“I Know It’s Late”

“I know you’re weary” – Kenny Rogers

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

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

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

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

Here are some of my favorite lines:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mom thought she should have a baton instead of a guitar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading today’s gone country edition.

sincerely,

the 80’s

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“Don’t Say It Ain’t So,”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

sincerely,

the 80’s

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“Feel the Beat of Your Heart”

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

“Feel the wind in your face” – David Barrett

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“And when it’s done, win or lose”

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

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

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

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

“That one shining moment you reached for the sky”

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

“That one shining moment you were willing to try”

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

“One shining moment…”

As always, thanks for reading.

 

sincerely,

the 80’s

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“But Time is Short”

“And the road is long”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“And when it’s done.  Win or Lose…”

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

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

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

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

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

“That One Shining moment you reached deep inside.”

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

“That One Shining moment you knew you were alive”

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

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

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

sincerely,

the 80’s

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Yep, this was a BIG deal in 1980

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you Mr. Jones for your wisdom.

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

sincerely,

the 80’s

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“The Ball is Tipped”

“And there you are.  You’re running for your life.  You’re a shooting star.” – David Barrett

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(Part 1 of a three part series)

Hello March my old friend!  How I love you so every 334 days when you come roaring in like a lion.  I love your cool winds, your lavish green Irish celebrations, and the days that mark my wedding anniversary, my dad’s birthday, and my birthday.  And I love all of your days and nights filled with collegiate basketball.  I believe some refer to it as “March Madness.”  For me, it’s simply roundball therapy at it’s finest, and it helps to restore my sanity from any madness that may result in my professional or personal life.

For those of you that know of my affinity for all things 80’s, one more reason that I love that magical decade is that the single greatest sports anthem of all-time was born in 1986 by an Emmy award-winning Michigan man named David Barrett.  Originally scheduled for use after the Super Bowl in 1987, CBS ran out of time and decided to use it after the NCAA national championship game between Indiana and Syracuse instead.  The rest, as they say, is history.

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“And all the years, no one knows”

This will be the 31st season that the anthem will be used shortly after crowning a new champion.  Coaches and players and fans at the championship game and those all around the country will hush anyone within earshot when the opening notes of “One Shining Moment” start up.  I had a high school basketball teammate (shout out Blake W!) who recorded the first three “One Shining Moment(s)” on his parents’ VCR.  Not the game.  Just the musical montage following the game.  This thing called the world wide web was just a glimmer in young Al Gore’s imagination at that time, and we had no idea that one day we would be able to watch any and every “One Shining Moment” anytime we wanted.  I love the internet sometimes!

“Just how hard you worked, but now it shows..”

In March of 1987 I turned 16 and was a sophomore at West Mid-High in Norman, Oklahoma, and my dad was an assistant basketball coach at the University of Oklahoma. Now, I am a father to a 16 year old of my own.  During the first ever musical montage (that you will see at the end of this post) you get a few glimpses of Sooner players like Dave Sieger and Tony “the Hawk” Martin (many of these same players were one year away from a national championship game appearance of their own).  The Sooners were bounced in the Sweet 16 in 1987 by a very good Tom Davis-led Iowa team that year that featured future NBA pros B.J. Armstrong, Brad Lohaus, Roy Marble, and Kevin Gamble, who hit the game-winner against OU.

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OU Sooner statistics from that 1986-87 team

I don’t consider the college basketball season officially over until the video and song finish every April after that Monday night contest.  Even though it is meant to conclude the NCAA tournament, when I watch it at the beginning of March, it excites me for what lays ahead this month – the players, the coaches, the sheer exhilaration of buzzer-beaters, the painful endings to seasons and careers, and the overall pageantry of it all.

Today’s post features the very first “One Shining Moment” in 1987.  I still remember the game with Indiana’s Keith Smart knocking down the winning jumper in the waning seconds.  I watched the video for the first time in many years, and was surprised to find that 30 years later, “frozen in time,” the video prominently features two coaches who are still coaching today.  One is a young Rick Pitino, who was coaching the Providence Friars to the final four that year, and will try to do the same this year leading a talented Louisville team with national championship aspirations.  The other is the venerable Jim Boeheim of Syracuse, whose Orange lost in the finals to Bobby Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers.  In another tie-in, the Hoosiers were led by Steve Alford, who will be coaching a very talented UCLA squad in this year’s tournament.  So sit back and enjoy the next three minutes featuring the very first “One Shining Moment.”

“One shining moment, it’s all on the line.  One shining moment, there frozen in time…”

Thank you for reading, thank you God for David Barrett, and may your team be on a roll heading into the NCAA tournament.

sincerely,

the 80’s

 

 

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“Clean Shirt,”

“new shoes.  And I don’t know where I am goin’ to.” – ZZ Top

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Spring 1989, by the fireplace in our home in Norman, OK

This is going to be a ridiculous post, so you’ve been warned.  Flee now or read on if you’re so inclined to waste a few minutes on something ridiculous.  Here goes… recently my wife bought me a flat-billed baseball hat when we went to a Needtobreathe concert in Oklahoma City.  I’m warning you again.  This is going to be ridiculous.

Back in October I wrote about this awesome  same-day concert trip to OKC with our friends, the Cherry’s.  My wife and I always try to buy some concert swag whenever we hit these shows.  Well, let’s just say I wasn’t overly thrilled when my wife came back with the hat.  Though I love and have way too many baseball hats (trust me), I now have exactly one flat-billed hat.  In case you didn’t read the concert post, the venue (The Criterion in OKC) is a standing room only venue so you can’t leave your spot (especially if you have a good one like we did) without fear of never getting it back.  So I saved our “spots” while my wife went to the bathroom and made her way by the merch table.  I think my awesome reply when my wife returned with her t-shirt and my new hat was “oh… that’s… cool… um… did you realize it’s a flat bill?”  Not exactly a ringing endorsement dripping with gratitude.

Ever since my younger days I’ve always liked clothes and prided myself on being nicely dressed without being the fanciest.  I wanted to look nice, not overly nice – I didn’t want to invite ridicule and teasing from the guys.  I didn’t want to bring too much attention to myself, but I liked looking nice and color coordinated.  I owe much of that to my mom’s keen style and just the extreme blessing of a family that was able to afford items like nice clothes.  I understood pretty early that not every family could or wanted to spend money on wardrobe like my mom did.  These days my wife will confirm my love of nice clothes and especially baseball hats and shoes.  If I could have an unlimited gift card to Banana Republic and Foot Locker I wouldn’t need to go anywhere else for the rest of my life.

When flat-billed hats first came out I thought “those look stupid.”  After they were out a year or two and baseball teams started embracing them.  I thought “those still look stupid, but some of those guys can pull it off.”  And by “some of those guys” I meant mostly under the age of about 25.  I am a 45 year old banker that considers himself stylish but never really seriously considered buying a flat-billed hat.  Now I have one, and this is the first time I’m wearing it in public.  I’m sitting in Starbucks wearing my flat-billed Needtobreathe hat feeling strangely insecure probably not unlike an 8th grade school girl wearing a new dress to school.

Has anyone noticed?  If so, are they thinking that guy is too old to be wearing that hat?  He looks like a dork!  Does anyone even care?  Hey you sitting over there with your teenage friends pretending to study – look at me!  What do you think?  

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Stupid or stylish?  LOL.  Don’t care now, because I’m sure I’ll continue to wear it occasionally… when I’m feeling young and hip.  By saying “young and hip” I’m proving to myself I have no idea how the actual young and hip say that phrase today. #America

I told you this post was going to be ridiculous, but it just goes to show you’re never too old to feel insecure about your wardrobe.  We care less as we get older.  Ask any gentleman wearing black dress socks and sandals to attest, but part of me is glad that I still do care.  I care enough to feel a little insecure, and that’s not a bad thing.  Heck, it even produced a nearly 1,000 word post.

If nothing else, this post is a dedication to the woman who taught me how to match my clothes, how to look “put together,” and that shoes were an important piece of the wardrobe.  My mom personally helped keep food not only on our table, but on the table of Ralph Lauren through the 80’s and into the 90’s.  She loved that little polo man and I learned to love him too.

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You can barely make the little polo man on my long sleeve plaid shirt at my home in Norman, OK.

I don’t know if anyone noticed or even cared about my hat while I was sitting in Starbucks banging out this post, but my wife cared and noticed as I left the house.  She called me “P Diddy” as I left the house tonight, and then added “you look cute.”  She’s the only one that really matters to me anyway, because I married a woman who loves and appreciates a nice wardrobe more than I do.

“Black shades, white gloves.  Lookin’ sharp, lookin’ for love.”

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Senior prom – May, 1989.

I won’t be confused with the poor sap in today’s song/video, but this hit is a classic from 1983 from guys that were rocking their own form of style.  These guys make the “Duck Dynasty” guys look like baby-faced kids.  With their wonderful, flowing beards, Dusty Hill and Billy Gibbons were the recognizable faces of ZZ Top.  Joined by drummer Frank Beard (ironically the most clean shaven of the group), ZZ Top had quite a bit of success producing numerous hits especially between 1983-1986.  This is one of their most recognizable and famous songs.  If my looks couldn’t draw the girls when I was growing up (which they rarely did), then I always hoped they’d come running just as fast as they can, cause every girl crazy bout a “Sharp Dressed Man.”

As always, thanks for reading and wear your favorite shoes today.

sincerely,

the 80’s

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“No Need to Worry. No Need to Cry.”

“I’m your Messiah and you’re the reason why.” – Prince

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Prince is pointing at and talking to u.

Recently I completed a 2 week fast that I’ve been participating in with other members of the church I attend.  It’s not necessarily a no-food-at-all fast, but I chose to fast food from sunup 2 sundown everyday 4 two weeks.  One of my friends jokingly asked me if I was observing Ramadan (an Islamic celebration that also includes fasting from sunup 2 sundown).  He works 4 a large corporation that makes its’ living largely by selling poultry around the world.  He was on a no-meat fast so I started referring 2 him as a Vegan, and thought about endorsing him on Linkedin 4 his vegetarian ways.  I didn’t though.  It was all in good fun.

“You’re just a sinner I am told.  Be your fire when you’re cold.”

When you’re skipping a meal and snacks throughout the day time does not fly by, and that’s a good thing.  The fast is supposed 2 make you a little uncomfortable.  You’re supposed to stop and think and reflect and pray when those hunger pains hit.  I wasn’t listening 2 Prince to divert my attention from being hungry if you think that’s where I’m somehow going with this post.  I was actually listening to Matt Redman and “10,000 Reasons” every morning during this time.

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Matt Redman is also pointing and talking to you.  He’s practically just like Prince!

Everyone, sing along with Matt!  “Bless the Lord, oh my soul.  Oh my soul, worship His holy name…”  Love that song.

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“I’m not a human.  I’m a dove.  I’m your conscious.  I am love.  All I really need is to know that you believe.”

Wow.  Spiritual imagery anyone?

Anyway, because of the fast, I got out of bed earlier than normal those two weeks.  I was up no later than 6:30, and on most days I was up by 6.  That might not be early for some of you, but for me it is.  Because of this our dog now starts whimpering and whining very lowly around 6 am in her room and it increasingly grows stronger.  By 6:30 it becomes unbearable and I let her out 2 go 2 the bathroom.  The main thing is she knows it is time 2 eat.  She’s hungry.  I was hungry every afternoon for two weeks.

But on the last afternoon of my fast, this particular Prince song came on the radio as I was driving back to the office from an appointment.  It got me thinking about the lyrics (populated throughout this post), and Prince’s use (intentionally or not) of spiritual imagery throughout the song.  It’s really very interesting considering what a huge pop hit this was 4 the Purple One back in the winter of 1984-85.

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I can still remember the 8th grade girls at Whittier, many names and faces now a blur, but they were wearing their black Madonna fingerless gloves, and cool shades, walking around with their cool friends.  They were singing this cool song (8th grade was very cool, alright?), and using the hand gestures associated with it.  If you paid attention at all in 1984 then you know what I’m talking about – point to your eye or use your pinky finger or both (I), make a fist (would), point a gun at your head (die), show four fingers (for), and then point at the person you’re singing to (you).  I would die 4 u.  Darling if u want me 2!

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“Purple Rain” would be the pinnacle of a spectacular career 4 an other-worldly musician.  My appreciation 4 his talent grew the older I became and the more I read or saw about him and his ability to play many instruments proficiently as well as writing, singing, arranging, etc.  His guitar playing on a performance of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” along with Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, and Steve Winwood at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2004 was incredible.  He really was an enigma in many ways, but aside from his in-your-face sexuality, and his eccentricities he was above all a musical prodigy, and a cultural phenomenon during his peak in the 80’s and early 90’s.

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You can see how popular Prince was based on a survey of a bunch of middle schoolers back in 1984!

I read that Prince became more spiritual in the years before he died.  He was a Jehovah’s Witness, which to me is a strange Christian denomination.  Sorry, but if you choose not 2 celebrate Christmas, Easter, or birthdays (among many other strange customs and beliefs) then I am out.  Apparently it fit Prince, and I hope he achieved some sense of peace practicing it.  Personally Jehovah’s Witnesses remind me of someone using their GPS and in cruise control on an interstate, but then making an abrupt exit off the highway because “they know a better way.”  Just stay on the right road man!  Come back!  Come back!

Strange the things that pop into my head during a fast.  I was hungry.  I fed myself with scripture and teachings and prayer and I’m a better person 4 it.  And a post about Prince with a splash of Matt Redman came from it as well.  How many posts have you read where those 2 are mentioned together!?  LOL.  If you think me a little strange or odd, then perhaps…

“I am something that you’ll never comprehend.”

Here is a live performance of the late, great Prince Nelson Rogers and one of my top 5 Prince songs ever… “I Would Die 4 U”

As always, thanks 4 reading

sincerely,

the 80’s

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“Years May Come and Go”

“Here’s one thing I know…” – Jackson Browne & Clarence Clemons

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I’m having a hard time concentrating today, and it’s not because tomorrow is the national holiday that celebrates a large, ugly, rodent who will dictate the remaining length of our winter.  No, today’s post was spurred on because a co-worker announced her resignation today.  I thought about writing this post months ago after another friend left the organization for a different job out of state, but for whatever reason this post just never made it into words… until now.

Today is actually the third time in the last 12 months I’ve lost a favorite co-worker of mine who has decided to move on to a new job, and it sucks.  Natalie left today and everyone in the bank let out a collective sigh of disappointed resignation.  Make no mistake, I am not disappointed for her or the others that have left in the last 12 months.  I’m happy for them and their families, and the opportunity that lies ahead.  It’s an exciting and anxious time in their lives.  I’m disappointed for me.  I’m sad for me.  Everyone that’s ever worked somewhere with good, talented people knows what that’s like.  It happens in every profession everyday.  It’s nothing unique, but it feels like the end of a little era.  Changes like this make me stop for a moment and reflect, and wonder how the hell it went by so quickly.  And it also makes me a little sad to know that it won’t ever be the same.  I also wonder to myself:  what did that time together produce?

I met Ron the first day I started with my current employer in April 2013.  With a hearty laugh, a servant’s heart, and a mild resemblance to Larry Bird (ironically, Ron is from Indiana and actually helped to run Larry Bird’s charity golf tournament), I liked him immediately.  We went on numerous sales calls and lunches and I was always amazed at his ability to never meet a stranger.  This is a gift, and it’s not one I possess, but I took mental notes and found inspiration in his ability to quickly make “life-long” friends.  With a fondness for certain phrases, anyone who knows Ron knows some of his favorites, and I’m no different.  He might mention how he “played basketball poorly at USC” or he might talk about his spirituality and his lack of fear of dying – “we’re all in line, but I’m not volunteering to move up.”  Sometimes it was his way of looking at business transactions – “what you don’t make on the peanuts, you make up for on the popcorn.”  If Ron likes and respects you then he might describe you as an “absolute rockstar” to anyone who would listen.  Well, Ron will always be a rockstar in my book, and the next two former co-workers (it’s still strange to me referring to these three as “former co-workers”) are rockstars to me as well.

I worked with Ruston for the better part of 10 years and we became closer and closer friends as the years wore on.  He served as my loan coordinator for most of those years, which was a role he quickly became overqualified for.  Nonetheless I loved our daily conversations that might be about family or work or just something ridiculous.  He taught me a lot about patience and just enjoying the moment.  We had hundreds of talks through the years and the majority of them contained laughs.  Many of those laughs happened while we ate lunch together as well (especially the last few years we worked together).  It was always a pleasure to be around him whether we were chowing down on a “Slim’s plate,” at Slim Chickens, or “The Heisman” at Billy Sims BBQ (which ironically closed down shortly after Ruston took another job and moved out of town).  We never missed a chance to share our lives with each other and make each other laugh.  We still communicate often but I miss the daily chats.  My family was at the hospital for the birth of his first two children (Brandt & Nora), and only missed the third one (Ansley) because we were out of town.  I helped him load the moving truck his final day in NW Arkansas and told his dad what an outstanding son he and his wife raised.  He’s humble, kind, someone I would trust with my life, and just an all-around good man.  I’m forever grateful for the days we spent working together.

I worked with Natalie for only about three years, but it was a fun three years.  She infused energy and fun and creativity into work from day one.  We commiserated over boring banking events and laughed at the inane ridiculous inefficiencies that sometimes go along with the job.  We bonded over community events, meetings, a love of our families, and daily pop culture happenings.  My wife and I visited her and her husband after the birth of their second son, Witten.  Though I’m anti-Dallas Cowboys, I just can’t find it within me anymore to cheer against Jason Witten when the Cowboys are playing.  With basketball being my favorite sport I’ve been enjoying the recent weekly updates on her oldest, Brody (or as I now call him – “LeBrody James” after a recent 30 point performance in his Upward Basketball league game).  I am already planning my first trip to see a game at the P.G. gym.  I want it to be when LeBrody begins playing varsity basketball for the Tigers, and I honestly can’t wait for that day.  I’m sure I’ll blink and it will be here in no time, and our three years will be but a blip in time becoming harder and harder to recall as the years pass.  The definition of a shooting star in our industry, I have no doubts that Natalie will be running her own successful bank or business one day if that’s the path she chooses.

“Know that I intend to be the one who always makes you laugh until you cry”

People come and go through your life all the time.  I still work with many great people who continue to make work fun day in and day out.  Working with someone for many years makes you wonder sometimes if you see them more than your family.  You become invested in their lives.  It’s just a natural byproduct of being interested and learning about your fellow co-workers.  You listen to their problems.  You celebrate the good times and you empathize during the sad times.  You’re there with them during monumental moments in their lives – weddings, births, promotions, deaths, etc.  You start caring for these people like they’re actually family members, and in many ways they are.

I asked at the beginning of this post what that time together produced?  That’s pretty easy.  It produced a better me.  Three unique individuals who I dearly love are now all a part of the fabric of my life here on earth.  Every time I see one of those quilts that has passed down from generation to generation with patches and notations all over it I think that’s what our lives are like.  We meet new people everyday.  We strike up relationships and we enjoy moments in time together.  These people and events impact our lives in different ways at different times.  I now have a patch of Ron and of Ruston and of Natalie sewn onto my hypothetical quilt, and I’m so very thankful for that.

“All my life, you’re a friend of mine”

(Personal note:  I’ve told each of you before, but it’s worth repeating – it was great fun working with each of you, good luck wherever this amazing thing called life takes you, and know that wherever you go and whatever you do I’ll be cheering for you.)

In keeping with the theme of this blog, today’s featured video features the duet between Jackson Browne and the late, great “Big Man,” Clarence Clemons.  It was a top 20 hit in 1985 and drips of 80’s deliciousness.  It features the actress Darryl Hannah (Browne’s girlfriend at the time) in the video holding a bulky 80’s VHS video recorder, and she actually sings background vocals on the song.  It’s a campy little video and song, but the message is simple and genuine, and I’m dedicating it to three of my favorite co-workers.

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“I Had a Dream”

“I had an awesome dream.”

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This is one of those posts entirely spontaneous with no clear cut direction that I hope rides a wave of momentum spurred on by the great 80’s jheri curl of one Lionel Brockman Richie Jr.  The lyrics quoted above have always stood out to me every time this song has played since it’s debut over 30 years ago in 1985.  Lionel didn’t just have a dream, he had an AWESOME dream.  Occasionally when I have a dream I can actually remember I will tell my wife… ‘I had a dream… no, I had an awesome dream!’ just to pay tribute to one of the great voices and lines from an 80’s song.

It’s very applicable in your everyday life as well:

I had a lunch… I had an awesome lunch…

I had a customer phone call… I had an awesome customer phone call…

I had a bathroom break… I had an awesome bathroom break…

Try it sometime.  Though I love the lyrical line, the song is not my favorite Lionel song by any means (“Stuck on You” solo and “Sail On” with The Commodores hold those honors), and the lyrics are, well, corny at best, but the sentiment and the actual message are solid.

“It’s time to start believing oh yes.  Believing who you are.  You are a shining star.”

This song was featured in the commercially successful movie “White Nights.”  Remember that movie?  Me neither, but that’s only because I never saw it.  Oh I’ve seen bits and pieces on cable tv through the years, but I’ve never sat through an entire showing of it.  I was only 14 when the movie debuted and it was about a couple of shining star ballet dancers (Gregory Hines and Mikhail Baryshnikov) as far as I knew.  It wasn’t ever going to be very high on my “must see” list.

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No offense to ballet dancers, but it just wasn’t my thing back in 1985

Dancing movies were big in the 80’s.  You had the hit movies like “Footloose,” “Flashdance,” and “Dirty Dancing,” and you had a slew of other dance movies as well like “Grease 2,” “Stayin’ Alive,” “Breakin’,” “Fame,” and “A Chorus Line” just to name a few more so there was nothing unusual at all about a film starring two really good ballet dancers.

“As we go down life’s lonesome highway.  Seems the hardest thing to do is to find a friend or two.”

Is life really a lonesome highway?  Depends upon what stage of life you’re in I guess, but I haven’t been on too many lonesome highways in my life.  I’ve been on a few, but for the most part highways are noisy, crowded, and obstacle-infused death-traps that I loathe.  But finding a friend or two?  I don’t think it’s the hardest thing to do, because we were made for relationships.  Now, to have good ones may take a little more work and can definitely be hard at times, but I also believe these relationships are the best things about our time on this planet.

I write about relationships and friends a lot on this blog.  It’s probably because the subject matter is so important to me, and in my opinion, what make life so worth getting up everyday with an expectancy and an anticipation as to what lies ahead.  We experience all kinds of joys and pains in life, and we need those relationships because they make the pain a little less painful and the joy a little more joyful.

“Say you, say me it for always.  Oh that’s the way it should be”

I will say it for always, Lionel!  This song, that line about having an awesome dream, the movie I never saw, some of the best hair of the 80’s, a #1 hit, an Academy Award and  Golden Globe award-winning song.  I’m thankful for it all, and I’m thankful for the music of Lionel Richie.  The video for “Say You, Say Me…”

Remember that you are a shining star, and be thankful for all of those wonderful relationships you have, you have had, and you are going to have, because that is what is really important.

Have a great day.  No, have an AWESOME day!

sincerely,

the 80’s

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