Sony Walkman

•May 26, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Once upon a time, someone invented a way to carry your music with you…a small, portable player that meant you no longer had to schlep a huge boombox, or, worse yet, resign yourself to just listening to dad’s old transistor radio.

Just plug in some headphones, and presto!— music on your hip. It was compact and lightweight and cool as all get-out.

No, not an iPod or iPhone, you ridiculous millennials. We speak, of course, of perhaps the greatest invention of the 80s. (Sure, there was the Space Shuttle and the artificial heart, but come on— compare those with something that lets you take your copy of the Footloose soundtrack around with you all day? Puh-leeeze.)

First hitting US stores in 1980—after a roll-out in Japan six months earlier—the Walkman (originally known as the Soundabout) was an instant hit, and almost overnight it became as ubiquitous as the VCR. It was just assumed that everyone had one. “Headin’ to the mall, dude! Grab your Walkman, and I’ll pick you up in my MR-2!”

Sony’s original sales estimates projected around 5,000 units would be sold in the first few months.

Try 50,000.

In 1983 sales of cassette tapes outpaced sales of vinyl for the first time in history. And we have to think the Walkman played at least a small role in that.

In 1986 the world “Walkman” was added to the Oxford English Dictionary.

The Walkman, of course, would go on to birth the Discman in 1984, the awesome yellow Sports Walkman in 1988, and the MP3 version in 2004.

And, yes, Steve Jobs cited the Walkman as his chief inspiration for the iPod. He just wanted to make HIS portable music player cleaner and neater and smaller.

Eh, we’ll take the Walkman any day. Preferably with bass boost. LOVE that bass boost.

We ♥ the Sony Walkman.

Pop Up Playhouse

•May 25, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Looking back at our favorite decade, we often think fondly of popping a tape in our Walkman, cuddling up with our Teddy Ruxpin or Cabbage Patch Kid, or maybe even sitting down on Saturday mornings for a few hours of cartoons…but there was one thing that seemed to brighten our day more than almost anything else.

Of course we’re talking about building a fort.

We somehow cobbled together pillows, bedspreads, card tables, and chairs to magically create our little corner of happiness.

So imagine our delight when Fisher-Price debuted the Pop Up Playhouse in 1987, and all of a sudden the work was done for us!

It came pre-decorated with a glorious ‘Keep Out’ sign painted on it as a warning for our nosy little siblings, and the flap door gave us just enough privacy to make us feel we were off in our own little world. Plus moms loved it, too, since it folded up as easy as pie and hung flat in the hall closet. Genius!

Of course in the years to come, the Pop Up Playhouse spawned all kinds of rip-offs and imitators, but we’ll always remember the best and the original…

We ♥ Fisher Price’s Pop Up Playhouse.

9 1/2 Weeks

•May 24, 2017 • Leave a Comment

“How does it feel like to be out of control?”

Back in February 1986, a new movie hit theaters, rife with sex, sex, and more sex. How do we know? Because, friends, we are children of the 80s, and when 9 1/2 Weeks arrived, we felt like we arrived too. Call it our coming-of-age flick—— a soft porn, high-trash (yes it was trash) masterpiece that opened our eyes to all kinds of carnal goings-on.

Long before Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele burned things up in Fifty Shades of Grey, we had Kim Basinger as art gallery owner Elizabeth McGraw and Mickey Rourke as Wall Streeter John Gray (coincidental last name?) involved in one of cinema’s most destructive and passionate relationships.

…all because of that pretty little scarf he bought for her.

Before long Elizabeth was getting blindfolded, dressing like a man for a particularly odd (and disastrous) date with John, and of course, doing that whole super-erotic taste-testing thing set to “Bread and Butter”. Thanks, 9 1/2 Weeks, for never letting us hear THAT song the same way ever again.

Director Adrian Lyne would survive the lambasting that 9 1/2 Weeks took (and man, did it get shellacked by critics) and return the following year with Fatal Attraction (which we ♥), but we’ll always remember it as one of our favorite movies to watch (secretly) with our friends at sleepovers.

Does that make us dirty? Or just a normal kid of the 80s? Or both?

We ♥ 9 1/2 Weeks.

DeLorean DMC-12

•May 23, 2017 • Leave a Comment

“Wait a minute…Wait a minute, Doc…Are you telling me you built a time machine out of a DeLorean?”

Yes, Marty, because, as the Doc says, “If you’re gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style!”

In 1981 the DeLorean Motor Company introduced a new car. It was the only model DMC would ever make, but man…was it awesome.

The DMC-12 came in one color (silver), one style (2-door coupe), and had one kind of doors (the oh-so-amazing gull-wing). It cost in the neighborhood of $25,000, and it had a radio antenna that didn’t really work, but it went from 0-60 in just over 8 seconds.

It was a snazzy looking car, sure, but not enough of them were sold for DMC to break even, so within a year the company declared bankruptcy. (Of course, the fact that founder John DeLorean was busted -though later acquitted- in an FBI undercover drug trafficking sting didn’t help). And just like that… POOF! that was the end of the DMC-12.

Until…

On Fourth of July weekend 1985 a new movie called Back to the Future hit theaters. In case you haven’t seen it (or were dropped on your head as a child), it featured a time machine built into a DeLorean DMC-12. And just like that… POOF! the car was on everyone’s wish list. Too bad they stopped rolling off the assembly line three years earlier.

