Monday, December 26, 2011

Follow us on Facebook

Just a reminder that while our posting here has become less frequent as we work on the new book, we're still adding retro links more regularly to our Facebook page (

If you're a member there, Like our page and our retro updates will show up in your News Feed, and you can comment on the posts there.

I hate to give up a blog, and we're not giving this one up yet, but with our busy schedules we're finding it much easier to post and discuss on FB. Damn you, Zuckerberg!

I miss hating the USSR

Today's an anniversary of sorts: The Supreme Soviet voted itself out of existence on Dec. 26, 1991.

A writer from my hometown (St. Paul, represent!) writes about how she misses hating the USSR.

It's weird to say you miss hating anyone, especially if you grew up in the 80s with a horrendous fear that the Soviets would nuke us, but as opposed to rogue terrorists with dirty bombs, they seem like such a civilized enemy by comparison.

It's weird to think the USSR fell more than 20 years ago. Sometimes I think they're still there. In high school, we had one year devoted to world history. We all had to take Western Europe, and then your choices were The Americas, East Asia, USSR and Eastern Europe, and Middle East and Africa. I chose East Asia and USSR, East Asia because it fascinated me, and USSR because there was a nagging sense that everyone should know about that place.

Yet I also remember in 8th grade, our social studies teacher (who was also the principal) flat-out laughed at us one day. "You all think Russia is the enemy!" he said. "You can't even find our real threat on a map!" And he turned around and wrote IRAN on the board, and yes, no one could find it on a map.

Any Soviet Union childhood memories for you?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

10 things you probably didn't know about "A Charlie Brown Christmas"

10 things you probably didn't know about "A Charlie Brown Christmas." Actually, I did know some of thse, but it's sure interesting nonetheless. I love the fact that some of the kids were just neighborhood kids, not voice actors.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Want to sit in a wood-paneled basement on a comfy if frumpy couch and watch endless 80s and 90s holiday specials, complete with commercials?

Meet BetaMaXmas. So, so awesome. I got on to the commercial channel and just let it roll. And the shows! MASK! Christmas in Tattertown! Pink Panther! Oh, I admit, I'm not on the first-name basis with them all, but they're so definitely retro.

(Via I'm Remembering!)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Autographs for your book!

We realize the holidays are almost upon us, and we assume anyone who reads this blog or our Facebook page knows that our book, "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the 70s and 80s" was published in June.

May we suggest they make great, inexpensive and fun gifts, especially for anyone who shared the 70s and 80s with you? Siblings, cousins, old neighbors, high school friends, anyone who popped a collar or went to a prom or snuck into a Freddy Krueger movie with you.

And we're making a special offer: We can't travel around the entire world to sign everyone's book, but we CAN sign labels that you can then attach inside your book.

If you'd like a label for your book, or for a gift or gifts, just send a self addressed stamped regular size envelope. Include a note saying what, if any, personalization you'd like ("To Jamie Sommers, we think you'll especially like the Six Million Dollar Man doll chapter") or just tell us who to address it to and we'll fill in the blanks. Your label will be autographed by both Brian and Gael and mailed out to you the day after we receive your SASE.

Just mail the SASE and the personalization instructions to:

Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops?
8333 21st Ave NW
Seattle WA 98117

Happy gifting!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Our New Book!

It’s been a phenomenal ride with our book, “Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes & Trends of the ‘70s & ‘80s.” We really didn’t expect the level of interest and attention it sparked, but we’ve enjoyed every minute of it. That’s why we’re thrilled to announce that we’ve signed a deal with Perigee Books for a follow-up, this time taking a look at memories of the ‘90s.

The so-far-untitled book will explore everything from flannel shirts to Melrose Place, Beanie Babies to Big Mouth Billy Bass, and is set to come out Summer 2013. We’ll keep you posted on how it’s going!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Classic Clip Monday: Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space

Now I loved "Josie and the Pussycats," but somewhere along the line (1972-73) came "Josie and the Pussycats IN OUTER SPACE."

Here's the Wikipedia summary:

"This version of the series launched the characters into outer space; the opening credits sequence shows Alexandra accidentally knocking the cast into a spaceship and launching it into deep space. Every episode centered on the Pussycats encountering a strange new world, where they would encounter and often be kidnapped by various alien races before escaping and attempting to return home.

Musical numbers and chase sequences set to newly recorded songs were featured in this spin-off series as with the original. Josie in Outer Space also added the character of Bleep, a pet-sized fluffy alien adopted by Melody, who was the only one who could understand the creature (who only says "Bleep") and numerous other alien animals encountered."

I also love this: For "Josie" and some other shows, Hanna-Barbera cheaped out on the laugh track! Did you notice this?

