January 2011

Family Ties

If the 80s were defined by network sitcoms, Family Ties surely must be high on the list. Watching an episode online the other day I was instantly transported to an era when cable was a rarity, and for the most part people watched things when they were on TV. If you missed an episode, sucks to be you! (Unless you were one of the few people who had figured out how to program their VCR, and you had a blank tape, and you remembered to put it in, etc etc.)

To quote Wikipedia, Family Ties "focused on a real cultural divide during the 1980s when the Alex P. Keaton generation was rejecting the counterculture movement of the 1960s and embracing the wealth and power that came to define the 80s." The show's hook was that these hippie parents (the mother an architect, the father working for public television) raised these kids who were ultra-conservative as a reaction to their parents' liberalism. (The irony of course being that the hippies were simply a reaction to their own parents' conservatism.)

Must-Have ‘80s Mixes For Your Workout

Oldies are my favorite songs to work out to, hands-down. But sometimes you just need some of that big-hair, Cindy Lauper goodness of the ‘80s to keep your spirit soaring while you move your body. Plus, I’m a child of the ‘80s, so it’s probably in my blood. What are your favorite ‘80s songs to work out to? In addition to pretty much every single song on The Wrestler soundtrack, here are some of mine.

“I Won’t Back Down”

Really, I could move to anything that comes out of Tom Petty’s mouth (or Sam Elliott’s; if you haven’t heard his version, you definitely need to check it out), but this one is particularly great for the elliptical trainer and other machines.

“I Remember You”

"Real Genius"

Pretty much anything you could ever want to know about the 80s, including our nostalgia for it, is encapsulated in the movie "Real Genius." Way back in 1985 a fresh-faced unknown star named Val Kilmer took on his first role starring as wacky genius Chris Knight. This screwball comedy is far better than it has any right to be, thanks largely to a solid script with some great dialogue. ("Rue the day"? Who talks like that?")

Set at a genius college for geniuses, "Real Genius" follows the tried and true "fish out of water" formula. In this case, Mitch Taylor is the innocent genius dweeb who assigned to be Chris Knight's roommate.

"Real Genius" is also one of the earliest forms of the Geek Power movement. The movie celebrates intelligence and science acumen like few movies before or after. Mitch and Chris are surrounded by super-smart college students who enact super-smart pranks, like setting up a series of lasers to point the route to a college party, treasure hunt-style. Or using liquid nitrogen to create an ice rink in their dorm's hallway.

"Bust A Move"

You may have heard Young MC's hit "Bust A Move" in a recent Verizon commercial. (I like watching the little Android dude do his little boogie.) Or perhaps you saw it performed in a Season 1 episode of "Glee." Or maybe you have seen it in one of the, to quote Wikipedia, "countless" appearances in music, television, and movies since the song was first released in 1989.

This mega-hit song was ubiquitous from day 1. And yet, it only topped the charts at #7 at the time. Maybe everyone was so sick of hearing it on the radio, they didn't even bother buying it. Back in the days when you only listened to the local radio stations, this overexposure was a real risk.

It's hard sometimes to remember what life was like before 24/7 free streaming internet radio, and the iTunes store, and YouTube, and Pandora, and every other way to get music into your head. Back in the 1980s, you were basically stuck with your own CD collection (and CDs cost a fortune), the cassette tapes you had copied from your friends (if you were lucky enough to own a two-cassette player), and the stuff you saw on television. (Like MTV, which used to show music videos. It's true!)

Collecting Stickers

Becksta's list of things that were right and things that were wrong about the 80s got me thinking, once again, about my sticker collection. It must be fate, because earlier this week I decided to bust out the remains of my collection this weekend and Do Something About It.

Oh, how yesterday's obsessions become today's useless, emotionally fraught clutter.

Back in the early 1980s there was a big fad among tween girls (of which I was one) for collecting stickers. Now I grant you, stickers are fun and pretty and an interesting way to spice up your Pee-Chee folder or a greeting card or whatever.

But why on Earth would you just, like, COLLECT THEM? What kind of madness led to keeping stacks and stacks of photo albums with untouched stickers (still on their backing paper, ready to be used [in theory]) lovingly entombed within?

The 80's: Not So Bad

This  is in response to this post,  which is pretty funny and asks, “What’s so great about the 80’s?” from someone who was too young at the time to understand the significance of the times. As a veteran of the 80’s, I’m here to answer your questions and give you a list of what was right and wrong with the 80’s, which truthfully weren't as bad as you young, rascally kids like to make them out to be.

Here are a few of my main beefs with the 80’s:


What's so great about the 80's?

I guess I should start off by telling you that I was just a child during the 80s. When the decade changed I was just barely 7 years old - which might be the reason I am not a "super fan" (At least at this time). I am really curious why the 80's are so idolized though. Where I live, there is a night - ONCE EVERY WEEK - where a local bar has an 80's night. I guess I just don't get why so many people go there to listen to the same music and wear the same crappy thrift store clothes. I think some of the people in the crowd may have actually just gotten stuck in the 80's- at that very bar - and I guess my big question is why?