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World Association of International Studies

Post Eclipse Fever: 2017 and 1970
Created by John Eipper on 08/22/17 3:46 AM

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Eclipse Fever: 2017 and 1970 (David Duggan, USA, 08/22/17 3:46 am)

It is after 2 pm CDT, and the eclipse has passed the Central Time Zone, heading from Carbondale, Illinois to South Carolina. In Chicago, it was obscured by a cloud cover, but that didn't stop many would-be druids from standing out in parking lots to see what they could. The local radio stations have stopped playing Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart" on an endless loop. The world will soon be back to normal.

Why the DJs chose to play Ms. Tyler's torch song, which so far as I can tell, has nothing to do with astronomical events, is beyond my understanding. Perhaps I'm dating myself, but a more eclipse-worthy song would have been Carly Simon's "You're So Vain." In the third verse, she sings (later determined to be about Warren Beatty), "Well I hear you went up to Saratoga, and your horse naturally won. Then you flew your Lear jet up to Nova Scotia to see a total eclipse of the sun..."

This was an actual event on Saturday March 7, 1970, two months before the Cambodian incursion, and the national student strike. I was a freshman at Dartmouth, and the fraternity which later gave us the best-ever humor film, Animal House (AD), decided to stage a Stonehenge-worthy event on its porch. A brother (probably the guy who dressed in the shirt buttoned all the way to the top) came out in Merlin regalia and said a few incantations for the benefit of the assembled masses. Meanwhile of course, the Vietnam war was raging 12,000 miles away and finals were the next week. Nice to have your priorities straight.

While running errands in order not to be swept up in eclipse-fever, I mentioned this event to several clerks, asking if they knew the Carly Simon song (still her best, I think), and recounting my personal history with this event. Nobody knew what I was talking about. I guess I'm dating myself.

JE comments:  Few these days would understand the Saratoga reference, either.  Racing season lasts just a little over a month, from late July until early September.  My father spent an August there in the 1950s, as a parking valet.  Saratoga used to be a magnet for celebrities, but this no longer seems to be the case.

For years there was speculation about the subject of Carly Simon's "You're so Vain."  Beatty?  Cat Stevens?  James Taylor?  Mick Jagger?  Decades later she confirmed it was Beatty, but the lyrics are richly open-ended:  "You probably think this song is about you."

Oh, the eclipse:  Who in WAISworld was in the Total Blackout zone?  Gary Moore in Memphis?  At the College we had a small viewing event with eclipse glasses.  It was splendid to see the Crescent Sun, but at 85% coverage, the day darkened only slightly.

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  • Eclipse Fever in Tennessee (Tor Guimaraes, USA 08/22/17 1:38 PM)
    This eclipse business was quite amazing. Little towns like Cookeville, Tennesee had their populations doubled overnight. And so did the big towns, i.e. Nashville added around 1 million people. With such an influx of eclipse fans, the cities have to provide law enforcement to large organized events as well as spontaneous popular reactions like clogging Interstate and secondary roads. There were widespread rumors that some bed and breakfast places were charging up to $1200 for the night and all motels/hotels were booked solid.

    We have some neighbors whose homes were flooded with friends and relatives from out of town. Most businesses closed their doors down for the hour or so surrounding the total eclipse. Some tried to keep their employees at work during lunch break by providing a nice lunch.

    It was such a big social event involving millions of people that I am pleasantly surprised how smoothly things came and went without anyone getting hurt. My son in local law enforcement reported nothing but good clean fun from the state network.

    JE comments:  Excellent news!  This country was overdue for some clean and non-controversial fun.  Gary Moore (next) also reports from the Blackout Belt.

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  • Underwhelmed by the Eclipse; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 08/22/17 1:45 PM)

    Gary Moore writes:

    John Eipper's question about the total blackout zone in the eclipse
    (I'm in Memphis) reprises my dark musings. In short, speaking
    from the Blackout Belt: What eclipse? Well, it did happen, but where
    was the eerie midnight that makes the world stand still? The illumination
    level didn't even look like deep twilight, but like an ordinary cloudy day.
    Indeed, it was cloudy, but the clouds didn't billow until two-thirds
    into it, plenty of time to lift chic shades and see the black disc nearly
    covering the bright one--though all along the halo seemed to cast
    so much light I was puzzled.

    Where does this leave all the stories in
    history about XYZ clever explorer or colonel awing the natives with
    almanac knowledge that the world would go dark? If I was a native
    in this faint showing, I'm not sure I would have even known the sun
    was gone. Deepening this mystery, I hear from Atlanta that it got
    darker there, seeming more like night. But why would that be?
    Expectation? One has to wonder--and it's easier with the help of
    David Duggan's great glimpse of eclipse frenzy--whether the mysteries
    of mass psychology can't get into even the sun. After all, they did
    at Fatima.

    Biblical eclipse glasses?

    JE comments:  I'm with Gary Moore--had the experts not told me there was an eclipse going on, I wouldn't have noticed.  In 85% Adrian, the afternoon seemed cloudy and nothing more.

    I often joke at home that I would have been a crappy Ancient Mayan, as I never notice what is going on in the heavens.  Inscribing codices would have better suited my talents--unless, of course, I had to glyph about astronomical stuff.  Maybe they would have sacrificed me and been done with it.

    Can you use "glyph" as a verb?  I just did.

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  • Eclipse 2017: Original Photos from Tennessee (Tor Guimaraes, USA 08/24/17 6:50 AM)
    I am sorry that Gary Moore and John Eipper (and everyone else in WAISworld) missed the full eclipse (21 August) with a sunny sky. Everyone thought it was astronomically and socially an awesome experience, as I mentioned earlier.

    One of my son's co-workers took some pictures which he shared with us. The weird light which enveloped us in the visible full eclipse path was quite eerie. It lasted for close to an hour, very faint at first but slowly getting more eerie as the darkness prevailed. Immediately after the total eclipse because our eyes got accustomed to the darkness, the return to normal seemed much quicker.

    JE comments:  Splendid images, almost surreal.  Please convey our appreciation to your son's co-worker, Tor!  If you give me his/her name, I'll be happy to acknowledge.

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