This Week in Milford

September 14, 2022

More Pronoun Trouble

Football season! Volleyball season!

Here we go again, but it’s not a dispute as to whether sportsball should take precedence over non-sportsball extracurriculars but the modern problem of remembering what pronouns people choose to identify themselves. Today, Toby née Tabatha identifies as he/him, Keri identifies as they/them, and Gil identifies as coach/Coach.

Now why are these three having this little confab at The Bucket of all places? (And why are they having coffee? Don’t they know there’s a cantina in town for that?) Are they here to pick up them after their postgame dinner? Are they serving as their chaperones for said dinner? Is it time for a jangle-off as Mel and Mimi see who can rattle their jewelry the loudest? Winner gets Gil – if she wants him, that is.

The unspoken tension here is so thick you could cut it with a butter knife, not unlike the one Mimi’s twisting into Mel as she deadnames Toby. Clearly she hasn’t forgotten that Mel wanted to be her at one time. Meanwhile Gil, still aware of that history and that Mimi is unhappy in the marriage, tries to play the supportive husband by throwing out a patronizing “sweetie.” Will Mimi have the divorce papers served publicly to Gil right here in The Bucket, the way Jason Sudeikis had Olivia Wilde served with custody papers while she was presenting at CinemaCon?

One thing is clear: despite Mel’s claim, in Milford, nothing is the same as it was.

edit: Oops! I forgot to identify the players from the Dolphins’ No-name Defense I posted this past Saturday!

Front, reclining: Lloyd Mumphord, CB

Front row, left to right: Bob Matheson, LB; Bill Stanfill, DE; Bob Heinz, DT; Manny Fernandez, DT; Vern Den Herder, DE

Center: Nick Buoniconti, LB

Back row, left to right: Dick Anderson, SS; Curtis Johnson, CB; Mike Kolen, LB; Doug Swift, LB; Tim Foley, CB; Jake Scott, FS

September 5, 2022

Was This Concierge Oreintation?

Happy Labor Day, all. I think the holiday dictates that I needn’t give a full effort into dissecting this strip. Given that my full effort usually amounts to something approaching half-assed, we’re practically done here. It’s time for a picnic and contemplation of the efforts of my forefathers to organize themselves and give me the opportunity to develop leisurely pursuits like snarking on comics. Huzzah!

Okay, there are a few things here to talk about. Apparently, Gil’s role in manning the Oreinetation desk was loosely defined, and he was free to wander off and schmooze with parents if it struck his fancy. While Gil catches up with “Mel”, there’s another parent named Karen standing at the desk who needs help with her child’s schedule. Hold your horses, Karen. Someone will be along to help. Maybe Steve Luhm can show you around.

The Melanie/Kyle backstory timeline kind of baffles me. Their marriage fell apart after Kyle met a PA during filming of Robert Eggers’ new movie. So, this is a movie that’s new, meaning out now? Maybe there was a long postproduction period, who knows. Robert Eggers is a real director whose latest film The Northman came out this year. So Barajas is taking liberties a bit, but it does obscure the timeline a bit. It leaves me to question what happens faster, a divorce or the release of a movie.

What we’re mainly left with is that Melissa “Mel” Gordon requests that Gil watch out for Tobias, or is it Toby? I think if you choose a new name for yourself, you might be less inclined to be cool with someone using a diminutive variation. But Moms gotta mom, I guess.

September 3, 2022

Disoreinted

Gentle readers, I’m just an old newspaper comics reader. I fell on some ice and later got thawed out by some of your scientists. Your world frightens and confuses me! Sometimes the comments section of your blogs makes me want to put down my laptop and run off into the hills, or wherever. Sometimes when I look at a strip on GoComics, I wonder: “Did little demons get inside and draw it?” I don’t know! My primitive mind can’t grasp these concepts. But there is one thing I do know – when a new writer takes over a legacy comic strip and infuses it with too many current-day issues all at once, I want to complain and vow never to read that strip again. Thank you.

