Monday, April 30, 2007

The Lovepocalypse Begins

In sequence we have:

1) Warren cancels the date, because he is working.
2) Liz spits at Warren.
3) Elly telling us why Liz should have spit at Warren, i.e. he’s inconsistent because he can cancel dates at the last minute and not be bothered by it.
4) Liz does her pun on a rolling stone gather no mess. Translate that into no boyfriend mess.
5) Liz comforts April by asking the Patterson woman question to determine whether or not to drop a man: “Are you the kind of person who can let things go, get on with your life, and just be friends?” I thought this was a reference to Paul originally, but now I realize it was intended to be a reference to Warren.
6) Liz classifies Paul as “didn’t work out”, i.e. he wouldn’t do what she told him to do.
7) Liz classifies Warren as “just a friend”, i.e. she only sees him once a year.
8) Liz classifies Anthony as “It’s time to find out”, i.e. we are once again suffering from the extraordinarily slow pacing of Lynn Johnston telling a story.

Just as it took April Patterson almost the entire school year to reform her band after she broke it up, it is taking Elizabeth almost a year to do what she left Mtigwaki and came to Milborough to do.

However, you can see a trace of Lynn Johnston changing her tune about Liz and her suitors. It is not longer completely up to fate. Warren Blackwood may have picked up Liz to take her to Mtigwaki, but it is Liz who invites him to Michael’s Congratupalooza. Anthony Caine may have asked Liz to innocent sort of semi-dates during the trial, but it is Liz who invites him to Shawna-Marie’s wedding. Of course these are the kinds of dates in which it would have been considered acceptable even back in the 1920s for a woman to ask a man, so I don’t know how much credit to give Liz.

As for Shawna-Marie, she is the natural choice for wedding attendance. She lives in Milborough and she was not engaged the last time Liz ran into her over New Years’ 2005, but she had an unseen boyfriend, from whom Liz borrowed motorcycle riding gear.

Dawn Enjo would be a possibility too, since her mother is still in Milborough, but she was engaged to be married back in January, 2005; so more than a 2 year engagement would be excessive, even for this strip. Besides, Elizabeth is so out of touch with Dawn, the last time she was mentioned in a monthly letter was in Mike’s monthly letter from July, 2006. My guess is that Dawn will show up for the wedding married and pregnant.

Really the only question left is how long will it take Anthony to ask Liz to marry him? Lynn Johnston has been pacing this story so slowly; I would be very surprised if we see a proposal before August. This would still allow enough time for a wedding. Some people are under the impression that Liz would need to have a big wedding with Anthony and lots of wedding preparation strips, but I remember what a big deal was made over the evils of a large wedding with Mike and Deanna. I have a hard time imagining that the wedding will be anything but small. Not only that, but I would be surprised if Liz and Anthony are not praised for their small wedding, as being sensible.

I do have a few more questions, though. I want to know if we will ever see any strips with Liz and Françoise interacting? Will Thérèse come back for her comeuppance? And if she does, will Lynn Johnston be successful in making us hate her, or will she once again be able to make us hate Anthony and Liz even more, with the high-handed way she treats Thérèse? Will Anthony’s proposal be related at all to intolerable living conditions for Liz, predicted in Liz’s monthly letter? Will Warren come back into the picture, to be told off by Liz yet again that “seeing is believing.”? How quickly will Michael Patterson’s novel become a best-seller and be declared the great Canadian novel? How many life lessons will we get as Elly and John move their stuff out of the old house? Will April ever tell Gerald off? Will April student exchange to France, move to Winnipeg, or change residences at all? And most importantly, will Fiona Brass come back to the strip before it goes hybrid?

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Return of Candace

It doesn’t bode well, so far, because Candace Halloran, the non-standard-looking girl in For Better of For Worse, who didn’t want to settle down, has arrived on the scene. Bad signs:

1. Candace has her hair is back to its natural colour and calls her previous look “harsh”. Sign of maturity.
2. Candace compliments Elizabeth on her appearance. Sign of politeness.
3. Candace’s face looks like Elizabeth’s. Sign of maturity makeover.

I expect we are in for a series of “What was I thinking?” moments which will eventually lead into either Candace talking about getting married to Rudy or Elizabeth’s love life.

Relay For Life

Friday night, I participated as a Boy Scout parent in the local American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life fund-raiser. The Boy Scouts were responsible for putting up luminary to guide the path of the relayers. The idea is the usual, getting someone to pledge money to you for your participation in the relay. The tricky part is that it goes on all night from 6 pm to 8 am the next day. It was quite a bit of fun, with a DJ playing all night long, and a lot of other activities, including an appearance by Ronald McDonald, whom my boy saw for the first time live and in person.

I ended up staying up the whole time. There were quite a few high school kids participating and much of the situation was like a giant slumber party held in a local park. I observed many teenaged girls and I am happy to report that not one of them had a hairstyle like April Patterson. Actually, observing the teenagers in general over that period of time, I came to realize that April Patterson, with her constant whining due to her housing situation or Becky McGuire; compared to these girls kicking a soccer ball, throwing a football, throwing a Frisbee, running around and giggling all night long, and teasing or flirting with some of the Boy Scout boys; is a pretty depressed and depressing teenaged girl.

