Greatest Article Bits
A tribute to my seven favorite articles I have written in almost a year.
For the past year, I have been a member of retrojunk.com. I have rediscovered my childhood by watching old commercials and TV show intros. Through the discussion forum, I was able to find out the title of a rare movie that I had not seen since I was in third grade. One of the features I have been able to take advantage of is "Writer's Corner". What I am presenting in this article are bits and pieces of my top 7 favorite articles.
7. Nicktoons Anniversary
I somehow had the idea to write an article on the primary Nicktoons, Doug, Rugrats, and Ren and Stimpy. Since this was my first article, I wanted to put my best foot forward. Looking back on it, I could have written it a lot better and fixed all the spelling and grammar errors before submission. The next day actually marked the fifteenth anniversary of each of their premieres. I had written this article on the night of August 10, 2006 and wanted to finish it up just before midnight. I now present some excerpts from the section I wrote on Doug, my absolute favorite original Nicktoon.
Doug-The show about a pre-adolescent boy and his adventures in fictional Bluffington.
Doug was my role model at 8 years old in 1991. If it hadn't been for him, I would have been another Bart Simpson.
Doug had an active imagination, which usually helped to provide premises for the stories, å la Walter Mitty. He had alternate personalities such as Quailman and Smash Adams (an homage to James Bond).
The most unusual feature of the show was the various skin colors of each character, although most of which had “Caucasian Personalities”. There were characters that were black (Patti), white (Doug), blue (Skeeter), green (Roger), tan (Mayor White), and purple (Beebe).
Like every young man on the verge of adolescence, he dealt with issues such as first school dance, first crush (Patti Mayonnaise, which she never knows about), first kiss (Not from Patti, but from Beebe), and first pimple.
The series lasted from 1991 to 1994 for Nickelodeon, but got picked up by Disney from 1996 to 1999. I don't think Disney's Doug was very good. For one thing, Disney couldn't get Billy West to do the voices of Doug and Roger.
6. Loma Prieta Earthquake
This article was innovative for me in that it combined personal narrative and historical fact into one package. This was a first, and sadly a last for me. Perhaps it was a little too bold to write. After recently posting this, the article hasn’t received a particularly high score or very many comments because it was something that happened locally, although it became a huge news story in 1989. I have not seen the Full House episode “Aftershocks” yet, which premiered nearly two months after the Loma Prieta earthquake, which is why I did not include it my article.
Not since 1906 had Northern California experienced such devastation caused by an earthquake. Almost everybody who has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for the past twenty years remembers where he or she was when the “Big One” occurred on October 17, 1989 at 5:04 PM Pacific Daylight Time. Measured at 7.1 on the Richter scale, the quake lasted approximately 15 seconds and was followed by several aftershocks.
My family and I did not live too far from the epicenter of the Loma Prieta Earthquake.
I had waited outside for my mom and sister, sitting on the cold asphalt driveway, staring straight ahead at the tall trees in front of our house. As I felt a jolt in the ground, I saw the top of one of the trees break off. I got up and ran back in the house and found my sister and mom sitting by the front door.
“What’s going on?!” I asked.
“It’s an earthquake Adam! Here, get on the floor with me and your sister!” shouted my mom.
I sat down next to them and we all huddled up for safety until it was over.
The worst thing to happen to our house was the collapse of the chimney, which was common among many homes affected by Loma Prieta. The rest of the house was not so badly damaged. California has had earthquakes after 1989, but the San Francisco Bay Area has not had another one with that great of an impact since then.
In the end, the Loma Prieta Earthquake left 62 people dead, 3,757 injured, and more than 12,000 homeless.
5. Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
This article was one in a series of “informative articles” I had written in one month. I didn’t really write about any specific memories because I have gone there so much that the experience every time has become somewhat repetitive. Like Loma Prieta Earthquake, I was able to go as far back as the beginning of the twentieth century.
Anybody who lives in or near Santa Cruz, California has seen, heard of, or visited the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk at one point in time. This summer, the wildly popular amusement park is celebrating its centennial. For as long as I can remember, I've gone to the Beach Boardwalk, usually with my family, to ride on rides, play arcade games, miniature golf, or laser tag, and eat cotton candy.
