“Be Courageous and Be Brave”

“And in my heart you’ll always stay forever young.” – Rod Stewart

hqdefault

Dr. Suess once said “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”  I can’t tell you how much I love this quote.  Moments that are planned, and moments that sneak up on us and surprise us all have the ability to turn into memories that can last a lifetime.

Not many things make me reflect on moments and memories and the passing of time quite like a high school graduation.  I spent Friday evening attending and celebrating my nephew’s high school graduation.  He not only graduated from high school, but he did so with college credits as well!  Was that even a thing when I graduated?  Probably, but I was just happy to earn my diploma by itself.

It was quite an impressive achievement for my nephew (some of his classmates actually received their high school diploma AND a two-year Associate’s Degree).  But, in the words of my wise father-in-law – “his story isn’t written yet.”  Eighteen years is quite a while, but he’s right in this case – it’s only the beginning for my nephew.

My beginning / high school graduation happened 28 years ago.

As I sat through my nephew’s graduation of maybe 40-50 students I thought about his 18 years.  My wife and I were married the same year he was born (1999).  I remember my sister-in-law was big and pregnant at our wedding in March of that year.  I remember the times my wife and I got to babysit the first boy in her family in many years at our big blue house in Lexington, Oklahoma.  And we loved every minute of it.

I also thought about my high school graduation in 1989.  It featured some 550 (or was it 650?) students and was held in the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

enzaflaavyxyetv-20130615022446

I don’t remember much from the event itself.  I remember thinking it was long with that many students, but I couldn’t tell you one thing that was said during the event.  After it was over I do remember walking out and up the ramp (part of the Lloyd Noble Center is underground) where we were directed to walk as graduates.

I paused for a moment near the top of the ramp, turned around, and stood there watching my fellow graduates walk up the ramp wearing their caps and black gowns, and basically off into the sunset.  I wondered what would become of them, of us.  I knew colleges, the military, and jobs awaited us.  Life awaited us, and even though I didn’t really know how, I knew things would never be the same.  Our stories were just beginning, and they were beginning in all different directions.

People I attended school with almost every day for five years I would never see again except for the occasional class reunion.  I now “see” many of them through the power of the internet on social media.  I feel like I know many of them better now than I did all of those years ago.  We’ve all formed opinions and affiliations, and have had marriages and divorces and started families and mourned the passing of others.  We’re all grown up.  Our stories are still unfolding for many of us, though I’m still saddened by the untimely loss of our senior class president Ann Fagan Lovasz , who you’ll see in the above program gave the invocation at our commencement ceremony.  (Ann passed away in 2014 after a long, courageous bout with cancer.)

“But whatever road you choose, I’m right behind you win or lose… forever young.”

Just like I had supportive parents, and uncles and aunts, and friends behind me I feel I should return the favor to the next generation of graduates in our family.  That’s one reason I showed up to support and congratulate, and I thoroughly enjoyed Friday night.   I look forward to watching my nephew’s story unfold.

FullSizeRender

Good luck awesome nephew!

Released 10 months before I graduated, this Rod Stewart song peaked at #12 and the video features the strangeness of Rod holding a random (albeit cute) little red-headed boy on the back of a moving vehicle while singing to him.  Remember when you could ride in the back of a pick up truck.  Today, they’d slap Rod with a hefty fine, and call DHS in to investigating possible child endangerment.

Regardless, let’s enjoy the sentiment, and Rod’s fantastic 1988 hair, and may you, the reader, (and possibly a graduate yourself) also remain “Forever Young”

Thanks for reading

sincerely,

the 80’s

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“This Prison Has Now Become Your Home”

“A sentence you seemed prepared to face.” – Sting

166464807605-sting-fortress-around-your-heart-option-two_music_video_ov

I had just finished another year of prison or school if you will by the time June of 1985 rolled around.  My only year at Whittier Middle School in Norman, OK (8th grade) was complete, but it seemed like school would last forever.  I laugh at that thought now.

The uncertainty of high school lay ahead at a two year “mid-high” called West Mid-High which housed about half of the 9th and 10th graders in Norman.  The other half attended cross-town rival Central Mid-High.  Central was located on the east side of Norman and was filled with academically-challenged thugs, gang members, vagrants, and ugly girls.  Ok, so maybe that’s a slight exaggeration… all the girls weren’t ugly.  Hey oh!  They were our crosstown rival alright?

Also during the summer of 1985 Gordon Sumner released his first solo album called “The Dream of the Blue Turtles.”  Better known for being lead singer of the band The Police and by his professional name, “Sting,”  I disliked his first single “If You Love Somebody (Set Them Free)” very much.  I absolutely hated the second single “Love is the Seventh Wave.”  Ahh, but the third single!  The third single (and final track on the album) saved my growing disdain for his solo career when my ears were treated to “Fortress Around Your Heart.”

As I’ve aged I’ve garnered a better appreciation for the lyrical poets of the 80’s, and one has to include Mr. Sumner in this hypothetical list.  Coming off of the brilliant “Sychronicity” album (the final Police album), his songs and lyrical prowess as part of The Police were well established by then, but no one was sure what to expect from his solo career.  And that act was back-firing in my mind in a hurry when “Fortress Around Your Heart” was released.

“And if I’ve built this fortress around your heart, encircled you in trenches and barbed wire,”

Sting’s clever lyrics drip with images of failure and regret, of trying to bridge gaps and satisfy others, and of attempting to avoid mistakes of the past, and ultimately reconciliation.

Who can relate to that?  Just everyone.

That’s the reason why this song appeals to many and is thought highly of by so many  including Sting himself who once said that the chorus was one of the best he’d ever written.

I’m always impressed at what people produce though trial and tribulation.  This song was written by Sting after the failure of his first marriage that lasted eight years.  At lowest points people amaze me with their resilience and courage and brilliance.  People rise up.

You too will rise up.  If you’re struggling with something or someone.  If you’re feeling down and defeated.  If you feel like someone has built a fortress around your heart just know that you’re not alone.

We were made to be relational.  Bridges can be built.  Obstacles can be overcome and reconciliations can happen.  Be patient.  Be intentional.  Be prayerful.  Be P.I.P., baby!  I just made that up, but I like it.

