Freedom Rock
Aug26

Freedom Rock

Television shows of the late 70s/early 80s were slightly obsessed with the past. Think Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley. These were shows we could all watch together as a family about sock-hops, make-out points, and water skiing over sharks – stuff everybody did back then, right? That nostalgic obsession extended to our everyday culture in the 80s as well. I remember 50s dress up day in school (poodle skirts!) and the return of the black and white saddle oxford as the hip shoe for a season around 1983/4. Grease was most definitely the word. To capture our nostalgic obsessions, there was one commercial that ran on what seemed to be a never ending loop back in the 1980s. However, this ad took us back to a different part of the 60s and 70s, a time of hippies, free love, and sitting in chairs outside the van that you call home. Yes, this was Freedom Rock! If you owned a television and spent any amount of time in front of it, you could not escape these two cool, mellow dudes. Here are a few things I learned from this commercial about guys from the 60s: They enjoy sitting outside a van reminiscing about “the good old days” – war, protests, and going to jail are included in their description of the good old days. Fun! They refer to each other as “man” in every single exchange they have: Hippie #1: Hey man, is that Freedom Rock? Hippie #2: Yeah, man. Hippie #1: Well, TURN IT UP man! They enjoy a good deal; 4 records (records!) or 3 cassettes, only $19.95! Two CD’s only $24.95! Freedom Rock was actually a pretty decent compilation of rock music from back in the day; it included The Allman Brothers, Three Dog Night and Jefferson Airplane. Heck, the commercial opened with the guitar riff from “Layla” so you knew it had to be halfway decent. “Horse With No Name” by America, “Me And You And A Dog Named Boo” by Lobo (Lobo? Yes, Lobo!), and the obligatory “Turn, Turn, Turn” by The Byrds also make an appearance.   There are certain commercials from your childhood that you’ll never forget, and Freedom Rock is definitely one of them. Anyone else tempted to dial that 800 number hoping one of those righteous dudes is on the other end? Well, don’t bother–I just tried. Neither of them answered telling me to “TURN IT UP, MAN.” To those obvious Cheech and Chong rip offs, beloved Hippie #1 who talks with his hands like he’s holding an invisible loaf of bread and Hippie #2 with his crazy shirt and...

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Happy Birthday, John Stamos!
Aug19

Happy Birthday, John Stamos!

There are a handful of ‘80s celebrities who look just as good today, maybe even better, as they did back in the day. Think Rob Lowe, Robert Downey Jr., or maybe this guy, who happens to be celebrating his 52nd birthday today (August 19): John Stamos. 52 never looked so good. It’s hard to do a then-and-now piece on this guy because John Stamos never went off the radar (and for that I am pretty grateful.) He’s of course best known as the coolest uncle ever, playing super-foxy Jesse Katsopolis on the smash hit sitcom Full House from 1987 to 1995 (yes, it ran that long.)  But my favorite John Stamos character looked like this (below).  Who else longingly remembers General Hospital’s Blackie Parrish? Honestly, Blackie was the reason I rushed home from school every day. I had to be home by 3:00; I didn’t have time to hang out on the playground or do homework–John Stamos was on television. After Full House John Stamos remained a welcome, handsome, talented, and funny presence on the small screen, appearing on ER, Friends and Jake in Progress. Currently, he is using his Greek heritage/sex appeal to sell some yogurt.  Yes, ok, it works.  I’ll buy the yogurt.  Kudos to the Oikos marketing department for having a laser sharp read on their target market. An accomplished musician (as you may know from Full House, Jesse and the Rippers anyone?) John has released albums, performed on stage with The Beach Boys and starred on Broadway in shows such as Bye Bye Birdie, Cabaret, and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. And now, everywhere you look, there is the big news of Fuller House, which will soon run on Netflix, addressing our unanswered questions as to the lives of Danny, Joey, DJ, Michelle, Stephanie and most importantly… Jesse. Is he still performing with The Rippers? Did he and Rebecca create more twins with Buster Brown inspired haircuts? Are they all still living in that house together?!? If you ask the question is he still a total fox, I know the answer to that one already. Those eyes. That talent. That mullet. Happy Birthday, John...

