Friday, April 30, 2010

What about prom, Blane? WHAT ABOUT PROM?

Awesome blogger JenX67 is asking people to share their 1980s prom pics. Some true classics here!

I miss the 1980s Scarlett O'Hara style gowns.

Nine, ten, never sleep again

Freddy is not my fave slasher-movie villain, but I did go to the "Nightmare on Elm Street" press screener this week. (Jackie Earle "Kelly Leak" Haley is Freddy!) I give it a solid B--the first half-hour was disjointed and a little dull, but the two main teen leads are not bad, and it picked up from there on in.

Here's a story I assigned for MSNBC: Seven spectacularly creepy Freddy murders. You guys, he killed ZSA ZSA GABOR! And JOHNNY DEPP! And also, himself--with some help from his victims.

Chocolate fudge should never be diet

Inspired by the comments on our GenX Facebook page about Yoo-Hoo, who remembers Canfield's Diet Chocolate Fudge Soda?

They had cherry too, which I kind of remember, and also PEANUT, which I most definitely do not.

Did anyone like this? I always wanted to but there was something aftertastey about even the first sip...

But now that I've written this, I kinda want to try some again. SOMEBODY must love it or they wouldn't still be in business.

Funky Food Friday: Yoo Hoo

YOO HOO! Let's talk YooHoo Chocolate Drink, shall we? (Bob, are you reading this? I know it's your favorite...)

So I've had YooHoo on occasion, but never had it as a kid. How was it different from chocolate milk? The commercial below says it's not carbonated (which would be AWESOME).

There were other flavors, too...Rob says he really misses coconut. The official site says there's chocolate, lite chocolate, double fudge and strawberry. I only ever see chocolate though, do you?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Dorf on "CSI"

Tim Conway is doing a guest spot on “CSI” tonight, and that got me thinking about the man, the myth, the Dorf. Looking back, he was a startlingly significant part of pop culture in the ‘70s – from “The Carol Burnett Show” to the “Apple Dumpling Gang” movies to my personal favorite, “The Private Eyes,” the Sherlock Holmes spoof that set Conway and Don Knotts loose in a spooky castle filled with hidden passages and opportunities to goof around.

Mr. Tudball. The old, shuffling guy with the shock of white hair. Dorf. Sure, Conway was funny on his own (OK, maybe not so much as Dorf), but where he really burst to life was when he teamed with another comedian. His work with Harvey Korman on “Carol Burnett” is legendary – the sketches where they crack each other up rank among the funniest things on TV. That pairing gets the lion’s share of attention, and deservedly so.

But Conway also deserves kudos for his big-screen work with Don Knotts. In the six movies the two did together, Conway often played a dim-witted goof; Knotts barely contained his frustration at his buddy’s shenanigans, letting it squeak out in double-takes, pursed lips and dismissive sniffs. Together, comedy gold. Just try not to pee yourself during the scene in “Private Eyes” when Knotts fights back the barf while Conway lists off gross things like “warm milk with lard in it.”

What’s your favorite Conway moment? Please don’t say Dorf.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Spirograph, Etch-A-Sketch, and Lite Brite

Are you a Spirograph pro? If you are good at it, you can win cash in a Spirograph design contest. You need to use the 1967-1970 Kenner Spirograph and their special multicolor pen, or you won't qualify.

But contest aside, Spirograph memories! I had one and enjoyed playing with it, but I was never any good at it. I seem to remember ripping the paper a lot. The Wikipedia entry is so full of geometry mentions and even equations that my mind started to glaze over. The Spirograph I found on Amazon doesn't look anything like the old one I remember.

I wasn't very good at Etch-A-Sketch either, but I loved it. Ditto Lite-Brite. (Check out the new Lite-Brite cube--brilliant!)
There were a lot of exotic arty toys in our childhood, don't you think? Which ones did you like?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Munchkin Land

Oh, this is awesome. No, I can't for the life of me see why Atari sued them for copying Pac-Man. Can you?

Remember when the M in MTV stood for Music?

Remember when the M in MTV stood for Music? Now it seems to stand for Mediocre Reality Shows.

My co-worker Kurt stumbled upon the MTV 120 Minutes archive, and it's pretty awesome. His take: "When MTV mattered, this was why."

Not only do they link to the old playlists, but they link out to videos. The Smiths! The Cure! Poi Dog Pondering! Dramarama! Those were the days, my friend. Take some time and tune in.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Classic Clip Monday: Family

I loved "Family." Remember it? Sada Thompson was Kate, the mom, James Broderick (Matthew's real-life dad!) was Doug the dad, and Gary Frank, Meredith Baxter-Birney and Kristy McNichol were their kids, Willie, Nancy, and Buddy.

It's hard to believe Aaron Spelling was involved in this show, which ran from 1976-1980, because it's not at all jiggly or exploitative. It felt real, and awesome. You know how Moms on TV today are all thin, hot and gorgeous? Kate was more momlike--she looked and dressed a little like Alice on "The Brady Bunch." She wasn't thrilled about everything--she considered an abortion with Buddy, I think, and was less than happy with Nancy, who divorced her cheating husband.

The show felt real--and I also remember being able to identify with the fact that the kids had large gaps in their ages. Buddy, like me, was a lot younger than Willie and Nancy, and that affects family dynamics, let me tell you. (They later adopted Annie, played by Quinn Cummings -- remember her?)

The first and second seasons of "Family" are now on DVD, hooray! I have the set and my sister also bought it and we were both pulled right back into the life of the Lawrence family.

The very distinctive house in the credits is a real family's house in Pasadena. I may have to drive by it the next time we're in L.A.
Think you don't remember the show? Watch this clip of the opening credits and see if it sparks a memory. The panning over the family photos is especially memorable.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

New Coke turns 25

Holy cow, New Coke is 25. Remember what a big deal that was? Why was that again? Even at the time I was pretty puzzled by the uproar.

I loooooove traaash

Oh, how darn cute is this? Bless you, Bubbledog!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Funky Food Friday: Cookie Crisp cereal

Internet sources say Cookie Crisp cereal came out in 1971, but they must have had a publicity blitz much later, because I remember discovering it and thinking it was new to the world sometime around 1980.

What a treat! It was little COOKIES in a bowl. You could get away with eating cookies for breakfast!

I remember the original, chocolate chip. But apparently there were also vanilla wafer, oatmeal cookie, and possibly a double chocolate version.

The Wikipedia entry says Cookie Crisp was banned in Canada until 2009 because it promoted the idea of eating cookies for breakfast. Can this be true? Oh, my Canadian friends, you were missing out big-time.

Cookie Crisp had a wizard mascot, Cookie Jarvis (is "Jarvis" a traditional wizard name?), and then there was the Cookie Crook and his dog, Chip, who were chased by the Cookie Cop.

According to Wikipedia, the NBC show "Community" had a great joke about that fact. Says Wikipedia: "In an April Fools' Day prank, Pierce is tricked into wearing a wizard costume with a cookie wand. One character mockingly calls him "Cookie Crisp." Later in the episode, one of the younger characters, Troy, admits to not really getting the joke because the mascot for Cookie Crisp was a burglar when he was a kid, not a wizard. He says he pretended to get the joke to impress the "cooler" character, Jeff Winger, who is in his mid-thirties."

If I had to guess, I'd say a lot of moms and dads out there refused to buy Cookie Crisp because it was so bluntly bad for you. Thankfully, my mom did not care. Did yours? Do you remember Cookie Crisp, especially any of the oddball flavors? OATMEAL?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Here's the story...of some TV theme songs

Wondering how the seven Minnow passengers found their way to “Gilligan’s Island”? Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale! Confused as to how Greg and Marcia were related? Here’s the story … of a lovely lady!

Some theme songs required that you knew a tiny bit about the plot, so you could figure out why Chico shouldn’t get discouraged, or just how Wonder Woman got in her satin tights, fighting for our rights. Others were so subtle that they actually charted – “Kotter’s” bouncy “Welcome Back” could have been about any dreamer returning home, and “Greatest American Hero’s” peppy “Believe It Or Not” resonated with anyone who couldn’t believe their luck. (“It should’ve been somebody elllllllllse!”) And some shows appeared to have written a theme song, then said “aw, to hell with it” and had an actor speak it instead. (“Now they work for me. My name is Charlie.”)

