Sunday, February 28, 2010

Damn Hell Ass proud!

Gen X-tinct is Damn Hell Ass proud to be the latest member of Damn Hell Ass Kings!

If you breathed air in the 1970s or 1980s, you should find something to identify with here. We're hopelessly devoted to the lost tastes, toys and trends of our childhoods, from Choco-Bliss to "The Rockford Files" to "Free to Be... You and Me" to "Schoolhouse Rock."

We're so devoted, in fact, that we're publishing a book about our lost memories, scheduled to come out from Penguin Books' Perigee imprint in May or June 2011.

Who are we? Oh yeah. You may know Gael Fashingbauer Cooper from fellow DHAK member site Pop Culture Junk Mail, and Brian Bellmont has his own strong pop-culture cred. Not only has he interviewed everyone from Batman to the Beav, the man owns his own "Hugo: Man of a Thousand Faces." (Uh, I wouldn't click on that link if I were you, unless you want flashback nightmares of the highest order.)

We update at least once a weekday, with fun retro clips on Classic Clip Monday, and fantastic food memories on Funky Food Friday. You can follow us on Twitter or become a fan on Facebook.

Welcome! At GenXtinct, it's always Time for Timer!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Funky Food Friday: Choco-Bliss

When you first hear the name "Choco-Bliss," it may just sound like a generic snack cake. But when you hear that it was from Hostess, big in the 1980s and early 1990s, and consisted of two layers of chocolate cake with choco-fluff filling and darker chocolate icing on top, you may start to remember it.

Then, read this oh-so-awesome article by Matt of X-Entertainment, all about the Choco-Bliss, with a divine dissection of the commercial.
Does anyone know when these things went away? They did last into the 1990s, yes?

Also, I had no idea there once were Twinkies with weird strawberry creme sharing space with the regular creme. Did you? The commercial looks very Eighties.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

MTV just called you cynical

Generation X took one on this chin this week, as MTV Networks president Van Tofler dismissed kids who grew up in the '70s and '80s as cynical and not as civic-minded as MTV's new crush, millenials.

"We're pushing Generation X out," Toffler said. "We're slaves to our different audiences, for MTV that's millennials, who are vastly different than Generation X; they're definitely less cynical -- they're more civic minded."

He has a point, at least about how our generation isn't exactly riveted to MTV anymore. I'm 41, and the last time I tuned in with any regularity was to see whether Jessica Simpson could figure our whether canned tuna was chicken or fish on "Newlyweds" -- in 2005.

But where he loses me is when he holds up "Jersey Shore" as an example of the lack of cynicism and civic-mindedness shared by MTV's current audience. For the love of Snooki, what is he talking about?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Show me that smile again -- don't waste another minute on your cryin'...

Andrew Koenig, "Boner" from "Growing Pains," is still missing. When he didn't return home to California on Feb. 14 after a trip to Canada, media outlets went wild: There've been interviews with his father, "Star Trek's" Walter Koenig, articles about co-star Kirk Cameron praying for his family, and tweets from actors like Sarah Silverman and Alyssa Milano.

Yesterday, another twist -- RadarOnline reported that police believe Koenig is alive, and "lying low in Vancouver."

Especially for those of us deeply addicted to '80s pop culture, it's all been bordering on the surreal -- and a reminder that even somebody who played a goofy TV character from our childhoods is still a real person with real problems. Good luck, Boner -- we hope you find your way home.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Remaking Rockford

No, no, no, you simply cannot remake "The Rockford Files."

"The Rockford Files" was James Garner as Jim, and Noah Beery as Rocky, and Stuart Margolin as Angel (classic Angel clip here), and Dennis Dugan as Richie Brockleman.

It was that rockin' theme song, and the gold Firebird, and the classic answering machine messages (read through 'em here), and the crappy mobile home on the beach, and the gun in the cookie jar, and Jimmy's crappy brown suits, and the jazzariffic THEME SONG!

You might be able to rip off one or two of those details and copy them, but it's not going to roll together like the old show.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Classic Clip Monday: Don't let He-Man or She-Ra touch you in a bad way

Man, this clip kind of speaks for itself. He-Man and She-Ra tell kids about bad touch.

He-Man, of course, was Master of the Universe, but She-Ra had to settle for being Princess of Power, because no one wanted to admit to being Mistress of the Universe.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Funky Food Friday: Summit candy bars peaked in the 1980s

It's Funky Food Friday, and today we're highlighting a candy bar that isn't around anymore. I'm eager to find out if anyone remembers it. If you had asked me just randomly if I remembered Summit chocolate bars, the name would NOT ring a bell. But then I saw the orange wrapper with the two "Ms" as mountain peaks, and heard the catchy, yet still amazingly generic, jingle, and now I totally do remember.

The late 1970s-early 1980s were an era when all of a sudden, every candy bar company had to have a bar with cookies or wafers on the bottom. Remember? Twix, Summit, Forever Yours, Whatchamacallit. I remember we had to create a product in eighth grade and we glommed onto that trend and created a cookie wafer-bottomed candy bar, naming it "One Step Further." Gettit? The cookie bottom took traditional candy bars One Step Further.

Sounds pretty lame in retrospect, but really, One Step Further is not that much of a stupider name than Forever Yours, Whatchamacallit, Charleston Chew or, uh, Mounds.

I've embedded one commercial below, but here's another Summit ad featuring a young Kathie Lee Gifford. This one shows the candy bar better. Seriously, anyone remember this? Apparently it was from Mars (the company, not the planet) according to this sketchy Wikipedia entry.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

There's a land that I see, where the children are free

Aw, I love Marlo Thomas. She had the world's most awesomest flip hairdo in "That Girl," and she brought the world "Free to Be ... You and Me," one of the coolest books (and records, and TV specials) of my childhood.

It seems kinda weird to look back now and think that people really needed "Free to Be..." to tell them what seem like totally obvious things, like that boys can play with dolls, and girls can bait hooks, and no one outside those goony women in soap commercials actually enjoy doing housework. But times were different then, and "Free to Be..." helped bring us a little closer to the ideal espoused in its pages.

Marlo Thomas is writing a memoir now, and I'd like to read it, because she seems kind of awesome. Watch the video on this story where she talked about "Free to Be..." and see if you don't love her, too.

The video also shows some comparison shots of pages in the original version of "Free to Be..." and the 2008 35th anniversary edition. The wonderful ragged notes passed in "The Southpaw" were replaced by texting, and I don't like the new book cover as much, but I guess they wanted to appeal to modern kids.
The embedded clip, "William Wants a Doll," is the song I most remember. Yes, that's Alan "Hawkeye Pierce" Alda singing. Not a bad voice! Here's a link to the classic title tune.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My Sharona

"Oooh my little pretty one, my pretty one..." Our guess is that "My Sharona" has been playing a lot more than usual over the last week. Doug Fieger, frontman of '70s band The Knack, died on Sunday, at age 57.

The song's had a wild ride since it debuted in 1979. The can't-get-it-outta-our-heads melody stayed on top of the Billboard charts for six weeks (and was parodied by Weird Al as "My Bologna"). "Sharona" hit the charts again 15 years later, on the soundtrack of "Reality Bites." It resurfaced once again in 2005, when it was reported that George W. Bush had the song on his presidential iPod.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Foil-wrapped heaven

Who remembers when Ding Dongs came wrapped in foil, not plastic? ME ME ME ME ME!

Some online posts claim that Hostess bakeries on the West Coast still wrap them in foil, but I'm in Seattle, and I only ever see the plastic. Not that I'm a regular Ding Dong consumer these days, but I may have to undertake the research.

That first link, by the way, is via Waffle Whiffer, who has an awesome Web site and is officially a FOG (Friend O' GenXtinct). Also note Minnesota Twin great ROD CAREW on the box.

