Archived entries for The Time Warp

Did you own a Vectrex in the 80s? Me either, but now you can on iPad.

Retro gaming fans rejoice, for now you can rediscover Vectrex, the failed, extremely short-lived game console from 1982 on your iPad. The Vectrex wasn’t anywhere near as popular as, say, the Colecovision or Commodore 64 and disappeared from store shelves by 1984–around the time I was picking up an Atari 2600 controller for the first time. It’s a rare console with a small library of even rarer games, and something of a prize among retro gaming collectors.

Just released, Vectrex Regeneration is the iOS app that emulates the Vectrex console gaming experience, much like the equally awesome Atari’s Grestest Hits and Activision Anthology apps I’ve posted about before. The app itself is free to download (get it here) and comes with a few free games like MineStorm, but if you want the whole collection it’ll cost you $6.99. In addition to original titles like Ripoff and Solar Quest, there’re a few indie titles as well.

Vectrex

Vectrex Game Shelf

Probably the coolest thing about the app is how it’s designed as if you’re inside a kid’s bedroom from the 1980′s, complete with posters all over the walls and retro-tastic electronics.  Here’re a couple of screenshots from my iPad to show you what I mean:

80s Bedroom - Vectrex on the Desk

80s Bedroom - TV & VCR

80s Bedroom - VHS Shelf

I love too how you can actually use the wood-paneled VCR to play old Vectrex commercials from that shelf of VHS tapes:

Vectrex Commercial

Obviously I never had a Vectrex, but I think it’s pretty cool I can now get acquainted with this particular slice of retro gaming history on my iPad. Beats paying out the ass for one on Ebay, anyway.

Are you fucking kidding me?

VCR Repair and other terrible careers Sally Struthers peddled in the 90s.

It’s amazing the nostalgia that random Twitter conversations about Beverly Hills: 90210 has-beens can trigger. Learning that Brenda–or “Bren,” as my homeboy Dylan used to always call her–is hawking online university degrees now immediately made me think of all those old “Earn your degree at home!” commercials from the early 90′s. Yes, sometimes I even get nostalgic for old, shitty commercials, like this one for International Correspondence Schools that starred Sally Struthers:

There were probably a dozen or so different variations of this same commercial, each new version starring an ever more irrelevant and desperate-looking Sally Struthers urging you to train at home to make more money.  It’s a strange parallel because I’m fairly certain these very commercials aired during episodes of 90210. Did Shannon Doherty know back then she’d end up following the same path? I guess we’ll never know!

As for me, I always found these ICS commercials to be strangely comforting. Like somewhere in the back of my mind I knew I could become a total failure at life and still call that 1-800 number someday and be on my way to an exciting new career. While wearing sweatpants!

Sally Struthers Careers

Just for shiggles, I tried calling that 1-800 number a few minutes ago just to see if it still worked. It rang about thirty times, and I was then greeted with a recorded female voice saying, “Your party is not answering. Please try again later. We’re sorry, but your call will now be disconnected.”

I can only assume this means that International Correspondence Schools is STILL SO BUSY SELLING FAKE DEGREES they didn’t have time to take my call.

Pro Tips for Stupid Kids on ‘Legends of the Hidden Temple’

Tuesday night on Twitter, in between watching the election results roll in and shoveling popcorn into my face hole (well, technically it was Goldfish crackers) while watching Donald Trump’s spectacular meltdown, this extremely important conversation took place between me and Soap in the Bathroom:

 

[tweet https://twitter.com/shezcrafti/status/266071431681568768]

[tweet https://twitter.com/soapsite/status/266071847571959808]

Yes, I consider anything related to early 90′s-era Nickelodeon a matter of extreme importance. As I always do when regressing to age 12 and hating life that awesome shows like Legends of the Hidden Temple that both aggrandize and humiliate children are no longer on TV, I started looking up clips on YouTube, if only to validate my assertion that The Shrine of the Silver Monkey is the destroyer of dreams. Or at least dreams that involve receiving a prize package that includes Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia on CD-ROM. I was not disappointed.

Shrine of the Silver Monkey: Nickelodeon’s Darwinism

SpreeGoogs put together this video survival guide of sorts with tips for how to handle yourself in that silver bastard’s shrine, which goes out to all the stupid kids who ever got tripped up in there (and presumably went home in tears because they blew their big chance to go to Space Camp.)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQvzoY9SaQY

THREE FUCKING PIECES

The Rocky Horror Picture Show [31 DVDs of Halloween]

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is one those movies you either love or hate. There is no in between. (Kind of like candy corn.) I’ve chosen to feature it on my countdown, so it should be fairly obvious which category I fall into. In my defense (because for some reason I’m feeling the need to defend myself when it comes to this movie), I was indoctrinated pretty early.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show -

I can remember this movie always being on TV around Halloween, and I was the kind of kid that deliberately watched things I wasn’t supposed to watch. In fact, I went out of my way to do so. Sneaking downstairs to watch Dream On at two in the morning? Watching low-budget sexploitation films on USA with the volume turned down real low? I did those things. Before I was 12. Rocky Horror Picture Show had exactly the kind of bizarre, tawdry quality I was looking for in a “forbidden gem” (i.e. material my parents would have never approved of). Of course, back then I had no idea what “camp” was or WTF any of it was supposed to mean. I just knew it had The Grand Wizard from Worst Witch prancing around in fishnet stockings, which I found hilarious, so that was reason enough for me to watch it.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show - Back Cover

By the time I got to high school my movie knowledge was much more expansive and I was able to appreciate TRHPS for the parody it is. It was also quite popular in my high school–particularly with the theater crowd and us weirdos in the art club–and it was required viewing at every Halloween party. (Bring your own props!) I never missed an opportunity to do the Time Warp.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show - Inside

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is, quite simply, one of the greatest if not the greatest cult films in the history of ever, and a Halloween staple. I won’t hear any arguments to the contrary.  I would also contest that you cannot call yourself a true Tim Curry fan without at least having seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show even if you don’t consider yourself a fan. His performance is not to be missed.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show - Dr. Frank N Furter

If you need more reasons to love this movie, Meat Loaf is in it. MEAT LOAF! I’ve always been a fan of his rock-opera style which lends itself perfectly to the music of TRHPS (which is another whole reason to love this movie). Of course there’s also a very young, very hot, very scantily-clad Susan Sarandon if that’s what moves you. My favorite characters, however, are Riff Raff and Magenta. I know I’ve mentioned several times on this blog that I don’t like to wear costumes, but I could totally see myself dressing up as Magenta for Halloween. (Because I just don’t have the energy–or the eyebrows–for Columbia.)

The Rocky Horror Picture Show - DVDs

(Sidebar: I love the presentation of this DVD set. It’s always fun when the discs are part of the case artwork and you’re required to position them just right for the image to make sense. It’s like a bonus puzzle.)

The Rocky Horror Picture Show - Riff Raff

The Rocky Horror Picture Show isn’t for everybody, I’ll give you that–especially if you’re one of those straight-laced types who gets uncomfortable around, well, around the types of things that are depicted in TRHPS, to put it nicely. And yeah, it’s really fucking weird. On the other hand, it is one of the most original and wildly entertaining movies you’ll ever see.

So tell me — do you love it or hate it?

Meet Dr. Frank N Furter

I see you shiver with antici……….pation!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bc80tFJpTuo

Spooky Sexy Screenshots

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Rocky Horror Picture Show

 

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Rocky Horror Picture Show

What is 31 DVDs of Halloween?

As a spe­cial fea­ture for the Hal­loween Count­down, I’m show­cas­ing 31 Hal­loween DVDs from my per­sonal col­lec­tion. I have a lot of Halloween-related and hor­ror DVDs in gen­eral, but for this year’s count­down I’m only going to focus on my absolute favorites–the ones I con­sider 100% essen­tial for my enjoy­ment of the holiday.

I challenge you not to cry at Henry Thomas’s screen test for E.T.

I already cry like a little bitch every time I watch E. T. (which I’m pretty sure stands for “Extra Tissues”). I feel no shame in admitting that. Now, thanks to this recently-surfaced clip of Henry Thomas’s screen test for the role of Elliott, I will now also cry like a little bitch every time I watch the Blu-Ray’s special features.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YaqUIsrEh1M#!

Phew, that was heartbreaking stuff. I need a palate cleanser:

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

The 30th Anniversary edition of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial was released on Blu-Ray October 9th and is packed with every E.T.-related special feature you could possibly want–except perhaps an audio track with Michael Jackson narrating the movie. That edition only exists in my dreams.

[Thanks Hey U Guys!]

ShezCrafti Then & Now: The State of the Site

Seriously, guys. I don't know WTF I'm doing.

The League is mixing things up yet again this week with a topic that steps outside our regularly scheduled pop culture programming. Go grab yourself a snack or something–I suggest these–and settle in, because this is going to be a long post.

Write a “State of the Site” for your web site. How’s it going? What exciting things have happened this past year? Where do you want your site to be in a year’s time? 

I found this topic to be more than a little challenging. This website is me, so quite a bit of my personality and personal history is intertwined with the state of ShezCrafti.com, and it’s never easy to write about yourself. Also, I don’t really have any grandiose plans, ambitions, or visions of world domination for ShezCrafti and therefore it’s difficult for me to look at my site from the perspective of whether or not it’s a success. Hell, I don’t even run any ads here.

As a personal blog, ShezCrafti is simply a place for me to geek out about whatever it is I happen to be geeking out over on any given day–usually that’s video games, terrible movies, TV shows, comics, music, 80′s & 90′s pop culture, and yeah, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I use this site as a way to collect, share and organize all the geeky/stupid/random things I care about as well as a means to “officially” put new things I’m excited about on my radar. Occasionally I’ll have a coherent thought, humorous anecdote,  or something insightful to say about whatever it is that I’m sharing and the words I write will resonate with a random visitor and they’ll go out of their way to leave me a comment. I like it when that happens. But as far as success metrics go, you could say I’ve set the bar pretty low.

But before I get into what I’ve been up to lately and how this past year has gone, I’d like to take some time to reflect back on the history of this site and how it came to be–for posterity’s sake, as well as your potential amusement.

Please, please, a moment to reflect.

Secret of the Ooze - A Moment to Reflect

 

Creation: The Late ’90s

The mythology of ShezCrafti’s origin is one that is deeply rich and steeped in lore.

Picture it. AOL. 1998.  That was the year before I graduated high school, and a time when America Online was the nation’s primary means of accessing the internet. It was also the year the Beastie Boys dropped their bomb-ass album Hello Nasty! on us which I used to listen to non-stop and it contributed heavily to the definitive soundtrack to my senior year.

AOHELL

As I mention on my About page because I do get asked rather frequently what this name means, I was once very obsessed with the Beastie Boys. “She’s Crafty” is my favorite song by them, so that’s what I chose for the all-important, personality-defining AOL screen name that would become legendary among the 312 privileged people on my Buddy List.

And then: TRAGEDY STRUCK. “ShesCrafty” was already taken–by someone whom I suspect is a much less cool and deserving individual–and so I had to spell it retardedly, and thus ShezCrafti was born. That’s my legacy, folks. And as Howie from UnderScoopFire once told me, I own it.

Late Antiquity: 2001 – 2004 (ish)

You may be surprised to learn that ShezCrafti.com actually began life sometime back in 2001 as ShezCrafti.net, a crappy, self-centric personal homepage I was hosting on Yahoo Geocities (lol!) as a way to keep in touch with friends, write blog posts about things probably only 5 other people in the universe cared about, and collect all the stupid, random crap I had stumbled upon on the internet; you know, classic time-wasters like All Your Base and the  Hamster Dance. The concept of “blogging” wasn’t nearly as popular back then as it is today, and blogs were generally associated with LiveJournal and similar sites.  This was back before social networking had officially become “a thing,” before MySpace and Facebook existed, before Twitter, before “the cloud”, even before WordPress which is the platform making it possible for you to read these very words.

During my college years, the original ShezCrafti site was something of a weird creative outlet, as well as a way for me to practice HTML and learn CSS. But mostly it was an excuse to dick around on the internet while pretending like I was doing something important or something that anyone outside of my close circle of friends gave two shits about.

Through the miracle of The Wayback Machine, I was able to cobble together this screenshot for you:

ShezCrafti: The Early Years

As you can see, I was going through my crucial anime phase and evidently I preferred a monochromatic color scheme. “Life. Stuff. Whatever.” I was deep. I’ve chosen to blur out some of the stupid things I wrote because reading it ten years later just makes me want to gag. (It’s also a sobering reminder that the things you put on the internet have a tendency to live forever.) I have no idea who I was or what I was thinking when I wrote or shared most of this stuff, and my life today resembles nothing of that girl’s. Hilariously, though, I also discovered that my old Guestbook (remember those things?) is STILL functional. That was worth looking up my 21-year-old internet self for.

The Dark Ages: 2004 – 2007 (ish)

During this period I wasn’t very active online, if at all. For two years the role of ShezCrafti was played by an unhappily married woman whose career was in flux and didn’t have much to offer creatively. This was also around the time she became addicted to World of Warcraft and as is typical of most WoW addicts, the productivity levels for most other aspects of her life reached an all-time low. I completely let ShezCrafti.net go and eventually Yahoo took it down. The *crickets* were deafening.

WoW Addict

The Renaissance: 2008 – 2011 (ish)

After going through a divorce, landing an awesome new job, and living on my own for the first time, I began to get back in touch with myself and sort of re-discover all the things I was once interested in that I had been missing. My creative muse returned and I started doing freelance web design & development work on the side not because I needed to, but because it was something I’m genuinely interested in. After building several sites and WordPress blogs for other people, I thought, hey, why not do this for myself? I had gotten the itch to start doing something creative again, but I wasn’t sure what. I was inspired by pop culture sites like X-Entertainment and The Surfing Pizza, but I didn’t necessarily want or have the motivation to write a collection of lengthy, nostalgic personal essays, as much as I enjoyed reading theirs. I also wanted to write about video games in some capacity, since I am a gamer and do play them quite a bit and make an effort to keep up with all the latest gaming news. I just knew I wanted to do something, anything.

