Cheer Du Jour

A little cheer to forget your troubles, and better yet, to toast with a glass of bubbles!

Aug 1 – Happy Birthday MTV!

The rocket launched 32 years ago today, playing The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star” as its first video (click here to see Wikipedia’s list of the first 206 videos played, for you super trivia buffs). The original VJs included: Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, Alan Hunter, J.J. Jackson, Martha Quinn.

Somehow, I survived the epic bummer that cable tv was not available in my hometown yet (and wouldn’t be for some time to come). I had to wait until 1986 to get my MTV. Because of this channel, I developed a temporary bout of insomnia, staying up til all hours watching videos. There was the occasional tv show (The Young Ones – I never missed an episode!), which seemed so strange on a music tv station.

It is interesting to look back at how newspapers heralded the arrival of a concept that would change the face of pop culture (and itself be so completely changed by 2013 that videos are the rarity on the schedule).

In a New York Times article from 7/26/81, Kenneth Gilpin reported that the “video disco channel” was initially expected to “beam into a million homes” during its freshman year. A month before its launch, MTV already had 2.1M subscribers (a single MTV posting showed over 46M likes on FaceBook today!). Despite “television technology used today is not yet capable of recreating high-quality sound”, success was predicted in harnessing the youth market.

This would be accomplished, according to Philip Dougherty’s 6/19/81 NY Times article, by targeting “the big kids, the kind that get turned on by the big rock sound and the weird assemblages that make it.” (…and that was decades before Jersey Shore!). In case you are wondering how much this golden opportunity to advertise might have cost back in the day, Dougherty reported that 30-second units were priced from $400 to $1,200.

Of course, Duran Duran’s influence on the fledgling channel can’t be understated. From, the timeline notes in 1981: “Before leaving America, Duran Duran visit with MTV, who had a staff of 16 people at the time. They discuss airing their videos and future programming ideas.” To continue the theme, click here to see the “Too Much Information” video.

..and this post wouldn’t be complete without Dire Straits’ classic MTV ditty:

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July 27 – Happy Birthday, Bugs Bunny!


Bugs Bunny

What’s Up Doc? Happy Birthday, Bugs! After his debut in “A Wild Hare” in 1940, Bugs has survived 73 years of “wabbit hunting season”. Already a 24-carrot star in the 40’s, Bugs hopped into the hearts of Saturday morning tv audiences starting in 1962.

Remember when we watched cartoons all morning? I am still amazed to see infomercials during the time that used to be dedicated to animation…replacing the likes of Scooby Doo (my favorite!!), Smurfs (before they were mutated into the recent film versions), Super Friends, the Real Ghostbusters, and Pee-wee Herman, to name a few. Click here to see the Saturday morning tv lineups of the 80’s.

Cheers to the wascly wabbit! You don’t look a hare over 21!



The first on-screen appearance of Bugs Bunny, ...

Bugs Bunny's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.




July 13 – Happy 90th Birthday Hollywood(land) Sign

The Hollywood Sign, shot from an aircraft at about 1,500' MSL. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I learned from Parade Magazine recently that 7/13 is the 90th birthday of the famous Hollywood Sign. From the article, I also learned that the sign originally spelled out Hollywoodland, advertising a housing development. It wasn’t until 1949 that the name shrunk to today’s icon. An astute commenter to the posting reminded readers that the Rocketeer film addresses the sign’s truncation. Click here to watch the ending, when “land” goes up in flames (keep in mind that the special effects are from 1991).

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Happy Birthday Simon Le Bon!

Happy Birthday to my very favourite singer and lyricist, not to mention book reviewer extraordinaire, Simon Le Bon. I won’t dwell on the sordid topic of age, and will try my best to make you believe that I was only three when I became a Durannie. For fellow enthusiasts, I’ll turn the clock back to 1985 with some of the Duran Duran trading cards I still keep stashed in a drawer.

Flip side of one of the cards

Shirtless Simon the Sailor

Shaken, Not Stirred

Classic Dance Pose

Love the Frosted Tips!


We fans have been accused of being, well, a bit obsessive. I have observed a few who are a bit, shall we say, intense…e.g. those who know what brand cereal the band members eat (how this was discovered, I shudder to think), the band’s preferred hotel in each city, and the precise mood of Simon at every backstage meet & greet. For my part, I must admit that I have purchased every album (including the special collections) they’ve released, and attended more concerts than I can count. My husband was a bit worried about the level of my devotion during their concerts at the House of Blues. We ate at the restaurant to get into the premium line, and stood in that line for hours before racing to get as close to the stage as possible, then standing another hour before the lights went down. We repeated that ritual for almost every night they played at HOB (which amounted to quite a few amazing nights!). At least now that I’m ever so slightly over 21, I could enjoy a glass of wine while waiting. I found a few snaps I took (from a disposable camera – remember those?) from one of the HOB concerts – I believe it was in 2001.

