The Go-Gos – an underappreciated group

The Go-Gos are the first popular all female band that played their own instruments and wrote their own songs. There were earlier female bands, but this New Wave group catapulted to the top of the charts faster than others and belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. A Showtime documentary called “The Go-Gos,” produced by Alison Eastwood, provides a great look into the band.

The Go-Gos are usually identified by the five members when they hit it big – Belinda Carlisle (lead singer), Jane Wiedlin (rhythm guitar), Charlotte Caffey (lead guitarist and keyboards), Kathy Valentine (bass guitar) and Gina Schock (drummer).

Ironically, they started as a punk rock band as the initial members felt they were not part of any other culture. Their initial drummer was Elissa Bello and initial bassist was Margot Olavarria. Even more surprising, none of the four initial members knew how to play instruments. Fortunately, in punk rock, belng a bad musician was not a total liability. So, they played and learned. Caffey joined them and brought musicianship and song writing. And, when Bello left due to a paying career, she was replaced by Schock who had been drumming for years. Valentine would replace Olavarria later.

They hit it off with Madness and The Specials, two Ska revival UK punk rock bands, when they played in the US. So, The Go-Gos joined these groups on a tour of Scotland. It should be noted their first manager Ginger Canzoneri sold everything to underwrite their UK trip. Now, the Ska bands attracted a white nationalist fan base that did not like non-Scots, Americans and women playing in a band, so the group took a lot of grief which toughened them and made them a more cohesive group.

They released “We’ve got the beat” as a single under Stiff Records in the UK. When they returned to the US, they signed with IRS Records and released their double platinum album “Beauty and the Beat” which soared to #1 on the Billboard charts. The album included their hit single and “Our lips are sealed,” “Get up and go,” and “This old feeling.”

They would release “Vacation” as their second album, whose biggest hit was the title cover. “Talk Show” followed, but by that time, the band was having troubles. Personal differences, song writing revenue sharing and drug issues led to the eventual split. Wiedlin left and was replaced by Paula Jean Brown, but the band would not last long after that.

The band would break up in the mid-1980s, but tour off and on in the 1990s through today. There was even a Broadway show called “Head over Heels” about the band. Carlisle would go on to have a successful solo career and the others would form or join bands. Yet, they would reconvene to celebrate and re-perforn what made them great.

The Go-Gos had a fun, energetic sound. They also played with a joie de vivre. They influenced many a young girl to strive to be a musician or artist or follow a passion. Seeing someone like you on stage is an inspiration.

Do you think they deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. What are your favorite songs or memories?

The Last Movie Star

Burt Reynolds starred in a movie late in his life called “The Last Movie Star” which is surprisingly poignant. Reynolds plays Vic Edwards, an aging movie star, who accepts a lifetime achievement award from a movie lover’s group in Nashville. But, he comes to the conclusion the first night, the group waa over-advertised and beneath his dignity. So, you won’t start out liking this man.

But, stay with it. Not trying to give away too much plot, he asks Lil, the sister of the group’s leader who serves as his driver, to detour from driving him to the airport and go to Knoxville, where we find out he is from. Suffice it to say, we learn a lot about him on this journey.

The movie uses actual footage of Reynolds earlier movies. He talks with his younger screen self as a means of sharing what is going on in his aging confusion and reflections on past decisions.

The movie was directed by Adam Rifkin and stars a largely young cast – Ariel Winter as Lil, Clark Duke as Doug, and Ellar Coltrane ss Shane. Chevy Chase plays his friend Sonny and Kathleen Nolan plays Claudia, his first wife.

If you have seen this movie, let me know what you think. If you have not seen it, avoid the temptation to give up on him. Also let me know what you think, once you have. The movie was rated as OK by the rating agencies, but 93% of Google users liked it.

Note, the movie was made in 2017 and released in early, 2018. Reynolds died in September, 2018.

The Princess Bride – a fun movie for all

Start with a beautiful heroine, a cavalier pirate, and an evil prince. Add one giant of a man, an eleven fingered bad guy, a Spanish swordsman, a scheming genius and a host of other great characters. Finish up with a great story read by a grandfather to his sick grandson and you have the delightfully charmlng “The Princess Bride.” About five years ago I wrote a post on this movie, which I will repeat below. “The Princess Bride” is a movie the whole family can watch and enjoy during our sheltering-at-home time.

“Mawwiage. Mawwiage is what bwings us together today.” Although this line is picking on people with speech impediments, in the context of the movie “The Princess Bride” it is quite comical, as it is uttered by the magnificently attired priest who is conducting a wedding service for the bride to her unloved groom. It is so unexpected it becomes farcical. And, that is one of the reasons why this Rob Reiner movie is so entertaining. It does so many unexpected things and all ages will enjoy the story, as narrated by a grandfather, Peter Falk, as he reads to his grandson played by “The Wonder Years” star Fred Savage.

The story fascinates as it begins with true love between a young girl played by Robin Wright in her first movie (before “Forrest Gump” and “House of Cards”) and a farm hand played by Cary Elwes, who would go on to star in “Robin Hood, Men in Tights.” They get separated and she catches the eye of a hated prince played wonderfully by Chris Sarandon. The prince’s greed, though, overtakes his lust and he sends her off for a visit to another land where he asked three interesting hired assassins to kill her, so he can blame the other country and grow his realm.

Without giving away too much of the movie, the Dread Pirate Roberts enters the picture to save her and has to ward off the assassins, the prince’s henchman, and torture. The three assassins are played wonderfully by Wallace Shawn (now appearing on “Young Sheldon”), whose catchphrase is “inconceivable,” Andre the Giant (the former pro-wrestler) and Mandy Patinkin as a swashbuckling Spaniard out for revenge for his father’s death. Andre the Giant turns out to be quite the comedic actor in several scenes. Patinkin’s passion for vengeance is also room for comedy and heroics.

But, other actors play wonderful roles in large cameo parts and other scenes. Billy Crystal and Carol Kane are quite funny playing Miracle Max and his wife. Christopher Guest plays the prince’s henchman quite well, especially as he is inquiring into the pain reactions of the Dread Pirate Roberts in his contrived torture chamber. Mel Smith has a fun cameo as the torturer and Peter Cook, is the magnificent lisping priest.

Yet, the idea to have Falk read the story to Savage makes the movie feel like a fairy tale. Especially when the dream scenes are read and Savage reacts rather annoyed to the story. The story includes perils such as the fire swamp with its ROES, Rodents of Enormous Size, as well as fighting off the talents of three assassins and even overcoming death. We learn the difference between “Mostly Dead” and “Totally Dead” from Miracle Max. Yes, it is silly especially when the future princess is booed by a character played by Margery Mason, which turns out to be one of the dreams that Savage does not care for.

Reiner’s directing and casting of this wonderful movie make it a treat for all ages. The screenplay and book were written by William Goldman. Reiner’s inclusion of Mark Knopfler (of Dire Straits) in developing the soundtrack and writing the best song “Storybook Love,” which was sung by Willy DeVille, makes it even more special. I have tried to stay away from much of the plot for those who have not seen the movie. If you have not and you have children or grandchildren, download this movie, make some popcorn and turn the lights low. If you have seen it, still follow the above steps, as the kids and all in the family will get a treat.

Remember all mothers, even those not with us

When my mother died on Christmas Day in 2016, it left my wife and our siblings without any parents. So, on Mother’s Day, we must remember our mothers in past tense. Yet, they lived and made us who we are.

Our mothers were good people. They were pious and a friend to many. Both were heavily involved in their churches and tended to be the ones who helped organize food when someone passed away or for a monthly picnic. When my mother passed, the minister said she was the one he normally called to do things for the bereaved family. Now, he had to call someone else.

My mother was a teacher for years. She taught first and second grades and loved her kids. She was a substitute teacher after her children reached a school age, going back full time when it made sense. She also taught Bible Study Fellowship for years, so she was always planning to teach or teaching throughout the week. My mother learned to be a teacher at a small college in north Georgia called Berry College. She met my father there and they were married for almost 55 years before he passed.

My mother-in-law was a constant companion when my father-in-law would sing for the elderly or at hospitals. She ran a thrift store for the church and was a constant volunteer for just about everything. She met my father-in-law in Detroit, when many women traveled north to help the war effort during WWII. They returned to her home in South Carolina to farm and take care of her eldest sister who lived until the age of 99.

Both mothers had Alzheimer’s, the most hateful of diseases. It gradually robs people of their memories and they lose track of who people are, even themselves. They both could hide it well, as many do. As long as you did not ask them who people were, they knew you were on their team. Fortunately, they passed away before the lights went totally out on their memories.

I remember my mother-in-law singing with my father-in-law old 1940s and 50s songs in the back seat of our car as we drove back from a visit to my wife’s sister and her family in New York. It was dark which added to the ambience. I also remember her sitting on her glider chair on her back porch. She would stick one leg out, then switch legs as she glided and chatted.

I remember my mother in many ways. She loved crossword puzzles, as do I, so she was always asking me who certain sports figures were, when she probably already knew and just wanted to converse. She had a wonderful laugh and would do so as she recounted funny stories of youth or what happened recently. Even as her memory faded, she was still the kindest of people a gentle soul.

So, let’s remember our mothers well. They were not perfect, but they were still pretty darn fine.

Being tall can be hazardous

A trait I normally take pride in, my height, can also be a hazard. As my 6’5″ frame sits here typing, I have a bruised forehead. Why, you ask? As I filled a bucket with water and gingerly watched my footing as I walked from the hose, I ran smack into a ceramic bird house hanging from a tree limb. The impact was like a quick jab from a boxer. Ouch.

One of my tall sons was visiting, so I told him he almost found me lying on the grass, although I just staggered when I ran into the gosh darn thing. He reminded me of one of his college visits which found most of our family in an Italian restaurant in Poughkeepsie on a very rainy night. As we were leaving, both he and I hit our heads on the sloping ceiling near the door. At 6’3″, he also has to watch his head.

Which led to the telling of another story about one of the visits my wife and I had to the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC (a must see). On this visit, we stayed in the older section of the hotel riding the elevator up in a stone shaft. As we checked into the room, my wife motioned me over to the window to see the view. Well, the ceiling sloped toward the window, so when I walked over to look down, boom, another headache.

But, I was not done with that room. It had a step up into the bathroom. So, as I stepped down to get back in the bedroom, boom, another headache. Surprisingly, I did not leave with a concussion. Just a sore head and a smiling wife at her husband’s survival of head injuries.

However, the worst crash occurred while I went to college in downtown Atlanta. Walking in an above ground garage into a setting sun, I walked straight into a diagonal I-beam as I neared my car. It caught me right across the forehead. I staggered backwards as if Muhammad Ali had just stung me like a bee. I did not fall down, but it would not have been a surprise if I did.

So, being tall is nice, but it does have some hazards. As my wife would say, thank goodness I am hard-headed.

A needed idea or two

When “Saturday Night Live” first aired, they would end the funny news segment with a repeat of the top story for the hearing impaired. Chevy Chase would re-read the top story, while Garrett Morris, would shout out what Chase was reading.

If Republican Senators and leaders cannot get the president to stop doing his press conferences, maybe we need to bring out a Garrett Morris type character who would shout out over the president. The Morris character could shout, please do not accept the words of the president as the truth. What he just said is not only wrong, it is harmful.

Absent that, maybe a correspondent with some gravitas could ask the president if he actually believes what he just said? Maybe, he or she could say, are you joking or being sarcastic, as we are going to report what you just said word for word? Here is your chance to set the record straight.

Another adventuresome reporter could stop the president when he interrupts, saying I asked Dr. Fauci or Dr. Birx that question, not you. Maybe, they could be charitable and say, “Mr. president, with all due respect, I would like to hear the doctor’s opinion.”

What the latest round of remarks that offered a dangerous tactic about ingesting or injecting disinfectant (and UV light) has done, is the inanity was so pronounced and obvious, that even Trump supporters cannot hide from them. They may serve as a historical marker like Marie Antoinette’s “Let them eat cake” remark.

I know the president’s team is trying “erase the remarks” saying he was being sarcastic, but I cannot forget the look of Dr. Birx trying to hide in her chair and not look at the president as he looked at her for validation. Yet, while very memorable, these remarks are not outliers. Too many times, Trump staff has had to waste taxpayer time to make it look like the president’s remarks were not what he meant or supportable by some strange set of facts.

I forwarded my post called “Mr. president, if you cannot add value, please stop talking” to my GOP Senators and Congressman. They know already that the president has and is screwing up. At some point, as things continue, I am going to pose the question to them, are you ready to save our country, our planet and your party and support Joe Biden over your party’s candidate? There are some Republicans already there.

And, a few more relationship funnies

In keeping with the theme of the previous post, here are a few more relationship funnies. These are more anecdotal pieces of advice dressed with some humor.

Experience painfully tells us not to try new dishes on guests without first trying them on just us. I am sorry it didn’t turn out as planned…

When my parents first visited after my wife and I married, my wife baked a pie that smelled wonderfully while cooking. After cooking about ten minutes, my wife realized in horror she put too much flour in. The pie had spilled all over the stove and we were scraping it off to throw it away. My mother walks in and says “Someone has been baking!”

Make sure old furniture holds together when guests are over. An old dining room chair (from my parent’s first set) crumbled under a male guest when he sat down for dinner. Oops.

Wooden outside benches can deteriorate, too. My wife and I sat down in a backyard nook joining our son. We sat on a second bench together and our son watched us collapse like a house of cards.

With kids at home or on vacation, make sure the master bedroom door has a working lock for privacy and use it while dressing or doing other things couples do. You will have to trust me on this.

Again, please feel free to share your stories, keeping it PG rated.

We are all fixer uppers

In the age of the rise in social media and decline in truth, an underlying theme is overlooked. We are all fixer uppers. There are no perfect people, leaders, institutions, organizations, or companies.

Yet, being critical of other people and entities is increasing. I am not saying being critical is not warranted, but the volume and venom seemed to be turned higher than it should be.

When I see or hear hyper-critical commentary, I have a few thoughta running through my mind.

– The person doing the criticism is not perfect either. A good retort is “you are no day at the beach either.”

– The venom sometimes is mismatched with the accusation. The venom equates with someone who has killed your mother, when the accused transgression is much milder.

– The accusation sometimes is based on spurious information. The claim is so outlandish, people think where did you get that? Fake news permeates social media because it is like shooting fish in a barrel. This is a key reason the president deploys it so often.

– Even more reputable sources write evocative things. A retired editor once said the media is biased toward conflict. This is a key reason bad news gets far more airplay, when the frequency is by far reversed.

Yet, if you take away only one thing, please take away the following – give like you want to get. It is OK to say I do not agree with those points or find that criticism unfair. But, we do not need to take someone’s head off in so doing.

Did I tell you about the time…?

We all need some outlets from the news of the day, the Coronavirus. Words like “flatten the curve” and “social distancing” are in many discussions. So, with a Thank-God-its-Friday sense of purpose, here are few things I want to share.

Did I tell you about the time…

– I called the Senator’s office and shared my concern with the staff member and learned I was speaking with the wrong Senator’s office? Oops.

– I said to a small gathering in front of our Health and Wellness coordinator, that we need to do these Mobile Mammogram screenings for our employees to honor “Breast Awareness Month” in October. She corrected me saying that would be “Breast Cancer Awareness Month.” Oops.

– I watched a colleague walk into the wrong gender bathroom by mistake at a client’s manufacturing plant only to see a line of three women looking puzzled as he walked out? He said he thought it was pretty progressive move to have a tampon machine in a unisex bathroom (this was 1985). Oops.

– I listened to a colleague recounting small talk with a female prospective client who had picture of Don Knotts in his Barney Fife deputy uniform in her office; after multiple probing questions he learned that she just had a crush on Barney Fife? Oh my. Don’t tell Thelma Lou.

– I watched a colleague try to take a charge from an opponent during a league game for our company basketball team; he did not want to get hurt, so he started falling before he was hit and slowly fell to his backside chuckling all the way down? Ouch.

– I almost fell on my backside at our wedding when we were lighting the unity candle and stepped wrong off a step, catching myself without too much notice? Almost oops.

– I did fall on my backside at a community play, when we returned to our seats after intermission, and my folding chair back leg was off the two-feet high choral riser; as I sipped my wine, my first thought was my date was going forward, but it was me falling slowly backwards to a loud crash? Ouch, indeed. My ego was more bruised than my tail bone.

– I was working with my son last week to pull up some stumps from trees that we had cut up after they fell; as we pulled the stump as I squatted using my weight, the stump freed itself and landed me on my backside. Oops.

We have to be able to laugh at ourselves and these events. My bride is still my wife. The date went out with me again. The Health and Wellness coordinator and I still laugh about the story. I reminded the faux charge basketball player of the story when we met up again after twenty years to laughter. The Senator staff member and I had a good chuckle and I am sure she shared the story. And, my son, my wife and I laughed about my stump removal techniques.

Have a great weekend. Laugh and the world laughs with you. Especially when you fall on your backside.

Dating in the life of Purell

The coronavirus has put a hold on many things, especially with this social distancing concept. It is hitting many people hard, especially if they are impacted by the illness or work in a service industry. On the latter, people in service jobs are seeing cut backs in hours and gigs, so they may be in need of cash. Their jobs do not come with paid-time off. So, unless they can find other part-time work, they may need to look for temporary unemployment.

Our blogging friend Janis has written good post on “Love in the age of cholera coronavirus.” It is a good read, much better than this one (see link below). She is speaking in a broader sense of the word love to help each other out, especially your significant other and family, but I got to thinking about the dating life.

Dating is hard enough these days and sites range from Christian to hook-up sites and all things in-between. Toward the one end of the spectrum, safe sex is key. But, now with the age of the coronavirus, we have a new element. Dates will bring their own Purell with them. So, I guess a positive dating experience will involve the sharing of one’s Purell to clean each person’s hands. Now, on first dates, coughing will be a no-no, even if it is innocent. The looks will come. Get out the Purell!

Thinking back to my dating life before I got married in the mid-1980s, this initially unknown thing, that later was named AIDs, put a scare in all of us. At first, we truly did not know what it was and many unfounded rumors were perpetuated. If you want to watch an excellent movie, watch Matthew Modine star with a great cast in “And the band played on,” about this time of AIDs.

What is not inconsistent with today is the White House felt it was just a disease that impacted homosexuals. Today, the coronavirus was downplayed before taken seriously. Then, after many months, it became growingly clear that AIDs was not restricted to homosexuals. The White House was overtly indifferent to the crisis during this initial phase, except for the Surgeon General C. Everett Koop who through his obstinance got the message out to make condoms more available and encourage safe sex. But, so much time was lost. And, people died.

The dilemma in all of this is we still have to live our lives, but be smart about things. This is especially true for those whose immune systems are weaker. Yet, some of us may not have the luxury to socially avoid crowds. They have to make money. Or, they do not want to be alone. They want to meet someone and not put everything on hold. My wife and I can more readily hunker down as we have each other.

So, I guess we should do our best to be smart about contact, but also don’t be fearful of going out to do things. Socially distancing, cleaning hands, not touching your face and staying hydrated are keys. Avoiding people who are coughing is also good. But, while out, remember to tip big to wait staff, as they may be seeing fewer dollars. And, if you do want to date, bring the Purell. Kissing may be replaced by rubbing elbows, though.

In this time…