August 24th, 2008


Collection Recap: "Starting From Scratch" (1993-94)

The one where April plays matchmaker for Farley and Sera, Edgar is born, and Farley jumps a shark, rescues April, and goes to the big dog park in the sky.  Sorry, this is still a bit rough but I wanted to get it posted before we left for London.
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- Lily Petrucci, owner of Lilliput’s
- Moira Kinney, Lilliput’s employee
- Edgar, son of Farley and Sera
- Josef Myron Weeder (unnamed for the first few appearances and finally identified as Weed after Christmas)
Incidental characters:
- Meghan Terry and Jill, friends of Liz’s: she skates with Jill and Meghan and Meghan likes Anthony’s friend Evan
- Evan, an unseen friend of Anthony’s
- Ben, Lawrence’s partner, is seen for the first time at the high school graduation
- Nadine, a classmate of Liz’s who got a nose ring
- Weldon, a classmate of Liz’s who shaved his head
- Mr Curtley, who interviews Elly for a job at Philpott’s Department Store
- Dental patients Melissa (third time since 1988, but she hasn’t aged a day!) and Mr Dilbutt
- Mr Giroux, Elizabeth’s geography teacher
- Elly’s Christmas present list: Aunt Gwen, Julia, Terry and Cecily, Melanie (who has three kids), Georgia’s unnamed sister (who has two kids)
- Mr Bergner, the janitor at Mike’s college
- Mr Gallant, a classmate of Mike’
Biographical information:
- April tries to fix her bowl cut with a pair of scissors, lopping off her bangs
- Mike, Gordon, Brian, Lawrence (and presumably the invisible Darryl Smythe) graduate from high school
- Lawrence has been accepted to an agricultural college in Ottawa and Mike will be going to London
- Elly’s resume states that she was a high school grad, cashier, two years university (Arts, English majors), weekly children’s book review, Library Arts Co-ordinator, wife and mother of 3 children
- Mike packs his old teddy when he leaves for university; his dorm room is 17C
- Anthony got braces over the summer
- Liz is 13 and in Grade 9
- Weed drives Mike home at Christmas
- Liz is still figure-skating
- Gord is 20 by early 1995
- John and Elly got engaged when they were 20
- Mike says in March 1995 that Carrie is 75 “but is so bright, an’ fun an’ ‘with-it’ – you know? …Like I never realized how amazingly cool she is!!!” (she gave him $100 and change when he went back to college)
Liz, now in the grips of adolescent hormones, screams at the sewing machine and later shouts at the telephone after Dawn says that she is too busy to spend time with her and Mike points out that maybe Dawn would be more friendly if Liz stopped making her feel second best after Anthony. Liz turns to Miss Edwards for advice and is told to apologize to Dawn.
While having lunch with Anthony, as she has every day for the past six weeks, Liz watches him eat with Pattersnarfing sound effects and thought-bubbles that she has just noticed that he eats funny. While she contemplates whether or not they do spend too much time together and how Anthony would “weird out” if she told him, Anthony interrupts her thought-bubbles to dump her so he could spend more time with his friends. Liz thought-bubbles, “How could you break up with me first?!” and angrily removes his name from her pencil case. She finally gets around to apologizing to Dawn, except that Dawn (still in overalls) now has a boyfriend. Liz returns to Anthony and apologizes for the way she reacted when he dumped her and he apologizes in return; they get back together.
Mike and his friends graduate from high school. Elly flips out that he is planning on wearing jeans under his robe even though no one will see them, and forces him to change, whereas Gord doesn’t have black shoes to match his tux for the evening reception so colours his sneakers with shoe polish. Mike and Gord look around at the other graduates and Mike comments that Martha looks nice and that they went out for almost three years (just in case Gord doesn’t remember her?). Gord spies Allyson Creemore and says that he was crazy about her all through Grade 11 (it was longer than that!) and she didn’t even look twice at him. Mike predicts that some day Martha will be sorry she dumped him and when they’re in their 40s and have their high school reunion, he hopes to have a great job, a million bucks in the bank an’ a red Porsche. Gord just hopes he has hair. Lawrence shows up at the last moment and introduces Ben.
After Dawn teases Liz for not being able to see the cute guys at the beach, Liz begs Elly to let her get contacts.
John, in a Tilley Endurable hat, drives Mike to London so they can look for a place to live, even though Mike already has a room on campus – Mike claims he can’t live in the residence because he wants his privacy. After dragging John all over London, Mike decides to stay on campus after all.
Elly spies April using a branch to unlatch the garden gate and sneak out of the yard, musing, “So, that’s how she does it!” April sneaks into Connie’s yard to play with Sera and Elly stops her, saying that she has to ask first if she wants to play with the dog. She doesn’t specify who, so April asks Sera and lets her out.
