Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Have you seen this house decked out in an awesome "Thriller" light show? Pretty much the reason YouTube was invented, far as we're concerned:

Friday, October 29, 2010

Funky Food Friday: Space Food Sticks

Back in the '70s, there was no cooler job than astronaut - as evidenced by all the kids hopping around their backyards in Moon Boots, wearing salad spinners on their heads and pretending to shoot martians with battery-operated laser guns. And to help them train for their arduous journey into space, there were Space Food Sticks.

Kind of like a Tootsie Roll, but mushier, Space Food Sticks were available in three flavors -- chocolate, peanut butter and caramel. Like the cheese sticks of the future, they came in little individual sleeves, and -- in that pre-protein bar era -- promised to provide a boost, no matter if you were playing baseball, football, or skipping through the park with your kids (at least that's how they portrayed it in the vintage commercial, below).

Check out this sexy copy from the original box: "The energy snack developed by Pillsbury under a government contract, in support of the U.S. Aerospace program."


If you're feeling brave, you can order some of the out-of-this-world (sorry) snacks here.

Thanks to Michelle R. for the idea!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

"Magic," aka "That freaky ventriloquism movie"

Aaaugh, the movie trailer for 1978's "Magic" freaked me out. (Let's hope no one at a video store gets mixed up trying to rent this other one and gets the '78 gem instead. The kids will be scarred for life.)

I have never seen the film, and I don't really care to, but something about this ugly dummy just creeps me.

Did anyone see it? Is it as scary as the preview promises?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Station wagons

They're just not out there any more. Sure, there are some Suburu Outbacks (I always type that "Suburb-u") and a few other cars that are kind of a cross between hatchbacks and regular cars, but there aren't the kind of station wagons we grew up with.

I think my mom had the Ford Country Squire, with the fakey wood paneling strip on it. The Wikipedia entry talks about how the original was a woodie, and then they moved into the fake wood detailing. Clas-say, my family was.

Oldsmobile had the Vista Cruiser, which came with a unique feature, a bumpy little glass skylight dome thing. (This is the car Eric Forman drove in "That 70s Show," and that was crushed in "National Lampoon's Vacation.)

Wikipedia says station wagons started to fade with the 70s gas shortages, but I remember them being everywhere that decade. It was really the introduction of the minivans, which Baby Boomers mistakenly felt were cooler than station wagons, that put the final nail in the coffin of station wagons. I always silently cheer when I see one on the road today.

Station is a fun trip down memory lane. What station wagon did you ride in? Did you fight to sit in the way back and wave at the drivers on the road behind you?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"It's Your Move"

I loved "It's Your Move," a short-lived sitcom with Jason Bateman and Tricia Cast. (Nina on "Young and the Restless.")

I forgot the plot, but he was a kid con artist, who in the pilot invented a fictional band that ended up in the Rock Hall of Fame. (This reminds me of that M*A*S*H episode about the captain Hawkeye and Trapper made up, Tuttle.)

Just look how young Jason Bateman looked! I loved his fat friend Eli, too. And look what happened to that guy!

Monday, October 25, 2010

"Back to the Future"

So, apparently time travel is real. Feels like it, anyway -- no amount of Flux Capacitor-fueled DeLoreans could make time zip by the way the last 25 years have. Case in point: Marty McFly first went “Back to the Future” a quarter-century ago (!), and to celebrate, the whole trilogy is being released on DVD and, for the first time, Blu-ray.

Much of the cast appeared on the Today Show on Tuesday, including Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Mary Steenburgen and director Robert Zemeckis. Plus Huey Lewis!

Wasn’t it just yesterday we were settling in with a bucket of popcorn and a Pepsi Free and watching Crispin Glover tell Caroline in the City that he was her density, marveling at Doc’s crazy hair, or wondering how Marty’s girlfriend Jennifer mysteriously transformed into Elisabeth Shue between the first and second movies?

So, just how accurate were “Back to the Future’s” future-world predictions? Check out this awesome tally from of 11 things that actually came true, and three that haven’t yet.

And here's the original movie trailer. McFly!

Classic Clip Monday: Enjoli

Oh, MAN, how memorable is this commercial, for better or worse.

I can bring home the bacon...
Fry it up in a pan...
And never never never let you forget YOU'RE a man...
'cause I'm a woman, Enjoli!

And then the lesser-known, but possibly EVEN MORE ANNOYING second verse

I can work till five o'clock
Come home and read your tickety-tock (what the hell? They really were reaching for a line here, right?)
And if it's lovin' you want I can kiss you and give you the shivvvvvvery bit (W. T. F.???)

I highly, highly admire the 1980s curled perfection of this woman's hair, however. And I realize now that Charles of the Ritz was trying to portray the 1980s superwoman, working a full shift, cooking meals, having teh sex, and reading to the kids, hopefully not in that order. Dream on, Enjoli Lady.
Do you remember this ad, or was it just me?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Funky Food Friday: Hostess Fruit Pies

For me, Hostess Fruit Pies were the sad stepchild of the Hostess family, forever overshadowed by cupcakes, Twinkies, Ho-Hos and Ding-Dongs. Why make it if it didn't have cake, was my motto?

But some people -- generally those same folks who would pick dinner over dessert every time -- LOVED them. And I must admit, they had their charms. The weird shape, more like a glazed donut taco than a pie. The glaze itself -- unnecessary but glorious. The bizarre filings--remember chocolate and lemon? And of course, Fruit Pie the Magician and those wonderful comic-book ads.

If you haven't read Seanbaby's wonderful pages devoted to the Fruit Pie comic-book ads, you need to quit your job right now to allot yourself the correct amount of time to pore over his work. (Other Hostess products get ads too, but Fruit Pies seem to pop up more than the rest.) Seanbaby's commentary takes what are already ridiculous ads and pushes them over the top, as with this Green Lantern ad.

Fruit Pie the Magician was kind of a total dolt though, as in this ad below, where he has to be saved by Twinkie the Kid. Oh, and Fruit Pies are not to be confused with the short-lived, and to my mind, utterly superior, Ninja Turtle Pudding Pies.

Did you eat these, or did you prefer the cakey side of the family? Which Fruit Pies were the best, and which were absolutely horrible? I'm suspecting the answer to the last part of that question is "blueberry."

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Rubik's Cube

The rainbow-colored square is so iconic that it sometimes can stand in for the entire 1980s as an icon, the way that a yellow smiley face or a disco ball can for the 1970s or a peace sign for the 1960s: The Rubik's Cube.

There were people who got really into them and could solve any cube in a minute flat, and people who worked with them for hours. Most of us, though, had a brief moment when we were dedicated cubers, then either gave up and shoved them under the couch or started peeling the stickers off to fake it.

The original cube is 30 this year. It set off a number of spinoff versions as they tried to keep the craze alive, but the only one I really remember is Rubik's Snake. Anyone ever try that?

Oh, and who could forget the cartoon? (Yes, a cartoon) Rubik The Amazing Cube! Menudo sang its theme song, in what is perhaps the most perfect synergy of an uber-80s product and an uber-80s band.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Quincy, M.E.

I loved "Quincy, M.E." Jack Klugman, with that raspy voice and air of authority. And the show's mysteries were always fascinating, and you forgot that they involved dead bodies being cut up and pushed around.

I love this summary, from Wikipedia:

"Many of the episodes follow a set formula:
Somebody dies, seemingly by natural causes.
Quincy notices something that causes him to suspect foul play.
He then changes roles from medical examiner to detective, by refusing to release the body and sign off on the cause of death, to Dr. Asten's disapproval.
Asten gets upset, believing Quincy is seeing evidence that doesn't exist, and urges the doctor to speedily conclude his investigations and accept the obvious. Lt. Monahan's feathers are ruffled too as Quincy "shoulders-in" on police territory.
Quincy argues quite loudly with some bureaucratic individual impeding the case.
Quincy solves the murder."

I also loved the intro, where you think Quince is examining a corpse but it's really a hot babe on his boat. And when he is examining a corpse, all the cops watching faint.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Garbage Pail Kids

Who didn't love Garbage Pail Kids, even if you were outwardly too cool for them?

It was awesome to find your own name (Impaled Gail was as close as you were gonna get to my spelling). If you had a common name, like Brian's, you might get a choice of cards (Booger Brian, Fryin' Brian, Brainy Brian.) Better than that was if you had an enemy, and you found THEIR card, especially if it was a really negative one (Nasty Nancy!).
I was a little old for GPKs when they came out, but I always loved Wacky Packs and Mad Magazine, and really, this was just another jaunt down that road of goofy gross-out parodies. Topps is now releasing Flashback sets, so you can trip down memory lane with such cards as Rappin' Ron (a Ron Reagan lookalike) and Have a Nice Dave (yellow smiley face dude).

Monday, October 18, 2010

Classic Clip Monday: "Manimal"

Actor Simon MacCorkindale, who starred in the 1983 TV series “Manimal,” died on Thursday. That sad news got us thinking about the show -- for the first time in a long time. Raise your hand – er, paw? – if you remember this short-lived NBC gem.

MacCorkindale’s Dr. Jonathan Chase fought crime by turning into an animal – what’s not to like? Heck, it was like he was Jayna from the SuperFriends, without the lame brother who turned into a bucket of water. Really, the entire premise was spelled out in the name of the show. You could pretty much figure out that every week he’d turn into a panther, a hawk or a donkey, just from the title. (The show has extra nerd cache because it also starred Melody Anderson, who was Dale Arden in the so-terrible-it-was-awesome 1980 version of “Flash Gordon.”)

Here’s a look at the opening credits. Growl!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Funky Food Friday: Orville Redenbacher

Even though nearly everything about him screamed made-up company mascot, Orville Redenbacher was much more than just a spokesperson: He was the brains behind the operation. Back in 1965, he and his business partner perfected a popcorn hybrid that was fluffier than traditional kernels, and had fewer hulls.

After selling the stuff from the trunk of his car, he went national in 1976, with his first commercial. Orville showed off just how much fluffier it popped, and promised, "You'll like it better or my name isn't Orville Redenbacher."

Redenbacher died in 1995. And in 2007, brand owner ConAgra launched a controversial ad campaign starring a CG version of Redenbacher. Remember that one? Even though it creeped out all of America, grandson Gary Redenbacher thought Orville would have approved:

"Grandpa would go for it. He was a cutting-edge guy," Gary told USA Today. "This is a way to honor his legacy."

See what you think. Here's the creepy ad, and the 1976 spot that started it all:

Thursday, October 14, 2010

"Dukes of Hazzard"

Oh man, who didn't love "Dukes of Hazzard"? I think my niece's first word was "Boduke!"

Bo, Luke, Daisy and Uncle Jesse, Cletus and Boss Hogg, Rosco P. Coltrane...the characters are inscribed on our minds. I have no idea what anyone was thinking, though, when they replaced Bo and Luke with "cousins" Coy and Vance. Well, sure I do -- they wanted to keep the money machine cranking while they worked out a contract dispute with John Schneider and Tom Wopat. But it was incredibly lame nonetheless.

So many memories of this show. Hood slidin' with the General Lee! Daisy's shorts, later dubbed Daisy Dukes in her honor! (I love when she kicks the cop in the butt with her high heels and steals the squad car in the credits.) Boss Hogg's white suits! The names Cletus and Cooter and Enos...hoo, boy. (Cooter now has a museum.) The kick-ass Waylon Jennings narration and theme song. Some day, the mountain might get 'em but the law never will. There was at least one kid in every school with a "Dukes" lunchbox.

Did you know "Dukes" was inspired by this 1975 film, "Moonrunners"? Based on the life of a real guy, Jerry Rushing, who had a fascinating life indeed.

Got any "Dukes" memories? Were you a Bo fan, or a rare Luke lover?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Join us on Facebook and Twitter

Are you on Facebook? We have a pretty lively community going on there -- just Like the page and you can comment away, and also post your own links.

You can also follow us on Twitter.


OK, I'll say it: I never quite knew what Ten-O-Six did, or if it did anything.

It was an orange bottled face antiseptic from Bonne Bell with a really distinctive smell. (Imagine opening the smooth white top, putting a cotton ball to the liquid and dabbing it on your face. You can smell it, can't you? I wish the Web had smell-o-vision!)

I don't think moms in the 1980s sat down with their daughters and went over makeup and acne cleansing and all that stuff. They probably do now, since all we hear about is how helicopter parents practically move in to the dorms with their kids. But back then, we were pretty much winging it, with the help of whatever beauty products were on sale at Target or Walgreen's, tips from our friends, and Seventeen magazine. (Speaking of Seventeen, here's a really fun post (link fixed!) where a woman travels down memory lane with the help of a 1982 copy of Seventeen. I remember every single ad in this issue.)

I didn't realize that Bonne Bell moved to Australia and cut back on their American product distribution, but that's what Wikipedia says. (They also note that Ten-O-Six is a "camphor astringent" and was briefly discontinued in 1998.) And if you Google Ten-O-Six, you'll find lots of people bemoaning the fact that they can't find it any more.

But it appears to have been reintroduced and renamed Formula 10.0.6 So Totally Clean, so if you're still in the market for a kinda stingy antiseptic cleanser that shocks you with how much dirt winds up on a cotton ball, and whose smell reminds you of Duran Duran days, keep an eye out for the new name.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Hub: Retro TV rules!

A TV channel from Hasbro?

On Sunday, Discovery Kids was renamed The Hub, and it is now a co-production of Hasbro Toys and Discovery Channel.

In the old days, our parents probably would have freaked out and said "a channel that's trying to sell us toys? More so than they already do? Nice try, but you're not watching." But now, in this world of 500+ channels, it kind of blends in with all the others.

And as a retro freak, I'm actually kind of excited about it. Just listen to some of the shows. The 1960s "Batman." "Strawberry Shortcake." "Family Ties." "Doogie Howser, M.D." "Transformers." "G.I. Joe." "Happy Days" AND "Laverne and Shirley." "Pound Puppies." "Fraggle Rock."

Yeah, you heard me. It's a weird little slice of nostalgia heaven. Add in some retromercials and I may just settle in with some Bugles and a gallon of Ecto-Cooler and never leave the house again.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Classic Clip Monday: Legion of Doom

The SuperFriends were one wacked-out introduction to classic superheroes. They were superhero tales as if they'd been approved by your mom, with none of the dark origin stories or troubled humanity of the comics.

But they were also completely addictive, from Wonder Woman's not-so-invisible jet to Aquaman's often-not-very-useful superpower of talking to fish to the odd and somewhat racist token heroes added later on (Black Vulcan! Apache Chief! SAMURAI!)

I think as kids we were supposed to identify with the kid characters, WonderTwins Zan and Jayna (and Gleek) or Wendy and Marvin (and Wonderdog). But no one ever did -- they were just handy hate fodder. My real fandom was reserved for the Legion of Doom. Seriously, how cool were they? Their head-shaped headquarters rose out of a swamp and could fly if needed. The villains themselves were all flavors of messed up, including the barely English speaking Solomon Grundy, a swamp ZOMBIE, and Gorilla Grodd, a superbrainac gorilla. Just read some of the descriptions on the Wikipedia entry: "Toyman: Dresses as a jester; uses toy-based tactics to commit crimes."
There are some great YouTube clips from SuperFriends, and the comments with them are just as hilarious as the show itself. One person wrote: "It's like every minute of this show was written by a separate group of people who never speak to each other."

Friday, October 8, 2010

Funky Food Friday: Fruit Brute

Now that we're getting close to Halloween, our old spooky cereal pals Boo Berry, Franken Berry and Count Chocula are again haunting store shelves. (New this year: Fruit Roll-Ups.)

But today we're talking about the dearly departed cartoon werewolf Fruit Brute, and his frosted fruit-flavored nuggets and vaguely limeish marshmallows. Because nothing says “nutritious breakfast” like a bloodthirsty creature of the night.

After a good run from the mid-'70s to the early '80s, today he’s nothing more than a pointy-toothed, lycanthropic and fairly disturbing memory. Or, hmmm -- maybe he's still out there, baying at the moon, flicking at fleas and recalling the glory days when the breakfast cereal aisle was an even scarier place to roam.

Ow-ooooooooo! And please pass the milk.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Bubble Yum

Gum was a little boring until Bubble Yum popped onto the scene. Wikipedia says it came out in 1975 although I could have sworn it was a 1980s invention. But whenever it came out, it was brilliant--most gum was pretty flat and ho-hum until then. Sure, there was Bub's Daddy (which I loved--giant stick gum) and individual gumballs and so on, but really, pack gum was forever changed by Bubble Yum. It was soft, it was fat, and it was oh-so-sweet. Plus it made darn good bubbles.

Bubble Yum was quickly followed by Bubbilicious and Hubba Bubba -- that last one was cool because it didn't stick, even when your giant bubble smashed in your face. Apparently Bubbilicious was a British (Cadbury) import to try and capitalize on Bubble Yum's fame. And Hubba Bubba, always an also-ran, was taken off the market in the 1990s, but came back in 2004. Anyway, I always thought Bubble Yum was the Coke to their Pepsi and RC -- in other words, the best of them all.

There was a weird urban legend rumor about spider eggs being in the gum. I not only never heard that rumor growing up but I don't even get it. Why would that even seem a likely addition? Snopes gets really into explaining exactly that. Anyway, the company had to spend $100,000 and take out ads in newspapers all over the country (like kids read newspapers?) to combat it.
Still, an awesome kid treat, and one of the true innovators in junk food. All hail Bubble Yum!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

John McTiernan Movies

Mostly-'80s action movie director John McTiernan was sentenced on Monday to a year in prison.

The charges sounded like something out of one of his movies: perjury and lying to the FBI in a wiretapping case involving former P.I. Anthony Pellicano.

As dramatic as his real life is at the moment, we want to celebrate the fictional flicks he directed. Sure, he also directed "Medicine Man" (Sean Connery: "I found a cure for the plague of the 20th century, and now I've lossssshtt it!"), but you've gotta give the guy major credit for unleashing a pair of late-'80s masterpieces onto the world: "Die Hard" and "Predator."

"Die Hard" stands for me as one of the most entertaining flicks ever ("Welcome to the party, pal.") and Alan Rickman's Hans Gruber should be on anyone's top-10 fictional villains list. And "Predator" is an awesome, quotable romp -- plus, it stars Jessie Ventura and Carl Weathers alongside the Governator ("Get to da choppah!").

Good luck tis year, Mr. Director. Here's hoping you keep in mind the immortal words of John McClane: "Yippie-kay-yay, motherBEEEEEEP!"

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Who Are the DeBolts, and Where Did They Get 19 Kids?

Before there were the Duggars and the Gosselins and Octomom, there were the DeBolts.

"Who Are The DeBolts and Where Did They Get 19 Kids?" was a TV documentary that won an Oscar in 1978. (Narrated by Fonzie!)

Dorothy DeBolt and her first husband had five kids of their own and had adopted two when he died of cancer. She adopted two more from Vietnam as the war was just ending there. She remarried, to Jim DeBolt, and in addition to his own daughter, they adopted 10 more. Many of their kids had disabilities, and they were from all over the world.

When this documentary aired in 1977, I was 10. I had three cousins who'd been adopted from Korea, but I surely didn't know any family as large and rollicking and brave as this one. The DeBolts became my heroes.

I kind of forgot about them until recently, but their Web site is informative and fun. Dorothy and Bob are still hale and hearty (as is one of their parents, at 100). Their kids, aged 34 to 54, have spread out, and they give a listing of their names, ages and families. All of them are living independently and supporting themselves, and there are now 29 grandkids and one great-grandchild. A happy ending to a story I really loved in the 1970s.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Classic Clip Monday: Sonny and Cher

We were fascinated with Sonny and Cher. They didn't seem old enough to be our parents, maybe our youngish aunt and uncle, or quite-a-bit older siblings.

She was beautiful, and wore striking costumes. Sonny was kinda goofy looking but he seemed nice enough, and we really didn't understand why she was so mean to him (unless we came from a divorcing/divorced household, in which case we understood a little TOO well).

They sang beautifully, or at least she did, and the songs he wrote were damn catchy. I got you babe! The beat goes on!

Little Chastity (who looked nothing like she does now as a man named Chaz) sometimes made an appearance and always seemed kinda lost. (She would say in an interview as an adult, "My mom didn't comfort me with kisses and cuddles. It wasn't the family way." WHICH BREAKS MY HEART.)

According to Wikipedia, their first show, "The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour," was canceled in 1974 due to their divorce, but that didn't stop them from doing essentially the same show in 1976 as "The Sonny and Cher Show." And then they went their separate ways -- her to wear crazy costumes at awards shows and star in movies like "Moonstruck" and sing that she believed in life after love, and Sonny to serve in Congress and ski into a tree. They were not really together that long, and even when they were the problems were obvious, but there was still true magic there.

Sonny's tombstone reads "And the beat goes on."

Friday, October 1, 2010

Funky Food Friday: Dolly Madison Zingers

I can only ever associate Dolly Madison Zingers with the Peanuts gang. They sponsored the TV specials and that was a brilliant marketing decision, because I don't know how I would have heard of them otherwise.

Did we even have Dolly Madison in the Twin Cities? We had Hostess, but were severely lacking in more regionalized snack cakes. We did not have Drake's Cakes -- years later, it took me a while to realize that Jerry Seinfeld wasn't just making up Ring Dings and Yodels. We did not have Tastykakes -- it took working with someone from Philly who got regular care packages from home for me to ever taste a Butterscotch Krimpet. And if there are other regional cakes out there, I don't know 'em.

I THINK we had Zingers, maybe, but they were few and far between. And on the rare occasion when we did have 'em, I found them a sad substitute for Hostess. But when a "Peanuts" special came on and the little round-headed kids started raving about them, they suddenly sounded awesome. Dolly Madison AND Drake's are now both owned by Hostess, which will eventually take over the world.

Why am I musing about Zingers and their Peanuts connection? Because Saturday is the 60th anniversary of the day Minnesotan Charles M. Schulz put pen to paper and first created woeful Charlie Brown and his gaggle of friends. Thanks, Sparky. Your little drawings meant a lot to a lot of people, even if your own life (as so well described in the amazing book "Schulz") was not always so bright.

Oh, and speaking of Zingers, check this out. It advertises Googles (well before the search engine), Koo Koos, and Razzys. Koo Koos are in this commercial and they appear to be just Ding Dongs. Is it really a great idea to have your whole ad just apologizing for the stupid name?