And so it was that I launched ShezCrafti.com in November of 2008, not really knowing what the hell I was doing or what I was getting myself into. This was my first post. In it, I attempt to explain why I started this site and what readers could expect from me, not that I had any idea what that would be at the time this was written. There’s also a great picture of 5-year-old me petting a goat. (Yeah, I don’t know either.)

Today

Although this website in its current form has been around since 2008, it wasn’t until February/March of this year that I began blogging with any sort of regularity. After getting a third notice that my domain was up for renewal, I made it a New Year’s resolution of mine to get back in the habit of posting regularly with the goal of transforming this site into something that was valuable to me; otherwise I didn’t see the point of keeping it around. That’s when I switched gears and established the following “rules” for ShezCrafti:

  • Write only about the things I genuinely care about and feel like writing about. No other obligations need apply.
  • Not every post has to be a masterpiece or even well-written, though I do try. This saves me from getting too hung up on the impossibly high standards I sometimes set for myself. (Believe it or not, I do have standards sometimes, you guys.)
  • Above all, I have to be having fun.

So far these rules seem to be working out, and it’s been very freeing to abandon formalities and simply blog for myself and not worry too much about what anyone else thinks. Following this path has led me to meeting some awesome new internet friends and other bloggers with whom I have a lot in common, even if there’s thousands of physical miles between us.

The biggest step forward for ShezCrafti, however, was joining The League of Extraordinary Bloggers back in June, which is headed up by the super awesome Brian of Cool and Collected. I had stumbled upon a couple of League-related posts over at Branded In The 80s and Flashlights Are Something To Eat and knew right away I wanted to be a part of this crazy crew. I mean  how could I NOT want to participate in group blogging topics like “When I Was 12″, “Kurt Russell is Awesome” and “Why 1984 is Possibly the Greatest Year in Pop Culture History”? I don’t mean to brag, but I’m an expert on those topics.

Since joining The League I’ve met and connected with even more amazing bloggers, and have even come out of my shell a little bit to participate in a few podcasts, write guest posts, and in general join in all the geeky pop culture camaraderie that seems to surround The League. I look forward every day to reading and commenting on all of the great things they post. I originally planned to give a shout-out to a few of my favorite fellow Leaguers in this paragraph, but as I started making the list it quickly spiraled out of control. There’s just too many awesome sites and people in The League, and there’s no way I could give them the individual level of praise and attention they deserve, so I’ll just leave this here as it applies to all of you:

You're Awesome

The Future

I have no idea where ShezCrafti will be even in a year’s time, and I won’t pretend like I have lofty goals or ambitions for this site beyond just having a nerdy corner of the internet to call home and connecting with like-minded bloggers.  And for right now, I’m 100% OK with that.

What state are you in?

Wondering what this is all about? This week The League was tasked with writing a “State of the Site” address for our websites. Here’s what some of my fellow Leaguers had to say:

Free Halloween Costume Ideas, Courtesy of Pre-Trainwreck Adam Sandler

Remember back when Adam Sandler was funny? Remember when we used to laugh at all his obnoxious voices and stupid faces? Remember that one time on Weekend Update when he spouted off a bunch of silly ideas for costumes you can make for free using stuff you’ve got lying around the house? Is this a cop-out for almost missing this week’s assignment from The League? Yup.

I had a much better post planned, but it involved me going over to my parents house to dig through boxes of old photos to show you some of the musty hand-me-downs and hideous fabric shame-fests my mom hand-sewed and forced me to wear over the years, but I ran out of time, and trust me, you’re much better off without me recounting those miserable experiences.  The thing is, I’ve never been big on costumes. Not only do I not enjoy getting dressed up in any capacity or putting makeup on my face, I don’t like calling attention to myself. Candy was always my number one priority every Halloween, and as far as I was concerned, putting on a costume to go out and get it was just a formality.

On top of that, my parents refused to splurge on any kind of decent store-bought costume for me, rationalizing this obviously poor parenting decision as being thrifty because, and I quote, “why spend a lot of money for something you’ll only wear once?” And so, my Halloween costumes throughout the years have ranged from mild disappointments to total failures, and eventually I stopped caring altogether and gladly put in the least amount of thought and effort as possible.

In that respect, the above clip I posted is a perfect summation of my feelings about Halloween costumes. JUST GIMME SOME DAMN CANDY!

But just to humor you guys and get my check plus from the teacher for doing the work, here are my responses to the actual questions we were asked this week:

1. What was the most legendary costume you ever wore?

A witch. The “legendary” part is that I wore it to junior high for Halloween Spirit Day on the WRONG GODDAMN DAY. I was the only one in the entire school dressed up, and yes, it was mortifying.

2. What would you dress up as this year?

Crazy Newspaper Unicorn Man

And what are you supposed to be?

Wondering what this is all about? This week The League of Extraordinary Bloggers was tasked with describing the best costume we ever wore, and what we would dress up as this year. Here’s a couple of my favorite responses from fellow Leaguers who put much more thought and effort into this assignment than I did!

 

Looking Back on 25+ Years of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles [Infographic]

 So, here’s a thing I did that you Ninja Turtle fans might appreciate.

A few weeks ago UnderScoopFire (friends of ShezCrafti.com and one of my favorite places to litter the internet) asked me if I’d like to do a TMNT-related guest post in anticipation of the new Nickelodeon show and to wax nerdy about the general awesomeness that is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Naturally I said SHELL YES!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a franchise that’s going on 30 years old and one that many of us grew up with. Over the years there’s been many different versions of the Turtles across all media–comics, TV, film, toys, video games–even the stage. I wanted to do something to pay my respects to the past three decades of TMNT history and showcase the many different versions of the Turtles.

This infographic is the result:

[Click here to view it full-size]

TMNT History Infographic

Head on over to UnderScoopFire to read my guest post Shellebrating 25+ Years of TMNT History and check out all the other retro-tastic content the site offers for us children of the 80s!

Toddler Mutant Ninja Turtles

Young Ninja Turtles

This week The League is feeling young–which I guess isn’t very surprising for a blogging group where the majority of us are over 30 and still play with toys, but that’s beside the point. In the spirit of Young Indiana Jones, Young Frankenstein and Young Guns, we were given the ultra fun task of coming up with a concept for a “Young” prequel or series based on an existing property. Naturally I chose the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

I know what some of you regular readers are probably thinking right now: Yes, it's another post about Ninja Turtles and you will fucking like it.

Look, I don’t want to hear it. It’s my blog and I do what I want.

Doing what I want.

Dancing Ninja Turtle

 

 

 

And yes, I’m well aware that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are, in fact, teenagers, which means they’re already pretty young. But in my prequel they’d be even younger.

  • Preteenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Nope, not young enough.
  • Tweenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Still not young enough.
  • Baby Mutant Not-Yet-Ninja Turtles? Way too young.
  • Toddler Mutant Ninja Turtles? Just the right amount of young.

