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Thursday, September 18, 2014

I Want My Sesame TV!

Hey, guys!  I'm going to make this entry on a little bit of the short side today because there's a lot of stuff going on right now, and I'm trying my best to simplify things as much as possible.

That said, even though this is going to be an abbreviated blog entry, I guarantee you that this is one that you are all going to enjoy. 

First things first, I have a question to ask of you.  How many of you remember the days in which MTV used to play music videos?

Well, chances are that if you were born before 1990, you probably remember that period quite well.  And certainly when MTV was in its infancy, the station played all music videos, all the time.  It basically reinvented the way that we listened to music by featuring innovative and creative four to seven minute video clips to promote singles and albums. 

But as MTV began to age, the very thing that turned it into a cable television staple began to be phased out, only to be replaced with really cheaply made reality programs, shows about teen wolves, and reruns of Degrassi.  It's funny.  Most people seem to find themselves and mature by the time they turn thirty, but MTV actually seems to be regressing as it ages.  It's kind of a sad thing to see - a once awesome channel turning into complete garbage.  I mean, I suppose it kind of redeemed itself a bit by re-airing episodes of "California Dreams" and "Saved by the Bell", but now that they've stopped doing that, it's sort of boring.

Now, here's another question for you. 

Do you remember when Sesame Street used to air music videos?

I know, it seems like a silly question here, but go on.  Just think about it for a second.  Remember years and years ago back when Sesame Street was in its infancy?  It used to have really creative video clips in between shots of Sesame Street that taught us the letters of the alphabet, shapes, colours, and how to count to twelve (or twenty if you grew up watching Sesame Street in the eighties like I did).  And sometimes, you'd see some of your favourite Sesame Street characters and their friends put on MTV worthy music videos during the one hour long show.  I think you'd see at least one per episode.

Of course, seeing these Sesame Street music videos makes me incredibly sad now.  Although I am way too old to watch Sesame Street right now, I've caught glimpses of it as I was channel surfing, and I have to wonder what year it was that it basically turned into the Elmo show.  Don't get me wrong...Elmo's definitely got a huge presence on Sesame Street, and I certainly do understand why little kids love him.  But I also don't think that Elmo should take over half of the show to introduce us to Elmo's World either.  Thankfully, I don't think that Sesame Street has deteriorated in quality the same way that MTV has done, so at least it has that going for it.

But still, just like most people wanted their MTV, I find myself wanting to go back to the days in which I wanted my Sesame TV.

So, I thought that I'd do something similar to Total Request Live - only with Sesame Street music videos.  And, because I'm on a time crunch, I thought that I would only do a Top 5. 

I think this'll be a fun topic for
TUBE TALK THURSDAY.  So, what are my five favourite Sesame Street music videos?  Have a look!


I always used to love it when celebrities would drop by Sesame Street.  Of course, back when I first watched this video as a kid, I had absolutely no idea who the "Four Tops" even were.

For those of you who aren't sure who they are, they're responsible for such hits as "Reach Out I'll Be There", "Can't Help Myself", and "It's The Same Old Song".  They were really big during the Motown era of the 1960s. 

Anyway, they appeared on an episode of Sesame Street to talk about how much fun it was to wait for the bus, and they showed us how to read a bus stop sign.  It actually made me want to go on a bus when I was little.

Of course, riding a bus as an adult isn't nearly as much fun as Sesame Street made out to be.  Still, I liked it.


Okay, maybe it was the disco ball.  Maybe it was the clock with the light up numbers.  Maybe it was the dozens of Muppets that honked their horns by squeezing their noses.  I'm not sure what it was about this video that made me enjoy it so much, but I have to say that its simplicity was key.

Oh, and it also had the added bonus of teaching kids how to count to twelve - a handy skill to have when going into kindergarten.

3.  1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Counting to five was never any cooler in this country infused Sesame Street video.  It literally looked like you were watching a Muppet infused version of Hee Haw or something similar. 

Even the singer was based on a popular country singer.  Of course, to avoid copyright infringement, the singer went by the name of "Polly Darton".  Though, I suspect that Dolly Parton probably loved the fact that Sesame Street turned her into a character. 

