Big, Bad John
06 August 2022
Hellew, everyone. I hope you are well. Missed you last week.
Nothing new in my neck of the woods (same ills, same story), so nothing worth reporting. My younger two kids are enjoying the summer visiting friends, with the youngest having a flurry of sleepovers there, here, there, here, so much we've forgotten whether she's coming or going. And our oldest, out in the world, has gotten herself a promotion to crew trainer, and a nice raise. We're so proud of her:
So without further ado, let's jump in:
August will be devoted to story songs. Here's the first.
Big, Bad John (1961)
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.
1) This song tells the story of a stern, enigmatic miner. None of the other miners knew much about him. When people first meet you, do you think they see you more as mysterious or straightforward?
Haha, well, just like here, I'm an open book. Since I have a number piercings above the neck, the biggest mystery for people seems to be whether I have any more.
2) During a serious accident, many of the miners panicked. But not John. Think of your family, friends and acquaintances. Who would be the most dependable in a crisis?
Oh, definitely Rob (Hubs). He's cool and level-headed for that, whereas I am tailor-made to go into full-blown panic mode every.time. Plus, he's extremely well trained for crisis and survival, so if something were to happen, I would absolutely look to him to lead us through it.
3) His heroism allowed 20 miners to escape, but cost John his life. According to the lyrics, there's a marble slab on site of mine that honors him. Is there a memorial to a local hero in your town?
Oh, I'm sure there are other memorials here in our newish-adopted home town, but the one I'll mention here is a historical marker put up last year to memorialize three young Black men who were victims of lynching in the 1900s. It was time history paid them their due notice, although one of them is "uknown," sadly.
4) This song was written and performed by Jimmy Dean. He began composing it on a flight from New York to Nashville. How do you amuse yourself while traveling?
Well, it partly depends on how long the flight is, partly on where I'm going and with whom, and partly on what I'm going there to do. Sometimes I'll read a book or magazine. Sometimes I'll watch the in-flight movie. But you know what often entertains me? Reading the Sky magazine (or whichever, whatever) in the back of the seat in front of me. I freakin' love Hammacher Schlemmer!
5) Jimmy Dean hosted a long-running variety show on CBS, which is best-remembered today for introducing Jim Henson's puppets -- especially Rowlf, a dog who sang and told jokes. While Rowlf didn't make it to Sesame Street, he was a recurring character on the Muppet Show. Are you a Muppet fan?
I was a little kid watching the Muppet Show, and I was a huge, huge fan, along with my sister. And then as a young mom, it was fun to see them revived while my kids were little. But now, they've done so many iterations of the show and movies, I feel like it's time for them to step back and take a deep breath.
6) Jimmy found success in business with The Jimmy Dean Sausage Company. He sold the company to Sara Lee in 1984 for $80 million. Today Jimmy Dean breakfast products are still popular in grocery stores all over the country. What's your favorite breakfast?
Hard to say. I eat to keep my blood sugar level more often than not. Sometimes I'll eat frozen waffles with sliced strawberries on them. Sometimes I'll eat Special K Vanilla Almond cereal, with extra sliced almonds and almond milk. Usually it's one of those.
7) In 1961, when this song was popular, Vogue asked if fashion sense is inborn or if could a woman could learn to be chic. What do you think? Do you think style is either something you have, or you don't?
I think one (any gender, any sex) is born with a gene that, if turned on, enables one to learn to be fashionable. It's not really about fashion sense being genetic, though, is it? An eye for color, for texture, for patterns, and so on. I myself do not possess this gene, just so you know.
8) Also in 1961, Ernest Hemingway took his own life. Did you read Hemingway in English class? Can you recall any other novels you read for school?
I'm horrified to report that I never read any Hemingway novels in school, although I did read An Old Man and the Sea in my last semester as an undergrad. I'll have to rectify that. (I have, however, visited Hemingway house at least three times, been back and forth past it at least a dozen or two times and am intimately familiar with the six-toed cats there, and tossed back a drink in Sloppy Joes with Hubs in Key West. Plus, we moved to Idaho. See? This all counts, right?) I can remember countless novels and short stories. No one ever seems to remember reading a short story by Eudora Welty. I think the story was about a path, in the woods? But I'll have to go back later and look this up. My favorite short story, of course, is "The Lottery," by Shirley Jackson. Good stuff. Heh.
But of course, you asked for novels. We definitely read To Kill a Mockingbird. More than once, at least. Night, by Elie Wiesel. (I own that book now; he was a professor at University of South Florida in St. Petersburg, while I lived there and was attending USF, but in Tampa, before he died. I never got to meet him but would have loved to have met this hero.) Lots of Tennessee Williams and Shakespeare, but again, novels, not plays. Let me get back to you! Ha.
Edit: I also own To Kill a Mockingbird. Didn't want Harper Lee over there feeling left out.
9) Random question: Think about the last "white lie" you told. Was it to make your own day easier or spare someone's feelings?
Maybe it was both? I don't know?? My short-term memory is pretty obliterated as a result of everything I've got going on, so I have an extremely hard time remembering day-to-day conversations. Maybe I can find something in a text. Stay put...
...I couldn't discover anything of this nature, and Rob was no help in telling me what was the last white lie I told. Imagine. I'm going to go out on a limb and say it was probably to easy-on-up my own day. Those are rough enough, and I probably needed it. But don't get me wrong, I'm a strong empath and would do what I could for someone's feelings in a New York Minute.
Well, I got done here right on the dot of noon o'clock. Taking out all the pictures and illustrations was definitely faster, but also -- weird! I miss it.
Raining cats and dogs here, folks; how's by you?