"Early in 1971, Hanna-Barbera opted not to pay for [CBS sound engineer and laugh-track pioneer[ Charley Douglass’s services. Pre-1971 hits like Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, Harlem Globetrotters, and Josie and the Pussycats employed a laugh track, but Hanna-Barbera looked for any chance to cut costs.

As a result, instead of utilizing a full laugh track, a sound engineer at the Hanna-Barbera studios isolated approximately half a dozen canned chuckles from Douglass’ vast library. Mixed with a tinny, metallic sound to it, there were approximately five mild laughs, plus one or two uncontrollable belly-laughs (one contains an audible woman laughing at the tail end). This limited laugh track did not contain any looping tapes with 10 assorted laughs per tape, no endless variety of chuckles and no titter track. When audience reaction was needed, the limited laughs were dubbed repeatedly. On occasion, two or three of the chuckles were combined to give the effect that there was more diversity to the already limited laugh track.

This laugh track—containing less than 10 snippets of laughter—would be used incessantly for exactly a decade. Critics took note of the inferior sounding laugh track permeating Hanna-Barbera's Saturday morning fare. The same prerecorded laugh can be heard after nearly every punchline. The fact that the treble was mixed far too high for the soundtrack it accompanies only drew attention to the falsity of the practice."

Eh, them kids'll never notice, I imagine them saying. And they were right -- I never did. Did you? Did you watch the outer space Pussycats, or just the regular ones?

You gotta read the laugh track entry. "It was believed that the absence of guffaws meant American viewers could not tell if the particular show was indeed a comedy" Also, I love how certain people insisted on no laugh track -- you showed 'em, Charles Schulz.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Colonel in Kentucky Fried Chicken ads

My friend Kim has the best line about Kentucky Fried Chicken changing their name to KFC to hide the fact that they fry the stuff: "YOU MOVED THE HEADSTONES BUT YOU DIDN'T MOVE THE BODIES!" she says. Heh, point to Kim.

I do remember when Col. Sanders himself was in the ads, and they were downright weird. He was no actor, which is kind of awesome, but he was also really awkward. And he said each piece of chicken was dipped in "egg WARSH."

Also notice how he kicks this girl off his lap. Why even start the commercial with her there? It's like an SNL skit.

The one Kentucky Fried Chicken jingle I remember has some ballader kind of singing all wistful-like "Kentucky Fried Chicken, I'm taaaaaking you back hooooome. To make up for the time I've been awaaaaaaay...just sit around the table, with my friends and fa-mi-ly. Kentucky Fried Chicken, coming home feels goooood to me!"

If anyone can find that one, please post the You Tube URL to prove I'm not insane.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Classic Clip Monday: Kenner Trail Tracker

So if I can gather it correctly from the ad, Kenner Trail Tracker was a little toy van that would follow a crayon line. And ... that's about it. I am not sure if I am not imaginative enough to understand how this could translate into hours of creative play or if it's just a not that great toy.

It wins points though for being advertised during the "Star Wars Holiday Special." (See yesterday's post.)

Says one person in the Rifftrax forums: "It works on the power of cheesy music."

Do you remember this one?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

"Star Wars" holiday special with 1978 commercials

Here's the whole "Star Wars Holiday Special," complete with 1978 commercials from its one and only airing.

Via Teirersias on Twitter

Don't miss the Rifftrax version.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

'Night That The Lights Went Out in Georgia'

Loved story songs in the 1970s, and I also loved Vicki Lawrence, who famously got her job on "The Carol Burnett Show" because she looked so much like Carol.

So of course, I loved "The Night That The Lights Went Out in Georgia." 

Cheating! A hanging! Revenge!

I don't know which line is better, "don't trust your soul to no backwoods southern lawyer" or "you see little sister don't miss when she aims her gun."

Remember this song? What's your favorite story song of the Seventies?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Classic Clip Monday: Bradys or Partridges?

I love this classic 1970s ABC ad promoting both "The Brady Bunch" and "The Partridge Family."

Personally, I always preferred the Bradys -- the Partridges felt a little too old (???) for me. But I loved, and still love, the Partridge family music. I think I love you! (Of course, I had a crush on Greg Brady, but Keith Partridge was not hard on the eyes, either.)

Did you watch both family shows? Did you have a preference? Or a crush?

And if you're a Brady fan, take this trivia quiz on foods of the Brady world.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Body on Tap shampoo

Everyone who was of a certain age in the 70s or 80s remembers Body on Tap shampoo, although some of us don't remember the name...they just remember it as "that shampoo with beer in it."

The Wikipedia entry pedanticly insists this information is not verified, but I remember this too: "The original formula contained 1/3 beer which people used to believe made hair fuller and softer. Whether it was the beer which enhanced the fullness and softness of the hair or not, the shampoo did leave hair very soft and full, especially after blow drying."
You can still buy it at the Vermont Country Store, which also has Lemon Up and Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific. But it's not made with beer, apparently, although it does have barley and hops. Also, I miss the old bottle.

Here's an interesting post from the guy who was the purchasing manager for the shampoo. The beer was Budweiser, but the company wouldn't let them reveal that because the beer had to be "denatured" so it wouldn't be taxed as alcohol, and also they weren't so high on the idea of beer being part of something poured on yout hear rather than consumed. 

Here's an old commercial with Kim Basinger. BUT DON'T DRINK IT! Back then, all you needed to do was say that, however jokingly. Today you'd probably need an official warning label or something.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Bootie socks with pom-poms

Were bootie socks with colored pom-poms a 1970s or a 1980s thing?

Who knows, maybe they existed before then, but I sure remember them being a part of my childhood.

Are they still around? Probably, but maybe not as popular as they once were.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Oranges Schmoranges

Whenever the word "oranges" comes up in casual conversation, certain Xers take it as an excuse to burst into this song: "Oranges Poranges," also known as "Oranges Schmoranges," from HR Pufnstuff, in which Witchypoo musically demands to know "who says...there ain't no rhyme for oranges?"

Remember this sketch? Did you watch Pufnstuff? Did Witchypoo scare the crap out of you? If you ask me, Puf was pretty terrifying too.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Worst Halloween costumes of all time

Love this Retrocrush classic post on the Worst Halloween Costumes of All Time.

Our book "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops?" has a section on those bad store-bought Halloween costumes with the masks you could barely breathe through, with the mask strings that practically put your eye out if they snapped back in your face. Yep, these are them. (There's a picture of Gael and her niece illustrating that entry. Gael is unrecognizable behind a plastic Cinderella mask.)

Anyway, Retrocrush found some classic costumes from the 1970s-1980s, and wrote hilarious captions for them. Father Murphy! Mis-tah Kot-tah! Chachi! Jaws! Vicci the creepy robot child from "Small Wonder!"

But I do think their best caption is this one, for the Rubik's Cube costume: "How many poor kids that got stuck with this one had to hear, "Hey Rubik, how about if I rearrange your face?" This very well may be the least popular costume of all time, 2nd only to the failed Parcheesi costume of 1974."

FYI, the Rubik's Cube costume is popular again, though the homemade ones are much cooler than this ready-made version.

What did you dress up for on Halloween in the '70s and '80s? I remember a lot of generic princesses and gypsies in my past...

Friday, October 28, 2011

Wonder Woman on a skateboard

Oh man, I loved Lynda Carter's "Wonder Woman." She was one Amazon of an actress.

But somehow I managed to miss this amazing clip. Note how she spins around and conjures up a helmet before jumping on the skateboard.

The Metafilter comments are priceless. One says "Oh and when VCRs became common and we got to fool around with them, rumor was that if you freeze-framed Lynda Carter spinning into her Wonder Woman costume at just the right moment you would see her completely naked."

Were you a "Wonder Woman" fan?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Worst songs of the '70s

Rolling Stone did a list of their 10 Worst Songs of the '70s. It's surely a decade that's ripe for such choices, but here are some thoughts.

10. "Loving You." Oh, come on. There are thousands of songs worse than this one. It's not my favorite, but it's kind of pretty. I've been to Minnie Riperton's (mom of Maya Rudolph) grave, and the opening notes of the song are carved on it.

9. "Feelings." Well, no argument here. This song is horrible and I sang it to death as a kid. It was one of my piano recital piees and for no apparent reason, my piano book had the lyrics in Spanish. ("Dime!")

8. "Billy, Don't Be a Hero." As I talked about earlier, this was my favorite song of first grade, I made my poor sister drive all over town to buy me the 45.

7. "Seasons in the Sun." Yay, the death song. How is this song not #1? Goodbye Michelle, my little one!

6. "Escape: The Pina Colada Song." Oh man, total guilty pleasure here. Check out this fun fact: The lyrics originally went "If you like Humphrey Bogart," at the last minute he changed it to "pina coladas," a drink he didn't even particularly enjoy."

5. "Muskrat Love." This was also in my piano book. "Shop Around" was my favorite Captain and Tennille Song, though this may be the only song ever with weird little muskrat chirping sounds in it.

4. "You Light Up My Life." The trifecta! It's official, I had THE worst piano book in the history of the world. Because yes, this was in there, too. Read about what happened to the songwriter and you'll never hear this tune the same way again.

3. "(You're) Havin' My Baby." On second thought, how is THIS not #1?

2. "Afternoon Delight." OH COME ON! Why is this song even on here, let alone as high as second place? It's catchy and fun, and no 'Seasons in the Sun." And as they said in "Anchorman," "if you don't think this song is the greatest song ever, I will fight you."

1. "Disco Duck." What? Why would a novelty song even be considered for a list like this? It's a parody! And when it comes to animal sounds in '70s songs, "Muskrat Love" is way, way worse. Side note: My husband grew up in L.A. where Rick Dees was a DJ, and when I ask him for the temperature he often tells me it's "75 (or whatever) Dees Grees," which I seriously hope is a hangover from a childhood of listening to Dees give the weather, and not just weirdness on his part.

What do you think? What's the worst 1970s song ever, and what do you think of this list?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

"Barney Miller"

The entire "Barney Miller" series on box set comes out today, and it includes the first season of "Fish," which I watched regularly even though I think it was probably terrible.

I wrote an appreciation of the main "Barney Miller" characters for MSNBC and I think Wojo was always my favorite, but I still kind of have a crush on Hal Linden. So calm, so debonair, so unshakable.

"Barney Miller" really should be in our book. It was such a Seventies classic. So New York, so kind of grubby. None of the detectives looked like the glamour pusses who fill out police dramas today. And Abe Vigoda! Tessio! He played Fish like a 100-year-old guy back then, and yet he's still alive today at 90.

Were you a "Barney Miller" fan? Which character was your favorite?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Classic Clip Monday: Lawrence Welk Show goes one toke over the line

Whose grandma (or parents, if you have old parents like me) didn't watch The Lawrence Welk Show?

Oh man, it's SUCH a time capsule, and doubly so. It's not just 1970 or whatever specific date the episode you're watching was taped. It's a time capsule of what was old-fashioned even in 1970whatever.

Not that there's anything wrong with that, as Seinfeld would say. There's something so wonderfully charming about any Lawrence Welk clip. The host himself, with his "wunnerful, wunnerful" accent. The singers, with beautiful voices and clothes straight out of a square-dance supply store and lyrics clean-cut enough for any nun.

That's why this is perhaps the best "Lawrence Welk" clip ever. What did they think "toke" meant? Hey, we don't have time to look that up, it mentions Jesus, just sing it already! (When the song is over, Lawrence Welk calls it a "modern spiritual." Sure, in the Church of St. Mary Jane.)

And now let's listen to Gail (not me! Gail Farrell, who later did some voice work in "The Little Mermaid") and Dale (love when he gets all bassy) and "one of the newer songs." And share your memories of Lawrence Welk in the comments.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

United Colors of Benetton

Oh, Benetton.. More than any of the specific clothes you had, I remember the details.

There was a Benetton store at my mall and it didn't have any clothing racks, everything was folded and stacked in cubes.

The ads were all over my Seventeen magazine, and they were striking and international and diverse and just plain cool. And sometimes, shocking.

And for a short time I really loved wearing their fragrance, Colors. I can still remember the smell. It came out in 1987 and is a mix of orange blossoms, marigold, and vanilla. It's only $14 at Amazon. Not sure it's worth even $14 just to ger a 30-second time machine trip back to 1987, but if I wanted to, it's good to know that's an option.

Did you ever wear Benetton, or do you remember the ads? Of course, they are still around, but not as prominent.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Party like it's 1989

Debbie Gibson is a partner in this oh-so-80s New York club, which has Jenny's phone number written on a bathroom wall. Man, they should sell our book in the lobby.

Speaking of Debbie Gibson, she's holding a 1980s costume contest. Winner gets a phone call from her.

Kickass Hot Wheels Track Goes Upstairs, Downstairs, Around The Freaking Block

Kickass Hot Wheels Track Goes Upstairs, Downstairs, Around The Freaking Block

Cavity Creeps

A reader reminded us via the AIM/Aquafresh post about The Cavity Creeps! We make holes in teeth!

Man, these were truly disturbing ads. When they take their little hook-pick things and start hacking into the teeth...ugh! It also cracks me up that they not only have a teeth wall surrounding their city, but that they call it "our beloved wall of teeth."

Also, the Crestmobile is hilarious, and reminds me of Ace and Gary on "Saturday Night Live."

Do you have traumatic memories of these ads?

And don't miss when Peter Griffin of "Family Guy" falls in with a bad crowd, aka the Cavity Creeps, in a perfect parody.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

AIM and Aquafresh

AIM toothpaste came out in 1975, one of the first new toothpastes I remember coming out in my lifetime. And I thought it was so cool. It apparently had a milder taste and so they talked up that kids liked it.

Wikipedia says "In stores in the U.S., Aim is typically priced at a significant discount to the major toothpaste brands." Never knew that! But I remember the "Take AIM against cavities"

Aquafresh actually beat AIM to the punch, coming out in 1973. And it had the coolest gimmick, what with the stripes. They originally were blue and white, but now are red, white and blue.

What 1970s toothpaste innovations do you remember?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Classic Clip Monday: RIF, Reading is Fundamental

Raise your hand if you remember RIF: Reading Is Fundamental.

Now raise your other hand if you ... were never really sure what it was.