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We Got the Beat – Teen Beat and Tiger Beat Magazines
Aug17

We Got the Beat – Teen Beat and Tiger Beat Magazines

I’ve always been big on magazines. I love lip gloss magazines like Glamour and Cosmo, magazines with photos of beautiful food I will never make or eat like Gourmet and Food & Wine, and magazines that keep me up to date on all the important news of the day like US Weekly or In Touch (don’t judge: they pass the time nicely while getting my hair done.) As a teenager, I loved my Sassy and Seventeen magazines, of course. But as a pre-teen in the 80s, these were my periodicals of choice: Teen Beat and Tiger Beat had everything a 12-16 year old girl could ask for: fascinating, in-depth articles about rock stars, television stars, and movie stars. Wait; who am I kidding? Tiger Beat and Teen Beat had glorious pictures. And posters. And centerfolds like this. And this. And what about this?! Looking back now, I wonder if my parents knew what exactly was going on in the pages of these teen-themed mags? Because . . . wow, right? If you needed information on what foxy Michael J. Fox was up to, or wanted some exclusive pics of Ralph Macchio on set, or perhaps needed to know what a day in the life of THE COREYS was like, then you absolutely needed these magazines!!! Tiger Beat and Teen Beat have been around forever, published since the mid-60s reporting important news on teen fashions, teen gossip and the hottest teen heartthrobs. I recall during the late 70s having a nice Eric Estrada poster as his character Ponch from the television show CHiPs on my bedroom wall alongside Shaun Cassidy and Leif Garrett, courtesy of Teen/Tiger Beat. Tiger Beat is still around today! Reporting on One Direction, Taylor Swift and naturally, The Biebs. I gotta wonder if today’s teen stars are as shirtless within the pages of the magazine today. Do you think? I mean seriously, can you fathom that guy from the Twilight movies or one of those Jonas Brothers looking as good as this? I for one cannot. So, thank you 80s teen magazines once again for the fascinating articles, the relevant information, and the abundance of David Lee Roth. Yeah . . . mostly thanks for the David Lee...

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Vacation: Two Enthusiastic Thumbs Up
Jul29

Vacation: Two Enthusiastic Thumbs Up

I’ve spent the last week leading up to today’s release of the new Vacation reading critics’ reviews. Most have been less than kind, suggesting the new iteration tries too hard and fails to live up to the greatness that was the 1983 original. Sure, the original was written by John Hughes and directed by Harold Ramis, a combination hard to beat. Throw in Chevy Chase at his best, an amazing supporting cast, a dead Aunt, dog pee-saturated sandwiches, and quality incest jokes, and it really was a magic comedic brew.  Does that mean that it occupies a sacrosanct place in our film culture and shouldn’t or couldn’t ever be replicated successfully? Technically the 2015 Vacation is a continuation of the story and not a re-make.  We follow the now 40-something Rusty and his family on their vacation to Walley World, Griswold-style.  Early in the film, the family refers to Rusty’s trip to Walley World as a kid, and they have a wink-at-the-audience dialogue about how this new ‘vacation’ (see what they did there?) will be new and different and stand as a vacation in its own right.  I have watched so many of my favorite 80s movies and TV shows re-imagined in the last ten years that it’s hard to keep up. In most cases, the new versions fail to excite or interest. Not so with this new chapter in the Griswold legacy.   I thoroughly enjoyed it, laughed out loud throughout, and thought it was beautifully cast. It manages to balance elements from the original (Lindsey Buckingham’s ‘Holiday Road’, the family truckster, a red Ferrari/hot girl flirtation scene, a verbal tirade when the going gets tough, and of course Walley World) with a new story and new characters (Chris Hemsworth, I’m looking at you – man am I ever looking at you) in a way that was well executed and a ton of fun. Ed Helms and Christina Applegate are perfect as Rusty and Debbie Griswold. Their sons are funny and have an interesting, if somewhat reversed, dynamic. The weakest part for me was, ironically, the short stop they make at their parents’ house where we get a few minutes of time with Grandpa Clark and Grandma Ellen. That whole section of the movie (which was happily short) just wasn’t funny. It left you feeling just a little sorry for Chevy Chase somehow. Even so, the movie offers up plenty of language, physical humor, quirky characters, road rage, throw up, and Seal to satisfy even the pickiest of purists. You will not regret this latest adventure with the Griswolds. We give it two enthusiastic thumbs up, like...