Waffle Whiffer also found Ding Dong shirts, featuring the long-since-deposed King Ding Dong, at Target!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Classic Clip Monday: We the People

In honor of Presidents Day, here's a little something from 1976 that's very likely still lodged in your head: Schoolhouse Rock's Preamble to the Constitution.

Hearing this song eight thousand times as a kid helped me score big on a Government test in high school. I don't think I got an A+, though, since the Schoolhouse Rock lyrics aren't exactly the same as the actual preamble (Rock dropped the "of the United States" from the first line). I'm also pretty sure I spelled "tranquility" "tranquili-tee-eee-eee-eee."

Friday, February 12, 2010

Funky Food Friday: Life Savers Commercials

As we approach Valentine's Day, we thought we'd take a look back at some of the smoochiest, sweetest commercials from days of yore. Life Savers, in particular, was on a, um, roll with its lovey-dovey '70s and '80s ad campaigns, including this one starring Audrey Landers, who went on to star in "Dallas."

But our favorite Life Savers commercial is the one where moppet Adam Wylie (from "Picket Fences" and "Gilmore Girls") asks his little friend Dorothy to marry him. She promptly asks, "Where's my ring?" The girl settles for a Life Saver, instead, and they decide to live with Adam's mother.

This one's tough to track down online -- if anybody knows where we can find it, we'd love to take another look. In the meantime, here's a photo of Wylie. Aaawwww...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Gumming up the works

If you had asked me yesterday I don't think I would have been able to confirm the existence of Bubbilicious Chocolate Mint gum, but holy cow, after seeing this label I have total sense memory of it.

Anyone else? What gum flavors or brands do you miss?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Where women glow and men plunder

We sang "Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree" in grade-school music class, and it sounds as if Colin Hay of Men at Work may have, too. Last week a judge found the Aussie band guilty of copying the 75-year-old campfire song for the flute melody in "Down Under."

The publishing company that owns the rights to "Kookaburra" might ask for up to 60 percent of the royalties "Down Under" has earned since it hit the charts back in the early '80s, which could add up to millions of bucks. That's a lot of Vegemite.

Here's a great look at both songs from an Australian TV station. What do you think -- copyright infringement, or coincidence?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

We Are Still The World

On Feb. 1, nearly 80 performers recorded a new version of the 1985 smash "We Are The World," for Haiti earthquake victims. It's set to debut during the Winter Olympics' opening ceremony on Feb. 12.

Like the original recording session, a star-studded but surreal mash-up of singers showed up: From Kanye West to Jennifer Hudson,Celine Dion to Jason Mraz, Pink to Miley Cyrus. The weirdness of the lineup wasn't lost on its participants. "To be in a sandwich between Barbra Streisand and Weezy [Lil Wayne] was an experience I don't think I'll ever have again," said Josh Groban -- who got to sing Kenny Rogers' original line. You and me both, Groban.

Actors Vince Vaughn and Jeff Bridges showed up, too, and while that's a little odd, their participation wasn't anywhere as startling as one particular face in the crowd during the original session. You know, the appearance that caused the entire world to pause their VCRs and go, "Hey, what's Dan Aykroyd doing there?".

Here's the original version:

Monday, February 8, 2010

Classic Clip Monday: Instant Classic

It's only 12 hours old, but as far as we're concerned, this Super Bowl Snickers commercial from last night's game is a soon-to-be classic -- perfect for Classic Clip Monday:

TV icons from the '70s and '80s (who are both actually IN their late 80s) Betty White and Abe Vigoda getting tackled? Awesome and nutty, much like a Snickers.

The Super Bowl was crawling with ads nodding to Generation X memories, including the Boost Mobile spot that payed tribute to 1985's Super Bowl Shuffle (complete with Mike Ditka, and Jim McMahon on a scooter), an ode to 1983's "Vacation" (good to see you, Family Truckster!) and KISS hawking Dr Pepper Cherry.

Hey, remember the '80s? Madison Avenue definitely does.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Funky Food Friday: Kool-Aid Man--Ohhhh yeah!

I admit, I was never a gigantic fan of Kool-Aid. Whoever made it either dumped too much sugar in it, and it was sicky sweet, or they held back, and it wasn't sweet enough -- just like red water.

But I was an enormous fan of the Kool-Aid Man, who smashed through walls to ensure kids didn't die of thirst, and never had to go back and make repairs for his damage.

This ad below is the one I remember the best, with one of the painters smashing his wet brush over his fellow painter's eyeglasses as Kool-Aid Man charges past, breaking down their freshly painted fence.

Also, did kids really get that sweaty and hot skateboarding? Not the way these kids do it. But apparently they came prepared -- with glasses full of ice, just in case an anthromorphic pitcher of a cold beverage comes running by.

Note how the song kind of changes into a 1950s doo-wop tune for a while.

But funniest of all is how it doesn't appear they thought out the Kool-Aid Man's costume very well. He kind of has elephant legs, and it doesn't look like they cut any eyeholes, as he teeters down the hill at a slant and almost falls over.

I also get a kick out of this "Family Guy" sketch featuring Kool-Aid Man. OH YEAH!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Double Trouble

A couple of former child stars fought the law over the past few days, and the law won.

First, Gary Coleman was arrested on Jan. 24 for an outstanding warrant after police responded to a call about a disturbance at his home. Arnold, Arnold, Arnold. What would Mrs. Garrett, Adelaide and Pearl think? They'd think this is one of the freakiest mugshots they've ever seen, that's what they'd think.

And on Monday, '70s pop star/actor Leif Garrett was arrested for heroin possession. Garrett's been battling drug abuse for years. Here he is in happier times, when appearing in Tiger Beat was all the high he needed:

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

"Don't Go Into the Light, Carol Anne"

Zelda Rubinstein died last week. The diminutive actress played the psychic in Tobe Hooper's "Poltergeist," which is, to my mind, easily one of the most terrifying movies of the '80s. I remember sleeping over in my cousin's basement after we saw the flick -- although I didn't do any actual sleeping. I was burrowed deep under my covers the whole night, eyes wide open, convinced skeletons would pop out of the cement floor, a demonic clown was hiding under the bed, and a creepy little girl was going to get stuck in their TV.

What's the scariest movie of your childhood?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Hopelessly Devoted

It's the Year of the John -- Olivia Newton-John, that is. Everybody's favorite Rydell High grad is heading back to the screen -- both big and small -- this year.

Yesterday she started shooting "Score: A Hockey Musical," where she plays the mom of a teen hockey phenom. It's set to hit theaters in October, and if it's half as good as her other skating movie, "Xanadu," it'll be terrible. (We kid -- with its hooky ELO score and awesome roller-disco setting, "Xanadu" is a time capsule of delicious '80s cheese.)

And this spring, she'll appear on "Glee," singing her 1981 hit "Physical" with track-suited cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester.

Does it get any better than that? Olivia Newton-John and musicals go together like -- well, like rama lama lama ke ding a de dinga a dong.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Classic Clip Monday: The Carpenters' variety show

OK, it may be sappy to admit it, but man, I loved The Carpenters. There was something about Karen Carpenter's voice that just doesn't come along very often, and the minute you hear it you wonder why all voices aren't that way. Anorexia is a deadly disease, now and especially then, when hardly anyone knew what it was or how to help those who had it.

Back in the time when everyone, from Donny & Marie to The Brady Bunch to The Starland Vocal Band to The Captain and Tennille to Pink Lady & Jeff had variety shows, The Carpenters had one, too, called "Make Your Own Kind of Music."

It only lasted eight episodes, and its weird gimmick was that its segments ran in alphabetical order. Meaning, they had a big letter "A" on the stage and then introduced "Herb Alpert," and moved on like that. Man, I bet those writers must have cursed when "Q" and "X" came around each week, not to mention "Z."

Here's an engrossing clip from the inaugural episode, taking the show from "A" to "H."