We're a geek couple living in PA with our two boys -- Milo and Otis -- who are short, orange, and furry. Oh, and they're the cats we're bookended by! We love music, movies, TV, comics, books, and comic cons. And, from time to time, we'll share our thoughts on these nerdy things.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Friday 80s Flashback for October 13, 2017

[October Sting] -- I thought about doing a more spooky theme for that rare occasion that the Flashback crosses paths with Friday the 13th, but I wasn't in the mood. But then I found that Sting's second solo album, ...Nothing Like the Sun, was released on this very day in 1987. That means one of my favorite records turned 30 today! This release finds Sting continuing the pop-jazz explorations of his fantastic debut album, The Dream of the Blue Turtles (1985), but stretching his chops to mix in a little reggae and funk as well as some standard acoustic, rock, and dance elements. All five singles from the album charted, with two peaking as top 40 hits. The album peaked at #9 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and and #52 on U.S. Billboard R&B Albums. And if the songs themselves weren't enough to merit this album's place in my heart, then the story of how Sting named it surely would do the job. The title comes from from Shakespeare's Sonnet No. 130, which Sting had used in response to a wandering drunk who kept accosting him with the question: "How beautiful is the moon?" You can read that brief story in the November/December 1987 edition of Spin. And for this week's selections, you can read and hear more after the jump. 

Friday, September 29, 2017

Friday 80s Flashback for September 29, 2017

[TNG for the Masses] -- On 9/28/1987, the first new television episode of a Star Trek series was beamed into our television sets.Thirty years agoStar Trek: The Next Generation (ST:TNG or just TNG for short) introduced a new crew and a new ship with "Encounter at Farpoint." It was a clunky and awkward birth, but the basic elements were there: A stalwart captain, a dedicated first officer, and a top notch doctor. Other original series elements took on a slight twist: The alien on the bridge was a Klingon raised by humans, not a Vulcan-Human hybrid; the most logical officer was an android seeking humanity, not a Vulcan-Human hybrid; and the sensing bridge officer was an empathic half-Betazoid, not a telepathic ... well, you get the idea.

But, as big a Trek fan as I am, I usually deal with music here for the Friday 80s Flashback. And so I continue in that vein this week. You see, there was an album released on the very same day as the TNG premiere: Depeche Mode's sixth studio album, Music for the Masses. If you know me, you might be surprised to learn that I don't recall if I saw the first broadcast of "Encounter at Farpoint," but I very much recall purchasing a vinyl copy of Music for the Masses. It was the first Depeche Mode record that I purchased fresh on its release date.

So, now, you have a choice. You can celebrate Star Trek: The Next Generation and listen to music from the series. Or, you can check out a few tracks from Music for the Masses. To go with that latter choice, read and hear more after the jump. 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Friday 80s Flashback for September 22, 2017

[Cowboy George] -- The other day, "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?" by Culture Club was playing in the office cafeteria. It was still wafting through the speakers as I walked up to pay for my lunch. The cashier, who had been singing along with Boy George, told me, "I want to karaoke with him."

"Who?" I asked. "Boy George?"

"No. Jimmy ... something ... I think." She replied.

And that launched a brief exchange in which we finally uncovered that she wanted to do Carpool Karaoke with James Corden. With that sorted, I told her, "All I could think of was that time Culture Club appeared on an episode of The A-Team." Well, it was quickly obvious that neither the cashier nor anyone else in line remembered that particular cameo. The cashier was shocked: "No! The show with George Peppard? For real?" Yes, for real. This pop culture gem was "Cowboy George" (Season 4, Episode 16) with an air date of February 11, 1986, according to IMDb.

Now, I won't go through a recap. If you're interested in that, you can find a great one here. No, I'm going to delve into some music, of course. Can you guess which Culture Club tunes made the cut this week? Well, read and hear more after the jump. 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Friday 80s Flashback for September 16, 2017 (On a Saturday)

[Sun City] -- December 1985 saw the release of "the most political of all of the charity rock albums of the 1980s" (per AllMusic). I wrote about it on it's 30th anniversary, but given what we're seeing in the news on a regular basis, I think now is a good time to revisit it. It's a damn good reminder of how far we've come ... and how much further we still have to go ... as a society.

