of the stories he tells in the monthly letters are unconfirmed by the strip itself. Even recently, Jim’s pro-Becky stance in his letter did not match his own actions in the strip in which he was definitely pro-April.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Working the Palace

As I went through the For Better or For Worse 3-year archives on their web site for the Grandpa Jim-related strips, I found it interesting how many of the strips revealed Grandpa’s lecherous side. He had one moment after another where he was dreaming about being served by beautiful women, or talking about how he would wink at a 50-year-old woman, or was staring at young girls walking by, and of course, the infamous butt-signing incident. After these things occurred, Iris would almost never say anything about it. It’s like Lynn thinks the idea of a grandpa lusting after women, when he doesn’t have the stamina to do anything about it, is more humorous than the humiliation that such actions would bring to his wife. It was with this in mind that I compared Jim and his friend Frank to lusty constructors workers leering at passing women. In contrast, I tried to show why Iris and May wouldn’t care what Jim and Frank did with a bizarre discussion about the Milborough courtship lifestyle that made it appear as though they were much more in control of the situation than their husbands.

I went through the strips and letters involving the new Bentwood Rockers also. I found that the person writing the Iris / Jim monthly website letters must not have actually looked at the strips for the new Bentwood Rockers. Esther Whiffleblatt was mentioned playing a mean clarinet in the letters, where the only lady shown in the strip playing an instrument is consistently carrying a violin. Also the letters’ litany of musical instruments is far greater than the numbers presented in the strip. I tried to attribute this to Howard having bad eyes. To Lynn’s credit, the new Bentwood Rockers song lyrics are recognizable and never repeat. So I boiled down some of those and then some of my favorite Cole Porter songs for the concert songs. Cole Porter was a legendary homosexual and did not write per the standard Broadway tripe of his day, so he is a good choice for Howard to admire outside of the light opera stuff he usually quotes for musical references.

It’s been fun to snark on Grandpa Jim and Iris because the plethora of FBOFW commentary boards rarely ever goes in that direction. The downside is that my references may be so obscure that nobody gets the joke. Oh well. Damn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead.

Next: Grandpa Jim WAR HERO

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Howard meets Rhetta's Parents

Well now Howard has almost been tricked into getting married by 2 Milborough women in April’s Real Blog. First it was Kortney in Las Vegas and now it is Rhetta in Milborough. Howard gets to meet Rhetta’s parents, and I got to run through a sequence where Rhetta’s dad’s main objection to Howard was his love of opera after a list of things that would normally be quite objectionable to most parents. This probably won’t be the last time a Milborough woman tries to trick Howard into marriage, but I will probably wait awhile before I do it again.

This whole sequence with Howard is based on an idea presented in the For Better or For Worse strip. That is the painfully obvious impending marriage of Anthony and Liz in the next 2 years. Liz appears to be an attractive, likeable, young lady, who in normal society would have more than a few suitors, who are single, unattached and faithful to her. She should not have to rely on a married guy like Anthony to be her knight in shining armour. But because she does rely on Anthony, and all other suitors have been shown to be lacking in some way or other (Eric cheats, Warren never visits), then it opens up the question why this is. I suspect Lynn’s reason is that she has been plotting for them to be together for several years and is using Anthony’s marriage as drama. I think she has watched “The Best Years of Our Lives” movie a few too many times, which has a very similar plotline. Howard, however, snarks out a different reason to hopefully humorous effect.

Next: Working the Palace

Becky's Pool Party

In the morning I was contemplating whether or not Rhetta would horn in on Becky's Pool Party, since qnjones as Becky had specifically posted that she did not want Rhetta there. So, I posted as Rhetta asking permission to come and posted as Howard saying he was confused about Rhetta's permission to come. If Becky or April or anyone else for that matter had posted before the 11 am hour to not bring Rhetta, then she would have not been there. However, and fortunately, that was not the case.

I showed none of the patience my fellow posters did when I got delayed getting back to the computer to post the Garage Opera. The idea of the party ending up at the hospital got me so tickled, I had to go with that idea, leaving enough empty spaces for my fellow snarkers to fill in the details. I am very pleased with the results. qnjones as Becky and Gerald and aprilp_katje as April left me in stitches and I am still giggling about the events. Howard however, once he comes out of his drugged stupor, will be mortified.

Next: Howard meets Rhetta's Parents

Friday, September 09, 2005

Working at the Milborough Seniors' Living Palace

Jim and Iris Richards have been deserving of some snark for awhile. I went through the For Better or For Worse on-line archive of the last 3 years of strips, and checked out all the material with Grandpa Jim and Iris. There was not very much there. One thing I found interesting was that I did not see any strips covering the last 3 years, where Grandpa Jim did anything with Mike or Elizabeth. The grandchild sequences seemed to be exclusively with April. April is really the favored child as far as the men-folk of the Patterson family go.

In the monthly letters section, Jim mentions taking food to Mike and Dee after they had baby Robin, and mentions family gettogethers over the holidays. There were quite a few stories in the monthly letters that were not ever represented or referred to in the strips. Jim and Iris are the 2 busiest retired people I know. Every letter was a litany of all these activities they do and it changed seasonally. As far as snarking goes though, I am loathe to snark on the material in the letters, without there being some representation in the strips to go along with it. So, it should provide some challenges to find enough.

By the way, the list of technical attributes associated with walkers in my walker snark were taken from actual on-line walker websites. Not that anyone will appreciate that air of authenticity, but I enjoyed researching it.

As for Rhetta Blum, I am determined to do something with her every day, to get the phatsmacky RHETTTTTTAAAAAA!!!!! scream. Howard is weak when it comes to doing things for women. At least my Howard is. After all, my Howard’s motivation for “attacking” Elizabeth was based on the idea that he was helping her in a warped sort of way. The only thing I really know about Rhetta is what is on the For Better or For Worse web site. I have been reading this strip for years, but I honestly have no recollection of Rhetta playing a crucial role in any of the storylines. I remember her as being just Mike’s generic girlfriend. I know she was conveniently out with another guy just at the time when Mike wanted to break up with her to date Deanna. I infer from this that she is nice but a little duplicitous. Howard is way too simple a guy to be able to outsmart her and he is too nice to outmuscle her. It’s going to go badly for Howard.

Next: Becky’s Pool Party

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Howard out on bail

My anonymous poster gave me more invaluable information on the Canadian judicial system with respect to assault, lifted from comments from 2 days ago. Once again thanks anonymous poster.

If Howard decides not to enter guilty pleas, it would be likely be several months before the trial would be held. Howard doesn't have any information to trade with respect to the sexual assault charges themselves, and the Crown generally doesn't like to enter into plea bargains with respect to such charges, particularly without the victims' consent. The Crown would be very concerned by the public safety issue: Howard's already been accused of assaulting three women. If Howard were cooperative on other matters, the Crown *might* agree not to seek a jail term on sentencing (they would want, at the very least, probation with stringent terms, including but not limited to non-association with the victims and therapy,) but that agreement would not bind the sentencing judge.

I decided that Howard would not plead guilty and go on the assumption that a trial would be scheduled some time after the For Better or For Worse strip is retired. This gets Howard out of jail and free to snark about Milborough, which is my reason for his being. If Lynn Johnston decides to ever mention Howard again, then I will adjust to whatever she writes. My expectation is that Howard was only a plot device to get Elizabeth and Anthony together and is already gone from her mind, so there should be no difficulty. I would still love there to be a Trial of Howard sequence, but the outlook is bleak for that to happen. LJ has to get Liz and Anthony married, get Elly and John retired and into that other house, and get Mike, Deanna and family into the Elly and John house in just under 2 years. The packing and moving storyline will take most of that time.

Today was Howard’s bail hearing, which is the necessary step to get him out and about. I took advantage of the existence of the surety for the bail hearing to get Rhetta Blum into the picture. I had originally thought I would go for some sort of competition between Rhetta and Kortney over Howard (and that is still a possibility) but right now it will just be Rhetta. I will mention her as often as possible, for no other reason than to get phatsmacky who posts as Michael Patterson to do his RHETTTTTTAAAAAA!!!!! scream each day.

Next: Working at the Milborough Seniors' Living Palace

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

In the Jailhouse

An anonymous person very familiar with Canadian assault law has given me much information in response to my last Blog post. I appreciate it very much. I am anxious for Howard to get off with a fine and little to no jail time, and still be somewhat representative of what would happen in the justice system. Howard’s ability to snark is limited if he has to spend a lot of time in jail. To do this, I introduced the idea that Howard can plea bargain with information that he has gained from his dealings with the infamous Mayes family. From the standpoint of April’s Blog, the Mayes cannot actually be arrested for being the Godmother and Godfather of Milborough crime, since it will never happen in the For Better or For Worse strip; but it might provide a means for Howard to get out of his legal problems with just a healthy fine. Hopefully, the anonymous person will tell me if that will work within the boundaries of Canadian assault law, or suggest some other way for Howard to get out of his dilemma. If not anything else, doing this character is proving to be educational.

mst3k4evr posting as Kortney has to take a break from posting in order to spend time doing a job search. So, Howard is going to continue on without Kortney for awhile. qnjones who posts as Becky really wants them to be married, and become the anti-Pattersons, but I want to give mst3k4evr time to come back and dialogue with me for the courtship and marriage, if it comes to that. Also thanks go to aprilp_katje and qnjones for keeping my own stories straight with Howard meeting Becky’s dad for the “second” time. My poor feeble brain is no match for theirs.

Next: Howard out on bail

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

H&K in Sin City: Part Quatre

I have pretty much run the gamut of snark Howard can do in the remote location of Las Vegas. It is time to come back to Milborough and put into place the storyline that Lynn intended for Howard, i.e. he has the 3 charges she laid against him in the September letters. After internet searching for assault law in Toronto, which I guess is as close to Milborough as I can reasonably get, I came up with a website that discussed assault on a simple enough level for me. I will explain what I understand, and if anyone is more familiar with the law than I, they can feel free to correct me. This is not my area of expertise.

It appears that assault can be tried as a summary conviction (minor crime) or as an indictable conviction (major crime). The key ingredients that distinguish the 2 are whether or not the victim was injured and whether or not the assailant used a gun. Since Howard did not actually injure Liz or use a gun on her, as near as I can, he would be tried for a summary conviction. The website did distinguish between assault and sexual assault, with sexual assault on a summary conviction having a slightly higher maximum sentence (which I frankly found a little appalling that it was so light a punishment.) I am not sure if Howard’s assault would be considered sexual or not. The website did not list the distinctions between simple assault and sexual assault. In the September letters, Elizabeth called it assault and Elly called it sexual harassment. So, I am going with simple assault, because it would be stupid for Liz to file a sexual harassment charge.

From what appeared on the law website, it appears that Howard will be arrested, post bail or have someone post bail within 24 hours and then he will have to stay around the Milborough area until the trial occurs. This would allow Howard to continue to snark about Milborough unencumbered for some time. In the area in which I live, it sometimes takes years for criminal trials to come to court. For Better or For Worse may be finished before Howard comes to trial.

If the trial did occur, its success would hinge on Elizabeth and Anthony’s testimony. I am presuming that the 2 other women who filed charges after Liz must not have had a rescuer / witness like Liz did. Otherwise, they would have filed themselves earlier. So they may be in the “She said. He said.” category with quite some time passing since their assaults occurred. I suspect that Lynn never plans to mention Howard again, except in the way that she mentions Kortney, i.e. “It is good to be forgiving of bad behaviour.” So, Howard could get off when Liz and Anthony don’t testify, because they are too busy making their wedding plans.

