1981 = WKRP + 64K RAM + Frogger + Bread Bowls


One of my favorite endeavors in the course of writing is research. I relish digging into maps, photos, magazines, and recordings to capture the place and time of a story (San Francisco in January of 1981). And so for Lethal Fetish, I pursued some strange and compelling topics—with excerpts from the book—including:

1980s culture

Video games: “images of jumping frogs, frenzied gorillas, and a yellow ball wandering through a maze.”

Computer technology: “Carol regaled me with the comparative virtues of the Apple II versus the TRS-80 and the IBM-PC…”

Television programs: “better than watching Real People which is real lame or WKRP, although Loni Anderson has a helluva rack. Don’t tell Carol I said that.”

Trends: “…bread bowls were all the rage. Spinach gunk in pumpernickel or clam chowder in sourdough are about as appetizing as Frito pie and Cheez Whiz.”

Food & Drink

Selections from Yee’s Restaurant: including “assorted pork guts porridge” (really).

The recipe for Virgin Irish coffee: “very strong coffee (never instant), brown sugar (never white), heavy cream (never whipped), and a teaspoon of brandy flavoring.”

Finlay’s in South Beach: the pinnacle of fish and chips made with California flounder and malt vinegar (never tartar sauce).

Sports

I wrote this weeks before the 2018 NBA finals (the Warriors swept the Cavaliers): “Dennis was arguing that the Golden State Warriors had made a disastrous mistake trading Robert Parish for Joe Berry Carroll. And based on the game playing on the television at the end of bar, Dennis had a point. Getting beaten by the Cleveland Cavaliers was about as bad as it could get.”

Ireland

Rain and drunkenness: “Once the rain shifted from spitting to wetting to pissing, having skipped over rotten, we decided to call it a day and head to O’Donnell’s to get warm, dry, and merry—or maybe even gee-eyed, but not baloobas. The Irish have even more words for inebriation than for rain.”

Fabrics: “She had on a wool skirt in the Sligo tartan—a cobalt background with faint maroon and mustard striping”

Irish cuisine: the making of Irish oatmeal using McCann’s steel-cut (not quite Flahavan’s Pinhead or Macroom’s), with the secret being to dip each spoonful in cream and top with soft brown sugar.

So some things never change (tartan and oatmeal keeping Riley happy), but others fortunately do (who wants to go back to bread bowls and TRS-80s?).

#noir #Riley #1981America #SanFrancisco #writingprocess

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