Asinine Aphorisms

Link to Today’s Strip.

Les, that is a really, really, REALLY weird thing to say while staring lovingly into the chocolate brown sclera’s of your second wife’s eyes. What are you trying to say here? That you’ve realized you’re lucky your first wife died? Because in the end what you really wanted was both a supportive wife and a sob story? The knockout one-two punch that will win you gold in the victim Olympics in performative grieving.

I get the sentiment, it’s a nice sentiment. You’re trying to tell Cayla that you’re content in your life with her. That Hollywood fame wouldn’t have made you appreciably happier because you’re already happy. But, when talking about this to a second wife, as a widower, you should avoid words like, ‘lucky.’ ‘all along,’ and ‘in the end.’

By Cayla’s tired grimace, I can tell what she’s thinking. “I don’t know if he’s insulting me or snubbing Lisa, but at least he sounds happy she’s dead.”

Many of us this week have found ominous signs that the box office failure of Lisa’s Story might not be then end of this endless arc. That a box office bomb can still go on to be critically successful and win awards. And it would dovetail nicely with Batiuk’s sentiments on popular entertainment, for the true beauty of Lisa’s Story: The Movie, to only be admired by a few.

I fear we’re in for a Marvin’s Room deal. If TomBa is going to use anything as a template for Lisa’s Story’s success or failure, it’s not going to be one of the cancer movies of the last few years. It’s going to be from the glory days of weepy prestige drama. The 90’s.

Marvins room poster.jpg
Unfortunately the movie is not about a three headed multi gendered monster wearing a black sweater.

I’d never heard of this film before my cancer movie research of earlier in the week. And after reading the synopsis, and watching the trailer, it is top on my list of movies to never see. But the plot is Batiukian to the max. A movie about sarcasm in the face of disease, death, and poorly portrayed mental illness, written by a man who was himself dying of AIDS.

For 20 years Bonnie (Diane Keaton) has been taking care of her bed-ridden father, Marvin (Hume Cronyn) following a stroke. When she is diagnosed with leukemia, she reaches out to the sister she hasn’t seen for 20 years, Lee, (Meryl Streep), asking if she and her two sons would be tested for a bone marrow transplant. Lee retrieves her older son, Hank (Leonardo DiCaprio), from the mental health facility where he’d been kept since trying to burn her house down, and takes her family to see her sister. Much heartfelt sarcasm ensues. Bonnie’s treatment appears to be failing, but Lee is now comfortable caring for their father.

The movie bombed in 1996, making $12 million on a $23 million dollar budget.

And it got Diane Keaton an Oscar nod for best actress, Meryl Streep a Golden Globe nom, also for best actress, and three SAG nominations to boot.

The box office numbers might be in. But awards season is right around the corner.

And sometimes, the people you know the least…

are the ones you need the most…

and the places we’ve left behind…

are the places we’ve always belonged….

Marvin’s Room



Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

33 responses to “Asinine Aphorisms

  1. Epicus Doomus

    So yeah, what exactly is Les saying here? That he only realized how good he has it after his Hollywood dreams died? That’s definitely an odd thing to say, as it implies that he wasn’t happy before and felt the movie would fill that void…I guess. I’m not sure anyone really knows, least of all TomBat.

  2. Gerard Plourde

    The casting of that turkey amazed me (Diane Keaton, Hume Cronyn, Meryl Streep, Leonardo DiCaprio) and then Robert DeNiro showed up in the trailer. How could so many A-List actors end up in such a bomb? That said, if that can happen, Mason Jarre and Marianne Winters should survive Lisa’s Story.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      How could so many A-List actors end up in such a bomb?

      I take it you’ve never seen “The Wiz.”

  3. William Thompson

    Batiuk isn’t going to let go of the Dead Lisa Mythos, so how will he stretch it out this time? Maybe he’ll repeat that Starsux Jones fan club business, where all the old-time fans and their grandchildren used the secret decoder dildos to receive messages in newspaper ads. So is there an official Dead Lisa fan club? Or is Batiuk about to reveal the existence of such a beast, which will campaign to keep the movie alive through DVD/BluRay/YuHu releases (and which will reveal itself through a letter to Les, asking for his blessing?)

    • J.J. O'Malley

      “So is there an official Dead Lisa fan club?”

      Yes. We meet every fourth Monday evening at a playground that’s been closed for repairs.

    • Maybe it will become a cult favorite, like Rocky Horror Picture Show. It will have midnight showings at all the art house theaters. The women in the audience will all wear bald wigs, and the entire theater will shout “The playground is closed for repairs!”.

  4. Mr. A

    “In the end, if you’re lucky, you’ll find that what you really wanted is what you had all along.”

    I’ve never heard that “old aphorism”, and I refuse to believe that Les has either.

    • batgirl

      It does sound as if it was written by whoever wrote that movie trailer, though.
      Somebody help me out here – those lines about ‘the places you left behind’ etc. – I am sure I’ve heard them in one of those recut-to-change-genre trailers on Youtube, like the one that recut The Shining to be a heartwarming family film? Does it ring a bell for anyone else?

    • Margaret

      Isn’t is very similar to something Dorothy says at the end of The Wizard of Oz? (Movie, not book.)

      • Mr. A

        See, “there’s no place like home” is an aphorism, because it’s a phrase people actually say. On the other hand, I asked Grandpa Google to look up “what you really wanted is what you had all along” (in quotes) and he came back with a whopping 0 results.

        • Margaret

          “There’s no place like home” isn’t the quote that I was thinking of. It’s something like “if I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again I won’t look any further than my own backyard because if it isn’t there I never really lost it to begin with.” I always thought that didn’t make a lot of sense, but the underlying sentiment is sort of what Les is trying to express.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      “In the main, if you’re lucky, what can happen is, if everything goes well, it turns out, more or less, all things being equal, and really, what I’m trying to say is, nothing.”

      Hire an editor, Tom.

  5. Sourbelly

    I do like the fact that Cayla keeps reminding Les that his film was a pathetic flop. Good for her. But Les keeps parrying* that thrust by insisting that he doesn’t care. He then “foils” her with the fatal riposte**, insisting that he always wanted what he has now (without stating that she is any part of that). Touché, Les!

    *My only acquaintance with that term is via a Daffy Duck/Elmer Fudd cartoon.
    **I have no idea of what I’m even talking about with this terminology.

  6. billytheskink

    Les, you’re no Joni Mitchell. And I’m the kind of guy who refuses to keep Joni Mitchell 8 tracks in my car…

    I’m simultaneously disappointed and relieved that Marvin’s Room is not about John Darling artist Tom Armstrong’s long-running infant and defecation-focused comic strip.

  7. J.J. O'Malley

    So, to sum up…

    Monday: While at the pumpkin patch, Lester tells Cayla that the movie was a box office failure. She says she’s not surprised (hmmm).
    Tuesday: Amid further gourd hunting, Cayla reconsiders and apologizes for the movie’s lack of audience. Les is philosophical.
    Wednesday: Back at their car, Cayla offers hope that the movie will find a home in the latte-sipping world of “art cinemas.” Les is doubtful.
    Thursday: After the drive home, Cayla again asks Les if he’s okay with the movie not succeeding. Les is sarcastic.
    Friday: Now putting up their decorations, Les tells Cayla he’s glad the movie experience hasn’t changed his life.
    Saturday: Stopping to admire how they’ve arranged pumpkins on their front porch, Cayla again brings up the movie’s failure while telling Les what a brave soul he is. Les realizes that he’s content with what he has: three books and someone to tell him what a brave soul he is.

    In other words, do something, pick at the scab that is “Lisa’s Story: The Movie,” rinse, repeat. Lord only knows what Sunday will bring. .

  8. The Nelson Puppet

    Les: “Well, as Steven Stills once sang, ‘If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.’ HEY WAIT! Where are you going?”

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      Let’s hope it’s to find someone who won’t be long, will sing her a song and thrill her to the marrow.

      Cayla, change your life, make it right, be someone else’s lady.

  9. Rusty Shackleford

    Wow, so there are worse writers than TB.

    • The Nelson Puppet

      The guy who wrote, directed, and acted in the movie “The Room” certainly gave TB some competition!

  10. batgirl

    The moral TB is trying for here is the moral of The Blue Bird, a 1908 play by Maurice Maeterlinck, where the children go on a long dream-pilgrimage in search of the bluebird of happiness, and return to find it was at their home (but unrecognized).
    Hmm. In the play, the children then give the bird to a sick child, to share their happiness. It’s been brought up a few times that Funkyverse characters don’t reach out to others or share what joy they have. Lisa saw another cancer patient dumped over the phone, and did not go to comfort her, just appreciated her own non-dumping husband. Crankshaft saw that Mary was eating Thanksgiving dinner by herself at a diner, and went home to eat dinner with his family. Crankshaft’s friend learned that his dead son had asked Santa for a bicycle many years ago, went out and bought a bike to put under the tree for no one, instead of giving it to a needy living kid.
    I guess it makes sense. The bluebird of happiness in Westview would be more like the canary in the coal mine and kick over from the toxic air almost immediately.

    • Margaret

      There’s a 1940 film version of The Blue Bird starring Shirley Temple. It’s wonderfully entertaining, with some really amazing sets, especially the scene set in the heaven where souls live before they’re born.

  11. bayoustu

    I have an overwhelming desire to smash each and every one of Les’ pumpkins.

  12. Banana Jr. 6000

    This is the most lucid example of something that’s been happening a lot lately. Batiuk tries to build a sweet moment around one of his male characters, but it’s contradicted by every other thing the character does.

    We all know the next time we see Les talk to Cayla, it’s going to be about a Lisa problem. Because there’s always a Lisa problem. If there isn’t, Les will invent one. And nobody in town will ever get tired of this. Least of all Cayla.

    If any of us had a friend who was in a marriage with someone like Les Moore, we’d try to help them get out of it.

  13. Doghouse Reilly (Minneapolis)

    I don’t remember Marvin’s Room but judging by that synopsis I prefer the komix strip Marvin’s Poo.

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      Doghouse (Minneapolis):

      While I haven’t seen “Marvin’s Room,” I have an audio version of the play from L.A. Theatre Works and “poo” (or what one of its characters, Aunt Ruth, calls “a stinky”) is pretty important in it.

      As audio, the play is pretty effective, and though it obviously means to be heart-tugging and heart-warming, it doesn’t bash you over the head with these goals. It also has some funny bits with a fill-in doctor and Aunt Ruth’s ailments and TV viewing.

      It’s part of a twenty-five volume series called *The Drama Collection,* and there are worse entries in it than *Marvin’s Room.*

  14. Rusty Shackleford

    Man that trailer…there are worse things than FW and they win awards too. My worldview has been shattered.

  15. Merry Pookster

    I got one for you Less.
    “You can’t always get what you want to,
    But if you try sometime you just might find you get what you need”

  16. Batiuk loves these stupid sayings that, at first blush, look profound but when examined reveal that they are, at best, senseless. “Endings have to be earned” is a good example to go along with today’s.

  17. Suicide Squirrel

    Batyuk must think I’ve OD’d on stupid pills. I don’t believe that Les is okay with the movie flopping, and I certainly don’t believe this is the last we’ll ever hear of the Lisa’s Story movie.

    One month from now, Les will be surprised by the news of the movie receiving notoriety from some corner of the world. It will snowball from there. Halleluiah! The Valentine is saved!

    Mr. Batiuk, you fool no one!