Tag Archives: Blog Assignments

Rewriting Oscar History…

So this week’s assignment from the League is another interpretative, one-word theme, The Oscars.  Whether it’s the Odd Couple, the Grouch, or the awards ceremony, there’s a lot of pop culture room to cover with that word.  But I’m going to be a bit of a purist and stick with what I assume was the general idea and talk a bit about the awards ceremony.  Personally, aside from the one year when Silence of the Lambs won every Oscar ever (including best animated film), I haven’t paid all that much attention to the show.  I don’t really care for the fanfare and the older I get the more jaded I get and the more and more it just seems like the whole thing is about money.  Doing my best to sweep all of that aside though, I thought it would be fun to let my mind slip back to my childhood and then I pretended to hold my own Academy Awards ceremony for each year in the 80s (except I’m the sole member of the voting academy.)  I’m going to nominate my top five favorite films of each year, and pick the Branded in the 80s Best Picture Oscar.  So yeah, let’s get on that…

In 1980 I was 3 years-old, but I was already becoming quite the cinephile thanks mainly to my Mom who was always exposing me to great films.  So the nominees for Best Picture in 1980 are…

1). The Empire Strikes Back
2). My Bodyguard
3). 9 to 5
4). Popeye
5). Midnight Madness

There are other films that I dearly love from ’80, but most of them I didn’t catch up with till later in life.  The five flicks above were hands down my favorite, even if at 3 I didn’t understand everything on-screen.  I have fond memories of insane scavenger hunts, Adam Baldwin gruffly protecting nerds, Lilly Tomlin singing to cartoon birds, Luke Skywalker finding out that his dad is a dick, but when it comes right down to it, there’s only one of the five films that I rewatched constantly as a kid…

…and the Winner for 1980 is: Popeye!

Seriously, for the soundtrack alone, but there;s a rad Octopus battle (a theme in movies I dig), and the casting is astounding.  Love that film.

So the nominees for Best Picture in 1981 are…

1). The Great Muppet Caper
2). Dragonslayer
3). Time Bandits
4). Clash of the Titans
5). Raiders of the Lost Ark

Apparently 1981 was all about Muppets and fantasy for me.  Stolen universe jumping maps, stolen baseball diamonds, stolen Stygian witch crystal eyes, lost arks, and freaking Vermithrax Pejorative!

And the Winner for 1981 is: Dragonslayer!

A, I apparently have a thing for girls who masquerade as boys (see Just One of the Guys later), and B, Peter MacNicol is super awesome and doesn’t get enough credit.

The nominees for Best Picture in 1982 are…

1). The World According to Garp
2). The Secret of Nimh
3). The Toy
4). Poltergeist
5). The Beastmaster

At five years-old my mom sat me down to watch The World According to Garp.  I had no idea what “no glove, no love” meant, but I thought John Lithgow was a pretty lady.  Also, crazy saxophone scene, and the dog biting ear stuff stuck with me for years.  Poltergeist taught me to fear hidden graveyards under the subdivision, Beastmaster taught me about how much cooler I would have been had I been magically born from a cow, and the Secret of Nihm was just plain rad.  I have to say though that I have memories of renting The Toy over and over again.  There was a point where I could quote every line in the film, so…

…the Winner for 1982 is: The Toy!

The nominees for Best Picture in 1983 are…

1). Wargames
2). Class
3). A Christmas Story
4). Return of the Jedi
5). Eddie & The Cruisers

At six it was unquestionable that Star Wars rocked my world, and I remember seeing Return of the Jedi multiple times in the theater.  I also had the bed sheets, tooth brush, shampoo, and I was eating the Pepperidge Farms cookies as well.  Looking back though, there were other films that had a pretty big impact on my life that year.  Class started to explain the funny feelings I’d have in my pants, Eddie and the Cruisers turned me onto rock and roll, and A Christmas Story became a family staple way before TBS started shoving it down peoples throats with their plumbers helper.  Wargames however turned me onto the awesomeness of Ally Sheedy and Matthew Broderick, more specifically it started to shape my personality to that of one slightly devious, but mostly just innocent.  Did I almost just start World War III?  Moi?

And the Winner for 1983 is: Wargames!

The nominees for Best Picture in 1984 are…

1). The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension
2). Red Dawn
3). The Karate Kid
4). Ghostbusters
5). Cloak & Dagger

Picking only five films for 1984 is a lot like shooting a bunch of baby ducks.  I mean I had to cut Temple of Doom, Streets of Fire, Gremlins, The Last Starfighter, Muppets Take Manhattan, The Terminator, Night of the Comet, Beverly Hills Cop, Starman, and Breakin’ 1 and 2, the essential Electric Boogaloo!  That being said, this might sound insane, but for all the amazing rad films that year, the one that had the single most impact on my 7 year-old brain was Cloak & Dagger.  I spent hours daydreaming about everything that happens to Davey in that flick, so when I saw it I felt like the writers and director had literally tapped into my brain and poured out the contents onto the screen.

And the Winner for 1984 is: Cloak & Dagger!

The nominees for Best Picture in 1985 are…

1). Just One of the Guys
2). Better Off Dead
3). Real Genius
4). The Goonies
5). Pee Wee’s Big Adventure

If 1984 was like shooting baby ducks, then 1985 was a lot like eating their carcasses.  Seriously, look what didn’t make the cut!  The Breakfast Club, Gotcha, Fletch, Back to the Future, The Legend of Billie Jean, Fright Night, Weird Science, My Science Project, Teen Wolf, Commando and Young Sherlock Holmes.  It’s tough, but I had to choose five.  Just One of the Guys showed me more undercover women, and uncovered boobies.  Better Off Dead defined the majority of my sense of humor for the rest of my life.  The Goonies is, well, I’ll let Jaime over at Shezcrafti extol the virtues of that one for mePee Wee’s Big Adventure is a near perfect film.  But only one of these flicks was on constant repeat in my household and that was Real Genius.  When you’re finished hammering that nail though that board come help me set up this giant bag of Jiffy Pop will ya?

And the Winner for 1985 is: Real Genius!

The nominees for Best Picture in 1986 are…

1). Transformers: The Movie
2). Big Trouble in Little China
3). Rad
4). The Three Amigos
5). Something Wild

Alright, by ’86 it was getting a little easier for to whittle down the lists.  That being said this year was still a doozy.  I was only 9, but my hormones had kicked in early apparently because I couldn’t stop watching Something Wild and hoping someday I’d find myself in Jeff Daniel’s shoes (well, minus the Ray Liotta experiences.)  Big Trouble in Little China is another near perfect film, as is The Three Amigos, but this contest is really just a grudge match between two of my top three films of all time, Rad and Transformers the Movie.  As much as I heart the bike dance, Send Me An Angel, Cru Jones, Helltrack and evil jumpsuit wearing twins who can do the worm like no one else, this contest has to go to Transformers.  Including my viewing of it for a recent Saturday Supercast I have now officially seen that flick 141 times (unofficially I think it’s probably closer to 400+.)  No question.  Bah Weep Grana Weep Ninibon.

And the Winner for 1986 is: Transformers: The Movie!

The nominees for Best Picture in 1987 are…

1). Light of Day
2). The Monster Squad
3). Near Dark
4). The Princess Bride
5). Innerspace

Much like 1986, there really is no contest for 1987′s best picture.  Is anyone surprised?

And the Winner for 1987 is: The Monster Squad!

The nominees for Best Picture in 1988 are…

1). A Fish Called Wanda
2). Willow
3). Beetlejuice
4). Young Guns
5). Vice Versa

By 1988 I was starting to really develop my tastes in film, and honestly the decade was starting to turn the corner from the feel of typically 80s flicks to something else.  I wasn’t quite starting to get jaded yet, but I was getting a little pickier.  That being said I watched the ever living crap out of all five of these films, though one in particular I’ve seen over 300 times, and that film is the second to star Val Kilmer (who would get two Branded Best Actor awards for sure) on this countdown.

And the Winner for 1988 is: Willow!

For the final year in this countdown, the nominees for Best Picture in 1989 are…

1). Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
2). UHF
3). Say Anything…
4). The ‘Burbs
5). Young Einstein

1989 lead the decade out with a bang for me, and the above five films are all near and dear to my heart.  Tom Hanks is arguably at his comedic best in the ‘Burbs, Weird Al made a piece of cine-magic with UHF, the stars aligned for Yahoo Serious with Young Einstein, and Bill S. Preston Esquire and Ted “Theodore” Logan ignorantly wormed their way into my everyday parlance.  But at 12, almost a teenager, and on the verge to leave my home of 10 years in Florida to move to the snowy wilderness in New Hampshire, there was only one film I truly identified with that year, and it was the one where I decided that I wanted to either marry or be John Cusack when I grew up.  Lots of angst for me in 1989…

And the Winner for 1989 is: Say Anything…!

So, there you have it, my top ten favorite films of the 1980s, along with 40 amazing runners up.  What would have made your list?

Also, last but not least, the nominees for best League Assignment entries this week are…

Jaime, Shezcrafti, makes an Oscars Mixtape

Iok, That Figures, runs down his alter-Oscars

Dex, AEIOU and Sometimes Why, is getting grouchy

Tommy, Top Hat Sasquatch, takes a look at some Oscar-winning action figures

Jon, The Combat Workshop, is working on building “The Oscar”

The League is in Love…

This week’s League assignment is sort of Valentine’s centric.  Brain asked us to write a stream-of-consciousness piece about what we love.  I love a lot of stuff, and it’s not all equally (obviously), but in an attempt to go completely from the hip I’m going to list the first 77 things that come to mind (minus the obvious stuff like family, pets, and really personal junk.)  So prepare yourself for the stupidity that is peeling back my scalp and pouring my brain out into a heart shaped bowl.  I love…

#1 – 29 year-old hugging toy robots, specifically Robo Force…

#2 – Burnt Cheez-Its…

#3 – Eating Easy Cheese directly from the can…

#4 – The free kid’s stickers at Trader Joes…

#5 – Trader Joes Crunchy Cookie Butter…

#6 – Trapper Keepers…

#7 – Pentel Quicker Clicker 0.9 lead mechanical pencils…

#8 – Watching the Tri/Star Pegasus logo at the start of 80s flicks…

#9 – Johnny Lee Miller in Hackers…

#10 – The sound of Indiana Jones’ whip cracking to let me know that it’s time to turn the page in my read-along record and storybook set…

#11 – K.I.T.T.’s shiny black hubcaps…

#12 – Helen Slater’s Neoprene batching suit in The Legend of Bille Jean…

#13 – Joan Jett being gruff to Michael J. Fox in Light of Day…

#14 – Jason Bateman’s smarmy grinning in Silver Spoons episodes…

#15 – Fisher Price Adventure People, specifically the Robot Guy and Gal…

#16 – The goofy simplistic art style on the wax wrappers from trading cards…

#17 – The solid color border hugging Topps die-cut character stickers from the 70s & 80s…

