Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Years in the '80s



During the 1980s, specifically during the years 1981 to 1988, the traditional new years eve Times Square Ball, which drops during the countdown to a new year, was decorated in the form of an apple, with red bulbs and a green stem, to commemorate the city of New York, aka, "the Big Apple."


Here's a video, courtesy of Youtube, of New Years Eve 1985, as the new year 1986 was rung in, showing the "Big apple" drop.


In 1989, the ball returned to its traditional appearance, a plain white ball with white lightbulbs. 


Happy New Year to everyone!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

St. Elmo's Fire & Friends


One of my most enjoyable movies from the '80s is St. Elmo's Fire, the 1984 brat-pack ensemble account of relationships among disparate friends. The movie has sometimes been criticized as being indulgent, and highly unrealistic. . . and truthfully, at times it is. However, I still get a lot of '80s retro pleasure out of watching this movie. Its one of those films I can put on and just let it run, knowing exactly what the next scene is, and what most of the dialogue will be.

I guess two things that I find so appealing about it are: First, that it is so very '80s, and '80s in a rather appealing way. The cinematography is actually quite beautiful at times, making use of the natural colors and beauty of the scenery of the Georgetown section of Washington, D.C.  And secondly, the positive and hopeful way that it presents post-college age youth. 

Of course, there are some highly unrealistic aspects of the movie. For example, just how did the Judd Nelson and Ally Sheedy characters, supposedly recent college grads, afford such a spacious apartment? But at its best, St. Elmo's Fire resembled a hazy '80s dream of friendship, inhabited by quirky '80s personalities, soundtracked by catchy '80s music, and colored with vivid '80s colors.  


The '90s had its own version of the "group of cool friends" scenario, in the '90s TV show Friends. I've enjoyed watching Friends in part because it seemed to so resemble St. Elmo's Fire, and because Friends came along at just the exact time that I myself was going through the experience of being in my post-undergrad college years. It was good to see (again, however unrealistically) my own generation being portrayed as cool and hip.

 I must admit that, being the loner that I have often been, the notion of having such a close knit group of cool friends has been more of an ideal for me than reality. (I mean, don't get me wrong... I've had friends, but not many as close as these characters are portrayed to be.) But I still found it enjoyable to buy into the concept of being young, and hip, and able to come up with witty one liners during animated conversations at a college coffee shop.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Peace on Earth



One last Christmas wish. 


From 1977, David Bowie and Bing Crosby.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

'80s Christmas Songs: U2 and Wham!



Heres a great '80s Christmas Song, from a group of '80s musical greats: U2 doing "(Christmas) Baby Please Come Home," off of the '80s charity album "A Very Special Christmas."




And here's '80s British popsters Wham! with a very '80s Christmas song and video: "Last Christmas" from 1984.

Wishing all my readers a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, and a Happy Holidays!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Gift Books for '80s Fans


Need some last minute gift ideas? Here are some '80s oriented books I would recommend, for your friend or family member who is a fan of '80s culture: 

"Talking with Girls About Duran Duran" by Rob Sheffield: A very enjoyable account of growing up in the 1980s, from the real life point of view of a semi-geeky '80s music-phile. (As a semi-geeky '80s music-phile myself, I enjoyed this book thoroughly.) Each chapter is named after a song of that era, and the sometimes comical, always lighthearted accounts the book contains is sure to bring nostalgic thoughts to anyone who grew up as a quirky kid of that era. Heavy on the New Wave and MTV side of the '80s music spectrum.


"Fargo Rock City" by Chuck Klosterman: If '80s heavy metal is your thing, then maybe this book is for you. An account of growing up a metalhead in '80s rural heartland America, this book offers both a glimpse into growing up as an '80s headbanger, and a defense of '80s heavy metal as a music and a cultural scene. Click Here for More.



