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Archive for August, 2008

I don’t even remember seeing this video when I was younger but the song is incredibly prevalent. My mind is actually so twisted that when I hear this song and ELO’s “Calling America,” I know the exact chopped up Casey Kasem outro and intro that connected the songs on my mix tape. I’m in the midst of creating Eightiesology iMixes and unfortunately there is no iTunes version of this song. But as long as we have this cinematic masterpiece of a video, we’ll be allright.

 

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Eightiesologo, Vol II

 

This is the second in a series of posts analyzing the different souvenirs that make up the Eightiesology image. This time around we focus on the now seemingly-archaic TV Guide, just in time for the upcoming television season.

 

Mapping out your television viewing is pretty easy these days. One need only click the Guide button on their remote control to access on-screen listings of programs. Or if you’re already at a computer, you can go to any number of listings on the Internet. Additionally, television shows are also fairly well represented by their own websites, fan communities and blogs. It’s virtually impossible to be a fan of Lost and not know whether it’s going to be a rerun on a given week.

 

But, and forgive me for sounding like my parents, I remember the day when we had to wait for the TV Guide to come out to know what was going to be on the following week! Flipping through the pages of one-line daytime and early evening game shows, talk shows, news and reruns to find the listing of a particular show. All to find something along the lines of “Alex and Mallory become rivals when Steven’s station offers a scholarship to employees’ kids.” And the big excitement was when a premiere, season finale or highlight episode got a show in the spotlight section, a side bar with a more thorough description and even critic input.

 

Perhaps I’m fascinated with maps and graphics (see Eightiesologo, Vol 1), but the primetime grid  was like your evening syllabus.  You could see how everything stacked up on the THREE networks. Thankfully the advent of the VCR had been established for much of the Eightiesology so this primetime chart was also a way to inform you on when you needed to tape shows that shared a timeslot.

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The Rise and Fall of Summer

There’s something about rounding the last corner of summer into the expanse that is Autumn’s arrival. Most people aren’t eager for Summer to depart, whether it be pool-side adults or children dreading school, the impending arrival of September is typically met with a certain amount of dread. Not for the brisk air and colorful leaves it brings, but for the almost immediate successor in Winter looming on the horizon.

 

But I’ve always found this particular change of season to be fascinating. In retrospect, I think Fall brought a different, almost conflicted feeling to a lot of people. At some point, we stop dreading school and start developing an anxious sentiment about it. Perhaps it’s the brain’s need for some amount of structure after a largely free-form Summer. Or maybe it’s as easy as having a studious excitement over a new slate of education (certainly the case during one’s college years). More than likely it’s the simple fact of reacquainting yourself with school friends and checking out how everyone else has evolved in the two months since you last met.

 

I’ve never studied this professionally but I’ve always been convinced that there is some sort of behavioral psychology immersed in all of this. From the age of 5, you are pretty much raised into a structure of associating the beginning of the Fall with the start (or restart) of a new venture. It’s the start of three major sports seasons and the start of the television season, in addition to being the obvious start to school for millions of students, teachers, professors, coaches and administrators.

And then one day, poof…it’s gone for most of us. You graduate college and you start working for a living. But this time when August rolls around, you’re not buying school supplies or new school clothes. You’re not comparing school schedules with friends. You just keep working. No change, no new starts, no new friends and no amazing maturation in that girl in your Math class.

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The first in a virtual glossary of terms either specific to the 1980s or to our staff’s own upbringing in said decade. In deference to our readers who may not understand certain lingo or references yet are maintained for the sanctity of our staff’s memories.

 

“The Assumption”

  • 1. having completed the course of her earthly life, the Virgin Mary was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.
  • 2. The church schoolyard from which our glorious chief Eightiesologist lived across the street from, location of playing army, playing basketball, youth dances and manhunt.

 

An old friend of mine Victor once joked about my propensity for referring to the local playground as “The Assumption.” As if I was literally attending the assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven. No, in fact I was only just going over there to shoot hoops!

 

The Assumption Church is the main Catholic church of my old hometown Wood-Ridge, NJ. The one-block complex included the church, the rectory, convent, and K-8 school. The parking lot for the church included a pair of basketball nets and a great enclosed space for other sporting events like stickball and two-hand touch football. In the winter, the plows pushed the snow up against the fences allowing me and my friends to recreate Hoth from The Empire Strikes Back. With all of the urban nooks and crannies throughout the complex, it allowed us the ability to generate complex, faux military strategies with our toy guns and camouflage outfits. And easily book it after yelling “Bingo!” into the open windows of the Bingo hall. In later years, it really became the ultimate of ironies: a breeding ground for adolescent flirting with girls. All under the watchful eye of the Blessed Virgin! 

