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, 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.