Karate Kid and Its Life Lessons Turn 30

Here’s a post that originally appeared on Lefty Pop back in June.  Given the life lessons to be learned from 80s gems such as Karate Kid, I thought it prudent to post it here as well.  So read on and remember, “You’re the best around.  Nothing’s ever gonna keep you down.”

In a continuing effort to shove me into old age, time insists on marching on.  Everyday some relic of my childhood hits a milestone and I’m forced to think, “Holy shit, I guess that was X years ago.”  Today’s ‘aha moment’ of aging is brought to me courtesy of LaRusso and Miyage.  That’s right, Karate Kid just turned 30.

Released in 1984, Karate Kid was a commercial success.  It even earned Noriyuki “Pat’ Morita an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.  It spawned a franchise that resulted in two sequels; unfortunately leading to a spin-off (The Next Karate Kid, 1994, with Hillary Swank) and then an unoriginal reboot (The Karate Kid, 2010, with Jaden “I’m only famous cause of my dad” Smith).  But the most important impact it made wasn’t at the box office, it was in the living rooms of 80s kids across the country.  While Daniel-san was learning karate, we were learning some important life lessons.

Sometimes assholes learn their lessons and change.

Johnny and his Cobra Kai chums really made Daniel’s experience as the new kid on the block a living hell. I mean, Daniel did kind of put the moves on his ex-girlfriend, but kicking his ass in front of the entire dojo and chasing him dressed as a skeleton seems a little harsh.  Johnny is a world-class bully.  But eventually, after receiving a crane kick to the chin, he admits defeat and declares ” “You’re all right, LaRusso! Good match!”  Even he wasn’t buying the no mercy bit at this point.

Manual labor builds character.

Having obligated him to a karate tournament against Cobra Kai in two months, Daniel assumes Mr. Miyagi is going to instantly jump into teaching him all of his awesome karate secrets.  Nope.  Apparently the secret to kicking-ass is doing all of Miyagi’s chores.  Wax-on, wax-off.  Wax-on, wax-off.  Bam, muscle memory!  While I don’t buy that Daniel’s YMCA level skills were instantly transformed by his Miyagi slavedom, the message of hard-work preceding success is a great lesson.

Do or do not.  There is no try.

Technically, Yoda taught us this lesson.  But Miyagi echoes it.  You must commit to something to be great. “Walk on road, hm? Walk left side, safe. Walk right side, safe. Walk middle, sooner or later [squish gesture] get squish just like grape.”

Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.

“Get him a body bag! Yeah!”   It’s always embarrassing to lose after talking smack.  You look like an idiot Tommy.

Never let fear keep you from trying.

Don’t let fear of the unknown stop you from trying.  “It’s okay to lose to an opponent.  It’s never okay to lose to fear.”

Never, ever give up.

During the tournament finals, Johnny is delivering a major beating upon Daniel.  It seems that all hope is lost.  Clearly he is outmatched.  When we hear sensei scream, “Sweep the leg!”, we hang our heads confident that LaRusso has failed.  But we’d forgotten about the crane.  Daniel musters his last bit of strength, somehow hypnotizes Johnny in his attempts to balance, and delivers a tournament ending, Cobra Kai face kick.  After witnessing this moment, I proceeded to don my USA Gold Medal replica (found in a box of Wheates) and perform karate moves all over the house.  He did it!  He won!

A theme song can make everything better.

Oh, the 80s and their theme songs.  You can’t present a montage without one.  And Karate Kid had one of the best….around.  Thanks Joe Esposito.

Twisted Mixtape: Awesome Mix Volume 2

So Jen returned one of my very favorite blog hops this week, Twisted Mixtape!  Oh how I’d missed it.  With the stress of getting married, starting my own company, and writing twice weekly for Lefty Pop, my personal writing time has taken a serious hit.  In fact, someone of you are thinking, “oh yeah, I do remember subscribing to this blog.  I thought she’d disappeared into the void of blogging block.”  Nope, just busy.  But no way was I going to miss out on the opportunity to follow a mixtape assignment!  Today’s tape is inspired by the original Awesome Mix Volume 1 from Guardians of the Galaxy (awesome movie if you haven’t seen it).  It’s just a bunch of songs I wouldn’t mind as a soundtrack while floating around in space.  And in also keeping with the movie, these songs all skew older.  There nothing here beyond 1988.



U2:  Where the Streets Have No Name

Really this could have been just about any song from War or Joshua Tree

George Baker Selection:  Little Green Bag

Jen and I have discussed our mutual love for this song.  Never gets old.

Ram Jam:  Black Betty

This is just a pure rock out track.

ELO:  Mr. Blue Sky

Makes me happy.

Allman Brothers Band:  Blue Sky

I can see my childhood living room and feel the warm summer breeze coming through my window if I close my eyes.

Rush:  Subdivisions

Quintessential nerd jam.

Yes:  Owner of a Lonely Heart

Solid advice.

Toto:  Africa

Made me miss the rains and I’ve never even been to Africa.

Tears for Fears:  Head of Heels

Belongs on any mixtape I make.  One of my favorite songs ever.

Simple Minds:  Alive and Kicking

My 2nd favorite 80s new wave hit.

Pink Floyd:  Learning to Fly

Hard to pick just one Pink Floyd song, but this one has always been instantly repeatable for me.


After a thorough review of my songs, you could easily call them “Songs I listened to in the backseat of my childhood car”, which is fitting given how Star Lord obtained his mixtape.


Stay positive & love your life!




Listening to:  Bosnian Rainbows – Eli

Eating:  Rigatoni with homemade vodka sauce, arugula, and garden fresh tomatoes.

Drinking:  H20

Random thought:  This time next month I’ll be prepping for my engagement party.  Squee! So excited to be marrying my soul mate, best friend, and perfect partner in life!

Confessions of a Childhood Home: Branford, FL

So it is time for me to say goodbye to Branford one more time.  Kinda.  You never really say a true goodbye to Branford if you’re from there.  It’s more of a “I’ll see ya after while” to which Branford replies, “y’all come back now, ya hear”.   You see, my parents are moving and while I’m super excited about having a lot more to do each time I visit (Gainesville has infinitely more options), I’m saddened to be bidding adieu to my childhood home. This new house will be great, but nothing can ever come close to replacing the house you grew up in. Man do I have some memories in that house!

It really makes you think that if that house were a living being, boy has it seen some shit.  Oh the stories it could share with it’s new owner!  Well they do say that confession is good for a house’s soul, so I thought we’d give 116 Hillcrest Circle some time in the confessional.

Forgive me father, it’s been quite a while since my last confession, you see, I’m a house.  With a new family coming in I thought it might be good to like, ya know, clean out my attic so to speak.  Yeah, so, how exactly do I do this?

Speak from your heart son.

Heart?  Hmmm, okay, I suppose that’s like a furnace. 

Sure, go ahead.

Well they moved in back in ’87 after watching me grow from blocks of wood and bricks.  They were obviously excited; you could tell from all of the yelling and running around.  That little blonde boy used to ride his bike up and down the big dirt mound out front that they brought in to level out my front yard.  I suppose I was a bit out of balance.  Anyway, the yelling never stopped. 

You mean to say that they fought a lot?  Were angry?

No, just loud.  Very loud!  Especially the girl.  She started talking the moment she walked in and didn’t stop till she left for college.  Apparently she has a lot to say and she likes to say it so everyone can hear. I think she got it from the man.  He was super loud too.   Hello, we can hear you!  Sorry, I got a little sidetracked.  So, yes, they were all quite loud.

Go on.

They boy and girl would wake up each morning when they didn’t have school and burst out of the house.  It was like they couldn’t wait to get out of me.  They’d play in the woods behind me for hours, making trails and forts.  Sometimes they’d climb trees so high that I’d get a bit nervous.  But what could I do?  At lunch they’d come in gobble up a peanut butter and banana sandwich and then they’d rush out again.  Ha ha ha…

What is it?

I was just thinking about this one time the boy didn’t want to eat his sandwich.  So the girl told him to throw it in the weeds.  He did.  Apparently she didn’t want her sandwich either, because the next thing I knew she was tossing out her sandwich as well.  Then you’ll never believe what happened.


She went in and told on the boy for tossing his sandwich!  Can you believe it?  Of course he then ratted her out.  Awwww, but those two were quite the team.  They’d race biked around the neighborhood like maniacs.  Sometimes they’d come back with bloody knees and elbows.  But it didn’t seem to phase them.  I think they liked being dirty.  They sure took many a grubby shower in my bathroom.  Leaves, beggar weeds, thorns, and all manner of stuff would stick to them.  I always liked when it was hot, because then they’d play in the hose and sprinkler.  That always felt so good on my hot cement.  You know, brick isn’t exactly summer wear.  And they don’t call it the Sunshine State for nothing.

