Thursday, September 30, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Then in later years we learned you were supposed to be able to tap the bottle right on the 57 and have it come out. But we usually just got impatient and stuck a knife in it anyway.
One of the guys who left comments on this YouTube ad says he's the redheaded kid in the commercial, and I have no reason to doubt him. Why would you lie about that?
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Those roly-poly guys took anything a kid could dish out and kept popping back up for more, like a punching bag with a weighted butt.
The best news: the recent creepy versions with fully formed upper bodies -- including arms -- got a one-way ticket to the big toy box in the sky.
Monday, September 27, 2010
When we were kids, people would actually toss bags of fast-food trash right out their car windows. Recycling was unheard of, and only the real carob-eating hippie freaks knew what compost was.
Things started small, but suddenly the streamroller of "Keep America Beautiful" was chugging through the land. We were taught not to be a litterbug (don't make that Indian cry!) and not to pollute.
His snappy slogan since been replaced with another weirdly rhyming slogan "Lend a hand--care for the land!"
Yeah. I like ours better. But the giant yellow outlines around Woodsy's eyes kinda freak me out.
Friday, September 24, 2010
Thursday, September 23, 2010
So, in celebration of a quarter century of the zany countdown -- and Paul Shaffer's always memorable reactions -- we present to you the first-ever "Top 10" list, the top 10 words that almost rhyme with "peas."
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
For me, there's a store in Roseville, Minn. that used to be a LaBelle's (discount retailer and jewelry store...I THINK?) and then became a Frank's Nursery and Crafts. Both had super-memorable theme songs. LaBelle's went "the best things happen at LaBelle's!" And all I can remember from Frank's song is them singing the entire name of the store, "Frrrrrank's Nur-ser-y and Crrrrrafts!" (Note: The commercial I found, embedded below, reminds me that the jingle also went "Beautiful things, begin at Frank's!")
According to Wikipedia, Frank's went bankrupt in 2004. I also found a blog entry about them (most of its photos seem to have expired --sorry) written by a Minnesotan who notes that it wasn't a Minnesota-only store, but had locations in 14 states. (Off-topic, but how much do I love a blog that discusses dumpy and dead stores in Minnesota? A whole lot much, that's how much. Unfortunately the blog seems to have been abandoned.) Anyway, Frank's was the craft and garden store that I knew before I'd ever heard of Michael's or JoAnn's or any of the others. I didn't really do a lot of crafts, but it's quite possible we got the yarn for my eighth-grade crocheting class there.
LaBelle's I think was located in the Roseville Frank's before Frank's. I remember it selling things kind of like a Penney's, only maybe with fewer clothes. It seems to me the jewelry counter was a big deal but I may be confusing my memories. I have even fuzzier memories of Zayres, which apparently became TJ Maxx. The most interesting thing about them was they bought a chain called Shopper's City, which becam Zayre's Shoppers City, and the most interesting thing about Shopper's City was that kids in Minnesota grade schools would challenge each other to say the store's name super fast over and over again...Shopper's City Shopper's City Shopper's Shi-- whoops!
Wickes Furniture is also apparently gone as of 2008 -- remember them? Later when I learned what wicker furniture was I always made the assumption that Wickes only carried wicker, which was not true. (Wickes commercial here.)
Musicland? ("We bring entertainment...to life!") Not any more you don't. And the sun has set on Suncoast Pictures.
Mervyn's, or Mervyn's of California as they were dorkily known for a while? Gone too.
Remember the jeans store County Seat? ("Redirect your feet into the County Seat!") I can't find full verification but they look gone as well.
What chains do you remember that are long gone, whether regional or national? (There's a giant list here if you want to see which childhood memories are gone, baby, gone. Man, I really miss St. Paul Book and Stationery...)
Monday, September 20, 2010
Call the troops out in a hurry...
"99 Luftballoons" is one of those memorable quirky 1980s hits that everyone seems to remember fondly. The German version hit #2 in the U.S. -- astonishing, since we're not big on non-English anything. The English version, "99 Red Balloons," never impressed me as much as the original.
The Wikipedia entry on the song notes that many DJs in the U.S. thought "Luftballoons" translated to "Red Balloons" because of the English song, but really it's just "balloons" or "air balloons." As in the Luftwaffe, or as Homer Simpson called them, "the Washington Generals of the History Channel."
Oh, and fun fact: "VH1 Classic ran a charity event for Hurricane Katrina relief in 2006. Viewers who made donations were allowed to choose which music videos the station would play. One viewer donated $35,000 for the right to program an entire hour and requested continuous play of Nena's "99 Luftballons" and "99 Red Balloons" videos. The station broadcast the videos as requested from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. EST on 26 March 2006." Wow. That's like...99 Luftballons on the wall, 99 Luftballoons...
Friday, September 17, 2010
The catchphrase quickly burst beyond the small screen, showing up on T-shirts, bumper stickers and school playgrounds across the country. Even presidential candidate Walter Mondale famously used the phrase to skewer his Democratic-primary challenger Gary Hart in a debate.
The Wendy’s campaign came to a screeching halt the next year, after Peller did a commercial for Prego pasta sauce, implying that she finally found the beef.
Peller died in 1987, but the pop-culture significance of the commercials and the catchphrase – deliciously – keeps a-going.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Why, it even made a pretty major impact on this 14-year-old boy, more used to shoot-'em-up movies about star wars and supermen than talky flicks about relationships.
And, oh, the cinematography: According to Wikipedia, leftover footage of Fonda and Hepburn driving through the New Hampshire countryside was later used for the opening of “Newhart.”
Plus, it introduced those two iconic actors to a new generation of fans. I got a TON of mileage out of my ham-handed Katharine Hepburn impression (“Norman, you old poop!”), starting in grade school and lasting well into the ‘90s, after Martin Short did his own awesome impression on SCTV and SNL.
Is this on your top-movies list?
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Back in ’81, the original hit me – and millions of others – hard: I remember I had to had to had to have an authentic Izod polo. The excuse was I needed it for an eighth-grade talent-show skit where I played “Chip,” but I wanted to wear the pricey shirt in real life, too. And I did – a little piece of prep in central Minnesota.
I haven’t read the new book yet, but I’m intrigued by this excerpt in the August issue of Vanity Fair, which lists a bunch of fashion rules outlining the new principles of preppy style, including:
- We wear sportswear. This makes it easier to go from sporting events to social events (not that there is much difference) without changing.
- Your underwear must not show. Wear a nude-colored strapless bra. Pull up your pants. Wear a belt. Do something. Use a tie!
- We do not display our wit through T-shirt slogans.
- Every single one of us — no matter the age or gender or sexual preference — owns a blue blazer.
- High-heel rule: You must be able to run in them—on cobblestones, on a dock, in case of a spontaneous foot race.
- We do not wear our cell phones or BlackBerrys suspended from our belts. (That includes you, President Obama.)
- No man bags.
- Preppies don't perm their hair.
- Preppy men do not believe that comb-overs disguise anything.
- And finally: The best fashion statement is no fashion statement.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Remember Miss Othmar? She later married and became Mrs. Hagemeyer, but Linus and pretty much every other "Peanuts" denizen called her Miss Othmar still. (I have no idea why Wikipedia names "Mr. Hagemeyer" as her EX-husband, as she never got divorced in the strip. Probably just some Wikipedian having fun, or being confused about the name thing.)
I forgot totally about this, but apparently Miss Othmar was fired in a 1969 strip after a teachers' strike. Pretty bold move for Charles Schulz.
The Peanuts Wiki has a little more info. I forgot that Linus gave her eggshells for a wedding gift.
That Wiki also notes: "Miss Othmar was voiced by a trombone, as were most of the adults." Heh.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Seriously, how great was this opening sequence?
Someone on You Tube uploaded a bunch of clips where David Banner hulks out for really lame reasons. They're hilarious.
In this one, he hates traffic, just like the rest of us. In this one, a blonde girl decks him.
In this one, he's pissed off at a pay phone. I DON'T HAVE TWENTY-FIVE CENTS!!! HULK SMAAAASH!
Oh, and in this one, he fights a bear, and the green paint on Lou Ferrigno comes off on the bear's fur!
Now this next clip isn't from the TV series, but I had to share it, because holy cats, can there be a worse cartoon theme song than this one? If David Banner saw this, he would totally transform out of sheer embarrassment.
Friday, September 10, 2010
Remember Razzles? You buy the pouch, and it's filled with little dusty colorful tablets that kind of look like giant aspirin. You start chewing them, and they're chalky little candies that really aren't worth your while. But then as you chew, like a magical Willy Wonka product that suddenly tastes like a whole meal, they change ... into gum!
I gotta face facts here. Razzles are ... not the best candy I've ever consumed. Or the best gum. If they only did one or the other, you would never, ever buy them.
But I saw a pack in Walgreen's the other day and almost purchased them. Sure, it was nostalgia, but also there's something about the transformation that sucks me in. I am also drawn to Blow Pops, which also contain a gum center that must be determinedly worked towards. The Razzles marketers were smart people, is what I'm sayin'.
Razzles feel like a Gen X candy to me -- they came out in 1966, the year before I was born. According to Wikipedia, the original flavor was raspberry, and they were actually named after a fictional flavor, Razzleberry, which was never actually made. There's a thought for ya, Razzles. Pick up that old flavor idea and run with it! We want Razzleberry Razzles!
Wait, they have FLAVORS?
Thursday, September 9, 2010
At least that's the way school is portrayed in "Back to School," the 1986 flick starring Rodney Dangerfield at his bug-eyed best. And who wouldn't want to enroll in a institution of higher learning like that? Maybe it was because I was headed to college myself the year I first saw this flick, but I'm going on record saying "Back to School" deserves a much better grade than the paltry 2.5 stars TiVo gives it.
Prof. Sam Kinison screaming "Aaaaaaah! Aaaaaaaaaaah!" at a terrifed student accounts for a half-star by itself. So does Dangerfield's millionaire Thornton Melon hiring Kurt Vonnegut to help him with a paper on Kurt Vonnegut. Add to that layup jokes like the head of the college being named Dean Martin, Zabka playing one of his prototypical fluffy-haired jocks (who literally dresses like a caveman), a throaty Sally Kellerman -- post-MASH, but pre-Hidden Valley Ranch voiceover -- and uber-Rodney lines like "I'd like to tame YOUR shrew," and you've got yourself a more-than-minor '80s classic.
What's your favorite "Back to School" moment?
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Who didn't love Lite Brite? But looking back, other than the fun, there are things we remember. Stepping on the pegs in the shag carpet in your bare feet -- OUCH! The weird pictures in the commercial -- a rooster? Bozo the clown? It's like the people designing the patterns had never left 1944 -- what do kids love? Roosters, right Bill? And clowns!
The Wikipedia entry on Lite Brite is pretty brief, but it notes that the contraption came out in 1967 -- hey! Same year as me! It also notes that the (scary) clown and something called the Wizard of Light (a wizard with the Lite Brite name above him) are among the classic pictures.
I did love this toy, and can't wait till Kelly is old enough that the pegs are no longer a choking hazard and we can buy one. And we have wood floors, so while the pegs will still pose a bare foot issue, at least they won't lie lurking in the depths of the shag carpet as they always did in my house.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
The soap looked so cool, with the green marbling throughout. The Irish stereotypes were as rich as a shamrock shake, from the thick purring brogues to the Irish wool sweaters. And best of all, they for some reason took KNIVES and cut slices off the soap! Who didn't want to take a sharp knife into the tub after they saw one of those ads and just shave and whittle their own soap?
I haven't really missed bar soap since it made its inevitable slow passage towards the exit, since body wash is so much nicer, but if I did have to suddenly start using it tomorrow, this is the soap I would want. And if you think it was kind of a marker of our generation, you are right. It came out in 1972.
Another interesting tidbit from the Wikipedia entry: The original Irish Spring scent, the one I am pretty sure you are remembering right now, was called "Ulster Fragrance" internally at Colgate-Palmolive. But now they have a ton of other scents with names like "Moisture Blast" and "Micro Clean."
Monday, September 6, 2010
Friday, September 3, 2010
When we were kids, it was a big deal to head to the Minnesota State Fair, where nearly everything came jammed onto a stick. (At home, the only foods you could find with handy tongue-depresser or sharpened-dowel handles were popsicles, fudgesicles, caramel apples, suckers, pudding pops or corn dogs, every one of them a rare treat. The fair, on the other -- often sticky -- hand, was overflowing with 'em.) The weird, wacky eats-on-a-stick at the fair were always more fun than fulfilling. Bragging rights were the tastiest morsel: "I ate alligator on a stick!"
At today's MN State Fair, there are more options than ever -- all of them skewered -- from risotto balls to hot dish to mac-and-cheese to camel (!). But to me, there's nothing like the original fair food on a stick that got me hooked on pork, oil and batter all those years ago: the corn dog. (Here in Minnesota, there's a perennial battle between the traditional corn dog and the Pronto Pup. I like 'em both.) A squirt of ketchup up one side, mustard up the other, and hotter-than-lava oil dripping down the perfectly fried hotdog-embedded dough? Mmmm -- is it time for next year's fair yet?
Got a favorite fair-food memory from when you were a kid?
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Check out the slightly hillbillyish voice on the announcer, plus, if ever a FONT could look hillbilly-like, the one they use in this ad is.