Fatherly Observations (AKA “Things I Forgot About Having a Newborn”)

Sam and I sat down to start filling in the baby book we received for Ella.  It’s a very nice book and has little pouches to keep her first lock of hair, baby hospital bracelet and other things.  It has places to place her ultrasound pictures, foot and hand prints, and so many other things.  In the weeks and months ahead, we will track various milestones in it.  There is a LOT of writing involved.

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Some of the things the book asks are actually a bit hard to remember, even though the thing only happened within the last 9 months!  Some of it is hard to put into words.  Some of the stuff I have written about in blogs, and may just print them out and put them in the book!  The whole reason for a baby book is so that sometime in the future, she can look through it and read about all the stuff that happened when she was a baby, right?

So we need to write this stuff down while it is fresh in our minds – before we forget them.  Believe me, there will be things you will forget!  Ella will be three weeks old on Monday.  In the time we have had her, she has brought many smiles, and also caused me to remember all kinds of things I had long forgotten about.  Here are just a few:

Baby Sneezes

This was actually the title I considered for this blog.  The first time I heard Ella sneeze, I grabbed my “Blog Ideas” journal and wrote it down.  A sneeze isn’t such a odd thing, I mean, we all do it.  A baby sneeze, however, is so tiny, soft, and gentle.  I had forgotten just how cute these little sneezes are. Gesundheit!

Get a Grip!

How do you even begin to put into words how awesome it is to have your baby grab onto your finger?  I can’t.  I know as she grows, her little hand will grasp onto mine as we walk through the store, but there is something so cool about her little hand grabbing onto your finger and squeezing it.  Those hands are powerful!  I was holding her with just a tank top on this week and her little hand grabbed a handful of my chest hair and I winced with pain – wow, that hurt!

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Baby fingernails could easily be a weapon!  They are SO sharp!  They always seem to be grabbing at their faces and as parents, we try to stop that so they don’t scratch themselves!  This is obviously a concern because many of the onsies have arms that actually fold over the hand to keep them from scratching themselves. I was holding her this week and those nails drew blood on my shoulder as she scratched me.

Ch Ch Ch Changes …. of clothes

I used to make fun of a friend of mine who used to always seem to change outfits two or three times a day.  Well, for a baby, this is so true!  They sometimes go through four or five outfits a day because of various reasons.  There always seems to be a load of clothes ready to go into the laundry!

Speaking of laundry, I had forgotten just how much I love the smell of baby laundry soap.  Whether it is All Baby or Dreft, I just LOVE the smell of it!  The first week I was back to work, I actually washed my sweatshirt in her laundry soap so I could smell it at work and think about her.

Baby Faces

One of the most amazing things about watching a baby, whether awake or asleep, is watching the many faces they make.  Sam sent me a slew of four or five pictures, all taken within a two minute period as she was waking up – they are awesome.  You see everything from happy to sad to disgust to wonder – and all the emotions in between!  Our OB/GYN had a big print of his daughter making faces in his office.  I think I may just stand over her one day with my camera to catch a variety of them and then put them into a big collage.

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You’ll Need More Time

A lesson I had forgotten:  You are now on HER time, not yours!  You have to factor in diaper changes, feedings, and so many other things before you do anything or go anywhere!  We had a 10:30am doctor appointment on Friday.  The doc is about an hour away.  I think we were up at …. 2:30am to get ready for it!  Seriously!   We had to give the baby a bath, get ourselves showered and dressed, and by the the time we did feedings and diaper changes we barely made it out the door in time!  There is SO MUCH more preparation to get out the door now!

Whoa!  That’s Heavy!

Truth in arithmetic:  8 pound baby + 10 pound car seat = 500 pounds!  I cannot figure out for the life of me how this all works out!  Maybe it is just the way you have to hold the thing?  You gotta be friggin’ Superman to carry that thing for any length of time.  I am not ashamed to admit I am winded carrying her to the car in this thing!  It’s like the baby has rocks in her pockets to weigh it down or something!  At the end of the day, I am popping ibuprofen and applying heat and ice to my arm and shoulder!

Holy Crap!

