dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
As you know, I once speculated that what motivates the common vandal is his or her belief that the thing he or she is wrecking is to avenge him or herself for the perceived slight of the object's existence. Behind every nihilistic jerk who gets his rocks off breaking stuff is a whiny little puke who thinks that other people can only enjoy themselves if they know they're depriving a narcissistic puss-bag of something and revel in said deprivation. The reason that I mention this is that human beings can also be vandalized. Lynn accidentally proved that when Divala showed up.

To start things off, we have to remember that Mike had been raised to think of himself as this great big special snowflake who's supposed to win all the time. It never occurred to him that he was simply supposed to do a little puff piece on an up-and-comer to pay his dues like an ordinary mortal and he brainlessly misinterpreted what happened to him as an attempt to deprive him of what he wasn't actually due. Instead of realizing that he'd overstepped ridiculously, he made a whiny comment about how the cat he let out of the bag had claws in order to justify his essentially being one of the punks on 4chan spewing venom at someone who irritated him by being different without his approval. While it's true that maybe she was a bit of a fraud, it wasn't his place to subject her to a witch hunt and ruin her life just because he felt small and stupid. The only consolation we have is that he didn't commit the ultimate act of vandalism and go on a shooting spree.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
Of course, it's not just Liz who tends to totally screw up weddings she's involved in. To explain why, we have to remember that another tradition is to have some male relation deliver a speech that lists all the stupid embarrassing things that the bride has done with a view to blowing off a bit of steam after the solemnity of it all. When she first encountered this phenomenon, Lizzie asked John which relative is keeping track of the embarrassing things she does. John didn't quite say but, well, I think we know who that might be and he looks like Evil Linus Van Pelt. This is because we KNOW that Michael delivered this speech during the Settlepocalypse.

As I said years ago, this means that the guests were treated to a tsunami of rancid oatmeal that has as its premise the stupid idea that Mike is the victim of all victims surpassing all others because he had to share the oxygen in the house. He, of course, has no idea that he comes across as a creature similar to his imbecile mother in that both of them resent the very idea of having a sibling or that he also looks like a whiny moron who can't let piddly crap from decades go. He'll expect nothing but praise for his fair and balanced view of his sister.

The interesting thing is that the inevitable result that is Liz being told that it's tradition to be slammed at her own wedding by the Looming Shape Of Imbecile Malice that's haunted her life and will continue to overshadow her and get in the way of her finally being loved for decades to come is rather true to life. In a world dedicated to justice and honour instead of going along to get along, the guests would rise up en masse, behead Michael, shove a clove of garlic in his mouth, pound a wooden stake into his heart and bury his ass at a cross-roads but in this world of present darkness, he'd be allowed to be a dimwitted man-child who can't see past his nose.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
Of course, if we want to look at sad, sad strips from the Elly chases after children era, we need look no farther than the 'YOU ARE ASKING FOR A SMACK!!!!/I wanted a hug" debacle. As Donald Fagen would say, any major dude could tell you that this confrontation was doomed to repeat itself because of certain key facts about the combatants. First, we have Elly. She's disorganized, she's easily frustrated, she can't deal with distractions and the presence of other people in her environment angers her because she fears and hates the idea of being touched. Next, we have Michael. He needs reassurance and he's sort of not swift enough to realize that Elly isn't a television mother but a flawed human being who's really rather piss-poor at figuring out why people do what they do because she's really rather stupid. She assumes that since he's driving her up the wall, that MUST be what he wants to do because it saves her having to do something she stinks at: thinking.

This need to not really think because doing so would cause her to look in the mirror and see a vain, angry imbecile who brings her trouble on herself blinds her to one of Michael's three primary character flaws: his almost bottomless hunger for approval and affection. We don't have to look much farther than Elly screaming about how horrible it is that Lizzie wants to interrupt Mommy's IMPORTANT work to make her play with baby forever to realize that when Mike was an infant reaching for her, Elly was her haptophobic self recoiling in horror and disgust from him. Always and ever, Mike asked if he was loved or wanted and always and ever, Elly ducked the question or bade him think about how mean he was being to the baby and always and ever, the need to act out just to have someone be in his presence grew. Eventually, his second key flaw started him thinking that everyone, Mom included, was jealous of what a great kid he was and wanted to keep him miserable but deep down, he's still that little boy whose mother shrinks in horror from him because she cannot bear human contact. I'll get to that odd little flaw next.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
As I've said, Michael's external appearance seems to be indicative of the fact that the world and the strip are changing and he doesn't like it one bit. As John changes from being clueless antagonist to clueless sidekick, Mike seems to step into the role of bane of Elly's existence because he doesn't like the idea of the world expanding away from his imperial self. This is because, as I've also said, the adjective that best describes the dope is "grandiose." Wikipedia has the following definition for grandiosity:

Grandiosity refers to an unrealistic sense of superiority—a sustained view of oneself as better than others that causes the narcissist to view others with disdain or as inferior—as well as to a sense of uniqueness: the belief that few others have anything in common with oneself and that one can only be understood by a few or very special people.

