Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Teen Diaries |The Camp Blue Bay Diary Entries of 1985

Take note of my lovely ET sheets. I still have them.
Upon visiting my mom, I stumbled upon a red journal filled with entries from my week at Girl Scout sleepaway summer camp in East Hampton's Camp Blue Bay.

Summer of 1985 I was 12.5 years old. I loved The Goonies, Cyndi Lauper, makeup, gummy bracelets, friendship pins and Huey Lewis & The News.  Looking back, summer sleepaway camp sort of prepped us for college dorm life. I love how I documented everything I ate! Such a chubber!  I'll admit, these diaries are queer and boring. My comments are in parentheses.

FIRST DAY!  Tuesday, August 13, 1985
Today I re-met Nikki from last year. I met two new really nice girls, Lisa and Diana. I just set everything up, it looks neat. I wrote 2 letters so far. One to my friend Serena and another to Mom. I took the swim test. I ate a mayo and lettuce sandwich for lunch (ew?) OK, time for dinner.

I'm back and ready to write. I'm also alone. I have bad windburn on my cheeks. It's now 8pm and getting dark. I wonder where everyone is. I mailed my letters. The other girls are starting a camp fire. I'm gonna write Danny a letter (Danny was my platonic male best friend). 

It's now 9:21pm and we made smores. Dee is reading her bible and I'm laying on my bed holding a flashlight. I love Sean Astin. Good night.

Posing in front of our "lean-to" showing off my Tommy Howell pin-up.
Wednesday August 14,1985
So far I ate bread and butter for breakfast. We went on the BMX bike trail. It sort of stinks. My hair is very wet. I put my head under the hose. It's break time now. 

Tommy Howell is hanging on the post in our tent. He's not that bad, kind of cute. I wish I didn't have to go swimming. I hate the gross rocks and smelly salt water. I'm hungry. I hope we have a good lunch. I skipped two meals so far because I didn't like the menu choices. I can't wait to go home and swim in our pool. Summer's almost over, only two more weeks to go. I'm so depressed. I wanna go home so bad. (This is funny, I thought I loved camp!)

I love Sean Astin.

Nikki really hates me, but that's okay because I hate her more.  I might move in with Kristen, Athena and Nicole. I can't stand it here in the tent with Nikki and Dee. They're always fighting with me. I'm friends with everyone at camp except Nikki and Dee. Lisa is nice though.

For lunch I ate 2 tacos. I found out I can't move in with my pals in Tent 6. Nikki and I are trying to get along now. We all had a water fight before, it was fun. I bought a really gnarly tote bag (ha ha, gnarly!) and Collette, a counselor from Belgium thought my name began with an "E" and wrote "Ellyson" on my bag. I don't really care though. 

Tabatha and Laura are fighting. I'm sitting in the kitchen, it's 8:24. I'm dying to go home. I hate bugs so bad, especially Daddy Long Legs. (I still hate bugs!)

Thursday August 15, 1985
I ate 2 boxes of Sugar Pops (remember when they weren't called "Corn Pops"!) for breakfast. Nikki's singing and we're alone in the tent. I can't wait to go home! I'm not having as much fun as last year. A lot of the kids are flaky this year. I'm very hot and tired and wish I didn't have to go boating. (I was never an outdoorsy person, I forgot even as a kid I hated doing things outdoors!)

It's break now. We had to clean the bathrooms. We ate pizza bagels for lunch. We played line basketball and killer for 2 hours. I went rowing for a while. I hate swimming. I don't like Andi that much and don't think she should be a counselor, she's not that nice. I can't wait to go home tomorrow! We have lazy day, we get to sleep til 9am! I love Sean Astin. I miss Mom. I wrote Mom, Joe (brother), Serena and Danny. They made us write to our family again today. 

We had a big talent show.  I wanted to do a lip sync. We looked so dumb. I ate potatoes for supper.

Stay tuned for Part II of the exiting and dramatic Camp Diaries. Did you go to camp? Did you keep a diary while at camp?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Unfriended on Facebook? Unfollowed on Twitter or Blogger?

This weekend I spent all of Saturday afternoon helping two former classmates plan our 20th high school reunion. While hitting up our high school contacts on Facebook via Blackberry and laptop, we made a horrifying discovery. Wouldn't you know it, a bit of "unfriending" had gone down over the past few months. We took a few moments to digest the devastating situation and did our best to cheer each other up. A year ago, I blogged about being deleted from Facebook and/or unfollowed on Blogger, and the experience is still the same.

It hurts. I won't pretend to deny it. Being unfriended (remember, it was word of the year in 2009!) has a way of bringing back feelings of being ousted from the cool kids lunch table at school. It makes you wonder if you said something offensive or "liked" something uncool. What exactly was it that turned off the receptionist from your old job or your kindergarten crush?

Perhaps this particular person was sick of seeing your Farmville updates and didn't know they could simply hide the game. It's true! There are Facebookers who have yet to figure out how to add photos or hide people's status updates. If that's the case, someone needs to teach these Facebook folk to hate the game not the player. I'm not into those games and was psyched to hide the games!