So I’ve heard.  So this little boy and girl were buddies huh?

Oh yes!  They got along very well….for the most part.

So sometimes they fought?

On occasion.  One time they put a hole in my hallway door.  Ouch!

How’d that happen?

Every Easter it never failed, they’d find their Easter baskets (the woman hid them in the house) and the girl would instantly start gobbling up all of her candy.  The boy would nibble a few odds and ends and then move on to playing with whatever toy came in his basket.  A few days later, the girl’s candy would be gone.  The boy would wrap his Easter bunny in Saran wrap and put it the fridge.  Each day or so, he’d come back in and nibble a little off the ears.  Well, this drove the girl crazy!  She decided to start taking secret nibbles of the bunny as well.  Oh, but her greed caught up with her!  The boy realized what was happening.  By goodness, the ears were just disappearing too quickly.  He confronted her with the chilled bunny!  Well she just stuck out her tongue and said, “I wanted some and mine was gone.”  So he chucked that ice-cold, ear-less rabbit right at her head!  She ducked and it ended up hitting me right in the hallway door.  It made a huge hole.  That kid had an arm!

I bet she didn’t sneak anymore of the bunny after that.

Nope, at least not that Easter.  Oh, I have another Easter story!

Great.  But why don’t we save that for next time.  I have quite the line forming out there.

Sure, I just have so much to tell;  26 years is quite a bit of life!  I’ll be back in.  So, what is my penance?

You’re a house,  so I’m not really sure what would work for you.  How about you look in the bathroom mirror and say three Hail Marys?


So obviously I’ll be continuing my Branford house confessional in the coming weeks.  I plan to pull out the photo albums so I can give you guys a little visual with this too!  Until then, here’s a picture the house uncovered of the girl and some of her childhood buddies.  This one was from their trip to Grad Nite at Disney.  What a fashionable bunch!


Want to know why I love Branford, FL so much?  Check out my post:  5 Reasons Branford was an Awesome Place to Grow Up

Stay positive & love your life!



Listening to:  Pepper – Tradewinds

Random fact:  That banana and peanut butter story actually predates this house, but I couldn’t leave it out.

Want to live in this famous house?  It’s for sale!  Check it out:  Kick-ass Home

Five for Friday: My Five Favorite Albums (Pre-K- Elementary School edition)

Today’s album list is a bit different.  These are the albums that started my music collection;  the records Dustin and I would spin over and over again.  And as with all things from my childhood, they still mean a great deal to me.  They will join the list of items for which I scour antique stores and thrift shops making an attempt to reunite all of the things that shaped my childhood into one ridiculous (and awesome) collection.

Number 5:  Records borrowed from Dad.

My Dad is the single greatest contributor to my love of music (as I’ve mentioned before here and here).  He had an enormous collection of all of the great albums of the 60s, 70s, and 80s.  They were housed in a large wooden peach crate.  Much like my Barbie dolls, we parted ways with this collection through a hastily thought out yard sale.  There were two records that pre-kindergarten Melissa would swipe on a regular basis-

Bob Marley- Rastaman Vibration

“Get Up Stand Up” was a perfect song to dance to even if we had no clue what the lyrics meant at the time.



Elton John- Greatest Hits

Dustin and I were hooked on “Crocodile Rock”, “Rocket Man” and “Honky Cat”.

Number 4:  Annie: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

I was a bit scared of Ms. Hannagin.


Number 3:  E.T. The Extra Terrestrial


I love this movie.  I’m pretty sure that if you are a child of the 80s that is a requirement.  But this album trumps the movie.  First, it is narrated by MJ.  I was just a smidge obsessed with him as a kid (we’ll get into that in a second).  Second, it contains the wonderful song “Someone in the Dark”.  I would cry every time I heard ET get captured.

Number 2:  Michael Jackson’s Bad

My obsession with MJ actually started with a record I checked out of the Branford library at least 50 times.  I’m not sure which Jackson 5 album it was (likely a greatest hits), but I spent hours dancing to “Rocking Robin” and “ABC”.

When I was around 3 or 4, I ran away from home to see MJ in concert. I couldn’t understand why my mean parents simply refused to take me to the show (which was roughly 2 hours away in Jacksonville).  So outfitted in my nightgown, I hit the road.  I just knew someone would give me a ride and when I got there MJ would let me in.  My Dad scooped me up and took his fit-throwing, kicking mess of child back home.  And then we played Shoots and Ladders.

