Agatha Christie

It’s a Mystery

September 15, 2020

Any list of the greatest novelists of the last one hundred years would be incomplete without this person on it. She wrote 66 novels and 14 collections of short stories and also the world’s longest running play, Mousetrap.

Agatha Christie amid a stack of the
many books she has written

Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller was born on September 15, 1890. We know her as Agatha Christie. The Guinness World Records names her as the fiction author whose books have sold more than any other in history at over 2 billion copies. It’s the sort of success that aspiring novelists can only dream of.

Like most writers, it was a number of years after she began penning her stories before she was published. From the Infallible Wikipedia:

“At eighteen, Christie wrote her first short story, ‘The House of Beauty’, while recovering in bed from an illness. It consisted of about 6,000 words on ‘madness and dreams’, a subject of fascination for her. Her biographer, Janet Morgan, has commented that, despite ‘infelicities of style’, the story was ‘compelling’. (The story became an early version of her story ‘The House of Dreams’.) Other stories followed, most of them illustrating her interest in spiritualism and the paranormal. These included ‘The Call of Wings’ and ‘The Little Lonely God’. Magazines rejected all her early submissions, made under pseudonyms (including Mac Miller, Nathaniel Miller, and Sydney West); some submissions were later revised and published under her real name, often with new titles.

Every aspiring author needs a creepy doll… or two!

Around the same time, Christie began work on her first novel, Snow Upon the Desert. Writing under the pseudonym Monosyllaba, she set the book in Cairo and drew upon her recent experiences there. She was disappointed when the six publishers she contacted declined the work. Clara suggested that her daughter ask for advice from the successful novelist Eden Phillpotts, a family friend and neighbour, who responded to her enquiry, encouraged her writing, and sent her an introduction to his own literary agent, Hughes Massie, who also rejected Snow Upon the Desert but suggested a second novel.

(snip)

Christie had long been a fan of detective novels, having enjoyed Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White and The Moonstone, and Arthur Conan Doyle’s early Sherlock Holmes stories. She wrote her first detective novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, in 1916. It featured Hercue Poirot a former Belgian police officer with ‘magnificent moustaches’ and a head ‘exactly the shape of an egg’, who had taken refuge in Britain after Germany invaded Belgium. Christie’s inspiration for the character came from Belgian refugees living in Torquay, and the Belgian soldiers she helped to treat as a volunteer nurse during the First World War. Her original manuscript was rejected by Hodder & Stoughton and Methuen. After keeping the submission for several months, John Lane at The Bodley Head offered to accept it, provided that Christie change how the solution was revealed. She did so, and signed a contract committing her next five books to The Bodley Head, which she later felt was exploitative.It was published in 1920.”

Until I found this in my image search today,
I did not realize that I wasn’t the only one who adhere’s to this philosophy!

Her personal life was not without strife. When her father died in 1902 – Christie was 11 years old – the family’s financial situation changed. As Christie later said that it marked the end of her childhood.

Despite this, she did manage to participate in British social life and had a number of short lived relationships prior to meeting Archie Christie when she was 22 years old. The two were married on Christmas Eve 1914.

The birth of her only child, a daughter, occurred in 1919. With the death of her mother in 1926 she fell into a deep depression. Two years later she and Archie divorced when he admitted to an extramarital affair.

She did eventually remarry in 1930 to archaeologist Max Mallowan – a marriage which lasted until her death in 1976.

The backdrop to her personal life, however, was always writing. She often incorporated her own experiences and places she’d visited into her novels.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this was her work in hospital dispensaries during both World Wars. While there she became familiar with a variety of poisons which found their way into her works. Christie had a real gift in finding creative ways to kill off her characters.

While I cannot recall exactly when I became aware of Christie’s books, I imagine it was probably as a young teenager. Undoubtedly I read a number of her novels but it was the 1974 movie Murder On the Orient Express which truly brought her works to the attention of countless Americans. I have enjoyed all the movies based on her books.

I also believe I saw Mousetrap in London in 1980. Unfortunately, my memory is fuzzy and I’m not sure if I imagined the whole thing. But it does seem as if I did attend the play. It was in mid-July and early August of 1980 when my parents had taken my sister and me on a three week trip to Norway, England, and Scotland.

Although we spent the first day in London, the next morning we flew to Bergen, Norway, and began a multi-day bus tour of that country, ending up in Olso. From there, it was fly back to England for car touring as my dad rented a vehicle and we drove up through the countryside to Scotland. After Edinburgh, we returned to London. It was there, on August 2nd, that I write a postcard to my fiancé as follows:

The book I purchased in a London bookshop and read while on the trip; the postcard is the front of the one I sent on my last day in England.

True to what I wrote, it was the final missive I sent. Did I or did I not attend Mousetrap? What was the cause of my malady? Was it truly food poisoning as I believed or had someone doctored my food? Was the ‘poison’ the source of my fuzzy memory? Agatha Christie would, no doubt, approve of such a storyline.

Alas, dear reader, forty years after the fact, it is a mystery which might never be solved. Sounds like the makings of a novel.

The link:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agatha_Christie

Who’s who on the Facebook post, clockwise from top left: 1. JK Rowling 2. James Michener 3. Stephen King 4. Nora Roberts 5. Agatha Christie

Space: The Final Frontier

Star Trek

September 8, 2020

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.

And so they did, at least in the world of 1960’s television series. Star Trek – which premiered September 8, 1966 – was a show ahead of its time, and as such, struggled to resonate with the viewing public of the day. More on the reasons why in a bit.

For those unfamiliar with the show, the premise was this: It’s 300 years in the future and the United States has commissioned a large, interstellar spaceship and crew to explore the Milky Way galaxy. Led by a cadre of futuristic cowboy space explorers into a rough and tumble world, the viewer experiences all of the things touted in the opening statement: strange new words, new life forms, and new civilizations.

The crew– save pointy eared Vulcan Mr. Spock – all look exactly like one might expect Americans from that era to appear. The elaborate costuming department, however, created an assortment of aliens such as the fierce and hairy Klingons, the blue skinned Andorians, the pointy eared, unabrow militaristic Romulans, and the fuzzy and rapidly producing Tribbles; it was these and other strange creatures the crew encountered each week.

