Shut Up, Donny

Link to today’s trip.

“Flag on the field.  How did it get there?” 

Well, you knew this was coming, right?  Given the choice between a sentimental gesture and a comedic pratfall, which one would he go with?  Well, there really wasn’t a choice, was there–sentiment only rears its head when Les Moore is involved, and he’s nowhere in sight (thank goodness).  Too bad the pratfall lacks the “comedic” bit.  In all seriousness, though, how utterly uncoordinated does Bull have to be to trip by stepping on a tiny banner?  Oh, I get the symbolism–Big Walnut Tech has once again prevented Bull from scoring–but couldn’t it be done in a subtler way?

“Touch a pennant.  Things happen.  A coach becomes a buffoon.”

As you know, there was a similar moment in the Coen Brothers film “The Big Lebowski.”   I won’t spoil it for you if you haven’t seen the film, but there it was funny, appalling, in character, and worked.  Here, it is none of those things, and it doesn’t work.  It just seems like another kick from Tom Batiuk against his old high school nemesis.   The one task that Bull promised Coach Stropp he would do, and he fails at it.  Hardy har har.

“Bull Bushka, noted coach.  Now clown.  Stumble.  Stumble, just to be stumbling.”

Again, the whole premise just seems stupid.  The idea that Coach Stropp would want his remains treated in such a cavalier way, the idea that the school apparently knows nothing of his arrangement with Bull…I mean, surely when Stropp died, the school would have assembled to watch Bull amble toward the goal line, as a gesture of respect toward his career?  No?  There’s just an urn in the locker room with no identification, no one other than Bull knows how it got there (or even that it is there), and the school is perfectly okay with all of this.   (The idea that anyone would want their mortal remains placed in the high school shows just how much said high school has shaped Tom Batiuk’s thinking.)

“Nothing bothers some people, not even funeral urns in the locker room.”

The strangest thing is this:  Everyone, even Coach Stropp, is fine with the idea that Coach Stropp will be honored by the school when Bull retires, and not one moment before.

I keep re-reading the last sentence I just typed, hoping I’ll glean some insight, but it just keeps getting dumber and dumber.

“Bull Bushka.  Caught in the wheels of cartooning.”


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

24 responses to “Shut Up, Donny

  1. spacemanspiff85

    So many dumb things here, and it’s not even part of anything worthwhile.
    How did he not see the flag there? He walked from far away towards it and didn’t see it? There’s nothing else on the field, it would stand out. And not only is he tripping, but as soon as he loses his balance, the urn goes flying out of his hands? (I’ll be shocked if tomorrow’s “gag” isn’t something along the lines “Coach always said I had butterfingers”.) And I don’t think urns for cremains are made so poorly that the lid pops off and they shatter when dropped from a few foot onto soft grass.
    What would be slightly funny is if tomorrow, Bull sees that the urn contains nothing but candy wrappers or something, and then remembers that he already did this years ago, but completely forgot, because of the CTE.

  2. HeyItsDave

    Back in Act I, FW was a gag-a-day strip about high school kids. But it seems that as T-Bats has grown older, he’s remained stuck in high school, constantly chewing over old hurts and indignities and using the strip as a way to give his old nemeses the comeuppances that he still thinks they so richly deserve.
    This arc must be so delicious for Tom. Just look! The gym teacher who tormented him will never, ever enter that end zone. The bully who made him pee his pants failing miserably to fulfill his most important promise. He knocked off two birds with one stone. Can you imagine what Tom felt like when he put this arc to bed?

  3. Gerard Plourde

    @spacemanspiff85- You’re right. While the lid of a cremation urn can be removed, the remains inside are customarily wrapped in plastic and then placed in a cloth sack that has a drawstring at the top. This is precisely to avoid their being scattered unintentionally.

    But the bigger question is, why do this? Why the unremitting focus on doom and failure? And why does he treat his characters so shabbily? He seems intent on keeping them one-dimensional.

  4. Jimmy

    I hope Bull loses his pension for defacing school property.

  5. Epicus Doomus

    I told you: TomBan still hates Bull (and all he represented) after all these years. The stupid clumsy oaf threw away his life on sports and look at him now, he’s no more than a big fat buffoon, incapable of even walking in a straight line. I couldn’t believe it when he allowed Bull to have some modest success later in Act III but he’s paying for it now, you betcha.

