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Music Monday – Week of October 29

 

Music Monday

US Top 40 Singles for the Week Ending October 29, 1983
In honor of Spooktober 2018, we have two playlists for you today. First, our regular countdown from 1983. Bonnie Tyler finally relinquishes the top spot to Kenny and Dolly.

Second, we have another 80’s themed Halloween playlist. This week? HAIR NATION!

 

Retro Rerun Review: Fifteen

 

Welcome back to Retro Rerun Rewind! This week, I’m reviewing the classic Canadian teen drama Fifteen. Do you think I meant to say Degrassi? Because this isn’t Degrassi. This is Fifteen. 

The Show: Fifteen (known as Hillside in Canada)

Ran for: 4 seasons. 65 episodes aired between 1991 and 1993.

What it’s About: Well, Canadian teens doing Canadian Teen Things, of course. It was a teen soap about kids at a school— Hillside School, obviously— and the serious things teens have to deal with: drugs, divorce, dating, drinking, maple syrup shortages, moose attacks.

My Relationship with It: Until I started compiling a list of shows for this column, I had never heard of Fifteen. At all. I mentioned it offhand to a friend at work, though, and she practically punched me in the mouth in her unbridled excitement. “Fifteen?! I LOVED THAT SHOW! GAAAAHhHHHHHAH!!” She exclaimed punchily as she punched the air in an excited manner. So, if you were rich enough to have Nickelodeon in the early 90s like Jessica, maybe you knew and loved Fifteen. Not me, though.

This Episode: Season 1, Episode 8— “Lean on Me.”

So the theme song sounds like it was composed by a robot built to specifically write music for late 80s/early 90s television shows. It is great. And instead of showing the actor’s name during the opening credits, it shows the character’s name. That’s weird. Also, they all have very generic names. Dylan, Brooke, Theresa, Ashley, Matt. And you know who plays Billy, right? You guessed it, it’s Ryan Reynolds. Rad.

It starts with Cindy the Environmentalist hanging up a poster about saving the earth and then getting really bitchy with someone who says hello to her. I’m already confused. Why is Cindy like this? Is there a history here? Maybe I shouldn’t have started in the eighth episode. Anyway, that scene just like… ends.

Now we’re at a diner— maybe it’s The Max! Maybe Slater will show up and say something super sexist! A small boy in a poofy red shirt named Jake is talking to a very whispery blonde girl. The blonde girl is worried about someone’s drinking problem. (Okay, the quiet blonde is Ashley, and she is worried about her boyfriend Matt.) Anyway, it is established that: 1) Ashley shouldn’t be talking to Jake, 2) Jake should talk to Matt because they are best friends, and 3) Ashley hasn’t done homework in a number of days. Neither one touches their milk; he doesn’t touch his something-that-looks-like-a-cinnamon roll, and I swear to God, I have no idea what is even supposed to be on her plate.

Back at Hillside, the girl who was yelled at by the environmentalist is still at the table, perhaps paralyzed with fear. A plainly dressed boy with floppy hair approaches and makes disparaging remarks about the environmental poster, then says he is getting bad marks in science and if he doesn’t course correct, will not be able to go to “the concert.” I can’t tell if the girl with the book cares or not. No one in this show seems to really like each other or even care that they are all in the same television show.

Okay, so then we learn that she’s sort of miffed because floppy hair kissed her a few days ago and then acted like it never happened. Oh, and not only that, but then when she went over to his garage a few days later, she saw that Brooke was there. Damn. But floppy haired boy swears that Brooke has the hots for a boy in the 12th grade. Then he storms off.

ENTER RYAN REYNOLDS. He looks like the epitome of 1991. it is quickly established that he is this girl’s brother. Exposition is given that they don’t see each other that often anymore, though, now that they live in “different places.” Double damn.

Ryan Reynolds explains that he’ll need to stay at their mom’s this coming weekend because dad, who he lives with, is out of town, but then sister is like, “why don’t we stay at dad’s instead, we can throw a party,” and Ryan Reynolds starts to try to talk her out of it, but then a nameless teen with cool soccer-guy hair walks by and says, “oh, you’re throwing a party this weekend? Cool!” and, well, there you go.

In the locker room, we learn that the guy who overheard about the party is the potential lush, Matt. He’s chatting with his best friend Jake who is still wearing his poofy red shirt. Jake is fiddling with his shoes and complaining about push ups, or something, when he decides it is time to go ahead and accuse his friend of being a drunk. I feel like this will go well.

In response to Jake expressing his concern, Matt says, and I am not kidding about this, “I AM A BIG BOY, GET OFF MY CASE,” and he storms out of the locker room. Jake tries to slam his locker shut but it bounces back open which you can tell was an accident.