“Then let me build a bridge, for I cannot fill the chasm, and let me set the battlements on fire”

For an 8th grader in the summer of 1985 I was too young to even have a clue of what Sting was singing to me through the oversized stereo speakers in my room.  I wasn’t worried about reconciliation or building bridges or regretting past failures.  I hadn’t really experienced life yet.  I just thought the rhythm of the song was cool and the lyrics were interesting (who uses the word “fortress” in a song, much less the chorus and title?  Sting does!).  I probably had some idea that the song was about war or love or both and I guess I was close, but I couldn’t really relate in 1985.

In 2017 I can.  And that’s the thing with rock stars and their songs.  The people won’t be around forever, but their songs will.  Their lyrics live on, and the meanings behind those songs can be ever-evolving through the different stages we go through in our lives.  If you think about it, that’s a sign of a well-written song.

“As I returned across the fields I’d known, I recognized the walls that I once made.
Had to stop in my tracks for fear of walking on the mines I’d laid.”

There’s a lot of 80’s-ness to enjoy in this video.  For one, check out the ancient VCR at the beginning of the video.  Then, there’s the incredible acting “wakey, wakey, Mister Sting….”  Finally, the slow zoom into the eyes of Sting who is apparently staring deep into your soul, so I’m warning you right now to repent before Sting uncovers your darkest sins and desires through his stare.

I will introduce today’s featured video by quoting Sting – “just one song… and I’ll choose it.”  Well, I choose my favorite… a song that hit #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 – “Fortress Around Your Heart…”

The lyrics, the imagery, and Sting showing off his chiseled arms for the video will forever be my favorite memory to date of the post-Police Sting, who by the way hit the top 40 again at the end of last year with a song I really enjoy called “I Can’t Stop Thinking About You” at the young age of 65.  Kudos to you Mister Sting.

KKandGrandmaandKariNHShat

Sting wasn’t the only one putting on a gun show wearing tank tops in the 80’s!  LOL.  My grandma and sister are obstructing the view to my much larger left one.  Trust me.

As always, thanks for reading.

sincerely,

the 80’s

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

“I See You”

“You see me.” – Darryl Hall & John Oates

I see you Darryl Hall and John Oates!

Two facts I learned recently:  Darryl Hall is 70, and Darryl Hall has great hair.

I found myself mesmorized by the swooshiness of his hair (that’s a word, right?) last week as a buddy of mine and I took in the first show of the Hall & Oates / Tears for Fears 2017 tour held at the BOK Center in Tulsa.

Seventy!  Does he look 70 in this picture below?  His musical partner of 45+ years is not looking too shabby either.  That’s John Oates on the right, and he’s the youngster of the two at age 69.

hall-oates-tickets-640x420_q70_crop-2c525_upscale

At some point as you grow older you realize that the musical heroes from your youth are not going to live forever, and that you better give in and go see some of these acts before they die (Case in point:  Michael Jackson, Prince, George Michael, Glenn Frey/Eagles, Whitney Houston).  While this blog is subject to my random whims and thoughts, I suppose that part of it is a dedication to those musicians and all the joy and entertainment they’ve provided me and countless others through the years.

So when the opportunity came along to see two pretty big acts from the 80’s on the same ticket I decided that would be a great birthday present for myself and told my wife as much.  My wife bought the tickets but couldn’t go so that’s how a buddy of mine and I ended up in downtown Tulsa after work on a Thursday night.

I’ve featured a post featuring Tears for Fears on this blog before.  The post dealt about leaving a legacy while highlighting one of my top 10 all-time favorite 80’s songs – “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.”  Though they only had four or five top 10 hits in the U.S., Tears for Fears album “Songs From the Big Chair” was one of the biggest albums of 1985, and the group was a staple on MTV for a few years.  These two youngsters at just 55 years of age put on a solid set to open up for Hall & Oates.  Here is a clip from that very song that opened their set…

If any group or duo deserves a little love and appreciation it has to be Hall & Oates with their 16 top 10 hits and numerous other top 40 hits.  These dudes were huge in the 80’s.  They’re not going to blow you away with their music, or make your ears ring from guitar solos, but they will entertain you for 90 minutes with still solid vocals and a stellar band.  I did feel like I needed a glass of wine though while I listened to these elder statesmen roll through their enormous catalog of hits dating back to the late 70’s.  If you prefer to sit at concerts (I did tell a few people that I actually sat down through this whole concert, and that was a first), then you can at this concert (unless you’re on the floor where they stood most of the night).  Man, I’m getting old too.

hallandoates

I still have this cassette that I “purchased” for a penny from the Columbia House mail-order Music Club back in the early 80’s

 

Besides the 1981 “Private Eyes” cassette (pictured above), I also own the 1982 “H2O” cassette featuring the classic #1 hit “Maneater.”

maneater_tee

Can’t believe my wife wouldn’t let me get her this shirt

My biggest recollection of having that cassette though was the fact that I used the song “One on One” (a top 10 hit) as a musical score for my own nerf basketball highlight reel.  Granted I didn’t have a video camera at my disposal (like I did a few years later), but I did have a good imagination.  I would cue up the slow tempo song and while it played I would conduct my own highlight montage in my bedroom using my nerf hoop mounted on my door.  While the song played imagine 11 year old Kyle moving around in slow motion with endless imaginary dunks, blocked shots, and great plays as Hall & Oates provided the background music for this all-world display of nerf hoop talent.  I conducted this “highlight video” numerous times using Hall & Oates for the music.

“Private Eyes.  They’re watching you.  They see your every move.”

There will be thousands of eyes on the duo of Hall & Oates as they continue on with their tour.  Whether you like any of their music or not, just know this:  Even though Mr. Oates is sans the famous thick, dark, bushy mustache he sported throughout the 80’s (he did rock a Cain’s Ballroom t-shirt for the Tulsa crowd though), and Mr. Hall can’t quite reach some of those falsetto notes anymore, these two still look really good, and can still perform at a high quality.  And come one, where do I get that hair when I’m 70?  Seriously.

