Enough With The Chaos Bringing!

Wow. Cap is really pissed about random nonsense…!

I drew this during a meeting that shouldn’t have happened on Tuesday afternoon. That is to say…that the teacher contract is VERY clear about the criteria by which an after work hours Faculty Meeting can be called. The meeting needs to be announced to the staff 24 hours in advance, with time for the Faculty to add or suggest agenda items.

That didn’t happen. It was announced the day of the meeting, which is not contractually appropriate.

Our Union Chapter Chair, who is more concerned with his own political career than anything else, had nothing to say about it.

Contracts just don’t matter if you don’t follow them. Hence, my ongoing beef with the Union. This is a thing that he should have “stood up” about, but refrained from doing so. Considering that I didn’t strike, and want out of the Union, I didn’t feel that I should call him to task on this. That’s just good taste on my part.

Tuesday was a mildly frustrating day, with that being a part of it. Most of Tuesday dealt with everyone else’s poor planning somehow became my problem, which always bugs me to the extreme. It wasn’t just this meeting, but the meeting was at the end of it.

Art wise…the Gruul Clans on Ravnica are all about chaos, and randomness, and generally @#$%ing @#$% up, an it seemed like Cap (and I) would be super tired of that. Seriously, you have a bunch of magic metal covered mummies running in through a dimensional portal, you DON’T @#$%ing need random @#$ vandals from your own dimension screwing up the place. That’s a pretty strict corollary to having two weeks left, and not needing random nonsense on your school campus.

I considered giving Cap a speech balloon, but her poster and her willingness to punch Domri Rade with a Silver Age Left clearly illustrated to me how @#$%ing pissed she was. I felt that she was clearly expressing the view toward so called “Chaos Bringers” through body language, and her clear willingness to bounce a planeswalker with a mohawk off of a nearby wall.

Just saying.


Unexpected Clean Up Work.

You’d think that she suplexed that thing, but she’s ominously holding that ice cream scoop…

I imagine that such an abstract, multi eyed nonsense monster could easily have been conjured up by Nicol Bolas. Or summoned forth from the sewers of Ravnica, which is where this looks like it took place. The Golgari (who run the sewers and recycling of Ravnica), were allied with Bolas in this story arc, at least for much of “War of the Spark,” so it makes a kind of sense.

That’s not really what this is about.

This is a heavy handed metaphor for a major task, that is really important, that I had to deal with. A kind of sewer task, a “garbage man of education” feature that no one really likes to put too much focus onto. It is the last two weeks or so of school, and the grades for Seniors need to be entered by Thursday. That’s so eligibility for graduation can be determined, grades reported to colleges, and so forth. It’s important.

I teach Tenth Grade English, though. How do I have to do a kind of “garbage pick up” related to this? Very glad you asked. I have a small but irreducible number of Seniors who are taking my course as a kind of “last chance” make up class. Pass it, or don’t graduate. It’s the sort of untold secret in education, that electives can be bumped in order to have this kind of diploma driven “do over.”

Usually, the students making up my class as Seniors are very highly motivated, and a real pleasure to have in class. They “got it.” After making bad decisions as underclassmen, maybe being at odds with another teacher’s personality, they toughed it out, sticking with school and changing things so that they could make a serious change. It is hard to keep from dropping out with a number of fails under your belt, so these students tend to go above and beyond, because that’s the sort of “revelation” that they have had. That’s how it typically goes.

This year, I have a significant percentage of the group that doesn’t come to school, doesn’t do work, and STILL thinks that I am going to pass them. It has been a tough couple of weeks lately, making it VERY CLEAR to that group that they need to show up, and turn in some make up work, or I will not in fact, pass them. At this point, all of those students are ON NOTICE, and their grades are more or less finalized, unless they get material to me within the next two days.

In other words, the big abstract sewer monster has been defeated, as it were. And really, it is a sort of “dirty secret,” this idea that students have that they just have to go through some motions, and the system will eventually promote them. It’s not like they don’t have a foundation for believing that, because that is very much how California schools currently function. With schools concerned about Graduation Rates and College Readiness, teachers are encouraged to pass students, and pass them with C grades if possible.

In my class, you get the grade that you EARN.

Which is to say that there are multiple possibilities to bring your grade up, to make real changes. You just have to actually give a @#$% about the process, and actually care about getting your work done, and in. I’ll happily work with that, that’s what teaching is…helping students to understand the content. But…students who expect to do an “extra credit assignment” and have that be their grade…um…NO.

That’s too disrepectful to the hardworking students that care. I’m not about to do that.

Art wise, the Kirbyesque abstract fantasy monster was hugely fun to draw. Cap looks both depressed and angry, which is really how I feel about the small number of students that I’m needing to press into last minute work. It’s not like I don’t stay after school EVERY day, so it’s easy enough to deal with me. You’ll note that Cap seems to have used an ice cream scoop to deal with that monster.

That’s right. An ice cream scoop. Obviously a metal one. At least one long time reader of the strip should appreciate that, and the reference to “New Mexico Jack and The Curse of the Laminated Supermodels.”

With that, I can only say…”Excelsior.”

The Silent Treatment.

She seems to be holding a bit of a grudge here…

As we enter another Monday, I’m doing another post basically about nothing. Monday hasn’t happened yet at the time of the art and of the posting, so I really can’t be too agitated about anything. With that said, it looks to be a big week.

By “big week,” I mean that a few pretty important things are happening. First off, there’s the Senior Grades. Those are due on Thursday, because graduation eligibility needs to be figured out. I teach Tenth Grade, so that isn’t as a big a deal for me. I have a very small number of Seniors taking my class, and those that are tend to be doing pretty well. There is only one student who is in any debate on that subject, and I’ll have to deal with that person today.

They can save themselves, but it’s going to be close.

Also, on Friday we have Prom. I’m kind of amazed that we are that close to the end of the year already, but we are. There’s a really small number of days left, with graduation happening at the end of the first week of June, I believe. I’m always taking work in, so I tend to have a “right up to the minute” class. The “drop dead date” for late work, however, is also Friday…the same day as Prom.

Normally I make more of a fuss out of what I’m going to wear to Prom, but this year I didn’t have it in me, as it were. The Seniors really stood on my last nerve during the strike Days, and I really have had substantial trouble letting that go. There’s a few students that would like to see me there, and I’m going out of respect for that, but it’s not like I’m getting a new outfit for it.

The art is about this odd state of mind, really. Cap feels mildly betrayed by Ral Zarek, but isn’t crazy upset about it…they aren’t fighting or anything. He’s not in danger of being tossed into Ravnica’s sun. Cap has paperwork to do, but not a massive amount of it…kind of like my need to work out senior grades, and catch up on other grading. It’s all about the idea of just…getting the stuff done that you have to, regardless of the circumstances.

It is entirely possible that today’s events will produce a much more interesting post tomorrow. We shall see.

To all of you Gentle Readers…I hope that your Monday is uneventful. Sometimes, that’s best.

Let’s Just Be (Super) Friends….

You’d think she’d be more angry…

The title of today’s post comes from the idea of a “super friends” deck in Magic: The Gathering. That’s pretty much a planeswalker heavy deck, because those are the “superheroes” of the game. It’s also a play on “let’s just be friends,” because Ral Zarek has clearly cut loose Cap.

This weekend, I met up with three old friends, and we played a “sealed” format Magic: The Gathering game. “Sealed” is very similar format to the pre-release events (which are, in fact, a kind of sealed event). The idea is that we each get a limited number of sealed packs, open them, and build decks from the cards that we have. The rule for the event was that all packs were “War of the Spark,” and all decks were three colors.

The games were four player games, making them long, and filled with table politics.

The newest player to the game actually arguably had the roughest deck. It was pretty odd having to explain the subtlety of the order of play, or when a given card can be used, to a person who was straight up running the table and kicking our asses. The thing is, “reading the card explains the card,” and he’s a pretty smart guy. It was the game mechanics that were holding him up, nothing else.

In fact, two of the decks used Ral Zarek, an excellent planeswalker. Ral is a threat from the moment that he hits the board, and he lets the player using him basically optimize both their draw step and any non creature cards that they play. Both of those things are a big deal, and very hard to deal with. In addition, Ral himself gets very very hard to remove, and I just wasn’t playing any cards that made that easy to do. I would have, given the format, but I simply didn’t crack any in the packs that I had.

The newest player had Ral and brought him out in BOTH marathon games, making that deck a looming threat for both games. At one point, another player had his own Ral Zarek, and that was just out of hand.

I didn’t win either game, but was very competitive in both. All in all, a good day with old friends, and time well spent.

Obviously, that’s what the art was all about. Ral just wandering off with two other players, probably at the behest of Nicol Bolas, and them all being really into it. It’s very fair to notice that everyone seems to have taken some time out from the whole @#$%ing Dreadhorde Invasion and Spark War here for a kind of Archie comics moment…that’s worth noting. Also, Cap literally just Mega-Suplexed an Elite Eternal Undead Warrior, and now seems okay just sort of pining after Ral Zarek.

Ral’s kind of like the smart fraternity guy of Ravnica. I guess she’s into him because he’s good looking and reasonably clever, but honestly, it’s hard to tell why she isn’t just suplexing the @#$% out of him. Maybe that has to do with the fact that I couldn’t remove either of those @#$%ing cards from play today.

From the goggles, I’m suggesting that the two ladies hanging out with Ral are from the Izzet League (the Blue/Red Guild), which should make them super intelligent, or at least clever. It’s hard to tell that, because Ral doesn’t seem to be exhibiting massive Game Levels in Panel One. Again…it could be that he’s just clever and good looking, a lot of the Izzet League are pretty Gandalf or Dumbledore style wizards with a steampunk vibe. You’d like to think that equally clever women would look past that, sure…but Ral is reasonably charming.

Or at least an excellent card to play. Maybe they see THAT.

The Ravnican Eternal Suplex.

She looks pretty happy about having suplexed that Amonkhet Eternal…

It’s Friday. Today I will go through my lessons, which right now are about reading and understanding “practical, real world documents,” and attempt to get through this massive stack of grading that I have managed to accumulate. We are one week (exactly) away from the “drop dead” date for late work on my rolling late policy, and that means that the school year is almost done.

Prom is also in a week, but that is a side issue.

The grading is as efficient as it can be, which is part of Cap’s metaphor. With essays, I have all sorts of sorting tactics and tricks that streamline the process, making it as fast and minimalist as possible, but the reality is that each student paper does need to get dealt with one at a time. It’s not unlike Cap’s suplex complaint above…if there is an army of those magic metal covered Eternals attacking Ravnica, it’s just plain inefficient to individually suplex them. Satisfying to draw, though, and she’s clearly satisfied by it.

In terms of grading, I’m needing to handle bulk batches right now, and fast. It happens with teaching, all the time. Teachers who are new, or teachers that never developed a “system,” wind up taking massive stacks home with them. It’s not pretty.

This also does have a Magic: The Gathering metaphor, as well. My students are playing a huge number of “War of the Spark” cards, hyped about the new release. That means that “amass” is on the table a lot…and that is a game mechanic that produces an Eternal Army Token, which gets bigger each time you amass. In that vein, it is actually quite common for me to have to individually wreck up an Eternal Army Token, and then do it again, and again.

So in truth, Cap and I actually have very similar problems, in metaphor. We both have to deal with a repetitive process of dealing with the same thing over and over, by the same method. It’s not hard, as such, but it does take time, because of the sheer number of those things involved.

That’s today’s heavy handed metaphor, True Believers.

Enter The Hipster Gods.

That’s how you know Bolas is really evil…

Today, I’m starting a new unit in class. It is the end of the year, and for the first time ever, I am trying to do a sort of “practical applications” unit at the end. A unit where the value of reading comprehension in your day to day life as an adult, or your business dealings after high school, are made somewhat clearer. It is pretty much inspired by my students’ assignments at the Senior class level, which are trying to do the same thing, but with very little real teaching.

All of that is not what the art is about.

the art, instead, is about one of my students’ decks. He did well in his draws on “War of the Spark,” and as a result is playing a pretty rough new deck involving the “God” cards that were inherited from the Egyptian themed “Amonkhet” block. All of those cards are empirically good, and very, very hard to remove from play. Even if you do, they just come back.

Like Hipsters.

As a result, I wanted to draw something that dealt with that frustration, and that’s what we have here. Not highbrow satire, but what we have today.

Today the grading window officially opens, and I am missing a huge amount of assignments. The endgame for final grades really begins now, and my students are addressing it with the level of concern that the Hipster Gods in panel two seem to have. That is to say, almost none at all.

As an important side note, Hipster Gods would be an infestation on Ravnica. The current mechanic states that unless you exile them (kick them out of the @#$%ing dimension) they just come back later, not really caring very much that you got rid of them. Like real Hipsters. We know that Ravnica has coffee, because in the actual story of the game, Jace likes it. So they WOULD just camp out at coffee shops, being hipsters.

So yeah, Cap and Sunset are very concerned.

A Gruuling Decision.

She’s trying to decide whether to chuck him through the pavement, or into the Sun.

It is Wednesday, and things have gone surprisingly well. With about three weeks to graduation, things are beginning to “wrap up” grade wise. My meeting with the Principal went beyond well…we now have a chapter of the National Honor Society, and have begun the process to get a much larger shipment of plush school mascots than I thought we were going to. Like…five times the order. He seemed to like the design of the little guy.

My students have a major assignment that was supposed to have been finished yesterday, but that was not in the cards. Today will have to be the completion day on that, with my “drop dead” date for all late work taking place on May 24th. Considering that it is the 15th today…that is very, very soon.

We did NOT have an after school Faculty Meeting, which was odd. With that said, I spent a bunch of time with the Principal, so I just asked him what it would have been about. It turns out that this one would have gotten my attention (and kept it) and will be something coming up. There is a method by which the state assesses schools, and it is BAD to have any two of the metrics on the chart in the “red” category. We have one that is red already, and a second (the category of “college and career ready”) that is close. Sort of a dark orange.

How do you get to Condition: Dark Orange in that category? Easy. Too many diplomas conferred with D grades as their basis. In California, you can get a diploma with D grades, but are not eligible for the Cal State or University of California systems of state schools for collegiate study. For those, a grade of C or higher is needed in all your core (“A through G” requirement) classes.

Obviously, the final grades are definitely related to this problem. It is tricky, though…there’s pressure to graduate students, and the competing pressure to have that mean something.

It’s not really pressure for ME though. I’m not the Principal, and I teach Tenth Grade English. Even if I fail a student, they have ample time to make up the class. The same could be done to erase a D grade.

I think that’s why Cap is torn about what to do with that Gruul Warrior. The Gruul are a massive tribe of barbaric idiots on Ravnica, where “War of the Spark” is set. Since their leader is dim witted, immature, and impulsive, he sides with Bolas and the Dreadhorde to wreck Ravnica, despite, you know…living there. You’d think that while a Horde of magic metal covered mummies pour forth from a planar bridge wrecking stuff, that you wouldn’t make it worse, but…some people, you know?

I have some students with that problem. Metaphorically, that is. They feel like passing with a D is good enough, without realizing how radically it curtails their options. I give a tiny number of D grades, for precisely that reason…it isn’t worth anything. It’s as shortsighted as rioting in the streets when a God Emperor brings his Dreadhorde to loot your dimension. You HAVE to assume that the situation isn’t stable, and won’t work out.

Unless you live completely in the moment. In that case…D grades and wrecking stuff in Ravnica might make sense.

I figure that Cap would have to deal with some of that Gruul nonsense while trying to deal with stuff in the Ravnica situation. You find a huge, supernaturally strong, nature loving barbarian just vandalizing stuff in the streets, that you’ve been trying to save, and it’s going to annoy you. (Similarly, campus tagging of impressive size annoyed me for the same reason this week). If I were Cap, I’d have to make a decision: hurl this guy through the @#$%ing street, which would be brutal, landing him in the Golgari Sewer system, or chuck him into the Sun? Or for that matter, through him at the Immortal Sun hanging in the sky, which is clearly an artifact made of Magic Metal of some kind? Each one could be just a casual decision for her, with far reaching consequences for that huge guy.

Final grades are a pretty similar decision.

Also, I completely worked over a student playing a Gruul Deck (green and red) that was pretty finely tuned, using my weird Goat Deck. It’s pretty humiliating to be bringing out barbarians and magical beasts, Major Hurt Lords, and to then lose to a person who is only concerned with Goats, more Goats. Ordinary Goats. Occasionally a shepherd of some kind.

So that influenced the art as well, for what it is worth.