The primary cast of the original Star Trek.
Front row: Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner, DeForest Kelley.
Second row, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Majel Barret, Walter Koenig, James Doohan

The most formidable foe the captain and crew of the USS Enterprise faced, however, were the NBC executives who could not figure out how to promote and market this strange new program. Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek’s creator, did all he could to keep the crew out exploring new worlds, but his earthbound benefactors shut the program down at the end of the third season and 79 episodes.

One might have asked the following question: who was the most likely viewing audience for a cowboy-esque show set in the future? Hint: Probably not the mom’s and dad’s of the day. So if you want to appeal to elementary and junior high kids, when might you air the program? Weeknights from 8:30 to 9:30 might not have been the best time. Certainly not at 10 p.m. on Friday night as it was during its final season.

In spite of the thick headedness of the NBC exec’s, the show acquired a dedicated audience whose demographics surprised the studio. From the Infallible Wikipedia:

“The enthusiasm of Star Trek‘s viewers surprised NBC. The show was unusual in its serious discussion of contemporary societal issues in a futuristic context, unlike Lost in Space which was more campy in nature. The network had already received 29,000 fan letters for the show during its first season, more than for any other except The Monkees. When rumors spread in late 1967 that Star Trek was at risk of cancellation, Roddenberry secretly began and funded an effort by Bjo Trimble, her husband John, and other fans to persuade tens of thousands of viewers to write letters of support to save the program.  Using the 4,000 names on a mailing list for a science-fiction convention, the Trimbles asked fans to write to NBC and ask 10 others to also do so. NBC received almost 116,000 letters for the show between December 1967 and March 1968, including more than 52,000 in February alone; according to an NBC executive, the network received more than one million pieces of mail but only disclosed the 116,000 figure.”

Cal Tech students protest for Star Trek. Photo from archives of the LA Times.

The threat of cancellation inspired fans not only to write letters but some 200 sign carrying CalTech students marched to NBC’s studios in Burbank in 1968; protests appeared in other cities also. New York State Governor Nelson Rockefeller even wrote a letter to the studio. Also, according the Infallible Wikipedia:

“Much of the mail came from doctors, scientists, teachers, and other professional people, and was for the most part literate–and written on good stationery. And if there is anything a network wants almost as much as a high Nielsen ratings, it is the prestige of a show that appeals to the upper middle class and high-brow audiences.”

Alas, the show’s final episode aired in May 1969 and that was the end of it. Or not.

Despite the rule of thumb that a show needed at least four seasons to justify syndication, the show was soon seen during the late afternoon and a whole new demographic was hooked: school age kids. By the early 1970’s it was affecting the culture. Yes, the Infallible Wikipedia once again:

“Fans of the show became increasingly organized, gathering at conventions to trade merchandise, meet actors from the show, and watch screenings of old episodes. Such fans came to be known as “trekkies”, who were noted (and often ridiculed) for their extreme devotion to the show and their encyclopedic knowledge of every episode. Because fans enjoyed re-watching each episode many times, prices for Star Trek rose over time, instead of falling like other syndicated reruns.:  People magazine commented in 1977 that the show “threatens to rerun until the universe crawls back into its little black hole”. By 1986, 17 years after entering syndication, Star Trek was the most popular syndicated series; by 1987, Paramount made $1 million from each episode; and by 1994, the reruns still aired in 94% of the United States.”

Mr. Spock and his famous Vulcan salute.

As a teenager in the 1970’s, Star Trek was part of my daily world. I really had no choice, as my sister – a mere 21 months older than me – was one of those crazed Trekkie’s of the day and the program aired most afternoons. In our household, we frequently flashed the Vulcan hand symbol (middle and ring finger separated to form a “V”) and would intone, “Live long and prosper.” Another favorite was to parrot Dr. McCoy who said – in multiple episodes – “Dammit Jim, I’m a doctor, not a _____________.” This sentence was finished with ‘bricklayer,’ ‘engineer’, and ‘escalator’ to name the most famous ones.

Perhaps my favorite, yet macabre, part of Star Trek, was when the crew would be transported to the surface of some planet. Literally, the landing crew always seemed to be Captain Kirk, First Officer Spock, Dr. McCoy, and at least one or two ‘new’ crew members. Unlike the trio of stars who donned gold or blue uniforms, these hapless souls seemed to always wear red shirts and were always the ones who lost their lives. Which gave Dr. McCoy the opportunity to intone his famous “He’s dead, Jim.”

Now, 54 years later, Star Trek has weathered the test of time. Like the troublesome Tribbles, it’s multiplied way beyond its original 79 episodes. Over the years there have been additional TV series, big budget movies, and cartoon programs; these have captured the imagination of new generations of fans, a cultural phenomenon that lives on… unlike the guys in the red shirts.

 The links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Trek%3A_The_Original_Series

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Star_Trek_races

Fall Has Fallen

The Start of Meteorlogical Autumn

September 1, 2020

Did anyone notice last Sunday that someone flipped the switch from summer to fall? You could tell it was coming about a week before that… the days still boasted temperatures in the high seventies and low eighties but suddenly the nights were cooling well into the 50’s.

We’ve flipped the switch to Fall

And then it happened. It was a noticeable ‘ping’… then another… and then another… on the windshield just around 5 p.m. Soon, a light drizzle. By the time the hubby and I left the restaurant where we had gone to celebrate our wedding anniversary on August 30th, it was honest to goodness rain and the temperature was 63 degrees.

Now, I will state right up front, I don’t much like autumn. I’m already missing summer. Soon I’ll have to put away my Capri’s and sandals. Soon the short sleeve shirts will be replaced by long sleeves and then turtlenecks, sweaters, and fleece. I’ll have to wear real socks and shoes; Raincoats and jackets.

You can keep your pumpkin spice everything, thank you very much.

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I’m weather obsessed. I know when daylight savings ends and the dark times begin. (It’s November 1st this year!) I know the dates and details of some pretty incredible autumn wind storms. And I know that despite meteorological fall beginning today, September 1st, we will be lulled into thinking ‘oh this isn’t so bad’ when we get our mid-September heat for a few days. But the crisp mornings don’t lie.

Photo by JEN LEWIS; CONNOR TOOLE; PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY SARAH MACKINNON

Two years ago I discovered that for those of us who live in the northern half of the northern hemisphere, autumn does not truly begin on the Autumnal Equinox, usually on September 22nd. Nope. It actually begins on September 1st. When I learned this it was as if all those years of KNOWING – despite it not yet being official ‘fall’ in the Pacific Northwest – that it sure acted like and felt like Fall.

Don’t believe me? Then we need only go to the Infallible Wikipedia for confirmation:

“September is the ninth month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian calendars, the third of four months to have a length of 30 days, and the fourth of five months to have a length of less than 31 days. In the Northern Hemisphere September is the seasonal equivalent of March in the Southern Hemisphere.

In the Northern hemisphere, the beginning of the meteorological autumn is on 1 September. In the Southern hemisphere, the beginning of the meteorological spring is on 1 September. “

Don’t believe the Infallible Wikipedia? The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association states on their website:

“Meteorologists and climatologists break the seasons down into groupings of three months based on the annual temperature cycle as well as our calendar. We generally think of winter as the coldest time of the year and summer as the warmest time of the year, with spring and fall being the transition seasons, and that is what the meteorological seasons are based on. Meteorological spring includes March, April, and May; meteorological summer includes June, July, and August; meteorological fall includes September, October, and November; and meteorological winter includes December, January, and February.”

All of this made me curious. When did meteorologists start using this system? Turns out they’ve had it a well kept secret since the mid-twentieth century.

I just wish they’d told me sooner. Then I wouldn’t have fought so hard against turning on my furnace before September 21st. Or tossing that blanket over me when I watch TV.

What I do know is that with fall now ‘officially’ started by the weather people, it  means that in 91 days it will be winter and then only 90 days after that, its spring again! Hooray!

Those of us who are spring and summer lovers need all the support we can get.

Courtesy of KingKullen.com

For the rest whose favorite season is fall, just don’t feed me pumpkin spice or make me wear orange and we’ll get along just fine.

The links:

https://www.ncei.noaa.gov/news/meteorological-versus-astronomical-seasons

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/September

Oodles of Noodles

Instant Ramen

August 25, 2020

According to one Japanese poll, this food was named as the greatest invention of the 20th century.  Since a package of this costs between 50 cents and a dollar, it’s not only inexpensive, but it is easily one of the most adaptable instant foods you can purchase. Yes, I’m talking about the staple of college dorms everywhere: instant ramen noodles.

It was on August 25, 1958, when the first packages of the instant noodles were sold. But the history of ramen began much earlier.

How the first ramen was packaged, 1958

According to the Infallible Wikipedia:

“Ramen is a Japanese adaptation of Chinese wheat noodles. One theory says that ramen was first introduced to Japan during the 1660s by the Chinese neo-Confucian scholar Zhu Shunsui who served as an advisor to Tokugawa Mitsukuni after he became a refugee in Japan to escape Manchu rule and Mitsukuni became the first Japanese person to eat ramen, although most historians reject this theory as a myth created by the Japanese to embellish the origins of ramen. The more plausible theory is that ramen was introduced by Chinese immigrants in the late 19th or early 20th century at Yokohama Chinatown. According to the record of the Yokohama Ramen Museum, ramen originated in China and made its way over to Japan in 1859. Early versions were wheat noodles in broth topped with Chinese-style roast pork.”

Interestingly, it was in post WWII Japan, when the product really took off. Faced with rice shortages and a disrupted food supply line, inventive Japanese food vendors began making the noodles with cheap wheat purchased on the black market. Despite government attempts to keep vendors from making and selling the dish – they arrested thousands for doing so – it was one of the few things people could find to eat inexpensively. By 1950, the Japanese government relented, thus allowing the wheat noodles to find a place in the rice dominated culture.

In 1958,  Momofuku Ando – the founder of Nissan foods – developed a method by which the noodles were flash cooked, dried, and then sold in small blocks.

Also from the Infallible Wikipedia:

“Instant ramen allowed anyone to make an approximation of this dish simply by adding boiling water.

Beginning in the 1980s, ramen became a Japanese cultural icon and was studied around the world from many perspectives. At the same time, local varieties of ramen were hitting the national market and could even be ordered by their regional names. A ramen museum opened in Yokohama in 1994.

Who wouldn’t want to visit the Ramen museum just to see this giant bowl?

Today ramen is arguably one of Japan’s most popular foods, with Tokyo alone containing around 5,000 ramen shops, and more than 24,000 ramen shops across Japan.”

I became intimately acquainted with ramen soon after setting foot on the campus at the University of Puget Sound in 1977. Every member of my sorority, it seemed, had a small kettle and a stock of ramen packages in a desk drawer. It was one of two foods that seemed to dominate evening study time, the other being popcorn.

Soon, I too owned a West Bend electric teapot and a stock of ramen packets. I found one ad from 1979 where you could purchase it for a quarter a packet, but I do recall finding the coveted 10 for a dollar sales even into the 1990’s.

I think my pot was green but it might have been this lovely yellow

In my early ramen eating years, I was a purist; I’d boil my water, then drop the dried noodles into the pot and cook until they softened, finally adding the sodium laced flavoring.

After I met the man who would become my hubby, I learned that ramen could be so much more. He elevated ramen to an art form.

In Japan, the traditional way is as a soup of ramen and pork. But in our household, ramen is a vehicle for serving every sort of leftover. All meats can be added to it; stir in an egg for poor man’s egg flower soup. Tomatoes, celery, carrots, onions? All good in ramen. Perhaps the hubby’s favorite thing to add would be canned ‘Vienna’ sausages or hot dogs.

He recalls one college incident which revolved around ramen. Senior year he and two friends rented an apartment; one evening he was making a ramen concoction for his dinner. One of his roomie’s parents arrived on the scene to take their son to dinner. The roomie’s mom – upon seeing the ramen feast being prepared – was so horrified at this being my hubby’s dinner, insisted on taking him to dinner also.

The family ramen legacy was eventually passed to the next generation. Our daughter discovered the joys of ramen when she was an always hungry pre-teen and teen. Instead of asking Mom what was to eat, she learned early that she could fix it herself and probably consumed at least one package of it daily for many years. Cooked or dry did not matter. She loved it either way.

As an adult advisor for the Rainbow Girls, there was a parade of youth who showed up at our house regularly during those years. One girl was such a fixture that she knew exactly where the ramen was kept. Her arrival often meant that her first stop was the pantry where the Costco box of ramen occupied one end of the shelf. A few minutes later, the ramen cooked, we would settle around the table to chat. To this day she claims this as one of her favorite memories of our house.

The ubiquitous Costco 48 pack

The days of teens raiding the cupboards behind us, and my husbands ramen consumption reduced, the last Costco case of the stuff (48 packets – half beef, half chicken) is now gone. In fact, for the first time in the 40 years we’ve been married, there’s not a single package of ramen in the household.

When I inquired as to why, the hubby explained that he intended to get a ‘few’ packages at the grocery store instead of the industrial size Costco case. And there’s that pesky salt thing. One package of ramen is 1600 mg, a whopping 69 percent of the recommended daily salt intake.

Even so, it doesn’t seem right for us not to have a few packets of ramen just in case. Earthquake… Wind Storm… Pandemic…all good reasons to keep some on hand. Adding it to the grocery list. Who am I to argue with those who claim it to be the greatest invention of the 20th Century?

Costco’s supply of ramen takes up almost as much space as the Ramen museum

Yes, there really is a page on Ramen on the Infallible Wikipedia.:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramen

Robert Redford

The Sundance Kid

August 18, 2020

1973 was a pivotal year for this actor, his role in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (BC&TSK) catapulting him to the stratosphere of Hollywood stardom. Robert Redford, who turned 37 that year, didn’t look a day over 30 and for women – young and old alike – he became a sex symbol. Happy 84th birthday to, perhaps, the most successful actor of the late 20th century, who was born on August 18, 1936.

Redford as The Sundance Kid

Prior to his breakout role in BC&TSK, Redford found his first acting roles on Broadway which then led to television. These roles eventually brought him to the big screen with his first significant role as the male lead in the 1967 movie Barefoot in the Park opposite Jane Fonda.

But Redford was not content to be typecast due to his looks, passing up lead roles in both The Graduate and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. In BC&TSK, however, he found a role which resonated with him and a co-star in Paul Newman which proved to be box office gold.

Over the next several years, Redford had hit after hit. According to the Infallible Wikipedia:

“Starting in 1973, Redford experienced an almost unparalleled four-year run of box office success. The western Jeremiah Johnson’s (1972) box office earnings from early 1973 until it’s second re-release in 1975 would have placed it as the No. 2 highest-grossing film of 1973. The romantic period drama with Barbara Streisand, The Way We Were (1973), was the 11th highest-grossing film of 1973. The crime caper reunion with Paul Newman, The Sting (1973), became the top-grossing film of 1974 and one of the top 20 highest-grossing movies of all time when adjusted for inflation, plus landed Redford the lone nomination of his career for the Academy Award for Best Actor. The romantic drama The Great Gatsby (1974) was the No. 8 highest-grossing film of 1974. As well, 1969’s Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid placed as the No. 10 highest-grossing film for 1974 as it was re-released due to the popularity of The Sting. In 1974 Redford became the first performer since Bing Crosby in 1946 to have three films in a year’s top ten grossing titles. Each year between 1974 and 1976, movie exhibitors voted Redford Hollywood’s top box-office star. In 1975, Redford’s hit movies included 1920s aviation drama, The Great Waldo Pepper (1975), and the spy thriller Three Days of the Condor (1975), alongside Faye Dunaway, which finished at Nos. 16 and 17 in box office grosses for 1975, respectively. In 1976 he co-starred with Dustin Hoffman in the No. 2 highest-grossing film for the year, the critically acclaimed All the President’s Men. In 1975, 1977 and 1978, Redford won the Golden Globe for Favourite World Film Star, a popularity-based award that is no longer awarded.”

Paul Newman and Robert Redford in the Academy Award’s 1973 Best Picture “The Sting.”

Of course not all his films were box office winners and, like so many celebrities, age puts certain roles and images out of reach. But Redford was, perhaps, the most committed actor of his generation, turning to directing and producing when acting had all but played out. His most significant achievement post Hollywood heartthrob was in the creation of the Independent movie festival, Sundance.

Held annually near Provo, Utah, the Sundance Film Festival has become the place to launch independent films. In 2008, for example, 125 such films premiered at the festival.

Although Redford officially retired from acting in 2018, there is little doubt that his legacy will be felt for years to come.

It’s so very difficult to pick a favorite Redford role and film. As a romance writer, for me there is perhaps no sadder film than The Way We Were… the 1973 hit with Barbra Streisand. It’s a film which very much influenced me creatively. The storyline was compelling to 16 year old me, rooting for the pair to live happily ever after. That is not how that story ends, however, and somehow I felt sorry for both of the main characters. Redford is outstanding in the role and one believes he is the golden boy Hubbell who wants and need the perfect life and wife, frustrated by Katie’s strident politicization of everything around her. That said, from a teenagers perspective, he was so very likable, while Streisand was not.

But he was also terrific in All The President’s Men, Three Days of the Condor, and The Electric Horseman.

In the past few years I’ve connected with one of my Dad’s former students, Lisa, on Facebook. The same age as me, she is not at all shy about her lifetime love of Robert Redford. I would bet you a dozen doughnuts by the time you read this, she will have posted birthday greetings to her high school (and beyond!) crush. And I will, as I have the past several years, give her a bad time about it. I mean, Redford is at least 20 years older than either of us… but that doesn’t matter to her. She loves all things Robert Redford.

As for me, I picture Robert Redford in my head during the final scene from The Way We Were. Moments earlier he – along with his new paramour – have a chance meeting with Streisand. He returns to where she is passing out Ban The Bomb fliers. From the look on her face, you know she still has a thing for him and why wouldn’t she? He’s devastatingly handsome… a shock of wavy blonde hair down across his forehead, suggestive blue eyes that seem to know it would never work, upturned coat collar, and his square jaw and ever so sardonic slight curve of the mouth. That’s the Robert Redford who captured the hearts of millions of women around the world. And if we had the chance to do it all again, would we? Could we? In a heartthrob’s beat, yes.

A few links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Redford

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butch_Cassidy_and_the_Sundance_Kid

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Way_We_Were

Facebook answers:

Paul Newman, Jane Fonda, Barbra Streisand, Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep

American Graffiti

Where Were You In ’62?

August 11, 2020

AMerican graffitiWhen one thinks of Modesto, Californina, it is likely to be associated with an American experience which occurred primarily from the 1950’s through the 1970’s. Having a car had become a status symbol and driving it among one’s peers – or cruising as its known – became an essential element of growing up. On August 11, 1973, the film American Graffiti was released, serving to enshrine the cruiser phenomenon into our shared culture.