After two months of searching, Elly finds the perfect sofa for the living room, but it looks so nice that everything else appears shabby in comparison, so she decides that it’s time to redecorate the living room, adding a pale rose or lavender border to the walls, new curtains, new lamps, a new chair cover, an area rug, maybe a painting…she also buys a new dress while she’s at it: even though she knows they’re going to be spending a lot on the living room, she figures, What the heck! I’m working!!” She goes to the library and finds that she has been laid off and most of her programs cancelled following a budget cut. Mike and Liz both tell her that perhaps it was time for a change anyway. Elly has an unsuccessful interview at Philpott’s Department Store.
Elly returns to her morning jogs with Connie, but is out of shape after going so long without exercising, so they quit early and head back to Connie’s for tea and discover that Sera is missing – April has let her out again. Connie tells Elly that it’s not a good time for Sera to be running around loose and they find her leaning against Farley, with hearts above their heads. Sera is due in November and Connie is delighted to be a grandmother. Liz asks for a puppy and Elly says that they’ll think about it; John says not to get her hopes up.
Mike packs for university and promises to keep in touch with Rhetta over the phone. He gives her a token of his love and affection: the gearshift knob off a 1962 Jaguar XKE which he has had since he was 5. The university is huge and Mike feels a bit overwhelmed after an exhausting day of queuing up for student ID, residence keys, class registration, books, coffee…finally he heads to the auditorium for the orientation, sitting next to a guy in dark sunglasses who lifts Mike’s spirits by pointing out that, after the orientation, it’s time to party.
Liz starts Grade 9 with Dawn and Candace and they discuss how much everyone has changed over the summer, until Candace points out, “Everyone but you, Elizabeth!” Liz stares in the mirror and sees her ten-year-old self staring back at her and thinks it’s her hair that makes her look so immature, completely missing the baggy t-shirt, dirty jeans and bubblegum. Liz decides to get her hair cut – without asking Elly – and winds up with a short, nearly triangular, bob. Elly tries to cheer her up by saying that Liz looks exactly like she did at her age and Liz cries. John tells Liz that there are refugees dying, people being shot, missing children, homeless people – and Liz has problem hair, so if she can’t be cheerful, go away. Liz, donning the black overalls, finds that her hair looks OK the next morning.
April delights in tormenting Liz and Anthony when he comes over to study, asking if he can still kiss with his new braces. Elly puts April to bed and then interrupts the studying to bring them popcorn.
John visits Gord at the garage and finds that Gord has been running the place by himself while Ray (that’s Ray Daly, the owner of Daly’s Garage, not the Ray who is John’s doctor, the Ray who is a police dispatcher or the Ray who owns the car wash) has been sick. John tells Gord that he’s a bright kid and doesn’t have to be a mechanic, so if he wants to go into another profession, John and Elly would be glad to help him out. Gord defends his choice of profession, pointing out that people want to be able to trust their doctors, lawyers, accountants and mechanics, so he is going to be a good, honest mechanic and he already loves cars and engines and is good at what he does.
Elly finds out from Rhetta that Mike just wrote her another eight-page letter and cries because he never writes to her (other than a Sunday strip three weeks previous showing a letter from Mike) and Liz tells her that sometimes there are things you can only say in a letter to someone you love. Elly writes to Mike to see if he’ll write back and John suggests putting a cheque in the letter if she wants him to appreciate it. A week later Mike phones home to ask for more money and John chastises Elly for preparing to send a cheque; she crumples it and sends a care package of food instead. Liz asks for a raise in her allowance and Connie reports that Lawrence has also run out of money. Elly leaves Connie after their coffee and walks through the snow, stopping at Lilliput’s to look at their sale items. She finds that they’re incredibly busy and one of their staff has just quit. Elly offers to help out for the afternoon and meets the owner, Lily Petrucci, who says that she has received Elly’s resume. By the end of the day, Elly has been hired. No sooner than Elly has begun to work again then Liz begins to act up about being left at home alone when she gets home from school, so an arrangement is made where Liz goes to Dawn’s until Elly returns.
Sera and Farley become parents to four puppies and Liz again begs to keep one. Elly can’t stop thinking about it. April’s favourite is a little Farley-clone who tugs on her socks and she asks her parents for a puppy for Christmas. Mike turns up for Christmas with shoulder-length hair and a beard, a look which has taken him six weeks to achieve. Elly is a bit horrified by his new appearance, and Rhetta can’t decide whether it’s good or bad. Christmas morning dawns and Liz and April find a puppy under the tree and Mike names him Edgar – “Ed-Grrrr” after the noises he makes.
