dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
One of the odder things about April is that unlike hockey player Mike and figure skater Liz, she didn't have any sort of real extracurricular activities to put on her application for university. Aside from that damned garage band, she had no after school activities because her idiot mother made her report in to that damned book store because once again, panicky moron Elly assumes that "kid in house alone = total destruction" because she simply cannot bring herself to trust her kids. While Mike was the idiot who did come up with the idea, it's probably one Elly would have come up with on her own anyhow.

This is because it's highly likely that the reason putting April to work was so damned easy is that Jim and Marian did that to Elly as a teenager. We have in Marian a parent who probably assumed that learning good work habits would be better for Elly than 'gadding about and getting into mischief' (that's limey half-wit for 'developing social skills') and in Jim yet another male with a family farm complex who dreamed futile dreams of keeping his business in the family. It would have made a lot of sense to both of them to keep Elly from 'doing herself harm' (which means 'finally figuring out how to decipher blazingly obvious social cues') by volunteering her. The end result of the stolen adolescence is what we see now: a frustrated moron who doesn't understand what's going on around her and who makes pious noise about hostile strangers and body language because her Depression kid parents perpetrated the dick move called "grand theft functioning in society."
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
One of the more irritating habits Lynn had is that she couldn't quite allow herself to let characters she didn't see as having much in common with one another interact. The same woman who can't include characters who don't talk to her doesn't seem to be present when they talk to one another; this is sort of a let-down because it's obvious that she missed out on a nifty.

This is because it's clear as anything that Marian Richards and Thelma Baird would have taken an instant dislike to one another. Next door to Elly is a professional dog breeder who saw pets as a positive thing that enriched lives and who didn't see the point of Elly's regime of endless screaming and never allowing herself to be pleased by anything. Back 'home' on the West Coast is a bitter lunatic who hates dogs because of her own lousy childhood, kept Elly from winning arguments to make her a nice child and who thinks that if a child is allowed to know that what she does pleases her mother, said child will simply sit down and die in a puddle of her own filth because an idiot English Canadian like Marian is hard-wired to imagine a child thinking 'My mommy loves me so I don't have to exert myself or grow or get better; I can now just vegetate because I'm loved'.

The irritating thing is not just that Marian would clearly have thought she won the inevitable argument about her lousy methods and how they made Elly the paranoid bug-fuck crazy rage goblin she is today because fate denied Thelma a child. The irritating thing is not that Marian never regretted a single hurtful word or shrugged off her child's heartache. The irritating thing is, as always, that Marian is too damned stupid to understand that Elly isn't a normal person. She died never understanding that Elly took her to mean only what she said she meant and went to her death not accepting the anecdotal evidence of husbands, sons, sons-in-law, relatives and others who didn't know what they were talking about that suggested that Elly saw herself as a despised and regretted disappointment who couldn't make her mother happy, Elly God-damned knew that she was loved and respected and no one had to tell her that.

Ah, well. Since this strip allows for a sort of bullshit afterlife with ghost dogs hanging around trees so they can play with their abusers and dead women sewing Miracle Dresses, we can imagine that instead of Masky McDeath ushering her into the void, Thelma would be there to show Marian the truth. Since, as the Japanese say, only death can cure a fool, only death could make Marian see the damage she did loving Elly in a way she couldn't understand and that made her feel like a garbage person. This is why I think that instead of Marian's ghost helping out with the dress, that's Thelma subbing for someone who avoids her family out of shame.
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)
Of course, 'fogey' isn't just used to describe Elly's irritating tendency to bellow about how her life is all used up. Liz used it to describe a road trip and April went on about twenty years or so ago. As you will recall, John and Elly drove to the West Coast and spent all of their time either driving as fast as possible past obstructions like cities, amusement parks or anything that might delight the under-twenty eye or spending hours on end touching base with old friends while their bored children sat in the background being told to hush up or go away if they didn't stop complaining about having nothing to do or nothing to be allowed to talk about. While Will made a sort of telling aside about how his ridiculous idiot John's memory was somewhat self-serving, it was Marian that really ruined the trip by indulging Lizzie's odd need to walk around a shopping mall instead of being exposed to uplifting things that were good for her.

