Tag Archives: coffee

Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night

Link to today’s strip

Epicus had a great comment yesterday, and judging by the upvotes most of you agreed. There was one thought in particular that gave me pause. He said, “A child could write it. Unfortunately though, no children were available so BatYam took a stab at it…”

When I was younger, I used to do theater. My first role, when I was 12, was the mother in James and the Giant Peach. I was eaten by a giant invisible rhinoceros at the very beginning of the show. I flung myself all over the stage screaming and dying, and I got a pretty big head by thinking I was good at it. That was, until I heard my director say, “Dying is easy, comedy is hard.”

As near as Grandpa Google can tell me, the actual origins of that famous turn of phrase come from a story movie director George Seaton told about going to see his friend, the actor Edmund Gwenn on his deathbed in 1959.

“All this must be terribly difficult for you, Teddy,” [Seaton] said sympathetically.

Gwenn didn’t buy that sympathy. A smile touched his lips.

“Not nearly as difficult as playing comedy,” he answered cheerfully.

They were his words of exit. His head turned on the pillow. He was dead.

As a kid that pithy little aphorism was a revelation. Melodrama is easy. It’s easy to act, and it’s easy to write. Death hangs like the sword of Damocles above us all, and in time every sword will fall. Who do you love? Your mom? Your spouse? Your goldfish? Find the fear you hold inside knowing they are mortal, and you’ve found the massive emotional button any artist worth their paycheck can push at will. Entire genres of weepy books and Hallmark Channel movies are built on the cheap, baking-soda-and-vinegar, combination of love and death.

Twelve years ago, Batiuk pushed that button. And, go back and read those strips, he was effective.
cheap and effective, like your mom
This strip is cloying. It’s maudlin. And yet, it is 110% more real than anything we’ve seen in years. A mother won’t see her daughter grow up. A father struggles to explain. A child tries to comfort a loved one they can hardly realize they’re about to lose. Death is taking a knife and cutting to ribbons the story of a happy family just as viciously as Rose stabbing a precious comic book.

We’ve gotten none of this in Bull’s death. None. We didn’t see Linda calling her children. We didn’t see the pain of Jinx thinking about how Dad wouldn’t be there to walk her down the aisle. Or Mickey realizing her own kids would never know a Grandpa Bushka. We didn’t linger on Linda’s pain as she sits through a funeral full of terrible secrets, as she comes home to an empty house, as she has to do laundry that will only remind her of her dead husband’s illness.

It should have been easy. A child could have done it. But Batiuk decided to give us a death without really showing the love that death was cutting off.

Instead Batiuk decided to end this arc (for now?) with a week of strips where Linda gets down on her knees in front of his author avatar so she can fellatiate Les Moore’s metaphorical ego-dick.

In the past, I’ve tried to cut Tom some slack. But not today. Please insult this man.

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Lisavania: Legacy of Darkness

Link to today’s strip

And here we come to the Axis Mundi of the Funkyverse. The centerpoint around which all things turn. Lisa’s Legacy.

And what is Lisa’s Legacy? In universe, her legacy seems to be appropriating the suffering of others to line the pockets of her foundation. From Funky passing out during her annual ‘fun’ run, to Phil Holt’s lifetime of work being auctioned off to honor a woman who never read comics. All the people who stand in Les’ book lines to tell him that they were compelled to buy the book because the tragic story inside mirrors their own past trauma, all feeding her legacy with their dollars and pain.

And now we learn of Bull’s yearly guilt offering. Money poured into Lisa’s Legacy by a man who would later despair when the NFL refused him monetary help. This strip is completely nonsensical for so many reasons.

1.) As many of you have pointed out, Bull helped with the organization of several Lisa’s Legacy events. In that light a yearly donation is hardly surprising. So why does Les look so bemused?

2.) Why is Linda only seeing this when going through old check stubs? Did her and Bull have separate accounts? Even so, if the donation was substantial in the least, shouldn’t Linda have been aware of it? They’ve got kids who had college to pay for.

3.) Why wouldn’t Les be aware of Bull’s yearly donation? Who cashes the checks and handles the finances for the foundation he started? Even if others are helping to run it, do we really believe Les wouldn’t keep tabs on the donors?

Batiuk twists his characters in knots and throws logic out the window just to name drop the foundation that serves as an evergreen reminder of the ‘most important’ thing he ever wrote.

He’ll do anything to plug Lisa’s Legacy.

Even kill.

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The Bland Leading the Blind

Link to today’s strip.

Yeah, yeah, cue the dramatic chord for panel three.  Whatever.

What I’d like to point out is panel one.  Les says he could “see what was coming.”  He’s implying that Linda couldn’t.

But Linda should have.  Like Lisa, Bull had an incurable condition that could not be paused or reversed.  He was going to die, after deteriorating mentally {“a pretty short trip”–Les Moore).  There was no other possible ending.  That he might decide to end it all before wasting away was a definite possibility.

So why couldn’t she see what was going on?  Why did she think working on the car was “therapeutic” and to be encouraged?   Why did she have no idea where he was on the night he died?