Mike and Rhetta spend New Year’s Eve at Gord’s, who has thrown his first party now that he has a door on the bathroom. Rhetta and Mike tell each other how much they miss one another while he’s in London. Elly forces the family onto a vegetarian diet after the holidays and catches John cheating when she sniffs fried chicken on his jacket after he visited the “Lucky Clucker” for coffee. John confesses to Jean that he lost it when Ted teased him about giving up meat cold turkey. Elly sneaks into a Tex Mex place on her lunch break and has a beef chimichanga with all the trimmings and Moira tells her that she doesn’t need to feel guilty about being fortunate to have lots of food to choose from.
Weed and another guy take Mike out to a bar, leaving him to complete a human interest story at the last moment, apparently drunk and exhausted: “The room whirled around me. Fighting back nausea and the desperate need for sleep, I forced myself to complete the last page of my assignment…” The professor rejects his essay for not being about someone else and gives him until the next morning to redo it. Mike decides to ask the first person he sees, who happens to be Mr Bergner, the janitor. Fortunately for Mike, Mr Bergner has a fascinating story: grew up in East Germany, son of a farmer who once beat him so badly that he ran away and went over the wall, worked his way to France and jumped a freighter to Montreal at 16. He was sick and broke, with nothing but his fiddle, so he worked as a street musician and taught himself English by watching movies. Mike writes it all into his essay and hands a copy to the student newspaper, then boasts to Mr Bergner about what he did. Mr Bergner refuses to have his story published and Weed encourages Mike to publish it first and then let Mr Bergner read what he wrote – it almost never happens that a first-year student gets a story published in the campus newsletter. Mike struggles with his conscience and finally pulls the story; Mr Bergner says that integrity makes a good journalist.
John pays Gord another visit and finds that Ray Daly has changed his name to Dan Dan Daly has had too many health problems and now wants to sell the garage and move to Smith’s Falls to be closer to his son. Dan said he’d hold the mortgage and arrange all the financing so Gord could buy it. Elly is surprised to hear that Gord is making such a huge commitment at his age – 20 – and John points out that when they were Gord’s age, they got engaged.
John refuses to let Liz wear a bustier she has borrowed from Candace, while Elly is just surprised to see that it fits. Liz also starts wearing make-up. Puppy training continues with Edgar having inherited Farley’s lack of brains – his main form of misbehaving is that he scratches the back door instead of barking to be let in.
Mike returns for spring break when he can’t afford to go skiing in Quebec, and meets up with Rhetta, Gord and Tracey. Rhetta says that two years has been a long time when Gord tells her how long he and Tracey have been a couple. Tracey has been doing all the paperwork at Daly’s Garage since Gord took over, and they’re engaged to be married. Mike is stunned and Rhetta points out that they never said when they would get married. Mike can’t imagine getting married and Rhetta still wants to travel to new places and have a place of her own first. Mike doesn’t plan to get married until he’s at least 30 as it would be impossible to make a lifetime commitment to someone else before you’re old enough to know yourself. Rhetta then asks Mike if they’ll ever get married.
John brings home travel brochures and he and Elly book a cruise on the Pelican Queen from Miami to Nassau for the last week of March. April protests and says that she wants to come with them and Elly explains that there wouldn’t be anything to do on the boat. April begs Elly to bring her a present if she’s very good. Grandma Carrie comes to look after Liz and April. Once her parents return, April overhears Elly on the phone with Connie, detailing all the things they saw and did and a surprised April thought-bubbles that she had been told she couldn’t go on the trip because there wasn’t anything to do. When Elly is busy showing Connie her photos and John is busy on the phone, April asks her reflection in the mirror if she can go outside, as Grandma Carrie had told her it was OK as long as she asked somebody. The snow is melting and April finds a toy boat in the grass. Since her parents went on a boat trip, April decides that she’s going on a boat trip, too, and lets herself out of the backyard using a stick to unlatch the gate, taking Farley and Edgar with her down to the ravine. Back in the house, Connie and Carrie fill in Elly about the “rushing torrent” of a river in the ravine after the non-stop rain while Elly was in the Bahamas. 
