Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The games we played

Writing the post on Atari Games brought back memories of a time before computers, cell phones, Ipods and that new technology has brought us since the days before computers were a common item in our homes.

As a child, I was happy with my dolls, board games, playing cards, dominoes . . . and playing outdoors getting exercise.  We entertained ourselves by riding our bikes around the neighborhood, having hula hoop contests, jumping rope, playing badmitton, catch the ball, dodge ball.

It is sad that mothers in present time have to be afraid to let the kids play even in the front yard with all the weirdos out there grabbing children in plain sight . . . daylight.

The days gone by were so innocent . . . we didn't have to worry about that kind of weirdness . . . what has happened to our society?

Anyway, I digressed . . . I wanted to talk about how babyboomers entertained themselves without all the fancy stuff the kids of today have.  I'm jealous, although I didn't miss what I didn't know I didn't have :)

As a younger child I loved Cootie and Potato Head . . . I would spend hours on the floor playing jacks, pick up sticks or building odd objects with my Tinker Toys.

How about the Slinky?  It fascinated me . . . so did the Etch-A-Sketch.

My nana played cards with us all the time.  My favorite card game was Old Maid, although I really took it serious and get really mad if I got stuck with the Old Maid card.  I am still a sore loser!  She taught us how to play all types of rummy, poker and I loved to play war . . . I still do.

When I think back at my favorite board games, my number one would have to be Monopoly . . . the game that never seems to end . . . and we loved it that way.  There was a board game we played that I'm not even sure was popular, but my brother and I sure loved it . . . it was called Careers . . . cool game, I still have it.

Even as a child I loved music.  I still have my nana's collection of 78's . . . Perry Como and Rosemary Clooney were her favorites.  My collection of 45's are still in those funky colored 45 holders that hold stacked records and have the handle on the top.  I thought about selling them on eBay, but I couldn't part with them even though I haven't played them in years.  Yes, I'm a pack rat!

I still have my quadrophonic stereo that was my prized possession of later days . . . I really thought I was something with a speaker in every corner of my room . . . although my parents hated how I HAD to play it so loud.  It just didn't sound right unless it was super loud :)

One of my favorite pastimes was playing my guitar and making up songs . . . something I continued to do through my adult life.  Some things don't change with age and I guess we all have that inner child within us.  Don't we?

The games we played and those things we did to entertain ourselves were pretty cool, in my opinion.  Although I am jealous that we didn't have computers, in a way I am glad we didn't . . . don't know if that makes sense to anyone.  We had interaction and activity with friends and family . . . the computer tends to isolate.

What do you think?

What are some of your recollections
 of your childhood and the games you played?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Atari Games

Remember when Atari Games became wildly popular in the 80's?

Computers were not far behind although we didn't have an inkling of how far we'd be thrust into a world called the internet that would be the ultimate of entertainment.  As far as we were concerned, Atari Games were space-age technology . . . a huge leap from board games and playing cards, the games enjoyed in our childhood days.   

Little did we know what was to follow . . . 
it was beyond our wildest dreams.

These were my favorites . . .

Technology seemed to have fast forwarded to the computer age
after Atari . . . it was an awesome time to experience the changes.

What were your favorite Atari games?

Friday, November 19, 2010

K-Mart Blue Light Special . . . back in the day

This image represents the 1970's from a 1996 Kmart calendar
 tracing the history of Kmart through the decades. 
The image is being used for fair use purposes only. Copyright All rights reserved by KaizenVerdant

Does anyone remember the original blue light specials at K-Mart?  

When least expected, the blue light (a mobile police light) would light up at a specific section of the store where a discount was being offered.  Simultaneously, the speakers would be blaring "attention Kmart shoppers" . . . announcing what the special was, directing customers to the flashing blue light.

Actually, the phrase "attention Kmart shoppers" is part of American pop culture history.  Did you know it was included in the movies Troop Beverly Hills, Six Days Seven Nights and Beetlejuice?

The original marketing plan of the Blue Light Special was first introduced in 1965 and was retired in 1991.  Various marketing campaigns using the phrase have come and gone, but none of the revivals had the excitement of the original concept at the peak of Kmart's success.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Who's The Boss . . . 1984-1992

Who's The Boss was one of the most popular sitcoms of the 1980's, 
winning multiple Emmy and Golden Globe awards.

The sitcom broadcast from 1984-1992 
with the same cast . . .
Tony Danza, Judith Light, Alyssa Milano,
 Danny Pintauro and Katherine Helmond

We loved watching the perils of the male housekeeper and
the workaholic woman he was employed by.  Together, along with
her mom Mona, they struggled with the difficulties of raising
children, dealing with everyday ups and downs of life, death
and of course my favorite part, romance.

Tony Micelli, a widower and retired professional baseball second baseman, wanted a better life for his daughter Samantha . . . away from Brooklyn.

They ended up in the yuppie community of Fairfield, Connecticut where Tony accepts a job as a live-in housekeeper for Angela Bower, a divorced advertising executive with a son Jonathan.  

Her mother Mona could have possibly been the first "cougar woman" portrayed on television . . . quite unusual for those times.  The powers that be took much liberty and sexual innuendo with this character and her men friends who ranged from preppy college age hotties to silver haired foxes.

Mona was my favorite character!

Throughout the course of the eight seasons, there were hints of mutual attraction between Tony and Angela, although they dated others and denied their feelings for each other for many years.  What developed through the years was an awesome friendship . . . they were best friends and relied on each other for emotional support.  In my opinion, it was a wonderful message of the "friends first" mentality.

In the final season, they enjoy a whirlwind romance that continued until the close of the sitcom . . . leaving the audience to wonder . . . and possibly open the door for another sitcom at another time.

So . . . who was the real boss?

Tony and Angela's Top 10 Moments

A reunion show would be awesome . . . 
and the rumors have been flying around
 for the past couple of years.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Nanny

The Nanny's theme song, "The Nanny Named Fran", which was written and performed by Ann Hampton Callaway, replaced the former theme song in syndicated reruns of the pilot episode.

"The Nanny" Promo Video

The Nanny is an American television sitcom first aired from November 3, 1993, to May 12, 1999, and starred Fran Drescher as Fran Fine, a Jewish Queens native who becomes the nanny of three children from the New York/British upper class.  

Fran Drescher created and was executive producer, taking much of its inspiration from her personal life, involving characteristics based on friends and friends, including Fran Fine's parents, Sylvia and Morty, and grandmother Yetta, who all were named after their real-life counterparts.

The show earned a Rose d'Or and one Emmy Award, out of a total of thirteen nominations, and Fran Drescher was twice nominated for a Golden Globe as well as for an Emmy. The sitcom has also served as inspiration for several foreign adaptations.

Funny moments from "The Nanny"

During it's six-season run, The Nanny maintained the same core characters, although a large number of guest stars and recurring characters were introduced through the years.


Fran Fine

Fran Drescher

Maxwell Sheffield

Charles Shaughnessy


Daniel Davis

C.C. Babcock

Lauren Lane

Maggie Sheffield

Nicholle Tom

Brighton Sheffield

Benjamin Salisbury

Gracie Sheffield

Madeline Zima

Sylvia Fine

Renée Taylor

Yetta Rosenberg

Ann Morgan Guilbert

Val Toriello

Rachel Chagall
Cast list source:  Wikipedia

Early The Nanny episodes were shot in front of a live studio audience on Stage 6 at the Culver Studios, however, during later seasons the taping was no longer performed before an audience.

My favorite running gag of the show was Fran lying about her age . . . followed by  Maxwell's rivalry with Broadway producer Andrew Lloyd Webber, Sylvia's obsession with food and Fran's obsession with Barbra Streisand.

In my opinion, the best storyline was the season 3 finale where Maxwell tells Fran he loves her, but takes it back in the Season 4 premiere.

The sitcom is currently in syndication on TV Land.

The Nanny Official Website

Friday, October 29, 2010

Johnny Depp does music . . . the rock star . . . Into the Great Wide Open - Tom Petty


Oh my, Johnny would make a
fine looking rock star,
but can he sing?

Actually, Johnny's career began with his dreams of becoming a rock star. His garage band eventually started playing clubs in South Florida while he was still under age and had to sneak in and out of the back door to perform. The band began to take off, supporting such punk/new wave era greats as Talking Heads, B-52's and Iggy Pop.

Johnny dropped out of high school at 16 to concentrate on music and in search of the big time . . . the band relocated to Los Angeles where a different destiny awaited one of the most gorgeous men on earth and one of our generation's most talented actors.

Check out his rock star moves in Tom Petty's music video
"Into The Great Wide Open"

One of my favorite Johnny Depp movies! 

 He was nominated for a Golden Globe for his astonishing performance in Benny & Joon, though the entire cast is equally impressive. Benny (Aidan Quinn) runs a small car repair shop. He must also take care of his mentally ill sister Juniper, better known as Joon (Mary Stuart Masterson). After losing a bet, Benny is forced to bring another eccentric into his house: Sam (Johnny Depp), the cousin of a friend. Not inclined to conversation, Sam expresses himself by performing Charlie Chaplin.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Where's the Beef? . . . 1984 advertising campaign featuring Clara Peller

Back in 1984, Wendy's came up with one of the most memorable ad campaigns of all time.  The phrase "Where's The Beef" caught on like wildfire . . . the connotation being that a Wendy's Hamburger was a comparatively bigger value than that of their competition. 

The slogan is a definite part of our pop culture . . . it is still part of present day slang as a saying for questioning the substance of any proposal, idea or product.  It was also used by Walter Mondale in the 1984 Democratic presidential primary campaign to critique the insubstantial proposals of one of his opponents, Gary Hart. 

The theme of the ad campaign was a disgruntled old lady who trotted into a non-Wendy's fast food restaurant, bought a hamburger with a "big bun," and griped, "Where's the Beef?"

The disgruntled old lady was Clara Peller, a retired Chicago manicurist.  She clearly represents Andy Warhol's "15 minutes of fame" adage as she went from obscurity to star after being discovered at the age of 81 . . . she passed away from natural causes in 1987 . . .

Her uniquely husky voice and quirky mannerisms caught the attention of an ad agency working on an advertising campaign for the then struggling Wendy's fast food chain.  The rest is history . . .

The advertising campaign was a huge success, finding Clara herself on a number of tie-in products . . . coffee mugs, t-shirts, posters, puzzles, bubble gum, a "Where's The Beef" game and on and on . . .

A single was even released based on "Where's The Beef"

Here are some of the television commercials . . . seems like yesterday!

A bit more nostalgia . . .

The advertising campaign ran for two years, although it seems longer . . . but left a lasting impression for pop culture historians.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A babyboomer's flashback . . .

As far back as I can remember, there was music playing 24/7. My mom and dad were known in our community as "the dancers", so you can imagine.

The first music I remember was 50's rock and roll and Elvis was the King. I love his music to this day, have seen every one of his movies at least five times and even went to one of his concerts a few months before he died.

My dad met him when he was filming "Follow That Dream" in Ocala, Florida . . . they were filming the bank scene the following day and my mom and dad parked themselves outside the bank since my mom was so pissed that it was my dad who met him and not her. They were there early in the morning and as dusk approached, they had to give up and leave, but my mom did get to touch his pink Cadillac. One of my prized possessions is my Elvis concert program that takes me back to that day . . . he was visibly ill, but still put on one of the best concerts I have ever been to (and I have been to many concerts in my life).

My early childhood musical favorites were Fabian, Bobby Vee, Frankie Avalon, James Darren . . . pop music! My first true love was James Darren until Paul McCartney hit the scene. My female idol was Sandra Dee who I thought was the most beautiful woman ever and so wanted to look like her, even though my italian background had me looking quite the opposite . . . more like Annette, I guess not such a bad thing. One of my favorite childhood movies was "A Summer Place" . . . . quite the racy movie for its time and the Gidget series of movies. Of course Cinderella is way up there on my list of favorites . . . I still have the yellow plastic record 78 LP soundtrack from the movie. Somewhere along the way, I lost my Cinderella watch. :(

It was a time where families all sat at the dinner table together without the distractions of the television, video games or the computer. Even when we finally got a television, my dad restricted us from watching it all the time as he thought life was about more important things. Of course it irritated me, but now, in a weird sort of way, I somewhat understand his thinking.

We compromised for the very favorite things to watch on television, which for me included American Bandstand on Saturdays, The Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday nights, and The Mickey Mouse Club every weekday afternoon. I was a little person in elementary school, but my musical roots were already formed. Even with the new exciting thing, the television, for me it was about the music.

It was a time when families were close, times seemed slower paced and my brother and I were quite content with the simple toys we played with . . . it occurs to me that children are very spoiled in these times with such a vast array of toys . . . and do they ever have enough of anything? I often wonder how my life would have been different and/or changed if we had all these "things".

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Office Space and the red stapler

Anyone who has ever worked in the office environment, especially one that is lined with cubicles as far as you can see, will appreciate this movie. You must see this movie if you've never seen it and have worked in one of these places. You'll see someone you know in every one of those characters. Then there's the guy with the red stapler . . . too funny.

I've seen this movie so many times, and never get tired of it.  Watch it if you've never seen it and want to laugh . . . especially if you have worked in a dysfunctional environment!

This movie needs to go in a time capsule!

An excerpt from Wikipedia, click here for the whole page on the movie:

"The film depicts a group of employees at Initech, a company plagued by excessive management, and the everyday annoyance of office work in a cube farm setting evocative of the Dilbert comic strip. Soon after the movie begins, two consultants (John C. McGinley and Paul Willson), nicknamed "The Bobs" since they both have the same first name, are brought in to Initech to help with cutting expenses. The workers at Initech are then interviewed in order to determine which employees will be downsized or outsourced.

Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston) is a software engineer who spends his days updating bank software to remedy the then-expected Y2K disaster. His co-workers include Samir Nagheenanajar (Ajay Naidu), who complains that no one in the US can pronounce his name correctly; Michael Bolton (David Herman), who is angry that he shares his name with the real-life singer whom he hates; and Milton Waddams (Stephen Root), a soft-spoken, fixated collator who mumbles to himself incessantly (most notably about his co-workers borrowing his stapler) and is repeatedly harassed by management, especially the callous vice president Bill Lumbergh (Gary Cole). Lumbergh is Peter's nemesis — a stereotypical corporate middle-manager (reminiscent of Dilbert's Pointy Haired Boss) who spends most of his time wandering the office with coffee mug in hand, wears white-collared shirts, suspenders and a belt (considered a fashion faux pas), and emotionlessly micromanages his employees while engaging them with superficial small talk.

Peter finds himself stressed, burnt out, and ineffective, and will likely be on the Bobs' downsizing list. Fortunately for him, something unusual happens during an occupational hypnotherapy session urged upon him by his soon-to-be ex-girlfriend Anne. The obese "occupational hypnotherapist" Dr. Swanson, portrayed by Mike McShane, suddenly dies of a heart attack before he can snap, or "unhypnotize", Peter out of a state of complete relaxation. The newly relaxed and still half-hypnotized Peter finds out that Anne is cheating on him but takes the news in stride and doesn't seem to care. He announces that he will not work anymore (although he won't quit either), instead pursuing his lifelong dream of "doing nothing", and finally asking out Joanna (Jennifer Aniston), a waitress he's long wanted to date.

In a parallel story, Joanna is experiencing a similar frustration with her boss regarding trivial issues, notably the "flair" on her uniform (catchy slogan buttons that supposedly contribute to the "fun" atmosphere of the restaurant). Although she wears the required number, 15, she is constantly harassed for only doing what is required (although it is never explicitly stated that she should wear more).

Meanwhile, during his interview with the Bobs, Peter opens up for the first time about the absurdity of his job and of how Initech is run, including the issue with having too many managers and not having any real motivation to work except to avoid hassles. The Bobs interpret Peter's candor, easy-going attitude, and lack of regard for his job as evidence that he is unmotivated in his current position and thus a prime candidate for a managerial position. Much to his surprise, and Lumbergh's dismay, Peter receives a promotion while his friends Samir and Michael, two of the department's best employees, are scheduled to be layed off.

