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 23, 2024

Friday 80s Flashback for February 23, 2024


[Holding that 40-Year-Old Gap] -- Here's another record that turned 40 years old this month: the fourth studio album by Thompson Twins, Into the Gap. Released on February 17, 1984, Into the Gap peaked at #1 in the UK and #10 on the US Billboard 200. It also peaked in the top 40, or higher, of several other countries. It is the band's most commercially successful album with their biggest selling single, "Hold Me Now." 

"Hold Me Now" hit the UK charts in November 1983, but it was not released in the US until February 1984, with the release of the album. That delay did not seem to hurt the single's success. It peaked at #3 on the US Billboard Hot 100. It also hit the top 10 in three other Billboard charts as well as global charts. The next two singles, "Doctor! Doctor!" and "You Take Me Up," peaked at #11 and #44 on the US Billboard Hot 100 respectively. 

Critics were mixed in their assessments of Into the Gap. My favorite slag might be the one in Smash Hits magazine that accused the band of representing "the usual triumph of naked ambition over talent." And the best backhanded compliment came, of course, from J. D. Considine in Musician who wrote that the band's gimmicks and synthesizer settings "make the album seem dazzling even when it isn't." 

Thing is, Into the Gap is kind of dazzling. And it's not just the singles, though they do the heavy lifting, particularly "Hold Me Now." Each track has its own personality, and listening to the album as a whole is a journey of shifting styles. But if you want to pick and choose, I would say other highlights on this album include "Sister of Mercy," "Day after Day," and the album's closer, "Who Can Stop the Rain."

FlashbackInto the Gap (February 17, 1984)




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 20, 2024

The Marvels - Disney +

 

Three incredible actresses portraying three incredible characters. I absolutely loved all the scenes between the three leads. I hope they had as much fun together as it looked like in the film.

I loved how the movie fit into the timeline and it was good to see enough exposition to know what was going on for each character. 

I definitely loved the fangirling Ms. Marvel did over Captain Marvel. It was so real and true to her character and also felt like she was us in the movie. What a joy Iman Vellani is in the movie and from her own series. 

I was also thrilled to see Goose again  I loved how integral the cat was to this story 😉 Quite the clever storyline and use of the adorable cat.

There was really only one major part of the movie I didn’t like and it definitely didn’t seem to fit but overall I enjoyed the story. I’d love to see more of The Marvels working together in future movies. The three women were just amazing together. 

3 paws


Friday, February 16, 2024

Friday 80s Flashback for February 16, 2024


[Who's Watching?] -- I know we are midway through February, but I just had to reach back to the end of January for this week's Flashback. Rockwell's debut album, Somebody's Watching Me, turned 40 years old on January 30, 1984. The title track had been released about a month earlier, and thanks to its catchy hook, and those guest vocals by Michael Jackson and Jermaine Jackson, it rocketed up several charts. In the US alone, "Somebody's Watching Me" peaked at #2 on the US Billboard Hot 100, #1 on the US Hot Black Singles (Billboard), #2 on the US Cash Box Top 100, #3 on US Dance/Disco Top 80 (Billboard), and #31 on US Top Tracks (Billboard). The song also reached the top 40 on charts around the world, if not the top 20. The follow-up single, "Obscene Phone Caller," also reached the top 40 in the US. The third single, a rather forgettable cover of the Beatles' "Taxman," did not chart very well. 

The rest of the album fits somewhere between rock and pop, very much of the times. In fact, I'm surprised unreleased tracks like "Runaway" or "Foreign Country" never got tapped for TV or film. They might not have worked lyrically, but if you take away Rockwell's singing, the remaining instrumentals would be tailor made for cinema ... or maybe video games. There's some really good keyboard and studio work here!

FlashbackSomebody's Watching Me (January 30, 1984)




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 13, 2024

Locke and Key - Netflix

 


I have had this on our list probably since the first season (2020). I only know the title and that it was a popular comic book series. We finally started it the other week and we flew threw the 3 seasons as fast as we could. What an incredibly unique story and show.

I adored Jackson Robert Scott as Bode, he was perfection and we already came in to the show with a love for Connor Jessup (Tyler) from seeing him in Falling Skies and even getting to meet him at SDCC during a signing. But the definite showstopper was Emilia Jones as Kinsey. Holy Moly did that girl have a lot to do and she was spectacular. I LOVED how the 3 siblings stuck together and the love between them was easily felt. 

Darby Stanchfield as the mom Nina was incredible. She had quite the roller coaster of story line and she played it beautifully and realistically. 

We were also pleased to see Aaron Ashmore as Duncan. The Ashmore brothers are two of our favorite actors and I would say we have always loved the shows we have seen them in throughout the years. This was no exception and it may even be one of our most favorite roles yet.

Petrice Jones as Scot was a joy. His voice and accent were just wonderful and he was an excellent anchor for many parts of the story. Coby Bird as Rufus was also just a lovely character and portrayed so well by Coby. 

As I scroll through IMDB to get the correct actor names, I realize I could write something great about each actor/character. This was a well rounded show for acting and story telling. I had a friend say they just couldn't get into the 2nd season but I can't see how. We LOVED the second season. We just rolled through it all in one day.

I definitely don't see any loss of interest or story by having not read the source material... and neither has Brainwise (shocking that we have a second show that Brainwise didn't know). Of course that almost makes it more fun to watch because he has to guess too as we go along.

I will state that season 3 is not 100% the same as the first two seasons and now after reading the differences between the show and the comics, we know why. It doesn't mean it is bad by any means, it is just different and there is a reason. I don't like to give anything away if possible, so I will not say any more :)

I just love how unique this show is and how great the actors portray their characters. I would actually watch this whole series again and as you know this is usually my meter on how good something is. 

4 paws

Friday, February 9, 2024

Friday 80s Flashback for February 9, 2024


[Industrialized Emotions] -- On February 7, 1984, The Alan Parsons Project released their seventh studio album. Ammonia Avenue is forty years old this week, but its themes are probably still just as timely, even if the album itself shows some of its age. Per Mike DeGagne of AllMusic, this album is all about "how the lines of communication between people are diminishing, and how we as a society grow more spiritually isolated and antisocial." These ideas are strongly borne out in the lyrics of "Prime Time," "Don't Answer Me," and "You Don't Believe," all of which were released as singles. 

Notably, for an album dedicated to the depersonalization of technology and industry, there isn't actually much synthesized music. In fact, for a progressive pop album, there are surprisingly moving guitar riffs and saxophone lines, at least I think so. Of course, the studio itself is the primary instrument for this particular artist, and so the recording might, at times, seem far too clean to be emotional, even on vinyl. 

Ammonia Avenue is often regarded as a failure, particular when compared to some earlier recordings by The Alan Parsons Project. Rolling Stone trashed it. Still, the album peaked at #15 on the Billboard 200, as well as within the top 20, and even the top 10, of other countries. "Don't Answer Me" reached #15 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and within the top 20 of several other US charts. "Prime Time" reached #34 and "You Don't Believe" fell short of the top 40, peaking at #54. Wikipedia indicates "Since the Last Goodbye" was a minor hit. It is a nice ballad, so some stations might have put it into rotation, but I have not found chart info for it.  

Are you an Alan Parsons fan, and do you have an opinion on this record? 

FlashbackAmmonia Avenue (February 7, 1984)




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 6, 2024

Old Guard - Netflix

 

I had no idea what this movie was about, of course it’s been about 3 years since this was released. I didn’t even remember it was based on a comic book until Brainwise started saying how different scenes looked like the book. 

The number one thing I will say about this movie is that it is ULTRA violent. I mean ULTRA violent. There was quite a lot that I didn’t watch because it was just too much. 

Charlize Theron looked incredible and was superb in this role. The story was very interesting and we found out that a second movie may be coming. I look forward to the story but maybe not the violence. 

Again it was good to see a female main character and a bad a$$ one at that. Kiki Layne was awesome and also very bad a$$ too. I also adored the scene between two of the male characters expressing their love for each other while in quite a bind with the bad guys. 

Such a very different story and incredibly interesting.

3 paws

Friday, February 2, 2024

Friday 80s Flashback for February 2, 2024


[Love is Still Saying: Let the Music Play] -- Forty years ago this week – on February 1, 1994 – American dance and freestyle singer Shannon released her debut studio album: Let The Music Play. The album peaked at #32 on the Billboard 200, while the title track peaked at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 as well as #1 on the Billboard dance chart. Not only that, "Let The Music Play" snagged Shannon her first Grammy Award nomination, which was for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance (she lost to Chaka Khan's "I Feel for You" during the 27th Annual Grammy Awards, on February 26, 1985). 

Perhaps you recall "Let The Music Play" from Shannon's appearance on the TV show, Solid Gold (Season 4, Episode 23, Feb 25, 1984). Or you might remember the Breakdance Sensation '84 promo video. You might not know that she didn't see royalties from that tune for decades (I know I wasn't aware)! 

There were four singles in total released from this album. The next two singles after "Let The Music Play" – "Give Me Tonight" and "My Heart's Divided" – also enjoyed some chart success. "Give Me Tonight" charted on both the Billboard Hot 100 and dance charts, while "My Heart's Divided" charted only on the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play, but it peaked at #3. The only clunker on this record, in my opinion, is the sixth track, "It's You." But the album bounces back fiercely with "One Man," which could have been a soundtrack or TV theme contender, and then closes out strong with a remix of "Let The Music Play."

Let me know if you remember this record. And if you agree with my assessments. 



FlashbackLet The Music Play (February 1, 1984)




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, January 30, 2024

Paper Girls - Amazon Prime

 

I know this is based on an excellent comic book but I have not read it nor do I know anything about it. But the main characters are girls and I know it is a popular story so I added it to our watch list last year. 

I am so glad I did. What an excellent series!! The girls were fantastic and the story was extra wild but really good. I didn’t have any issue trying to follow along with the story and while I may have missed some tie ins from the comic book series I don’t think it was anything critical. 

It’s good that I felt satisfaction with the ending since it will not have a second season. Not that I wouldn’t watch more if they had gone on but I felt closure with the story as told. 

The casting was incredible. I easily believed the versions we were shown and I wonder how the actors felt looking at versions of themselves. 

The music in this series was awesome too! Lots of "oldies but goodies" :) 

4 paws

Friday, January 26, 2024

Friday 80s Flashback for January 26, 2024


[Runaway] -- Bon Jovi was released 40 years ago this week, on January 21, 1984. This was the debut album by the band Bon Jovi led by vocalist Jon Bon Jovi. Confused between album, band, or person? Let me explain a bit more.

Between 1980 and 1984, Jon Bon Jovi (born John Bongiovi) worked at Power Station, a recording studio in Manhattan. The studio had been co-founded by Bon Jovi's cousin, Tony Bongiovi, who probably provided the younger man's entry to the facility. Most stories I heard, as I recall, note that Jon Bon Jovi was mainly a janitor, or held some kind of all-around errands runner position, for the studio. But he had after-hours access, and he recorded several of his own demos there. 

A demo for "Runaway" got included on a local radio station's compilation album. After that song got more airplay in the NYC area, Jon Bon Jovi was able to snag a record deal. The label wanted a band name for the contract, and the label's own artists and repertoire department came up with ... Bon Jovi. 

Jon Bon Jovi put together the fledgling band lineup with the help of keyboardist David Bryan (who was David Rashbaum at that time). It was Bryan who brought in bassis Alec John Such and drummer Tico Torres. Bon Jovi's (the band, not the person) first lead guitarist was Dave Sabo, but he was replaced by Richie Sambora. This band played on all but one track of the debut album -- yep, "Runaway." The eponymous debut album used a 1982 recording of "Runaway" done with Power Station's studio musicians, The All Star Review.

"Runaway" was a top 40 hit in the US. The follow-up single, "She Don't Know," peaked at #48 on the Billboard Hot 100. It is also the only song in Bon Jovi's catalog that was not written by a member of the band. Mark Avsec (of Donnie Iris & The Cruisers penned it. Bon Jovi, the album, peaked at #43 on the US Billboard 200. But a solid debut with some commercial success is only part of the popularity formula. The band also had to earn respect on the road. And that wasn't easy with this first record: I recall letters submitted to publications like CIRCUS Magazine that all but asked Bon Jovi to "please run away" -- apparently, some rock fans did not want Bon Jovi opening for their favorite acts.

Still, despite some vocal critics, Bon Jovi was a serviceable and energetic debut. Sure, it wears its lyrical and musical tropes on its sleeve. And just about every song here is about heartache or chasing after someone who caused heartache. But that's part of the charm of early 1980s rock music! So, if you're only familiar with "Runaway," here are a few very subjective notes for you. 

The albums three low points are "Love Lies," "Burning for Love," and "Come Back." I don't recall disliking them in 1984, and they're not truly terrible, but I'm pretty sure I didn't wear out the cassette over them -- except to fast forward to the next song. 

And here are my high points on the record, ranked with the highest first: 
  1. "Runaway" (of course)
  2. "Get Ready" (almost, but not quite, an anthem with its jump-up-and-down chorus exhorting the crowd, repeatedly, to "come on, come on, get ready"
  3. "Shot Through The Heart" (but surprisingly not about giving love a bad name)
  4. "Roulette" (a great, driving song)
  5. "Breakout" (seemed tailor made for an 80s movie) 
  6. "She Don't Know" (a standard song of "she don't even know my name" teen angst, but it's done well)
FlashbackBon Jovi (January 21, 1984)




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, January 23, 2024

Arcane - Netflix series


We came to see Toks Olagundoye as Mel and we were treated to one of the most incredible shows all around. Seriously, I have nothing negative to say … except I want more. And luckily, while we watched season one, we found out season two is coming this year. 

I have zero knowledge about the League of Legends game this is based on but I had no issue following along and easily being in the story. In fact, I was so into the story that when we had to stop watching the first night I couldn’t stop thinking about what happened and what was to come. I was impatiently waiting to get back to the series. 

One of the main things I loved about the series was the music. Both the score and the soundtrack were other characters in the episodes and were integral to the storytelling. 

The animation is like nothing I’ve seen before but then I don’t play any video games. But then I also don’t know if the animation in this series is the same as the game either. 

I think the voice actors for the characters were perfectly matched and I adored Toks as Mel. Her character was so layered and grew during the season, it was a joy to watch and listen. 

4 paws and a tail

Friday, January 19, 2024

Friday 80s Flashback for January 19, 2024


[Strange Funk] -- 40 years ago this week, Cameo released their 10th album, She's Strange. This one topped the Billboard R&B Albums chart (#1), and it peaked at #27 on the Billboard Pop Albums chart, on its way to a Gold certification for netting over 500,000 sales. How did this veteran funk band generate so much success with this record? By retaining their core funk ethos while not being afraid to experiment. Per AllMusic critic Alex Henderson, young audiences in particular were ignoring horn-powered funk in favor of hip-hop and music that employed modern technology. That is, they wanted electro-, but not necessarily eclectic, funk. 

Now, Cameo did not completely abandon those funky horns, but they did embrace new tech and rap, using the changing marketplace to fuel their creativity. The end result is a funk record that is laced with rock, slings raps, and even delivers cooldown segues over some lite jazz. Cameo leader Larry Blackmon's fearlessness in the face of change certainly contributed to his band's durability. 

Top moments for me: "Talkin' Out The Side Of Your Neck," "Tribute to Bob Marley," and "Leve Toi." But don't sleep on the title track and first single. There's a reason it peaked within the top 50 of the UK Singles and US Billboard Hot 100 charts, as well as reaching the #1 slot at the top of Billboard's US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, where it dominated for four weeks. 

FlashbackShe's Strange (January 16, 1984)




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!

Friday, January 12, 2024

Friday 80s Flashback for January 12, 2024


[Might As Well Jump] -- Van Halen stormed onto charts, radio, and record stores with their 1978 self-titled debut album. By the end of 1983, about a year and a half after they released their fifth studio album, Diver Down, Van Halen was one of the biggest rock bands in the world. Their brand of hard rock – dubbed "high velocity folk music" by vocalist David Lee Roth – was easily recognized. 

And that changed on January 9, 1984, with the release of Van Halen's sixth studio LP, 1984.

Well, I guess the change actually came in December 1983. That's when the album's first single, "Jump," was released. Sure, the song became the band's most successful single, as well as their first to reach the #1 spot on the US Billboard Hot 100. But more important was what that single heralded, which was a change Van Halen's sound, and specifically a change in how guitarist extraordinaire, Eddie Van Halen, would compose and record music. Yes, guitar hero Eddie was playing keyboards and synths. 

Now, "Panama" and "Hot For Teacher," the third and fourth singles respectively, were pretty much in the vein of classic Van Halen. But the second single, "I'll Wait," was a synth-laden love song. And the album's title track was a short instrumental that prominently featured synthesizers. 

1984 peaked at #2 on the Billboard 200, but just couldn't muscle itself out from behind Michael Jackson's Thriller. And although 1984 was successful, even muscling itself into the hearts, and wallets, of the most diehard Van Halen fans, it marked the end of an era. 

There had been mounting tensions in the band before 1984, particularly between Eddie and Dave. For years, both singer David Lee Roth and Warner Bros. producer Ted Templeman had routinely discouraged Eddie from dabbling too much into keyboards when it came to the band and their sound. 1984, in both process and sound, was apparently not a direction Roth wanted to continue down, and he quit the band. LoudWire compiled some of the potential reasons for the split [September 2003]. American Songwriter points directly at "Jump" as being the starting point for the drama that ended in a rift [June 2023]. But so much of these "Why did the band break up?" stories are looking backwards and trying to pull threads together, and even when dealing directly with the people involved, memories are not perfect. 

But you know what is perfect, at least in my opinion? 1984. It came out around the middle of my high school years, and I was swept up in this force of nature masquerading as an album. I wore out both the cassette and an LP. The pop sheen of the more radio-friendly hits rests in a comfortably shaky balance with the glam metal elements. Van Halen wold make more records, with other vocalists and with Dave. And some of those later records rival 1984's success. But they cannot rival 1984, or even approach, its status as a milestone. 
 
Flashback1984 (January 9, 1984)




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!

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Christmas Movies 2023 Part 2


The Hogfather

When Death and his granddaughter are the most normal part of the show, you know your in for something waaay off the beaten path.

Brainwise was very excited to watch this three episode miniseries on Amazon Prime. I had zero idea what to expect and even now that it’s finished I’m not sure I still know what I watched. But it was good. Not sure how I know this but I believe it to be true. The less you know, the better it will be for your viewing :)

3 paws


Candy Cane Lane

What an incredibly fun romp of a movie. Eddie Murphy and Traci Ellen Ross were perfection together. This was a great family show and I laughed so much. Very clever and different. Definitely would watch this again. 

3 paws 


Best Christmas Ever

While there is definitely some questionable humor in this movie, I ended up crying in the end. It was a lovely story about friendship and belief in magic. Brandy was lovely in her role and I’m glad they included her singing. I liked the story and it came with some twists and turns too. 

2 paws




Friday, January 5, 2024

Friday 80s Flashback for January 5, 2024


[Bounded Four Decades] -- I spent much of 2023 revisiting albums that turned 40 that year. No surprise that I wanted to continue that work in 2024. And this week in 1984 saw a bunch of releases, most of which were even dated January 1. So, I had many options for the first Flashback of 2024. I'd like to tell you I made this week's choice due to a desire to ease into this new year. But, really, it was a memory. A memory of this artist and how I found this album. 

I don't recall how I first saw live footage of Michael Hedges performing. My best guess is PBS, via a Windham Hill concert taped at the Filene Center at Wolf Trap in Vienna, VA. Dad was a Windham Hill fan, and he knew I liked Shadowfax, one of the featured performers. Anyway, during that July 1986 performance that I viewed on TV, Hedges monologued to introduce his song, "Because It's There," briefly told a story about guitar shopping in Texas, and saying that he purchased a "longhorn model" (see 0:20 through 0:59 of the previously linked video). He was referring to a harp guitar, the "longhorn" of which was a second, curved neck with additional strings (the "harp" part of the guitar). 

That performance, and his covers of Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" and Sheila E.'s "A Love Bizarre," made me a fan. And it led me to track down what he had recorded at Windham Hill. Spoiler: He had not yet put his covers on an album. But, still, this brings me to this week's Flashback. 

Aerial Boundaries was Michael Hedges' second album for Windham Hill, but my first in my reverse chronological order. I somehow skipped 1985's Watching My Life Go By until much later. And, oh, what an experience this record is. Hedges's use of alternate tunings and his two-handed percussive technique wrought more music out of a guitar than I had ever thought a single person could achieve. Though he isn't completely alone: Mike Manring adds fretless bass on "After the Gold Rush" and "Menage a Trois," with Mindy Rosenfeld (whom Hedges had married in August of 1981) joining in with flute on that latter track. Writing for AllMusic, Daniel Gioffre referred to Aerial Boundaries as "one of the finest acoustic guitar albums ever made." The reviewer at Windhaming, a site that was dedicated to the first 100 Windham Hill albums, wrote: "This is one of those few albums that served to define a genre by showing all that it is capable of, while simultaneously & immediately appealing to both casual listeners & those most in the know" [quoted text via michaelhedges.com]. It's an album that, I think, certainly helped define and popularize ambient acoustic music in the mid to late 1980s. 

My favorite tracks: "Aerial Boundaries," "After the Gold Rush," "Spare Change," and "The Magic Farmer."

FlashbackAerial Boundaries (January 1, 1984)




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!