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Entry date: 1-13-2024 – Wake and Shake – Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

 

When I let the dogs out this morning to do their business and get some food, it was freaking cold. I probably should have put a jacket on to go outside. I love it when Phoenix gets cold for our week or so of winter. As a person who loves shoes and jackets, I can wear some of the warm coats I store for the other 51 weeks a year.

 

Last night when I got off work, I was tired. The little cretins just sucked it all out of me this week and there was nothing to put back in the tank. I missed out on a nice evening at the J’s because I couldn’t have kept my eyes open or have been any kind of social.

 

Instead, I ate some leftovers and watched approximately one and a half episodes of Northern Exposure. I freaking love that show. Watching it again brings me right back to when I used to watch it back in the 90s when it was originally aired. It was one of the few network shows in those days I would make a point to watch on a regular basis.

 

Amazon Prime has all the seasons right now and I’ve been enjoying them immensely. What a great cast of characters and the actors who played them almost all at the top of their game. It is fun to see how they tackled a lot of the same issues we are still having as a society in the microcosm of a small, Alaskan town. I’m so glad we have learned our lessons.

 

Obviously, we have not learned any lessons as a society if you judge our current state of affairs by how issues like acceptance of those who are different than us were handled on Northern Exposure. The running theme of the first couple of seasons (that’s as far as I am so far) is how we have to embrace people and the ideas and beliefs that are not like ours and even if we don’t come to agree, at very least, we come to a point of mutual respect.

 

It's sad that a lot of what the writers of Northern Exposure were trying to say would not get greenlit today or would be vastly different in tone. It seems they were really thumbing their noses at a lot of suspect ideologies at the time and I’m curious if that nose thumbing would be supported today.

 

I watched an episode last night where two gay characters bought a home in Cicely, the fictional town in Alaska where the action takes place, to open a bed and breakfast. This went against everything “Maurice” (played expertly by the great Barry Corbin) stood for, but only after the openly gay characters insinuated that “Maurice” was like them based on his love of the finer things and show tunes. How would this story line be handled today, if at all?

 

Would there just be a stereotypical gay couple running a bed and breakfast in town? Would a show today even address the prejudices of a character like “Maurice” in a way that shows actual growth and acceptance that people are just people, regardless of who they make the flippy floppy with at home? This was the last episode of the second short season and it will be interesting to see if some of the same fire to take on the establishment will still be present when I start the season three episodes.

 

***** 

 

Pluto floats out there.

Is it a planet?

Is it a star?

It’s not a star, but it might be a planet.

 

Pluto floats out there.

So far away.

Inconceivably far.

Is it okay to dream about it?

 

Pluto floats out there.

How do we know?

How do we know if anything is really real?

I don’t know…

 

But it is okay to dream.

 

*****

 

About three years ago, I stumbled across the song, “Buttered Popcorn” by The Supremes. I was looking to include as much music in my classroom by women and people of color because my classroom was not made up of old, white dudes. The song latched onto my consciousness and has never let go.

 

Meet the Supremes came out almost sixty-two years ago. It was their first record and introduced the world to Diana Ross, Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson, and Barbara Martin. Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson’s hands are all over this record, too, but I could care less about them. Over the last few years, I have kept coming back to the record because every few months of so, these words pop into my head:

 

“My baby likes buttered popcorn, uh huh, buttered popcorn, uh huh, buttered popcorn.”

 

It’s the fourth track on the record, but I’ve stopped skipping the other tracks as of late. Something about this record reminds me of some of the films I love that are set in the early 1960s like Animal House, That Thing You Do, and The Wanderers. Those movies make me nostalgic for a time I didn’t get to experience and this record just oozes that time period.

 

(It occurs to me that two of the films I mentioned feature Karen Allen. Side note: I had the hugest crush on her as a kid. Huge. As I got older and learned to appreciate a finely turned performance, I realized that one of the things I love about her the most is that she is extremely talented and never mailed it in once while working on a movie.)

 

The thing about “Buttered Popcorn” in the context of the whole record is how it really kind of kicks the record off as more than just something to play in the background while making out in a dimly lit basement (nod to Wanderers). The whole mood of the record shifts as the gals in The Supremes get a little bawdy. Listen to the words and see if you agree.

 

In reading a little about the record, it was interesting to find out that none of the songs on here were ever big hits for the band. It seems like “Buttered Popcorn” or “You Bring Back Memories” would have been more well received. I guess it was still the early 60s, though. Maybe the world wasn’t ready for these ladies just yet.

 

My knowledge of the early Motown stuff is really lacking, though. As I type this, I feel like I am trying to justify my love of it to my teenage self who would not have been caught dead listening to The Supremes. The internal argument is firing on all cylinders right now. One part of me is screaming, “You don’t like this stuff!” while my adult brain is like, “Hell yes I do!” It’s a battle.

 

*****

 

Enjoy the day, people.

 

See you tomorrow.



An organ I know that's for sale. It has a Leslie speaker in it.

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