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Archive for October, 2010

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*batteries not included

Posted by Big Boo on October 11th, 2010

batteries not includedNo, the asterisk in the title isn’t a mistake, nor is the lack of capital letters, that really is the full title of this film from 1987. Dropping capital letters seems to be the in thing these days (particularly in company logos for some reason) but this film beat the trend by at least 20 years!

*batteries not included is a heart warming mix of two classic storylines, given a science fiction twist to make it all seem more believable. The first storyline is one beloved of Hollywood when making kids movies – I call it the Nasty Property Developer™ – you must have seen countless films (mostly second rate ones it has to be said) based on this premise. The Nasty Property Developer™ has bought all the land surrounding except that which the hero of the film owns, who is refusing to sell, so the NPD™ sends in a bunch of hired goons to force them out.

The second storyline is the classic fairytale The Elves and the Shoemaker, where a poor unfortunate is aided by magical creatures in their hour of need. I this particular case though, it’s little robotic spaceship thingies rather than elves.

In noting the above two story influences I’ve pretty much spelled out the plot of the movie without being at all specific, so I’ll fill in some of the details. The heroes of the piece are Frank and Faye Riley, who own an apartment building and restaurant in a run down part of New York. They are an elderly couple, Frank being a hard working sort whilst is wife Faye is going senile. The pair are played by husband and wife team Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy, who also starred together in that other Eighties classic Cocoon.

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Eighties Fashion Come Back

Posted by Big Boo on October 9th, 2010

In the past couple of months I’ve started to notice there seems to be something of a trend for dressing in Eighties style fashion. Admittedly I’ve only noticed a couple of people doing this, so it certainly isn’t a big thing at the time of writing this.

In each case it has been a young female dressed very much in that style of cropped lace edged leggings with an oversized, brightly coloured shirt worn with a large belt. They’ve even been sporting big hair to round it all off nicely.

Would you go back to wearing Eighties styled clothing? Let me know by voting below. Who knows, if it takes off it might even give some people a chance to dust off long forgotten items from the deepest recesses of their wardrobes, assuming they still fit of course!

Would you wear Eighties fashions today?
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Kensington

Posted by Big Boo on October 8th, 2010

KensingtonThe Eighties was a time when it suddenly seemed to become acceptable for adults to play board games, and by that I mean playing board games with other adults as opposed to playing them with kids.

Sure, there have always been more adult board games, just take a look at the likes of Monopoly, Cluedo and of course Chess, but the late Seventies and whole of the Eighties brought a new wave of games aimed primarily at adults because they either required a broad base of knowledge to play (e.g. Trivial Pursuit) or were a bit more strategic, like Chess.

Kensington fell firmly into the latter camp of strategy based board games, though unlike Chess its rules were actually very simple. Two players each have fifteen counters in either red or blue. They start by taking turns to place counters onto the game board, which was made up of adjoining triangles, squares and hexagons. Once all the counters were on the board players could then slide one counter along a line of the board on their turn.

The object of the game was to form a hexagon using six of your coloured counters. There were three white hexagons in the middle of the board, and two red and two blue on opposite sides, and you had to form a hexagon around either one of the white ones, or one of your own colour.

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Space Sentinels

Posted by Big Boo on October 6th, 2010

Space SentinelsSpace Sentinels was a science fiction/superhero cartoon produced by Filmation in 1977, but would have been shown many times by the Beeb during the Eighties as part of their seeming rotation of back catalogue cartoons.

Despite having most of the ingredients of a decent cartoon (three diverse superheroes borrowed from Roman mythology (well, two were anyway), a big holographic head looking after them and a comedy robot named MO) there was just some vital spark missing and it failed to become hugely popular. I think possibly that spark was the fact that it all seemed perhaps a bit wooden and the way the heroes were dressed just didn’t look all that cool. Plus, it lacked a cool theme tune…

The back story starts with alien abduction! Three teenagers from Earth are taken away and given super powers by Sentinel 1, a big holographic head from another planet. They are then returned to Earth to keep order and make sure that us normal Earthlings are kept safe, operating from a spaceship base at the bottom of a volcano crater.