April leans over the river, holding a branch and stepping on a stone as she lowers her toy boat into the water, but her foot slips and she loses her grip, falling in. She manages to surface and call for her mother, but sinks beneath the water again. Farley leaps in and pulls her head out and Edgar runs for the house and barks at the door. An oblivious John thinks that Edgar has finally learned to bark when he wants in, so opens the door and waits for Edgar to enter. Carrie and Elly come to see what’s going on and Carrie is the first to suggest that Lassie Edgar is very excited about something. Elly then notices that April is gone, the back gate is open and Farley is missing. Elly senses that something is wrong and runs down the steps. Liz shows up and tells John that she last saw April playing with a toy boat. Everyone races to the ravine where Farley is still clinging to April. Elly holds John’s arm as he reaches for her, but he can’t stretch far enough. He grabs the extended branch April held earlier and manages to grasp her hood and pull her free (side note: contrary to what was in Coffee Talk this week, he does not pray to God, he just thought-bubbles, “Please…if I never do anything else in my whole life…let me do this!!!” – not really a prayer to anyone or anything specific). John carries a limp April out of the water and hands her to Elly for a hug; Liz gets Farley by the collar and pulls the waterlogged full-grown English sheepdog out of the torrent of the ravine. 
John tells Farley what a good boy he is and notes that he’s exhausted.  Carrie remembers that April must be cold and takes off her sweater to wrap up the toddler. April apologizes to John for falling in and John chastises her for going down to the river, adding that she wouldn’t even be here now if it weren’t for Farley. Everyone turns to look at Farley who is lying by Liz as Liz says, “Daddy?” Elly and Carrie take April to the house to warm up and Liz tells John that Farley isn’t breathing. John tells Elly later that he wrapped Farley in a blanket and he and Liz drove him to the vet, who said that his heart gave out due to the cold and the stress: John never thought a heart so big could ever stop beating.
April is unable to sleep after the accident and blames herself, but John comforts her and tells her that Farley was very old and it was his time to go. He talks about love and holds her, waiting in her room until she falls asleep. The conservation authorities give permission for Farley to be buried in the ravine.  Dawn and Liz visit the grave and the ghost of Farley follows Liz as she imagines that he’s still there with her.
Recurring themes / This strip conserves punchlines
Elly fixes the sewing machine for Liz, just as Annie once fixed it for Elly. John tells Elly that Liz won’t learn anything if they keep doing everything for her. When Mike returns to university after Christmas, Elly has done everything but buy him a bus ticket, saying that he won’t learn to survive in the world if she does everything for him.
April wakes up John on Father’s Day with a smack in his groin – this was a direct copy from Do They Ever Grow Up?, not FBorFW, but still…
John’s eyes bug out with a “BOINGG” when he sees Rhetta in her formal dress for Mike’s graduation dance.
Pun alert: a landscaper bringing rolls of turf to the Pattermanse has a bumper sticker which reads “In Sod We Trust”. John worries about hair loss after combing his hair and Elly thinks “A man’s comb is his hassle.” Elly gets a new age health and fitness book with lots of bean recipes and John asks if meat is “given up for lentil?” Edgar shelters beneath Farley’s legs when outside in the snow and John says that “it’s nice to have a woof over your head!”
April streaks out the front door naked while Elly looks on, gobsmacked, from the window. April wants to be a cowboy for Hallowe’en, but all she has is a hat, so she wears that and nothing else.
Elly boggles over trying to learn how to use the cash register at Lilliput’s. April has to teach Elly the basics of using a computer since all of Lilliput’s records and inventory are computerized.
Mike and Gord make a New Year’s pledge to stay friends forever (they don’t use these exact words: after they admit to one another that they don’t want to lose tough, they promise that “no matter what happens, no matter where we are…we’ll always know each other”).
Elly frets about her post-holiday weight and puts the family on its annual diet.
April demonstrates a real love for animals, wanting a horse, puppy, kitty, birdie, “hangster”, turtle, guinea pig and bunny, playing with Sera and Farley, cuddling the new puppies.
While Weed and Mike drive home for spring break in the rain, Liz mentions to Elly that the river is already past its banks.
Liz is 13 and in Grade 9 in the autumn of 1994, making her a year younger than most kids are during Grade 9, although this does now fit with her revised birthdate of June 1981.
Mike tells Weed and another guy that he finds word processors too impersonal when writing to his girlfriend: he likes to have a relationship with the words he writes (Weed and the other guy agree that Mike needs to get out more). This is in the days before having your own laptop became normal, though.
Ray Daly changes his name to Dan Daly sometime between John’s two visits to see Gord at the garage (page 65 and page 117).
John says that he and Elly got engaged when they were 20, except that they’re not the same age and, according to the previous collection, they didn’t marry until Elly was at least 24, so it must have been a very long engagement.
Cynical Candiru