Hall & Oates with an early foray into music videos and their classic “Private Eyes”…

And as a bonus, the 2017 live version from the BOK Center in Tulsa…

As always, thanks for reading.

sincerely,

the 80’s

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“I Believe The Children Are Our Future”

“Teach them well and let them lead the way.” – Whitney Houston

0

Parenting is hard.

Watching your children make mistakes is excruciating at times.  You wonder if you hurt more than they actually do.

The emotions as a parent can be extreme and more powerful than anyone without children can even imagine.  As parents our chests swell with pride at every milestone and achievement.  That’s my boy!  That’s my girl!  The high is almost intoxicating at times, and there aren’t many feelings comparable to that parental pride.

But, as parents we’re also frequently left wondering what we did or didn’t do when our children make poor decisions and the consequences that come with those decisions.  Where did we fail?  Why did this happen?  What could we have done differently to prevent it?  Questions that can drive one mad with regret.

Last night a thunderstorm blew through here bringing with it golf ball sized hail that exploded on our roof, the side of our house, and on our porches.  It hit our windows.  It was loud and slightly unnerving.

As I lie awake at 1 am after the hail had subsided but still listening to the rain fall, it wasn’t lost on me that storms blow through our lives all the time, both literally and figuratively.  Sometimes we watch in awe and wonder.  Other times we cower and hide and pray for it to end.  Storms can pass through quickly while at other times they seem to linger forever.  Either way we usually make it through.  The sun comes out and we keep on living.  We press forward.  It’s all we can and know how to do.

The older our children get the more important their decisions become.  The challenges parents face becomes more and more difficult.  The thunderstorms become bigger and scarier.  The processing of emotions and the inner turmoil that can be caused by a child’s mistake can be frustrating at best.  With each mistake a new reality sets in.  A new future begins.

“Show them all the beauty they possess inside.  Give them a sense of pride to make it easier.”

As parents we’re tasked with trying to help our children make the best decisions possible with the experiences and wisdom that we’ve gained in life.  It’s all we can really do.  We can’t make decisions for them.  We can’t force them to do the right thing.  We shower them with love and protection and a sense of self-worth, but when they make mistakes we have to let them know that we’re disappointed for them (not in them), and what this means for their life now and in the future.

I assume God went through many of these same emotions in reading Old Testament scripture as his children, the Israelites, wandered the desert for 40 years constantly disobeying God and making poor choices.  Joy and pride followed by embarrassment,  disappointment, and punishment.

There was never any promise of things being easy though.

“Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33 (NLT)

I don’t know how people without faith make it.  I don’t know how parents with children remain sane without it.

“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” – Proverbs 22:6

These two verses offer hope and encouragement for me and for many others, and that has to be enough in times of confusion and pain and sorrow.

“If I fail, if I succeed, at least I’ll live as I believe.”

I love the lyrics to today’s featured song written by the late writers Michael Masser and Linda Creed.  George Benson made this a hit on the R&B charts in 1977, but Whitney Houston did what Whitney Houston did to songs.  She took this song in 1986, and “Whitney-ized” it.  She made it bigger, bolder, more powerful.  Sorry George, but I think you would agree with me.

The lyrics (written during Creed’s battle with breast cancer in 1976-77) tell the story of coping with life’s great challenges and persevering, and eventually passing that strength on to your children.

“I never found anyone who fulfill my needs.  A lonely place to be so I learned to depend on me.”

Today’s video is both haunting and beautiful to me.  Whitney Houston in her prime in 1987 showed us why she is one of the great talents of all-time.  Though I’m thankful for her voice and the music she produced, it makes me a little sad to listen to her.  By now we all know Whitney’s struggles and tragic end to her life at the age of 48 in 2012.  We also know that ironically, the tragedy also carried over to her daughter Bobbi Kristina just three years later when she passed at the age of 22.

“And if by chance, that special place that you’ve been dreaming of leads you to a lonely place.  Find your strength in love.”

Parenting is not easy at any socio or economic status and doesn’t discriminate because of race or sexual orientation.  We make poor decisions.  Our children make poor decisions.  We all live with the consequences.  Like I said at the beginning, parenting is hard.  Life is hard.

The story of Whitney and her daughter is a sad tale, because in the end love alone didn’t win for Whitney or her daughter.  It’s cautionary everyday stories like this that scare us as parents.  Are we enough for our children?  Is love enough?  It has to be right?  There’s nothing else.  1 John 4:8 says “whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”  God is love.  I choose God and I choose love and I choose to carry on.

“Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.”

Another choice I made was to choose a live performance video of this song which Whitney sang at the 1987 Grammy’s.  To me, it just enforces the greatness of Whitney when you see her absolute nail this song live.  There are not many voices that can give me absolute chills, but hers is a rare exception.  Beauty, grace, and some of the most powerful vocal chords to ever grace this Earth…

Thanks for reading and hang in there all you parents.  Keep loving and keep living.

sincerely,

the 80’s

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“This Speech is My Recital”

“I think it’s very vital to rock a rhyme that’s right on time” – Run DMC

rs-385-run-dmc

I’m not easily impressed with public speakers.  Maybe it’s because they seem like they are a dime a dozen, or maybe it’s because so many of them aren’t very good.  As a local banker and amateur rapper I feel fairly qualified to judge.  (I realize I just dropped an “amateur rapper” on you in the previous sentence… hey, just ask my wife!)

In my profession I attend a lot of charity events in the area, and I hear a lot of speakers.  The format at these events is pretty much the same – host/emcee, guest speaker or speakers, award presentation, auction (silent or public… sometimes both if you’re lucky).  So I am witness to these speakers quite often, and very few are memorable.  I will tell you though I am a sucker for a well prepared young speaker.  And by “young” I mean someone still in high school or younger.

At the recent Boys and Girls’ Club of Benton County “Youth of the Year” gala, a deserving young woman named Fernanda Alcantara was awarded the honor (she also won the award at the state level), and her acceptance speech was outstanding, borderline brilliant.  I don’t think she looked down at her notes but maybe once and I’m not sure how much of her speech was actually prepared, and how much of it was from the heart or “off-the-cuff.”  I would much prefer hearing from her than many of the ones that have long been lost to memory by now.  She was polished and professional and very engaging.

