Thursday, December 29, 2011

12/29 - These So-Called Problems

To close the year, I shall direct each of the LWs to an episode of My So-Called Life, which ought to solve the problem at hand rather better than the Prudecutor can do.

L1: As we are dealing with facial hair, this must be Episode #4, Father Figures. Having made less than sterling first impressions on Patty, Rayanne and Rickie have better luck when they meet Graham on his return home from work one afternoon - with stubble (not, Angela explains, deliberate - he ran out of razors). Rayanne likes it. Rickie, after a quick baby gayppraisal, has to go and just exchanges Hi and Bye with Graham at the door. Angela begins by recalling how excited she always was when Daddy came home a few years ago. She shies away from Graham's embrace, citing his stubble, but really she's gone off him since overhearing him planning a potential extramarital liaison that in the end Graham squelched. Danielle, in a manner only a younger sister could pull off, gives Graham a huge embrace and enthuses about how much she loikes it when he doesn't shave.

And, much to her own surprise, Rayanne is soon actually cooking, which is a real hoot for her. And then comes the revelation that Graham has been given two tickets to the Grateful Dead. Thrilled, Rayanne relates to Graham Amber's glorious past as a Deadhead, living in a van for six months with a girl called Pop-Tart. It remains for Patty to play killjoy, arriving home with news that her father's slippery tax preparation had landed her an IRS audit for the family business she took over.

It gets worse. The audit is due to precede the concert by only a few hours. Patty informs Graham that he is not going to a rock concert after she is audited by the IRS. So Graham gives the tickets to Angela and Rayanne. He tells Patty when they're in bed, leading to a marital spat. That Amber is going cuts no ice with Patty, who accuses Graham of wanting Angela to go - on a school night, on top of everything. Graham admits it. He saw the Dead when he was fifteen, and it was one of the eight greatest nights of his life. He wants to share that experience with his daughter. Unimpressed, Patty tells him to get Angela to return the tickets.

Angela, a bit nonplussed about how to cope when a friend really likes one of her parents, has to diagram sentences in English with Jordan Catalano. Desperate to start a coversation, she pulls out the tickets and studies them, making sure he sees that she has them, then can't decide how far to backtrack about not being a Deadhead or liking them that much. When she remembers that she owes Jordan $30 for the fake ID he procured for her, he offers to scalp the tickets. This shatters Rayanne, who goes off on a rant about how people don't sell Grateful Dead tickets; they give people Grateful Dead tickets, and how she was part of the Us to whom Graham gave the tickets.

The evening of the concert, Angela quarrels with Graham, accuses him of hypocrisy, runs out of the house and decides to hide at Brian Krakow's for a while in order to maintain the illusion that she went to the concert. Unfortunately, Graham sees her, and takes it badly. At school the next day, Angela, understanding what the tickets meant, starts to apologize to Rayanne. But it's unnecessary, as Rayanne went with Amber and got a ticket from a wounded veteran with a hot upper bod. Prodded on both ends by Patty, Graham and Angela reconcile over gutter repair.

LW1, watch this episode and decide which Angela you want to be.

L4: Going in chronological order, we have a gift of money from an unexpected source that the recipient is not sure about keeping - Episode #10, Other People's Mothers. After an unpleasant visit to the Chase's during which Patty sees Rickie holding Rayanne's open beer bottle, Angela goes to Rayanne's and finally meets Amber, who makes a most favourable impression on her and lends her a deck of Tarot cards. At home, we meet Patty's mother Vivian, who keeps rearranging the candlesticks while debating the wisdom of holding her anniversary party at a fondue restaurant. Instead, Vivian simply decides to have the party there. Graham, who enjoyed his mother's company, stays holed up in the bedroom until Vivian calls up that she'll be in the ki-tchen poking arou-ound. When Angela calls home to see if she can stay at Rayanne's, Patty jumps at the chance to go pick her up. We see Patty's best Fake Smile as she meets Amber and makes polite replies to Amber's emotional pronouncements about adoption (Angela having tried to explain her mother by revealing that Patty had been adopted and had abandonment issues).

Rayanne, who has received $270 from her father, isn't sure she wants to keep the money. Rickie tells her she needs new makeup and could use some CDs, but Rayanne, who is acting up a bit as her conflicted feelings about her father are likely nearing the surface, decides in a manic moment to have a party, at which everyone will experience an "infininity" of happiness. Of course, both parties are planned for the same evening. Vivian buys a turkey and sticks it into the refirgerator over Patty's protests that Graham is very emotional about food. Later, in Bess Armstrong's favourite scene, Graham is looking mournfully at the turkey and wondering how anyone could just put such a thing in someone else's refrigerator, Patty asks him please to close the refrigerator door, he does, and then a second later opens the door and resumes staring mournfully at the turkey.

Angela, once Patty refuses to let her attend Rayanne's party, is a turncoat. Resenting that Patty wants her to move furniture and clean behind it, she cheerfully does it for Rayanne, and makes brightly coloured streamers that delight Amber in contrast to the pale and sober decorations for the anniversary party. Amber appears to be the sort of parent every teenager would want. She knows there will be some drinking, but is counting on Rayanne to keep things in line (she'll be at work).

