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, July 3, 2020

Friday 80s Flashback for July 3, 2020

[Three Day Weekend] -- When in the Course of human events, the Fourth of July lands on a Friday or Saturday, and many of us in the States are given a three-day weekend. This is done to celebrate a unique event: when 13 scrappy, English colonies engaged in an act of civil disobedience. Well, it was actually an act of treason. And it was committed by writing a sternly worded letter to King George III, who wouldn't receive his copy until August 30, 1776. (And, no, you cannot blame that delay on the USPS). Now, I don't know what the Founding Fathers would make of this week's playlist. But there will be plenty of serious fare discussing the events of 1776 on the web, radio, and television. So on the Flashback, we're gong to cut loose and have some fun. If you're ready to celebrate with me in 80s music style, then read and hear more after the break.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Watchmen - HBO

I do not have a word to describe Watchmen from HBO that describes how completely incredible it is.

No spoilers

Each actor is perfectly chosen for each character, the cinematography is stunning and overwhelming,
the music (both score and soundtrack) is superb and it’s own character, the sound effects appear old fashioned but they are powerful and real, and the story is beyond belief .... except that it all did happen and is happening. Well maybe not the actual sci-fi parts but the historical stories are all real and horrifying.

Regina King is a goddess and is my new favorite hero.... errrr superhero??

I am so grateful that HBO offered this to watch for free this past Juneteenth weekend. It was a timely watch and was terrifyingly true for our times right now. I learned so much from the nine episodes. What an amazing undertaking and accomplishment those 9 episodes are.

Brainwise and I had many interesting conversations after each episode after the credits and music played, except one episode had an after credit scene - be sure to watch the credits and listen to the songs that play, they mean just as much to the story as the actual script. There were many pieces to discuss and pull apart and mull over both internally and together. I feel that this is a show many people should watch to learn about racism and our society. It might help people understand it in a different way and actually listen to what is being said if it is shown to them in this comic book way.

I had a hard time at times remembering that this was sci-fi as the historical topics and human elements were so accurate and real. And there were some incredibly far out there sci-fi elements but if you know the Watchmen story, you should have no issue following along - I got lost a few times but it all worked out in the end and had me nodding and smiling at how it all tied together.

I would love to get into everything on this post but I want you to go and watch, if you haven't already, and be as horrified, amused, shocked, intrigued and delighted as I was with this show.

As humans we need to do better and the Watchmen is just one way to show us how to try.

4 paws and a tail

Friday, June 26, 2020

Friday 80s Flashback for June 26, 2020

[LIVE Signs] -- First things first: I will agree to disagree with just about anyone regarding the status of Prince's 1987 double studio LP, Sign 'O' the Times. The album has many staunch defenders, but I feel it could have been better with some judicious editing (i.e., pruning it back to a single platter would have more effectively showcased Prince's genius). That's simply a matter of personal preference, really. But whatever one thinks of the studio release, and whatever you think of me for my opinion, we can probably agree that the concert film released that same year is a tour de force. It wasn't exactly a box office success, but VHS sales the following year propelled its popularity and fueled many positive reviews. SKY Magazine even suggested that it "was the greatest concert movie ever made" (Wikipedia entry without citation). 

Set list:

  1. "Sign o' the Times"
  2. "Play in the Sunshine"
  3. "Little Red Corvette"/"Housequake"
  4. "Slow Love"
  5. "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man"
  6. "Hot Thing"
  7. "Now's the Time" (Charlie Parker cover by the band excluding Prince)
  8. Drum solo by Sheila E.
  9. "U Got the Look" 
  10. "If I Was Your Girlfriend"
  11. "Forever in My Life"/"It"
  12. "It's Gonna Be a Beautiful Night"
  13. "The Cross"

Twelve of the thirteen songs are live, on stage performances; "U Got the Look" is actually a promo video.

And this week's Flashback? It's the entire concert film courtesy of YouTube:

Flashback"If  you go to only one concert this year. The Prince movie is the one!"

