Blossom Dearie’s “Conjunction Junction” Romance?

Did the woman who sang "Unpack Your Adjectives" ever get together with the guy who sang "I'm Just a Bill"?

It turns out the answer is yes! Sort of...

Blossom Dearie was an occasional singer on Schoolhouse Rock, and so was Jack Sheldon, who sang the gravelly-voiced conductor song Conjunction Junction. When Blossom came to Hollywood (for a big recording session at Capitol Records), Sheldon was her trumpeter. "I was madly in love with Blossom at the time," he remembered wistfully. "We were going everywhere and doing everything together..." reads his remembrance 34 years later from the liner notes of Blossom's re-issued album. "Blossom was marvelous."

(Click to hear Jack's love-struck trumpet
on the album's title track, "May I Come In?")

Blossom Dearie, the beguiling blonde jazz chanteuse, died Saturday at the age of 82. But when she'd met Sheldon in 1964, she was just 38, and had already lived in Paris for several years — even though she didn't speak French! Within a few years, Blossom had recorded several jazz albums and married a Belgian saxophone player named Bobby Jaspar, who had recorded with Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Chet Baker. In 1963, Jaspar died of a heart attack at the age of 37 — but Blossom Dearie was about to earn her own fame in America.

In a funny twist of fate, an entire generation fell in love with her voice, mostly from just two songs — her vocals on two educational "Schoolhouse Rock" cartoons in the 1970s. Dearie and Sheldon actually sang together in a third cartoon, which featured every Schoolhouse Rock vocalist including Bob Dorough and Essra Mohawk. (In a song about the history of inventions, Dearie sings about Thomas Edison's mother, plagued by the lack of an electric light.) And it was her haunting vocal on the Figure Eight song which first captivated generation X. A cello in a minor key set a somber tone while Dearie's sunny girl-like voice thoughtfully advised children to "figure double four," and in a later video she described a rotten camping trip by unpacking her adjectives.

Jack Sheldon and Blossom Dearie became familiar to millions of children — or at least, their voices did. The short three-minute cartoons won four Emmys — even beating out Mister Roger's Neighborhood in the early 1970s. In the years to come, Sheldon would enjoy a lifelong fame, recording parodies of his Schoolhouse Rock songs. And Blossom? She became a cabaret singer. It's a dying art form — just a singer at a piano — but she had a wispy, sunny voice and a personality that could capture a room. On the day she was born, a neighbor celebrated by bringing peach-tree flowers to her family — one story says that's where she earned the name "blossom." And 80 years later, she was still delighting crowds at Danny's Skylight Room on Restaurant Row in the Broadway theatre district.

Sadly, that big recording session in Hollywood hadn't earner her big money. "I kept working, but it doesn't seem like there was much of an impact," Blossom once said. She appears on the album's cover in a mink coat — but the CD's liner notes point out that "It wasn't hers." (A secretary loaned it to her for the photograph.) Watching her pennies, Blossom once complained simply that "I don't want to have to worry about taking a cab uptown." Thirty years later she'd record the jingle for Calvin Klein's Obsession perfume, book-ending her first real fame in 1963, when she'd recorded a promotional album for Hires Root Beer — "the most rootin' tootin' songs of 1963."

"Today, the original LP goes for hundreds of dollars on eBay," one blogger noted, "when you can find a copy." She may not have gotten rich, but she delivered a million smiles, and left many people today feeling the same sentimental memory.

"I like to think that you might go out to Woodstock on some winter's day and see a little old lady skating by herself on a frozen pond, quietly singing Figure 8 in that baby-doll voice."

Five Most Violent Super Bowl Ads

Super Bowl ads were always violent, but Sunday's game cracked the mold. Men were exploding, electrocuting, and — in one unaired spot — buying porn at gunpoint. PETA wanted to broadcast sexy models performing near-fellatio with vegetables, but the day belonged to the dudes. Some were big, some were stupid — but they all had one thing in common.


#1. I'm Bad

The meme attains perfection with Pepsi's "I'm good" ad, offering not one but four violent vignettes (culminating with a man hurtled across the sky by a high-voltage shock.) "I'm good," everyone says — since men can take anything except the taste of diet cola.

It's a bit of a stretch, though it's really just an excuse to show four crazy stunts. (Pepsi continues a tradition that dates back at least to Bud Light's infamous slapping ads.) But you know what I can't take?

Pepsi's stupid new logo.

#2. Beer and Porn

"You needed a secret code to see this spot online," warns one YouTube user — before uploading a pirated version of Budweiser's 2009 pitch for Bud Light. It's a two-minute dramedy demonstrating just how bizarre a commercial can get. (At one point, Budweiser actually had to pixelate a vibrator.) "Please drink responsibly," Bud adds at the end.

Since the days of Chaucer, porn has united humankind in a warm round of uncomfortable nervous laughter. But with this ad, Budweiser may have sent the wrong message: bad things happen when you drink Bud Light.

Especially...the crappy taste of Bud Light.

#3. A Grand Slam They Can't Refuse

Denny's turned to the mafia to promote their "free breakfast on Tuesday" promotion. But Denny's first Super Bowl ad ever — "Thugs" — finds their conversation interrupted by a waitress spraying a smiley face onto their pancakes.

It's a slap at IHOP (which dessert-ifies every pancake beyond recognition). But personally, I think the real mafia is behind all those ads for Cash4Gold.

And William Shatner's toupee.

#4. Talk Into the Clown's Mouth

After 40 years, Jack was finally mowed down by a bus — presumably spilling secret Jack sauce all over the street. "No. It's really bad," says a flunky into his cell phone. "I'm just lying to him to cheer him up." But one columnist pointed out that the Jack in the Box site wasn't broadcasting the follow-up ad. "Should we just assume he's dead?"

There's a fake Twitter feed, and racked up nearly 500 comments — possibly from his ad agency. ("LETS ALL EAT MORE JACK IN THE BOX SO THEY CAN PAY THE DOCTOR BILLS!") But most greeted the ghoulish ad campaign with an appropriate dose of internet cynicism
can I have your STUFF???
Your food actually made me sick yesterday!

And one commenter even suggested Jack's biggest problem was with the jerk who produced his Super Bowl ad.

"Maybe the camera man should have yelled something like, 'Look Out!' instead of just standing there recording your death."

#5. The Unaired MacGruber

MacGruber jumped the shark two years ago — after the first of seven appearances on Saturday Night Live. The night before the game, the real MacGyver even appeared in a Saturday Night Live skit in which he confronts "MacGruber" about selling out. (It's right before MacGruber pauses to announce "There's always time for Pepsi" — and then dying in an oil refinery explosion.) In the final SNL segment, the theme song changed its lyrics altogether to just "Pepsi Pepsi Pepsi Pepsi" — and every single word of MacGruber's dialogue became "Pepsi."

At that point, anything that happened on Super Bowl Sunday would be anti-climactic.

And I still wish they'd detonate that logo.

See Also:
7 Things I Learned From Super Bowl Ads
5 Best Videos: Animals Attacking Reporters
Pulp Fiction Parodies on YouTube
5 Sexiest Apple Videos