“Shooting at the Walls of Heartache (Bang Bang)”

“I am the warrior” – Patty Smyth of Scandal

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The hair.  The makeup.  The look only Patty Smyth could pull off in 1984.

Another grown man nearly brought me to tears last night and even this morning as I reflected on his true story.  It’s one of those “feel-good” stories that we all need to soak in from time to time amidst the constant barrage of garbage we’re fueled with from media news outlets every day.

Andre Ingram made his debut in the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers last night at the NBA ripe old age of 32.  Andre has been grinding in the minor league of basketball for ten years.  Ten years!  I hate to waiting longer than 10 minutes for my food at a restaurant, and this guy toiled on buses and stayed in cheap motels in outposts like Fort Wayne, Indiana, Erie, Pennsylvania, and Sioux City, Iowa.

The NBA’s developmental league formerly known as the “D League,” but currently called the “G League.”  The “G” is for Gatorade, the current sponsor, and the league is the home to many hooping hopefuls trying to work their way up to a spot in the NBA.  Very few succeed out of the approximately 10-11% that are ever called up to the NBA.  Most of the players in the G League are making less than $27,000 per year, which is a far cry from the average NBA salary of $6.2 million this season.  Hell, teachers in Oklahoma are making more money than G-leaguers and we all know by now they aren’t making near enough money.

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(Photo: Gary A. Vasquez, USA TODAY Sports)

Ten years.  How many of us would have given up on a sports dream if it meant toiling in the minor league system for that long?  Patience and perseverance and sacrifice is what I see when I look at the graying hair of Andre Ingram.  He’s the first to admit there were times when he was discouraged.  Times when he thought this day would never come.  Times when he thought about hanging it up.  Patience and perseverance.  And what kind of wife would support a husband playing a game for that long and all of the travel and nights away from the family?  A wife willing to sacrifice her happiness at times for the dream of her husband.  It’s beautiful really.  Were there fights and arguments at times?  Surely.  Were there tears and anger and disappointment along the road?  There had to be.  They would not be human otherwise.

Still, I got to sit and watch most of the game last night as Ingram not only played, but played well, pouring in 19 points in a Lakers’ loss to Houston.  He made his very first shot (a three-pointer no less), and even received chants of “M-V-P!  M-V-P!” at one point during the game.  It had to feel good to be him in that moment last night.  He’ll get at least one more game in a Laker uniform in their season finale’ tonight against the Clippers.  He may get some more games.  He may never get another into another game.  Either way, I felt good for him last night and for his family.  I was happy for the warrior within him who persevered and never gave up.  Kudos to you, Andre Ingram.

“Yes I am the warrior, and victory is mine”

Ironically enough my Bible reading this morning consisted of a true warrior and his name was David.  Almost everyone has read or heard the story of the handsome youngest son of Jesse who bravely stood up to the nine foot Philistine named Goliath.  David rejected the traditional battle gear and opted for his rod, his sling, and five smooth stones.  It took just one shot to the giant’s head to take him down and turn the momentum of the battle against the Philistines and in favor of the Israelites.

In Malcolm Gladwell’s book titled “David and Goliath:  Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants” Gladwell points out that the victory by David was not necessarily an upset of epic proportions because David possessed the right combination of attributes to actually own the advantage in a non hand to hand combat situation.  He wasn’t weighed down by heavy armor and he obviously was a great shot with a sling and rock.  As a young man who had spent countless days and nights defending his father’s flock of sheep from bears and lions, David was already well equipped with the skills to overcome obstacles and the skills needed for that very meeting with Goliath.

Of course God had also already blessed David and appointed him as the future king to succeed Saul, but God had also prepared him for this moment in history.  David was already a warrior in his heart and mind at this point pleading with King Saul to let him fight Goliath by telling him When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too…(1 Sam 17:34-36)” 

“I don’t want to tame your animal style.  You won’t be caged.  In the call of the wild”

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Today’s featured video is just another ho-hum apocalyptic scene shot in or on top of a warehouse somewhere.  It’s hysterically campy and it makes me laugh thinking that there could be apocalyptic dancing someday which could make this video prophetic.  Video cheesiness aside, this has always been one of my favorite 80’s songs because of Patty Smyth and her vocals and just the rhythm and pace of the song.  Sure the lyrics may be referring to a love affair of some sort, but I like to think that anyone who has persevered through trials and tough times like the aforementioned Andre Ingram or in the ancient days of David, deserves to think of themselves as a warrior.  This song kind of pumps me up.  Sometimes I wish I could walk into a room with intro music.  If so, this would be one of my go-to songs.  If I could only pull off the makeup and the hair as brilliantly as Smyth!

This is Scandal with lead singer Patty Smyth and their 1984 #7 U.S. Billboard Hot 100 hit, “The Warrior”…

Go be a warrior today in whatever you do, and thanks for reading.

Bang, bang.

sincerely,

the 80’s

 

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“Contact is All it Takes”

“To change your life to lose your place in time.” – Van Halen

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(L-R) Michael Anthony, Sammy Hagar, Eddie & Alex Van Halen… in a photo from 1985-ish taken by famed rock photographer Chris Walter.  

Where has February gone?  It was just January wasn’t it?  It feels good to be back on the keyboard and banging out this appropriate post for February featuring my all-time favorite band.

It was Richard Gere’s character Edward Lewis in the movie “Pretty Woman” who said, “Impossible relationships.  My special gift is impossible relationships.”  Well, Edward Lewis doesn’t have the market cornered in impossible relationships.  Most of us, at one time or another, have been in an impossible relationship.  Hell, there’s probably a relationship right now that you have in your life that seems impossible whether it be your significant other, a family member, friend, or co-worker.

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An all-time great movie.  A movie I saw with a college girlfriend in Shawnee, OK, back in the spring of 1990.

Maybe relationships aren’t impossible, but relationships are difficult at best.  The ones worth fighting for that is.  They’re hard work.  They’re complex.  The highs and lows can be agonizingly frustrating and stunningly beautiful at the same time.  Whether 17 or 77, relationships can be satisfying and unsatisfying on multiple levels and at different stages along the journey.  I’m reminded of this constantly, not only in my own relationships with my spouse, family, and friends, but as the father of a 17-year-old young woman struggling to find her place in this crazy, beautiful, sometimes lonely world.

 

“Another world, some other time.  You lay your sanity on the line”

I still remember being a teenager.  Always searching.  Searching for friends.  Searching for a place to belong.  Tepidly stretching my horizons with one foot out the door and the other firmly planted within the four walls of my parents’ house.   Searching for direction and for life in general… “laying my sanity on the line.”  Searching for love.

Oh love!  How I thought you would never walk in and find me.  Day after day, week after week, you denied yourself from me within my peer group.  Oh there were glimpses and flickers of it throughout junior high and high school.  I still remember my youthful lusts and desires that only a high school teenage boy possesses.  I remember the names of all the pretty girls I was friends with.  But, oh the daily agony of walking around the halls and campus of high school as the only person without a love of his own!  That’s what it felt like sometimes.  Lonely.  Where was my girl?  Where was my cheerleader?  What was I missing out on that everyone else seemed to have?  Discouragement and disappointment popped up along the way eroding away my confidence and self-esteem.

“Nothing feels the same.  All your dreams are strange”

There’s very little of a “long view” when it comes to being a teenager unfortunately.  I’m not saying there are no teenagers that think very far into the future.  There are, and I’ve met some, but they are in the minority.  Most don’t think past tomorrow or this week or maybe past their next English test or their next birthday.  Just think about birthdays for a moment, and the milestones they represent – 13 (you’re a teenager! or the Bar Mitzvah celebration in Jewish traditions), 15 (most can get a driver’s permit!), 16 (you can get your driver’s license – freedom!), 18 (you are of legal age for many things like joining the military, voting, and smoking – smoke up Johnny!).

It’s just hard when you’re a teenager.  It’s hard to think about all the potential for that special love and those fulfilling relationships when you’re older and in your 20’s or 30’s or even later (gasp)!  It’s almost an un-comprehensible thought when you’re young to have to wait that long.  But now being in my 40’s, I’ve long realized that those trying teenage years were just a speck of dust in my life.  There were fun and sad and beautiful moments during those growing years, but they didn’t define me all these years later.

My wife is currently teaching a life group at our church all on relationships.  It’s based on author Danny Silk’s book “Keep Your Love On.”  It’s four weeks of soul-searching, pride-crushing, set-your-ego-aside boot camp for strengthening relationships.  All kinds of relationships – spouses, friends, family, co-workers.  It’s applicable for anyone.  She’s been teaching these works for years.  I even wrote about it briefly in a 2016 post dedicated to my wife.

My wife is totally crushing it by the way.  She knows that book forward and backwards.  Does it mean she has relationships mastered?  Hardly.  She’ll be the first to tell you that knowing this information might make it even more difficult, because you know what you’re supposed to be doing, but still sometimes you still mess up.  Like I said before – relationships can be agonizingly frustrating, and let’s add messy to that as well.

Point in case – the picture at the beginning of this post.  You have the always complex brotherly relationship of the two Van Halen brothers.  Virtuoso musical talents are handed out to very few people in this world, but they were handed to the brothers (more so to young Edward, who is considered to be one of the greatest guitar players ever).  Then there’s the new lead singer that had to come in and develop relationships with these brothers and the bass player, Michael Anthony.  Anthony survived both lead singers only to find himself on the outs years ago when Eddie’s son Wolfgang Van Halen was old enough to be in the band and he took over bass duties.  These guys had their share of joy and happiness and unbelievable success, but they’ve also had bitterness and jealousy and destructiveness through the years.  Bands are a lot like families.  There are good times and bad times and sometimes relationships that just don’t work out.

“Familiar faces, familiar sights.  Reach back remember with all your might.”

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These familiar faces are from March of 1986 or thereabouts and they were at the beginnings of new relationship dynamics within the band.  The Van Halen album “5150” was released just before my 15th birthday that year, and it was magical.  I might be unceremoniously ripped of my Van Halen card for spewing such blasphemy, but at one time I considered it my favorite and the best Van Halen album ever.  As I’ve aged though (and grown wiser) I still consider it a top 3 album along with “Van Halen,” and “1984.”