I attend a local adult chapter of FCA, and am always excited and amazed to hear from the kids in attendance.  Most of the time they are high school athletes sharing about their lives, and occasionally they are junior high or middle school kids and I’m almost always astounded at their boldness and their sense of purpose.  I think it’s good for the kids as well to get some real world practice at speaking in front of others.

I had the occasional report or presentation to give (as most of us did) growing up, but my first real practice with public speaking was in college when I took a speech class.  We had to tackle a subject, prepare, practice, and present.  There are not many things more unnerving in school than having to stand in front of all your peers and ramble on about some unimportant event in your life or a current issue of the day.  It’s all I could do to just stand there and withstand all of the judgmental eyes shooting daggers through my face.

speaking-in-front-of-an-audience-today

I don’t remember many of the speeches I gave in that class.  I know one was about snow skiing, but the one speech that really stands out to me is that I once gave a speech about procrastination.  The irony is that I was totally unprepared to give it!  I’m pretty sure I didn’t even start preparing for until 10 or 11 the night before.

I actually put my Nintendo gaming system, a TV remote, an empty Domino’s pizza box, and a cordless cell phone in a duffel bag and shuffled off to speech class (it was my first class of the day twice a week).  Once there, I was a disorganized mess referring to some partially scribbled notes I had quickly made the night before as I pulled each item out of the bag and explained how they were good for procrastinating.  My speech teacher quickly agreed that I knew how to procrastinate, but I don’t think she appreciated the irony evidenced by the ‘C’ she gave me on that speech.  In retrospect this could have been a great speech, but my lack of preparation doomed it from the start.

1200px-nes-console-set

The original Nintendo.  Who else had one of these bad boys in the late 80’s!?  Hours and hours were spent mastering Tecmo Bowl, Tetris, and RBI Baseball to name a few. 

Public speaking is an interesting dynamic, and something that can easily be addictive for some.  The spotlight is on, and it can bring with it a sense of entitlement, importance and even power.  ‘Hey, look at me!  I’m speaking!  I’m important with important things to say so take notes… and be prepared to laugh at my awesome jokes like I’m Chris Rock!”

Though not natural for many, public speaking gets easier the older you get.  Like many of you, through the years I’ve had to speak in front of peers at various events.  I’ve taught  classes for adults and children, and lead discussions.  I’ve had to promote places and events, and have spoken at weddings and receptions.

Though I can’t sing (thus the need for me to be able to rap, duh), I imagine it’s not totally unlike a musical performer who gets up on the stage and performs for a crowd.  If you’re good, you have fans for life.  If you’re terrible then your career will be short-lived and unmemorable unless you’re really terrible, then in that case you might be memorable, but it will be for being awful, which probably isn’t the goal either.

“When I wake up people take up mostly all of my time.  I’m not singin’, phone keep ringin’ ’cause I make up a rhyme.”

Thirty years ago today’s featured song and video was released on Run-D.M.C.‘s third album “Raising Hell.”  This song charted on the US Billboard Hot 100 along with the R&B/Hip Hop charts.  The video (“they took my chain!”) was a memorable one from my youth not only because I love the song, but the video is entertaining featuring the popular magic act of Penn & Teller.  When the mood strikes, I love me some Run-D.M.C. though.  They (along with Beastie Boys and LL Cool J) were probably most influential in cultivating my love of rap music growing up.  Of course, today they’re not quite the same since the shooting death of third member DJ Jam Master Jay back in 2002.  But back in the mid and late 80’s they were definitely the “Kings from Queens.”

As you contemplate your next speaking event, small or large, just know that I understand it’s a tough gig.  I’m not judging.  Really.  There’s nothing easy about speaking in front of others.  It can be fun and enjoyable and a bit intoxicating I suppose, but I also know it can be difficult, and frustrating, and nerve-wracking, and dare I even say maybe even a little… “tricky?”

“It’s Tricky to rock a rhyme, to rock a rhyme that’s right on time”

Here we go!

As always, thanks for reading.  Now, go put on your Adidas and rock a rhyme.

sincerely,

the 80’s

kkrapper

Still rappin’ to this day

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

“I Know It’s Late”

“I know you’re weary” – Kenny Rogers

Actually I don’t know that at all.  What I do know though is there are times when these posts write themselves almost like a country song.  You know – your girl left you, your truck broke down, your dog died, and you’re drowning your pain in a third whiskey and coke at the local honkey-tonk.  Your stereotypical country song.

The country song theme I’m creating here isn’t accidental either.  It’s because of the recent ACM awards show from Las Vegas a few weeks ago.  I happened to be at my parents’ house in Norman, Oklahoma that Sunday night.  I was there to help them get to and from a minor out-patient surgery the next morning, and we decided to watch the show.

My family is a music-loving family.  I grew up with my parents playing everything from Elvis to The Righteous Brothers to Willie Nelson on the stereo.  Those big 33’s would spin and drop and blast over the speakers throughout the house on Friday and Saturday nights all the time in the summer.  It’s where I was first introduced to country music, specifically Alabama, Kenny Rogers, and Ronnie Milsap.

As we watched the show on Sunday night I kept cracking up at my parents’ insightful and random comments throughout the show, mostly my dad’s.  So when I say this post wrote itself, I mean my dad pretty much wrote this post for me.

Here are some of my favorite lines:

There were a lot of “who’s he and who’s she?”  That included everyone from country superstar Jason Aldean to Ty Bentli (a popular national co-host on radio and television that I didn’t know either) and even the legendary Joe Walsh.  I quickly asked my dad if he had ever heard of the band The Eagles which he nodded that he did.  Whew!  I didn’t feel like giving an oral history on one of the most legendary bands of all time.

52nd Academy Of Country Music Awards - Show

Dad, this is Joe Walsh.  He’s from a little known band a million years ago called The Eagles. 

“I can only understand about half the words they’re singing.”  Pretty sure this was during Rascal Flatts’ performance where they sang the up tempo song “Yours if You Want It.”  That was a fair statement.  I could only understand about half the words too.

“Twenty years ago they’d all be wearing suit and ties.”  I will give my dad this one and add cowboy hats and boots to the equation as well, because some of today’s “country” artists wear tennis shoes and ball caps.  I guess that’s still country, but I miss all of those cowboy hats and boots when I watch the performers these days.

