October 3, 2022 at 10:17 am
Actually, one of our esteemed guest hosts (I’m not saying who) just returned from a trip to a far and distant land, where they took part in various rituals and whatnot, and they needed some recovery time before they were physically and mentally prepared to deal with six days of Batton Thomas’ inane drollery. And that’s all I’ll say about that.
Now it can be told: Epicus was talking about me, folks. After a week’s vacation in Jamaica (not all that far and distant), I was feeling so irie that I couldn’t bring myself to dwell on Funky Winkerbean. But it is my turn in the barrel, so let’s roll.
Though he has earned renown as an author, Les still carries around hurt feelings from his awkward teenage years. So when Funky recalls the pickup football games of their youth, Les has to morosely recall that no one would throw the ball his way. But what’s gotten into Funky? The last time we saw these two playing tennis, Funky’s play was embarrassingly poor, and he sported braces on both knees. Today he appears ready to tangle with a pack of spastic Westview teens.
47 responses to “How Do You Do, Fellow Kids?”
I really feel like TB is trying to get me to lower my guard this October. But you’re not fooling me, TB. I am ready for the insanity and inanity of the Pizza Monster.
“Remember how we used to play pickup football in the fall?”
“Yeah, it’s how Lisa found out she had cancer, you insensitive prick.”
LOL uh yeah, this came immediately to mind. Which is kind of messed-up when you think about it.
Les gets offended if anyone orders a combo meal Lisa wouldn’t have liked, and he doesn’t bat an eye at this. Unbelievable. Also, isn’t that Funky in the 1999 scene? Meaning he was THERE when it happened, and he doesn’t catch this faux pas either?
But whatever. It’s not Lisa Week, it’s Whine About High School Week, so Les forgets all his other character traits. When his inability to deal with Lisa’s death is the only noteworthy trait any of the 90 characters in the strip have.
So, is the guy in the black shirt supposed to be Les? Because aside from the glasses, it doesn’t look anything like him.
That’s Zhang Li, the male half of the Chinese couple that Batiuk introduced for a prestige arc and then kept around for a while for extra diversity.
But Les was there. He’s the guy in the scarf, just standing with his hands in his pockets while Lisa is slow to get up after a tackle.
Of course, geeky Lisa was such a great athlete.
The football-themed arc is an annual FW staple, and has been since forever. Thing is, though, that BatYam’s main football-themed character, Bull, is dead. So he has to find new ways to work football into the strip, and this is what he (ahem) came up with this time around. Given his, uh, history and all, it seems unlikely that Funky would suggest playing football with a bunch of rowdy teens, but again, Bull is dead, so football options are limited. Oh well.
I hope Funky plans to show a much younger generation the proper, time-honored way to make a fool of dorks like Les, like they did in the good old days. But of course it will turn out that Les dazzles them with his innate talent, because in the Funkyverse even an old and clumsy dork outclasses the best of Generation Latest.
These two men are 68 years old. We just saw their 50th high school reunion. What on earth are they going to teach a bunch of young people, especially when neither of them even played football?
“HEY, YOU OLD WEIRDO! WHY ARE YOU GRABBING AND PAWING AT MY CHEST LIKE THAT?”
“Oh, gee, sorry. It was an impromptu breast exam. Force of habit.”
“Old age and treachery will beat youth and skill every time.”
Funky played football in high school. Not exactly sure which position.
Prone, most likely.
This has a vaporous promise: the two oldsters engage the assembled youths to allow them to participate. Funky, at long last, throws the football to Les, who catches it and is immediately swarmed by the aforementioned youths, resulting in Les’ spine being snapped and him confined to a sickbed for the rest of his days. He could definitely get a book or two out of that!
However, I say “vaporous” because such a promise will immediately blow away.
“Let’s show these kids how it’s done!”
“‘It’ being ‘how old men humiliate themselves in public’?”
“There’s a reason we don’t invite you to the house anymore, you know…”
This time, go REALLY deep, Les!
Deeper … deeper … no, I can still see you …
Look, get in your car, drive in a straight line for a few hours, then get out. I want you REALLY, REALLY deep. And don’t come back until you’ve caught this football I’m definitely gonna throw you this time, Charlie Brown — I mean, Les.
