Don't You Forget About Me

So we're sitting at the dinner table having the back and forth banter people have at dinner parties between the wine course and the grappa course.

I said something funny (I don't remember what) and then was asked what I had just said, to which I replied "Did I stutter?"

A super totally funny reference from The Breakfast Club.

This elicited a few peels of laughter from my neices, and I quickly took that as a sign that I can still throw out a pop culture reference that apeals to their demographic. Girls 18-25.

Now, I know that initially sounds mildy creepy.

Actually it sounds really creepy.

I'm a grown-ass man and shouldn't be concerning myself with Girls 18-25.

But here's the thing: My chief demographic, the largest by far, who like/retweet/share my work happens to be Women 30&over, and there is a real reason for that. I write to make my wife laugh, and I am in no way going to say how old she is, but let's just say she's in there somewhere.

So, as the logic follows, if I can remain funny and relevant to Girls 18-25 now, in a few years, I double my reach, cause Girls 18-25 don't stay like that forever.

Also, they're the ones who take things viral. One good repost from an neice or nephew or step-son, and I could quadrupal my 'looks' in a matter of hours.

And if the work is good, there is no telling where it will go.

Anyway . . .

I don't listen to EDM or have a tattoo, but Breakfast Club is the universal sign of coolness.

Except they weren't laughing about my totally cool Breakfast Club reference.

They were laughing about my unwitting "The Office" reference.

Season 4, Episode 16.

Entitled: Did I Stutter?

After about 30 seconds of debate, my neice, with one simple Google search showed that my reference was clearly from The Office.

It even has it's own Wikipedia page, which, and this blew my mind, doesn't even make note of the fact that it is a clear rereference to The Breakfast Club.

Blew my mind.

That's like Lady Gaga doing a cover of "Thriller" without citing Michael Jackson.

Or Michael Jackson doing the Moonwalk without citing Bob Fosse.

Oh . . . shit . . . wait . . . that actually happened.

And it happens all the time.

It made me think of this story about songwriter Jimmy Webb. My parents will know him as the guy who wrote "Up, up, and Away." or "MacArthur Park." My neices will know him because he wrote the music for "Fern Gully"

Anyway, Jimmy was at a bar, like one does, and having a conversation with Richard Page (The lead singer of 80's rock band Mr. Mister, who my neices might know as the band referenced in Train's "Hey Soul Sister")

"Hey soul sister, ain't that Mr. Mister on the radio . . ."

Anyway, Jimmy and Richard are at a bar . . . like you do . . . having a conversation about plaguerism in lyrics. Jimmy brings up a current top ten hit, "Take These Broken Wings" which was an obvious reference/steal to the Beatles' "Blackbird"

"Blackbird singing in the dead of night, take these broken wings and learn to fly . . ."

Richard Page got sullen and walked away.


Cause he was the lead singer of Mr. Mister, a band whose top ten hit at the time was . . . you guessed it . . . "Take These Broken Wings."

Now . . . there is no conceivable universe in which Poor Richard didn't know his Top Ten hit was a direct reference/rip-off of the Beatles.

But what if he didn't?

He might have thought that the line was his.

OMG . . . what if he thought it was his and really proud of that fact?


Now there have been times I am guilty of stuff like that. I once spent hours on a bridge to a tune I was writing, until I listened back and realized it was actually the chorus to Twisted Sister's We're Not Gonna Take It,  but for obvious reasons, I have never released that particular song.

Also . . . this one time . . . while talking about a customer I said "She's like fingernails down the chalkboard of my soul." Which my best friend thought was the funniest thing he had ever heard until he realized I had stolen that line from Douglas Adams (Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy).

In fact, this essay has reference steals from Eddie Izzard ( . . . like you do . . . ), Benjamin Franklin (Poor Richard), and American Pie (. . . this one time . . .), but each of those direct 'takes' are purposeful and are used to enhance the funny.

If you get it, it's awesome, if you don't, no worries, find one you do.

But since pop culture references are my bread and butter, I find it disconcerting that I missed a reference so universal that it has it's own Wikipedia page.

What it means frankly, is that my reference bag has a clear shelf life.

Which means all my work won't have any relevance five years from now.


Or, I just have to learn how to write like an adult.

Double Ew.

But, of course there is that glimmer of hope - that all of this is circular.

Perhaps . . . maybe a few years down the line . . . it all comes back. A reference to a reference to a reference. Let's say Hey Soul Sister becomes a thing, which is a reference to Train, who referenced Mr. Mister, who referenced Blackbird. Or "Did I stutter?" to my neice's neices.

I get to be funny again again.

And not like totally super forgotten.

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