After it was all over and Boy Scouts cleaned the place up, I went to drop in a few lines at April’s Real Blog, and found myself passing out at the computer. I decided I needed a little rest first. 10 hours later, my boy woke me up and said it was time for dinner and then they wanted to watch Spider-Man 1 on Cartoon Network with me, since I had spent the whole day sleeping. So, no April’s Real Blog comments from me today. Sorry.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

April and Elizabeth Apart Again

In this strip back on September 2, April predicts how life with Elizabeth will be.

1. Everyone’s gonna start treating me like a KID again!
2. She’s gonna boss me around, an’hassle me about stuff
3. An’ I’m gonna bug her.

April’s prediction, of course, was completely accurate. As I scanned through the strips of Elizabeth and April over the last month, the only time they got along well was the Sunday colour strip of them wrapping Christmas presents to w(rap) music, and then this strip we had today. To be fair, the bulk of the time, April is picking a fight with Elizabeth, usually by prying into Elizabeth’s personal affairs by the ever-offensive method of asking questions.

The irony of today’s strip is that for once they are talking about something important to April and Elizabeth is not trying to turn it into something about herself, and this event does not happen until Elizabeth is packing to leave.

Moral of the Story

It appeared to me, when April and Gerald got away with kissing and drinking wine on the evening of Mike’s Congratupalooza party, there was not going to be any consequences for it. They got away with it cleanly, and John even praised April for being a child she didn’t have to worry about. I suppose that should have been the big clue, because April had been so regularly blamed for things she hadn’t been doing, to praise April was out of character for John. If it had ended like that, then I would have been impressed, because there are a lot of teenaged kids who don’t get caught kissing their boyfriend and it would have made it seem true-to-life. But this is For Better or For Worse, a bastion of comic strip moralizing, so I knew there would be consequences.

Even when April was being taunted by Gerald’s bizarrely-shaped friends at school, the main complaint from April was not that Gerald had stretched the story, but that he had told a story which April considered to be personal, which is a reasonable complaint. The parts of the story, the buck-toothed boys quoted back to her were accurate representations of what happened. However, it is April herself who defines what Gerald did as not a “secret” but a “score.”

Now we have the confusing references to “doing stuff” and doing a lot more than you were doing. We know time has passed because they’ve visited the Stibbs’ place and Elizabeth has found an apartment. In the interim period, has Gerald told the story and expanded on what happened? Or is April stretching the story herself, as she did when she refined it as “score” in order to get sympathy from Elizabeth? There is a strong possibility that April is the one changing the story.

One of the interesting parts about this strip is when the readers are shown something, which the characters do not acknowledge. The classic case is when Liz reads April’s e-mail about Anthony’s divorce and has a strong reaction (prints it out to read) and then immediately makes plans to leave Mtigwaki without consulting her boyfriend. It couldn’t be more obvious she is moving back to be with Anthony and screw her relationship with Paul. But then she proceeds to tell everyone it’s because she is homesick and because she scored a job in Mississauga. This becomes the story written up on the website in the bio section. And yet, there in the archive is that strip where Liz has that severe reaction to learning Anthony got divorced.

Here we may have a similar situation. We see that April and Gerald drank wine and kissed, but kept their clothes on. We see that Gerald has not stretched the story. And yet, April is going about with the idea that Gerald has told people he scored with April, and she is being laughed at. Elizabeth’s advice is to tell her to tell him to “stuff it” which only really means to “let him know you are really angry.” It is generic enough to mean anything, and not necessarily, to go and break up with Gerald. It is possible that this is all Lynn Johnston intends. After all, when Elly is mad at John, he usually gives in to her. Maybe it will be the same with April, and she will get a contrite Gerald.

The other perspective is that this whole thing is Gerald’s fault. He is the one who suggests coming over to April’s house. April actually seems surprised he was there, when he arrives. He is the one who brings the wine. Then he is the one who brags to his friends. Lynn Johnston has played the hand before of the hapless woman doing what her man wants before and most recently with Warren canceling his date with Liz. The criticism of Warren is that he cancelled it at the last minute without regret or consideration of Liz’s feeling. Liz sets the time aside for the date as the man asked, and then adjusts accordingly and reacts nicely and politely when he cancels, except for the later spitting. Warren is declared nice, but inconsistent. We know Warren is going to take a hit for having a job where he travels a lot. So, there must be a consequence for Gerald too.

There have been hints in the monthly letters. First John hints April may do a student exchange to France. But how can she do that when she has boyfriend and a band to support.

John's Letter, June 2005

There are only the three of us at home now, and April is getting to that age where she's gone all the time. She heads into grade nine next year, and has mentioned the idea of going on some of these student exchange trips. France was one of the countries she mentioned. So, amazingly, instead of worrying about the loss of my favourite little buddy, I mentally am thinking about a smaller house with a bigger yard! Just a thought of course!

This is a pretty big hint, April will choose neither Michael’s house nor John’s house, but instead head out to other lands. It would answer the question about why Lynn Johnston is so wishy-washy about declaring where April will live or why she was excluding from most of the family discussions on the subject. Then April talks about how romance will destroy the band and how she hopes Becky and Gerald don’t become a couple. I have noticed that the Becky criticism from April’s friends is entirely from Eva, Duncan, and Shannon, which leaves Gerald free to be a Becky supporter and potential boyfriend. Lynn Johnston loves to put things into place.

