Showing My Age: 70’s Style

24 02 2008

While I consider the 80’s an “important” decade in my formative years (and look back fondly on the music, movies, tv and styles, well SOME of the styles), I spent more of my formative years in the 70’s. My wife recently recounted her favorite 80’s memories. It has inspired me to write of the 70’s in the same manner. It is my sincere hope that this will be a cathartic experience and help me understand how I became the twisted individual that I did. Let’s delve:

I like to spend an unhealthy amount of time playing games (like Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary, etc). The root of this could be traced to one of these:

This was an addictive, let’s say “educational” game in which you had to quickly memorize patterns and repeat them on the game face. Though this game might look boring to a kid used to today’s standards, any blue-blooded 70’s kid found the flashing colors mesmerizing (and possible seizure-inducing).

Which Witch? was a really cool game in which little kiddies had to make their way through haunted rooms like the “spell cell” without having their game piece turned into a mouse. I know there was a whammy ball that did something bad to you (nothing to do with the Press Your Luck Whammies on tv). I’m thinking this one would not be for parents who ban things like Harry Potter books from their kids, but I remember thinking this game was really, really cool. As far as I can tell, this game is rare and was possibly never a big seller. I’d love to hear from anyone who remembers this game.

Oh yeah, hand held electronic football. This one was a savior when you had to go to bed. It was easy to hide this thing under your blanket and keep playing. I’m pretty sure you could even turn the sound down or off. Sweet. Of course, now the simple little red blips would have modern kids calling it lame, but it was electronic heaven for me.

I also long for some of the toys of my childhood. My favorites included these:

The seat sure doesn’t look especially comfortable now, but it was good enough back then as I tore around the driveway like a speed demon. Who didn’t love turning sharply and spinning out the back tires on one of these things? I thought I was tough on this, at least until I would screw up and skin something. That inevitably ended in my crybaby self running into the house in search of Mom with big crocodile tears on my wussy face. (Hmm, I may have issues.)

Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots! What better way to learn conflict resolution skills than to punch frantically until the blue robot (I was always the red one, as no really cool kid would ever choose the blue one) had his head punched off (or in this case, up). The head/neck thing made a really cool “zipping” sort of sound when you pushed it back down to reset it.)

This came with a booklet of several songs that guided you on what color (the colors shown above the keys) to play. Before long, any six-year-old could play something like “You Are My Sunshine” all day long. What parent would not enjoy that? I remember those little plastic faces as being rather vociferous.

Wiffle (or Whiffle, depending on your preference) Ball! Yes, I mercilessly pounded had friendly games with many of my younger nephews in the back yard. Dad would make us quit, sometimes, because we’d make a nasty bare spot in the back yard where home plate was. I was forever arguing about this, saying, “It’s our back yard; I’m supposed to be playing in it!” We also had to be careful not to plow through his garden so we had a special rule that if you hit into the garden, you were automatically out. It was like having one big outfielder out there. This prevented anyone from running quickly into the garden to retrieve the ball. You could slowly, carefully extract it since the hitter was already out. We also frequently dented the siding on the garage. I had no logical way to defend myself on this one when Dad got angry. The main problem with this toy? Kids in possession of hard plastic bats that somehow found other uses than playing wiffleball.

A kid can’t play all day long. Eventually, you just have to turn the television on! I remember mornings filled with cartoons like The Pink Panther, Hong Kong Phooey and my all-time favorite:

Speed of Lightning, Roar of Thunder! Fighting all who rob or plunder! Underdog! Underdog!

Underdog was the bomb. I really wanted him to beat his nemesis, Simon Bar Sinister. DRAT!

My least favorite kids’ morning show was this piece of crap:

Land of the Lost: It was cheap-looking (even by past standards), and it was just plain weird.

One can’t live by cartoons alone, and I remember really enjoying some tv shows with my mom and dad. There were the obvious ones, like Happy Days, but there were others as well:

Quincy revolved around the life of a medical examiner who had to unravel crimes through his science. Think of a much nicer House meets a much cheesier CSI. Anyone remember this one?

This game show, hosted by the very cool Bert Convy, pitted celebrity couples against each other. They would have to guess how their spouse would answer certain questions. I remember the giant headphone things half the spouses would wear so they couldn’t hear what their partners were saying. It was somewhat racy at times, at least for a little kid, and I enjoyed that whole-heartedly.

This was a classic! It seemed like the biggest money game of its time, and it was a great game. Dick Clark, of course, ruled on this show. (Check out the awesome 70’s moustache on that contestant!)

Oh yeah, The White Shadow. The coach, who was a pro basketball player forced to retire early due to injuries, goes against the advice of everyone he knows and becomes the head coach of the basketball team at a tough, poor school dealing with racial tensions. I thought Coolidge (one of the players) was the coolest. Anyone else out there miss this one?

The last tv items I’ll mention are two slogan/songs I remember from 70’s commercials. One was for Burger King: “Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce. Special orders don’t upset us. All we ask is that you let us have it your way!” The other was for perfume called Enjoli. The ad was trying to appeal to working super-women who were doing it all. It featured an attractive woman singing: “I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never ever let you forget you’re a man, cuz I’m a woman…Enjoli!” I don’t know if this ad was successful or not with their target audience, but it seems to have had a lasting effect on a 10-year-old boy.

Let’s move from tv to music. Records were fun (until they got a nasty scratch on them). Three of my favorites were these:

Now that I’ve posted the pictures, I’m thinking all three of these were double albums, which was a nice bonus. (Correct me if I’m wrong.) I had older brothers and sisters, and I think Frampton was a “hand-me-down” that was left behind for me. I loved how Frampton would “make his guitar talk” and say, “Do you feel like we do?” ELO mixed pop/rock with string instruments. The one pictured included the popular “Turn to Stone.” I loved both the soundtrack and the movie “St. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” by/with the Bee Gees and Peter Frampton, among others. I thought the movie was great, back then, but I have the feeling that I would realize it sucks if I saw it now.

When I had to leave home and go to school, I packed my trusty lunch box. Anyone remember the old metal lunch boxes that would actually rust at some point? I had some dorky ones, like some generic batman-like lunch box (can’t even remember the name of the cartoon), but here’s a cool one:

Which ones did any of you have?

Now is as good a time as any to mention one of the funniest style jokes God ever played on the U.S. when He convinced people to think Leisure Suits were cool. Here is an extremely embarrassing picture of myself and my parents. Wow, my mom and I are in matching suits that she made. That’s awful.

At least I never had to wear these:

Let’s just move on. I wasn’t yet driving in the 70’s, but I remember being a little kid wishing for one of these:

I thought Chevy Monte Carlos were very cool. I never ended up with one, but later on when I could drive in the 80’s, my first used car wasn’t that far off – a 1975 Olds Cutlass Supreme, similar to this one:

Mine was red and was a not-as-cool 4-door model. It ended up getting totaled when someone else’s car got hit and knocked over the center line into me. Ah well, it was a good car while it lasted.

Who remembers the Datsun cars of the 70’s? I remember my brother had a yellow one that I think was this type:

I need to wrap this blog up before I’m tempted to include even nerdier pictures of myself. However, I have saved the best 70’s memory for last. The two best creations of the 70’s were both born in 1975. One is my gorgeous wife. The other is this guy:

This Schoolhouse Rock character was the best! See the whole video here!

Thanks for stopping by, and please share any 70’s memories you have.

The Twelve Questions of Christmas (Survey)

7 12 2007

The 12 Questions of Christmas (My Wife’s Survey)

  1. What’s the best gift you have ever received? How about the worst? Best is a tie: The mp3 player from Allison (my wife) and the other is when my nephew, Luke took a novel/story I had written years ago and had it bound and made into a book. He even had appropriate cover art put on it. Worst would be a canned ham, yes canned ham that I won at a company Christmas party raffle when I worked at Goodwill. It was covered in some kind of sickening gel. Who thought of that? It would be better to have someone win a card that says, “Sorry, you didn’t win a gift, but at least you don’t have to touch a canned ham.”
  2. What is your favorite Christmas movie moment? In It’s a Wonderful Life, when young adult George and Mary are sharing a phone while listening to the guy Mary’s mother wishes Mary would date. George and Mary want to kiss each other, and the tension is so thick that they are literally shaking from the desire.
  3. When do you open gifts? I am a Christmas Eve sort of person (or earlier!)
  4. Do you believe in Santa? If not, who convinced you that he’s not real? Metaphorically, I’m a believer! However, to literally answer the question, somewhere around age 6, I approached my mom and told her I had been thinking about how Santa could cover the whole world, etc and assured her I wanted to know. Then she filled me in.
  5. What is your happiest Christmas memory? I’m sure the “Best Is Yet to Come” (as Sinatra would sing) since Abby our daughter is just beginning to understand that Christmas is something special. For now, though, I’ll go with lying on my back near the tree as a kid with the tree lights on and all other lights off. The lights made cool multicolored designs on the ceiling.
  6. Describe an ornament that has special significance to you. One that Allison gave to me a few years ago. It’s a s’more that looks like a snowman, and it says, “I burn 4 U.”
  7. What famous person would you most like to encounter under the mistletoe? This one: mistletoe
  8. When it comes to decorations, are you a Griswald or a Grinch? More of a Griswald.
  9. What is your favorite version of a Christmas song? My dad once said his favorite Christmas song was “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” as it was significant in his memory of being away at war (WW II) and wishing to be home for the holidays. I love Sinatra’s version of this song, and I still get goose bumps when I hear it.
  10. Have you had any traumatic Christmas-related experiences? Well, the canned ham….more seriously though, I am a graduate from the University of Evansville and have followed their basketball team since I was little. When I was 10, the whole team was killed in a plane crash just a week or so before Christmas. That was very sad. Here is an interesting article about it: UE tragedy We are actually watching, We Are Marshall right now, which is about a similar tragedy that killed that school’s football team. (As an aside, my answer to question 7 is in that movie.)
  11. What would be an appropriate gag gift for most of your friends? A New Kids on the Block cd.
  12. Would you rather be a partridge in a pear tree or a lord a-leaping and why? I’ll go with the lord a-leaping (and I’d dunk the basketball while yelling, “In your face! Oh and Merry Christmas.”)