Here is today’s strip.
And here is the Reader’s Digest version of today’s strip:
Today’s strip was not available for preview. One can reasonably assume it will involve Lefty continuing to torture the poor folks who agreed to play in this alumni band.
So, without the current strip, let’s take a quick look back at Lefty in late Act II, who had just been named Westview High’s band director. Dinkle tries to get her killed for the sake of a bad pun. He is a monster.
I do not even want to know what Lefty and Dinkle were doing in the band office prior to today’s strip that alumni band practice so rudely interrupted. Whatever it was, it was surely negative amounts of interesting, and we are better off having missed it. If only that could have continued for three more panels…
I’m amazed that TB hasn’t hatched this alumni band thing before. It is full of his favorite FW comfort foods: Dinkle, Lefty’s pinned-up sleeve, old old old people, wistful reminiscence about high school band, petty high school grudges, more Dinkle… Just throw in cancer, comic books, and Les smirking a couple times and you’ve got the complete FW meal.
Alas, there is no gold to be found here… there’s not even a creek.
Dinkle appears in today’s strip.
No “spoiler alert” tag… this is not a spoiler, it is a warning. You have been warned. Read at your own risk. Or don’t, your life will be better off.
You know what, I’m going to focus on just one small little part of this strip and let our great commenters take the rest of it apart. I’m going to deal only with the first four words that appear in the strip, “Speaking of band candy”.
“SPEAKING OF BAND CANDY”?!
NO ONE was speaking of band candy! No one other than Dinkle is ever speaking of band candy! No one in their right mind wants to speak of band candy! I suppose Dinkle is correct in “saying “speaking of band candy” because that is a 100% accurate description of what he proceeds to do… thus, he most assuredly wanders around uttering “speaking of band candy” whenever he wants to speak of band candy. There is no other possible explanation. I’m typing “speaking of band candy” over and over again in desperate hope that this will be last time those words are ever written. Please. Please.
This one is unbelievable. First, we have pinned-up sleeves all over the place today. Then it turns out that Dinkle, aka General Nostalgia himself, doesn’t even KNOW about the Band Big Reunion Alumni at all yet! How could this have not been his idea? I mean, what the hell is he even DOING there if he’s not re-living the good old days, you know? And why are Funky and Holly leaving to pick up Holly’s mom now for an event that’s a full month away? Is he seriously going to do an arc about the elderly AND marching bands at the same time? Good God.
And finally there’s the bizarre spectacle of a retired march band conductor cracking wise about old people with missing body parts to a current marching band conductor with one arm. I mean, just wow. Utterly spectacular.
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.
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!