November 1st, 2005

November letters

Okay, I'm back. You guys all made excellent comments! And I noticed that some of you were addressing the characters directly, which reminds me of that distant time when readers were able to email the Pattersons. LJ disabled that option, for some odd reason, but I'm going to respond to the Pattersons anyway.

Dear Elly,

What are all your friends dying of -- bird flu? You're not even that old, at least according to the calendar, so how is this your time to attend funerals?

And your reasoning about why trick-or-treating was slow doesn't make sense. It's certainly plausible that there aren't as many kids in your neighborhood as there once were, but aren't the houses the same distance apart as they always were? Also, regarding the bookstore Halloween party. When you're making a witty remark, you don't say "The joke is [hyuck hyuck]..." you just make the comment and wait for it to sink in.

And did it ever occur to you that the reason April gets surly sometimes (IF she does; I haven't seen her acting that way recently) is because you treat her like a criminal? Why don't you try TALKING to her, if you're so concerned? I get the definite impression that you're not even concerned about her making an error of judgment. This is just about you wanting to have total. and complete. control over her. And anyway, what's she been doing that's so horrible? Playing music? Doing your work at the bookstore? Being ignored by you, when you took off for the frozen North with Liz the day she came back from the farm? Yeah, she's a real wild child.

And I notice that you claim to be able to relate to April because menopause is exactly the same (which it is not) NOT because you remember what it's like to go through puberty. Or even because you remember what Liz was like at that age. You are mind-bogglingly self-centered. Although you've got it half right about your own emotional surges. You are incapable of reason, although you misspelled "all the time" as "at a moment's notice."

And perhaps you should take a lesson from Ted, instead of analyzing him like he's an interesting freak. YOU get some exercise, and skip the bath. Meanwhile, stop treating April like crap, and your household will be more pleasant.

Dear John,

I can see where Mike gets it from. He has his writing; you have your trains. Although to give you your credit, it sounds like you're quite good at what you do, while Mike's writing is, always has been and always will be, shite.

I will say, though, that your letter is usually the most well-executed out of all of them. You don't create confusion by saying, "Just so you know, something really interesting happened, so I'll tell you about it here rather than have it play out in the strip." As such, I'm okay with you talking about your trains and your jogging.

But I'm not okay with you joining in the chorus of "April is a problem child! Somebody lock her away until she's 18!" When does she cry, anyway? I don't believe we've seen her cry in the strip since Mr. B died. Why are you slandering her? Do you think she appreciates having you talk about her this way? (And yeah, when IS Elly's menopause going to be over?)

Good on you for not tying the comment about wanting to expand the practice to one about not wanting your waistline to expand. But you lose points for not keeping April's private business private.

Dear Liz,

No, April would not tell you if she was up to something Elly would want to know about. She already knows she can't trust her brother, and by extension, that Elly thinks everything she does is suspect. And why do you phrase it that way, anyway? If she does tell you something disturbing, do you plan to counsel her yourself? Or are you going to purr, "Of course I won't tell Mom," and then the minute you hang up, dislocate a finger dialing Elly?

Also, you have a short memory, babe. Remember when you and Anthony were having your second go-round in high school, and the whole neighborhood was united in spying on you, and calling your parents if they saw the two of you smooching? Remember how angry and frustrated you were? Now, granted, April was quite a blabbermouth at that time, but that doesn't mean two wrongs make a right. If you feel her behavior requires intervention, do so yourself. Don't run and tell John and Elly, who will only react by punishing her.

Also, I'm not sure how the teachers reacting badly to April's clowning would make her unpopular. And I can't imagine that she's heartbroken to finally have teachers who don't see her in your shadow, or Mike's.

And as far as living alone, I'm surprised you think of yourself that way. How can you say you live alone when the whole town invites themselves to your school field trips?

However, your comments about Anthony make me think there may be hope for you yet. You're absolutely right: he did get himself into this situation. Keep that, and the fact that it is not your problem or responsibility, firmly in mind. Besides, I have a feeling that something's going to happen very soon to distract you!

Dear April,

Someone else wrote this letter for you, didn't they. The real letter was along the lines of "Okay, now I get to say something in my defense. I have done nothing wrong. My mom has no reason to spy on me, and my brother was way out of line, telling her how to do it. I am NOT a baby, sister or otherwise, and I will not be treated this way." And so forth, and that's all you talked about. I'm right, aren't I?

Not that I blame you one bit. I bet you didn't stay home to hand out candy of your own accord. Your dad could have done that. You were being punished, right? There was probably a dance at school you should have been at, but your mom wouldn't let you go because they would have been playing that "threatening and cacophonous" music.

The thing is, you should be popular! You're pretty, you're talented, you're nice to people, from what I've seen in the strip, and yes, that does go a long way, and you already have a boyfriend, so other girls shouldn't be paranoid about you. All in all, you should have a healthy social life...if your mom wasn't such an unreasonable shrew. Just have to keep feeding her those muffins, I guess, and when she goes down for the count, your dad will let you do whatever you want, as long as it doesn't interfere with his trains.

That said, your mom wasn't much like this with Liz and Anthony, but your dad was! If IMs had existed at that time, he probably would have been tracking hers. So don't be too quick to assume that you're being treated so differently from your sister. The difference is mainly that it's your mom doing the micromanaging, and you know how THAT goes.

And for your sake, I hope you do get to go to Mtig. Any time spent away from your parents is good, no?

Dear Mike,

You. Make. Me. SICK! You're stupid. You're a petty, vindictive brat. You don't have a wife; you have a maid/cook/nanny/concubine. AND YOU CAN'T WRITE! But eeknight has already done a stunning analysis of your mirthful meanderings, so go check it out yourself. Use a dictionary for the big words.

P.S. FOAD for helping Elly spy on April. That is none. Of your. Business. Why is it that the only time you take an interest in someone else's life, it's to interfere or hurt them, never to help? I think you're becoming a sociopath.

Dear Deanna,

Why aren't YOU the writer?! Your first three paragraphs were brilliant! Well written AND insightful! The wrong person is up in that attic.

But do you really buy that crap about how a dog just HAPPENED to tear apart the bags with the plaster in them, just a day or two after Mike's column appeared? Much less that Lovey would immediately say, "That's ceiling plaster! And it came from the K's apartment! Specifically, from their HALLWAY ceiling! And I know exactly how much it will cost to repair!"?

Meanwhile, why can't your husband (remember him?) deal with the crisis of running out of milk? Aaah, don't answer that...

Dear Jim,

I gotta say, I wish everyone could be so tolerant towards April. Or tolerant in general. Good for you, man. Seriously.

eeknight Analyzes Mike Patterson

I can smell soup cooking on the stove downstairs. From her mother, Deanna inherited the ability to create soup from leftovers,

The man's ass-backward emotionally and literally!

cleverly disguising the most forgettable leg or legume, making everything from pasta to old poetry palatable. She's amazing.

Wish I could sic my editor on him. She hates alliteration. Does Dee read old poetry while she cooks? And if so, why would he dislike old poetry? Usually it's stood the test of time and is superior.

I'm impressed by her ingenuity: she's a mom, a professional and an understanding companion

Companion? What, she's a labrador retriever? Connubial Companions for Comfort? You talk like a gay man, sir.

to a writer who is often at home but whose mind is elsewhere! I don't tell her often enough how much I appreciate her.

Bet you don't show her that often either.

I am enjoying my freelance work immensely. Some jobs I cannot wait to start.

Backwards ran the sentences until reeled the mind.

Manuscripts especially carry me away, and if I can make a few good adjustments, find a few errors and contribute to a potential bestseller I feel a kind of ownership. I have had the pleasure and the privilege of working with two authors whose work is becoming better known each year. One is an historian whose novels are based on real incidents.

WHAT THE FUCK ? If his histories are based on fake incidents, they're not histories, you dipshit.

The depth of his research is astounding and each story is filled with detail as though he was writing a memoir of a past life.

I don't even know where to begin with this. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

The other author enjoys writing fiction. Her specialty is the bodice-ripping-whodunit and always contains a medical twist. It always takes specialized technology to solve one of her cases. It sounds formulaic, but her skills are unique and the characters are compelling enough to keep even a seasoned cynic

How old is Mike and how long has he been editing novels?

like myself on the edge of my seat. Last year when her third novel was released, I stood looking at the bank of covers in the bookstore,

For my sins I know a lot about book production schedules. It's late 2005 now. Her third book was last year therefore it came out in 2004. That meant it had to be edited in the first half of 2004 at the latest. When did Mike start getting all this freelance work?

proud to have been part of her book's production and giddy about having had the chance to see it before the readers could. It was like being in on a great conspiracy.

Almost as good as making fun of your neighbors in print, eh?

I also like working with scripts.

Jesus wept. Here it comes.

I've been editing works by several new playwrights, and modernizing some Shakespeare, Brecht and Coward for a post-millenial audience.

I can just see it:

"Now this winter was a total buzzkill,
but a most awesome sun came out in the form of a royal York dawg

And his bling parted the clouds
and served our worries into the big briny milkshake..."

I feel almost guilty in these cases,

Then you don't feel guilty. Any writer knows that the world "almost" is the weakest-assed word in the language.

however all of the greats have had their work reinterpreted

You're doing nothing of the sort, dick, unless you're translating from a language other than English or engaging in literary criticism.

countless times and I hope my relatively minor modifications wouldn't cause them too much offense.

Blow it out your ass, you pompus twat.

Sitting in my workspace late at night,n

(flogging away to internet porn)

my mind often wanders and I think about all the brilliant people whose creative contributions have lit up human history; and the people who are doing so today with their books and plays and art.

Anyone in particular? No? Then it's more pattented Patterson windbaggery.

I'm honoured to be among the creators,

They're so lucky to have had you editing them, aren't they?

and while I feel arrogant in hoping that my small contribution might make a difference, I have the ambition to do my best work and hope that someday it will.

Is it just me or is that sentence self-contraditory in two three ways? Or is it just meaningless.

At night, lying next to Deanna, I listen to the voices of the characters downstairs. I wonder what their motivations are, and I wonder if what I wrote about them will change them at all.

Huh? Is there such a thing as King Canute syndrome?

It was a funny piece, and I've had some good feedback.

From really good friends of yours.

I feel that the Kelpfroths deserved to be caricatured after the months of frustration that they've caused Lovey and my family.

Frustration? Your honor, I request that Michael Patterson be named in the record an expert on the subject.

I've had fleeting moments of guilt because my portrayal of them was, admittedly, biased. I was writing a humourous expose - not a journalistic retelling of our conflict - and while it might not have been kind, it was honest. The Kelpfroths shall remain anonymous unless they choose to expose themselves as the subjects,

Or someone looks up my address.

in which case they will legitimize my tale of woe. They have no grounds for a lawsuit, and living below a writer is not without its hazards; inspiration is seized from any source, and our neighbours are a wellspring.

There isn't a sock big enough for Mike to stick in it, is there?

With luck, either the neighbours or my family will have moved from here soon.

I fought the eviction, and I won...

I look at my children and remember (shortened for char requirement-eek)I want a big yellow kitchen for Robin and Meredith and for Deanna - a place where she can spread out her ingredients and make soup


without being worried about dropping a spoon or even a dish and annoying the neighbours.

Who cares? Honestly, Dee still cares about annoying the neighbors?

I want a back yard and a swing set and a puppy for the kids to play ball with.

I personally have nothing against ending a sentence with a preposition, but some big-time editors have a different opinion.

I want a driveway to shovel and a park nearby to play in.


My vision for my family requires preparation.

All about "me" as usual. Dee's opinion is whatever *I* want, if she know's what's good for her.

For my family, I work long hours. For the kids and for ourselves, Deanna and I save our salaries and turn leftovers into soup.

The soup thing is getting old, but there's no horse so dead Patterson can't flog it a little more...

I think I'll go down and stir things up. And I'll tell my wife how much I appreciate her.

Just can't say love, can you, you pussy.

Wednesday, November 2

Panel 1: Okay, no hot dogs, and there's a way to toast the marshmallows. But for a second, I thought the trees were talking! Then I saw the tiny little figures all neatly lined up below them. Incidentally, look at the building in the foreground. Is that a boot at the base of the rainpipe? And if so, why?

Panel 2: Ah, I can see it now. Liz won't have a clue how to set up the telescope. Of course, presumably the Natives won't either, since they're so bowled over by a star chart.

Panel 3: Okay, I guess she does know how to set it up. But this still does not make sense. You use a telescope to look at individual stars, not constellations, do you not? They should be looking for the North Star FIRST, then seeing how the Big and Little Dippers follow from that, then seeing how they fit into the larger pattern of the Pleiades, Orion, and so forth. You know, like they did on Ancient Sailing Ship?

Panel 4: Well, color me impressed! The teacher is competent! Seriously, I'm glad. It would have been very awkward for Liz if she'd been unable to do this, and as another poster speculated, it would have raised questions as to why she was teaching the village kids if she couldn't find...uh...Polaris...with both hands.

Panel 5: Is that a Native Elly? And it looks like the stargazers are lined up by height: tallest to shortest. If I were Liz, I'd say, "Youngest kids first, because they might have to leave earlier." And I'm assuming everyone did turn off their lights, but the background (at least in the color version) looks like the pine trees are on fire.