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.
Oh look. Like so many of you guessed, adding a cat video will instantly lead to millions of dollars.
Sigh. I mean. I guess things are moving quickly. I wouldn’t have put it past Tom to subject us to a full week of Dinkle and Lillian sitting as they were on Monday, brainstorming ideas they won’t use back and forth, complete with bad wordplay.
But the writing today. Was he getting paid by the word? The letter?
It reminded me of an old ‘Between Friends‘ strip I used to have pasted to my door. (Between Friends is by Sandra Bell-Lundy. The art is simplistic, but the writing is great.) In the comic one woman spouts an unwieldly word-zeppelin. The other woman looks up at it, pulls out a pencil, and erases most of the words, simplifying the sentence.
The first woman looks at it and comments, “That’s what I said.”
The other woman replies, “No, that’s what you MEANT.”
A little something like this.
Or maybe something like this.
But, really, I think today’s strip is best with a little New Yorker magazine flair.
At this point Lillian is a popular mystery author, with a writing career 110% more successful, meaningful, and productive than Les Moore’s. Due the self-promoting nature of her job, she is probably more tech savvy and better equipped to navigate a crowdfunding site, than say…literally anyone I know over the age of 75.
But I don’t know if I would trust her cinematography and video editing skills.
I’m picturing a blurry image, in portrait mode. Seven elderly women in a poorly lit choir loft. The video begins halfway through the first words of the song. The audio is muffled by Lillian’s finger over the mic, as the whitebread midwestern ladies mumble their way through ‘Swing Low Sweet Chariot’.
The phone is obviously trembling in Lillian’s weak hands, jarring the autofocus every few seconds. Blurry, then sharp, then blurry; background then foreground. She awkwardly zooms in and out from each choir member, and when the camera zooms, the shaking is magnified, so each woman looks like she’s having her own personal earthquake. Lillian’s arms dip in exhaustion, abruptly cutting the entire choir off at the head, before she corrects herself.
Before the song even ends, she tries to shut the phone off, but fails. The last minute of the video, (Which Lillian uploads in its entirety, unsure of how to edit.) is the interior of her purse in the dark. You can distantly hear the muffled voices of the choir members gossiping viciously about the parson’s granddaughter. Six months along they say. With twins. She’s even moved in with the cad, and you know that he smokes in the house. And they say the divorce from her first husband isn’t even finalized.
“It makes you wonder…” Minty Pete says, “I mean, I’ve seen it on Maury once.”
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.
On the one hand, we have another nonsensical Dinkle strip.
On the other hand, we have a Dinkle plan failing.
So it’s a glass of poison half full kind of day.
I was kind of surprised we didn’t get an unconnected Sunday strip celebrating Mother’s Day. It would be nice to get a peek in on any of the parental storylines that have been dangling for years. How old is Skyler now? Are Corey and Rocky ever getting married? Are Summer and Keisha ever graduating college? What are Jinx and Mickey going to do for Linda? Are Crazy Harry’s children ever returning from the netherrealm hellscape they fell into?
But nah. We get an inane and confusing strip, where I have no idea what ‘think outside the choir loft’ might mean, and I can’t tell if Dinkle is shouting ‘Bingo!’ as an exclamation of affirmation, a suggestion of gambling, or the idea to sell the cat for money. And I have no idea if the old lady in the last panel is trying to let Dinkle know bingo the fundraising game is taken by another church group, or the cat Bingo has been taken by animal control.
And it’s still dumb as sin, sinfully dumb, and just plain sinful, that this church choir is expending so much effort to buy choir robes. Choir robes. A pointless boondoggle for a congregation who, if choir participation is anything to go by, is dying from lack of young people and men.
St. Peter would be very grumpy at you!
“Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” 1 Peter 3:3-4.
For any of you readers who are Mothers, Grandmothers, Aunts, Dog Moms, Cat Moms, or just enjoy worrying over people who don’t dress warmly and making sure everyone has snacks, Happy Mother’s Day. Your work is valued, and you are loved. And you deserve so much more today than a Dinkle strip.
When I first saw this week’s strips I was skeptical of the feasibility of a cat living in a church. I know that businesses, nursing homes, and libraries have kept cats in the past; I’ve seen the same puff pieces in the lifestyles section as everyone else.
But with roughly 20 percent of people having some level of allergic reaction to cats, I had a hard time believing that any church would risk annoying congregants and turning away potential parishioners by letting a feline frolic through the foyer. On the other hand, Tom steals more story ideas than Shakespeare, there was a good chance he’d come across some fluffy choir cat story on the news. So I went on a quest to find church cats.
After cutting out the results for the undead monster cat from Pet Semetary, I found, among others, the following adorable moggy muffins curling up between the pews. And really, aren’t cat pictures better than trying to find something to say about Lillian talking to Dinkle about vermin?
Canterbury Cathedral has several cats, and a few made the news this past year for sneaking into the live streams of The Dean of Canterbury’s prayers.
Sadly, back in 2013 the cathedral mourned the loss of one of their sweet sneaky boys. His name? Laptop.