I can tell a very busy work week is about to hit me between the eyes so before I get knocked stupid by F-stick 1 and F-stick 2 who can’t understand the difference between a print driver and a golf driver, I better get this writing bug out of the system. I have a couple of items that need to be shared and it’s a great way to break my horror movie constant that I have been on for the past couple of months. I am sorry about that. But before I go into the randomly ridiculous, I need to take a second out to thank my buddy Grover who is the marketing director at The Hub channel. We were school chums and he is proof that success did come from my educational institution. Such a great guy.
Whaaaat? I came home from work this evening to find an unexpected package at the door and when I saw the Hub logo on the box I knew it was from Michael. A whole box of The Hub channel swag and he sent it just because he’s a great person. I love that channel and every Thursday night I am having an ALF attack. Now I can say I know someone on the inside.
If you don’t have The Hub network I really feel for you. Take a good percentage of this blog’s history and make it into a channel and there is The Hub. There is something very special about airing Gremlins 2: A New Batch and following it up with G.I Joe on a Sunday afternoon. Especially when you are working on budget reports and drinking beer. It’s all such a weird mix.
On a recent trip to Bed Bath and Beyond, I spied this canister of UNC baby blue…hot chocolate??? I live in North Carolina and no matter where you turn there is some UNC this or NC State that or Wake Forest this or Duke that. If you are a transplant, like myself, and went to a different undergrad university in another state, it’s fairly annoying. It’s as if no one really graduated and moved on. Well, as far as me not caring about UNC, I can’t pass on blue hot cocoa. I am thinking about just removing the label and writing “Blue Hot Cocoa” just for great cupboard effect. I need to have guests exclaim, “YOU HAVE BLUE COCOA!?!?” I spent $5 on this so I think I am entitled to at least one of those.
Okay, this was not what I was hoping for when I opened the lid. I really wanted to see blue powder. But that magical Blue #1 requires science in order to turn from anthrax to a baby blue hue. It is a tad boring but acceptable.
Add water for magic! I must say I am impressed and it was exactly what I imagined it to be. It reminded me of the Judy Bloom book I was forced to read as a small kid and before I was aware that Judy Bloom books were for girls. The story is about a kid who pukes in class and how yarfing in class is something most kids will do. Thoughts of blue oatmeal plagued her until she finally spewed. From then on, any food item that was unnaturally blue reminded me of that. As a 35-year-old today, it’s still my first reaction. Damn it, Judy Bloom!
So, the color is wacky but how about the taste?
Not great. It’s like white chocolate and in my opinion, that’s not chocolate. Now that I said that, I am prepared for a fight.
The overall concept is great and that is what I need to remember. But I refuse to think that this is UNC hot chocolate. Oh no. In my mind this is Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen’s blue drink.
This story is a testament to how much simpler life was back when I was a kid. I had almost completely forgotten about this story until recently when I was talking to Kristen and low and behold, it just popped in there! The brain never ceases to amaze me because this memory has been stored for over twenty years only to randomly fallout like a picture used as a bookmark falling from a Garfield comic. (Because we all have read these in the 80’s) It comes at a good time too because this blog was turning into rubbish with mindless beer reviews and beef jerky. That’s no way to go through life, son.
Saturday nights for a certain period of my life were a special time. For whatever reason, from 7:00 to let’s say 10 or 11:00, my parents hosted a few couples from church for a bible discussion party. Well, I assume that’s what it was though I can’t be sure because my evenings were far better, which you will find out soon. After their bible yap, everyone would mingle and share the desserts each couple brought. I was allowed downstairs for that. Until then I was confined to the parents room with the TV, books of sharks, and whatever else a young seven-year old needed to pass the time. But at 9:00 my attention was devoted to a very special program that sometimes proved to be regretful whether it was later on at night from fears of what lurks under the bed or….well…keep reading.
I didn’t have cable until high school so with five channels (not including PBS because that was like watching school) and four channels on the smaller rotating dial, the selection was limited. But on Saturday nights there was quite the programing on Atlanta 46! The most memorable, of course, was “Tales From the Darkside”. For those not familiar, get out. I kid! I kid! It was a thirty minute program that featured two stories of macabre and strange tales usually starring some middle of the road actor from the time. Not all the shows were great but to a seven-year old, each one was a masterpiece.
One fateful Saturday afternoon my Dad informed me that a couple would be bringing their kids to the bible party and I would have to share my Saturday night of B-rated TV. While I was a little disappointed because as an only child I am a spoiled little dick, I had no say in the matter and began looking for the bright side. I mean, it could be fun.
It wasn’t at all. I knew it the second they arrived as I watched them pull into the driveway. These kids were melvins who brought their own pillows. They brought their own pillows for Christ sake! I sighed and walked limp-armed back to the parents room across the hall, head hung low and waited to hear people walk up the stairs. But instead Mom called for me to greet the un-welcomed guests and walk them to my Saturday sanctuary where no parental guidance was required.
I must have look like a pill giving a limp handshake to…Whats-his-face (let’s call him Jimmy for lack of memory) and his little sister, Rebecca.
Rebecca would be a problem for me.
With their idiotic board games and pillows in hand, we trudged upstairs to ruin my night. I offered to leave them in my room to do their will upon my collection of GI Joe and Legos, but that only appealed to Jimmy; the one kid I thought wouldn’t mind a night of twisted tales of grown up gore. Rebecca was stuck to my side like a rock in tire tread. Looking back as an adult it was pretty cute but to a kid that waited all week to hear the intro to “Tales From The Darkside”, it was an un-welcomed advance and there was no way to give these home schooled kids the slip.
Throughout the evening I tried to be entertaining and cordial. Jimmy wasn’t too bad, partly because he had Castle Greyskull to play house with and could care less about the world around him. Rebecca, however, sat hip-to-hip with me on the floor, eyes fixed on the TV as we watched “Small Wonder” and I nervously counted down the program schedule until “Tales From The Darkside” aired. Only one more “feel-good” show to go!
Dad brought us popcorn and cokes and asked if I was being a good host to which I responded “yeahyeah” without breaking gaze from the TV. He left to rejoin the adults and I could hardly wait because now was the time I had waited for patiently and even though I had to share this moment with these two weirdos, it was happening.
The intro alone distracted Jimmy from battling the forces of Cobra as he joined his sister and me on the floor, soon to witness the macabre and scary tales this glorious show had to offer. And brother, this one was a doozy! It was the first episode and pilot for the show that George Romero himself wrote and produced. The episode was called “Trick or Treat” and had demons, witches, pirate zombies and Satan himself all wrapped into a half an hour. Let’s break it down, shall we?
After the magical introduction we begin the story with a typical Scrooge-like character, Mr. Haggles, played by Bernard Hughes (one of my all time favorite actors). He is having his books balanced by a couple of accountants and we begin to learn what a cheap miser he really is, charging one of them .04 cents for another cup of coffee. But we also learn he has a twisted side too as he scares the two accountants into a bowel evacuation by an animatronic…thing that he uses on children during his favorite “SEASON”, Halloween.
That’s right. Mr. Haggles says what I have always believe and that is Halloween is a season, not a day. Anyway, he goes on to explain how every year he tempts the children in the valley to find the IOU’s of their parents that he holds liens on, hidden somewhere in his house, and if they find them all debt is forgiven. But no one ever has because of the terrifying tricks he has set up around his home.
We see during the afternoon of Halloween the bind he has on the parents as they are so deep in debt to Mr. Haggles that they even have to buy costumes for their children on credit in his general store. He taunts them into sending their children to the Hell house with the chance to have their debts forgiven.
Much like Romero’s style, there is a deep cultural issue hidden behind a cheeky horror story. We see how desperate people in financial distress can be and in some cases, putting their children in harm’s way to get out of their situation. I’m not going as far as saying prostitution but…kind of?
Oh Jimmy, find the IOU’s and get those much need braces or don’t find them and get a beating. The odds aren’t good since Mr. Haggles has a house full of spooky sounds and animatronic ghoulish surprises in store. Jimmy comes close but just couldn’t take the torture of Mr. Haggle’s taunts.
As Jimmy runs out of the house his father picks him up in a nurturing way and walks home defeated. Mr. Haggles laughs at the terrified kid but there is a moment when he has his bubble burst when Mr. Muldoon isn’t angry but rather a caring father. You can almost hear Mr. Haggles sigh a “humbug”. Who is next?
Another potential victim rings his doorbell and from his Wizard of Oz type control room, he looks to see who it is. Another kid? A parent coming to whoop an old man’s ass? Not quite!
In every story when a greedy person meets their fate, there seems to always be this third-party who’s entire being is for punishing the sinner. By far, this is my favorite punishment. He looks into the peephole only to see one of the scariest witches as she cackles a “trick or treat”. He opens the door to shoo away this prankster only to come to the realization that this is a real witch. She flies through the house on her broom and magically finds the hidden IOU’s and blows them in his face. Frantically, Mr. Haggles jumps to catch them all completely overlooking that he HAS A FUCKING WITCH IN HIS DEN and runs through the house shouting “my money!”.
In each room he is met with these type of creatures, who are not animatronic, but real and all over his cash. He is in disbelief that a pirate-zombie is sitting on his check deposits and scurries to salvage the flying cash. Which leads him to….
Ah, Satan himself. The Devil reverses the taunting and repeats “you’re getting warmer” and Mr. Haggles crawls his way down a bright red corridor which is made of what appears to be bubble wrap. While the set design looks to be a mediocre haunted garage that can be found in any suburb on Halloween night, it is a little creepy. Mr. Haggles crawls his way, chasing his blowing cash, to what is perceived to be Hell. Good riddance.
But what about all the poor people who were in debt to Mr. Haggles?
Well, the witch gave it all to Billy. The End.
As we finished this tale of awesome, I came out of my “Tales From The Darkside” trance to the world around me. Only Jimmy was sitting next to me but where was Rebecca? Apparently during the Hell scene she ran from the room and down to the bible study in tears telling her parents that I forced her to watch ‘R’ rated devil shows. Before I could evaluate the situation I heard the familiar sound of my Mom’s fast paced stair climbing gape. There was nowhere to hide. Jimmy looked at me and said, “You’re in a lot of trouble”. Fuck you, Jimmy, you home-schooled melvin.
The credits were still rolling while Mom and her parents breached the door and she yanked me from the floor so fast there was a tiny pop from a sound barrier break. I was escorted to my room by the elbow and Jimmy was taken downstairs to join his traumatized sister and would be given cookies and cake until their parents decided to leave. I cursed them all from my bed having daydreams much like Ralphy from The Christmas Story, thinking how sorry they would be if I was blind or have an affliction that required sympathy. But I wouldn’t give them the satisfaction.
By the next week when bible study came around, the melvins did not join me. I was thankful for this but my Saturday nights had to be spent without TV. But was it worth it?
Here we are, turned all the way up to eleven. Tell me where that line comes from and I will give you 400 gorka gabbas. If you don’t know what those are they are my own currency that I plan on flooding into the economy. So you will be ahead of the game! What was I talking about?
We will start off with the bread winner for the Tanner family in one of my favorite shows of the 80’s, ALF. Max Wright played Willie Tanner, a meek social worker that is constantly pushed to the edge by an ADD alien named ALF. I always tuned in on Monday nights, sitting in my GI Joe’s (themed PJs) nervously waiting the moment when Willie snapped and back-handed Kate or hammer punch Benji in the nose. Of course it never happened and Willie kept his cool, even when Alf dug a pool in the backyard garden.
Max hasn’t been in the TV or film circuit in the past 10 years. Partly because of his diagnosis with lymphoma and his run in with a few mailboxes resulting in a DUI arrest. On the lymphoma he has been in remission but the duey, I’m afraid Max plead guilty. Dag, yo. He has been in many TV episodes throughout the 80’s like Tales From The Darkside, WKRP in Cincinnati, MASH, and even was in the first couple episodes of Friends as the Central Perk’s manager. But ALF was his only real main role for TV. As far as his other acting roles he has been in such movies as Soul Man, Grumpier Old Men and The Sting II. His live theater acts like Broadway actually led to a Tony for IVANHO. Who knew Willie would win a Tony?
Max currently resides in California with his wife, Linda and their two kids Ben and Daisy. I suppose he is doing well and waiting, like the rest of us, for an ALF comeback. But that can’t happen until ALF puts down the pipe and sticks with his rehab.
You think that cookie looks like Anne Ramsey? Fuck’n eh, it does! But really, I think it looks more like this below from Big Trouble In Little China. Either way, you can’t eat something that cool.
So yeah, Anne Ramsey was an icon in the film industry. At least the film industry that interests me. Her most memorable roles to me were The Goonies, Mamma Fratelli and Throw Mamma From The Train. Can you believe she was nominated for an Oscar for that? Too bad she past away from throat cancer before the nominations were rewarded. Regardless her list of roles were plenty and in all reality she didn’t start her film career until late in life.
I remember being a little scared of her as a kid. I think it was the gruff appearance and her “after stroke” way of talking. To this day my friends and I quote “Quiet, you lashey poop!”. That was from Throw Mamma From The Train.
She was married to the actor Logan Ramsey but her career really took off after his death. She has been in a number of great films like Scrooged, Any Which Way You Can and National Lampoon’s Class Reunion to name a few. But to me her most memorable role and sadly her last was a cranky old lady in ALF. Strange how that ties in. RIP Anne.
Alison Parker. Who is Alison Parker, you ask? That is a good question because unless you have seen the 1977 movie, The Sentinel, you wouldn’t have a clue. I have researched quiet a bit and came up with very little. And I find that strange because her only role is a staring one and she shares it with many famous actors and actresses like Christopher Walken, Chris Sarandon, Ava Gardner, Eli Wallach, Tom Berenger, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Dryfuss, and many more. Where did she go? But I guess that’s my job to know, huh?
I think I need to keep these next two in character. Above is Ben Gardner in the movie Jaws. Actually he is a real fisherman that inspired Shaw’s character Quint, but that’s neither here nor there. Ben has an on going role in the movie but is rarely seen. Known as the local fisherman he pokes fun of the visiting frenzy of fisherman stating “…they’ll wish their mothers had never met their fathers when they start slamming into those rocks…” and other such witty jaunts. But there is one thing that puzzles me. How did he die?
See? Did Jaws just eat one eye? Did he trip and stick it on something sharp? Did Jaws spit his head back in the boat? Who knows? I smell fowl play.
Much like Ben “Headintheboat” Gardner, Ben Trammer of Halloween one and two has an ongoing but rarely seen role too. In the first Halloween Ben and Laurie had a thing. Well, as much as two shy nerds do, anyway. But poor Ben made the mistake of being a William Shatner fan much like Mike Myers was and dressed just like him on that night. What are the odds? To good in my mind. In any case, Ben is seen above fleeing Loomis who is having an episode only to be hit, crushed, exploded and burned to death by….a deputy of the law.
I didn’t really have a question about Ben but I do find it very uncreative of the screen writers to dress Ben up as a blond Michael Myers. I mean, did Ben off a tow truck driver too? Meh, I am thinking too hard about this again. S knows what I mean.
They say smell is the closest sense to memory we have. To me I think my memories align with TV sitcom theme songs. I guess it was how I was raised as an only child but when certain shows from the 80’s come on I feel the need to get on the floor, face the screen less than a foot away, sit on my knees and drift into TV heaven where every episode had a moral lesson and every crisis lasted only 30 minutes. It is weird to think that Nell Carter’s voice can bring up memories of Fun Fruits.
These songs were really catchy too. I swear that if they came on the radio I would crank up the volume, singing every word without a care who was in the car. Even if I was carjacked the dude would have to shoot me before I changed Webster’s theme song.
Small Wonder wasn’t a huge show by any standard but to a third grader in the 80’s it was my world. God, I had such a crush on the girl who played the robot, V.I.C.K.I.. It’s kind of strange that I thought she was hot but in real life at school I truly thought girls were more or less bio-hazards. I guess they ranked about the same as Harriet. Oh goodness I hated her. I had fantasies that Vicki would punch the freckles right off her face. No such luck.
What would we do, baby? I never was too into Family Ties because, well, I never identified with the family. That song does bring up a little nausea, though. We were sitting in the family room watching Family Ties when I honked on my lap due to many many Samoa Girl Scout cookies consumed earlier in the day. To this day I can’t stand coconut, cookies with holes in the middle, the color purple, merit badges, or the Family Ties cowbell. Go figure?
One Day At A Time was on when I was still shitting myself and while I don’t have any real memories of this show I do remember my Mom playing this on the piano. Everyone confused her for Mackensie Phillips so she learned the theme song and sang it all the time. I guess she felt flattered by the comparison. Regardless I can taste Gerber peaches and smell the old ’71 Beetle when I hear this.
I still remember that this came on at 8 am on PBS. It’s not like I was down with reading or the fabulous book reporting the kids did or even the blind guy from StarTrek but this song means summertime. I have turned on this show many times in my bathing suit getting ready for a productive day of running through the sprinkler. Plus that synthesizer is just too cool. I still find myself imitating it even today. “beepee bop booo beeee pee bop pooo” I went a little too far, haven’t I?
Is there anyone in the world that doesn’t sing along with that? You can actually walk through the mall whistling “Charles In Charge’ and with in seconds some person with harmonize “….and our rights/nights.” Try it. I promise it will happen. If it doesn’t I will mail you a pink hat that says “Alamo” on it. I’m good for it.
This was mainly an after school show that involved me not studying Algebra and ultimately led me to a C. I never did thank Scott Baio for that. So, thanks Scott and after seeing your new show on VH1 I was right, you are a douchebag.
I loved this show when I was little. He was a pretty cute little kid and if George and Ma’am wanted to adopt a little bear cub that could talk this was as close to it as one could get. But I have a bone to pick with this show. My last name is Webster and most of the eighties and early nineties I was subjected to the same gay joke, “are you an adopted black midget?”. So, I owe the creators a thank you too. Thanks assholes.
Is there anything more one can say about ALF? Great show, good cast, funny puppet, and I was right at the appropriate age to really get into ALF. There was no shame in having Alf PJ’s or an Alf doll as a kid. In fact it was greeted with a tip of the hat and thumbs up among the peers. But recently I was watching an old episode and I had this uncomfortable sensation that I was in trouble. Then it hit me. Back when this show was popular I was a bit of a Hell raiser and about 8:10 on a Monday night, 1989, my teacher called to inform the folks that I was sent to the principals’ office for fighting. Can you believe a thirty year old guy’s heart jumps when the phone rings during Alf?
Nell Carter really wails, huh? I loved this show and I am not too proud to admit that if this was on a Karaoke list i would be all over it like Nell on a biscuit. OOOOOOH, I went there.
No real sensory driven memories about Gimme A Break but I just wanted to let everyone know I appreciated it. And I guess that will be all for now. I know there are a lot more like Growing Pains, Golden Girls, Empty Nest, C.H.I.P.S., Magnum PI, and….
Fuck me, I almost forgot Airwolf. This was the show I waited on all week. Even today when I am in a plane this song is on replay in my head. There is nothing cooler than this theme song and if anyone cares to argue you will be met with me plugging my ears, chanting”…I want to kill everyone, Satan is good, Satan is our pal..”