If “Toddler Turtles” is sounding familiar, it’s probably because there were a few episodes of the 4Kids TMNT cartoon from 2003 that introduced the concept (as well as the most adorable TMNT toys ever made). Flashback episode “The Lesson” from the third season gives us a fun glimpse into what the Turtles’ childhoods were like as they help a young Casey Jones overcome his trouble with bullies.

Young Leo helps Casey Jones.

We also get to see Splinter training the young turtle tots to be ninja:

Splinter Teaching

Turtles Balancing

Young Mikey & Donnie Sparring

The Turtles getting into all kinds of mischief:

Turtles Hiding

Mikey & Donnie Mischief

Raph & Leo Get Away with it

Going topside for the first time:

Turtles Topside

Turtles Alley

And of course, discovering pizza:

Toddler Turtles Eating Pizza

MOAR TODDLER TURTLES PLZ

We get to see the Turtles as babies or unmutated turtles in almost every iteration of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but rarely do we get to see them as toddlers or young children. The problem is, Toddler Turtles only appear in a couple of episodes of the 4Kids cartoon, which is a shame because this could easily be a standalone show or even a comic book series–perhaps something like Muppet Babies, except Splinter wouldn’t just be a pair of green-striped stockings (although now that I’m thinking about it, that’d be pretty entertaining).

Nanny

There’s so much potential for interesting stories at this age, like how the Turtles and Splinter acquire things like furniture, electronics, and food over time, gradually transforming their sewer lair into a home. I want to see young Donatello becoming a geek and using a computer for the first time. I want to know where Raphael gets his temper from. I want to see how the young Turtles react and interact with the world and how it is they’ve come to know so much about it by the time they’re teenagers. How did they come to choose their weapons (because I don’t like this explanation)? I could go on and on.

Rather than water down the “teenage” and “ninja” aspects to make the franchise suitable for kids, why not develop a whole show around the pre-teenage, not-quite-ninjas-yet Turtles? Not only would it help fill in the blanks for some of the burning questions TMNT fans have always had about the Turtles’ early years, but it would be fun, kid-friendly, and most importantly, insanely cute.

“YOLO!” and other retarded things young people say these days.

Wondering what this is all about? This week The League of Extraordinary Bloggers was assigned with developing a “Young ____” series or prequel like Young Indiana Jones or Young Frankenstein. Here’s what my homies in the League posted:

  • Rediscover the 80s hazards a guess at what Young Dukes of Hazzard would be like. (See what I did there?)
  • Goodwill Hunting 4 Geeks wants to see young Monsters vs. Aliens because why not?
  • Q the Adult has never seen Young Sherlock Holmes (for shame!) but totally makes up for it by being a fellow Harry Potter fan.

Happy Birthday, Jim Henson

Happy Birthday, Jim Henson

If I could still talk to you in person or better yet Dreamfast with you, I would tell you thanks:

For teaching me the value of true friendship…

The Muppets Take Manhattan

…for teaching me, period.

Sesame Street

For the scary bedtime stories…

Jim Henson Storyteller

…and awesome Saturday mornings.

Muppet Babies

For taking me to fantastic other worlds beyond my imagination…

The Dark Crystal

…through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered…

Labyrinth

…to a place where I could dance my cares away.

Fraggle Rock

And finally, for bringing my heroes to life.

Jim Henson with the Ninja Turtles

In short, thank you for making my childhood amazing.

Yeah, Mr. Wizard was kind of a dick.

If you grew up in the 80s, Mr. Wizard’s World, the half-hour long science show for kids–hosted by Mr. Wizard himself, Don Herbert–was required viewing. But did you ever get the feeling Mr. Wizard was kind of a dick? For the poor, dumb kids on his show, every experiment was an opportunity for failure and for Mr. Wizard to snidely point out their mistakes. You know he lived for that shit. When he wasn’t lording his superior knowledge of science over children, he was using it to endanger their lives.

Tweeps @DianeBullock and @mcs212 have put together this hilarious clip that compiles some of Mr. Wizard’s dickiest moments. Watch it, laugh at it, and then forgive me for tainting your memories of one of the best shows from the classic era of Nickelodeon.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkJEt1UsUcs

You weren’t cool in the 80s & early 90s unless you had these bike accessories.

How to Be Awesome

Unless we’re counting my Cabbage Patch Big Wheel and that fugly red and yellow Little Tikes car that nearly every child born in the early 80s had, my first ride was a bitchin’ rainbow-covered Care Bears bike with handlebar streamers and training wheels. Over the years many other bikes came and went in my life, each one cooler than the previous (or so I was convinced at the time), including a hot pink cruiser with a banana seat, a pastel 10-speed, and of course my Ninja Turtles BMX.

But back in the 80s,  having a nice bike–even if it was plastered with socially acceptable licensed characters–wasn’t enough. No, in my neighborhood, your ride wasn’t cool unless it was tricked out with at least one or more of these pimp bike accessories:

Spokey Dokeys Bike Beads

This was your entry-level vehicle customization in the 80s. Spokey Dokeys were little plastic colored beads, usually neon, that clipped onto your bike’s wheel spokes. As your wheels turned, they slide up and down your spokes making a delightfully raucous noise that was sure to annoy all the neighbors. The really cool kids had glow-in-the dark Spokey Dokeys.

Spokey Dokes

(Image credit: Tons-of-Toys.com)

80s Hipster Kid

Handlebar Streamers

Completely useless but 100% necessary (for girls, at least). The hard part was finding streamers that coordinated with your bike’s design and color scheme. You couldn’t get away with primary-colored streamers on a neon-accented bike. Mismatched bike accessories were a major fashion faux pas.

Handlebar Streamers

Reflectors

Bike safety was uncool back then, so manufacturers had to make it more appealing to kids with popular licensed characters and gimmicky freebies. Whether you bought SnapOns or got them out of a cereal box, bike reflectors were a must-have accessory for expressing your personal style. Nobody cared that they also helped you not to get by cars.

Kellogg's Fruit Loops Garfield Bike Reflector

(Image credt: bolio88 Flickr)

Garfield Reflector

Handlebar Radio

Only for the true ballers. These clunky AM/FM radios attached to your bike so you could listen to Casey Kasem’s Top 40 Countdown as you cruised by all your less fortunate friends’ houses, praying that a really cool song would be playing. The rest of us had to fake it with Pocket Rockers fastened to our handlebars.

Bicycle Radio

(Image credit: nhwilber Flickr)

Bike Horn/Siren

Though useful for asserting dominance over younger kids on their Big Wheels and cutting paths through crowded sidewalks, your basic bike horn was pretty boring. That’s why you had to have a cool one that made police noises or had your favorite cartoon and comic book characters on it, like Batman, Spider-Man, or this bad boy:

TMNT Bike Horn

(Image credit: The Sewer Den)

I only ever knew one kid in my neighborhood who had a replica tiger bike siren just like Pee Wee Herman’s. Legend has it he could beat the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles NES game without dying once and also, this one time, he made out with two girls at the same time.

