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30 years ago: Kidnappings are slapstick comedy in 'Romancing the Stone'

Can you believe there was a time when kidnappings and murders of innocent civilians in Colombia was fodder for a romantic comedy? Oh yeah, the '80s. Romancing the Stone, about a love-starved novelist who is forced to visit Colombia to rescue a kidnapped sister only to be seduced by an ex-pat smuggler, was released 30 years ago this week, on March 30, 1984.

The movie, which raked in $86 million at the box office, reintroduced Michael Douglas to movie audiences. Douglas' career had been cooling off since the late '70s, when he starred in Coma and The China Syndrome. Kathleen Turner, on the other hand, was just coming off the campy The Man with Two Brains, so her career took off after this romp. And Danny DeVito, who stole the spotlight as the incompetent kidnapper ... he never gets old.

Critics loved the movie, which still holds a 86 percent "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Famed critic Roger Ebert wrote: "Movies like this work best if they have original inspirations about the ways in which the heroes can die. I rather liked the pit full of snarling alligators, for example." (Okay, not his peppiest review.) …

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Do you remember Peter Gabriel's 'I Don't Remember?' ... Wait. What?

The past week I enjoyed listening to the often-delayed, recently released album I'll Scratch Yours that has an eclectic group of musicians remaking Peter Gabriel songs. Leading off the album is Talking Head's David Bryne's manic version of I Don't Remember, which you probably don't remember from the ‘80s.

The lead single off his 1980 self-titled album was the classic Games Without Frontiers and it just missed the Top 40. I Don't Remember was the second single and it barely scraped the charts peaking at No. 107.  As with most early Gabriel videos, I Don't Remember is a strange one with mystic symbols and all-white-clad weirdos haunting Gabriel's breakdown.

It didn't take too long for Gabriel to finally hit the Top 40 with Shock The Monkey in 1982 and then the blockbuster success of the So album featuring perhaps one of the most iconic videos ever with Sledgehammer.  It's going to be a busy spring for Gabriel as he gets inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame and will be performing the So album in its entirety with all the original musicians during his "Back to Front Tour" all across Europe.

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Pop quiz: Can you name Rush's last charting hit in the U.S.?

For the fervent fans of Rush, it might be sacrilegious to say there is a lost Rush song out there; however in the world of Classic Rock Radio where Rush is played every hour on the hour, they could spice up their playlists and add Big Money to the rotation.

Rush is easily the most successful Canadian rock act and they rank only behind The Beatles and Rolling Stones for most gold/platinum albums in recording history. Even with all their material, it's only Tom Sawyer and Limelight and about a half dozen other Rush songs that get played on radio these days.

The Big Money was Rush's last single to hit the U.S. Top 100 charts and in 1985 it reached No. 45.  The video has Geddy, Alex and Neil on a monopoly-type game board as the band preaches the evil of greed and includes the computer animation that was popular in 1985 music videos such as Money For Nothing.

In the U.S., Rush ended up with only one Top 40 hit with New World Man in 1982, but woe to the person who would say that Rush is a one-hit wonder to their fans. Rush is still busy and popular as ever and will probably be making their way on tour soon according to fan rumblings.

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Molly Ringwald tweets anniversary, sings 'Don't You Forget About Me' 30 years after detention

Molly Ringwald might not talk much anymore about The Breakfast Club -- she did at least tweet when the big 30th anniversary of detention hit on March 24 - but she can't quit the song Don't You Forget About Me. She's singing the song this year while touring and promoting her new jazz record, Except Sometimes.

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For the last time, America, it's pronounced "co-burn"

The love for Canada continues this week, but for Bruce Cockburn, the love is also safe despite his contentions in Lover's In a Dangerous Time.

Bruce Cockburn (pronounced Co-burn) only had one U.S. Top 40 hit when he hit No. 21 in 1980 with Wondering Where the Lions Are, but Lover's In a Dangerous Time might be his most lauded. While Cockburn's started to take a political turn in the mid '80s, Lovers is primarily a song about finding love in the doom and gloom of the Cold War Era. The video finds the bespectacled Cockburn performing with some nonsensical tribal dancing interspersed.

Lovers didn't chart in the U.S. and it only made it to No. 25 on the Canadian charts in 1985.  However, that doesn't diminish the impact of the song as the Barenaked Ladies' remake of the song became their first Canadian hit single and it was also covered by Dan Fogelberg. The song also inspired the lyrics for U2 on 1988's God Part 2 as Bono sings "heard a singer on the radio last night, he says he's gonna kick the darkness ‘til it bleeds daylight."  In 2005, CBC Radio declared Lovers the 11th best Canadian song of all time. …

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Did we wind Saga up before we turned them loose? I'm confused

Many remember Saga's lone Top 40 hit in the U.S. with the excellent On The Loose, but would you bet that you remember the follow up single Wind Him Up?

After On The Loose peaked at No. 26 at the beginning of 1983, Saga released Wind Him Up, a song about the dangers of gambling addiction, that that only made it to No. 64 on the U.S. Charts. In Canada, Wind Him Up was the lead single of their Worlds Apart album and peaked at No. 22 on the Canadian charts.

The song is the perfect blend of guitar riffs and synthesizer and another showcase of the great bands that came from Canada in the ‘80s. The video stays true to the lyrics as lead singer Michael Sadler hocks his car all in efforts to fund his vice of the casinos. Sopranos fans might notice a young "Vito" (played by Joe Gannascoli) as the casino pit boss.

Saga is still together and if you act quickly, you can join them on their "Cruise to the Edge" Caribbean Cruise that departs April 7 to sip pina coladas with Saga, Yes, Marillion, Queensryche and other veteran rockers.


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Watch: The force is strong with these twerking Stormtroopers

Star Wars fans ... rejoice? Maybe? Let's face it, the music is full of scum and villainy. But the idea of twerking stormtroopers works. Now I don't feel so bad about what happened to the Death Star.

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Mr. T bedroom set?!? I pity the 12-year-old in the '80s who didn't buy these sheets

Where are you, Mr. T, when the world needs you most? Well, if you weren't a fan of T's, you can also get Rainbow Brite, Garfield, Care Bears and even Gremlins bed sheets. (Probably shouldn't WET the Gremlin sheets after midnight either.) Well, you could buy these in the '80s anyway.

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The rest of the story? This '80s 'singer' goes on to be a hockey star

If you like Paul Harvey stories, I think you will like this VSE of Lost and Found as we salute Canada with Shelly Looney and This Is My Country, Thank You Canada.

In 1980, the hostages were still in Iran but still six U.S. citizens hiding in Iran were smuggled out and returned home. The details of the escape were chronicled in the movie Argo that won the Oscar for Best Picture in 2013. The rescue could not have happened without the aide of the Canadian government and in the spring of 1980, an 8-year old Michigan girl, Shelly Looney, penned a kind thank you letter to Canada that caught the attention of a radio station that led to a pressing of a spoken word single of little Shelly reading her letter thanking Canada with some patriotic music in the background. The single was a regional hit and even reached No. 109 on the Billboard Singles Charts. …

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Today marks 30th anniversary of detention day in 'The Breakfast Club'

Thirty years ago today, one Saturday afternoon in detention changed the lives of an entire generation. Thank you, John Hughes.

Here are five other things you've either forgotten or didn't know about 1985's The Breakfast Club.

1. The stories that each kid shares about how they landed in detention? Totally ad-libbed at the request of director John Hughes. Even Anthony Michael Hall's reason for having a fake ID -- "So I can vote" -- was ad-libbed.

2. Unlike most movies, The Breakfast Club was shot entirely in sequence.

3. The "dandruff" falling from Ally Sheedy's hair is actually parmesan cheese.

4. The film's title comes from the nickname for detention given by students at New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois. One of Hughes' friends had a song who went there. Other proposed titles were "The Lunch Bunch" and "Library Revolution."

5. John Cusack auditioned repeatedly for the role of Bender and, depending on which report you read, was tentatively cast for the part, only to be dropped later. Cusack reportedly held a long-time grudge against Hughes for years to come.


