Baby Jessica

•April 28, 2017 • Leave a Comment

“Live and direct from Midland, Texas, Jessica McClure is up. She’s alive. What a fighter!” – Dan Rather, CBS News

The saga of the most famous toddler in the world (at least for a week anyway) started October 14, 1987, in the backyard of Jamie Moore’s Midland, Texas, home. Moore ran a daycare center out of her house, and among the kids under her care was her niece Jessica McClure, just a wee lass of 18 months.

Jessica’s 17-year-old mom Cissy was watching her daughter and three friends play in the backyard that afternoon when the phone rang. Cissy went inside to answer it (um…motherhood goals?), and when she came back out, three of the kids were looking down into an abandoned, dry well that had been dug on Moore’s property years earlier. The well opening had been covered by a flower pot (’cause THAT’ll prevent an accident!), and Jessica fell down the 8-inch-wide shaft and was now 22 feet underground. Um…whoops.

Within hours, news of Jessica’s peril spread, and it wasn’t long before the world sat transfixed watching almost every moment of her rescue unfold on live TV. The networks led their nightly newscasts with the latest, and the relatively new CNN covered the whole thing live, round the clock.

Workers eventually dug a well parallel to the one Jessica had fallen into, and then they dug a tunnel connecting the two, so rescue workers could reach her. (I suppose if you’re going to fall down a well, doing it in the heart of oil country, surrounded by people who dig wells for a living, is the way to go.)

58 hours later, Jessica was rescued, suffering only a scar on her forehead and damage to one of her feet, which required the amputation of a toe. And don’t tell us you didn’t jump off the couch when you saw her precious little body come up out of that well. Heck, we still get goosebumps seeing the news footage.

These days, Jessica’s a grown, 31-year-old woman, married with two kids, still living in Midland. Though she doesn’t remember anything about her 15 minutes of fame, we still remember it, because we’re children of the 80s. And the rescue of Baby Jessica was one of those awesome moments that only further our argument…that our favorite decade was indeed the best decade.

We ♥ Baby Jessica.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

•April 27, 2017 • Leave a Comment

“Train don’t run out of Wichita…unlessin’ you’re a hog or a cattle. People train runs out of Stubbville.”

After the 80s saw a string of highly successful (and still iconic) teen movies (Pretty in Pink, Some Kind of Wonderful, The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Weird Science, Sixteen Candles), Thanksgiving of 1987 rolled around, and a new movie arrived in theaters. Sure, it was billed as “A John Hughes Film”, but there was something…different. There were two ADULTS on the poster. No mention anywhere of teen angst. No Molly Ringwald. No pictures of a high school.

What is going on??

Sure enough, Planes, Trains and Automobiles was a (GASP!) big-people movie. The story of Del Griffith (John Candy) and Neal Page (Steve Martin) and their comic three-day trip from New York to Wichita to Chicago (by way of Missouri and sundry points in between) was a neck-snapping departure for Hughes, but–wait a second.

There was still that trademark Hughes heart (tell us you didn’t weep a little when Neal realized what was really going on in Del’s life), the trademark Hughes humor (“Those aren’t PILLOWS!”), and the trademark Hughes dialogue (18 brilliant f-words in 60 seconds during that rental car scene).

It was almost like Hughes himself grew up a little when he put Planes, Trains and Automobiles together. And even though we were but young lads and lasses in the 80s, we knew we were growing up, too, as we walked out of the theater thinking we might have just seen the best movie Hughes had made to that point.

…and looking back, it’s arguably STILL his best ever.

Need any more proof of Planes, Trains and Automobiles‘ awesomeness? History’s greatest and most respected movie critic, Roger Ebert, loved it so much that he included it in his Great Movies List, alongside classics like Stagecoach, Shoah, and Cool Hand Luke. “The movies that last, the ones we return to, don’t always have lofty themes or Byzantine complexities. Sometimes they last because they are arrows straight to the heart.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

“I like me. My wife likes me. My customers like me. ‘Cause I’m the real article. What you see is what you get.”

We ♥ Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

Jessie’s Girl

•April 26, 2017 • Leave a Comment

“And she’s watching him with those eyes. And she’s loving him with that body, I just know it.”

Hey, we’ve all been there, right? Madly in love with someone who’s taken? Ah, the sad life of the American teenager.

Fortunately we children of the 80s had our very own anthem to unrequited love, sung by General Hospital‘s own Dr. Noah Drake himself.