 

I lived right across the street from the Assumption though I didn’t attend the school or the parish. It is an absolutely essential setting of my youth. And I refuse to call it anything else. It’s where I told my parents I would be. It’s where I told my friends to meet me. And though I always chuckle at the amusing inaccuracy of my phrasing, it’s always going to be “The Assumption” to me.

 

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Friday Night Dance

I never danced. Ever. My first memory of a school dance was the 8th grade dance during our Stokes Forest trip. I distinctly recall the view of the empty dance floor, from the seats with my friends. This was right around the time the entire Dirty Dancing soundtrack was ever-present on the charts and in dance halls. No girl was going to ask me to dance and I was too chicken to ask the same. And I would’ve failed miserably anyway since I had no practice other than bopping around my bedroom to the music of the time. It never really got better. From WRHS dances to Youth Night events at the Assumption, I wasn’t partaking in any of it. While I might’ve participated in some charity slow dances at some events or the Prom, I really didn’t hit the floor with any confidence until my college years. Whether it was inebriated trips to Façade or college-break visits to the Grasshopper Also, I finally started to come out of my shell and cut the rug. In the years since, I’ve enjoyed forays onto the dance floor at weddings.

 

Truth be told, I have a hard time taking it seriously. Dancing is inherently laughable to observe. Declarations of skill are a little absurd given what goes for dancing these days. And honestly, who cares. When you’re in the moment and feeling the rhythm (and the alcohol) coursing through you, enjoying a great time, who really should criticize that style of happiness?

 

With that, I open the floor to Friday Night Dance, a weekly compilation of YouTube videos highlighting the most memorable 80s videos involving dance skills. I start with Bobby Brown and a video that should negate the theory that white people were the only ones who danced funnily in the 80s. Of note, this is pretty much how I dance today. Ya, ya, ya know it!

 

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Batmania Returns

Inspired by the return of Batmania thanks to the unbelievable success of The Dark Knight, I decided to take a look back at Tim Burton’s Batman. As I became more appreciative of Batman’s real history and clouded by the ruination of the original movie franchise with each sequel, I had started to distance myself from the Batman film series. My sensibilities had also matured to the point where despite still liking a good popcorn flick, I’ve also come to enjoy more dramatic fare. The nail in the coffin was the release of Batman Begins, which solidified for me the type of Batman I wanted to see now. Thus, the old Batman and I drifted apart.

 

For some reason, I hadn’t thought of Batman in the same hallowed nostalgic ground reserved for movies like the original Star Wars trilogy, the Indiana Jones films, and the Back to the Future trilogy, among others. Films that all had the benefit of appealing to me at a more influential age. As time goes by, memories or appreciation of a film are no longer just of the cinematic art itself, but also of that time of your life and how the movie inspired it. Like seeing Return of the Jedi at the old Tenplex on Route 4 in Paramus and then running right into the Toys R’ Us next door to get an action figure. Or how much better Huey Lewis and the News’ “Power of Love” sounds to you now that you envision Michael J. Fox in a DeLorean whenever you hear it.

 

It could be that Batman came out in the last year of the 1980s and thus encroached on a time where wide-eyed prepubescent innocence evolved into a more distracted, hormonal adolescence. Where high school sports, good times with friends and girls became the key trigger for nostalgia. Or that the series so quickly soiled its legacy with inferior sequels. But our distance kept it out of that aspect of my memory. And I realize now unfairly so. I renewed our acquaintance recently and can now embrace it as a classic for my generation, and a classic of the 80s.  

 

The nostalgia was really always there, I had simply forgotten about it. I remember the summer the film came out the Bat-Symbol was everywhere. You couldn’t escape the merchandising. My family vacationed in Key West that Summer, a location wrought with tacky t-shirt shops, almost all with Bat-symbol shirts for sale. Prince’s “Batdance,” an awful song with mostly dialogue clips from the movie, was on the radio more than it should have been. It was one of my first tastes of the type of hype we now see regularly with summer movies. But in this case, the realization of the film matched the hype that preceded it.

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