The First Movie I Ever Recorded on VHS

I can still picture the hard plastic case—the only one in our VHS tape collection—peeking out above the other paperboard covers. And I remember the feeling of permanence when writing those two timeless words in blue pen on the card insert: Weird Science

My family was not rich. My mom and dad worked hard and thankfully had the help of my grandmother and aunts in raising me and my three siblings—yep, four wild kids in one house. Suffice to say: the latest technology was NOT of utmost concern (at least to any of the adults). To be honest, it was not of much importance to us children either; tech fads were not a big thing just yet.

So, getting our first VCR was kind of an understated yet monumental moment in our lives. Until this landmark occasion, repeated viewings were left to the powers that be at broadcast television companies—unless you factor in HBO, who would replay any given movie about 30 or so times in as many days. (AND without commercials! What?!)

Read: 12 Movies My Little Brother Watched Over and Over When We Were Kids

The huge, almost-briefcase-sized VHS video cassette recording machine sat up on a shelf under the cable box with its enormous (by today’s standards) square-inch buttons for Play, Stop, Rew, Ffwd, Pause and Record. The first VHS tape we had, it may have come with the purchase, was equally epic. An actual hardcover plastic box (“heavy-duty” if you will) that had kind of a gray craquelure feel to it. The title card would slip into a clear plastic on the front.

We’d later switch to TDK or Sony or whatever cheaper brand was available. We’d also begin recording more than one movie to a tape with the discovery of what SP, LP and EP meant. But, for the very first cinematic gem we would immortalize to cassette, it would be one movie and that one movie only.

In my memory, I seem to recall kind of leading the charge on what we would record. I may have been the only one who really cared; my older sister was ahead of me and my two younger siblings by four years and arguably the most popular of all of us. I said arguably guys, don’t get mad at me.

To my point, she was probably too busy with an actual social life to care about television. And my younger siblings, sorry again guys, may have just been outvoted by me. Because I, of course, was older and arguably wiser.

In any case, the very first film we (or I, really) recorded on VHS was that bastion of motion pictures: Weird Science.

Generations after mine will never understand the concerns of “taping” a movie from TV:

• Making sure the VCR or TV is set to channel 3.
• Hitting BOTH play AND record buttons (why wasn’t the one button enough?).
• Pausing the tape for commercials if you weren’t recording a cable show.
• Remembering to un-pause when the show started again after the break.
• Making sure the tape head was clean.
• Specifying AM or PM if you were programming something to record.
• Having a blank tape (or enough space left to get the whole recording).
• Checking to be sure the copy protection tab was intact (or taped over).
• Staying awake through the whole movie to not get the next movie or interstitials.

All that aside, I’m fairly certain we recorded the ‘80s classic from HBO. The film written and directed by John Hughes, of course, featured Anthony Michael Hall, Ilan Mitchell-Smith and Kelly LeBrock. Hughes was on a bit of a tear after writing and directing Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club (both of which also featured Hall).

Read: 100 Three-Name ‘80s Stars

Danny Elfman sang the Oingo Boingo theme song which somehow fit right in on 1980s’ pop radio. The story is a basic Frankenstein remake but, instead of the mad scientist, you have two pubescent geeky teens. And naturally instead of a monster, the unpopular mechanics use a (laughably “state-of-the-art”) computer to simulate a dream woman into being.

Looking back, recording Weird Science not only set the tone for my love of films. The film itself reflects my life experience. Nerdy, young, fun, interests in movies and music and comedy and science and the arts, with a love—and deep respect—for women. As well as a general happiness of just being alive.


Also see: Weird Science Trailer

The Golden Days of Goldie Hawn

Sure, she may have become big in the late ’60/early ’70s and perhaps had some success in the ’90s, but the golden era of Goldie Hawn (for me at least) was the ’80s.

Goldie Jean Hawn (yep, Goldie is her real name) quickly parlayed her 1968 Emmy-nominated turn on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In into movie roles. She started off with an Academy Award and Golden Globe for her work on 1970’s Cactus Flower. Then continued to grace the big screen over the next decade with movies like Butterflies Are Free, The Sugarland Express and Shampoo among others.

My introduction to the blonde bombshell came in 1980 with her starring role in Private Benjamin. She earned her second Academy Award nomination as the socialite-turned-soldier opposite Eileen Brennan, Armand Assante, Albert Brooks and more. (She lost the Oscar to Coal Miner’s Daughter star Sissy Spacek.)

(longer trailer at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTuip4gVJWg)

The next big hit for me featuring Hawn was 1986’s Wildcats — in which she played a high school track coach who decides to take over the football coach job at an inner-city school. She starred in a cast that also included Swoosie Kurtz, Jan Hooks, Nipsey Russell, Woody Harrelson, Wesley Snipes and Mykelti Williamson.