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Musical What-Ifs, Back to the Future Style
Jul28

Musical What-Ifs, Back to the Future Style

Before there was the Butterfly Effect, there was the McFly Effect. The Back to the Future trilogy is essentially a dissertation on chaos theory, on the ways that tinkering with the past can affect the future. Plow into one of Mr. Peabody’s trees in 1955? The Twin Pines Mall becomes the Lone Pine Mall in 1985. Interfere with your parents initial meeting? You could be erased from existence. Now, let’s get meta for a moment and consider the making of the movies themselves. For example, everyone knows that Eric Stoltz was originally cast as Marty McFly, but after five weeks of filming, the powers-at-be replaced him with Michael J. Fox. (Poor, poor Eric Stoltz . . .) And one of the consequences of this change is that they also had to re-cast Marty’s girlfriend: Melora Hardin was all set to go as Jennifer Parker, but she got replaced when she was deemed too tall for Michael J. Fox. But here’s the thing: what if they don’t bring in Michael J. Fox, and they stick with Eric Stoltz? Does that mean they also keep Melora Hardin? If so, we’d have a Back to the Future that ends with the heroin dealer from Pulp Fiction and Jan Levinson from The Office zooming off into 2015. And here’s another “what if?” related to the Jennifer Parker character: actress Claudia Wells played Jennifer in the first BttF film but ended up bowing out of the two sequels in order to take care of her mother, who had been diagnosed with cancer; Wells was replaced with Elizabeth Shue. What if Wells doesn’t leave the franchise? Does she end up having Elisabeth Shue’s career? Does Claudia Wells get an Academy Award nomination for Leaving Las Vegas? As you mull over those conundrums, here are three musical “What if–?” scenarios, all having to do the original Back to the Future (which debuted in the summer of 1985, thirty years ago): What if . . . things worked out differently between Huey Lewis and Ghostbusters? A 2004 Premiere Magazine article, commemorating the 20th anniversary of Ghostbusters, offers up the news about Huey Lewis: the producers of Ghostbusters originally went to Huey to record a song, but for whatever reason, he declined. But director Ivan Reitman was a big Huey fan, so he used “I Want a New Drug” as a “temp track” for certain scenes. (Note: a “temp track” is essentially an audio rough draft, something directors use to give music composer a sense of what they’re looking for.) And so, when the producers hired Ray Parker Jr., they showed him scenes that still featured “New Drug”...

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‘Can’t Buy Me Love’s’ Amanda Peterson Dies at 43
Jul06

‘Can’t Buy Me Love’s’ Amanda Peterson Dies at 43

The star of one of the great movies of the 1980s, Can’t Buy Me Love, has passed away at just 43 years old. Amanda Peterson was found dead in her home on Sunday; her cause of death is not yet known at this time. Her father told TMZ that she suffered from sleep apnea, which may have contributed to her death. Peterson also starred opposite Ethan Hawke in Explorers and was on several television shows including Doogie Howser, MD and A Year in the Life. But it was her role as the pretty, popular cheerleader Cindy Mancini opposite a young Patrick Dempsey in the 1987 hit film Can’t Buy Me Love for which she is best known. Patrick Dempsey played a nerd named Ronald Miller, who was desperate to break into the cool clique in high school. That’s accomplished when he offers Peterson’s character one thousand dollars, money she desperately to replace an outfit that she had unknowingly borrowed from her mother and subsequently ruined. The movie is funny, heartbreaking and sweet, as Ronald does indeed become popular. Things are really good for a while, then things get really bad when he lets his overnight popularity go to his head and Cindy reveals that she had been “bought” by Ronald. In the end, all is made right again in the final scene of the movie when Ronald and Cindy ride off on a lawnmower into the sunset. The film’s popularity in theaters, on cable and on VHS was mostly due to Peterson and Dempsey’s natural chemistry.  A talented actress, Peterson was able to portray the popular cheerleader girl with a vulnerability that few young actresses could pull off. She was a true ‘80s beauty with those beachy blonde waves, freckled nose and a smile that was captivating. Gone far too...