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!

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Dead to Me - Season 2 - Netflix

Dangrdafne review - NO spoilers are here

Dead to Me season 1 and 2 are over the top. Waaaay over the top and I love it. Both seasons are amazing and I love that each season is 10 episodes at 30 minutes an episode. It isn’t long and drawn out, well I guess the overall story is but it is so good and you just want to know what happens. So sit back and enjoy the crazy. Let yourself be fooled. Yell at the characters and pray none of this ever happens to you.

Christina Applegate (Jen) and Linda Cardellini (Judy) are incredible actresses. The emotions and mental anguish they both have to go through on this show are out of this world. For instance, episode 9 of season 2 had me sobbing on my treadmill as I was walking while watching the show. Judy has a breakdown and I couldn’t contain myself. I felt all her emotions pouring out of her. I worry what Linda Cardellini was actually thinking about that allowed her this cathartic moment. It was raw and real and just amazing to witness.

The best part of the show is the mystery and the twist and turns, many you don’t even know exist until they are happening. I love being fooled and surprised. I hate ruining things for myself by figuring it all out. I either can’t in this show or choose not to. Sometimes it feels like every piece of the episode is a cliffhanger and again I love it.

Actually maybe the best part of the show is the female power. The friendship between Jen and Judy is unlike most that I see on TV. And most of the other people around them are all women too. Oh, and the music is perfection. The songs mean just as much as the script and the cinematography. I will have to see if there is a soundtrack available.

The supporting cast is also just incredible. Jen’s children pay a main role in everything and the actors hold up their end without question. There are no small roles here, trust me, even if you think they are... they are not ;)

If you have never watched this show before, you can not start at Season 2. You MUST watch season 1 to understand anything and to fully enjoy it all. Unless you just want to watch master classes on acting, then just jump right in anywhere but again it all starts in Season 1. I truly can’t believe how much I love this show. The foul language is horrible and overbearing and usually I would shy away from it all but somehow it works and fits and I just let it go.

 I am terrified to see what will happen in Season 3 as the ending to 2 was cataclysmic and I definitely did NOT see it coming. This is easy to binge and I highly recommend it.

4 paws

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Switchback - Danika Stone - book review

Dangrdafne book review - NO spoilers

The main reason for no spoilers is because you have to read this book for yourself. You need to take the roller coaster ride that this book offers. It is NOT what I expected but it was everything I wanted it to be in the end.

Switchback as defined by Merriman-Webster: a zigzag road, trail, or section of railroad tracks for climbing a steep hill.

Quite the understatement for this book. The switchbacks in this book were amazing. A Physical Education class trip gone wrong in so many ways and the crazy journey Vale and Ash go on, as does the reader, to get back home. 

It’s also a story about friendship, the most incredible friendship, and its survival at all costs. Vale and Ash are high school students, friends since elementary school, the outcasts, and the absolute best of friends. I loved them, I want to know them, I would definitely have been friends with them.

This will sound like a bad thing but hear me out. I kept getting annoyed reading some parts of the book and while that sounds bad it’s actually a sign of amazing storytelling. I wanted, needed to know what was happening so I just wanted to skip the small talk and get to it but I couldn’t because I would miss something that would be important to the story later. It was frustrating but frustratingly wonderful. I can’t tell you the last time I read a book with so much suspense. To use a common theme, it was a real page-turner. 

And while I loved the thrill and the suspense I have to say reading about a friendship between a boy and a girl was my true joy in the book. The things they learn about themselves and each other and how they have to support one another is perfectly lovely. It warmed my heart to watch two souls find themselves and each other and learn and grow together, and in high school students no less. This is not a love story, this is a friendship story and how often do you get to say that for a story about a boy and a girl. I appreciate it so much.

I was left with questions, good questions, not literally unanswered questions as odd as that sounds. Just more that I want to know. Pieces I want to fit in. Behind the scenes per say. Basically I just want more.