Sun City (1985) was a protest album driven by Steven Van Zandt (perhaps best known for his affiliation with  Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band) and Artists United Against Apartheid. The name pretty much tells you what the group was all about. They recorded two versions of the song, "Sun City," and other material for this album. The personnel assembled by Van Zandt reads like a who's who of popular and critically acclaimed artists of the mid-80s. For example:
  • Little Steven (Van Zandt) – vocals, guitar, drum programming
  • Kool DJ Herc, Peter Wolf, Pat Benatar, Joey Ramone, Jimmy Cliff, Daryl Hall, Lou Reed, Jackson Browne, Bob Dylan, Nona Hendryx, Kashif, Peter Garrett, Malopoets, Gil Scott-Heron, Afrika Bambaataa, RubĂ©n Blades, Bono, George Clinton, Peter Gabriel, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Grandmaster Melle Mel, Bonnie Raitt, Run DMC, Bruce Springsteen, John Oates, Michael Monroe, Darlene Love, The Fat Boys, and others – vocals
  • Zak Starkey, Tony Williams, Ringo Starr – drums
  • Sonny Okosuns – talking drums
  • Keith LeBlanc, Benjamin Newman – drum programming
  • Pete Townshend, Stanley Jordan, Keith Richards, Ron Wood – guitars
  • L. Shankar – double violin
  • Clarence Clemons – saxophone
  • Miles Davis – trumpet
  • Herbie Hancock, Richard Scher, Robby Kilgore, Zoe Yanakis – keyboards
  • Doug Wimbish – bass; Ron Carter – acoustic bass
  • Jam Master Jay, DJ Cheese – scratches
Sun City didn't achieve great commercial success, but it did peak at #31 on the Billboard 200 pop albums chart. It did, however, receive critical acclaim in abundance, reaching #5 on the Pazz & Jop Critics Poll (yes, that's really the name) for albums for that year. 

Friday, September 8, 2017

Friday 80s Flashback for September 8, 2017

[Flashbackiversary!] -- I started posting the Friday 80s Flashback on September 3, 2010. That's seven years ago as of last week! From 9/3/2010 through 4/29/2016, I made these Flashback posts over at Prophet or Madman. On 6/24/2016, I moved the Flashbacks here to Bookended by Cats. This may be surprising to you, but my very first flashback had no commentary whatsoever. It didn't even have a theme! The weekly theme didn't become part and parcel of the flashback until the fourth entry, on September 24, 2010 (a two-fer: Angry Edition and Uplifting Edition). Sample lyrics first appeared in the November 5, 2010, flashback (Politics Schmolotics). And header images made their debut with the December 10, 2010, flashback (Winter Holidays: Week 2).

So, do you remember what songs I featured seven years ago this week? It might be fun to revisit them, so read and hear more after the jump!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Friday 80s Flashback for September 1, 2017

[School Daze] -- Have you noticed a disturbing trend on Facebook over the past week or so? I'm not talking about storms or politics. I'm talking about the fact that parents are posting "1st day of school" photos! Now, I was initially confused because I thought the kids had recently just been let out of school for the Summer. Fortunately, the confusion was lessened slightly because July's back-to-school sales had already taken me well off guard. But, of course, Summer ends with this weekend's Labor Day holiday. People are already dreaming of pumpkin-spice everything, and even champing at the bit for sweater weather. So, how about we observe this not quite subtle schedule shift with some 80s songs about school? If you like that plan, you can read and hear more right after the jump. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

Observing the Kirby Centennial

August 28, 2017, marks 100 years since Jacob Kurtzberg came into this world. Of course, we all know him better under the name he chose as he honed his profession: Jack Kirby. And he was one of the greatest storytellers ever to put pen to paper!

All this month – even starting last month during San Diego Comic Con – comic book veterans and fans have been paying loving tribute to the man known as the “King” of comics. I cannot hope to approach the quality of their tributes, particularly not in terms of addressing the breadth of Kirby’s influence. Nor can I shed new light regarding his biography. So, for details about Kirby’s place in history, as well as his own history, I will share a few links that more than satisfactorily address those topics (at the end of this post).

But I do feel the need to offer some words on this date, to participate in this grand celebration. So, I will simply share how I came to know the King’s work and what it means to me. Now, I was a child of the 70s, so my earliest comic memories date back to only about 1974. Therefore, I missed Kirby's work in comics' Golden Age, launching the Marvel universe, and creating the Fourth World. However, I was acquainted with some of his work through reprints and recycling. Here are the books that form my earliest memories of Jack Kirby, even though I did not know him by name until a decade or so after I had first read them.