And certainly Polly Darton helped millions of kids learn how to count to five. 

Oh...I suppose that it goes without saying that Polly's song was based off of Dolly's #1 single "9 to 5".  She's hardly the first famous person that Sesame Street spoofed.  They combined Madonna and Cyndi Lauper into a new character who sang about how much of a cereal girl she is.  And of course, there was also a character who called herself Meryl Sheep.


Okay, I'm not exactly sure why Cookie Monster is trying to be like Flavor Flav in this video, but you have to give Cookie credit for bringing rap music to Sesame Street.  This is also the turning point in which Cookie Monster decided to bring other foods into his cookie-only diet to educate children about not eating too much junk food.

So, with singing apples, pineapples, and broccoli stalks singing "healthy food" over and over again in the background, Cookie Monster talks about how healthy food is delicious and nutritious.  Though, we never actually see him DIGEST any of the healthy food.

Probably because if Cookie had eaten his background singers, he might get arrested for murder.  Ah well, it's still interesting enough to put in the #2 spot.


I hear that this particular video scared a lot of young children when it first came out, but I really liked this one.  I'm not sure who the lead singer of this Muppet band is supposed to be though.  To me, he looks like a combination of Adam Ant, Elton John, and the lead singer from Men Without Hats.  Regardless, I love the New Wave feel of this video.  It's like J. Geils Band's "Freeze Frame" meets Devo's "Whip It".  And of course, the prerequisite Sesame Street cows are a cameo that is always welcome.

So, what do you think?  Do you have a Sesame Street music video that should've made my list.  Please post it in the comments below!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What's On Your Mind?

I have no idea where I'm going with this WHO AM I WEDNESDAY post, so I'm just going to go into the depths of my mind (which admittedly can be a very scary place) to see what's lurking in there.  I have no idea where I'm going with this, nor do I know exactly what I'm going to say.  All that I do know is that I'm really going into this entry with blinders on.

Well, here goes nothing.

September 17, 2014

So, what's been happening with me lately?  Honestly, not a whole lot.  At least not at the moment anyway.  I have lots of plans coming up towards the end of the month, and some plans made in October as well with Thanksgiving and Halloween coming up.  But right at this moment, I'm helping out with the planning of a massive sale that is set to take place at my job. 

And this massive sale is kind of a double edged sword for people.  For customers, they love it because they can get food, beauty products, electronics, toys, and seasonal stuff for extremely low prices.  For store managers and district managers, they love it because all that customer traffic will likely bring in a ton of profit for the store and the company.

Myself?  Well, I don't mind serving customers, but I do mind it when they get angry with me because we run out of a particular item in the sale.  I really don't like that at all.  In fact, I'll be perfectly honest.  I hate it.  I don't get paid nearly enough to take abuse from people who obviously have anger issues and probably should have stayed home and shopped online.  But unless there is a way that one can invent a mood-altering laser gun that transforms surly shoppers into perky purchasers, there's not much I can do about it but smile and nod.

(Though I'll be fair.  95% of all customers I deal with are awesome people.  Unfortunately, I only tend to remember the bitter, crusty, evil 5% that really shouldn't go out in public ever again.)

This being said, I have a major confession to make here.  It may very well explain why I became such an easy target for people to pick on, or make fun of.

I don't do well with confrontation.  At all.  Now, granted, when it comes to dealing with people in a workplace setting, there's very little that you can do.  After all, you make one false move and before you know it, you're given your pink slip and shown the door.  Or, in extreme cases, the boys in blue come out, slap silver handcuffs on your wrist, and you end up in a jail cell where orange truly is the new black.

But in all other aspects of life and living, I seem to be that way with practically everybody around me.  I have great difficulty standing up for myself and whenever I'm in a situation where I am confronted by someone else, I have a really hard time dealing with it.  Maybe it has to do with the fact that I don't work well with people who are angry.  Maybe it has to do with the fact that I've seen and witnessed a lot of dysfunction between people in my life.  Or, maybe it has to do with the fact that even though I'm in my thirties and should have a firm sense of who I am by now, I still find myself crumbling under pressure when people question some of the choices I've made, or when people openly ask me questions that I don't feel comfortable answering, or even if people are being complete jerks.

