You got to love exchange students. With apologies to Shannon Elizabeth, Wilder Valderrama, and the great Sean Sung who gets unfairly shafted in this countdown, the best exchange student I have had the pleasure of cultural exchange with was Piotr from Poland
Piotr was a great guy. His host family had about 6 little kids, and by all accounts he instantly became the quintessential big brother. They all ran up to him and climbed all over him whenever he came home. He hugged them and took care of them, and when they fought each other, he would sternly and yet lovingly rebuke them in the way only a person with a strong Eastern European accent can. Think Bela Karolyi, only young and thin. (Wow, Bela Karolyi, that's quite the obscure dated reference. I might as well bring up Kerri Strug too, just so that I can mention she is the half-sister of Kathy Ireland. Did that for you Von! And I might as well mention my brief crush on Shannon Miller whom the Spanish dubbed "The Porcelain Princess." Kim Zmeskal anyone? I am so very old.)
Way to much has already been said about Seinfeld, so I will not even bother to introduce it.
I went o basketball camp a lot as a kid. One of those camps is called NBC camps, which I assume stands for Northwest Basketball Camps, uhm, camps.
Many 14 year old boys sleep with posters on the ceiling above their beds. Generally these posters are of celebrity models or entertainers. From Farrah Fawcett in the 70’s to Paula Abdul in the 80’s. Cindy Crawford, Pam Anderson, and my boy Von’s favorite Kathy Ireland , were popular choices. I did rock Britney Spears and Tyra Banks on my walls. But I had Shawn Kemp dunking in the poster that was the last thing I saw before I went to sleep each night. I wanted to dream of catching lob passes and throwing down in someone’s face.
The 40 greatest Influences of the last 40 years is a weekly countdown to my 40th Birthday in which I wax poetic about the people places and things that have shaped me into, for better or worse, the man I am today.
Today’s great influence is......
Previously In the countdown I mentioned that my best friend growing #37 Casey Richard, had switched schools for a while. He left in the spring of 8th grade and came back at the beginning of our sophomore year. It was kind of weird how Casey left. His mom was at school and she literally just took him out of class early that day. He and I barely even spoke about it. He was suddenly gone and I needed a new best friend. Finding a best friend can be a long process. Trust has to be earned and rapport developed slowly. Let me tell you what I did to find a new best friend. I walked into the hallway outside Mr Scheel’s class where all the 8th grade lockers were located. I ran through a quick list of criteria.
Has to be funny.
Must play basketball.
Needs a best friend too.
I then surveyed the rest of the eighth grade students all rushing to change books at their lockers. And even if the criteria hadn’t fit so exquisitely perfect, it still would have seemed blatantly obvious as he was the biggest guy in the class, maybe even the whole school at that point. I immediately walked up to my new best friend for next 2 and a half years. His name was Chris Hanson.
Previously I extolled the virtue of black music at #32 on the count down. In that post I described rap and hip hop music as embodying a mentality of Arrogance in the face of oppression. That is an appropriate sentiment regarding racial relations in this country for black Americans, but it is also a very relatable sentiment to teenagers of all races because all teenagers feel oppressed by society, and high school, and the legal drinking age etc. I also referenced Rock and Roll music as being about freedom, fast cars, fast women, and the open road. Somewhere in between, these two musical genres spawned a musical movement that never really got a proper genre label, and was housed in the Rock Alternative Radio air space next to Emo and Screamo bands. I am stealing Weird Al Yankovic’s Angry white boy Polka song as inspiration and just calling it angry white boy music.
40 Greatest Influences of the last 40 years #24 The 3rd Triumvirate aka Ben Stull/ Brad Willcuts/Chris Kinman
Today is Ben Stull’s birthday. Unfortunately he isn’t here to celebrate it with us as he passed away a few years back. Going to his funeral a few years back was one of the most surreal and sobering moments of my life. Ben was a good friend and a great person. His birthday seems a fitting day to reflect on him and the close friends he and I shared.
The first time I saw Adam Sandler was actually on that one show about the Huxtable family. He played one of Theo’s friends and I don’t think he had any lines. I didn’t know it was him for years. Somehow got a glorified extra spot on TV’s number one show And did what he did best, make funny faces and act kind kind of awkward trying not to laugh. He was mildly off putting and endearing all at once. That pretty much describes all of his early stand up too. There was kind of a “oh good for him” type of pity to his success. Like Mel Torme’s enthusiasm for Kramer on that episode of Seinfeld when Cosmo accidentally crashed a fundraiser for the handicapped.
40 Greatest Influences of the last 40 years #26 Josh Wolfram/ JC Biagi/ Matt Harri Aka the 2nd Triumvirate
So in my 3 hour ramble about school and teachers, I almost mentioned a conspiracy theory about Mrs Richard and I thought better if it. But today I will tell you that conspiracy theory.
Long story short: I ran for ASB president in high school and Lost.
I know I know, sour grapes right? The loser of an election always claims voter fraud conspiracies (well not always, but it has happened before and it’s definitely going to happen again this year). But to understand my conspiracy suspicions you have to know who I am (or was) and who the other candidates were. And with apologies to Matthew Broderick and Reece Witherspoon, I am going to re-duex the plot of Election which incredibly came out the exact year that this story happened.
In the extremely remote case that anyone reading this was born in this century and doesn’t know, TGIF (Thank God It’s Friday) was a block of family friendly programming on Friday evenings on the ABC television network.
Having grown up in a family of 4 kids born in the 80’s and early 90’s, this was pretty much mandatory viewing. All the shows depicted families of various types dealing with the situations that all families do. I think the block ran until the early 2000s. But I stopped watching around 1995 for very specific reasons I will get to in a moment.