Retro

0 74

So, this morning, I read the news that Nancy Zieman died yesterday.

She was the star and host of a television show called “Sewing with Nancy” that aired on PBS for years and years and years and years — a show that I’d first learned of in 1987 while I was in middle school.

Back then, all junior high school students were required to take an “elective”, like Industrial Arts, Home Economics, or Art, or whatever, but since I was in the band, I was exempt from this requirement since band already counted as an “elective”.

Most kids in my situation — those in band or chorus — just took a study hall or open period.

Me?

No, I was a full schedule kind of guy so I signed up for “sewing”.

Now, before you start thinking I brushed elbows with Public Television royalty, no, Nancy Zieman was not my sewing teacher.

But, on the rare day that we’d have substitute teacher, they’d roll in the big A/V cart with the TV and top-loading VCR and play an episode of “Sewing with Nancy” for us.

We’d sit and watch, totally uninterested, and then poke fun at Nancy’s crooked mouth or how she appeared to never, ever, blink for the next few weeks as any middle schooler would as we sewed together stuffed mallards and eagles and things from patterns clearly targeted towards kids.

I’m almost certain some of the pattern packages we were able to choose from even had her face on them. In my 7th grade sewing class, she was kind of a big deal.

I’d always assumed she’d had a stroke or was maybe blind and had two glass eyes or something but now, having read her obituary, I now know that it was Bell’s Palsy that caused her facial paralysis.

Anyway, though I’d only seen her show maybe twice…and that was over 30 years ago now… I never forgot her.

When I saw her face, in a tiny blurb on a website this morning, aged 30 years (though you could hardly tell), I knew exactly who she was and spent much of the day in a google/wikipedia wormhole learning more and more about her.

All told, it hit me far harder than it probably should of. Moreso than the other recent deaths of Robert Guillaume, Roy Halladay, or Tom Petty — all much, much bigger celebrity names.

I guess, first, it’s the realization that people from my own “youth” that I don’t picture as being “old” are, in fact, old enough to be kicking the bucket — Nancy was 64, so older than my dad was when he died — but also cause she seemed like a nice lady, you know, doing something she loved and getting paid for it.

I kinda strive for that — doing something I enjoy and making a living doing it. And being nice too.

I’ve no doubt that she was aware of the snickering going on within her semi-forced target audience (of students) but you gotta give credit — she didn’t care.

I mean, really, she looked like someone’s Mom, hosted a sewing show on PBS, talked a little funny, and never blinked. She didn’t have any of the traits of a 1980’s celebrity — easy fodder for middle schoolers.

But you know what? She was still taping episodes as recently as September. You’re clearly doing something right if you can last that long on television — even PBS — and I’m certain she was probably living quite comfortably as a result of her “hobby” turned business.

It really sucks that she passed away.

Of anyone, Nancy Zieman should’ve been able to sew into her 90’s.

0 3626

Tre CoolI remember once watching Green Day perform at some festival on television, probably around 1995, and my dad remarked, “That guy is terrible” in reference to Tre Cool, the drummer in the band.

I mean, I could tell that Billie Joe Armstrong was terrible at his instrument but didn’t notice how “off” Tre Cool was — and still is in every single performance I’ve ever seen since by Green Day.

My dad was spot-on. The guy can’t play.

Fast forward a few years, and it’s the same type of deal where Blink 182 (essentially a Green Day ripoff) is playing live at some awards show or something on television and my dad utters, “Hmm, maybe he’s not so bad…” assuming it’s the same guy.

Travis Barker

Through all of the noise, all my dad would listen for is the snare — and apparently Travis Barker had “it”.

I’m not totally certain what ‘it’ was — my guess is that his rudiments are spot on unlike Tre Cool who, while fast, is actually about as (un) talented as Animal is playing with Electric Mayhem.

Either way, it was quite a sight to see a guy in his late fifties drumming away on the steering wheel to a Blink-182’s “Rock Show“.

Dennis & Randy

My dad played snare for Preston Scout House and later the Flying Dutchman, following his older brothers’ footsteps, in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.

It was kind of a big deal… and not, like, just locally. It was renowned. World famous, even…which back then simply meant “famous in North America.”

Still, keep in mind that this was way before marching bands, aside from DCI, turned into what they are now — social outcasts that often turn out to be the folks that own cats by the dozen later in life. These kids were cool.

From what I can gather, he was pretty good at it too as I’ve been told by a number of people who wouldn’t just say it cause I was his son or because he’d died — I’m pretty certain he *was* really good at it.

When it came time for me to play an instrument, my dad laid down a few rules.

Absolutely no reed instruments – clarinet, oboe, or that god awful instrument called a saxophone.

No flute.

And never, ever, drums.

Didn’t leave me with a lot to choose from — and I think that was his plan all along…

I ended up on a trumpet in third grade, getting a jump on most of my classmates who took up instruments in 5th grade and beyond.

I believe my dad steered me away from drums mostly because he knew that, even if I’d managed to get really, really, really good at it, for the most part, the “talent” would always go completely unrecognized.

To be just awesome at something but have most people see it as, eh, yeah, that’s pretty good.

“Have you heard the new Beatles’ song? That Ringo is to die for…”

AnimalTalk about unfulfilling.

And now, when listening to live music, I totally get it.

Most of these guys are hacks just smashing away behind a wall of drums semi-randomly most of the time — and most people think they’re gifted musicians.

They’re not.

Kind of explains why nearly every song you hear on the radio was actually performed by studio musicians and not the “talent” on the cover of the CD or in the music video.

Anyway, while I was the best trumpet player in our school through 7th grade, it was never really my passion…and other kids were quickly catching up.

tubaI soon switched over to tuba. Yeah, the tuba.

No joke, our band teacher had a poster in his office of all of the brass instruments. I went in for my trumpet lesson one day and said, “I want to play that one” while pointing to the tuba.

I’d picked it cause it was the biggest and once the school system actually secured one for me to play it was so big, in fact, that I had to sit on a couple telephone books to reach the mouthpiece.

Played tuba through high school — getting a trip to Germany in the process — and then left it in my past the day I graduated.

While I was never very good, no one ever forgets the tuba player.

That is pretty fulfilling.

– – – – – – – –

PIAC Addendum

Total lie up above.

I actually was pretty good at the tuba.

I mean, I didn’t have a lot of competition as there were never more than two tuba players in our band at any given time so it wasn’t much of a challenge to be the best or anything, but, yeah, I was a pretty good tuba player.


– – – – – – – –

Tangent from the Deep End

Glory DaysFurther, I sometimes think about how people “peak” at a certain point in their lives before starting a steady decline.

For me, I’m not certain if my own peak came in high school (like it does for so many people) at the height of my track accomplishments or if it was in my 20’s when it almost seemed there was nothing that I couldn’t accomplish on the computer and money, honestly, came easily and from so many sources. (I bought a freakin’ plane?!)

Perhaps I haven’t peaked yet?

Who knows…

Anyway, I’m pretty sure my dad peaked while he was still marching and playing snare and it was a pretty important time for him.

It’s the only reason I can think of that he had about a dozen pairs of drum sticks from the 1950’s always somewhat accessible (though almost never used) in our basement for all those years — the ONLY thing I can think of in our house from his youth.

Kinda like my track trophy that I received when I ran a 4:18 mile in 1993 — it’s not on display at my house or anything but I know EXACTLY where it is and don’t plan on ever misplacing it.

The sticks were his trophy.

After he died, I remember seeing a pair of them in the garage of my parents’ new gated community “retirement” house.

I left them there.

I’m not certain why. Maybe cause it was in the garage, literally feet away from where my dad had died just hours earlier.

But after the surreal funeral, just as I was getting ready to go to the airport to head back home, my dad’s older brother came over with a pair of fat Ludwig sticks in his hand to take home.

I’m not sure if they were the same pair that I’d seen in the garage a few days earlier, I assume they were.

He didn’t say much of anything — he didn’t have to.

Anyway, I tucked them into my backpack and hoped like crazy the overly aggressive TSA agents at the airport wouldn’t confiscate them as weapons of mass destruction or something.

For real, I’d have started walking the 1200 miles home if that had happened.

So, sitting right here in front of my keyboard are a couple of 60 year old Ludwig drum sticks.

Ludwig Sticks

They’re not on display or anything — actually mostly buried below mail and empty Capri Sun pouches most of the time — but I know exactly where they are.

Probably always will too.

0 1832

While driving yesterday, I found it peculiar (and totally awesome) that the radio station I’d settled on played one song after another, after another, after another that I knew all of the words to.

Like, really, it was like my own personal playlist being broadcast on commercial radio.

In order, the last 6 songs I heard were Basketcase by Green Day, Runaround by Blues Traveler, Better Man by Pearl Jam, Because the Night by 10,000 Maniacs, Selling the Drama by Live, and Interstate Love Song by Stone Temple Pilots.






By this point, during my second car trip of the day with an awesome soundtrack, I finally noticed that each song was being intro’d with one of those cheezy male radio voices saying “1994”.

Must be some sort of flashback day or something…

Anyway, it was clear that 1994, when I turned 18, was my sweet spot for popular music and that got me thinking…

Am I torturing my kids by making them listen to this dated music?

Putting myself in their shoes, and reminiscing about what my parents made me and my sister listen to in the car, well, it kind of makes sense.

My parents turned 18 in 1965 which totally validates the style of music I was “forced” to listen to growing up, you know, lots of the Everly Brothers, Beatles, Neil Sedaka, Rolling Stones, Elvis, and that sort of thing. Lots of early British Invasion one hit wonder stuff.

Once the music got a little bit more psychedelic, political, and, frankly, weird, they kinda of punched out from the popular music scene much like I did when (crappy) bands like Staind, Tool, and Creed took over the airwaves.

But here’s the thing… in my opinion, my “old” music doesn’t sound dated.

No, it’s not over processed like BeyoncĂ© or Katie Perry and they didn’t use sampling of “apparently” forgotten hit songs to rap on top of back in 1994 but it doesn’t sound old fashioned.

Or does it?

Oh crap, that’s probably exactly what my parents thought in 1994 about Neil Sedaka’s “Calendar Girl”. That song is timeless… Ha!

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before that I’m really thankful that my popular music “sweet spot” occured when I was in high school from 1990 through 1994.

Really, I was the perfect age (just starting grade 10) when Nirvana came along and “changed” the trajectory of popular music.

Nirvana was never one of my favorites (though I’m pretty certain I own all of their albums besides Bleach) but songs from that era that I know all of words too still hold some weight.

The bands and the solo artists weren’t putting on costumes or makeup like the 80’s hair bands — just wearing and looking a lot like I still do when I go to the mall.

More music and less of a production during that time period, I guess. They didn’t have gimmicks, they just played the songs.

No matter, there isn’t much shame to be had for knowing the words to the songs I’ve listed above. I know I’m not embarrassed.

And that reminds me of a time I took my sister to a college hockey game back in 2009…

She found it downright hilarious when the sound system played Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA” and all of the Ugg boot wearing university students sang along proudly.

For real, the students drowned out the sound system in the arena as if it was the oft-played chorus of “Living on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi playing at any sporting event anywhere in the past 30 years.

Being older and wiser, my sister and I both knew that little Miley was a flash in the pan and that someday these kids would be horrified to be labelled as a “fan” and probably even pretend that this day and their actions at this specific hockey game never actually happened.

And as my sister continued to poke fun at the situation as though she lacked similar skeletons — she’s 5 years younger than me — I uttered the band name “N’Sync”.

Bye, bye, bye.

Conversation over.

For my age bracket, there just isn’t a comparison…and I’m really thankful for that.

And before anyone brings up my love for “The Sign” by Ace of Base (released at the end of 1993), well, that song is awesome

PERIOD.

[The 10,000 Maniacs MTV Unplugged album with the “Because the Night” cover was actually released in 1993 and not 1994 but that’s ancient history, right?]

0 1093

Hapkido NinjaBuilding off of my earlier post about Johnny Lawrence, at the start of third grade, I began taking hapkido classes through the YMCA, you know, cause wearing a gi was suddenly the cool thing to do on Tuesday nights in the fall of 1984.

The town I lived in didn’t have a YMCA — and still doesn’t — so it was just a program put on by the closest (I’d assume) YMCA and was held in our middle school gym.

As a 3rd grader, I found it *very* cool to be in, let alone the middle school, but the middle school gym! And with older kids too!

Actually, it was a smaller gym adjacent to the “real” gym. Maybe the size of a raquet ball court. Still neat for a third grader.

(By the time I reached middle school, I came to realize that the small gym was for the kids who barely participated in gym class — you know, the shorts over the sweatpants crowd — to “play”, um, games for the less skilled and coordinated. In reality, the small gym was NOT the place to be.)

Now, since it was a regional type of program, I didn’t know most of the kids in the room which, in a way, made it more exciting.

I mean, NONE of the kids from my school would know that I was training to be a ninja. That was kind of important.

Element of surprise.

You know the deal.

Hi-YA!

Didn’t see that coming, did ya?

So, in pretty short order, I went from a white belt to a yellow belt.

Then it was orange.

And then finally a green belt cause they’d run out of blue and puple ones or something. Hey, it was a low end YMCA program, cut them some slack.

But it was at this junction that I thought to myself, “Hey, how come I haven’t chopped someone in half yet?”

I looked at some of the older kids in the class, you know, with the darker belts that got to partipate in “tournaments” and it struck me…

We’re just dancing in here.

Sure, we may have chopped a couple of boards in half (that I’m convinced were already compromised before they even entered the room — the “Don’t Try this at Home” warning was proof of that) but, truthfully, I’d learned little more than to slap my forearm on the ground whenever I was knocked down.

Oh, and how to tie all the little ties inside a gi jacket.

Yeah, real life lessons learned, right there.

So, with that, my dream of becoming a ninja flickered out.

Well, until I saw that commerical the other night.

0 2118

I don’t watch a lot of television so forgive me if you’ve already seen this…

So, I saw this Buffalo Wild Wings commercial for the first time last night and, well, I hit the rewind button to watch it again.

Twice.

Okay, maybe it was three times.

Whatever. I thought it was awesome, obviously, and it’s likely due to the fact that I’m pretty much the exact age required to instantly grasp the reference. (I was heading into the 3rd grade when Karate Kid came out.)

Thankfully, for my sake, I can’t think of a time in my life where I was the prime target of a Johnny Lawrence type.

I got picked on by a prick (a year younger) named Chris Knell in 8th grade briefly but that ended far worse for him than it did for me.

Hope you enjoyed having to switch high schools as a minor-niner, buddy…

And while I may have sported some Johnny Lawrence hair in the early 1990’s I can only think of a single instance, in high school, where I could possibly have been perceived as a Johnny Lawrence.

Man, I was mean to that guy…

He totally deserved it, though.

For real.

I’d bet Chris Knell is still an a-hole.

So, wait, even though I looked like Johnny, I now think that might make me more of a Daniel LaRusso type, you know, when he beat Johnny in the tournament, right?

Yeah, I’m the good guy. High school is confusing.

Anyway, while a nostalgic commercial like this strikes me — nearing 40 years of age (OMG!) — I’m quite certain that the under-30 crowd (which you’d think would be the chain’s main target), you know, having been born AFTER the movie came out, would be like, “Um… I don’t get it…”

And speaking of Buffalo Wild Wings, have you tried their Mango Habanero wings?

Holy crap — my eyes are burning just reliving the time I made the mistake of putting one (or 12) in my mouth…

– – – – – –

PIAC Addendum

And speaking of commericals I’ve just recently seen, I can’t get enough of this Yoplait commercial either.

I mean, I could watch this lady stomp across the screen all day and I have no idea why.

I think I’ll have a yogurt. Or 12.

0 1314

Nissan/Datsun PulsarIn 1983, my family joined the ranks of a the two-car household. I was 7 years old.

Weird, thinking back, as we’d always had a house with a two car garage but never had two cars.

In fact, 90% of our neighbors only had one car. Strange to think houses were “ahead” of the times back then.

Anyway, the “new” car was a Nissan Pulsar hatchback that peculiarly still had Datsun branding here and there.

It was, ahem, brown.

Not the branding…the car was brown. The whole car. Inside and out.

Not tan. Not gold. Not even copper.

Brown.

Now, a brown car may have been a status symbol of sorts in the funky 1970’s but by the 1980’s, well, let’s just say I was never keen on being seen in this car.

Brown?

Really, Dad?

I remember pleading with him to get a blue one instead to no avail.

Hilariously, in 1988, I made all of the same arguments when my dad purchased a Ford Bronco. Also, you guessed it, brown. Ugh…

He even tried to talk the salesman into replacing the Bronco tire covers (which were traditionally black and white) with a brown Eddie Bauer edition one. You know, to complete the brown-ness or something.

Horrifically, the upholstery inside the Bronco which was, obviously, also brown was accented with orange stripes. OMG!

1988 Ford Bronco II

Yeah, just what a 12 year old in the 80’s wants to be seen in… two brown cars.

We’re talking sparkly brown, too. It was traumatic.

So, I was in high school when I first heard the term “POS” and it was used by some of the older kids in reference to my dad’s car coming around the bend to pick me up after track practice.

It took me a bit to figure out was a P.O.S. was. Okay, no it didn’t. Even 20 years before things like BFF, LOL, and WTF became trendy and common, POS set the “lets over abbreviate everything” craze off.

The very not cool Pulsar was on it’s last legs by then but even the day it rolled off the lot, though I hadn’t used the term that far back, it *was* a POS, through-and-through.

The equally uncool Bronco “could” have been cool if it’d been blue or something.

Or white — OJ Simpson was still a pretty cool cat back then!

So from 1983 through 1990, I was shuttled around in brown cars and, clearly, it scarred me for life.

To this day, I have never owned a brown car and can pretty safely say that I will never purchase a brown car. Ever.

Can’t do that to my kids — even if some of those brown Kia’s do look pretty sharp.

And speaking of my kids, perhaps it’s because they’re still a little too young to care (or notice) or maybe it’s just that I’ve always driven AWESOME cars (in my opinion) since they’ve been around but they don’t seem to have any negative feelings towards any of our vehicles.

If only I could have been so lucky.

Thanks, Dad…

RELATED NOTE:

In the past on here, I’ve posted that I like to attend car shows. Since I’m in no way a gear head and muscle cars do nothing for me, it’s mostly because they’re outdoors and have free admission.

Anyway, one of the shows I’ve brought the kids to each year only includes Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Bugattis, and Maserattis.

Sorry, Porsche — you’re ghetto and are turned away at the gates.

Scissor Door SkepticismDuncan, my oldest, even had the opportunity to ride in a Countach a couple years back — and though I’m not one to get all excited about riding (or even just sitting) in a fancy car, that was pretty cool.

So, that show only happens once per year since the owners of that type of vehicle aren’t usually the type looking to show off their wheels.

They have the funds, they buy a neat toy, and then drive it every so often and usually for charity events. That’s what this specific show is all about.

The regular car shows (seemingly on weekly basis) that happen around here are pretty much a collection of American muscle cars and wannabe “too fast too furious” Mitsubishi’s with wheels the size of skateboard wheels.

You know, bitchin’ Camaros with racing stripes, Mustangs with the blowers coming through the hood, and t-top Firebirds that even have the bird painted on the hood — mostly driven by short fat guys with hairy backs in Confederate flag tank-tops.

And then on the other side of the street, the primer gray Hondas and Mitsubishi’s mostly made out of bondo crowd — guys and girls, rail thin, vaping, and with an abundance of cheap jewelry on — blaring tunes with so much bass, their license plates rattle as loud as the engine does.

You get the picture.

I enjoy the people watching at these events — what a collection!

Perhaps I’ll start calling them people shows instead of car shows…

Anyway, at one of them late last year, I asked my boys to show me which car they though was “better” than our Z3 because, certainly, even at the primarily domestic muscle car shows, there are some really nice (and unique) vehicles that I’d trade my BMW for in a heartbeat.

To my surprise, they both agreed — it was the Ferrari. I wasn’t surprised they liked the Ferrari, you know, I just patted myself on the back for giving them good taste — I was just surprised they actually agreed.

But a Ferrari? Here? Where?

They walked me over to a maroon 1980’s style Ford Mustang — you know the type that looks just like a Ford Escort of the same era except the Mustang had goofy plastic shutters down the rear window… This, apparently was their favorite car.

Yeah, my kids thought it was Ferrari. So much for good taste…

Horse Logos

And that might seem pretty funny but, honestly, what the hell was Ford thinking in the early 1980’s? The entry level Escort and their flagship muscle car looked nearly identical. Sheesh…

The best part was that the meathead owner of the car seemed a little offended at their mis-identification… I thought it was hilarious!

I give the kids a lot of credit for semi-“recognizing” the logo but quietly explained (our of earshot of the owner, of course) that while the logos are similar but that this car’s logo was more of a pony than a horse.

And Ferrari’s don’t come in a colour as ugly as that.

Ever.

0 2831

Michael JacksonI’m not certain how it came up but recently my two older children have become interested in what I thought was “cool” when I was their age.

No, it’s not like they want to use my old Speak-n-Spell… Wait, actually, I should bust that thing out. They’d freakin’ love it…

Okay, a better example is how they’ve have little interest in the crappy Star Wars action figures I had back then or even playing COMBAT on the Atari 2600.

What they’ve been asking, though, are things like “Is this song from when you were a kid?” or “What did McDonald’s have before McNuggets?” and “What number were you when you played soccer?”

Yes, for the record, I’m old enough to remember a time before McNuggets. I’m pretty certain the term “Chicken Finger” had yet to debut.

You wanted chicken? Go to Kentucky Fried Chicken…and order chicken. There was no original recipe then. It was all just… chicken.

Anyway, while driving home one night, we caught the tail end of Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean on the radio and I’d mentioned that it was my favorite song when I was their age…

I exaggerated slightly as I was 6 when it came out but…after 3 decades, that’s close enough, right?

They both seemed to show real interest in it, you know, being something that I really liked when I was little.

Truth be told, I can’t IMAGINE my parents as children.

I think part of that is due to the fact that I essentially know nothing about their childhood — as far as I’m concerned, they “started” when I was around four years old and they’ve never really shared any of the details of what occurred before then.

It might also be because the things that interested them never really interested me. I mean, I liked playing soccer in elementary school but I’m pretty sure neither of my parents ever played soccer, like, ever. Very little overlap, I guess.

So, I’m going to try my best to make sure my kids know that I really was a kid too — and share with them as much as they’re interested in.

So far, anyway, outside of SpongeBob, our interests are almost a 100% match.

Not sure if that’s a sign of good parenting or not…

So, listening to MJ in the car that night had me reminiscing of the night I first saw the moonwalk.

The next day, all of us at the bus stop were talking about it. Trying to imitate it. And eagerly awaiting the next time Michael Jackson would be on tv.

Mentioned this all to my kids and they asked…

“What’s a bus stop?” and “Why did you have to wait for it to be on TV?”

Yeah, I hate when we’re listening to the radio and they insist it play a certain song… Ahhhh… products of the “content whenever I want it” digital age…

Last night, on YouTube, I pulled up this MJ video with 13 minutes of moonwalking all compiled into one video.

I was a little disappointed it didn’t start with one of his early ones (I thought it was interesting how he slowed the beat down as he aged…) but even still, the kids were transfixed.

Crazy, the first moonwalk I ever saw (at the 12:20 mark of the video) was barely three steps. Some of them in this video are all the way across the stage with some sideways thrown in too.

So, less than four minutes in, both of my kids were laughing and giggling while trying to do it.

Just like I did 33 years ago at that place we used to wait for a bus to pick us up.

Vintage Youth Soccer ShirtPIAC Addendum:
For the record, my older son does ride the bus to school each morning but I suppose no one ever refers to it as a bus stop anymore…

Probably because it’s practically a door-to-door service now. Didn’t I blog about that, like, forever ago?

Oh, and my middle son Henrik, after just 15 minutes or so, practically has it. Even with shoes on, he does a better moonwalk than I ever could. Crazy how fast this species of ours is progressing!

Speaking of the soccer number (way up in the fourth paragraph), my older son thought he looked so cool in that 30+ year old youth soccer t-shirt he wore at soccer practice tonight. I mean, nothing but pride on his face.

Sure, call me a hoarder but I’m certainly glad I held on to it.

Err, all 20 of them.

2 1595

Okay, so this past Saturday morning on my way to the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) to renew my license — an unwieldy task in and of itself — the radio DJ had just finished up some overplayed (for 30+ years) Steely Dan song and said, “I’ll have another great driving tune in 30 minutes…” and then proceeded to play “The Sign” from Ace of Base.

30 minutes?

Try 3 seconds!

I belted out the entire tune like it was 1994 — nearly wearing my voice out. There are only a handful of songs that hold this status for me and as cheez-pop as it sounds now (and did even back then) — and it’s certainly not really in my preferred style of music — the song is timeless.

So how do I know all of the lyrics? Well, I’ll tell you…

I happened to be in high school in 1994 when the song came out.

At the time, my musical tastes leaned more towards Phish, Live, Toad the Wet Sprocket, and my beloved They Might Be Giants. I even had a soft spot for even bands like Megadeth. Hardly Euro-Pop.

Now, as I’ve mentioned a few times in the past, I was distance runner on the track team. You know, one of the skinny guys that can run in circles endlessly.

Well, to the casual observer, it may have seemed like we were weaklings but truth be told, we were in the gym on a daily alongside the huckers and chuckers (the meathead discus and shot put throwers).

So, it was a pretty small weight room — a spot for squats, a couple of benches for free weights, and this giant Solo-Flex thing that had like 8 “stations” for all kinds of things. We distance runners basically rotated around this one universal machine before pounding the pavement.

Anyway, this windowless former uniform storage closet was a pretty mundane place to “work out”. One guy had a boom box (a what?) to listen to tune except we were technically in an underground bunker where we couldn’t get any stations in — even with tin foil all over the antenna.

There was one very cool feature on this boom box though — it had a tape deck (a what?) that would auto-flip (huh?) automatically kinda like cassette players in your car (in your where?) would do.

Cassettes were still a hot commodity then since no one had a CD player in their car — cassettes or the radio were your only options — so no one was willing to sacrifice one for the weight room.

Until one day, a cass-single (seriously, what are you talking about?), still in it’s cardboard wrapper, magically appeared.

A sign.

I mean, “The Sign.”

With the high end technology of that boom box and that poor cass-single, I must’ve heard that song hundreds of times with a 45 pound weight hanging from a chain between my legs connected to a weight belt as I struggled through 3+ minutes of dips.

And that was the beauty of the song — it’s tempo was perfect for doing weights and clocking in at just over three minutes, it was also a perfect timer for when to change stations on the universal…

So, yeah, to most of the school, the weight room seemed like a scary place that only jocks hung out in after school and during study hall but, in reality, it was a meeting place for bunch of guys who pretended not to like Ace of Base.

Really, though, to this day, I’d bet everyone single member of the 1994 State Champion Track team still belts it out on the rare instance that it’s still played somewhere.

Speaking of Ace of Base, we’re about due for another double dating Swedish musical act to take the world by storm, no?

Can You Dig It?

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