"I Want My MTV" by Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum: An account of the early days and progression of the MTV, the music video channel which practically defined the '80s and which was truly cutting edge at the time. The book includes many accounts of those there at the time, and who were part of the breakthrough music video channel while it was making history. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Christmas Story


One of my recently acquired Christmas obsessions is the fun and enjoyable 1983 movie A Christmas Story. Based upon writer Jean Shepherd's semi-fictionalized account of a young boy, Ralphie, experiencing the Christmas holidays in 1940s Indiana with his parents, his younger brother, and his neighborhood friends. I love movies that convey a time period with great detail, and A Christmas Story clearly fits into this category. 


This movie contains one of the funniest scenes ever, where one of the young protagonist's friends gets his tongue stuck to metal pole in the cold of winter. The main story line, however, also full of funny moments, concerns Ralphie's ongoing quest to obtain a BB gun for Christmas, despite the objections ("you'll shoot your eye out, kid") of various adult figures, including his mother, his teacher, and a store Santa Claus.   


But I think the main reason I find this movie so enjoyable is that its a rather realistic, yet fun, holiday movie that doesn't take itself too seriously. It involves a rather average family doing their best to enjoy the holidays amidst
dealing with everyday life. Ultimately, this movie is about having a Merry Christmas with what you have, and with those you have around you.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas with The Muppets



Heres a great Christmas clip that always makes me smile. Its the Muppets with John Denver singing "The Twelve Days of Christmas." Its from a 1979 performance.


Speaking of the Muppets, I recently saw the new Muppets movie, simply called The Muppets. It was wonderful. Of course you have to like musicals, story lines  which are sunny and have a happy ending, and, of course, the Muppets. It also helps to have a sense of nostalgia for the golden age of the Muppets, which would be the late '70s and '80s, as the movie has many tributes to that era. There are a lot of great "remember when" moments in the movie, including a version of the song "Rainbow Connection" (from the original 1979 Muppet Movie) and a rendition of "We Built This City," the '80s hit by the Starship.


Getting back to Christmas, heres another shot of the holidays from the Muppets. And thank you, Jim Henson (1936-1990) for these wonderful creations. 


Monday, December 5, 2011

Do They Know Its Christmas



In 1984, a group of primarily British and Irish musicians united to collect fund for famine relief in Africa. A project initiated by musicians Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, they called themselves Band Aid, and they released a memorable Christmas single called "Do They Know Its Christmas."  Band Aid was literally a "whos who" of the '80s British music scene, and included, among others, such names as Boy George, Sting, George Michael, Phil Collins, David Bowie and members of Bananarama, Duran Duran, and U2.


"Do They Know Its Christmas" went on to become a major holiday song in 1984, and a wonderful memory of that year. It also ultimately led to additional efforts at famine relief, such as USA for Africa and the enormous Live Aid concert in 1985.


Update: in searching for info on Band Aid, I discovered that two fellow bloggers have posted in previous years about this great '80s song: 


I Miss My Childhood


and


Trapped In The '80s Moms 


Another update: And another blog mention of this great '80s song!!:

Friday, December 2, 2011

Back to the '70s: Coca Cola Christmas




This is the Coke Christmas tree commercial from 1977 which I remember so very fondly from my childhood. The song is "I'd Love To Teach The World To Sing," and it reflected in a beautiful way the spirit of the season. 






Heres a 1978 version of the commercial. Same song, a little different.



Here is the original classic commercial which used the "I'd Love To Teach The World To Sing" song. Entitled "Hilltop," this original version was not strictly  Christmas related, but rather was first released on July 1971. Its message was one of hope, and featured young people from all around the world assembled on a hilltop in Italy, each holding a bottle of Coke from their respective countries. The song "I'd Love To Teach The World To Sing," with the reference to Coke removed, later became a big hit for The New Seekers and a studio group called the Hillside Singers.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

More '80s Nerds



Thinking about the recent post on Revenge of the Nerds, I got to thinking about other cool scenes from that cool movie.




One that came to mind was the very '80s-esque performance of the nerds during the college talent show competition. This performance is very, very '80s. Its got new wavish syth music, Devo-ish hair styles, and Michael Jackson imitators doing the Moonwalk. Admittedly, the Lamar character (in the Michael Jackson jacket doing the "rap") is a bit much, but check out the computer toting nerd dudes sporting the '80s styles!!  


