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As I've mentioned in the past, it seems rather bloody obvious that Anthony never actually loved Elizabeth as a person. We got a great big malodourous whiff off of the compost heap he calls a mind when he drooled about the fantasy of rescuing an inert Liz from drowning. She was supposed to be sooooo grateful, she'd just fall for the freak without hesitation, wants and needs as a person be damned. The problem is that the poor dimwit doesn't realize that he himself is the subject of the whole damned Patterson family's sick and disgusting rescue fantasy. They don't see the entitled and sullen dick who hollered like he was being bum-buggered because his 'evil', 'cruel' and 'greedy' father suggested that if he wanted a car, he'd actually have to work for it. Oh, wait. That's why he needs rescuing: his father suggests that if he wants good things to happen, passively waiting for the Miracle is for suckers, daydreamers and idiots.

It's like how they want to very much not see that Elly and Mira Sobinski are functionally the same woman and distract themselves from that sad fact by playing up a rescue fantasy wherein they save her from a filthy beast who's pretty much a product of their own need to deny that they too are grasping social climbers who aren't really fooling anyone. What they don't realize is that Deanna probably sees herself as saving Mike from 'evil' people like Rhetta who shouldn't come with a warning label stating that she has toxic levels of mommy issues. Since they aren't really married to one another but instead are married to fantasy projections of victimization, I don't really see their having a happy life for very long. Their marriages will probably last the rest of their lives but most of said lives won't be really worth living owing to having to spend all that time in denial.
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Of course, there's another reason besides watching Mike be a whiny, oblivious bitch about his dalliance with Martha that makes me too damned angry to want to cover it in the Foobiverse. It's bad enough having to remember that he never actually really trusted Martha in the first place or that he can't allow himself to admit that whining "But that's DIFFERENT" when it's pointed out that expecting her to endure the anger of the girl posse he expects her to rebel against while he HAS to worry about what THE GUYS think is gratuitously self-serving and hypocritical without having to remember the one thing that more or less spelled the death knell of their relationship: having to meet her family.

You see, Michael never really seems to have wanted to understand that she had a life outside of worrying about whether he was going to blow hot or cold. It pleased him to imagine her as simply standing around in some sort of limbo waiting for him to make her life wonderful and the realization that she had a family that had an opinion about him didn't humanize her, it made her a lesser being in his eyes. It made her someone who wouldn't collapse and die of loneliness when he was out of the picture and that made him angry and hurt because she could dump HIM first when she got sick of him and that was such a cruel thing to do. Why, she was probably agreeing with the cruel people that he was all wrong for her in the first place. This seems to have had the odd effect of convincing his mushhead sister Liz that it would not do to meet Paul's parents either. She wanted the option of dismissing him as a fantasy creation and having to meet them would ground him in reality and make her partly to blame if things didn't work out. Blaming her for anything is cruel and wrong because SHE LITTLE!!!!!!!!
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 As I've said before, I don't really expect April to actually stay in Calgary in the long term. The reason why this is has to do with how she explains to herself the same phenomenon that baffled and ruined Mike and Liz: Elly reacting to her reaching out to her as an infant with a look of confusion, disgust, anger and horror. WE know that Elly is living proof that the maternal instinct that John and Anthony swear by is so much rubbish. We know that Elly isn't going to be able to relate to another living being making demands on her time just because she gave birth to her. The kids never figure that out and it costs them because they ruin themselves trying to get love from the barren rock that is their mother's soul.

The out-loud reason April might give for fucking herself up by trying to show up that sitting duck antagonist Becky is that the poor sap is innately bad and ruinous and always has been. We see in Becky someone a damned sight like April herself so we're dealing with the same sort of depressing clusterfuck that has Luann De Groot piss all over her clone in all but name Tiffany Farrell while whining that no, she's not jealous because both depressing idiots are the victim of moron parents who sell them on the dumb idea that only bad people have bad moods.