The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk has remained fresh in the minds of many people by introducing many new attractions through advertisement and undergoing extensive renovation throughout the years.
The boardwalk has been used in such films as “The Lost Boys”, “Killer Klowns From Outer Space”, “Sudden Impact”, and “Dangerous Minds”, as well as countless television commercials. One commercial I remember in particular featuring the boardwalk was a 3-minute spot for Levi’s Big Jeans in 1991.
This was my second article, and trying to write a follow up can be a little difficult because of the desire to make it just as good as its predecessor. In the part where I say “The Cove”, it was actually called Copper Cove on Lake Tulloch in Copperopolis, CA. If you attempted to go there now, all you will find is a boat storage unit. I really did not have much to say about Xybots in this article. I wish I had had some pictures of Copper Cove to remember it by because it was a big part of my childhood.
It was an arcade game developed by Atari in 1987. The objective was to move through three-dimensional mazes and fight enemy robots known as Xybots and try to battle the Master Xybot. Players could choose either Major Rock Hardy, or Captain Ace Gunn, or both heroes simultaneously to fight the xybots and save mankind. This game takes me way back to my childhood. I was about five years old when I first played it. My grandparents had owned a restaurant and bar at the time that they called “The Cove” near a lake, which they later sold in 1999.
In 1991, my grandparents’ Cove caught on fire from a cigarette that had not been put out properly before it was thrown in the trashcan. Thankfully, there were no deaths or injuries reported. Two years later, the Cove was finally rebuilt. One of the items saved from the fire was the Xybots game.
My grandparents put it in their patio near their pool for their grandchildren to play. Whenever I go to their house to visit, the door to the coin slot is always open and anyone can push on a tiny metal coin acceptor and give himself or herself as many or as little credits as he or she wishes.
3. Freestyle Music
In this article, I wanted to write about a music genre I used to listen to on the radio. I may have left out Brenda K Starr, who was an important artist to freestyle music in the late 80s, but I really did not know how to include her in my article. Starr is best known for her ballad “I Still Believe” in 1989, which was covered by pop diva Mariah Carey ten years later.
It is widely unknown where the name “Freestyle” comes from, referring to the popular dance music genre that came out of the 1980s. Some consider it "rollerskating music" because of its appeal in roller rinks. I consider it "latin-infused techno music” because of its synthesized latin grooves and innocent vocals. I may have missed out on the nightclub scene in the 80s or live performances of any of these freestyle acts due to my age, but I am able to at least appreciate the music of the past, today.
Formed out of Miami, Florida, [Exposé’s] 1987 debut album “Exposure” went multi-platinum. Their hit single, “Point of No Return” featured keyboard riffs, a sing-along chorus, and a break beat drum pattern.
A re-recorded version featuring the new lineup was released in the summer of 1987. Exposé had paved the way for other female freestyle acts such as Cover Girls, Company B, and Sweet Sensation.
*Taylor Dayne (real name Leslie Wunderman) had a hit album and single “Tell It To My Heart” in 1987. Although not considered a freestyle artist, “Tell It To My Heart”, the single, was very much in the style of freestyle.
*Minneapolis-based synthpop group Information Society released “What’s On Your Mind (Pure Energy)” in 1988, which contains a sample of a Star Trek episode with Mr. Spock saying “pure energy”.
My purpose in this article was to take what I had known of and experienced back in 1991, and apply knowledge to how those things have changed over time or what I have learned from them later on in life. I may have left out movies and the Gulf War, but I really did not have much to say about either of those. Being 8 years old back then, I knew nothing about the war in the Middle East. Also, the only movies I remember seeing at the movie theater that year were “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Addams Family.”
It may have been only been the second year of the last decade of the twentieth century, but 1991 was my absolute favorite year to be a kid in the 90s. It was the first year to be a palindrome since 1881 and last one of the millennium.
*C&C Music Factory’s “Gonna Make You Sweat”
It kicked off the whole 90s dance music scene and was the first song that got me into techno/dance music. I remember hearing it for the first time at my aunt’s apartment building one evening when a neighbor had blasted it on the stereo.
