Time and again, I promise myself that I will not allow Tom Batiuk to send me down the Google hole. Usually I’m compelled to search for context for a reference he’s made to some obscure (to me) silver age comic book. Sometimes I’ll search Grandpa Google for a particularly odd or stilted expression uttered by a character, to determine whether anyone IRL has said or would say it, before committing it to the Batiuktionary. Why, just last week I spent a good part of my morning querying why anyone would bring two rackets to play tennis. Though it pains me, I feel that it’s my duty to you, the reader, to at least try and comprehend the author’s intentions before proceeding to pee all over his life’s work.
I doubt I’m the only one completely flummoxed by today’s comic. This one sent me first to Google: “…with only hope to assuage him” is such a weirdly constructed phrase that it has to be a literary quotation, right? Not as far as I can tell. Next stop was Wikipedia, to read up on Pandora: not the music streaming and automated music recommendation internet radio service; that’s just part of the gag, see? And hey, props to Batiuk: I learned something. “Pandora’s Box” was actually a jar (not Jarre): sixteenth-century Erasmus of Rotterdam, when he translated the Greek legend of Pandora into Latin, translated pithos, meaning a large storage jar, into the Latin word pyxis, meaning “box”. When naughty Pandora opened that jar and unleashed evil into the world,
Only Hope was left within her unbreakable house, she remained under the lip of the jar, and did not fly away. Before [she could], Pandora replaced the lid of the jar.
The Wiki includes the image you see here of “Hermes carrying Pandora down from Mount Olympus,” which I suppose is where the “downhill” part comes in. Who knows? I’ve already spent too much time thinking about and composing a long-winded post which you probably won’t read before going straight to the comments, and I don’t blame you.
June 5, 2018 at 11:11 pm
The old “deadpan” style makes the awfulness of the gags slightly more palatable than the self-satisfied smirking does.
My esteemed colleague Epicus makes a good point. These Claude Barlow gags have been running for decades, long enough for Dinkle to transition from tip! tip! tap! typewriter to word processor to flatscreen display. Whatever humor could be derived from the earliest strips had to do with Dinkle’s serious demeanor as he churned out his lousy musical puns, because Act I Dinkle was such a humorless prick. Contrast this with the kinder, gentler Dinkle of today’s strip: so pleased is he with his latest groaner that I’m surprised he’s not leaning back in his chair, envisioning himself marching around a tiny baseball diamond.
June 6, 2018 at 12:54 pm
It should be pointed out, re: [Wednesday’s] vintage strip, that Claude Barlow died about 70 years before the piano was invented.
It’s possible that someone did point that out to TB, and inspired this strip from March 2000:
And while we’re wasting our breath complaining about anachronisms in the Funkiverse: here’s a bonus strip in which we learn that Barlow toured with Franz Lizst (born 184 years after Barlow died) and appeared on a TV show even though TV didn’t exist!
“In Claude Barlow’s day“…that’s a good one. Because as is the case with everyone and everything in the Funkiverse, ol’ Claude’s timeline can be freely altered to suit the gag. At the top of this post is what I believe is the first Claude Barlow strip. Barlow was merely a chapter in an ostensibly larger book that Dinkle was writing about “Famous Composers.” Though here and in subsequent strips, Barlow’s D.O.B./D.O.D. are 1543-1627, but in this strip from a few months ago, he’s a contemporary of Tchaikovsky (1840–1893). I’ll throw in too that Harry this week is authoring Volume 6 and in the aforementioned strip, he’s writing Volume 7. Making Barlow’s foray into electronic music (even though it had not yet been invented) as plausible as anything else that goes on around here.
All right: it’s bad enough to dole out a week’s worth of lousy puns and “Dad jokes,” but today’s…I can’t even go with “joke” or “punchline” or “gag;” that is unless by gag we are talking about the involuntary reflex to vomit. File this one under “Batiuk is Deliberately Trolling the Haters.” It’s a shitty pun…worse, it’s an unoriginal shitty pun!
That feeling when you see Monday’s strip and realize you’re in for another entire week of Harry Dinkle writing about Claude Barlow (1543-1627)…the first day of six where we’ll watch ol’ Harry in panel 1 setting up the gag; panel 2, building to the punchline; and panel 3, where Dinkle delivers the payoff and sits there smirking. Dinkle’s now writing the Volume 6 of his Barlow bio…imagine slogging through six volumes where every third sentence is a jokey response to the two sentences that preceded it? I can’t even take six strips.