Wednesday, March 31, 2010

High School Diary Entries, March of 1988

It's been a while since I've gone back and rehashed some old diary entries for you... so here we go ... My current "two cents" are in itals!

Today we're going back to March, 1988. I was in 10th grade, my first year back into the scary world of public school.

Saturday, March 12, 1988
Spring is so ultimately depressing. When I hear birds chirping it brings back sad memories, memories of my ex-best friend, Serena who dumped me as soon as we left grammar school. (It's funny to read this first line--I actually blogged about how birds chirping depresses me today but for different reasons. I think I've just always hated the spring season for one reason or another.) The fun times I had in 7th and 8th grade. My new love for The Monkees. (I was this crazy insane Monkees fanatic from age 12-15).

Sunday, March 13, 1988
What a fun-filled weekend! Tracey slept over last night. I babysat tonight and made $8 (I guess that was a lot back then!).

Right now there's some kind of gas leak on our block. There are tonz of fire engines, cop cars and people. I wonder if they will make us all evacuate. I'm thinking about what items to take in case of an emergency. Sorta like personal possessions. I'd want to take all of my Monkees stuff and Trapper Keeper of autographed pix, etc. 

Two firemen just rang the door bell and came into our basement. I'm so scared. What if our house blows up? I don't smell any gas. I hope everything is OK. It's 11:15 pm and I'm afraid to go to sleep. (Totally don't remember this!)

Tuesday, March 15, 1988
I think Tracey is ending our friendship because of Kathy K. I can tell she doesn't like me. (I remember this short-lived friendship and to this day, do not know why we stopped being friends. There wasn't a fight or anything, we just drifted. I totally forgot her BFF Kathy was a bit weird to me when Tracey befriended me. Oh well, we're friendly on Facebook today.)

I wish I could lose 50 lbs. If I lost 50 lbs. I'd:
  • Wear mini skirts.
  • I'd fit into more ESPRIT brand clothing.
  • Maybe I'd be a cheerleader.
  • I'd ask guys out.
  • I'd hang out at the beach and pool.
  • I'd feel so confident.
Wednesday, March 16, 1988
This kid Fred is kinda cute. Not my type but a little cute. 

Tracey called me tonight. She is bringing in a Champion shirt for me to borrow. I'm so excited. (Champion sweatshirts were over-sized sweatshirts with the "C" logo on them. They were super popular between 1987-1988 and cost about $40, my parents bought me two but that was their limit so oftentimes I'd borrow them from other girls.) I got to borrow a gray one from Shannon too. 

Tracey is so pretty. She can have any guy she wants. I wish I could pick and choose a guy to date.  If I only could loose 50 lbs. I would be able to do that too, maybe. I don't get it, so many ugly chicks in school have boyfriends, but I guess because they're skinny that's all that matters. (Back then we didn't know the term "Butterface"...)

Thursday, March 17, 1988
This kid Scott T. was actually nice to me today. I was always really nice to him, but he was always a jerk to me. Totally hated me for some reason. It seems like anyone I like is mean to me. Tomorrow I'm going into school late, Mom and I are going out to lunch. 

Tuesday, March 23, 1988 
I got a 93 on my Math test!!!!! I'm so angry though, I know I haven't lost any weight and I have to weigh in tomorrow. What a joke. I don't even know why I go to these Weight Watcher meetings. They must think I'm such a jerk. Shannon gave out her birthday invitations today.

I love rereading these old diaries. It's amazing to see that in many ways I haven't really changed much.

*Champion sweatshirt image taken from a vintage clothing site:

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Canadian Television Part II

Yesterday I wrote about You Can't Do That On Television, a popular 1980s Canadian television production which ran on Nickelodeon. Two more shows I couldn't get enough of were Degrassi Junior High and Fifteen.

Degrassi was a teen drama that tackled controversial topics like suicide, homosexuality, teen pregnancy, difficult divorces, stealing, racism and more. Similar to You Can't Do That on Television, the kid actors were basically inexperienced "regular kid" types--making them even more realistic and likable. 

Degrassi was critically acclaimed and ran on PBS between 1987-1989. We Degrassi fans couldn't get enough of Spike (the pregger punk), Shane (Spike's baby daddy), Snake, Arthur and Yick (the nerds),  Caitlin, Joey (Zit Remedy lead singer who thought he was a slick ladies man), Wheels, boyish L.D., Lucy (busted for shoplifting), the curly-haired preppy twins Heather and Erica, Alexa (The pretty Greek girl -- I liked her because she was slightly chubby, yet had a HOT boyfriend, go Alexa!) and Simon (her hot blond model boyfriend), Mr. Raditch and so many more. 

