Tag Archives: kid with receding hairline

Jerrymandering Flautists

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Dinkle has had about enough of these pranks, and so have I. None of them are anywhere near the quality or level of execution needed to be more than a time-killer. The true goal of school pranks is notoriety and immortality. Moving the pickled animals in jars from the science lab into the trophy case, welding a car around the flag pole, staging a lunch room flashmob. A beautiful moment of adolescent apotheosis, where you have risen above the rules, the hierarchy, the schedule that has domesticated your youthful exuberance. A good prank is a shock to the system.

I hope you guys don’t mind another dumb slice-of-life CBH story. I’ve just got nothing to work with here.

My little sister is a modern day saint. A sweet, loving, little gem of a girl who sees the best in everyone, and who has never met a soul she wasn’t willing to pray for. The kind of person who, when she got a the flu, said, “Well, if I had to get the flu, this is the good kind of flu. Because I’m really not coughing all that much. And at least I got it over Christmas break, so I won’t have to miss any work.” I haven’t seen her get properly mad in 20 years. The closest she comes to anger is nervous laughter and pursed-lip silence. The only negative emotions she allows herself to feel are sympathetic sadness, and guilt feeling anything else bad. If this were the middle ages, she would have shrines built in her honor, and pilgrims would walk barefoot to have her lay upon hands. Instead she teaches kindergarten at a Christian school.

She was already like that in high school. And everyone in her class knew it, and most loved her, even if they found it hard to relate to so much concentrated purity.

But on the last day of band of her senior year, she kept getting called out by the band director for not playing her flute right. She’d never really been dedicated to her instrument,( I don’t think she’s picked up the flute once since she graduated.), but the teacher had never really picked on her like this before.

Finally he slapped down his baton and said to her, “I don’t even know why you’ve bothered being in band for four years. You’re terrible at it! You are the worst flute player I have ever had!”

And my sister turned bright red, and shouted back, “If I’m such a bad student, maybe it’s because you’re a lousy teacher!”

The band director went stony silent, and said, “You go to the principals office right now. You are out of my band.”

And my little sister stood up and roared, “You can’t kick me out because I quit!” Then she picked up the flute she’d been using, and bent it over her knee. She threw the twisted instrument on the floor and stormed out of the room.

You could have heard a pin drop. My little sister, the sweetest, most kind girl in school, had shouted at a teacher and was headed to the principal.

Then giddy laughter coming from outside the door broke the tension.

It had been her senior prank, planned between her and the band director. The flute had been an old, broken castoff of the department. No one in her class had seen it coming.

My sister is a saint who never really gets angry. But she’s also a pretty good actress.

And that is how you prank the band.

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Odd Job Man

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How long did these kids have to prepare for this prank? This amount of coordinated music, mouthpiece, and instrument switching could only have taken place if Becky’s absence was expected days in advance, and if this is either the first class period of the day, or the first class period after a lunch.

I want to thank TF Hackett for reminding me of the ‘knowing smirks’ tag in the comments yesterday. I’m going to need it so much to finish off my shift. Today we have an entire peanut gallery of unbearable knowing smirks being exchanged in panel 3. Some may think that these people are smiling mischievously at each other because all their clever pranks are being preempted by a witty old man. But obviously the real reason is that their ultimate prank has yet to be spotted: all of these so called ‘kids’ are obviously middle-aged adults involved in some kind of elaborate LARP.

The janitor in panel 2 is the real star of today’s strip. In all my decades of public schooling, I can’t remember a janitor sweeping the halls in the middle of the day, unless there had been some kind of unfortunate thumbtack crate explosion. But this janitor has staked out the 20 foot stretch of tile outside the band room as his turf. Nearly a year ago, it took him a full five days to carefully and methodically make his way past the classroom.

This strip made of random panels is funnier than any individual strip from that week.

So many fun ways to interpret this! Is he:

A.) A ghost who died in a horrific sign taping accident, forced to haunt this wing of the school, forever sweeping a floor that will never be clean of the stain of his blood?

B.) A man so polluted mentally and emotionally by the Westview climate of somatic decay, greasy pizza, trashy comics, smug nihilism, and puns, that he has become a mindless shell of a man who sweeps automatically and unceasingly, like an organic roomba?

C.) A security guard from the school, in disguise, ordered to tail Dinkle whenever he is on the premises to prevent another lawsuit from parents?

D.) Secretly in love with Dinkle or/and Becky?

Remember that sign-up ends Monday at midnight for Tuesday’s 7:00 pm live online revealing of Tom’s poster for the Ohioana Book Festival.

If you register on Eventbrite, you’ll be entered to win a signed copy of The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume 10!

See TF Hackett’s comments on yesterday’s post for more details! Link Here for sign up,

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A Paltry Substitution.

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Dinkle’s back. We’ve had to suffer through an inordinate about of Dinkle this winter. From piano lessons to turkey shenanigans to OMEA. It almost seems like Batiuk is intentionally giving us a break from Lisa’s Cancer Movie Extravaganza. Is he trying to reset our sensitivity to the storyline? Like letting a prisoner stew in the hole for a few weeks before bringing them back out for another round of enhanced interrogation.

Had a moment of confusion on my first read. Who the heck is Mrs. Howard? You mean One-Armed-Becky? The wife of Dead-Skunk-Head? I’m so far removed from thinking of either of them having surnames. I can barely remember DSH is named John.

I don’t think that this is a Dinkle strip that’s going to get cut out and pasted on many doors. The joke is anemic, but tolerable enough. Shrewd old teacher is down with substitute pranks. But this must either be a Freshman band class, or Dinkle hasn’t substituted for three years straight, otherwise the kids should be wise to his wisdom.

