Happy Thoughts

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I once heard someone say, “In a world of darkness – be the light.”   If I may alter that quote just a bit … “In a world of negativity – be the positive.”  You wouldn’t know it, but it has been a very challenging couple weeks for me.  I just have to keep reminding myself that “some people are just not happy unless they are trying to make others unhappy.”

Here are some things that made me happy this week:

Bless You Boys!

I was reminded that 35 years ago this week, the Detroit Tigers beat the San Diego Padres in the 1984 World Series.  Remembering that amazing season always brings a smile to my face.  In the final game, Kirk Gibson faced Goose Gossage.  There was some chatting at the mound because they couldn’t decide whether or not to walk him or pitch to him.  Gibby launched an amazing homerun off him!  I can still remember Vin Scully calling it by saying, “And there it goes!!!!”  Pandemonium!  I rewatched that video more than once this week!

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Autumn Leaves

The leaves are changing.  Fall is probably my favorite season.  It makes me think of high school homecoming parades and football games.  It makes me think of Alumni Band.  It makes me think of sitting around bonfires in hooded sweatshirts.  It makes me think of those last few weekends up north closing up the trailer for winter.  I love the beauty of autumn.  Here in Michigan, we have such wonderful fall colors.  I love to walk outside in the fall and just get lost in thought.  Fall makes me happy.

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Here’s Johnny!

This month Sirius XM Radio has a Johnny Carson channel (105) and they are playing old episodes of The Tonight Show.  I cannot even begin to tell you how much I am loving these!  Johnny was the best.  These dated monologues are still funny today!  Today, I laughed a little bit harder than I should have at one of the jokes.  He was talking about a previous joke he did about McDonalds.  He then asked “Have you ever been to the Beverly Hills (California) McDonalds?  They serve escargot there.  They call them, McSlugs!”

Listening to his reactions to when a joke bombs is just hilarious!  His banter with Ed and Doc is also very funny.  It’s been great to hear classic interviews with Mel Brooks, Eli Wallach, Buddy Hackett, Don Rickles and more!  It’s also been neat to hear some of the early stand up from Jerry Seinfeld, Ellen DeGeneres, Garry Shandling, and others.  He was a master – and he still makes me laugh.

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Baby Kicks

I have saved the best thing for last.  My wife is 22 weeks along now and she has been feeling our baby move.  Earlier in the week, she started to feel baby kicks.  We were lying in bed this week and she said the baby was kicking.  She placed my hand exactly where she was feeling them, and I felt her kick!  It was light, but it was there!

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I don’t care how many times I feel it, it still amazes me!  My wife feels her move a whole lot more than me, so to feel this little “bump” against my palm makes me more and more excited for her arrival!  It gets more and more real as we get closer.  I get emotional thinking about it.  She’s going to be here soon!  We’ll be able to hold her and kiss her.  I’ve been creating my “Bedtime Song List” for her.  There are some favorites that I sang with my boys when they were babies, and I will be singing them for her too.  I probably need to start working on “Daddy’s Little Girl” and “My Special Angel” – songs that I obviously couldn’t sing to my boys!

February will be here before we know it – and I am sure there will be many stories to be shared about her here!

Final Thought

It really isn’t hard to find things that make you happy.  Look around – they are right there!  Find the happy & SMILE!

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Favorite Films – The 80’s

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This blog is a continuation of a series I started earlier this week. Somebody had the idea to post a list was to consist of your favorite films from each year of your life.  So, you start with your birth year and move ahead year by year and list all the films from each year.  A post from the Avocado site came up in my “Reader” list of blogs that had the same principle, but with one exception – you can only pick one movie from each year. My last blog focused on my favorites from the 1970’s and this one will feature the 1980’s.

I have a feeling that there will be more movies per year for me to pick from in this decade.

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1980 was a year for sequels.  Burt Reynolds and Jackie Gleason returned for another adventure in Smokey and the Bandit II, Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker faced off in The Empire Strikes Back, and Christopher Reeve was back as Superman in Superman II. We were first introduced to Jason in the first of many installments of the Friday the 13th franchise.  Queen provided the theme song for the film Flash Gordon.  A few years before he was dealing with a Delorean, Robert Zemeckis directed Kurt Russell and Jack Warden in Used Cars. Jack Nicholson yelled “Here’s Johnny!” in the Shining and Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin dreamed of knocking off their boss in Nine to Five.

I mentioned in the last blog that I had a feeling it would be more difficult to pick just one movie per year as I headed into the 80’s.  That was proven to be true as I looked over the movies for 1980 and saw three of my all-time favorites were released.  ANY three of these could easily be my one pick for the year for the following reasons (1) all three of them have an amazing cast (2) all three of them are funny (3) all three of them are all full of great movie lines!  I want to break the rules and make this a three way tie!  Alas, I have to pick just one.