Then there's Twitter. One day you're riding high with 706 followers, the next you're down to 704. What happened? Who unfollowed? Was it a bot or two? Was it someone who simply deleted their Twitter account? Did you tweet a few too many times poolside bragging about your lavish Bora Bora trip? One will never know. Twitter interaction obviously isn't as personal as Facebook. You haven't bonded with someone's family through their 500 photo albums and kept up with their routine through comments and status updates. I guarantee the feeling of loss isn't as deep with the tweeter as it is with the Facebook unfriender.

When it comes to the act of unfollowing, bloggers might agree that is one of the cruelest forms of being "dissed and dismissed." Most of us follow hundreds of blogs. The Blogger dashboard allows you to hide any blog you want (similar to Facebook's hide functionality) without letting them know. No need to unfollow! If you really don't want to see a blogger's blog in your reader, just "Hide from List" -- it's easy and painless for your fellow blogger. Think about it, what if you finally reached 300 followers and that one person brought you back down to 299? Ouch, right?

Just know in your heart if someone unfriended you today on Facebook or stopped following you on Twitter or Blogger, it's okay to grieve the loss. We've all been there and your feelings are valid. Yes, you will get over it, unless of course it's a close friend or family member. In that case, I suggest stop questioning yourself and go directly to the source. Call them out on such uncool social networking etiquette and just squash it! (To you younger kids, that was '90s slang for make-up and be chill.)

Thanks for reading and feel free to share your personal experience with being unfriended or unfollowed.


Monday, June 28, 2010

The Geraldo Rivera Internship at CBS

In the 1990s, talk shows dominated a majority of the television stations during the afternoon. Dramatically trashy stories about messy divorces, cheating spouses, squaters, hookers, DNA testing for promiscuous moms and dads were much more popular than they are today. Today the court shows seem to have taken their place, combining relationship and family drama with a courtroom backdrop.

In my senior year of college, I decided that I wanted to become a talk show host. My major was Communications with a concentration in Public Relations, however in order to graduate I needed to spend 125 hours interning. I secured a television internship with Geraldo at CBS Broadcast Plaza in the Columbus Circle section of Manhattan. The focus that season was the O.J. Simpson trial and murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. It was such an awful story. I felt horrible escorting family members to the green room and offering them Snapples and gourmet sandwiches.

Yes, it was exciting. No, I never really did anything with it. Looking back now, I should have kept my public relations focus. I do recall sending dozens of letters to the big PR agencies in New York City; none of them replied. I wasn't the right fit for television production at that time. Everyone had these obnoxious attitudes and fake tans. They sucked down a steady diet of nothing but Diet Cokes and cigarettes.

Producers would ask us broke-ass interns to pick up scripts and items they left at home, clean out the fridge and buy $6 cartons of milk at the CBS deli. Our weekly compensation was a $5 metro card which didn't cover a roundtrip subway ride to the studio. Ricki Lake paid for her interns entire commute. I opted for Geraldo thinking CBS was better than UPN-9. I also thought that Ricki was a newer celebrity whereas the legendary Geraldo Rivera had been in the biz for 20 years by that point.

During a visit to my mom's house, I discovered my old internship journal and wow was it an interesting read. Detailed entries about each day and the variety of tasks involved and people I encountered. I completely forgot it all. One of my favorite, yet simplistic tasks was going through viewer mail -- I enjoyed this while at Tiger Beat, SuperTeen and Metal Edge magazine as well.

My journal revealed my reaction to letters written to Geraldo. I remembered a letter from a woman who had burned her scalp with hair dye and the disgusting photos of her follicle frustrations. Letters from viewers begging Geraldo to find Jesus or God. Some letters included cheap, odd little trinkets. I would separate out letters that asked for help finding lost relatives or loves -- those viewers received a form letter from a sponsor that paid the show to advertise their "Find Lost Love" search service.

One letter I included in my journal was from a woman in DC. Her son was shot to death while working at a Washington, DC McDonald's. The letter brought me to tears. His mom said, "I said goodbye to my baby for the last time this morning. He never came home." I yanked that letter and put it in the "Story Idea" pile. I'm not sure whatever happened to it, but I wished I could personally visit the mom in DC and give her a big hug and tell her it would be okay. She described that he was a good boy, -- never in trouble. He was in vocational school and only worked at McDonald's for ten hours a week to earn money for their family.

I realized that day I was too emotional to pursue a true journalism or television. Who knows? Maybe this would have been an asset. We've all seen Barbara Walters and Oprah cry. That would definitely be me had I been given the chance to host my own show. Oh, and that mother from DC? She would be the first guest I'd book. I'd put her up in only the finest of hotels, have dinner with her and offer to set up a scholarship in her son's name.

Popular Geraldo episode featuring club kids.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Weekend Retro Rewind | Alphaville Forever Young

The end of June always reminds me of graduation, yearbooks, proms, summer jobs, driver's ed and more. If you've been following Fourth Grade Nothing for a while, you know I'm, well, stuck. Forever lost in reverie. Some days I'm stuck in grade school while other days I'm in junior high or high school. This song will forever remind me of my senior year. Most of my classmates quoted this song in their yearbook.

