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Archive for October, 2008

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Posted by Big Boo on October 22nd, 2008

Good old CHiPs, it was one of those dependable early Saturday evening shows that the whole family could watch.  The up beat theme tune set the tone perfectly for a series that never really took itself completely seriously, although it wasn’t really a comedy either.

The show gets its name from the abbreviation CHP (short for California Highway Patrol) and is about the adventures of two motorcycle cops who keep law and order on the Californian streets.  This was a great show for depicting the laid back California life style, with constant beautiful sunshine and beautiful people.

Our heroes were Francis “Ponch” Poncherello (Erik Estrada) and Jonathan “Jon” Baker (Larry Wilcox) who drove around on their gleaming motorcycles keeping the peace.  That is Jon generally kept the piece, whilst show off Ponch was often more interested in chatting up the bikini clad girls who the duo were talking to for information about some crime that had been commited.

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Pencil Toppers

Posted by Big Boo on October 21st, 2008

I have no idea when the Pencil Topper was actually invented, but it’s close relative the eraser (or rubber to us Brits) on the end of the pencil, is credited as being invented by a man named Hyman Lipman, the patent for the idea dating back to 1858!  If only he’d had the idea of making a comical strawberry with arms and legs he might have made a fortune!

Chances are if you can think of it, a Pencil Topper has been made of it.  Whether it be the aforementioned anthropomorphised piece of fruit, the latest hit cartoon character or just a simple smiley face, the range of Pencil Toppers that are available is simply stunning, and is one of those items that kids just love collecting.

Of course, whilst most Pencil Toppers are just to make a pencil look a little more fun, some of them do serve a purpose.  Not all pencils are made with a rubber on the end, so being able to add one to the end of your pencil can be useful.  The best examples of these are those strange pointy angled ones which you sometimes saw the teachers at school using.  Some of them are less than useful as erasers though.  Many’s the time I’ve tried to rub out a mistake with one of those soft ones that ends up making the mistake worse as a smear of graphite is made across your page.

Most Pencil Toppers do nothing more than just sit on the end of your pencil and look pretty, but sometimes you get the odd one that is a bit more interactive.  I remember having one as a child that was basically a plastic loop with a spring coming out of the side with a plastic woodpecker on the end.  Push this on the end of a pencil and wiggle it about a bit and it looked like the woodpecker was trying to bore a hole through the end.

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Mork and Mindy

Posted by Big Boo on October 20th, 2008

Why is it that the US seems to be very good at creating unusual sitcoms?  Sure the UK has produced a number of popular and well loved shows but if you like a more out there slant to your comedy the Americans seem to be best at it, from old classics such as Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie to the subject of this post, Mork and Mindy.

Mork and Mindy was actually one of the many spin offs from the immensely popular Happy Days, believe it or not!  I know it might seem unlikely that a show set in the 1950’s could spawn a (then) present day show about an alien but its true.  The character of Mork (played by Robin Williams in his big TV break) first appeared in an episode of Happy Days where he tried to abduct Richie Cunningham as a study subject to take back to his home world Ork.  Luckily, the Fonz prevented this and Mork went back empty handed.

The spin off show started in 1978 and saw Mork returning to Earth in his egg shaped spaceship to further study humans.  He befriends student Mindy (Pam Dawber) and ends up living in her attic space when she discovers that he is actually an alien, a fact that she keeps secret from her friends and family despite Mork’s often bizarre behaviour, strange language (shazbot is obviously a sort of curse word on Ork) and propensity to drink liquids through his finger.

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Does ‘busting Make You Feel Good?

Posted by Big Boo on October 18th, 2008

Writing about The Real Ghostbusters this week got me feeling all nostalgic for one of the greatest (in my opinion anyway) franchises to come out of the 1980’s.  I love it to death (no pun intended) and whilst the constant rumours of new Ghostbusters films keep cropping up from time to time, somehow I just know it wouldn’t be the same with a CGI Marshmallow Man and the inevitable new Ghostbusting crew.

You just couldn’t replace the original characters, which probably explains why spin-off cartoon Extreme Ghostbusters didn’t do as well as The Real Ghostbusters did.  With this in mind, our survey this week is to find out which of the four Ghostbusters you would most like to be!  Is it brainy Egon, everyman Winston, laid back Peter or over excitable Ray?  Choose below!

