VHS

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.

ALIVE!

Also see: Weird Science Trailer

I don’t remember these vinyl covers from the 80’s

I want to know what love is!

Could these villainous Vinyl’s be any cooler? Artist Rocky Davies has captured that 80’s feel perfectly and applied it to some classic tracks, sung by Dr Doom, Shredder, the Predator, a Xenomorph and the Joker. More recently he’s also added He-Man to the roster, but as a Reggae singer.

Deal with it
It ain't personal
The Dreams in which I'm Dying
Welcome to the Jungle
Hey-Mon

There is plenty more to love about Rocky’s work, including this ace Masters of the Universe Faker and this Gremlin Halfbreed, so check out his site.

Fisher Price Alpha Interceptor

Fisher Price Alpha Interceptor

I’ve been collection Fisher Price Adventure People for a few years now and this is the first boxed vehicle from that line that I have run across in the wild. I was initially excited when I saw the $14.99 price tag, but the contents were incomplete and the box was in pretty poor shape. This picture doesn’t relay the amount of duct tape that was used to hold it together, and although the ship and instructions were inside the box, the man was missing and the instructions (and possible the box) had sustained some water damage.

Since I already own a loose version of this ship I had to leave this one behind on the shelf, but finding something like this in the wild always gives me hope that I’ll find something else the next time!

(Ages 5-9, hah!)

Nursery School’s “Sweepstakes”

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As I mentioned last week, I’ve been converting all my old cassette tapes into mp3s. Most of the songs contained on those tapes are top 40 hits from the 80s we’ve all heard a million times. Occasionally, I run across a lessor known song. This is one of those.

“Sweepstakes” was a song released by Nursery School in 1983 by Epic Records.

I’d write more but that’s all I can find about this song or this band. All Google links about this song lead to eBay sales of the single. I can’t even find if Nursery School released a full album, or who was in the band.

On the record label, the song is credited to S. Bray, R. Janquitto, and V. Ghent, and was produced by two of those people (Stephen Bray and Ramona Jan, aka R. Janquitto). Stephen Bray (Wikipedia) is a musician and producer who has written and produced several of Madonna’s songs. Ramona Jan (Discogs) is a recording engineer and was a vocalist for the Comateens, Dizzy And The Romilars, and Buster Poindexter’s all girl backing group, the Venis Fly Trap. V. Ghent appears to be musician/vocalist Valerie Ghent (valghent.com).

I’ll save you the trouble; none of those links mention Nursery School or “Sweepstakes”. If you can find out any more information about this song or this band, please share it with me. For years I thought this song was performed by The Waitresses and couldn’t even track it down.

AEIOU Sometimes Y by Ebn Ozn

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A couple of weekends ago I ran across a big box of old cassette tapes in my garage. Last year I converted some of them to mp3 format but not all of them, so after connecting an old Kenwood cassette deck to my computer last week, I decided to finish the job.

Like many kids, I spent a lot of my time (and cassettes) recording songs off the radio. I wasn’t very organized in my efforts and so many of my old tapes contain duplicate songs. On one thirty minute cassette I managed to record two copies of “Spies Like Us” by Paul McCartney and another two copies of the Chicago Bears performing the “Superbowl Shuffle.” There are lots of abrupt stops and starts as well, as five seconds into some of the songs I must have simply decided… “nah.” Regardless of duplicate songs and false starts, I’ve certainly enjoyed listening to those tapes again. It’s a lot like listening to radio from the 80s, DJ banter and all.

One song I had completely forgotten about was Ebn Ozn’s “AEIOU Sometimes Y,” which appeared on the tape pictured above. The song was released in 1983 by the oddly named band which included Ned “EBN” Liben and Robert “OZN” Rosen. According to Wikipedia, AEIOU “has the distinction of being the first commercial single ever recorded entirely on a computer in the United States.” Although this song had some exposure both on the radio and on MTV in the early 80s, both the song and the band seem to have faded from existence. The pair only released on album together (“Feeling Cavalier”), and broke up in 1985. Ned “Ebn” Liben passed away in 1998.