A blog dedicated to things that sucked (and didn't suck) about the 1980's

  • Welcome to thefabulous80's - A blog dedicated to the things that sucked and didn't suck about the 1980's.

    I'm Peter, the primary editor of this blog. The point of this blog is to post light-hearted articles about the high and low points of the 1980's from multiple authors.

    Hopefully this blog doesn't suck.

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Posts Tagged ‘General 80’s Reminiscing’

Didn’t Suck: Admiral Ackbar

Posted by PJC on July 9, 2012


[I recently spent the long holiday weekend with my significant other’s family. Her fabulous family includes a 5 year old child who, like other boys in his age group along with my 6 and 8 year old nephews, is infatuated with Star Wars. Sadly, these poor children grew up on the Jar-Jar Binks era of Star Wars. We had Han Solo, Ewoks and the Dagobah System. Which begs the following question: why on Earth has it taken me this long to write on something Star Wars related? Clearly I have dropped the ball on this one.]

In 1983, Revenge of the Jedi (Star Wars Episode VI) was released and contained, by far, the best character of all the Star Wars movies: Admiral Ackbar.

Admiral Ackbar

Leader of the Rebel Alliance, Admiral Ackbar is “officially” considered a “Mon Calamari” (whatever the hell that is). As you can see above, he resembles a cross between a lungfish and a squid. If you’ve never seen Return of the Jedi, Admiral Ackbar essentially leads the Rebel Alliance in its last stand against the Empire, represented by a ginormous space station (a.k.a. the “Death Star”). But, the good Admiral led the Alliance into an ambush…..or as he stated so eloquently in the movie….IT’S A TRAP! 

While flying around the Empire’s space station with his fleet of Rebel ships, the Death Star takes out a whole ship (the Rebels’ equivalent of an aircraft carrier) with a single shot, then the Admiral acts surprised about the Death Star’s firepower, and how the fleet is unable to repel it. Way to go Admiral, it has the same weaponry as the Death Star that the Rebel Alliance took out years earlier in Episode IV. Guess you didn’t do your homework before leading your whole fleet into battle? In the end, all his ships with all their lasers couldn’t do sh*t against the death star, it was brought down remotely by a bunch of primitive furry creatures wielding sticks and rocks. (I didn’t write it, don’t ask me).

In years subsequent to the movie’s release, Admiral Ackbar has become something of a cult following with countless plays on his famous line from the movie. Apparently, after leaving the Rebel Alliance (perhaps a dishonorable discharge?) the Admiral tried many professions, ultimately failing at each of them. For awhile, he tried his hand as a Barista:

Admiral Ackbar: The Coffee Maker.

Then he hit the lecture circuit, but quickly grew tired of discussing the same topic:

After that, he went into the food service business…

…then finally retired.

However, Admiral Ackbar‘s popularity has likely grown well beyond anything intended by George Lucas’ in the last couple decades. Perhaps my favorite fact about this character is the following:

In 2010, the students of the University of Mississippi (that’s “Ole Miss”) started a campaign to institute Admiral Ackbar as the official mascot of the college since the school had gone 7 years without one. [I digress for a moment for a little factoid on American History. Ole Miss’ teams are referred to as the “Rebels.” See, south of the Mason-Dixon line, the Civil War was not the Civil War, it was the War of Northern Aggression. The brave men who fought for states’ rights were rebels, not confederates. Well, who better to be the mascot of the Ole Miss Rebels than the leader of the Rebel Alliance himself? Makes sense to me…]

Soon, this campaign gained national attention, including ESPN, and endorsed by LucasFilms. A short expose on the student efforts [note the Admiral’s figure on the University President’s desk]:

What an awesome idea. Admiral Ackbar would make a sweet mascot. Sure as hell beats the former mascot of Ole Miss; the Kentucky Fried Chicken producing, plantation owning “Colonel Reb.”

Colonel Reb: Not exactly a mascot that encourages diversity…

Sadly, Admiral Ackbar lost the mascot competition, too. But, I argue, his spirit lives on in each of us.

Admiral Ackbar 2012.


Posted in 80's Movies / Movie Characters, Didn't Suck | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Didn’t Suck: President Reagan

Posted by PJC on June 29, 2012

By: PJC.

