Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Swimming with the Fishes

Today in April’s Real Blog, qnjones posting as Liz suggested that Constable Paul Wright give Shiimsa the cat some yellow roses. My mind went around about this could happen. Mtigwaki does not have any kind of stores except that grocery / bait shop and 2 restaurants mentioned in the Elizabeth monthly letters. Neither of those places would have freshly cut roses in the middle of winter. The people in Mtigwaki have to carpool to the closest town of Spruce Narrows. I couldn’t think of a way to work it and make it match what we have been told about Mtigwaki, so I suggested fish. Cats love fish and the local Mtigwaki grocery probably has fish.

Then qnjones suggested that Shiimsa was choosing between the Northern pike and trout. I decided to see if those fish were indigenous to that area of Ontario (they are) and found a wonderful website that described the freshwater fish of Ontario. The best part of it was that each fish species was described with a personality. This inspired me to do my favourite post of the day, which was to link the fish species personality with the cat that liked the fish. I added in tuna and salmon, because those are the canned fish of which I know.

In meantime, Howard has begun a cycle of mealtime-related posts for his tenure at Becky’s house. This is mainly a sequence of running jokes strung together, and the challenge each day will be to use each running joke and try to do something new with it, preferably funny.

Jeremy Jones. He gave Becky a necklace as a symbol he is now Becky’s “sorta, kind” boyfriend. I am not sure where to go with him. Maybe the monthly letters will throw me a bone.

Tomorrow’s strip: Will Elly sell the shop? Inquiring minds want to know.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Would Jeremy Jones be Popular?

I had been playing Jeremy Jones as a sad sack, when qnjones posting as Becky had her go after Jeremy within minutes of his being broken up with Alexandra Love. Now, this is not a strip thing and I know that qnjones has her own motivations for having Becky do that, but it made me wonder if such a thing could actually happen in the strip. In other words, is there something about Jeremy Jones that high school girls would find appealing?

Part 1: Professional Musicians are evil and popular

Jeremy’s dad. He left Jeremy’s mom, so he could tour with his band. Touring is the key. My wife’s stepfather played in a country-western band and they did gigs 2-3 times during the weekend almost every week for years. All of them had jobs elsewhere that paid the bills. If your band is good enough to tour, then you don’t work any other job. This tells me that Jeremy dad’s band is pretty good and it is reasonable to expect that he has some local fame, since he has been doing it for longer than Jeremy has been alive. This is backed up by the fact that Gerald is aware of Jeremy’s dad. The other part is that Jeremy has picked up some sound equipment skills from someone, and that someone is probably his dad. So, it is apparent that his dad did not completely abandon him and is still active in the Milborough area. However, the strip blamed Jeremy’s behaviour problems on his dad leaving, and what is his dad? A professional musician and therefore evil.

April. She is encouraged to do music for fun, but not professionally. She is good, but not popular.

Jim Richards. Only did music for fun. His band does not make anything but bus fare. He is good. He is also popular among the senior citizen set.

Becky. Wants music as a career. She is evil and popular.

Elly’s brother Phil Richards. When he was a pro musician, his career was frowned upon. Now that he is married and teaches music at a university, he is good.

Part 2: The Joys of being a Celebrity Son

No one from my high school was a celebrity’s son. However, when I was in university, attending at the same time as I was Arnold Palmer’s (pro golfer) son. This fellow was known throughout the university, because Arnold managed to get him past dormitory and apartment living by purchasing a house for him close to the university campus. The parties held at his house were legendary. Outside of the members of the men’s basketball team (who won the national championship while I was there), he was the most popular guy in university and we are talking about a university of about 20,000 students.

Part 3: The McGuire Factor

Becky McGuire, who was previously shown to dislike Jeremy in grade 6, is now using Jeremy as her roadie and sound man. This is a significant change in opinion, particularly for Becky, who has strong opinions about people and has been shown to rate them. This also tells me that Jeremy has increased in popularity.

So, I decided it would be fun to do a Jeremy post along those lines involving Lorraine Shoobie.

Constable Paul Wright. I have decided that the good constable is going to be relentlessly pro-Elly, since I have a strong suspicion that is how he will appear when he next meets Elly in the strip. Plus it gives me a great opportunity to do anti-snarking or reverse snarking. Paul made up with qnjones’ Liz today, concluding a funny story arc started by qnjones in a fight over a book.

Howard. I am working with qnjones’ on the storyline of Howard living with Becky. The opening shot occurred today with Howard’s first supper. The premise allows Howard to interface directly with Becky, Dr. McCauley and Becky’s mom everyday, so there is no hurry to dash through anything.

Tomorrow’s strip: Elly and John stuff April into a closet and have dinner without her. During dinner, Elly talks about how life would be as a retiree without either the store or April in her life. This is actually one of the creepiest strips so far. I hope April pops in sometime this week to alleviate my fears.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

How to Stroke her Pussy

When I was a teenager, I bought a book in a book store that I thought would be a dirty book, called “How to Play with Your Pussy.” It was actually published in England and was a humour book describing different ways to play with your cat. As I recollect, it was pretty funny and filled with cat-related humour. As a teen, we had about 13 cats in our house and yard, so much of the book struck home, because I was very familiar with cat behaviour. It is this book I had in mind when I came up with “How to Stroke her Pussy” for Constable Paul Wright and waited to bring up the English publisher at the last minute as the payoff. So, the humour derives from Paul writing as if he is stupid, but in reality, he is not. Of course, it didn’t help that the example I quoted from the book could go either way on the definition of “pussy” as cat or something else.

In real life, if I were moving, I would be packing. So, that’s what I had Howard announce he was doing at the beginning of the day. My secret hope was that one of the other posters to April’s Real Blog would volunteer to help him. But I intentionally did not make that secret hope an obvious hope. Sundays are busy for me and it would be difficult to do a back-and-forth kind of posting with anyone today.

I am trying to move Jeremy Jones back into his more caustic self, after he spent a long time being Mr. Lovey-Dovey with Alexandra Love. I think this will play better with qnjones’ Becky McGuire, Jeremy’s current love interest, whom I am pretty sure is uninterested in doing the Lovey-Dovey kind of stuff with Jeremy and is more interested in doing the occasional makeout when it suits me session with Jeremy. The trick is to take the relationship into something a little different than it was the last time the two were together. This will make interesting reading, I hope, both for any poor saps who happen to read April’s Real Blog to follow Jeremy and for me in writing it.

Tomorrow’s strip. As everyone predicted, Elly is thinking about selling Lilliputs again, with the usual “I’m not quite ready” caveat. In other words, Lynn wants us to think about it, but it’s not going to happen for awhile. It’s like the movie trailers for the Pink Panther movie with Steve Martin. They have been out forever, but the movie is still not here.

Saturday, January 28, 2006


adrianne_p put in her Alex&Eva blog that Alexandra Love now hates Jeremy Jones, but it did not really manifest itself on April’s Real Blog until today. There were many times when I was sorely tempted to have Jeremy be hurt by the Alex&Eva blog entry, but I resisted temptation. I figure that Jeremy Jones would not even check that blog anymore out of deference for Alexandra. However, in the April’s Real Blog, Alexandra’s entry on the 2 lies and 1 truth gave it away, if I allowed the Jeremy read it. So, I succumbed to temptation and decided to put on sad sack Jeremy once again. The reason being, I think Jeremy can accept that Alexandra never loved him, but would be hurt by the thought that she hated him. It would tap into his deepest desire to not be like his father, who is despised by his mother. So, I tried to post around that subject and throw in enough humourous asides that it would not become maudlin.

Constable Paul Wright entered again today, being able to once again take something written about Elly and turn it into a praise machine for her. I expect that when Paul and Elly meet again, Paul will suck up to Elly until it makes me nauseous. So, I am trying to lay the groundwork for that meeting. I also continued the line of the Paul posts that relies on the interpretation of and cow-towing to the meows of Shiimsa. I still marvel at how much material I have been able to work off that January Pets monthly letter. qnjones followed up nicely, and we had a little dialogue going on that theme.

