Inhuman Swill : Memory

I've always believed that I have a pretty good memory—in particular, that I can recall formative events and conversations from years or even decades ago in reasonably good detail. When I started work on my memoir The Accidental Terrorist, I made a list of incidents, events, and bits of lore from my mission that I wanted to include. The more of these that I wrote down, the more others I started to remember. My notes ran pages and pages and pages.

I'm now working my way through a revision of the book with notes from my editor, Juliet Ulman. The occasional query scrawled in the margin questions details I seem to recall clearly. I've started wondering how much I can trust those old memories, especially the smaller moments I could easily have misremembered or invented. I've started looking for bits I can actually confirm.

Last night I came to the passage below, which seemed like it should be eminently verifiable. The scene is southern Alberta, October 1986:

On Friday of that week, we were talking heavy metal when I mentioned that the only band I liked of that sort was Rush.

"Ah, so you're one of those," said Fowler. "Same as every other missionary in Canada. You know last winter they had a concert scheduled up in Edmonton?"

"That was the Power Windows tour. What a great show. I saw it in Salt Lake."

"Well, I was serving in Edmonton at the time. I swear half the elders in town must've had tickets."

I gaped. In my civilian life, I had the right to choose to see a rock concert if I wanted, whether or not the Church or my father approved. But for a missionary, ordained and set apart as a representative of Jesus Christ, the rules were different. No music, especially not rock music, and especially not live rock music. That was just handing Satan the keys to your soul's front door.

"Including you?" I asked.

"Naw, Rush ain't my thing. But anyways, the day of the show this massive blizzard hits. No joke. Shuts everything down. No planes in or out. Concert canceled."


"You're telling me. You think God wanted all those missionaries rocking out in clouds of dope smoke? No way. It would have killed the Spirit dead in Edmonton for a month."
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At last! A web site that proves I'm not alone in remembering that obscure but wonderful classic of lost '70s television—Cliffhangers! What? A television series that ends every episode on a cliffhanger? Unthinkable!

God, I hope some enlightened soul puts this on DVD someday. I didn't miss an episode of this as a kid of eleven, at least until my sisters won an argument about what program we were going to watch one night, and I'm still bitter about never having seen the endings of "Stop Susan Williams," "The Secret Empire," and "The Curse of Dracula." (Cliffhangers! was cancelled before "Stop" and "Empire" were concluded.)

I really thought I was the only one who had ever seen this show (which would explain why it vanished without a trace), and sometimes I wondered if I had only imagined it.

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