Literally!  As a parent of a newborn, you are up to your ears in poop!  They poop – A LOT!  It is not odd for me to change a diaper, and immediately hear her poop again!  I gotta be honest, sometimes I am jealous!  Here I am taking fiber just to stay regular and she can poop at will!  The last time I pooped like her, I was preparing for my colonoscopy!

The Need For Speed

Speaking of poop and diaper changes in general, you gotta be The Flash when you change a baby! I mean it!  I forgot that the new diaper has to be under them as soon as the old one is taken away.  You gotta time it just right or you will regret it!  I was changing her on our bed the other day and Sam was talking to me while I was mid-diaper change.  I was distracted.  I wasn’t fast enough.  She asked me a simple “yes” or “no” question, but it was enough to slow me down.  So as I began to answer it, Ella peed all over my side of the bed.  You gotta be fast!

Side note:  One good thing about changing a girl is that if she does pee, its dripping down and not being shot at you like boys.

It’s a Blowout!

Honestly, I didn’t forget about diaper blowouts – but I have tried!  These are traumatic!  We’ve had a few already!  These result in an immediate bath – or an entire box of baby wipes (depending on where you are)!  The anticipation of a blowout is why every diaper bag in America includes 15 outfit changes!  They are so terrifying that there is even a product available on Amazon called the “Blowout Blocker!”

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Parents everywhere are wishing they had come up with that billion dollar idea!!

Baby Sounds (That Aren’t Crying)

Baby’s make noise.  Crying is their favorite sound to make, because it is their primary form of communication at this early stage of their lives. She is not cooing quite yet, but I am looking forward to that.  For now, I get to enjoy three other sounds –

  • Burping.  She is not an easy burper.  Sometimes I am patting her back or but for 20 minutes before she burps!  When she does, it is either tiny or epic! There is no rhyme or reason for how loud it is.
  • Farting.  Farting comes easy.  Sometimes her “toots” are a bit more than a toot (see above paragraphs on poop!).
  • Hiccups.  Baby hiccups are so cute.  Sometimes I feel bad for her, though, cause she seems to have them for quite awhile.

Soothing Sounds

I don’t claim to have the best singing voice. No one is going to sign me to a big record deal.  I do, however, like singing to my baby girl.  I sang to both boys when they were babies, and now I sing to her, too.  Sometimes she likes it, sometimes she doesn’t.  I think it may be her mood.  I really hope it isn’t my song selection – I don’t know too many by heart!

We were both amazed the other day when the hair dryer turned on.  She had been fussing and crying and when it turned on – instant silence.  It was weird.  Last night, we ran the vacuum cleaner and it had the same effect!  I don’t recall whether the vacuum bothered my sons, but something tells me that the floors will be spotless if she gets cranky! I may keep the hair dryer next to my side of the bed for nights she is upset.

Snuggles

Ella spends a lot of time with mommy, and rightfully so!  She is breastfeeding, so she gets to be in mommy’s arms a lot more than mine.  When I do get the chance to hold her, I love when she is alert and looking at me.  I get lost in her eyes, I kiss her cheeks, I play peek a boo, and just enjoy every second!

I also love when she falls asleep on me.  There is something so special about just holding her.  This week she fell asleep on my chest and didn’t move for over an hour. I stared at this little miracle and thanked the Lord for blessing me with her.  Time stood still as I spent most of that time staring at her.  Of course, I had to sneak a picture to remind me of this very special moment.

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Smiles, Everyone!  Smiles!

I forgot just how much I love to see a baby smile!  According to many sources, a baby’s first smile should take place when they are about 2 months old.  According to parents.com, anything before that time is considered a “reflex smile”.  Reflex smile or not, I just love to see it on her face.  Recently, Ella was in my arms dozing off and she began to crack a smile, so I grabbed my phone to snap a picture.  My friend, Dawn, used to always say “Smile!  It’s contagious!”  She is right, because when Ella smiles – I smile!

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Which Dwarf Am I?  Sleepy!

Lack of sleep is one thing that I did NOT forget about!  The only reason I am getting more sleep than my poor wife is that she is breastfeeding.  She is up every two hours with her feeding her. I am glad for the days when I am home from work, so she can actually get a little break between feedings.

Quick Change

The saddest thing I had forgotten about having a newborn baby is just how fast they change.  She has only been here for three weeks and she has changed SO much since she was born!  Just this morning Sam asked me if I noticed how long her eyelashes had gotten.  I mean, it’s insane!  The facial features, the hands & feet, eye color, and so many other changes are happening.  I guess that’s why I am glad I am taking so many pictures!

The days will turn into weeks.  The weeks will turn into months.  The months will turn into years.  With each second that passes, my little girl will grow up.  I will love her more and more as time moves forward.  I hope she will never doubt for a second that she is Daddy’s Little Princess.

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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:

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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.

Al Pacino In 'The Godfather: Part II' Woody Allen And Mia Farrow In 'A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy' '

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:

https://wordpress.com/post/nostalgicitalian.com/1218

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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Why no, I haven’t seen that …

As a morning DJ on the radio, I was expected to watch all the “hot” shows.  I was on air when the first season of American Idol was on, when Desperate Housewives debuted, and when Grey’s Anatomy premiered.  I watched most of those shows.  What made it very difficult was that most of these shows came on after 9pm and I was up at 3:30am to be on the air at 6am.  That’s where the show prep services came in handy.  Many of them had “recaps” of all the things that happened in those hit shows and we could easily sound like we were “in the loop” with them.

Now that I only do radio part time and have a full time non-radio job, I rarely watch any of the “hype” shows.  My wife, who started watching Grey’s Anatomy when it started, continues to never miss an episode (even when she has to watch it a day later online).  There are very few shows that I have any desire to watch.  If I have time to watch TV, it is usually something old that I have on DVD or watch on YouTube.

Every day when I scroll Facebook, I can see the things that are trending and can honestly say, “I’ve never seen that.”  The past couple weeks there have been plenty of memes saying “I have never seen an episode of ….” or “When you talk about _____, I honestly just nod because I don’t know what the hell you are talking about”.  Yeah, that’s me.

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That’s right.  I have never seen a full episode of Game of Thrones.  I have seen bits and pieces because someone may have been watching it at work or in a room I walk through.  I know, it’s a big deal – to some people – not to me.

Another show I have never seen an episode of is The Walking Dead, or the various spin offs.  I know that some big characters were killed off on the show and caused a ruckus on social media, but I couldn’t tell you who, how, or why.  The whole “zombie” thing is something I just don’t find interesting.

Then there is Stranger Things.  I saw an episode or two of this.  I might watch it, if I had the time, because I think the nostalgia part of it is neat, but in all honesty, I’d rather watch one of the many old shows I have at home on DVD.

Now before you get angry, let me preface this next section by saying I have seen Guardians of the Galaxy, Iron Man and Iron Man 2, and The Avengers Age of Ultron.  I think I saw them because my boys wanted to see them.  It’s not that I am not into the whole Marvel thing, I enjoyed some of the Spiderman films.  It’s not that I don’t like super heroes, I enjoyed a few of the early Batman films.  It just seems to me that there is an over abundance of these movies out today.

These super heroes were all over my TV growing up.  They were in comic books.  They were in cartoons on Saturday morning.  I love super heroes, but to me these stories are more and more special effects than a good story.  Yes, the effects are important, but so is the story.  Some of these stories are just rehashing of the same premise.  They did Spiderman with Tobey Maguire … did we need a new series of them?  They did Superman with Christopher Reeve … did we need a newer version with what ever the actor’s name is?  I thought Michael Keaton was good as Batman … now there is a slew of Dark Knight films.

Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are all a buzz about this Avengers movie coming out.  I have a co-worker who literally threatened us to not tell her what happens in the movie, because she isn’t going on the day it opens.  I don’t see what the big deal is.  It’s just another super hero movie.  It will be filled with good versus evil, loud explosions, maybe someone will die, and millions of dollars in special effects.  I won’t be seeing this in the theater.  I probably won’t even rent it on DVD or watch it on Netflix.

Maybe I should be ashamed of that.  Maybe I am a little bit.

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Maybe, I am not.  I heard someone say once “an old movie you have never seen, is a new movie”.  The same holds true for episodes of TV shows you have never seen and books you have never read.  My book shelves are stacked with books that I have yet to read.  I have complete series of TV shows that I have yet to watch.  I’d much rather be watching those.

Just my opinion.