Pee Wee Herman Tiger Bike Siren

(Image credit: Rat Rod Bikes) 

How Not to Be Awesome:

To achieve maximum cool status, these bike accessories should be avoided:

  • Flags
  • Old-timey bells
  • Baskets, especially if it had flowers woven into it
  • Helmets, knee pads, or any other wearable safety gear. We lived on the edge back then.

Going ‘Back to School’ with TMNT & Fifth Platoon

Today I’m going back to school…by kickin’ it old school.

The first thing that popped into my head when I read this week’s rather vague but simple League topic of “Back to School” was this song by the short-lived, early 90s hip hop group, Fifth Platoon (who are evidently so obscure they don’t even have a Wikipedia page–somebody needs to get on that):

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWsyyk26iHc

TMNT fans should recognize it from the soundtrack to the 1991 sequel film, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze. It has hokey lyrics like “Back to school, ’cause it’s cool–don’t be no fool!” and talks about Trapper Keepers and video games. Basically everything that was important to me in fifth grade, which is when this movie came out.

Raph & Keno

I’ve always been fascinated by the reasons behind why songs get chosen for movie soundtracks and how they’re used in the film. “Back to School” can be heard briefly during the part where Raph and Keno stake out the Foot Clan’s hideout, which I always thought was kind of funny in the context of the scene. After a sarcastic exchange with Raph in which he acts like he knows everything, Keno infiltrates The Foot in an attempt to let himself get recruited, but panics during the bell test–something he couldn’t have passed without Raph’s help, of course–so I always took it to mean that Raph had “schooled” him; or at least that’s my own silly interpretation of why this song is on the soundtrack.

The real reason is probably much simpler: the song is kid-friendly hip hop with a positive message, and I’m guessing it was super cheap to get the rights to. Whatever the actual reason, I do like this song quite a bit and couldn’t imagine The Secret of the Ooze soundtrack without it. It’s a shame Fifth Platoon fizzled as a hip hop group because I really dig their old school sound and the whole party vibe they had going on, which can also be heard on their moderately successful but still pretty obscure single “Partyline” and its even rarer but bangin’ b-side, “Hallelujah The Fifth is Here.”

I had both Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie soundtracks on cassette tape and played them so much I destroyed the tapes. The perforated, fold-out inserts were also a wreck as I used to spread them out on my bed and read along with the lyrics and look at the photos as I listened to the album. In fact, I still listen to both of these soundtracks on a regular basis (and to a much lesser extent, the TMNT III soundtrack, which sucks and is full of filler) only now I stream them from Google Music.

The technology has changed, but my love for cheesy movie soundtracks lives on.

I’ll trade you my Fruit By the Foot for your Turtle Pie…

Wondering what this is all about? This week, The League of Extraordinary Bloggers is going back to school, interpreting the topic however we wish! Here’s who I’m giving extra credit to:

 

An Awesome Welcome Home Package from The League

Spending eight hours in a cramped car driving back from vacation is not my idea of a fun day. I woke up this morning to a sunny, perfect beach day in Murell’s Inlet, South Carolina and had to tear myself away to get on the road early, if I had any hope of getting home at a decent hour. Long road trips home after vacation are the worst, especially when you’re leaving behind beautiful weather. All you can think about is how short it was, and stress about all the crap you have to do when you get home. By the time I reached Baltimore, I was in a pretty suck-tastic mood.

When I finally got home, there were a bunch of packages on my doorstep. Looking a little closer, I saw they were all from members of The League which put an instant smile on my face and made me forget how tired and cranky I was. I wasted no time tearing into them.

Package #1, from Tupa’s Treasures

The first package was a big box full of awesome retro stuff from Christopher Tupa, the talented artist and blogger behind Tupa’s Treasures. Chris sent me an intriguing email a week or so ago saying he found “something I might like” that he wanted to send me.

Tupa's Treasures

Well Chris, you have definitely done that and then some! In fact, I’m having trouble figuring out what the original “something” is, as pretty much everything in this package is a treasure. Here’s what was inside:

  • Six Guns and Shurikens, a TMNT paperback book from 1990. This took me back to 5th grade right away. I used to have this book, along with a few other TMNT paperbacks that I ordered from my elementary school’s book fair once upon a time. Flipping through the pages was like recovering a lost relic from my past.
  • TMNT Thermos with my favorite Turtle, Raphael on the front! I saw this posted on Chris’s blog a few weeks ago, which he scored for a quarter at a yard sale.
  • Invasion of the Punk Frogs, a VHS of episode 13 from Season 2 of the original 1987 TMNT cartoon. I can’t even imagine how much shelf space you’d need to collect the entire 80′s TMNT cartoon on single-episode VHS tapes.
  • TMNT toy bike; I’m actually not sure which TMNT toy line the bike is from, but it totally fits my new Nickelodeon Turtles figures. Does anyone out there know?
  • New Kids on the Block paperback book — another relic from my past! I never had this book, but my friend/frenemy across the street did. She was obsessed with NKOTB and we used to get into stupid fights about what was cooler: TMNT or NKOTB. Obviously I was the one who was correct.
  • The Last Starfighter movie novel. I had no idea a novelization of that movie existed until I saw this thing on Chris’s blog. It’s one of my favorite cheesy 80′s sci-fi movies and I can’t wait to read it.
  • A stack of Garbage Pail Kids stickers. Yes! I don’t have that many GPKs anymore but would love to start collecting again. These are a nice head start.

My favorite item, however, is this watercolor of Raphael that Chris drew and painted himself:
Ninja Turtle by Christopher Tupa

I love Chris’s cartoony, colorful style which I fell in love with when I saw the super-cute Pop Culture Road Trip souvenir map he designed for The League. I’d love to see what a whole group shot of the TMNT would look like. (Do you take commissions, Chris??)

He also included this adorable little printed art booklet called “Ode to Spring” which is literally too cute for words:

Ode to Spring by Christopher Tupa

Art Booklet - Chris Tupa

Chris, you have completely overwhelmed me with how much awesome you packed into this box. I don’t know what I did to deserve such a nice surprise in the mail, but thank you, thank you, thank you! This made my day.

Package #2, from Top Hat Sasquatch

Moving on to the soft, squishy package I got from Tommy Day of Top Hat Sasquatch, I knew right away it must have been the kickass THS t-shirt I ordered.

Top Hat Sasquatch Shirt & Stickers

Featuring original Alex Deligiannis artwork of the sophisticated ‘Squatch himself, its high brow design makes it appropriate for all occasions when an extra touch of class is needed–weddings, black tie events, job interviews, state dinners…

As an added bonus, there were 8-bit THS stickers, buttons, and a TMNT goodie bag full of retro trading cards! The Turtles lunch bag was a nice touch and really brought back some memories; I probably haven’t seen one of those things in over twenty years! My Dad used to pack all my lunches in them, and would write funny things inside of drawn-on speech bubbles.

I can’t wait to wear the shirt to work and answer the inevitable questions people will ask about it. (“Why yes, that is a fancy sasquatch in a top hat blowing bubbles from a pipe!”) Thank you, Tommy, for the wearable work of art and conversation starter!

