The Less Things Change

Link To It

Settlement school? I looked it up, but I’m still not 100% sure what the hell these idiots are jabbering about. As far as Halle Dinkle goes, I have no memory of the character at all, so feel free to fill us in on her no doubt compelling character arc if you’re so inclined.

It’s kind of interesting how BatHam wrote these 2021 strips under the assumption that COVID would be old news by the time they ran, and by “interesting” I mean “not really”. Mildly amusing is more like it. And could the gag here possibly be any weaker? And why doesn’t the most legendary band director who’s ever lived have any friends? No local pals, no former students, nothing. Oh, wait. I know why.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

36 responses to “The Less Things Change

  1. The Duck of Death

    That’s a whole lot of words to say, “Just the two of us this Thanksgiving.” Which is an unnecessary and boring thing to say in the first place.

    So another wasted strip. That’s 2,314 in a row so far.

  2. billytheskink

    Italy certainly isn’t the antipode of northern Ohio (that would be in the Indian Ocean near Australia), but I suppose that’s as far away as Halle was able to get.

    • The Duck of Death

      UGH, I just realized: Are we being set up for a surprise visit by Halle & co? With any other comic, that would be the obvious conclusion, but here in Short Attention Span Theatre, Tom might have forgotten all about Halle by the time Wednesday or Thursday roll around.

      • Epicus Doomus

        Seems likely. Or maybe a Zoom call or something equally dumb.

      • J.J. O'Malley

        That would explain the Reed Richards doppelganger in this site’s banner. He could be Halle’s white-templed husband, whose name I refuse to care about enough to research.

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      “Our daughter Halle” — I think this could become the new “my father, John Darling, who was murdered.”

      Oh, joy, oh, rapture, oh, bliss!

      • Maxine of Arc

        I had the same thought almost verbatim, and am glad I checked to see if somebody else had before I put it into a new comment.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        I think it’s the new “do you want half of my sandwich?”

        “Our daughter Halle” is how you talk to somebody with dementia. You have to remind them of things people just don’t forget, like who their own children are. I’ve seen this in my own family, and it’s heartbreaking. It’s not a good way to do exposition for the audience! This comes from a guy who wants us to buy his book about dementia because it “rises above the rest and stakes its claim to being something more enduring.”

        And the unintended implications aren’t the only problem. “As you know” is pure hackery, as SpacemanSpiff says below. The dialog is wordy and unnatural. And it beats us over the head with pointless details, like “settlement school” and the turkey being from the 90s. Neither of these things will be relevant to the story. Batiuk really needs to learn “Law of Conservation of Detail.” And just how to write, in general.

  3. Gerard Plourde

    Here’s the link for the SOSF post about Halle Dinkle. She appeared in the National Association of Music Educators publication.

  4. Banana Jr. 6000

    Hey, remember last Thanksgiving, when the Dinkle family had Halle and her family at their Thanksgiving dinner?

    • Epicus Doomus

      Halle Dinkle is so obscure I totally forgot all about this. You’d think he’d have some sort of chart or a spreadsheet or something so he could immediately find out when an obscure character last appeared in the strip. It’s kind of amazing and hilarious how people who hate-read the strip know the history and timeline better than the author does.

    • none

      Thank you. I hate it. I hate all of it.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      The heck is wrong with him, that he can’t check back a SINGLE YEAR to make sure he isn’t contradicting himself.

      • batgirl

        See, instead of making corrections and adjustments for his one-year time-lag when the printed strips don’t line up with that 1/4 inch reality, he just retcons as he goes so the next year’s printed strip is closer to what reality was a year ago when he was writing it.
        It’s a marvel of efficiency!

        We know TB has strong opinions on multiverses and other comic book tropes. I wonder what he thinks about retcons when other people do them?

    • newagepalimpsest

      Oh, those were a couple of undercover cops who were trying to get Dinkle to confess that the band turkey sales are actually money laundering for the Ohio mob.

    • The Duck of Death

      When I first read today’s strip, I stumbled over “moved to Italy with her family” because — does Halle have kids? Do Harry and Harriet have grandkids that they never mention or think about? Huh? When did this happen? But I’m so used to incoherence and nonsequiturs that I didn’t think much more of it.

      But now I see that last year it was just Halle and Reed Richards, and no kids. So… why didn’t Harriet say, “with her husband”?

      On the other hand, the fault is all mine for expecting coherence from TB.

  5. William Thompson

    I googled it, and to quote Wikipedia, “Settlement schools are social reform institutions established in rural Appalachia in the early 20th century with the purpose of educating mountain children and improving their isolated rural communities.”

    A settlement school in Italy? I’d wonder if Batty conflated Appalachia with the Appian Way, but that might credit him with more geographic knowledge than seems likely.

    • spacemanspiff85

      Yeah, I googled it too. It totally isn’t a thing that exists in Italy. I’m positive Batiuk just heard of settlement schools, thought they must have them in Italy, and called it a day. This is the guy who bragged on his blog about how real writers don’t do research, after all.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      More Cleveland history:

      Batty’s throwing in lots of Cleveland trivia today.

      • gleeb

        So people from Ohio have to bring music to the deprived folks in Italy. That’s more implausible than a talking murder-chimp.

      • batgirl

        Almeda Adams sounds pretty boss, anyways.
        Almost the antithesis of a TB character. Female, handicapped, dedicated herself to – and achieved! – sharing music with others who had little access to it.
        TB’s female characters have no agency and need men to oversee them, and all his characters seem averse to actually helping others instead of making sentimental gestures.

        • Anonymous Sparrow

          Someone evidently agrees with Phil Holt that “this is man’s work, little lady.” Where is Flash Freeman when you need him?

    • The Duck of Death

      This odd and incoherent specificity tells me he’s itchin’ for a tax-deductible vacation in Italy. You know, to take a reference photo of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, since there’s really no other way to get a photograph of it. Perhaps we can look forward to a contrived “Dinkle Visits Italy” arc in the future.

  6. Gerard Plourde

    I think that “Settlement School” may be a reference to the Settlement Movement, which provided social services to the indigent and received private funding fro wealthy donors. The movement is primarily a British and American phenomenon. The Philadelphia iteration branched out into a network of music schools which exist to this day. Links about the movement and also about the Philadelphia schools are below. I’m not aware of any settlement houses or music programs in Italy.

  7. Sourbelly

    Ugh. I was just going to post that link! That would have made me feel like I really made a difference! Instead, I’ll just mention that Harry and Harriet spew exposition about stuff they both already know. Also, Harry’s casual lean against the kitchen counter seems uncharacteristically human for this strip. Weird.

    • spacemanspiff85

      When you’re learning or studying how to write, one of the biggest things they tell you never ever to do is have one character tell another character something they both no, for no in-story reason but just to inform the reader (“As you know, random person I just ran into, zombies wiped out all civilization ten years ago”, for example). So of course Batiuk does it all the time.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Batiuk does even worse than that. He does “as you know” scenes so the characters can tell each other things! Not to tell the audience things it needs to know. At least “as you know” serves a narrative purpose, even if that is a crappy way to do it.

        The band and choir introductions last week were a perfect example of this. And they also illustrate another massive problem in Batiuk’s writing: excessive and unnecessary exposition. We met 12 people and a cat, most of whom we already knew, for a story that involved only 3 of them.

  8. J.J. O'Malley

    Dear Judeo-Christian God who is the Creator of the universe and who sits on His Heavenly throne and who is the center of three of the world’s dominant religions and who most people think is either an elderly white-bearded guy or Morgan Freeman, what a load of over-explanatory over-scripting by the Lord of Language today! “Like last year when COVID meant just us at home” or even just “because of COVID” at the first word balloon would have been fine. Did Harriet really think she had to remind Dinkleberg of his daughter’s name or why she and her family moved away? And what’s with that wet firecracker, Emily Litella-like “nevermind” final statement of his? Come on, SOMEBODY at King please edit this guy?

    I only wish TB had put Halle Dinkle at an actual “settlement school” in the hills. I’d love to see her trying to teach music theory to Jughaid Smith and his Hootin’ Holler chums.

    • spacemanspiff85

      The worst part about it is that absolutely nobody cares. Nobody, including Tom Batiuk, really cares what Harry Dinkle’s Thanksgiving plans are. So many words wasted on something nobody cares about.

      • spacemanspiff85

        If Batiuk just let the local papers insert the day’s weather forecast in the word balloons he drew, it would be a huge improvement and people would actually care about the strip and pay attention to it.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      If Tom Batiuk did a crossover with Snuffy Smith, he would make it about comic book collecting.

  9. Rusty Shackleford

    And WTF with Crankshaft this week. Doesn’t Lillian live right next door. But ha ha, she is losing her mind….ha ha.

    About a month ago I saw an older neighbor ( in her 70s) outside getting her mail, she was standing there looking lost. I made a joke, then about a week later her husband told me she has Alzheimer’s and it is getting worse quickly. I felt bad for joking….but Batty has no shame. Good thing my neighbors don’t read Crankshaft.

    • The Duck of Death

      Yes, I’m looking forward to a cranberry-relish themed week in Crankshaft, at the end of which we a) still don’t know what is in the mysterious cranberry relish, besides cranberries and b) never see the relish served or eaten.

      Oh boy! [rubbing hands in expectant glee]