Candy and a Current Bun

Link to today’s strip.

More terribly-constructed writing. Let’s improve panel one.

I suppose Batiuk’s thought process was “Readers will want to know where the candy is. That’s vitally important for the strip to work.” Well, Tom, no it isn’t. People might wonder about the bowl of radioactive isotopes on the piano, but they’ll probably put it down to one of those things that Bizarro puts in his strip. (Looks like the isotopes have been hard at work, judging from the cactus-thing on the right.)

Also, does that mean that candy in other locations is fair game at any time? Although I bet they’re all those Circus Peanut things. Or mints that have been in a bowl so long they’ve become part of it.

I’m not sure how the system in panel two would work–the iPad doesn’t seem to be connected to the piano, and…ultimately, I don’t care. I bet Tom Batiuk doesn’t know how it works either. But we do get another sad Dinkle! Yeah!

And hey, someone remembered the photo corners this time.



Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

53 responses to “Candy and a Current Bun

  1. William R Thompson

    Each day this week has been a personal Groundhog Day. Every morning I wake up, see Dinkle and want to hide for the next six weeks.

  2. RudimentaryLathe?

    I….*think*…..this is supposed to be about delayed gratification vs. ….. I don’t exactly know … the “everyone gets a trophy” trope combined with “technology bad” ….. but I’m not seeing the actual joke.
    I gotta hand it to Batty, you never know just *how* he’s going to blow it; that makes him a little more entertaining than the typists currently helming Rex Morgan, Judge Parker, and Mark Trail.

    • RudimentaryLathe?

      Also I’m not liking Flush Freeman in the masthead one little bit 😬

      • Epicus Doomus

        LOL I hear that, Rudi.

      • The Duck of Death

        “Aristotle’s children vs Einstein’s enfants terrible” — the very phrase makes me shudder in dread of the pseudo-philosophical gibberish it portends.

        And typically, while showing off his erudition, Batty gets it wrong. It’s “enfants terribles,” you big pseud. The plural is in the damn English dictionary. You know, that book on your shelf, probably with the name Webster somewhere on the spine? The book you never look at, because you already know it all?

      • Rusty Shackleford

        Oh no, it’s just going to get worse with another bad character spouting nonsense about a topic Batty is woefully ignorant of.

      • Dood

        I’ll take Flush over today’s Johann Sebastian Brach.

  3. Epicus Doomus

    “Positive feedback”? Sorry, but that simply isn’t the Dinkle way. In Westview, if you’re enjoying a music lesson, you’re doing it wrong. This probably goes a long way toward explaining why Dinkle is still the town’s only musician of any note, which is all part of his master plan. Or maybe it’s just a big coincidence, who knows? But when your town’s “indie music scene” consists of marching band and geriatric nursing home jazz combo playing church lofts, it’s obvious that something when horribly awry at some point.

  4. Sourbelly

    “You can’t have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat! How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat?”

    Anyway, I guess the formula is: promise of old lady’s radioactive candy = a colored fingering system providing positive feedback. Except, the latter makes Dinkhole sad or something. Well, as long as that hatchet-faced asswipe is sad, I’m happy!

  5. Y. Knott

    “And to ensure that every lesson includes positive reinforcement for the teacher, we line up colourful Jell-O Vodka Shooters on the top of the piano! Have as many as you want, even before the lesson ends!”

  6. be ware of eve hill

    We have been somewhat blessed over the past couple of days. Dinkle’s dialog has been limited to three words and a sigh. Let’s hope this trend continues for the rest of the story arc.

    The bad news is that I have visualized a small child with the face of Dinkle. Those jowls! The jack-o-lantern grin! The vacant stare! Yaaaaaahhhhhhh!!!

    I can’t get the image out of my head. Wish me luck sleeping tonight.

    • be ware of eve hill

      Well… I didn’t have too much trouble sleeping last night, but I did have a bit of a nightmare. I dreamed I was counting sheep when Dinkle eviscerated all of them with his powerful T. Rex like jaws. It was awful.

      Dinkle’s jaws. They must have power of a bear trap! If Dinkle ever developed lockjaw, there’d be no way to pull those jaws apart.