#18 – Velcro Wallets…

#19 – John Pound’s art…

#20 – The smell emanating from most Chinese restaurants in the parking lot at night…

#21 – Hearing the voices of the various Kids in the Hall troupe in my head when a skit randomly pops into my consciousness…

#22 – The sound skateboard wheels make on asphalt…

#23 – The way the fur feels on my 30 year-old Wicket plush when I put him aside when getting into bed at night…

#24 – Hot Pink…

#25 – Listening to John Carpenter soundtracks when driving back from my friends house around midnight…

#26 – Starting off every road trip with Holiday Road from National Lampoon’s Vacation…

#27 – Examining all the Cereal, snack food, frozen and soda aisles in grocery stores in other areas/states to see if they have different stuff from the ones I’m used to…

#28 – Looking down and seeing the Tattoo I designed for the memory of my sister every day…

#29 – Making lists…

#30 – Updating the lists I make…

#31 – Annotating the lists I make…

#32 – The feeling I get in my stomach when the lights go down in the movie theater for the trailers to start…

#33 – Eating Dim Sum with a crap ton of people and having to finish all the sticky rice because no one else wanted it…

#34 – Good Indian food buffets…

#35 – Off-Brand cereal mascots…

#36 – Separating and ordering collections of trading cards/stickers…

#37 – Hearing Josh Baskin saying “Need It, Need It, Got it…” in my head compulsively when flipping through my Garbage Pail Kids collection…

#38 – Buying awesome pop culture shirts from my friend’s one year-old daughter, especially the boy’s shirts that I know her mom rolls her eyes at…

#39 – Spotting that first huge container of Pumpkins around the 2nd week of September…

#40 – Those 10 silent minutes before recording a podcast when I sit down in Branded HQ (my office at home) and just stare at all the junk on the walls…

#41 – Skee Ball…

#42 – Hearing Spanish covers of my favorite punk songs at the local Mexican restaurant…

#43 – David Bowie’s Hunky Dory album…

#44 – The memory of how hard it used to be to pull a fruit roll up off the plastic backing back in the 80s and how I would stick it all in my mouth and chew until it stopped tasting like grape…

#45 – Chewing on the old bubbly Lego space set tires while endlessly trying to build Airwolf out of my available Lego bricks…

#46 – Making and sending care packages to friends…

#47 – Finding, but not buying, pop culture character glasses in antique shops…

#48 – Stupid perverted conversations…

#49 – When John Cusack pretends to draw in 80s films and the drawings become animated…

#50 – The bike dance in Rad…

#51 – The sound Link’s sword makes in Legend of Zelda II when it shoots out a blast…

#52 – The sound of punching opponents in Mike Tyson’s Punch Out…

#53 – The skipitybob music during the menu and in-between segments of Super Mario Brothers II…

#54 – Inserting picture discs into a Viewmaster…

#55 – When building a sand castle on the east coast beaches of Florida, if you dig deep enough for the wetter sand and you find tiny little clams…

#56 – Ordering a Shirley Temple in a seafood restaurant…

#57 – Drinking olive and pickle juice…

#58 – The humming whir of Airwolf’s engines and those first pulse pounding synth beats during the opening theme music…

#59 – Sitting down on the slightly damp boat bench in either It’s A Small World or Pirates of the Caribbean at Disney World…

#60 – That time we asked to sit in the pilot’s cabin of the monorail at Disney…

#61 – The Keys to the Kingdom tour of Disney World and the part where we get to go into the Haunted Mansion through the service entrance…

#62 – Knowing that somewhere out there in the world there are probably still Star Wars figures with the copper touch-up paint from my parent’s old Mazda 626 on the bottoms of their feet to make them for ours (so I wouldn’t trade them with friends…)

#63 – Stuffing little pieces of paper in the holes on the top of a cassette tape so you can record over it…

#64 – Obsessively getting 100+ lives in Super Mario Bros and then turning off the game…

#65 – Playing Galaga at a stand-up arcade cabinet in a pizza place…

#66 – Mixing my own preserves into plain yogurt…

#67 – Finding that 3-chambered peanut and proclaiming to the closest friend “Look what I did!”…

#68 – Eating peanuts with the shells on…

#69 – Good sushi…

#70 – The Time for Timer mascot singing about a wagon wheel of cheese…

#71 – Flipping through 30 year-old magazines looking for interesting advertisements…

#72 – My VW Golf…

#73 – Jolly Rancher Watermelon flavor…

#74 – Transformers the Movie (1986)…

#75 – The white noise that old video transferred from VHS makes on youtube videos…

#76 – Talking about movies…

#77 – The number seven, duh…

If enjoyed this list, then you might want to check out these other League Members…

Reis, Lair of the Dork Horde, loves the smell of old paper backs and graphic novels

Fiji Mermaid, Sideshow Cinema, loves the Predator

The Goodwill Geek, Goodwill Hunting 4 Geeks, loves Bubba Ho-Tep

Hobgoblin238, Monster Cafe, loves a messy hot fudge sundae

Shiver the League’s Timbers!

So the themes for the past few weeks of League assignments have been pretty broad, and this week is no exception.  Brian opened the theme of this week up to the League members and by popular demand the assignment is all about Pirates!

