Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Who's going to play the Big Ragu?

Schlemiel, schlimazel, hasenpfeffer incorporated! Are we really going to see a big-screen version of "Laverne & Shirley"? We are if this article isn't some sort of early April Fool's joke.

According to TV Guide, "Laverne & Shirley" producer -- and Penny Marshall's brother -- Garry Marshall says that a movie's in the works, and he's hoping it'll star Jennifer Garner and Jessica Biel. Um, whaaaaa? But, wait -- there's more: It's being written by...Jamie Foxx.

Sure, Foxx was a comedian before he became a Serious Actor. But why would Marshall go with an Oscar-winning actor with little writing experience to script this odd-sounding remake? That's like asking Meryl Streep to write and star in a movie version of "Mork & Mindy."

Hmm -- come to think of it, that'd probably be pretty sweet.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

There is a place where the sidewalk ends

Who can't recite at least two or three Shel Silverstein poems, or at least parts of them?

"There is a place where the sidewalk ends, but before the street begins..."

"Listen to the mustn'ts, child, listen to the don'ts..."

"I will not play at tug o' war, I'd rather play at hug o' war..."

"But all the magic I have known, I've had to make myself."

"So I'm all of love that could make it today."

"There's a polar bear, in our Frigidaire..."

Silverstein died in 1999, but believe it or not, there will be a new collection of his work coming out in 2011.

I think I'm going to have to buy "Where the Sidewalk Ends" and start reading the poems to Kelly. Two isn't too young to meet him, I don't think.

"The bridge will only take you halfway there, to those mysterious lands you long to see.
Through gypsy camps and swirling Arab fair, and moonlit woods where unicorns run free.
So come and walk awhile with me and share the twisting trails and wondrous worlds I've known.
But this bridge will only take you halfway there. The last few steps you have to take alone."

Monday, March 29, 2010

Classic Clip Monday: Big Blue Marble

Oh man, the 1970s and 1980s had the BEST educational kids' shows. "Electric Company"! "3-2-1 Contact"! "ZOOM"! And also, "Big Blue Marble"!

Did you watch it? Did you ever get a pen-pal from there? I wish this show was rerunning today--I think it'd be fascinating to watch after soooo many years. No show had the international flavor this one did.

This makes me wonder...I always remember a scene from a kid's TV show I saw when I was little. I used to think it was "ZOOM" but now I wonder. Anyway, it was a filmed bit (not scripted) about two girls who were best friends -- in England I thought -- and they had this whole fantasy world based around their hoppity hops, or hippity hops, or hobby horses. Some kind of fake horse thing that they bounced around on or rode around on. I saw that segment once and found it just fascinating, and of course would love to see it again. Does anyone know what I'm talking about, or did I perhaps dream this?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Please insert twenty-five cents

Pay phones are becoming such a part of our past that CNN is asking readers to find one, take photos of it, and send in a report.

You're out of touch/I'm out of time

Hall & Oates making a comeback? Aw, I always kinda liked them...

Blinded me with science!

Shrinky Dinks and Etch-a-Sketch are among the toys that inspired scientific breakthroughs! (Via Gizmodo.)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Funky Food Friday: Tato Skins!

Remember when suddenly eating potato skins no longer seemed like something a goat does? And TGI Friday's started serving them, hot and crisp and heaped with calorie-laden toppings, and suddenly people were ordering them before their meal and totally chowing down and then just pushing their main course around their plates?

And then Keebler made Tato Skin chips, and they were kinda oval shaped and much firmer than regular potato chips and had that kind of dusty topping powder on them? And one side was darker than the other, like it was the skin side? And they were totally addictive and delicious in addition to being terrible for you?

Well, Tato Skins vanished for a while and then I started seeing TGI Friday's own brand in stores. And then the other day I spotted the one in my photo here. So are they back? Did they never leave? Is this a different Tato Skin? It doesn't say Keebler, but it's definitely not the TGIF brand either. Wikipedia only recognizes the TGIF brand.

But I did not buy them, and so now, the world may never know.

Here's an old Keebler Tato Skins commercial from the 1980s. I love how two of the comment-leavers are practically coming to blows over what year it came out. "1984, DAMMIT!" "No, fool! 1988!" This is America, we fight only about the most vital issues!

