I must first apologize to my readership, who have learned to not expect sports editorials here. It wasn't something I expected to be doing, but when an old friend has been sick for a long time, and then a black-hearted assassin masquerading as his physician gives him another dose of the poison that is killing him, it is the duty of anyone and everyone who cares about the victim to expose the vile deed by any means at his disposal. This is mine. Your assassination may succeed, Mr. Spanos, but it will not be accomplished in the comfort of the shadows.
Now, back to being the Hideout that you all come here for. First, let me take a moment to welcome Peter S. to the Hideout. Peter runs KyusiReader out of Manila, in the Philippine Islands. He reviews books, and is a voracious reader, having read 111 books during 2011 that run the range from two Chick Lit entries to 38 Young Adult. He has covered twelve Childrens' Books, nineteen Classics, and 26 Contemporary works. Eight Graphic Novels have borne his scrutiny along with five Memoirs, two works of Gay literature, and two Nobel Prize winners, so if you're in the market for a book, and would like a little help wading through the sea of offerings at your local bibliotech, check in with Peter. You're sure to find a suggestion there, and he's friendly to boot, replying to every comment offered. Heck, I posted a comment, and he joined my blog! He's a great resource, and every dedicated reader should have him "favorited."
Welcome also to Joe, who runs the 70s Child blog out of upstate New York. This is a pure nostalgia site dedicated, as you might expect, to the 70s, and Joe is a fun guy who talks to everybody who stops by; that may explain why he has a lot of followers. Youngsters who are curious about this era should pay him a visit, and if you actually lived it, it will speak to you in some very special ways. Good guy, good site. Get over there and pay him a visit... After you're through here, of course!
Looking back at 2011, we see a fun first year for the Hideout. I brought this blog to the public on April Fools' Day (and hold the wisecracks!) to have a place to post things that didn't "fit" into the The Tyler Gang's format. It became my go-to site for almost everything, and as Nine and Bonnie had headed out in their own directions as well, we unanimously decided to stop posting on The Tyler Gang altogether, and go our own ways. That doesn't mean we don't support each other. We simply look at life from such different perspectives that putting them all on one site was confusing, even to us. Now, whether you like Bonnie's gentle nurturing, my sarcastic wit, or Nine's tales of the pre-teen hooligans, you can find it all in one place. We left The Tyler Gang active because it pulls in a lot of visitors; something with the name, I suspect, but hopefully, some of them will follow the links to our current sites. This being the new year, anyone still following The Tyler Gang (Carlin; Cesar; Robert A.) should take a moment to update to the new site of whoever he or she found interesting over there, as no new material is being added there, and won't be any more. Also, Carlin, as honored as we are to have been listed among Nerd Lunch's recommended links, you may want to drop The Tyler Gang, as that blog is essentially dead.
My big discovery of 2011 is a delightful young French woman named Rachelle Plas. I can find out very little about her, unfortunately. I read during my search that she is 17 years old; probably 18 by now. In 2010, she won the silver medal in the World Judo Tournament. That's pretty impressive, but of much more interest to me is the fact that she plays the harmonica like she invented it! If she has an album out, I can't locate it. She plays clubs and blues festivals around western Europe, and has appeared on stage with some great performers. You may be listening to her right now, because I feature one of her songs on my player, Mellow Down Easy, which is about as inaccurate a name as I have ever heard. She has quite a presence on YouTube. Enter "Rachelle Plas Judo" in the search engine to see her fight, or "Rachelle Plas Harmonica" to hear her play. Both are fabulous treats, especially her harmonica work. She performs in a wide range of styles, one of which is blues, and when she sings, her voice evokes Janis Joplin. She fronts a four-member combo, drums, bass, and guitar, and I will say this without the slightest hesitancy: I grew up attending live performances by Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Kiss, Rush, Ten Years After in their prime, and I have not heard a band bring down the house like this since those days. Rachelle, if by chance you "Google" yourself, and somehow find this humble site, please, please drop me a comment and tell me how to get more of your fabulous music; I'm in love!
There is, of course, always a bit of sadness involved in looking back, and this venue claims no exception. Two sites that I have recommended since I first encountered them have lost that distinction. I have been a follower of McKay Art for almost a year. The person I first encountered was a high-school girl with an absolute God-given gift to take breathtaking photos and present them in a quality showcase of her own making. Alas, she has made some life choices that perhaps have not turned out the way she would have hoped, and I haven't seen any photography work on her site (with a single exception) in over six months. I wanted to share her skill with everyone I know, but she is no longer choosing to display it, and therefore, sadly, I have removed my recommendation. I will continue to follow her, in hopes that that delightful young lady returns to the fore, and the first time I see one of her spectacular photo spreads up on the blog, I will cheerfully alert everyone! The Muse of Doom is another engaging lady of indeterminate age. I encountered her when we both made comments on a Nerd Lunch posting. We exchanged a series of delightfully witty, bitingly sarcastic e-mails, I joined her site, she joined mine, and I had hopes that this relationship would blossom into a long-distance sarcasm-fest that would put the Hitler-Chamberlain negotiations to shame. Unfortunately, there has been no further contact after that initial flurry, and her website hasn't been updated since November of 2010. This isn't the first woman I've had this effect on, but her wit is infectious, and very much worth engaging, and while I have removed the recommendation that leads only to a dormant site, I will remain her follower, like the spurned suitor waiting by the balcony, and should she start posting again, I will shout it from the rooftop... of the Hideout, of course!
