LOW MEN IN YELLOW COATS (cont.)
Cosmic Engineers, by Clifford D. Simak; The Roman Hat Mystery, by Ellery Queen; and The Inheritors, by William Golding.
Cosmic Engineers (1950) is a science fiction novel by American author Clifford D. Simak. The novel was originally serialized in the magazine Astounding in 1939. The plot concerns a group of earthlings who are awakened from suspended animation by aliens trying to prevent the collision of two universes.
The Roman Hat Mystery (1929) by Ellery Queen is the first of the Ellery Queen mysteries.
“Ellery Queen” were two cousins (Frederic Dannay and Manfred Bennington Lee) who wrote, edited, and anthologized detective fiction under the pseudonym of Ellery Queen. Their main fictional character, who shared the same name, is a mystery writer and amateur detective who helps his father, Richard Queen, a NYC police inspector, solve baffling murders.
(All this time, I’ve thought Ellery Queen was a female detective.)
The Inheritors (1955) is a work of prehistoric fiction and William Golding’s follow-up to Lord of the Flies (1954).
Hawaiian Eye was on at nine o’clock.
Hawaiian Eye was an American detective television series that ran from October 1959 to April 1963 on ABC, starring Anthony Eisley and Robert Conrad.
He was sure that Tommy “Hurricane” Haywood was right now being photographed in his corner at The Garden, bruised but beaming as the flashbulbs splashed white light over his face. The Gillette Blue Blades Girl would be there with him, her arm around his shoulders, his hand around her waist as Eddie Albini slumped forgotten in his own corner.
(p.197 – 198)
Invented characters, though Rubin Carter (1937 – 2014) was a middleweight boxer known as “Hurricane.” His autobiography The Sixteenth Round (1975) inspired Bob Dylan’s song “Hurricane” and the 1999 film The Hurricane.
It was an Alvin Dark model, that glove.
Alvin Dark (1922 – 2014) was an American Major League Baseball shortstop and manager. He played for six different teams between 1946 and 1960 and managed five teams between 1961 and 1977.
“The jefes in the long yellow coats.”
Mickey and Sylvia were singing “Love Is Strange.”
Mickey & Sylvia was an American R&B duo, composed of Mickey Baker and Sylvia Vanderpool who later became Sylvia Robinson. They were the first big seller for Groove Records and had a Top 20 hit with “Love is Strange” in 1956. Sylvia Robinson was best known for her work as founder/CEO of the hip hop label Sugar Hill Records. Robinson is credited as the driving force behind two landmark singles in the genre: “Rapper’s Delight” (1979) and “The Message” (1982), which caused her to be dubbed the “Mother of Hip-Hop”.
A lady who sounded both drunk and sad went by singing “Where the Boys Are” in a beautiful slurry voice.
(p.276 – 277)
“Where the Boys Are” is the title song for the 1960 coming-of-age comedy film directed by Henry Levin. Connie Francis sung the song, which was not released as a single until 1961.
The movie was released December 28, 1960, so the timeline on this doesn’t quite match up with King’s story, which is taking place in the summer of 1960. King freely admits in the Author’s Note:
I’ve also taken chronological liberties (…) but I have tried to remain true to the spirit of the age.
They’re regulators. Like in that movie (…) with John Payne and Karen Steele.
John Payne (1912 – 1989) was an American film actor who is mainly remembered from film noir crime stories and musical films, and for his leading roles in Miracle on 34th Street and the NBC Western television series The Restless Gun.
Karen Steele (1931 – 1988) was an American actress and model with more than 60 roles in film and television. Her most famous works include Marty, Ride Lonesome, and the Star Trek episode “Mudd’s Women.”
Payne and Steele co-starred in Bailout at 43,000 (1957), an American drama film directed by Francis D. Lyon. The plot is about the dangerous testing of a B-47 automatic ejection seat.
I’m not sure where “regulators” fit into this (they were “regulating” the ejection seat industry?). I also don’t know if King’s use of this word is connected to his Bachman book The Regulators (1996). The title characters in The Regulators are Wild West outlaw types, not Air Force.
They weren’t what they looked like. They weren’t what they looked like at all. Their faces wouldn’t stay in their faces, for one thing; their cheeks and chins and hair kept trying to spread outside the lines.
As white as their pointed reet-petite shoes.
“Reet Petite (The Sweetest Girl in Town)” is a song made popular by Jackie Wilson. It was his first solo hit after leaving the Dominoes, in 1957.
Reet, Petite, and Gone (1947) is an American musical film directed by William Forest Crouch. The film stars Louis Jordan and June Richmond.
King used the phrase “reet and compleat” in Christine (note ), and “reet” means:
adjective – (American English jazz slang) – good, proper excellent.
HEARTS IN ATLANTIS (1966)
3.5 out of 5 stars.
Vietnam protests are reaching small-town Maine but college freshman Pete Riley opts out of the anti-war movement – and eventually, out of class – to spend his time in a never-ending Hearts game.
If you ever need proof that King can write without horror, supernatural, or gross-out elements, this is a good place to start.
The set-up and characters are fantastic. King has come a long way from ‘Salems Lot (note ) and Christine (note ) in his characterizations of women and their relationships with men. I appreciate Carol like I appreciated Liz Garfield in “Low Men”: a female character who is not helpless, simple, or weak, but also is not perfect.
So why the 3.5 star rating? I hate to say it, but for the length of time developing these characters, not much happens with them. Like “Low Men,” this just seems to go on a few beats too long.
My instructor (…) would later divorce his wife and wind up busking in Sproul Plaza on the Berkeley campus.
Sproul Plaza is a major center of student activity at the University of California, Berkeley. It is divided into two sections: Upper Sproul and Lower Sproul. They are separated by 12 vertical feet and a set of stairs. Sproul Plaza is named for former University of California president Robert Gordon Sproul. The Plaza was designed in 1962. Upper Sproul Plaza was the site of early teach-ins and protests against the Vietnam War.
He had three Mitch Miller records (…), Meet Trini Lopez, a Dean Martin LP (…), and many others of the same ilk.
Mitch Miller (1911 – 2010) was an American oboist, conductor, recording producer and recording industry executive.
Trini Lopez (b.1937) is an American singer, guitarist, and actor.
Wikipedia’s list of Lopez’s albums doesn’t include one titled Meet Trini Lopez.
“I bet you’re the only college student in America that brought Diane Renay Sings Navy Blue to school with him.”
Diane Renay (b.1945) is an American pop singer, best known for her 1964 hit song, “Navy Blue.”
In a few moments he looked like a Dickens character, some earnest young man sketched by Boz.
Sketches by Boz, Illustrative of Every-day Life and Every-day People (commonly known as Sketches by Boz) is a collection of short pieces Charles Dickens originally published in various newspapers and other periodicals between 1833 and 1836. The 56 sketches concern London scenes and people, and the whole work is divided into four sections: “Our Parish”, “Scenes”, “Characters” and “Tales.” Dickens took the pseudonym from a nickname he had given his younger brother Augustus.
His Bluto Blutarsky upper half.
The name of John Belushi’s character (John “Bluto” Blutarsky) in the John Landis film Animal House (1978).
Enough gigs and you landed on D.P.
noun – (slang) – a demerit given in the military.
It was a case of what the poet Gary Snyder might have called bad-karma baseball.
Gary Snyder (b.1930) is an American man of letters. Perhaps best known as a poet (often associated with the Beat Generation and the San Francisco Renaissance), he is also an essayist, lecturer, and environmental activist.
I can’t find the phrase “bad karma baseball” associated with Snyder, but his work reflects an immersion in Buddhist spirituality.
Perfect eloquence is, I think, almost always mute.
The most insidious thing about Ronnie was that weak minds found him worth imitating.
Us class clowns aren’t wild about making friends – two or three are apt to do us for a lifetime – but we don’t react very well to the bum’s rush, either. Our goal is vast numbers of acquaintances whom we can leave laughing.
Anything with the power to make you laugh over thirty years later isn’t a waste of time. I think something like that is very close to immortality.
Her eyes had gone far away, the way people’s eyes do when they trip over some memory like a shoe in the dark.
Decals saying FRAM and QUAKER STATE in the back windows.
FRAM is a brand of aftermarket automobile products known primarily for their oil filters. The brand is noted for its trademarked bright orange color.
Quaker State is an American brand of a motor oil made by SOPUS Products. Quaker State gets its name from the nickname for Pennsylvania.
“Damariscotta, down on the coast?”
Damariscotta is a town in Lincoln County, Maine. The population was 2,218 at the 2010 census. It is a popular tourist resort area. The name is an Indian name meaning “river of little fish.”
[He] asked me if I had any interest in writing a paper about Crispus Atticus [sic].
The mistake in spelling is intentional; Pete’s classmate doesn’t even know the name of the man he’s supposed to do a report on.
Crispus Attucks (1723 – 1770) was the first person killed in the Boston massacre and is widely considered to be the first American casualty in the American Revolutionary War. Little is known for certain about Attucks. He was probably a Native American slave or freeman, merchant seaman and dockworker of Wampanoag and African descent.
There would be mustaches inked on the photodot faces of Lyndon Johnson and Ramsey Clark and Martin Luther King.
Ramsey Clark (b.1927) is an American lawyer, activist and former federal government official. A progressive, New Frontier liberal, he occupied senior positions in the United States Department of Justice under Presidents Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, notably serving as United States Attorney General from 1967 to 1969.
 Fact check:
“The letters stand for nuclear disarmament. Bertrand Russell invented the symbol in the fifties (…) He called it a peace sign.”
“This symbol. It was invented by the Communist Party shortly after the end of the Second World War. It means ‘victory through infiltration’ and is commonly called the Broken Cross by subversives.”
The international recognized peace symbol – variously known as the nuclear disarmament symbol, the CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) symbol and the peace sign – was designed in 1958 for the British nuclear disarmament movement by Gerald Holtom (1914 – 1985). Holtom, an artist and designer, made it for a march from Trafalgar Square, London, to the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment at Aldermaston in Berkshire. Holtom’s design was adapted by Eric Austen (1922 – 1999) to ceramic lapel badges.
The symbol is a combination of the semaphore signals for the letters “N” and “D”. It is not copyrighted, trademarked, or restricted.
It became widely known in the United States in 1958 when Albert Bigelow (1906 – 1993), a pacifist protestor, sailed a small boat fitted with the CND banner into the vicinity of a nuclear test. Buttons with the symbol were imported into the United States in 1960 by Philip Altbach (b.1941), a freshman at the University of Chicago. Between 1960 and 1964, the Student Peace Union (SPU) sold thousands of the buttons on college campuses. By the end of the decade, the symbol had been adopted as a generic peace sign.
Between 1968 and 1971, the John Birch Society circulated rumors about the origin and meaning of the symbol, claiming it was a sign of the devil and a Nazi “rune.”
According to teachpeace.com:
Bertrand Russell (…) aggressively promoted the arms down symbol. The arms down peace sign made its first public appearance in the United Kingdom during the 1958 Easter weekend Direct Action Committee anti-nuclear march (…). Russell was the march organizer responsible for placing the arms down peace symbol on buttons and banners.
“Is that how you want to live your life, Pete? (…) Doing stuff and then hoping people won’t find out?”
“It’ll be all right.” Not saying it because I really thought it would be – I couldn’t know a thing like that – but because it’s what you say, isn’t it? Just what you say.
Time passes and everything gets bigger except us.
The radio was on, Mighty John Marshall making with the oldies.
Mighty John Marshall doesn’t have a Wikipedia page, but it appears that he runs the site moneymusic.com, which appraises vinyl records.
The Royal Teens singing “Short Shorts.”
The Royal Teens was a New Jersey rock and roll band that formed in 1956. The group is best known for its single “Short Shorts,” which was a #3 hit in the United States in 1958. They never recorded an album and broke up in 1965.
 Reference: (1966)
We had left the movie – some really terrible good-ole-boy thang with Bert Reynolds in it.
In 1966, Bert Reynolds had his first starring role in Navajo Joe, directed by Sergio Corbucci. Reynolds plays the titular Navajo Indian who opposes a group of bandits responsible for killing his tribe.
“I think I must have seen Tonka with Sal Mineo at least seven times.”
Sal Mineo (1939 – 1976) was an American film and theater actor, known for his role in Rebel Without a Cause (1955). He was twice nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, for Rebel Without a Cause and Exodus. He also acted in Giant (1956), also with James Dean. In the Disney adventure Tonka (1958), he starred as a young Sioux named White Bull who traps and domesticates a clear-eyed, spirited wild horse named Tonka that becomes the famous Comanche, the lone survivor of Custer’s Last Stand.
I turned on the radio and the music made things a little better. The music always does. I’m past fifty now, and the music still makes things better; it’s the fabled automatic.
Talking is a wildly overrated skill.
 Fact check (isn’t this King’s actual brother’s name/relative age?)
He’s a good guy, Dave, my elder [brother] by six years.
Stephen King’s older brother is indeed named David. I don’t know how much older he is; for some reason, I feel like I’ve read he’s four years older, but I can’t find verification. In any case, it’s a nice little nod.
Ronnie’s problems might be genuine, but they didn’t make him any easier to like.
“When I was a little kid, I always pretended I was the hero,” Skip said.
“Fuck yeah, me too. What little kid ever pretended to be part of the lynch-mob?”
Bob Dylan sang: “She was the funniest woman I ever seen, the great-grandmother of Mr. Clean.”
Lyrics from Dylan’s “I Shall Be Free” from The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (1963). (Though, according to the printed lyrics, it goes: “Well, the funniest woman I ever seen / Was the great-granddaughter of Mr. Clean.”)
His quiet was somehow louder than Dearie’s shouting.
His favorite record albums: Meet the Beatles and Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders.
(p.501 – 502)
Wayne Fontana (b.1945) is an English rock/pop singer, best known for the 1965 hit “Game of Love” with the Mindbenders. The Mindbenders later recorded without Fontana. The album Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders was released in 1964.
Self-consciousness, that bane of all great artists.
The next time I saw him was on the TV news almost twenty years later, speaking at a Greenpeace rally just after the French blew up the Rainbow Warrior, 1984 or ’85, that would have been.
The sinking of the Rainbow Warrior, codenamed Operation Sananique, was a bombing operation by the “action” branch of the French foreign intelligence services, carried out on July 10, 1985. During the operation, two operatives sank the flagship of the Greenpeace fleet, the Rainbow Warrior in the port of Auckland, New Zealand on its way to a protest against a planned French nuclear test in Moruroa. One man, photographer Fernando Pereira, drowned on the sinking ship. The resulting scandal resulted in the resignation of the French Defence Minister Charles Hernu.
Sometimes things come back to you, that’s all. Sometimes they come back.