Vivian shows up for the anniversary party alone - Chuck decided not to come to his own anniversary party, and she's pleased about that because she can never enjoy herself when he's there. As the guests arrive and Vivian torments Danielle, Patty realizes that Angela has been hiding in her room. Angela, resplendent in tie-dye, appears to say she's going to Rayanne's for a little while. Patty is in no mood to have this, but the last straw is Vivian's backing Angela up. Vivian also alienates Graham (already upset because he cooked the chicken without the skin for Chuck's sake) by trying to add oregano to his curry sauce.

At Rayanne's there's a huge crowd, way too much drinking, and Rayanne has taken Ecstacy. Angela finds Rickie and they realize that Rayanne isn't in great shape when Amber returns from work. She clears the place at once, and appears for a brief, shining moment as a possible Supermom. But no. Having only ten minutes to get ready for her date with Rusty, she removes her lab coat, sprays cologne in the air and walks through it in lieu of bathing, and doesn't see that Rayanne is seriously unwell, simply telling her that the place had better be cleaned up and that Rayanne is way too drunk. After Amber leaves, Rickie realizes that Rayanne is in serious trouble and Anglea immediately phones Patty for help.

Patty gets right over, knows exactly what to do, keeps Rickie from becoming hysterical, and soon they are all at the hospital. When Rickie chokes up asking about trying to protect people, Patty realizes that it wasn't his beer that day, which begins her appreciation of Rickie. Rayanne will be all right, Amber shows at the hospital in hysterics, and Patty invites Rickie to a really dull party. Back at home, Patty sends Rickie in first, then explains to Angela that she'd had a friend a lot like Rayanne, only her friend had died in a similar incident. She sends Angela in next, collects herself for a moment, and then returns to the party, where Rickie is getting on famously with Vivian and praising the turkey as Angela compares the party and the people there to various cards in the Major Arcana.

LW4, examine the way Rayanne treats the money, which she carries around in small denominations, crinkling it up like dead leaves and handing out to people like Sharon.

L2: There were multiple choices for this one, and the episode applied to any of the other letters could have done well. But, as what we have is a case of a LW emulating her mother, I shall go with Episode #14, On the Wagon. Even though Angela and Jordan Catalano have broken up since she didn't go through with having sex with him, they are spending a lot of time together. Rayanne isn't happy about not seeing much of Angela. When Angela tells her to stop by after school and doesn't show up herself, Rayanne has an awkward meeting with Patty, who she hasn't seen since Patty saved her life. Rayanne says she's been 30 days sober. Patty invites her to stay for dinner, but Rayanne, upset about Angela not showing up, says she promised to go home for dinner with Amber.

Back at home, Rayanne decides she's made a mistake. Amber seems surprised that Rayanne would want to eat dinner, an actual meal, like every other American on the planet. As we have already learned that Amber lives on appetizers and desserts, she goes through an unimpressively paltry selection of choices before Rayanne snaps. Amber drags it out of her that Rayanne is seeing too little of Angela because Angela's always with Jordan, and just pushes Rayanne to hang out with the pair of them then, then finds leftover Chinese.

Angela hopes that the important thing Jordan has to tell her is that he wants to reconcile, but instead he wants to kill Tino, who quit their band, Frozen Embryos. Worse, as the name was Tino's idea, Jordan isn't sure they can call themselves that. Rayanne twists Angela's arm to get Angela to suggest to Jordan that the group should let Rayanne sing. Angela mentions this reluctantly. Jordan doesn't like the idea, but Rayanne comes on to the group's drummer, and she's in. She's at least as good as Tino; even Sharon has heard her and been not unimpressed. But rehearsals aren't going all that well, and the group is set to perform at an open mike night way before they're ready. Jordan just tells Rayanne to wear something tight. Angela mentions it to Graham and Patty in such a way that makes it clear she's decided not to go but wants their imprimatur on the decision.

Rayanne has a variety of mood shifts before the performance. At the Chase's she pretends to panic and pours out a glass of liquor but is just teasing Angela and pours it back. Patty finds the glass later and is convinced Rayanne is drinking again. At home getting dressed, Rayanne and Amber sing a bit and get psyched up. At the crucial moment, though, she freezes, can't sing, and runs away from a scared Rickie. Meanwhile, Patty and Graham are deciding that Patty couldn't possibly call Amber and imply that Amber might not be being the best mother.

The next morning, Patty calls Amber. Amber is as sure that Rayanne isn't drinking as, she says, Patty is that Angela isn't having sex with Jordan. In the end, Patty goes to Amber's door only to find that Rayanne went right home and ate cookie dough with Amber all night. Amber tries to make amends with Patty and offers to let Rayanne stay home from school, but Rayanne wants to apologize to Rickie. Patty gives her a ride, and tells Rayanne to call her Patty; Rayanne thanks Patty for the ride and saving her life. Rickie eventually forgives Rayanne, but impresses on her that he was picking out what to wear to her funeral, and that if she does that to him again he will probably kill her.

The episode ends with Rayanne, Rickie and Angela waiting in line to see a film. Discussing attractive men, Rayanne reveals that she rather liked the character Luis from Sesame Street, then belts out a rendition of the theme song that gets the line cheering. Then, almost tragically because it actually seems to be a really good moment, someone offers Rayanne a drink and she just takes it as Angela's face falls.

LW2, study closely Rayanne's interactions with Amber.

