Archive for September, 2008
October 1st marks the 25th anniversary of the opening of Horizons, a much revered attraction at EPCOT Center in Walt Disney World. This Future World exhibit was one of the best representations of Walt Disney’s original concept for EPCOT-that of an actual community utilizing progressive technologies and ideas for better living. While it’s brethren in Future World focused on future concepts in transportation, energy, agriculture, communication and imagination, Horizons focused on a futuristic setting that utilizes all of these concepts, showing how a family might live with all of these progressions as an accepted aspect of society. While these concepts were already over 15 years ahead of what Walt had envisioned before his death, they were an entertaining depiction of the type of living he had hoped people would actually have in his Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow.
Horizons opened a year after EPCOT opened to the public. My family and I had gone to Disney World for the first time in 1982, just missing EPCOT’s launch that following Fall, so by the time we visited EPCOT for the first time in 1984, Horizons was an existing part of Future World. It instantly became a favorite for not only my family but apparently other families as well. I was 10 years old at the time, just old enough to enjoy the wonder of the attraction yet too young to grasp the technicality of it all. However, we’d return to Disney World and EPCOT in ’86 and ’88 (as well as ’91 and ’92) which allowed me to grow up with extractions like Horizons around me, connecting with the concept of it more each time.
This is a large part of why I appreciate so much of the Disney aesthetic because I was fortunate enough to have spent the formative years of my childhood vacationing there and thus allowing so much of what I saw to imprint on my growing mind. In many cases, this was just for shear entertainment value. However, it had a large influence on areas of creativity for me, including design, architecture, conceptualizing and storytelling.
Horizons was essentially a sequel to Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress, which details the large steps in progress mankind-and particularly one audio-animatronic family—had made throughout the 20th century, including the ever-shifting future. Horizons took the futuristic aspect and ran with it into the 21st century, expanding this idea to not only include entertaining visions of the future but also practical, relevant advances in technology. The dark ride started with a look back to the future, showcasing perceptions of the future through the eyes of Jules Verne and up through the 1950s. Then you’re shuttled past two Omnimax screens depicting the ongoing advancement of technologies (at the time). (Of note, you now know Omnimax as IMAX, but at the time, very few had seen something like this.)
At this point, you now witness these technologies being applied in futuristic settings in cities, out in the desert, underwater and in space, quite literally around the world. Disney utilized it’s a combination of audio-animatronic and real film to depict these settings. At the time, concepts such as voice-activation or videophones seemed truly futuristic and yet many of these concepts are either a reality today or are very clearly on their way there. There’s a memorable part of the ride where you pass through an orange grove scene and you actually can smell oranges. This really underlines how successfully Disney displayed a fully immersive experience. My memory can still smell those oranges. The finale of the ride allowed each omnimover vehicle to choose their method of transportation back to the fictional FuturePort. Buttons lit up on the dashboard on the doors of the vehicle, allowing the riders to choose a half-minute ending film that took you through space-colonization, arid-zone agriculture and ocean colonization. All the more reason to go on the ride 2 or 3 more times! (And I distinctly recall doing just that with this attraction, particularly when we saw there wasn’t a long line to get back on!)
The second Eightiesology iMix focuses on hard rock and glam metal from the dubiously designated hair bands of the era. I thought it was important to take a hard left turn after the first mix since these are pretty much the polar opposite images of the time: pop stars abiding my fashion trends versus hair bands decked out in leather and denim. For me, I lived comfortably in both worlds but leaned more towards the hair bands once we entered high school. And much like a hat could not have enough space to contain this much hair, 80 minutes was not enough to capture the best sounds of the time so I’ve kept with the mostly upbeat, edgier tunes of the genre here while the planned sequel will focus on the more powerful ballads of these bands. There are exceptions to change the tempo but these are mostly songs to passionately air guitar to with fists shaking in the air.
Click the button below to go to the iMix on iTunes. Again, I don’t make any money off of this, it’s just a way for me to further promote the site. Feel free to download the whole mix, individual songs or use it as a guide for you to create your own mix. Download the artwork here and print it out for a mix CD. But most of all, enjoy the ride on a crazy train!
“Crazy Train,” Ozzy
I wasn’t a big Ozzy fan in the ‘80s but always dug this song. It’s one of the strongest, rawest metal tunes on this compilation and thus made for a great opening track. It’s one of the rare times that Ozzy was able to cross over into many different markets and genres with a song, one that put the melody and vocals on par with the guitar muscle of Randy Rhodes. This also happens to be one of the earliest songs (of any genre) in the ‘80s that ranks in Eightiesology lore.
