Disney cartoon from 1957 shortly after Sputnik orbited Earth. The cartoon speculates on life on Mars. You know, before NASA messed everything up and made Mars boring and full of useless rocks. I remember seeing this as a child, well after Mars was established boring and free from horny Mars princesses.
That last post reminded me of my old gateway drug to internet time-wasting: X-Entertainment.com. And it’s surprisingly not porn!
The proprietor of said storehouse of half-remembered pop culture is a gent named Matt who describes his domain thusly:
Basically, the entire site is a tribute to anything I feel, or have felt, passionately about in my life. It’s really not an ’80s nostalgia site,’ the reason it’s garnered that reputation is because I’m big on nostalgia and I was a child in that decade. To say it’s by design though would overstate it a bit. The main purpose of X-E is to bring to light many of the more obscure, geeky parts of pop-culture that often get buried as years go by. Whether it’s an old movie, toy, video game, television show, or candy bar – if I feel strongly enough to write about it, I probably will.
Things look a wee bit out of date (that about page has been saying Matt’s 23 for… well, since I was younger than 23 at least) but there’s nearly no end to the site with all its back articles about whatever pop culture flotsam has been rattling around Matt’s brains since the 80s. What distinguishes it and makes it so addicting is Matt’s personal take and odd mini-dramas acted out by action figures and other inanimate objects towards the purpose of describing something else equally obscure.
Remember, this site was up and running a few years before social networking and Youtube combined to create the perfect storm of nostalgia composting. The past wasn’t always so immediately available. Matt was paying for our sins of forgetting by spending many a night bleeding cash while drunk on eBay.
This post over at BuzzFeed got me googling old soft drinks I spend far too much time thinking about, especially considering how little I drink soda. Still, discontinued products form something of a shared culture of loss that you can discuss with anyone in pretty wide age bracket.
What with the pace of technological and pop cultural innovation, speaking of shared experiences growing up in a generation doesn’t make much sense anymore. The half-life of popular shows, songs, fads is short and these products are targeted at finer and finer slices of the population, especially at slices divvied up by age.
Food and drink, though, while not timeless, at least can be shared alike by a pretty broad range. As for sodas, well, fizzy corn syrup is a fairly universal lust or at least an inescapable fact.
One soda BuzzFeed skipped over that factors into my memories is a Canada-only permutation of Pepsi that split the difference between diet and regular: Pepsi Max. I remember being awed that A: Canadians ate cold, cheeseless pizza as a picnic food (???) and B: For some reason they got better Pepsi that walked a perfect line between tasting like rocket exhaust and instant diabetes. This soda nostalgia is made more difficult by the low vocabulary of PepsiCo’s marketing department, who decided to recycle the name Pepsi Max for a slew of reboots, running the gamut from some kinda cola version of eggnog to the recent high caffeine, ginseng infused, zero-calorie version of the black stuff.
As an aside, is anyone else freaked out by things advertised as having zero calories? Are you guys serious that there is nothing in this that my body can process and burn and yet I’m still drinking it? What’s in here, silicone?
I should also pay tribute to the generosity of the marketers behind Surge for choosing my humble hometown as a test market for their weird Mt. Dew knockoff. For a whole summer, idling Surge trucks were the safer alternative to liplocking with a busted water fountain at schools, parks and really anywhere I could be found rubbing wax on a curb.
Though did anyone ever play any of those capture-the-Surge games depicted in the commercials?
Creating scenes like this were my original medium of storytelling, back in the hazy days of the 80s with mismatched action figures and hammered Matchbox cars lorded over by plastic dinosaurs. For whatever reason, I never took pictures of any of my ‘setups’ but instead opted for detailing the action in intensely adjectived detail into a portable cassette recorder. Hours upon hours were sunk into making and then unmaking wood block cities with precisely arranged He-Man characters, GI Joes and lots of dollar store knockoff action figures that served nicely as canon fodder, all to an excited eight year old’s breathless play-by-play.
If I ever track down one of those old tapes, I’ll be sure to post it. Gold mine of remix material, I’m sure.