Pretty much the best baseball article of the year, about the best baseball game ever. This game was the reason I wanted a Nintendo when I was a kid. I especially enjoyed his comments on playing with a younger brother and throwing the ball away after making out #3. Sometimes I’d throw the ball away when someone was on base, too. There are videos in the article to show you what I mean.
Even though the original post is over a year old, the first list of the World’s Blankiest 80’s Cartoons was never complete. Here are a few more of the blankiest 80’s cartoons, including some ideas from my sister:
Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers – I have fond memories of this TV show. One of my favorite characters was Monterey Jack, a mouse who loves cheese (very tricky, Disney, using an actual cheese for the name of a character). I think we must have watched this show right as it came out (many of the others we only watched after they had been in syndication for a while) and I thought it was pretty cool that these two established Disney characters now had their own detective show, and the fact that Chip dresses like Indiana Jones certainly didn’t hurt things.
Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears – We didn’t watch this show a lot, but I remember it very distinctively. Actually, come to think of it, I might just remember it because they advertised it like crazy, which is typical of Disney. I do remember that one of the characters was voiced by the same actor (Lorenzo Music) as Garfield in Garfield and Friends. I didn’t buy it.
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe – He-Man was an awesome show. As a kid, I always thought he was a lot like Superman, only better. By day he’s just the mild-mannered Prince Adam, but the power of Grayskull transforms him into the awesome He-Man (wow, that name sounds really dumb now, although I wouldn’t want to get in a fight with him for making fun of his name). Despite the similarities with Superman, it was He-Man’s enemy that set him apart. Skeletor was awesome, just look at the guy. He was a purple muscleman with just a skull for a head, but he was no dummy. The great part about this show was that it was so easy to pretend you were He-Man: all you needed was a pair of red shorts and a big sword. It surprises me that I didn’t do that more often.
My Little Pony – We rented a few of these episodes on Netflix for my daughter to watch, and she enjoyed them a little bit, although she definitely likes playing with her knock-off pony toys. Like Rainbow Brite and many others, they had their own movie. This show definitely appealed to little girls who were into hair and fancy things, though, and the toys carry on that tradition today. Hasbro was the creator of these toys, though, so maybe after they stop making Transformers and G.I. Joe movies (which are based on their other toys series) they will move on to My Little Pony. Just maybe.
The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh – One of the highlights of my young life (if you read my journal, at least) was meeting Winnie the Pooh in the mall when I was a kid and getting some stickers and a poster for this show. When I was flipping through channels a while ago, I noticed that there was a new Winnie the Pooh show on TV, but it had a little girl in place of the beloved Christopher Robin. I’m sure it’s all about a new generation or whatever, but I had to flip the channel immediately for fear of corrupting my two young daughters. Lots of 80’s TV shows have come back, but I can’t think of any that are better than the originals. A. A. Milne would be rolling over in his grave… if he hadn’t already done so back when his widow sold his characters to Disney.
Pound Puppies – this was one of a few 80s cartoons that also had a movie that came out with it, and it also belongs to the category of TV shows inspired by toys. There’s nothing wrong with that, though, as the movie, Pound Puppies and the Legend of Big Paw, brings back lots of good memories of the summer movie series we used to go to when we lived in Missouri. At the beginning of the summer my mom bought punch passes for all of us that would get us in to see a movie every week or so during the day. We always brought popcorn and other snacks as we watched the movies. I can’t think of any of the other movies that we saw that summer, but I do remember seeing the Pound Puppies movie.