At a bar with his two friends, he reveals that his strange behavior is not so much because of the residual effects of hypnotism but because watching the hypnotherapist keel over in front of him gave him a new perspective on life; not to waste it on pointless activities.

In order to get back at the company, the three friends decide to infect the accounting system with a computer virus, which will round down fractions of a cent from accrual of interest and transfer the leftovers into their own account over a period of years, leaving them with a cash windfall undetected by the corporation (see salami slicing). Peter, when questioned by Joanna about what he and his friends had been celebrating, attempts to diminish the sense that he is doing something illegal by comparing the theft to taking the pennies from the penny tray at a convenience store.

The plan however backfires when a bug in the virus program's code causes it to take $305,326.13 in one day. The three friends are certain that such a large amount going missing in so short a time period will be noticed and result in their arrest. After a crisis of conscience, Peter decides to write a letter in which he takes all the blame for the crime. Peter slips an envelope containing the letter and the money (in unsigned Travellers cheques) under the door of Lumbergh's office when Lumbergh is not there, expecting to be arrested soon afterwards."

Click on the Wikipedia link for more about this movie . . .

The opening clip of the movie . . .
for adult audiences only (crude language)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Johnny Depp and all those magazine covers!

Magazine covers . . . they always catch my eye
 when standing in line at the grocery store.
My video features some of the magazine
covers that have featured Johnny Depp.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Johnny Depp as Edward Scissorhands

Edward Scissorhands is a 1990 American romantic comedy fantasy film directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp. The film shows the story of an artificial man named Edward, an unfinished creation, who has scissors for hands. Edward is taken in by a suburban family and falls in love with their teenage daughter Kim. Supporting roles are portrayed by Winona Ryder, Dianne Wiest, Anthony Michael Hall, Kathy Baker, Alan Arkin and Vincent Price.

At the time of his casting, Depp was wanting to break out of the teen idol status which his performance in 21 Jump Street had afforded him. When he was sent the script he immediately found personal and emotional connections with the story.

In the casting of Edward, Fox was persistent in wanting Tom Cruise to play the part (who was displeased at the unhappy ending), although Tom Hanks, Jim Carrey, William Hurt and Robert Downey, Jr. expressed an interest and were considered.  However, Tim Burton's first choice was Michael Jackson.

The role of "The Inventor" was specifically written for Vincent Price.  The Inventor, Edward's "father" created him and taught him how to speak, read and be socially polite. He died due to his great age before he could give Edward a complete set of hands.

Edward is an unfinished creation of his inventor/father who dies before he can complete the job. He is removed from his lonely existence in a hilltop mansion by Avon lady Peg Boggs and eventually lives with her family in a pastel-colored version of suburbia.

The film was shot in the Tampa Bay area of Florida . . . various locations, the mansion scenes were shot outside of Dade City . . . the locations partly chosen because of Florida's frequent blue skies.  Local filming lasted three months before moving to Fox Studios in California for the interior mansion scenes.

He becomes the source of fantasy, gossip, resentment, adoration and lust for the neighbors, whom he wins over with his outlandish haircuts and elaborate sculptures. Burton explained that his depiction of suburbia is "not a bad place. It's a weird place. I tried to walk the fine line of making it funny and strange without it being judgmental. It's a place where there's a lot of integrity."

Kim leaves her jock boyfriend to be with Edward, an event that many have postulated as Burton's revenge against jocks he encountered as a teenager. Jim is subsequently killed, a scene that shocked a number of observers who felt the whole tone of the film had been radically altered. Burton referred to this scene as a "high school fantasy".

There was obvious chemistry between Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder . . . they were "the engaged hot couple" back in those days, helping to draw a younger audience.  The movie was considered a box office success.

About Johnny's transformation into Edward . . . it took 1 hour and 45 minutes to go from gorgeous to creepy.

Information Source:  Wikipedia


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