Bookended by Cats was named after Milo and Otis. They are the short, orange, and furry brothers who, upon entering our lives in 2003, often bookended us on our couch. And who are we? We're a geek couple living in PA. 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, March 20, 2020

Friday 80s Flashback for March 20, 2020


[Apocalyptic Dance Party] -- I know. I know. Times are strange right now with COVID-19 sweeping the public consciousness and people ready to sell a kidney for toilet paper (not their own kidney, of course, but I digress). So, why would I bother with posting an 80s Flashback? Actually, the better question is, "Why wouldn't I?" Hence the Apocalyptic Dance Party theme. These songs have, or attempt to have, some combination of (post-)apocalyptic lyrics, fashion, or music video. And this is a longer playlist than usual because I tinkered with it over the course of today. Can you guess which tunes show up today after the jump? And be certain to dance like no one is watching -- and if you stay far enough away from everyone, then no one really can watch you! 

Friday, March 13, 2020

Friday 80s Flashback for March 13, 2020



[Breathe - Redux] -- OK. seven years ago this week, this very day, I had to drive from Bucks County, PA, to the Cleveland Clinic to see my father. Dad was sent there after he had been admitted to the local ER with difficulty breathing, particularly in pushing out carbon dioxide. After a consult with his doctors in Cleveland, where his bone marrow transplants had been performed, the decision was made to life-flight him to the Clinic and place him in the cardiac ICU. The morning after he was sent to the Clinic, I packed up the car, drove across PA, picked up my mother, and finished a 9+ hour drive by checking into the Inter-Continental Suite Hotel in Cleveland. At the outset of this trip, we had expected Dad to be in the Clinic for several days. Instead, we found that we were to spend the rest of March in Cleveland. After my first week at the Clinic, I settled on "Breathe" as the theme for my Friday 80s Flashback of 3/22/13 . The reason for this theme will become apparent after you read the original intro for that Flashback which is re-posted here in its entirety. And, "Breathe" also seems an appropriate theme for a week in which we've been bombarded with COVID-19 related news and updates, particularly cancelations and postponements of large events. So, if you can spare several minutes, read my post from 2013 and enjoy the three embedded music videos. Well, at least enjoy the videos.   

Those of you who follow me on Twitter, or know me in some other way (either virtual or IRL), know that I have been out of town visiting my father in the ICU. He was admitted last Tuesday evening due to shortness of breath. Since admission, he has been shuttled between two different ICU departments (cardiac and medical), undergone a battery of tests, and subjected to intubation -- with that last one occurring twice! The various doctors and experts on staff seem to know what the problem is -- Dad's muscles are too weak to properly ventilate -- but they don't know the "why" of the problem, or how to reverse it ... yet. So, as you can well imagine, breathing has been very much on my mind lately. Unfortunately, the kind of breathing I have in mind isn't exactly enshrined in 80s tunes. But I'll do my best to deal with this week's theme as well as support my family during this medical crisis. If you want to know what made the playlist this week, you can read and hear more after the break.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Friday 80s Flashback for March 6, 2020



[This Month is True] -- In March of 1983, Spandau Ballet released their third studio album, True, and nothing was ever the same for them. This was the record that earned them international notoriety, particularly with the one-two punch of the hit title track and "Gold" (both of which I still own on 45!). Often filed under Smooth Jazz as often as they are labeled as pop, New Wave, or synth-pop, Spandau Ballet were an early standard bearer of the New Romantic movement. And True gave the band their first #1 album in the UK as well as a top 20 album on the US Billboard 200. After the title track peaked at #1 in the UK Singles Chart and #4 on the US Billboard Hot 100, their follow-up, "Gold," reached #2 in the UK and cracked the top 30 in the US. But by the time their next album, Parade (1984), rolled around, the US record buying public was no longer enamored by New Romantics. Still, for one shimmering month, Spandau Ballet were international radio juggernauts. And "True" can still evoke fond memories of days when radio and MTV were more than magical. 

Monday, March 2, 2020

That Time John Constantine Tricked a Hobo

Without going into too much or spoilery detail, I want to share a pitch-perfect panel from John Constantine: Hellblazer #4. This issue -- part of the new Hellblazer series on DC Comics' imprint, Black Label -- came out last week and it's as close to evoking the spirit of the old Vertigo run as I've seen. But it's also somewhat fresh.

In #4, we find John Constantine enduring some fan-worship, and possibly some unintentional oneupmanship, from a hipster mage named Tommy Willowtree. Throughout the issue, Willowtree is trying to impress upon Constantine that "Evil is at large" and it requires Constantine's touch. Willowtree has a map of locations where he has seen the "dark energies take root." Constantine is familiar with one of the instances, and he tells Willowtree it's been sorted and it can be crossed off the list. Basically the guy asks John how he sorted it and John responds with, well, this:


I've paraphrased to boil down two pages and not give away too much while still being able to share this fantastic panel. Constantine's expression, the way the lighter and cigarette are illuminating part of his face while the rest is not quite obscured by shadow, and the complete nonchalance of the statement. That is all peak John Constantine there, and it is brilliantly delivered by the creative team of Simon Spurrier  (script), Matías Bergara (pencils), Jordie Bellaire (colors), and Aditya Bidikar (letters).