Rainbow Brite – This is one of the shows that Beth had to remind me about. Apparently the 80s had lots of cartoons that were for girls as well (I mean, besides She-Ra, which boys were allowed to watch because He-Man could show up at any time). Anyway, I definitely remember my sister watching this show. There were lots of girls (and maybe some boys too?) riding on horses and they had little sidekicks called sprites. That sounds right. OK, now I had to look it up. So Rainbow Brite was the leader of a group called the Color Kids, who each had a Sprite for a sidekick. Their main enemy was Murky Dismal, who had a typically clumsy sidekick called Lurky (who wasn’t really that bad, he just hung with the wrong crowd). Anyway, Murky has pretty much the greatest backstory ever:
Murky is the main villain from The Pits. In one episode it is revealed that, as a toddler, he colored on the walls with crayons, markers, paints, rollers, and finally an industrial airbrush. His mother made him wash off “every bit of color, if it takes all day, if it takes the rest of your life,” leading Murky to his hatred of color as an adult. He loves to invent devices to create gloom clouds which remove color and make people hopeless. He is constantly trying to capture the Color Kids or take Rainbow Brite’s Color Belt. His full first name is Murkwell. –From Wikipedia
The Real Ghostbusters – Unlike another 80’s cartoon called Ghostbusters (which I only vaguely remember), this one was based on the popular movies, and because of all the marketing promotions, kids liked this show more. Later on, they figured out that kids really liked Slimer, so they renamed the show “Slimer! and the Real Ghostbusters”. Interestingly, Lorenzo Music voiced Bill Murray’s character from the movies in this show, and Bill Murray went on to voice Garfield, Lorenzo Music’s most well-known character, in a couple of movies.
She-Ra: Princess of Power – I’ve already mentioned that She-Ra was one cartoon that featured a girl that a boy would be fine watching even if he didn’t have any sisters. I know that my sister had a She-Ra action figure (or does this count as a doll?) that she got to use while my brother and I played with He-Man and Skeletor. She-Ra is actually He-Man’s twin, so obviously there are a lot of similarities between the two.
Shirt Tales – When we were kids, my mom sewed a bunch of stuffed animals from patterns for all of us, including several Care Bears (there must have been between ten and twenty which was awesome because we could line them all up for a Care Bear stare) and a few of the characters from Shirt Tales. Just like the Care Bears were based of popular American Greetings cards characters, the Shirt Tales were based off of characters created for Hallmark. I only remember watching the show once or twice, but I thought it was awesome because it featured one of my stuffed animals. I also remember that they had a really cool car that they drove around in, which according to Wikipedia, is the “STSST (Shirt Tales’ SuperSonic Transport) which could operate as a car, jet, boat, submarine, and just about any other form of imaginable ride”. Nice.
Smurfs – I have fond memories of the Smurfs, and Gargamel was one of my favorite villains. This was another show that we rented recently from Netflix, and it was kind of funny to go back and watch it again. We enjoyed that the Smurfs could use the word “smurf” as any type of word, but depending on the context they used it in it often sounded like those innocent little blue creatures were swearing. I was also surprised to find out that Smurfette was originally created by Gargamel, and she wasn’t always the sweet little thing she is now. How smurfy of them.
Snorks – I loved the Snorks, and I wanted to be just like AllStar. He was your typical Renaissance Snork, who, “as well as being athletic and heroic, he’s interested in Science and also an inventor”. Not too bad for a little underwater creature that hung out with seahorses. When my mom used to take use to the genealogy library at church when we were little, we rented a tape of Snorks from the nearby Dillon’s supermarket one time, which was totally awesome. Personally, I think the Snorks were much cooler than the Smurfs, and interestingly, they were both created in Belgium.
Strawberry Shortcake – this may have been the first of the 80s cartoons to feature characters that were created for greetings cards. I remember my sister being a big Strawberry Shortcake fan, and she even had a Strawberry Shortcake bike, which was the same bike I learned to ride on. From my perspective, this was one of the more tolerable girl cartoons, and even today my three-year-old daughter knows who Strawberry Shortcake is. Be warned that watching this show can make you hungry, though, although you wouldn’t want to eat Strawberry Shortcake or any of her friends like Huckleberry Pie, Blueberry Muffin, or Lemon Meringue. Even though they have delicious-sounding names, it’s still considered cannibalism.
Although I certainly enjoy other teams (including the nearby Colorado Rockies, who I always watched on TV after we moved to New Mexico from Missouri), my favorite baseball team is the Kansas City Royals. A couple of weeks ago, Brian wondered how anyone could enjoy being a Kansas City Royals fan. Earlier this month, ESPN.com had an article about the failure dynasties, a list of five baseball teams that has earned a recent reputation for failure. Given that the Royals haven’t been to the playoffs since I started following them (I was four the last time they were in the playoffs, the year they won it all), why should I be interested in a team that hasn’t put up big numbers or employed superstars? Wouldn’t it be more enjoyable to just find a favorite player and follow him through his career, or adopt some new team who has more recent success stories?