It was the first (and best) Van Halen album with then new lead singer Sammy Hagar.  However, you will find that some Van Halen fans refuse to even recognize this time during Van Halen’s existence.  It’s as if they stopped being Van Halen once original lead singer David Lee Roth exited the picture as Van Halen’s original frontman, and they transformed into a softer, poppier “Van Hagar” instead.

But in 1986, the keyboard was playing a bigger and bigger role in pop music in general and with Eddie experimenting on keys and Sammy stepping in to sing lead and also providing some solid guitar playing himself Van Halen was further transformed into a pop powerhouse in the mid 80’s.

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Who didn’t have a sweet keyboard in the 80’s I ask!

“Love Walks In” was released as a single in July 1986.  I vividly remember the hot, humid, July heat of Oklahoma – mowing the lawn, sweat pouring down the face of a six-foot, barely 140 pound sophomore listening to my Sony Walkman blast the sweet sounds of the reinvented Van Halen into my eardrums.  Listening.  Searching.  Secretly wishing and waiting for love to walk in –  baby, pull the string…

May all of your relationships be built on a solid foundation of unconditional love and if you need it, may the right love come walkin’ in for you.

sincerely,

the 80’s

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“If I Could Turn Back Time”

“If I could find a way.” – Cher

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In July of 1989 I was barely two months out of Norman High School and was preparing for college life.  I had signed a letter of intent months earlier to play basketball for Coach Don Sumner and St. Gregory’s College in Shawnee, Oklahoma.

A new chapter was beginning just like it does for every incoming college freshman.  At that time St. Gregory’s was a private two year college with a student population of under 300.  I had twice as many classmates in my senior graduating class at Norman High.

Founded in 1875 by Benedictine monks, St. Gregory’s was a high school for boys until 1965.  St. Gregory’s then became a two-year college before becoming a baccalaureate-conferring university in 1997.  The university began offering graduate classes in 2006.

“I don’t know why I did the things I did.”

I used today’s song as part of a video montage that I put together on VHS at the end of the 1989-90 school year.  I had taken with me to St. Gregory’s the family VHS video camera and spent parts of the school year video taping in and around the co-ed dorms, around campus, and around town.  I took my footage and edited it down to an approximately 10-12 minute “highlight” video, and I used this song as the final piece in the video.

Every time I hear this song, I think of St. Gregory’s without fail.  I think of my life-long friends, many of whom I still stay in contact with.  I think of that VHS video that I spent hours putting together.  I think of running around on frozen ponds, our homemade “music videos,” and the late night dorm parties with cheap beer and wine coolers.  I think of the video game sessions of Techmo Bowl on my Nintendo NES, the flag football and intramural basketball and softball, and the iconic mud whiffle ball game we played.

That made it all the more disheartening when I heard that St. Gregory’s was closing its’ doors at the end of this past semester.  A $12.5MM loan through the USDA had fallen through and the funding needed for a university languishing in the red would not be available to help keep St. Gregory’s open.

Though it remains to be seen what will happen with the campus and buildings, the memories are what every proud St. Gregory’s alumni will cherish and carry on with them.  The friendships and lifelong bonds that were forged at that school will live on forever.

“I know I made you cry, but baby…”

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Also in July of 1989 Cherilyn Sarkisian was hitting the pinnacle of a semi-comeback.  Popular through the 60’s and 70’s with her music, “Cher” found the top 10 again in 1987 with “I Found Someone.”  But it was the summer of 1989 that made most red American males sit up and take notice when the then 43 year old released the video for “If I Could Turn Back Time.”

Filmed aboard the deck of the USS Missouri, Cher showed off her fit body and two identical strategically placed tattoos that could be seen through the backside of her one piece fishnet stocking.  Sailors lined the ship and Cher’s band (including 12 year old son Elijah Blue Allman) performed the song and shot the video.

Whether she knew she had a lifelong anthem or not, I don’t know.  She probably knew.  She’s Cher.  Whatever the case, the song provided the perfect backdrop to an amateur highlight video of a bunch of 18 and 19 year olds having fun at a small two year college in Shawnee, Oklahoma.  Maybe this video and song take you back to a moment in time.  How can it not?

Here is Cher with that age old wish “If I Could Turn Back Time…”

Thanks for reading,

sincerely,

the 80’s / St. Gregory’s alumni 1991

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“While Life Passes Like a Breeze with Only Ourselves to Please”

“We stand alone.” – KiLLeR DWaRfS

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Today’s short post is a story I was reminded of when I recently stumbled across today’s video.

My wife likes to tell the story of a time she was listening to a radio program called “FamilyLife Today” featuring Dennis Rainey and co-host Bob Lepine.  Mr. Rainey is a renowned author and a co-founder of a Christian organization based out of Little Rock called FamilyLife.  The organization is part of the Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) ministry, and is specifically designed around the role of providing a blueprint for what healthy, Godly marriages and families should look like.

During this particular broadcast, Mr. Rainey was recalling a story about one of his daughters and the fact that he didn’t want her to “settle” for, and marry someone that he thought was a  “spiritual midget.”  The term was used to describe someone with very little knowledge or passion for learning the lessons and teachings of the Bible.  My wife relayed this phrase to me excitedly at which point, without really thinking at all, I told her that our daughter is not marrying a midget of any kind, spiritual or otherwise.

