This Week in Milford

June 22, 2022

A Cease and Desist Letter from Rowan Atkinson Will Be Forthcoming

For a guy hellbent on keeping a low profile, Mason Hamstetter isn’t exactly avoiding public places. Who knew the Coffee Cantina was so hopping late at night (it is still night, isn’t it)? With three cameo appearances – one by a young Lech Wałęsa, one by a Jimmy Fallon on hiatus from The Tonight Show – the Cantina might just be the hip place to be when the rest of this tank town rolls up the sidewalks. If this leads to a Gil Thorp spinoff, Milford After Dark, I’m here for it.

I’m also here for Ham(m)stetter‘s “moi?” face and spasmodic hand gesture, reminiscent of a certain public figure mocking a certain journalist. Rubin likes to play a lot of journalistic inside baseball in this strip, what with all the name-dropping of Midwest newspaper types and references to infamous plagiarism cases, so I wouldn’t be terribly surprised. Mason is looking rather nonplussed for someone who dares to rouse Gil from his evening wind-down. What did he think this late-night coffee talk would gain him?

Certainly not any respect from Gil. Besides, Gil has a point telling Mason he’s old news. Nobody in Milford cares about your past unless you’re trying to make money using skills you learned in the past. Nobody in Milford ever Googles anybody to find out if they’re living under an assumed name before running them out of town. Nope, not gonna happen.

Now, about that third cameo appearance (in name, not in likeness): Is he the Coffee Cantina’s new mascot?

April 13, 2022

Gregg Hamm, The Next Ryne Duren. Or Steve Dalkowski. Or Something.

Good grief, how many times is Gil gonna name-check people? Eventually, this strip will just consist of Gil spouting random names. Rubin, if you’re reading this, please know that you can just name check your friends (or pull names from LinkedIn) only so much. It’s as though the story takes a backseat to the shout-outs.

Now on to the story. Gregg’s problem seems to be a non-problem IMO. He wears glasses but can’t see the catcher’s digits? Get a new prescription, dumb-ass. Problem solved. Maybe if he hadn’t dyed his blond hair lavender, he could scrape up enough money for a cheap pair of specs. Wonder if Pranit Rock can lend him some of his gambling winnings?

The two most infamous fireballers with bad eyesight and worse control are called out in the post title. They’re both a little before my time but their stories are legend. Ryne Duren struggled in the minors until he was converted into a relief pitcher. He then went on to have a fitful career with the Kansas City A’s, Yankees, Angels, Phillies, Reds and expansion Senators. Struggling with alcoholism and the death of his infant child, Duren attempted suicide in Washington and was talked down from the ledge by Nats manager Gil Hodges. He was released soon after. After the breakup of his marriage and another suicide attempt, Duren eventually became an addiction counselor and managed to have a productive life after baseball.

Steve Dalkowski‘s story is even sadder. He spent many years in the Orioles’ farm system, never quite getting his act together to get called up to the show. While managing Dalko at AA Elmira, Earl Weaver determined that he was possessed of less than average intelligence. Weaver made it really simple for Dalko, telling him to either throw fastballs down the middle or sliders. Dalkowski’s stats improved but an injury in spring training 1963 effectively ended his career. His post-baseball life was even worse than Duren’s: his alcoholism led to his divorce and, eventually, alcohol-induced dementia. Sadly, he died from complications from COVID-19 almost two years ago to the day, when the virus was ripping through nursing homes in Connecticut.

Not all bespectacled pitchers are doomed to a horrible fate (WARNING: teenchy name drop imminent). Because of my location and my circle of friends, I got to know Walt Masterson fairly well in the final decade of his life. Walt was a workhorse, mostly for the original AL Nats from just before WWII into the early fifties but also for the Red Sox and Tigers. Walt’s glasses weren’t Coke bottle thick but they were tinted due to his extreme sensitivity to light. After his baseball career, Walt was a pitching coach for the Rangers and head coach at George Mason. He was instrumental in the founding of the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association and in getting the player pension program off the ground before passing at age 87.