Howard went to his dance competition with Dennis North, culminating the whole purpose for getting together with him in the first place. That is to snark Dennis North specifically and the portrayal of gays in Milborough in general, i.e. how they are all wonderful contributors to society and they don’t flaunt their homesexuality. I went back through the Dennis North strips in 2003 and 2004, and found he was a surprisingly well-developed character, even though he spent far too much time stating the obvious to Liz, about her relationship with Anthony. I found there was a statement that I had ignored at the time, that makes a lot more sense now, 3 years later. It was:

So what’s the story?...Anthony got himself married, but he still loves you. Am I right? And you still care for him. ‘Cause if that’s the case, you have to stay completely away from him.

Suddenly I realized why it was that Liz went all the way to Mtigwaki to teach. It was to “stay completely away from” Anthony. I am still looking forward to Anthony’s first encounter with the good constable, and sincerely hope that Lynn will not rob of us of that moment.

Friday, January 27, 2006

All Boys

As tonight’s all girl sleepover occurred this evening, I suddenly came to the realization that all my characters were boys, so I was effectively shut out from posting. The only free to post character at the sleepover was Shannon Lake.

Howard worked out his up-and-coming work schedule with Krystle and Sugar. Jeremy encountered members of the yearbook staff.

Tomorrow’s strip: I think the snarkers have taken over the strip. That is the only I can see for this week’s strips which seem to be hell-bent on portraying Elly as an deranged lunatic.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Job Interview

The second part of Howard moving in with Becky occurred today with the job interview. It was supposed to have occurred at 5 pm, but I could not get into Blogger for the longest time. When I finally did, it was past 7 pm. qnjones had mentioned that Elly Patterson might show up at the interview because of the free food, so I took that as a sign that qnjones wanted to write that part. So, I gave her the lead-in line of Krystle saying "pastries" and had Elly march in the door. qnjones finished it in her usual superlative style and then aprilp_katje nicely picked up the line qnjones left her with her April and John get the Elly aftermath.

The only other thing Howard did today was snark on the coffee/pacifier relationship from today's strip by playing it back to a running joke I have about Merrie Patterson being a coffee addict. That running joke stems from a strip done awhile back that showed Merrie grasping for her parent's coffee cup. I enjoyed this particular snark because it gave me an opportunity to show that Mike and Dee blame everyone else for their troubles except themselves and Elly.

Constable Paul Wright and Jeremy Jones did not post today, nor were they mentioned by any other characters, so I didn't feel the obligation to make up something with them in it. On my part, I know it was because I was unable to relate coffee or pacifiers to either character.

Tomorrow's strip: The first appearance of Beatrice Alfarero in the strip since she was hired on October 1, 2004. The coloured version is interesting, because I didn't picture Beatrice as being black. With the last name Alfarero, I presumed she would have more Latina features. Now, I know the real reason Eva had features so similar to Beatrice's.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Beginning to Move

Today began the sequence of posts where Howard considers the possibility of living with Becky McGuire. I don’t have much to say about this. Funny stuff ahead.

This evening, qnjones and I started up the Becky / Howard dance where Howard hooks up with Dennis North. Qnjones introduced the brilliant idea that Jim and Iris would be there. This evening I had to let qnjones pretty much carry the story until I got back from church choir practice and putting my kids to bed. She did an excellent job and gave me much with which to work. So, I fired off 2 posts to conclude the story. The first concentrated on the Jim / Iris / Howard relationship, with a few Becky barbs thrown in for good measure. The second was Howard / Dennis with a few more Becky barbs thrown in. I am not very good at writing Becky, as I clearly learned during Thanksgiving (U.S.), when I briefly took over her character. So, I hope qnjones will forgive my poor treatment of her character.

Jeremy did not do a whole lot. I had been dropping hints about Eva getting help from Jeremy on basketball, since Adrianne_p who posts for Eva had declared on the Meta, she knew nothing about the sport. I had Jeremy do his post on explaining basketball anyway. As for me, I went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill during the time that one Michael Jordon was there and won the national championship. So, I am quite familiar with the sport.

Tomorrow’s strip: More Moira abuse and hilarity ensues.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The More the Marry-er

This morning, I was determined to have more posters to April’s Real Blog, even if I had to do it myself. So, I went on a tangent of having comic strip daughters address April with their description of what their mother did or did not do in the morning, and mentioned the family dog if there was one as a part of the equation. This proved to be unnecessary as greytail088 posted as Vicki Simone and adrianne_p finished her sabbatical and start posting again as Eva and Alexandra Love.

My main plot for the day had to do with putting the concluding touches on the Howard / Marjee / Everett story, by introducing a character that I had mentioned peripherally before, Jennifer, the dental assistant. Jennifer appeared in 2 strips in 2003, and as near as I can tell has never reappeared. She is shapely and attractive, and if Dr. Everett Callahan were to be portrayed as heterosexual in the strip For Better or For Worse, he would be sure to date her. I decided to have Jennifer come into the hair salon where Howard and Marjee work, and attempt to make peace with them in an obnoxious and somewhat arrogant way. I have reasons for this. Years ago, when I was single, I participated in a singles group in which there was a young woman who was very pretty and was also a dental assistant. She was outgoing, and most people liked her, but she had the tendency to say very rude things to people as if it were perfectly natural and acceptable to do so. This is the person I envisioned when I was writing Jennifer. As for the idea of dentists marrying dental assistants, it has been my privilege to know a number of young ladies over the years who chose their professions primarily because it allowed them regular exposure to wealthy men. So, I also added that to the Jennifer mix. In the strip, the only thing that is really known about her is that John Patterson and she swap puns during the course of dental procedures and grandpa Jim thinks she is attractive.

Tomorrow’s strip: Elly goes on autopilot and makes it to her shop. If this story arch continues, we might get to see the first appearance of Beatrice Alfarero since she was hired to work at Lilliputs. I can hardly wait.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Lonely Day in April’s Real Blog

It was just aprilp_katje and me in April’s Real Blog today. I no likey (the situation, not aprilp_katje). aprilp_katje’s characters do not have that much relationship to mine. Jeremy Jones and April talk, but are not mentioned as having any classes together or doing anything together in the strip. They usually have peripheral conversations or adventures having to do with other characters. Constable Paul Wright has nothing to do with her. That oddly enough left Howard and aprilp_katje’s Marjee Mahaha to carry the day, which she did quite admirably with some terrifically funny posts dealing with her relationship to Dr. Everett Callahan. It was weird to see more posts from Marjee Mahaha than from April on April's Real Blog. Hopefully it will pick up tomorrow.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Goodbye Everett, Hello Muscles

I knew Dr. Everett Callahan would be a short term relationship for Howard, but I was never sure how I would have the relationship end. I had been playing him as a “not out of the closet” gay. I expect that even in Canada, there are still some of those around. Well today, qnjones posting as Becky and aprilp_katje posting as Marjee Mahaha confronted the good gay doctor about his closet issues, with Marjee Mahaha leaving the story to say that he was going off to talk to Howard.

In my own personal life, I sang 2 church services and had to take a hand saw to my boy’s cub scout Pinewood Racer and did the laundry and did not get back to April’s Real Blog until late. So, this plot was waiting for me. It could not have been more perfect to write the end to the Howard / Everett story. The few “still in the closet” gays I have known in my life, would never, ever, have come out of the closet at the recommendation of a 14-year-old girl they barely knew, or for that matter, for pretty much anyone, depending on the situation. I knew that with that kind of ultimatum, the only outcome would be a cessation of the relationship with Howard. I also tossed out a possible marriage proposal from Everett to Marjee, just so aprilp_katje can have some fun with that. “Hey chick. I totally want to like do the wedding thing with you.”

A second story was waiting for me. qnjones took yesterday’s Blog entry as a chastisement for her Liz ignoring Paul and Shiimsa and launched into a very funny story of Liz being embarrassed for having to show her boss’ wife, the nurse, his testicular injury due to Shiimsa mistaking them for cat toys. I don’t know if this is some comment about Paul’s anatomy or not. In any case, qnjones so nicely left me a “Paul will tell you what happened next.” Well, I cracked open the Ojibway/English dictionary and researched chastity and women’s roles in Ojibway culture and had a good, old, time revisiting my buddies in Mtigwaki.

The third story waiting for me was an angry protest from adrianne_p posting as Alexandra Love, as she finally got mad at the insensitivity of my Jeremy Jones character in telling her details of his love antics with his new friend with benefits, Becky. Jeremy plays dumb, which is good, since he is dumb. However, somebody (aprilp_katje, adrianne_p?) tossed in a Cameron (future love interest of Alexandra Love) post mentioning hockey, math, roller skates and guilty looks as part of a funny joke told by Alexandra. The intent of course was be funny that the people around Alexandra were pretending to laugh at a funny joke Alexandra had supposedly told, but did not coordinate what the joke was when Cameron asked. I thought, I can make up a joke about those things. Well, I tried, but it was awful.

