Friday, March 31, 2006

Happy Birthday Grandpa Jim Part V (Final)

Today’s strip was like a massive monthly letter strip, which was good since the April monthly letters did not appear. John introduced the car he plans to purchase, so there is an opportunity for another Jeremy / John test drive, although I will wait until the monthly letters arrive, just in case there are important snarkable details there. The other item of Meredith’s newly discovered musical talent, Howard handled with a reported conversation with his aunt Winnie Kelpfroth. I opted for Bobby Curtola again, because I found the idea of Meredith singing a Curtola song somewhat amusing.

Constable Paul Wright didn't really snark the strip so much as snarked aprilp_katje's writing of April being able to read her grandpa's thoughts. Ojibway shamanism doesn't really have much to do with reading people's thoughts, but the trance is a huge part of those beliefs and actually fit in very well with the bizarre artwork in today's strip.

Jeremy in his daily Eva and Shannon lunch conversation snarked every single April birthday celebration available in the on-line archive of strips. His confusion over last year’s celebration of April turning 14 was due to the strip completely ignoring it and leaving it to the monthly letters. The 2 prior years, April had a party and each strip was snarked. I suspect April will have her birthday celebration on Sunday, but it is possible she will not. One of the reasons April did not have a party last year, was because the strip was going through the paces of telling the “April hates Becky” story, and having a happy celebration with Becky there would not fit. As this week has shown, April is still going on with that nonsense, so a party may not be in the works for the same reason as last year.

Jeremy’s date with Dirne Aufkleber was the last bit. Her name translates to Label Whore, as I hope was evident in the post.

A note to my fellow ARB posters about April's party. I will be at a chess tournament with my boy all day tomorrow: 8:15 am to 5:30 pm Arizona time, so I will not be around for the beginning of April's party. Jeremy should be there with Dirne Aufkleber, and her character should be fairly well fleshed out from the post today. Please drop as many designer label names as you know if you post anything about her. Howard will only drop in briefly to give April a present.

Tomorrow’s strip: Grandpa says goodbye and good riddance to the family who has just come to celebrate his birth. He is such a foul and bad-tempered character, no matter how much the Lynnions try to “cute” him up.

Happy Birthday Grandpa Jim Part IV

Today's strip is basically the end of the converstion from yesterday, along with Iris sniping about Jim giving advice. I churned out some posts involving advice and did the Eva perspective of what it would be like to be in a band where the other girl was constantly harping about how it was better with Becky. When you think about it, even though April is still mourning the loss of Becky to Rebeccah, it is pretty cold to Eva to ask her to sing with your band and let her know she is not as good as the previous person. I used Jeremy to feed another storyline to susannamoodie on Zandra Larson, since without the the_berserker able to post, the only way she has to relate to April's Real Blog is through Jeremy.

Tomorrow's strip: Another in the continuing series of we'll tell you something happened instead of showing you. Meredith has musical talent. How do they know this? Shirley Temple, for example, demonstrated talent by being able to carry a tune and being able to tapdance by age 3. As for me, I know my girl and boy have musical talent for much the same reasons. Well not the tapdance part. There could be an amusing story there, where Merrie sings at the top of her lungs, while the Kelpfroths bang the floor and Deanna doesn't care because her girl has musical talent.

John has gone so far in the car-buying as to indicate which car he wants, and it is remarkably the same as Elly's. There's got to be a story there about how Elly got her way in car choices.

Then there is that bear. Merrie plays with it. Robin plays with it. My kids at that age would have never shared a toy like that, and I suspect Merrie and Robin don't either. Seeing Merrie and Robin fight over a toy would actually be a pleasant change over the way they have been portrayed.

All those plot opportunties missed, in favour of showing grampa Jim falling asleep, which he did at his birthday party last year too. Yes, Lynn. You should never miss an opportunity to repeat plot devices, instead of doing new ones.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Happy Birthday Grandpa Jim Part III

I actually liked today's strip a bit, since there was an actual conversation between April and someone where she talked about something important to her. When April talks to her dad or mom, she is very guarded and even her fear confession to Connie Poirier 2 weeks ago was temporary and unimportant. It was interesting that April was still holding this grudge against Becky. It showed the problems with maintaining a strict schedule for your strip’s timing versus the real world and the fact you are telling a story for a graphic novel 4-5 panels a day. When this is collected into a book, the reader will jump very rapidly from the grade 8 grad to high school, so it will not seem like an extraordinary period of time for April to be moping about Becky. From the real-time standpoint, April seems like a woman obsessed with this one incident to be carrying on about it 9 months later. I remember remarking back when 4-Evah actually broke up was when April said she did not want to continue and Gerald and Duncan also immediately decided to stop. It was as if, Gerald and Duncan had no plans to stop if April was still in the group. The group existed only if April was participating, which from a Lynn Johnston perspective makes perfect sense. April’s January monthly letter and February monthly letter individually mentioned Gerald and Duncan wanting to restart the band, and from a real-time standpoint, you have to wonder why they haven’t done it; because April is going to leave during the summer for 2 months back to Winnipeg (if the monthly letters are to be believed) and if they want to play something somewhere, there is not much time to do it.

Today, I had Jeremy, through his lunch with Eva and Shannon, talk about the band and I dropped the hint that both Jeremy and Shannon could play the keyboard, just in case that is the direction the strip plans to go. I revisited the strip where Shannon freaked out about being asked by April to play bells with 4-Evah and if the Lynnions maintain any kind of character continuity, there is no way Shannon will be the new keyboardist. If they go with Jeremy, it will be odd also, since he has only been shown to have audio board skills and he has been linked very closely with Becky. It would have to be a new character if it happens at all, which also seems unlikely because Lynn does not seem to be interested in developing any new characters. Eva was mentioned, so she has a chance, but I think she is going to be like Beatrice Alfarero things where when she finally does reappear, you don’t learn anything else new about her.

The good constable could not do much with today’s strip, because it is too close in theme to yesterday’s strip. Then Howard launched into his bizarre naked, opera singing comparisons.

Tomorrow’s strip: Well, it could actually go nowhere with 4-Evah, if grandpa Jim’s prediction about no one taking his advice comes true. Given the time constraints I described above, that is going to be my guess. Mentioned but not acted on.

Happy Birthday Grandpa Jim Part II

Today’s strip was an age joke. My immediate thought was this seems awfully familiar to me, and then I remembered I had been doing a running gag on the appearance of old age on Jeremy since last November. Amazingly, I have not tired of it, but I am sure others have. Constable Paul Wright and Howard did their own riffs on age and that left only an unusual snark to put into place about the bizarre thing Robin was doing in Panel 1, with his feet around a black balloon, his head against John and sucking his thumb. I also tried to work in the stuffed bear which seems to be alternatively played with by Merrie and Robin. Merrie sleeps with it, but I am not sure if I can identify her as the owner, since there are a number of strips showing Robin with the same stuffed teddy. I decided it would represent someone common to both kids, in this case grandpa Jim to fit in with the theme of today’s strip.

Otherwise, I just played along with others. I tossed a few things to susannamoodie’s Zandra Larson story about MacBeth and a few things to qnjones’ story about her date with 2 guys at once.

Tomorrow’s strip: The return of Eva, at least in name. I know we have often said you can’t follow the strip without the monthly letters any more, but I think today is the first time we could say you can’t follow the strip without reading April’s Real Blog. Eva is mentioned as the new singer for 4-Evah, without even the slightest mention of her being able to sing or considering singing in 4-Evah or auditioning or anything of the sort in either the strips or the monthly letters. But it has been mentioned in April’s Real Blog. I think this is definitely a sign we are leading the storyline in the strip and we may want to consider writing our plots with that in mind. Instead of going on some tangent, we should be writing April’s Real Blog as if we are writing the strip ourselves and determining where it should go, because clearly that is what we are doing.

