dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
As we know, Liz seems to have spent the last few years of the strip trying very hard to avoid visiting Jim. We do know that Mike was his usual self-serving self and, as such, only decided to grace his elders with his presence when he wanted to be praised for something. We also know that he was his usaul empty-headed self and reacted in a fatuous and self-pitying manner when he didn't get the response he expected. What we never saw is any sign of any curiosity as to his life from Liz until she wanted to be validated by Iris in the very end of the story.

An observer might be forgiven for thinking that she's ashamed to face him because part of her feels remorse as regards her morally repugnant act of rewarding a lying thief who flattered her but, much like her mother, she tends to substitute moral indignation for actual morals. Much as Elly will never apologize for what Kortney did to April, Liz is never going to want to feel guilty about Jim's harmonica...especially since he kind of always scared her as a child.

You see, I never had any sort of impression that Jim responded the way Lizzie wanted to when she pretty much flirted with him the way she does with her sick freak of a father and that made Lizzie wary of the old boy. When you base your identity on trading on your looks and someone doesn't buy what you're selling, you don't necessarily like this person. This inability to quite get what she wanted as a child explains why she sat in cars waiting to get away from the smell and sight of scary old people who die when she gets to know them.
dreadedcandiru2: (Calm Candiru)
Of course, there is one exception to the otherwise ironclad rule against not maintaining perfect fidelity to one's assigned Longed-For One: the otherwise Once In A Lifetime True Love has to be dead for at least ten years and you have to be over sixty so there's no chance of the step-child problem. This is why the only thing Elly stressed about with Mrs Baird and her dad was the stress love puts on the human heart. In both cases, elderly people were allowed to be together for their last few years because, well, it beat her long-feared dread of dying single all hollow.

The interesting thing about this is at that some point, someone usually makes a rather maudlin and mawkish remark about how after seven decades of fidelity, he or she is suddenly the proud owner of a complicated love life. This, I should think, is owing to a sort of belief in an afterlife that's a shadowy approximation of the living world. In this Foob Valhalla, we're supposed to look forward to an eternity of Marian grousing at Jim for 'cheating' on her just because she was dead longer. Perhaps he, Mrs Baird and Les Moore can go off to Afterlife Montoni's one day and talk about their troubles over ghostly gazpacho pizza. After all, St Dead Lisa is also sort of angry at him for remarrying and would tend to be a jerk about it.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
One of the few things we actually do know for sure about Elly's past is why it is that the Richards family was so late adopting television and fitting in with the neighbors. It would seem that despite having anything like talent or an active interest in updating his routine, Jim was too in love with being THE entertainer in his family to notice or care that his kids seemed to want to fit in with the crowd. I've met the type and know the wounded pride that's on display when the needs of his offsprings to avoid being mauled by the popular kids for just plain not knowing what's on television collide with his need to be a big shot. The way he sees it, they'll get over being embarrassed because he's the father.

The problem is that this habit of mind that assumes that filial piety requires a child to stand around getting picked on while Mommy stages the stupidest protest EVER results The same Elly who used to wonder why they were the last on the block to get a television grew up thinking that Mike's wanting to fit in is a bad thing because she survived and also he owes her since she and John pay for everything anyway. The need of children to simply get through a scary day where it looks like everything is trying to destroy them is discounted mostly because cement-headed adults like Jim and Elly confuse their no longer feeling that way with feeling that way no longer existing.

Since Mike has Jim's broken chromosomes and is thus another blithering idiot who's too dumb to feel empathy, it's sort of obvious that The Delicate Genius is pulling the same stunt as we speak because he can't break the cycle of assuming that conforming is bad for children and great for grown-ups. It doesn't matter one bit that Meredith claims that some person who isn't part of the family is making her life a living, seething Hell because of what he does. Some kid isn't the boss of him and no one picks on kids any longer so Meredith will just have to ignore the vitriol on her Facebook wall if she has any love for her father.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
The interesting thing that I noticed about Lizzie's rather obvious attempt to get Marian to look at her and tell her that she's doing good as a helper is that it reminds me that for some odd reason, Lynn fell in love with the image of a child somehow or other trying to make herself part of the luggage Jim and Marian take home with them when they leave. While Marian is as baffled by the need Lizzie and April had to want to be with them as she was when Mike expressed a similar wish, I should think that their wanting to live with the Olds forever and ever is rather easy to explain when you remind yourself of certain unpleasant facts.

