Saturday, March 31, 2012

20 Songs From The Early 80’s And What I Was Probably Doing While Listening To Them

1. The Human League - “Don’t You Want Me”

  This song inspired us to run around and act like British people who were pale and sang in monotones. There was a brief moment when I experimented with eyeliner just like Philip Oakey, but after it got in my eyes and burned while sweating on the dance floor, I was basically over it.

2. Madonna - “Holiday”

   When Madonna appeared on the scene with the first of her many world-dominating clothing styles, every girl of a certain age (and many of the guys) were immediately clamoring to wear so many rubber bracelets that they could barely lift their arms over their heads while dancing in their chic-trash outfits.

3. Buggles - “Video Killed The Radio Star”

  I would be scratching my head and trying to figure out what the hell they were doing in this video. Who is that small devil child and why are people stuck in giant plastic tubes?

4. Frankie Goes To Hollywood - “Relax”

  A song was actually playing on the radio that was all about delaying orgasm? What college student wouldn’t worship this song? And the best part was everybody getting to holler the “HUHHH!” sexual-release noise in the middle of the song.

5. Bow Wow Wow - “I Want Candy”

  This inspired many a teenage slut-in-training to waller around on a random beach and beg for sugar-based goodies. Of course, you would find sand in surprising places later on, but that’s just the price you pay.

6. The Eurythmics - “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)”

  Annie Lennox, with that severe orange hairdo, looked like she could snuff the life out of Margaret Thatcher with one look. Too bad she didn’t.

7. Talking Heads - “Burning Down the House”

  I would say that the image of David Byrne swallowing lane-markers on a highway inspired me to do equally art-rock things, but instead I would just get another drink from the bar.

8. Modern English - “I Melt With You”

  I desperately wanted to be enough in love with someone to sing this song to them during a spectacularly-romantic and perfect moment, but it took me a while to understand that there was more to a relationship than being pretty and wearing the right clothes.

9. Spandau Ballet - “True”

  This was another fascinating romantic song, sort of, but the bit about “with a thrill in my head and a pill on my tongue” always confused me. Would you really want to sing that line to someone that you hoped would stick around long-term?

10. The Vapors - “Turning Japanese”

  No idea what this song was actually about, but the peppy, hectic vibe of it made you want to slam back tequila shots and then do something incredibly stupid.

11. Soft Cell - “Tainted Love”

  I didn’t know what was tainting the love, but the pure geekiness of lead singer Marc Almond let the little people believe that they could also one day grow up to sing about people hurting them. On an album that actually included a single called “Sex Dwarf”.

12. A Flock of Seagulls - “I  Ran (So Far Away)”

  Loved the song, but I was certainly running away from that guy’s hairdo that was jacked high enough to knock planes out of the sky.

13. Men At Work - “Down Under”

  Vegemite sandwich? Made me afraid to go anywhere near Australia.

14. New Order - “Blue Monday”

  There was something about dancing to a tune about suicide and loss that made us feel really European and cool.

15. Joe Jackson - “Is She Really Going Out With Him?”

  This is when I would get something to eat or go pee. I thought this song was incredibly annoying and I couldn’t make it all the way through.

16. Animotion - “Obsession”

  The song was sex-stalker enough on its own, but the hot-looking male half of this duo made me think that kidnapping and forced physical encounters were fine. As long as you left a thank-you note on the nightstand.

17. Duran Duran - “The Reflex”

  This song was so hugely popular that they actually played the extended dance mix on the radio in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Bible Belt Central! I nearly drove my car into a ditch.

18. Dexy’s Midnight Runners - “Come On Eileen”

  People made so many raunchy jokes about the lyrics in this song that you couldn’t listen to it anymore without your mind getting perverted. Which, of course, probably didn’t impress the reluctant Eileen.

19. Adam Ant - “Goody Two Shoes”

  Adam Ant clearly did drugs and enjoyed them immensely.

20. Culture Club - “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?”

  No, we didn’t want to hurt you, Boy George. Instead, we were hoping that your day-glo dreadlocks wouldn’t hurt us. What was up with all that mess? Were you trying to get into a drag-queen circus and misunderstood the application process?

Friday, March 30, 2012

18 Things You Really Wish You Could Say To That Incredibly Annoying Co-Worker

“Don’t come into my cube unless you can get to the point within four seconds.”

“Why do you have to yell everything you say? Is that how they do it on your home planet?”

