But Fourth of July? The thought never occured to us until this week. And while we're surely sensitive to the fact that we have a global audience, we figured: Aw, what the heck. These are songs that you probably known from London to Sydney anyway. And so this week, we give you our Fourth of July extravaganza, featuring the top 5 patriotic songs of the '80s.
Some are obvious. One you probably barely remember. So break out a box of sparklers, throw some dogs on the grill and enjoy one of the most unhinged shows we've done in years.
"Kate has filed for divorce and Tom is deeply saddened and is concentrating on his three children," Cruise's rep said in a statement. "Please allow them their privacy."
Remember, it was Katie Holmes that inspired Cruise to make a -- well ... fool is probably the safest word -- on Oprah's show when he attacked the couch while professing his love for Katie. Ah, memories.
Hard to imagine the straw that broke the camel's back here. Cruise's sex-god turn in Rock of Ages? (She wasn't with Tom at the movie premieres.) His upcoming 50th birthday? (Bad timing!) Ummm, differences in philosophies on something like ... religion maybe?
Dexy's Midnight Runners released their hit song Come On Eileen on June 26, 1982. It reached No. 1 on the charts in the UK, US and Australia -- but it wasn't the band's only No. 1 hit (Geno was a chart topper in the UK back in 1980). Also, Come On Eileen did trigger three seismic shifts in popular culture:
1. There was a rush to buy faded overalls (along with an inclination to grow patches of facial hair).
2. MTV decided it didn't need to play any other videos on their network in 1982.
This week, 40 years ago, the Atari Corp. was born. And a generation of kids would never willingly play outside again.
There's actually an Atari Museum website out there, decided to celebrating the history of the gaming company. I'd visit it myself right now, but I'm in the ninth inning of a no-hitter on M-Network Baseball.
Something happen at the U.S. Supreme Court today? I was too busy debating the merits of Highlander remake to notice. It doesn't matter anyway. Truth be told, I somehow managed to never take a U.S. Civics and Government course in my life.
Oh, unless you count that class when I was a senior in high school and spend the whole hour each day drawing what my stage would look like if I were in a punk rock band. That might have been civics.
Anyhow, my education was already fully formed, having already seen 1981's First Monday in October about a billion times on HBO in those days. (It might have been the only HBO movie I intentionally watched that didn't have nudity in it. Oh, wait, there's that scene when they're screening pornography, so my streak is intact.)
In any case, I'm pretty sure that Walter Matthau and Jill Clayburgh provided a strong understanding of our legal system, which I continue to rely on today. That's because...
Ryan Reynolds has been officially cast in the lead role for a remake of Highlander, according to The Tracking Board, a Hollywood insider news website. Reynolds will play Conner MacLeod, who as any good '80s fan knows is part of a group of "immortals" who are forced to fight each other -- with only a beheading serving as the killing blow.
Christopher Lambert played the role originally in the 1986 film opposite Sean Connery. A slew of sequels and TV series followed.
According to Tracking Board, the remake "is set to be helmed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, who is also in negotiations to rewrite the script. Neal Moritz and Peter Davis will produce the film."
There's no news on when production might start or when the film might reach theaters. "Patience, Highlander..."
Nora Ephron, whose contributions to the world went far beyond her movie work in the '80s, died Tuesday in New York. She was 71. According to reports, Ephron was being treated for acute myeloid leukemia and pneumonia.
To many of us, she'll be known for writing films like 1986's Heartburn and 1989's When Harry Met Sally -- two films that took a laser-sharp look at both relationships and city living. In our decade, she also penned Silkwood and Cookie. She's perhaps better known for her more prolific '90s, when she wrote You've Got Mail, My Blue Heaven and Sleepless in Seattle.
"Ephron also wrote extensively about her own life, often in a sly, self-deprecating style," the LA Times writes. "Her books included I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman, I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections, Crazy Salad: Some Things About Women, Wallflower at the Orgy and Heartburn, a roman à clef about her marriage to Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein. The 1983 novel was so withering in its depiction of her former husband ... that Bernstein threatened legal action."
The stars she often worked with included Billy Crystal, Nicole Kidman and Tom Hanks.
"Nora Ephron was a journalist/artist who knew what was important to know; how things really worked, what was worthwhile, who was fascinating and why," Hanks and wife Rita Wilson said in a statement to E! News. "At a dinner table and on a film set she lifted us all with wisdom and wit mixed with love for us and love for life. Rita and I are so very sad to lose our friend who brought so much joy to all who were lucky enough to know her..."
"You could call on her for anything: doctors, restaurants, recipes, speeches, or just a few jokes, and we all did it, constantly. She was an expert in all the departments of living well."
Even toward to end, Ephron maintained a cynical but philosophic look at mortality and youth.
"Why do people write books that say it’s better to be older than to be younger?" the Times quoted her in a collection of essays. "It’s not better. Even if you have all your marbles, you’re constantly reaching for the name of the person you met the day before yesterday."
Long Duk Dong is 57 years old?!? Actually, he's probably still 16. But actor Gedde Watanabe is actually 57 years old today.
How is that possible? Well, for starters Gedde was 28 years old when he filmed Sixteen Candles. And we would have seen even more of him in the John Hughes film, but a scene where he sings at the high school dance ultimately was left on the editing room floor.
Sure, Sixteen Candles is a classic and probably the biggest hit movie Gedde starred in, but was it actually his best movie of the '80s?
TOP GEDDE WATANABE MOVIES OF THE '80s:
3. VOLUNTEERS (1985): "Ya know, there is something to be said about just playing with yourself."
2. SIXTEEN CANDLES (1984): "No more yankie my wankie. The Donger need food."
The Go-Go's are one of those great '80s acts that just don't get around as much as their fans would like. And can you blame them? Though the band is still touring with their classic lineup -- Belinda Carlisle, Jane Wiedlin, Charlotte Caffey, Gina Schock and Kathy Valentine -- the girls themselves are scattered all around the globe when they're not on the road. So every live show generates a ton of frequent flyer miles.
So the very least you can is step up and buy a ticket when the Go-Go's play Sept. 19 at St. Petersburg's Mahaffey Theater. It's one of only three shows they have planned for September (the other two are in California), plus it's at a nice, comfy indoor venue. The Go-Go's were one of the free concerts last summer for the Tampa Bay Rays, but I sadly missed it.
So, assuming everything goes according to plan, this upcoming show will be the FIRST EVAH! Go-Go's concert for me, thus striking another name off the bucket list.
Tickets are $35, $55 and $60 and go on sale Saturday, June 30 at noon. Tickets are subject to additional convenience fees and handling charges. Tickets may be purchased online at TheMahaffey.com, or charge by phone at (727) 893-7832. Tickets may also be purchased at the Mahaffey Theater Box Office.
John Travolta and Mrs. John Travolta (the incredible Kelly Preston) were all lips last night at a movie premiere in Hollywood. Was it a show for the press after a few weeks of bad publicity for Travolta? (Sorry, you can read about it elsewhere. Not my bag to dump on an actor like Travolta, who I hear is one of the nicest guys in the biz.) Or is it just true love with the woman whom Travolta met as they filmed 1989's The Experts (very entertaining flick!)
But here's the real question. Which kiss looks more staged for press and fans: Travolta/Preston or Michael Jackson and Lisa-Marie Presley back in 1994?
Joe Jackson's Night and Day album turns 30 years old this month. It was the only album of Jackson's to reach the top 5 in both the U.S. and U.K. and featured his signature '80s hit, Steppin' Out.
The song soared to as high as No. 6 in the charts back in 1982. It'd score Grammy nominations for record of the year and best male pop performance. (He lost to Toto's Rosanna and Lionel Richie's Truly.) Oddly enough, for being the biggest hit on the album, it was the last song on side 1. (The only other big hit was Breaking Us in Two.)
As far as the video goes, Jackson wasn't all that happy about it or the network it gained fame on.
"Rock 'n' roll is degenerating into a big circus, and videos and MTV are very much part of that," Jackson reportedly told Time Out back in 1984. "People who are seriously interested in making music as an end in itself are going to have to split away and forge a different path."
There's very little to smile about when it comes to remembering the circumstances of how Michael Jackson left this Earth. Three years ago today, we were unified only in the shock of it. And then weeks later -- what seemed like an eternity with all the gossip sites dissecting every morbid detail of his death -- we had that crazy memorial service live on TV for all to see.
I remember watching it online from work in total dismay, shaking my head at the weirdness of it all. Until Brooke Shields stood up. And then suddenly it was okay to just grieve and shed some much needed tears. Those eight minutes are the only ones I choose to remember from the aftermath of that awful day.
Relive the '80s music, movies and culture with Tampa Bay Times correspondent Steve Spears. A teen during the greatest decade ever, Steve is obsessed with everything from Duran Duran to Journey, John Hughes to John Cusack, and parachute pants to big hair.