The first unpleasant fact is often found either slumped down on the couch fast asleep or hidden behind a newspaper and tends to demand absolute silence when in either position while the second unpleasant fact can't focus on her pointless busywork when small children compete for what little space is left in her tiny mind. The problem is thus that Marian and Jim don't actually seem to flee from the sight of small children nor do they spend an untoward amount of time complaining about the lost time and energy involved in dealing with offsprings and small ones. Since they actually welcome the presence of children in their lives and don't realize that Elly and John don't, they're left flat-footed by the desire their grandchildren have to live with them.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
The interesting thing about the current arc is that just after Connie leaves, we find ourselves dealing with the fact that it takes until pretty much till early February for Jim and Marian to leave. We never have an explanation as to why it is that the two of them are there because it's not as if John and Elly are going on one of their kid-free vacations in the sun but what we do get is the same thing that happens whenever Elly's parents show up: Marian takes over the parenting while Jim staves off boredom by looking around the house for things to fix.

The odd thing about that is that at least Jim is aware that what he's doing constitutes something of a problem. As I've said before, Marian seems to be less willing than he is to let go of the being a parent thing than Jim is and it shows. The end result is that we're dealing with a situation in which when they return to Vancouver, Jim is at least aware that Elly will have a lot of work to do undoing the damage they did while Marian doesn't even understand that a problem existed.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
The interesting thing about Lynn is that she's got herself convinced that her mildly prosperous family was deprived because of one necessity that her father balked at acquiring: a television set. Marian's Liography hints as to why Mr Ridgway might have been reluctant by having Jim state a preference for a more active form of entertainment. Given that Jim has threatened to blow up television sets because Mike would rather watch his favourite show than listen to the old grouch on the couch, it would appear that he has a slightly more personal stake in things than his usual witless blathering about societal change that might require him to be the one to adapt for once. We gain a hint into what that might be when we have adult Elly remind herself of how 'ungrateful' she and Phil were to embrace popular culture instead of letting Daddy monopolize the creative conversation.

As I said long ago, it's quite obvious that his animosity is not Elly's animosity. Where she fears a world that's out to destroy her, he resents a world where his voice is drowned out by others. He might use the language of apocalypse and squeal about society heading to the rapids because people don't use their free will to behave the same way he does like they're supposed to but the apocalypse he really fears is one in which he's told to shut up because he has nothing to say. This, combined with Marian's innate dread of chaos and anarchy has resulted in a daughter who's scared of dangerous information because of her belief that the less a child knows, the safer he or she is.

The problem with the sort of reasoning that has Elly tremble with fear about dangerous information and Jim make screechy remarks about how society is headed for collapse is that neither person wants to answer the question "Who watches the watchmen?" because the answer is not to their taste. I'll get to that tomorrow.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
As we know, Jim spends a great deal of his time engaging in pointless busywork because he's trying to decompress from having to retire. Like a lot of men his age, he finds the enforced idleness involved to be less a liberation from dull care and more a sort of prison sentence where he's not allowed to contribute to the world. To that end, he decided at one point to test the insulation in the attic and proceeded to kick a large hole through the ceiling of Lizzie's room. His reaction to being told that these things happen so there's no need for the sort of angry recrimination he was expecting was to tell a baffled Marian that people should be as angry at him as he is.

The reason that I mention this is that we sort of get an echo of this when Elly demanded that John boil over with rage about a minor car accident so she can finally feel better about things. What this tells me is that both Jim and Elly have the underlying expectation that any sort of mild inconvenience is going to result in a major blow-out and are baffled and confused by silence, forgiveness and understanding. Oh, they like the latter two just like everyone else. They just want to earn them by having to endure chaos and uproar and hurt feelings like they're 'supposed' to.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
As we saw last Friday, Elly seems to have made a fetish of drying clothes out on a line like her mother did because, well, her mother did it that way and since Elly is all about getting a pat on a head, a cookie and praise and approval from the mother who raised her to believe that praising and encouraging children in any way would inevitably lead to their ruin, does so without understanding why Marian never used a dryer back in the fifties. To understand Marian's deal, we have to turn to an outside source: the parents from the comic strip Cathy. Every so often, they reminded us that they still use the handy little money saving tricks they picked up as children during the Great Depression; the underlying premise is "We know we look foolish but trust us....this'll all come in handy when the economy swirls down the crapper." Simply put, dozy little Elly didn't understand that when Marian responded to questions about just popping it into a dryer like on television with comments about getting the job done right that Marian really meant "clothes dryers cost a lot to buy and to run."

Ah, well. At least Marian was all about stretching a dollar because of her perfectly understandable fear that the post-war boom would go bust and leave her and the family to have to economize. Jim did a lot more damage instilling his fear of change in Elly because of the reason why. Let us start by his confessing that the prospect of women doing just fine without women terrified him half to death, factor in his resentment that television meant that he was no longer the sole arbiter of how his children were to see the world and end with his panicky shrieking about how any social arrangement that left women equal to him in the ability to break things off led to chaos, anarchy and one night and we end up looking at a man who feared the new technology because it meant that he, Jim Richards, could no longer parade around and act like he was the only person who could know things. Elly is thus not only the brainless imitator of a woman who would have gladly adopted new ways were she not convinced that the second after she did, the economy would collapse but also the panicky emulator of a vindictive jerkwad father who resents new things because he's obsolete.

Of course, even if Marian weren't a nervous cheapskate and Jim not a boorish, jealous dolt, Elly would still fear the new things because of that organic problem that I alluded to last month. As I said, the reason that she wishes that the stereo John bought her was a sort of music box that she could just turn on and off instead of the scary and bad thing with all those scary and bad controls evil, conflict-causing MEN stick on something that should be SIMPLE is to make life worse for busy mothers with no help is that her number-blind brain simply cannot handle complexity. Since there are too many knobs and buttons on her dryer, she prefers the line because the scary machine can't humiliate her by getting things wrong on purpose if she doesn't use it.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
The very odd thing about the notes about how simply awful it is that John tried to 'poison' the children by exposing them to the 'luxury' item that is a TV dinner is that Lynn calls it a luxury in the first instance. Granted, I do know what she means. As a fellow English Canadian of lower class origins, I can read that and think of her thinking of some big-shot having a fancy-dancy-prancy television dinner instead of regular food like normal people despite knowing that what we're both contemplating is cheap-ass prepared food like Kraft Dinner or Hamburger Helper or any number of convenience foods whose chief virtue is that they don't cost a Hell of a lot.

Part of her antipathy to this sort of food is hinted at when she has a child ask for junk food or sugar cereal instead of a brand name. The same woman who eats a normal hamburger and talks about how she can't find the right kind of sawdust to make the ones she makes like it owing to her not even being able to conceive of the fact that Mother made them all wrong in the first place thinks of fast food and Frooty Bonkers as horrible non-foods imposed on her by bad people who don't want her to show her children her love or express her creativity by cooking casseroles that sit in their stomachs like lead weights thereby preventing play or making cereals that go down like a bowl of wood shavings and come out like a blazing ball of hot, wet thumbtacks the very perfect breakfast.

What makes this far more annoying is that she can cook crap that's a lot damn worse than anything on tap at Golden Corral or any of those other sterile, depressing places where arteriosclerosis is king and think that she's prepared a healthy meal because her hands make greaseburgers and tuna cardiac-arrest casseroles not fatty messes. This inability to see that just because she makes stuff by hand doesn't make it healthy and good once collided with her inability to see that her elderly father simply could not eat the foods he was used to eating if he wanted to live. This is why I think that Elly straight-up murdered Chinnuts with her lovely cooking. She'll deny it forever (or until she pitches forward dead into her plate of Cheapie Weenie Casserole) but she did kill him with kindness.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
As you know, I still think that we should be covering next year's strips right now. Were Lynn to be a bit more on the ball, we would thus be covering a visit by not only Connie and Lawrence but also Jim and Marian. Were this to be the case, I think that we'd be dealing with a strip that kind of explains why it is that Mike lost his enthusiasm for trumpet practice. You see, Jim is trying to teach the boy to play chess and when he tells Mike that he isn't going to learn anything about the game if the guy teaching it loses on purpose, Mike explains that he doesn't want to learn anything but just wants to win. This baffles the Hell out of Jim because of something that he shares with Phil. I should think that neither Richards really understands that Michael feels as if he's never allowed to win anything because people just plain hate him because he's young and they're not and want to make him suffer because of that. They also don't quite see that Michael only does do things because he fears being treated like crap more than he fears doing the boring, life-draining and fun-denying chore itself. What they see on the outside is a rather scruffy little boy who looks and acts like all the other scruffy little boys they see and, since they share the near-universal tendency to assume that children live a happy, worry-free existence, assume sight unseen that Mike isn't trudging grimly through a hellish life in which he's surrounded by people who want to eat his butt. They also tend to forget that he's got the same odd lack of grit and tenacity Elly has. While they reacted to adversity by muttering about how they were going to prove the people who say they can't win wrong, Elly and Mike and Liz look at the mountain ahead of them and pretty much piss themselves in despair.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
Of course, my delightful fantasy of everything falling apart because reality and justice finally catching up with John and Elly is just that. After all, part of it entails something that would never happen in the strip no matter what: Jim's release from being trapped in a malfunctioning body and being surrounded by clattering ciphers who think that he's got the mind of a toddler.

As [livejournal.com profile] howtheduck reminds us, Lynn would never under any circumstances kill Merv's avatar no matter how merciful that would be to mere outsiders. It isn't just that Elly must not be made a poor orphan sixty-year old woman with grandchildren. Were it only a sentimental love of her father that carried over into a need to not kill his avatar, we would merely be the unwilling witnesses to Lynn's bad taste.

What seems to be really happening is that the daddy who she loves more than anyone else disappointed her and refused to give her closure as regards her childhood. Said closure seems to entail his admitting that yes, he actually should have publicly beaten her mother into a bloody, whimpering pulp for daring to set limits on Lynn's behaviour and popping out a son to outshine her and so on and so forth. Since there was no God-damned way in Hell Merv Ridgway was going to do that because I really don't think that he thought his wife did anything wrong, we'd have to endure the latest indignity heaped upon poor old Jim were the strip still a going concern.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru)
Now that it's what I call Canada Day and what a lot of old people still call "Dominion Day", I'd like to take a bit of time from criticizing Elly to explaining something that might confuse certain people. You see, every so often, I make a point of alluding to how Elly was raised to be a small-minded thickie with the prententious habit of using British spelling and the irritating need to bow and scrape to the horse-faced German princelings living in Buckingham Palace by plagiarizing Barbadian-Canadian author Austin Clarke and stating that she grew up stupid under the Red Ensign. Just as some of you are confused by the words "bargoon" and "garburator" or the use of the word "hydro" to mean "electricity", I know that at least one of you out there thinks that a thing is a person.

This is because a lot of people aren't quite clear on the fact that Canada is a Dominion of the British empire and that one of those Germans I mentioned is our head of state. For the longest time, our (unofficial) national flag:

reflected that fact.  Since it's a red naval ensign defaced with the lesser coat of arms, people called it the Red Ensign. That being said, not everyone was content with things as they were. For years, the people who thought that our connection to Britain was what defined us as a nation fought those who wanted a symbol that said we're Canadians first and subjects of Lillibet second. If things had been left to run their course, we'd be like Australia or New Zealand and still be debating adopting a distincive flag were it not for the tenacity of Lester Pearson. His own preferred design was something that the veteran's groups who were most opposed to the change (based on the fact that they thought that their dead comrades would have an opinion on the matter) called "Pearson's Pennant":
The reason that this wasn't adopted wasn't that it didn't have the union flag. The reason was that blue isn't an official Canadian color. An expert on heraldry took this design and after a bit of tweaking, came up with the design we have now:

The reason that I mention this is that Jim is a veteran and thus would have been rather likely to resent having Mike Pearson come along and change things for the sake of change. Then again, he also probably bitched about having French on cereal boxes!!
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru)
This tendency of Lynn to recycle rejected plotlines isn't the only instance in which the Lost Strips can be seen to predict the future. While it's true that the sequences that I'm about to discuss were reasonably harmless back in the late Seventies and early Eighties, they tend to be off-putting in the hear and now because of all that's happened afterward. The first such lost sequence concerns first grader Michael's big, sloppy embarrassing crush on Deanna. Back in 1979, what we saw is a small, scruffy boy developing a crush on a classmate who saw him as something of an irritant. While it's true that most parents would look at his flat-footed attempts to impress the girl and make a cute little aside about how funny it would be if they were to eventually marry, most sane people would think that that was at best, a very long shot. If they found out that the two of them actually did get married, said average, normal healthy person would describe that is a very odd little coincidence. The problem is that Lynn ain't most people. If questioned, she'd probably chuckle that they were indeed destined to be married all along. What's more, most of her fans would join in being impressed at how romantic this all is.

The second set of rejected strips that predicted the Pattersons' present day started off when Elly got a letter from Marian telling her that her grandfather had passed on. The first rough-draft goes as follows:

Panel 1: Elly holds a letter in her hands and says "Oh, dear, John! My grandfather has just passed away! What an awful shock for my mother!"
Panel 2: John 'comforts' Elly by reminding her that the man was ninety-three, that they've been expecting this and that her mother will by okay.
Panel 3: He then says that the man wanted to go before saying that her mother will be relieved now that her life has been made so much easier.
Panel 4: She agrees with this but then says that Marian now feels as if she a fifty-five year old orphan.

While the second goes like this:

Panel 1: Elly tells John that it's easy not to talk about it but wonders what will happen when their parents are elderly and need care.
Panel 2: John mutters something about they owe them so much and need to repay all they were given but can't see living with the parents.
Panel 3: Elly tells him that Jim and Marian will never move in with them but she herself can't bring herself to park them in an old age home.
Panel 4: John ends the discussion by agreeing that it's an awful decision that they don't have to think of yet so should stop talking about it.

The interesting thing about all of this is that John's jerkish remark about how happy Marian will be now that she's no longer looking after a very old man not only demonstrates that he's a heartless dick who can only think of things in terms of what's convenient, it seems to me to foreshadow the way Eva Warzone, the Continental and Luis Refugee deal with April's grief over what happened to Jim. The underlying idea that since Jim and Elly's grandfather were very old, the best thing to do is be grateful that their suffering is at an end so that one can move on to things that actually matter. In John's case, it's not having to worry about the future; in the case of Eva Warzone, it's crushing Becky before she can crush them.

This leads me to another thing wherein making John and Elly's life easier comes into play: his comment about how he and Elly are somehow beholden to their parents for something that they don't actually seem to want to be rewarded for doing. I do not know where these two came up with the idea that parents should somehow or other present their children with an itemized bill for services rendered when they leave home because their folks sure don't believe that they're owed anything more than happy children. What I do know is that for some reason, the two of them think that they have to own horses because of that favor bank system of morality they believe in.

This, I think, is why Jim was very reluctant to move to the Pattermanse. He didn't want to impose because his children had their own lives. He stayed a couple of years so as to make Elly happy and to get his bearings after Marian passed but soon found himself wanting a private life again with Iris. The problem is that by the time that Elly's horrible cooking gave him a minor stroke, their refusal to plan for that sort of thing left them scrambling around like lunatics and treating April like someone who has mittens pinned to her jacket sleeves in July. What it also tells us is that when he actually did pass on, April will have been  accused of wanting to make his death about her and her drama by inquiring as to why the assembled hypocritical vermin come to whine about how much they'll miss a man they shunned like a leper because they feared his aphasia was contagious didn't do more for him when he was still alive.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru)
One of the more annoying things about being invited to gang up on Marian because of Lynn's mother issues is that we are asked to lose sight of how Jim warped Elly's personality for the worse. We know from watching him interact with his family that Old Chin-nuts is a prickly old coot who loves being the centre of attention, hates not getting his own way and seems to live to irritate his fellows. What we also have to remember is that he sees social and technological change as a scary, scary affront. It is as if we are dealing with an older, whiter version of the father in the comic strip Curtis who stomps around in a bad mood because hateful people are inventing things for the sole purpose of making him, Greg Wilkins, wrong. The idea that they are trying to make things better cannot occur to either bonehead because they are just that vain and negative.

The form this takes in the Foobiverise is that when Jim mentions anything high-tech, his letters show a sort of unfocused dread of the scary, new-fangled computational dooly-whacker and a fearful, WILLFUL ignorance of the modern world. The underlying belief that underpins all of his crotchety, Crankshaft-lite refusal to understand the new era seems to me to stem from a terror of having to adapt to something and thus be humiliated. The lowest point of this happens to be the punchline of the strip I derived the title of this entry from. As you will recall, Jim did a lot of petulant whining when his friend Ernie sent him a three-page long e-mail that has genuine feeling attached to it instead of a crappy, generic card that meant less than zero. Does it matter that the man tried to get in touch? No, because he didn't do it the 'right' way.

How this affects us is that despite paying lip service to being a member of the modern world, Elly tends to agree with her parents' assumptions about how the world works. Given that she feels a certain measure of regret for joining Marian in 'marginalizing' him by preferring broadcast television to the amateurish wailings of an old duffer in a garage band and given that she'd spent a lifetime listening to ranting about how the new-fangled gizmos just aren't as good as something someone like him can jerry-rig into functionality, it's not hard to see why she wishes Fisher Price or Hasbro would make a computer simple enough for her to be able to operate.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru)
As I tried to say yesterday, it seems to me that a lot of the animosity that Elly directs at Marian comes from the same source as the hatred Deanna feels for Mira. From what we've seen, both alleged dictator parents are being upbraided for expecting more of their daughters than they're willing to (or, for that matter, able to) deliver. Just as we have Marian not seeing how stupid Elly really is, Mira seems to have convinced herself that most of why Deanna's life sucks is because Mike is dragging her down because she doesn't want to have to face the fact that her youngest is an apathetic dumb-ass with an allergy to being happy and a fear of failure that mandates that she not do anything to improve her lot.

What compounds this horrible mother-daughter cold war is that we have to remember that Deanna and Elly deign to feel pity for their fathers owing to a belief that their domineering mothers overruled them too much. While it's true that Marian point-blank refused to let Jim own a dog because she thought she was doing right by the family and that Mira tends to engage in a certain amount of social climbing and doing the whole apron matron thing to Wilf in a similar belief that she's doing her husband a solid, it seems to me that when Dee and Elly bemoan the cruel way in which their mothers tyrannized their fathers, they both wound up speaking fluent Nonsense. It seems to me that Jim is a lot stronger a personality than the daughter who thinks of him as something of a victim realizes. The most tragic example of her belief that aside from spanking her, Jim could do no wrong is that she doesn't realize that most of why Phil 'got away' with things is not just because Marian freaked out because Elly was more active than a girl 'should' have been, her poor, frail dad seems to have spent a lot of time transfixed by the idea that his daughter having pre-marital sex and/or smoking a joint would inevitably to the Soviet conquest of North America. She also can't see that Marian was less a tyrant than she was an enforcer for a real ogre.

As I said, she shares this defect with Deanna. A man who sits on his arse watching his wife and child get into a pointless scrap because he's too lazy to do something about it can't exactly be called a good guy so it occurs to me that just maybe, Wilf is the same sort of jerk Jim was. We don't really get the sort of proof that we get when Jim ranted about Society heading into the abyss because he lives in a world where Liz ain't going to be burned at the stake for playing house with Eric but watching Wilf let Mira take all the blame tends to disabuse me of any idea that he's all that nice a person.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru)

As I type this essay, I remember back six years ago when I first started to write about these people. I remember that Mike isn’t the only idiot whose plan for ‘unforeseen’ consequences was to run to the Pattermanse and get Mommy and Daddy to save him from the mean people. As you will recall, Liz’s clever plan for dealing with her totally not imaginary and definitely not self-inflicted trauma was to sit in her old bedroom and pout like a child bereaved of dessert for shaving the cat bald. You will also remember that the only reason that she finally got off her ass and did what an adult would and get her own place was the realization that she’d have to pay her ugly brother rent and possibly have to sit for his children in case the picky-face was acting up again. Since the Sobinskis combine evil common sense with their evil ambitions and evil linear logic, they are probably grimly amused by the number John and Elly did on those two to make them think that two very terrible people should be paid back for a moral obligation. Heck. It might even take the edge off of Deanna enabling Mike’s stupidity for her own idiotic purposes.

What would be really amusing is that Mike and Liz are too stupid to see that neither John nor Elly are willing to do the same thing for their parents. While John has the excuse of being far away from home and having a sister who can do that for him (because as a woman, that’s her job), Elly is an hours’ drive from the assisted living complex where Jim spent his last days. You would have thought that someone who spent as much time as Elly did reminding her children that they had a responsibility to their parents would have done more than leave him in the company of an ignorant old woman who was too proud to ask for help and too in love with the idea of only listening to male authority figures to be a help to him but you’d be wrong. Not, of course, that Mike and Liz will be allowed to simply plop Elly in a retirement home when she gets too old to take care of herself; I should think that when her time comes, Mike will end up doing what the idiots on Crankshaft did and wrecking the resale value of his house to build her her own sweet suite. After all, he has a duty to take care of his elders. HUM!! Looks as if Jim isn't the only one who lost at family politics!! About the only two people who do win are John and Elly.

dreadedcandiru2: (Default)
Watching Phil totally fail to see that his older sister will not let her childhood go until she gets the answer she wants of him ("You know, Elly, I really am a horrible person for having an easier time of it because our parents lived and died because of what the neighbours might think of them and should castrate myself with a chain saw.") gets me to thinking about his last few appearances in the strip. As you will recall, his contribution to the plotline was standing around like a wooden Jesus in a country graveyard while his idiotic older sister, muttonheaded brother in law, worthless nephew and whiny little bitch of a niece Elizabeth wrung their hands and praised whatever god they believe in that Jim was in the inept hands of a stubborn, stupid old bat who was too proud to ask for help and too mired in her obsolete thirties mindset to admit that just maybe knowing something about how the body works isn't necessarily a male-only trait. He also had no idea that said lovely relatives paid lip service to helping the obsolete old dullard because doing more would get in the way of cooking greaseburgers, playing with trains, churning out horrible novels, moaning about dying old and alooooone and berating April for being a princess.

Why is it that he did so? Because his having to stay the course when his mother in law died turned him into one of the people [livejournal.com profile] howtheduckis thinking about when he talks about how most of Kool-Aid Nation reads the strip on a superficial level. Since he did what normal people do for Georgia and her family and since Elly makes plausible-sounding noise about helping Iris (and since he was in the midst of the Settlepocalypse and couldn't quite see that what looked like an extreme situation wasn't), he assumed competence and caring where none existed.

We also have to remember that Marian tried very hard to not be fussed over when her time came. As I remember, Elly had to remind Phil that their parents didn't really want to be taken care of by their children because they thought it was still their job to take care of them. The memory of both of his parents being rather lousy patients seems to also have lingered on. My guess is that when Jim was finally released from the living Hell of being treated like a child by a witless old meataxe whose response to his speech pathologist's broad hints that he was still in there was an indulgent grin and a honeyed slam against the silly girls running about pretending they can be competent (as well as how silly it is that they overrule a man who never saw him again), Phil thought that everyone involved did their best. The sad thing is that he'd be right!!
dreadedcandiru2: (Default)
In a recent post on the Foobiverse Journal, [livejournal.com profile] eltiteretista was trying to find out when the Pattersons had turned into the smug, pontificating vermin of the Declining Years and used this lecture from Grandpa Jim as his example; this led to a reminder that this was not the only time that Jim had thundered on high about something that he didn't know all that much about. Over the years, he's told us how awful it is that television has destroyed conversation, how scary it is to deal with the devil computational whoozywhatsits, how terrified he is by the idea that women aren't really passive idiots waiting to be rescued by a dolt like him and how terrible it is that the younger generations aren't transfixed by the hypocrisies that he called morality.

His favorite conversation "ender" is, of course, the incessant invokation of his time in uniform during the Second World War; the reason that the Pattersons let him get away with it is not only because there's no decent way to tell him to keep his opinions to himself lest they be accused of worshipping Hitler, they're the creations of a woman with an Electra complex that's visible from geosynchronous orbit. This, of course, means that just as April is meant to be shamed into silence by Eva Warzone and Luis Refugee, her elders are supposed to drop everything and meekly follow the advice of someone based on his having risked having his brains blasted out for the British Empire.

Not, of course, that it works that way in the real world; the general consensus of the community involved is that after he'd left, the people he'd interrupted with his little speech would shrug, ask themselves what that was in aid of and why someone who looks like the somnolent organic adjunct of a recliner would stoop to using an argument that would shame an internet troll before resuming their bickering. This is because they remember something that people who think like Eva Warzone don't: if you compare someone to Hitler or something to Nazi Germany, you've lost the argument.
dreadedcandiru2: (Default)
Another reason Georgia becomes important is that she and Phil lived together for about three or four years before they got married. This, to put it mildly, didn't much please Elly; she'd pointed out that if she and John tried doing that, she'd have been disowned before launching into a tirade about how Jim and Marian were always more lenient when it came to dealing with him than with her. Or, to put it in terms that make sense given what we know of the characters, they expected more of her than they did Phil. Marian's constant use of the phrase "spoiled child" as a more or less curse word aimed at Elly tells me that she expected a lot more of her oldest than she got; her less exacting treatment of Phil tells me that what he is is the sort of child whose misadventures are greeted with a weary shrug, a crooked smile, a sigh and the declaration "Oh, Phil!" Since Elly's a bit of a clod, she'll never quite realize that her parents let him get away with things because they were relieved that he wasn't doing worse things. Take, for instance, his pack-a-day smoking habit; it bugged the crap out of her but her parents probably consoled themselves that at least he wasn't shooting up or something.
dreadedcandiru2: (Default)
As we've seen, Elly seems transfixed by the notion that no one on the Earth has suffered as much as she has. You and I see a rather nondescript housewife living the sort of charmed, cozy existence that most of the human race would envy. She has a jackhole husband willing to indulge her whims, pliable children, people content to let her extract her pound of flesh and the indulgence of a community too apathetic to slay the local dragon. Since she's a selfish, ignorant child who confuses her petty envies and minor greeds with genuine deprivation and since she seems to think that the need other people have to express themselves is a malevolent attempt to deprive her of everything she has, she seems to believe herself entitled to reduce those around her to serfdom as a means of paying herself back for her lifetime of horrible abuse. There is one obstacle that stands in the way of her playing the victim card; this obstacle (known, of course, as Jim Richards) remembers that she always was a tiresome ignoramus who stood around ranting about things she didn't know thing blessed one about (owing to her hapless inability to understand the world around her) as well as remembering that his daughter is a spoiled brat whose eyes are bigger than her stomach. Hell, he even remembered that most of the time, she was lecturing her kids not to do stuff she did as a kid. This meant that as much as Elly was grateful that Jim kept the Martian occupied, she didn't like that he was doing unfair things like telling her that the world was not arranged so as to satisfy the petty whims of the ignorant or that excelling at a skill is loads of fun or that Mommy is the local sales rep for Crapola. Rather than admit that her hatred of people who work towards a goal is the yowling of a mongrel sitting on the porch because she couldn't run with the big dogs, Elly had to find some way to marginalize him so as to keep him from poisoning April's mind any further. The best way of doing so is to place an ignorant, abrasive, demeaning incompetent who doesn't have the brains God gave an ant in charge of his care. This is why it's great that Iris is in charge of him. We know that she acted as if he were a spoiled child before his stroke and is too stupid and proud to ask for for the help Elly wouldn't have given anyway. What really seals the deal is not her brusquely assuming that she knows what she's doing because she already buried one husband owing to her ineptitude; she also dismisses the advice of the female therapists trying to help Jim because they're young and don't have penises. Her need to obey the male doctor who only saw him once ensures that Jim will never be able to spoil Elly's victimism with his evil and unfair reality.


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