Before the summer of 1981, Rick Springfield had only had one other (moderate) hit, 1972’s “Speak to the Sky”, so his girlfriend Linda Blair (yes, she of the spinning head and pea-green puke in The Exorcist) suggested he take up acting. Sure enough, just as he landed the role on GH, Springfield’s music career finally took off, starting with “Jessie’s Girl”.

It entered the charts in March 1981, and a whopping 19 weeks later it finally reached #1 on August 1–which of course meant it was the top song in the land on the exact same day that (80s trivia alert!) a new channel called MTV premiered.

“Jessie’s Girl” stayed at #1 for two weeks and remained on the Billboard charts for a crazy-long 32 weeks total. And just like that, Rick was off and running.

Springfield later revealed that the song was indeed inspired by real life. While taking a stained glass class, he met a charming young gentleman named Gary, who had brought his lady along with him. Rick was instantly struck by the comely lass, who (unfortunately for Rick, but fortunately for fans of rock-solid 80s tunes) didn’t even look at the singer twice. Rick never found out her name, but it didn’t matter. In no time at all, he had his song.

“Gary’s Girl” didn’t exactly trip off the tongue, though, so Rick went with “Jessie”, after football player Ron Jessie, who was featured on one of Rick’s favorite t-shirts at the time. And voila, a pop career was born.

Springfield would end his music career with twenty top-100 singles, but none would be bigger than “Jessie’s Girl”–certified gold, named by Billboard as the #5 song for all of 1981, and winner of the 1982 Grammy for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance.

Not too shabby, doc!

We ♥ Jessie’s Girl.

Scrunchies

•April 25, 2017 • Leave a Comment

“Here’s the thing. Here’s my crucial point. No woman who works at W Magazine and lives on Perry Street would be caught dead at a hip downtown restaurant wearing a SCRUNCHIE!” – Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker), Sex and the City

Fine, Carrie, mock all you want, but back in OUR day, no self-respecting girl would dare leave the house WITHOUT a scrunchie. Not only fashionable (and, yes, they were uber-fashionable), scrunchies were also as practical as they come in our favorite decade. After years of tying our hair back with rubber bands (OUCH!), we finally had a way to keep our beauteous locks out of our face and off our shoulders without yanking hundreds of hairs out at their roots every time we turned our head.

As the story goes, scrunchies were developed by single mom Rommy Revson, a former night club singer who was house-sitting at the beach in the summer of 1986. She wanted to invent something to replace elastic hair bands, and one night, as she plodded off to bed, she noticed the elastic band holding her pants in place…particularly how it bunched up the waistline.

A little bit of fabric and a sewing machine was all she needed to make the first prototype, and it wasn’t long after that that everyone from Madonna to the Full House girls to Paula Abdul was sporting the handy hair holder.

And let’s not forget perhaps the 80s’ greatest scrunchie ambassador–young Debbie Gibson.

Perhaps the greatest testament to the scrunchie’s awesomeness is that they’re still around even today, and, despite Miss Bradshaw’s misgivings, they’re as functional and cool as they ever were. Some things never go out of style, and for us, scrunchies are right up there at the top of the list. It’s no wonder they came from the 80s.

We ♥ scrunchies.

Joanie Loves Chachi

•April 24, 2017 • Leave a Comment

“I don’t know what’s come over me, you got me hypnotized…when yooooou look at me.”

In the (late 70s and) early 80s Happy Days was riding high. It had already spawned two successful spin-offs (Laverne & Shirley and Mork & Mindy), so of course it made sense to try another one. And who better to be its subject than America’s favorite teenage lovebirds, Joanie Cunningham and Chachi Arcola?

The show centered on the couple (played, of course, by Erin Moran and Scott Baio) as they made a new life for themselves in Chicago, hoping to strike it big on the music scene. They were backed by what may still be sitcom-land’s best-ever back-up band (featuring loony-tune Bingo on drums, “fat cousin” Annette on bass, and other-cousin Mario on keys), and they were joined by familiar faces from Happy Days, including Al Delvecchio and Chachi’s mom Louisa. Even the Fonz himself stopped by for an episode.

ABC, of course, must have thought they were golden. Joanie Loves Chachi was created by Happy Days‘ own Garry Marshall and developed by Thomas Miller and Robert Boyett (the pair who not only produced Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley but would later go on to produce 80s classics like Perfect Strangers and Full House)…so what went SO drastically wrong that TV Guide later named Joanie Loves Chachi the 17th worst blunder in U.S. television history? (Here’s the proof.)

Sure enough Joanie Loves Chachi started strong, with a four-episode debut in March 1982 on Tuesday nights at 8:30, immediately after Happy Days. It did so well that ABC decided to give it a full run later that fall…but on a different night, far away from the Fonz, Potsie, Richie, and the gang.

Big mistake. Huge.

Marooned by itself on Thursday nights, competing against the juggernaut that was Magnum P.I., and without the original creative team (who got the J♥C ball rolling only to abandon it and return to the greener pastures of Happy Days), the saga of Joanie and Chachi’s new life in the Windy City withered and died.

17 episodes was all we got, and even though Joanie and Chachi (and Big Al and Chachi’s mom) packed their bags and returned to Happy Days‘ Milwaukee the following season, we still kinda got a soft spot for this short-lived bit of 80s happiness. People might not have loved Joanie Loves Chachi as much as Joanie loved Chachi, but we’re Best of the 80s, and as long as it happened in our favorite decade, it’s okay by us. So, yeah…

We ♥ Joanie Loves Chachi.

Lisa Frank

•April 21, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Yeah, yeah, yeah… We know unicorns are all the rage right now– what with unicorn drinks (We’re looking at you, Starbucks!) and unicorn cakes, but we’re here to tell you that the 80s were WAY ahead of this curve.

Yes, friends, the 80s gave us the blindingly-bright Lisa Frank school supplies (including Trapper Keepers, which we ♥), and just like that, little girls all around the globe could squeal with delight, because they could go to school with their very own super-colorful, wild-and-crazy folders and notebooks.

But it wasn’t just the bright colors that snagged everyone’s attention. Perhaps you recall the neon pink-and-purple pandas? And the rainbow-colored leopards?

SO MANY COLORS! BRAIN HURTS! SEND HELP!

And, oh yes—those unicorns? Lisa Frank had the market cornered on unicorn-adorned school supplies. So all these youngsters (and adults) who are now flipping out over the Unicorn Frappuccino? Well…Sorry, Charlie. You’re late to the party.

Frank’s company rose to its most popular in 1987 with characters like Panda Painter and Hunter the multicolored leopard, but eventually their time in the spotlight faded away. In 2012 Urban Outfitters brought back some of her designs (and kids of the 80s gasped!), but, alas, it wasn’t meant to be. It’s rare you’ll find any Lisa Frank products on the shelves these days, but there have been whispers of a comeback.

With unicorns getting all this renewed traction, we can’t help but hope…and at the same time reminisce about Ms. Frank’s tie-dyed magical creatures that we loved so much in the 80s.

We ♥ Lisa Frank.

Dallas

•April 20, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Dallas_2012_TV_series_title_card“Who shot J.R.?”

If you don’t know what that phrase is referencing, we suggest you do a little studying up on ye olde 80s blog before reading any further.

J.R. Ewing may be the decade’s most famous murder victim…and it’s with good reason, because Dallas was lighting up all of our parents’ television screens on Friday nights. In fact it was the #1 show in all the land in 1980, 1981, and 1983…and #2 in 1982 and 1984.

If you aren’t familiar with the tale, we basically have a modern-day Romeo and Juliet thing going on. All Bobby Ewing wanted to do was marry Pamela Barnes. However, their respective families were bitter rivals and completely against that, and thus, you have the driving storyline for what was one of the 80s most popular soap operas.

In fact, the famous cliffhanger episode that left us all with the burning questions of, “Who really did shoot J.R.?!” is still, to this day, the second highest rated prime time telecast EVER.

The show also brought us the dreaded “dream season.” Back in 1985 the producers and directors of Dallas thought it would be a great idea to have all of season 9 season turn out to be nothing but a dream of good ol’ Pamela.

Because that’s always fun! Waste an entire season on a not-true story line?! Why not!?

Naturally, the vast majority of the audience was disappointed and felt completely cheated by the return of Bobby Ewing standing in the shower, even though it does hold the swaggy title of “the most famous shower scene since Psycho. He was supposed to be roadkill, right? Except he wasn’t. He was standing right there in the shower, and the whole season was a flippin’ dream!

Dallas never returned to be the ratings giant it once was, despite continuing on for another four seasons, but the heyday it had in the 80s… well, it was hard to beat, and that, my 80s lovers, is why…

We ♥ Dallas.