The LA Times remembers TV theme songs past, and holds out the hope that the genre is not yet dead. (Thanks to Linda for the link!)

My favorite has to be the "Mary Tyler Moore Show" theme. I love the whole sequence, shot in Minneapolis, so everything looks familiar to me. I once interviewed one of the kids who crossed the street with Mare and the school patrol. Apparently they were just filming and ran across this group of kids walking home and told them to cross the street with Mary, and that was it. Celluloid fame forever.

What's your favorite TV theme song?

It doesn't even look like it crashed through a plate-glass window

Looks like Cameron's dad has a little more walking-around money in his pocket. A replica Ferrari 250GT Spyder California that was used in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" was auctioned off this week in London. It ended up going for $122,000, more than double the pre-sale estimate.

The winning bid came from an undisclosed American buyer. Who do you think ponied up the dough? Our money's on Abe Froeman, Sausage King of Chicago.

Oh, yeeeeeeah. Chicka chickaaaa.

(Thanks, Mike Dougherty.)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Waxing about Wish Books

Old-school department store toy catalogs are in our upcoming book, and I just love flipping through them. What memories! What dreams!

Matt of X-Entertainment picked his favorite toys out of the 1986 J.C. Penney catalog.

The last item is the best: "I didn't know what to say as I peeled the wrapping paper to reveal an Anatomical Pumping Heart kit, and I cannot stress how sincerely I mean that. What the? What was this? Why did my parents get me an Anatomical Pumping Heart kit? What possible sequence of events could've led them to believe that this was an acceptable Christmas gift in any way, shape or form?I admit to being a little frivolous when the time came to pen my holiday wishlists, but I can say beyond any shadow of a doubt that I never put anything even closely resembling an Anatomical Pumping Heart on one of them."

Monday, April 19, 2010

Classic Clip Monday: Here's Boomer

Benji hit it big in the early 1970s, and just like Hollywood does today, it thought "hmm, how can we rip off this profitable and popular media success?"

Benji continued to crank out the movies, but the small screen got itself a Benji-like dog, "Here's Boomer." Bark if you remember this!

I admit, I don't think I ever watched it, but the title was so odd that it forever stuck in my mind. (Who names a dog "Boomer"? Benji is a way better name! So saieth the woman who has a cat named "Crunchy.")

"Boomer" had some serious star power, though. Check out that guest list! It's like a who's who of the late 1970s! Todd Bridges, Scott Baio, Tom Bosley, Rosanna Arquette, Michael J. Fox, Roddy McDowell, even Jonathan "Soon to be Riker" Frakes.
Anyway, here's some oh-so-1970s opening credits. Do you remember Boomer? Or Benji?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Funky Food Friday: Pac-Man foods (and a few other things)

Oh, remember when Pac-Man was as big for the 1980s as "Star Wars" for the 1970s? He didn't have the staying power of Luke and Leia, but the little yellow guy sure had some marketing chops. Let's take a look, shall we?

Pac-Man Cereal! Man, this is one catchy jingle, plus like the Brady Bunch as the Silver Platters, they have choreography!

Ms. Pac-Man cereal! Christian Bale is one of the kids in this commercial. Do you think after the camera shut off he swore at the lighting guy?

Pac-Man Pasta. Pac-Man himself sounds like a dolt here, but he has his whole family along for the ride, and they swallow some ghosts whole. Meatballs, no meatballs, or chicken flavor?

Pac-Man: The Cartoon. Hey, how about if we just animate the game and give it some dumb voices?

Pac-Man for the Atari 2600. Oh, how I loved this game. Played it for HOURS. Was it really this bad? In this ad, "Sesame Street's" Mr. Hooper plays it. Love how they have to explain that the game does not come with the console.

Weird Al's "Pac-Man" parody, set to the Beatles "Tax Man." Fan-made video, but the song is still fun.

Eventually, they came out with Pac-Man Underoos, but note that the kids are too embarrassed to wear them -- they want to be superheroes instead, so they kind of just shove the Pac-Man Underoos in there at the end, still in the package.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

MeFi Projects

Are you a Metafilter member? If so, please vote for GenXtinct in Metafilter Projects! THANKS!

Song lyrics that ONLY could have been from the '70s

As a follow-up to yesterday's post, song lyrics that could ONLY have been from the 1970s. Do share your own in the comments.

Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods, "Billy Don't Be a Hero"
"I heard his fiancee got a letter / That told how Billy died that day / The letter said that he was a hero / She should be proud he died that way / I hear she threw the letter away."

CW McCall, "Convoy"
"It was the dark of the moon on the sixth of June / In a Kenworth pullin logs / Cab-over Pete with a reefer on / And a Jimmy haulin hogs / We's headed for bear on eye-one-oh / About a mile outta Shakeytown / I says Pigpen, this here's the Rubber Duck /And I'm about to put the hammer down."

Carl Douglas, "Kung Fu Fighting"
"They were funky China men from funky Chinatown / They were chopping them up and they were chopping them down..."

Paul Anka, "Having My Baby"
"Having my baby / You're a woman in love / And I love what's goin' thru you / The need inside youI see it showin' / Oh, the seed inside you baby / Do you feel it growin'?"

Bread, "Make It With You"
"And if you're wond'ring / What this song is leading to / I want to make it with you."

Helen Reddy, "I Am Woman"
"I am woman watch me grow / See me standing toe to toe / As I spread my lovin' arms across the land / But I'm still an embryo / With a long long way to go / Until I make my brother understand..."

Captain and Tennille, "Muskrat Love"
"Nibbling on bacon, chewin' on cheese / Sammy says to Susie "Honey, would you please be my missus?" / And she says yes With her kisses."

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Song lyrics that ONLY could have been from the '80s

I happened to hear "Breakdance" on the radio the other day (boy, even the 1980s station was embarrassed to be playing that one) and almost drove off the road at the lyric: "Now poppin' and lockin' is a NEEEEEW way of talkin.'" Because man, could that lyric have only existed in the 1980s, or what?

I decided to make a list of song lyrics that could ONLY have worked in the 1980s, and maybe didn't even work then. Some I picked for content, some for style, some because everything about them was so Eighties that they just would not have worked in another decade.

Tomorrow: The 1970s! Your contributions are most welcome in the comments!

Song lyrics that could ONLY have been from the 1980s:

Duran Duran, "The Reflex"
"The reflex is an lonely child, he's waiting in the park / The reflex is in charge of finding treasure in the dark."

Irene Cara, "Breakdance"
"Now popping and locking is a new way of talking / Things will work out for sure spinning 'round on the floor /Breakdancing!"

Buckner & Garcia, "Pac-Man Fever"
"I got all the patterns down / Up until the ninth key / I got Speedy on my tail / And I know it's either him or me"

Billy Joel, "Allentown"
"So the graduations hang on the wall / But they never really helped us at all / No they never taught us what was real / Iron and coke / and chromium steel."

Sting, "Russians"
"Mr. Krushchev said we will bury you / I don't subscribe to this point of view / It would be such an ignorant thing to do / If the Russians love their children too."

Escape Club, "Wild Wild West"
"Mandy's in the backroom handing out Valium / Sheriff's on the airwaves talking to the D.J.'s / Forty-seven heartbeats beating like a drum / Got to live it up live it up / Ronnie's got a new gun."

Jackson Browne, "Lawyers in Love"
"Last night I watched the news from Washington, the capitol / The Russians escaped while we weren't watching them, like Russians will / Now we've got all this room, we've even got the moon / And I hear the U.S.S.R. will be open soon / As vacation land for lawyers in love."

Men at Work, "Down Under"
"Buying bread from a man in Brussels / He was six-foot-four, and fulla muscles / I said do you speaka my language? / He just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich."

Murray Head, "One Night in Bangkok"
"Get Thai'd! You're talking to a tourist / Whose every move's among the purest / I get my kicks above the waistline, sunshine"

Moon Unit Zappa, "Valley Girl"
"Like my mother like makes me do the dishes / Its like so gross...Like all the stuff like sticks to the plates / And it's like, it's like somebody elses food, y'know/ Its like grody...Grody to the max."

Prince, "Sign of the Times"
"In France a skinny man died of a big disease with a little name / By chance his girlfriend came across a needle and soon she did the same / At home there are 17-year-old boys and their idea of fun / Is being in a gang called the Disciples hooked on crack, toting a machine gun."

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Choose Your Own Adventure

Who didn't love Choose Your Own Adventure books?
This fun blog post highlights 10 of the weirdest ones. Ninja Cyborg? Tattoo of Death? You Are A Shark?

Share your memories of CYOA books in the comments!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Classic Clip Monday: The Red Hand Gang

Last week's Classic Clip Monday on The Bloodhound Gang got me thinking about another kid TV gang that I loved. This one's much less known: Give yourself an "A" in retro if you remember "The Red Hand Gang."

(Hey, look! It's on DVD!)

Apparently it only ran for 12 episodes in 1977, but it affected me and my friends and across-the-street cousins so much that I remember we briefly formed a copycat gang. I think we called it The Black Hand Gang. We loved how they left red handprints to show where they'd been. We had a clubhouse and a few meetings and then quickly forgot about it and moved on to other games, but it always stuck in my head.

The show starred Matthew Laborteaux, the dog from "Here's Boomer," and a bunch of other kids that I don't really remember (although one was named James Bond!). However, as with "The Bloodhound Gang," at least one of them has already left this world. The only girl, tomboy Joanne, was played by Jolie Newman, and the New York Times reports she died in 2002. So much sadness.

Here's the goofy opening credits (their "la la la" theme song is not NEARLY as fun as the "Banana Splits" one), and the beginning of the first episode. Kids were always getting kidnapped and tied up and gagged in those days, which is pretty creepy. The kids in "Benji" get the same treatment. Anyway, I digress. YouTube has more clips. The person posting them there says the show was hugely popular in the U.K., which somehow surprises me.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Funky Food Friday: Sugary cereals of the 1980s

Holy crap, why didn't our moms just sit us down at the breakfast table with the sugar bowl and a couple of tubes of food coloring? We probably would have ended up with the same ingredients in our bellies as we did consuming the sugary cereals of our youth.

This YouTube medley features Rainbow Brite cereal (why did RB wear epaulets? was she in the British Navy?), Cap'n Crunch Peanut Butter cereal (yeah, it's part of a balanced breakfast if the rest of your breakfast is broccoli), Cookie Crisp (with the Cookie Crook!), Crispy Critters (this looks like animal crackers to me), a hellishly screechy cereal for a Cocoa Pebbles variant called Dino Pebbles, Marshmallow Krispies, Sugar Smacks (back when it was OK to use "Sugar" in a cereal name), and "Breakfast Bears," which appears to be just Teddy Grahams in a bowl.

What cavity-causing cereal did you eat as a kid? My mom bought Kaboom (remember the clown?) and I think she thought King Vitaman was some kind of compromise between sugary cereal and bran, so she bought a lot of that.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Greg Brady is going to need a bigger boat

OK, first Debbie Gibson starred in "Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus." Now Debbie's arch-nemesis in the '80s bubble-gum-pop-princess wars, Tiffany, has snagged a starring role in SyFy's latest giant fish flick, "Mega Piranha."

Awesome, right? Oh, it gets so much better. Also appearing in this frenzied blend of former pop-culture icons and not-so-special effects: Greg Brady himself, Barry Williams.

If you call on Saturday at 9, 8 Central, you'll get my voicemail.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Hollywood would now like to remake your 8th grade graduation, bar mitzvah, and tuna sandwich

We've posted about Hollywood's insatiable appetite for remaking 1980s TV shows and movies for the big screen before, but this article on lists even more. Let's see if we can make a list:

Clash of the Titans (1981 film remade as 2010 3-D film)
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984 film remade as 2010 film, with '70s icon Jackie Earle Haley!)
The Karate Kid (1984 film remade as 2010 film)

The A-Team (1983 TV series remade as 2010 film)
Red Dawn (1984 film remade as 2010 film)

Predators (1987 film remade/rebooted as 2010 film)

Wall Street (1987 film getting 2010 update as Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps)

Tron Legacy (1982 film remade as 2010 film)

MacGruber (based on 1987 TV show MacGyver as parodied on SNL, will be 2010 film)

21 Jump Street (1987 TV show remade as 2012 film)

Battleship (game to be turned into 2012 film)

Smurfs (1981 TV series to be 2011 film)

The Thing (1981 movie to be remade as 2011 movie)

Poltergeist (1982 movie to be remade as 2011 movie)

Weird Science (1985 movie to possibly be remade)

Mannequin (1987 movie to possibly be remade)

Stretch Armstrong (1980s toy to be turned into 2012 movie)

Monopoly (eternally popular board game to be turned into Ridley Scott movie)

What am I missing? What's the MOST EGREGIOUS remake on this list? How can Battleship and Monopoly even be turned into movies? Is Hungry Hungry Hippos or Slinky next?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Preppy Handbook sequel

I grew up in the Upper Midwest in a most non-preppy family, but yes, I'm pretty sure I owned, or at least read, "The Preppy Handbook" when it was so huge in the 1980s.

Parts of it could have been written in ancient Greek as far as my grokking it was concerned. Boarding school? Monograms? Squash? Trust funds? People named Biff and Chip and Muffy? This was not my world, but it was fun to read about.

And now the original author, Lisa Birnbach, is getting together with the ultra-cool book designer Chip Kidd (please read "The Cheese Monkeys" if you haven't already) for a sequel.
Apparently the new book will talk about how prep has changed, especially in these tough times.
Which is good, because if I was confused by summer houses in the Hamptons and Ivy League colleges back then, they almost seem like a fantasy world belonging to the few blessed types now. Don't rub our noses in your rich families, is what I'm saying.
Still, I'm interested in the section on black preppies, inspired by the Obamas. Apparently the original book had one black person pictured in the entire book. ONE.
The NY Times article also linked to some prepster blogs, which I find fascinating. It didn't mention Melissa C. Morris, but it should have. Here are the two it mentioned: Summer Is a Verb and Monograms and Manicures. Again, not my life, not my world, but I'm still kind of secretly fascinated.

Also: Here's a 1979 Atlantic Monthly cover story that kind of drove the wave.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Classic Clip Monday: The Bloodhound Gang from 3-2-1 Contact

Whenever there's trouble, we're there on the double, we're the Bloodhound Gang!
If you've got the criiiiiime, we've got the tiiiiiime, we're the Bloodhound Gang!

When people started talking about a music group called the Bloodhound Gang, I was always confused, because this group of kid sleuths from "3-2-1 Contact!" was what I thought of (Watch the "3-2-1 Contact!" theme and opening credits here.) According to Wikipedia, the band named themselves after the kid segment! Rock on!

Sad news, though: According to the OTHER Bloodhound Gang's Wiki entry, the segments were discontined after one of the three young stars, Marcelino Sanchez, died in 1986 at age 28. His Wiki entry says it was of "AIDS-related cancer." He also had roles in "The Warriors" and on "CHiPs."

Friday, April 2, 2010

Sorry, Charlie

RIP John Forsythe. Yes, he starred on "Dynasty," but to me, he is forever the voice of Charles Townsend, the mysterious, never-seen man who took three little girls (!) away from their hazardous police duties, and had them work for him.

Funky Food Friday: Thanks, Easter Bunny!

There was nothing like waking up on Easter morning and checking out what kind of candy that hippity-hoppity hare left behind. Speckled malted milk balls and Cadbury Eggs? Awesome. Black jelly beans? Not so much. What were your favorite Easter treats?

We can probably all agree that this M&Ms commercial is as sweet as anything in our Easter baskets:

Bawk bawk!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Worst decorating trends

How are we not surprised that so many of the worst decorating trends of all time come from our childhoods in the 1970s and 1980s?

Shag carpeting! Orange Formica! Bean bag chairs! Popcorn ceilings!

I grew up with orange and red shag carpeting in my childhood bedroom, and I hated, hated, hated it, because I could not make anything like Legos or Lincoln Logs stand up on it.

Tell us about the design of your childhood home. Did any of these horrendous trends live there? Did you have an avocado refrigerator? We had a dark brown one...