Friday, March 16, 2018

Friday, February 23, 2018

The Last Starfighter (Re-post)

The '80s were an era full of wonderful sci-fi movies. One great little movie that has developed a solid cult following is The Last Starfighter, a 1984 movie which exemplified the '80s in a number of ways. It was, along with Tron (1982), one of the first movies to feature computer animation. It was one of many space-related fantasy movies out at the time, and it featured the '80s fascination with video games.

The film's protagonist, Alex Rogan is a typical '80s teen with dreams and ambitions who lives in a trailer park with his mother and younger brother. He longs to leave for greener pastures, but in the meantime, he bides his time while engaging in that very '80s passion: video games. In particular, he becomes adept at a space oriented Starfighter video game located at the trailer park, where he gets very good at beating the bad guys in an epic space battle.

One day, he is approached by Centauri, who claims to be the inventor of the Starfighter video game. It turn out Centauri is actually a disguised alien who is scouting for starfighters to save the universe from the clutches of an evil space bad guys the Ko-Dan Empire.  The part of Centauri was played by famed actor Robert Preston, most well known for playing traveling salesman Harold Hill in The Music Man (1962).

Alex is taken to the faraway planet Rylos, reluctantly recruited into the Rylan Star League, and introduced to Grig, a friendly repitilian alien who is to be Alex's navigator.

The Ko-Dan Empire is led by the evil Emperor Xur, who leads a sneak attack on Rylos, decimating the ranks of the starfighters, and leaving only Alex and Grig to fight for the freedom of the universe.

It is now up to Alex and Grig to save the universe.


Alex is trained to be a pilot and sent off with Grig to fight the Emporer Xur in a fighter craft called a Gunstar.  Caution: Spoilers immediately ahead!

Thankfully, the Gunstar is equipped with a powerful new weapon, called the "Death Blossom."

Suffice it to say, the universe is saved and Alex returns to Earth a hero. Here he is with his girlfriend.

The movie has quite a following, and its a fun and positive little sci-fi adventure that was truly of its time. And true to its time, it encouraged you to look to the future with hope.

Monday, February 12, 2018

For Valentines Day: "Hello"

I've posted this one before on a prior Valentines Day, but it just fits so well. Lovely song. For my love.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Billy Ocean - "Loverboy"

Here's a fantastic example from the era of music videos, Billy Ocean's very sci-fi video for "Loverboy." The '80s were the MTV era (when MTV really was "Music Television"), but it was also the era of E.T. and Steven Spielberg and many sci-fi/fantasy movies. This video clearly draws inspiration from them. Good fun '80s stuff!

Friday, January 26, 2018

Simple Minds - "Don't You (Forget About Me)"

Here's an absolute '80s classic: Simple Minds' "Dont You (Forget About Me)," which was featured in the seminal 1985 John Hughes movie The Breakfast Club.  The song always seemed to me to have a somewhat anthemic quality to it, and a sentiment symbolic of '80s teens who took many of those teen movies to heart. I was one of them.  The video also reminds you of how fresh, lively and even cutting edge the art of music video was at the time.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Mall Memories

Some of the best memories of my '70s childhood and '80s adolescence took place in shopping malls. Nowadays there is talk that the age of the shopping mall is passing (although you couldn't tell it from some of the malls where I live, where there are several thriving), but in the '70s and '80s the mall was at its height as a center of commerce and popular meeting place.

I have so many good memories of being in these climate-controlled, air conditioned shopping centers, and here are some.

The Style. Malls in the '70s and '80s had such a different style than today. Back then the typical mall aimed for a futuristic style that resembled the city in Logan's Run. Modern sculpture, water features, and lighting were common. 

Fountains. Most Malls of the '70s and '80s featured fountains, usually with the same modern style. Lots of them too, often in different locations of the same mall.  I loved those, and the fun ambiance they created. 

The Stores. I remember the specialty stores that you sometimes found only in malls, where you found them in abundance. Food vendors like Fanny Farmer Candies and Hickory Farms. Bookstores like Waldenbooks and B. Dalton Books. Record stores like Camelot records. Big department stores, some no longer in existence, like Burdines, Robinsons, Maas Brothers, and Jordan Marsh. There always seemed to be a store selling electric organs, featuring someone hired to play it and attract customers. Chick Fil-A was, at that time, found almost always in malls. Some of those names and experiences are now forgotten, others continue as much cherished establishments.

Growing up, my family used to eat at York Steak House, a family restaurant commonly found in malls. The decor at York often had the dark wood style so often found during that era, with a certain "Olde English" decor. We would then walk over to Doctor Pet Center, a typical mall pet shop where we would look at the various animals they had on display. And then we would go through the mall to enjoy the various sights and sounds of the mall. As a teen, this would involve bookstores and record stores, where I would indulge my musical and reading tastes as a nerdy teen.

Now, it is said that internet shopping and outdoor shopping centers are eclipsing the old malls. But I will always remember fondly the ways malls used to be. They were a safe place where you could stroll, get the latest record, and get something to eat. Here's to malls of the '70s and '80s.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year from Space

I'm a major fan of the space exploration. It always gives me hope in the human ability to advance, and even the most mundane space missions seem exciting because . . . its space!  So occasionally, I feature some space-related posts, regardless of whether they are retro or not. What a better way to celebrate New Years Day than from space? So here's a space-age Happy New Year from the International Space Center.