Personally, I liked this kind of music more than grunge, which came out later that year, although I admit to listening to a few songs from Nirvana and Pearl Jam.
*Michael Jackson’s “Black or White”
The 11-minute music video, or short film, as the king of pop would call it, made its world premiere on November 14, 1991. I remember very vividly watching it with my family in the living room on Fox after “The Simpsons”.
The last scene is the one I remember the most with Michael Jackson dancing in a dark alley, grabbing his crotch, smashing a car, and breaking windows, which according to him symbolized his hatred toward racism in this world. As a kid, the scene confused me very much.
*Super Nintendo vs. Sega Genesis
In 1991, Nintendo and Sega had been competing with eachother in the video game market with the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis, respectively. They were consoles for a whole new generation of video gamers.
I received a Super Nintendo on Christmas Day 1991, which came with Super Mario World and Hal’s Hole in One Golf. What I liked about the new system were the vivid colors, improved sound, and 16 bit graphics.
*Apple Macintosh Classic
In 1991, I finally got a computer of my own, an Apple Macintosh Classic. It came with basic programs such as Microsoft Word and Excel and MacPaint. I also bought programs such as “Where In The World Is Carman Sandiego”, “Kid Pix”, and “Connect Four”. Surprisingly, I had owned that computer for over six years, and it still worked well. I wish I hadn’t given it to the Good Will though.
And last, but not least…
1. The Bad Word
My little disclaimer in red at the beginning of the article says it all. I had originally written about the incident for an essay I had to write in high school. I later reused the story for a writing class I took in college last year. What I liked about this article was that it required no research of any kind. The following are my favorite excerpts to this article:
One of the most embarrassing moments of my childhood happened when I was in third grade. It was about 2:00 on a Thursday afternoon on a warm spring day in March 1992. We had run ahead of schedule and had some free time of our own for about a half an hour until the bell rang. During this time, I was having a conversation with a group of kids at the neighboring desks.
I think we had talked a little about television because I remember talking about shows on Fox at the time like The Simpsons and Drexell's Class. Somewhere in our conversation, I said a bad word. I honestly forget what word I used, what letter it started with, how I used it in a sentence, or even what it meant. These kids gasped in horror. One of them gave me this gesture by rubbing one of his index fingers against the other, which of course means “shame on you.”
One of the kids ran back to my desk and said, in a snotty tone of voice, “Adam, Mrs. Woods wants to see you after class. She says you’re in big trouble.” Kids these days can get away with saying any bad word, but when I was a boy, if the most mild of bad words like “damn” or “hell” was uttered in school, the kid who said that would have to have a serious talk with the teacher or even the principal.
“Little boys do not use bad words! How would you like to have your mouth washed out with soap?”
For my punishment, as an extra homework assignment, I had to write a paragraph on a piece of paper on what I did in class that day and why it was inappropriate behavior.
After coming home and being told of the incident, my dad gave me a little lecture about bad word usage and how some bad words can hurt people, which I really did not want to sit through.
Both my parents made me do the extra homework assignment. Instead of writing only a paragraph, my dad made me write a whole page.
I have really written nine articles on retrojunk (excluding this one), and the two articles I excluded from my “Greatest Bits” piece are Beavis and Butthead and Fox Scare. Although I got a high score on Beavis and Butthead, the article, it really wasn’t anything special because I wasn’t really presenting any new information, except:
After seeing [Frog Baseball] for the first couple of times, I can honestly say that I have never laughed harder at any other cartoon short in my entire life.
Beavis’ look was actually based on Mike Judge’s crude illustrations of singer Barry Manilow.
For the article Fox Scare, there was nothing retro about it whatsoever, which is why it was banished to “The Back Page”. It had been a long time since I had written anything. All I was trying to do was voice my opinion about the ongoing controversy over copyright infringement on youtube and unfortunately I posted it at the wrong place. I completely regret writing that article now.
So concludes my “Greatest Article Bits” article. Anybody reading this piece may arrange my top seven articles in a different way, or may agree with how I arranged them on the list. I am unsure whether I will write another article on retrojunk or not, seeing that I have covered everything retro or “semi-retro” that I can think and write about extensively.