It’s hard to explain why I like the Royals, but it all started when I was a kid. While I was growing up in Missouri, something about baseball struck a chord with me. We played baseball a lot with our neighbors in the field across the street from our house, and even though there were only four or five of us playing it was one of my favorite things to do. Tyler was a Cubs fan (probably because you could see so many of their games on WGN), Ray was a Cardinals fan, and I was a Royals fan. I chose the Royals because I liked their players and they were fairly close to where we lived so we could see some of their games on TV during the year. The sports section of the Joplin Globe often included stories about the Royals, and I read every one of them.
When we lived in Missouri I became more and more interested in baseball. The Royals were the third best team in baseball in 1989, just missing the playoffs. One of my favorite Christmas presents ever was the video game RBI Baseball 2 for the Nintendo. I collected a lot of baseball cards when I was a kid, memorized the statistics, and kept track of the players, but I kept my Royals cards in a separate binder, with all the George Brett cards at the front. In fourth grade we had to do a large research project for school, and I chose the Royals as my topic. My mom saw a note in the newspaper saying that two of the Royals players were going to visit a local bank, and they would be signing autographs! I thought this would be the perfect highlight to my Royals report, but unfortunately the players weren’t able to make it. I was disappointed, but they did send some autographed photos to hand out to the fans who showed up, which I promptly added to the cover of my Royals baseball card binder.
The Royals remind me of being a kid again. My family went to two Royals games when I was a kid, and I won’t forget how fun that was. My dad took us back once since we moved away, and I had just as much fun as I did when I was a kid. I loved Little League when I was little, and I was fascinated by the fact that Mickey Mantle played in the same town that I did when he was a minor leaguer for the Yankees. I continued playing baseball even until high school, and I loved every bit of it.
So fast forward to now. My favorite players from when I was a kid have all gone, but I’m still with the Royals. It’s been a while since they were very good, but that doesn’t stop me from following their team. I cheered with them through all their 100-loss seasons. Recently it’s been much easier because the Royals have some young talent that seems to be getting better all the time. I don’t only enjoy it because they win. Following a winning team isn’t what being a sports fan is about, it’s about being a kid again. It doesn’t take a playoff berth or a World Series banner for me to get excited about a team, although I don’t discount how exciting that can be for their fans. In my book baseball means fun from March to October. There are highs and lows for sure, but I’ll take a sweep of the Tigers any day over an over-hyped, over-paid team.
If the 90’s were about music, then the 80’s were definitely about cartoons, at least when viewed through the eyes of my elementary-school self. I used to love watching these cartoons, and in some cases, I still do. Here’s a bunch of them I remember fondly:
Alvin and the Chipmunks – My favorite was the cartoon movie, in which they got to travel around the world. My brother, sister, and I always watched that one when we were kids, possibly because it was recorded onto one of our favorite VHS tapes of all time, which also had our own copy of Star Wars.
Captain N: The Game Master – I loved this show, probably because it was pretty much an extended Nintendo commercial. If memory serves me (and it might not, given that I spent much of my childhood watching TV and playing video games) this was one of my favorite shows because the main character was magically transported into his TV where he was part of the video game. It doesn’t get cooler than that.
Care Bears – Say what you will, but this show was awesome, and so were its two 80’s cartoon movies. My mom sewed stuffed animals for us of nearly all of the characters (again, if memory serves, there must have been at least a hundred… or maybe just a couple of dozen…). My siblings and I used to get out all the Care Bears and line them all up to do their patented Care Bear Stare against Shredder or Cobra Commander or some other evil action figure, leaving the villain helpless.
C.O.P.S. – This show is about fighting crime in a future time. Although it was in some ways just another 30-minute toy commercial, this show had a great cast of good guys vs. bad guys. A year or so ago I bought a copy of the first season for my brother and I must say that I’m jealous. The shows were still interesting and funny (in a retro sort of way), and I remembered most of the important characters and even which minor characters that had been my favorites as a kid. I remember playing outside in the yard pretending that we were these characters, and I can definitely say that happened more than once.
