Black Cat Familiar

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Yes Dinkle, we know. We know you know all about mascots. Just like you knew all about playing music and directing and fundraising. You’re a former high school band director. WE ARE PAINFULLY FAMILIAR WITH THE CONCEPT.

And who isn’t familiar with mascots? Was he being ironic? If so, why did we need an entire panel of him imagining a school logo?

And in what universe does this exchange not come across as extremely dickish? Lillian was explaining that the cat was the mascot, she wasn’t asking if Dinkle knew what a mascot was.

It would be like showing a friend your new Jeep and having them roll their eyes and tell you that they are familiar with the concept of internal combustion engines.

And Dinkle is imagining the school logo. He didn’t even have the decency to remember the actual live goat he bought to stand on the sidelines and nibble chemically treated turfgrass while watching the Scapegoats lose. Paul deserved better.

Our Funkistorian Billy The Skink posted these back in 2018. But for any of our more recent readers, a little journey back in time.

FW9-26-83
FW9-27-83
FW10-1-83

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There Were Some Bats Who Had A Cat…

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The knowing smirks exchanged by the characters today signaled to me that there was supposed to be a joke somewhere in here, even though I didn’t see it on first glance.

After hours of careful study and research, I’ve decided the joke was that the cat is actually named Bingo because St. Spires, like many churches, supports itself with organized charitable gambling.

Which lends weight to St Spires being Catholic. Church Bingo tends to be a Catholic exercise, though in big cities, it might be Jewish. Back in the heyday, Protestant ministers would lambast Bingo as a vile and immoral game of chance, really no better than the indulgences that had once funded the papacy. Even today, some churches struggle with the morality of making their money from hosting gambling, often by people outside their congregation.

But back in the Great Depression, Bingo kept many parishes from shutting their doors. Edwin Lowe, the man who first sold the game under the name BINGO, claimed he was approached by a Catholic Priest only months after he first started selling Bingo. It was because of the concerns of this priest that Lowe contacted Columbia University math professor, Carl Leffler, to create thousands of unique Bingo cards, so there would be less repeated winners. According to legend, the math professor subsequently went insane.

Of course, Lowe only improved and named an already existing game. The first attestations of a bingo-like game date all the way back to Italy in the 16th century. And the word ‘Bingo’ also predates association with the game by centuries. Lowe claimed that he chose the name after a player of ‘Beano’, the game’s precursor, shouted ‘Bingo!’ when she won. In the 1920’s, the word ‘bingo’ had become an expression of surprise and success.

The semi-nonsensical word had been circulating for a long time. Before most of us have ever played a game of Bingo, we are taught the nursery song about a farmer’s dog. And that song is older than the US Constitution. The earliest printed version of the song with a dog named Bingo was listed in The Humming Bird songbook in 1785.

“The farmer’s dog leapt over the stile,
his name was little Bingo,
the farmer’s dog leapt over the stile,
his name was little Bingo.”

But WHY was the dog named Bingo? Well, the answer may be in the forgotten second verse.

“The farmer loved a cup of good ale,
he called it rare good stingo,
the farmer loved a cup of good ale,
he called it rare good stingo.”

The farmer was a raging alcoholic.

See, the song was originally a drinking song.

And some of the earliest attestations of the word ‘bingo’ list it as a slang term for brandy.

So if the cat isn’t named after gambling, she’s definitely named after booze.

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CATalogue of Nonsense

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I’m sorry, WHAT?

In what place in this tiny choir loft was this cat hiding?

The church allows a cat in the choir loft? Thereby excluding anyone with feline allergies from choir participation, if not church attendance?

These ladies force a cat that appears social to live alone in a tiny choir loft, with companionship only a couple hours a week during practice and services?

These dumb ladies never thought to mention their cat to Dinkle, their choir director of weeks, if not months, (if not years, given Sunday’s strip)?

They’re still insisting that the Choir Loft is a perpetual man-free zone only recently invaded, when Dinkle has been their choir director for weeks, if not months, if not longer?

Even if the cat was hiding, Dinkle failed to notice litter boxes, food dishes, cat beds, an omnipresent layer of fine black hair covering every surface?

And, the most important question of all: Mopey Pete and Minty’s middle-aged daughter travelled back in time to before her birth to participate in the all-female church choir in Centerview?

Is this an extended, Back to the Future incident?

Or has she come back to prevent some kind of horrifying future apocalypse?

Does she have to work to ensure her own birth?

Does she have to work to PREVENT her own birth?

Is Minty Pete the CAUSE of the horrifying future apocalypse?

Is this poor middle-aged woman in a weirdly tight striped shirt actually burdened by the deaths of a thousand future innocents, and carefully planning her own temporally displaced suicide for the betterment of future mankind?

Wouldn’t that be a much better story than what we’re getting this week?

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‘Sometimes dead is better.’

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Happy May, Funkysnark Fans! Comic Book Harriet here, ready to push us through another couple weeks of this horror show, much like the shambling hulk that pushed the cart through the haunted murder attraction in House of 1000 Corpses.

