I set tiny, manageable goals for this blog. They often change over the course of the year, but I like to see if I can complete them. One such goal was to write about all of the Tiny Desk Concerts from 2014. And here’s the final one. (Another such goal is to write about the remainder of the 2016 shows, which is doable). I also want to write about all of the rest of the First Second Graphic Novels (there’s about 20 of them left). Insignificant goals that I find satisfying to complete.
I’ve never been a fan of Lucinda Williams. Although, while I’d certainly heard of her, I obviously didn’t know any of her music. The blurb talks about her distinctive voice. And it is certainly that. About 20 years ago a sort of friend of mine saw her open for somebody else and she dismissed Williams as trying to sound like a different singer (wish I could remember who it was). The irony that Williams has been around since the late 1970s was not lost on me.
But Williams has changed her style over the years. She originally sang country and has morphed into more of a folk and now a blues style. This Tiny Desk Concert focuses on her bluesy songs. I know she’s something of a legend, but I found her demeanor through the whole show off-putting until the end, when she loosened up a bit.
She sings four songs. “Something Wicked This Way Comes” is rocking blues song. And I have to say I was pretty shocked by her voice–rough and raspy and sounding not a little hungover. Her lead guitarist was really the start for me, effortlessly playing some great groovy licks.
For “Cold Day in Hell” (she laughs at saying the title) she straps on an acoustic guitar and then sings like Tom Waits. That seems like a joke, but the structure of the verses is pure Tom Waits–I would have even suggested he wrote the song.
The third song is the more bluesy “Protection.” There seems something so inauthentic about this song. I just don’t believe her rendition of it–I don’t believe that she actually needs protection. It’s really disconcerting.
She finally smiles after this song and says “Now I’m kinda getting used to this … I’m not a wake yet, that’s what the thing is. She straps on her guitar and says this is based on the story of the West Memphis Three. It’ my favorite song of the four–she seems to really get into it.
But all the same, I really don’t like her voice all that much–she’s got a weird drawl and sounds like there are some marbles in her mouth. It’s very strange. I listened to a bit of a song from a live show from 1989 and her voice was quite pretty–deep, yes, but very pretty. By 2007, her voice has changed–it’s deeper, with a pronounced drawl. At a show in 2013, she sounded kind of pretty again. So, I don’t know what to make of it. I’ll have to just go back to not listening to her.
[READ: June 8, 2016] The Complete Peanuts 1973-1974
I really enjoyed this volume a lot. There were a lot of really funny jokes and the characters are really nicely distributed by now. I don’t want to say that Schulz hit his stride around this time, because he’s been pretty solid right from the start, but this book was easily my favorite so far. Possibly because it contained so much of Marcie and Patty who have easily become my favorites.
The year starts off somewhat inauspiciously with the anticlimactic return of Poochie. She shows up, realizes that Snoopy isn’t a cute puppy anymore and leaves. Never to be seen again.
More interesting is that Linus decides that since Charlie has been their manager for so long and worked so hard that they ought to throw him a commemorative dinner. They plan it for a couple of weeks and when he finally hears about it, his smile is awesome. They even get Joe Schlobotnick to agree to come. Of course, then Marcie starts saying that they’d all be hypocrites if they actually showed up and said nice things about him since he’s a terrible manager. And so they cancel it at the last-minute–while Charlie is there.
The next big theme is that Snoopy has been nominated for the Daisy Hill Puppy Cup. The funniest moment is when he is filling out the form and it says Owner and Charlie has to tell him This joke about Snoopy not knowing his owner gets used a lot over the next few years and it’s pretty much always funny. And much like his owner, Snoopy fails to get the prize. This surprises me since Snoopy is so hip and cool, but he does wind up losing quite a number of contests.
Rerun makes his first appearance on March 26, 1973 and he brings insight from the POV of a one year old. But more importantly–he plays baseball for the team. He is so short that no one can strike him out and the team wins their first game because of a walk. The victory is sweet until it is revoked because Rerun was caught betting on the game (a nickel).
In January 1974 Rerun is seen riding the back of his mom’s bike–this is actually what I remember most about Rerun. And indeed, this joke of him sitting back there gets used throughout the 70s and 80s. His mom isn’t a very good rider and lot so bad things happen to him back there.
The 1973 April Fools joke is very funny as Lucy tells Charlie about six times that it is the First Day of April and then say that the red-haired girl is at the door. “Like shooting fish in a barrel.”
I mentioned that there are some really funny jokes in this year. The two main types of jokes are lots of puns which are groan-worthy but often funny (coming from Snoopy at this typewriter) and then ones where people take things the wrong way. So Charlie says to Lucy “Someone has said that we should live each day as if it were the last day of our life.” To which Lucy yells, “AAUGGHH This is the last day… I only have twenty-four hours left! Help me!”