Spin-offs and continuations such as Degrassi High and Degrassi, The Next Generation based upon the original series even featured some of the original cast members. The Next Generation even features a balding adult Snake (the original actor!) and Emma--Spike's baby all grown up. Pretty cool!

Here are some clips for your viewing pleasure...

Fifteen (also known as Hillside in Canada) was a horrible Canadian-produced teen drama that somehow sucked me in. When I say "horrible" I mean horrible to others, awesome to me! I am the first to admit, I am immature when it comes to my television viewing. Yes, I like MTV reality shows like The Hills and The City.  It doesn't surprise me that regardless of the fact that I was  18 or 19 at the time, I still tuned in to Nickelodeon to see what was going on with Fifteen. I needed to keep up with Brooke, Ashley, Jake and Billy. I couldn't resist loving the cheesy synthesizer intro song and 90210-wannabe style situations. 

Sadly, the real reason I enjoyed this show was due to an inappropriate crush I had  on a fifteen-year-old Ryan Reynolds. It scares me in retrospect to think Ryan was my little brother's age at the time of the show. It's funny how Ryan became so famous today and at age 34, it's not so weird to think he's hot, yet he nauseates me as an adult. 

Ryan Reynolds as Billy on Fifteen

I still love my Canadian television--many my favorite HGTV programs are produced in the Maple Leaf state.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Oh Canada, You Can't Do That on Television!

I am constantly telling TS over at The Non-Review how much I adore Canadian television.

I consider myself a lucky kid in that my folks hooked us up with Cable TV in the 1980s, while my husband didn't have cable TV growing up. It's a bummer because many of my HBO and Nickelodeon kid-show-viewing memories aren't his memories, but what can you do. We're also three years apart, so he doesn't even remember some of the same things. I mean, come on, while I was in fourth grade watching certain TV shows or listening to certain music, he was stuck in his PBS-first grade world (or "Grade 1" as they would say in Canada).

My two most favorite Canadian shows of the 1980s were You Can't Do That On Television which appeared on Nickelodeon (channel 22 from what I recall as a kid - check out this cool Facebook fan page!) and Degrassi Junior High on PBS.

Today I will focus on You Can't Do That on Television and tomorrow will be Degrassi Junior High.

You Can't Do That on Television was a sketch comedy type show, think SNL for youngsters starting kids with super thick Ottawa accents. The show ran from 1979-1990 and was very popular and well-received. Famous scenes included kids getting green-slimed for saying, "I don't know" or doused with water for saying, "water".

There was the nasty burger joint called Barth's. I always wanted to play the messed up video games at Blip's. I loved the locker scenes and who could forget the opening credits with wild images depicting The Childrens Sausage Factory? I don't even have to mention Alanis Morissette staring on the show as a kid, do I?

The comedian kids I remember from the show were Christine "Moose" McGlade (the hostess with dark wavy hair had the longest run on the show) and Lisa Ruddy--the girls were slightly chubby and were known for their continuously competitive banter. I also remember Vanessa, Doug and Kevin for whatever reason.

I had a huge crush on Alasdair Gillis even though as he hit puberty he took on a serious Nick Jonas look even though Nick Jonas wasn't even born back then. 

Here are some episodes to bring back old memories for you old-timers and show the younger folks what was Canadian cool back in the 1980s. 

Different Skits:

Three Different Intros:


Saturday, March 27, 2010

If I Were A Boy, I'd Demand A Car Bed

I was never much into boys' toys, boys' movies or even boys' shows as a kid. Never cared about my brother's Transformers, cap guns (though I loved the gun powder smell) or his little red boxing gloves. I do remember being super jeal when my paternal grandparents gifted him a kid-sized beautiful baby blue Jeep one Christmas. Where was mine? Why was I stuck with an Alvin & The Chipmunks Christmas album (which I loved, but still) and a stuffed Bambi? I wanted that damn car so badly. I think I was too big to fit into it so it wasn't like we got to share it.

In addition to the baby blue Jeep, I always wished I could have a car bed ... They were typically made of wood or sturdy plastic. I remember Ricky Schroder had one on Silver Spoons. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. But alas, a girl gets a frilly, gingham canopy bed--which I adored, don't get me wrong, but come on, frills are not as cool as a CAR!

Anyway, if you have a son, I personally believe you should consider getting him a race car bed, even if it's from a tag sale or check out this site. They have some there or check out Jenny Matlock's blog for a cool giveaway.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Rock on!

Between the ages of 4 through 6, I was seriously obsessed with this child-size rocking chair I think my father actually made for me. I'd suck my thumb and rock while losing myself in episodes of Mr. Rogers, Electric Company and Sesame Street.

My folks never had one of those super huge furniture-style televisions that looked like a hulking wooden block with a TV inserted in the center. Their TVs were more average sized, so I would sit literally a foot away from it. Daily, my mom and dad would take turns warning me that by sitting close to the TV, I'd eventually lose my vision. Not sure if that's why I began wearing glasses by the first grade... Coincidence I think.

Upon moving to Valley Stream, my dad upgraded me to an ugly orange, totally '70s style upholstered chair. By that time I was seven years old and had graduated from Sesame Street to The Partridge Family, Gidget and Father Knows Best. I loved the old retro shows and still do, only today's retro shows are Roseanne and The Cosby Show. I watch them every late night on TV LAND while my husband snores.

If I had a kid, that kid would surely have a rocking chair too. Not the new fancy Disney type soft, cushy ones either. I'm talking an old-school, hard-as-hell on your butt cheeks, cherry wood rocking chair.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I Loved Davey and Goliath

During my early years as a Catholic school student, I remember our teachers setting aside time in class for us to tune into episodes of Davey and Goliath. First off, I have to admit, watching TV in class had to be one of my most favorite things. Talk about a low-stress activity! No reading. No writing. No being called on. It was truly awesome. TV in school!

Davey and Goliath was produced by the Lutheran Church in America--now part of the Evangelic Lutheran Church. I guess it was the Christian message that attracted our teachers, which was fine with me. Hell, it didn't matter to me, I'd watch Shalom Sesame (the Hebrew school friendly versions of Sesame Street they showed on PBS around Passover) with gusto over doing those damn times table races with Mrs. O'Toole.

I know many of you followers were born in the 1980s and 1990s, so before you comment with, "Davey and Go-who? Whattt? Never heard of 'em!" Chillax, I'm about to fill you in. I spent an hour searching YouTube but all I could find were Davey and Goliath Mountain Dew ads and spoofs, so sadly, I'm unable to include a clip. 

Davey and Goliath was a 1960s religious clay animation or claymation television series produced by Art Clokey for the Lutheran Church for $1 million. Art Clokey had a successful run with the Gumby series -- stop motion animation was popular at the time... Remember the Rudolph holiday programs? Same idea.

Targeted to young viewers, each episode lasted about 15-minutes and provided a lesson in sharing, caring, loving thy neighbor and placing your trust in God. The show focused around Davey Hansen, his adorable wingman/talking pup Goliath (only viewers and Davey could hear him speak), his parents, blond-haired sister Sally and various friends.

I'm far from religious today, but still have a soft spot for the show. I used to love the organ and horn theme song, "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" --  if I had thought of it sooner, I could have used it at our wedding. I was desperate for religious sounding music two years ago. It would have been awesome to see if anyone recognized it and hey my husband was raised Lutheran. 

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

At The Bronx Zoo

I was tagged yesterday by the lovely Lisa from The Domestication of a Party Girl

Here's a photo from my Photo Bucket account, sadly I have no real juicy story to tell regarding this photo. I don't remember a single thing about that day. I don't remember if we took the Long Island Rail Road and then hopped on the 2 train/subway to get there. Maybe my Dad drove? 

I don't remember what Mom packed us for lunch or how I reacted to the many different animals.

I do know that this wasn't my only trip to the Bronx Zoo. Around the time this photo was taken, I believe I tagged along with my mom and her 4th grade class. Living only an hour outside of Manhattan, we hit The Bronx Zoo a few times. Funny, we never once visited the Statue of Liberty. Good thing because even as a kid I'd never make it up those steps! 

Obviously that's me and my little bro. I'm guessing the time frame might be like Spring of 1982 which would make me, 10 and my brother, 6.

I am sporting my beloved soccer jacket--the letters read "VSSC" for Valley Stream Soccer Club. My brother is wearing a really ugly wool hat. I remember that hat well because I refused to wear it. I'm thinking a family member may have knitted it for us. As an adult, I still hate scarves, hats and gloves.