Stunned for a minute, but quite amused my wife has told this story many times over the years.  She was even able to relay this story to Dennis himself a few years later at a marriage conference being hosted in Rogers, AR, called “Weekend to Remember.”  I don’t remember what Dennis’ reaction was, but the story has just become something funny that we’ve both laughed about over the years.

“And all this time you wondered if you had a friend.  Hey look, it’s me in the end”

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Being played as a puppet in a video was not new when N’Sync used the trick in 2000.

Long before the boys of N’Sync were being played as puppets in their video “Bye Bye Bye,” there was a little known hair metal band from Ontario Canada with a song and video that featured the group being controlled by a puppet master as well.

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Albeit the choreography lacked in comparison to the boy group, this rock group, fittingly enough for this post, is called the Killer Dwarfs (stylized like this -KiLLeR DWaRfS).  Quite honestly, I’ve listened to, and heard, a lot of music from a lot of different artists in the 80’s, but I’d never heard of these guys until recently.

“But if we could find a way to breath.  Some hope for tomorrow is all we really need.”

While my hope for tomorrow is that my daughter doesn’t marry a spiritual midget, I would probably prefer that she also doesn’t marry a “Killer Dwarf” either.  I actually have no idea about this group.  They may some of the kindest, spiritually filled people in rock and roll so I won’t judge, nor will I judge the small in stature in our society.  The story really just gave me a great reason to offer up this video and song today.

From 1988, enjoy a Cuddly Cola, and the video for “We Stand Alone,” by the KiLLeR DWaRfS

Thanks for reading.

sincerely,

the 80’s

 

 

 

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“Hey Leroy, Did You Hear About That Boy Mike Tyson?”

“I seen him hit this boy, and he hit the boy so hard his head flew off into the eighteenth row.  They had to get his head out of the eighteenth row!” – DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince

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Earlier this week I read the story about boxing legend Mike Tyson’s plan for a 40 acre marijuana multi-purpose resort in California.  Am I surprised?  Not even remotely.  One of the most perplexing and polarizing figures in American sport in the 20th century, Mike Tyson the man is as outlandishly unpredictable outside of the ring as his impenetrable and impregnable boxing style was in the ring during his prime.

In late 1989, I was a freshman basketball player at St. Gregory’s College, a two-year college in Shawnee, Oklahoma.  At that same time, Mike Tyson was the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.  He was the youngest boxer to ever win a heavyweight crown when he won the WBC title at the age of 20 years and four months in 1986, and because of his rare combination of strength and quickness, was thought to be unbeatable by many.

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He was also looked down upon by many as a convict and thug, because of his past criminal activity (Tyson was arrested many times in his teens, and would also later be convicted of rape and spend time in jail missing out on three years of his boxing career).  But regardless of one’s personal view, by late 1989 Mike Tyson was considered by many as the baddest man on the planet.

I had my Nintendo DES gaming system at college along with the video game “Mike Tyson’s Punch Out.”  Mike Tyson had a video game!  You can even play it on your computer now though it’s much tougher using a keyboard for the controls than it is using a game controller, but that should tell you something as to the popularity of Mike Tyson during this time.

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Little Mac v. Mike Tyson for the title (with Mario refereeing)!

To get an idea of Mike’s combativeness and what many of his unpredictable interviews could be like, check out this post-fight video from 2000 with Jim Gray interviewing Mike.  It’s probably one of his most famous.  The dialogue and quotes really pick up at about the 50 second mark…

Mike wanted to eat his children and followed it with a praise be to Allah!  Lol.  You never knew what Mike was thinking or what he would say or do and you still don’t as evidence by his recent announcement.  Still remains to be seen if this new marijuana venture will ever come to fruition though.

“I been training 20 hours a day, lifting big old cars and big bails of hay.”

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Also by late 1989, the west Philadelphia friends DJ Jazzy Jeff (Jeff Townes) and the Fresh Prince (Will Smith) were in their early 20’s and establishing themselves as one of hip-hop’s friendliest and funniest rap duos.

I was first introduced to them by former high school teammate Chad Thrailkill when he played their first hit “Girls Ain’t Nothing But Trouble” for me with his cassette walkman back in 1986.  As a side note, Chad also introduced me to the Dairy Queen Heath Bar Blizzard back around the same time, which has become another staple in my life along with Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince for some 30+ years now.

“I’m rough like a freight train smooth like ice, yo Jeff, straight up, I think I can beat Mike Tyson!”

Most people only partially familiar with the duo will still likely know them from their one of their two biggest hits – “Parents Just Don’t Understand,” a 1988 smash, or “Summertime,” a 1991 top 10 hit.  But back in 1989 when the duo released their third album entitled “And in This Corner…,” the lead single was a tribute to the baddest man on the planet – “Iron” Mike Tyson.  The song was simply titled “I Think I Can Beat Mike Tyson,” and it reached number 58 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Whenever myself or one of my friends was playing “Mike Tyson’s Punch Out,” I would usually pop this cassette in and play it loud if one of us ever made it to a fight against Mike.  It was a funny tribute to whomever was getting ready to fight Tyson, and to also pump them up for the toughest fight in the game.

