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Some anniversaries not worth their years in ink

November 21, 2011

It’s my job to keep an eye on new trends, and I’ve spotted one of which I am particularly fond: Books on odd-year anniversaries featuring forgotten celebrities, usually written by some fringe player in a once-popular melodrama.

Give them credit, somebody put a lot of thought into this one.

They all involve some shocking revelation that runs along the lines of “You know, I just remembered that D.B. Cooper was my mother’s cousin,” or “come to think of it, I DID hear a splash the night Natalie Wood disappeared.”

As chance would have it, these stunning recollections always coincide with an anniversary of a seminal event, or semi-seminal event as the case may be. And, naturally, they must be documented. So we are treated, for example, to a book about the 30th anniversary of Natalie Wood’s death.

Or, to extend celebrity status on the inanimate, the “The New Food Processor Bible,” marking the 30th anniversary of the glorified blender. “It may not be so widely known, but the food processor is probably the best tool you can have to help you around the kitchen,” says the review. Kind of stops you in your tracks, doesn’t it?

The problem, of course, is that the “new revelations” about celebrities can generally be summed up in three paragraphs, leaving the respective authors to fill a book with about 300 pages worth of padding and stuff we already know.

I also have a small quibble with anniversaries that involve off-year decades or half decades. I’m fine with 25th anniversaries, 50th anniversaries and 100th anniversaries. But when I see a news report about the 35th anniversary of the Frampton Comes Alive tour — well, that just tells me there are a lot of journalists out there who are too lazy to pick up a phone and report a story that matters.

Hi kids. Your Uncle Tim here. FYI, Peter Frampton was a member of what now must charitably be referred to as geezer rock, stuff your grandparents listened to — and in all too many cases still do. Lacking any overriding talent, Frampton’s skill was in attracting female listeners with long locks of curly blond hair, and male listeners with a mechanical gizmo that made every syllable sound like Alvin the Chipmunk. For some reason, people thought this was a good thing.

But, whatever, the anniversary-book industry appears to be a booming business, so you, too, might want to glom onto a book proposal for personal fame and fortune. Fortune being relative; these are books, after all.

Obviously, some good stuff has already passed you by. For example, it’s really too late to get a book together concerning the 40th anniversary of Priscilla’s divorce from Elvis. However, I would encourage you to be creative. For example, it is true that you missed the 40th anniversary of the last episode of “The Flying Nun.” However, it is only five more years until the 50th anniversary of the first episode of “The Flying Nun.”

You want to figure on maybe a year to write the book, and another year or two for production. Some of the more obvious stuff will no doubt be done to death — on the 40th anniversary of the resignation of Richard Nixon in 2014, I’m going down into the root cellar and not coming out for six months.

On the other hand, a book marking the 40th anniversary of the death of French President Georges Pompidou might be too obscure. Unless you have pictures of him with Natalie Wood.

My best bet? In three years, we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Alaskan Oil Pipeline. Start your research now.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 6997, or via email at timr@herald-mail.com. Tune in to the Rowland Rant at www.herald-mail.com, on antpod.com or on Antietam Cable’s WCL-TV Channel 30 at 6:30 p.m. New episodes are released every Wednesday.

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