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, February 24, 2023

Friday 80s Flashback for February 24, 2023

[Where's Kilroy Now?] -- In 1982, the classic lineup of Styx – Dennis DeYoung (keyboards), Tommy Shaw (guitar), James Young (guitar), John Panozzo (drums), and Chuck Panozzo (bass) – probably had no idea they were recording their last album of original material together. There are plenty of stories out there about the creative tensions that arose during the recording of Kilroy Was Here, the band's 11th studio album. And the theatrical tour to support the record, as well as that tour's sheer expense, probably did not help. 

Still, this week is the 40th anniversary of Kilroy's release. And I'm celebrating it. 

Kilroy Was Here was released on February 22, 1983. It is a concept album built around a rock opera that imagines a dystopia in which rock music is outlawed. The minifilm that accompanied the tour, and the album's song lyrics, reveal a heavy-handed mocking of anti-rock activists (primarily of the Christian variety) who were protesting backmasking. Although the PMRC came later in 1983, there are similarities between them and Kilroy's primary antagonists: the theo-fascistic MMM (Majority for Musical Morality). 

Kilroy Was Here debuted at #10, and peaked at #3, on the Billboard 200. It sold somewhere between 1 and 2.5 million copies (depending on the source), and yielded two top ten hits on the Billboard Hot 100: "Mr. Roboto" peaked at #3 and "Don't Let It End" peaked at #6. 

But Kilroy Was Here has divided critics and fans just as much as, if not more than, the band. And Kilroy broke the band's streak of consecutive multiplatinum albums. So, regarding the divide in the band, upon completing the Kilroy tour, Styx disbanded for a while. The band reformed without guitarist Tommy Shaw in 1990, but disbanded again in 1991. Shaw returned to the fold when Styx again reformed in 1995. But a few years later, in 1999, Shaw and Young pretty much forced DeYoung out of the band

You can easily find reviews that pan Kilroy Was Here [for example: Rolling Stone and AllMusic], or even the show. But maybe the record was ahead of its time. Along with the themes of anti-music and over-zealous religious control in government, there is a narrative that bemoans the overuse, and over dependence upon, technology. There is even the replacement of humans with machines: The Roboto units of "Mr. Roboto" are automatons that guard prisoners and carry out the MMM's orders, and yet Kilroy (as played by DeYoung) must disguise himself as a Roboto to enact his prison escape and connect with members of a resistance. 

OK, yes, the album is somewhat cheesy, and possibly even bloated. Of course, a few songs are just there to advance the narrative, but isn't that what always happens in a musical? And, if we're honest, filler tracks have always been a thing, so it's kind of weird to call out Styx for having a few of them. And even though this record uses more synths than prior outings, it's still a very enjoyable, and rocking, record. 

And as much as Tommy Shaw and James Young complained about "Mr. Roboto" (either back in the day, or in retrospect), they brought the song back to their live show setlist starting in 2018. That was a mere ten years after it appeared in a VW commercial. So, even if Shaw, Young, and DeYoung still don't see eye to eye, or even each other, at least both factions (DeYoung and Styx) agree that the song has fans. 

And, after all these years, I'm still one of those fans.

FlashbackKilroy Was Here (February 22, 1983)

And ... 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, February 21, 2023

Black Panther - Wakanda Forever

 Dangrdafne review

What a wonderful tribute to Chadwick Boseman. So many tears. It truly was a wonderful story that included the loss of Chadwick and made it all work. I truly hope that the ceremony in the movie helped the actors deal with the loss. I felt that it helped me and felt that it allowed the public to be a part of the funeral.

I absolutely adored all the woman power in this movie. During the scene on the bridge I even said "there are three women of color as the main heroes in this movie!" I was blown away by the action and their stories. The actresses are excellent at their jobs and I am grateful for their portrayal of these incredible superheroes.

The costuming for this movie was beyond spectacular. Angel Bassett's outfits were out of this world beautiful and added even more to her beauty. I want to cosplay every outfit she wore. The white ceremony outfits were also simply beautiful and angelic. It was pure glorious beauty on the screen. I hope the costumers win the Academy Award for this movie.

I loved the music in this movie too. I feel like I don't recall lyrics in past Marvel movies, but I could just be misremembering, but each song really fit into the scenes and I definitely will seek out the soundtrack for this movie. I was a little thrown by the new Panther music but it does work very well. I do miss the tribal sound that was in the first movie but I understand why it wouldn't be in this one without Chadwick.

Namor was well done and the special effects for him were seamless and I was very impressed with how realistic he was. I did mention during the one underwater scene that even though I liked Aquaman, that this was the Aquaman movie that one was trying to be ;) Again I have no history with any of these characters, so I had no issues as some do and I liked the story and the portrayals.

I am grateful that some how I was not spoiled on anything in this movie and I will not spoil anything here now. I did figure out one thing while the movie progressed but I am ok with that. It is best if you can just watch and let everything unfold. I think it was an excellent story, told very well.

I do definitely wish we saw this movie in the theater, as I think it would have been all encompassing and hit even harder for the action but I am also so glad I was at home to cry throughout this movie.

Another excellent addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

4 paws

Friday, February 17, 2023

Friday 80s Flashback for February 17, 2023

[The Power (Light) of Earth, Wind & Fire] -- In early February 1983, Earth, Wind & Fire (EWF) released their 12th studio album, Powerlight. Longtime 80s-philes (do we have any of those following this blog?) might recall that I featured three tracks off that record for a 2/2/2018 Flashback post, but I highlighted only three tracks, two of which were singles. But now that Powerlight has turned 40 years old this very month, I'm going to feature the entire album. And I'll lean heavily on my previous post. 

So, first off, I don't know if the kids these days remember, or even know, that back in the 70s and early 80s we had this little band called Earth, Wind & Fire (EWF). Of course, this little band wasn't really so little. I mean, here is the personnel listing for their eponymous 1971 debut album, and here is the list for their 1983 album, Powerlight. Building from a funk foundation, they blended R&B, soul, jazz, disco, and even early electronica among other musical styles into a force to be reckoned with. And they had a horn section, The Phenix Horns, that was the envy of the industry. For example, after catching EWF on tour, Phil Collins brought The Phenix Horns in for several Genesis and even solo tracks. 

Speaking of EWF on tour, they were known for elaborate stage shows. I remember Earth, Wind & Fire in Concert, a 1984 TV movie that showed their Oakland Coliseum concert which had been filmed in December 1981. During the performance of "Jupiter" (the song starts around the 47:50 mark in this video), they staged a battle with an evil Darth Vader-esque entity. I don't think that video is quite the same show I watched – I seem to recall the evil entity entering the fray from the audience rather than already being on stage – but you'll get the idea. 

But back to the this week's album, Powerlight. The record buying public responded positively to the album's release, lifting it to #4 and #12 on the Billboard Top R&B Albums and the Billboard 200 charts respectively. Three of the nine tracks were released as singles between November 1982 and June 1983: "If You Fall in Love with Me," "Side by Side," and "Spread Your Love." They were also the first three tracks on Side A of the vinyl and cassette releases, though the release order did not exactly match the track listing order. Back in 1983, I had the cassette release of Powerlight. "If You Fall in Love with Me" was not only the album's lead single, it was also the lead track on Side A of the cassette. That meant I could easily and quickly access it. And I often did. While "The Speed of Love" wasn't released as a single, it is burned into my music memory because it was the first track on Side B of cassette I owned. I honestly don't know if I still own that cassette. Maybe I'll do a little search and provide an update later.

Back to the singles, "If You Fall in Love with Me" was the lead single off Powerlight. It was released in advance of the album, in November, 1982. It reached #17 on the US Billboard Hot 100, #4 on the US Billboard Black Singles, and #31 on the US Billboard Hot Dance/Disco charts. It was also nominated for a Grammy. And, as far as I can tell, this was the only single to receive the music video treatment. That video pretty much features the band performing in the virtual reality of a retro-futuristic Egypt. While the video effects were close to cutting edge at the time, they now they remind me of late 1990s screen savers. "Side by Side," the album's second single, was released in April of 1983. It peaked at #15 on the Billboard R&B Singles chart. Billboard (April 9, 1983. p. 47) described the song as a "blending of jazz vocals and chords in the funk of a rhythm ballad." "Spread Your Love" was the third and final single released off Powerlight, hitting the airwaves in June of 1983. It peaked at #57 on the US Black Singles chart, but it really deserved a wider audience. 

Seriously: The message of "Spread Your Love" – that human love is damn serious – is one that is still very much needed today. 

FlashbackPowerlight (February 1983)

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!

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Just Like Magic by Sarah Hogle

 Dangrdafne review 

This book was recommended in a tweet by a good friend I trust with book recommendations. I immediately ordered it through my local bookstore "The Next Chapter" but when it finally came in, I was in the throws of Christmas and didn't pick it up. Then a few more book purchases covered it up in my to be read pile. Finally this weekend, I dumped checking social media and set out to read the book.

I did NOT read the blurb on the back and dove in. Imaging my surprise when I realized this book was not set in reality. LOL! I did wonder how my friend loved the book so much but I also knew she would never recommend something that wasn't good. So while this non-reality definitely threw me for a loop and I found it a little hard to get into the book, once I finally let it all go and read all the hilarious current people, places and events in the book and how many of them are related to what my family  and I like ... and dislike, I was in 100%.

What a wonderful read. Well rounded characters with a great story and so much laughter and wonderful holiday cheer. I think I am glad I read this after the Christmas season, as it is keeping the spirit of the season going for me now. 
One thing I really loved was how important each word was. You should not speed read this book as every word matters and means something to the story. There are many names and you have to read each to enjoy the hilarity that Sarah puts into the book. The play on words too just enhances each chapter.
I can't wait to give this book to my Mom to read. I know she will wonder why in the beginning chapters but as she goes along she will completely understand and agree with me that this is very funny and good story. I can say without a doubt, I have never read anything like it before ... and that is a good thing.

4 paws

This is the back of the book blurb that I didn't read and in the end, I am glad I didn't :)

Friday, February 10, 2023

Friday 80s Flashback for February 10, 2023

[Still Socially Distorted] -- Forty years ago this week – on February 11, 1983 – Social Distortion released their debut LP: Mommy's Little Monster. There's plenty of distortion, and it has definite social orientations with its "snarling anti-establishment lyrics and themes" [AllMusic]. What this record lacks in polish it more than makes up for in raw power and attitude. One can argue that the band matured in both songwriting and musicianship (check out their 1990 single, Ball and Chain), but Mommy's Little Monster is a pure punk classic. And I have to say that it still holds up really well. Take it for a spin!

FlashbackMommy's Little Monster (February 11, 1983)

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, February 7, 2023

Stargirl - Final season

 Dangrdafne review:

While this is not my favorite show that we watch, I am grateful for a teen female lead on a broadcast TV show. In addition, all the teen characters that are on this show as leads are excellent. 

We did take a little too long to catch up with this show as I had a hard time remembering what happened last season. I caught on as we went along but I could have done with a possible small re-watch of the last season. You definitely can not just watch this season and be ok, you need to watch it all as it is a long con and you need all the information they offer to enjoy it and follow along.

Brec Bassinger is excellent as Star Girl and I love her story line with Pat and her Mom. It is a good tale on step-parenting and the power of family. In addition to the family by marriage, I adore the family by choice through friendship. At times it was a little tiring to watch the teen angst but I guess that means it was done well ;)

The first half of this last season was slow and a bit too meandering but the second half drew me in more and the story had a pretty good payoff to end the series. I will miss this strong female and this incredible family both marriage and friend. The final finale offers that there may be more story to tell and I guess then that time will tell.

2 paws first half

3 paws second half

4 paws for female teens to watch!

Friday, February 3, 2023

Friday 80s Flashback for February 3, 2023

[Quick Step Twinning] -- Thompson Twins were not twins and none of the band members were named "Thompson." Rather, this 80s synthpop act adopted their name from a pair of detectives (Thomson and Thompson) who appeared in the comic strip, The Adventures of Tintin. The first incarnation of Thompson Twins as a musical act was a quartet in 1977. Between their debut and 1981, they expanded to a sextet. But the best known version of the band is the trio of Tom Bailey, Joe Leeway and Alannah Currie. And 40 years ago this week, on February 1, 1983, the trio of Bailey, Leeway, and Currie released their first album: Quick Step and Side Kick (or simply Quick Step in the US and Japanese markets). 

With this release, Thompson Twins finally enjoyed international success; in addition to peaking at #2 in the UK, Quick Step and Side Kick reached the top 40 in Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, and the US. It also charted within the top 100 in Australia and The Netherlands. The first single, "Lies," peaked at #67 on the UK singles chart and #30 on the US Billboard Hot 100, but it also enjoyed a two week run at #1 on the American dance chart in the Spring of 1983. Plus, the music video for "Lies" could be considered an early use of virtual reality. Well, sort of. The complete video takes place in a computer animated room and features the band members (or simply their heads, arms, and feet) appearing and disappearing without cause. The album's three other singles all peaked within the top 40 (or close to it): "Love On Your Side" peaked at #9 on the UK Singles Chart, #45 on the US Billboard Hot 100, #6 in the US Billboard Dance/Disco Top 80, #48 in the US Cash Box Top 100, and reached top 40 or better in several other countries; "We Are Detectives" was a top 10 hit in the UK; and "Watching" peaked at #33 on the UK Singles Chart. 

Non-single standouts include "Love Lies Bleeding," "All Fall Out," and "If You Were Here." You might recall "If You Were Here" because it was featured as the ending theme for the coming-of-age film Sixteen Candles (1984). I have to point that out because "If You Were Here" is quite possibly my favorite Thompson Twins track. 

Flashback: Quick Step and Side Kick (February 1, 1983)

Well, 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!