Diana’s Mom: Classic Scares and Johnny Carson’s Hair

My mom is a geek, and it’s awesome. But she’s never been big into science fiction or comic books. She’s into the classics.

I once got her an I Love Lucy commemorative photo plaque of “Job Switching” (the candy factory episode), and she hung it on her bedroom wall. She’s seen 3 of the Harry Potter movies with me at midnight on opening day (I’ve only seen 4 midnight showings). My mom used all of the VHS tapes in the house attempting to record a New Year’s Honeymooners marathon a few years ago. She bought me every mystery novel I could get my hands on from the age of 7. And, she scared the pants off me, showing me classic horror/thriller films when I was young enough to not care about old school special effects – do you realize how frightened you get when you see The Birds at the age of 12 and you live in a suburb?

An interview with the coolest geek I know, my mom:

Diana: What did you grow up watching/reading/listening to?

Mom: I vaguely remember The Ed Sullivan Show. It was a big deal, especially when the Beatles were first on – girls fainting and stuff. I didn’t really get it because I was young. I watched that because your grandmother did and we had one black and white television – there were only 7 channels.

The Milton Berle Show had lots of innuendos that I didn’t get at the time. I also watched The Flip Wilson Show, which was hysterical, because Flip used to dress up as a woman named Geraldine and the character was hilarious.

The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson was the best – my favorite was when he had the Animal Kingdom guy on. There was a little monkey (or something like that) that crawled on top of Carson’s head and wouldn’t get off and clung to whatever little hair he had left and wouldn’t let go until they cut to commercial – I don’t know how they got him off.


How did you get into this stuff? Did your brothers/friends Introduce you to it? Was it a family event/interest, etc.?

When I was a little bit older, I read the Nancy Drew books and your Uncle John read the Hardy Boys – we had them lined up in a bookshelf in the hallway.

My brothers got me into good music – Beach Boys, Beatles, Rolling Stones, Santana, Crosby, Stills and Nash, and my personal favorite was Chicago – I still have their albums – which are numbered I to IX.

TV shows were more family-oriented when I was growing up because homes only had one television set, so the content appealed to a wider audience. I’d watch Flip Wilson with my mother and The Twilight Zone with my father.

What did you geek on? (favorites, passions, obsessions, etc.)

Regular weekly TV show favorites when I was little were The Munsters, The Addams Family and The Dick Van Dyke Show. I loved the Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock – I was into scary stuff, not gore.

Of course there was Get Smart with Max and Agent 99 (she was hot). He was such a buffoon and there was a telephone in his shoe and he used to go down to headquarters in a phone booth (much like Harry Potter today).

My favorite show (a little later on, when I was maybe 10 or 11) was That Girl, starring Marlo Thomas – she was a single young woman living in NYC and had a boyfriend Donald – I thought she was soooo cute – I wanted to be her. I also loved Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley and All in the Family.

What kind of media and influences do you remember surrounding you growing up?

There was Animal House – and everyone would do the Worm Dance at every event after the movie for years. And of course the original Jaws that scared the heck out of us. I saw it with one of my friends, and she screamed so loud into my right ear when the shark first jumped out of the water (on that big screen), I think I still have hearing damage.

There was Saturday Night Fever in the disco age of the late 70’s – when you would go to a disco at 9 pm – to get a prime spot (at a table – not the bar), you would get really dressed up, guys had to wear jackets, otherwise they were not allowed in and you just danced until 4 am. Then there was the Rocky Horror Picture Show which became kind of a cult (and still is today).

And of course, the original Saturday Night Live cast with Church Chat and Choppin Broccoli (Dana Carvey) and John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Jane Curtin, Gilda Radner and Chevy Chase – they were great!

Can you tell me a favorite story or two about stuff you geeked on?

Once, watching The Twilight Zone, I was so engrossed, I was coloring at the time and eating pretzel sticks and bit into the crayon instead of the pretzel. Also, I used to sit on Gigo’s (Diana’s grandfather’s) lap sometimes and he would let me sip his beer while we were watching.

During Alfred Hitchcock Presents, when Hitchcock used to speak to the audience before each episode, I was watching alone at night. It was cold and he said to let the person into your house who was outside your window who was trying to watch his show because it was cold out there – I was watching in our little den on the first floor and was totally frozen and panicked, thinking there could be someone outside the window looking in. I didn’t move the entire show, and, afterwards, I turned off the TV at the end and ran to bed.

What do you geek on now? (tv shows, books, movies, etc.)

As you know, I don’t watch a lot of TV now (always stuff to do), but you got me into Glee and the music is great. I’m also still working my way through the Harry Potter books (again, always busy), and I liked the Dan Brown books too (Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons).

How do you think your geekiness influenced mine?

I think I tried to get you to watch what I would consider “some of the classics” that werefunny, but not racy, because of just that – they were simply entertaining. I introduced you to Hitchcock’s Psycho and The Birds, and we always watch the New Year’s Day Honeymooners marathon every year. Since you were into mystery novels, I thought that Columbo was brilliant too.

There you are ladies and gentlemen, my mom. She’s a classy and wonderful lady, as are the shows and stories she loves. Here’s to you Mom – keep on geeking!

-Diana

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