“Let’s just assume that your amazing niece did something extraordinary once again, and then we don’t have to actually talk about it.”

“I think you might be the exact reason why drugs were invented.”

“What part of the expression on my face makes you think that I have any interest in what you are saying right now?”

“If you insist on crunching on that ice, I must insist on slamming your head into the wall.”

“This thing I’m holding next to my ear? It’s a phone. Notice how I am currently speaking into this object. When you see me in this position, it means go away and come back later. Or maybe never.”

“I don’t believe it says anything in your job description about singing along with the radio. Don’t make me call somebody.”

“Help me understand how you could possibly think you looked good in that outfit. Does prostitution run in your family? Is it a gang thing? Were you raised by howler monkeys?”

“What are you possibly doing in that cube over there that sounds like mating time at the zoo?”

“Life is far too short to have to listen to you talking baby talk on the phone with this week’s skanky hookup.”

“Did you go to a special school where they taught you how to pick out the most annoying ring tone in this galaxy? And were your teachers deaf?”

“So how does the food stay in your mouth when you chew like that?”

“Here’s the plan. If I actually need your opinion on something, I’ll send you an email. Now go sit in your own cube and wait for that to happen and stay out of my grill.”

“Did your parents have to pay a fine for how you turned out?”

“There once was a man from Nantucket. And he wouldn’t have liked you, either.”

“When Dr. King had his dream, I’m pretty sure you weren’t in it.”

“Please tell me you’re sterile.”

Thursday, March 29, 2012

10 Things It SOUNDS Like The Lawnmower Man Is Doing Right Now

  Note: I finally broke down and started paying someone to take care of the yard, having fretted previously about justifying the expense. Turns out this was one of the best decisions, ever, and the joy of not having to screw with all that mess is indescribable. But I always know when the Lawn Guy is here, because that bitch can be LOUD. These are the auditory signals of his arrival:

1. The 18-wheeler slamming into a train.

  Okay, it’s just a pickup and this long-ass trailer full of equipment, but when the man arrives, you’d think there was a forty-car pile pileup on the Interstate. He can’t just drive up and politely stop. He’s got to make sure that every piece of equipment on that trailer slams into something else, with at least two pieces of said equipment hurling themselves over the side of the trailer in a frenzy of mechanical suicide. I’m guessing he didn’t read the entire driver’s manual.

2. The reenactment of the Berlin Wall coming down.

  This would be Lawnmower Man lowering the gate/ramp of the trailer. No automated regulation here, folks. He just slams the thing open with bad-childhood menace, resulting in an exploding thunderclap that echoes throughout the neighborhood, giving palpitations to the elderly, alerting gang members to the possibility of yet another drive-by, and occasionally triggering false reports of seismic activity in California.

3. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Tribute Medley

  Actually, it’s his leaf blower and not a chainsaw, but you wouldn’t know the difference. This weapon, clearly manufactured in the jungle encampment of some pissed-off drug lord, has a noise level that breaks the previous upper-limits of the known decibel range. And that’s when the demonic thing is idling. When he revs that sucker up, going after leaves that can’t possibly offer any resistance, trees fall over and birds drop out of the sky.

4. The rhinoceros having sex on the patio.

  It’s nice that he blows all the leaves off the patio, something he doesn’t have to do yet he takes care of it anyway. But with that G-force blower we have furniture flying through the air and bouncing off the side off the house. Even the wrought-iron stuff. It’s truly a display of man harnessing the elements, something that would be fascinating if it didn’t sound like the Gestapo raiding the house, really upset with me for having plotted with Veronika to take out Hitler.

5. The voice from the toilet.

  It never fails. I always desperately need to use the facilities right when this man is here. (Perhaps my body is in shock from all the cacophony and it’s just natural instinct.) And he inevitably manages to start yelling into his phone right outside whichever bathroom I have chosen, bellowing instructions to other members of his crew as they annihilate neighboring lawns, scaring the hell out of me and sending me toppling for Jesus.

6. The saw-blade of Satan.

  This would be the ear-shattering whir of the weed-eater, as it also gets ratcheted up to full-destruction mode and is unleashed on any bit of whatever that had the nerve to grow a mere millimeter beyond its designated length. This man does not mess around. If he wants you gone, you’re gone, even if you can’t hear yourself going. The military should have weapons like this.