Which of the Ghostbusters would you most like to be?
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Stocking Fillers - Suppliers to Father Christmas
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Cameo – Word Up

Posted by Big Boo on October 17th, 2008

Whilst idly channel hopping the other night I stopped for a while on VH1 because they had one of their themed compilation shows on, in this case it was a Top 40 Party Songs from the 1980s, or some such wording anyway.  Early on in the listing came one of those songs that everybody will instantly remember, Word Up, by Cameo.

Word Up is one of those songs that is instantly recognisable, mainly due to the fact that Larry Blackmon, founder and lead vocalist of the band, sang it in such a distinctive way.  His voice comes across sounding almost robotic, so I’m assuming it must have been going through some kind of filter in order to achieve this affect.  Either that or the tight lycra trousers and even tighter looking red plastic cod piece Larry wore in the video was responsible for the voice changing effect.

Cameo are an R&B band formed in 1974 under the name the New York City Players, which to my mind sounds more like a performance art group than a band!  In 1976 the band was renamed Cameo, amid fears that the old name might be confused with another group called Ohio Players.

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Chasing the Eighties

Posted by Big Boo on October 16th, 2008

Chasing the EightiesI wrote about this book a little while ago when I first found out about it coming out, but now I’m pleased to say I’ve had a chance to read it so thought I would provide a bit more detail and a bit of a review of it, so here goes!

The book details a road trip across America and Canada that took place in 2004.  Realising that his thirtieth birthday was just round the corner the author, Spencer Austin, decided it was time to bring to a close his fascination with the films and TV shows he loved whilst growing up in the 1980s.

Spencer felt the best way to do this was to take a three month tour of the North American continent taking in as many locations and interviewing as many people from the 1980s as he could, and the book is a chronicle of his adventures, which he shared with his friends Tom and Luke.  Tom was an amazing research machine who tracked down many of the people and places the trio wanted to visit (and a few that they didn’t), whilst Luke had a really nice camera and went along mainly for the ride.

Starting off in Toronto the boys first try (and fail) to arrange a meeting with Corey Haim, best known for his role in The Lost Boys.  And after they especially bought him a load of cigarettes too.  Whilst there though they do meet up with George R. Robertson, who played the Chief of Police in Police Academy and Stephanie Kaye, one of the actresses from Degrassi Junior High (a kind of Canadian Grange Hill).

After feeling like they were going to be arrested for being terrorists whilst entering the US, they travel to Cincinnati, and visit a Convent which was used for the filming of Rain Man, and then enter Chicago where many a John Hughes film was set, including Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and The Breakfast Club.

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Binatone TV Master

Posted by Big Boo on October 15th, 2008

OK, these may predate the 1980s by a few years, but many people will probably have fond memories of a videogame system that was at least similar in some way to the Binatone TV Master.

These games systems plugged into your TV and transformed it into your own personal video arcade!  Well, that was the idea, but the games you got once you finally managed to get the TV tuned in to the correct frequency were generally all forms of that granddaddy of the videogame, Pong, and most likely were only black and white with the odd blip as a sound effect.  The games may have been called things such as Squash, Tennis and Football, but at the end of the day all that changed was the size and number of bats on screen, and where they were positioned.

The Binatone TV Master came with two controllers that consisted of little more than a twisty knob.  Twisting the knob one way moved your bat up the screen, and twisting the other way moved it down.  That was it.  They were generally incredibly sensitive so you had to be very controlled in how you moved your bat so that you didn’t miss the ball.  Two controllers were necessary since generally none of the games had a one player mode, so you always needed an opponent in order to play.

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The Real Ghostbusters

Posted by Big Boo on October 14th, 2008

Since I first saw it at the pictures all those years ago Ghostbusters has long been one of my favourite films, so I was pretty excited when my Dad came home one day after a visit to the video library with a box marked “The Real Ghostbusters”.  This particularly video library always gave you the tapes in boxes that just had their logo and the video title written on in felt tip pen, so I was even more curious about what this might turn out to be.

I popped the tape in the video recorder and up came two episodes of a well animated TV cartoon series featuring Dr. Pete Venkman, Dr. Ray Stantz, Dr. Egon Spengler and Winston Zeddemore.  The characters were pretty much the same as in the film in terms of their character, but they didn’t exactly look much like the original actors, so in order to help tell the difference between them each team member wore a different coloured uniform.

Funnily enough, this lack of looking like the Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and the other members of the film cast was used as a joke in one episode, which explained the Ghostbusters film as being a film made about the exploits of the cartoon gang, with the animated Ghostbusters acting as advisors to the film makers.  The cartoon Venkman proclaims that the actors don’t look anything like them, and also uses the name of the cartoon as part of the joke, as he refers to the cartoon Ghostbusters as being the real ones.

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