And theres also the very '80s opening song, by the Rubinoos.




Okay nerds.. Let's go!


Mom packs us a lunch and we're off to the school,
They call us nerds 'cause we're so uncool.
They laugh at our clothes, they laugh at our hair
The girls walk by with the nose in the air.


So go ahead, put us down
One of these days we will turn it around
Won't be long, mark my words
Time has come for Revenge of the nerds!


Revenge of the nerds
Revenge of the nerds


We wear horn-rimmed glasses with a heavy duty lens
Button down shirts and a pocket full of pens
Straight A students, teachers' pets
They call us nerds but with no regrets


So go ahead, put us down
One of these days we will turn it around
Won't be long, mark my words
Time has come for Revenge of the nerds!


Revenge of the nerds (Nerds)
Revenge of the nerds (Hahaha)
Revenge of the nerds (Baah)
Revenge of the nerds


(Nerds)While the jocks work out (Nerds) with the football team (Nerds)
We're trying to score with the girl of our dream
You know we ain't good looking but here's a surprise:
Nerds are great lovers in disguise


So go ahead, put us down
One of these days we will turn it around
Won't be long, mark my words
Time has come for Revenge of the nerds!


Revenge of the nerds
Revenge of the nerds (Nerds!)
Revenge of the nerds (Neerds)
Revenge of the nerds (Hahaha)


So if they call you a dork, a spazz or a geek
Stand up and be proud, don't be meak
(Hey!)Beautiful people, haven't you heard?
The joke's on you, it's revenge of the nerds


So go ahead, put us down
One of these days we will turn it around
Won't be long, mark my words
Time has come for Revenge of the nerds!


Revenge of the nerds (Nerds!)
Revenge of the nerds
Revenge of the nerds (Who, me?)
Revenge of the nerds
Revenge of the nerds (Hahaha)
Revenge of the nerds (Neerds)
Revenge of the nerds (Baah)
Revenge of the nerds 



Friday, November 25, 2011

Revenge of the Nerds




One of the things I remember most fondly about the '80s were the trend of nerd films: films like Revenge of the Nerds, Weird Science, and my fave, Real Genius where oddball, brainy outsiders were the heroes. 


The end sequence of Revenge of the Nerds, culminating in an inspiring speech, is a classic. Its really about misfits and oddballs and people who just don't fit in finding their place in society and standing up for who they are.  Its a message which should resonate with anyone who has ever felt different, regardless  of whether one considers oneself a "nerd" or "geek" or "freak" or any other category.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!!



A Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers!!

The above clip is a 1988 Metlife commercial, aired during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (always an important part of Thanksgiving for me, ever since I was little). 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Growing Pains


I used to enjoy the '80s sitcom Growing Pains. There was something about all of the characters that I could like and appreciate.

The parents, Jason and Maggie Seaver, were baby boomers, a member of that extraordinarily large generation which came of age during the '60s, and which were often featured on many an '80s movie or TV show. Boomers, who at the time were in their 30s, and many of whom were what was then termed "young urban professionals" (or "Yuppies" for short), were most identified with the movie The Big Chill and the TV show Thirtysomething.  But they were everywhere, including sitcoms like this. 

I kinda liked it, actually, since I had my own nostalgia for the '60s back then, and had a strong attraction to '60s culture. I remember there was an episode where some youthful acquaintances of the now middle aged Jason Seaver got together with him, and encouraged him to re-join in their effort at reviving the rock band that they had been in during their teen years. 

Their daughter, Carol Anne Seaver, was a nerdy, intellectual kid. I was too, and I identified with her most. Later on in the show, she was shown going off to college, and interacting with other would be intellectual youths.

Their older son, Mike (played by Kirk Cameron), was initially a goof off, but later on became involved in the theater. As a high school drama kid, of course I could identify with his interest, and his transformation into a "theater kid."

Then there was their younger son, Ben, who was just sort of there. He was okay though.



As time went on, the family changed, aged  and grew. New characters were introduced, including one played, in one of his first roles by the very young Leonardo DiCaprio.


Growing Pains ran from September 24, 1985, to April 25, 1992.




Only somewhat related to the topic: Here's Jim Carrey doing an pretty good impersonation of Alan Thicke, who played the father, Jason Seaver. From a 2011 episode of Saturday Night Live.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Hungry Like The Wolf



Here's the adventurous music video for Duran Duran's big 1983 hit "Hungry Like The Wolf."  

This was a breakthrough hit for Duran Duran, a band which exploded onto popularity in America as part of the Second British Invasion, and which would go on to score a large number of more hits during the '80s.


This week has been devoted to the Second British Invasion of music groups which exploded onto the American music scene in 1983. My previous posts on the subject are below. I encourage checking them out:


Repost: MTV and the Second British Invasion Groups: Culture Club


"Britain Rocks America- Again"


The Police


The Kinks: "Come Dancing"

Repost: Second British Invasion: Madness and Thomas Dolby

Friday, November 11, 2011

Repost: Second British Invasion: Madness and Thomas Dolby

This is a re-post of the June 23, 2011 post. I'm re-posting it as part of a week devoted to the Second British Invasion.


The Second British Invasion of 1983 is most often associated with its most popular acts, like Duran Duran, Culture Club, Eurythmics and the Police. But the launching of MTV brought exposure to a large number of quirky bands from both sides of the Atlantic. And the new art form of music videos generated a lot of creative, quirky and fun-loving masterpieces. Heres two such examples from the UK:


The Second British Invasion of the early '80s really did open the door for Americans to access a wide range of arty British musical culture which had not made it to the USA before. A lot of it was from the various subgenres which sprung up in the New Wave aftermath of punk in the '70s and early '80s. One example is the group Madness. Madness originated in the ska reveival which took place in Britain around 1978-79, but which didn't really obtain too much exposure in the United States. Finally, in 1983, Madness joined the British Invasion to hit it big with the chipper, catchy song "Our House," a big hit in '83.  The writer Simon Reynolds, in his book, "Rip It Up and Start Again" compared this song to the Beatle's "Penny Lane."



The Second British Invasion also brought the quirky, creative synth-pop of Thomas Dolby. A good example of it is the sonf "She Blinded Me With Science," which actually became more of a hit in America than in the UK. And a big hit it was. The video is an excellent example of how creative and fun-loving video could be during the early '80s. It kind of reminds me of the Beatles films in the late '60s, with its quirky humor and smile-inducing imagery.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Kinks- "Come Dancing"



The Kinks first became well known during the first British Invasion of music groups during the 1964-1965 era, with hits such as "You Really Got Me," and "All Day and All of the Night," and "Tired of Waiting for You."  In 1970, they again hit on both sides of the Atlantic, with "Lola."  Although the Kinks continued to make music, and continued their popularity in the U.K., they largely disappeared from the U.S. charts during the '70s.

Then in 1983, after an absence of many years, the Kinks joined in the Second British Invasion of the U.S. music charts, and had a big hit with a wonderful song called "Come Dancing." "Come Dancing" was a sentimental gem of a song which tenderly recalled times past. According to Wikipedia:

 The song is a nostalgic look back at childhood memories of its writer: the Kinks' frontman Ray Davies, remembering his older sister going on dates to the local Palais dance hall where big bands would play. The lyrics tell how the Palais has been demolished and his sister now has her own daughters who are going on dates.
"Come Dancing" is a tribute to Davies' sister Rene who bought him his first guitar, with the song's lyrics affording Davies' sister a happy life denied her in reality. Living in Canada with her (reportedly abusive) husband, the 31-year-old Rene was visiting her parental home in Fortis Green at the time of Ray Davies' thirteenth birthday — 21 June 1957 — on which she surprised him with a gift of the Spanish guitar he'd tried to persuade his parents to buy him. On the evening of the same day, Rene — who had a weak heart as a result of a childhood bout of rheumatic fever — suffered a fatal heart attack while dancing at the Lyceum ballroom.
Its a sweet song, and a great song for a comeback by the Kinks onto the American airwaves.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Police



The Police, one of the first new wave bands to achieve worldwide success, first achieved their popularity during the late '70s and early '80s. In 1983, they joined the wave of British bands invading America with their hugely successful album, Synchronicity. An album containing creative and catchy songs which also often had an intellectual edge and social commentary, Synchronicity was a presence on the album charts throughout 1983.