To make things worse, Marian asked that hurtful and embarrassing question "What exactly were you thinking, Elly? Did it ever occur to you to ask what Lizzie and April might like to see?" and then indulged Lizzie by taking her to some boring mall instead of something that would teach her that what children like is really bad for them. To hear her mother who never once thought well of her speak, she and John were a pair of foolhardy cretins who seemed to believe that the point of taking children on vacation was to browbeat them into obedience and make them ashamed of being young and happy. She's not some daft imbecile who thinks that the world would end if the kids had fun on a trip, she just wants them to learn how great the country is and know their family history and agree that the things that attract them are horrible things to be avoided because they are not to their loving parents' tastes. Meanwhile, Marian's telling her bridge club about how she hopes that it doesn't take Elly as long as she did to learn that rigid, inflexible parenting that assumes that a child is an enemy to be defeated just creates more problems than it solves.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
The interesting thing about Valve's war-themed hat simulator Team Fortress 2 is that most of the backstory is told in a webcomic that depicts the mercenaries' adventures after the end of the so-called Gravel Wars. For some reason, the mercs called Soldier and Scout wind up in Heavy Weapons Guy's chalet in Siberia and an artificial dilemma is forced upon us. Since it's been established that lead-poisoned, barely literate imbecile Soldier is a jingoistic nutcase who, upon noticing that the brand name Sears in a winter coat someone was trying to sell him starts with the letter S, assumes that it's a Soviet propaganda coat, he doesn't want to eat the soup Heavy's mother made because as communist soup, it cannot sustain him. For this, his good angel, the spirit of George Washington, praises him for staying the course just like he did at Valley Forge. Next, his bad angel (the spirit of Benedict Arnold) tells him to eat the soup....as does an INSANE angel: the spirit of a great big hot dog which was thrown out because it went uneaten and got all blue-moldy that can only be freed from its food-based limbo if Solly eats the soup. Next thing we know, Soldier's chowing down while Benny and the Big Hot Dog are high-fiving each other.

The reason that I mention this is that it seems to me that insane angels are why Marian did certain things. The first thing is turning Jim down flat when he wanted a dog. Her good angel told her "You work all the time and it wouldn't be fair to the pooch; besides, animals in the house on purpose might not be good for kids because one of them could hurt the other." Her bad angel remembered that her dad loved some filthy mutt more than he loved her and if she hated something, she'd be damned if Jim and the kids could enjoy it. Since she couldn't say that to herself because she didn't think of herself as having a vindictive streak, she probably sold herself the loonie fairy story Connie told about psychological warfare.

The reason I assume that Marian has a crazy angel is the reason she gave for shouting Elly down and never letting her win an argument and never letting her know she was loved. Her good angel feared for her loss of initiative and accepted that to get along, Elly must learn to go along. Her bad angel snarled that this was her house and it weren't no democracy and damn it, who cared about the kid's feellings, she deserved to win arguments for once. Her insane angel protected her from the knowledge of the bad angel and told her that a high-spirited two year old was a criminal dictator in the making who needed to be suppressed for the greater good of all mankind. When I read Marian's reasons for stifling Elly at every turning, I heard something: a grim shade of an infamous traitor and the spectre of an anthropomorphic smoked sausage declaring "Mission Accomplished." Too bad that Benny and Big Hot Dog are family friends.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
To be fair to Mike, it's sort of easy to see where his fear and hatred of math came from: a teacher who whooped and hollered at him like a big, stupid idiot because he counted on his fingers. What this taught him is that numbers are unfair and wrong and bad and stooped because he wasn't immediately good at math and didn't like situations where he was made to look foolish. As the years went on, basic arithmetic congealed into his brain as this horrible obstacle that no one could be good at. What didn't help was a mother who told him flat-out that he'd made his homework into this big horrible thing that he'd let pile up because he was afraid only to have it become really impossible.