L3: While it was tempting to pick Episode #3, Guns and Gossip, which involved pressure from the principal on Brian, the theme of wanting to snitch seems better suited to Episode #17, Betrayal. With Rickie now in Drama Club and staying with Mr Katimsky and his lover, Rayanne has been convinced to audition for Our Town. Meanwhile, Angela has had an erotic dream about Corey Helfrick (Rickie's crush and the catalyst for much of the damage done involving the World Happiness Dance in Life of Brian), even though she isn't quite as over Jordan Catalano as she thinks. Meanwhile, Brian agrees to Sharon's request to get video footage of students as part of yearbook, though he's really just trying to reingratiate himself with his jilted WHD date Delia Fisher.

At tryouts, Rayanne reveals that she's studied how Angela cries, and is a bit intimidated by the performance of Abyssinia Churchill. In the meantime, Patty and Camille are organizing what to give to a clothing drive when Hallie Lowenthal shows up, having forgotten where she was supposed to meet Graham about the restaurant they're going to start. After Hallie leaves, Camille expresses a bit of suspicion about whether Hallie is after Graham or not (Graham hasn't mentioned yet to Patty that Hallie's fiance Brad dumped her). Patty expresses great appreciation for Camille.

That evening, Brian tries to get video footage of students hanging out. Rayanne is drinking because she thinks she didn't get the lead in Our Town. Jordan is drinking because he didn't like seeing Angela flirting with Corey. One thing leads to another, and Brian gets it all on tape.

The next day, Brian waffles about what's on the tape and tells Sharon what happens. Sharon then goes on ton have a lengthy conversation with Delia in the girls' bathroom, during which Delia is unable to get a word in edgeways, about how she never trusted Rayanne but doesn't want to say anything to Angela because it would destroy Angela if she found out - and Angela overhears the tail end of the conversation. Angela thinks at first that Sharon's just being jealous again, but eventually confronts Brian and realizes it was true. Angela tells Rickie that two can play at that game.

Rayanne gets the lead in the play and the cold shoulder from Angela. After school, Angela shows up for scene painting dressed in Rayanne's general style, asks Corey if he has anything to drink and tries to kiss him. Later, Angela realizes she's gone too far when Rickie, scoring one for the home team, asks Angela how she thinks he felt seeing her go after Corey. Angela, to her credit, wakes up at once.

Rayanne goes to the Chases' and confesses to Patty. She feels terribly contrite. When she leaves, she supposes that Patty hates her now, to which Patty replies slowly that she doesn't hate her. When Graham returns and rants about Hallie (one of Camille's Bad Signs), Patty tells him that the reason Angela isn't speaking to rayanne is that she slept with Jordan. Graham calls that low, and is in the middle of a rhetorical question about what sort of person would do such a thing when Patty sits down in a hunched position and raises her hand. It was in college. Camille really liked this guy and they'd dated a couple of times. Patty had just been dumped, and was sure Camille wouldn't find out. Alas a snitch who knew them both spilled the beans, but Camille somehow found it in her heart to forgive her, and Patty has always been grateful for that.

LW3, study closely Angela's and Rayanne's reactions to Sharon's revealing the truth.

Moral:  "You have to forgive Angela. She's the product of a two-parent family!"

Thursday, December 22, 2011

12/22 - La La LA La La

As these letters are so ridiculous, I shall content myself with thinking of episodes of Daria which they most call to mind.

L4: As the worst of LW4 comes out in relation to simple interaction with her family, I thought of Lane Miserables, the one episode in which we see all of Jane's and Trent's older siblings. It begins with Jane, Trent and their mother Amanda debating the nature of a red stain in the empty refrigerator when suddenly people start arriving. Penny's business in South America was lost in a volcano eruption and she brings her parrot. Wind's wife has kicked him out and wants a divorce. And dad Vincent returns home from his latest photography junket.

When Wind starts watching marriage counseling programmes on her television, Jane relocates to the Morgendorffers', where Helen and Jake pump her for personal information about Daria. Summer's children Courtney and Adrian run away from home and come to stay, and the chaos drives Trent out as well. He plans to stay in his band's van, but shows up looking for Jane at the Morgendorffers and is taken in also.

Trent and Daria have a conversation comparing Huckleberry Finn to Huckleberry Hound, and Quinn tries to show Daria how to visualize what she wants the future to be like. When all Daria can imagine is a dead-end low paying job with Trent balding and beer-bellied but as layabout as ever, Jane asks her if she's all right, and Daria says she thinks she just got over something.

As Amanda's zen is tested, Summer arrives to collect her kids, but decides to stay a couple of days. Trent, who spent four hours breaking up with Monique and didn't make curfew, tries to explain to Helen and Jake how the Lanes never had house rules, but is grounded anyway. When Amanda arrives and is surprised to find her children have been staying there, she starts explaining to Helen why she doesn't believe in grounding, but finally loses her serene manner and begs Helen to help her get her house back.

On Helen's advice, Amanda institutes a Family Dinner. In no time flat, the younger generations are all at each others' throats, as Amanda declares, "I have such interesting and articulate children! And grandchildren!" The prospect of continued life en famille drives the visitors back from whence they cam, allowing Jane and Trent to return home, Just at the end, when Daria consoles him over his breakup, Trent agrees that he and Monique aren't meant to be, and it's too bad Daria isn't a little older, as he could take her out. As he goes, Daria gets a flash of a vision of herself in evening dress with a well-coiffed, suited, rich and successful Trent telling her what an inspiration she's always been - and curses to realize that she's not as over that little something as she thought.

