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Archive for the ‘Ninetiesology’ Category

In 1992, our senior class at Wood-Ridge High School visited Orlando for our senior class trip. We lodged outside of Walt Disney World and visited Disney parks as well as Universal Studios. This new theme park and competitor to Disney had only opened up a couple of years prior. The trip certainly put a different spin on the Disney experience for me, the details of which are better spent when reminiscing with old friends. But alas, there was still some good fun enjoyed at the theme parks, including this first visit to Universal Studios and one attraction in particular. 

 

BTTFR

 

The big attraction at Universal Studios was Back to the Future: The Ride. The BTTF sequels were not that distant a memory and the attraction utilized revolutionary theme park ride mechanics and technology at the time. The motion similar ride utilized an open vehicle and an IMAX dome screen which improved upon the systems being used in Disney’s Star Tours and Body Wars, which were enclosed simulator rides with all visual action happening on a forward screen. With Back to the Future, the riders could see the action happening around them, which gave the simulation that much more realism and thus more thrill and adrenaline. The ride queue featured prep videos starring Christopher Lloyd in his signature role (no, not Reverend Jim) of Doc Brown, who details the mission ahead for you, the rider. Biff (the inimitable Thomas F. Wilson) returns to his familiar antagonist role, infiltrating the Institute of Future Technology and escaping into the future and past, for we intrepid riders to chase! 

 

For added geekiness, the outside of the attraction featured a full size replica of the DeLorean and the Jules Verne steam train. Once inside the attraction, many other prop replicas and easter eggs are found throughout the attraction halls. And the ride exited you into the ubiquitous themed gift shop where one year I purchased a model of the time-travelling DeLorean. That of course was the rare time we even stopped in the gift shop and weren’t already on line to ride it again!  

 

The Jules Verne train replica at the Back to the Future: The Ride attraction in Universal Studios, Orlando.

The Jules Verne train replica at the Back to the Future: The Ride attraction in Universal Studios, Orlando.

 

 

A few years ago, Universal Studios in both Hollywood and Orlando shuttered their doors on the Back to the Future attraction, with very little fanfare or notice. (One last one exists in Japan.) The ride joined Earthquake and Kongfrontation as the park’s cornerstone attractions gone extinct (with only Jaws surviving). Presumably the dwindling relevance of the franchise in the modern context, along with rumored disrepair, forced Universal to develop something new and inviting. But in the process they dismantled a ride that was synonymous with Universal Studios and a natural extension of a franchise that, in cinematic and cultural circles, is still very popular. Even though its technology was dwarfed by the Spider-Man ride at the Studios’ sister theme park, Islands of Adventure, it was still an advanced system that probably could’ve just used some attention and repair. Much like Star Tours, and unlike roller coasters, the ride’s inherent structure allowed it the possibility of offering a new cinematic adventure with new destinations in time while retaining the same ride system. (Hello, recessionary solution!) The BTTF attraction has been replaced by The Simpsons, a franchise that, despite its quality and attraction, doesn’t exactly appeal to me when it comes to the architecture and adventure of theme park exploration. 

 

Even though the ride’s creation and my time spent on it happened after the ‘80s were over, this still very much qualifies for the Ninetiesology section of the site. (For those who haven’t read up, Ninetiesology is what I refer to as the aspects of the ‘80s, such as music and movie styles, or the lifetime of some TV shows, that spilled over into the next decade, typically ending 1992-1993.) And of course, the ride is based on a heavyweight ‘80s franchise. 

 

sign

 

The Back to the Future trilogy was recently re-released on DVD including some new features on the first movie’s DVD. The special features now include all of the pre-show and ride footage from the Back to the Future ride. While not able to replace the physical simulation of the ride, it’s nice to finally have a keepsake from a treasured attraction. However, it’s almost impossible to duplicate the convergence of fandom venturing through a theme park attraction, in sunny Orlando, based on a classic movie. The thrill of the motion is gone and replaced by stationery recliner-induced sloth. But if you can get your hands on home movie footage of the attraction’s interior and exterior architecture, shut off the lights and get real close to your big screen TV. Fire up the ride footage and maybe you can time travel yourself to a time when one of the coolest theme park attractions ever still existed. Great Scott! Yeah, that’s heavy!

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Michael Crichton, who passed away yesterday at the age of 66, was not someone who had an impact on my interests until the ’90s but I felt compelled to offer my condolences in these quarters anyway, perhaps because he exemplified interests of mine that defined the next phase of my life after the ’80s and High School.

Crichton’s seminal book Jurassic Park was released in 1990 and made into a movie in 1993. The movie was probably the first great popcorn flick after Eightiesology ended. It was a perfect transition flick, helmed by Steven Spielberg with all the glorious wonder you’d expect from one of his films. There are elements of it that would make you think it DID come out in the ’80s. But alas, the thing that helped establish this movie (and story) as ahead of its time was its special effects. As good as they may have been in films in the ’80s…this film presented a quantum leap in storytelling that upped the ante for films of its ilk. And despite being one of the first to utilize certain technologies, the movie even today looks remarkably more realistic than some of the dime-store crap that’s put out today.

Around this time, the film also helped nudge me in the direction of novels. Up until this point, I hadn’t enjoyed reading. For school or my own entertainment. But during my first year of college, I discovered the works of Crichton, Tom Clancy and John Grisham. From that day forward, there haven’t been many nights that I’ve gone to sleep without first reading a chapter from a book. Sure, some will scoff at my presumptions of literature but it’s my personal philosophy that if you can get anyone reading books, you’ve already made the world a better place. This helped pique my imagination in new ways and led me to establish my dream of becoming a writer myself. This was my new sand box, my new toy box. The ’80s were over and I was anxious to develop.

Crichton also created the television show ER, which arrived in the mid ’90s. This was one of the first real dramas that I regularly watched. Up until this point it had been mostly sitcoms and escapist fictional dramas like Quantum Leap. But with ER and The X-Files, my interest was elevated into more serious fare, both of the realistic and the alien kind. The latter paved the way for my absolute affinity for serial mythological dramas like Lost and 24. But ER was my first grown-up show, the first episodic fiction that caught my curiosity without flash and wonderment but with the often brutal reality of life in the emergency room. (As well as the lives of the doctors and nurses working the ER.) This was another facet of maturing in the ’90s

I still watch ER and have read most of Crichton’s books. Jurassic Park remains one of my favorite stories. I didn’t know the author was even sick until I read that he’d already died. It’s shocking to lose such an imaginative intellectual. Eightiesology offers its condolences to Crichton’s family and friends. But first, I offer my heartfelt appreciation for telling me such wonderful stories and helping an Eightiesologist grow into a Ninetiesologist. Rest in Peace.

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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. 

 

(more…)

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