The real thing holding this strip back is the atrocious art in panels one and three. What is that hand in panel one? I could draw a better hand left handed. All the poor kids have horrible receding hairlines. I half expect that panel two was changed to black outline after the fact. After Ayers drunkenly turned in a scribbly panel of twenty mangled high school students as seen through a cracked funhouse mirror.

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The Ultimate Racketeer.

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Potted plant is back!

I wonder if we’ve been a little harsh in our criticism of the bland offering of jokes this week. I showed the strips to a friend and they got a mild chuckle from her.

Our palates have really been ruined by consuming and analyzing EVERYTHING Batiuk provides in his greasy spoon buffet. When you’ve gagged over creamed corn that’s been congealing under a heat lamp for eight hours, it becomes so much easier to find problems with the innocent loaf of off-the-shelf white bread splayed out in slices at the end of the table.

I think it’s easy for us, deep in the lore, and with years and layers to our disdain for some of these characters, to forget that a week of strips like this is probably the only enjoyment casual readers get out of these comics, smiling half heartedly as they accidently let their eyes drift over Funky Winkerbean while searching for the obituaries.

Can you imagine being an average Joe, not a weirdo commenting obsessively over a comic strip online, and opening your local fishwrap to randomly read a strip from the L.A. Fire arc? Or Bull’s suicide? Or Zanzibar the talking murder chimp blessed be his name? Your brain would spit that wad of nonsense right back out to protect itself, like slamming the door on a Jehovah’s Witness.

But today’s strip? This is the kind of strip destined to be cut out of the paper and put on the fridge by kindly little old music teachers who paid for their grandkids’ Christmas presents with piano lessons. It’s a stolen joke, told with a microgram of charm, that will get a few smiles.

I talked earlier this week about Batiuk’s immortality. And, as much as he’d like it to be cancer or PTSD or teen pregnancy, it’s really one-off Dinkle type gags. I remember Dinkle strips posted in my own music teacher’s office. Tom’s real legacy isn’t massive volumes of collected comics, it’s yellowed strips of newsprint taped haphazardly to a filing cabinet beside a pile of music stands.

I can imagine, fifty years from now, a kid opening a cupboard in the attic of my old band room, where the retired uniforms and broken instruments are left to rot, and inside are a pile of dusty worn out band shoes, a few tarnished majorette hats, and, pasted to the door, a browned and crumbling clipping of Harry Dinkle, screaming at children in the pouring rain.

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Mr. Whole Note Takes a Week.

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Thanks to our glorious leader TF Hackett, who brought up yesterday that “Mr. Whole Note.” is, in fact, a song/training exercise for learning piano students. The excerpt he posted of ‘The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume 2.’ is simultaneously infuriating and fascinating. So, I’ll let you all expertly dissect Dinkle’s non-joke in the comments, and look forward to your hilarious analysis. I’m going off on a tangent again.

Like a lot of mouth breathing nerds, I am a huge Tolkien fan. Like, I’ve read The Silmarillion more than ONCE kind of Tolkien fan. If you really start digging into his work, you find out that the man was a persnickety and easily distracted procrastinator who created reams and reams of unfinished material that his son, Christopher, carefully collated and annotated into multiple volumes. The famous Silmarillion is just the tip of the iceberg.

Reading through something like “The History of Middle Earth” series, and seeing his son deconstruct the evolution of his father’s work in parallel to his father’s life is to get a window into the creative process of a man. The single world that Tolkien invented is so complex, with thousands of years of history and dozens, if not hundreds, of complete stories and sagas he never thought finished enough to release. And his son spent his whole life studying and writing about his father’s work, carefully breaking down the evolution of concepts and characters. I feel like all the weird asides, and life commentary, written in the margins of The Complete Funky Winkerbean attempt to achieve the same thing for Batiuk’s massive world.

But, unlike Tolkien, who hid his unfinished material away, and really didn’t like the idea of psychoanalyzing authors to find parallels in their own work, Batiuk is compelled to write the deconstruction himself. He has to be the one to break apart and explain this weird, paper-paste, universe he’s spent his life creating, and tie it together with his own experiences. Writing paragraphs on his musical education and family life with serious self-importance, probably because there is no one out there obsessed enough to do it for him.

It’s really kind of sad. Tolkien was a deeply religious man, assured of his own immortality and humble in his act of subcreation. Even if you don’t share his belief, you can tell how his faith comforted him. His only self psychoanalysis of his work is a wonderful short story, ‘Leaf by Niggle.’ In it he writes a parable of painter that ends with the realization that even if the massive work of art he was trying to create was never finished, and never appreciated, and ultimately never remembered by anyone on this Earth, that somehow it would exist forever and finally be perfected in the world to come.

Tom Batiuk, meanwhile, has the Kent State University Press printing out an entire Midrash of Funky Winkerbean, trying to scrape together enough interest and importance for a hint of earthly immortality. And, it seems, the only ones who care enough to spend any time at all engaging with his world are a tiny cabal of beady-eyed nitpickers who he disdains.

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Jfff’s Not Ded

Mela
August 26, 2020 at 11:22 am
…Jeff is not going to die in a cave. Comic book nerds and sci-fi geeks do not die in Funky Winkerbean.

The part of the blind firefighter will be played today by Ringo Starr

Face it. It would have been cruel even by Funkiverse standards for Pete to invite his prospective father-in-law all the way to California only to have him die in a fire. Looks like Skppy’s survived too.  Who’s paying his airfare back to Ohio?

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