Marred Mount

Link to Today’s Strip

I don’t know what she just bought, but Cayla’s jeans magically manifest on her body between panels one and three. Maybe they slithered up her legs in panel two. Maybe that’s why she looks so shocked.

Anyway, she better run out and get dark sunglasses, wide brimmed hats, and old-timey high collared coats, because she’s going to have to wade through a picket line to get into the Chateau.

Once again, Batiuk writing a year in advance shoots him in the foot. Last September The Hollywood Reporter put out an in depth investigative hit piece on the hotel. After nearly all the staff was laid off due to the pandemic, many were willing to speak out against the hotel for discrimination, harassment, and general mismanagement. The allegations went all the way to the very top, with owner, André Balazs, accused of using the hotel as his own private playground, snorting cocaine, getting drunk, and groping workers.

Since then there’s been regular protests outside the hotel, as well as calls to boycott the business. A movie cancelled a planned film shoot there. Celebrities like Jane Fonda, Alfonso Cuaron, and Lena Headey have all supported the boycott. And when Cersei Lannister is ringing the bell and calling ‘Shame!’ you know it’s gotta be bad.

Not that the controversy has completely killed business, the place looks pretty booked up through the end of September. Sometimes, to my folksy midwestern eye, the entire SoCal area looks like a hyper-charged game of social activism whack-a-mole being played by a manic-depressive. Quixotically clutching their pearls in moral outrage over the living conditions of livestock while snorting cocaine off a dinner plate at a hedonism fueled wrap party.

Shame poor Cayla’s excitement had to be marred by this controversy. I wonder if Batiuk is hoping it will fly under the radar of his normal readers. Then again I wouldn’t be surprised if the last news story Batiuk remembers hearing from the Chateau Marmont is John Belushi’s death.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

50 responses to “Marred Mount

  1. Epicus Doomus

    Eagle-eyed readers will surely notice that the Chateau Marmont was where Les was holed up during the infamous “Lust For Lisa” arc. Those same beady-eyed nitpickers will likewise remember that Cayla did not accompany Les on that trip for reasons unexplained, which seemed peculiar at the time and just as peculiar now.

    But anyhow, look how excitement-starved Cayla is today. Which makes sense, given what little we know about this Act III regular. Lisa had all kinds of wild far-out adventures during Act II, way too many to list here. But here in kinder and gentler Act III she’s mostly just Not Lisa, an affable agreeable doormat who exists to reaffirm Les’ staunch heterosexuality, or so I assume. I mean if Les just lived alone after Lisa croaked and Cayla never existed would the strip be different in any appreciable way? I think the answer is obvious.

    She finally gets an arc where she gets actual dialog, so naturally he decided to use this rare opportunity to reinforce his weird and ancient gender stereotypes…again…by having Cayla go shopping…again. Way to spin a story there. Pulitzer (nominee) Boy. Every time Cayla appears we actually learn less about her. It’s character de-development, which you don’t see every day.

    • billytheskink

      TB is probably having Les and Cayla stay at Chateau Marmont because he already has reference photos of the place and the syndicate wouldn’t let him expense another trip to LA during COVID last year just so he could take pictures of the Hyatt Regency Long Beach.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        “You know what, Les? Jump. Jump, you goddam prick. Jump out the window of your 5000 square foot all-expenses-paid hotel room because those mean old Hollywood people aren’t letting you dictate every frame of the goddam Dead Lisa Movie YOU agreed to let them make! Come on, we both know you’re far too egotistical to deprive the world of your greatness. And who’s going to protect Lisa if you die? Gasp! Why, people might not worship her correctly!”

        “And if you don’t understand that, Les, understand this: if you make one more suicide joke, I’m calling 911 to do a wellness check on you. And then I’m taking you to a mental health professional. Suicidal ideation is a warning sign of serious problems, and you do it all the time. That and your complete inability to deal with your wife’s death is enough to get you put in a rubber room. You’re just doing it to get attention, and I’m not giving it to you anymore. Goodbye, Les.”

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      You remind me of Raymond Chandler’s comment about Ian Fleming that he “disimproved” with each new James Bond book.

      This does not make the Chateau Marmont a mink-lined prison.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      It’s also where the pitch meeting with Cassidy Kerr happened a little over a year ago.

      Apparently the Chateau Marmont is the Montoni’s of Hollywood.

  2. Johnny Culver

    Why did they not wait to shop until they were in LA? Spirit Air charges for baggage, ya know.

  3. Banana Jr. 6000

    I’m imagining Les’ game here. “I know,” he thinks to himself, “I won’t tell Cayla where we’re going and make her ask. Then I’ll tell her all non-chalant like, and she’ll melt like butter.” But it backfires on him in the third panel.

    Every time Les appears, he’s manipulating someone. He’s either pouting to get what he wants, or somehow engineering the situation. And he does this to everyone all the time; being his friend or wife is no protection. Complete sociopath.

  4. Okay, I am about as unfashionable as it is possible to be without turning into a black hole.

    I have no idea why naming the venue would entail another shopping trip. My assumption is that Cayla bought some nice, high-value, suitable-for-meeting-Hollywood-stars clothing. Stylish and elegant.

    But the Chateau Marmot has changed all that. I assume there’s a reason, but I’m baffled as to why her clothing is no longer suitable. I’m hoping it isn’t just another “women and their shopping LOL amirite” thing.

    Does the Chateau Marmot require funny hats?

    • J.J. O'Malley

      “Does the Chateau Marmot require funny hats?” No, that would be the Chateau Marmoset, where the staff and guests all have adorable little monkeys on their shoulders.

      This is sad and getting sadder by the strip. Looking forward to when Les’-Wife-Who-Is-Not-Lisa gets insanely jealous after seeing him chatting with Marianne Winters (who for some reason is still in Lisa drag) at the party.

      • ComicBookHarriet

        Not to be confused with the Chapeaux Marmoset. That’s where the little shoulder monkeys are sent when they’re bad. That place does make some pretty funny fur hats.

    • Epicus Doomus

      If I’ve learned anything from reading FW for all these years it’s that a) women are insane spendthrift impulse buyers and b) that all thin women in Westview are superficial, extremely jealous and vain to a fault. It’s one of the rare areas of continuity in the strip.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Women are frequently accused of being insane spendthrift impulse buyers, even though we never see them buying anything unreasonable. Even Funky’s house renovation isn’t too far out of line, based on what little we know about it.

        • batgirl

          And men being cheap-ass clutchfists is supposedly endearing. We’re supposed to admire their thriftiness (or at least smile wryly at their antics) when Harry fakes out his wife with a salad dressing anniversary gift, or when Dinkle gets all his anniversary gear for next to nothing at a cut-rate party store, (then tells his wife that he expects a girl to put out when he spends that much money) or Les promises Cayla an anniversary trip to China that is probably at least partly supported by his publishers…

          And wearing the same saggy threadbare clothes every day is, I guess, admirable thriftiness. Since Les hates shopping so much and is (as previously demonstrated) really bad at it – is anyone surprised that Summer sticks with a hoody and shorts? If she had ever wanted to wear nicer clothes, or keep up with the fashionable kids at school, Les would clearly have made every attempt at shopping an agony of embarrassment and frustration.
          Imagine being a gawky insecure pre-teen and trying to get a trustworthy opinion on whether an outfit looked good or enhanced your good features from a dad who probably doesn’t know what colour your eyes are and hasn’t noticed that you just grew 3 inches.

          Hey Lisa, did you make a tape for Les: “How to buy clothes for a growing girl?” or did you dump that on Summer? “Babysitting jobs are a good way to earn money for clothes without bothering your grieving father about unimportant stuff like that.”
          Yes, I am still rankled by Lisa’s Tape for the Next Wife with “Summer will cope just fine but you better take good care of my precious treasure Les!”

          • Charles

            Yes, I am still rankled by Lisa’s Tape for the Next Wife with “Summer will cope just fine but you better take good care of my precious treasure Les!”

            Hey, it’s only been six years. If we go by Batiuk’s standards, you’ve got another eighteen years at least to get over it before it becomes a problem.

          • gleeb

            There was, of course, the Sunday strip in which creepy Les took his daughter to buy a dress for the Big Dance. She came out of the dressing room in a not-very-daring dress, suitable for a young woman of her age, and creepy Les acted as if she were in a g-string and pasties. Summer, of course, retreated to the dressing room in tears.
            So, to answer your question, no, I don’t think Lisa ever made a tape to cover that occasion. Her ghost was present and chatting with creepy Les all the while though.

    • be ware of eve hill

      LOL. Chateau Marmot. Yes, we serve woodchucks.

      Be sure to ask for their signature Marmotini!

    • ComicBookHarriet

      I saw that too, but a quick search confirmed that those plans either never went into place, or have ended, as you can currently book rooms online.

      • Charles

        Couple points:

        How were they able to get Les and Cayla a room on such short notice? It’s clear from Les’s reaction in Monday’s strip that there was a possibility that he would refuse to go to this party. Does Mason or Cassidy have a room on retainer? Are they really Hollywood players of that significance? And would they give it to Les in this situation? There are plenty of hotels in the area just as nice and as glamourous that would be easier to get rooms in on short notice. Guess it’s just the only one Batiuk could think of.

        Secondly, there’s absolutely no way the Chateau Marmont survived a fire that started in Malibu and spread out of control to the Hollywood sign and Bronson Canyon. It’s ground zero and has plenty of foliage around to burn and catch the place on fire. If Mason’s wiped-clean-from-the-face-of-the-earth house wasn’t around the nearby Laurel Canyon area, where the hell was it?

        (Third aside: If Mason’s putting Les up in this hotel, why were Pete and Mindy banished to the crappy motor hotel in the Quartz Hill/Palmdale region last year?)

        And fourth, if Batiuk’s going to go through with this, I hope he shows Cayla and Les wandering around the corner to visit the nearby charming Mexican restaurant called Pink Taco.

        • Rusty Shackleford

          I have family in LA, and have been to the Pink Taco!

          I guess I should have said “I got the reference!”

  5. Sourbelly

    So it’s the same joke as yesterday, except ______ is back to wearing his piss-yellow shirt. I’m starting to get the sense of how this story will be paced, and I don’t like it.

  6. The Dreamer

    You had an unfortunate typo ‘Jim Belushi’ is alive and well It was his older brother John Belushi who died at the Chateau Marmont

  7. Scarf Face

    I hope Cayla buys some clown suits for the premiere.

  8. I like the new tag “HIM” because it reminds me of the Powerpuff Girls, and that show (and its villains) was pretty great.

  9. Hitorque

    What a shameless clout chaser… The only thing missing is Cayla mentioning the increase of ‘engagements’ on her Instagram account and spitting out random hashtags…

    Why even put them up in a hotel? Lest we forget, the last time Les and Cayla were in Los Angeles, they were the personal guests of Masone and Cindye at his beachfront mansion in Malibu? And before anyone asks, that particular home was untouched by the great wildfire…

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Right. Why wouldn’t they just stay there again? Cindy can gush all over Les again.

      As others have pointed out, Batty just wants to name drop like he is some big Hollywood insider.

  10. Perfect Tommy

    Gah!! Nothing is worse than a stupid comic book arc!
    I stand corrected.

  11. Maxine of Arc

    Unrelated, thank whatever merciful deity governs my brain, but I suddenly had a thought while I was brushing my teeth (that’s what this board has done to me) re: “we stand in line.” Do you think that Batiuk heard someone say they “stan” a celeb once, and thinks that’s what that means?

  12. Mr. A

    Since nothing else in today’s strip interests me, I tried to decipher the store name on Cayla’s shopping bags. Alas, I failed. But as I was poking around, I discovered, which is kind of cool.

    • billytheskink

      I did the same, actually, with similar bum luck. I was really expecting the text on those bags to line up with some dead or near-dead department store that was northern Ohio’s flagship shopping destination when TB was a kid.

      But that site is awesome for the fledgling retail enthusiast like me. Thank you for linking to it.

  13. Jimmy

    I have been to many luxury hotels, either as a guest or just a visitor (usually on someone else’s dime), and I can say most of them are dated dumps that simply have a name and maybe a nice lobby (looking at you, Waldorf Astoria).

    I’ve never been to Chateau Marmont, but it seems to fit this overrated billing, nothing more than a place to be seen. Is that the joke Batiuk is going for?

    • be ware of eve hill

      I’ve driven past the Chateau Marmont a few times, but I’ve never actually been inside. I’ve read about it and heard a lot of stories.

      The Chateau Marmont is a luxurious hotel, but it’s more notorious for being discreet. It’s one of the most exclusive hideaways in LA, where you go if you DON’T want to be seen and disturbed. Rodeo Drive gawkers don’t get to stroll through the hotel pointing and squeeing at celebrities. If you don’t want to be seen in general, go to the Chateau Marmont. And if you’re going to do something ill-advised and scandalous, that’s the place to do it, because they’ll be discreet and cover your ass.

      Musicians who want to do all the drugs or have all the orgies get a bungalow and do it there. Jim Morrison swung from the roof outside his room and fell two stories, permanently injuring his back. John Bonham, Led Zeppelin’s drummer, rode his motorcycle through the lobby. Alice Cooper and his band played naked football in the lobby. Screenplays like Rebel Without a Cause were written in its bungalows; a teenage Natalie Wood shacked up with a much older Nicholas Ray there to get her part, and James Dean jumped out a window to impress Ray to get his part. Stars who fought with their spouses holed up there, and stars who wanted to have affairs that would lead to divorce had them there. Billy Idol got naked and trashed his bungalow, but even then the cops that turned up were there for John Belushi, who’d overdosed next door. Helmut Newton had a heart attack driving out of the garage and crashed straight into a wall, which killed him. Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski lived there and threw amazing parties – ironically, only when she got pregnant did they decide to move to a real home because she thought raising a baby in a hotel would be unsuitable.

      A former Apprentice contestant was banned for a year for tweeting about other people’s activities. Lindsay Lohan was kicked out and is banned until she pays the huge tab she ran up during her several weeks stay. I believe the only person ever banned for life was Richard Harris, who back in the 1960s went on a bender and started drunkenly banging on guest doors, yelling that someone dropped a nuclear bomb. Way to go, Dumbledore!

      Batty’s portrayal of the Chateau Marmont last year was totally laughable. It’s not someplace where you can schedule a spur of the moment business meeting. Pre-pandemic, you’d have to make your reservation days, if not weeks, ahead of time.

  14. Don

    She’d better remember to get something to wear when they go to the Oscars after the movie is nominated for Adapted Screenplay. (Somebody refresh my memory: how much was Les involved in writing the actual movie script? Or maybe TB thinks that writing the “source material” automatically makes Les eligible for a writing Oscar.)

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Zero. When the second Lisa’s Story arc began, Mason Jarre told him he wouldn’t be writing the script this time:

      And you are correct that the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay doesn’t go to the author of the source material, unless they adapted it themselves. I suspect Tom Batiuk will get around this problem by having Lisa’s Story win Best Picture, which is credited to the producers.

      • Mr. A

        In hindsight, I’m shocked Les ever agreed to that. I guess Mason has a silver tongue.

        (I thought about writing “Mason isn’t as dumb as he looks,” but a smart man wouldn’t have made a movie out of Lisa’s Story in the first place.)

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          It’s one of many gigantic plot holes in this shitshow. Les used his “kill fee” to stomp out the entire production when he wrote the screen play himself. So why would he agree to a second attempt where he has even less control over Lisa’s story than before?

          • Hitorque

            More importantly, why would anyone in Hollywood do business with Les again after he snatched the money and ran?? Remember, there was at most only a 24-30 month gap between the first Lisa Movie project and this one.

        • Hitorque

          Don’t forget that after the first Starbucks movie, Masone Jarre in the most vain, vapid and Batiukian stereotypically way possible announced to nobody in particular that he was “tired” of being typecast as a comic book superhero (a role he had played a total of one time which was also the first breakthrough smash hit role of his miserable career) and he was desperate to be taken seriously as an artiste so he could finally grab his Best Actor award which he felt the world owed him, because reasons. It was this time that he famously added the ‘e’ to the end of his name (since that was one of the key components he was missing) and started digging up the rights to Lisa’s Movie…

          Make no mistake, Masone is a freaking idiot, but he’s been on the hustle with this Lisa Movie since day one.

  15. be ware of eve hill

    As CBH noted, Cayla’s jeans came up out of nowhere. I guess they ride up with wear. Either that, or Cayla is celebrating ‘No Pants Wednesday’ in panel #1.

    It makes sense if Cayla wants to go shopping again if she just bought those jeans for the trip. I’ve heard the valet at the Chateau Marmont will turn you away before you can exit the car if you’re wearing jeans.

  16. Banana Jr. 6000

    I know Tom Batiuk would never do this, but I have a dream about a really good direction this story could take:

    Les is getting played. Bigtime. Imagine this plot:

    Some Hollywood mogul really wants this movie made, and instructs Mason Jarre “tell this writer clown whatever you have to, just get his signature.” And Mason knows exactly how to manipulate Les, because they have an existing relationship, Mason is a skilled actor, and Les is an open book anyway.

    Mason goes to Westview for the Bull Bushka funeral, which neither he nor Cindy has any reason to be at. Cindy, being stupid, almost blows their cover when she says it was her responsibility as the high school popular girl to attend. But gullible Les is wrapped around her finger, so he buys this lame explanation. Mason pitches him on trying to make the Lisa movie again. Holly wanders over and randomly starts gushing about the literary and emotional greatness of the Lisa’s Story book; a few months later, she pays cash for a very expensive house renovation.

    Mason talks Les into it, by calling it a non-committal “shopping agreement” even though everything but Les’ signature is already in place. Mason lets Les drag him on the Lisa memorial tour. He feeds Les’ ego and fixation the whole time. He brings Les to several fake “pitch meetings”, to “executives” who are actually actors in on the scam. (One of them was actually a child actor in that dog veterinarian movie that Mason had been in.) They reject Lisa’s Story for exactly the reasons Les would react most negatively to. Except the “bank in China” thing; that was a brilliant bit of improv.

    Cassidy Kerr enters on cue to “agree” to the project. Mason insists that Les be involved in the filmmaking process, and gives him a phony producer credit, but no actual authority. He is invited to a casting, which ends exactly the way Mason wants it to. Marianne Winters, who was selected for the role of Lisa months ago, “won” the part despite all of Les’ whining about it. The other women all thought they were at a legitimate audition, because Hollywood is like that.

    The next part of the con is sending out Marianne in full Lisa makeup to trigger Les’ emotions. Not long after, he agrees to let Marianne watch the precious Lisa tapes he wouldn’t let anybody else see. Mason didn’t even want them that much, but their release is a sign of how deeply Les has swallowed the hook.

    The Point Dume fire obviously disrupted things, but the real producers saw an opportunity to resume filming later without Les. Which they did. And now the movie is ready for a wrap party, having been completed over the last year. Les is so trusting of Mason at this point that he doesn’t even question this. His focus is on impressing Cayla by actually bringing her to Hollywood this time.

    In an “oversight”, Les is not invited to the premiere. He doesn’t see the movie until the local premiere at Valentine Theater, which also celebrates the theater’s return from closure. There’s nothing objectionable about the movie, but in Les’ mind it’s:

    Also, Les’ waiter scene is omitted. Les is credited as “Waiter On Cutting Room Floor.”

    After that, Mason will no longer answer Les’ phone calls. Eventually he gets him on the phone, and Mason says they had to make some minor story changes that are common to real-life biographies. And he’s telling the truth; Les demands were so overbearing the movie had to be made without him. But Mason feels a little bad about what he did, so he tries to console Les the best he can. “In the end, Les, millions of people got to experience Lisa’s story, and learn who Lisa was. Isn’t that the most important thing?” Les hangs up, and makes a silent, bitter, smirky, punchable “maybe he’s right” face. Cayla comes over, puts her hands on his shoulders, and says the final line: “At least you protected Lisa.”

    Roll credits.

    • Gerard Plourde

      A far better story than the one we’ll be presented with.

    • Hitorque

      That makes too much sense to become reality, sadly…

    • Mr. A

      It all makes perfect sense, except for the part where “[s]ome Hollywood mogul really wants this movie made.”

      But I guess crazier things have happened.

    • Excellent storytelling, but it’s clear you put some thought and effort into this. And those two things are anathema to this strip.

      It would be like Dick Tracy being a hidden crime lord all this time, or Beetle Bailey’s Zero being a secret five-star general and military genius.