That’s how I felt, not after reading today’s strip, but after making the mistake of reading the GoComics comments before I posted like I said I’d never do. If I hadn’t, however, I wouldn’t have been able to put together the backstory behind today’s strip. For that we have to go back to a time before TWIM even existed, nearly twenty years ago, during the Jerry Jenkins era.

Melissa was a high school student who became pregnant by her boyfriend Kyle Gordon. Note the blatant product placement.

December 30, 2002

Melissa’s father forbade Kyle from seeing her again. The baby’s future was not in doubt, as least for the moment.

January 4, 2003

Melissa’s parents gave her the boot, and Kyle had no intention of marrying her…

January 13, 2003

… so his parents moved him out of state and forbade him from contacting her. Then the baby’s future came into doubt.

January 16, 2003

Kyle and Melissa concluded that Melissa should do something she had the constitutional right to do at the time.

January 18, 2003

Melissa ultimately decided to keep the baby and not Kyle, and the Thorps welcomed her into their home.

January 27, 2003

Note that the kid sitting next to Melissa is Keri Thorp, who would go into a state of suspended animation until very recently.

Marty got wind of the situation and tried to make a thing of it. Gil nipped it in the bud.

February 5, 2003

Mimi noticed Melissa “craving” Gil’s attention (!) but Gil was oblivious.

February 7, 2003

Turned out Mimi wasn’t wrong.

February 11, 2003

After Melissa concocted a story about Jami getting hurt and getting Gil to chaperon a movie date with three other MHS girls who mysteriously backed out, she got caught in the lie.

February 25, 2003

Melissa tried to play the Fatal Attraction angle…

February 27, 2003

… and then Gil blew a shot at an easy threesome professed his eternal faithfulness to Mimi. Where was Luke Martinez when this went down?

March 1, 2003

The Gil Thorp plot then pivoted to The Brent Raptor Story. I lost the scent after that, so I can’t say for certain that Melissa and Tabatha/Tobias appeared in the strip again until today. Now that she’s Melissa Gordon, can we conclude she and Kyle eventually did marry? Going down the rabbit hole of 2002-03 strips exhausted me. I’m sure someone will have done that legwork before I post again.

There was blowback to Jenkins’ anti-abortion/pro-life stance (e.g., the Chicago Tribune dropped the strip), but I can only imagine it will pale in comparison to the blowback Barajas is going to get after today.

Our minds could race with the possibilities raised by the mere presence of young Tobias in the strip. (Never mind that he should logically be a college freshman by now, with Melissa in her mid-to-late thirties and Keri in her mid-to-late twenties.) Gil’s attempts to get Tobias on the football team would no doubt meet with greater resistance than getting Heather Burns to play tight end. I won’t even dwell on Gil’s lame attempt at hygiene theater, his free-floating mask, or the loving care with which Steve Luhm polished the oreintation desk. Today’s strip has brought out Luann levels of commentary from people apparently as invested in this strip as the Luann trufans are (and if you don’t know anything about them by now, you’re better off not knowing.)

Me, I’m here for the ride. I just don’t know if I can dig through decades of archives every time I post.

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.

June 15, 2022

Steamed Hamms

Reading Gil Thorp takes more than the usual suspension of disbelief (because reasons) and a really long attention span (to deal with all the smash cuts). This spring’s plot has doled out more than its share of each and today just adds to the pile.

First, we learn that Papa Hamm’s weirdness about being seen in public not drawing attention to himself extends to his family. Why, then, did he allow Gregg to play baseball to being with? More importantly, we learn that the weirdness may be a self-imposed “rule” and not a condition of being in the witness protection program. Finally we learn that Mama Hamm cuts up Papa Hamm’s food for him, which kinda damages what little credibility he may already have. (What else could she be doing behind that word balloon, giving CPR to a Cornish hen?) If anyone needs their food cut up for them in la maison du Jambon, it’s Gregg.

Smash cut to the shiny halls of MHS, where we’re supposed to believe Gil just acts on any cockamamie theory one of his players throws out to him. The fact that said player is about as big as Gil wouldn’t have anything to do with that, nosireebob. Only when the prospect of gunplay comes up does Gil spring into action. Thank goodness Rubin hasn’t attempted to write a school shooting plot yet.

Smash cut again to the house of Hamm, where Mama picks up the phone to find Gil on the other end. If Gil’s calling to act on Curtis’ hunch, what does he expect to accomplish? The first rule of the witness protection program is that you never tell anyone you’re in the witness protection program. Is he gonna talk to her about Gregg’s eyesight and all the stops he’s had to pull out to accommodate Gregg on the baseball team? That assumes she and Papa Hamm have had zero clue about his vision problem, which seems highly unlikely since someone had to take him to see the HIPAA-violating eye doc. It also assumes Gregg himself has said nothing to his parents about Gil’s – not to mention his teammates’ – accommodations.

Of course he might have, and they’ve been too busy playing fake fugitives to pay him any attention. Soon we should find out what this whole charade has been about. Most likely Papa thinking he’s more famous for his ghostwriting than he actually is.

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.

April 6, 2022

Next Stop: Donut Town. Population: Two.

That box o’ donuts Heather brought Gil yesterday looked like it came from Donut Town. Wonder if Guy Fieri ever stopped in there? Marjie never brought Gil donuts. She never sat that close to Gil, either. No way they’re not playing footsie or more under the desk. Look at those enormous mitts on Heather; they’re as big as Gil’s. No wonder Gil put her in at tight end.

Aren’t you glad the last couple days of incoherence got settled? Wilson Henry is the catcher. Gregg Hamm is one of the pitchers. As for the rest of Neal’s friends on the Mudlark roster, where have we seen them before?

Gonzalo “Gonzo” Aceves, Dallas George and Curtis Charles return from last season. So, for that matter, do Morton Levi (who was a relief pitcher last season), Eldrick Boston, the aforementioned Wilson Henry and “Blowtop” Chance Macy, who has been around since forever. Go to Canada already! Nomar Ramos played basketball this past season, and Steve Lehto played football. Second base is our midweek cliffhanger.

Zane Clark has graduated. Wonder if he’s still on the library board.

In any event, a veteran roster, one with experience in underachieving. Time to sit back and watch the underachieving unfold. Pass me a donut, willya?

March 26, 2022

Somebody Could’ve Used a Magic Peacock

Admit it, gentle readers: Unless you’re a fan of one of the other remaining teams in the Big Dance, you’re all St. Peter’s fans now. March Madness has its own magic peacocks this year, and they have nothing to do with an imagined reincarnation of a player’s recently deceased sibling. Not the Catholic university in North Jersey anyone would have expected to shine in the tournament, is it? Always great to see a Cinderella in March, and yet another reminder that it’s easier for schools to be competitive in college basketball that they can be in college football.

It’s also something to talk about besides this arc-ender that feels like a mistake. This story feels like it should have ended yesterday, with these two mooks hanging Pranit Smoothie upside down by his ankles in front of a stunned home crowd an emptied-out gym. (A shame Pranit Rock couldn’t have them doing the same to his welchers. It would’ve made more sense than that cockamamie bunch of lies he cooked up.) Betcha Gil wasn’t expecting his hired muscle to flex on his own teammates.

Reading today’s strip give me the feeling that Rubin & Whigham intended yesterday’s strip to be the last in the arc, then realized that they had not only counted the days incorrectly but also forgot to end it with their signature touches:

Lame joke? Check!

Main character exiting through doorway? Check!

Awkward high-five/fist bump? Check!

Jazz hands? Check!

Hey, did anybody notice they’re playing baseball again? With more wacky rules to make the game more attractive to the attention-span challenged? Wonder how Rubin will approach the season. Another spunky, talented out-of-towner moves to Milford and joins the Mudlarks? The team rallies around a stuffed animal or some other superstitious good luck charm? A slight infraction leads to the benching of a star player until the last game of the season, when nothing’s on the line? What’s the over/under on any of these happening?

See you Monday to find out where it all starts. Until then, go Peacocks!

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