Archived entries for The Time Warp

‘Ping Pong Summer’ Makes Me Miss the Ocean City of the 80′s

Ping Pong Summer (2014) Poster

As someone who’s lived my entire life in Baltimore and spent the many summers of my 1980′s youth in Ocean City, Maryland, I kind of feel like it’s my civic duty to spread the word about Ping Pong Summer, a new indie film out this weekend. Filmed entirely on location in Ocean City and set in  the year 1985, the film is director Michael Tully’s semi-autobiographical coming-of-age tale of awkward family vacations, nerdy friendships, bullying, puppy love, rejection, and yes, ping pong.

While Ping Pong Summer does have a plot, it’s not exactly original. Think Karate Kid, except replace karate with ping pong. Pretty much everything you need to know about it you can learn by watching the trailer:

The plot, however, is not why I was drawn to this movie.  I first heard about it on my morning commute (which is generally terrible and the bane of my existence) when Michael Tully gave a brief interview for local news station W-BAL. By 6:30 PM, my ass was parked in a cushy seat at the AMC in Owings Mills–a good 45 minutes out of my way, but one of the only two theaters showing this very limited release. I invited my older sister, who is probably the most ideal person I could have picked to watch this movie with, having shared many awkward family vacations to Ocean City of our own. If anyone understands the soul-crushing disappointment of having to “stay bayside”, or the sheer mortification of unexpectedly seeing the exposed crotches of close relatives, it’s her.

Though it stars a cast of mostly unknowns, the movie does include a few recognizable faces like Susan Sarandon and Lea Thompson, who get top billing despite not having much screen time. Newcomer Marcello Conte who plays the ridiculously named main character Rad Miracle (just go with it, ok?) seemed a good fit for the kind of shy, awkwardness most nerdy teenage boys seem to exhibit. His interactions with new best friend Teddy Fryy (Myles Massey, another unknown actor) were especially fun to watch, being both innocently funny and oddly uncomfortable. (Sidebar: I nearly shit my pants when the Miami Connection song “Friends Forever” started playing over a montage between these two.)

Rad & Teddy in 'Ping Pong Summer'

There was also a healthy dose of bullying and humiliation, provided by a couple of Ocean City native douchebros  named Lyle (Joseph McCaughtry) and his sidekick Dale (Andy Riddle), a scene-stealer who provided some pretty memorable quotes (“Inseminate him!”) because he apparently doesn’t understand what certain words mean. Also, what is it about guys with flaming red hair that makes me want to instantly punch them in the face?

Lyle & Andy, Ping Pong Bullies

Ping Pong Summer is full of the types of  cringe-worthy moments you probably experienced growing up, from finding out you’re dressed like a total dork to overhearing your parents have sex. With some of the strangest dialog I’ve ever heard, there’s something almost endearingly “off” about this movie, in the same way that Napoleon Dynamite is “off” and yet completely awesome at the same time. I should have expected as much with Amy Sedaris (Strangers with Candy) in the cast.

rad-and-teddy-fun-hub-ocean-city

The delivery of completely WTF lines by a cast of weirdo characters (“Crush his nads off!”) had me laughing uncontrollably at times, and at others wishing I could press rewind on my top-loading VCR to comprehend what I had just heard.  After a couple of these moments, I gave up trying to understand what kind of movie this was and just embraced the delicious absurdity of it all. Breakdancing while playing ping pong? Penis sculptures made from seashells? Yeah, this movie’s got that.

Tully did a great job with what I imagine was a limited budget making me feel as if I were actually back in the 80′s.  Clever set dressing and perfect costume choices, like t-shirts that could ONLY have come from local places around Maryland as it existed three decades ago. Did he dig that Hammerjacks t-shirt out of a time capsule or what!? And did I just see a Deloreon??

Ocean City in the 1980s

Much of the movie plays like a living postcard of Ocean City, a love letter that highlights many of the famous landmarks that dot the ten mile-long stretch of Maryland’s only beach. If you’re from around these parts, it’s hard not to watch this movie while excitedly pointing out all the things you’ll recognize, like The Carousel, Old Pro Golf, the Paul Revere Smorgasbord at the infamous Plim Plaza Hotel, and Dumsers Drive-In. I was especially happy to see the Tidal Wave at Trimper’s amusement park, a roller coaster that I’ve ridden more times than I can count. Some places, like the gloriously tacky OC Gallery, still look the same today. At the same time, it also made me a little sad for all those places in Ocean City that have long since disappeared, like Alaska Stand, the Wax Museum, and the old haunted house at the end of the boardwalk.

Though it certainly won’t win any awards, I can totally see Ping Pong Summer becoming a cult classic, especially for Maryland natives. The John Waters force is pretty strong within us, and Tully seems to have followed Waters’ example of making a movie that directly appeals to the local culture, perhaps most exemplary during the scene when a pile of hot steamed crabs spills out ceremoniously over a newspaper-covered picnic table while overly-tanned relatives expose their crotch at the dinner table to explain how to get “full coverage.”

I already can’t wait to watch this movie again with my Cult Film Club co-hosts Shawn and Pax, who are exactly the sort of guys who would appreciate this craziness.

ShezCrafti’s Rat­ing:

                  

7 out of 10 power stars.

Ninja Turtles + Vanilla Ice + Mac & Cheese = Mandatory Post on this Blog

Okay so we’ve got new TMNT fruit snacks, candy, and fucking mac & cheese now. Where the hell is my TMNT cereal?

“Lemons make me smell so great!”

This isn’t going to be much of a post, I just wanted to give more attention to a certain (now infamous?) sticker from my 80s sticker book I shared the other day: this weird, kind of disturbing sticker of an uncommonly intelligent fish laying on a dinner platter encircled by lemons. He’s pretty enthusiastic for a fish who’s about to be eaten. He’s also self-aware enough to realize fish smells pretty bad, cooked or not.

Weird Fishy Lemon Sticker

And before you ask, yes, I purposely cropped the featured image of the lemon sticker so that it spells “emo.” This fish should be fucking emo, but instead he has rather complacently accepted his fate.

What’s his backstory?

My Sticker Book from the 1980s

20130424-140559.jpg

My older sister and I didn’t have much in common growing up, aside from having been pushed through the same vag and the few mortifying occasions our mom forced us to wear matching outfits. My sister, the prissy straight “A” student who was into clothes and make-up, versus me, the tomboy who was into pretty much all the same (read: much cooler) crap I’m still into now.

One of the few ways our interests overlapped was our mutual love for stickers. Then again, every kid in the 80s collected stickers, so saying we had this in common is like saying we’re both fans of breathing.

We were never “hardcore” in our sticker-acquiring aspirations, but we did enjoy filling up this sticker book with our shared treasures, giving careful thought and attention as to how they should be arranged. Well, sometimes.

1980s Sticker Book

I’m sure at the time it seemed like a good idea to “protect” our stickers inside this old album meant for photos, with its sticky pages and clear plastic page covers that would yellow and wither over time. I may not have learned much in the 20 years since I last touched this sticker book, but I think I can safely say that was a fucking horrible idea. Of course it wasn’t mine.

Also not my idea was the inclusion of lame-ass stickers like Paddington Bear, but one of the reasons I love this sticker book so much is that it’s a time capsule that reveals the differences (and sometimes similarities) between its two curators.

20130424-133401.jpg

Those Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles plastered on the inside back cover? All me.

It’s fun to flip through these worn pages and try to remember who contributed what in cases where it’s less cut and dry. That Poochie sticker could have been either of us.

Also worth noting are the loosely adhered-to “themes” we attempted to create on some of the pages, which I’ve provided my best guesses for below (when it isn’t something obvious, like unicorns). As was often the case, my sister, ever the more cautious and detail-oriented daughter, would get a good theme going until I came along and fucked it all up with my random sticker bombs and less than artful placement. STICKER ANARCHY!

And now, to simulate the full experience of trading stickers back in the 80s…

“GUYS! GUYS! GUYS! LOOK AT MY STICKERS!”

Page 1 – Candy & Sweets

Candy Stickers

Page 2 – Moodies

Who remembers these little guys?

Moodle Stickers

Page 3 – Metallic Messages & Music

Metallic Message & Jammin' Stickers

Page 4 – Hearts

Heart Stickers

Page 5 – Bears

Bear Stickers

Page 6 – Fuzzy Things

Puffy Animal Stickers

Page 7 – Kittens

Cat Stickers

Page 8 – Hot Air Balloons & Garfield

Garfield & Hot Air Balloon Stickers

Page 9 – Ice Cream

Ice Cream Stickers

Page 10 – More Ice Cream

More Ice Cream Stickers

Page 11 – Peaches ‘n Cream

Peaches 'n Cream Stickers

Page 12 – Junk Food

Junk Food Stickers

Page 13 – 80s-Tastic!

Super 80s-Tastic Stickers

Page 14 – Easter

Lame Easter Stickers

Page 15 – Skating & Ballerinas

Ballerina Stickers

Page 16 – Sparkles & Shiny Objects

Metallic Stickers

Page 17 – School

School Stickers

Page 18 – Cabbage Patch Kids

Cabbage Patch Stickers

Page 19 – Muppet Babies

Muppet Babies Stickers

Page 20 – Puffy Stickers & Googly Eyes

Puffy & Googly Eye Stickers

Page 21 – Lemons

Lemon Stickers

Page 22 – Valentines

Valentine Stickers

Page 23 – Chore Rewards

Reward Stickers

Page 24 – Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry Shortcake Stickers

Page 25 – Dogs

Dog Stickers

Page 26 – Teddy Bears

Teddy Bear Stickers

Page 27 – (Not Really) Balloons

Rainbow Heart & Star Stickers

Page 28 – Unicorns

Unicorn Stickers

Who wants to trade stickers?

Having gotten reacquainted with my checkered sticker collecting past, I think I’m inspired now to start an adult sticker book (NOT the kind you’re thinking of) to give a proper home to all of the rad stickers I’ve accumulated from my blogging friends lately, between Branded in the 80s, Top Hat Sasquatch, Strange Kids Club, etc. which reminds me–have you seen the totally kickass Cult Film Club stickers we’re selling?

Do also check out Rediscover the 80s totally rad sticker album from 1984! It puts this collection to shame.

Is it weird that I love old typewriters?

The first story I ever wrote was about a purple penguin named Flippy who was different from all the other penguins because he was purple, you see. Look, I was five, what do you want from me?

I did it on this typewriter:

Underwood Typewriter

This is an Underwood Rhythm Touch De Luxe model from 1949 (the only reason I know that is because I did some Googling and found this vintage advertisement for one) that used to reside in my grandmother’s old house. When I was little, I used to get dropped off there before school with nothing to do but find ways to keep myself entertained all day. One of them was this typewriter.

It weighs somewhere in the neighborhood of HOLY SHIT and METRIC FUCK TON and it’s faster to watch paint dry than it is to actually type on the darn thing, but I’m sure back when Truman was president this was a pretty sophisticated piece of technology. Just don’t ever drop it on your foot, or you’ll no longer have one.

Typing on it the same way we do our modern computer keyboards is impossible as every key punch requires near-mutant strength. I remember having to  press down on each key with two fingers, and even then I wasn’t always successful, leaving only a faint outline of illegible ink where my letter was supposed to go.

Typewriter Buttons Closeup

The keys would also frequently jam up and I’d have to reach my fingers into the machine’s guts to un-stick them, getting ink all over me in the process. It was all worth it though, just to hear that glorious clickety-clack sound. The only thing better was when you reached the edge of the page and got the hard carriage return, resulting in a cheerful “ding!” Call me old school, but I like technology that rewards you with bells for your hard work. Not that I was writing the great American novel at age five or anything–I mostly just liked to fiddle with the various levers, knobs and buttons protruding from all over this thing while pretending I was doing something important.

Typewriter Knobs & Buttons

I don't know but it's fun!

When my grandma got too old to take care of herself and moved in with my parents, this typewriter was one of the few things I inherited from her estate–and by estate I mean a small rancher with an interior like an episode of Hoarders. I’m glad she never got rid of this typewriter, though. I never bothered to look up what it’s worth, but to me its priceless. I credit this hunk of iron with inspiring me to want to write, even if all I have to show for my “talent” is this silly blog and a half-finished book I’ve never shown to anyone. One day…

Typed Words

What is it with old typewriters and grandmas?

Here’s another old typewriter I inherited from a grandmother, though not my own (my ex-boyfriend’s). It’s an electric model Smith Corona “Coronet Super 12″ from the 1970s that surprisingly still works.

Smith Corona Coronet Super 12

I say surprisingly because when you plug this thing in it makes this god-awful humming sound like you can hear the current flowing through its 40-year-old parts, causing me to have serious doubts about its electrical safety. But knowing it could burst into flames at any moment makes typing on the Super 12 all the more fun.

Smith Corona

Plus, I just love the color. When’s the last time you saw electronics in robin’s egg blue?

Coronet Keys

I like toy typewriters, too.

As it turns out, my affinity for typewriters goes deeper than I thought. Apparently this was one of my favorite baby toys:

Baby Toy Typewriter

So much so that my parents have held onto it for 30 years. I recovered it last weekend when I went searching for childhood treasures over at their house and was delighted to see it still works, even though it’s kind of beaten up. There’s a crank you can turn to scroll through the different words–bears, cats, and apple. The buttons make a great “ding!” sound when you press them, and colored hammers strike the cylinder, which turns slowly as you “type.” It’s a little less sophisticated than the Underwood and Super 12, obviously.

My Bedroom, Circa 1989 (Mildly TMNT-Related)

I recently dug up this photo from one of my family’s albums. Why on earth they had a picture of my bedroom on a random day in 1989, I don’t know, but I’m glad it exists if only so I can re-live the magic of getting splinters from my unfinished pine furniture and staring loathsomely at the ugly pastel wallpaper.

Let’s take a tour!

This was taken around the time I had started to transition away from girly stuff and get more into comics and video games, and obviously, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The striped wallpaper, floral border and “ugly art thing” I’ve so helpfully pointed out in the above photo are holdovers from when my bedroom was floor-to-ceiling peach. (I know. Ew.) That bed used to be a four-poster affair with a big, frilly canopy that matched my frilly peach bedspread, but I demanded my dad saw it off. I think my official reasoning was so that my room would be “less gay.”

I still had a couple of dolls, but they were of the collectible “do not touch” variety my mom would bitch if I messed up. I’m dying to know what cassette tapes those are over in the corner there. I’m thinking probably California Raisins, the soundtrack to the first Batman movie, and Paula Abdul. Yeah, let’s go with that.

I’m pretty disappointed in the angle of this photo. If you could pan another foot or so to the right, you’d see the bitchin’ neon-colored Habitrail setup where my hamsters lived. On the opposite wall from my bed there was an armoire (also of rough pine that gave me splinters) that housed my TV and video games.

Oh, and if you’re wondering why Raphael’s mask is loose, it’s because I had a dog who was fond of eating my stuffed animals and Raph was a frequent victim. Just had to be the Turtle I loved the most.

Reunited with one of my best buds. It’s a Kodak moment…

This past weekend I went spelunking for priceless childhood artifacts over at my parents’ house and didn’t come away disappointed. Between their attic, basement and crawlspace I was able to find a number of items I probably haven’t laid eyes on in over 15 years, having long ago chalked them up as rotting away in some landfill. One of those items–this stuffed Michelangelo, circa 1989–may as well have been.

Michelangelo Plush - Front

Michelangelo Plush - Back

 

Poor Mikey. He’s seen better days

Judging from the chewed-up appearance of his belt, I have a feeling he may, at some point, have been a plaything for my family’s old dog, which was Raphael’s fate:

Elky frequently ate stuffed animals...

(Also, my dog was possibly a Terminator.)

Now Michelangelo is the only surviving member of my foursome of plush green heroes, which back in the day I would not have hesitated to call my most cherished possessions.

By day “the guys” hung out in the most coveted spot in my room–front and center on my bed–and by night they slept snugly in my arms (or, if Raph and Leo were fighting, in groups of two on either side of me).  The Turtles accompanied me on play dates, beach vacations, camping trips (bet you didn’t know I was a Girl Scout!), that time I “moved out” into my playhouse, and I wouldn’t dream of opening up my presents on Christmas morning without them beside me to share in my–I mean our–delight if I got something TMNT-related. I told them all my secrets and would often seek their advice on everday matters of importance, like what Sega game to rent, or if I should cheat on my math test. Which Turtle I asked depended on the answer I was hoping to get.

They were, in short, my best buds.

Outside the cartoons and movies on VHS, my plushies were one of the few tangible pieces of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fandom I was allowed, which is part of the reason I loved them so much.  My mom never liked the idea of me playing with “boy toys” so I barely had any TMNT action figures to speak of, even though I always asked for them at Christmas (aside: that’s how I originally started to suspect the whole Santa thing might be a sham) and birthdays.

Speaking of birthday parties…

TMNT Birthday Party

Yes, I’m well aware I had the worst haircut ever. It was a combination of a perm gone wrong and me trying to take matters into my own hands with the scissors. It’s a miracle I even had any friends left to invite to this party. By all means, make fun of my hair if you must, but if you’re going to make fun of anything, it should be my pants. I have no excuse for those.

Box Full of Awesome = Boxsome Nostalgia Packs!

When I heard my friend Tommy from Top Hat Sasquatch was starting up a business selling geeky nostalgia packs, I had a feeling it was going to be awesome, just based on the fact that Tommy’s an awesome dude. Really, I didn’t need any more convincing than that. Judging from the package I got in the mail today, I know this to be true.

Look!

Closeup of the Awesomeness

The new venture is Boxsome, a mail-order service delivering “Nostalgia Packs” right to your mailbox. Every box or bundle is crammed full of cool geeky, nostalgic stuff, like unopened wax packs, trading cards, stickers, Pogs (remember those?), and other small items you probably collected as a kid. You get a whole lot of awesome for less than $10 (each pack is $7 + $2.50 shipping), and you can customize each pack to your interests based on the available themes. Of course, I went with Ninja Turtles and Nintendo.

Here’s a better look at everything in my customized Nostalgia Pack:

Boxsome Pack

Even though you can choose which wax packs you want, the fun of Boxsome is all the surprise items you get, like a mail-order grab bag! I got some Star Wars, Lion King and Simpsons pogs, Nintendo cards, Pizza Point stickers, Batman cards, and other assorted geekery you can have fun identifying in the photo above. It’s a pretty good deal for all you get, and there’s no subscriptions, fees or other B.S. Just pay once and get cool stuff! Who doesn’t love getting cool stuff in the mail?

Want your own Nostalgia Pack? Get yours for 20% off!

Tommy is hooking up ShezCrafti readers with a 20% discount! (I told you he’s an awesome dude.) Just enter code “SHEZCRAFTI” when you check out.

If you decide to take the plunge, be sure to post some pics of your loot on Twitter or Instagram and give a shout-out to @HeyBoxsome! You could end up in the Boxsome Gallery and be internet famous.

Here’s mine:

It’s so bad!

ShezCrafti Loves Boxsome!


5 Bastard Kids from the 80s I Want to Punch in the Face

Normally I have a very sweet disposition around children and can usually find a way to relate to them on some level, being an overgrown child of 31 myself. However, there are some kids–the bad seeds–that do their level best to annoy the crap out of me, to the point where I can’t help but fantasize about introducing them to my fist. Of course I would never do that, but if entertaining the idea makes me a horrible person, so be it. Also, hi, are you new here?

In the meantime I’ll safely take out my frustrations on the kids who annoyed me in the movies and TV shows I grew up watching. Here’s five child stars from the 80s who played the roles of bastard kids I want to punch in the face!

#5 – Billy Lombardo

Billy Lombardo

It’s a shame Billy Lombardo quit acting after 1986′s The Money Pit, he was so good at playing the precocious teen pop star “Benny,” who, according to his manager Walter (Tom Hanks) was Billboard’s Artist of the Year. Benny himself, who last year alone sold a million records! His exchange with Walter is brief but easily one of the funniest scenes in the movie. Having more money than he knows what to do with, Benny spends his days lounging around his mansion while chicks wait for him in the Jacuzzi, berating servants, and getting waited on hand and foot by his mother–who is also his maid. His outright refusal to loan Walter money and subsequent temper tantrum that would make a 2-year-old proud reveals a spoiled-rotten but insecure little boy who could have benefited from a severe ass-kicking. This is not too far off from what I image Justin Bieber’s home life is like.

#4 – Emily Schulman

Emily Schulman
Small Wonder was a show FULL of kids I wanted to punch in the face, but the clear frontrunner was pesky next door neighbor Harriet Brindle, played by Emily Schulman. Twenty-four years later, I still can’t figure out how they were able to get her hair to look like a perfect bowl with two pigtails coming out of it, and sometimes still think about how if you chopped them off she’d totally look like a boy. Why do I still think about these things? That’s the real small wonder.

