September 14th, 2010

Snarky Candiru2

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

John learns to his horror that Elly is almost proud of not being able to balance her checkbook. Her self-defeating behavior really makes it hard to cheer for her, doesn't it?

(Strip Number 172, Original Publication Date, 16 September 1981)

Panel 1: John's eyes are almost out on stalks as he looks at Elly's jumbled-up records and tells her "Look at this! Unrecorded checks, no numbers, no dates....and where are your deposits?"

Panel 2: He next asks her how she expects to get an accurate balance with a system like the one she's using.

Panel 3: She smiles and says "This is a system?" as if being disorganized is a thing to be proud of; John is wincing in pain at being lectured about the importance of budgeting by someone who's always complaining about how hard math is.

Summary: Tomorrow's strip, in which he makes a nasty pun about her feckless inability to do basic arithmetic, puts a punctuation mark on the 'stereo' arc; after all, she was the one running her mouth about saving money and she doesn't even know for sure how much she has. He does know how much he can spend on things and it galls him to be told about being improvident by someone who still uses the adjective 'electronic' to describe calculators.

ETA: Now that annotations to the strip have become a fixture, I should think that she'd explain that Rod pretty much had to take care of the bills because as an artist, she couldn't do math or use computers.
Snarky Candiru2

What, if anything, is Elly actually good at?

Someone recently threw down a gauntlet and dared someone bored and masochist enough to list the things at which Elly does not excel; I'm bored and I'm something of a masochist so here goes:

  • Elly isn't really all that good a housekeeper; since she focuses on non-essential tasks while letting needful chores slideso she can drink coffee, watch soaps, do endless piles of laundry (because she can never do a proper job) and gossip, she ends up looking as if all she does is move the dirt around.  
  • She also tends to think that horrible slop like Cheapie Weenie Casserole is good food and that serving her children pile-high helpings of foods they hate builds character.
  • Next, we have to contend with her being a fractious, inattentive and hostile mother to the children she's too feeble and stupid to keep up with; her royal road to failure stems from her belief that she has no control over the dull, boring, passive children she thinks are demons from Hell sent to torment her.
  • She's a lousy spouse to John; it's a marvel that he doesn't react more forcefully to her passive-aggressive bitchery and constant moaning about how the life she wanted didn't turn out like she'd planned.
  • She's a horrible pet owner because she can't even remember that Farley isn't human and cannot understand what she wants of him; since her specimen mental failing involves assuming that everyone she encounters is 'meant' to think how she thinks and want what she wants, she regards his following the mandate of his instincts as his being deliberately defiant. 
  • She's a craptacular student; most of the time, she can barely maintain interest in her coursework because having to focus is haaaaaaaaard and thus baaaaaaaad.
  • This leads me into my main complaint: her feckless ineptitude when it comes to her finances. Not only did she try to change the subject when John discussed getting life insurance by telling him he was a bad man who wanted to scare her, she's about to be filled with wounded pride because he tells her to her face that her inability to balance her checkbook is a sign that she's an idiot.
The unifying theme in all of Elly's failures is, of course, that she cannot trouble herself to pay attention to her surroundings. I'll go back to the mounds of laundry to make my case clearer because it's clear to me that she simply flings the stuff into the machine without reading washing instructions or separating her whites, lights and darks. The end result is that the clothes don't look clean and thus must be washed over and over again.