The first runner up – Caddyshack. Such a funny movie that is quoted every day on golf courses all across the country!  Rodney Dangerfield, Ted Knight, Bill Murray, and Chevy Chase all combine their talents to make this such a funny movie!  Second runner up – The Blues Brothers. John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd are Jake and Elwood Blues.  It is a comedy of epic proportions and has one of the best soundtracks ever.  Also, very quotable.

The pick for my favorite, though, has to be THE most quoted movie of the ’80s – Airplane!  “I am serious.  And don’t call me Shirley!”

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Lloyd Bridges, Robert Stack, Peter Graves, Leslie Nielsen, Robert Hayes and SO many more!  The Zucker Brothers brought us this comedy, a direct rip-off of a film called Zero Hour (look for the comparison on YouTube), and it is a joke after joke laugh riot.  Having serious actor say these comedy lines straight makes the line even more funny!  The scenes with “Johnny” are worth the price of admission!

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1981 brought us some great films.  Some of my favorite action movies from ’81 include Burt Reynolds in Sharky’s Machine, and Sylvester Stalone and Billy Dee Williams in Nighthawks. Adventure films included stop-action creatures from Ray Harryhausen in Clash of the Titans and our introduction to Indiana Jones with Harrison Ford starring in Raiders of the Lost Ark (the face melting scene still creeps me out!).

1981 was full of comedies, some better than others (Remember Ringo Starr’s Caveman?!).  Dudley Moore was brilliantly funny in Arthur.  The Muppets return for fun in The Great Muppet Caper.  Chevy Chase, Dabney Coleman, and Nell Carter appear in the underappreciated Modern Problems.  George Hamilton plays dual roles in a film I recently blogged about, Zorro The Gay Blade.  Not his best, but I still laugh at Jerry Lewis’ Hardly Working.  And Mel Brooks offered up History of the World Part I (and left many of us longing for Part II).

Stripes starring Bill Murray, John Candy, and Harold Ramis comes in as a close second here.  It could easily be THE favorite for this year.  It is still funny today, and I find myself quoting it often.  Just edging it out as my favorite is The Cannonball Run.

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Burt Reynolds leads an all star cast in the race across the country!  Silly fun and many funny lines.  Dom Deluise, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. Farrah Fawcett, Bert Convy, Jamie Farr, Roger Moore, Jack Elam, Adrienne Barbeau, Peter Fonda, Terry Bradshaw, Mel Tillis, and so many more star in this comedy, which will always remain one of my favorites!

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In 1982, Sylvester Stallone introduced us to Rambo in First Blood while Harrison Ford starred in Blade Runner (which finally just recently got a sequel).  ET phoned home, Sean Penn was stoned out of his mind in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and Scott Baio had super powers in Zapped!  Airplane II: The Sequel recycled some old jokes and was not as good as the original.  Michael Keaton drove Henry Winkler crazy in Night Shift.  Creepshow was creepy (and had a cool cameo from Stephen King).  A favorite from this year is Steve Martin’s Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, which is shot in black and white and Steve interacts with old movie stars.

My top pick for 1982 has got to be Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

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I didn’t care for the first Star Trek film, but this one was excellent.  Again, we have the original cast back on the Enterprise.  This film goes back to the original series for a tie in.  Ricardo Montalban played the character on the series and now, years later, he finds Kirk and plans to get his revenge.  It is a great story, and the film has a powerful ending.  The best of the entire series in my opinion.  Montalban is just amazing in this movie!

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The scene with William Shatner screaming “Khan!” – how can you not love it?

1983

I can already sense the backlash I am going to get for my pick from this year, please remember this is MY list and not yours!

In the comedy category, 1983 had Michael Keaton stepping in for Teri Garr in Mr. Mom. Gary Busey, Marsha Warfield, and Mr. T are a riot in DC Cab while Bob and Doug McKenzie (Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis) get their first feature film in Strange Brew. Dan Aykroyd takes on “mom” in Doctor Detroit while Rodney Dangerfield takes on his mother-in-law in Easy Money.  1983 also introduced us to the Griswold family as they make their trip to Walley World in National Lampoon’s Vacation.

The Skywalker’s were back for the third part of the original trilogy in Return of the Jedi, while Christopher Walken woke from a coma with psychic powers in The Dead Zone.  And who can forget Al Pacino’s thrilling performance in Scarface?  My pick for favorite of this year is a holiday classic – A Christmas Story.

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So why this film?  Because it remains one that I faithfully watch every Christmas.  Who can’t relate to the way the Parker boys feel as Christmas approaches?  While it is set in the 1940’s, their excitement mirrors what every child feels during the holidays.  It’s a classic!  I had the chance to see the Christmas Story house this year (and blogged about it) and it was fun to walk through.

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As I looked over my list from ’84, I once again see more comedies than other genres.  Eddie Murphy went to Detroit to film Beverly Hills Cop, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis took on the spiritual realm in Ghostbusters. Michal Keaton and Joe Piscopo are mobsters is Johnny Dangerously.  We meet the first batch of recruits in the first Police Academy movie, while Cannonball Run II fell flat, despite a great cast. Sight gags and puns galore were seen with Val Kilmer in Top Secret, and we first met Sarah Connor in the first Terminator movie.

