Friday, January 30, 2009

Star Wars Tribute

Star Wars according to a 3 year old

Star Wars: Retold (by someone who hasn't seen it)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Friday, January 23, 2009

1980s Redux

The Big Boo over at Child of the 1980s has shared some disturbing news, which I had not yet realized.  It turns out that Madballs are making a comeback.  Their official website shows the full lineup, which is a reworking of the classic 80s Madballs.  They've even added a Madballs 'Sick Series' in which you squeeze the balls to watch brains or mucous or other goo come oozing out of the Madballs' heads.

Now, in theory, I'm in favour of this.  I believe in warping our childrens' minds with the same kinds of popular culture that we were warped with.  But there is a part of me that groans when more 80s nostalgia starts turning into 'nowstalgia'.  Look at all the reworkings, revisionings and rebootings of 80s films, sitcoms, cartoons and pop culture that keep coming out every year.  Can no one come up with anything new?

I understand what's going on here.  People like Tobey Maguire, raised (if not born) in the 1980s, are coming into their own now.  They suddenly have all kinds of money and Hollywood clout, and when Maguire decides he wants to make a live-action version of the anime series Robotech, there's no reason why he shouldn't.  On one level, it's homage.  On another level, it's just taking what someone else was creative enough to come up with, remarketing it for a new generation, and getting all the credit.

The question I can't overlook is this:  What does this say about our society?  Does this mean that North American art and culture reached its perfection in the 1980s, and that everything else is a pale imitation?  Or does it mean that in the 21st century, we're so creatively bankrupt that we're left raiding our own childhoods just so we can make movies, toys and TV?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Top Five Songs of the 1980s: 1981

From the Billboard Hot 100, here were the top five songs for 1981:

5. Rick Springfield / Jessie's Girl / from Working Class Dog

4. John Lennon / (Just Like) Starting Over / from Double Fantasy

3. Kenny Rogers / Lady

2. Diana Ross & Lionel Richie / Endless Love / from Why Do Fools Fall in Love

1. Kim Carnes / Bette Davis Eyes / from Mistaken Identity

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Computer Critters 3 / Mr Belvedere / Prostars

Get organized, Dad! With a database management system! Use it to organize your tapes, recipes and flowers, but just try not to think about how a rabbit and a squirrel can give birth to a raccoon...

I should want to shake hands with Mr. Belvedere. I shouldn't want to grab a lock of his hair.
I should want to cook him a simple meal, but I shouldn't want to cut into him, to tear the flesh, to wear the flesh, to be born unto new worlds where his flesh becomes my key.
I should want to say hi to him nicely, I shouldn't want to keep him in a big jar in my basement... because... his breath would fog up the glass and I wouldn't be able to see him...

'Prostars. It's all about helping kids.' That, and the fact that we don't seem to have saved our money. Someone please help these struggling athletes! Watch their cartoon show!

Or, just buy their cereal!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Down here, it's our time.

It's our time down here.
That's all over the second we ride up Troy's bucket.

Top Five Songs of the 1980s: 1980

From the Billboard Hot 100, here were the top five songs for 1980:

5. Captain & Tenille / Do That to Me One More Time / from Make Your Move

4. Michael Jackson / Rock with You / from Off the Wall

3. Olivia Newton-John / Magic / from Xanadu [Original Soundtrack]

2. Pink Floyd / Another Brick in the Wall / from Delicate Sound of Thunder

1. Blondie / Call Me / from American Gigolo [Original Soundtrack]

Monday, January 19, 2009

Raised in the 80s Trivia Quiz 1 Answers

  1. What was the name of Uncle Jesse's band on Full House?
    Jesse and the Rippers [Yeah, they were badasses.]
  2. What was the band Europe's biggest hit in the US?
    The Final Countdown [Which is currently my ringtone.]
  3. What did Frankie say?
    Relax [Just check the T-shirt.]
  4. What's the name of Cap'n Crunch's ship?
    S.S. Guppy [The original Cap'n lapsed into a diabetic coma in 1994, leading to the swift promotion of Commander Crunch to fill his place. You can tell by the different eyebrows.]
  5. What 1984 film was the first to be rated PG-13?
    Red Dawn. [The Soviet Union and its Central American allies invade the US! Chilling.]
  6. Before 'Straight Up' or American Idol, what basketball team was Paula Abdul a cheerleader for?
    The LA Lakers
  7. In what year was the Koosh ball first released?
    1987 [The Koosh was so named because that's the noise it made when it landed]
  8. What was the name of Mr. T's character in Rocky III?
    Clubber Lang [It was also from this film that the phrase 'I pity the fool' comes.]
  9. Who is the villain in the 1986 film ¡Three Amigos!?
    El Guapo [played by Alfonso Arau]
  10. What animal has the scientific name Artema Nyos?
    Sea monkeys [also the only animal to be patented!]
  11. What game's name is derived from the Swahili word for 'to build'?
    Jenga [J-J-J-Jenga!]
  12. What was B.A. Baracus's main fear?
  13. What fruit is the bonus on the first level of Pac-Man?
    Cherries [Then strawberry, orange, bell, apple, grapes, and some other stuff I could never identify]
  14. Who 'built this city on rock 'n' roll'?
  15. Which Bruce Springsteen video did Courtney Cox appear in?
    Dancing in the Dark

Friday, January 16, 2009

Raised in the 80s Trivia Quiz 1

How well do you remember the 80s? How much of this sounds familiar? How many of these questions can you answer without Google or Wikipedia? Answers in three days...

1. What was the name of Uncle Jesse's band on Full House?
2. What was the band Europe's biggest hit in the US?
3. What did Frankie say?
4. What's the name of Cap'n Crunch's ship?
5. What 1984 film was the first to be rated PG-13?
6. Before 'Straight Up' or American Idol, what basketball team was Paula Abdul a cheerleader for?
7. In what year was the Koosh ball first released?
8. What was the name of Mr. T's character in Rocky III?
9. Who is the villain in the 1986 film The Three Amigos?
10. What animal has the scientific name Artema Nyos?
11. What game's name is derived from the Swahili word for 'to build'?
12. What was B.A. Baracus's main fear?
13. What fruit is the bonus on the first level of Pac-Man?
14. Who 'built this city on rock 'n' roll'?
15. Which Bruce Springsteen video did Courtney Cox appear in?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Rise and Fall (and Return) of the Blue Smartie

[As an editorial note: Different candies go by different names. To the US readers: I'm not talking about what you call Smarties -- those sugary pill-shaped candies in a plastic roll. In Canada, those are called Rockets. To the UK readers: Our Smarties are pretty much the same as yours -- originally made by Rowntree, now Nestle, but to the best of my knowledge, our light brown Smarties were never coffee-flavoured, nor were the orange ones orangey.]

Something has been troubling me for a while. If you grew up eating Smarties in Canada, you probably remember the 'Do you eat the red ones last?' ad campaign. If you do, can you remember when blue smarties were first introduced? The ads showed kids using some kind of contraption to trap bits of the sky and turn them into blue smarties. They were advertised 'for a limited time only' since presumably there was only so much sky to go around.

But then disaster struck! Instead of running out of sky, Rowntree had to stop selling blue smarties because someone had stolen them all! And for a while there was a whole mystery promotion where you were supposed to examine clues (or whatever) and send in your guess as to which of the other colours of smarties was the criminal. I never did find out who it was from the official sources. However, someone once told me that it was the red one, who was used to getting all the attention, and was jealous. Once the crime was solved, the blue smarties were returned to the package, and the light brown ones were removed (presumably because they took the fall for the kidnapping and ransom attempt).

The thing that keeps bugging me is this: how can they keep making blue smarties? Did they manage to clear up that 'only enough sky for a limited time' problem? And was that why we had that problem with the hole in the ozone layer in the 90s? We like to blame the oil companies and the nuclear power plants for wrecking the planet, but I think we know the truth. It was the candy companies all along! Who knows what other fiendish schemes they pulled off?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Computer Critters 2 / Transformers / My Two Dads / Madballs

'We're the computer generation!' Unfortunately, Raised in the 80s is not necessarily compatible with your special screens that are sensitive to your touch. The light pen might not work either. But feel free to use your mouse.