#3 – Jason Hervey

Jason Hervey

Jason Hervey is a pro at playing kids I want to punch in the face. Most memorable for his role as the obnoxious Wayne in The Wonder Years, he lived to torment younger brother Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage) and welcomed every opportunity to ruin his life. However, his most punch-in-the-face-worthy role for me was in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure where he plays a child star (so meta!) named Kevin Morton in the midst of shooting what appears to be a heartwarming movie about a sweet, young orphan boy finding his parents–but when the camera stops rolling he unleashes a world of shit on poor director Jerry and his co-stars. His on-set meltdown is what I assume working with most child stars is like, and kind of makes me think hitting kids isn’t so bad. You don’t have to tell me I’d make an awesome mom.

#2 – Miko Hughes

Miko Hughes

Miko Hughes is another actor whose early career has included multiple bastard child roles, all of them worthy of a cold-cock. Most famously, Hughes was fond of pointing out that boys have a penis and girls have a vagina; arguably the most important takeaway from Kindergarten Cop. If you were a Full House fan, you might remember him as Aaron Bailey, the brattiest of Michelle’s school friends. At least in Pet Semetary you could claim self-defense as there are few things more threatening than a creepy baby returning from the grave with a vengeance and a really big knife.

#1 – Michael Oliver

Michael Oliver

Okay so Problem Child is from 1990, but my list would not be complete without Michael Oliver, better known as “Junior.” A poster child for red-headed stepchildren everywhere, the mere sight of him makes me want to plant my fist right in the middle of his ugly, freckled face. I can’t be alone in my irrational hatred, can I? Even though we’re kind of supposed to hate him, it’s gotta be a tough break for Michael Oliver, who’ll forever be known as that bastard kid from Problem Child. That kind of notoriety does things to a man.

Case in point:

Michael Oliver Now

If you never ask me to babysit your kids after this, I’ll completely understand.

There is Neither Magic Nor Wonder in Zoobilee Zoo. Discuss.

The 80s had no shortage of weird and uncomfortable children’s shows featuring costumed performers, but this week’s League topic was to write about something I hated as a kid, so I feel it’s my duty to bring the atrocities of Zoobilee Zoo to your attention.

For those who don’t remember it, Zoobilee Zoo was a terrifying children’s show starring a bunch of overly-enthusiastic people dressed up like animals known as “Zoobles” who sang, danced, and introduced young children everywhere to what they would later learn was furry porn. Also Ben Vereen.

Zoobilee Zoo Cast

The show ran from 1986 – 87, which means I was about five or six when I watched it. But even as a child squarely within the show’s target demographic, I can remember feeling embarrassed whenever it came on. Like somehow I could sense the performers were all rejects from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats, or that the show was endorsed by The American Federation of Teachers even without knowing it was marketed as such (thanks random press release I found online!). Things that teachers like are lame, and I, clearly a kid who was too cool for school, recognized this. Sesame Street or Mr. Rogers Neighborhood this show was not.

Let’s introduce the Zoobles to you!

Here’s the main cast of characters, including each Zooble’s job, because apparently Zoobilee Zoo is so broke all the animals have to work. And I thought the Baltimore Zoo was ghetto.

Bill Der Beaver

Sandy Grinn as “Bill Der Beaver”
The Zooble with the most practical job and least clever name, Bill Der Beaver is a BUILDER and inventor. Get it?

Whazzat Kangaroo

Louise Vallance as “Whazzat Kangaroo”
The bimbo of Zoobily Zoo. She’s not a very talented musician, but gets by on her (good?) looks. Guys dig chicks with fuzzy pink tails.

Van Go Lion

Forrest Gardner as “Van Go Lion”
He’s a painter just like Van Gogh, but still has both his ears. He’s also the reason I once misspelled “Van Gogh” in a school report. I thought this show was supposed to teach us shit?

Talkatoo Cockatoo

Karen Hartman as “Talkatoo Cockatoo”
Easily the most annoying resident of Zoobilee Zoo, she’s a vicious gossip who “spreads the news” as well as bird flu.

Bravo Fox

Gary Schwartz as “Bravo Fox”
He’s a juggler and magician. Unofficially, he’s also kind of an asshole.

Lookout Bear

Michael B. Moynahan as “Lookout Bear”
I guess he’s supposed to be a scout of some sort who looks out for danger. I told you Zoobilee Zoo was ghetto.

Mayor Ben
Ben Vareen as “Mayor Ben”
In Zoobilee Zoo, one of the perks of being the Mayor (besides dressing like a pimp!) is you don’t have to identify yourself with a specific animal. To this day I still don’t know what the hell Mayor Ben is supposed to be, besides token black guy.

The Zoobles are supposed to resemble animals, but whoever designed the costumes opted not to go full-furry. So instead we have an awkward mix of costumes, theatrical make-up and prosthetic noses I find extremely unappealing, almost repellent. There’s just something about people in bright costumes and make-up with big noses I can’t get past. I don’t know if there’s an exact phobia for whatever this is, but maybe if you’re one of those people who are afraid of clowns, you can understand. I guess this explains why I never wanted to get my face painted as a kid.

Oddly, I’m not bothered by people wearing costumes that fully cover their faces, or anthropomorphic animals in puppet form. Muppets and I are cool. Zoobles and I? Not cool.

My main problem with Zoobilee Zoo (besides being creepy as hell) was that it tried too hard. Everyone on this show acts like they just snorted ten lines of coke. I refuse to believe anyone is that enthusiastic about wearing shitty animal costumes while spoon feeding dumb kids all the typical social values and moral lessons you’d expect from a show like this, including the obligatory “people in wheelchairs are just like all the rest of us!” episode that seemed to be a popular theme in 80s shows. Even Saved by the Bell was guilty of that one.

By far the worst thing about Zoobilee Zoo, however, is the theme song which I’m convinced was conjured up in a Satanic ritual. I don’t recommend listening unless you want it stuck in your head. All day.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oowOsEOTApA

Zoobilee Zoo, Zoobilee Zoo
Magic and wonder are waiting for you
It’s as close as a dream
And as bright as the brightest blue

Welcome to Zoobilee Zoo

Really? As close as a dream? As bright as the brightest blue? They weren’t able to come up with any better similes? All these animals with jobs and not one of them is a writer.

P.S. Did the show ever say what animal Mayor Ben is supposed to be? Does anyone know? I’d look up some more episodes on YouTube to try and find out, but frankly that’s too much effort for a show I’m supposed to hate.

Magic and wonder aren’t waiting for you.

Wondering what this is all about? This week’s assignment from The League of Extraordinary Bloggers was to reveal something in pop culturedom we hated as kids. Here’s what my homies in the League had to say:

Pia Zadora is a Little Bit of 80s Heaven

It was an odd set of circumstances that led to my discovering actress/singer Pia Zadora and her lost 1985 single, “Little Bit of Heaven,” but I’m so glad I did.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nh_jWz6-Nlc

I haven’t seen choreography that amazing since Laura Branigan’s video for “Gloria.” If I had known this song existed back in the 80s, I can easily imagine Zadora sharing space on the mixtapes I made, alongside artists like Limahl and Cindy Lauper.

As far as 80s fashion aesthetics go, Pia Zadora’s outfit is the absolute epitome.

Pia Zadora - Little Bit of Heaven

Big hair? Check. Headband? Check. Two-color eyeshadow? Check. It’s like one of the goddamn Misfits from Jem came to life. I especially like the parrot motif on her sweater, which is, of course, paired with matching skin-tight leggings and heeled boots. The only question I have is where can I buy one just like it?

As it turns out, I was already familiar with her but didn’t even know it.

In the process of adding the soundtrack for John Waters’ 1988 film Hairspray to Spotify, I hit a roadblock when Spotify didn’t have “Day-O,” a song performed by Zadora that was used in the film, even though I couldn’t place it. Then it dawned on me–in Hairspray, during the scene where Tracy meets the beatnik chick (the one who famously irons her hair), she sings “Day-O” very briefly.  This led me to looking her up on IMDB and sure enough, the beatnik chick is Pia Zadora herself.

Pia Zadora - Beanik Chick in Hairspray

Huh. Somehow I never made the connection.

Pia Zadora is quite a name. Curious, I browsed YouTube to see if there were any other clips from movies she’s been in, like Troop Beverly Hills, which is a movie I’ve seen like a zillion times. How the hell did I miss that? After discovering the above video I looked her up on Wikipedia and found out about her singing career. Evidently Zadora has had nine albums. NINE. Unfortunately, Wikipedia doesn’t seem to have much info about them.

At some point she also did a duet with Jermaine Jackson, which is every bit as awesomely 80s as that sounds. Their song “When the Rain Begins to Fall” was used in a b-movie they both starred in together called Voyage of the Rock Aliens. This rabbit hole just keeps getting better. I’m now on a mission to find a way to listen to the rest of her music and watch all these crazy-sounding movies she’s been in.

The internet is funny like that. I never know what I’m going to randomly stumble upon, nor could I have predicted I’d be spending my Sunday afternoon blogging about it. I guess I’m like a Pia Zadora fan now or something.

Reckless Love Keeps 80s Glam Metal Alive

With the American music industry being what it is, perhaps the only thing sadder than 80s hair metal falling out of fashion is that it’s now up to other countries to fill the acid-washed void. Meet Reckless Love, a glam metal band from Finland that you’d never know was from Finland.

I mean, just look at these guys.

Reckless Love

Now I admit my knowledge of Finland is limited at best. Being your typical dumb American, to me Finland has always been that “other” Scandinavian country, the one that’s not Sweden, Norway or Denmark. I get all those damn flags with crosses on ‘em mixed up, anyway. But if someone hadn’t told me Reckless Love was from Finland, I never would have known. If they have Finnish accents, I can’t hear it in the singing. And the music sounds straight out of the 80s, like something you’d hear between Mötley Crüe and Ratt.

When I first heard “Animal Attraction”, for a split-second I thought “hey, cool, Poison has a new song out!” before realizing it sounded too fresh, too good to be what Poison sounds like now (which isn’t all that bad, actually).

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UqsTHZpUqro

What’s great about these guys is that they’re the same age right now as all those hair bands were back in the 80s, which means I can feel less awkward about wanting to sleep with them. On the other hand, they have names like Ollie, Pepe, Jalle and Hessu. I can’t really envision myself getting any of those tattooed on my ass. But also working in their favor is the fact they started out as a Guns N’ Roses cover band, so the ass tattoo isn’t totally off the table.

Reckless Love has two studio albums under its leather-studded belt, 2010′s self-titled debut and 2011′s Animal Attraction, both with equally awesome album art:

Reckless Love 2010 Animal Attraction 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If the crotch of your leather pants is getting uncomfortably tight just trying to decide what to listen to first, don’t sweat it! Here are some of my recommendations:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qy6NpF2V2xg

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0vftYriDEg

Next month the band releases its next single, Night on Fire, which drops April 26th. Based on the cover art alone, I’m excited for it. A new album will follow in late summer or fall.

Reckless Love - Night On Fire 2013

Remembering the Top 5 Dirtiest Music Videos on The Box

Come along and ride on a fantastic voyage, back to the early 90s when a lesser-known music video channel known as The Box used to exist. With the tagline “Music television you control,” The Box let viewers call a 1-900 number to pay $1.99 to play any music video through its automated phone system, using numbered codes that flashed on the screen in between songs. The entirety of The Box’s programming consisted of full-length, uncensored music videos that other viewers had paid to request and there were little to no commercials. It’s not hard to understand why this was totally fucking awesome compared to, say, MTV, which edited the hell out of their videos, if they were even playing videos at all.

Here’s a circa early 90s promo for The Box that someone uploaded to YouTube:

As you might expect, the most popular music videos on The Box seemed to be the ones with the most explicit content–the ones MTV would cut down to practically nothing, or outright ban. The Box was educational, to say the least, for curious, young teenagers like myself. I can remember many hot summer days spent hanging out at my friend Gina’s house, glued to The Box on the 19″ television in her basement, well out of earshot from her mom who would have grounded her and sent me home if she had known what we were watching. (My parents, on the other hand, didn’t seem to mind if their thirteen-year-old daughter was exposed to simulated sex and close-ups of booty sweat. Thanks Mom and Dad, for being you.)

Here’s a round-up of the top five dirtiest videos I can remember getting frequent rotation on The Box (and it should be obvious that extreme NSFW warnings apply):

#5 – “Short Dick Man” – Gillette

Just in case you aren’t clear on what these lyrics are supposed to mean, Gillette helpfully acts them out by scrutinizing a number of different men’s crotches with a magnifying glass, measuring tape and video camera as they dangle and thrust their man parts in her face. Thanks to this song and video, I knew that size mattered before I even really knew why.

#4 – “Come Baby Come” – K7

Yo dawg, this song is STILL slammin’ in 2013! That’s what I’m planning to say in my YouTube comment, anyway. K7′s (whatever happened to this guy, by the way?) video for “Come Baby Come” is typical of the period and starts off relatively tame, you know, despite being for a song called “Come Baby Come” which means exactly what you think it means. Just a couple of bros shootin’ some b-ball and dancing around in matching outfits while scantily-clad women jiggle their breasts and K7 licks ice cream off her–WAIT, WHAT? You tricked me, bros!

#3 – “Put ‘Em On the Glass” – Sir Mix-a-Lot

Sir Mix-a-lot was evidently a big fan of the 1992 sexsploitation flick The Bikini Carwash Company, or at least that’s what I gather from this video. Only the rapper of “Baby Got Back” fame could write a whole song about women rubbing their big, soapy breasts–oh excuse me–lungs up against the windshields of luxury cars.

#2 – “Pumps and a Bump” – MC Hammer

This is the infamous M.C. Hammer video that was banned from MTV for being too sexual, as Hammer is shown prancing around in only a tightly-fitting speedo that barely conceals his raging hard-on. He thrusts and gyrates his banana hammock around a harem of girls who all have spectacular bumps as they dance poolside in pumps. In some of the shots Hammer turns to the side and you can totally see it, not that I was looking that closely or anything, or pausing the video after I taped it just to make sure.

#1 – “Pop That P*ssy” – 2 Live Crew

Here it is, the mother of all dirty rap videos. If I have to explain this one, you might be asexual.

Thanks, The Box, for teaching me SO MANY THINGS!

This one goes out to someone who’s never seen The Goonies.

Last week I was emailed by a friend who admitted to never having seen The Goonies, which I have preserved in a screenshot because I’m still having a hard time believing it’s true:

Goonies Email

My immediate reaction:

Chunk

Now bear in mind, this person (who shall go nameless) is over 30, loves comics, adventure, the 80s–basically all the same stuff you’d expect your typical Goonies fan to like–and what’s more surprising, my friend is even more dialed into pop culture than I am. SO HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE? I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone I’d consider my peer who hasn’t seen The Goonies. Right now I kind of feel like one of those National Geographic explorers who discovered an uncontacted tribe from an isolated region of South America. Saying you’ve never seen The Goonies is kinda like saying you’ve never eaten a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

In my friend’s defense, at least they’ve recognized the lack of Goonies in their life as a rather serious pop culture blind spot and has sought help from a professional such as myself. As I’ve mentioned on the Cult Film Club podcast, and many times throughout this blog, The Goonies is one of my favorite movies of all time. In my dream pop culture road trip, I travel to Astoria, Oregon just to do the truffle-shuffle outside Mikey’s house. “Man…you smell like Phys Ed!” is one of my favorite six-word movie quotes. I try to yell HEY YOU GUYS! whenever an appropriate opportunity arises. And if you participated in my recent Goonies poll, you’d know I am Team Mouth. I fucking love The Goonies, is what I’m saying. And I am honored to have been asked for my opinion when this person is someone who’s own opinions I greatly value.

To that end, I am going to make good on my friend’s request. I am going to explain exactly why I think The Goonies is so awesome, and what’s more, I’m going to do it in a way that I know is extremely relevant to this person’s interests.

So here you go, my uninitiated friend. These are the Top 10 reasons why I feel you NEED to see this movie:

#10 – Because you’re always fighting for truth and justice.

So I know you will appreciate The Goonies’ plight. It’s about a group of misfits who find a centuries-old treasure map and go on a wild adventure to find the “rich stuff” in order to save their houses from a pair of rich, greedy developers who want to turn their neighborhood into a golf course–and did I mention they’re chased by a family of mobsters along the way?

Goonies Treasure Map

 #9 – You will learn how to say useful things in Spanish.

Because I know you are a person who values education above all else.

Mr. Walsh's Sexual Torture Devices

#8 – It’s full of things that just don’t look safe.

You’re always taking the time to warn me about the unforeseen dangers of this world, which I certainly appreciate. This movie positively oozes unsafe. So much so that you might even learn some tips yourself.

Brand Gets a Ride

The Fratelli's Basement

Toilet Blast

Chunk Oh Shit

Goonies Skeleton

#7 – This catchy-ass Cyndi Lauper song.

And more importantly, this Cyndi Lauper video because it has a cameo by ANDRE THE GIANT:

#6 –  These girls.

You will have fun deciding which one you like/dislike more.

Stef & Andy

#5 – It’s easy to relate to.

Because deep down we are all outcasts, just like The Goonies.

Goonies Outcasts

 #4 – It’s also a superhero movie.

Well, kind of. Okay, not really. But I assure you this guy is SUPER.

Sloth

#3 – There’s toys!

I don’t feel an explanation is necessary here.

Goonies Toys

Goonies Toy Packaging

#2 – It’s the best non-pirate movie about pirates ever.

Going by the stuff you post on your blog, I know you are a fan of pirates. You owe it to yourself to see this movie if only for the awesome pirate-y action toward the end.

Goonies Pirate Ship

And you just gotta love a pirate named “One-Eyed Willie.” You’re a perv like me, so I know you’ll appreciate the penis joke.

One-Eyed Willie

#1 – The Goonies hate cephalopods, too.

Never forget who’s on your side!

The infamous Giant Octopus attack only appears in certain televised versions of The Goonies, but is included on the DVD as a Special Feature. And hoo boy is it special! Data (whom you’ll recognize as “the Asian Goonie”) defeats it with a motherfucking cassette tape that plays 80′s music underwater. Like I said, SPECIAL.

Goonies Octopus Deleted Scene

Goonies Octopus Deleted Scene

Well there you have it, friend. If none of this convinces you The Goonies is awesome and that you are less cool for not having seen it, then I have failed as your designated 80′s movie spirit guide and must now go eat a Baby Ruth to cope with my shame.

Baby Ruth

My favorite spaceman is the one who gave us MTV.

This week’s League assignment was yet another single-word prompt: “spacemen.”

I’m late with my response this week (because Ni No Kuni happened) and a lot of my fellow Leaguers have already beaten me to some great topics, like E.T. and Astronaut Barbie (which I was totally going to make fun of, you thunder stealers). Also, I’ve been completely Star Wars-ed out since the news that J.J. Abrams will be directing Episode VII nearly broke the internet Friday, or else I’d write about that.

So instead I thought I’d boldly go where no man has gone before–before 1981, that is. On August 31st of that year, MTV made television history when its first-ever broadcast, the MTV Moon Landing, appeared on television screens across America and introduced an entire generation to 24-hour music television.

This is what those kids saw:

Though I’m too young to remember the original Moon Landing (I wasn’t born until September that same year), it’s an iconic TV spot that MTV played in heavy rotation throughout the 80′s, and to this day, why MTV still gives out “Moon Man” statues at its annual Video Music Awards.

Moon Man Statue

(By the way, does anyone know if it’s possible to get a replica of one of these things? Because I’d totally Flavor Flav it as a necklace.)

Between having an older sister, and parents who’d let us watch pretty much whatever we wanted, MTV entered my life at a very young age. My earliest memories of it are from around the time I was five, so we’re talking 1986 or so. I couldn’t tell you what the first music video I ever saw was, but I do distinctly remember squealing with delight whenever Peter Gabriel’s video for Sledgehammer came on. I couldn’t get enough of those dancing naked turkeys.

Sledgehammer Dancing Turkeys

(I still can’t.)

As a card-carrying member of the MTV Generation, I watched MTV religiously from the mid-eighties to around the time I started college. I miss those lose lazy summer days when it was too hot to play outside, giving me a perfectly valid excuse to lay around watching Beavis & Butthead while ignoring my chores. Then, somehow, gradually and almost without warning, MTV just stopped being important to me. Where once we had a network full of awesome shows like Yo! MTV Raps and Headbanger’s Ball in addition to, you know, actual music videos, we now have a cesspool of retardation such as 16 and Pregnant and Jersey fucking Shore.

Back then, even the non-music-related shows were awesome. Remember Liquid Television and the bizarre coolness of Aeon Flux? Or how about all the awesome/hilarious game shows, like Remote Control and Singled Out ? (You ain’t cool unless you knew who Chris Hardwick was before Nerdist.) Twelve-year-old me used to daydream about being a contestant on Lip Service because I totally know all the words to K7′s “Come Baby Come.”(And still do.) 

But anyway, this is not meant to be a “get off my lawn” post about how much MTV sucks now. I mean, everybody already knows that, right?  Instead, this is a loving tribute to the MTV I used to know, and the Moon Man who regularly landed in my living room and blew my goddamn mind with awesome music and unique programming.

Remember when the VMAs used to, like, actually mean something man?

Oh sure, we had our embarrassing teen pop acts and one-hit wonders in the pre-Bieber era, too. I thought it’d be fun to dig up a couple of my favorite performances from the MTV Video Music Awards vaults!

Guns N’ Roses Performing “Welcome to the Jungle” (1988)

A 7-year-old child should not be allowed to witness such raw sex and power, but I did, and I’d like to think I turned out better for it.

Paula Abdul Performing ‘Forever Your Girl (Medley)” (1989)

You know, Paula was never a great voice, but GODDAMN that woman could dance.

Vanilla Ice Performing “Ice Ice Baby” (1990)

If you were to time-travel back to my bedroom in 1990, you’d find me glued to the screen, struggling to understand that funny feeling I had while watching this.

Faith No More Performing “Epic” (1990)

One of the best songs ever. This is not open for debate.

En Vogue Performing “Free Your Mind” (1992)

This performance right here is like the 1990′s personified. God, I miss these bitches.

Shit. I was supposed to write about spacemen, wasn’t I?

Now that I’ve managed to completely go off-topic, let’s get things back under control. This week’s assignment from The League of Extraordinary Bloggers was simply the word “spacemen.” Our leader, Brian, is really stretching the limits of his creativity lately with these topics. Here are a couple of my favorite spacemen-related posts written by fellow Leaguers:

  • Goodwill Hunting 4 Geeks shows off his spacemen action figures. I’ll give you ONE guess which toy is my favorite.
  • The Man Who Stares at Toys mentions my favorite alien beings from Aqua Teen Hunger Force!
  • That Figures went in a really cool direction with this post about Levi’s jeans circa 1995 “Space Man” commercial.
  • Fortune and Glory Days covers one of my favorite 80′s movies, E.T. The Extra Terrestrial.
  • Whatever I Think Of! talks about Spectra, Astronaut Barbie, and other incredibly lame space-themed toys for girls.

I’m possibly the only person who remembered it’s Ya Kid K’s birthday today.

Happy Birthday, Ya Kid K! Almost 25 years later, you are still pumpin’ up my jam.

Ya Kid K - Then & Now

I have to admit, I thought you were a dude when I first saw you perform live on TV sometime back in 1989, before I knew what a lesbian was. Sorry about that.

In fact, your gender was a frequent before-bedtime hot topic for my older sister and I, along with other stupid things like what exactly the “Cs” in C+C Music Factory stood for, which New Kid was the ugliest (answer: Danny), and whether or not Paula Abdul was part black. We were just dumb, spoiled little white girls who were raised on MTV and had nothing better to argue about, but were sisters, so as a rule we had to argue about something. And this was years before the internet, so we couldn’t exactly look these things up. But we sure did wear the shit out of our Technotronic cassingles! Me especially.

Awesome - You Are My Hero

Like several other now-obscure musical acts of the 90′s (see my posts about Partners in Kryme and Fifth Platoon), my Ya Kid K fandom is directly associated with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. You have the esteemed honor of being the only artist to have appeared on all three live-action TMNT movie soundtracks, albeit under totally inconsistent names:

These are soundtracks I’m still listening to at age 31, and not just because I have nostalgia blindness (deafness?) for all things TMNT–no, I still listen to these albums because there’s some damn good music on them, thanks in a big way to you. I’ve read biographies where you didn’t seem all that thrilled to have sold out in that way, like so many other artists who were swept up by Turtlemania, but if it’s any consolation, you helped make my childhood (and a lot of other kids’) a whole lot more awesome.

And speaking of awesome, your live performances were The Shit. Until you burst on the scene, I had never really seen anyone perform with that level of energy and  enthusiasm. You could dance, you could rap, you could sing, and you had a funky-fresh style (yes, I feel it’s totally acceptable to use the 90′s slang term “funky-fresh” here) that was really unique.  And that voice is unmistakable. I don’t think you get nearly the level of credit you deserve.

I can’t believe you’re 40 years old now. In my mind you’ll forever be owning that Arsenio Hall stage.

Oh, A Cowboy Needs a Horse (Needs a Horse! Needs a Horse!)

The first random thing that popped into my head (well, besides Bon Jovi’s “Dead or Alive”) after seeing today’s assignment from The League, was an animated Disney short from 1956 called A Cowboy Needs a Horse. I surprised myself by thinking of it, because this cartoon is one of those things from the obscure, nearly-forgotten minutia of my childhood that I’m constantly rediscovering in weird ways (quite like Questron and the Clue VCR Mystery Game) ever since I started blogging.

A Cowboy Needs a Horse (1956)

A Cowboy Needs a Horse (which you can watch in its entirety on YouTube right here) is about a little boy who goes to sleep one night and dreams of being a cowboy. As he slumbers, an incredibly repetitive song of the same name accompanies his transformation from an ordinary boy into a cowboy complete with a horse, a rope, a song, a hat, a pair of fancy boots, and a set of shiny spurs, which are all “drawn” into the scene. It’s all very Little Nemo-ish and the animation is classic Disney.

Little boy dreams he's a cowboy.

Here’s the song. Please don’t hate me after it inevitably gets stuck in your head!

Since I was born in 1981, I’m obviously too young to have remembered this cartoon when it was new. My introduction to it was in the form of a Disney Sing Along Songs VHS tape that I got for Christmas one year–this one, to be precise:

Disney Singalong Songs - Heigh Ho

If you’re around my same age, you might remember these things. They were a series of home video tapes that featured a compilation of songs you could sing along to from both animated and live-action Disney movies and shows. Most memorably, kids were encouraged to “Follow the bouncing ball!” which looked like the Mickey symbol and helped you keep time with the lyrics. (And I swear to this day, the insanely catchy intro song from these tapes still gets randomly stuck in my head sometimes.)

A cowboy’s gotta keep ridin’, ridin’ along…

This week’s assignment from The League of Extraordinary Bloggers was simply the word, “cowboys.” Here’s how my fellow extraordinary bloggers interpreted this fun topic:

*I’m early this week (for once!). I’ll update this section with more links as more folks turn in the assignment.

My childhood arrived in a TurtleVan.

Well, technically it arrived in a box from Amazon.com. One of the shittiest things about breaking up right before Christmas was having to return all the gifts I bought for my boyfriend (actually, the shittiest part was having to unwrap them first, then return them–do you know how depressing that was?), but hey, at least I got some money back…which I spent on myself. I’m considering it a consolation prize.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Complete Classic Series Collection brings together all ten seasons–193 episodes in all–of the classic Fred Wolf TMNT cartoon, packaged in what is one of the coolest-designed DVD box sets I’ve ever seen–a replica TurtleVan! I’ve been lusting after this baby since it was announced back in August (that post is here), and know that a couple of you guys in The League also got this for Christmas, which means you made me insta-jealous, which means I decided I couldn’t live another day without having this in my life. It is my childhood, after all.

TMNT Complete Series

TMNT Complete Series

There’s a ton of reviews for this box set all over the internet, so I won’t bother adding to that noise with one of my own (I’m pretty biased anyway–you know I have nothing but unconditional love for my four green heroes). Instead I’m going to reminisce a little and tell you about the day the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles entered my life. It seems like such a trivial thing, but it’s one I will never forget.

TMNT Complete Series

It was the fall of 1988. I was in second grade. I used to get babysat by a woman who lived across the street from my parents, who had two kids around my age. She also watched a bunch of other kids from around the neighborhood and there was a good mix of boys and girls, with a few different grades between us. We were together as a group every school morning before the bus came and every afternoon until around six, or whenever our parents got home from work and were able to pick us up. That’s a lot of time to spend around other kids, and as you might imagine, we didn’t always get along. One of the things we frequently fought over that had the power to determine if we were going to get along on any given day was the TV: what to watch.

TMNT Complete Series

One afternoon, Jonathan, a boy who lived down the street from me and who was a few years younger, practically had a meltdown when the other kids wouldn’t let him put on his favorite show. Two of the kids (I won’t name names) were bigger and meaner than the rest of us, not to mention spoiled-rotten shitheads who always got their way. They said the show was stupid and teased Jonathan relentlessly for liking it, to the point that it made him cry. I had no idea what show Jonathan wanted to watch so badly (nor did I really care) and I never liked getting involved with Shithead #1 and Shithead #2, having been the subject of their ridicule more than a few times myself. In those situations I’d normally just go with the flow, to stay in The Shitheads’ good graces and hope to avoid becoming the target. But something about the whole thing just pissed me off that day. Jonathan was such a nice, sweet boy, and I knew The Shitheads were teasing him just to be dicks, not because there was anything else on TV they really wanted to watch. He was younger, smaller, and totally defenseless, and I felt bad for him. So I stood up for the little guy.

Well, you can imagine how they treated me after that–but hey, Jonathan got to watch his show. And I got stuck watching it with him. The Shitheads rounded up the other “cool” kids (of which I was no longer a part of) to go outside and play a game, declaring I wasn’t allowed to join them. But as it turned out, I soon wouldn’t care about their stupid game, or trying to impress The Shitheads ever again…because I had just been introduced to the greatest, most mind-meltingly cool show I had ever seen.

TMNT Complete Series

The show, of course, was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. To this day I still remember the exact episode: Enter the Fly. I can’t say for sure what exactly drew me in. Maybe it was the sheer absurdity/awesomeness of what I was witnessing–four green, wisecracking, pizza-loving turtles ninja-fighting against a giant mutated fly (not to mention flying a blimp). Maybe it was the seriousness of this particular episode’s plot, and how I in my eight-year-old innocence really thought April might die! But what’s more likely is that I fell in love, as so many kids my age did, with the personalities of the Turtles themselves. Leonardo’s bravery, Donatello’s genius, Raphael’s wit, Michaelangelo’s heart. I know it sounds cheesy, but the Turtles as we know them in that cartoon represent everything we wanted for ourselves as kids. Despite being outcasts, they were cool and likeable. They were smart. They were funny. They had these incredible abilities. They were the best of friends. They saved the day. In short, they were “The Good Guys.” They stood for something. All of this is apparent just from watching any single episode.

On that particular day, having gone through what I did, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were there for me in a way that nobody and nothing else was. I didn’t care that I had just alienated myself from the group or possibly jeopardized my neighborhood social status forever. I had done something I felt was the right thing to do and  The Turtles were on my side for it. This all seems like a bunch of stupid kid stuff, I know, but when you’re eight years old, these things matter.

TMNT Complete Series

Things were never the same between me and The Shitheads again. That day was something of a turning point for me. It’s the day I decided I didn’t care how uncool I was for liking something that made me so happy. Did I know that single episode would lead to a life-long obsession with all things TMNT? No. I just knew watching the show made me feel good, and I couldn’t wait to find out all there was to know about these four green guys. On that day, and on many days since, I have made new friends because of TMNT. I learned to draw because of TMNT. I learned to try new things because of TMNT. I had a happier childhood because of TMNT.

Seeing this show for the very first time was the beginning of a passion that has brought nothing but good things into my life. And that’s the highest praise I could possibly give it.

There should be ‘Glamour Shots’ for 80s music videos.

There. That’s a free business idea I’m selflessly bestowing upon the world. Mainly because I wish it were an actual thing.

You remember Glamour Shots, right? Think Deb from Napoleon Dynamite. Your local mall probably had a Glamour Shots at some point or another; most likely in the late 80s or early 90s. It was a chain of portrait studios where you got all gussied up in eyeliner and feather boas like some two-bit whore–the bigger and more feathered your hair, the better–to pose for your very own “glamour shot.” Sometimes you cold even pose with props, like a sparkly microphone or studded cowgirl hat. At Glamour Shots, it didn’t matter how young or old you were, fat or thin, wearing whore make-up and single-handedly depleting the world’s supply of Aqua Net was appropriate for all ages and body types. Sometimes even men.

Oh Google Image Search, you never disappoint. Here’re some of the finest examples of Glamour Shots the internet has to offer:

Glamour Shot Glamour Shot Glamour Shot
Glamour Shots Glamour Shot Glamour Shots

 This is also highly relevant and worth a few minutes of your time: The 20 Worst Glamour Shots

So anyway, back to my brilliant idea. Imagine if there was a Glamour Shots-like place you could go to get made over in the style of your favorite music video? Not just a makeover, though–I’m talking about actually “starring” in one. That’s totally possible nowadays, what with Photoshop and clever video editing, right? Or maybe it could be done kind of like Jab-Jab where there’s these pre-recorded template videos of faceless people dancing the parts of your favorite music videos and all they’d have to do is insert your photo. Yeah…I’VE THOUGHT WAY TOO MUCH ABOUT THIS. I suppose the idea wouldn’t need to be limited to 80′s music videos, but 80′s music videos are obviously the most rad AND the most ridiculous–kind of like Glamour Shots themselves.

I’ve already got my dream videos all picked out:

I know it’s hard to put a pricetag on living your dream, but whaddya think–about $100 or so for the privilege? Discounts if you can supply your own wardrobe. Just think how amazing dinner parties and family get-togethers will be when you can whip out a cheesy music video of your very own.

The Most Pixely Man in the Universe

Animator Caleb Hystad re-created the classic Masters of the Universe cartoon intro in glorious pixel art, because, why not? And I’m posting it because this is exactly the kind of silly crap I post. I mean, have you looked around here lately? No seriously, have you?

Hey Caleb–on the off-chance you ever read this, how about doing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles next?