I don't feel like I've lost my edge.  I feel like I never had any edge to begin with.  And I'm not really exactly sure how to go about improving this.

I suppose it's like this.  My whole life has been all about making other people feel happy - and sometimes I feel as though that I'm sacrificing my own happiness to do exactly that.  Unfortunately, as someone who admittedly has a hard time adapting to extreme change (though not nearly as difficult as Sheldon Cooper from "The Big Bang Theory"), I just sort of adapted to being the meek, quiet, shy person that most people seem to see me as.

I hate being that person.  Yet, no matter what, I don't know how to change it. 

I wish I could find a way to believe in myself enough to not let the opinions and comments of other people affect me negatively.  I wish I didn't act like such a doormat around Type A personalities or extremely aggressive people.  I wish that my store sold boxes or bottles of assertiveness at this big sale that is coming up so that I could improve my confidence and not be so afraid of people.  Unfortunately, I fear that purchasing assertiveness in stores is as much of an impossible dream as those mood-altering laser guns that I spoke about a few paragraphs above.

At first, I thought that it was in relation to the social anxiety that I've struggled with most of my adult life, but I can't really say for sure that it's the root cause.  There's a slight connection, but it's more like one of those spotty WiFi connections that you'd get at a dodgy coffee shop.

(That metaphor was so lame, but again, we're going into the depths of my brain here.  I think a lot of lame things.  You were warned at the beginning of this blog entry.)

In reality, I believe that the real reason why I lack assertiveness in my life is because I hate the idea of hurting other people's feelings.  It doesn't matter whether mine got hurt in the long as I made sure that everyone else was happy. 

It's a horrible way to live, might I add.  Because people who live that way always put themselves last, and people who do that basically stop enjoying the good things that life has to offer.

I know.  I've been living that way for such a long time.  And unfortunately, I've sort of gotten used to it.

I think what I really need to do is just grab life by the horns and just take off somewhere and be by myself for a little while.  Like go out and live in a log cabin for half a year, or take an extended vacation on my own terms, or basically be in charge of myself and only myself for even a little bit.

After all, like that cosmetic company says...I'm worth it. 

Now to muster up the courage.  That's the tricky part.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

September 16, 1972

It's time for another edition of the TUESDAY TIMELINE for this week.  It's the sixteenth of September, and I decided to give this edition of the timeline a musical theme for today.  Consider it a bonus Sunday Jukebox post.

Only on Tuesday.  But hey, at least it's a #1 hit that we'll be taking a look at.

But before we get into that discussion, I thought we'd have a look at some of the other events that took place on this date throughout history.  What happened on September 16?  Well, quite a lot actually.

1776 - The Battle of Harlem Heights takes place during the American Revolutionary War

1812 - The Fire of Moscow starts, and over the next seventy-two hours, three-quarters of the city would be destroyed

1880 - The Cornell Daily Sun - America's oldest, continuously independent college daily paper - begins publication

1908 - The General Motors company is founded

1920 - Thirty-eight people are killed and four hundred injured after a bomb is detonated in front of the J.P. Morgan building on New York City's Wall Street

1924 - Actress Lauren Bacall (d. 2014) is born in The Bronx, New York

1927 - Actor Peter Falk (d. 2011) is born in New York City

1928 - Approximately 2,500 people are killed when the Okeechobee hurricane makes landfall over Southeastern Florida

1945 - The surrender of Japanese troops in Hong Kong is accepted by Royal Navy Admiral Sir Cecil Harcourt

1947 - Almost two thousand people lose their lives when Typhoon Kathleen strikes Japan

1955 - The military coup to unseat the President of Argentina, Juan Peron, is launched at midnight

1959 - In New York City, broadcast from live television, the first demonstration of the first successful photocopier - the Xerox 914 - takes place

1966 - The grand opening of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City takes place

1970 - King Hussein of Jordan declares military rule following the hijacking of four civilian airliners by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine

1975 - Papua New Guinea becomes an independent nation

1987 - The Montreal Protocol is signed to protect the ozone layer from depletion

1992 - Manuel Noriega is sentenced to 40 years in prison for drug trafficking and money laundering

2003 - Sheb Wooley, singer of "The Purple People Eater" dies in Nashville, Tennessee at the age of 82

2009 - Mary Travers of Peter, Paul, & Mary dies at the age of 72

2013 - A gunman kills twelve people at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C.

