Top Gun and the X-mas Pepsi Disaster

I am back. No more traveling for this working stiff. Well, at least not for another month so let the Christmas countdown begin!

Today I am going to share a story I seldom tell because it shows what a naive and questionably intelligent kid I was at age seven. It’s not that many had a good grasp on basic physics in their younger years but gee whiz, at least they didn’t do this.

Every Christmas Eve it is a family tradition to open one present. That present is carefully selected from the few that were under the tree which taunted me for a month before the big fella brought the rest later in the night. That particular Christmas, Top Gun was the previous summer hit and after having had a theater experience like that, I knew I was destined to be a F-14 Naval Aviator but (spoiler alert) we all know I did not. I eyed the gifts and with a recently purchased VCR begging to be fed, I eyed what could only be a VHS tape. To my delight, I received my favorite movie, Top Gun.

Not wasting anytime, I begged the parents to let me watch at least the beginning scene. You know the one, when all the planes take off and Kenny Loggins belts a killer “Danger Zone”? Yeah, you know the part. My nagging worked and I found myself up in their bedroom, unwrapping the cellophane, sliding the tape from the box and inserting the tape in the VCR. The anxiety of Christmas presents took a backseat to the movie which changed my life, or at least changed my idol from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Tom Cruise. Patiently, I waited through the FBI warning for piracy and just when I thought the Paramount mountain was next, it was a commercial.

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It was not just a commercial but it was a Top Gun parody commercial by Diet Pepsi. Had it been one of the damn Coca Cola bear or that stupid pigtail-ed girl, I would have FFWD that shit out of it but this was different. This had two Navy Fighter jets! And a “Refreshment System”!

This pleased me.

Okay, so we have two fighters that just came off of maneuvers and in celebration they are treated to a Diet Pepsi but something went wrong. Apparently Mustang’s DPRS (Diet Pepsi Refreshment System) malfunctioned and would not release his drink. Taunted by his fellow crew in the opposing jet, he fibs and claims no problems on board while trying to jimmy his Diet Pepsi free. Then, pulling out a bottle opener, he has an idea.

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Thinking fast, this cocky jet jockey pops the top of the Diet Pepsi that is lodged in its “Refreshment System” and held a cup to the edge of the bottle. Instead of tipping the bottle over the cup, Mustang turns his A-4 Skyhawk upside-down, simultaneously pouring his drink into his cup using gravity and the agility of his aircraft.

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The two assholes in the F-5 look around in puzzlement, wondering where he went. To their surprise, Mustang pulls an inverted maneuver and looking up, they are canopy to canopy, forced to acknowledge there really was no problem with his ability to be refreshed.

We finish with Mustang rolling his jet over, his cup of Diet Pepsi keeping inline with the angle of attack. The two jets roar over head and disappear into the blue as the iconic voice of Pepsi states the tagline, “Diet Pepsi: The choose of a new generation”.

Whoa! I was fascinated. I wanted, nay, had to try to invert-pour a soft drink into a cup. Nevermind the movie beginning, nevermind Kenny Loggins was starting to sing about the “Danger Zone” and nevermind Santa, this was what I need to try. But how? I didn’t have an A-4 withe a refreshment system or even a bottle of Diet Pepsi.

I went downstairs and found the closest soda to a Diet Pepsi (a can of A&W) and a coffee mug. Also a bike helmet. I went back upstairs with the items in hand as the adults were still at the dinning room table talking about dull things which were apparently hilarious. I never understood the conversations from the adult table that elicited such laughs and wheezes.

There I was, sitting on the edge of the bed with my pretend fighter helmet on and holding a can of soda in my left and a mug in my right. How the hell am I going to do this? I tilted my left arm up as my right arm dipped but it wasn’t quite right. I needed to somehow roll myself upside down as well. Shit, this was hard.

I GOT IT!

What if I was to lay on my bed and role in a 360 degree righthand turn? That would surely work and not only would I feel like Mustang but it would be the only way I would drink soda from then on. I would be a trendsetter!

