Lights Out!

Remember Vicki Lawrence? No, that’s not her on the left, that’s Edison holding a light bulb. Stay with me, it’ll make sense later.

OK, I’m proving that I’m over 30, but you’re reading and no one’s around, so you can admit it if you remember. Carol Burnett? Saturday night on CBS? The whole dang ’70s?

If you still think of the late, great Suzanne Pleshette as Bob Newhart’s wife, then you’ll know what I’m talking about. And I won’t even go into MTM, who turned the world on with a smile and a hat toss in the middle of Minneapolis. No, I’m talking Vicki here, who played Mama with such vaudevillian glee, and who, in the earlier part of that bizarre decade, sang a song called The Night that the Lights Went Out in Georgia.

Why, you ask — and rightly so — why are you blogging about TNTTLWOIG? (as we aficionados like to call it). Well, the title of my blog is Writing in the Dark, and — though I mean it mostly figuratively — sometimes it happens literally.

Like last night. We had a sudden power outage, while I was on the computer — a whole grid of houses on the western edge of San Francisco went pffft — dark.

My laptop went to battery so I kept writing for a few minutes, then shut it down, found the flashlight, and lit candles. I happen to love candles, especially real beeswax. Took the dog for a walk in the moonlight. Listened to the roar of the ocean. Listened, mostly, to the eerie, waiting silence of the darkened neighborhood.

See, I grew up “off the grid” — no PGE, no phone, no light, no motorcar — well, a car and gas lighting, but still …

So power outages don’t bother me. I like them. They force me into relaxation (which is about the only way I do relax these days — I’ve got a bloomin’ book coming out!!), they make me pay attention to my environment, and they slow me down. As long as the food doesn’t spoil, I roll with it, Henry.

We came back home, played some cards — remember those? Dug out the poker chips. Had fun. (I won.) (And no, no ambition for the World Series of Poker, though I wouldn’t mind a cameo on Ocean’s 14. Hello, George?) By the time I owned the table, the power was back on. (For the record, I had an amazing full house on the final hand …)

The funny thing is … a lot of our neighbors were sitting in cars outside, rattled and nervous. It was as though they didn’t know how to function, how to live, how to amuse themselves or survive without electricity … without being plugged in, twenty four seven. And that’s a little scary.

For the record, I love classic radio shows, and there was a terrific horror show called Lights Out by a brilliant writer/director named Arch Oboler. The quintessential “fear of the dark” audio experience … I’ll have to blog about it sometime.

But during the black out and after watching the neighbors, concerned about our cultural dependency on constant entertainment, stimulus and electronic gadgetry, my thoughts meandered to Vicki Lawrence and her own “Lights Went Out.” Hey, I grew up in the ’70s, dude — and there’s nothing scarier than that. 😉

Speaking of the comforts of darkness, Next week is Noir City, and I will be blogging about that amazing festival of duplicitous deeds and dangerous dames den. For now, a recommendation …

Last week I wrote about food for the body, this week, food for the aspiring (and working) writer … Jordan Rosenfeld and Rebecca Lawton have just launched a book called Write Free: Attracting the Creative Life, and it’s a doozy– a terrific and helpful book. If you write, have ever wanted to write, ever think about wanting to write — check it out. They also offer a free newsletter with the same name … you can find it here.

See you next week … when we’ll be out of the ’70s and back to the ’40s where I belong! 😉