We also have some celebrity birthdays to share as well.  So, I want to wish all of the following famous faces a happy birthday today.  Happy birthday to Janis Paige, B.B. King, Takao Tanabe, George Chakiris, Jules Bass, Susan Ruttan, Ed Begley Jr., Mickey Rourke, Kurt Fuller, Eric Vail, David Copperfield, Jennifer Tilly, Jayne Brook, Richard Marx, Molly Shannon, Katy Kurtzman, Marc Anthony, Amy Poehler, Shalane McCall, Tina Barrett, Musiq Soulchild, Flo Rida, Alexis Bledel, Sabrina Bryan, Madeline Zima, Kyla Pratt, Teddy Geiger, Sarah Steele, Nick Jonas, and Jake Roche.

All right.  So, what date will we take a trip to this time around?

Well, how about we go back 42 years ago today to September 16, 1972?  I don't remember ever featuring a Tuesday Timeline from 1972 before.  If I did, it was when I was first starting off the Tuesday Timeline entry.  Regardless, we're going back in time to 1972.

Now, one thing that I will say about 1972 - even though I missed it by nine years - is that the music from that particular year was awesome.  You see, 1972 was one of those years in which there was a lot of social activism.  People were still protesting the Vietnam War, feminists were out in full force demanding equal rights, and the African-American population were also making their voices heard demanding equality.  So, as a result, the musical charts were filled with lots of music that symbolized this new era from John Lennon's "Imagine" to Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman".

In fact, come to think of it, today's topic has to do with racial harmony.  For it was 42 years ago today that a song by Three Dog Night hit the top of the charts.  A song that was inspired by a real-life event of the past that wasn't quite such a pleasant experience - particularly for those involved in it first hand.

ARTIST:  Three Dog Night
SONG:  Black and White
ALBUM:  Seven Separate Fools
DATE RELEASED:  July 3, 1972

Yes, long before the release of Michael Jackson's "Black or White", Public Enemy's "Fight the Power", and even War's "Why Can't We Be Friends", Three Dog Night tackled the subject of racial harmony with their chart-topper "Black and White".  And, believe it or not, this song is NOT an original Three Dog Night composition.  In fact, the lyrics of this song were written nearly twenty years before Three Dog Night even recorded their own version!

The song itself was written in 1954 by David I. Arkin and Earl Robinson, and was inspired by a real life event which took place on the seventeenth of May, 1954.

That was when the United States Supreme Court voted in favour of ceasing all racial segregation of public schools in the "Brown v. Board of Education" decision. 

It seems hard to believe now, but six decades ago, public schools in the United States were racially segregated.  There were schools for white students, and there were schools for black students.  This was the norm for several decades (dating all the way back to 1896), and back in the 1950s, racism was unfortunately a part of life - in particular in the Southeastern United States in which prior to 1954, no less than eighteen states had racial segregation in schools as a requirement.

When the decision was made to end racial segregation by unanimous vote by the United States Supreme Court in 1954, it did allow black and white students to attend the same school.  Unfortunately, there were still some people who actively fought against the ruling, with some people attempting to use their political power to physically keep black students from entering white public schools.

Perhaps the most famous example of this would be the Little Rock Nine case, in which nine African-American students were not only bullied and humiliated by many of the white students who attended Little Rock Central High School during the 1957-1958 school year, but were actually blocked from entering the school by then Governor of Arkansas Orval Faubus.  Of course, President Eisenhower made sure that the Little Rock Nine could attend school there, but judging by the picture up above, that road was not an easy one.

Now, here's where the song "Black and White" comes into play.  In 1956 and 1957 respectively, both Pete Seeger and Sammy Davis Jr. recorded the single, with the original first verse going a little something like this.

