as an adopted child, Smith discovered that her biological father is Tlingit Eskimo; she describes the -eaux suffix as “just a playful jumble of letters that represents the way I record — a confusing layering of sounds that somehow coalesce into something simple.”.
Smith sings three songs in less than ten minutes. She has a pretty, unaffected voice–just clean and clear vocals. For the first two songs it’s just her and her guitar
“Folly” is a simple song as you might expect from just a strummed electric guitar. But there’s something about the way she sings her lines in a series of rising notes that is really inviting. She also has a nice way with words. Like:
In my dreams you’re a bathtub running / You are warm and tender / And bubbling
“A Hug Too Long” is a faster song with a simple but interesting guitar riff that’s followed by a simple but interesting vocal melody. Again, her clear voice fits perfectly with the music. It features the intriguing chorus: “You went to work, I went to New Brunswick.”
Her final song is “I Admit I’m Scared.” She has her bandmates from Bellows come out to sing with her. There’s no extra instrumentation, but Smith sings in a slightly deeper register and Bellows fleshes out sections of the song (they even do a kind of deadpan synchronized move after each chorus). Another great line of hers is: “And everything I said spewed like sparklers from my mouth. They looked pretty as they flew but now they’re useless and burnt out.” As the song ends, everyone sings louder “If I had a dime for every time I’m freaking out” which leads to a dramatic climax before the final resolution: “We could fly around the world / Or just get out of your parents’ house.”
Bob jokes at the end that they can come back any time with a new band. She says they have five other bands (including Told Slant and Small Wonder). He says “you could come in every Tuesday.”
Bellows isn’t that different from Eskimeaux in style–pretty, quiet songs that are articulate and almost deadpan. But having Smith sing (and presumably write) changes the way the style is created. Which is pretty cool.
[READ: June 8, 2016] The Complete Peanuts 1975-1976
I really enjoyed this book a lot. In the introduction, Robert Smigel talks about how it seems like in this era, Schulz turned a corner a bit to become more absurd. The jokes are sillier, with new characters and some crazy ideas–like talking buildings, pitching mounds and body parts. He wonders if it was Schulz’ happy marriage or just a desire to take some chances rather than repeating himself. But whatever the case, the book is really fun. I especially love the Peppermint Patty/Marcie strips in which Schulz just seems to be having a great time. I also love all of the jokes with Sally in which she makes herself laugh with some awful puns–I just imagine Schulz cracking himself up and not being able to wait to draw the strips.
But for all of the newness of the strips, Peanuts is always seasonal. So 1975 beings with ice skating and snowmen. Linus has made a snowman reclining and reading a book. Charlie asks if it’s Robert Frost and Linus snarks “You said it, I didn’t.”
Patty has been falling asleep a lot in school–her dad is away–and Snoopy makes as terrible watchdog for her. More funny Patty moments are when she is being so decisive about true false questions. “Irrefutably true, understandably false, intrinsically false, inherently false, charmingly true.” To which Franklin asks “Charmingly?” Patty also becomes the first disciple of the Great Pumpkin–but she blows it by asking for a gift, as if the Great Pumpkin is some kind of Santa Claus.
Sally is a character I didn’t much like in the early strips, but she is very funny now and might just be my favorite at this point. She is practicing her penmanship with very funny comments about seveneses and eights as snowmen, or parentheses that look like grass (the joke of her practicing her writing stays with us for many years).
And as always, she is full of malaprops. When school starts she says she wants to study Theology to learn about Moses, St. Paul and Minneapolis.
In a rare moment of bonding, Linus and Snoopy go out together to hunt for Truffles. And when they get to place where there might be some, a voice tells them that if they find anything, they are on her property. Things are pretty weird in these next few days because the girl who says this is named…Truffles and she looks very much unlike any other Peanuts character–her eyes are way different and even her mouth is weird. And of course, Linus and Snoopy fight over her. She also gets a shout out later at Christmastime.