The accompanying video features cameos by Mike Tyson and his promoter at the time, Don King.  The song also mentions current President Trump who hosted fights at his hotel and casinos in Atlantic City.  Also ironically, 12 years later Will Smith would portray another great boxer, Muhammad Ali in the biopic movie “Ali.”  Maybe it was all the training he did for Mike Tyson that prepared him!

Enjoy the video…

Thanks for your time.

sincerely,

the 80’s

KerwinSGC89 Pretty sure 1989 me could have beaten Mike Tyson!

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“Rising Up, Back on the Street”

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“Did my time, took my chances.” – Survivor

In his 1993 speech at the Espy Awards show on ESPN, former North Carolina State basketball coach, the late Jim Valvano, said that if you laugh, if you think, and if your emotions bring you to tears each day then “that’s a full day… that’s a heck of a day.”

That’s a simplistic but beautiful approach to daily living, and if Jimmy V sets the criteria, then I’ve had a lot of full days recently.  Christmas is over and 2017 is no longer.  Two thousand and eighteen lies before us like a new road leading to unchartered places and stops, ready to form new memories.

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Jimmy V celebrating his NCAA basketball championship with his NC State Wolfpack team and fans 

For myself, the past few months have held difficult decisions, and at times it seems like a street fight is going on inside my head between gangs with names like “stress” and “sleeplessness” and “guilt” and “confusion.”  It’s no wonder that I have a head cold as I sit here and pound on the keys.  The body and mind can only handle so much before it starts its’ own revolt and reminds you who’s really in charge.

“Went the distance, now I’m not gonna stop.  Just a man and his will to survive”

The beauty of this site for myself is that, at times, it acts like a psychiatrist listening to my written pleas, quirky ideas, total randomness, and daily struggles.

I’ve written on here before about my aging parents.  My dad physically struggles, and my mom mentally struggles.  Life is throwing nasty curveballs and 100 mph heat at me everyday.  The decisions I’ve had to make recently deal with real lives and the effects that follow dealing with independence and quality of life for aging parents.

The results are mixed.  They are expected and unexpected.  They are logical and illogical and calming and frustrating all at the same time.  Those aforementioned emotions run the gamut from joy to sadness to anger.  Hard truths can be ugly, uncomfortable, and unfair, yet they must be dealt with and told.  And so we soldier on.

“Don’t lose your grip on the dreams of the past.  You must fight just to keep them alive.”

It’s through these trials and tribulations that I realize how weak the human condition can be (and is) at times.  It harbors a verse in me from 2 Corinthians when Paul writes “For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  What Paul is pointing out is that faith is what ultimately gets us through tough times.

With faith, we must relent to a bigger picture and lean not on our own understanding.  And it’s through this time of complete helplessness and weakness that we eventually become stronger.  It might lead to becoming physically stronger, mentally stronger, spiritually stronger, or all of the above.  It’s a transformation of sorts caused by our weakness during troubles and trying times.  It can make us a better person, more understanding and empathetic.

That is what I am leaning on because if I didn’t I would be trampled by guilt and confusion.  Second-guessing and pure sadness would pummel me like Clubber Lang did to Rocky in their first fight in “Rocky III.”

Maybe I’ve made you think some with this post.  Maybe you’ve even cried thinking about your circumstances or something you’re going through or just went through.  Well, let’s laugh a little bit now so we can have a full day.  That starts with our featured video and song.

“And the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night, and he’s watching us all with the eye of the tiger.”

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I had this album once upon a time

The group Survivor formed in 1978 in Chicago, and had eight Billboard Hot 100 top 40 hits from 1981-1986.  This song was written and released upon Sylvester Stallone’s request for the movie “Rocky III” (he was denied by the band Queen from using “Another One Bites the Dust”) in 1982.  The song shot to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and spent six weeks there less than a year before Jim Valvano would lead his NC State Wolfpack to the national title in basketball in spring of 1983.

The song was featured in the closing credits of the movie, which was also a blockbuster smash and probably my favorite of all the Rocky movies.  It was the fourth-highest grossing movie of 1982 after its’ release at the end of May.

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“I’m gonna bust you up.”

The opening scene for this music video today just makes me smile though.  With original lead singer Dave Bickler leading the way, the five members of Survivor strut down a city street looking like the worst, least intimidating gang of all-time.  These five guys look more suited for a street fight in Will Farrell’s “Anchorman” movie than an actual fight in the real world.

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Bickler is wearing his trademark beret, which doesn’t help their image any.  Don’t get me wrong about berets though!  When the political activist group The Black Panthers wore berets back in the 60’s and 70’s, that was a cool, but intimidating image.  And when Prince sang about a Rasberry one (you know – the kind you find in a second-hand store), that was alright too.  With Bickler though, he seems more suited in his beret to be seated in a park with a paint brush and canvas knocking out a bad-ass fountain scene on a sunny day.

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It’s possible that this stock photo is Dave Bickler today.

Though the video is funny to me, the song is a true 80’s treasure.  It’s about focusing.  It’s about overcoming odds.  It’s about being knocked down but getting back up and choosing to persevere.  It’s why the song has been and is used as a motivational soundtrack.

So as 2018 kicks off, there will be fun times, and emotional times, and tough times ahead that will require us all to rise up and to summon the “The Eye of the Tiger…”

May Survivor give you some energy today to think, cry, and laugh.  And may you have a full day ahead.

sincerely,

the 80’s

 

 

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“We’re No Strangers to Love”

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“You know the rules, and so do I.” – Rick Astley

Every time I hear something about rules I think about a great scene from one of my favorite movies –  “Grease.”  Just before the big race where Leo, the leader of the rival gang The Scorpions, and John Travolta’s character Danny Zuko race for “pinks,” (pinks you punk! Pink slips, ownership papers!) Leo lays down the rules by saying “the rules are… there ain’t no rules.”

So cool, so poetic especially coming from a “greaser.”  But rules are not where I’m going with this post today (I just couldn’t pass up a chance to quote from “Grease”).

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Leo, aka “Craterface”

“Never gonna let you down.”

Where could I possibly be going with a Rick Astley song today?  I’m not going to “rick-roll” you, but I am going to be a little reflective, maybe even a little insightful.

Besides being a famous lyric from the 1987 Astley song, it’s also a line in a beautiful praise and worship song called “King of My Heart” by John Mark McMillan.  The line goes “You’re never gonna let, never gonna let me down.”  That particular lyric is repeated numerous times to close out the song.

Such an easy sentence.  Such a hard reality.  Truth is we are let down every day.  We are let down by friends, by family, by co-workers.  The world disappoints us.  We become accustomed to being let down.  It’s easy to become cynical and jaded.  We are not even surprised anymore.  Maybe shocked or angry or frustrated, but not really surprised.  We almost sit around waiting for the next proverbial shoe to drop.  Being let down and letting down others is part of our flesh.  It’s part of the course fabric of this life on earth.

The lyric in the song obviously refers to a higher being.  A God, a Jesus that many of us worship, myself included.  But try telling that line to a grieving mother who loses a child in a car accident or watches him slowly waste away to cancer.  Tell that to someone who loses a loved one in a senseless shooting at a concert or a small baptist church.  Tell that to a son or daughter that has to watch an aging parent slowly lose their mind to dementia.  “You’re never going to let me down” is not easy to accept, nor should it be.

We were given emotions and inquisitive minds to grieve and to ask why, to ask how.  More questions than answers is what we’re left with I’m afraid.  There are answers.  There are answers we don’t want to hear.  There are answers we don’t understand.  There are answers that require a great deal of faith.  We all have to make our own decisions regarding those answers.

These life occurrences beat us down.  They wear us out, but the human spirit fights back.  We persevere and we move on.  We have to move on in faith, because what other choice do we have?  We move on in faith that someday we’ll have a better understanding.  We move on in faith that someday we will be reunited with loved ones.  We move on in faith that the world will become a better place.

Life is funny and rewarding and beautiful.  And life is tough sometimes.  Whatever the situation though – whether you’re in a dark tunnel right now, coming out of one, or on the verge of going into one, just know that someone else has been in your situation too.  Someone else may be in that same dark tunnel with you right now, but you just can’t see them.  The darkness may seem cold and lonely, but it’s really just the absence of light.  Bring with you a light in those tough times be it a friend, a family member, or even a complete stranger who knows the way.  And during that time try as hard as you can to muster some faith and believe “You’re never gonna let, you’re never gonna let me down.”

“Never gonna say goodbye, never gonna tell a lie and hurt you.”

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One of the reasons I chose today’s song and video is because it helps lighten the mood.  Life’s difficulties are not to be dwelt upon constantly and carried around like a sack of bricks.  That will eventually just crush you.  Put that sack down for a minute and enjoy the mindless beat and dance moves in today’s video.  It has to put a smile on your face.  It does for me.

This song went all the way to #1 on the charts in 25 countries!  It was a 1988 world-wide smash for Rick Astley, whom I thought was a smooth, soulful brother when I first heard him on the radio.  I was surprised to find that the rich, smooth, baritone voice belonged to a pale-white, red-headed singer hailing from Lancashire, England.

Blessed with a cool voice and obviously a fairly good sense of humor, the video features three changes of scenery and clothes so I would assume the video was probably shot in a day.  He sports a cool trench coat at night in one scene (top picture), a suit jacket look that would fit nicely on a yacht in another, and a denim on denim look that was so  totally 80’s.

While Rick was dominating the charts in 1988, this was my look circa 1988 at Norman High School.

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Look at that dark wavy 1988 hair and those guns!

Thanks for your time,

sincerely the 80’s

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“Darkness Falls Across the Land”

“The midnight hour is close at hand.” – Vincent Price

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The one and only Vincent Price 1911-1993

Just last week a co-worker of mine showed me the picture above and asked “do you know who this is?”  Do I know who this is.  Child, please.  After I quickly identified the man as one Vincent Price, he asked “how did you know that?”  I knew that mostly because of today’s featured video and song, but Vincent Price wasn’t some one-time novelty wonder. 

He was the definition of horror for a generation, albeit a generation older than mine.  Blessed with an epic, eery voice, Price died in 1993, but not before appearing in over 100 films – many of them in the horror genre, and lending his talents doing voice-over work.  But for those of us that grew up in the 80’s, he may have been best known as the spooky narrator closing out this Michael Jackson classic.

“It’s close to midnight and something evil’s lurking in the dark.” – Michael Jackson

Day late, dollar short.  Isn’t that the saying?  This post was supposed to be pre-Halloween, but the best laid plans, right?

Halloween is my daughter’s favorite holiday.  She’s always loved it.  She loves the weather (cool, but not cold) with the beautiful falling, changing leaves.  She loves an outdoor fire on a chilly night.  She loves strange, mythical creatures, and fog.  She loves to dress up.  And she loves this song.

“You try to scream, but terror takes the sound before you make it.”

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Speaking of terror, I was terrorizing children as a crazy clown-child in the 70’s.  Pretty sure I was the original “Pennywise.”

There’s something about creepy clowns, mutilated zombies, and mythological creatures of the night that many of us like.  Some of us like to be scared.   It’s that rush of adrenaline, that feeling of being alive in the moment that many people love this time of year.  For some, it’s just the opportunity to dress up, to pretend, to be someone they’re not.  Others will be thrilled to provide a laugh for others by looking ridiculous for a day.  For others, it’s just about the candy, and how much they can accumulate going from house to house.

I’ve always dressed up through the years.  When I was young it was about the candy.  Now, it’s just about having a little fun, passing candy out to the neighborhood children, and maybe making someone smile for a moment or two.  It has nothing to do with celebrating a holiday many feel is “the devil’s holiday.”  Many hold to this secular view of the holiday though others will tell you it originated from early Celtic harvest festivals and that the holiday itself was Christianized.

Whatever the case, it’s one night a year that still brings people out within your community that you might not see on a regular basis.  It’s a chance to converse and laugh and connect with others.  It’s an opportunity for church congregations to gather as well for a “harvest festival” or “trunk or treating.”  It’s a holiday that the young and old can celebrate.

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Once a killer clown, now I’m just the Doctor

“You know it’s thriller, thriller night.  You’re fighting for your life inside a killer thriller tonight.”

Last year I featured one of my favorite 80’s movies and soundtracks in a piece featuring the vampire classic “The Lost Boys”.  This October/early November, I have to feature the best dancing zombie music video of all time!  It was a music video that broke the classic mold, and forever changed the standards in the music video industry.

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A superstar with dancing zombies… 1983 didn’t get any better!

I don’t get tired of this song.  Mostly because I don’t listen to it much throughout the year, but as Halloween approaches it ends up more and more on my playlist.

The song peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in early 2013 and was Jackson’s seventh and final top 10 single from the album of the same name.  Strangely, the video actually premiered on MTV in early December of 1983 and not around Halloween when you’d expect it.  Therefore, I don’t feel too bad about posting it here in early November.  Here is the mini-movie/music video directed by John Landis.

I hope you had a great Halloween… and remember no mere mortal can resist the evil of the Thriller.

sincerely,

the 80’s

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“Might As Well Go for a Soda”

“Nobody hurts and nobody cries.” – Kim Mitchell

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Let’s just call today’s piece for what it is – a semi-tribute to a singer I had never even heard of until about a month ago.  It’s a rabbit-hole-fluff sort of piece.  If you were looking for deep, or thought-provoking, or inspirational, you won’t find it here today.  Instead, you’re getting 800 words about an artist you’ve probably never heard of unless you happened to live in Canada at some point in your life.

I’ve listened to a lot of 80’s music, and still do to this day.  I know a lot about various bands and artists and their songs.  I’ve probably heard and would recognize any top 20 hit from the decade.  But occasionally a song comes on that makes me stop for a second and go “whaaat… who is that?… I don’t think I’ve ever heard this song.”

That usually leads to me turning the station and never wanting to hear the song again.  It typically occurs with songs that might have cracked the charts in the U.S., but never climbed into mainstream play on the local radio stations.

This occurred to me again the other day with a song that made me stop and go “who is this guy, and what is he singing about?  Soda?”  It’s rare when any 80’s song or lyric makes me laugh or do a double take, but that’s just what a Canadian singer with terrible 80’s hair did to me.

“Might as well go for a soda.  It’s better than slander, it’s better than lies.”

The singer’s name is Kim Mitchell and the song is a rare gem called “Go For Soda.”

The tune is actually pretty catchy, and during the 80’s apparently served as an anti-drinking and driving anthem endorsed by MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving).  It has been featured in an advertising campaign for Mr. Pibb, and been featured in the hit 80’s TV show “Miami Vice” (if you have any desire, it plays through the first two minutes of this episode from season two called “Buddies”).

I will warn you that the chorus has the potential to get stuck in your head.  So if you’re like me, and inclined to occasionally wake up at two in the morning with a chorus of a song running through your head, this is a definite candidate for that!

When you watch the video at the end of this piece you’ll notice Kim jumping on an old school remote control for the television.  I love that part of the video because it reminds me of the box I used to have in my bedroom in the mid to late 80’s only I had the other variation which instead of buttons had a slider to switch between channels.

