My Spouse Lit A Fire Just The Other Day, Tried To Cook A Pizza In An Unusual Way*

Link To Today’s Strip

* Nope, not letting it go.

Linda reading Batiuk’s NYT interview.

“And then I asked my cognitively impaired husband for a bite. So he bit me! (rimshot)”. Apparently Linda’s online support group is all about one-upmanship and exchanging daffy anecdotes about who’s got it worse. Sounds real helpful. No wonder she’s so miserable all the time, even her “my husband is so cognitively impaired…” gags aren’t that good. Leave it to Linda to find the wryest support group on the internet. In any other support group she’d undoubtedly be the wryest by far, but not this one.

“Take my CTE-afflicted husband…please! Why did my CTE-afflicted husband cross the road? He doesn’t remember! But seriously folks, is this thing on?”

This weird mix of weak sad gags and unbearable human misery has always been FW’s stock in trade but man, it sure does take a terrible toll on the readers. Perhaps he feels that by zany-ing things up a little it’ll increase the dramatic impact when Bull dies. And maybe it would have, if he didn’t go and spoil the whole story for no good reason like an imbecile. But alas, we’ll never know.

48 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

48 responses to “My Spouse Lit A Fire Just The Other Day, Tried To Cook A Pizza In An Unusual Way*

  1. billytheskink

    Eh… still better than Montoni’s.

    Panel 3 describes most FW strips… at least at my house.

  2. Banana Jr. 6000

    So Linda is spending the last moments of Bull’s life reading Reader’s Digest: The Lighter Side of CTE. Great.

  3. ComicTrek

    You can almost hear Batom as he’s writing this stuff down. “Pizza = old Funky humor! That ought to shut ’em up about the ‘comic’ not being ‘funny’.” This is all just so lame.

  4. It’s terrible in every way, except entertainingly so.

  5. AmigoLupus

    The frustrating thing is that you can easily make this lame part of the story better just by having the support group actually be, you know, supportive. Have them say shit like “Hey, we understand your pain and fear of having your husband forget things” or “We think you’re brave and we’re here for you”. It’d be simple, but uplifting. Batiuk seems to have mistaken levity with inane quips so it just makes Linda’s support group look more like an echo chamber of misery. Which is pretty much an apt description of this stupid comic.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Or the support group could serve as kind of a Greek chorus, giving commentary on the story. Or giving actual insight into the condition, instead of lame jokes about their husbands’ CTE-addled actions.

      Really, this story has nothing more to say than “your husband put cream cheese in the soap dish? My husband put a pizza box in the oven!” God, this is tasteless.

    • Charles

      Most of the problem stems from the fact that Batiuk’s non-pun based humor is almost always mean-spirited. It’s not observational humor or exaggeration. It’s often that one character’s being an idiot or a jerk or contemptible and we’re all supposed to see the humor in that. It’s not gentle. It’s often Les rolling his eyes about the idiot children he teaches. Or Holly rolling her eyes over something stupid her husband said. Or Becky rolling her eyes over something stupid one of her band students did. Whenever the humor isn’t pun-based crap, it almost always has a target of derision, and that’s where the humor’s supposed to come from.

      So it’s particularly ill-suited for one of these serious and tragic storylines. When Batiuk can’t make a joke about how Bull’s damaged brain was no big loss to the world, for instance, he flounders pretty bad trying to come up with a premise.

      • Gerard Plourde

        I agree. The truth is that if TomBa hadn’t disclosed the end prematurely, readers would have gotten all of these “my husband is so impossible” jokes followed immediately by Bull’s suicide. What message are we supposed to get from what’s been revealed? It doesn’t appear that Bull is in any form of counseling (unless you count his time with Buck, who has no known qualifications). Why isn’t that explored? Or an actual strip following Bull around showing what frustrations he encounters in daily life? Or the actual pain that CTE inflicts on sufferers that lead them to take their lives?

        There’s so much more that could have been done beyond “it’s all football’s fault” and the NFL is evil because it won’t compensate my husband who never played for them.”

        This arc is just another example of a good idea (putting a spotlight on CTE is a laudable goal) that ends up not being followed through on.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        This is a great observation. The strip runs on derision and meanness. Which is often directed at people who don’t deserve it, and made by terrible people like Les Moore.

        Bull gets more than his share of this. He gets called a loser for being cut by the St. Louis Cardinals, when just getting that far is a great accomplishment, and more than any of these high school-attached losers have done with their lives. Any praise he gets is backhanded, like “Bull tackles his problems head-on.” Now he’s going to die, and we’ll be subjected to weeks of these same people shoving each other out of the way to be the center of attention at the pity party.

  6. Epicus Doomus

    “You think THAT’S bad? My husband cut out and hung a Crankshaft strip on our fridge door. He thought it was Doonesbury!”

    “OH MY GOD YOU POOR POOR THING! Did he kill himself?”

    “Well duh, obviously.”

  7. AmigoLupus

    Off-topic, but I wanted to point out the thing that really disgusted me about the Butter Brinkel storyline. I know Batiuk’s referencing a specific case with it, but he clearly didn’t think the type of message he’s giving with it. Writing a story about how Big, Bad Hollywood is soooo tough on a poor, straight, white, male celebrity is tacky enough. But when you add how the #MeToo is exposing more and more sex pests and abusive men in Hollywood, the Butter Brinkel story becomes incredibly tasteless.

    • ComicTrek

      Well, you’re not entirely off-topic, because ALL of these storylines are incredibly tasteless!

    • Epicus Doomus

      Even worse is how he totally squandered a gun-toting, cigar-smoking, booze-swilling talking murder chimp. Other than Buddy, Zanzibar was the most compelling new FW character in decades and what’d he do with him? Zilch.

    • Charles

      Keep in mind that the unfairly-treated Butter Brinkle in that story had a lifestyle like Michael Jackson’s while often looking like Harvey Weinstein while the murdered woman wasn’t even given a second thought. Its implications become pretty troubling.

      • 7dials

        I genuinely do not understand how a young woman like Jess is supposed to be could look at a case like (sigh) Butter Brinkel’s and come away from it thinking that the real story here was, essentially, ‘yes, but what about the men?’. Never mind that a young woman was murdered and her killer was never brought to justice, it’s all about the rich older man who was made to look bad because she inconsiderately got herself killed in his home. That’s exactly the kind of vital and timely message that a young woman trying to make a name for herself as a documentarian would want to share with the world: have you considered how inconvenient and embarrassing being suspected of mistreating women is for the men it happens to.

        Actually, no, I take that back. I understand how this could happen perfectly, because the kind of woman Jess actually is? Is one who only exists in the mind of the tone-deaf, out-of-touch old man who created her.

    • Who Wants Eggs!!??!!

      We want talking murder Chimp!

  8. William Thompson

    How long has Linda been on-line this night? Because I get on-line and mom interrupts me. Often. Tonight it took me almost an hour to answer one e-mail, for numerous minor problems too boring to repeat. Unless you’re Batiuk.

    • ComicTrek

      Hours, maybe.

      Because…

      … she reads…

      … like this…

    • ian'sdrunkenbeard

      My beloved Mrs. Drunkenbeard had Alzheimer’s, and I cared for her at home for several years. The knobs from the oven and stove were safely stashed in a drawer. I had to keep an eye on her because she tried to do things that she used to do but were now beyond her capabilities. In some ways, FW is not far off from my experience.

      You mentioned your therapist, William. Here is one of my therapists. Her name is Emilie, and she’s 17 years old.

      What? This isn’t luvmycat.com? Sorry.

      • William Thompson

        Emilie is a beauty.
        Knobs. I just checked; our stove knobs can come off. The oven and microwave oven are both strictly push-button. Turning off their circuit-breakers turns off the refrigerator, too. Right now mom is all too happy to have me cook for her, but if that changes, I’d better prepare.
        Damn. I hate having to learn new things like this all the time.

      • gleeb

        Emilie is deliberately sitting on the newspaper, preventing you from reading Crankshaft. A good cat.

      • timbuys

        Such pretty green eyes on that sweet looking tortie!

  9. William Thompson

    Some quick googling reveals that cardboard won’t ignite at any temperature you can reach with an electric oven. The same goes for a gas oven, unless it’s got exposed flames and the cardboard comes in direct contact with flame. Even then the fluids in the pizza will have to boil off or solidify before you can have much of a fire–and I’m fairly certain that a working oven could contain the fire from a flat cardboard box. There isn’t enough material in the box for a huge, prolonged fire.

    • comicbookharriet

      I hope the CTE sufferer does the same research, so he can find something more flammable for his next attempt.

      • William Thompson

        Batiuk has CTE? Is that what it would take for him to do some research? (It’s a stretch to imagine a fire in a modern oven–why not “My husband grew up with a wood stove on the family farm. Last night he put kindling and wood in our stove, and–” I can’t think of a funny ending for that. That stopped me but it wouldn’t stop Batiuk.)

    • ComicTrek

      Can confirm! I sort of did that once. I’d tried to cook the pizza on top of the box because we had no aluminum foil, or something. Haha! It stunk to high heaven, and I think it filled the oven with some smoke, but there was no fire, and after I took the box away, the pizza itself turned out just fine.

    • Buckeye Feculence

      Baking frozen pizzas, I’ve accidentally not removed the cardboard circle under the pizza a couple of times when putting them in the oven. It smelled a little funny while baking but never came close to igniting.

  10. comicbookharriet

    Maybe Bill is subtly trying to tell you that the facial soap you’re using is too harsh, and you need something more moisturizing.

  11. Paul Jones

    I’m not sure Linda understands how support groups work. Her reaction clearly indicates that she’s thinking “Who is this horrible person and why is she trying to say that her life is worse than mine?”

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      I’m not sure Linda understands how support groups work

      I don’t think Linda understands how support works. To be fair, it’s not something you’d learn in Westview.

  12. Who Wants Eggs!!??!!

    We want talking murder Chimp!

    • Wouldn’t it be great if Zanzibar (TMC) was the one who showed up to usher Bull into the void? I’d find that fairly satisfying.

      • William Thompson

        Even better if he holds up a long list and concludes “One down!”

        • billytheskink

          Bull
          Les
          Dinkle
          Les (just to be sure)
          Linda
          Holly
          Durwood
          Pete
          Jessica
          Anyone in Komix Korner
          Any faculty at the high school

          Or, at least I hope that’s the order.
          Hey, maybe Zanzibar explains Summer and Keisha’s disappearance…

  13. Maxine of Arc

    It’s positive that Linda has at least sought out the worst support group on the Internet, but has she done anything else besides complain to her friends? No sign that she’s tried to find a therapist or an in person group to help her talk through this, or find a skilled carer who can look after Bull while she has a few hours to herself, or anything else she might be doing to actually help herself and Bull.

  14. Banana Jr. 6000

    So… Bull has one day left to kill himself. And he has to do it in a way that the policeman bringing Linda his high school football helmet is meaningful. Seems like all he can do is be seen leaving the house, with the helmet having been taken. Anyone else have ideas how the strip can make this work?

    • timbuys

      I don’t know about anyone else but I can tell you one person who definitely has no ideas how the strip can make this work…

    • CRM114

      His head is still in the helmet because the cop forgot to look?

    • C.W. Major

      My thought is we won’t see him leave, or anything remotely like that. We’ll “find out” when Linda finds out.

      I think the story is “Linda didn’t notice Bull leaving the house because she was sitting in the dark on the computer. Just as she feels like she’s as alone as she can get, she find out what being alone really is.”

      …Maybe?

      • ComicTrek

        I read that it’s supposed to be a “five-panel” sequence that involves Bull “acting on the decision to take his own life”.
        Lovely.

        • William Thompson

          Five panels? He won’t even be able to write a suicide Post-It . . . oh, crap. Linda will spend next week discovering his suicide note, reading it and emoting over it. Tune in the week after that for her to discuss that trauma with Buck, then reading it aloud at Bull’s memorial the week after that.

        • 7dials

          Well, he’d better hurry up and decide to do it. His wife’s been so busy making all this about her that he’s running seriously short of time. And is it just me, or is the way this has been framed going to leave it looking like the thing that finally pushed Bull over the edge was ‘I can’t stand never finding the car keys, so goodbye cruel world’?

          • William Thompson

            That’s the way it looks to me, too. Bull’s one-day rage about the car keys must be Batiuk’s idea of The Warning Sign. Linda will get guilt-shamed because she didn’t realize that this time he would kill himself. There may not even be a suicide note; it may not even be a suicide–if there is a note, the only sign will be an image of Bull sticking his tongue out the corner of his mouth as he writes it.

            The only credible character in this arc is Batiuk himself. He doesn’t realize how exhausting it is to be a caregiver to a dementia patient and he doesn’t know what pushes people into suicide attempts. But that’s typical of every major topic he writes about.