Special treat! A whole episode of our cartoon of the week. I wound up watching a lot of these original episodes after the fact, because when they first ran, I could never figure out what time Transformers came on. We saw a lot of the second generation Transformers, though. So sit back, cast your minds back to the days before it was a feature-length, live-action movie, and before it was 'Transformers Animated', back when it was just an animated series called 'Transformers'.

I'm not going to comment on how ridiculous the premises for sitcoms were in the 1980s. All I'm going to say is that judges seemed to have an inordinate amount of power back then!

That's another thing to capture our imagination in the 80s: gross things. My brother could be happily entertained for hours at a time drawing Madballs. Gross for one, gross for all!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

OMG! Who *doesn't* want this?!

When we were kids, what we wanted more than anything else was a lightsaber, and it was one of the few things that George Lucas wasn't licensing as an official Star Wars toy, so we had to make do with swinging flashlights at each other and making our own lightsaber noises.

By the time anyone actually made an official lightsaber toy, it was time for the Star Wars prequels, and we were ony really able to play with one when visiting friends with kids, or else we'd look like the worst kind of geeks.

But look at what you can get now! A new toy called the Force Trainer that lets you move a ping pong ball with your mind! As I understand it, the headset lets you control something in the clear plastic tower by means of some kind of simplified EEG. There must be some kind of fan that actually raises and lowers the ball, but you control the fan speed by controlling your brainwaves!

The toy is expected to cost $90 to $100, so I wouldn't expect the highest quality EEG, but just think about the implications of this! Imagine if we could train a whole generation of kids to sit down and shut the hell up while they tried to concentrate on moving a ping pong ball. Imagine what could happen when people start hacking and modding the thing and using their brain waves to do other things, like turning on the TV or turning off the lights! If you thought that the Wii was a big deal, wait until it's rendered obsolete by a new generation of thought-controlled video games!

The Force Trainer (via USA Today)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Raised in the 80s Status updates

(04/12/07 12:14) Jonathan is knee-deep in the regular pre-Christmas hoopla.

(18/04/08 07:10) Jonathan is thinking about Mr. Dressup. As if it wasn't bad enough that he made Casey live in a treehouse, how did the *dog* get up the tree?

(21/04/08 19:21)
Jonathan is thinking about the Friendly Giant this time. If that's how big the chairs were, doesn't that make a big-ass rooster?!

(12/08/08 13:41)
Jonathan is watching the detectives... no, wait, they're movers... :).

(22/09/08 10:45)
Jonathan is revisiting songs of the 'Radical 80s'.

(29/09/08 19:31)
Jonathan honestly wishes he could remember what New Coke tasted like.

(15/10/08 20:38)
Jonathan is trying to remember the name of that song. You know, the one that goes HMMM hmm hmm... HMMM hmm hmmm... Any ideas? [It was 'Don't Worry, Be Happy']

(12/12/08 18:56)
Jonathan did most of it for the Glory of Love. He didn't do it all, but he did do most of it.

(20/12/08 12:18)
Jonathan thought they smelled bad on the *outside*!

(10/01/09 23:17) Jonathan says 'Down here, it's *our* time.'

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Newly-discovered Psalm Fragment

This is not really the kind of thing that I'd normally intend to post on Raised in the 80s, but it caught my attention as something truly fascinating.

Scholars have found amongst the fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls, one of their most controversial texts. Most Bibles follow the Hebrew text of the Old Testament, which contains 150 psalms, but some have more. The Greek Old Testament has 151 Psalms, but some Syrian Bibles have up to 155!

Raised in the 80s might be one of the first non-scholarly sources to be able to cite the most recently discovered, 156th Psalm. It has been painstakingly reconstructed from microscopic fragments using state-of-the-art computer technology. I'll have to let the experts do more in-depth work to determine age, but every indication is that this portion is from just after the Genesis era. The text is as follows:
I can feel it / coming in the air tonight, O Lord;
I've been waiting for this moment / for all my life, O Lord.
Can you feel it / coming in the air tonight, O Lord;
O Lord . . . [the rest is lost]

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Computer Critters / Gummi Bears / ALF / Frosted Flakes

Computers are coming your way!
For paying bills?
Mothers too?
Sad to say, I know some people who all these years later, still react like Foxworthy...
But it's true! Once upon a time, computers really were everywhere!

Did anyone ever try to sell us a super-sugary 'Gummi-berry juice' that would make us this hyper and bouncy? I remember riding bikes, heading off on some kind of adventure, and singing this theme song at the top of our lungs.

I've met more than my fair share of people who were confused about what Alf was supposed to be. In the very first episode, Willie makes it perfectly clear: 'It's an ALF -- Alien Life Form.' And yet I've known a lot of people who were convinced that he's some kind of a dog. Sad to say, what most people don't remember is that the military catches ALF in the end, and the Tanners all abandon him in a field!

1. Eat this cereal
2. See a giant talking tiger
3. Suddenly, you're good at sports!
4. Try not to think about what they're frosted with
5. Winners don't do drugs

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Moral of TRON

We watched TRON last night.  It was an eye-opener for me, since I probably hadn't seen it in at least twenty years.  I remember watching it as a kid and being amazed by this new thing called computer graphics, but I also remember not being able to follow the plot at all.  I was, after all, only a kid.

Looking at it in retrospect, it seems to me that the moral of TRON is this:  everything you love now will one day seem campy and cheesy.  This goes for films, tv, commercials and video games.  I can't help feeling that ten to fifteen years from now, my daughter will look back at films like the Matrix and be astounded that in my day, people were so easily impressed.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

80s-Raised Actor Makes Good

Cheers to Matt Smith, born 1982, who was recently announced the youngest actor to play the Doctor in the 45 years of the BBC's Doctor Who.

Smith, 26, beat out bigger-name actors and the rumour of the first *female* doctor (in the person of Catherine Zeta-Jones) to be named the 11th Doctor.

Those of us raised in the 80s are slowly but surely taking over. Smith takes on the role in October 2010.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Five Valuable Life Lessons from The Karate Kid

5. Oscar nods are not just for Ron Howard anymore.
Noriyuki 'Pat' Morita was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as Mr. Miyagi. That's great, but... he also played Arnold, the original owner of Arnold's Drive-in on Happy Days. I can't help feeling that for some people, this would be like watching Bob Saget get nominated for an Academy Award. Some reputations you just can't shake.

4. That strange old handyman in your apartment building would be a good role model for your troubled teen.
It all works out fine in the end, and Mr. Miyagi is something of a father figure, friend and mentor to Daniel-san, but this movie could have taken a decidedly more sinister turn. I'm sure that the 21st-century remake won't have quite as much immediate trust of strangers in it.

3. You can take as much time off school as you like if you're learning karate, or just doing some chores for your apartment's handyman.
I needed my wife to clue me in on this one. At one point, Daniel spends at least four whole days sanding the deck, painting the fence, then painting the house, then going fishing with Mr. Miyagi. Did no one from the school ever check in with his mother to find out what was going on? Was he on a Thanksgiving break and just too busy to spend time with his mother?

2. If you manage to kick him in the face, humiliating him in front of his sensei, the school bully will finally respect you.
Johnny and the Cobra Kai were a bunch of badasses on dirtbikes. After getting knocked down by Daniel at the end of the tournament, he grabs the trophy from the officials to give it to Daniel, saying 'You're all right, LaRusso.' Has anything really changed, except that Daniel managed to beat him? And now he's worthy of Johnny's respect?!

1. When you stand on one leg, you're invincible. Your opponent won't, for instance, take out your other, *good* leg.
This is really just ridiculous. 'If do properly... no can defense...' unless your opponent realizes that you're just standing on one leg! This is every bit as bad as when Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker used to swing around in a big circle while fighting Darth Vader. Sure, you look really cool, but you're leaving your back exposed! Am I the only one who sees the problem here?