Please leave any comments on Tato Skins, TGIF, or other even vaguely related issues in the comments. We love comments! Have your say!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Care Bear Bunch

Retroland celebrates the 25th anniversary of "The Care Bear Movie."

Ah yes, I remember this one. This is the movie that started the drumbeat for the NC-17 rating due to its almost unbearable levels of sex and violence.

What? It's not?
Well, is this the one where they nuke the planet from orbit, because it's the only way to be sure? Or where they crash in the Andes and have to eat each other?
One of those, I'm pretty sure.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hot Tub Time Machine

It's this year's "Snakes on a Plane," the movie that's getting snickers for its mere title.

But since this guy is writing it, it could be pretty funny. He reminisces about how the movie came to be, and it turns out that ties in big-time to growing up in the 1980s.

Excerpt: "Matt remarks that someone should remake Hot Dog. I mishear him, because of an air conditioner or someone walking by. I hear him say "Hot Tub." Call it divine intervention, call it what you will. Well of course my response is, “There’s a movie called Hot Tub? I would totally remake that.”

Now keep in mind that I have no authority to remake anything. And a movie called Hot Tub doesn’t even exist. But that’s all beside the point. I’m ready to remake this! This bodes well.

Matt tells me, “No, Hot Dog,” and I get a little bummed, because I remember when I was a little fat kid in the '80s and saw the title, Hot Dog, I really wanted the movie to be about hot dogs. I also got burned by Hamburger...The Motion Picture.

But still, I saw where Matt was coming from. A ski comedy. But how to do it in a not-lame fashion? I didn’t want to write a spoof. I wanted to write a movie that would allow real characters to live within the reality that only exists at a 1980s ski resort.

The other question was what decade to set it in. Writing a ski movie with '80s leads is invariably going to end up going down a schlocky road. But writing a ski movie set in the present day wouldn’t afford the same type of comedy without being inauthentic to the era. I was at a crossroads.

If only there was a way to set it in both times. Some sort of time machine. A Hot Tub Time Machine."
Oh, those 1980s ski schlock comedies, spoofed so well by "South Park" in the "DARSH!" episode. (That's not its real name, but that's how I remember it.) Also, I think Rob's best friend Todd was in Hamburger the Movie, and I always think he was in Hot Dog. Or maybe he was in Hot Dog, and I always think he was in Meatballs. Whatever. He was in some 1980s food-titled movie.
My point, and I do have one was...I dunno. Ski comedies? 1980s schlock? "Hot Tub Time Machine"? Discuss amongst yourselves!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Super Globetrotters

We've done a lot of research for the book, but none has made me go, "I can't believe I'm getting paid for this" like digging up clips of "The Super Globetrotters" cartoon from 1979. Sweet Georgia Brown, this was a weird show -- even by '70s cartoon standards.

Curly Neal turned into a freak with a giant basketball for a head (which really, wasn’t so far off from his regular hair-free scalp), Twiggy Sanders transformed into Spaghetti Man, and "Sweet" Lou Dunbar was able to pull stuff from his massive afro – all to fight a giant gorilla or a super-villain who stole people’s faces.

Did you watch the show? Here's a taste of the craziness:

Monday, March 22, 2010

Classic Clip Monday: This lollipop is following me

Mostly, I loved, loved, loved "The Electric Company," with Easy Reader and Letterman and Jennifer of the Jungle.

But this skit, man, it was pure nightmare fuel. Anyone agree? The LOLLIPOP! It's FOLLOWING HER!

If this one didn't bug you, tell us in the comments which supposedly innocent childhood skits freaked you the heck out.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Funky Food Friday: Munchos

Here's my memory of Munchos: I went to Derham Hall, an all-girls' high school in St. Paul, and our cafeteria had a kitchen, but it was only utilized for weird special parents' nights or something once in a blue moon.

We had modular scheduling, where you might have three hours between classes, or if you were like me, you might take so many courses that you were lucky to get one 15-minute break all day. So the cafeteria had to be open all day, it couldn't ever close, because 9 a.m. or 2:30 p.m. might be your only chance to have lunch.

So instead of a hot lunch kitchen, we had vending machines. Which we thought was AWESOME, and much cooler than our boys' school and their regular hot food. And one day my friend was eating a weird chip she found in the vending machine. It came in a shiny red bag and looked more like Funyons or insulation or plastic coating than it did potato chips. And it was deliciously salty, and wonderfully artificial tasting, and totally addictive. And it was Munchos, and after that it became the hot chip at our school.