1984 was the year the Detroit Tigers last won a World Series.  I will never forget the excitement of that series or the season that led up to it. Perhaps that is why my favorite flick from 1984 is The Natural.

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Robert Redford is Roy Hobbs and he is an amazing ball player.  The film is based on a 1952 book by Bernard Malamud.  (Spoiler, in case you haven’t seen it) In the book, Hobbs strikes out at the end.  However, in the movie, there is an amazing homerun that knocks out the lights and sparks fly all over the place – one of my favorite endings!

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“Knock the cover off the ball ….”

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My list of favorites from this year is not too long.  Not that there weren’t some great films released, because there were, but many of them didn’t make an impact on me.  I enjoyed the James Bond film A View to a Kill (Roger Moore as Bond), Harrison Ford in Witness, and Chevy Chase as Fletch.  The “Brat Pack” film The Breakfast Club was released with your “stereotypical high school teens”. The Goonies was one I watched once. It was ok, but I didn’t see the hype that everyone else did.  As stupid as it was, Transylvania 6-5000 always made me laugh.  Jeff Goldblum, Ed Begley Jr., John Byner, Geena Davis, and Michael Richards are all part of the cast, and there are some funny (and some very dumb) scenes.

Who would have thought that a board game could inspire a very funny film?  Clue came out in 1985 and had three different endings (it varied on wherever you saw it).  Christopher Lloyd, Tim Curry, Martin Mull, Madeline Khan, Michael McKean, Eileen Brennan, and Lesley Ann Warren play the various people from the game and it is just a blast to watch.  This easily could be my pick, but there is one film that stands out far above the rest.

As someone who always loved stories about time travel, I was hooked immediately by the trailer for Back to the Future. It remains one that I can watch over and over today.

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There is just SO much to love about this film!!!  Great story.  Great characters (and a great cast).  Comedy.  Suspense.  Good music and a cool car that when it hit 88 miles per hour, you saw some “pretty serious sh*t!”

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1986 really doesn’t have a stand out film for me.  I enjoyed Top Gun with Tom Cruise (it also has a sequel coming out).  Little Shop of Horrors was an ok movie (Steve Martin as the dentist is a high light).  Tough Guys had some good scenes, but with big stars like Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas, I expected more. One Crazy Summer had some funny scenes, but wasn’t a laugh out loud riot.  Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was good.  I loved the premise of this kid skipping school and doing all that he did … and still making it home before his folks found out (what kid didn’t want to do what Ferris did?!).

The only film that stands out to me from 1986 is one that you may question.  It gets the my pick as favorite for sentimental reasons.  The Three Amigos starring Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Martin Short.  I don’t care how many times El Guapo yells “It’s a sweater!”, I laugh!  But that is not why I picked this one.  Back when my oldest son was just diagnosed with autism, we were watching this movie.  There is a scene where the Amigos are sitting around a campfire and they begin to sing the song “Blue Shadows”.  My son walked to the TV and just stared.  He loved that song.  At that time, we had no idea if he would ever really speak more than a few words.  He would watch this scene over and over! I even have it on my iPod because it makes me think of him.

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After the song, we used to have to wait for the turtle to say “Goodnight, Ned” before we had to rewind that scene.

1987

1987 offered up some classics.  Who wasn’t freaked out by the rabbit scene in Fatal Attraction? Even though you saw it coming, you cried when Richie Valens died in La Bamba. Louis Armstrong’s What A Wonderful World was given new life on the radio thanks to Robin Williams in Good Morning, Vietnam. “Nobody gets outta here without singing the blues” is one of my favorite lines from Adventures in Babysitting.  Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks team up for a Dragnet movie that misses the mark.  Danny Glover and Mel Gibson first teamed up for Lethal Weapon and Kevin Costner played Elliot Ness in The Untouchables.  We also enjoyed the fairy tale The Princess Bride and Mel Brooks parodied Star Wars and space movies with Spaceballs (“We Break for Nobody!”

If you loved Airplane, but have never seen Amazon Women on the Moon, you need to.  It’s as silly as Airplane and has some very funny scenes.  For years, I’ve joked that I’d like my funeral to be like a roast.  I said I would want people to share funny stories about times we shared together.  In this film, there is actually a funeral that is a roast – with a dias that includes Steve Allen, Slappy White, and other comedy greats!

My 1987 favorite goes to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.

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This is just one of the best John Hughes films.  You get every emotion watching this film.  There are times that are laugh out loud funny and there are times where you are wiping tears from your eyes.  Steve Martin and John Candy are just great together.  This film makes me miss John Candy.  He was such a great actor.

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In 1988 Dirty Harry returned in The Dead Pool, Tom Hanks wished he was Big, and Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall were Coming to America.  Bruce Willis starred in the first Die Hard and Michael Keaton was Beetlejuice.  I was impressed by the interaction between humans and cartoons in Who Framed Roger Rabbit and (as a Monty Python fan) loved John Cleese and Michael Palin in A Fish Called Wanda.