  6. ComicTrek

    OH, SHOOT! Oh, NO! Ha! Oh, my…..I am honestly shocked, you guys. Should I laugh or be incensed at this?

    Well, my friends, I can honestly say that I did not expect *that* to happen! Considering the way Tom likes to treat these people like garbage, I really should have. But come ON, Tom, those are the guy’s freaking ASHES! It would have been better to continue on with the same nothing. But no. Noooo, you just had to try to make things “sad” by resorting to, uh….this. That is seriously desperate!

  7. spacemanspiff85

    @Gerard Plourde:
    Honestly, Batiuk reminds me of so many people from my intro to fiction course in college. They hear that a good story needs drama and conflict and that you should “kill your darlings”, so they’d write stories about homeless HIV-positive transgender cocaine addict prostitutes who slept on a mattress in a junkyard and ended up dying pointlessly by the end of the story.
    It’s boring, that kind of writing. Real life isn’t 100% misery. And very few people want to read stories that are.

  8. billytheskink

    I mean, surely when Stropp died, the school would have assembled to watch Bull amble toward the goal line, as a gesture of respect toward his career? No?

    In digging up that old strip I posted yesterday of Coach Stropp’s final game, I refreshed my memory of the end of his Westview high school coaching career. Here’s how it went down:

    – Stropp meets with the football team’s booster club (which consists of two guys), the team is being sued by the cheerleading squad for not giving them anything to cheer about.
    – He returns to his office to find Bull and letters from the school board awaiting both of them.
    – Stropp is informed in the letter that his contract is not being renewed, that he is being fired. Not in person, but BY LETTER. Stropp reads this aloud, in front of Bull.
    – Bull’s letter informs him that he is being hired as Stropp’s replacement. Bull expresses his excitement in front of Stropp BEFORE attempting to sympathize with his just-fired mentor.
    – This all happens before the season finale against Big Walnut Tech, Stropp prepares a speech to give before this final game.
    – Stropp is interviewed on TV by Cindy prior to the game against BWT, she makes a pun about him being fired up for his last game and then makes it known that the pun was totally intended
    – In a driving rainstorm in front of a crowd of maybe 10 fans, Stropp gives an emotional speech about him much he loved coaching the Scapegoats and him much he is going to miss everything about his job. The microphone hisses and cuts in and out for “comedic” effect.
    – Big Walnut Tech wins 97-0, which Cindy claims is the largest defeat in school history.
    – Stropp has an emotional goodbye in the locker room, particularly with the television used to view game film.
    – He then heads back to the school for a goodbye party organized by the faculty; Bull, Les, Fred, Ann, Betty, and a couple others are there. The refreshments consist of a box of saltines.
    – Stropp is given a parting gift by the faculty, a ream of copier paper.
    – Heading down to his office one final time, he wistfully pauses at a trophy case and reminds himself that, while he never won a game, he did bring Westview a state championship one year due to a string of forfeits and that no one could take that away from him.
    – An official from the state high school athletics commission appears behind him, telling him that they have changed their rules and that championships by forfeit no longer count. The official then literally takes the state championship trophy away from Stropp.
    – After all of this, Stropp arrives at his (former) office to find Bull sitting at what used to be his desk. He shakes Bulls hand and wishes him good luck.
    – Bull wins games the next season, and a district title 2 years later.
    – The Unofficial Funky Winkerbean Fan Page describes Stropp as being “last seen working at a Foot Locker”.

    So, no, the school surely could not care less about affording Coach Stropp any respect. Batiuk used him for target practice when he was living, why would he stop now that he has killed Stropp off?

  9. Epicus Doomus

    billytheskink: Just awesome and yet more proof that SoSF is without a doubt THE source for REAL FW information and history, unlike that heavily retconned crap you’ll find elsewhere on the web if you look really, really hard. The hated gym teacher/football coach feels Batiuk’s vicious wrath on the way out the door…”you laughing at Les Moore now, Stropp? Heh heh HA!”. This AuthorGuy sure carries one mean grudge.

  10. This is beyond the pale. Batiuk WANTS people to think “Oh, dear. Even in death, Big Walnut can’t allow Coach Stropp any sort of victory” but instead has us thinking “What kind of asshole leaves junk all over the field?” and “When the Hell is the bitter asshole writing the strip going to get over being told he’s physically inept?”