7. The aircraft carrier pulling into port.

  And we have the actual lawnmower, a term which can’t possibly adequately describe the shock-and-awe thing the man drives as he proves his domination over the tender green shoots. It’s massive, and I really am surprised that I haven’t seen fighter jets land on the thing, with a strand of weed-eater line keeping them from racing off the end of the lawn-ship. Of course, this traveling football field is just as loud as his cousins Blower and Eater, and just as apt to be confused with a Stage 5 hurricane.

8. The Japanese retreat from Pearl Harbor.

  This is the pivotal moment when L-Man decides that things are just fine and dandy, and he signals to his crew that departure is imminent. Now we have running, yelling and clanging, with all of the equipment heaved back toward the long-ass trailer, with little regard for where things might land, what might happen when they do, and whether or not the folks three counties over really needed to hear all that.

9. The pinging of emails.

  As neighbors discover they can hate me even more than previously thought, sending me nasty-grams of invective about twisted souls who arrange for Armageddon to take place at 8am on a Saturday morning. Vlad the Impaler had better social skills. Nothing they can think of doing to me could ever be punishment enough. But they are sure going to try everything they can to make my life miserable. Just as soon as they actually get out of bed and have some cawfee.

10. The near-silence of the financial transaction when Lawn Guy rings the doorbell.

  Him: “Hey”

  Me: “Hey”

  I hand him bills, he leaves, I close the door. Peace and serenity return.

  Three days later, Scotch the Cat comes out from under the couch. With an attitude and legal papers from his lawyer.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

10 Comforting Lies You Can Tell Yourself About That Stupid Diet You’re Supposed To Be On

1. The bathroom scale is clearly possessed by demons.

  There can be no other explanation for the erratic way those damn numbers keep saying the wrong thing and going in the wrong direction. Cleanse your house of evil spirits. Leave the tainted scales on the front steps of a local church (Pentecostal if you can find one) and then go buy a new machine.

2. Anything that you only take a small bite of doesn’t count.

  A tiny little nibble of forbidden fruit shouldn’t result in a bad report card. In fact, you’re really just doing a quality check to protect the lives of other people who are allowed to eat gallons of whatever they want. If you didn’t take the time to make sure that the coconut cream pie was up to standard, then other people might suffer, and you don’t want that on your conscience.

3. The area directly in front of the fridge is a no-calorie zone.

  If you stand in front of the refrigerator with the door open, anything you consume is immediately disqualified from any statistical record-keeping. As long as that little light stays on, shining down on the shelves of goodies, you’re golden. If necessary, pay a small child to hold the door for you as you attack things like whole pizzas or cream-heavy casseroles that require the use of both hands.

4. Cows are considered sacred in India.

  This means that you should have cheese on everything that you eat, because not doing so would be an affront to the religious affiliation of a very large number of people. Cows make milk. Milk can make cheese. Rudely ignoring the deliciousness of cheese means that you don’t revere the goodness of the cow, and that’s just disrespectful, because we should all support one another. We are the world. We are the cheese-eaters.

5. Tasteless, low-fat frozen dinners are an affront to civilization.

  Societies have managed to survive for thousands of years without eating watery nuggets of mystery meat and immense amounts of broccoli that have been flash-frozen and then nuked in a microwave. Why mess with tradition? Besides, we all know that something is wrong with those dinners. If the manufacturer has to add 8,000 milligrams of sodium, they’re covering up some kind of mess in there that we should avoid.

6. Chocolate is being unjustly persecuted.

  Why do the doctors hate chocolate? What has it ever done to anybody? All it does is sit there and look really desirable, and what’s wrong with that? Take a stand and support the downtrodden. Occupy Hershey.

7. Treadmills are really over-rated.

  After all, you’re not actually going anywhere. What’s the point? You might as well try to be productive and walk to an actual destination. Preferably one that serves ice cream.

8. Protein is necessary for your body to function as it should.

  Which means you need to get it wherever you can. These are busy times, people. We don’t all have the luxury to grow our own organic tofu or personally hand-pick soybeans. We’re on a tight schedule. If that means you need to get your protein from the Big Boy Country Platter at the local Grease-O-Rama Diner, then so be it. We do what we have to do.

9. If you’re at a restaurant and you tip your food server well, then all fat grams are instantly negated.

  It’s true. Surplus cash left on the table erases bad-food decisions. So order what you want. Just be nice with the stack of appreciation dollar bills as you belch and fight your way out of the booth.

10. America is fixated with unrealistic body image expectations.

  Just sayin. Do what you can, try to be good, avoid the really awful stuff that you shouldn’t be putting in your mouths. But don’t beat yourself down. Everybody is different, everybody has different challenges, and everybody has a unique purpose and place. Love yourself.


