In which I apologize for not opening up more


I’d like to share my thoughts with you, but a lot of those thoughts are a continuous-play loop of the theme song to forgotten Hanna-Barbera cartoon The Cattanooga Cats, so you probably don’t want that. I’m sorry.

What’s Going On In Gil Thorp? Did Chet Ballard get his comeuppance yet? October 2019 – January 2020


If you’re reading this after about April 2020 there’s probably a more current plot recap for Neal Rubin and Rod Whigham’s Gil Thorp at this link. If you’re reading this in about January 2020, please carry on.

Gil Thorp.

21 October 2019 – 12 January 2020.

The standings at the end of last quarter, back in football season. Chet Ballard doesn’t see why his stepson Charlie Roh isn’t getting more play time. He’s also overheard Chance Macy, who is getting more play time, talk with his grandparents about whether he’s “blowtop mad”. He wants to know what the heck that means, but heck if my essay helped him much. It means uncontrollably mad, the kind of mad that makes you a danger. And why it is Coach Gil Thorp favors the guy who doesn’t fumble so much. Luckily, though, Chet Ballard is also head of the Milford school board, so he can look up Chance Macy’s Permanent Record.

Macy’s Permanent Record reveals a lot of behavior issues, and time at a “special school for problem kids”. Ballard’s wife points out, how is this his business again? Carol Other School Board Person points out there are privacy laws in this state. Ballard agrees to give it a rest. By “a rest” he means “a call to Milford Local Newspaper reporter Marjie Ducey”. Ducey doesn’t see where Macy’s history belongs in the newspaper. Local Newspaper hasn’t carried Gil Thorp since that Left Behind guy stopped writing it. But she wonders about the strange voice mail.

Gil Thorp: 'Legally, I probably shouldn't be telling you all this, so don't turn me in. Poor Chance said, 'I'm sorry I'm a bad teammate, but who'd want to hurt me?'' Mimi Thorp: 'That sad, sweet child.' Gil: 'And the fact is, he's a great teammate. But he doesn't believe it.'
Neal Rubin and Rod Whigham’s Gil Thorp for the 2nd of November, 2019. I choose to believe Neal Rubin is making a wry and self-aware comment in a story that’s built entirely on professionals disregarding a student’s privacy.

Thorp goes to Macy’s home to share what he knows about this leak. Macy takes the news well, but worries about who would want to harass him like this. At the game against Madison, Macy steps aside with an ankle injury, giving Charlie Roh a touchdown. Gil Thorp overheard Ballard saying “all the yards, none of the baggage”, and has his idea who called in the Chance Macy story. Marjie Ducey and Education reporter Niah Peters try to figure out who made the call, but there’s few good leads to follow.

So Chet Ballard, needing to do something dumb, goes to the dumb expert, sports radio broadcaster Marty Moon. He shares his concerns about “irregularities” with one of Thorp’s players. While he does this, Marjie Ducey visits Carol Other School Board Person and learns her last name is Forsman. Also that Chet Ballard was telling people about Chance Macy’s Permanent Record. The reporters ask Superintendent Howard Elston to check this out. The Superintendant asks the IT guy to check if Ballard accessed Chance Macy’s records. The IT guy points out Ballard didn’t delete his browser history and there you are.

To Ducey, Ballard declares that he didn’t do it, and besides he had to do it. So the story comes out: a Milford school board member inappropriately accessed a Permanent Record. And left a weird throaty voice message at the paper. And this anonymized version is the hit scandal of the season. Superintendent Elston is not amused by any of this, especially when he works out that Ballard wanted his stepson more play time. Roh figures out that the unnamed board member was his stepfather. Marty Moon figures out that Ballard’s “concerns” were concern-trolling. And when Marty Moon sees through your scheme, you’re through. Ballard resigns from the school board.

Mrs Roh-Ballard: 'Next time I tell you not to do something stupid, you're going to listen. Right? Good. And you're going to apologize to Chance Macy *and* your stepson.' Chet Ballard: 'But I was only trying to --- ' Mrs Roe-Ballard: 'Catch up, pal. No one cares.'
Neal Rubin and Rod Whigham’s Gil Thorp for the 2nd of December, 2019. Ballard does listen, and apologizes to the people he’s hurt with his selfishness. So this puts a Gil Thorp character one up on four real-life people I had counted as close friends for twenty years.

Roh apologizes to Macy. And Macy accepts, because he knew nobody in high school could care about the school board. Roh offers to treat him to a celebration of the season at local teen hangout The Bucket. (This on Ballard’s credit card, which he really had no choice but to lend.) Macy points out he’s not good with loud and packed places. Roh suggests, you know, a quiet celebration at Ricozzi’s. So all ends well enough, except for Chet Ballard.


The new and current story started the 9th of December, with the trials of Alexa Watson. She had a perfectly good name when she was born seventeen(?) years ago. Now it’s a menace. She’d use her middle name except that’s “Siri”. And her mother’s maiden name is “OK Google” so she’s got nowhere to go.

Chris: 'Yeah, Teddy Demarco is a pain, but why add to his problems?' Friend: 'That's a very mature attitude, Chris.' Other friend: 'But I'd still stuff him in a trash can.' [ On the court, conversely ] Thorp: 'One good thing we've seen is more aggression from Chris Schuring.'
Neal Rubin and Rod Whigham’s Gil Thorp for the 20th of December, 2019. Also, like, Teddy’s harassment this time was pointing out how Chris could have averaged four points per game, like he did last season, without even showing up. So Chris probably realizes that Teddy will spend his adult life realizing he was a fantastically incompetent school bully.

Anyway, she has a sympathetic friend, Phoebe Keener, who’s outgrown that unicorn and joined the girls basketball team. Phoebe’s rebuffing the greetings of Chris Schuring, her rival for valedictorian. Schuring, a slight member of the boys basketball team, gets mocked by Teddy Demarco and his friends, but won’t take that bait. Instead he puts it all into being aggressive enough on the basketball court that Coach Thorp notices. He misses a last-second shot against Springfield, but it’s close. In parallel, Watson is playing well but not quite well enough. So both Thorps have been thinking about how to coach their players.

And that’s where the story is: Schuring and Keener are academic rivals. She takes it more seriously than he does. Demarco is mocking Schuring. Schuring’s putting his response into his practice games instead. And Alexa Watson sometimes goes half a day without getting a joke about her names. How will all this tie together? Too soon to say. Come back around April, most likely, and we’ll have a better idea.

Milford Schools Watch

Of course, Milford is not anywhere; it is every high school, everywhere, except that they say “playdowns” there. But we do know there are other schools around it. Here’s the ones that have recently been named, usually in the course of competition:

Next Week!

How much of everything has happened in Francesco Marciuliano and Mike Manley’s Judge Parker since October? I’ll try and reveal how much next week. And if you’re just interested in comic strips mentioning mathematical topics, please try my other blog even this week. Thanks for reading.

How Am I Adapting To Life In The Midwest?


Well, the other day, I saw one person stepping backwards to where he almost bumped into another person, and I, a party not involved with this at all, reflexively said “sorry” to nobody in particular, so, apparently quite well then?

And Then The Worst Part


Sure, according to the clear directions of my dream, it was going to be one of those frustrating days where I duck into the used-book-store for a morning coffee and the chance to smell decomposing paperbacks. And just stepping in I’d see that now it was 7 am, like an hour earlier than it could possibly be and that I’d already be late for work, and every minute that I spend there I’m a half-hour later although every clock moves backwards three minutes, the way you’d expect. Well, before you know it, I’m up on the roof of the old church, balancing everything I have just barely as I sit down to some serious writing. And then there’s a bunch of crows on the next roof glaring at me. Plus there’s this ostrich who keeps projecting her head out from the building and through the cupola windows to come just close enough that I think she’s going to snap at my hand. But the worst part is that in the dream I was putting on paper exactly the letter needed to reconnect with that estranged friend. And when I woke up I couldn’t think of a single word I had written. But at least I had it right for a little bit.

Statistics Saturday: How Long The Podcast Is When The Hosts Apologize For Running Crazy Long


Episode Time
4 21 minutes
12 32 minutes
14 10 minutes because the episode’s an apology about not having put up a new episode in two months now.
18 51 minutes
25 135 minutes but because “this one’s for the fans”.
28 100 minutes
31 Episode 32
33 6 minutes, because the whole show is an extended apology about how their recording schedule’s really been disrupted because of all this life happening and they’re looking forward to getting back into the swing of things and have some great stuff for new episodes soon.
34 177 minutes
36 Is never published; hosts eventually apologize that something deleted the file and they’re really bummed about this but they’ll record episode 37 someday, which they still say they’ll do if you prod them on Twitter.

Source: The Popeye Story, Bridget Terry.

Statistics Saturday: The State Of Apologies


Admittedly the results are thrown a little off by going down to the farmers market on a Thursday afternoon and leaving my cart off to the side by the health-food clones of normal breakfast cereals and then having people apologize for being in my way when I backed it up from them. Also from people apologizing for getting bags of coffee beans while I was looking over flavors of coffee beans. Also for being in the same aisle while I was looking for one particular brand of barbecue sauce that wasn’t there.

Also they do amazing things with “Golden Grahams, only kind of healthy” these days, but it’s going to be hard to win me over from Grape-Nuts brand cereals where if you mix exactly the right amount of milk in it’s like you’re chewing down on concrete. There’s nothing better. I’m not being snarky here. I don’t understand why you wouldn’t eat cereal like that if you could.

Given By People Who Didn't Bother Me In The Slightest, 45%. Not Given By People Who Did Offend Me 50%. Companies Expressing Their Shame For The Whole Situation By Crediting Our Account Like $6.33, 5%.
I’m not bitter. Why are you saying I’m bitter? I better hear some apologies for calling me bitter, but I know I won’t, because of next week’s statistics piece, My Acts Of Passive Aggression.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index skidded down nine points as traders discovered it had rained overnight and there were all these wet leaves on the sidewalk, and where are they even from? All the leaves left over from autumn were blown away in the windstorm last month, we thought. That’s suspicious.

123

An Apology In My Dreams


So to the seagull in my dream who was trying to apologize by delivering a fully functional rocket to my backyard: I appreciate the gesture. It’s a most impressive gift. And I do appreciate the work gone in to getting a Saturn I — not a V, not even the more hip I-B but an actual Saturn I as used in flight testing and development from 1961 through 1965. It’s a true connoisseur’s choice of rocket vehicle. Nevertheless, while I’ll accept presents as tokens of reconciliation they are not, by themselves, reconciliation. It is harder to deliver a simple “I’m sorry” from your own beak, but it would mean something that no present ever could, and I promise to accept it with as much grace as possible given our history. And I do thank you for the gesture.

Still, on another level, I can’t see any way to launch the blasted thing from my backyard, what with how the goldfish pond isn’t nearly deep enough a water trench for the necessary sound suppression. Not to mention not being deep enough for the goldfish to come out well afterwards. Plus who’s got a launch gantry in mid-Michigan anyway? I’ve got too much stuff just hanging around to show to accept something that hasn’t got practical use.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

Traders showed a sharp loss of confidence today when they learned that contestants on The Price Is Right are not drawn randomly from the audience but are instead screened while entering to see if they’d probably look good on camera and have a bunch of people cheering specifically for them.

128

In Which I Apologize For What I Suggested About The Michigan DMV


My love took exception to something I published yesterday. That was the suggestion that Michigan was quirky in calling its Department of Motor Vehicles offices “Secretary of State Offices”. I want to reiterate that I don’t mind Michigan having a quirky name for an office like this. I’m glad they have. My love argues, correctly, that licensing motor vehicles is a function of the Michigan Department of State. And that’s fine. I answered that the name “Secretary of State Office” is quirky, because it implies that people could conduct other, non-motor-vehicle, Department of State business there. You know, like … um … certifying official copies of bilateral income tax reciprocity agreements to be accurate and true, or peering at the Great Seal of Michigan. And we can’t do that, as far as we know. (We never asked them.) Then my love asked if, back in New Jersey, the Motor Vehicle Commission regulates boats. I think it does but I don’t really know. So overall you see why everyone says we’re just the most adorable couple. Anyway I don’t want to suggest that it’s a wrong or bad name. Just that I think it implies a broader scope for work that can be done there than they mean. Maybe. Remind me next year to see if I can do something about notary public registration at the Secretary of State’s.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index rose a little bit as the proper amount of baking powder was mixed in, without being over-mixed, and it was left to sit before baking. The result is not bad, although kind of flavorless, in that recipe-for-seventh-grade-home-economics-classes-in-1985 way. Mmmmmm. Smells like a B+.

118

An Open Apology To Tina Fay


I do not know just how matters came to this, but the note from the Dream World is clear enough. Apparently over the course of nearly twelve years now I have been — and I want to emphasize that I did not realize this at the time — annoying her beyond the power of words to express. It seems that every single time that she tries doing some bold and showy performance in an elaborate and often sequin-bedazzled costume, she’ll have cause to touch my shoulders or something, and somehow I manage to have her costume gloves come off her hands and rest on me every single time. It may not always be gloves, it might be a scarf or bandana or some other piece of costume that comes off easily, but whatever it is, I’m just a jinx. And of course the staging of these sorts of things can’t be done to just avoid me, so I just make her performing life harder by adding a costume glitch to it.

Anyway, I am sorry. I don’t know what I’m doing that encourages it; I don’t mean to do it; I just hope that maybe we can find some safety pins or something while the show is on.