Today's Big Nate brings to mind a teacher my son had who showed so many films in class that they called him "Coach."
Actually, both sons had him, but only one of them was in a class full of smartasses, which I can relate to, because I was in one, too. We'd do great work for great teachers, but we could be hell on the unprepared, because we were determined to make school entertaining.
If the teacher wasn't interesting, we'd make things interesting.
"Boys throw stones at frogs in fun, but the frogs do not die in fun, but in earnest." -- Bion of Borysthenes
In the case of "Coach," they actually liked the guy, but they did recognize when he was slacking and didn't mind joking about it. For that matter, maybe it even made them identify with him.
Anyway, they weren't going to mess up a 40-minute break in the day by raising hell when they could be dozing.
Nate's review also made me chuckle because it's so unlikely that even Nate would dare to tease the bears with this kind of critique.
In working with young writers, I have to overcome their natural tendency to praise whatever they're given to review, because, of course, that's how book reports work in school: No teacher has ever assigned a novel to see if you'll recognize how crappy it is, and very few of them will reward your willingness to point it out.
Add to that the fact that, when my kids do a movie review, they go to a special screening and not only do they get to sit in the roped-off section with the other reviewers -- none of whom are 11 years old -- but their name is printed on a card on the seat.
How can you hate a movie under those circumstances?
Of course, the flip side of that is that you shouldn't ask a kid for an opinion unless you're prepared to hear one. I've got a 13-year-old who praises the good stuff but is merciless with the less-than-fabulous, and, when she does deliver a brickbat, she backs it up.
To understand Wanderville: Escape to World’s Fair, you will have had to read the first two, because the story picks up right where it left off at the end of the second one, without any refreshers or explanations. While that may please readers who finish one book in a series and immediately begin the next one, it will be hard for people who waited a long time between the second and the third one. As for people who haven’t even read the first two books, they will not understand it in the least.
And another time ...
The story sometimes goes off in seemingly random directions, but usually circles back so that it makes sense. Sometimes the silliness makes the plot confusing, so that older readers might not enjoy it so much. However, younger readers probably won’t mind.
I'm going to go into mourning next year when she ages out of the program.
On the other hand, as I've said in meetings with the parents, I often feel like the college coach whose Heisman Trophy winning quarterback graduates and he wonders if he'll ever win another game.
Then he turns around and notices a freshman, throwing bullets.
To which I would simply add that any teacher who doesn't appreciate the Big Nates when they come along is in the wrong business.
And then there's this
Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal points out another matter I sometimes have to deal with.
My ex worked for a few years as a technical writer, and I took a stab at it once for a freelance gig, after the previous writer had a heart attack.
Which should have been a warning.
In both cases, the task was to translate engineer-gibberish into English for user manuals, and it kind of helps if you don't know what the hell they're talking about, because your end-readers don't either, so you are asking the questions they would ask.
Sometimes it's a matter of the engineering types assuming everyone knows what they know, but it seems more often to be the fact that they weren't hired for their writing skills and tend to pad their work with what they think "good writing" is supposed to sound like.
This is somewhat allied to the absurdly bloated language I ran into when drunks called in on my talk show, but I think it has a lot more to do with the fact that they (the engineers, that is, not the drunks, though it's possible to be both) got A's in college writing for professors who were also more gifted in technical knowledge than deft use of language.
Mr. Grant is not.
To paraphrase Paul Simon, "When I look back at all the crap I wrote in high school, it's a wonder I can write at all."
Juxtaposition of the Day
I burned out on Amazon delivery drone jokes on about Day Four of that epidemic, but I did finally get a chance to see a real hobby drone in action and perhaps I should say "hear" because those things are flying leaf-blowers: Great if you're the owner (I suppose), but a real pestilence for everyone else.
Although if they become any more popular, the mounting toll of mid-air collisions ought to stifle the whining about "Where is my rocket pack?" and "What about my flying car?"
Or at least drown it out.