Saturday, March 24, 2012

10 Things I Would Be Doing As a Kid on a Saturday In 1973

1. Watching all the crazed, clearly-drug-inspired cartoons on Saturday morning.

  I would leap out of bed at the earliest crack and race to turn the TV on and then sit there, glued, for hours. My favorite reefer madness was this thing called “Lidsville”, about a real boy and a special land where the hats were alive and they lived in colorful houses, also shaped like hats. (I am so not making this up, even though many people today think I’m insane and must have been dropped on my head at birth.)

  I even had a “Lidsville” lunchbox, the rectangle metal kind that had that little swing-out bracket thing to hold your thermos. I carried this treasure to school faithfully, until the tragic day when I dropped and broke said thermos, shattering it because the insides were made of glass back then and you couldn’t get all dumb-ass with your transportation skills. But jack it up I did, and I had to drag the rattling thermos home and explain myself to Mom concerning my disappointing behavior.

2. Wiring myself up on a candy-based breakfast.

  Whilst watching the stoner toons, it was a prerogative that you consume bowl after bowl of cereal as you sat cross-legged directly in front of the TV. And you weren’t doing it right unless you added tons of sugar to your already-sugared cereal. This made things heavenly, and after you crunched your way through the top portion, you would be rewarded with the leftovers at the bottom, a milky and creamy sugar pudding. You could mainline that manna and then go invade a small country.

3. Going outside and playing for hours without any electronic devices or Internet access.

  This is a true story. Once upon a time a child could simply walk out the front door, possibly gather other little friends although this was not necessary, and then come up with his own entertainment that would last the entire afternoon. And here’s the most startling aspect of this story: physical activity actually took place. Yep, games were invented on the fly that involved running, jumping and hurling each other from the tops of trees and storage sheds.

  One didn’t sit around and wait for a parental unit to purchase yet another toy. Couches were not involved. Unless the couch had been abandoned and was waiting patiently on the curb for disposal. Then the couch became the Starship Enterprise and everybody got to kill space aliens with their stick ponies, which secretly doubled as machine guns.

4. Avoiding toys that could kill.

  Not that we didn’t have any toys, mind you, of course we had those. But apparently the country as a whole didn’t have a lot of regulations when it came to the toys of that time. One especially brutal invention went by several names, but we knew them as Klick-Klacks. In short, you had two acrylic balls the size of, oh, large plums I guess, one at each end of a string, and the string had a little ring or stick in the middle. So far, so good.

  You held on to the ring and let the balls dangle (yes, they looked like day-glo testicles at first glance), then began to jiggle the balls in a manner that would make them bounce further and further apart. The end goal (although this proved elusive for many) was to get the balls to bounce against each other hard enough that they would rocket around a circumference, slam into each other at the top of said circle, and then hurtle downwards again, rinse and repeat, ad infinitum. If one did things right, it sounded like a woodpecker on crack.

  The deadly part? When you screwed up and one or both of the suddenly very-weighty balls would slam into your head or other delicate body parts. You only had to do that a couple of times before you threw the damn thing in the toy box, never to look at it again. (Oh, and the balls could also explode and blind you with the fragments. Suffice it to say that they eventually disappeared from the stores.)

5. Dancing with excitement as the ice cream truck rolled down the street.

  Once minute, the entire block would be completely deserted, tumbleweeds blowing. Then the maniacal sounds of the jangly truck would break the silence, and suddenly you had 400 hyperventilating kids shoving each other out of the way and thrusting their grimy dimes at the probably-medicated vendor. Slurping would then ensue.

6. Hoping to enjoy some fine local cuisine, urchin-style.

  The absolute best restaurant in the entire world was McDonald’s, bar none. (Okay, Dairy Queen was a close second, but some of those places were really old and smelled like grandparents.) The McDonald’s were newer, sometimes came with playgrounds, and often offered cheap prizes that would infatuate young minds. It couldn’t get any better.

  And the French fries? Oh. My. God. This was back in the day, when nobody knew squat about healthy eating except for certain hippies and chaste librarians, so those fries would be dripping in grease and completely coated with enough salt that your tongue would actually burn if you ate too many. Good times.