There is a ton of tennis in this book (Billie Jean King should have written this one). In addition to the tennis there’s a lot of baseball (I feel like there has been more than in recent years). In April 1976, Patty’s team complains that they don’t have baseball caps (even Joe Garagiola has a cap). And Charlie wonders if he can trade Lucy to Charlie Finley (he was president of the Oakland A’s). There is also some hockey including Marcie saying “my grandfather plays left wing in the World Hockey Association (which existed from 1972-1979).
Summer camp in 1975 sees two very different plot lines. Joe Schlabotnik is going to be manager of the Waffletown Syrups, which is but a mile from summer camp. Charlie can’t wait to go! At the same time Patty and Macrie are going to fly in the 28th Annual PowerPuff Derby. I don’t know what this a reference to, but they plan to fly Snoopy’s Sopwith Camel, which is a pretty crazy joke to begin with. There’s several strips about this which only ends up in a weirder way when Snoopy needs his Sopwith Camel for more WWI action.
Meanwhile, Charlie has some major highs and lows (it’s nice to see him get some highs–he actually catches a foul ball!) But then Joe gets fired. And then a really ugly kid (with a pony tail) wants to fight Charlie for the foul ball.
I feel like Linus really had a good year in this book, too. Charlie says the secret of happiness is having “three things to look forward to and nothing to dread.” Linus replies “There’s a difference between a philosophy and a bumper sticker.”
I enjoyed Snoopy believing the myth that dragonflies sew your mouth shut (a common myth told to children which I have never hurt). But the biggest Snoopy news comes with the arrival of some family members.
In August of 1975, we get the first mention (and visual) of Snoopy’s brother Spike (with droopy eyes and a “mustache”). As he comes in he is rail thin until Lucy fattens him up (really fat). Spike lives in Needles with the coyotes. For Thanksgiving Snoopy goes to visit him, but they cross paths in the desert.
In the previous book Billie Jean King talked about how Schulz was quite the feminist and it really starts to show more in this book. When Schroeder disappoints her (again), she says “You hate women, don’t you?”
1975 & 1976 each have a football gag. 1975’s is funny in that Lucy complains that Charlie mistrusts her as a woman–does he mistrust all women, even his mother? When she pulls it away she says She is not his mother. In 1976, she is simply honest with him, telling him that she is going to pull the ball away and when she does she says “men never listen to what women are saying do they?”
In pop cultural references, In Nov 1975, Linus says he’ll never go swimming in the ocean again. Later Snoopy is doing a pawpet theater called Teeth. Both are clearly a reference to Jaws (which came out in summer of 1975).
Lucy mocks Beethoven twice with Elton John jokes. In the second one, she gives Schroeder Elton John glasses on Beethoven’s birthday.
December 1975 shows an observation about the bicentennial but there is no hoopla in 1976 about it at all. And as 1975 draws to a close Snoopy parties too much at Woodstock’s annual party. He ate 30 pizzas and drank 54 root beers because someone started talking about the Guinness book of world records (and then the phrase chug-a-lug).
In June 1976 Snoopy sets off to play in Wimbledon. But he goes by train and winds up in Kansas City where he meets Belle–his sister! Yet another member of the Snoopy family! Belle looks like snoopy but with big eyes, and she has a teenage son who is hilarious-very tall and skinny with dopey eyes.
In the beginning of 1976, the school building collapses. And we learn that it “had all I could take.” It killed itself. In addition to that being a very funny premise, it also allows or Charlie and Patty to be desk mates in her school (Your hip is touching my hip, Chuck). It starts out all nice but soon Patty is annoyed by everything he does and then he has a massive outburst and they both get sent to the principal. Things are so bad that Patty’s mood ring bursts (mood rings were created in 1975).
At the same time there’s an amusing six-week thread in which Snoopy breaks his leg tripping over his supper dish. He is laid up, sometimes on crutches and doing all kinds of funny nonsense.
Speaking of Snoopy 1975-1976 sees the arrival of Joe Motocross (the worlds worst motocross driver, evidently). I feel like I should have kept a running tally of all of the “Joe” characters he creates.
And Pig Pen makes a return appearance in April 1976–haven’t seen him in a long time. But it’s basically just a joke about how he’s dirty.
There’s a twist on Mothers Day in 1976 when Snoopy says something mean about Woodstock’s mother which then makes Snoopy feel very guilty on this “Stupid holiday.”
In May 1976 Snoopy has taken up jogging and Charlie gets him a jogging suit (which is way too big).
Probably my favorite sequence in the book comes at summer camp in 1976 when Marcie gets mad that a boy is calling her a name. Turns out the name is “Lambcake,” (!) and the boy really likes her. But at first, she tells Patty about him calling her names Patty says “tell him to shut up I’ll crack his binding and dim his outlook.” Marcie comments, “You have a colorful way of talking, sir.” And then Marcie takes action–first she hits the boy with the first aid kit, then with her lunch and then she pushes him off the dock and into poison a=oak. When it finally is revealed that he has a crush on her, she says he is jut being sarcastic. Patty convinces her that he was sincere but she says she is not ready for a boyfriend anyway.
When Lucy asks the gang if sports are too violent, everyone has an opinion. Franklin says in all his years of playing baseball he’s never been hit with a hockey stick. And when asked about cheap shots, Charlie replies that his dad told him “if I thought about school as much as I think about baseball, I’d be at the head of my class.” To which Lucy says, “Pretty cheap shot there, dad.”
Times are changing: the psychiatrist booth is now up to 10 cents (although it does go back to 5 cents).
When Patty gets in trouble in school, Sept 1976 she looks in to private school and then gets enrolled in (and graduates from) The Ace Obedience School. It’s wonderfully surreal that she doesn’t realize that she is the only human enrolled–she thinks all the other human students(who are so lazy they don’t do anything) just have pets at the school.
Patty’s great line when she graduates is that “a good education is the next best thing to a pushy mother.”
When Patty gets back to proper school and a kid mocks her, she says do you ever watch the 6 o’clock news?” “Sometimes, why?’ “Cause you’ll be on it! Pow. To which Marcie rightly concludes, “Sir, my admiration for you knows no bounds.”
As November draws to an end, Lucy wonders how come we’ve only been studying about men in history. She says during WWII her grandmother left her job in the defense plant and went to work in the telephone company.” As this segment ends, she concludes “We need to study the lives of great women like my grandmother… Talk to your own grandmother today ask her questions, you’ll find she knows more than peanut butter cookies.”
Oh And the stupid cat next door? We learn his name is World War II.
There are some great puns in this book like Lucy saying Snoopy “will never be a good theologian… he is too DOGmatic.” And later someone mentions “I’ve got some good gnus and some bad gnus for you.”
As the year ends, there’s s another New Years Eve party coming up at Woodstock’s and Patty is putting off on her Christmas holiday reading assignment–working very hard to avoid the homework.
Robert Smigel begins his introduction by talking about what a huge Peanuts fan he was and still is. He started getting the books as a young kid and his favorite strip was from June 28, 1956 (he says what it is but I’ll make you look it up). He appreciated cartoons that were about melancholia because other comics didn’t talk about that. Peanuts was a way for kids to accept that everything wasn’t rosy all the time.
Smigel says Schulz shifted the balance of humor from escapism to reflecting on ourselves. There is a direct line between Peanuts and today’s observational humor. Although really it has influenced just about everyone.
I like his suggestion that Woodstock rejecting toast that is burnt is a direct line to Seinfeld‘s homeless woman rejection of muffin bottoms.
As mentioned earlier, he feels like this book takes a sharp turn toward the absurd, with jokes that are lighter and sillier than ones from even a few years earlier.
Smigel is totally quotable, noting that Charlie Brown didn’t keep trying to kick the ball because of inner strength and resolve but because he was weak and couldn’t help himself. He ends by saying that “Christmastime is Here” is the “saddest happy song I’ve ever heard.”