Their robes were black, Their heads were white
The schoolhouse doors were closed so tight
Nine judges all set down their names,
To end the years, and years of shame.

Yeah, I'd definitely call that a sign of the times.  Definitely a social commentary song for sure based on the decision to desegregate schools sixty years ago.

Now, flash ahead to September 1972, and Los Angeles, California based band Three Dog Night's own version topped the Billboard charts.  But with racial segregation being a thing of the past for eighteen years prior to this song's release, the band opted to come up with their own take on the opening verse of the song.

The ink is black, the page is white
Together we learn to read and write
The child is black, the child is white
The whole world looks upon a beautiful sight

I mean, think about it for a second.  The old verse was a social commentary on a recent event that had taken place that shaped the way that people not only viewed the educational system, but viewed themselves as well.  It was a song that forced people to take a look within themselves to point out their own prejudices and it made people really come to debate whether they wanted to continue with the way things were, or really take the step to create badly needed change that would make everyone feel more inclusive.

But with this new verse, it showed everyone what life was like since that decision was made.  Certainly in 1972, racial tensions were far from perfection.  Heck, in some places, racism is still a problem in 2014.  But it's nice to know that enough changed between 1954 and 1972 to make people realize that skin colour means virtually nothing when it comes to teaching people right from wrong, educating people so that they become capable of great things, and most importantly, loving people and accepting people for who they are in every possible way imaginable.

That was the message that Three Dog Blind released in 1972.  And forty-two years ago today, that message became the biggest hit on the Billboard charts.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Spelling and Punctuation Matter!

I'll be perfectly blunt with all of you.  Spelling mistakes happen to the best of us.  In fact, as someone who gets really annoyed by bad spelling and misuse of punctuation and grammar, even I'm the first one to admit that I've made spelling errors in a variety of different places.  I've misspelled words in homework assignments, Facebook comments, and I'll admit that over 1,213 blog entries, I've made a couple of errors in this very blog.  But you know, sometimes that's the way that the world works.  Sometimes mistakes happen, and you usually have two choices when dealing with them.

You can either erase the mistake and write it correctly, or you can leave it to laugh about later on.  I'm positive that most of us - if given the opportunity to - will try to fix any mistakes that take place because I'm sure that most of us don't like to make them.

Ah, but here's the key point that I want to make.  What if you lose the opportunity to correct yourself, or what if you don't have time to make any last minute edits to your copy that you submit to a publisher or editor?  Well, you might end up getting a little bit of egg on your face when you realize that your spelling and/or grammatical mistakes are in full view to the general public.  In fact, I'll be providing a really funny example of this at the very end of this blog.

However, some of these mistakes that have appeared in newspapers, magazines, and even screen captions on news programs can make you laugh and chuckle over the ridiculousness of how it is presented.  Sometimes the errors are so blatantly obvious that you can't help but chuckle, but other times the typos completely change the meaning of a sentence, going from harmless to hilarious with just a simple transposition of letters.

And in this edition of FUNNY MONDAY, I found exactly twenty examples of some of the funniest typographical and grammatical errors that I've found from the internet.  Maybe you'll laugh, and maybe you won't.  Either way, I had fun finding them!

As always, I want to give credit to You Can Be Funny, 11 Points,,,, My Typo Humour, and my personal favourite, Get Thee To An Editor!

I love that title! 

All right, so are we ready to kick off today's entry of typographical blunders?  Let's get to it!

1.  Sometimes, the words can be spelled perfectly correctly, just put in the wrong order.  But I would love to be able to live in a house that has the power to destroy fire.  Maybe it has a waterfall guarding the front door?

2.  I'm not exactly sure that this is really the most hygenic way to keep warm, but whatever floats your boat, I suppose.

3.  Well...if I had to pull an all-nighter, I'd probably type headlines like this as well.  Or, perhaps he's just drunk.  Or perhaps he died and did a faceplant in the keyboard of his laptop.  Too bad there's no follow up article.

4.  I'm not exactly sure where this mystical, magical place known as "Missippi" can be found, but apparently they can read and write there.  Maybe it's somewhere near "Loisana", or "Floda"?

