Sunday, April 23, 2017

Erin Moran (1960-2017)

Actress Erin Moran, most well known for playing Joanie Cunningham in the television sitcom Happy Days, and its spin-off Joanie Loves Chachi, has passed away.  

Moran also made appearances in many other shows. She will be fondly remembered by those who grew up in the '70s and '80s.  We'll miss you Joanie. 

Friday, April 14, 2017

J. Geils (1946-2017)

John Warren "J" Geils Jr., aka "J. Geils," the leader of the band of the same name, has passed on. He and his band will be remembered for their fun-loving rock from the '70s and '80s.  Above, check out their signature style on 1982's "Freeze Frame."  

Monday, April 10, 2017

Wall of Voodoo: "Mexican Radio"

I've gotten the urge to delve into some classic '80s music videos, and the music on those videos. After all, it was a cutting edge art form back then, and unleashed loads of quirky fun.

Here's Wall of Voodoo with "Mexican Radio"

Oddball, fun song. Love the lyric: "I wish I was in Tijuana, eating barbequed iguana."

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Friday Night Videos

I remember well the opening sequence from Friday Night Videos, a music video program broadcast on NBC round about midnight on Fridays.  The show was often a substitute for MTV, giving access to the then cutting edge medium of music videos to homes without cable. For the teen I was at the time, the flashy graphics were the epitome of '80s cool.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

My Freshman College Year (1988-89)

     I've been reminiscing a lot about my first year in college, and everything about it: how I was back then, what was going on around me, and what was happening in the world. 

     I started college in fall of 1988 at a university which was small compared to other universities, but larger than an average community college. It was a state university, but not one of the larger and more well known in the system. But it was close to home, and a convenient place to start college before going off to bigger schools farther from home.  It was a commuter school, with most students living off campus, so I spent a lot of time in my car driving to class and getting around. It gave me plenty of opportunity to listen to the radio.

     This beautiful song from The Church was often on the radio that year, "Under The Milky Way." (1988) I loved listening to this. (Acknowledgment for video to Rogerio Viera.)

     I was a somewhat of a loner at that time, as I still am to some degree. I made friends, and spent time with, a few individual friends who were like myself. I remember one thing we had in common was our love of music, and discussion of various topics. I spent a lot of my free time at the movies that year, including this big hit:  Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), a movie that created a new interest in animation. (Acknowledgment for video to Tue Nguyen.)

     U2's film, Rattle and Hum (1988)was out that year, and I remember seeing the film at the theater. This song from that movie was another radio favorite.  (Acknowledgment for video to MofoU2Slovakia.)

     Here's another song I heard a lot on the radio at that time: Love and Rockets' "So Alive." (1989)(Acknowledgment for video to Albert Alls)

The late '80s was a time of great nostalgia for yet another era: the Sixities. 
One example of this was the movie 1969, which came out in 1989.  It gave a fictional account about young people in that year, experiencing the idealism of that time, and facing the reality of the Vietnam War. In the late '80s, many looked back with fascination at that time.  (Acknowledgment for video to PennyKeating10.)

     1989 was the year of the Tiananmen Square protests in China, and the subsequent crackdown by the government against the protesters who were seeking freedom.  I remember watching the TV news reports of he dramatic events.

     Later that year, Communism fell in Eastern Europe, leading to the end of the Cold War.  It all seems so distant today, but its a historical moment that should never be forgotten. (Acknowledgement for video to the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.)

     I remember seeing this movie that year, a movie about a college debate team debating serious issues that were in the news back then. It featured two of the decades biggest young stars, and, although the plot was so-so, it kind of reminded me of my own situation of being an hopeful young college freshman. It was called Listen to Me (1989).  (Acknowledgement for video to osdatabase.)

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Two '80s Movie Posters

Chopping Mall (1986), "Where shopping costs you an arm and a leg." 

Loose Screws (1985), "More fun than you can shake your stick at!"

Okay, they're both pretty tasteless, but ya gotta admit they're clever!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Billy Ocean: "Suddenly"

For Valentines Day . . . here's a classic '80s ballad.

Billy Ocean's beautiful "Suddenly." (1985)

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Spuds Mackenzie Returns

Bud Light put out a Super Bowl commercial featuring the ghost of Spuds MacKenzie.

Does anyone remember Spuds MacKenzie?  Although he seems to have been forgotten nowadays, he was a popular advertising character during the late 1980s. Portrayed as "the original party animal," Spuds was the mascot, of sorts, for Bud Light beer during that decade.

Spuds was always portrayed as a fun-loving good times party goer, and always the center of attention, especially from the ladies.

According to Wikipedia the very first Spuds McKenzie commercial aired as a Super Bowl ad in 1987. Also, interestingly, Spuds, a Bull Terrier, "who was portrayed as male in the commercials, was actually female."

Alas, Spuds, whose real name was Honey Tree Evil Eye, succumbed in 1993 to kidney failure.

Here's to you Spuds . . . may you always be in that never-ending '80s party in the sky.

(Recognition and thanks to Budlight, Rtrt67, Retroguy80s, and Betmax for Youtube videos.)

Friday, February 3, 2017

Steven Wright: Quirky '80s Comedian

In the '80s, comedy was often quirky and offbeat . . . just like the '80s themselves. One of my favorite comedians who became popular at that time was Steven Wright, whose routine was to give unusual, and often bizarre, observations in a dry, deadpan manner.  His comedy is one of those authentically '80s things that gave that decade its distinctive style, and which made that time so much fun. And he's still at it.

Here are some of his best lines from his '80s routine:

  • "For my birthday I got a humidifier and a de­humidifier...I put them in the same room and let them fight it out."
  • "Sponges grow in the ocean. That just kills me. I wonder how much deeper the ocean would be if that didn't happen."
  • "Winny and I lived in a house that ran on static electricity...If you wanted to run the blender, you had to rub balloons on your head. If you wanted to cook, you had to pull off a sweater real quick."
  • "My house is made out of balsa wood, so when I want to scare the neighborhood kids I lift it over my head and tell them to get out of my yard or I'll throw it at them."
  • "I went to the hardware store and bought some used paint. It was in the shape of a house. I also bought some batteries, but they weren't included. So I had to buy them again."
  • "The judge asked, "What do you plead?" I said, "Insanity, your honour, who in their right mind would park in the passing lane?""
  • "All of the people in my building are insane. The guy above me designs synthetic hairballs for ceramic cats. The lady across the hall tried to rob a department store...with a pricing gun. She said, "Give me all of the money in the vault, or I'm marking down everything in the store.""
  • "In my house there's this light switch that doesn't do anything. Every so often I would flick it on and off just to check. Yesterday, I got a call from a woman in Germany. She said, "Cut it out.""
  • There's a fine line between fishing and standing on the shore looking like an idiot.  

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Remembering Mary Tyler Moore (1936-2017)

I have some strong and very positive memories of Mary Tyler Moore, from her time playing Laura Petrie in The Dick Van Dyke Show, to her groundbreaking role as Mary Richards in her own Mary Tyler Moore show.  Mary Tyler Moore always had a way of portraying wonderfully sympathetic, and lovable, but also strong characters. She was an icon who really did "make it after all."

Saturday, January 14, 2017

'80s Article: Computer Geeks New Big Men On Campus

In April 2012, this blog had a post titled "When Computers Became Cool," about the growing status of computer geeks in the '80s. (That post is re-posted in its entirety below this post.)  I found an old 1984 article which serves as a good follow up to this theme.  On May 8, 1984, the Wall Street Journal ran an article entitled "Knowing a Computer Can Be Fastest Way To a Woman's Heart: The New Big Men on Campus Find Technical Wizardry Is Quicker Than Liquor."

Click to enlarge.

Here's an excerpt:

Knowing a Computer Can Be Fastest Way To a Woman's Heart: The New Big Men on Campus Find Technical Wizardry Is Quicker Than Liquor
The Wall Street Journal
Friday, May 8, 1984

As a gangly high­school student, Michael Sattler had just five dates in four years. Then he discovered computers. Now girls have discovered him.
 It is exam time at Boston University, and glassy­eyed students work all night in a stuffy basement finishing up their computer projects. But in one corner, Mr. Sattler, now a 20­year­old junior, is having the time of his life.
He helps one young woman dressed in shorts and a T­shirt figure out a computer program. He flirts electronically with a second woman hundreds of miles away. A third female, who has shrugged off the attentions of other men in the computer center, solicits Mr. Sattler's opinion of her résumé. "It's idol worship," Mr. Sattler allows. 
It is also a sign of the times. Formerly disdained computer nerds are now big men on campus. Their mastery of inscrutable machines seems to be winning them the hearts of hithero unapproachable young ladies. "There are even a few recorded instances of girls going after hackers instead of football players, says Mr. Sattler. To turn the odds in his favor, he says, he spends 65 hours a week in the computer room and not just doing his homework.
It didnt quite turn out as the article predicts, but it shows what an emerging force computers were back then. Now theyre everywhere, and everyone is at least a little bit computer geek. 

When Computers Became Cool

(Originally posted April 27, 2012)

With the advent of the first personal computers during the late '70s and early '80s, there dawned a new era of coolness for computers and those who used them. Suddenly, those quirky, savvy "computer geeks" were the epitome of chic. There was even a certain shadowy sense of power that was perceived to derive from being hip to all the secrets and esoteric knowledge of computers. 

One of the best examples of this was the sci-fi flick Wargames (1983).

 Wargames was the story of a young computer hacker, played by Matthew Broderick, who succeeded in hacking into a powerful defense department computer which was enabled with the ability to launch nuclear missiles. Although the character played by Broderick originally thought that his interaction with the defense computer (dubbed the "WOPR") was just a game, things quickly escalated to the point of nearly causing a nuclear war.  The movie's portrayal of the race to prevent nuclear catastrophe, and the climactic ending, served as a moral lesson in the midst of the Cold War.

 Wargames became a popular and well remembered '80s movie classic, and also an example of the emergence of the computer geek. 

 A less easily remembered TV show that came along around the same time was Whiz Kids. Whiz Kids aired on CBS during 1983-84, a featured a story line about a group of computer savvy young teens who use their computer skills to fight crime.

Here is the opening credits to the short-lived Whiz Kids.

Afterward, computers, and those who kept the knowledge of computers, began to appear in many of the movies of the '80s. This included many of the nerd oriented flicks that appeared during the mid '80s, such as Revenge of the Nerds (1984) and Weird Science (1985).

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Three Kings Day, with Blondie and Hall & Oates

 Latin American cultures (which is my background) continue to celebrate the Christmas holiday season up until the day of Epiphany on January 6 (and some even after that). Epiphany in  Western Christianity celebrates the visit of the Magi (i.e. the three kings, or the three wise men) to Jesus just after his birth. (Whether this is historically accurate, I will leave for others to debate.)   It is also known, more popularly, as "Three Kings Day."

Well, as I am still celebrating the Christmas holidays, I thought I'd post an '80s-related video that connects with the holiday. The best I could do is this rockin' version of "We Three Kings" from '70s and '80s new wave group Blondie. (!!)  The song came out in 2009, and it's . . .  different.  I do love Blondie though. And Three Kings Day is here.  So enjoy!!  

(Thanks to Michael Gaylin via Youtube.)

Since my Christmas tree is still up, let me add this: Daryl Hall and John Oates doing their version of "Jingle Bell Rock."  Its from 1983, so authentically '80s! And the video sure looks it. Love that '80s quirkiness!!  Enjoy!!

(Thanks to hallandoatesVEVO.)