L3: As we are dealing with coming to terms with the apparently inconsistent spiritual beleifs of relatives, this one is easy - Groped By an Angel. Quinn has recently been taking an interest in Chicken Soup-level spirituality. Daria points out the inconsistencies in the Guardian Angel stories that Quinn likes best. However, Helen takes Quinn's side and astounds Daria by suggesting that Quinn's interest in spirituality must have come from herself. When Daria wonders how helping major corporations get away with unethical behaviour could be considered spiritual, Helen jumps on the word helping.

After the chandelier Jake installed incorrectly in the kitchen crashes just after Quinn rose from the seat beneath it, Quinn attributes that to her own Guardian Angel. She proceeds to give her GA credit for such things as Mr DeMartino changing his mind about calling on her in class. Even when Jake ruins her pants when some black tape gets into the laundry, he gives her more money than she needs for a new pair. Eventually Sandi evokes her own Guardian Angel (out of jealousy), to which Quinn responds with genuine enthusiasm, but Sandi's GA, who (with remarkable consistency) told her to have the raspberry vinaigrette salad dressing at lunch, didn't know that it had gone bad and would make Sandi, Stacy and Tiffany sick. And of course something - or someone - told Quinn not to have that dressing.

Meanwhile, Brittany has been improving her grades. She now has a C-minus average. To celebrate, her father is throwing her a party with a band (Mystik Spiral) and everyone's invited - even the unpopular people. Brittany's father proudly shows off to her young stepmother Ashley Amber the near-crystal bullhorn he ordered with a "C" on it without any minus because he figured she deserved an upgrade.

Joey, Jeffy and Jamie are alarmed by Quinn's tales of her GA. They eventually figure out that it's some old dude who follows her around everywhere - even in the shower. That pervert! At the party, they think Mr O'Neil might be Quinn's GA and try to take it outside. Upchuck meets Ashley Amber and is intrigued by the idea of an Older Woman, but she drifts away and tells Jane that the party is for Brittany because she's become an honour student.

Meanwhile, things go from bad to worse for Quinn. She spills her soda on her new pants and Sandi mockingly hopes that nobody will think she had an accident. Trying to rub out the stain, she leans on Mystik Spiral's mixing board and accidentally causes the glass bullhorn to smash. She runs out of the party in tears.

Back at home after the party, Quinn is still inconsolable at the thought that her GA has deserted her. Daria, astonishingly, caves. She suggests that maybe the GA had better things to watch out for than a pair of pants and a useless, overpriced glass ornament. Eventually, Quinn resolves that maybe she can handle all the little things herself without her GA's help, while knowing that he'll be around for the big stuff when she really needs him. Helen then gives Daria great credit for putting aside her own strong beliefs to be sympathetic to the beliefs of others.

L2: A toxic sibling suggest Aunt Nauseam - sort of a continuation of I Don't, but with a more upbeat conclusion. Helen is on the phone with her sister Rita, much to Jake's dismay. Jake relays to the just-arrived Daria that her cousin Erin is getting a divorce. Quinn is annoyed that she wore that bridesmaid's dress for nothing at the wedding. As Rita was always Mother's Favourite, her relationship with Helen has always been rocky. Helen explains that she doesn't handle divorces, but there's an associate in her firm who'd be perfect. But the insinuation that Mother would take Helen's passing off the divorce to a mere associate badly, along with Rita's assurance that it will be the simplest divorce in the world, convince Helen to agree to handle it herself.

Helen tries to prepare Quinn and Daria for Erin's arrival. Jake leaves off recipes from his Civil War Cookbook and prepares a pitcher of Martinis. The doorbell rings, and it's Rita, not Erin. Rita's apartment is being repainted, so she decided to come with Erin, only then Mother decided that Erin needed cheering up and sent her to Gstaad. This does nothing to improve Helen's mood. Jake drinks the whole pitcher of Martinis in a gulp. Presently, he tells Daria he can't take the fighting, and decamps, after arranging a code to tell him when it will be safe to return.

When Helen and Rita finally start to get something accomplished, Erin calls from Gstaad and speaks to Quinn, who commisserates with her about breakups. To keep things from going too smoothly, Quinn passes on a message from Erin, that she signed a prenup which will basically negate everything Helen's done and make the divorce one of the complicated kind that really ought to be handled by a specialist.

Quinn acts unlike herself, even suggesting to Daria at one point that they watch Gone With the Wind together. Tom is there for Daria, but she isn't up to more than the occasional pizza. With helen and Rita still at each other's throats, Daria calls in reinforcements in the form of her Aunt Amy, whose role in the Barksdale girlhood had been to hide in her room reading.

Before Amy arrives, Erin calls again. Brian has flown out to meet her in Gstaad, and the divorce is off. Rita and Helen try to reconcile by baking cookies, only to be fighting again by the time Amy gets there. Amy supports one and then the other, and is quickly sucked into the Same Old Fight as Always. Then Daria and Quinn finally establish peace by interrupting to reenact what they all were sounding like. But Amy's visit is not wasted; she at least explains to Daria that Tom wasn't butting in but was offering her his time. Daria explains this to Tom, who, being used to his family pretending problems don't exist, is fascinated, and only spooked when Daria can't go out with him that evening because she's going to watch Gone With the Wind with Quinn after all.

After the film, Quinn asks if they'll be having the same fight for the next thirty years. Daria replies that they'll use weapons. This dismays Quinn until Daria explains that her only weapon will be her winning personality and Quinn's will be her merciless silent treatment. Quinn starts to say she doesn't have... gets the point, and agrees to the deal. Jake forgets his code and isn't sure it's safe to come home.

L1: A LW completely stuck in childhood traditions? Camp Fear. Daria and Quinn are invited to the five-year reunion of the group with whom they were at Camp Grizzly. Quinn is thrilled. Daria has no intention of going until Helen tells her that, if she doesn't go, they could use her help cleaning the garage. Daria goes.

The sisters are transported by Trent and Jane. Trent is looking for inspiration, as Mystik Spiral is in a bit of a funk. Jane thinks they just all get on each other's nerves. Quinn, after talking non-stop, immediately on arrival meets up with her old friends Cindy, Tracy and Tatiana, who are exactly like the Fashion Club. Daria is immediately accosted by Amelia, who is so glad Daria came that Trent and Jane tease Daria about being popular before the self-proclaimed embodiment of camp spirit, Skip, shows up and Jane and Trent depart.

While Daria and Quinn are at camp, Trent and Jane get sucked into spending time with a couple who run a country store and ask them to try their experimental new potato chips that turn out to have no taste. This delights the couple, as they were making tasteless chips so that they wouldn't fight the dip.

Jake and Helen, meanwhile, clean out the garage. Jake gets depressed when he keeps finding vacation gear for trips they never took because Helen had to work. Finally he stumbles on some lingerie. Helen explains that that was for a surprise Valentine getaway she had planned one year, only then Jake had had a conference. As usual, one thing leads to another.

While Quinn and her friends relive how they never went on hikes and how much Quinn loved the game with the greasy watermelon when she and her friends would resist Skip's attempt to get them to chase after it, and would just wait to see who would bring them watermelon - Billy, Bobby or Benjy, Daria just tries to be alone. Unfortunately, Amelia sticks to her like glue. She turns Daria's statements about being an individual in the face of Skip's bullying people into group activities into a We. Hint after hint gets Daria nowhere. Finally she makes her point as bluntly as she needs to to get Amelia to go away.

Quinn was going to ride back after the reunion with Cindy, Tracy and Tatiana, but Cindy finds out that Quinn skipped out on the big campfire five years ago with Cindy's date, and tells Quinn to find another ride back. Meanwhile, at a big gathering, Mr Potts makes a short speech. Skip then is about to start spreading his annoying camp spirit when Amelia grabs the microphone from him. She gripes about how Skip had been bossing everyone around, and everybody had let him in order not to stand out from the group. But she won't take it any more, because of what one person told her about standing up for herself and being an individual - Daria. And somewhat to Daria's surprise, almost everyone in camp immediately joins in the overthrow while Skip blubbers to Mr Potts to make them stop and Mr Potts tells Skip not to make a summer camp his whole life.

When Jane and Trent arrive to pick Daria up, another girl is just telling Daria she'd never known Daria was so cool all along. Jane gets Daria's goat by asking if she can wear her Miss Camp Grizzly sash when they get home. On the way back, Trent makes up a song about the lame potato chips and Mystik Spiral has its inspiration back. Quinn in the meantime has been reduced to taking a ride home from Skip, trying to silence Skip's incessant rant.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

12/15 - The Earthquake You Just Heard


No further comment required to the Prudecutor this week.

L4: Why on earth is LW4 asking if this is normal? Who cares? It is certainly the sort of thing that anyone tolerably well-read would have come across in fiction ere now. Recall The Hours. Not only does Clarissa keep remembering her summer spent with Richard and Louis at Wellfleet during which Richard began his tentative and ultimately failing experiment with Clarissa while Louis spent most of the summer having domestic accidents in reaction, Louis, back in New York for longer than he admits, tells Clarissa during his call at her flat of the last time he went out to see the house, which had been a property of his family's. There are also plenty of returns in Christie; the first that springs to mind is making Overcliff the setting of the denoument of Elephants Can Remember. And there is always the return to Styles for the poignant Curtain. These are just examples that spring into mind in the first fifteen seconds. Do we really need an hour's list?

As LW4 is almost certainly decidedly ill-read, then I'll say not to write to letter in question until it can express the sentiments proper to the situation, something which a bit of reading might assist.

As for the other letters, they all run on a common theme - seven letters, starts with D, common occurrence in daily life (this is not that hard)...

L3: LW3 is Charmian Nicholls, another old school friend to She Who Must Be Obeyed, but of a rather more august character than Dodo MacIntosh. From the moment of being first beheld, La Nicholls exuded an air of equine superiourity. The sense of awe which she had caused to stir in the breast of the young Hilda Wystan had remained dormant during the entire course of She's subsequent marriage. Recently bereaved after the death of her husband Charlie in Guildford, Charmian had dispatched to Hilda an imperious written command to deprive dear old dowdy Dodo of her usual Christmas visit and proceeded to install herself at Froxbury Mansions. There she imagined herself to be in the company of men named Harold or Howard, all the while bemoaning the toil-worn state of Hilda's hands and insisting that what Hilda most needed by way of a Christmas present was a brand new Crock-a-Gleem dishwasher. The curious ability of the odious Charmian to make her hosts want to impress her on her own appalling terms was a major determining factor in the uncharacteristic acceptance of the brief for the Fabians when they launched a private prosecution of Christopher Jago.