DangerMouse – What I remember most about this show are the theme song (very awesome) and the sidekick that always said “Oh, Crumbs”. These two facts alone make this show worthy of being included in this list. Also it was British.
DuckTales – Another cartoon that produced another great movie. I’m not sure how many ways Uncle Scrooge could lose his money or how many times Launchpad McQuack could crash a plane without losing his job, but we always tuned in to find out.
Garfield and Friends – This show was great. I think I actually liked the U.S. Acres part of the show more, mostly because of Roy the rooster. That guy was crazy. Also, Binky the Clown was crazy (and had a voice surprisingly similar to Roy’s). This show generated the greatest birthday song of all time (as sung by Binky “Heeeeeey Caaat!!!!” the Clown):
“Happy birthday, happy birthday, whoop-dee-doo, whoop-dee-doo! May your day be pleasant, open up your present. Just for you! Just for you!
We watched this show religiously on Saturdays growing up, and we still quote it to this day. That’s staying power.
G.I. Joe – Although most of the characters went through months and months of training, none of them could shoot a laser weapon. OK, maybe it’s the lasers that were defective, but either way, there were never casualties in the world of G.I. Joe. That’s the world of 1980s children’s television: every show must have a moral and no one can die (with the notable exception of one Optimus Prime from Transformers). Even with all that, little kids don’t know the difference, and so my brother and I used to pretend we were Duke or Snake-Eyes all the time. I don’t remember pretending we were transforming robots very often (that’s what action figures are for).
Heathcliff – When you hear the name Heathcliff, do you think of a character from Wuthering Heights, a former All-Star pitcher in Major League Baseball, or a cat? I usually think of the cat, and it’s all thanks to his great song. Perhaps it should be added that I never think about the character from Wuthering Heights. Thanks a lot, Heathcliff. I’ll never get that song out of my head.
Inspector Gadget – What kid didn’t love Inspector Gadget? With the voice of Don Adams from Get Smart and powers that RoboCop would envy, Inspector Gadget was the best crime fighter ever. Except for Penny and Brain, of course. I think it’s also a requirement for these shows to have awesome theme songs. Inspector Gadget was no exception.
M.A.S.K. – This show rocked. If you haven’t seen it, you’re really missing out. Of all of these, it’s only second to Transformers, and that might just be because I was actually able to collect some of the Transformers toys when I was young. You see, my brother, our neighbor Tyler, and I were obsessed with this show and we wanted all of the action figures. We each had a favorite character, and each character on the show had his own helmet that gave him super powers. We watched reruns of this show on WGN, and by the time we were really into it the toys had come and gone from the stores. Every morning we searched through the classifieds for people selling these toys, but tragically, my brother and I never found them. Our only consolation is that now we have poor-quality recordings of the show… why, oh why don’t they release this on DVD?
Muppet Babies – A little-known fact about this show is that it actually launched the careers of Howie Mandel and Dave Coulier. Plus it was based on a scene from The Muppets take Manhattan. I do still have one question from when I watched the show originally, however. Where on earth were these childrens’ parents?
Snorks – These amazing creatures had snorkels on their heads, which must have been for breathing. Wait, no, that can’t be right, they were all the way underwater. Odd. I remember a few things about this show, mostly something about an octopus.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – I remember when my friend brought his new favorite toy to show and tell, a Ninja Turtle action figure. Everyone (at least all the boys in the class) were really excited to see this cool toy, but I wondered to myself why it took all of them so long to catch on, and why I hadn’t brought my Turtles into class before. I can still remember my excitement after walking out of the Wal-Mart with my new favorite toys. This show gave us the best arcade game of all time, and two-and-a-half great movies (TMNT was actually pretty good, and I try to forget the third movie because it didn’t have a cool rap from either Vanilla Ice or M.C. Hammer).
ThunderCats – I’ll always remember a trip we took to visit my relatives in Nebraska, but aside from a cool childrens’ museum we went to, the only thing I remember about this trip was that my cousins really liked ThunderCats. Tragically I never was able to watch them much as a kid, but I certainly remember Lion-O and Tygra fighting against the evil whats-their-names.
