AAR 89: An Abrupt End: 2:211-215

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AAR 89: An Abrupt End: 2:211-215

Postby jeffk on Thu Feb 10, 2005 10:32 pm

Next: AAR Week 90
Prev: AAR Week 88

[Edit: Added Next link]

Um... Ceilidh...

.1: Talk about a loaded question. Even by itself, that's a loaded question. And when it's asked by your best friend, who happens to be female....and you just agreed (against your better judgement) to "go steady" with her...and you're now alone in her bedroom...and you turn your back for a minute, and suddenly she's down to panties...

And Joe (and we) still can't see Ceilidh's face, so there's absolutely no cues as to her thought processes now.

Gotta love Joe's answer, especially given he has no idea what's going on in Ceilidh's head. "Er... Not...as such, no..."

.2: Finally we see her face.

And if this wasn't Avalon and/or Ceilidh, I'd be tempted to add something crude, like "...and that's not all we see."

But I'm not saying that, and I'm not even "hinting" that for cheap laughs and PSL, because Ceilidh's showing a lot more than just skin. Gone is the feisty Scottish warrior lass. Gone is the master schemer and Secret Agent Girl responsible for Operation Cheer-Up-Phoebe. Last week, we caught a glimpse of the insecure girl who still carries her Grade Nine School Photo From Hell in her purse and her self-image. That girl is back, in full force.

Notice how she's speaking in the past tense. "I've never really had...I was never...I didn't..."

.3: In mid-frame, she switches from past tense to present tense. She knows, logically speaking, that the Bad Old Days are behind her. But her illogical fears are whupping the tar out of her logical knowledge. She's afraid of falling back into that pit again, she wants a sign that she's got someone...and this is the clearest sign she knows.

As an aside, compare Ceilidh's search for intimacy--and in her case, the word "intimacy" is particularly appropriate--with Deirdre. Ceilidh isn't into sex because her hormones are in overdrive (I don't think); she seeks sex as proof that she's good enough for someone. OTOH, Deeds' hormones are obviously in working order...but more importantly, those hormones kicked in as soon as she realized Ryan was good enough.

AFAIK, Josh never told us if this was--to re-quote the Miles Vorkosigan quote from last week's posts--"the rapid exploitation of a belatedly recognized opportunity" or "deep-laid planning." And for Ceilidh's sake, I'm ignoring the innuendo potential of "deep-laid planning." :roll:

Was this all an accident? Did Joe turn around before Ceilidh expected it? Well, maybe Ceilidh didn't realize what she'd done until she realized that Joe had turned around. And maybe she did decide on the spur of the moment that this may be her only chance to make darn certain she'd never be alone like Phoebe. But even so, I wouldn't expect her to swiftly shift gears without being momentarily startled, and we saw no such thing.

So I'm running with the premise that Ceilidh expected Joe to see her naked. Either she planned something all along, or she recognized the opportunity somewhere between Tim Horton's and her house. Or maybe she really hadn't planned it at all, but realized what was happening just before Joe looked up from his towel.

What did she plan, and when did she plan it?

Lots of possible theories tossed around in the forum, and I'm not quite sure which one I like the best. Here's the theories I've been debating:

  • Repeat to yourself, "It's just a comic, I should really just relax." This, of course, runs completely counter to the spirit of the forum, and so we ignore it. :-)
  • Maybe she planned it all along. There was a lot of talk in the forum about Ceilidh taking advantage of the weather forecast, which really shocked me at first--I just couldn't see Ceilidh as being that forward. But obviously I wasn't paying attention on my first few passes through the archive. None of the point-blank come-ons worked, so maybe she decided to be more subtle. That would explain the lack of "hot and heavy" behavior. And if she knew the rain wouldn't come until that evening and she wouldn't have the house to herself until that evening, it would explain why she planned the Tim Horton's encounter after supper.
  • Or maybe she planned the Tim Horton's encounter all along--and only the Tim Horton's encounter--but rapidly exploited the walk home in the rain. That might also explain the lack of hot and heavy behavior--she simply hadn't planned that part in advance. I'm less satisfied with that explanation, though; after all, she was in a dress, and she was disgusted with Joe's brilliant "you forgot to wear pants" observation.
  • Or maybe she didn't recognize the situation until they were in her room, and she realized what she was doing. That might explain why she wasn't in full seductress mode--she didn't have time to get ready. I'm not sure I like that explanation, either; maybe she did intend on using full seductress mode, but got clobbered by all of her old insecurities when Joe turned around, or when he didn't pounce on her immediately.

.4: Screeeeech!

Whoa, anyone see that coming?


OK, I take back what I said earlier about Joe's brilliant observations. Any boy who can take charge, and call his girlfriend on something like that, while sitting alone with her in her bedroom, while she's practically naked, has far more powerful intellectual capabilities than I've got. So far, he's saying The Right Thing.

So, is Ceilidh going to admire his powerful intellectual capabilities, or is she going to feel even worse because she couldn't derail it by stripping?


.1: Looks like "going to feel even worse" is winning. Uh, oh.

.2: And it sounds like Joe's about to say The Wrong Thing. Double uh, oh.

.3: And Helene's name slipped into the conversation. Probably not a good time for that....

Ceilidh's "going to feel even worse" mode seems to be migrating into "betrayed feisty Scottish warrior lass" mode. Joe had better find The Right Thing to say again, or he's liable to be wearing that wet dress, and not the customary way (think "dirty pool").

.4: Whew. Looks like he found it. He's opening up to her again. Does "once before" mean what we think?


.1: Yep, it does.

Although looking at the frame again, I'm surprised that he's surprised that Ceilidh guessed correctly. I just spent a minute or two concocting the wild theory that at that particular moment, he was really kicking himself for not chasing Helene more aggressively in Grade Nine, and that he ran with the Phoebe suggestion only because (a) he genuinely regretted that too, (b) he still wasn't willing to admit to anyone that he still carried a flame for Helene, and (c) he really didn't want to admit that to Ceilidh, and risk hurting her even worse.

But I think I'm reading too much into Joe's mental lapse, because he said he didn't want to hurt Ceilidh, nor lose what they already had. AFAIK he never had anything with Helene he could have lost, and AFAIK he never hurt Helene. Plus they've changed position--from face to face in 2:208.4, with Joe holding her arms, to side by side in 2:214.1. That tells me that a little more conversation took place off-screen, or--more likely--they both turned away, and were both deep in thought for a few seconds before Ceilidh interrupted Joe's reverie.

.2: Tell her what?

.3: Oh. Told her that.

He was really vague on the details before--even though he did admit he pushed Todd--but now he finally tells Ceilidh the truth about the split.

Although a part of me wonders if Ceilidh would have done anything differently if Joe had confessed that to her earlier. Maybe she would have been compelled to be even bolder--"I'm not Phoebe; I want it too!" :o

.4: Time for Ceilidh to call Joe on his behavior. Looks like maybe, just maybe, the crisis has passed.

2:215: Clash Of The Romantic "First Kiss" Notions: Milestones vs. Something Special.

Ceilidh still wants more from the relationship ("if you really loved me"...ouch).

At the time, Joe's reply seemed to be The Right Thing again. We don't realize this yet, but he left a few critical things unsaid because he still doesn't want to hurt Ceilidh, and he thinks he can still avoid doing that.

GAS: My appreciation for this GAS has grown over time. We've got Sal, we've got Sal-speak, and we've got Walky screwing up Ceilidh's name. But I can't decide on a favorite part--Hooper's introduction, or Ghada's reaction :-)

Forum Dive Time--and there's plenty to dive into. Not as much as I'd expect--looks like the boards went down somewhere around this time--but there's a truckload of excellent posts. Like last week, I'll italicize links to the bigger analysis/speculation threads, and sometimes I'll throw in a few quotes too.

9365: 2:211: Uh, oh. Because Joe just stopped her. Because we're not sure what Joe's going to say next, or how Ceilidh will take it. Because the new chapter title's awfully scary. Especially if it doesn't even apply to Ceilidh and Joe. Favorite quotes:
  • One, Joe, while staring straight into her eyes will tell her to throw something on and meet him downstairs to talk about this while he finds a bucket to soak his head in (fighting all those hormones overclock the brain).
  • Personally I'm hoping its the A-H Not-relationship. *Looks up suddenly as hordes of Helene PSLers start advancing on him* Nonono!
  • Nevertheless, I hope they don't Break Up. It's just too much fun seeing Joe's speech centers melt down every time Ceilidh comes on to him. [Comment from Jeff: See the rest of the post for start of discussion of "the influence of nekkidity".]
  • Poor girl. She has a serious self-esteem problem if she feels having sex will... okay it sounds like she's like many girls in that respect. "If I have sex with him maybe he'll love me." I wonder if our dear sweet little blonde twit has done that yet with Alan. *sigh* And the truly sad thing is... it *can* work out (physical relationships), I mean just look at Deed and Ryan!
  • I've had the same advance made on me, and yes, it's hard to resist in the face of hormones and lust. But the tough decisions are usually the right ones. He's doing the right thing for them both.
9366: Newbie poking.
9367: 2:211: What is Joe going to do next? What should Joe do next? And why can't Ceilidh get past her past? One poster explains why, citing recent Avalonian events. Several other posters explain why, citing painful personal experience.
9368: 2:211: Did Joe do the right thing? Is Ceilidh fragile, vulnerable, manipulative, or a combination thereof? Has Joe managed the near-miraculous feat of talking to a nearly naked woman without looking below her face? Quotes:
  • [About seeing C&J get together, but for the wrong reasons] It's the price we pay for being so fond of the product of such a twisted, twisty mind.
  • Of course, nobody here seems to have realized the next words out of Joe's mouth may be "I don't have any condoms, do you?"
  • I canna search the archives right now. my head is in a REALLY WEIRD PLACE (2pints Guinness + Unbreakable & Usual Suspects back to back + 16x(so far) listening to Gorillaz-Clint Eastwood + 60% of Ceilidh's chest = Trancendental Weirdness) But I know I'm on to something here...
9369: 2:211: Newbie signs on (and takes the pokes) and applauds Josh for his weekend-cliffhanger skills.
9370: 2:211: Can Joe handle the situation without screwing it up, or has Ceilidh managed to put herself (and Joe) in a position where it can't work out? (Or Joe, for that matter, when he thought "no" and said "yes"?)
9371: 2:211: What did happen to Joe and Phoebe's relationship--because that probably has something to do with Joe's reaction? Lots of archive analysis, and lots of speculation, some landing extremely close to the mark. (Josh throws in an archive link, leading to more speculation.) KAH: "The fascinating thing is that each new revelation changes our perception of the characters without completely doubling back on what has already been put forth - they are new ideas in an existing framework rather than throwing a new painting on an old canvas."
9372: Syprus O'vair makes the mistake of posting a desired outcome (and a very nice one, too). After being shown the error of his ways, however, he snaps, but recovers quickly. (Although he forgot to not dream about Deirdre.)
9373: Should we worry about Ceilidh doing something even more rash? (Josh says no, prompting attempts to look for loopholes.) Or should we worry about that everyone on the board is being secretly impersonated by, er, everyone else on the board?
9374: Stig Hemmer admires Josh's eyes. The ones he draws, I mean. Branches into advice on starting your own webcomic.
9375: Taking Tim Horton relationships to the next level...no, that's not what I meant!
9376: Quattro posits that "Avalon is the reason I hated High School"...or at least, the reasons he enjoys Avalon so much are also the reasons he hated high school. "Cause it's happening to someone else and not me :-) " Readers report on their own high school experiences, and it's safe to assume there aren't a lot of Big Men/Women On Campus in this forum. I sure as heck wasn't; my social life was pretty similar to KAH's experience. Quotes (and I'm leaving out the Jergens references, just because):
  • Perhaps part of what makes a comic about highschoolers so good is that we are not here. As in, we don't interact with these people. Every human has a need to interact with others, but if you're an introvert, or outsider, or whatever (as I'm sure 95% of this forum must be) interaction is so much harder.
  • Maybe all that's really holding Ceilidh back is her memories of her old high school and whatever else bothered her in the past and that she hasn't learned to let them all go. She may look happy much of the time, but in her heart, she could be miserable. I remember feeling the same way.
  • in 6th grade I was put into a Gifted and Talented program, the cream of the brainiacs from the school system. I finally fit in, we were ALL weird as hell (imagine a buch of 6th graders fascinated by Monty Python... hoo boy!).

9377: More debate over Joe.
9378: Relevant background music from Neil Young.
9379: On Lynchers and Misery.
9380: 2:211: Who is Ceilidh? LtPowers stops lurking and posts his thoughts on the characters in general, Ceilidh in particular, why 2:210.4 is "the single most erotic shot I've ever seen in a comic", why he wishes the "camera" had panned up, not left as several people begged, and why "[ i]f I were to ever meet Josh Phillips, I don't know if I'd hug him or deck him." (I won't try to paraphrase him here, only because he says it a lot better than I could, and I've tried. Just go read it, already :-) ) Only a one-page topic--astonishingly brief compared to some of the other topics in this time frame--but lots of good insight from LtPowers and the others who respond.
9381: Post-UTARPA reactions.
9382: David Adrian rises up, shotgun in hand, to defend Ceilidh's and Joe's honor and relationship. He calms down as people lend their support, and as earlier posters clarify their descriptions of Ceilidh.
9383: In support of Joe. Josh worries about his reputation for writing reality. The discussion continues once 2:212 comes out (so far, so good...maybe?).
9384: 2:212: Did Joe verbalize what should have been an internal conversation? Or is he on the right track, despite Ceilidh's whimper?
9385: Where should Joe be looking now? Is it possible to hold a lengthy conversation with a topless woman without looking down because too much is at stake? David Adrian says it is, and proves it. (Another post I won't attempt to paraphrase; just read it. Besides, sometimes real life is even twistier than Avalon....)
9386: 2:212: More analysis of Joe's analysis--is this the right time? What does the whimper mean? Can Cecil tell us anything? And would we believe a talking cat?
9387: RJ Shep's tests for cancer come back negative--he's clean. Posters--some with cancer victims in the family, some with cancer survivors--celebrate and support.
9388: 2:212: More whimper analysis. Icy stethoscopes. Proposal for the next panel, AvaPr0n style. (Described, not drawn.) "She looks so sad too. Poor girl needs a hug. Though hopefully after she puts a shirt on first, otherwise it *would* become awkward."
9389: DragonFlare joins the board and the channel. Assorted delusions about getting DD.
9390: Discussion of possible (but now doubtful) C&J PMHP replaced by discussion of possible (and probable) DD&R PMHP. DragonFlare defends his preference for Deirdre. davey3000: "Anyway, regarding Deedee and Ryan, I'm sure the storyline will get back to them soon enough..." Discussion branches into long distance relationships, and the pitfalls therein. DD&R relationships: fact or fantasy? Plots to get Ryan out of the way for various nefarious reasons.
9391: If you're desperately seeking a relationship, maybe you're trying too hard? (And we're not even talking about Ceilidh for a change.) But where's the line between trying too hard, and not even trying?
9392: More admiration of Joe's ability to control his vision. Is this board really that obsessed with breasts? OK, OK, yes, it is...but it's more than that, this time.
9393: Another angle on Joe's efforts--so when the woman complains about her problems, should the man use his 1337 problem solving skillz and try to solve them? Especially if you're an engineer, so you've got four years worth of "1337 problem solving skillz" training? Josh reveals Truth, and several other posters (male and female) confirm and clarify. Trialpha reveals...well, it's Truth too, but I figure most engineers already know this particular Truth :-) "Sigh. I've told you off before about writing my story through Ceilidh so don't start it here too. Why am I getting so cut up about a silly girl who only exists as lines on paper?"
9394: Abrupt End? To what? Did Ceilidh look in Phoebe's yearbook? And who said anything about a naked Phoebe? In response to The 1st Rule of Avalon, Tangent explains the 0th Rule of Avalon.
9395: So what are the odds of Joe tumbling down the staircase?
9396: Rob, er, pans left.
9397: Personal experience on serious conversations with half-naked women. I can't say more without spoiling the punchline; you'll just have to read it yourself.
9398: More speculation that Ceilidh read Phoebe's yearbook, or at least thinks she knows what Joe wrote. Is that why she suddenly turned up the heat?
9399: Should Ceilidh get drunk? Should anyone? (Ack, forget I wrote that. My Parrothead side tried to take over the first sentence w/out my permission.)
9400: How can a couple of comic strips trigger so many personal revelations on the board?
9401: Any secret meaning to the "mmf"?
9402: Is Keenspot down?
9403: Newbie poking.
9404: But what about the other characters? Fool overspeculates slightly.
9405: Josh apologizes for the delay, and attempts to "take it outside" with the gods of engineering.
9406: Er, I'm not sure. Fool's half of some conversation. Did we lose a few posts after a board crash?
9407: Mizu goes mad over Joe's hair. Celebrate the Facial Expressions.
9408: "I lost it once before"? Are we finally about to learn something more about Grade 9? Was it wise to mention other women with Ceilidh in her current state? Tangent suggests...never mind; it's steel-wool-and-bleach time, confound him. And confound Mizu too.
9409: More Keenspot connection problems?
9410: 2:213: More admiration for Facial Expressions.
9411: ...and more admiration for 2:213 in general.
9412: A couple of readers throw in the towel on trying to speculate.
9413: 2:213: Should we be worried that the only time Joe doesn't look Ceilidh in the eye is when he mentions Helene? Or is he simply worried that he's about to pull an Alan?
9414: Beautiful story...any risk of additional twistiness? (Following week, we discover no...well, not at that house, anyway.)
9415: 2:213: Is this the right time for a kiss? Should Ceilidh put a shirt on first? Is this board actually calling for more clothes? Are maturity and PSL mutually exclusive?
9416: Guess the picture, from Caster13. (Link's broken, but I found it at the top of this page from his archive, image 121.)
9417: Josh comments on certain comments from random fu<Obscene Vitriol Sensors At Full Scale Deflection; Emergency Censorship Keyboard Override, Engaged>losers who think Joe must be gay for not jumping Ceilidh's bones on the spot. <And please pardon my computer for protecting me from myself. I remember similar asinine accusations thrown at me because I wasn't out there chasin' babes, and my temper sorta got away from me.> Branches to a discussion of crime, humanity and inhumanity.
9418: C&J aren't going to be interrupted, are they? Are they?
9419: Avalon video?
9420: The Ottawa Citizen journo who wrote about Josh asks for angles on tech-related stories.
9421: 2:213: Why did Joe get distracted by the thought of Helene and Alan? Josh: "Joe would have been put in Alan's place had he hidden his true feelings from Ceilidh (just to keep Ceilidh happy). Joe *did* seem to be distracted by that thought, though..."
9422: What did happen in Helene and Alan's first week? Excessive Helene cuteness, PMHP, or something in between?
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