I keep identifying with Danika's teenagers and I think that is great, especially for a 50 year old. It means Danika writes well-rounded characters with whom the reader can imagine as a part of them or that they are people they know or have known or I guess in this case, want to know.

4 paws

I also very much enjoy Danika's writing. It is descriptive and crisp and easy to read. I look forward to the next books I have from her, a trilogy, the third book of which comes out in November. I have to decide if I am going to start reading the first two I have because I am sure it will be torture to wait until November to finish the story if I start the books now :)

Friday, June 12, 2020

Friday 80s Flashback for June 12, 2020

[Still Vivid] -- Highlighting more artists of color this week on the Flashback. Over 30 years ago last month, Living Colour burst onto the airwaves with their debut album, Vivid (1988). The novelty of Living Colour being an "all-black heavy metal band" (as quoted in nearly every post about them) probably helped them in the attention department. And while heavy metal was probably too one-dimensional a descriptor for Living Colour's sound, once they had your attention, for whatever reason, their music held it.

Living Colour in 1988 (via Billboard)

You can probably guess one of Vivid's tracks to make this week's selections. But what about the other two? Read and hear more after the jump. 

Sunday, June 7, 2020

15 Black Comics Writers Whose Work You Need to Read

On June 4, David F. Walker (@DavidWalker1201) tweeted a link to "15 Black Comics Writers Whose Work You Need to Read." I retweeted it and shared it on Facebook, but only this afternoon did I realize that this blog was also the place to share such information. Walker's tweet was a link to a CBR article, but I figure I'd embed the tweet here rather than jump to CBR because, well, maybe you'd want to add Walker to your follows!

Friday, June 5, 2020

Friday 80s Flashback for June 5, 2020

[World Destruction] -- I'm posting one song, and one song only, today: "World Destruction" by Time Zone featuring John Lydon & Afrika Bambaataa. 

Flashback"This is a world destruction, your life ain't nothing."

I first shared this song as part of a Flashback post on 9/10/2010. In September 2010, I felt the song was an appropriate choice considering the then upcoming 9-11 anniversary. I shared this track again in September 2017 as part of my 7 year Flashbackiversary. And what I wrote at that time regarding this song:

When I reflect upon the state of the world this very week, I still find this particular song to be a prescient choice. On paper, the collaboration called Time Zone just shouldn't work. The lead singer of the Sex Pistols teaming with a founding member of a Bronx street gang? Ridiculous! A punk rock icon with a pioneer of hip-hop? Blasphemy! Ah, but in the studio, it was like capturing the proverbial lightning in a bottle! "World Destruction" (and its many remixes) conveyed the energy and angst of a generation coming out from under the clouds of the cold war, but still very aware of their conflict-ridden world. All these years later, it still strikes chord with me.

Here is the music video from 1984:

Here is a Video Re-Tracked version:

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!

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos

Book review by Dangrdafne:

Evan Roskos is the brother to one of my good friends. As soon as she told me about the book I pre-ordered it. That was awhile ago. I just never got around to actually reading the book. Now just last week, she sent me the trailer for the movie version of the book! I was hooked. It looks amazing! So I pulled out the book and read it all in one day.


“She perches on the power lines of my thoughts.”

This books is incredible. It shows mental health issues in the best light. I know that might sound odd but it really does. As I read it I knew exactly how James was feeling and I have been in his spot many times as hard as it is to admit or want to admit.

James is trying to figure out his place in the world and why his sister, Jorie, was kicked out of their house and school. It has all the makings of a high school young adult novel but hidden inside is the mystery of what really happened with Jorie. James never feels like he gets a true response to his questions but then maybe he doesn't really want the answers he will find.

James has a best friend Derek and a "love interest" Beth. I love that these two people are his strength and his sounding boards, I am grateful that they are there for James and that they stick with him through all the ups and downs of teenage life...and so much more.

The book also houses a real and true talk on mental health. We have all felt that we were broken, that we were wired differently, that we were invisible... in James's case he is correct in these feelings. We go through all his motions and emotions as he winds his way through his life and his story.

Dr. Bird is just that, a pigeon that James talks to and gets advice from... and yes, it really is just James talking to himself but it is so poignant and makes you wish for your own Dr. Bird.

4 paws

I find it interesting that I read two very different books in the past week: one being female centered and the other male centered BUT they both had a mystery about them, they both had mental health issues as a main point and they both made me laugh, cry, yell and feel sooo good about myself at the end of them. Good authors are very special indeed. It is not something I could do but it is definitely something I can appreciate. And I hope that by posting these reviews, I will send them some more readership and recognition.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Friday 80s Flashback for May 29, 2020

[Sun City] -- In December 1985, Steven Van Zandt and Artists United Against Apartheid released "the most political of all of the charity rock albums of the 1980s" (per AllMusic). I wrote about it on the record's 30th anniversary, and revisited it in September 2017. And in the wake of the past 24-48 hours, I think now is a good time to revisit it once again. At any rate, it's a fair reminder of how far we've come ... and how much further we still have to go ... as a society.

That record was Sun City (1985), a protest album driven by Van Zandt (perhaps best known for his affiliation with  Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band) in partnership with Artists United Against Apartheid. The name pretty much tells you what the they were 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, Rubén 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. What tracks will we highlight this week? Read and hear more after the jump!

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Internet Famous by Danika Stone

Book review by Dangrdafne:

If you have ever belonged to a Fandom then this book might be for you. And even if not.

Madi runs a blog called MadLibs and basically this books tells her life story. 
It is a young adult themed book but I had no trouble identifying with the characters as it is about a family and growing up in these challenging times.

My favorite aspect of the book is Madi's sister. She is on the spectrum and I really appreciated the realistic coverage of her. I know some people just like her and it was nice to see them in this book and see them have real stories told about them. She is not just a side note or a passing fancy in the book she is an integral part of the story, one that lends so much heart and truth to the story.

I loved that the book brought out all my emotions. I was so angry at times with what was happening to Madi that I wanted to throw the book down. Then I would be so happy that I would just smile from ear to ear. But my favorite parts were the kisses. Oh the kisses. Danika has some special magical power to writing kissing scenes. My heart just melted every single time. 

I learned a lot of online lingo too which was unexpected. From the definition section in the front of the book to just the use of the lingo throughout, it was kind of hard to miss but I liked it. It made it more realistic and definitely of the times (man I sound old). It is a high school setting but I am serious when I tell you that I had no trouble identifying and understanding what was happening. I am also really happy that I do not have children. What these kids have to go through these days, it is at times so much worse than anything I had to live through. I have bullies but they were only in person. These days you get them both in person and online. It is never ending and all encompassing.

The hidden joy of the book is that it is also a mystery. There is a who dun it and it is quite the twisty turny situation that may have you guessing the whole time. I did not expect this mystery and that just added to my joy reading this book. Maybe it was just so different from any other books I have read that I just went in head first and ended up taking in my heart too.

I highly recommend this book. 

4 paws

Friday, May 22, 2020

Friday 80s Flashback for May 22, 2020

[Birthday Train] -- I am observing what would have been my father's 74th birthday. Unfortunately, he breathed his last in May 2013, about two weeks shy of his 67th solar return. Anyway, Dad loved trains, particularly those involved in logging railroads. His favorite locomotive was the Shay. And he would often celebrate his birthday with a visit to the Cass Railfan Weekend which is run by the Mountain State Railroad & Logging Historical Association (you can donate in Dad's memory at their website, So, this confluence of the Flashback falling on Dad's birthday made me decide to focus on 80s songs about trains and railways. There's a whole slew of potential tracks, across a wide variety of genres, but I had to narrow it down to just three tunes. And I tried, really tried, to ensure I didn't pick anything my classic rock and jazz loving father would hate. Wonder what made the cut this week? Read and hear more after the jump. 

