Swings and Messes

Linda, you heartless, Brillo-headed bruja. Bull’s mood swings are part and parcel of his illness. and not anything that he can control. I’m sure it’s no picnic having to deal with him, but at long last, have you left no compassion for your poor husband? Hiding the car keys was a dick move, but can be seen as being motivated by safety concerns. Suggesting that Bull’s moodiness is intentional, and doing so with that smirk, is just so fucking tone deaf.

41 Comments

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41 responses to “Swings and Messes

  1. spacemanspiff85

    This crap with Linda and Buck really only makes sense if you view it like I view her interactions with Les, by assuming they’re having an affair. Looking at the art in the first panel it sure looks like she’s sitting in his lap.

    • Count of Tower Grove

      Since Linda hasn’t put Bull in assisted living we can assume she has developed that sexy Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy fetish.

  2. Epicus Doomus

    Several other commenters had personal experiences related to this arc so I’ll share one today. I had a family member who was stricken by dementia. She would occasionally call people by the wrong name (something she sometimes did even before the dementia but I digress). Another family member would get very upset by this and once insisted she was doing it “on purpose”, which of course she was not, as brain damage is not something you turn on and off at will.

    Linda has always been one of the more cynical characters in the strip but seriously now, the guy has f*cking brain damage. He doesn’t have his mood swings “down”, they’re the by-product of his brain damage. There’s really no reason to constantly try to slip these weak stupid gags into this story arc, as there’s nothing funny about it. Act III in general has frequently suffered from Batom’s weird mix of Act I gags jammed into his “serious” Act III stories but this is just icky.

    And furthermore I would certainly hope she took Bull’s car keys away, as allowing him to drive would be completely insane, seeing how he’s suffering from F*CKING brain damage and all. If you recall, Bull was driving like a lunatic way, way back when this thing first began, she should consider herself fortunate that a “fender bender” is all that happened, as it just as easily could have been vehicular manslaughter, seeing how he has f*cking brain damage and all. Yeesh, what a debacle.

    • spacemanspiff85

      This is one of Batiuk’s worst traits as a writer. When something horrible happens to a person, he doesn’t write about that. He writes all about their spouse. Lisa’s Story is all about how Les suffered when he lost Lisa, and Bull’s Ballad is all about Linda having to endure Bull’s erratic behavior.

      • William Thompson

        And even then, Batiuk gets it wrong. Linda doesn’t seem stressed-out and exhausted enough to be Bull’s long-time caregiver. Or bruised enough, given that CTE can involve violent behavior.

        • spacemanspiff85

          It’s more just how she’d be acting if they were both retired and she had to put up with him being around all the time, really. “He keeps doing laundry, watching his old highlight videos, never leaves the house, and is moody.”

          • William Thompson

            Yeah. It shows the great attention to detail Batiuk has given this arc over the years. Pukelitzer Prize, here he comes!

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          Linda seems way too casual. It doesn’t feel like she’s married to Bull, and it doesn’t feel like she bears the awful weight of this every day. It’s like I’m watching someone do community service.

    • William Thompson

      Taking mom’s car keys from her wasn’t enough. I had a kill switch installed in the car. That way she could find the keys and not do any damage. Her mind was in such bad shape that she’d usually forget she hadn’t been able to start the car. When she remembered, I’d promise her to fix it after I got her some ice cream. It didn’t help her underlying frustration, but it kept her and other people safe.

    • comicbookharriet

      Calling someone by the wrong name merely tells you that you’re categorized in the same place in that person’s brain. You don’t even have to have dementia to do it. My dad, who doesn’t have dementia, sometimes calls me by my sisters’ names and I never take offense. My grandma sometimes calls me by my mother’s name and I take it as a compliment.

      If Bull starts calling Buck ‘Linda’, we’re in for a real treat.

      • Rusty Shackleford

        My great Aunt would always remember me, but not my wife. She would tell me my girlfriend was pretty. I’d say, yes she is, but don’t tell my wife! She would then giggle and make motion that she was zipping her lips.

        My wife gladly played along. I think Auntie remembered my name cause I always smuggled in a highball for her to drink!

    • gleeb

      Yeah, hiding the car keys sounds more like a public health measure.

      • It was a little harsh of me to call hiding the keys “a dick move;” clearly, letting someone drive who’s not in complete control of their faculties puts everyone at risk. I was thinking of how this event was portrayed in the strip:

        …Batiuk once again trying to wring a wry chuckle out of a serious topic. He might as well have gone all out (this is my remixed version):

        • William Thompson

          It’s not a dick move; it’s something everyone tries in this situation. It doesn’t work too well. One of the rare things Batiuk got right about it was “Bull kept looking for the keys.” Mom did the same thing, and she wouldn’t stop looking. That’s when I remembered kill switches. Thirty bucks at AutoZone for their simplest model and mom was out of business. I didn’t have to worry about her driving off if she found the keys–she would go out to the garage, try to start the car, and give up when she decided it was broken.

          (I got the type that goes on the battery. You have to open and shut the hood each time you use it–but there was no way mom could deal with that, so it was perfect. There are fancier switches that can be hidden inside the passenger compartment, if anyone else needs to do this.)

          • William Thompson

            Addendum: You’re right, of course–the real dick move happens each time Batiuk puts his felt-tip pen into action.

  3. billytheskink

    Not wanting to go out much seems like a perfectly reasonable response to living in Westview to me, CTE or no, especially if Komix Korner is not your thing.

    • The Nelson Puppet

      No kidding! Why can’t Batiuk kill off Les, DSH John, Wally, and Dinkle?

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        That’s the way the strip works. Everyone gets cancer except the people you want to get it.

      • William Thompson

        Maybe he’s saving that for the end of the strip. It would keep some lesser cartoonist, if there is such a thing, from spoiling the legacy of the Funkyverse.

  4. William Thompson

    There are times when I could swear my mom’s behavioral changes are deliberate, but I’m told this is a common feature of dementia. She feels herself losing control of life, and she lashes out at the person who’s doing the things for her she used to do herself. She lashes out at other people, too, when they try to get her out of her comfort zone, or suggest she do something. She’ll fight to stay in control.

    That’s what Bull sounds like. “Inside” is safe, familiar territory, with no surprises he can’t handle. “Laundry” is something he can do to gain a sense of accomplishment. Going for a walk with Buck Futt might bring back memories that remind him of what he can’t do any more. Which Batiuk would milk for laughs.

  5. Epicus Doomus

    At first his symptoms were sort of believable. Temper outbursts, loss of coordination and motor skills, unexplained depression. But as it’s gone on his symptoms have become kind of silly. Watching “ER” tapes, obsessing over old football games, repetitive laundering…as far as symptoms of brain damage go those aren’t really that bad.

    I was hoping he’d develop Alzheimer’s distant cousin Beanheimer’s, the degenerative brain condition that manifests itself in adorable old cootism. Ever since the nicotine kick-started Morty Winkerbean’s transformation he’s been nothing but delightful. He’s even mastered jazz trombone. Maybe Linda needs to get Bull some cigars or something.

  6. Paul Jones

    Linda would make more sense as a distant relation coming to visit without really understanding what she’s seeing. Someone who didn’t have to live with it day to day would make the mistake she made.

  7. I know this is way off topic, but what the heck is the deal with Linda’s haircut? That part in her hair is almost an inch wide.

    • William Thompson

      Batiuk only has a few basic facial and body types in his limited repertoire. Hair styles are often the only way to tell if you’re looking at Mindy, Cindy, Jessica, Darrin, Mopey Pete or Becky, for example–and sometimes not even then. When you see that wide part and those golden earrings, you know you’re looking at Linda. Batiuk (and his assistant artists) give more attention to drawing brick walls than they do to characters.

    • billytheskink

      Linda has had that left-side part since she was introduced in the strip. I mean, otherwise, how would you know she’s Latina?…

  8. Rusty Shackleford

    Agh, good story Batty. Bull is just behaving like a child and knows how to use mood swings to get his way.

    Be nice to see Bull get angered and punch Buck in the face telling him to wipe that damn smirk off his face.

  9. Professor Fate

    It’s the depth of compassion and understanding of the caregivers that makes Funky Winkerbean the strip it is.

  10. Gerard Plourde

    I know it’s been remarked on already but Linda’s punchline that Bull “has his moods swings down to an art form” goes beyond clueless to downright offensive. Does TomBa even think about what he’s writing? Anyone with any experience dealing with a person suffering from bipolar disorder or dementia knows that these behavior changes are beyond the person’s control.

  11. Rusty Shackleford

    Oh, I thought she was just another light skinned Afro-American to further help Batty virtue signal. I guess the artwork is crappy enough that it could go either way. But he can brag that his strip is diverse, and that is all that matters. Now give me an award….please!!!

  12. Count of Tower Grove

    As Todd’s smirky storytelling continues, just a reminder that we are still in the midst of National Suicide Prevention Week. If you or someone you know is in dire straits call 1 800 273-8255

  13. Carrie Kube

    For such a “serious” story, how come Batiuk has been ignoring how this has been effecting Bull’s daughter?

    • Count of Tower Grove

      Well, Funky Winkerbean is a strip that covers issues concerning young people in a timely and sensitive matter. N.B. The primary characters in Funky Winkerbean were young forty-five years ago.

  14. timbuys

    So, the Talking Murder Chimp going to kill Bull and frame it up as a suicide? That would be about as narratively satisfying.

  15. Count of Tower Grove

    Yesterday Beckoningchasm made a similar allusion. I replied “I woke this morning having dreamt Zanzibar holding a gun to Bull’s head as he was driving. You and I, my friend, have got to find something else to do!” And yet, I’m still here!