Tomorrow’s strip: The strip writers have gotten into the habit of trying to show “a day in the life” story sequences, which is somewhat frightening, because it usually takes a month to be done with those. It looks like we are at the beginning of an Elly arch. Or maybe it’s a Pets arch, since they carried the strip on Sunday. My guess it is a “convince Elly to go on a cruise” story, mentioned in John’s January monthly letter.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Snarking Tomorrow’s Strip Today

When the_berserker posting as Duncan tossed off the line about April’s grandpa Jim trying to buy his dog Dixie some Havarti from Mr. Singh’s store and then Duncan recommending the cheese shop to him, it did not even occur to me that the_berserker was giving a lead-in to tomorrow’s strip of Dixie having an accident in the Patterson home. So, I had Howard (whose has a long history with Dixie and Havarti) go on a tangent, thinking that it was a storyline intentionally handed off by the_berserker to whomever wanted to take it. Well, I was quite surprised to see the Sunday colour strip. What am I going to use for snark tomorrow since I have pretty much done the mother lode today?

Constable Paul Wright. He is in the middle of one of his almost weekly visits to see Liz. I have done a number of internet searches on the working schedules of the Ontario Provincial Police and found nothing so far. My guess is that they are required to work weekends, and get time off during the week, but it may not be that way every week. So, I have been varying the days of the week where the good constable gets to visit Liz. The most recent humour has been derived almost entirely from the Shiimsa/Paul/Liz relationship that schmoosie used with the cat clothes and was continued by aprilp_katje posting for Liz, based on the bizarre monthly letters’ description of Liz’s relationship with her cat. qnjones, who has recently taken over the character, so far does not seem interested in that line of humour, and has focused on Liz’s indecision over men for Liz-based snark, and not on the visiting Paul or the meowing of Shiimsa. I am probably going to have to adjust my Paul writing in reaction to that. Otherwise, the characters’ relationship to each other in the April’s Real Blog posts will stop making sense. Of the 3 characters I have, Paul is the one most likely to get any strip time, and moreover what strip time he gets will almost assuredly have huge leaps in assumed character development, if the last strip sequence with him is any example. I have been fortunate so far that my development of Paul has closely matched the strips’ and letters’ development of Paul. My guess is that the next time we see Paul and Liz, they will be visiting Paul’s parents. I am uncertain as to how they will be portrayed. The last set of in-laws, the Sobinskis, has been cruelly treated. Paul’s parents could be portrayed as noble native mom & faithful Irish companion husband or whacky aunt Marge-like mother & drunken Irish father or (given the recent semi-sympathy given the aging and newly deranged Sobinskis) a dynamic duo of devious devilry to take the Sobinskis’ place as evil non-Pattersons. So, my Paul posts are planned to be in preparation for that meeting. The other possibility is that we won’t see Liz again with Paul until March break, since it takes about 3 months for Lynn to cycle between her distant characters. If that happens, the next meeting will be when April goes to Mtigwaki to visit Liz and also visit Paul. I would love for that to be interesting, but I fear it will another session like April had when meeting Warren. “Gosh Liz, your boyfriend is hot and romantic too. I wish I were old enough to hump him.” That is my outlook on the good constable.

Jeremy Jones. This guy is a quandary. I recently went through all the monthly letters of April where she described Jeremy Jones. April had an extremely poor opinion of him, usually accompanied by “Ew.” However, one thing struck me. In one monthly letter, Elly informs April that the reason Jeremy bothers her is that he likes her. Then I did a check through the monthly letters on Gerald and something that appeared more than a couple of times was April’s worry that Becky would steal Gerald. There was even a sequence where Gerald and Becky were described as hanging out together (much like the qnjones’ stories) because April was busy with working at the store. It was a little surprising to read all those back-to-back. It made it look like Lynn intends Gerald to run off with Becky and then April to rebound with Jeremy. That would be interesting, but it is hard to say what will happen based on the monthly letters, where they can introduce Chinese dental associates that never appear in the strip. On the other hand, there was that statement Gerald made about the special needs kids that painted him in a less than perfect light. Lynn really likes to run plots over long periods of time, like the Liz / Warren romance, where Warren disappeared for over 1 ½ years. She worked on the Becky / April breakup for more than a year also. I think, for the purpose of Jeremy Jones, he has to remain on good terms with April and not-so-good terms with Gerald, just in case.

Howard. This guy is gone from the strip and the monthly letters. He is a footnote in history of the strip never to be mentioned again. He is practically like one of the made-up April’s Real Blog characters now. The distinct advantage to the character is that he can go anywhere and snark on anything. This is valuable when it comes to John or Elly or Grandpa Jim or Mike snark. Jeremy Jones and Paul Wright cannot really go there. The disadvantage is that he is not truly involved in the strip, and sometimes it feels odd putting him in stories with real strip characters. On the other hand, I like his contrast with the gay characters presented in the strip who come off as “If you weren’t told I was gay, nobody would know” characters. Instead, Howard is flamboyantly gay, like many of the guys with whom I used to do opera. Howard’s future is not being defined by Lynn Johnston (unless she suddenly decides to do a Howard trial storyline). I am not sure what to do with him.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Dark Comedy

dark comedy
1. A comedy having gloomy or disturbing elements, especially one in which a character suffers an irreparable loss.
2. A comedy characterized by morbid or grimly satiric humor.

April’s Real Blog was very dark today. Gerald attempting to commit suicide not once but 2 times and being committed to hospital for treatment. April running among traffic to try to kill herself. I spent the afternoon with my kids and came back to April’s Real Blog, read the posts and my opinion was reflected in Howard’s “Holy Crap!”

The funniest suicide stuff I remember was in the movie “Harold and Maude.” If you haven’t seen the movie, it is a classic. {Spoiler} In the first scene in which Harold does his first fake suicide, the humour is derived from the unflappable reaction of Harold’s family who has learned to ignore his antics. The suicide looks very realistic, and the audience reaction is in sympathy to the guest who does not know Harold is faking. Then when the fake is revealed, it is extremely funny, because you realize the unflappable reaction was the correct one.

Dark Comedy is very difficult to pull off. I think it is probably the toughest thing to do. The old saying is “Tragedy is easy. Comedy is hard.” That’s true, but I would say, “Dark Comedy is even harder.” The old television show, “Seinfeld” did a lot of dark comedy. A lot of it was very funny, but every once in awhile, they would cross the line between dark comedy and plain old dark. Those were resounding clunkers.

I remember seeing a Christopher Durang play and I cannot remember what the title is, where one of the jokes is that there is a woman who wants children desperately, but they keep on coming out dead. An actor playing the doctor comes out and tosses a wrapped up baby doll on the floor declaring the newly delivered baby is dead again. Then at one point, one of the babies tossed is not dead, and the other characters recognize it and try to convince the disbelieving doctor. As you can tell, this is very dark. In the production I saw (Dallas Theater Center), this scene fell flatter than a pancake with an audible gasp from the audience every time the doctor came out and tossed a baby. As I was watching I was thinking, “This could have been funny, if…” and then the whole list of things that would have helped.

Tomorrow’s strip: They have gone full circle. Yesterday was “Our parents are getting old.” Today was “We are parenting our parents.” Tomorrow is “We made our parents old.” I am thinking, “Is it really worth this to create strips you want to have on somebody’s refrigerator?”

omg, ger, u're a genius!

Truer words were not spoken today as those from aprilp_katje posting as April. qnjones posting as Gerald introduced the theme for the story that carried throughout the day. Gerald proposes to April, who accepts and then recants. My character of Howard, was completely appalled. My character of Jeremy was, in a moment that was unusual for him, perhaps even “out of character” for him, sympathetic to Gerald’s plight, having recently been through the same situation. I had Howard introduce the Bilabial Vibration kiss to April, so that this situation would also match. The difference being that in Jeremy’s case, the kiss was administered by his ex-girlfriend Becky, whereas in April’s case it was administered by the current girlfriend April. This seemed only appropriate considering that Jeremy is a sad sack that his story did not end with a reconciliation.

