Thank You

Wow, this was a crazy weekend on the Return to the ’80s blog! I had not had a chance to log on for a few days, and what a shock I had when I was finally able to get on! There were just about as many hits in one day as there usually are in a full month. Thanks to some comments, I finally realize what had happened. Apparently WordPress put my “And Now a Word From Our Sponsor” on their main “Freshly Pressed ” page. I don’t know how it got there, but I would like to thank whoever is responsible for putting it there. I am beyond honored!
And I would love to thank everybody who has checked out my blog, and especially for everybody who has made comments. I promise that I will try to respond to as many as humanly possible. I hope everybody continues to come back. I really enjoy writing, and it makes it even more worthwhile knowing that other people enjoy what I’m putting out there.
So please continue to come back, and keep the comments coming. Also, let me know if you have any suggestions for topics, or ideas on how to make this site better. You can look through some of the old articles and comment on them as well. There are also several articles that have some polls on them that you can vote on. Feel free to read through them, and vote and comment. And if you are on Facebook, please visit the Return to the ’80s page and click the ‘Like’ button. We can have discussions on there as well. Return to the ’80s is also on Twitter, so you can follow me there as well. And please spread the word, and tell anybody is interested about all things ’80s about this site.
So, thank you for visiting and welcome to your “Return to the ’80s”!

Ronald Reagan Quote of the Week – 12/20/10

Here are two quotes the former president made about Christmas:

– “Christmas means so much because of one special child” and that many “of us believe in the divinity of the child born in Bethlehem, that he was and is the promised Prince of Peace.”

– “Christmas can be celebrated in the school room with pine trees, tinsel and reindeer, but there must be no mention of the man whose birthday is being celebrated. One wonders how a teacher would answer if a student asked why it was called Christmas.”

R.I.P. Blake Edwards (July 26, 1922 – December 15, 2010)

Legendary director Blake Edwards has died. According to CNN, The Pink Panther and Breakfast at Tiffany’s director died of complications from pneumonia Wednesday night at age 88 at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, California, his publicist said.

Edwards’ wife, Julie Andrews, and relatives were at his side, the publicist said.

In addition to directing those classic films, Edwards directed many great films in the 80s including:
S.O.B. (1981) starring his wife Julie Andrews
Victor/Victoria (1982) once again starring Julie Andrews
The Man Who Loved Women (1983) starring Burt Reynolds
Micki and Maude (1984) starring Dudley Moore
A Fine Mess (1986) starring Ted Danson and Howie Mandel
That’s Life (1986) starring Julie Andrews yet again as well as Jack Lemmon
Blind Date (1987) starring Bruce Willis and Kim Bassinger
Sunset (1988) starring Bruce Willis again as well as James Garner
Skin Deep (1989) starring John Ritter

Music Video of the Week – 12/15/10

With the release of Michael Jackson’s new album this week, the re-release of Paul McCartney’s “Band On the Run”, as well as his concert at the Apollo this week, it is only fitting that they have the video of the week this week. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that their hit “Say, Say, Say” was number 1 this week in 1983. So, here is this week’s video, “Say, Say, Say”:

“Say Say Say” was on Paul McCartney’s fifth solo album, Pipes of Peace. McCartney had already collaborated with Jackson on “The Girl Is Mine” from the Thriller album. In return, Jackson agreed to team up with McCartney on “Say, Say, Say”. The song was Jackson’s seventh number one single within a year.

The video was directed by Bob Giraldi, who had previously directed Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”. The video had cameos by Paul’s wife Linda, and Michael’s sister, LaToya. The video continued in “Thriller”‘s footsteps in that there was dialogue and a story line incorporated in the video.
It was the last time the two music legends would collaborate. They had a falling out when Jackson purchased the rights to the Beatles catalog in 1985.

Trivia Tuesday: 12/14/10

Question: In A Christmas Story, what did Ralphie want for Christmas? And what was the reason he was given (several times) that he should not get it?

Last Question: Who was the original lead singer for Journey?

Answer: Gregg Rolie

What a career Gregg Rolie has had. Before he formed Journey, he was in Santana, and was best known for being the lead vocalist on the hit “Black Magic Woman”. However, he had creative differences with Carlos Santana, so he left the band in 1971. In 1973, he joined former Santana guitarist Neal Schon in a band that would become Journey. Rolie was the lead singer and keyboard player. The band then took a different direction, and brought in Steve Perry as the lead singer, with Rolie singing backup. In 1980, after the Departure album, Rolie grew tired of the endless touring. So he left the band. Rolie recommended pianist Jonathan Cain of The Babys to replace him. And the rest is history.
Gregg released several solo albums. His self titled album in 1985 featured the song, “I Want to Go Back”, which would later become a hit for Eddie Money.
In 1991, Rolie formed a new group called The Storm which featured fellow former Journey members Steve Smith and Ross Valory. The band had a very similar sound to Journey, which was great. They had a top 10 hit with “I’ve Got A Lot To Learn About Love” from their first album, The Storm. They had a very good follow up album a few years later called The Eye of the Storm, which was also very good. Then Journey reformed with Steve Smith and Ross Valory, so that was the end of the Storm.
Gregg Rolie has his own band now called the Gregg Rolie Band.

Cabbage Patch Kids

Riots. Stampedes. Beatings. Death and Destruction. No, I’m not describing a Mad Max movie, or about the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona. This was the scene in malls and stores across the country around this time of year 27 years ago – at the height of the Cabbage Patch Craze.

The Cabbage Patch Kids were created by Debbie Morehead and Xavier Roberts in 1978 and originally called “Little People”. The original dolls were all cloth and sold at local craft shows. The dolls attracted the attention of toy manufacturer Coleco, who began mass-production in 1982. The dolls had large, round heads, and soft fabric bodies.

In 1983, the Cabbage Patch Kids were introduced at the International Toy Fair in New York City. By October, riots were occurring in stores around the country. The dolls made the cover of Newsweek before Christmas.

You did not just buy these dolls. You “adopted” them. Each doll had a adoption papers.

Babyland General Hospital in Cleveland, Georgia is the “birthplace” of Cabbage Patch Kids. It is an old clinic that was converted into a retail unit and mini theme park where the dolls can be sold. Creepily, the “hospital” is presented as a birthing, nursery, and adoption center for premium Cabbage Patch Kids. Even more creepily, the employees dress and act the parts of the doctors and nurses caring for the dolls as if they are real babies. When the intercom announces that a Mother Cabbage is in labor, a nurse hurries to get ready for delivery of a new Cabbage Patch baby. With the nurse are the pink and blue bunnybees that pollinate the kids with crystals, determining if the newborn is a boy- blue crystal or girl- pink crystal. The nurse comments on how much the Tree is dilated and injects with “Imagicillin,” an “experimental but highly recommended” drug.

If the need arises, a “C-section” or “Cabbage section” may be administered. After the doll is successfully birthed, the audience is asked to provide suggestions for the its first two names, the third of which is always that of the adopter. Most of the time the children’s names are chosen by the youngest kid. These names are then recorded on its certificate and on a name tag, and the doll takes a place among the hundreds that inhabit the facility’s nurseries and play environments.

Although the fad has faded, Babyland General Hospital is still a big tourist attraction!

Along with the the success of the dolls came the breakfast cereal, a line of real children’s diapers, as well as a television show.The Cabbage Patch Kids Christmas Special was number one in its time slot on ABC when it was aired in 1985.

Of course, when there is something very successful, there can be backlash. In this case, the backlash came in the form of the awesome Garbage Pail Kids! I can write a whole article on these cards (in fact, I think I will!). The Garbage Pail Kids had pictures of Cabbage Patch looking kids on them doing all kinds of gross things, may have had some weird physical abnormality, or suffer a terrible fate.

However, Topps (the makers of the Garbage Pail Kids cards) was sued for trademark infringement by Xavier Roberts. But, by then both fads were fading.

In 1988 Coleco went bankrupt. So they sold the rights to the Cabbage Patch Kids to Hasbro. Hasbro then started making the dolls with some gimicks such as dolls that played kazoos. There was also the “Birthday Kids”, the “Splash ‘n’ Tan” Kids, and the “Pretty Crimp and Curl” Dolls. Hasbro was not very successful, so they sold the rights to Mattel. Mattel started making the dolls out of vinyl, which made them more durable.

In 2003, Toys “R” Us took over the Cabbage Patch Kids brand from Mattel, producing 20-inch ‘Kids and 18-inch Babies, both with cloth bodies and vinyl heads. They were packaged in cardboard cabbage leaf seats. In 2003, the 20-inch ‘Kids debuted in the Times Square flagship store. These dolls were created to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the line, and were available both online and in stores around the US.

Does anybody have any war stories about getting their Cabbage Patch Kids? I am also curious about the Babyland General Hospital? Has anybody been there? Is it not as creepy as it sounds?

Mr. Mouth

Oh yes, “He just can’t keep his big mouth shut!” The Pac-Man looking Mr. Mouth came out in 1976 by Tomy. It was a simple game. You would place chips in a plastic hand, and try to catapult the chips into Mr. Mouth as his head spun around, and his mouth opened and closed. You had to time it just right. If you shot too early, you would hit him in the face, and if you shot too late, you could be frustrated as the chip would hit him right on his mouth just as it was closing. Then you would get aggravated, and peg him in the back of his head when he turned away from you! The object of the game was to be the first to get all of your chips into his mouth.
After you get bored with that, you could back the hands up further away, and test your skills that way.

Later Mr. Mouth changed to a frog, and you catapult flies in his mouth. But there is nothing like our yellow big mouth friend (and sometimes enemy)!

December 8, 1980 – The Death of John Lennon

Monday, December 8, 1980, the legendary Beatle, John Lennon was murdered. The announcement came from Howard Cosell on Monday Night Football (the New England Patriots vs. the Miami Dolphins):

John Lennon was shot by Mark David Chapman at Lennon’s home, The Dakota, in New York City. He had just returned from Record Plant Studio with his wife, Yoko Ono. Lennon was pronounced dead on arrival at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center, where it was stated that nobody could have lived for more than a few minutes after sustaining such injuries. Shortly after local news stations reported Lennon’s death, crowds gathered at Roosevelt Hospital and in front of The Dakota. He was cremated on 10 December 1980, at the Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York; the ashes were given to Ono, who chose not to hold a funeral for him.

On the morning of December 8, photographer Annie Leibovitz went to Ono and Lennon’s apartment to do a photo shoot for Rolling Stone. She had promised Lennon a photo with Ono would make the cover. After the photo shoot, Lennon gave what would be his last interview to San Francisco DJ Dave Sholin for a music show on the RKO Radio Network. At 5:00 pm, Lennon and Ono left their apartment to mix the track “Walking on Thin Ice”, an Ono song featuring Lennon on lead guitar, at Record Plant Studio.

As Lennon and Ono walked to their limousine, they were approached by several people seeking autographs, among them, Mark David Chapman. Chapman silently handed Lennon a copy of Double Fantasy, and Lennon autographed it.

John and Yoko then went back to the studio until 10:50 pm. Then John wanted to be home in time to say goodnight to five-year-old son Sean before he went to sleep. As he entered the Dakota, Chapman was waiting for him, and shot him in the back. Lennon was rushed to Roosevelt Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

Chapman pleaded guilty to Lennon’s murder in June 1981, against the advice of his lawyers, who wanted to file an insanity plea. He received a life sentence but under the terms of his guilty plea became eligible for parole in 2000, after serving 20 years. Chapman has been denied parole at hearings every two years since 2000 and remains in prison.

Lennon continues to be mourned throughout the world and has many memorials and tributes, such as New York City’s Strawberry Fields, a memorial garden area in Central Park across the street from the Dakota building. Ono later donated $1 million for its maintenance. It has become a gathering place for tributes on Lennon’s birthday and on the anniversary of his death, as well as at other times of mourning, such as after the September 11 attacks and following George Harrison’s death on November 29, 2001.

I remember listening to my parents’ Beatles albums non-stop for a while after John Lennon’s death. I could not get enough of the Help! album as well as Rubber Soul. I have been a Beatles fan ever since then. The Beatles have had a major influence on most artists, even through today. The Beatles were boy band predecessors for New Kids on the Block, all the way to the Jonas Brothers (I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing). They had a major influence on Alternative/New Wave rock (especially with the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band), and also had a major influence on Hard Rock/Heavy Metal (The White Album). And they were all great singer/songwriters.

Rolling Stone magazine is marking the anniversary of John’s death by releasing Lennon’s final interview. It was conducted just three days before his death.

During the interview, Lennon slammed critics saying they want “dead heroes” like James Dean and Sid Vicious. Lennon said he was not interested in being anyone’s “dead hero.”

Well John did have a sense of humor, so I wonder what he would think.
It is a shame that a peaceful man died in such a violent way. And it is also sad for all of us because he had so much more to contribute.
But the music he did write and perform will live forever.

In closing, here is an editorial piece by Yoko Ono that was published today in the New York Times:

John Lennon

I don’t remember how I heard that John Lennon had been shot. Thirty years ago, on a warm December night in Manhattan, it was suddenly in the air, on the street — with only a brief, grim gap between news of the shooting at the Dakota, on 72nd Street and news of his death at Roosevelt Hospital. I called my brother in California and then sat in the stairwell of a building at 27th and Third, numb and grieving, like everyone else.

It was a new kind of death — not a political assassination like the ones that claimed the Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King Jr.; not the self-immolation that took down Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Jim Morrison. Lennon survived the ’60s and ’70s, and by 1980 he was living in New York City as normally, as modestly, as he and his wife, Yoko Ono, could. Then a deranged young man, Mark David Chapman, found a secular scripture in J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye” and shot Lennon in hopes of becoming Holden Caulfield.

Every day I’m at The Times, I pass a photo of the Beatles taken at a press conference during one of their early visits to New York. In the picture, Lennon’s hands are folded behind him, and he stands, with the other Beatles, in a corona from the press lights. Invariably, it reminds me of the famous portrait Annie Leibovitz shot the morning of the day Lennon was killed — the one where he is lying naked, fetal, clinging to Yoko Ono, the ridge of his back so terribly exposed.

We remember what we remember of Lennon, and of that night. When I was young, he was the only adult that mattered outside my family — the Beatle of Beatles. I loved his wit; his irony; his “Help!”; his urgent, reedy voice; his unceasing transformations. Like everyone else who loved him, I can’t help grieving, even now, for all the transformations we lost 30 years ago when John Lennon was only 40.

80's Pop Culture and News

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