Throwback Thursday: vintage 50’s-era wooden sleds

My family had three or four of these vintage sleds rattling around at the back of the garage in the 1980’s; I learned only tonight that they dated from three decades prior.  (We might have had the “Flexible Flyer” sleds from the era.)  They’re veritable antiques.

They were nobody’s favorite.  When the neighborhood kids gathered at any of its wooded hills on a snow day, it was always clear that the cheap 80’s-era red plastic sleds were much faster.  (Those metal rungs that you see below pushed right down to the bed of leaves leaves beneath the snow and got caught in them.)

And do you see that wooden crossbar that seems to suggest you could steer the thing?  That was pure bullshit.  It wouldn’t budge.  If you saw yourself headed for a tree, you simply rolled off and ditched the sled.  Or you just crashed into the tree.  And let me tell you something — that hurts even more than you might think.

 

download

Advertisements

Throwback Thursday: “Omni” magazine in the late 1980’s (and that weird Stephen King cover)

Omni in the 1980’s was an absolutely unique magazine dedicated to science fiction and science fact — it was always weird and occasionally wonderful.  Its content was consistently a good deal trippier than anything you’d find in more mainstream contemporaries like Scientific American or Discover — futurism, the paranormal, and short stories that were pretty damned abstract.  (I remember Patricia Highsmith’s “The Legless A” being a real head-scratcher for me.)  And the covers to Omni were frequently awesome.

I had a subscription around 1989 or so — I believe I got a year’s subscription as either a Christmas or birthday present.  I still remember it arriving in the mailbox.  I think I had all of the issues you see below — except the third one.  That issue is from January 1983, and I never had it.  I’m including it here because it’s too interesting not to share.

Stephen King fans will recognize Don Brauitgam’s artwork for the cover of King’s classic 1978 short story collection, “Night Shift.”  Brautigam apparently sold it to the magazine later.  (Interesting, too, is the similarity of the artist’s name to a key character in King’s subsequent “Hearts in Atlantis” and his “The Dark Tower” series — the kindly psychic, Ted Brautigan.)

Anyway, if you were geeky enough to enjoy this back in the day, the entire run of Omni is currently available at Amazon for $3 a pop.  It was available online for free for a while, and I think you can still find all of the short stories uploaded in pdf if you google them — I found a bunch, including Highsmith’s story.  (I wonder if I’d get a better sense of it if I read it today.)

 

 

be72939e64ff7df733c03244383ce5f9--futurism-film-posters

df6ffdc5e4e3ba597cd55df5230f615c--magazine-editor-magazine-art

1c0ecb344901ba309cc659ae896f7ce8

d6f679bf67711d1a0993827f3cc8f4af--magazine-art-magazine-covers

ff439bc98faf2a2ccd88a65ac67c338c--control-your-dreams-retro-futurism

omni_1989_04_0000

0016b03f6bbbddec98768905a4ee7c15

omni-1989-august

 

 

 

 

 

Throwback Thursday: NBC’s “Knight Rider” (1982 – 1986)

NBC’s “Knight Rider” might be the granddaddy of all 1980’s high-tech super-vehicle shows — if I had to guess which one was the most popular or most fondly remembered, this would be it.  (I suppose the other leading contender would be “Airwolf,” which we talked about a couple of months ago — but that was aimed at an older audience.)

“Knight Rider” was cheesy.  But most 80’s action shows were cheesy, and I still remember it as being decent enough.  Lord knows I and Mikey Wagner, the kid on the next block, were fascinated by it.

As anyone who remembers this show can attest, there is a key character that isn’t even hinted at in the intro below.  The car was sentient.  His name was K.I.T.T. (Knight Industries Two Thousand), and he was an artificial intelligence who actually who had a hell of a lot of personality.  K.I.T.T. was a super-intelligent, talking, futuristic, sleek, black sportscar, and he was an incongruous damned hero to us kids.

The other star was Davis Hasselhoff as Michael Knight.  We looked up to him too.  Hasselhoff, of course, is now better known for his subsequent starring role as a moronic lifeguard on the categorically awful “Baywatch” (1989 – 2001).  I remember seeing snippets of “Baywatch” in the 1990’s — it was constantly playing in the newsroom at my first job as a cub reporter.  (The guys there loved it.)  I remember being disappointed that one of my childhood heroes had somehow morphed into a male bimbo on the most saccharine and brainless TV show I had ever seen.  Hey, “Knight Rider” was a show for kids … but it was goddam “Masterpiece Theater” when compared with “Baywatch.”

Weird trivia — the voice actor for K.I.T.T. was none other than William Daniels, who also gave a stellar performance as John Adams in 1972’s film adaptation of Broadway’s “1776.”  It’s so weird seeing that movie and hearing the voice of K.I.T.T. come out of Adams’ mouth.

 

Throwback Thursday: “Rudolph’s Shiny New Year” (1976)

This was one of the really weird holiday specials that Rankin/Bass Productions made after their success with 1964’s “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”  Yes, this is the one with dinosaurs.

And, whaddya know?  Frank Gorshin (The Riddler from the 1960’s “Batman”) was in this.

 

Throwback Thursday: the Indiana Jones “Find Your Fate Adventure” books!

Here’s another happy Christmas memory — the Find Your Fate Adventure  books featuring Indiana Jones.  I was happy indeed when Santa brought these.  They were first published by Ballantine Books in 1984 and 1985, and they were basically Choose Your Own Adventure books in which you teamed up with Indy in the same type of archeological adventure you saw in the movies or in his comic book series.

Like most series of this type, they were penned by different authors and tended to vary in quality.  The second book, “Indiana Jones and the Lost Treasure of Sheba,” was authored by Rose Estes, who wrote some terrific title in the Endless Quest series, TSR’s own excellent take on the format in the Dungeons & Dragons genre.  There also were several written by R.L. Stine, they were reprinted in the 90’s following his popularity with his Goosebumps series.

I had the first four that you see below.  I seem to remember one being kinda bad, but I’m not sure I remember which.  It might have been Andrew Helfer’s “Indiana Jones and the Cup of the Vampire.”  (It was whichever book portrayed the reader as Indiana Jones’ cousin, who he repeatedly addressed as “Cuz.”)  The other books were damned great fun, though.  I do remember Estes’ “Lost Treasure of Sheba” being quite good.

I never owned the fifth book you see below, and never read it.  I can’t resist including it here, though, simply because of its title — “Indiana Jones and the Ape Slaves of Howling Island.”  If that isn’t the most interesting title in the history of western literature, I don’t know what is.  I’m 45 years old, and I would snap that up right off the bookstore shelf if I saw it.  Somebody should have gotten a raise for that one.

 

5498531070_32460746c1_b

51bBnM5u8eL

IndianaJonesAndTheCupOfTheVampire

IndianaJonesAndTheCultOfTheMummysCrypt

IndianaJonesAndTheApeSlavesOfHowlingIsland

 

Throwback Thursday: Indiana Jones action figures!!

I was thrilled when these Indiana Jones action figures arrived for me under the Christmas tree in 1983.  I loved “Raiders of the Lost Ark” more than I loved “Star Wars.”  I was truly surprised, too — I didn’t even know that they existed.

Why was that, I wonder?  Was Kenner just not advertising them much?  The company sure wasn’t shy about advertising its “Star Wars” figures.

That very last figure you see is the German mechanic that Indy fought at the desert base, when he and Marion were trying to hijack that plane.  (Dear God, was that one of the greatest movie scenes of all time.)  Anyway, the German mechanic toy had a spring-activated arm for clobbering action, and he came with a little plastic wrench.  Good times.

 

599 (1)

IndianaJonesSallahLoose1a

$_57

315

indiana-jones_german_mechanic-raiders-of-the-lost-ark-action-figure

Throwback Thursday: “Micronauts” action figures!

Mego produced the “Micronauts” action figures that you see below between 1976 and 1980.  I remember getting a couple of these guys for Christmas when I was in … kindergarten?  First grade?

I had no idea who they were.  (I grouped them together with my “Metal Man” action figures — another toy line in the late 70’s that is now mostly forgotten.)  I still loved them, though.  They weren’t as cool as “Star Wars” figures, but they were still space-based toys.  (At least they looked that way.)  And their partially transparent bodies made them unique.

It was this toy line that gave rise to the “Micronauts” comic book series from Marvel.  (I had a few issues in the early 1980’s — it was trippy stuff.)

 

39a6b224960ec0c5fec4767c186b49ab