Let's see how well he fits the established warning signs of oblivious narcissism:


  • "Observed lack of insight into the impact they have on others." He never seems to understand what he's doing to piss people off. From not understanding that Elly wasn't put on this Earth to clean up after him to not realizing that most of what's wrong with Liz is that she has an instinctive dread of a looming shape of imbecile malice with dirty black hair, Mike doesn't see himself as being the huge God-damned pain in the neck they'll be cremating fifty years from now.
  • "More likely to regulate self-esteem through overt self-enhancement." Mike never seems to shut up about the good things that happen to him because he sees himself as reminding people of how worth it hanging on every stupid word he says is.
  • "Denial of weaknesses." He never seems to admit that he isn't very smart and doesn't really understand people at all well. What's more, he doesn't seem to understand how flawed his reasoning is.
  • "Intimidating demands of entitlement." The irritating situation he'd gotten into when Martha's friends said that she had to share everything with them or they'd turn on her in a Milborough minute seems to fit the bill for that. She had the choice of not getting eaten alive or being worthy in the eyes of an entitled jerk.
  • "Consistent anger in unmet expectations." There are too many examples of Mike losing his shit when he can't get his own way to list.
  • "Devaluation of people that threaten self-esteem." Sistwirp. Lizardbreath. Res ipsa loquitur.
  • "Diminished awareness of the dissonance between their expectations and reality, along with the impact this has on relationships." The best example of this is, I should think, his stupid comment about being a bug on Rhetta's windshield the second she said she has emotional needs because it was clear to his dumb ass that she should have been content to sit on her hands and wait for him like a passive twit. A normal person would have been upset by her friend-zoning him but not squealed about having his heart crushed in a machine.
  • "Overt presentation of grandiose fantasies." We have any number of letters that have the deluded clod think that his terrible books are the reason alphabetic literacy was invented as proof; to hear him talk, you'd think he licked the Kaiser.
  • "Conflict within the environment is generally experienced as external to these individuals and not a measure of their own unrealistic expectations." The Stalinist purge inflicted on Divala because he confused being asked to pay his dues like everyone else with being a rung on a ladder is the best example of this. The second best is assuming that it's something about Liz that makes him want to crush her because the alternative is touching off the depressive phase of his narcissism in which he makes a pain of himself yapping about what a worthless scumbag he is.



Simply put, Michael has always believed that he deserves all the attention and cannot quite cope with the idea that other people need not to have the son shine in their faces all the time. The only real cure I can think of for his mania is the total implosion of his personality when it becomes too hard to maintain the grand facade. Narcissistic idiots like him have a way of crashing and burning leaving wreckage in their wake. His will be a wife having to go back to behind a pharmacy counter when the executor of someone's estate comes after him for pillaging the person's past in order to create a horrible book. When that happens, he might make a sloppy attempt at suicide in order to make one last grab for attention.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
As you may or may not know by now, Lynn gave the following bad advice:

Like cartooning, writing is something that can’t be taught … you have to experience it, think about it, keep what’s valuable, and put the rest back. I never looked at my own books. I never read my work running again in the paper. The past was the past.

in a long-form essay about her career. What she doesn't realize is that she accidentally revealed a very bad thing about herself and, by extension, her characters by smugly stating that she doesn't like to think about the things she does. What she did was put an exclamation point on a previous silly comment about how she only had thirty seconds to think about the work she did. After the time was up, she could no longer be expected to care about it because it was done. Asking her to care about making sense or keeping track of what was going on was a silly demand that simply asked too much of her because, as she said, the past was the past.

The odd and annoying thing about this is that it seems obvious that she's the only person in the world afforded this luxury. She can't quite keep track of the details because of her poor memory but she does maintain a list of people who've wronged her by getting in her way, making her feel bad and asking more of her than she should be expected to deliver. We see this in Mike when he wonders why people bring up stuff that's happened in the past when he's the one being held to account while at the same time making a list of all of the times Sistwirp butted in in a place where every good person knew she didn't belong: her own home.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru)

As we saw the other day, Michael can, in fact, accurately judge what the result of an action will be if he has a good idea of who's doing it and why. He's no Liz to assume that people will be his friend because he's got good intentions and thus has a fairly good idea of why Thérèse and Liz don't get along. The reason that he's as inept at leading his own life as she is comes not from his not having an idea of what the consequences of his actions will be. The reason is that he has very little idea of who the people around him really are. From what I've seen, he divides the world into three categories: potential allies, heartless authority figures who want him to writhe in the dirt as they laugh at him for making mistakes and heartless liars who trick him into exposing himself.

I'll get to the damage that the first category of people cause at the end of this essay but I'd like to start with his war against people with no sense of human. It seems to me that his unresolved and unresolvable issues with his domineering parents have made him see authority figures as a menace to his dignity. The best example I can think of is Evil, Ambitious Mira who thinks that nothing he does is ever good enough. Since he can't wrap his head around the idea of someone who wants to tell him what do to genuinely doing so for his own good, he's doomed to struggle against her generosity for years to come.

We also have to remember that his dread of being humiliated has made a raging paranoiac of him. The best instance of that is his witless over-reaction to the direct consequences of Martha's friends telling her "If you keep what Mike told you a secret, you'll be an outcast with no protection from anyone"; since the poor deluded clown can't see that some promises can't be kept, he squeals about lying liars who trick him. (This explains why he's on Team Anthony, by the way; he's primed to believe that sneaky women want to trick honest men.)

The nasty side-effect of all of this is that people like Deanne who promise him salvation from tyrants and liars can play him like a damned Atari. Most of her career has been spent approving of all of the stupid things he does so she can make of him the perfect excuse for her own refusal to thrive. It's sort of like he's a male version of Elly; she's got dark hair and she's a malleable paranoiac too.

dreadedcandiru2: (Default)
As the retcons and the strip itself teach us, John has no real use for any literature that isn't some form or another of an instruction manual. The reason that he doesn't like to read novels is, as I've said before, the same one that makes essay questions into a horrible and unfair ordeal his sadistic teachers used to humiliate and confuse him. The reason that he thinks of Elly's interests as being impractical is, of course, his fear of having to devote any sort of thought into what he believes and why he believes it. To do that is to risk the shame and eternal humiliation of having to realize that some of the things that he believes to be universal truths are not fit to be believed and his need to shape his world accordingly has made an ugly fool of him. Reflection also places him in the dire peril of having to see that his pursuit of ludicrous, destructive and self-serving phantasms that he was wrong to ever have even considered have made his decisions witlessly arbitrary and himself to an insensitive ogre who delights in the cruelties he maliciously inflicts thereby putting him in the terrifying position of having to apologize to people. Since he's as smart as a sack of hair, he assumes that if he apologizes, he won't be allowed to stop.

Since he'd rather not admit that having to ask himself why he believes what he believes and if what he believes is worth believing in terrifies him, he dismisses the whole scary phenomenon as being impractical and people who write fiction as pretty much making their money doing nothing much at all. It is thus that he tends to be a lot more fatherly to Gordon Mayes who works with machines and is thus sensible than to Mike who somehow or other isn't quite manly enough to work with engines like he should.

This unbelievable belief is as misguided and silly as all of the other delusions that bedizen the fatuous clot. Gordon, as a for instance, isn't animated by the same need John and Mike share to demean people to show them who's boss nor does he tell people that they need to lose the bothersome tendency to resent being called names. He also doesn't call the need to think of the feelings of those around him before opening his fat yap 'being muzzled' because he's not a spoiled brat. Since John sees things on a very superficial level, he can't see that Mike is far more like him that Gordon.
dreadedcandiru2: (Default)
Let's take a bit closer look at Mike's first attempt at baby-sitting the Nichols children so as to gain some sort of clue to his present-day behavior. As you will recall, the sorry little sack of crap felt as if he'd deserved hazard pay because he was too fragile to cope with normal, high-spirited children who didn't think that they were supposed to be bossed around by some dumb kid their folks hired to watch over them. He'd threatened one of them with violence because he couldn't cope, he whined over the least thing and when faced with the soul-scarring horror of changing a diaper, he blubbered for Mamma!!!!!

Anyone reading this would chortle about his being a weakling and hope that he'd grow a pair before having kids of his own. Sadly, when that prayer was answered, it was in the negative. Twenty years have passed and Mike is still running around being traumatized by the baffling, pant's-soiling terror of small children being the same sort of dunce he used to be, reacting as if being in their presence when it's not convenient is proof that he's a hero, wishing that he could prove his point by sitting on them and bleating pathetically for Deanna to save him from the incomprehensible little demi-humans who terrify and blindside him with their demands on his time.