The highest charting song off of Synchronicity was the very popular "Every Breath You Take," a song that I remember being heavily played on the radio during 1983.




  One of the most creative videos, however, belonged to one of the follow up singles, "Wrapped Around Your Finger."   


Shortly after the major success of Synchronicity, the groups brainy lead singer, Sting, left to undertake a solo career. Always lending an intellectual element to the '80s music scene, Sting was often a champion of human rights causes and the source of many creative artistic efforts in both music and acting.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

"Britain Rocks America- Again"




On January 23, 1984, Newsweek magazine featured a cover with Boy George and Annie Lennox, and a big article about the colorful wave of new British music groups which were invading America with help the help of the new cutting edge music channel, MTV. According to Newsweek:

"The British are coming -again. Twenty Years after the Beatles first appeared on 'The Ed Sullivan show,' conquering America. with their long hair, cheeky wit and pell mell rock and roll, a new wave of British bands is exciting a new generation of American fans."




Newsweek described the style of the new groups:

"Irony abounds. The mood is sardonic. Singers sometimes border on catatonic. And the look of the new  bands is something else again. Some of them sport clothes and haircuts that recall 'Brideshead Revisited.' Others evoke 'Blade Runner' or 'the Road warrior.' Still others recall Marlon Brando in 'The Wild One.' Lined up, they would form an improbable parade of ghouls, transvestites, bikers with spiked dog collars, mercenaries in battle fatigues, tie-dyed tramps and dapper young squires."
I think the description is a bit much, but it shows how mainstream culture viewed this colorful new, varied musical style, with its odd styles and quirky videos. But for many of us growing up at the time, its was all fun and exciting and new.





The article goes on to describe the American attraction to the new British musical invasion:


"America is welcoming the new wave with open arms -- and wallets. The extent of the new British beachhead was revealed on July 16, 1983, when 18 singles of British origin appeared in the American Top 40, eclipsing the previous record, set on June 19, 1965. Heading the list of last summer's top British groups was the Police. Close behind were other such familiar stars as David Bowie, the 37 year old godfather to many of the new British groups, and the Kinks, veterans of the first British invasion, enjoying their biggest hit in years. But the brightest names were Culture Club and Eurythmics - two new groups that continue to dominate American airwaves six months later. Culture Club is currently enjoying its fifth straight Top 40 single and Eurythmics has just released and striking new album, "Touch," that contains some of the strongest electronic pop yet. Meanwhile the bland but best selling Duran Duran, with its glamorous video clips, is preparing a North American tour that some insiders predict will be one of the top grosses of the spring season."

Friday, November 4, 2011

Repost: MTV and The Second British Invasion Groups: Culture Club


This is my repost of the June 8, 2011 post. I'm re-posting it as the beginning of a week of posts devoted to the Second British Invasion: the wave of British music groups which invaded American culture in 1982-83 with the help of MTV.


The 1980s were an era of colorful, quirky music qroups. Early in the decade, MTV went on the air, initiating the era of music videos, and exposing American culture to the quirky musical subculture called New Wave. New Wave dated to the late 1970s, with the emergence, in the wake of punk, of arty, quirky musical acts like the Talking Heads, Devo, Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, and Blondie. But its comibation with the new media of MTV in the early '80s exposed it on a large scale to the American public, and turned it from a oddball subculture, into mainstream culture. And America ate it up.