Next: In the Jailhouse

Monday, September 05, 2005

H&K in Sin City: Part Trois

In a comment to Howard’s Blog, qnjones said, “I actually think it could be quite hilarious to have Liz's and April's abusers fall in love and get married. They could return to Milborough as the Anti-Pattersons.” This gave me the idea for having Kortney try to trick Howard into marriage at the Chapel of Love, which was the high point of my posting today, for me at least.

Kortney’s crying reaction after the Chapel of Love was based on a real-life experience that happened to me. Some years ago, I went on a movie date with a woman at a mall. We were getting in the car to leave and talking about the movie, when she made a comment about how she thought most people were bad, and were good only when they were forced to. Thinking I was getting into a philosophical discussion, I countered with the idea that most people were good, who occasionally made mistakes and as a consequence did bad things. At this point, the woman started crying really hard and telling me something. She was crying so hard that, like Howard, I could not understand a word she was saying. I tried giving her a hug, or holding and patting her hand, and she refused all those motions. So, I ended up sitting there, looking attentive, nodding occasionally, and hoping that at some point, she would put together some sort of a coherent sentence. She went on so long, that all the cars in the mall had left and we were all alone. Eventually, a security car drove by and started heading our direction, and that provided the end to our conversation. Some time later I found out the woman already had a steady boyfriend, but was known to cheat on him. I had not known this when I asked her out. I do not know if anything she said to me that night had anything to do with him.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

H&K in Sin City Part Deux

On the April’s Real Blog, Howard and Kortney are in their second day of their trip to Las Vegas.

This Vegas thing is killing me. Today was more sex jokes and Canadian / US humor. I got to throw in a running joke about how Kortney is continually mistaken for first Paris Hilton and then Lindsay Lohan. This was a little subtle (at least I think it was subtle) jab at the way the Hollywood starlets all try to make themselves look like each other, with their hair color being one of the few distinguishing traits. I was amused with myself, even if nobody else was.

My dialogue partner for Kortney, mst3k4evr, did throw in a nice suggestive comment about having “fun” with Howie, so I went with the innocent Howie suggesting a full body massage for “fun.” Later on the day, I had Kortney get upset with Howie for wearing a dress, and make a comment which could be inferred that Kortney had in fact had “fun” and not just a massage. No one picked up on that one. It’s Labor Day weekend in the U.S., so not a lot of April’s Real Blog activity.

Tomorrow. Tomorrow. I love you tomorrow. Because it is Labor Day.

H&K in Sin City

My Kortney dialogue partner mst3k4evr, had posted that Kortney wanted to go to Las Vegas. I was initially at a loss at how to accomplish this until eeknight as Anthony practically hand-delivered and gift-wrapped the solution with an extremely funny story about a fire burning down the gentlemen’s club, “The Gig” and there being a mysteriously missing safe. A stack of ready cash from the safe obtained by Kortney and Howard was the answer to all my problems. Thanks, eeknight.

The second problem is how to snark on the For Better or Worse strip when you have moved your character out of Milborough, the main place for snarking. It is not easy, and I admit to having done a particularly poor job at it, having to resort to cheap sex jokes and Canadian / US prejudices for humor. Maybe tomorrow will be better. In the meantime, I am running through my memory about the Las Vegas scenery, and leaving openings for mst3k4evr to do Kortney snark.

The third problem is the Howard / Kortney love story. I have no idea how mst3k4evr feels about doing mushy romance stuff. The fun part about doing April’s Real Blog is that you don’t know what the other people are going to post until they post it. Howard today opened up the possibility that he is actually bisexual instead of gay. Romance may be in the air. Who knows what the next day will bring?

Friday, September 02, 2005

On the Road to Mtigwaki

I had one of those Emperor’s New Clothes moments this morning. In that story, the idea is that the Emperor is hoodwinked by criminals into believing he has fancy clothes, until it is revealed by a little boy that he is actually naked. Oh foolish Emperor. Always do background checks on your tailor. I never liked the criminals’ part of the story. To me it is more reasonable that the Emperor has deluded himself into thinking that he doing well only to have the rug (or clothes) yanked from under him in the most embarrassing possible way. That has happened to me so many times, I cannot count them all.

The other part of the Emperor’s New Clothes story is that his closest advisors know the truth, but won’t tell him because they are afraid of offending the Emperor. Oh, foolish Emperor. You should always encourage your advisors to tell the truth. It reminds me of those times when I would see someone making obvious errors. Do you correct them? Will they take correction? Or will they get angry at the criticism? The story works on many levels, and I guess that why it is still told today.

I have had those same kinds of moments: When I finished a production and was informed that I hit the wrong note during a solo every time I did the show. Why didn’t they tell me beforehand so I could correct it? Or, the time in college when, during the end-of-year dormitory banquet, my roommate received the “Most Likely to Have a Better Roommate Next Year” award. I cannot tell you how humiliating that was. In the case of the solo, I did actually hit the wrong note. I heard the recording of the production. In the case of the roommate, I discovered that my roommate was really particular about the way he liked things to be done, but decided to tell other people about those things and not me.

So, like the moral of the story, I plan to take the advice I have received about my Howard posts on April’s Real Blog and put on what I believe to be better clothes.

On to Mtigwaki, the land of trees. This is a place that I have felt was desperately in need of snarking and so I set up some days ago, a post that would allow Howard to have an excuse to go there and snark, that being his defense against the conspiratorial defense of Liz from Warren, to make Anthony her only suitor. Not that this really needed to be done. The letters from Elizabeth on the FBOFW website have been harping on Warren’s inattentiveness to Liz for over a year, sort of. He’s not visited in person, but he emails occasionally and they saw each other over Christmas and I’m thinking, “That’s not too bad for a guy working out of a helicopter in B.C.” Speaking of the website letters, it was interesting as I went through the FBOFW website September letters and the various commentaries about those letters, that Lynn received much snarking about how obvious it was that she was setting up Mike and Dee to move into the Patterson ancestral home and for Elly and John to move elsewhere. I was wondering if people had analyzed my posts as carefully as that, would they have noticed my Mtigwaki setup for Howard as the setup it so blatantly was?

In preparation for the Mtigwaki snark, I went very rapidly back through the strips involving Liz for the last year, starting from when she went to Mtigwaki the first time. I discovered something that surprised me. If I concentrated just on Liz in Mtigwaki, it was actually a very pleasant read, so much so that the Liz / Anthony / Thérèse triangle and fall-on-the-ice storyline in the middle of it was pretty jarring in comparison. Also, reading it that rapidly allowed me to gloss over the sillier parts of the story in Mtigwaki, like Gary and Viv doing weeks of expository dialogue on the lifestyle there and the extremely coincidental arrival of Shiimsa, as a newly born kitten. They were silly, but they weren’t unpleasant. It made me wish that Lynn relied more on the real-life stuff and not the Lifetime Channel Movie plots she used with Howard / Anthony / Liz.

I think I may get a dialogue partner in mst3k4evr, who started doing posts again for Kortney, who is currently traveling with Howard. There is the potential for a lot of fun dialogue, and it should allow fewer of the Howard posts to look like fan fiction.

Join us tomorrow for H&K in Sin City

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Howard, Prison or Freedom?

I have been anxiously anticipating the arrival of The September letters, which I am sure will be the last input from Lynn on the character of Howard in For Better or For Worse.

