Archive for June, 2009

They Just Weren’t That Great…Or Were They?

Anyone ever notice that VHS, Betamax, vinyl records, Laserdiscs, CEDs and even 8-tracks get lots of nostalgic love, but audio cassettes don’t? I mean, when was the last time you heard someone mention an audio cassette? Okay, so for me, the last time was today, but before that? Can’t even remember.

Why no love for cassettes? Well, I’ll tell you why I have no love for cassettes: they were very breakable, got mangled by car stereos very easily, they didn’t sound all that great in the first place, especially not after 18,000 plays– there’s nothing worse than trying to listen to a song when it sounds all warped and garbled. I understand that they were an important technological stepping stone, and they made music in the car much more practical, but compared to CDs or records they were pieces of shit. I had to put up with cassettes for a long time because I couldn’t afford a CD player and it made me sad, so I guess that’s why I don’t get very nostalgic for them.

That’s not to say that I don’t have any nostalgia for them, though. Cassettes were fun to play with. I used to use my dad’s equipment to record my own pretend radio show and other silly things like that. They also made piracy easy and fun– my dad knew how to use them to record audio from VHS tapes and we made my own bootleg Disney movie soundtracks.

Oh, don’t forget those read-along book-and-tape sets. I had plenty of those and I’m pretty sure they were part of the reason I knew how to read at four years old. I also had those Disney Children’s Favorites tapes– they had nursery rhymes and old-fashioned songs on them, classic stuff like This Old Man and Skip to My Lou. You know, those songs that kids these days don’t know anything about. I played them to death and knew every word because of the accompanying illustrated songbooks.

Also, one year, my dad bought me a Sony Walkman and I was in heaven– not because it was a portable cassette player per se, but because it was portable music. I’d ride my bike and listen to my Garth Brooks tapes and bootlegged Disney soundtracks all the live long day. (Yes, I said Garth Brooks. I was a stupid kid; leave me alone.)

I guess I had a little more nostalgia for cassettes than I thought I did.

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A Few Thoughts on Thriller

I had a sheltered childhood. My mom didn’t like me to watch “evil” or “dirty” things, and forbade me to watch many things, even some innocent things like Scooby-Doo (not that I was missing much there). So it’s no surprise that my mom didn’t care for Michael Jackson. I grew up being pretty unfamiliar with his work, only hearing a few songs in the 90s such as Black or White and You Are Not Alone.

With that, you should know what I’m about to say. I’m about to tell you that until about twenty minutes ago, I had never heard the song Thriller, or seen the video. Ever. Not even the shortest clip. Oh sure, I had heard of it plenty of times, but never got around to watching it. But being the 80s fan that I am, and spurred by the recent passing of Michael Jackson, I realized I could not go without seeing it any longer. So I went to Youtube.

What do I think of it? Well, what can I say that hasn’t already been said 100 million times? There’s a reason why it is so monumentally popular and well-liked. It was genuinely creepy. As I was watching it, I tried to imagine that I was five years old again, and I realized that if I had seen this back then, I probably would have had nightmares for months.

Also, the song is a great dance tune. And Michael Jackson does a brilliantly choreographed routine. With zombies. Don’t forget Vincent Price. I mean, damn– do music videos get any better than that? I (and many others) say that they don’t. Or at least, they haven’t yet. At this rate, they probably never will.

Non-Thrift Store Adventures

Junk hunting is not so easy in the lovely city of Norman, Oklahoma. I mean, you can find plenty of junk, but when I say I’m going to go “junk hunting”, I really mean that I’m going digging for retro treasure, not random broken useless things or out-of-style clothing that doesn’t fit.

So, I got my “junk hunting” fix in a different way. I went to Hastings.

If you live in the Norman area and you love DVDs, random movie merchandise, and weird novelty items, the place to go is Hastings. Oh yeah, and they sell music, books, comics, electronics, and video games too. And Japanese candy, but I’ll talk about that some other time.

I haven’t had the chance to blow money at Hastings in a while, so while we were there picking up a gift for someone else, I took the opportunity to browse around.

First, I found this Luigi figure and I had to get it, because Luigi is awesome. Does he count as “retro” though, since Mario Bros. is still very much a part of the public consciousness and they make new games all the time? You be the judge.

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Then I went over to the DVD racks, which is where I spend most of my time when I go to Hastings. They buy used DVDs/CDs/books/etc., so sometimes you can score something great without breaking the bank. On this trip, after some debate, I decided to pick up:

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I felt like my DVD collection was incomplete without Jaws and Flight of the Navigator, plus they were cheap. I am going to watch both of them today.

That’s pretty much all for now. Maybe one of these days, I’ll make a trip up to Oklahoma City and see if I can score some more cool old stuff.

Special Announcement!

I am happy to announce that I’ve decided to celebrate this blog’s second anniversary much the same way that I did the first:

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That’s right, unless elephants stampede through my apartment (or something equally unlikely happens), July 12-18 will be devoted to Nostalgiathon 2009! I hope you’ll all drop in again this year, since last year was tons of fun and I’m really looking forward to it. Tell all your nostalgia-loving friends!

And in the meantime, check out Nostalgiathon 2008 if you haven’t already!

Nostalgiathon #1: More Thrift Store Adventures
Nostalgiathon #2: Grandmama
Nostalgiathon #3: Random Thoughts on a Few 80s Shows
Nostalgiathon #4: Random Thoughts on a Few 80s Toys
Nostalgiathon #5: Movie Intros Used to Be Awesome
Nostalgiathon #6: Transformers!
Nostalgiathon #7: Transformers (Cont.)

Blurb: In My Dreams…

Last night, I had a dream that I went garage sale-ing and I found some rare toys/promotional items from McDonald’s. They were Christmas-themed Garfield figurines and big plastic cookie jars (what?). I was like “FUCK YEAAAAH” so I was about to buy them but ran into two problems: I had forgotten my wallet, and the lady wanted like a zillion dollars for them.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am a LOSER.