Sunday, September 28, 2008

Public Service Announcements

How I killed an entire Sunday.



#14 in an occasional series of repressed 70's memories that turn out to be true.
Dedicated to my parent-friends who insist it is harder to raise children now. I suppose it must be harder to bring up the topic of VD, much less explain irony.


"Mom, if VD is for EVERYBODY, should I ask my doctor for help? I don't have it."

As we used to say around the corner, "Gonorrhea is nothing to clap about."
The song on the radio went like this:
I got it from Sandy
Sandy got it from Paul
Paul got it from Ernestine
Who coulda got it anywhere at all.


One reader of the Cape May County Herald agrees with me.

Along with making good "drug decisions," the talk of 6th grade health class was "venereal symptoms and how to distinguish them." Because you want to mark it correctly in your field guide and give your partner(s) the right information. (Oh fever, night fever, night fe--ver... )

I loved PSAs. They were little horror movie snacks between Afterschool Specials, which were never on enough.

My top 10 fave PSAs from the panelled years.


10 Give a hoot
Woody's unfortunate weirdness as a talking animal and a creepy puppet did not deter from his authoritative stance on pollution. Pollution was very very serious in the 70s. We forgot about it for a while while we were chanting U-S-A. But any retrospective of PSAs must include the one-two punch of Woodsy and Iron Eyes

9 Only YOU...
In the same family was the domineering Smokey the Bear, whose tragic cubhood turned him into the Batman of the forest. Yes YOU CAN prevent forest fires, you selfish human scum. Grow hair and live INSIDE. And stop smoking already (see #3)

Take a good long look at that poster. The bear shall lie down with the fawn. After a prayerful interlude. Watch this one with the lights on.

Smokey would point right at you like Uncle Sam and hold you personally responsible. According to Wikipedia (and why would they be wrong) Smokey is today voiced by Sam Eliot. That could give you nightmares.

I saw Smokey at the Washington Zoo when he was still alive. He didn't seem happy.

8 Play safe
Pollution + unsupervised children = Childhood will kill you. This is the important lesson.

Your grandparents had scarlet fever and mining disasters. You have abandoned refrigerators, insulators, blasting caps, and parents. Between Jiminy Cricket and the Crash Test Dummies was a whole lotta scary shit.

7 "But da moon cain't hoit ya"
So many ways to get cancer. So little time. As this commercial explains, we are "crazed by tan." How crazed? This crazed.

The American Cancer Society and the Lung Association used to be all over the Tee-vee. Within a generation, they had us feeling pretty stupid about a lot of stuff.

6 Right turn on red after stop
I was not able to find this, and it is better sung. It was a local campaign in Virginia explaining Right-on-Red. For reasons I do not know, it featured a 1940s big band sound and some crossing guard Andrews Sisters who did that point-at-the-ground dance move when they sang "turn right but still have to stop." It ranks high because it is so singable.

5 Parents who use drugs
The American Lung Association launched an anti-smoking campaign called Like Father, Like Son that ran through my school years. One minute seems very long nowadays.


It was replaced by this national treasure.




4 Don't drown your food
All things Timer are lovely. He knew we were home alone eating a bowl of Oreos and would go for something better if we could think of it. Cheese? Hell YA, Timer! And tomorrow it is Sunshine on a Stick.

But "Don't drown your food" is a masterwork. Dr A took this to heart.

3 You mind very much if they smoke
Recall a world where you needed societal support to stand up to Smokers. Recall a world where cigarette jingles were so catchy, the anti-smoking jingle had to be too. This sounds like Jim Croce by way of the King Family.

Here is one I had forgotten. Harry is so accommodating.


I am unable to find video proof of my 2 faves, which is anti-climactic, but your lunch hour must be over by now. Heaven knows mine is.

2 "Don't take the Car! You'll kill yourself......"
LOVED to scream this out on any occasion. The premise is that a husband and wife are fighting, over his drinking, I believe. I picture him in a burnt orange turtleneck and she with a Joan van Ark hairdo, and they are screaming like an Albee play (because that was our culture) and he storms drunk out of the house. She flings open the door and screams, "don't take the car! You'll kill yourself!" but the freeze-frame and reverb has it come out "your-sel..l..l..l...l..." Oh, he does, of course. A good PSA always ends up at the morgue.