By and large pirates don’t hold a huge fascination for me, though there are a few exceptions.  Of course I adore the Princess Bride and the ravishing Dread Pirate Roberts.  I enjoy the story of Peter Pan, particularly the 90s era Fox Kids incarnation, but I’m also partial to the classic Disney version as well (especially the Disney World dark ride.)  Speaking of Disney World, I have some intense nostalgia for the Pirates of the Caribbean ride in the park.  I have distinct memories of riding and re-riding that adventure with my family, listening to my dad goofily and loudly singing along with the music (generally making an ass out of himself and embarrassing us all, but that’s what dads are for I suppose), and running into the shop after being discharged from the boat looking for treasure (which always came in the form of the cool wooden pistols and rifles they sold.)

There are a few other pop culture pirates that stand out in my memory.  The insanity of the Berserkers from the Thundercats cartoon…

I also spent a decent amount of time watching the animated adventures of the Pirates of Dark Water after school in the 90s…

But if I had to sum up my nostalgic love for the timber shiverers, it would have to be the second series Garbage Pail Kids cards, 61 a&b, Jolly ROGER and Pegleg PETER (painted by the amazing John Pound back in 1985…)

 

I typically have the various imagery from the GPK sets bouncing around in my head and when I thought of pirates, this was the first and most striking image to come to mind.

So, what about you?  What’s your favorite pirate-themed memory or nostalgia?  Also, if you enjoyed reading about these pirates, why not check out some of the other League members thoughts on the subject…

Jaime, Shezcrafti, is jamming out to some of her favorite high seas shantys

The Goodwill Geek, Goodwill Hunting 4 Geeks, shares some of his thrifty treasures

Jon, The Combat Workshop, made the Joker into Jolly Roger

Jason, Rediscover the 80s, shares his top list of cartoon pirates from the 80s and 90s

Dex, AEIOU and Sometimes Why, wants to introduce you to Alestrom

Iok, Plaidstallions.com, covets some Matchbox brand Pirate figures

Getting Back in the Saddle with the League…

It’s been forever and a day since I contributed to the League, so with the new year in full swing, let’s get back up on that horse!  That cliché actually leads into this week’s League topic as well, Cowboys.  It seems as if the stars are aligning right now as everything on my pop culture radar is currently pointing me towards the western genre, whether it’s the upcoming episodes of the Cult Film Club (that I just recorded with Paxton Holley and Jaime Hood and should go live on the 23rd) and the Nerd Lunch Podcast (which should go live tomorrow), or this new League assignment, I have cowboys on the brain.  So, riffing on a topic from the upcoming Nerd Lunch episode, I wanted to take a second and post about my favorite western-influenced toy line from my childhood, the 1981 Legend of the Lone Ranger set by Gabriel

These figures hit the pegs right in between Star Wars and G.I. Joe and were unfortunately heavily overshadowed by the former.  Released as a merchandising tie-in for the movie of the same name, it’s kind of a shame that the line was never fully realized do the film failing at the box office.  Though I never saw the flick as a kid, I did watch the Filmation cartoon that was out around the same time and dearly wanted the toys.  I was lucky enough to get both the Lone Ranger and Tonto figures before they disappeared off of toy shelves, and the duo stuck around in my collection up until my parents sneakily threw away all my toys during a cross country move in the early 90s.

Looking back, what I really loved about the figures was that they were a step up in quality from your typical 3.75 inch figure at the time.  Not only did the figures have two more points of articulation than their Star Wars counterparts (bending at the knees), but they also had the nice feature of having working holsters and sheathes so you could put away Tonto’s knife or LR’s pistols.  Also, even though this line was never as popular as lines like G.I. Joe, M.A.S.K. or Star Wars, I find that the older I get the more I look back at the obscure figures with a greater fondness.  I guess sometimes you don’t need money and longevity to mark a great toy line, though I’m sure Gabriel would beg to differ…

If you’re curious about the League, and want to see what some of the other members have written on this week’s topic than do yourself a favor and head on over to either Cool & Collected or these great sites below…

Jaime, Shezcrafti.com, wants you to know that a Cowboy Needs a Horse (needs a horse, needs a horse…)

Rich, Fortune and Glory Days, wants to make sure than when you hang a man, you Hang ‘Em High!

Getting Seasonaly Traditional with The League!

I swear, this season is just whipping by at mach 2.1!  Every time I think I can get caught up on the 31 Days of Monsters countdown, something else pops up and needs to be dealt with.  I have some pto coming my way at the day job, so I’m pretty sure I’ll have all the cels I planned on sharing scanned and up on the site by the 31st, it’s probably not going to be daily though.  That being said, I did want to take a second and participate in this week’s assignment from the League as it’s in the vein of the season and doesn’t require me to break out Photoshop and a scanner.  This week’s topic is all about our personal Halloween traditions, and at Branded HQ the wife and I have been slowly building ours over the last decade or so.

