“I Hope When I Get Old, I Don’t Sit Around Thinking About It”

“But I probably will.”  – Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen in his music video for "Glory Days," 1984. | Bruce  springsteen the boss, Bruce springsteen, Bruce springsteen glory days

There’s a wonderful scene in the comedy series “The Office” where Ed Helms’ character, Andy Bernard, says that he wishes there was a way to know you’re actually in the “good ole days” before you leave them.  The timing of this particular scene was perfect and delivered beautifully by Helms.  It was one of the final episodes of the show, and the poignancy of the moment is just so very relatable.

Glory days yeah they’ll pass you byGlory days in the wink of a young girl’s eye

High school athletics does go by that quickly.  When you’re young and in the moment, it seems almost preposterous that it could all actually end one day.  I recall the days of two and three hour basketball practices that seemed like two and three days.  The cold winter nights and the days between games were practically weeks apart.  Whenever another week of school started on Monday morning, Friday night mine as well have been light years away.  Now in my 50’s, those days really do seem like light years ago.

Last night, I was in Harrah, Oklahoma for a high school football game.  There is always something special about a small town high school football game, but this one wasn’t an ordinary Friday night clash.  It was a state quarterfinal playoff matchup between two teams from the lowest class of Oklahoma eleven man football – Class A.  Sixty teams started the season, thirty-two of them advanced to the playoffs, but by this particular Friday night, those 32 had been whittled down to eight.  Evans Field in Harrah provided the neutral site setting featuring the 12-0 Gore Pirates taking on the 10-1 Crescent Tigers with a trip to the semi-finals on the line.

I have an aunt and her two adult children (my two younger cousins) who hail from the small town of Gore in eastern Oklahoma.  Known statewide as the birthplace of 1969 Heisman Trophy winner Steve Owens, the 2020 census shows the population at just under 1,000 people.  There was a decent chance that all 1,000 Gore residents were in Harrah on Friday night.  My cousin Kasey joked that if you ever wanted to start robbing houses in Gore, tonight was the perfect time, because even the Gore police were in Harrah.  The stadium capacity shows 2,700, and there appears to be equal amount of seating on both sides of the field, but on the side where the Gore fans sat, it was packed so do the math.

I arrived just minutes before kickoff and luckily, I found an open solo spot on the front row in front of my cousin Kim and her husband Ryan.  My Uncle Rick, my cousin Kasey and his wife Mary, and Gore “superfan” (aka Mama Duke) – my aunt Sharon (Kim and Kasey’s mother) sat another row behind Ryan and Kim.  We were all there to watch the Gore Pirates and in particular Kasey and Mary’s son, and Sharon’s grandson, Jackson Duke, a star athlete on the Gore Pirates.  I say athlete because the coaching staff uses him like a Swiss Army Knife.  He plays offense.  He plays defense.  He returns kickoffs and punts.  Heck, the kid is even the long snapper.  I did not see him with a headset on calling plays but, hey there’s still time this season.  But when you play on a small school football team, you HAVE to have kids like Jackson Duke.  And if you have enough players like that who can excel on both sides of the ball then you have a good chance of having a successful team and season.

“I had a friend was a big baseball playerBack in high schoolHe could throw that speedball by youMake you look like a fool boy.”

Gore Crescent

Jackson Duke photo credits to JIM WEBER/Special to the (Muskogee) Phoenix

Nothing quite captures a small town’s imagination, a town’s pride, and unites people like a bunch of 16, 17 & 18 year old’s with your hometown printed across their chests.  It’s a brilliant part of our psyche.  We all want to be part of something special, something historical.  People don’t care about political views or religious ideologies at high school football games.  They don’t care about how much money you have or how much education you’ve received.  Hundreds of people gather at the intersection of pride and unity dressed in the same colors and they only care about if their team can score more points than the other team.

Part of the beauty of small town football Friday nights will always belong to the fans.  Men shouting at referees for holding calls fifty yards away from the action (high school football fans have eyes like hawks apparently).  Plenty of “let’s go boys!” abounded throughout the comfortable mid-40’s evening.  There was a man behind me shouting “He was inbounds!” about a play some 60 or 70 yards away on the opposite site of the field where the play actually finished.  Once again – fans with eyes like hawks.  “I’m Journey’s grandma!” was randomly shouted by the proud grandma of Junior CB/WR Journey Shells to no one in particular and to everyone within earshot as she sauntered by me towards the end of the first quarter.

Saw him the other night at this roadside barI was walking in, he was walking out.

Approximately half the team is made up of seniors – 18 (including Jackson) to be exact.  Eighteen young men that will forever be bound together by a magical run that has them further in the playoffs and given them more wins than any Gore football team in history.  Will it end in a state championship?  It is certainly a possibility (25% if my math is correct), and that is ultimately the goal.  But in 10, 20, 30 years it won’t really matter as much.  These eyes of a 50 year old certainly see it differently than those of the 17 and 18 year olds running on green and white testosterone right now.  This moment in time though, these moments in time, are really all about the journey.  The destination is the state championship in two weeks on the campus of UCO in Edmond, but the journey is really the special part.  It’s what these young men will recollect to their kids and grandkids and to each other one day.  They’ll laugh and talk about touchdowns and interceptions and tackles and celebrations with their teammates and friends all under bright floodlights on patches of grass in Gore and in other small communities like Pocola and Colcord and Mounds.  They’ll recall their parents and siblings and relatives and friends ringing cowbells and roaring in unison after every score and every defensive stop.  They’ll talk about “Mama Duke” and their grandparents and uncles and aunts, and how an entire community of 1,000 strong was enamored with and cheered them on week after week.  It’s ultimately about the brotherhood and the friendships that develop and are fortified with every snap, with every play, with every game that create lifetime memories, and will bond these young men and coaches together forever regardless of the wins and losses.

Last night Jackson Duke was responsible for two interceptions (one of which was a “pick-six” – an interception returned for a touchdown), a half-back pass for a touchdown, a couple of nice kickoff returns, and numerous tackles.  He flexed after big hits on defense.  He cooly and casually accepted congratulations for the touchdowns he was part of, and he helped to lead the Gore Pirates to a 69-13 win over Crescent (Gore scored the final 49 points to finish the game after leading just 20-13 early in the 2nd quarter).

The Pirates will face another 13-0 team next Friday in the state semi-finals – the Hominy Bucs, and if they can take down Hominy they’ll face another undefeated team in the finals (the other semi-final matchup features two more undefeated teams in Colcord and Fairview).

Three teams will be disappointed over the next two weeks leaving a sole undefeated champion.  But until the season comes to an end for the Gore Pirates (hopefully in two weeks in Edmond), I hope the fans and the coaches and particularly the players enjoy what’s left of this magical journey.  I want them to enjoy the limelight, to enjoy the signs displayed by the local businesses, to enjoy the pats on the back, the recognition from their peers and from the town, to continue being good role models for future Gore Pirates, and I want them to be present in the moment.  Yes, focus on the task at hand (beating Hominy), but also realize that this Gore Pirates football team of 2022 is in “the good ole days” right now.  I certainly do.

Yeah, just sitting back trying to recaptureA little of the glory of, well time slips awayAnd leaves you with nothing mister butBoring stories of

The lyrics to the first verse of The Boss’ #5 hit from the summer of 1985, “Glory Days” are actually autobiographical.  It’s a recount of a chance encounter Springsteen had with former Little League baseball teammate Joe DePugh in the summer of 1973.

This song has always been one of my top three favorite Springsteen songs.  I think it’s just because of the nostalgic feeling that the song creates within me the older I get, but I even recall it resonating with me as a 14 year old when it was released in 1985.  I’ve tried to feature it in different posts for years, but I could never get the post or a topic for it out of the “drafts” phase.  Finally, I did.  It made it into a published post.  All it took was inspiration from a bunch of 17 and 18 year olds and the community that has rallied behind them.  Thank you Jackson and thank you Gore Pirates.    

And as always, thanks for reading.



Go Pirates!

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“Why don’t you get out of the nation” – Earnest Jackson featuring Sugar Daddy and the Gumbo Roux

My day job is as a banker. Writing is only a moonlighting gig when I’m inspired. As a banker, we discuss exciting things like interest rates for loans and deposits. We have fun acronyms like LTV and NIM and DCR. We talk about employment, housing, and costs. Oh, the costs! Costs for purchases. Costs for construction. Costs for developments. Costs, costs, and more costs.

And we also discuss the very present elephant in the room these days – inflation. We discuss inflation as a whole, and as a core number (excluding the volatile food and gas industries). We discuss how inflation might affect our region, our workforce, and our economy in NW Arkansas.

As a banker, I take an interest in these facts and figures and have to stay knowledgeable on financial topics, and so I listen to financial podcasts – many times on my daily commute. One of my go-to’s for many years has been NPR’s “Planet Money,” and that is exactly what inspired this particular post.

I don’t always catch every episode, but the recent two-part podcast (each episode is approximately 25 minutes and linked below) is a great listen. The two episodes combine the topics of inflation and music by featuring a largely-unknown, over-looked singer/songwriter and a song he recorded in 1975. The song had never seen the light of day… until recently.

It’s a fascinating tale which centers around a funky, R&B jam called “Inflation.” It was written and sung by Baton Rouge native Earnest Jackson with a backing band in 1975 called Sugar Daddy and the Gumbo Roux (if that isn’t a name for a R&B/soul band that originated in Baton Rouge during the mid 70’s then I’ll take my Boney M and Love Unlimited Orchestra albums and go home right now). The song was cut as a demo but was never released on an album or as a single. The band, at that time, included a few musicians that would go onto successful music careers and one in particular, who would become a very well known bass player (you’ll have to take a listen to the podcast to learn the identity).

Inflation in 1975 was very close to what it is today (approximately 8-9%), and it prompted Jackson to write the song in one sitting. Rising inflation is the enemy of consumers causing the cost of goods and services to rise much faster than wages. Our Federal Reserve attempts to maintain a healthy rate of inflation (2%) by raising or lowering interest rates to discourage/encourage borrowing and/or spending. Now, this post could get more technical and boring right about now, but I’ll spare you, and instead I’ll post a link to historical interest rates, and just skip ahead to the good stuff.

Earnest (pictured recently above) is the central character of the two-part podcast as the team from “Planet Money” is made aware of the song and begin their process to track down Earnest in an attempt to get the very likable man and his single, “Inflation,” released out into today’s music world. In the process, they try to give Earnest some long overdue fame by getting the song played on a popular local R&B radio station, and they even try to make him a little money if they can only navigate the tricky world of recording contracts, former bandmates, attorneys, and accountants.

As you can deduct from the Youtube video I’ve embedded at the end of this post, the “Planet Money”team was successful (the song is now on streaming platforms as well), but you’ll want to check out the highs and lows they went through in becoming their own music label and in becoming part of the chaotic streaming-dominated music industry today. I highly enjoyed it, and if you have some time you should also take a listen and stream “Inflation,” because in today’s inflationary world we can all use a few extra bucks in our pockets. It seems like Earnest Jackson is well overdue for a few of his own.

“Now people, stop what you’re doing, and listen to what I have to say, cause inflation is in the nation and it’s about to put us all away.”

Let’s hope inflation doesn’t put us all away, but in the meantime let’s keep Earnest trending towards superstardom! I’m doing my part. The word inflation has never sounded so soulful and so good as it does coming out of the mouth of Earnest Jackson. I dare you to listen and not tap your foot and sing along! Do you dig, sugar daddy? You will. You will.

As always, thanks for reading, and thank you Earnest for the part you’re playing even if it is some 47 years later. And let’s all hope inflation gets out of the nation sooner rather than later.


the 80’s (and sometimes the 70’s)

(Postscript: At the time of posting, the song had over 109,000 streams on Spotify since its’ recent release. I’ve personally been responsible for at least 10 of them… and more to come!)

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“Yesterday I Got So Old I Felt Like I Could Die”

“Yesterday I got so old. It made me want to cry.” – The Cure

I hate writing. I hate the random thoughts that come flying at me like jumbled puzzle fragments from an un-winnable Tetris game. Pieces of my life come at 2 a.m. scattered in no particular order… family… work… music… friends… fantasy baseball… house projects… partial ideas that begin the twenty plus blog posts I have still sitting unfinished in the queue. I hate the structuring of sentences and paragraphs, and spell-check. And the editing. Oh, don’t even get me started on the stupid, never-ending editing.

I feel like this is the kind of attitude I would have needed to be a member of The Cure back in the 80’s. I could be wrong, but I felt like they went through phases of light and darkness highlighted by depressing pop love songs.

So I’m taking a shortcut for this post. I’m copying and pasting. I’m mailing this post in. I’m taking a text conversation I had with my cousin Kevin the other day and laying it out so others can enjoy (or skip depending upon your desire). Feel free to indulge into our 80’s culture-related post for another 1000 words or so. It’s an easy follow with easy topics.

Kevin is almost exactly one year older, grew up in Pittsburgh, PA, and now lives in North Carolina. I grew up in Oklahoma and now live in Arkansas. And that’s all you basically need to know except we text often and try to occasionally entertain one another.

Without further ado, here is the first (maybe last) installment of…

Texts with Kevin…

We pick up the ongoing conversation on a Saturday morning with Kevin watching “The Karate Kid”…

Kevin: You remind me of that lower member of Cobra Kai who’s a real loose cannon (Bobby, pictured above).

Kyle: I would have been the loose cannon on your high school crew as an “underclassman”. Your buddies would have been like “yo your cousin is loco, man.”

Kevin: In the end though he was the most moral of the bunch, apologizing for taking out his knee. Coming to the climax, it’s on CMT.

Kyle: Yeah (the redemption of Johnny Lawrence) is basically the whole point of the Cobra Kai series. But that crane kick was an illegal kick. 

Kevin: The real fault ultimately lies in society’s treatment of these young men.

Kyle: I think there was a character in the original full length version that had your same sense of decency. Cutting room floor. 

Kevin: There’s like intense screaming from Cobra Kai the whole time. yeahhhhh alrightttt

Kyle: Time out!!! Alright Johnny!!!

Kevin: see isn’t that “alright johnny!” guy the one who apologized to daniel son before?  now the moral ambiguity is strong

Kyle: Boooooooo (me booing Cobra Kai and totally ignoring Kevin’s question about Bobby)

Kevin: It’s over Johnny yeah you did it!

Kyle: Illegal kick!!!  Winner Lawrence! (from booing Cobra Kai to siding with Johnny Lawrence in one text)

Kevin: You’re alright Laruso! Thanks a lot man (quoting the final scene of Karate Kid between Laruso and Lawrence)

Kyle: That’s script writing in the 80’s. Right up there with Rocky’s speech at the end of “Rocky IV.” 

Kevin: Ohhhh The Goonies is next. What a night of Movies. No more Yankees game for me.

(He’s watching these movies on his laptop)

Kyle: You should buy one of those things called a television one day. 

Kevin: Nahh

Kyle: Watching one screen at a time is so primitive Kevin

Kevin: I’m usually also on Instagram ensuring my pre fontal cortex is further deteriorated

Kyle: Well I feel a little better knowing you’re paying attention to multiple screens at once. Life before cell phones was so boring. 

Kevin: I know. Imagine planning your evening around going to the tv room, turning on the tv to a channel and sitting for an hour watching just that show. 

Kyle: Did you have multiple tv rooms at your house growing up?  I seem to remember an upstairs room where we watched tv but it was just you me and Bree (his younger sister) I think. 

Kevin: Yes, the “3rd Floor.” It was basically an attic that had been converted into a tv room, it was also the only room with air co for a long time. And we had one small tv on the porch.  It sucked though because if you wanted to get food you had to go alllll the way downstairs

Kyle: Mom!  Bring me a sandwich!  Mom!!!

Kevin: Yes exactly. I made Bree go down and get me stuff.

Kyle: How many times did she never come back?  That’s something Kari (my younger sister) would have done. 

Kevin: She came back but with less than I asked for. If I wanted 5 Oreos she’d eat two on the way up

Kyle: (me imitating Bree) It’s all we had left Kevin!

Kevin: The big thing was getting a chipped ham and cheese sub sandwich with ruffles chips piled high and a big glass of coke all the way up without spilling, because you had to keep the door closed to keep the cold air in.  A lot of food was spilled on the landing 

Kyle: (me imitating his parents now) You kids don’t spill anything on the stairs you understand!?

Kevin: The amount of pepsi and coke we consumed as kids was remarkable. It’s amazing I’m not a diabetic

Kyle: Dad used to bring home cokes and hide them. My big thing was trying to find the hidden cokes and then to see how many Ding Dongs I could eat in one night without getting in trouble. 

Kevin: He used to hide them? Why? So your Mom didn’t know?  My Mom would make cookies and they’d be gone in a day. I’d eat them for breakfast.

Kyle: No he hid them so Kari and I wouldn’t drink them all. Actually in retrospect he probably wanted to ensure that he had some for crown and cokes. 

Kevin: Hahaha. We’d go through like 2 x 2 liters in a day. The Kerwins were not blessed with any kind of culinary knowledge

Kyle: Sometimes he hid the ding dongs or twinkies or cup cakes so we wouldn’t eat them all too. 

Kevin: My parents thought corn flakes with banana on top of it was a healthy breakfast

Kyle: Haha. Yeah. Malt-o-meal was our “healthy” breakfast of the 80’s, but I would dump 2 or 3 giant spoonfuls of sugar into it. 

Kevin: I also didn’t have a properly cooked piece of meat until I was a freshman in college. We went to this steak restaurant in NYC after a game, I was like “what is this paradise???”

Oh yeah my Mom was like “we don’t buy that sugared cereal in this house,” but we had a huge sugar dish full of white sugar I’d just cover all cereal with

Kyle: Corn flakes + 6 spoonfuls of sugar = Frosted Flakes!

Kevin: Yeah exactly. I’d layer the sugar in it. It’s amazing I didn’t become a meth addict 

Kyle: My mom just completely caved. My dad tried to trick us into Grape Nuts or Raisin Bran, but Kari and I knew better. “Mom!  We’re out of Cookie Crisp AND Fruity Pebbles!”

Kevin: I’m back on a cereal kick after not eating it for 20 years. Corn Chex drowned in Monk Fruit sugar! I think my Mom did buy Boo Berry once and I got completely cracked out on it

Kyle: Oh I could pound multiple bowls of Count Chocula in one sitting.  I don’t think I’ve had a bowl of cereal in years. Mostly because the “milk” options are too confusing for me.  And I just had to Google “Monk Fruit Sugar.”

Kevin: Yeah its low glycemic, for the aging man’s blood sugar.  There would probably be protests down there if they stocked it – keep your damn hippie ways out of our grocery stores! Straight almond milk here.

Before we even knew what a text was we were Steelers fans in the early 80’s. Kevin is on the right, and I thought he was going to be 7 and a half feet tall.

“Go on, go on, just walk away. Go on, go on, your choice is made.
Go on, go on, and disappear. Go on, go on away from here.”

Because my cousin relates to the angst of Robert Smith in the 80’s or maybe just because he really liked their music, whatever the case, making their debut on this site, here is Smith, Lol Tolhurst, Simon Gallup, Pori Thompson and Boris Williams better known as The Cure with their 1985 hit “In Between Days.”

Enjoy your crazy-haired, dark-dressing, angst-ridden goth pop, Kevin. Do you read me? I dare you to watch this video and not be happy!

As always, thanks for reading, and it’s always straight almond milk here at sincerelythe80s.

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“Too Alarmin’ Now To Talk About”

“Take your pictures down and shake it out.” – Foo Fighters

The wife and I took an overnight trip to Kansas City a few weekends ago. We had tickets for the Dodgers and Royals at Kaufman Stadium. My wife doesn’t want to watch baseball on tv, but she’s always very agreeable to a game in person. It’s the atmosphere. It’s the people-watching. Maybe it’s the $9 beers in souvenir cups. Whatever the combination, we found ourselves, KC hats properly worn, amidst a section of Dodger fans. Hell, a stadium of Dodgers fans wearing Kershaw, Betts, and Turner jerseys. Chants of “Let’s Go Dodgers!” rang early and often throughout a night that was scoreless through six innings thanks to the pitching of L.A.’s Tony Gonsolin and the Royals’ Daniel Lynch. I told my wife before the game that it would be a minor miracle if Lynch survived five innings giving up two or fewer runs. Somehow the holder of an ERA north of five gave up two measly hits to the best team in baseball before being lifted after five scoreless innings. The talent of the Dodgers would ultimately prevail in an 8-3 victory.

Hanging out by the fountains where we almost witnessed a KC fan get into a fight with three Dodgers fans. He wisely walked away.

But whenever the subject of the Kansas City Royals pops up, my all-time favorite Royal comes to mind… Buddy Biancalana! Well actually, in the early to mid 80’s there was one I favored slightly more, and he wasn’t just my favorite Royal, he was arguably my favorite player in baseball at the time.

George Howard Brett.

Tough. Gritty. Emotional. Brett played 21 seasons for the Royals. The Hall of Famer is one of the greatest hitters ever, and also the holder of one the iconic moments in baseball history.

My wife and I walked around the stadium and sauntered into the Royals Hall of Fame located just past the left field bleachers where all of the iconic Royals and newsworthy events through the years can be found. And there it was… in all of it’s glory… the bat.

Home plate umpire Tim McClelland cannot possibly like this photo.

Sunday, July 24, 1983 at the old Yankee stadium in New York City featured a matchup where both the Yankees and Royals were in the thick of the playoff race in their respective divisions. Temperatures were in the low to mid 70’s and Tim McClelland was the home plate umpire that day. Nearly 34,000 were in attendance mostly to cheer on their Yankees who were two games behind Toronto and Baltimore in the old AL East while the opponent Royals were just one game back of the Texas Rangers and Chicago White Sox in the old AL Central.

George Brett was a MVP candidate in the middle of a season that would see him hit .310 with 25 homers and 93 RBI’s. But coming into the 90th game of the season that day Brett was actually hitting over .350 at the time with 19 homers and 60 RBI’s. Those numbers even included a few weeks on the disabled list with a fractured pinky toe that he suffered when he apparently ran into a door jam in his house in an effort to watch good friend Bill Buckner bat on tv.

“Truth or consequence, say it aloud. Use that evidence, race it around.”

The Yankees held a 4-3 lead heading into the 9th thanks to RBI’s from Don Baylor and Dave Winfield. Prior to his final at-bat, Brett was 2-4 and now stood in the batters’ box facing Hall of Fame Yankee pitcher Goose Gossage. Teammate UL Washington was on base when Goose tried to throw a high heater by Brett, who promptly turned on it and hit it over the right field wall. And, well, then it got fun….

A couple of things stand out for me rewatching this video. One is how angry the Royals bench is at the poor bat boy for not getting Brett’s bat back into the dugout at about the 0:49 second mark. You had ONE job! Lol. Second is how well Billy Martin lobbied the umpires during this whole process. Where was Royals’ skipper Dick Howser during the whole time Martin is telling the umpires what should happen? And of course Brett’s manic reaction at being called out. I also didn’t remember that (then Kansas City pitcher) Gaylord Perry apparently took the bat from McClelland down into the tunnel and security and staffers were chasing him into the tunnel.

The Royals obviously appealed the decision to call Brett out. Thankfully then American League President (do the two leagues still have separate presidents?) Lee MacPhail sided with Kansas City citing the “spirit of the restriction” on pine tar on bats was based not on the fear of unfair advantage, but instead on the economics. Any contact with pine tar would discolor the ball, making it unsuitable for play, and requiring that it be discarded and replaced. This increased the home team’s cost of supplying balls for a given game. MacPhail ruled that Brett had not violated the spirit of the rules nor deliberately “altered [the bat] to improve the distance factor.”

The two teams finished the game a few weeks later on August 18th with Dan Quisenberry locking it down for the Royals in the bottom of the 9th officially giving the Royals a 5-4 win. Not surprisingly, Billy Martin and the Yankees played the end of the game “under protest.”

“There goes my hero. Watch him as he goes.”

Heroes come and go, particularly sports heroes when you’re a kid. My 1983 baseball hero, George Brett, was not my 1993 baseball hero, and my 1993 baseball hero was not my 2003 baseball hero and so on. Times and seasons and players change. That’s sports. That’s life. But when your hero is your dad, it’s an entirely different story. That one sticks forever.

The kid lost his dad way too young. I lost mine as a 50 year old in 2021 and it still sucks. I’m probably still oversensitive to stories of men losing fathers, but the kid is only 16. He needs a father more than ever at that age. He’s always wanted to be a drummer even telling comedian Dave Chappelle once that he didn’t skate because he didn’t want to hurt his arm. He wanted to follow in his father’s legendary footsteps.

If you missed the Foo Fighters tribute concert at Wembly Stadium dedicated to their recently deceased drummer Taylor Hawkins, then you missed this stellar performance where Taylor’s 16 years old son, Shane, sat in for a very impressive (borderline tearful) performance for the very fitting Foos’ song from 1997. Check out the Foo Fighters with Shane Hawkins on drums and “My Hero”…

Somewhere amongst the kid’s great hair, flailing arms, and pumping legs, Shane Hawkins is pounding out his hurt and his emptiness and it’s both beautiful and heartbreaking all at the same time.

Here’s to you dear reader, and here’s to your heroes.


the 80’s

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“It Seems Like Yesterday”

“But it was long ago.” – Bob Seger

It sure was, Bob. It sure was.

There are some songs that I never tire of. Songs that cause me to write sentences ending with prepositions. There are songs that cause me to pause, to reflect on events, reflect on friends and families and reflect about places in time. They cause my mind to wander like a never-ending restless night. They cause my breathing to beat in-time to the mid-tempo melodies and rhythms. These songs ease my tension, and these songs somehow fill me with the constant contronyms of happiness and sorrow giving their all in what at times feels like a heavyweight title fight. These are the songs I have no problem turning up every time they come on the radio. I don’t mind putting them on repeat in my headphones while the cursor searches for words on an empty screen.

This is one of those songs.

“We were young and strong. We were running against the wind.”

It was the dawn of a new decade when Seger released this song in the spring of 1980. It was a decade that unknowingly would forever rest within my core. One that would birth this unexplainable thing called a blog nearly 40 years later. I was just a skinny nine-year old kid in 1980 with a shy demeanor, curly brown hair, and just going about my business of being an adolescent growing up in a small town in Oklahoma doing things that other nine year old boys were doing – riding bikes through the woods, playing with Star Wars action figures, collecting baseball cards, and donating quarter after quarter to a company called Namco in support of a yellow dot-digesting sphere. We were busy shooting hoops, fielding ground balls on dusty fields, playing tag on the playground, and praying that P.E. class would include dodgeball that day.

There were no deadlines save the occasional book report. There were no commitments except those games of sport that were waiting for us every afternoon and evening during the summer. I didn’t care who our president was. I didn’t care about inflation or the GDP. I cared if Terry Bradshaw threw a touchdown pass. I cared if my dad’s basketball team won or lost. I cared about building the coolest treehouse ever, and I cared about creating fictional newspapers and making up video games in my head and putting them on paper for my friends. I cared about Billy Joel and Kenny Rogers and Kool and the Gang. I cared about the music then and I still do.

“(Against the wind) watch the young man run.”

In 1980, we were running against the wind, with the wind, in spite of the wind, it made no difference. The wind only mattered on the outdoor basketball courts and hitting golf balls around the neighborhood, and of course when the occasional tornado spun close by (it was Oklahoma after all). The wind was a mere nuisance for us much of the time. We were immortal in 1980.

We were the wind.

“Well those drifter’s days are past me now
I’ve got so much more to think about
Deadlines and commitments
What to leave in, what to leave out.”

“I’m older now, but still running against the wind.”

In April of 1980, Bob Seger was already 35 and had just finished his ELEVENTH studio album when he released this song. It was the second single off of the album of the same name. The song immediately started its’ ascension peaking at #5 in June. Backed by The Silver Bullet Band, the album version features backing vocals by Bob’s pal, the late, great Glenn Frey. The song made a resurgence in 1994 when it was famously used in the Tom Hanks’ classic movie “Forrest Gump,” and its’ subsequent soundtrack.

“My mama always said you have to put the past behind you before you can move on.” – Forrest Gump

I know many Seger fans will choose “Turn the Page” or “Night Moves” or even “Old Time Rock & Roll” as the best song from his extensive catalog, but for my money give me the mellow guitar, the beautiful piano backdrop and Seger’s great lyrics. The song essentially is about growing older and confronting memories of the past and it seems to mean more to me as the years roll on even though I’ve listened to it thousands of times.

“Let the cowboys ride!” (I just wanted to include that lyric because I love it). A former high school cross-country runner, here is Bob Seger and the beautiful “Against the Wind…”

Whether you’re currently running with or against the win, I hope you’re still running. I still am.


the 80’s

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“She’s Got Legs. She Knows How to Use Them.”

“She never begs, she knows how to choose them.” – ZZ Top

A few weeks ago a good friend of mine called me shortly after 5 pm while I was still sitting at my desk in my office and not using my legs at all. He had the good fortune of inheriting some lawn seating tickets to the evening’s concert just down the street from my office, and he asked if I wanted to go. I quickly accepted his offer and I was off to meet him for a concert featuring that “little ol’ band from Texas” known as ZZ Top.

I had never been to a ZZ Top concert, nor do I consider myself a huge ZZ Top fan, so I had very little in the way of expectations. To be fair, I find my expectations are fairly low these days for any acts from the 70’s or 80’s. These guys are old now, you know. I had a little knowledge of some of their early stuff from the 70’s, but I really grew up on their MTV 80’s songs – “Gimme All Your Lovin’,” “Sharp Dressed Man,” “Sleeping Bag,” and of course today’s featured song and video.

So I met my buddy, Micah, at The WalMart Amp. We sat in the outdoor bar area eating overpriced food and drinking overpriced drinks watching people try to reclaim a little of their youth. The opening act was a band called Oreo Blue, and they were very solid. The guys seemed to be about the same age as the ZZ Top guys, so I assume they’re probably all friends.

My buddy Micah is a guitar player and so he has a vastly different perspective and appreciation for the skill and nuances of guitar players. Me, on the other hand, I like to ask him guitar questions from the perspective of someone who has never had an ounce of guitar chops. Sure, I could ALMOST play “Every Rose Has Its’ Thorn” on my acoustic guitar at one time many years ago, but since then my skills have eroded back down from slightly above nothing to nothing again. So instead of talking like I know anything at all about playing the guitar, I ask Micah (who plays guitar for our church) important questions like why can’t you play “Stairway to Heaven” at church service or “Money For Nothing” when the tithe and offerings are being taken? What would be wrong with playing some Doobie Brothers’ “Jesus is Just Alright With Me” as a backdrop to prayer? Like I said, important questions.

After Oreo Blue, we moved onto the lawn a little closer to the stage where we sat behind a couple of guys that actually looked to be in their 20’s or early 30’s. For the next hour and 20 or 30 minutes, we were all entertained by ZZ Top. For a three-piece band, they sounded much fuller than I expected, and well, Billy Gibbons’ rough, bluesy voice still sounds rough and bluesy.

Bottom line – I’m glad I was able to go see ZZ Top, and the moral of this story is that it’s good to have friends, but even better to have friends that enjoy cool music and don’t mind ridiculous questions.

“She’s got a dime all of the time
Stays out at night, movin’ through time”

These guys have moved through time for sure – four decades to be exact. I believe you can still watch it on Netflix, but the 2019 documentary “ZZ Top: That Little Ol’ Band From Texas” is worth a watch. It may be just a tad bit long (90 minutes) for the casual fan, but it’s full of interviews and performances and gives a detailed, in-depth look at the three original founders – Billy Gibbons, bassist Dusty Hill, and drummer Frank Beard, who ironically is the only clean shaven member. The timing of the documentary was pretty impeccable as original bassist Dusty Hill passed away in his sleep on July 28, 2021 at the age of 72 leaving a long, bearded hole in the band which had many wondering if we would ever see any incarnation of ZZ Top again.

That question has been answered with Elwood Francis, a well renowned and respected guitar tech in the industry. He plays in his own band, The Mighty Skullhead, and has over 30 years of experience. And at some point and time before he passed, Dusty had wished Elwood would take over on bass should he not be able to continue playing.

When I think about ZZ Top in the 80’s, this is probably the first song that comes to mind for me mostly because of its’ iconic video featuring the furry, spinning, sheepskin covered guitars and of course the ZZ Top girls coming to the rescue of our young bullied couple. The song was actually the fourth single off of the “Eliminator” album and peaked at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100, but the video won the 1984 MTV Video Music Awards video for best group video. Here is “Legs”…

During this concert, I texted my wife a picture of Elwood and told her this would be me in a few years. So check out Elwood (fitting in very well with his bandmates) on his furry sheepskin bass along with Billy and Frank on the live 2022 version of “Legs”…

Thanks for reading.


the 80’s

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“I’ve Been Caught Stealing”

“Once when I was five.” – Jane’s Addiction

Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell was apparently caught stealing once when he was five. Big. Deal. There was a man who was a master when it came to getting caught. In fact, he was caught stealing 334 more times than Farrell! His name is Rickey Henderson.

“People say I stole a lot of bases. I stole bases for a reason. I crossed the plate.” – Rickey Henderson

I was a big fan of those late 80’s/early 90’s Oakland A’s teams and I loved watching the all-time king of thefts swipe bags and hit bombs. But I am ashamed to admit that I traded Rickey Henderson. Twice. It was early 1984, and judging by the photo above, Jane’s Addiction is disgusted with what I did too. Obviously, I didn’t trade Rickey literally, but in the world of sports card trading instead. I was 12 and we were still a few years away from “The Bash Brothers” (unless you consider Dave Kingman and Dwayne Murphy the ’84 version), and the dominating run of the Oakland A’s when I dealt away TWO perfectly fine 1980 Topps Rickey Henderson rookie cards.

The 1980 Rickey Henderson rookie card.

The handful of magic beans I received that day for my two Hendersons is still a hazy memory, and I’m probably better for that fact. I would like to think I received something of equal or better value that day, but the memory of my friend Tim showing one of our friends the value of the Henderson cards in my Beckett Price Guide after our trade that day leads me to believe I was probably suckered by a few later year Bobby Murcer or Rod Carew cards (two of “my guys” back in 1984; Carew because he was a future Hall of Fame hitting machine, Murcer because I had his autograph and he was a native Oklahoman like myself). Whatever the transaction, I am almost positive I was on the losing end of it then and now.

My actual official price guide from 1984 still in my possession.
Back in 1984, the Henderson cards were worth $3-$5 each, which is practically a thousand dollars when you’re 12.

By 1984 Henderson was about four seasons into his major league career. Prince and Tina Turner were blowing up the charts and “Ghostbusters” and “Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom” were leading the way at the box office. Henderson was a young rising star then, but we didn’t really know how bright his star would shine or how his career would finish. We do now. He finished as the all-time leader in steals (1,406), runs (2,295), and leadoff home runs (81). His rookie card is now worth in upwards of $400 in mint condition – a mere 9,900% increase (approximately). Rickey was a 10 time all-star, two-time World Series champion, and is widely regarded as the greatest leadoff hitter in the history of baseball, and also one of the greatest to ever refer to himself in the third person.

“Rickey was never motivated by stats. He was motivated by numbers. Wins, runs, steals.” – Rickey Henderson

Rickey stole his first base ever in his first game in the big leagues on June 24, 1979 off of the Texas Rangers’ battery of John Henry Johnson and Jim Sundberg. And it would be in just Rickey’s third game on June 26, 1979 when Paul Splitteroff of the Kansas City Royals picked him off from second base marking the first official caught stealing of Rickey’s 24-season, nine-team major league career.

And thus, began Rickey’s long illustrious career of being caught stealing.

“Don’t worry, Rickey, you’re still the best.” – Rickey Henderson

(AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

“Hey all right! If I get by, it’s mine. Mine all mine!”

As I referenced at the beginning of this post, the opening line of this classic song is grounded in fact as Jane’s Addiction lead singer Perry Farrell was caught trying to steal a rubber bouncy ball called a Pennsy Pinky at a local candy store in Queens back in the mid 60’s when Perry was just a young pup.

Farrell’s story reminded me of a time when I was also about five myself in the mid 70’s in Stillwater, Oklahoma. I was an enrollee of Mrs. Collins’ Kiddie College preschool, and there was a boy that convinced me to sneak into the front hallway where all of the coats were hung. He proceeded to start checking the coat jacket pockets so I did the same thing and I remember my little fingers grasping onto a Hot Wheels car that he and I took turns playing with. Crime pays! I don’t remember getting caught but thankfully my moral compass pointed me away from a life of kleptomania. Thus, a life of stealing or getting caught was not in the cards for me.

“When I want something,
I don’t want to pay for it
I walk right through the door. Walk right through the door.”

Formed in 1985, Jane’s Addiction is regarded as one of the early frontrunners for 90’s alternative rock bands. Drugs and dissent tore this volatile group apart shortly after their most well known hit captured the hearts and minds of rebellious youth in 1990. With Farrell’s dog Annie barking out the intro, here is Jane’s Addiction and their Modern Rock Chart #1 hit from 1990, “Been Caught Stealing”…

If Rickey Henderson owns this song just remember: “Rickey doesn’t have albums. Rickey has cds.

Thanks for reading, and remember thou shalt not steal… unless you’re Rickey Henderson.


the 80’s

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“Slippin’ and A-Slidin’, Peepin’ and A-Hidin'”

“Been told a long time ago.” – Little Richard

Another vessel of my 80’s youth passed away unexpectedly recently.

An endless bundle of high energy wrapped inside of a dog costume with an Oklahoma University basketball uniform, Kenny “Top Daug” Evans died on June 14th. Widely considered the best to ever wear the popular mascot costume, Evans was The Top Daug. Evans entertained the crowd when Billy Tubbs and the Oklahoma Sooners were one of the most dominant basketball programs in the country in the late 80’s and early 90’s. The Sooners had made the transition from underdogs to top dogs. My dad was a part of that ride for six seasons from 1984-1990 so I witnessed first hand some great basketball, but also one of the best mascots ever.

“Top Daug” was retired in 2004 in favor of the two pony mascots, “Boomer” and “Sooner,” but in 2020 the university un-retired Top Daug and the popular mascot was back roaming the sidelines, pulling on his ears, and slippin’ and slidin’ his way into the hearts of a whole new generation.

Top Daug with two of my cousins Jennifer (l), Kimberlee (r) and my sister Kari (middle)

I reconnected with Kenny via Facebook many years ago where I followed along his adventures living in Phoenix. His posts promoted his faith and his family and friends, and many of his posts featured his youngest son Kieron, who just finished sixth grade. Any age is a tough age to lose your dad, but I know Kieron will keep the wonderful memories of Kenny with him forever just as those of us that were around him even for the briefest moment will do as well. It was a brief moment indeed as Kenny first wore the Top Daug costume beginning in the 1987 season becoming a local celebrity. He wore it through 1990 and then again several years later when Kelvin Sampson asked him to put the costume back on during the 2002-03 season.

My parents kept a photo album from a going away party that their friends and colleagues had for them when my dad left OU in 1990. It was a 50’s themed party, and making an appearance at that party was one Kenny Evans. He didn’t show up as “Top Daug,” but instead as Little Richard, and it always made my dad laugh to look back at pictures of Kenny from that party.

“Little Richard,” Kenny Evans and my dad circa 1990

My last correspondence with Kenny was last August just after my dad passed away. He reached out to me through Facebook…


Hey Kyle! Kenny Evans here. Man! I didn’t know that Coach passed away. OMG! This is a shocker. This hurts. How’s Mom and how are you all doing? Please accept my prayers and condolences. Coach was such an Amazing Man and a gentle spirit. He helped my mascot career so much because he inspires me with his smiles, laughs and stories.

8/17/21, 2:00 PM

You sent:

Thanks so much Kenny. He loved you and you were always “The” Top Daug. He always laughed thinking about you coming to his 50’s going away party dressed like Little Richard. Thanks so much for reaching out.



Sending Big Hugs to you all!!

Kenny Evans

Kenny wrote how my dad “inspired” him. Well, for friends, family, and those that just had the good fortune to be witness to Kenny’s many performances through the years (he was also “Boomer,” the 1989 U.S. Olympic Festival mascot, “Globie” for the Harlem Globetrotters, and “Sergeant Slammer” for the Oklahoma City Cavalry of the Continental Basketball Association), I know that Kenny inspired many many people during his life as well.

For those of you not familiar, this old story about Kenny as “Top Daug” will give you a good idea…

Also, as an OU fan, the end of this video sucks watching the Kansas Jayhawks win the national championship game against OU, but Kenny can be seen opening the video at the five second mark and my dad almost gets run over by a Villanova player diving for the ball at the 29 second mark, so this video will always be special to me.

Take care and thanks for reading. RIP Kenny.


the 80’s

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“Sorry Mate, Don’t Take Checks”

“Just loads of money” – Harry Enfield

“Loadsofmoney” Photo by Rex Features

Did you hear about the dwarf convict who recently escaped from prison?

He’s now a small medium at-large.

You’re welcome, and a happy Father’s Day weekend to all of the fathers, grandfathers, step-fathers, surrogate fathers, and future fathers!

In 1988, I was a junior in high school and my best Barry drove a late 70’s model green Chrysler LeBaron. It was a big, bold thing of beauty. The four door sedan (which if I recall correctly) had been given to him by his grandparents. It was a very clean, spacious car that had been kept in excellent condition with green exterior and green cloth interior. I have no idea how many miles it had on it at the time, but I vividly remember that it had an 8 track tape deck for all of those Skynyrd or Kansas 8 tracks! The 8 track was about obsolete in 1988, so Barry had a converter that allowed you to play cassette tapes instead, and blast the sounds of Motley Crue or Def Leppard from the pretty decent factory stereo system.

By looking at this ad, the green 1978 Chrysler LeBaron was apparently an off-road machine, and women liked a man with a green off-road piece of Chrysler engineering.

Somewhere along the line of our junior year in high school, Barry began bringing a joke book or two with him in the LeBaron. He usually had one in the backseat or in the glove box or maybe in the middle console. The jokes were typically harmless, sometimes tasteless jokes – perfect for two adolescent teens. The few that I do remember from so long ago came from a section in one of the books with jokes about lepers:

Why did they have to stop the leper hockey game? Because there was a face off in the corner.

Why did they stop the leper football game? Because there was a hand off at the fifty yard line.

So occasionally during our lunch hour drives from the Norman High School campus to Roy Rogers Restaurant or Pizza Hut on Lindsey Street, a crude, amateur joke-telling session would break out.

I called Barry a few weeks ago, because I’d been thinking about him. The reason: I stumbled upon and now subscribe to a “Daily Dad Jokes” podcast, and the jokes I hear remind me of those days. Leper jokes may not be in vogue anymore, but in their place are plenty of “dad jokes.” So just as Barry and I traded jokes over 35 years ago, I now occasionally walk up to my co-workers throughout the day, and drop one of these beauties:

What did 8 say to 3?

Where’s your other half?

or this one which is very apropos since I work at a bank…

“I was turned down for a loan recently at the Bank of Trigonometry, because I couldn’t find a guarantor to cosine on the agreement.”

I then receive what every good/bad dad joke receives – plenty of smiles, head shakes, eye rolls, and the obligatory “oh no, that was bad” remarks. I refuse to let “the haters” deter me though! I will carry on just as Barry did in spite of my numerous “that was terrible” comments which did not deter him back in 1988. Missing are the carefree lunch hours at Norman High School from our youth, and instead we are both fathers to grown daughters of our own (shoutout to Caroline and Taylor!). But the fading memories of hilarious lunches from years ago still linger.

The jokes must go on!

“Do up the house. Money makes the world go around. Money makes the world go around. All this scratchin’ is makin’ me rich!”

Speaking of ridiculous jokes, English comedian, actor, writer, and director Harry Enfield created a satirical character named “Loadsamoney” at the height of the Barry joke-book popularity back in 1988. The character was formed in reaction to the policies of the Thatcher government, and the novelty song became a UK sensation that led to a sold-out tour centered around today’s song that was actually a #4 hit on the UK charts. I knew nothing of the Thatcher government policies in 1988 (and frankly I didn’t care), so I really had no clue as to what Harry was hoping to accomplish with this song and video.

With “Lance” on lead guitar and scratching on the turntable, shut your mouth, and see if there is any way you can make it through the whole video. If you make it through, consider it a Father’s Day miracle and drop me a comment to let me know how you did it! Here is Harry Enfield and his annoying creation, “Loadsamoney (Doin’ Up the House).” Barry-approved.

What are the chances of a cow standing in field getting struck by lightening?

Medium rare!

Hey-oh! Have a great day, thanks for reading, and go tell a dad joke or two today.


the 80’s

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“You Must Be the Fine Hairs”

“You must be the frown. You must be the reason all the lights go down” – The Gourds

The phone doesn’t ring anymore. The texts stopped years ago. To be fair, she doesn’t even have a phone, and honestly I don’t think she even knows it. She barely knows who I am. My mom recognizes my face, and I’m still her son on occasion, but at other times I become her brother or her husband. She even told me the other day that I’m her “favorite husband.” I’m not sure how many husbands she thinks she has, but I try not to correct her. There’s no need to at this point. I just smile and hug her or hold her hand.

For some strange reason, I actually had the intentions of trying to make this post into a poem. I’ve always admired those with the natural gift of rhythm, rhyme, meter, form, etc., but to me it has always seemed very confusing, too difficult, and just too elusive for my simple mind. But, I digress.

My wife and I recently saw the new Dr. Strange movie, and (not to spoil it) there are various versions of Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) in different times and locations throughout “the Metaverse” in the movie. I often think that my mom lives in different times and places in her mind – her own Metaverse of sorts with her own different reality in each. It’s all disjointed and peculiar and despairing to observe a dementia patient in person.

Not being able to connect with a parent via the telephone is an odd thing for sure. When my dad was alive, I used to get phone calls from him – at all times of the day. Sometimes I welcomed those calls. Other times, I cringed when I saw he was calling. Some of the calls were just so he could tell me an amusing story or ask me a random question, but the last few years that wasn’t the case as much. I saved the voicemails. Not all of them. I started saving the voicemails as far back as six years ago knowing that one day I’d miss his voice and want to hear it again. As my mom’s battle with dementia grew worse, so did the anger and frustration in my dad’s voice. I don’t think he ever really accepted her future, and I can understand. It’s a tough thing to accept and a helpless, lonely feeling that I know took so much out of my dad the final years of his life. Even though the later calls were tinged with desperation and depression, I still strangely miss them.

My wife and I just finished watching the final two episodes left on the DVR of the sixth and final season of the incredibly well-written and acted NBC hit drama, “This is Us.” It was a brilliant run for the fictitious Pearson family, but it also hit very close to home these past few seasons. Spoiler alert: The matriarch of the family, Rebecca Pearson (played beautifully by Mandy Moore), develops dementia. I knew these final episodes focusing on her battle, her care, and how it affects the family were coming. I just didn’t know they would land this hard. My wife gave me a big hug after one of the recent episodes. She could see the pain in my eyes because I could relate and I know my dad could have related to some of particularly difficult, heart-warming scenes. Mandy Moore’s character did the disease justice just as my mom continues to do in real life. So for now, the silent destroyer continues to carry on within a woman who has no use for a telephone.

And maybe I do have a poem inside of me. A one word poem.


“Steeple full of swallows
Hammer in the weeds
Heart full of my head
Mosquitos on my feet”

I have a co-worker that loves a mid-90’s alt-country band named The Gourds. I’d never heard of them even though the band was formed in Austin and they made their way up north and played many shows in Oklahoma years ago. They’re probably most famous for their clever and pretty cool cover of Snoop Dogg’s “Gin & Juice,” but they were much more than a one-time parody cover band. They took “hiatus” in 2013 after 19 years together, and the band members have all gone their own ways with lead singer Kevin Russell and drummer Keith Langford now performing as part of the band known as the Shinyribs.

After listening to The Gourds most popular songs on Spotify, I stumbled across today’s gem (not listed among their top 10). With its melancholy sound and Russell’s piercing voice, it’s easily my favorite song of theirs. I can’t tell you exactly what this song means, but sometimes things make sense even when they don’t, and somehow it just fits with today’s post.

From their 2007 album “Noble Creatures,” I hope you enjoy this song as much as I do. Have a listen for the first time or the thousandth time to “Steeple Full of Swallows”

As always, thanks for reading, and donate to the cure.


the 80’s

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