The very first “real” music album I got was “Bad”.  I’m sure my parents were so sick of hearing the same eleven songs played on constant rotation.


Number 1:  The Muppet Movie Soundtrack


It doesn’t get any better than the “Rainbow Connection”

Honorable mentions:

Madonna- Who’s That Girl
My Dad must have caved and bought me this one, because my Mom hated Madonna.


Tiffany  This was the last “record” I ever owned.  I then made the jump to the high tech world of tapes where I started my collection with super bands like New Kids on the Block.


What were your favorite albums as a kid?

Stay positive & love your life!



Listening to:  Bat For Lashes – Daniel

Eating;  Potatoes and black beans

Drinking:  Blue Monster

Random fact:  I think I must have been most drawn to Madonna’s soundtrack efforts, because later I’d become obsessed with the “Dick Tracy  Soundtrack”

Five for Friday: Five Things 80’s Movies Taught Me About Life

The 80’s taught me so much.  Big bangs make you look totally rad.  Add a synthesizer to any song and it instantly gets much cooler.  Neon matches everything……..And the films of the 80’s were just full of great life lessons.  Below are a small sampling of some of my fave 80’s flicks and the nuggets of wisdom I picked up from them.

Number 5:  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1990

Ok, technically this is not an 80’s movie.  But TMNT were born in the 80’s; so I’m counting it.

Fight for what’s right even when the odds seem stacked against you.  These turtles were outnumbered, but in true karate flick fashion they battled overwhelming odds and came out the champions.

Everyone needs a catch-phrase.  Just like any 80’s movie worth its weight, this one has a great one.  Cowabunga!

WTF Lesson:  If someone is a criminal, it is perfectly okay to crush them in a trash compactor.  Murder is perfectly fine.


I can’t believe Michael Bay is about to destroy this movie.  Gag me with a spoon.


Number 4:  Pretty in Pink 1986

Is there anything MORE 80’s than a John Hughes film?

Sometimes the “right” guy is right in front of you.  Ugh, I get pissed every time I watch this movie.  I cheer for Duckie so hard.  Come on Andie, give him a chance!   I obviously didn’t learn this lesson early enough though.  Matt was clearly amazing the entire time we were in college together, but I was as clueless as young Molly Ringwald.  At least I finally figured it out.

Teenage girls are stupid twits.  See above.  Some of us don’t outgrow this until our late 20s.

WTF Lesson:  You can create an awesome prom dress in no time flat with your super teenage sewing skills.  Yeah, not so much.


Number 3:  Gremlins 1984

Exotic animals are not pets.  Hello! This is the clear message of this movie.  None of the deaths and mayhem that occurred would have been possible had Mr. Peltzer not bought that damn Mogwai.

Directions are there for a reason.  Don’t get them wet.  Well that really resonated with Billy.  It took him about an hour to dump water all over Gizmo.

Karma’s a bitch.  Sorry Mrs. Deagle.  Maybe you shouldn’t have been so miserable.

WTF Lesson:  Don’t ever try to dress up like Santa and come down the chimney to surprise your kids.  Otherwise you die and stink up the house.


Number 2:  Karate Kid 1984

Sometime assholes learn their lessons and change.  Johnny finally shows Daniel respect in the end.

You can make someone do a whole lot of manual labor for you if it’s under the guise of mentorship.  Now how do I apply this to getting some work done around my house?

A theme song will make you more successful.  The 80’s were full of wonderful montages.  KK had one of my faves!

WTF Lesson:  If you stand in a crane position it will confuse your opponent and lead to victory.  Nope.


The leg, sweep it.

Number 1:  Back to the Future 1985

One of my VERY favorite 80’s films.  I still would love to own a DeLorean.

What happened in the past shapes your future for better or worse.  We are all a product of our experiences.  Going back and redoing things sounds great, but could cause some serious issues!  We shouldn’t live  a life full of regrets.  After all, what happened throughout lives is what got us here!

Puffy vests look rad no matter what the year.  Truth.

Scientists aren’t very ethical when it comes to saving their own skin.  All that talk about disrupting the space-time continuum and Doc still rips open the letter about his murder and saves his own life.

Huey Lewis should write a song for every movie soundtrack. “Power of Love” is perfection.


WTF Lesson:  You probably would not want to meet your parents when they were young.  It’s just too weird.  And your Mom might try to make out with you. 


