This Week in Milford

January 14, 2023

Not at the Bonfire, He Didn’t

Another smash cut, back to Milford and boys’ hoops action. In the course of hammering Tobias/Toby/Tobe/Toebeans, the Salem player gets a look of consternation as he player he hammered feels… somehow… different.

If Toebeans is getting mugged in P1, is Keri getting mugged in P2? Kudos to the Chief for the arms wrapped around neck poses in parallel. No clue why we’re getting the rando Milfordian showing us his choppers in the foreground, though.

Problems at the charity stripe, Gordon? You need to track down good old Kenzie Hanley to show you how it’s done. But why so distracted by Pedro on Keri like white on rice? Thought Dorothy was your babe and Keri was your bestie when you and they were kids. Have we been thrown from Mimi’s potential girl-on-girl tension to a potential bizarre love triangle?

Talk amongst yourselves. It’s late and I haven’t put a lot of deep thought into this. teenchy out.

January 4, 2023

Marty can’t tell front from behind. Should we worry?

The Mudlark boys’ basketball opener is under way and, as it’s a non-conference game, it falls upon us to try to figure out where it’s happening. Judging from their bird mascot and that Forest View is two words, not one, I’m venturing a guess that this is the no longer extant Forest View in the Chicagoland region. It wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen a shout-out* to a defunct high school, though I’m not gonna comb the archives to find the example (it was a Detroit-area school IIRC).

Marty’s looking a little thicker around the middle and in the hand, which must be a side effect of his continued sobriety. Milford was shown yesterday in its road black-and-reds, so why is Forest View wearing what looks like the old “Block M” jerseys Michigan trots out from time to time (and which Milford also wore BITD)? Bigger question: where is this behind-the-back pass Marty’s calling happening, in his mind? Why is Marty continuing to call out uni numbers for the Mudlarks? Is the game being simulcast on TV2 and WBIG radio?

All that aside, how ’bout this NBA-style halftime score! Have both of these teams broken out the run-and-gun or forgotten how to play defense? At the risk of repeating myself, I appreciate Barajas incorporating the trans kid into the strip fairly seamlessly, with virtually no reaction from anyone in Milford, but making the kid magically become a star athlete on every sports team he goes out for strains credulity just a little bit. Can’t wait until baseball season when he breaks Joe Sharkey’s and Kevin Pelwecki’s long-ball records.

*I’m not sure if Mudlark big man Darius Simmons is also a shout-out to a friend, Rubin-style, but sadly the first hit I get when searching for him is a 13-year-old kid who was murdered in front of his mother in Milwaukee about a decade ago. There’s also a Darius Simmons playing football at McGill, where he could be a teammate of Chance Macy’s.

December 7, 2022

Clean, Old-Fashioned Hit

What a genuine surprise to see today’s strip in good old-fashioned black and white. For once we can imagine Milford in traditional road whites and New Thayer in something other than light blue. Of course we’ll also have to imagine white froth around the mouth of Danny Maivia, too. Wait…

…Danny…Maivia? As in the Maivia and Anoaʻi family of pro wrestling fame? Are we getting set up for Danny to recur a few years from now as “Little Rock” or a new Wild Samoan? Could Hairy Hercules come back and manage him? If these are seeds being planted, let’s do our best to nurture them.

Know what else is old-fashioned? The entirety of P1. Start with the hairstyles: Kaz has gone full Sha Na Na up front with his mullet and the Mudlark to his left is sporting his best mohawk. Milford has also put a mascot on the sidelines, a mashup of the Notre Dame leprechaun and Ernest T. Bass from The Andy Griffith Show. Finally, nothing is as old-fashioned as literally calling out your plays from the sideline without code words, hand signals* or cryptic sign boards. New Thayer a school for the deaf now, Kaz?

I think we know why Danny Maivia is frothing at the mouth, though. Milford-New Thayer has morphed from a football game to a track meet. We’ll see if Gil and Kaz have put an S&C program in place to keep the Mudlarks in this shootout. As for yhs, too many old fashioned references make me want to go mix one up for myself. Too early for day drinking?**

*Kaz might be throwing the Hook ’em Horns in anticipation of Texas joining the SEC for all we know.

**Thanks to Ned and you faithful TWIMers for calling out Marty’s Illuminati token AA chip in Monday’s post. I appreciate the background and respect you for rising to your challenges. I don’t know that I’ll feel as comfortable attributing Marty’s dialogue to Johnnie Walker in his sippy cup again, however.

October 1, 2022

A Day for Definitions*

mudlark, n. 1. (mainly UK) someone who searches the mud near rivers trying to find valuable or interesting objects. 2. (UK) a horse who runs well on soft, wet ground.

Neither of those define an actual bird and, of the two, only the latter makes much sense as a sports team mascot (e.g., Indiana Pacers, Murray State Thoroughbreds/Racers). The only NCAA Division I school with a peacock mascot had a Cinderella run in the most recent March Madness (beating the aforementioned Murray State in the process) and a shout-out at the end of the Pranit Smith winter arc. Trotting out a reference to what was already an idiotic Rubin plot from nine years ago doesn’t establish continuity; it throws a marrowless bone to a readership looking for some strand of it after the past 2.5 months have made their collective heads spin.

context, n. the situation within which something exists or happens, and that can help explain it.

As much as we all bitched about the lather, rinse, repeat of the beginnings of a Rubin sportsball season, they helped place the wackiness that followed in some sort of context. We’d have Gil and/or Mimi tick off to Marjie and/or Marty the starting lineups named after Rubin’s friends or colleagues IRL; we’d see a Milford team play a non-conference opponent (probably another shout-out) on the road (Connecticut? South Carolina? Vermont? Chuck a dart at the map, Rubin!); then we’d dive into the Valley Conference schedule. Sometimes – make that often – games would pass and we’d get no detail about them beyond the result. Other times, single games would drag on for days or even weeks.

When they did, however, we would at least know the opponent, the score, and the quarter or inning. Sometimes we’d even know the time remaining, the field position, down and yards to go, the outs, the count on the batter, the number of fouls on the hoopster. Yesterday we had to connect a lot of dots to make sense of what was going on on the field. There were 10 seconds left in the game and Milford had a 4th-and-1 on the (school?) Bobcats’, oh, say, 23. Gil wants to go for the end zone; Kaz wants to send the kicker out to attempt a 40-yard field goal. Somehow Kaz, who heretofore has not been the OC and playcaller, overrules Gil (who used to be in charge of calling plays). Since high school kickers who can hit from 40 are scarcer than peacock’s teeth, the kick is predictably no good. The Bobcats run out the clock and the Mudlarks lose.

What was the score of the game? Would a field goal have won it? For the sake of argument, let’s assume it would. Knowing poor Hooper wasn’t likely to make it from 40, why not go for the first down? Did Milford not have any time outs left? That would’ve been a factor in the decision as well. All that matters is the Mudlarks lost, Patrick Swayze Kaz feels shame, and Gil stares blankly out the prairie style window at the mule golden retriever trans soccer player who will make Hooper history, Milford woke, and Luke Martinez leave town when he kicks the winning field goal to beat Valley Tech in the season finale.

*(Source for both definitions: Cambridge Dictionary)

August 10, 2022

Urban Thorp

Today it’s all flashback as Luke Martinez y Hernnandez spins his tale for Marty’s “podcast,” painting Gil as the Valley’s version of Urban Meyer.

To hear old Hairy Hand Luke tell it, he was quietly minding his own business, admiring his reflection in the carefully polished bar top and nursing his glass of 2% milk while he waited for Bethany the barkeep to pour him another. But where was Bethany? Leaping across the bar to get up in Gil’s grill – and Gil didn’t turn away! (The artwork doesn’t quite match the dialog, Chief.)

There’s a grain of truth in observing that Bethany might have a thing for Gil, but it wouldn’t have been easy for Knuckles there to pick up on it as much as he was running his mouth. If Marty lets this hit the podosphere, this might boil down to a he-said, she-said, with Gil flying Bethany in to cast the tiebreaker.

Marty sounds downright incredulous in response – which does not sound like Marty Moon at all! Kinda reinforces the notion that Gil and Marty have a Ralph and Sam-style working relationship. Looking forward to seeing Gil leave his doghouse for a round of Johnnie Walkers with Marty at Barney’s before this arc is through.

Special Guest Cameo: The role of Gil in P3 is being played by Bob Crane.

July 23, 2022

Soiled it!

Dang, Gil should’ve held off on that last glass of Long Island iced tea water and checked his Depends before he got up on stage. Now he’s gotta slink off stage before he soils his reputation more than himself.

Presumably “the script” has something to do with why Mimi and/or the Thorp kids aren’t there to see Gil take his victory lap. This is gonna play out in slow motion (kinda like Boo Radley’s fatal car crash) and should at least be as interesting as a summer golf plot.

Before we pivot in that direction, let’s focus on the story that set up today’s cliffhanger. Emmett Tays was in an abusive household, and all Gil did was to tell him in so many words not to take it out on his teammates? Compare/contrast to the action he took with Aaron aand Maamaa Aagaard and Tiki Jansen (with Hadley V. Baxendale’s help) and chew on that one for a while.

Anyhoo, I’m here for the retcon.

New category: A Tinge of Regret, to reflect Gil’s current state of mind.

July 20, 2022

Are these guys all gonna go join John Pascoe at State?

A little over a week in and Barajas has run out of dialogue? Five straight panels of nothin’ but action? How are we supposed to respond to this?

I suppose by nitpicking the artwork to begin with. It’s an “unforgiving Milford night” that looks like daytime. That’s another one that’s on Whigham and/or the colorists. Ditto with the Milford and Oakwood uniforms. As I’ve often railed on in the past, color-on-color games are rare at any level with only a few exceptions. Finally, if this is a flashback, when did this game occur? (I think a call to TWIM SID billytheskink may be in order.) Did Milford’s uniforms canonically look like that that season? Take a look at these examples from the Berrill and McLaughlin eras – or, heck, from the earlier Rubin & Whigham era. Canon is important in the Thorpiverse, except when the matter of the Thorp kids comes up.

The next thing to nitpick is the lingo. “It’s good!” usually refers to a kick attempt for a field goal or PAT, not a touchdown. Since the Mudlarks were down by six, presumably Tays’ TD catch tied the score and it was the point after kick that was good. But what’s this “State” thing? It’s “playdowns” around the Valley and don’t you fergit it!

Call it whatever you will, we come away from today’s strip knowing that Milford made the football postseason in whatever season this represents. Why does Gil look so pissy, then? Is it because the player behind him has started bonking him on the head, or is it his typical response when he figures out he’s gonna have to do more coaching that he thought would be necessary during a season?

June 25, 2022

Nomar Hamm for You, Al

Oh look, it’s yet another late-middle-aged white guy in the Allen Funt/Ed Asner mold, the kind that are thick on the ground in the Valley. This time he’s named Al Drake and he’s at Channel 6 in Central City. Somebody must have picked up a copy of the Milford Star before their long commute to the Channel 6 studios and dropped it off in the break room, where Al stumbled upon it while rooting around a box of stale donuts left over from a staff meeting the day before. (Oh, alright, he saw the online edition on his massive 20-year-old desktop PC still running on Windows XP.)

Big Al can’t let one dying medium have The Gregg Hamm Story all to itself, so of course he wants in on it. Being from a bigger market, Al thinks Channel 6 can impose on Gil’s sense of order and have Gregg make the start in front of his cameras… but noooOOO! No one tells Gil Thorp when to start his pitchers except Gil Thorp. (Never mind that Gregg’s been starting almost every game we’ve seen this season.) No one tells Gil Thorp when to pull his pitchers except Gil Thorp, either, and he’ll shit-talk anyone who tries to tell him otherwise.

Gil Thorp accommodates no one from the media. Well, no one except Heather Burns. Her, he’ll let roam onto the field to interview his players. Mimi seems incredibly chill with this arrangement – so chill she hasn’t even bothered to field a softball team this season. Mezcal and Vicodin have a way of doing that. So does the pool boy coming by to open the pool up early.

If Channel 6 wants a piece of Hamm, it’ll have to move closer to Gil’s world.

meta: yhs will be on vacation from July 1-17, and will be off the grid for part of that time. I’ll plan on posting this coming Wednesday but can’t count on being able to post again until July 20 at the earliest.

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