Tuesday, October 31, 2006


I got to spend the evening walking the kiddies around. At ages 8 and 11, they whipped through the neighbourhood with extreme ease, as opposed to past years, when they would quit shortly into it. When I was 10 years old, my mother declared that to be my last Halloween for trick-or-treating, but judging from the number of teenagers I saw on the streets, they apparently do not follow my mother’s rules in Tucson. Me either, since my boy went at age 11. Judging from the lack of participation on April’s Real Blog today, I must presume most of the usual posters were busy with Halloween preparations also.

One thing we did miss in For Better or For Worse was the annual trick-or-treating with children episode with Robin and Merrie. Since the strip is supposedly done in September, 2007, then what this means is that we never got to see Merrie happily trick-or-treating without some disaster occurring.

Today in For Better or For Worse, we get to see 4Evah&Eva perform with Uncle Phil, their secret weapon. And we have evil Becky acknowledge their ability, or rather Phil’s ability. This will lead in to tomorrow’s strip where Becky suffers humiliation because her sound equipment stops working. This, gentlemen, is why we do sound checks before performances.

Since Jeremy Jones has been pitched as Rebecca’s sound man, and I have been doing April’s Real Blog posting to that effect, it makes me think we might be getting ready for Jeremy’s first appearance this year. It is very difficult for me to say, because although Becky has been giving lip service to Jeremy, we have not see Jeremy. Becky’s sycophants have been almost entirely homely and nerdy girls. I have high hopes for Jeremy, particularly since I have been doing a running joke on Jeremy looking 40 for a good year now, and I am curious if Lynn will continue with that, or have Jeremy look his age.

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Hose-a-phone

Someone dropped a comment to April’s Real Blog for the hose-a-phone website a few days ago, and I thought I would check it out. Among other things on there is a link to a Dr. Demento broadcast featuring a jazz piece actually written for hose-a-phone. I listened to it and it basically sounded like a trumpet, except the pitch content was limited to jumping intervals and not notes next to each other in a scale, which the valves would allow a trumpeter with a trumpet to do. When Uncle Phil plays the hose-a-phone with 4Evah&Eva, he is basically going to sound like a professional jazz trumpeter. In tomorrow’s strip, when Becky makes her comment about 4Evah&Eva being too good, it should be in reference to Phil’s performance. Neither Becky nor her band members are going to be able to match Phil’s 3 decades of professional trumpetry. The hose-a-phone used by Uncle Phil is a novelty act, and April’s point is that their music is fun, but the simple fact of the matter is that April has brought in a ringer. If this were a real competition, I would be crying foul. What you have then is:

1. Becky leaves for 4Evah, because the band is not good enough for her, and she wants a career on her own.
2. Becky gets her career, but loses April’s friendship, because she considers Becky’s comments on 4Evah’s abilities to be a personal insult.
3. April, Gerald, and Duncan rehearse and after declaring they stink without Becky, they bring in Luis and Eva and rename the band.
4. Rehearsing together, they are making music again.
5. A week before the Gym Jam, 4Evah&Eva decide they sound like crud, indicating that April, Gerald, and/or Duncan have managed to bring Luis and Eva down to their level, and adding even more justification for Becky’s departure.
6. Using the same tactic as she did when she added Luis and Eva, April adds Uncle Phil to the band to improve the sound and makes a favorable impression on Becky.

Moral of the story: 4Evah sucked and it was good for Becky to leave. If April adds quality people to her band, then the band will improve to be good. Yes, that’s the way to show Becky she shouldn’t have left.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Darker Side of Paul

Today on For Better or For Worse, what I would consider to be a pretty good strip considering the quality of the strip these days. Elly and John are having fun for most of the strip and look pretty goofy. I was so busy today. I sang one service at the church. The kids sang 2 other different services with their kids choir. Then my daughter went to a Halloween party and had yet another church activity during the evening. I was going to do more posting, but I could only squeeze in Constable Paul Wright’s post. I was going to go with the minors shouldn’t be drinking story that qnjones as Liz has pointed out with her side story of April and Liz drinking together, when I discovered to my surprise that in Canada, minors are allowed to drink in their own homes with adult supervision. So, in order to reinforce the good constable’s opinion on the matter, I hunted up the Ojibway statistics for youth alcoholism and it was shocking to me how bad it is. So, I used that for Paul’s post, even though it was not very funny. Sometimes, I get in the mood just to make Paul informative, as a sort of character-building exercise. It is my opinion that Paul would make a stand against drinking as a part of his Ontario Provincial Police and Ojibway background.

Tomorrow’s strip: As predicted, “Fun” vs. “Quality”. The first strip out in this sequence and it is fulfilling my desire for snarkable awfulness already. I really hope Jeremy Jones makes an appearance though. He is overdue for one.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Fun Will Win

The Boy Scouts went to the Copperstate Fly-In and saw a lot of small planes, many of which were replicas from planes of days gone by. The Scoutmaster also flew his Lancair III and the boys got to climb around on the insides. Then after that, my kids did a Halloween party at the church and that was the day.

My 2 posts were one from Michael Patterson and one from Constable Paul Wright, both of whom have been consistently picked by outside ARB reviewers as their favourite characters whom I regularly post. I have begun to feel an obligation to write for these characters in order to satisfy the public demand, and they are fun to write.

With Constable Paul Wright, I thought it would be good to snark April for a change, since aprilp_katje did not amend any of April’s behaviour today in her Blog entry. I decided to have the good Constable completely side with April’s anti-Becky stance by virtue of Elizabeth explaining the whole Becky thing to him. When I went back to the John monthly letter where the Patterson opinion on musicians was expressed, I suddenly realized exactly what direction the ridiculous instrument Uncle Phil created is going to take this sequence, i.e. April has fun with music, Becky does not. If John’s predictions are going to come true, then this is exactly what will happen to give Becky her comeuppance.

Michael simply recounted his own history when it comes to giving a villain his/her comeuppance and we should expect the same for April, if Lynn is even a little consistent. I predict that 4Evah&Eva will get some performance dates because of what happens during the Gym Jam.

Tomorrow’s strip: There is so much cross-dressing, I seriously considered the possibility of writing up this strip from Howard’s perspective as if John and Elly went to a Halloween party he was throwing. However, I couldn’t make the Becky presence in the strip work. qnjones’ Becky would not tolerate John and Elly at a party where she would expect to be present. Besides, I expect aprilp_katje already wrote up her Blog entry sometime Saturday afternoon.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Showdown Begins

For Better or For Worse is really confusing me. April and Gerald have so much Becky hate going, I really wish Lynn would give me something on the part of Becky to dislike along with them. I’m sorry, Lynn, but having big hair and talking about 4Evah&Eva opening for your band as a sign of condescension is not cutting it for me. In tomorrow’s strip I saw the Flexible, Valveless, Hose-a-Phonium; and I was less dumbstruck by that (since it was a pretty blatant P.D.Q. Bach ripoff) than April referring to it as a secret weapon. April really thinks of the school concert as a war between 4Evah&Eva and Rebccah. Moreover, she thinks that this unpitched noisemaker is somehow going to turn 4Evah&Eva into a super band from a cruddy band. I am confused because the characters are acting even more irrationally than usual; but on the other hand, I can’t wait. The strip will be so gloriously awful. We will get to see Lynn Johnston portraying teenagers so far removed from reality that she will set new heights of out-of-touchedness never seen before in this strip. The snark will flow freely and we will feast upon it. Elevate April Patterson to new undeserved levels of greatness thanks to the Flexible, Valveless, Hose-a-Phonium, which will make Michael Patterson’s ludicrous Sheilaugh prose seem sensible and well-written in comparison. Oh, Lynn Johnston, I think you are going to set new lows on this strip next week, and I can hardly wait.

As for me personally tomorrow, I will off with the Boy Scouts once again, so have fun without me.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Jilly Boel and the Hassles

Today in For Better or For Worse, I tried to make it a day of keying off the word “hassle,” but I couldn’t quite get it to work out into anything funny, aside from having a lot of characters use the word. Ultimately, I was trying to work it around to have Becky and Howard visit my Billy Joel-like character, Jilly Boel, so I could mention that one of his old groups before he made it big was called The Hassles, but when it came right down to it, I realized it was far too obscure a reference to be funny. My sisters have loved Billy Joel ever since they were little, and so when I was a young lad, I took a particular delight in finding old recordings of him that they in their youth could not obtain. So, I have a fond memory of Billy Joel’s old group The Hassles. In any case, I thought it would be fun to introduce a character, who in real life is very similar to Becky, insomuch as Alexa Ray Joel (my version Jalexis Raye Boel) who is a young performer who writes virtually all of her own music, and is supported to a certain degree by her father, although as I understand it, Billy Joel is not managing her career.

I am sure Lynn Johnston means Becky to be more like the Duff girls with their career being managed by their mother, or like the Simpson girls being managed by their father, and presumably of a similar quality of music-making, but we will see that when we finally get to see the audience reaction to the Gym / Jam. My guess is that 4Evah&Eva thinks they sound like crud, while Uncle Phil thinks they sound good, is supposed to be an indication that they are actually good, but are humble about it. Then with Becky, she will actually be bad, but think she is good. So it will be a lesson in humility, is my guess. It’s hard to say, since April has already said in her monthly letter that Becky is a good performer. As for April’s Real Blog Becky, I prefer her to be associated with someone of a quality as Alexa Ray Joel, than Duffs or Simpsons. As for the contests of strength, my boy got to do Tug of War when he participated in the Boy Scout Camporee and it used to be an Olympic sport, a long time ago. So, I wanted to include it.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Eva the Aggressor

Today in For Better or For Worse, Lynn Johnston seems to be continuing with the development of the character of Eva Abuya as being fairly aggressive and abrasive. Initially she appeared to be the standard Pattersonian sycophant, overly praising April’s hairclip and shoes. Then she appeared as a potential Duncan love interest. Then we had the infamous boys and cars and cell phones are like cowboys and horses and gunfights analogy, with the line about punching people out. Then we had the inexplicable Becky hate going, presumably because Becky was Eva’s former best friend. Follow this up with the conversation she had with April about her grandpa, where she left April running away from her in tears. Then she jumps all over Gerald for making a suggestion to improve their band, which it is revealed in tomorrow’s strip, sounds like crud. When you take it all into consideration, it seems like Eva is a rather unpleasant girl to be around.

Lynn Johnston also seems to be continuing with the “Luis has no personality” method of writing his character. I enjoyed the fact that he and April were standing very close together, and tried to make something of that, based on the hot-blooded Latino character with which qnjones imbued him shortly after he first appeared.

Tomorrow’s strip: Phil soon will be to the rescue as the band stops doing the thing that usually helps a band get better, i.e. practice.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Busy, Busy, Busy

I was busy at work today, and so the number of posts I wrote for April's Real Blog was limited to 2 and done late in the day. I had hoped other ARB members would carry the load, but it looks like they were busy also.

Tomorrow's strip: The Gym / Jam looms ahead. I can't wait. I hope JeremyJones shows up.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Elly and Phil visit. Iris stays.

aprilp_katje's Blog entry confused me today, because she said that today's strip was a continuation of the strip from last Saturday. I thought it was a new day, because Iris' outfit changed. However, I will admit, Phil's clothes did not change, so it could have been the same day. It was a pretty dull day for the strip, with Elly and Phil looking more like lovers than brother and sister looking at their sleeping father. It did a Dagwood Bumstead post, because I found a Dagwood sleeping strip to reference. Try as I might, I couldn't find a Garfield sleeping strip to reference.

Thank goodness, qnjones jumped all over my Michael Patterson post mentioning his book. That was an excellent diversion.

To summarize: Elly and Phil stand around and watch their father sleep. Then tomorrow they leave and talk about realty. Shoot me now.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Reading Thought Balloons

Today’s For Better or For Worse was actually pretty nice. Not having strained humour in it really helps. The characters I write mainly concentrated on including reading thought balloons or mind-reading or hugging in their postings. Only Jeremy Jones really snarked the strip by the use of his unusual dreams, involving himself in the role of Grandpa Jim and April in the role of Iris. My posts today were a little risqué. Jeremy’s dream stopped just short of saying he was having a sex dream involving April, but I hope that was obvious what he was substituting for “hug”. Howard mentioned giving a shamp-Oh to Becky and reading her thought balloons, but restrained himself from repeating what would have also been a sexually charged thought. And then of course, Constable Paul Wright and Susan Dokis were skinny-dipping. I guess I must have been in a mood, when I was writing those up.

Tomorrow’s strip: Since we are continuing on with “Live With Jim and Iris”, I think it is safe to assume that the Gym/Jam storyline will start just before Halloween next week, and then may continue on for awhile, but my guess is only a week. They have to show the Gym/Jam setup, 4Evah getting cheered and Becky’s band getting booed because Becky is obnoxious. That should only take a week. What I am hoping for is the reappearance of Jeremy Jones, to see if Lynn draws him like a 40-year-old man again.

Then after that, Lynn needs to pop in a Michael sequence talking about his book, before returning back to the Howard Bunt trial, where after a series of extremely inaccurate legal procedures, Howard Bunt will be given a life sentence for pulling on Liz’s shirt. We can’t go too far into December, because we have to have the Liz / Paul breakup over Christmas and Anthony’s proposal to Liz at New Years. The rest of the year, could be quite fast-paced, if my predictions are right.


It was a lonely day in the ARBiverse. Not even an April post. I had tried to work my April / Jeremy magnum opus from the prior day into the events of today’s strip, because I was struck by the fact that the strip makes it look like Jim is leaving in the middle of the night, with no accompanying hospital personnel aside from the mysterious HandiVan, which I found highly suspicious. So when April returned home, her mother was not there, but was helping to move Grandpa Jim. aprilp_katje didn’t seem to pick up on that, or she ignored it, or she fell asleep reading my long April / Jeremy story. I don’t know. I suspect the sleeping part.

Howard’s snark was basically to show what a loving family would actually do to support Iris after she spent 3 weeks in the hospital with Jim, i.e. she is exhausted and the likelihood that she remembers what some P.T. showed her how to handle Jim while in the hospital when doing it by herself for the first time is remote. I know the purpose of the strip is to show how wonderful and supportive Iris is, but it also makes the mistake of not showing how wonderful and supporting Elly or Phil is, once they get Jim home. I had written many stories of Howard working for Jim and Iris, so his character fit the situation very well.

Constable Paul Wright’s snark is more of a Susan Dokis focus, trying to establish the roots of the relationship that will eventually end his relationship with Liz, because we know that even if Liz is caught in bed messing around with Anthony, it will be Paul’s inappropriate actions with Susan that end the relationship.

Jeremy Jones’s snark was mainly to point out yet another series of medical inaccuracies, which I will admit I cribbed off of the_berserker’s very informative FOOBiverse’s Journal post.

Michael Patterson’s snark was mainly on the issue of the predictive monthly letters. Tomorrow’s Sunday colour strip, which matches the daily strip sequence, is a pretty good indication of why the monthly letters matched the October strip action so well. Apparently someone made the decision to synchronize the dailies and the Sunday, and I suppose everyone in the Corbeil office was aware of what was going on in October as a consequence. So, then you get monthly letters that pretty much “spoil” the whole month of October in the strips. I am not sure if I prefer that to the usual monthly letters which seem like the author has not even read the strips.

Tomorrow’s strip: Not too bad a strip I think and I loved the silent ultimate panel. I really like strips that follow on into the Sunday colour strips. The masters of the comic strip genre have used them very effectively to build on detail that you can’t put into the dailies, and this strip reminded me of the good old days of For Better or For Worse.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Grandpa Jim – Touching, Poignant, and Stupid Beyond Belief

It is during strip sequences like we have had this week, where I really wonder if Lynn Johnston is unaware of her older fan base. It struck me as I read one thing after another from persons on the FOOBiverse’s Journal, where they had older relatives who got sick, that part of this week were pretty true to life, particularly in the bizarre things that Iris was saying all week. The usual claim was that this is sort of thing some who is having difficulty handling the situation would say. On the other side of this is the extraordinary inaccuracies in describing how the Canadian medical care works for persons who are stroke victims. There were just a many persons saying it was not the way things are done. So, one on hand, you have emotional potency and on the other hand you have gross medical malpractice. The difference between the two is the same difference that comes up again and again in the strip. If Lynn Johnston is truly writing the strip, she has not taken the time to pick up a phone and ask what the actual medical procedures are, by someone who would know.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Mind of a Child, But What Grade?

In today’s For Better or For Worse, my key words were “mind of a child” which I used throughout the characters I posted for today. My best use of the term came with Constable Paul Wright describing Liz’s reaction to the news. The rest, less so. I finished up the story involving Jeremy Jones and Zenia Parkinson. I had briefly considered the possibility of turning Jeremy into a goth boy as a part of Zenia / Jeremy romance, but I started losing interest in the idea. So, I just wrote a little finish off for it. As I went through the Blog entries for susannamoodie’s material, I realized that Zenia was the main z-girl who spent time with her Zandra Larson character, and I had not made the connection why she wasn’t around for this school year until susannamoodie had Zandra point out she graduated and went to university. This was not stated at all in the We Seldom Look on Love site, but the evidence was there. I was impressed susannamoodie had put this much backstory into what was a peripheral character for her Zandra Blog.

The other thing I noticed as things on April’s Real Blog heated up between underpantz’s post as Iris and my posts as Michael, was that Michael and Liz’s not spending time with Grandpa Jim corresponds very directly to Grandpa Jim’s involvement with Iris. When Grandma Marian was still alive, they were more involved with him than afterwards. Liz has never, ever been to their apartment in the on-line archives going back to 2003 and Michael has been there only 2 times. I know the real reason is because Lynn Johnston writes for Liz and Michael in their own little universes, but for those of us who like to fill in the missing spaces, one could say that maybe Mike and Liz and maybe even John too, don’t like Iris. John was awfully stoic, when Iris tried to hug him a few weeks back.

Tomorrow’s strip: And suddenly a shift in mood from “Grandpa Jim is a vegetable” to “Grandpa Jim doesn’t want to eat his vegetables.” Now I don’t whether to feel sorry for Grandpa Jim or feel sorry for myself knowing I am going to be reading some truly awful Grandpa Jim thought balloons.

Show, Not Tell

Today in For Better or For Worse, we have what I would call just a plain bad strip. One of the nice things about the sequential art medium is that you don’t have to rely on large amounts of dialogue to get a point across. I consider one of the masters of the medium, the late, great Will Eisner, who could tell whole stories, and communicate character and emotions without one single word balloon. But today’s strip was nothing but expository dialogue about things which would have been 100 times more effective if they had been shown and not talked about.

Tomorrow’s strip: This is more like what I am talking about, except it too, is also lots of panels of the doctor giving us expository dialogue. Show us the mind of a child. This is a comic strip, not a book.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Return of Uncle Phil Part II

Today in For Better or For Worse, Uncle Phil refuses to stay with Elly and tortures another couple in the hotel with his mouthpiece playing. There were many strange things about that, not the least was the fact that it made it seem like Phil was avoiding spending any more time with Elly than he wanted to. It seemed doubly odd considering in the prior day’s strip, Phil made a big deal about his dad not recognizing him. In tomorrow’s strip, Liz calls attention to the fact also. The subtext is that Phil is a lone wolf, who doesn’t want to be around his family and that even his father’s lack of recognition of him is not going to change his ways. I had my main characters talk about the strip, and then launched in to the plotline for the day, “Zandra Larson confronting Eva about Duncan.” In April’s Real Blog, we had been playing on the idea that Eva could control men by smirking and making them look at her breasts, because of a series of strips which showed Eva smirking and the boys looking at her breasts. the_berserker and susannamoodie, who post for Duncan and Zandra Larson respectively, introduced the idea that Duncan’s dating Eva in the strip and the monthly letters was not really dating but a hypnosis/mind control by Eva. And that Duncan had actually continued to see his real girlfriend Zandra, when mind control wasn’t happening.

The problem with this situation for the long term is that:
a. In the strip and monthly letters, Duncan is in fact dating Eva and will continue to do so.
b. It would be difficult for any other characters to interact with mind-controlling Eva as a regular student
c. It still leaves the problem of which girl Duncan is going have as his girlfriend.

the_berserker and susannamoodie have been adamantly opposed to Duncan and Eva having a relationship with each other, due to issues of race, since Lynn Johnston dredged up the idea that Eva and Duncan would be together. I suppose technically, Duncan is from Barbados, and Eva probably has her ancestry from Kenya (considering the similarity of her last name Abuya to the capital city of Nigeria, Abuja); so they are from different races. But I understand what they mean.

So I waited 4 awhile for susannamoodie to drop in & post and I gave her a lead-in line. But the end of the day, nothing was there from susannamoodie, so I went ahead with a story which I hope was not too far from the direction susannamoodie was planning to take it. The story set up the idea that Eva is not supposed to use her mind control powers with her friends, by order of her father, to return her back to normal girl characteristics and eliminate problem (b) above. I then left it open for either susannamoodie or the_berserker to establish the status quo, either Duncan with Eva or Duncan with Zandra. So far that still has not happened.

Tomorrow’s strip: Liz mentions the stroke for the very first time and reiterates her position relative to Grandpa Jim in the monthly letters (younger Elly). The melancholy feel to the strips discussing Grandpa Jim were leading me to believe his death is imminent, but Elly’s description of what improvements are occurring with Grandpa Jim, are taking me back to my original opinion, stating that a stroke is just a minor development for Grandpa Jim.

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Return of Uncle Phil Part I

In today’s For Better or For Worse, we re-introduce Uncle Phil to the strip, who appears only once in the entire on-line archive of strips. In April’s monthly letter, she seemed to have a little Uncle Phil worship going on, and really hope they show a little of that in the strip. Most of the strip seemed to be bent towards reminding everyone who Phil is and mentioned indirectly his last 3 strip appearances- Elizabeth’s university graduation, Mike’s fake wedding, and Grandma Marian’s death. Elly plays the role of the comforter, but there is an element of self-recrimination with the payoff being that his own father doesn’t remember him, but he does remember Elly. After all, it would have been so much better a strip sequence if Grandpa Jim remembered Phil, but didn't remember Elly.

In tomorrow’s strip, Phil still hasn’t learned about his ways of alienating himself from his family and goes off to a hotel instead of staying with Elly. I can see a theme starting with Uncle Phil and his attempts to stay from his family. If there is a lesson to be taught, Phil will realize the importance of family, before he leaves and is only seen again when Elizabeth gets married.

Requested Writing

I got back very late last night from the Boy Scout Camporee, which I think was a fairly successive venture. My boy got to shoot a .22 for the first time, and he did not get injured, so those were both pluses.

I decided to scan the ARB before heading to bed, but aprilp_katje put a nice little note in the posts as Michael Patterson, hinting that she might want an overnight writeup from the Michael perspective of today’s strip. I was pretty tired, but I managed to come up with what I thought was a pretty funny writeup.

The thing that struck me about the strip was the number of ethnicities represented at the Farmers’ Market, and the panels where Robin is essentially holding himself up around Mike’s neck. Lugging kids around on my shoulders is something I used to do on a pretty regular basis, when my kids were smaller and I know that you should never, ever, depend solely on the kid’s strength for staying up. The panels where Robin was sitting on Michael’s shoulders were more realistic, particularly with Robin manhandling Mike’s face. So, I keyed off those two items to write up the strip from the perspective of Robin as a super-strong brute, and Michael turning the healthy food lesson into a lesson about ethnicities as another aspect of ignoring Deanna’s intent. The final part of the strip where Michael buys the cotton candy only works because Deanna disappears, and she disappears shortly after the strip did its whirlpool wind effect near Deanna’s bottom. I went for the lowest common denominator of a Deanna fart, as an explanation of her otherwise unexplained departure.

Less recently that this, world-renowned author eeknight hinted that he might have Howard give Anthony Caine instructions on how to handle women, but then led in the with the idea that (1) Howard started off telling him what I presumed was cunnilingus and (2) Anthony went into Becky’s bathroom and found a lot of used batteries and something that looked like a microphone. I presumed this was a vibrator, but for all I know eeknight could have been talking about a battery-powered curling iron. I am usually pretty poor at imitating someone else’s writing style (like when qnjones let me take a turn last year writing as Becky McGuire), but I went through the last few months of eeknight’s Anthony to try to channel his Anthony voice and explain why Howard would immediately launch into a lesson about cunnilingus. Since eeknight had previously had Anthony fooled by his coworker Donna into getting a full Brazilian, it seemed like a natural choice for her to convince Anthony to request a lesson on cunnilingus specifically without Anthony knowing what it was. As for the scene with Anthony getting his moustache caught in the vibrator, the idea was that he would be trying to use it as a microphone and it got too close to the stache. I don’t think that was very obvious, but I was leaving room for eeknight to fill in those details, if he chose to, which he did not. That’s what happened, in case you were wondering.

susannamoodie had requested Jeremy Jones have a meeting her character of Uncle Arne, and like what I had done with Anthony I went back through her old posts, trying to capture the voice of uncle Arne. It proved to be more difficult than I had suspected, because susannamoodie’s style of writing for her Zandra Larson posts, rarely uses written dialogue but mainly first person narrative. There were precious few moments when Arne spoke and not really any catch phrase I could latch onto. So, I worked with the few nuances that I could find and attempted to fashion the Jeremy / Arne story. I also did a little research on stage hypnosis and hypnosis in general and how they are considered by illusionists like Arne, and tried to make Arne fit in. What it boils down to is that you can’t be made to do something you don’t want to do with hypnosis, so the presumption is that Duncan must want to follow hypnotizing Eva around, or at least not object to it. I decided to go with breast hypnosis, since we have had a running joke that Zandra Larson is big-breasted and there were a number of strips where the boys stared at Eva’s breasts. I get the impression that this idea did not fit in too well with what susannamoodie had planned, but I will try to go with the flow as far as what she has indicated will be a second meeting with Jeremy and Arne.

Tomorrow’s strip: Phil Richards is back for what will probably be his last appearance in For Better or For Worse, not counting the appearance he will make at Liz and Anthony’s wedding next year. We are slowly but surely working our way through the old characters to give them a last hurrah before the end. Just to let you know, Lynn, I would be very happy to see Fiona Brass reappear.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Anthony asks Liz for a Date (Sort of)

In today’s For Better or For Worse, we are starting to move to the payoff of Liz and Anthony giving their depositions together, i.e. seeing the couple spend some time together. I will have to admit that the interaction between Liz and Paul, when they were in Mtigwaki never made it seem like they were very comfortable with each other. I think Lynn is trying very hard to make it look like Liz, at least, is very relaxed around Anthony; which is actually a stark contrast to her reaction when she ran into him at Mayes Midtown Motors to buy her car. We are supposed to see her loosen up and start to bond with Anthony, using the Howard Bunt trial as a common point of interest to unite them. Liz was still pretty tense when Anthony came to talk to her after getting the subpoena, but this sequence of strips has a much friendlier Liz, particularly in the way Lynn has drawn her facial expressions around Anthony.

If it were just Liz, we would be doing well, but Lynn feels the need to let us know again and again that Anthony wants Liz. She is playing coy with Liz’s feelings about Anthony, which she has been doing almost constantly since Anthony got married. It’s hard to say when it comes to Liz and emotions, because she didn’t say she loved Constable Paul Wright until after she left him. The last time, Liz told a man she loved him to his face was Eric Chamberlain 5 years ago. In tomorrow’s strip, Liz starts to get a little playful with Anthony, and Anthony mercifully lets go of the sleaze factor. No Francoise, but the element of little Francie is brought to the forefront. My hope is that by Saturday, we are going to see a thought balloon out of Liz to see what the effect of this visit has been. However, Lynn keeps Liz’s feelings pretty closely guarded, so the reader will be left in suspense as to which man she will chose. I doubt we will know any more by Saturday. More likely it will be another Anthony thought bubble. I suspect Monday will be back to the stroke story, and reintroducing Uncle Phil back to the strip and then the week after that is the lead-in to the Gym Jam (or Becky finally gets hers).

By the way, tomorrow evening, I will be off with the Boy Scouts for the weekend. Have fun without me!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Trial of Howard Part III (Elizabeth’s Deposition)

In For Better or For Worse today, we got to see Elizabeth’s deposition. I looked around the various commentaries on the strip and my anonymous legal source who has been so kindly sending messages to me has been by far the most informative. I feel very privileged that someone so knowledgeable is taking the time to tell me all these things.

This anonymous person in the comments to yesterday’s Blog entry, told me the errors in the strip were:
1. “Deposition” is not a term used in Canada.
2. There is an audiotape machine on the table instead of a videotape machine.
3. There should be 2 police officers at the table, which I presume is a rule to prevent misconduct on the part of the police, same as the U.S.
4. The officers taking the “deposition” should be plainclothes detectives at the station and not a uniformed officer.
5. There is no reason for the chair to be bolted down.

This is an extraordinary list of inaccuracies. I find it very interesting that Lynn Johnston, the same woman who wrote the pow-wow strips in October / November 2005 with such accuracy that I was hard-pressed to find anything significantly wrong with it, would write a story about something far easier to research than the Ojibway pow-wow traditions, and write it as though she were basing everything off an episode of some U.S. TV Law drama, like Perry Mason. I know Lynn knows the members of the Nippissing First Nation personally, but I am surprised she doesn’t know someone in law enforcement, whom she could ask a few questions and improve the believability of her strip.

In tomorrow’s strip, we see yet another sequence that ends with Anthony expressing his interest in Liz in a thought balloon and as I believe everyone and their uncle had predicted, the post-deposition period is now turning into sort of a date between Anthony and Liz, under the guise of “Come see my home improvements.” If you do a comparison / contrast with last summer, Gordon Mayes took Liz around to Anthony’s home for a similar visit. Last year she was little miffed at Gordon doing that, but this year she is embracing the idea enthusiastically. The majour difference last year was that Anthony was married, and this year, he is not. He is single and unattached. But last year, Elizabeth was single and unattached and now she is attached. But for some reason, the problem with going into Anthony’s house no longer applies now Liz is the one attached.

I have long maintained that we are seeing essentially a duplication of the Mike / Deanna romance with Anthony and Liz, where Constable Paul Wright is playing the part of Rhetta Blum. In that story, to the best of my recollection, Deanna was completely unaware that Mike had started dating Rhetta, when Mike wanted to be with Deanna instead of Rhetta. If Lynn continues to follow this course with Anthony and Liz, then Anthony will never be aware that Liz has a boyfriend. What we will see happen is Liz falling in love with Anthony, and then fretting about what to do with Paul. I think this week is crucial to confirming my suspicion.

When Anthony gets Elizabeth alone in his house, I think he will either:
a. Make some sort of announcement of his feelings to Liz.
b. Continue to think romantic thought balloons, and we also see a hint of a romantic thought balloon from Liz.
c. Nothing at all, and they will discuss home improvements and how they increase the value of your house.

However, there is also one tremendously important thing that could happen at Anthony's house that could salvage this whole misbegotten plot line. That would be to have Elizabeth get some interaction with what should now be toddler Françoise. Elizabeth has shown no affinity whatsoever for her niece and nephew, so just judging from the strip so far, she will stink. But I think everyone knows that Elizabeth and Françoise are going to get along famously, and Françoise will prefer Elizabeth to her mother Thérèse about 2 seconds after she meets Elizabeth. If we could get an Elizabeth/ Thérèse confrontation over Françoise, that would kill.

It would be so much better than trying to play up Anthony as a heroic figure. Looking over the For Better or For Worse commentaries, Lynn has seriously miscalculated with his character. Even commentaries that are normally pretty even-handed with their criticism of the strip were disgusted by his thought balloon in today’s strip. If Lynn is smart, she will give up on trying to make him look good, and concentrate on building a Françoise/Elizabeth relationship.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Trial of Howard Part II (Anthony’s Deposition)

Today in For Better or For Worse, we apparently saw Anthony and Elizabeth, who after visiting with the Crown attorney, decided to visit the police together to give their depositions. I also got a visit from my anonymous Canadian Law advisor in yesterday's comments. Since the advisor is anonymous, I don’t know if it is the same legal advisor I had almost a year ago, when I was thrashing through what Howard should do legally. Even if it is not, I appreciate the help, because going through Canadian law websites is tedious work.

According to my advisor, neither Anthony or Elizabeth should be seeing the Crown attorney before the trial, so the whole situation with him telling them about the delay in the trial is still ridiculous. With today’s strip, I was thrashing about trying to figure out what was going on, only to find out in tomorrow’s strip, it was just Anthony and Elizabeth giving their depositions. My anonymous legal advisor did not use the term “deposition”, but “oral statement” and a quick Google around shows that a number of on-line Canadian legal dictionaries have the word “deposition” but the connection between “oral statement, police, and Toronto” gets me credible hits in articles about law, whereas deposition did not. I found a few that indicated deposition was a United States law practice and not Canadian. I hope my anonymous legal advisor will correct me, if I am wrong about this one.

As I was glancing at the For Better or For Worse website, the 4th birthday for Merrie Patterson popped up. I looked at the monthly letters to see if Deanna had done her usual kid birthday plans in her letter, since Michael almost never mentioned it. Guess what? Not a mention in either letter. So, I decided to leverage off of the mysterious Jason Fox post a few days ago, talking about Deanna using a Linux operating system in her replacement robot double (a running plot based on the Stepford Wives and parts of Deanna’s September, 2006 monthly letter), to create a situation to actually explain why Deanna’s October monthly letter failed to say anything about birthdays this time around. I don’t know what is the hot thing for small kids to do in Toronto, so I went with Chuck E. Cheese, which is in the Toronto-area, and was very popular with my kids when they were smaller.

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Trial of Howard Part I (The Delay)

Today's For Better or For Worse's joke was that there might be delay at the beginning of the strip and there is a delay by the end of the strip. The statement the lawyer makes about making sure that you are in town for the trial, makes me think that tomorrow's strip is not the actual trial but the examination for discovery, an Ontario law practice where the witnesses of the trial are examined by their opponent's party, which the websites espouse greatly as having reduced the number of cases actually going to trial by 80-90%. This idea is corroborated by Liz and Anthony being in their same clothes as they are when they are told the trial is being delayed. However, working against that idea is the camera and bolted chair mentioned by Anthony, which would seem out of place in that sort of venue, as near as I can tell from website searches about examination for discovery.

The parts that are missing in today's strip are the kinds of details which would alleviate this kind of confusion. Why did Elizabeth and Anthony come in to talk to the lawyer, to get information about a delay they could have been told over the phone? If the answer is that they were there anyway for the examination of discovery, then the lawyer could be telling them information while they were already present, and saved himself a phone call. But Lynn doesn't bother to tell us this--a minor offence. Not making the joke work is a bigger offence.

The way it could have been funnier is this: Liz and Anthony are talking to the lawyer who thanks them for coming in for their examination for discovery. He says that trial delays are not uncommon for various reasons. He predicts there will be a delay. He observes Liz and Anthony are using the "we" and "us" terms and says, "I predict you will have a long and happy life together, once this trial business is all done." Liz gets embarrassed. Then the lawyer gets a phone call. He says, "Just as I predicted, the trial has been delayed. I am pretty good with my predictions," as Elizabeth and Anthony give each other meaningful glances.

That's not funny either. Oh well. I better not write comic strips.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Thanksgiving Dinner

Today in For Better or For Worse we had the hair twiddling of Elly Patterson. I was able to drop off a number of snarks about it early in the day. I had planned to participate in the giant qnjones Thanksgiving Celebration at her specified time, but my wife decided today was furniture-moving day and she invited a neighbour friend of hers husband to help me move. And that took most of the rest of the day. By the time I got back, qnjones was well into it pretty much all by herself, even though April was supposed to be present at the party. Last Canadian Thanksgiving, qnjones had requested to write up the bulk of the giant Thanksgiving conflagration herself, with others inserting in stuff, and trying not to upset her tightly balanced Becky relative apple cart. But there was a long enough gap in time from qnjones' last post, there, so I felt I could probably carry on to a certain degree, even though I don't have qnjones' manic energy for these kind of stories. I also don't have qnjones' memory for all the characterization for her Becky family members, so I felt I was limited there also.

Tomorrow's strip: Anthony and Elizabeth can't leave town because they are witnesses? I know nothing about law and I can tell that is complete baloney. I quick google of Ontario trials and their delays showed trials can be delayed upward of 30 months. Somehow I doubt restricting the travel of witnesses is allowed. Most likely, they set a new trial date and reissue the subpoenas for that date, but I was unable to find a website which specified procedure for subpoenas and delayed trials. I did find a website showing how subpoenas look, and they are quite specific on date, time and place. I can't imagine it being, "Oh anytime after this date when the trial may or may not occur." qnjones can correct me, if I am wrong, but I can't imagine it being that way.

Religion and the FOOBiverse

Religion is one of those topics that can be dangerous to discuss these days. I have a sense that Lynn Johnston in For Better or For Worse wants us to still have the impression that her characters consider their relationship with God from time to time, but she has gone a long way from endorsing any kind of organized religion. We saw crosses on gravestones during the visit to the cemetery by John and Elly, and those were the first religious artifacts I had seen in the strip in years. Even Mike and Dee’s fake wedding, although held in a church, was notoriously empty of religious imagery.

In the midst of all this comes praying April. She prayed on the prairie in Winnipeg last year, and she prayed today. Of different but not lesser interest was Elly’s participation in the sacred fire of the Ojibway pow-wow last fall, when she opted to think of her mother instead offering tobacco to Mother Earth, in that Ojibway religious ceremony. The similarity of associating prayer with thinking about deceased mother / stricken grandfather was probably a coincidence, but I jumped on it with my snarking. What you have is prayer without a God in it. Even the Ojibway prayer I had Constable Paul Wright quote mentioned the Gitchie-Manidoo (Great Spirit). Prayer without God mentioned, is essentially not prayer, by definition. So, why mention it at all?

The answer to that what aprilp_katje so clever mentioned in her Blog entry today---the cut-out moment. There are strips you look at for the art, strips you look at to laugh, and strips you look at to see if there is one you can cut out and show to other people. We have been hitting full stride on the cut-out moments this week, with the one the therapists would cut out yesterday, and the one on prayer today. The net effect is that Lynn has pulled some religion on her character out of the blue, in order to create an effect. For the average reader, who only has a passing familiarity with the characters, this strip would not bother them at all. For the obsessed reader, such as me, it bugs me to see this recurring theme of religion used for cut-out moments.

Tomorrow’s strip: My mom is older than Elly and I can honestly say I have never had this experience with her, nor have I have ever noticed an older woman playing with her facial hair. I must run with the wrong crowd of old ladies.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

And Then There's Shannon Part II

Shannon fares a little better in today’s For Better or For Worse. She lets April talk about her situation a little and her therapy example wasn’t completely self-centered. Since I had been playing up Shannon as upset that Eva had taken her place in the Becky comforting arena, I decided to have a little Shannon and Eva confrontation. Shannon does basically function as the comedic sidekick to April’s cowboy. When the Cisco Kid went after a woman, Pancho was usually unceremoniously kicked to the side and he would usually encourage Cisco, if things went wrong. So, I decided to have Eva make the comparison to April and Shannon. Of course, no one their age would have heard of the Cisco Kid, so I decided to have Eva march down the list of majour cowboy sidekicks and their embarrassing names.

Tomorrow’s strip: Have you ever noticed prairie is like the word prayer? Neither has April.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

And Then There's Shannon Part I

On today's For Better or For Worse, Shannon Lake comes into save the day. Shannon's appearance seems to draw to a close tomorrow, so my guess is Saturday, April will make some sort of concluding statement about Grandpa Jim. A few notes:

The Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman did 3 reunion movies, most of which were intended to spawn bionic series start-ups, but it never took. The only one I remember seeing was the one where they got married. Those series were very popular when I was in high school, and I was a devoted fan of both series. Today's sequence with qnjones was a nice trip down memory lane.

The quotes from Constable Paul Wright were not completely accurate. The 40% of aboriginal children with a learning disability is really children from the Yukon. The hearing problem statistic is from reservation children in both Northern and Southern Ontario, not just Ojibway in particular.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Bodner Saskatchewan

I can’t believe I didn’t catch that Bodner was a made-up place. Actually, I e-mailed Stephanie at FBoFW to ask her if it was made-up, but she is so busy sending out legal threats against the FOOBiverse icon-holders that she probably will not have time to answer. She used to answer my e-mails and I was very impressed she took the time and how friendly she was, but she has not answered my last few e-mails, so I expect I have fallen off her nice list and onto her naughty list.

I can’t imagine what the atmosphere is like working for Lynn Johnston. She is in her final year, and the website gives the appearance that they are trying to establish a business outside of doing For Better or For Worse, but it does not seem to be getting the kind of action that will sustain them financially. I expect the syndicate is starting to turn the screws on Lynn to name a successor instead of retiring, as they have done for many other strips, and if I were a Lynnion, working out of tiny town like Corbeil, I would be inclined to support the syndicate, so I could keep my cushy job.

However, Lynn seems to be very protective of her image as the strip creator. They put this giant “The Making of a Comic Strip” web sequence on the For Better or For Worse website, where it was painfully obvious how they were trying to make it look like Lynn still does the art for the strip, but leaving so many clues in the pictures they showed, that she doesn’t.

As for today’s strip, it was a filler, but an imminently snarkable filler. So, the characters I handled were able to come up with something pretty easily. 2 of my fellow posters, susannamoodie and qnjones and their 3 characters of Liz, Becky, and Zandra Larson picked up all the little anachronisms I laced into Michael Patterson’s description of his novel, and gave me many opportunities for which I had been waiting. (1) The opportunity to explain Michael Patterson’s side of his aborted autobiographical play workshop, which we had to skip because the_berserker got very sick during the time in which we would have finished it off. (2) Snark the inaccuracies in Mike’s retelling of Grandpa Jim’s story in his monthly letter.

It was during researching these things, I discovered that Bodner doesn’t exist. I was getting ready to explain why Bodner was so advanced, looking for some culturally unique aspect of the real Bodner, only to not be able to find a real Bodner. That actually made for some good snarking on made-up places. I discovered that Devon, England, the listed home for Sheilagh Shaugnessey was used as a base for U.S. forces, departing for Utah beach in the D Day landings. That is accurate, but it amused me to change it to Canadian forces to see if anyone would catch it, and susannamoodie did. She is very sharp to catch such an obscure detail. The use of kilometres and vaccinations were more obvious, but did not make it past the eagle eye of qnjones.

The one part I did find was startlingly correct was the idea that Harvey Rood, Sheilagh Shaugnessey’s husband, would be a sod farmer in the plains of Saskatchewan. This was a very real profession for the prairie people, due to a lack of trees for lumber. I found a number of pictures of sod houses, usually from around 1900, and they are completely fascinating to look at. Literally, the people are living in homes made up of sod, or heavily clumped dirt squares. When I saw those pictures, I got a real feeling for how Sheilagh Shaugnessey’s life would be a startling change for her, coming from the nicely lumber-housed Devon. But I also got a twang of sympathy for Harvey Rood, having to live in a dirt house, and probably having to listen to his wife complain about the house and complain about how he wasn’t giving her enough attention, which is a nice summary of her complaints about Harvey, listed in Mike's monthly letters.

Tomorrow’s strip: “Having your mental functions destroyed by a stroke is like being special needs,” says Shannon Lake. April seems to feel better after she hears this comparison, but why? Of all the things people have said to her this week, this is probably the most insensitive. “You want to see how your grandpa is going to be? Look over here at these kids!” If Lynn really is still writing this strip, she desperately needs someone to say to her, “Lynn, that’s in bad taste. The Special Needs people will hate you and the Stroke Victims will hate you. Just because you have the special needs character say it, doesn’t make it any better.”

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

My Friends are Jerks Part II

In today’s For Better or For Worse, the easy theme word was insensitive, largely because April’s gag didn’t make any sense and keyed off that word.

Shannon Lake: I fully expect her to appear before the end of the week to comfort April, since Eva and Gerald were both made out to be insensitive. I have played her as angry April has chosen Eva as her Becky comfort instead of Shannon, but she will get over it very rapidly, if she appears in the strip this week and gives April comfort. Shannon usually runs in 2-3 strip sets, so I expect it will be Thursday or Friday when she appears, if she is going to appear.

Jeremy Jones: Jeremy is probably set for his last ever strip appearance at the end of the month during the Gym Jam sequence. Most likely he will appear as a Becky flunky, and not have much to say beyond a few words. I seriously doubt he will be a Becky love interest in the strip, since Becky’s friends seem to be limited to nerdy girls. I enjoyed playing off susannamoodie’s idea that the Eva / Duncan relationship is all made up by Eva and mentally forced on Duncan, by having Jeremy confused as to whether or not he has actually been dating susannamoodie’s Zandra Larson character.

Michael Patterson: Today was fun with Michael because he got to point out the obvious, which was, April and her sister Elizabeth stink at making friends. Moreover, Lynn Johnston has clearly not put the time into developing April’s friends Duncan and Gerald into anything more than generic over the 10 years they have been in the strip. They are like the Enjos were to Mike and Liz, bland and colourless undeveloped characters. On the other hand, Lynn lavished time on Lawrence, Gordon, and Josef Weeder, and it really shows.

Howard Bunt: He drew the straw for the contrast dialogue to the strip, where Grandpa Jim’s stroke was compared to Howard’s trial in a very insensitive manner.

Constable Paul Wright:
My plans for him are to use old Elizabeth teaching stories in Mtigwaki to comparison / contrast to his recounting Susan Dokis stories doing the same kind of thing. I expect he will not do anything in the strip until Christmas, so that will keep him busy for awhile. Most likely he will break up with Liz over Christmas, so the good constable will be disappearing from April’s Real Blog. I need to get in my Mtigwaki snark before then.

Tomorrow’s strip:
Filler strip and if they bring in Shannon Lake to complete the week, then this strip kind of breaks the “I need comfort.” momentum.

Monday, October 02, 2006

My Friends are Jerks Part I

Today’s For Better or For Worse was very snarkable. Gerald using hip-hop slang reminded me a lot of the time when I had Gordon Mayes do the same thing for comedic effect some months ago. Then Gerald just blew off April’s feelings and tried to bribe her to come to rehearsal with the lure of outshining Becky McGuire and pizza. My initial thought was that this was going to be a continuation of the Gerald the Jerk story begun last year when he badmouthed the special needs kids. However tomorrow’s strip where Eva is portrayed an insensitive jerk leads me to believe that we are headed down the path of poor, poor April. Her friends could care less about her. It’s what comes from picking friends based on their ethnicity instead of their compatibility.
In Wednesday’s strip, Duncan will say something rude, then maybe Becky McGuire on Thursday, but then on Friday to Saturday, April will encounter none other than Shannon Lake, who will manage to cheer up April yet again by telling about the terrible tragedy that resulted in her grandfather’s death, going through the blizzard to deliver the medicine that cause Shannon’s life to be saved from that rare disease which can only be defeated by blizzard-delivered medicine. Traveling along with him were Balto the half-wolf guide dog, and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. That’s my prediction for the rest of the week.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Yes, America. Michael is a Bad Father

Today on For Better or For Worse, we have an odd sequence where Merrie gets her fingers slammed and Mike pauses to wait until she cries before he gives her a hug. I googled around trying to find a description on how to treat slammed fingers and the basic answer was to call the doctor and describe the wound to see if they recommended going to hospital or not. That was the route I went with on the Mike snark. My own nature with my children’s injuries is to treat first and hug later, although my wife is more on the hug first and treat later side of the house.

qnjones’ extremely fine “Mike from Liz’s perspective” gives me the impression that qnjones should take over writing Mike’s character. I rarely ever seem to include the literary aspect to Mike’s stuff he puts in his monthly letter, and she captures his alliterative nature quite nicely.

Tomorrow’s strip: I am quite excited the Battle of the Bands or Gym Jam, is finally going to occur, after it was dropped 2 times in the monthly letter writing. It may mean a reappearance of Jeremy Jones in the strip, and I hope a redefinition of his relationship with Becky McGuire. April’s monthly letter made it sound like Becky was very professional now, and she did not mention Jeremy Jones, so it is possible he was fired, or he has risen to a new level in her organization.