The film was a dark horse hit that year, capturing five academy award nominations including one for best picture. It was George Lucas’ first film, show-casing his talent as an ‘outside the box’ filmmaker.

The original budget was only $600,000, which forced Lucas to use mostly unknown actors, a limited film crew, and to secure low cost contracts for the music. The lack of money kept the film from having an original soundtrack, only two cameramen, and truly the launched the careers of Richard Dreyfuss and Harrison Ford.

To encapsulate the main plot, we turn to the Infallible Wikipedia:

“On their last evening of summer vacation in September 1962, recent high school graduates and longtime friends Curt Henderson and Steve Bolander meet two other friends, John Milner, the drag-racing king of the town, and Terry ‘The Toad’ Fields, in the parking lot of the local Mel’s Drive-In in Modesto, California. Curt and Steve are scheduled to travel ‘Back East’ the following morning to start college. Despite receiving a $2,000 scholarship from the local Moose Lodge, Curt has second thoughts about leaving Modesto. Steve gives Terry his 1958 Chevrolet Impala to care for until he returns at Christmas. Steve’s girlfriend, Laurie, who is also Curt’s sister, arrives in her car. Steve suggests to Laurie, who is already glum about him going to college, that they see other people while he is away to ‘strengthen’ their relationship. Though not openly upset, she is displeased, which affects their interactions the rest of the evening.”

Rather than have a main protagonist, Lucas saw the four main male characters has being equal, all based on various stages of his adolescent self. Although somewhat cliché’ now, the four loosely represent the college man, the popular guy, the nerd, and the greaser. The entire movie takes place during the one night and culminates the next morning with information as to what happens with each of the four. At the time it was a unique storytelling method.

As word started to get around Universal Studios that the film was good, funds were put in place for marketing and other studio support. It paid off. Also from the Infallible Wikipedia:

dreyfuss

Richard Dreyfuss as Curt Henderson

“Produced on a $777,000 budget, it has become one of the most profitable films of all time. Since its initial release, American Graffiti has garnered an estimated return well over $200 million in box-office gross and home video sales, not including merchandising. In 1995, the United States Library of Congress deemed the film ‘culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant’ and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.”

hARRISON FORD

Bob Falfa, aka Harrison Ford

Perhaps the thing I find most interesting about this film as well as others from the 1970’s (see my post from July 28th on the film Animal House; link below) is that the adults in charge at that time truly did not understand the impact the Baby Boomers exerted on the culture. 1973, the year that American Graffiti appeared, there were 37 million teenagers and another 21 million in the generation were ages 20 to 27. For those 58 million people the storylines in American Graffiti resonated.

On the day the movie was released I was 16 years old, possessed a ten day old driver’s license, and lived in a city where the cruising culture was king.

yakima mid 1960's

This is the Yakima I remember as a girl in the 1960’s. I’ve seen this photo dozens of times and the bustle never ceases to amaze me.

Everyone there knew the term “Dragging the Ave” which meant cruising up and down Yakima Avenue. Initially, I was forbidden by my parents to drive on the Ave after dark. But, being the youngest of four, the other three had done an outstanding job of bending the rules for me and I’m not sure what, exactly, happened, but by the time I was a junior in high school, I was a regular in the Friday and Saturday night promenades.

One thing I never did was drag the ‘Ave’ solo. I participated with a variety of friends, but my frequent partners in crime were my two best buddies who – to provide them a bit of anonymity – will henceforth be called by their aliases Deborah and Cynthia.

On the particular night which stands out, it was Deborah riding shotgun. A warm summer’s evening and the opportunity to see and be seen was at its best.

SchoolLogo_1403Now, in Yakima in the mid-1970’s, there were two major high schools: AC Davis and Dwight D. Eisenhower (IKE). Yes, there were other high schools in the surrounding communities, but those two were the biggies. We attended IKE.

To us, those who attended Davis were cross-town rivals and somewhat of a mystery; a forbidden fruit, if you will. Although we recognized a few who attended Davis, for the most part we didn’t know them and they didn’t know us.davis

So Deborah and I are driving along and, at one of the stoplights, a car carrying a couple of guys is idling next to my car and we engage in a shouted conversation between the two vehicles. Mostly it’s Deborah doing the talking out the passenger side window. There’s flirting and banter. The light changes, we drive on.

At the next light, or perhaps the one after, first names are exchanged. Then one of the guys says to Deborah, ‘what’s your last name?’

To which she replies, “Guess.”

The two of us giggle away as the guys venture forth with such answers as “Smith? Jones?”

Deborah replies, “Nope.”

More names are proffered then followed by the same question “what’s your last name?”

And the same answer “Guess.”

This went on for at least two runs up and down Yakima Avenue as the guys try to get us to stop and meet them in person. The name guessing continues until Deborah says to me “These guys are not very bright, are they?”

All because they kept asking the same question and never understanding that she was, in fact, telling them her last name. Every. Single. Time. By now you, the reader, should have ‘Guess’-ed it, but they never did.

Once we became bored with the game, I managed to ‘lose’ them and soon the night was over and by the time I was 19 or 20, ‘Dragging the Ave’ had lost its appeal, relegated to the status of a cultural reference.

Thanks to American Graffiti, that phenomenon is preserved. Future generations who happen upon the movie will, perhaps, regret that they did not live in the era of muscle cars, cheap gas, and summer nights dragging the Ave.

Although the tagline was ‘Where were you in ’62?’ it was the summer of ’73 and American Graffiti which was the defining year for the Baby Boomers.

The links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Graffiti

https://barbaradevore.com/2018/04/17/1965-ford-mustang

https://barbaradevore.com/2020/07/28/animal-house

 

Answer to the Facebook question: Van Nuys Blvd, Los Angeles. 1972

cruising van nuys blvd 1972

Animal House

July 28, 2020

“Oh Boy! Is This Great!”

Of all the years to be a college co-ed, 1978 was the best.

Culturally, it was the height of the ‘me’ generation’s influence. Commonplace restrictions from previous decades had all but been abandoned, leaving the youth to do the one thing they wanted: have fun.

animal-house-movie-poster-1020258451On July 28, 1978, a movie hit the theaters which encapsulated precisely this attitude, capturing the imagination of a generation. That movie: Animal House.

