15 July 2011

And now, for something completely different

If you come here to read my deep and insightful commentary on public education, step away from the computer, go for a walk, and don't come back for 10ish days, when I'll be back, and talking about something maybe vaguely educational.

Today, I'm going to talk about how TBS shaped who I am.

Not in any deep philisophical way. No, I had parents, and friends, and teachers, and the Midwest for that. Nope, TBS shaped what I listen to, what I want to drive, and what I find funny. These might not seem like deep things, but it goes to show how a small decision by somebody can have lasting impacts on people they might not even know. (There's probably something about teachers in that statement, so maybe we're getting some educational thought tonight after all).

You see, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, TBS (and WGN for that matter), often showed movies on Saturday afternoons. I often watched these movies. One that was in heavy rotation was the Greatest Movie Ever Made . (Don't be lazy. Click the link. I'll wait.)

Oh that's right. The Blues Brothers. Belushi. Aykroyd. John Lee Hooker. Cab Calloway. Ray-Freaking-Charles.

The movie is about 3 things, really. And those three things (well two of them anyway) really shaped what I enjoy, and what I enjoy has thus shaped my life. Let's investigate, shall we?

Things The Blues Brothers is about:

1. Cars - Dan Aykroyd actually thought that the movie was a musical about a car guy. There's one of the all time great chase scenes (or three) in this film. Now, you can't blame all of my love of cars on The Blues Brothers. My first word was "car", for goodness' sake. However, this movie did reignite my love of the automobile. My love of the automobile led me to learn how to perform at least simple repairs on cars / trucks. Now, I work at a summer camp, and one of my duties is inspection and care for our vehicles. Thanks, Jake and Elwood!

2. The Blues - This movie is really a musical where all of the songs are R & B songs. It exposed me to Sam and Dave, John Lee Hooker and that big brass sound of Chicago Blues. I learned to play an instrument for two reasons. The first was that my Dad had a ceramic tuba player on the shelf in the living room. The second was The Blues Brothers. I met my wife because I played an instrument. Thanks again, Joliet Jake and Elwood!

3. Hating Authority (and Nazis) - Ok, I actually represent authority, but I do hate Nazis. Still, the idea that there were Nazis in America must have had some impact on my studying History, right?

So, obviously the guys at TBS and WGN who programed this movie in heavy rotation in the early 90's changed my life. Why do you care? Aha, because there are other lessons from The Blues Brothers that can be applied to everyone's life. What are they, you ask? Let's examine them:

A. Get the band back together. Really, when haven't you enjoyed getting back together with a group of friends from "back in the day"?

B. Have a mission in life. You need purpose, you need something to quest after. You need a mission. Sure, Jake and Elwood were not right with the Law. But they had a mission, and it was a larger quest. If you can find something, some mission to guide you, your life will have meaning. If your life has meaning, then you will feel fulfilled by it.

C. Shake a Tail Feather. You need to get up and get some physical activity every once in a while. America is the fattest nation on Earth. Crying about it isn't going to solve the problem. You can be part of the solution. The easiest way? Take Ray's advice, and shake a tail-feather

D. Stand By Your Man. You need to find someone who you love, and you need to stick with them. Companionship isn't always easy, but it makes life worthwhile. And remember, ladies, we're just a man.

E. Your actions when young follow you . Let's think about this. Many of you are just out of high school. You think that going to college is a fresh start. In many ways, it is. However, all the people you knew growing up aren't going to forget who you are. Even the Blues Brothers, in their altruistic mission, are judged by what they used to be. Don't think that mistakes made in youth will not follow you. They probably will. The solution? Think before you act and make less mistakes.

F. Appreciate Art What makes man better than beast? That we love and create art. Take some time to enjoy really fine art. Step away from the current crap and take a day looking and listening to the classics.

G. Have good table manners This is just like one of those "Everything I need to know I learned in kindergarten" posters. The better your manners, the better opinions of you people who you meet over meals (like bosses and in-laws) will have.

H. Glue is strong stuff Ok, this is a gratuitous link to a line that I think is funny. No life lesson there.

I. Have a good horn section If you don't know the movie, this tune is performed in jail by the band. There's a lesson. They all seem to be having a good time. If you can make it happen, have a good horn section, because a good horn section makes life better

And now, to make you giggle a little, and to show how much I loved love The Blues Brothers, a picture of me in high school:

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