High Variance

Feeling Negative

I spend a lot of time on this blog raving about great kid books, great music, great writing for grown ups, and even great teaching, but don’t get the idea that I think everything is all sunshine and roses. There are plenty of things I don’t appreciate. Here are just three:

[title "Maybe the Ugliest Shirt of All-Time"]

1. The Grateful Dead

When I think of the Dead, the first things that come to mind are dirty feet, ugly tie-dyed shirts, drugs, and silly annoying songs that just go on and on and on. If you’re into that sort of thing, then I’m really sorry you can’t follow them around anymore. At least you’ve got Phish.

2. Ezra Jack Keats

[title "Whistle for Willie"]

This is Ezra Jack Keats week at my girls’ preschool and besides Eric Carle, there isn’t a more over-rated children’s book author/illustator. I’m not an expert on Jack Keats, but I have read The Snowy Day and Whistle for Willie and thus feel perfectly justified generalizing to his whole body of work. I like that he his stories take place in cities. I like that he’s got African-American characters. And I’m not arguing he wasn’t an important trail blazer–he was. I’m just arguing that the books themselves are uninspired and boring. In the last forty years lots of authors have taken the torch and done a better job with it. My favorites are The Rain Stomper (by Boswell Addie, illustrated by Eric Velasquez), Corduroy (by Don Freeman), and Bear on a Bike (by Stella Blackstone, illustrated by Debbie Harter)

3. New Orleans

[title "VOODOO"]

For some people, New Orleans is a great city. It’s got world class sea food and its own brand of jazz. It’s got a casino downtown and a whole street full of daiquiris and debauchery. But for a vegetarian who doesn’t drink, doesn’t gamble, and whose musical tastes are a little less hip, New Orleans doesn’t have much to offer. I used to think the best thing about the city was voodoo and while that sounds all cool and mysterious, when you take a closer look, it’s not. Chicken blood, bits of hair, and stabbing little dolls to hurt real people is just creepy. Of course, there is the Insectarium which is also a little creepy, but was a lot of fun with the girls when we visited a couple weeks ago.

OK, I’ll admit it: I’m not usually such a Debby Downer, but accumulated sleep debt from a busy winter and spring has taken a toll on my normally sunny disposition. Hopefully the end of the semester will take care of this I’ll soon be back to being a Cheerful Charlie!