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Who is Navin Johnson?

August 1, 2013

When I get famous someday . . . . what?  How?  Well, naturally through my invention of the first hybridized winged unicorn, “Rainbow Horny Wings,” which Mattel stole from me decades ago.  You know, after I sue Mattel for the royalty fees and then finally get the worldwide credit I damn well deserve . . . what were we talking about?

When I get famous someday, I always imagine my first interview will start out something like Navin Johnson’s first interview after his invention of the Opti-Grab.


“Who is Navin Johnson?”

You know, Navin Johnson?  You know, The Jerk?  If you don’t, then I’ll forgive you.  But then, you know, Steve Martin?  (But if you don’t, or if you ask, “Father of the Bride?” then our relationship must end now.)  You know, one eyebrow raised, staring smugly into the camera, where I’ll so boldly, publicly contemplate my own existentialism.  “Who is Angie Z.?”

And then I’ll really be somebody.


But if that never happens, fortunately I already have my exclusive interview in the bag.

Over yonder at the fantastic humor blog She’s A Maineiac, Darla, one of the greatest people I know that I’ve never actually met before, featured me as her blogger of the month!   And, as such, I participated in her monthly interview, Firsts and Lasts!  Check it out here.

Because, just like Navin, I really am somebody.


Disco may be dead, but I’ll be damned if it sucked.

July 8, 2013

Remember back in the good ol’ days when we all thought disco wouldn’t die?

You know, like an incessant whiny housefly you’ve swatted at twenty times — and yet it keeps on doing the Hustle?

Disco Sucks More

Very moving. I’ve never felt quite this passionate about anything.

And then, perhaps all too soon, the Last Dance was actually the last.  And the sun went down on KC’s Sunshine Band.  And Studio 54 ran out of coke.

Maybe disco didn’t suck.  Maybe it was just horribly misunderstood.

This blog kind of died too.  But I’ll be damned if it sucked.

I’ve been away a long time.  And I didn’t even have the courtesy to leave a note or call to tell you my plans.  Not even those made-up kinds, like I’m just staying the night at Christy’s house tonight and, yes, I promise her parents are there.

Nothing.  How irresponsible of me.

WordPress declared my blog dead too.

July 1st marked my blog’s 2-year anniversary.  Woohoo!

To celebrate, after 18 months of living high on the blog-hog, WordPress stripped me from its short list of Recommended Humor Blogs.


Thank you for once loving me WordPress. The way we were . . .

That hurt, WordPress.  That hurt bad.

And then I returned to my blog this week, after a two and a half month leave of absence, and the windows were all boarded up.  My newspapers were piled in the front lawn, my screen door was stuffed with sales flyers, and squatters were hanging out giving time-share presentations to whoever stopped by.

Not the kind of homecoming I expected.

Well, speaking of squatters, if you want to know the truth of why this blog fell apart, it’s this.  Earlier this year, a little thing called pregnancy happened.

And the little womb squatter I’m now supporting is likely not getting out until he’s good and ready.  Which will be a while.

I forgive that he’s cramped my blogging style.

But I might not forgive him for the other styles he’s cramped.

Preggie Fergie

Shuuuut up. The hat adds 10 pounds.

Like how I now find stretchy polyester to be the best invention since Fruity Pebbles.  And how I’ve surmised that housecoats really can be both practical and fun.

But while I haven’t been blogging lately, I also haven’t been cleaning the cat litterbox.  So I’ve got that going for me.

I don’t know where I’ll go from here with my blogging.  It feels like this might be the end, my dear flashback friends.  Especially when I try to envision balancing a baby on my boob, while I burn the midnight oil to upload inane images like this one:

Disco Sucks Too

Which probably would look exactly like this . . .

Madonna Child

. . . only, in my version, Mary is at her laptop searching for an obscure Billy Ocean video and screaming profanities.

But on the other hand, this blog means way too much to me to want to give it up.

Don’t give up on me just yet.  Right now I’m mulling over the future of my writing — and pondering what things will look like down the road.  Like whether my butt will stay this way.  And how I hope he has hair this time — but not on his back.

And after all, even Twinkies are now making a comeback!  Hip, hip, hooray!

And I heard this song on the radio just yesterday!  And I didn’t even hate it!

Although, I was obviously wearing something like this at the time . . .

muumuu 2

. . . so that probably skewed my thinking.

To be continued?


My Favorite TV Sidekicks

April 29, 2013

Square PegsLately I’ve been thinking a lot about the unsung TV sidekicks of my childhood.

Yeah, sidekicks — you know, like the partners in crime, the partners in fighting crime, the “not marquee enough to steal the show” guy, the “not pretty enough to get the guy” girl, the whipping boy, the supporting role, the court jester and the like.  I love sidekicks.

Maybe because they never get the glory.

Maybe because my heart bleeds for underdogs.

Maybe because I’ve always been the sidekick.

It’s true.  And I know that probably comes as a heart-stopping shock to your system.  Like you totally thought I had enough charm going for me that I couldn’t possibly be the impish character providing the sympathetic audience guffaw, didn’t you?

But then you’re probably forgetting that I didn’t look like this:

Punky Brewster

So much as this:


Here are a few of my favorite TV sidekicks.

Squiggy (Laverne & Shirley).  Squiggy was like an unneutered Jack Russell dog bathed in pomade.   He made even Lenny look good.  Even Backseat Laverne wouldn’t have him.  Hell, Shirley found even the Big Ragu more appealing.  Yet how could you not feel sorry for this little guy and want to adopt him and take him home from the shelter?  After he’s been dewormed.

Laverne & Shirley: David L. Lander Image Source: Paramount Home Entertainment

Al (Quantum Leap).  In the face of uncertainty that comes with time-travel, Al always made me feel safe, like good things would happen if we only found our way into the future, all the while wearing crap like this:


And this:


Oh boy.

Velma (Scooby-Doo).  While Shaggy and Scooby were off getting high and Fred and Daphne were off getting pregnant, you could always count on the smart, loyal, practical Velma to keep her head about her and meddle her way into cracking the case, all the while wearing crap like this:

Velma 2

And this:

Velma 3


Boner (Growing Pains).  The fact that he was so naive, so nonthreatening, so lame and asexual that he made the network censors completely forget how the word “boner” translated to the show’s teenage fans is nothing short of a Christmas miracle!


Natalie & Tootie (The Facts of Life).  Was Natalie a sidekick to Tootie or was Tootie a sidekick to Natalie?  And does their dual-sidekick status somehow cancel out that they were sidekicks to everyone else on the show, including Mrs. Garrett?  Could they be some type of super-sidekick duo, thereby making them more powerful than Blair?  I cannot begin to work through that mind-bending conundrum for you today.

Facts of Life

Derek (Silver Spoons).  Derek was the first bad boy I ever loved.  And even though he’s an unconventional choice, I thought I’d throw him on my list as a sort of tribute to my good pal Jason Bateman and the other unappreciated, overlooked sidekicks everywhere.  Who’s the sidekick now, huh, Ricky?

Derek Silver Spoons

Other famous sidekicks who almost made my list:  Kimmy Gibbler, Cousin Oliver, Mr. McFeely, Barney Rubble, George W. Bush and Balki Bartokomous.

*** Who’s your favorite TV sidekick? ***

Toy Tuesday: Monchhichi (Oh So Soft & Cuddly)

April 9, 2013

It so happens I had one of these furry flea-bitten spider monkey dolls.


I’m not proud of it.

If you’ve been with me for a while, you’ll already know how I feel about monkeys.  You’ll know I have a long history of being repulsed by monkeys.

Whether this kind.

Scary Monkey

Or this kind.

Flying Monkey

You name it.

cymbal monkey

And then you might wonder why I owned a Monchhichi.

You might wonder why any kid would own a Monchhichi.

I can easily explain.

They have these holes in their heads.  In which you can stick their thumbs.  Or sometimes a peeled banana.  I saw a knock-off Monchhichi with a peeled banana in its hand that could fit inside its mouth and/or ear, and that seemed sanitary enough.  As opposed to its fingers which . . . aren’t.

So back to the holes.  We all know how kids like to stick random junk drawer items — pennies, jawbreakers, pipe cleaners, what have you —  into their own bodily orifices as if their orifices are simply handy hidden pockets.  Then, inevitably, the items get stuck and have to be removed with tweezers or through surgical means.

This is fact.

I know a kid who stuck beads up her nose until it bled and she had to go to the hospital.  I once tried to fit a Chiclet inside my belly button.  My neighbor used his mouth to carry around his Smurf collection.  We’ll say upper quadrant out of respect for the Smurfs.

Mattel is an evil empire and they know just what makes kids tick (and pick and lick for that matter).

Monkeys are not much different than children, am I right?  They’re filthy little creatures who stick things in their orifices, play with their feces and eat lice off their pals’ shoulders.  Which is a lot like monkeys.

Enter Monchhichi.  Finally a doll children can relate to.  My former kid-self included.


Need more information?  Doing a report on monkeys soon?  Wondering how to spot the signs that a monkey has stuck its fingers into your favorite box of chocolates?  Check out the post I wrote on Curious George, the most vile creature of them all.

And enjoy this clip for daily flashback purposes.

Monchhichi, wherever you are, I raise my glass of Tang to you.


Toy Tuesday: Mighty Men & Monster Maker

March 26, 2013

I’ve recently returned home from a long family vacation.  We had a great time — despite that Bobby uncovered a cursed tiki idol that created quite the pickle for us.

Oh, and Greg caught syphilis.  Again.  Stupid tiki.


Feeling way behind in my work around here, I was thrilled when Heather from the deliciously witty blog Becoming Cliche offered to do my homework for me.  Which in the blogging world is what we call “a guest post.”

So please give a warm welcome to Heather (aka The Turtle Whisperer) — in the form of comments, confessions, Pop Rocks, denim scrunchies, etc.  And please check out Heather’s blog — which the WordPress gods feature on their short list of recommended humor blogs.  And you don’t want to upset the gods, what with what happened to Greg and all.



You may recognize this snowman as Heather.

Of Mice and Mighty Men

As a child  I was an average artist, and it broke my heart.  When I heard people complaining that they were so lacking in artistic ability that they could not draw a stick figure, I envied.  I could draw stick figures just fine, thank you.  And produce little begging puppy dogs by the pack.  And draw rainbows without a compass.  But that was my limit, and it hurt me.  I was blessed with a vivid imagination and cursed with the inability to portray my imaginings accurately on paper.  With every rainbow, my heart bled a little.  Until one day.

Was it birthday or Christmas or just because?  I haven’t the faintest clue.  I don’t even remember the actual unwrapping and receiving of it.  I just recall the sense that all was suddenly right with the world.  There may have also been a touch of smugness.  After all, this toy was advertised during Saturday morning cartoons.  That’s prime time, people!  Everyone wanted it.  And I had it.  I, the uncool kid, was suddenly the envy of all my imaginary friends.  My mom had purchased me the Mighty Men and Monster Maker kit.

If you are unfamiliar with this toy, you have my pity let me explain.  Sadly, it didn’t create actual monsters, just pictures.  The kit came with 18 etched plates.  To create a monster picture, the budding artist chose three plates, one head, one trunk, and one pair of legs.  Want a mummy head with a superhero torso and lizard tail?  You could make it!   Since the plates were reversible, the number of monsters and heroes a kid with a pile of paper and half an hour to kill bordered on infinite.  Once the three plates were placed in the holder and a piece of paper was inserted over the top, the image was produced by rubbing a purple crayon over the top of the paper, kind of like a grave rubbing.

It was a thing of beauty.  For the first time in my life, I was able to put down on paper what was in my heart.  Looking back, maybe that particular thought is a little alarming considering I primarily created the undead, but I prefer to think of my younger self as pre-emo.  I didn’t need to wear black eye liner or mope about.  I had the coolest toy in the universe and some mad scientist skilz with a purple crayon.

What, you think it didn’t take skill?  Clearly you have never used a Monster Maker or Tomy’s more mainstream equivalent, the Fashion Plate.  Like a diamond, it takes just the right amount of pressure to create this thing of beauty.  Too little, and there’s no monster at all, too much and you’re dealing with giant purple smudges all over the paper.  And let’s not forget the coloring. Each monster had to be hand colored with colored pencils!  Not crayons, you understand.  Crayons are for babies, and this toy ain’t for babies.  I colored those things all up!  And I stayed in the lines every, single time.  I told you I was good.

So where is this toy now, you ask?  This toy that launched me to the very height of coolness?  Good question.  One day my magic gadget was just gone. *poof*  I have ever since been deprived of the ability to express myself through art.  I think that’s what forced me to become a writer.


Toy Tuesday: Spider-Man Ricochet Racer

March 5, 2013

I’m in a rush to do stuff, stuff that is much too boring to talk about here.

But I feared your Tuesday would feel dark and meaningless without a weekly dose of lead-laden, flashbackin’ toy goodness.

(This thing is not about me, friends — it’s about you.  I swear it.  I do it for you.)

Today:  Spider-Man Ricochet Racer

Soon I will be off on an annual cross-country trek to visit my dear ol’ brother, Tony.


We’re much better at pretending we like each other today.

You may already know Tony from his various cameo appearances here on Childhood Relived.

Over the past two years that he’s been featured on this blog, perhaps his best known roles have been . . .

“Kid with a Poopy Diaper and a Droopy Conscience,”


“Kid Who Wrapped Up a Live Spider for His Sister’s Birthday,”


and “Kid Who Made His Sister’s Face Look Like This for Most of the ’80s.”


Notably, he’s also known by someone somewhere as “Sweet Ninja.”  Which you may have read about here in my exclusive, dramatically revealing interview with Tony last fall, which blew the doors clean off this blog.

Today, in honor of the big guy, I’m spotlighting a very special chunk of plastic.

Sadly, it’s probably nothing you’d ever remember, but it’s definitely been certified as one of Tony’s favoritest mildly dangerous toys.

I had to dig deep, deeeeeeep, into my heap of useless memories to find a picture of this thing.   Tragically, the internets told me the world had forgotten it.

Searching “Spider-Man gun,” “Spider-Man toy that shot matchbox cars, Legos and Cheetos,” and “things that hit me in the head once” proved fruitless.

Finally, I stumbled upon it, almost by accident, in fact due to an accident, when I searched “signs of a past, undiagnosed concussion.”


Although, I’m still not 100% satisfied with the results.  While the shooter thingy is dead-on accurate, I’m thinking the Spidey shuttle pods were different?  Maybe more pointy?  Like a compass spike?

I’m fairly positive the Spideys were lost within days of their initial launch.  And were never heard from again.

I’m fairly certain my brother found comparable items to stuff in and shoot at me.

I’m fairly relieved that our darts wouldn’t fit.

Spider-Man Ricochet Racer, wherever you are, I raise my glass of Tang to you.


Toy Tuesday: Mod Hair Ken with Facial Hair

February 26, 2013

Here we are again.  It’s Toy Tuesday.  That special time of the week that occurs on Tuesday.  When I feature a toy.  And that’s why I call it Toy Tuesday.

ScaryKenToday:  Mod Hair Ken with Facial Hair

But first, let me revisit with you a couple painful subjects.

(1) The Blogging Blahs and (2) Rainbow Horny Wings.

Ahem, the Blogging Blahs.  I’ve had a pesky case of them for the past three months now.

I’ve lost the will to write.

Not a case of Writer’s Block, mind you.

Oh, no, no, no.  Nooooo.

No performance problems here.  My creative noggin is as virile as the Brawny Paper Towel guy.  And I’d like to talk more about my hulking, mustached beast of a creative noggin, but now it’s on its way to hammer up some drywall.  Later, nogs.

So I bring up the Blogging Blahs because these past two weeks since I introduced Toy Tuesday, you all have lifted me up with your love and enthusiasm for flashback toys!

Dare I say, I want to write again?  I think so.

You all are the wind beneath my Rainbow Horny Wings!

Rainbow Horny Wings of course being my top secret toy pitch to Mattel that consisted of a hybridized winged unicorn.  “Anatomically impossible!” said Mattel.

Nothing is impossible, my friends.  Nothing.

So my sincere thanks for reminding me why I have this blog.

To remember things that you’ve forgotten.

And to remind the world that I invented the winged unicorn.

Today I’m reminded of a toy I don’t remember.  I remember playing with it.  Sooooort of.  But I don’t remember where.  Because I personally didn’t own this fine specimen of plastic testosterone.  So whether I played with it at a friend’s house or stumbled upon it in the hepatitis box in my doctor’s waiting room, I just don’t know.

Where have you been all my life, creepy man of a thousand disguises?

Where have you been all my life, creepy man of a thousand disguises?

But I know I played with it.  Him.  I played with him.  I played with Ken.  Oh my, yes I did — wink, wink, hubba-hubba, if you catch my drift, which you shouldn’t even bother to catch because I lack all imagination in that department.

You might be a little disgusted when I tell you that I remember the plushy feel of his Coloforms-style punch-out facial hair.

It wasn’t bristly.  It was soft, velvety and never rough against my skin.  Which was too bad since I needed it to itch my chicken pox.


Made from recycled AstroTurf from the Brady family’s back yard.

And if you think those scraps of facial hair were adhered only to his upper quadrant, you must think children are made of rose petals and smell of cinnamon with nary a snotty booger stuck to their bedposts.

And then you probably also believe this is Greg Brady’s friend Phil Packer.


And not just Peter in a Mod Hair Ken mustache.

Is it getting hot in here now?  Well it’s about to get hotter.

You think you know a person like Mod Hair Ken.

But you don’t ever really know anyone, do you.

Until you strip off the illusion — in this case, a polyester leisure suit — to unveil the truth.

Brace yourself.



It’s okay, Mod Hair Ken.


A lot of men have this.

Nothing to be ashamed of.

Perfectly normal.

Nothing that a couple of sideburns and a Fu Manchu patch can’t hide.

Mod Hair Ken, wherever you are, I raise my glass of Tang to you.



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