In meantime, in a role familiar to me and adrianne_p, we snarked the current strip, with adrianne_p giving me the clue that Jeremy would consider Alexandra Love’s breakup with him “out of character”, a line from today’s strip. All in all, it was a good day for snarking, and I had the privilege of following the lead of other people for most of the day.

As for me on the Foobiverse Journal, I produced a lovely post with links to different strips, discussing the change in the bed for Mike and Dee and also pointed out that they changed which side they slept on. The commentators to that post, never discussed the bed, but instead latched onto the changing side part. I discovered that quite a few couples pick the side they sleep on at random. This is not the way it is in my house. My wife has her favourite side, and it will never ever change. No matter where we sleep, ever. Of course, back in the early days of our relationship, when we first starting sleeping together it was not that way. I have a king-sized bed, which is essentially like 2 twin beds put together. My wife had come from sleeping on a queen-sized bed in her single days, and she was used to occupying the entire bed. So, when we first started sleeping together, her body would, in its unconscious state, try to encompass the entire bed, which it could not do. What ended up happening was that she would slowly move across the bed and push me off the other side. So, I would get up, go to the other side of the bed and sleep where she used to be sleeping. During the course of an evening, I would then occupy both sides of the bed, as would she. Eventually she got accustomed to a king-sized bed and stopped moving. She’s been stuck in the same spot ever since.

Tomorrow’s strip: Dee begins her transformation into the hypercritical Mira, by starting on her own parents. Mike makes perhaps the most arrogant statement of his entire comic strip life.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

What to do? What to do?

Yesterday evening, qnjones left me with a cliff hanger as to something being said to Dr. McCauley on the phone that Becky and Howard overheard. qnjones expected Howard to write it up, but unfortunately Blogger was doing funky things with time and space and so I completely missed it was a cliff hanger for Howard to do. Rereading it today, I realized it was for me to fill in and started pondering the mystic phrase: "you're kidding? how did they find out?" he gasped in2 the phone.

I kept trying to think, “What would Lynn Johnston (as portrayed by April’s Real Blog not want to be found out.” I went through all the characters and what I anticipated Lynn wanted to happen to them, and I got nothing. So I resorted to the old “GPS devices implanted in dental work by Dr. John Patterson” plotline. I don’t like to go too far back into ARB history, because anyone reading it for the first time would be very confused. However, to alleviate this, I tied it to a current plotline of the lawsuit being filed against otoscopes and maybe even created a reasonable (not really) answer as to why Dr. Patterson would use an otoscope instead of an earbud to hear music and also qnjones’ post as Gerald describing Elly and John Patterson’s plans for the future, i.e. Sending April to Barbados.

greytail088 popped in as Vicki Simone and suggested people might come to see a curling competition with Blessed Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School n Scarborough with her. This is the second time she has suggested that and no one took her up on it last time. I tried to do a curling snark, but failed miserably. Blessed Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School is a real school and from their website, it appeared that quite a few of the people that attend the school have Indian (the country) backgrounds. I thought briefly about snarking that, but I couldn’t think of anything funny that would not be interpreted as racism. They do have sports there at Blessed Mother Teresa, but curling is not one of them. I am not sure of greytail088’s reasons for picking that school. greytail088 dropped a line about her character Vicki Simone’s boyfriend Gordie being put on Percocet by the infamous Dr. Schlanger and Gordie text messaging her. I thought this was a lead-in for someone to do something, so I decided that Gordie would be loopy from too much Percocet and would post funny things to Vicki. Thanks go to greytail088 and aprilp_katje that went along with me on Percocet-inducing snark.

Tomorrow’s strip. Mira is not only evil, but she is going insaaaane. How many more indignities can the Sobinskis suffer?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

We Missed You aprilp_katje

You can tell the difference when aprilp_katje is gone on a play date. One of the nice things about her is that she always reads everybody else’s material and tries to interact with it, no matter how bizarre it may seem. The net effect is that when you post something, you know that in a short time there will be a reaction. I remember my very first Howard post that way. I was saying, “Well, let’s see if this works.” And then it was, “Oh my God. Somebody read it and reacted to it, instead of just ignoring it as some strange person trying to interrupt their fun.” This morning I dropped off the posts of my 3 characters and read a few posts of adrianne_p and then the whole thing sort of died. No aprilp_katje. It was sad.

Fortunately she came back. I tried a “Jeremy gets advice from April” sequence, but he didn’t actually get any advice. So, he is going to pretend he did, when he really didn’t.

The main event of the evening was qnjones’ plans for Howard to disguise himself as Becky’s father Thorvald for a dinner with Becky’s mother and Dr. Ted McCauley. Going into it was interesting, because I had no earthly idea how it was going to end. qnjones’ had not shared that particular detail with me and knowing qnjones, she may not have decided how it was going to end until it actually ended. In any case, those live action posting sequences are what I would call action-packed typing. My little fingers type as fast as they can, as to not hold up qnjones, and then when I do finally post it, I have to push the “Preview” button to make sure that what I am laying down is not different from what qnjones has most recently posted. Well, let me tell you, qnjones is freakishly fast. I did literally go through a point where I had to revise my post 3 times from pressing that “preview” button and finding yet another qnjones post had suddenly arrived. I think my problem is that I have a tendency to mull over my posts. “Is that the way I want to word that? Could I word it differently to be funnier or to make more sense?” Then when I type very quickly, I have a tendency to drop words and the funny part is, when I read over what I have typed, I mentally fill in the dropped words. I have to read it carefully to overcome this mental problem and find the words I dropped. All these things slow me down. In addition to everything else, I like to put in little researched schtick. qnjones had suggested that Howard mangle the classics, since that was Thorvald’s field of expertise. So, for me, I found a website with quotations from the classic writers and I would try to find one appropriate for the situation and then mangle it in a humourous fashion. Again, qnjones adopted my method and then started buzzing by me with mangled classical quotes. I started feeling very old and slow. She is marvelous.

Tomorrow’s strip: I may now trumpet the fact that my postings for Howard’s aunt Winnie Kelpfroth this week called it. The fight between Mira and Melville involved a lot of yelling and nothing happened. However, I never would have guessed that Mira outranks Melville in the villain world. It was another extremely poor treatment of the Sobinskis, at oddly enough the time when they least deserve it, in my opinion.

Monday, January 16, 2006

The Breakup is a Fait Accompli

I felt it coming during the course of the day. As I was doing a Jeremy post, once again denying what had been told to him about his relationship with Alexandra Love being over, the feeling occurred. It was a feeling of retconitis – the disease that afflicts you when you retcon too much. I knew then I had to find a way for Jeremy to be able to accept that Alexandra Love had, in fact, broken up with him. The ever lovely adrianne_p (I know she’s lovely. I have seen the picture.) posting as Alexandra gave me a story about Alexandra being taunted with the old Germy Wormy Jeremy Jones thing. It occurred to me that Alexandra’s sister would hear about it and when Alexandra returned home from school crying, her parents would inquire from the sister, who would then spill the beans. Next had to do with the convincing of Jeremy. I thought it would be amusing for each of the Love family to fail to convince him and then have Jeremy’s pull the coup de grace of finally convincing him. The key element was Jeremy’s prior breakup with qnjones’ Becky and Jeremy’s breakup with Tangi Origami, a character made up by aprilp_katje known for her eating disorder. I had Tangi break up with Jeremy by biting him (I know people with eating disorders don’t bite people to break up with them. At least not all of them.) and giving him a scar to match my most favourite line from the Becky breakup --- exploding clowns. So, the joke is poor Jeremy thinks the woman has to physically scar him in order to break up with him.

The other element of today’s posts was Howard K. He worked his uncle Melville and aunt Winnie magic by suggesting that the argument with the Melville and Mira in today’s strip would simply conclude with more people, more yelling and nothing accomplished. Considering the situation with Melville has not changed one iota since it started, this is a fairly safe assumption. Tomorrow’s strip seems to be proving me out, as it adds Wilf and Mike to the mix and has yet more yelling and no resolution.

The second part was the introduction of Chef Sophia, the fashion model whom Josef Weeder loved briefly before she put him in her place. Then Josef decided to choose his assistant Carleen for romance. I remember that whole Carleen sequence as being very suspicious to me. When she first appeared as his assistant, my first reaction was, “Weed has an assistant?” Then Mike and Dee start pushing Weed unrelentingly toward Carleen as a future romantic partner. Then I said, “No. Not assistant. Convenient reason for double dates.” Unfortunately for me, I had completely forgotten the post-Halloween April’s Real Blog episode that did include Sophia as a foil for Weed and Mike until aprilp_katje (continuity goddess extraordinaire) reminded me. In that story, Sophia and Carleen are working together. In retrospect, that seems like an unlikely pairing, considering Weed started dating Carleen only after Sophia told him she was not interested in him. I would have expected Carleen to have some resentment of Sophia, since Weed considered her to be second best. My sequence allowed me to answer a question I had been hinting about for awhile, that Howard was set up on blind dates during the holidays by his family and who that person was. I don’t know if anyone was following those hints at all. But the answer is Sophia.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Break-Up is Official. Will Jeremy Ever Figure It Out?

Today began what is essentially day 2 of my posting Jeremy reinterpretations of Alexandra Love trying to break up with him. I came back to April’s Real Blog from doing things with my family all day and found that if I interpreted literally what was being said to and by Jeremy from the other April’s Real Blog posters, then Jeremy was an emotional wreck from having been dumped. On the other hand, it made no sense whatsoever for Jeremy to end up on Dr. Forsythe’s doorstep after a breakup. Jeremy has made it no secret that he barely tolerates Gerald and has expressed negative sentiments for Gerald’s dad also. In addition, I just think clueless Jeremy is funny and I am not ready to be done with that angle on the humor yet. So, I had to come up with a good reason for Jeremy to go to Dr. Forsythe, and then to say what he was reported by qnjones posting as Gerald to have said. The other aspect was adrianne_p posting as Alexandra Love her version of the break-up with the tag line of Jeremy asking her to come to watch hockey with him that evening. The whole reinterpretation thing was a lot of fun to do, but I expect I will eventually tire of it.

The other post that caused me some difficulty was qnjones’ Gerald post that he had put his hand on Becky McGuire’s breast in front of Howard. The normal Howard reaction would be to punch Gerald’s lights out. However, on a careful reading of the post, it looked like Becky had handled the situation before Howard had a chance to do anything like that. In any case, putting Howard with Becky allowed me to introduce what I hope will be a new running joke, the bilabial vibration kiss. The kiss is so devastating that it causes the receiver of the kiss to lose motor control.

Tomorrow’s strip. The Kelpfroth / Sobinski smackdown begins with Wilf not really caring if Mira gets into a fight with someone. The fight has just started so it will be difficult for Howard to get the Kelpfroth point of view without knowing how it ends. Maybe I will do one of the “Dee posts a little bit at a time” things. Naw. That’s passive Dee, not the Kelpfroths. I will have to think on it.

ETA: Please ignore the above post and my overly critical opinions. I was an idiot when I was writing it.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Too Many People to Snark Properly

When qnjones suggested she was having a party and inviting all of Becky’s comic strip clients, and some new folks, and her relatives, and her friends, I was immediately panicked. I thought, “That’s a lot of people to snark. It’s hard enough to research that when it is just one comic strip character. 2 of my characters are there, so I decided that Jeremy Jones would cover the regular strip characters and Howard K. would move about the cabin snarking the visiting comic strip characters. I think that worked out all right. Of course, being a boy, my favourite part was having the husbands talk about their wives’ breast sizes. In any case, it went as expected, with sort of hit-and-miss snark briefly touching, but not in depth, on the characters.

I wrestled with the daily strip today. I just plain got a writer’s block on how to handle it as snark. There was really nothing I could do from the Kelpfroth standpoint, because nothing really happens, except Mira goes downstairs and knocks on their door. Monday, there should be plenty. But today, bupkiss. I guess I can miss one day. Not really. I am still thinking. There’s got to be some way to snark it.

Tomorrow’s strip: John exercises. John doesn’t tie his shoes very well. John shoves his ear buds too far into his ears and pays the price. The price is that Elly jumps in to take of him. I don’t know if he deserves to pay that much of a price.

Sad Sack

I spent most of the day in anticipation of the big break up. I was just milking the “Jeremy is a sad sack” stuff, by ladling heaps of Jeremy love on Alexandra Love. Hopefully this will make it more tragic when adrianne_p posting as Alexandra Love finally gets around to officially breaking it off with him. I am not exactly sure how Jeremy will react when it happens. Sometimes when I write things down, I just start writing and I am amazed at what seems to come to my mind as I type. The process of putting down words can be sufficient to get the creative juices flowing. I can say unequivocally that Jeremy will be upset, but I am not sure the direction it will take. I may just start typing and see what happens.

qnjones has already started Becky down the path to seducing Jeremy, and I am enjoying playing Jeremy as oblivious to her advances as he is oblivious to Alexandra’s retreat. He is such a sad sack.

Constable Paul Wright. I strained my brain for something for him to say to snark on today’s strip, and nothing came to me. So he took a rest for today.

Howard. I used his relationship with Aunt Winnie and Uncle Melville to trace out the Patterson injustices to them, coupled with their reasons for banging on their ceiling, even though they recently got a plaster repair bill for doing just that. Me personally, I would have stopped banging after the plaster repair bill, but they seem to be still going at it. It was fun to rehash it again, so we could be prepared for the storyline apparently coming up next week.

Tomorrow’s strip. This may be tough to snark with it basically being Mira walking down stairs and knocking on a door. Monday, I am very likely going to have to do some retcon snark to align what happens in the massive battle between Mira and the Kelpfroths and what I wrote this week. Hopefully it will not be too egregious.

Friday, January 13, 2006


Today’s strip was one of those WTF moments with Mike banging his head on the wall. You get to a point where you are reading For Better or For Worse and you say, “Am I actually reading this? Did Lynn Johnston actually do this to her characters and her comic strip?” We have had a few of them lately:

1. April turning into a 7-year-old being rocked on her mother’s lap.
2. Mike confessing all the bizarre things he wanted to do to torture the Kelpfroths after he bought their building.
3. A month of stories having to do with April having zits.
4. A week of stories having to do with vacuuming.
5. (And my favourite that got me into the ARB in the first place) Howard being defeated by an ear-tweaking from Anthony. Whenever I go back to look at that strip, I am still dumbfounded.

It’s good for doing snark, but they were such jaw-dropping moments, it’s hard to believe they came from someone who actually cares about the characters in this strip. I wanted to say, “Lynn. Are you aware that the people who actually beat their heads against walls have something seriously wrong with them, and you just did that to one of your major characters?” I don’t know what she was thinking.

My other astonishing moment today came from adrianne_p, who is planning to have her character of Alexandra Love break off the romance with Jeremy. It’s been an interesting time posting with adrianne_p on Alexandra and Jeremy as girlfriend/boyfriend. I have had to learn about the TV show Lost which I had never seen. I know much more about the Milton Icehawks and the Junior A hockey league, which are 2 things I never knew existed. I learned about RPI hockey cheers and I am much more familiar now with the scheduling of NHL games than I ever was before. I am now also familiar with high school hockey scheduling in Toronto. I am also much more familiar with the coffees offered by Starbucks, a place, believe or not, I have never been (unless you count passing by the ones in the airports and supermarkets.) I must confess, I am not a coffee drinker. I suspect adrianne_p sensed a vibe about this, and that’s reason why she is breaking off the romance.

I should mention something that I have not mentioned before. There was a post, weeks ago, where Alexandra Love took Jeremy to task for posting about them kissing. Ever since then, Jeremy has been using euphemisms for kissing in his posts, in deference to that Alexandra request. I must admit, it has been fun finding different ways to say it. If anyone noticed this characteristic of Jeremy, that is the reason why.

Tomorrow’s strip: Mira provides a positive example for fighting back against the Kelpfroths. Fighting back gives Deanna a headache. She is such a Patterson. Of course, her headache could be due to a struggle inside her mind between her common sense self and her Patterson self. Which one will win? My guess is Patterson.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Reversing, Reversing

Today on April’s Real Blog, my characters mainly reversed things. Jeremy took adrianne_p’s wonderful lead-in on Alexandra Love giving Jeremy mixed signals about what she wanted to go with a completely confused Jeremy who reversed everything that aprilp_katje posting as April and adrianne_p posting as Alexandra Love did or said about the situation.

With Howard, qnjones took aprilp_katje’s lead-in for an eating disorder clinic, gave it a name, and put Howard, April and Becky there to rescue Gerald. Normally with eating disorder clinics you expect the regimen for eating to be very strict with only specific healthly foods allowed. I decided to reverse that with Howard to make it a place where the patients (oops clients) are given very bad things to eat. qnjones followed that up with a kickass dropdead funny post. I am convinced now that in every one of my lead-in posts for qnjones’ Becky, I should put a frying pan in Becky’s hands.

With the good constable, instead of snarking on the characters presented in the strip, I reversed the emphasis to be on characters not in the strip and snarked on Elly’s cooking ability and not Deanna’s. Elly, in the strip, is generally presented as the main cook for family get-togethers. I found it very amusing that in the monthly letters, the Elly food that Liz mentions as loving the most not once, but two times, is her meatloaf. Not exactly high praise, but it worked well with the Paul post.

Tomorrow’s strip. Mira is always wrong, no matter what she opposes, as far as Deanna is concerned. Wilfred’s choice of TV programs is actually pretty entertaining. Mike bangs his head against the wall when he is upset. That last one has to be some sign of mental illness, but I don’t know which one.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

I’m Thinking of Good Vibrations

The theme for the day was “sense the vibe” from the odd punchline of Mike Patterson in the final panel of today’s For Better or For Worse strip. I tried to incorporate it in most of the posts I did today.

Things notable: Jeremy, Alexandra, Vicki Simone and her boyfriend Gordie went to a seminar adrianne_p dreamt up based on the daily strip. Snarking the daily strip is proving to be a forte of adrianne_p. The choice of the characters meant that I had to go back and remind myself of Gordie’s history. I find that I remember pretty well the history of the characters who interplay with my characters, but not as much the ones that don’t. Gordie’s interplay with Jeremy had been minimal, and some of it was while I was off on vacation. I hope I did justice to the character and gave greytail088 the opportunity to add his / her own snark to the story as Vicki and ellcee to add snark from the Deanna Patterthon perthpective. Of course, I must also credit aprilp_katje for her suggestion of seminar teacher Oksana Baiul, which was a totally off-the-wall suggestion.

Howard also got visited by Brad Luggsworth in drag, trying to investigate the legitimacy of the shamp-Ohs. No love for that one at all. I guess the thought of Officer Luggsworth in drag is not as funny as I thought. Oh well, can’t win them all.

Howard took advantage of his relationship with Everett Callahan to snark the monthly letters of John rather viciously. It also included snarking Eugene Lee the mysteriously missing first attempt at an associate for Dr. John Patterson from the monthly letters of John. Everything referenced in that post came from the monthly letters except for the Dr. Everett Callahan dialogue traits, which are borrowed liberally from the strip and Dr. Patterson’s salacious remarks about teenage girls’ figures, which were taken from the strip’s Dr. P’s own bizarre and perverted comments about his daughter April’s figure. aprilp_katje followed my post up with 2 extremely funny posts coming from Drs. Eugene Lee and Elliot Everett.

Lastly, qnjones put Howard with Becky as she is invaded by junk food-seeking Gerald Forsythe. I wrote up a short ditty on how Howard and Becky get him back home, lured by a chocolate bar. It wasn’t very funny, but it is late and I am tired. I have done a lot of snarking today.

Tomorrow’s strip. Wilfred Sobinski suddenly develops a personality and we find, much to our surprise, that the rich and wealthy Wilfred has suddenly turned into Melville Kelpfroth. I guess Lynn decided that Wilf could not actually have a unique personality of his own. Unfortunately, Lynn chose 2 boring shows to watch to garner our sympathy with Mike. I say unfortunately, because it would have been a lot funnier, if Wilf had picked some legitimately good shows. Then we could see that Mike is so completely absorbed in his work, it doesn’t matter what Wilf watched. As it is, we are supposed to sympathize with Mike because of Wilf’s choice of television programs. Imagine Wilf saying, “New episodes of Lost and Arrested Development We’re in luck”. Or even, “Maple Leafs vs. Canadiens. We’re in luck.” Either of those choices would be funnier than the choices given.

Monday, January 09, 2006

I Just Got Bored

After reading today’s strips, I was trying to find a way to snark on Mike and Deanna using Jeremy, Howard or the good constable and nothing was coming to me. Then I started thinking about stuff they could do that was similar to what was in strip, and nothing was coming to me. (As it turned out, adrianne_p figured out a way to do that and did it very well with the hospital course on things you learn from your 14-month-old.) Then I started thinking about what the 3 characters would just do in general, and nothing was coming to me.

I was getting bored with my inability, so I decided to post as a comic strip wife giving advice to Deanna. The obvious first choice was the Lockhorns, whose strip is based on a husband and wife constantly fighting. Once I did the Lockhorns, I got excited and did a lot more. It was pretty fun. The only difficulty was finding last names of the characters. I never could find Cathy’s last name (I presume it is different from Guisewhite), but the others were readily available.

The last item was setting up a date with Howard and Marjee Mahaha so I could return the favour she did for Howard with their lunch date, of giving Marjee a sounding board for her problems, which she had mentioned prominently with her longtime boyfriend Maynard. aprilp_katje didn’t bite, so I had to do that one myself. Hopefully it met with aprilp_katje’s approval.

Tomorrow’s strip. Mike and Deanna Patterson have a passive fight. Who will be the first to fall? Who will be the one who is forced to move away from their passive stance? With tomorrow’s strip, it appears that Deanna is winning, as Mike makes a tactical blunder in attacking her dad, and not her mom (their common enemy) and Deanna counters with the terrific comeback, “I never said anything.” Truer words have not been said, Deanna. That could be the story of your life.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Girl Scout Cookies

I spent the day walking my daughter around selling Girl Scout Cookies. Then I learned my step-brother's step-mother died today from a brain tumor. I did not know the woman very well. I met her once or twice at my step-brother's graduations. However, my step-brother spent his high school years with her as his mom, so he was pretty torn up about it. A lot of time on the phone.

There was not much time for April's Real Blog. I finally got around to finishing off the Candace and Rudy story that qnjones so nicely led me to after things settled down. Hopefully it's OK, but I am too tired to evaluate it coherently.

Tomorrow's strip: As predicted we headed off to Deanna lays down the law with Mike, or is it another "Mira and Wilf are evil" storyline? Probably both, considering the way Deanna's monthly letter went.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Howard Finally Reveals His Dreaded Secret

Well it was not that dreaded actually. It was mainly revealing that he had more than one motivation for taking the job back in July to pretend attack Elizabeth. Whenever I read through those Howard strips, his coming on to Liz is so painfully obvious; it seems plain to me that he was just acting. The only part I couldn’t explain was the thought balloon he had in the middle of it, saying he liked girls who hit back. I had originally toyed with the idea of making Howard say that he is a method actor and gets into the part completely so much that he actually thinks like the character. I was never able to find a way or time to make that particular confession seem natural.

However, this whole business with the Liz having to beat off suitors left and right, gave me the opportunity and so I decided to take it. It also worked very well with the Dennis North / Liz relationship. Particularly the strip on Tuesday August 19, 2003, when he starting talking about he didn’t want to stop being friends with Liz and it was the story of his life how someone he’s become close to is leaving. Barforama. I have long wanted a way to work in snark on that strip, and it finally appeared today.

As for the good constable, who got the Liz confession she was not in love with him via April today, he has no choice but to wait for Liz to warm up to him and I tried to express that as well as I could in his posts today. In the meantime, I enjoyed researching bus lines between Toronto and Thunder Bay. I don’t think there is such a bus line as the Tundra Trails bus line, but Greyhound bus line makes the trip so I was able to find the basic travel times. It was interesting to note in researching this, the first time Liz went to Mtigwaki, she took a plane to Thunder Bay and then the bus from there to Spruce Narrows. I wonder why she doesn’t do that anymore.

The rest of the day was pretty normal for the characters. Jeremy loaded Rebeccah’s equipment and watched hockey with Alexandra and Howard moped about feeling sorry for himself.

Tomorrow’s strip seems to show Robin going through the terrible 2’s, although he is a little ways from being 2. I think he is 1 year 2 months, so he is kind of young for the “no” stuff. As I recollect, I think my kids were closer to 2 before they started complaining about nonexistent problems (i.e. things other than wet diapers, being hungry, having an upset tummy or wanting to be held.). My memory could be fuzzy on this point, so more recent parents who frequent this Blog can feel free to correct me.

Something About Lizzie

Today’s strip in For Better or For Worse showed Liz giving up her clothes to April, packing to leave, and making a sly observation about something her father is going to say. It actually portrayed Liz, I think, in a fairly good light, which is a nice change from the depressed and hungover Liz that has graced the pages of my newspaper for the last several days. I thought of the clothing gift as a symbolic indication that Liz has finally given up Milborough as her home for Mtigwaki. There certainly has been enough strips to indicate things heading in this direction. The “Elly at the pow-wow” sequence concluded with Elly pronouncing it to be Liz’s home, and Lynn has gone through the trouble of establishing a 1st nation boyfriend for Liz to tie this all together.

Then the Saturday strip came out and in 5 short panels destroyed that whole concept. In panel 2, Liz tells us that she plans to be working up north for a couple more years. So, Mtigwaki is then not actually Liz’s home, and it is just a temporary job. If the strip ends in 2 years, then it won’t make any difference. We won’t get to see the next job, and Liz will no doubt take Jesse Mukwa to the point where he is being taught by Gary Vance in the senior class, so there won’t be any hurt feelings when she decides to leave. I was mainly surprised that after all this hoo-hah about Mtigwaki being home, about Liz being accepted as a “star” in the town, that Lynn would back off on this basic idea she had worked so hard to establish for Liz.

The next 3 panels of the Saturday strip destroyed any conceit that I had that Liz viewed her relationship with Paul as being anything more than convenient, with her comment to April that she hasn’t fallen in love with anyone and then kissing on her dad. I got a definite queasy feeling about this, since I had done the “April is my best friend” post just today.

The For Better or For Worse website added Constable Paul Wright to its Who’s Who list, and as ellcee has pointed out over on the Foobiverse’s Journal, it makes a point of saying that Paul no longer lives a long distance away from Liz. It is kind of like the mysteriously moving Milborough. When you deal with nonexistent places, they can apparently move at random relative to other places. The question for the future of Liz is whether or not she will fall in love with the good constable, or if she will continue her stand-offish ways.

What it boils down to is this: Liz does not consider Mtigwaki to be her home. She considers the job to be temporary. Liz is not in love with Paul. If anything, she is in love with her dad. So down the road, it is entirely possible that Liz will not be in Mtigwaki and Liz may not be with Paul. This made me feel entirely justified in the posts I did yesterday, where I pointed out those very things, based on previously existing Liz information.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Defense / Attack on Liz

In the comics community the Foobiverse’s Journal, the posters there frequently take Liz to task for still coming home to mother in the summer and in particular, recently for her lack of enthusiasm with respect to Constable Paul Wright. As it turns out, the monthly letters provided the explanation for Liz’s choice of living with her mother in the summer, so I took great delight in having the good constable leap to the defence of his beloved and regurgitate the monthly letter explanation and speak at length about what would have to take place before he and Liz could be an old married couple. I can only hope that Lynn Johnston takes the same consideration in writing what happens to them.

On the second part of the criticism of Liz, over her seemingly complete lack of interest in her boyfriend Paul, I also took great delight in having Howard recount a conversation between Shawna-Marie Verano and Dawn Enjo, where they tear Liz a new one over the long list of insensitive ways she has treated her relationship with the good constable.

So in one day, I had one character lift her up as the other character beat her down.

In tomorow's strip, Liz rescues April from looking like a clown, while inadvertently attracting her father's attention about her appearance.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Knocking Out More Monthly Letter Snark

Thanks to aprilp_katje retconning her Liz retcon on being a crazy cat women, the good constable got to pursue his lessons in interpreting Shiimsa’s meowing sounds. The funny thing about this in the Pet monthly letter, is that when I analyzed the meowing sounds, there was an actual conversation taking place. Shiimsa’s first meowing sound is in fact a meow with a question mark. It was very funny. So, for my purposes, I emulated some of those meowing sounds and added a few of my own, plus a hairball.

Jeremy Jones did snark on John’s monthly letter desires for a new car, snark on Elly’s monthly letter describing her bookstore shelves. The last little bit was a humourous notion of having Butterscotch the rabbit participate in an electrified rodent gang that would invade Jeremy’s home. This idea was suggested as a lark to adrianne_P in April's Meta Blog, who gave enough of a positive reaction to the idea to inspire me to go with it.

Howard went to the strip poker party with Grandpa Jim, where he snarked on, not only the strip poker mentioned in the monthly letter, but Iris’ obsession with a recently electrified bunny in the Pets monthly and the numerous sexual double-entendres left blazing through grandpa Jim’s monthly letter.

I am not sure how much monthly letter snark is left. Tomorrow’s strip shows Liz finally getting a clue about something we have complained about in the Foobiverse Journal for months – “Why does Liz still go home, when she has a life outside of her mother’s house?”

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Ret-Con Killed the Snarking Star

Once I realized that the monthly letters are just snark, then I gained a new appreciation for them. Not only are they snark, but they give shout outs to the snark we have been doing. They are actually pretty good snark and in many respects follow the plotlines established in the strip better than we do in April’s Real Blog. I really don’t see the need to retcon them anymore. Of course, I can say that not being responsible for any major characters. Maybe I would feel differently if I were, but probably not. After all, I don’t have any problem with Jeremy Jones looking like a 40-year-old man, and have gotten quite a bit of humour out of that idea.

Jeremy Jones and Howard were unmentioned again. Constable Paul Wright was mentioned. I now know he is Metis (1/2 Irish) and not pure Ojibway, so I can abandon his “English is not my first language” way of speaking. Also, since he is ½ Irish, I can abandon any ideas that he would be anti-drinking. Just kidding.

I loved having the good constable play off of the Liz monthly letter writing, particularly the Pet letter, which was extremely funny (Liz tearing up over talking with Shiimsa and the different meowing sounds) and actually played extremely well with schmoosie’s Liz, who used to post regularly about Liz’s obsession with cat clothes for Shiimsa. I got retconned on the cat gift humour (the water fountain was a hysterical gift by the way, Stephanie), which kind of squished a whole plot I had in mind of having the good constable trying to find a suitable cat toy to satisfy cat-crazy Liz. Oh well. Can’t have everything, I guess.

Then the coup de grace of snark was delivered in the Deanna letter with her comment that Mike might morph into a mushroom. When I read this I thought, “Stephanie has just hand-delivered, wrapped, and given me snark on a silver platter. What would mushroom Mike be like? The obvious choice was anti-Mike, because honestly I do not know if the thought processes of an actual mushroom would be that different from Mike. Plus the Deanna monthly letter actually went into great detail about Mike’s failings, so I thought anti-Mike would play very well with that idea. The other aspect from the letters that cried out to be addressed was the myriad of slams against Mira and Wilf Sobinski in the letters. I thought this was fairly safe ground, since there is a whole background of 3 years of strips and monthly letters pointing out that the Pattersons, and in particular Deanna, do not like Mira and Wilf. This would work well with the Deanna monthly letter where she talks up her sister as a good example of what to do vs. her parents’ bad example, when Andrea Sobinski is a virtual unknown in the strip and in the monthly letters. The other aspect that worked very well with it, was that in the Mike monthly letter, he continually referred to himself as making a change or being changed. It played so well with the mushroom transformation, it was a near perfect compliment.

So, I fed hints all day, hoping to entice ellcee, who has recently become active posting as Deanna to do a story with me. As I launched into it, it was my hope that ellcee would like the idea of snarking mushroom Mike as the anti-Mike and maybe get into a little Deanna character development when it came to her reasons for praising Andrea. This proved not to be the case. ellcee started doing retcon posts that said that not only did none of the monthly letters originally contain anti-Sobinski material (Elly edited it all in), but Howard had not even come to the Patterson apartment looking for mushroom Mike and was imagining the whole thing. Normally, I try to go along with what my fellow posters post, but that was a little too far a field for me. There is no way Howard, who has been to and stayed overnight at the Kelpfroth apartment many times, would make that kind of error. Not only that, but if I went along with it, I would miss the opportunity to do all the monthly letter snark I had set up to do. So, instead of getting a posting sequence with ellcee on the personality aspects of mushroom Mike, I had to treat the ellcee posts as Deanna being too embarrassed to post what was really happening. Oh well. Better luck next time.

Tomorrow’s strip has Liz confronting April over wearing her clothes, which is actually a fairly nice lead-in from the Eva strips. April wears an outfit that reminds me of my all-time favourite line from the long-cancelled TV show, Ned and Stacey. Ned sees Stacey in an outfit and says, “That outfit tells men: Take me. Take me. Take me to the circus.” Or, nothing says that your mother only lets you shop for uniforms, like April’s outfit tomorrow. Hopefully no one will retcon it and say April never wore that outfit.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Thesaurus Day

Lynn Johnston could not have delivered a much better snarking opportunity from today’s For Better or For Worse strip than the April list of synonyms for being drunk. Admittedly, this is a repeat joke from a much earlier For Better or For Worse strip, but I was not snarking back then. A long time ago, I used to rely heavily on Roget’s Thesaurus for synonyms, but with the advent of on-line reference books, I must admit that it is rare when I crack open a dictionary anymore. Particularly today, when virtually every April’s Real Blog character took to using lists of synonyms for conversation. My characters were doing a lot of cutting and pasting from on-line thesauruses.

The exceptions to these were when Howard used synonymous phrases for female orgasm in his post. The thesaurus was not as good for listing sexual euphemisms, so I had to scour sex slang websites for the terms. Even then, the vast majority of synonymous phrases for orgasm were definitely male, which I guess tells you something linguistically about the relative importance of the other. I grew up in an age where the prevailing thought was that a man was not successful with a woman if she did not get off at least once and preferable more than once. I do not know if that is the underlying motivation with the modern male generation, but I could tell that the bulk of female orgasm lingo (at least the ones that had origin dates associated with it on the website) started during the 1980s. There was virtually nothing dated prior to that point, which I suppose means that there may be a whole language of female sex slang that was lost or women just didn’t talk about those things (which I doubt).

The second exception was Constable Paul Wright’s series of synonyms for drinking using the Ojibway language. My free Ojibway-English translator did a fine job of finding more than one term for drinking too much or being drunk, which unfortunately backs up the concept that drunkenness is a problem among the Ojibway. I tried to do a general internet search for Ojibway drinking slang and found numerous articles talking about the problems with alcoholism among 1st Nations folks. If I can believe the statistics quoted in those articles, the leading cause of death among Ojibway people is alcoholism or alcoholism-related. If the good constable is a real straight arrow and anxious to turn around this particular aspect of his kinsfolk, then he may actually take a negative view to Liz’s hangover. But, the character development of him in the strip is so shallow at this point, i.e. we don’t know how seriously he takes his job or his people; I opted to play him as being forgiving of Liz’s intoxication. He is in love with her after all.

Tomorrow’s strip appears to a continuation of Liz’s hangover. It was kind of funny for one day, but after the vacuum and the zits sequences, I fear we may actually have an entire week of hangover jokes. Anyway, this strip was of interest because it appears that we finally have an explanation of why Dr. John Patterson has no close friends. Apparently, his former close friends enjoyed partying heavily over the holidays and Dr. John stopped enjoying that as much. I actually have some sympathy for this position. Shortly after our first child was able to walk, we went to a Memorial Day party at our neighbour’s house (who did not have kids, and her house was not child-proofed at all, i.e. lots of glass breakables in easy-to-reach locations). We spent most of the time at the party, guarding the neighbour’s house from our child and the other neighbours’ children, while the neighbours who had the kids got drunker and drunker and drunker. After a time, it appeared that there was no other purpose to the party than to get drunk, and as much as I do not like being a martyr, keeping track of their children hell-bent on destruction while they got more sloshed did not make for a very fun party for us. Afterwards, I recollected that there was a time when I went to parties where the purpose of the party was mainly to drink, but it was like I had outgrown that phase of my life after I had a kid. Unlike, Dr. John, however, I have since established friends, that also have kids, and we occasionally go to parties with them, and have a pretty good time without getting sloshed. The question in my mind is why hasn’t the good doctor done this? Why isn’t he going out with Elly to a party where the Poiriers or the Nichols are present? Surely April is old enough to stay at home by herself now. Of course, the answer is that if John and Elly did those things, then they would not be able to take the judgmental, "no partying is good" moral high ground with Liz when she is hung over. I am losing sympathy for John now.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

A Lazy Day

Today’s For Better or For Worse strip provided some good snarking opportunities. But first I had to resolve a few issues with the Candace and Rudy relationship and Howard. qnjones went back to the strips involving Candace and Rudy from February, 2003 and the Auntie Roo shop robbing sequence. At the end of that sequence, Rudy tells Liz that he has decided to stop shopping for characteristics of his perfect mate, and he has chosen Candace. That was the last part of the character development for them as a couple in the strip, except that the Liz monthly letters say they did their year-long backpacking trip through Europe and then settled in Toronto and they showed up in a summer strip this year (the one where Liz goes to a party at a cabin). Given this level of involvement, I decided to make Candace the one who is not settled on marriage between the 2 of them and the one to be interested in Howard as a part of their relationship. This would make the most sense to me.

The rest of today’s postings was all my characters taking turns taking shots at towel-folding and then a lovely lead-in to snarking the Kenny Roger’s The Gambler lines used by John Patterson in today’s strip from Adrianne_p. It was a nice lazy day.

My kids are back in school tomorrow, assuming the Mrs. passes the verdict that my daughter is well enough to go back. I think the Foobiverse kids must have another week off. Tomorrow’s strip shows Liz with her first hangover of 2006, but second in the last year. I wonder if she is developing a drinking problem.

Happy 2006 and a Simulposting New Years

I actually had a pretty good New Years. The kids stayed up and were pretty cute with the countdown to midnight, and we blew noisemakers and tossed balloons in the air for as long as we could stand it. I had to browbeat my wife into getting the traditional New Year Eve kiss. She hates kissing, but I had the holiday to leverage off of to get one. 15 minutes of nagging, but I got my smooch at 12:15 am and the kids went "Ewww!!" Hotcha!

Prior to midnight, my boy was doing things like sticking his hand in his pants pocket and saying, "This is the last time I will put my hand in my pants pocket for 2005." Then of course he did the same thing for after 2006, "This is the first time I will put my hand in my pants pocket for 2006." He did this for a number of activities, which drove his mother to distraction, but I thought it was fairly sophisticated humour for a 10-year-old. Yes, I am warping my son. Beware!

After they got into bed, I decided to hit the old ARB and finish off any storylines left hanging from the previous year. I did a Jeremy Jones one and then, having found the Howard story had been untouched, wrote up an ending. I was in the process of thinking about writing a year in review for Howard for this Blog, when I noticed that qnjones said we had simultaneously posted. The 2 stories initially appeared to be pretty impossible to reconcile.

However, they did have some simularities, though, so I posted Howard's version as a "cleaned up" version of Becky story. The way this would work then is:

1. Howard is at his apartment making food for Candace Halloran and Rudy Dodd. Becky's aunt Arlene is drinking all of Howard's alcohol. This is where we start.
2. Becky's version has Candace inviting over her aunt, who is instantly there. It has to be instantly in a humorous fashion, since Candace's aunt lived in university town where Candace, Rudy, and Liz went to university, so she is not actually anywhere close to Milborough. Howard's version leaves this out. There was no real reason to deal with this, because Candace's aunt has no real effect on the outcome of the story. She seems to be there just for reaction.
3. Becky's version has aunt Arlene clubbing Rudy with a wine bottle and then attempting an overdose with laxatives. Howard's version is somewhat close here, insomuch as Arlene gets sick and vomits and has to leave.
4. Becky's version has Rudy in hospital and police involvement. Howard's version does not have this, but does have Rudy and Candace being separated from Becky and Howard, so the ultimate outcome is the same.

So, the outcome of the story is essentially the same between the 2 versions:
1. Rudy and Candace leave, and are not with Howard and Becky.
2. Becky's aunt Arlene gets sick.

Just going from the outcome, the 2 stories could be reconciled. Howard admits to being a big, fat liar. Thank goodness, it wasn't a simultaneous post on a Jeremy story, whom I always try to portray as being scrupulously honest. The reconciliation would never have worked. Ah, the writing challenges the ARB poses.

Tomorrow, John gets a hug for taking folding instructions from a kinder, gentler Elly. Kinder and gentler because I remember she was not so gracious when trying to instruct him on loading a dishwasher not too long ago. I do the laundry in my house and I was actually getting a little jealous of John getting his hug. Maybe some more browbeating is in order for my next load of towels.