Marcie gets a whole plot line in May when Charlie and Patty decide to put on a charity baseball game (for stomachaches). Patty enlists Marcie to go door to door to sell tickets. She gets nothing but abuse and after a few days she totally freaks out. When she says that she is a failure, Snoopy kisses her on the cheek and says Poor Sweet Baby. Later in the same series, when Chuck feels bad that they will have to cancel the game and that he never does anything right Patty kisses him on the cheek and says “Poor Sweet Baby” (which is a call back to a story a few months earlier and is a common joke throughout the year).
Patty keeps trying to get Marcie to play ball although Marcie says she hates sports and does care about wining or anything. But she proves to be very good at a baseball–an amazing fielder. This is especially true in March 1974 when she makes a great play and then says, I don’t play baseball sir. But when she comes to one of the games Thibault makes a return and he says he’s not playing with a dumb girl (Patty asks what he thinks she is?) Thibault eventually says to Marcie, “Girls don’t have to see anything! What a waste of money spending it on glasses for a girl. You don’t need glasses to scrub floors and do dishes and make beds.” Two panels later she belts him. (Way to go , Marcie). And all along Patty keeps telling her to stop calling her sir.”
Later Marcie learns about Linus and the Great Pumpkin. When she runs into him her only comment is “I’ve heard about you.”
For 1973’s football gag, Lucy asks Charlie what three things are certain. Death taxes and …well, you get the joke. In 1974, Lucy pulls the ball away by showing him a program which say sat one o clock Lucille Van Pelt will hold the football and Charlie Brown will run up and kick it. But then she says there are always a few last-minute changes.
Tennis makes a huge comeback in this book (which might explain the Billie Jean King intro). Mostly it is Snoopy playing–we never see his opponent–and making observations about his game. On a Sunday in July, Lucy is angry saying she’ll never get over it and then we see her writing a note: “Dear Bobby Riggs, You were lucky!!!” The real reason for the BJK intro comes on 188 when Patty says to Marcie, “Marcie has anyone ever told you that when you’re mad you look just like Billie Jean King?”
As summer comes, Charlie keeps dreaming about baseball–the sun is a ball, the moon is a ball and when he wakes up he has baseball stitches along the back of his head. Before he goes to summer camp he puts a bag over his head to hide the stitches (or rash). People love him and start calling him “Sack,” and he even gets elected Camp President: “Life here in camp is wonderful.” People defend him and fight for him until he takes off the sack. And then it all returns. As he baseball joke gets to the end, Charlie wonders if the sun will b a ball but instead the sun is Alfred E Newman!
In other pop culture news, in December 1973 Lucy spoils Citizen Kane for Linus (and presumably every one). The comet Kohoutek is in the sky causing Snoopy and Woodstock to think the world is going to end. And in May 1974, there is one panel where Snoopy takes up “streaking.”
In other baseball news Snoopy is on the verge of breaking Babe Ruth’s home run record and might do it before Hank Aaron–but he comes up shy for an unexpected reason.
On Aug 5 in 1973 and 1974 Schulz writes on Snoopy’s doghouse: Happy Birthday, Amy.
Of the many puns that snoopy types this one was my favorite: “You’ll never make any money growing toadstool,” she complained. On the contrary he declared, “my toadstool business in mushrooming.”
We learn a bit more about Patty as well. Like that she doesn’t have a mother. So when her dad goes away she asks if she can sleep at Chuck’s house. She says she will sleep in the guest house (Snoopy’s dog house) although her head is outside the whole time so she gets rained on many nights, Patty also continues to be a terrible student… often getting a Z on her assignments. The first time she gets the Z, she tells the principal, “it’s not a grade, its sarcasm.” And after freaking out about something and going to Snoopy for help, in March 1974 Marcie finally reveals to Patty that Snoopy is a Beagle. Patty simply doesn’t accept it.
In Oct 1973, there’s a daylight savings time joke–Snoopy is an hour early for dinner. In Feb 1974 there’s another one when the time shifts back and Snoopy “misses” his dinner: Charlie dances Suppertime! Oh he missed his suppertime!
In December, Charlie learns that “they” have organized a snowman building league and if you’re not in the league you can’t build any. Charlie is disgusted by this, and he says something that we think parents only complain bout now: “Why cant kids just do things on their own. Why does everything have to be organized? Why do we have to have trophies. Who cares who wins?” That was in 1973.
In May 1974, Snoopy enters Scouts. He starts out as a tenderpaw and hopes to make it to Beagle Scout. He winds up getting lost in the woods and is recused by a Girl Scout who says , “Hello! My name is Loretta and I’m selling girl scout cookies.”
In June of 1974 Lucy asks Patty to get her ears pierced with her. I love Patty’s answer: “Oh, I have no doubts about my femininity Lucy.” Marcie says they are going to get hepatitis if they go to the store in the mall. Lucy forges a permission letter for Patty: “Dear Doctor. Okay let her have her dumb ears pierced. I am sick and tired of arguing with her. What can I do? Let her learn the hard way.” Which everyone agrees is exactly right.
They decide to take turns getting their ears pierced. Patty goes first and screams and Lucy runs off. Patty freaks out and now only has pierced “What am I going to do with one pierced ear?” Finally, Patty asks Marcie, what do girls like us with long hair need with pierce ears? The great punchline is that Marcie had her ears pierced last year.
Later in the summer of 1974 everyone is trying to get out of going to camp by filling out an application for not going to camp (it sounds like a draft notice). Everyone is successful except Charlie. But he never shows up at camp–he has gone AWOL. He hangs out on the pitcher’s mound. When Sally fins him she says, Why didn’t you go to Canada? You can’t even run away right.”
In July, Charlie has a lousy time at party. No surprise, but a girl leaves him a note apologizing for being mean to him and saying he should come over. When he finally gets up the nerve to ring her bell, it’s Loretta and she tries to sell him girl scout cookies
Sally really comes into her own at the end of this year. In August she takes Theodore Roosevelt’s advice and decides to speak softly and carry a beagle–she uses snoopy and his scary growl to scare the other kids away from the playground. As school looms, she goes up to the building and starts yelling at it: “This year I’m going to bring you to your knees,” which makes the building sigh. She keeps returning and eventually the building thinks, “look closer kid and I’ll drop a brick on you.” And then she changes her mind. She walks up and touches the building ans says, “Your bricks are cool.” which makes the building show a heart. And later when she is sick and doesn’t show up the building is sad She asks Charlie to tell the building that she is sorry for not coming to school. Of course, Lucy sees him and yells at him for talking to a stupid building (it drops a brick on her). And then Charlie is brought before the principal for talking to the building (he is accused of vandalism)
As this sequence ends, Sally says I used to hate going to school but since I’ve gotten to know you everything is different and then hugs the building to which the building replies “I can’t believe it… somebody loves me!” Later the building even says to her “Poor Sweet Baby.” Later tells him that she went to see the court-house on a school trip, the school says “My brother IS the court-house.”
But for everyone else, school is fraught with peril because everyone should be learning to “Think metric.”
Snoopy also begins doing a lot of Pawpet Theaters. He shows Bible stories (the parting of the red sea is very funny). Mostly he does the same moves but with different punchlines.
As winter comes in 1974 Patty takes up ice skating. She wishes to be a famous ice skater and asks Marcie to sew her an outfit. Marcie of course, can’t sew. She takes Patty’s measurements: “your waist is 23 inches, your hips are 28 inches and your…your…uh… your… you…” “Bust Marcie, it’s a perfectly legitimate sewing term.” Marcie stammers, “Twenty-six inches sir.” and passes out. After weeks of preparation, she makes what is basically a bag (with no sleeves).
Later, while Patty is practicing, Franklin is on the ice. She tells him to get out of the way. He says he’s practicing to become a great hockey player. To which she replies “How many black players in the NHL, Franklin?”
Still skating. Snoopy becomes her mean coach but she keeps trying. Marcie’s mom makes Patty a dress and she loves. Then she needs to do her hair. Chuck’s dad is a barber. This sequence ends with the hilarious punchline: “You didn’t tell him I’m a girl?” She winds up getting a big afro wig. And when she finally shows up to the competition, it turns out to be a roller skating
There is no great pumpkin in 1974 and there’s no overtly Christmassy strip either–Woodstock winds up getting a bike for Christmas (that was actually meant for Sally’s dolls). No cliffhanger at the end of the book, just a Happy New Year to all with Woodstock passing our from too much root beer.
By the way Schroeder and Lucy are thrown in throughout, with Lucy trying different ways to get Schroeder to do something nice for her, but he never does. She finally gets so mad at him that in early October 1974 she throws his piano down the sewer. He freaks out and climbs down and even plays it down there until it rains and gets sucked out the storm drain–he has to call for another one and Lucy shouts take your time!
I was surprised to see that Billie Jean King wrote the introduction until I saw her mentioned in the strips a few times. But she says that she had always loved Peanuts and that she and Schulz became good friends She says they both were huge supporters of Title IX and women’s sports She says that Schulz was a good tennis player himself.
He once listed Dwight Eisenhower, Sam Snead and Billie Jean King as his favorite people. She loved the joke about Marcie looking like her and her friends had a field day with that. She says that he rarely phoned her but when he wanted to talk to her, he would throw her name in a strip knowing she would read it and call him.
It was such a delightful introduction.