Prepare yourselves for…. Strip of 1000 Smirks!

Many thanks to Spaceman Spiff for guiding us through two weeks of some of the weirdest storytelling to come out of Funky Winkerbean for a while now. It was like each day brought us another level down deeper into another tangent of meaninglessness. Never has a story that begins with a man buying doughnuts for alcoholics and ends with him nearly dying to save a CD player been told with such astounding lack of passion or sense.

Now we’re back to the Dinkle pandemic that has been sweeping this strip for the last year. We’ve had nearly 50 days of Dinkle since November (the traditional start of Dinkle season.) This is my third shift in a row where I’ve gotten Dinkle arcs. First he was teaching piano lessons, then he was substitute teaching, and now I get my chance to get in on the ‘Dinkle scores a choir harem’ action.

But maybe the Dinkpocalypse is coming to a close soon. Today we get an exciting celebrity cameo: the undead hell cat from Pet Semetary, Winston Churchhill. I, for one, am eagerly anticipating Dinkle getting his scrawny arms ripped to shreds like chicken drumsticks.

#1 Church Cat

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Zoom and Gloom

A few things strike me as funny about this strip. I think it’s funny that a year or so ago, when Batiuk wrote this, he thought everyone would go straight from social isolation to meeting back like normal, with nobody wearing masks in between. And in all that time never thought maybe that he should have the artist go back and draw masks on the characters.
The second thing is that the CDC this week specifically mentioned singing in a choir indoors as something you should still wear a mask while doing, even if you’re vaccinated.
Oh, yeah, the “old person doesn’t know how to use technology” “gag” didn’t strike me as funny much at all. CBH takes over tomorrow. I wonder how many weeks of Funky monologuing at AA she’ll have to endure . . .

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Nobody is Fine in Westview

Haha, wives sure are heartless, am I right? I really, really, do not understand what the point of this story was. People in the real world don’t usually tell stories that highlight what clumsy buffoons they are. Or that their wives don’t care if they’re injured (and are incapable of telling if the wall in a room they’re in is damaged and have to ask someone else). The only way this would make anything close to sense is if Funky really was dying for a beer when he was on the treadmill, and this whole story is actually about him relapsing.

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Her Father, Moving Treadmill, Who Was Moving Treadmilled

Wow, using the phrase “moving treadmill” three times in three consecutive panels seems like bad writing to me. If you have to signal the setup for a joke so obviously, it’s probably not a very good one, and you probably don’t have too much faith in the intelligence of your readers.  Like, if he’d referred to it as just “the treadmill” once or twice his readers would have been too confused and not understood that Funky hurt himself.
I always wonder about the genesis of these storylines. I assume this is something that happened to Batiuk in real life. I do wonder if he replaced “Flash action figure he placed on the treadmill to pretend it was a Cosmic Treadmill” with “Discman”.

Oh, and telling a story at AA about how you had to interrupt your exercise because you needed “a drink” so bad that you ended up injuring yourself and (presumably) a prized possession seems problematic.

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R.I.P., Funkman’s Discman

I love that third panel. Funky used to be one of the few characters in this strip I could tolerate. Lately I’ve just gotten sick of how Batiuk constantly has to dump on him and portray him as just a pathetic fat loser every time he appeared. But now he’s just rambling on about yet another nostalgic obsession like everyone else in this strip. I doubt he reacted as much to Wally getting kidnapped or Cindy leaving him as he does to that Discman “floating” to the ground.
Oh, I don’t think an AA meeting is really the best place to talk about how you stepped off a moving treadmill and did something clumsy because you needed a “drink” so bad. Has Batiuk forgotten where Funky is? It would’ve been so much better just to say “water” instead of “a drink”.

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I Wish Funky Was Stashed Away

Oh, yay, Backwards Cap Young Alcoholic gets another line today. Today’s strip is really funny, because apparently Holly had no idea that Funky still had a Discman, despite the fact that they’re husband and wife. Had he never used it before, despite the fact that he somehow still has two? Or did she just not pay any attention to him, ever. Which is understandable.
The worst thing about these strips, to me, at least, is the smugness. In the third panel, Funky is acting like having a Discman still in the package is the greatest accomplishment of his life. Which, it might be.

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Ding Dongle

Oh yay, more obsolete technology for Batiuk to fetishize through one of his characters. Was Funky’s record player or eight track player broken? Crazy Harry will be so sad. And this seems like one of the silliest possible times to be using a Discman. The whole point of the things is that they’re portable. Listening to one when you’re by yourself in a room in your own house seems to defeat the whole purpose. Does Funky somehow own a Discman but not a stereo that can play CDs? This strip is mind-boggling sometimes.

Oh, and apparently there are still several companies that make portable CD players you can buy, at least on Amazon.  They’re not Sony Discmans, but still.  I also have a strong feeling that when Discmans debuted, Batiuk probably loudly proclaimed that his portable tape player was way better.  And knowing him he probably did comic strips about it.

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