Simon Singing one of his Silky Ballads

After my Dash to the Very Front Row

Trouser Wowser

Encore – Note my lovely special “bracelet” clashing with my pink nails

For all the pleasure (meaning music and book recommendations, of course–what were you thinking??) you have brought to us, THANK YOU! Enjoy a very happy 30thish birthday!! This glass (ok, maybe bottle) of bubbly is for you.

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October 21st – Birthdays, Death Day, Vote Day and Happy Apple Day (plus a gratuitous shot of a semi-nude man!)

Today makes up for a rather lackluster holiday weekend. October 21st is Apple Day, a tradition begun in 1990 by Common Ground, as “an annual celebration of apple, orchards and local distinctiveness”. The apple (seasonal poetic license for acorn) doesn’t fall far from the tree, and echoes Common Ground’s mission, which “is internationally recognised for playing a unique role in the arts and environmental fields, distinguished by the linking of nature with culture, focussing upon the positive investment people can make in their own localities, championing popular democratic involvement, and by inspiring celebration as a starting point for action to improve the quality of our everyday places.” See for details, and have a caramel apple to celebrate.

According to the Chicago Tribune, several notable icons were born on this day in history. Dizzy Gillespie was born today (in 1917) in Cheraw, South Carolina, destined to be one of the great jazz musicians of all time, Alfred Nobel (in 1833) was born, in Stockholm, Sweden, to a life that would include the invention of dynamite and the establishment of the Nobel prize, and the opening day of the Gugenheim Museum in New York (in 1959).

October 21, 1945 brought the vote to women in France for the first time, also according to the Tribune. That makes me feel slightly better about our country’s finally granting the vote to women a quarter of a century earlier – how progressive we were! Excuse the snark – issues of equality really bother me. For instance, it is unbelievable to me that gender still determines the right to marriage in 2012. I can only hope that a generation or two after mine will shake their heads, when they read of the anniversary of marriage equality in 2013 (dare to dream!).

This is a site dedicated to happy news, though, so I will end with a death. Ok, death is not usually a happy event (except for….), but it brings about a happy event in a train of thought that can only happen in my chaotic train yard. In 1805, Admiral Horatio Nelson and his fleet defeated a French-Spanish fleet in the Battle of Trafalgar. Unfortunately, Nelson was killed (both of these facts are due to the hard-working editors of the Chicago Tribune’s Almanac). If you have ever been to London, no doubt you have spent some time gazing into the beautiful pools of Trafalgar Square, where Lord Nelson commands fleets of pigeons and tourists from high atop his marble perch. Trafalgar Square has a special place in my heart, having spent much time there during my first trip to London. It is an important location to two of the characters in my novel (still looking for a publisher, but I hope to have news soon!), and is the source of today’s toast-worthy video.

First, though a bit of back story. My husband and I were in London this past August (enjoying the Olympic spirit, though we never actually got event tickets). After touring the National Gallery (do NOT miss this when in London!), we headed back through Trafalgar Square. Olympic mascots guarded clocks that counted down to the games (in this case, to the Paralympics), and we walked down to the glistening water. In my defense, I should note that my husband had pointed out a large, antique statue that was being pulled on a trailer, and stuck in traffic. As my gaze was directed toward the street, a man wearing nothing but an itty-bitty swimsuit, pink swim cap and goggles walked right in front of us. Luckily, I have an observant spouse, who grabbed my arm and pointed out the swimmer. The semi-nude, rather chiseled man, promptly hopped into the water and swam across the shallow pool. I couldn’t believe it! Even if we had been in Chicago, that would have raised an eyebrow, but this was England! We snapped a quick photo (see below) to capture the memory in case our minds (or better sense) denied it later. Today, I finally took a moment to look on YouTube (because everything is on YouTube) and found the video of the event. I learned that the swimmer was actually Olympian swimmer Richard Head, and was surprised to see that we were featured in the video, directly in the swimmer’s path. How I missed him initially, I couldn’t say. For all of you who appreciate (ahem) an athletic build – I mean performance, please see:

Richard, I toast this glass of sparkling wine (because I can’t quite afford the real thing…yet) to you. Thanks for providing a great memory…and for not splashing us!

The Great Trafalgar Swim!

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