I love Schoolhouse Rock, and have since I was a kid. Those songs taught me a lot.
Schoolhouse Rock played cartoon music videos of educational subjects on Grammar, Multiplication, American History and Science between cartoons on Saturday mornings on ABC TV back in the 70’s and 80’s. The songs were catchy and the videos were entertaining.
The Preamble song helped me to memorize the preamble when I had to know it to pass my 8th grade U.S. Constitution exam.
According to Wikipedia, there were 64 Schoolhouse Rock Songs/Videos made in all.
Do you have your own favorite Schoolhouse Rock Songs?
Vote for your favorites at the following web page: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/K8TWRX3. You can vote for up to 10.
I will then soon be taking the top ‘sweet sixteen’ songs as voted by you and have a playoff that you will be able to vote for your favorites so we can determine which is the best Schoolhouse Rock song of all time.
Thirty (30) years ago this month, I went away to college. In my mind, how time has flown. And, it’s been a long time since I looked like this.
Following my graduation from Marist High School in Chicago, I chose to go to Lewis University – a private, Catholic university about 30 miles from my home. I lived on campus. It was the first time I had lived away from home.
I believe I was the first member of my extended family to go to and complete college. (At least I’m pretty certain that I was the first to earn a Masters degree – an MBA from Lewis University.) College degrees are pretty common by today’s standards, but back then it was a privilege, and not a common thing, at least in my family’s experience. And I took the opportunity, and my studies, very seriously.
That morning thirty years ago, my family drove me to school, helped me move my things into my room, visited a while, and then left. I had a nice roommate, but otherwise, once my family left me that day, I was on my own for the first time.
The very first morning of classes, I was standing outside my first class, and looked to my left. There stood the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. I was smitten at first sight of her. We were in that first class together. I soon got to talking to the girl and loved everything I learned about her. It felt like it was meant to be. I asked her out to a movie they were showing on campus. She accepted. We held hands through the movie. I didn’t feel so alone.
On Thursday nights there were dances at the Student Union hall with either live music or DJs playing popular music of the day. That summer of 1984, Prince’s album Purple Rain had come out and the songs from that album, including the title track, were playing everywhere, including at the dances. The powerful chords and emotionally sung lyrics were played loudly as young men and women listened and danced, including one slow dance to Purple Rain between me and the most beautiful young woman in the world.
I was in love.
And I followed that girl around for weeks so I could see her every chance I got.
Sadly, the girl I was in love with did not seem to reciprocate the feelings of love I had for her.
Really, what did I know of love at that point in my life.
I dealt with anxiety attacks and depression for the following months. I held out hopes and imaginary story lines that some day I would get that girl back. It fueled much of what I did in the following years. In subsequent months I began weightlifting and put on 30 lbs. of muscle on that slim frame you see in the photos above. I became active in Student Government. I played intramural sports, playing on two football champion teams including leading one at quarterback. I wrote and led the production efforts of College for Playin’. I became a Resident Assistant and later a Residence Hall Director in the dormitories. I started a Spirit committee in Student Government for which I received an award as Student Government Senator of the Year. I ran for Student Government President (I lost). I became a BMOC – a “big man on campus” – and acted as if I owned that school and took great pride and ownership in everything I did there.
Most importantly, I made some of the best friends I will ever have in life there in those college years.
I did NOT win that girl back. She went on to marry someone else after college.
But, the friends I made back then….Patrick, Vernon, Susie, Eddie, Coz, Jerry, Kim, Jim, Keith, Bill, Dawn, Jean, Betsy, Mary Ellen, Joanne, Steve, Sandy, Billy…and so many others too numerous to mention them all…are some of the best people I could hope to have as friends.
The 25 years since graduating from college have been an adventure…at times a painful one. I was married, had three kids, and was divorced in the most painful part of it all. I worked in the insurance field for many years, rising to Assistant Vice President at one company, before experiencing a post-divorce bout with job loss, underemployment (I was a janitor cleaning out the bottoms of garbage cans at one point) and unemployment. That’s where life finds me now.
Purple Rain can still trigger my memories and emotions of that time during my freshman year 30 years ago whenever I hear it.
I always wondered if there was a meaning to the song Purple Rain. I looked it up on the internet and read an article that said that according to Prince.org, Prince was asked about what he meant by “purple rain” and his reply was “the meaning is there if you look for it”. Mysterious as usual, Prince. I also read that he said “When there’s blood in the sky – red and blue = purple. Purple rain pertains to the end of the world and being with the one you love and letting your faith/God guide you through the purple rain.”
Losing the love I thought that I had found in college felt like the end of the world and was very painful. But I put my faith in God to guide me through those days of purple rain, made many friends, and became a stronger person because of it.
Losing the love of my spouse later in life also felt like the end of the world, and was far more painful. But I’d been through that before, and knew how to survive it, carry on, and become a stronger person because of my faith and trust in God. And this time I found many friends, angels really, to help guide me through the purple rain and get me through those storms I faced.