Turns out Munchos wasn't a 1980s find, though--Wikipedia says 1973, but YouTube dates this Jim Henson commercial -- with a very early version of a PURPLE Cookie Monster -- to the 1960s. Who's right?

It seemed like Munchos vanished for a while, but guess what? Munchos are back! They can be hard to find, but check chip aisles in all your stores. They are apparently considered a bargain chip as they have the price -- usually $2 -- printed right on the bag so the store can't reprice them.

Do you have Munchos memories? Or memories of any other fave potato chip to share?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Mix tapes

Do kids today get the same romantic thrill out of making their crush an iPod playlist as we did when we made our mix tapes? Somehow I wonder.

Here's a great rumination on the art of the mix tape. (there's also a book called "Mix Tape" bu Thurston Moore -- did you know about it? I had a copy for a while--it's very artsy and full of pictures.)

I remember someone in college who had a tape called The Omega Tape, so named not because it was the alpha and omega of mix tapes, but because he drove an Oldmobile Omega, and that's the car he played it in. We all made copies and I thought it was the most adult tape I had ever seen, because it didn't contain the basic top 40 songs I was used to. I remember it had "A Girl in Trouble (Is A Temporary Thing)" by Romeo Void, XTC's "Senses Working Overtime," "Never Say Never" (also Romeo Void), Bob Marley's "Jammin'" and a whole lot of others.

And my husband Rob was a big mix-tape maker for me when we were dating. He lived in California and I lived in Minnesota and the music he sent made me feel closer to him. One of the songs seemed to fit our very different climates--Dramarama's "It's Still Warm Out Here."

I know it's lovely there this time of year, but it's still warm out here, yeah, it's still warm out here...

We ended up using two of his mix-tape songs, that one and Redd Kross's "Love Is Not Love," on our wedding videotape. I think the videographers thought we were nuts, but we did it anyway.

You I think I loved because like me you're not quite sane...

Share your favorite mix tape memories, or songs, in the comments. Also, RIP, Alex Chilton.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy Shamrock Shake Day!

The Retroist has an old Shamrock Shake commercial, just in time for St. Pat's!

But where's Uncle O'Grimacey? Oh! Here he is!

Jezebel tackles Get in Shape, Girl!

I was just a little too old for these little kid workouts, and you know, that is just fine by me.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Playgrounds of our past

Man, remember the playgrounds we grew up with? Sharp slides that cooked in the sun and then grilled your legs if you slid down while wearing shorts? Bouncy metal animals that tossed you to the ground? Merry-go-rounds that made you barf?

Today, it seems like all the playground equipment has been bubble-wrapped. It's safe and colorful and you'd have to really try to hurt yourself on it.

That's why this site, honoring the wacked out, occasionally dangerous playgrounds of the 1970s, is such a treasure. That picture I grabbed for this post has the equipment that was in the park across from my house. Not the geodesic dome, but the bouncy animal thing. I remember there were certain animals I liked (the horse) and others I didn't (the snail, the duck, maybe a rooster?) and it was OMG THE WORST THING EVER if the horse was already taken and you wanted to climb on. I suspect I spent most of my childhood gritting my teeth and trying to deal with the damn snail. (Apparently this kind of toy is called a "buck-a-bout" -- who knew?)
We also had the swinging horse thing shown in the middle of this page at our park. Way better than regular swings!

I also loved the comments in this Ask Metafilter thread about the site. Spend some time with it if you can -- the readers provide way more links to great playground photos, and all are awesome. Plus how else would I have learned about Playscapes, a playground-design blog? Genius!
Won't you reminisce with us about your fave playground equipment in the comments?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Club-assic Club-ip Mub-und-ub-ay: Zub-OOM! (Classic Clip Monday: ZOOM!)

Researching "ZOOM," I learned that it was based on a BBC show with the best kids' show title ever. Its inspiration was called "Why Don't You Switch Off Your Television Set and Go Do Something Less Boring Instead?"

Which is a bit of a paradox, because if you switch off your set, then you're not watching the show, but is also an unbelievably awesome program title straight out of Monty Python. Bravo, BBC. Well played.

Come on and ZOOM ZOOM ZOOMA-ZOOM! I never managed Ubbi-Dubbi, did you, I mean, I got the concept--stick an "ub" before each vowel sound, like "Hub-i, Frub-iends!" But I couldn't have a conversation in it! Maybe if I wrote down every single word before I said it. I was kind of a hopeless child, apparently.
Do you remember ZOOM? Did you have a fave skit, or character?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Funky Food Friday: Baking with a light bulb

Aw, who didn't love their Easy-Bake Oven? Salon has an article about why the iconic toy is so beloved, and has been for decades.

I think I inherited mine from one of my sisters. It was yellow, I think, but none of the ones in the slideshow immediately ring a bell with me. Maybe #5? Or #6 but in yellow?

When they started making them as microwaves, though, that was just not cool.
Did you have an Easy-Bake Oven? What do you remember about it?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

You're so vain, you probably think this post is about you

In her 1972 hit "You're So Vain," was Carly Simon talking about Warren Beatty, Kris Kristofferson or Mick Jagger? She's not telling, but she has launched a contest for filmmakers to produce a video for the song. (Apparently there's never been one before.) The winner gets their video shown at the Tribeca Film Festival and featured on AOL. Want to get in on it? Simon's got some footage on her site you can use to edit together an entry. Me, I'd just throw up a still photo of Beatty for three minutes.

So who do you think she's singing about? Simon herself offers up a few clues here.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Corey Haim

Corey Haim died early this morning. He seemed to be dealing with a lot of issues, and had an up-and-then-mostly-down career, from "Lost Boys" to "The Two Coreys."

But he'll always be Lucas to us.

Update: Here's MSNBC's slideshow of his short, turbulent life and career.

Imma let you finish, Kanye, but Pretty Sneaky Sis played one of the best Connect Four games OF ALL TIME

Man, I loved Connect Four. It was tic-tac-toe, only perfected. In later years, when I saw "Star Trek" (or was it on "Star Wars"?) where they played three-dimensional chess with pieces that hopped down levels and ate other pieces, I thought of Connect Four in some weird way.

Here's a great video of Kanye West and Jonah Hill playing Connect Four. I won't spoil who wins, because ... well, you'll see ... but don't miss the part where Kanye gets up and puts on HIS OWN MUSIC to psyche himself up. Or something.

Actually, they both seem pretty cool here. And anyone who's a friend of Connect Four is a friend of mine.

Did you have Connect Four as a kid? Share any memories in the comments. HERE, DIAGONALLY!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Old school BMX bikes

You may think you recognize some of your old classmates and neighbors in these classic pics featuring old school BMX bikes.

Every other kid in these pics looks just like my husband Rob when he was a kid.

Oh, the clothes, the scenery, the hairstyles! I do miss you, Seventies.


And here's a great Fu Manchu song about a certain BMX bike, the Mongoose. (Lyrics here.)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Copyboys, pinsetters and more, oh boy!

Part of our goal with the book is to remind ourselves and our friends of how many things that were once immutable parts of our lives have slipped away.

The jobs in this slideshow are mostly before our time, but I love it because it does a similar thing--reminds us of what once was, and is no more. Bowling alley pinsetters, newspaper copyboys, typists, typesetters...

When I started at my first journalism job, we had typesetters, squirreled away in a private, noisy room. By the time I moved on, so had they.

If you love this kind of memory, you should definitely read our book when it comes out, but you may also love "Going, Going, Gone," which covers everything from girdles to blue laws to hitchhikers to nuns. Not all of those things are gone for good, but they've sure changed. Yesterday came suddenly.

Ye olde days of checking out books

Every once in a while I buy a used book and it's a library donation, and I'm reminded of how books used to have the pockets and the cards in the back, and you could sign your name or otherwise check them out that way.

(For a while in grade school I signed a fake name. Kitty, I think.)

Anyway, this Ask Metafilter question reminsces about those days, and explains how librarians kept track of books in those long-ago days before everything was computerized.

Classic Clip Monday: A mind is a terrible thing to waste, Boom-Boom Washington

This PSA for the United Negro College Fund is really well-done for its era. It begins with a family of slaves teaching each other to read in slave quarters, and then they have to hide the books as a voiceover talks of how it wasn't that long ago that education was forbidden to blacks in America.

Then it cuts to a modern (for the 1970s) college classroom full of mostly African-American students, and the professor tells them their class has been canceled for lack of funds.

Most interesting in that scene, which looks a little like it could be from an early pilot for "A Different World," is that two famous faces sit right by each other. The comments on the video are all excited about Dorian Harewood, who's acted in "Full Metal Jacket" and numerous other productions.

But sitting right behind him is Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, a.k.a. Freddy "Boom-Boom" Washington from "Welcome Back Kotter." Hi, there. Unfortunately, he doesn't happen to have his assignment right here...haaaandy.

Awesome PSA. They don't make 'em like this any more.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Funky Food Friday: Shake-A-Pudd'n

OK, I think this was a little before my time, more a 1960s product than a 1980s one, but maybe my mom and dad just didn't buy it.

Raise your hand if you remember Shake A Pudd'n! Apparenly it was pudding mix that used water instead of milk, and you -- duh -- shook it up to make it. Which could get messy, by all reports. InThe80s has some fond memories of it here.

I love the comment from reader Dale Shake: "With my last name (Shake) and being born in ya think I remember Shake A Puddin? It was brutal..."

Also, play the below clip, from a musical TV show called "Hollywood Palace," that aired exactly THREE DAYS before I was born. As the clip is about to end, at 8:48, they go to a Shake A Pudd'n commercial with some 1960s kids getting down and shaking it like a Polaroid picture.

And then they show the pudding, which looks awfully grainy, and delight in throwing the cup it was made in in the trash! Recycling was still many, many years off, my friends. Not having to wash dishes trumped filling up landfills.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Five forgotten John Hughes films

Man, I haven't even heard of some of these.

I know everyone thinks "Sixteen Candles" or "The Breakfast Club" is Hughes' best, but I'm a sucker for "Pretty in Pink."

Barbie the geek

So Mattel had a contest to pick Barbie's next career, and weirdly enough, computer engineer won.

I work on the main Microsoft campus in Redmond, and I can assure you that no one on that campus looks even a little bit like this.
What Barbie job do you best remember? I guess they've had doctors and Miss Americas and "American Idol" finalists and Rockettes, but the main Barbie of my era was Malibu Barbie, so I guess her job was as a ... suntanner? Slacker? Yes, Gen X scores again!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale...

"Gilligan's Island" as a big-screen movie? As much as I hate the idea, I agree with ol' Sherwood Schwartz -- Michael Cera would be perfect as Gilligan.

I also created an poll on whether there are just too many Hollywood remakes of old shows. You can imagine where I stand on this.

Those were the days

Scrubbles linked to this awesome ABC promo from the 1970s, hawking everything from its soaps to its game shows to "The Brady Bunch" doing the Charleston to some totally awesome and forgotten cartoons and other Saturday fare.

Um, "Korg, 70,000 BC"? "These Are The Days," about life in rural America at the turn of the century? I would totally watch these if they were somewhere available today.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Pass the everlasting Gobstoppers, too

One of the delightfully weird things about "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" is that there is actually a Wonka candy line. It's just insane! I mean, it's a made-up thing, and can buy the man's chocolate.

It's not like you can go out and hire Charlie's Angels to solve a mystery for you or buy a prom dress from the Andie "Pretty in Pink" Walsh line of fashions, but you can eat candy with the brand name "Wonka" on it, and he's just as made-up as they are.

And now, according to Brandweek, Wonka is going to go high-end.

Seriously, the Scrumdiddlyumptious Chocolate Bar is worth buying just for its name, and the fact that Wonka's spokeswoman is officially named Janet the Planet.

But if they bring back Oompas, the little choco-peanut butter split-level M&M like treats, 1970s kids would truly be happy adults. Won't you please get on that, Oompa-Loompas from Wonkaland?

Do you remember Oompas? And not the fruit-flavored ones either! Share your memories in the comments.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Classic Clip Monday: I'm the sole survivor!

Long before "Survivor" the TV show co-opted that "I'm the sole survivor!" phrase, it was used in this commercial for a marble-dropping game that I totally forgot about until now.

Who else remembers "Stay Alive"? There were levers on each side, and you moved them and marbles dropped, and you wanted to be the last person with a marble left on the board.

The commercial was memorable not just for the "sole survivor" phrase but because they were playing it on the beach. Who brought their board games to the beach? I would think the sand would make all the levers stick, or you'd surely lose your marbles.

Rob says he thinks the "sole survivor" kid was a classmate of his!