“Round & Round,” Ratt
Ratt didn’t do much for me as I tended to be more of a fan of cleaner, glammier metal sounds at the time (at least until Guns ‘n Roses entered the scene). In fact, I don’t even recall being a huge fan of this song at the time but in nostalgic mode, it’s gained significant relevance and appreciation for me.
“Runaway,” Bon Jovi
We’re now 3 for 3 on songs by artists I wasn’t crazy about. It’s almost sacrilege to have ill-conceived criticisms of Bon Jovi but they were just never a band that captured my interest. For the most part, I find them to be a little too ordinary and vanilla to me, even though they’ve created a lot of cool tunes. To me, though, those tunes were never as good as their first real hit. Despite the pulsating piano riff, the song had an otherwise raw aesthetic to it that seemed to go away as the band progressed into hair-spray infused rock.
“Dreams,” Van Halen
And now a band that to me ranks as one of the top hard rock bands of the decade and remained relevant into the ‘90s. I’m an unabashed fan of the Van Hagar era. I think Sammy Hagar’s a far superior singer to David Lee Roth, capable of reaching incredible octaves with his voice. I also happened to prefer the band’s more melodic approach in this era over the bluesier tones of its earlier phase. “Dreams” wasn’t even the biggest hit of this lineup’s output but it was a popular song in my circle, assisted by a cool video featuring the Blue Angels. It still pumps me up today.
“Tell Me,” White Lion
White Lion’s third single from Pride. (Their first? You’ll have to “wait” for it.) The band made quite a splash on the scene with an album full of accessible songs. I always dug this one, particularly the fist-pump-invoking opening, and appreciated how it snuck onto the scene but got lost in much of the nostalgia of the time. I think it’s important to respect how rare it is for some of these bands to chart three worthy songs from one album in hair metal lore.
“Talk Dirty to Me,” Poison
What a way to burst onto the scene? One of the main proprietors of metal’s glam phase, Poison was also one of the first bands I remember “arriving” (whereas many bands seemed to have already been there when I discovered them). A band that provided many highlights for this genre of music, making it harder to edit their input on this compilation. The song remains a sing-along highlight for my friends and I today.
“Up All Night,” Slaughter
Slaughter was big for about a week but it was quite a week. Actually a ‘90s hit, the song reminds me of hanging out at my friend Tom’s house. Now in high school, the music of the time was a backdrop to our own attempts at more rowdy endeavors. (Tom was always successful; me, not so much.) The song is actually one of hair metal’s last gasps but those last gasps also had added poignancy with their place in the hormone-raging high school years. And yeah, I had a habit of sleeping all day.
“Don’t Close Your Eyes,” Kix
To me this song was representative of tunes from bands you knew little about, and cared less when you heard what else they had to offer, and yet compelled you in that moment. I don’t need to know much about the band Kix, just that this song was pretty friggin’ killer. As you’ll see by the end of this compilation, I tended to favor those songs sung by high-octave-reaching singers.
“Kiss Me Deadly,” Lita Ford
The first relevant metal chick, Lita Ford was scary and sexy at the same time. She also introduced me to the more scandalous meaning of the word “laid.” (Though I may not have entirely understood it for the first few listens.) And while Lita and I could relate on going to a party but not getting laid, our evenings differ because I didn’t get into fights. It ain’t no big thing.
Many thanks for visiting Eightiesology 1,000 times. (Of note, the counter doesn’t track my own visits!) I appreciate the 10 of you for visiting 100 times each and reading my whimsical musings of the ‘80s. I’ve only just scratched the service and still have a lot of tricks up my sleeve. I also hope to add some new sleeves as well. I want to keep this thing moving and never let it become dig the bottom of the barrel or become a retread of itself.
Please spread the word and don’t just be a silent viewer. Comments are appreciated (and will make this thing look like it’s read and enjoyed by others). Here’s to 100,000 more hits.
Now, on with the countdown…
I loathe American Idol and everything it stands for which puts me in the tiniest minority among friends, family and the world’s population. Part of the disappointment of it is seeing an old crush reduced to a doting nutcase. But in the ‘80s, Paula Abdul struck my fancy. She was one of the best combinations of exotic sex-appeal mixed with cute innocence. She could give an adorable look that made you want to hug her and then turn around and engage in some scantily-clad dance that made you want to, well, you know.
Here’s the video to her first hit. Not my favorite song of hers (that would be the immortally fantastic “Forever Your Girl”) but a pretty fine showcase for her dancing skills.
Eightiesologo continues with a look at the centerpiece of the banner image, the Han Solo action figure. To this day, Solo remains one of my favorite fictional characters and this figure captures the character in my favorite setting from the Star Wars movies, the snow planet of Hoth!
