Tag Archives: memories

Where Have All the TV Theme Songs Gone?

This season, the American television network “The CW” launched a reboot of the favourite 1980’s prime time soap “Dynasty”. In watching the very first episode, I was delighted to see several nods to its original series, including having kept its great orchestral theme song. The only thing was that it was a much shorter version of it.

Similarly, Netflix has recently rebooted “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.” Again, a really unique theme song, but chopped down to just a few bars of its original.

Have you noticed how the opening themes for many American TV shows have gotten shorter and shorter over the years? Now, some shows don’t even have them at all.

If I mentioned the names of program like “All in the Family“, “Golden Girls”, “Three’s Company”, “The Brady Bunch” or “Gilligan’s Island”, even if you weren’t a huge fan, I’m sure many of you would be able to recite a few words if not the whole theme song.

These theme songs became deeply entrenched in our pop culture, and some have become synonymous with the decades when the shows originally aired. In doing so, they also became entrenched in our hearts and minds.

As young kids, we couldn’t play “Batman” without singing few rounds of the famous “Na na na na na na na…” theme.

What would have become of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” with a theme song about a messy breakup instead of the inspiring words about making it after all? Continue reading

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Boxing Day Memories: Sam the Record Man

When I think back to my Christmas wish lists over the years, music has been a constant. As a long time music lover, my voracious appetite for music goes as far back as age 10.

Through my early teens, I had an allowance from my parents, and in my later teen years, I had pocket money from a part-time job. A lot of that money was spent on records.

At that time, vinyl record albums were relatively pricey for someone earning $2.35 per hour. Christmas became that opportunity to ask Santa for the albums I did not get a chance to pick up myself through the year.

In preparing that wish list, there was some careful consideration and a few (if not several) trips to the record store(s) to ensure that the albums I chose would bring maximum enjoyment. I would meticulously review the song lists and count the number of songs I knew versus the ones I didn’t, and then compared from one album to the next.

We didn’t have listening stations, YouTube, iTunes or Spotify to check out those other unknown songs. Sometimes I might have been able to borrow a certain album from a friend or from the library, but for the most part, those other songs were often a mystery until the record was home and on the turntable.

When I think back, I am surprised at how methodical I was for such a young age, but value for money was pretty important given my limited means and my appetite for music. Continue reading

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The Fear of the Truant Officer… Even at Age 51

police-carsA couple of weeks ago, I had an errand that needed urgent attention, but trying to deal with it outside of work hours would have meant long line-ups. While it may have seemed like a no-brainer to most people, after 35 years of riding the bus, it still is not second nature to me to think that I can jump into my car and to run an errand at lunch time!

As I was driving around, I don’t know why but I had this feeling deep down inside that I was doing something wrong. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it seems like a throwback to my primary school days when leaving school grounds was a no-no.

Picture it… Ottawa… 1974… two boys are playing in the schoolyard and one them tells the other, “Come on, I do it all the time. I’ve never been caught”. The faux-pas in question was the idea of leaving the school grounds to go to the convenience store to buy some candy. Of course I was the boy who needed a lot of convincing, as disobeying orders from authority figures was not second nature to me.

Let’s face it, having grown up as an only child, I could never get away with blaming a brother, a sister or a pet if something got broken. Even if I could attempt to blame the imaginary friend or just simply shrug my shoulders and say “I don’t know”, I was a horrible liar anyway. Between Mom’s glare that would extract the truth out of me without trying too hard, combined with the prospect of “wait til your father comes home”, the skills required for bluffing never became part of my wiring.

After much coaxing and the fact that recess was ticking away from my analysis paralysis, I decided to join him. Continue reading

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My Top 10 Easter Memories

As we head into the Easter holiday weekend, the memories of Easters past started flashing before my eyes. Maybe it was the delirium induced by a sugar rush of Easter treats that have been in such great abundance in recent days, but when I stopped to think about it, there were just as many great Easter memories as there were great Christmas memories.Easter

The best part is that my Easter memories often stem from their simplicity and their timing. With the floating holiday, Easter sometimes feels like winter while other years it feels like summer. Easter is often associated with the beginning of spring and the approaching end of the school term. It also heralds a period of coming out of our winter cocoons and opting to spend more time outdoors. And of course, there are the Easter treats… some years, too many of them, undermining the New Year’s resolutions, if they were still in effect.

Here they are, my Top 10 Easter memories:

10. My first road trip to Montréal
While I can’t say for sure the exact year, maybe it was 1990, it was right after I had moved out into my own apartment. It was the first time I had rented a car for the weekend with the purpose of a same day trip to Montreal to take in some sights, food and shopping. It was a great taste of independence and doing exciting grown-up things. I vividly recall a beautiful sunny day, the road conditions were perfect, even though there was still some snow on the ground, but I had a lovely day enjoying the charm and warm hospitality of Montréal, the first of many trips to come.

9. While it usually meant a long weekend of studying for exams, it also meant that the university term was almost over.
It was always difficult to stay in and study for exams when the urge to break out and enjoy the spring-like weather was tugging at me. Just the same, I knew that school was almost out. Bringing the books outside to study seemed like a fair compromise.

8. 6:00 a.m. Easter egg hunts
As an only child, waking up early and keeping myself quietly entertained (often, just watching cartoons) until my parents woke up was a weekly weekend ritual. Easter Sunday was really special as I recall waking up, finding the basket and hunting around for Easter eggs that my Mom would have hidden the night before after I went to bed. I recall my huge excitement every time I found one and then shushing myself to keep it down and not wake up Mom and Dad. Continue reading

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My Pre-teens: The Barf Bag Years

PereNoel
Just before the holidays, I found a great photo store that could convert old slides to digital format. While many companies offer this service, my dad’s slides were in 110 format, a popular camera format in the 1970’s that is not as popular today when it comes to conversions.

After picking up the CD containing the digitized slide images, I ran through them (go figure, on “slide show” mode on my computer) and could not help but notice picture after picture of younger me, barely smiling, looking like I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. This was quite unusual for a borderline extroverted, always cheerful, only child who was never shy in front of cameras. Then I remembered why… the barf bag years!

I had a pretty bad case of it too. From the age of 8 to the age of 12, we could not travel from one end of the city to the other without car sick bags. For longer road trips… THAT was an experience!

Keep in mind that 40 years ago, some of the very straight, boring highways that we enjoy today had not been built yet. To get to some of the places we visited required trips along long winding country roads with lots of hills. So between the ups and downs of the terrain and a car with no air conditioning, my stomach was not terribly happy and reacted accordingly. On some trips, it reacted many times to the point of having to make multiple stops on the way, sometimes to replenish our supply of bags.

What I don’t get is why, shortly after I left my lunch on one of those hills, Dad felt a compelling need to park me in front of landmarks and yell “Smile!” If I could articulate then what I can articulate now, I probably would have yelled back “Seriously? We’ve travelled 400 miles, through which I was carsick for Continue reading

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My Lifelong Courtship… With Coffee

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWhen people ask me the secret to how I am so cheerful all the time, the possible answers are endless. I could chalk it up to any of the many things for which I am grateful including a great family, wonderful friends and colleagues, good health and living a good life. But the one factor that never fails in keeping my spirits high is a great caffeine buzz… one that has probably been going on for over 40 years.

My earliest memories of the sensual experience of good coffee go back to my childhood and the percolator. Whenever we had guests over, the wonderful aroma of percolated coffee would fill the house, which created an association in my head between drinking coffee and its social nature, an association that would last a lifetime.

Maybe once per year I would ask for some, but my underdeveloped taste buds did not fully appreciate coffee just yet, regardless of how much milk or sugar I dumped into my cup. Perhaps that was just as well, I could not imagine a heavily caffeinated version of me in childhood.

It was in my later high school years that the aroma of fresh coffee wafting through the cafeteria heralded that rite of passage and the long standing love affair that continues today with my daily brew. On certain cold mornings or after traveling 15 km on city buses in the middle of snow storms, that first cup of coffee with friends was to become the source of great memories as the heartwarming conversation that accompanied it easily melted away the morning’s chill.

It was in the university years that coffee truly became my best friend. I could always count on coffee to Continue reading

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