Author: What is the law?
Mason Jarr: Les Moore is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life, that is the law. Are we not men?
FW Cast (in unison): Are we not men?
Author: What is the law?
Mason Jarr: No Tom Batiuk has ever made a mistake or distorted information. He is, by any practical definition of the words, foolproof and incapable of error, that is the law. Are we not men?
FW Cast (in unison): Are we not men?
Author: What is the law?
Mason Jarr: Research? We ain’t got no research. We don’t need no research. I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ research, that is the law. Are we not men?
FW Cast (in unison): Are we not men? We sure aren’t Devo.
53 responses to “Wheelhouse of Pain”
Self-deprecation is the engine that powers the Funkyverse and wry false humility is the fuel that runs that engine. Everyone and everything in the Funkyverse is kind of shitty and half-assed, which is exactly how Westviewians like it. The pizza, the comic books store (and comic book company), the school, the people, it’s all the same…kind of shitty and really half-assed. Everyone is sort of a fraud just going through the motions, but in a cute wry kind of way and everyone is always exchanging those annoying wry smirks because they all inherently understand this.
Mason got a little too full of himself there, so he had to take a moment to remind everyone that he’s really just a shitty half-assed hack who usually makes garbage movies for drooling morons. And, of course, everyone laughed, as they all totally relate. It’s a warped perspective that only really makes sense to BatYam and his regular readers, who understand it all too well.
“The pizza, the comic books store (and comic book company), the school, the people, it’s all the same…kind of shitty and really half-assed.”
When you describe it this way, it’s a perfect match to the description of hell in C. S. Lewis’s theological “dream” book “The Great Divorce.” No fire, no brimstone, just an endless drab British suburb in which everything is kinda shitty and half-assed, where you can wish into existence anything you want, but the quality will be lousy (raindrops just pass through the roof) and everybody is sullen and irritable.
And if (as happens in Lewis’s book) a bus were to come along offering day trips to heaven, the people would board, go up to have a look around, and then decide they like Worstview better.
You’re absolutely right. Westview (and the FW universe in general) precisely matches the Great Divorce’s Hell (though the rate ones who decide not to return from the day trip can call it part of Purgatory).
“This was the film in which I made the fewest mistakes as an actor. Seriously, all I had to do was act like an arrogant, insufferable douchebag, and I was immediately in character! Hey, I’m even doing it now!”
Mason seems to be channeling writer/director Preston Sturges, who said something to the effect that his “Hail the Conquering Hero” was the film which had the fewest things wrong with it.
What do Preston Sturges and Mason Jarre have in common?
Both have first names ending in “on.”
Both have surnames including an “r.”
Mason speaks of a “wheelhouse” in a colloquial manner.
Sturges shows an actual wheelhouse in “The Palm Beach Story.”
Other than that, I’m stumped. Perhaps the Wienie King has some thoughts:
Cold are the hands of time that creep along relentlessly, destroying slowly but without pity that which yesterday was young. Alone our memories resist this disintegration and grow more lovely with the passing years. Heh! That’s hard to say with false teeth!
Not much help there. Sgt. Heffelfinger?
You gotta be Smitty, and he’s gotta be you, and you both gotta come out alive!
And not Susan Smith, either!
“The Palm Beach Story” was on TCM just a few weeks ago I believe, else I’d never know who the Wienie King was.
How can you be outside your comfort zone as an actor, and make your fewest mistakes? That whole sentence tells us that JarrHead just mailed in the part. That’s okay, it must be the seventh circle of hell to portray Less, the gamut of emotions must run from wry, to cynical, to smug self-righteousness, all in the same scene!
Nah, that’s a reasonable thing to say. For Jarre to find that a role outside his comfort zone, getting a real challenge, forced him to focus on how to act more precisely and how to make his performance more what he-and-the-director intended? That he took the challenge and (he thinks) succeeded? That makes sense to me.
And “leaving his comfort zone” is exactly what Mason said he wanted. He was complaining about being “typecast” as a sci-fi action hero (even though he’s only done one such role as far as we know), and he wanted to do something different. So he’s basically complaining about getting exactly what he wanted, and congratulating himself for his resilience in taking it. This is a common theme in Funky Winkerbean.
Actually, he didn’t say he was outside his comfort zone, he said he was outside his wheelhouse. Which I took to mean nobody was steering the good ship “Dead St. Lisa’s Story” as it careened onto the rocks.
But… a role can be outside an actor’s comfort zone and still not be a terribly difficult one to play. As you said, the gamut of Les’s emotions “run from wry, to cynical, to smug self-righteousness.” Pretty easy role to learn, I would say. As long as he plays Les as a douche, he’s pretty much dead on.
But what will Les say when he grows enraged at not being the center of attention?” “You think to baffle me, you–with your pale faces all in a row, like sheep at a butcher’s! You shall be sorry yet, each one of you! My revenge is just begun! I spread it over centuries, and time is on my side!”
Well, Les does suck as much as Dracula, doesn’t he?
Is this whole week going to be nothing but Mason’s speech? Lisa help us.
Then again, it could be worse. It could be Les’s speech.
(Oh no, I’ve jinxed it, haven’t I?)
The thing that Mason says in the third panel is funny because we can see people in the audience smirking and, in some cases, displaying their teeth. This weakly indicates that they are sort of politely laughing. That means that we must chortle heartily at this winsome jape.
So his speech is just three random statements that have little if anything to do with one another. It’s as if he removed all the paragraphs in his speech and just left the topic sentences.
Plus, what the hell kind of joke is that? It is informed by the character or the story? Of course not. It’s just a one-liner that fails at being a one-liner.
But the worst is the second panel.
“This film (which consists of nothing but repeats of comic strips I wrote over a decade ago) is smart, real, raw and something [Faulty parallelism, btw] that will resonate with people on an emotional level for years to come.”
I mean, come ON. That is nauseating. It’s Batiuk just praising himself for something he wrote fifteen years ago that he’s been grinding his dick over ever since. He can’t get anyone else to say it, so he’s going to have one of his characters say it instead. If he had any shame, he’d be embarrassed by this whole thing. It’s so beneath the artist he thinks he is.
But not beneath him.
“It’s Batiuk just praising himself for something he wrote fifteen years ago that he’s been grinding his dick over ever since. He can’t get anyone else to say it, so he’s going to have one of his characters say it instead.”
Can’t think of a better way to describe this ongoing torture. All I can think of is how Carol Channing toured in “Hello, Dolly!” for DECADES after it was on Broadway, practically until she was in her grave. Admittedly, in that case it actually started as something good, but the thought of only having one thing to drag out over and over and over and over…just one thing… and that’s your career…. Oh my God, I’m so depressed now. I guess the TB magic has worked.
You remind me of Eugene O’Neill’s actor father who perpetually returned to *The Count of Monte Cristo.* O’Neill made him James Tyrone, Sr. in *Long Day’s Journey into Night* and his comments about “that damned play” and what it cost him (his gift of playing Shakespeare evaporated in the years of portraying Edmond Dantes) are heartbreaking.
*Long Day’s Journey into Night* won O’Neill a posthumous Pulitzer Prize. During his lifetime he won three Pulitzers.
He also won the Nobel Prize for Literature, and proved Ernest Hemingway wrong, writing some of his greatest plays afterwards. (Hemingway felt that no one ever wrote anything worth a damn after winning the Nobel. He may not have, but O’Neill certainly did.)
In TomBa world a wrap party appears to be a gathering at the soundstage with no food, no music, minimal beverages to listen to the star/producer talk ad nauseam. What a great time! (sarcasm font)
Why do you think Cindy brought her own wine glass (the bottle’s in her purse). She knows what a cheap MoFo Masonne is.
The only thing missing is Masone telling some dumbass story about a treadmill and the last Sony Discman in existence
Truly this party looks like an “Island of Lost Souls.” And what happened to Lisa reincarnated, Marianne Winters? None of the four females depicted look anything like her.
“…something that will resonate with people on an emotional level for years to come,” Masonne? Compared to WHAT? “Ikiru”? “Cleo from 5 to 7″? Steel Magnolias”? “The Bucket List”? “The Fault in Our Stars”? There have been films about people coping with cancer for decades, and the majority of them are about more than just the disease, about some aspect of the person’s life. Even a formulaic melodrama like “Stepmom” examined the conflict between an ailing Susan Sarandon and Julia Roberts, the new woman in her family’s lives. What conflict or resolution will there be in “Lisa’s Story”? Is the retconned date rape an element? Is someone playing Young Durwood or Baby Summer? Does Zach Galifianakis cameo as the goofy x-ray tech who mixes up the photos? All we’ve seen is an ailing Lisa and the ever-supportive Lester. That’s not an emotional drama; I’m not even sure it’s drama.
Marianne left early for the REAL wrap party. Even now she’s back at Chapeau Marmoset snorting mountains of coke.
And Mason has been tasked with ditching Les at this lame party, so the stars can enjoy the real wrap party without him. Notice that Martin Johns and Cassidy Kerr aren’t here either. Neither is any other actor from the movie. These people look like a bunch of low-end crew members.
Actually, I think Johns was in yesterday’s strip–he was at the extreme left, near Mason. Of course, with this level of artwork, it could have been Zippy the Pinhead with a mustache.
Eh, I could have missed it. But I still like my head canon that Les is being intentionally ditched.
Of course, we will never be permitted to see the Great Masterpiece Movie, because (a) TomBa still thinks we’ll all get so fascinated by this “story” that we’ll rush out and buy the “Dead St. Lisa Trilogy Boxed Set,” and (b) he isn’t actually interested in the content of the movie. Just like in “Starsuck Jones” and all the AtomiK KomiX crap, he’s trying to operate at a “meta” level, going behind the scenes like the classic “Dick Van Dyke* Show.” Unfortunately, he seems to lack both the comedic talent of that show’s cast, and the deep knowledge of the subject matter that informed Carl Reiner and the writing staff.
*It feels so good to just write that name, rather than needing to say something like “Richard Van Levee” to get past a censorbot…
J.J. O’Malley, you not only have a cool name, but your cinematic references are impeccable, especially “Ikiru” and “Cleo from 5 to 7.”
You should be President of the Elves, Leprechauns, Gnomes, and Little Men’s Chowder & Marching Society.
May you never run out of fine Havana magic wands.
Be sure to give my best regards to brother Orville when next you see him!
Sure and your kind hearts touched me heart, A.S. Now, any idea where a fellow can get a good stogie around here?
Took the word right out of my mouth!
Perhaps Gridley the Salamander and Atlas the Mental Giant have some stogie suggestions.
An “emotional level”? OK, I’ll agree with that. I’ve seen Inside Out, disgust is an emotion.
In the last panel, Les’s head is drawn larger than anybody else’s. Please don’t feed the insufferable douchebag’s ego.
Narrator: And what happened then? Well, in Hollywood they say that Les’s head grew three sizes that day.
Never mind that Mason is at least 20 years too old to be playing Les in his late 20’s
Oh Masone, the fewest mistakes as an actor, maybe. But the other mistakes you made were countless.
1.) Having Les as a hero.
2.) Believing Lisa’s Story would make a good movie.
3.) Talking Les into “allowing” you to make the movie.
4.) Casting yourself as Les.
5.) Traveling to New York with Les to research locations.
6.) Studying Les too closely. You seem to have absorbed some of his worst qualities.
7.) Taking Les with you while searching for an Executive Producer.
8.) Allowing Les to have input on the casting of Lisa.
9.) Giving Les a cameo role.
10.) Continuing to make the movie after the Great Los Angeles Fire.
11.) Continually feeding his Les’s ego.
∞.) Inviting Les to the wrap party.
∞+1.) Hosting a shitty wrap party.
∞+2.) This speech.
The guy partially obscured by Masone’s nose in panel 3looks like a Wooly Willie magnet toy face.
That’s really all I got out of today’s strip.
Synopsis: a man whose wife is dying of cancer spends the last months they have together screaming, “Why is this happening to ME?”
“Out of his wheelhouse”?! Did Masone forget his pre-Starbucke resume was nothing but soap operas and the type of standard fare melodramas you can find any hour of the day on The Lifetime or Hallmark Channels?
DID MASONE FORGET HE WAS ALREADY PLAYING LES IN THE FIRST LISA MOVIE PROJECT UNTIL THE INFAMOUS “KILL FEE”?
Or is this yet another one of Batiuk’s secret retcons and the first Lisa Movie never happened?
Actually, I think the only item mentioned from Mason’s filmography was “Dino Deer.” Which sounds like the kind of thing the SyFy Channel would turn down while holding its nose.
There was also My Dog Pookie, but I think that is it.
Well, I see why Mason and Les get along so well. “Oh, this role was so beneath me, I only took it to keep my health insurance.” Your face and name are on the poster, you egomaniac! And you “took” the role? You didn’t “win” or “earn” it from somebody else? Because your talent was just so unmistakable they didn’t even bother with an audition? And somehow no bigger movie wanted you?
I looked up the SAG-AFTRA health insurance requirements. It’s 100 working days, or $26,000 acting income, in a year. How was Mason so awesome that he gets handed the lead role in a low-end but legitimate Hollywood movie, yet unable to find enough work to meet those low requirements? I guess he was too good for that too.
The arrogance of these small-town nobodies!
That strip is still personally triggering to me, since I lost a beloved Maltese who looked just like that only a few months before…
Rest in Power, Mimmersma….
And wasn’t the original movie for the Cable Movie Channel or something like that? It’s not like this was some masterpiece everyone wanted.
So, is “Lisa’s Story” Mason’s “Leonard Part 6” or “The Day the Clown Cried”? Just wondering.
It’s his “Plan 9 From Outer Space.” As Ed Wood proudly said (at least in Tim Burton’s movie, which claimed to be over 90% documented actual events) when leaving the premiere, “This is the one I’ll be remembered for.”
Yep. This is the one Masoné will be remembered for, all right…
It’s his Corvette Summer.
Don’t slag on Corvette Summer. I like it more than any of the Star Wars movies (sorry, nerds).
New BattyBlog post is up today. Lots of words, but little is actually said.
“As I gained the creative freedom to tackle serious topics, I decided to age my characters realistically.”
That’s it. That’s literally all it says. But it takes Tom Batiuk 266 words, including six metaphors (none of which make any sense) to say this.
I wish Matt Taibbi would do to Tom Batiuk what he did to Thomas Friedman:
Well it’s not like Batty is a writer or anything like that. I also wonder if English is his first language.
Good old days before Taibbi sold out and became the very thing he used to denounce in the punditsphere…
TomBa actually wrote this (from today’s excerpt from the Intro to The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume 10).
“I began Funky writing about cartoon characters, and I was now writing about human beings.”
Holy Cow. Those cartoon characters were so much more interesting, entertaining, and yes, sorry Tom, FUNNY than the “human beings” he has now. Who act about as human as the Coneheads.
I have to agree that the word “raw” did cross my mind when watching the trailer, but it was as an adjective applied to “sewage”.
Mason’s innovation was to make the emotional pivot point of Lisa’s Story, a smash cut to the talking murder chimp right after she found out she was gonna die after all.