Saturday night was out of the ordinary, for us — a choir concert for two middle schools and the high school they feed into. (Except that Kate will not go to that high school, but never mind that.) I suppose the intent was to show the whole vocal-music program from farm team to majors, and if so, it was impressive. I’ve always liked Kate’s choir and her teacher, but the high-school program is something else. I’ve not watched many episodes of “Glee,” but the little school’s nemesis, the well-funded, always-perfect Vocal Adrenaline? I saw them Saturday night.

The teacher has been there for a while, and is known for the rigorousness of her program, her high standards and her temper. A series of events a few years back led to the revelation of some ugly events in her personnel file — thrown staplers, verbal hectoring, the usual things you expect from a temperamental perfectionist — but an investigation by the state board of education left her in place. She had enormous support from the parents and her former students, but the damage was done. She was revealed as the Bobby Knight of show choir.

Now, I don’t know all that much about show choir, but I did a little reporting on marching band when I was in Indiana, and I suspect they’re the same. That is, they long ago stopped being about fancy marching during football halftimes and are now about intricate choreography, custom arrangements of current pop music and special effects, all displayed on a competitive circuit that’s unknown to virtually everyone who doesn’t have a kid participating. And those competitions are dominated by a handful of large, wealthy suburban schools with booster clubs that don’t mind paying top dollar for special-team coaching and flag-squad uniforms designed to sparkle just so under stadium lights. And other things. Lest you think I exaggerate, one proprietor of band-supplies store told me about an effect used by a Carmel school a year or two previous — a piece of fabric nearly the length of the field, called a “fly,” that required special equipment to launch. The thing was shot in the air, it gracefully unfurled just so, and it drifted over the field, hiding the band from the audience’s eyes for a few seconds before settling in a puddle on the other side. While the band was hidden, it was scrambling into a new formation, so that when the fly landed, ooh, look!

Rumored cost of the fly effect: $100,000. Ryan Murphy, the creator of “Glee,” is an Indianapolis native. While his fictional school is set in Ohio, their nemesis, Vocal Adrenaline, goes to Carmel High.

So, back to Saturday night. The middle-schoolers went first, the talent preview, the scouting report. And then it was time for all the high-school groups, and there were many — the Beginning Women, the Advanced Women, the Men’s Glee, the Pointe Singers — men’s, women’s, combined. (The concert ran for two hours. Tickets were $15, not including the afterglow at one of the nicer restaurants in town.)

Everyone was so good it made your heart ache. The women sang like angels, starting with a couple of numbers that showcased their control before breaking it up with a little musical comedy — “I Wonder if I Love That Boy Too Much,” a doo-wop number about stalking. (If it’s unfamiliar to you, that’s because it’s one of those numbers written for show choirs. Not so many current pop songs; sorry, Gleeks.) The boys’ big showstopper was “The History of Rap,” a medley that ran from the Sugarhill Gang through Jay-Z, and managed to get within sight of minstrelsy, but stopped short enough to remain inoffensive, if you’re not offended by nearly 30 boys, nearly all of them white, tho’in’ it down to “California Love.”

And the choreography! If you think it’s step-ball-change and an occasional grapevine move, well, it’s a bit more complicated than that. Quite a bit. Which reminded me of another thing that came out during the state-board investigation — that practices routinely run from after school to 11 p.m. That the reaction among her boosters boiled down to, “What? You think this stuff comes easily?” says a lot about the state of these non-athletic extracurriculars, not just choir, but band, theater, and all the rest. The quality of the performance rises steadily; this was honestly as good as a lot of musical theater I’ve seen. The question is, are you willing to pay the price?

Kate likes choir, but she’s not taking it next year, and besides, her high school’s program is, frankly, not in this league. She’s going with music theory and will (I hope) learn composition. Which I also hope will serve her throughout her life.

I’m so late it’s not even funny. So a quick bloggage scan:

Tomorrow marks the fifth anniversary of the last time Clarence Thomas opened his mouth during Supreme Court oral arguments:

If he is true to form, Justice Thomas will spend the arguments as he always does: leaning back in his chair, staring at the ceiling, rubbing his eyes, whispering to Justice Stephen G. Breyer, consulting papers and looking a little irritated and a little bored. He will ask no questions.

Thanks, Bush 42! 41!

Another great Dear Sugar advice column you should read. Aimed at people in their 20s, but good advice no matter what the age.

Happy Valentine’s Day, all. I’m off to work like a field hand.

Posted at 10:17 am in Current events |

49 responses to “Gleeful.”

  1. bobolink said on February 14, 2011 at 10:56 am

    Thank you so much for leading me to Sugar. Her observations are spot-on and valuable.

    Also, re: Glee. If they paid the royalties for the current songs they sing, they’d be performing in a garage under a bare bulb in rags, un-accompanied.

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  2. Suzanne said on February 14, 2011 at 11:24 am

    Ah, show choir. My daughter lasted two years, before she told the director to have a nice life. He was all B. Knight–the later years; which means all blow but nothing to show for it. The choir was horrible and he ruined more voices than 20 years of smoking cigarettes. They never won much of anything, but he always blamed it on the judges; not the fact that the choir stunk. My favorite number at a competition? The “guys” number (choir parents will know what I mean) which consisted of all the young men in ugly purple suits singing “Hallelujah! It’s Raining Men” while the young lady sitting next to me in the audience, agast, said to me, “This makes me think of, you know, homosexuals!” You truly can’t make this stuff up.

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  3. Catherine said on February 14, 2011 at 11:28 am

    My best friend from college and I have the “what would you tell your 20-year-old self” conversation all the time. One of our big ones is, “You don’t just marry the guy, you marry the family.”

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  4. Jeff Borden said on February 14, 2011 at 11:31 am

    Ah, sweet Clarence, who Bush I famously described as the most qualified candidate for the bench in all our wide and fair land.

    I could live with his intellectual cowardice, illuminated by both his refusal to speak and his hipbone to hipbone connection to Scalia. What rankles more is the stench created by his nutty wife’s active and prominent career among ultra-conservative groups pushing things that might well someday wind up before the SCOTUS.

    So, Clarence is not only an intellectual coward, but a walking (if not talking) example of conflict of interest.

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  5. Amy said on February 14, 2011 at 11:32 am

    Does Show Choir have any foothold anywhere other than the midwest?? I’ve never encountered it – especially at an intense level – anywhere else but there.

    K was not in show choir in Fort Wayne, but she had lots of friends at Luers who were (South Side could never really do much with it) so we went to a couple of competitions, just to see. My experience there was that it wasn’t the suburban schools that nailed it – it was the smaller town schools where (I presumed) there wasn’t much else to do? Finley (OH) always seemed to dominate, in my recollection.

    My favorite was one choir’s (I think it was Finley, as a matter of fact) production of a segment I *think* is from Forever Plaid – a ten minute rendition of the Ed Sullivan Show? Spectacular. Very entertaining.

    But thank God she didn’t do it – Debate was bad enough, with the bleary 5 am gatherings at the South Side parking lot on Saturday mornings to drive to Muncie or something. Theater strikes me as better – less intense. Perhaps because there’s not much of a competition element involved (although there are drama competitions, too…)

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  6. MichaelG said on February 14, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Wow! I didn’t know all that about glee clubs. I had some vague idea about band and cheerleader competitions but that was about it. That stuff was never on the radar when I was in high school nor was it there when my daughter was in highschool. There’s a big world out there.

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  7. Jen said on February 14, 2011 at 11:59 am

    I went to DeKalb High School and was in the backup band for the school’s nationally ranked showchoir for two years. It was an insane amount of work, and I just stood in the back and played the keyboard. The amount of money they spent on props, costumes, tanning and travel was insane. A lot of that money came from very rich people in Auburn who liked to support the arts, and the rest came from charging an arm and a leg to participate in showchoir. (There weren’t really poor people in the showchoir.) The amount of hours we spent practicing, traveling and competing was amazing.

    I was also in the marching band and jazz band at DeKalb, and I just couldn’t do it all, so I quit showchoir after two years with a lot of great memories, a couple of good friends and absolutely no regrets. I spent several Saturdays on buses and sitting around random high schools waiting to perform. We’d leave at ridiculously early times in the morning, drive for hours, perform, wait around, perform again in the night show and ride the bus back to the school, routinely getting home at 4 or 5 a.m. And, yes, the practices sometimes did last until 11 p.m. on a school night. The worst thing was that I was a freshman and a sophomore and my parents had to drive me to and from school for practices and competitions, and it was a bitch to try to figure out exactly when I’d be ready to be picked up. I believe showchoir was the main reason we originally got cell phones.

    All this work and money means DeKalb has one of the best showchoirs in the country – they’ve won numerous national competitions and are ranked 17th in the country on one showchoir ranking website. And, I have to say, their director, Shelley Johnson, is tough but wonderful. No stapler-throwing temper tantrums, although she was incredibly tough on the choir members and required incredible devotion. When I watch Glee, I always laugh about the fact that I was part of a showchoir that resembled the rich, evil showchoir.

    Marching band was a slightly different story – we didn’t do as well because we didn’t have as much money because they didn’t charge as much to be a part of the marching band and the practices weren’t quite as long (although they were still incredibly arduous). Our band still went to the state finals every year I was in it, and finished as high as fifth in our class (I think). Marching band also let everyone, including fat, uncoordinated kids like me, be in it – I would have had a heck of a time getting into the showchoir, even though I have a decent singing voice. My parents also loved marching band a lot more – the competitions ran on time, they didn’t have “day” and “night” shows at competitions and practices got done at a specific time.

    I enjoyed both showchoir and marching band, as well as the other extracurricular activities I did (mostly band related). For me, I needed that creative outlet and things to do so that I wouldn’t get bored … because it’s very easy to get bored around here.

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  8. prospero said on February 14, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    practices routinely run from after school to 11 p.m.

    The NCAA allows scholarship football players 20 hrs. per week of athletics related activities. So these people are engaged in some level of insanity that can’t possibly be good for teenagers.

    If a HS football or basketball coach tried to pull crap like seven or eight hour practice sessions, he’d be ridden out of town on a rail, and no school board would ever employ him again. In fact, a college coach who tried it would enter the Seventh Circle of NCAA probation hell, and no athletic director would ever consider touching the jerk with a ten-foot pole, not even in hoops, where gross miscreants cheat like hell and still land good jobs all the time. Just ask Coach Calipari and the weasel Pitino. This woman Nancy’s talking about is obviously a self-aggrandizing whack-job like those two that couldn’t care less about the kids she’s in charge of, from whom those kids need protection. If their parents won’t do something, they should be investigated by the state’s family services apparatus.

    Who is ever going to hire Rich Rodriguez, for example? Well somebody will, but he’s going to have to lower his sights.

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  9. Catherine said on February 14, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    Wow, Jen, I’m surprised that there were fees to participate in show choir? In CA, public schools can’t charge fees for extracurricular activities.

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  10. alex said on February 14, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    One of our hoitier suburban schools calls its show choir “Minstrel Magic.” Music teachers of my acquaintance used to call it Menstrual Magic in honor of the Bobby Knight-like former director whose raging temper eventually got her shitcanned, or so I’ve heard.

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  11. Julie Robinson said on February 14, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    The marching band/show choir pairing is very accurate. Both have become all-consuming in many schools and that’s a real shame, since participation precludes other extracurriculars. Back in my small school I could be in band, choir, theatre, speech, and sports. It meant for juggling but I got to try out all kinds of interests. Kids today don’t get that same opportunity.

    True story: in one of the wealthy districts here in the Fort, the show choir teacher cannot be laid off. It’s in the master contract with the district.

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  12. prospero said on February 14, 2011 at 12:23 pm


    I was at Holy Cross when Clarence Thomas was there. I believe there were eight black kids enrolled at that time. Justice Thomas’ account to the Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearings about his time there bears little resemblance to my recollections. It was Spring, 1970, and the Kent State shootings precipitated a campus shutdown, and a clamorous walkout by the six-member Black Student Union, in tactical gear and boots. This actually meant something, because those guys had been hand-picked for a scholarship program. Thomas claims to have taken part, but I think he wishes he had the balls to risk his scholarship and is just kind of making stuff up.

    Anyway, I find it hard to believe, based on his subsequent legal career, that he cared much about Kent State, and anything at all about the war, or emerging liberal black politics. He has expressed a belief, in no uncertain terms, that high school students are not guaranteed a right to free speech by the Constitution.

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  13. Suzanne said on February 14, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    Catherine @ 9, oh, yes, there were fees! My daughter went to a rural school, and it cost around $400 for costumes,etc. Crazy. Sometimes the competitions were hours away and we didn’t return until the wee hours of the morning.
    And Alex @ 10, the Lady B. Knight choir director of Minstral Magic fame went on to another local school to do the same there. DeKalb was always impressive at competitions, but I figured they had mega $$$. The schools that don’t, really can’t compete, sadly.
    It truly is a sort of subculture and one I’m glad to no longer be a part of.

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  14. nancy said on February 14, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    I’m starting to think this personality is a template for show choir teachers in general.

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  15. Jim G said on February 14, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    So, basically, “Glee” the TV show would be a lot more realistic if Jane Lynch’s character were in charge of the glee club? Sounds about right to me.

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  16. MarkH said on February 14, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    Clinton was 42, but who’s counting anymore.

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  17. nancy said on February 14, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    You say it here, it comes out there. Fixed! And thanks.

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  18. MichaelG said on February 14, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    This show choir thing is a new world for me. I had no idea. I’m not sure who gains what from the whole experience. What do the kids and the school take away from all this other than having stories to tell over beers for the rest of their lives? I’m inclined to agree with Prospero. It sounds horrible and the idea of having to regularly pick up my kid from an after school event at some to be established time between 8:00 PM and 11:00 PM after six or eight hours of “practice” is a total nonstarter.

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  19. Bitter Scribe said on February 14, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    My brief experience as a stepparent of students involved in school music (instrumental, not vocal) taught me that music directors can be every bit as egomaniacal, driving and occasionally insufferable as football or other sports coaches, for similar reasons:

    –They’re under intense competitive pressure;
    –They have to get people working as a team;
    –They have a lot of parents breathing down their necks who know (or think they know) about the subject at hand.

    These are not excuses, just explanations.

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  20. coozledad said on February 14, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    My concert choir teacher was pretty laid back. Inebriation.
    There were times when she was a little emotional, but I would have been too. The class was full of people who’d been mistakenly encouraged to believe they could sing. There were also always three or four young women competing in the same talent/beauty pageant calling each other “loglegs” or “fellatia”.
    The teacher was ambitious despite the vodka, and we mangled fairly complex works from Palestrina to Charles Ives. We also did a horror show of numbers from Porgy and Bess that would have made Al Jolson wince. I think the Porgy and Bess medley may have been paired with a few selections from Rogers and Hammerstein. I got to solo on both “There’s a Boat that’s Leavin’ Soon and Edelweiss. It could hardly have been worse if they’d segued into one another.

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  21. paddyo' said on February 14, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    Michael G @ 6 & 18, I had no idea, either, and I was in “choir” in HS. Of course, that was 40 years ago. Plus, I was in a Roman Catholic seminary (they no longer take them at age 14 like they did us). But choir wasn’t a competitive sport back then, either, at least not for us. Only once did we ever sing on a program with other high schools; outside of Mass and big-deal liturgial events, we just sang in-house at religious feast-day dinners, graduation, and other events.

    The great irony of that sole appearance with other high school choirs was that we, the supposed future priests, belted Broadway show tunes (“Camelot” was big) and Stephen Foster and a “Negro spiritual” or two, while the secular high schools meandered soberly through complicated polyphony (J.S. Bach et al.) and Gregorian-fucking-chant, in monk-like Latin of course. Hilarious. . .

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  22. Jolene said on February 14, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Until today, I’d never heard the term “show choir.” In the sticks, where I went to high school, you just had to show up to be in the choir, and we only sang, as paddyo’ says, at school events–a Christmas concert, a spring concert, graduation. There was a music contest, probably sponsored by the county, but, as I recall, that was mainly for soloists and smaller groups. I was, for instance, part of a triple trio, which is clearly evidence that the most modest level of musical talent would suffice.

    Can’t quite imagine what it would be like to be either a kid or a parent involved in this level of extracurricular activity. One of my sisters was an excellent basketball player (and valedictorian too). Some of her teammates were daughters of my parents’ friends, so the whole enterprise was a big focus of social life, but on one went nuts over it–as far as I could see. Mainly lots of good times and good stories, which is more than can be said for about 98% of my high school experience. I still remember the joy I felt walking down the aisle at graduating. Was so glad to be getting out, even though I had pretty much no idea of what would come next.

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  23. prospero said on February 14, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    Bitter Scribe,

    My point is that athletics coaches can’t get away with that sort of abuse. It’s appalling to me that choir directors can. It’s obviously not as physically grueling and potentially harmful as trying to practice football more than a couple of hours at a time, but emotionslly, academically, and in terms of general mental and physical health (you know, sleeping, it’s got to produce some serious wreckage.

    It’s also galling because I’d bet that many of these parents are adamant supporters of the view that there is too much emphasis placed and money spent on sports. A fraction of that $100grand for the special effects, could have bought inflatable-padding helmets for football players that would prevent concussions and spinal cord injuries.

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  24. LAMary said on February 14, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    We had a chorus at our high school but there was no money for anything elaborate. I’ve watched Glee a couple of times but can’t get into it. I watch it and think that school must be in an incredibly rich school district.
    My son had that after school ’till whenever schedule when he was on Academic Decathalon. Half day Saturdays as well. I think for him it worked out well. He certainly learned how to study effectively.

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  25. LAMary said on February 14, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Deborah, are you still sick? I’ve had this crap since Jan. 30 and I am beyond fed up. I need to get a good night’s sleep without waking up a half dozen times to cough my brains out. Every tooth in my head hurts. I’m going to the doctor today.

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  26. Jen said on February 14, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Showchoir, at least at DeKalb, wasn’t as bad as all that. They’d practice long hours when they practiced, but their after school/evening practice was only once or twice a week. Showchoir members also took showchoir as a class so they’d practice about an hour during the school day, plus their long after-school practice on Monday. When it got closer to competitions sometimes they’d sometimes add another practice on Thursday or Friday, but those long practices weren’t every day.

    And showchoir didn’t mean that you absolutely couldn’t be in any other activities. At DeKalb, there were a lot of athletes in the showchoir. Now, they couldn’t play basketball because their seasons overlapped too much, but a lot of the showchoir members played soccer or football or ran cross country or track. Ironically, at DeKalb the biggest fight was between the showchoir and the jazz band because they compete at the same time of the year. (Any conflicted DeKalb kids who want to do showchoir and jazz band can thank me for bringing that issue to light.) Other than a few activities that really conflicted, you could be in more than one, and a lot of kids did. As far as band went, not a lot of band kids were in athletics, but a lot of them participated in other band activities – jazz band, pep band, drumline and winter color guard – and did other activities like speech team or my sister’s favorite, Academic Super Bowl.

    I guess since I did it all and survived happily, I never thought it was that terrible. It takes a lot of commitment to be in most extracurricular activities, but I don’t necessarily see that as a bad thing. I think the most important thing is that parents make sure their children aren’t getting burned out or neglecting their school work, but juggling activities like that also teaches balance and prioritizing. While DeKalb didn’t do a terribly good job at challenging me academically or getting me ready to take college classes, doing all those extracurricular activities (with the guidance of my parents) did help me learn how to follow through on my commitments and balance school, work and other activities. In general, the actual skills I learned in my extracurricular activities from high school don’t help me much. About the only thing I still do is play piano for our church’s praise choir, which uses skills and techniques I learned from playing in the showchoir backup band. However, the life skills I learned really have been beneficial.

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  27. Julie Robinson said on February 14, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    I love Gregorian-effing-chant! It connects me to the ancient church, and has a peaceful effect.

    And say what you will about time-consuming activities, they can be a source of much learning, not just about music, but about teamwork and time management. And they keep kids busy after school much better than endless video games/trips to the mall.

    Mary, I’m glad you’re heading to the doctor. The coughing and teeth-hurting sound like you might have a sinus infection on top of your other ailments. My DH gets them and they are tough to beat; he often needs two rounds of antibiotics. Note that I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV.

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  28. Little Bird said on February 14, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    LAMary, she is still sick, but I think she went in to work today. She had to. She has started to sound better though, so that’s good.
    I don’t remember which one of you guys here told Deborah to go ahead and go to Les Miz, but THANK YOU!!! We go on Wednesday and I can’t wait!
    I hope she feels better by then…

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  29. Bitter Scribe said on February 14, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    propsero: Oh, I don’t doubt that there is potential for abuse (or actual abuse). I just think it’s funny that school musicians and football players, who usually are thought of as poles apart, are subjected to similar kinds of pressures, as are their faculty leaders.

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  30. Jolene said on February 14, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    And they keep kids busy after school much better than endless video games/trips to the mall.

    Or worse things. Lots of the trouble kids get into occurs between the time they get out of school and the time their parents get home from work.

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  31. Dexter said on February 14, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    Jen, what became of Lincoln Slentz of DeKalb High and Purdue University? Last I heard he was headed out to audition for Dancing with the Stars. His dad was a high school pal of mine.

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  32. Catherine said on February 14, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    You know, some would say that most kids today — athletes, musicians, geeks or student government types — are under an immense amount of pressure. Has anyone else seen Race to Nowhere? Here’s a link to the trailer:
    It’s not just showchoir or whatever the hot extracurricular is at your kid’s school, nor is it just the crazy directors, though they certainly exist.

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  33. Jolene said on February 14, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    On another topic, are we all happy to be living in a country where, after having passed a tax program that provides billions in tax benefits for the well-to-do, we are now presented with a budget that involves cutting heating assistance for low-income people?

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  34. Sue said on February 14, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    Jolene: this is from our President, no less. This is supposed to represent the reasonable view.
    The unreasonable view is that he doesn’t go far enough.

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  35. Jolene said on February 14, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    You know, some would say that most kids today — athletes, musicians, geeks or student government types — are under an immense amount of pressure.

    Some kids, maybe, but I don’t know about most kids. Like every damn thing, both benefits and suffering are inequitably distributed. Some kids may get lots of pressure to perform, but those kids most likely get a lot of support and recognition for their performance as well. Lots of kids–way too many–not only don’t get support or encouragement, but face lots of obstacles. And their school performance and school completion rates show it.

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  36. Catherine said on February 14, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    I hear you, Jolene, and that was one reaction I had to the film. The filmmakers did attempt to look at the issue across economic and social lines but it’s hard not to see their framing of the problem as an upper middle class white folks’ dilemma. It does have some interesting expert interviews, and I think is a contribution to the dialogue.

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  37. del said on February 14, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    G.W. Bush — that’s 43 right? — nominated a judge to the federal bench with a publicly professed fondness for both theology and Gregorian chant. The nominee was, allegedly, a libertine. Julie Robinson’s reference to Gregorian-effing chant reminded me of him.

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  38. LAMary said on February 14, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    I know the teeth thing is sinuses. The trigeminal nerves are something I’m too familiar with. Between toothaches and hacking and barfing, I’m ready for a big dose something strong. I’m home today, marking my fifth sick day in five years.

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  39. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 14, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    Jolene #35 & the follow-on at #36 — Amen.

    I think Roger Ebert on Twitter got the classic Justice Thomas comment off, noting simply that it was the fifth anniversary of the last time either of them have spoken in public.

    If you don’t know why Roger hasn’t spoken in public these last five years, a little Google will fill you in — look for the Esquire profile link.

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  40. Julie Robinson said on February 14, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    Oh del, please don’t compare me to anything GWB did, I would like to keep my bleeding-heart liberal status. The best thing he did was to leave office.

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  41. del said on February 14, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    Sorry, Julie, your word choice was just too perfect — Gregorian and effing. Rich.

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  42. Deborah said on February 14, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    LA Mary, as Little Bird says I am back at work, but definitely still sick, better than before but still hacking my head off all day long and night too (all loose and rumbly now) and blowing my nose constantly, even with medication. The poor people who sit near me that have to listen to it must be sick to death of it. Just wait till they get it, how can they not? My husband is also sick as a dog. I was out 2 1/2 days last week, was flat out Saturday and then Sunday I had to go in and work for about 6 hours. My teeth hurt too. I thought I was clenching them or something but of course you’re right about sinuses, I never thought of that. Ours started last weekend while we were in NY. I’ve got the headache especially when I stoop over.

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  43. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 14, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    If either of you, Deborah or LAMary, get a referral to an ENT, let them scope your sinuses — polyps can be a real problem, said the guy who had a dozen of them taken out a year ago Christmas. I had no idea how sick the chronic sinus infections were making me (the polyps make them both more frequent, and harder to kill even with high end antibiotics); I think I’d spent the previous five years jogging with one foot in a lead bucket and with a plastic bag over my head. The recuperation was a week, but the after-effects are just amazing.

    Like breathing, and sleeping.

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  44. alex said on February 14, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    Well, the new government building has a name and it isn’t Harry Baals. Alas. It has been named for a man whose name used to be invoked anytime anyone wanted to rant about stick-up-the-butt backwater conservatives who insist on making this place remain the piss poor podunk that it is.

    Actually, in reviewing some of the accomplishments in his obituary, I think he’s rather a very worthy choice. (And a smart one—it saves the city some face on its dubious spin about Baals not being a county official which is oh so necessary for a combined city/county facility. And it’s an elegant name, almost effete-ish, which should satisfy those who were so worried about what outsiders might think of our little burg. “Oh, it must be named for that Jean-Jacques guy, the philosopher. Ain’t that a university town, Fort Wayne?”)

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  45. brian stouder said on February 14, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    Alex, it appears that that name is for the City County building, and not for the “W&D”s/Rennaisance Square building (which was the subject of the Harry Balls poll) (so to speak)

    I’ll root for any of the names you underlined a day or two ago

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  46. alex said on February 14, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    Why, you’re right, Brian. And I’m the one with all the pride about having been a proofreader. Well, good. We may see some Baals yet.

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  47. Rana said on February 14, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    One weird side effect of those over-scheduled kids is that they don’t know how to handle unscheduled time when they hit college. Either they sign up for so many extra-curriculars that they fry under the pressure, or they get anxious and depressed when they finally have a bit of breathing room without someone telling what to do and when and where.

    When I was a kid, being bored – and finding ways to cope with that on our own – was an essential part of growing up. It’s a bit worrying thinking that we’re looking at a generation that doesn’t know how to deal with free time without outside help.

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  48. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 15, 2011 at 8:36 am

    Got to 22 over Watson’s 8, gotta run to Columbus for the day — good luck anyone else who wants to try!

    (Oh, and it would have been 25 to 5, but the app is utterly unforgiving of spelling errors.)

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  49. brian stouder said on February 15, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    I won, 18-17 –

    I had a wider lead, but then spent it all on the category I saved (or put-off) for last, which was music-related.

    But indeed, it was a fun bonbon

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