Star Wars has become a periodic cycle of nostalgia as the last 10+ years have been filled with buzz regarding the prequel films and now as Lucasfilm embarks on animated and live-action television endeavors. But the core of Star Wars nostalgia resides in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, wrapped around the release of the original trilogy of films. And at the center of what became a merchandising empire was the release of action figures based on almost every character from the films. These action figures also happened to be the first of their kind for our generation, triggering a genre that lives on to this day.
Because the first Star Wars film was released when I was three years old, my affinity for that film really only happened in retrospect via rereleases and televised airings. The Empire Strikes Back though was really the preeminent film of the series and perhaps even the entire decade. Despite arriving in the first year of the ‘80s, the movie was so immensely popular that its influence and popularity virtually extended through the release of the last of the trilogy (Return of the Jedi) and beyond, until Star Wars gave way to its successors in genre entertainment and collecting. G.I. Joe and Transformers, as well as a host of other popular franchises (such as Thundercats, He-Man, M.A.S.K., etc.), climbed their way to the top of our collective conscience, and slowly nudged Star Wars toys to the periphery.
But Star Wars action figures, made by Kenner, had a mighty heyday. Perhaps our female audience may not relate to this post but so much of the appeal of action figures has to do with their connection to moving pictures. Whether it’s an animated television show or a live-action film, you’re now able to project your own adventures through this tiny piece of plastic based on an existing fictional character. With Han Solo, this became extra relevant because when our neighborhood was hit with a large amount of snow, the Assumption schoolyard had its snow plowed into piles lining the fence. This created our own Hoth to build tunnels and snow forts on. I could be Han Solo myself.
The second 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.
- 1. Slang for a rural, white person of lower-economic status.
- 2. A field in Moonachie, NJ which hosted soccer and football games for youth organizations.
When you’re younger, you tend to boil down places, people and events down to one word that becomes so synonymous with that entity that even as you grow older, your burgeoning intelligence and stronger grasp on grammar disallows you of repairing such slang or nicknames.
Pomponio Field is a large field in Moonachie, NJ right, located on Redneck Avenue which splits between the field and Teterboro Airport. The field is carved between residential Moonachie and the remnants of the areas of indigenous marshlands. For baseball and softball, the fields were used mostly for older youth leagues as well as beer leagues. However, for football and soccer, the large expanse of grass was home to Pop Warner football and Youth Soccer, the latter which I took part in.
“Down to Redneck” is how those of us in Wood-Ridge would describe heading to the soccer field. After all, the field was certainly below us since you had to drive down Moonachie Avenue to get there and head from our cliffside, hilly town to one that seemed to emerge from the swamps. The field isn’t actually called “Redneck” but that’s how we designated it, with very little notice of the fact that the term was slang for a poor person from the country.
The latest in our series of features on the origin of the Eightiesology banner takes its cue from the baseball pennant race and connects to one of the Eightiesologist’s greatest hobbies, baseball card collecting.
I can see myself on my bedroom floor, in the canyon between my bed and my bookshelf. The old television is on Channel 9 tuned into the Mets. I’m flipping through my baseball cards, alternately dividing the cards by team or in checklist order. I’ve likely just scored myself a pack of new cards from the local stationery, discarding doubles to their respective pile and inserting the new cards into their particular categories. The smell of stale bubblegum permeates the air. The Mets are on the march to the playoffs. All is right in my little world.
It’s the Fall of 1986, the beginning of a jubilant run of sports in my life as the Mets would go on to win the World Series in exciting fashion and the Giants would kick off their triumphant Super Bowl championship season. I’m 12 years old in a time that would turn out to be a collector’s heaven. My room is surrounded by tons of items (sports memorabilia, toys, music) that now sit in storage. But for the moment, it’s all about the source of that bubblegum smell.
I don’t recall exactly the moment I got into collecting baseball cards as I had a pretty decent collection of Topps ’85 cards. I don’t recall having completed my ’86 collection either but I was in full swing by then, integrating myself into this new hobby. By 1987, I was aspiring towards full sets and branching beyond Topps, the flagship baseball card company, and into competitors’ collections. But the Topps 1987 baseball card is sort of the turning point for me when collecting became serious.
The ’87 cards were in anticipation of the ’87 baseball season but reflective of the previous season so the extra oomph of my championship team gave the set even more weight. But the design of the card was a real nice step upward for the industry, infusing it with both a retro wood trim background and a savvy move forward in design and photography (also assisted by the sports’ own modernization of logos and uniforms). Somehow it all came together and clicked, a major step forward in baseball cards from the previous year which had been charming though largely uncreative.