(also check out Hawn and the cast singing over the closing credits in a song you may hate me for reminding you of: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CfnKEYAbyo)

And nothing tops Hawn’s comedic talent than her role in 1987’s Overboard as an heiress who is struck with amnesia. Hawn starred opposite her real-life partner Kurt Russell for a third time (following The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band (1968) and Swing Shift (1984)). Russell plays a carpenter that she’s wronged who decides to use her memory loss to his advantage. Hijinks ensue.

(*All three of the above movies are available to watch in full online. Have a Hawn-athon!)

Her other 1980’s films include Seems Like Old Times (1980), Best Friends (1982), Swing Shift and Protocol (1984). And she went on to star in Bird on a Wire (1990), Death Becomes Her (1992), The First Wives Club (1996), Everyone Says I Love You (1996) and The Out-of-Towners (1999). The 2000s—her 5th decade in the biz—brought Town & Country (2001) and The Banger Sisters (2002).

The actress was last heard in 2013 lending her voice to the animated series Phineas and Ferb. She has also dabbled in producer, directing, writing and singing.

100 Three-Name ‘80s Stars

(A list of notable people from the 1980s whose names feature three parts.)

Three is a magic number—if Schoolhouse Rock! or De La Soul are to be believed. It certainly worked its magic for a number of stars in the 1980s who were known by their three-part names.

The criteria for this compilation was simply: people of note during the decade who had three parts to their name. Those who may not technically tally three separate names—whether by hyphenation, unique capitalization, inclusion of ‘nicknames’ or the use of particles (like de, la, van, von and the)—?were included in *honorary mention below.

They must also have used their triple moniker during the 80s. (For example: 21 Jump Street star Holly Robinson Peete was known simply as Holly Robinson then.)

(Note: Though extensive, this is not a comprehensive list.)

Without further ado, here are ladies of the eighties who went by three names: (listed alphabetically by the secondary portion)(with parenthetical credits specifically for their work during the ‘80s)

Lesley Ann Warren (Clue, Victor Victoria)
Penelope Ann Miller (Biloxi Blues, Big Top Pee-wee)
Meredith Baxter Birney (Family Ties)
Barbara Bel Geddes (Dallas)
Maria Conchita Alonso (The Running Man, Moscow on the Hudson)
Rae Dawn Chong (Soul Man, American Flyers)
Sandra Day O’Connor (Supreme Court Justice)
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (Scarface, The Abyss)
Tammy Faye Bakker (wife of televangelist Jim, The PTL Club)
Jennifer Jason Leigh (Fast Times at Ridgemont High)
Sarah Jessica Parker (Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, Footloose)
Sally Jessy Raphael (talk show host)
Wendie Jo Sperber (Bosom Buddies)
Mary Kay Place (Private Benjamin)
Keshia Knight Pulliam (The Cosby Show)
Jamie Lee Curtis (A Fish Called Wanda, Trading Places)
Sheryl Lee Ralph (It’s a Living, Oliver & Company)
Mary Lou Retton (gymnast, Scrooged)
Jean Louisa Kelly (Uncle Buck)
Lynne Marie Stewart (Pee-wee’s Playhouse)
Catherine Mary Stewart (The Last Starfighter)
Soleil Moon Frye (Punky Brewster)
Susan Saint James (Kate & Allie)
Mary Stuart Masterson (Some Kind of Wonderful, Chances Are)
Melissa Sue Anderson (Little House on the Prairie)
Mary Tyler Moore (Ordinary People)
Moon Unit Zappa (National Lampoon’s European Vacation)
Zsa Zsa Gabor (A Nightmare on Elm Street 3)

And here are some gentlemen from back then with thrice-as-nice-names:

Brian Austin Green (Beverly Hills, 90210)
Phillip Baker Hall (Falcon Crest)
Jon Bon Jovi (singer, Bon Jovi)
Big Daddy Kane (rapper)
Harry Dean Stanton (Pretty in Pink)
Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver)
Billy Dee Williams (Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Batman)
Lou Diamond Phillips (La Bamba, Young Guns)
Joe Don Baker (In the Heat of the Night, Fletch)
James Earl Jones (Star Wars, Coming to America)
Ke Huy Quan (The Goonies, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom)
Edward James Olmos (Blade Runner, Stand and Deliver)
David Lee Roth (singer, Van Halen)
Chao Li Chi (Big Trouble in Little China, Falcon Crest)
Andrew Lloyd Webber (composer: Cats, Starlight Express)
Jam Master Jay (DJ, Run-D.M.C.)
Anthony Michael Hall (Weird Science, The Breakfast Club)
Phillip Michael Thomas (Miami Vice)
Kool Moe Dee (rapper)
Charles Nelson Reilly (All Dogs Go to Heaven)
David Ogden Stiers (M*A*S*H)
David Patrick Kelly (48 Hours, Commando)
John Patrick Shanley (writer, Moonstruck)
Neil Patrick Harris (Doogie Howser, M.D.)
John Paul Jones (musician, Led Zeppelin)
Stevie Ray Vaughan (musician)
Sugar Ray Leonard (boxer)
Robert Sean Leonard (Dead Poets Society)
Terence Trent D’Arby (singer: “Wishing Well,” “Sign Your Name”)

Here are some guys that used a letter (or two) as part of their names: (listed alphabetically by those letters)

B.B. King (musician)
C. Thomas Howell (Soul Man, Secret Admirer)
D.B. Sweeney (Eight Men Out, Lonesome Dove)
Thomas F. Wilson (Back to the Future)
Michael J. Fox (Back to the Future, Family Ties)
M. Emmet Walsh (Blade Runner, Fletch)
R. Lee Ermey (Fletch Lives)
Craig T. Nelson (Poltergeist, Coach)
T.K. Carter (227, Punky Brewster)

Honorary Mention

*As cited above, the following may be considered ineligible for the triple threat status due to varying stipulations and/or punctuation. They were included for thoroughness and debate.

JoBeth Williams (Poltergeist, The Big Chill)
Reginald VelJohnson (Die Hard, Family Matters)

Rebecca De Mornay (Risky Business)
Robert De Niro (Raging Bull)
Eriq La Salle (Coming to America)
Sabrina Le Beauf (The Cosby Show)
Simon Le Bon (singer, Duran Duran)
Dick Van Dyke (The Golden Girls)
Dick Van Patten (Spaceballs)
Joyce Van Patten (St. Elmo’s Fire)
Max Von Sydow (Flash Gordon, Dune)

Kermit the Frog (The Muppet Show)
André the Giant (The Princess Bride, WWF)
Andrew ‘Dice’ Clay (Pretty in Pink)
Oran ‘Juice’ Jones (singer, “The Rain”)
Noriyuki ‘Pat’ Morita (The Karate Kid)

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (basketball player, Airplane!)
Tiffani-Amber Thiessen (Saved by the Bell)
Daniel Day-Lewis (My Left Foot)
Brian Doyle-Murray (Caddyshack)
Florence Griffith-Joyner (athlete)
Malcolm-Jamal Warner (The Cosby Show)
Jackie Joyner-Kersee (athlete)
Mary-Kate Olsen (Full House)
Mark Linn-Baker (Perfect Strangers)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Saturday Night Live)
Mary-Louise Parker (Longtime Companion)
Jan-Michael Vincent (Airwolf)
Jean-Michel Basquiat (artist)
Olivia Newton-John (Xanadu)
Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Saved by the Bell)
Courtney Thorne-Smith (Summer School)
Pee-wee Herman (Pee-wee’s Big Adventure)
Yo-Yo Ma (musician)

And these may just be completely a stretch: (enjoy)

Fab 5 Freddy (hip hop artist)
Ed Begley Jr. (St. Elsewhere)
John Cougar Mellencamp (singer: “Small Town,” “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.”)
Robert Downey Jr. (Chances Are, Less Than Zero)
Captain Lou Albano (wrestler WWF)
Mount St. Helens (volcano)

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“Isn’t It Cool in Pink” — Cherry 7-Up Makes a Splash

You can probably already hear the tune echoing from the recesses of your mind: Isn’t it cool… in pink/ Isn’t it cool… to drink.

The 1987 introduction of the cherry-flavored version of the popular (usually lemon-lime) soda came along with a television commercial campaign that used the trademarked phrase “Isn’t It Cool in Pink” — with no punctuation at the end. I suppose it was implying it IS cool, rather than asking you if you think so. 7-Up got all rhetorical on us.

A number of variations of the song popped up in the years to follow: some with a female voice, some a male voice, some had a rock feel, some a softer jazzy one, etc. And the setting of the commercials varied from places like a rock concert to diner to art gallery.

The style of the ads, however, remained the same: a short love story (usually a lot of furtive glances) filmed in black and white that featured parts of the actors’ clothing or certain other props in the isolated color pink. The can of soda was, of course, in color.

A young-and-unknown Matt LeBlanc (“Friends”) starred in one of the TV spots opposite an also-young Terry Farrell (“Back to School,” “Deep Space Nine”).

Check out a bunch of the different commercials for Cherry 7-Up here: