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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
HE HAS A DICKIE.
It’s okay, Mod Hair Ken.
A lot of men have this.
Nothing to be ashamed of.
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.
Last week I kicked off a new sometimes-weekly segment where I will flashback-up a toy from the era of my childhood.
And I so creatively call it — Toy Tuesday. Read here if you missed out on the kickoff celebration that might have included free pairs of Romper Stompers for every man, woman and child or actually just a print-yourself poster of Russell Crowe wearing white suspenders.
Today I’m honoring the simple wonder that is the View-Master.
The View-Master was magical! Here’s how it worked. You stuck a round card of tiny slides into the View-Master. You looked through it. You saw a picture. Then you clicked the lever. And then you saw — get this — another picture. And another — it just kept going! Forever. That’s the beauty that is a circle. It never ends. Amen.
Our View-Master was among the usual suspects of toys that ended up lying in the corner of the basement next to the toy box. These were the toys flung out in search of other toys.
Sadly, I can remember only two of the reels we had for our View-Master. The rest were probably lost, damaged or confiscated after being fashioned into Chinese throwing stars. In fact, all of them were fashioned into Chinese throwing stars, which is why they became lost or damaged.
One reel we owned was some kind of directory of the wild animals of Africa. Perhaps a lion. Maybe a gazelle. I seem to recall a zebra hiding in some tall grass. No, I think now it was the wild animals of North America. Yes, that’s right. Perhaps a mountain lion. Maybe a deer. I seem to recall a moose hiding in some tall grass. Okay so I don’t exactly recall what animals I saw. But I am 100% certain about the tall grass.
The other View-Master reel I remember contained scenes from Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Which is why I never had to visit Disneyland as a kid. I had the View-Master slides, you see. My parents were really thoughtful.
View-Master, wherever you are, I raise my glass of Tang to you.
Pretty snappy, right?
Eight other names I came up with for the segment that did not make the cut:
(1) Totally Tubular Toy Tuesday:
(2) Toys Were Us Tuesday:
(3) Throwback Toy Tuesday/Thursday (Depending on What I Have on My Schedule on Tuesday or Thursday):
(4) Remember That One Thing? Tuesday:
(5) Slightly More Fun Than Sticks and Rocks Tuesday:
(6) When Lead Was Fun Tuesday:
(7) Toys That Almost Killed Us Tuesday:
(8) It’s Tuesday:
But there’s more! I will also be taking your input on toys to feature in future segments. See that adorable bite-sized comment box way down below? If it so moves you, please leave a suggested toy feature right there. Or drop me an email at email@example.com.
If I pick your toy idea to feature, I’ll be sure to give you a special shout-out.
But I will not give you a toy. Repeat. I will not give you a toy.
Today I’m featuring one of my favorite old toys — Romper Stompers.
What’s that, you ask?
Yes, that’s right — Romper Stompers.
I know, you probably didn’t even know they were called Romper Stompers.
I personally knew them as “those plastic cup things that you walked about on during nursery school in order to appear taller and intimidate the biters.” And when I googled that, I learned they were called Romper Stompers.
Not to be confused with Romper Stomper:
Not to be confused with Romper Room:
Not to be confused with Romper Brat:
What I loved the most about Romper Stompers is how sometimes one foot (particularly if clad in a wooden-soled clog) would slip right off the front of the cup and sort of launch you to the linoleum floor — in the process, creating an entirely different type of toy. The hurty variety, if you will.
What I also loved about Romper Stompers is how the foot apparatus appeared to be, quite simply, plain old recycled Parkay margarine tubs, thereby allowing the toy company to capitalize on what children had already been doing for centuries — standing up on random stuff to reach something.
Romper Stompers, wherever you are, I raise my glass of Tang to you.
Dearest Readers, the video thingy at the end of this blog is an advertisement and not part of the content of Childhood Relived. These ads help off-set a small portion of the cost of the copious amount of coffee I drink, necessary for writing this blog.
Today: What the Reunited on Ice?
You may have noticed I’ve been slacking off with my blog lately. That is, if “lately” encompasses all of the past three months.
I will try to make it up to you today. Because today I have a magnificent What the Friday? double feature for you. That’s right, kids — not one but two WTF? videos. And it isn’t even your birthday. Or maybe it is. Happy birthday, maybe.
I know you’re on the edge of your seat with anticipation so let me just put you out of your misery. Today I have for you the 1982 commercial for Riunite wine and the 1978 performance of the Reunited love song.
Before I begin, let me give a shout out to the three people who made today’s blog post possible.
Thank you to Misty of the blog Misty’s Laws for calling my attention to the fact that today is National Day of Redundancy National Day. That day is today. Or maybe it was last month. Doesn’t matter. I will honor the day in my heart and try to keep it all the year.
Redundancy is the theme for this post about redundancy. More on that later.
Now it is later. This post is about redundancy.
Thank you also to Peg of the blog Peg-o-Leg’s Ramblings and Dave of the blog 1 Point Perspective for their tantalizing commentalooza about Riunite wine, which they so generously waged on my last WTF? post.
While these two WTF? videos may seem completely unrelated, they are so much the same.
In fact, I don’t know where the Riunite wine jingle ends and the Peaches and Herb Reunited song begins.
I can’t think of one without the other. I can’t think of either one without the other one. I can’t think. What?
I can’t think of reuniting without thinking of wine.
Both songs were musical scores that ran in the background of my ’80s childhood.
Both songs involve people.
Both are songs. And one is about a wine. And the other is about two people. Who might also drink wine.
And then one night in college while lying in my dorm room . . . studying, naturally . . . the song Reunited came on the radio.
And, for whatever reason, I was reminded of Riunite wine. And then I thought of the Riunite wine jingle. But I couldn’t really think of how the jingle went, what with the Reunited song playing on the radio and all. And that led me to some deep thinking about which was which and were they even different? Is Riunite the Italian word for reunited? Should I order a pizza? Should I drink more wine? It was all one big philosophical dilemma.
So I decided to sleep on it. And then I woke up with a headache. That’s how deeply I thought about it.
Riunite and it feels so good.
Reunited so nice, reunited on ice.
Today’s tangent was brought to you by booze.