7. Listening to Lobo sing his catchy, heartfelt tunes.

  Granted, I was still basically a kid, but I was also a very serious little munchkin at times, in that introspective, budding gay-boy way where you search for meaning wherever you can find it. So I was often perusing “adult” songs whilst my cohorts had a repertoire limited to Sesame Street ditties. And something about the way this man sang and what he said had me mesmerized.

  Now, some of you won’t care a hoot for this list, and others of you (“of a certain age”) will squeal and run try to download these titles: “Me and You and Dog Named Boo”, “I’d Love You to Want Me” and “Don’t Expect Me to Be Your Friend”. Put on the headphones and reminisce.

8. Playing with my G.I. Joe doll.

  It was extremely not cool for boys to play with dolls, unless it was one of these. He was all manly and stuff, with his buzz-cut and plastic pectorals. (No penis, though. I checked this out immediately.) You could pull a string in his back, and then he would bark out orders, telling you to run sink a battleship with your bare hands or topple a Communist dictator. It was great fun until his string broke or his voice box got jacked and it sounded like he had emphysema. Then he was relegated to the bottom of the toy box with the Klick-Klacks.

9. Begging to go see The Exorcist.

  I had no idea what this movie was about, but there were whispered rumors that people were fainting and even dying at the screenings, and who wouldn’t want to go see something like that? (Mom even had a tattered paperback copy of the book that lived on her nightstand for a bit, so this would provoke me ever more, what with that odd, creepy image on the cover. What the hell was that thing?)

  But alas, it wasn’t to be. I wasn’t allowed to go see it, not at that time, anyway. I had to wait a few years for cable TV to become popular and then I got to watch it on a brand-new “pay channel” called HBO. At which point I remember thinking maybe that Ragan girl wouldn’t have acted up so much if she’d just cut back on the sugar in her cereal. Or the McDonald’s fries. Something.

10. Watching Emergency! on TV.

  I really don’t remember exactly what the TV series was about, some mess involving folks that would go save other people who didn’t have enough sense to not get in car accidents or fall off buildings. But I do remember that I was smitten with Randolph Mantooth that played one of the paramedic heroes. It was quite nice when an episode involved fire, because he would get sweaty, and I was constantly fantasizing about getting myself into situations that required him to rescue me.

  Sadly, when these episodes would end on a Saturday night, it meant that I didn’t have much longer before my personal freedom was rudely curtailed, as my designated bedtime was on the horizon. I would often fight this injustice, of course, because I was firmly convinced that I was much smarter than all the stupid adults with all their rules and questionable movies that only they could attend.

  But it was a losing battle, naturally. And eventually I would be tucked in and bid night-night. I would then wait for my parents to go become distracted by whatever they did when offspring were presumably quarantined for the evening. Then I would reach over and turn on my little tiny-watt radio, real quiet, and wait for a Lobo song to play…

Thursday, March 22, 2012

10 Reasons Why Pizza Is Good For You

1. It’s round.

  This is a relatively safe shape. There are generally no sharp edges where you can accidentally slice open an artery, and that’s always a good thing. Now, there is a minimal amount of inherent danger if your pizza is not already pre-sliced when you attack it. Do not hand the little death-wheel pizza cutter to some idiot that has not had proper training. Otherwise, greedy people could lose a finger or two, and that’s a really awkward life lesson.

2. You can practice your geometry.

  Creating perfectly-proportioned slices is an art form that is taught in the finest of Italian cooking schools. It takes fully-developed hand-eye coordination to carve your pie in a manner that results in slices of equal size. You jack up this process, and you end up with matching sets of pieces that are too big or too small. And Jesus doesn’t want that kind of mess up in his grill.

3. You can pick a crust thickness based on your psychological needs of the day.

  Had a fine and dandy day that Mary Poppins would be proud of? Order the regular crust and eat away, satisfied that all of your medications are working properly. Had a really crappy day? Get you some of that deep-dish goodness as comfort food, where you can gnaw for hours on two-inches of greasy bread and a splash of sauce. Still trying to stick to that diet? Get the super-flat and crispy version. You can eat 17 of those paper-thin slices and not even approach the calorie content of one deep-dish paperweight slice.

4. Pizza tries to please as much of the population as it can.

  These days, you can use practically anything you want to accessorize your pie, assuming you know where to go and what to look for. Shrimp, feta cheese, barbecue chicken, tofu, mustard greens, beef jerky, Kim Kardashian, you name it, somebody, somewhere will slap it on a pizza for you. (On the sad little flip side, the number of choices can be a bit overwhelming, and your indecisive family may end up on the line with Pizza Hut for three hours. Plan accordingly, and understand that you may have to threaten undecided family members with minimal violence and/or banishment. Be strong.)

5. Pizza does not require formal dress during the consumption process.

  You can eat pizza anytime, anywhere.  No one cares about protocol, and celebratory burping is even allowed without resulting penalties or harsh reprimands. My favorite position? Sitting on the couch, in my jammies, watching something on DVD with untimely deaths and bitchy side-kick actors spouting mean but funny dialogue. Oh, and a beer in the other hand. Mmm hmmm.

6. You don’t have to get out the good china.

  In fact, you don’t have to get out much of anything. A plate might be necessary for those folks with tidiness issues, but really, all it takes is your hand and maybe a napkin. Done.

7. Clean-up is a breeze.

  You first pick off the still-warm but slightly-crusty cheese that is clinging to the top of the box, sample that, go after the little sausage pebbles that might be rolling around in the lower half of the box, and munch on those as well. Then throw the oil-stained box in the trash. Done, Part II.

8. Pizza re-heats relatively well.

  Just throw it in the microwave and get that thing ramped up until the grease is popping and sizzling. Tastes almost like it was fresh. (Unless some fool ordered a topping that doesn’t perform well during the second act, like extra tomatoes or the mystifying pineapple pieces. Those things have some type of satanic acid in them that leave wet spots that don’t win any awards. Then again, wet spots are never pleasing, whether in crust or bed linens. Avoid the noid, sayin.)

9. In fact, pizza doesn’t even have to be re-heated, if the conditions are right.

  You’ve been out partying deep into the night, with your friends taking you to skanky bars where you might have flirted with a person or twelve, it’s not clear, too many Banana Boinker shots. Somehow you’ve made it back to the house without police intervention, and now you’re standing in front of the open fridge, swaying a bit, bleary eyes trying to focus on something that might soak up the sloshiness in your belly. And you spot a slightly dried-out slice. You go, girl!

10. Pizza can stop annoying disputes in your family.

  Billy Bob:  “Mom! Sally just threw my model airplane into the ceiling fan and one of the flying pieces knocked over Granny Mae’s urn!”

  Sally Sue: “But, MOM! Billy tried to drown my Sarah Palin Barbie doll in the toilet and now it won’t flush!”

  Mom, medicated: “Don’t worry about it, sweeties. The pizza is here!”

  Two seconds later, the only sounds in the house are chewing, gulping, and grease dripping off chins. Mom smiles and goes into the den to watch a little TV in peace. She’s fully aware that the hurricane of sibling rivalry will return soon, but in the meantime she needs to catch her some Oprah

Friday, March 16, 2012

25 Things I Would Be Doing on a Friday Night If It Was Still 1984

1. Trying to stonewash my own jeans, using bleach, because buying the real thing was too damn expensive. (And failing miserably with the home-school fashion update, effectively destroying the jeans and having to come up with the money to buy more…)

2. Playing quarters with my college peeps, never pausing to consider that it was probably the most unhealthy drinking game ever invented, and then not understanding why we all got the flu at the same time.

3. Wondering if Madonna will ever be able to do anything to top the “Like A Virgin” performance at the MTV Awards, where she rolled her ass around on stage in a wedding dress. Little did we know that she was just embarking on her mission of world domination and startling couture.

4. Wearing a polo shirt inside a button-down dress shirt, flipping the inside collar over the outside collar,  and thinking I was beyond cool, even if I was actually burning up and sweating to death.

5. Watching “16 Candles” and thinking that the scene where Molly Ringwald gets both the hot guy AND birthday cake while sitting on a dining room table, as a Thompson Twins song plays in the background, was the most romantic thing ever.

6. Watching Tina Turner and her enormous hair suddenly become popular again, managing to pick up several awards and a mystifying British accent somewhere along the line.

7. Learning, courtesy of Michael Jackson, that excessive amounts of hair product and shooting flames don’t work well together, especially if people are dancing and singing about drinking Pepsi.

8. Listening to the “Purple Rain” soundtrack for the 712th time, unaware that my relationship with Prince would one day change when he decided to wear those butt-less leotard pants.

9. Watching the Wham! Video for “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” and really, really wanting one of those “Choose Life” t-shirts.

10. Running as fast as I could away from anyone sporting a mullet, although many of my relatives were felled by this horrible grooming choice. (“Business in the front, party in the back” is a slogan for a whorehouse, not a hairstyle, sayin.)

11. Wondering why people were still watching the “Dallas” TV Show. Didn’t they already shoot that one guy?

12. Listening to Chaka Khan’s “I Feel For You”, and being surprised that she could feel anything after all those drugs.

13. Still suffering emotional after-effects from watching the glorious “Grease” duo of John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John re-team in that wretched “Twist Of Fate” movie mess that disappointed everyone in the bleachers at Rydell High.

14. Wondering how in the hell voters could have re-elected a Republican president who lied about things, re-directed huge amounts of money to his rich buddies, tried to destroy the middle class, and had a questionable past relationship with a cinematic monkey. Little did we know that, deep in the heart of Texas, a drunken shrub thought that sounded like a lot of fun and was taking notes…

15. Learning how to do all the “Footloose” choreography, so I could be just like Kevin Bacon and rescue the music-deprived youngsters of a small town just by using interpretive dance…

16. Sneaking our underage asses into the only decent gay bar in town, because all the hip people knew that they played the best music. And there would always be pretty lights.

17. Learning, courtesy of Vanessa Williams, that if you want to keep your crown as Miss America, you probably shouldn’t be waving your hoo-hoo around in artsy black-and-white photos.

18. Watching Mary Lou Retton win 400 gold medals in gymnastics at the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, and watching Torvill and Dean at the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo as they made ice-dancing the coolest thing on the planet for a few weeks.

19. Ignoring my friends as they babbled about this little movie called “Ghostbusters” that I should go see. I chose instead to sit through the 46-hour “Amadeus”. All I remember is Tom Hulce laughing and lots of powdered wigs.

20. Sitting around and watching the news, stunned that Elton John has just married a woman.

21. Getting fed up with those idiots that were still running around bellowing “Disco sucks!” despite the fact that disco had already flat-lined years before.

22. Watching Culture Club’s “Karma Chameleon” video and realizing that London was obviously a much more interesting place than Tulsa, Oklahoma.

23. Wearing nylon parachute pants that had more pockets and zippers than I had sense.

24. Discussing with friends this new-fangled music thing called a “CD”, and all of us agreeing that the format would never make it because it didn’t come with a really big album cover that you could stare at while recreational drugs kicked in.

25. Going to a frat party on campus, becoming acquainted with something called a beer bong, getting a bit carried away, things start to spin, best friends suddenly abandon you because a really cute guy just wandered in wearing loafers that have coins shoved in that odd little pocket over the toes, you trip over the cord to the phone because nobody knew wireless from squat back then, and you rip out the crotch of your fake stone-washed jeans as you tumble to the floor and the Eurythmics’ “1984” blares in the background.

  Ah, memories.

Friday, March 2, 2012

10 Flashbacks to Childhood Candy in the 70’s

1. Lik-A-Stix

  So you had this thing with three connected pouches, filled with what was essentially flavored sugar, and then this long, flat “stick” that looked like somebody had stepped on a piece of chalk. You took the stick, you picked a pouch, and you shoved said stick into the powdery goodness until it was nicely coated. Then you went after that stick with your mouth like you were trying out for the sequel of “Debbie Does Dallas”.

  This was great fun until the powder levels got too low in the pouches, and then your stick would present you with increasingly-disappointing levels of pure energy. Which meant, of course, that you would then have to up-end the pouches into your desperate mouth, because we were not about to waste any of that mess. Trouble is, being children, we were relatively uncoordinated and the powder would get everywhere, all over our faces, making us look like clowns on crack.

2. Now and Laters

  These were like little squares of especially resilient taffy that came individually-wrapped in a little row of packaging which advertised that the contents contained candy jewels that would last forever. This was a fascinating concept to the childhood mind. Something sweet that you could eat for the rest of your life? I must immediately snatch up one of these packages and pester Mommy about it until she gives in.

  And, somewhat true to the promised duration of the sugary pleasure, it did indeed take some time to get these things down, unless you happened to have jaws of steel or simply didn’t bother to chew things before swallowing. You would chew for a bit, suck for a bit while your aching baby teeth rested, and then chew some more. Sometimes you would eventually succeed with consumption, other times you would get bored and just chunk the gooey wad under the couch.

3. Wax Lips

  These little items were exactly that, hunks of “edible” wax manipulated to look like human lips. Well, lips that had taken a dip in the collagen pool a time or two. We would shove these things in our mouths and then run around pretending to be somebody else, like movie stars or cheerleaders. Trouble is, you couldn’t really talk when you had the wax in your mouth. Or breathe, actually. So the entertainment factor was somewhat limited after about three minutes.

  Yes, you could theoretically eat them, but no one really enjoyed this angle very much, as the flavor was comparable to chewing on an unscented candle, and just as pointless. More castoffs for the candy graveyard under the couch.

4. Pop Rocks

  Despite the enticing rumors, Mikey the Cereal Boy did not perish whilst consuming this treat, although it was great fun to contemplate candy that could kill. And while the candy, once placed in the mouth, did not quite reach the supposed explosive results that were hinted at in advertising, there was definitely something going on, creating a mildly-startling semblance of crackling and movement, thusly keeping children occupied for a good few minutes and leaving them satisfied.

  Unless you were one of those little urchins who suddenly discovered that you did not care, at all, for the sensation of something unholy squirming about on your tongue. Who knows how often the insides of a wood-paneled station wagon were rudely coated with Pop Rocks residue when an unpleased child could not get the window rolled down fast enough.

5. Gold Nugget Bubble Gum

  After forking over your coinage, you were presented with a little white fabric pouch, with its very own drawstring, containing bits of coated chewing gum that had been processed by some machine to look like something somebody found in one of those gold rushes back in the day. This was a win-win situation, as not only did you get something you could chew annoyingly for an extended amount of time (something children cherish), but you also had a clever tiny satchel wherein you could later stash small objects of great value to your young mind.

  Downside? There was something wrong with the flavor of that gum. And some of the “nuggets” were tiny little bits of relative nothing, so you often had to use up half the bag to get a decent chew. And since now everybody had a treasure bag for holding miniscule cherished keepsakes, bags that looked exactly the same, mistakes would often be made about which bag belonged to whom, thusly resulting in intense, heated sibling altercations that would last for years to come.

6. Laffy Taffy

  Yet another entry in the “how else can we make a buck off of essentially the same candy” line of product promotion. I was personally disappointed at this particular effort. Yes, it was candy, so of course I would eat it, because God wanted me to do so. But still, the advertising for this product, in the form of jovial cartoon fruits, gave the impression that I would laugh hysterically with each bite. This did not happen. Instead, I just chewed. A lot.

7. Candy Cigarettes

  This one is kind of a shock, reflecting back. But these things were all the rage in the decade of plaid polyester. Hey kids, guess what? You can have your very own pack of cigarettes, just like Mom and Dad! Okay, yes, you can’t actually light these little tubes of compressed sugar, but we took the time to add a little bit of pink coloring to one end so you can pretend that they are burning. Now run out and buy a pack so you can psychologically train for a future addiction!

8. Chuckles

  These were basically square gum drops, although they did have a more robust sugar coating and a somewhat stronger flavor. And they were certainly colorful. But again, I was disappointed at the advertising promise of instant jocularity, this time in the form of a manic clown. Sadly, I did not laugh whilst consuming, I only gained weight that forced Mom to shop in the “husky” section of Wal-Mart. And that clown ended up being something you yelled your order toward at the local franchise of a drive-thru restaurant.

9. Bazooka Gum

  These little squares of long-term chewiness were accompanied by your very own tiny comic strip, a little thing you could fold out and peruse as the sugar hit your bloodstream and eventually convinced you to act inappropriately and get yelled at by adult people. Most of the jokes in the strips were amazingly lame, but as a budding scholar, I appreciated any gift of literature I might receive. But what the hell was up with that weird chalky coating on those little squares of gum? Something wasn’t right there.

10. Blow-Pops

  This was a mind-blowing creation at the time. Listen up, you screaming and hyperventilating little urchins, we have a double candy for you. We start off with a lovely flavored sucker. Yes, it’s a little big for some of your mouths, and it has that odd, protruding band around the equator that feels a little strange on your tongue and can catch on your teeth. But that’s because we’ve hidden an extra special prize inside. Sugar-drenched, chemically-altered bubble gum!

  So get to suckin’, tiny tater tots. And eventually you will reach the treasure within. Sure, we should have realized that some of you wouldn’t be able to wait, and would start chewing on the sucker before the proper time, making it feel like you’re trying to ingest broken glass in a tar ball, but hey, bad things can happen when you’re unsupervised because your parents are stoned and watching “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman” in the other room. The room with the swag lamps, the shag carpet and a TV that only has three channels. And a crushed-velvet couch with an amazing amount of discarded candy globs underneath it.