Pocket Rockers

•August 14, 2012 • Leave a Comment

“Here come Pocket Rockers! Tiny tapes, tiny players!”

As much as we loved hitting the record stores and scooping up the latest albums (or CDs or cassettes) in the 80s, there was one thing we just couldn’t do with them.

That’s right… we couldn’t WEAR our music.

Until 1988, that is–– when Pocket Rockers arrived.

Suddenly we could broadcast to the world that we loved Debbie Gibson, Phil Collins, and David Lee Roth.

Pocket Rockers tapes popped right into our Pocket Rockers player (which we kept on the waistband of our acid-wash jeans), and when we weren’t listening to the tapes, well… we could always just clip them to our shoelaces, popped collar, or onto our spangly necklace.

Presto. We were insta-cool.

Each tape included two songs from ‘today’s top artists’, including Bananarama, Huey Lewis, Bangles, and much, much more. And the players themselves were adorned with that trademark 80s neon color scheme. Awesome.

Believe it or not, it was Fisher-Price who brought us this wonderful little precursor to the iPod, aiming it squarely at the ‘tween’ set… long before the term ‘tween’ ever existed.

When they first hit shelves Pocket Rockers sold like the proverbial hotcakes, but the lustre quickly faded: the tapes were pretty expensive ($5 a pop), and the players weren’t that much cheaper than a full-blown Walkman.

And, let’s be honest, the sound quality was marginal at best. (Put your iPhone at the bottom of a metal bucket, and you’ll get the idea.)

No, Pocket Rockers weren’t long for this world (they were discontinued in 1991), but for one, brief, shining moment, we could actually wear our music on our sleeve.

And we loved it.

We ♥ Pocket Rockers.

Question of the Day 8.13.12

•August 13, 2012 • 2 Comments

Name the movie!

Answer to Friday’s QOTD: The Waitresses’ “I Know What Boys Like”. Congrats to Kailyn, @booner1972, and @MrsSweatheifer for guessing correctly.

Mississippi Burning

•August 13, 2012 • Leave a Comment

“Down here, things are different. Here they believe that some things are worth killing for…”

The way the 80s were, we can’t always be all Strawberry-Shortcake-and-jelly-shoes around here. Occasionally we have to talk about less frivolous stuff, too… with good reason.

And in the early days on 1989 things got REAL serious down at the movie theater with the premiere of Mississippi Burning; not since Oliver Stone’s 1986 masterpiece Platoon had such a brutal, gritty, haunting movie come down the pike.

Based on the true story of the FBI’s investigation into the murder of three civil rights workers in Mississippi in the summer of 1964, Mississippi Burning opened a lot of young people’s eyes to the way life used to be in the deep South… and for those people who were alive in the 60s, it served as a very harsh reminder.

Directed by Alan Parker (Pink Floyd – The Wall), it starred Willem Defoe as Mr. Ward (the straight-laced, liberal-minded G-Man) and Gene Hackman as Mr. Anderson (the former Southern sheriff who had a more… shall we say–– in-your-face approach).

With a supporting cast that included Brad Dourif as the town’s weasely deputy sheriff, Frances McDormand as his wife, and Michael Rooker as one of the most callous and bigoted people ever put on film, Mississippi Burning was just about as compelling as they come.

From the opening scene of the three boys being chased down at night and then shot in their car, to what is (in our mind) the best scene ever filmed in a barbershop chair, the movie was an honest, gritty, and superbly-written requiem to an ugly time in American history.

And then there was that particularly terrifying scene when the town’s mayor (played by Full Metal Jacket‘s R. Lee Ermey) was kidnapped by a ‘special’ FBI agent and taken to a little shack in the middle of nowhere. If you don’t flinch repeatedly, you’re simply not human.

Mississippi Burning didn’t do great in the box office (hmmmm… perhaps the subject matter was a little too, um, difficult to watch?). It only earned $34 million and finished the year as the #33 movie.

More importantly, though, it snared 7 Oscar nominations, and won one (for Best Cinematography). It may have lost out to Rain Man for Best Picture, but even today we still consider it the best and more important movie of its day.

Whew… think it’s time for us to go watch a couple episodes of Kissyfur.

We ♥ Mississippi Burning.

Question of the Day 8.10.12

•August 10, 2012 • 1 Comment

Name the music video!

Answer to yesterday’s QOTD: The Journey of Natty Gann. Congrats to Carey for guessing correctly.

The demise of the 8-track

•August 10, 2012 • Leave a Comment

So far (as near as we call recall) Best of the 80s has been all about singing the praises of things that arrived in our favorite decade… never pointing out how happy we were to see some things come to their unceremonious end.

Until now.

There were, of course, plenty of items that met their sweet demise during the 80s, but we can think of nothing that we greeted with more of a hearty “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out” than 8-track tapes.

With the arrival of the CD in 1982, clearly something had to give. Cassettes were still doing okay for themselves… but suddenly 8-tracks seemed more outdated and silly than bell-bottoms.

Aside from just being cheap, breakable plastic pieces of junk (owners of 8-tracks were well-versed in terms like capstan, head, and pinch roller), there was also the issue of not being able to rewind, and fast forward consisted solely of skipping ahead to one of four ‘chunks’ of songs… assuming your 8-track player even had the four buttons in the first place.

Sure, they were infinitely more portable than record players… but that’s about the only nice thing we could say about 8-tracks.

The end of 8-tracks obviously started in earnest in 1982 with the dawn of CD, but somehow they were able to hold on for a few more years. In fact, depending on who you talk to, the last 8-track ever produced was Fleetwood Mac’s Greatest Hits in 1988.

These days you can actually score vintage 8-tracks on eBay (for a measly $249, Stryper’s To Hell with the Devil could be yours), but we’re not sure why; generally ‘nostalgia’ only applies to things that have some kind of inherent or sentimental value…

…but “good riddance” are the only words that come to mind when we think of 8-tracks.

We ♥ the demise of the 8-track.

Question of the Day 8.9.12

•August 9, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Name the movie!

Answer to yesterday’s QOTD: Days of Our Lives. Congrats to Carey, @MrsSweatheifer, and @buttercup081474 for guessing correctly.

Wildfire

•August 9, 2012 • Leave a Comment

♫ ♪”Once upon a dream I think I lived inside a fairy tale. When someone great was lost, when some dark void was crossed…” ♪ ♪

Boy… Montana sure is a long way from Dar-Shan. Good thing there’s a flying purple horse with a red mane there to help Princess Sara get back and forth.

If you have even the slightest idea of what we’re talking about, congratulations! You are cordially invited to join the Official Wildfire Fan Club.

One of the 80s most forgotten cartoons, Wildfire premiered on CBS in the fall of 1986 (at 8:30, right after Berenstain Bears)… but by mid-December it was gone–– after just 13 measly episodes.

The story was pretty good–– After being rescued from her home planet and left on the doorstep of a Montana ranch when she was a baby, Sara grew up seemingly unaware of her true standing in the universe. (Turns out this was actually a good thing, lest the evil Lady Diabolyn were to find out and hunt down young Sara when she was but an infant. Gracious!)

But then Sara turned twelve, and the brave steed Wildfire knew the young princess was old enough to help fight the good fight back on Dar-Shan and attempt to regain her throne…

And so the surprisingly enjoyable Wildfire cartoon (from Hanna-Barbera) was born.

Bouncing back and forth between Montana (and Sara’s Native American pal Ellen) and Dar-Shan (and kindly old sorcerer Alvinar and Sara’s other compadres), the young princess led quite a life for a twelve-year-old. If nothing else, having to be always on the lookout for Diabolyn and her nefarious ways was a full-time job. (Diabolyn’s Goon henchman Dweedle? Not so much.)

A clever and creative backstory, a smart and capable young female lead, and a wicked cool horse… what was there NOT to love about Wildfire? And how, most amazingly of all, was there not a toy line and a Wildfire breakfast cereal to go along with it?

At least we know that Wildfire and Sara were still together long after the series was cancelled; it takes a special kind of animal to turn down the post of King of the Horses in order to stay with his little blonde-haired princess. But at the end of the last episode, that’s just what he did.

And we love him for it. Too bad we were the only ones.

We ♥ Wildfire.