The Cure for Summer Boredom

The Sissy Spacek Movie Marathon

Sunday, June 16
10:30 a.m.
Badlands (1973)
A teenager from Texas (Sissy Spacek) is corrupted by an older man with a penchant for criminal acts and cross-country driving.

Every summer, the local TV station out of Big City, Texas, aired the Sissy Spacek Movie Marathon for the entertainment and edification of rural children like myself. Three months of Coal Miner’s Daughter, Badlands, Crimes of the Heart, and JFK made for an instructive and relevant alternative to summer school. Instead of being overtaken with idleness, we learned how to accept the oppression of poverty, how to run away from home with a hooligan boyfriend, how to shoot a cheating husband, and how to assassinate a standing president. All useful skills for a girl of my social standing.

Cure-for-Summer-Boredom_Book-Ad_wife's-secret-confession

I arranged myself on the couch bright and early on the first day of the marathon, just like every summer. I positioned a box of Lucky Charms on the coffee table, placed a carton of milk beside it, and clicked on the TV. Badlands was the first film of the summer, which was not a movie to be tardy for.

“My mother died of pneumonia when I was just a kid,” Sissy Spacek began. “My father had—”

At this precise moment, a scruffy, unwashed man wandered into the living room.

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What are you eating?

edible-glitter

I recently joined Linda Hill over at Linda’s Book Bag for a talk about books, keeping summer boredom at bay, and the world’s strangest pizza topping.

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The Somwärin Soothsayer: A Not-Yet-Newspaper

Much as I hated to admit it, Opal, Mama, and Mama’s lady friends had a point: Whenever I got bored, I made trouble.

Just like Daddy.

Once upon a time, Somwärin had itself a daily newspaper, The Somwärin Sentinel.

Cure-for-Summer-Boredom_Lady-in-a-turban-2

“Can any of you kids tell me what a sentinel is?” I remember the enthusiastic editor asking my class of grubby kindergartners when we took a field trip to the newspaper office, housed in the sturdy red brick building that has since become the Pubic Library.

“A sentinel is someone who watches,” our town’s only journalist said, rubbing his ink-stained hands together. “That’s what a reporter does. They watch what’s happening around them, then tell other people about it. What they tell them is called ‘news.’ News is printed in the newspaper, which is given to everyone in Somwärin. Isn’t that amazing?”

It was not amazing, as I recall. What was amazing was the editor’s inexorable descent into madness at the hands of Daddy. And it only took four short summers.

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Dr. Dick vs. Dr. Flo

Though Somwärin was a highly abbreviated town, I had no doubt Dr. Dick would find a way to lose himself in the three blocks from its outer edge to Dr. Flo’s clinic at the heart of the municipality.

I took him by his tweedy elbow and steered him a course straight and true past the Swedish Embassy and Beauty Parlor and Coffee Shop, past the Celestial Temple of Psychedelic Truth and City Administration, past the forbidding Tree of Contemplation, to the antiseptic front door of Dr. Flo’s clinic.

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