The speech bubble in today's Edison Lee should read, "He must be running out of topics" -- Edison Lee because, y'know, people always said their own names at the end of whatever they said in the 19th century.
For instance, you might walk into a store and say, "I need a 25-pound sack of beans -- Fred Smith." And there were would be some guy in the corner of the store softly playing a fiddle, solo.
Thing is, I really like what Ken Burns has brought to the format, particularly the "authentic contemporaneous voices" aspect, and especially when it is some average person rather than a national leader. But, the cheap knock-offs of his style by others aside, even Burns is verging on self-parody and in danger of crossing that line between a groove and a rut.
Burns went to Hampshire College, which I mention for two reasons: One is that Hampshire is a kind of Summerhill University, not that you don't have to go to class if you don't feel like it but in the sense that you can design your own major.
This works really well if, like Burns, you have a clear vision of what you need to learn to do the thing you want to do. But Hampshire has been held up as a place where you can "major in Frisbee" and, just as drama schools have to have a number of mediocre students to play the other roles so that the small pool of potentially great actors can learn, I suspect that Hampshire needs wealthy young Frisbee majors in order to keep the school going for those occasions when a Ken Burns needs a place to do his own thing.
Assuming you need a college to do your own thing in the first place.
Edward Gibbon enrolled at Magdalen College, Oxford, in 1752 and stayed only long enough to regret having shown up at all.
To the University of Oxford I acknowledge no obligation; and she will as cheerfully renounce me for a son, as I am willing to disclaim her for a mother. I spent fourteen months at Magdalen College: they proved the fourteen months the most idle and unprofitable of my whole life.
He wandered off to design his own major and the result was "The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" which, you will note, also changed how popular history is done, though without harpsichord music in the background.
("Et tu, Brute" -- Julius Caesar)
The second reason for mentioning where Burns went to college is to create a smoooooth segue to ...
This certainly qualifies as a First World Problem to the extent that I think there are probably a lot of women in Third World countries, and possibly our own, who would be delighted to have being admitted to a Princeton eating club a little higher on their list of concerns.
On the other hand, as Sorensen notes in her fourth panel, these sexist racist elitist little piglets are going to end up in places of influence and power, though (stand by for another segue!) not as assuredly as the sexist racist elitist little piglets who make it into Skull & Bones over at Yale.
Which brings us to the first "I wish I'd written that" portion of today's posting, because I was going to note how, in "Stover at Yale," Owen Johnson exposed the elitist phoniness of Skull and Bones and then copped out at the end and had Stover join in order to reform the place from within.
But when I went looking for references, I came across this brilliant reflection on just that, which goes well beyond anything I could possible say on the topic.
So go read that.
The second thing I wish I had written comes here ...
Comics Worth Reading, Johanna Draper Carlson's blog worth reading, linked today to another brilliant piece upon which I cannot improve, cartoonist Marinaomi's piece, "Writing People of Color (if you happen to be a person of another color)" and it is more than a thumbsucker: She shares her own experience and thoughts, but then adds in opinions from other cartoonists she approached for the project.
Aside from the simple fact that I don't have the standing to write it (nor the previous piece, for that matter), this is a level of research, reflection and editing that might have gone into the pages of a major magazine.
Read those two pieces.
Then cancel your appointments, because you're going to be busy rolling them around in your head for the rest of the day.