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.