Speaking of wardrobe and fashion… Your mom would never let me grow a beard.”  That one cracked me up and I totally believe it.  My dad never had anything more than long sideburns in the 70’s.  If he ever had facial hair, he didn’t have it very long.

dadandmomonahorse

Semi-long sideburns was about as crazy as it got for dad.  And here’s my mom gone country riding a horse

“She (Miranda Lambert) is better looking than his current girlfriend.”  Sorry Gwen and Blake, but dad is team Miranda.

“Mom was a better dancer than all these people.” I will take your word for it, but I know my mom has some dancing skills.

Speaking of females… “There’s a lot of skinny girls on this show.”  Pretty sure country music might have an image problem if my dad is noticing only skinny girls and the lack of big boned musical talents.

My mom’s zinger of the night… “She should get a baton and get to twirling.  She looks like she’s dressed more for that than for singing.”  The quote is loosely paraphrased, but that was my mom’s sentiment when she saw Kelsea Ballerini on stage singing “Yeah Boy.”

kelsea-ballerini-acm-awards-show-2017-billboard-1548

Mom thought she should have a baton instead of a guitar

“I wonder where Tiny Tim is now?”  This question didn’t come totally out of left field.  We saw a commercial during the show that featured a ukulele, and for those of you wondering who the heck Tiny Tim is, here is his wiki page.  And for the record, dad, Tiny Tim passed away in 1996.

More fashion commentary from the man who hasn’t bought a new piece of clothing in years… “He needs to buy some shoes after this (Thomas Rhett after winning male vocalist of the year)”  Thomas was sporting some white tennis shoes as he took the stage in his skinny black jeans and shiny black jacket.  Oh Thomas, you look more like an imitation Mat Kearney than a country superstar.

trhett

Either/or?:  Is this Thomas Rhett or a Backstreet Boy?

“Do you think Julius Larosa could be a hit on this show?”  This was my first “who’s he?”  Born in 1930, Larosa was an Italian-American pop singer apparently.  Here’s more detail if you’re so inclined.

“They have 6 blondes sitting all next right to each other.”  Well slap your grandma!  He’s right.  Whatever that means for the show or country music.

Finally… “I never heard of any of these people.  Where’s Kenny Rogers?”  Well dad, he wasn’t at the ACM’s, but he’s right here on today’s post in sincerely the 80’s!

kenny-rogers-3

I featured Kenny Rogers one other time on this site, but for those of you that didn’t read that piece please know this – Kenny was the man back in the early 80’s.  Besides having twenty-something number one country hits, the man also had two US Billboard Hot 100 number one’s, and the early 80’s were very good to Kenny.

The best beard in music at that time.  The finely coiffed hair.  The masculine, dark chest-hair.  The pimpin’ suits!  The ladies swooned over him and the guys wanted to be him.  My parents saw Kenny numerous times in Las Vegas over the years.

Today’s featured song was a top 10 US Billboard song and a #1 country hit for the duet of Rogers and the little known Scottish singer Sheena Easton.  And yes, those of you scratching your heads wondering – is this the same Sheena Easton with that famous sexually explicit song?  Yes.  Yes it is the same Sheena that charted the top 10 US Billboard and R&B song “Sugar Walls,” (written by Prince) which was considered one of the “Filthy Fifteen” by Tipper Gore’s PMRC (Parents Music Resource Center) in 1985.  Before Walls though Easton was just another successful duet partner for Rogers.  “We’ve Got Tonight,” was just another massive crossover hit back in 1983 for Kenny Rogers…

“We’ve got tonight, babe.  Why don’t you stay?” (and read some more of this blog…)      

Thanks for reading today’s gone country edition.

sincerely,

the 80’s

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

“Don’t Say It Ain’t So,”

“You know the time is now.” – John Fogerty

KKbaseball

Put me in coach!  That’s a “ready” stance right there.  

The time is now!  It’s spring again, and early April brings us to the end of one thing (college basketball) and the beginning of something else (baseball).  I love baseball.  Basketball has always been my first love, but baseball hasn’t been too far behind.  The boys of summer.  The personalities.  The history.  The statistics.  The ballpark hot dogs!

I’ve heard all the comments from the non-fans… boring, too slow, the game is too long, the season is too long, there is too much spitting, too much “adjusting” their… well you know.  I don’t care.  Baseball is not for everyone.

I still remember the sweltering July and August afternoons of my youth in Seminole, Oklahoma.  With baseball glove on one hand and a tennis ball in the other, I would walk across the street to Northwood Elementary School where a large tan brick wall became my opponent many afternoons.

Standing on the scorching blacktop, I would hurl the tennis ball at the mammoth wall with all the might in my skinny white body, and the wall would reciprocate with a tricky bouncer back to me.  I only had to throw the ball a couple of times against the wall before I would work up a good sweat underneath the Oklahoma sun.  I worked on my ground ball fielding.  I worked on catching pop-flys.  I was probably going to be the next Rod Carew or Mike Schmidt.

“Put me in coach, I’m ready to play today.  Look at me, I can be centerfield.”

I was never in centerfield (unless by accident).  I was mostly a first baseman in my younger years.  That’s where you stick the kid that can field, and catch a ball, but is too slow to track down much in the outfield.  People always assumed I was fast and would make a good outfielder because I was thin, tall, and took long strides like a giraffe.  But, I ran more like a slow sheep.

kkrunning

This is by no means the “finals” of the 100 yard dash at Northwood Elementary.  Just one of the many heats that day, and that’s me in 5th out of 6 runners.  I think the kid in last probably fell out of the blocks to start the race.  Not sure if I actually held on to finish 5th or not.  

I was a pretty good baseball player in elementary school though even making an all-star team one summer.  My baseball career came careening to an end though in 8th grade.  My worsening vision (I totally missed a fly ball hit to me in right field one game when I couldn’t even see the ball), and the fact that I couldn’t hit a fastball or a curveball or lay down a bunt expedited the end of my career as well.  Baseball teams don’t have much need for a kid who can’t hit, run, or field.

But that didn’t end my love for baseball.  To this day I’m a fantasy baseball nerd.  Yes, I play a pretend game with a bunch of other “grown-ups” and live and die each night depending upon how “my players” perform that day.  A friend of mine, who is also a banker in this area, is commissioner of this league and we correspond regularly over the highs and lows of managing a fake baseball team.  I’ve actually been commissioner of a fantasy football league for 21 years, but truth be told I like fantasy baseball more.

Moonlight

My fantasy baseball team – paying homage to the movie “Field of Dreams” along with those delicious little flavored bears.

My wife and daughter graciously put up with my baseball watching and agree to attend a baseball game anytime we’re in a major league city if the timing permits.  It’s become tradition to attend the game and purchase a baseball hat for each of us of that particular home team.  My goal is to visit every major league stadium at least once in this lifetime.  I have a long ways to go, but am already planning my first trip to Coors Field in Denver this summer while I’m in Boulder for banking school.  (Side note:  as a long time Cubs fan though I will never, ever buy a St. Louis Cardinals hat!)

The boys of summer are coming and I can’t wait to see the home runs, the pitching duels, the hit and runs, and the fights and the managers getting tossed by umpires.  Here’s to them, and here’s to you John Fogerty and your 1985 classic.

“Just to hit the ball, and touch ’em all.  A moment in the sun.  It’s a-gone and you can tell that one good-bye.”

john-fogerty-lawsuit_5

Though it only peaked at #44 on the Billboard Hot 100, the song was honored by the Baseball Hall of Fame and is one of my favorite John Fogerty songs ever.  Talking about Ted Cobb and “Say Hey” Willie and Joe Dimaggio, here is the former CCR frontman, Mr. John Fogerty and the video to “Centerfield.”

Thanks for reading and I hope you catch a baseball game or two this summer.

sincerely,

the 80’s

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

“Feel the Beat of Your Heart”

(Part 3 of my “One Shining Moment” three-part series  Part 1 is here.  Part 2.)

“Feel the wind in your face” – David Barrett

 

kkmcguinnessmvp.jpg

Earlier in the 1988-89 season after our McGuinness Tournament championship. I miss that dark hair.

In March of 1989 I was a 17-year-old senior at Norman High School.  I would turn 18 at the end of the month, but as my Norman High Tiger basketball career was winding down, we entered state playoff play.  We thought we had a good chance to make a return trip to the state tournament in Tulsa.  We were good enough to host a regional again, but we didn’t play well at all.  We played good enough to beat Moore in our first game, but struggled and lost our next game against Putnam City North putting us in the loser’s bracket of Area.

In area we had to win two games in order to make the state tournament in Tulsa.  We played well in defeating Lawton the first night and then beat John Marshall by three points (we had beaten them by three points earlier in the season in the annual McGuiness Tournament) the next night to earn our second straight trip to the state tourney.  As Coach Robinson stated after the win over John Marshall, I was “oh for March,” before I hit the three pointer in the waning seconds of the game to give us that win.

We were heavy underdogs to a much more athletic Tulsa Washington team led by another future University of Arkansas guard, Clint McDaniel.  Former Tulsa Rogers guard and future Razorback Lee Mayberry had ended our season the year before as I wrote about here in part 2.  A much more athletic team, Tulsa Washington started slowly while we jumped out to an early lead that we would never relinquish.  Late in the game, Coach Robinson had us execute our four corners offense and we made our free throws down the stretch to hang on and upset “the beast of the east.”

The next night we faced conference foe Westmoore for the third time that season.  We had beaten them twice already during the season and that whole third-time thing got to us I guess.  We lost to the Jaguars, who went on to lose in the championship game to Bartlesville the next night.  I sat in the locker room after that loss to the very end soaking in my final few moments as a member of the Norman High Tigers.  A few hugs among teammates later we were on the bus and back to the hotel, and my career as a Norman Tiger was over.

“It’s more than a contest, it’s more than a race.”

oucoaches

The 1988-89 Sooner coaching staff (l-r Mike Anderson, my dad Jim Kerwin, Mike Mims, and the legendary Billy Tubbs

The 1989 OU Sooner basketball team featured two college basketball superstars in seniors Stacey King and Mookie Blaylock (both would be 1st round NBA draft choices) and continued to race up and down the floor at a record-setting pace much like the preceding teams did throughout the mid to late 80’s.  The 1989 Sooners won another Big 8 regular season title that season, and finished the regular season 27-4, and lost in the finals of the Big 8 Conference tournament to end up at 29-5 heading into the NCAA tourney.  They were a #1 seed in the tournament, but didn’t possess the same chemistry from the season before.  Expected to make a final four run anyway, these Sooners were bounced by a Virginia team featuring Richard Morgan, Bryant Stith, and John Crotty in the sweet 16 by a score of 86-80.  Virginia went on to be destroyed by eventual national champion Michigan two days later when the Wolverines pounded Virginia 102-65.

“And when it’s done, win or lose”

screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-9-11-35-pm

Those Sooners finished the season at 31-6 and I think got the most out of their talent.  Might they have beaten Michigan in the next game and won the national championship?  It’s possible, but Michigan was a very good team who had actually beaten OU on a neutral floor in Hawa’ii at the beginning of the season.

The 1989, #1 ranked Sooners’ run ended too soon.  Led by two great Sooners the team just wasn’t quite the dominating team that it was the year before with Grant, Grace, and Sieger all gone.

“You always did your best, cuz inside you knew…”

I don’t think there was a lack of effort in 1989.  Our small, at times, somewhat overmatched Norman team did its best and marched all the way to the state semi-finals and lost to a team we had beaten twice before.  Maybe the rest of the guys had to go through that particular loss to get where they wanted to go in 1990 (the 1990 NHS team won the state championship and went undefeated… they got rid of a skinny white “chucker” and won it all the very next season!  Lol.)

“That one shining moment you reached for the sky”

Even though the losses really stung at the time what I’ve learned as the years have flown by is that I appreciate the comradery, the friendships, the contests we went into together as a team.  I look back so fondly on those days and those teammates.  The good times and fun wins we had way outweigh the lows and the losses that we suffered through.  Back then every day seemed so long.  The practices were endless.  It seemed like I would be a Norman Tiger forever.  Turning 46 today I realize that those days, to quote “The Boss” – were “gone in the wink of a young girl’s eye.”