The idea for the movie came about via National Lampoon, a wildly popular magazine with college students. In fact, the official title of the movie is “National Lampoon’s Animal House.” The plot – to sum it up in a couple sentences is this: “Loser college guys join fraternity where anything goes. Fraternity gets kicked off campus and members, in an effort to save the fraternity, wreak havoc on campus and during the homecoming parade.”

With a budget of only 3 million allocated to its production, the executives at Universal Studios almost didn’t allow it to be made. But the writers were committed to the project, effectively wearing down the studio who basically told them ‘okay, but don’t expect much.’

According to the Infallible Wikipedia:

“National Lampoon’s Animal House is a 1978 American sex comedy film directed by John Landis and written by Harold Ramis, Douglas Kenney and Chris Miller. It stars John Belushi, Peter Riegert, Tim Matheson, John Vernon, Verna Bloom, Thomas Hulce, Stephen Furst, and Donald Sutherland. The film is about a trouble-making fraternity whose members challenge the authority of the dean of the fictional Faber College.

The film was produced by Matty Simmons of National Lampoon and Ivan Reitman for Universal Pictures. It was inspired by stories written by Miller and published in National Lampoon. The stories were based on (Harold) Ramis’s experience in the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity at Washington University in St. Louis, Miller’s Alpha Delta Phi experiences at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, and producer Reitman’s at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.”

In many ways, the low budget contributed to the film’s success. No one had heard of any of the actors, John Belushi and Donald Sutherland excepted. Rather than turn the film into a showcase for the popular cast of Saturday Night Live as was suggested, it turned out that the ensemble of newcomers brought an element of collegiality to it that made the film unique.

One big hurdle was finding a college willing to allow the movie to be filmed on their campus. One after another turned it down since, after reading the script, determined the publicity would be detrimental to their institution. It was an act of bravery that one administrator finally agreed to it. Also from the Infallible Wikipedia:

“The president of the University of Oregon in Eugene, William Beaty Boyd, had been a senior administrator at the University of California in Berkeley in 1966 when his campus was considered for a location of the film The Graduate. After he consulted with other senior administrative colleagues who advised him to turn it down due to the lack of artistic merit, the college campus scenes set at Berkeley were shot at USC in Los Angeles. The film went on to become a classic, and Boyd was determined not to make the same mistake twice when the producers inquired about filming at Oregon. After consulting with student government leaders and officers of the Pan Hellenic Council, the Director of University Relations advised the president that the script, although raunchy and often tasteless, was a very funny spoof of college life. Boyd even allowed the filmmakers to use his office as Dean Wormer’s.”

ah-party

John ‘Bluto’ Blutarksi leads the way during a Delta House Toga party

Now, I will say, if you’ve never seen the movie you should. As my now adult children know, there are some cultural references one absolutely needs to have. Animal House is such a film. The film is littered with quotable and iconic concepts many of which repeat to this day.

 

 

 

Ever hear of a toga party? You have Animal House to thank.

Double secret probation? Animal House. 

“Was It Over When The Germans Bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell No!” Animal House.

“Fat, Drunk, And Stupid Is No Way To Go Through Life, Son.” Animal House.

Food Fight? Animal House.

That summer, it went on to become the third highest grossing film of 1978 and – in the course of its run – took in a whopping 141.6 million. Not bad for a film which cost under $3 million to make and which the studio execs thought would flop.

When all was said and done, once again from the Infallible Wikipedia:

“In 2001, the United States Library of Congress deemed the film ‘culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant’ and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry. Animal House is first on Bravo’s 100 Funniest Movies. In 2000, the American Film Institute ranked the film No. 36 on 100 Years… 100 Laughs, a list of the 100 best American comedies. In 2006, Miller wrote a more comprehensive memoir of his experiences in Dartmouth’s AD house in a book entitled, The Real Animal House: The Awesomely Depraved Saga of the Fraternity That Inspired the Movie, in which Miller recounts hijinks that were considered too risqué for the movie. In 2008, Empire magazine selected Animal House as one of The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time. The film was also selected by The New York Times as one of The 1000 Best Movies Ever Made.”

Back to 1978 and the phenomenon which had college students donning sheets and partying to the chants of “Toga! Toga! Toga!”

When I returned to the University of Puget Sound that September, everyone was talking about Animal House. Soon the Toga parties began and there were a handful of fraternity guy’s intent on channeling their inner Bluto.

Alpha Phi Halloween event 1978

A few sorority sisters ready for a Halloween party 1978.

Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your perspective, my sorority was located next door to the house which fashioned itself after the Delta’s of Animal House fame. There were shenanigans and crazy antics all that fall. Parties flowed out of their house and into the common areas, empty aluminum cans smashed against heads exactly like the John Belushi character did in the film, Christmas lights tossed into our basement level patio where they would ‘pop.’ And who knows what, exactly, was going on the night that a group of them appeared on the lawn outside our windows with that blow up doll.

Around 10 pm one night I heard a commotion outside of my room and the unmistakable thump, thump, thump of a large group of people making their way in unison down the hallway. What the heck?

A moment later: the sound of running feet. The door bursts open and one of my two roomies, Sheila, rushes in, slams the door behind her and presses her back to the closed door.

I can still picture her, a wild look in her eye, dressed in her full length flannel nightgown, hands pressed hard against the door, panting.

“There’s naked Phi Delts in our hall,” she gasped.

Now, to be clear, my other roommate Cathy and I DID NOT reopen that door to confirm her report. In fact, we wanted nothing to do with the conga line of nude men mooning the members of our sorority.

A minute or two later, the group reached the end of the hall and exited the building. Their bare hineys were last seen disappearing back into what I would consider UPS’ nominee for ‘Delta’ house.

In retrospect, my two years there were a rather surreal experience, greatly amplified by the culture of the time embodied in no small part by the movie Animal House.

In the iconic words of Kent ‘Flounder’ Dorfman “Oh boy! Is this Great!”

Indeed it was.

The links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_House

180726143707-animal-house-780x439Who’s who in the Facebook Photo (left to right):

Bruce McGill – “D-Day”; Tim Matheson – “Otter”; Peter Riegart “Boon”; John Belushi – “Bluto”; Tom Hulce – “Pinto”; Stephen Furst – “Flounder”; James Widdoes – “Hoover”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Giant Leap for Mankind

Men walk on the moon

July 21, 2020

 

“One small step for man… one giant leap for mankind.”