What differentiates Luann from April is that the former is at pains to keep herself from admitting that she's the same sort of passive drone who expects things to be handed to her on a tray that Real!Tiff is while April has a different problem. April screams about how jealous of Becky she isn't because she'd rather not admit that yes, she does think that Becky should get to run her life for her and win all the time and take everything from her because Becky didn't kill that fucking dog and that's why no one can or should love her.  Simply put, April's convincing herself that she made up the country boy and marrying the Continental was decided on a river bank years ago and nothing can stop it. 
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One of the things that I've noticed is that the Patterson family do not travel well with children. The idea seems to be that children can only accompany them if it will be 'good' for them with 'goodness' being defined in a rather self-serving manner that seeks to impress upon John and Elly's teeming get that they ARE selfish and entitled monster children who are cruel and bad and way out of line because they do not grovel and beg forgiveness every damned day for selfishly insisting on wanting to be clothed, housed and fed without doing anything in return. This is why I make that churlish comment about how John reacts to stories of children working in factories by being enraged at his own children for their lack of initiative. Also, children had to be reminded that they're heartless monsters who hate their family because they keep pointing out that they don't know these old people, never went to some place that went out of business years before they were born and weren't alive when things everyone should know about took place. 

The hidden (and ultimately parent-beneficial) side effect of this habit of being wrenched from home at random and being forced into the company of that bearded asshole Danny, his carping shrew of a daughter and John's endless array of hayseed relatives who look down on Liz for wanting to talk about things she's actually experienced is to put it in her head that Things Far Away from the Pattermanse are a threat to her really. This dovetails nicely with John and Elly's horror that she and Mike might move more than two hours drive from where they live and thus force them to be put-upon supplicants cruelly commanded to deviate from a routine that's so damned boring, they ain't gonna notice when they die. It's not just the need to finally get John and Elly to finally admit something that they aren't able to concede that drove her foolish and self-defeating campaign to make Paul move South if he REALLY loved her. We also have to consider the fact that only when she's somewhere 'safe' and 'familiar' can she be safe from The Looming Shape Of Imbecile Malice. The sad thing about this is that watching her lose her country boy because she wanted something worthless is that we know that the same fear of abandonment means that eventually, April will lose hers too.
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One of Michael's more distressing traits is that when he looks back on his past, his theatrical nature, poor grasp on what's going on around him and just plain being a knuckle-dragging simpleton makes him see the wreckage left behind when people he genuinely did love did what everyone does: string him along to make a fool of him so they can repay his love with mockery about how they only pretended to be his friend to be cruel and laugh at him for being stupid enough to think that anyone would want to be around him. His inability to process Elly's dread of his need for affection makes of him a muttonhead who turns every failed relationship into a recapitulation of that first and earliest rejection.

The reason that I mention this reason why Mike is going to lose out in life is that while he is in love with people until they reveal themselves as really wanting to kick him and mock him and so on and so forth into the miasma of self-hatred is that at least his objects of affection are actual people that he tries to value for themselves. This differentiates him from Liz because she doesn't seem to care much at all about who's paying her attention just so long as she gets it. The barnacle child who went UNG-UNG-UNG because the large object she clung to was pushing her away when IT shouldn't have seems never to have really picked up on the fact that people have more to do with their lives than look at her. 

This makes of her someone who's never been in love with any person at all in her life. She's in love with the feeling of euphoria she gets when people make her feel safe so never bothered learning how to keep the flame alive really. She alienated Warren and Paul by making it obvious that she didn't seem to feel any sort of need to earn the attention she expected and I should think that the only real reason that she's still married to Anthony is to make sure that her parents still pay her attention and make her feel good. Also, there is the need to hit back at the terrible people who call her a vain show-off who barged in where she didn't belong. 
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To sort of paraphrase Moira Kinney, Elly has two faces and her children got the one that had the baffled, horrified and disgusted scowl on it. This is because the deluded donkey had herself convinced that their normal, healthy need for attachment was part of a sinister plot to make her into a babbling cretin who loved her shackles. Since Michael is much the same sort of gloomy, melodramatic thickie who jumps to idiotic and self-defeating conclusions as she is, he made the mistake of blaming Liz for coming along and destroying a bullshit paradise in which Elly loved him and wanted to be around him when neither really obtained until he was able to agree that children are a life-ruining burden. 

This means that he was both caregiver AND combatant to Liz during her formative years. The end result is the manufacture of a paranoid basket-case who wanted to make sure that people and situations were 'safe' before she allowed herself to deal with them. It also made her a jealous goof who only allowed certain people on the island in her head that kept her from the scary monsters and super-creeps that haunt her nightmares. Given that she believes that Daddy did his best to stop the Primeval Monster only to be stopped by Mommy because she wanted Daddy to herself or some such nonsense, I think it's safe to see why she and Elly never really saw eye to eye much and why she was the only girl allowed on that magic fantasy island of hers.

It seems rather obvious in hindsight that on some level she's not allowing herself to be aware of, she regards Elly (and, by extension, every other woman on the planet) as a threat to her 'innocent' desire to fling herself at whatever Daddy substitute she fixates on at any given time. Somewhere in that head that loves being in love with love is the belief that Elly is stopping John from doing his job of, if not outright killing her siblings and anyone else who gets in her way, than at least forcing him to grovel pathetically every day about what a bad and selfish person he and April and that evil career woman are for also wanting attention that should be all hers. This need to attack anyone who might make her feel uncomfortable tends to negate any tendency she might have for the feelings of empathy and remorse that are unknown to Pattersons and thus means that she'll be an anxious basket-case all of her life.   

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As we know, it's been ten years since Liz stood there grinning like a big, God-damned idiot because Jesse revealed that he hooked onto Jim's harmonica. We know that he was pissed off at her for rushing off down South but he handed her a bullshit story about wanting a souvenir of what she meant to him. Since she's the same sort of dimwitted sponge for flattery her mother is, Lizardbreath gladly swallowed his bullshit sundae because the idea met an emotional need. Her reaction to April's inconvenient and cruel comment about how the damned thing was not hers to give (and, perhaps, to someone else's mean-spirited and heartless remark about how giving Jesse a free pass on petty larceny fucked up his game) tells us what one of the three factors that make Liz fail miserably at life is.

The distressing is that said factor makes that self-absorbed dickchoad Michael into something of a prophet because, well, his comments about how she expects people to just show up and fling praise at her for doing essentially piss-all are pretty much spot on. Liz does expect to trade on her looks and she doesn't want to really do anything to earn the attention she lives for and she's both pissed off and frightened by a world in which she has to understand that there's a price to her being gushed at. Having to be actually worth the attention paid to her is even scarier than the Looming Shape Of Pea-Brained Malice that still haunts her sub-conscious mind. 
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As I've said before, Michael has always been a rather theatrical little glory-hog with a warped idea of what should be expected of him and what should be expected of two different categories of others. It's as if one were watching some asshole on a reality show lose his fucking shit because someone is forgetting that his job is fawning over him, letting him do whatever he wants whenever he wants to do it, allowing him to not do things that confuse him, bore him or requite actual physical and mental effort to master and, above all, keep him from the evil of having to share what he has. Given his melodramatic and self-serving nature, his interpretation of having to not hog everything to his damned self is to misinterpret not 'generously' allowing the person he's depriving to watch him enjoy life while she goes without loops back to a vision that leads him like a pillar of flame by night and a pillar of smoke by day. It is the vision of his parents laughing cruelly at him as they inform him that he is NEVER allowed to have ANYTHING at all and must watch them hand the whole WORLD to a boring, useless lump of a GIRL who does and never will do ANYTHING while standing around apologizing FOREVER for being greedy and selfish and bad and unable to be loved by actually wanting a crumb of anything to himself.

Okay, That was a damned long-winded way of reminding us that Mikey-Girl is always going to be a spolied brat who never got over having a kid sister. Since admitting that it's okay that Liz, you know, exists and has just as much right to the good things in life as he does and the only reason that he's pissed is because he projects his greed onto her person means that he's a boring, ordinary jerk with entitlement issues. Since he'd rather not admit that he missed out on a lot of good things feeling sorry for himself, he'll also be a bitter old asshole who doesn't understand why everyone tells him to stop being a shit to Liz.
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 The interesting thing about the discussion of the renovation project is that it was pointed out that Mike became Super-Handy Guy out of the blue for a very stupid, annoying and predictable reason. Well, actually, it was THREE reasons. The first reason was to show OFF to someone who got under his skin what a great guy he was by doing a half-assed job that would look like shit the instant any sort of water got on it. The second reason was to get praise from an easily-impressed old lady who sees him as a replacement for the children she alienated being a moron. They both lead to the third stupid reason: him reminding himself that he's really the best person ever and shouldn't have to deal with boring, ordinary people and their stupid and mean-spirited comments about getting paid, not being required to do something and, worst of all, shitty carpentry that cost a fortune to fix later on.

A poorly-built back that aged horribly and made Michael look like an even more insufferable prick than he already did might be said to serve as emblematic of why when the curtain fell on the Pattersons, he too failed hard at life. The jackass who sneered at the mean man because he got paid in full is pretty much the same person as the asshole kid who will die hating his kid sister because everyone fussed over her for doing nothing when they were always ever supposed to praise things he was supposed to do anyway. His bottomless need to be rewarded for every stupid little thing makes him perhaps an even less sympathetic jerk than John is and that's saying a lot. It's saying that he'll be a bitter old man complaining that the world passed him by some day. 
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To get back to the irritating problem that is Mike not really learning that other people have feelings too is having to remember the stupid conclusion that he drew from his encounters with people in genuine distress. In the case of Deanna, he came to the stupid conclusion that he didn't need to learn sweet fetch all because Fate delivered unto him the MIRACLE that was a reunion with a longed-for childhood crush. We had to deal with a similar problem when his accidental salvation of Mrs Dingle left him with the belief that he's a magic man fated to make miracles happen for the downtrodden. In both instances, he transmuted his blithe lack of concern of or interest in the lives of others into his being a super great guy who just makes things better for those worth his time. (This, of course, is accompanied by his belief that people in his way should die in a cancer fire.)

This, I should think, is why he too loses at life. Simply put, he's still the same dumb kid whose idea of a complete story was "Sum kidz wuz lost an'then waz fownd"; since he never really cared to learn who people are and what they want because he thinks everyone should want what he does, he's doomed to barge through life not really understanding why things happen and why people do what they do. Also, his lack of self-awareness means that he still doesn't know that he's seen as a ridiculous dilettante who got lucky and won't shut up about it.
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 Of course, it's not just John who lost big getting everything he desired at the end. Elly also lost out big when Liz walked down the aisle because she got distracted and let her issues keep her from seeing what needed to happen. Let's review how her failings as a person led to her failing life hard:
  • Her seemingly inexplicable belief that her mother thought of her as a disgrace to be despised because the woman thought that praise would make her complacent made her lose out big time by making her blame someone else for what seems to be an innate inability to take pleasure in who she is.
  • Her rushing headlong into marriage and motherhood before she bothered figuring out who she was and what she wanted out of life because she thought that her mother wanted to mock her forever for being a spinster led to her being a frustrated mess taking out her self-pity on her children.
  • Her need to flee said children because she saw their normal, healthy wanting to be reassured that they were loved and wanted as their cruel, selfish demands that she become a weak, mindless child babbling about pointless things merged with John's need to see them as extensions of his will to turn them into a pack of hyper-competitive whelps engaged in a brutal and pointless competition for love and approval that she cannot and will not supply them.
  • Her lack of stamina and poor grasp on how the world works made it difficult to craft any identity for herself that wasn't "the dentist's crazy wife.'
  • Her bailing on her business because it got boring gave John the gift of confirmation bias.
  • Her desire for endless flattery led her to embrace actively destructive idiots like Kortney and passively destructive imbeciles like Deanna and Anthony who help make her kids dependent.
  • Her refusal to take advantage of the one opportunity for a woman of her background to legitimately put her stamp on the world because she wanted not to be a pushy mother of the bride makes her look like she's too self-absorbed to be there for her children.
  • Finally, she will never really have any identity that isn't somehow parasitic off of that of a male relation.
This means that as it was with John, having her dreams come true by having Liz marry the same sort of massive, weeping dick she did means that she's a total loser who utterly failed at life. It's a good thing that her kids are all also losers or else we might feel bad about that. 

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Now, the interesting thing about John is having to remember that for all intents and purposes, he didn't win when the strip faded to black nine years ago. He might have thought that having watching Liz walk down the aisle was a great way to end the story but for all intents and purposes, he can't be said to have much to look back on with any sort of pride. Sure, he got his daughter married off to someone who said all the right things but that isn't really the victory he thought it was. When I think of his history, I remember the following dubious accomplishments that constitute the wreckage of his past:
  • His insistent belief that he's doing Elly a favour protecting her from claiming the identity she wanted and deserved had made his life worse by making her into a frustrated mess.
  • His alternating between bellowing rage, seething disappointment and cravenly running away when faced with children's behaviour that doesn't entertain him has left a yawning void where memories of how he shaped their lives for the better are supposed to be.
  • His tendency to judge his family by how well they perform the tasks he presumptuously assigned them and the accompanying refusal to find any interest of theirs that deviate from same has not only made him look like an arrogant twerp, it's robbed him of the opportunity to take pride in their accomplishment. 
  • His staff is still convinced that when April came along, he selfishly and cruelly checked out of his marriage and had to be forced back by her family under threat of violence because he breeds disrespect and suspicion by being a high-handed moron whining about how hard his lot is pretending that he cares about his wife's needs.
  • His patients regard him as that distracted old fool who spent more time bitching about his home life than worrying about their teeth.
  • The neighbours regard him as that ridiculous old redneck in the old-timey conductor costume who doesn't realize that he comes across as the neighbourhood short-eyes.
  • Marrying Liz off to the septic pile of mommy and daddy issues called Anthony is a horrible solution to a non-existent problem.
  • Thinking of himself as the victim because he's exposed to having his stupid point of view challenged makes him look like a worse moron than he already is.
By every objective standard that matters, John's getting what he wanted out of life only served to make his life worse than it would have otherwise been. It's as if he and the others are the doomed, damned souls in a film noir kind of thing. 

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Since we'd probably be living in a post-John world anyway if the strip had continued, it seems fitting to mention that a dead John would be as ready, willing and able to admit that he'd read the people around him all wrong as the living one was. The reason, as I've mentioned before, is that John has the detrimental habit of assuming that whatever position he happens to be holding at any given time has to be the right one because it's his position (which, of course, means that any opinion not his own that doesn't make his life easier MUST be wrong). He simply can't ask himself the question "What if I'm wrong?" because it would mean he's not the protagonist of the human drama. Since he'd sooner swallow a bucket of live scorpions than admit that he's not in the right, we're just going to keep on seeing him make an ugly, unhappy fool of himself because he can't admit that he doesn't know what he's talking about most of the time.

The damage he wills upon himself in this instance is that he further alienates his wife because he demonstrates yet again his terror of taking her and her concerns seriously, he makes his staff think that he's a bastard husband who's probably looking for an excuse to chase something fluffy down a rabbit hole and he robs himself of piece of mind because he's trying to convince himself that he's under the gun financially when that's just not the case. He never learns anything from making his life worse being stubborn and reflexively attacking any idea not his own so eventually, he probably ended up leaving his kids tongue-tied because they can't think of anything positive to say at his funeral when asked how he shaped their lives. 
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To continue on with yesterday, it's fairly obvious that John might not especially want to have to remember why Elly doesn't like to share much. The first and most obvious reason is that he doesn't really like remembering that he's got a nasty temper when he feels as if he's being disrespected or treated like a chump. Just as Woefully Inept And Self-Servingly Vindictive Monster Mom Elly thinks of herself as being things she is not like loving, fair, firm and kind, Hot-Tempered Man-Infant John doesn't want to admit that he's anything other than a friendly, approachable but misunderstood type. Admitting to himself that Elly doesn't want her head bitten off or cruelly mocked for having emotional needs that get in his way means looking in the mirror and seeing the dickhead he actually is and that's not allowed.

The less obvious reason is that he never actually troubles himself to understand who the Hell he married in the first God-damned place. Just as he sees Michael as a bio-robot meant to do yardwork without hesitation or complaint and the girls as a cheering section that reminds him what a great guy he is, the moron with the mechanistic viewpoint sees Elly as something plopped on the ground to cook, clean and rear children. Understanding that she was forced to lose every argument in order to save her from herself by his imbecile mother-in-law is something the dolt files under A for "Absolutely Irrelevant" despite its potential to fuck up his life. 
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The irritating thing about the renovation arc is that John is yet again confused by the fact that he married someone whose complaints tend towards the inarticulate. This tendency Elly has towards a vagueness that confuses and angers John manifests itself in a baffling to him refusal to be more specific than "something better than this" and "I'll know what I want when I see it." What he doesn't want to know is why this is: her fear that stating what the problem is means his leaving her.

The reason he doesn't realize this is that he still doesn't realize why she gave him the silent treatment because she wanted to dummy up about being dissatisfied with having to put her life on hold after having jumped into marriage and motherhood before bothering to figure out who the Hell she is and what she wants out of life. One would think that his knowing that Elly clearly seems to believe that complaining to the person you're complaining about will have nothing but ruinous consequences might clue him in but John's not really all that smart. All he sees is someone who won't help him by saying what needs to be done because he's the man with the plan and to make things better, he's gotta know what needs to be fixed.....just so long as it ain't him because he can do nothing but good OR ELSE. 
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It would appear that I really forgot to mention the last thing touched off by the kitchen remodeling arc: Lynn finally realizing that just as Mike didn't really have to leave the neighbourhood to build up his supporting cast, it would be easy-peasy for Liz's friends to be within two or three blocks of her. This is because Mike needed company doing something he knows is stupid but has to do in order to qualify as a big brother bully by dragging Brian into his Fortress Of Excluding Girls To Keep Them From Realizing That WE GREAT GUYS Are Unimaginative Drones Who Might As Well Do Chores Anyway Because We're Too Fucking DUMB To Come Up With Ideas Ourselves. This means that when Mike idiotically tempts fate by thinking that no weak, stooooopid girl could possibly fight back against him and gets his stupid ass hosed down, Dawn Enjo also gets dragged into his stupidity.

What this means is that over the summer, Liz and Dawn compare notes and realize that they have idiot older brothers who are too damned full of themselves and don't really have anything much to boast about really in common. What differentiates them is that Dawn is a slightly nicer girl and less inclined to the insane and self-pitying jealousy that is still fucking Lizardbreath up to this day.
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The irritating thing about the "Maybe she uses the wrong detergent" strip is having to remember that instead of doing what she should have done, Lynn's outrage that an advertisement actually made an exaggerated claim seems to have driven her to depict Elly behaving like a twelve-cylinder whack-job too enraged by her children's stupidity to behave like a sane, decent person. A better artist would have been a damned sight more low-key about contrasting the glowing promises of the detergent companies and the depressing reality of set-in stains and irritating drudgery.

Jerry Seinfeld points us the way to this when he observes that it's sort of silly to have to watch the people in soda ads act as if their brand of sugary fizzy water is any better than some other similar tasting brand of what's essentially liquid candy. What this would work out to in reality is Elly doing a load of clothes with Blast and making a mildly acerbic comment about how she's not having the effect she sees on television before muttering about how the store brand works the same anyway: poorly. Having an Elly that makes mildly displeased comments about how ad-men have always promised more than they could deliver would be a marked improvement over the screaming lunatic baying at the moon about daggers in her heart.
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As history teaches us, a lot of the more self-defeating and destructive things Elly manages to waste her time have as their source Elly sacrificing her time, energy and dignity because she's convinced herself of a three-part Thing That Is Not Actually So. First, she believes that the pointless waste of time is something that a nebulously defined group other people expect of her. Second, she believes that she must do so in order to reassure these phantoms that she can be taken seriously. Third, she must never ask herself if they actually care or if their opinion really matters worth a damn.

The reason that I do this is that Michael proves himself to be his mother's son by falling into the same damned trap. Deep down, he knows that his need to treat Liz like shit makes his life worse and makes him look like a weak baby screaming about having to share his toys. The reason that isn't the need not to be the bad guy that keeps him from admitting this to himself comes from the same damned stupid place that made him send Martha an insulting gross-out Valentine's like a muttonhead. Simply put, he needs to be one of The Guys more than he needs to be thought of as a worthy boyfriend or a likable and trustworthy son because he's too fucking dumb to understand that it could well be that The Guys are actually laughing at him behind his back for being a jackass who fucks his life up trying to prove himself. It might delight his 'friends' that he messes up his love-life being a moron or gets in shit he doesn't need bullying his sister but you can't tell someone that dumb and needy that. It'd be like trying to tell his mom that people mock her for acting bigger than she really is.
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Of course, the predictable thing about Mike not really getting the job done is that the Pattersons were so busy focusing on how insensitive he was to realize that having the common decency to care about who the subject of a story is happens to not only be the decent thing to do, it's also good business sense. If you insist on treating people as if they're random carbon blobs who do random unaccountable things merely to irritate or entertain you, no one is actually really going to trust your opinion. Good thing for him that he started wailing about how someone with the power to do something about his being Dick Van Head, Natural Born Shitty Reporter distracted his parents from actually understanding what his major malfunction is.

If that hadn't happened, they might have started to realize that as an observer of the human parade, Michael has the handicap of being a short-sighted mental pigmy who doesn't especially want to know why people do what they do. Why, they might even start to think that someone whose idea of a deep observation is the phrase "And the living buried the dead" was as blind to motivation as the dumb kid whose magnum opus is "Sum kidz wuz lost an'then waz fownd."
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The VERY interesting thing about watching Mike stand there and get lectured about how, despite his unshaking and unshakable belief otherwise, people aren't actually all bit performers content to be bystanders in the drama of the life of Michael T Patterson, Axis About Which This World Rotates is having to notice the real reason why the editor took apart his very good story: someone had to come in after the fact and tell the city editor who the Hell crashed in the first place!!!

That's right, people! Michael had the one job (find out what's happening and who it's happening to) and Mister "The Living Buried The Dead" was too busy being a pompous, grandstanding twerp to bother actually doing it. Not, of course, that Lynn or the Pattersons see it that way. Just as when a Patterson blurts out a brainless pseudoprofundity about how prairie and prayer HAVE to be connected, she's wise beyond her years instead of being a ferblondzhet idiot with an advanced case of recto-cranial loopback, we have to deal with the following truism:

The more obviously inept a Patterson is at what he or she is supposed to do, the more we are supposed to believe in his or her being scarily competent and also too awesome to actually live.

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