“That one shining moment you were willing to try”

Here is the third and final “One Shining Moment” from the 80’s.  A 1989 montage that featured a sweet 16 loss by OU and a NCAA championship by Glenn Robinson, Rumeal Robinson, and the Michigan Wolverines.  Hope you enjoyed my series, and I hope you win your bracket pool and you enjoy your…

“One shining moment…”

As always, thanks for reading.

 

sincerely,

the 80’s

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

“But Time is Short”

“And the road is long”

(Part 2 of my three-part “One Shining Moment” series.  Part 1 was featured here)

NHSbball1988

It was a “Five alarm season” that was put out too early

“In the blinking of an eye, that moment’s gone”

The year 1988 truly went by in the blinking of an eye.  I was a junior at Norman High School in March of that year.  The basketball world in Norman was abuzz with anticipation and expectations.  As early March rolled around our talented Norman High Tiger basketball team was ranked #1 in the state.  We rolled through regionals, then area, and made our first trip to the state tournament in many years as we loaded up the yellow bus and headed to Tulsa with a senior-laden team.  Unfortunately it was a short trip.  As the only junior starter, I played poorly and we lost in the quarterfinals to the #2 ranked Tulsa Rogers Ropers team led by former University of Arkansas and NBA guard Lee Mayberry (now an assistant coach under Mike Anderson at Arkansas).

I played the game with my left hand and wrist wrapped due to a bone fracture that I had sustained the previous day in practice trying to dunk.  That will go down as one of my dumber moves in high school.   I was hyped and thought I was going to get one that day.  I missed the dunk, grabbed the rim which threw me off balance, and landed awkwardly on the ground.  I shot the ball poorly in the game scoring only six points on two three-pointers.  I also guarded Mayberry most of the game that Thursday night, and I like to tell people I “held him to eight points,” and then say “in the first half” in a real low almost whisper.  He finished with 28 (yes, 20 in the second half), and his little brother Chris hit a few big shots in the second half to keep them in it.  We led by nine at half and by six after three, but we couldn’t put the game away and executed poorly down the stretch which included a turnover on my part.  We just didn’t make plays when we needed to.  We should have won the state title that year.  We had size and could score inside with guys like Barrett Mash and James Holt.  We could score from the outside and had two strong, athletic players in Rob Jones and Chad Thrailkill.  We just didn’t get it done that night, and it’s probably the one game I look back on and wish I had another shot at.  Tulsa Rogers went on to win the state title two nights later.

NHSRogers

I hate this article every time I come across it in my scrapbook.

“And when it’s done.  Win or Lose…”

1988_ncaa_mens_division_i_basketball_tournament_logo

Another team that should have won a title that year but didn’t was located in the same town.  The Oklahoma Sooners should have won the national championship in 1988.  It was the 50th anniversary of the Final Four and the event was being played out at Kemper Arena in Kansas City.  The Sooners were only ranked #4 in the country heading to Kansas City where they joined Duke, #2 Arizona, and Big 8 rival Kansas.   The Kansas Jayhawks would win that championship despite having 11 losses (the most of any NCAA champion to date), and are still referred to as “Danny (Manning) and the Miracles.”  The Sooners featured four future NBA players in seniors Ricky Grace and Harvey Grant, and juniors Stacey King and Mookie Blaylock.  My dad told me years later that when the Sooners put up 50 points in the first half and were still only tied with Kansas 50-50, that they were “in some trouble.”

screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-9-06-59-pm

The final regular season stats for an OU team that would finish as natl runner-up at 35-4

“You always did your best, cuz inside you knew…”

I was fortunate to travel with the team that spring to Birmingham, Alabama for the sweet 16 where the Sooners defeated Louisville and then Rollie Massimino and the Villanova Wildcats.  It was thrilling to watch those two games and watch OU make the final four for the first time in the modern era of the tournament.  From there it was onto the Final Four in Kansas City where Arizona awaited led by former NBA players Sean Elliott, Tom Tolbert, and Steve Kerr.  The other semi-final featured Duke led by senior Danny Ferry taking on the aforementioned Kansas Jayhawks.  Many thought that the winner of the Arizona – OU game would also win the national championship.  Both teams were #1 seeds in their respective brackets and came in with a combined five losses.  In an exciting game that was controlled by the Sooners most of the way, OU held on for a 86-78 win setting up a third meeting with the Jayhawks who had dismantled a pretty good but not great Duke team 66-59 in the other much slower paced semi-final.

1342939

The best OU team of all-time: the 35-4 OU Sooners (my dad is on the far left)

“That One Shining moment you reached deep inside.”

The Sooners had defeated the Jayhawks twice already during the season (eight points each in Lawrence and at home).  I was crushed when the Sooners lost that Monday night.  After that 50-50 halftime score, OU (which was not a very deep team and at times only played six guys) seemed to run out of steam scoring only 29 second half points in the 83-79 loss.  Kemper Arena, the site that season of the Final Four, was basically a home court advantage for the Jayhawks as I’d estimate that 75-80% of the crowd was pro-KU.  After the loss I remember walking across the street to the hotel where the KU players and coaches were staying and it was shoulder to shoulder with people celebrating the win.  It was disheartening to say the least, and I and my NHS teammate (shoutout Chad T!) didn’t hang around very long.  But at the same time I also appreciated what a run they made in winning the title that year with 11 losses.

“That One Shining moment you knew you were alive”

I love photographs and the main reason is because you catch that moment forever frozen.  You only look like that one moment for that small window of time.  I look at the team photo above from 1988 and I look at my dad and realize that he’s only two years older in the photo than I am right now.  The players in the prime of their life in 1988 are all right around 50 years old now, but when this photo was taken they formed the best team in college basketball that season.  They were heroes to me.  When they were on, they were unstoppable.  They were alive.  They were the best damn college basketball team that season.  Probably the best I’ve ever seen.

Yes, 1987-88 was a very good year for basketball in Norman, Oklahoma.  Unfortunately it was just a game or two away from being a great one.