5.  I don't know.  Does we?

6.  Guess what!  If you're impaired, you can legally drive in the UK!  This lady says so!  Maybe this was done during the annual purge there?  Oh...wait.  That movie's a fictional one?  My bad.

7.  My question can you tell if you have a wrong one?

8.  Leave it to a guy named Wenster to give Webster some competition in the wordsmith game.  I suppose Wenster helped get "selfie" in his own dictionary first!

9.  Well, isn't this headline chock full of irony?

10.  You're right.  The text inside the spark logo isn't a misprint.  The text beside it on the other hand makes me very nervous.  Maybe I need to calm down with a nice glass of orgainc milk.

11.  Fruit is not a font.  This publisher learned his/her lesson the hard way.

12.  We also may never know why this person failed his grade seven homonyms quiz.

13.  Unbeknownst to the person who created this headline, they proved their point marvelously.  And THAT'S no lie.

14.  I'm honestly not sure if this headline is real or an elaborate fabrication.  But what a royal f@#$-up this turned out to be, huh? 

15.  Sometimes, it's not the way you write the word, but the order in which you type in the keys.  But, you can't really get too mad at this person.  After all, the "R" and "F" keys are in close proximity.  And technically they did spell a proper word.

16.  This headline reminds me of that lesser known Madonna hit.  "Come on, vouge.  Your face has got too much rouge, you know you don't need it..."

17.  At least the newspaper can admit to making mistakes by printing a "correrction" once in a while.


19.  I think it's awesome that they now have laws for drunk driving (maybe they learned their lesson from image #6).  Now they need to do something about drunk headline captioners.

20.  Oh, FOX News.  No.  Just no. 

And, now for my example.  One that I didn't catch until...oh...four months after I posted it.  Sigh.

When I was coming up with the new look for 2014, I wanted to redo the logos.  A friend of mine came up with the heading for 2014, and I wanted to come up with an avatar to match.  Which I did.  Have a look.

Now, it didn't take me until just now to realize this, but the website address for the blog is written wrong, using an "@" sign instead of a period.  It's a minor mistake in retrospect, but one I should have caught.  So, joke's on me! 

But hey, nobody's perfect.

In the meantime, I did some playing around and redid this avatar and here's the finished product.

Now, I know it doesn't quite match the logo up least, not yet anyway.  All I'm going to say is that 2015 is just three and a half months away.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Hangin' Tough

I'll be perfectly honest with all of you.  This blog post is dedicated to the ladies of the audience today.  In particular, those ladies who might be between the ages of, oh, 31 and 46.  I imagine that most of you between those ages would probably appreciate this SUNDAY JUKEBOX entry more than anyone.

And the reason why I decided to include an age bracket in this blog entry today is because this song happened to become a #1 hit exactly twenty-five years ago this week.  So, that would be during a time in which you would have been between the ages of 6-21.  But, I'm only really guessing here.  Perhaps some of you might remember listening to these guys while you were sipping a bottle in your playpen, and others might remember listening to them as you entered your golden years wondering who those nice boys on the radio were. 

All I know is that when these guys were on the top of the charts, I was just entering the third grade.  And, if my third grade classroom was any indication, I guess you could say that all the girls in my class had fallen under their spell in a big way. 

When my third grade year began in September 1989, I think that most of the girls in my classroom had at least one piece of memorabilia that had the faces of the boys that called themselves "The New Kids on the Block".  Some of them opted to showcase their love of the band by wearing a concert T-shirt with all five members on the front of it.  Some carried their New Kids on the Block pencil sharpeners and New Kids on the Block pencils inside of their New Kids on the Block pencil cases.  And, I'm sure that if our school allowed walkmans and ghetto blasters to be played in the hallway, we'd hear most of the girls at my school listening to the band on cassette tapes and compact discs.

Mind you, it wasn't just the third grade that NKOTB fever struck.  With the exception of the kindergarten aged kids (who were immersed in the song stylings of Raffi, or Eric Nagler), you'd be hard pressed to find one classroom that didn't have at least one major New Kids on the Block fan.

I still remember this one girl at my school who was in my third grade class.  I think her name was Lisa, or something like that.  I do know it started with an "L".  Anyway, I would classify her as being one of the biggest fans of the New Kids on the Block ever.  She had every accessory, and she had every single album (which granted, back in 1989, amounted to two), and she could often be found singing along to some of the band's singles both outside of class, and inside of class - which often got her into trouble in class by the teacher.  But hey, I suppose you couldn't fault her for it.  She did have a genuine love for the band, and she wanted to show her affection for them.

They certainly weren't the first boy band to exist, but they were far from being the last.  In fact, some might say that the band came around at the perfect time, as there really was nothing else like them at the time they struck it big.

Particularly with today's featured Sunday Jukebox track, which became the band's second #1 single.

ARTIST:  New Kids on the Block
SONG:  Hangin' Tough
ALBUM:  Hangin' Tough
DATE RELEASED:  July 3, 1989

Actually, "Hangin' Tough" could be a great way to describe the New Kids on the Block in general, for they've managed to stick together as a band off and on for the past twenty-eight years.  And despite some controversy, some solo efforts, and a dry spell that lasted nearly a decade and a half, the band seems to be gaining a new appreciation from a younger set of fans.

So, who are the New Kids on the Block?  Well, here they are as they appeared back in 1988 - the year that they released their sophomore disc "Hangin' Tough".

From left to right, we have Donnie Wahlberg, Jordan Knight, Joey McIntyre, Jonathan Knight, and Danny Wood.  And how they came to be known as the New Kids on the Block is an interesting story that takes place in the band's hometown of Boston, Massachusetts.

The year was 1984, and Maurice Starr had just severed ties with the R&B group that he helped create - a little band that called themselves "New Edition" - and he and his business partner Mary Alford were looking to repeat the same success.  The idea was to create another band similar to New Edition, only instead of using African-American singers, they would use Caucasian.

The first member recruited to the band was Donnie, who at fifteen had mad rapping skills and the ability to put on an energetic show.  And Donnie also managed to recruit at least three other members - brothers Jordan and Jonathan Knight (Donnie and Jordan were once classmates), as well as Danny Wood (who happened to be a childhood friend of Donnie's younger brother), who was also considered a candidate for the new band.

You may have heard of him.  A guy by the name of Mark Wahlberg.  He's a big-time movie actor now, but he almost became a New Kid!  But before the band could start recording, Mark decided not to stick with the band after all.  Of course, interestingly enough, Mark would briefly transform himself into Marky Mark, who along with his Funky Bunch would score a #1 hit in 1991 with "Good Vibrations".

But with Mark's departure came the search for a new fifth member.  It seemed as though the New Kids on the Block had found their fifth in Jamie Kelly, but Kelly was soon let go because the death of his father caused him to lose concentration and he lacked the motivation to stick with it.  It was then decided that the fifth member was to be considerably younger than the other members of the group, as Maurice Starr had felt that a member with a voice like Michael Jackson during the Jackson 5 era would be exactly what the band needed, so as a result, twelve year old Joey McIntyre made up the fifth and final member of the band - a move which Donnie, Jordan, Jonathan, and Danny disliked because they felt that Joey was brought on to replace their good friend. 

Luckily for Joey, the other four members soon got over it, and welcomed him into the fold with open arms just before the group released their 1986 self-titled album.  Unfortunately, the album was a failure on the charts, but Starr refused to give up on the band.  And the New Kids weren't about to give up on their dream of making it big on the pop charts that easily.

(And, I suppose that the group made a wise decision in calling themselves the New Kids on the Block.  Their original band name was "Nynuk"!)

The group returned to the recording studio in 1987 to record their second album - and this time they were doing it their own way.  Of course, Maurice Starr did ultimately have the final say, but the guys did input their own personal style to the songs and their general look - enough to warrant giving three of the five New Kids (Donnie, Jordan, and Danny) associate production credits.  When the first single from the album "Please Don't Go Girl" was released in the spring of 1988, it once again didn't seem to make much of an impression, and it appeared as though the New Kids on the Block were going to be dropped from Columbia Records roster.

