Stuff I Did in the '80s
I Want to be Elton John When I Grow Up
I Want to be Elton John When I Grow Up

I’ve worn glasses since the second grade. In the 1970s, and a better part of the ’80s, the popular glasses for boys were in the aviator style and came either in metal or brown plastic frames. They broke every time I attempted any kind of sport. My thick, Coke-bottle lenses were scratched and scuffed like giant cataracts. But that embarrassment paled to the constant name-calling I endured. “Four eyes” and “Four-Eyed Freakazoid” were common, along with much more derogatory terms.

On MTV I watched Elton John dancing on the beach in his music video for I’m Still Standing. I’d grown up on Elton’s music. His record albums were like storybooks full of surreal 1970s artwork illustrating Bernie Taupin’s mysterious lyrics. Elton was on the radio, in newspapers, magazines and (most importantly) he was friends with the Muppets. He embraced his outrageous glasses, created his own identity as THE bespectacled rock star, and people celebrated him for it. I hoped that maybe one day I could embrace the things that made me different and people would accept me for who I was.

(Shown here wearing my mom’s 1970s sunglasses and pith helmet along with dad’s old military jacket.)

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Introduction Half a Boombox I’m Not a Member I was Simon Le Bon (For Fifteen Minutes) Motown 25 Watch Whatever, Whenever Snowblind You’re the One That I Want Call Me Your Kiss is on My List Electric Boogaloo Dear Daryl Hall and John Oates Where Shopping is a Pleasure Dialect of a Decade I’m Alright The Sunshine State Shazam! It’s Just a Fantasy I’ve Got a Secret Sunday Funnies Impeachment American Top 40 License to Drive Risky (Show) Business Jumping Someone Else’s Train Yakety Sax I Want to be Elton John When I Grow Up Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Tetherball, Dodgeball & Flag Football Sk8 or Go Home Roll a Saving Throw vs. Velour Piano Man The Duckman Cometh Money for Nothing Waiting for the Bus More Than Meets the Eye The Legend Begins Whip It When You Care Enough to Send the Very Best Master Chef Muppetmania I Want to Ride My Bicycle WW III My Octopus Teacher Some Like it Hot Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs Dare to Be Stupid Keeping the Faith
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Never Abandon Imagination Tony DiTerlizzi: Never abandon imagination.

Imagination is a world of possibility that exists within each of us. It is what makes us uniquely human. It is our creative fingerprint that touches and influences the world around us. Imagination is essential to art and science; to innovation and prosperity. It gives us hope, calls us to action and leads to change.

Whether it’s fairies, dragons, robots or aliens, all of my children’s book characters are siblings born of my imagination – an imagination strengthened through years of encouragement from family, teachers and friends. While so many others abandoned it during their transition from childhood to adulthood, I fiercely held onto mine, hoping for a day when I could share it to inspire the next generation of dreamers. Innovators. World changers.

Imagination empowers us to envision and create a reality of what could be. We must hold it dear, foster it and never abandon it.