This is because she's not really practicing what she preaches because her great big impossible job is ironing clothes. While John sees it as being a wonderfully simple task that he doesn't have to devote much brain power to, Elly was brought up believing that ironing was this horrible chore that was next to do properly owing to her mother's stupid refusal to understand that her child sincerely believed that if what she did is not quite right, she's not worth feeding. Marian's block-headed inability to admit that encouraging words wouldn't destroy her child left us a paranoid mess raising paranoid messes who overreact to the least bit of disappointment.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
One of the more amusing elements of Marian's liography is that her asshole dad had a dog he doted on. He could never bring himself around to the idea that Marian was fully human and deserving of love and trust and respect because she was a she but his freaking dog was the bee's knees, the wasp's elbows and the erogenous zones of any number of insects. The natural end result of this was, of course, to make Marian think that dogs were bad news because it was easier for her to attack a symbol of her crappy childhood than to actually confront the old jerk. By saving her family from dog ownership, she clearly seems to have believed that she was saving them from the horrors that were the inevitable result of having a dog around.

I should also tend to think that any interest in dogs Elly might have displayed as a child would have been stifled by playing on an exaggerated fear of disease and injury. It's like how one of my more delightful relatives convinced one of my more suggestible nieces that the merest exposure to ham would cause her to drop dead on the spot of a rampaging case of trichinosis. We might have convinced the poor sap that she isn't going to fall down dead but she still won't touch the stuff. Similarly, Elly might intellectually know that dogs aren't all trying to bite her and give her the rabies but any curiosity she might have had about them died pretty much the same time that Elvis told us not to step on his blue suede shoes.

The reason that I mention this is that Elly was prevailed upon to get a dog because another old lady with her head up her arse thought it would teach her responsibility. Given Marian's clear belief that only women who've been beaten down by tyrannical old men accept the four-legged symbol of patriarchal domination, it's probably the case that the old bat is less willing to respect Elly because, yes, she's taking orders from a mutt like a sucker instead of standing her ground and pretty much screaming at a windmill and declaring her intent to slay the obvious monster.
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)
We're about a few days away from what I think is going to be the real payoff of the whole stupid arc about the Great Big Hole of Failure Jim punched through the ceiling of Lizzie's room; as we're about to see, Jim has no idea that John and Elly are furious with him because no one wants to actually say anything that hints at any sort of displeasure with his imbecilic meddling. The reason for this seems rather obvious when you consider where Elly gets a certain annoying character trait from.

As I've explained to you before, we know that Elly gets her belief that there's only one 'right' way to do laundry, cook supper, raise children, sweep floors and so on and so forth from her mother. We also know that Elly gets her tendency to not notice rather obvious signs that things aren't as pleasant as she'd prefer them to be from Marian. This leaves us wondering where she gets her irritating habit of telling the children "Morality can go hang for all I care! Tell me what I want to hear or you're a bad, selfish and ungrateful child I cannot love" from.

The interesting thing is that the same person who tells Jim that everything is always fine is also the same person who sees a disaster in the making at every turning. While it is true that Jim does to tend be akin to John and give into fear when confronted with any sort of evidence that his mostly unearned privileges might be called into question and he tends to not realize that spanking wasn't the cure-all he believed it to be, he doesn't impress me as being the sort of assume sight unseen that people who say stuff that he doesn't feel like hearing are bad people who want to ruin his life. This is because he, despite knowing that he married an anxious, stand-offish woman who, due to a claustrophobic and tension-ridden childhood, never quite managed to figure out social norms, never himself quite managed to realize that she was raising Elly and Phil to be oblivious to any sort of sign that their behaviour might be a problem because she herself was always taken by surprise by the amazingly obvious. What this meant is that while he might be pissed off when his children did something that bugged him, he was at least aware of what that thing was. Marian, on the other hand, seems to have been constantly ticked off by the fact that the children didn't immediately agree that the world inside her head and the real world were coterminous.

What this all means is that since she isn't looking for signs that John and Elly don't agree that kicking a hole in a ceiling is a free action and since she won't admit that she's made her daughter afraid to confront people when it matters, Jim will never know that people are kinda bitter about the hole in the ceiling.
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)
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)
As we've seen and will see as the years go on, most of the reason why Elly reacts in the negative to her children's normal maturation process is not the same reason that John gets all bent out of shape. While John gets as outraged at them as he does anyone who stands in the way of his delusion that a piss-ant like him gets to parade around like King of Big-Deal Freaking Mountain, Elly has gone on record as suffering from the misapprehension that her children are trying to supplant her as the authority figures in the house. As all of her insane and idiotic blather about chaos teaches us, Elly was terrified that her children were going to gang up on her and dictate to her and she'd just have to lump it. The problem with this sort of paranoid nightmare fantasy is that while she does have cause to be afraid of someone coming in and cutting her off at the knees, she consistently gets the age of the malefactors wrong.

The reason that I say this is that I know certain things that Elly loses sight of. The first thing that she lost sight of is that her mother only started treating her an adult competent to run her own affairs when she was in her late forties. Before that, Marian tended to act as if she'd had to come in and rescue her well-meaning but essentially incompetent little girl from a childhood scrape she'd gotten herself into. Always and ever, Marian smiled a big, friendly, innocent and stupid smile as she brainlessly destroyed Elly as an authority figure and left the poor woman holding the bag.

The second thing that Elly lost sight of is that Carrie Patterson also seemed to have spent her time seeing Elly not as a fellow mother but as that silly little girl who just can't take care of her son the way he deserves to. Again, we have a blank-brained old Anglo mindlessly undermining someone's authority and not coming within a kiloparsec of noticing the damage she did.

This is because of something everyone lost sight of except me: what a repulsive control freak John is. Carrie is too in love with his knavishness and Marian was too blasted flattered by the oily jackass to see what a dangerous person he is. He doesn't give a damn about how Elly feels as if she's taking a backseat to everyone in her own home just so long as he can keep her off balance and under his thumb.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru)
As you know, I really don't think much of Marian Richards as a mother. It seems to me that Elly would have been a damned sight better off being raised by wolves or evil Qu├ębecois career women than being raised to follow her mother's horrible example. Given that I've just reminded myself that Marian is as easily baffled and horrified by the mundane as Elly is, I should think that the reason that Marian failed as a mother is that she was as dumb as a sack of hammers. Take, as a for instance, her fear that Elly was mutating into a demanding, foul-tempered petty tyrant. Rather than asking herself if she was simply becoming her own person or wondering what factor or factors in Elly's life made her into a moody jerk who staggered under the burden of not knowing her place in the world, Marian sat on Elly and never seemed to think that anything that she did was good enough. She also never seemed to get it through her thick skull that what would actually make Elly happy was the least hint that her mother approved of her and was proud to have brought her into the world. Were you to have put the matter to her in those terms, it's fairly likely that Marian would not understand what you were saying because Elly knew this despite her never saying so or acting as if she did.

This inability to really understand that Elly desperately wanted to be thought well of and praised and, most importantly, be told that she wasn't a mistake that her mother regretted has led her to do all sorts of things that are clearly against her better interests. Marrying John, quitting school, having children and other stupid things are stupid things she did because she thought that she could finally get Marian to say that she did right. Since Mommy was as dumb as a bag of rocks, that never really happened. Also, since Elly is too busy feeling sorry for herself to notice that her life is pretty good, she's too wrapped up in trying to have a do-over of her childhood to notice that Liz is repeating the same stupid pattern.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru)
The interesting thing about researching this arc is that I've finally started to put certain things together in my mind. The thing that I've finally started to figure out is that Marian Richards is a fairly clueless human being. She never seemed to realize that Elly wanted to be treated like an adult instead of a kid, focuses on things that don't really matter worth a damn, can't manage to realize that there are times when people want to feel bad about doing something stupid and above all, has no idea who the people in her life are.

The reason that this is a problem isn't just that her inability to see that clamping down on Elly in the name of a specious respectability while shrugging, smiling and refusing to see that most real men regard the momma's boy she blighted the world with with contempt ensured that her children fought like rats in a cage. The reason that it's a problem is that the same dimbulb who thought that a cranky child was the second coming of Hitler doesn't know that her daughter married a despicable imbecile.

The reason that I think that Marian has to have had a room temperature IQ in Celsius is that John is an amazingly easy person to size up. Anyone with a functioning brain would immediately see that John is a self-absorbed, verbally abusive, immature jerk who regards Elly as a resource to be exploited, a hindrance to be overcome and a child in need of guidance. While Jim seemed to be aware that John is a pinhead, he said nothing because Elly had convinced herself that she was happy with her asshole husband, hobby job and non-life. Marian cannot understand what makes people tick because she's denser than titanium and thus doesn't see that John needs to whiz on the electric fence yesterday.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru)
You'll have noticed over the last few weeks that whenever a child does something you and I would expect of them in a given situation, the adult who they interact with does not do something expected. Instead of chuckling under her breath or smiling ruefully at a childish misapprehension or sighing when reminded that a child's perspective on a situation is not her own, Elly always looks as if she's been taken totally by surprise. Phil also seems to regard typical little kid behaviour as if it were something that no one could ever have possibly anticipated. One would almost think as if they were raised to think that they cannot understand the easily understandable.

