Thursday, June 30, 2011

Whether You Like It Or Not

It's an interesting twist on the 30-minutes-or-less idea: deliveries when THEY want. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Come On, Groupon

I “belong” to Groupon, is that’s the right term.  By that I mean that at some point I signed up to receive their daily emails touting deals on all kinds of things, from clothing to restaurants to acupuncture.  I’ve even bought a deal or two.  But I have to admit that I’ve never really paid much attention to the content of the emails; I check out what it’s for and if it doesn’t interest me, I quickly delete it. This morning’s email caught my eye for some reason, and I actually read all of the copy related to an offer of discount golf: 

Like painting a portrait or fixing a computer, completing a round of golf is always more impressive when it’s done in the pouring rain. Enjoy equally impressive fair-weathered fores with today's Groupon

I’ve played golf in the rain before, but do people really paint in the rain?  Or fix computers?  And what does fixing computers have to do with golf, really?  I was confused. 

Then I dug in my trash folder for a couple of other offers: 

Though rubber-banding a photograph to a roly-poly super ball increases its utility, its picture quality plummets after playing just a few rounds of fetch. Put a photo in a durable place with today's Groupon:

The needle is a tool shared by quilters and tattoo artists, which is why most quilting conventions include a handmade tattoo in every goody bag. Celebrate the unifying power of the needle with today's Groupon

Like a carefully arranged leaf pile, the right outfit can make its creator appear put-together or hide an entire family. Stand out with today's Groupon

Then I got it: the copy is meant to be ironic, in a 21st century hipster kind of way. 

I tried to think of a humorous way to wrap up this entry, but I found that reading through the Groupon dreck drained me of any humor I may have had.   Just give me the damned offer and spare me your drivel.  

Monday, June 27, 2011

School's Out

At 12:20 this afternoon, summer vacation officially begins for students in the Northampton Public Schools.  It’s a little later this year, when compared to previous years, because of the snowy (read: sucky) winter we had, and it’s more than a little strange that the last day is a half day on a Monday when graduation was on Friday.  But those are mostly adult concerns.  For the kids, the focus is, of course, on vacation and promotion.  As my younger said said to me this morning, “At 12:21 today, I will be a third grader.” 

I’ve also been amused by the way he’s been singing “School’s out for summer” over the past few days.  He took care to explain to me that he knows that the song is really only for those who are done with college, because that’s when school is really out forever, but he’s willing to sing a few bars to celebrate having the summer off. 

My older son graduated from Jackson Street School on Friday.  Since I’d been to other graduation-type events before involving my children—Safety Village, pre-school, CCD—I thought this one would be no problem.  I was wrong—I got caught up in the emotion of the event and found it to be completely bittersweet.  And when after the celebratory cake had been cut up and served and my son came up to me and asked if he could go to a friend’s house, I felt the significance of this momentous day.  For the past six years, Jackson Street School has been the center of our educational universe.  Next year, for the first time, our two sons will be going to different schools, with different schedules, teachers, and expectations.  We’ll adjust, of course, and everything will be fine, but that transition to middle school won’t happen until after this long stretch of summer is over, so the only thing I have to keep my company are all the fond memories I have of Jackson Street, and the reminders of what we’ve lost. 

So yes, school’s out for summer. But it’s never really out forever.  Instead, it visits us over and over again, in our memories, through our children, and in our forgot-the-locker-combination dreams.  And don’t forget Facebook, too, where friends from school bombard us with friend requests that completely ignore the reasons why we’re not really friends with them in the first place. 

But I digress.  And as I said, the last day of school is about looking forward, not backward. 

Bring on the summer!

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Rodney Dangerfield's class movie "Back to School" has become one of those cable staples that I can't help but watch whenever I notice that it's on.  I always chuckle to myself, in an admittedly obnoxious, I-am-so-much-cleverer-than-you kind of way at the scene where Rodney goes to his English class for the first time.  Sally Kellerman is his professor, and she begins the class by reading Molly Bloom's soliloquoy from James Joyce's Ulysses.

But wait: the fact that I know the passage she reads come from Ulysses is not the obnoxious part.  No, the obnoxious part is knowing--and then talking about it, I suppose--that the list of books she writes on the chalkboard that the class is supposed to read is completely absurd, as it includes Finnegan's Wake and Ulysses.  I can tell you that there are perhaps 12 people in the world who will tell you that they've read Finnegan's Wake and understand it, and most of them are lying. The ration of people who've read Ulysses, and who claim to have enjoyed it and understood it, is slightly better, but it's still a book that's more famous for being famous than it is for being read and discussed.  

Which brings us to Bloomsday, which is today, June 16.  It's the day in 1904 that Leopold Bloom, the hero of Joyce's Ulysses made his was around Dublin.  It's celebrated every year by devotees of Joyce, and by a lot of people who've never read the book. 

I'm of two minds about Bloomsday.  I have a Ph.D. in literature (American, not British) and read Ulysses in graduate school.  I also had the pleasure of teaching it to a bunch of mostly disinterested undergraduates.  So I appreciate the book on a couple of levels, and I appreciate a day devoted to literature.  But I can't help but think that somehow all of this celebrating of a book that most people haven't read is a bit silly.  And I can't help but think that Joyce would see it that way, and appreciate the irony.  Like the irony of a graduate student teaching a seminar on Ulysses and using the Cliff Notes as his bible. 

And don't get me wrong, I'll be hoisting a Guinness to James this evening. 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Pull of the Blog

I cringed when I saw the date of my last post in this blog, because I shouldn't let that much time pass between insightful, entertaining posts.  But it is a vicious cycle, I'll be the first to admit. You see, I have these arguments with myself--well, discussions might be the better word--where on the one hand I tell myself that I shouldn't be wasting my time with my blog, because no one reads it.  Then, on the other hand, I tell myself that more people would read it if I wrote more.  These are not earth-shattering revelations here, but the ultimate point, I think, is that I need to decide what to do with this blog; it's a fish-or-cut-bait scenario.

But then it seems that every time I think about putting this blog out of its misery, something happens that forces me to once again sharpen my metaphorical crayon, like the kerfuffle over the Northampton Planning Board's requirement that the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish have a connection to the City's bike path in order to build its parish center.  Now the Gazette is publishing letters from supporters on both sides of the issue.  I've read these letters with great interest, particularly because I never thought that there could be people who would be against having a connection to the bike path. The Church maintains that its religious freedom is being infringed upon by the Planning Board.  I find that argument a bit ironic, because one of the things I've always loved about riding a bike is the feeling of freedom that comes with it.  Apparently there is some fear that older parishoners in particular will be subjected to hordes of cyclists riding through the parking lot of the church on Sundays when people are trying to find a parking space and get to mass. I never looked at it that way, and now that I have, I can honestly say that I still don't understand why it's a big deal to have a connection to the bike path.  But if I figure out a good reason, I'll post it right here, because I'm back.