Monday, 25 August 2008

As you know, the ceremony will extend into the rest of the week. chl says that Lynn will go all self-referential on us and well end up seeing the annoying and long-expected "For Better of For Worse" Strip.

According to poteet, Awfulny gets to make a wish. I wish Anusthony's head would explode like the guy from "Scanners" or that he had taken 24's place in the Monarchmobile before it blew up. I also wish that Flapandhonk and JSTF didn't hover over the crappy couple's shoulders like happy vultures.

Panel 1: The officiant declares Assthony and Lizardbreath manipulative bastard prick and shrieking harridan filled with rage because children behave like childrenhusband and wife and reminds Creepthony to kiss the bride.

Panel 2: As John and Elly's silhouettes gaze appreciatively on, they do so.

Panel 3: He boasts that he's the happiest guy on the planet. She reminds him of an ancient wedding tradition she just made up: kiss the bride and make a wish. He says he's good.

Panel 4: After all, he's whined, bullied, lied and manipulated his way to achieving his lofty goal of being part of the Patterson family so his wishes have all come true.

Summary: The next six strips will be an even more effective test of the gag reflex. Not only do we have to watch people kiss Elly's ass, we have to watch them all simper that it's okay that Jim is lying in his hospital bed being neglected.
winding road

Thérèse: The Unauthorised Biography

Just to make myself feel better during the stupid stupid wedding, here's a teaser for Thérèse's story. (aprilp_katje, this shouldn't affect the Anthony bio so far; I'll keep you posted.)

Part 1

“Have you ever had the feeling,” said Thérèse, thoughtfully skewering a wedge of brie, “that entire sections of your life were lived by someone else?”

“Mm,” Alicia agreed. “My Anne Rice phase was a bit like that. What in God’s name was I thinking.”

It was early September, and the evenings were still warm. Thérèse and Alicia were having drinks at La Buvette, an edgy little bistro in Kensington Market. They loved the place for its hip, worldly atmosphere and great wine. On weekends they could often be found on the ivy-twined patio, sharing a bottle and talking.

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