Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Bullying, Repentance and Forgiveness

Here's a non-nostalgia related post, but I feel its important to post.

Its a report about a high school bully who reached out to his victim 20 years later, and offered a long belated apology.  The former bully decided to apologize after talking with his own child about bullying, and realizing that he had to admit that he himself had been a bully. The apology, as late as it was, had a positive effect. 

I'm posting this because it struck a cord with me.  Bullying can leave wounds that last a long time. Its easy for those who have not experienced extreme bullying, or those who have done the bullying, to act like it was no big deal. But if you've been a victim of severe physical or psychological mistreatment, you know it stays with you for years to come.

It takes guts for a former bully to acknowledge past bad behavior, and to apologize to their victims.  This is hard when the behavior is recent, and maybe even more so when the behavior is long past and could be easily forgotten and "swept under the rug."  It also takes courage for the victims to forgive the mistreatment that happened to them.

If anyone reading this was a former bully, I encourage you to think back on what you did, and see if you can locate a former victim and apologize to them.  And if you are a former victim (as I was), I encourage you to forgive.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Tom Petty and David Bowie with '80s Psychedelia

Check out this 1985 Tom Petty video for the song "Don't Come Around Here No More," with an Alice In Wonderland theme.  A bit of '80s psychedelia which I remember being commented on by radio music station DJs.

And not to be outdone, here's David Bowie's Salvador Dali-esque video for "Loving The Alien."  This one actually came out a year before Petty's song, in 1984.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Cop and Action Shows . . . For My Mom

Since its Mother's Day, I'm going to dedicate today's post to my mom. 

My mother used to be a major fan of cop and action type shows back during the '80s. So, my tribute to her comes in the form of memories from those shows she loved so much way back then. 

Magnum P.I.  was one of them. She used to avidly watch this show whenever it was on. The theme song and visuals bring back quite a lot of memories from the early '80s. 

Here's another one of my Mom's favorites... Simon and Simon.  I didn't watch this one so much, but I remember that catchy theme song.

And Hart to Hart.  My mom used to get so much pleasure out of the action and the good guys vs. bad guys plots of these. 

She was in her own life a much more down-to-earth woman, a schoolteacher at the local high school, devoted to her faith in God, and to her family.  I am blessed to have had so many memories of my mom . . . family memories when we were out doing things together.  There were also moments of misunderstanding and disagreement, as there always are among people who love one another. In the end, I focus on the positive, the good memories.

My mom passed away back in 2003, after a long struggle with cancer.  I dedicate this post to her, and take hope in my belief that we will be ultimately reunited.  Here's to you, mom.

I recommend support for the American Cancer Society, and suggest a donation to them if you could.

Friday, May 8, 2015

RePost: Where Everybody Knows Your Name

This is a re-post of a post which originally appeared September 29, 2011.

When I was a teen, growing up in the '80s, one of my most comforting memories was of the opening credits to the popular TV show Cheers. Although I sometimes watched the show, and enjoyed it, I was never as big a Cheers fanatic as so many other people.  

But the opening credits were always a must see for me. The theme song itself was part of the attraction. It begins by noting the taxing nature of modern life (in the '80s), which "takes everything you've got," and then segues into the catchy refrain about wanting to be "where everybody knows your name."

But just as appealing were the montage of images which appeared along with the song, a series of pictures of people seemingly enjoying the pleasures of being at a pub, with its drinks and social life. The pictures all have a historical quality to them, lending the sense that such activity has occurred through time, and continues to the time of the program . . . the '80s and early '90s.

There is one photo, for example, which has people in a bar with drinks, with one man holding up a newspaper which reads "WE WIN" in all captal letters. Growing up, I had thought that the headline referred to the end of World war II, but it in fact refers to the end of Prohibition. In restrospect, this seems all the more appropriate given that the show takes place in a drinking establishment. 

Another photo shows a group of young males of another era, perhaps college kids, all trying to look dapper and sophisticated.

I always thought that the combination of words and music put forth the idea that time passes, but certain things remain the same. That so many things have come and gone through time and history, and that here we were, in the '80s, taking our place in time. Yet, some things were constant, through it all. Through it all, don't we all really want to sometimes go to a place "where everybody knows your name."

Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got.
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.

Wouldn't you like to get away?

Sometimes you want to go

Where everybody knows your name,
and they're always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows
Your name.

Friday, May 1, 2015


In my two most recent posts, I described my '80s-era love of the comic strips Bloom County and The Far Side. As I noted, they were a part of my daily routine, and brought to my day some quirky, oddball humor that was distinctly '80s.

There was also one more comic that I read daily, except it was less cutting edge in its style.  The strip was the relatively mild, "down to earth" Garfield, which featured a lazy, fat lasagna-loving feline.  I found the strip's light humor enjoyable, however, especially since my own family actually had a cat (a Garfieldish yellow-orange striped cat, no less) which had a personality very much like the strip's protagonist. My mother, in particular, would comment that the strip so accurately captured the feline personality.   

Back in the '80s, Garfield  was very popular, and you saw the character everywhere. Here, for example, he's featured in a hotel commercial from 1987.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Far Side

My last post celebrated one of my most well remembered '80s comics, Bloom County. But the 1980s were a great time for newspaper comics, and for a certain zippy oddball quirkiness that seemed to be present in culture. Bloom County was one example of this, but there were others too.  

The Far Side  was a single-panel comic that exhibited a wonderfully bizarre sense of humor. 

I'm not sure exactly how unusual The Far Side would seem today, but back in the '80s, they brought forth a refreshing sense of absurdity. 

Along with Bloom County, The Far Side was one of my daily "must reads" in the comic pages of the paper. And it was a comic that, seriously, once read, often remained in my mind for the rest of the day. It was one of the things that defined my teen years in the oddball colorful '80s, and it was one of the things that got me through my adolescence . . . the humor and the sense of absurdity about life and culture and reality.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Bloom County

Back in the '80s, one of my daily routines was to read the comics section of the paper. And the '80s were an excellent time to read the comics. One of my fave comics was Bloom County, a topical comic full of outlandish characters who made light of the culture of the eighties.  It featured an oddball menagerie of characters, such as the hapless Opus the penguin (or "flightless waterfowl" as he would characterize himself) who found himself in any number of odd situations. When life became too intense, there was always the dandelion patch to retreat to.

Bloom County would frequently make me laugh out loud... and often, I would remember the comic throughout the day. While I was in many a high school class, I would often struggle to stifle a laugh from the memory of some Bloom County strip I had read earlier.. I found it that funny.

In addition to Opus, the characters included smarmy attorney Steve Dallas, young newspaper editor Milo Bloom, and the catatonic feline Bill the Cat. Bill's verbiage was limited to monosyllabic guttural responses, as shown in the above strip.

There was a sensitive young boy named Michael Binkley, who had an "anxiety closet" containing his worries. I always thought this was wonderful metaphor for the real life worries that kids (and adults) have.  

And there was a young genius named Oliver Wendell Jones, who was frequently seen in front of his computer.  At one point, he hacked into the Soviet newspaper Pravda, where he attempted to further peace by posting the fake headline "Gorbachev Urges Disarmamant: Total! Unilateral!", but his faulty translation of Russian made it instead "Gorbachev Sings Tractors: Turnips! Buttocks!"

Anyway, Bloom County started in 1980, and grew and evolved with the decade, finally posting its last strip in 1989. Afterward, the comic's creator Berkely Breathed produced a follow up strip called Outland in the '90s, and an Opus strip in the 2000's.  But I (and many others) remember most fondly those wonderful '80s era Bloom County strips. It provided an opportunity to laugh at the '80s culture and happenings around us, both good and bad, in a thoughtful and good natured spirit.  

It gently dealt with all the stuff in all our '80s anxiety closets, and when things got too intense, we could always seek refuge in that dandelion patch in our own minds.