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That’s not fair
The sixth grade answer to everything
Kids are cooked after the ELA MCAS state standardized test and I get that. Writing three essays on demand over two days, plus reading comprehension passages and questions? Staring at that blank box can be intimidating, wondering what else you can write, I get it. But Math? In my mind, you know it or you don’t, not the same. Kids finish faster. But some spent 35m on the exam, only to claim then to be SO SPENT that they couldn’t POSSIBLY be asked to do work! Rather than call their bluff or set us up for management challenges, we went with post-exam movies.
One kid asked what we were watching and I said, Big Hero 6 (I preferred the day before’s Inside Out).
“That’s not fair.”
What’s not fair? That we chose and didn’t let this one particular kid select the movie? Sixth graders often say something isn’t fair when what they reallt mean, “I’m not happy.” Sorry, you can’t go to the bathroom until Gordoncy gets back since the rule is one person at a time. “But that’s not fair.” Bathroom use goes order of asking; it’s chronological, not about favorites. Sometimes they have a leg to stand on, like when aI move someone’s seat, it’s not fair they were the one who got moved. Any kid would complain, so any attempts to address chit-chat I guess is inherently unfair. I try to alternate who moves, but it leaves me no less exposed.
And the things is, I do strive for fairness. When I’m giving away prizes, I’m always sure to have the same thing for all four cohorts of kids, and the random name wheel picker is a class favorite to root on. We’re reading The Giver now, and it hasn’t landed the same since kids starting coming in understanding the difference between equality and equity. I teach in Cambridge, the whole city understands everybody doesn’t get the same, they get what they need. But they’re not usually saying “That’s not fair” to finding out girls aren’t allowed to go to school in Pakistan. They’re more often saying when they find out the free candy is not their favorite flavor. Fair isn’t equal, and it also isn’t that you get everything you want. Really, fair is where you go to get a fried Twinkie, right?
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.
We launched The Urban Blah as a website, and I decided I wanted an instant “back catalog” so people could judge us by more than one comic on the first dat. This was the 4th comic posted, but this was on the landing page on day one of urbanblah.com (currently owned but unmaintained). I count it as #1. The content remains as true as ever, except now The Awesome Wife has both sweet and savory balms and sera and potions. Even my mint body wash technically counts.
I also found a draft from before Lovisa settled on The Blah Font.
I follow a subreddit called Real Life Shinies which is all blue lobsters, albino squirrels, green Reeses peanut butter cups, etc. This is mine. Really, I think Urban Blah would make a great name for a font… Also, Vee has a substack, you should subscribe!
Jam of the Week
I need to listen more before I rec anything new, so we’ll stick to my journey through the Proven Winners mix and another golden oldie: I’m a huge Talking Heads fan, and their best live album is 1982’s The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads. None of the gloss and aspiration of Stop Making Sense, no accompanying movie, no big suit, no backup musicians, just a band playing at top form. Highlights include “New Feeling,” “Life During Wartime,” and an alt verse in “Psycho Killer” that I first was confused by on a guitar tablature website in 1994. Long out of print, it was reissued in 2004, but I found the record at a yard sale in the late 90s, and my rare Talking Heads bootleg gave me rock ’n roll cachet for a while. Between that and being offered a job at Amoeba Records, I’m practically Buddy Holly.
My Back Pages
My final blog post each year on Surgical Strikes was a round-up of my self-anointed best posts of. Categories included Best emotional honesty phrased as a joke, Best work of (f)art, and of course today’s subject, the winner of Best title for a bullet-point round-up “If you kick Joe Buck in the nuts and nobody hears it, did you still improve baseball?” from July 12, 2006:
While Monopoly is clearly a better game, I always preferred Life if only for its superior money. Not only had they adjusted for inflation, they made the bills look sorta like bills. Although I always thought it was kind of arbitrary that Art Linklater was on the $100,000 bill. Perhaps the game was owned by Craftmatic?
This analysis holds true: Life is a bad game with excellent tender, and Art Linklater is even more of a head-scratcher today. As for Joe Buck, I’ve been hating on his announcing for over 20 years, and this was when he was just limited to baseball. Watching the Celtics’ run has reminded me that announcing can really mess up a whole game. I’m looking at you, Kevin Harlan.
Hosting our first “dinner party” tonight, and if Woody Allen movies are any indication, I expect we’ll discuss our book editing jobs while debating the relative merits of Bertrand Russell. Then again, last time this group got together, the centerpiece of the conversation was a spirited defense of nose-picking. By me. (Who else?)
I don’t remember hosting a dinner party, so I’m not sure who this is. I thought it might have been my old Bananagrams crew, the girlfriends across the street and their mustachioed classics professor pal. One of them was last seen in an early episode of Search Party. Or did it involve a sister? Either way, it makes me sound more interesting than I actually am.
I’ve mulled it over a bit, and here’s the only thing Signor Soccerino could have said to Monsieur Zidane that would justify a head-butt: “If you hit me, I promise to score an own goal so you win the World Cup.” Otherwise you kind of have to cite the precedent of Sticks v. Stones. Even though the other guy’s defense of “I am not a cultured person and I don’t even know what an Islamist terrorist is” (direct quote) does sound suspiciously like Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer: “Now, I’m just caveman and I don’t understand your complex world…”
Talk about forgotten scandals, when the Italy-France World Cup final culminated in a controversial head-butt. We had some friends who were such fanatical France fans that they moved there a few years laters, and they blamed the nastiness of the insult. I blamed the lack of self-control. Why should Zidane be held to a lesser standard than a sixth grader? As for Sticks vs Stones, that’s a straight-up homage to Lionel Hutz..
Kevin Youkilis was a promising minor leaguer who always did well when he was called up to the big leagues, but couldn’t get regular time in the lineup. This year he’s playing every day and he’s awesome. Let’s just say there are a couple people in Hollywood I might want to send his baseball card to.
Youk! Later to become my favorite Red Sox player then a lousy layabout who killed team chemistry and a forgotten favorite Jewish player. But at the time of this writing, he felt like a metaphor for the Hollywood leap I’d greedily felt was owed to me. I’d been back in Boston less than a year at this point, the wound was still fresh. Now it’s just a long-ago scar with any interesting back story.