Archive for July, 2008

The NJ Variety Pak.

…Also known as “I kinda feel like writing a post but I don’t have enough material on any one topic that I am currently inspired to write about”. Also also known as, “damn, since the end of the Nostalgiathon my hits have gone way down and I want more pageviews.”

Ahem. Yes. I have a few things to say, so I’m gonna say ’em.

Read more…

Nostalgiathon #7: Transformers (Cont.)

You know, it’s really a shame that the TV show wasn’t as good as the movie. When talking to a lot of 80s kids, especially on the internet, you hear lots of gushing about how Transformers is the greatest fucking cartoon in the entire history of the universe. In short, I disagree vehemently. And before you start throwing stuff at me, I’ve seen all of the first season and about half of the second. Animation errors, bad writing, and just general laziness abound. (Much the same can be said for most 80s cartoons. *dodges sharp objects and rotten tomatoes*)

Next, I’m going to talk about some of the toys.

Read more…

Nostalgiathon #6: Transformers!

When I was little, I always thought the theme song lyrics were “robots in the skies”, not “robots in disguise”. True story. Oh, and every time I say “Transformers”, I always have the urge to sing the word as it’s sung in the theme song, and in an 80s rock-star voice to boot. Transformaaaahs!

Anyway, I apologize if this post turns out to be less-than-awesome. I just decided about five minutes ago that I was going to do Transformers. The inspiration struck me to write about that instead of the other stuff I had planned. I’m also going to go ahead and split this into two posts, because I’m firing on all cylinders right now and I might as well use some of that energy for my seventh and final post of the Nostalgiathon. So there. (Sorry for the lack of pictures, but I can’t find any decent ones!)

So…I like Transformers. However, this is a fairly recent development and I’m hardly a hardcore fan. I enjoy the characters, and the animated movie, and some of the toys. But until last year, I was barely familiar with the franchise at all. I knew the theme song and who Optimus Prime and Megatron were (who the hell didn’t?) and that’s where it ended.

See, contrary to what you might think, I was and am a girl, and in the 80s I was more interested in Rainbow Brite and Teddy Ruxpin than robots (which should be pretty obvious if you’ve been reading this blog at all). Also, I sort of missed out on the heyday of Transformers not just because I was a little girl, but because I was about three years old when the movie came out, and after the movie, the popularity apparently took a big nosedive.

How’d I come to like Transformers when the odds say that I should hate it or at least be indifferent to it? Well, it all started with the animated movie. My fiance has fond memories of it, so I decided to watch it with him sometime last year. I also felt obligated to do so because it’s an 80s cult classic.

Needless to say, I enjoyed it immensely even though I didn’t know who the hell anybody was. I’ve been considering writing a full-fledged review of it, but I think a (relatively) brief one will suffice.

Reasons to Love Transformers: The Movie

1. The animation. It’s really good. Probably some of the best animation to come out of the 1980s. It’s flashy, colorful, and stunning at times. Everyone’s favorite characters are looking better than ever (well, before they get killed off, that is).

2. The music. The soundtrack to this movie is one of my favorite animation soundtracks ever, possibly one of my favorites period. Yes, some of the vocal songs are cheesy 80s rock tunes– okay, they’re ALL cheesy 80s rock tunes –but the score itself is not to be missed, especially if you love synth music. It fits with the movie so well and really adds a lot of atmosphere. Even a couple of the vocal songs are nice– mostly just The Touch and Dare, though. The others I could take or leave, though they do fit into the movie well enough.

3. The dialogue. This movie has better one-liners than it has any right to, being an 80s animated film based on a 30-minute toy commercial– er, I mean television show. I don’t want to spoil it for anybody; if you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about.

4. The characters! I’m going to take some heat for this one from fans, probably, but I happen to like Hot Rod, Kup, and Springer a whole lot. (Note that I said Hot Rod and not Rodimus Prime.) However, Wheelie is on my shitlist same as he is on everyone else’s. He’s the Jar Jar Binks of Transformers.

Anyway, the chemistry between Hot Rod and Kup is so much fun. But I tend to like that whole “old codger versus young punk” thing. They both seemed to have so much more depth to them than some of the original guys. Not that I don’t like those guys, but you gotta admit they aren’t exactly well-rounded characters. Also, remember that when I saw the movie, I had no idea who Ratchet, Wheeljack, Ironhide or any of the other guys were, so even when they snuffed it, I was like, “Uh, okay. That sucks, I guess.” So I have a pretty different perspective than most.

5. They took this movie seriously. Aside from the silly songs and the one-liners and dumb stuff like Wheelie, this movie is serious business! They don’t pull any punches. You see Autobots and Decepticons alike get destroyed. There’s lots of darkness and danger. There are a couple of swear words. Hell, they even had the balls to kill off a beloved hero and icon. Maybe this is why it was a box-office failure– it was too far ahead of its time. Only recently has America been making animation that even comes close to being “adult”. The look and feel of it are more like what’s typical of Japanese anime than American animation.

Phew, that went on longer than I thought it would.

Stay tuned for more Transformers ramblings, coming soon!

Explanation and Apology

I woke up this morning and realized that I didn’t post yesterday.

Yesterday afternoon, I went to see The Dark Knight (EXCELLENT film) with Daymon, and after that, got sick. I ended up going to bed early, completely forgetting about the Nostalgiathon.

And later this afternoon, we’re going to a friend’s house, as has been planned for a week now. So I don’t yet know if I can squeeze a post in today or not, but I will be thinking about it.

Also, since Sunday is the worst day for views, I’m going to skip Sunday and finish this thing up on Monday instead. And like I said, if I make seven posts by the end of this thing, I do. If I don’t, I don’t. I’m sure everybody here understands that life happens.

However, I would like to try doing this again sometime. I’ve gotten a lot of views and some new readers, which makes me feel awesome even though I’ve been posting late and skipping days and shit. Thanks to everyone for reading and commenting.

ETA: Oh yeah, I’m gonna stop moderating comments because I have 26 emails sitting in my inbox right now. XD

Nostalgiathon #5: Movie Intros Used to Be Awesome.

Today is the actual first anniversary of this blog’s creation! Yaaaaay! (I’ve only been on WordPress since January though– I started out on Blogger.)

So how many of you guys remember the days when it was a REALLY BIG DEAL for a big-budget movie to be shown on broadcast television? If not, here I am to jog your memory a little with movie intros from back in the day. Some of them are before my time, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think they’re cool.

Don’t get confused, now. When I say “movie intros”, I don’t mean the actual intros from movies. I’m talking about the opening animations made by the network. You know, like the HBO in Space intro.

Why were movies on TV such a big deal? Well, because even though VHS was rapidly becoming common in the early 80s, it wasn’t common yet for pre-recorded movies to actually be affordable. So it was cheaper to get some blank tapes and record the sucker. (Still is!) And before the days of home video and pay-TV, it was a big deal for obvious reasons: when a movie was done in the theatre, you had to either wait for a re-release or wait for it to come on TV to be able to see it again!

Anyway, since movies were an event, the movie intros were generally pretty flashy. And since I’m a sucker for old graphics like this, I’m gonna show you some.
We’ll start with NBC.

Brief history lesson time! NBC wasn’t exactly at the top of their game during the 70s or the first half of the 80s. As a matter of fact, things were looking pretty bleak for them until The Cos came along in 1984 and changed everything.

In spite of their ratings being in the toilet, NBC managed to make some interesting movie intros. Here’s one from 1981 (with a quick station ID at the beginning):

I dig that animation of the filmstrip becoming the 11-feathered peacock logo. Pretty nice CGI for the time. Note that the 11-feathered peacock has a stylized “N” logo behind it. That’s what NBC’s logo was from roughly 1979 to 1986. For a while before that, they used the “N” by itself. Personally, out of all of them, this “Proud N” is my favorite NBC logo. The peacock looks so much friendlier and the “N” behind it is a nice touch.

I also like the little musical theme used in this intro. Can’t say I care for the blocky typeface though. And this definitely isn’t the pinnacle of NBC movie intros– it’s actually pretty low-key when compared to some of the others, like this next one I’m going to show you.

Sorry about the bad quality!

This one’s from 1985. Frankly, I’m not a big fan of it. It’s bombastic and pretentious and the music is really obnoxious, but that CGI is pretty nice. I actually have a vague memory of seeing this once or twice when I was a kid– I would’ve been about three years old at the time. There are a few of these kinds of things that I remembered even though I was so young. I guess they just made that big of an impression on me.

Finally, here’s my favorite one from NBC. We’re jumping back to 1979 here.

Youtube took it down, so I uploaded it to my Photobucket.

Okay, so the graphics themselves aren’t all that great, I guess, but damn if that music doesn’t make up for it. Something about this intro just charms the hell out of me. I also just noticed that at the end of the sequence, the graphic looks like a layer cake with the Peacock on top and fireworks shooting out of it. How awesome is that?