April's Letter, March 2005

Mom let Becky stay at our place for a few nights because of her parents, which is ok. We sit up and talk about totally everything. I told her that Gerald and I are trying to be "just friends" because if we did do the love thing, the band would break up if we did. This is hard. I really like him. I mean, really! What I don't tell Becky is - I hope he doesn't start liking her!!!

That was with 4Evah, but the sentiment was repeated recently with 4Evah&Eva.

April's Letter, January 2007

I just hope it keeps going well for all of us - it's not a great idea for bandmates to date, because we could totally screw up the dynamics if any of us broke up, but for now we sound good, and we're all "together'.

Then you have the strips where Gerald called the special needs kids “retarded” and giving April no sympathy when her grandfather died. There were no consequences from that at the time, and yet the possibility still exists. We had the fire story over 1½ years, the housening, which as been 1 year and 10 months in the making. Lynn Johnston loves to stretch out stories, so we could be on the verge of seeing April and Gerald break up, causing 4Evah&Eva to break up, leaving April free to go to France. Of course my pet idea is that April would live with Auntie Bev on the farm.

What we don’t know is what April will do next. What I feel confident about is that Gerald is going to get some consequences.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Honoria Delaney-Forsythe

A while back aprilp_katje uncovered some old strip where Gerald talked about locker combinations and revealed his combination included his, his mother’s and his sister’s age. This told us that Gerald had an unseen younger sister to go along with his unseen older brother. aprilp_katje and qnjones discussed what they planned to do with the character. To date, all that happened was aprilp_katje posted she was taking home ec in the high school, like April did when she was in Grade 8. And I mentioned her briefly as a sitter for Anthony Caine, when my made-up character Alto Escurrido was chiding April for her irresponsible baby-sitting.

qnjones mentioned having Honoria kicked out of the same school where Gerald’s mom met her true love, Ronson van Daam. This required a little research. Back in the days when aprilp_katje was running yet another website of the Creative Writing Class where the adults in the strip would get to participate, qnjones wrote this incredible story giving the backstory of Gerald’s mom. The short version of the story is that when she was little and fat, Ronson calls her a fatass, her family hires a nutritionist who teaches her to live on a single celery stick a day, then after she loses the weight, she also loses her virginity to Ronson on her 16th birthday. The elements I included with Honoria and Jeremy baby-sitting at Anthony Caine’s house were taken from that story and of course I snarked the April / Gerald baby-sitting story again, while tackling the element of today’s strip which was that the artist seemed to be unable to draw Elizabeth so she didn’t look like Elly.

I envision Honoria as being driven to thinness like her mother, but she is a failure at it, despite her best efforts. I remember some years ago in my dating years, going out with a woman who felt it was necessary for me to know that even if she lost weight, she would still have big hips. And as proof, she mentioned a time in her life, when she got really sick and lost 30 pounds, and still had big hips. It is from this recollection, I could see Honoria's body being such that she could never match her mother for thinness. I also envision Honoria as blonde and very pretty, like her brother is blonde and handsome for a Foob guy.

As for where things are going with this, times have been lean on April's Real Blog for a guy who loves interplaying with other peoples’ characters. I had some good interplay with greytail088 doing her Vicki Simone, when I had Jeremy Jones dating one of her V-girls, Vanessa. I enjoyed seeing the marvelously creative susannamoodie interact her character of Zandra Larson with Jeremy Jones also. And of course, Howard Bunt is sticking with qnjones’ Becky McGuire to the bitter end. Becky and Howard are lined up to snark any house-buying storylines or any wedding storylines which may come into place, with their own house-buying and wedding plans. However, when it comes to April's Real Blog, aprilp_katje is the true model of consistency and I think using Jeremy interacting with Gerald’s sister to interact with Gerald to interact with April might be a good way to get her creative, snarking juices flowing.

Tomorrow’s strip: A boring strip gathers no joke.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Warren the Inconsistent

Elly of For Better or For Worse has now leveled her guns at Warren and declared him to be inconsistent. In case we need to be reminded, this makes him the opposite of Anthony.

John's Letter, December 2006

Anthony has certainly come through, though. He always was incredibly reliable. Maybe that's why Liz never appreciated him. He was too reliable, and treated her too well. I am always amazed how girls seem to prefer guys who mistreat them. I suppose it is more exciting! There's always lots of drama! It makes me glad that Elly fell for a dull, reliable (but incredibly good looking) guy like me!

The presumption is that if Anthony cancelled a date at the last minute, it would bother him. It doesn’t mean he wouldn’t do it, but he would have remorse. He would feel guilt at having broken a date with Elizabeth. Liz would have no problems winning arguments with Anthony if she could invoke the guilt, because Anthony probably would remember each of his failed moments also. In Elly-land, this makes for a perfect, easy-to-manipulate husband.

When this particular letter was written, I thought it was aimed at Constable Paul Wright, Liz's boyfriend at the time. The implication that Paul somehow mistreated Liz was distressing, and even with it reinterpreted for Warren Blackwood, it is also distressing. You have an interesting kind of reverse discrimination which says only men who work steady 9 to 5 jobs are acceptable. Men who work any kind of other hours are considered to mistreat their wives. And there is the whole sequence where Mike Patterson did exactly that, but now he no longer has to as a second example. Mike can stand outside and rake the leaves during the daylight hours at his leisure. He has been turned to good and should get a great house as his reward.