Whence comes this lack of moral fibre? Being raised in an environment where identifying with the emotional needs of others is regarded as a venial sin. Since putting one's self in the other person's shoes is regarded as being enslaved by that person, it's sort of obvious why Mike is such a weak sister: he can't cope because he was raised not to.  
dreadedcandiru2: (Default)
I'd like to expand on a certain theme that I'd hinted at the other day. What intrigued me is Mike's alarming tendency to view any sort of setback in a relationship as the result of a deliberate attempt to humiliate and destroy him. The first instance of this came when Martha was pressured by her friends to show them a note he'd wrote her. Since Mike has no real idea how female friendships work and has all the curiosity of a block of titanium, the screaming yipyop believed himself to be a victim of a heartless manipulator instead of a moron making a big deal over nothing. Her telling him that her friends had to know everything about her life or else she'd become a target for every queen bee in the school was an exercise in futility because Mike's stupid and doesn't listen.

That, of course, pales in comparison to the emo nonsense we had to wade through when Rhetta did something unforgivable: ask if the two of them could go on break while they were at university and, if they still felt the same about each other, pick things up when they graduates. I'm not sure if it's Mike being scandalized that a mere woman dare to decide things on her own or if it's that she wouldn't do what he expected a good woman to do and put her life on hold while he tomcatted around like men are supposed to. All I do know is that the woman that was the love of his life one second became a vicious, manipulative temptress who sucked in an innocent, toyed with his affections and tore his heart out because she was pure evil. Any hints that he might be overstating or misreading the situation were rejected because that might mean that he's a dumbass with entitlement issues.
dreadedcandiru2: (Default)
As you might have remembered, the television show started out with Lynn at a drawing board making an incoherent speech about what the weekly episode would be about. In the one covering the love life of the Pattersons, she'd talked about what a great romantic Mike was and I'd made an abrasive comment about how Lynn must think that "romantic" and "jerkass" must mean the same thing. If you'll indulge me, I'd like to show you the stages that his relationships took.

  1. Infatuation: When Mike first encountered a love interest, he spent a fair amount of time working up the courage to talk to her. The reason that makes the most sense is that he seems to have a very real fear of rejection. This leads to the next phase in the cycle.
  2. Embarassment: At some point after the initial encounter, Mike does something stupid or makes an idiotic assumption that he thinks has totally ruined his chances. This can be anything ranging from making an ass of himself in front of his fellow scruffy idiots in order to fit in to not realizing that who he thought was his rival was actually Rhetta's brother.
  3. Angst: After Mike screws up and makes an idiot of himself, he usually doesn't have the decency to admit that he did whatever to himself. His narcissism and need to not accept blame make him believe that whoever he's dating is a phony plotting against him out of a sadistic need to torment him.
  4. Gamesmanship: It's at this point things start to deteriorate. This is because even when the butt-hurt nitwit lets Girl X back into his life, it's with the understanding that ex-cons on parole have more freedom than she does. Since the jackass lies to himself as a matter of course, he believes himself to be the image of magnaminity.
  5. Complacent Obliviousness: Since no normal woman wants to be left dangling so that a creepy little non-entity can play with her like a tomcat tormenting a mouse, it's at this point that she usually finds a new love interest who isn't a festering load of passive-aggressive dickery. The reason she's free to do so is that the fetid loon has his fat head wedged so far up his pimply ass, he looks like a pretzel.
  6. Disillusionment: Upon the discovery of the new affiliation, Mike whines idiotically about how a cruel, insincere temptress with a heart full of sulfuric acid lead on and torment a poor innocent like him who was a bird in the radiator grille of life.
  7. Low-key revulsion: Once Mike gets done bawling like an ass because he wasn't the one dishing out the sadistic torment he would have subjected the girl to had he the chance, he makes a stupid, hate-filled comment about how when she's old, fat and ugly, she'll kill herself because she coulda had a Delicate Genius.


What distinguishes Deanna from the two who dodged the bullet is that she'd rather endure his being a revolting pile of entitled sludge than admit the mother who wouldn't let her vegetate was right about him. In short, she has the 'advantage' of being off her head with butt-hurt of her own.
dreadedcandiru2: (Default)
As I mentioned earlier, Mike and Liz are both prize marks for any idiot who can get them to act against their own best interests. We all remember his bribing a parking lot attendant and being gulled into buying Valentine's Day gifts he didn't want to as well as her being made to marry her own stalker in the vain hope that she'd finally get to hit the moving target of being John and Elly's favorite child.

