Betcha didn’t see THIS coming, did ya!?

Oh, no! The big money was on Violet flying through the window, not Cherry getting tossed out the door like she was on the wrong end of a Wing Chun demonstration.  And let’s face it, that was one hell of a throw! Looks like the snobbish Violet Cheshire has a bite to back up that bark. Apparently, Cherry really did want to handle the situation as diplomatically as she could. But you cannot negotiate with somebody who won’t play along.

As the door to the Society gets slammed shut, Cherry makes a tactical retreat and considers a more persuasive strategy. But what can she do? Don’t know about you, but I’m not taking Rivera’s bait in panel four again.

Say, I wonder if Doc has some doggy bags to manage Andy? We already know that the Sunny Soleil Society is very particular about what goes onto their lawns!

Not in Their Back Yard!

SOAP BOX: I know there are nay-sayers over the new direction of Mark Trail. That’s expected. I think the syndicate decided to try for a new, likely younger, and hopefully larger readership. Some critics have suggested we’d be better off with the syndicate rerunning old Mark Trail strips. Ironically, it seems there were times when the Mark Trail comic strip did rerun or revise old stories. This is documented in an excellent history and analysis of Mark Trail (stories, characters, artists, etc.): Check out Mark Carlson-Ghost’s excellent Mark Trail Confidential web page (Mark Trail Confidential – Mark Carlson-Ghost Mark Carlson-Ghost). There you can also read about former Mark Trail artists whose decisions sometimes also sparked controversy. Look, there are people who prefer the original Mission Impossible TV episodes and there are those who prefer Tom Cruise’s more modern and completely different take; and some like both (however, I am pretty much not a fan of Tom’s take on Jack Reacher!). I reckon that’s all there is to it. Hey! At least King Features did not have the gall to try and foist a Young Mark Trail strip on us! But now, on to today’s installment!

I’m sure there are people who like HOAs or they would not exist. As HOAs are normally run by the home owners, themselves, I was not aware some of them have the wisdom to hire professional management companies. Generally a good idea, since most people do not have the professional experience to deal with real estate, city regulations, planning, negotiations, and the law. I’m guessing (or hoping) that sooner or later, the Sunny Soleil Society will be exposed as some kind of criminal racket. Why should Mark be the only one to beat up the criminals?

In spite of her condescendingly smug manner, I’m not sure Violet Cheshire knows just what kind of trouble she is getting into, grabbing Cherry’s arm in order to give her the Bum’s Rush. But Violet is really asking for it! Cherry, before you send Violet to a dental surgeon for emergency treatment, demand to see the HOA’s official covenants first! Cherry’s clients should have their own copies and should have given them to Cherry from the start. But then, there’d be no story!

Is that a hat, or what!? It’s like she is ready to go to the Derby or star in a gender-neutral version of The Three Musketeers.

What’s Jove got to do, got to do with it?

It seems that Lady Cheshire believes she is holding all the cards. Indeed, it is difficult to argue against the rules of a private organization. Shouldn’t Cherry have known about the existence of this homeowner’s association? Why didn’t Cherry’s clients know about these rules? Sounds like total fubar all around.

Still, Cherry’s “Happy Face” in panel 2 clearly has no positive effect on the Sunny Soleil Committee, whose membership may consist only of Violet and her husband. A quick flashback in Panel 3 confirms Cherry’s faith in Mark’s ability to send a powerful email (as he pledged) that is the equivalent of his “two fists o’ justice.” And Mark delivered the goods. But was that good? The Cheshires apparently did not think so. However, the flashback panel is a good plot device to help add the proper menacing tone to the statement begun in panel two and finished in panel four.

But look! It appears Violet (who is either shocked or brushing her teeth) is dressed in yellow in the flashback panel. Is this significant? Is the whole “violet” ambiance just a PR scam?

And By Jove! If we combine this traditional British exclamation with Violet’s last name (Cheshire), along with the plate of scones, we see a distinctively English influence. But to what end? Is the couple getting their revenge for 1776?

Anyway, where does this leave Cherry, now? She was originally concerned what affect the Committee’s decision could have on her entire business, which must be on a shoestring budget. But is confrontation the best strategy to use against a pair of judgmental snobs who hold the power of the approval pen? Cherry’s negotiations seem to be going downhill faster than the Afghani Peace Talks.

Speaking of palm trees, why not just grease Violet’s palm?

I imagine that the shocked expression on Cherry’s face in the first panel is because she thought she was being cordial and polite. There wasn’t even an apostrophe at the end of her complaint! I’m sure that Cherry’s idea of an aggressive tone would be more like the Trailer Court How-Dee-Do with her sisters. Then again, in Monday’s strip, Cherry’s background in panel 4 was a slightly more intense violet, while the color in today’s fourth panel has changed to some kind of pale orange. Is this merely a color design choice, or does it suggest a mood swing? Of course, this will not be seen in the black & white printing, so my theory may not be valid.

The authoritative Wikipedia tells us that the Sabal Palmetto tree (aka Cabbage Tree) is native to the Southern United States:  South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, etc., all the way to southern California. I don’t believe we have seen these trees in Lost Forest. So it might bring up the question of where this neighborhood is located, if anybody cares? Florida would be a guess, but probably not accurate, since Florida has twelve varieties of palm trees, which would undermine Violet’s ruling.

While Florida also has its own share of kooks, I don’t think we need to leave Georgia (the presumed location of Lost Forest) to find Stuffy Southern Snobs. And do we really think Cherry’s small landscaping service is big enough to do business in multiple states? Consider the licensing costs, taxes, logistics, and staffing required.

As for our story, the last panel today makes clear that Cherry is not going to take this autocratic behavior lying—or sitting—down, though she has more or less agreed on the exotic palm tree. Will that be concession enough for Sunny Soleil, or will Andy make a mess of Violet’s flower beds outside and ruin the negotiations?