Re: not neccessarily very good at brown-nosing...
@The Oncoming Scorn made me do it!
Xerox DTP system, was that the "Venturer" or similar named system that took 25 - 30 minutes to boot up to get to a operating point.
In 1987 I was taken on by a new special-interest magazine to learn Ventura Publisher and to get the magazine staff, whom I'd in general call "non-technical personnel", up to speed on it. I arrived of an afternoon, and my production guy said: "Please, can you fix the masthead page. They've been driving me crazy with suggestions." When everybody had left for the day, I duly turned on the 286 computer and waited, and waited ... it was easy to see what had happened: the creative types in the office were "try this", "no, try this" and my harried production guy, rather than erase something they might want to go back to, was continually introducing new elements to the page. Several of them were unprintable, in a margin, but they still took CPU time to place on the page. Solution: start with a blank page. Make reasonable assumptions about what is needed. Do it. 15 minutes, done. Times one person. Less time than the page had been taking to load. And certainly less time than four staff spending hours fiddling with it.
If they're so Creative, why can't they imagine how their suggestion will look on the page, and judge it without having to look at it?
So, Oncoming Scorn, your problem might have been exactly that one. An unnecessarily complex base page created in the early days and never torn down for efficiency. On a 386 or 486, Ventura might even have been called a speed demon. I enjoyed and marveled at loading a 400-page book in about a second.