But then it happened.  A little radio station in Florida started playing the record, and within a few weeks, it became the most requested song on their playlist.  This was enough for Columbia Records to not only keep the band on their roster, but the company took a chance and filmed a professional music video to promote the single.  That gamble paid off.  "Please Don't Go Girl" became the band's first Top 10 hit.

Two more singles from "Hangin' Tough" followed.  The danceable "You Got It (The Right Stuff)", and the ballad "I'll Be Loving You Forever" (which became the group's first #1 hit). 

The title track (which you've heard up above) was the group's fourth single, and in addition to topping the charts in the United States, it also peaked at #1 in both Ireland and the UK.  In fact, in the United Kingdom, "Hangin' Tough" was the first #1 hit of the 1990s!

The single was also prominently featured in the 1989 film "The Wizard", and was even covered by Alvin and the Chipmunks for their 1991 album "The Chipmunks Rock the House"!  Don't believe me?  Click HERE to listen to it!

And, I suppose that the song title (and album title for that matter) would be the best way to describe the New Kids on the Block, for they managed to endure quite a lot of things and yet still have found a way to stay relevant in the music world.

It's no secret that between 1988 and 1991, the New Kids on the Block were one of the most popular acts of that era.  They sold more than 80 million records worldwide, won a couple of American Music Awards in 1990, was nominated for a Grammy Award that same year, and saw their first nine singles reach the Top 10 on the Billboard Charts.  But right around mid-1991, the band's popularity began to fade amidst allegations that the band had lip-synched their live performances, and that other performers (namely Maurice Starr) had actually sang their vocals instead.  Keep in mind that these allegations were coming out right around the time that Milli Vanilli experienced their fall from grace after admitting exactly that they had not sang one note on their debut album. 

Of course, the band completely denied the allegations brought forth by Gregory McPherson, and issued a lawsuit against him in February 1992 - immediately after the band interrupted an Australian tour to fly back to Los Angeles to appear on "The Arsenio Hall Show" to prove that, yes, they could actually sing - though they did admit that Maurice Starr did sing on the disc via backing vocals.  But that hardly matched the level of scandal brought forth by Milli Vanilli.  And McPherson, who must have felt as if he had egg on his face, later recanted his allegations.

However, the damage had been done.  Their concerts were no longer must-see events, album sales dropped, and pop music was being phased out for the grunge movement of the early 1990s.  This prompted the band to split up following the release of their 1994 album "Face the Music".

That break up would last thirteen years. 

I imagine many people were absolutely gobsmacked by the news in late 2007 that the band had secretly gotten back together after thirteen years to record a brand new album of original songs.  And, I imagine that people were even more shocked that their first single in thirteen years actually cracked the Top 40!

ARTIST:  New Kids on the Block
SONG:  Summertime
ALBUM:  The Block
DATE RELEASED:  May 13, 2008

Okay, here's a confession.  I actually don't mind this song at all!

And in 2011, the band made history once more by joining forces with the Backstreet Boys and forming a supergroup known as NKOTBSB.  The two groups actually toured together during 2011 and 2012!  And, I suppose that the mix-up proved very successful as Jordan Knight and Nick Carter from the Backstreet Boys just released an album together two weeks ago under the group name "Nick & Knight".

Interestingly enough, many of the members of the New Kids had successes in their own right.  Donnie Wahlberg made a successful transition from singing to acting and has filmed several movies and television shows - currently appearing on CBS' "Blue Bloods".  Jordan Knight and Joey McIntyre have released solo albums which had moderate success, and Joey even appeared as a contestant on "Dancing With The Stars".  Danny Wood still performs on occasion, but now spends his time being a sales executive for Halcyon.  And Jonathan Knight has mostly stayed away from the entertainment business and went into real estate, and revealed that he was openly gay and had been living that way for over two decades.

But, you know - for a band to start off on top, hit rock bottom, and slowly climb their way back into relevancy - that's the very definition of "Hangin' Tough", I'd say.

And on October 9, 2014, the band will soon have a permanent reminder of their fame and success - that's when they will get their star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame!