Coffee with The Queen of Soap Operas

Would we drink coffee with Agnes Nixon?

Kristy: Most definitely.  My mother watched All My Children my entire childhood and I have lots of memories of watching with her.  And I’ve watched One Life to Live on and off sine 1996.  For years of entertainment I owe the woman a cup of coffee.  But there’s even more to it.  Agnes has always been ahead of her time:  She created the fictional town of Llanview, PA way back in 1968 and peopled it with Jews, Blacks, and *gasp* Poles!  If that last one seems silly to you, do a quick tally of all the Polish-American characters currently on television.  The woman’s still ahead of her time.  Add to that she was talking about the importance of pap smears on Guiding Light in 1962 when you couldn’t say the word (or “uterus” or “cancer”) on television.  And the first legal abortion on an American television show (I choose not to acknowledge the retconned unabortion from 2006 because while I didn’t watch, I hear it was awful and not Agnes’s fault).  And making Erica Kane’s daughter a lesbian in 2000.  Mock soap opera’s as irrelevant trash all you want; modern television and American society in general owe this woman a hell of a lot.

On top of all of this, I find the woman adorable and charming.  And I am still hopping mad with the Douche-bags in charge at ABC for the way they have treated her in recent years.  So yeah, I’m buying this woman a cup of coffee.  And hopefully while we drink she’ll share some stories.  Because she’s seen a lot of television history (I don’t think it should be overlooked that female headwriters are still a rarity in television and this woman was doing it fifty years ago.)  You know she’s got a tale or two to tell.  And yeah, I want to commiserate with her about the premature cancellation of her babies.  And maybe, if she’ll let me, give her a hug.

Cammy: While I know less than a quarter of what Kristy does about soaps, and I don’t have the kind of passion about the genre that only an awesomely true fan can have–I’m there.  I, too, have childhood memories of All My Children, so that alone makes me willing to join in.  And I have oodles of respect for Agnes for having tackled the kinds of topics she did (and I so totally didn’t know she had Poles.  Rock.  On.)  And more than that?  I give her mad props for the volume of writing for which she is responsible (either directly or indirectly).  When you consider the amount of written content in long running soaps like AMC and GL…..it boggles the mind.  I can only imagine the tales of last-minute rewrites this woman must have….for this (and to see Kristy get in a fantastic fan-moment), coffee is most definitely in order.

Coffee With….Maria Cunitz

Cammy: Definitely want to have coffee with this woman.  There’s a shortage of women in the history of science generally, and an even greater shortage of those who get any press time (besides Marie Curie, bless her little Polish heart).  Cunitz was an astronomer in the 1600s in Silesia (Silesian roots, represent, yo).  She improved on Kepler’s laws of planetary motion (and apparently let the housework slide while working on it).  She also spoke seven languages (if you know anything about the location of Silesia, you know that at least 2 of those were just part of the area:  Polish and German).  She allegedly also had skill in music, art, medicine and poetry.  But the fact is, there just isn’t much known about her.  Part of this is due to, well, it was circa 1650.  And part was because of the times.  Many of her contemporaries ignored her astronomical calculations, her correspondence with other scholars had to be addressed to her husband and that same husband had to write a preface to her published work openly disclaiming authorship–because obviously no one would believe a woman capable of math.

So basically?  I want to have coffee to get the straight story here.  How pissed was she at playing games just to discuss her field with others?  When was she born (there are no accurate records to even tell us that much)?  Fleeing Silesia to avoid some of the Thirty Years War Conflict–was that done to avoid conversion to Catholicism (like her siblings who remained behind did), or just because?

Kristy: Yes.  Let’s face it, I might lack anything beyond a very basic understanding of physics and I lack even that when it comes to math.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t respect it.  And a woman of her era who managed to achieve that level of accomplishment in a field people didn’t even think women were biologically capable of comprehending?  That deserves something greater than just respect.  Besides, she seems to have been a serious Renaissance woman (in the figurative sense of the word).  Gotta love a woman who can write comfortably in multiple languages and who advocates the vernacular.  So yeah, I’d drink coffee with her.  I might get lost listening to her and Cammy talk about Germany, Silesia, and science.  But I’ll nod and smile convincingly.

Coffee With….Jadwiga of Poland

Coffee With….Jadwiga of Poland….Aka St. Hedwig, Patron Saint of Queens and a United Europe

Cammy:  Normally, the Catholic angle is up to Kristy, but in this case, I had to nominate this gal for a kaffee klatsch.  Jadwiga was the King of Poland.  No, that’s not a typo.  She was actually crowned “king” at a time when queens who were sovereigns in their own right were rare (and because, at the time, Poland had no provision for this kind of thing).  So when a queen just isn’t enough?  Call ‘er a king and move on.  Gotta love a quick solution.
Amusing title changes aside, there’s also the multi-lingual angle.  The gal (allegedly) spoke 6 languages:  Bosnian, Serbian, Hungarian, Polish, German and Latin.  That would certainly make for an interesting communication effort over coffee.  My late 14th century German is more than a little rusty.  I say the onus is on her to catch on to what I’m saying–if she knows that many languages she can figure it out, right?

History of the time being foggy, it’s tough to tell exactly how much power she actually wielded when she took the Polish throne at 11.  Regardless of how much of it was on her, she was the instrument through which Poland united with and wound up shoe-horning Christianity into Lithuania via her marriage to Lithuania’s King Jagiello (I have no evidence, but I sort of suspect, he may have been a bit of putz, but that’s purely my opinion).  She was involved with negotiations with the Teutonic Knights–which even if she wasn’t the power negotiator is still kind of awesome that those guys had to talk to an pre-teen girl.  She also revamped the University in Krakow, which, you know, as a nerd, I appreciate.

Purpose of coffee with her?  Just for the hell of it.  Like so many of our post-life coffee with guests, it’s about getting the information we couldn’t get out of a book (or even Wikipedia).  And who would turn down a chance to say they had coffee with a multi-lingual, female Polish King turned Saint?
Kristy: I’m not going to lie, when Cammy threw this one out my first reaction was, “Who?”  After some quick internet research, however, I’m game.  She sounds like a really interesting lady and I’d like to know more about her.  Particularly the kinds of things that don’t get written in historical documents.  Who was really the force between certain actions?  How much say did she really have during her reign.  That kind of thing.

Also, supposedly I’m related to her through her great-grandfather Charles Martel.  And while I’m not completely convinced of my royal ancestry, it still helps pique my interest.


Cammy
:  Hey, Kristy, should we do a side of pierogis with this coffee thing?