  7. billytheskink

    At least we finally see an exhibit at this OMEA conference that actually involves music education. Doesn’t make it any better…

    • The Duck of Death

      Although electronic teachers that link to keyboards have been around for quite a while, it seems unlikely that they would bother to exhibit at OMEA, since the last thing these pension-chasers want is to be replaced by a far cheaper, far more effective robot that never takes sick days and will never unionize.

  8. The Duck of Death

    Apt title for this one, BC, since parsing TB’s writing can often feel like trying to interpret Syd Barrett lyrics, only Syd’s work was not ugly and frustrating.

    Watch out, Harry. Your muted-zoom lessons are on the verge of being replaced by a method of music teaching that children don’t dread. An infinitely patient teacher that rewards you instead of punishing you, and doesn’t reek of stale old-man smell and burnt coffee from a quarter-note mug.

    • Epicus Doomus

      Yes, if Syd overindulged in hot cocoa and seasonal low-alcohol craft ciders instead of hashish and LSD. Instead of staring off into the distance while strumming the same chord over and over, he’d be sitting in a small home studio, staring into the distance and writing the same gag over and over.

    • The Duck of Death

      … and I just now saw the pun in the title. I’d misread it as a typo. Nice one, BC!

  9. William R Thompson

    The message today is . . . uh . . . kids have it too easy these days? Learning should be slow and hard? You should learn things so you can earn a reward, and not learn because something is worth learning all by itself?

    • The Duck of Death

      The message today is: If you are a lazy old fart with a no-work sinecure teaching the local rugrats, your customer base is about to ditch you for an electronic teacher.

      Ironically, the software is a better listener — at least it doesn’t mute you during Zoom lessons — and it doesn’t despise its students either.

      And Batty thinks this is a bad thing.

      • Rusty Shackleford

        Right, the key message here is that technology is bad, because it changes the way things are done. And the way things were done in the past was always better.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        To be fair, it is a bad thing if you’re a MUSIC EDUCATOR. Why in the hell does TB think this product would be marketed at a convention of the people it intends to replace?

  10. J.J. O'Malley

    Umm, Harry, have you EVER been shown giving one of your music students–either from Westview High or your private tutoring sessions–candy after a good lesson? No, and you have a garage filled with unsold band candy! What the heck are you sighing for?

  11. ComicBookHarriet

    Instant gratification from colored lights? What happened to tying a reward system to unhealthy eating?!? How am I gonna sell all that Band Candy if people don’t get addicted to the sugar rush as tiny tots!?

    If I have to deal with dentures and diabetes, then those little brats do too!

    • Hitorque

      Nevermind the fact that people trying to implement video game mechanics into music education (or any kind of education for that matter) has been around since, you know, the invention of video games…

      Something like this could be a specially tailored Godsend for Autistic or Dyslexic or other special needs kids who want to learn music, but of course all the Big Dink can do is lament the loss of his good old days because EVERYTHING has to be about HIM and his worldview…

  12. The Duck of Death

    Crankshaft today is just gold. Absolute 24K gold.

    A benevolent Les schools Lillian on The Ways of the Writer: “Some of the things you were taught about writing tend to come off as a little stiff.”

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Yep, love how Les is portrayed so slim, trim, and nicely dressed. I thought the word play yesterday would lead to Les throwing the book at her, followed by the requisite smirks.

    • I thought Lillian has already published several books, as opposed to Les’ endless variants of one. Who should be learning from whom?

      • ComicBookHarriet

        Wow. Les in Crankshaft looks just like Les in Funky Winkerbean. I guess Tom did just randomly decide to destroy the Westview/Centerview time differential. Either that or Les aged HORRIBLY just a couple years after Lisa’s death. And in Crankshaftland that happened sometime between now and June 2018 when young Les last appeared. But that would be out of step with the few flashbacks we got to Summer’s childhood.

        Nothing Batiuk has done will ever baffle me more. For nearly 15 years we had a time differential….and poof. Gone. No fanfare. Sometime between when he was scripting the Organist Death, and when he decided to close the Valentine, he just said, “Fuck It.” and gave up.

        • ComicBookHarriet

          BUT THEN AGAIN… during the dumb Crankshaft talks to one armed newspaperman arc…they go to eat at Montoni’s and a younger Funky is using the leaf blower, and then at Christmas time they reference the penny sock he gave them as having been around for YEARS.


          • The Duck of Death

            Come on now, CBH. In the words of the Great Man himself, “… just sit back and wait for all to eventually be revealed when you least expect it.”

  13. Hitorque

    1. The Big Dink loves music so much that any innovations to make it easier to learn or more accessible to younger generations is EVIL AND GODLESS AND SHOULD BE DESTROYED!

    2. It’s funny because this is the same hypocritical bastard currently teaching his clients through Skype or FaceTime or whatever…

  14. TimP

    As a parent and as a so-called manager, one of the absolute best things you can do is provide immediate, positive ‘feedback*’ when a person is doing something that you want them to continue to do (and even work harder at improving how they do it).

    *As a former rock and roll type of musician, feedback has a much different primary connotation to me so I don’t like to use the term.

    • The Duck of Death

      I’m currently training our family’s miniature poodle puppy and this is one of the top pieces of information I’ve gleaned: Instant reinforcement, if possible at the exact moment the good thing is done. I’m reading “Don’t Shoot the Dog,” which is ostensibly about dog training, if you read the title, but it goes into detail about training humans as well (for example, sports training or child-rearing).

      The book recommends a clicker, which I use when I can, but if I don’t have it, I substitute an instant YES! And that instant reinforcement does work, for both humans and animals. Not just because reinforcement = reward, but because the timing (immediately when the desired action is performed) makes it clear what exactly is being rewarded.

      Lousy teachers like Harry are likely to be more specific with their negative feedback (“you missed the passing note in the third measure”) vs positive feedback (“nice”).

      • TimP

        In people managing school, we were taught that, as a rule of thumb, you want to have about a 3 to 1 ratio of positive to negative guidance. In children managing classes, we were taught that, at a minimum, you want to have about a 6 to 1 ratio of positive to negative guidance.

        That sounds like you have to make a lot of positive statements- and you do! – but the key insight is that you are really trying to lower the comments comprising the negative part of the ratio.

        N.B., This advice does not apply whatsoever to the comments section of comics mocking websites. Also, just because you pick up on the key insight doesn’t mean actually doing it right is easy to do.

        • The Duck of Death

          Getting esoteric, but there’s also a bit of cognitive usefulness involved. Telling someone what to do is far more specific and actionable than telling them what not to do. Negatives are inherently more abstract, and less comprehensible.

          Compare: “Don’t play that passage so quickly” vs “play that passage more slowly, at a stately tempo.” One is abstract, since NOT doing something is not an action, and the other is specific and executable.

          All of this would be programmed into any decent music-teaching software. I doubt any of it is employed by an egotist like Harry, who thinks students are lucky to even share a piano bench with him.

          • Jeff M.

            I learned the same thing when I was working in TV production. When I was an underling I used to get feedback on a script or a rough cut that was clear, but not specific. “It seems too slow.” When I got to be a supervisor I had learned that (aside from of course that 3:1 ratio of compliments vs. criticism) that feedback had to be clear and also *specific.* “This section seems too slow. Cut these three VO lines and add a couple more crime scene photos at 00:25:00.” And then we make those changes–and everyone goes home at 5, rather than dicking around until midnight trying to figure out what “too slow” means, and half the time getting it wrong. (I have no idea why I thought this was relevant but I’ve already typed it so I am hitting “post comment.”)

    • hitorque

      And as I mentioned upstream, this piano makes perfect sense because today’s kids are raised on nothing but instant and continuous feedback just from video games alone… Every sound cue, visual, or flash of color you see in a game when you have even minor success has been psychologically tested and proven to tickle the pleasure centers in our brains.

      Hell if I had something like this as a kid, maybe I wouldn’t have gotten bored of violin so quickly…

  15. Maxine of Arc

    Has Dinkle ever given positive reinforcement to anybody?

  16. Banana Jr. 6000

    Hey BC, I punched this strip up even more:

    The second panel is just as full of needless words as the first one. And it’s debatable whether “positive” even needs to be there. I think it can stay, because it echoes what’s happening in the first panel. The rest are unnecessary details.

    I also removed the candy bowl from panel 1. Not only do the words “candy bowl” not need to be there, the picture of it doesn’t need to be there either. The joke works exactly the same without it. Apparently Batiuk thought Ayers’ art was so bad he had to spell out what that object was. And if that was the case, he should have sent back the art for a re-do, not try to write around it. Omitting it solves both problems.

    • I see one flaw in your version, though–Dinkle is still there.

    • The Duck of Death

      What a massive improvement. Brevity is the soul of wit — at least according to Shakespeare, who sadly did not have the benefit of Les as an editor, but nevertheless managed to put out some passable stuff.

      This could have been nearly a real joke if Batiuk had used parallel constructions — ie, positive feedback in both panels. P1 would read, “You’ll get some candy as soon as you’ve finished your lesson, Harold.”

      Or, even better, “That’s very good, Harold! I think you’ve earned a piece of candy from the bowl!”

      • Jeff M.

        Back to my TV production days where every single word counted: “No candy until you finish your lesson, Harold!” My boss insisted that the last thing you do with a script before the VO is recorded is to go through it and cut out every single unnecessary word. I scored big points with him via my description of the Johnstown flood: “Ten minutes, and the wave was gone.”

        • The Duck of Death

          For VOs, yes, pithy wins every single time. I’ll make an exception for dialogue, though, because speaking style is part of characterization. Think of Frasier. Frasier had a tendency to blather on with circumlocutions, while his father spoke short, to-the-point sentences. This reflected who they were; Frasier speaking in blunt language wouldn’t be the same person. Good comics use dialogue to express character, too. Pogo really excelled at this. Not only did characters speak in different syntax, with different accents, but some of them even got their own fonts and word balloon shapes!

          This is moot in FW, however, since characters all seem to speak in the same voice, which isn’t surprising since they all look the same too, and all went to the same high school, and live in the same town, and eat at the same pizzeria. Christ, what hackwork.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        It needed parallel constructions, which my edit gave it. But the bigger problem is having too many details. I don’t even know which things we’re supposed to parallel. Why is Harry sad in the last panel?

        – Because “positive feedback” is in the form of computerized words instead of something tangible and desired?
        – Because it’s provided by a machine instead of a human?
        – Because feedback is positive, instead of negative?
        – Because the computer screen has replaced the candy jar?
        – Because the first picture is black and white and this one is “colored”?
        – Because the feedback is immediate?
        – Because the app doesn’t make you finish your lesson before giving feedback?
        – Because an app can now do his job?

        The gag throws all of these details at you, and doesn’t commit to any of them. We have no idea what Dinkle is objecting to. To make it even more unclear, we’ve just seen Dinkle talk about teaching piano classes remotely. And that he hates it so much that he mutes his students.

        You could rewrite this strip 8 different ways, to make all 8 of those approaches work. I did #1, but for #2 you could do something like have the app mimic what the old woman says, without the salesperson even being in the shot. For #3, the woman’s words would actually be negative feedback. Or at least feedback: making him finish his lesson even isn’t a commentary on his playing. It’s comparing apples to oranges.

        But this is how Tom Batiuk writes jokes. He aims at everything and hits nothing. And contradicts himself from one day to the next.

        • The Duck of Death

          – Because the apotheosis of human society was reached in September, 1961 (coinciding with the publication of Flash #123) and everything since then has been a downhill slide into degenerate, soulless modernity, and no one does anything the right way any more.


    • Suicide Squirrel

      Batyuk’s writing style reminds me of a computer game I played in the 1980s. I’m referring to the text-based adventure game series ‘Zork’. There was an extra-descriptive game mode called “verbose”. Verbose mode gave you more information than you needed and actually slowed down game play.

      BTW, Batyuk missed one. He didn’t specify piano lesson in the first panel.

      Here’s hoping Batyuk gets eaten by a grue

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        I remember Zork! I never was any good at those games. Remember “Starcross” and “Suspended”? And the Hitchhiker’s Guide one?

        • Suicide Squirrel

          I have both “Starcross” and “Suspended”.

          Unfortunately, I no longer have a computer with a 5.25″ drive.

  17. Suicide Squirrel

    The low tech version of a colored fingering system in a piano lesson.