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There were a couple of flaws with this plan which I am sure you can spot already. You see, the soda and my body need to remain static while the cup would be the only rotating item of the three. Or no, maybe the A&W rotate and the cup is static? Obviously I did not put much thought into the plan and laying on my stomach holding the can of A&W root beer in my left hand and the cup in my right, I began to roll over and poured the soda. Oddly the soda did not pour in the cup as planned but in a shocking and cold surprise, all over my face and the bedspread. I gurgled and spit and sat straight up, blinking the root beer from my eyes and when I came to, there was mom looking as shocked as I was.

She turned from the doorway and yelled downstairs to my dad, “BILL? BILL! YOUR SON IS IN HIS BIKE HELMET AND POURED ROOT BEER ALL OVER HIMSELF AND OUR BED!!!”. I am sure it must have been a pretty confusing sight to see and just as confusing to my dad and guests to hear. If there was ever explaining to do, this was it.

I won’t get into the yelling or the multiple towels and forced bath but I will say, they got over it. And every Christmas Eve I am reminded of the time I tried to pour a root beer upside-down…on their new bed…in a bike helmet.

Have any funny stories you are reminded of by loved ones during the Christmas season? Spill ’em! (see what I did there?)

 

 

 

The Video Rental That Made Me Weird

I remember a time when a trip to the video rental store was a Friday night must that determined what I would be up to for that night and possibly Saturday night too. The whole process took almost an hour to decide what two hours I would sacrifice my youth on because in a store with nearly ten thousand movies, there was a high probability that you could end up with a doozie. That probably explains why Iron Eagle was rented close to two hundred times.  And Muppets Take Manhattan. And National Geographic documentary on Sharks. Anyway, I had a very particular genre of movies that didn’t leave much room for anything new and looking back, my parents must have really dreaded Friday nights in the living room. Who can possibly take that many volumes of Gallagher stand-up without going a little mad? But all that changed one fateful night in 1991 when I slipped the surly bonds of Blockbuster’s normal selection to touch the face of horror and forever alter my Friday nights…and sleeping habits. This video was True Hollywood Ghost Stories and it terrified me. And perhaps it took hold psychologically because even today in my Youtube search, when I found this on a whim, because everything is on Youtube, I had this overwhelming need to look behind me.

I am not sure why I rented this particular video. My idea of a scary movie back then was Harry and the Henderson’s so it’s a wonder how this ended up in the family VCR. Looking at the cheesy late-eighties graphics, there isn’t much to be too disturbed about but that is where this film takes a turn for the unsettling and really takes on the same creepiness as the popular show, Unsolved Mysteries, with that amazing Robert Stack voice. The cool part about this film is it has a documentary feel to it and it is composed mostly of clips of old to recent horror movies. The kicker, and reason it made my blood run cold, was how it explained the supposed real ghost cases that the movies were based on and behind the scene disturbances while making them. Now imagine, if you will, a young boy who had never seen a horror movie, getting all the scariest scenes grouped together and then learning about how they may be true. Yeah. There was a spike in the utility bill that month from the hall light being left on at night.

Meet the host, John Carradine. He wastes little time in the introduction to shift from zero to one hundred when he begins with how the film, and the scariest thing I have ever seen, The Exorcist  not only had evil happenings on the set but was based on a real event. I had never even heard of this movie until I rented Real Hollywood Ghost Stories so when I first laid eyes on that grotesque appearance and raspy voice of the possessed Regan, I think I just sat on the floor and cried. I’m not kidding, I was a little pussy as a youth. During little league baseball I once dove for cover from a pitch that ended up being a strike. So, seeing the most terrifying movie ever made and learning how it was true all in the time span of ten minutes, I shorted out. And this video rental only got worse from there.

