Friday, November 7, 2014

When I turned 64: The Great Beatles Party

My wife and I have been talking for years about what would happen when I turn 64.  Of course, it would have to be a Beatles party.  Well, the party took place this past Monday, November 3, 2014.

Margaret planned the event, invited lots of people, prepared food, and served as the hostess.  I helped too.  I couldn't restrain myself.  I created a playlist of my favorite 64 Beatles songs, came up with ideas for Beatles themed foods, and created a quiz--only part of which we had time for on the evening in question.

And then it happened.  The official tally of people who came is 52.  Three came only briefly, and not everyone was there at the same time.  But most were.  So we had over 40 people in our home for a couple of hours.

As people came, we asked them to identify the food items in the dining room, living room, and kitchen by Beatles song and album or otherwise guess why they were relevant.  We also asked them to cast a "secret ballot" indicating their favorite Beatle, their favorite Beatles song and album, and their least favorite Beatles song and album.  (A few people refused to pick a least favorite album, or said they didn't have one.)  I originally had the ballot ask people to pick their two favorite Beatles songs, but then when I tried to fill it out myself, after starting with 15 favorites and narrowing it to eight, I finally couldn't bear to list fewer than five favorites.  So I changed the ballots to allow everyone to pick up to five.

About a half hour after the official start time of 7:00 p.m., I asked everyone to gather and find out the Beatles-related meaning of all the food items.  Someone in the group knew the answers to just about all the questions I asked (actually, most of the answers came from three or four people who had crammed lots of Beatles information into their heads)--except for the question, "Why do we have 64 candles on a pie instead of a cake?"  The fairly obvious part of the answer is that I was turning 64 and that we were thinking of the song "When I'm 64."  But why a pie?

Phil Snyder (a friend of many years and currently the chair of BYU's English Department) reminded everyone that Paul McCartney had an album titled Flaming Pie.  OK . . . he was on the right track.  But where did that title come from?  As a very select group of readers may know, the answer is this.  In 1961 John Lennon explained in an interview where the name "Beatles" had come from:
It came in a vision--a man appeared on a flaming pie and said unto them, "from this day on you are Beatles with an A."

After revealing the meaning of the food items, we had a blessing on the food (offered by Mary Elwood, an amazing lady who lives in the neighborhood) and got people eating.  Some had already partaken of treats that were set around the rooms in various spots: peanuts, truffles, dark chocolate coconut almond candies, apples, and tangerines.

But it was time now for the main dishes: rice, scrambled eggs, gluten free spaghetti, red pepper in a bed of humus and parsley (more on what that was all about below).  We also had two kinds of herbal tea: mint and vanilla hazelnut--neither of which many people had because we got so busy socializing that we failed to uncover the containers.  Other items that none or few partook of were pepper, mustard, and orange marmalade.

But there were quite a few takers for the remaining sweets: strawberry pie; another pie made from vanilla pudding, chocolate bars, and marshmallows; cookies made from cornflakes; and boxes of chocolates Margaret got from See's but patterned after the British product known as Mackintosh's Good News.  (More on that later.)

So . . just to whet your appetite:

What do scrambled eggs have to do with anything?

Which song mentions lemonade?

Five songs mention tea; can you name them?

Which song mentions peanuts?

Which song mentions rice?

Which two songs have a connection with Kellogg's Cornflakes?

And how about marshmallow pie? marmalade? tangerines (connected with two songs)? truffles? strawberries? apples?

Which songs mention honey?

And can you think of anything spaghetti would have to do with the Beatles?

For answers, see The Beatles themed food items link below.

(By the way, our daughter Jules and her boyfriend Travis noticed we were a bit thin in the main dish department and went out and got a bunch of pizzas.  This pleased many, especially some of the young people.)

In the background through much of the evening, I had my playlist of 64 favorite Beatles songs playing.  We never got around to the rest of my quiz or to counting the ballots and announcing the results.  (But the results will be revealed later in this post!)

But we did have one other major activity.  My son Robert--also a Beatles fan and quite well informed--decided to get me a present, one of the kind that keeps on giving: Beatles Rock Band for Xbox.  (It's his Xbox, so I don't know what we'll do when he moves.)  So part of our sizable congregation went downstairs to sing along with the Beatles.  I was busy saying goodbye to those who had to leave--including an unhappy 8-year-old who had not gotten a turn with the singing downstairs.  So I promised him and his family--the Westovers (including Paul, a colleague and friend of mine who is remarkably knowledgeable about the Beatles, especially considering that he's a long ways away from being 64)--that we would invite them over for a Beatles Rock Band session sometimes in the near future.

Among those who attended were colleagues from BYU, members of our local church congregation (for which I'm still serving as bishop), and relatives.  (I'll provide a link to a full list below.)  One family weren't able to spend as much time with us as they (and we) would have liked because they performed a special service for us: they picked up our former foster son, Tyrece Traylor, from the care center where he staying and had to get him back there back a predetermined hour.  The family I'm referring to are the Kennedys: Sheila and Branden and their sons T. J. and Justice.  It was great having them at least for part of the evening, along with Tyrece, who had lots of fun--including time with the Beatles Rock Band downstairs.

Something else important happened (upstairs) before the party ended.  Among the relatives who attended were nieces and nephews and several siblings-in-law (Dell Blair, Jen Lambert, and Traci Blair).  Along with Traci, was her daughter Sophie, who (at age 16) is just about as big a Beatles fan as I am at 64.  I had asked her to bring her ukulele and sing for us.  She insisted on having us join her in singing, which made it all the more fun.  I believe she started with "Yesterday."  I don't remember if she did anything else--except to accompany a special number that had been prepared by the Sabeys--nephews and (in some cases) their spouses: Brian and Dia (they also brought their infant child Zina [short for Alsina]), Josh and Sarah, and Matt (not married--but he distinguished himself at the party by making me a guitar out of balloons, i.e., a genuine "air guitar").  They had written a song that they sang to the tune of "Yellow Submarine":
In a town known as Provo Lives a man we all adore,
And we'll tel l you of his life Now that he has reached age 64.
Well he studied in the East till he gained a few degrees,
Wed his student, had some kids, Now he's past age 63! 
Chorus: We're all glad Bruce has past age 63, past age 63, past age 63.
We're all glad Bruce has past age 63, past age 63 happily. 
And his wife is still on board! he has lots of friends around the world,
And the karaoke plays (do do do do do doo do doo do do do do do do do do do!) 
Though it's not a life of ease--Every spare second spent bishoping--
He will be forever Young, though he's past age 63! 
All right, yes, very clever.  But more than that, I felt amazingly blessed to have these beautiful young people (each averaging about a third of my age) showering me with wit and affection.  I felt surrounded by the warmth of their love.

As the evening wound down a bit, I took a turn going downstairs, and joined Jules, Travis, the Elwoods, and Traci and Sophie in singing with the Beatles.  At least one other friend was downstairs--Yoko Stevenson--and yes, she is named after Yoko Ono.  She told us that, unfortunately, she needed to leave--and so I started singing, "I don't want to spoil the party so I'll go . . ."  (Again, I'm tempted to say I couldn't help myself.)

My singing of "I don't want to spoil the party . . ." was without accompaniment (I don't think it's on the Beatles Rock Bank list).  But soon I took my turn singing along with the Beatles.  I sang "When I'm 64" and am delighted to say that, having set the bar at the "expert" level, got a score of 98%.  I got a bit lower on other songs, partly because I wasn't very good at the oohs and ahs and yelling and general silliness that comes in the final stretch of several of them.

As we passed 9:30 and parents started persuading the remaining young people they needed to get home, it was clear the party would finally have to end.  Margaret and I were left with lots of leftovers and lots of good memories.

On the left: I'm ready to blow out 64 candles; guests in the background.
On the right: My daughter Jules checks out my tummy; I'm wearing the Sgt. Pepper's shirt gifted me by the Snyders.


For more details, check the following links:

The playlist of my 64 favorite Beatles songs​ 
(and for a list of the songs:

The fabulous 52 people who attended

The Beatles themed food items (including items mentioned above and others):  (Among other things, you'll find out more about Mackintosh's Good News chocolates--and whatever we . . .or I should say Margaret . . . made out of a red pepper, humus, and parsley.)

The rest of the Beatles quiz (the part I didn't actually get around to asking):

The results of the "secret ballot" (favorite Beatle, favorite Beatles songs and albums, and least favorite Beatles songs and albums--and besides getting the overall results for the group, you'll find out what MY votes were):

For those who don't want to go to the trouble of getting the FULL results, here are partial results:

(1) Favorite Beatle: Paul won by a landslide (13 out of 25 votes)

(2) Favorite Beatles songs: The winner was "Eleanor Rigby," followed by "Here Comes the Sun," "Let It Be," "Hey Jude," "Blackbird," and five other songs that tied for 6th place ("Penny Lane," "Something," "A Hard Day's Night," "I Want to Hold Your Hand," and "I Will").

(3) Favorite Beatles albums: The winner was Abbey Road, followed by Revolver and three others that tied (Rubber Soul, Sgt. Pepper's, and Let It Be).  Interesting results.  In the post that accompanies the full results, I ponder why I think the results are a bit skewed--meaning distorted a bit by many voters' lack of thorough knowledge of all the albums.

(4) Least favorite Beatles song: The clear winner was "Revolution 9" (on the "White Album")--which, as someone pointed out, is not really a song.  There was no clear consensus for second place, though one odd result (explored if you follow the "secret ballot" link above) was that some songs had votes as both favorite and least favorite.  Someone also pointed out that most of the votes were for well-known songs that people didn't care for.  Only those who know all 211 songs we have listed on the ballot might be aware of how bad a few of the more obscure songs are.

(5) Least favorite Beatles albums: Again there was a clear "winner"--Yellow Submarine.  The only problem is that it's not really an album in the sense the others are.  It has only four new songs, repeats two from other albums, and then has orchestral music by George Martin.  I should probably have asked what your least favorite album is other than Yellow Submarine.

As you may have noticed, only 25 of our 52 guests cast ballots.  I guess that's a fairly good percentage as far as midterm elections go.  I have to say that the group's votes don't exactly match mine--I'm referring to the ballots cast at the party, not the actual midterm election that took place the following day (though I wasn't entirely happy with the results of that election either).  But to learn how I voted (in the Beatles "secret ballot"), you'll have to go the link listed above.

Finally, some related links:

Margaret has already published a post about the party on her nationally known "Welcome Table" blog. See

I also noticed that about a year ago, shortly before my 63rd birthday, I had another Beatles post--a fun one playing with song titles:

And then there's the Stake Picnic Beatles interview from many years ago:


Margaret said...

Delightful blog post! How wonderful that you had such a great final birthday party! Because that was the culmination, right? All down hill now.

Anna B said...

What wouldn't I give to have seen you singing to Beatles rock band?? That's a fantastic present. Thanks for sharing this with all of us--I loved hearing about the party.

Stewart Morgan said...

I really like the fresh perspective you did on the issue. I will be back soon to check up on new posts! Thank you!
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