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Wednesday: No dude in a million

[Keep your eyes on the road, Beef. From Achewood, 6 February 2000.]

(From Achewood. Click to lay waste to the weakest.)

And here we go.

Beef is driving. It's the way of things.

Ray, son of Rodney Leonard Stubbs, glides to fate in the sidecar. The Great Outdoor Fight is his legacy, so he's just going to go there and take it. He feels entitled. It's in his blood. And if he has to game the fight that proves his worth, why not call in a favour? This is his. He should get to it as easily as possible.

The fight is in Ray's blood, not under his nails.

And Beef is driving. Beef knows the Fight. Backwards and forwards. Inside and out, like no dude in a million. So, of course Beef would be Ray's roadie for this; they've been dancing together since old times. And Beef would never fight, of course. Beef isn't like that. It's not in him. He learns a thing, but never is its master.

Roast Beef would drive.

But Beef moves quietly. Stay close to a man so many years, beneath his shadow, and you come to know a thing that you can do. A thing or two. You know what tickets to give him. You know what he needs. There's nothing you can say, but there are things that have to happen.

Besides, you learn a thing inside and out, someday you'll come to join it. You come to love a thing enough, that thing will own you.

Beef is a quiet cat, not so much grown as escaped, and beaten down. Little is due him. Most of the time, even now, he lives in Ray's shadow. In Ray's pool shed. He tucks Ray's pepper into a paper tube and gets them both out of Hell. He comes to the Fight out of love and knowledge, not by rights. Nothing is owed to him.

So, Beef is taking Ray to destiny. Beef is telling Ray how to do this thing. But there will come a time on the third day when all this has to come apart, and Ray does not learn well. Ray forgets the lessons that his shadow hands him.

The son of Rodney Leonard Stubbs is a coward who would desert a dying man.

God only knows if that coward can fight his best friend.

Posted by Wednesday Burns-White at February 6, 2006 10:42 AM


Comment from: Bahimiron posted at February 6, 2006 10:50 AM

Nice beat entry.

So. Am I the only one who hopes Beef, in a blood frenzy, parades Ray's head around on a pike?

It's not that I don't like Ray.

It's just that I feel for Beef!

Then again, I suppose hoping a fellow murders and cannibalizes his best friend isn't really doing much to side with him.

Comment from: siwangmu posted at February 6, 2006 11:12 AM

Okay, this is, I think, the final straw. I am trawling this damn thing, for reals this time. I swear the best thing this series has going for it is the investment it's summoned from you and Eric. Also, um, I feel all pretentious and dumb saying this, but the expressions in this post are really, really beautiful. 'The fight is in Ray's blood, not under his nails.' Gosh.

Also, 'click to lay waste to the weakest' is totally awesome.

Comment from: siwangmu posted at February 6, 2006 11:18 AM

Also, I'm sorry to double post, but someone here can help me: when I go through the Achewood archives, I want to be able to see the funny text that pops up on mousing over (that's alt-text, right?) but I think Firefox automatically cuts it to ellipses if it's long. How can I see the full thing without stopping to look at page source on every page or something else which would make trawling really laborious?

Comment from: Johnny Catbird posted at February 6, 2006 11:42 AM

Wednesday writes:

And Beef would never fight, of course. Beef isn't like that. It's not in him. He learns a thing, but never is its master.

I hate to nitpick with you, but I believe Beef would fight. I also believe he has fought; he must have. If you're going to register for the Great Outdoor Fight, you have to make it through the Qualifying Rounds, unless you're BOC*.

It's all right here.

That being said, as much as I'd love to see it, Beef will not fight Ray. It's not in his nature to do so. He'll concede quietly, but both of them will know how the real Champion is.


Comment from: Wednesday White posted at February 6, 2006 11:51 AM

Catbird: That was intended to reflect Ray's thought process. "I deserve the fight. I'm BOC. It's mine. Beef here, who knows all about the fight, would be my roadie. It's not like he'd be fighting me anyway."

Look at his face today. It just occurred to him.

Comment from: Doublemint posted at February 6, 2006 12:01 PM

Personally, I wonder if the Lord rolled a d12 to pick the one who'd have to betray him. But that's only if you go by- Wait.... a new snark?

Comment from: Johnny Catbird posted at February 6, 2006 12:02 PM

I see, now that I reread your post. Two cups of coffee and I still can't keep up.

Still, I stand by my original statement. Ray will be this year's Champion, but both Beef and Ray will know that he doesn't deserve it. And honestly, for Beef, I think that's all he'd desire. He's not the kind looking for fame; he wants to know that deep down, he's the cat who can enter a three day fight and be the last one standing. Ray, on the other hand, needs the fame -- craves it. He won't care how he gets the title, just so long as it's his. Of course, he'll be haunted by his cowardly win, but he can't see that, not until it's too late.

Comment from: Paul Gadzikowski posted at February 6, 2006 12:06 PM

I fequently fail to grok Achewood, and rarely laugh at it, but I laughed aloud this morning.

Comment from: Phil Kahn posted at February 6, 2006 12:53 PM

Shit. Shit.

Cartilege Head just made a hell of a lot more sense.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at February 6, 2006 12:57 PM

But seeing Achewood, day after day, and seeing the relationship between Beef and Ray, makes it seem pretty likely it'll come down to Beef and Ray. Maybe they'll need to fight each other. Or maybe Beef will go down on Ray's behalf. But in the end, Beef is the Samurai who serves, and Ray is the One Who Gets Things Done.

It is, in the end, the way of things.

The thing is... Ray has always... always cheated. Why is he rich? Because he sold his soul to the devil so he would succeed in the world of Hip Hop and Music.

Ray doesn't have to qualify. He's B.O.C. Ray doesn't need to really beat Envelop». He can call in a favor. And he Knows he'll win the fight. It's in his blood. It's his destiny.

The thing is... his father? The man whose blood is in his? Eschewed the very alliances that Beef is explaining to Ray right now. Stubbs was a champion. It came as naturally to him as breathing. And Ray assumes it'll be the same for him.

Beef has always had to toil for everything, working in the shadows of others, doing everything others require, but never putting on airs so as to wear a black shirt. Ray needs Beef to be in the fight, so Beef can help him. Therefore, Beef will qualify and make it into the fight.

Something Weds said was absolutely perfect, though. Thematically, I mean. She absolutely nailed it: The fight is in Ray's blood, not under his nails. But he asserts the fight is his destiny because he is the son of Rodney Leonard Stubbs.

Rodney Leonard Stubbs was "The Man With the Blood on his Hands." By definition, Stubbs got it under his nails.

I'm really, really interested to see what happens next.

Comment from: Johnny Catbird posted at February 6, 2006 1:01 PM

Beef wants to be Ray.
Ray wants to be Beef.
Neither will admit it.

That's my theory, and I'm sticking to it.

Comment from: Bahimiron posted at February 6, 2006 2:03 PM

I have to differ with you on one thing, Eric.

I'm pretty sure that Ray's just been rich all his life. Which has probably lead to a lot of his ill-regard toward effort and its involvement in getting places. Why walk when you can ride a limo, sip Cristal and eat caviar smeared on doritos? That's our Ray. The good life, the tackiest way possible.

I mean, the man wears a speedo everywhere he goes.

When I first started reading Achewood, I kept waiting for someone to comment on Ray's banana hammock. And no one did. Which was when I came to the realization that, hey, that's just Ray!

Stupid Ray.

Comment from: Shaenon posted at February 6, 2006 2:05 PM

Each Achewood strip I read becomes the new Greatest Strip in the World. I laughed like an idiot throughout this one, and then again through Wednesday's post. Damn.

Comment from: siwangmu posted at February 6, 2006 2:27 PM

"Something Weds said was absolutely perfect, though. Thematically, I mean. She absolutely nailed it: The fight is in Ray's blood, not under his nails."

Hah! For maybe the first time ever, I preempted you.

I rule you!

Comment from: Wednesday White posted at February 6, 2006 2:35 PM

Ray's been privileged all of his life, and fortunate all of his life, and lucky all of his life. Of the upper-middle class, a fine strain of Southern refinement, yes. Not necessarily rich.

I think this becomes clear in how he approaches conspicuous branding. His luxuries are just a little chavvy, just a little obvious. He's shopping at the nice mall with the simulated town square, but he's still shopping at the mall.

Comment from: Wednesday White posted at February 6, 2006 2:36 PM

(I mean, obviously he's rich now. But he's still in the mindset which gets you a jukebox that plays nothin' but Connie Francis.)

Comment from: Bahimiron posted at February 6, 2006 3:07 PM

I donno.

I grew up pretty upper on that middle class strata, but I really can't remember a time that my mom came out after the big little league game and brought all the boys Godiva chocolates. Or Blue Nehi. Or Orangina, a drink that I'm pretty sure, when Ray was a kid, was still primarily sold in France.

I made due with Hi-C. Purplesaurus Rex if I was lucky. Then again, I may've been lower on the social layer cake than I thought.

Comment from: Paul Gadzikowski posted at February 6, 2006 4:15 PM

It's also true that having grown up in the upper middle class doesn't mean you're still there these days, unless you've really applied yourself. Or made a deal with the devil, whatever. You needn't have grown up without riding in limos, sipping Cristal and eating caviar smeared on Doritos in order to do it ostentatiously now. But you're sure more likely to do it ostentatiously now - as opposed to casually - if you once had a period of time when you couldn't do it at all.

Comment from: Ford Dent posted at February 6, 2006 4:19 PM

Dear God I love Achewood.

This current arc is perfect--It's bringing Beef and Ray's relationship to a new place. Will things remain the same?

Or is Onstad looking to shake things up in a massive way? Either way, I'm absolutely helpless against it.

Comment from: Scarybug posted at February 6, 2006 4:26 PM

To view the whole title text in firefox (It's not actually the alt text), right-click, select properties, it'll be at the bottom of the properties window, under "misc properties: Title".

If it's long text you might have to select it and drag right to see all of it.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at February 6, 2006 5:31 PM

Or Orangina, a drink that I'm pretty sure, when Ray was a kid, was still primarily sold in France.

Orangina has been available in my hometown for at least as long as I've been alive.

I think Ray's mother fits the concept of "Southern Belle." She wouldn't need to be wealthy to provide all she does -- she would rather go hungry than suffer the humiliation of not standing out among the other mothers of Ray's little league team. She is Gentry and acts accordingly.

That's not the same thing as being wealthy. And Ray, though raised by a mother of Gentry, is not himself Gentry. Thus, as Weds said, he's Chavvy. Brand conscious. Shopping at the high end mall but still going to the Mall.

Much of Ray's life is spent as a pretender. He pretends to station, to breeding, to a natural sense of nobility, but in the end he's a coward who would abandon a dying man. Cartilage Man and Ray's time in Hell are both revelations of the kind of man Ray is.

Beef, on the other hand, is the opposite. He's the Guy Who Sucks. Also, He's Got Depression. Just ask him.

This storyline rocks so hard.

Comment from: Darth Paradox posted at February 6, 2006 5:47 PM

Cartilege Head just made a hell of a lot more sense.

This is the most frightening thing I've read all day.

Comment from: Trevor Barrie posted at February 6, 2006 8:51 PM

I get the whole "Beef deserves it but Ray doesn't" vibe... but does anybody really see Roast Beef being able to beat 3000 guys' asses?

I figure the only way it comes down to Beef and Ray is if they both hide under a rock or something while everybody else wipes each other out.

Comment from: Alexis Christoforides posted at February 6, 2006 9:05 PM

It's funny how Beef always needs to be pushed to do something. He knows the Fight, been studying it for years it seems, but it never occured to him to join until Ray decided to.

Ray is a lot like Cerebus, (if I haven't exceeded my quota of talking about the grey bastard yet). Big things happen to him by way of fate (and because of his enterprising nature), but he's neither the cleverest guy around nor the most deserving of so many opportunities to fame and wealth. He's also a coward as we have seen, and sometimes I just get a feeling that Beef's about to explode and go M.I.T-style on everyone.

It's hell of interesting to watch. A 3,000-man fight over 3 days is perhaps the most awesome thing ever.

Comment from: Prodigal posted at February 6, 2006 9:19 PM

Weds, your essays on Achewood are things of beauty.

Comment from: TheNintenGenius posted at February 7, 2006 12:00 AM

Time and time again, it's proven to me why I think Achewood is one of the greatest webcomics of all time. This arc is a perfect example of it. To say that I'm eagerly awaiting what will happen next is an understatement.

And christ, Weds, this is some fine writing.

Comment from: Robert Hutchinson posted at February 7, 2006 8:37 PM

I caught up on Achewood a couple of months ago. While I don't "get it" some of the time, it's more than worth it for how often I do. Get it, that is. I think this essay is a nice little analysis of the direction of the current plot, too.

siwangmu: Until they finally fix that bug in Firefox, the only solution I've seen is to install the Popup ALT Attribute extension. I've never done it myself (although I'm about to try it out), so use at your own risk.

Trevor: I completely wouldn't expect Beef to even try to beat 3000 guys' asses. Even if that *was* his goal, those last few hundred would have to wait around quite a while for Beef to get to them. That is, some of them are going to have to beat each other first.

Comment from: siwangmu posted at February 7, 2006 11:08 PM

From the warning as I'm going to download the extension:

"This is essentially unstable forever because I develop it based on my private costs and motivations. This possibly provides problems. I never indemnify recompense for any problems caused by it. You have to use it at your own risk."

That is the bestest most awesome warning I have ever received. Italics in the original.

(Also: This may not work if as someone said this is not ALT-text? I guess I'll find out)

Comment from: siwangmu posted at February 7, 2006 11:12 PM

It works! Awesomeness.

Also it is unstable forever. I hear.

Comment from: Bahimiron [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 1, 2006 7:56 AM


Given the responses to my posts in this entry.

And given the almost snide followup entry made a day or two later containing a chat transcript between Weds and Eric where the 'mistaken assumption' of Ray's wealth is discussed.

Yeah, given that?

Beef's interview with Ray for his zone 'Man Why You Even Got To Do A Thing' makes me feel downright vindicated.

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