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30 years ago this week: Return to the Blue Oyster Bar with 'Police Academy'

Admit it: You LOVED Police Academy. The first one anyway. Maybe even the second. And like most human beings, you probably can't name how many Police Academy movies they made overall. (Answer: Seven!) Well, Cadet Mahoney, Lt. Harris and Cmndt. Lassard are happy to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the first film this week. Police Academy was released on March 23, 1984.

The film, which starred Steve Guttenberg, Kim Cattrall and G.W. Bailey, made an astounding $81 million on a budget of just $4.5 million. The movie follows a group of good-natured misfits who get a rare chance to enter the Police Academy when the city experiences a shortage of law enforcement officers. Critics mostly hated it and it retains a 44 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. …

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Monday lost and found: Gordon Lightfoot 'Baby Step Back'

Nobody told a song story better in the ‘70s than Gordon Lightfoot and his folk rock sound defined a generation with great tales like The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, Sundown and Carefree Highway; but if You Could Read My Mind, you know Lightfoot has a Lost and Found nugget in the ‘80s with Baby Step Back.

Baby Step Back was from Lightfoot's critically acclaimed, but poorly selling 1982 album Shadows. The album was Lightfoot's first foray into synthesizers and the electric organ and Lightfoot even got in the spirit of the ‘80s by making a music video. While the video for Baby Step Back is pretty laid back with the "action" taking place at a saloon poker game, if you like ‘70s Lightfoot, you should like this song. Baby Step Back was the last song for Lightfoot to chart in the U.S. as it peaked at No. 50.

Though not a presence of the charts in the ‘80s, Lightfoot still released four albums in the ‘80s and was the opening ceremonies performer for the 1988 Olympics in Calgary, Alberta. After he health scare in 2002 when he suffered an abdominal aortic aneurysm and stayed in a coma for six weeks, he rebounded and at age 77 still tours constantly.

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Guess who's about to make his first 'Star Wars Weekend' appearance! No, not the puppet

Mark Hamill will make his first-ever Star Wars Weekend appearance at Disney's Hollywood Studios on June 6-8, reports the Nerdist. (Greatest name for a blog. Ever.) Fans can expect signings, on-stage interviews, and probably the longest lines in the history of the park. That is, unless we can go back in time and have signings by Slave Leia.

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Could this be the most underrated 'driving song' of the '80s?

Earlier in the year, the Stuck in the ‘80s Facebook crowd tried to list the great driving songs on the ‘80s. While many great songs were mentioned, I drew a blank and knew I was missing one great suggestion; and then through no small feat, I remembered Little Feat and Let It Roll.

Little Feat was a popular live and album rock band in the ‘70s and the band looked finished when charismatic lead singer Lowell George died of a heart attack in 1979. However, in the late ‘80s, the band added former Pure Prairie League singer Craig Fuller and regained their popularity among album rock fans. Let It Roll reached No. 3 on the Mainstream Rock Charts in 1988 and was cranked up on my car radio for many a highway trip by myself that year. The video is fun fare too as there is a bevy of fast cars and fast women displayed that you normally only see in a ZZ Top video.

Even though Fuller has left the band, Little Feat marches and continues to tour. They have also just released their 13-CD boxed set Rad Gumbo that chronicles their recording from 1971 to 1990.


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Christopher Walken dancing! Not really. His top 5 movies of the '80s

Why is it such a surprise that Christopher Walken can do his own dancing? In the '80s, he could do just about anything, from recording brain waves to training army recruits while suffering with a metal plate in his head. Here are Walken's top 5 movies of the '80s.


5. A VIEW TO A KILL (1985): "Intuitive improvisation is the secret of genius."

4. BILOXI BLUES (1988): "In the past twenty-one days, you boys have made some fine progress. You're not fighting soldiers yet, but I'd match you up against some Nazi cocktail waitress anytime."

3. THE DEAD ZONE (1983): "The ICE... is gonna BREAK!"

2. AT CLOSE RANGE (1986): "If it's blood, don't break it."

1. BRAINSTORM (1983): "Why do you have to die to let go?"


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