The three youths were Hercules (incredibly strong but perhaps a little dim), Mercury (able to travel at the speed of light) and Astrea (can transform Manimal style into any living creature). These characters were actually quite ground breaking really for the time, as it gave us three racially diverse characters happily working together as a team. Hercules was Vaucasian, whilst Astrea had African roots (and was female to boot!) and Mercury was Asian.

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Stocking Fillers - Suppliers to Father Christmas
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Cassette Tapes

Posted by Big Boo on October 4th, 2010

Cassette TapeThe humble audio cassette tape, or Compact Cassette to give it it’s original name, may have been around since the early Sixties, but growing up in the Eighties it was a very important thing in my life, as it was not only an easy way of listening to and recording music, but more importantly to me personally, it was how I could save and load software for my home computer.

The compact cassette was an invention of electronics company Philips, who were also the innovators behind the compact disc. It worked by allowing music or data to be recorded by altering the magnetic properties of a piece of thin plastic tape coated with ferric oxide. This was of course nothing new, as reels of tape had been used in this manner for storage for decades prior, but as it’s name suggests, the compact cassette was a winner thanks to it’s relatively small size.

At the time of introduction vinyl was still the medium of choice for music storage, and indeed it arguably remained so for many years, but by the time the Eighties came around the cassette tape truly became a big player thanks to two technical innovations – the Sony Walkman, and the Home Computer.

Whilst they were certainly easier to transport and easier to use than vinyl, you still had to be careful with your cassettes. Winding them back and forth repeatedly could stretch the tape, causing the sound to warp as it was played back, and in extreme cases led to the dreaded tape snag, where you pulled the tape out of the player only to find the tape was still stuck in it somehow and it started to unravel from the plastic casing.

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Pedal Car Power!

Posted by Big Boo on October 2nd, 2010

Writing about the Little Tikes Cozy Coupe reminded me of my old pedal car from when I was small.

It was a police car, and I loved it. I remember it had a little plastic walkie talkie on the dashboard, and the back featured a little shelf with some mini traffic cones on. I used to scoot all round the garden in it, although I don’t ever recall being all that good at actually pedalling it.

Instead of bicycle style pedals it had two pieces of bent metal joined with some kind of cam mechanism. Your feet rested in the nooks of these metal strips, and pumping them back and forth drove the car along. Once you got going they weren’t too bad to use, but getting started was nearly impossible so I used to use the Fred Flintstone method, pushing myself along using my feet.

Anyway, enough recollections from me. Did you have a pedal car? If so, why not let us know what your one was like by posting a comment?

Did you have a pedal car when you were little?
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Rainy Primary School Lunchtimes

Posted by Big Boo on October 1st, 2010

A Rainy DayWhen I look back at my days at Primary School one of the things that I always remember enjoying was when it was tipping down with rain at break and lunch time. Whenever it rained everyone would have to stay in the classrooms and find something to amuse themselves with, so here I present some of the things that were popular to do when it rained at my school.

Take a look and see if you remember doing any of these, and I’d love to hear of any other favourite ways of passing the time when it was raining you might have had.

Paper Aeroplanes: Making something that flies out of paper is always good to while away a few minutes, and wet lunchtimes usually saw a great many paper aeroplanes lying on the floor when lessons resumed.

Groups of friends would get together to see who could make the best looking or furthest flying plane, although it has to be said most people usually fell back on the good old reliable paper dart, perhaps with a little cut made at the back and the paper pushed up to form a tail fin.

Fortune Tellers: Sticking with the paper folding theme the Origami Fortune Teller was also a good time filler. Once you had made your own little future predictor you then went around the classroom telling as many people as possible that they either loved the kid who nobody liked, or that they smelled like poo. Ah, kids eh! What comedians!

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