Of course, no first-post-of-the-year is complete without the inevitable, and dreaded "Look Back." No, I'm not going to look back at 2011. I figure if you're old enough to read this, you were probably present for the events of last year. No, I'm going to look back at a year from the past. You can treat this like a contest if you wish, though there aren't any prizes; the less clues you need before you guess the year, the better your memory of bygone days. Or, you can just read and enjoy. The answer is given in the comment section. So, here are the clues:
1. Saddam Hussein orders the Iraqi invasion of neighboring Kuwait.
2. Space shuttle Discovery places Hubble telescope in orbit.
3. The Sci/Fi Channel begins broadcasting.
4. Home Alone comes to theaters.
5. Janet Jackson has a hit with "Black Cat."
6. Lech Walesa becomes president of Poland.
7. The first modern web page is written.
8. Twin Peaks premiers on ABC.
9. Ghost comes to theaters.
10. Jon Bon Jovi has a hit with "Blaze of Glory."
If you know by now, you must have been there!
11. The Saturn is launched by General Motors.
12. Microsoft releases Windows 3.0.
13. Pop duo Milli Vanilli outed for lip-syncing Grammy-winning song.
14. Dances With Wolves comes to theaters.
15. Electronic music band Depeche Mode forms.
16. "Sue," the most complete T-Rex skeleton ever found is discovered in South Dakota.
17. Earthquake in Iran kills 50,000 people.
18. A 16 megabit chip is shown for the first time.
19. Pretty Woman comes to theaters.
20. The Blues Brothers make music charts.
You could be a little older, if you need this many clues!
21. The Simpsons airs on Fox for the first time.
22. The U. S. enters a major recession.
23. The first known case of AIDS is traced back to 1959.
24. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comes to theaters.
25. Garth Brooks is major star in country music.
26. Nelson Mandella released from prison after 28 years.
27. Space probe Voyager photographs the Solar System at a distance of 3.7 billion miles.
28. The Hunt For Red October comes to theaters.
29. The Red Hot Chili Peppers are major music stars.
30. Fire at the Happy Land social club in New York City kills 87 people.
If you don't have it by now, I'm guessing you weren't born yet!
31. Ozone depletion is discovered above the north pole.
32. Total Recall comes to theaters.
33. Billy Joel is major music star.
34. USA and USSR sign historic agreement to end production of chemical weapons.
35. Edward Scissorhands comes to theaters.
36. Phil Collins has musical hits.
37. Demonstrations throughout UK protest new poll tax.
38. Vanilla Ice has hit with "Ice Ice Baby."
39. The B-52s are major pop music artists.
40. The yearly inflation rate was 5.39%; the cost of a new house was $123,000; the average yearly income was $28,960; average monthly rent was $465; a gallon of gas cost $1.34; the price of a new Isuzu Rodeo was $12,490; and a brand new IBM PS1 computer would set you back $1,000 - 2,000.
Just read the answer, already!
Finally, a closing note: I am considering hanging up my keyboard and closing up shop. I decided early that I wasn't going to cover politics, current events, or religion, mostly because I find no enjoyment in being called filthy names and receiving death threats from a bunch of total strangers who feel empowered by the fact that they aren't standing right in front of me. You have graciously allowed me to get away with a couple of political statements, but that has never been my theme. Well, I am finding (have found, really) that once you take those subjects off the table, all you have left to talk about is your personal life, and frankly, my personal life just isn't that interesting, even to me, most of the time. I find myself eyeing the calendar, dreading "post day" more than I do going to work, and the reason for that is that everything I can think of to write about sounds lame-a$$... to ME! I can just imagine what a world full of strangers makes of this drivel. But I will continue to explore new avenues, so keep an eye on things here. If a week or ten days go by, and you find a new post, then this was just a speed bump on the Post-Holiday Depression Highway, but if not, well, I have enjoyed our time together. Thanks for following, those who did, and don't be surprised if I pop up on your sites from time to time, just to see what you're up to. And if I don't see anyone again, thanks for everything; I had a blast!
Until we meet again, remember, elections are coming: Register early, vote often, and don't forget to throw the bastards out!