This Week in Milford

November 27, 2019

Hasn’t There Already Been an Investigation?

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Excuse me but haven’t Marjie, the superintendent and Captain Man Bun already investigated Ballardgate?  What’s left to investigate?  How about some of the details in today’s strip?

P1: How much squirming must it take to get your forearm in front of you to facepalm at that angle?  Careful Chet, you’ll poke your eye out.

P2: We’re on to the third day in a row where people are just reading Marjie’s article aloud to other people.  I can see why Gil looks a little pissy, especially since Mimi’s leaning over him to point at what she’s reading.  (Bet she’s one of those people whose lips move when they read to themselves.)  It’s enough to distract him from his carbo loading. Must have a heavy day of lifting with Kaz on the agenda.

P3 triggered a lot of childhood memories for me, as I remember fondly the day my father bought me a Howard Elston catcher’s mitt. Superintendent Elston looks like a lot of recycled art pasted together: Lee Corso’s head with Paulie Walnuts’ hair spliced atop a  torso Walt “No Neck” Williams style, an odd suit jacket with contrasting lapels and a pocket square but no necktie, and topped off with Whigham’s signature gesticulating hand.  He gets the “immediate” part of the investigation; not so sure about the “thorough” though, as he sends his female charge off with no real direction.

That’s all I have to say about that.  Tip of the hat to Rubin for reminding me of the first black Yankee and the man who had the unfortunate task of having to fill Yogi Berra’s shoes.

 

November 23, 2019

“And Now We Pause for Station Indentification. This Is the Milford Mudlark Radio Network.”

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“I would never do something so unprofessional… Oh? Okay, so maybe I did something so unprofessional, but somebody had to think of the children!”  It’s all I can do to keep myself from making a political reference in today’s post. Chet’s denial of wrongdoing immediately followed with an admission of wrongdoing and an attempt to make it about something other than his own self-interest would serve him well in an executive branch position.

Speaking of the executive branch, looks like Marjie’s on the horn to LBJ who may or may not be giving her his pants order. Can’t be Chance Macy’s grandpa, can it? He had more pronounced male pattern baldness last time we saw him. But who else would be saying Chance would be “prepared” for whatever come next? And who’s this “us” Marjie’s referring to? Did she give Superintendent Whatshisname and Captain Man Bun a day to look into this? Just how is Chance getting “prepared”? Does it involve a whetstone?

Now let’s wrap this thing up before Christmas and move on to hoops. Milford’s lost two in the conference so playdowns are out of the picture; we’ve got enough time for a face-saving victory over Valley Tech as Chet Ballard slinks off the school board, out of his marriage, and under the desk at his office. Maybe we can revisit him a couple of years from now, after he’s sent to jail for insurance fraud. The way he sings, he’ll make a great canary.

November 20, 2019

Carol Forsman Is Deep Throat!

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I can understand why Carol Forsman wanted Marjie to meet her at home; she has a history of getting injured in bars.* Also she probably didn’t want to run into Chet Ballard while she was diming on him.

Normally I bristle at exposition strips, but I’m kinda thankful that we didn’t have to see Carol connect all the dots Marjie gave her. The quicker we wrap this stinker of an arc up the better. It’ll be amusing in that schadenfreude way to hear Chet blubber about how he did it all just to hear Charlie call him “Dad” at the custody hearing. He’ll lose his position on the school board and his marriage but hey, he’ll still have that insurance business. As long as he keeps his nose out of Mudlark athletes’ home lives all will be well. Only Gil Thorp and his posse can do that.

Know what else might need a little investigation? How Carol got Steve Luhm to come over to her house and polish those floors. Membership has its privileges.

Oh, I guess there’s that matter of where and what happened to “Blowtop” Chance Macy’s parents. Would it really be so hard to portray some Milford parents as caring and supportive of their children, rather than manipulative, drug-dependent, or living vicariously through them – that is, when they’re present at all? It couldn’t be much harder than showing sports coaches actually, you know, coaching their players.

 

 

*The real-life Carol Forsman has dealt with her share of tragedy, and that’s all I have to say about that. Then again, this could be the Carol Forsman who was married to Rodney Benson which, given Rubin’s proximity to Ann Arbor, is more likely the case.

November 13, 2019

You’ve Got a Friend in Thorpsylvania

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Having enlisted Niah Peters (who has a Twitter feed if nothing else) to join Gil’s little Clue Club, Marjie Ducey now seeks to expand its ranks by having Niah dime on Chet Ballard’s “friend” on the school board. Presumably that’s the aforementioned Carol, who really hasn’t acted very friendly toward Chet. I guess offering advice to mind his own business instead of immediately ratting him out to the rest of the school board qualifies as friendship in the high-stakes world of school administration.

Having freed himself of the burden of confronting anyone directly, Gil can finally turn attention back to his day job… coaching sportsball. Gil’s been spending so much time sleuthing that he’s forgotten about preparing his amazingly one-loss Mudlarks for their upcoming tilt against Jefferson. That lack of preparation should lead to a blowout loss at the hands of the Jeffs, which will serve Gil twofold:

  1. The loss will eliminate Milford from the playdowns, keeping Gil from having to prep for football and basketball concurrently;
  2. With the game out of reach, he can give Charlie Roh plenty of touches in garbage time, then wait to overhear more of Ballard’s self-incriminating postgame babble to his stepson.

Join us tomorrow for another episode of Gil Thorp Mysteries. Maybe Gil will have recruited a wisecracking ghost and an anthropomorphic animal or two into his posse by then.

November 11, 2019

The Education Beat

Filed under: Marjie Ducey, Substandard Sherlocks, Walking and Talking — nedryerson @ 6:34 am

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Last week, Gil shared his suspicions about Chet Ballard with Marjie Ducey. He was just “curious” if it was Chet who called the Milford Star with an anonymous tip about Chance Macy’s record of misbehavior in school.

Now it looks like Marjie is picking up the ball and running with it. There might be a story here! So she’s conferring with a new character, Niah. She’s an education writer at The Star.

What? I’m gonna have to let that sink in. There’s an “education writer” at The Star? Does Niah cover the school board? Has she ever covered any of the other weird goings on in the school system, like reality shows filming at Milford High or assorted school board blowhards getting smacked down by Coach Thorp? Given the idiocy that has gone on in Milford, I’m going to assume that up until this point, the press has not served as a bulwark against unethical practices in the school system. So I’m going to assume that the Star’s education beat probably just involves putting bus schedules and cafeteria menus in print. Which means Marjie might be on her own in developing solid sources.

Maybe Niah will prove me wrong. If she truly has a nose for a story like this, she might just snatch it away from Marjie and run with it in the hopes of raising her profile and getting out of Tank Town. Or maybe we could have a chick fight to lift us out of the doldrums.

November 9, 2019

“*69” or “Marjie Got Her Crank Yanked”

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Poor Marjie. Got a voicemail from a mysterious caller and can’t figure out who it was. If only there was some kind of technology that would allow someone to see who called them… technology that existed oh, say, a quarter of a century ago.

Really, does anyone think Chet has the wherewithal to use caller ID spoofing? He doesn’t even have the self-awareness to not blurt out broad hints that he knows Chance’s backstory within earshot of anyone who could make those hints have consequences.

Give Marjie some credit, though: she knew Gil thought Chet was the prank caller without him ever saying so. (Oh, wait, that’s called exposition.) As for Gil’s curiosity, nothing a little trip to the weight room showers faculty lounge wouldn’t fix. Time to put ol’ beardo Ballard on the defensive and start him on down the path off the school board and into the family doghouse.

Today’s post has an alternate title in homage to Rocky and Bullwinkle.

March 27, 2019

“And we care because?” could be this blog’s motto

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Well, that explains everything, doesn’t it?  The big “RIN” in the sign behind Andre’s head yesterday was short for “RINK,” which Milford has one of, apparently.  (Of course it does. How else could kids practice for skating at the Winter Blast in Central City? And why hasn’t ice hockey ever been a thing in Milford?)  Andre watched his little sister – odd hand gesture meant to signify “little” – skate and saw a group of synchronized skaters perform*. On his way home he got his cheek pierced and had that shark tooth he found at the beach on summer vacation mounted on a stud.

Oh, yeah, one of the synchronized skaters is also one of Mimi’s softball players.  Heaven forbid she prioritize something else over Milford High sportsball!  Prepare for multiple strips shaming poor Molly Hatchet off the ice and onto the diamond.

*I’m sorry, but every time I read “synchronized skating” I thought “synchronized swimming” and could only picture Harry Shearer and Martin Short in that old SNL skit.  Skate away, that’s all.

January 2, 2019

Once Again, We Are Confronted With (Select Random Milford Student On The Screen) And His/Her (Select One: Ghosts, Shaky Past, Generic Problems) That Will Supplant (Select One: Football, Basketball, Baseball, Golf or Hockey or Track, Depending On How The Plot Shakes Out For The Latter Three).

 

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Gang, looks like we have set aside Snoopy battling the Red Baron in the name of warding off the Commies from billboard vandalism and now we’re plopped in a sudden jerk of direction for the, you guessed it, the soap opera version of the strip. If you can imagine “Days of our Lives” in the middle of “The Sporting News”, you have a firm grasp on the situation at hand.

And to put it in perspective, try imagining Ralph Kramden stepping into Gil’s domain, as long as we’re going to sidestep Dr. Pearl because evidently she spends more time down at the Milford Bingo Parlor rather than running a high school, and talking about Norton’s academic woes causing his bowling average to nosedive. Just try, I know you can do it.

“Gil, you and I have been buddies a long time and I remember when you were cleaning out the tail pipes of the Milford Shuttle Lines and mopping up the bathroom floor and usin’ the toilet plunger to shove a lotta doo-doo through the lines so this should come as no shock.

Norton is flunkin’ Algebra I, just seems to have problems figurin’ out the difference between Addition Property of Equality and Denying The Antecedent and he’s also barely passin’ English Composition III. For some reason, he keeps dangling modifiers and writin’ run-on sentences when he’s doin’ his book report on Ivan Turganev’s “A Sportsman’s Notebook”. And cripes, don’t get me started on U.S. Geography. He still thinks Hawaii is a U.S. possession. I hope to God he don’t answer that we annexed the Yukon Territory or he’s gonna flunk his Finals. He’ll never pick up that spare if he keeps insisting that Puerto Rico has a team in the NBA. It ain’t a state yet, pal.”

“I’ll talk with him. He had to have been the culprit who put the message on that billboard by the truck stop “Mediocrity and Stuckey’s are not alike in fact try the new 10-pound Tenderloin sandwich only $599.”

I suppose it’s better than James Brown’s sister being one of the rest of Milford’s 4,567 teachers who down through the years realize it is a waste of time to travel the pipeline to Principal Ek or Dr. Pearl when there’s a convenient detour leading to Gil’s office. In fact, when you hit the front door ( you didn’t notice the flagman with his “Slow” sign?) , you should see the sign that says “Hallway will be closed from 1958 to the present” due to construction on a better plot. Gang, I’d use an alternate route if it were me, even if I had to go to Luhm’s office which, when you think about it, has become a conduit leading to Gil.

So now we are left to slog through the plot just after a couple of days before we witnessed some Jordanesque moves. I guess we really can’t expect the 4,568 teachers to follow suit, not even perform the layup drills just to humor us, so kick back for some more J.R. Ewing and like it. Maybe after we slam down the antenna down on the boob tube a few times, we MIGHT return to basketball. Jerry Pulver ripping down another rebound without having to worry about seeing the Trinity River in the opening of “Dallas? It could happen.

 

Belated shout-out to Courtney Cooper of Louisville, Kentucky, who, though confined to a wheelchair, was out shopping at Wal-Mart and, boy, did she get her money’s worth. 4 bags and a mini-bag testified to her will to get out and about. Like Dan Fogelberg, her choices were clear and she chose to get busy livin’. Her friend, Angela Flanagan was there to guide her along and she is living herself. Angela is making this life worthwhile through her quiet strength, will, and determination. Both Courtney and Angela represent America through their nuts and bolts approach and IT WORKS. Treat them with respect PLEASE.

 

 

“So the badger says to the mushroom, ‘I can go down the hole faster than you can say ‘Hank Finkel’, morel.’

‘Big friggin’ deal’, replied the mushroom, ‘We run the Mushroom Marriott Suites at the tectonic level, rates starting at $57.99 and up, and we also serve Cheerios and Fruit Loops for breakfast while the Milford Holiday Inn doesn’t even serve Cocoa Puffs. I didn’t see you bring your Samsonite!!!!!!!!'”

The Milford Comedy Club ran out of onion rings and are forced to fix up a batch of bagels and lox.

 

“…a zebra from Madagascar???????”

 

If yore pickup has more giddy-up and stop than a dangling modifier cuz yore transmission don’t even run on a sentence, let alone a bottle of Dasani and ya bypass AAMCO ta have Merle and Geech have a look at it, ya might be a redneck.

 

 

CANTCOACHCANTCOACHCANTCOACHCANTCOACHCANTCOACHCANTCOACHCANTCOACHCANTCOACH

GOLF COURSE GOLF COURSE

ERNIE AND HIS PARRRRRROOOOOOOOOTTTTTTTTTTTTT

 

“Dag nab it, Kaz, didn’t I tell you to keep Moon out? If he sees our basketball players going down holes, we’ve got a lot of explaining to do. I wanted to keep this aerobics class a secret to motivate my players without attracting a lot of publicity.”

“Gil, I tried but he snuck through the vents. He used one of the holes to climb up the chute. I caught his camera just about when the team was aerobicizing to

FILION’S DEMMMMMMMMMOOOOOONNNNNSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

 

And while I’m enjoying Mrs. Living in America express her concerns over Filion’s funk, I wouldn’t put it past Thorpiverse to turn this basketball plot into “Invasion of The Body Snatchers.”

“Gil, he used to be able to dunk with two hands but now he can’t even thrown down on a Nerfhoop. Something’s different about him.”

Think about it. Thorpiverse desperate for ratings, attempts a new twist to the plot in the name of bringing back part of the audience who switched over to Roscoe Sweeney. There’s more of a chance of him and Buzz Sawyer playing one-on-one basketball in Sawyer’s driveway than perhaps the next few panels of this strip. I thought I’d never say that but as Dylan said, the times are definitely changin’. So the next thing you know, a pod appears beside Gil’s bed and essentially strangulates Gil and he becomes like Filion and the body-snatching of Milford is complete. Everybody’s got that monotone personality and they screech like an owl when they confront someone who is still human.

Now what do you do?

Invent some antidote, pick up the prescription at Milford Pharmacy, revive the players and incite them to go on to kick some A in the Playdowns and eventually bag another State Championship trophy. Hey, there was an antidote in Snow White. Maybe leave a couple of stragglers, say, Tiki, i.e., keep his pod by his bed, let him be an outcast for a few months and repeat the process in baseball. Instant plot renewal. You can retrieve the fan base once again and still win. In the bag.

 

Gang, remember when the episode on “Happy Days” where Richie Cunningham is trying to get Clarabelle the Clown’s face without his makeup? Like the group Kiss, their makeup was their persona and raison d’etre.

That said, Richie contrives a plot where he’s going to enter the Howdy Doody look-Alike Contest and by getting close enough to the action by being on the premises where he cango behind the scenes, he reasons that he has an excellent chance of photographing Clarabelle without his facade.

Of course, he has to get past the contest per se and the idea of Richie’s standing next to 3 8-year-old boys, all in their Howdy outfits is hilarious when you imagine the discrepancy. Cowboy Bob walks by each contestant to register the amount of applause each contestant gets and when he gets to Richie, the audience understandably applauds with a great amount of incredulity but nowhere near the level of the other three boys.

Still, winning the contest was not the intention, sorta like a Milford Baseball player on some Little League team in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, the team going on to win the World Championship. I’m sure he’d be uncomfortable posing with them, sorta like posing with the Rockettes. Anyway, Richie gets consoled by Cowboy Bob backstage which Richie takes in stride, really, what choice does he have? Especially when Cowboy Bob STILL appears to be oblivious to Richie’s intentions (“Kaz, why is Richie the C taking that basketball rack full of basketballs out to his station wagon?”) .

Suddenly, Richie spots his window of opportunity. Clarabelle the Clown has his makeup COMPLETELY OFF which gets Richie to grab his camera and get a bulls-eye shoot. He runs out of the studio with his prize possession.

In the next scene, Richie is with his parents, bragging about how Life Magazine had been unsuccessfully banging at the door to get his unmasked mug before the world. Richie is in hog heaven when he hears the doorbell ring. it’s Cowboy Bob and Clarabelle the Clown, the latter back in his makeup. And after the intros, Cowboy Bob tugs at Richie’s heart by explaining that if Clarabelle the Clown was ever unmasked, it would be the end of him, like The Joker revealing to the world that Batman is really Bruce Wayne. Richie swallows hard but decides in the end, perhaps wisely enough, to tear up the photograph. Tears of joy come out of Clarabelle the Clown  as Cowboy Bob observes (“All over the living room floor”-Mrs. Cunningham) .

Before we go any further, nobody questioned Richie’s motives when he was clearly a head above the competition? I mean, If Kareem were to enter the same contest and stand next to the same three boys, I’d be wondering what a guy 4 feet taller than the other guys in the room has up[his sleeve. The TV producer or the key grip or the #2 cameraman or even Cowboy Bob just lets Kareem participate anyway?

And where’s he going to put the Howdy trophy if he wins? In the trophy case next to his 1971 MVP Trophy? He’ll tell his grandkids that he slam-dunked Dennis the Menace because Dennis had blond hair and Howdy Doody had a thing for his afro? Cowboy Bob had considered converting to Islam and changing his moniker to Cowboy Shareef Abdul-Aziz?

Then there’s the camera. If a 7-footer with a Polaroid carries it past security and stashes it in the guest locker next to Clarabelle the Clown, knowing the latter is high risk, somebody at WDIG Studios where they hold the show oughta fire the Pinkertons.

“Well, Kareem, I knew you had it in ya. Congratulations!!!!!!!!!”

“Thanks. I was a little worried because Tommy Heinsohn did a nice job with that Revlon painting freckles on himself. But I was confident.”

“And well you should. And that Hank Finkel had no chance. Those Dingo Boots and that Arrow shirt just didn’t cut it. And he got tangled up in his own Howdy strings trying to get a drink of water. You were most definitely a cut above.”

“Thanks, Cowboy Bob.” They shake hands and part ways.

Kareem sees the kill. Headin’ to the locker and

FFFLLLLLLLLLLLLAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

 

At the L.A. Forum one day

“…Kareem, it’d be like Freddy Krueger chopping of your right arm with an axe so you couldn’t shoot the Sky Hook…”

Today’s headline in the Milford Enquirer

“O.J. Places 3rd In The Howdy Doody Look-Alike Contest!!!!!!!!!!!!”

sub headline

“Luhm’s grandsons finish 1-2 in day-long event; Marty Moon disqualified due to goatee.”

 

Gang, have at it. Nothing like Kaz to weigh in when he has nothing better to do than add to the Body Snatcher discussion when he’s not Rent-A-Teacher. Really, Gil could have asked the other 4,566 teachers at Milford High about that pod in Filion’s locker but might have been repelled by Spicoli’s reefer odors in the adjoining locker. So when you’re worried that Filion turns into a zombie, just bail out and go to Kaz and pump some information.

“Kaz, I heard rumors that Filion ate one of the cafeteria ladies.”

“New one on me, Gil. I did notice him snortin’ with Spicoli out in his van but everybody reported for work in the cafeteria.”

 

Finally, I noticed that the world’s (reportedly) oldest human at 120-something was really a sham, her 99-year-old daughter evidently picking up the slack. You can understand my decision to stay neutral in this one.

“No, I saw her down at The Bucket sitting in the Senior Citizen’s Section, chowin’ down on a Bucket Liver Cheeseburger that she got with her Bucket Senior Discount, 15% off one of those babies. I know because I remember she couldn’t drink Mudlar-K-Cola Cherry Burst because the cherry formula would leave permanent stains on her dentures. Had to resort to milk.”

 

Today’s headline in the Milford Enquirer

“Milford Historical Society Doubts Authenticity Of Gil’s Having Had Lunch At The Bucket With Chester A. Arthur.”

sub headline

“Documents confirm that The Bucket was established during Cleveland’s 2nd term; sources also point out that Dr. Pearl was a 9-year-old attending Milford Normal School.”

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