All I Wanna Do is Chat Pop Culture with You!

Listen team, I’m going to put something out there and ask you all to hold me accountable. I have a tendency to decide to make MAJOR life decisions right around the New Year. So come December when I get the urge to shake up my life again, I’m going to write a blog post and you’re going to tell me to cool my jets. I’ll explain more later, but basically I’m not free on Saturdays right now. 

Saturdays are frequently when I queue up my posts. (So you know all of those times where I say “Today, I decided to…” well that “today” was usually like a Saturday or basically any other time than when I actually scheduled the post. Yes, sorry, I have been LYING to you about time for years. But time is a flat circle anyway, right?

I promise more very special episodes are on the horizon, but for now I thought I’d offer you a few more options from deep within the files of my laptop. I know what you’re thinking, and no, I’m not talking about a slideshow depicting the history of Joey Lawrence’s hair. Let me explain. 

A year ago, I took a writing class from the lovely Lisa Jakub. It was a memoir writing class, and I somehow decided that taking the class would inspire me to write a memoir. (This was an incorrect assumption.)

Instead, I  learned a very expensive lesson and discovered once and for all that nothing makes my heart flutter like writing about Pop Culture. Suffice it to say that this does NOT create an adequate through-line for a book. As it turns out, the many incarnations of Prince’s public persona is not what one might refer to as an “organizing principle.” 

While Lisa was a lovely and encouraging coach, I would not recommend taking a memoir writing class unless you have already figured out some kind of legitimate idea for a memoir. But that brings me back to my current point. I’ve written a lot of personal essays about life and Pop Culture. SO if you’re pumped to hear about the time I snubbed Billy Dee Williams, a poignant recollection on nostalgia through the lens of Andy Gibb’s hair, and my breakup mixtape then stay tuned!

If you’re bummed that you will have to wait several weeks to get additional pro-tips on how to avoid drug dealers who look like backup singers for The Jacksons*, then here is a handy list of some of my favorites to tide you over until I can binge watch television again:

 

*this guy.

 

WTF, Barbie, That’s Jem’s Thing

I do not even know where to start with this. As you well know, the world is cray these days. As if Jem’s branded weren’t affronted enough with a movie that never should have existed, now Mattel has gone and created “Hello Barbie Hologram.”

So Barbie thinks she’s entitled to a little Synergy, huh?

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This new toy is literally a hologram that lives in a tiny pink box, so little girls can ask her what the weather in Malibu is like…and she can also dance and change her outfits…and remember birthdays…because well what else would little girls want?

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Happy Days: Guess Who’s Coming to Christmas

Merry Christmas Eve, Very Special Readers! I will keep things short today with this sweet little episode from Happy Days‘s first season.

Howard Cunningham has some VERY serious Christmas rules. No one can be in the house except for family and no one can start trimming the tree until he is ready. He freaks out when he thinks someone has tried to start decorating without him, but it turns out that it’s just a rogue sock from a laundry basket.

In a rare appearance, we see Chuck Cunningham as the sock’s owner. But it’s like they were already writing him out:

I forgot that Howard Cunningham owned a hardware store. He and Richie are at the store’s holiday party (where an employee is so drunk he literally passes out. Woah, Happy Days!) Sadly, Howard’s car breaks down on the way home. But on the bright side, Fonzie is still at the shop and can fix it for them. Fonzie won’t let him pay for the job since it’s Christmas. As they head home, Richie realizes he forgot to give Fonzie his present (a three-in-one wrench). He heads back to give Fonzie the gift and sees him eating Christmas dinner alone. Richie doesn’t want to embarrass Fonzie, so he turns back to the car without giving him the gift.

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Richie tries to tell his dad when he gets back in the car, but Howard is SOOO excited for family time that he doesn’t tell his dad about Fonzie until the get home. Howard is still reluctant because it’s “family time,” but he realizes what an ass he sounds like as he lectures his family on why they shouldn’t invite someone in to share their Christmas.

So Howard and Richie head over to Fonzie’s to invite him over. He tries to fake them out like he’s going to visit his cousin and is going to miss his bus. The whole thing is so pathetic. Howard ties to help Fonzie with his suitcase only to discover it is empty. And Fonzie dismisses the presumable emptiness of his suitcase by saying, “I travel light.”

Trying not to hurt Fonzie’s pride, Richie tell him that he just wishes he would wait to go to his cousin’s until in the morning because he really wants them to see their great Christmas tree. To which Fonzie replies, “I got a tree.” And it’s like the saddest tree this side of Peanuts.

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They’re so full of shit.
Earlier in the episode, we saw Fonzie give gifts to all of the waitresses at Arnold’s, Richie, Potsie, and Ralph. But no one had anything in return to give to Fonzie. (I guess we can assume that Richie picked something up at the hardware store receiving Fonzie’s gift at the diner.)

They finally get him to spend Christmas with them without insulting him, but telling him that they need him to fix the Santa on their lawn. It has some kind of electrical problem this year and it’s a very important tradition. By the time he has fixed Santa (and their Christmas tree lights), Fonzie has missed the last bus. So they’re all like well, guess you have to stay here. Ever prideful, Fonzie still resists. And then Howard “Family Time” Cunningham is like hey let me drive you!

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I mean Santa is legit broken though.
And then Fonzie (who obviously really wanted to stay) is like oh man, it’s  snowing too hard. It would be wrong for me to make you drive me. And then Marian is just like finally done with all this crap and she tells Fonzie that he is staying and that’s the end of it.

happydays3But the best part is when Howard lets Fonzie take over all of the Christmas traditions. Fonzie wants to do EVERYTHING and Howard gladly passes the baton. He realizes how fortunate he is to have such a lovely family and he’s finally happy to share that with someone outside of it.

And if you’re not in tears when Howard asks Fonzie to say grace and all Fonzie says is, “Hey God,” you’re literally the grinch. I’m like sobbing right now.

Very Special Holiday Lesson: I mean this is the same lesson as Sabrina‘s episode, but this one made me cry. Brb. Crying.

Home Improvement: Twas the Blight Before Christmas

his3-28Mark is signing The First Noel at church. He and the other kids have to wear robes with letters that spell out N-O-E-L. Mark is the N and he thinks his robe “looks geeky.” Meanwhile, Brad wants to skip-out on Christmas with his family, so he can go skiing with a friend from school. (Brad was always the shittiest kid in this family).

When it’s time to go to church and see Mark sing on Christmas Eve, Brad is too busy sulking to come along just because his mom wants “the whole stupid family” to spend Christmas together. (Literally. The shittiest.)

The family leaves Brad at home, rather than forcing him to come along and have him throw a fit all night. When Tim comes home to check on him, he finds Brad trying to sneak out of the house with his skis. He doesn’t want to miss out on the trip because there will be a lot of people there that he wants to hang out with.

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Clearly JTT is the good son in this family.

“Christmas is not about being with people you like. It’s about being with your family,” words of wisdom from Tim, the Tool Man, Taylor. But then things get real. Tim tells Brad that he’s not going to be a kid forever. One day he’ll have his own family and never make it home for Christmas, just like Tim and Jill never spend Christmas with their parents. Plus, Tim’s days are numbered since he lives dangerously on the set of Tool Time.

So finally it’s time for Mark’s big debut as the N. But the kids line up backwards, so it looks like they’re singing about some guy named Leon. Oh hey and do you recognize the kid playing the L? It’s Michelle Tanner’s friend Derek from¬†Full House! Of course, Brad shows up mid-song and it’s a joyous occasion.

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Very Special Holiday Lesson: Don’t ditch your family on Christmas, even if there’s a cool trip involved.

The Golden Girls: Twas the Nightmare Before Christmas

Dorothy is being kind of a Scrooge, but for good reason. She’s not feeling the holiday spirit because everything is so commercialized and her wallet can’t handle it. (Ugh girl, I feel you.) Rose suggests that they all celebrate “St. Olaf Style,” which luckily does not involve herring or strange festivals this time, but rather involves everyone making gifts for one another.

Rose gives Dorothy a maple syrup spigot, very handy in Miami, and Blanche gives everyone a nudie calendar, entitled “The Men of Blanche’s Boudoir.” All of the girls are traveling this Christmas, so they exchange gifts early. The following morning they all plan to travel to the airport together after picking Rose up from work. (This is back in her days of working at a Crisis Center.)

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Dorothy and Blanche arrive to pickup Rose from her office while Sophia waits in the car. However, Rose is with a client so they have to sit in the waiting area. As they finally prepare to leave, a man in a Santa costume enters the office and holds them up at gun point. He doesn’t plan on robbing them though. He just doesn’t want to spend Christmas alone. ūüė¶

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Omg he even brought presents for everyone. And theses ladies are like WAHHH WE’RE GOING TO MISS OUR FLIGHT. Chill, girls. You need to hang out with this poor guy who brought you all gifts.

Oh wait, Rose makes a pretty good point. They’re not entitled to give him a good Christmas. And he’s being pretty darn selfish.

After a while, Sophia gets tired of waiting in the car. She walks into the office and immediately spots the Santa’s gun as a toy. They all rush to the airport, hoping to make it in time to catch their flights.¬†Miraculously, they do make it to their gates in time! And then everything is grounded for a weather delay.

They go to a diner and feel sorry for themselves. When the waiter/cook (he’s the only guy working at the diner)¬†comments on what a nice family they are, they realize they’re very fortunate to have each other (and to not be spending Christmas alone like the Santa at the Crisis Center). They want to do something nice for the waiter/cook so they convince him to go home for an hour to be with his family while they watch the diner…uh okay…

If that wasn’t implausible enough, it suddenly begins to snow. In Miami. This hasn’t actually happened since 1977. Yeah, I looked it up.

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Very Special Holiday Lesson: Sometimes the best families are the ones you choose.

Cheers: The Spy Who Came In For A Cold One

the_spy_who_came_in_for_a_cold_oneA mysterious man arrives at Cheers on Christmas Eve. He reveals to Carla that he is a spy and she of course tells everyone in the Cheers crew. He’s quite taken with Carla, which flatters her to no end. As she brags to Diane about her new friend, Diane begins to poke holes in his story. He doesn’t know the right currency for Norway and misidentifies¬†a city to Turkey as a city in Bulgaria.

Diane has to be right, of course, so she confronts the man. Sam tells her to chill out and stop ruining their good time. And in that moment, he explains the magic of Cheers (and why it’s exactly the place where you want everyone to know your name).

Of course, Diane just can’t let it go. She ends up humiliating the poor guy, who leaves the bar in such a pitiful way that she cannot help but feel utterly ashamed. After his departure, Diane quits Cheers. Carla is totally excited and tries to hurry her out the door. But Sam and Coach talk her into to sticking around and making this right. Diane decides to search the city until she finds him.

Luckily, she doesn’t have to look far. She barely has her coat on when he returns to explain his actions. He says he is just a lonely writer and makes up stories due to his loneliness. Diane, as we know, LOVES literature, so she urges him to share some of his writing. Since Diane is an acquaintance of an editor at The Atlantic, she decides to call him and share one of the man’s poems.

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Sam urges her not to¬†make the call, stating that the man could have simply¬†memorized a poem and passed it off as his own. But Diane doesn’t listen because of course she couldn’t possible be wrong about poetry. Maybe about determining who is and who is not a legitimate spy, but NOT about poetry.

Surprise! The poem turns out to be plagiarized. Everyone has a good laugh (except Diane) and Sam thanks the pathological liar for giving them good entertainment. He then explains he’s simply an eccentric millionaire and makes up stories for his own amusement. He offers to buy the bar from Sam. He even lets him name the price.

Everyone has a good laugh when this guy writes Sam a check for two million dollars. Diane doesn’t find any of this funny (she’s still pissed about being bested) so she rips up the check. As the check pieces fall to the floor, a footman enters the bar and lets the eccentric millionaire/pathological liar know that some important papers have arrived for him from Geneva and he’s got the car all ready to go.

I mean…I still think this guy could be full of crap and have another person playing along, but this sends Carla et all scrambling to pick up the pieces of the check. Sam’s not worried though because he didn’t really want to sell Cheers anyway.

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Very Special Christmas Lesson: Honestly, the only thing Christmas-y about this episode was the decorations. Plus, Carla and Diane worse some Christmas corsages. Maybe it’s a message of being kind to strangers? And also maybe not calling acquaintances at¬†The Atlantic? Take from this what you will and be on your merry way.

A Few Words on Alan Thicke

I hate to post on celebrity deaths. It feels like capitalizing on a terrible, personal experience that should be left sacred to friends and loved ones. But I have to say something about Alan Thicke. It must be plain to see from this blog’s existence that I grew up watching reruns.¬†Growing Pains, while frequently lampooned on this website, was nearest and dearest to my heart.

In some ways, the Seaver children’s lifestyle mirrored my own. I grew up in an upper-middle class home with two professional parents. I even had one parent, who like Alan Thicke’s Dr. Seaver, worked from a home office as a mental health services professional. It could be for this reason alone that Alan Thicke is so close to my heart, but my appreciation does not stop there.

I’ve watched a lot of television family sitcoms over the years and, in my mind, Alan Thicke accomplished what no other TV actor of the 80’s sitcom golden era had successfully been able to do. He gave us a character who was wholly comedically funny and was also a good dad. Think of all the great TV dad’s, Ward Cleaver, Mike Brady, Steven Keaton, or maybe even Danny Tanner if we are feeling particularly generous.

Now how many of those guys cracked good jokes where the timing was just right and the writing wasn’t too smarmy? How many of those guys would you want to have a cup of coffee with? How many of those guys would you trust to be in a Robin Sparkles video? And how many of those guys did ALL of those things while being genuinely good parents to their TV kids (while also still seeming like a human being)?

In a blog full of jokes, I’ll put all joking aside and say Alan Thicke is my gold standard for modern TV sitcom dads. Maybe¬†Growing Pains can’t be considered “modern” anymore, but I’m still holding all TV dads to this standard. Alan Thicke’s Jason Seaver felt like Andy Griffith’s Andy Taylor with a Ph.D. I can laugh at sitcoms even when they’re not trying to be funny because they usually get human nature so wrong. But Alan Thick got it right.

Also, “They said they didn’t go to the bathroom and they don’t want to,” will always be a funny line.

Goodnight.