These days the DMC-12 is as synonymous with the 80s as Madonna, shoulder pads, and Teddy Ruxpin. And the cars themselves have started making a comeback too.

They’re set you back about 100-grand, but that seems like a small price to pay for an iconic piece of our favorite decade. Flux Capacitor not included.

We ♥ the DeLorean DMC-12.

The Next Time I Fall

•May 22, 2017 • Leave a Comment

“Love…like a road that never ends. How it leads me back again, to heartache I’ll never understand…”

In early 1986 songwriter Bobby Caldwell showed his friend Peter Cetera (recently split from his almost two-decade tenure with Chicago) a song he’d written with pal Paul Gordon. The song was a melancholy ballad about lost love and regret called “The Next Time I Fall”, and Cetera liked it instantly. Though it was written as a solo piece, Cetera thought it might work better as a duet, and he had the idea of singing it with a lesser-known (or completely unknown) female singer whose career he could help launch.

At the time Amy Grant was virtually ignored in mainstream pop-dom, but in the world of Christian Contemporary music, she was revered as the Queen. Cetera was understandably leery at first, but after hearing her voice, he was sold.

And one of the most popular duets of the 80s was born.

The song became an instant staple of lovey-dovey high school kids everywhere during late 1986, and it climbed all the way to #1 for a week in December.

As for the video…

…we’re still not sure what ballroom dance rehearsal has to do with the song, but as long as Cetera could look like a mid-80s GQ model, and Grant could sit pensively in a window——well…all was good.

“The Next Time I Fall” would be Cetera’s last #1 hit, but his plan to launch a “new” singer paid off well for Grant, who would go on to have four more songs reach the top-10 in the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Amen!

“I will know better why…the next time I try.”

We ♥ The Next Time I Fall.

Aliens

•May 19, 2017 • Leave a Comment

“We’d better get back, ’cause it’ll be dark soon, and they mostly come at night… mostly.”

Ah, the story of a mother simply trying to save her race. That’s really what Aliens is all about, right?

Sure, it just so happens that the mother in question is a horrifying creature from another planet who happens to lay her eggs in the chest cavities of humans, but we won’t dwell on that.

And okay, okay…when those children are born, they burst out of a living person’s chest, killing them. Excellent.

But a mother’s gotta do, what a mother’s gotta do.

The first in a long, long series of movies, Alien burst (pun intended) onto the scene in 1979 just before our favorite decade began, but fear not. We got the sequel all to ourselves, and yes, the fabulous Ms. Sigourney Weaver was back in the role that put her on the map. This time she’s got a new crew ripe to be decimated by new aliens with new small alien babies they’re trying to keep safe.

Filled with even more gore than its predecessor, Aliens terrified audiences when it hit theaters in 1986. The hulking aliens crept through hallways and tunnels on a new ship, but their goal was just the same. Their species lives, ours doesn’t. Thankfully Ripley knew enough from her first go-around to just kill the things once and for all (at least, she thought).

Relative newcomer James Cameron (heard of him?) was picked by Fox to not only write the script to actually direct, following his success helming The Terminator. And though Aliens is a sci-fi horror film, it didn’t stop Cameron from including some incredible shots and making it a little bit of cinematic greatness. In fact, it was nominated for seven Oscars (including Weaver for Best Actress), and it won two: Visual Effects and Sound Effects Editing. On top of that, 1986 wrapped with Aliens in the #7 spot at the yearly box office, earning $85 million.

It may have scared our pants off as kids (and really, we’ll never look at chest pains the same way again), but that didn’t stop us from loving it. And oh, how we loved it!

“Get away from her, you bitch!”

We ♥ Aliens.

The Release of the American Hostages

•May 18, 2017 • Leave a Comment

444 days.

For 444 days, a group of 52 Americans had been held hostage in Iran after a group of militant students stormed the US Embassy in Tehran November 4, 1979. President Jimmy Carter had tried everything he could to secure their release, but in the end, it was simply the transfer of power from him to Ronald Reagan that ended the crisis (along with $8 billion in unfrozen Iranian assets…but we won’t quibble about that).

January 20, 1981, was one of those days that we children of the 80s (even if we were too young to fully comprehend what was going on) will always remember. For well over a year, the talk around the dinner table and in the newspapers (remember those?) and on the TV news (that too?) was about the crisis. Instead of looking at calendars anymore, it seemed, we marked the time by how many days the hostages had been in captivity.

Two Thanksgivings came and went. Occasional videos of the hostages during their captivity were taped and broadcast by Iran including the famous messages on Christmas Day 1980. Yellow ribbons were everywhere——telephone poles, car antennas, old oak trees… and still, nothing. No hope for the hostages’ return until the morning of Reagan’s inauguration.

Sure enough, just moments after ol’ Ronnie took the oath of office, we got word that the hostages had all been released and were on airplanes bound for Algeria and then Germany and then back home to America. A slap in the face to Jimmy Carter, sure, but in the grand scheme of things, he came out of it just fine, the hostages were all free, and our favorite decade was off to a grand start.

And, as a bonus, we didn’t need to hear “Tie A Yellow Ribbon” anymore. Small victories.

We ♥ the release of the American hostages.