The Best Years Of My Life: A Retrospective

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As I reach what could be considered my “mid-life” point (40), I have been taking stock of my life and doing a lot of reminiscing.  And the more that I think about it, the more I can say, without hesitation, that three years of my life stand out above all others:  1983, 1995 and 2010.  In those years, I turned six, 18 and 33, respectively.

1983

Naturally, 1983 is the most difficult to fully put into perspective, on the basis of the fact that I was six.  But, I can clearly remember some aspects of that year.  I “graduated” from Kindergarten and started first grade.  The most important happening that year took place in the summer, when I discovered He-Man and the Masters Of The Universe.  I saw the cartoon on TV and immediately needed to go to the store to find the action figures, which I saw during commercials.  I can remember this vividly.  Mom and dad took me to a local store and I got the Skeletor figure, though I wanted the He-Man figure, but it was not in stock.  In fact, it would be several months before I finally found a He-Man figure.  But I would spend the following six years as a fan of the franchise, and now I own the entire series on DVD in a limited-edition, numbered boxed set.

I was also a huge fan of The Lone Ranger and The Dukes Of Hazzard.  The Lone Ranger had a momentary resurgence of popularity in the early 1980s due to the release of the film “The Legend Of The Lone Ranger,” released in May, 1981.  The release of the film lead to the old 1950’s TV series seeing air again, as well as the release of an animated series, both of which I remember well.  I can remember going to the store and getting caps for my cap guns and plastic Lone Rangers masks.

The Dukes were another matter entirely.  I was completely obsessed with the Dukes in 1983.  I couldn’t wait for Friday nights.  And then Saturday mornings, when The Dukes, an animated version of the show, was airing.  I had Dukes action figures, posters, cars, play-sets, shirts, pajamas, lunchboxes.  You name it, I had it.

I now own a limited-edition boxed set of The Lone Ranger, which was released in 2013 to coincide with the release of “The Lone Ranger,” a Disney film that was a box office bomb, which lead to the boxed set being pulled from shelves sooner than expected.  I also own the complete Dukes Of Hazzard series, and films, on DVD.

I got my first bike in 1983, for my birthday.  It was, surprisingly enough, a Dukes Of Hazzard bike.  The good news was, I had a new bike.  The bad news was, I had to ride that bike for the next six years, because I didn’t get another bike until I turned 12, and my Dukes bike was so small it barely held me anymore.

I also got my first “personal” TV in 1983.  It was a 13″ color TV with wood-grain housing and no remote, because it had knobs as opposed to buttons.  I got years of usage out of that TV, in fact, I still had it in the late 2000s, when I went HD.

Kindergarten was great, I have nothing but good memories of it.  First grade, not so much but nothing bad.  I would have many betters years in school.

I went on vacation in 1983 with my family and we visited one of mom’s friends who lives in Michigan.  She had the coolest electronic gadget:  A VCR.  I can clearly remember being amazed at the concept of putting a tape in this machine and then watching a movie.  With no commercials and to watch at any time, and stop at any time.  We got home from vacation and went straight to the Magnavox dealer and bought one.

1995

Naturally, what stands out here is high school graduation and starting to college.  I enjoyed high school immensely.  At the time, I was happy in all facets of my life.  And I was looking forward to getting out of high school and moving on.

My home life was great, my love life was great, my academic life was great.  My two obsessions at the time were playing Tecmo Super Bowl on the Nintendo and collecting AC/DC albums on cassette.  I had gotten Tecmo a couple of years previously but my playing really hit its peak in 1995.  I played seven consecutive seasons with the Cleveland Browns, winning three Super Bowls.  And one of my fondest Tecmo memories was an all-night season my friend Joe Nunez and I played, he with the Cleveland Browns and myself with the New Orleans Saints.  We still mention it to this day.

I had been collecting AC/DC albums since 1993 but in 1994 Atlantic Records re-released the band’s first 11 albums, digitally remastered.  So I kind of had to “start over” to an extent.  Then, in September, they released their first new studio album in five years, “Ballbreaker.”  I played the cassette completely out in no time.

One of my favorite memories of 1995 was my TV show collections.  In June, I started taping Three’s Company every day, as two episodes were shown on TBS every morning.  Later that year, in December, I started taping Perry Mason.  I watched those tapes until they were so worn out the sound was pretty much gone and the picture was quite snowy.  I have replaced both with complete series DVD sets over the years.