Now we move on to CBS.

CBS was the king of television for many years, but finally slipped to second place in the 70s, and went on something of a ratings slump in the 80s. But for my family, CBS was probably the most-watched network. Mostly because I loved its Saturday morning lineup, and it was the place to watch animated holiday specials such as Charlie Brown and Garfield back then.

I also remember my parents watching a lot of the made-for-TV movies on there, and back then they were preceded by this:

That one was used mostly in the mid-late 80s. The CGI is slick, but I don’t care for the music– it sounds more like a news open than a movie open if you ask me.

I prefer the animation on this earlier version dating back to 1983…

…mostly because of that classy bit where the filmstrip becomes the CBS Eye. The music also seems to fit it better.

However, I think my favorite CBS movie intro is this gem from the mid 1970s:

I love that shiny, spinning film reel! The music is pretty and catchy, and that typeface is one of my favorites of all time, even though it screams “1970s” at the top of its lungs. I think I like it BECAUSE it’s so 70s. Also, they didn’t need CGI back then to have cool animations like this.

And finally, ABC.

It was ABC that ousted CBS from the top spot in the 70s. As I understand it, ABC’s dominance was due in part to their Movie of the Week. The Movie of the Week was an extremely popular showcase of made-for-TV films. It started in 1969 and they made a slitscan-tastic intro to go with it. Yeah, I know, this kinda doesn’t count because Hollywood movies didn’t air under this banner, but it’s a piece of television history, and I’m fond of it.

Like I said, this sequence was created in 1969– before CGI. They used slitscan, which is…some kind of animation technique using cameras and multiple planes and stuff. I can’t explain how it works, but it was also famously used in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Now, at the time, this thing was hot shit. There had never been TV graphics quite like this before. Also, the nice, happy music was composed by Burt Bacharach, and has a tendency to get stuck in my head. (Note: the audio quality isn’t due to poor compression, either…that’s just the way TV audio was back then. Stereo audio on TV didn’t become common until the mid-80s.)

Now, here’s the intro they used for Hollywood movies in the late 70s:

This one got taken down too; luckily, I archive all this stuff. Bwahaha!

I like this one; out of all the ones on TV at the time, I think it’s the nicest (though NBC’s 1979 intro up there looked and sounded a bit more “modern”). It’s colorful and catches your eye, and isn’t too pretentious. The music is grand without being overbearing. Looks like this one might have been done with slitscan too, but I’m not sure. There are also several different color schemes, and usually there would be a voiceover saying the words as they would appear on the screen. I prefer this “clean” version, though. Also, this color variation is my favorite of all the ones I’ve seen.

In the 80s, they were still going strong, broadcasting some pretty huge movies (Poltergeist, Superman, and Raiders of the Lost Ark to name a few). And to accompany those movies was one hell of an intro.

This particular capture of it has lots of stuff included. At the beginning, there’s a pre-emption announcement, then the “Closed Caption” bump, then after the intro sequence there’s a preview of the movie in which they really play things up. It emphasizes how big an event this kind of thing was.

That right there is probably the best graphic ever to be shown on network television. It’s almost as awesome as HBO in Space! (If my sources are correct, the theme is even composed by the same guy.) I realize that the graphics may not be all that impressive now, but imagine seeing that in 1981 when they first started using it. The music is really what makes it, though. It’s a perfect prelude to a great movie.

So there we have it. And hey, I’m still meeting my deadline! It’s only 10:33 here (I’ve been working on this damn post for a few hours now…phew).

Nostalgiathon #4: Random Thoughts on a Few 80s Toys

Hmm, today was another good day! WordPress ends the day at 7PM my time, which is kinda irritating, but from 7PM yesterday to 7PM today (it’s currently 7:39), I got 74 views, and have had six since then, so that’s pretty damn good! Thank you all once again.

Anyway, enough about that. This is another post written without prior planning, so I’m not sure how this one’ll turn out either. I’m gonna try to keep it short. Because…well, I don’t feel like writing a 1500-word diatribe about toys at the moment, haha. But we’ll see.

Photobucket

JoshC suggested that I write about Pound Puppies. I did indeed have a Pound Puppy as a kid, and I even found a little tan one at a thrift store a couple years ago.

However, I had more of the other merchandise than I did of the actual plushies, including this read-along book and tape set that I loved to death for some reason. If I remember correctly, it was based on the characters from the cartoon show and was about the wonders of reading books or something like that.

Another Pound Puppies item in my collection was a tape full of doggy Christmas songs, complete with really cheesy barking and whatnot, which was also listened to many, many times. Kids are so indiscriminate when it comes to entertainment.

I also had a couple of knockoff Pound Puppies that I loved just as much, but I don’t remember what they were called. There’s a picture of me with them, and if I wasn’t such a lazy bitch I’d scan it in. Hey, you’re lucky you’re gettin’ two posts in one day!

Photobucket

DC suggested Popples. Unfortunately…I ain’t got much to say about Popples because I never had one. They’re…interesting. Apparently, they were created by the same people responsible for Care Bears. I think if I had to choose between the two, I’d take Care Bears. But if I found a Popple in a thrift store, I’d probably buy it.

Hmm, more toys…

Photobucket

Ah, The Get Along Gang. This franchise was a vague, early memory for me, since the show ended when I was about two years old. Once in the early 90s, I was at a thrift store with my mother and found one of the toys. Even at that young age, I wanted to buy that toy because it was from the 80s. Didn’t get a chance to though.

I can’t agree with the themes of this show, though. It encourages conformity and I kinda don’t think that’s necessarily a good thing to teach kids. Conforming is fine in some situations, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with getting along with others, but you’ve got to have a mind and identity of your own.

Photobucket

Strawberry Shortcake! I only had one of the dolls, but I loved it. I also seem to remember having a big, “baby” version of her, but maybe I just dreamed that. Not sure. Here’s a commercial for it, featuring Heather O’Rourke, AKA Carol Anne from Poltergeist.

Strawberry Shortcake has been revived since the 80s, but now she looks like this:

Photobucket

Maybe I’m just an old fogey, but I hate that new design. For one thing, it doesn’t look timeless like the old one. It looks…well, frankly it looks 90s! The big hat, the jacket tied around the waist, the striped top– I don’t know about anybody else, but that looks ridiculously mid-90s to me. It’ll certainly be dated in a few years. Not that that really matters, I guess, but meh. I think they should’ve just left well enough alone.

Okay, well, after searching around some more, it looks like they changed the design again, and it’s better, but I still prefer the old ones. Maybe I just don’t like my toys looking “hip” or something. Also, most of the old characters are gone. And Huckleberry Pie looks ridiculously generic. Check it out if you’re bored enough.

And after doing even MORE Googling, I found this, YET ANOTHER re-launch for Strawberry, this time by Hasbro. I like the character design better, as it’s more reminiscent of the 80s design. But I’m sure the animated show isn’t going to be to my liking– which is fine, because I’m not a four-year-old growing up in 2008. I’m just rambling.

Okay, I think that’s enough for now. Any thoughts?

ETA: Oh yeah, NJ has a new look! I was sick of looking at the blue, so I picked something where I could customize the colors. I decided to go with an orangey-browny thing, because that reminds me of the 80s. Unfortunately, this layout doesn’t support a custom header, so the NJ logo I made is retired for now. Still, I’m happy with the colors. What do you guys think?

Nostalgiathon #3: Random Thoughts on a Few 80s Shows

SDSKLDFCNDCFMKEF DAMN IT. I said I was going to have another post up before midnight and I didn’t because life always gets in the fucking way lately ARGHHHHHH. It figures that things to do would actually keep popping up at a time when I promised to write every day. That’s it; no more promises. If I get seven posts up by the end of this thing, I do. If I don’t, I don’t. And that’ll be that. Honestly, this has been a real learning experience so far.

So here, have a post that I didn’t really plan out in advance and am kind of just making up as I go along. We’ll see how this turns out. The title is exactly what you’re gonna get. My friend ArgentShade made a few suggestions to me, and they were all TV shows, so I figured I’d just write a little post about them.

First on his list was He-Man/She-Ra. Um…I can’t really talk about this because I’ve actually never seen either show! Yeah, I’m a failure. Alls I know is that Prince Adam looks like he belongs in a ballet troupe and that She-Ra looks slightly more masculine than he does. (Also, oh my God my tooth hurts really bad right now.)

I remember watching that Masters of the Universe movie ages ago, but I don’t remember it very well, and from what I hear, it’s probably better that I don’t. I wonder if it was as bad as the Super Mario Bros. movie or the Street Fighter movie? Or that damned Garbage Pail Kids movie?

Anyway, since He-Man was so big in the 80s, I’m going to have to watch it eventually. I just hope it’s at least halfway enjoyable. Contrary to what you might think, I am actually NOT a big fan of 80s cartoon shows. A few of them are good fun. Some of them are just okay. But the majority of them are pieces of shit. And that’s what we’ll call them from now on: shitpieces. Just ’cause it was made in the 80s doesn’t mean it’s any good. For example, leg warmers came from the 80s and they’re one of the most pointless, ugly things ever. The same descriptors can be applied to many 80s cartoons. I might talk more on this topic in the not-so-distant future.

The next thing ArgentShade mentioned was DiC. Now, they’re pretty prolific, so I can find at least one or two shows to blather on about for a minute.

Let’s see. Ah yes, The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin! There’s a show I have something to say about.

Photobucket

It started in 1986, and ended in 1988 with a whopping 65 episodes. However…I’ve only seen about 15 of them, and ten of them I just watched this year. I bought the DVD set that contains the first 20 episodes but, unfortunately, haven’t been able to make myself finish watching it.

See, the first five episodes showed some real promise. They have a contiguous plot, for one– very rare for an 80s show! I had these five episodes on tape because my dad recorded them for me, and I watched them over and over (my dad and I even have a few inside jokes from that show). I still have a good time watching those episodes, but after that…things turn episodic and inane in true 80s cartoon fashion. I tried to slog through the whole DVD set to no avail. It’s a shame, really. Hopefully it picks the story back up later on. Not sure how long it’ll be before I find out, or if I’ll even bother at all. Honestly, I think I’d rather just stick with my good memories of the first five episodes.

Here’s another one I can give a brief blurb about: Hello Kitty’s Furry Tale Theatre.

Photobucket

I don’t remember the actual content of the show, because I never really got to see it. The local CBS affiliate aired it at like 6 in the morning on Saturday when I was about four years old. Of course, I loved Hello Kitty and had a few of the toys, so I wanted badly to see this show. But I could never get up early enough to catch it! I have a clear memory of struggling to wake up only to catch the end credits. Made me so sad. Oh well…it probably wasn’t that great anyway.

Also, we can’t be talking about DiC and neglect to mention Rainbow Brite! I didn’t get to see all the episodes of this show either…it was almost before my time, as it started in 1984 and ended in 1985. I had a couple of episodes on CED, and let me tell you, I watched the hell out of that thing. One of these days I’m going to have to find the rest of the episodes and watch them. There’s been no DVD release, which is actually very surprising to me. If all 65 episodes of Teddy Ruxpin can get a DVD release, there’s still hope for Rainbow Brite.

Last one by DiC that I’ll mention is The Super Mario Bros. Super Show. I loved Nintendo when I was little (like every other kid back then) and so I watched this show religiously when I was in kindergarten. It taught me how to tell when it was 3:30, because that’s when it came on. However, for some reason, I HATED the Zelda cartoon and, on Fridays, would always change the channel in disgust. I haven’t seen either show in ages, but ArgentShade’s got one of the DVD sets. I need to borrow it from him sometime.

Another one he suggested was Nickelodeon game shows, but I don’t really have time to talk about those right now. There are only 500 different ones. But I’m gonna keep it in mind.

Next on his list was Full House. Oh God.

I am ashamed to admit this, but…I used to love Full House. Keep in mind that I was about 7 years old at the time. I would watch this every fucking week at Grandmama’s house, and I loved every minute of it. The sad part is that I kept watching it until I was old enough to know better. Nowadays, I can’t sit through an episode. It’s just…too much for me.

The concept of the show was good. It could have been good if it hadn’t been so…well, you’ve seen it, I’m sure, so you know how it is. Plus Bob Saget’s presence on any show is an automatic minus five. (Yes, even America’s Funniest Home Videos.) At least John Stamos was hot.

Finally, he mentioned Small Wonder. This is a show that I only saw one time when I was very young, didn’t remember the name of, and wracked my brain for years trying to think of it. The only thing about it that I could remember was the little android girl, Vicki, and her red-and-white dress. And I remember being creeped out by her.

I saw an episode on Youtube several months ago and…it’s a “wonder” that this show lasted four seasons. Here, just watch the intro. The first time I saw it, my eyebrow was stuck in a raised position for like twenty minutes.

I guess I can see why five-year-olds might have liked it, but this is one of those shows that proves– to me, anyway –that the 80s weren’t necessarily the golden age of television that a lot of people make it out to be.

And now, I am extremely fucking tired so I’m going to bed.