I advise LW3 to divorce her husband at once. If this marriage were going to work, he clearly would have converted before the wedding, and she would only have had to pollute herself in accepting the company of those members of his family who had had the good sense to convert along with him.

L2: LW2 is the annoying wife in Yes, Dear who continually insists on providing her husband not with presents that he might actually want or goes about openly saying he wants for months before the event but instead with New Experiences that He Would Never Have Sought For Himself. Bleah. But some people don't mind that sort of thing. Where LW2 crosses the line is in insisting that her husband demonstrate the same obsession. While LW2 has not yet crossed the line, she is headed in the distinct direction of turning out to be just like Veruca Salt. Or, if I am going to wish one LW to be childless, it will be LW2, who would probably turn in a Tiger Mother-worthy performance when declaring a child's birthday card useless and garbage for not being perfectly drawn and coloured.

I advise an immediate divorce, as clearly LW2 is the sort of person who will never be satisfied.

L1: I am convinced that people will completely miss the point on this one. LW1 is WAY too late making this decision. Now is not the time. The time to work on the issue was the instant LW1 realized that this could be Serious Husband Material. Could SHM get along with Cat?

This is the Linnet Doyle Lesson all over again in a slightly different guise. Linnet met Simon and felt an impulse to steal him from her dear friend Jackie. And, as Poirot later deduced, she ended up feeling a sense of guilt because the initiative for the breakup and realignment came from Linnet herself. She had everything life could offer while Jackie's life was bound up in one person. And, though Linnet knew this, she did not stay her hand at the psychological moment. And LW1 could easily, once falling in love with SHM became a feasible proposition, have determined then whether there would be any problem about coexisting with the cat.

I advise an immediate divorce - for the cat, who deserves better.

Moral: "I have often thought that if the Son of Man had known what he was starting he would have chosen to be born on a quiet summer's day when everyone was off on holiday on what the Timson family always refers to as the Costa del Crime."

Thursday, December 8, 2011

12/8 - Is It January Yet?

And here I thought the Prudecutor was a bit off on Monday. Why does she assume:

* the Quitting Father loved his non-son all his life

* that Australian transfer and his BF haven't already boinked?

* that Nosy-14-year-old's Daddy is necessarily not part of the problem (and why does she let the poster late in the chat get away with suggesting that it might just possibly be the case that he isn't)

* the betrayed former friend necessarily wants to consider the LW dead (not that there's an easy fix)?

Then we have today. One is tempted to assume excessive consumption of eggnog.

L1: I rather wish this letter had been sent during Homocentric August, which would have given shape and substance to it. But the nearly-total lack of detail provided is potentially refreshing. It reminds me of The Herb of Death, in which Dolly Bantry, when her turn comes to tell the story of a mystery during her dinner party, claims that she can't tell a story properly. She simply relates that, when she and Arthur were part of a house party, some foxglove leaves were gathered as sage and served at dinner, with the result that a girl died. When pressed that there must be more to the story, Dolly simply answers that of course there was more, but, if she told them, they'd know what it was. It remained for the story to be pieced together through a few rounds of Twenty Quesntions.

Even though there is surprisingly limited scope to what one could conceivably tell LW1 to do, I am quite irritated by the Prudecutor here. It is not just entirely because of LW1 professing to love the two people in question the best in the world, and what this might mean, which the Prudecutor chooses to ignore. It is more her blithe assumption that LW1 must, of course, want to salvage her relationship with D1, however easily she might be able to write off H1 as a bad egg. Making groundless excuses for one of two adult and presumably equal partners in a horrific action? That is not appropriate for the Prudecution, however entertaining it might be at times when such conduct is required of defending counsel. But this letter does bear out the rule about not asking one's client questions with potentially embarrassing answers. One could present this case however one liked.

L2: It might be wise to separate the in-law from the grandparent portion of the complaint.  H2 is already on shaky ground here for not stepping in if his parents have really been treating LW2 like dirt all these years (instinct suggests a genuine difference of opinion on the issue, left unresolved). As to whether GF2 is a Molestor with a capital M or not, that probably only matters in terms of degree. Unwanted contact is unwanted contact, and it might be particularly important (despite discomfort with gendering here, but society will have a considerably say in the opposite direction) to make it quite clear to a young daughter at as early an age as possible that she has every right to refuse unwanted contact. As society will teach this to her brother perhaps rather in the opposite direction, I can live with a slight extra emphasis to girls about being able to refuse unwanted contact and a slight extra emphasis to boys about being able to accept welcome contact.

I'm going to put this situation about halfway between Cracker and Heathers. In One Day a Lemming Will Fly, a young teen boy is seen at the beginning being chased through the woods. A little later, a woman is being chased through the same woods, but that turns out to be part of a romantic escapade. It happens that the trysting pair happens upon the spot where the boy has been hanged. They quickly leave the scene. The woman eventually phones the police, and stalls for some time about her lover's identity, as they are both Married to Others. DCI Bilborough, whose wife is at nine months and overdue, goes off on the man, screaming at him that, when a child is in trouble, you go to him, not run away. Later, Penhaligon is a bit miffed by his ticking her off about her relationship with Fitz when he's on the phone to his wife or their neighbour every five minutes, only to be informed by Jimmy Beck that Katrina had been pregnant before and lost the baby. As applicable to LW2, be not thou scared off by Imperious In-laws.

LW2 falls somewhere between there and the sad example presented at Heather Chandler's funeral. While this event may be best remembered for Heather Duke's triumph, it concludes with the beginning of the end for Kurt and Ram when one of the two dweebs accidentally steps on Ram's foot. When called out, he responds with a rude gesture, inciting a spot of homophobic retaliation. What LW2 does not want to do (nor does her husband) is to emulate the other dweeb, who can just bring himself to stammer out, "L-l-let him go, Ram," to no particular effect.

L3: The Purdecutor is probably more off base here than anywhere else. She treats SF3's painting as a casual hobby when it is in this case much closer to if not actually a profession, even if SF3 does not paint for money. At least the Prudecutor is not a judge. One might well recall the surprise and indignation shown by Mr Injustice Gravestone when, during the examination of the nurse in the case of Regina versus Lady Perdita Derwent, it was revealed that the defendant was sitting topless among the family, and the incompetence of Soapy Sam Ballard in failing to point out that such had been quite customary for a woman in the act of posing for her husband Sir Daniel, highly esteemed in the Royal Academy.

While it might be possible to make a case of some interest concerning whether the no-longer-young-and-lithe might make acceptable models as well, the Prudecutorial suggestion of GFM3's tearfully pursuing her housewifely duties each day feeling despised and rejected as SF3 paints one after another of a series of nubile nudies is quite laughable. Why would a Woman of a Certain Age want to pose for long periods of time, stiffening up her muscles and finding many of her various parts turning blue from cold? It's hardly the most glamourous of pursuits for the middle-aged.

Besdies, for all we know, it might have been GFM3 who suggested the idea in the first place. If GF3 were in the position of being able to use a bit of spare cash, GFM3 might have brought up the potentially awkward idea in the first place. Why not? It might be interesting to know if this is just an expensive hobby for SF3, if he had ever been a professional artist and sold his work, indeed if any pictures of GF3 might have been sold already and thus not been available to be shown to LW3, who really is almost in the position of being better off if he were to dump himself. I shall leave it to my good friend the Submariner to declare whether there is any justification in finding a frontal view more disturbing than a rear view.

It does seem a bit odd that this is a long-term relationship, given how LW3 is reacting. Presumably GF3 has been sitting to SF3 for the duration, and LW3 ought to have known before The Great Revelation that such had been the case. All things considered, I am forced to conclude that this, like the breastfed-5-year-old at the dinner table, is another of those issues that revolves entirely around patriarchal attitudes about the female breast. Accordingly, I punt on the answer and leave any formal declarations to the Submariner, a discerning gentleman of extensive experience and expertise.

L4: Another letter that would have been so well suited to August!

The initial reaction is that the blanket in question must just look severely offputting. Not that this ought to make a difference, perhaps, but I can see why it might. I wish LW4 had been a bit more precise about the nature and particulars of skeeved. It might also be interesting to know why, after LW4 was able to cope without the blanket for so long, he felt it necessary to bring it out again. It might be that it just enhances his life, but it could potentially signal that the relation has rather less of a halcyon quality to it than LW4 might maintain.

It might also be interesting to determine exactly what constitutes sitting with it. The mental image that springs to mind is very Linusian without the thumb-sucking. Now, holding and caressing one's blanket in a Linusian manner is perfectly harmless. One might suggest to any number of people who conduct relationships of various sorts with LW4 that the occasional comfort-taking does not impair LW4's capacity to function in the relationship. But one must make one exception. Most of the relationship LW4 has in life are not predicated upon the other party spontaneously developing and maintaining something that points rigidly at LW4 of its own accord.

It is at this point that I am finally going to gender my response. I propose to the Jury that BF4's objection to the blanket is that it makes him feel like a pederast. I shall disagree here with Mr Keenan, author of Putting on the Ritz. In one of his most Wodehousian scenes, Philip Cavanaugh, songwriter for Elsa Champion, infiltrates the office on her husband's yacht in search of incriminating documents (he finds mainly dominatrix-related porn, which will be highly entertaining but of little value to Peter Champion's enemy). On hearing someone approach, he hides under the expansive desk after discovering that his best friend (and, in this case, rival for the affections of Tommy Parker) Gilbert Selwyn (who'd wormed his way on as a crew member) is already there on a similar mission. The new arrivals are Peter and Elsa's younger sister Kitty. Peter and Kitty then proceed to enact Aphrodite Encountered by a Saucy Shepherd (which Philip has the great presence of mind to record) in a manner that suggests Shakespeare as played by Sir Laurence Olivier opposite Vivian Vance. It then become Kitty's turn to hide under the desk; Elsa arrives. Having sung better than ever during a preview of her upcoming Rainbow Room appearance, Elsa is in high spirits. When she notices Peter's inflamed state, she is encouraged to make romantic advances in baby talk. Peter's choosing to decline her advances in firm adult negatives spells firm trouble in the near future.

