Tag Archives: knowing smirks

Asinine Aphorisms

Link to Today’s Strip.

Les, that is a really, really, REALLY weird thing to say while staring lovingly into the chocolate brown sclera’s of your second wife’s eyes. What are you trying to say here? That you’ve realized you’re lucky your first wife died? Because in the end what you really wanted was both a supportive wife and a sob story? The knockout one-two punch that will win you gold in the victim Olympics in performative grieving.

I get the sentiment, it’s a nice sentiment. You’re trying to tell Cayla that you’re content in your life with her. That Hollywood fame wouldn’t have made you appreciably happier because you’re already happy. But, when talking about this to a second wife, as a widower, you should avoid words like, ‘lucky.’ ‘all along,’ and ‘in the end.’

By Cayla’s tired grimace, I can tell what she’s thinking. “I don’t know if he’s insulting me or snubbing Lisa, but at least he sounds happy she’s dead.”

Many of us this week have found ominous signs that the box office failure of Lisa’s Story might not be then end of this endless arc. That a box office bomb can still go on to be critically successful and win awards. And it would dovetail nicely with Batiuk’s sentiments on popular entertainment, for the true beauty of Lisa’s Story: The Movie, to only be admired by a few.

I fear we’re in for a Marvin’s Room deal. If TomBa is going to use anything as a template for Lisa’s Story’s success or failure, it’s not going to be one of the cancer movies of the last few years. It’s going to be from the glory days of weepy prestige drama. The 90’s.

Marvins room poster.jpg
Unfortunately the movie is not about a three headed multi gendered monster wearing a black sweater.

I’d never heard of this film before my cancer movie research of earlier in the week. And after reading the synopsis, and watching the trailer, it is top on my list of movies to never see. But the plot is Batiukian to the max. A movie about sarcasm in the face of disease, death, and poorly portrayed mental illness, written by a man who was himself dying of AIDS.

For 20 years Bonnie (Diane Keaton) has been taking care of her bed-ridden father, Marvin (Hume Cronyn) following a stroke. When she is diagnosed with leukemia, she reaches out to the sister she hasn’t seen for 20 years, Lee, (Meryl Streep), asking if she and her two sons would be tested for a bone marrow transplant. Lee retrieves her older son, Hank (Leonardo DiCaprio), from the mental health facility where he’d been kept since trying to burn her house down, and takes her family to see her sister. Much heartfelt sarcasm ensues. Bonnie’s treatment appears to be failing, but Lee is now comfortable caring for their father.

The movie bombed in 1996, making $12 million on a $23 million dollar budget.

And it got Diane Keaton an Oscar nod for best actress, Meryl Streep a Golden Globe nom, also for best actress, and three SAG nominations to boot.

The box office numbers might be in. But awards season is right around the corner.

And sometimes, the people you know the least…

are the ones you need the most…

and the places we’ve left behind…

are the places we’ve always belonged….

Marvin’s Room

Barf.

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Under the Micro Scope

Link to Today’s Strip.

I think we all kind of guessed that this movie must have the budget of a community college staging of CATS, when they chose to film a park bench in winter on a soundstage rather than on location. I’ve seen better production values in classic Bonanza episodes.

At least they had the decency to put up a matte painting!

I don’t know how well weepy cancer movies are generally received, because I try to avoid them. If I wanted to hear sad adults having heartfelt conversations about personal tragedy I would follow strangers around the local Wal-Mart. The last one I remember being big was ‘The Fault in our Stars.’ That made $300 million on a 8-12 million dollar budget.

But is that a normal expectation for terminal illness sadporn? How did cancer movies do in the age of covid?

I did a little digging through the interwebs, just to see if making a movie about dying of cancer in current era is a good idea or not.

Ordinary Love. Filming began in 2018. Liam Neeson is afraid his wife will be taken by breast cancer. They’re sad their daughter died years ago. His gay friend’s husband gets taken instead. His wife recovers, and they go on a nice walk. It was released in the UK in December of 2019, and the US in February of 2020. Rotten Tomatoes rates it at 93%. The thing bombed like crazy though. US Box office was $774,877. Global seems to have ended at around $5 million. The only website I could find that listed a budget had it at $50 million. It is now streaming on Hulu, where random trolls complain that Liam Neeson doesn’t spend enough time threatening cancer over the phone.

I Still Believe. Filming began in 2019. Based on a book. Based on a true story. Christian musician, Jeremy Camp, is engaged to his college sweetheart who is battling cancer. They think she gets better. They get married. Then she gets worse. He has a brief crisis of faith. She dies. He finds a note from encouraging him not to lose his faith. It was released in March 2020. As is normal for movies made by evangelical Christians for evangelical Christians, critics were split on it, and it has a 50% on Rotten Tomatoes. It made $16 million on a $12 million dollar budget. It is now streaming on Fubo TV, and my little sister cried so much after watching we wondered if she needed rehydration therapy.

Clouds. Filming began in 2019. Based on a book. Based on a true story. High School student and aspiring musician, Zach Sobiech, writes music about dying of cancer and becomes a viral YouTube star. Dies of cancer. Was originally scheduled for a theatrical release through Warner Bros, but Disney bought the rights to release on their streaming service. Released in October 2020. Budget was between $10-12 million. I couldn’t find how much Disney bought it for. It was received decently with a 76% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Life in a Year. Filming began in 2017. Will Smith’s son falls in love with pixie dream girl dying of cancer. She helps him on his journey to become a rapper. He marries her. She dies of cancer. Sony Pictures Releasing it showed it in 54 theatres in November of 2020. Box office was $43,862, and not enough critics reviewed it for a Rotten Tomatoes score. It is now streaming on Amazon Prime, where random people who love trash seem to like it. Couldn’t find a budget for it.

All My Life. Filming began in 2019. Based on a true story. Aspiring chef Solomon Chau is engaged to his girlfriend Jenn Carter. Then he gets liver cancer. They try to decide whether to postpone the wedding. Instead their friends encourage them to move the wedding up. They get married. He dies. It was released to theatres in December of 2020, and released to VOD a month later. Critics were split, with a 56% on Rotten Tomatoes. At the box office it grossed $2 million on a $25 million dollar budget. It is currently streaming to HBO Max.

Our Friend. Filming began in 2019. Based on an essay. Based on a true story. Mother and wife, Nicole Teague, is dying of cancer. Close family friend, Dane, moves in to help take care her, putting his life on hold for more than a year. His girlfriend doesn’t understand and breaks up with him. Cancer wife dies. Husband Matthew Teague writes essay thanking Dane. It was released into the theatres in January 2021. Had a positive critical reception, 85% on Rotten Tomatoes, but bombed big time. Not even $700,000 on a $10 million dollar budget. It is now streaming on Amazon Prime, where random people who love trash seem to love it.

So yeah, with the numbers we have, cancer movies look like a money sink. But that’s the thing, we have no ability to access the numbers that really matter. The streaming numbers. How much are they making on VOD? How much are they making on distribution rights? The theatre releases for many of these were perfunctory. Did they turn a profit for the studio in the long term? We don’t know. All of that is information hidden in the cloud.

Which terrifies me. Because it means that Lisa’s Story could still be a big success. It could still win awards. We might not be done with this yet. And I bet you dollars to donuts that commenter Jeff M. was right yesterday, and Les is going to start getting letters and emails from all the women whose lives he saved by profiting off of his wife’s death.

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Alumnaiku

Look, the man himself
Deigns to appear on panel
Here in today's strip

Why is he worried
No one is coming to see
Him in uniform

No one is coming
To see Holly twirl either
But whatever y'all

This Harry Dinkle,
He sounds like a real jerk
This guy here, real jerk

With his history
Of abusing band members
Why would alums play

But of course these two
Still have their band uniforms
No one leaves high school

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Tell, Don’t Show

Mr. A
September 10, 2021 at 9:37 am
It’s never been more obvious that Batiuk came up with an idea for a cool comic-book cover first, and worked backwards from there. On Saturday they’ll name the water character, and then we’ll see the cover art on Sunday, and then we’ll be done.

Two outta three ain’t bad, Mr. A! I didn’t even get today’s gag until the third or fourth read through. Why was the writer teasing the artist about an “obsession with writing things down”? I suppose that Phil is implying that he did the real work of drawing, while all Flash had to do was spin a “story” without even having to set it down in written form.

So we won’t know yet how the fourth character, representing the water element, will be (the Inedible Pulp, perchance?) But yes, tomorrow we’ll see a Comix kover (desktop users, get ready to rotate those monitors). And then we’ll be done. And, speaking of teasing, we’ll reconnect with yet another octogenarian FW character, one whom we’ve only seen in a single cameo in all of 2021!


Addendum

The Batty blog is running the FW strips from the aftermath of September 11, 2001. The strips are really…not so bad (this was still Act II), and, to TB’s credit, they ran less than one month after the attacks (not a year later, as is the case with his Covid content). Anyway, I’m bringing this up as an excuse to post the most savagely funny sendup of a certain self important cartoonist from Ohio. Never forget.

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Let Mr. Sponge Be Your Guide

Yay. We’re now at the part of the arc where one fictional character is telling other fictional characters how great they are, without giving any hint of a reason for why they feel that way. I’m sure I’ve probably said this at least ten times, and I know many other people on here have said it, but it really does amaze me how Batiuk has shown basically nothing of these comics, despite Funky Winkerbean itself basically revolving around them at this point.
I really do not know what the point of this is. So two minor characters produced comics, decades ago, that one person apparently centered his entire life around? How? “When the Amazing Mr. Sponge used his super sucking powers to vanquish Mr. Tea, that inspired me to become a janitor?” I like comics more than probably 99% of the population, and at times have found inspirational material in them. But saying they’re your “north star guiding you through life” is just pathetic, especially when you realize these are cheesy Silver Age comics.
Oh, and notice the speaker is addressing “you two”. I wonder if Ruby is still standing off to the side, or if she’s wandered back to the airport by this point.

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Landing at Bore-mandy

Blah blah blah today’s strip… blah blah blah Phil Holt… blah blah blah comic books… blah blah blah The Subterranean… blah blah blah yackity smackity…

Meanwhile… *stupid cloud bubble panel border that TB inexplicably thinks should indicate an in-strip shift from one place to another*

Everyone’s 5th favorite Stooge, “Curly-Joe” DeRita, and Darth Vader himself are hanging out at Ye Olde Comic Shoppe. What’s that all about? Spacemanspiff85 is going to be our guide as we find out (provided we do in the next two weeks). Thoughts and prayers, man, thoughts and prayers.

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The Mindy Projection

Mindy may be front-and-center in today’s strip, but we all know she isn’t the real star. The real star is…

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The Pub-Lush-ing Industry

I think a considerable amount of time has passed between yesterday’s strip and today’s strip, because I’m pretty sure everyone today is three sheets to the wind and that Chester is holding the group’s 17th bottle of color-changing champagne (Also, Durwood changed his shirt). The only other explanation for “hobnailing” is that Flash is going full Crankshaft-mode here, and I refuse to believe that because the mere thought makes me physically ill. There is no explanation for everything Pete is doing regardless of the circumstances.

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Quid Mus Sumit?

Link to Today’s Post.

The punchline of today’s strip is church mice.

Last week faithful and valued commenters William Thompson and Maxine of Arc got on the subject of church mice, specifically questioning why they would be quiet or poor. I promised them an explanation, so today here it is.

Why are church mice quiet?

Church mice are quiet because in the 20th century two idioms got smashed together. “Quiet as a mouse.” Which has been around since the 16th century, and “Poor/hungry as a church mouse.” which has been around since the 17th century.

The quietness of rodents is pretty self explanatory. But why are church mice poorer and hungrier than other mice?

Transubstantiation.

For any of you who didn’t have to sit through three years of confirmation or multiple years of religious history in college, transubstantiation is the Catholic belief that communion bread and wine become, in reality, the actual body and blood of Christ. Not a remembrance or a symbol or even just inhabited by the the spirit or essence of the body, (Lutheran consubstantiation.) The substance has been transformed into actual Godflesh.

So Catholics take a lot of care that any excess communion bread left over after a Mass is protected; and the place they put the extra, either a tabernacle or an ambry, often has kneeling rails for private devotions or eucharistic adoration.

Even before transubstantiation became a set idea, early Christians didn’t want little mice gnawing on communion wafers.

“Let all take care that no unbaptized person taste of the Eucharist nor a mouse or other animal, and that none of it at all fall and be lost. For it is the Body of Christ to be eaten by them that believe and not to be thought of lightly.”(Hippolytus, Apostolic Tradition III:32:2 235 AD.)

But what would happen if a mouse DID eat communion bread? Medieval theologians were fascinated with the idea, and used the question ‘Quid Mus Sumit?‘ ‘What does the mouse eat?’ as a thought experiment to explore the idea of The Eucharist. What is it? What does it do? What would it do to someone who ate it without knowing what it was? At what point does it stop being body and blood?

“Even though a mouse or a dog were to eat the consecrated host, the substance of Christ’s body would not cease to be under the species, so long as those species remain, and that is, so long as the substance of bread would have remained; just as if it were to be cast into the mire. Nor does this turn to any indignity regarding Christ’s body, since He willed to be crucified by sinners without detracting from His dignity; especially since the mouse or dog does not touch Christ’s body in its proper species, but only as to its sacramental species. Some, however, have said that Christ’s body would cease to be there, directly it were touched by a mouse or a dog; but this again detracts from the truth of the sacrament, as stated above. None the less it must not be said that the irrational animal eats the body of Christ sacramentally; since it is incapable of using it as a sacrament. Hence it eats Christ’s body “accidentally,” and not sacramentally, just as if anyone not knowing a host to be consecrated were to consume it. And since no genus is divided by an accidental difference, therefore this manner of eating Christ’s body is not set down as a third way besides sacramental and spiritual eating.”

Summa Theologiae, Thomas Aquinas. 1273 AD.

Of course all this Catholic rodent obsession was eventually used by Protestants during the Reformation as a big old ‘gotcha’ when lambasting Catholic ‘idolatry’ of the communion. Some of it got downright vicious and definitely disingenuous. And it’s from about this time that ‘hungry as a church mouse’ became an idiom.

Excerpt from The Works of John Jewel who was Bishop of Salisbury from 1559-1571.

So there you have it. Church mice are poor because they can’t get any communion bread, and we joke about it because of leftover anti-Catholic sentiment.

Many apologies to anyone who came to this blog today expecting comics criticism instead of a theological deep dive, but I wanted to end my shift talking about something I actually find compelling, rather than dance the Dinklepolka.

It’s been an interesting couple weeks. I mean in terms of the straws I grasped at to try and find something to say. Those straws were kinda fun to braid together. The strip was boring as mud. Actually, I take that back. Mud is much more interesting. I think I’ll research that next.

Join me again in a couple months as I regale you all about INTERESTING MUD. For example. Did you know all baseballs used in MLB are rubbed with special mud harvested, prepped, and packaged by a single man from New Jersey who gathers it in a secret location every year along the Delaware River?

Until next time then. TF Hackett is taking over tomorrow. Good luck good sir. You have my sympathies.

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Black Cat Familiar

Link To Today’s Strip

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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