CSotD – Merry Monday

Reply All (WPWG) speaks for me, though even in a virus-free world, I wouldn’t have to go through all that. It’s one of the chief benefits of retirement.

I knew I had settled into my middle-management niche when I grasped the proper way to handle the holiday party: Show up, get one drink, eat some hors d’ouevres, greet your boss, greet the publisher, check in with a few more people and be seen, then get the hell out before people start doing and saying things they’ll regret.

We had a Christmas party for years until my assistant, a young Israeli-American, asked that we call it a “holiday party.” She’d been dubious about attending, being put off by all the festivities around a holiday she didn’t celebrate, but I told her she should go because the annual party was where you found out who had been sleeping with whom.

She was wide-eyed the Monday after: “Wow! You weren’t kidding!”

No, I wasn’t. I also wasn’t there for more than about 45 minutes.

Speaking of not being around long, I seemed to have a talent for hiring people who would outgrow the job, which is how you get the best people. She left to work at a rape crisis center where she’d been volunteering, and then went back to school to get an MA and a Phd and is now an assistant professor and trauma counselor at a major university medical center.

After she quit, they changed back to calling it a Christmas party.


Juxtaposition of the Purely Personal

(Lio – AMS)


(Brewster Rockit – Tribune)

I like Lio’s idea, though not because of the Have-a-Heart aspect. It doesn’t take long — in forest terms — to grow Christmas trees and I’ve generally lived places where I was getting my tree directly from someone who could use the extra money each year.

Which, BTW, means the needles don’t fall off while you’re still decorating.

However, I haven’t bothered with a tree since I was empty-nested because it’s kind of a group thing, and there isn’t room for one in my current apartment anyhow. But, yeah, it might be nice to have a hologram in the corner on Christmas itself, since I won’t be going to my son’s to gaze upon his tree this pandemic year.

But Brewster Rockit brings out something I really miss this time of year, which is that for several years I had the privilege of living a rural life near tree farms but only half an hour south of Montreal, which offers a big-city metropolitan multi-cultural, multi-lingual Old World Christmas shopping experience complete with lights on the trees, displays in the shop windows and extraordinary bakery goods everywhere.

These days, I’m four hours away from any of that. (Sigh)


I’m also no longer in a truly small-town place like Snug Harbor, home of Wallace the Brave (AMS), where the local volunteer fire department is, indeed, a social hub during the holidays, since half the town are members or family of members and the department puts on events for everyone anyway.

What I particularly love about today’s strip is that the kids didn’t get together and agree that nominating Spud instead of themselves would produce some excellent chaos. They just all knew it and instinctively made the move, while Spud dutifully put his own name in and hoped it wasn’t drawn.

Best school I ever presented in was Willsboro, NY, which had class sizes of 15-20 students, which was enough kids to have real conversations. Two of our area schools had classes of four to eight, which discouraged talk because they were so closely bonded from birth that, by high school, they already knew what each other thought.

But 20 was good, because it meant the kid who was headed to Harvard was in class with the kid who would be going to work at his dad’s garage, so the interaction was lively but inclusive, and, in working with the class, you had to present at a level everybody in the room could appreciate.

Which forces you to really think about what you’re trying to teach instead of droning on on autopilot.

And I could easily see those kids writing Spud’s name on the slips instead of their own, whether it was to mess with the fire department or because Spud needed to be chosen and maybe both.


Exactimundo, Andertoons (AMS).

When I was editing book reviews by upper elementary and middle school students, my chief mentoring task was getting them to write what they thought, rather than what they thought I wanted them to think, and to realize that they didn’t have to like a book, particularly since I’d only seen the publisher’s blurbs of these new publications.

By contrast, no teacher assigns a book to see if students will realize it sucks, a lesson some of us learn the hard way.

Too many of those blurbs summarized well-intentioned drek in which every main character was an abused minority with a disability, which would be okay if it occurred within the natural flow of a good story but was mostly inclusive horseshit looking for awards from their real audience: Teachers and librarians.

My son the teacher used to ask his fifth graders to give him a reading list, which made him a much more insightful judge of what’s out there and what kids enjoy. More teachers should do that.

It doesn’t mean you then assign piffle, but it does help you identify the books that will be valuable, rather than the ones cranked out to win awards.


Finally, Frazz (AMS) brings back another rural memory, that of calling a Department of Environmental Conservation specialist to talk about dioxins in Lake Champlain from papermills, only to have him say, “I’m surprised you’re not down in Westport.”

Seems the ice fishermen in their shacks there had noticed their lines going sideways and looked outside to find themselves drifting away from shore.

They got to ride in State Trooper and National Guard choppers rather than Coast Guard, but it still made for a good full-staff turnout of a news story.

Be careful out there.


6 thoughts on “CSotD – Merry Monday

  1. One of the best professors I had in college taught a course on medieval European history. The first assignment we had was to write a report on a particular book on the topic.

    It turned out that the only way to get an A on that paper was to observe that the book’s author was full of crap.

    Or to convince the professor that HE was full of it, which I doubt any undergrad ever managed to do.

  2. In the last English class I ever took (I could satisfy the remainder of the Humanities Division requirements by taking economics courses) I got crosswise with the professor when I suggested that the insane poem “interpretation” in /Pale Fire/ was a dig by Nabokov at academic over- and misinterpretation of literary works.

    I did like the book – it and /Catch 22/ were the only two I saved from the course.

  3. Look on the bright side: Montreal may be four hours away, but it doesn’t matter because Canada doesn’t let Americans in these days.

Comments are closed.