Rumination: Harper Valley PTA

If you look up Apple Music, “Harper Valley PTA” by Jeannie C. Riley shows up on a playlist entitled “Essential Feminism Songs.”  It’s listed alongside other great girl power standards as “Express Yourself” by Madonna, “Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves” by the Eurythmics… and “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift.  Understandable, since it marks a great musical milestone for a female artist. Riley was the first woman to top both the Billboard Hot 100 and the US Hot Country Singles with the same song in 1968.  The song also won Riley a Grammy.  It’s been covered by Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Martina McBride, and Billy Ray Cyrus of all people.

I rather hate the song.

Not the whole context of a woman standing up for herself.  But… well, what set her off really?  The secretary of the Harper Valley PTA sends her a note saying that her miniskirt is inappropriate wear for dropping off her daughter at school.  YES, the secretary may have overstepped her bounds by implying that the protagonist, Mrs. Johnson, was a slut.  That was uncalled for.  But I imagine that the secretary must have sent Mrs. Johnson several notes to no avail, and was getting so fed up that by the time this letter went through she was resorting to some nasty name-calling.

Do you know what was uncalled for?  Mrs. Johnson’s retaliation.  She goes to the PTA meeting, and she decides to air out everyone’s dirty laundry in that room… calling everyone a hypocrite when they’re all having affairs and drinking booze behind everyone’s backs.  I get that… but seriously your only beef is with the secretary.  Why are you you lashing out at everyone in the room for?

The song is peppered with slang that shows that Mrs. Johnson is “cool” and “with it”.  She refers to “Peyton Place”, a TV show about a small town scandal, and her daughter is all “my momma socked it” to the PTA, which was some modern slang.  Look… there’s nothing less cool than a mom of a teenage daughter being referred to in the slang of the day.

Anyway, Mrs. Johnson is portrayed as a hero for defending to wear her right to wear a miniskirt while dropping off her daughter at school.   She shames everyone around her whether they criticized her or not.  You know what that sounds like?  A Facebook argument that I never want to be involved in ever.

Do you know who also felt that way?

Singer Jeannie C. Riley herself.

In the 1970’s, she became a Born-again Christian, and the lyrics of the song just didn’t seem to set right with her after.    When she sang it, she was probably the young woman who thought fighting for the right to wear a miniskirt was sticking it to the man.  Now she’s an older woman, and finding the entire outburst embarrassing.

In fact, she released a sequel song in 1984 called “Return to Harper Valley”.  There, Mrs. Johnson wears a full length dress.  She realizes that times have changed.  She’s actually made peace with the people she called out in that PTA meeting.Her daughter now has two kids going to school, and now they’re surrounded by drug users.  IN fear, she wants to get her gun from home, but rather she prays and hopes the PTA will sort things out.

“Return to Harper Valley” wasn’t a hit, because teen rebellion sells way more songs than one about regrets over the consequences.


Quote of the day

“The past,” they say, “is now truly like a foreign country. They do things exactly the same there.”

 — Douglas Adams

Lame joke time

If Wonder Woman was a Transformer…. she would be Amazon Prime.

Ranking: the PAW Patrol


You cannot get better than the pup who is always on the case.  A favorite of princesses, a certified police officer, and an all around performer, Chase is pretty much the team’s backbone.  If you’re some mustachioed mayor you’d better pray that he’s not part of the three person squad sent to sniff you out.


While something of a bumbling buffoon, his skills are surprisingly versatile.  There’s the firefighting aspect, which is handy.  But need someone to paint something green or put some whipped cream on a sundae? Surprisingly you call the dog with the fireman hat.  I’m pretty sure the hose shoots actual fire, too, which would put him in Guy Montag territory.


Rubble’s gotta have some of the most destructive equipment, what with the shovel and drill and such… but he’s kind of square in the personality department.  Still, that catchphrase.  “On the double,” indeed.


This pup seems completely designed to give Tumblr conniption fits.  She’s the only girl on the squad.  She’s barely included in missions, unless it involves Sweetie who apparently is still allowed to live at the castle despite being a habitual traitor.  She has the least aggressive ability (flight) that all the boys have anyway.  And all her stuff is pink.  I haven’t checked, but I’m sure she’s launched nearly a hundred angry Jezebel thinkpieces.


The favorite PAW Patroller of absolutely no one.  Basically the Hawkeye of the Avengers, only that guy’s power isn’t garbage collection.  Man, imagine the kid who gets this guy and his accessories as a birthday present.  I repeat: his vehicle is a garbage truck.  How did Everest — the snow and surf specialist — not make it on the regular squad… and yet they had room for the sanitation worker?

Why do you run?

Recently, I’ve taken to running as a hobby.  I have done six 5K’s this year already.  What would motivate me to do such a thing?  Health?  The runner’s high? Great scenery?

Well… mainly it’s the costuming opportunities.

A few challenges to consider:

  1. Not all superhero costumes are created equal.  Flash is the fastest guy on the planet … which is why he can wear red longjohns and a full face mask.  He’s got superpowers that tap into the Speed Force!  For the rest of us mere mortals… it’s a very sweaty combination.  If you’re using the Xcoser Flash mask, the best looking one, I imagine the latex smell will be intolerable.  Which is why I went with Robin.  As I told a friend, “Man, you don’t appreciate the Boy Wonder’s short shorts until you have to run in them!”
  2. If you must wear a mask, I would go with the lycra version.  Also, get one with sufficient eye and mouth holes.  I actually ordered two different types of lycra lucha masks for a Cinco de Mayo run.  The first, based on Mistico, was really tight around the eyes.  If it’s annoying for the first minute wearing it, don’t style it for the 40 minutes you’re on the road.
  3. If you wear goggles, make sure you get the anti-fog lenses.  I have run many times with goggles, as you can see in the pics.  Most of the time, I have them perched over my head and put them on when I pass a camera.  However, if you plan on running the full distance (like I did in my Robin outfit), get one that won’t fog up.  You’ll be sweating a lot, plus there will be vapor coming out from your eyes.  I actually got my goggles as part of my cosplay after one year of wearing some Elope goggles.  Those fog up in ten minutes, and I had to wipe them manually with my fingers.  So unseemly for a grim protector of the night such as Dr. Mid-Nite!  The anti-fog goggles I got from Amazon did the trick, though, and I’ve been using them for both cosplay and for running.
  4. Don’t put shorts over sweatpants.  I did a cosplay run in below freezing weather.  I wanted to look the part as Robin, short shorts and all, but I also didn’t want to freeze to death.  So I wore sweatpants with shorts over them.  Big mistake.  I was pulling up my shorts every quarter mile, because they kept slipping down over the bulkier sweatpants.  I think that leggings and shorts would’ve worked, but honestly it was far too cold that day.
  5. Try wireless headphones.  I’ve been running mainly with wireless headphones and they’ve been a life-saver.  One, the cords don’t snag on your costume bits or the safety pins holding up your number.  And two, they don’t pop out of your ears like earbuds often do.  It does get hot under there sometimes, but that’s a small price to pay for comfort.

Simple Halloween question

Is there a sexy Harambe costume?