Though Halloween has always been my favorite holiday, it’s really become something special over the last 12 years as I met, wooed, dated, lived with and ultimately married the lady that would become my wife.  I finally had someone to share my love of the holiday with, be it someone to stalk the seasonal aisles of stores with, or a victim to watch my horror movie marathons with.  Throughout the 2000s we started a number of Halloween traditions, and as soon as I stared up this site back in 2006 we found the inspiration to add more and more.  One of the first traditions we started was extending the holiday throughout the entire month of October.  One of the ways we do this is by trying to carve a new jack-o-lantern every weekend throughout the month.  We’ve done two so far…

  

We also try and take some time out to make some fun Halloween foodstuffs throughout the month.  This year we’ve made a couple batches of homemade Hi-C Ecto-Cooler (thanks largely to the Strange Kids Club for the recipe)…

The first batch was straight up to test the recipe (1.5 cups of sugar, 1 packet of orange Kool-Aid mix, 1/2 packet of Lemonade Kool-Aid mix, 3/4 cup orange juice w/no pulp, 3/4 cup of tangerine juice, 14 cups of water, and 4-5 drops green food coloring), which was pretty damn close to how I remember this wonderful concoction tasting.  The second batch was mixed with various liquors trying to find the perfect accent to flavor (FYI, vodka worked best in a one shot to 12 oz ratio.)

In addiction to Halloween-y drinks, every year for the past few years we’ve been selecting a recipe out of my favorite cookbook of all time, Vincent & Mary Price’s Treasury of Great Recipes

The book is filled with a metric ton of rich and quite unhealthy dishes scoured from the world’s finest restaurants (circa 1960), and though none of them call for bats wings or eye of newt, the calories alone will cause you to faint with fright!

Rounding out the seasonal food traditions is an unlikely craving the wife and I have during October.  For the past three years we’ve been attending the Historic Oakland Cemetery Sunday in the Park festival, as well as the Little 5 Points Annual Halloween Parade.  Both events feature local food trucks, in particular, our absolute favorite, the Pallookaville Corn Dog Truck!

Though there’s nothing spooky about these dogs (strictly speaking), Pallookaville only operates during select times of the year and this is the month when we get a chance to hit them up.  It’s not Halloween unless there’s at least one Corndogula (regular) or Fryinstein Monster (huge dog with segments of Italian sausage, kosher hot dog, and kielbasa) consumed.

Speaking of Oakland Cemetery, this past year the wife and I made the plunge and lost a crap-ton of weight.  October 20th marked the one year point in this new journey, and we celebrated by participating in the Run Like Hell 5K.  We had a blast and are pretty sure this is going to be a new Halloween tradition.  Not only was it fun to run, but a good chunk of the run takes place in the actual cemetery!  I couldn’t resist and had to take some goofy photos for the event…

Of course one of our main traditions is visiting all the Halloween displays in the stores.  Some of our favorites are the yearly Bony Bunch collections at Yankee Candle, the gourmet and retro candy displays at the Fresh Market, and of course Target (even though it gets smaller and smaller each year and the marketing gets more and more generic.)

Last, but certainly not least, is our annual horror movie and TV special marathons.  We do our best to pack in as many movies and specials as we can over the month, culminating in some all-day events over the last few days leading up to Halloween.  This year, in addition to digging into my collection of films and TV, we’ve also scored some tickets to see some really fun flicks on the big screen.  This Wednesday I’m really looking forward to a double bill of Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein thanks to TCM and Fathom events.  I’ve never seen any of the Universal flicks on the big screen and I can’t wait to see these two.  We’re also going to try and make a screening of John Carpenter’s Halloween which is returning to the big screen during the last week of the month.

So, what are some of your favorite Halloween traditions?

Also, if you enjoyed reading about my traditions, why not check out some of the other participants of the League to see what they love to do around this time of the year…

Hobgoblin, Monster Cafe, is getting back into the swing of things and starting some new traditions…

Before Branded, and hiking towards where the sidewalk ends…

I thought I’d take a quick break from this year’s Halloween countdown to try and tackle this week’s League of Extraordinary Bloggers assignment, which is all about pulling back the curtain and writing a State of the Site address (where it’s at and where I see it going in the future.)  This isn’t something I typically indulge in, but the site has been inching closer and closer to its 7th birthday which is a personal milestone I had set when I began this project.  I’m going to shamelessly steal the framing perspective of this piece from Jaime over at Shezcrafti and start at the beginning, which for me was 1996, a decade before I’d actually launch Branded in the 80s and the year that I was fully introduced to the world wide web.

In ’96 I’d been out of high school for a year, had just moved out on my own and was spending my nights working on the stock crew at a local grocery store.  A friend had just bought his first computer and after the excitement of watching the included Weezer “Buddy Holly” video ten times in a row we were hooking it up to a modem and creating our first AOL e-mail accounts within in the hour.  Of course we’d over dosed on the movie Hackers the year before, and I knew that being presented with my first opportunity to create a screen name wasn’t a task to be taken lightly.  Would it be the Master of Disaster, Ultra Laser, or Doctor Doom?  No, I wasn’t the type of guy who could live up to something like Zero Cool, Cereal Killer, Acid Burn, Lord Nikon, or The Plague.  Even with the opportunity to create ANY identity, I couldn’t help but be something that was more in line with my actual self.  Pondering the possibilities I immediately went to thoughts of my childhood (though still a teenager at the time, the irony isn’t lost on me now) and the cartoon that sort of defines the 80s Saturday Morning experience for me, the Smurfs. DualSmurf was born in my attempt to address my love of the 80s mixed with the idea that I had two lives (online and real life) that were both the same.  Yeah, doesn’t make much more sense to me now as I’m sure it sounded back then.  My next step though was trying my best to get a homepage of my own up and running asap.

Fast forward 10 years, a handful of Smurf-related handles, and one odd Angelfire site dedicated to a fictional conspiracy in which the Yoo Hoo Corporation was trying to cause widespread color-blindness in consumers, and I’m buying a new PC and finally severing my ties with dial-up internet.  It’s February of 2006 and I had still yet to create that homepage or website that I could call my own.  I’d been using Deviant Art as a sort of place-holder for an online presence, but I never really considered myself all that much of an artist so it just felt weird hanging around there all the time.  I’d just discovered the concept of podcasting and the evening after setting up the PC I decided that come hell or high water I was going to create a website and a podcast.  Inspired by Matt at X-Entertainment, Todd at Neato Coolville and Kirk at the Secret Fun Spot (and blog), I again decided that the way to go was to concentrate on my childhood and nostalgia.

Enter Branded in the 80s, which began as a podcast, but pretty soon I was writing more than recording and it’s become the site it is today.  Coming back to the 7th anniversary of the site, again, I’ve always been a pretty big fan of the number seven.  I was born in 1977, on the 17th of July and years of writing that number on applications and forms has led to a semi-obsession.  It even popped up on the initial design of the site back when it launched (and stayed that way for the first two or three years…

The initial goal was to make it to the 7-year mark.  I honestly never thought I’d still be working on Branded this many years later, but the impact running the site has had on my life is large enough that I can’t imagine not doing it after I reach that goal next March.  Over the last seven years and through contacts and friendships made through the site I’ve had a ton of amazing experiences.  I’ve published a couple zines, traveled around the country to table at conventions, heck, I even helped plan and execute an independent art event for cartoonists a couple years ago.  I’ve also had a lot of fun working on the Countdown to Halloween website with John Rozum, providing a hub for like-minded sites to find each other during one of our favorite holidays.  I’ve been a guest on numerous podcasts, was mentioned on NPR and in the Guardian, and even had the opportunity to be interviewed by the Washington Post.  Over the last year I feel like I’ve been getting pretty close to a few website milestones (just about to 1000 articles/posts and I just passed 2 million pageviews), I’ve also met a ton of new folks through activities like The League, on Twitter and in starting a Facebook page for Branded.  I contributed an article to the upcoming Strange Kids Club Anthology and I’ve also sort of jumped back into podcasting (as a guest on 6 episodes of the Nerd Lunch show, and there are a few other appearances on other podcasts in the pipeline including the 1st episode of a newly launched Top Hat Sasquatch show.)

Obviously none of this would have happened without the site and as far as where I see it going, well, I never really know.  There are a couple places I’d like to take the site in terms of making it feel a little more tangible, but I’d hate to stick my foot in my mouth and announce plans that I might not execute.  Let’s just say that I’d really like to work on writing a book, but I haven’t nailed down exactly what that would be just yet.  Besides, I’d need to find one hell of an editor to put up with the jumbled mess that tends to spew out of my keyboard.  As far as I can say though, I see myself re-aligning for a ten-year goal and I look forward to whatever the next three or so years bring.

So, did you enjoy what you read about the state of Branded in the 80s?  Well, why not head on over to some of the other League member’s sites and see where they’re at!

Tommy, Top Hat Sasquatch, is launching a new podcast and is thinking about breaking out the video camera

Jaime, Shezcrafti, is breaking out of her shell and yet still keeping it Crafty

Kev, That Figures, is coming out of a toy drought and looking to do more reviews

The Goodwill Geek, GoodWill Hunting 4 Geeks, is just starting, but having a blast

William, WillaimBruceWest.com, kind of wants to take over the world, pop culturally speaking

Coming this Fall, The Branded in the 80s Megafun Saturday!

This week’s assignment from the League is a really fun one (suggested by Poe Ghostal over at PG’s Points of Articulation) that invites the members to program their own dream Saturday morning cartoon line-up.  The SMC programming block is an unfortunately extinct network tradition that was a weekly bit of bliss for kids during the 60s through to the 90s.  With the advent of dedicated 24-hour kid-vid channels like Nickelodeon, Disney and Cartoon Network it became increasingly harder and harder for the big three to compete for the cartoon and kid’s programming market share and over the past 15 years or so Saturday morning has lost its association with 5-6 solid hours of cartoons.

Luckily I’ve managed to secure copies of practically every cartoon that I remember loving as a kid, and whenever I get a chance I program my own Saturday morning cartoon line-up, so this assignment is something near and dear to me.  Sort of like with last week’s Mixtape assignment, I didn’t want to just list the shows I’d want to see.  I wanted to do something a little different.  One of the aspects that I loved about each new fall season was getting a chance to see all the advertising that the networks would put together for their SMC line-up, my favorite of which was a series of CBS, NBC, and ABC comic book ads that would mash-up all the characters from the various shows.  In fact, putting together an archive of these ads was one of the first big projects I worked on for Branded.  Taking some inspiration from these I created my own fake advertisement for my personal Branded Saturday!

I tried to pick a range of stuff that I’ve been really into lately, as well as a fun mix of fantasy, sci-fi, action, comedy, and in the case of Balki’s Stories of Mepos, imaginary shows that I wished existed.  I picture the Balki show being a cross between Pryor’s Place, Reading Rainbow and Pee Wee’s Playhouse where Bronson Pinchot would play his character from the Perfect Strangers sitcom narrating all sorts of fun stories from his imaginary homeland that could be visualized as live-action skits and animated shorts.  I also wanted to include some Nickelodeon stuff like Danger Mouse, and some more obscure stuff like Galaxy High.  Also, in my dream world Robo Force graduated from the single Sunbow pilot episode to a full blown 13-episode series.

5:30 – 7:00am – The Looney Tunes
7:00 – 7:30am – Danger Mouse
7:30 – 8:00am – the Smurfs
8:00 – 8:30am – Galaxy High
8:30 – 9:00am – Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears
9:00 – 9:30am – Balki’s Stories of Mepos
9:30 – 10:00am – The Real Ghostbusters
10:00 – 10:30am – Robo Force
10:30 – 11:00am – Thundercats
11:00 – 12:00pm – Soul Train (had to do it!)
12:00 – 2:00pm – Super Scary Saturday Movie with Grandpa Munster (featuring old horror and sci-fi flicks from the 30s-70s)

As far as the inspiration I drew on for the fake SMC ad I created, here are a few that immediately spring to mind…

 

Last but not least, here’s a black and white variation of my ad that would have run in the Fall Preview issue of TV Guide…

Have a second? Why not check out some of the other League members to see how they weighed in on this week’s assignment!

Jaime, Shezcrafti, keeps the action amped up all morning long!

The Goodwill Geek, Goodwill Hunting 4 Geeks, picks some obscure gems from the 80s!

Jason, Rediscover the 80s, is all about themed cartoon blocks!

Dan, Of Flying Monkeys and Ewoks, Oh My, picks a lot of my favorites from the 80s!

Dex, AEIOU and Sometimes Why, put a lot of thought into his themed hours!

The Branded in the 80s Mixtape, sponsored by The League…

**Update, the 15th and final Mixtape has now been sent out.  Thanks everyone who requested one!**

This week’s assignment from the League is all about the tunes we used to jam back in our high school days, and the mixtapes we made along the way.  Basically, the deal is to construct a 12-song mixtape of what we were listening to in our cars at the time.  I didn’t get my first hand-me-down car until I was 19, but between 1991 and 1995 I was the consistent co-pilot of my friend’s run down gun metal grey Chevy Caviler.  To be honest though, I don’t remember if his car stereo even worked, so I don’t have a ton of memories cursing the back roads of our town listening to anything but each other’s dumb jokes and laughter.

me

I did, however, spend an inordinate amount of time waiting after school (like 3 hours a day) for rides from my parents as I moved outside of the district a year into high school and didn’t want to change schools.  So I was the guy curled up in a corner of an out-of-the-way hall with my walkman on full blast trying my best not to go insane while I waited.

mixtape

For this assignment, I want to do things a little different.  Instead of simply listing my twelve top tunes from that era, I’m going to make some actual mixtapes (on CD) of these songs I loved at the time.  I’ll send out copies of this Branded mixtape to the first 15 people who e-mail me!  Make sure to include your snail mail address, and put “Branded Mixtape” in the subject line.  I thought this might be a bit more fun, and a slightly more visceral way of doing the mixtape.

I will say that some of the songs should be no surprise to anyone who has read Branded for any length of time, but, especially for the time, I listened to some goofy stuff.  Anyway, lets see how this turns out.

If you have a moment and would like to see what some of the other League members put together, mixtape-wise, why not visit some of these fine sites…

Reis, The Lair of the Dork Horde, bangs his head along to some choice thrash metal

Jaime, Shezcrafti, literally parties like it’s 1999

Paxton, Cavalcade of Awesome, unearth’s one of his old hip hop mixtapes

TL, Flashlights are Something to Eat, also manages to put his hands on an actual mixtape he made while visiting his brother at his radio station gig

Eric, Toyriffic, mixes up some classic rock and hair metal on his tape

Brian, Cool & Collected, wants you to know that he’ll be there for you

Dex, AEIOU and sometimes why, gets hot for teacher while doing a bunch of scissor-kicks

Cue Lyndsy Buckingham’s Holiday Road and take a trip with the League…

This week’s assignment from the League is all about capturing the last vestiges of summer and planning a dream pop culture road trip.  Honestly, I’m sort of sick of summer and am ready for it to be Halloween, but that won’t stop me from pondering what I’d do with two weeks and the whole country to see.  For me, a road trip of this magnitude would have to hit on a few of my travel goals, so real quick, aside from the pop culture shenanigans I’d also like to cross off a couple other “to do’s”, namely visiting another country and seeing the west coast.  I’ve spent my entire life up and down the east coast from Maine to Florida, but I’ve never been further west than Austin, TX, and I was less than a year old at the time.  So with those two goals in mind, I decided that the best way to really get the most out of the experience would be to make one huge circle across the country, dipping into Canada along the way…

map

All in all, there are six stops I’d like to make along the way that I think would knock out most of the main sites I want to hit some day.  Since I was born in Texas and haven’t been back since I was a baby, my first stop would be in the lone star state to visit a very specific house that resides in Kingsland.  This is a house that haunted my dreams years before I eventually saw the film that made it famous, a house that my mother warned me about a million times as a kid, from a film that she made me swear that I wouldn’t watch until I turned 18 (the one exception to the rule of letting me watch whatever I wanted beginning at age 10.)  The homestead from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

tcm

Though the house and filming originally took place in Quick Hill (Austin), it was purchased and moved to Kingsland back in 1998.  It was a restaurant for a time, but I believe it now sits empty waiting for a buyer.  Anyway, when I finally turned 18 I had a hard time mustering up the nerve to watch the film, not because I was afraid of what I might see, but because my mother was so adamant about avoiding it.  She had the opportunity to see the flick in the theater when it was first released and it basically traumatized her.  In reverence to my mom I waited until I was in my late 20s to finally catch the film and somehow it managed to live up to my exceedingly high expectations and I really do consider it one of my all-time favorite horror films.  I’m sure while I’m there I’d swing past my old house in Austin as well, but this would be the star of the lone star stop on this trip for sure…

The next official stop on this whirlwind road trip across the country would be in a very picturesque town in one of the most visited film locations in the country, the Warner Brothers back lot in Burbank, California.  On the lot there’s an outdoor filming town called Midwest Street where so many of my favorite films were at least partially made including Gremlins, Back to the Future, The Lost Boys and The Monster Squad.  Specifically, there is a church on this street that was featured prominently in The Monster Squad and The Lost Boys that I would love to visit.  Maybe fill up a canteen of “holy” water, or at least stand outside and kick the door a few times, cursing it for being closed when I’d really like to go inside and hide while trying to blow a hole in Limbo…

church

I’m sure I’d find a bunch of awesome stuff to see on the back lot, but I think the church represents the site the most in my mind…

After yelling at myself to not kick a church (because it’s religious and stuff), I’d make my way north, up to the great costal wood of Astoria, Oregon to visit the second and final house on the trip, the Walsh family home from the Goonies

goonies

I’m sure this one, and the area as a whole, will quite possibly make a lot of these Road Trip lists, but I can’t help it.  The Goonies is probably one of the most important movies to me as a nostalgic 30-something and at some point I’d love the chance to gaze on this landmark.  I’m sure I’d also take the opportunity to break out a dirt bike and ride down to the spot where the convenience store was, as well as the jail and the beach so I could pull out my replica Spanish medallion to line up the rocks, but getting a few seconds to take a gander at the Walsh house is what would really make it feel real to me.

After misting up and wiping back some happy tears, I’d finally take the opportunity to leave this fine country and head up to Alberta, Canada, specifically Cochrane, so that I could visit another holy movie site, the high school that was used in the film Rad.

rad

This stop would be all about finding a way to break into the school gymnasium so that I could do a little bit of solo BMX bike dancing while listing to Real Life’s Send Me an Angel on my iPod.  I’ll just need a few minutes alone, mostly because I’m no freestyler on a bike, but this would be just for me…

While in Canada I would be remiss if I didn’t take the opportunity to drive across the great country, seeing the majestic sites, eating some Tim horton’s doughnuts and eventually making my way back across the continent to Toronto so that I could take a kick ass site seeing tour of all the prominent Kids in the Hall filming locations (as well as some other historical KITH sites.)

kids

The Kids in the Hall are for me what Monty Python was to the generation before, single-handedly warping my mind and opening my eyes to a whole comedic world that astounds me to this day.  Dave, Bruce, Kevin, Mark and Scott all qualify for sainthood in my book, and I’d love to belly up to Buddy’s bar, walk down the street where the “good looking slick dude” strolled, or see the famous Rivoli where they got their start.

Since I started the trip with some intense horror, I thought it would be only fitting to end it on the “other” landmark of the genre, the Monroeville Mall in Pittsburgh, PA…

dawn

Easily considered horror Mecca, this mall is of course home to the filming of the great George A. Romero film, Dawn of the Dead.  What can I really say other than I’d love the opportunity to make a couple laps through this place, pantomiming zombie pie fights and pretending that there’s a living dead Hare Krishna stumbling along behind me the whole time.  My only regret would be that I wouldn’t be able to leave by helicopter from the roof.

Well, there it is.  I’m sure there are a million other places I’d like to go, but this itinerary would go a long way to knocking stuff off the bucket list and it just makes sense to me.

If you have a second, you should check out these other League members and their pop culture road trips!

Jamie, Shezcrafti, fires up the Mirth Mobile and sets out on adventure!

Mr. R, The Man Who Stares at Toys, sticks to the coasts and looking for zombies and famous California dining establishments!

Jason, Rediscover the 80s, revs up the Family Truckster and covers most of the east coast and some of the midwest!

Brian, Cool & Collected, goes on a pop culture shopping spree across the nation!

Brother Midnight, Green Plastic Squirtgun, keeps his trip small, but fully packed with sights!

All I can say about this week’s assignment from the League is, well, I Don’t Know!

It’s been a few weeks since I was on the ball enough to participate in a League Assignment, but this week’s topic was too broad to pass up.  Brian over at Cool & Collected gave us one simple word.  Green.  I wracked my brain and all I could think of was, well, I Don’t Know!

So without further to do, here are eleven of my favorite You Can’t Do That on Television cast members getting slimed!

Moose and Kevin

moose  kevin

Alasdair and Lisa

alasdair  lisa

Vanessa and Adam

vanessa  adam

Doug and Justin

doug  justin

Matthew and Stephanie

matthew  stephanie

And of course this list would never be complete without Les Lye as Ross…

ross

I was a little bummed that I couldn’t find a screen shot of Abby (the Mom, Librarian, all the adult women, etc.), but know that she’s getting slimed in my head right now…

If you have a second, check out these other League members for their take on being Green…

Paxton, Cavalcade of Awesome, shows us his green and fizzy side!

Jaime, Shezcrafti, breaks out the Turtle Wax and gets bodacious!

TL, Flashlights are Something to Eat, puts on a record and get’s grouchy and mean about green jeans!

Reis, The Dork Horde, gets artsy with some independent zombies!

Brother Midnight, Green Plastic Squirtgun, lets the monsters out to play!

Brian, Cool & Collected, doesn’t think you’ll like him when he’s angry!