1 Lead Paint - I have mentioned this one before. Still can't find an artifact.

But the plot conflict is...
"paint chips peelin'... from the ceilin'... by my baby's bed..."

$50 in cash if you deliver this video to me. In the meantime, enjoy this one:



Friday, September 26, 2008

Blog ennui

I have 25 posts in draft form.

No, please don't applaud; it is nothing to brag about. I had 27, but just killed 2 whose points I could no longer recognize. I suppose I don't always have a point. I also just created 2 more, and tried to put in a few notes in case they should ferment in the Drafts list until such date when I can not remember them anymore.

Today in the middle of reporting in a meeting, I lost my train of thought. And I was taking the minutes. I assured the parents on my team that this would be happening to them anyway, even if they didn't have kids, and spouses, and alimony payments. We all just slowly lose our minds.

Or maybe just our interest.

I went looking for a picture of the little Zoloft guy and am pleased to report there are several gag cartoons of him.

He could be drawn by the Good News for Modern Man people.

Writer's block is so 90s. Dr A recently posted a piece from The Kenyon Review about rejection letters that will speak to any of you who put it out there for publication. Years ago, once I realized the results were the same whether I submitted material or not, I decided to save the postage. The artistic equivalent of "letting oneself go," I suppose. But we hadn't yet invented Bloggening.

Latecomers to my life (that is, anyone in the past 20 years, so safe to say members of my adult life), will eventually say in some context "you should be a writer," as if all that keeps one from it is landing their little car on that space of the Life board. I smile and nod. Yes, that's a great idea, and a very nice compliment. Thanks. What have you been up to? deflect...deflect....

Rebecca Faery once said, "You know you're a writer because you write it down." Rebecca Faery is also known for that famous Hollins phrase, "That is merely the fallacy of dichotous question framing." Of all that she taught me about The Craft, that one is my preferred go-to.

I especially appreciate those moments when the Academic Readership gives me a shout-out. I'll try to deliver again soon. Or perhaps I won't try, which seems to produce better results.

I need to stop reading Augusten Burroughs before bed.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

All traffic is good traffic


Caroline has made webenemies, and in the strangest of arenas.

Two years ago, I declared that Keith Urban was not, in fact, "hot." I still stand by that, by the way.
To further antagonize his fans, I will underscore this by saying I file all of these performers under "Toby Keith Urban," and could not pass a blind name that tune test. I don't have to. It's my blog.

By the same phenomenon that may have caused the Bloomberg Report to break the story that American Airlines filed for bankruptcy (again?! No, 6 years ago...) this 2-year old filler story of no importance has generated new traffic, and comments.

Most of the comments are directed at me.
- I have "issues"
- I wish I looked good in Brown-on-brown
- I need to have my eyes opened

Now I'll never get asked to the slumber party.

I compared his look to 1978. I stand by that too.
I never said anything about you who do think Keith Urban is hot (haha, now I come up in your match no matter what you search on...). But I see I am now totally counted o-u-t, so let me save you the Comment time.

I am gross, queer, ta'hd, I'm ugly and my momma dresses me funny.

But thanks for reading. Arianna Huffington has recommended I should bait traffic with some controversial statement. I had no idea it would be this.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Saturday, September 13, 2008

An irrational measure of your coolness

Here's a meme making the rounds.


Wikipedia has assembled the Billboard hot 100 from 1940 on. Use this useless information to chart your life against the hits. This may reveal to you what a sad-geek month you were born in, or... how cheesy is the musical taste of the American People.

We have already established that I am not at all cool by most Internet quiz-measurements (which may also be uncool - who's to say?). Except the part where I turned out to be Spiderman. That was a high point.

You'll want to run through this exercise on your own birth week before you commit to burning a CD set for yourself. You may not like the results.