Friday, May 15, 2020

Friday 80s Flashback for May 15, 2020

[Give Me Ten Good Reasons] -- Already a soap star in his native Australia, Jason Donovan embarked on a music career when his first single, "Nothing Can Divide Us," dropped in 1988. Donovan's subsequent debut album, Ten Good Reasons, dropped in May 1989. It was the biggest selling album in the UK that year, and it did pretty well in other European countries. It also peaked at #5 in Canada. It did not chart in the US. In the UK, the album yielded two #1 singles, making Donovan the first Australian male to simultaneously hold both a single and an album in #1 positions. Do you remember him? Do you have a favorite from his debut album? Can you guess which tracks I'll feature this week? There's more after the jump!

Friday, May 8, 2020

Friday 80s Flashback for May 8, 2020

My own mother passed unexpectedly in October 2017. So, I'll take the money I would have spent on her Mother's Day cards and gifts, and I'll make a donation to A Woman's Place.  Also, in place of a new Flashback post, I am re-running my Mother's Day post from May 11, 2012. This post is largely, but not entirely, unchanged from its original incarnation.

[Word to the Mothers - Redux] -- This weekend we in the U.S. observe Mother's Day. I don't know if you've ever looked for "mother" songs before, but there are many, many songs with some variation of "mother" in the title or lyrics (mother, mama, mom, etc.). However, the subject matter of the vast majority of those tunes, particularly in the 80s, was not exactly fodder for Hallmark. And, on top of that challenge, two songs that I thought were perfect for the holiday were not recorded or released in the 80s. They both came out in 1991. So, I had to scramble a bit to fill out this week's playlist. I think I have successfully crafted a flashback set that honors mothers, recognizes folks who have less-than-perfect relationships with their mothers, and gives a nod to something that most mothers believe about their offspring at one time or another. So don't just sit there and wonder what three songs I have for you this week. Read and hear more after the break!

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Friday 80s Flashback for May 1, 2020 (Rewind from May 3, 2013)

In May of 2013, today was a Friday. So, "Goodbye Dad" was my 80s Flashback post for that particular weekend. I'll re-post it here. 

[Goodbye Dad (Rewind)] -- There was no Flashback post last week, and there isn't a proper one this week. Last week, I rushed to my Dad's bedside because his condition had worsened and the prevailing wisdom was that he was close to leaving us. He actually improved slightly, but not enough to really merit a celebration. It was simply a postponement of the grief to come.

Dad's condition continued to decline into the beginning of this week. There was an unidentifiable (yet treatable) infection, fluid continued to build up around and in his lung, and his liver was failing. As it turns out, the only diagnosis that could be made was that he was rejecting the transplant (bone marrow and stem cells) from 2010. Or, more technically accurate, the transplant was rejecting him. So, I picked a few songs to work through what we need to work through. If you care to join me, you can read and hear more after the break.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Friday 80s Flashback for April 17, 2020

[RIP Matthew Seligman] -- Today, New Wave lost a seminal behind-the-scenes musician: Matthew Seligman. He had played bass with the Soft Boys, Thomas Dolby, David Bowie, and Thompson Twins. Seligman's declining health was chronicled by Dolby on Facebook, a decline initiated by a catastrophic hemorrhagic stroke according to Seligman played on only the second Thompson Twins record, 1982's Set, but he did perform with them a bit. So, let's revisit that album in his memory after the jump. (For a much longer playlist covering the breadth of Selman's career, visit this Spotify playlist).

Sunday, April 12, 2020

An Easter Sunday Flashback on April 12, 2020

[Opening Hymn] -- I missed posting a Friday 80s Flashback this weekend, but I thought I'd drop a  treat in your audio basket on this Easter Sunday.

"Let My Love Open the Door" -- from Who guitarist Pete Townshend's first truly solo album, Empty Glass (1980) -- is not a hymn, but I submit that it is an Easter song.

First, there is the origin of the album title:
"And when I did my first solo album, I called it 'Empty Glass', 'cause of this idea that when you go to the tavern -- which is to God, you know -- and you ask for His love -- He's the bartender, you know -- and He gives you a drink, and what you have to give Him is an empty glass. You know there's no point giving Him your heart if it's full already; there's no point going to God if your heart's full of Doris." [source: Wikipedia]
Next, the love referenced in the single, "Let My Love Open the Door," is very likely God's love (or a god's love). I find confirmation of this notion in the liner notes of Townshend's Gold (Remaster) CD where he refers to this song as "Jesus sings."

So, here is the music video for the very Easter-y song, "Let My Love Open the Door."

Flashback"There's only one thing gonna set you free, and that's my love."

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, April 3, 2020

Friday 80s Flashback for April 3, 2020

Monday through Friday, pen and ink and rubber stamps on
graph paper, collage ©2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

[Just on My Mind -- Redux] -- This is a re-post of my Friday 80s Flashback from April 5, 2013. 

I don't really have a theme for this week. But a few songs have been playing in my head. Some are in reference to current events. Others are triggered by things that have happened over the past few weeks. Still others have weaseled themselves into my real life and online conversations just because they could. I've picked three of these songs to share with you this week. For a small sampling of tunes that have accompanied me this week, just read and hear more after the break.

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.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Friday 80s Flashback for February 7, 2020

[Stay Awake (Redux)] -- In February of 2000, after we eloped, Mrs. Brainwise and I flew to Walt Disney World for our honeymoon. Shortly thereafter, we made the plan to return to the House of Mouse every five years to celebrate our anniversary. And so, this week, we are back at Walt Disney World to celebrate 20 years togeether. This week marks my fifth visit to Walt Disney World with my wife (and my seventh time here overall when I add in previous family trips). Seems like a good excuse for me to revisit Hall Willner's Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films (1988). Willner is an American music producer with several tribute albums and live events listed among his many credits, Stay Awake being his fourth tribute album. I was in college when it was first released, and I loved it because it made a somewhat adult soundtrack out of songs originally created for kids. More than 20 years later, I still love it for the milestone in my life that it represents. When I first blogged about this album in 2013, I wrote that our Disneyland guide had never heard of Stay Awake. It is possible that many of my fellow 80s-philes are likewise still unaware of this album. So, I figure this CD makes for a great Flashback. I've chosen three tunes from the 20+ songs represented on the album. You know the drill: Read and hear more after the break.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Friday 80s Flashback on Saturday (for January 31, 2020)

[Bon Jovi in the Park] -- Sometimes the perfect post idea either into your lap, or you see it while scrolling your Facebook feed. Today, it is the latter. SciBabe shared a post: "Random Guy on Park Bench Starts Belting Bon Jovi and Everyone Joins In." It's short, sweet, and a perfect boost if you need one. Here is the park video on YouTube:

If you need the full song now, I'm happy to help you out there as well (I mean, I know I needed the full song!):

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, January 24, 2020

Friday 80s Flashback for January 24, 2020

[Caterwaul] -- Caterwaul debuted in 1987 with The Nature of Things on Lost Arts Records. From the opening strains of "A Flower and a Stone," I was hooked. Based in Phoenix, AZ, Caterwaul was on the more alternative or post-punk side of the college radio scene. Kind of like a banshee leading a jangly punk troupe. Not to everyone's taste, but the late 80s was a time during which sloppier, less polished bands could thrive. Caterwaul was active through 1991 on IRS and Geffen, but it looks like they released one more album in 1996, which was a return to Lost Arts Records. The music video for their debut album's leading track, "A Flower and a Stone," was their first nationally played track. The video featured photocopied film frames with a colored in look, almost as though with highlighters or crayons. All three Flashback tracks today come from their debut album. Check them out after the jump!

Friday, January 17, 2020

Vertigo's Final Tweet

Vertigo has effectively shut down its Twitter as of today, 1/17/2020. Their new pinned tweet points folks to @DCComics. Full text of the tweet is:
Thank you for following along on this strange adventure. For future updates, please follow @DCComics.

It's just another step in this end of an era for DC Comics, who announced the shuttering of the once iconic imprint last June.

Friday 80s Flashback for January 17, 2020

A 1980s photo of David Bowie (1947 - 2016)

[Farewell Thin White Duke - REDUX] -- This Flashback was originally posted on Prophet or Madman on 1/15/2016.

David Bowie, who started performing music in 1962 and released his final album on 1/8/2016, died on Sunday, 1/10/2016 at the age of 69. I learned of his passing via a news alert early on the following Monday. In what must be the most impressive act of keeping a story under wraps, no one knew just how sick Bowie was until after his death. As this week has progressed, many people with greater verbal facility or better familiarity with Bowie's career have waxed poetic in their tributes. As I have neither, but have been a fan, I would like to mark this giant of an artist's passing. So I'll offer up a trio of selections from Bowie's 80s catalog. Read and hear more after the break!

Friday, January 10, 2020

Friday 80s Flashback for January 10, 2020

[Remembering Neil Peart] -- I learned today that drummer extraordinaire Neil Peart passed away. The announcement came today, but he passed on 1/7/2020, after battling brain cancer for the last three years. Neil provided the beat for the Canadian power trio, Rush, perhaps the greatest progressive rock band in music history. His bandmates were the phenomenal bassist, and nasally vocalist, Geddy Lee, and power-chording guitarist Alex Lifeson (who, though not as vaunted as his bandmates, did rank in Rolling Stone's list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time). Neil was also Rush's primary lyricist, crafting songs inspired from philosophy and science fiction.

Neil was bit by the drumming bug in his pre-teens. But before his parents would let him have a drum set, they gave him "a pair of sticks, a practice pad, and lessons" and told him he had to stick with the lessons for a year. And, wow, did his drum kit evolve over time. Rather than go through the details here, I'll direct you to Drum Magazine for their stellar rundown of the man and his drums ("Mean Mean Stride: The Drums Of Neil Peart;" September 12, 2013).

Rush debuted in 1974, but they had a strong 80s presence, releasing six albums between 1980 and 1989. Wikipedia refers to the bulk of this time as the band's "Synthesizer-oriented era." And it's probably the era I know and remember best as it covered my high school and college years. So, for this memorial Flashback, I'll pick two tracks from those years and ... a third track showcasing another side of Peart's skills. To find out what tracks I chose, read and hear more after the jump.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

RIP Otis: 1/1/2003 to 1/1/2020

Some sad news from the folks at Bookended by Cats. A week ago, we had to make the difficult and heart-rending, but ultimately correct, decision to let one of our beloved fur babies go.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Friday 80s Flashback for January 3, 2020

[New Year!] -- My last Flashback post was 11/22/2019. Seems my studies, travels, and other tasks got in the way of my blogging. But at least I'm starting out the new year right, with a brand new post for the very first Friday of 2020. For this first Flashback post of the year, we'll revisit the top three songs from this week in 1986. Do you recall what you were doing 34 years ago this week? I was probably just getting back to classes for the final semester of my high school career. Beyond that, I have no idea. But I do remember all 10 songs that were in the Billboard Hot 100 for the week. Counting down songs 10 through 4, we had:
10. Election Day - Arcadia
9. Tonight She Comes - The Cars
8. Separate Lives - Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin
7. Broken Wings - Mr. Mister
6. Small Town - John Mellencamp
5. I Miss You - Klymaxx
4. That's What Friends Are For - Dionne & Friends
And the top three tracks? You'll find them after the jump. I mean, read and hear more after the jump.