If you give a sixth grader a cookie
They'll ask you for another cookie
Sugar is nobody’s friend, and I know as a teacher I should set the example of eating healthy and living right. But I give out candy and cookies and Munchkins (donut holes, for non-Dunkinistas) and I always have. As a student teacher, I watched my supervising teacher give out chips and SODA to celebrate the end of a unit. That’s too spill-prone for my tastes, and those excessed in general have fallen out of favor. But I still commemorate the end of units with a Starbursts, or at least I did until I discovered they’re made with gelatin. Jolly Ranchers are less controversial.
You don’t hear a lot of “Thank you” in the sixth grade. If you give a sixth grader a cookie, they’ll probably ask for a second cookie. I give out Oreos at my after-school club, the amount determined by how many kid we have. Some thank me, the vast majority are silent, a few complain they didn’t get more. A few kids ask for more, but I don’t want to reward The Kid Who Asked, or give them out evenly. I usually hold them and then give them away randomly to my Thu/Fri classes, along with stickers and stupid prizes I’ve obtained over the years.
Should I be giving out apples instead? It doesn’t feel like candy buys me the good will it seems like it should. Is it time to switch to broccoli giveaways? Stay tuned.
I’ll be taking next week off for vacation, so see you in March. You’re lucky you got this one (late).
The Urban Blah
Back in 2009-11 I collaborated with the brilliant Vee to make a webcomic that failed to become syndicated across the globe. I am pro-recycling.
That Beavis and Butt-head movie and TV reboot hit a little close to home as I discovered the course of a corner of my usual banter. This joke is pure Butt-head, and like the people who wait to pounce on an opportunity to say THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID, I’m more conditioned to hear these types of things. I’d say it’s comforting to feel like I uncovered a universal truth years ago, but maybe it’s that I haven’t evolved. Does that count as a universal truth?
Oh, and Vee has a substack, you should subscribe!
Jam of the Week
I’m pleased to report that the new Bass Drum of Death album is excellent. Their first album, GB City, is outstanding raw guitar chaos, and clearly their best, but I celebrate their entire catalog. Originally just two guys recording for Fat Possum (soooo Black Keys), they play loud, fast, up-tempo guitar rock. Little wonder the two shows I saw spawned old-fashioned mosh pits.
Also, I tend to prefer my Yo La Tengo noisy, and the new album delivers plenty of noise, my favorite offering of theirs in years.
My Back Pages
At The Boston Phoenix fresh out of college, I quickly discovered I wasn’t much of a music reviewer, I wasa strained article writer, and my movie reviewing was limited to what the real critics wanted to avoid. Barney’s Great Adventure starring the purple dinosaur, or Home Alone 3, which screened at 11am and to which bafflingly brought my hot girlfriend (now Real Life Wife™). I eventually found my journalistic niche slinging content for the Phoenix’s 5 listicle section. Following the death of Frank Sinatra, I pitched “5 Forgotten Franks,” and it ran May 25, 1998:
1) Frankie Yankovic
Frank Sinatra was an American icon, popular and influential since before Bill Clinton was even born. His death last week inspired widespread tributes and media coverage, but all the hoopla shouldn’t obscure the achievements of other, less celebrated Franks. Another musician considered at the top of his genre was polka king Frankie Yankovic. In the ’40s, this accordion master was as popular as could be expected of an accordion master, and he retains modest fame today as the father of dork idol “Weird Al” Yankovic.
False! According to The New Yorker, Weird Al’s father did not play the accordion and they were not related to Frankie Yankovic. Fact-checking in 1998 was more complicated than today, but also I was lazy, and didn’t I already say I was a bad journalist?
2) Frank Stallone
Like Sinatra, Frank Stallone made his living in the movies and in music. And his last name begins with S. The similarities end there. Stallone exploited the success of his musclebound brother, winning tiny roles in the first three Rocky movies, plus songwriting credits in two of Sly’s worst films: the arm-wrestling epic Over the Top and the embarrassing Saturday Night Fever sequel, Staying Alive. Frank later proved he didn't need his brother to land parts in lousy movies when he appeared in the legendary Hudson Hawk.
According to IMDB, Frank Stallone has three platinum albums and ten gold albums and has distinguished himself as a bit player in 60 movies and TV shows. Back in ’98, I thought taking pot-shots at everyone made me a sly cultural critic, and if I dissed enough people, I’d join the alternative journalism club and my dreams would all come true. Frank Stallone has way more value than I gave him credit for here, and for that I apologize.
In other news, I had a brief casual friendship with Patrick Swayze’s brother Sean, and he pretty much just hung around set getting paid to… hang around set. Pretty much what I thought Frank Stallone was. Good guy, though.
3) Franklin Pierce
Sinatra may have called Kennedy and Reagan his pallies, but only one Frank ran the show at the White House. Franklin Pierce, our 14th president, presided over a nation divided over slavery and creeping toward war. Highlights of his administration include an unsuccessful attempt to quell civil war in Kansas, an unsuccessful attempt to acquire Cuba, and a successful installation of the White House’s first central heating system.
Even falser! Franklin Pierce was the only Frank who was President other than, what’s-his-face, THAT GUY WHO WON FOUR TERMS AND INVENTED SOCIAL SECURITY. This was such a clownishly obvious error that my editors probably thought I was making a joke on purpose. Or maybe they half-heartedly proofread my stuff because who cares.
4) The franc
Rock and roll and the hippies made Sinatra seem uncool in the mid-’60s, but he later regained popularity on the Vegas circuit. Since few slot machines accept French currency, that sort of happy ending seems unlikely for the franc. Once the euro begins its reign, the franc will barely have as much clout as Steve & Edie.
Ah, the days when the euro was still a future endeavor. Makes me realize this piece comes from another year, another century, another millenium: the 90s, the 1900s, the 1000s. We’re old.
5) Frankie Goes to Hollywood
An old newspaper headline about Sinatra’s early acting career inspired this overtly homoerotic British pop band’s name. Frankie found great success across the pond, but only modest acclaim in the US, with the booming hit single “Relax.” The ’80s revival has almost brought them back to Hollywood, but frankly, they were just one-hit wonders.
“Frankly”! I see how I did that. No wonder I left journalism six months later.