Keeping the hallways noisy on Fridays
My first year of teaching, Bluetooth was the unreliable new kid on the block, so my tiny speaker connected via headphone jack. Quiet, but it rose above the otherwise soundtrackless upstairs. I thought we should play music in the hallway on Fridays, and the kids went nuts: dancing, conga lines, massive good cheer. Who cares if they could hear it, they had an excuse to cut loose, and loose they did cut.
My speaker got bigger and louder each year, and the scene blossomed pre-pandemic. We had dance battles, visits from older kids, I heard from a parent about the lasting impression our “Friday Morning Dance Party” had. A former principal even mention it in something official, possibly my evaluation. I dunno, I just thought it would be a fun thing to have music in the halls on the last day before the weekend. I’ve tried to spread the fun/responsibility/deejay controls with other teachers, but it always reverts back to me.
Post-covid, music has slowly returned. I now rock the karaoke machine full-time, so kids don’t blink when the PA is repurposed as a porta-party. I’ve dubbed it Throwback Thriday and the few student requests I take must be from the 80s or 90s. I waited a couple weeks for them to settle in, but they seemed ready last week. The start of sixth grade is a lot of dipping your toe into the water of middle school and teenaging, and their curiosity was piqued. A few kids danced to Prince. One took the mic for a Rick Astley chorus. The Fresh Prince’s journey to Bel Air garnered appreciative nods. We’re a lot less stodgy school than we used to be, so they don’t have the same need to Footloose like they used to. But they seems ready to party, we shall we what the Surfin’ Bird has in store.
The Week in Dog Poo
Owning a beagle requires constant vigilance. Winnie lulls you into a false sense of security, then strikes the second you let your guard down. If you’re on your game 59 minutes and 58 seconds, she’ll see those two seconds and POUNCE. Bread near the edge of the counter? GONE. Door not closed where a rug is? PEED ON. Garbage briefly left unguarded? VIOLATED. She’ll bark and bark whenever the doorbell rings, or there’s a doorbell on TV, or someone’s phone rings, or the barometric pressure slightly changes. We love her to death, but Winnie is a chaos agent.
So it feels somewhat out of character that many of her recent poos are arranged in orderly stacks. Fat Lincoln Logs, a pyramid-like pile. The tidiness runs so counter to the everyday maelstrom that it made me stopped and appreciate her fecal craftsmanship. This Old Poop.
The Urban Blah
Back in 2009-11 I collaborated with the brilliant Lovisa to make a webcomic that failed to become syndicated across the globe. I am pro-recycling.
Lovisa is a Halloween genius. My description probably said, “People come to his desk and he’s confused,” but those small changes she made to his eyes and mouth as he thinks and reacts tell a story. And the office crew’s costumes all came direct from her brain. Pinhead! Wonderful execution, ripe for the season.
Jam of the Week
I like making movies starring middle schoolers (just dropped my 29th), and the first came when a kid rapped his poem in class and three friends danced along. One dancer was so epic that I soundtracked the footage with Larry Ellis and the Black Hammer’s sizzling “Funky Thing, Pt. 1” and generated what passed for school virality. The story I heard was that Larry Ellis’s van broke down on the way to studio, they had limited time and taped their warmup jam. And that was it; Parts 1 and 2 comprise their entire recorded output. Deep joyful funk, it opens Throwback Thriday every year, and the confused look on sixth grade faces was a visual complement to the music in my ears.
My Back Pages
I have so many of tantalizing beginnings that never went anywhere. On June 13, 2016, I created a file called “Did you fart?” that was just this.
The plan was very simple. Ben Friedman approached.
“Hello, jerkweed. Time to meet your maker.”
“Hello, Ben. Wait a minute... did you just fart?”
And that was all I wrote. I think I was trying to get the idea down so I wouldn’t forget it, and what a tragedy it would be if this intriguing premise wasn’t preserved for eternity. Four months later, on October 18, I fleshed it out some.
“You did. You just farted!”
“No I didn’t.”
Al pinched his nose to show how bad it was. “It smells!”
Some people around started to agree. “I think Ben just farted.”
Ben panicked that he was losing control of the situation. “I’m here to kick your butt,” he said. “Come on.”
Al waved his hand in front of his nose. “Geneva Conventions, Ben. No biological warfare! You trying to get me weak so you can have an easier time fighting?”
Other kids were starting to laugh.
“Shut up! All of you!” Ben saw the kids laughing and started to leave. Then he ran away. Beth Coleman walked up to Al.
“Did you just talk your way out of a fight by pretending your opponent farted?”
“Is there a law against that?”
Kind of sitcom logic, in real life Ben would just beat the crap out of him. The next sentence veers in exciting new directions, and I’d be a lot more excited if it wasn’t the ending.
In fact, it made perfect sense that Al was so easily able to outsmart Ben. Despite both of them being in seventh grade, Al was, in fact, 37 years old.
What a twist! I also had another sentence that reads more like a note to myself than a continuation of the story.
Shrunk down or something? Spy thing? Mistake?
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