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CSotD: Monday Mix

I always enjoy Agnes (Creators), but never more than today, when she is slogging through the snow and kvetching over a month that even Gilbert & Sullivan dismissed as “beastly.”

Which is a good time to point out that Groundhog Day is ridiculous because it’s far too dependent on location, and was originally a badger in Germany anyway.

Also that when Shakespeare wrote of “the winter of our discontent” it was part of an optimistic speech about Edward IV — a pun on his being a son of the house of York and only to that philosophical extent a comment on the actual weather.

Around here, winter is not metaphorical.

In spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love, but in February an old man’s fancy darkly turns to thoughts of Arizona, and I don’t know where Agnes takes place but in the North Country, March is only a promise anyway.

A half century ago, I got married in Denver in March amid crocuses and daffodils, and six weeks later, on May 1, my older brother got married back home in the Adirondacks and we still had six foot snowbanks.

Misery loves company and I love Agnes.

 

The positive side of all that being that, unlike the poor fellow in this Oatmeal, any time there was something magical in the skies, we got to see it, as long as it happened between October and May.

Tom Messner, the meteorologist over in Plattsburgh, insists that there’s no such thing as “too cold to snow,” and he is an expert in the science and no doubt is technically correct, but when the skies are clear and temperatures are in the single Fahrenheits or less, you sure get a good, sharp look at whatever is out there.

I’ve seen total lunar eclipses, meteor showers, the Hale-Bopp comet and some spectacular, wall-to-wall Northern Lights, mostly while freezing my ass off waiting for the dog to find the perfect spot.

Clear skies are God’s way of standing there with the door open while the rest of us are yelling from the next room, “Hey! We’re not paying to heat Heaven!”

 

But here’s a childhood memory that may require an update, and Big Nate (AMS) cartoonist Lincoln Peirce, having taught middle school, is just the man to do it.

My high school briefly employed a gifted music teacher who, tasked with the Senior Play, put on productions of “Death Takes a Holiday,” “Little Mary Sunshine” and “The Mikado,” but, before and after his tenure, we had those aggressively bad plays in which every kid got a part and nobody got a laugh, and it’s even worse down in the depths of grade school.

However, in case you’ve missed it, there are now traveling pairs of drama majors who arrive in your town with a trailer full of props and costumes and a drastically cut down script of something, often “Annie” or “Aladdin” or, yes, “The Little Mermaid.”

For a fee, they gather up the kiddies, hand out parts, drill them for a couple of days and then put on a show.

Part of me shudders at the commercial drek aspects of it all and part of me thinks, well, it’s no worse than what they’d perform under the direction of their own teachers anyway and at least they’re encountering a couple of nice young people with some actual idea of what they’re doing.

And all of me is glad that the only ones of my grandchildren who live within a day’s drive are well beyond that demographic.

 

Which reminds me of this classic “Stone Soup,” and, boy, do I miss that strip.

 

The Duplex (AMS) misfires with this gratuitous sexist gibe, which not only assumes we still have a statistically significant number of “housewives” (rather than people, mostly women, who temporarily put their careers on hold for the sake of small children) but that women, as a whole, have no understanding of sports.

One of my chief regrets is that I grew up before the days when you’d see confident young girls cheerfully bopping down the street with field hockey or lacrosse sticks over their shoulders and ponytails poking out the backs of their baseball caps.

 

Here’s a picture, for instance, of a professional soccer player and her husband. Lucky bastard.

Howsoever, the strip does suggest a particularly annoying phenomenon, the feigned-ignorance pose of people who consider it a mark of intelligence to not know anything about sports, and who sneer about “sports ball” when the topic comes up.

Let me be clear: You don’t have to like sports. You certainly don’t have to follow sports and keep up with them.

You don’t have to like ballet, either, but we make jokes about the yokel who, taken to a production of “Swan Lake,” asks why they don’t just hire taller girls.

 

But even people who don’t like art know who Picasso was, and people who don’t like opera still recognize “The Barber of Seville,” if only because of Warner Brothers cartoons.

Which would also familiarize an intelligent person with sports.

Change the channel or change the topic, but don’t take pride in appearing stupid.

People may suspect it’s not an act.

 

Can’t we talk about something less pleasant?

Kal Kallaugher (The Economist) touches on a major issue, the fact that we’ve come up with effective vaccines for the coronavirus but are having trouble getting them made and distributed.

In lieu of closing with a tune today, I’m going to send you over to On the Media, and specifically a segment in which Dean Baker, senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, points out that much of the delay is totally unnecessary and illogical.

Pharmaceutical companies claim patents and high prices are necessary to recover the cost of research, but the research for these vaccines was paid for upfront by the government.

The companies never spent a dime on research, but insist on patent (and pricing) rights, refusing to let the vaccines be mass produced as generics.

Check it out.

Community Comments

#1 Ian Christian
February/1/2021
@ 9:14 am

If you think February is beastly you should hear what Flanders and Swan thought of the full 12 months.
https://youtu.be/9wvzNKN2dfo?list=PLN4gIEo2BjC1l_uKoBtSMh8HXTEOLpG7g

#2 Fred King
February/1/2021
@ 12:57 pm

Nice to see another Flanders and Swan fan here.

I miss Stone Soup too. I was re-reading Privacy is for Wussies recently and noticed two things: it’s book 11, published in 2016. Does anyone know when the next one is coming out? It will, won’t it?

Second, Gramma is apparently my age. As a colleague once said, “suddenly I became old. I have no idea how that happened.”

#3 Denny Lien
February/1/2021
@ 1:01 pm

I don’t think your “ignorance of sports” vs. “ignorance of ballet” analog quite holds up. I’m indifferent to ballet, but if (a) my local newspaper devoted an entire section, comprising about a fifth of the paper, day in and day out to ballet news; and (b) my local cable supplier insisted on including and charging for a “ballet tier” of channels with every package deal; and (c) colleges and universities actively recruited premier ballet dancers out of high school and encouraged them to ignore trivia like classwork in favor of 24/7 concentration on their big weekly ballet matches; and (d) municipal governments didn’t fall all over themselves throwing money at new stadiums and tax breaks etc. to attract ‘major league ballet teams’ — then I think my attitude toward ballet might move from indifference to hostility, and I might even be seriously tempted to develop a perverse pride in my ignorance of the fine points of the art. Human nature, and all that.

#4 Blinky the Wonder Wombat
February/1/2021
@ 3:10 pm

The groom may be a lucky bastard, but the bride is pretty lucky, too. They are both professional athletes. That’s Julie Ertz, USWNT member and Zach Ertz, All-Pro tight end. Zach made about $6.6 million last year while Julie made only about $1 million. Both make pretty good cabbage for chasing a ball around the field.

#5 Mike Peterson
February/1/2021
@ 4:52 pm

Money talks, Denny. Sports coverage used to be half a page. If ballet fans bought newspapers at that clip, I promise you they’d see more coverage. And, actually, it makes my point more relevant, since it’s harder to find ballet coverage and yet intelligent, well-informed, well-rounded people are aware of it, even if they don’t go see it.

(You’re not honestly telling us you didn’t know “Swan Lake” was the name of a ballet, I hope.)

As all-present as sports coverage is, you have to make an active attempt to remain ignorant of it.

I mean, you ought to at least recognize JJ Watt (Houston Texans) and Kealia Ohai Watt (Chicago Red Stars.)

#6 Blinky the Wonder Wombat
February/1/2021
@ 6:30 pm

So that’s what I get from not following celebrity couples! (The Ertz’s get lots of coverage in Philly). And in my defense, both couples have a more than passing resemblance to each other.

That being said, JJ Watt is an even bigger catch.

#7 Gawain Lavers
February/1/2021
@ 9:11 pm

“However, in case you’ve missed it, there are now traveling pairs of drama majors who arrive in your town with a trailer full of props and costumes and a drastically cut down script of something, often “Annie” or “Aladdin” or, yes, “The Little Mermaid.”

For a fee, they gather up the kiddies, hand out parts, drill them for a couple of days and then put on a show.”

Isn’t that basically the plot of The Music Man? That remains one of the darkest horror movies I’ve ever seen.

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