Throughout it all – all the passion, the love, the heartbreak, the pleasures, the pain, the joys, the successes, the failures, the togetherness, the lonesomeness, the storms and the rainbows – I only wanted to love and to be loved, and not feel so alone through it all. And, I don’t feel so alone in it all anymore. I do have many good friends that I love and love me. And I know that God is with me in the storms, guiding me through them, cascading down His love like a waterfall, and leading me through the purple rain to the Light of hope in tomorrow.
Prince was right. The meaning IS there if you look for it. And I found it. And His love. Again.
So if you should find me laughing in the purple rain of life, you’ll know why, and how I do it. And maybe join me laughing in it too. God is so in love with us.
Why do I blog?
There is no simple answer.
But last night I received a greater sense as to why.
The lovable comedic actor Robin Williams recently departed from the world too soon under tragic circumstances. Many people are tweeting their own personal reflections on the loss.
One friend posted a link to the following video which struck me deeply as the profound words of the dearly departed Robin sounded inspiringly.
(Here is a link to the original video from The Dead Poet’s Society movie.)
Here is the text of the quote that you hear in the video which comes from Robin Williams’ character John Keating from the movie Dead Poets Society:
“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.
To quote from (Walt) Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?”
Answer. That you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse.
What will your verse be?”
I was stirred and moved by the words.
I too am a poet at heart, having written several poems of my own (links: When Comes This Spring Called Loved?; The Sun With Your Face Rises; So Many Steps Forgotten) over the years. I poured myself in to poetry at some of the most desperate and passionate times of my life. Doing so helped to remind me I was alive and what I was alive for.
Since my first blog post, which included some verse, I’ve had an awareness of of why I am, what it all means, and why I blog…to share my unique, personal verse in the powerful passion play of life.
My second blog post, which also included some verse, further expressed why I blog: “To capture the thoughts of a moment in time for the eyes, minds and hearts of countless people and moments in the near and distant future.”
Here is a link to many more inspiring quotes from The Dead Poets Society that you may wish to read for inspiration. I recommend that you watch the movie sometime if you haven’t already. If you have, watch it again.
I also found many other Robin Williams quotes from his many works and movies, including the following quote from the movie Awakenings that further verbalized a sense of why I blog.
“The human spirit is more powerful than any drug and that is what needs to be nourished: with work, play, friendship, family. These are the things that matter.”
Over the past 5 years I have here written and posted freely over 140 blog stories on numerous soulful subjects of Family (The Best Christmas Gift; My Sweet Tess Valentine; Father / Son Races; Hundred Reasons To Love My Mom; He Served Us Well; Near No-Hitter; In Loving Memory of Gladys) and Friendship (My Best Friend; The Soundtrack of Our Lives; Super Man) and Faith (Forces; Happy Trails To You; He’s Alive!), and the Human Spirit (The Second Half; Rocky Times; Let’s Roll), as well as many fun and whimsical subjects to make people smile and laugh including my announcements about my recent Ed Novick Comics endeavor in attempts to connect with the human spirit within me, and with you, my reader.
I hope by my blogging and sharing my creative works I might inspire you to find your own verse, and maybe share yours with others…or maybe if you are struggling in life, just inspire you to hold on for one more day to believe in and see the hopeful light of tomorrow which is full of wonderful possibilities.
Yesterday I also saw another quote posted on Facebook that touched me, and expressed a sense of why I blog and share my thoughts and gifts with you …
“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away”.
And that is why I blog, and share it all freely with you.
Oh, Captain, My Captain. Thank you, Robin, for sharing your verse with us as you did. We are far richer for having known you.
And to you, my friends, “Carpe diem”.
My latest creative venture is a comic strip I’ve created about Private Parts. (No, not those private parts.)
Private Parts is an enlisted soldier who, along with his buddy, Private Matters, unwittingly transforms the military and saves the world as only he can.
Here is a trailer.
Private Parts is coming soon to Ed Novick Comics.
My kids and I just returned from an awesome vacation to the east coast. We spent a couple of days in the Washington DC area before heading to the Williamsburg, VA area for a week.
It was a relaxing trip with lots of fun activities at the pool, mini-golf course and tennis courts, but it was also a very educational trip. We saw the Washington monument, the Lincoln memorial, the White House, the Vietnam Vets memorial, the World War II memorial, Ford’s Theater where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, a couple of Smithsonian museums (U.S. History and Natural History), Arlington National Cemetery (tomb of the unknown soldier and Kennedy grave sites, the Pentagon, historic Jamestown settlement, Yorktown (where the British surrendered in the Revolutionary war), colonial Williamsburg, and finally, we stopped at Monticello – Thomas Jefferson’s home and grave site – on the way home. Visiting such places brought history alive for me and my children in ways that text books could not. I’m glad we were able to go. It was awesome. It was profound. I think my kids learned a lot and enjoyed the experiences.
Having gone to the Lincoln memorial and Ford’s Theater, President Abraham Lincoln, one of my favorite presidents (along with Thomas Jefferson), was on my mind a lot.
