11 Jun 2015

Unruly - Basketball Night in Canada Chapter 4 - Commentary

Laura has an existential crisis and finds a new solution.  Welcome to the commentary for "Cheesecake and English".  Please read the chapter first before continuing.

The basketball game is over.  I realized early that I couldn't do a proper play-by-play narrative while working in the investigation and figure out who is behind the scheme, so the basketball game became the catalyst, not the plot.  The Unrulies are reacting instead of acting, at least at this point.  Not quite what I had in mind for the series, but it will work out.

The conversation that Caitlin and Skye have defines the new problem, now that the immediate issue of the basketball game is done.  Caitlin, of course, blames Verity, then comes up with other possibilities.  Her thinking is that the Academy was set up to fail, giving officials a reason to close the school.  Bad blood between the Academy and St. Dymphna is a given, so if the Unrulies go all out on another school, they'd be seen as the villains.  That's assuming that the target wasn't Simcoe or even another school.

In the library, Laura is having a minor crisis.  English homework is driving her mad.  Give her a chemical equation and she'd have it figured out in a snap.  Poetry is her bane.  Autumn starts a running gag here about Laura and her literacy.  The discussion here prompted some research, though.  Laura's coming into a school late.  She was placed in with girls her age instead of being tested to see where she needs help, in part because Laura's at the Academy for protection instead of education.  Ms Stone, though, won't let a student leave without being fully prepared for what lies beyond high school, so Laura does have to take classes.  Autumn isn't looking that far ahead; she points out the obvious - Laura doesn't have the needed courses for an Ontario high school diploma.  Not graduating leads to no need for English.  Ah, if only.

Caitlin's arrival let me overwhelm her.  All she wants is to tell Laura to go to Neutral Grounds.  Instead, she gets hit with unassailable logic that Laura no longer has to wake up and go to a class she hates.  Caitlin is perfect as a straight man in these bits.  Egos need to be poked at times.

The Mackenzie-Laura relationship continues to develop.  Sure, Mackenzie wrote the poems, but there is a reason why Laura never answered Autumn's question about what she paid for them.  It does bring in questions about romantic relationships the Unrulies have with others.  Usually, it's not a big problem, provided none of the Rules are broken*.  Dating someone from the rival St. Dymphna gets heads turning, which is why no one hears of it.  On the Unruly side, it could be seen as breaking Rule Three, "Always support your sisters," by fraternizing** with the enemy.  On the St. Dymphna, it is a Catholic school; ignoring the homosexual issue***, dating an Unruly is somewhere between a sin and selling one's soul to the Devil.  There's a storyline waiting to happen there.

In the meantime, the budding relationship is good for highlighting how messed up Laura's education is.  Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy and has been the most adapted of his plays.  Romeo and Juliet has become musicals, action movies, animation, and ballets, transplanted in time to be about street gangs and about robots.  Laura has seen two of of the remakes, Romeo Must Die, with Jet Li, and Gnomeo & Juliet, featuring garden gnomes.  Romeo and Juliet is a great way to show that a character hasn't read the original; if the character thinks it's romantic, they haven't read it.  Laura does argue that kids' movies don't involve tragedies, but Gnomeo & Juliet does have its moments.  I've used the gag elsewhere, though not too often in works meant for the public.  The other time I used it here on the blog was for the pre-NaNo work I did for By the Numbers.

Laura's issues with English class are based, in part, on my own.  While I wasn't trying to catch up like she is, I found the class to be repetitive and, ultimately, useless.  I learned more about grammar in French class and learned more about the writing I would do in university in Physics, Chemistry, and Geography.  The assigned books left me cold, with one, A Separate Peace leaving me bored to the point of just not continuing.  I did not care what happened to the characters, nor did I care about my mark.  Turns out, the pace of summer school meant a dull assignment was over in a day, with books covered by the end of the week.  Laura's problem is different, and I do make sure that my problems aren't hers or any other students'.

Tomorrow, the new Unruly episode, Chapter 5, "In on the Fix".
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, the Adaptation Fix-It Shop overhauls Dungeons & Dragons.
Saturday, over at MuseHack, the June news round-up.
Also Saturday, check out Comics Bulletin for comics-related reposts of Lost in Translation.

* Rule One, "Always wear your uniform," can be seen as trying to prevent teenaged sex here.
** Soroitizing?
*** Acceptance of the gay community in an Ontario Catholic school seems to depend on the board and the school staff.  Suffice to say that the students tend to be more accepting than the adults.


  1. Write what you know; I sense your frustration through Laura, even if the content differs. The Romeo issue is a genuine red flag too. Though something hilarious that occurs to me with your link to OSSD requirements: Students need 40 hours of (unpaid, logged) community involvement. While sometimes this can involve events taking place at school (volunteering time making sets for plays, or manning the table at blood drives), usually it's IN the community. I wonder how the Unrulies manage this?

    Returning back to the plot, wow, it's disconcerting when you think that the school board's against you, but the logic does follow. I'm also intrigued by the fact that a randomizer put the two key schools up against each other at the end (I was wondering when they'd meet) - that CANNOT be coincidence. And as a final aside... this part promised cheesecake. Where's the picture of Mackenzie falling into Laura's arms, as she bites her lip seductively? ;)

    1. I am trying to keep my issues with the class separate from Laura's. :) The Laura/Mackenzie relationship has the potential to go the Romeo & Juliet path, including the body count, though they're being far more discreet and Mackenzie isn't coming off a rejection.

      I wonder if herding Jennifers could count as volunteer hours, keeping the young girls from becoming a nuisance in the community. If not, I'll have to figure something out. It'd have to be something where the trust issues the community has with the Unrulies doesn't come up too often.

      IIRC, private schools aren't subject to a school board, though I'd have to verify that. However, in Ottawa, I do know the main two private high schools (Ashbury and Elmdale) participate in the intra-school leagues. The meeting isn't a coincidence, and that, too, will be coming out later, though no timetable for that exists.

      Alas, for the cheesecake portion, I am not that great an artist. I have troubles enough with one character in a pic, let alone two. However, if there's a reader out there with artistic skills...?