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My Favorite Vacation – European Vacation
Jun23

My Favorite Vacation – European Vacation

Now don’t get mad at me right off the bat; the original Vacation movie starring Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Anthony Michael Hall and Dana Barron as the Griswold family is great. Fantastic. Amazing. Super funny. But, if you asked me which was my favorite of the National Lampoon Vacation series (besides the classic Christmas Vacation, which I put in its own category under favorite-holiday-movies-movies-with-Randy-Quaid-as-Cousin-Eddie-brilliance in them) I would say 1985’s European Vacation directed by the great Amy Heckerling. European Vacation still starred Chevy and Beverly as Clark and Ellen, and brought in a new Rusty and Audrey (after Anthony Michael Hall decided to do Weird Science instead, the producers recast the kids) played by Jason Lively (Blake’s older brother) and Dana Hill. This much-maligned contribution to the Vacation series just hasn’t gotten its props over the years. The opening scene features the Griswold family on a game show called “Pig in a Poke” where they mistakenly win the grand prize: you guessed it, a European vacation. The teenage kids naturally have no desire to see the sights of Europe with their folks; Audrey desperately does not want to leave her boyfriend Jack (80s movies institution William Zabka) with whom she constantly makes out, and Rusty just thinks looking at a bunch of old buildings sounds pretty boring. Our hero, Clark W. Griswold, the most lovable, annoying, bumbling movie dad there ever was announces that the entire family is going: this exchange pretty much sums up the rest of the film: Ellen: “Clark, why don’t we just forget the “Pig-in-a-Poke” itinerary, and just play it by ear, like normal people?” Clark: “Honey, we’re not normal people. We’re the Griswolds.” And off we go . . . In typical Griswold fashion, both Clark and Ellen have fantasies of the amazing time they’re about to have while sleeping on the flight over. Clark dreams up a hilarious Sound of Music spoof with his loving family while Ellen dreams of meeting the royal family complete with Princess Di having a huge crush on her husband who has to fight off her advances. But it’s always Rusty and Audrey’s European dreams that still make me laugh out loud as I watch it for the zillionth time on AMERICAN MOVIE CLASSICS (yes!) Audrey has a nightmare of plates and platters of heavy, delectable food and pastries being brought to her by restoration period looking wait staff. She eats and eats herself into a little frenzy until she inflates like a balloon, almost popping. I have had similar dreams/nightmares- yikes. Rusty dances awkwardly in a European nightclub with a bunch of New Wave characters to The...

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Schoolhouse Rock Rocks!
Jun15

Schoolhouse Rock Rocks!

Hello. My name is Lori, and I was raised on the glory that was television of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. I know in today’s world it is much less socially acceptable to plop your kid in front of the TV with their Apple Jacks and Tang; but I’m here today to tell the tale of Saturday mornings with Superfriends, Smurfs, and the mother of all cartoons, Schoolhouse Rock.  Mom says I learned to read by watching Sesame Street and The Electric Company, and I sure learned a lot about kindness from my neighbor Mr. Rogers. But, it was Schoolhouse Rock that taught me the Preamble to our US Constitution. This came in very handy when reciting it in front of my social studies class was a requirement in the 8th grade. Turns out, those Saturday mornings were well spent. Schoolhouse Rock featured educational shorts that were shown in between the Saturday morning cartoon line up on ABC. The original series ran from 1973 – 1985. The topics covered things like science, grammar math, and of course, civics, and were all dressed up in that late ‘70s/early ‘80s-groovy-animated-goodness. “Three is a Magic Number” was the first Schoolhouse Rock song ever written by David McCall, who set the song to rock music to try and help his son who was having trouble learning his multiplication tables. And the rest is, well…let’s say…history. I learned all about adjectives from a girl and a turtle that went on a pretty weird camping trip. A tiny train conductor told me all about “and” “but” and “or” – about conjunctions and their functions. I’m still a little unsure about those adverbs, but that “Lolly, lolly, lolly” song helps in a pinch. And the star of the show, probably the most infamous of all the Schoolhouse Rock characters, was just a bill that longed to be a law someday and ended up being just that. If a kid can learn about how bills, laws, congressmen, vetos, the Senate and the President are involved in the steps it takes to for a bill to become a law from a singing cartoon scrap of paper, I’d say that’s a pretty successful series. Between Plastic Man and Scooby and Scrappy Doo (ugh, Scrappy…), these three minute gems snuck their way into my brain and have remained there through adulthood. Because knowledge is power! Thank you Schoolhouse Rock for being one of the best teachers I ever had. I can still recite the Preamble, but I’ll have to sing it to you if that’s ok....