I think there’s only one good answer:  because she couldn’t be bothered.  Many here have a visceral hatred of Linda, and it’s easy to see why–she’s basically the distaff Les Moore.  Check out how I’m smirking through my woes.  Oh, I am so beset by the fates, each day a stay in torment.  Oh, and also my spouse has this terrible condition, which has caused me to suffer so.   The entire CTE arc has been nothing but her complaining, first to Les, then to Buck, about all the problems she was going through.  There may have been one or two occasions when she actually sympathized with Bull, but they were so few and far-between that I’m not sure I can say they existed.

Everyone in this strip is a terrible, terrible person.

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“Why, yes! Yes you can!”

Link to today’s strip.

“It just so happens, Linda, that I have some copies of my Lisa’s Story trilogy out in the car!  Since you’re a grieving widow, I can give you a discount of twen…uh, twelve percent, and I’ll be more than pleased to autograph them!”

You know, hot coffee tends to heat up a coffee mug.  That’s why they have handles, so you don’t have to grab a hot coffee mug and burn your hand.  So what is Linda doing in panel three?  Is she trying to burn Les’ hand?  If so, she’s my new favorite character.

It’s also cool if she’s saying, “I’m going to drink both of these coffees.  I hope you got something from the drive-through.”  Even cooler would be if she’s going to throw both cups in Les’ face.  I’m going to stop now because reality will be too disappointing.

ADDENDUM:  I just now noticed…Batiuk has finally corrected the spelling on his webzone!  It no longer says “Bantom.”

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Aw, Poor Les. And Poor Mason, He Clearly Developed Face Cancer Between Panels 1 and 2.

Ugh, this is one of my least favorite parts of this strip. Something ostensibly good happens to someone (Les is getting paid money to make a movie out of their book, meaning there’s at least a chance a story he cares about will speak to people in a new medium, and at the very least more people will read the book, also MONEY, how does that not mean anything to a public school teacher with two daughters in their seventh year of college), and he reacts to it like he just sat on a turd and he’s too crushed with despair to do anything about it but moan.
Even if you want to look at it Les’s way, where he’s worried his beautiful story will be ruined (How exactly do you glamorize “woman dies of cancer”?), he has to just sit around like a wimp about the whole thing, like he’s still the nerd who had his lunch money robbed by Bull (since Batiuk is so clearly still obsessed with high school). Grow a spine and say no if it’s so painful, Les. Especially since you’ve been down this exact road before.  “Gosh, I guess three people who have no real role in my life thing I should do something I’m dreading, well okay, what can you do.”
I know Campbell’s idea of the Hero’s Journey can be cliché often, but it’s worlds better than the Batiuk Method. Here’s some famous tales, as redone by Tom Batiuk;
The Aeneid-Aeneas loses his home of Troy, then sits in the ashes of his home until he dies from lung cancer.
Paradise Lost-Lucifer is cast from heaven, then spends eternity laying where he fell moaning “Why me?”.
Star Wars-Luke whines about the droid he bought blowing up, shrugs and just figures that’s how life is and goes home without doing anything about it.
The Lord of the Rings-Frodo hands over the One Ring to the first Ringwraith because clearly he wants it, and it’s a long walk, and he tried his best, but sometimes things just don’t work out, but he does plan to go home and write a bestseller about it.

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Universal Dullifier

Wow, if Holly uses her one line for the year to endorse Lisa’s Story Done Right, then it must be real important to her. I mean, yeah, her story might be interesting too, since it’s a story of raising a kid by yourself, overcoming cancer, and finding love again and remarrying, but this is all about Lisa.
Actually Holly’s story is way better than Lisa’s, to be honest. Lisa’s story is “Lisa got cancer and died”. Holly’s is about overcoming something horrible and finding new life. Which really does sound like it would make a much, much better movie. I really don’t get what’s so important or inspiring about “a fairly unlikeable woman gets cancer and dies from it” where everyone thinks it would just be amazing movie and cultural touchstone, but whatever, it’s all Lisa Lisa Lisa. Lisa. Lisa.

Can someone please explain what the deal is with Montoni’s and coffee?  Cindy and Mason don’t have coffee so it’s not breakfast time, and I don’t think Montoni’s even serves breakfast anymore.  I’d say the majority of what Cindy and Funky do there is carry around a carafe.  I think it’s just Batiuk’s way of showing “hey, these people are in a restaurant” without actually showing any real work.  Really though, “Let’s go to the pizzeria for some coffee” sounds kind of gross to me.

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Cindy Wants Mason and Les to Do It

What on earth is the right way to do Lisa’s Story? True to life, where it just focuses on Les’s reaction to everything, and skips right over the really difficult and interesting part of how he adjusts to life without her? Or focusing on the ridiculous medical paperwork mishap that anyone who saw it in a movie (or a comic) would say is just laughably bad writing?
Actually I think it’s pretty clear what “the right way” means. Lisa Must Die. Because serious art requires beloved characters to die in a very serious, very profound way. Except Bull. Bull you just knock off as quick as possible so you can get to Lisa. Again.
That “Cindy…?” is hilarious to me.  “Formerly hot girl I used to stare at in high school and have no real meaningful relationship with, do you think I should make this beg life decision?  Because yours is the only opinion that matters to me, way way more than my secondary wife’s.”

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