Tags: milbo althist

Snarky Candiru2

Breaking the gossip machine

Of course, the presence of Molly and Gayle in the Thomas household when their dad was being a spineless git with no will of his own is not the only conversation that could not take place without shining a harsh light on the characters. We're about a week away from a confrontation that has to be side-stepped forever when Maeve and Cecily assume that having found the single life less fulfilling than he'd hoped, John came crawling back to Elly. Lynn would probably like us to assume that the local gossip machine eventually got their facts straight but it works somewhat in her favour if it's assumed that almost thirty years after the fact Maeve, Jean and Cecily are still ignorant about what really went on.

This is so she can avoid having to once and for all have the characters confront bad habits that they got into. First off, John would finally have to face up to the fact that he'd blundered into a self-made omnishambles by his unprofessional habit of complaining about his wife and children because he's all butthurt owing to their not being the media stereotypes he needs them to be to feel that his life is going the way it was meant to. Elly is supposed to be happier than she is and the kids are supposed to find manual labour sheerest mindless bliss and since they're the people they are instead of the sitcom morons television told him to expect, he gripes how irrational they are. His non-stop grumbling about having a life most people would envy makes it damned easy to believe that yes, he would run away from home with a floozy when asked to change a diaper.

Of course, that would mean having a work wife whose role appears to be delivering withering sitcom put-downs about how ungrateful he is except when it mattered. When he's merely beefing about how oddly unhappy Elly seems to be all the time, she's quick with a quip but when he started saying something that hinted that he was doing a damned sight more than complaining, she became as strangely passive and furtive as the woman he's actually married to. The whole blasted thing would have been prevented if she'd done more than huff "MEN!!!" when he talked about how great the apartment was. That can't happen because of a weird and stupid belief Lynn has: one must never directly confront anyone you are pissed off at or else some undefined horror will be visited upon you.
Snarky Candiru2

The Look-away Effect.

To continue on from my last post, it's fairly obvious as to why Elly might not want to speculate as to whether someone who really did seem to be interested in her back in High School actually was. First off, she'd rather not have to admit that perhaps her mother (who was old and thus had forgotten what it was like to be young and thus was nothing BUT a source of terrible advice) was right about the less spectacular looking guy being Mister Right after all. Spouting off about how an unambitious slug like Anthony was going to be a world beater is for her, not for her mom.

The second reason is that she'd rather not have to speculate on what her life would have been like with this proto-Anthony. It would be destructive to her self-concept were she to admit that she moved away from home to pretty much marry a near-duplicate of her mom's choice in son-in-law anyway. Given her limitations and the social expectations of a regular dumb guy who came up in the fifties, I'm pretty certain that if she'd stayed in the Vancouver area, she'd be living the life she does now. She'd have a different last name, the children she made into adversaries would look slightly different but the fact of the matter is that she was never really going to escape her destiny as a frustrated mess who blames other people for her lack of brains, guts and stamina. She can't admit to that without realizing that she's to blame for her messed-up life so she doesn't want to look at the problem.
Snarky Candiru2

Mike Patterson: Bystander

As you know, the consensus is that Lynn's long-term plan for Molly Thomas was to turn her into the victim of a plot thread slightly more retrograde than a Wes Craven movie. As I'd said before, we would have Elly as a Grade Z Mary Worthless dispensing cock-eyed wisdom to all comers, Connie and Greg anticipating their role in the Outening, Molly as the social leper everyone is forced to tolerate for appearance's sake and Gayle as the Last Girl in a slasher flick, there to remind us that Lynn fears female sexual agency almost as much as an asshole Hollywood script writer.

It would appear that I left out someone who is, if not the most important player in the drama, at the very least vital to the Very Special Episode Lynn was told to drop at once by Sensible Muse Tom Johnston: the little boy who has to endure the incoherent babbling about how someone who looks impressive is really a bad person because Mother had a bad feeling about him. Just as the slug-like zombie Anthony was 'really' the best choice for Liz because Elly liked him, Mike would have to be told that only people Elly is fond of can possibly be trusted to look out for his best interests.
Snarky Candiru2

The blizzard of 2017: a proposal.

As I said the other day, it would be next to impossible to have a blizzard arc like the one we have to endure actually set in the real present day because if it were, Elly would be standing around griping at John because he sided with the silly stupid weatherman instead of trusting her 'experience' with grey days like the one they were dealing with. There wouldn't be a need to shut down his office, her library or the school pre-emptively until she managed to get herself stuck in the snow just to prove him, the city, the school board and Environment Canada wrong about what sort of day it would be.