Sadly, this seems to be the case. This is because whenever we see Marian interact with Mike, Lizzie or April, the easily predictable seems to completely baffle the Hell out of her. As an example of this tendency, look at how she reacts to Mike telling Lizzie that Elly had to move to Toronto because that was the only place she could find someone who looks like John. A normal person who remembered that children don't see the world the way adults do would smile a little because Mike is thinking the way an eight year old is supposed to. Since Marian isn't a normal person, she didn't smile behind her hand at the little kid logic like a normal person. She looked at us as if to say "Why would he even think that?! Doesn't he know that John and Elly weren't actually really destined to marry? Why isn't he thinking the way I do?"

Also, let's examine what happens when Lizzie tries to smuggle herself to Vancouver; a normal person would understand that her granddaughter likes being near her and doesn't want to say goodbye. Since Marian isn't normal, one of the things that preoccupied her mind on her death bed was "Why did Lizzie do that to my luggage all those years ago? I don't understand that and couldn't possibly see it coming."

This seems to be part of a wider pattern of Marian standing there looking baffled when confronted with the world around her. While she loved to talk about how on the ball she was, she clearly never had the least clue who the people around her were. As by way of example, she never seems to have realized what a terribly selfish and cruel person John is. More on that tomorrow.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru)
Despite what I might say, the image of Elly Patterson standing around bellowing in rage and jabbing her finger in the air like a crazy woman after encountering some non-event that her paranoia and negativity have turned into a crisis is not the only image I have of her. I also think of her as either looking like she got rode hard and put away wet or tear-assing around in a blind panic shoving things into a less insane person's hands. The last thing [livejournal.com profile] hoppytoad79 did before leaving the Foobiverse behind is hint as to why that might be; it seemed to her that the slipshod way Elly 'planned' Michael's birthday party is symptomatic of a wider problem. A normal person would know that she had to take charge of things so that she didn't wind up losing control of the situation. It was Elly's job to plan out the event beforehand so she'd have things run the way she wanted to, Elly's job to come up with the entertainment, Elly's job to make sure that when one event ended, the next began, Elly's job to time when food was served, Elly's job to make sure that the guests put the presents where she wanted them, Elly's job to make sure that Lizzie swallowed her Jell-O before butting in and blowing out Michael's candles. The only contribution Michael was supposed to make was to relay instructions from the person throwing it. Had that happened, Elly would not have been running around like an idiot responding to crises and not ended up feeling like she was about to die.

The problem is that Elly never seems to have realized that she has to plan out her day so that she isn't all the time reacting to things and letting things get ahead of her. This tells me that Marian's worry that Elly would become a selfish, demanding tyrant were simply the after-effects of dealing with one of the horrible, selfish idiot patriarchs that litter the Liographies. What she should have worried about instead is how Elly never seemed to plan things out very well and taught her some handy tips to save time. The first tip should, as I'm about to explain, is to not let herself get guilted into over-extending herself.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru)
As I reminded you yesterday, Elly likes to mindlessly copy Marian in all things, good or bad. Having shown you one good idea turned into something destructive because Elly doesn't understand why Marian did it, I'd like to show you the good habit Marian had that Elly turned into something terrible. Just as Marian spent the rest of her life baffled by the fact that Elly just upped and dropped out of University, Elly can't quite figure out why it is that Mike didn't take his trumpet lessons seriously. What she and Phil clearly expected to happen was that Mike was supposed to want to be inspired by how good the Marsalis brothers are and thus plug away until he masters the trumpet. This is because like Marian, they aren't going to realize that Michael is so intimidated by the man's technique that he decides on the spot that he is never going to be that good, the fact that Phil and Elly expect him to try his best means that they want to give up his childhood in a vain pursuit of perfection that he simply cannot deliver. This, I should think, is because they share Marian's belief in the one right way to teach trumpet and don't want to admit that children are not all the same. While it is true that Phil thrived under the sort of structured environment of band practice, Elly (despite what Marian wanted to believe) reacted to the presence of better people by giving up so as to avoid defeat and humiliation; since Mike seems to have inherited most of his personality from Elly, he too reacts to the possibility of losing by quitting.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru)
Now that we've resumed the "Elly versus the arcade" arc, we're finally getting to why Elly won't let Mike go there: she's afraid that he'll start using profanity. As we'll see, our girl is terrified that her children will think little or nothing of using off-color language in conversation and will do anything to prevent it. In this, she looks like a normal parent who cares about what happens to her offsprings and small ones; since, as [livejournal.com profile] howtheduck says, the average reader sees the Pattersons as being reflections of his or her own family, he or she tends to assume that Elly isn't some vain jerk who cares less about what happens to her children unless it somehow or other affects her adversely.

Sadly, Elly is just that sort of jerk. We're destined to get a minty-fresh reminder of her belief that she has to shut Michael up lest HER reputation take a hit in a year and a half when the Enjos move into what used to be Connie's house. As we'll see again, Elly went out of her way to keep Michael from saying anything about Keith and Dawn's appearance because she was obviously convinced that that something would be an ethnic slur. The really telling part of all of this is that Michael's managing to blurt out that the only thing he noticed was that Brian was his age did not reassure Elly in the least. Not for her the comforting revelation that Mike isn't the bigot she thought he was; she's too busy being upset that he made her worry about nothing.

One must also take into consideration the other reason that she's at pains to control his vocabulary: her fear that if a bad thing happens just once, it'll keep on happening. Since she needs to feel as if she's a helpless victim of selfish people who just don't care about her to feel good about herself, the idea that her children aren't trying to destroy her out of malice is not one she wants to see. She has to be an intolerant idiot letting her life slip away from her because that's all she knows; after all, she's spent so long trying to prove to her mother that she's a good girl, she won't allow herself to relax and admit that she has good kids because, well, Marian never did and her way is the only way that looks safe to follow.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru)
In a recent entry on the Foobiverse, the question "Why do people gang up on Elly's mother?" was asked. [livejournal.com profile] jschillig was troubled by the way in which Elly's mother was treated like the at-the-very-least emotionally abusive Ursula Ridgway when Lynn herself said that the two of them were distinct people. The reason for the negativity is that while Lynn might not have made her pretend mother as nasty as her real one, she did make her a somewhat frosty and high-handed person who had to have things just so. In her first five or six appearances in the strip, we could count on her not being especially sympathetic to Elly's struggles and somewhat critical about the way Elly lived her life. It's fairly hard to like someone who seems to live to find fault in the protagonist while blinding herself to the shortcomings of a favourite like Phil. It's like how we get pissed off when Elly herself slobbers over the bogus accomplishments of The Delicate Genius while wishing April would somehow magically vanish.

That being said, it's not one hundred percent her fault that Elly is an idiot no matter how panicked Elly's "overly strong" will and "abusive, controlling nature" made her. Sure, the same woman who angrily refused to even consider letting Jim have a dog because she read in a magazine that pets were on the way out went sat on Elly while indulging Phil because that's what she thought she was supposed to but let's be honest here. We are dealing with a woman who'd be an angry nitwit who'll die feeling jilted because she missed everything owing to wasting her life whining about what she doesn't have if Marian had been the most permissive human being alive. We know that Elly can't be happy with herself and feels compelled to do things the hard way because she has no sense of humor. We also know that she can't accept responsibility for her actions so she needs a scapegoat.

This is somewhat unfortunate because it blinds her to something that Deanna is also not aware of. Just as Evil Mira clearly seems to think that Deanna is a smarter, more capable person than the huffy, childish git who enables Michael, the part of Marian's Liography that wasn't about being unfair to Elly, domineering to Jim or indulgent to Phil was predicated on her belief that Elly could somehow magically be more than some dolt who'd wreck her life marrying a nerdy dentist who needed her to wait tables because he too was stupid with his money. It would probably not do any good to explain to her that her mother's disappointment with her stemmed from the fact that she saw intellect, ambition and drive that simply were not there because that would be a bummer personal responsibility trip.


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