The beginning of The Exorcist part was the author, William Peter Blatty and he described what his inspiration for writing the book that later became a movie many believed actually had the devil imprinted in the film itself. He said he witnessed a phone picking up off the receiver itself and come down onto the table. I am the believer that chairs, dishes, phones, shoes, anything that doesn’t live and moves on their own is so much scarier than a creature jumping out at you. So as a very impressionable kid hearing this account had me captivated. Especially when it was followed by this face:

Even as I type this I hate looking at that picture. It had such a profound effect on my as a child and it was many years later that I finally summoned the courage to rent it during a high school sleep over. But this introduction to The Exorcist  was enough for me at the time. Especially learning it was all based on true events, people died working on the film, it caused audiences to go crazy and not to mention the fact that I was looking at something beyond my comprehension to what I deemed scary. It’s like growing up training ponies and then someone puts you on a bull at a rodeo. I could have used a gradual transition to horror.

The next story was of a real haunting of a house in Hollywood owned by an affluent couple, the Sommer’s and it was so bad they ended up selling and becoming a world-wide media spectacle after their story was published in Life magazine. Even the photographer was a skeptic couldn’t explain why or how his film kept having shadowy figured in motion from frame to frame. I loved the story but of course, as a kid I took it all very seriously and every bump was a ghost and every settling noise was a poltergeist. This didn’t help much, especially when they tied in the story of Steven Spielberg and Tobe Hopper’s, Poltergeist, and how much like The Exorcist, people died from this film and the set even burned down. Great. I don’t think this would have been quite as impacting if it didn’t have detailed accounts from Life magazine and NBC reporters that witness all these events. Even though I was an impressionable kid, I knew the difference between loons and credible people. Especially the next “true” Hollywood account about a woman who was assaulted by what was to be believed to be an entity. Hence the title The Entity.

This didn’t go over well either because learning how the local university recorded and documented this story and it became a constant in the world of parapsychology, even studied at the prestigious Duke University, I did not like learning about rape-ghosts. Nope. It’s as if this video kept trying to out-do itself! Each movie and real case scenario was a segway to the next bone-chilling tale. Like how The Entity was a great shift to the world renown Amittyville Horror. And of course, I got a taste of it by only seeing the most frightening scenes.

Much like the Poltergeist scene, a rocking chair doing what it does best by itself is about as scary to me as it gets. Especially when a kid is interacting with it and when an adult comes interrupts everything goes quiet. That is until the adult goes tot the window only to be met with glowing eyes and pig grunts. From then on I did my best not to look outside at night which proved to be tough because I had an atrium in the center of my bedroom.

Well, this fateful video rental kept up the creeps and went into the legends of Hollywood and their ghostly encounters like Houdini and the original Superman who committed suicide. It’s odd that both the original and the motion picture Superman was named Reeves. Is that a well-known fact? Maybe it is. Anyway, the scares peter down a bit but it is still a pretty good watch, even for today’s standard.  They leave the viewer with a really cheesy music montage of a pretty corny song and truth be told, it’s absolutely perfect. It even manages to leave you with the warning not to take for granted you are ever alone in the dark. I took that warning to heart and kept the lights on almost through middle school.

You can watch the whole series on YouTube and I’ll start you off with the first part. Enjoy this as much as I still do. Sometimes it’s nice to look back and still get the same impression from when you were so very impressionable. Sleep tight!

Autumn Is Creeping

I can not believe that Fall is coming so soon. Next Tuesday is September the first and the death rattle of summer has already begun here in the Northwest. Before I know it all the trees will be bare and my flops will be flipped for boots. But we ain’t there yet. I am going to make a promise this year. I am going to enjoy this Autumn and embrace the coming holidays, unlike my last couple of years. This time I am really going to do it right because I love this season. You know it’s magic when it’s magical and that my friends, is a statement to live by.

The List

  1. Annual Fall beer review (haven’t decided which one yet. Suggestions?)
  2. Probably a puppetry art blog with more candy
  3. Going to bake something. (send recipies)
  4. Octoberfest review in Levenworth, WA
  5. The half Marathon in Levenworth (See Macabre Fitness for that one)
  6. Tribute to Halloween 3
  7. VHS Horror Night (brought to you by the local VHS rental store)
  8. Annual carving of something
  9. Jones Soda review
  10. Memories of Holiday-past blog (for sure)
I always cheat my way out. Corn should have had thorns.
I always cheat my way out. Corn should have had thorns.

