“Do You Hear Me?”


“Do you care?” – Missing Persons

My wife tells a great story about the time her wonderful mother Doris was recovering in the hospital after having a softball sized brain tumor removed.  The specialists in the recovery area were working with Doris to make sure her speech was not affected shortly after her surgery.  Rebekah was in the room with her mother, and to make sure Doris understood, Rebekah told her that she needed to speak to show the doctors that she understood what they were saying and that she could comprehend what was happening.

So Rebekah told her mom (and I’m paraphrasing) that you can’t just nod or shake your head to answer questions you have to speak words.  Doris took this request literally and started saying “words” over and over in a dry, raspy-throated effort to follow a simple command.  Doris was saying words.

“I might as well go up and talk to a wall, ’cause all the words are having no effect at all”

What parent hasn’t felt that way or uttered something to that effect?  What employee has ever wondered if his or her supervisor even sees them much less hears them?  We speak words to be heard by someone.  To make a point, to give instructions, to entertain, to inform, to convey a feeling or emotion.  It’s how we were created.  We write words to do the same thing.  To express thoughts and ideas, to etch memories.

English poet John Drinkwater once said “The written word is everything.”  That simple five-word statement holds a great deal of truth.  It’s the discernment of “truth” that is really the challenge.  The words are there.  It just comes down to if you understand or believe the words you read.

When I was a sophomore in college I wrote for the college newspaper, and I only semi-enjoyed it.  The thing I remember most about that particular semester is that I had all of my classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  I had a four-day weekend every week and it was awesome.  Sure Tuesday and Thursday sucked because I was in some class all day followed by basketball practice, but did you just read what I wrote?  I had a four day weekend, every week!

In my student newspaper class there were many times that I had to write about world affairs or upcoming events on campus, and I would be unmotivated to do so, and I’m sure those articles reflected that.  But, those times I could convince my editor / teacher to let me write an opinion piece about the rapidly rising salaries of professional athletes, or a profile piece on students with interesting stories were the times I really enjoyed what I was doing.

One thing I learned early in life is that everyone has a story and if you take some time to listen it’s often fascinating, inspiring, sad, funny, resilient, but most of all – unique.


Far left back row.  The guy that was mildly interested in writing for the school newspaper, 1991.

“What are words for when no one listens anymore?  What are words for when no one listens?  What are words for when no one listens, it’s no use talkin’ at all.”

I once listened to a podcast about a guy who decided to give up talking for one day only to keep going and eventually went over a decade without uttering a single word to anyone.  I thought that was fascinating.  As I listened to him tell his story I had the usual thoughts of why and the incredibly tough logistics involved in undertaking something like this, but I eventually came to the conclusion that it sounded like a lonely and sad adventure, and even a bit depressing.

When it comes right down to it that’s all this little website is – words.  Sure there are some old music videos and vintage pictures scattered across different decades,  particularly the 80’s and even 70’s.  But the true essence of this site is based upon words – written words.

“Time could be my friend.  But it’s less than nowhere now.”

I couldn’t imagine back in 1991 during that sophomore year in college that there would come a day where you could write whatever you wanted whenever you wanted, and post it to a place where anyone in the world could view and read it.  That you could edit it yourself.  Your grammar or spelling didn’t have to be perfect.  Your facts didn’t have to matter.  You could make up statistics – 73% of statistics are inaccurate according to 58% of statistical survey companies anyway.  See how easy that was?  What an amazing time we live in, but what a dangerous weapon words can be.  At the same time, what a wonderful privilege they are.

As time passes I think we all realize how much more important words become because we have less of them to use with each and every passing day.  So we must use our words written or spoken, and we must use them wisely and for the betterment of ourselves and our families and our friends.

“It’s like the feeling at the end of the page.  When you realize you don’t know what you just read.”

Well, some 1000+ words later I’ve arrived here at the end with the feeling that I just kind of rambled in this post today.  But I’ve learned that it’s ok to ramble when you write sometimes.  A post doesn’t always have to be tight and on point with every word.  I would give that advice to anyone who enjoys the written word (reading, writing, or otherwise).  Just write and see where it leads you.

Writing is like life.  There are times when you feel like you’re just wandering.  The keyboard is like a bunch of different roads you can choose from.  Those roads create words that lead to a destination.  Then one day you stop, look around, and see where it all has taken you.  It’s a fascinating journey.


“Pursue it further and another thing you’ll find.  Not only are they deaf and dumb they could be going blind and no one notices.  I think I’ll dye my hair blue.”


Cool lyrics from a cool L.A. new wave/rock band formed in 1980 that enjoyed mild success in the 80’s.  Led by front-woman Dale Bozzio (no blue hair, but pink instead for this video), this particular song was one of four singles released from their “Spring Session M” album and peaked at #42 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The band received quite a bit of airplay in the early days of MTV because of their unique sound and look (male rouge anyone?).  The fact that the group had a talented attractive female lead singer probably didn’t hurt either when trying to appeal to the young male viewership of the time.

Here is the group Missing Persons with their video to the song “Words”…

Thanks for reading these words and watching “Words” today!


the 80’s

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From the Vault… “Missing Roger Staubach”

(Fall is closing in, and the NFL football season is back!  From my vault of articles, I hope you enjoy this one I wrote a few years ago…)

“Missing Roger Staubach”

In the early summer of 1978 I was seven years old, and my family was finishing our stay in Stillwater, Oklahoma.  At this time, my dad was still head basketball and golf coach at Stillwater High School.  In just a few months though he would be hired as the men’s head basketball coach at Northern Oklahoma Junior College, and our family would make the 45 minute move to Tonkawa, Oklahoma.

I had wild brown curly hair that my mom thought would straighten out the more she let it grow.  That never worked out, and I have the funny pictures from my childhood to prove it.  It was during this innocent time in my life that I was first introduced to a drug that came in a 2 ½ by 3 ½ wax package called Topps Trading Cards.

2014-07-20 15.01.08-1

This picture was taken in Tonkawa in 1979, but you can still see my wild curly brown hair and I am proudly displaying my generic blue and silver Roger Staubach jersey.

Not baseball cards mind you with all of its glorious history and statistics, but NFL football cards were my first love.  The 1978 Topps football cards were my first foray into the world of sports trading cards.

My dad would take me by the local QT (Quik Trip) convenience store on our way home in Stillwater, and for 25 cents I could get a pack of football cards (side note:  I looked on the internet recently and you can still find a few unopened packs, but they go for about $17-$20 a pack now).  Each “wax pack” (below) contained 12 gods of the gridiron inside along with one hellaciously hard stick of “bubble gum.”  (On a personal note to my dentist, I shamelessly blame all of those rock-hard sticks of so-called gum on the amount and coverage of fillings in my hopelessly soon-to-all-be-capped molars.)


There were 528 cards available in the 1978 set, and I voraciously chewed my gum and opened my packs day after day, week after week checking off players as I uncovered them inside.    There was a team checklist card for every team featuring four small pictures of the team leaders on the front along with a checklist of all the players available from that team on the back.  Like any dutiful seven year old, I grabbed an ink pen and check-marked the ones I had (I even wrote my initials on the backs of many of my cards.  I didn’t know about mint condition or the value of them or even care when I was seven!).

The 1978 NFL Topps cards were very plain.  At the time Topps didn’t have a licensing agreement with the NFL so the team logos were nowhere to be found on the player helmets or jerseys.  There were a few action shots, some standard close-up photo poses, and pictures of a lot of players sitting on the bench looking like they’d just been through a three hour battle.

The back of each card featured basic bio on the player along with statistics and an interesting fact about that player.  Some photos were even clever duplicates a year or two before as is the case with Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Charlie Smith  (below; interesting fact:  “Charlie works as a substitute teacher in the off-season”).  It was the same exact crazy messed up afro, same exact axe-murderer expression on his face.  It was just a slightly different camera angle between the two pictures.

At this time my two favorite NFL teams were the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Blasphemy, I know!  And, yes, I will confess to being a front-runner back then if that helps with an explanation.  Coming off of a Super Bowl win in January 1978, the Cowboys were in the midst of becoming labeled “America’s Team.”  Plus, their proximity to most of Oklahoma made for the closest NFL franchise.  The Steelers, on the other hand, were five states and a thousand miles away, but I had relatives in Pittsburgh.  My cousin Kevin was one year older and like a distant big brother to me.  If he and his family liked the Steelers than I did too!

My two favorite football players during this confusing time were the great quarterbacks from each team – Terry Bradshaw of the Steelers and Roger Staubach of the Cowboys.  I do confess to loving all the quarterbacks back then, and I made it my mission to make sure I collected all of their football cards that year.

From the Bears’ Bob Avellini (“Bob works for a paper company during the off-season”) to the Seahawks’ Jim Zorn (“Jim is an accomplished speed skater”), I treasured the quarterback cards more than any other (a speed skater?  Really?).  The quarterbacks were the leaders, and the hopes of their respective teams seemed to rise and fall every Sunday depending upon their play.

I had all of the quarterback cards except two.   In an ironic twist of my QB card searching fate, Topps didn’t produce a Baltimore Colts QB card that year for whatever reason.  The Colts had gone 10-4 in 1977 and were led by Miller Beer star Bert Jones.

One of my two missing QB cards was NY Giants Joe Pisarcik who staggered through a four touchdown, 14 interception, 42.3 passer rating season in 1977.  He followed up that stellar campaign with 12 touchdowns, 23 interceptions and 52.1 passer rating in 1978.  Needless to say I wasn’t really in dire need of that Joe Pisarcik card.  After all, I did have the other Giants QB card at that time – Jerry Golsteyn (“Jerry is one of six brothers.  All of whom share the first initial “J”).


Topps would also sneak a back-up or two into the QB card stock as well.  James Harris or Dave Mays anyone?

Harris (“At Grambling James was MVP of the 1967 Orange Blossom Classic”) backed up one of my all-time favorites with the San Diego Chargers – Dan Fouts.  Fouts rocked the QB beard like nobody’s business in the late 70’s, and easily ranks in any top all-time QB beards list.  Fouts quarterbacked Chargers teams that were always fun to watch on offense but never had the defense it took to win it all.

Dave Mays (“Dave was once a mascot for his father’s Arkansas AM&N football team”) backed up another quarterback I liked – Cleveland’s Brian Sipe.  Sipe would go on to win the NFL MVP award in 1980, but his Browns’ teams would never play for a Super Bowl (then again, nobody’s Browns’ teams have played for a Super Bowl).

Amongst the other back-up quarterback cards I had was one Danny White of the Dallas Cowboys.  White (“Danny set 7 collegiate passing records at Arizona State”) was the Cowboys starting punter, and as far as I know the only starting punter in the NFL history who would also go on to become a starting NFL quarterback.  I had the White card probably 10 times over, but the other starting QB card I did not have at that time was number #290 on the checklist.  It was the card featuring former Naval Academy and Heisman Trophy winner Roger Staubach.


The card that eluded my 1978 self.

Staubach’s picture just exuded the confidence and leadership one might expect from a former Navy graduate.  It was if he had just stepped out of his Navy blues and directly into the blue, silver, and white of the Dallas Cowboys.  Some players are just meant to play for certain organizations, and the star of the Cowboys seemed natural for this Navy man.  Without wearing a helmet in the picture, his 1978 hair was perfect.  His eyes looked just over the camera man’s shoulder gazing down field.  He’s holding the football with both hands likely looking for an open Drew Pearson or a streaking Butch Johnson.

Staubach had career numbers that were deceiving because he didn’t break into the NFL until after he served out a four-year stint as required by the Navy at that time.  He was a 27 year old rookie before he played for the Dallas Cowboys, and then he sat behind Cowboys’ starter Craig Morton for the better part of two seasons before finally taking over the reins as the starter while pushing 30 years of age.

“Roger the Dodger” was on his way to an all-pro season in 1978 where he would throw for 25 touchdowns and over 3,100 yards.  But I was less interested in his all-pro season and more interested in discovering his football card in an unopened wax pack of Topps NFL football trading cards.  Did Topps even make a Roger Staubach card?  I knew they did, and the checklist said it did, but to me it seemed like they didn’t make any, or at least didn’t ship any to Oklahoma.

It was like a cruel hoax every time I opened a pack only to get the same Houston Oilers’ Curley Culp card (“Curley strengthens his body by tossing 50 lb. Barrels”), or another Detroit Lions’ Eddie Payton card (“Eddie plays the trumpet”).  And, yes, that is Walter Payton’s older brother who had a five season stint in the NFL mostly as a kickoff/punt returner.  My disappointment and frustration grew as time and again I was stopped short of the goal line by another Oakland Raiders’ Ted Hendricks card (“Ted’s nickname is “the mad stork”) when Staubach failed to appear inside.

To pass the time in between trips to the local convenience store I would group my cards together by teams and place them in a specially designed card holder.  Occasionally if I was bored I would gather all of my quarterback cards together in one group and go through them gazing at their frozen expressions, wondering who Jim Plunkett was talking to on the headset (“Jim plays a lot of tennis during the off-season”), and thinking that Greg Landry’s picture of him playing in the mud was probably the coolest looking QB card I had (“Greg spent the off-season working on a graduate degree”).

With nearly all 528 cards in my collection, it only magnified my disappoint of a missing #290 everytime I shuffled through them and wrapped each team neatly together with a rubber-band (serious collectors worried about card values are screaming at this point – not a rubber band!).

Somewhere along the way between nerf hoops, and basketball, and girls, and cars, and college, #290 became a vacant memory.  It became a distant desire long forgotten.  But every now and then fate seems to step in for a moment and puts our busy lives on pause.  In my attic sorting through bins of old baby clothes, toys, and in the midst of putting up Christmas decorations, I stumbled upon my youth again.  Sitting among the old dusty boxes and sacks in my attic were two dusty plastic bins of old memories.  In them are worn out baseball, basketball, and football cards just sitting there with rounded corners and worn out edges telling stories of years gone by.  The NFL faces of 1978 are frozen in time, and for just a minute or two I’m in 1978 as well.

It’s only natural for us all to take a peek back at our childhood from time to time.  We linger for a few minutes and then move on to more important things in our lives.  There’s no need to dwell in the past, but the past is what makes up our memories as we grow older.  We cherish pictures that bring back fond moments and good times, and that’s what these 2 ½” by 3 ½” pieces of cardboard that cost 25 cents a pack at one time did for me.

On January 21, 1979, Super Bowl XIII took place at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida and featured the Steelers against the Cowboys.  As any good NFL fan knows, you can’t really cheer for the Cowboys and the Steelers and call yourself a NFL football fan.  It’s either one or the other (or neither).

So on that day some 37 years ago, my seven year old self decided that whoever won this Super Bowl was going to be my favorite team forever.  I already told you what a front-runner I could be, and so history dictated for me that day that Terry Bradshaw (“Terry’s wife is ice skater JoJo Starbuck”) and the Steelers would be my team of choice going forward.

The Cowboys were banished to most-hated status.  It was cruel and an unfair punishment for a team that had done nothing wrong but lose a football game that day.  Bradshaw was named MVP of the game after throwing four touchdown passes, and Staubach had played well in defeat throwing for 228 yards and three touchdowns.

With that thrilling 35-31 win the Steelers have been my favorite team since that day.  I’ve cheered on the Steeler greats and not-so-greats through the years.  I’ve watched a few more Super Bowl trophies go to the team from the “steel city,” and someday I actually hope to waive a terrible towel at a Steelers game in person.  Perhaps it will be at Heinz Field, and maybe I will be lucky enough to be cheering against “America’s Team” that day.  But, despite my 30+ years of Steelers allegiance, and my reverence for the great 1978 Steelers, I have a suspicious feeling that deep down inside I will always, and to some degree, forever be missing Roger Staubach.

(On the left wearing my Bradshaw / Steelers jersey and then on the right is Christmas morning 1980 going through my new football cards.  Notice my Pittsburgh Steelers shirt on the floor as well.  By this time, the conversion from Staubach to Bradshaw was complete.)



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“Sunny Days. Everybody Loves Them”

“Tell me can you stand the rain?”


Shout out to this past week’s eclipse!

Have you ever had a conversation with God that went something like this:
Me:  God, I’m a good person.  I go to church.  I pray.  I do good things.  Why did (fill in the blank) happen to me?

Well, Matthew 5:45 is your answer.  Let’s take a look – “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

There it is, no matter how unfair you think that statement may be.  We all go through things we think are unfair – failed relationships, failed jobs, losses of loved ones.  You get the picture.

“Storms will come.  This we know for sure.”

I recently attended two funerals in two days.  One was an acquaintance whom I made a home loan to he and his wife many years ago when I worked at a competitor bank in the area.  George was confined to a wheel chair when I first met him.  It was the result of a fall from a ladder while working in a warehouse for the world’s largest retailer.  He was only 30 years old when it happened, but from what I understand never carried a grudge against the company.  In fact, he went back to work for them for a short time and produced safety videos that are apparently still shown to this day.

George lived nearly half of his life paralyzed before passing away suddenly due to an infection in his system at the age of 57.    After I finished their home loan, they had my wife Rebekah do the landscaping on their new house and our daughter Caroline was still little enough that she road on Mr. George’s lap in his motorized wheel chair like a carnival ride whenever they would visit he and his wife at their new home.

Another connection to their family was with their daughter Ashley.  She worked at an animal hospital, and we eventually adopted our pet poodle Paris because Ashley contacted us when Paris was left anonymously at her place of employment late one night.

George was a very nice man who didn’t complain or bemoan the fact he was paralyzed.  He carried himself with confidence and pride.  He left behind a saddened, wonderful family, but more importantly he left this world a better place.

“On a perfect day, I know that I can count on you.”

The other funeral was the unfortunate service for a 17 year old friend of my daughter’s named Thomas, who took his own life.  Thomas was a tortured soul his final few years, but I love the thought that his Camp WarEagle counselor left us with, and I’m paraphrasing, but he said that while Thomas battled demons in his mind, his heart was where it needed to be and he knew his Lord and Savior in his heart.

We attend the same church as his family does and my daughter and he became friends  a few years ago attending youth group together, and even attending the same school for a short time.  My daughter said that she always hoped that others could see the Thomas that she saw.  It was a beautiful sentiment and his death, as tragic as it was, did result in good as Thomas helped save lives through the generosity of his decision to be an organ donor.  According to his father, an estimated 60 lives were touched following his death.

The funeral service was hard.  His parents spoke with a grace and a strength that goes beyond understanding.  They were pulling power from a higher source.  You have to, in my opinion, if you’re speaking at the funeral of your child.  It’s never easy when someone that young dies.  But in reality my grandmother Ruby (God bless her and her 101 years on this planet to date) said it best when she said that no parent should have to bury a child… no matter how old that child is.

I hope Thomas found that peace he was constantly in search of, and I hope his mother, father, brothers, and sister find a peace as they carry his memory through this life without him.

“When that’s not possible, tell me can you weather the storm?”


Loss and hardships do produce one thing.  Appreciation.  Appreciation for family, for friends, for health, for employment, etc., etc.  Appreciation for late 80’s fly, blue suits!  We can’t make it through difficult times alone.  We need spouses and family and friends to turn to in our times of struggle and strife.  We were made to be relational.  Thank God.

I also thank God for this beautiful 1987 ballad by New Edition which was written and produced by the legendary duo of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.  The group was coming through a storm themselves having lost Bobby Brown to a solo career.  They recruited long time friend Johnny Gill to replace Brown, and then with the help of Jam and Lewis produced 51 minutes and 41 seconds of magic called the “Heart Break” album.

This particular song was a #1 hit on the US R&B Singles chart and remains one of their most popular ballads.  The video itself makes me want to go buy a cape or whatever the guys are wearing at the beginning and end of this video.  With the newly acquired Johnny Gill on lead vocals, it’s one of my all time favorite R&B groups – New Edition asking that all important question we ask of ourselves and others – “Can You Stand the Rain?”

Thanks for reading and know that if you’re going through a storm or having a rainy day that a sunny day is just around the corner and things will get better.

R.I.P. George and Thomas.  You two will be missed.


the 80’s


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“Basketball is My Favorite Sport”

“I like the way they dribble up and down the court.” – Kurtis Blow

With summer winding down I didn’t want to let it get away without a post of one of my favorite summertime memories of my youth – basketball camp.


This is the basketball camp you went to if you were a top high school basketball player in the country.  I never made this one.

Google “camps for kids” and you’ll get everything from tennis camp to robotics camp to various church camps to dance and music camps.  Summer is a time for vacations and fun and for shipping your child off for a week or two to do something he or she enjoys.

For me, back in the 80’s, Jerry Jobe Basketball Camp was usually the highlight of my summer.  One week (sometimes I attended two weeks) filled with nothing but basketball from Sunday night through Friday at noon.  There were none of these “team camps” and sponsored AAU teams criss-crossing the country all summer long playing in different tournaments.  Those were just in their early stages.  For the most part, it was just basketball camps tailored to the individual and developing your skills.

Jerry Jobe was a close family friend and legendary coach in Oklahoma when I started attending his camps.  My dad had served under Jerry as an assistant at Southwestern Oklahoma College in Weatherford, Oklahoma, where I was born.  Jerry would later be inducted into the Oklahoma basketball coaches hall of fame as well as the hall of fames at both Southwestern and Oklahoma Christian University, where I first started attending his camps.

“Basketball has always been my thing.  I like Magic, Bird, and Bernard King.”

There were typically three three week sessions (three weeks for girls and three weeks for boys), and you had to be 10 years old to attend.  The first time I attended was 1980, and I was the youngest kid there at only 9.  Because of the closeness of our two families I was allowed to attend a year early.  I stayed in the dorms that week with my dad, who was working the camp (the camps had multiple coaches and college players working them), and at that time was also the head coach at Northern Oklahoma Junior College in Tonkawa, Oklahoma.

The camp was held on the campus of Oklahoma Christian College (now Oklahoma Christian University) in Edmond, Oklahoma, where Jerry was head coach from 1975-1983.  During that time, his OCC teams won 79% of their games, and were some of the best teams in the nation.  That fact attracted hundreds of kids every summer to his camps.


My dad working up a sweat in the un-air-conditioned “Eagles’ Nest” at Oklahoma Christian College back in the early 80’s in Edmond, OK.

That first year and the next few years, everyone knew me as “Duke” or “Dukester” or “lil Duke.”  Duke is my middle name (my mom’s family name) and what the Jobes enjoyed calling me, so they had “Duke” printed on the back of my two Jerry Jobe basketball shirts.  There was usually a red one and a white one and those were used for “league games” during the afternoon.

“I like slam dunks, it takes me to the hoop.  My favorite play is the alley-oop.”

In addition to the t-shirts, everyone also received a brightly colored red, white, and blue rubber basketball with the camp name on it (they were OCC Eagle grey and purple in the early days when we were still at OCC).  Those balls were used for our morning drills intended to improve ball-handling, passing, and shooting skills.

After Jerry left OCC in 1983, the camp was moved to Chickasha (where Jerry had spent many years as a high school coach) and onto the campus of USAO (University of Sciences & Arts Oklahoma).  Instead of dorms, we had the awesomeness of staying in a motel where right before bed we’d turn the thermostat down so low that frost would form on the windows.  The camp bussed us from the motel to the cafeteria and gym on campus every day.

After breakfast our day began with a variety of ball-handling drills and various stations to improve all aspects of our game.  The afternoon was reserved for league games where every team would play two full games every day, and the evening was for more drills and contests including free throw shooting, one vs. one, and three vs. three.

Also during the afternoons every year we watched the same videos (on a projector) of shooting instructor George Lehmann.  Lehmann was a New Jersey native that had spent about 7-8 seasons in the old ABA during the 60’s and early 70’s.  Afterwards he formed a company with his brother Austin and they began conducting clinics with George demonstrating shooting and Austin showcasing his ball-handling skills.

(George played one season with the ABA’s Memphis Tams.  Remember them?  No one does, but they did exist!  His instructional shooting videos existed and we used to watch them on an old school projector like the one above.)

The thing about those instructional videos was that they were edited perfectly and never showed George missing a shot unless he was doing it on purpose to make a point.  There were times when I was first attending camp that I just thought “this guy never missed!”

When I look back now at some of the footage I realize that this guy didn’t miss very much, but he did have a little editing help along the way.   Here’s a youtube clip from one of George’s videos where he’s talking about the most important step in shooting the basketball – keeping the elbow straight.  And remember – “practice makes permanent!”

There was also the “Eagle ball-handling drill” which in itself was a contest against the clock and against all of the other campers.  It was a drill comprised of five different moves culminating with raising the ball above your head to signify you were finished.  I remember the fastest time being just under 20 seconds one summer by a guy named Buck Jenkins who was 2-3 years older than me.  There were qualifying rounds multiple times every day, and if you had one of the fastest times you qualified for the finals on Friday morning.  The winner of Friday’s mornings finals between all of the qualifiers determined the week’s “best ball-handler” award.  I think I won it one week in my final year of attending in 1987 though I could never get to sub 20 seconds.

Friday morning is when all the parents could attend and all of the finals were conducted to determine the winners of the week’s contests.  The Eagle/Jerry Jobe ball-handling drill, the free throw shooting contest, the finals of the one vs. one and three vs. three contests, and then the league championship games in each league were conducted all leading up to the presentation of awards and trophies just before camp was dismissed.

I also worked the girls’ camp one week during the summer heading into my junior year of high school with four other high school players from around the area.  I helped run drills and refereed the games during the afternoon.  I had my best camp personally as a camper later that same summer winning the free throw shooting contest, the Eagle ball-handling drill, the one vs. one competition and the overall “Mr. Basketball” award.

The next summer (before my senior season) I was primed for a big week or two of camp, but that all came to a crashing halt when I injured my achilles tendon during summer league play with my Norman High teammates.  Doctor’s orders forced me to rest and ice it for the next few weeks which basically ended my summer league season and nixed any chances I had at attending camp.  So I really never got to properly finish my Jerry Jobe Basketball Camp career since that was the last eligible summer for me to attend as a player, and that was truly a disappointment to me at that time.

11-20-2007-9-26-37-am-6313073(Jerry Jobe (far left) during his induction into the Oklahoma Christian HOF in 2007.) 

I’m not sure how many more years the Jerry Jobe basketball camp existed after I finished.  Individual camp numbers were on the decline and more focus was being put on summer leagues and team camps.  Jerry never got back into coaching either, instead taking a job with the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association, which he worked for until his retirement in 1996.  Jerry and his wife Laura Beth have resided and still continue enjoying retirement living in Norman, Oklahoma.

I’ll forever be grateful for the memories of those hot summers and un air-conditioned gyms attending camp in the early years with my dad and then later as a high school player.  I made a lot of friends those weeks, had a ton of fun, made many memories, and it made me into a better basketball player.

(Outside the motel where the campers stayed with fellow campers on the left Miles Moorman and Steve Carpenter.   In the right picture is my little sis Kari and my best friend, fellow camper, and “Spirit Award” winner Barry Blanton.  Pics from summer 1985)

“To the hoop ya’ll, it’s basketball!”


Today’s music video is that from a song that we heard multiple times every day of the week during camp.  In my head it seems like this song was played at least 10 times a day (and maybe it was) in the gym during our ball-handling and stations sessions in the mornings and evenings.  It was always playing during our free-throw shooting contests.

The song was released by “The Breaks” artist Kurtis Blow in 1984, and was an instant success particularly in the basketball playing community.

The video is part “Westside Story,” and part kung fu fighting.  It features a 7 or 8 foot goal and a lot of non-basketball players.  It’s a hilariously bad video, but it’s also very radically 80’s in terms of clothing and hair styles.  I don’t even care how bad it is, I still love it.  Featuring a brief cameo by The Fat Boys at the very end as well, here is Mister Kurtis Blow and the iconic song and video to “Basketball”

We love that basssketballlll…

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed your summer camp when you were younger!


the 80’s

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“She Was a Flower for the Takin'”

“Her beauty cut just like a knife.” – Waylon Jennings


Those are some of the iconic lyrics sung by the late, great Waylon Jennings, and a beautiful view of Boulder, Colorado from Flagstaff Mountain.

“He was a banker from Macon.”

Not only is the song one of my favorite Waylon songs, but I would argue it’s possibly the most famous song featuring a banker.  “Penny Lane,” by the Beatles also comes to mind, and “Only in America” by Brooks and Dunn as well.  There are other songs (not many) featuring bankers, but none quite like the banker in Waylon’s song.

I chose this 1987 country classic for this post because my day job is that of a banker.  I know, I know.  How cliche’, right?  Mild-mannered banker by day, vigilante, world-changing writer by night and on weekends!  What an exciting life I lead!

“Last I heard, she had moved to Boulder…” – Garth Brooks

(You know sometimes 90’s lyrics from Garth Brooks can be fitting)

I recently spent two weeks in Boulder on the CU campus for Graduate School of Banking (GSBC).  Yes, this is a real thing, and it lasts two weeks every summer for three years.  And it is fantastic.

Sure, the eight classes, guest speakers and panels, and one interactive case study I had in that span were a little overwhelming with information, and I was inside the majority of the day, but what a beautiful setting to be in while you learn.


The Wolf Law Building where all of my classes were held

Nestled at the base of the Rocky Mountains at an elevation of about 5,400 feet, this was my first visit to this unique city.  With a population somewhere north of 100,000, Boulder is not unlike many cities with major universities.  There are young people and students everywhere.  There are bookstores and coffee shops.  There is shopping and dining and the pedestrian-friendly Pearl Street Mall downtown.

And then there are numerous local breweries and of course, a few dive bars that are a requisite of any good college town.  One particular bar features tricycle racing on Tuesday nights which in itself is quite the spectacle.  Grown individuals racing against the clock in two-person teams peddling as fast as they can around a makeshift track in the center of the bar with patrons lining the way.

I told one of my banker friends that it reminded me a little of watching the Tour de France when the riders race through heavily populated towns along the way and the people crowd onto the road cheering the riders on to the finish.

Speaking of wheels, what I wasn’t prepared for in Boulder were the amount of two wheeled vehicles.  Bicycles and bicyclists are everywhere.  There are paths and there are  bicycle lanes on the streets, and I’m almost positive every individual in Boulder owns one.  I was nervous half the time just driving around the city trying to be wary of all the two-wheeled vehicles.

“Now the banker is an old man…”

There were 500+ bankers and bank examiners on campus, around town, and of course enjoying a cold beverage of choice, and trike racing.  They were of all ages and origins.  I met individuals from New Hampshire and California and North Dakota and Florida, and everywhere in between.  Most are community bankers from smaller banks that don’t exceed about $1 billion in assets.  There are some exceptions, but for the most part these are community bankers representing their banks from smaller communities and rural areas.

We played golf, went whitewater rafting, and attended a Colorado Rockies baseball game.  There were planned dinners and a battle of events between classes (the first year class was victorious).


My view watching the Rockies lose to the Pittsburgh Pirates

There were people to meet and have lunch with in the C4C (Center for Community) on campus.  Most of all there was knowledge to be gained and skills to learn and information to take back home to make us better at our profession and to make our banks better in our communities.

Continuing education is important regardless of what profession you are in be it an officer of the law, a systems programmer, or just a boring, mild-mannered banker.  You should never stop learning and re-learning the things that make you a better person, a better worker, and a better pillar in the community.

“I would walk through Hell on Sunday, to keep my Rose in Paradise.”

Written by Jim McBride and Stewart Harris, this song was one Waylon’s sixteen #1 hits at the time of its release in 1987.  Singing about a rich, jealous, possibly murderous banker,  and the banker’s wife named Rose, here is Waylon Jennings with “Rose in Paradise.”

Thanks for reading.


the 80’s

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“How Do You Like Him So Far?”

“How do you like his show?” – Loverboy


How bout a scenic photo from a recent vacation stay instead?  Because the only show here is what I pound out on my keyboard or add in the way of pretty pictures!

Sometimes writing is a struggle, a real grind.  I feel like the blinking cursor is an old basketball opponent mocking me at times – you got nothing!  Your sentence structuring sucks!  You call that a complete thought?  Where’s your transition?  Are you really going to write about (fill in the blank)?  Pathetic!  Is that all you got!?  Don’t bring that weak grammar in here!

With every gloating moment of time that passes my confidence wanes and doubt begins to creep in.  I’m turning the ball over.  I’m missing easy shots.  Typos and dangling participles abound!  I need a bucket.  I need a stop.  I need something to get me going… a thought, an idea, a topic.  Wait, I got it… I got it… nah, I got nothing.

Instead, I find it easier to surf the web checking out the news of the day, and reviewing last night’s statistics of my fantasy baseball team that’s been on the rise the past two weeks jumping from 5th to 3rd and just a half point out of 2nd place (I knew you’d be interested to know that).

FullSizeRender 6

Go Moonlight Teddy Grahams!

My family and I are a few weeks removed from a trip to Dauphin Island, Alabama, where we enjoyed the beach and some fine gulf seafood during our stay in this sleepy little place.  If you hate travel pieces then you can just stop right now, because that’s what you’re getting today.

This might not be the highlight-reel slam-dunk I was looking for, but sometimes a nice assist or hustle play will work just fine.  After all, you would think that after 1,500 plus miles of driving and a week spent on the beach, and around the tiny little island I’d have a ton to write about.

For those of you unfamiliar with Dauphin Island, it is a 166 square mile barrier island that was originally named “Massacre Island” by French explorer Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville upon his discovery of a mass grave.  The grave actually turned out to be a burial mound opened up by a recent hurricane.  I can’t believe they wanted to change the name though – how cool is “Massacre Island” I ask!

The island was apparently renamed sometime later for Louis XIV’s great-grandson (and heir) known as the Dauphin (french for dolphin).  Dauphin was a title used for the heir apparent to the throne of France from 1350 to 1791 and again from 1824 to 1830.

This quaint island (connected to the Alabama mainland by the three mile Dauphin Island Bridge) is home to an old military fort (Fort Gaines), a sea lab, an educational aquarium, a bird sanctuary, numerous condos, private houses, and one fabulous bakery.  There are a few local restaurants (our favorites being JT’s Sunset Grill and Dority’s Bar & Grill), and tourist shops scattered throughout the island as well.

(The Lighthouse Bakery was on point and loaded with tons of non-caloric sweets… you just have to think positive while devouring the deliciousness!)

We played on the beach during the day, hunted “ghost crabs” with flashlights at night, and got caught in a torrential downpour riding bicycles one day (ultimately safely finding shelter back at the bike rental place that also doubled as an ice cream and flavored ice place).

The locals we met there were awesome.  In fact, we stayed in a 6th floor condo with a wonderful view that happened to be owned by two island locals (Marcus and Diana) by way of NW Arkansas.  Diana was actually one of our daughter’s pre-K teachers in Springdale many years ago.  We enjoyed a great dinner our last night with Marcus and Diana back across the bridge on the mainland at the Pelican Reef Restaurant.

“How do you like his image?  How do you like his style?”


(My beautiful wife posing at Fort Gains right before this cannon blew the hell out of all those cars down on the beach!  Vivid imagination alert!)

Basically if you like big crowds, lines, lots of traffic, and commercialism then don’t go to Dauphin Island.  You’ll hate it.  Stick to the more well known and touristy Gulf Shores, AL just across the bay.  On the other hand, if you’re ok with a slower pace, less people, less traffic, no chain restaurants (save one little Subway location on the island), and less tourism in general then you might give Dauphin Island a look one day.

The words will come.  The sentences will form.  The post will find completion.  Swish.

“The kid is hot tonight.  Whoa so hot tonight.  But tell me where will he be tomorrow?”


It’s a question we ask of so many and even of ourselves.  Where will he or she be tomorrow?  Where will I be tomorrow?  Will I regret the red leather pants in 30 years?  So many questions, so few answers, but I say the red leather pants still look cool Paul Dean!

I chose this Loverboy hit from 1981 because it just gives me good vibes and helps alleviate any worries I may harbor about tomorrow.  Just forget about tomorrow and live in the present.  I realize that statement drips heavy with irony given the origination of this site was partially due to my love of music that’s approximately 30 years old.

I’m sure Loverboy had some doubts too as to whether they could recreate the success of their first single “Turn Me Loose.”  That single introduced most of us to the Canadian rock band as it turned into a top 40 hit in the U.S. and a top 10 hit in Canada.

“The Kid is Hot Tonite” didn’t break the top 40 in the U.S. for whatever reason, and maybe it created some doubt within the group, but that doubt would be quickly erased by the eight top 40 singles that would follow through 1987.  So, in retrospect, Loverboy really had nothing to worry about.  The biggest concern for the video below had to be lead singer Mike Reno making sure his lip-syncing was on point for this “American Bandstand” “live” performance…

How do you like him so far?  How do you like his show?

Stay hot, and thanks for reading.


the 80’s





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“Born Down in a Dead Man’s Town”

“The first kick I took is when I hit the ground.” – Bruce Springsteen


I’m a hat guy.

I have all kinds of hats – fedoras, flat caps, tons of baseball hats with rounded bills new and vintage, a flat bill baseball hat, and even cowboy hat thrown in for good measure.  I have adjustable hats and fitted hats.  I’ve had hats with chains and polka dots and rips in them.  I just like hats.  My wife will tell you I have too many hats and that I have a lot of shoes too, and she’s right.  I do have more hats though because I don’t have an unlimited clothing budget and we all know hats are less expensive.  Simple mathematics.  Bottom line though – I like and can respect a strong headwear game.

“Born in the U.S.A., I’m a cool rocking daddy in the U.S.A.”

My newest hat is this patriotic one I purchased at a local business called Junk Brands.  The female-owned, Bentonville, Arkansas-based company is probably best known for their large array of headbands, but to quote them, they “have more cool stuff than just headbands.”  Case in point…

Junk 1

I love the design of this hat, so when I stumbled across it online I went down and purchased it ($28.99).  Though a little on the pricey side for an adjustable hat, I had been looking to purchase a patriotic hat the past few months, and the ability to buy and support local was what tipped the scales for me on this purchase.

The friendly guy (should have got a name, but for this post he’ll just have to be “friendly guy” Sorry) behind the counter told me they try to come out with 14 new designs every month.  That seems like a lot of SKU’s (stock keeping units) to me, but I suppose the model is working for them so far.  It must be.  They manufacture their stuff on site with some of the most innovative equipment just a few miles from the world’s largest retailer, and have been in business since 2011 apparently.  That’s what the hat says after all – ESTD MMXI.  Glad I took those Latin classes in high school!

I thought the snap back portion was interesting and different from what I’ve seen on most of my other hats, and the interior band is made with a moisture-wicking fabric to absorb those pesky beads of sweat that originate around my hairline.  I like finding a hat that fits well, but also has something unique about it and I found that with this hat.  The mesh is comfortable (I’ve had mesh hats with the hard, less-giving mesh, and I try to steer clear of those now).

The downside to this positive review is that there is now a good possibility that once they realize a middle-aged white man is writing about how cool Junk Brands is that they may realize the company has peaked or has pushed past its prime.  Lol.  You’re demographic is changing!  Time to sell the company for a nice fat profit!  It’s either that, or they just might need to reinvent themselves into something else kind of like Facebook has since your parents joined making it the un-coolest of all social media platforms, but still a major force in the world today.

Speaking of cool and giving a tip of the cap to part of the reason this blog exists, here is a look at some of the more memorable headwear stars from the illustrious decade of the 80’s:

I could see Axl Rose (middle row bottom) and Bret Michaels (bottom right) being the biggest Junk Brand supporters back in the late 1980’s, and even today for Mr. Michaels as I rarely see that guy without his headband and/or his quasi-cowboy hat resting on top of his dome.


“I’m ten years burning down the road.  Nowhere to run ain’t got nowhere to go.”

Well Bruce that’s a depressing lyric, but hey, a happy July the 4th to you, the reader, anyway!


I’m a hat guy and I’m a Bruce guy, and I also realize this isn’t as patriotic of a song as the title suggests or you may have even been led to believe.  In fact, Bruce wrote it as kind of an anti-anthem about the hardships and unfairness Vietnam veterans encountered upon their return home from the war.  The bitter verses are often just kind of ignored while the chorus is happily taken out of context as proud Americans scream out with exuberance and pride.

For such a serious song I was always amused and perplexed by the very end of this video.  Who thought… “ahh, let’s get a close up of Bruce’s ass… that’ll be the perfect ending!  The ladies will love it!”  Lol.

Yes, I realize it’s also the album cover from that iconic 1984 album, and as Bruce once jokingly described in “Rolling Stone:” “… in the end, the picture of my ass looked better than the picture of my face.”  Classic.  To quote Bruce again (albeit from a different song), “there’s a joke here somewhere and it’s on me.”

Regardless of the reasoning, for your 4th, here is that blue-collar, jean jacket, head-band-wearing legendary voice for the working man, Bruuuuuucccceeee…

“Born in the U.S.A!” 

Don’t blow any limbs off, bring a strong head-wear game today (I will be), and thanks for reading!


the 80’s

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“Every Rose Has Its Thorn”

“Just like every night has its dawn.” – Poison


Some of the best glam-rock hair in the business in 1988

I’ve spent the past few days thinking about and discussing “thorns.”

Also known as unwelcome events, thorns are both literal and figurative, and we all have them in our lives.  There are little thorns that nag us and annoy us.  And then there are big thorns that can cause us discomfort and lingering pain.  We all react differently to them.

The subject of figurative thorns came up as a message in a series at my church, and then again at my weekly men’s study group.  Why do these figurative thorns exist?  Is it man’s fault?  Does God create these thorns?  What do we do with them?

“Was it something I said or something I did?”

What’s the purpose?  Thorns are made to teach us, to shape us, to mold us into the type of person we were made to be.  We start learning about these literal thorns when we’re little – we learn about pain from hot stoves and sharp objects (like actual thorns).  We learn about patience when don’t get our way immediately.  We learn about punishment as a result of our actions.

Thorns also protect.  On a rose bush (of which we have three at my house), they continually remind me – don’t get too close!  Wear your gloves!  Prune me at your own risk!  I also realize these thorns have a job to do – protecting a beautiful flower.  There’s nothing like a rose bush to remind me that absolute beauty can arise anywhere.   Something painful and unsightly can transform into something worthy and beautiful.

Unfortunately though, thorns also can drive wedges.  They can put separation and division into relationships.  They can prevent us from doing things we should be doing.  These thorns are the ones that ultimately strengthen our resolve, but until then they tend to create distance between loved ones and friends and co-workers and even between us and our Creator.  After all, it’s one thing to be taught a lesson in patience perhaps through being “stuck” in an unfulfilling job, but it’s a whole different ballgame when the thorn is a unexpected painful loss of a loved one or child.

“Like a knife that cuts you the wound heals, but the scar, that scar remains”

It was really interesting to see my men’s group, many of whom are very strong in their faith, grappling with their own current-day personal thorns and asking questions as to why.  I consider many of these men veteran, battle-tested men with many years of thorns and scars discussing this topic.  What this told me is that even those with personal relationships with God question things that we may never fully understand.

Even though we may not understand it, I think it’s perfectly fine to question why.  That doesn’t make you any weaker of a person or lacking in faith.  It’s a commonality that binds us and makes us all human.  These questions transcend race and gender and political and sexual orientation.  Even Jesus questioned his father with his dying breath when he said “my God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

Ultimately thorns are what make us stronger if we allow them to.  If we don’t or won’t try to derive some sort of positive gain from these thorns then they can destroy or at least derail us from our purpose.  They can send us down dark paths and into dark places we were never meant to go.  There is a choice though there may not seem like one at the time.  We have to remember that it “rains on the just and unjust alike,” and we have to endure this pain or discomfort for something greater.  We/I have to believe that.  What’s the alternative?

We may not understand the purpose, and it’s awfully easy to feel abandoned and alone like you’re the only one who’s ever struggled with an issue.  That’s a lie.  Recognize your “thorn,” and go ahead and question why it’s happening, and then go seek out a good friend or council.  You may never truly understand the why to a thorn.  It can be frustrating, and that’s ok, but I think faith exists for this very issue.  Faith that something good will come from it.  Faith that the wound will heal or sting less as time wears on.  Faith that your story (no matter how big or small) will matter to someone else someday.


“But now I hear you found somebody new, And that I never meant that much to you”

To many, today’s featured song by the band Poison, ironically, is considered by many the thorn in the glam metal scene of the late 80’s.  Many see this particular song as the beginning of the downfall of the genre.  Though I loved the song (and still do), some of those in the industry (even Poison’s own record label) felt the power ballad was too soft or not the right type of song as it featured a sad, cowboy-hat-wearing Brett Michaels playing his acoustic guitar.  (Sidenote:  I used to be able to play a majority of this song on my acoustic guitar many years ago.  Lol).

The song was released in late 1988 and promptly went to the top of the charts the last two weeks and the first week of 1989.  Shows what “they” know!


The glam metal era was at it’s peak by this time, but was beginning to show cracks in its lifespan as harder rocking groups like Guns N’ Roses and Metallica, alternative acts like Nirvana and Pearl Jam, and rap started arriving on the scene and pushing bands like Poison to the side.  But the boys from Pennsylvania had a great run from 1986 to 1990 charting 10 top 40 hits during that span making them one of the most successful bands of the late 80’s.

This song, apparently written by Poison frontman Brett Michaels after he called his girlfriend from the road on tour late one night and was devastated upon hearing an unfamiliar male voice in the background, is Poison’s only #1 hit.  Reminding us all about relational thorns enjoy this classic today…

Thanks for reading.


the 80’s



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“Be Courageous and Be Brave”

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


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

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

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

My beginning / high school graduation happened 28 years ago.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


Good luck awesome nephew!

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

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

Thanks for reading


the 80’s

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“This Prison Has Now Become Your Home”

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Who can relate to that?  Just everyone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

As always, thanks for reading.


the 80’s


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