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, March 16, 2018

Friday 80s Flashback for March 16, 2018

[ASIA] -- Geoff Downes, John Wetton, Steve Howe, and Carl Palmer were already famous individually for playing in some of the biggest prog-rock bands of the 70s. And the sound they created in the early 80s as the four-piece called Asia owed more to the 70s than the New Wave that was taking over the radio. Still, their eponymous debut album was released in March of 1982 -- 36 years ago! -- and spawned two huge hits. Besides the hits, other songs on this album also achieved considerable radio play. Asia's sound was slickly produced yet still muscular, likely due to Palmer's steady percussion and Wetton's driving bass. All these elements propelled the album to great success, including peaking at #1 on the US Billboard 200 albums chart. Asia's music was majestic in scope -- you have to play at a grand level if you choose to name your band after a continent -- and I still feel something magical in the opening chords of just about every song on this album. Hel, I still have my original vinyl copy. I can't tell you how many times I tried to draw the serpentine dragon from this album cover, but I can tell you that I no longer have any of those attempts.

If you'd like to sample some tunes from this album, you can read and hear more after the jump.  

Friday, March 9, 2018

Friday 80s Flashback for March 9, 2018

[Don't Throw Stones] -- I've been focusing on records rather than themes for the last several Flashback posts, and I wanted to continue in that vein. But picking this week's feature took a little longer than usual. Yeah, it's from March 1980, so you might think I would have stumbled across that quickly. But I don't run through the decade in chronological order until I find something. But when I finally stumbled across this week's record, it was a B-side that struck me. Don't get me wrong: I like the singles from this record, too. But the B-side holds the stronger memory for me. Anyway, this week's record is Glass Houses, Billy Joel's seventh studio album. It was released on March 10, 1980, so it is 38 years old this week! Glass Houses features Joel's first Billboard #1 hit, and the album itself peaked at #1 on the US Billboard 200. If the videos for this record's top singles were your first introduction to Billy Joel, you might have been confused by his reputation as a pianist. 

Friday, March 2, 2018

Friday 80s Flashback for March 2, 2018

[Saint Julian] -- I discovered Julian Cope in 1987. By that time, he had released two albums with his second band, The Teardrop Explodes (1978-1982), and three solo albums. That third solo album, Saint Julian, was released in March of 1987. Given my crash course in Cope's musical output, I can say Saint Julian was the most directly rock'n'roll record that Cope had recorded up to that point, his previous ventures being more of the neo-psychedelic vein. In keeping with the new musical attitude, Cope even tried to embrace the role of an 80s rocker, wearing leathers and adopting the arrogant posture of a "Rock God." And as much as I enjoyed my brief exposure to the earlier material, Saint Julian record reached me on several levels the other records didn't. I'm not saying it was deeper than his prior work, but I do feel it was better crafted. Or, maybe, I just think it was better because it resonated so much with my gut. If you would like to sample this 31-year-old record, then read and hear more after the jump.  

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Still Alice

So while I was away on vacation awhile ago I actually read a book. A whole book. Front to back. Those who know me know this a rarity. I have a pile of books as tall as me to read but I just never choose them. But I was determined. My mother and sister both read this book and liked it and Alzheimer's is quite close to my life, so it was probably destined that I would read it.


Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Alice is a middle aged, professor with 3 children and a loving husband. She notices some small changes in her memory as the book starts. It all seems nondescript except that we, the reader, know where we are headed. Her problem comes to the forefront when she goes out for a run in her neighborhood, where she has run for years, and she can't remember how to get home. This section is written to show how terrified Alice is and we, the reader, feel it. I am pretty sure my breathing became shallow and my heart was pounding.

Alice decides she needs to see her doctor. After discussing all options as to what is going on, Alice chooses to see a neurologist. It is at this appointment that all she fears comes true. Alice is definitely having a memory problem that needs to be tested. After testing they confirm she has early onset Alzheimer's. She has the markers and her children should be tested to see if they are also carrying the marker for early onset Alzheimer's. It was at this point in the book when I realized that I know some people in my life that should have this blood test to look for the markers - if they so choose.

We all know what's coming next but I have to tell you, reading it was heart breaking. The first time she doesn't recognize her daughter I just burst out crying. Then when she can't remember that she needs to go to the bathroom, I was just as embarrassed as she was. Alice is strong but there is no strength to beat Alzheimer's. They try a clinical trial (fake trial in the book) but it does not work. Then we find out that Alice most likely started her onset waaaaay earlier than anyone thought. So medicine and any clinical studies were actually not going to help.

The most amazing part of the book though is when Alice is fully ensconced in Alzheimer's but she creates a support group for other patients. She is determined to be as normal as possible. She then gives a speech about early onset Alzheimer's and I could hardly get through this section. Her mind is fully there, she has things to say, she has opinions, she has feelings but Alzheimer's just keeps taking it all away.

I am grateful that the book does not end with her death or even with a sad ending per say. Obviously having Alzheimer's is sad but by the end of the book Alice doesn't seem sad. She seems stronger than ever. One can only hope to be as powerful as Alice with or without Alzheimer's.

Overall I am torn on the book but perhaps not for the reasons you think. The book is amazing but is it awful at the same time. It is so well written that you are in Alice's head and feeling the terror she is feeling. You feel like you are losing your mind when you read some sections but just like Alzheimer's does, you don't know it. So this terrible feeling is just because the book is written so well.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who has Alzheimer's in their life. It gives you such a different perspective and teaches you to not forget (no pun intended) that Alzheimer's patients are still viable human beings with feelings and lives.

I give this book 4 paws

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Various and Sundry Movies

Recently we have caught up on some movies we hadn't seen when they were released. They were on commercial TV, Encore or a DVD. Here are some reviews:

Kingsmen: Secret Service (DVD)
Clive Owen was awesome. The main boy and the girl were really good. Samuel Jackson was interesting. I liked the "twist" of the movie. Other than that, I hated the movie. The ultra violence was just waaaaay too much for me. I actually compared the church scene to a horror movie. It was just too over the top.
1 paw
Dangrdafne would never watch again

Elysium (Encore)
Jodie Foster looked amazing. I liked the connection of Matt Damon and his friend. Again this movie was way too violent for me but even more than that, I didn't like that it was violence at the expense of a story.  I just could not get invested.
1 paw
Dangrdafne wouldn't watch again

Oblivion (commercial TV)
I always like Tom Cruise movies. I like Tom Cruise. I LOVED this movie. All I remembered when we decided to watch it was the name and that Tom Cruise was in it. I didn't even remember that Morgan Freeman was in it (a wonderful surprise). The music, sounds and story were incredible. I was completely invested in what was happening and could not take my eyes off this movie. When it was near the end, we both said "I think we'll buy this in Blu-Ray." It was just so interesting and different and intriguing to me.
4 paws
Dangrdafne watched it again the next night and has watched in pieces any time if on TV - can't wait to see it without commercials (although she did enjoy the lack of cursing on the TV)

Maleficent (DVR from Encore)
Gorgeous. Beautiful. Angelina Jolie was perfection as was the girl who portrayed young Maleficent. Elle Fanning was lovely. I really disliked the actor who portrayed Stefan, he was waaaay off to me, the only weak link to me. I loved this take on Sleeping Beauty. I loved that this movie lives my mantra "Because Nice Matters." I loved that the true love wasn't at all what you thought it would be and that made it even more beautiful.
4 paws
Dangrdafne can't wait to watch this again and I have a few times


I actually wrote this post last year and never posted it. I have a new list of movies that I will have to write up and then I would like to try and post right after I actually watch the movies :)

Friday, February 16, 2018

Friday 80s Flashback for February 16, 2018

[Alternative Religion] -- Time to take all y'all to church. Or, rather, The Church. You see, on February 16, 1988 -- thirty years ago today! -- these Australian rockers released their fifth studio album, Starfish. Although they had four other records to their credit (I nearly forgot about three of them before I wrote this post), this was the first one that made Americans take notice. And, boy, did we notice it over here. Starfish went gold in the US, launched a big hit single, and two of its songs were featured on that 80s television phenomenon, Miami Vice. The Church never equaled the success of this record, though they released new music fairly consistently up through 2017. It's a nod to the fact that most one-hit wonders have quite the catalog of music, much of it known only to their most fervent fans. Well, come on in. The Church service is about to begin. What are our hymns this week? Read and hear more after the break.    

Friday, February 9, 2018

Friday 80s Flashback for February 9, 2018

© Olga Bogatyrenko ID 3802666 | Dreamstime Stock Photos

[Love] -- It's not often that February 9th falls on a Friday. It's not all that rare either: It happens, on average, every five or so years. So, I'm taking advantage of this particular occurrence to celebrate my wedding anniversary. You see, it was 18 years ago this very day, with snow on the ground and a slight chill in the air, that I exchanged wedding vows and rings with a woman I had met five years prior at an X-Files viewing party. Yes, even though I met her well after the 80s, I am still inclined to mark this occasion, our 18th wedding anniversary, in songs of the 80s. Specifically, love songs of the 80s. Now, there was no shortage of such songs, but I can select only three for this Flashback post. What tunes made the cut? Will they be sweet or sassy? Read and hear more after the break.