Saturday, November 8, 2014


The favorite year.  Most people have one.  It usually occurs in one's late teens or early twenties, and involves some sort of coming-of-age event, like a first job, first love, first sexual encounter, first drug experimentation, first out-of-body experience, first murder, first space flight, first arrest and so on.  For some, it comes later, and centers around becoming a parent.  For a few, the favorite year comes late in life - retirement, grandchildren, enlightenment, transcendence.

I have a lot of favorite years, and I'd love to bore you with tales of 1978, 1988, 1996, and 2000 - but I won't.  Tonight, let's take a quick peek at 1983, because really, it was all downhill from there, in so many ways.

I was fifteen when the year began, and younger than my years, so my world was an amalgam of music, movies, video games, and a few TV shows... Oh, and my first job.

First, there was snow.  We don't get a lot of snow, in the DC area, but in February of '83, we got this:

Thirty Inches of White Sky-excrement
I know that by now, if you've read what I have to say about winter, you know that I am not a fan.  I hate snow - because I'm an adult, now.  In 1983, however, it was pure white fluffy frozen MAGIC.  Anyway...

Television.  I had outgrown "Little House On The Prairie," and "Automan" proved to be a giant lie - with trailers that deliberately made it look like "TRON," but a show that was beyond terrible.  I was too young to care about "Dynasty," and even at fifteen-going-on sixteen, I could not wait for "M*A*S*H" to just end, already.  Also, I really thought "Just Our Luck" and "Mr. Smith" had a chance, but they were dead on arrival.  But there were bright spots.  "Taxi" showed promise, "Cheers" was good, and "V" did not disappoint, but in early '83, we obtained our first VCR, and suddenly it was MOVIES that we wanted on our TV screen.

"Cujo" was, as almost all big-screen adaptations of Stephen King stories are, a gigantic disappointment, but "War Games," "Risky Business," "Flashdance," "Monty Python's The Meaning of Life," "The Outsiders," "Return of The Jedi," "Vacation," "Scarface," and -helLO- "A Christmas Story?"  It was not a bad year.  Not enough?  How about "Eddie and The Cruisers," "The House On Sorority Row," and "Krull?"  Yeah - top that, 1984.

Of course, at 15-16 years old, I couldn't help but be ruled by music.  Whether it was on the turntable of our first real component stereo system, on my first boom-box, or in the too-powerful headphones of my first-generation FM Walkman, it was one of the driving forces behind my adolescent psyche.

There's entirely too much music to even begin to attempt to think about doing justice to, here.  Rest assured, if Bowie said "Let's Dance," we danced.  If the Plimsouls were "A Million Miles Away," so were we.  When the Stray Cats were "Sexy and 17," and demanded that we "Rock This Town," we did.  Thomas Dolby couldn't find "One of Our Submarines," Kajagoogoo was "Too Shy," Peter Schilling hijacked "Major Tom," and Men At Work said it was all "Overkill," and we were all like, "I'll Tumble For Ya," it's just "The Politics of Dancing -" no, "Don't Change" "My Ever-changing Moods -" "Goodbye to You."

I'll be brief on the video games, too.  I mean, it's not like anyone remembers Congo Bongo, Tapper, Blaster, Mappy, or Gyruss, right?  Everyone's all about Pac Man, Ms. Pac Man, and Q*Bert, blah blah blah.  But does anyone want to join me in a rousing adventure in Mr. Do's Castle, or a round of Crossbow, or the Journey (as in, the band) video game travesty, disaster, and money-grab?  No.  You're all off playing Missile Command, or Centipede.  Harrumph.

Now, about that first job.  In the late summer of 1983, I graduated from delivering newspapers to making bad pizza, cleaning up after bad pizza-eaters, and entertaining bad pizza-eating children - at Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza Time Theatre, in Rockville, Maryland.  Yes, they actually spelled "theatre" that way.  Anyway - click on that link, read that story, and you'll get a feel for why 1983 was special.

That's about it, really - although I would appreciate a little credit from you sports-haters, for not mentioning the Redskins' Superbowl victory or the Orioles' World Series victory.  You're welcome.

Anyway.  This post-a-day thing is already dragging a bit, but bear with me.  There's much for which we will be THANKFUL, as well as the highly-anticipated by no one TWO-HUNDREDTH POST!  I know!  The all-caps should arouse some excitement.  No?  That's okay.  Just don't leave me.  Yet.  


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