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


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.