I have spoken at length about the number of kids’ movies where one of the main points is that either dad needs a new job or to cut back the hours on his old job, because having a demanding job is bad. Here we have it blasted back at us again via criticism of Warren. If you’re not feeling guilt or being bothered by canceling a date with Liz, who lives almost 3000 miles away from you, then good for you, Warren. Guilt is not a healthy thing for someone who has done nothing wrong. I salute your inconsistency and hope you bring it on. Show us just how stupid and insecure Elizabeth Patterson is. I think you are just the fellow to take Liz to new lows, and I am looking forward to it.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Strange Saga of Warren Blackwood

Warren Blackwood in For Better or For Worse was shown to be interested in Liz at her university graduation and promised to visit her. Then he disappeared. Liz occasionally mentioned how she wondered where he was, but there were no scenes of e-mailing or attempted communication. That aspect of the relationship was handled only in the monthly letters, so when Warren shows up out of the blue 1½ years later and there is supposed to be tension in the strip over whether she will pick Paul or Warren, in fact there is no tension at all.

Lynn’s lesson: You have to show something between Liz and her supposed boyfriend because the stupid readers don’t seem to be able to keep a character in their mind for more than 1½ years.

Liz moves to Milborough and we get to see Liz keeping Constable Paul Wright in her mind with several strips. But she reintroduces Warren year later, and once again there is no tension between Paul Wright and Warren Blackwood at all.

Lynn’s lesson:
You have to show something between Liz and her supposed boyfriend because the stupid readers don’t seem to be able to keep a character in their mind for more than 1 year.

Liz invites Warren to go to Mike’s Congratupalooza party.

A brief digression. Mike’s party was a solid plot idea which was completely wasted. There were so many characters who could have been revisited and even the ones which would make sense to be there (Lawrence Poirier, for example), were not there. A missed opportunity of the highest order. End of digression.

Liz invites Warren to go to Mike’s Congratupalooza party and Warren is so excited by Liz, he does his stupid “I’m flying” line and I’ll see you next week. Liz responds with nothing more passionate than “we’ll see what happens.”

Liz sends Warren a rambling text message about getting an apartment. Warren received Liz’s long and unfathomable text message and decided to call her directly instead of text messaging her back. Good for you, Warren.

Warren says his job is taking him to Yellowknife, so has to cancel. Liz pretends it doesn’t bother her, but then hangs up on Warren abruptly and spits at the phone.

Lynn’s lesson: If you make a character too nice, then when he becomes a lying cheater, the stupid readers believe the problem is the author’s fault. So, nice Warren barely has chance before he’s sacrificed to the God of distant boyfriends.

Although Warren and his actions with Paul were slimy, his enthusiasm about Liz is reasonably cute, and he seems to be genuinely interested in trying to keep things together with Liz this time, despite their distance. He is actually calling Liz to let her know what’s going on, unlike the one-sided calling with Liz and Constable Wright. To have such a strong negative reaction from Liz is out-of-character for her.

Friday, April 20, 2007

A few references.

The Martian teenager angst-to-English translator is described in Elly’s November, 2005, monthly letter, where she says she depends on Michael and Liz to translate April’s teenage angst for her. I thought I would bring out the reference, particularly with Liz’s unusual Net-speak.

I had briefly considered having Howard mention he saw Liz taking a course called Net-speak for Dummies, but then I opted to go with Rex of Rex Kwan Do, branching out with the same degree of expertise he has with the martial arts. This was my favourite post to write of the day.

I decided that on the Jeremy / April date, since the qualification of Jeremy’s goodness is that he doesn’t kiss and tell, like Gerald did, so that means Jeremy doesn’t post about the date. I decided to go with Mike and Howard telling the story of the date from at least what they can see of it. Naturally April can tell her side too, if she so desires, since she doesn’t have to prove her goodness. Just to let aprilp_katje know, my thought was that after going to the Kool Haus for DJ nite, Jeremy could take April out to a vacant lot and teach her how to ride a motorcycle, since you have had April mention she wanted to learn to ride one, which I took as a hint, but I have not been able to find the venue to use it. Also, how the date ends (hug, handshake, single kiss, several kisses, ear lobe stroking) is up to you. Of course, April doesn’t tell her secrets, so ambiguous hints also work well.

Ferengi reference from Josh the geek god, is from Star Trek Deep Space Nine. The large-eared Ferengi is a race of aliens for whom ear lobe stroking was akin to heavy petting.

The Enjos. There is not one strip of the Enjo parents in the on-line archive, even the Houston Chronicle one. Dawn Enjo appeared at the New Years Eve party where Liz busted up her leg. That’s been it. I figure Connie Poirier and Anne Nichols would never sell their places, but the Enjos across the street were fair game, and they were a couple I was sure was going to show up at Mike’s Congratupalooza, since they had the longtime Mike connection. I read their bios carefully and realized Keith does model trains and Carol does in-home care, so there were a lot of opportunities left to include this couple back in the Patterson’s lives, in case Lynn wanted to give them a last hurrah. It is obscure snark, but Becky and Howard’s househunting, can be fodder for a good series of snark.

