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Shawn Ryan

I'd like to thank my friends and colleagues in the Times Free Press' Life department for running the oh-so-informative story on Sunday about all the pop-culture anniversaries taking place this year.

When I find my walker, I'm going to hobble into the newsroom and tell them how much I appreciate it to their faces.

It was quite eye-opening, for instance, to learn that:

» The final episode of "Seinfeld" aired 20 years ago? Then why am I still seeing it on TV every single day?

» "2001: A Space Odyssey" was released 50 years ago? Things didn't turn out in real life quite like they did in the movie, did they?

» "Mork & Mindy" is 40 years old? I remember watching it as a 21-year-old, laughing so hard I was gasping for breath and telling everyone I knew that they simply must watch it because this Robin Williams guy was brilliant.

Despite the decades that have passed — and the feeling that they rocketed past — remembering these anniversaries can actually be kind of fun, especially if you think about your life at the time these events occurred.

It's the 30th anniversary of "Die Hard," the second-best Christmas movie of all time ("A Christmas Story" is No. 1.) I saw it after coming back from a beach vacation when, to avoid thinking about having to go back to work the next day, I distracted myself by going to see "Die Hard." I almost stayed in the theater to watch it a second time.

"Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In" — hitting its 50th anniversary — was, in my young mind at the time, the funniest show ever on TV. While some of the jokes flew over my head, I remember sitting on the couch with my father one night as he cracked up constantly at the sketch comedy show. And with "Laugh-In," there might not be any "Saturday Night Live" or "In Living Colour."

I first saw "2001" at the Loew's Grand Theatre in downtown Atlanta, the place where "Gone With the Wind" debuted in 1939. It was huge, about 2,100 seats, and also had a screen wide enough to show 70 mm films, the high-def of the time.

On a screen that big with images so detailed, "2001" was otherworldy and life-altering. It took me until I was a teenager and several more viewings before I understood what it was about — or at least I think I know.

"Saturday Night Fever" and "Grease" both debuted 40 years ago, and I have yet to see either one. "Grease" just never appealed to me; and I detest disco music, so I wouldn't go near "Saturday Night Fever." Yes, I know that disco music is just a backdrop for the plot, but still

Contact Shawn Ryan at mshawnryan@gmail.com.

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