A large number of the groups given exposure by MTV came from Britain, and thus, in 1982-83, was initiated what was called the Second British Invasion... the first being the 1964-65 invasion of British musical groups like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Animals, Hermans Hermits, and the like. The Second British invasion of 1982-83 was similarly a cultural and musical invasion and included the likes of very popular multi-hit acts like Duran Duran, the Police, Culture Club, Eurythmics, and the Human League and lesser lights such as ska revivalist Madness, catchy celtic tinged popsters Dexys Midnight Runners, and synth virtuoso Thomas Dolby.

Culture club was one of the more memorable groups to come out of this invasion. Emerging out of the Bowie-inspired theatrical New Romantic subculture, Culture Club was an easily recgnizable presence during the early '80s, due in large part to their gender bending lead signer, Boy George.




The very first big hit for Culure Club in the U.S. was 1982's "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me," which really hit big the following year. I still remember vividly watching this video, and just being amazed at this andogynous character singing this remarkably catchy tune. This was also around the time I started getting into music videos, itself still a new medium, and it was also when I really started getting into music in a big way. It was my early teens, and my sense of being an adolescent was growing strong. This new, shiny quirky catchy music just captured my imagination.

Culture Club would have many more hits in the '80s, all this catchy soulful pop punctuated by Boy George's rather rather appealing smooth voice. Among them, "Karma Chamelion," below, which is another wondeful example of the music video medium, and the optimistic catchy popishness of the New Romantic/New Wave era.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

E.T. Pepsi Commercial




The recent post on E. T. has gotten me thinking about how much that movie permeated '80s culture, including its commercials. 

Here's an '80s era Pepsi commercial starring E.T., and featuring some of the same hopeful, enchanting imagery which was a central aspect of the movie.

This is one of the wonderful things I remember about growing up in the '80s: the sense of hope and wonder, as conveyed through the creations of the great Steven Spielberg.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Thriller Night: Happy Halloween



Darkness falls across the land
The midnight hour is close at hand
Creatures crawl in search of blood
To terrorize y’awl’s neighborhood
And whosoever shall be found
Without the soul for getting down
Must stand and face the hounds of hell
And rot inside a corpse’s shell
The foulest stench is in the air
The funk of forty thousand years
And grizzly ghouls from every tomb
Are closing in to seal your doom
And though you fight to stay alive
Your body starts to shiver
For no mere mortal can resist
The evil of the thriller 

-Vincent Price, off of an '80s classic, 
Michael Jackson's "Thriller"

The videos a classic too!!




Happy Halloween !!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Elvira


The Halloween season has brought to mind the fun, ghoulie aspect of the '80s. 


One of the features of '80s television was Elvira, a spooky gothy she-vixen who hosted a syndicated horror movie show. 


She was dubbed the "mistress of the dark."  



Here's Elvira on a local TV station announcing an upcoming feature. Of course, the movie she is referring to is A Nightmare on Elm Street, with its very '80s ghoul Freddy Krueger.




Her popularity spread beyond the program to include commercials and other appearances. Here she is doing a commercial for Coors Lite beer.



And here is a gratuitous, completely unrelated song from the early '80s by the Oak Ridge Boys, which I just put on here for the heck of it. I dunno, but I'm scared already.


Sing along now:

Elvira, Elvira, my heart is on fire for Elvira.
Eyes that look like heaven, lips like sherry wine 
That girl can sure enough make my little light shine 
I get a funny feelin' up and down my spine 
'Cause I know that my Elvira's mine  

Friday, October 21, 2011

E.T.



I remember when my parents took me to see E.T., '80s sci-fi classic from Steven Spielberg.


The movie came out in June 1982, so this must have been mid to late late '82. I was a somewhat nerdy, awkward 12 years old loner, often in living in my own odd dreamy world. The fact that I was also an only child added to my solitary nature, I suppose. But I was quite close to my parents, although sometimes I even felt misunderstood by them as well, and this would occasionally lead to conflict in my teen years. But this memory was one of being close to them, and I treasure it now as I sit here writing about it.


We went to see the film at a small, one theater cinema in the downtown of our small home town. It was an old theater that had been there seemingly forever, and was still there in the '80s. It was in the very midst of the fan mania that developed over the film, and there was a long line that stretched around the entire front of the small theater and around the side to the parking lot out back.  


