Friday, October 13, 2023

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Goodbye, Cruel World (1961)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.
1) This week's song has a circus theme. Have you ever been to a circus? If yes, did you enjoy it? Yes, when I was very little (pre-school? Kindergarten?). No, I didn't enjoy it. It was an old-school three-ring circus and it was too much for me, I didn't know what to focus on and it upset me. Also, the candy vendor only had those marshmallow peanuts. I remember thinking they were yucky. Everything was yucky. I realize the problem wasn't the circus, it was that I was too young.
They didn't taste like peanuts at all!

2) James Darren sings that he's running away to join the circus. When you were a kid, did you ever run away from home? Yes. I was a little older than I was when we went to the  circus, but not by much. I packed underpants, a jar of peanut butter and a spoon in a tote bag. I told my parents I'd taken the peanut butter and the spoon and explained my intent. They told me they understood, and that I was welcome to come back home anytime. Then my plush Lassie dog and I were off. I made it about two houses away, realized it was dark and scary, and came back. I told my parents I planned to take off again in the morning. Of course I did not. I know this story so well because my parents loved it and retold it countless times. Apparently it was hard for them not to laugh at how earnest I was that I was not stealing the peanut butter. My favorite part of the story is that, unbeknownst to me, my dad was outside in the bushes watching me, ready to stop me if I headed toward the busy street. He was not a very hands-on father, and the thought of him crouching among those pine shrubs touches me.
3) While he understands intellectually that this girl is no good for him, he tells us his heart is stubborn. Do you have a stubborn streak? Yes. My two biggest faults are that I am stubborn and lazy. Not an attractive combination and I'm working on it.

4) Though he had three top 20 singles, including this one, James Darren found more consistent success as an actor. Between 1959 and 1963, he played surfer Jeff Matthews, aka "Moondoggie," in three Gidget movies. Have you seen any Gidget movies? What about the TV show, starring Sally Field? Yes. Enjoyed them all in their time, though I don't watch them now.

5) "Moondoggie" got his unique nickname because he enjoyed surfing in the moonlight. Looking back on Summer 2023, did you visit the beach (by moonlight or otherwise)? Not in the summer. But in March I went to Tampa to visit my Cousin Rose. She took me to John's Pass, which is touristy but delightful (after all, I was a tourist!) and I wiggled my toes in the sand and then we took a boat ride.
Greetings from the Gulf of Mexico

6) While he was playing Gidget's teen dream, he was a married man. He wed Danish beauty queen Evy Norlund in 1960. They met when she came to Los Angeles to pursue a career and they were both working at Columbia Studios. More than 60 years later, they're still together. Tell us about the longest-married couple you know. I guess that would be Mindy and Alan. They were married in (I believe) 1987. I remember when they met on a blind date set up by a woman Mindy met at a photography class. They have been through a great deal together -- infertility and health problems, financial setbacks -- but they have seemed happy with each other throughout.

7) James Darren also played Officer James Corrigan on ABC's police drama, TJ Hooker. Have you ever considered a career in law enforcement? Nope. I'm too chicken.

8) In 1961, when this song was on the radio, matching his & hers mohair sweaters were on trend. Do you have a favorite sweater? Yes. It's very loose and long and blue. I got it from Goodwill! I went through the store after I dropped off a box of my own gently-used items. I wanted to see the prices in the store so I could accurately value my donation at tax time. Anyway, I saw it hanging on the end cap and I fell in love. I've had it so long that I've had to mend it, but I don't care. It's forever my fave.

9) Random question -- They say we're all young at heart. In what ways are you childlike? I believe I do good in the world. I know my contributions are not mighty or noteworthy (sending postcards for candidates/causes I believe in, writing Letters Against Isolation) but I believe if we all do what we can we make the world a better place. I know how corny that sounds, but I have believed it since I was a little girl and first heard, "Ask not what your country can do for you ..."


The world is in crisis. Hamas attacked Israel in the most shocking, cruel way. Now Israel is retaliating and the body count is skyrocketing. The Ukrainian people continue to fight for their autonomy against a land-grabbing Russian regime. And who is far and away the front runner for the GOP nomination?

A man who said to The Proud Boys, "Stand back and stand by." Even before The Proud Boys rioted on the Capitol on January 6, they were a force at the "Unite the Right" riot in Charlottesville, where they chanted, "Jews will not replace us." 

A man who waved around a classified Pentagon document about a potential attack on Iran, just to make a point so he would get a favorable write-up in an upcoming book.

A man promises to end the Ukraine War in 24 hours. Considering his ongoing bromance with Putin, I think we can all imagine the concessions he'd insist the Ukrainians make.

Sometimes it feels like Joe Biden is the only one who can unite the US and our European allies to save the world. Often it feels like Joe Biden is the only one who can save us from Donald Trump.

I don't pretend to understand why so many of our countrymen are in Trump's thrall. I just hope the devastating, consequential times we live in will cause them to reassess and perhaps put larger interests ahead of their own.

If not? Well, to quote former Trump chief of staff, retired General John Kelly: God help us.


And the beat goes on

Here's the Amazon page
I admit I've had the blues all week. A lot of it is because of the ugly attack on Israel and the ensuing war. Much of it is because of The Girls, the novel by Emma Cline I recently finished. 

It's told from the perspective of a woman looking back on her teen years in the late 1960s and how she somehow, improbably and yet in a way, inevitably, ended up in a commune. Headed by a charismatic madman, a thwarted rock star, who managed to convince a band of middle-class white girls to commit one of the most infamous and bloody mass murders of a very bloody decade.

Obviously based on the Manson Family and the Sharon Tate murders, it's not really very violent. At least not in the conventional, literal sense. I found it terribly painful and exhausting emotionally because it reminded me of my own high school years. No, I was never seduced into a cult. Because we didn't have a cult nearby.

But I did feel completely lost during those years. It was Vietnam, Watergate and Patty Hearst. My parents' marriage and finances were unraveling and neither of them handled it well. The adult world seemed malignant and corrupt. My classmates were into pep clubs and making floats while everything around us was spinning down into the abyss. I felt like a fraud when I pretended to care about those things. Oh yeah, and to make matters worse, there was disco.

When I mentioned in last week's Saturday 9 that I was miserable in high school, a well-meaning but presumptuous commenter assumed I'd been bullied. That might have been simpler and easier to recover from. No, I had friends. I was not bullied. I was just deeply disillusioned, lonely and isolated.

Watching the world now, I worry about today's 16-year-old girls. As I could not fathom my church-going dad's full-throated support of Nixon, they must look at the hypocrisy of their Christian parents wearing MAGA hats and find them deplorable. How can they trust an adult world that values the rights of gun owners over their own safety, offering them nothing more than "thoughts and prayers" as comfort after school shooting after school shooting? Or mocks environmental activism and blissfully leaves the next generation with a planet in peril?

I have to stop now. Remembering the teenage me just makes me ache too much for this new generation of girls.