Thanks for reading and I hope your team advances (even if it is Kansas).

sincerely,

the 80’s

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Don’t Try to Live Your Life in One Day”

“Don’t go speed your time away.” – Howard Jones

howard2bjones2bdream2binto2baction2b852btour2bprogramme2b002

Pretty sure this look from the mid-80’s has come back in style especially with today’s athletes

People occasionally tell me that they like my writing or that I’ve “missed my calling.”  I appreciate the compliments and sincerity behind their remarks, but the truth is I’ve always been writing.  It’s therapeutic for me in a way.  I don’t think I’ve missed anything at all.  Many people just didn’t know or maybe they missed it, but I’ve always been writing.

From the days of just using a pencil and paper in elementary school to using old-school typewriters through my high school and early college days, and then on to a desktop computer just before I graduated college, and now I write using my fancy MacBook Air (I feel like such a hipster sitting in Starbuck’s drinking my $5 latte, and banging away on my laptop with all of the other millennial’s in the place.  All I’m really missing are a few tats and maybe a beard).

I wrote for my college newspaper at St. Gregory’s College in Shawnee, Oklahoma.  I wrote a few high school football game free-lance pieces for a local newspaper in Tahlequah, Oklahoma while I was attending Northeastern State University.  I wrote silly made up articles to make people laugh, to make me laugh.

“Time will wear away the stone.  Gets the hereditary bone”

I can remember as far back as elementary school when I wrote a fictitious story called “Who Killed X.R.?”  It was loosely based upon the greatest attempted murder in television prime-time history when the whole country was debating “who shot J.R. Ewing?” on the hit CBS drama “Dallas.”  I cleverly had “X.R.” instead of J.R., and “Sue Fellen” instead of Sue Ellen.  Even my nine-year old brain in 1980 didn’t want to be sued for infringement of intellectual property.  Beyond that I don’t remember much of my cliff-hanger article that I forced my elementary school friends to read.

who-shot-jr

Yep, this was a BIG deal in 1980

I wrote silly “articles” over the years to make people laugh notably making fun of one coach’s retirement, and another coach’s poor coaching that assuredly cost me millions on a sure-fire NBA career (I was barely good enough to play NAIA basketball).

NSU cans Hayes

P.1 of an article I wrote when my former NSU coach announced his retirement.  

I wrote articles about my friends and teammates.  I wrote articles about my family particularly about my dad with one being his fictitious quest to become the third member of his beloved musical idols – The Righteous Brothers.  The other article was after his 100th win as a major college coach and about how he should be bringing multi national championships to the tiny community of Macomb, Illinois when he coached at Western Illinois University (WIU winning a basketball national championship is about as improbable as me playing in the NBA).

“Raise a glass enjoy the scenery.  Pretend the water is champagne”

I wrote on blogs that were so over-the-top pro-University of Arkansas and pro-University of Oklahoma athletics that they were just ridiculous.  I took the term “homer” to another level by implying that the universities had the best coaches and players in the world and the only way they ever lost was strictly due to fluke accidents or poor refereeing.  The posts dripped with satire and an unwavering loyalty towards the respective programs and teams.

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-08 at 8.41.58 PM

One of my favorites on former Razorback QB Ryan Mallett from 2009

Hell I even wrote 8 or 10 posts on one blog under the pen name of “Alan Greenpants,” an alter ego to Alan Greenspan the former Fed Chairman.  The whole mission of that blog was to make fun of Alan’s successor Ben Bernanke.  I, errr, Alan Greenpants blamed poor Ben in an open letter every week for anything and everything that went wrong in society and with the economy even blaming him for the break up of the original lineup of Van Halen back in 1985.  The only thing Alan even remotely appreciated about Ben was Ben’s cool beard (which in retrospect, Ben was way ahead of the beard craze when he was rocking his back in 2006).

I’ve always thought that if my writing entertained myself then there was someone else that would be entertained and for the most part that has held true.

BenBernanke

(“Alan Greenpants” introducing himself to Ben Bernanke in the very first post.  I still appreciate the caption of the picture above.)  

Thinking back to my earliest memory of writing, I was reminded recently of when I was probably 10 or 11 and lived in Seminole, Oklahoma.  I used to sneak out of my bed (I probably had a 9 or 9:30 bedtime) and into the bathroom that was located within earshot of the living room.  My parents would watch the news most nights in the living room so I would carry with me a piece of paper and a pencil into the pitch black bathroom and frantically write down sports scores and sports news as I listened intently from about 10:20-10:25 every night.  The next day I would “produce” my own hand written sports news on basic lined notebook paper for my parents.  I thought it was very cool.

This went on for a week, maybe two.  Then one night I heard my mom coming down the hall.  I didn’t have time to dart across the hall to my bedroom so I quickly jumped behind the shower curtain in the bathtub with my paper and pencil in hand, and prayed she wouldn’t see me or notice I was not in my bed.  A few seconds later… “Kyle!”  I came out of the bathroom slightly embarrassed, and pretty sure I received a quick whack to the backside right then.  My days of a self-produced sports newspaper had come to an end and the “newspaper” was quickly put out of business.

“The old man said to me, said don’t always take life so seriously”

I don’t know who this old man is, but he’s obviously brilliant!  As I’ve grown older I find myself more fascinated with 80’s songs that talk about life, or time, or specific events in time.  Songs about sex and women are a dime a dozen in any decade so I find myself drawn to songs with lyrics that contain a little more meaning like this one by the English musician Howard Jones.  I wasn’t particularly a big fan of his or a fan of this song when it was released in 1985, but like I said with age sometimes appreciation of things you didn’t think twice about creep up on you in unexpected ways – kind of like this post did.

The video for today’s featured song, “Life in One Day” (which only peaked at #19 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100), is an utter mess if you ask me, but Howard does have some great, great 80’s hair for all to admire.  Really his hair is probably the best part of this non-sensical video that is way more annoying than it should be.  Anyway, I still appreciate the sentiment of the lyrics.

“Play the flute, and dance and sing your song”

Thank you Mr. Jones for your wisdom.

And as always, to you the reader, thanks for reading and don’t go speed your time away.

sincerely,

the 80’s

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment