Tag Archives: Nate

Did someone break the windows?

Link to today’s strip

No Les, for either one of them to be jokes, they would have to be funny. And kudos to all the commenters who wondered if Batiuk would remember far enough back to reference the machine gun. Turns out it was cardboard. What is funny is that bringing a fake gun to school these days is likely good enough to get you suspended. Ah, the good old days, when Batiuk still had the balls to use guns for humor.

There is something funny in this strip though. That kid carrying the ‘We’re Still Here” sign looks like an immigrant from another strip entirely. I’m guessing Archie. He’s either got freckles, acne, stubble, or a tiny tattoo of a flock of migrating geese on his cheek. That coat looks like he murdered Chewbacca to wear his pelt, and the orange scarf isn’t so much a fashion accessory as some terrible noose he’s broken free. He’s got a nose high and sharp enough to use as a can opener, pointy ears. And all of this with a receding hairline hiding under cowlick reminiscent of the infamous scene in “There’s Something About Mary.”

Forget everyone else in this strip. We should make it all about Cowlick from now on.

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No Conflict of Interest.

Link to today’s strip

What is going on with Les’ face in panel two today? I can only guess that Ayers saw the word vomit in the speech bubble and decided to give Les an expression to match. It’s a pretty apt depiction since Les is just regurgitating yesterday’s substance.

And good old principal Nate today, distilling into one word the thing most perniciously wrong with Funky Winkerbean. Les presents him with something potentially contentious, and Nate agrees.

No argument about the students’ obligation to be in school, the potential debasing of non-violent rule breaking as a tool of last resort, or the use of the school’s own vehicle of propaganda to take a position on a divisive issue where the student body is likely not unified in viewpoint. Nate agrees. All ‘good’ people agree. Everyone seen is in agreement. The potential opponents are an unseen undefined ‘badness’ that must not be personified.

This is worse storytelling than the Big Gay Prom arc, because at least in that we had a strawwoman in opposition. She was about as nuanced as a shrieking harpy ruining everyone’s lunch, but she was there. Opposition leads to drama. It resists the goal of the protagonists, making them work for what they want. And, most importantly to Batiuk’s goals, it gives what they’re fighting for weight. Debate lets the characters themselves tell the audience why: Why is a walkout the best way for these students to protest school shootings? Does anyone think there is a better way? Is there any specific legislation or legislators these kids are targeting? We’ll probably never know, because so far no one asked.

If Les and Bernie had to convince the Principal to allow the editorial, if they had to explain themselves to parents or disagreeing students, or if they had to potentially sacrifice something to stage this protest, then the ‘protest’ might seem like something more than what it is: hollow, passionless, consequence free virtue-signaling.

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And continues…

Today’s strip continues Nate and Linda’s inane conversation about Tank Wedgeman. It’s illuminating that these two administrators (one of Linda’s myriad responsibilities makes her an administrator, right? She’s got a hand in literally everything in this school) can’t imagine stopping the bullying, instead simply waiting it out until the kid graduates. Who cares about all the kids he victimizes in the meantime.

These strips remind me of something I mentioned way back in the Gay Prom storyline. (can we believe it’s been nearly six years?) In that strip  Nate spoke of “the intolerant” rather than “intolerance”. The issue I had was that Batiuk seemed to be framing homophobia in the context of people rather than ideas. Good people would think the way Batiuk did, and bad people would think differently. It wasn’t a matter of examining different perspectives and/or how a person might end up with problematic attitudes or behaviors. It was just an issue of The Bad People, or “the intolerant” in that strip. There isn’t any point in trying to deal with Tank’s bullying. It’s just who he is, and it won’t stop until he’s gone. They don’t engage bullying any more than Nate engaged Roberta’s issue (that we can only suppose is homophobia because Batiuk never allowed her to voice her specific objections).

It’s pretty disgusting ordinarily, but it’s especially so coming from two characters who are supposed to be educators. Hell, I think of all of Batiuk’s characters, he thinks Linda and Nate are the two most admirable teachers at the school. Unlike Les, they seem to approach their jobs in education with some form of enthusiasm, so it’s remarkable that they don’t seem to recognize teachable moments. If I’m reading Batiuk’s timeline correctly, these two have at least thirty years’ experience each, and yet bullying appears to be something they have no response to, nor think they need to deal with.

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The Wedgeman Obsession continues

Today’s strip shows that Linda and Nate are still talking about this kid Tank Wedgeman, such that they ought to charge him rent for taking up inordinate space in their minds. Linda’s still hugging that odd blue book until panel three, which amazingly is the first time she hasn’t been hugging it all week. I’m not sure what the cage-thing is that’s on the wall behind them. I’d say it’s a shelf but you can see clear through it around the corner.

So Nate indicates that there are five Wedgeman brothers who are evenly separated by four years each, so the family had one child every four years for sixteen years to ensure that Westview High would have a Wedgeman at fullback for twenty years. That sounds… deranged, even for Westview. It’s also pretty remarkable that from the sounds of it no trouble came about from Bull throwing Nameless Wedgeman off the team for bullying “someone”. If his family really did plan the births of their children around such a lunatic scheme, one would think that they would raise a fuss over Bull thwarting it in such a casual, informal fashion.

Anyway, the most slipshod strip of the week. Have at it.

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January 25th, 2018

So Nate today continues talking about the school’s latest bully and it’s a doozy. Since Batiuk has no idea what bullying on social media entails and has no desire to learn, he instead has Tank Wedgeman kick it old school with physical bullying more in line with what he was used to decades ago. Of course. He also doesn’t show bullying itself or show Nate doing anything about it, instead just showing Nate talking about it.

And Nate gets worse when he describes the types of abuse Wedgeman visits on his victims and, from all appearances, seems to be not the least bit troubled. Jesus man, a swirly involves Wedgeman jamming a kid’s head in a fucking toilet, and yet Nate’s acting as if this is no big deal. It just comes with the territory. What a guy.

Meanwhile, Linda acts as nothing more than a filibuster-enabler by prompting Nate’s jabbering whenever he needs it. By the way, notice how she hugs that lone blue book to her chest in every panel this entire week. What could that book possibly be?

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Nate and Linda, useless as ever.

Today’s strip shows Nate and the ubiquitous Linda walking along a corridor in the high school. Batiuk apparently decided he needed another bully, and since he had to graduate Wedgeman with the dopesy twins Owen and Cody, he came up with a new one. To no one’s surprise, it’s the brother of his previous bully, and would you look at that, he’s a football player as well. Let no one suggest that Batiuk ever exhausts the possibilities he has before him.

The severely parted Linda isn’t actually concerned about what happened to the victims of Tank’s bullying, because they’re not important. What’s important is to indicate that there’s a new bully in town and have Nate make a completely nonsensical reference to a cliche as wordplay. It’s actually in insult to wordplay. It should be called wordloitering instead.

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No

Today’s strip shows the unbelievably named Maris Rogers giving an unbelievable impromptu news cast about the unbelievably petty problem of Les blowing through his monthly copier privileges. But what’s most unbelievable about it is that any student who goes to Westview High would actually be willing to defend this jackass. Les, on the rare occasions  when he’s actually shown teaching, is an extraordinary asshole to his students. It simply wrecks my suspension of disbelief that the three students on the Bleat would go up against their principal, in such an inflammatory fashion, to defend this insulting prick. Perhaps that’s why the diminutive Bernie Silver is conspicuously missing.

Btw, I find it instructive that in order to find a sequence of Les actually teaching a class rather than insulting his students over parental permission for a Washington D.C. trip or simply grandstanding, I had to go back nearly five years.

Anyway, if the copier limitations that Les so strenuously protests were so draconian, you’d think the improbably named Maris Rogers (was Ruth Babe too obvious?) would find a more sympathetic teacher than the one who’s been throwing a massive hissy all week before no doubt going back to insult his students yet again.

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