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We Got the Colgate Pump!
May27

We Got the Colgate Pump!

Are you ready for your mid-week 80s earworm? No, it’s not a song that spent ten weeks at number one on American Top 40 or the theme song to The Facts of Life. It’s a commercial you probably thought you’d forgotten (watch below). But now that you hear it, you totally didn’t forget it – am I right?!? I came across this little nugget around two weeks back and it’s still going through my head on a loop.  While it didn’t chart in the US, the song used in the commercial was a hit in the UK in 1980 where it spent 20 weeks in the charts, topping out at #3.  The insanely catchy tune is the song ‘Baggy Trousers’ by Madness off their 1980 album, Absolutely (check out the original Madness song and video at the end of the story). I know. I’m sorry. I thought that maybe by sharing the Colgate Pump love it may leap from my noggin into yours. But you gotta admit, this ad for kid’s toothpaste was pretty damn catchy. Like a mini MTV music video: kids in little spy outfits, lots of sunglasses, bowties, a pint-sized Uncle Sam, jungle-themed toothbrushes, bright colors, and English accents (real? fake? I’m not sure). All this is happening while an insanely catchy tune plays and silhouettes of people hand-in-hand do a very methodical crouch/stand/crouch/stand march to the music. Whew. Oh yeah, and let’s not overlook the images of that toothpaste in a pump that I had to have! Because, well, it was in a pump! Maybe Apple borrowed the bright colors and silhouette idea for their early ipod ads? Maybe? But it was the song; the song that got stuck in your head and made you crave the Colgate Pump. Standing at the grocery store with your mom how could you not robotically grab it and sing cockney style, “WE GOT THE COLGATE PUMP! WE GOT THE COLGATE PUMP! WE GOT THE COLGATE PUMP! WE GOT THE COLGATE PUMP!” An song that can still get stuck in your head 30 years later? That’s pretty good marketing, don’t you think? Here’s the original song by Madness, ‘Baggy...

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A Most Excellent Movie – Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
May25

