How Well Do You Know the 90’s?

Back in August, I asked Are You a Child of the 80’s? and included a quiz to see how well you remembered that decade. M.E. Anders, suspense novelist, asked whether I might have a pre-2000 quiz for those a bit younger than I. So here goes nothing! I give you the 90’s Quiz:

1. Who was Lorena Bobbitt?  And why should you not send her a set of knives for her birthday?

2. Did you watch the live feed of the police chasing O.J. Simpson on the Los Angeles freeway? What kind of vehicle was he in?

3. Do you recall where you were when you heard that Princess Diana had died in a car crash?

4. President Bill Clinton’s indiscretions with which White House intern led to his impeachment by the House of Representatives in 1998?

5. Did your family stockpile food and water or update their computers to handle Y2K?

6. What dance craze was spawned by a Spanish song recorded by Los Del Río?

7. To which family do the following members belong: Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie?

8. Why on earth do we care about a sheep named Dolly?

9. Backstreet Boys, New Kids on the Block, or NSync?

10. Did you ever log onto the internet from Netscape?

11. Complete the following song lyrics:  “I feel stupid and                                          .  Here we are now,                                      us.”

12. Who is this?

13. Who lived at 4 PrivetDrive, Little Whingling, Surrey, England?

14. Whose knees were attacked at the 1994 Figure Skating Championships? Which fellow ice skater was involved in covering up for the attackers?

15. Best sitcom:  Seinfeld, Friends, or Married with Children?

Bonus question: What movie is this scene from?

1. In 1993, Lorena Bobbitt severed her husband John’s man-part while he was intoxicated. Lorena was found not guilty of assault by reason of insanity brought on by her husband’s extensive domestic abuse and marital infidelities. It only took 9½ hours for doctors to surgically reattach John’s missing manhood.

2. O.J. Simpson was riding in a white Ford Bronco, driven by fellow teammate Al Cowlings, while police followed for 1¼ hours. The low-speed (35 mph) police chase attracted 95 million TV viewers and disrupted coverage of Game 5 of the NBA Finals.

3. Princess Diana was fatally wounded in an automobile crash in August 1997. Millions around the world watched her funeral on television. Wouldn’t she have been a proud mom at William and Kate’s wedding?

4. Monica Lewinsky was a White House intern who took her admiration for the POTUS too far. As for the president’s role of using his position to score with someone young enough to be his daughter, I think a lot of fathers out there would have punched him.

5. You stockpiled for Y2K? Didn’t you know that the Aztecs said all would be okay until 2012?

6. Raise your hand if you’ve done the Macarena, inspired by the song of the same name by Los Del Rio. I have!

7. The Simpsons debuted in December 1989 and is in its 23rd season. Father Homer, Mom Marge, and their three kids – Bart, Lisa, and Maggie – have been an extremely popular family. I have yet to watch an episode.

8. In 1996, Dolly was the first mammal to be cloned from an adult somatic cell. She was called the “world’s most famous sheep” by Scientific American. Dolly got her name because the donor cell came from a mammary gland, and um, well, Dolly Parton. (Really, that’s the reason; you can look it up!)

9. Oddly enough, Backstreet Boys just came up on the MP3 player I’m listening to. In case you want a reminder, here you go:

10. Netscape Web Browser was popular in the 1990’s. In fact, courts later ruled that Microsoft used monopolistic practices in pushing Internet Explorer and causing the demise of Netscape. Too late, though.

11. Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit topped charts in 1991 and 1992 and helped usher alternative rock into the mainstream. The song included the following lyrics: I feel stupid and contagious. Here we are now, entertain us.

12. The Soup Nazi was the nickname of a soup diner’s owner from Seinfeld who demanded a specific regimen when ordering. But since his soup was delicious, everyone obliged. Well, maybe not everyone. The episode aired in 1995.

13. Harry Potter lived with the Dursleys – his aunt Petunia, uncle Vernon, and cousin Dudley – at 4 Privet Drive. Until one day, an owl delivered a letter . . .

14. Nancy Kerrigan was clubbed in the right knee in January 1994 by the ex-husband and bodyguard of fellow ice skater Tonya Harding. Nancy went on to recover and win a silver medal at the 1994 Winter Olympics. For her role in covering up the identity of the attackers, Tonya served probation, paid a fine, and was banned from future USFSA-run events.

Tonya & Nancy

15. I have seen Seinfeld, Friends, and Married with Children. I can think of more classic moments with Seinfeld than the other two. Here’s one:

Bonus: Those dinosaurs are from Jurassic Park (1993) based on Michael Crichton’s book of the same name.

So how did you do? What questions would you have added to this 90’s quiz? (Or taken away?) What do you most remember about the 1990’s?

Tag, You’re IT!

In elementary school, I hated being IT. I was puny, an awkward runner, and not particularly interested in slapping people to make them freeze or become the new IT kid. But in the blogosphere, it’s fun!

So my thanks to author friend Tiffany A. White for hunting me down on the virtual playground and tagging me for the Writer’s Platform Building Campaign hosted by Rachael Harrie.

Here are the three simple rules:

You get tagged by someone;

You list 10 random facts about yourself; and

You tag 4 more people.

As if I didn’t already feel adequately esteemed, Tia Bach at Depression Cookies passed on the Kreativ Blogger Award to me! Given my love of grammar, it was a little hard for me to type that creative spelling. Just joking! I can totally relax and enjoy this award. Thanks so much to Tia! (You gotta love the title Depression Cookies, right? And she’s as much fun as you’d expect!)

For the Kreativ Blogger Award, I have:

The privilege of thanking the person who passed on the award;

The duty of writing seven things about yourself;

The honor of passing the award to 7 blogs.

So here it goes for both:


1.  The only two theater movies I’ve ever walked out of were The Fly(1986) and District 9 (2009). I wish I had left Pet Sematary (1989) – which disturbed my dreams for weeks – but I was on a date and too shy to demand we get out of there. Obviously, I hate gore.

2.  I have narrow feet. It’s hard to find shoes! If not for online shopping at Easy Spirit, Naturalizer, and Zappos, I would have to hire a cobbler to craft shoes to fit my skinny feet.

3.  I am adamant that the toilet paper should unfurl over not under. If you try to pull the T.P. from underneath, it can start a tissue avalanche and you end up with a heap on the floor. Wasted toilet paper. A shame!

4.  I collect matchboxes. It’s a little sad because I don’t get to add to it much. The collection began with my grandmother and was carried on by my sister and me. However, this was when smoking in public areas was common, and restaurants and businesses gave out matchbooks. It’s rare now. But I still like looking at the boxes and remembering places I’ve been.

5.  I hate coffee. When I drive through Starbucks, I order a peppermint hot chocolate with whipped cream. It’s absolutely delicious!

6.  I’m determined to reintroduce the word “kench” back into the English language. It’s an obsolete term that means to laugh loudly. Isn’t it great? Y’all can help by throwing it into conversation anytime you see an opportunity.

7.  I have a scar on my forehead from an injury when I was 5 years old. I was jumping on the bed (against my parents’ rule) and slammed into the door’s corner. Blood gushed all over my Mom’s white shirt as she picked me up, and I got several stitches in my head. No more monkeys jumping on the bed!

8.  I took a year of Italian in college, and the best thing about it is that I can pronounce everything on the Olive Garden menu with no problem. Ciao!

9.  I love roller coasters. My heart broke when Astroworld in Houston closed. Still, I haven’t ridden the Boardwalk Bullet – which is only 30 minutes away. It’s on my list.

Boardwalk Bullet, Kemah, Texas

10.  I live in Ron Paul’s congressional district. Make of that what you will.


It’s my turn to slap tap 4 blogger friends in this Writer’s Campaign game of tag and to deliver 7 bloggers the Kreativ Blogger Award.

Double Whammy Winners – Tagged for Writer’s Platform Building Campaign AND Kreativ Blogger Award:

Erin Brambilla – I adore reading Erin’s blog and seeing the way she expertly juggles mommyhood and authorship. She’s terrific at both!

Jolyse Barnett – Jolyse’s posts make me appreciate the beauty and joys of life. I can imagine Jimmy Buffet songs playing in the background. After all, it’s entitled Margarita Moments & Other Escapes.

Catie Rhodes – Another favorite blogger who tells true crime and paranomal like no other! Catie also throws in fun posts about movies and more. Check out her Full-Tilt Backwoods Boogie blog.

Julia King – Her Writing Jewels blog has a perfect balance of writing, reading, and Julia herself. Check out this young adult author.

Kreativ Blogger Winners – Tagged for a Kreativ Blogger Award:

Jennifer McCoy – Young adult author and fabulously stylish attendee at the #TambernyParty. Check out her blog with a book of the month and a movie of the week.

Amanda Bozeman – Romantic suspense author who writes about this and that on her Danger and Dancing blog.

Anne-Mhairi Simpson – Young adult fantasy author who blogs about health, books, and interviews.

Tamberny Awards Virtual After Party

Amber & Tiffany

In case you missed it, you haven’t really missed it! Amber West and Tiffany A. White hosted a Tamberny Awards show with their picks for the Emmys. I am hosting the Virtual After Party for this event. See more details at my post: I’m Throwing an After Party! You’re welcome to continue posting anything Emmy or Tamberny related on Twitter with the hashtag #Tambernyparty.

By the way, I had not seen most of the televisions shows nominated for Emmys. However, I was doing a happy dance when Downton Abbey received awards because that show was wonderful! You can watch season one on Netflix.

What did you enjoy most about the Emmys?

A (Mostly) Pantser Tries Plotting

Sometimes, it feels like a scene from West Side Story where two rival gangs meet in the dark alley and – after dancing around for a little while – square off for the fight. Who is the better gang? The bigger gang? The victorious gang?

Jets vs. Sharks, West Side Story

Instead of Sharks vs. Jets, however, I’m talking Plotters vs. Pantsers. Plotters consider themselves superior with their colored post-it notes on the wall or their beat sheets filled out to perfection before a word of the novel reaches the page. Whereas Pantsers believe themselves to be better because they follow their muse wherever it guides as words glide freely across the page.

Which gang do I belong to?

Well, once I learned these terms, I decided I was more of a pantser (writing by the seat-of-my-pants) than a plotter. Something like this:

Plotter <——————————————-X———> Pantser

I definitely had an overview of my mystery novel and a basic plot, but it was maybe a page long. Moreover, as I wrote, plans changed. The whodunnit had no longer done it, and the main protagonist had a different romantic ending than originally intended. Then I wrote a second manuscript (a middle grade novel) and pantsed my way through that one with a general theme and plot in my head.

After my total pantsing experience made me want to slam my head repeatedly against the tile floor, I decided I’d better learn more about this elusive concept of plotting. I read Save the Cat by Blake Snyder and Story Engineering by Larry Brooks. These authors outlined logline, category, characterization, beat sheet, and much more. Now I had a better sense of the underlying structure of a storyline.

Yet I was having a hard time translating Brooks’s story structure to my novel, so I put together a flow chart for myself. In case it helps anyone else, here’s what I drafted:

Of course, this doesn’t make sense unless you read the book! You can also find more information from these writing gurus at their blogs: Blake Snyder and Larry Brooks.

Getting closer now . . . but I didn’t have tools to apply what I had learned and found my word processing software lacking and the idea of writing stuff down on note cards brain-numbing. Then I downloaded Scrivener for Windows. I started plugging my middle grade manuscript into the software, scene by scene. I wrote synopses for those scenes. A virtual cork board helped me to see how I had laid everything out and where plot gaps occur.

Tony & Maria

With my new found perspective and better tools at hand, I am shifting on that Plotter vs. Pantser continuum. I likely won’t end up on the extreme side of plotting, but I might be in the middle somewhere. In fact, I feel an affinity for both gangs – pantsers and plotters. Why not? If Maria and Tony can find love, why can’t the disparate sides of our own writing selves get along?

Not a happy ending for West Side Story, but a happy ending for this writer!

Writers: Where are you on the plotting/pantsing continuum? Have you shifted? Which tool has been the most helpful to your writing?

All: Are you a planner or an ad-libber? Do you like the Jets or the Sharks? What’s your favorite West Side Story song?

I Want It for Free!

I was recently ranting to my husband about how frustrating it is to know so many people with ebook readers wanting to download free books! Having written a couple of manuscripts, I now recognize that a book involves hours and hours of brow-furrowing concentration; back-wrenching butt-in-chair typing; and writes, rewrites, edits, proofs, critiques, and much more! It’s appalling to me that people are only willing to spend 99 cents or zero money on something that took an author perhaps a year to craft.

A few days later, I was skimming for recommendations on video capture software. I was getting ready to type in the search box “free video capture software.” I glanced over at my desk which held a Starbucks “Pick of the Week” free download from iTunes. I reviewed my to-do list for the day which included a trip to the library to pick up free books for my kids to read.


We’re suckers for things that are free, and when something out there is free, we wonder why other people are charging! Truly, I do not subscribe to a newspaper or news magazine because I can get the headlines online for free. What additional benefit might I receive if I pay $39.95 per year for the news printed on paper and delivered to my house? Is  it worth it?

First-time museum visitors are also more likely to visit on free admission days (from American Association of Museums). However, the median cost to the museum for each visitor is about $36. I definitely availed myself of that opportunity by taking my kids to Children’s Museum of Houston on a free admission evening when they were young.

I downloaded the free beta version of Scrivener for Windows this week – which I am thoroughly enjoying – and wondered how much I’d be willing to pay for it. I sure would hate to have to pay for something I had been getting for free, but it took some effort to develop this software and I need to be willing to pay for it when the full version is released. (I sincerely hope that the price isn’t too high, though!)

What do we spend money for these days? Where are we willing to put our dollars down and pay the person whose labor provides us a product? What great things have you gotten for free?

A Peek into the World of Introversion

I’m a teenager sitting on my bed staring into space and contemplating life, the universe, and everything (by the way, the answer is 42).  My sister barges in; looks at me, then around the room, then back at me; crosses her arms; and slowly asks, “What. Are. You. Doing?”  To which I reply, “Just thinking.”  A contorted grimace appears on her beautiful face and she walks off declaring, “You are so weird!” 

“I am NOT weird!” I want to say.  “I’m . . . .” 

But I didn’t know what to say back then.  Now, I know.  I’m an INTROVERT. 

As the Encyclopaedia Britannica explains, introvert and extravert are basic personality types theorized by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung.  “An introvert is a person whose interest is generally directed inward toward his own feelings and thoughts, in contrast to an extravert, whose attention is directed toward other people and the outside world.” 

Some people think of introverts as simply shy persons, while extraverts must be people persons.  Others think introverts are quiet, and extraverts are talkative.  Some believe introverts are anti-social, and extraverts are party people.  All of these don’t really hit on the crux of introversion. 

I am not shy.  I am talkative (just ask my non-talkative husband!).  I like people.  But I am definitely an introvert. 

Katherine Myers and Isabelle Briggs, authors of the Myers-Brigg Type Indicator personality test, explain that introversion and extraversion refer to how a person gets his or her energy.  Do you feel energized or drained after spending time with a lot of people?  Do you recharge by having long stretches of alone time or by hanging out with others?  Do you like having a long list of pals and contacts or do you prefer a close circle of friends? 

It is estimated that 75% of the world’s population are extraverts, and only 25% are introverts.  (CORRECTION: 75/25 were the percentages being taught when I was getting a master’s degree in counseling; however, recent sources have found that introverts comprise 50.8% of the population; see MBTI.)  So there is a LOT of pressure placed on introverts to come out of their shell, stop being shy, and mingle at the party!  Some of that pressure is positive since a few introverts might be content to huddle in their basement with a book and a mini-fridge and emerge every two weeks to hit the grocery store or Laundromat. 

But what is hard for extraverts to understand is that while introverts enjoy a good party and like being around people, we’re exhausted at the end of it!  We need to go home, crawl under the bed, curl up like a fetus, and recharge in the quiet recesses of our minds.  Okay, it’s not that bad.  But that precious alone time helps us gear up for our people times! 

I am thrilled to have extravert friends, and at times I envy them.  They seem to keep going and going and have oodles and oodles of friends.  But I simply am not built that way.  Maybe that’s a good thing as a writer, since I don’t easily tire of being with merely myself and my words.  Then again, I genuinely enjoy people, so I make every effort to engage with others. 

In fact, it has become a huge goal of mine in the last several years to overcome my natural reservations around people, reach out, and engage in more relationships.  I feel complimented when people think I’m not an introvert because my stomach truly is churning the first time I meet someone; not out of fear, but new territory discomfort.  I love that I can speak publicly now without problems, even though it gave me nausea for the first couple of years that I did it.  

By the way, I live with family of four, and every last one of us is an introvert.  At times, we are all spread throughout the house, doing our own thing and recharging.  It’s oddly quiet then.  But I know plenty of people who married the opposite type, and it can be interesting to negotiate your different styles. 

Are you an extravert or an introvert?  How do you know?  Do you have close family or friends who are the opposite?   How do you handle your need to either be around people (extraversion) or get time alone (introversion) to recharge your battery?

Yep, I’m a Fanilow

The first album I recall owning was Donny Osmond:  Portrait of Donny.  As a young girl, I was wowed by Donny’s looks and voice.   But this post is not about him.  (Sorry, Donny.)  



You see, as I matured, I discovered a man who not only sang beautiful songs but wrote them!  And that brilliant composer was a Jewish guy with a large nose and a large piano named Barry Manilow.  At the time that I started listening to Barry, he wasn’t that popular yet.  But I purchased the Barry Manilow Live two-album set and listened over and over.  One of my favorites on the album was a medley of jingles:

This was the guy who co-wrote and sang the Bandstand Boogie for American Bandstand which we watched and danced with in our living rooms every Saturday morning!  From Could It Be Magic to Looks Like We Made It to Copa Cabana, his tunes were catchy and his lyrics were engaging.  He kept releasing albums, and I kept buying.  Even after I discovered disco, then rock, and even heavy metal, I still loved Barry Manilow.  I owned more records of his than of anyone else.

My album collection + Ultimate Manilow CD

When I was a teenager, I attended a concert with Barry Manilow at the Summit in Houston, where I sat in the nosebleed section but my attention was rapt the whole time.  I remember thinking how cool it would be to write songs or to be up on stage singing with Barry.  Mind you, I never thought Barry Manilow was particularly cool, but his music was.

Fast forward to me all grown up and living in the Houston area with my family.  It’s been many years since I bought a Barry album or even attended many concerts of anyone.  Yet, my friend Paula tells me that Barry Manilow is coming to the Toyota Center in Houston and she’s getting a group together to go see him.  Well, hello!  I’m there!  And interestingly enough, we two aren’t the only ones.  Ah, we closet Fanilows.

It was GREAT!  Even after all those years, Manilow entertained wonderfully with amazing energy and fun.  There were women in boas everywhere, and we all knew the lyrics to Copa Cabana and were dang proud of it!

Here we are (I'm second to last on right)
And here HE is!

So why on earth am I confessing that I’m a Fanilow now?  Well, in my quest now to be a writer, I realize that it may have started with the likes of Barry Manilow.  Here are a few tips I learned from this songwriter:

Start Somewhere.  Barry Manilow started as a composer and singer in the jingle business, as an arranger for other talents, and as a piano player in gay bathhouses for Bette Midler’s wild show.  Sometimes, we want our debut on the writing scene to be earth-shattering, but before we get too caught up in our presumed brilliance, we should remember that most successful people start small and work their way up to the string of best-sellers.

Give It Your All.  If you watched that VSM (Very Strange Medley) video, you can see that Manilow is singing his heart out on those jingles.  Many of his songs build up to a big finish, in which he gives it everything he has to get his point across.  I still like that.  Whether you are writing a fiction trilogy or your next blog post, you should give it your all in that moment.

Remember Who You Are.  Throughout his career, Barry Manilow has remembered who he is, what he uniquely qualified to offer.  There is a Manilow signature sound, and that’s a good thing.  He doesn’t try to be something he isn’t.  I hope I do the same in my writing.  Authenticity is an important trait for authors to have.

Have Fun.  If you aren’t having fun at this, maybe you should do something else.  I love watching music artists who revel in what they do.  Some of my favorite concerts include Manhattan Transfer, Yes (reunion tour), and Huey Lewis and the News.  They all seemed to love being on stage and performing music.  That energy was contagious.  I am absolutely blessed to be able to stay home and write, write, write!  And while it is hard work, it’s also a blast!  In fact, at this point, maybe I’d rather be writing than singing on stage with Barry.

In case you think we Fanilows are just “uncool,” I submit the awesome episode from Will & Grace appropriate entitled “Fanilow.”  Here’s a short clip:

And by the way, Barry Manilow’s autobiography, The Sweet Life, is a great read.

Who did you grow up listening to?  Are you a closet fan of someone?  What is your favorite Barry Manilow song?  What have you learned from your childhood favorites?

25 Years and Still Looking Good!

After the post in anticipation of my 25th year high school reunionI figured I should post an update on how it went!  Did I wow them all with my brilliant success and gorgeous looks?

Well, no.

In spite of thinking ahead of time what kind of impression I would make, those thoughts and concerns fell completely by the wayside once I saw my old pals.  I had a great time catching up with people and seeing where life has led them.  There were plenty of friends who didn’t make it to the reunion whom I would love to see, and friends who have since passed that I hope to see one day as well. 

A few personal lessons stand out to me from the weekend: 

Your same-aged peers are the best people to ask how you look.  And may I say, we look GREAT!  Haven’t changed a bit!  Perhaps we are sporting a few more pounds, struggling with hair loss (sorry, guys), wearing corrective lenses, counting varicose veins on our legs, or facing down crow’s feet in the mirror, but we feel young.  And I heard plenty of comments that we still look good.  Maybe we’re lying to ourselves and each other, but I think the Class of 1986 has aged beautifully.  Maybe in 25 more years, we’ll finally look the 43 years we actually are.  

The Breakfast Club

Cliques don’t matter in the long run.  Yes, some of us were smarty pants geeks, some of us were popular jocks, some were slackers, some go-getters, and so and so on.  None of that matters 25 years later.  We were like one big happy family, and everyone was excited to see everyone else.  Some people definitely had more memories to share with each other, but I think everyone felt included as long as they mingled.  All of those divisions seemed so important in junior high and high school, but the reality is that we were just trying to make it through back then.  Perhaps we are older and wiser now. 

Some things change, some don’t.  If you head to your hometown, drive around and think about how things used to be.  For instance, there are still Wienerschnitzels in Corpus Christi, but no Hershey Hotel.  The mall is where it used to be, but it’s been renamed from Padre Staples to La Palmera and looks really different.  My old house looks mostly the same (from the outside), but there is a different fence around it and the landscaping has grown up.  People are the same way, too.  Some things about us stay the same, and some things change. 

Life is full of surprises – some good, some not.  Some slackers straightened up and become family men and devoted moms.  Some high-achieving students didn’t fare as well in college and the real world (heard about them rather than saw).  Some people became successful teachers, doctors, or businesspeople. Some people fell in love with high hopes but ended up experiencing the pain of divorce.  Some people who never had a great relationship in high school have been married for umpteen years (like me).  And one fellow student lost his beloved wife to cancer when their child was quite young.  When you are 18 years old, you look out at your life ahead of you and think how great it can be!  But life isn’t likely to unfold exactly as you imagine.  You must learn to delight in life’s serendipitous moments and weather its storms.  Overall, however, life is a blessing.

Aren't they cute?

I dance better now than I used to.  This is hardly some big life lesson, but I got taken out on the dance floor by a guy who could clearly cuts a rug better than I.  And I didn’t fall down – even though I was wearing my animal-print wedge flip-flops.  I still would like those ballroom dancing classes (hint, hint, hubby!), but I fared okay.  I did not embarrass myself or my partner by stumbling or doing an Elaine dance.

Thanks to the reunion organizers for a fabulous weekend, amazing barbeque (Howard’s Farmhouse BBQ & Catering), and a new set of memories with my high school pals.  I would recommend to anyone to return for a high school reunion at least once.  You might be surprisingly glad you did! 

Have you attended a high school reunion?  Have you kept in touch with your high school friends?  Have you returned to your hometown after many years away?  What have you learned with any of these experiences?

Are You a Child of the 80’s?

I love watching That 70’s Show.  I knew those people, although they were a few years ahead of me.  Because I was a child in the 70’s, but a teenager in the 80’s.  I consider myself better versed in culture with the 1980’s. 

Perhaps since I attended my 25th high school reunion lately (about which I’ll post an update next week), I’ve been thinking about stuff that defined my generation.  Take the following quiz to see if you might qualify as a child of the 80’s or be named an honorary member! 

1.  Who is this?  And who was his nemesis?

2.  What is a Flux Capacitor and what does it do?  Bonus points if you know who invented it!

3.  What is a Gremlin and what are the three rules for keeping one as a pet?

4.  Name at least three members of the Brat Pack.

5.  Complete the following song lyric:  “Won’t you take me to                                                     ?”

6.  Why was Christa McAuliffe famous and what happened to her?

7.  Did you watch USA’s Night Flight?  Can you name any movies you saw on that show?

8.  What was the first video you watched on MTV?

9.  How many times did you watch the shooting of Ronald Reagan replayed before you finally decided you’d seen enough?  (Maybe that’s when someone invented cable, so we would have more options!)

10.  Frogger, Pacman, Galaga, Asteroids, or Centipede?

11.  Where were you when you found out the Berlin Wall had fallen?

12.  Did you ever try New Coke? (Thank heaven that failed.)

13.  Did you pump regular gas into your vehicle?  Or has it always been unleaded?

14.  Which wedding did you watch with baited breath?  Charles and Princess Diana?  Or Luke and Laura?

15. Complete the following ad:  Two all beef patties, special                        , lettuce,                              , pickles,                                               , on a                                                                      bun.  (While you’re at it, you deserve                                                                                                    .)

So how did you do?  Give yourself partial credit if you wish.  For instance, I could recall only two of the three Gremlin rules on my own!  Here are some answers:

1.  This is Mr. Bill who featured in clay animation shorts on Saturday Night Live from 1976 through 1980.  His nemesis was Sluggo.

2.  The Flux Capacitor uses 1.21 gigawatts of power to fuel the time machine DeLorean in Back to the Future.  It was invented by Doc Brown.

3.  A Gremlin is a cute furry pet that you must (1) never get wet; (2) never expose to the sunlight; and (3) never feed after midnight.  If you do, it becomes a horrendous creature that will make you wish you had listened to the pet store owner.

4.  The “Brat Pack” were teenage actors in the 1980’s with core members Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, and Ally Sheedy.

5.  “Won’t you take me to Funkytown?” was a song from 1980 by Lipps Inc.

6.  Christa McAuliffe was the teacher chosen to be an astronaut on the 1986 NASA Space Shuttle Challenger flight. Unfortunately, it broke apart 73 seconds after its launch, killing all seven crew members.

7.  You’ll have to look up movies shown on USA’s Night Flight, but it was a Friday and Saturday night show that featured rock interviews, videos, cult movies, and more.  It ran from 1981 to 1988.

8.  The first video I watched on MTV was at my friend Tami’s house and it was Night Ranger singing D0n’t Tell Me You Love Me.

9.  There were so many replays of the Reagan shooting that SNL did a skit about the constant barrage of images.

10.  My best score was on Centipede, which I played at the bowling alley arcade.

11.  I was at college in 1989 and found out about the Berlin Wall’s Fall from fellow classmates.  Then we watched the news reports and celebrated with the freed people of Germany.

No, it didn't.

12.  New Coke was awful.  Classic Coke is the best!

13.  I pumped regular gas into my parents’ cars, but unleaded took over the market through the 1980’s.  By the time I got a car, the gasoline was unleaded.

14.  I watched the coverage of Princess Diana and Charles marrying (1981), but Luke and Laura’s wedding on General Hospital (also 1981) was “attended” by many viewers who dressed up for the event and held receptions.  The royal couple attracted 750 million viewers, but the fictional couple got 30 million viewers.

15.  Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun.  (While you’re at it, you deserve a break today.)  Thanks, McDonald’s for the Big Mac and the break today campaign!

So are you a child of the 80’s?  What decade do you relate to?  What quiz questions might you come up with for your generation?

Reunited, and It Feels So Good

This coming weekend, I am attending my high school reunion.  Want to guess which year I graduated? 

a.            1982
b.            1986
c.             1991
d.            1993 

Thank you for all picking D, as I’m sure you did!  However, B is the correct answer.  Yep, it’s been 25 years since I donned a scratchy graduation gown and a cardboard cap and flung tassels from one side to the other. 

There were 213 students in my graduating class at Calallen High School in Corpus Christi, Texas.  What do I remember about high school?   I participated in choir and was named Best Female Singer at my senior prom.  (Any rock group need a lead?)  I was drum major of our marching band, which went to state competition three of my four high school years.  I didn’t date a whole lot.  I wasn’t in the popular crowd.  I was into English and history even back then.  And our high school got out for three full days during the Nueces County Livestock Show because too many students were involved to hold classes; plus many of us went to the livestock show, even if we hadn’t raised a pig or a sheep, baked an apple pie, painted a picture, crocheted something, or roped calves. 

But enough about my past, here is what I wonder now:  What do people hope to convey about themselves when attending a high school reunion?  Of course, you assume that others want to know what you managed to do in those years since you swore you’d be BFFs 4-ever and everyone was 2 Nice 2 B 4-gotten!  But what else do we think about?

I theorize that most people headed to a high school reunion want to convey one or more of the following messages: 

I’ve done something worthwhile since graduation.  Whether it’s the five children you spawned, the company you started, fabulous vacations you’ve taken, or volunteer work that contributes to the good of humanity, you want to say that you accomplished something.  If you were voted Most Likely to Succeed, the pressure might be high to deliver on achievements.  But even the stoner who barely eked out a diploma with more knowledge of Nirvana lyrics than the American Revolution may want others to know he straightened out and did something useful with his life. 

I’m older and wiser.  Young and stupid – it’s almost redundant.  Every youth does something unbelievably foolish that you would never do again or, God forbid, let your children do.  And your high school friends were eyewitnesses!  They can testify to your idiocy.  Hopefully, we don’t freeze each other in time and expect that we are as stupid today as we were then.  We want to come across as having learned a few things in life and being at least a smidgeon smarter than we were when we called that guy twenty-five times one night to breathe heavily into the phone or mooned a car of middle-aged businessmen from the band bus. 

I’m sorry.  You hurt somebody’s feelings in high school.  Intentionally or accidentally, you did it.  Looking back, you may be embarrassed at the ugly names you called someone, the way you excluded a person from your clique, or the theft of someone else’s boyfriend (even if he was incredibly hot!).  Now that the years have passed and you are wiser, it would be nice to issue a blanket apology:  “To anyone I injured emotionally, I am sorry that I was selfish and made you cry every night; plot revenge against the world; or become a writer to work through your feelings in a socially acceptable way.”  

You should have asked me out when you had the chance.  Whatever your appeal is today – looks, money, fame, charm, whatever – you hope that one of those people who rebuffed you in high school is thinking, “I should have asked him/her out!”  Yep, you should have!  Even if you are happily married to the love of your life, there is likely someone from high school that you had a crush on who didn’t give you the time of day or fed you the “I think of you as a friend” line.  And you want that person to wish they had it to do over again, so they could grovel at your feet and declare you to be the god/goddess they had been looking for – at which point, you would smirk and say, “No, thanks.”  Okay, we aren’t that cruel, but we might want that guy or gal to notice us and at least think, Hmmm. 

I liked you back then.  Just as common as the crush and rebuff scenario is the I-never-told-you-how-I-felt situation.  In fact, I know a couple of friends who got in touch with old high school chums on Facebook and eventually one said, “I had a crush on you,” to which the other said, “Why didn’t you tell me?  I totally would have gone out with you!”  Maybe there is some of that at high school reunions too – a realization that if we’d had more gumption back then, we might have dated someone that we never knew liked us. 

I’m still fun.  Ultimately, you go to a high school reunion to have fun once again with people you enjoyed before.  Even with a serious job, home ownership, and knee-biters getting in the way of your current social life, and the fact that you no longer “cruise the main drag” looking for a good time (at least I hope you don’t), you are forever that fun guy/ girl who  did crazy things, made others laugh, and danced the night away.  You know have to have a good time!  Whatever your brand of “good time” (drinks and karaoke, bustin’ moves on the dance floor, telling jokes, etc.), let loose again!  Create some new memories! 

Romy & Michelle - Never saw it; heard it was funny!

I do not plead guilty to all of the above, only some.  And I SWEAR I have never mooned anyone; if you had known me in high school, you would know how completely incapable of that I am!  But I am definitely looking forward to seeing familiar faces, even if our faces all hold a few more wrinkles and more tales to tell. 

Have you attended a high school reunion?  What was it like?  What impression did you hope to make?  What impression did you make?  Did you learn anything interesting?  And what should I wear to my reunion?

Monday Musings: Generation TV

I was recently reading comments on an author’s blog (probably Tiffany A. White, but I can’t find the post) and noticed that several people were talking about Saved by the Bell – which I don’t think I’ve ever seen!  That show debuted after my school years.  In fact, I spent a lot of my time when that show was airing watching CNN’s coverage of the Gulf War, not finding out who Screech was. 

Saved by the Bell cast

Besides reminding me that I’m getting older by the nanosecond, the conversation made me think about how TV shows characterize generations.  Growing up in the 70’s, I have never met anyone my age who hasn’t watched The Brady Bunch (1969-1974).  That was THE family sitcom for our time.  My sister was so well-versed on the Bradys that she could usually predict the plot line based on the opening scene.  (“Jan is wearing her yellow dress and coming down the stairs, so this is the one where she fakes a boyfriend named George Glass and rubs lemon on her freckles.”  That kind of thing.)  The show was such a part of our childhoods that I wonder how many of my generation have secretly downloaded It’s a Sunshine Day onto their MP3 players. 


Then, there was Happy Days (1974-1984).  Cool was defined by the leather-clad Arthur Fonzarelli; 1950’s style and music made a comeback; and my friends all thought Joanie and Chachi were the perfect couple.  Of course, Ron Howard was the crux of the show as the naïve but maturing Richie Cunningham.  In addition to its success, this show spawned Laverne & Shirley, Mork & Mindy, and Joanie Loves Chachi.  Happy Days was THE show to watch.  (Well, until Fonzie jumped the shark.) 

Welcome Back, Kotter (1975-1979) was perhaps my generation’s Saved by the Bell.  If not for Kotter, I’m pretty sure John Travolta would not have played Danny Zucko a few years later in Grease.  Looking back, the funny thing is how few women were in the show.  Other than Mr. Kotter’s wife and a few supporting actresses who interacted with the main characters, it was a male-focused show.  But Juan Epstein’s mother’s notes were always entertaining, Vinnie Barbarino was nice eye candy even if he was intellectually-challenged, Arnold Horshack was probably our version of Screech – a little nerdy, and Freddie Washington was the really cool one at the end of the day.  And the show made us appreciate that some teachers care about their students quite a lot. 

The last popular sitcom I can recall being a big deal when I was growing up was One Day at a Time (1975-1984), which traces the family of a divorced mother and her teenage daughters – played by Mackenzie Phillips (daughter of Mamas and Papas’ John and Michelle) and Valerie Bertinelli (before Eddie Van Halen and Jenny Craig).  This show dealt with more serious issues – like family break-up, drugs, teenage sexuality – but interjected humor as well.  I think I have at one time or another seen all of the episodes for this show. 

Maybe these shows do characterize my generation well.  It was post-1960’s, but tough subjects were still not talked about a lot on the TV screen.  Slowly, however, shows debuted that dealt with both humorous plots and tough family challenges.  

So what sitcoms define your youth?  What do you recall about them?  Do you think they represent your generation well?  What family sitcoms appeal to you today?