When I was a little kid I loved this song by Simon & Garfunkel. I always thought it was about The Bronx Zoo because in the late 1970s or early 1980s this song was used in commercials though I believe the song is actually about the Central Park Zoo.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I Never Had Fashion Plates

I love complaining about the many toys my parents didn't purchase for whatever reason. You've already read about the Barbie Dream House and lovely ballet shoe box-style tote bags I missed out on. Here's one more item to add to that list... So glad my mom isn't a regular reader.


Growing up in the late 1970s-1980s, every girl wanted them and more importantly it seemed like every girl had them. Get your mind out of the gutter... I'm talking about Fashion Plates. 

Manufactured by Tomy, the idea was based upon 18th century fashion design and consisted of plastic plates with indentations of various skirts, tops and pants.

By rubbing a colored pencil over a piece of paper, the fashionable items instantly came to life. Girls could mix and match the different plastic fashion plates to create winning looks. The finished product was then shared with style savvy friends or posted on the fridge. 

I remember playing with friends' Fashion Plates, but never had my own set. I bet Mom did a quick assessment of the toy and realized it was the type of thing that would keep me occupied for an hour or so, then after a week would collect dust, eventually ending up in a landfill years later.

While researching Fashion Plates, I visited the Tomy USA website to see what they're offering today's crafty kid. I actually stumbled upon an awesome toy I wouldn't mind having today, the Cella Sticker Maker! How cool! 

Sadly, I didn't see Fashion Plates on the Tomy-USA website, although I did notice other toy companies offering more modernized fashion design toys and craft books. I think I even purchased one for my 12-year-old cousin last Christmas. 

Monday, March 22, 2010

This Place Sux. The End.

Monday, September 28, 1993 12:30 AM

"Well, I hate it here! I'm already failing big time and so far have only made a few new friends. This place sux. The end"

The above diary entry was made about a month after I moved into my college dorm at SUNY Stony Brook. I was living in a section of the dorms called Kelly Quad. About a day after I got myself situated, I realized the "suite life" was also known as "The Frat Dorms" and I totally didn't fit in. I didn't wear tie-dye and hated the mere thought of pledges, hazing and everything that revolved around sorority life.

Today is March 22, 2010 and I want to go home again. It's painful how much I want to return home to New York. The worst part is I'm not quite sure how to get there. I don't have a plan and my husband doesn't want to move. He's still actually employed and we all know how hard that is to come by these days. Homes here are as pricey as they are in New York, so we'll be renting no matter where we live.

Forgive me if you've heard this story before, but my first apartment was in Manhattan. I survived for almost three years, however, the whole Dot-Bomb crisis combined with 9/11 really killed my spirit and chances of furthering my career. My friends and I couldn't even secure temp and freelance work after suffering an AOL layoff in 2003.

My New Jersey boyfriend (now husband) rescued me and I am forever grateful to him. My uncle helped find someone to take over my NYC lease and my mother-in-law graciously lent me her vehicle for six months until I found a new job and get my own car. She wouldn't even let me pay the insurance. 

Within about six months, I found a job, got a car, shared Andrew's apartment and managed to make a bunch of new friends here in NJ. My life here hasn't been all that bad, however I'm missing my family and it's just killing me as time goes by. 

My family and old friends are still back home in New York. I know we're only 90 minutes apart, but it's not about the distance, it's the actual trip. It's this harrowing drive once Route 80 ends and 95/295 begins. The mere thought of the George Washington Bridge makes me wanna hurl. The Cross Bronx Expressway sickens me with every pothole, twist and turn... The Throgs Neck Bridge/295 means I'm almost there, inching along to the Cross Island Parkway... More traffic awaits as I finally make it to the homestretch on the Southern State. Gas and tolls equal about $30+ each round trip visit. Even that's not the issue. 

The issue is I miss home. I miss the Italian delis, produce markets, being a mere 20 minutes from a beach regardless of where you live, the best bagels in the world, the best pizza -- I know New Jersey people will argue that they've got all of that as well, and I'm not here to argue that. I'm here to argue that it's not my home and I feel like it never truly will be.

I just want to live closer to my family and friends and reclaim that feeling of familiar. That feeling you get when you drive down a road you and your folks have driven down 4000 times before. That feeling when you pass something as silly as Burger King and remember a kiddie party you once attended there.  Playing with your nephew in the school yard or park you enjoyed playing in as a kid yourself thirty years ago. 

I sometimes envy high school sweethearts who are now married with kids. 
I sometimes envy their shared memories. 
I sometimes envy their "same friends" and how they grew up around each other. 
I sometimes envy how they always knew of their in-laws, friends and families as people from the neighborhood. 
I sometimes envy the way they all attended the same grammar schools and churches, went to the same doctors and dentists and trusted the same accountant to do their taxes.

I don't have Jersey pride. I don't like Jovi and Springsteen. I have no desire to order Taylor Ham aka Pork Roll on my egg sandwich. I prefer my beaches not to have rides, Curly's Fries and $20 parking lots.  I'm not now, nor will I ever be a "Jersey Girl" and I swear this isn't a diss. When I lived on Long Island I wasn't all about Billy Joel and Lobster Rolls. I'm just me. Where I reside, doesn't define me.

Ironically I spent most of my youth trying to figure out how to get off Long Island only to wish to return as an adult. Funny how things turn out... 

Boardwalk at Long Beach, LI

Friday, March 19, 2010

R.I.F. Reading Is Fundamental

"Give a kid a book and you'll give a kid a break!"
"You're pretty smart, how'd you get so smart?" 

Three lines I'll never forget from a very memorable PSA (public service announcement). This series of PSAs typically aired during my favorite WPIX NY Channel 11 after-school television programming during the '70s and '80s .

It's funny watching the ad now. I remember everything about this commercial - from Ed Asner grabbing the little girl's nose in jest to the fact that I didn't really know what they were advertising exactly. I mean, I was just a kid. Other than suggesting we kids focus on reading and ironically not our after-school television shows, I had no idea RIF was and is such a great organization.

RIF is a  nonprofit dedicated to inspiring and motivating kids to read. It began in 1966. The following is taken directly from the website...

"In 1966, former teacher Margaret McNamara brought a bag of used books to four boys in Washington, D.C., whom she tutored in reading. When she told the children they could each pick out a book to keep, their astonishment and delight led her to discover that these children, and many of their classmates, had never owned any books.
By that summer, Mrs. McNamara had gathered a group of school volunteers, and on November 3, 1966, they launched the book distribution and reading motivation program they called Reading Is Fundamental. 

From November 1966 through the early 1970s, RIF expanded from a pilot project at three elementary schools in Washington, D.C., to a program reaching children in 60 of the city's public schools.

In 1975, the U.S. Congress created the "Inexpensive Book Distribution Program" (IBDP) which provides federal matching funds to sites that qualify for RIF's national book program.

Today, through its contract with the U.S. Department of Education to operate the IBDP, now supplemented with private funds, RIF programs operate in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam. RIF is also affiliated with programs in Argentina and the United Kingdom. "

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Rockin' Early 1980s Accessories

Somewhere between 1980 and 1984, there were four accessories a little girl had to have!  All of us early 1980s fashionistas needed the following:

Feathered Clips - I was told later on that these were actually called "roach clips" -- at age 8, I obviously didn't know this term. I was the oldest of two, so I didn't have an older brother or sister around to borrow one of my many colorful feathered clips and use them to snag a few hits from their joints. Nope, for an innocent child, these were simply clips I could attach to my clothing, hair or Jordache purses. You know, just keeping up with the trends!

Jordache Purses - I had one of these Jordache bags in every color. I remember the purses were small little sacks one could purchase at the mall for a very reasonable price. This meant I could get one to match each outfit. In my case, too young to babysit at the time, my mom was relieved to pay only about $2 per purse to aid in my addiction. If I'm not mistaken, they came in a wide variety of colors and fabrics such as a satiny silver material or leather and baby pink, yellow, red, blue, etc.

Friendship Pins - These cool safety pins were great! I'd load them up (small and golden were by far the safety pin of choice) with tiny colored beads and attach them to purses and backpacks. They were coined "Friendship Pins" because they were often given to or traded with friends.

Braided Ribbon Barrettes - My mom was awesome! She knew how to braid my hair and how to braid ribbon--two things I to this day cannot master for some reason. This also meant I couldn't make friendship bracelets which kinda sucked. Braided ribbon barrettes or hair clips were so hot. I couldn't get enough of 'em. I had to have a set of barrettes to match every outfit I owned. I remember cool color combos of pink and blue, pale green and yellow, pink and white and my most favorite pair - red, white and blue for my red, white and blue mini nautical themed skirt which I loved to pair with a white sailor's hat. There was a time when red and royal blue were my favorite colors. 

I'm quite sure crafty folk are making and selling all of the above '80s awesomeness on Etsy. I'm tempted to head on over there and load up on some!