Getting together with your friends for a friendly football game on a Saturday morning is a very cool fall ritual, not to be tampered with by a couple of 60 year old losers/creeps. “Um, sorry, sirs, we’re actually in the middle of a really good game here. Could you guys come back later, when we’re…uh, not here anymore?”
That’s not a pickup football game, it’s a copper-infused socks commercial starring
Brett FavreBernie Kosar.
TB does realize that these two are no longer middle-aged, right? (of course he doesn’t…)
They aren’t at that age where they discover their athletic limitations at the hands of the college-aged… they are about 50 years (!!!) older than these kids they want to play football with… contact football no less, it appears! Throw in the fact that neither one was a fixture on the Westview HS football team back in the day. They couldn’t even stay on the roster of a team that famously NEVER won.
Before I begin with the regular prepared remarks, it’s time for a sports commentary about the abbreviated end of my New York Mets 101-win season:
1. FUCK THE FUCKIN’ idiot commissioner of Major League Baseball for forcing the universal DH on us, which nobody asked for…
2. FUCK THE FUCKIN’ front office for not addressing some serious holes at the trade deadline, which served to make an inferior team fly three times zones to your own place and make y’all look like some punk bitches for the weekend.
3. FUCK THE FUCKIN’ Mets for getting swept by the pitiful, no-business-being-born, nothing-to-play-for Chicago Cubs when just one win against them could have diverted this whole nightmare…
4. FUCK THE FUCKIN’ $43 million Max Scherzer for absolutely shitting the bed in two consecutive high leverage must-win starts… Exactly the kind of starts your agent demanded a $43 million premium price tag for. If you’re nursing an injury, next time sit your ass out!
5. FUCK THE FUCKIN’ Mets hitters for grinding their bats into sawdust all weekend and making longtime established playoff gas can Yu Darvish look like Koufax and an opposing pitcher you’ve had consistent success against all year in Joe Musgrove look like Gibson…
6. FUCK THE FUCKIN’ San Diego Padres for being an all talk/no balls afterthought in the NL West who had been taking it up the rectum with no Vaseline from the Dodgers all season and needed to inflate their record by getting fat off minnows like Arizona and Colorado to even make it to the postseason… I’m going to enjoy watching y’all turn back into pumpkins next week.
7. AND FUCK THE FUCKIN’ Braves, Phillies and Yankees just because… You’ll get yours in the end.
And on to new business:
8. Two 68-year-olds playing sandlot tackle football with a bunch of random teenagers? Yeah, I see this working out real well…
8a. Maybe tomorrow they’ll pass by a skate park and get the notion to show the kiddies “how in was done” back in the old Dogtown days when they were growing up in Santa Monica?
9. I’m sorry, but exactly when the hell did Dr. Funkenstoner play football again?
10. It’s funny because Dr. Funkenstoner has literally dozens of friends, relatives and extended family members in town spanning three generations, enough to organize a full 11-on-11 probably if he wanted to once you add in Cayla and Lester’s daughters… But what would be the fun in that?
10a. Is it too much to hope that this week turns into that calcio scene from “House of Gucci”?
11. We all know an injury is coming this week, so let’s make some odds!!
Bone fracture: 4/1
Severe strain req. hospitalization: 5/1
Internal bleeding/organ injury: 8/1
Arm/Hand/Shoulder injury: 3/1
Knee/Leg/Hip injury: 6/5
Cardiac arrest: 12/1
Collapsed lung: 17/1
Eye/Nose/Dental injury: 9/2
Back/neck injury: 3/2
So place your bets!!
12. The **ONLY** way this makes any sense is if Dr. Funkenstoner was feeling inspired after watching the basketball scene from “Cocoon 2” on TV before leaving home…
I think it’s going to end with Les winning an award, or being inspired to write another book. Now that Lisa’s Story is finally over, he’s got nothing to do anymore, and Batiuk needs to invent a reason to keep shoving him down our throat.
My money’s on Laundry Time: Bull Bushka’s Struggle With CTE. Which will win Les the Pulitzer Prize some time in 2023.
I’ll take Death for 100/1.
Maybe Funky will indeed discover he has cancer during this little scrimmage; That’s quite the lump between his shoulders in the first panel.
Reminds me of when the Three Stooges disguised themselves as football players to sneak into a game: Moe tells the guard at the gate “Quarterback!”; Larry yells “Halfback!”; and Curly comes out with his helmet under the back of his jersey and says “Hunchback!”
And here, I just thought that we’d end up with these two idiots rupturing something because Funky wants to pretend he’s a young man. I should have known that Les would scream Lisa’s name because it’s October.
Isn’t travel great? I just spent two weeks in Romania and Hungary and it was a wonderful experience. I saw so many new things and met a lot of great people. Anyways, welcome back!
It’s tough getting back into the groove. I picked up Covid on the plane ride home and am still recovering.
Ouch. Take care of yourself and get well soon. I had it about a month ago and it really kicked my ass.
Thanks. Feeling pretty good today but it kicked my butt.
May you enjoy a speedy recovery and not have to go to Texas for a procedure.
Meanwhile, back in Centerville, another “Who, me? Li’l ol’ humble me?” gets a surprise undeserved award.
Lillian’s unmerited accolades particularly gall me because, IIRC, we’ve never even seen a sentence of her writing. We even saw a paragraph or two of Snoopy’s unpublished gems, but from this award-winning writer of cozy mysteries — nothing.
“Murder in the Choir Loft.
The funeral was under way. Upstairs in the choir loft, the organist, violinist, cellist, vibraphone player, and tympanist had begun playing ‘When the Saints Go Marching in,’ readying themselves to march down the winding stairs and take the jaunty tune down the aisles of the packed church.
The deceased, who had never left Ohio except for one time he had missed a turnoff on I-80 and found himself in Pennsylvania for a few minutes, had requested a real, authentic New Orleans funeral. And by golly, the choir would deliver! As Millie, the 98-year-old organist, supplied the peppy New Orleans swing, Bingo the cat darted down the narrow stairs, leading the way for the other musicians to follow. Zelda, the sprightly 101-year-old vibraphone player, gathered up her instrument and started down the stairs. One step into her journey, her foot touched something soft, something she couldn’t see because the vibraphone blocked her view. ‘Scat, Bingo!’ she whispered loudly, with a slight kick. But Bingo mewled from the bottom of the choir loft stairs. So what was Zelda kicking? She put down the vibraphone to see, and her scream tore through the church like a razor blade through a choir robe. The music stopped. Every head in the place swiveled to look up at the choir loft.
‘There’s been a murder!’ cried Zelda. ‘A murder in the choir loft!‘”
I’m all for it, as long as it’s Dinkle who gets murdered. Could be a good mystery too; the number of people who want Dinkle dead has to number in the thousands.
I’m envisioning something like that Agatha Christie mystery, which shall go unnamed so as not to spoil it for anyone, in which the victim was so hated that many people clamored to get in on the murder.
I’m envisioning a classified ad to run in the local papers, plus the NY Times and every Craigslist local section:
WRONGED BY HARRY DINKLE? We are taking care of business. If you want to get your licks in, write to box WLBLMA, Westview, OH 44308.
ERRATA: The correct box is WGBLMA. We look forward to seeing you at the ‘event.’
I thought of the forgotten movie Drowning Mona, where Bette Midler’s character was so obnoxious that everyone wanted her dead.
(Ruthless People, which also stars Bette Midler as a kidnapped woman nobody wants back, is the movie you want to see though. Very funny.)
Who will ransom Red Chief?
In fairness, the only reason for Batiuk to give us examples of Lillian’s writing would be to demonstrate just how inept he is at writing award-worthy material. Because, let’s face it… any examples he gave would NOT live up to how he’s presenting it. (I mean, remember how brilliant and mind-blowing that “climate damage” cover of the Subterrycloth was supposed to be?)
(And it’s not just Batiuk, either. It seems to be a common thing with writers, where they’ll tell you a character wrote something brilliant, but any samples we see are… not that. Sometimes the author just isn’t capable of that level of quality, and the ones that are… well, there’s no real reason for them to give the “good stuff” to their characters, is there?)
I won’t really fault Batiuk in this case; showing Lillian’s writing would really only serve as bait for us snarkers. Not that it wouldn’t be welcome, but I’m not going to hold this one against him.
And it’s not like Batty knows what award winning writing looks like either!
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. basically got around this by saying that Kilgore Trout wasn’t a very good writer, merely one with exceptionally good ideas. That said, he did give a passage in *God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater* from which Philip Jose Farmer crafted *Venus on the Half-Shell*.
One of the few books in which you can believe that a fictional character is a good author is Christina Stead’s *Man Who Loved Children*.
>I won’t really fault Batiuk in this case;
>showing Lillian’s writing would really
>only serve as bait for us snarkers.
Sure, but a cleverer writer could let us in on the joke. He went halfway there with the snippets from the 84-volume Claude Barlow biography Dinkle was (is?) writing. The writing was idiotic and the puns were forced, but I think Batiuk knew how terrible it was and that was in itself the joke.
Snoopy, too, was a terrible writer. His overwrought or ridiculous prose was the joke.
If Batiuk went over the top, like I did in my “excerpt,” it would actually work because it would be a meta-joke — acknowledging that Lillian doesn’t deserve any award other than grand prize in the annual Bulwer Lytton contest (Bulwer Lytton being the terrible writer Snoopy was referencing when he started stories with “It was a dark and stormy night” — again, a meta-joke).
There are other ways to make a character believable.
Think about Frasier Crane in Cheers or Frasier. He’s sophisticated, knowledgeable, stuffy, and overthinks everything. And he talks intelligently about psychiatry when the script calls for it. It’s easy to believe he’s a highly educated psychiatrist.
There is absolutely nothing about Les’ personality that suggests he’d be any good at writing. He doesn’t read, isn’t interested in literature, has no interest in his high school English teaching job, doesn’t take criticism, does no research, is an egomaniac, and what little we see of his writing is atrocious. He spends all his time either moping over Lisa, or screwing around with unrelated activities. And he does things that make it impossible for him to have written the masterpiece he supposedly did, like being too emotionally fragile to read Lisa’s diary. And the world just lines up to throw awards at him.
The same is true of other characters, like Cindy. She constantly bemoans losing her looks, but you never see her hitting the gym, eating right, or taking steps to preserve her youthful appearance. Nor does she try to learn any other skills isn’t so important.
Tom Batiuk thinks adult life is like high school, where you can just show up and be the best by virtue of having the right skills. You were the best writer in your graduating class? Big whoop. Every high school in America has a best writer every year. And a prettiest girl, and a best athlete, and a most talented musician, and everything else. When you grow past high school and try out for real jobs, you’re not special anymore. Batiuk gets this completely wrong. He thinks once you’ve conquered high school, you’ve already achieved success at the highest level, and getting elite-level jobs is simple. It’s not. The competition gets tougher, and you learn you’re not the only person on earth with your skill set. Secondary skills, people skills, level of commitment, and the willingness to hone your craft start to matter a lot.
It’s not insensitive for Funky to bring up the football game where Lisa’s cancer was discovered. On the contrary, I’m sure Les is delighted by it. After all, “having a dead wife” is Les’s sole personality trait, and his claim to fame.
What’s really off about this strip is Funky’s motivation. Do we know why Funky wants to show these kids a lesson? Did they do something to him? Is Funky usually trying to one-up kids in the neighborhood?
Ah wait, I forgot how this comic works for a moment. Tom Batiuk wants to tell an “old man gets hurt playing sports” gag, and is happy to rewrite the history of his characters to fit this week’s gag.
Gad this is like the fourth time today I have checked back here because I can not remember what today’s Funky Winkerbean is. I guess that’s better than being offended and angered by the strip but sheesh.
I’m not sure what’s going on with the Les face in the SOSF banner, but I hope it means seeing Les gang tackled by a stampede of teenagers. (The thought of Les crushed by a 16-ton heavy thing also brings a smile to these lips)
Also, glad to see the return of the Funky choking Les panel.
The banner promises some good strips…who wouldn’t want to see Les get obliterated in the most painful way possible?
I swear, the first ten times I looked at the banner I thought it was a bald Les with just a sort of grey tonsure. And I judged by the look on his face that perhaps he’d gone bald overnight or the same thing that “threw his arm out” had ripped off his cheap toupee. I was all excited. But it’s not that at all. Poo.