We took our place in line, and when we got inside the theater was packed to capacity, with every seat filled.  At that age, I was not yet used to going to see movies at the theater, so the whole thing was quite new to me. I remember we got some popcorn and Coke, and took our seats in the crowded theater. I also remember that in the midst of the movie, someone spilled a drink a row behind us. But I remember the experience fondly.




I remember the pleasure I got in seeing this beautiful film.  There was a tangible warmth about it, there were so many different details that seemed to shine through about the film. I remember the funny scene where E.T. inspires the young protagonist, Eliot, to come to the rescue of the frogs which were to be used during his school's science class, and he proceeds to cause havoc by freeing all of them in the midst of class. I also remember that my mother cried when E.T. briefly appeared to die, and I remember the joy that came when he miraculously revived and was alive.  




It felt like I was part of some wonderful phenomenon that all of America was participating in, and maybe beyond our borders to the world.  I somehow felt like I identified with the young protagonist Eliot, played by actor Henry Thomas. But then, didn't we all identify with young Eliot at that young age, befriending this wondrous being from another world.  




Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A CBS Special Presentation



Speaking of Intros, here's the truly memorable Intro graphic which CBS used right before any special program. This graphic was used all through the late '70s and well into the '80s. As a young child, I became familiar with its appearance right before many holiday cartoon specials.

Those were the days.

Monday, October 17, 2011

'80s TV Movie Intros



Back in the late '70s and '80s, when there were only three big networks (ABC, NBC, and CBS), evening movies were a major staple of network television. Check out the amazing graphics from this ABC opening for its Sunday night movie. I remember this intro vividly from that era.



Heres the Intro for CBS' weekly Saturday Night movie. This Intro was used during the late '70s through the early '80s.  As you can see by both of the above openings, flashy graphics was big back then for movie intros. I guess the intent was build excitement for the movie about to be presented.


Of course, cable was also around at that time, but it was just beginning, and there were only a few channels. Here's a truly cool intro for the cable movie channel HBO.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Late Night Re-runs (circa mid '80s)





I've been recovering from a strong bout of the flu, or something flu-ish. I guess spending so much time at home gave me time to think. For some reason, I started to remember some shows I used to watch late night on Fridays. Although my parents were always squeamish about my staying up late, they were a little more accepting of my doing so on Fridays and Saturdays, since the day after is not a school night.


In the mid-80s, when I was around 13 or  14, I used to love to stay up late on Friday nights and watch the programming of this particular local TV station, which ran several old series in a row. Even back then, I was into retro pop culture, and I loved seeing these old TV programs, all of which carried some of the flavor of their respective eras.



The evening would start right after the 11:00 news was over. At 11:30 would come the first program in my Friday late night schedule: the original Battlestar Galactica, which ran for a few years in the late '70s. I remembered the series when it first came out (and I was 7 or 8), but didn't get as much into it until my early teens and the shows re-emergence on late night re-runs.

I absolutely loved the original Battlestar Galactica, the '70s post-Sta Wars style sci-fi, the action, and in particular, the concept of a race of humans escaping from their doomed world, fighting off a predatory alien machanized race called "cylons," and risking it all for the hope of a new home: "a shining planet known as earth."




Heres the opening credits. The "shining planet known as Earth" reference was from the closing credits. Its all good.



Now heres when some will consider my viewing choices to veer toward the geeky. But so be it! After the original Battlestar Galactica, the rest of the night veered toward the 1960s. The next show in line was The Patty Duke Show, which ran during the mid-'60s, around the time the musical British Invasion brought the Beatles and their kin to America's shores. 



The Patty Duke Show featured the novelty of the namesake actress, the young Ms. Duke, playing two roles: that of nearly identical cousins, Patty and Cathy, who are otherwise complete opposites. This program is a remarkable time capsule of that era, and you can practically imagine the Beatles or the Stones or some folkie group on the radio. I remember loving this show for that reason, even as a someone in his early teens during the '80s.

Then came two more light-hearted, gentle comedies from the late '60s and early '70s. First, Family Affair, a gentle late '60s sitcom, which I found sometimes a little too cutesy. But it was there to watch, so I did.


And then the Doris Day Show, another gentle comedy which ran from 1968 to 1973. In looking over the show again on Youtube, I can now tell that most of the shows I saw came from the early '70s, where a plot shift took the main character (Doris Martin) from being a widowed mother to two young boys living in a rural area, to moving to San Francisco and being a reporter for a glossy magazine. 

As with the others, part of the appeal of the show was just how "'60s" (or early '70s, as the case may be) it all looked. This was not the '60s of long hair and hippies (although I kind like that too), but rather the modish Swinging '60s. 


Now way past midnight, the evening ended with Elvira's show, featuring some usually cheap horror flick with the hostess' comments during breaks. By this point, I was probably very drowsy, and likely to either call it quits and go to sleep, or to fall asleep watching the movie. Suffice it to say this is the last I remember of those evenings.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

'70s Memory: Crystal Gayle and the Muppets


Heres a somewhat strange, yet enchanting performance from a 1979 episode of the Muppet Show. The guest performer was Crystal Gayle, and the song is "We Must Believe In Magic." I find the song hopeful, in a strange mystical sort of way.

Mad is the captain of Alpha Centauri
We must be out of our minds
Still we are shipmates bound for tomorrow
And everyone here's flying blind

Oh, we must believe in magic
We must believe in the guiding hand
If you believe in magic
You'll have the universe at your command

Mad is the crew bound for Alpha Centauri
Dreamers and poets and clowns
Bold is the ship bound for Alpha Centauri
Nothing can turn it around

Oh, we must believe in magic
We must believe in the guiding hand
If you believe in magic
You'll have the universe at your command

La-la-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da
La-da-da-da-da-da-da
La-la-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da
La-da-da-da-da-da-da

Oh, we must believe in magic
We must believe in the guiding hand
If you believe in magic
You'll have the universe at your command

La-la-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da
La-da-da-da-da-da-da
La-la-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da
La-da-da-da-da-da-da

Oh, we must believe in magic
We must believe in the guiding hand
If you believe in magic
You'll have the universe at your command

La-la-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da
La-da-da-da-da-da-da
La-la-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da
La-da-da-da-da-da-da

Oh, we must believe in magic
We must believe in the guiding hand
If you believe in magic
You'll have the universe at your command

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Where Everybody Knows Your Name


When I was a teen, growing up in the '80s, one of my most comforting memories was of the opening credits to the popular TV show Cheers. Although I sometimes watched the show, and enjoyed it, I was never as big a Cheers fanatic as so many other people.  

But the opening credits were always a must see for me. The theme song itself was part of the attraction. It begins by noting the taxing nature of modern life (in the '80s), which "takes everything you've got," and then segues into the catchy refrain about wanting to be "where everybody knows your name."


But just as appealing were the montage of images which appeared along with the song, a series of pictures of people seemingly enjoying the pleasures of being at a pub, with its drinks and social life. The pictures all have a historical quality to them, lending the sense that such activity has occurred through time, and continues to the time of the program . . . the '80s and early '90s.

There is one photo, for example, which has people in a bar with drinks, with one man holding up a newspaper which reads "WE WIN" in all captal letters. Growing up, I had thought that the headline referred to the end of World war II, but it in fact refers to the end of Prohibition. In restrospect, this seems all the more appropriate given that the show takes place in a drinking establishment. 


Another photo shows a group of young males of another era, perhaps college kids, all trying to look dapper and sophisticated.

I always thought that the combination of words and music put forth the idea that time passes, but certain things remain the same. That so many things have come and gone through time and history, and that here we were, in the '80s, taking our place in time. Yet, some things were constant, through it all. Through it all, don't we all really want to sometimes go to a place "where everybody knows your name."



Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got.
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.

Wouldn't you like to get away?

Sometimes you want to go

Where everybody knows your name,
and they're always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows
Your name.