Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Character profile for Thorvald McGuire

Genealogy

Thorvald is, as his first name suggests, of Nordic ancestry. He is only 1/8 Irish. The rest is pure Viking.

Family Tree
Seamus MCGUIRE, an Irishman, married Ragnhild HAAKONSDOTTIR, of Icelandic and Norwegian background. Their son, Skarp-Hedin, married Gudrun NJALSDOTTIR. Skarp-Hedin and Gudrun had a son, Mord MCGUIRE. Mord married Hallgerda ERIKSDOTTIR. They had three children: Thorvald, Harlenthora ("Arlene"), and Ragnat ("Ralph"). Thorvald married Krystle CARRINGTON, and they have one child, Rebeccah Bergthora Thorvaldsdottir MCGUIRE.

Appearance

Thorvald is an imposing 6'5" tall, with broad shoulders and big muscles. He usually wears tight, worn-out polo shirts, blue jeans, boots, and a black leather motorcycle jacket. His thick blond hair is worn swept back off his face in what can only be called a pompadour. He also has a thick blond beard and moustache that he keeps carefully trimmed and waxed.

Thorvald is very vain about his physical appearance. He has a regular appointment at a salon for "mani, pedi, and botox." Thorvald's face is craggy and angular, and he worries about looking his age (he's 50).

He has dentures. Don't ask why.

Career

Thorvald has had a very checkered career. As a young man, he was in a motorcycle gang. But his love of the classics set him apart from the other street punks. He won a scholarship to attend Harvard University. He received his bachelor's, master's and doctorate in the classics there, where he learned to speak Latin, Greek, and a variety of ancient Germanic languages--Old Norse among them. He won a prize for his doctoral thesis--the entire Loeb classical library. Thorvald claims his thesis was too revolutionary, and that this is the reason he was not offered a position on the faculty at Harvard. Krystle says it's because Thorvald had an affair with the assistant dean, and the dean's wife found out.

Thorvald returned to Canada, where he quickly became involved with the Bandidos, a Quebecois motorcycle gang that is more interested in organized crime than in Harley Davidsons. Thorvald was in and out of prison during his tenure with the Bandidos. Then he met Krystle Carrington. She was putting herself through college by doing topless dancing at a club the Bandidos owned. One night at the club, he grabbed Krystle, threw her over his shoulder, and carried her away into a traditional marriage. It was, after all, one of the few things Thorvald hadn't tried yet. The couple spent two years running a nudist colony in British Columbia. Then they had Becky. Thorvald was 35; Krystle was 22.

After that, Krystle wanted to move to the suburbs and be a "normal" family. Thorvald chose Milborough for his young family because he'd heard it was a place where a gay man could get as much action as he could ever want. Thorvald and Krystle started an antiques business together, and Krystle never knew about Thorvald's many sexual indiscretions until Becky was in junior high.

During these years, Thorvald developed a new hobby: competitive eating. Thorvald was the reigning champion in competitive eating in Ontario until about five years ago. He had become quite fat, and he was having trouble getting "dates." It was then that Thorvald had weight-loss surgery (the "LAP-Band") and dropped over 100 pounds of fat...and added 30 pounds of muscle.

A little over a year ago, a surprise from Thorvald's past was revealed. While Thorvald was an undergraduate in college, he had returned to Canada during the summers to work as a strongman for the circus. During the summer before he began his graduate studies, Thorvald had an affair with his high school sweetheart, who was a member of a Native tribe. Unbeknownst to him, his sweetheart became pregnant. She gave the baby up for adoption, and Thorvald never knew of her existence until Marjee Mahaha knocked on his door. Though Marjee has bonded with Becky, she has a tentative relationship with Thorvald.

When the marriage finally fell apart, Krystle had Thorvald arrested for spousal abuse. One night, while Thorvald was relaxing in his study, reading Suetonius's Lives of the Caesars, Krystle came in and picked a stupid fight. Irritated, Thorvald threw his book in the air. Unfortunately, it landed on Krystle's head, giving her an excuse to have him arrested. A petition for divorce was filed, and the antiques business was liquidated.
One abortive escape from jail, with the intention of reuniting his family, failed miserably.

Thorvald has renewed his ties to the Bandidos while living in a halfway house after getting out of jail. However, he is currently looking for a permanent job outside of organized crime. He is managing Becky's singing career, though not very well.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Character Development for Becky

Becky McGuire's life has been a study in contrasts. When she was a child, she had an idyllic existence. She was the only child of two happily married parents. Both her parents paid a tremendous amount of attention to her, and she was rather indulged by them. (They even got matching Becky tattoos!) Some--Elly Patterson being prominent among them--would call her spoiled. It was sort of hard to avoid, though. She had her parents' undivided attention. She was adorably cute, and so other people tended to treat her like she was a little princess too. She didn't have to spend very much time thinking about other people, but she was not a bad girl or a mean girl. She made friends with April Patterson, and this is largely because Becky is most comfortable with a girl who is nice and not scheming or posturing in any way.

Around the time she began junior high school, things changed in Becky's life. Her parents' marriage had deteriorated to the point where they were spending a lot of time apart. Her dad started having an affair, unbeknownst to Becky and her mother. This took him away from his daughter. Becky's mother started to badmouth her father to her. Suddenly, there was a lot less "spoiling" going on.

At the same time, she was starting junior high, which is typically not a very nice place or time. She had always naturally been one of the "popular kids," but now she felt like she had to pose and posture in order to be thought of that way. Sometimes this meant looking down on or even publicly slamming people who were not as high up on the social food chain as she was. One example of this is her treatment of Shannon Lake and April's friendship with her.

While Becky was in junior high, the beleagured McGuire family got an unpleasant surprise. While in high school, Becky's father had dated a Native girl. Unbeknownst to him, the girl became pregnant and had a daughter named Marjee, whom she gave up for adoption. Marjee was adopted by a half-Native, half-White family. When Marjee was old enough, she sought out her birth parents and arrived on the McGuire doorstep virtually unannounced. While Becky was thrilled at the idea of an older sister, Becky's mother was appalled, and the rift between the McGuires became too deep to mend.

As her parents stopped paying attention to her, Becky began to realize that the biggest way she got attention was from boys for her physical appearance. Though she tries to act aloof, she desperately wants to be loved by someone, and her parents haven't been acting very loving lately. During the winter of her eighth grade year, a Grade 12 boy named Jeff tricked Becky into believing he wanted her to be his girlfriend. Excited that someone older and cool would like her that much, she was persuaded to do things with Jeff--things of a sexual nature. Unfortunately, Jeff was only using her, and dumped her immediately afterwards. Some people, including her "friend" Duncan, spread rumors intimating that Becky had "gone all the way" with Jeff. She didn't, but she did enough with him that she feels embarrassed and humiliated by the whole experience.

Around that time, the fighting between her parents escalated, and Becky's father left the family home in a very dramatic manner--one day Becky came home from school and found that her dad was gone. He left no note, and told no one he was going. He just packed up his belongings and left. When Becky's mother found out that he was living at his girlfriend's house, she went crazy with anger and destroyed a number of his belongings. Soon after that, Becky's dad disappeared altogether, right after Becky's mom filed for divorce, alimony, and child support. Becky's mom completely lost it after that development, and began drinking, partying, and occasionally using drugs in an effort to dull the pain.

Becky was left somewhat dazed by these events. She suddenly had a home life worthy of a Lifetime Movie of the Week and a terrible reputation at school. The only person who seemed to accept her for who she was, without complications, was April. And one of the few things that gave her joy was her music. She began to focus on that more and more, but she did this mostly in secret. She found herself wanting to leave the band. Gerald and Duncan had never been very nice to her, and they hadn't wanted her to have an important role in the band. Now Duncan was spreading terrible rumors about her. And April was a good friend, but she was falling in love with Gerald--the guy who was pretty mean to her! She wanted to get away from all that so she could do her own thing.

What she was going through hardened her heart a good deal, and she let her anger rule when she decided how to get out of 4-Evah. She just surprised the band by singing solo at grad, without telling any of them. Then, when they talked about it after the dance, she told them that she was better than the band. This was a mean thing to do, but it was partly true--Gerald and Duncan are inferior musicians to her. They're just in it because they think it's cool to be rock stars. Becky has real musical talent. And as her life falls apart, she's afraid that forging a life in music is her only ticket to success.

As for why she lashed out at April--that's more complicated. Becky doesn't really believe she is a more talented musician than April, although singer/songwriters certainly get more of a spotlight than do guitarists. Becky feels angry about some of the things April has done. Becky knows that April's parents strongly disapprove of her, and she senses sometimes that April believes Becky is something of "a bad seed" because of what her parents have said. April was pretty judgmental of her at times during the Jeff fiasco. April is actively dating Gerald, who makes his dislike of Becky apparent. Becky feels sometimes that this means April tacitly approves of Gerald's put-downs. Also, April has not defended Becky against Duncan's rumor-mongering. It sometimes feels to Becky like April is on their side, though she hopes they can somehow stay friends.

In the last few months, interesting people have come into Becky's life. First, she found out that Marjee's birth mother later married a French-Canadian man named Sylvestre Simone and they have a daughter, Vicki. Vicki is thus Marjee's half-sister. Though she is not technically related to Vicki, they are getting to know each other through Marjee, and Becky is enjoying having two sisters to pal around with. She has sometimes envied April for having siblings--though she usually likes being an only child just fine. Now she has the best of both worlds in that department.

Becky has also struck up an unconventional and unlikely friendship with Howard Kelpfroth, the man who stalked and "went after" Liz. Initially, she was mostly interested in the information Howard had about how Anthony, Mike, Elly, Lawrence, Nick, Gordo, and even Weed were behind the attack on Liz--he was just hired to do a job. Becky soon learned that Howard was not a mean woman-hating thug at all; he is actually a sensitive (and, surprisingly, gay) artist who was naive enough to be a pawn in the schemes of Pattersons, Caine & Co. Against most of her friends' advice, Becky met Howard in real life when he offered to help her with sound equipment for her first professional gig at the Bumstead's much-ballyhooed anniversary party. Howard even introduced her to high tea! Since then, Becky and Howard have formed a somewhat symbiotic relationship--Howard tries to protect Becky from the unpleasant parts of her home life, and Becky tries to help Howard overcome his gullibility so that he can stay out of trouble.

Strangely, even as Becky befriended Liz's attacker, she also became closer to Liz! Becky has really missed April this summer, even though April's trip and the summer in general has seemed eerily short--it feels like grad just ended! Liz has needed a pal who wasn't involved in the big conspiracy, and there aren't too many people who weren't who are hanging around Milborough for the summer. So Becky has become Liz's surrogate April in a way, and she's learned that Liz isn't as foobish as she originally thought.

As noted above, Becky recently performed her first professional gig at the Bumstead's anniversary party. Her performance was a success, and she even had the additional pleasure of temporarily crippling Elly Patterson! The only thing that marred the evening was when Hagar the Horrible took his axe to her borrowed amp, but all was made right by Mrs. Bumstead.

At the very end of her summer vacation, Becky had an experience she hopes she'll never repeat. Though Howard had taken it upon himself to gallantly warn Becky's mother's boyfriend Bill against treating her badly, Bill attacked Becky's mother and gave her a black eye. Becky defended her mother by taking a frying pan to Bill's skull, as she had heard from Liz that this is an excellent technique to use on men. Bill wound up in the hospital--and then back in prison for his parole violation. Officer Brad Luggsworth then had a serious talk with Mrs. McGuire about her recent profligate ways. Becky is hopeful that her mother won't be so wild in the future, and might start acting like a mom again. She especially needs this in light of the fact that her father was caught last month and has been put into jail for 30 days for drunk driving, though Mrs. McGuire told Becky it was for domestic abuse--perhaps to poison her daughter against her soon-to-be ex-husband.

Becky is anxiously looking forward to starting high school.

Meta-Blog for Becky

Feel free to leave comments about the Becky character here. I plan to put up a character profile much like the one on Howard Kelpfroth's blog, but I haven't gotten around to it yet.

--Q.N. Jones