Tag Archives: knowing smirks

Black Cat Familiar

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Yes Dinkle, we know. We know you know all about mascots. Just like you knew all about playing music and directing and fundraising. You’re a former high school band director. WE ARE PAINFULLY FAMILIAR WITH THE CONCEPT.

And who isn’t familiar with mascots? Was he being ironic? If so, why did we need an entire panel of him imagining a school logo?

And in what universe does this exchange not come across as extremely dickish? Lillian was explaining that the cat was the mascot, she wasn’t asking if Dinkle knew what a mascot was.

It would be like showing a friend your new Jeep and having them roll their eyes and tell you that they are familiar with the concept of internal combustion engines.

And Dinkle is imagining the school logo. He didn’t even have the decency to remember the actual live goat he bought to stand on the sidelines and nibble chemically treated turfgrass while watching the Scapegoats lose. Paul deserved better.

Our Funkistorian Billy The Skink posted these back in 2018. But for any of our more recent readers, a little journey back in time.

FW9-26-83
FW9-27-83
FW10-1-83

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There Were Some Bats Who Had A Cat…

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The knowing smirks exchanged by the characters today signaled to me that there was supposed to be a joke somewhere in here, even though I didn’t see it on first glance.

After hours of careful study and research, I’ve decided the joke was that the cat is actually named Bingo because St. Spires, like many churches, supports itself with organized charitable gambling.

Which lends weight to St Spires being Catholic. Church Bingo tends to be a Catholic exercise, though in big cities, it might be Jewish. Back in the heyday, Protestant ministers would lambast Bingo as a vile and immoral game of chance, really no better than the indulgences that had once funded the papacy. Even today, some churches struggle with the morality of making their money from hosting gambling, often by people outside their congregation.

But back in the Great Depression, Bingo kept many parishes from shutting their doors. Edwin Lowe, the man who first sold the game under the name BINGO, claimed he was approached by a Catholic Priest only months after he first started selling Bingo. It was because of the concerns of this priest that Lowe contacted Columbia University math professor, Carl Leffler, to create thousands of unique Bingo cards, so there would be less repeated winners. According to legend, the math professor subsequently went insane.

Of course, Lowe only improved and named an already existing game. The first attestations of a bingo-like game date all the way back to Italy in the 16th century. And the word ‘Bingo’ also predates association with the game by centuries. Lowe claimed that he chose the name after a player of ‘Beano’, the game’s precursor, shouted ‘Bingo!’ when she won. In the 1920’s, the word ‘bingo’ had become an expression of surprise and success.

The semi-nonsensical word had been circulating for a long time. Before most of us have ever played a game of Bingo, we are taught the nursery song about a farmer’s dog. And that song is older than the US Constitution. The earliest printed version of the song with a dog named Bingo was listed in The Humming Bird songbook in 1785.

“The farmer’s dog leapt over the stile,
his name was little Bingo,
the farmer’s dog leapt over the stile,
his name was little Bingo.”

But WHY was the dog named Bingo? Well, the answer may be in the forgotten second verse.

“The farmer loved a cup of good ale,
he called it rare good stingo,
the farmer loved a cup of good ale,
he called it rare good stingo.”

The farmer was a raging alcoholic.

See, the song was originally a drinking song.

And some of the earliest attestations of the word ‘bingo’ list it as a slang term for brandy.

So if the cat isn’t named after gambling, she’s definitely named after booze.

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Ominous Donut Box

So today Batiuk takes a shot at PBS for being obsessed with the pandemic, for some reason. I’m guessing it’s solely because it was low hanging fruit for what qualifies as wordplay to Baituk. it I would have gone with “Coronavirus News Network” myself.

This is very odd too, because it seems to be implying that the news was covering the pandemic too much? I mean, maybe some were, to a certain extent, but the vibe of “Stop talking so much about the pandemic that’s brought the entire world essentially to a screeching halt for over a year” is very strange to me. I really think Batiuk wrote this in early March last year and assumed the virus would blow over in a month.

The first panel is kind of hilarious to me. “I tried to avoid the news as much as I possibly could…but it just kept chasing me down and forcing me to watch it!”. If you don’t want to watch the news, don’t watch the news.

This arc really makes me feel that “recovering addict” is the perfect character type for Batiuk’s style of melodrama. You can milk a ton of cheap drama and pain out of it without anything really having to happen. Funky will never drink again, because that would be drama, and that doesn’t happen in this strip. But he will moan and complain, you’d better believe it.

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The Taking Of Boredom 123

Today’s strip goes beyond TB’s regular “tell, don’t show” philosophy into, well, “tell, don’t tell” territory I guess. We get a couple of 35 cent metaphors and learn NOTHING. Not a thing. In fact, you could swap the order of yesterday’s and today’s strips and it would make exactly as much sense as the present order. The Flash #123 made this big impact on this author avatar who went on to become a cartoonist… yeah, we knew that yesterday (or, 12 years ago, if you’ve ever read TB’s blog). Shouldn’t we be on to the why? The how? No, don’t bother with that, we need to hear a few more flowery words that restate what has already been restated ad nauseam.

This is beyond Herb and Jamaal‘s dopey non-specificity, which muddied the gags but didn’t keep the reader from recognizing that they existed. This glacial garbage muddies a complete lack of any substance to begin with. There is nothing here. Nothing. At all. No conflict, no suspense, no character development, no dispensation of information real or fictional. We’re waiting for a man to pay for a comic book. WE ARE WAITING FOR A MAN TO PAY FOR A COMIC BOOK. I’ll put up the $5.99 or whatever the #123 reprint costs just to get Batton the heck out of there.

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It ain’t EZ being EZ, no.

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Oh those WIVES amirite? Always wanting their faucets not to leak, and their tub seams not to be stained black with mildew. Needing grout that hasn’t been haphazardly sealed with crazy glue, drywall not patched with bondo and tempera paint, linoleum sans the packing tape, light fixtures with actual covers still intact. What a bunch of absolute spendthrift divas.

Or maybe the Winkerbean bathroom and kitchen isn’t in such a state yet. Maybe it’s just my poor parents who have been putting off a kitchen/bathroom remodel since the Clinton administration because it’s easier to fantasize about the dream kitchen they’ll put in, forever perfect in its nebulousness, than it is to bite the bullet and finally rip out the Brady Bunch orange counter tops.

Anyway, this strip is either a tolerable lead in to a new arc of Funky misery, or the start of a very unappealing adult film. The dialogue says the former. But Holly and the Handyman’s bedroom eyes tell a different story. And what kind of real contractor just wanders around with a giant ‘EZ’ plastered on his hat and shirt. I’ve seen sexy nurse Halloween costumes with more believable ‘names’ on the lapel.

It’s been a fun couple weeks. The Dinkle arc was a bit of a slog to end on, but it’s not every shift that I get to talk about Batman. Thanks to everyone for the kind comments! TF Hackett will be taking over the exciting renovation action tomorrow. Please remember to thank him and Epicus for giving us all our cozy, internet safe-space where we can join together in mocking the final death throes of the slow entropic decay of a fictional universe.

Stay warm and Funky everyone! Comic Book Harriet signing off!

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The Silent Generation

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That is a massive piece of paper for Dinkle to overlooking. He should have seen it in panel one, where the back on his coat is exposed to us. The only explanation I can come up with for Dinkle allowing this sixteen-inch, unmissable sign to be posted on his back is that he was flattered to be mistaken for a Boomer. Because, unless Funkyverse’s murky comic-book-time has gotten really murky, there is no way that Dinkle was born after 1945. Never forget that Dinkle was Funky, Holly, and Cindy’s band teacher so he has to be, at minimum seven or eight years older than them, IF they were in one of the first years he taught.

If you’re curious, in most areas dialing that number along with a local area code will send you to the directory assistance.

So, I’ve been playing a fun little indie video game with my galpals for the last few months. It’s called Phasmophobia. It’s a ghost hunting game, where you search various haunted locations: farmhouses, asylums, prisons, apartments, with tech to identify and gather evidence on ghosts.

A month ago, we were searching the old abandoned high school.

Looking for a very special ghost.

Needless to say, when I saw what the randomly generated ghost name was, I laughed hysterically for five minutes and then spent half an hour trying to explain why it was funny.

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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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My Dinkle-ing, My Dinkle-ing…

Twenty Twenty One may be just getting blessedly underway, but Our Winter Band Banquet is drawing to a close. I’m praying for Covid to finally reach Westview, Ohio soon, so that all those dopey, knowing smirks will be obscured by masks. Continue reading

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