Tomorrow’s strip: Liz calls a winner and Dr. John Patterson wins.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Everyone Accepts the Housening in 5...4...3…2…

In For Better or For Worse, Elizabeth accepts the great house exchange, primarily because she has found an apartment and won’t be living there, so she doesn't care. April accepts the house exchange only by accepting that things are going to change, and she can’t do anything about it. Then you have Deanna enthusiastically and somewhat bizarrely accepting not only the house, but the Patterson lifestyle of raising children. Then you have Elly accept it, after being bribed with new stuff. Maybe tomorrow, the mysteriously missing grandchildren will reappear from where they have been locked up, and express their delight in the idea of staying where they are.

As for the final joke, “Those women, they love their shopping!” about sums it up.

Since Lynn Johnston has made an issue of April buying her own stuff for her own room last fall when she was complaining about Liz moving in, I think this is another sign that April will not be moving with Elly and John. There is no consideration in tomorrow’s strip for the idea that April’s stuff, like Elly’s would need to be replaced. Lynn Johnston has a tendency to plot her strips knowing the ending, without considering the journey is more important than the destination, particularly where story-telling is concerned. I am sure there will be other strips detailing the move, but now this majour albatross has been taken care of, there is one other majour storyline left, and that is settling Elizabeth with her permanent guy friend. There’s about 4 ½ months left, and I think that might be enough to cover getting rid of Warren and hooking up with Anthony Caine. I expect a lot of Elizabeth strips in the months to come.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Deanna Revisited

Deanna Sobinski made an odd speech today, which quite a few people made the association with her being the perfect wife and sublimating her will and beliefs and desires to Michael’s. Over at the FOOBiverse’s Journal, there is a strong tendency to presume that Deanna bows to Michael’s every whim. When I look at the strips, oftentimes I find it is the other way around. I went back to the May 7, 2005 strip which started this whole sequence and it is Deanna (and not Mike) who starts pushing the idea of buying Elly’s place. Mike only wants to buy a place like Elly’s.

Even in today’s strip, Deanna actually interrupts what Mike is saying to interject the idea that she loves Elly’s place. Who has been united with John to convince Michael to get a house? Deanna. Who circumvented Mike going in with Josef Weeder to buy the Saltzman apartments? Deanna. You know I am suddenly beginning to wonder if the Kelpfroths actually set that fire, or if wasn’t a certain blonde woman with a bowl cut.

Full Curcle

Now we come full circle in For Better or For Worse. This whole sequence started with April talking to Elizabeth who was looking at apartment ads in a newspaper and now it is back to April and Liz talking about apartments again. Actually, if Lynn wants to truly go full circle, then in Wednesday’s strip, April and Liz will talk about April’s insecurities over Gerald with the loose lips, which is where April was headed conversationally before the apartment hunting-interruption. I would be impressed if that’s where it goes, but my expectations are very low.

It is interesting that given a choice between mom and dad, Mike and Deanna and the kids, April’s choice is to move in with Liz. I have to admit that would be my choice also. I wouldn’t want the live-in babysitter job and I wouldn’t want to live near Elly and her constant screaming.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The House - A Journey

It has been interesting to see this house-switching scheme unfold.
4-5. Elizabeth says she is moving out because Mike and Deanna haven’t decided what to do.
4-6. April talks to Elly who says she doubts Mike and Deanna will buy the Stibbs’ house, but they are going to look at it anyway, to see the interiour.
4-7. John and Deanna convince Mike to buy despite the fact it’s almost as bad as getting married.
4-8. Sunday
4-9. John approaches George Stibbs.
4-10. George has a price ready for his place. Neither he nor John plan to remarry.
4-11. The big 4 arrive. Mike says 2 bedrooms. Elly says small. John says add on. Mike says he could buy his dad’s place for the money it would cost to buy the Stibbs’ place as an example of how he could find a place which didn’t need an add-on. This makes it seem like it’s Mike and Elly’s idea, and John’s idea of an add-on has been ignored.
4-12. George Stibbs’ talks up the idea of selling his place to John and Elly. Elly says John has already made up his mind, and George Stibbs’ wink tell us that this whole thing has been concocted by him and John.
4-13. Elly’s protests are ignored by John and Mike. Then April interrupts.
4-14. John says April can live with them. Mike says April can live with them. Deanna speaks for the first time and really sells it to April. This tells us that she is onboard with the idea of the house switch.
4-15. Sunday
4-16. John rationalizes moving to the Stibbs’ house, with a rationale which does not hold up under inspection. April suspects it is a done deal. So do I. I predict April moves in with Mike and Deanna, based solely on Deanna’s enthusiastic welcome and the fact that having her in the house makes her available for April’s narrating “Little Aypo” strips for the hybrid.

A Busy Week

Meetings Meetings Meetings at work. Then my group, the Tucson Symphony Orchestra Chorus did a concert Thursday, Friday and have one this Sunday afternoon. And the most perilous of all, my boy did a Boy Scout Camporee without me, although I did drive down for the final closing ceremony bonfire tonight. As I write this, I can hear my daughter and her friend having a sleepover (better called an awake-over). Despite this personal action, when aprilp_katje announced that she was going to be absent on April’s Real Blog for the first time in centuries, I thought it would be fun for there to be a lot of posts waiting for her when she got back.

