9 Jul 2015

Unruly - Basketball Night in Canada Chapter 8 - Commentary

Laura meets a ghost while Caitlin's enmity for her opposition grows.  Welcome to the commentary for "Ginger Bred".  Please read the chapter first before continuing.

The big thing that you might have noticed is that the last chapter was the eighth in the arc/episode.  The previous two ended on Chapter 7.  Basketball Night in Canada kept getting involved the longer it went.  There's more going on in the episode, leading to needing more time to let things develop.  Chapter 8 was also the last past written during NaNoWriMo 2014, just as Mags appeared.  Camp NaNo this past April was when the chapter was finished.  In between, I tried to work out what was going on.

At some point, I will need to show why Laura's in witness protection.  She's a little nervous in public.  I do have plans to get her to her father's trial, just to get that plotline going.  However, seeing that she started to take over even this episode, Laura gets to sit the next one out.  For now, yes, Laura has a reason to overreact.

Autumn's comment about the phone companies is based on the realities of the Canadian ISP market.  In most of Canada, the lines used for data transmission were laid down by either a phone company or a cable company.  Bell had a regulated monopoly, though now Telus and Primus have moved in.  On the cable side, there's Rogers, who bought up a number of local cable companies throughout Canada, Shaw and Vidéotron.  Most of the cell phone providers in the country are subsidiaries of Bell, Rogers, or Telus.  The three don't place nice with each other and are against Net Neutrality  There's a reason why a potential Verizon expansion was eagerly wanted in Canada despite that company's poor rep in the US.

Fawna gets her big debut.  Her sister, Flora, appeared in The New Girl.  Fawna, though, just never had the opportunity to shine.  Good thing Caitlin needed her help, even though she can't be bothered to remember the twin's name.  The labs on the fourth floor are for the more supernaturally inclined students, like Fawna and like Kristie.

Mags was fun to write, once I figured her out.  A Toronto native, she was a student at the Academy long before anyone thought to keep students from blowing themselves up.  Her vocabulary is a little older; she's meant to be from the 20s.  Mags also has a Cockney accent, which didn't come out as well as I'd hoped.  The ghost is from an era where penmanship was precise; Caitlin's handwriting, good for today, doesn't measure up.  And I couldn't help but get one last dig on the Maple Leafs; they were out of contention for the 2015 playoffs by the time Camp NaNo started.  The weekend with Mags will be another arc, either as the main plot or a subplot.  Mags is too much fun to leave alone.

Having Mags or other ghosts and spirits provide information is a potential abuse in storytelling.  I need to make sure that Mags can't just say, "Oh, it's Ms Stone doing all this.  She's really tired of playing three-dimensional chess and figures this would be the best way to keep her pension but get rid of all of you."*  I need the information to be useful without giving everything away.  At least, now, Caitlin has a direction to go in.  The next chapter will show that Mags didn't narrow things down that much.  But, I do know who is behind the plot.

The last bit in the scene with Mags was inspired by the short-lived Gammauraders comic from DC Comics.  The scene had the main characters, Jok and Natasha, discussing her father, including the same bit of wisdom from Hamlet.  Jok's line: "He called you Horatio?"  In the Gammauraders case, there had been an apocalypse** where massive amounts of history and culture were lost.  Laura's just failing English.

The appearance of the girl in the rival uniform ties in the previous arc, The Great Jennifer Round-Up.  The girl had a great plan - catch Caitlin and her roommates breaking into Wheeler's workplace and have them arrested.  She just didn't expect Caitlin to be several steps ahead.  The result, police get called and there's no crime.  Wheeler is on the hook for the misuse of the 911 system and the girl has to figure out where her plan fell apart.  Caitlin deliberately waited those five minutes.

The last scene let me get a few details out that haven't yet but really should.  Could someone else where a uniform from either the Academy or St. Dymphna?  Sure, if they like being a target and feared.  The uniform stands out and girls wearing one will be watched like a hawk.  It's possible for an Academy girl to wear a St. Dymphna uniform, but that breaks Rule One, "Always wear your uniform."  It's safe to assume that most of the girls at the Academy have the one place they'd prefer to never go to, like Autumn and North Korea or Vamsi and Pakistan.  Could a St. Dymphna girl wear an Academy uniform?  Probably, but she'd have to deal with nuns.

The last little bit is more insight on the poor parenting Laura had.  Once again, naming locations came up, my own minor nemesis.  I needed something to show the level of class, or lack thereof, for the gentlemen's club Laura had visited.  I did check on the types of names used in Toronto, then went for something else.  The name, "The Carpet and Drapes", is the result.  I almost went with "The Collar and Cuffs" after hearing the phrase in Diamonds Are Forever, but that would be an entirely different type of club altogether.  The full phrases mean the same thing, just a matter of local preference.

Tomorrow, the new Unruly episode, Chapter 9, "I'll See Your Bluff".
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, the history of adaptations continues with the Seventies.
Saturday, over at MuseHack, the July news round-up about adaptations and remakes.
Also Saturday, check out Comics Bulletin for comics-related reposts of Lost in Translation.

* This may or may not be true.
** An apocalypse that led to secret societies and giant mutant animals being used for battle.  It might make sense in context.  Maybe.


  1. I didn't pick up on the Chapter extension; mostly a reflection on my tendency to fall behind and binge. Though we're not really in basketball game territory any more - I wonder if the arc could be split? Granted, the game may yet return. I did wonder if this episode marked the NaNo break, but that was more because of the callbacks. The Leafs returned, as did magic, as did Flora/Fawna... I wondered if it was a re-read that sparked inspiration. Seems I was wrong on that.

    The fourth floor being more for magic helps to explain some of Caitlin and Co's aversion - it's not something they feel is predictable. Mags was amusing, and I liked her arguing about the rule numbers. On the flip side, the information did feel a bit too vague, and if I were Fawna, I might be a bit ticked. Particularly given that questions seemed to have a price, and there were a lot of them.

    I don't get why Caitlin waited five minutes. Also, she remarks "his car is still there", but turns out it's not his car, so if she'd arrived later, would she have thought he wasn't home? Having the daughter behind things was a nice twist, but the dialogue confused me. I'm also not entirely clear on the chapter title. It's a nice pun, and Caitlin hates the nickname, but what was 'bred'? (Her Irish heritage?)

    In terms of where we're going, there's two threads. The one with Caitlin, and Laura's english. The fact that the latter is keeping Laura out of the game feels significant. Even Caitlin herself seems to want to keep Laura as a pocket ace (part of me wonders if sending her back was an excuse - why couldn't Mags wait?). As to the english itself, the Leafs feels significant, mainly because it's extended beyond idle chatter to Vamsi, and now Mags. My prediction is that Laura will be able to write a great English paper using the Leafs as inspiration - she understands them more than she understands Shakespeare.

    1. Fawna came back before the break; the Leafs after. The intro of Mags was the break point, once I figured out where that was going. The Leafs were mathematically eliminated from playoffs shortly before Camp NaNo started, so were an easy target. Poor Laura.

      The fourth floor was meant to be the magic labs from their first appearance. It's the same floor Kristie took Laura to during the Jennifer round-up. This time, the magic is explicit. The info is vague, but I need to make sure magic isn't a instant solution. And, it's something to give Caitlin some added issues.

      Caitlin waited the five minutes because the girl told her father to wait that long before calling. She was making sure that she and her roommates wouldn't be spotted before Wheeler and the girl got into trouble for abusing the 911 system. Caitlin really doesn't like being called "Ginger". The pun was the point of the title; the 'bred' part is that she's a natural redhead via her Irish heritage.

      Laura's thread was unintended, but the plot thread just kept dangling. Hadn't thought of Laura writing about the Leafs, but it's a great idea. :D Caitlin is weighing Laura's inexperience with having a fourth body for her schemes. The letter for Fawna is a contingency for when things seem more dire than normal.