Tag Archives: nostalgia

Heavy D — A Part of My High School Years Has Died

Man, word is hitting all over the place that old school rapper, Heavy D, has passed away at the age of 44.  I guess we’ll get a word on the cause of death later.

I was introduced to Heavy D in my later teen years with his song, “Mr. Big Stuff,” which he made in 1986.  Here’s the official video for said song (there may be a commercial at the front since it is an officially uploaded video).

Back then, I found that my musical tastes were toward this “fad” called “rap” and so when an electro-funk/rap station came on air, I recorded as much as I could from the radio (depending on the weather since I lived just on the edge of the radio station’s transmission range at the time).  “Mr. Big Stuff” was one of the early rap songs that I recorded, and it also introduced me to the concept of “sampling” since Heavy D & the Boys used Jean Knight’s song title and music from the early 1970’s for their rap version.

For most folks though, Heavy D was seen as more of a 1990’s element since he had several hit tunes that came out in the early 90’s. For me, he will be a part of my high school years and a reminder of things like Max Headroom, Ronald Reagan, Coca-cola clothing, and other things that were great about the 80’s.  So, I’ll close with another of Heavy D’s 80’s tunes.

My thoughts and prayers go to Heavy D’s family and friends at this time of loss.

Yellow Submarine

Back when I was a kid, any cartoon was a good thing so when a cartoon featuring Beatles’ songs was scheduled to be on prime time in the mid-70’s, there was a good chance I’d get to watch it since my parents liked Beatles music. I remember only a few of things from the time I watched it in the 70’s. The first is that the art was weird and there were troops who dropped big green apples on folks. The second was the song, “Yellow Submarine.” The third was a scene under the sea where some boxing fish is smoking a cigar, it explodes, and the boxing bag laughs at the fish, causing the fish to beat the crap out of the boxing bag. I laughed so hard as a kid, I literally fell out of my little rocker and I couldn’t stop laughing during the commercial break. My parents were amused that I had found this so funny.

Fast forward to the present day. Savage Piper, for whatever whack-job reason, sent me a link to the Yellow Submarine movie. I immediately recalled the punching bag scene and that’s all I was interested in seeing. Fortunately, I did find said scene on YouTube where I discovered it wasn’t a boxing fish, but some sort of underwater monster that was boxing. Well, the years will do that to one’s memory. ^_^;

Thanks to gainsbourg66 for posting said clip. ^_^

So Today I’m 37…

Recently, I received a letter from a girl from my old, small home town. She was one of three in charge of the 1987 class reunion and so it had the normal, “Will you attend?” and stuff. I learned that apparently three of my classmates have now passed on (reasons still unknown to me), but otherwise the letter didn’t have any real information…not that it should mind you.

ANYWAY, I got to thinking about this. I remember back in 1987 how our class sorta came together. We had less than 100 members (I lived in a small town, remember) and prior to 1987, folks did their own thing. The popular clique had split into two camps at some point in the past (I was never sure what caused that) and of course the non-popular, “never will amount to much” folks had their groups. Me, I never really belonged to any camp. I was in the same classes with the popular folks because most of them were cheerleaders, jocks, or in the band, of which I was also a member. That meant that we all needed 6th period free for practice.

So I’m in the group with the popular people but not one of them. And so I had from 8th grade to 12th grade to observe both them. As I said, there were roughly three main camps in our graduating class until 1987 hit. Then it was the weirdest thing. Suddenly the two popular cliques started mingling a bit more. But most surprising was how the non-popular folks were now no longer looked down upon (or at least, less looked down on). I suppose it was because with the arrival of 1987, we could now see the light at the end of the tunnel of our high school life. The moment we’d dreamed of for so long was just about here! Of all my high school years, I have to say that this was the highlight.

Graduation came and of course people began going their separate ways. Some, like me, went to a nearby junior college. Others went to a regular university. Still others did…well whatever it was they did. As we went our separate ways, I remember thinking of what things might be like at my 10-year reunion or my 20-year reunion. I was pretty keen on returning in 10-years with some sort of huge success story to thumb my nose at everyone. Yeah, I’m a smeg head like that.

The first ten years passed with many things happening to me. I’d gone to school for a year, moved out of my parent’s house, fell on my face (figuratively), joined the Air Force, lived in Japan for a couple of years, left the Air Force, moved to Colorado, and slowly worked my way up the income ladder. No complaints but no wife, kids, and certainly no huge success story.

So prior to by 27th birthday, I got the notice for the 10-year reunion. It was hard for me to believe that 10-years had gone by, but then looking back, I could believe it based on my life to that point. It had felt like 10-years is my point. I couldn’t attend the reunion, but strangely enough, I didn’t care (no
No offence to any of my classmates who might be reading this). Oh there were a few people I was interested in seeing and finding out how they were doing, but otherwise, I didn’t regret not going.

Now, ten more years have passed and I’m now 37. The last ten years have seemingly passed much more quickly than the previous ten years. I’ve moved up the income chart, the weight chart, and the knowledge chart, but otherwise it has been mostly uneventful. OK, so there was the bloody nose and the surgery a year later. Yeah, I got caught up in the WorldCom collapse and found myself unemployed for six-months. I lost my best opportunity to buy a house. Otherwise, it was an uneventful decade.

I look back at the letter I received about my 20-year reunion. Like last time, I am unable to attend and much like last time, I don’t much care. It would be neat to see how folks have grown older. It would be really neat to see how folks from the different cliques came out in life. It would be interesting to see how everyone interacted. But when the reunion date comes and goes, I doubt I even think about it (again, no offence to my old classmates).

So today I’m 37. There are things I haven’t done yet. There’s still no Mrs. AstroNerdBoy and I doubt there will be at this point. (If you are reading this Mom, I know, I know! Inside joke.) I still don’t own my own place, but maybe I will sometime. I still haven’t taken that European vacation. I still haven’t returned to Japan. I still haven’t learned Japanese. I still haven’t lost weight. I still haven’t written those great novels in my head. I still procrastinate. Heck, there’s a whole lot of stuff I could add, but you get the point.

The next decade will be an interesting one, assuming God has it that I live that long (hey, you never know when your time is up). Can I improve? Can I land Mrs. AstroNerdBoy? Only time will tell. In the meantime, happy birthday AstroNerdBoy!

A Look at 2005

Everyone always takes a look back at the previous year when the new year is about to start. So I figured I’d do the same because I can.

January of 2005 saw me move to a new department within the company I was contracted to. That meant more pay, challenging work, and a boss from smeg! ^_^;;; Still, the pay was nice and the work was what I wanted, so I tolerated the boss, who to be fair, is the most intelligent people I’ve ever worked for. He knows the inner workings and infrastructure as if he built them. Because he has this gift, it is extremely difficult for him to deal with the fact that no one else will know it as he does and that no one will learn it to that degree because knowing it doesn’t really help us with our jobs (even though he can make a good-sounding case that knowing it is key to our jobs). But at least I have a job!

The spring of 2005 saw me have a bloody nose event that lasted for well over 24-hours, sending me to the emergency room by ambulance from work the first time, then two more visits the next day from home. I learned what it was to pass out from loss of blood, what it was like to be fed by an intravenous tube, and how great it is to be able to drink something without mounds of packing in your nose. I also learned how terrible my insurance company was. To this day, I’m still fighting with them to try to get them to pay something. However, since I’m still responsible for the bills, the nearly $10,000 I owe, I have to pay. If the insurance company ever does decide to pay, I’ll get refunded.

Because of this, I decided to try my luck at selling things on eBay. I’d sold a few things before, and in addition to selling DVD’s and stuff that I had owned, I attempted to try my luck at selling new things. Since anime is a very popular item, I figured I’d sell anime DVD’s. I scored several titles I knew were very popular and a few test titles, all which I paid 40% or less of retail. I figured that if I sold them for half the retail price, I’d be making a good profit. So, even though I had nearly $10,000 in medical bills, not counting my car and one other bill, I spent $1000 and bought some anime.

At first, it was a success with my first sales mostly doing well, some well enough more than cover those few titles that didn’t sell as well. However, as time went on, titles that were selling well started selling for less and less with each auction. Other test titles were selling, but for only a few dollars. By the time all was said and done, I broke even. Actually, since I never counted my gas expenditures (since when I went to the post office, I took care of other business), the cost of labels (since I also use them for personal things), ink, and my time, I lost money on the venture. I don’t know how folks make money on eBay, but I can tell you that it isn’t easy, no matter what the scammers tell you.

By August of 2005, my unreasonable, irrational, impatient, berate and belittle you in front of the whole command center, etc. boss converted me from contractor to “long term supplemental” at the company. That meant more money, great insurance, and a chance to be a full-time employee down the road. While it wasn’t a total surprise since he had stated that he wanted to do that, to that point, I really wasn’t sure where I stood or if I’d even have a job after six months. So I do appreciate him doing this for me and a few others, but that doesn’t change the fact that he needs some SERIOUS work on his management/people skills. ^_^;;;

Now that I was in the door of the company, I decided that I’d had enough of the 96-mile round-trip commute from my apartment to work. So I moved to a town near my company and to an apartment complex that takes about 6-minutes to get to work and 8 to get home (because of a couple of left turns). So while gas was up around the $3/gallon mark, I was VERY thankful to live so close to work. Of course moving was a complete and total nightmare. I had a bookshelf which I don’t think I’d looked at in 5-years (it was in an odd spot) and the dust was…well, there was a lot of it.

Also, I discovered that I had way more stuff than I had even imagined. As the boxes began to pile up in my living room, I began taking stuff to the Goodwill when I went to see my folks. And still the boxes rose and there was little sign to show for it in empty space. I even took an entire week off to finish packing. Good thing I did because frankly, I barely got done. I was so worn out by the experience that I just gave my deposit over to my old complex and asked for forgiveness.

Further adding to my stress that week was a call from my boss. He wanted to know if I were interested in a support job, which would mean more money and to work from home. I asked him for his opinion on the matter and he said he thought is was an excellent opportunity. I thought so too, not just because I would escape from him, so I told him to put my name in. The night before my move, I get a call telling me I need to have in my resume now (Thursday) but by no later than 4pm on Friday. That way my boss could get it to the other manager. Now the last thing on my mind was finding my resume. My computers were all packed up and I was desperately trying to get the last of my things packed for the movers to come in the next day. Because my boss can be very unreasonable, my team lead and I attempting to figure out some way to get a copy of my resume. Unpacking my computer was clearly not an option. Had I been thinking clearly, I would have remembered my resume on Monster.com and sent them there, but I wasn’t.

I called my boss and asked him if it would be OK to get it in Monday. After all, I was in the middle of a move and I wouldn’t get my computer unpacked until very late Friday night at my new place. Well, that wasn’t going to cut it. I asked if he could just explain to the other manager what was going on. Reasonable people would do that and assuming the manager at the other end was reasonable, waiting until Monday wouldn’t be a problem considering my situation. My bosses response? “Excuses are like horse shit.” Nice! That’s REAL helpful, boss!

In the end, he did accept my resume on Saturday and forwarded it on to the hiring manager. That being the case, why give me such a difficult time over it? No wonder turnover is so high in my department. Those people my manager doesn’t fire are deemed acceptable material, yet all of us want out badly! *sigh* At least I have a job, right?

Also during that week, Granddaddy died. He was my dad’s dad and was the man who taught me to fish, the joy of laughter and a good joke, and more. I did not get to attend the funeral and I had planned to write something about him here, and I will do so sometime, just not today. I had been blessed with both sets of grandparents and Granddaddy was the first to pass away. I know it won’t be that much longer before Grandmother departs, as well as Grandma and Grandpa.

Because work kept me busier than normal, I didn’t have as much time to study Japanese. Indeed, when I had free time, I ended up goofing off to blow off steam from work. That’s kind of sad because I’m sure I would have learned quite a few Kanji by this point and would have had a greater vocabulary. This year I’m going to have to force myself to carve out time for study!

By years end, work had become a nightmare of sorts. I didn’t get the support job, but several others in the department did and left. A few more found jobs in other departments and left. This left us very short handed, just in time for the month of December and all those Christmas vacations. To make it more interesting, my boss let two contractors go as “their services were no longer required” while bringing in a couple of others. So I ended up working nights a couple of times, working six 12-hour days in a row, and getting frantic phone calls on my day off about how they need someone to come in and help. But at least I have a job.

So while 2005 wasn’t a great year, I do thank the Lord for it, for my job, and even for my boss. Seriously! I may complain bitterly about him (helps me to release stress, you understand), but I’m sure it will be for my good!

I want to wish you all a Happy New Year! May 2006 be better for you all than 2005!

My Great Great Grandfather

Yesterday, I did my normal Sunday routine. I traveled from Denver CO down to Colorado Springs where I met my folks at church, then after church watched football with my dad. Since the Bronco’s aren’t playing, neither of us had a vested interest in the game other than wanting to see Payton Manning do well.

As such, my dad began sorting through the vast numbers of pictures and letters from my grandparents (my mom’s folks) for preservation. So in addition to watching the game, I got to see family history. One item my dad handed me was one of the most interesting thing I’ve ever read. It was a 19-page hand-written letter from my great, great grandfather to my grandma when she was a teenager. He wrote this for her birthday in the winter of 1940.

I don’t know very much about my great, great grandfather. At the time of this letter, he was retired from ranching (we believe he was a rancher) and as such had some time to reflect on the world. I can’t publish the letter because it isn’t in my possession, but I thought I would share my thoughts on the matter.

At the time of 1940, America was not yet at war. The attack at Pearl Harbor was still nearly two-years away. Yet Hitler was on the move and had recently conquered Poland. Yet the war wasn’t the only thing on folk’s mind. They carried on their lives as normal and did the things they had to do in order to carry one.

One thing that really grabbed me about my great, great grandfather was how educated this retired rancher was. Further, even though he was in the final years of his life, he still had a great thirst for knowledge. Often, he would attend lectures by judges, scientists, or other well-educated people. These people would often give lectures at churches, so my great, great grandfather would go to these various churches. He’d also attend their church services to see how the gospel was preached.

So, what interested my great, great grandfather? Many things.

For starters, he loved languages. He apparently could speak Spanish, Dutch, German, and appeared to know some Latin as well. He wrote a silly ditty in Dutch in the letter. He showed where the term “aster” was the same in several languages and what words are used from “aster”. I was amazed at his grasp of languages and wondered if my own fueled interest in learning Japanese somehow descended from him..

From there, I learned of his interest in astronomy and meteorology. I was stunned to read about the notion promoted by some scientist at the time of “global cooling”, namely a coming ice age. Apparently, this talk was fueled by the super-cold winter that year. It just goes to prove how science has to constantly change its beliefs because they actually don’t know what the smeg is going on, despite their claims to the contrary.

He went on to discuss various the coming spring and the robins and other birds that would soon come. He discussed other items in nature, continuing to show just how much he knew without being arrogant about it.

He then listed a series of questions to my grandma, stating the answers would be provided at the end of the letter in case she wasn’t interested in those topics.

My great great grandfather’s letter wasn’t just about education. He did talk about some personal things. He mentioned his long walks and that he now had to carry a cane. He mentioned writing poetry and even had a few of his own verses (along with quoted passages from other literary works in his discussion of poetry). He talked of a planned trip to his boyhood stomping grounds for a trip down memory lane.

So, why did my great, great grandfather write this letter to my grandma?

Simple, it was her birthday. Such a lengthy letter was something he did for his grandchildren on their birthdays since buying a gift would have been more than he and my great, great grandmother could afford. As he stated, he would only write such a letter on their birthdays and wouldn’t trouble them with such a long letter otherwise.

I am glad he did this. Because my great, great grandfather took several days to compose such a lengthy letter, I now have an insight into my own personal family history as well as a tiny window on the world of 1940 as seen through the eyes of an older man in Colorado at the time.

My dad says there may be more of such letters in the stacks of stuff, and if so, he will certainly set them aside for me to read. I sure hope there more because I would love to learn more, thus carrying on the legacy of my great, great grandfather.

"Star Wars"

You have to love the modern age and the Internet. Shortly after the new trailer for Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith was released, I was watching it and drooling like a fanboy. It looks like Lucas may end the saga with a big bang.

Star Wars was the first movie I remember seeing as a kid. My parents weren’t much into seeing a movie at the theater. Part of the reason was costs and the other part was just that going to the theater wasn’t something they enjoyed. So when the trailer played on TV in May of 1977 and I heard my dad say that he’d like to see this movie, I was stunned. I had to make sure I watched this commercial closer next time!

It didn’t take long for me to get to see the trailer again and really watch it. What did my dad find so interesting? Was it the hairy alien who roared like a bear? Was it the fighters in combat over the Death Star? Was it the fights with the Storm Troopers? Was it Darth Vader?

I didn’t know and to be honest, it never occurred to me to ask. Since all of things I mention were cool to me, they must be cool to my dad as well.

Of course it didn’t matter how cool the movie looked on TV. There was no way we were going to see the movie in the theater. In fact, unless the movie came on TV sometime in the very distant future (time goes slower as a kid, remember?), I would never see it. That didn’t prevent me from wanting to know more though.

When school started in the fall of 1977, my classmates and fellow elementary school attendees were all abuzz about Star Wars and it seemed everyone loved the disco version of the theme song that played on the radio. Recess was a time to play Star Wars. Yeah, the movie had been out all summer and I felt like the only one who had not seen the movie. All a boy had to do was shout, “I’m Luke Skywalker and I’ve got the plans” to initiate a huge chase around the playground.

Other times, boys would grab sticks and pretend to either be Storm Troopers or Rebel Troops. While I wanted to play, I had no clue and so was not allowed to play. Now I was even more eager to learn.

Later that fall, my wish to learn more was answered. The TV special The Making of Star Wars played on ABC. I watched and was amazed to see how Tie Fighters, Star Destroyers, and other ships were made to appear to fly. I saw C3PO and R2D2 in action, though I missed the part that showed there was a person inside R2D2 (which lead to a very heated argument at school). So while it wasn’t quite the same as seeing the movie, I got a taste and was able to bluff my way into recess play.

In the summer of 1978, ads appeared on TV announcing that it had been one year since Star Wars had been released. As a thank you, at least one theater was going to show the movie at a discount rate.

I didn’t think much of the ad except that the following Saturday, my parents were acting odd. Out of the blue, my mom was making us wear normal clothes and not our old clothes that we normally wore on Saturday. When my brother and I asked where we were going, all she said was, “We’re going for a drive.”

I hated going for a drive. It meant that my two younger brothers and I would be in the back of my parent’s Buick bored out of our skulls. What I couldn’t understand is why we would do it on a Saturday when normally this was done on a Sunday.

After we all got into the car, my Dad began driving, but he wasn’t taking the normal roads that lead out of town. I began to wonder what was going on. They were taking us someplace, but they didn’t want us to know where. Very suspicious.

We approached the shopping center where a theater’s sign showed that Star Wars was being played. As I looked out the window, I began to wish that somehow, someway, my dad would suddenly turn into the theater parking lot. There was no chance it would happen, but I dreamed it all the same.

Suddenly, my dad was in the right turn lane and we were turning into the theater’s parking lot.

WHOA!

My brothers and I looked at each other semi-excitedly. I couldn’t help but ask, “Are we going to see Star Wars?”

My mom answered that we were on a drive. Yeah, right mom.

When my dad parked and my parents told us to get out (we were sitting there dumbfounded), I could hardly believe it. With wobbly legs, I followed my parents to the theater where my dad purchased five tickets. I was afraid I’d wake up at any moment!

Fortunately, it was no dream. As we found some seats, I vividly recall the red seats, the red curtains that surrounded the walls of the theater, and the cold air from the air conditioner. When those curtains opened and the screen was revealed, I was so excited.

Watching Star Wars was the best thing to happen to me in my nearly nine years of life on the planet. I dreamed of Star Wars for weeks afterward. When school started in the fall of 1978, I could discuss it with my classmates, which happened a lot after the Star Wars Holiday Special came on TV that November.

Fast forward to November 2004 and the latest Star Wars movie is getting ready for a May 2005 launch. Watching the latest trailer, I find it funny that I still get excited like a little school boy at the thoughts of getting to see this movie in the theater. Here’s hoping Lucas makes the last movie a really good one.