With my favorite movie that kicked off this decade (Airplane), it should come as no surprise that my pick from 1988 is The Naked Gun starring Leslie Nielsen.

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Shortly after Airplane, the Zucker brothers created Police Squad.  It was a short lived TV show starring Leslie Nielsen as Lt. Frank Drebin.  It aired just 6 episodes.  The show is the premise for the movie.  George Kennedy replaced Alan North and OJ Simpson (pre-murder trial) also starred.  Ricardo Montalban plays the villain in this and is just great.  Not as many lines as Airplane, but just as funny!!

“It’s Enrico Palazzo!!”

1989

As I come to the last year of this decade, I am faced with the same issue I had with the first year.  I have many favorites from this year and wonder just how I can pick only one movie as a favorite!

Comedies included Eddie Murphy in Harlem Nights, Weird Al Yankovic starred in his first film UHF, John Candy was Uncle Buck in another John Hughes film, and Charlie Sheen was Wild Thing in Major League (“Just a bit outside!”).  Bernie is dead, but he still has quite an adventure in Weekend at Bernie’s. Jack Palance plays a wonderful bad guy in Tango and Cash and the Griswold’s host Christmas in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. And I can’t forget to mention that Doc Brown and Marty McFly return in Back to the Future II (which some people hate because it goes back and forth from time to time – but that’s what I love about it! That, and the fact that they reshot original scenes from Part I and then had the characters interact within that scene.)

Two films that really stand out from 89 are not comedies, but adventure movies.  The runner up for my favorite is Tim Burton’s Batman.  As a fan of the 1966 Batman, I was excited to see how this film would be portrayed.  Michael Keaton played Batman and I thought he did ok.  Jack Nicholson as the Joker was amazing!  I loved his interpretation of the character (though I still believe Cesar Romero is the best).  It was really well done.  This brings me to my favorite film of 1989 – Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

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In the Indiana Jones series, I always felt this was the strongest of them all.  Harrison Ford is again great as Indy, but his father, played by Sean Connery, steals the scenes.  I can easily see my dad and I fighting with each other like these two do if we ever were off on an adventure like this.  I just love their interactions with each other.  They are both just perfect in this film.  The final scene is also just a picture perfect ending!

So with that, let’s ride into the sunset.  When we return, let’s dive into the 90’s, ok?

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Thanks for reading!

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Favorite Film – The 70’s

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I guess I saw this on Facebook some time ago.   Somebody had the idea to post a list of your favorite films.  The list was to consist of your favorites from each year of your life.  So, you start with your birth year and move ahead year by year and list all the films from each year.  I am SURE I have this idea written down in my notebook of “blog ideas”.  A post from the Avocado site came up in my “Reader” list of blogs that had the same principle, but with one exception – you can only pick one movie from each year. You can read that blog here:

https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/73828787/posts/2442817483

I am going to say that narrowing down just one film from each year will be next to impossible for me.  I am going to attempt to do it.  I have a feeling that I will go back in a day, a month, or year from now and think, “No, I should have picked _____ instead!”  At any rate, some of these will be easy to pick, and some I will have to “eenie meanie miney moe” to pick just one.  Maybe this is a topic I revisit each year?  I don’t know.

I am going to break it down by “decade”, so each post will include 10 films.  Deep breath.  Here we go – back to the year I was born:

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Of the 1970 films that made my personal favorite list, many have “war” themes:  M*A*S*H, Kelly’s Heroes, and Tora! Tora! Tora!  Other films include Dean Martin in Airport! and the Mel Brooks comedy The 12 Chairs.  Of all of the films from the year of my birth, if I had to pick my absolute favorite, it would be the classic biopic, Patton.

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George C. Scott is brilliant as Patton!  He won the Oscar for Best Actor for his role.  The film won seven Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director.  It’s an amazing film.

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1971 was the year that George Lucas would release his film THX 1138, Gene Wilder starred in the classic Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and Clint Eastwood starred in the film that scares all radio DJs – Play Misty for Me.  But it is another Clint Eastwood film that gets my vote for my favorite film of 1971, Dirty Harry.

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There are so many good Clint Eastwood films!  It doesn’t take long for Eastwood to establish what kind of character Dirty Harry is! Come on, you know the quote:

“I know what you’re thinking: “Did he fire six shots or only five?” Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I’ve kinda lost track myself. But being this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do you, punk?”

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1972 was the year we saw Burt Reynolds in Deliverance, Charles Bronson in The Mechanic, and the all star cast of the Poseiden Adventure that included Gene Hackman, Shelley Winters, Ernest Borgnine, Red Buttons and others!  It was also the year that introduced many to two of the best known adult films, Behind the Green Door and Deep Throat.  1972 is probably the easiest year to pick a hands down favorite for me – no doubt about it – Mario Puzo & Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather.

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The novel is amazing.  The movie is just as powerful!  The cast (many unknown at the time) is just perfect!  It is hard to imagine anyone else as these characters.  Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, Abe Vigoda, Richard Conte, Alex Rocco, and so many others star in this superb film about family and power.  I don’t think a week goes by without me quoting this film!  The film won the Best Picture Oscar and Brando won (and refused) the Oscar for Best Actor.

