Hey readers! As the Batiuk Retirement Watch continues, your friends here at SoSF are putting our heads together to figure out what happens to this blog after the 31st of December…look for updates soon. –TFH
A couple years ago, my older sister showed me something interesting that she’d found among our late mother’s personal belongings: a number of pocket size “junior diaries,” one for each year, spanning a number of years from the early days of her marriage to my father through my own childhood years. While we were a little curious about what these little books might contain, my sis and I both agreed that we just wouldn’t feel comfortable reading through them. Though I did ask my sis if I could keep the one from my birth year.
Nobody connected to St. Lisa seems to have any such qualms about perusing her most private writing. Summer’s already read through Lisa’s account of being raped and impregnated by Frankie (and was even prepared to blackmail him by reading it on YouTube). When Les was struggling to write the Lisa’s Story screenplay, Cayla helpfully fetched Lisa’s journal from the bookshelf. Though she’s been dead for fifteen years, no FW character has dispensed more wisdom, between her journal (presumably journals; that same book probably wouldn’t contain entries from high school through her cancer battle unless she wrote really, really small) and her hours upon hours of video messages.
It’s been a long time since I laughed out loud at Funky Winkerbean, but Les’ question in today’s strip cracked. Me. Up. It’s been ten whole years since Les and Cayla dropped off Summer and Keisha at Kent State. Even for someone doing “graduate work,” ten years is a stretch. Is she still on a basketball scholarship? I don’t recall even seeing her in a Kent State uniform. So has Les been paying her tuition? I doubt Summer is contributing anything, as the only job we’ve seen her doing is wrapping gifts at the mall two years ago (when the girls were “wrapping up [their] college careers,” according to Cayla).
For someone who’s always bragged about progressing his characters in “real time,” storyteller Tom Batiuk has always taken liberties with the timeline. In this, FW’s Jubilee Year, he’s finally given up trying, casting off any semblance of temporal continuity; most notably by aging his core characters by at least five years to have their fiftieth high school reunion coincide with the strip’s own fiftieth anniversary (pay no attention to Crazy Harry’s time travel arc from last spring which suggested the gang were still in high school in 1980).
You win, Tom Batiuk. This is the last time I’m going to bitch about your nonsensical time constructs, and the last post I’ll have to write for a while, as tomorrow, Banana Jr. 6000 starts a 2 week shift, and I just know he’s rarin’ to go!
Today’s strip concludes (we hope and pray and hope and wish) this latest visit from the Ghost of Distress Past. Her Royal Wryness. The VHSaint herself.
Special thanks go out to Summer for being a prop with no impact on the story whatsoever, she has already collected her prize of appearing in a full 3 panel strip this week (panels will not necessarily be consecutive).
Special thanks also go out to Les for having such an insatiable ego and such milquetoast friends and family that he will continue to receive the unearned praise he has been given for decades now.
And extra special thanks go out to Crazy Harry, who demanded nothing but 18 panels of our precious time in return for his brilliant idea of pretending Isaac Asimov invented the concept of recording video using already obsolete technology.
On the subject of 18 panels (well, 16, thanks to a couple of 2 panel strips), this new Lisa tapes origin story actually takes up more column inches than the entire original origin story AND depiction of the recording of the tapes! That took just 16panels in fourstrips. For all its faults, Act II got to the point…
More word zeppelins in today’s strip… Not as bad as yesterday, but still, get your bookmarks out, folks!
You know, this is actually one of TB’s tidiest retcons, probably because it is one of the very few intentional ones he’s ever undertaken. It takes the original scene and changes its context (slightly) by depicting a previously unseen scene. Tidy. The pieces actually fit together. There are no loose ends, deleted original context, or unresolved conflict with the originals scene. See? That’s not so hard.
Heck, as a bonus it even (unnecessarily but adeptly) explains a silly detail from the original scene, why Les has a camcorder and this Hari Seldon story readily at hand as if he was waiting for Lisa to lament about all the things Summer she will never get to experience. Turns out, he pretty much was just waiting on the chance to whip that camera on out.
Tidy as it is, this retcon was no more entertaining or less irritating because of it. In fact, it makes the origin story of the Lisa tapes tremendously off-putting. The focus shifts away from the impending reality of Summer growing up without a mother seen in the original scene to the needs of Summer’s nogoodnik parents… First, Lisa wants to record the tapes so she can live vicariously through Summer’s adolescence in her imagination. Then, Crazy and Lisa hatch this cockamamie plan to let Les take credit for the idea to record the infamous tapes, which only soothes his ego and bolsters his hero complex. These people are awful and I hope I never wind up sitting next to any of them on an airplane.
I’m surprised it took until today’s strip for the word zeppelins to arrive… but one has docked right at Crazy’s mouth and is unloading such a tremendous volume of technobabble that it threatens to lift the roof right off the porch of the Taj Moore-hal! In explaining the concept of recording Lisa’s advice on video, Crazy somehow spits out 60% more words than Les did in the original take on this story back in 2007. It is almost enough to make you pity Lisa, who apparently had to listen to this verbal assault twice.
Hey, I said almost…
I’m not a big Isaac Asimov guy or a sci-fi reader in general, I’ve always been very much a non-fiction reader when it comes to things that aren’t comics, so I cannot tell you how accurate or apt or idiotic or unnecessary Crazy’s rambling is (I can tell you it makes for miserable comic strip reading, but that should go without saying). I suspect we have some folks much better suited to that than me in our comments section, so I will now turn this over to my fellow SOSFers.
So much for Summer’s reappearance… with today’s strip we’re now seven panels removed from Monday’s “Hey Harry! What Brings?” with no end in sight to the sepia-toned sadness blocking Ms. Moore from view. If that’s not bad enough for poor Summer, Lisa can’t be bothered to even mention “her daughter” by name in the word salad she spits out in panel 2.
Are we headed toward another unnecessary and uninteresting retcon?
Cue the laugh track for today’s strip… because otherwise there’s just this long, awkward pause between non-jokes. It’s like a newsprint manifestation of those “sitcom without the laugh track” videos, only more more cringe-inducing. Why are these two ostensible friends (one of whom is terminally ill) being insufferable to each other? This kind of thing works when you establish that the two characters have some type of relationship and that unbearable wryness is their M.O. As far as I know, Crazy and Lisa never had much of a relationship of any kind (he was Les’ weirdo buddy), much less a whole Gilmore Girls thing going on.
Lisa really let Harry slide on that face after saying she didn’t feel as bad as she looked? Sure, she’s dressed like Crankshaft, but she’s also sick and at her own home. He’s the one who went out in public dressed like Gallagher wearing a Paul Simon Halloween costume.
Today’s strip appears to be the latest installment of one of TB’s most recent recyclable story concepts: “old person has a Lisa flashback in front of Summer”. Of course, it’s also the latest installment in his most overplayed story… but we all knew we would be back here eventually.
Just how many Lisa tapes are there? We can see 5 or 6 peeking out of the top of the box Crazy is carrying today, meaning there are probably at least 10 total in the box. The box Summer brought to him close to seven years ago was about twice as deep, also with about 5 or 6 tapes visible out of the top. This suggests that there are about two dozen tapes, over two full days worth of Lisa video assuming she recorded a full 2 hours in SP mode on each tape.
Regardless of how many of these tapes there are, they can’t be much more than conversation pieces now given that Crazy baked them when converting them all those years ago. Not that Les wanted anyone conversing about them despite having 7 or more of them on prominent display in his living room.
But we’re not in reality (we’re 1/4″ away from it), so what we are left with is a false modesty competition between Marianne and Les that offers nothing we did not already know yesterday. It’s a good example of Les showing his true colors though… If Les really and truly felt guilty about taking the Oscar that Marianne is stupidly and inexplicably giving up, then he wouldn’t wait until she flew across 70% of the country to tell her. I’ll bet he also excuses himself to go to the restroom just before the check comes at a restaurant and then returns to sheepishly offer to pay the bill just as his dining companion is handing their credit card to the waiter. Cue Ben Schwartz saying the thing…
Today’s strip marks Summer’s first appearance since… oh wait, yeah, sorry, that’s (Marianne) Winters, not Summer.
Summer actually has appeared in this strip as recently as 7 weeks ago, which is not something you could often say since she graduated high school. Even so, it’s kind of remarkable that Les and Cayla have interacted more over the past few years with a now-Oscar-winning actress than they have with their own children, both of whom (still!) appear to go to Kent State… less than an hour away from where Westview is generally considered to be.
And by “remarkable” I mean 1/4 inch AU from reality. I think I would have found it more relatable and more entertaining had we focused instead on the adventure that must have been Marianne’s efforts to bring an Oscar stuffed in a small drawstring bag through a TSA checkpoint.