:: Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson gave a commencement speech at his alma mater in 1990, and here it is.
Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement. In a culture that relentlessly promotes avarice and excess as the good life, a person happy doing his own work is usually considered an eccentric, if not a subversive. Ambition is only understood if it's to rise to the top of some imaginary ladder of success. Someone who takes an undemanding job because it affords him the time to pursue other interests and activities is considered a flake. A person who abandons a career in order to stay home and raise children is considered not to be living up to his potential-as if a job title and salary are the sole measure of human worth.
Read the whole thing; it's worth it (even despite a few obvious transcription errors). I have to admit, though, that while I admire Watterson's ability to keep his creation "pure" and to walk away from it while it was still fresh, I am bothered by the fact that a man with such insight has pretty much chosen to withdraw from a world that desperately needs it. Oh well.
:: Along similar lines, this woman has found fulfillment as a pizza delivery driver. I've done that too -- never actually as an official driver, but as a shift manager, it was occasionally my responsibility to go out and run some pizzas around, back in the day. I wouldn't say I found it fulfilling, but it was sometimes a pleasant diversion, getting to drive around and listen to the radio while the restaurant was getting its ass kicked. Of course, there was high annoyance as well -- people who would stiff the drivers on the tips, the unpleasantness of running deliveries on hot summer nights when the car's A/C was on the fritz, running deliveries on Halloween night, realizing too late that I'd gone down West Washington street when my customer lived on East Washington. But if this woman is really happy doing that, then more power to her.
:: Along the lines of comic strips mentioned above, here's an article which describes some of the approaches academia has taken with regard to Peanuts. Not the most interesting article in the world, but I did learn that Snoopy's famed battles against the Red Baron only took place in the strip while the Vietnam War was raging.
:: And along the lines of Peanuts, we've just this weekend watched the 1969 movie A Boy Named Charlie Brown, which was made way back in 1969. It's really quite good, and yet it seems to have slipped through the "cultural awareness" cracks. Most kids now only know the Peanuts gang through the Christmas and Halloween/"Great Pumpkin" TV specials. This film is something else. Its story, involving Charlie Brown's participation in a spelling bee and his upward trip to the National Finals, basically serves as backdrop for a whole lot of Peanuts digression and some really trippy weirdness. For example, there's a frankly amazing segment that wouldn't have been out-of-place in the Disney film Fantasia, accompanying Schroder's playing of Beethoven's Pathetique piano sonata (second movement). Here's a review of the film by Drew McWeeny (AICN's "Moriarty"). It's quite a film, really. I had no idea it even existed until I read Drew's review a few months ago, and I spotted the DVD in the bargain bin at The Store yesterday, strangely enough.
:: When I was a kid I briefly dabbled in stamp collecting. It's a fascinating hobby, and the main reason I never kept up with it was basically that it got crowded out by other interests. Here's a story about an ultra-rare stamp that was recently "reunited" with the letter whose postage it provided. The letter was a love letter, appropiately enough.
One of the rarest stamps in the world, the Blue Boy sold for $1 million in 1981 and is estimated to be worth many times that now. Still, many wondered why this stamp -- an Alexandria postmaster provisional printed on blue paper before U.S. government stamps were commonplace -- survived when all others like it were lost or destroyed. If the envelope had been saved for sentimental reasons, did the letter also exist? If so, what did it say?
:: It seems that wiser heads have prevailed at NBC: sitting on Aaron Sorkin's new Studio 60 at the Sunset Strip show, and noting that the show would get unmercifully clobbered at 9:00 on Thursdays (against CSI and Grey's Anatomy, they have moved it to Mondays at 10:00 (up against CSI: Miami). This means that I can still execute my original plan of watching CSI and taping Grey's, and then watching Grey's at 10:00. Whew.