Sunday Salon: Week Two

The Sunday

9 a.m.

This week has not been as readerly as I anticipated. I had thought I would have all the time in the world to read after I submitted my dissertation a few weeks ago, but it turns out that teaching prep and long-neglected housework can expand to fill any amount of time you allot them.

I did, however, pick up a copy of the first volume (1950-1952) of Charles Schulz's Complete Peanuts from the library this week, and found it so effortlessly thoughtful and wry that I immediately rushed out and ordered a copy of my own. In the very first strip, a little boy sees our hero approaching, baldly, and remarks to his wee friend with period quaintness: "Well! Here comes Ol' Charlie Brown! Good Ol' Charlie Brown .... Yes, Sir! Good Ol' Charlie Brown." He trails off as the smiling form recedes, and a furrow of discontent appears over his eyes: "How I hate him!"

This reversal really sets the tone for everything I have read so far; none of the cloying, eventless sentiment that we might associate with Peanuts in its later reign over the canon of classic comic strips. My comics-wise friend J had recommended this to me long ago, but I was a doubter. Well, now Complete Peanuts is to me what my Battlestar Galactica recommendation was to him: an endorsement that looked absurd on paper, and ended up being totally converting.

So, my goals for today: There is a lot of Ulysses yet to prepare for tomorrow's class, so that will undoubtedly loom large on my reading horizon (as if a tome like Ulysses could do anything but loom!). I would like (time permitting) to make a habit of reading a play and a graphic novel on each of these Sundays. This week: the first volume of Mark Oakley's Thieves and Kings, which has been recalled by the library, and George Ryga's The Ecstasy of Rita Joe, the depressing subject matter of which has doomed it to lurk on my "Currently Reading" list for far too long. I would also like to make a little progress in To Hate Like This is To Be Happy Forever (an account of the Duke-Carolina basketball rivalry), to soothe my fevered brain after last night's incredibly depressing Final Four game (I don't want to talk about it. Let's never speak of this tournament again).

On a practical note: last week my updates to my original post never - alas! - showed up in either my feed or Sunday Salon's. So this week I am going to post a series (possibly a series of two, but no matter) of separately published updates, and see whether that is the only solution to the problem. Does anyone have any alternate strategies to offer by way of advice?

6 Responses so far.

  1. Anonymous says:

    Oh tell me about lesson preparation! This week's first year undergrad grammar is looming large at the moment. I'm so glad you're enjoying Peanuts. On even the worst of days he can bring the broadest of smiles to my face.

  2. Max Renn says:

    Up until a few days ago I would have said that you got the better end of our Peanuts-Battlestar recommendation swap. Peanuts is, after all, an enduring classic and the best of its genre. But then I watched the final three perfect episodes of Battlestar's first season, and now BG's is starting to look like it's in that league, too . . .

    Anyway, glad you're enjoying Peanuts.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Ah, I was wondering what your status was. Somehow I figured you're at Yale (right?), but I wasn't sure whether faculty or student. I'm about four miles up the road from you, in North Haven.

    I'm not exactly sure how it works, but you're probably best to go with multiple posts if you want the updates to show up in the feed. An edited post will have the same title and posting time/date, so I think it's unlikely to be noticed a second time by RSS readers.

  4. I have been collecting each of these volumes and they are wonderful. Every since I was a child Peanuts has been a favorite and I have always liked the earliest 2 or 3 decades the very best. Wonderfully funny, sentimental, nostalgic stuff there. They are well worth owning.

  5. Long-neglected housework does, in fact, tend to take up as much time as you'll let it. Sigh. Good luck catching up!

  6. Table Talk - I would love to hear about your lesson plans on undergrad grammar. My attempts to grapple with students' grammar issues always seem so ... furtive. And pedantic.

    Max Renn (J) - I am so glad you are enjoying BSG as much as I enjoy "Peanuts" (which has since arrived in the mail - hurrah!). I had always assumed that "Peanuts" was as dusty and sentimental as it seemed in the paper when I was growing up. But these early ones are incredibly witty and philosophical, and I look forward to seeing how the strip develops over time. In fact, I am now sort of lusting after "Schulz and Peanuts," which always seems to be lurking seductively in the bookstores I frequent. I read good reviews; have you read it? Meanwhile, please remember your sense of end-of-season wonder about BSG (which truly ends seasons as well as any show on TV right now -- and much better than "Lost," which can give BSG a run for its money in terms of quality often) when you get a few episodes in to the second season and your faith in the writers is sorely tested.

    Carl - I am so glad that my copy of the first volume has arrived rather quickly (I have to hold myself back from it consciously to do less delightful work). I am delighted by the difference in tone and characterization that is evident in these early strips.

    Heather - I know! When I combine housework with my return to gym-going on non-teaching days, it seems like I get nothing else done. Sigh... A balance must be found.

    Thanks for the wonderful comments, everyone!

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