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While 1973 had some good films, in going through my list, they all are just “ok” to me.  In other words, there is no real “WOW” movie for me.  Charlton Heston is good in Soylent Green, Al Pacino is good in Serpico, The Sting had Paul Newman and Robert Redford (and the tune The Entertainer), Clint Eastwood is back for a Dirty Harry sequel called Magnum Force, and then there was the Exorcist.  I guess if I HAD to pick a favorite, it would be American Graffiti – because of two things (1) the music and (2) Wolfman Jack!

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1974 was a bit more difficult to narrow down to just one film.  The reason for this is that I have some classic favorites that were released in ’74 and “how do I just pick one?”  Two of my favorite Charles Bronson films, Mr. Majestyk and Death Wish, came out this year.  Also, two of my favorite Mel Brooks films were also released – Young Frankenstein (“That’s Frahn-kun-steen”) and Blazing Saddles!  It did, however, become clear that the one film that had to be at the top for 1974 was The Godfather Part II.

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The first time I saw it, I hated it!  I can’t lie about that.  I was confused by the shifts from past to present.  However, it became very clear with a second and third watch that the shifting from past to present is what makes this movie SO amazing.  If you really must see it all in order, you can rent the Godfather DVD and watch it chronologically.  This movie is where you really see the genius of Francis Ford Coppola.  Robert Deniro is just amazing as Vito and Al Pacino’s portrayal of Michael is about as perfect as it can get.

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1975 was the year that had us doing the Time Warp, thanks to the Rocky Horror Picture Show.  The Sunshine Boys was supposed to star Walter Matthau and Jack Benny (there are clips of screen test shots on YouTube somewhere), but when Benny died, George Burns stepped in.  Jack Nicholson is “crazy” good in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and Dean Martin starred in a forgotten favorite, Mr. Ricco.  The one movie that really stands out for me from 1975 is based on the Peter Benchley novel – Jaws!

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Like many, I couldn’t swim at the beach for some time after seeing it!  Now, they actually show it on a screen while people float in rafts and tubes on a lake in the summer time!  And who can forget the Jaws theme?

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In 1976, America celebrated it’s bicentennial year.  It was a very patriotic year and there were some good films in theaters.  The Watergate Scandal was the focus of All The President’s Men.  Clint Eastwood returned in another Dirty Harry sequel, The Enforcer and the western The Outlaw Josey Wales.  The wonderful Barbara Harris was featured in both Freaky Friday and Hitchcock’s Family Plot (two very opposite roles!).  Mel Brooks offered up Silent Movie, while an all-star cast (Charlton Heston, Robert Mitchum, Glenn Ford, Henry Fonda, James Coburn, and Cliff Robertson) appeared in the war film, Midway. We were first introduced to Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa in Rocky and Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor were first teamed together in Silver Streak.  There are many reasons I could pick any one of these as a favorite, but I am going to go with one I already featured as my favorite – Murder By Death.  You can read that blog here:

https://wordpress.com/post/nostalgicitalian.com/856

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It’s such a fun film and I revisit it often.

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1977 was a year of great films!  There was Woody Allen’s Annie Hall.  Then George Burns first took on the role of God in Oh, God. John Travolta danced to the Bee Gees in Saturday Night Fever. We were introduced to the comedy of the Zucker brothers with Kentucky Fried Movie. Mel Brooks saluted Alfred Hitchcock in High Anxiety.  The “other” space movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, hit theaters, too.  From here, I was able to narrow things down to two faves, but as I said, I can only pick one for the year. While Star Wars could easily be the top pick for 1977, I am going with Smokey and the Bandit.

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Burt Reynolds, Jerry Reed, Sally Field, and Jackie Gleason took us on a wild ride and this remains my favorite for a number of reasons.  First, it’s just funny.  Second, there are some very cool stunts.  Third, “East Bound and Down”.  Last, there are so many great quotes!

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Smokey JUST beats out Star Wars, probably because it’s a comedy.  Don’t get me wrong, Star Wars is a CLASSIC, and at some point I really need to blog about the influence of that film on me as a 7 year old kid!

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In 1978, we first meet Michael Myers in John Carpenter’s Halloween.  Peter Falk appears in the “sorta” sequel to Murder By Death in The Cheap Detective.  Robert Deniro and Christopher Walken star in The Deer Hunter.  Cheech and Chong go Up in Smoke.  Christopher Reeve first donned the cape in Superman.  Burt Reynolds starred as a stuntman in Hooper and tried to kill himself in The End.  We got chills that multiplied as we sang along with John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John in Grease.  I’m honored to have Eddie Deezen (who plays Eugene in the film) as a friend on Facebook and he often shares cool stories about the film.  Time to pick my favorite from 1978.  It is yet another very quotable movie – a comedy – National Lampoon’s Animal House.

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Kent Dorfman.  Flounder.  Pinto.  Bluto.  D-Day.  Otter.  Animal House remains as funny to me today, as the first time I saw it.  John Belushi is just awesome in this film.  I have said before that Belushi can emote more with just his eyebrows than any other actor.  I also love John Vernon as Dean Wormer – he is such a great actor!  It’s amazing that “Shout” from Otis Day and the Knights is still requested at weddings 40+ years later.  One of my most quoted movies!

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“Zero.  Point.  Zero.”

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Closing out the decade, I see my list of favorites for each year growing more and more.  In 1979, Sigourney Weaver appeared in the first (of many) Alien films.  George Hamilton’s comedic take on Dracula was in Love at First Bite.  Sylvester Stallone appeared for his second “round” as Rocky in Rocky II.  Star Trek became relevant again, as it appeared on the big screen for the first time (with the original cast members) with Star Trek: The Motion Picture.  Steve Martin brought The Jerk to life.  Alan Arkin and Peter Falk are great together in The In-Laws.  Robert Stack, Eddie Deezen, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, and so many others appeared in 1941 (It didn’t do all that well at the box office, but I still love this silly film). To me, my favorite of 1979 goes to the genius of Jim Henson – The Muppet Movie.  I STILL marvel at this one!

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This was such a breakthrough film.  For the first time we saw Muppets walking!  We saw them riding bikes!  The technological stuff that was achieved in this movie is still awesome to me.  This movie had tons of big cameos (including Edgar Bergan’s last film role) and just wonderful music.  I blogged about the music previously and you can read that here:

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What a “groovy” and “far out” list, huh?  I will have to move on into the 80’s next time.  I can tell you, it will be much more difficult to pick just one for every year in THAT decade!

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Midweek Music – Norah Jones

I missed Tune Tuesday for a couple weeks, so here is a musical blog.

In 2003, I was surfing from radio station to radio station and came across a song that “stood out” to me.  The singer had this sultry, smokey voice that peaked my curiosity.  I had no idea who she was and had never heard the song before.  I stood out to me because it sounded almost like a jazz standard, something like Frank Sinatra would have recorded.  The song was “Come Away With Me” by Norah Jones.

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The served as the title track of Norah’s debut album.  In 2003, Norah was about 24 years old.  She recorded the album in late 2000-2001 (so she would have been around 21). The album was very successful, peaking at #1 on the Billboard 200.  It also was a Grammy winning album walking away with Grammy’s for Best Pop Vocal Album and Album of the Year!

The song is so simple.  Her vocal is beautiful on this song (and all of those on this album).  It is one of my favorite songs to just sit and relax with.

Come Away With Me

“Come Away With Me”


Come away with me in the night
Come away with me
And I will write you a song

Come away with me on a bus
Come away where they can’t tempt us
With their lies

I want to walk with you
On a cloudy day
In fields where the yellow grass grows knee-high
So won’t you try to come

Come away with me and we’ll kiss
On a mountaintop
Come away with me
And I’ll never stop loving you

And I want to wake up with the rain
Falling on a tin roof
While I’m safe there in your arms
So all I ask is for you
To come away with me in the night
Come away with me

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Another song on the album that is just amazing is “Don’t Know Why”.  The song was written by Jesse Harris and had actually appeared on an album he did in 1999.  He teamed up with Norah at some point and she recorded it.  The word is that the song on the album is actually the first and only take of the song.  Norah told performingsongwriter.com:

“It was a demo I sang for Jesse in May of 2001. That was the first take of the song on that recording, and that’s the one we used for the record. I think it was really beautiful. It was so spontaneous. That’s what made it so cool. I feel like that’s why people connected with it. We were lucky we captured some kind of spark.”

In another story I read, the bass player thought he was too loud and almost stopped the take.  He admits, he is glad that he didn’t, as he calls the take “magic”.  I would agree.  It truly is an amazing cut.  In 2003, it won Grammy’s for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

 

 

Don’t Know Why

“Don’t Know Why”

I waited ’til I saw the sun
I don’t know why I didn’t come
I left you by the house of fun
I don’t know why I didn’t come
I don’t know why I didn’t come

When I saw the break of day
I wished that I could fly away
Instead of kneeling in the sand
Catching teardrops in my hand

My heart is drenched in wine
But you’ll be on my mind
Forever

Out across the endless sea
I would die in ecstasy
But I’ll be a bag of bones
Driving down the road alone

My heart is drenched in wine
But you’ll be on my mind
Forever

Something has to make you run
I don’t know why I didn’t come
I feel as empty as a drum
I don’t know why I didn’t come
I don’t know why I didn’t come
I don’t know why I didn’t come

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The album remains one of my favorites.  She does a great cover of “Cold, Cold Heart” and other songs on it.  Whether you want to call the album Jazz, Pop, Blues or Folk, it doesn’t matter to me.  I call it – AMAZING!

“My heart’s all a flutter…”

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About 5 or 6 years ago, I started feeling these little “flutters” in my heart.  I went in to the doctor, they made me wear a holter monitor.  It showed some PVC’s and such.  That led to an echocardiogram.  I was then told I needed a sleep study to find out if I have Obstructive Sleep Apnea (which I do).  I told them I already use CPAP and they said, “Good” and adjusted some of my meds.  The flutter went away.

Fast forward to about 6 weeks ago.  The flutter returned.  So I went back to the doctor and in one of those rare occurrences, my heart actually fluttered while she was listening to my heart.  (There is nothing worse than going in and saying something is happening and then having it NOT happen while you are there!)  She ordered yet another echocardiogram (which I go to next week) and another monitor.  This time, though, its very different.

Instead of wearing this big bulky holter monitor, I am wearing a “Zio Patch”.  I have to wear it for two weeks, and wonder if its going to stay on.  It’s actually very cool.  It just sticks to my chest.

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I wish my chest looked like this, but it doesn’t.  LOL.  I had to shave off a bunch of chest hair and scrub it with this sandpaper-like pad.  Then alcohol wipes (FEEL THE BURN!) four times and apply the monitor.  Now it is supposed to sit there for two weeks.  Any time I feel a flutter or any type of lightheadedness, pain, or other symptom, I push the button and log into the app on my phone and explain what I felt.

My biggest fear is that it won’t happen while the monitor is running.  Worrying about that was stupid, because sure enough, I started having flutters within an hour of having it on.  With this particular monitor, I hope I put it on right so they actually can read the data!  I was the one who had to position it, unlike the holter where a tech placed all the leads.  I did what the pictures showed me, so fingers crossed that it is in the right spot.

I will follow up with the doc after the two week monitoring period and find out what the scoop is.  Hopefully, it’s just a simple tweak in medication or stress (gee, I’m not sure what could possibly be stressing me out!).  Actually, hopefully it’s nothing!  We’ll see.

In the words of Herman’s Hermits …. “Baby, baby, can’t you hear my heartbeat?!”

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“Let It Go!”

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With the upcoming birth of our daughter, my wife will often quiz me on Disney Princesses. This will be my first daughter and princesses are kind of a big deal! When Sam is getting ready for work she will often listen to her Disney Pandora channel. When a song comes on, she will ask, “What’s this one from?” Sometimes, I get it right, and sometimes I get it wrong. I have titled this blog “Let It Go” because it ties in with Disney Princesses and the apology I am about to make.

Remember Dana Carvey’s “Grumpy Old Man” character on SNL?

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I’m not sure I have been quite as obnoxious as that character, but I know that I have gone against so many of the things I have posted in the past few months. I guess this proves three things (1) I am human (2) practicing what you preach can be difficult and (3) I need to always remind myself to “Let it go”.

I know for a fact that I have been in a “mood”, because I haven’t blogged as often as I have wanted to. My mind has been preoccupied with BS that I cannot control. I’ve never been able to really meditate or do “mindfulness” stuff, maybe because I can never seem to find a place and a time where there are no distractions. I wish I could, that might help.

So today’s blog is an apology, mainly to my wife, who knew things were bugging me and made me aware of it. It is an apology to my friends, who I have called and vented and ranted and raved to. It is an apology to you, because I am not a hypocrite, and need to practice what I preach. It is also an apology to myself, because I should never have let myself get to this place. I know better.

Time is precious, as I have stated in past blogs, so why spend so much time wasting it on worthless bullshit? I guess I have spent so much of my life doing it, that it is a hard habit to break. I have come a LONG way, but I was reminded this week that it doesn’t just go away, I still have to keep working on it. I’m an old dog, and this is a new trick. I must constantly be aware of the techniques I have learned to cope with certain situations and certain people. I must consistently practice them, not only for my own sense of well-being, but for those around me.

So I have gone back to my many notes and have compiled a mini-list of ways to “Let It Go”. They include:

Stop Talking About It

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Complaining is almost a natural response to being upset. Talking about it constantly isn’t going to help me (or anyone). Complaining basically stimulates my mind to keep thinking about it. Many times, as I have learned in hindsight, complaining can make a small issue, bigger than it is. Hey, sometimes you gotta vent and get things off your chest, but I guess the key to it is to vent and move on. Once it’s talked about, be done with it.

Put It In Perspective

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“What’s the most likely thing that can happen?” When you ask yourself that, you can see possible outcomes and even realize that you can get through it. We tend to think of the “worst case scenarios” and go there without ever considering the other perspectives. It’s hard to remember that you often think about would “could” or “might” happen instead of what actually will happen. A great practice I was told to try was to ask, “How much is this going to matter tomorrow?” “How much will this matter in a year?”

Let Go of Control

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The old saying holds true here: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.” If life has taught us anything, it is that we cannot control the behaviors of others or the random events in life. What we CAN control is how we react or respond to those things! This is my biggest challenge. It is extremely difficult for me to use the “Gray Rock” method. I mean, I’m Italian, I talk with my hands! It goes against all that I have ever known, but I know that it’s the way to react to certain individuals.

Recognize the “Crazy”

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How appropriate is Mickey Mouse here? Disney! It all ties in! LOL!

With some people, you simply have to remind yourself of WHO you are dealing with! I have to remind myself that they probably suffer from some sort of mental illness. Perhaps it’s Narcissistic Personality Disorder or Bi-Polar Disorder (the signs are there for both). This person is like an angry teen who needs control over everything. When they do not get their way, there is a meltdown. “You need to treat them like an immature child” I was told. So true.

Understand that these people need “you to be the enemy”. This only makes them look better to those who don’t know your side of the story. They will elaborate and create stories to make you look bad. It’s what they do. It’s part of the mental illness. You can’t control this, and I have already talked about the things you can’t control. If you can recognize the “crazy”, it will help you to deal with the craziness that comes with interactions with them.

I love Maya Angelou’s advice, “The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.” Recognize who they are!

Set Boundaries and End the Drama

In some cases, communication has to happen with certain people. When vocal communication gets hostile, whether on the phone or in person, the conversation needs to end. If this happens regularly, then communications need to be done through text or e-mail. This will avoid (1) one person interrupting (2) yelling and raising voices and (3) the need to say sarcastic or under the breath comments or insults. This will (1) allow for a “paper trail” of the communication (2) no contact communication and (3) allows for short and concise communication.

Set the boundaries and stick with them. Don’t let others take advantage of you, use you, or guilt you into doing things or thinking things. Be the constant!

Closing thought

Someone sent me a Facebook message recently that said “you can’t let the behavior of others steal your joy. But if you do, it’s your choice. Focus on being the best and happiest that you can be – that’s where your energy should go. Set the best example you can and spend time and energy on people who lift you higher.” There is a lot of truth in that.

So in the words of Elsa, “Let it go!”

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100

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Sometimes I feel like I repeat myself in my blogs.  If I do, I apologize.  In all honesty, sometimes I forget if I have mentioned something in a previous blog.  I have been meaning to hook up with my friend and fellow blogger, Max, to learn how to index the content that I have already published.  I guess I should do that sooner than later. So pardon me if I have said this before.

When I started this blog, I did it primarily for me.  It was a place for me to (1) write about the things I was dealing with in my life (2) write down memories for my children to look back on and read in the future (3) occasionally rant about things that bothered me and (4) share memories of things that interest me (movies, music, TV, etc…).  I first began blogging in the days of My Space.  This would have been around 2005-2007.  To my knowledge, my My Space page is still in existence in cyber space, but with the dawn of Facebook, I haven’t done anything on it in years!  I used to blog on there all the time, the blogs used to pop up on your front page.

Some time ago, My Space removed the blogs from everyone’s page.  I contacted them because many of those blogs had personal things I wanted to remember.  I blogged often in the months and weeks proceeding my mother’s death.  I blogged about the birth of my second son.  All of those were gone.  They provided me a link to go in and download all of my blogs.  All of the comments were gone, but the original content was there.  For that, I am glad.  Re-reading some of them is emotional – they capture a moment in my past and give me a sense of what I was feeling at that time.  Some of those old blogs have been updated and additional thoughts have been added here.

At any rate, during the time I was blogging, I was told by someone I was once close to that “nobody cares about the things you write about”.  For whatever reason, I was constantly being told by this person to stop writing.  Occasionally, I would write a “note” on Facebook, which was similar to the My Space blogs.  These were also met with negative responses and the request was again made to stop, which I eventually did.

Fast forward to almost two years ago, when I started to blog.  I had been in therapy trying to sort out things in my life and it was suggested that I keep a journal.  I mentioned that I used to blog and my therapist asked why I had stopped.  She encouraged me to begin blogging or keeping a journal – and this is it. Blogs have ranged from fun stuff to serious stuff. I began to share links to my blog on Facebook, and many of my friends began following it, and sometimes, even sharing it on their page.  Through Word Press, I began to follow other blogs written by people who share my love for music, old movies, and classic TV.  Often times, my blogs will inspire someone to write one and vice versa.

All of this brings me to why I am writing this blog.  Today, I was informed that this blog now has 100 followers!  I am humbled that 100 people would find the topics that I write about worth reading, let alone wanting to be informed every time I write something new!  I thank you for reading and I thank you for interacting.  If there is every anything you’d like to see this blog explore, I would love to hear it.  Writing is often met with what some call “writer’s block” and I often face the “What should I write about today?” dilemma.  Feel free to offer suggestions.

There are those who say that bloggers/writers/authors should write everyday, no matter what – even if you are just scribbling a sentence or two.  For me, time is an issue.  Finding the time is always the challenge.  I try to write as often as I can. Sometimes, the stuff I write never makes it here and ends up as a Facebook status.  For example, this week marked the anniversary of my grandma’s passing, today is the 117th birthday of the great Larry Fine of the Three Stooges, Sam is starting to feel our baby move, and it’s Homecoming week – all things that I could probably blog about (and probably should).  I just have to find the time!

Thanks for following!  Thanks for reading!

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