The source of this madness, I should think, is that they hate having to admit that they don't really know what they're doing with their lives. Given how vain they are, how much they fear being laughed at and especially how they can't seem to ever to follow Porky Pine's advice to not take life so serious 'cause it ain't hohows permanent, it seems to me that, as I've said all too often, that they believe that if they're revealed to be ignorant, they won't ever be allowed to be taken seriously ever.

We therefore must contend with a group of numbskulls who, in the course of not admitting that they're in the wrong and thus being turned into a clan of pathetic zeroes who can only be laughed at, turn their backs to those who want to keep that from happening. A lot of what the Pattersons mean by their shrill cries that Mira wants to use their family politics to enslave them is that they fear that she will swoop down and inflict the horrors of common sense and real practicality on them and thus ruin their lives with her evil logic, order and dignity. Why, if she had her way, children would be paid attention to, Mike would have lived an organized life and had a productive career and, worst of all, he might have started thinking for himself and thereby not subsidized the retirement of two entitled old dimwits who didn't want to live within their means when they were working because that was unfair.
dreadedcandiru2: (Default)
Let it not be said that Elizabeth was the only victim of Elly's stupid idea that "fairness" meant that Michael deliberately had to lose in order to keep Lizzie from crying. Let's examine the various ways in which it deformed his personality.
  • The first and most important thing it did was to reinforce his in-built resentment of Elizabeth; it was bad enough knowing that he could do so many praiseworthy things only to not only be silenced because a wailing lump who couldn't do anything was around but to have his accomplishments treated as if they were nothing without also having to give things up because Mommy and Daddy said he was a bad kid if he didn't.
  • This leads us into another thing that baffles and angers dim Elly and learning-impaired John: his default attitude of mistrust and resentment. Since he can seemingly do no right in their eyes when he sees himself as having done nothing wrong, it won't take long for him to develop that attitude John wants to adjust. Since neither alleged parent is capable of seeing how their behavior might be part of the problem, they'll die never knowing how pathetically they failed.
  • Not, of course, that they are alone; every adult Mike has ever encountered seems to be only too eager to remind him that there is one set of arbitrarily hard rules for him and an easy set of rules for Lizzie and that he's a bad kid for even complaining about it.

The end result of this ridiculously failed attempt at creating family harmony is that John and Elly have created a bitter, defensive, self-centered adult child who can't show empathy and who'll do any damned stupid thing to get the attention that was denied him as a child.

dreadedcandiru2: (Default)
As you already know by now, it really bothers me how Mike treats Liz; while it's true that they didn't get along well when they were children, you'd think that once they grew up, he'd grow out of the whole smug treating her like dirt thing that defined him as a child. The problem with that is that he not only never grew out of being a shit, he's been steadily getting worse as the years wear on. The reason for this is that he hasn't got it in him to respect her personal boundaries.

Let's start with the infamous strip in which he treated her fear of the reoccurence of the emotional betrayal that nearly crippled her as a huge joke; my guess is that the ridiculous bucket of poop is still out of sorts because she didn't agree that her feelings are as meaningless and laugh-worthy as she herself is. This lack of regard for her feelings or need for privacy came into play earlier when he regarded her private life as fodder for one of his arch and abusive stab-in-the-back slice-of-life articles and when he bleated about how she deserves every bit of abuse she's had to deal with (if not more) because she's more attractive than he is. About the only time she ever received a compliment was when he realized that she and Deanna looked alike and that only happened because he's a perv.

Contrast all that with how seriously he wants his every stupid little reverse treated; we are dealing with someone who greeted the merest mention that infidelity was possible by bleating pathetically about how Rhetta was a false-hearted woman with a heart made out of stone and spent her time laughing as he writhed in pain....about an event that had yet to even occur. The merest mention that his misery was as fictitious as his genius and good will was greeted with even more whining.

Simply put, I cannot be asked to treat an alleged man who regards non-events that happen to him as meaning far more than the real pain of those around him with anything other than revulsion and contempt. That puts him on the same level as the person he most takes after: Elly. Like his mother before him, he has no idea what isn't his business, has no real empathy for those around him and tends to want to be pitied for non-events.
dreadedcandiru2: (Default)
Elly's tendency to actively work against her own self-interest doesn't stop with her need to have her children underfoot when she's working so she can have something to scream about. If it were limited to that, she'd be just another disorganized idiot who doesn't understand how to pace herself. Her need to sabotage herself also takes the form of something I was reminded of and commented on earlier: her insistence that her young son be elated by something that can only baffle him by how alien it is to his immediate concerns. As we've seen, she's quite angry with him that he doesn't especially care about something that he couldn't reasonably be expected to care about.

What she doesn't realize is that her insistence that he jump for joy when her column sees print and active animosity when he doesn't drives him to the conclusion that she's doing all this working-outside-the-home thing not only to escape him because she hates being around him but as a really complicated means of punishing him for not only wanting time away from watching over someone who gets away with everything because they love her more than they love him but for liking things that she doesn't. The end result is something of a vicious circle: the more she insists that he be supportive of her endeavors, the more sullenly antagonistic he is to her career. Since he, like her, is a self-absorbed narcissist who can't remember the past very well, it should probably sicken him that the nasty little not-quite-humans that Deanna can't seem to keep from bothering him seem to defy him and be evil by not caring about his thick damned books.
dreadedcandiru2: (Default)
One of the things that makes the Pattersons such entertainingly awful people to watch is that they are so blatantly unaware of how nasty they are. As an example, let's examine the word that most readily summarizes Mike's hatred of having to share anything with anyone at any time: Lizardbreath. As we've seen, he seems to delight in not seeing how hurtful and demeaning this mocking distortion of his sister's first name really is; when Deanna called him out on being a petty little bully, he moaned a pathetic moan about how he had no choice but to be an asshole because she was cuter and if left to feel good about herself, would displace him as favored child and he'd have to be shoved away in the crawl space with all the other obsolete old refuse that they have no room or use for and a host of other nonsense.

That being said, there was a time in the strip's history wherein Lynn didn't pretend that the Pattersons knew all the answers; they were allowed to have flaws that, while not especially pleasant to behold, at least made them identifiable as human beings. Mike's flaw used to be an inability to see that what definitely bothered him when it happened to him might be a problem were he to do it to someone else. When we contrast his not taking being mocked for falling for one of an endless series of lying promises to be allowed to hang with the cool kids if he did something stupid at all well, his hatred of being given insulting names and his disbelief that a girl he knew would allow herself to be associated with an asshole who treated her like crap with his smug insistence on being a dick to Liz, we can quickly size him up as a mildly hypocritical stripling with a huge blindspot.

Somewhere along the way, though, the thing that happened to Phil that made him want to build an adult relationship with Elly never happened to him; since he's not really ever going to grow up, he'll always have to relearn that when bad things happen to other people, they hurt as much as he would because, like the seven year old he'll be when he dies in his eighties, he'll always forget that fact. He'll also never really learn that his sister's feelings could possibly be as valid as his own or she'll win being a child.
dreadedcandiru2: (Default)
Now it seems to me that the simple little column that Elly the intern has been assigned won't give her much of a chance to stretch her vocabulary; as we saw from the encrustations of ill-understood polysyllabic words in the stomach-wrenching excerpts from Stone Season, the only real difference between it and "Sum kids were lost an'then were found!" is that the latter example of Mike's having all the insight of a baked potato was his love of padding his blank-witted verse with big, big words. That being said, Elly was forced to have to stick to dull grey facts and use small words because the big meanie editor wanted to have room for the adventures of the local Bantam A hockey team.

She did better when submitting her awful poems about how small, frightened children who want their mother to comfort them should be pounded into silence so Mommy could sleep and how doing laundry because she's too stupid to teach her children to put their clothes away properly is an existential horror; that's because the editors thought that she was parodying the whole martyr mom meme instead of giving them a look at the greasy interior of the mind of a narcissistic jerkass.

The person who spent the most time cursing the evils of the blue-pencil tyrants is, of course, Mike; from bitching about how unfair it was that he didn't get most of his story about his vulture-like hanging about and getting in the EMTs' way when Deanna drove off the road published to snarling at his boss when he couldn't get his petty revenge against a busy woman who treated him like the nonentity he is printed, Mike bellows and screams at the cruelty of having to have his tosh, bad grammar, ludicrously inept punctuation, baffling misuse of words and misspellings turned into legible English.

In this, he is much like his creator. As we all know, the one thing that is guaranteed to turn the terrifyingly perky Lynn into a belligerent jerk is when someone corrects her piss-poor writing style. She insists that her glaring errors must stand because she knows what she's doing, little realizing that she's revealing herself to be a petulant child who won't follow the rules because it just isn't in her to do so.
dreadedcandiru2: (Default)
As you've noticed, Elly and her mother don't get along as well as they should because they are far too similar in temperament; the very few times Marian does appear, we see the narcissism of minor differences working its destructive magic on any hope that they can coexist for extended periods. Elly's hatred of being thought of as a child and yearning to be taken seriously always seemed to collide with Marian's not taking herself seriously at all. About the only thing that they can agree on is how difficult it is for them to get rid of things and to not accumulate things that they do not need.

It seems to me that this need to have too many things might be why Elly does all those loads of clothes every single day; we get broad hints that it's because Mike cannot put them away properly or put them in the hamper without mixing clean clothes in with the dirty thereby making what looks like a case of OCD actually a case of inconsiderate spoiled jerk of a child.

The problem with that reasoning is that it's not as simple as Elly would make it. Leaving aside the very obvious problem of his having outgrown certain garments that his mother simply cannot bring herself to dispose of, we have to remember that the huge pile more than likely contains clothing that is out of season and gifts from well-meaning outsiders.

This excess leads to problems because Elly seems to have not considered that Mike's fumbly little eight-year old hands simply cannot put clothes away the way she wants. Not only does he not have enough space in his dressers, he cannot reach the coat rod in his closet nor can he work a hanger effectively. This means that treating the floor like a large, low-hanging shelf is pretty much a necessity because his mother can't seem to figure out how to help him be neat.

What really makes him screwed is that Elly is averse to advice because she thinks that picky-faces are trying to humiliate her. Since she won't accept help and needs to feel persecuted, Mike never will learn to look after himself and have to rely on a wife to keep his environment in order.
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Somehow at one point during a recent discussion of Mike's questionable behavior at the scene of Deanna's car accident, someone had reminded us of the trip he and Josef Weeder took to Japan to cover the debut of an up-and-coming Canadian fashion designer who went by the name 'Divala'. What happened is that he got his feelings bruised because a busy woman treated him like the non-entity he was. Given how stupid Mike is, he probably expected her to explain why she didn't give him what he wanted when anyone with two clues to rub together would know that it was his function to ask trivial questions like what her favorite color or flavor of ice cream was; for all we know, she even giggled politely when he acted as if he was there to write a serious journalistic work. His reaction to being treated with far more respect than he deserved was to write a vicious hatchet job that torpedoed her career and got him fired.

In the real world, it would simply have ended with his getting fired and Weed castigating him for being a big, ignorant sooky baby throwing a tantrum because his damned diaper hadn't dried out yet; we'd then have to endure general whining from the Pattersaints about how scary and evil Big Boy Town is and how glad they are to cool their heels in the vast suburban day care center called Milborough. Since this is Foob and not a realistic strip, Mike was rewarded for doing something very stupid by being given a job far beyond his meager skills. The question, of course, is how to reconcile the harm that Mike had done because the mean lady treated him like he was some regular shmuck off the street (which he was) with the charming hack a new team would create.

The answer, I should think, would have a parallel to the revitalized new version of Dick Tracy; what's been going on there of late is that the enemies Dick didn't know were still alive have been emerging from the shadows looking for payback; what would happen is that she'd show up on a mildly-fictionalized version of "Late Night with George Stroumboulopoulos" talking about her long struggle to get back in the game after being ambushed by a petulant, vengeful and ignorant rookie who's known for cranking out abuse porn fit only to be made into Canadian miniseries. The cool new Mike would be all about how he'd wanted to make things right but he couldn't see how without making things worse. We might not get the apology that would satisfy but at least we'd have something better than somebody getting struck down with the fist of ham for not treating Mike as if the sun shone out of his ass.
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Before I get to the meat of my article, let's remind ourselves of a very important fact; even without John's prodding, Michael has it in his head that Elly's real function in life is to cater to his whims. The idea that she'd want an identity other than his servant is anathema to him because he's a self-absorbed jerk who fears the very strong female impulses within his personality; this need to reassure himself that he's male is another thing that makes him want to destroy Liz; not only is she a rival for his parents' affections, she's not the little brother he ignorantly assumed that he'd get along with. Even now, today, Mike is willing himself to not realize how frustrated and angry Elly was with her lot in life lest he feel remorse. That being said, his record in the public sphere is almost as pathetic a tapestry of failure as his mother's. Let's start with the fact that most of the people he went to school with regarded him as a disruptive jerk who'd take any dare in order to fit in and be liked; one fine summer, he'd bonded with Martha over the same tendency. Aside from his not learning to stop taking dares like a moron, the interesting thing about the relationship Elly wanted to abolish because she was a wallflower is that we found out something we should have known all along: most people in Milborough don't have the same high opinion of Mike as he does. Watching the same jackass who wasted his life being a snotty little creep to Liz because his parents betrayed him by having a girl act like a whiny little bitch because he was the target of verbal abuse brought a nasty smile to my face.

Another thing that cheers me up is that as part of the labor force and as a public figure, he made a bigger, uglier, more pathetic fool of himself than Elly ever did. Remember when he asked how she could betray him by protesting the closure of that theater? Despite his insistence that she was only doing it to destroy the good reputation he never had, she was simply an annoying loudmouth with a sandwich board and a reasonably worthy cause who ended up handing a politician on the make a handy club to beat his enemies over the skull with and, despite his paranoid and self-serving belief that she was out to get him, had no real idea that he felt that way. Contrast that to when some ignoramus told him about the planned hike in bus fares; he didn't even have the facts on hand when he got on live TV and blathered about how unfair a useful increase that would expand service was. The end result of his idiocy was that the local municipality ended up having to field more off-point questions from other imbeciles and not, as John hoped, his son learning from a mistake. Another highlight of his was making himself the target of the rage of emergency workers, police officers and anyone else who resented the vulture-like buzzing around of a heartless moron who told the EMTs to get out of the way because they were standing between him and an award; his later remorse was not that he was a jackass paparazzo but because he might end up being held accountable. One must also recall to mind his ineptitude as the editor of Portrait; he thinks of himself as having saved the team by running home crying to his fellow imbecile quitter of a mother. The people he left behind have the same low opinion of him that Moira probably has of Elly; in both cases, we have a dimwit with no stamina, brains or heart taking a powder because details are hard leaving wreckage for hardier souls to clean up. The difference is that Elly owns Moira's horses thereby making it difficult to tell her to piss off; also, Moira's contempt is tinged with, if not understanding, at least pity. She knew going in that Elly is a fool and can handle bullshit with aplomb; Mike's former employees are still seething with rage about the rat who didn't even check to see if the ship was sinking before fleeing and how they're all supposed to treat someone who's a bad joke in the industry like he's King of Big Freaking Deal Mountain because he wrote the Canadian equivalent to the Twilight novels.
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Elly's baffled and unacknowledged desire to somehow couple with Phil isn't the only factor that must be considered when we look back at her life; we also have to remember that she's transfixed by the following vision:

Place: Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens, Milborough, Ontario, Canada. Date: 28 August 2021.
[We find John, Michael, Liz and April putting flowers on a grave marker.]

Michael: It's hard to believe it's been five years since Mom passed on. I thought she'd be here for years and years...

John: It was simply her time.

Michael: Was it, Dad? I look back at the past and I can't but remember that she did a lot more than we ever gave her credit for; I feel kinda bad that we didn't do more for her when she was alive.

This vision, this nightmare fantasy in which she will only praised for her years of hard work long after she's died leads her on like a pillar of smoke during the day and a pillar of fire during the night. We all know the causes and they're all in Elly's head. The first, of course, is that she is sick with the fear that she doesn't really matter, that her life has no impact and that all she does is play a minor supporting role in the lives of people who have an important part to play in the human drama. As she sees it, she has no identity of her own as it seems to her that she's not so much an individual as she is a female adjunct of a male of some sort. This not-really-hidden self-loathing has a sidekick: her preference of The-world-that-might-have-been to the World-that-is; she's never really happy with all the desirable things in her life because that which she thinks should be hers means more. A third concern is that she can't rest or take time off lest chaos befall the world due to her laziness; this means that enforced idleness is the sheerest cruelty possible to inflict on her. Since she doesn't want to admit that she has to do endless hours of futile busywork just to feel minimally useful, John doesn't know what Elly does all day. As I've said before, what she thought was a slam at her for being lazy was his comparing how long it would take his mother to clean a house their size and figuring out that she could have tidied up at least three of them per diem; her claims of overwork don't thus make sense unless the tired joke he makes of dusting the attic every day is more than hyperbole. We also need to contend with her very real need to not look weak by telling people what's really bothering her and its twin, the belief that they already know. Finally, there's her warped perception of risk. My guess as to why she never considered getting a lock to the gate is that it was better that April be exposed to harm than to have random strangers think that she was some loon hunkered down in her bunker. This constellation of hang-ups seem to have the revenge effect of making what seems like a unrealistic fantasy of martyrdom at the hands of the clueless a near certainty. In the real world, Mike would have stated that if she was upset with her lot in life, he would have known.

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