In the olden days of April’s Real Blog lore, the real-time posting was a fun, but tricky thing to do, but also a great source of lots of posts. My idea was that I would take the 3 characters I post the most and have them go to Corbeil, where aprilp_katje had established April was to rescue April. I figured I could use my 3 characters to get some interplay and differing perspective, and I threw in qnjones’ Becky, because she had been pretty much the only person/character who continued to do post interplay after aprilp_katje departed. Not only that but qnjones is superb at real-time posting. I figured if qnjones dropped in, she would see the action and get inspired. The other possibility was that aprilp_katje could return before I got done, see the action and get inspired. That did not exactly happen, unfortunately. I can’t really complain though. We haven’t done a real-time story on April’s Real Blog in a long time, and I had set it up so the 3 characters could interplay in case no one appeared. They were different enough from each other; I thought it worked out OK anyway.

As I was writing it, I decided to use a running joke of powdered sugar, and imply there was something intimate about it. The nice thing about April’s Real Blog and the way we have played up Elly Patterson’s love for pastries, the appearance of powdered sugar could also simply mean the people have been eating pastries together. It was fun to play them together where it could go either way, depending on how people interpreted my powdered sugar innuendo.

Lastly, I put in my interpretation of how I thought Lynn Johnston had planned to do April’s story with Gerald. She dropped hints Jeremy was interested in April, hints April was nervous about Becky around her boyfriend, and hints that Gerald was not all that nice a guy. I think if she had the time, the story I projected might have been the one she would have done.

Tomorrow’s strip: Best (of worst, depending on your perspective) of the pets. Or, a series of drawings once again demonstrating Lynn does not know how to draw domesticated animals.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

John Patterson, Master Schemer

We have an interesting sequence in For Better or For Worse, where Elly Patterson thinks she is going into George Stibbs’ house to satisfy her curiosity about how it looks on the inside, only to find out that George and John have been scheming to get Elly to buy George’s house, despite the fact John was suggesting “Add ons” to Mike yesterday, and Elly had declared that 2-bedrooms was too small for Mike and Deanna last week.

If Elly didn’t think Mike and Deanna would buy George Stibbs’ place, and John had arranged for George to meet Elly to convince her to trade houses, just what did she think was going to happen? It was yet another one of those situations where Lynn Johnston knows the outcome and drive the story that direction, despite the fact it doesn’t make a lot of sense

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

George Stibbs, Alone and Loving It

Normally you wouldn’t expect sons of a man close to death to want him to remarry, because the new wife would almost assuredly snag the inheritance. However, in Milborough, if the old man remarries (like Grandpa Jim) and has medical problems, then the new wife is saddled with taking care of him; while the younger relatives play. That might be worth losing an inheritance to not have to deal with the “aged until almost dead” relative. George Stibbs’s boys want him to remarry, and given the example of Grandpa Jim, I can see why they might want that to happen. A good wife means George’s boys don’t have to lift a finger to help him. Grandpa Jim has set a good example for them.

George doesn’t want to remarry, and John confesses he would not remarry either. George says, “Once is enough” in order to attract attention to the idea his marriage was bad. John gives no reason, but I suspect he was thinking it was more out of loyalty to his deceased wife. Perhaps that is the reason John agreed with him. But the final panel of the strip is a delight if you think of John Patterson suddenly thinking, “I could live without Elly!! Why haven't I thought of this before?"

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Meet George Stibbs

It was a long Easter today. My in-laws were in town to visit with us, and they left not too long ago. So, I did no more April’s Real Blog posting after the initial Michael post. There ended up not being any additional posts, so I suppose everyone else was similarly busy.

Tomorrow’s strip: Meet George Stibbs. We can tell he is familiar enough with John’s routine, so he knows when John is taking time off work. Considering John only works 3 days a week, this is a significant detail. It means George must see John practically every day, to know which days he works and doesn’t work. We also know George is the kind of friendly fellow who will offer a man, trying to find something to do other than what he took off work to do, a cup of coffee and perhaps even let the man take his dogs into his house. George is observant, and George is friendly, and George doesn’t mind a little dog dirt. Already I like him better than the other characters in For Better or For Worse.

Easter Bunny / Jesus, Best of Friends

aprilp_katje kindly pointed out to me yesterday, a strip in the For Better or For Worse archive very similar to the one in Easter Sunday’s strip. In that strip, dated from April 7, 1996, April is in Sunday School, while Liz, Elly and John attend the worship service. Afterwards, April explains exactly how the Easter Bunny met Jesus. Aside from Mike’s second wedding, this could have been the last time the Pattersons went to church. I found it interesting to note that April had just turned 5 at the time, while Meredith will turn 5 in October. The difference in April’s speech and Meredith’s speech is striking. Meredith speech is far in advance of April’s.
However, April seems to have the advantage, insomuch as she knows the answer to Meredith’s question. The coincidence of the matching ages between April and Meredith cannot be that much of a coincidence, considering Lynn Johnston’s love of repeating strips and jokes, with slight alterations. However, I find it astonishing, she would keep in her mind the idea that whenever a character is about to turn 5, it is time to dig up the old church strip and have a variation on this joke.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Fear of Home Buying

I remember vividly the first time I bought a house. I was a single, young man of 26 and I had just spent a year working what they call “field service” work, to make the extra money necessary to buy 2 things. (1) was a downpayment on a house and (2) was an engagement ring for my then-girlfriend. Well, my relationship with my girlfriend did not survive my “field service” work, but I decided to go ahead and buy the house anyway. I was sick and tired of apartment living, and I had also discovered that with many women, owning a house was waving a giant flag which said, “Dependable Man for Nesting.” When you are an unattractive man, you need all the help you can get. This proved to be the case, when my next serious girlfriend became my wife.

