1. In daily reading of the Internet, you can forget just how many breathtakingly wonderful various small acts of creative generosity it offers. Most of them are also fragile and ephemeral: you have to be there. I was reading one of my favorite sites, Comics Curmudgeon, this morning, particularly for the continued coverage of the weird, entertaining current storyline in the comic strip Mary Worth, which features a stalker who looks like Captain Kangaroo trying to romantically pursue Mary Worth herself. And what do I find? This amazing poem written by a commenter using the name Uncle Lumpy. I know it sounds like I’m making too much out of this sort of thing, but I think taken as a whole, there’s a kind of collective imagination, wit, and spontaneity under the surface of all the dreck and dull-wittedness of Internet blabbery that is so precious to me, that seems one of the most wonderful if fragile beauties of 21st Century global civilization.
2) One of three comments on this morning’s Philadelphia Inquirer: Quakers are discussing (no doubt interminably) whether they need less discussion. As someone teaching at an institution with a Quaker heritage, I can only say, Gee, ya think? Seriously, this is the problem with consensus as an organizational commitment: it’s an endless license for busybodies, trivially-minded second-guessers, energy creatures and plotters to tangle up even the smallest decision or initiative in endless coils of process-discussion, where you debate the debate about the debate about debating. Even in a spiritual community, you need to put aside ordinary worldly matters and just let someone make a judicious decision.
3) Speaking of people who get entangled in endless second-guessing, I have some sympathy for the producers of Sesame Street who are dealing with a lot of sniping about their new girl muppet, Abby Cadabby. On the other hand, they pretty much invite some of that sniping when they talk about nine months of expert research, or about their characters as role models. If they concentrated more on creativity, imagination and entertainment and less on justifying themselves to every middle-class liberal parent with a sanctimonious view of television (let alone the Christian activists who complain that Abby is justifying black magic), they’d be a lot better off. That’s one of the reasons why PBS’ kids shows are a backwater when you compare them with the much more nimble, entertaining and yes, educational, offerings over at Noggin/Nickleodeon: PBS is much more captive to constituency politics and to its own long-developed and overdone claims about the value of its programming for children. That’s why they have to do things like make Cookie Monster eat fewer cookies (can the castration of Oscar the Grouch be far behind?) or fire a perfectly lovely program host because she once made a humorous video about sex toys.
4) STOP THE PRESSES! This morning’s Inquirer has an exclusive from Gail Shister. Aaron Brown will not, I repeat NOT, be attending any 9-11 films because it’s “too soon”. Coming tomorrow from Shister: a guy in Manayunk says he’s not going to any animated films this summer because he’s 34 and doesn’t have kids. On Thursday: a dude in South Philly says that some movies have too many naked people in them and what’s America coming to these days. On Friday, Shister talks to a guy in the video store who says that he thinks George Lucas is an asshole for not putting “Greedo shoots first” on the initial DVD release of Star Wars. Next week, maybe she can talk to more ex-media people about how it’s hanging and all that.