Saturday, March 20, 2010

On this first day of Spring ...

Don't you just love crocuses?

Our neighbor Gordon's crocuses cheerily appeared a few weeks ago. He planted a few small clusters of them on the South edge of his property. They were such a welcome sight after days of dreary wintry weather.... helping me to feel Hopeful.

My first experience with crocuses happened in Indiana. Near the front porch steps on the east-facing side of our house they bloomed at the edge of the receding snow bank. It was our first spring in Indiana....

There was a home in West Lafayette where they had planted crocuses in their entire front lawn. It was wonderful. By the time the crocuses were done blooming, their leaves looked sort of like grass. The leaves were ready to be cut by the time the lawn was ready to take over.

I wanted to plant crocuses in our tiny front lawn here in Orem.

The Knight nixed the idea.

Don't you think a lawn full of crocuses sounds delightful?

It must be my British heritage peeking through.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Grunge is another word for ....

The word grunge comes from the adjective grungy, which originated in about 1965 as a slang term for “dirty” or “filthy.”

“Grunge clothing” (worn by “grunge musicians”) consists of thrift store items and typical Northwest outdoor clothing (like flannel shirts). Over all, the INTENT is to have a generally unkempt [sloppy] appearance.

The style was never an attempt at creating “appealing” fashion. Music journalist Charles R. Cross said that Kurt Cobain (a grunge musician) was “just too lazy to shampoo”! Sub Pop’s Jonathan Poneman said, “This clothing … runs against the grain of the whole flashy aesthetic that existed in the 80’s.”

So, let me get this straight, the goal of grunge is to have a generally sloppy appearance that “runs against the grain” of the rest of society. In other words, the purpose is to bother other people. In. Your. Face. And let’s suppose your grunginess doesn’t get the desired adverse reaction? Then, more extreme grunginess must be in order? Right?

So, meet Mark Johnson. Is this man a poster boy for GRUNGE?

On the other hand, if this man’s appearance IS “appropriate” to his job, what might you guess his job is?

Most jobs and work places have a dress code. Many places expect their employees to wear a “uniform” of some type whereby the public can thus determine at a glance what the employee does. Firemen, policemen, nurses, lab technicians, etc. can often be identified as such by their clothing.

What a person wears also conveys his self-image as well as his attitude towards others. Someone who is neat and clean, and appropriately attired for the job or the occasion, usually feels appropriately self-confident. In response, other people in the setting usually react favorably toward that person.

However, a person who purposely and consistently goes “against the grain” is commonly (and understandably) regarded as a person with a bad attitude, or one who is disrespectful. And sometimes not very likeable. Or bright.

Mark Johnson is complaining that his employer has recently mandated a strict dress code which he thinks is unfair and narrow minded. For one thing, he is expected to wear clothing that hides the tattoos that completely cover his forearms. He is expected to be a "role model" and look more “professional.”

Mark Johnson’s job?

Would you believe high school English teacher?

Well, you might say, it depends on WHERE he teaches high school that determines whether his current appearance is appropriate or not. Maybe if he lives and works in an inner-city school plagued with gang members, he might NEED to look like this to SCARE some of his scarier students.

But, do you think his appearance is appropriate for English teachers in the average high school in Utah?
If you said yes, is it because our standards have slipped that much? Or because our culture has been co-opted?

For all his protestations that his tattoos reflect his culture, I don’t think a long sleeve shirt is going to kill him or hurt his culture. I think the truth is he likes shocking people. He protests that his appearance is “teaching” people to not be judgmental. I think this rationale may actually betray an over-riding “in your face” attitude.
This is the role that he is actually “modeling.”

Personally, I think the media has made entirely too much of the issue of the tattoos.

But, what about the grungy looking hair? What about the sloppy attire? If he had no tattoos, would his appearance then be “professional” enough? Without the tattoos, but with the dread locks and the sloppy clothing is he a "role model"?

Just wondering.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Beware the Ides of March

On the Ides of March (March 15th) Julius Caesar was stabbed to death in the Roman Senate by Brutus, Cassius, and 60 other co-conspirators. Caesar had been warned by a Seer to be on his guard against a great peril on the Ides of March. This warning is most famously dramatized in William Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, with the words (spoken by said Seer) “beware the Ides of March.” The other famous Shakespearean phrase from this same play is “Et tu, Brute?” which was spoken by Caesar when the “unkindest cut” was inflicted by Caesar’s friend Brutus. (Fortunately, I have not needed to remember that line a whole lot—exept, perhaps, in jest.)

However, for the past fifty years, on the 15th of March, I have remembered, “beware the Ides of March.” I am happy to report that I do not recall anything horrible happening to me on all those Ides of March for these many years. I think I remember it because it just sounds profound or spooky to mutter under my breath, “beware the Ides of March!”

This year, however, the Ides of March may prove to be bad luck for many people. That is because of Daylight Savings time. Someone figured out that there is a 17 percent increase in fatal accidents on the Monday following the time change! So, be careful out there: we don’t want THIS Ides of March to be one to remember…. (Except with humor! :))


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Why Nobody Pets the Lion at the Zoo

I really like the fun poetry of John Ciardi. I've been thinking about that for the past few days. Here's an example:

Why Nobody Pets the Lion at the Zoo
by John Ciardi

The morning that the world began
The Lion growled a growl at Man.

And I suspect the Lion might
(If he’d been closer) have tried a bite.

I think that’s as it ought to be
And not as it was taught to me.

I think the Lion has a right
To growl a growl and bite a bite.

And if the Lion bothered Adam,
He should have growled right back at ’im.

The way to treat a Lion right
Is growl for growl and bite for bite.

True, the Lion is better fit
For biting than for being bit.

But if you look him in the eye
You’ll find the Lion’s rather shy.

He really wants someone to pet him.
The trouble is: his teeth won’t let him.

He has a heart of gold beneath
But the Lion just can’t trust his teeth.