Today I'm taking a trip

Today I'm taking a trip down memory lane. It's a mix of the food poisoning I feel coming on, which evokes memories of getting food poisoned from bad hamburger at IHOP as a child, and an encounter with a movie from my youth.
I saw E.T. at the incomparable Cinerama on Saturday night. My mother took me to see E.T. in 1982. I remember the event fondly because it was one of those movies she would not have wanted to see on her own, but she had probably heard the big buzz and known that parents were taking their kids to see it, and so she took me. She made lots of sacrifices like that.
To see the movie again was to be transported back to 1982, when Men At Work was the Grammy's Best New Artist, and Olivia Newton John won best music video for Physical and Toto won record of the year for Rosanna. It was probably around the time I first began getting into music, ordering cassette tapes from the BMG music club, trading cassettes with friends and spending hours making mix tapes. Some other songs I recall:
Eye of the Tiger by Survivor
I used to listen to this while jumping rope.
Hard to Say I'm Sorry by Chicago
Chicago was the king of the type of love ballads that all teens listened to when falling into puppy love, pining over unrequited love, or mourning in melodramatic fashion over lost love.
Ebony and Ivory by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder
We had to sing this in chorus class. Over and over and over. I remember that in those days teachers didn't use copiers. They used this weird type of primitive copying machine (whose name eludes me--can someone please tell me what those were
called?!?) which printed in this purplish ink that would bleed all over the page. And the teacher would pass out song lyrics duplicated in this fashion to all of us, the serif fonts struggling to maintain their form on these soggy pages, and we'd follow along mumbling as our chorus teacher banged on the piano and sang loud and proud.
Don't You Want Me by the Human League
My friend Alan was this crazy firestorm of a kid with the strangest interests. He loved karate, his hamsters, Atari, and the strangest music. This was one of the songs he used to play on his tape player over and over. I don't want to remember this song, but it has been hard-wired into the 1982 memory banks in my brain.
Other movies I saw that year and rememberd:
Chariots of Fire
I saw it with my dad, and that Vangelis theme still runs through my head. I barely remember the movie but I do remember the scene where some guy falls down in a race then gets back up and in a surge of adrenaline catches and passes all the other runners.
My sisters liked to sing songs from that movie. I think Karen had an Annie haircut for a while. That didn't last.
My cousin Chuck and I loved the lines at the end...
"Rear missiles. Rear missiles! Damn it!
Think Russian
Rear missiles!"
Firefox cold hit Mach 6, I think. We still don't have any planes that fly that fast, do we?
First Blood
I must have seen this at Derek's house a few years later. My early initiation into movies was from rented cassettes which I watched at Derek's house. I'm just no recovering from that overdose of John Hughes and ninja films. Stuff like Remo Williams, Some Kind of Wonderful. Those probably represented the pinnacle. My childhood education in film came courtesy of the local video rental store.
Other memories evoked by the film: Riding on BMX dirt bikes. The Speak and Spell toy. Lunchboxes and thermoses (not in the film, but I remember a classmate who had the E.T. lunchbox). What ever happened to thermoses anyway? Do people still use them? Spaghetti-O's in a thermos was the world's greatest lunch, its warmth miraculously preserved over the course of morning classes. Halloween masks (life was easier as a child, when a plastic mask held on by a cheap vermicelli-thin rubber strap and a plastic cape constituted a pretty damn good Halloween costume). Underoos--I had the Incredible Hulk Underoos, and they were sweet. Star Wars figures. If only I had kept mine in great shape, I might be rich now. I had most of the ones that Eliot had in the film, and I had the Millenium Falcon and the Creature Cantina playset.
If you were do to an archaelogical dig into my past, my toys would be the centerpiece. You wouldn't have any idea what sort of attachment or relationship I had with the toys, but they'd be my Rosebud.
E.T. is a great film. Ghandhi stole the Oscar for best picture that year, and with The Fellowship of the Ring losing this year, I daresay we will need another tearful Halle Berry-esque speech when a science fiction film finally wins for best picture. That's truly 74 years of prejudice against the science fiction and fantasy film category.
Other vague memories from that time:
Knight Rider (being remade into a movie, perhaps) and Dynasty.
The A-Team.
Showbiz Pizza.
Big hair.
Transformers, America's take on Japan's obsession with robots that could turn themselves into objects like trucks, airplanes, ships.
Kool Aid (one packet of flavoring, one cup of sugar, 8 glasses of water, and voila, neon thirst quenching. Much tastier than Tang or Ovaltine.
My brush with soaps in the form of Days of Our Lives ("like sands through the hourglass..."). Yuck, what was that all about? That was Chuck's fault.
Voltron and He-Man.
Baseball cards, like those from Topps which came with nasty pink sticks of unchewable bubble gum. Fleer and Donruss.
Big League Chew.
Robitussin, Mentholatum, Flinstone vitamins, and Pei Pa Kao.
Dragon's Lair. Ooh, speaking of video games...
Atari 2600. Remember some of the weird games they had for the Atari 2600? My cousins had all these pirated cartridges from
Taiwan, which didn't have labels, so we'd have to label them with ballpoint pens and masking tape to keep them straight, or we'd just have to stick cartridge after cartridge in the machine to find the one we wanted.
Pac-Man, which, with the crude graphics of the 2600, didn't have dots to gobble but wafers instead.
Decathlon, which my cousin Chuck and I would play for hours. To run, you had to swing the joystick back and forth rapidly, and we'd have to wrap our hands in gauze because the skin on our palms had ripped off from one too many 1500m runs.
Megamania, which would rain strange objects like hamburgers from the sky.
Air Sea Battle, the first game I ever owned. Hours of fun because it contained so many different games all in one.
Combat, the second game I ever owned, and like Air Sea Battle one of the great multi-player games ever invented.
Asteroids: a simple, 2-D classic.
Bowling, another 2-D classic. Taught me how to score in bowling.
Raiders of the Lost Ark: avoid the tsetse flies!! The first RPG I ever played.
Space Invaders: I love that image on the cartridge--it's my visual equivalent to
E.T. the video game, which, admittedly, sucked. Never could do much more than get E.T. to crane his neck over and over.
Joust, with its cool looking people riding what looked like giant ostriches.
Pole Position, the first high end driving game.
Journey Escape, one of the weirdest games I ever played, and thus the most memorable. You play a band member trying to avoid shady music agents while music by Journey plays in the background, and at the end you encounter this giant person who looks like the Kool Aid man.
I loved the packaging on those games, and I can still picture them vividly. The multi-hued solid blocks of color with the crude cartoon images on Activision's games like Pitfall. The simple monochromatic text labels on early Atari cartridges like Breakout.
That was back in the day when it was worth it to pay a quarter to play games in the arcade because the quality was so superior. We used to go to this arcade in Palatine that allowed you to pay one flat fee and play for 2 hours straight with unlimited play on every machine. Nowadays, games in arcades are expensive and you can get comparable quality on a home console.
You know what else is great? With the Internet, you just know that you can locate that nutcase out there who collects Underoos and has a website with pictures of all the ones he has, or the fanatic who must preserve photos of the Millenium Falcon model. It's not quite the same as getting inside my head, but if you've lasted this long, you know Eugene the 8 to 10 year old kid a lot better than you may have wanted to.