But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves here. Gil needs to treat Gregg a bit like Earl treated Dalko. Put a little sense in his head and send him to an optometrist. Maybe Rubin can name drop one in an upcoming strip.

December 22, 2021

Low Budget? Wanna Bet?

Who orders tea at the Coffee Cantina? Pranit Smith, that’s who.

Full Pantheon of Hair trifecta today with Tevin’s (that’s still Tevin, innit?) Esquerita ‘do, Pranit rocking the Bobby Bittman and Trevor Lawrence-looking guy looking all Trevor Lawrence-y. Pranit’s rationale for going with the cheap option makes sense…

…but opens the door to speculation. Trevor’s Spidey-sense must be tingling.

Money’s tight for the Smiths, but Pranit is good at assembling and managing a fantasy football team. If he can raise the stakes while maintaining his level of success, maybe he can help augment the Smith family income. Maybe he’ll try to push his luck into other forms of sports gambling. But where will he find the funds to take that plunge?

This is where the Central City Mob steps in. Next thing you know, he’ll get involved in a point-shaving scandal, tanking shots to help make Milford lose or to keep Milford wins close. Nah, that would assume people bet on Valley hoops, which assumes that people are interested in Valley hoops. More than likely he’ll get in deeper in a fantasy football league, where his luck will run out. His contribution to the Mudlarks’ downfall will come via a kneecapping which will come after he can’t pony up his gambling debts.

June 30, 2021

A Little Too Eager with the Swordfights, Methinks

A line that did not bear repeating gets repeated. At least it gives Zane a chance to practice Mimi’s ventriloquism trick. Time to pull out that old Rowan Atkinson decking Colin Firth clip again.

I’m as dumbfounded as many of you as to why the Library Board seat decision was not made soon after, if not immediately after, Zane and Abel had their little debate. In any event, a coffee bar has yet to pop up in the Milford Public Library though bringing one’s own coffee in and drinking it there is A-OK by the library staff.

On to the halls of Milford High before the Valley Tech game (which, we can only hope, is the season finale) and Gildeaux can’t help but notice Zanes’ postcoital flush rosy glow. Looking Chipper? I thought Zane was a pitcher/outfielder, not a third baseman.

May 1, 2021

Baby Brito

Abel Brito is a pest
Fixating on the library
Why can’t he give it a rest?
Why must he be so contrary?

Katy Brito loves her guy
She’s thankful that her dad isn’t meaner
Gonna give Zane a surprise
After swinging by the Cantina

She knows what it’s about
You’d think she’d thought this out
You might as well just shout
It’s gonna get Zane kicked out

And then they started sucking face
Katy brought a little cream and sugar
Can’t bring food into this place
Who said anything about coffee?

Though he didn’t play last year
Zane should remember ’bout the former Mayor
If he gets tossed out on his ear
It’s the end of him as a player

She knows what it’s about
You’d think she’d thought this out
You might as well just shout
It’s gonna get Zane kicked out

You know it’s no butter knife
But if he gets banned for life
What will he do at night?

What will Zane do after this?
Can’t buy a new computer
Maybe he’ll take his bro and sis
Sit in the car and wait and be a commuter

If Abel Brito has his way
No computers, no drinks, no eating
Family’s gonna make him pay
Givin’ him a verbal beating

He knows what it’s about
You’d think he’d thought this out
He might as well just pout
When he sees his daughter make out

(apologies to the late Elliott Smith)

March 10, 2021

Done and Dusted? Not Yet

Filed under: anatomically implausible, basketball, Coffee Cantina, freak hands — teenchy @ 11:50 am

Between the four members of our TWIM blogger rotation and our astute readers, we’ve dissected the character of Corina Karenna six ways from Sunday. Suffice it to say that any sympathy the hive mind may have had for her once her backstory was revealed during the spring and summer 2020 arcs dissipated in the fall as quickly as the Nats’ hopes of defending their 2019 World Series title. By painting her as some kind of voice of unvarnished truth, Rubin has also painted a corner for her in which she fits nicely: as the bearer of unvarnished truths no one else at Milford High would rather deliver. Need someone to tell somebody something they need to hear ’cause you don’t have the guts to tell them yourself? Go get Corina! She lives to burst people’s bubbles and besides, no one likes her anyway!

Having been so anointed, Corina is now compelled to report back to the troops on the outcome of her little mission. Is this happening at practice, or during a game? In either case, wouldn’t Tessi be there too? Rubin, if you’re reading this (and we’re already getting strong hints that you are), please let this devolve into the kind of hair-pulling slapfest of a catfight the readership has been longing for for some time. We’d even be okay with you assigning seconds. That limp-wristed girl down in front with the hand as long as her forearm would be a good stand-in.

Quick cut to the Coffee Cantina and a really awkward POV across the bow of an anonymous coffee drinker to the “he said” side of this subplot. Doug and Vic agree on the weakness of Tessi’s blowoff but then Doug throws Vic the hanging curveball (wait, wrong season, wrong sports metaphor; how about “gives Vic the lane for an easy lay-up”?). Vic’s reply will likely fall along the lines of “Tessi’s the first girl to actually speak to me,” at which point Doug will either point out either (a) there are other fish in the sea or (b) why not just ask someone who’s not interested in girls but has expressed an interest in your van? At that point Doug’s and Vic’s eyes will lock over a steaming hot latte and we’ll get a plot twist no one saw coming.

March 4, 2020

Failing the Schuring Test

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I propose to consider the question, ‘Can comic strip writers think?’ This should begin with definitions of the meaning of the terms ‘comic strip writer’ and ‘think’. The definitions might be framed so as to reflect so far as possible the normal use of the words, but this attitude is dangerous. If the meaning of the words ‘comic strip writer’ and ‘think’ are to be found by examining how they are commonly used it is difficult to escape the conclusion that the meaning and the answer to the question, ‘Can comic strip writers think?’ is to be sought in a statistical survey such as a Gallup poll. But this is absurd.

One of the long-running tropes on the mothership of comics snark is that the strip Archie is written by the “Archie Joke Generating Laugh Unit 3000.” As for Gil Thorp: Artificial? Definitely. Intelligent? Well, uh, at least one of this season’s main characters has both her first and last names derived from well-known forms of artificial intelligence. (Ya think that’s where Rubin’s been leading us all along? Nah, gives him too much credit.)

Today I reckon we’re getting set up to find out if Chris Schuring is made of the same moral fiber as Alexa Watson. Teddy drove faster than the speed of light to get over to the library and reprise his Eddie Haskell schtick. Hoping against hope that we find out why mohawk boy has been holding a grudge toward Chris; otherwise this is just another red herring.

Instead of firing any more synapses to predict that outcome, I prefer to shift my focus to ponder the Milford Public Library and its parameters. How late does it stay open? Is it adequately heated? Did it get its start as a Carnegie Library? Is Aaron Aagard living there now? Talk amongst yourselves.

March 3, 2020

“Hey, Funnie!!!!! I Got Some Crib Notes On The SAT For Sale!!!!!”

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This is the city, Milford USA. It has its good points and its bad points. But I was born and raised here. I call it home.

Milford is like any other city. Good roads. Good schools. Fair tax system. And The Bucket is better than a Big Mac and tater tots any day of the week. And I can handle any rogue who tries to slip a BLT in his overalls because the Milford Soup Kitchen ran short on Campbell’s Chunky. But when a punk attempts to traffick illicit and illegal test items, that gutless coward filled in one too many blanks on the essay section with his #2 pencil. That’s when I go to work. My name’s Friday. I carry a badge.

It was rainy in Milford. The WDIG-TV weatherman called for hail the size of Mudlark practice balls later in the afternoon. But my partner, Bill Gannon, and I had a hailstorm and you couldn’t come of the rain on this one.

We were assigned to the Unlawful and Wrongful Distribution of Examinations and Quiz Substances Unit of the Milford Police Department. The boss is Captain Keener. We were advised to be on the lookout for vehicles peddling illegal SAT’s and other stolen test merchandise. The contraband could be in an Econoline van or a Roadway semi. Anything to throw off the trail.

“Gentlemen, we have a hot one and I’m tired of getting the once-over from the Mayor. So the sooner we can wrap this package and get it under the tree for Christmas, the better. But don’t be stupid. Don’t get your chest blown in two over an LSAT. And you can’t open the Milford Bed and Bath delivery truck without a warrant.”

“We understand. Are there any leads?”

“A couple. An anonymous tipster called and said he saw a Roehl Trucking piggy-back pull at the entrance to Milford High School gym. Said they were using dollies up and down the ramp. We put two and two together and figured you couldn’t fit slaughterballs on dollies. But the guy riding shotgun had one of his own so the tipster couldn’t get closer.”

“We have our Sig Sauers in our wallet. We’ll fire when necessary, Chief.”

“Hopefully it won’t come to that. I don’t want to lose you both over a sting operation gone awry.”

“Don’t worry. If Friday and I can handle John Dillinger without firing a shot, we can handle vermin who shot the proctor so they could improve their score on the Verbal section.”

Somber music as Friday and Gannon methodically leave Keener’s office

 

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Support Small Business, Gang. You need to go where everyone knows your name.

 

This is purely inane. What in the name of Nickelodeon is “Doug” doing on here???? Thorpiverse, if you’re going to drag bad guys out of the script heap, will you at least tell Roger M. Klotz that if he’s going to be trafficking test papers in the hallway to at least SHAVE? It’s bad enough that we have sunk to juvenile proportions just to sell a comic strip.

“Hey, Alexa, here’s some inside info on the Math portion of the SAT. It has all the trig ratios. And Funnie is still struggling with Corresponding Parts of Congruent Triangles are Congruent. You oughta knock him cold if you remember that cosine is the ADJACENT side divided by the hypotenuse. The difference between Milford Community College and Harvard.”

“No thank you, I don’t cheat. Where’d you get those Cliff’s Notes? Surely not the same location as your Trac II.”

“Naw, I stuck all my razors in Funnie’s locker. And told Mr. Bone that Doug Funnie stole them out of his desk when he was going to The Bucket to have lunch with Gil.”

“It shows.”

 

Today’s headline in the Milford Enquirer

“Coach Thorp Injures Back At Milford Lounge During Karaoke Hour!!!!!!!!!!!”

sub headline

“Was trying to duckwalk while playing ‘Maybelline’ on his banjo.”

 

10:14AM-It was windy in Milford. My partner, Bill Gannon, passed some gas and thankfully the zephyr blew most of the stench away. I told him to lay off the sausage biscuits off the Dollar Menu at the Drive-Thru at McDonald’s.

But the test operations ring was getting even stinkier. The good news was that one of the cafeteria ladies called and reported a suspicious pickup truck unloading milk crates at the entrance in the back of the cafeteria. Normally Milford Dairies appears in their Kenworth. It was time to investigate.

We talked with Constance Snakely, the head of the cafeteria, about the incident. Needless to say, the discussion wasn’t about overripe meat loaf on the school lunch menu.

“Awwwwwrrrigghtt, Mrs. Snakely. I could book you on a Section 347, “Manufacturing of Unlawful Condiments with Intent to Damage the Well-Being of the Academic Circles and its Constituents”, but the Milford Minimum Security Facility is overcrowded and I lost the key. But you better have the Twinkie rack in order on this one.”

“It’s that we had to utilize a Dodge Ram to bring in shipments of dairy products. But I am by the book on deliveries. Nothing escapes my eye. What would I do with a Barron’s Guide to the SAT? Store it in the cooler with the 2%?”

“Ma’am, my partner Friday is only doing his job. We have to ensure nothing is fishy. If a #2 pencil is found under a package of Sargento’s Sharp Cheddar, we could all wind up in the hoosegow. Just following procedure.”

“I understand. I hope you catch the crumbum who’s messing with my deliveries. I run a clean operation, you know. Kids and Minute Maid go together like Gil and Mimi.”

“You better pray Gil and Mimi aren’t discovered with a Ford Explorer with cottage cheese and Cliff’s Notes on Precal.”

Somber music as Friday and Gannon grab a bowl of chipped Jell-O and leave.

 

And why the heck is Jiffy Pop Head still following Roger Loser? Both had their prank props confiscated, both got detention, and to add insult to injury, NOBODY LAUGHED. When I was going to school, a student named Fred Seiler (SIGH-ler) would keep us in stitches in Mr. Stieler’s (Steeler) German class. And he NEVER got in trouble. Fred’s philosophy was that if you’re going to get sent to the Principal’s office, keep ’em laughing when you leave. ‘Nuff said.

So in P2, 2 Dead Men Walking

“Hey, Roger, why are they strapping us down to this chair? I thought you said The Governor implented a Stay of Execution.”

“I just got done talking to The Governor. He said that Dr. Pearl ought to remove this steel hat to our heads anytime.”

“Even if we dumped Doug’s body in the ditch behind Milford Beverage Warehouse?”

“Dr. Pearl just said ‘Boys will be boys’.”

“Whooaaa, don’t dump so much water on my head!!!!!!!”

 

 

If ya got fined by the Game Warden cuz ya cheated on the open-book portion of the Hunter’s License exam and he didn’t git notified of your illegal maneuver until after ya bagged a ten-pointer at the Fish & Wildlife Reserve behind the Thorp Pure Pork Sausages Enterprise plant, ya might be a redneck.

 

12:59PM-We were up in Ms. Rizk’s room and had to interrupt her Intro to Journalism-Lifetime Reports class. She was in the middle of discussing efficient methods on printing church bulletins when we knocked.

“I don’t know why you’re talking to me. I wouldn’t have anything to do with anything being smuggled in the gym. Have you talked to Coach Thorp?”

“He wasn’t in.”

“That figures. Recruit players to get their picture on the front page of the Milford Trumpet, then fly out of town on a luxury cruise, courtesy of Milford Travel. But that’s Gil.”

“Isn’t that a little odd? We keep finding answer sheets in the gym lockers and Gil is nowhere to be found.”

“He may be perpetually in absentia but he wouldn’t know what to do with stolen PSAT booklets. I did see a kid with a Mohawk in the girls’ gym when I was oiling my typewriter at the drinking fountain. He had reams of college-bound notebooks. He was headed to Mimi’s office.”

“Joe, that may lead us to something. Can’t hurt to look.”

“On it. Hope Mimi isn’t strangled with a lanyard from a referee’s whistle. Let’s go.”

 

P3 is just absolutely insulting our intelligence. Roger going on a wild goose chase to the Milford Dog Pound and finding out that Doug Funnie already paid the fine to get Porkchop out after Porkchop pee’d in Gil’s coffee at the Fellowship Breakfast at that Coffee Shop in P3 only makes a travesty out of a travesty.

Next thing you know, Roger will be looking in the ol’ swimming hole to see if Doug and Skeeter are in their birthday suits. Oh boy, don’t you just wonder if Roger is going to go through with it and plant those papers in Doug’s shorts?

“Mr. Funnie, why do you have a butt like Freezer Thompson?”

“Oh, gee, Mr. Bone, I’m sorry, I didn’t notice that bulge. I guess my butt had an erection.”

“Well, you march right to the boys room and adjust your pants before pre-algebra class. And don’t let me catch you with a boner in your crack again. We have decorum at this school and I intend to live by it.”

“Sure thing, Mr. Bone.”

 

Sure, stick some Cliff’s Note’s on The Taming of the Shrew up Patti Mayonnaise’s dress when Mr. Bone isn’t looking. Doug is sure to ace the Final on Shakespearean Theory if he doesn’t get caught. But if he does, not only will Mr. Bone make him sit on the bench and watch Phoebe coach the boys team since Gil is in The Bahamas, Doug’ll get suspended. Sound strategy. Use a plunger if the papers fall out.

 

“We’ll be back to see if Eddie Haskell has to go to Sing Sing after plotting crib notes in Beaver’s lunch box after these messages. This is WDIG-TV.”

 

HAIL HAIL ROCK ‘N’ ROLL

Knock!!!!!! Knock!!!!!! Knock!!!!!!

“Yeahhhhh?”

“Honey, it’s 1:00AM. Don’t you think you should come to bed? I’m all lonely and need some good vibrations.”

“Not now, Mrs. Shaw. I’m practicing for my upcoming gig at the Milford Lounge. I’m gonna do Chuck Berry one better. Why, I’ll be duck-walking in this bathtub before you can say ‘Chubby Checker’.”

“Darling, you need to unlock the door, put down the Jazz guitar and come to bed. I know you say it once belonged to John McLaughlin but that’s neither here nor there. Come to beddddyyyy-by, Honey Pie”

TOO MUCH MONKEY BUSINESS TOO MUCH MONKEY BUSINESS FOR MIMI ON THE COURT TO SEE

“My little Monkey, don’t you want to swing on a tree and be like Tarzan and jump on your precious Jane?”

“Woman, I’ll have the barstools rockin’ with Johnny B. Goode until the break of down

DOWN IN LOUISIANA, CLOSE TO NEW ORLEANS-

“Honey, you have no particular place to go when your Jazz guitar is more solid than your wim wim. Right?”

 

“How could I argue? I was goin’ to town but hadn’t reached my destination. But Milford Men’s Clinic changed all that. These new HARDCORE PLUS tablets took all the guesswork out of my Significant Other. Just a couple of tablets and a glass of water and Tarzan was truly King of the Jungle. The giraffes and lions ran off to see their Mama. And Mrs. Shaw was truly satisfied. She made the sweetest cinnamon Danish rolls at breakfast to seal our relationship. Come on down and get some Green Eggs and Ham for your limp garden hose and watch it spray. Only at Milford Men’s Clinic.

 

Gang, you make my world. And I don’t have to look in Mammoth Cave to find you. But Roger will go just about anywhere to exact revenge. I don’t think he’ll go to Antarctica. He wouldn’t stoop that low. Would he?

 

At the Indy 500

“I checked with the pit crew. They haven’t seen him.”

“I told you to look first in the library, dimwit.”

 

3:47PM-Bill and I drove over to the Coffee C Shoppe. We were told that the smugglers went there for cappuccino and doughnuts

“He about drained the Colombian pot dry. Thank God I ordered more Folger’s.”

“Did you see anything suspicious other than that? Did he stick the crib notes anywhere?”

“Yeah, Mr. Gannon, now that you mentioned it, he ordered a 3-piece chicken dinner, all-white, 2 breasts and a wing. He crammed something under the potato wedges. The biscuits were too small.”

“Any idea where he was going?”

“Said he was going to eat lunch at the Milford Trucking Terminal before he went back to work. What he does with crib notes and why he sticks ’em in an 18-wheeler is more than I know.”

“If he hides Chic-Lets in a flatbed, he’s still breaking the law.”

The obligatory zinger said and done, Joe says no more and he and Bill leave. They take their Powerball tickets with them.

 

To be continued

 

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