A Most Excellent Movie – Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure

With the school year coming to an end, my mind races toward a few typical end-of-school-year events. Sure, there’s prom, senior skip day, the anticipation of summer vacation and . . . oh yeah . . . graduation. There’s also that big project you need to get done before the end of the year! That one where you need to go back in time in a phone booth, gather a bunch of historical figures to get up in front of your school in a rock star style assembly. Right? Ok, so you may not have to do that. But these guys did: Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure came out in 1989 and was a success, starring doe-eyed Alex Winter as William “Bill” S. Preston (Esquire) and Keanu Reeves as Theodore “Ted” Logan. Bill and Ted are two stereotypical metal-head teenage slackers living in the most excellent city of San Dimas, California. As the film opens they are videotaping each other, badly playing guitar, rehearsing for their band “Wyld Stallyns.” We learn that the pair are in serious danger of getting kicked out of school UNLESS (there’s always an ‘unless’ when it comes to great 80s teen buddy movies, right?) they can truly pull out all the stops and come through with a great oral history report. We also learn that if Ted fails he will be sent away to military school (naturally) and Wyld Stallyns will never go on to become the biggest rock band in the world. Cut to waaay in the future, where we meet Rufus (played by the great George Carlin) who is given instructions by very new wave looking leaders that he needs to go back in time to rescue “the great ones” (Bill and Ted) and make sure that they get an A+ on this exam. Rufus travels to the Circle K (naturally) to meet up with Bill and Ted. Rufus gives Bill and Ted instructions on how to operate the magic phone booth and they are off on their most excellent adventure, gathering a handful of great characters throughout history like Napoleon, Billy the Kid, Joan of Arc (played by Go-Go Jane Wiedlin!) and everyone’s favorite philosopher, Socrates, who they refer to as So-crates. Bill and Ted travel through time together picking up the various famous people, meet a couple of hot princesses, almost get killed, end up back in 1989 at where else, THE MALL where they cause a ton of trouble, and naturally make it back to the school auditorium at the last second to introduce each of the people they’ve collected rock star style and to give a famous speech...

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Why Summer Rental is the Quintessential 80s Summer Movie
Apr22

Why Summer Rental is the Quintessential 80s Summer Movie

We had free HBO last weekend and as usual we recorded (or “taped” as I like to say…) a bunch of movies so we’re all stocked up for a while. I’ll finally see Dallas Buyers Club, that great/weird documentary on Scientology, and the Melissa McCarthy/Sandra Bullock cop movie. As my husband and I were scrolling through the guide filling up our hungry DVR something special caught my eye. “Ooooh Summer Rental! Record Summer Rental! I love that movie!” When I was around 14, I remember going to the theatre twice to see this movie. You read that right; this movie was so awesome I paid to see it twice in the theater. Directed by Carl Reiner, this gem of an 80s movie released in the summer (August) of 1985. As we gear up for our summer, this is the perfect way to kick off the season.   Upon viewing it decades later, on a rockin’ Friday night in the comfort of our living room, let me tell you why Summer Rental is a textbook 80s summer flick. It stars John Candy. John Candy plays Jack Chester, an overworked air traffic controller who is forced to take a month-long summer vacation at the beach with his family. In the 1980s, he was in Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Spaceballs, Who’s Harry Crumb?, Uncle Buck, and a ton of other stuff. He was a naturally funny, genuine, gifted actor, and I really, really love him and his work. It co-stars Kerri Green. Kerri Green was so cute! And in so many great 80s movies: Lucas, The Goonies, and Three for the Road. I loved her and kind of wanted to be her. Main character is a loveable loser who can’t seem to do anything right. There is a villain/bad guy character. Richard Crenna plays John Candy’s mean-spirited landlord who loathes the summer renters that come and take over his home, Citrus Cove, Florida, each and every summer. Dressed like Thurston Howell the Third, his character Al Pellet has won the summer boating regatta several years in a row. He is snooty and proud of his array of trophies and high status. Bottom line: he’s a jerk. It has a fat guy belching directions. Yep. It does. Main character meets a group of pirate-misfits who agree to help him out. This group of misfits also happens to work on a boat called the “Barnacle,” and they all dress and act like pirates which makes them extra-misfit-y. And one of them is played by Rip Torn! There is a hot woman who is constantly showing her boob job off to men and asking their...

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Get on Board! The Great Space Coaster
Apr14

Get on Board! The Great Space Coaster

If you took The Muppet Show, The Electric Company, H.R. Pufnstuf, and Fraggle Rock and mixed them all together in an 80s blender, it might look a little something like this (see the video below). Do you still know all the words to that theme song? I do. The Great Space Coaster ran in syndication from 1981 through 1986. It was a children’s show featuring both puppets and people — the main character of the show was a GIANT puppet, or a man in a puppet suit? I don’t know what it was — it was a big-kind-of-freaky-clown named Baxter. Baxter drove the Space Coaster and as you saw in the opening credit, he would swing by and pick up the three people-stars of the show, Danny, Roy and Francine and take them to Coasterville. In Coasterville, the group would hang out with a talking woodpecker with a pink feather fan who tells knock-knock jokes on a loop, a robot-like elephant who enjoys gardening, and probably the most memorable news anchor gnu in history, Gary Gnu. Like The Muppet Show, The Great Space Coaster featured guest stars like Mark Hammill, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Marvin Hamlisch. Danny, Roy and Francine had a band and would perform hit songs of the day on the show – I remember a rousing rendition of ‘Flashdance (What a Feeling)’ with Francine belting her little heart out. The show often focused on issues or problems that kids would typically face. For instance, I will never get this number out of my head: ‘Yes I can.’ Predictably, ‘Yes I Can’ was all about having confidence in yourself; when you didn’t think you could do something, just say three little words . . . I also still sing this one today; football great “Mean” Joe Greene was serenaded by the entire cast glorifying him. Joe loved it, and I loved his response, “I’m not mean!” The Great Space Coaster was a great show; it was educational, but silly. It had music and puppets. It was kind of like a little variety show with all of the different cartoons, segments, songs, and endless laugh tracks. It must have done something right; sometimes, when I feel nervous about something, I still sing that “Yes I Can” song to myself in my head. That’s a good show. It’s a place where dreams fly fast and free, after all. Off we...

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Here Comes the Cadbury Bunny
Mar27

Here Comes the Cadbury Bunny

When you think back to classic commercials from the 80s I’m sure those California Raisins come to mind (and maybe those two crash test dummies warning you about wearing your seatbelt). Or, maybe you think of McGruff the Crime Dog telling you to “take a bite out of crime.” And isn’t it great when certain commercials from your childhood don’t ever die? Think of the famous “how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop” from the early 70s, or those 80s holiday Hershey’s Kisses that play “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” every year. With Easter coming, you have to have noticed this one, also from the 80s, has made its way back round for another year: Yes, spring has sprung: jelly beans, chocolate bunnies, colored eggs, Peeps, chicks and a rabbit that clucks like a chicken. It’s the famous Cadbury Bunny folks. There were a few ads that featured the infamous bunny from the 1980s; this one has been playing this past week. I have to say it makes me pretty happy hearing that clucking coming from the living room; I always peek my head in to get a load of the various animals auditioning for their shot at becoming the Cadbury bunny. The Cadbury Bunny put two Easter favorites in kids baskets every year. First up is the delicious Cadbury Mini-Eggs, which I have to admit I will stockpile so I have enough to last a month or two (who am I kidding, they don’t last two months) past Easter. With their hard candy shell, pretty pastel colors, and delicious chocolate center, Mini-Eggs top of my Easter candy list. The other Cadbury product the bunny clucks about is the infamous Crème Egg. Delicious milk chocolate filled with an oooey-gooey crème center made to look like the inside of an egg, complete with a bright yellow yolk. With as much of a sweet tooth as I had/still have, these eggs always put me over the edge, making my teeth tingle and my brain freeze with sugar shock. But people love them and are fanatical about them! In fact, earlier this year there was quite uproar when Cadbury announced they would no longer be using their trademark “Dairy Milk” shell and would be switching to a new recipe. The outrage! The horror! Where’s that clucking bunny when you need him, and why is he betraying us right after people have eaten their last bites of peppermint bark and chocolate Santas leftover from Christmas?!? Thank goodness my precious Mini-Eggs still taste the same. And thank goodness that clucking bunny is still the same....

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My Hero: Mr. Mom
Mar18

My Hero: Mr. Mom

Before he played Birdman and before his signature role as the caped crusader in Tim Burton’s Batman, Michael Keaton played a different kind of hero in the 1983 hit comedy, Mr. Mom. In addition to Keaton, Mr. Mom featured an amazing 80s cast including Teri Garr, Martin Mull, Jeffrey Tambor, and Ann Jillian. During the mid-80s the movie was an HBO staple for my brother and me; we watched Mr. Mom on a loop, and we loved it. When Michael Keaton’s character, Jack, unexpectedly loses his job, his wife, Carolyn (played by the fantastic Teri Garr) goes back to work at an ad agency. From there, we watch as Jack struggles with the ins and outs of everyday life at home with two young boys and a baby girl. Housework, schoolwork, grocery shopping, meal preparation, and kids’ activities are all tackled hilariously by Keaton in Mr. Mom. Who can forget Jack’s lunch making skills? Or, the line, “Kenny! Don’t paint your sister!” And my personal favorite: this classic restroom scene. Relationships are tested in the movie when lecherous boss Ron Richardson (Martin Mull) tries to pull Caroline away from Jack and her family and sexy neighbor Joan (Ann Jillian) makes every move she can on Jack (even down to the classic 80s movie move: show up in a trench coat then strip down to red teddy.) Spoiler Alert: The couple struggles (individually and together) and comes out stronger in the end. It provides that feel-good, triumphant feeling that is the hallmark of a really great 80s movie. Looking back on Mr. Mom today, it’s interesting to see how much has changed regarding the stigma that went along with being a stay-at-home dad; it just wasn’t really done back in the early 1980s. But today, there are plenty of fathers who stay home to take care of the kids while their partner pulls a 9-to-5 (another great HBO staple), Monday through Friday. Another great 80s factoid: the script for Mr. Mom was written by John Hughes. No wonder the movie is so funny/touching/just plain great. But the thing that puts Mr. Mom at the top of my 80s movie list is its star, Michael Keaton. Perfect, hilarious, 1980s comedy–Gung Ho, Johnny Dangerously, Multiplicity–Michael Keaton. His natural, good-natured, everyman persona, along with his insanely smooth comic timing, makes me want to watch Mr. Mom on a loop all over again. Yes he was amazing in Birdman, and I was completely rooting for him to take home that Oscar last month. But, Michael Keaton will always be my hero: my hilarious, vacuuming, milk from a baby bottle, clothespin-on-the-nose, 1980s-diaper-changing...

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Benson – 80s TV at Its Finest
Mar12

Benson – 80s TV at Its Finest

Ran on ABC (1979 – 1986) When you think back to ‘80s television most likely you think of the front runners, like Family Ties, The Cosby Show and Cheers. But there were a few shows that flew a little under the radar that people loved and that ran forever, like Night Court, Head of the Class and this one: First of all, let me just say that “Benson” should be a font – don’t you agree? Does it get more ‘80s than this, all bubbly and round? While we’re on the subject of the title shot of the show, let’s talk about the governor’s mansion. The Benson mansion, shown above, is known as the Bundy House and is located in Pasadena (click for info on the house, including its address, if you’d like to do a little location-stalking). Ok, back to business. Benson of course starred Robert Guillaume as the title character. The show was actually a spinoff of the ‘70s hit television show Soap in which Guillaume played a butler for the Tate family, around which the soap opera-esque show centered. Benson ran on ABC from 1979 to 1986 where Guillaume played an assistant to the widowed Governor Gatling (played by James Noble) and daughter Katie (played by ‘80s TV fixture Missy Gold.) The governor was cousin to Jessica Tate (Katherine Helmond) and Mary Campbell (Cathryn Damon), the two sisters who had appeared previously on Soap. Benson tried his best to fulfill his professional duties while dealing with the sweet but scattered ‘guvnah, his family and his co-workers at the governor’s mansion. Benson had an ongoing feud from Soap alumni Inga Swenson (top left in the cst pic above), who played the German cook Gretchen, and who can forget the fantastic René Auberjonois (top right), who was nominated for an Emmy for his performance playing the stuffy Clayton Endicott III. Other notable stars who appeared on Benson were Didi Cohn as the governor’s secretary Denise and a young Jerry Seinfield playing delivery boy Frankie! The show ran for seven seasons throughout which Benson worked his way up from assistant to the governor and his family to Lieutenant Governor. The show ended its run with Benson running against his former employer, Governor Gatling for the elected position. The series ended with the two of them sitting together watching the election results, without letting the audience know who actually won. Robert Guillaume went on to star on stage and screen throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s, guest starring on shows such as Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and A Different World and on the TV miniseries North and South. He also has...

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