So the “soul” of Montoni’s is customers eavesdropping and breathing on one another from adjacent booths? Again, Funky’s main concern here isn’t with the PEOPLE affected by the pandemic, but for the actual building itself, which is really odd. It’s a pizzeria, thus its “soul” is those big ovens where the pizza is made, as without those he has nothing. Now that things here in the good ol’ USA are slowly returning to normal this one seems kind of dated already but hey, if Funky didn’t have anything to complain about he’d be filling those forty-two extra weeks with Les arcs or something, so there is that. Sometimes you just gotta find the upside, I suppose.
Heart Of Plexiglass
Filed under Son of Stuck Funky
51 responses to “Heart Of Plexiglass”
I would REALLY love to know when exactly Batiuk was writing these. Because if he wrote them a year ago when cases were surging and more and more people were dying and he thought that having Funky moaning that having to put plastic between booths in a pizzeria was too high a cost to pay, that’s really amazing.
We’ve yet to see how or even if the pandemic affected his employees, who, after all, are supposed to be his friends. Instead his only focus seems to be on cosmetic changes to his pizzeria, which could explain why his only friends are people he pays. He’s standing there, at an AA meeting no less, spilling his guts about how a big national crisis affected his pizzeria’s decor and ambience. I mean I know what he was going for here, but as usual that has no bearing at all on what’s actually happening.
One local restaurant covered their dividers with canvas and invited local artists to come in and paint them. It was beautiful. The customers liked it so much they decided to keep them.
But change is never good in this strip. Batty expects the world to stay as it was in 1972 when he launched this strip.
Fear of change is a constant in Funky Winkerbean. Unless it’s actually a difficult change, in which case it’s completely glossed over. Funky needs weeks to come to terms with objects in his restaurant or house being moved. Becky loses an arm at age 18 and has never once had an emotion about it.
I’m pretty sure the soul of Montoni’s is in the band box. Unless he removed that too? “We can’t hang a decoration over the front door anymore! COVID reasons!”
I think you just predicted Saturday’s finale. Or will it be a Sideways Sunday panel? Either way I hope we get to see Satan taking the soul of Montoni’s and telling Beelzebub “This is the perfect torment for the seventh circle!”
I’m taking bets on “The Band Box Dolls are all wearing tiny masks.”
I don’t know, that might be cute as long as it’s not presented as more whining.
Had he asked me, I would have told him to skip COVID and just carry on with his usual crap, as no one would care. But he didn’t ask me, and obviously he had some awards to chase. Beats me what he things these episodes will win for him.
I couldn’t possibly agree more. Absolutely no one would have noticed or cared. He could have done one pandemic-related Sunday strip and it would have been way more than enough.
I’m sure someone’s said this before, but there could have possibly been real drama in Montoni’s actually being closed (even though pizza places are probably the restaurants best suited to adapt to no in-person dining). But instead Batiuk decided to show the seriousness of COVID by highlighting how it made pizzerias put up plastic and move stools and jukeboxes, which is another way to go.
Know what Bathack has missed here? Because it would involve actual human interactions? It’s the sort of customers who showed up in the early weeks of the pandemic and started screaming about the inconveniences they had to endure. And the way clerks, cashiers and servers had to deal with them. (One supermarket worker told me people were screaming at her because she didn’t keep the shelves stocked with toilet paper. A cashier listed the things that were selling out–toilet paper, meat, milk, canned goods, batteries, and eggs. Some people bought dozens of eggs. She laughed when I wondered how they could use them all before they went bad.)
Maybe Batty could handle part of that, given that so many of his regular characters are jerks. But I can’t see him showing anyone in the service sector responding with good grace.
FW often contains all kinds of weird psychological clues it’s best not to pursue too deeply, lest one gets sucked down the BatYam rabbit hole. The hole doesn’t lead anywhere, by the way.
Yeah, sure, he could have cranked out an award-nominated arc where Funky and company struggle to keep up with unprecedented pizza delivery demand and deal with panicked local jerks. It would have practically written itself, in fact. I mean how do you f*ck up a FW arc about pizza, right?
Answer: when the nostalgia-obsessed quadrant of your brain (in his case around 70% or so) takes over and you start fetishizing the treasured minutia of your long-ago youth and bemoan how it’s no longer exactly as you remember it. That darned pandemic, with its pathogens and guidelines and all, has slightly altered the constants of Funky’s (read: TomBat’s) life, which he simply cannot deal with. The stools are gone, the jukebox has been moved, the stalls have partitions and everything that Funky believed in has been irrevocably ruined. At least that’s how it reads to me.
It’s like Funky has severe autism. He talks about his stupid jukebox like Rain Man talked about Judge Wopner. Even though its functionality is easily replaced, he can’t deal with it not being there. And he hasn’t even mentioned Montoni’s precious band box this week. Even though the band box has been the object of so much nostalgia fetishizing in the past.
And where does Funky get off declaring what the soul of his business is? Isn’t it customers who decide that?
Despite my quip above, I’d say that the “soul” of a small neighborhood business lies with its people. If there’s anything that sets Montoni’s apart from that Pizza Hut by the freeway off-ramp, it’s the bonds of fellowship between the owners, long-time employees, and regular customers.
If this storyline was any good, it would end with Funky seeing his friends walk into Montoni’s for the first time in months, and realizing that physical objects aren’t important compared to seeing and serving the people he cares about. But that’s not going to happen.
(Seriously. I already peeked ahead at Saturday’s strip. It’s not going to happen.)
I think “soul” is such a deeply human concept that it doesn’t work as a metaphor for something artificial like a business. People don’t use the word that way. We have soul food and soul music, but that’s about it. And even then, the word “soul” largely means that it has African-American roots. “Montoni’s was missing its heart” or “Montoni’s was missing its personality” would be a much better word choice here. Even “spirit” would be a little better.
What is the soul of a restaurant anyway? What is the soul of Olive Garden? What is the soul of your favorite local food truck? There isn’t one. Soul is too lofty a concept for something as artificial as a restaurant.
But Batiuk chose the word “soul” because he thinks it sounds epic. And he doesn’t think through what it implies. To say that a business is “missing its soul” sounds like they made a horrible ethical choice, not that they removed a friggin’ jukebox. Ford Motor Company was missing its soul when it decided that paying off victims was cheaper than fixing its horribly defective Pinto cars.
This is a question I’d love to ask Tom Batiuk. “What is the soul of Montoni’s restaurant?” No snark, no sarcasm, just an honest question. Batiuk wrote an arc saying that Montoni’s has a soul, and is capable of losing it. So what is it exactly?
One aspect of this week that I think hasn’t gotten enough attention is Funky’s utter contempt for his fellow AA copers. Does he honestly think that none of them experienced similar, if not exactly identical, hardships to his during the Pandemic? They–presumably–were hunkered down in a locked-down Westview, sheltering at home, cut off in many cases from work, friends, and loved ones, their daily routines interrupted, and facing a somewhat ominous future. And I’ll bet most of them tried to order touchless delivery or pick-up meals from their favorite local eateries (not Montoni’s, of course, or else they’d already know what the place looked like). Why does he feel he has to describe the minutiae of his decontamination procedure to them in such excruciating detail? And has that table they’re gathered around been there all week?
It really is as if he is explaining this to people who have no experience of the pandemic. Is this set in 2061?
Oh. I get what Funky is whining about now. Reno at home. Reno at work.
How about taking inventory of what craptacular public speaker you are. How about renovating your speech skills. Ever hear of Toastmasters? Toastmasters exists for the purpose of promoting communication, public speaking, and leadership. Judging by Funky’s ample gut he probably thinks Toastmasters is a cooking school dedicated to the browning of bread products.
I initially read that as “dead products” and thought, yeah, in this strip.
Just think, when this miserable week is finally over the strip will most likely switch its focus back to Harry Dinkle and his marching ego.
I think Batiuk’s long game is he wants us all begging for Les Moore to return. Nope. Uh-uh. No way. Not happening.
Watching Les trying to teach during a pandemic has the potential to be amusing, but it would probably end up being excruciatingly painful. Then you might have Cayla at the next AA meeting.
Except you wouldn’t watch it. You’d watch Les talking about it.
Now you’ve done it. The Les Moore summoning spell has just been cast. Noooo! USA!