Package #3, from Branded in the 80s

Last but not least, I received this personal mixtape (err…mix CD?) from Shawn Robare of Branded in the 80s. (To be honest, this has probably been chilling in my mailbox for a week or more, but I didn’t open it until today. Even when I’m not on vacation, I’m lazy about checking the mail.)

Branded in the 80s Mixtape

This disc is the physical manifestation of a recent League assignment–to create our own personal high school mixtape–which Shawn opted to give away for free to anyone who wanted a copy (analog piracy!) because he’s old school like that.

It’s an eclectic mix of all the songs Shawn was jamming to back in the early ’90s, and includes Ween, Weezer, The Rentals, Weird Al, and even some tracks from the animated Transformers and X-Men movies. My favorite track on it, however, is “Girlfriend” by Matthew Sweet. I’ll never forget the first time I saw that music video and thought how cool it was to have Japanese animation in it.

Shawn, thank you for going the extra mile (as you always do!) and taking the time to mix, burn, and mail these CDs out. I really enjoyed your “liner notes” and it was fun taking an audible journey into your past. One of the best ways to get to know someone is through their music, and your high school mixtape just confirms what I already suspected: you were one of the cool kids.

NINJA FORCE FIVE, Assemble!

Yes, I’m still on vacation. But how could I pass up a League topic like this?

“Who would you take in an 80′s character fantasy draft? Your team’s goal will be to defeat a shady conglomerate of Russian businessmen and their team of hired ninjas. It’s go time.”

Ninja Force 5

Mr. Miyagi

Mr. Miyagi

Task Force Role:

The Wise Leader

Special Skills:

  • Extraordinary martial arts skill passed down from generations of Miyagi-Do karate teachings
  • Decorated World War II veteran, awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery
  • Deep philosophical knowledge of life
  • Zen-like patience and sharp reflexes (presumably from years of trying to catch flies with chopsticks)
  • Respected sensei who gives karate lessons disguised as household chores
  • Mystical healing powers
  • Handyman
  • Bicycle repair
  • Car restoration expert
  • Costume designer
  • Fisherman
  • On top of everything else, he’s a hell of a gardener and makes a fabulous cup of tea.

Seriously, is there anything Mr. Miyagi can’t do? He leads Ninja Force Five with poise and grace, usually dispensing wisdom and training from the sidelines, but doesn’t hesitate to jump into the fray and kick serious ass when needed. Bad guys, take note: don’t underestimate Mr. Miyagi–he’ll fuck your shit up.

Richard “Data” Wang

Data

Task Force Role:

Special Combat, Technical Expert

Special Skills:

  • Inventing weapons, armor and spy tools from common household objects
  • Setting “booty” traps
  • Zipline mastery
  • Fluent in Chinese (Needs work: English)

As the tinkerer and inventor of the group, Data supplies all of the team’s weapons, armor and spy gear. Sure, they’re not exactly what you’d call “high tech,” and they don’t always work, but they get the job done. His loose grip on the English language is often an unintentional advantage to Ninja Force Five in combat, as the bad guys are momentarily confused trying to figure out whatever the fuck he just said.

Sho’nuff, The Shogun of Harlem

Sho'nuff The Shogun of Harlem

Task Force Role:

Kung Fu Warrior

Special Skills:

    • Kung-Fu Master
    • Being the meanest
    • Being the prettiest
    • Being the baddest mofo low down around this town

Though highly skilled in Kung Fu, Sho’nuff is one crazy motherfucker and often flies off the handle. But he’s constantly surrounded by a posse of hot bitches, so Ninja Force Five keeps him around.

Raphael, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle

Raphael

Task Force Role:

Ninja Warrior, Comic Relief

Special Skills:

  • Ninjutsu
  • Sai mastery
  • Impenetrable shell armor
  • Sarcasm
  • Pizza throwing
  • He’s the only member of the team who can break the fourth wall
  • Plus, he’s a master of disguise

Raphael Undercover

As the only actual ninja in Ninja Force Five, Raphael is the go-to guy for all of the team’s ninja-related training and knowledge, a role for which he gladly steps up as it makes him feel important and needed (something he struggles with back home, living in Leonardo’s shadow). Expertly skilled with the sai, his close-up combat is brutal and his distance, thrown attacks are deadly accurate. When he’s not shoveling down pizza, he dispenses both ass-kicking and wisecracks with style and sarcastic humor.

“Handsome” John Pruitt

Handsome John Pruitt

Task Force Role:

Vehicle Driver, Backup

Special Skills:

  • Commercial truck driver
  • CB radio operator
  • Vehicle repair and maintenance
  • Handy with a gun
  • Hand-to-hook close combat
  • Decades of hardened highway wisdom

Don’t be fooled by the hook–he may be a rough and tough highwayman, but he’s got a heart of gold (so long as his wife isn’t sleeping with “that bastard” again). Pruitt transports Ninja Force Five around inconspicuously in his big rig truck, which Data has tricked out with Ninja-fighting technology. Though a humble truck driver/sometimes-mechanic, Pruitt knows how to handle himself when shit gets real. He’s been known to swoop in and save the day when you least expect it.

 The League Loves Ninjas!

Wondering what this is all about? This week The League of Extraordinary Bloggers was tasked with assembling a team of 80′s heroes to fight an evil Russian conglomerate and their ninja assassins. Who did they pick?

 

Questron: The Fun Way to Bring Learning to Life

Here’s some Information Age math for you:

The internet + the human mind’s amazing powers of recall = your childhood rediscovered.

For the longest time I’ve been searching for a lost relic from my own childhood, an educational toy I just recently learned was called Questron. (No, not the 1980s role-playing game of the same name.) Does anyone remember it? For some reason, I kept incorrectly remembering the name as “Quiztron” and thus my Google searches never turned up anything relevant and leading me to believe I had possibly dreamed the thing into existence. And then last week I stumbled upon this old blog post by Copywrong and my sanity was restored!

Questron Electronic Answer Wand

Questron was a battery-powered “answer wand” that worked with a series of specially-printed educational activity books. The books were full of questions that had multiple choice answers, which you’d use the wand to select. If you touched the wand to a correct answer, it lit up green and rewarded you with a happy-sounding alarm. If you touched a wrong answer, the wand lit up red and buzzed annoyingly.

Questron Books

It was all very high-tech for the mid-eighties, or at least it felt that way at the time; kind of like video games meets homework. I think my mom brought this home thinking it would deter me from playing so much Nintendo, the silly woman. I don’t remember if Questron actually taught me anything I didn’t already know, but it sure was fun to move that wand around on the colorful pages and pretend I was smart. Of course, once you knew which block to touch for the correct answer, it was easy impress mom and dad with your amazing knowledge.

Today I dug a little further and unearthed this old Questron commercial (in surprisingly great quality) that someone uploaded earlier this year. I don’t remember ever having seen this on TV, but the British accents probably have something to do with that. Now that I’m thinking about it, I can’t recall ever having seen any commercial for Questron.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKKQID7AYck

I’ve seen a couple of wands and book sets going on Ebay for around $50. I don’t think I could bring myself to pay that much, but if I ever come across one of these things a yard sale or flea market, I’ll be all over it.