Anyway, it's a fun birthday gift idea that still comes in under $50 for most friends.
Share your birth week high/low hits with the Readership.

Billboard number 1 the day I was born
There, I've Said it Again....Bobby Vinton
this is not an auspicious beginning

By the following year, the Beatles had hit the scene, so things are picking up
(age 1) I Feel Fine... The Beatles
(2) We can Work it Out.... The Beatles

I am feeling cooler already

I am thinking you don't want a list of 45 pop songs. Do you? How sad. You must have some work to do. I'll give the highlights.

(3) I'm a Believer....The Monkees. Oh Davey... I love you so....
(6) Raindrops Keep Fallin... BJ Thomas. Did this win the Oscar? Does anyone remember why?
(8) Melanie's Brand New Key gives way to American Pie.
American Pie. That eats up a lot of CD space.

(11) Lucy in the Sky... the Elton John version, which I think still qualifies as Beatles-cool. If I count it, it is 6 Beatles songs already.
(12) 1976 was sooo awesome. Convoy...CW McCall.
I can sing every word. My CB handle was Green Jeans

(14) Baby Come Back... The Bee Gees.
Here comes Disco!

(17) Starting Over... John Lennon. How sad. Beatles count = 6
(18) Physical... Olivia Newton-John. Lennon sprains neck spinning in grave.

(20) Say Say Say... McCartney and Jackson.
The 80s just got BIG

(21) Like a Virgin... Madonna
(23) Walk Like an Egyptian... The Bangles

This being a line stolen from To Kill a Mockingbird, it holds a special (though quirky) place in my heart.


(27) Justify My Love...Madonna. Both of us are already too old for this music

before too long I will be hitting songs I don't know.

(29) I will always love you... Whitney Houston
Earlier today, the cube-row and I were discussing how we like Dolly's version so much better than this one, which sounds more like "I will always stalk you," as if rejected from the first version of DreamGirls. Dolly's is more wistful and mature.

(30 - 32)
Mariah Carey, BoyzIIMen, Mariah Carey & BoyzIIMen.
I have no memory of this chart domination.

After 35... I really don't know what these songs even are. It's true. Maybe I need a different chart.

(40) Hey Ya... OutKast
insert your own comment

This year's song is by "Flo Rida and T-Pain." And I would make fun of that if it weren't for Oingo Boingo, Duran Druan, and Skrittipolitti.

Final Beatles count - 6 Plus Elton.

Keep your feet on the ground, but keep reaching for the stars.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Who's that gal


I think it's more of a Lorraine Bracco than a Tina Fey.
I am suspicious of a woman my age who uses "gal" without irony.
Vocal talents by Julia Sweeney.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

God Bless the Readership

an UPDATE.

Sorry, just had to shout the Good News for Modern Man, which was the book I was trying to locate in my earlier post on Bibles of the 70's.

One of the faithful...readers, that is... provided the title for me, and a couple of choice images. You can take the girl out of Wheaton, but you can't get this book out of her parents' house, anymore than you would get it out of my own. parents' house. My sentence got away from me there.


Everybody sing! "Za...cchaeus was a wee little man, and a wee little man was he... He climbed way up in a sycamore tree for the Lord he wanted to see..."
Sycamore? Really? I'm skeptical.

Ok, let's unpack (as my friend Tavis Smiley likes to say) Good News for Modern Man (but not so modern he might be female)

Like everything else, it has its own Wikipedia entry, and if I had only remembered its title, I would have found it. And the author of those brilliant scriptographic line drawings, whose copyright I have apparently just violated. Because of that, I will not name her, in case she googles herself.
Thou shalt not steal. But thou also shalt not make graven images, so don't split hairs with me, A.V, you know who you are.

Kind of makes you feel stupid you didn't publish your own doodles, doesn't it? Fear not:


I just made this the desktop art on my work computer. Look at that frazzled rich guy. He's thinking about inventing the Blackberry.

Here are some books it outsold. It didn't have much competition.
Here is your youth minister locking you in.




Here's what's playing in the fellowship hall: