Blogging–The Wonder Years, Chapter V

Speaking of Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr. (aka John Denver), in 1974 he was one of my favorite musical artists, along with Elton John, Steely Dan, The Eagles and Bachman Turner Overdrive (BTO). I was pretty eclectic, even though I had no idea at the time what that word meant. All I knew was that I liked it loud–“Annie’s Song” was simply not the same unless it was belted out at the top of one’s lungs with the radio volume button turned all the way to the right.

Hence the problem. This was long before the advent of “personal listening devices” such as iPods, back in the stone-age when LP stereos were located in common areas and a set of headphones was a rare luxury. I shared my common living area with a 16-year-old classical music-crazed, piano virtuoso wannabe older sister and a 2-year-old sister who was more into Romper Room, Mrs. Beasley dolls and taking naps in the middle of the day. Obviously this cramped my personal music listening style, and on November 11, 1974, I had reached my breaking point as this poignant entry from my 7th grade journal clearly shows:

I’m not getting equal time. My sister is always at the piano with the bust of her best friend Beethoven. She’s always playing her nice, sweet sonatas and not leaving time for me and John Denver. You see the stereo is unfortunately in the same room as the piano. I just can’t win. Either one sister is asleep or the other is playing the piano. I’m getting a couple of more John Denver albums for my birthday and I’m not sure I’ll even get to play them. Oh, how I long for December 25th when I will get a record player of my own!

Oh, the travesty of justice, oh the inhumanity of it all! This was not the first time that my eyes were opened to the fact that “equal rights” meant that guys got screwed, nor would it be the last. Fortunately, I did eventually get my own stereo, plus dad built a new bedroom for me in the basement, my own personal sound studio perfectly suited for cranking up the volume to the appropriate eardrum numbing, uberdecibal levels that these days account for my constant refrain of “Heh? What’s that you said, Sonny?”

A couple of years later, I even got to see John Denver, live in concert at the Roanoke Civic Center–along with my parents and sisters. Yeah, those were wild times in Southwest Virginia. While Eyegal was in the big city of St. Louis, riding some air guitar playing dude’s shoulders while holding aloft the ubiquitous butane lighter at a Boston concert, I was sitting in Roanoke with my family while John Denver belted out such classics as “Thank God I’m a Country Boy,” “Country Roads,” and “I’m Leaving on a Jet Plane.”

What my parents didn’t count on was the fact that the one-hit wonder Starland Vocal Band was the opening act. When they launched into a rowdy and raucous rendition of “Afternoon Delight,” I was, needless to say, intrigued:

Gonna find my baby, gonna hold her tight
gonna grab some afternoon delight
My motto’s always been, when it’s right, it’s right.
Why wait until the middle of a cold dark night
When everything’s a little clearer in the light of day
And you know the night is always gonna be there any way
Sky rockets in flight, Afternoon Delight. Aaaaafternoon Delight!

And that’s just the PG-rated stuff. But you know what? Starland Vocal Band had stumbled on to a great truth there. As Eyegal and I have discovered over the years, “delight” can often be uncovered in the midst of crazy times and places such as in between diaper changes, in the kitchen as the macaroni and cheese is starting to burn and even in the middle of a cold dark night when you’re bone tired and world weary. All in all, it’s been more than enough to make me forget all about Annie.

These days, my best stereo is a Bose and it’s located in my little black Audi A4. Most of the time, I’m not ashamed to admit, I listen to NPR and classic/soft rock (there’s no use in hiding it, unless I’m toting around my sons and their friends). Every now and then, strains from a distant past fill my ears, and I reach down and instinctively turn the volume dial all the way to the right. Suddenly, it’s 1974 again, and Annie “fills up my senses” while the young turks in their tricked-out Honda Civics look on in awe and bemusement as a stone-age relic transcends the surly bonds of the mundane and passes into audio nirvana.

  1. scott

    I’m not ashamed to admit it: I’m a John Denver fan. And I like Barry Manilow, too.
    I had Denver’s Greatest Hits as a child and always wondered what he was talking about on “Poems, Prayers, and Promises” about passing the pipe around. His version of “leaving on a jet plane” is the superior one to me. And what can beat “Matthew” or “I’m Sorry.”

    Alas, Annie stopped filling those senses shortly after he recorded that.

  2. mike the eyeguy


    I appreciate the support that you’ve shown me in your “coming out” vis-a-vis John Denver. And I thought I was the only one.

    But the Manilow admission really took some guts. Now I’ll be humming “I Write the Songs” for the remainder of the day. Thanks a lot.

  3. JRB

    Our cosmic connection can only stretch so far, Mike….

  4. scott

    It takes a real man to admit he’s a fan of Manilow.

  5. mike the eyeguy


    I never doubted your manhood for a second.


    I don’t understand. I had this feeling that not only did you like John Denver’s music, but that you also looked like him.

    I guess there must be some static in the cosmic connection.

  6. JRB

    Come to think of it, I may look a little like him.

    It’s just a generation gap, Doc. I have great appreciation for the Beatles and Motown, but those few years in the middle of the 70’s only produced good future musicians, but not much good music, in this Gen Xer’s opinion.

    You’re just a victim of your era. Can’t be helped.

  7. mike the eyeguy

    JRB said: “You’re just a victim of your era.”

    I kind of like the sound of that. Does that mean I’m entitled to some sort of compensation?

    I do feel like a victim–a little young to be a full-fledged Boomer, a little too old for Generation X. I am a man without a demographic.

  8. scott

    Rocking in my chevy van during those seasons in the sun with the woman I’ve always dreamed of. And Aubrey was her name, a not so very ordinary girl or name. And she said to me, Billy, don’t be a hero. I said, Get Down! Don’t you remember the night Chicago died?
    Love Hurts.

  9. mike the eyeguy

    Attaboy Scott! Take that JRB-who said (besides your little Gen X self) that the 70s didn’t produce some great stuff?

    Now I’m stuck on Chevy Van for the rest of the day. My Dad always changed the radio channel when that one came on.

  10. Nancy


    Second of all, did you see the movie “This is SpinalTap?” Your post reminded of the part where Marty say: Put it up to eleven. Nigel: Eleven. Exactly. One louder…

  11. scott

    Spinal Tap is one of the greatest movies ever. Nancy, you are too cool.

  12. mike the eyeguy

    I once again come up “short” in the cool department–I never saw “This is Spinal Tap.” Eleven sounds pretty loud, though.

    A handsome reward for the first person to produce a photo of Nancy on the Romper Room set.

  13. mike the eyeguy


    Thanks, I’m glad you stopped by for a little R&R!

    I still say you’re more like Gimli, which would make you a merry warrior dwarf, not a troll.

  14. Nancy

    wait — does Mike LOOK like Gimli? I dressed up as Arwen for the debut of Return of the King — had hair extensions and everything. (David was a Ringwraith.)

    A handsome reward for anyone who produces a Gimli-esque photo of Dr. Eyeguy.

    I do know of one guy who was on Romper Room with me, who still has the video of my first television appearance. Yikes. I wore purple bellbottoms.

    Scott, what are we to do with Dr. EyeGuy who has never seen that movie??

    Seriously, Mike. Go. Now. Quit reading this. Stop!

    B-l-o-c-k-b-u-s-t-e-r N-O-W!

    And, check out “Best in Show” and “Waiting for Guffman” while you’re at it.


  15. mike the eyeguy

    I am not a dwarf! I am a human being!

    My friend Bill (who is, I believe, of normal stature) is like unto Gimli in that he is a fierce culture warrior who fights with a smile on his face and a song in his heart.

    Yesterday, he even ventured into the Daily Kos (i.e., the Mouth of Hell) and returned, although a bloodied and bruised man. He is welcome here, as are all brave souls who dare to stand against the tide.

    I will do as you say and try to rent “This is Spinal Tap” this weekend. “Operation Cool Doc” is in motion.

    I had green and gold striped bellbottoms which I wore with a purple shirt and an imitation buckskin vest with fringes.

    There are pictures, but you will never see them.

  16. Nancy

    Cool Bill — and people won’t ever toss you either. (Is that too obscure LOTR reference? Am I a total geek — I married into it, seriously.)

    Yes, but you might not watch that Spinal Tap movie with the kids around…

    Imitation Buckskin? You’re the man.

  17. scott

    18 comments? It’s the lighter background. And yeah, rent Spinal Tap now. Otherwise, you will never understand the phrase, “You can’t really dust for vomit.”

  18. mike the eyeguy

    “18 comments? It’s the lighter background.”

    Well if that’s the case, then color me happy and thanks for the fashion consult.

    I’ve procured a copy of “This is Spinal Tap.” Look for the forthcoming review.

    I had to “pull a Jason” and pad a little, but that makes 19. Who will put me over the top?

  19. scott

    You will love Spinal Tap, if you have a subversive satirical sense of humor. Ahh, you’ll love it.
    Is that 20?

  20. mike the eyeguy

    Oh, I get it–Monty Python in leopard skin tights.

    Ok, that was some darn good satire. My favorite scene was the 18″ Stonehenge.

    Dana Carvey and Billy Crystal as mimes–heh.

    Up to 21–that’s even better than 11. Rock on.

  21. Nancy

    Satire? What — Spinaltap was a satire, and isn’t an actual band?

    Whoa. Talk about disappointing.

  22. mike the eyeguy

    Did I say satire? I meant to say, “that was some darn good serious art.”

    Nancy, thanks to you and Scott, I have now moved from a 4 to a 6 on the cool dial. I’m not stopping until I get to 11.

  23. contratimes

    I am joining the fun too late!

    Yes, yes: Spinal Tap is hysterical. It is worth more than one viewing. Seriously. Good stuff there.

    Trivia: Mark Knopfler did the soundtrack for “The Princess Bride”, but he agreed to the job on one condition: that the hat Rob Reiner wore in “Spinal Tap” make its appearance in “The Princess Bride”. Well, the hat indeed makes an appearance in that fine comedy.

    On another note, if the picture of Nancy is indeed a picture of Nancy, then she is far more Arwen than Liv Tyler (Yikes!). I mean, Nancy said that she once “dressed up” like Arwen. Egads, she’s Arwen in a heartbeat. It must have taken Nancy all of, what, one second to get herself ready for her “Arwen” debut.

    Other terrible LOTR (the film) choices: Elrond (the worst!!), Galadriel (I am sorry, but ALL the women in Tolkein’s work are goddesses), Strider (too wimpy, too small), and of course, Arwen. Wormtongue was quite good, though not quite serpentine enough for me: he needed to be a little more, uh, oleaginous, a little more greasy, than he was, but he was a solid choice.

    The biggest disappointment, in the end, for me, with the LOTR cast, was probably Liv Tyler and her dad, Elrond (Steve Tyler could have done a better job!). But, since I am a man who thinks he’s Strider (though MTEG has me pegged as the perfectly cast Gimli), I can’t help but express my disappointment with Victor Hugo Morgansorenstram Thornbird, or whatever his name is. I mean, I could have done a better job. Just take a look at my photo: Now THAT’s what Frodo saw in the Prancing Pony.

    Peace to you all!!


    (The word verification for this comment is XINFYRE. That, no doubt, is a reference to Mike’s Orc-cleaver, or is it Shadowfax’s little brother?)

  24. contratimes

    And also …

    I am glad that you described my foray into Daily Kos as a descent into the gaping mouth of hell. Once I was instantly tagged with the TROLL rating, I immediately began to identify with the Fellowship of the Ring.

    It seems that I can draw several conclusions from my experience at Daily Kos. First, if you want to win a debate you have to be able to type obscenities really, really fast (and then resend them – furiously). Second, the label TROLL is attached to any comments Daily Kos-ters can’t understand: The TROLL thing, I guess, is self-referential (is that mean?). Third, everything is inverted there: up is down, left is right (no, no, left is way left) and right is well, trollish. It is very much like a descent into another dimension. But since I am a bushwhacker I was able to escape! Barely though, eh? (It also reminds me of what I have told many friends and some of my students [I’ve done some teaching on the side]: If you want to APPEAR to win a debate, be the first person to say “Well, I prefer to keep an open mind.” Similarly, at Daily Kos, the appearance of victory is achieved by being the first to hurl invective.)

    Blessings to you all!


  25. mike the eyeguy


    It’s never too late to join the fun at Ocular Fusion–we’re open 24/7.

    I loved Reiner’s navy ball cap. My wife asked me recently what I wanted for Father’s Day and I was clueless. But no more. I want a navy ball cap emblazoned with “USS Cubera,” the submarine my Dad served on during the early 50s. That would be a fine way to enjoy Father’s Day and honor the memory of my own Dad.

    If I’m not mistaken, that’s the picture of Nancy that will be appearing on the dust jacket of her book which will debut in October ’06.

    There you go Nancy, now that I’ve plugged your book on my blog, you can expect a dozen or so more to fly off the shelves come fall. Who knows, maybe it’ll even breath some new life into this as well!

    Eyegal (as well as the rest of her early 40something posse) would vehemently disagree with you regarding the miscasting of Viggo Morgan Fairchild as Strider/Aragorn. Of course, since they don’t know you, who’s to say which hunk they would prefer for the part in the end?

    Both you and Nancy can pull off the LOTR look much better than I can. Eyegal was so taken with Viggo that there for a while she thought I should try to grow my hair a little longer. Needless to say, this was a complete disaster (see this).

    XINFYRE is the name of my cricket bat. One of those can come in very handy at times in the eye business (or for any forays into the Daily Kos).

  26. Nancy


    I think you might be smoking crack, but thanks for the Arwen compliment. ๐Ÿ™‚ I DO have photos of that… Maybe I’ll post one! (but on MY blog to get y’all to come over to mine.)

    I just had to look up oleaginous, and yes, I guess he could’ve eaten more olives, but I don’t get the point.

    The Pracing Pony vision that Frodo saw — in my mind at least — looked just scarier than Viggo. But, I loved the cast — loved it! Even Elrond. And why didn’t you like Galadrial? Too pretty or not pretty enough?

    Didn’t you enjoy the movies?? OKay, maybe Aragorn was a little more sensitive than Tolkien would’ve wanted, but overall?

    PLUS, have you even noticed how down right pleasant and civil the GOP version of the Daily Kos is? I’m talking about National Review’s The Corner blog, of course. They are even and fair and kind and pleasant. The difference in tone alone speaks volumes about the two sides.

    (Shameless plug- my husband is blogging for National Review’s Phi Beta Con Blog!)


    Now, eleven people have bought South PAcific Journal — total. (And I bought 6.)


    Actually, I just switched my book jacket photo to this one:

    Oh, no I can’t make it a hyperlink. Hum… Well, I’ll show you later. Am going to a tea. ๐Ÿ™‚ Trying to make friends in my new town. Will try to be charming for an hour or so.


  27. PatrickMead

    Not that I’m eccentric or anything, but I was teaching my parrot to whistle “Saturday Night in Toledo Ohio” since she already leaned “Forest Lawn”, both, of course, from John Denver’s work.

    Sad, but true.

    Spinal Tap? Can’t hold a candle to the Rutles. Now THERE was a band. Or not.

  28. mike the eyeguy


    I was planning on placing an Amazon order soon, so I’m thinking about picking up a copy of South Pacific Journal and doing a review on my blog. That would make 12–one louder.

    Hey, at least you’re on Amazon and not in the bargain bin at some dollar store! I found some copies of David Slater’s CD Be With Me for a $1 a piece one time a few years back. I knew David at Harding before he went to Lipscomb, and I felt that after his Star Search (an early American Idol show in the 80s) victory and meteoric rise to success, that this was a somewhat ignominous end. I felt bad for him, so I bought them all and gave them to friends as presents.

    Wait a minute, I guess at $0.38 a pop for a used copy, you kinda are in the bargain bin at Amazon. Hey, Grisham’s A Time to Kill found new life after The Firm was published–it could happen to you too.

    I smell a cult classic a’coming.

  29. mike the eyeguy


    On the contrary, that is not a sad story. It is a tender tale of a man and his bird and demonstrates once again your limitless good tastes. I’ve always had a feeling that we were cut from similar cloth.

    Yes, the Rutles! It appears Rob Reiner may have some explaining to do. Nancy, Scott, do you guys know about the Rutles? Or did Patrick, a 40something like me, scoop a couple of Gen Xers in the cool department?

  30. Nancy

    The Rutles??

    Oh man… I had no idea.

    I never claimed to be cool though…

    Dr. Eyeguy, if you do manage to secure a copy of SPJ, I hope you enjoy it. for thirty-eight cents, it MIGHT be worth it. No promises.

    Hey, one of the Amazon reviews is from some lady who said, “I was going through the bargain bine and found this…”



  31. mike the eyeguy


    You don’t have to claim it–you obviously are cool! The “Spinal Tap” suggestion was just what this Boomer needed to get with the times. You could host a new show–“Cool Makeover.”

    And yes, I’m willing to bet (up to $0.38 and even beyond) that I’ll enjoy South Pacific Journal too.

    Jason, Scott, and the dozen or so others of you out there, go here now and let’s clean out the bargain bin at Amazon and make Nancy’s day!

  32. contratimes


    I missed your comment re: oleaginous. It need not be about olives, just plain oil. Of course, the word, as you know, is figuratively used in this case: “exaggeratedly and distastefully complimentary; obsequious”; as one dictionary puts it. I meant it more in the sense of being slippery as an eel or snake; so, I can see that I probably used the wrong word. But oleaginous is a great one, no? Perhaps as good as oscitancy (which is occurring right now, I bet). Another must-have word. As are sternutation (might be happening now, unless nervous), eructation (perhaps happening now, too), and crapulent (that could be happening as well, [though one must not be underage] followed by many eructations).

    (I am enamored of sesquipedalians, especially the rather ‘adolescent’ ones.)

    To each of you I give (not literally) the osculation of appeasement.



  33. Nancy


    I was kidding about the olives!


    But, I have to admit, I knew almost none of the words above. Love them. Although I am NOT eructative, nor crapulent. ๐Ÿ™‚ Sounds so gross.

    I’m usually not sesquipedalian, although I was nickaned “Our Lady of Constant Moral Logorrhea” by the readers of the Philly City Paper.


  34. mike the eyeguy

    Nancy and BG–

    I’m betting that both of you got 800s on your verbal SAT. Word nerds.

    Moral Logorrhea? I would never accuse you of that Nancy.

    Verbal sprawl, maybe, but not moral logorrhea.

    Hey, this is “the post that will not die.”

  35. contratimes

    Why let it die? It’s a lovely thing.

    LOGORRHEAโ€“โ€“early 20th cent.: from Greek logos โ€˜wordโ€™ + rhoia โ€˜flow.โ€™

    I am sorry, but to be accused of logorrhea is a compliment. Oh, to be accused of Word flow, of Logos flow! Let it flow, let it flow indeed!

    As for those SATs, let me put it this way: On a scale of 1 to 10 with 6 being the highest,* we are talking about something other than the National Honor Society. National Stoner Society, maybe. But there was neither a stole nor a sash (though there might have been stolen hash) around me as I “commenced” on June 19, 1979.


    BG (all smiles)

    *A shameless theft from comedian Steven Wright.

  36. mike the eyeguy

    Bill Gnade stumbled onto the stage on June 19, 1979, sashless but not hashless. They handed him his diploma, and he immediately repented of his verbal brevity and converted to the sesquipedalian faith.

    The logorrhea commenced, and it has not stopped since.

  37. contratimes

    You, uh, busted me! It has indeed not stopped since. In fact, it started early on. When I was in sixth grade, I recall getting a scolding, after art class, from my sixth-grade teacher, Mrs. Finlaw.

    When I got to my desk after our weekly journey to the art room, Mrs. Finlaw silenced the class. She stiffly told me that I was to write 50 consecutive times that “I will never again be disruptive in art class with Mrs. Robinson.” Of course, suffering from logorrhea, I said that 50 times was nothing.

    “Alright, then do it 100 times!”, she proclaimed.

    “100? Piece of cake!”

    “Really, well then how about 150 times?”

    Needless to say, I finally lost the bidding war at 250 times.

    On my sixth grade diploma, Mrs. Finlaw’s comments distinguishing me from others — my outstanding characteristic — was my “oratory skill.” That skill, I can assure, you has been costly.

    Bill Gnade

  38. Nancy

    Humm… I doubt they meant it a a compliment, as other, shorter descriptions of me followed. $#!% head war monger, being one of them.


  39. contratimes

    Well, I think (I am only guessing) that I’ve been called a few bad things myself. So (I think) I can relate.

    Sh$$#@)@ warmonger is not the least bit complimentary, I agree. I mean, one look at your photograph should tell your abusive interlocuters that you are merely a warmonger. Clearly, your opponents are clueless.

    Peace and mirth!


  40. mike the eyeguy

    I have nothing to say basically. I am adding this comment for the simple reason that it will tie me with Jason Bybee with a 41 comment post.

  41. contratimes

    And let me set the 43rd precedent in honor of our 43rd president.



  42. Mike the Eyeguy

    stretch mark cream–

    Thanks you and thanks for stopping by, please come again.

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