Tomorrow’s strip seems to indicate that yet another musician is going to be added to 4-Evah. There are 3 ways it could go:
a. Shannon Lake. Her previous shyness over joining 4-Evah will be overcome when April goes out of her way to make her realize that the fact she is a heretofore unknown piano prodigy can help her win the friendship she so desperately craves.
b. Jeremy Jones. His redemption from his prior bullying activities is fulfilled by his announcement he will depart from doing audio work for the evil Becky in order to play keyboards for 4-Evah.
c. A completely new character from some ethnic background not previously portrayed in For Better or For Worse. I think a gay, Jewish, African-American First Nations Indian hermaphrodite named Joe would be ideal.

There also appears to be a possibility of a name change for the band. How many puns can you do off the number 5? I think we will find out first hand.

More importantly, does this mean all the storylines mentioned since Eva first appeared in November are now going to be played out, like the Eva-Duncan romance, and the school talent show? If so, Lynn better get moving. She only has April and May to get those started and she is probably going to spend all this week with grandpa Jim at his birthday party.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Happy Birthday Grandpa Jim Part I

2 strips in a row with grandpa Jim. It has been almost a year since grandpa Jim was featured in a weekly strip outside of Christmas. The last time was when April came back from school after essentially breaking up 4-Evah by herself, but blaming Becky for not trying to go on with it and Jim had 1 strip of that sequence comforting April. The people over at Foobiverse’s Journal have speculated that this may be the beginning of the “Kill Jim” sequence. There are a couple of good reasons to get this impression. It is the first time Jim’s birthday has had everyone there including Mike, Dee, Merrie and Robin in the entire 3 years of For Better or For Worse on-line strip archive. Such a gathering is auspicious.

aprilp_katje riffed off the tag line of grandpa Jim being told by Elly not to spoil his grandkids, with April writing that was a little, shall we say, not-nice, instead of the usual “I’m cooler than my strip self” kind of stuff. It was a refreshing change and I found Jeremy and Constable Paul Wright were able to work with it. I had originally planned to do nothing on the constable except to explain about Ojibway history regarding the moccasin known as the Ojibway or puckered moccasin. However, aprilp_katje’s remarks started me down the research path to answer the question, “Do Ojibway grandparents spoil their grandkids?” The answer from the on-line sources was “No. or Yes, but not in the way you would think.” Ojibway people have lots of kids and grandkids typically (if the on-line stuff is to be believed) and there was an overwhelming emphasis on the grandparents as teachers of the old ways and traditions. I found this interesting, since the good constable had quoted his grandfather in his first strip appearance alongside Elizabeth. I have mocked some of the inaccuracies of Lynn’s portrayal of the Ojibway before, so I was pleasantly surprised to see what appeared to something fairly authentic. I will have to admit that Lynn’s research on the Ojibway is far more thorough than her research on almost anything else. In any case, the Constable Paul Wright post was longer than I had originally intended, and I was able to work in my favourite character in Mtigwaki, Phil Goulais, the toupee-wearing store owner who tried to cheat Elizabeth out of some money during her star-gazing storyline.

Jeremy on the other hand, just whined about how his life is worse than April’s and put together what I thought would be a nice bookend to the Eva’s being erased storyline with the Everett Callahan being erase. Eva needed help, but Everett doesn’t think he needs help.

Then Howard launched into the main storyline for the day for me, the leveraging of Becky’s dad to let Becky sing. I had it in my head that it was this big thing qnjones had put together about why Thorvald wouldn’t let Becky sing, and it turned out I had blown a minor plot point she wanted for Becky to go on a date to the opening of the Valhalla way out of proportion to what she intended. All went well, and qnjones was able to meet the challenge quite nicely. She is an excellent writer. I try to match her with Norse mythology references, but she always manages to outdo me. Maybe someday.

Tomorrow’s strip: 2 persons in the strip whom have never spoken to each other, talk. Merrie and grandpa Jim have an actual conversation and the punchline is not too bad. These 2 should talk more often.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

A Whole Lot of Information

Today’s strip in For Better or For Worse, despite its lack of dialogue and a punch line or anything even remotely funny, did have a lot of information. I snarked the reappearance of Jennifer the dental assistant with a new hairstyle and the seeming disappearance of Everett Callahan. I am very interested to see if the April monthly letter from John Patterson drops Everett out of the picture or not. The strip is so haphazardly constructed with respect to its own history; I cannot tell if seeming errors, like leaving out Everett Callahan are errors or actual plot devices. If they are plot devices, they are done rather cleverly. Unfortunately, most of the things I pick up on are actual errors from sloppy work. The strips for the last 3 years are on-line. How hard could it be to find the ones with John’s office in them and make them consistent?

Jeremy Jones had his last of 3 blind dates set up by his mother. This time the date was with Shannon Lake and it was fun to write with lots of repetitive dialogue, and running gags. I have enjoyed writing all 3 of those, so I will probably repeat the scenario again next weekend.

Constable Paul Wright snarked the made up food items with food item titles I pulled from an on-line Ojibway cookbook and Baloney and Bannock added for good measure.

Howard did the Jennifer snark and started a storyline which I cannot finish because it was riddled with too many obvious problems, which the very law-knowledgeable qnjones pointed out to me. My idea was to have Howard be tricked into giving Thora a legal marriage, which Thorvald cannot do because he has to wait for his divorce to be final sometime this summer. That tricked marriage plot wouldn’t work because it would be clearly illegal and quickly eliminated. So, I plan to eliminate it quickly and move on to other things.

Tomorrow’s strip: Grandpa Jim celebrates his birthday and this time Mike, Dee and the kids are there and also grandpa Jim appears to be conscious (although he is smiling so much, I am not sure). I cannot tell for certain, but if this celebration is being held at the retirement apartment, then this would mark the second time Mike and Dee have been there, in a 3-year span. I think John Patterson is in the background in silhouette, and if he is there, then it will mark the first time he has gone to the retirement apartment. If I were vain, I would like to think that someone has read my snark about the inattentiveness to grandpa Jim of the Pattersons aside from April and Elly, and decided to do something about it. But it is probably just coincidence.

Balsa Wood Boat

aprilp_katje had set me up to do snark on a workshop being done by Dr. John Patterson on balsa wood boats. I enjoyed looking at the models on-line for these. They can be incredibly complex, so I opted not to go for actual instruction, but doing everything to avoid actual instruction. Writing for John Patterson is usually a lot of fun, as long as I don’t have to do it too often. In the case of his lecture, I relied heavily on a thesaurus to get me words similar in meaning to the ones I wanted and tried to find ones I could work in the words balsa, wood, or boat. Nothing for balsa. However, wood and boat worked nicely with a lot of different words, and I was pleased with the final result. I tried to squeeze in some text references to the day’s strip about Elly Patterson talking about how much better her bed is than a Mexican hotel bed. On the whole, it was enjoyable to write.

Continuing on, I had set up Jeremy Jones to go on a blind date with someone, and I decided it would be Avery, the a-girl who was desperate to get a boyfriend and who skirmished with Becky McGuire over Jeremy briefly only to lose. Avery’s parents were Moglie and Marito Scambio, which means in Italian, “wife and husband exchange.” The running joke is that Jeremy’s mother is going to be extraordinarily successful in finding girls suitable to be Jeremy’s girlfriend, but then mess up the situation with an altercation involving the girl’s parents. In the olden days of yore, matchmaking was a common practice, not only to make sure that the kids didn’t make the horrendously poor marital decisions they make today, but to also establish in-law relationships with people you can stand. The closest thing to that today, in my world, is the selection of playmates for your kids—the family socializing. The key ingredients are: the kids have to play nicely together, the moms have to like each other, and the husbands have to tolerate each other. If anything goes wrong with that, then the relationship is dissolved. I saw it happen with some very friendly neighbours of ours, whom I liked quite a bit, but their son had this nasty tendency to injure our son every time they played together. By injury, I mean he drew blood. My wife called a halt to it, and stopped inviting them over to do things. Our current favourite family is one where my wife adores the other wife, and my daughter adores the daughter which is her age, and their older daughter has problems socializing with most kids but gets along pretty well with my son. It is with these ideas in mind, that I am writing this story for Jeremy.

Constable Paul Wright. Since Lynn touched on him in February, it will be months before he returns. My guess is one more time before Liz has to come back to Milborough for the summer, probably in May. In the meantime, he gets to reinterpret all things in his rose-coloured glasses with respect to Elly Patterson.

Tomorrow’s strip: The return of Jennifer the dental assistant in one panel, upon whom aprilp_katje and I had written a long story on how she was engaged to marry Dr. Everett Callahan and had her head shaved to please him. Her hair is shorter and a different style. If I were vain, I would consider that to be a shout-out to our head-shaving plot. I am sure it is just coincidence that a character which hasn’t been seen in 3 years suddenly reappears with a new hairstyle, when the main characters of the strip haven’t changed their hairstyle in years.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Snarking in French

I am not doing this again. I thought doing a Franglais type of snark to represent a Quebecois girl on a date with Jeremy would be fun, but it was not. I read through the list of Quebecois words and phrases unique to Quebec French, and there were few that could fit in the dialogue I wanted. I also tried to snark a little the political difference that would represent someone from the Toronto area instead of someone from Quebec, but I do not know enough about the Canadian political climate for this to be effective.

Aside from that, today’s strip’s dialogue about being spooked out by things was pretty easy to work into most dialogues between my characters, with variations on whether things were ordinary or extraordinary. That is one way of snarking the strip, when there is no obvious connection in the strip to anything else, but I am finding it less and less humourous. I am going to have to try something different.

Tomorrow: Some sort of balsa-wood boat making workshop led by Dr. John Patterson, and attended by Jeremy and his mother, Howard and Marjee Mahaha. 3 characters for me, and 1 for aprilp_katje. That’s some interaction I guess.

Tomorrow’s strip: Elly goes to sleep. She puts me to sleep also.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Back to Work

There was a big pile of things for me at work today. I discovered, much to my surprise, the 2 bosses with whom I had left voice messages that I would be off work, were both also off work, so nobody knew why I had disappeared for two days. There were quite a few people who didn’t realize I had been gone, which was a little depressing.

Today’s strip was like a monthly letter, so it provided a lot of opportunity for snark. Jeremy got to do his test drive with John. Howard snarked the sale of the store, and the good Constable snarked the vacation plans in general, with yet another reference to cultural differences between Ojibway and whites. I will have to work a reference to balsa boat-building in there somewhere, but nothing has come to me yet.

Tomorrow’s strip: Elly is a horrible monster. Well, I never thought they would paint it that clearly. But, after all, it has not been so long ago since they had Elly biting through a telephone book. I suppose anything is possible.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

She's Better Now

My wife has reported not feeling dizzy all day, so tomorrow I will return to work after missing 2 days. I expect I will be swamped. I will try to post as best I can, considering I hardly did any posting today.

Tomorrow's strip: We went from a somewhat normal today to completely abnormal tomorrow. Who takes a vacation and sells their business? No one I know.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Things Going Bump in the Night

Last night about 1:30 am I was woken up by this tremendous crash on the floor of my bedroom. I got up and found my wife was on the floor with her face bloodied up. It turned out she had gotten up in the middle of the night to use the rest room and had passed out on the way back. Her face apparently slammed into the carpet, leaving a nice carpet burn from the bottom of her chin to the top of her nose. It looked awful, but of a greater concern was why she had passed out.

We spent a long time in the Emergency Room and after many tests, the doctor came to the stunning conclusion that “These things happen, although not usually to someone your age.” I suppose the positive side was that they did not find anything in the tests. Of course the other side is that I don’t know if it was a one-time occurrence or if it could happen again while she is driving with kids in the car. So, I took the day off work and handled the kids today. That is the reason why I did not post anything to April’s Real Blog until the end of the day. Tomorrow may be similar since my wife still feels woozy.

As for today’s posts, there is not too much to say. I tried to work the word “amazing” into posts. My most vigorous snark on the day’s strip came from Constable Paul Wright who took a positive stance on the strip’s feeble attempts to show Elly and John appreciating their son. I also enjoyed researching to see if the Ojibway actually used the “talking stick” described by qnjones posting as Liz. I don’t know how commonly it is used among the Ojibway, but I did find a few references. The phrase “talking stick” does not exist in my Freelang Ojibway to English dictionary. However, the word “frying pan” does exist. I expect the talking stick is more commonly used by other Indian tribes than the Ojibway.

qnjones as Becky posted she was being invited out by the fairly frequently mentioned in April’s Real Blog, super athlete Drew Fontaine. I decided to create a side plot involving Drew’s ex-girlfriend and Jeremy’s Friday night blind date to make things interesting (for me at least). However, I have left what the side plot is, loosely defined, so it can be written as almost anything by anyone who wants to. Nobody needs to worry about stepping on my toes.

Tomorrow’s strip: Actually a pretty good strip. It may be difficult to snark, as the strip itself portrays Elly negatively and Mike positively. The Lynnions must be desperate to improve Mike’s character, if they are willing to sacrifice Elly-is-perfect for this purpose.

Monday, March 20, 2006

In the Mood to Write

I was in the mood to write today. One long post after another. I decided to key off the “picking up and kissing” part of today’s For Better or For Worse strip and had all my characters have an instance that discussed that. Since the strip featured Michael, I decided to post as him commenting on April’s discussion of what happened. Normally when I post as Michael, I search across his monthly letters for dialogue he has used appropriate to the situation to help me match his style. Today was pretty difficult. Michael hardly uses any affectionate terms in his writing about his children, which I found a little surprising, considering how florid he normally is in those letters.

The other thing I used was the For Better or For Worse website’s celebration of grandpa Jim’s birthday. Never mentioned in the monthly letters in the website, but it has 2 Sunday colour strips devoted to the subject in 2004 and 2005. In the first one, the birthday party is being held at Jim’s apartment and the guests are supposed to be Mike and his family, but we don’t actually see them there, just Jim being cranky. In the second one, the birthday is held at Elly’s house with Iris, April, John and the two dogs in attendance. This is the one referenced in the website, where Jim falls asleep and imagines being fed, bathed, sung to, and foot-massaged by what appears to be a harem. I did not realize when I originally looked at that strip, when it breaks back out to reality and we see Iris rubbing Jim’s foot, that there is a guitar nearby, and fresh fruit. So, it is possible that Jim was actually fed and played to, but imagined it coming from his dream harem. I cannot explain the bath part though. I decided to snark this too, with the part of the foot rubbing. I went a little gross on the condition of Jim’s feet in order to draw a little humour out of the bath strip.

I have unfortunately had the nonhumourous experience with my beloved late grandfather. After my grandmother passed, he had apparently had an experience in his bathtub where he accidentally turned on the hot water, and was too panicked to turn it off before he scalded himself. He decided after that point, he was going to bathe only out of his sink, which is to say, wash his face and shave only. Because he was living by himself, it took awhile for his family to realize what was happening. The bath that occurred after that was not pleasant.

Tomorrow’s strip: Everything that is wrong about the Pattersons expressed in a single strip. It could not be more perfect. Clearly Michael and his parents have no affection for each other whatsoever, but at least Michael is helpful and polite. Their greeting was ice cold. Michael could just as easily been a man hired by the Pattersons to pick them up. And yet, the Pattersons pat themselves on the back for being good parents.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

The End of Belfrieda Batsize

With the arrival of the Pattersons back into the strip for March break, it was time to also bring back Dr. Ted McCauley and Krystle McGuire. I had planned when they came back to get rid of Belfrieda Batsize, the ingenious idea qnjones had for allowing Howard to live at Becky’s house without arousing the suspicions of the good doctor and Becky’s mother. But after doing a sequence of stories with Howard not in disguise at Becky’s house (thanks to the vacationing parents), it was evident to me that I was enjoying the freedom of not having Howard so closely tied to Dr. Ted and Krystle. So, I opted to give Dr. McCauley a reason to fire Belfrieda and hire Howard. Bye Belfrieda.

I did an internet search for mental institution dating services and much to my surprise found information that I was able to use for Jeremy Jones and his expressed belief that the only woman for him was a crazy woman. I couldn’t see doing a series of Jeremy in the mental institution posts, so I gave him an out and turned his mother onto the idea of setting Jeremy up with girls. I remember very well the one and only time my mother ever set me up on a blind date. I was 27 and the woman was one of my mom’s fellow teachers, whom I remembered when I was a student at the same school where my mother taught. I tried to make the best of it, but there was something about being on a date with someone I remembered as an authority figure that was unsettling. The other unsettling part was when I realized how desperate the poor woman was, not only to agree to the date in the first place, but the look of desperation during the date as she tried in vain to laugh at every little thing I said. I swore never to do that again. Jeremy’s mother will not be setting Jeremy up on dates with women 10 years his senior, but I do have a few dating disasters in mind for him.

Constable Paul Wright. The good constable mainly leveraged off of the_berserker’s very funny post about the misadventures of Duncan during the magic act, to have his partner point out similarities between Duncan and Paul as far as getting scratched by cats goes. It was interesting to put things in that perspective, but considering the stories with Paul, qnjones posting as Liz and I have been doing lately, I expect Paul would return to Otter County and get harassed by his partner by how scratched up he was every time.

Tomorrow’s strip: It is difficult to tell exactly where this is going. Mike is going to pick up Elly and John at the airport, which means they could tell Mike all about Baja, Mexico in flashback, or we could see Elly giving Mike the 3rd degree about quitting his job and buying their house in Milborough. As for the strip itself, creepy Mike makes a pun from which it could be inferred that Mike has been picking up or is planning to pick up other girls than Merrie and Dee.

Saturday, March 18, 2006


The theme word for the day was "imagination." I worked it into all my characters speeches, sometimes more than once.

The diet contest ended as it should have with no clear winner. I was surprised qnjones did not work her own diet of Weight Watchers into the Becky list of diets. I was all prepared for Howard to do a point-counting snark. But that’s OK, because it wasn’t very funny. Becky and April’s reaction to Atkin’s was very similar to mine when I first tried it. My stomach was pretty upset with me and I got tired of the drink selections very quickly.

The good constable returned back to Otter County after what could be considered a very bad visit to Liz in Mtigwaki, and he will spend a little while there until it is time for another visit, assuming he doesn't reappear in the strip next week. Right! Like that's going to happen.

Jeremy moped about, whining about how he can’t get a girl. aprilp_katje very kindly had a discourse with him on the subject, which was quite nice considering Jeremy’s love life is about as boring a subject as there is.

Tomorrow’s strip: Another in the theme of "April’s wrong, somebody else is right." At least this time April doesn’t have to learn it the hard way. Of course, now I think about it, the real theme is April’s mom is better than all the other moms, and April reaps the clear status benefits of having an umbrella, even upstaging the very pink Becky. Yes, I think I can snark that.

Friday, March 17, 2006

All About Eva Part IV

Today concluded the magnum opus on Eva turning back visible. I opted to go for the shamp-Oh method, despite the fact I hate to rely on it as a plot resolution, but because the idea of Howard and Jeremy being strapped together to give her the shamp-Oh was very amusing for me. Particularly with Jeremy and his future sis imitating Eva’s moans leading to the climax. Storywise, I dropped the idea that Eva may want to spend more time with her newly refound parents, so she might not hang around the April and her gang for a little while. This effectively allows her to interact with the rest of the characters, whenever aprilp_katje posting as Eva decides to do so.

In the Constable Paul Wright story, we were left with a cliffhanger as to whether or not Lynn would return Faustus the cat to Duncan, or keep him for herself, or let Shiimsa and Faustus go at it, in an effort to persuade Shiimsa to allow Faustus to leave. Paul Wright left Liz thinking about it and giving her some aspirin.

Howard K. continued the dieting contest and I am enjoying his outrage over being spurned by Becky in the kitchen.

Tomorrow’s strip: It pays to be humble. Or it is humiliating to be humble. I am not sure. However, April is eating some big mouthfuls of humble pie WRT Connie Poirier. Hope it isn’t fattening.

All About Eva Part III

Eva has her first beer. Also, Eva insults people. I am going to have to wrap this one up soon, because there comes a point where you simply cannot make a person more and more visible and still be invisible. However, it has been shockingly easy to incorporate the strip dialogue into this storyline, much to my surprise.

Howard K. His food umbrage continues and so does the start of a diet contest. Who will win? Who will lose? Who will care? I don’t know. All I know for sure is that I will not be declaring the winner, simply describing the contest.

Constable Paul Wright. I decided to temporarily turn the tables on the feline mountie hate. My experience with cats says, if you have food, and really good food, kitties turn into little furry prostitutes willing to sell all their dignity for it. Ergo, fresh-fish-providing Paul becomes Shiimsa and Faustus’ new best friend.

Tomorrow’s strip: And the horrible creature is Connie. I guess that shouldn’t be too surprising. She is kind of scary-looking.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

All About Eva Part II

In today’s episode, Eva cleans. I don’t know if the strip Eva would have been a neatnic, however, she was very observant of April’s clothes in her single strip appearance, and my experience with people who are observant of clothes is that they are neat. Jeremy is a slob. Even when he last appeared in his school uniform, it did not look as tidy as Gerald’s. So, I thought it would be fun to let them clean. Then the thought occurred to me to revisit the future dad and sister plot with Jeremy, and allow someone else to believe him. Jeremy is too young for an automobile driver’s licence, but his older future sister would not be. So, she provides the catalyst for another new experience for Eva. Yesterday, when Jeremy was giving Eva her tattoo, aprilp_katje posted as Eva and said that she couldn’t see the tattoo Jeremy was putting on her body. It reminded me that in the original post describing Eva’s current situation with being invisible, aprilp_katje had Eva saying her hand was looking transparent to her. So, it occurred to me that if Jeremy were to go by Eva’s house, he might be able to see it, even if nobody else could. I pondered the possibility of Jeremy actually being able to touch and walk in the house, but it raised too many issues with respect to Eva’s parents, who would be in the house. So, I opted for the transparent house.

Constable Paul Wright. It had been more than the 2 week he mentioned it would be in the strip when he could see Liz next, and I couldn’t see ignoring March break for her, so it felt safe for another trip. With real people, a woman in Liz’s position would find a way to go to Otter County or more in particular, White River to see Paul and his parents. However, the strip Liz is very self-oriented, so Paul has to come to her, even when she is the one with time off. I decided the trip needed to go some place outside of Mtigwaki, but it had to include Shiimsa, since that is the primary means of humourous postings qnjones is using for Liz these days. We got to play with Liz’s prior method of getting Shiimsa in a cat carrier from last summer and qnjones was doing nonconfrontational Liz and angry Shiimsa posts full tilt. It should be a fun trip. If Duncan’s cat Fautus shows up, then the_berserker will be in the mix too, which would be great.

Howard K. qnjones had Becky start a diet, because she herself is starting a diet on Weight Watchers. (By the way, qnjones, I do Weight Watchers and have lost a lot of weight with it. I have unfortunately plateaued (as they call it) and it is frustrating. However, it is much better than where I was, even it is not where I want to be.) qnjones dropped a line about the diet drink being bad-smelling, and I ran with it as Howard, little suspecting that aprilp_katje would actually find a reference to crash diets causing bad breath. The most amusing part of this to me is that Howard has been portrayed as a world class chef, and Becky is running off on all these diets without consulting Howard. I have been really enjoying cranky Howard posts.

Tomorrow’s strip: Well, I had made fun in the Foobiverse about the possibility the demonic flesh-eating roach people were actually in the house. Much to my surprise, they show up, or at least one of them does in tomorrow’s strip. I know it is going to just be April’s imagination, but wouldn’t it be great if it wasn’t?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

All About Eva

Today's strip was fun to snark. Whenever the strip uses a lot of different kinds of sound effects, there is always some way to work them into a story.

Constable Paul Wright - He was able to work a Mtigwaki reference into the April's story, at long last. I will probably have him visit Liz again soon, since she is supposedly on her March break.

Howard K. - He is gradually moving around to an idea suggested to me by qnjones, that he perform at the Valhalla, the supper club being created to showcase Becky McGuire. There is no need to push this one along, as there is plenty of opportunity for the character to move to the situation out of the situation in which he is currently in, maid to Becky's family.

Jeremy Jones - He is going pretty vigorously down the story introduced by aprilp_katje to get rid of Eva, at the sacrifice of his romantic relationship with Becky McGuire. I have doubts as to whether we will see Becky or Jeremy soon in the strip. If it was going to happen this month, it would have already happened. As it is, I see the strip focusing on April at home for the rest of the week, with nothing being done for school characters. I think this affords the opportunity for Jeremy and Eva to do a whole host of things, although I can see the invisible act wearing thin pretty quickly, without having to worry about things in the strip interfering with it. In a comparable story, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, the story worked on its consistent elements. The ghost was always the ghost, seen only by Mrs. Muir. Eva could stay as an invisible companion to Jeremy, but she is not a detached ghost. She has parents and other family. So either they are restored, or they all have to go. It may be premature to get rid of Eva simply based on the fact the March monthly letters did not mention her. Another similar character of Beatrice Alfarero disappeared after one appearance in the strip, was mentioned occasionally in the monthly letters, and then popped up a year later. However, it is clear from the strips that Eva is not having lunch with April, as was described in the letters. She could exist in a similar situation as Jeremy and Becky, as an indirect associate still attending school.

The other question is where the relationship with Jeremy and Eva go after what would be an extraordinarily bonding experience for most people. Jeremy's professional relationship with Becky is put on hold until the Valhalla supper club story runs its course, which may take awhile. Jeremy is a high school kid and could not maintain the full-time job responsibility of running the sound for a supper club business. His situation works much better with Becky's sort of occasional weekend gig.

There are a lot of things up in the air about Jeremy, and no reason to make any decisions, so long as Lynn continues to torture us with her current storyline.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Back in the Saddle Again

It was good to be snarking again after a very busy weekend. The main focus of the day was the young lad Jeremy. aprilp_katje had so kindly made one-strip Eva an invisible character, mainly because the March monthly letters and strips have turned one-strip Eva into an invisible character. I decided Jeremy would be the only one who could see her, and I started envisioning life with Jeremy and Eva under these circumstances. Jeremy’s unfortunate tendency to always tell the truth would not serve him well in this situation. If it happened to me and I was aware that no one else could see or remember my friend, I am sure that I would shut my big trap, so I could insure that I would be able to continue to protect my friend, which I certainly could not do if I were locked up in the loony bin. But I have intentionally painted Jeremy as not too bright. I sent Jeremy and Eva off to visit the queen of not being remembered, Fiona Brass, the cousin of John Patterson who lives in the same town as the Pattersons, but has been conveniently forgotten since April was born. I had written about Fiona before, mainly through the character of Howard, who has been her lover and her coworker in a restaurant. So, I picked up where I left off on that relationship. Fiona gives Eva what I consider to be very good advice for whomever decides to post as Eva. Develop your character beyond those things that were written about you in the one strip in which you appeared and the monthly letters, similar to what I have done with the character of Howard. I am pretty sure Eva will never appear in the strip again and I am reasonably sure she will not show up in any more monthly letters, considering the way a whole plotline involving Eva and the reuniting of the band 4Evah was introduced in the February letters and dropped completely in the March letters and strips. Aprilp_katje has been posting as Eva, but has made it clear she does not want to be permanently associated with her. So, I plan to have a little fun with her and get some posts back and forth with aprilp_katje in the process.

Howard. I had been anxious to get Howard over to snark the grandpa Jim monthly letter and qnjones provided the opportunity by suggesting that Becky’s father Thorvald’s new night club could feature the New Bentwood Rockers during the weekdays. This, of course, would not work, since the New Bentwood Rockers are too close to death to have that kind of work schedule. Nevertheless, Howard could be recruited to ask them, and I worked in the monthly letter snark I wanted to work in.

Constable Paul Wright. The good constable points out that April is obsessing about food i.e. getting fat. And honestly, the last several strips show April packing on the pounds in her butt and legs. She eats junk food late at night, and her butt is starting to get big enough to give Elly a run for her money.

Tomorrow’s strip: At last Yahoo returns. In tomorrow’s strip, we get to see yet another humiliation of April, as she begins what will undoubtedly be running to Connie in fear of creaking noises in her house. I have actually known of a grown woman who did this. A next-door neighbour of ours back in Texas ran over one night when her husband was out of town on a business trip and it was thundering and lightning outside. She was cute, I thought. Her husband was less amused to hear the story when he got back.

It is possible that this is first time that April has ever spent the night in a place alone in her entire life, so it is reasonable for her to be afraid. However, considering the great stink she made about Connie in the first place, I would think she would rather be murdered in her sleep than to run to Connie for help. Because you know Connie is going to tell the story to Elly and they are going to get a good laugh about anxious April. If I were April, I would not run to Connie if I could at all possibly avoid it. However, April is a Patterson and the only thing Pattersons fear more than being humiliated is confrontation, even if it is confronting the source of the household noises. My bet is she is going to run to Connie.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Relatives Have Gone

My dad and step-mom left today after a pretty good visit. They had flown into Arizona from North Carolina, where they live, specifically to visit grandkids and to coincide their visit with my performance in the Tucson Symphony Orchestra Chorus performance of the Mozart Requiem. Review of the performance is here:

So in addition to that, we had our usual church activities and after the grandparents left, the kids wanted to go see the new The Shaggy Dog movie. There were a few funny spots in the movie, but like most movies aimed at kids, there were many, many plot holes surrounding those funny spots. You know the kind, where the movie plot makes a turn to set up a joke, even if that turn makes no sense. The worst part of the movie was seeing Tim Allen shirtless again and again. It was not pretty. If you are taking a kid, then go see it. Otherwise, avoid it.

Anyway, I should be getting back to regular posting to April's Real Blog again.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Parents are still in Town

aprilp_katje introduced the idea that Eva had disappeared not only from the strip but also in April's Real Blog. I decided that Jeremy Jones could still see and remember her, hinting slightly that this is due to Jeremy's own rare appearances in the strip. I must congratulate aprilp_katje for a very funny story, snarking about the mysteriously disappeared Eva.

Other than that, my posting will still be limited tomorrow to early morning and late evening. Sorry fellow ARBers.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

April's Parents are Out of Town, Mine are In

My dad and step-mom are in town from North Carolina this weekend, so the next few days my posts are going to be early morning and late evening only.

Today saw the return of qnjones from sick leave. All of my characters have their main interplay with her characters, it was nice to have her back to get some of that back and forth going again.

Today's strip recycled the old "April is in a bad mood, but doesn't know why it drives people away" gag. I don't think the Lynnions, when they decided to use this gag again, realized how it made April look, considering the source of her ire is a woman who has been waiting on her hand and foot. The source of her anger should be her parents, but the complaints made yesterday were against Connie. As was analyzed in the comments for yesterday's Blog entry, April has been portrayed as being in a perpetually bad mood when it comes to school. On April's Real Blog, we have her on the yearbook staff and going to see Gerald play hockey. But in the strip and in the monthly letters, April does nothing in school, but go to school. She has no extracurricular activities, and she doesn't even go to see her jock boyfriend play sports.

I think it is because the strip has her locked into doing this afterschool job at Lilliputs. If I were April's dad, and I knew she had a college fund that would pay for her university education, I might want my daughter to do something else in high school, instead of spending every afternoon saddled down with work. Even the people I knew in high school who worked after school jobs, got to spend some money on dates or something fun.

Instead, you get this distinct element of the degree to which her parents do not trust her. She gets lectures about the internet and when her parents go out of town, it not sufficient for the neighbour to check on her, the neighbour must also live with her, and cook and clean for her. This sort of thing says, "I do not trust you. You must be watched every minute when we are out of town. And after school, you must work where we can keep an eye on you. Not only that, but you are not competent enough to feed yourself, or even to make your lunch at school. We cannot give you money to pay for your lunch at school, because we do not know where you will actually spend it."

Tomorrow's strip: Connie actually snarks on the Patterson parents lack of trust, but unfortunately April takes it as a compliment that she is doing something nice for her parents. Strip April is an idiot.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

April the Bitchy Complainer Part III

There was not a lot to do with today’s strip. April complains about Connie to her friends and gets a little sympathy for some legitimate complaints. Gerald and Duncan were there, so they would snark well for the people posting for those 2 characters. My characters were not present.

Jeremy made a comment about April’s slobbering food all over herself when she eats, which I was quite surprised to see drawn in the strip. Howard spoke about why it is that Connie might repeat herself to be heard (too many conversations with Elly) and the Constable Paul Wright told a story that related to the dialogue of the strip except twisted around. Then I got bored and went brain dead. What else can I do with this freaking strip?

Well, I decided to resort to the old standby, snarking the strip with characters from other strips. I tried to use characters I had not used before, to make things interesting for me. After a few of those, I got bored again and that was it for the day.

Tomorrow’s strip: Oh My God. We really are going to devote the entire week to April in a bad mood about Connie. Not only that, but the worst art I have seen in the strip since the April got the zits and reverted to 8 years old and was rocked by her mother.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

All the Parents’ Vacations

I had originally thought, when I wrote up the story that Becky’s mom and Dr. Ted McCauley decided to go on vacation leaving Becky behind with Howard, that it might be pushing it a bit. We are in the middle of an April story arc, so it is possible Becky could show up and mention her mom is in town. Tomorrow’s strip alleviated my fears. It appears that leaving your kids behind with a sitter during March is a common practice for Milborough parents. If things really happened this way, can you imagine the number of wild teenage parties to occur in Milborough during March break?

qnjones has been sick and has not posted any activities with Gerald, so no retconning is necessary for Gerald’s parents. However the_berserker will now have to retcon Duncan’s parents’ whereabouts, since I believe she has recently had Duncan mention them being in Milborough.

As for today, my characters snarked April’s breakfast routine with Connie and I continued to make references to yesterday’s story about April’s temporary change in hairstyle (which we won’t see in the strip) and how much better she looks with it. aprilp_katje and greytail088 decided to start a series of posts based on the idea that Jeremy doesn’t look 40 years old, which is a joke I have had running about him since his last appearance in the strip, where he looked dramatically different from his prior appearance at the grade 8 grad. I don’t have much to work with for Jeremy, since he appears in the strip maybe 2 times a year, so I have to latch onto whatever I can. I have high hopes he is getting close to making another appearance in the strip, so I will get new material for Jeremy.

At least Jeremy is better off than poor, forgotten Eva, who appears to be heading down the Eugene Lee highway to disappearing forever. If she existed as she has been written in the monthly letters, she would have been at lunch with April’s crowd in tomorrow’s strip. In some respects, it is better that she does not reappear. The people at For Better or For Worse will not have the time to develop her properly and considering the abysmal job they are doing with Constable Paul Wright, it may be better if they don’t try. I guess this explains why Eva failed to get a mention in April’s March monthly letter on the For Better or For Worse website, even though she was mentioned in February.

So far, the April story arc has followed this statement in Elly’s February monthly letter pretty closely:

John and I are looking forward to a holiday next month. My friend Connie has agreed to stay at our house for a week with April. Our teenager would prefer to go it alone, of course - and we've had a couple of wailing sessions with regards to her maturity and responsibility and how much trust we have...In the end, I think she'll be more than happy to come home to another "mom" - if only for the quality complaints she'll be able to share with her buds.

I expect it will continue to do so for the rest of the week.

Monday, March 06, 2006

April, the Bitchy Complainer Part I

There was a girl in my chorus rehearsal tonight that had her hair pulled back just like April’s except with no bangs. It did not look too bad, probably because it did not have bangs.

With tomorrow’s strip, I have a feeling where this is going. Oddly enough, it appears to be an April / Connie bonding moment strip sequence, where April complains because she wants to stay in the house by herself, while Connie does one ingratiating thing after another. Eventually, April will stop complaining and come to appreciate Connie. If it ends up that way, then just shoot me.

As for my snark today, the good constable brought up the legend of the how the dog met the Ojibway once again. As always, it is a real Ojibway legend.

Jeremy and Howard had the most April interaction as Howard gave April a shamp-Oh. I always wondered how this situation would really play. If I a guy gave shampoos that caused women to orgasm, would it be scandalous? Would women want to do that in front of anyone else? My guess is possibly yes.

Years ago, I remember reading an article discussing old sewing sweat shops of the early 20th century in which the women working there had a certain pedaling motion with their old time sewing machine that cause them to stimulate their lower body parts. I wonder how the atmosphere of that place might have been. The women are fully dressed, in long dresses, working in front of other women, and yet all the women know how good that sewing motion is making them feel. That’s the way I view the shamp-Ohs. It creates a situation that would embarrass someone if Howard placed his hands on other body parts, but because he is touching the scalp only, then it becomes a sort of guilty pleasure shared by other women who have experienced the same thing.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Academy Awards

My wife loves the Academy Awards. When they came on, she came up to me and said, “Feed the children” and she sequestered herself by the television. This meant that she stopped her office cleaning and I was able to do some posts…after I fed the children of course.

My girl wanted to see the movie, Aquamarine today. It is definitely geared toward the young girl, pre-teen set. As we left the theatre, there was a giant line outside the women’s restroom. My daughter went in, and I went to the men’s restroom to discover I was about the only man there. That should give you an indication of how girly the film was.

Today’s strip was an odd mixture of John leering at women and Elly’s disapproval. The last time they went to Mexico for a 2-week vacation that lasted 5 weeks, there were 2 strips that focused on John’s leering at women. There have been a few others, I think once at a fair with grandpa Jim. This is really a common joke for Lynn. It’s hard to tell if she is recycling or the Lynnions are recycling. I have a tendency to compare latter day Lynn with the strips from the late, great Charles Schultz. His last several years of Peanuts were crammed full of variations on recycled jokes from his early years. I would hope if the Lynnions were responsible, they would have the good sense to do something different. But they may be trying to appease Lynn, if they are doing the writing. But, given what appeared in latter day Peanuts, there is a good chance is Lynn is the responsible party.

As for snarking the strip, I went mainly to Howard to do versions of the dialogue done in 3 different ways with him, Krystle (Becky’s mom), and Dr. Ted McCauley. It did not come out particularly funny. It was more amusing to me when I was thinking of it.

Jeremy dropped in a pity post to the_berserker's Duncan, who seems to be setting up Zandra Larson as a possible romantic interest, and I mentioned the Sisters of Mercy concert tickets for a 3rd time. I really know nothing about the Goth scene, but the concert is mentioned on the Toronto Goth link from susannamoodie’s excellent Zandra Larson Blog site, so I figured she might want to go to that concert. And it would be interesting to see susannamoodie and the_berserker play with that activity, particularly if they wanted to get other April’s Real Blog characters involved, like April and Gerald, for instance, where April’s goth aspirations could be explored in front of a shocked Gerald.

The good constable did his usual, “Elly is wonderful” post. I figure if he worships Liz the way he does, he would also worship her mother. aprilp_katje usually hammers Elly whenever she gets a chance, and I really enjoy using Constable Paul Wright to take the exact opposite stance. It is one of my favourite running gags.

Tomorrow’s strip: I expect aprilp_katje will take April to task for the hair style. The Jeremy reactions should be easy to do, if he gets to see the hair. I will have to think on Howard and the good constable.

It is the second week in a row to start if with one person addressing another via an e-mail letter. If this sequence continues, we will get Elly and John writing from Mexico and maybe even Mike writing from the attic. Since Elly and John did a Sunday colour strip appearance and haven’t done anything in Mexico yet, it looks like we are headed into an April story arc. I do not know if we will get the originally predicted talent show contest and reunion of 4-Evah with Eva as the new lead singer, mentioned in the February April’s monthly letter, or if we are going to get some April and Connie interaction. I am conflicted about it. One the one hand, I would love to see 4-Evah face off against Becky in a talent show. On the other hand, I have no recollection of ever seeing Connie interact with April, and Connie’s cut-the-crap attitude she normally has with Elly, could be very interesting with April. Prediction: April spends the entire week belly-aching and complaining about being baby-sat. Laughter ensues, while we learn a very important lesson about teenagers.

Wife is Cleaning

Our home computer is located in the office my wife keeps for her home business. The Mrs. is what I call an "event cleaner" which is to say, she only cleans when people are coming over. Her office is a disaster area (I am strictly forbidden to touch it as far as cleaning is concerned) and my dad and step-mom are coming into town this week. The room with the computer was kept away from me most of yesterday and probably most of today. My posting will be sparce if nonexistent today. The Mrs. is sleeping now, and that's how I got to write this.

Constable Paul Wright’s discussion on Ojibway discipline is taken from

Some years ago, I had the privilege of reading the Journals of Lewis and Clark, which is a long record of their trip up the Mississippi River under the order of then-president Thomas Jefferson to find the nonexistent Northwest Passage to the Pacific Ocean. One of the most fascinating aspects of the journals (which are in many sections a dull read, precisely because they are journals), is their encounters with the Native American tribes, many of whom were meeting White Men for the very first time. Lewis and Clark were instructed to meet with the tribes to establish trade relations, particularly for furs, for the United States. As they met each tribe they wrote notes on the culture of each that they passed, and there were significant differences between them. I remember in particular, Lewis and Clark were irritated with the Apache, because they did not discipline their children. You have to understand that Lewis and Clark were military during a time when if a man disobeyed orders, the standard punishment of the U.S. military was to flog the man in front of the other men. So, you could expect the degree of obedience by children was probably pretty high. Nevertheless, the Apache reason for not disciplining children as expressed by Lewis and Clark was that they did not want to injure the spirit of the child. The Apaches were considered the low mark of Native American tribes as far as that was concerned. Virtually every other tribe encountered fared better in description, and many were described as extremely conservative in dress, and behaviour of children. So, when Jesse Mukwa displayed, what I would consider a complete disrespect for Liz Patterson’s authority, I was curious what the thought about the discipline of children was for the Ojibway. Searching for “Ojibway discipling of children”, I found that website above.

The good constable’s post expresses the opinion of the website in a fairly nice way (i.e without the anti-White statements) compared to the Lorraine Kingsley letter quoted in the website above. After reading it, it is clear that the Ojibway method of discipline of children is similar to, but slightly more disciplined than the Apaches from the days of Lewis and Clark. It also reflects a problem that Native Americans have with their own history, i.e. portraying the time before the Whites came as a utopia, where no one ever did anything wrong to anyone else. I have the same problem with people in the States who believe the 1950s were a utopia destroyed the 1960s. My father, who lived through the time, has informed me that the 1950s were anything but a utopia. What I took from the Lewis and Clark writings, was that the Native Americans of their day were not land and nature-loving holy people but were people just like you would expect, trying their best to survive the elements, to get food, and protect themselves from attacks by other Native American tribes.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Student Teacher, Day Two

Today’s strip was yet another one of those teaching strips, which tries to show off how wonderful Liz is as a teacher and how incredibly enthusiastic her students are. This particular strip had the added dimension of the student teacher / Liz’s future replacement being there. It was interesting in tomorrow’s strip to see Liz remark on how well the student teacher did, when we do not actually get to see the student teacher teaching, unless you count that mob scene when she first appears or her standing around while Liz does all the talking. I suppose Lynn’s intent is to show that you don’t have to worry about the Mtigwaki kids when Liz eventually leaves (not really a worry of mine); however, it is unintentionally creating the effect that the students like Susan much more than Liz. These kids have just met this woman, and they are all over her. They are asking questions and throwing snowballs at her (the Jesse Mukwa way of showing affection). It is almost like they are saying, “Thank the gichi-manidoo (Great Spirit), we finally have a decent teacher.” I would hate to think that their enthusiasm was racially motivated, but it might be.

My mom used to teach high school chorus and many student teachers came to teach with her over the years. Let me tell you the only time the students were enthusiastic about a student teacher was the one lady who was really pretty, and then it was just the male students. The rest of the time, the person was some stranger inflicted on us for a certain period of time during each class.

As for my characters. Jeremy did not really touch the daily strip. Howard limited himself to using the word “half” over and over again. The good Constable snarked the tendency in the strip to reference Northeastern Ontario-related First Nations stuff. Lynn in Corbeil lives next to that area, and so her observations are based on the more populous area, instead of on the Northwestern Ojibway characteristics and remote location of the Northwest.

Tomorrow’s strip: Jesse is in love with Susan now and Liz is planning to throttle him with his own coat.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Student Teacher Appears

Very busy today. I barely had time to write anything and I fear it is just going to get worse. Sorry aprilp_katje.

Paul Wright mainly functioned as the fill-in for the spots in the Liz story which aprilp_katje snarked about the visual joke that Liz supposedly wrote in a letter.

Jeremy Jones pussy-footed around the impending car test drive with John and snarked the daily strip a little bit.

Howard did a little Elly monthly letter snark. It was fun to look up the last time Elly and John were in Mexico and the fact that it was 2 weeks that lasted 5 weeks. I suspect the reason Elly and John don't take April on those trips is that April gets a week off from school for March break, but Elly and John take longer vacations than one week. Why they couldn't take a shorter vacation and take April, I don't know. My vacations are always aligned with my kids' school calendar as are those of virtually every parent I know. When they take vacation is when I take vacation. The first time my parents took a vacation without me was when my mom remarried and went on her honeymoon. Of course, I was 19 at the time, so it was no longer a big deal.

Tomorrow's strip: Thank goodness the student teacher isn't a little person, or in a wheelchair. That would have been too much to bear. For snarking, I predict fraction jokes or a discussion about student teachers who don't speak.

My mom was a high school chorus teacher and I remember she had student teachers come in on a pretty regular basis. They were there for at least a semester. I cannot imagine how getting only a week of practice teaching will help you much. I would like to chalk it up to another Lynn doesn't know what the heck she is talking about, but when Liz was in university, Lynn did a proper semester of teaching for her. It makes me really wonder if Lynn is trying to show how bad the Ojibway education system is, with these kind of situations.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

March Monthly Letters

Jeremy – not a mention. However, as aprilp_katje pointed out, given his running joke of being taken for test drives every time John Patterson mentions a new car, he is due for a test drive. This time, a station wagon with all wheel drive and good for hauling things.

Howard – not a mention. Howard is practically a made up April’s Real Blog character now.

Constable Paul Wright. The mother lode this time. Let’s go through starting with Liz’s letter.

The girls like to quiz me about Paul - he's got relatives in Mtigwaki, as I've mentioned before, and of course some of my students are connected to his family.

“Connected.” The word makes me feel very Godfather-ly. I guess it means that they work the lumber business in Spruce Narrows like everyone else in Mtigwaki, but they are not actually related. I suppose that is a more comfortable feeling for Liz. Jesse Mukwa doesn’t come to Liz and say, “Miss Patterson. When are you going to marry my cousin?” I am going to take it as Paul Wright as, “My relatives know your parents, but I am not related to you, Jesse Mukwa.”

They want to know if we're getting married, which seems to be the typical little-girl question when they find out that you have a boyfriend.

Maybe in Mtigwaki. My girl is 8, and she doesn’t ask that question. But, maybe girls in Mtigwaki are different from my daughter.

I've kept my lips sealed; I like to encourage my students to see marriage as something you do at the right time with the right person - many of the women here get married very young, because the town is so small, and I want my students to know they have lots of opportunities to travel and work and see more of the world when they're finished school.

This is as close as I have seen Lynn address the enormous problem the First Nations people have with unmarried mothers between the ages of 16-21. I remember trying to look up school attendance statistics in order to snark the truancy thing, and finding whole statistical categories devoted to this group. Lynn isn’t brave enough to address the unmarried part, but I will give her points for even mentioning the issue obliquely. I expect Liz would keep her lips sealed regardless, but it is interesting she is trying to justify it by claiming it will help her little-girl students keep from getting married too young.

I'd be doing them a disservice if I let them think that they need to be married while they're still my age.

This is a confusing sentence. The little-girl students are not still Liz’s age and at 24 years old, Liz is not really too young to be considering marriage.

Still, Paul and I are happy and I think they can sense that.

We represent.

It should be obvious - they follow us around town, giggling and singing barely-audible songs when they think we're out of earshot.

When Liz and Paul go out on the town, they are following by a pack of giggling and singing little girls, just out of earshot, but apparently not out of eyesight. The kids in Mtigwaki really have nothing to do, do they? This does tell me that Paul and Liz do leave the apartment to walk around.

Paul comes up here every weekend; it's a long drive and I wish I had a car so I could reciprocate once in a while by going to visit him, but he doesn't seem to mind.

This is baloney. Sorry, Lynnions. It is too much fun to write about weekday visits. You should have taken your cue from us on this one.

We chat on the phone every night, and we've gotten to know each other very well.

I need to add nightly phone calls into my snark.

He's open and honest, which is a profoundly attractive quality for me, having been cheated on and lied to by Eric for so long.

I can see Liz testing him on this point.

He's a great person, and I see this relationship becoming serious.

Still not serious yet. Liz keeps holding back. We have already been doing this.

If he gets transferred to Spruce Narrows, we'll be that much closer together. I'm looking forward to it!

Liz is trying to convince herself that Paul moving to Spruce Narrows is a good thing.

Shiimsa likes him, too.

We have done this a lot lately.

As soon as he comes into the house, she's up on his shoulders looking for some attention.

I dated a girl like that. Her cat would jump on me, when I visited her. It scratched the crap out of me every time it did it, and when I complained to the girl, she was of the opinion that since I was a man, I could take it. I still have a scar on my arm from that cat. This seems very much in character. I need to add in some Paul climbing.

Animals are pretty good judges of character, and I think she'd let me know in a non-verbal manner if she didn't approve.

Yes. Or she could ignore the non-verbal manner, for the sake of the relationship. I think that is the way to go.

Elly's Letter, March 2006

Liz tells me next to nothing about her relationship with her new boyfriend, but I've seen some of the snapshots that she emails April, so I know they enjoy snowshoeing and hiking by the lake.

This is kind of sad, actually. Liz is intentionally ignoring her mother. Snowshoeing, grrr! No, it is cross country skiing from last month. OK. I will add snowshoeing to the list. Hiking by the lake! Whoo-hoo! I felt honoured by that one.

He's a handsome young man, and she seems to be quite happy in the photos. I try not to pry, but I'm glad that Liz has someone looking out for her up North - even if he does live a few hours' drive away from Mtigwaki.

Elly is so desperate for information, she is reading expressions off of Liz’s face in pictures. “a few hours' drive” Hell’s bells, woman. If you keep moving Otter County closer to Mtigwaki, there soon won’t be any reason for him to transfer. I will have to include this somehow.

April's Letter, March 2006

I talk to Liz most nights, too...she's really crazy for this Paul guy. She sent me some photos - he's pretty cute! Personally I thought Warren was a little better looking, but then I like his whole pilot thing. Cops kind of scare me. Well, guns scare me, and cops carry guns. Liz says Paul's a real sweetie though, and I'll take her word for it. I hope I get to meet him. I want to visit Liz one of these days. I miss Shiimsa. And her, of course.

Big note here. Liz confesses her feelings for Paul to April. Not to Paul of course. What I can take from this is that Liz has sent April pictures. Probably 8x10 glossies. I also need to toss in a little gun stuff to get a reaction.

Tomorrow’s strip: Lynn makes it really obvious Liz’s students like Susan better than her. Plus she is a noble native, so Liz, get ready to kiss your job goodbye, but not before you show how wonderful you are in giving away your valuable teaching knowledge to Susan,