That has to be the long game, because everybody made fun of “LA made Lisa feel insignificant and now they must DIE” last year.
Nah, with Gross John being in the masthead with his typical woe-is-me face on, next week is undoubtedly going to be someone showing up at his shop to whine with him about something.
The only question is whether they’ll whine together, or separately.
I guess I missed the press conference where Dr. Fauci and the CDC recommended that businesses remove all of their decor. TB caught that press conference, though…
Funny thing. One local restaurant got called out by the county board of health for having fresh flowers.
These strips are pretty damn good, if they’re translated into Klingonese.
And of course, neither whining tub of lard or imbecile artist could possibly anticipate the only possible response to his whimpering: “How can you tell?”
Montonis looked like a pretty cheerless place beforehand.
My thought was yes “the soul of Montoni’s” was gone because it was CLEAN for the first time in years.
God, if you had told me Batiuk could squeeze THREE painful agonizing months (and counting!) of strips which was nothing but Funkman bitching and moaning about TEMPORARY COSMETIC changes to his pizza joint and his kitchen reno, I would have said you were high AF…
This is bad… I mean “Cindye looking at herself in the mirror” bad… I mean “Les/Pete has writer’s block” bad… Or “Sixty year old Bull Bushka playing 1v1 football against a high school rival so he can rewrite history” bad… And the list goes on…
For fuck’s sake at least give us some storylines where SOMETHING ACTUALLY HAPPENS! This wouldn’t be so awful if Funkenstein was an entertaining storyteller, but we all know he’d be even duller in person than he is on the comics panel
And we don’t even know why! For all Funky’s whining about his damned “reno”, he never once told us why he was unhappy. Was it more than they could afford? Did it involve moving or discarding things that had sentimental value for him? Did it make the decor too feminine, or otherwise unacceptable to him? We don’t even know what the renovation changed, so we can’t even speculate! Man, Funky Winkerbean really keeps its readers in the dark, except for its characters’ incessant whining, nostalgia trips, and comic book minutiae.
“Won’t someone think of the buildings?” asks Mr. Awards-Chaser.
“Montoni’s was missing its soul.”
One can’t miss what one doesn’t possess. Unless by “soul” TomBa means the chronic lack of customers (except for Harry guzzling coffee with his pizza), the idle staff and the ubiquitous green pitcher.
This could have been an *almost* cromulent arc if it had been told in flashbacks, wherein the usual Montoni’s denizens came in and encountered these restrictions. I know that the few times I went out to eat during the pandemic, it was weird. I was costantly reminded of the pandemic by having everyone’s temperature taken before we could sit, everyone wearing masks, having to give names and phone numbers for contact tracing, etc. He could have shown, not told, the dreary weirdness of the situation, the sense of “nothing’s ever gonna be the same,” through the eyes of the regulars, one by one.
He could have tied it into alcoholism by describing how the tension and despair of the long months almost drove him to drink. (And commented on how even in the strictest areas, liquor stores remained open as an ‘essential business.’) We could have seen flashbacks to how the loneliness and isolation of quarantine tempted him to relapse, but Wig Funky, or perhaps memories of how drinking helped wreck his first marriage, coaxed him back from the edge.
He could even have done an absurdist take by riffing on the toilet paper shortage and food hoarding.
Or, you know, he could have this: Funky doing an excruciatingly boring, tone deaf, irrelevant, unfunny, incoherent, solipsistic self-pitying comedy/bathos schtick in front of a captive audience now losing the battle to maintain their sobriety.
Downvote me if this is an over-share, but I was in a Zoom AA meeting last night, and when it was his turn, one person started telling a very detailed story about…what happened when they were in line at Chipotle that afternoon. As it went on I thought, “oh my God, it’s happening, this is a real-life Funky-style monologue and I’m being karmically punished for ragging on Batiuk and his strip!” In real life, however, the person wrapped it up in about three minutes and actually did have a point to make. Moral: you really can talk about a restaurant at an AA meeting and not make everyone miserable. But not in the emotional wasteland that is Batiuk’s Westview.
In fairness, Funky’s speech is probably only three minutes long in-universe. We’re the ones who have been here all week.
Fair enough. Still, we all know that he will go on and on like this, but will never actually make a point, or make this story meaningful in any way – that’s the real crime, as the hippies say. (Plus the casual cruelty of the whole thing that others have rightfully pointed out)
Hey, Funky! Here’s a great menu idea that’ll save you some money too. This Ohio restaurant is serving cicada pizza. Montoni’s has always had an abundance of big brown swarming bugs — why not put them to use?
Funkface has spent a week detailing the excruciating minutiae of Montoni’s Covid reno. But I’m still confused. I’ll try to piece it together. At the beginning of the pandemic, they had a thriving delivery business. But Funky didn’t like that because it was like Zooming pizza or something. So they did the reno to reopen Montoni’s, but Funky didn’t like that because he had to remove some stuff, including the restaurant’s VERY SOUL. So their delivery business is better than ever, and the restaurant reopened for indoor seating. And this is a tale of woe. I’m still confused.
One of the most awful features of the pandemic was how it disproportionately affected the very old, and people in nursing homes. We all read the heartbreaking stories of grandmas dying alone, because their family was not allowed to visit them.
It seems about 75% of the characters in the Funkshaftiverse are over 60, a couple are pushing 100, and there are at least two nursing home residents.
If he really wanted dramatic Pulitzer bait, exploring the nursing home/visiting ailing relatives angle could have provided it. I suppose we should be grateful he’s either too cowardly or too out-of-the-loop to do an arc on a serious topic like this, because you know he’d mangle it.
Yeah there are so many topics he could explore that are covid related. I’m surprised he didn’t use covid as an excuse to kill off more characters.
PS: I have a friend who is a band director and I asked her how she handled remote learning and it was very interesting. I’m not going to post it here as Batty can do his own research.
Does he ever talk to his band director friends?
Last week, I went to see a dance recital at a renowned dance company, and the person who runs the studio mentioned that they had been rehearsing all year for these group pieces, but they had only rehearsed *once* together as a troupe, live. She described how she would coach the dancers over Zoom. “Okay, now reach your arm to — uh, to where your bureau is. And your leg should be as high as the top of your TV there, and hold, hold, hold, and now down to the height of the lower shelf of the bookshelf.”
You’re right. It is interesting how people got around the COVID restrictions. And I’m not worried Batty is going to steal any of our ideas — on the contrary, I wish he’d steal just one thing from any of these comments. It would improve his work 1000%.
Cowardly. Any time a Funky Winkerbean arc might have real emotional weight, Batiuk cuts away from it as quickly as possible. Skipping 10 years after Lisa died is the ur-example. Lisa takes seven years to die, then one week later Les and Summer are ten years older and perfectly well-adjusted. They never had to deal with being a widower, adolescence without a mother, the loss of her lawyer income, or anything at all.
If you want to be charitable, you could think that this story sort of represents a view of all everyone’s lost. That you look at Funky’s loss and realize that loss is something he shares with everyone else. You can look at his grieving and extend it to the grieving of everyone who’s lost something in the pandemic. It’s like you focus a story on someone coming back after a nuclear attack to grieve his home being obliterated, and then the camera pulls back to reveal that everything in his small town has been obliterated as well. His pain represents everyone’s pain.
But that’s not what Batiuk’s doing here, because he never once acknowledges anyone else’s suffering. Hell, Funky doesn’t even acknowledge the effect these changes had on his customers. It’s all about his feelings.
Plus, that’s just not what Batiuk does. He doesn’t do universal suffering. He instead focuses on his characters’ singular suffering. The loss of Lisa makes Les’s suffering unique and special. No one else who has lost a relative to cancer has suffered like he has.
But also, the simple fact that the subject of this grievance is a god damn pizza restaurant having to adjust its decor would really trivialize the things other people have gone through if it was supposed to represent their pain as well. You lost your parents in the pandemic. I couldn’t go to the spa once a week because of the pandemic. Clearly, we’re the same. We’ve both suffered!
Run #47! Run like the wind!
I’m just grateful not to see the Dinkles make the beast with two backs. Although it may just be a reprieve.
Mr. Batiuk is doing an immense disservice to alcoholics anonymous. He is depicting meetings as bullshit sessions, rather than good people with an illness of mind and body discussing a blueprint for life once the drink or other drug is put down.