Elly’s letter lays the foundation of Liz’s proper behaviour at work. Liz reports Howard to Lawrence and Nick, who then do all the right things: Give a warning to Howard, apologize to Liz with a gift basket and card after the assault. Howard is marked as a homophobe, but without a recourse for Lawrence and Nick, since the Howard’s remarks are alleged and not proven. Within the context of the April’s Real Blog Howard story, none of these comments have any effect. They are the things that Lawrence and Nick would say and do to make Elly and Liz feel like they have done all they can in that situation. They would have done this no matter if there was a conspiracy or not.

Elizabeth’s letter is more problematic. She has filed charges, as I predicted she would. But the letter goes on to indicate that somehow 2 other women found out that she had filed charges and then did also. The part that is missing from Liz’s letter is some comment about how the 2 ladies found out about the assault charges in the first place. Was it in the newspaper? Did the people in Milborough talk up the assault so much that it became common knowledge to everyone in town? Did the police already have a record of assaults against Howard, for which they could not get the victims to press charges and then tried again once Elizabeth pressed her charges? It does not really matter because having other witnesses means it leaves Liz free to not have to participate in a trial against Howard. The prosecutors will say something like, “We don’t need you to come back from Mtigwaki for your testimony, Miss Elizabeth. The witnesses we have are enough. Why don’t you just get on with your life as if nothing ever happened, and be sure to invite us to your wedding with Anthony.” I would love for there to be a “Trial of Howard” sequence, but I am pretty much resigned to the idea that Howard will never be mentioned again.

However, because we do not know how the 2 women came to know the assault charges had been filed, this left the door open for the conspiracy story to work. The 2 ladies are hired to do it by the conspiracy mastermind. Howard is a loose cannon, so if he stays in town with the charges having been filed, he is going to jail. He would not get a light sentence in a town controlled by the evil characters that have been established in April’s Real Blog. qnjones, the fine poster for Becky and many other delightful characters had suggested letters from jail. I was trying to find jailed characters from For Better or For Worse to interact with Howard, and ran into a brick wall. So, I decided Howard is going to make a run for it. In jail, he can’t snark. On the run, he can visit Mtigwaki and other places.

But we can’t leave without finally revealing the mastermind behind the operation, Lawrence and Nick’s “friend.” I’ve dropped some clues that it is Mike, but had Lawrence and Nick so ridicule the idea that it could not be he. No one seemed to pick up on that, but that’s OK. Sob! Aside from that, it is a lot better for Mike’s character to be innocent of these matters. He is a regular cast member and his poster would probably prefer the idea of him being uninvolved in a conspiracy involving an attack on his sister. I needed someone to be the “friend” who was familiar with the FBOFW cast but would be a little of a surprise, but not so heavily involved with the daily goings-on of the story. Tracey Mayes fit the bill. Qnjones is listed as posting her, so I hope she was not too upset when I turned Tracey into the mastermind and provided a reason for the whole plot that didn’t have to do with people marrying their childhood sweethearts. Plus it has the extra side benefit of explaining exactly what motivated Gordon to become the mogul he is. To my fellow posters, I am sorry the story was so dark, but I promise light-hearted posts in the days to come.

I am going to digress into a different story here. Years ago, I was living in an apartment with 2 male roommates, and we were awoken one night by yelling in the parking lot outside our building. It was pretty clear from the yelling, that a man was beating up a woman. This is pretty horrifying to hear, and I can still remember the sound of it. My roommates and I called the police and went outside to see what we could do to help. The minute we got outside, both the man and woman hightailed it into a different apartment building. The external door of the building was self-locking and we did not have a key so we could not get in. When the police arrived, they called out to people in the building to come down and let them in. They talked to the woman, who of course was not going to press charges against her boyfriend who beat her. They gave him a warning and then came down to talk to us. The policeman then told me something that astounds me to this day. He said that we should never interfere with an assault, but always let the police do it. If we had intervened and harmed the man as a result, he could take us to court for assaulting him and we could be assured that the girlfriend who had been assaulted would back him up. This event has been running through my head for the last 2 weeks, and I just had to write it up.

Next: Howard on the Run or On the Road to Mtigwaki