I guess it was a literacy program? That gave poor kids free books? And I shouldn't be speaking of it in the past tense, because it's still around. But of course is in trouble, as everything is in these days of budgets being pruned left and right.

RIF's origin story is truly touching. "Margaret McNamara knew there was something special about giving children the power to make choices. But she didn't know her simple act of kindness—bringing a few used books to four boys she was tutoring—would start a reading revolution. That was more than four decades ago. When the former teacher told the children they could choose a book to keep as their own, their delight and astonishment led her to conclude that they, and other children, had never known the excitement of owning a brand new book. She knew it was extremely important to get more books into the hands of children who were learning to read but didn't have the resources. And she knew it was time to act."

Do you remember RIF--its PSAs, if nothing else?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Sorry, wrong number

We're getting rid of our land line today. Although we haven't had a phone connected to it for months, this will be the first time in my life I live in a house without a land line. (My mom still does NOT think this is a good idea, by the way.)

It's kind of inspiring me to muse on phones and phone memories. The days when the arrival of the new phone book was actually pretty cool. When your friends had a "children's line" listed in the book under their parents' main number. When clunky heavy dial phones slowly gave way to options, like the Mickey Mouse phone. (My parents for some reason chose the old-fashioned candlestick phone, which looked cool but was impossible to do homework on, as you couldn't cradle it under your chin and talk/listen while you wrote notes.) The times when you thought you would absolutely die if he didn't call. The days when push button sloooowly replaced dial calls. (My parents wouldn't go to touch-tone FOREVER, stubborn as they are, because it cost something like $2 more a month or something.) I also had friends who were forever working on their house, and since their kitchen walls weren't finished, their mom let them write the most-called numbers right on the wall next to the phone, which I thought was unbelievably cool.

What are your favorite phone memories?

Friday, September 30, 2011

Music Week: 1988 -- "Simply Irresistible"

We're wrapping up Music Week with a look at a song that has one of the most memorable videos ever -- 1988's "Simply Irresistible" by Robert Palmer.

Nearly everybody's at least aware of it, regardless of whether or not they had MTV. A follow-up to his similarly themed video (and no less iconic) "Addicted to Love," "Simply Irresistible" saw the uber-smooth Palmer crooning it up with a bevvy of nonchalant models standing around in the background. Red lips! Undulating beauties in swimsuits! Words like "inscrutable" and "irrefutable"! Video aside, what I really liked about it was the sweet "whip-schwiiing!" sounds.

I can think of a few songs with equally iconic videos -- ones that really changed the way videos were perceived: "Thriller," of course. "Money For Nothing." "Sledgehammer."

How about you? Were you a Palmer fan? And what's your all-time most innovative music video from the '80s?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Music Week: 1984 -- "Somebody's Watching Me"

"I always feel like...somebody's WATCHing me," sang Rockwell back in 1984. Well, no wonder, buddy -- your dad is Motown mogul Berry Gordy, and you scored background vocals by the most famous man in the world, Michael Jackson. You're not exactly going to be flying under the radar.

Still, while people may have been watching him, after this song, they weren't really listening anymore. As catchy as this tune was, he scored only one more Top 40 follow-up hit, "Obscene Phone Caller."

Check out this Wikipedia entry for more information about this one- (OK, two-) hit wonder. The very best nugget? The record label was who suggested changing his name from Kennedy William Gordy to Rockwell. Rockwell went for it, because he reportedly believed he "rocked well."

Remember this spooky haunted house video, with Mr. Well in the shower, Psycho-style? It's gotten 4.4 MILLION hits on YouTube. Go figure. He was right -- and people are watching him, still.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Music Week: 1982/83 -- "Pass the Dutchie"

Ah, 1982/1983. How does somebody even go about picking a single song to feature, when EVERY tune from those years is worth a few paragraphs? Safety Dance, Come On Eileen, Goody Two Shoes, Puttin' on the Ritz. They're all musical crack.

I'm going for "Pass the Dutchie," by Musical Youth, though -- for the funny frog noise the littlest kid makes at the end, but mostly because I listened to it accidentally the other day, and I still can't get it out of my melon. This bouncy bit of reggae-pop has gotten a bad rap, since most people assume it's talking about pot. And, I guess it kind of is. According to Wikipedia, anyway, apparently it refers to a Dutch-oven-like cooking pot. (It's also cover of a song called "Pass the Kutchie," which really did talk about pot.)

Either way, why you have to pass it on the left-hand side, I have no idea.

Be blunt: What'd you think of this tune? And also of Musical Youth's cut-off shirts?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Music week: "Billy, Don't Be a Hero," 1974

"Billy, Don't Be a Hero" was my favorite song in first grade, in 1974. How do I know this? Because I sent my poor older sisters running all over town looking for the 45 (45!) for me so I could bring it to school for Show and Tell. (My daughter's preschool calls this "Special Sharing" today and I am still unsure why the name change.)

It seemed weird that I wanted to bring a record for Show and Tell. I can only guess that they played it during the class, and it must have been a regular thing people did, brought in a record (a record!).

Anyway, I just loved the song, by Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods. I still remember "Deeper and Deeper" was on the B-side (B-side!) and I didn't like that nearly so much.

As revealed yesterday with "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves," I looooved story songs. Still do. And "Billy" is a great one for a young kid to love. It's romantic and dramatic and sad all in one. She begs him not to go to war, and if he does, to stay out of the line of fire! And he says he would, but he LIES! He volunteers, full of vim and vigor and youthful bravery, for a dangerous mission, and blam, so much for that.

"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." DAMN THAT'S SONGWRITING.

Here's what I just learned now: The song was about the CIVIL War. "The soldier blues" were the Union Army. WHAT WHAT WHAT? It was 1974, of course I (and pretty much everyone else, as is noted in Wikipedia) thought it was about the Vietnam War. Well, it was to us anyway, no matter what Bo D and the HWs had in mind. I actually had to relisten to the whole thing just now to make sure it matched up with an older war -- not only is there no mention of tanks or planes or anything, but the only real verb that could fit a time or place is "I need a volunteer to RIDE out." Which...I guess could mean horses, though at the time I guess I thought he was riding in a Jeep, or something.

Anyway. Loved this song. Love the whistle part. Love the sadness. Still love it. Don't necessarily love the band's matching clown suits, though.

What do you think? Ever bring a song for Show and Tell? Did you play 45s? What's the best war song?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Music Week: 1971 -- "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves"

It's music week here at Gen Xtinct. We're dividing the 1970s and 1980s into 5 eras, and each day we'll pick a song from a different era.

For Monday, we're starting at the very beginning of the era, with 1971 and Cher's "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves."

This song was a rockin' revelation for many of us. We kind of thought gypsies were a made up thing, created so that girls who didn't plan ahead at Halloween could just throw a skirt and some scarves on and load up with jewelry. Bingo, instant gypsy costume. We didn't realize they were an actual group of people who were totally discriminated against by lecherous men in various towns, man!

I love how subtly Cher gets knocked up in this song. "Papa woulda shot him if he knew what he'd done" and then "three months later" she's a "gal in trouble." He got filled with more than just a hot meal, if you ask me.

This might just be my favorite Cher song ever. "Born in the wagon of a traveling show..." is a great opener, and there's a real feel of looming sinister goings-on in "every night all the men would come around...and lay their money down." And of course, how the end makes a complete circle, with now Cher's daughter being born in the same wagon and Cher as the one who takes over her mom's role as the sexy dancer. It's got all the great elements that make a story song work. I miss the great story songs of that era.

Was this a favorite of yours growing up?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Right hand on green!

"Twister" may join some of our other favorites in the Toy Hall of Fame, which sounds like a rockin' cool place to visit.

Nowadays it seems like the game is always mentioned in some weird sexual way, like "let's play naked Twister!" But we loved it in a very G-rated way as kids. Backbending yourself all up and landing smack on your butt on that weird plastic mat was pretty fun.

I once interviewed the inventor of Twister, Reyn Guyer. He also invented Nerf. Twister took off when it was featured on the Tonight Show and Johnny Carson played it with a scantily clad Eva Gabor. (Note: Wikipedia is now claiming that Guyer wasn't involved, which is weird to me. He isn't on the patent, supposedly.)

Was Twister a part of your childhood?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Classic Clip Monday: Sometimes you feel like a nut

You know, there are many things I have learned in life that would be useful to have kept around in my brain, but that immediately flew away.

And yet somehow I have still allotted valuable brain space to knowing this jingle.

"Sometimes you feel like a nut...sometimes you don't..." (Remember that jockey riding BACKWARDS?)

"Almond Joy's got nuts, Mounds don't!"

And I'll also never forget that guy's deep voice intoning "Beeee...cause!"

Remember this jingle? I also remember being shocked that I liked coconut in candy, because in every "Peanuts" strip ever the kids never wanted to get a coconut chocolate and always did. Charle Schulz must have hated the stuff.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Your dream "Star Wars" bedroom of the '70s

We all knew someone who OD'd on "Star Wars" memorabilia as a kid. He (it was almost always a "he") had every action figure, including the giant Millennium Falcon, plus a "Star Wars" lunchbox, bedsheets, pajamas, even a wastebasket.

The Retroist (love that site!) found a picture of what might have been that kid's room.

Tell us: What "Star Wars" memorabilia did you have as a kid? What did you envy?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Classic Clip Monday: Jean Nate, Jean Nate!

This commercial made me think that once you grew up, you just pretty much drenched yourself (and your bathroom) randomly in something called after-bath splash. And then went out and won the Kentucky Derby. This ad is such a classic, and I can still smell the stuff.

Friday, September 9, 2011

McDonald's orange drink

Can we talk about McDonald's orange drink please?

As kids, we rarely went to McDonald's, but when we did, we sure didn't get pop or milk. We got ... this stuff, which was non-carbonated and had a not-quite-juice-but-not-quite-pop flavor to it. It was almost...mediciney?

The Urban Dictionary definition doesn't mince words: "A fantastic, almost magical drink supplied by McDonald's for public functions. Usually indicative of a long, drawn out, poorly prepared and funded school event (orange drink=suck). It tastes like orange, but only not really. More like you mixed frozen orange juice, rain water, and paid a hobo a Twinkie to piss in it."

Yes! It was totally served often as weird church or school group events, often in a big cooler with a spigot and teeny little McDonald's cups.

Apparently it no longer exists, and there is a Facebook page begging for its return. Wikipedia says it was "replaced with Hi-C Orange Lavaburst in some areas."

I know some of you remember this. Should they bring it back, or is it better off dead?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

"It's called New Wave Rock"

Hilariously straightforward 1979 Hugh Downs report on New Wave. (Via Metafilter.)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Classic Clip Monday; Look for the union label

Man, the message of "buy American" is lost on me as I am so consumed by the ugliness of these 1981 clothes. Am not sure I would want to buy an outfit from some of these people based on the fashion sense they display here.

But damn is that isn't the catchiest jingle ever. "Remember somewhere, a union's sewing, our wages going, to feed the kids, and run the house. we work hard, but who's complaining..."

Friday, September 2, 2011

Funky Food Friday: Garbage Can-dy

Remember Garbage Can-dy? You got a little plastic trash can that you could open, and it was stuffed with SweeTart-like candy that was in the shape of trash. Bones, fish skeletons, opened tin cans...all the stereotypical trash shapes.

Like the person in the Flickr comments, I kept the trash can and used it in my dollhouse. And I also remember the Mr Bones version, a little plastic coffin with candy bones inside.

Weirdly, it was invented by Maus cartoonist Art Spiegelman when he worked for Topps. Supposedly he also invented Wacky Packs and Garbage Pail Kids.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Little Professor

I had the Little Professor, and man I LOVED it.

It was like a calculator, but it asked you the questions. And if you got the answer wrong, it said "EEEEE."

 The guy's little mustachioed face always cracked me up.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Encyclopedia Brown

We had to include Encyclopedia Brown in our book, of course. I for one was never able to solve his cases because I was terrible about knowing any of the random trivia he knew.

Here are the 10 most ridiculously difficult EB mysteries.

I remember the ginger ale one so clearly, with the art of the blind guy putting it inside the safe. And another one that I think was an Encyclopedia Brown but could have been Two-Minute Mysteries, where someone claimed to have been awakened by thunder and then saw a crime committed in the light flash from some lightning. But lightning comes before thunder, so that couldn't have happened. I think of that whenever there's a storm.

Did you read Encyclopedia Brown? Remember any of his cases and the random trivia with which he solved them?

(Via Metafilter.)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Striped tube socks

Spotted these at American Apparel and did a total double-take. Remember when these were THE only socks anyone wore in the 1970s? (Ha, I typed "1870s," it only SEEMS that long ago.)

We all had them, at least in my school, always with three bold primary colored stripes, and I remember for a whole being totally fascinated with rolling them down to make huge donuts around my ankles. Do not know why. Did not look or feel good.

Like so many things of our past, they were everywhere one day and nowhere the next. Do you remember these striped tube socks?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Classic Clip Monday: Network promos

Remember back when the TV networks had jazzy little theme songs?

This might be the most memorable to me "We're still the one...we're really alive! Still the one, as the Eighties arrive!"

NB Seeeeee Us. Uh, OK?

I liked this one better: NBC, proud as a peacock!

Which ones do you remember?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Funky Food Friday: Push-Ups

Push-Ups! No, not that exercise you had to do to get your Presidential Physical Fitness award, but the frozen treat. In a way I liked these better than Popsicles, though nothing touched Fudgcicles.
I always remember Push-Ups being only orange sherbet flavor, but this ad for Flintstones Push-Ups shows a variety of fruit flavors.

Pretty sure this rap/hip-hop ad came after my Push-Up heyday. I think they also had them on ice cream trucks, although those rarely came to my neighborhood.

This woman made a Push-Up flavor smoothie.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Popomatic Trouble

Popomatic Trouble!

I remember thinking the Popomatic feature, which is just a little dome trapping the die so you don't lose it, was the coolest feature ever. Just loved pushing on that darn little dome.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Check out my brand new sweater ... I just bought it from The Gap!

Love this Tears for Fears literal video, where some guy sings amazingly funny lyrics that describe what's actualy happening, sung to the real tune.

Atari Home Computers

Atari had home computers? I had the 2600 but had no idea they were in this market, but Rob claims they had a super-cool space game that he would play for as long as he could at Sears.

I like this line: "Numerous games were released on cassette tape." CASSETTE TAPE?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Classic Clip Monday: Life Day on the Star Wars Holiday Special

Hoo, boy. Carrie Fisher sings a song about Wookiee Life Day to the tune of the "Star Wars" theme song.

"The Star Wars Holiday Special" only aired once, in November 1978, but thank Boba Fett somebody somewhere taped it, because it is unforgettably bad. We have an item on it in "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops," of course.

Have you ever seen it? Do you remember the fuss about it at the time? I don't, didn't hear about it until years later. Kinda like the round Wookiee treehouse though.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Funky Food Friday: Grape Nuts--ever eat a pine tree?

Last week's Buc Wheats post reminded a bunch of folks of another healthy cereal, this one still around: Grape Nuts!

I kind of like them now, but as a kid I thought it was like eating a bowl of quarry gravel. You too?

But I can't forget this commercial and the million parodies. "Ever eat a pine tree? Many parts are edible, you know."

Also, Euwell Gibbons, like Rula Lenska, was a name that meant nothing to me outside of commercials where we were supposed to know who they were.

And of course, Ms. Rula Lenska (WHO?)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Martha, Martha, Martha!

On Friday from 2:30-3 pm ET, we'll be interviewed on Martha Stewart Living Radio, and will take questions about lost 70s-80s products.
If you have Sirius XM satellite radio, it's on channel 110.

If you don't, you can sign up for a free 7-day trial and listen online.

Old playground equipment

By the way, if you're on Facebook, join us there. We post even more links there simply because it's so easy to post as opposed to posting with Blogger.

Who doesn't think the goofy, sharp, shin-burning playground equipment of their childhood was better than the rainbow-colored, soft-edged, plastic stuff kids have today?

Here's a great Flickr photo pool of old playground equipment. You WILL see something you remember and forgot all about.

Reading this Metafilter discussion of old playground equipment is like sitting around talking to your old grade-school buds.

This Retrojunk essay sums it up nicely.

Datsun, we arrrrre driven!

Remember Datsun? Now they're Nissan, but their commercial "nobody demands more from a Datsun, than Datsun...we arrrrrre driven!" will live on wherever earworms are sold.

Also, check out how he brags about cars that use regular (not unleaded gas). And check out how cheap it was and they're all worried about it. Oh, how little they knew...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Come on and fly me: Dead airlines

My first flight ever was in 1977 or 1978, MSP to LAX, on Western Airlines, the ohhhhhnly way to fly. Remember this little birdlike guy who rode on the wing? I'm pretty sure we didn't get pizza though.

We also flew Braniff somewhere before they went under, and I loved their colorful planes.

And my hometown airline was Northwest, which is now Delta, but at the time was Northwest Orient! (GONG!) AIIIIIIR-LINES!

Which dead airlines do you remember?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Scent of the past

Not all of these scents at the Vermont Country Store are discontinued, but some of them bring back really fun old memories.
Giorgio! Wind Song! (It stays on my mind...) Coty Wild Musk! Sunflowers! Tigress! Aspen! My Sin! Emeraude! Vanderbilt! You're the Fire!

Remember any of them? What were the perfumes you remember from your childhood? I remember a lot of cheap Avon scents that came in really cool shaped bottles but never smelled too great. Everyone's mom had them on her bathroom counter though.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Classic Clip Monday: It's not nice to fool Mother Nature

Man, this commercial kind of freaked me out as a kid. Do you remember it? Do they even still make Chiffon margarine?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Funky Food Friday: New York Seltzer

Who remembers The Original New York Seltzer? Clear liquid in rounded bottles with those styrofoamy labels that were sheer awesomeness to peel off. It always kind of unnerved me that flavors like root beer, which I knew as brown, appeared clear.

As recently as 2001, it was sold at Big Lots, but now it's truly discontinued as far as we know.

The guy who used to run the company, Randy Miller, once appeared on "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous." He wasn't just a seltzer man, he works with exotic animals trained for the movies.

Do you remember this delightful beverage? It has a Facebook fan page.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

B. Kliban cat art

I never knew if B. Kliban was a man or a woman, but damn if I didn't know the name, and associate it with his oh-so-distinctive cat art that was everywhere in the 1980s.
Turns out he was a man, Bernard Kliban, who died in 1990. He was only 55 when he died of a pulmonary embolism. (His widow later married Bill "David Banner" Bixby -- how's that for a 1980s connection?)

His cats were everywhere. Mugs. Greeting cards. Stationary. It was hard to go to a mall in the 1980s and not see it somewhere.

Do you remember Kliban's cat art?