Man on the Moon 1969These words were spoken at 2:56 a.m. (UTC) on July 21, 1969 when astronaut Neil Armstrong took the first steps on the moon.

For those of a technical bent one could argue that those famous steps took place on July 20th; at least that was true for those of us living on the west coast of the United States. Everyone was glued to their television sets all that Sunday afternoon and evening, the drama playing out in a single day.

The race to the moon began over a decade earlier in November 1957 with the creation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) by then President Dwight Eisenhower. Its formation was in response to the USSR’s launch of Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite. This was followed in early 1961 with the first earth orbit by a human. (see my blog about the Century 21 Exposition and the day a Russian cosmonaut visited!)

The U.S. – now behind in the space race – was urged by President John F. Kennedy to throw their resources and national enthusiasm behind the program. On May 25, 1961 he implored Congress thus:

“I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish. We propose to accelerate the development of the appropriate lunar space craft. We propose to develop alternate liquid and solid fuel boosters, much larger than any now being developed, until certain which is superior. We propose additional funds for other engine development and for unmanned explorations—explorations which are particularly important for one purpose which this nation will never overlook: the survival of the man who first makes this daring flight. But in a very real sense, it will not be one man going to the Moon—if we make this judgment affirmatively, it will be an entire nation. For all of us must work to put him there.”

— Kennedy’s speech to Congress

Despite setbacks in the Apollo program, resources were poured into the ambitious plans. With each Apollo mission, the systems were refined as the best and the brightest minds of the day labored to solve the myriad of problems encountered. From the Infallible Wikipedia:

“In July 1962 NASA head James Webb announced that lunar orbit rendezvous would be used and that the Apollo spacecraft would have three major parts: a command module (CM) with a cabin for the three astronauts, and the only part that returned to Earth; a service module (SM), which supported the command module with propulsion, electrical power, oxygen, and water; and a lunar module (LM) that had two stages—a descent stage for landing on the Moon, and an ascent stage to place the astronauts back into lunar orbit.] This design meant the spacecraft could be launched by a single Saturn V rocket that was then under development.

(snip)

Project Apollo was abruptly halted by the Apollo 1 fire on January 27, 1967, in which astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger B. Chaffee died, and the subsequent investigation. In October 1968, Apollo 7 evaluated the command module in Earth orbit, and in December Apollo 8 tested it in lunar orbit. In March 1969, Apollo 9 put the lunar module through its paces in Earth orbit, and in May Apollo 10 conducted a “dress rehearsal” in lunar orbit. By July 1969, all was in readiness for Apollo 11 to take the final step onto the Moon.

Ap11InitialThe Soviet Union competed with the US in the Space Race, but its early lead was lost through repeated failures in development of the N1 launcher, which was comparable to the Saturn V. The Soviets tried to beat the US to return lunar material to the Earth by means of un-crewed probes. On July 13, three days before Apollo 11’s launch, the Soviet Union launched Luna 15, which reached lunar orbit before Apollo 11. During descent, a malfunction caused Luna 15 to crash in Mare Crisium about two hours before Armstrong and Aldrin took off from the Moon’s surface to begin their voyage home. The Nuffield Radio Astronomy Laboratories radio telescope in England recorded transmissions from Luna 15 during its descent, and these were released in July 2009 for the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11.”

It was truly an amazing feat as has been chronicled in book, documentary, and a feature length movie.

At the time Armstrong, particularly, became a national hero; the very face of American greatness. No doubt that mission motivated a whole generation of science minded kids to dream of one day traveling into space beyond the moon.

It was truly an inspirational moment and ranks up there with other events that you absolutely remember where you were and what you were doing.

In those days most families had a single television. So you watched whatever your parents watched. With three basic channels (ABC, CBS, NBC) the choices were limited. On July 20, 1969, ALL three channels were broadcasting just one thing: man landing on the moon.

I was 11 years old that July day and it was a pretty typical Yakima summer day with temperatures in the low 90’s. Like any self respecting kid, I’d watched the initial landing but then wandered off to do other things.

Sometime after dinner, the family gathered around the TV once again to watch the first steps on the moon by Armstrong. A couple of things stick out. Despite having a color television, the moon landing was all in black and white. The American Flag they planted was stiff since there was not any sort of breeze to flap the cloth. And everything was done very, very slowly.

My older brother and I decided to play cards as a way to pass the time. The game was called Casino and it consisted of trying to collect more cards than the other person AND obtain certain specialty cards which were worth points. I remember the two of spades was a desired card, and I doubt I could play the game today. At the time I was pretty good at the game AND very competitive. My brother and I were sitting on the floor of the family room a few feet from the TV, playing our game, and looking up every once in a while to see if anything was happening (it wasn’t).

Finally, just before 8 p.m., Armstrong slowly bounced his way down the steps of the Lunar module, his echo-y micro phoned voice coming through the TV as he intoned, “that’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

It was years later when I learned that he had not said what he planned, since the sentence was supposed to be “that’s one small step for A man, one giant leap for mankind.” Personally, I think it was much cooler the way it came out.

Soon after his grand arrival – not being particularly interested in watching the astronauts collect rocks – I drifted away to do other more interesting 11 year old things. I do think we all went outside and stared up at the quarter moon that night, in awe of what had been accomplished.

casino cardsI really can’t recall who won the Casino game, so I’ll just claim I did and squabble with my brother when he reads this. And, BTW, Mr. P., the Shaw and Sons little league guy was out. That’s what Dad always said. Higher and Higher. Cherry Cola. Sibling rivalry and inside jokes are the best.

The What’s and Who’s on the Facebook post:

  1. Moon Pies
  2. Moon Landing
  3. Moon River
  4. Sailor Moon
  5. Harvey Moon (a brand used in advertising in Yakima when I was growing up)

 

 

Honda Civic

Popular for decades

July 14, 2020

1972 civic ad 2July 14, 1972 marks the date the Honda Civic was introduced. The Civic was, arguably, the beneficiary of a number of factors which catapulted it to the top of the small car class.

It was, however, the energy crisis which gripped the United States in late 1973 and into 1974 that proved to be its best marketing.

Without going down into the weeds as to the political reasons why, in 1974 the world experienced a gas shortage. The typical American of the day drove heavy, gas-guzzling automobiles. With gas costing around 50 cents a gallon, the amount of money it took to fill a tank was very affordable and not something most people considered when purchasing a car. By 1974, however, the price of gas had skyrocketed to $3 and $4 a gallon.

Enter the introduction of the compact and sub-compact car. While the big American automakers quickly rolled out such contenders as the Ford Pinto and the Chevy Vega, it was Japan’s Honda who found the winning formula.  The Civic’s cost, size, and great gas mileage marked a change in thinking in regards to the type of car a large portion of the American public wanted.

In 1973 – its first year being sold in the United States – just under 33,000 Civic’s were purchased. The following year sales were 43,000. Then in 1975, there was a 137 percent increase in sales with over 102,000 of the cars hitting the road. Since its introduction to the U.S. in 1973 until 2015, over 7.3 million have been sold.

Honda Civic’s were everywhere. Their distinctive look – sort of a tiny, boxy car – made them hard to miss. At the time, however, it was other features which made them popular. From the Infallible Wikipedia:

“It was equipped with a 1,169 cc (71.3 cu in) four-cylinder water-cooled engine and featured front power disc brakes, reclining vinyl bucket seats, simulated wood trim on the dashboard, as well as optional air conditioning and an AM/FM radio. The Civic was available as a two- or four-door fastback sedan, three- and a five-door hatchback, as well as a five-door station wagon. Due to the 1973 oil crisis, consumer demand for fuel efficient vehicles was high, and due to the engine being able to run on either leaded or unleaded fuel, it gave drivers fuel choice flexibility over other vehicles.”

EPSON MFP image

On the road in July 1982 at Lewis and Clark Caverns, Montana

In 1982, the hubby and I became a part of the Honda Civic family. The five-door station wagon seemed a great choice. During those years we often took off on weekends to go camping or for brief getaways. That summer, we embarked on a two week trip which took us to several National Parks, including Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and the Grand Canyon. Our little brown wagon served us well, conveying us over 3600 miles. The next year it took us to Vancouver Island and the year after that to Colorado and back.

EPSON MFP image

At Mesa Verde, Colorado, in 1984. The hubby is getting something from the car we need for dinner.

It was a great commuter car also: reliable, comfortable, and the always good gas mileage. When we retired the car in 1986 it was not because the car was no longer working but because we had purchased a boat and needed a vehicle capable of towing.

I do wonder if trading in the Honda so we could buy a boat was the right decision, however. There’s a saying that the two happiest days in a boat owner’s life are the day they buy it… and the day they sell it. Our first boat quickly earned its nickname – the Boat From Hell – or BFH as it was abbreviated. But that’s a totally different story.

Our Honda was never the car from hell, but a reliable friend, always ready to travel on a new adventure, never once letting us down. No wonder there were millions of them out on the road.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honda_Civic

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1973_oil_crisis

EPSON MFP image

July 31, 1982 at the Gardiner, Montana, entrance to Yellowstone.

 

Cars featured on the Facebook post:

Opal Kadett, Honda Civic, Ford Pinto, Chevy Vega, AMC Gremlin

 

 

I Said oo-oo-oo-wee

Undercover Angel

July 7, 2020

If there was one thing the 1970’s was known for it was the plethora of questionable songs and their popularity. I’ve covered some of these songs in previous articles. Songs like Muskrat Love and The Streak, for example. Another questionable song was at the top of the charts for one week in July 1977.

Alan O’Day – the singer who penned the tune – dubbed it a “nocturnal novelette.” An apt description for this schlocky song.

94edeb0026cdb5d69f8eb2db8a0a8709Undercover Angel, in my opinion, should never have made it to number one. Perhaps the lyrics were just racy enough and just cryptic enough to cause the teenagers of the era to listen again and again in an effort to dissect its meaning.

The Infallible Wikipedia offers a brief hint:

“The song begins with a man describing his loneliness, when a woman suddenly appears in his bed and encourages him to make love to her. The rest of the song describes his feelings about her, then he discovers she must leave him, and he is saddened. She tells him to ‘go find the right one, love her and then, when you look into her eyes you’ll see me again’.

It then becomes apparent that he has been telling this story to a woman he is trying to seduce; he tells her he is ‘looking for my angel in your sweet, loving eyes’.”

The internet has been helpful in that the lyrics to pretty much every song ever written can be found with a simple search. Here’s a link https://www.elyrics.net/read/a/alan-o_day-lyrics/undercover-angel-lyrics.html so you can read them yourself if you are so inclined.

That said, the whole premise of this song is a bit disturbing. I would describe it a bit differently: A creepy guy has nocturnal fantasies which he then shares as a way to try and pick up a girl. Then, if the lyrics aren’t bad enough, the actual song itself has a repetitive and suggestive ‘oo-oo-oo-wee’ being sung over and over and over.

I turned 20 the year this record was popular and, being tuned in to music, knew the song but never thought much about it. Until the summer of 2013, that is. My own daughter – who just so happened to be 20 that year too – had started working at Michael’s (craft store).

As the weeks wore on she would come home and complain about the awful ‘70’s music’ which played on continuous loop through the store’s intercom system. I suppose they broadcast music of that era to appease the 40 and 50 something soccer moms who were their biggest customers. But it drove my daughter crazy.

There were two songs which she particularly loathed: Knock Three Times by Tony Orlando and Dawn and the one she dubbed the angel song… Undercover Angel.

screaming-blonde-woman-in-sweater-covering-her-ears-with-closed-eyes_ryckzumfl_thumbnail-full01

This is not my actual daughter… but close enough.

In fact, if I wanted to bug her all I had to do was sing ‘oo-oo-oo-wee’ like O’Day did on the record and she would tell me to stop in no uncertain terms. My fun ended when she moved away at the end of that summer, probably just to escape the music where she worked and, possibly, me for having a little fun at her expense.

Who knew that the worst songs of the 1970’s would live on as earworms* and haunt future generations decades later? It makes me wonder what songs of subsequent eras which were very popular are now seen by today’s teens as ridiculous: Barbie Girl? Macarena? Wannabe?

I think I need to call my daughter and ask her opinion… but not before I sing ‘oo-oo-oo-wee’ to her. It will make her day.

*An earworm, according to the Infallible Wikipedia, is “a catchy piece of music that continually repeats through a person’s mind after it is no longer playing.”

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Undercover_Angel_(song)