Monday, May 31, 2010

Classic Clip Monday: Bionic Woman and Six Million Dollar Man

Oh, who didn't love the Bionic Woman and the Six Million Dollar Man?

I actually never got into Steve Austin's stories, but once they introduced Jaime Sommers, I was hooked. I even had the doll--she had this weird kind of rubbery skin you could roll back so you could mess with her bionics.
These shows have never been out on DVD before, but supposedly they're on their way.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Goodbye, Gary Coleman

Farewell, Gary Coleman. You had a life that was both full of opportunity and reward and also of physical and emotional challenges and pain.

How much is that doggie in the window?

Remember when mall pet stores were as common as, well, pets?

Now they're rare, and that's probably for the best, but I have to say I have many fond memories of running into the pet store at Rosedale Mall hoping they had puppies and kittens for me to see.

Funky Food Friday: Jell-O 1-2-3

Psst! Here's a secret. You can still make Jell-O 1-2-3 at home even though they don't sell the boxed mix any more. I tried the one from Carolyn Wyman's book, "Jell-O: A Biography," and it was pretty spot-on!

Loved this short-lived product. It was so cool to see the layers separate! One was like Jello, one like pudding, and one kinda like sweetened foam insulation, but we loved it.

Just discovered The Metal Misfit's nostalgia blog, and he's got a fun post about Jell-O 1-2-3.

Were you a fan?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Showbiz? Chuck E. Cheese? Farrell's? Shakeys?

OK, Showbiz and Chuck E. Cheese kinda came along after I was too old for a pizza parlor birthday. I was of the Farrell's and Shakey's era, you? Do you remember where your pals had their parties, and what you did? No video games in my memory of these parties, but I remember lots of LOUD LOUD LOUD ragtime music, not-so-hot pizza, and some enormous ice cream sundae thingamabobs.

Was it Farrell's that had the Zoo, with plastic animals on a gigantic sundae? Yes, according to this page. These folks visited a Farrell's in 2003, and watched a Zoo being made and delivered. It's 40 scoops of ice cream! And bells and sirens go off when it's served!

Here's an awesome 1974 commercial showing a Farrell's Zoo being delivered. It weighs 8.5 pounds!

But whichever birthday-party era you're from, don't miss this gaggingly poorly acted video where Showbiz Pizza tries to tell its staffers how to sell its parties.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

'Grease' singalong: You're the one that I want

Who didn't love "Grease"? Apparently they're re-releasing a spiffed-up version to theaters for two weeks starting July 8, with lyrics provided to encourage audiences to sing along.
(At last, we'll finally learn the words to "Greased Lightning"...) Also, I always thought Sandy was pregnant in the final scene and that she was singing "that my baby's justified..." but apparently it was "that my faith is justified...

I think even at the time we realized that the actors were in no way high-school age (Travolta was 23, Olivia Newton-John 28, Stockard Channing a whopping 33). And Rydell was like no high school we ever saw, 1950s or not. But man, we loved it. The songs, the acting, and most of all these weird little scenes that just jammed themselves into our heads.

Remember the slumber party, with the girl singing "Brusha, brusha, brusha...get the new Ipana!" Our generation never had Ipana toothpaste, but we know what it is, thanks to that. Remember the drive-in movie scene with the cartoon hot dog that jumps into the bun at the end? That's a sex joke the filmmakers snuck in there, I later read. Didn't get THAT at the time, but loved the dancing concessions. And I remember being semi-terrified that Danny Zuko was going to lose Greased Lightning in the race (later parodied to excellent success by "My Name Is Earl").

My friend Gretchen somehow ended up with two copies of this album (album! vinyl!) and gave me one. I remember being a little bummed because the one she gave me didn't have the sleeve, which was all decked out with Rydell High graffiti and fake yearbook signatures.

Let the kids today have their "High School Musical." We had the REAL one.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

"Melrose Place" gets an eviction notice

The CW's "Melrose Place" reboot is history. Apparently adding Heather Locklear to a show isn't the fail-safe everyone thought it was. Did you check out this one-season wonder? We tuned in to the pilot, just to see if it captured the goofy, soapy, wacky, bad-actory charm of the original. Short review: No. No, it did not.

But sweet Andrew Shue, the original series, which ran from 1992 - '99 on FOX, was a box full of broadcast caramel corn. You knew it was terrible for you, and it made you a little bit sick. But dang if it wasn't pretty tasty: Constant doormat Jane and her "deee-signs." Kimberly and her murderous streak. Michael and his smug doctorly shenanigans. Billy and his blandness. And especially Amanda, all short skirts and gleeful backstabbery.

So no, we won't lament the new series, but we do have to give a tip o' the hat to the original, in all its delightfully dysfunctional glory.

What did you love -- or hate -- about the show?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Classic Clip Monday: I said, Young Man!

How much did we love The Village People?

Like KISS, they dressed in costume, and seriously to kids, all bands should wear costumes, it made watching them much more interesting. Gay? We had no idea what that meant or that it even applied. We just wanted to wear that cool Indian headdress and spell out YMCA with our hands.

But YMCA wasn't the only cool song. Ma-cho, ma-cho maaaan! (Or, as Homer Simpson sang it, Na-cho, Na-cho maaaaan!) IN the NA-vy, you can sail the seven seas!

Embedded below is an awesome video of The Muppets doing "In the Navy" dressed as Vikings. (Not the Minnesota Vikings, the warrior Vikings.) And here's the real Village People, equally awesome.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Leggings! Triple-rolled socks! Leopard spotted pants!

For fans of The Babysitters Club books: What Claudia Wore.

Really, this should be called "What DIDN'T Claudia Wear?" Girl never met a wacky fashion trend she didn't like. I didn't read these books, but I still found the site hilarious.

Final resting place

The summer before Kelly was born, Sue and I visited Westwood Memorial Park in LA, right near UCLA.

They've apparently expanded it a bit, and now Farrah Fawcett is buried there, in a beautiful new section of the park.
It's a great little cemetery to visit. Marilyn Monroe, Truman Capote, Minnie Riperton, Natalie Wood, Liz Taylor's parents, Carroll O'Connor, Peggy Lee, Dominique Dunne, Walter Matthau, Brian Keith, Dean Martin ... so many famous names rest there.
If you go, print out this map and take it along, because otherwise you will be wandering around cluelessly. I got at least one angry e-mail when I wrote about the visit, but too bad. I love cemeteries and am always respectful.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Puss 'n Boots

Retroist fans voted this Puss N Boots cat food commercial best of the week.

I don't remember seeing it and it may predate me. The cat is goshdarn cute, but that sultry woman's voice coming out of the cat as she talks to the squeaky-voiced bag boy is rather unnerving.

Flavor Pacs does not seem like that big a deal, but having a premeasured amount of cat food is admittedly pretty smart.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Inky, Blinky, Pinky and...Clyde?

This link won't last, but it's apparently Pac-Man's 30th birthday, and Google has a neat simulation you can play.

While we're talking Pac-Man, did you see this post, about a great copycat version?

And this one, on Pac-Man cereal, pasta, etc., etc., etc?

Funky Food Friday: Burger Chef Works bar

Burger Chef is gone now, but as a kid, I would rather go there than McDonald's because Burger Chef had the WORKS bar. You could order your burger totally plain (or maybe you had to?) and then trotted over to the condiment bar and did it up yourself.

I hated mustard and never understood why every burger chain put it on as a matter of course, so the Works bar was my saviour. (They also had one of the first salad bars I ever saw, back when they weren't nearly as common.)

Looking back I can still remember thinking Burger Chef's burgers tasted a little funny...I suspect they were flame-broiled a la Burger King, and that always tasted weird to me. But they had Fun Meals even before McDonald's had Happy Meals, and they got REALLY into "Star Wars" and had a ton of movie-related toys. (Also, Monster Fun Records -- who remembers these?)

Here's an ad teaching Americans of the 1970s how to use the Works bar. Incrediburgible!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sleestaks are scaaaary

Inspired by yesterday's post, what kiddie TV shows gave you nightmares? Or in other words, inspired by the name of the guy who beat Arlen Specter, how scary were the Sleestaks from "Land of the Lost"?

They were reptiles! But they were kinda insecty! And sorta human! They make a horrible hissing sound! They have horns, and bulby eyes! They were ... so slow you could walk away from them, but we never really realized that.

Just the name was creepy. Sleeeee-stak. When my friend Lisa and I were in college, we would sometimes walk to her house from school, and we always passed a dentist who had a name a lot like Sleestak, and we could NEVER not comment on it.

According to Wikipedia, there were only three Sleestak costumes, that had to be shared. And as Rob always reminds me, ex-NBAer Bill Lambeer filled one of them, because they went to his high school and got some tall guys to volunteer.

Did Sleestaks freak you out, or were there other TV baddies who haunted your dreams?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Ship ahoy!

I had no idea Disneyland once had a pirate ship restaurant.

Man, they need to reopen this, because it looks soooo cool.

PeeChee art

I never had PeeChee folders, but apparently they were a doodle maniac's favorite school supply.

Did you have them? Did you draw on them?

NPH is so Smurfy

Video: Neil Patrick Harris talks about "Glee" and "The Smurfs" movie.

Twisty, turny TV

Sunday's "Lost" finale got us thinking about the weirdest shows from our childhoods.

I think we all agree that a Krofft show -- any Krofft show -- was a one-way ticket to Crazytown. "H.R. Pufnstuf" was a half-hour long freak-out (puff and stuff, indeed). "The Bugaloos" were in the air and everywhere, flying high. And "Lidsville" had to be the wackiest thing Sid & Marty ever put on videotape. "Lost's" hatch, smoke monster and island-moving donkey-wheel ain't got nothing on a world full of talking hats and Charles Nelson Reilly.

Weird? Uh, yeah. But as far as twisty, turny and trippy shows go, "Lost" owes a Hurley-sized debt to "The Prisoner," the 1967-68 classic. Just like "Lost," the show's idyllic setting was just a cover for its freaky experiments, duplicitious residents and mysterious security system (in "Prisoner's" case, a giant bouncing ball) that chased you if you tried to escape. And also just like "Lost," it asked more questions than it answered.

Be seeing you...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Earrings of the '80s

My pal Jenny and some of her friends are Seattle thrift-sale regulars, and they found this 1986 earrings catalog which simply has to be seen to be believed.

I love their comments, and most of all, I love the photos. Confession: I had (may still have...) several pairs of earrings that, if not identical, were awfully darn similar to these.

Come on! Some of you did too, right? The plastic shapes in rainbow colors? The dangling hearts? The whatever those things are that look like two U shapes stuck together at an angle? The plaid shapes that remind me of when Scottie dogs and tartans were super popular? The dangly fake plastic feather shapes that remind me of those feathered roach clips they sold at the State Fair and pretended were hair clips?

Until I was 22, I do not think I owned a single pair of earrings that was not bought of the "3 pair for Whatever" rack at Claire's Boutique in the mall. Clas-say.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Kanga, kanga, kangaroo

I confess: I loved the arcade game Kangaroo, with the kangaroo wearing boxing gloves and hopping around punching monkeys and fruit. But I had no idea it had a Saturday morning cartoon. Thanks, Retroist!

By the light of the full moon...

Warning: Not necessarily safe for work. Apparently an extra in 1985's "Teen Wolf" decided to let his own, uh, teen wolf out of his pants in a crowd scene. And it made it into the film. You have been warned.

Supply your own titian hair

Want to dress like Nancy Drew? Specifically, from the cover of "The Hidden Staircase"? Here you go!

As my friend Lisa, probably the best Nancy Drew fashion observer out there, says: "It's amazing how expensive that blah outfit would be."

Classic Clip Monday: Mad Monster Party

Ohhhh, I LOVED Mad Monster Party. I'll go as far as to say it was my favorite of all the Rankin/Bass specials, more so than Snow Miser and Heat Miser, or Hermey the wannabe dentist, or any of those Christmas specials. I just adored monsters that weren't too frightening, and Francesca was one cool chick.

PopBunker has a great post reminiscing about the special. Were you a fan? Did you like the other Rankin/Bass offerings, or did they creep you out?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

...and if you can find them...

"A-Team"action figures, to go with the big-screen movie due out June 11. (Same day as "Karate Kid" remake...)

Ronnie James Dio dead at 67

Ronnie James Dio dead of stomach cancer at 67.

I had no idea he supposedly helped invent the devil horns hand gesture.

The Truffle Shuffle

The Truffle Shuffle! Not to be confused with the Curly Shuffle, Shuffle off to Buffalo, or that fancy card shuffle where they make an arc through the air.

Ain't no bully like an '80s bully

Ain't no bully like an '80s bully 'cause an '80s bully don't stop. (Thanks to the lovely Francine Ruley for the link!)

Saturday, May 15, 2010


Oh great. TBS is making a frat boy comedy set in 1980s Wisconsin. DUUUUUUDE!


Remember Choco'Lite? It had little holes in it like someone sucked all the puffed rice out, and a cool little fan pattern on top of each piece.
Aero Bar is similar, but just not the same.

Also, that is the most 70s-themed candy wrapper ever. Earth tones! Chubby font!

Photo credit: Jason Liebig,

Hell, no, the sun won't come out tomorrow

The Little Orphan Annie comic strip is ending, at least in print. They're going to keep a presence online, which...yeah, the online generation and the Little Orphan Annie generation are about three wars apart.

Admittedly, this is one of the comic strips I skipped over every Sunday, along with "Prince Valiant." (Don't hit me, Lisa!) How about you? Were you fans of any of the soap-operay strips, or just Peanuts and Fox Trot?

Hitting the bottle

Retroland is reminiscing about WAX BOTTLES!

Loved these things. My parents bought them when we went up to our weekend farm in Wisconsin (they got things backwards--most Minnesotans had lake cabins for weekend fun, my dad and mom decided to live on a lake and go up to work and sweat on a farm on the weekends...don't ask). We always got them at Ben Franklin in small-town Wisconsin, along with candy buttons (of which I know I consumed more paper than candy.)

We were discussing them on the Gen Xtinct Facebook page, and some people loved 'em, some thought they were a waste of candy, and others debate how to eat them...bite the head off the bottle and suck out the Kool-Aid like juice, or chew the whole thing up at once. I was a head-biter-offer.

Just the good ol' boys...

I think my nieces' first words were "BoDuke!" and "LukeDuke!"

Here's a look at how the "Dukes of Hazzard" cast look today. Catherine Bach's still got it goin' on.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Funky Food Friday: Otter Pops!

I had never heard of Otter Pops until I met Rob.

Did we not have them in the Midwest? We had similar things, but I think we just called them Freeze Pops, and they didn't have cool animal mascots like Little Orphan Orange and Louie Bloo-Raspberry.

I remember this kind of pop so distinctly, weird it was to hold them before they were frozen, how you always had to get scissors to open the tube, how messy the last drops got as you tried to chase every last bit of flavor out of the tube. Stickylicious.
What was your favorite frozen treat? Did you have Otter Pops in your area? I confess, given a choice, I'd take a Fudgcicle any time...or a Pudding Pop!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Thanks for the memories

We interrupt our daily reminiscences of all things ‘70s and ‘80s for a quick update about our book. We’re thrilled to announce that after more than eight months of spending our nights and weekends immersed in memories of Six-Million-Dollar Man dolls, Chocodiles and Love’s Baby Soft, we submitted “Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops?” to our editor at Penguin’s Perigee Books late yesterday.

We fully expect plenty of rewrites and additional work on it before it’s published in Summer 2011, but for now, we’re basking in the glow of that FedEx receipt. We just wanted to say thanks for all the phenomenal discussion on the blog and our Facebook page. Your memories and feedback on the topics we’ve posted have been instrumental in helping us shape the manuscript, and we’re really excited for you to see the finished book.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Gael and Brian

Vroom, vroom!

43 years after his father's failed stunt, Evel Knievel's son Robbie is going to try to jump Snake River Canyon in 2011.

Did you tune in to see Evel back in 1974, when he strapped himself into his rocket-powered "Sky-Cycle" and attempted to shoot across the quarter-mile-wide Idaho canyon? I did -- to a six-year-old kid, is there anything better than watching a jumpsuited daredevil shoot across the sky in a rocket? Um, nope.

Evel didn't make it across, and escaped with only minor injuries. I promptly asked Santa Claus for the Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle. You know, the one with the base that you frantically wound up and launched the bendable Evel and his cycle across the living room like a red, white and blue bullet. (That's me with my prized possession.)

After a bone-crunching wipeout, you could dust off Evel’s tiny doppelganger, bend his twisted limbs back into shape, jam him back on the cycle and force him to do it all again without so much as an St. Joseph’s chewable aspirin to dull the pain. Hope Robbie did a lot of practicing with that thing.

Here's video of Evel's big jump.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sad news

Dana Plato killed herself with pills 11 years ago. Now her son, 25, has shot himself. What a damaged family. Kimberly Drummond seemed to have it all...

Romper Stompers

I pity da fool who didn't have ROMPER STOMPERS!

I remember them cracking and eventually kind of falling apart, but man, they held up pretty well considering all the abuse we gave them.

Break-in songs (Mr. Jaws!)

If a schoolkid turned in an assignment that borrowed lines from other people’s writing, the teacher would call him a cheater. But when Dickie Goodman did it with music, people called him a genius.

We never knew what they were called -- I just thought of them as those fake-news jokey songs--but they were actually called “break-in” songs. They featured Goodman delivering comedy lines that led into snippets of popular songs of the day.

These corny-as-Mazola parodies covered everything from the energy crisis to “Star Wars.” One classic number, 1975’s “Mr. Jaws,” took a bite out of the hit shark movie. (“Mr. Jaws, why are you grabbing my hand?” “Woooooouldn’t you give your hand to a friend?”)

Kids didn’t catch every reference in the songs (“King Faisal?”), but they loved hearing bits of familiar hits played for laughs. It was early training for a love of parody that would be fed by “Saturday Night Live” and Weird Al Yankovic.

And once you heard one of Goodman's parodies, you couldn't help it -- those lyrics were forever marked as punchlines, and when you heard them out of context ( the song they actually came from), you couldn't help put replay the break-in song in your head.

Goodman’s son Jon is still making break-in songs using his dad’s voice and cutting in snippets from modern musical hits. And, of course, rappers use Goodman’s technique all the time – they just call it sampling.
Which break-in songs do you remember best?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Here's where Cameron goes berserk

Love this: Ferris Bueller's Twitter account.

He's not the only cool dude from the movie who's in with the new media.
That movie, for me, was one of the few films that is just about as close to perfect as it can get. Truly inspired, Mister Hughes. We will always miss you.
Were you a Ferris fan? Share your favorite line or scene in the comments.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Classic Clip Monday: Bradys NUDE?

Matt at the wonderful Scrubbles posted this in honor of Ann B. Davis' birthday (happy belated 84th, Alice!) last week, and I just saw it now. Apparently this scene was snipped out of "Brady Bunch" reruns, and I'm pretty sure I never saw it before.

Go ahead and watch it, and tell us if it isn't a little creepy that they wrote a scene where Alice sees Bobby and Cindy nude...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day!

Mr. T pities da fool who don't treat their mother right.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Funky Food Friday: Drinks from vending machines

Sure, hot-beverage dispensers are still around, but when was the last time you had a vending machine serve you up a soda pop in a paper cup? They once ruled hospital, office and school cafeterias, serving up a floor show with your beverage. You inserted your change, listened to the mysterious clunking and whirring, and the machine spat out a cup. If you were lucky, it fell out right-side up and managed to teeter to its feet before things really got fun. Your chosen liquid issued forth, and you slid open a small door and took delivery of a wet, eight-ounce miracle.

If you weren’t lucky, you got no cup, and were treated to the sight of your drink pouring down the service panel’s small drain. If you were creatively unlucky, your cup popped out upside-down. Really, putting money into one of these was like feeding the slots. You might get something, or you might get nothin’ and like it.

Still, there was something Jetsonsy about these drink dispensers, something magical about how they mixed the syrup and the soda water at your request, about the whole whizz and purr of it all. We never got the food replicator promised us by “Star Trek,” but if this bit of sci-fi wasn’t worth an occasional wasted quarter, we don’t know what was.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Hippity Hops! Hoppity Hops? Hoppity Horses?

My niece and I had these when we were kids, and so did my cousins, who lived across the street from us. Man, we spent hours on the things. Days, even.

Did you have them? Did you call them Hippity Hops, Hoppity Hops, or Hoppity Horses?

We had the red and blue ones with horse heads, and called then Hoppity Horses, I think.

Retroland has some great memories and photos. I love this person's memory: "I never had one, but every time we went to K mart, I'd race to the toy section and grab a Hippity Hop. I'm sure the store employees were not that thrilled with me hopping all over the aisles."

Retroland also lists Hoppity/Hippity Hops/Horses on their list of the Top Five Outdoor Toys, which also includes Frisbee. Super Soakers, Big Wheels and Slip N Slides.

I didn't know anyone who had the ones with the Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse heads, though. But it was soooo much fun to bounce.

They still sell similar toys, but they're not exactly the same.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Star Wars stuff

So talk to us about the "Star Wars" toys you had as a kid.

It seems like everyone I knew -- at least every boy -- for a certain time period had "Star Wars" bedsheets and pillowcases. But there were plenty of other toys, too, from action figures to replicas of the Death Star to cheesy Halloween costumes to complex playsets that only the rich kid on your block ever owned.

My pal Kristin talked to a "Star Wars" expert about his top 10 products related to the franchise. These aren't all old toys though -- the Tauntaun sleeping bag that started out as a joke is in there. Come on, the Darth Vader toaster is the best. I had one of the comics -- I remember it was huge, way oversized, and retold the second part of the movie. I think my mom didn't get that it didn't cover the whole movie, because I never had part one. I was kinda bummed out that I got part two, which did not include my favorite scene -- the garbage compactor.

What "Star Wars" items/toys/books/clothes did you have? Or want, but never get?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Barbie's least-inspiring careers

Barbie's a computer geek this year, but Huffington Post has a slideshow of the least inspiring Barbie careers.

McDonald's employee! Miss America! American Idol winner! Aerobics instructor! Some of these aren't really uninspiring, but flipping through the slideshow is pretty fun, anyway.
Which Barbie did you -- or your friend, sister, or cousin -- have?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Mary Ingalls returns to the prairie

Fun excerpt from Melissa Sue Anderson's book, talking about auditioning and meeting Michael Landon.

And also realizing Mary was the total goody-goody and Laura got to have all the fun.

Classic Clip Monday: Love, Sidney

Man, how do I not remember this show at ALL?

"Love, Sidney" starred Tony Randall as a gay man who helps raise the five-year-old daughter of a single mom friend.

Apparently it was the first series to feature a gay central character, although the Wikipedia entry notes that his homosexuality was downplayed after the pilot.

Do NOT remember this at all, do you? I love Tony Randall, but the theme song, however, comes off like a bunch of fifth-graders wrote it for their school talent show. "Friends forever!'

Bob Kempe, I KNOW you remember this, since you mention that finding out your future wife knew all the lyrics sealed the deal on your marriage! That's what inspired me to dig up the link!