In any case, I called up a realtor, and spent a few weekends trying to convince him that what I said I wanted in a house, was actually what I wanted. I don’t know why this is a difficult thing, but each time I have used realtors since then when purchasing homes with my wife, the same difficulty arose. My haughty demands at the time were that I wanted a 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 2 car garage and a yard with one decent tree in it. This was primarily because I had been told those kinds of places resold the best, which has certainly proved to be the case.

I loved my first house, I think because it was the only house I got to pick (see aforementioned note about getting married) and had all the things I wanted. House purchases after that have all been compromises, and a husband should never underestimate how important it is to his wife for her to get all the things she wants. I have never quite understood this, but the way the house looks, its upkeep, and its decorations are reflections of the woman of the house; even if the woman has a very poor spatial sense for laying out rooms. I have never received a compliment for how nice my house looks, like my wife does. The closest I get is, “Nice-sized house”.

When we finally found a suitable house for me, the next thing I had to deal with was a loan officer telling me I could afford to spend more money on a house, and didn’t I want to do that. I thought it was an odd request at the time, but the next homes after that, house-hunting with my wife, every house purchase was the most possible house I could afford. Frankly, home buying when you buy less than what you can afford is a lot less stressful.

When I see poor Michael Patterson in tomorrow’s strip of For Better or For Worse, all stressed out because he is afraid of the “life-changing commitment” of buying a house, I cannot relate in the slightest. Frankly, I don’t know what his problem is either. He has been saving 5 years to buy a house. He has at $20K of financial encouragement from the Sobinskis to help him. He spent the last 2 years with terrible neighbours who actually burned down the apartment in which was living, and that apartment was falling apart before it was torched. He should be, by all rights, eager and anxious to get into a house. And yet, his wife and his dad have to put together all this information for him, just to convince him to do it. It makes Michael Patterson look like a fearful, cowering, indecisive simpleton. At least he’s not egotistical this time.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Red Herrings

I was at a Maundy Thursday service tonight, singing in the choir, and as I looked through the congregation in the area where the teenagers sit, I saw the side of a girl’s face who had the dangling section of hair like April has in her current do. I got quite excited until the girl turned her head and I realized it was dangling because all of her hair had been brushed over in that direction of her head. In other words, she did not have matching dangling hair like April. I will be diligent though, to see if I spot any other persons with April’s unusual hair style.

This has been a strange week so far in For Better or For Worse, where Lynn Johnston appears to be changing plotlines no longer every week, but instead every day. In tomorrow’s strip she introduces the idea that George Stibbs’ house is not suitable for Mike and Deanna (a fact which should have been apparent from Day 1), and introduces the idea that Elly is going to look at it, which will then lead to their eventual purchase of the property, and selling their place to Mike and Deanna. I suppose the Red Herring in this business was the idea that Mike and Deanna would consider the Stibbs’ property for themselves, after John Patterson spent the better part of the last year drooling over it. I am sorry, Lynn Johnston, but your red herrings are far too easy to spot these days. (Note: Don’t take too long getting rid of Warren Blackwood. We have figured out he’s a red herring.)

Not only are the red herrings easy to spot, but I frankly didn’t care which house Mike and Deanna ended up going into. The reason for this is plain and simple. One house, 8 people, 2 dogs, 1 cat, 1 rabbit. All sorts of comic possibilities. Full House took this joke for 9 seasons, and Lynn Johnston has only done one panel of one strip since Christmas Eve, 2006, with all the Pattersons there. I am not sorry to see a promising premise end, when the author has no idea what to do with it.

Things we didn’t see:
a. Dr. Patterson and Deanna Patterson commuting to work together.
b. All 4 animals interacting together, as was described in the Pets letters.
c. Elly and John enjoying their grandchildren.
d. Mike at home alone writing novel #2, after everyone else has left for their perspective days at school or the office or the daycare.
e. Elly getting chastised by Moira Kinney for working Lilliputs’ after the fire, and leaving her grandchildren with Connie Poirier.
f. A visit by the Sobinskis.
g. Elizabeth, Mike, and Deanna interacting.

There were so many possibilities and it’s almost too late to do them.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Flirt or Tease?

A flirt would smile a lot, make eye contact, giggle and throw their head back when they laugh. When they talked to a man, they would touch his arm or hand or back. They would listen with interest in what the man had to say. They would give compliments, and would feel comfortable talking about provocative subjects.

A tease knows they aren't interested in the guy; knows they don't want to date him, but act like they do. And they like the attention or the confidence it gives them and that's why they do it.

A tease is generally meant to mean someone who leads someone on. A flirt is someone who just generally flirts with everyone in a good natured way.

Based on these definitions, Elizabeth is a tease with Warren Blackwood, because she knows she’s not interested in him and accepts dates with him anyway. He’s just there to pass the time until Anthony Caine gets off his butt and asks her out. Constable Paul Wright fell into the same category most evidently, when Elizabeth finds Anthony Caine has gotten divorced and she immediately moves back to be close to him.

Elizabeth is a flirt with Anthony Caine. She sprayed compliments all over him about having his own place, and building the things he built around his house. She touches him a lot and lets him touch her when they talk. She seemed to listen to what he said, for the most part.

I don’t know what to make of April and Gerald. It’s like they have an annual kissing rendezvous, but the rest of year they hardly touch or talk to each other. They don’t sit by each other at lunch; they don’t stand by each other when the band is relaxing. It wasn’t until this past March where they had a strip of them holding hands. What few times they do talk, it’s all business. Then you had this "makeout while reclining" sequence, which is the focus of the current strip, followed by April dressing to emphasize her breasts, and wearing more makeup and a different hairstyle. But then she won’t Gerald touch her in front of the guys, even before they reveal they know all about the story of what happened. April is definitely not a flirt. I am afraid to say, she appears to be a tease.

But it wasn't always this way. April used to be enthusiastic about Gerald. If I go through the monthly letters, you can see April cool toward Gerald:

April's Letter, August 2005

Gerald and I broke a band rule too - no dating other members. I never expected him to kiss me at our dance, but honestly I'm glad he did. If the band's gone down the sewer anyway, at least I have a boyfriend. I think about him all the time. I write his name on everything. He kisses really softly - not like the face chewing stuff you see on TV. That looks so gross. I hope it lasts longer than our band did. "It" meaning my relationship with Gerald.

April's Letter, September 2005

I missed Gerald and Liz and Buttsy and the dogs while I was away in Manitoba, but it was good to be away from home for a while. I've got to go - Gerald and I are going to go see a movie. When we're together, I don't think about anything but him. He is so cute. He looks down when he smiles, like Prince William. I like Gerald soooooo much!!! (Secret, secret, secret!) He probably doesn't know how much!

April's Letter, September 2006

Gerald and I are a "couple" and we talk too - but when you're into someone, sometimes conversations can be taken the wrong way.

April's Letter, January 2007

Gerald and I have been "dating" for about three years now. We have some drama; I don't get to see him very much because both our parents don't want us to get serious, but we talk on MSN a lot and we're close. We don't want to be one of those couples at school who are all glued to one another like some people are so you can never talk to one of them on their own. We don't hold hands or anything at school, and we sure don't get caught kissing under the stairs like other couples do.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Consequences of Physical Intimacy

I remember the teenage romance comics. When I saw April and the “Sweet 16 and never been kissed” phrase, I was reminded of an old romance comic I saw a long time ago where the straight-laced boy, wearing the letter sweater walked by a girl lying in the grass kissing a boy and thinking, “And she told me she’d never been kissed!” And there was the title of the story blazing “Never Been Kissed.” I can make fun of it now, but I remember clearly my mother, who was born in 1939, telling me when she was growing up in the 1950s, a lot of girls were so ignorant about sex, they did honestly believe that being caught kissing a boy was a shameful act. Of course, my mom’s dad was a Southern Baptist minister, so that might have had something to do with my mother’s perception.

As I understand it, Lynn Johnston turns 60 this year, which means her teenage years were from 1960 – 1966, not in the 1950s. Of course, what this really means is that Lynn wants April to have some comeuppance for what she did with Gerald, and this idiotic storyline is what she came up with. Lynn wants April to be bad, but not so bad we don’t like her, and yet bad enough to deserve a punishment. Too bad she didn’t come with any way to do that, which would make sense in the 21st century.

April Socializes Only With Couples

April’s 15th birthday party last year, had 3 couples, one of which has never been seen since. Then the 16th birthday party only had the 2 primary couples. Considering Luis Guzmán has been introduced as a part of the band, the only reason I can figure for his exclusion is the fact he doesn’t have a girlfriend. April’s March monthly letter, indicated Luis had an unnamed girlfriend, but she has never been seen in the strip. I think if Luis had a girlfriend, he would have been there with the rest of the band at April’s birthday party. Since he was not there, my guess is that Luis does not actually have a girlfriend. I had created Alto Escurrido (Tall Skinny in Spanish), as a girlfriend for Luis to match the monthly letter. As of April’s birthday, I no longer believe Luis has a girlfriend, and April’s new glamourous look was the perfect opportunity to get rid of her, since I can use our old running plotline of the Patterson allure as the culprit.

When I think about it, April used to socialize exclusively with Becky, Gerald, and Duncan. At some point, Lynn must have planned to introduce the idea that they had all coupled off when they were old enough, but then she realized Duncan and Becky together wouldn’t work for her. An elaborate storyline later, and now Eva has filled Becky’s spot.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Oh, She Was Only 16

It was not really until Elizabeth Patterson came home to Milborough from Mtigwaki (Land of Trees), that she developed her lips of loveliness and the look which is currently associated with her. In other words, when she started to look more like a model than Elizabeth. I am sorry to see the same thing happen to April as of turning 16. The old Patterson girls with their big bottoms, small chests, flaccid arms, noses which were not pert and perky, were more appealing because it made them more like girls to whom you could relate, or whom you would like to date (depending on your perspective). Fortunately for us, 16-year-old April’s hair is even uglier than before, but that was always the part of her appearance I liked the least. I always thought Shannon Lake had the best hair and was one of the most attractive women in the FOOBiverse, even though this was clearly not Lynn’s intent in drawing her.

I am not sure where Lynn is going with glammed up April, but I feel as though Lynn Johnston has just handed me a pistol loaded with snark.