While on Facebook back at home yesterday, a friend of mine had “Liked” a web page that had a colorized photo of Lincoln. I checked it out and was amazed at it. I may have seen the original photo before, but it was in black and white, and was very grainy and distant. The colorized version of the photo was close and intimate and detailed and very real. It seemed like Lincoln was no longer just a statuesque and immortal figure, but was very human, as was the nearby General McClellan. I was able to save the photo and zoom in on details of it, and was amazed at the clarity and detail of it. I could easily imagine what it would have been like to be there. I felt like I was there the day the photo was taken and could relate to Lincoln like I was there.
Because I’ve been toying with making movie trailers for a few weeks now, I had a thought this morning to feature the photos in a movie trailer and share these amazing photos with the world in a fun and entertaining way on my blog. I found another colorized photo of Lincoln and used the photos to make the following epic movie trailer and video.
In advance, I hope that no one is offended by the video or any elements of it. I do push the limits of what we know and are used to a little. I like to do that. I like the creative process and exploring what is possible.
Most people don’t know what to make of the video. Is it funny? Is educational? Is it making a statement? Is it entertaining?
It’s a little of all of those things in my own personal brand of humor and creativity. I feature the colorized photos. I feature Lincoln. I draw parallels between Lincoln and myself as we morph together in surprising fashion at the end of the video. And, frankly, I self-promote a bit.
I hope I don’t offend anyone by the title: Discovering Lincoln (Has Joined The Coloreds). I didn’t mean it as a racial offense. I did think it was clever and a bit profound to note that by Lincoln now being in color he has made a leap from the past of “black” and “white” to the present of color and diversity, and I celebrate that 21st century America has come a long way to make the segregated and enslaved world of Lincoln’s day in the mid-1800’s to realize the dream so eloquently stated by Martin Luther King Jr. of an integrated modern world where men are “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”. We still have work to do in that regard, but can still celebrate how far we have come since the days the original photos of Lincoln were taken.
If you every get a chance, you should go to the sites I mentioned in the first paragraph above. It is life enriching to see the architecture and places, and to discover and remember the history, and the men who lived and died so that the United States of America could be a beacon of liberty and advancement to the world and inspire generations still yet to come. Live visits to the sites, like colored photos and video on our modern day computer screens, help bring history alive, and help us realize that each of us are not only learning history, but WE ARE MAKING HISTORY BY WHAT WE DO TODAY…AND EVERY DAY.
May God always bless the United States of America.
Earlier this week we went to a Christmas In July event at a Yankee Candle store in Williamsburg, VA where we were vacationing. I had always heard of Christmas In July, but had never experienced it like this.
We arrived at the Yankee Candle store and found a sandman in the parking lot. A sandman is like a snowman, but is made out of sand instead of snow. The sandman was surrounded by sand penguins. It was well crafted by the sand artisan and very cute.
When we walked into the store the mall interior had a ceiling painted like the sky so it felt like it was an outside square with each store being a little shop on the square.
When we entered the Christmas section we found a winter Christmas wonderland! The ceiling was like a night sky with a thousand Italian lights looking like stars in the sky. There was a Christmas tree on the other side of a bridge in the middle of the square. I took a photo of the kids and had one taken with the kids.
When we got to an indoor scene section of the store, there was a Santa chair in one corner.
Santa was nowhere to be seen, however there was an imposter there in his stead, but we soon overcame the threat he posed to Christmas in July thanks to help from my son, Canyon, and daughter, Tess Mae Lu Who.
Back in the main Christmas outdoor scene there was another special treat….SNOW! They had a machine that made simulation snow inside. It was the first time I had ever experienced snow inside or in July. It was wonderful!
All in all, Christmas in July was wonderful. I didn’t buy a thing, so it didn’t cost me anything except my time.
AND I got to enjoy many of the wonders of Christmas, with those I love, so I pretty much got just what I wanted for Christmas in July. Priceless.
Merry Christmas In July to you!
It seemed when I was growing up that our Catholic masses ended oddly.
Priest: The mass is ended.
All: Thanks be to God.
Was everyone to be thankful to God that the mass had just ended?
That didn’t seem very complimentary to the celebrant, nor very respectful to the services themselves – everyone saying thanks be to God that the mass was over. It seemed like we were all saying “Geez, it’s about time! It seemed to be dragging on forever. And the game is about to come on!”
It just seemed that it would have been better if the mass ended differently.
Thanks be to God, the masses can end differently now .. and better.
In fact, now there are a few options to choose from. Here are the options:
Deacon (or Priest): Go forth, the Mass is ended.
or Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.
or Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.
or Go in peace.
I prefer the “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord” or “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life” options. Aren’t those closings more inspiring to the Christian leaving mass and going out into the world to bring the light of Christ into it than merely, “The mass is ended”?
Fortunately, for us, there were no changes to what we say, and we all still say:
All: Thanks be to God!
So now, go forth, my blog story is ended.
(No one better say: Thanks be to God!)