Today’s strip is pretty inoffensive, as these things go. It might border on “nice” if we liked a single one of these characters.
Not sure why Funky and Holly look so surprised to see Morton playing the trombone. They know Morton is in this band. They know the band is playing at St. Spires. They walk into the Christmas Eve service hearing the strains of “Silent Night”. Put two and two together…
OK, sure, most of the churches I’m familiar with place both the choir and orchestra in front of the congregation rather than behind, but such a slight difference wouldn’t floor me like a character from the late They’ll Do It Every Time.
Finally! Dinkle and the alumni band show up in today’s strip… though Jerome T. Bushka A&L Automotive Stadium looks suspiciously like St. Sprires church and the alumni band doesn’t have any instruments (though they all look to be about the age I would expect). Weird.
After the throwaway panels, you almost could have convinced me that a computer wrote this. Former marching band director plays music from famous composer. You could generate this gag, such as it is, with a UNIVAC… though I think the UNIVAC would spit out dialogue with a little more flair.
And with that, I’m out. Tackling tomorrow’s tantalizing strip and taking to task the next two weeks will be the incomparable Spaceman Spiff.
Last week faithful and valued commenters William Thompson and Maxine of Arc got on the subject of church mice, specifically questioning why they would be quiet or poor. I promised them an explanation, so today here it is.
Why are church mice quiet?
Church mice are quiet because in the 20th century two idioms got smashed together. “Quiet as a mouse.” Which has been around since the 16th century, and “Poor/hungry as a church mouse.” which has been around since the 17th century.
The quietness of rodents is pretty self explanatory. But why are church mice poorer and hungrier than other mice?
For any of you who didn’t have to sit through three years of confirmation or multiple years of religious history in college, transubstantiation is the Catholic belief that communion bread and wine become, in reality, the actual body and blood of Christ. Not a remembrance or a symbol or even just inhabited by the the spirit or essence of the body, (Lutheran consubstantiation.) The substance has been transformed into actual Godflesh.
So Catholics take a lot of care that any excess communion bread left over after a Mass is protected; and the place they put the extra, either a tabernacle or an ambry, often has kneeling rails for private devotions or eucharistic adoration.
Even before transubstantiation became a set idea, early Christians didn’t want little mice gnawing on communion wafers.
“Let all take care that no unbaptized person taste of the Eucharist nor a mouse or other animal, and that none of it at all fall and be lost. For it is the Body of Christ to be eaten by them that believe and not to be thought of lightly.”(Hippolytus, Apostolic Tradition III:32:2 235 AD.)
But what would happen if a mouse DID eat communion bread? Medieval theologians were fascinated with the idea, and used the question ‘Quid Mus Sumit?‘ ‘What does the mouse eat?’ as a thought experiment to explore the idea of The Eucharist. What is it? What does it do? What would it do to someone who ate it without knowing what it was? At what point does it stop being body and blood?
“Even though a mouse or a dog were to eat the consecrated host, the substance of Christ’s body would not cease to be under the species, so long as those species remain, and that is, so long as the substance of bread would have remained; just as if it were to be cast into the mire. Nor does this turn to any indignity regarding Christ’s body, since He willed to be crucified by sinners without detracting from His dignity; especially since the mouse or dog does not touch Christ’s body in its proper species, but only as to its sacramental species. Some, however, have said that Christ’s body would cease to be there, directly it were touched by a mouse or a dog; but this again detracts from the truth of the sacrament, as stated above. None the less it must not be said that the irrational animal eats the body of Christ sacramentally; since it is incapable of using it as a sacrament. Hence it eats Christ’s body “accidentally,” and not sacramentally, just as if anyone not knowing a host to be consecrated were to consume it. And since no genus is divided by an accidental difference, therefore this manner of eating Christ’s body is not set down as a third way besides sacramental and spiritual eating.”
Of course all this Catholic rodent obsession was eventually used by Protestants during the Reformation as a big old ‘gotcha’ when lambasting Catholic ‘idolatry’ of the communion. Some of it got downright vicious and definitely disingenuous. And it’s from about this time that ‘hungry as a church mouse’ became an idiom.
So there you have it. Church mice are poor because they can’t get any communion bread, and we joke about it because of leftover anti-Catholic sentiment.
Many apologies to anyone who came to this blog today expecting comics criticism instead of a theological deep dive, but I wanted to end my shift talking about something I actually find compelling, rather than dance the Dinklepolka.
It’s been an interesting couple weeks. I mean in terms of the straws I grasped at to try and find something to say. Those straws were kinda fun to braid together. The strip was boring as mud. Actually, I take that back. Mud is much more interesting. I think I’ll research that next.
Join me again in a couple months as I regale you all about INTERESTING MUD. For example. Did you know all baseballs used in MLB are rubbed with special mud harvested, prepped, and packaged by a single man from New Jersey who gathers it in a secret location every year along the Delaware River?
Until next time then. TF Hackett is taking over tomorrow. Good luck good sir. You have my sympathies.
I want to thank everyone in the comments yesterday for completely ruining what I was going to post today. I was going to go on and on about how Dinkle has learned all about online fundraising multiple times over the past few years, and pull up the strips to prove it. But our crack commenters Billy the Skink and Banana Jr. already discussed it in depth. Jerks.
I mean, what am I supposed to talk about today? The fact that Dinkle couldn’t wait to call his wife over his viral cat video epiphany, and is postponing practice to do it? The fact that he apparently called his wife on a Playstation Vita? The fact that Lillian is now carrying the pineapple laptop around one handed, and it made me question if she’s been doing that all week?
While going mad trying to scrape together something passing for an amusing thought, my eyes were drawn to the wedding rings Dinkle and Harriet are wearing. It’s an interesting detail to include when the art so often seems quarter-assed. Scrolling through the strips this arc, the ring is inconsistent. It showed up Sunday, but the art on the Sunday strips is always higher effort. It showed up on Monday April, 12. But after that, it was nowhere to be seen, even when the hands were in focus.
And scrolling through archives, there are more disappearing wedding rings than last call at a dive bar. Wedding rings tend to appear when the person’s marriage is either being discussed, or the spouse is in the strip, and be absent otherwise. It’s like the rings exist in some kind of phantom zone and magically phase into being when contacted with an unseen magical matrimonial energy field.
This is best exemplified from Funky’s AA exercise rant from last month. Remembering his wife causes Funky to magically manifest his wedding ring mid-speech.
I don’t even know what I’m trying to say with this, just something weird I noticed.
Even weirder, did you know that Lillian magically manifested a ring yesterday in service of a crappy joke?
This has been your daily dose of Nitpicking News! Finding something to say about nothing since 2010.
Join us tomorrow as we veer off on oblique tangents to keep from going mad with boredom and frustration, and watch with baited breath as we wait to see if the downvote fairy will visit again tonight and slip us all a little present under our comments while we sleep.
This is plot seems familiar. Barring the possibility that Lillian is suggesting some kind of racy ‘OnlyFans’ account, ala Banana Jr. 6000 excellent porn parody of the St Spires Choir a few weeks ago. (In the comments of the April 3 post, ‘Septic Schlock’, if you haven’t read yet.)
Tell me today’s strip it isn’t a thematic copy of the strip below.
The whole story of the St Spires Choir is a hack job repeat of everything we’ve been through, years before, with the Bedside Manorisms. The only difference is the arcs are crammed closer together, and the Bedside Manorisms actually got to perform for people, (Concert, Christmas Concert, 4th of July Concert).
And now we have today’s strip. 5.) An elderly music group member has the idea to crowdfund online rather than try to sell more candy.
So where will this parallel storytelling lead us? If the past is prologue, then soon Dinkle is going to drag a busload of infirm people on a wacky road trip for a nonsensical adventure in another state all in service of Dinkle’s ego. And, indeed, Dinkle has already dreamed of the future we’re likely heading towards.
Is it possible to sue a comic strip for pain and suffering? Because today is unbearable. An agonizing compound fracture of compounding classic Batuikitis: the swollen grouping of tropes that chokes out all humor.