Transformers – This show is definitely back, thanks to its former popularity among the children of the 1980s. This was the king of 30-minute toy commercials, and if you didn’t have Transformer toys as a kid, you weren’t cool. My grandma used to go to garage sales a lot, and she had a knack for finding lots of these toys discarded by children whose parents didn’t recognize the coolness factor of having every Transformer ever, especially the ones that were part of larger robots made up of four or five Transformers. This was definitely my favorite 80’s cartoon, and I’m even the proud owner of all of the box sets that made up of the original series. That’s right, Hasbro. Your 30-minute toy commercials worked.
Voltron, Defender of the Universe – Although he was always the lesser of the transforming robots in my mind, Voltron was still a great show. In college a bunch of us found some old Voltron tapes and watched them, which made us the coolest people on our dorm floor. The plots are familiar and the endings were cheesy, but isn’t that what the 1980s cartoons were all about?
I recently found myself looking through my CD collection. In high school, I had a boring job. Sure, it was fun at times, but too often we ran out of real work and they stuck my friend Bill and I in a room to do menial tasks like counting the number of pages in documents. Boring. We quickly found that a solution was to buy a new CD every week or so, and that made things fun. It’s also the reason I have songs like It’s the End of the World As We Know It memorized, and because of that, I can be a lot of fun at parties.
Here is a list of the World’s Blankiest 90’s Albums, which is basically just a trip down nostalgia lane for me. The only restrictions I make is that the CD had to be released in the US during the 90’s, and that it had to have more than one song on it that I loved to listen to. Oh, the memories.
They Might Be Giants – Flood (Jan 1990)
I fell in love with this album when I heard it as the background music on an episode of Tiny Toon Adventures. That was the coolest episode of a cartoon ever. Later, I bought the album for my little brother, but I think I listened to it nearly as much as he did. This one was rather popular for family car trips, and I thank my mom for listening to it with us. She couldn’t keep up with the lyrics of Letterbox like we could (not that well), but she didn’t go crazy while we listened to it on repeat over and over. And that’s not even one of the better tracks on the album. I just got word that Tiny Toons is going to be released on DVD – and you can certainly bet that I’ll be rewatching that crazy episode again and again.
Counting Crows – August and Everything After (Sep 1993)
Some have suggested that the older Counting Crows music is not as good as the newer stuff. They are wrong, because this CD is the best Counting Crows CD ever. Period. I was introduced to this CD on a foreign exchange trip to Russia – my friend Ellen let me borrow her walkman and it had the song Omaha on it, which remains my favorite Counting Crows song to this day. Their top three are all on this CD, which also include Round Here and Mr. Jones. The band definitely has some other great music, but to think that these songs aren’t nearly as good as the new stuff? Preposterous!
Ace of Base – The Sign (Nov 1993)
Should I be ashamed to put this CD on the list? No, I should not. The electronic beats from this crazy EuroPop group got stuck in my head, and I could not get them out. It could be because Aaron and I listened to some of the songs on repeat, leaving his sister’s CD with a small mark on the back from being read by a laser continuously for hours. I’ll let you decide if that’s an exaggeration. You’re only a kid once, right? At least I enjoyed it. One final note: does anyone know what an Ace of Base is? Does it have anything to do with that Internet meme?
Live – Throwing Copper (Apr 1994)
In my high school chemistry class, one of the students mentioned to me that a new Live CD was coming out. I was excited because not only did I actually know who Live was, but I already owned one of their CDs. That album (Secret Samadhi) wasn’t nearly as good as this one, though, because this one was awesome. It’s possible that this isn’t their greatest CD (which might be Birds of Pray), but this one really is good and the tracks still find their way onto my playlist.
Weezer – Weezer (The Blue Album) (May 1994)
Even though this wasn’t the first CD I bought, it was the first cassette tape I bought. We were on a trip in Middle School to Washington, D.C., and I bought this with some of my souvenir money. I have never since regretted that purchase, even though I no longer own a cassette player (unless you count the one in my wife’s car). We listened to this album on some of our Scouting trips, too, which was fun because we all knew the words. Even better, the music video to Buddy Holly was included on the Windows 95 CD-ROM, and because that music video included footage from Happy Days, that meant that I could even get my mom to watch it.
Hootie & the Blowfish – Cracked Rear View (Jul 1994)
Up until college, I had only heard these songs on the radio. A lot. I had also seen a million used copies of this CD for sale. I thought that meant that everyone hated it, but this album sold more than any other in 1995. Yeah, a lot more. It went 16 times platinum. I liked it OK back then, but today I like it even more, thanks partially to my college roommate’s all-Hootie playlist. The constant playing of Hootie drove me to the verge of renouncing the band forever, but then the Blowfish reached out his hand and welcomed me back to the land of deep vocals. I expect to be reprimanded shortly for referring to “Hootie” and “The Blowfish” separately, but that joke never gets old.
Dave Matthews Band – Under the Table and Dreaming (Sep 1994)
Dave Matthews is a crazy man, I’ll admit it. That doesn’t make me dislike his music, however. My wife is not a fan, but I still enjoy his music, which my friend Bill had to remind me in a recent road trip. This is my favorite of the Dave Matthews Band albums, but their stuff with Tim Reynolds is also awesome. I had the pleasure of joining a few of my high school friends to a Dave & Time concert in Albuquerque, and it still ranks as the best concert I have ever been to.
Collective Soul – Collective Soul (Mar 1995)
They’ve got other good stuff, too, but this album from Collective Soul was the first one I really got into. Their earlier album Hints, Allegations, and Things Left Unsaid was also good, but this one was great. There are a lot of good songs on this album, and I thank my sister for replacing one that had been scratched. She borrowed my CDs while I served as an LDS Missionary in Argentina, and I think it’s largely because of the Collective Soul CDs that she even wanted them.
The Goo Goo Dolls – A Boy Named Goo (Mar 1995)
This is by far the best band name of those on this list. I don’t know what a Goo Goo Doll is, but maybe that’s the point. Songs from this album played on the radio every morning on our drive to Seminary. This CD is great to listen to because so many of the songs have a different sound. Some of my friends went to their concert back in high school, and I hear they sounded horrible. I guess that’s why they have studio albums, because this one is awesome. Also, I had never realized that this CD and Collective Soul were released on the same day. Not a bad day for good music, was it?
The Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (Oct 1995)
For me, it’s a toss-up to include this album or Siamese Dream. I chose this one because you got two CDs for the price of one, and thus it has more favorite tracks. I’m pretty sure Billy Corgan was going for some greater message here, but I just enjoyed the music. I remember listening to this album with my brother and sister in our old kitchen back not long after we first got our family CD player, which was a lot of fun. Looking back over the tracks, there were definitely a lot of misses here, but the CD had so many good songs overall that it has kept its spot in my CD collection.
Better Than Ezra – Friction, Baby (Aug 1996)
This was one of the first CDs I purchased with my own money. I got it not long after it came out, and I purchased it with money from my paper route. I felt like I was making adult decisions with my money, and that was very exciting. This was a great album, and I have since discovered much more of their great music. This was around the time that my parents bought each of us our own CD player for Christmas, and I wore mine out playing CDs like this one.
Matchbox Twenty – Yourself or Someone Like You (Oct 1996)
This CD is awesome. I never thought one album could have so many songs that did so well on the radio, and for so long. “Real World” and “3 A.M.” are still some of my favorite songs, and as an added benefit the album had an awesome cover. That guy is really crazy looking. The songs really are classics, though, and they can still be heard all over the airwaves, especially with so many of them being re-released as part of the album Exile on Mainstream.
Our Lady Peace – Clumsy (Apr 1997)
Our Lady Peace has a distinct sound, especially in the vocals. I love it. I’m pretty sure they could use anything for lyrics and it’d be awesome. And no, they’re not yelling. Well, no, maybe they are. Either way, this was a great CD, and although it wasn’t their first, it was a my own introduction to their music. I can still remember when I bought this CD in downtown Albuquerque in high school on a trip for Academic Decathlon, and for some reason I can remember the lyrics to these songs much better than all that classical music I was supposed to memorize.
All in all, these were some great CDs. I can’t wait until my daughter starts to call them “Oldies”. That will be really weird.