The box with the buttons or slider plugged directly into a cable box by the tv with a long cord so you could actually change channels from your chair or bed or couch as long as the cord was long enough.

I vividly remember laying in bed at night with that cable box and flipping between the 30 or 40 channels that were offered with that “remote.”  It was the early days of MTV and the later years for “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson.  Unfortunately, there was no on/off button so I still had to get up to turn the tv off.  What an inconvenience!

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Besides being an adorable picture of my sister and our black poodle Duke taken on my bed in my house in Norman, OK, you can see the old school remote control to my old black and white tv.

“Might as well go for a soda.  Nobody drowns and nobody dies”

Mitchell garnered his first bit of musical popularity as the lead singer of a Canadian group called Max Webster that enjoyed modest success across Canada.  He opted for a solo career in the early 80’s.

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Max Webster

So when I heard “Go For Soda,” I also thought to myself that I hope this song has an awesomely 80’s video somewhere.  And, I couldn’t have been more pleased when it popped right up upon my search for it.  It’s one of those videos that is so bad, I wanted to watch it again a few more times.  Now, get yourself ready to “rawk” with Kim Mitchell and “Go For Soda”…

Thanks for the rabbit-hole indulgence today and I hope you listen to some more Kim Mitchell.  Try “Patio Lanterns,” “Rock N’ Roll Duty,” or “Lager & Ale” for a few more of my favorites of his.

And kids, stay away from soda.  A can of coke has 39 grams of sugar!  That stuff cleans corroded battery terminals, so it can probably do the same to you!

sincerely,

the 80’s

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“Well I Won’t Back Down”

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R.I.P. Tom

“No I won’t back down” – Tom Petty

I’m angry this morning.

I’m angry with Mother Nature and her destructive children – Harvey, Irma, and Maria.  They’ve caused uncountable damage, and worst of all they’ve taken lives.

I’m angry with so-called “leaders.”  Not only in our country but around the world.  Quit pointing fingers unless you’re looking in a mirror.

I’m angry with entertainers in general, but particularly those in the NFL right now.  You’re a well-paid entertainer.  I don’t care if you peacefully protest.  Just don’t do it during the national anthem.

I’m angry that death took another rock legend at only 66 years of age.

I’m angry at a random madman who killed 59 people in Las Vegas, wounded many more, and affected thousands more who are now trying to pick up the pieces to a life that will never be the same because of the unimaginable loss of a loved one.

“And I’ll keep this world from draggin’ me down.  Gonna stand my ground”

I’m not staying angry though.  The human spirit always rises.  People persevere and they carry on, but sometimes we just need a little lift.  A pick-me-up of sorts.

Ironically, those same well-paid entertainers are found on this end of the spectrum as well.

See:  NFL player JJ Watt of the Houston Texans who raised over $37 million for the victims of Hurricane Harvey.

 

See also:  NFL player Deshaun Watson giving his first NFL game check (estimated at over $29,000) to three cafeteria workers for his Houston Texans football team.  All three had lost their homes due to flooding.

 

See also:  random videos of collegiate walk-on football players being awarded scholarships at the beginning of football season

 

Or how about Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney and this video after he invited special needs football player and hero Jake Pratt to a Clemson home game.

 

How about the story on the new tradition at the University of Iowa home football games?  The University of Iowa Children’s Hospital sits across the street from Kinnick stadium.  For every deranged idiot out there intent on inflicting harm, there are 70,000 fans in a stadium in a city in Iowa waving to children in a cancer facility who value life and want just one more day or week or year or more to live out their lives.

 

I’m focusing on the good and the kind.  I’m improving my mood, and I hope your mood improved too.  Maybe you even were a little teary-eyed.  I was, but these acts of kindness and compassion are what makes disasters and unthinkable acts of hate easier to take.

It’s not easy and it never will be, but for now all I can do is send out a big screw-you to the dead shooter in Las Vegas.  A screw you to the extremist filled with hate.  A screw you to mother nature and the disasters that take lives.  And a screw you to death.

“Well I know what’s right.  I got just one life”

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His one life lasted 66 years, and it was a brilliant one.  Like so many of his era, Petty was inspired by Elvis and by seeing The Beatles perform on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1964.  Petty had 15 top 40 Billboard Hot 100 songs including this one which I’ve always loved for its’ positive, upbeat message.  “I Won’t Back Down” was released in April 1989 and has been an anthem for political campaigns, entertainers, and sports teams.  With a video ironically featuring one-half of The Beatles (George Harrison and Ringo Starr), and also ELO’s Jeff Lynne, the song hit #12 on the Billboard Hot 100.

No matter your current situation or your current outlook, do Tom Petty a solid and put on this song.  Hold your head high, walk tall, and be proud of who you are and where you’re from.  Don’t let the world beat you down, and don’t compromise your principles.  Give love and give thanks to God.  Be who you were created to be.  And most of all, stand your ground, and don’t back down.

“Hey, baby, there ain’t no easy way out”

Thanks for reading, and treat yourself to some Tom Petty at some point this week.

sincerely,

the 80’s

 

 

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