Calendars (desk for 2022): Peanuts; The Good Advice
Andrews McMeel. $16.99 each.
Desks are in a bit of a quandary nowadays.
The COVID-19 pandemic and its lockdowns led many “desk workers” to leave their
offices, under duress or not, and work from home – maybe on kitchen tables,
living-room furniture, beds, or other locations besides desks (although some of
course could work on home desks). The increasing use of portable computers,
from laptops to tablets to mobile phones (which nowadays are computers in
miniature), has left people far less tethered to desks than in the past. There has
even been talk of standard office work, including desk work, becoming obsolete
as society, at least for “knowledge workers,” becomes more mobile.
Realistically, that is not going to happen: a few years back there was talk of
a “paperless office” as computer technology improved, but what happened was
actually an increase in the volume of paper and
an increase in paperless work. Yet certainly some aspects of the relationship
between people and desks have been modified recently, and some new approaches
have taken hold.
Still, there remains a definite value to a
physical location around which work centers and at which work can be done
consistently and hopefully without significant interruptions from, say,
children and cats. Certainly there remains value for many people in desktop
computers, in part because their available large screens offer far more viewing
space than anything portable can provide and make multi-window use, graphic
design and other aspects of work much easier. Along similar lines, there
remains considerable value in desktop calendars, or “monthly/weekly planners,”
as they are now often called. Combine the space they offer for writing
appointments and notes, the organizational capacity they provide in a way very
different from that found in electronic appointment calendars, and the
enjoyment they can deliver through extraneous but pleasing graphic elements,
and you have calendars that definitely serve a functional and enjoyable purpose. And they do so with design elements that are
different enough to attract people with all sorts of varying preferences. The
16-month Peanuts desktop planner, for
example, offers a full year-and-a-third (September 2021-December 2022) of Sunday
comics from Charles Schulz’s classic strip – those are the extended, six-to-10-panel
ones in which there is time and space for more character development and a
longer build-up to the final, climactic panel than in the briefer daily strips.
The Peanuts strips appear at the top
of each right-hand page in this nicely designed, open-flat book. The rest of
that page and the entire left-hand page are given over to space for making
notes – every day of every week gets the same amount of space, so weekend and
vacation plans can be as easily noted as work meetings and requirements. Taking
this calendar along during a work or pleasure trip is easy, too, and its built-in
bookmark lets you keep track of where you are in the year, or where you need to
make further notes. The colors chosen for this 2021-2022 planner are
particularly pleasant – black and white and maroon – and will make it enjoyable
to look at throughout the entire 16-month period that it covers.
If you prefer somewhat more-up-to-date cartoon characters and a somewhat “funkier” design, consider a 16-month calendar featuring The Good Advice Cupcake, an Internet creation that has made a successful transition to the physical world along with a pet cat named Sprinkles (they both appear on the calendar’s cover). Cuppy the cupcake is particularly noteworthy for often being almost foul-mouthed, favoring four-letter and other curse words in which one letter has been replaced by an asterisk. There aren’t any of those in this desktop planner, though (except for one on the cover). In fact, there is no “good advice” here at all, except by implication: the illustrations (larger ones at the bottom right of each right-hand page, smaller ones at the top left of each left-hand page) are strictly pictorial. And they are often very funny and/or cute: for example, one showing Cuppy and Sprinkles wrapped in a blanket, with only their faces showing, is perfect for the January week in which it appears. This calendar’s design is different from that of the Peanuts desktop calendar in several ways: The Good Advice Cupcake book is spiral-bound, does not include a bookmark, does include a pouch on the inside back cover (handy for keeping receipts and such), and has space on every two-page spread not only for daily jottings and notes but also for “kick-ass habits” – which users are welcome to define as they wish. There is more bounce and brightness here than in the Peanuts planner, more use of multiple colors throughout, less room for actually writing things down, perhaps a greater sense of playfulness and a lesser one of character development and thoughtfulness. The reality, though, is that both these desktop offerings have a great deal to recommend them – probably to different people, or at least to people who want to show different sides of themselves when working at two different desks. Oh yes, two desks, perhaps one at an office and one at home, remain the norm for plenty of people, and that is unlikely to change even as technology continues to advance. The ability to find two highly functional desktop calendar books with designs and appearances as different as the 2021-2022 Peanuts and The Good Advice Cupcake planners shows that it remains quite possible, and quite desirable, for desks – wherever they are located – to reflect the personalities, not just the work assignments, of the people who use them.