It's so ironic, I'm not sure if you've ever felt this way, but as a kid all I wanted to do was grow up. I couldn't wait to be out on my own, making my own rules. Doing something wondrous with my life. Many days I wish I could go back to a simple time. A time when summer meant swimming in the pool, devouring slices of watermelon not thinking for a moment about carbs or calories.

So many adults told us to slow down. They told us to enjoy our youth. I wish I had listened. Now I leave comments on the blogs of young, single folk telling them to enjoy their youth and that the world is theirs. Oh Alphaville, I agree, I want to be Forever Young.

Five Fast Facts About Alphaville

  1. Alphaville is a synthpop group from Germany.
  2. The band's original name was Forever Young.
  3. The song "Forever Young" was released in 1984, I was 12.
  4. "Forever Young" was featured in the following movies: Listen To Me staring Kirk Cameron, Napoleon Dynamite and on an episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia in addition to several ads.
  5. Today's kids are most likely more familiar with Youth Group's version of "Forever Young" featured in an episode of The OC or the mix by Jay-Z.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

What's In My Trapper Keeper? Davy Jones! Video Blog

Back again for another summer Saturday edition of "What's In My Trapper Keeper?" ...

As you know, back in the 1980s, I wrote to dozens of celebrities. Today, I reveal a cool card from The Monkees Davy Jones. Check me out!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Bitchin' 1980s Valley Girl Slang Words

Get this shirt at
If you were a kid or parent back in the 1980s, you "fer shur" remember the Valley Girl phase. This awesome use of 1980s slang seemed to last a rather long time. The stereotype started in the upper-middle class area of the San Fernando Valley in California... don't worry, I'll spare you the history lesson and cut to the popular Valley Girl slang terms. Do you remember these 1980s Valley Girl phrases? Feel free to post any I've missed in the comments section.
Get this shirt at 

Valley Girl Glossary: 10 Valley Girl Words & Terms

  1. Awesome - great, fabulous. Still used today.
  2. Barf Me Out - usually said when something grossed you out. Not used much today.
  3. Bitchin' - awesome, great, very cool. Not used much today.
  4. Choice - described something awesome and seemed very Hollywood. Not used much today.
  5. Dweeb - a nerd, geek or loser. Not used much today, yet I can see my parents saying "dweeb"!
  6. Fresh - another word for cool or awesome. Not used much today.
  7. Gag me with a spoon - another term for gross me out or barf me out. Not used much today.
  8. Gnarly - also meant awesome. Ironically today kids use it to do describe something gross.
  9. Grody or Grody to the Max - Super gross and "to the max" meaning to the maximum point of grossness. Not used much today.
  10. Totally - used to emphasizing such as very. I still sometimes say this today.
Who could forget the pivotal 1983 Valley Girl movie that started the Valley Girl craze as well as Nicholas Cage's career? Bitchin' soundtrack too!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Lipton Cup-a-Soup or Noodle Soup

Whenever we were under the weather, Mom served up piping hot bowls or cups of instant Lipton Cup-a-Soup or Giggle Noodle soups. She now jokes that today she wouldn't feel comfortable serving us instant soups knowing the high sodium levels, but back in the 1970s and 80s, it was acceptable.

That red box with the Lipton logo meant everything was gonna be alright. My ailing tummy or stuffy nose would magically feel some sort of relief after just a few sips of that yellow, chicken-flavored water and fake thin noodles. Years later, in college, 50 cent Ramen noodles took the place of Lipton as a college dorm room staple.

What magical treat did your folks fix for you when you were illin'?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

1980s Swatch Phones & AT&T Cordless Phones

Stephanie from Full House on her bulky cordless phone
It's difficult to remember a time when we didn't have cell phones, let alone cordless phones. Around age 12, I became a real phone addict. Saturday nights my parents would find me chatting with crushes and girlfriends into the wee hours while sprawled out on our kitchen booth bench. I'd dial up a gal pal and we'd recap what happened on that evening's episode of Silver Spoons or Growing Pains.

My dad wasn't a fan of my lengthy phone chats. By age 13, he invested in a second phone line. I felt very spoiled having my own personal phone number in my bedroom. I would snuggle up with my Swatch phone and chat with friends comfortably under the covers.

Totally 80s Swatch phone
By about 1985 or 1986 cordless phones became all the rage. They were bulky white or gray plastic with metal antennas. I would often attempt to walk around our yard while chatting in the summer, but the connection was so incredibly fuzzy.

I won't bore you with the details and history of the cordless phone, however one cool thing about the early cordless phones from the 1980s was that you could often pick up other people's conversations. Eavesdropping on other people's phone calls. Other than COPS, there wasn't reality television back then.

Check out this old school 1980s AT&T cordless phone commercial for an $88 deal at Kmart.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Bubble Yum, Hubba Bubba & Bubblicious

When my brother and I were little, our bedrooms were located on the second floor of our family's Long Island Cape style home. Mom would tuck us in and as she'd venture back downstairs, we'd yell to her, "Buy you bubble gum!" Not "Goodnight" or "I love you" but, "Buy you bubble gum!" Mom would always answer back with, "Me too! Buy you bubble gum!" I think my younger brother may have started this trend. I don't really remember how it began. I just recall it being a nightly ritual.

