As you may have heard, Paul Reubens, the writer and actor who created the character Pee-wee Herman, died recently.
He was a complicated and subversive artist, whose character — somewhat like Reubens himself — vacillated from simple childhood joys to campiness and sometimes darker matters.
Pee-wee's Playhouse Christmas Special is a family tradition at my house. After the big opening number with a cavalcade of guest stars, we find Pee-wee revising his Christmas letter to Santa — an epic catalog of everything he can think of. It's so long that it just about crashes his robot, Conky 2000.
Naturally, I was reminded of his expansive wish list in these early stages of the UAW's negotiations with the Detroit 3. In early August, President Shawn Fain outlined 10 major "members' demands," such as defined benefit pensions and eliminating the eight-year ramp to full pay that he considers a lower "tier" of employee status. Beyond those core items, he also talked about ideas such as paring back to a 32-hour workweek.
That one likely provoked some sardonic chuckles from automaker executives and factory managers who might say that rampant absenteeism means many already are punching in only four days a week.