What about you? Do you remember this toy, and if so, what books did you have?

Through the Years: Ken’s Raging Metrosexuality

As a male fashion doll, Ken has always been quite the metrosexual, but these decade mugshots really emphasize his questionable sense of style through the years:

Ken Through the Years

Let’s start with 1970′s Ken. What do you suppose that scarf is hiding? I have a few NSFW theories but I’ll leave them to your imagination. His healthy, perfectly manscaped eyebrows are enough to make Brooke Shields weep with envy.

I’ll let 1980′s molded plastic hair Ken off the hook. The only thing he’s guilty of is looking like a smug, yuppie asshole, which was the pinnacle of male fashion back then. The only thing he’s missing is a Lacoste sweater draped delicately over his shoulders, sleeves folded in a tidy knot.

Other than dressing like he raided Joey Gladstone’s wardrobe, 1990′s Ken wouldn’t be so bad if he could just get that bouffant under control. If there was ever such a thing as the exact opposite of cool, it is this Ken Doll’s hair. On the bright side, he’ll probably never need Rogaine with Minoxidil.

By the 2000′s, Ken has been completely emasculated, possibly on purpose, as his drastic change in appearance indicates a possible shift in strategy for Mattel, who are clearly trying to capitalize on the disposable income of the expanding GLBT market. As a suitable male companion for Barbie–or any woman, for that matter–frankly, this shit is just not acceptable.

The Ultimate Saturday Morning Cartoon Lineup

Saturday Morning CartoonsI didn’t have to think too hard about this week’s assignment from The League, which was to create our own ideal Saturday Morning Cartoon schedule. I just borrowed from my list of favorite cartoons of the 80s and 90s and called it done. #WINNING!

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe

8:00 – 8:30 AM

This ridiculous, awesome, and ridiculously awesome cartoon is your reward for getting up so early. But it’s the type of show you can still enjoy even if you’re half-asleep, in danger of face planting into your Fruity Pebbles. (Skeletor always loses–that’s all you need to know.) I HAVE THE POWER!

ThunderCats

8:30 – 9:00 AM

THUNDERCATS HOOOO! The skimpy outfit-wearing, sword-wielding, catchphrase-yelling awesomeness continues.

Captain N: The Game Master

9:00 – 9:30 AM

And now we move into the video game power hour. Who didn’t wish they could go inside the worlds of their favorite video games, especially if they get to be the hero? Captain N was the embodiment of every Nintendo-owning kid’s fantasy.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_k43xdmAc3A

Super Mario Bros. Super Show

9:30 AM – 10:00 AM

This show had everything: animation AND live-action, sitcom elements, celebrity guest stars, a cheesy rap song, video game music, and best of all it had The Legend of Zelda built-in. Two cartoons about video games in one!

X-MEN

10:00 – 10:30 AM

I saved the best timeslots for the best shows on this list. First up: X-MEN. I lived for Saturday mornings because of this show. I collected the comics, the trading cards, and recorded every episode on VHS. And it had one of the most badass instrumental theme songs ever.

Batman: The Animated Series

10:30 – 11:00 AM

I like my superheroes dark and gritty, and for Batman fans, this show was the ultimate. Originally airing for prime-time, it was a much more mature cartoon that didn’t pander to us kids.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5nB2OJnCko

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003 Series)

11:00 – 11:30 AM

This pick might be a little surprising to fans of the original 80′s TMNT cartoon, but I think the 2003 Turtles reboot was the better show between the two, and truer to the spirit of the original comics. Don’t get me wrong, I love the original! But this darker, more mature version of the Turtles fits in better with the other shows in my lineup.

Gargoyles

11:30 – 12:00 PM

I’m closing out the programming block with yet another darker, edgier show: Gargoyles! It’s full of awesome characters, gothic cityscapes, and complex story arcs. Sadly, this underrated show didn’t get much attention until after it was cancelled. In my Saturday morning cartoon lineup, it’s the reason to keep watching until it’s time to go outside and play!

Stay in your jammies and watch cartoons with The League!

Wondering what this is all about? This week The League of Extraordinary Bloggers was tasked with programming the ultimate Saturday morning cartoon experience for kids across the nation. Here’s what they picked:

What does 23-year-old air freshener smell like?

This is going to be one of those posts where I have no choice but to embarrass myself a bit, as you’re no doubt wondering why I’m even posting about air freshener in the first place. Obviously I must have had a need to use it–I’ll just leave it at that.

Possibly the only person on the internet who might appreciate this post is Shawn Robare over at Branded in the 80s, whom I recently learned has an affinity for old cans of Fresh’n Up room deodorizers and pastel toilet paper. This one’s for you, Shawn.

I was over at my grandmother’s house for dinner this past Wednesday, as is our ritual every Wednesday, since she lives nearby and it’s how we keep up. Anyway, after dinner I was using her bathroom (no need for details) when I discovered this:

Renuzit Potpourri Spray from 1989

The dated shit-brown colored packaging and 99 cent pricetag gave me instant pause–I knew right away this must be some lost relic of the past. Not to mention you don’t see the word “potpourri” used too often these days. Sure enough, when I looked a little closer, I find this is a can of air freshener from 1989. 

Renuzit 1989

Three thoughts immediately pop into my head:

  1. How the hell does my grandmother still have this in her bathroom?
  2. Why is it still FULL?
  3. Does it still smell good? (After all, doesn’t stuff like this expire?)

With no other options under the sink, and no matches in the vicinity, I knew what had to be done.

Renuzit - Fresh Spice Scent

What does it smell like?

The scent printed on the can is the generic-sounding “Fresh Spice,” which was apparently brand new at the time my grandmother bought this. I wouldn’t exactly describe the smell as “fresh,” but I suppose that’s to be expected some twenty-three years later. It smelled overwhelmingly like cinnamon, but also with a heavy undertone of ammonia; probably because it had been festering for so long before I found it. The smell wasn’t bad, but it was very powerful–like walking into the factory where they make Red Hots, or so I imagine.

I’m also happy to report it was still effective at covering up any, er, unpleasantness. Pretty impressive for a product over two decades old. Thanks to Renuzit’s late eighties scent technology, crisis was averted!

P.S. I put the can back under the sink and didn’t say a word to my grandmother. I decided this will be a fun game to play with myself whenever I visit–how long will the can of 1989 air freshener survive?

The Class of ’99 Mixtape

This week everyone in The League is making a high school mixtape! We were asked, “what songs were forever being looped on your car’s stereo back in high school?” Thankfully Brian, our fearless leader, had the good sense to put a limit of 12 songs on it, otherwise this post could have easily turned into a black hole of every embarrassing music phase I ever went through in high school, in which you’d hear all about my short-lived ICP fandom (yes, in 10th grade ShezCrafti was down with the clown), my Ace of Base obsession, and every Jock Jams and MTV Party to Go album I ever owned. I will spare you that fate.

Instead, I’d like to dedicate this mixtape to my graduating class. Hope you’ve prepared for Y2K and are ready to get jiggy wit it, because in this post I’m literally going to party like it’s 1999.

But first, come with me on a little journey back in time…

ShezCrafti: The High School Years

Class of 99

Can you spot me in this group of 99′ers?

1999 was the year I graduated from Fallston High School. By senior year, I just wanted to get the hell out of high school and was doing the absolute bare minimum to slide by. It’s not that I didn’t like school, I just felt I wasn’t learning anything of real importance and I was eager for my life to start. I was also supremely lazy and often went to school in pajamas and flip-flops. I think I cleaned up pretty well for my senior yearbook picture, though:

Senior Photo

And this was my senior quote:

“A toll is a toll. And a roll is a roll. If we don’t get no tolls, then we don’t eat no rolls.”

As you can see, I took my future very seriously.

Speaking of the future…

Cassette tapes were already long-since obsolete and pretty unpopular in 1999, thanks to CDs and the relatively new (at the time) MP3 format.  I, however, drove a red 1991 Plymouth Laser, a hand-me-down from my mom, which only had a cassette player.

If I wanted to play CDs in my car, I had to give shotgun to my Sony Discman and hook it up to my car stereo with one of these things:

Cassette Car Adapter

So uncool. Not to mention the discs would skip unless I drove like a grandma and obeyed all posted speed limits (yeah right). So despite the advancements in technology toward the end of the last millennium, I was still rocking mixtapes on my car stereo in 1999. LIKE A BOSS.

The Class of ’99 Mixtape

As one of the youngest members of The League, the music on my mixtape will probably be the most current. My process for putting this together was a bit like graduation itself: bittersweet. From my worry-free days of napping in art class and underage drinking, to the more  serious milestones like prom and Senior trip when it began to sink in that it was all coming to an end, there are songs that remind me of the good times, there are songs that remind me of the better times, to borrow a few lyrics from Chumbawumba.

When I look back at my high school days, particularly the year I graduated, these are the tunes that stand out the most:

Side A:

1999 Mixtape - Side A

 “1999″ – Prince

In 1999 you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing this song, especially if you were a Senior at my high school. Naturally it was the de facto theme song for pretty much every Class of ’99 related event. It’s as if Prince future-proofed his own music when he penned this song in 1983. “They’ll forget all about this album for a few years,” I imagine The Purple One saying to his posse, “but just you wait until the year 1999 rolls around and it will rule the airwaves again eheeheeheeheeheehee!”

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

“Intergalactic” – The Beastie Boys

I couldn’t very well make a personal mixtape about my high school days without paying homage to The Beastie Boys, to whom I owe this blog’s namesake. They’re one of my favorite groups, and when Hello Nasty dropped in 1998 it completely rocked my world. I remember hearing “Intergalactic” at every major school sporting event, at every dance, blasting out of everyone’s cars on the way home from school, but most of all, blaring from the ghetto blaster in my bedroom.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qORYO0atB6g

“…Baby One More Time” – Britney Spears

My life has had a lot of strange parallels with Britney’s. We were both born in 1981, we both have (natural) brown hair and brown eyes, we both got married in 2004, we both filed for divorce in 2006, and are both international superstars–oh wait. When this song–Britney’s first #1 single–came out in 1999 it was HUGE, and I’m not ashamed to admit I played the shit out of it.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-u5WLJ9Yk4

“Too Close” – Next

If there was ever a song I would call “my jam,” this is it. This is the song that made all the teachers and chaperons uncomfortable at our school dances. I can’t really blame them with lyrics like, “I wonder if she can tell I’m hard right now?” It is the ultimate sexed-up, slow-grindin’ dirty dancing song. Whoever danced with me to this song was probably going to get some that night.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kwEZRPkAAu8

“What is Love?” – Haddaway

Though recorded in 1993, thanks to those damn SNL skits and The Night at the Roxbury, this was another song that was EVERYWHERE in my junior and senior days of high school. And just like Austin Powers, everyone thought it was hilarious to imitate these guys at every opportunity. (It wasn’t.) I do love the song, though.

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

“Semi-Charmed Life” – Third Eye Blind

I’m closing out Side A with an upbeat tune that was one of the most popular songs of the 90′s and also featured prominently at the end of American Pie, the definitive high school movie of my generation, which also happens to be about the Class of ’99. The song may be about drugs, but the chorus is vague and relatable enough to have turned this song into the “good times” anthem that it was. “I want something else, to get me through this semi-charmed kinda life, baby.” Don’t we all?

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oc_gXYOuNL4

Side B:

1999 Mixtape - Side B

“It’s All Been Done” – Barenaked Ladies

A humbling song that reminds us no matter what we do and how amazing, genius or awesome we think we are for doing it, someone else has done it before. Perfect life advice for the Class of ’99.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zs3xXlXSOKk

“The Verve” – Bittersweet Symphony

Speaking of life advice…here’s some from The Verve, whose career, like my high school days, didn’t last very long:

Cause it’s a bittersweet symphony, this life
Try to make ends meet
Try to find some money then you die

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lyu1KKwC74

After this one major hit, the band broke up in 1999.

“With or Without You” – U2

This was our Senior prom theme, and every time I hear it I’m transported right back to that night. The song is a pretty heavy one about the pain of loving someone so much you can’t live with or without them…or something. Either way, it didn’t really apply to my boyfriend at the time, but we still had an amazing time at prom.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XmSdTa9kaiQ

“Changes” – 2Pac

As a big 2Pac fan in the 90s, the rapper’s “death” was one of the first celebrity deaths that really affected me. (I put it in quotes because whether you’re a believer or not, it’s fun to perpetuate the 2Pac is still alive rumors, which is by far my favorite conspiracy theory.) Anyway, the remix of his song “Changes” was released at the start of my senior year and it’s like a perfect time capsule of all the world’s problems at the time. If only 2Pac were “alive” today, he’d have lived to see the first black president of the United States, an unrealistic possibility he raps about in the song.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXvBjCO19QY

“Graduation (Friends Forever)” – Vitamin C

Destined to become a graduation anthem for years to come, Vitamin C unleashed this cryfest of a song on the world in 1999. It was the soundtrack to countless photo memory slideshows and yearbook signings during my senior year.

Funfact: Vitamin C, whose real name is Coleen Fitzpatrick, plays the role of megabitch Amber, opposite Ricki Lake in John Waters’ cult classic, Hairspray.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8trQAQRSlds

“Good Riddance” – Greenday

This song came out toward the end of 1997 and seemed to mirror a lot of the things I was feeling at the time. It perfectly captures the uncertainty and anxiety we all feel when our lives are at a major turning point, not knowing what lay ahead and hoping we’ve made the right choices.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CnQ8N1KacJc

What did my fellow Leaguers listen to in high school?

Wondering what this is all about? This week’s assignment from The League of Extraordinary Bloggers was to create a 12-song mixtape from the music we listened to in high school.

Flashlights Are Something to Eat still had one of his old mixtapes laying around!
Goodwill Hunting 4 Geeks had well-rounded musical tastes in high school.
Cool and Collected makes me jealous that hair bands weren’t cool anymore by the time I got to high school.
Cavalcade of Awesome shares my love of rap and hip-hop.