We have a restatement of yesterday’s problem.
We have a restatement of yesterday’s ‘joke’. (thinking outside something.)
We have references to Crankshaft.
We have Batiuk’s weird habit of refusing to reference Crankshaft by name.
Dinkle is present.
Taken as a whole, today’s strip is insufferable for people following Funky Winkerbean closely and incomprehensible for people reading one-off random strips casually.
I guess if I want quality dramatic storytelling about a wacky church choir and their pet cat sidekick, I’ll have to look to Guideposts to provide.
In what place in this tiny choir loft was this cat hiding?
The church allows a cat in the choir loft? Thereby excluding anyone with feline allergies from choir participation, if not church attendance?
These ladies force a cat that appears social to live alone in a tiny choir loft, with companionship only a couple hours a week during practice and services?
These dumb ladies never thought to mention their cat to Dinkle, their choir director of weeks, if not months, (if not years, given Sunday’s strip)?
They’re still insisting that the Choir Loft is a perpetual man-free zone only recently invaded, when Dinkle has been their choir director for weeks, if not months, if not longer?
Even if the cat was hiding, Dinkle failed to notice litter boxes, food dishes, cat beds, an omnipresent layer of fine black hair covering every surface?
And, the most important question of all: Mopey Pete and Minty’s middle-aged daughter travelled back in time to before her birth to participate in the all-female church choir in Centerview?
Is this an extended, Back to the Future incident?
Or has she come back to prevent some kind of horrifying future apocalypse?
Does she have to work to ensure her own birth?
Does she have to work to PREVENT her own birth?
Is Minty Pete the CAUSE of the horrifying future apocalypse?
Is this poor middle-aged woman in a weirdly tight striped shirt actually burdened by the deaths of a thousand future innocents, and carefully planning her own temporally displaced suicide for the betterment of future mankind?
Wouldn’t that be a much better story than what we’re getting this week?
Happy May, Funkysnark Fans! Comic Book Harriet here, ready to push us through another couple weeks of this horror show, much like the shambling hulk that pushed the cart through the haunted murder attraction in House of 1000 Corpses.
Many thanks to Spaceman Spiff for guiding us through two weeks of some of the weirdest storytelling to come out of Funky Winkerbean for a while now. It was like each day brought us another level down deeper into another tangent of meaninglessness. Never has a story that begins with a man buying doughnuts for alcoholics and ends with him nearly dying to save a CD player been told with such astounding lack of passion or sense.
Now we’re back to the Dinkle pandemic that has been sweeping this strip for the last year. We’ve had nearly 50 days of Dinkle since November (the traditional start of Dinkle season.) This is my third shift in a row where I’ve gotten Dinkle arcs. First he was teaching piano lessons, then he was substitute teaching, and now I get my chance to get in on the ‘Dinkle scores a choir harem’ action.
But maybe the Dinkpocalypse is coming to a close soon. Today we get an exciting celebrity cameo: the undead hell cat from Pet Semetary, Winston Churchhill. I, for one, am eagerly anticipating Dinkle getting his scrawny arms ripped to shreds like chicken drumsticks.
A few things strike me as funny about this strip. I think it’s funny that a year or so ago, when Batiuk wrote this, he thought everyone would go straight from social isolation to meeting back like normal, with nobody wearing masks in between. And in all that time never thought maybe that he should have the artist go back and draw masks on the characters.
The second thing is that the CDC this week specifically mentioned singing in a choir indoors as something you should still wear a mask while doing, even if you’re vaccinated.
Oh, yeah, the “old person doesn’t know how to use technology” “gag” didn’t strike me as funny much at all. CBH takes over tomorrow. I wonder how many weeks of Funky monologuing at AA she’ll have to endure . . .
Today’s strip marks the third straight day that Dinkle is doing his eyes-closed, head tilted back, mouth-agape, peacocking thing… which I think we can all agree is seven days too many. Hopefully we can also all agree that the poetic tire fire that is “I believe this is the first time a man’s crew-neck undershirt has been seen in the choir loft!” is a sentence that is just too perfectly execrable to exist. Yet it does exist.