P.S. I realize that I failed to mention many other hip '80s fashion accessories such as Gummi and jelly bracelets, colorful plastic charm bracelets and necklaces, friendship bracelets, headbands, antennas attached to plastic headbands and other fun items, but I promise to touch on that at a later date...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Barbizon For Chubbers

I've already mentioned my deep desire to be a child star growing up. Obviously, that  never happened.

A fierce follower of Seventeen, Teen, YM, Sassy, Bop, Tiger Beat, Teen Beat and 16, I would read the magazines cover-to-cover then scour the ads found way in the back of the mags. I loved sending away for catalogs and free samples, but one ad always bothered me. It was a smallish square black and white ad for The Barbizon Modeling School. The modeling school had to be legit since it had been around since 1939.

I remember calling the Manhattan phone number a few times though I never had the nerve to tell them I was on the chubbier side. I would ask them to send me brochures and they would tell me all about their classes. I think they were very careful about revealing the high price tag attached. 

I never did sign up. My mom wasn't cool with the idea. Not to mention at 13, New York City seemed miles away although ten years later I commuted there daily for work and never thought a thing of it.

Ironically the ad often ran on the same page as overpriced fat camp ads for places like Camp Shane and Camp La Jolla. My parents couldn't afford the 8-week program so she sent me to Girl Scout camp instead. Mom also insisted with my luck she'd pay the college-like-priced tuition payment, I'd lose 20 lbs, then gain it as soon as I started school again. No disrespect to Mom, I'm sure that's exactly what would have happened. 

That same black and white image of a pretty blond teen (she appeared much more mature and glamorous than me and my friends) along with the Barbizon tagline of "Train to be a model, or just look like one" is forever etched into my mind as is the fat camp ad, really! They're both Scotch-taped on an imaginary scrapbook page alongside the Lisa Frank stickers and Corey crushes I told you about last week.

Monday, March 15, 2010

ET The Atari Game What A Let Down

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with E.T. 

I've seen the movie dozens of times. Even as an adult, I still own a few collectible items like E.T. trading cards, a pin, bedding, etc. We even have a framed movie poster hanging in our bedroom.

I remember one Christmas I was given exactly 12 ET-related items. I piled the unwrapped gifts around me near the Christmas tree and counted them over and over again--they included the plate, cup & bowl set, bedding, snack tray and more.

One gift I was beyond-jazzed about was an actual E.T. Atari 2600 video game.

Like most '80s kids, I loved Atari. Who didn't? My top favorite games were Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Asteroids, Pitfall and Donkey Kong. In 1982, the idea of an E.T. Atari game was simply too good to be true--the perfect marriage of my very favorite movie and my very favorite gaming console/pastime.

I remember popping it in and something just wasn't right with it. No matter what I did, I couldn't figure out how to play. Nothing about the game made sense to me. I remember thinking my version was broken somehow.  After a few failed attempts, I hurried to a friend's house because she too had just gotten the game. I needed to test out her version and remember my shock in learning she too was clueless.

Were we stupid gaming girls? How was it that we kicked ass at Pac-man, Space Invaders, Frogger and Pitfall, but sucked at the E.T. game? I remember being bummed beyond belief. I wondered why of all the games to baffle me, it had to be my E.T.? Such a let down.

Years later, I was working at an Internet company which owned a very popular male-friendly gaming site, I believe it was there that I first heard the truth about E.T. for Atari.

Apparently the developer was rushed into finishing the game design in time for the 1982 holiday season. Rushing the creativity process must have really made the game backfire. I'm doubting Atari had time to allow for lots of testing and market research-if any. They simply wanted to cash in on the E.T. craze.

At age 12, I didn't read media reports which apparently criticized the E.T. game. To this day the game makes "Worst Games Ever" lists all over the world. The Atari E.T game is also noted as Atari's biggest financial mistake ever made, netting a loss of $100 million loss.

In September 1983 reports began to surface about gazillions of E.T. game cartridges buried in a landfill in New Mexico, read about that here. Some say it's true, some say it's an urban legend.

 The famous E.T. Atari game landfill photo

I love this quote from Howard Scott Warshaw, the designer behind the worst game ever created. It's cool how he puts a positive spin on his infamous creation, however it doesn't help me get over the disappointment in my most anticipated gift that Christmas.

"People worry I might be sensitive about the ET debacle, but the fact is I’m always happy to discuss it. After all, it was the fastest game ever done, it was a million seller, and of the thousands of 2600 games, how many others are still a topic? Another thing I like to think about is having done ET (consistently rated among the worst games of all time) and Yars' Revenge (consistently rated as one of the best) I figure I have the unique distinction of having the greatest range of any game designer in history." —Howard Scott Warshaw

Friday, March 12, 2010

It's Like Riding A Bicycle

"I'm doooing it! I'm doooing it!" I remember screaming at the top of my lungs.

I was doing it. Mom was no longer holding onto the back of the bike seat.  Gone were the rusted metal training wheels.  Gone was that clinkity-clink sound which always followed as I pedaled. Nope, this was a glorious day. It was just me, two wheels, the pavement, velocity and the air. I was one with the wind. 

Sitting atop the plastic orange seat of my little maroon-colored bike, I remember thinking how it was truly a perfect summer day. The sun was shining. The sky was the bluest of blues peppered with non-threatening cotton white clouds. I heard birds singing, but remained focused directly on the concrete ahead.

Kindergarten graduation had come and gone. I was moving forward onto bigger and better things. First grade in Valley Stream awaited me. I firmly believed that it was of the utmost importance that I learn to ride a bike if I wanted to fit in with western Nassau-County-outskirts-of-Queens-city-style kids. No more sleepy country time Oakdale. This was the real deal now.

At that point, it was hard to think ahead to the serious bikes I'd one day own. I couldn't even begin to imagine that by third grade I'd transition into the big yellow banana seat touring-style bike! I'm not gonna lie, I thought I was so stylin' with my white plastic floral basket and silver bell attached to the handlebars. I decked out each handlebar with plastic pompom type streamers extending out each end. I loved that bike.

From there, I moved on to the big blue Huffy in sixth grade. With my winged hair and blue suede Pony sneakers, I thought I was so cool cruising around the Italian neighborhood of nearby Elmont with my boyish tomboy friend Dawn. I believed any girl with a one syllable name had to be tough! Dawn was a tough kid with a colorful history. Her parents were divorced and she lived with her dad who smoked cigarettes and worked in a correctional facility. He was nothing like my dad who wore pastel Polo shirts and boat shoes to his teaching gig.

We'd cruise the area innocently flirting with boys named "Enzo" and "Toto" -- their dad's typically owned bread bakeries or landscaping companies. Their houses were way too big for the allotted plots and oftentimes were guarded by one or two religious statues. It really made you think twice about breakin' out the eggs and shaving cream on Halloween. Seriously. How does one disrespect property watched over by Mother Mary?

I think back to that day on my bike--age five going on six in November. Funny how as a kid it felt great when someone let go. It was all about freedom and it felt so good to be trusted. Yet sometimes as an adult letting go isn't as liberating. Some days I want to hold on so tight.

As always, thanks for listening.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Corey Feldman Reacts To Corey Haim's Death

It's nearly midnight on the official day of Corey Haim's death. When I first heard the news this morning I was sad, yet not quite sure how Corey's death would affect me throughout the day. To be honest I'm still bummed about it. A part of my childhood was taken with Corey Haim today, similar to the day we lost 1980s movie maker, John Hughes.

To make matters worse, several hours after I blogged about my reaction to Corey Haim's death, I received an email alert from Corey Feldman's blog. Corey's words broke my heart and suddenly I was thrown into thinking about what it must be like to lose a friend you've known for 20+ years. 

I thought for a moment and realized something about Corey Feldman's sadness. Corey has lost three very close friends in less than one year. I thought my year sucked between my husband's furlough and my somewhat surprising layoff, which resulted in losing our mortgage a month before we planned to close on our first home. I guess I should consider myself lucky that all of my friends are still alive and well.

First Corey lost Michael Jackson in June and had to deal with a mess of annoying press about his wardrobe choices and so on... Then in early fall, statements were released that after seven years of marriage, Corey Feldman and his wife Susie were calling it quits and getting a divorce. Corey has blogged about his broken heart and his love for Zen--his beautiful little boy--the spitting image of Corey as a small child.

This is not Corey Feldman's best year. How much can a guy take?

His reaction on CNN's Larry King Live somewhat surprised me. I expected him to reflect on memories and recap the last encounters they shared. However, Corey Feldman cut the bull sh*t and opened up one awesome "Can of Whop Ass" (do people still say that?) and attacked the media. I wanted to give Feldman ten high fives! Everything he pointed out was truly right on! 

The tabloids made a mockery out of Corey Haim and Corey Feldman for years. Constantly pointing out their shortcomings or any sign of failure they could drudge up--just as they do with all celebrities.  When someone gains a few ounces they make the front cover of The Enquirer. When someone has marital trouble or a slight scuffle with paparazzi, TMZ is right there to catch it all in an attempt to make us laugh.

I was shocked to see harsh commentary on media websites from younger, angry web-surfers saying, "Who cares? Who the hell is Corey Haim?" or "Dirty druggie, he deserved to die!" Most of the negative comments were littered with typos, misspellings and poor grammar, saying a lot about the uneducated idiots thoughtlessly posting comments about someone's son, someone's friend, someone they've never even met. Could it be the media that has helped create such hateful young spawn?

Corey Haim made the landing page of every major media outlet website in the world on March 10. Where were these important press, media contacts and Tweeting celebs when Corey Haim took out that full page ad in Variety two years ago pleading for work? Corey Feldman points this out and I applaud him for that.

So other than downright angry and shocked, how is Corey Feldman really feeling? "He's not dong very well at all. This is the second life-long friend he's lost in 8 months. I spoke to him and we cried together on the phone. He's strong but he's really sad right now," reported his estranged wife, Susie Feldman to

Susie often butted heads with Corey Haim on episodes of their A & E reality show, The Two Coreys. As a wife myself, I understood many of her outbursts regarding Haim moving into the Feldman home. I think it's not uncommon for a small amount of tension to exist between single men and their married friend's wife, not to mention sharing a house with them.

I dedicate today's blog to Corey Feldman. I am so sorry that you lost your friend. My heart goes out to you Corey Feldman. I can't even imagine what you're feeling as I have never lost a friend or family member prematurely. At 38, your friend was much too young to say goodbye. 

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I Remember Corey Haim

I knew something was up.

Things have been quiet on the Haim front for quite some time now. Corey Feldman hasn't really mentioned oldest and dearest friend Haim in his blog lately and rarely discusses Haim in interviews following their very public break-up on the 2007-2008 A&E reality show The Two Coreys.

Born December 21, 1971 (he was 13 months older than me) Corey Haim was 38 when TMZ reported his death today. Although I loved Corey, I truly only followed him in his earlier career. As he grew up, I moved on and began to fancy boys in bands and then there was my whole Monkees obsession of course. By the time Corey Haim filmed Lost Boys, I was no longer collecting Tiger Beat pinups on the cute Canadian.

In 1984, I loved Haim in First Born and cried when his onscreen mom's drug dealin' boyfriend beat him. Teri Garr of Mr. Mom fame portrayed his mom. I didn't care about Sarah Jessica Parker being in that film, but thought Robert Downey Jr. was cool.

I remember Corey Haim in Secret Admirer with Tommy Howell--even though his role was small. 
I remember in the spring and summer of 1985, reading all about his up-coming film Silver Bullet --a scary movie based upon a Steven King story. I remember hoping and praying it wouldn't be rated R. I remember thinking it was so weird seeing him in a wheelchair, but respecting him as an actor to pull it off so realistically. 

I remember that he got his start on a Canadian TV show, The Edison Twins, but never had the opportunity to view it because back in the early '80s we obviously didn't have YouTube or the Internet.

I remember loving that Corey was to star in Murphy's Romance because as a "littler" kid I loved watching reruns of Gidget and his mom was to be played by Sally Field.  

I remember Corey Haim talking about his mom and sister in interviews and how he landed the part of Lucas and what it was like working with Charlie Sheen. I remember hating how Corey was treated in the movie and promising myself I'd be nicer to nerdy kids.

I remember Corey Haim was often photographed with his mouth slightly open, there was something really cute about that and I would try to pose for pictures with friends making that same "lost" expression with my mouth open. I remembered he had a funny, yet adorable way of speaking - almost like he had marbles in his mouth and a slight lisp or speech impediment.

The Corey Haim I remember didn't do drugs. The Corey Haim I remember didn't get press because of bankruptcy issues or due to a bloated look resulting from drug abuse. He was young, sweet and fresh-faced. I have chosen to allow myself to miss the pre-Lost Boys Corey. Because that's honestly the Corey Haim I loved.

Fast forward to 1997 when I wrote my book, Aaron Carter, Backstreet Brother for Random House. I needed a pen name and fast. I went with the name Corey Barnes. Corey after Feldman and Haim. Barnes after a little known '80s actor, C.B. Barnes.

My thoughts and condolences go out to his mom Judy and family and to Corey Feldman--whom we all know is hurting today.

When I first fell in love with Corey:


Share |