Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Race Relations Part II

Today, the mighty Liz unloaded her opinion about racial prejudice, which is mainly that it shouldn’t exist. I noted with great pleasure, that this topic really stirred the pot at the various communities who comment on For Better or For Worse. The universal opinion seemed to be that they wished the young Lynn Johnston at the top of her form was handling this subject, instead of the old short timer Lynn Johnston currently at the helm. I cannot help but compare Lynn to Charles Schultz, whose departure from Peanuts due to health problems was well after he should have departed. The Complete Peanuts is being collected in year-by-year collections (which are marvelous, by the way), and it is interesting to see how edgy those early strips were even in the early 1960s, compared to how it ended.

I had great fun with a running joke for the character of Howard, where he from time-to-time and against his will channels one of the For Better or For Worse characters. In this case, he was mocking the ridiculous Liz speech on “race” by replacing “race” with some other word that rhymed with it, and then making up some analogy based on an alternate meaning of the word. qnjones posting as becky and aprilp_katje posting as April joined in on the fun and it was a pretty nice day for snarking. I also have to thank Lynn Johnston for creating a strip so ridiculously easy to snark today.

Tomorrow’s strip: Susan is coming to teach and her first name is an “S” name, like Sharon Edwards-Taylor. Coincidence? I think not.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Race Relations Part 1

In today's strip, Lynn Johnston, after apparently establishing that Paul and Liz belong together, begins to deal with the sticky issue of race. So in part 1, she has Gary Crane play the part of devil's advocate, by initially playing with race names as a source of ...well, I can't exactly call it humour. To address this, I had my characters mix words together all day.

qnjones popped back in towards the end of the day, after taking a week off and immediately had her Becky jump into an attack on Jeremy and a break-up with him over something he said. The last time this happened, Jeremy whined and complained he was being misunderstood to no good effect. I figure Jeremy has grown up enough since the last time, to not fall into this situation again. Instead, he took a more defensive and caustic stance. In other words, he is thinking, "Not this again." The claim was that Jeremy had said he would follow after his ex-girlfriend to the States, if she asked him to, which he did except he was kidding and was trying to tease Liz. Oddly enough, aprilp_katje posting as April came to Jeremy's defence. I find the whole idea of April defending Jeremy against Becky very amusing.

A while back I posted Eva talking to Jeremy about his ex-girlfriend's motivations for breaking up with him, and since that time, he has not mentioned her by name. My overall goal is to get Jeremy to a point where someone new to reading April's Real Blog will recognize my characters and they will not have a backstory too involved to understand, or in other words, not deviating too far from the material in the For Better or For Worse strip or letters. I try to do the same thing with Constable Paul Wright when he talks about Mtigwaki. Howard is more of a problem, since he has become essentially a made up character. The strip Howard is so radically different from ARB Howard, it is impossible to reconcile the two.

Tomorrow's strip: Liz spouts off about races, and has never appeared stupider.

Sunday, February 26, 2006


I did church today, practiced a song harmony I wrote out for a piece the Mrs. and I are doing for Ash Wednesday. We had a free lunch, compliments of my work and then we saw the movie Eight Below, which has some pretty fair dog acting in it. There is a large section of the movie that is devoted to just the dogs on their own, and it is the best part of the picture.

After the movie, it was doing the Girl Scout cookie delivery rounds with my girl and finally delivering those last few boxes to people in our neighbourhood who never seem to be home, except on the day when they placed the order. After that, I was preparing to write some stuff into April's Real Blog, when my boy laid on the guilt trip, "You are on the computer and not having any quality family time." That sounds strange coming out of a 10-year-old's mouth, but my boy has been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome and that's how he talks. The rest of the day was with my boy, until he went to bed.

By then, it was too late to get any kind of posting back and forth with aprilp_katje, who normally hits the hay sometime around 10 pm Eastern. So, I decided the bunny would go through a 12-step program. I looked up the 12 steps. This is thankfully, an area in which I have never had to deal. I was surprised at how religious the steps were. I decided to do an adaptation for them for electrified bunnies. It was not very funny, but after the Thorvald / Thora wedding, I really had snarked electrified rodents as much as I cared to. I had spent 2 weeks building up to the idea that their wedding could be overrun by electrified bunnies. It was difficult to do anything more with the subject, which is a lot funnier if the bunnies do not suffer from the electricity, but instead carry the charge to zap others. I guess I find mild electrical shocks to humans funnier than to bunnies. Also, bunnies are so passive, I found the idea of an aggressive zapping bunny funny also. I wish Lynn Johnston felt the same way I do.

The humour in the strip was in the vein of those funniest home videos things, where it is considered amusing to watch someone or something get hurt. In the Foobiverse's Journal, I was surprised by the number of people who said their rabbits did the same thing. When I was growing up, we had 2 rabbits and they never, ever chewed on electrical cords. Given the most recent Pets Letter monthlies in the For Better or For Worse website, I thought the story was finished, but you should never underestimate the lead time on the Sunday colour strips I guess.

Tomorrow's strip: Gary Crane shows he has been teaching with Liz way too long. Hey Gary! You need to spend some time with people who don't use puns for humour.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

If This is What Love’s Like-I’m Loving It

In today’s strip from For Better or For Worse, we got to see a Paul visit. It was very different from the Paul visits described in the monthly letters and more importantly the ones I had been describing in April’s Real Blog.

1. It appears that Paul’s visit is contained in a single day.
a. His clothes do not change for the entire strip sequence.
b. As near as I can tell, it begins sometime after Liz has gotten off work, since Liz mentions to Jesse and Ellen that she has seen them today.
c. It is not clear if Paul was already in the apartment when Liz arrived with food, but I assume so, since with he appears carrying art supplies as if he were also coming into the apartment. My uncertainty about this is due to the period of time that passes when Liz comes in and Paul appears. When he arrives, she is already putting away groceries.
d. It concludes that night with enough time for him to drive back to Otter County to go on duty for his night shift. This is important because it tells us that Paul does not spend the night.

2. Paul says he will see her again in a couple of weeks. If he has any kind of regular schedule then he should have days off work every week. I infer from this that Paul does not come to Mtigwaki every time he has time off.

In the monthly letters, there are a few differences:
1. Liz mentions Paul has relatives in Mtigwaki, so he has a place to stay when he visits, although Liz does not say that he stays there.
2. Liz mentions activities they have done things like cross country skiing to get some privacy. This does not sound like something you can do in the few hours from the end of school to having to drive hours to be on time for a night shift at work.

ARB Paul has gone much further than that.
1. He has spent the night with Liz. I had presumed this wouldn’t be a problem, since Liz lived with Eric. Of course, that may have been an error, since Liz may be intentionally not spending the night with Paul to draw a distinction between him and Eric.
2. He has done much more substantial trips with Liz, like his overnight camping trip to Lake Nipigon, I did early in the relationship. I only did this because I imagined that if I were living in Otter County and dating a girl halfway across the province, I would want to make every visit special.

I am going to try to adjust Paul a little bit. The monthly letters led me astray a little. I am pretty sure now that Paul and Liz are celibate. Not only that, but I don’t think they have ever really kissed. Liz’s statement, “If This is What Love’s Like-I’m Loving It” is very Liz. It is completely self-oriented. She loves the way her vision of Love feels, without ever once mentioning that there is someone else in the equation. On the other hand, Paul has demonstrated very strongly why it is that he is single, even though he looks the way he looks. He is very aggressive and very needy. I imagine that has driven many girls away with his lack of social skills. I had been trying to play him as intelligent and kind, but thanks to this week, I see him being much closer to the way qnjones posts as Gerald.

Tomorrow's strip: I had hoped we were done with electrified rodents. The strip is similar to another where Edgar licks Butterscotch back to life after being electrified, and then Butterscotch went back to chewing on an electric cord. However, this strip left me a little frightened of Butterscotch. The rabbit seems truly demented.

Just You and Me Kid

Today was another day when it seemed like it was just me and aprilp_katje. I like snarking on the For Better or For Worse strip and the venue that April’s Real Blog provides in doing the snark as a little Blog fiction, however, today it felt like I was writing for just aprilp_katje. I don’t know if anyone else even reads this stuff, other than the people who post to it. I prefer larger audiences to smaller ones. In a large audience, people feel safer and more comfortable and are much more likely to laugh. With a small audience, it makes me feel like I have to work harder to get a reaction, which is usually not good. It strains the humour.

As I know first hand, comedy is not easy. It is a lot easier to write, “Meet you at Horny Tim’s” than it is to write about something funny happening at Horny Tim’s or even worse to write about something funny happening at Horny Tim’s that somehow relates to the For Better or For Worse daily strip.

Fortunately I have one other writing partner than aprilp_katje, and that is Lynn Johnston. She has been providing sterling stuff this week for snarking. I know it is feast or famine with Lynn, and more often than not, famine. However, I must say I appreciated this week, Lynn. Keep it up.

Tomorrow’s strip: Liz has an orgasm. But why?

Friday, February 24, 2006

Alice and Ellen

I had about despaired of things to snark about today’s strip, until aprilp_katje so kindly pointed out that Ellen, whom I had presumed was Jesse’s sister was in fact, not the sister to whom Jesse referred in an earlier strip. I remember Jesse and a small girl visiting Liz for cookies and when I went back to look, it was Alice and not Ellen. Then I went through the Mtigwaki dailies and found Alice had played a fairly prominent role in the 2004-05 school year. But then this year, when the astronomy lesson started, the prominent girl part in the class was now taken by the upstart Ellen. I would not have thought anything of this until today, when Jesse showed up with Ellen, whose mannerisms were nearly identical to Alice’s in the prior year, i.e. she was shy and put her hand up to her mouth a lot. Recently, a Sunday colour strip had effectively taken roll call of Liz’s class and there was no Alice, so it is clear to me that the Lynnions for the umpteenth had forgotten the name of one of their obscure characters, and despite having easy access to check it, decided to change the name. This behaviour mystifies me. It’s one thing for me to forget Alice and Ellen, but for the actual storywriter to forget tells me much about the way For Better or For Worse is constructed. In other words sloppy, with no attention to detail. These idiots cannot keep the characters the same size from panel to panel in the same strip, a detail which even very poorly drawn comic strips can do. It shows no pride in their craft and it makes me think that the Lynnions are concentrating on other aspects of the business now. No doubt other aspects that will keep them employed once Lynn Johnston officially decides to retire the strip.

Tomorrow’s strip: I suppose I shouldn’t complain about it, because it is giving us the Paul / Liz character development toward their romance we had been demanding for so long. However, Liz is making Paul work so hard for a kiss or any sign of affection, I think qnjones’ perspective that they have never done it, may be correct.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Transferring Paul

It was a good day for snarking. There were so many strange things about today’s strip, it was veritable treasure trove of snarkable items.

Aside from the difficulty I had with Constable Paul Wright requesting a transfer to Spruce Narrows I posted yesterday, I had more problems with it today. I went through the monthly letters to see what I could learn about Spruce Narrows, a town which I think has never appeared in the actual strip. The description of the town is pretty sparse. The main reason it is on a higher plane than Mtigwaki is because it is near a small air field and on a bus line. The number of businesses described number under 10. It reminded me a lot of the little town I grew up in North Carolina (except for the airstrip). I have looked at the map for the Ontario Provincial Police showing the detachments across Northwestern Ontario and they are very sparse and are associated with much larger towns. The idea that a town as small as Spruce Narrows would get a detachment made even less sense to me, after reading the Spruce Narrows description.

The second thing that bothered me was why the good Constable felt it was necessary to move closer to Elizabeth. Stephanie had already retconned Otter County’s proximity to Mtigwaki in the Who’s Who. He’s close enough to see her every week, when he gets time off. Why couldn’t he have stayed where he was? For him to make a move like that, for a woman he barely knows and who has never given him any sign of a commitment, it did not make any sense. In order for it to make sense, I created this elaborate story where people around Mtigwaki basically talk Paul into moving closer for a variety of reasons. I am sure Lynn Johnston considered it only for the purposes of being able to write strips with Liz and Paul in them, without having to worry about where Paul is sleeping and without having to worry about it being a special trip for him. However, it paints Paul as being extremely desperate. He is desperate, but I tried to make his decision a little more reasonable. I have known several people over my lifetime who moved faster than they normally would have moved in a relationship, because they thought, if they didn’t, they would lose the other person. You know, the “propose to the girl just before you go overseas” kind of mentality. If Paul thought he would lose Liz if he did not move closer, then it would make more sense to me. It also fit very nicely with the Liz history with relationships.

The other part that disturbed was all the “someone is putting us together” talk. It is as if Paul is not taking credit for his more desperate actions. He can’t say, “I decided to drive to Mtigwaki to see you, because your picture got me hot.” He says, “Good thing your mom left her glasses behind.” He can’t say, “I requested a transfer because I am afraid I will lose you.” He says, “Someone is putting us together.” Of course, Liz does the same thing with her reasons for teaching up north. I had another Mtigwaki character snark Paul strongly on these points.

Tomorrow’s strip: I suppose it is simply another confirmation of what is a running joke with Mtigwaki, i.e. you get no privacy. Jesse and Ellen, his younger sister, are together again. They have not appeared together in the strip for awhile. Unlike what we have been doing with Jesse on April’s Real Blog, he doesn’t seem to mind that his teacher has boyfriend. Quite the contrary, he seems to enjoy mocking her about it. I wonder if ARB Jesse needs a little retconning.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Paul in Mtigwaki

I was on vacation during the Paul – Liz stuff in December, so it is nice to be around for his return appearance. Today’s strip left a few items for snarking. It is interesting to be in the situation where I have to restrain a little, because I do not know where the strips are going ultimately. aprilp_katje has to go through this every day, and I have a great deal of sympathy for her position.

qnjones sent a nice message in the Meta Blog that she was not going to be around this week and gave permission for someone else to write Liz. I would rather not do that, since I already have Paul assigned to me and I really don’t like posting back and forth to myself. It gives you control, but it is not much fun for me.

qnjones’ departure has made it very clear to me how much I depend on her for the storyline kind of posts to work. Jeremy is linked to Becky. Howard is linked to Becky and her family. Paul is linked to Liz. All those characters are handled by qnjones. By necessity, I think I will have to discontinue setting up all these stories that no one is picking up and go to a straight strip snark for awhile.

Tomorrow’s strip: Well, this is irritating. Paul has applied for a transfer to Spruce Narrows. This is a pretty clear indication that Lynn has not done any research on the Ontario Provincial Police on the following parts:
1. Policemen have required times that they have to serve at detachments in the northwestern part of Ontario, because it is such an unpopular place to serve in the OPP. Paul cannot just leave Otter County, because there would be no one to replace him. I will be forced to indicate that he has served his required time already, even though the strip has already pointed out that the facility in Otter County is only one year old.
2. The OPP detachments in northwest Ontario are by and large in very close proximity to the Canadian Highway 17 and the bulk of their duties appear to revolve around patrolling their section of that highway. When Paul picked Elly up off the road, it seemed very realistic to me. Although Spruce Narrows is a make believe town, its position on the For Better or For Worse website map, put it about 3 -4 hours drive away from Highway 17. So, Lynn has arbitrarily placed an OPP detachment in Spruce Narrows to get around her originally poor plotting that put Paul so far away from Liz. I hate it when she does that. It is much more interesting to have Liz deal with a long distance Paul.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Paul Appears in 2006

Today was another difficult day on April’s Real Blog. I decided it was time to do a little Carleen Stein snark. I went through the monthly letters for Mike and Dee for references to Carleen. I also double-checked to make sure Carleen did not have any direct contact with April in the October 31 edition of April’s Real Blog, the practical joke on Weed, which caught me before with Sophia. Carleen posted twice that day, but did not meet April.

The interesting thing I noticed about Carleen was that it was specifically mentioned that Josef Weeder was not doing much fashion photography anymore. Considering Josef’s weakness for fashion models, I thought the introduction of Carleen as his girlfriend and business manager instead of just being his assistant was directly related to this move. It is a subtle thing, but I cannot imagine Weed giving up fashion photography willingly. There was also a mention of Weed’s parents visiting his studio, which would have been a major accomplishment in the life of Weed (downplayed by Mike in his letter). This also occurred post Carleen. In the strip, Carleen has also shown a little feistiness when Weed was considering the Mike scheme to buy their apartments. In that case though, Carleen pulled Deanna in on the act instead of confronting them herself. This tells me that Carleen recognizes that Mike has an influence over Weed, which she cannot countermand by herself. She needed Deanna’s help. Carleen has taken the place of Maxine Hébert in the strip as Deanna’s best friend. Maxine has not been in the strip for years and was not mentioned once in any of Deanna or Mike’s monthly letters in the For Better or For Worse archive. In Deanna’s most recent monthly letter she talked about doing yoga with Carleen. This marked the first time Carleen had done anything with Mike or Dee, without Weed being involved. So, I thought it was time to snark her.

Tomorrow’s strip: The event we have been waiting for—the story of Liz and Paul’s romance. I had placed Paul as not being in Mtigwaki today, but that was clearly an error, since he sneaks in with tomorrow’s strip. I say sneak, but hops in might be a better term. So, I quickly did a retcon post to get him there. Hopefully aprilp_katje will read it before she launches into her own retcon for her Blog entry.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

In Space No One Can Hear You Snark

A very lonely day in April’s Real Blog. Today I did the church thing, 3 services. 2 for me and the Mrs. 2 for the kids in their choir. 1 of them overlapped. Then I went about with my daughter delivering Girl Scout Cookies. That was fun.

The only disappointment of the day was to keep coming back to April’s Real Blog to find there were no updates. It was 2 days in a row with very few comments and although it is somewhat interesting to carry a story between my characters, it is also not very enjoyable. I hope things improve soon.

Tomorrow’s strip: It shows a return to Liz with her carrying groceries. There is a potential for Constable Paul Wright to show up, but I seriously doubt it. It appears to be a Shiimsa-Liz arc, which we have experienced before.

Let me tell how it goes. Liz doesn’t know how to handle her cat. Liz gets frustrated. Liz calls up Vivian and she explains another wonder of cat lore. We have seen this plot with Liz on at least 2 occasions before, and the beginning strip has all the earmarks of another repeat into this time-honoured bit of humour.

I hope I am wrong though. I would love to see the “Liz visits Paul’s parents” story, which is probably slated for March break, when Liz has a little time off from school. I am convinced what they originally had planned was for Liz to stay in Mtigwaki and meet Paul’s parents over Christmas and then April would visit Liz over March break. Somewhere in there, they changed up Christmas to bring Warren back in to resolve that story. That left the “Meet the Parents” scenario with no place to go except for March break. That’s my guess. However, if that is the case, then this Liz story is going to run for weeks.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

If You Snark in a Forest, Does it Still Get a Laugh?

Today was one of those days that reminded me how far April's Real Blog has come. I read back over the beginning of it, when it was just people assuming identities and making comments on what aprilp_katje had in her Blog entry, based on those identities. It was not uncommon for there to be no comments at all. Now we have all these involved storylines that are pushed by a very few people.

Today qnjones posting as Becky, did the very funny Tantric Celibacy storyline. She requested Howard and Marjee add in their own stuff. I tried researching it and found most of the same things qnjones did. After awhile of not finding anything new to add to what qnjones had done, I got tired of looking. The things I could snark, like the exercise where the man and woman have to hold each other and concentrate on the sensation of it for hours at a time, or the exercise that required the 2 Tantric Celibacy partners to a make a lifetime commitment to each other in order to be able to properly experience Tantric Celibacy, would not work with what qnjones had already posted. So, I gave up on snarking it. Sorry, qnjones.

As for the strip itself, I was not inspired to snark it too much. So, I did a few dialogues and called it a night.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Starts with Bang, Ends with a Whimper

It was busy for me today. We have an 8-year-old visiting our 8-year-old to spend the night. They are sort of sleeping now.

Today's strip was hard to snark and tomorrow's is even worse. When the point of the strip is for the Pattersons to compliment each other, as it was today, or to cling to each other in fear of the dreaded internet, as it is tomorrow; what can you do with that? Unless I leap into the absurd and plot how April's computer is taking over the world or has started sneaking out of the room to terrorize Elly and John. There's an idea that would never fly.

It is sad. The week started so well, with 4 of the best strips to come out of For Better or For Worse in awhile and then the sequence ends with this junk.

Well, I completely forgot today was non-uniform day at school, so I missed the opportunity to snark on April's jeans colour and her choice of jewelry. Tomorrow is Tantric Celebacy, which qnjones has promised to helm. My boy has a chess tournament early tomorrow morning until late in the day, so I expect I will not be able to join in until much later. Don't wait on me, in other words.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The End of Avery

A-girl Avery has been put in her place in the pursuit of Jeremy, so I can lay that plot to rest. I am not sure where to go next with Jeremy. When I had a girlfriend in high school, I did not have any classes with her (she was older), so I would see her at the beginning of the day, sometime during the day around lunch, and then I would call her after school. On weekends we would go out, if it could be arranged with our extracurricular schedules. I was thinking that April's Real Blog used to spend more time on school stuff, so I might head back in that direction. The stories with Jeremy and Howard are fun, but they do have a tendency not to include the star of the show.

Constable Paul Wright returned home to Otter County to begin another series of distance posts with Liz. I suppose this will mean that the good constable will be on the receiving side of the Shiimsa posts, which might be interesting to play off, but tricky. Unlike April, Paul has direct access to Shiimsa, so it cannot go too far with him, or he may be forced into action.

Howard spent his evening pretending to look for a phone. Howard is tricky, because I have not found a good way for Krystle to manipulate him and then to do it differently every night. It will make for a nice running gag, but I have not been satisfied with the way it has gone the last 2 times. I need to make Krystle smarter, so Howard does not catch on.

Tomorrow's strip: After 4 great strips, tomorrow's strip laid an egg. John states the obvious and April comforts him by telling him he is a good parent. April can play him like a fiddle. Join us for next week's strip when John realizes that April has hit puberty and wants to talk to her about the birds and the bees. Then after that the sky is the limit, John could realize April is in high school, or realize that she works an afternoon job with grownups, or realize she's taller than she used to be. Actually that last one could be difficult, since she is constantly changing heights.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Path to Vet School

I wondered as I read today’s strip, why April never asks the question that we are continually asking, which is: If Elly and John move into the little tiny retirement house and Mike and Deanna move into their old house by 2007, the projected end time for For Better or For Worse, then what becomes of April? The options are:

1. She lives with Mike and Deanna. If this were to happen, then you could say “hello” to April, surrogate parent. Neither Mike nor Deanna wants to raise their kids. The strip where Lovey takes over the kids for a time, and it showed Deanna running full out to get away from them has left this impression on me. Plus, we have gone on and on about Mike’s lack of desire to be a parent. If April was with them, I think she would suddenly find her brother and sister-in-law expecting her to share the parenting load.
2. She lives with Elly and John in the small house. John and Elly and April now have all called the new place tiny. If April does this, she can be guaranteed that during university breaks, her room will have been taken over by choo-choos.
3. She lives in Mtigwaki with Liz. The problem here is that Mtigwaki is not where the high school is. It is in Spruce Narrows. Not only that, but the strips have left us with the clear impression that the education is substandard in that area, with the teachers making up their curriculum and making up their rules and apparently not having to meet any kind of Ontario education standards. I expect April would chafe at this arrangement. The other part is that Liz and April get on each others’ nerves and she would lose a certain degree of respect within the community whenever April played some practical joke on her.
4. April goes to Winnipeg to live with Aunt Bev and learn all about horse-whispering. This idea occurred to me, and I couldn’t let it go. It seemed so obvious. If this is what the Lynn intends, then she can’t tell us in advance, because it is a major plot point, but she makes it obvious something is going on, because April’s future is never mentioned. It also makes the separation between April and Becky a necessary ingredient. Unlike Mike and Liz, who maintained their relationships with their best friends after high school, April is clearly not going to, because if she had Becky as a best friend, then she would have a strong reason not to go to Winnipeg. It also makes the line Gerald dropped about the special needs kids make more sense. If Lynn goes this route, then Gerald is next to be taken out of April’s life.

So, I enjoyed posting as April’s cousin Laura today. I got in a little Winnipeg snark, which is a realm that I have not really touched. Also, I had the chance to research veterinary schools in Canada. qnjones so nicely pointed out there are 4 veterinary schools in Canada. That is a freakishly small number for a whole country. It smacks of a profession that intentionally limits its numbers to inflate the salary of its members.

I checked out the curriculum under the local Winnipeg school, the University of Manitoba, and it specifically mentioned Pre-Veterinary Medicine in Agriculture as being a lead-in to going to Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon and not any other vet schools. It also pointed out the vet school was very difficult to get into, and persons should be prepared to turn their pre-vet degree into a different with another year of courses, if they didn’t make it.

Remember to keep Agricultural and Food Science degree requirements in mind when choosing courses. If you are not admitted to Veterinary Medicine, you may decide to pursue an Animal Systems, B.Sc. (Ag.) degree.

My immediate thought was, “Laura’s degree was written in the FBoFW website Who’s Who as Agriculture. This all makes sense now. Laura actually did pre-vet with her degree. Then she couldn’t get in, so she worked at a local college. Then she got in and started back to school.” I took great delight in writing this material on April’s Real Blog. It looked like this is an area in which Lynn had actually done her homework, which I guess she should have since her actual sister-in-law is a vet, as I recollect.

Constable Paul Wright – He is in the midst of a visit to Liz, which will conclude tomorrow. He only gets 2 days at a time, sort of like the weekend, except his time off is rarely going to be a weekend, since that is the time when crime is the most active. I have been writing the Shiimsa "Angra Mainyu" story with qnjones. She came up with this very clever way to get into the mind of a cat. It is genius stuff, and I am trying to keep up.

Jeremy Jones – He didn’t do a lot today. Ever since qnjones posting as Becky described their relationship as exclusive friends with benefits, I have been playing off that idea, with other girls considering him available, to create a little dramatic tension in his relationship with Becky. It will either (a) make Becky defend her relationship with Jeremy against other girls or (b) show that Becky really does think of the relationship as an open one. Either option is interesting. I am playing off my own experience in high school, when after my very first high school girlfriend started up with me, then her chief rival in school started openly flirting with me. It really ticked of my girlfriend. However, when my girlfriend dropped me to marry a 20-year-old truck driver, that chief rival wouldn’t even look at me. So, I figure part of Jeremy’s appeal is that Becky is popular and other girls may want to steal from her.

Howard – Tantric Celibacy coming up. So far, I have found plenty of websites to tell me how wonderful it is, but none of them tell what it is. As near as I can tell, the definition of what it is may vary dramatically from teacher to teacher. I will choose the one I consider the funniest for Marjee, Becky and Howard. Becky listed this one for Saturday and my boy tentatively has a chess tournament that day, so I may be late in getting to the story. If aprilp_katje posting as Marjee and qnjones posting as Becky want to go ahead without me, they should do so.

Tomorrow’s strip: April. Man girl. 4 zingers in a row this week and I didn’t even mind the sticky-out tongue when she goes “Ah-hah!” Oh, aprilp_katje, you are going to have so much fun with what you consider to be “gross stuff” on the internet. I look forward to tomorrow’s Blog entry.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day

My 10-year-old boy decided to make his own Valentines to give to his class today. This is what he made. I thought they were pretty cube, and so I decided to share them with you.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Beginnings and Endings

There were lots of good storylines that got started today:
1. Marjee and Howard are set to begin dating random people.
2. Becky throws a tantrum
3. Liz gets possessed by Shiimsa.
4. Vicki Simone’s mom’s writing class in which Elly will participate
5. Duncan’s suggested VD poems to Kimmi

I need to mention a few in particular.

Jeremy’s dad’s concert.

Jeremy has given comp tickets to the A-girls, the Z-girls and has backstage passes for the regular ARB posting gang. My problem is that the Mrs. and I have Valentine’s Day plans and I will not be able to do much with the concert until pretty late tomorrow. However, this is a general sketch of what is to happen, for anyone who cares to know.

Jeremy’s dad plays with a country-western band. It is not big time, but it is big enough to have a recording contract and to be well-known in the Milborough and possibly Toronto area and for the members of the band to consider the band to be their livelihood and not a hobby. Think of the music as a little bit older style country than the modern stuff, which is so much like pop music now, it is hard to distinguish it. We have done snarks on songs that Jeremy’s dad has recorded in the past, where the titles are basically country-western-type song titles dealing with not wanted to be married and saddled with a kid.

At the concert, the ARB gang can meet the A-girls, of which Eva is a part and the Z-girls which want April to be a part. After the concert, the ARB gang is taken backstage by Jeremy to meet his father, who is racist, sexist and does not have a high opinion of Jeremy or his audio board skills. I hope it is played for laughs (like Archie Bunker of the TV show All in the Family) and not pathos.

Afterwards, Jeremy and Becky split from the ARB gang. Jeremy gives Becky jewelry, roses, chocolates takes her on a horse-drawn sleigh ride. I wish I were Jeremy's girlfriend.

The conclusion of the yearbook storyline.

This was an interesting story, and I honestly did not know where it was going to go. Cameron Mitchell as an undercover agent was a surprise. My congratulations to aprilp_katje and adrianne_p for coming up with the story.

Spoiler: Very touchy subject in the next 2 paragraphs dealing with Adrianne. If that subject upsets you, then don’t read them. You have been warned.

It has been over 2 weeks since Adrianne last posted, so it seems likely she is not coming back, even though she posts regularly over at the Foobiverse’s Journal. She had posted in her own Live Journal that she doesn’t usually have friends for longer than 4 months, and it was interesting to see why that is the case, as I saw her go through the paces of separating herself from April’s Real Blog over the course of January. I remember when she had her main character of Alexandra Love break things off with my character of Jeremy Jones. The primary reason listed was simply, it had been 4 months since Jeremy and Alexandra had been dating, therefore it was time for them to break up. In retrospect, it was an interesting parallel to what Adrianne had posted about herself and what she was about to do. However, at the time, I thought it was a huge mistake, because we had spent a lot of time getting the characters from their initial awkwardness to operating as a couple, which really nobody else in April’s Real Blog was doing, including characters of April and Gerald who have been a couple in the strip for 5 years now. When I was in high school, there were lots of kids that operated as a couple, so I thought it was nice to include that element of high school in ARB. I thought it was a mistake for Jeremy and Alexandra, but I got some good mileage out of the breakup. As I expected, it ultimately meant Jeremy and Alexandra would stop talking to each other, and left Adrianne without anyone willing to carry stories with her that catered to her interests (RPI hockey, Milton Icehawks, TV shows Lost, Stargate SG-1).

However, I recognize now that it was a part of that process of separating for Adrianne. Adrianne started using her Alex&Eva Blog where she carried out the day-to-day activities of her characters as a further separation from April's Real Blog. Then she started writing posts in April’s Meta Blog that seemed to be intended to pick fights with the other Blog posters. Then, she had her made up character of Alexandra Love have a fight with the strip character of Eva, so they would no longer be friends. The last bit was picking a fight with her closest friend on April’s Real Blog, aprilp_katje. That was not pleasant to read. aprilp_katje had taken the trouble to get together with Adrianne in real life on more than one occasion, and I took genuine pleasure in reading about their interactions (even though I feigned jealousy). However, it appeared to me that this fight was the conclusion of the process of leaving friends after 4 months. I don’t know if aprilp_katje and Adrianne have reconciled in real life, to mess up my conclusion about the 4 months and it really is not any of my business. I hope they have, though.

Tomorrow’s strip: April. You go girl! Way to zing it to John again. This strip has started snarking itself, and I love it. Lynn Johnston must be in a coma or something.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

I Guess I Was Wrong (Again)

Today in sports, we did 2 church services, had lunch, went to see the new Pink Panther movie (thumbs up from me), came home and got on April’s Real Blog for the first time in the day. I did my usual triumvirate of posts on my 3 characters snarking the daily strip and then had my Howard character lead into an evening session of gay speed dating, hoping that qnjones posting as Becky and aprilp_katje posting as Marjee Mahaha would find it interesting.

Then I looked at April’s Meta Blog, where qnjones posted that she is taking a break from ARB for awhile and may give up writing for Liz. So, I was wrong to think that the reaction to schmoosie’s post was over. Of course, my guilt has started working up on this issue again. I am trying to keep it under control. On to other things:

Constable Paul Wright. Many snarkers have protested mightily that Lynn Johnston is not doing a Valentine’s Day story with the good constable and Liz and it is plainly obvious from tomorrow’s strip, Valentine’s Day was to be represented by today’s strip. The actual Valentine’s Day appears to be a John / April heart-to-heart conversation about whatever it is that is bothering John about his nearly perfect daughter. So, I had planned a Valentine’s Day romantic story with Liz and Paul (and Shiimsa), doing what it is that Lynn is failing to do. Without qnjones to play off, these stories will be a little one-sided.

Jeremy Jones. Presumably he would be getting together with his exclusive friend with benefits, Becky over Valentine’s Day. I have already established that his father is doing a concert locally on that day, so they will probably end up there and encounter the A-girls and Z-girls that Jeremy gave comp tickets to during the course of the last week. Since there is no qnjones to play off of, I probably will invite greytail088 posting as Vicki Simone to come along, aprilp_katje posting as April to come along with their respective significant others along with Eva and the_berserker posting as Duncan, assuming that Duncan is freed up enough from his legal troubles to attend.

Howard. He begins a series of evening dates from his speed dating contacts, with hopefully a series of masterful names given to me by namemaster aprilp_katje posting as Marjee Mahaha. I already have Guy L’homme as the first date, whom I am playing as a masculine man, particularly given his name. Howard can also interplay with Marjee Mahaha during the salon business during the day about the fallout from each dating disaster. I have been intentionally posting Marjee Mahaha dialogue with Howard as protective of him, flirtatious with him, and deliberately ambiguous as far as the true nature of her feelings for him. Marjee is a character not in the strip, and I never was sure why aprilp_katje created her. She creates characters on the fly a lot, but rarely sustains them for any significant period, and yet Marjee has been maintained and I sometimes have to remind myself that she will never appear in the strip. My perspective on the relationship between Marjee and Howard is that Marjee feels comfortable flirting with him. I have known gay men with whom straight girls would flirt outrageously. I often suspected it was because girls like to flirt, but like to flirt with no consequences, e.g. "I don’t have to worry about this gay guy becoming obsessed with me, like I would a straight single guy." I experienced variations on this theme during periods of my life when I had a steady girlfriend. The same girl who was aloof to me when I was single and available would flirt with me when I was single and unavailable. I view the Marjee and Howard relationship in this way.

Tomorrow’s strip. Honestly a pretty good strip with a zinger toward the Elly and John monthly letters coming from strip April. I will enjoy seeing aprilp_katje’s take on it in tomorrow’s Blog entry.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

I Saw It Coming

A busy day for me today. Today, we celebrated the birth of scouting with the Blue and Gold banquet at the YMCA camp in Oracle, Arizona. It is pretty much a full day of festivities, and I did not make it back to April’s Real Blog until late in the evening. Today’s strip mentioned John being afraid of April doing wrong things. He has such a perfect daughter; you would think he would be less concerned about such things. However, parents are like that. My children are not particularly well-behaved, but there is a couple at our church with 2 daughters that are practically angelic in their behaviour in comparison. They are the same ages as my two kids, so I get to see them quite a bit, so it is really not a case of my not having the opportunity to see bad behaviour. Nevertheless, their father is just like John Patterson and apologizes for even the slightest grievance in their behaviour, like they forgot to say “thank you” one time after having said it 50 other times.

So, I had my characters snark the daily strip a bit and then launched into the scheduled activity: Becky McGuire singing at the J.C. Dithers party. I have to admit, I was feeling a little drained after the 170 posts from the Thorvald wedding the prior day. In addition, I had already snarked the Blondie crew before, and it is difficult to find anything else to snark them on. They do not have an ongoing storyline. In fact, the characters have not changed one iota in the last 30 years. I decided to pick on Alexander and Cookie Bumstead this time.

In the midst of this, qnjones launched into a devastating snark on Elly Patterson. It got me thinking, how would Elly react to this? qnjones, typically does posts to get reactions from people, but there is no one posting for Elly on April’s Real Blog (and God forbid it should ever happen). Here are the things that qnjones as Becky says to Elly's face:

1. Retired people are an unproductive drain on society and you are retired.
2. You are old and nobody likes to hang out with old people.
3. You only visit your father when you have to take the dog over.
4. If you were better looking, or had not let your vagina shrivel up, your husband would not have perverted sex fantasies about your daughter April and here’s the proof he does.

I can see Elly taking #1-3 and just grumbling, but #4. That dog don’t hunt. I could not see Elly going back to her house and not saying something to John Patterson about it. John has shown a little less passive nature than Elly (i.e. going out into the street after Howard), so I am inclined to think he would do something in reaction to Elly’s reporting what Becky told her. However, he still has his passive characteristic, so he does not confront Becky directly, but uses a go-between, as he does when he fights with Elly. In this case, I picked Cora Dithers. That is my reasoning for that sequence, in case anyone was wondering.

As for the title of this entry, there was a controversy derived from a post made by schmoosie on April’s Meta Blog. schmoosie is the lady who was the original poster for Liz Patterson. schmoosie retired herself from doing Liz awhile back, so she could devote her time to writing anonymous fan fiction about a cartoon series. aprilp_katje took over posting for Liz and I remember a panicked post schmoosie wrote when she discovered someone else posting as Liz. I should mention that during the time that schmoosie posted as Liz, she had a tendency to identify very closely with the character and would take it personally when people said unkind things about her character in April’s Real Blog. schmoosie seemed relieved it was aprilp_katje doing her former character and even gave her some advice on Liz’s characterization.

Then qnjones decided that she would like to try her hand at Liz and aprilp_katje agreed to cede the character to her. However, I remembered schmoosie’s panicked post before, and I knew she would not take it well to discover qnjones doing Liz. When qnjones posts as Becky McGuire, she has had a history of posting a very low opinion of the Liz character. Just as I thought would happen, schmoosie decided to drop by April’s Real Blog, discovered that Liz was being handled by qnjones and then wrote a post decrying qnjones as Liz. The post was a little odd, because there were parts of it that seemed like they may have been intended to be funny (references to the word blasphemy, and talking about herself surfacing from a haze). I hope that is the way schmoosie intended it, because to think of it otherwise would mean that schmoosie was intentionally slamming qnjones. I would prefer not to think badly of schmoosie.

Then I made my big mistake. I did a post trying to interpret it as being funny, instead of sticking up for qnjones, as I had done on the occasions when adrianne_p criticized her posting. qnjones ended up being more pissed off at me than schmoosie, for not sticking up for her. I think we have worked it out now, but it was an awful feeling to know that I had hurt qnjones. I don’t do April’s Real Blog to make people mad or to hurt their feelings. I do it because it is fun and I hope that people will find what I write funny. I hate it when that goes wrong.

Friday, February 10, 2006

The Wedding of Thorvald and Kortney / Thora

Today’s strip was difficult to snark because ultimately you didn’t know where John Patterson was going with his “agitated” line. As it turns out from tomorrow’s strip, John is concerned about not monitoring April on the internet. Elly says you have to trust your teenager. There are some snarking possibilities there, particularly considering that the monthly letters are in direct opposition to the “trust” concept.

The various commentaries ran wild with John calling April, “beautiful” another in a long line of statements where the father compliments the daughter on her appearance when he never compliments his wife. Speaking as a married man, it was impressed upon me years ago, that it was necessary to tell your wife every day she was attractive. My initial thought was that women were not so insecure as to believe such a thing was necessary, however married life has proved to me otherwise. Whenever I say even the slightest thing positive about some other woman in the presence of my wife, I usually encounter a “Why don’t you say those kinds of things about me?” response, to which I respond, “I compliment your appearance each and every day”, and then I tell her what the compliment was and when it occurred. The easiest thing to do would be to never compliment another woman in the presence of my wife, but sometimes I slip up.

In any case, John seems to compliment April exclusively, which causes many For Better or For Worse snarkers to consider his compliments a little bit more than paternal. I compliment my 8-year-old daughter’s appearance often, because, as I understand it, the daughter is supposed to get self-esteem about her appearance from her father and not (as is the tragedy later on) from a teenaged boy, who is only interested in one thing. Also, my daughter is a very pretty 8-year-old girl. I think I would have fewer problems with John calling April beautiful if he would fire off an occasional compliment to Elly, like “I love the way your nose increases and decreases size when you have hot flashes. It’s lovely.” Since I am not interested in doing a “John is in lust with April” snark, I simply used the word agitate(d) several times during the day.

Icelandic weddings. One of the nice things about April’s Real Blog is that it causes me to research subjects I would have never thought to have researched before, like the traditions of an Icelandic wedding. The traditional Icelandic wedding is supposed to have 4 -14 days of prewedding activities to be culminated in the wedding ceremony and the blessing of the conjugal bed. Well, I could not tolerate 4-14 days of Thorvald and Kortney doing wedding celebration, and 2 days was almost more than I could handle. The type of posting where you try to maintain a real-time clock on the subject is fast, requires quick reaction, and also a fair amount of mind-reading. qnjones had sketched out the wedding festivities up to the point where Kourtney is revealed as Kurt, the invasion of the electrified rodents (pray the next Pets monthly letter does not talk about this again) and Howard being revealed as Belfrieda Batsize. It was easy to follow along, because I knew what would happen. After that, we were making it up as we went along, with the second wedding, the drinking contest, and the raising of Tobias Nights as an issue all as new items.

Tobias Nights was something that I uncovered during my researching that I figured Kortney would never invoke, but qnjones introduced Thorvald’s new bride Thora and also indicated that she was an expert in all thing Nordic. So, it seemed appropriate to add in the Tobias Nights as a plot point. However, I could not introduce some of the stickier parts of the tradition which specified that a nobleman, or a priest would be the first person to enter into the marital bed during the Tobias nights instead of the husband. The nicer version was to deal with the idea that a marriage could put together a man and woman who had never met each other, and so they might need to have at least 3 days to get to know each other before they consummated the marriage. The story is based on the Book of Tobias. Much of the traditional Icelandic wedding has its roots in Danish / Catholic tradition, since Iceland was under the rule of Denmark for quite awhile. The wedding ceremony is actually a blending of the 2 traditions. It was interesting to research and as always with such things, I was not making it up. The traditions were confirmed by more than one website.

Brennivín and mead as the traditional wedding drinks were a lot of fun, particularly the Brennivín. Most alcoholic beverages in Iceland come from outside the country and are heavily taxed. Brennivín is an Icelandic schnapps, is not taxed and so it is cheap. Unfortunately for Icelanders, it is also nasty-tasting and the comment about it being the “black death” from yesterday is accurate. Apparently people in Iceland drink it to be patriotic or because it is cheap or to show off for tourists.

The other part that is difficult in those real-time posts is to drop off and give love for the funny things the posters are writing. It is going too fast. However, I must compliment qnjones for conceiving and sketching out the idea, aprilp_katje for playing Kortney, Marjee Mahaha, Eva and April very gamely, considering she did not know what the plot was; the_berserker for managing to read all those posts and drop in some pertinent Duncan posts of her own, and greytaill088 for doing some early Vicki Simone work to help set things up. It was a fine day.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Scrapbooking and Researching

Elly mentioned scrapbooking in 3 different monthly letters with respect to Lilliput’s. My wife used to sell Creative Memories scrapbooking supplies, which is an industry that pretty much requires that you create the opportunity for people to use your produce, i.e. cropping parties. It was 3 years of having people over at our house almost every week. I had not really snarked it in the monthly letters. One of the letters talked about Elly bringing in a professional photographer to teach the scrapbooking ladies proper photo composition. I asked my wife if that was a good idea for a scrapbooking party and she informed me that it was interesting, but not a very good idea for scrapbookers, most of whom do not desire to be professional photographers. Like many of these kinds of home-based business activities, the main objective is female socializing.

I spent most of the day doing research posts. Like “What is Elizabeth’s Mtigwaki nickname?” (Growling Bear) and “What is traditional Icelandic music?” (rímur chants & intonation, and the langspil & lyre) and “What is the reason that Alexandra Love wanted to break up with Jeremy Jones?” (I still have no idea. Many reasons were given though.) aprilp_katje posted as Eva (Ava) for the first time today and listed that Alexandra Love had gone back to the states. This is what spurred Jeremy on to address this question and what should be his last comment regarding Alexandra Love, barring somebody picking her up again. Plus I wanted to drop a post that showed Eva as being more involved with the FBoFW cast, so it would not seem such a great change, when Eva does finally reappear in the strip as hanging out with April, Gerald and Duncan.

Tomorrow’s strip: Frick! Elly is interested in where her children are going? That’s news to me. Let me see. April as horse whisperer has never been discussed by Elly. April’s relationship with Gerald never mentioned, except that Elly sent April to the horse farm to keep them apart. We have never seen Gerald and April on a date for it to be mentioned otherwise. April’s choice of university or whether or not she is even going to university. I don’t recollect any character discussing that, not even April.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Counselor Paul

I have decided on a new running joke for Constable Paul Wright. Since the February monthly letters said that he was counseling people a lot, I have decided to work on that angle for humour. This occurred to me when I was reading the Liz letter talking about the good constable and his many positive attributes. The reason being, yesterday, when Bucky Katt showed up with his film script for Mike Patterson to edit, I once again jumped in as Mike Patterson. As a part of that, I went to check to see if Mike Patterson had listed film or movie script in any of his monthly letters. Guess what? He doesn’t. It appeared in the strip after the Kelpfroth article sequence. Then it appeared in one other place—the Deanna monthly letters. I started reading those for things that Mike did and much to my surprise, the Deanna monthly letters much more often list the things upon which Mike is working. In fact, when you read them all in sequence, just concentrating on those parts, it appears that while Deanna is complaining she never sees Mike, she is also bragging on his writing assignments.

Then I looked back at the Liz letter talking about the good constable, and it had the same flow. Liz is bragging about Paul doing counseling, instead of just arresting people. It reminds me very much of a woman I know whose husband had a law degree and an MBA, who suddenly decided he didn’t want to a lawyer anymore and started working as a waiter in a Mexican food restaurant. He has been doing that for over 10 years now, but his wife steadfastly refers to him as a lawyer. So not only is Liz bragging on Paul’s counseling, it appears that she is also trying to make his job more palatable to her. “Yes, Paul arrests drunks. But he also gives them really good advice.” There is a lot of material there for snarking, so expect this joke to continue until I get sick of it.

I also got Freyr and Freya confused today. I have to be more consistent in checking my Norse mythology. Sorry qnjones.

Tomorrow’s strip: Elly does scrapbooking and she is organized. Scrapbooking snark? It’s going to be a tough day.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Mortgage Pun Leads to Monthly Snark

Today’s strip was difficult to snark. A short conversation between John and Elly rehashing the same thing they have been talking about for 3 years. Having Jeremy allude to it briefly was as far as I went.

Most of my posts were devoted to monthly letter snark. Something I have found interesting is the relationship between April and Grandpa Jim. When I go through the Grandpa Jim monthly letters or even in the strip, he has nothing to do with Liz and Mike and they have nothing to do with him. I wondered why that was, until I remembered that for most of their lives, Mike and Liz associated Jim with Marion, the dead grandmother. It made me wonder if Mike and Liz liked Jim, or if they had a secret dislike for Iris. The Pattersons talk a good game about accepting Iris, but their actions speak a lot louder. No strips with Liz or John at the Milborough Seniors’ Living Palace, only one with Mike and Dee and the grandkids. Even during the holiday gatherings, you do not see them interact. Of course, what set it off for me was Iris’ sudden tendency in the monthly letters to talk about visiting her kids without Jim.

Then I snarked John’s monthly letter and his car-shopping habits, with a character I hope I can work back in someday, the smart-talking GPS mapper in the car.

Constable Paul Wright did some Liz letter snark, with the giant list of songs all having the word “like” in the title. It was not very funny.

Tomorrow’s strip: April finds out her mom is selling Lilliput’s and reacts by giving her mom the third degree about whether or not she is retiring. So, like John, April has been turned into a generic character that allows Elly to rehash what she already talked about with Moira last week. The artwork is terrible in tomorrow's strip.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Elephants and Education

Today was my birthday and it was also Super Bowl Sunday. So, my opportunities to post were limited. I seemed most of my posts were in reaction to the wonderfully marvelous material that qnjones left for me.

I have actually seen a minor-scale elephant riot before. I was visiting the zoo in Colorado Springs, Colorado, when I lived there (Colorado Springs, not the zoo). They had 2 elephant areas, in which the 2 males were separated. The male elephants could not see each other, due to the high walls, but they were most certainly aware of each other. On the occasion I was there, the 2 male elephants started trumpeting at each other and the trumpeting got louder and louder. Then they started pushing against the wall that was between their areas.

The things I remember most about the incident were:
a. Elephants are really loud when they get worked up. I mean, like rock concert, hurt your ears, kind of loud.
b. If an elephant wanted, it could take down the walls of its cage without any trouble. This didn’t happen in the Colorado Springs zoo because:
c. If elephants start getting really loud, every zookeeper in the place comes running. And at least, back then, they really did use these giant cattle prods to get the elephants to calm down.

To snark today’s strip, I started by researching the 1st Nations in Ontario absenteeism policy today in an attempt to show that the trap line business was a misrepresentation. Unfortunately, this did not prove to be the case. The school systems in Ontario have on-line listings of their school attendance for pre-school, kindergarten, primary and secondary and post-secondary schooling. I went through one school after another and found limited to no participation in pre-school and kindergarten. The primary schooling had decent numbers, but then it dropped severely in secondary schooling and the number in the post-secondary schooling was also very limited. In addition, I found a larger body of statistics talking about the school attendance for single mothers from ages 15-20 categorized in terms of how old their children were. Then there were a large number of articles talking about what an awful problem this was. It was depressing reading.

I don’t know if Lynn was trying to address this at all in the strip. I am sure that most people would realize that missing school to smoke fish or set trap lines is unusual. I don’t know if Lynn’s readers will make the connection to the very real problem facing Aboriginal Canadians and the education of their children. They may just say, “Oh those quirky Mtigwakians.” Still, it is interesting that Lynn would address the issue, even tangentially.

Tomorrow’s strip: Elly reveals that we are not done with Lilliput’s yet, not by a long shot. Even though she plans to sell the place to Moira, she is still going to keep a hand in it, i.e. make Moira’s life a living hell.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Fighting Blogger All Day Long

Today, I popped off a little Jeremy post to remind aprilp_katje what her character was doing today, and then I dashed off 2 a chess tournament with my boy and then to music lessons with my boy and my girl. Then I got back to the house, checked the computer and it took many, many times before Blogger would let me into April’s Real Blog. The whole time I am trying this, I am writing up a post in response to qnjones’ request that Jeremy come over to help her walk the giant dog. So, I write a Jeremy post, a follow-up Howard post and a Constable Paul Wright post, and finally, Blogger lets me in. In the meantime, qnjones had done her own Becky post on walking the dog, so I had to alter my post to include her Gerald references. qnjones had also done a Liz post that was the complete opposite direction I had posted about the relationship of Paul and Shiimsa. I had to pretty much rewrite my Constable Paul Wright post. I posted them in quick succession and it was time for dinner. After dinner and dealing with the kids, I once again strained to get back into Blogger to see if anyone had done anything after I left, because I left the Jeremy / Howard posts with a lead-in for qnjones. qnjones had not done any posting, so I did a Jeremy post to finish out the story. That was pretty much the day.

Tomorrow’s strip: Well it kind of interferes with what I have going on with the good constable and Liz. However, it does reference a school day, so it could be before or after the good constable’s visit. In any case, it appears that Liz has no substitute teachers for when she gets sick in Mtigwaki.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Iceland from A to K to Z

I got up this morning and found the first snark of the day was aprilp_katje posting as April directing Jeremy to a question of being chased by 3 girls all with the first name starting with “A.” As I was writing this up, greytail088 posting as Vicki Simone added some more “A” name girls to the list. So, I determined that they were all after comp tickets from Jeremy, and I tried to put together a funny encounter for the battle of the skinny blondes. I was reminded of a video for Destiny’s Child, which shows the members of Destiny’s Child getting into a street singing battle with themselves dressed in 2 different ways. No actually fighting occurs, but there is a lot of taunting. So, I envisioned the battle of blondes occurring entirely on cell phones with the blondes standing a few feet from each other. After that, Jeremy made another trip to watch JV curling at yet another real school that greytail088 posting as Vicki Simone lists. I had fun looking up and snarking the school and its very odd fight song. Then of course, I got to take the description of the girl April described in her monthly letter that she would be like, if she had the courage, and used them as the Z-girls.

Constable Paul Wright did a lot of posting yesterday, so he took a rest today.

Howard was on his way to do another series of 3 posts (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), when qnjones posting as Becky announced that she and Howard were dining with Thorvald and Krystle. So I struck the planned dinner post. qnjones can quote Icelandic stuff in circles around me. However, in my youth, I did go through a period of time when I was into Norse mythology, so I leveraged off of that for my Thorvald perspective. I did enjoy looking up baby names starting with a “K” that had a Norse origin though. A fun day for Howard.

Tomorrow’s strip: Elly is getting ready to quit the store and it appears will spend time going back to university. How soon she will quit, we do not know. Somehow I suspect she will finish her education just in time for the strip to end. What do you think of a combination university graduation for Elly and wedding for Liz? Those 2 would go together like mud and biscuits.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

February Monthly Letters

Jeremy Jones and Howard were not mentioned in the monthly letters. Constable Paul Wright is my only active character this month, just as was last month. Let’s take a look:

My class is doing really well, and I'm experiencing a really nice stage in what I hope will be a long-term relationship. Paul makes me laugh and he treats me like a queen! My head says to take it slow, but my heart takes over whenever he's around. But...I'm not ready to say too much about this yet!

Liz’s now has an aspiration for her relationship with Paul, i.e. she wants it to be long-term. Does that mean as long as she is in Mtigwaki or longer? I doubt even Liz knows the answer to that. She indicates her treatment by Paul with 2 of the things that women say they want the most—a guy with a sense of humour who worships the ground they walk on. This is baloney, of course, but it is good for Liz to haul out the cliches. The line about the head and heart, are basically telling us that she is not taking it slow. But what does “take it slow” mean? Don’t fall in love, don’t see him as often, or don’t hump his brains out everytime you are together. The fact that the next line has her embarrassed tells us that it might be the humping.

Paul and I go cross-country skiing, when he comes to visit. It's a way to get some privacy, and the exercise is good for both of us. The sight of the pristine, snow-frosted forest is unspeakably romantic - especially when we know that there's a roaring fire and some hot chocolate in store for us when we get back. The corner store is the original Hudson's Bay post, the back of which housed the proprietor and his family. The original fireplace is still in good shape, so it's used during the winter to heat the back of the building - but mostly to being in the locals for a social visit and a chance to warm up your boots before heading home.

The first line indicates that cross-country skiing is all they do. The next line about the privacy gives you the answer why it is all they do. They are trying to spend time with each other, without the Mtigwakians watching their every move. The sight of the forest is romantic, especially when we have hot chocolate when we get back. I have already snarked that what Liz is really interested in is the hot chocolate. The corner store line comes out of nowhere. I gather it is some sort of stopping place during cross-country skiing.

Paul and I have a lot in common. We've discussed politics, religion, family, string theory, pet ownership, and plenty of more mundane topics and we're in agreement a lot of the time. When we're not, the discussions we have are friendly, animated and enjoyable.

I was quite excited how many of these topics I had already touched with my posting as Paul. Religion has been touched, if you count the Ojibway religious practices and morals. I have definitely done posts on family and pet ownership. The only remaining stuff is politics and string theory. String theory is so out there, it has got to be a Stephanie snark. When they disagree, they are friendly, animated, and enjoyable. In other words, they haven’t had a real fight yet.

He's got a real humanitarian streak, which is an asset in his work - in a detachment as remote as his, he finds himself offering counseling and advice fairly regularly, in addition to enforcing the law. He's got some awful stories to tell, of course, but he considers himself fortunate to be working in a place with a low level of violent crime. Some police officers burn out really quickly under their working conditions, but Paul wants to be in it for the long haul.

I had an interesting Meta discussion with qnjones over how Liz would react to the heavier side of police work. qnjones was convinced Liz could not handle it, and apparently she won’t have to because of the low level of violent crime. Because Paul is in a remote are, he offers counseling and advice. I believe she means to say that he is bored from a lack of things to do, so he spends a lot of time yakking with people. Take the Elly visit to jail for example. He spent a lot of time there coddling her. The other possibility is that this could be a lead in to a story where she convinces Paul to give up police work to become a professional busybody.

Maybe I was supposed to meet Paul. Maybe this is why I "had to" go North! When a relationship feels "right", you wonder if it was preordained. You wonder if someone or something has put you together. Who knows! All I know is, this is the feeling they write songs about! That's it for now. Keep your laces tied!

Was the pun on “right” necessary? Please Liz. The guy has got to hear Mr. Right or Dudley Do-Right every day on the job. Have a little pity. I don’t want to go into “the only purpose for a woman is to find a husband” snark on this subject. What is fascinating is that Liz has mentioned religion, a religious term (preordained), and then the presence of some powerful something that put her together with Paul. I have met girls who were really big on the “God brought us together” thing. It is so odd, hearing it come out of Liz, particularly when she just mentioned having discussions with Paul on religion. What would be really great is if Paul turns out to be an Ojibway religious fanatic, who converts Liz to some kind of Ojibway cult, only to be rescued by Elly at the last minute from being sacrificed to a volcano. What does "keep your laces tied" mean?