Now we’re in the hallway and here’s Brooke and she runs into Matt and asks if he’s heard about the party. I’m not sure what the point of this scene was, exactly, but Brooke looks like a hotter version of Molly Ringwald so I’m totally OK with it.

The environmentalist approaches and she is ranting about all of the paper the school wastes. She is making a scene and she looks like a lunatic. (Side bar: why do they make environmentalists so aggressively unlikable on television shows? Can’t we all agree that we SHOULD care about the environment, and a good first step is to make the characters who are passionate about it less annoying? Great job, Hollywood.) Anyway, now she’s bitching about tuna fish sandwiches. I really, really detest this girl. A handsome dork joins her and also begins complaining about tuna fish. A crowd is watching.

The handsome dork is named Olaf, and Brooke and Matt make fun of him for being from Norway though I’m not sure how you’re supposed to believe them because he does not have any sort of accent whatsoever. The crowd disperses and the environmentalist girl calls everyone “zipperheads” which, I don’t know, could be very insulting in Canada.

Now we’re back at The Not Max, and Dylan is pensively writing song lyrics. God, I hope he shares them with us!!! Brooke is there, and she wants to see them, but he won’t let her. She sits down to talk and he finds out that she broke up with the older boy. He’s very moody and I don’t think he cares. She says, “there IS someone I’m interested in, though.” Dun-dun-DUNNN! And just like that, he is coerced into asking her to the party.

Later, Ol’ Floppy Haired Dylan is back at the school (these kids all seem to come and go an awful lot) and he runs into Ryan Reynolds’ sister, who I just realized is dressed like Laura Ingalls Wilder. She asks him if he is coming to her party, and he acts really rock star about it, but I think he’s basically onboard. He grimaces and says, “I’ve gotta run.” He looks constipated. All of these people look constipated, actually.

Little House rounds the corner and runs into Hot Molly Ringwald. She starts telling her about how Dylan is taking her to the party. FINALLY it feels like something exciting is happening. Then Little House leaves and Ryan Reynolds comes up. And please, let’s just pause for a moment and enjoy his shirt.

Wow.

Then Hot Molly Ringwald points out that Olaf, the handsome environmentalist, is sitting quietly in the corner by himself. Seriously. That’s what he’s doing. He’s sitting there, by himself. He’s waiting for someone to play chess with him, I guess. He talks to Ryan Reynolds and the whole scene is very… uncomfortable. Ryan Reynolds is acting—and I’m not trying to be funny here, because it is not really a funny thing— like Olaf has previously done something to him. Something molesty, perhaps. I really don’t know what’s happening anymore.

Now we’re back at the diner— dear God, will this ever end— and Little House is talking to Poofy Shirt. He has been to the diner twice today, at least that we are aware of. She is blathering on about Dylan and she’s like, “of course he doesn’t like me, why would ANY guy like me,” and Poofster is all, “lots of guys like you,” and she’s all, “name one,” and he gets all squinty eyed, like a diminutive, Canadian Clint Eastwood, and he says that maybe he does.

Little House leaves as Poofy Shirt tries unsuccessfully to profess his love, and here comes the crazy environmentalist girl, and I swear to God, if this scene doesn’t end with her choking to death on a mini corndog, I’m smashing my computer with a hammer. She sits down and starts talking about her favorite Canadian football team the goddamned environment, of course. She notices Poofy Shirt’s drawing of a frog (?) and gushes about how much she loves it.

In the next scene, we’re FINALLY somewhere other than the school or that godforsaken diner. It’s a shack in the middle of a junk yard!!! Sweet!

Apparently this is where Dylan and his Canuck Good Time Boys Band practices. He’s sitting there with a guitar that I’m pretty sure doesn’t have strings. He’s talking to Ryan Reynolds about Ryan’s sister. Then Dylan asks him to take his math homework back to school the next day because he’s not going. “I think I’m gonna skip school and just practice.” Then he kicks Ryan Reynolds out. This is how serious he is about rocking— he’s too busy to hand in his homework. (He’ll do it, he just can’t be bothered to return it.)

Back at the diner, we’re in a different booth than normal and the whispery blonde is whispering her concern to Matt about his drinking. He gets pissed. It’s a mercifully short scene.

And now we’re back at the junkyard rock shack. Dylan— who has been in the same blue t-shirt for several days now—is talking to Brooke. She’s getting on him about skipping school. He changes the subject to “I heard we’re dating, what’s going on there?” And she says, “are we?” And he starts approaching her and his hands are all cramped up for some reason like he has severe arthritis. I think they might kiss, but he also might try to hockey-fight her.

Okay, nope, they kiss, and the sound is nauseating. It sounds like a fat hand smacking a wet roast. And then it’s over. That’s it. That’s the end of the episode.

There is no party. The environmentalist doesn’t self-immolate to protest the cafeteria’s use of plastic forks. Little House doesn’t burst into the shack and murder suicide Dylan, Brooke and herself.

I feel, in short, horribly let down.

Would I Watch Another Episode?: God, no. Okay, well, for money. Pay me $200 and I will reluctantly watch another episode of his terrible program. It was just so bad. The acting was hideous, the scenes were extremely slow and uninteresting, the writing was plodding and tedious. When it comes to Canadian teen dramas, I’ll stick with Degrassi, thanks.

Grade: 2/10

Best of Retro Ramblings 2017

Another year has passed here at Retro Ramblings, and what a fun year it has been.  I’ve personally had a lot of fun putting together the articles that have been published here this year, and loads of fun going through old magazines and catalogs looking for great old ads to share with everyone.  I’ve had a LOT of new visitors who seem to have enjoyed a lot of what we’ve done as well.  I thought during this slow week of the year between Christmas and the new year, I’d stop for a moment to reflect on all the new content that has went up, and see what what was read and shared the most.  Maybe you somehow missed these popular posts, so here is your chance to check them out if you haven’t already done so, or maybe you will just want to check them out again.  So here are the top five posts from the year that was 2017 on Retro Ramblings.

 

 

Pizza Hut Interior

01.  Back When Pizza Hut Was An Experience

For a long time, I had thought back to the glory days of my childhood and how much I missed the experience that was a trip to our local Pizza Hut with the family.  I sat down and put all those memories together for this article, and it turned into the longest piece I have done on the site.  Once it went live, it took off and went viral.  As it turns out, many people besides myself also lament the good old days of Pizza Hut.

 

Wendy's Superbar

02.  Why Wendy’s Ain’t Like It Used To Be

Following on the heels of the article, Back When Pizza Hut Was An Experience, I looked back on another fast food establishment that I used to love visiting with the family when I was a kid.  So much has changed about Wendy’s through the years that it is almost a completely different place today.

 

03.  Vintage Holiday Recipes From 1967

While browsing through an old issue of McCall’s magazine from 1967, I came across this wonderful insert of recipes featuring popular brands of the day.  I scanned in all the pages, and added comments to each picture, and it turned out that a lot of folks loved seeing these old recipes.  Even though this post went live in the last month of the year, it skyrocketed to the top of the charts here on the site.  The power of sharing of Facebook is amazing.

 

04.  What You Didn’t Know About Your Favorite 80’s Cartoons

I sat down and did some research into cartoons of the 80’s, and was finding all kinds of little known info, so I put all those tidbits together and came up with 30 things you may not have known about your favorite one.  Like, did you know that in early concept designs, He-Man and She-Ra were written as lovers instead of siblings?  Crazy, I know.

 

05.  My Five Favorite G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero Episodes

Back in the spring, Jason Gross from Rediscover the 80’s and myself partnered up to look at our ten favorite episodes of the series, with each of us posting about five episodes on each of our sites in a special crossover event.  The results were great, as a lot of people bounced back and forth between our two sites to check out each list.  G.I. Joe was one of my favorite cartoons, so it was a blast putting the list together, and I love Jason’s work, so it was a win all the way around.

 

According to the statistics, there is the best Retro Ramblings had to offer this year.  Stats aren’t always everything, so I’d love to hear from you as well.  What was your favorite thing we put up on the site this year?  Or what did you think was the best?  Let me know in the comments below.

Retro Revival Blog Challenge: Forgotten Food and Dining Experiences

Each week on Monday, I post a new topic here on Retro Ramblings.  The topics will be centered mostly around a retro theme to get your mind going back in time a little bit.  Anyone who is interested, and has a blog, website, YouTube channel, or social media account can contribute to the weekly topic, and respond by the following Sunday.  Once the article, blog post, video, or whatever is posted, the writer must leave a comment on the topic page along with a URL to his/her article.

If you are posting a response via social media, be sure to tag it with the hashtag, #RetroRevival (and you may also want to tag me on Twitter @yesterdayville) to ensure that I don’t miss it.

Every blog that contributes to the weekly topic should include links to some of the other contributing sites.  This is optional, but the more people who do this, the more traffic will be generated for all of us.  There is a distinct advantage to getting your post up earlier in the week, but don’t feel like you need to rush your post.

This Week’s Topic

This week, I thought it would be fun to go back in time and talk about some food item that you miss from years ago, or some fast food item that is no longer available, or even some kind of restaurant or dining experience that just isn’t the same anymore.  I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with.  Myself, I’ll be putting something up later this week about how Pizza Hut just isn’t like it used to be.

Be sure to keep checking back here as I’ll be adding links to all the entries to this post.

If you have any more questions about the Retro Revival Blog Challenge, check out our page here for more info.

Participants This Week:

2 Minute Toy Break looks back when you could smoke in restaurants
Mr. Smith’s Plastic Hideaway looks back at some of his favorite local restaurants, and expounds on his Dad’s homemade breakfast.