We loved bubble gum. Mom usually bought us sugar free Trident, but everyone knows the "fun" gum was Bubble Yum, Hubba Bubba and Bubblicious. I mean, who wants a gum that "four out of five dentist recommend for their patients who chew gum" or whatever that claim was. Ironically, today I only chew Trident or sugarless Dentyne Ice.

Here's a quick lesson on my three childhood favorites. Each deliciously sweet bubble gum brand was released in the late 1970s. The idea that they aren't sticks of gum, but actually "chunks" or "blocks" of gum make them all the more fun.

Brand: Bubble Yum 
Who Makes It: Hershey since 2000
Birth Year: 1975 from LifeSavers
Claim to Fame:  First soft bubble gum ever invented
Random Factiod:  In 1977, rumors began to spread that the gum's soft, chewable secret was the addition of spider eggs. This rumor was squashed when LifeSavers addressed the rumor in full-page ads in all the big newspapers including the New York Times.
Most Fun Flavors: Jolly Rancher Watermelon, Chocolate, Cotton Candy 
Calories: 25 per chunk

Brand:  Hubba Bubba
Who Makes It:  Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company owned by Mars, Inc.
Birth Year:  1979

Claim to Fame:  "Big bubbles, no troubles" -- marketed as first nonstick to your face bubble gum (from bubble blowing)
Random Factiod:  While in early stages of development, Hubba Bubba was referred to as "Stagecoach"-- their early ad campaigns had a western theme.  
Most Fun Flavors:  Sour Double Berry, Island Punch, Sweet and Sassy Cherry
Calories: 23 per chunk

Brand:  Bubblicious
Who Makes It:  Cadbury Adams
Birth Year: 1977
Claim to Fame: Bubblicious is the #1 selling gum in the US 
Random Factiod: Bubblicious holds the Guinness Book of World Record for the most bubble gum bubbles blown at one time.
Most Fun Favors: Lightning Lemonade, Bubblicious Carnival Cotton Candy, Paradise Punch
Calories: 25 per chunk

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Kraft Nabisco Handi-Snacks Crackers 'N Cheez

Kraft Foods' Handi-Snacks Cracker 'N Cheez snack

In the mid 1980s, this Kraft Nabisco cheese and crackers snack was one of my most favorites. There was something cool about the two different compartments. I loved unwrapping the plastic and revealing four or five rectangular crackers, a red plastic spreader and applying the cheese myself to each cracker.

The cheese, often soft and somewhat melted from my brown bagged lunch which sat in my desk for several hours prior to lunch time. It's funny, to this day I gauge how long a non-refrigerated sandwich will remain safely edible based upon my grammar school brown bagged lunch days. Seriously. I honestly do this, it's like my "grammar school bagged lunch" theory. Example, bringing a sandwich without a cooler on a road trip or leftovers back to a hotel room without a fridge, etc. Crazy, right?

Today, Kraft Nabisco has an entire line of Handi-Snacks featuring more modern day dipping options such as Bread Sticks 'n Cheez, Oreo Sticks 'N Creme and Honey Maid Grahams 'N Apple Dip. I wonder if they purposefully spell cream as "creme" and cheese as "cheez" because it's processed and fake? Anyone know? I mean, if the rationale was for the cuteness factor, wouldn't Nabisco spell sticks as "stix"?

Handi-Snacks, in my opinion, paved the way for Lunchables, also by Kraft. Think about it. Empowering kids to fix their own processed food lunches from cute sectioned-out plastic trays?

Weekend Retro Rewind | Dad's Day Edition | Barry Manilow

Posing with Dad in 1986 (age 13) at our condo in Florida
In honor of Father's Day, I'm bringing Weekend Retro Rewind back to 1975. I was only about three when this song came out. When I was five, my dad took acoustic guitar lessons. I'm not quite sure why, but he always sang "Mandy" by Barry Manilow to me on his guitar.

Me at age 5, when Dad would sing to us
My name obviously isn't Mandy, Mom's name isn't Mandy and Dad wasn't a Barry Manilow fan. Maybe "Mandy" was the song they were learning in his guitar class. Whatever the case, I loved it. I loved when Dad would sing to us by the fireplace in the little ranch house in Oakdale, Long Island. It's one of my favorite memories of my dad. Dad's a plane ride away in Florida, so other than a phone call, I haven't been able to celebrate Dad's Day with him in about ten years now. Read more about my dad here and here.

Fun Facts About Barry Manilow's "Mandy"
  • Originally written as "Brandy" in 1971.
  • Sick of being asked who "Brandy" was, the song writer, Scott English said it was his dog.
  • "Mandy" was Barry Manilow's first number one hit.
  • "Mandy" was Barry Manilow's first gold single.
  • Artists who've covered "Mandy" include: Westlife, Donny Osmond, Andy Williams, Johnny Mathis, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

What's In My Trapper Keeper?

I cannot tell a lie ... I'm having a difficult time writing posts on weekends.  Let's face it, none of you are home reading blogs on Summer Saturdays and Sundays anyway, so I'm cheating. I've decided for the rest of the summer I'm going to do a little feature called "What's In My Trapper Keeper?" 

Not my actual Trapper Keeper, mine is tattered, torn and written on.
As you may recall from older posts, I loved writing to celebs as a kid. Most of these celebrities weren't ever famous, but whatever, it was still fun writing them and begging them for their autographs. Today we revisit the trusty blue Trapper Keeper and stumble upon, viola Bruce Willis star of Moonlighting. Check it!

Moonlighting Star, Bruce Willis Sends 7th Grader Generic Autographed Photo

Note:  Moonlighting first aired on ABC from March 3, 1985 to May 14, 1989.

Friday, June 18, 2010

My New Prescription Eyeglasses From Glasses USA

Cute, retro Alicia eyeglasses only $27, baby!
If you've been following Fourth Grade Nothing for a while, you may have noticed that I avoid giveaways and reviews. I try to keep my content focused on funny childhood stories from my past, '80s celebrity crushes and retro memories. Please understand the reason I agreed to switch things up just this once, is because I'm still currently unemployed and do not have a vision plan. Ironically, the week I discovered a large, deep scratch in my existing pair of eyeglasses, I received a request to review How could I resist a pair of complimentary prescription eyeglasses?

Yey! I can see again!

You know I'll give it to you straight... When I first learned about a website offering prescription glasses, I had some reservations. I wondered if the glasses would fit correctly (I have a huge head). Would ordering eyeglasses online measure-up to eye wear purchased locally? Let me tell you, even with my vision plan, my last generic-framed pair were well over $200. offers an incredible selection of affordable frames, from name brands such as Calvin Klein and Dior to deeply discounted fun retro frames.  Most eyeglass frames are priced at about 70% less than most retail shops.

I was actually very surprised at the hip and trendy retro looks Glasses USA offers. I was thinking I'd be stuck with a very limited selection, but my personal favorite frames, Alicia Black Full Frames glasses are priced at a mere $27 total! At that rate, I figured there had to be a catch. There wasn't! Shipping starts at $8.95 for Priority and shipping is free for orders over $99. Just email, fax or scan a copy of your prescription and you're good to go.

Worried about ordering ordering glasses online? Don't be. is a very easy to navigate website offering excellent customer service and an amazing return policy. Even better, glasses that are returned are always donated to help those in need. I plan on ordering from them in the future and hope you will consider checking them out as well. If you do decide to order use coupon code Mommy5 for a 5% discount off your order.
My Relationship With Prescription Glasses
  • I began wearing glasses in first grade because I couldn't see the board.
  • In grammar school, the kids called me "Four Eyes."
  • At 16, I failed the vision test for driving and am unable to drive without my glasses.
  • I hate wearing glasses other than while driving, reading or writing.
  • My right eye is much worse than my left due to this stupid haircut I had in high school for 3 years. According to my eye doctor, hiding my right under my hair created this problem.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I've Never Been To Chuck E. Cheese's

Growing up, it drove me crazy to see commercials for a fun and fantastic looking pizza/arcade place called Chuck E. Cheese's. Smiling kids alternating between playing games and chowing down on cheap-looking frozen pizza made me incredibly jealous! I'd think to myself, where the hell is this magical place because it sure as hell isn't in Nassau County, Long Island. That was back in the 1980s.Today, Chuck E. Cheese's are everywhere!

Founded in San Jose, California in 1977, Chuck E. Cheese's has become much more popular over the years. If you're a mom, you probably have taken your child to a party there or maybe even hosted a Chuck's party. After going through several transitions--for example Chuck E. Cheese's began as Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza Time Theatre--there were some lawsuits and stuff I don't want to bore you with. The point here is, yes I'm over the age of 12, yet am still curious as to what goes on at Chuck E. Cheese's and how's the pizza?

Five Fun Facts About Chuck E. Cheese

  1. The company was started by Atari and Pong founder, Nolan Bushnell. 
  2. The very first Chuck E. Cheese opened in San Jose, California in 1977. 
  3. By 1994 the official name of Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza dropped the "pizza" and became, Chuck E. Cheese's 
  4. In 1999, became CEC Entertainment, Inc. and acquired Discovery Zone.
  5. Unless accompanied by a child, I will never experience the famous Chuck E. Cheese's excitement. To protect against sicko predators, Chuck E. Cheese's does not allow adults without children to sample the place.
Here's a retro Chuck E. Cheese's commercial from the '80s for you.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Show And Tell in First Grade

Remember Show and Tell in grammar school? Show and Tell was a popular public speaking exercise in North American schools. Show and Tell gave young students a chance to discuss or introduce a special memory, item, photo, book or object to their fellow classmates. Typically the child would stand in front of the class for several minutes and sometimes the teacher would allow students to ask questions afterward.

In first grade, I attended public school. I'm pointing this out because obviously we weren't wearing mandatory uniforms. It was the late 1970s and we were free to sport cute stripes, bell bottoms, corduroys, velour and Keds.

It was a very special day in Mrs. Gould's class. Why? Because I was in charge of selecting a handful of students to speak in front of the class and show off their beloved items. I had the power. It was all me. I'm not sure why this was so important.

My parents were teachers and knew how important it was to empower kids. My mom says she always let me pick out my own clothing, within reason and make many choices for myself, as long as they were safe and acceptable of course. She was big on properly picking her battles.

That day, I carefully chose students who were anxiously waving their hands, "Pick me! Pick me!" they'd call out. One by one, each child  made their way to the front of the class,  showing and telling. I'm guessing this activity was about 30-45 minutes of our afternoon.

At the end of Show and Tell, Mrs. Gould asked me to step outside the classroom. Busted. To this day, I'm always being called out for something. Typical Ally move. I wondered what I had done this time. I couldn't have been passing a note back then, I think I only knew how to put together simple sentences at age 6. Plus, I was busy being in charge! No time to pass notes or flirt with Benjamin F.  Although I bet you anything that Benjamin F. was the first classmate I sent up there.

Apparently, a boy named Richie wanted to do his Show and Tell thing. I remember looking away from him and choosing other children.  Mrs. Gould wanted to know why. Why wouldn't I allow Richie to take a Show and Tell turn? In mean girl fashion, I blurted out, "Richie wore the same shirt yesterday. I don't like that shirt and I don't like that he wore it two days in a row. Why would his mommy let him wear a dirty shirt to school two days in a row?" 

To this day, I feel awful. How and why would I say such a thing? My parents were so chill. They still are. Nobody was/is snobbish. We were such a down-to-earth family. My mom shopped at JCPenney and Sears. I wore hand-me-downs passed on from my wealthy Jersey cousin, Lisa. If not for her hand-me-downs, I'd never own any Sassoon and Jordache. I was a Healthtex kid. In fact, I'm wearing my favorite pink striped Healthtex shirt in the fourth grade photo in my blog header above!

This post was inspired by this hilarious post by one of my favorite bloggers, Mean Girl over at

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I Wish I Was a Baseball Fan

Yesterday, one of my favorite bloggers, Salt, talked about her love of baseball. I read with envy as she spoke about her love for catching a game in her home state of Maryland. She doesn't care who wins or loses, she's in it for the good times.

Oh dear readers, I wish I cared about baseball. I was raised in a house of crazy Mets and Yankees fans, depending on what year we're talking. My maternal grandpa was a Yankees fanatic his entire life. My paternal grandma has become an obsessed Yankees fan in her later years. My aunts, uncles, cousins, everyone loves baseball.

As a little kid in the 1980s, I had a crush on Mets player, Ron Darling. I swear I did. I'd sometimes watch the games with my mom. I never actually paid attention to the game though. Instead, I'd day dream about Corey Feldman or what snack to fix. I wasn't actually "watching" the game.

Today, I still can't escape baseball. I married the #1 Yankees fan in the entire state of New Jersey. The Connecticut/New York/New Jersey tri-state folk often love the Yankees or Mets baseball teams. Unless you get too close to New England, then you're a Connecticut resident who loves the Boston Red Socks or if you live in South Jersey, too close to Philly, you love The Phillies.

Johnny Damon Yankees makeover: Cute rocker turned clean cut.

Why can't I somehow find it in me to fall in love like my family, husband, bloggers and the other wives of baseball fans? I've tried to develop crushes on Yankee players, but I was never really all that attracted to jocks, so the crushes fade faster than someone can steal home plate (wait, does that analogy even make sense?). I tried loving Johnny Damon, then he cut his hair to play for The Yankees. Now he's not even on the team.
Yankees Nick Swisher ... Sorta douchey looking, no?

I tried loving Nick Swisher. However, Nick Swisher kinda reminds me of one of those cocky jerks I'd encounter at a Long Island night club back in the day. Gripping a 50 cent Bud Light, he'd fumble his way over to me and spit out the following classic line, "Yo, 'eh, my friend wants your number, bah hah, NOTTTT!!!' then quickly run away bumping into people and spilling his cheap beer everywhere.

I long to some day join in the Facebook banter between high school alumni, relatives and friends who update their status minute to minute with the play by play. "Come on A-Rod, you can do it!" and "Nice play, Yanks 2, Tampa Bay 1! We can do this New York!"  Oh, and then there's my brother with his nonstop, "Who's your daddy? NEW YORK IS! DAT'S RIGHT!" 

Like Salt, I've been to games. What's my only favorite part about these games? The foot-long wieners outside the stadium and the $10 pretzel washed down with a $10 Diet Coke. I have yet to visit the new Yankee stadium, but always feared those steps. I remember feeling that way at Madison Square Garden and Giants Stadium concerts. There's something about sports arena staircases that make me feel as if I'm going to suddenly fall backward and land 50 feet below. Yeah, I know that's probably not even humanly possible. Chalk it up to one of my irrational fears. Whatever.

OK, so that's my story. I'm not down with baseball. I wish I was. I've tried many times to get into it, and just can't. The lingo bugs me and I'll never really mentally grasp it. I think I've asked my husband what an RBI is 100 times since we've met. As I'm typing this I still don't remember what it means. The radio announcer always says,  "And it's a "1-0" and I'm thinking, "What the hell is a 'one oh?'"

Counting down to November, only to do it all over again like four months later.

Monday, June 14, 2010

550-TEEN Before Chat Rooms, We Had Party Lines

Back in the 1980s, we teens didn't have AOL chat rooms like the 1990s kids. We had what we called party chat lines. Typically the following commercials for a particular teen party line aired during our after school specials. 550-TEEN cost a hefty fee for that very first minute. Why? Because most kids probably panicked and hang up--they needed to nail us within that initial 60-seconds. After the first minute, the call would run about 10 or 20 cents each additional minute.

In 1986 I remember being at the home of a bad girl's house in South Valley Stream, New York. As you know I was kind of a good girl. I don't recall how I actually met this "bad girl" friend. I have a weird feeling it was at Hot Skates, the area roller rink. As a Catholic school kid, I rarely crossed paths with the public school kids. I'll call bad girl "Gina",  although I honestly do not remember her name. Our friendship was that short-lived.

That year we loved this new rap/rock group, The Beastie Boys. We'd play their Licensed to Ill tape over and over on her boom box. She was a tough-talking Italian girl with big hair and dressed more grown-up than I did. I was just a silly, goofy, immature Italian kid, nothing like her. I had crushes on boys. She dated boys.

One day, I told her all about a commercial I had seen for a chat line for teens to call and meet boys. She was stoked to try this out and with her hardworking single mom busy at her second job, Gina was up for some chatty chat. Gripping the corded, beige, kitchen phone, I watched as she banged out 5-5-0-T-E-E-N as quickly as her long, hot pink nails could "dial."  

We didn't have the speaker phone option on our home phones back then, so she instructed me to pick up the phone in the other room to join the chat. Within several minutes she was connected to a handful of young locals.

Everyone was talking over each other yelling in thick Long Island and Queens accents, "Who are you?" and "Where are you from?" Names flying back and fourth, girls and guys yelling out their numbers "My name is Mike and this is expensive!  My dad's gonna kick my ass! Cawl me on my home phone!" or "John, call me, I'm Jenny, 14, from Commack, my numbah is 876-4321."

Long story short ... Thanks to me, Gina became tight with dozens of party line boys and began serial dating. She no longer had time for me and I wasn't really ready or allowed to date, I was barely 13.

Today I tested 550-TEEN and my call could not be completed as dialed. I dialed 516 (the Nassau County, Long Island area code) + 550-TEEN and the number is not in service. To this day, I wonder what my folks thought when they saw the phone bills. I don't recall anyone questioning me.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Weekend Retro Rewind | Huey Lewis & The News

Every child from the 1980s, at some point, rocked out to Huey Lewis & The News. Don't even try to deny this.  Some of my favorite Huey Lewis tunes included: "Heart & Soul", "If This Is It", "Power of Love", "Stuck with You" and "Hip To Be Square."  Before you can ask, I was somewhat offended when Christian Bale went nuts in American Psycho discussing and listening to Huey Lewis while wielding an ax at Jared Leto's character.

Real Name: Hugh Anthony Cregg III
Stage Names: Huey Harp, Huey Louis and Huey Lewis from 1979 on
Birthday: July 5, 1950

Things I Didn't Know About Huey Lewis:
  • He was raised in California.
  • He graduated from the prestigious Lawrenceville School in New Jersey in 1967 (Disney's Michael Eisner was also alumni!).
  • He scored a perfect 800 on his Math SAT. 

Friday, June 11, 2010

Retro TV Sitcoms Starring Twins

Growing up watching shows about twins, made me wonder what life would be like as a twin. I'm not talking TV shows skirting child labor laws, which featured child actor twins whom are never actually taped together (Olsen twins on Full House or the Greenbush twins on Little House).

I'm referring to sitcoms which spotlight on the banter between young twin siblings. Stereotypically created as total opposites, (remember Patty Duke as Patty Lane and her it's-not-physically-possible twin cousin Cathy?) these twins made us chuckle with delight. Check it. Do you remember the following '80s twin TV shows? Please add shows I missed in the comment section!


The 1984 show Double Trouble starred Liz and Jean Sagal as super cute and trendy twins with perfect comedic timing. These chicks were so cool, I wanted to grow up and be just like their characters on Double Trouble. Their big sister Katey was Peg Bundy on Married With Children.


First airing in 1986, Valerie, later known as The Hogan Family after Valerie Harper jumped ship, starred Jason Bateman (my childhood fave!) and Danny Ponce and Jeremy Licht as fraternal twins Willie and Mark. Yes, the Miller/Boyett team paired a nice Jewish boy and cute Latino together as brothers, ah Hollywood. As an adult watching this clip, I now realize the theme song is sung by "Killing Me Softly" singer, Roberta Flack! Cool!


Not until the mid 1990s did we get to watch Sister, Sister starring Tia & Tamera Mowry as twin sisters separated and adopted at birth then reunited 14 years later. By this time, I was already working as a teen reporter. Thus I was actually writing about these actresses, so they don't count as retro twins. I'm, however, including them for my younger blog readers.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ralph Macchio The Karate Kid Stars in Wax On, F*ck Off!

It was the weekend of June 30th, 26 years ago, that my mom took my little brother and me to see The Karate Kid. I loved The Karate Kid. I had an entire scrapbook filled with Ralph Macchio articles. I loved that we both celebrate our birthdays on November 4. I love that like me, Ralph Macchio was born and raised (well, when not acting) on Long Island. I showed you my old diary entry about the day we first saw The Karate Kid. I've blogged about The Karate Kid soundtrack.Yes, next to ET and The Goonies, The Karate Kid was one of my favorite childhood movies.

With all of the excitement surrounding the remake, I'm kinda bummed to be honest. I have vented my anger regarding The Karate Kid remake with Will Smith's son on both Twitter and Facebook. I am so anti-remakes, especially when they mess with my childhood memories. Can't we just keep things the way they were?

You must check out this Funny or Die video with Ralph Macchio, trust me, you'll be glad you did!

Remember Better Cheddars from Nabisco, Kraft?

The other day I found myself in the cracker aisle of the Parsippany ShopRite. Now chillax. I know what you're thinking... "You're on a diet! What are you doing in the snack aisle?" Leave me be! I was wishfully thinking Nabisco suddenly developed a low-carb cracker just for me. Sadly, I was mistaken. However, I did stop dead in my tracks when I spotted a box of Better Cheddars.

Better Cheddars are thin, circular, cheese flavored crackers and were first introduced in 1981. Honestly, I had no idea Nabisco still made Better Cheddars snacks. According to the nutritional information, one serving (6 crackers) is 160 calories, 8 grams of fat, 18 grams of carbohydrates and 320 grams of sodium. Don't worry, I put the box down. If you haven't had one, they taste similar to CHEESE NIPS (another Nabisco product).

Basically, the point of this post is simply to share with you my surprise in seeing them after all of these years. For the remainder of my shopping trip, the following jingle played out over and over in my head like a broken record, "New better cheddars sourdough baked right in, delicious tasting better cheddars, the San Fransico style, snack thin!" 

Funny, I couldn't remember anything about the commercial and watching it now on YouTube, it's pretty damn funny.  Caution, you may have this song in your head for the rest of the day/night.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Good Girl

Unfortunately, I don't have a steady full-time job right now. This means, I've been staying up super late watching reruns on TV. My  newest obsession is watching Roseanne on TV Land from like 12-2:30AM while my husband sleeps.

Ironically the ad running on the TV Land website says, "Survive the Recession with Roseanne" almost as if they know all of us depressed, unemployed folk are sleepless and watching the show for a few laughs and inspiration. If Roseanne and Dan can afford a mortgage and three kids, there has to be hope, right? Honestly though, I truly want to know how Al and Peg Bundy did it on a shoe salesman's salary. Seriously. I doubt I'd even eke out groceries and gas if I had Al's job!

Last night's episode revolved around Dan and Roseanne leaving Becky home alone all day to visit Roseanne's mom in that town that is a long drive from their home in Landford. Becky's alone with her BFF and instead of working on their "Women in the '90s" project, they decide to hit the Conner's liquor cabinet hardcore. Becky mixes up Hurricanes in large tumblers consisting of about 5% root beer and 95% alcohol. The girls get totally sh*tfaced and Becky busts out Roseanne's Moody Blues albums.

I'm sure you've done this at one time or another, well minus the Moody Blues albums. Why haven't I? I can't tell you one time, other than sneaking a few sips of beer at Jeannie's Sweet Sixteen party, that I've ever gotten wasted before going off to college. It hit me while watching Roseanne and Dan scold Becky. Am I really the only person (other than seriously religious kids) that didn't indulge in boozing with friends until about age 18.

The other night's episode focused on Darlene smoking cigs. They go through the whole parental confrontation and I think to myself, why didn't I smoke cigarettes in high school? Everyone else was doing it. I remember thinking the smokers in school were so "tuff" ... They usually wore leather jackets paired with stretch pants and fringe boots. I made sure to steer clear of them. I just find it so difficult to relate to these rebellious kids.

I must have been some weird late bloomer. I mean, who waits until college to pick up smoking?! I bet most kids quit by that time. I remember in 11th grade, spying a pack of Marlboro reds in an open drawer in my brother's room and being shocked. Here was my very own little brother smoking when he was only in seventh grade! Meanwhile, when I was his age, I was busy with my writing assignments for Kidsday/Newsday and working on my Monkees zine.

Was I a nerd? I'm guessing I was. I mean I was really into making out with my high school boyfriend at the time so that has to count for something, no? I'm dying for some street cred here. I hate to think that I missed out on this wild phase that others experienced. I was raised on all of these awesome '80s high school movies where kids who oddly looked much older than me, were smoking "doobies" and passing out drunk. I honestly never thought that was real life.

My rebellion consisted of buzzing part of my head and wearing weird clothes, but unlike Darlene and Becky, my folks never had to punish me or sit me down warning me of the harm in drinking or smoking. Man, I feel like I missed out.


Share |