 I will be adding to this list but I think I can at least come through on these. I have a new and much larger place with a neat little office to work from so my creativity has no excuse to go tits-up like I have been doing these past months. I find writing has been all about atmosphere as of late and now that I can look at my Tom Atkin’s picture for creative inspiration, I know that good things are to come.

I have finally finished my “Where did You Go?” post but before I post I want to check some conflicting facts. A while ago I recieved an email from a star (?) with a correction. I am not sure if it is legit but regardless, I want to be truthful and not hurt anyones feelings.

 

Dirt Napping

Man, what a month it has been! Can you believe in just a couple of weeks we have seen not one but four celebrities pass away? I know a couple were circling the drain but the other two, wow, out of nowhere. Well, let’s give them a shout out.

42-3870-smEd McMahon lived the life, didn’t he? He always struck me as a guy who liked his drinks a particular way as well as his women. I could be wrong but neckerchiefs and gold bracelets never lie. At 86 one would say that’s a good long run but I did feel a little bad about his homes going into foreclosure right before he died. I think Donald Trump bailed him out but still, that sucks something fierce at that age with the legacy he had. I hope he is up in heaven having a bullshot with Phil Hartman.

farrah-fawcettI think we all knew Farrah’s time was soon but still, an icon like this going down is still hard to swallow.( That sounded dirty and I am sorry.) Even as a young kid I remember looking at this exact poster in my Uncle Brett’s room and thinking, “I don’t know what is happening but I like it.” She blazed the trail by empowering women to embrace their beauty and use it rather than feel ashamed and hide it. At least that’s how I perceived her intentions. Her passing really brings to light the fact that cancer is terrifying and no matter who you are or what status you hold, it can still get you even after years of battle.

caratulas_MICHAEL_JACKSON-THRILLER_Ok, I did not see this one coming. Not at all. I know he lived a life of mystery and bizarre behavior to include a total face transplant, having a monkey, living in Neverland, napping with kids and naming his kid Blanket but I never imagined him passing so young. I remember when Thriller came out and that video terrified me as a kid. Those monsters were far more scary and disturbing than any rated R movie at the time. I can still close my eyes and think of Vincent Price’s part in the song and walking at a fast pace to my parents room for a safe night of slumber in their bed.

I will be honest, the man was a genius. He seemed to defy gravity when dancing and his albums were nothing less than perfection. I have yet to meet a person that didn’t like something he did. I bet even the Taliban has a little love in their hearts for Moon Walker.

m171161359As Scooby Doo would say, “Rut the Ruck?” Billy Mays died? Are you serious? I have always had a fascination with the man and it wasn’t for his ability to sell you shit you would not normally buy on TV but rather his high decibel voice. The man had no indoor voice and I wrote about that almost two years ago. You can find that here. Well Billy, I am sorry you were silenced so early. Your voice will forever be in my head  saying, “Billy Mays here!”.

You know what else died? My favorite bar in Idaho. It is true, my home away from home is gone forever. I know that including a bar in a blog about dead people is a little insensitive but I really feel like I lost a lot of friends.

When I moved to Idaho I knew no one. I mean really no one at all. I was living out of a hotel until I could find a place to live and my only real means of social interaction was the gym and the local pub next door called Paddy’s 2. That very day I first stepped in there I was taken under-wing by the bartender, met a nice lady would allowed me to to stay in her basement until I found myself a permanent pad and went on to forge many friendships that I still have today. It is sad when such an establishment goes under and you have only memories. And with a bar they are usually foggy ones.

IMG_0693Happy trails, Dougie. Until we meet again.

On a happier note, you are looking at, er, reading at(?) the proud member of probably the last 100% VHS rental store in America. Yup, it just proves that Idaho is still hanging in the 80’s. Of course I rented Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The ‘Burbs because that is how they were intended to be seen. Oh VCR don’t fail me now, we have work to do.

IMG_0692Oh, and somehow I caught pink eye. Jokes on me.

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