This Week in Milford

April 20, 2022

Nothing Here Is Really Surprising, Is it?

When son of teenchy was young I, like most parents of young children, read bedtime stories to him. As SoT got older, the bedtime stories got more age-appropriate as well. We went through a phase where we read the books of Kate DiCamillo. Kate DiCamillo has written some outstanding children’s lit, beginning with Because of Winn-Dixie; two of her books won Newberrys (The Tale of Despereaux and Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures.) Kate DiCamillo has a distressing trope of giving her characters peculiar names (e.g., Despereaux Tilling, Edward Tulane, Peter Augustus Duchene, Louisiana Elefante) and referring to those characters only by their full names.

The last DiCamillo book we read was Flora & Ulysses. The title characters are a 10-year-old girl who looks like Terry Gross and a squirrel who becomes possessed of writing ability after being sucked into a vacuum cleaner. One of the supporting character in F&Y was William Spiver, an 11-year-old boy who is only ever referred to by his full name, William Spiver. Never William, or Willie, or Bill, or Billy, but always William Spiver. William Spiver suffers from hysterical blindness due to some never quite specified family trauma. When it comes to names, Wilson Henry is this season’s William Spiver. When it comes to visual acuity, Gregg Hamm is this season’s William Spiver.

More exposition piling on: Hamm has had problems with his eyesight for years, and has never done anything about it. Hamm is also not From Milford, so Milford’s shallow gene pool cannot be blamed for his vision (some other genetic cause or parental neglect) or credited for his talent (as Milford never grows its own).

The solution to Hamm’s problem can be found today in that other, slightly more realistic, sports comic, Tank McNamara.

March 9, 2022

Exile on Thorp St.

Filed under: exposition comics, Steve Luhm's Ghost Mops These Floors — teenchy @ 8:43 am

Gentle readers, I will profess up front (if I haven’t already) that basketball is not my sport. When one is built like a white Kirby Puckett, one tends to avoid situations where height is a benefit. While that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy watching it – especially this time of year – it does mean that I’m not as well versed in the subtelties of the game as I could be.

I say this because yesterday’s comments gave me food for thought. Faithful TWIMer Downpuppy brought up the point that in today’s basketball, assigned position doesn’t matter as much as skill sets.* In that light, Mimi’s agreement to give Junior Birdgirl Hollis Talley some playing time at guard makes some sense. What makes less sense is that Mimi didn’t do that earlier in the season and only at Birdgirl’s prompting. The casual onlooker might think the lunatics are running the asylum.

Contrast Mimi’s approach to Gil’s. Bobby Bittman Pranit Smith is back in the halls of Milford High, but not on the Mudlarks. Is that Trevor Lawrence lookalike Gabe Landau he’s high-fiving? If so, Trevor’s bulked up a good bit since the start of the season. (That, or Pranit Hollywood has shrunk physically as well as psychologically.) Begs the question why Gil needed Gordon Achebe on the team.

Oh, now I get it. Once Kaz caught Pranit checking scores, Gil knew that he was gonna have to kick Pranit off the team eventually. Once Gordon dimed Pranit out, Gil had his opportunity. Like Hollis, Gordo gets to play a dual role: not forward and guard, but muscle and snitch.

*edit: It wasn’t so long ago, during the winter of Our National Disgrace, that Gil had to deal with a lineup with two tall guys, a bunch of short guys, and no one in between. Mimi should have been paying attention.

February 16, 2022

Some Hints Are Bigger Than Others

Could you be bothered to sort out the botched language in yesterday’s strip? Yeah, me neither, except to figure out that the end-of-game long bank shot caused the team Pranit bet on to not cover the spread. So he lost on a bad beat. Bad beats are statistically unlikely, but don’t tell that to self-righteous Tevin there. He needs to stop smoking whatever he’s smoking there and do the math.

Doesn’t it seem like Tevin’s itching to rat Pranit out to Gil and Kaz? Now there’s a strategy: Getting tired of playing sportsball but don’t want to quit voluntarily? Get a teammate kicked off the team for something that violates someone’s moral code. Bonus points if the teammate is a good player. Miss the playdowns; season ends early; and you look like the better person – or at least the morally superior one.

That gambit may actually play out on the girl’s team. Some rando blonde lady we’ve never seen Mimi introduces Cami Ochoa (which one? there are multiples), who she’s promoting from JV to varsity during the season. This doesn’t happen very often at Milford High; the last one I can think of is the scrawny but speedy football receiver Max Ortiz. Too many bodies on the Lady Mudlark bench now? Time to make room for Cami!

But who has to make room for Cami? How about the one player who, with the exception of one game, hasn’t been playing as well as she had last season? The one who tasted hard seltzer at a party last week? Now Zoomie-in-training Hollis can dime Cressa out and get her kicked off the team. Talented but inexperienced Cami is too little, too late; Milford misses the playdowns; and Hollis looks like the better person – or at least the one who upheld an honor code.

What about Cressa? Collateral damage.

January 19, 2022

Pranit, Practicing for His Deposition

If Rubin would spend as much time developing characters and dialogue as he does giving them wacky names and explaining their origins, Gil Thorp might actually be an interesting strip.

Seriously, do any of you gentle readers feel like something’s missing here – something that could be clarified with some punctuation or words in boldface? Does any of this sound like anything a human would actually say? Is the Valley that Milford plays in the Uncanny Valley?

What starts out here reading like a recruiting pitch from Pranit for the Church of the SubGenius turns into some kind of explanation as to how he’s able to bet on sports online despite not being of legal gambling age. The most logical way to read this (at least to me, and that’s not saying much) is that the DraftKings Sportsduke account is Pranit’s, and he just put his older brother’s name on it in an attempt to skirt the law. The fact that the account is tied to a minor’s bank account should have been obvious to anyone at Sportsduke responsible for account creation.

None of this will matter to the mooks who come to break Pranit’s kneecaps when he starts losing money he can’t pay back, either via Sportsduke or by shaving points from Mudlark basketball games. It will come as a surprise to Bob when those mooks come to break his kneecaps as well.

One of the tenets of the Church of the SubGenius is “Slack,” a quality vaguely defined but which is sought to be acquired by its members. I can only vaguely define the reasons for my late post today, but suffice it to say that I have been slack in not getting it posted sooner.

January 1, 2022

And Pranit Was His Name-o!

Welcome back and Happy 2022, TWIMers!

The year and the Milford boys’ basketball season starts off on a high note when Trevor Lawrence Gabe Landau kicks it outside to the one Mudlark who hasn’t been chilly stinking it up from beyond the three-point line, Pranit Smith. Pranit drains the trey, or so we’re told; no onomatopoeic “swish” of confirmation but no onomatopoeic “clang,” “clunk” or “thunk” either.

Cut to the bench where Gil has pulled off his jacket and given it to Kaz to wear for the final seconds, or at least it looks that way. This is the first we’ve seen of Kaz during this game, and maybe he had one on this whole time. Is Gil in shirtsleeves or still in his jacket? Did Pranit drain the color of of Gil’s jacket like he drained the trey? Are we gonna have to figure out the teams and the players from one panel to the next from here on?

meta: It pains me to have to post this, but as I write news comes over the wire of the death today of Deacon Dan Reeves. Bad enough that we’re reeling from the loss of Betty White and Celtics hero Sam Jones yesterday. Deacon Dan got a shout out from yhs in TWIM some time ago.

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.

December 15, 2021

Milford Rocks to the Pranit Rock

Boy, wait until the USAFA gets wind that Hollis Talley dislocated her shoulder returning an awkward high-five from a classmate. Hollis appears to be either a deceased Tennessean, a deceased Texan or a deceased Arkansan.

Now it’s time to hear from our Milford boy protagonist this season. Pranit Smith appears to be either a phone scammer or an online scammer. Like seemingly every other Milfordian (Milfordite?) these days, he’s somehow under the spell of the little machine in his hand. Maybe he’s trying to land a spot in the Top 100 Scammers List. Since the only boys’ sport we see in the winter is basketball (no pesky gymnastics, skating or rugby to distract them), Pranit’s gonna be playing hoops for Gil. Why the Valley no hockey? There’s a Winter Blast with ice skating, and we saw a figure skater a while back, so… oh, wait, never mind. I’ve beaten this dead horse before.

Let’s sit back and see how Pranit’s quest to break the Top 100 in whatever will interfere with his sportsball just enough to keep his team from achieving success. Gil will intercede just in time for Pranit to learn his lesson but not in time for the Mudlarks to make the playdowns. Either way, you know he’s gonna hit the court to this tune.

December 8, 2021

Stumblin’ In

It didn’t take long for VT’s Matt Hasselbeck Jr. to eat his words. Milford draws first blood, but isn’t it kinda chancy (see what I did there?) to have your star tailback returning punts? Oh, what’s that? Maybe he didn’t return the punt and just ran in for the touch on a play from scrimmage? Either way, I hope he ran an extra ten yards through the end zone once he crossed the goal line. Gotta get ready for that Canadian ball, dontchaknow.

On to the next drive and Milford scores on another explosive play, as Tevin goes left while everyone else goes right. Classic misdirection. Pity it’s gonna get called back for holding on the Mudlark that’s got VT #51 tied up. That might be Tommy “Jamón” Serrano, who previously succumbed to Boyd Spiller’s fake juice but hasn’t completely recovered from learning that it was fake. In fact, to the untrained eye (or maybe the eye that was trained half a century ago, give or take) those two look like an electric football Backer figure locked together with an All Purpose figure…

…which would make perfect sense if we revert back to one of our original Gil Thorp tropes: that all of this action is playing out in Marty Moon’s crate in his parents’ basement.

Speaking of Marty, how nice of him to show up to broadcast the Mudlarks’ season finale. How do we know this is the finale? Look at the calendar, and the deus ex machina Rubin’s dropped in our laps. Milford’s gonna drop the Valley title to Goshen – the same Goshen they blew out by 24 not quite two months ago? Doesn’t make any sense unless the Milford loss is the only one Goshen’s suffered all season. If both teams end up tied in conference play, the Mudlarks take the title based on head-to-head. None of that matters when you have a plot to wrap up and you’re you’ve wasted on hooch most of your time on details that didn’t really advance it.

Post title refers to how Goshen will make the playdowns.

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