Harry Bliss, who lives about 20 miles south of here, cites 40 inches of snow from yesterday’s morning dump, and I got a laff over his having bought JD Salinger’s home and then joking about having to dig himself out.
Salinger wasn’t a hermit — he came into town and was sociable enough — but he purposefully lived in a place that guaranteed privacy, and the townsfolk cooperated by sending literary tourists on wild goose chases into the hinterlands.
I moved into the center of my small town some years ago, such that, when I got stuck halfway out of my driveway in our three feet of powder, one of the first people to drive past stopped and helped dig me out.
However, if you feel isolation spurs creativity, Bliss offers a cartoonist’s fellowship through the Center for Cartoon Studies so you can work in Salinger’s workshop for a month in the fall, when the only distractions are the fall foliage and sunsets that inspired Maxfield Parrish, who also had a studio in the area.
Here’s an alternative view of artists and isolation from Ellis Rosen (Ind), who cracked me up with this pitiful portrait of how the pandemic is impacting things.
The only times I’ve written in public were when my Internet went down, and then I’m more apt to sit in the car outside the library, given the hours at which I have to be productive. However, I’ve been known to hit a Denny’s or McDonald’s, and, yes, we’ve even got a couple of coffee places with wi-fi.
But, unlike this chap, I’m always a little embarrassed to tell people I’m a writer because it sounds pretentious, perhaps because it is, particularly if you are out posing with your laptop in public places.
“Posing,” that is, as in “poseur.”
Real artists and writers focus on art and writing, sometimes to the detriment of much else.
This Arlo & Janis (AMS) got a laugh because I’m ADD and can never, ever maintain focus long enough to put a teabag in boiling water, leave the room, and then remember I’d done it.
And Arlo has spotted the crucial difference: Mr. Coffee indulgently keeps things hot until I remember he’s there.
I don’t think Mr. Tea even pities the fool.
Going back to small town musings, Jeff Corriveau grew up in New England, as his annual strips about maple syrup suggest. In today’s Deflocked (AMS), however, he riffs on school funding, which is hardly as sweet a topic.
School taxes are one of the few places people get to vote on specific spending, which makes them a political lightning rod. We had a variation on the Deflocked scenario in a nearby town, where developers put in a chi-chi community of professionals and trust-fund bandits, who promptly voted up school taxes, leaving the original residents facing ruin, which resulted in a backlash and, boy, I’m glad I don’t live there.
Meanwhile, a relative lived in a suburb with a small school district where a family with a couple of special-needs kids moved in and the school budget went through the roof.
I don’t know how they finance education in civilized countries, but I’ll bet it doesn’t have this kind of unfair local impact.
Yeah, I know: No politics on Friday.
Instead, let’s let Zits (KFS) bring up pandemic pandemonium in our schools.
I laughed, because I’ve heard from students and teachers about kids who don’t put their faces up on Zoom and sometimes aren’t there at all, but I’ve also heard about classes where things are going well and most of the kids are cooperating. The digital divide is an issue, as is whether parents are working or at home, but so is basic classroom management.
For instance, there’s this: One of the best tricks I learned from teachers when I was presenting in classrooms was to go stand near the desk of a kid who is creating distractions or just flaking out. It’s so universal, subtle and effective a technique that I can’t imagine what it must be like now to not have it at your disposal.
Calling on a kid who hasn’t volunteered can force him to sit up and pay attention, but it is tricky business at best.
Meanwhile, the Jeremys will always find a way, and you’ll always have Jeremys.
The Lockhorns (KFS) play on a familiar complaint.
Arguing over how to hang the toilet paper is either done purely for amusement or else is a sign of something very wrong in your marriage that you don’t dare address.
Toilet seat wars are equally trivial, but are a more overt argument over control and refusal to compromise.
Men’s restrooms used to have toilet seats that rose when you did, so that someone not sitting didn’t have a chance to sprinkle them.
Haven’t seen them in awhile, hence the graffito “Be like Pop, not like Sis. Lift the seat when you take a piss.”
Meanwhile, women sometimes put fluffy covers on toilet lids, which forces men to stand to the side, bracing lid and seat with a knee. Or to be like Sis.
I understand that nobody wants to sit on the cold, wide porcelain, but I’d point out that nobody wants to sit on a wet seat, either.
I blame men for not having shared our solution to the problem:
We look before we sit.
It wasn’t a secret. We just assumed y’all would figure it out on your own.
Leaving the seat up seemed the kinder of the two hints.
Dark Side of the Horse (AMS) touches on a piece of obsolete lo-tech that once mattered a great deal.
Parents shelled out a lot of money to provide encyclopedias for their children as part of that American dream in which kids do better in this world than their folks, which I guess is now also obsolete.
I gave my encyclopedia to a youth facility, but that was more than 30 years ago. They’re now on the list of prohibited donations for book drives.
You literally can’t give them away.
Oh well. I still remember how I learned to spell it.