Also, he'd be an annoying know-it-all because he ruined her day and made her look a fool because he was prepared for the power outage that came along around about ten or so in the morning because the thing with the island turned him into a prepper for some reason or another. This means that instead of being a bad man who doesn't take her seriously, the John I came up with is bad because he was smarter than she was about a situation.
Snarky Candiru2

The world without April

Sometimes, it occurs to me that Lynn's claim that she wrote the Nichols family out of the strip because reviewing the past was too hurtful is so much hogwash. As howtheduck says, the real reason is that with the Martian in the mix, we didn't need to go next door in order to get the cute kid strips that Lynn loves to do. He makes this assumption because we stopped going to Gordo's place for cute kid strips when Meredith was born.

What this all means that without April fooling all of us, Lynn would have to have some other means of killing Farley and occupying Elly's time. It seems to me that both purposes could have been fulfilled by the Nichols family. We could establish Leah as another disobedient doorknob who played around streams because Anne needed a Stern Lecture about how she should watch over her own kids before lecturing Elly. That way, no Patterson would have to absorb the hatred of the monkeymass for killing Farley.
The other way the Nicholses could have helped fill the time is because Christopher was being given the Boy Next Door edit Anthony ended up with. We could have had a wonderful time had that taken place. This is because we could have seen:
  1. Steve being made out to be a disgusting freak who, even if he didn't stand against the will of God and Man by implying that Liz is not the one, would defy all that is good and pure by encouraging him to play the field before and during their marriage.

  2. Anne making Mira look like Christopher Hitchens when she suggests that Liz be stoned to death for having pre-marital sex.

  3. Christopher wailing that he has no home because his marriage to Melody Morrison isn't a damned fifties conform-to-the-norm educational film.

  4. Liz still having to be purified to become worthy of Christopher because Lynn's brain is Harlequin novels and schmaltz.

  5. Melody Morrison ending up in prison for the sort of child negligence Lynn usually treats as a great big joke.

  6. Anne trying to scuttle Chris and Liz's wedding lest God kill everyone for allowing a FALLEN WOMAN to find love.

  7. Anne and Steve dying ironically as the weathervane off of the church gets embedded in her skull while he strokes out nailing a bridesmaid.

It would have been more wonderful dumb fun than watching a Tamil action movie. Sure, no one would have the gravity punched out of them by a guy who looks like a shop teacher but it would have been a big old time.
Snarky Candiru2

Elly versus structural integrity.

To expand on my comment the other day on how it would make more sense for the whole stupid "jocks versus smocks" arc be about Elly doing battle with either the forces of modern architecture or a militant historical preservation society, it seems to me that the two arcs would be a sort of foreshadowing of the "Mike doesn't have all the facts at his disposal before he becomes the public face of a misguided protest" arc. After all, they'd both have the same starting point the arc we saw had: Sue filling Elly's head with mush that has nothing to do with the real problem. As it would be later on, a Patterson would go to war against the wrong enemy because a charismatic boob shared a brain fart.

It seems to me that they'd both have the same ending point: Elly being chastised by John about being led astray by someone ignorant of the real stakes. The road that would have her do battle against a vandal who would take a fine old historical building, level it and replace it with a soulless glass and steel cracker box reminds me of something happening in my own life. This is because my old junior high school is in rather sorry shape because time and sloppy building practices have not been kind to it. The 2014-15 school year had them hold classes at two other local schools and there's talk of tearing it down and replacing it with a new school. Were Lynn to have pursued that angle, we'd have seen her resent the architect, the fire marshall and John for telling her that it doesn't matter how sincere she is if the ceiling falls in and kills someone.

She'd also resent the head of the local historical society for telling her that trying to shoehorn theater groups in a space not designed for it so that it might be turned into a sort of annex to the local museum because even though the arts community would probably have more money to play with if they didn't have to shell out quite so much on insurance at a more modern and suitable space, Elly would see everyone else winning as being a defeat because she couldn't weep, bully or threaten people in such a manner as she got what she wanted and damn what everyone else does.
Snarky Candiru2

The secondary effect of medical missions.

To continue merrily on from yesterday, I should think that there would be another after-effect of John going overseas that Elly wouldn't like. Said side effect of his actually encountering refugees who lived in war zones would be rather a nasty surprise that would tend to "lessen" his effectiveness as a proper Patterson parent in that it would tend to make him shut up about problem hair.

You see, most of the reason why he and the gang currently get away with pulling that filthy trick on the kids in order to shut them up and make them feel guilty when they just need to vent their frustrations like everyone else is that they don't actually know what they're talking about. Actual exposure to that world and actually having it explained to him that the people down there hate like fire the idea of being used as cautionary examples might tend to finally get him to admit that yes, he and his family are blessed and yes, he's a rather sort of horrid fellow for blathering on about what children owe him.

This means that when he got back home, he'd tend to say unhelpful things about how Eva Warzone should shut up about things and how maybe he was out of line acting as if the kids were freeloading off of him. Since that would clash with Elly's discontent, she'd end up thinking that she'd rather had have him step out on her than be brainwashed into being a sucker.
Snarky Candiru2

On medical missions and soap operatic thinking.

As you know, I've never really been a fan of the very stupid thing Lynn did when she changed Connie and Lawrence's back story. She began life as a hometown girl who married way too damned young only to have her husband Pete take off on her and leave her in the lurch and ended up as the centre-point of a God-damned soap opera about a medical mission and a romance with a dark-skinned fantasy figure who couldn't live in the white-bread world of English Canada.

I should like to point out that I'm also not a fan of the fact that when Deanna was working the evil yearning for life beyond the cozy and not at all narrow or suffocating or stultifying bounds of Suburbia, Mike spent the whole time sick with the fear that absence might make the heart go wander. This is because I don't much care for his being the personification of the intersection of Lynn's inability to trust people when she can't see them and her fear of the unfamiliar. This means that it wasn't just the need to gather data by which she can inform the kiddies that they're horrible and selfish that made her accompany Rod to somewhere sticky-hot and uncomfortable where she wasn't fawned over. It was her unswerving belief that if he were let out of her sight, he'd do the nasty with his harem.

This, as I've said before, is why her ideal version of Rod didn't have the evil impulse to leave her side and engage with an outside world that obviously wanted her to die alone and unloved because the evil children in second grade looked at her like some kind of freak because of her obsession with pairing off. What would have been interesting is watching what would have happened if John had gone to Honduras with Deanna. Watching Elly fret and fume stupidly about the less than zero possibility that he'd want his day-to-day life to change would have been a delightful way to spend the late nineties.
Snarky Candiru2

The other lost opportunity reconsidered.

As howtheduck pointed out, for the longest time, Lynn wrote Brian's dialogue as if he were a stand-in for Lawrence. This and the fact that she had Carol wish that he'd displayed any sort of interest in girls made it easy to assume that instead of permanently derailing Lawrence's character so that he mutated into a big gay vending machine, it had been Brian who got kicked out of his house by a mother who wanted sense talked into him and a father who suddenly decided that his son was no longer his kind.

Watching her pull her punches like this is sort of a shame because we all know that if the Enjo family had been divided on the issue of whether to acknowledge Brian's existence (or whether Keith needed to be grabbed by the back of the head and have his stupid face smashed into an I-beam until his brain came back online), it would have had a hell of a lot more impact than Greg screaming about being "betrayed" by a boy he barely knew in the first place. After all, Keith and Carol have known Brian all of his life; the realization that they didn't know him as well as they thought would hit harder than Greg not knowing the side-effect of his obtaining a cook-slash-maid-slash-nanny for the teenaged girls he was playing head games with. Why, it could take months for the problem to be resolved correctly. Months in which the Pattersons would wind up actually being the family they advertise themselves as being by taking him in.

Too bad that Lynn cheated. She also cheated by not making her token gay character into Rod's brother Ralph; for reasons that should be obvious, she didn't want the sort of gay culture that scared her infiltrating the strip so thus eventually paired Lawrence off with a man who makes Anthony look dynamic.
Snarky Candiru2

On demented mentoring: How to slam teenagers without having a teenager.

While I have made something of a case for why Lynn didn't actually need a teenaged Patterson rattling around in the first decade of the century to achieve her goals, she still does need to scare people about the evils of the children who are going to be working three jobs to pay for their retirement. Validating their chicken-hearted decision to settle for less and marry their own personal Pornstache and scaring them about computers is not enough; she must also remind them that free will is fine for her generation but a horrible menace in the hands of people who weren't around to experience Beatlemania.

It seems to me that she already had a person like that in the strip: Kortney. Since the dull-witted antagonist was a friend's child and since Elly doesn't hang around with the naturally criminal lower orders if she can avoid it, it seems obvious that making her a thief was as unnecessary as Batiuk's decision to turn a crappy high school Lothario into a date rapist after the fact because he needed Dead Lisa to be a saint. All she needed to do was have the child ask "stupid" questions and offer "stupid" solutions. Well, there's that and actually showing us Anthony's kid sister. We could have her show up and defend E-VILE Thérèse; that oughta scratch the e-vile child itch pretty damned good. Come to think of it, we could have her fill another role: Farley's 'executioner'. More on that tomorrow.