  11. sgtsaunders

    Ol’ Tomboy is writing now, using a technique called “foreshadowing”. Say it with me: “foreshadowing.” The “snap” of the pennant support stick will be transposed and magnified a thousand-fold tomorrow when Bull snaps and begins a murderous week-long rampage.

  12. Rusty Shackleford

    So why did they Cindy and Mason on Sunday? How much longer can Batty milk this story?

  13. What’s weird is that BanTom actually showed this happening. It’s inexplicable, of course, that a tiny pennant could make someone trip and fall, even someone with the bizarrely tiny shoes portrayed in panel 2; but we saw it happen, and were mercifully spared just hearing Les talk about it.

    When BanTom really hates someone, like the sportos Bull Bushka and Jack Stropp, he spares no effort. And so I say this is as good as a Funky Winkerbean strip can get. This is the best BanTom has to offer in his 45th year on the job.

  14. “The Big Lebowski”?

    Now I want Bull to storm over to BWT’s campus and show them what happens when they fuck a stranger in the ass…

    While we’re at it, I also want Cindy and Masone to re-enact “Logjammin'”

  15. Since when were BWT colors Red/White? I’m pretty sure those are Westview colors?? So whose fucking pennant is that?

  16. Bobby Joe

    The urn isn’t empty for gawd sake. Just pick it up and finish the job you clumsy oaf.


    This would be perfect if Bull tripped and his neck was broken along with turn. Then his remains could be put in with Jock Stropps in an urn that waits for the next Westview coach to kill himself in this ashes dispersing ritual.

  18. Comic Book Harriet

    @Gerard Plourde
    That, of course, assumes that Coach Stropp was cremated by a licensed mortician. Not baked to ashes in the Westview art room’s kiln and stored in some kid’s rejected pottery project.

  19. Professor Fate

    Thank you for the Beast of Yucca Flats call out by the way. Francis Coleman’s work had an almost FW level of bleakness to it. Along with folks being shot at from light planes and coffee.
    In the strip – I’m not even sure how he trips over the flag, pennant what ever – unless it bit him on the ankle when he stepped on it.
    And this just comes across as just being mean – I remember reading somewhere than an Author has to love all this characters even the evil ones otherwise the reader will be put off by the sense of judgement being pushed on them. the reader not the author is the one allowed to hate characters.
    here it is clear that the Author hates Bull or whoever Bull was based on and it shows. There is nothing organic about Bull dropping the urn it’s just slapped in here – I mean if in high school he was a wide receiver who dropped passes maybe he could have been remembering that and then dropped the ashes, that would be funnier and have a bit of real emotional impact especially as Bull remembered being yelled at by the coach while putting the ashes back in the urn.
    I mean Schultz was amazingly mean to Charlie Brown in the strips of the 60’s but it was clear he liked Charlie Brown and as a character Mr. Brown kept his hopeful outlook despite massive setbacks and kept trying which of course made each setback both funny and painful at the same time.
    there isn’t a character in FW that has anything like this – even Les who nowadays has rose pedals scattered at his feet is whining council of despair.

  20. This is just sick. What should’ve been a heartfelt moment has turned into silliness for no apparent in order to try to get a cheap laugh. Instead we get more of Batiuk sick, twisted idea of comedy. It was as if “Schindler’s List” had ended with “Springtime for Hitler.”

  21. The flag had nothing to do with Bull’s collapse. He just got hit in the neck with a tranquilizer dart from the Montoni’s drone.

  22. Having called it yesterday (like only about half the people who read this strip), I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that tomorrow we’ll find Bull’s third-panel collapse in fact has nothing at all to do with that flag–in fact, he just suffered an ultimately fatal stroke. How long it will take him to die from the stroke, of course, will depend on the Pulitzer committee’s response…

  23. ComicTrek

    Either that, or they’re going just to stand around lamenting Coach’s ashes, make dumb jokes, and finally scatter him across the field or something. Or maybe there’s a treasure map or some kind of note inside. Heck, for all we know, it could be that Jack Stropp invented a cure for CTE!

    I can see it now: “If you are reading this, then congratulations, you are the *%!*#@ doofus who has dropped my ashes. You may be Bull Bushka. Are you Bull Bushka? Anyway, I heard someone on the news the other day say that there’s some research being done about a brain disease out there affecting sports players….”