I was such a fan of these two shows that I wired my TV through my stereo and recorded the soundtrack from episodes of each show onto cassette to listen to in bed or while I was driving.  When I started to college, I would take a cassette with two episodes of Three’s Company on one side and a single episode of Perry Mason on the other.

I LOVED college.  It was the happiest era of my life, bar none.  Life was constantly in motion and I couldn’t wait to get to each and every day.  Couldn’t wait to get up and go to class.  Couldn’t wait for class to be over so I could go home and watch that day’s Three’s Company and Perry Mason episodes.  Couldn’t wait to play Tecmo Super Bowl after dinner.  Couldn’t wait to go to bed and do it all again the next day.

What’s odd is that as soon as 1996 turned over, everything went downhill and 1996 will forever be known as the second-worst year of my life, after 2017.  My girlfriend and I split, my best friend at college just up and quit without a word, my parents lost their jobs when the company they worked for closed the plant they worked at.

But 1995 was absolutely exceptional from the beginning to the end.

2010

Wow.  What can I say about 2010.  I had one obsession in 2010.  Girls.  All girls, all the time.  I had two or three dates every weekend, sometimes two in one night.  At times, it might just be a girl coming over to watch TV.  Sometimes it was a legit dinner-and-a-movie date.  Sometimes it was a straight hook-up.  Sometimes it was a platonic dinner.  Sometimes it was all of the above.  Whatever it was, it was great.

I was made to be single.  This is the life I would choose if I had a choice.  As Benny Hill said, “why make one woman miserable when you can make so many so happy?”  And in 2010, I did my best to make as many women happy as I could.

The only thing that stands out to be in 2010 as far as entertainment goes is that I discovered The Rifleman, and bought a bootleg DVD set on eBay.  And yes, I had a girl over to watch a few episodes of the series after it arrived in the mail.

Speaking of bootleg DVDs, I also found a guy selling a set of Marvel Comics animated shows that were produced in the 1960s, based on the actual comic art.  These programs are well known among Marvel fans but they have never been released on DVD in the United States, though a European release does exist.  So I found a seller who had gotten a hold of the European DVDs and burned them, quite professionally, onto Region 1 DVDs.  We negotiated a price and I was thrilled to get those in my collection.

My average 2010 week was spent at work during weekdays and in the pool every evening, blasting AC/DC and watching the sun set behind the house.  Then on the weekends it was restaurants, movies, shopping and girls, girls, girls.

The only bad thing about 2010 is the way it ended, the last six weeks of the year were nothing like the first 46, which included a broken ankle and several months spent in a walking boot.  But I won’t let that stain the year, overall.

EPILOGUE

I have said on many occasions I would not trade my life for anything or to anyone.  I have had the most enjoyable life, with so few exceptions, and the memories are priceless.  And 1983 (childhood), 1995 (teenage years) and 2010 (adult years) are the pinnacle of each era of my life.  I’m hoping that 2018 will measure up in some way to these three years from my past, and so far, its doing pretty well.

Peace, and God bless.

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Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue: My Top Ten Favorite Covers Of All Time

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With the countdown on to the release of the 2018 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, which will be released in February, I have decided to do a countdown of my Top Ten favorite SI Swimsuit Issue covers.  Which should warm up a cold January evening.

10.  HAILEY CLAUSON, 2016
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This was one of three available covers in 2016, the other two featuring Ashley Graham and Ronda Rousey, respectively.

9.  KATE UPTON, 2013
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8.  ELLE MACPHERSON, 1988
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7.  IRINA SHAYK, 2011
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6.  KATE UPTON, 2017
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There were three Kate Upton covers in 2017

5.  KATHY IRELAND, 1992
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4.  BAR REFAELI, 2009
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3.  TYRA BANKS, 1997
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2.  KATE UPTON, 2012
SWIMSUIT 2012 COVER
Kate Upton’s first year as cover model.

1.  HANNAH DAVIS, 2015
America The Beautiful: Swimsuit Issue 2015
Now known as Mrs. Derek Jeter.

The Hannah Davis (Jeter) cover sticks in my mind because, when I got back to the Jeep with it after getting it out of my post office box, I was so flummoxed I couldn’t figure out how to start the Jeep.  Without question, my all-time favorite cover.  No contest.

We now await the 2018 cover, but it will be hard-pressed to compete with this one.

Peace.

My Top Five Favorite… EVERYTHING…

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Submitted for your approval, I present my top five favorite…  EVERYTHING.  This will be several different lists of my top five favorite things.  Shaking things up a bit.  These will be in no particular order, and in fact, the actual top five will be in no particular order, either.  Just five of my favorite things from each of the selected categories.  Enjoy.

FAVORITE MOVIES
Major League
The Big Lebowski
Back To The Future
First Blood
Raiders Of The Lost Ark

FAVORITE BOOKS
The Art Of The Deal
KISS And Make Up
Dogbert’s Top Secret Management Handbook
The Catcher In The Rye
Moneyball

FAVORITE COLORS
Black
Blue
Silver
White
Gray

FAVORITE ACTORS
Brad Pitt
Joseph Cotten
Gene Wilder
Harrison Ford
John Wayne

FAVORITE ACTRESSES
Sharon Stone
Uma Thurman
Julie Newmar
Kim Novak
Grace Kelly

FAVORITE SUPERHEROES
Batman
Superman
Captain America
Spider-Man
Wonder Woman

FAVORITE VILLAINS
The Joker
The Red Skull
Lex Luthor
The Penguin
Mandarin

FAVORITE FRUIT
Pineapple
Apple
Banana
Grape
Watermelon

FAVORITE VEGETABLE
Corn
Potatoes
Green Peppers
Tomatoes
Hot Peppers

FAVORITE ICE CREAM FLAVORS
Rocky Road
Chocolate
Neapolitan
French Vanilla
Coffee

FAVORITE MOVIE CHARACTERS
Ricky Vaughn (Major League)
Sam McCord (North To Alaska)
Marty McFly (Back To The Future)
Catherine Tramell (Basic Instinct…  Hey, that’s what got me through puberty)
John Rambo (First Blood)

FAVORITE TV CHARACTERS
Jack Tripper (Three’s Company)
Perry Mason
Tod Stiles (Route 66)
Paladin (Have Gun – Will Travel)
Captain Kirk (Star Trek)

FAVORITE TV SHOWS
The Lone Ranger
Star Trek
Three’s Company
Route 66
Perry Mason

FAVORITE CANDY
Snickers
Whatchamacallit
Rolo
M&M’s
Hershey With Almonds

FAVORITE RESTAURANTS
Denny’s
LongHorn Steakhouse
Chili’s
McDonald’s
Ryan’s

FAVORITE MUSICAL ARTISTS
Megadeth
AC/DC
The Beatles
Hank Williams, Sr.
Judas Priest

FAVORITE WEBSITES
Facebook
Twitter
iFunny
Wikipedia
YouTube

FAVORITE SONGS
“Angry Again” by Megadeth
“Jambalaya” by Hank Williams Sr.
“Highway To Hell” by AC/DC
“Return To Sender” by Elvis Presley
“Tight Fittin’ Jeans” by Conway Twitty

FAVORITE VIDEO GAMES
Batman Arkham Series for PS3 and PS4
MLB The Show
Hitman Series for PS2 and PS3
Tetris for the NES
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III:  The Manhattan Project for the NES

FAVORITE BOARD GAMES
Monopoly
Life
Chess
Scrabble
Yahtzee (which doesn’t technically have a “board” but it makes the list anyway)

FAVORITE SPORTS
Major League Baseball
Minor League Baseball
NCAA Baseball

FAVORITE BASEBALL PLAYERS (ALL-TIME)
Frank Thomas
Bo Jackson
Jose Abreu
Lenny Dykstra
Scott Podsednik

FAVORITE YEARS OF YOUR LIFE
2010
1995
1987
2000
1998

FAVORITE SUBJECTS FROM HIGH SCHOOL AND/OR COLLEGE
History (high school)
Journalism (high school)
Criminal Law (college)
Business Law (college)
American Civics (high school)

FAVORITE CITIES
Chicago
Pittsburgh
Phoenix
Las Vegas
Los Angeles

FAVORITE BEVERAGES
Coca-Cola
Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7
Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey
Folgers Black Silk coffee
Ocean Spray Cran-Grape Juice

FAVORITE CEREAL
Fruity Pebbles
Cap’n Crunch
Oreo O’s
Cocoa Pebbles
Apple Jacks

FAVORITE CARTOONS
Looney Tunes
South Park
Beavis and Butt-Head
Transformers (the original 1980s cartoon)
Scooby Doo

So, to quote Julie Andrews, these are a few of my favorite things.

Peace.