Sunday, April 30, 2006

Have Your Cake and Eat It Too

Today’s strip wrapped up the car-buying, Anthony-visiting storyline with improbable John pronouncements on the Anthony / Thérèse marriage.

Thérèse’s time in marriage starts out with them both at a New Year’s Eve party, where Liz and Dennis arrive and do the dance moves that Liz had originally planned for Thérèse’s wedding day, but was shamed into not doing by her brother Michael. It has the appropriate effect of attracting Anthony’s attention and Thérèse’s ire.

Her next appearance is once again a New Years Eve party, where pregnant Thérèse is even crankier when Anthony pays attention to Liz. Dawn Enjo informs Liz and Shawna-Marie that Thérèse is even jealous of Tracey. I think the intent was for us to think Thérèse is crazy with suspicion, with the addition of Tracey Mayes to the mix. Given how things turned out with Liz, it seems like Thérèse was not out of line on any of her suspicions, and Anthony probably was flirting with Tracey, whom he may have perceived as the epitome of domesticity. It is at this New Years Eve party, the concept of Anthony taking care of the baby by himself is introduced. Then Liz does her falling on ice thing, and blame is laid upon Thérèse for not allowing Anthony to walk her to her car.

Thérèse next appears at her baby shower. She seems pretty calm here and there is actually a female relative enthusiastically taking up money to help the baby along. I think the impression we were to get was that Thérèse is greedy and uninterested in her child. After this point, the Thérèse stuff is all hearsay, as we do not see her directly.

Liz visits Anthony working illegally while taking paternity leave and says things don’t add up. Thérèse wants to pursue a career, so Anthony takes the paternity instead of her taking maternity. Thérèse’s career keeps her so busy, she is rarely at home. The strife in this sequence seems to be entirely that Thérèse is not coming home to take care of the baby.

Anthony’s next appearance is the infamous “I have no home” sequence. In this sequence, Anthony’s complaints are that Thérèse does not love him, and the fault lies in the fact her career has taken off, so she doesn’t have time for him or the baby and the career is more exciting than boring family life.

That leads us to the most recent sequence, in which Thérèse has an affair and has moved out, proclaiming Anthony the winner and giving him the baby and the house without contesting it.

My wife is a stay-at-home mom and an audiologist by profession, although she has not done audiology since 1999, and probably never will again. I cannot possibly match her for time spent with the children. She is there when they go to school and is there when they come back. Anthony is on paternity leave for most of 2005, and yet he has the expectation that Thérèse will assume parental responsibilities, which she told him before she had the baby she would not be assuming. They had agreed he was to be the caregiver and yet, Anthony still wants Thérèse to take an active role. The thing about jobs is that there are some jobs that are not conducive to regular family life, and someone marrying into that situation has to realize that. For example, if Anthony were the husband of a professional women’s basketball player, he would have to understand that ½ the time, his wife would be on the road playing basketball games and wouldn’t be home that night. I witnessed this same phenomenon with my sister, whose ex-husband is a professional chef. The nature of his job was that he had to travel to different areas of the country to do cooking exhibitions. So, it was not physically possible for him to be home at 5 pm every night or at all some evenings. My sister was working a job in human resources and insisted her career was as important as his, and he was not carrying his load with the kids, and told him to quit his job or she would divorce him. He essentially said he loved his job and she was being unreasonable, since she knew what his profession was when she married him. She divorced him, married another guy, who has made the commitment to be home from his work every night for supper. Ironically, she is now a stay-at-home mom and no longer has a career in human resources. She is much happier now than she was with her first husband, which is what I want for her and I am delighted she has achieved.

To me, the issue with Thérèse was that Anthony had these expectations and constantly pressured Thérèse about them, so that her home life when she was home was so unpleasant, she could not stand to be there any longer. The fact she is willing to give up home and child without a contest, so she can live in an apartment with some guy who works with her (and is thus, someone who understands the demands of her job) is telling. It is like she is saying, “You are so unpleasant to be around, I am willing to do whatever it takes to get away from you.” We no longer have any issues with jealousy that marked earlier Thérèse. That seems to be a Thérèse which no longer exists, probably because we will never see Thérèse and Liz together again. The ironic part now is that Anthony hired someone to help him with his child. The man who was able to stay at home and still do Gordon’s finances, has his career elevated by a promotion to general manager and is, like Thérèse, spending less time at home with his child due to his job responsibilities. You would think such a thing would give him perspective on Thérèse’s job, but it obviously did not.

Tomorrow’s strip: John complains about landfills and makes everyone scratch their heads in confusion.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Otherwise Engaged

In today’s strip, John Patterson was played as a buffoon, which is pretty common for him, so my characters got a lot of mileage off his emotional despair over trading in his beloved Bushwhacker. I was very tempted to go with the porn joke version of “Bushwhacker” but that joke has been beaten to death in other For Better or For Worse communities so I went with an actual bush and of course, states president George Bush.

This story was very quickly taken over by the Becky and Howard get engaged story, which pretty much defied my ability to use strip snark on it. I wrote a long essay trying to make the various aspects of the characters who should care about such a thing work, with Krystle and Thorvald McGuire together. Those kinds of posts are somewhat frustrating, because qnjones, to whom the characters belong, usually does these masterfully chaotic scenes with them in it, and I am never able to duplicate that sense of anarchy to my satisfaction. However, I took a shot at trying to explain why Krystle and Thorvald would agree for Becky to be engaged to a gay man in his 20s, which would keep somewhat within their characters as expressed in April’s Real Blog.

Marjee Mahaha is an interesting character and in her bio writeup, it says she has never been without a boyfriend since she was very young. So, I have been playing up her interest in Howard as an odd mixture of friendship with a co-worker and workout buddy with her strong desire to not be alone for awhile now. I have been throwing stuff out stuff about Marjee for weeks now to develop that idea. I have known women who believed they could convert a gay man they liked to heterosexuality, and they all met with failure, some of them disastrous failure. qnjones played up a sisterly rivalry between Becky and Marjee on that theme tonight, which enhanced the situation nicely and aprilp_katje picked up on it with a few subtly written lines from the Marjee perspective.

The only other thing running is Jeremy Jones and Dirne Aufkleber. Jeremy has such horrible breakups, and this one will be no exception. I have a series of humiliations planned for poor Jeremy.

Tomorrow’s strip: The story arc concludes as thinking about Anthony and Thérèse gets John excited for Elly. This is so heavy-handed and so obviously written by a woman. No self-respecting man would ever praise another man with “He’s such a nice guy. He’s smart and funny. He’s been a good provider. He’s hard-working and faithful.” After the smart and subtle writing of the Anthony dialogue, earlier in the week, this is pretty jarring.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Take Your Kid to Work Day

It was that day at my workplace. My girl was old enough to go for the first time. She had been fuming in jealousy at my boy last year. This year, they tried to relate math to skateboarding and made the mistake of asking the skateboarders themselves to describe how what they did related to math. Let us just say, professional skateboarders do not have even the slightest idea how skateboarding relates to math. I was extremely amused by most of the things they said though. It was akin to asking Shaggy of Scooby-Doo fame, how solving mysteries relates to math.

In any case, the best I could do before I departed was a Jeremy snark on today’s strip. The only feedback I got on the cessation of the Jeremy Jones and Dirne Aufkleber relationship was positive that they should cease, so that is the direction we are headed, but with a few bumps in the road on the way. Jeremy’s relationships before have ended at the request of the woman before, and since this is different I will play with it for awhile.

When I got back from kid-related activities, I was surprised to find a single additional post to my original one, so I popped off a few to continue some storylines along.

aprilp_katje goes back to work on May 1. This means that there will be no one actively responding to posts tossed into April’s Real Blog during the day. If this was back last summer, this would have been a problem, because there were many posters firing off stuff all day long. But the primary posters these days have been firing stuff off in the early morning or late evening, so I do not see any difficulties at all. I had hoped for renewed interest in ARB when Anthony reappeared, since he stirred the pot on virtually every For Better or For Worse community out there, but this did not prove to be the case for ARB. What I suspect will happen is that we will continue to see a small number of posts per day, and as a result, longer running stories.

Tomorrow’s strip:
John and the Bushwhacker, sitting in a tree. The most affection we have seen from John for anything outside of April, is for his old car. The guy just gets creepier and creepier.

Ending Relationships

I thought thematically speaking, the drama club MacBeth disaster was the perfect opportunity to add a major problem with the Jeremy Jones / Dirne Aufkleber relationship. It should work well with what is going on with the current strip between Anthony Caine and John Patterson. I have not decided yet if the split should be permanent or not. I have been quite surprised at how much I enjoy writing about and as Dirne, since she provides an excellent point of view for snarking the Foob fashion sense (or lack thereof). However, I don't know if I can stand Jeremy Jones being so happy.

The current strip sequence has been making Constable Paul Wright an interesting writing challenge. I was afraid John and Anthony's conversation would steer toward Elizabeth, so Paul would have to stop paying attention to April's Real Blog, but that hasn't happened so far.

Howard has been tossing in his strip snark via the Ted / Krystle relationship, and comments made by Rosemary Mayes. Tonight qnjones shocked me quite a bit by suggesting through her Thorvald character that Howard and Becky should get married. qnjones has hinted about this relationship in her posts before, and coming through Thorvald, it is still indirect, but there are lots of possibilities about what could be done with it.

As for everything else today, I must give a big congratulations to susannamoodie and the_berserker for concocting that whole MacBeth drama club story that has stretched over the last 8 weeks. Also aprilp_katje did an excellent job of throwin' in xxtra things. It was just getting started when I had to go to church choir practice, and when I got back and saw all the posts, I was very jealous. Nevertheless, it was marvelous. I do not have the patience to write a storyline that lasts so long and I am grateful you allowed Jeremy to participate.

Tomorrow's strip: Anthony cheers himself up. Whoopee!!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Gone With the Wind

There are a few differing perspectives on the current Anthony storyline that make it interesting:
  1. The opinion of Anthony on the state of his marriage. As many people do when bad things happen to them that they deserve to have happen to them, Anthony is making excuses and blaming someone else. Not only that, but he is trying to manipulate John by punching a lot of his buttons. Thérèse met someone at work (career woman button). Thérèse has been lying to him (liar button). He didn’t know it was going on (hapless man button). He is a manipulative liar, but I liked the dialogue, because it seemed real to me.
  2. The opinion of the Pattersons and their friends. These opinions are almost 100% united in favour of the perspective that it is all Thérèse’s fault. From Gordon Mayes and Liz last summer, to Shawna-Marie Verrano and Dawn Enjo over New Years, 2005, to April and Elly at the baby shower in March, 2005, to Mike Patterson’s many monthly letters, and finally to John Patterson’s opinion today about Anthony being an honest man who has been lied to. Everyone seems to be saying to Thérèse, “I’ll go to your baby shower, but I’ll tell everyone I think you’re tacky” or “I’ll go to your wedding, but I am going to practice my dance moves to show your husband what he is missing with me.” Or “I’ll go to this New Years’ Eve party your husband’s boss is throwing, but I will gossip about you while I’m there.” or “I’ll take your ex-girlfriend to your house while you’re not there and your husband is.” or “I will believe without question any disparaging remark your husband makes about you.” It is difficult to sympathize with people whose behaviour is so rude and hateful. The missing percentage which makes it not 100% is oddly enough Michael, who jumped all over Liz for taking dance lessons to show off in front of Anthony at his wedding, which ends up causing the show-off dancing to be postponed to a later party a few months later, where Thérèse is in attendance.
  3. Your own opinion. This is what you get from observing the actions in the strip and making your own interpretation. I can’t interpret for you, but this is what I see:
    a. Thérèse. At Thérèse’s wedding, I see Thérèse trying in vain to stop Anthony from staring at Elizabeth during her wedding and failing. At Gordon’s New Years Eve party, I see Thérèse trying to keep her husband from running over to talk to or staring at Elizabeth every chance he gets. At Thérèse’s baby shower, I see Thérèse giving April a very gracious thank you for her gift. I also see Thérèse not getting publicly upset with her rude (presumably) mother begging for money to hold the baby.
    b. Anthony. I see many chance meetings between Elizabeth and Anthony. I don’t think much of the coincidence of this until the Howard attack last summer, where Anthony admitted the only reason he went to Lakeshore Landscaping was to see Liz, so it was not a coincidence at all he happened to be there. In my mind, this makes all the other chance meetings suspect. In those meetings, Anthony is holding onto her hand, or hugging her, or in the last and worst one, proclaiming his love for her and asking her to wait for him until his marriage was over just after she was attacked.

My observation makes it difficult for me to side with Anthony and it makes the opinions of the Pattersons and their friends more frustrating, because I would prefer to agree with them. I prefer to empathize with the protagonists and not the antagonists. There is a way to do that, which I will suggest to you.

If you take the story as a whole, you will realize what is going on. It isn’t that Anthony is a nice guy wronged by an evil Quebecoise woman. This is a story about how Liz went to university, stopped paying attention to a guy she really wanted from high school, found much to her surprise he had hooked up with another woman in university, and now she wants him back. Not only that but her friends and family realize what she wants and they are helping her achieve this goal. Think of Gone With the Wind. Think of Liz as Scarlett O’Hara and Anthony as Ashley Wilkes, Thérèse as Melanie Hamilton, and Paul Wright as Scarlett’s simpering first husband (I forget his name. The dies-and-leaves-me-money husband) and the story becomes more appealing. Liz / Scarlett is not that nice, but you still hope she wins out, because she is smart and sophisticated and she goes after what she wants. Lynn has replaced smart, sophisticated, and extremely aggressive Scarlett with “brave enough to leave her family and teach natives for 2 years” and extremely passive aggressive Liz.

The main problem with this analogy is that Anthony is Ashley Wilkes, whom no one wanted Scarlett to marry except Scarlett. We were all rooting for Scarlett and the much more interesting Rhett Butler. But Rhett Butler can’t exist in this strip, since there are no heterosexual men that have not been emasculated in there. So think of Gone With the Wind where Scarlett ends up with Ashley, and this tells you everything that is wrong with this storyline.

Thrown out of synch

Thanks to the wonderful world of Blogger, aprilp_katje was unable to get her Blog entry in until late in the day and by that time, April was already in drama club at the end of the school day. I had to rethink how I was going to snark the daily strip, because my ideas were all based beginning of the day and lunchtime snarks. I was not very successful in retranslating my early in the morning thoughts into later in the day. My characters mainly reacted to what other characters were doing today, as opposed to doing any big time strip snarks.

Constable Paul Wright. If Liz breaks up with him, it will come very soon, so I will have to prepare the character for gloom and doom.

Jeremy Jones. Right now he is involved in the disaster known as the drama club and mainly tries to write things to feed to susannamoodie posting as Zandra Larson and the_berserker posting as Duncan.

Howard. He’s mixed up in almost everything.

Tomorrow’s Strip: We are now going to pretend it was OK for Anthony to make his play for Liz last summer, because it turns out Thérèse was messing around first.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

April and Slapstick

For today’s strip, the obvious ties to Constable Paul Wright were the sleddogs. For Jeremy, aprilp_katje handed me snark on a silver platter by bringing Jeremy and his girlfriend Dirne Aufkleber into the Blog entry. I popped a few off and then it was church and then the Pima County Fair, from which I have just arrived back.

Howard couldn’t really do anything without qnjones as Becky answering the questions he posed yesterday so he could gauge his reaction to the daughter swapping story. I would write something up from Howard now that qnjones responded to those questions, but that needs to wait until tomorrow. The fair left me tired and exhausted.

Tomorrow’s strip: I think I should be claiming prescience points with this one.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Coffee Break Part II

Today we have a little Anthony praise which he deflects on to Gordon. Since aprilp_katje mentioned story-telling, Constable Paul Wright started on that aspect since story-telling is actually very big with the Ojibway.

Howard mentioned another visit with Tracey Mayes talking about the events of the strip. This is mainly because the monthly letters did actually place Tracey as running the restaurant back last summer and the appearance from the strip is that Anthony is running things in the restaurant and not Tracey. Other than that, I lifted off susannamoodie’s notes about the Opera having a garage sale. Howard and Becky go there and encounter Arne the magician and I get to regurgitate the strip dialogue into a different setting.

Jeremy told the story of his date on Friday night. Then he recounted the Dirne position on a shopping trip with April, Shannon & Vicki Simone.

Tomorrow’s strip: My posting will be minimal. After church, I am talking the kids to the County Fair, which should take all day. The point of the strip appears to be that April is stupider than dogs.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Coffee Break Part I

Today’s strip introduced Anthony back into the story for the first time since he asked Elizabeth to wait for him, way back in August. Elizabeth never said if she would wait for him in the strip or in the letters, and certainly if she said, “Yes” it would have an interesting resonance with her relationship with Constable Paul Wright. I know the monthly letters have gone on and on about how miserable Anthony is with Thérèse, but from the graphic novel strip perspective, you would have to draw the conclusion, things are going well for Anthony. He seems positively perky talking to John. In fact, if I were just judging from the strip, I would say, “Elizabeth said she would wait.”

My characters snarked on the most obvious thing to snark, which was all the different kinds of coffee, in particular the ones made up for humourous effect. Then I snarked Dirne Aufkleber doing the part of the porter from MacBeth. And then gave Howard / Marjee and Jeremy / Dirne something to do on a date that evening. I have been waiting for major concert to come through Toronto for Jeremy to take and show off Dirne, but as near as I can tell; Toronto must have been expecting the Leafs to make the playoffs, because the concert offerings are bleak. I latched onto practically the only one I could find playing in a minor Toronto venue. Then for Marjee and Howard, I looked for recently released films that involved gays, and finding none, opted for a chick flick instead to satisfy Marjee.

At the end of the day, aprilp_katje threw me a Howard / Marjee / April / Gerald double-date and I did a little bit with it. Usually Howard’s social events end in chaos, but I just wasn’t in the mood to write one like that.

Then the mysterious anonymous poster popped in and started taking Constable Paul Wright to task and calling him creepy for reading April’s Real Blog. My thought would have been it was very subtle writing by eeknight beginning a comeback as Anthony Caine, however, the same person appears to have been posting anonymously to the Foobiverse’s Journal with nearly the same kind of comments. eeknight does not post anonymously over there, so my guess is it is someone new. Anonymous poster, if you are reading this, you could actually adopt one of the available characters listed in April’s Meta Blog and write as that character or make up your own character.

Tomorrow’s strip: More perkiness from Anthony as we cover ground showing where he is in the business. I think this is all setup for the intense Elizabeth-related discussion which will occur next week. It could make things interesting for Constable Paul Wright who should get a mention from John, particularly to see how John views the good constable.

John Buys a Car Part V

A late entry today. The Mrs. had the computer pretty much locked down all last night, since she is going to LA to visit her brother and she had many things she wanted to do. All I did yesterday was to key off the strip line about selling relationships.

Tomorrow's strip: Anthony is back, as predicted. He seems in a pretty good mood. I wonder why? Could it possibly be that he separated and heading for divorce? I suppose that would make him cheerful, considering he was pretty much miserable for every single moment of his marriage and courtship.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

John Buys a Car Part IV

Ben Horanium, the model train builder. aprilp_katje mentioned him today in a reference to a post she had done back in August. I could not remember if he was real or not, so I googled and found “April’s Real Blog” and the Chaos Theory blog site which had several quotes from April’s Real Blog back in the days when Howard had just recently attacked Elizabeth. There were a lot of funny quotes from aprilp_katje and qnjones and eeknight (posting as Anthony) and phatsmacky (posting as Michael). I don’t know if I needed a reminder today that things on April’s Real Blog used to be a lot more active, particularly today when I clocked in my 3 posts from my three characters early in the morning (my time) and waited and waited for someone else to write something in. One of my personal quirks with respect to this endeavour is that I do not like to add posts from the same character(s) who had the last post. In other words, I like them to give other characters a chance to respond. aprilp_katje was up a lot earlier than usual today, so I suspect she had something going on, which kept her busy.

Of course the other big difference from then was that when Howard attacked Elizabeth, that was something. There was some action and the characters were firing on all cylinders. People were interested in what was going to happen next. There has been nothing as interesting since. But there has been potential. Wasted potential. For example, when April and Becky broke up, that could have been a huge battle and lots of hurt feelings. Instead they are still talking, while April continues grumbling. Another example, Elly decides to retire. John and Elly could have had a little argument over this, over things like “You’re just starting to make a profit and you want to quit?” Another example, Melville Kelpfroth gets into a shoving match with Mike over the magazine article, broken up by Lovey. Another example, April and Gerald go on a date, by themselves and April has to stop Gerald from going further than she wants to go.

The characters:

Howard K.
Today Howard did a little joke on the Flashpoint BRP 500, by riffing off the word flashpoint. That was my favourite post of the day. I have introduced the concept again of people believing Howard is taken, so he is not approached by the gay community who has seen Howard semi-naked for weeks now. In real life, by now Howard would have been approached by someone who wanted to take his equipment for a test drive. However, Howard lives with Becky, and it is difficult to make sexually active Howard work when those activities would occur in close proximity to Becky. Howard is going to be celibate for awhile.

Constable Paul Wright. I had the good constable try to understand the strip implications of why John has to buy a car, which is not the one he would prefer. Coming from a blue collar background, Paul has no concept of the stuff Elly puts John through. David Miller is the mayor of Toronto, in case you wondered where that name came from.

Jeremy Jones.
His Z-girl riff was based on susannamoodie’s Zandra Larson post where she mentions 4 Z-girls. 2 of them are never before mentioned in the Zandra Larson blog. 2 have been mentioned before in connection with another previously mentioned Z-girl. That was the source of that whole business. Jeremy Jones also recounted his girlfriend Dirne’s triumph over the A-girls. I will probably conclude that little story tomorrow.

Tomorrow’s strip: Gordon doesn’t sell cars. He sells relationships. That’s a pretty limited set of clients.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

John Buys a Car Part III

In today’s strip, John and Gordon turn into the mutual admiration society and John finally breaks it to us that he wants to trade in his Bushwhacker, for what we already know will be a Crevasse sedan from two strips we have already seen. aprilp_katje contacted webmaster Stephanie from FBoFW and got a reply stating:

Lynn wrote some of those strips while on vacation, and she didn't have the earlier strips as reference for the continuity. This will be fixed before the strips are put into book form.

The way these kinds of strips are constructed, is first there is a script, which is a panel-by-panel description of the action and the words to go along with it. This is passed down to the artist, which is supposedly Lynn Johnston, but which we know could not possibly be Lynn Johnston, unless she changes her art style every few weeks. While the artist is working on that script, then the writer starts working on the next script for the next sequence of strips. In order for what Stephanie said to have happened, it means that Lynn wrote the March strips script, then when she was on vacation writing the ones for April, she didn’t have access to what she had written before in March. So in the intervening period of time, she had forgotten she had written on 2 separate occasions that John had already gotten his car, and then she decided to write the "John gets his car" story for April. It should be noted the same sequence of strips talked about Elly selling her business during her vacation in March and then turned around and showed her selling it again in April.

We know Stephanie the webmaster has a wicked sense of humour and you can see it in her reply. “Lynn wrote some of those strips while on vacation.” What did Elly and John just do in the strip on vacation? They did work and did not vacation. That’s a cute reference for the explanation. From a logical standpoint, it doesn’t work. Lynn is not the last person to touch those strips. They have to be inked and lettered and proofread and scanned. There is not a lot of material there. Such a blatant plot change would be difficult to miss with all that effort put into it. Not only that but there is a huge lead time from the time the strip is written to the time it actually gets sent out, the fix could easily be done. The fix for this would amount to no more than overlaying the speech balloon with another speech. Mike says “Dad went fishing.” Or John says, “I am thinking about trading in my car.”

I have my own theory. I think there is more than one art team and they don’t talk to each other. It takes much longer to draw this stuff than it does to write it and I think Lynn writes out different stories covering multi-week sequences and hands them off to different art teams. Then she doesn’t worry much about how they are going to fit into the timing. She leaves that up to other people. She writes:
1. The story about April freaking out while John and Elly are gone on their trip.
2. The story about John and Elly coming back from their trip and grampa Jim’s birthday.
3. The story about how Elly retires and John trades in his Crevasse.

The people putting together the strip then have to line up grampa Jim’s birthday with his actual birthday. Well they missed by a few weeks. Why did they miss? Because John and Elly’s trip had to fall over March break. That left the the Lilliputs and Crevasse story. Well we have to put that after the other two stories, because they are both restricted by the calendar, and this story is not. But then, oops, Lynn didn’t intend them to be in that order. We know that from John's Letter, March 2006:

The other thing that will happen at the end of March is the sale of Lilliputs!

I think the actual intended order was Stories 1, 3, 2. It that were the order, then the people’s comments would make more sense.

Constable Paul Wright. He is once again stuck in the position where there is not much he can do with this. I decided to find the actual Ojibway qualifications for elder and apply them very loosely to John Patterson, as the good constable appears to suck up to John as Gordon did.

Jeremy Jones panicked over the car mention. At lunch he took aprilp_katje’s feed on Josh the geek god being unerased and I decided to take that hopefully in a different route than expected where Josh actually liked being erased, in contrast to Eva who did not. I got the sense during the course of April's character conversation with Jeremy today that aprilp_katje either is extremely tired of my “Jeremy looks old” running joke or she is trying to do some character development where April actually finds Jeremy attractive. I am not sure which one. Both are possible.

Howard K. qnjones I think is spending time with her sister, so I decided to push along one of her plots for Becky and her boyfriend Drew Fontaine. Howard lives with Becky so it doesn’t make sense he wouldn’t say something about her, even though qnjones is not posting for her at this moment. Last, but not least, I had Howard tie in some reasons for the long ago major retcons involving Connie Poirier and her first/non-husband and aprilp_katje’s faux pas wrt Duncan’s family in the Creative Writing Forum and the erasing/unerasing of Josh.

Tomorrow’s strip: John and Gordon commiserate on the fact John has no spine. Cookie77 has been writing up on the Foobiverse’s Journal the transformation of Elly from women’s libber to whatever she is today. The thing I note in those strips is John is regularly portrayed as a distinctly politically incorrect character, whom Elly frequently shuts down with flying kitchen items or violent screams. He was detestable, but actually quite a bit funnier than he is today. Tomorrow we get to see the result of 27 years of Elly on a man who previously had a spine.

Monday, April 17, 2006

John Buys a Car Part II

I must admit when I saw today’s strip, I wrote up my usual snark for the Foobiverse’s Journal, going through it panel by panel and thinking to myself, “What am I going to do with this one? Neither Howard nor Jeremy nor Constable Paul Wright will care 2 wits whether or not John has his hands in his pockets or you can’t see through the Crevasse’s windows or Gordon sucks up to John.” Fortunately for me, apparently aprilp_katje had the same problem and she went on a completely different tangent, resurrecting one-time-appearance-only Josh, the computer geek-god from an erasing. There would have been more to do to play with this as Jeremy, only the kids in Canada are out of school today, so there would not be a casual meet between Jeremy and Josh. So, I opted to have my characters react to the unerasing of Josh for their initial posts of the day. The odd thing was I wanted to write a school lunch time snark about it, but I had to keep reminding myself they weren’t in school.

The character of mine to whom aprilp_katje reacted the most in their initial snark of the day was to Constable Paul Wright, and she inspired me to have a brief conversation with her about how the good constable might try to emulate Patterson-like behaviour with the sticky-out tongue laughing. We already saw Paul try out punning during his last appearance in the strip, so this wasn’t farfetched. Not terribly funny, but reasonably within his character.

In the Creative Writing Forum, I noticed that qnjones had the Melanie Forsythe character mention her profession as a professional shopper, so I thought it would be fun for the shopping princess, Dirne Aufkleber to run into her. From what qnjones wrote, it appeared that Mrs. Forsythe’s qualification for being a personal shopper were simply that she liked to shop and she lived in a nice neighbourhood. The actual qualifications for personal shoppers listed on the internet were not far from this. The only difference was that many of the personal shoppers had a background in retail sales, and so they knew a little bit about how stores worked with their buyers. One website also recommended the personal shoppers keep up with the latest fashions by reading magazines, so I took great delight in creating my massive fashion magazine list, all of which exist in real life.

Last but not least, I remembered that susannamoodie had her uncle Arne character mention briefly the possibility of doing a magic act for Thorvald McGuire’s supper club, the Valhalla. No one had acted on that comment, so I decided Howard would do it. Aside from using susannamoodie’s delightful uncle Arne, it also provided Howard with the opportunity to get some time off. The Howard workaholic joke is fine, but I have discovered it is somewhat limiting, when I try to put Howard in a position to snark things. It took me forever to find a way to snark Mike’s monthly letter from the month of April, which has been crying out for a good snarking since the beginning of this month.

Tomorrow’s strip: John Patterson finally gets around to trading in his car. Since his September, 2005 monthly letter, John has been talking about this. The big day has finally come. It’s like seeing a movie preview more than a year in advance of the movie. When the movie finally comes out, it is a big letdown, because you already know what is going to happen. John trades his Bushwhacker convertible in for a Crevasse sedan. End of story. The only thing really different about this strip is that John said this already happened in the strip not once, but two times last month. Are they just picking up strips randomly and putting them together wherever they fall? Are they going to explain why John isn’t going for a station wagon to haul his train stuff, like he mentioned in his March monthly letter? Will there be any part of this story that is even the slightest bit interesting? For example, I got a new used car last year, and the salesperson did that thing they always do where supposedly they go off to talk to their boss to try to get a lower price for you and then make you wait and wait. I had 2 kids with me, that were extremely impatient, so we started to get up and leave. Then the salesman came rushing out from wherever he was to keep us from going. As boring as that story is, I will lay money it is more interesting than what Lynn is about to give us. Prove me wrong, Lynn. Prove me wrong.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter Snark

In today’s strip, Merrie gets a sugar high and hops. I had put Howard and Marjee in Toronto to snark the previously unsnarked Mike’s monthly letter, via Melville and Winnie Kelpfroth telling stories. Since the creative writing workshop thing has been taking off, I decided to include the recently introduced Kayla Kelpfroth and put her representing these angles:

1. She thinks Howard and Marjee Mahaha are together.
2. She admires a man who is a published writer (like Mike). I lifted this gem out of the creative writing forum Kayla post.
3. She is pushy enough to visit Melville and Winnie without warning, a characteristic I interpreted from the creative writing forum Kayla post attacking Elly Patterson.

Mike’s monthly letter had 2 parts. One where he talks in the most extravagant language about turning 30. I lifted his text here almost line for line except I tried to add a line or two related to his text but pushed it a little further than he was going. The second part was Mike and Weed’s St. Patrick’s Day reunion with his journalism school buddies, which went about as far as I have seen the letters go in pointing out Mike and Weed were more than roommates. The Kelpfroths did not see the reunion, but they could witness its aftermath. I decided to snark the ridiculous idea that a reunion would be alcohol free, with quotes taken from the monthly letter again.

I tried looking for Ojibway and Easter on the internet, and there wasn’t much of anything. However, I did find a website talking about delivering Easter baskets to low income kids and I thought that would be a good thing for the good constable to do over Easter.

Jeremy Jones went to church with Dirne with yet another service I lifted from the Cathedral of St. James in Toronto. During the course of the day, the_berserker did a post proclaiming that Duncan and susannamoodie’s Zandra Larson were officially together. I took great delight in posting the Eva reaction and Dirne’s bizarre comforting with fashion advice. It is very likely we will not read anything about Eva again until May 1, so Eva angst will be fun to play with until then.

Tomorrow’s strip: Gordon says, “Pattersons are great. Buy a Crevasse.”

Saturday, April 15, 2006

John Buys a Car Part I

Today we see John and Gordon chat. I think Dr. Patterson is finally getting ready to buy the car he has literally been talking about buying in his monthly letters since last September. I am convinced now that the only reason John and Elly buy cars is so they can somehow keep Gordon and Anthony included in the strip. Lynn is no longer clever enough to come up with other reasons like:

1. They get their teeth checked by Dr. Patterson, DDS.
2. They belong to the same civic or charitable organizations.
3. John and Elly check on their investment.

Those 3 simple things I thought up literally as I was typing it, but Lynn can't do that. Instead we must buy another car.

The things that changed with Gordon was that he was fatter and he has added a convenience store and he would like to redo the parts department and expand Anthony's office. I think somewhere along the road, the Lynnions must have forgotten Anthony was on paternity leave for a year, because back in Mike's December letter he mentions Anthony working at Gordon's and finding it necessary to hire someone else to handle the accounting work because managing Gordon's business and the accounting was proving to be too much for him. This implied Anthony was no longer on paternity leave, but in the strip we have never seen it. The last time we saw Anthony, he was still being paternal. The restaurant was not mentioned, nor has it been mentioned by anything but the signs by Mayes Midtown Motors last year. My guess is that they have dropped the restaurant in favour of the convenience store, but I don't know for sure. A restaurant was always an odd thing to have near a car dealership, but then again so is a convenience store. I expect it is just another indication that Gordon is constantly expanding not only in his waistline but in his business. For a 30-year-old man, he looks terrible.

I didn't do a lot with the characters today. The good constable remarked about what time means to the Ojibway, by virtue of language. Jeremy hid out, fearing another test drive. Howard snarked the strip alterations to Gordon, via his wife and kids.

Then after doing church things, the Mrs. and I took the kids out for dinner and to see the new Disney flick, "The Wild." I cannot recommend it to you. It is one of those films that is beautifully done with the animation, but the persons writing the script are of the belief, if you put a lot of eccentric characters together and drive funny lines a mile a minute that makes a good story. You have to have time to digest an eccentric character. You have to have time to hear a funny line for you to realize it is funny and react.

In any case, I got back and found qnjones was in the middle of a pretty dark comedy story where Thorvald wants to torch Mayes Midtown Motors story to get revenge on Gordon Mayes. qnjones left a nice note indicating where she wanted me to take it. It was a funny setup, but it was difficult to get Thorvald back into a sympathetic situation, considering he did actually seem to be serious about murdering Gordon and Anthony. qnjones requested the place be burned a little, but if Thorvald does that, even if Howard or Becky or Dr. Patterson try to stop him, then ultimately he is attempting murder. So, I put the fire-setting in the capable paws of Freyfaxi in order to keep Thorvald out of too much trouble.

Tomorrow's strip: Merrie has a sugar high from Easter candy. Lots of poorly drawn pictures of Merrie hopping. I put Howard in Toronto for this?

Friday, April 14, 2006

Elly Slideshow Part II or Elly Cleans Part IV

It was not really my day. Today is Good Friday, and as I tried to indicate indirectly with Jeremy’s post about the multiple worship services he was attending with Dirne, this is the time of year that is very busy for church musicians, even those with an amateur status, such as I. I lifted the list of services from The Cathedral of St. John inToronto, which is my model for The Cathedral of St. Damian in Milborough.

I bungled the good constable’s post by not reading carefully what aprilp_katje had written about where she had gotten her information from Elly this time. Fortunately, aprilp_katje caught the error and retconned it for me.

Then Howard did one of those “tie everything together” posts, where he related posts from aprilp_katje to the post in the writing workshop journal from greytail088 to qnjones’ post from yesterday involving the Enjo wedding that is not actually occurring. I checked in the archive for Enjos and Dawn appeared at the New Years Eve party 2005, when Liz busted up her leg, Brian is mentioned but not seen when Mike went to Japan for his Divala interview, and Carol appeared in one Sunday strip in which the dogs jump all over her. In any case, there was a case for Elly actually talking to Carol, so I leveraged off that to have Elly mention that Liz said Dawn was getting married to Carol. No one picked up on the Elly reference to how she got that information though. I was quite surprised, because I expected a reaction. But there were a lot of posts today from a variety of people, so it is easy to understand how it could be missed.

Finishing up the day was Jeremy’s mom’s reactions to the bizarre goings-on with Dirne’s off-beat, but very rules-driven family and the philosophy that governs their rules. The idea is that going to second base with a girl is sort of demystified if your girlfriend’s parents and your parents know that is what you’re doing and approve. I don’t know if this would work in real life. When I was a teenager, my mother disapproved of physical contact beyond hand-holding and kissing was to be strictly a private affair, not to be seen by others, a philosophy that was certainly not shared by my high school girlfriend, but was shared by my mother’s father, a Southern Baptist minister.

Tomorrow’s strip: Dr. Patterson is finally going to buy that car from an old, decrepit Gordon Mayes, in a story that appears to be continuing on to next Monday. Once again, the chronology of the strip is getting to me. John’s statement during grampa’s Jim’s birthday party about the Crevasse sedan and Mike’s statement about what John did during his Mexican vacation led me to believe the sale was already a done deal. After all when I bought a car last year, the whole thing was done in a matter of hours. But it appears that, like the sale of Lilliput’s before it, the purchase of the Crevasse sedan and the trading of the Bushwhacker is yet to come.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Elly Cleans Part III

Actually, Elly gets distracted from cleaning and starts looking through slides. aprilp_katje smartly played this as a journal entry and provided all of my characters an initial snark on peaking in journals and Elly’s motivation for leaving her journal out.

Then I launched into my usual lunchtime discussion and decided I would do an old, old joke about, “Is that a banana in your pants or are you just happy to see me?” except I substituted skateboard for banana and made it Gordie and Vicki. What happened next was quite delightful, as qnjones took the skateboard line and wrote up a bit with Gordie injuring himself on the skateboard. The other posters jumped in on this, and so did my characters of Jeremy and his girlfriend Dirne. qnjones went on a tangent with male impotence due to groin injury and so I decided to do a post with Dirne taking Jeremy to her house to have her dad inspect Jeremy for his ability. This pushed the boundaries of Dirne and her family’s excessiveness with respect to Dirne and her being able to marry and have children. I had originally written up a long post with Jeremy and Dirne’s dad going through the inspection but after writing it, it seemed too creepy to me. So I scratched that in favour of a much more ambiguous post, where it is pretty much up to your imagination what happened, only that whatever it was, was physically taxing to Jeremy.

qnjones did a number of funny Liz posts mentioning going to Dawn Enjo’s wedding, which is an event in which I would expect Liz to participate. We discovered Dawn was engaged by the time she appeared at the 2005 New Years’ Eve party and Liz’s letters do not say differently, so it is reasonable to assume she is still engaged. I decided to check how long Mike and Dee were engaged and it was, as I posted. New Years, 2000 to September, 2001. I proposed to my wife on Easter, 1991 and we got married June, 1992 and I still hear to this day how long an engagement that was. It was actually my fault the engagement was so long. I was particular about the places where I wanted the wedding to be and those places booked up over a year in advance. The difference between me and my wife, and Mike and Dee is that Mike and Dee did not appear to care to set a date after they got engaged. I have a pretty clear recollection, although I do not have an archive to back me up, that Dee kept stalling and stalling. But I may be getting the wedding mixed up with the engagement. I don’t know for sure.

Tomorrow’s strip: As I feared. It’s slide show time. At least they have mercy on April and don’t make her watch.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Elly Cleans Part II

We are unfortunately in an Elly Cleans arc, which is probably going to hit new lows in boredom as we go along. At least in today’s strip, Elly showed a flourish of energy and John had a reasonably decent rejoinder.

Constable Paul Wright would normally be difficult to snark, but for some reason, one of the running themes in the April monthly letters was cleaning. Elly, Deanna, and Liz all mentioned cleaning. In Elizabeth’s case, she mentioned that Paul’s place was very clean, and so this pegs Paul as a neatnik. This story arc allowed me to unload the Ojibwe dictionary and find all the words related to “clean.” As is usual in these cases, the availability of words with very particular definitions shows the very distinctive and different way the Ojibwe think than I do and most importantly than Elly does. I tried to have Paul remark on it in semi-humourous way, but I couldn’t get it to come out funny. The plain fact of the matter is, in the strip and in the monthly letters, Elizabeth is a slob, and the fact that the monthly letters mentioned Paul is neat, could be interpreted as a possibly source of conflict between the two of them. However, we have not seen any conflict between Paul and Liz, even when she ran off with another guy, so I don’t know if it is possible for Paul to get upset with Liz over anything. Given that, he just mentions that Liz is perhaps not as clean as her mother. I have also been going with the idea that Paul really liked Elly during his one visit with her. I would hope it would allow the story of his going to Mtigwaki based on seeing her photo once less creepy and more like, if this girl looks like that and is as nice a person as her mother, then she is worth meeting.

Howard took aprilp_katje’s snark on Moira and the mysterious moving date of Elly’s retirement and provided an explanation as to why they had the dinner at the Kabuki House, hopefully enhancing aprilp_katje’s explanation. Then qnjones threw me for a loop with her Howard interrupts Drew and Becky skinny-dipping story. She had Howard quote Dirne Aufkleber, had Howard pinky swear Becky and had Howard upset with Becky for trying to go to third base – 3 things that Howard has never done before. I decided to work them into the character by making Howard fear Becky was going all the way with Drew Fontaine. And to be perfectly honest, if I were a high school boy in a heated pool naked with my high school girlfriend, I would have been shooting to go further than 3rd base, so this made sense to me. One of the things I like best about posting with qnjones is these unexpected challenges. She’s great.

Jeremy Jones’s storyline was mainly his increased involvement with susannamoodie's Zandra Larson / the_berserker's Duncan Anderson MacBeth story and including aprilp_katje in it posting as April. So, I wrote up some school gossip about Zandra and Duncan and discussed with April the possibilities of what could be done with getting her into it. I like to involve April in my stories, if possible, since she is the lynchpin of the whole Blog.

Tomorrow’s strip: Elly finds a slide projector. I predict pictures of button nose April are going to surface in coming strips. Lynn Johnston so much prefers that April to the modern one, I must say I should not be surprised Elly would find some memorabilia that would allow Lynn to draw button-nose April once again.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Elly Cleans Part I

I was so hoping that I wouldn’t be putting Part #s on that heading, but as I feared, we are entering an “Elly cleans” arc. Hopefully it won’t last longer than this week.

The beginning of the day, my characters mainly snarked today’s strip and pointed out that Elly’s plans for the future did not include April, for which we may be eternally grateful. The lunchtime snark with Eva, Jeremy and Shannon was basically a snark on the words of the strip and relating it to having been included for whatever panels they were included last week. It wasn’t terribly funny, but it was a different kind of self-awareness than I have done before with the characters, where they seem to be aware when the storyline touched them, however briefly.

greytail088 came on-line as Vicki Simone and pushed Jeremy into snarking hover cars. It was short, but also my favourite lines to write today. Then it was off to the pharmacy with Howard and Becky to make fun of Deanna Patterson, pharmacist. The main areas of snark were on how, in the monthly letters, Deanna sounds like she is much more interested in the part of the store she is not in, than the one she is in. She mentions drugs rarely, but harps on things like the Easter chocolate. In the monthly letter, she was a little obsessive about chocolate and so the snark was pretty simple to turn Dee into a major chocoholic using direct monthly letter quotes.

Last, but not least was Jeremy’s date with Dirne making him dinner. It is a simple fact of married living that I have learned as a husband, when to lie and when not to lie. My wife judges whether or not I liked food she made not by whether or not I eat it, but whether or not I take seconds. However, if she asks, I always say it was good. In the boyfriend / girlfriend stage, this was much more crucial than in married life. You had to like what she made and give her physical proof (eating it with a smile on your face), or your relationship was over. Things may have changed since my dating days, but I have seen more than one relationship end (not just mine) over this very crucial event. So, I decided this would be the point where Jeremy’s rigourous truth-telling would run afoul of Dirne’s poor cooking skills.

However, fellow April’s Real Bloggers, do not go on a tangent and presume Jeremy’s relationship with Dirne is over. Dirne was originally intended to be a one-note joke about a girl obsessed with designer clothes. I have been very surprised at how much stuff my fellow bloggers have thrown her direction. I may be misinterpreting this, but she appears to be a character other characters like to and can easily play off of. Personally I have enjoyed snarking For Better or For Worse from her designer clothes perspective. So, I think I will keep her around for awhile. aprilp_katje has posted as Dirne a few times and I just loved it. Frankly, I know very little about women’s designer clothes. So, let me make it official. I don’t mind at all if any one of you wants to drop in a post or posts as Dirne. I think it is quite fun to write as her.

Tomorrow’s strip: It is as if they took a group of trained monkeys and asked them to draw April in this strip. It is astoundingly inconsistent from panel to panel. Can the Lynnions not see this? It has moved from snarkably bad to laughably bad. On the other hand, the dialogue is actually pretty good for For Better or For Worse. I envision April frantically trying to lock up her stuff to save it from Elly the cleaning foob.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Falling off the Monthly Snark Wagon

This month, more than any others that I can remember, the monthly letters are out of synch with the strip. We had to deal with the Eva not having practiced yet with the band or meeting Duncan and today, we are dealing with Lilliputs not actually being sold, even though the monthly letter said it was a done deal. In tomorrow’s strip, Elly finally talks about beginning the basement cleaning mentioned 1 ½ weeks ago in the monthly letter. If this trend continues, we can expect to see the whole Elly cleaning and training April to cook and sew arc in the coming weeks. Given that, I will have to be more cautious with the information presented in the monthly letters. We cannot presume it has already happened or won't be seen in the strip.

Today, qnjones fired off an excellent and most revealing post from Liz, so it became necessary for Constable Paul Wright not to read it. I came up with the excuse, Liz tells him not to read the Real Blog comments, and that does the good constable in for the day.

qnjones also did a marvelous job of snarking today’s strip the day before and created a “Gerald gets repulsive” storyline in order to make himself less attractive and avoid his inevitable marriage to April. Then aprilp_katje mentioned Jeremy was wearing designer shoes chosen by his girlfriend Dirne Aufkleber. I decided to blend the two stories together. Where Gerald was being made more repulsive to not attract April against his will, Dirne believes that April is so fashion inept; a designer shoe Jeremy will repulse her. Dirne is wrong, of course. Our April is fashion-conscious, even if her clothing choices do not confirm this. The story ran into Gerald being sequestered in his attic and a rescue story that unfortunately occurred without aprilp_katje participating. It was probably too late in the evening for her. Won’t she be surprised when she wakes up and finds out what her character was doing while she was sleeping?

Howard took the dogs for a walk and snarked the Pets Letter part involving Elly and walking the dogs for exercise and also the whole hug thing with Moira Kinney in today’s strip. As I was going back through the strips in the archive looking for Elly hugs, I realized Elly has been huggy for the whole “I’m selling my store” storyline. Moira got the “We’re holding each other up” hug at the beginning of this story. So, it is appropriate for Elly to give Moira a hug at the end of the story. Considering the relationship between Moira and Elly over the years, the hugs made little sense, but visually, they were definite bookend hugs on this story.

Tomorrow's strip: The car hovers and Elly ponders the future. What is there to snark about that?

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Ticka-Tappa Monster

Palm Sunday had us very busy today. The whole family and the kids were involved in some way, 4 worship services. It will just be worse next Sunday on Easter. It took a long time to finally get home and write up some snark. This was one of those days when I felt I was going to be lucky to get in one snark for each of my characters, and that was pretty much the case.

aprilp_katje handed me the “The Ticka-Tappa Monster” as a storyline for Howard to tell from the perspective of his aunt Winnie Kelpfroth, who lives underneath Mike and Deanna. I suppose I have done so many snarks of the smallest Pattersons using Winnie Kelpfroth, it was obviously where I was going to go to snark today’s strip. Sadly, I am getting predictable in my snarking.

I had planned to do a story involving Writer Robin (Robin Patterson’s hero name) getting a new superpower to ignore anything said to him unless it involved food. Instead I worked that into the weakness of The Ticka-Tappa Monster that allowed it to be defeated. It worked either way, but The Ticka-Tappa Monster allowed me to add an element of helplessness on the part of the kids to get attention from their father. Thanks to aprilp_katje for the suggestion.

Constable Paul Wright continued his snark of the Liz monthly letter by essentially saying he barely got to see Liz during his visit with her. Given the statements made by Liz in her monthly letters this seemed a reasonable outcome. By the way, I did research Prozac for cats, and I did not find one authoritative website that said it was a bad thing. Instead they all said they preferred it to other anti-depressant cat drugs. I learn so much doing this thing.

Jeremy Jones got handed a number of things by a variety of sources. aprilp_katje posted as Dirne Aufkleber and talked about getting instructional DVDs for Jeremy. qnjones posted as Gerald and mentioned Dirne disapproving of Elly’s clothing being the same style and colour for several strips now. Then susannamoodie and the_berserker did a post sequence involving Duncan and Zandra Larson involving Zandra and a costume Dirne picked out for her. Now that I think about it, it was Dirne who was handed things.

I managed to work all those in together, plus got a chance to snark Elly Patterson and her view toward Lilliputs changes. At the time, I did not realize tomorrow’s strip would be Elly getting rid of Lilliputs finally. But it still fit OK, since both the April monthly letters and the strip where Michael talks about Elly’s trip to Mexico says that the sale of Lilliputs was already finalized. Tomorrow’s strip is therefore a celebratory dinner. If all goes well, they will move to another subject. However, if all does not go well, then we will have a week of “Elly reminisces about Lilliputs.”

Saturday, April 08, 2006

The Return of Shannon Part II

Today’s strip was a little depressing, not only because I had misread Shannon’s apartment as being real, but because Lynn Johnston seems to have no idea having Shannon mention sanity raises all kinds of issues. My boy has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and one of the big issues he has is withdrawing from what is going on around him and not interacting with the other kids or paying attention in class. When Shannon said she did this and was praised as a genius by April for doing this, my initial thought was, “Someone really hates Shannon to put this kind of coping mechanism on her. No wonder Shannon does not have any friends.” So, I opted to make it an imaginary apartment sexual fantasy and brought Howard and his shamp-Ohs directly into contact with Shannon for the purpose of retconning what I thought was very poorly done on the part of the strip.

Constable Paul Wright is visiting Elizabeth Patterson. I noticed in the April monthly letters, that Elizabeth and John talking about Elizabeth started distancing themselves from Paul and from Mtigwaki. Elizabeth went to visit Paul at his place and the descriptions she came back with were very clinical. She also had supper with Paul’s uncle and it could have been the description of a dinner with any generic Ojibwe family. But the things I noticed in particular, was Elizabeth insistence that Paul and she pretend they were not interested in each other. He cooks while she marks papers. He has to go visit his Mtigwaki family when he is in Mtigwaki. The biggest thing in the letter is that Liz does not have a single observation of Paul that is a compliment to Paul. This is a stark contrast to the previous letters. Then John Patterson’s comments basically point out that Liz is coming back because the novelty of teaching in the Northwest has worn off. All these things spell doom for the Liz-Paul relationship. So, I have been playing up all these aspects during his visit to Liz. qnjones brought back the book Cats For Total Morons Like You and Liz had Paul read it. The excerpt from the book was pretty fun to write.

Tomorrow’s strip: Artists respond to food, or Mike pretends to not hear his wife. This will be difficult to snark.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Shannon returns Part I

Today I went on a tangent of actually believing Shannon had an apartment. I am feeling pretty stupid. I guess I should have been more suspicious of that. So, I have some retconning to do tomorrow on Shannon’s made up apartment. That and the fact that Shannon appears to be worried about her sanity in tomorrow’s strip.

The good constable will be headed to Mtigwaki tomorrow for the excitement of Shiimsa and Prozac. Jeremy will probably go on a date somewhere.

Howard gave a cooking lesson to April in which I attempted to snark all the food-related Foob stuff I could find, which required going through all the Shannon strips from last year. The reference to a crock pot came from the monthly letters in which April complained about having to do the vegetables for some stew. I was surprised at how many times cookies and soup were mentioned in the monthly letters.

Me personally, it is the Spring Festival at my boy’s school, so I will gone most of the day dealing with that.

Becky Returns

Today in FBoFW, Becky returns to give April a CD and tell her what’s going on in her life. Becky is remarkably friendly to April, despite the fact that April is nearly completely unresponsive except for “Hi, Becky.” I forgot to snark this but, Becky greets April with an exclamation point, and April responds with a period. I honestly don’t know why Becky keeps trying to be friends with April, when she has friends willing to do schoolwork for her.

Constable Paul Wright took the opportunity to snark through Liz, Ojibway attendance problems, Liz’s growing dissatisfaction with Mtigwaki and Paul, in general, which was evident in the monthly letters. The more I think about the possibility of Liz moving back to southern Ontario, the more I think Paul Wright might not be the final guy with Liz.

Jeremy Jones was excited to be mentioned in the strip again, which I suppose if it goes like it did last fall, means there is a later April-in-school strip coming in which she encounters Jeremy and Becky again, and we have to be reminded that there is a Jeremy. I am looking forward to my character’s reappearance.

I had Jeremy play off of susannamoodie’s Zandra Larson post involving Jeremy’s girlfriend Dirne. That was fun. I did a post as Dirne today so I could do a comparison contrast between Jeremy and Dirne in which they were at lunch together, but maintaining conversations with other people. The dual post with Zandra and Jeremy felt the same way, or at least that is the way I was trying to have it go.

Tomorrow’s strip: As predicted, Shannon appears and starts talking about something going on her life as April barely responds. With the advent of Eva, Shannon appears to be less likely to become April’s new best friend. However, considering in the strip, Eva has immediately fallen for Duncan, she may be too busy with him to be April’s best friend. All I really know for sure is I can’t trust the monthly letters to keep these things straight any more.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Eva Saves the Band. Actually Duncan Does

In today’s strip, we see everyone admit that Eva has the necessary vocal chops and dance moves to be a member of 4-Evah, or whatever the new group name will be. Interestingly enough, it is Duncan who moves things along and sidesteps each one of April’s complaints about Eva. I have no explanation for Eva’s odd smirking except perhaps she expected her beauty to get her in. I cannot tell whether Lynn wants her to appear in love with Duncan at the outset, or simply to be a girl who knows how to use her looks to get what she wants. I expect it is the “in love” part, because I cannot see April in a relationship with a “my beauty opens all doors” kind of girl. I have known a few girls like that in my life, and in my limited experience, less attractive girls hate them with a passion. Considering the lengths to which Lynn has indirectly criticized Becky for her material possessions and boorish behaviour, I cannot see her condoning the replacement Becky for doing the same thing.

Today the good constable posted some snark on the Liz monthly letter. This time, he commented on Liz’s apparent obsession with having a regularly scheduled phone call and the paranoia that occurs when Paul does not call on time. I know Liz says in the letter, it could be her also not calling on time, but we all know she is really talking about Paul’s tardiness. I also had a good time looking up pheromone sprays for cats on the internet, plus suggestions of what do when cats eat your plants. From my research, it appeared the two issues were unrelated. I have not had cats for a long time (the wife and my boy have terrible cat allergies), but when I did, they were all outdoor cats, so these issues never came up. I do not know if there is some factual basis in what Liz said, or if my research is correct. Nevertheless, I opted to snark as if my research was correct.

Jeremy Jones took aprilp_katje’s lead and commented on Eva’s changing appearance. I have been enjoying Jeremy, Eva and Shannon’s lunches together, but now that Eva has been officially established as April’s friend and in love with Duncan, I expect a lunchtime strip with April and Eva will be coming soon.

Howard continued his anti-teen adventures at the Valhalla, pulling in yet more monthly letter anti-teen quotes. I realized as I was looking for these, it seems to be an overall theme for quite a few of the letters.

Tomorrow’s strip: Much to my surprise, we jump away from the band auditions and onto a new portrayal of Becky. April’s Real Blog Becky is actually not too far away from Becky of the strip. Thorvald is Becky’s agent. Thorvald is introducing her to music people at the Valhalla supper club. Plus we did have Becky cut a promotional CD what seems like months ago. And… excitement of excitement, a Jeremy Jones’ quote which is pretty much what ARB Jeremy would say about Becky. The only thing that doesn’t mesh is the Becky getting academic help from other girls, whom Becky declares as her new friends. In ARB, we have established Becky has having overcome her academic difficulties. Back to the drawing board on that one.

The frightening part about tomorrow's strip is that what is happening is exactly what was declared in John's Letter, August 2005. I quote:

It's unfortunate that Becky is choosing to off with stars in her eyes and will be missing the most important part of life: friendship. So, you can only wish her luck, knowing that if she does make it, she will likely not have a happy life. Sometimes it's a blessing to not be too good or too driven to succeed in something that you love, because such ambition takes all the fun out of it. Being a professional musician is a difficult life. Having a normal life, surrounded by friends and family and enjoying music as a hobby or as a passion is a lot more fun. That's an opinion from someone who gave up piano after the fourth lesson. I told April to let the hurt go. That Becky is young and selfish and will need her friends more than ever. Once you "go public", it's hard to tell who likes you for yourself or for what you can do. I said to leave the door open and wait for Becky to come back. She will!

It will be depressing to see this life lesson for Becky play out, but you know it will go just the way John said it. Normally I would say this is a long lead time for a story, however, Lynn jumped from introducing Eva in November to her reappearance in April, so you can tell there is no sense of story-telling from a daily comic strip reader perspective. Lynn is doing this strip as if it were purely a graphic novel now and daily strip readers be damned.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Eva and Duncan Sitting In A Tree

Today’s strip. Did I do anything with today’s strip? Not really. I don’t know exactly how it’s going to end, so I steered away from referencing the activities, except to have Jeremy give reasons why he wasn’t there for the jamming events of the strip. In combination with tomorrow’s strip, it is really going in reverse chronological order. I was sort of joking when I mentioned that yesterday. Today I am not.

The new persons in the band are obviously going to be the big, sunglasses and beret-wearing guy and his girlfriend who is of some ethnic background. I have no idea what from the Sunday colour strip. When they arrive, I will be forced to do another retcon on having designated them as Vicki and Gordie. In actual chronological sequence we have:

1. 4-Evah jams and stinks (not shown)
2. Somehow April learns Eva can sing (not shown)
3. April finds out Eva does not play keyboards and for reasons beyond my understanding, has it in her head, they have to have someone play keyboards and they have to have only 4 members. This part doesn’t make any sense, but I will have to accept it as a part of April’s deranged reasoning (not shown).
4. April complains to grampa Jim about items #1-3. (Last Thursday)
5. Repeat item #1 for no apparent reason. (Monday)
6. Eva auditions and the band decides to deal with all the problems of item #3. (Tuesday, Wednesday)
7. New band members audition and we find out their names (I predict Thursday – Saturday)
8. April goes shopping with Eva before her birthday (Mentioned in April monthly letter, even though nothing is mentioned about the band or her new bandmates.)
9. April goes with all her bandmates to her birthday bash (Last Sunday).

In any case, it appears that contrary to a certain Elly monthly letter, Eva is not going to have any commitment problems with Duncan. They are practically dating. I have no idea how the_berserker and susannamoodie are going to handle this. I liked the idea of Duncan and Zandra Larson having a romance, but it does directly conflict with the direction the strip is going. Maybe susannamoodie can take over Eva.

My other problem has to do with interpreting the mysterious hints dropped in John Patterson’s April monthly letter with respect to Elizabeth. The implication is that Elizabeth will no longer be in Mtigwaki after this year and will be coming south. They have already set up her replacement in the strip and Jesse Mukwa has anointed her in his own way. I have no idea how it will work out with Constable Paul Wright. The strip said he was applying for transfer to Spruce Narrows to be closer to Liz, but what good is that, if she leaves in June to go back to the south permanently? I know Lynn plays fast and loose with his job and his ability to transfer, but does this mean that in June, he transfers to Toronto to be close to Lynn? Or does it mean he gives up his constable career to follow her? Or (worst case possible) is the good constable history in favour of Anthony? I have no idea.

As for my posts today. I had Jeremy snark the startling number of inconsistencies in John’s monthly letter versus his previous monthly letters. aprilp_katje wrote a number of posts as Jeremy's girlfriend, Dirne. It was quite delightful to see a character I had made up take on a life of its own. That was a first for me.

I had the good constable tell the story of Liz and Paul visiting his uncle. Since Liz said they were Ojibwe, I presumed they were from his mother’s side and I also presumed that their “teasing” was not all that good-natured (which Liz actually hinted in the monthly letter) and touched on the issue of Paul having a white girlfriend, by snarking on Liz’s odd story about doing beadwork.

Last was Howard snarking the teenager fear in the old people of Milborough. I hesitated to bring back the violent aspect of Howard, because I have played him very effeminate and gentle lately, but I thought it could work if it was tempered with a lot of humourous lines. It was also a good explanation as to why Howard has not posted lately. The real reason he hasn’t posted is because I have been very busy at work and home, and doing all 3 of my characters proved to be too much for me to pull off.

A note to qnjones. I hope your speech went well. I was thinking about you.

Monday, April 03, 2006

April Monthly Letters

I have some retconning to do. I did this whole plot with Constable Paul Wright visiting Liz over March break and now the monthly letters come out and I find I was wrong. She visited him. That was a surprise considering she had made a big deal about how she couldn’t visit him in the last monthly letter. That should be easy to retcon however, and possibly quite enjoyable since she has left plenty of room for snarking with her comments about being teased.

However, the daily strip has screwed me over as far as Eva goes. Tomorrow’s strip has Eva just now meeting the band and has Duncan just now looking at Eva romantically. This wouldn’t even be necessary if the Lynnions abided even remotely by their monthly letters which had Duncan interested in Eva back in November, or for that matter even last week’s strip from which it could be inferred from April’s conversation with grandpa Jim that the band had already jammed together, already was determined to be toast, and already had Eva sing with them and had the problem with her not playing keyboard raised. I can sort of understand the Sunday colour strips being off with the daily strips since the lead time on them is different, but it is almost like they are running the daily strips in reverse chronological order.

Given that time incongruity, aprilp_katje could set this conversation about the band in the past, or write up something about how Gerald doesn’t want Eva to attend rehearsals even though she already has. Gerald has had control issues with the band before with Becky, and that could play out realistically. The other major issue is that susannamoodie and the_berserker have been building slowly to a Duncan Anderson– Zandra Larson romance, and this sequence in the strip would totally screw that up. I tried to lay the ground work in my Jeremy post, how it might not screw it up, and still allow Duncan to be interested in Eva…sort of, while still continuing after Zandra. All of these things are not up to me, so I will let the person posting for those characters sort it out and try to follow their lead on these stories. Yes. I am wimping out.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

April’s Birthday Party

After writing the massive birthday snark for Jeremy yesterday, I was pretty tired. Too tired to do the Howard perspective and I was not sure it was necessary, because Jeremy covered it pretty well, I thought. The interesting thing about those kind of snarks is that I kind of write it out and then I think, well who was there and what would they think about what just happened? Then I go through individual story areas and add remarks from the characters. There were a lot of people there.

The most fun was researching Bloodbeast movies and finding an actual Norse reference to the bloodbeast, which fit perfectly with Gerald and Thorvald’s Viking obsession.

This morning I was inspired by the most recent “happiness” survey which came to the conclusion if you were married, had children and went to church; you were the most likely to be happy. I thought I would take that into Dirne territory and had her drag Jeremy to church and lunch afterwards. Where I grew up in North Carolina, if a girl’s boyfriend did church and Sunday lunch with her family, it was pretty serious. I don’t know if Canada has similar experiences. For the church, I picked the name of a very old church in Toronto and changed the saint name from Matthew to St. Damian, the patron saint of doctors. I looked for a patron saint of pastries, but I don’t think there is one.

Tomorrow’s strip: I don’t know what to think. Eva was reintroduced last week as a girl who sings with 4-Evah in April’s conversation with grandpa Jim, but the band is practicing without her and the microphone is pointed at Gerald as if he is the singer, although he is not singing. However, given the Sunday colour strip, Eva is about to be reintroduced and a Duncan / Eva relationship started. That should make the_berserker happy. NOT!

The implication from the strip and April’s comments is that Becky did really carry the band with her voice and her keyboard. One of the amazing things about this strip is that it goes way out its way to develop sympathy for certain characters and then throws it in your face.

For example. Evil Thérèse. First she is portrayed as unnecessarily jealous of Liz around Anthony. Then we are shown Anthony really is still interested in Liz and her jealousy was justified. Now, after literally months of saying how good April is on the guitar and how Becky’s stuff sounds like rap, we learn 4-Evah was really a one-woman show and she was probably right to quit them. It is very confusing

We Snark No Strip Before It's Time

Fellow April's Real Bloggers. I got done with the chess tournament. My boy did not qualify for the state chess competition, which he was sad about, but not too bad. When we got home, we pickedup the Mrs. and the girl and went to see Ice Age 2: The Meltdown. It made for a late arrival on the post. It was an odd situation to be in, because in order to snark April's Birthday Party properly, you have to know the strip coming on Sunday. Fortunately for me, by the time I got the kids to bed, the next day's strip was posted up. I tried to incorporate it and the comments from the other posters into my Jeremy post.

Tomorrow's strip: It will be tricky to find other thing to snark on an already-snarked trip.