Ms. Pac-man Arcade Game

Mrs. Pac-Man

What do you give the video game that has everything? The original Pac-Man was all that a good arcade game should be easy to learn, difficult to master, incredibly addictive. Machines became choked on quarters as players plunked down coin after coin to keep munching those glowing dots. But not even millions of dollars in revenue could buy that little yellow fellow the one thing he lacked: love. So, one year later, Bally/Midway created Ms. Pac-Man.

In reality, Ms. Pac-Man was designed to address a few concerns about the original. First were the Pac-maniacs who had managed to memorize unbeatable patterns, allowing them to play for hours on a single quarter. Ms. Pac-Man fixed that little quirk by making its four ghosts – Inky, Pinky, Blinky and Sue (filling in for Clyde) smarter and therefore deadlier. The new game also featured four different mazes, each with different side exit locations, adding to the challenge for veteran gamers.

The second concern was that video game players were still predominantly male. Ms. Pac-Man’s saucy good looks were designed to change all that. The yellow, round, missing-slice body remained intact, but the Ms. knew how to accessorize-bright red lipstick, cheek mole and a red bow on top (along with a single eye, one more than her male counterpart). The game’s new look was also reflected in the brighter graphics, which changed color schemes with each new maze.

Mrs. Pac-Man

Gameplay, of course, remained the same. Ms. Pac-Man chomped her way through a maze of dots, pursued by the four ghosts. The four energizer pellets turned the tables on the spirits, allowing our hero a limited amount of time in which she could chomp them into temporary oblivion. Once a maze was cleared of dots, a new one began, occasionally preceded by an inter-act animated retelling of the Pac-Man/Ms. Pac-Man romance.

The only other major change was in the nature of the bonus fruit. Instead of sitting invitingly in the center of the maze, Ms. Pac-Man’s treats – cherry, strawberry, peach, pretzel, apple and more – bounced around the field, playing hard to get.

The changes may have appeared minor…some technical, some cosmetic, but they made a world of difference. Ms. Pac-Man carried on the Pac-Man family name with pride, becoming a mammoth success in its own right. Of all the Pac-Man games (and there were many), this is the one most likely to still be plugged in and ready to play in a small corner of your local arcade. She may not have been first, but in the minds of many Pac-fans, this little lady will always be the best.

Do You Remember Tom Corbett, Space Cadet?

Tom Corbett Space Cadet

As television rose to prominence in the early 1950’s, it provided a new entertainment frontier for science fiction to conquer. The result was a flood of sci-fi shows like Captain Video, Space Patrol, and the ever-popular Tom Corbett, Space Cadet. Tom Corbett began his life as a character in Robert Heinlein’s 1948 novel Space Cadet. Two years later, he received his own 15-minute television show. That program’s success inspired a wide-range of tie-in items that included eight novels, a line of comic books, Halloween costumes, and (of course) plenty of toys.

Tom Corbett, Space Cadet stood apart from other space operas of the time because its main character was a teen. Since the show’s kid viewers identified with Tom, it was natural that they would want to re-enact his adventures at the Space Academy when playtime rolled around. Toy manufacturers picked up on this and produced a large assortment of toys for budding space cadets to snap up. Like many shows of its era, Tom Corbett, Space Cadet made toys available for its fans both at toy stores and as premium items available by mail or inside cereal boxes.

Tom Corbett Space Cadet SHip

Premium toys included rocket balloons, a membership kit that came complete with a decoder, a cardboard helmet with a one-way plastic “viewport,” and space goggles. One of the most amusing premium items was a set of ‘Space-O-Phones,’ a futuristic-looking plastic update of the ‘tin-can telephones’ that had been popular with kids for decades. There were also Tom Corbett, Space Cadet premiums that fans could get by purchasing the item they came with, like the free Space Rings inside boxes of Pep Cereal.

In the toy stores, Corbett fanatics could treat themselves to an array of space gadgetry. The coolest of these by far were the colorful, handsomely designed ray gun toys. There was the Space Cadet Sparkling Gun, a tommy-gun-like toy that spat sparks, and the Atomic Pistol, which let out a beam of light and made a buzzing noise when fired. Other interstellar weaponry included the Space Gun and the Space Rifle. The latter looked like a comic book weapon brought to life, making it a prized find for sci-fi toy collectors today.

Tom Corbett Space Cadet Sparkling Gun

Tom Corbett, Space Cadet ended its successful run in 1955, and the toy line was retired around that time. No attempts have been made to revive the show since then, but the popularity of the show and the merchandise it inspired live on today. Corbett merchandise, especially the prized toy ray guns, regularly changes hands among collectors and traders. The continued popularity of these toys is easy to understand—as long as people have a soft spot for the sci-fi shows that fired their imaginations as children, there will always be room on the collector’s shelf for Tom Corbett, Space Cadet.