Honarable Mentions:

Rocky-  Don’t ever give up.  Not if your friends die.  Not if you can’t remember anything.  Not if you have to go train in Siberia.

The Breakfast Club-  Even those whose lives appear perfect have problems.  High school principals are easy to trick.

The Princess Bride-  True love is worth fighting for. 

Let me stop here so I can eventually do a part two of this one!  I leave you with this:

Stay positive & love your life!



Listening to:  Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – Jimmy Iovine – feat. Ab-Soul

Eating:  Leftover spaghetti

Drinking:  H2O

Random fact:  I didn’t see any of the Rocky films until college.

Five for Friday: 5 Most Singable Sitcom Theme Songs

Wow!  This was a hard one.  I love a good jingle and the shows I watched growing up did not disappoint when it came to their theme songs.

Cheesy.  Check.

Tells you all about the show.  Check.

Sticks in your memory for 25 years. Check.

Back in the day, there were so many solid theme songs.  I could easily have listed 20 songs here that still make me smile, but this list is called Five for Friday.  So I’m going to list my top 5….which might change by the time I post this.  And don’t ask me tomorrow, because the list will have changed yet again.  I left cartoons off of the list.  That would have made this impossible.  I’ll save that for another list.  Oh, and I did cheat and list some more at the bottom in an honorable mention section.

It’s my blog; so I can make up the rules as I go.

Number 5: Family Ties

“What would we do baby without us?”  That’s a deep question!  This song is all about love and marriage and stuff like that.  But to me it means Alex P. Keaton.  And Mallory.  And Nick.

Number 4:  Growing Pains

“Show me that smile again! ooohhh show me that smile!”  Here’s another song about love, etc.   I mean, “as long as we’ve got each other”.  That’s really what it’s all about right?  Well, that and Mike Seaver.  Boy did I have a crush on Kirk Cameron.  That was before he got all nutty.

Number 3:  Full House

Seriously, “what ever happened to predictability?”  This song is all about a guy and some more guys living in a house they could never possibly afford.  And some kids…one was also a Cameron and one grew up to be a set of crazy twins.   Weird.  But if there is one take-away:  “Everywhere you look, there’s a heart; a hand to hold onto.”  That’s pretty awesome…almost as awesome as Uncle Jesse’s hair.

Numer 2:  Fresh Prince of Bel Air

If there is one theme song that tells you exactly what the show is going to be about, it’s this one.  Will Smith was just “chillin’ out maxin’ relaxin’ all cool shootin some bball outside of the school” and these guys just started some shit.  Apparently his mom wasn’t too thrilled about it because she said,  “You’re movin’ with your auntie and uncle in Bel Air”  Must have been one heck of a playground fight.

Number 1:  Golden Girls

While the rest of the list was nearly impossible to create, this one was an easy choice and the obvious winner.  Everytime I hear this song I think of Dorothy biting her fist.

To Blanche, Dorothy, Rose, and Sophia:  “Thank-you for being a friend.”  I remember watching this show with my Mema while we sipped Diet Coke through a straw.  I still love it.  When I get old I might have to convince Matt to move to Miami into a house with Bee and Kasi.

Honorable Mentions-  Those that almost made the cut.

Mr. Belvedere:  Because “sometimes things get turned around and no one stares.”  http://youtu.be/kte_-GFYAKY

Facts of Life:  Because “you take the good; you take the bad.”  http://youtu.be/WmgIXH4Bp9g

Who’s the Boss:  Because “there’s path you take and a path not taken.  The choice is up to you my friend.”  http://youtu.be/WBLy1YvKqi8

Family Matters:  Because “it’s a rare condition this day and age to read any good news on the news paper page.”   http://youtu.be/kYvNiKwWvhk

Perfect Strangers:  Because “sometimes you get a feeling like you need some kind of change.”  http://youtu.be/8vbnLYROCj8

and finally for Jim:
Lavern & Shirley: Because “Schlemiel! Schlimazel!  Hasenpferrer Incorporated!”

What did I leave off the list that you think should ABSOLUTLEY have made it?  What’s your favorite?  Do you have any memories tied to these songs/shows?  Leave a comment!

Stay positive & love your life!



Listening to:  TV theme songs!

Eating:  Leftover potatoes, brussel sprouts, and peas.

Drinking:  Monster

Random fact:  I am not a fan of yellow gold.

Lily Ellyn

Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.

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