Hitting the route notes

I suppose we have the consolation that today’s strip is not nearly as terrifying as Dinkle’s last music directing dream. That’s not much, but we have to take what we can get here.

So this group really is a “Gospel” choir? That wasn’t just a set up for last month’s “gossip choir” joke? Look, I’m not saying that a choir of interchangeable old white midwestern women in what appears to be a staid mainline Protestant church cannot sing a genre of music that is most strongly associated with (often) male feature performers in southern evangelical or (particularly) Black churches. Unexpected as it might be, of course they can. What I’m saying is that I don’t think TB has any idea that Gospel music is an actual genre of music itself and not simply another term for “hymns” or “church music”.

Unfortunately for TB and for us, music is not like a choir loft. It can’t be researched by taking a photo of it and e-mailing it to Chuck Ayers.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

45 responses to “Hitting the route notes

  1. Epicus Doomus

    Dinkle is a joyless monster who lives to satiate his own warped ego by forcing others to perform and sell inferior products door to door to finance his deranged power trips. Everyone involved is totally miserable, except him. And mind you, he’s supposedly the town’s main “music guy”, which makes it even more disturbing and telling. This arc couldn’t possibly have had less to do with music, which I suppose is to be expected given how it’s written by a guy whose favorite musical genre is “marching band”. Sigh.

    • The Duck of Death

      And it couldn’t have less to do with church, or worship, or gospel in any sense of the word. Harry’s “higher power” is Harry L. Dinkle, the World’s Greatest Band Leader, full stop.

  2. J.J. O'Malley

    I feel certain that the St. Spires ladies will do for gospel music what Pat Boone did for “Tutti Frutti.”

  3. billytheskink

    Let me guess, they are singing beloved Gospel classic “Mr. Whole Note Takes A Walk”, right?

  4. Banana Jr. 6000

    Dinkle’s been in the Rose Parade! At least three times, by my count! And he was a complete jackass each time. He’s demanded to be the grand marshall, made the Westview band march and play backwards, and commandeered someone else’s float to make them play the music he thought they should play:

  5. Mela

    Well, Dinkle is actually scheduled to be in the actual 2022 Rose Parade. I still get occasional marching band info on my Facebook feed and have seen promotions trying to gather marching band directors from all over North America to participate. T. Batiuk and Dinkle are tied into it as well, so perhaps today’s strip is a very roundabout way of foreshadowing.

    • Gerard Plourde

      Until I saw your post, I had no idea what this could possibly be about, but I think you’re on target. The link you provided mentions that the band comprised of directors from all over the country will be preceded by an animated float. (I’d wager heavily that we all know who the animated figure will be.) And, no surprise, the foundation that’s sponsoring this is based in Ohio.

      Between OMEA, Dinkles Marching Shoes, and his excursions into his Flash comics vault, it’s no wonder that he has so little time for his strips.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Thanks for the heads up. I am a former band geek so I will definitely be watching this.

      Dinkle is Batty’s best character. He would probably say Lisa, but only Dinkle and Crankshaft were able to break out of the strip and hold their own. But once Batty made the shift to telling real (Pulitzer chasing) stories, He should have abandoned Dinkle as he no longer makes sense in the reality of the strip today. Of course, he still has to pander to band directors for some reason and so here we are.

      By the way, who is that in the masthead?

  6. I’m curious as to why this is depicted as a dream. Indulging Dinkle as the greatest thing ever (even greater than Les!) seems to be Batiuk’s goal. So why isn’t this real? It can’t be Batiuk holding back, saying “Whoa, this needs to be tethered to reality” because he’s never done that with Dinkle. Dinkle is the greatest and most awesome person who has ever existed on this earth–and if the ladies in the St. Spire church could see this, they would insist that the church turn its focus from Jesus and God and Christianity and pivot to Dinkle as the one true god.

    I can’t believe this was “one hill too many” for Batiuk,

    • Mr. A

      I think the main obstacle is that the strip is running in April, and the Rose Bowl is on January 1st.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      Knowing that we’re getting a Dinkle float next year, I’m guessing that this is setting up for Dinkle getting the itch to direct in the Rose Bowl parade, “One Last Time.” Cue a months long arc of Dinkle pondering about it, working towards it, culminating in him leading a mixed marching band of all of his former students for one last superlative shot at glory.

      It’ll be like Rocky Balboa the movie, except unbearable.

  7. Hitorque

    If I were still a devout christian (raised baptist), I’d be pretty fucking offended that the Big Dink flagrantly took this job just to celebrate his own glory and not the Lord’s because he’s clearly forgotten the *SOLE* purpose of a gospel choir is to praise God…

    But that’s just me…

    • billytheskink

      As you said, Dinkle is doing this flagrantly, he isn’t even trying to hide his intentions.

      As someone who is a devout Christian and long-time Baptist church member, I’m well aware that we come up short of what we should be on the regular… but Dinkle? At my church and at most I’m familiar with, he would have likely been told “no thanks” because his priorities and his attitude are in such conflict with the mission of even a well-flawed church body.

      • Hitorque

        The ironic part is I’ve known some churches who put up with diva musical directors or performers who thought they were ‘bigger than jesus’… The only difference is the music or sound they create is so beautiful to the point where congregations and clergy just put up with the headaches…

  8. BigDickJohnson

    I started following this site because the reactions to this comic were really funny, now I really despise most of the characters and, to me, this guy is the absolute worst.

  9. Lord Tennis, Anyone?

    To sleep perchance to dream.

    To read this strip perchance to scream.

  10. Rusty Shackleford

    Check out BattyBlog. He is going to rerun an old May 4th arc that ran in Crankshaft to commemorate the Kent State shootings. But I am thankful he doesn’t do this every year…really surprised he doesn’t.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      That blog post tells us that someone else gave Tom Batiuk the idea of addressing the anniversary of the Kent State shootings; that the strips were already written, because they’re reruns from Crankshaft; that it was too late to run them in 2020, even though Batiuk famously has an 11-month lead time; and that both he and Chuck Ayers were at Kent State when it happened.

      Which means… he forgot.

      Tom Batiuk forgot the 50th anniversary of the Kent State shootings.

      Simple as that. He admits it himself in this blog post. There is no other explanation.

      Now go read his infamous blog post about his hatred of the 1960s Batman TV show. He sure remembered that, didn’t he? He remembers the name of the room he went to, where he was sitting, the names and times of the six programs that aired before it, and his feelings in great detail. Kent State shootings? Oh, yeah, that happened.

    • billytheskink

      You can get a head start if you want by reading that whole story arc on an old Tripod site… or the Daily Kent Stater archives if you want the an incomplete run of the strips in black and white for some reason.

      You get all the hits!
      – Crankshaft and Jff (in his terribly unfortunate John Sebastian phase) arguing about the Vietnam War.
      – Crankshaft telling his grandchildren that their father was a dirty war-protesting hippie.
      – Timmy Meckler, son of Crankshaft’s best friend Ralph Meckler, who had the misfortune of both being part of the national guard detachment at Kent State AND later being killed in Vietnam.
      – Jessica’s murdered father John Darling reporting live from Kent State
      – Jff’s younger sister Jan, future wife of Jessica’s murder father John Darling, calling her future husband “cute” when she sees him on TV… to Jff’s understandable disgust.
      – Max Murdoch getting bored with his mother’s reminiscence about the Kent State shooting and asking if they can stop at a CD store on the way back to Centerville.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        My God. Is Batiuk really going to re-run all five weeks of that shit?

      • Rusty Shackleford

        Ah so the typical intelligent, even handed, well balanced and thought provoking writing that Batty is known for.

        Ok, I spit out my own coffee.

      • Bad wolf

        Wow, following hot on the heels of his post blaming recently-deceased Rush Limbaugh for the OKC bombing, we get… this.

        TB still hasn’t really noticed that the boomers fixed nothing and the country is falling apart, has he

        • Rusty Shackleford

          Oh you will never see Les say “Maybe it was all just for show, to fit in, to be cool, because our generation is running things now. But look nothing has changed, the violence, the wars, we meddle with other countries more than ever. We learned nothing from the events of May 4.”

          Funky: “FU Les, you sold out years ago.”

          • Bad wolf

            TB does mention the coincidence of his “USA!” arc with the Olympic Park bombing… one can only wonder if (how?) history will repeat itself with another Nat Guard shooting, riot, campus unrest, etc etc this spring

            I wouldn’t bet against it

      • Mr. A

        I just read through the arc and, I’ll be honest, I thought it was pretty good. The real events are of course tragic, and the dramatic irony of Crankshaft not knowing how closely Pam was involved gives it an extra kick.

        I wonder: would feel as positive towards it if I had to read it a day at a time, on this blog, with myself and everyone else commenting on it? Blasting through a whole arc in one go is a very different experience.

        • Mr. A

          *would I feel as positive towards it

          • Gerard Plourde

            Having been a junior in high school in 1970, there is a an undeniable connection that those strips evoke in me. What I find interesting is that the most powerful strips are the wordless, active ones that go completely against the usual “tell don’t show” fare we’re regularly served. Ayers was on campus that day. I wonder if it’s primarily his work we’re seeing here.

        • Rusty Shackleford

          I agree, it is one of his better arcs. I like how he shows each generation’s reaction to the event.

          • Mela

            Agreed. It is very well done. I do wonder if Pam ever told her kids later (perhaps when they were older) on how close she really was to the action.

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            I’ll ask a different version of Mela’s question: why didn’t Pam announce right then that she was deeply involved in the events of May 4, 1970?

            There was no reason not to. Pam is almost 50 years old. She has a nearly college-aged child. She doesn’t have to hide her opinions from Daddy anymore. She’s trying to teach her children a lesson about what happened at Kent State. Why keep it a secret?

            Go to cartoon #29. Imagine that after Crankshaft says “it’s a good thing your mother was home studying”, Pam had simply said “No.” And then announced what we saw in the flashback: that she was on the ground, with an armed guardsman over her, fearing for her life. All because she was taking photographs. And that cranky old Ed was hearing this for the first time. Which would force them all to re-examine the event. Wouldn’t that have been a powerful story?

            Well, it didn’t happen, and it didn’t happen for two reasons:

            1. Tom Batiuk is a hack.
            2. Tom Batiuk has been a hack his entire career.

            Whenever one of his stories gets close to having any real emotional weight, he runs away from it as fast as possible. Batiuk does whatever he can to keep the story superficial. He doesn’t even give Pam a line justifying why she’s still hiding this from her father. She doesn’t hide things from him the rest of the time!

            So many Funky Winkerbean arcs avoid what they claim to be about. The gay prom story revolved around nameless, faceless teens who never even speak a line, and who are spoken of as theoretical concepts. The CTE arc had almost nothing to do with CTE. After Lisa finally died, and Les had to adjust to being a single parent, what did Batiuk do? He skipped ahead ten years! So Les never has to suffer, adapt, or grow the hell up.

            Tom Batiuk is the kid who tells you he’s a better swimmer than anyone. But all you ever see him do is run up to the edge of the pool and not jump in.

          • Gerard Plourde

            Banana Jr. 6000,

            I agree that the Pmm framing story is weak. The parts that have punch for me are the wordless (or practically wordless) strips that show Pmm’s recollections because they resonate with the experience that the county and especially those of us whose lives could be most directly affected were going through.

            Here’s the potential story of Timmy Meckler that was left on the table (but could resonate with Ayers’ and Batiuk’s contemporaries):

            First some background -The draft law was changed in 1969 to a lottery system to begin in 1970 and affecting only 19 year-olds. Most deferments, including the 2S deferment for full-time college students, were eliminated. A classmate of mine’s birthdate was pulled 39 (out of 365), so he was certain that he’d be drafted (even though it was 1972 and the war was winding down). He enlisted in the Navy Reserve to forestall being drafted. That choice also allowed him to continue his college studies while serving and only delayed his graduation by a year because his service was one weekend a month and two weeks of annual training every summer. National Guard service obligations are the same. The first lottery was drawn on December 1, 1969.

            Now, imagine Timmy Mackler is 19 and his birthday is a low number. He knows that if he enlists in the Ohio National Guard his life will suffer the least disruption and he’ll avoid going to Vietnam. If he enlisted in December 1969, he’d have been through basic training before May, so it would be plausible that his unit would have been activated for Kent State. The actions on May 4 could plausibly have prompted him to transfer to active duty out of guilt.

            I’ll agree with you that its weakness is that it asks a lot of readers who don’t share the experience to fill in the blanks.

          • Banana Jr. 6000


            I don’t think the framing story is that bad… for 2000. But it’s horribly outdated now. Those high school kids have since grown up and become adults, in what’s supposed to be a realistic world. And the “CD player” crap is abysmal. Those didn’t exist in 1970 and they don’t exist now. But I agree with you that Pam’s flashback story does have some emotional weight to it.

            Beyond that, I’ll wait and see what Batiuk does. He doesn’t even say if the re-run will occur in Funky Winkerbean or Crankshaft. It would make a lot more sense in the latter, and would move it mostly out of the scope of this blog.

          • Mr. A

            @Banana Jr. 6000: I took Batiuk’s blog post to mean that he would be re-running the strip on his blog, not in the papers.

      • Gerard Plourde

        The detail about Ralph’s son is interesting. It was probably never explained how he ended up in Vietnam. Unlike now, during the Vietnam era, it would be very unusual for a National Guard unit to deploy to a war zone. It was only after the draft was inactivated after Vietnam that activation and deployment of those units to active war zones began under the total force integration program.

  11. Banana Jr. 6000

    Batiuk panders to band directors for the same reason Dexy’s Midnight Runners always play “Come On Eileen” at their gigs. It’s the only thing they ever did that worked.

  12. Rusty Shackleford

    Pluggers nailed it in today’s strip with respect to Batty ( and his recent Crankshaft strips).

  13. Rusty Shackleford

    Did Redronin drop by? Seeing some downvotes. That’s pretty unusual here.

  14. Jeff M

    If he uses the word “verisimilitude” one more time in that blog to describe the realism he brings to his strips, I’m going to lose my mind.

  15. Sourbelly

    I notice that in Dinkle’s dream, he is the only person who is happy. So perfect.