Tag Archives: 80’s

WayBack Wednesday – Nuuttinnn?

This week’s installment of WbW is one of the reasons I started this information skit project dealie in the foist place.

Ok. Where do I begin?

Seriously. Holy crap, this is the goldmine of 80’s commercials. I am going to have to categorize this.

Setting: Pizzeria. Let’s look at the signs posted around: Week old pizza, half price. No Screaming. Be Patient, Meatball! Yeah Jimmy’s running on fumes as it is, but hey he makes the pizzas to order.

That brings me to the next part: The cast. Two old Italian guys. That in itself is a lost art around here. Back in the day it almost seemed as though pizzaguys were mentored into the trade, like locksmiths, tailors, or Jedi Knights. Closely monitored during their earliest years, and if there was something that the Masters could sense about the young lad, he was taken away to an isolated compound (not a Hut!), far away, complete with wood firing stoves. There they learned even saucing, flipping the dough, and how much cheese actually qualifies as ‘extra’.

These days, I walk into a pizza joint and it’s a bunch of guys doing specialized or non-skilled labor: one makes pizzas, one tosses em in/pulls em out of the oven, another slices and hands ‘em out to you, another rings you up, oh yeah and one guy slinging sodas. Consider also that you’ll most often see that scenario in the .99 cents pizza places (pizza usually runs 2.50 -2.75 a slice) which are popping up all over NYC, Adam Smith would shit his knickers if he saw this. The worst economic model you’ve likely ever seen, which makes me wonder (being the advocate of lower profits on individual sales vs. higher volume) where they are cutting corners.

The kids:Leader kid in a leather jacket who’s just confident enough, but not quite a hoodlum-check. Girl with teased up hair and knitted sweater in some neon color and light Valley Girl airs– check. Nerdy guy with big glasses that are actually stylin’ for the time-check. Give them a couple more years and they are the cast for the latest Friday the 13th installment. Or Saved by the Bell. Same thing.

Zach Attack!

For some reason these kids want a pizza with extra cheese, but no tomato sauce (‘white pizzas’ do exist) but he flips the script a little more, BAM! No crust. These kids are ahead of their time, since gluten free is all the rage now that they invented an allergy to it, and even a few years ago these young upstarts could have claimed they were doing Atkins. So technically this commercial is still relevant. I wonder if Hollywood will remake this…

The order has been placed, the challenge voiced, the gauntlet thrown down, so Fred want Jimmy to make a cheese with nuttin’. “Nuuttttinnn?” You know you used to repeat it with your friends. Yes you did. Or at least now you will.

The Pitch– Polly-O String Cheese! In sticks! Individually wrapped! Stringy! Less cheese per package than a brick of mozzarella, but the same price! Now THAT would make Mr. Smith happy. I admit I had this packed in my lunch many times, forgoing any cheese in my sammich for this version. Dammit I love my mozz.

How does this turn out? Well Jimmy actually doesn’t make them a cheese wit nuttin; if he had, it would have been a pile of rapidly cooling mozzarella cheese, which does not congeal well when it cools, and not some pre-wrapped brand name cheeses. It really made no sense; where did the box appear from?

By the way, what’s with Jimmy (at about 19 seconds)? Does he go into a catatonic state when hit with this request, or did he reach Zen status? Consider that reaching your *ahem* peak usually involves some making weird faces, Jimmy may have had some Nirvana level big O going on.

Finally we get to ‘the best part of the pizza’ that is this commercial– The comments! “Bellissimo!” “Magnifique!” “Se se Bon” (or whatever). I have a story for this…
Years later: I am in Italian 1, Spring ’97. We are learning how to describe ‘good’ and ‘bad’ things. The professor mentions bella, and if the person/place/thing is even gooder than that, it is…Bellisimo.

Silence from everyone. I look around. Everyone’s eyes are giving it away. They know.

Suddenly hands rise and a student asks, “Aren’t there other words to describe. I mean manifique or something…” the professor moves to intervene, but not fast enough.

“Whatever,” another student blurts out, “I just wanna know what’s SE SE BON!”
The room erupts with laughter as the professor joins in knowingly “Yes, they…they just threw words in there, it’s not Italian at all.” Further proof that the 80’s made an impact that lives on in our hearts and minds, and could be referred to at any time for laughs.

Final Word: The best part of the pizza is the end crust!

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Filed under Creative Writing, Humor, Retro, Wayback wednesday

WayBack Wednesday – The Ice Cream Man

Today’s Wayback Wednesday has been pre-empted. Well sort of. I have the blog planned, and it is an 80’s clip preciously dug up from YouTube, but as I was searching around I came across a video clip, and it brought me back to summers while growing up. So inspiration grabbed me and I built on it.

I’m posting it first, but I would recommend reading the story first, then watching. It will be worth it, I promise ;).

When I was younger, I lived in a section of Brooklyn that was a complex of tall apartment buildings. It was large, more populated than some national cities, but there were common place, people and other fixtures of the community. One of those people was “Johnny the Ice Cream Man”. He drove a white pickup with the frayed, faded pictures of various ice creams scattered along the refrigerated truck. You’d hear the ‘jingle jingle jingle’ of the row of small bronze bells on the top of the windshield that he pulled as he parked down the loop I lived near. My mom gave my sister and I enough for an ice cream each when she knew we’d be out when he came around. I varied what I would get each time, but “Bubble-O Bill” was a favorite, as it was ice cream with a big gumball nose. That, or an ‘Italian ice’ in a yellow cardboard box; which you always let soften a bit so you could flip it over and scrape off the settled ‘flavor’ on the bottom.

That's about as close actual fruit will come to those ices.

He always knew, without looking, if he had what you asked for, and where it was. The only openings were two small latched doors, and he would duck his head in, sometimes up to his waist, looking for ice cream, and emerge with your treat.

Johnny was about average height, and skinny, always wearing brown pants and a blue shirt. He was balding with white/gray wisps of hair from a comb-over covering his scalp blowing in the breeze. His exposed skin (arms and face) was dark, the tone that older Italian men get when they spend all day in the sun for years. When you paid him, he’d give you your change ‘chink chink’ from the coin slot machine he had attached to his belt.

If you bought an Italian ice, and wanted one of those flat wood spoons, you’d go to the passenger seat of his car where an old man, undoubtedly his father, would give it to you, as well as these little pink candies wrapped in opaque plastic. They weren’t flavorful, had the consistency somewhere between gum and regular candy, and were always ice cold, but you took one anyway. It was free, and the old man liked doing something.

He had a good portion of the ice cream route in our community, and did rounds several times a day from late spring to early fall. I’m positive he was the first ‘owner’ of that route, as the community was built in the 70’s (I grew up in the 80’s), and I can imagine he made a good return on the investment. Even in his old age he wouldn’t quit it; he’d work until he went to his grave, probably just like his old man. I could see it on Johnny’s face already in his late 30’s early 40’s; that tired, non-smiling, but still friendly way in which he worked.

Some years later he got a new truck, a black pickup, but kept the refrigerated section, which now contrasted in color and age. I had stopped getting ice cream for a while by then, but one summer afternoon after I graduated high school, I saw him coming down the loop of the section I had been hanging out in with some friends. He was by himself this time, but physically, he looked the same, just maybe 10 years older. By this time he had sodas as well, so I bought a Clearly Canadian Black Cherry clear soda from him (Damn I still remember that like it just happened). He gave me a nod, I thought maybe I saw the recognition flicker in his eyes, but I didn’t pursue it.

So seeing that video brought me back. It looks like he went bald by that time, and went through yet another truck. You see how he greeted the person taking the video; just remembering names and such brought grown men back to their childhood again, with bragging rights on how long they knew him.

At 26 seconds you see it. When I did, it was like a time warp. Later you’ll see his hand go to his waist for the change dispenser. I’d bet that it was the same one.

I checked around, found out he died in July 2009.

Thanks Johnny, for all that ice cream and for the memories that won’t melt.


Filed under Creative Writing, Day In the Life, Life, Retro, Uncategorized, Wayback wednesday

Musical Memories (Scintilla Project)

One of today’s themes is about a song that brings back a memory or a moment when you heard it.

While I will go to the 80’s any time I need good music, I do not equate them with any particular moment/memories; maybe sitting around my bedroom with a stack of cassettes, or a ride in the car, wherever we were going. The opening chords of “Welcome to the Jungle”. Rick Astley (the first time around). George Michael wanting your sex (yes YOURS!). Even though I look back on it oh so fondly, does it mean that it was a better time? No, the world had terrorism, political scandals, famine, and a nuclear power plant exploding back then too. But hey, we had a great soundtrack to it.

The Ozone layer never stood a chance.

As I reached adulthood in the 90’s, any hit song from that decade gets me nostalgic; even the ones I couldn’t stand. Like that song by Blind Melon that nobody cares about; just that “The Bee Girl” is in it. I heard it the other day and it’s still…wait for it…buzzing in my head. Searching the internet about that gal I learned a few things;

  • She got cute
  • She inspired more awkward teen girls than Baby and Laura Ingalls, combined.
  • People still dress like her for Halloween

None of which I can brag about accomplishing (I have ALWAYS been cute).

Even during that phase in college when I looked like Ace Ventura.

Then there is Faith No More’s “Epic”. This is from the time at the strip club many moons ago, when the next girl up asked if we had any (musical) requests; we wanted metal! So she indulged us with Metallica, then FMN. “You want it all but you can’t have it/It’s in your face but you can’t grab it”. Consider the moment – have there ever been more fitting lyrics?

These days, anything that is popular is due to it being awesomely awesome (very rare) or awesomely bad (daily basis). A Friday cannot go by without Rebecca Black’s song banging through my head. The “Climbin through yo’ window” rap/newscast song has made me paranoid about locking my windows. And my constant fear that anyone from the cast of Jersey Shore will make a music album.


Filed under Creative Writing, General Nerdliness, Humor, Life, Music, Retro

WayBack Wednesday – ICS

So in order to keep my momentum going or at least set some sort of schedule, I present… Wayback Wednesday! I’ll post a video, picture or story about something from the wonderful time of the 80’s because there simply aren’t enough blogs posts on the internet about the era.

We’re gonna hit the ground running with this video/commercial from the 80’s/early 90’s..for International Correrespondence School.

When I came across this clip, just by bouncing around YouTube, it brought back a flood of memories. Mainly that of me taunting, trolling and generally razzing Sally Struthers. It began almost as a knee jerk reaction when commercial popped on, her frazzled visage filling the screen, asking us in that quavering voice, “Do you want to make more money, of course we all do!” It annoyed the hell out of me that she assumed we did, and did not even give us the chance to consider our options. I mean as a kid, I had the idea that a good job that paid a lot of money was a good thing; these days I would take the more pragmatic approach that I would rather have a job that made me feel happy and used all of my talents and skills. Like being a Jedi Knight who also did photography for Victoria’s Secret. Then again, more money means the same now as it did back then –“more money means I can buy more video games and toys!”

So I would mockingly retort “No!” loudly at her, even though she was already yapping on about the mail-order school. I did it every time, and I always got a guffaw from myself for it. I think my sister would tell me to shut up, because God I’m such an idiot. Apparently.

Next Ms. Struthers would start listing the courses. This is where the fun begins.

TV/VCR repair – Looking at this again, I was going to laugh, but then I put it into 80’s context. These days, when the $20 DVD player that you stomped over 5 grannies to get at the Wal-Mart doorbusters deal stops working, well you just toss it out (in the recycle bin, of course). However, back in the day, VCR and BETA movie players were big, clunky and they were damn expensive, normally running several hundred bucks! If a VCR broke down (and they did of course; I think the FBI released a statement back then that somewhere/anywhere in the United States a VCR broke every 15 seconds) so of course we need well-trained qualified repairman to fix ‘em! ICS would get you that training!

Learning the Personal/Small Computer- Now keep in mind when they say ‘small’ they’re not talking about MacBook Airs; they mean small as compared to the big ass ‘supercomputers’ you see in 1950’s educations reel-to-reels. Ones that filled entire rooms, and that was just the ones that you punched in with (do you know what ‘punching in’ is?). Later in the commercial, you get a hint of what you might get (at no additional cost) if you sign up for this subject, but computer programming in those days meant thousands of lines of code to make squiggly dots move across your screen. If you didn’t make a single mistake in that code. Which you would.

Interior Decorating- since no salesman will visit you to assess your lovely hovel, for admission you have to send a picture of your living room or some other space. They mail you some cans of paint and a set of curtains, switch up your space and mail ‘em back an after photo.

My absolute favorite topics though, include Gun Repair, which made me wonder what kind of materials ICS sent to you, in order to help you learn. For a final exam or whatever, did they send you a broken hunting rifle and say, “Ok fix this!” Well, then what? Let’s face it, you’re dealing with a population that is out of work, watching tv, and lacking skills to get a good job/salary. I’ve got an idea — let’s mail ‘em GUNS! What could possibly go wrong?!

Your professor has a stict policy on plagarism.

Same with Veterinary Medicine; do they mail you a sick kitty or puppy that you have to nurse back to health, only to demand you mail it back for analysis or you don’t get a grade? That one always goes over well with the kids.

What gets me the most though is that she says “Have your pencil ready” TWICE, like some schoolmarm talking to us like we are five, assuming we ain’t afford no pens in our house. I’m surprised she didn’t get specific, like “have a #2 pencil with a good eraser handy”, like my teacher did when we would take the ‘Citywide Exams’.

There is a new version of the commercial/company that has a new name and is completely online and actually seems sketchier than the University of Phoenix, if that is possible. One of their courses (they partially updated course topics from the above, but Blu-Ray Player Repair is not a major, sorry to get your hopes up), is Private Investigator, which is supplemented by a clip of a guy taking pictures of someone; so if you are a wanna-be Sam Spade or are a creeper enthusiast, here’s a way to make a little extra side cash.

Of course the idea of remote learning is a huge ‘business’ (or educational opportunity as they would call it) now, with many institutions offering courses and degrees, but this was where it started!


Filed under General Nerdliness, Humor, Retro, Uncategorized