They also delivered this nugget, with Constantine declaring that stories can be more real than facts, and it just about blows Willowtree's mind:



I'm gonna have to practice patience "so hard" while waiting for the next issue. 

Friday, February 28, 2020

Friday 80s Flashback for February 28, 2020



[Revisiting the Big Chair] -- If I keep getting older, I'll continue to experience big anniversaries of seminal albums from my youth. Case in point: Tears for Fears' sophomore release, Songs from the Big Chair (1985), turned 35 this week. Well, depending on your source, the album is 35 years old as of this week (Wikipedia and Discogs) or last week (AllMusic). But the fact remains that February 2020 marks the 35th anniversary of Songs from the Big Chair. BBC Classic Albums did a documentary on the album (here is a clip, but you can watch the full thing only if you are an iPlayer user in the UK). And next month, there'll be a limited picture disc version of the album as well as a reissue of the long out-of-print deluxe 4CD/2DVD boxed set. And, yes, the album deserves all this attention. It spawned several international hits, spent over half the year in the UK top ten-album chart, and lasted five weeks at #1 in the US. Those international hits I mentioned? At least one peaked in the #1 slot in multiple countries, and it is regarded as one of the most recognized songs from the mid-1980s. (It was even spoofed as a detergent commercial jingle, so I'm betting you know which tune that was.)

So, rather than parsing the album into three tracks, let's enjoy the full thing, shall we?

FlashbackSongs from the Big Chair




That's all till next week. Dedicated 80s-philes can find more flashbacks in the Prophet or Madman archives or via Bookended's 80s Flashback tag. As always, your comments are welcome on today's, or any other, flashback post. And if you like what I'm doing here, please share the link with your friends. If, however, you don't like the flashback, feel free to share it with your enemies.

I'll see you in seven!

Friday, February 21, 2020

Friday 80s Flashback for February 21, 2020



[Past Panic] -- I recently heard a song that first hit airwaves in the summer of 1983. And it made me remember someone I had not thought about in nearly 30 years. I call him Todd B. for the purpose of this Flashback post. I'm not sure when I first met Todd, but I'm pretty sure we walked to the bus stop (conveniently located at Vito's Dairy) nearly every morning from 6th through 12th grades. That means our friendship started no later than 1979. In addition to walking to and from the bus stop, we did the typical things that kids in the late 70s and mid 80s would do: Ride bicycles, walk to the community pool, ride a dirt-bike, and build a ground-level tree fort. (OK, I might need to explain that last one, but all I can say is that it made sense at the time: It was the only tree-enclosed space within a larger open area and, look, we were bored that week!) Oh, and we also listened to music. Sometimes at my house; sometimes at his. And this was back in the days of 45 records and cassette tapes (look them up, younglings). Anyway, in the summer of 1983, Todd was obsessed with one record in particular: "(Keep Feeling) Fascination." It was the second single released from The Human League's EP, Fascination! But as much as Todd liked "(Keep Feeling) Fascination," it was the B-side that really attracted his attention, and he would play it over and over and over again. That song was an instrumental titled "Total Panic." So, in honor of Todd B., wherever he is these days, here are the two songs he loved from Fascination! plus one other track (the lead single, which interestingly deals with the pain of lost friendships). 

Flashback #1"Keep feeling fascination | Passion burning | Love so strong."




Flashback #2*Instrumental*




Flashback #3"And if it seems | I'm not the one you used to know | Our little friendship | Left behind not long ago."




Once again, I remind you that the rule of three applies when doing Flashbacks. As I've made my three offerings, that's all till next week. Dedicated 80s-philes can find more flashbacks in the Prophet or Madman archives or via Bookended's 80s Flashback tag. As always, your comments are welcome on today's, or any other, flashback post. And if you like what I'm doing here, please share the link with your friends. If, however, you don't like the flashback, feel free to share it with your enemies.

I'll see you in seven!

Friday, February 14, 2020

Friday 80s Flashback for February 14, 2020


[An Awkward KISS  - redux] -- In February of 2011, I made my one and only post reflecting on Valentines of the 80s. Sure, it was a mere nine years ago, but with Valentine's Day falling on a Friday this year, I figure now is as good a time as any to repeat it.

I spent the first half of the 80s in junior and senior high school, so most of those "celebrations" can be filed under the category of awkward. That's just the nature of the pre-teen and teenaged experience. Now, the members of KISS, who had been the object of many teenagers' hero worship through the 70s, probably were not awkward (or even necessarily honorable) in their dealings with members of the opposite sex , but the start of the 80s did find them at an awkward point in their career. They entered the decade strong: To their credit, they had a string of eight Platinum-selling albums, the last five of which included the interesting gimmick of their four "solo" albums -- all released on the same day in 1978 -- and the disco-influenced Dynasty of 1979. But they also greeted the new decade with internal tensions, Peter Kriss and Ace Frehley being particularly dissatisfied, and musical identity issues. Kriss and Frehley were therefore less-involved with the recordings of this period and they eventually left the band in 1980 and 1982 respectively. KISS eventually experienced something of a rebound in the late 80s, probably due to the convergence of glam/hair metal rising in popularity and an increase in KISS nostalgia. But 1980 - 1983 were pretty much a low point for the band. So, what could I possibly choose as showcase songs for today's Flashback set?

Read and hear more after the jump.