But here I will go out on a limb and suggest that a pederastic feeling is potentially more damaging to a same-sex relationship than an opposite-sex one. same-sexers, even those who frequent the company only of their contemporaries, have frequently to cope with unfair comparisons and being called Nasty Names in a way that is not required of those of the straight persuasion, even those who marry teenagers young enough to be their daughters or granddaughters. Now, again, in many concerns, one might just say, So What? But a friend or co-worker is not expected spontaneously to develop and maintain an object that will point rigidly at LW4 without manual assistance. The Prudecutor's response here is even worse than her response to L3, where the advice is just completely wrong. Here she is more reasonable in the end product, but the suggested tone is exactly designed to produce the wrong effect by infantilizing LW4 further.

There ought to be some sort of compromise. I'd hope that BF4 would be capable of seeing LW4, for instance, handle a small portion of the rebarbative blanket detached and carried as a talisman. I'd hope that that might be sufficient for LW4 - always assuming, of course, that the reasons behind the return of the blanket to active duty don't signal serious trouble in the relationship to begin with. Or perhaps the blanket could live in a certain location during particular hours and LW4 be allowed free usage the rest of the time? Or possibly BF4 might conceal his groans in consideration of some reciprocal indulgence?

Moral:  "There is an unwritten law of relationships, a law that all couples, gay or straight, ignore only at their peril:  When one partner requests sexual attention and elects to do so in baby talk, the other partner, if disinclined, must make sure when refusing to employ the same dialect. To decline, as Peter did now, in a straightforward and adult fashion is to add insult to injury and cause the loved one to retaliate by calling for an immediate and exhaustive dissection of the entire relationship with special emphasis on the issues of insensitivity and sexual unresponsiveness."

Thursday, December 1, 2011

12/1 - DP Bachelors

Well, I was just a bit premature in predicting major DP interest at Feministe. Two lengthy threads have emerged from the Monday chat. The first OP looked at the out-calling granddaughter and the breastfed-at-table 5-year-old. I rather gather that, if, as I said to my protege ten years ago, ninety would be the new fifty by the time he reached that age, that five is now the new three. (When I was five, I won the New York Lower Elementary Chess Championship and walked nearly half a mile to and from school unaccompanied as a matter of course, and now a majority of women seems to take it as entirely normal for a five-year-old to go to his mother, say, and I quote one such woman, "Mama, i tirsty," and get a quick zap from the maternal source.) In that thread, one poster wished for a discussion of Cut-off Husband of Formerly Abused Wife, and a new thread was created. Amidst all the proliferation of heat as it exceeded the quantity of light, I did find it interesting to see how quickly many posters jumped at the chance to label and assume about Other People's Marriages. It was not until post #256 that someone pointed out that the LW was not necessarily male, which made me think with enjoyment of the old Fray days. It will be food for thought, though, whether it was a good thing when there were a good many assumptions that will be borne up by almost every marriage one encounters.

On to Thursday, which is not a promising set of questions.

L1: This is a technical question. I almost always punt on technical questions. I'll say that LW1 irritates me. Even with a flimsy amount of justification, her obsession is grating. It might be interesting to know what her mother could say about the constant badgering, especially combined with the reticence observed with her father. And, as for the Prudecutor, what is up with nagging about finances? While financial preparation is all to the good, the case is not so extreme that daring to bring a child into the world in poverty is a capital offense. Oy.

L3: While gaining greater insight is all well and good, LW3, it might help to be certain sure that your affair was hurtful to his wife rather than just assume it. But what sticks out here is a considerable quantity of knowledge and remaining informed about him and his life. What is all that about? All right, you occasionally saw each other, and good for you that you could keep up the way you did. But why seek information about him on line? May be innocent; may be eerie. And what good might come to the wife instead of to yourself I've no clue.

LW3, if you really want to provide some comfort to W3, work out some anonymous way to send her a decent little chunk of money. She'll almost certainly need it. As for your not being able to contact and comfort his wife, just understand that this time It's Not All About You and accept it as better than a great many consequences that might have arisen from the affair.

L4:  Now, here I consider that LW4 gets hoist with, as it were, the Prudecutor's own petard. Who on earth invites the fiance of a close friend to a large holiday party out of looking forward to getting to know him better? That is exactly the sort of moronic drivel the Prudecutor is constantly pulling out of her wig and suggesting that people actually attempt to say with a straight face as if it were an accepted given that society only functions when people tell each other lies that are so blatantly obvious. This one is so obvious that even the Prudecutor picks up on it.

LW4, you clearly have no interest in getting to know your friend's fiance better, or you'd have invited him to a function conducive to the process. Do your friend a favour and dump her as disgustingly as you know how, so that she can be grateful not only to be relieved of the obligation to have to keep declining distasteful invitations all the time, but that she won't regret losing you as a frenemy.

L2: Surprised? Not that L2 has any particular question worth asking or answering, but there is a distinct parallel here. H2 is Walter Pret from Muriel Spark's novel The Bachelors, which concerns a large set of young or youngish or even not-so-young men in London, many of whom find themselves engaged from time to time, but almost none of whom want to get married, even the marriage-obsessed journalist, Matthew Finch. Walter Pret is a sort of enfant terrible. He sits around in bars, crashes parties or overstays his welcome at hostess' homes, rambling on about his invented upper-class and artistic past, cadging "loans" or asking waitresses to cash checks against policy, taking great offence at imagined slights and making out how terribly uncivilized all bachelors are. Despite his snow-white hair, one really has no idea how people put up with him. He has, however, one great advantage. He is unmarried. H2 is not. Think about it.

Moral: "We all pee in sinks and break women's china cups!"