The Reagan years. The 80’s (most of them at least). Staying in recent news in 2012 for a minute, the GOP has backed their horse and so we enter another presidential campaign season filled with countless, useless rhetoric leading up a November when Americans head to the voting booth to elect the person they hate the least for President. So, why not write an article about one of the primary reasons why the 80’s were so fantastic, economically?

Not to mention the last time Americans of all political persuasions actually backed a single candidate (Fun fact: in 1984, Reagan won every single state except for Minnesota, the home state of his opponent).

Reagan Official Portriat

President Reagan – always well dressed for God and Country.

Listen up, America.

The purpose of this blog is not to get political. In my writing, I’m advocating for neither donkeys nor elephants here. But let’s face it, George W. and Barack H. have been absolutely atrocious leaders of this country. The last decade, give or take, has given us high inflation, a horrendous deficit, lack of control over government spending and lack of respect from the rest of the world.

President Reagan, however, presided over an era which gave us the following highlights among countless achievements:

Car Phones:

Car Phone

1980’s Car Phones. Always convenient, always handy. Always just $5.99 / minute.

Magnum, PI:

The pinnacle of television programming, as far as I’m concerned.

Bull Markets:

Bull on Wall Street

Yes, there is a ginormous bronze bull statue near Wall Street in NYC. Yes, businessmen often rub their briefcases on the bull for good luck. Yes, it has anatomically correct balls. No, I don’t think they rub their briefcases on the balls.

Responsible Spending in Government:

Reagan Taxes

Reagan addressing the nation on his tax plan in the early 80’s during which time he reduced taxes for both the highest and lowest income brackets in the country. Brilliant.

But wait, there’s more. This guy was just all-around kick-ass. Not only was he an accomplished actor, he was a captain in the U.S. Army during the war then went on to become Governor of California, one of the most liberal (and awesome) states in the Union. In 1981, he survived being shot by lunatic John Hinckley (who also shot a secret service agent, a cop and Reagan’s press secretary in the same attempt). As mentioned above, on his presidential re-election bid in 1984, he won every state except Minnesota, the home state of his opponent Walter Mondale.

Reagan: Kicking serious electoral ass nation-wide.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have such a universally liked candidate in 2012? I leave you with an absolutely hilarious depiction of Reagan from Family Guy:

“Mr. Gobachev: Tear down this wall! TEAR IT DOWN!”

Posted in "Bitchin' Technology" from the 1980's, 80's Politics, Didn't Suck | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Sucked: Having to Record Songs from the Radio a.k.a. 1980’s Napster

Posted by PJC on August 3, 2011


My keyboard has been silent since March. Perhaps the world is better off but, regardless, welcome back for another installment of “thefabulous80s.”

Today’s article features an old trick that we had to rely upon when we really liked a song but couldn’t afford to drop $1.50 on the cassette single, which was likely for sale at “The Wherehouse” (remember those?) or Sam Goody.

The Wherehouse Logo

"The Wherehouse" - Where People Got Their Music in the 80's

For us music piracy felons in the 1980’s, we didn’t have the internet, Napster, a computer, CD’s that burned a full album in 5 minutes or anything else that delivered stolen music to us quickly. Instead we had the following:


Maxell Compact Cassette Tape - Classic 80's Icon

1980's Boombox

Boombox with Recording Capability

Radio Tower

Analog Radio

And if you were SUPER rad, you had a boom box with dual cassette decks so that you could record from cassette to cassette. (of course, if you lacked a boom box with dual cassette, there was always the technique which you thought you were so clever for thinking of: “Hey, lets just put two boomboxes next to each with the speakers facing. I’ll play the tape on one, and hit record on the other and record it through the mic. Ya….you can’t tell the difference, almost the same quality!”)

However, what about that one song you wanted, but none of your friends had the cassette? You raided your parents cassettes, but all they had was Bruce Hornsby & The Range and Neil Diamond’s Greatest Hits, Vol. II (the awful one with “Coming to America” on it) seen here:

Neil Diamond v. 2


1980’s Napster:

So that really left one option: record the song from the radio. Listen to your favorite radio station on the boombox until your song happens to come on.. and then hit the record button… and hopefully you have the cassette loaded… and hopefully its already in the spot where you want to start recording. And so then it starts recording. You’re about a minute into the song, everything seems to be going great and you’re feeling pretty smart (despite the fact that the first 5-10 seconds of the song probably aren’t captured on the recording) and you start losing reception RIGHT AT YOUR FAVORITE PART! So you hurriedly move the antenna on the boom box back and forth, which may require moving it off the shelf because the damn antenna is 3 feet long and you need a full extension to get rid of the static, but you can’t because the shelf above the boom box is in the way.

So after all that, the song is now approaching its end….but well before the fade-out, the DAMN D.J. starts talking and you hurriedly hit stop. Stupid D.J… totally ruined my tape.

The Result? 

A copy of your song which was captured by the boombox microphone recording the sound coming out of the speakers and missing about 25-30 seconds of it over all (including the time it took you to finally get to the boombox and hit record when it came on and the time you had to cut off the end once the DJ came on), placed randomly in the middle of your cassette tape that you likely have recorded over at least 20 times before, reducing the quality even further.

HORRIBLE quality.

EVEN WORSE if you did the boombox-to-boombox recording.

But hey, you saved $1.50. And, you got a 12-pack of TDK 90 minute tapes for dirt cheap at Price Club (this is what Costco was called in the 1980’s – refer to it as such to the free samples lady next time you’re there and I guarantee you you’ll get a free extra sample of the ravioli they’re pitching that day), so you’re golden.

Posted in "Bitchin' Technology" from the 1980's, Sucked | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Didn’t Suck: The Red Spot on Gorbachev’s Head

Posted by PJC on March 8, 2011

By: PJC.

This article is being written in red font because, well, it involves the last communist leader of the Soviet Union. I’m talking of course about Mikhail Gorbachev. Let me run through, for a moment, a very abridged list of this man’s multitude of accomplishments:

  • Awarded Nobel Peace Price in 1990
  • General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
  • Perestroika
  • Glasnost
  • Repeal of the Brezhnev Doctrine
  • Playing a crucial role in reducing nuclear weapons and ending the cold war
  • Democratization of the USSR.

Clearly a very impressive man. Despite each of those accomplishments being worthy of their own article, this article focuses on something much more memorable about him. The thing I (and, I submit, everyone else) will remember about Secretary Gorbachev first and foremost? That huge red spot on top of his balding head. In case you missed it, this is it:


Gorbachev and his red spot.

Think I’m being ridiculous? Ask anyone you know who was alive during this period of time to name 1 physical characteristic about Gorbachev. I guarantee 99.9% of the people you ask will say the red spot. I’m not exaggerating. Remember how he was portrayed in the Simpsons?


Gorbachev in the Simpsons

It’s no joke. The thing was massive. It was this guy’s calling card. If this guy had a card on the Hasbro board game “Taboo,” it would look something like this:

Russian Leader
Soviet Union

[In case you’re not familiar with Taboo, the premise of this game is to get your teammate(s) to say the subject word (on the top of the card) by describing it using anything but that word or the five words (and any derivative thereof) listed on the card. My crude sketch above is an example of a card.

As an aside, when we used to play this game as a family growing up, I was the annoying little sh*t who absolutely loved  the damn buzzer. The buzzer was a AA battery-powered device with an exceedingly lame early 90’s color scheme that, when used, sounded both more pathetic and more annoying than the horn on a Honda Civic. The point of it was to hit the buzzer when someone used a word they shouldn’t have in describing the subject word, giving the other team a point. Here’s what it looked like:

Sample of a Taboo buzzer. I can't (and won't) take credit for these amazing graphics that help illustrate its annoying qualities.


 Needless to say, whenever we played this game as a family, my older brothers saw to it that not a single AA battery could be found in the entire house. But, being the annoying sh*t I was, I sometimes managed to sneak one in during the game and use it. Growing up with older brothers, I’ve been flogged by everything from a Tennis Ball to an original NES Nintendo cartridge. However, nothing guaranteed physical violence more than using this damn buzzer when they were within a square mile of me…and understandably so.]

But, I digress…back to Gorbachev.

According to Wikipedia, knower of all things, the red spot is a type of birthmark called a “naevus flammeus,” also known commonly as a “port-wine stain.” Basically, it’s a bunch of superficial and deep dilated capillaries in the skin. And, on the Wikipedia article for the Naevus Flammeus – guess who is in the main picture demonstrating an example of one? That’s right. Gorbachev. See for yourself:

So, I guess that’s all I have to say on that topic. None of the preceding was meant to be in any way disrespectful to Secretary Gorbachev. For better or for worse, the man brought about significant changes for Russia during his tenure in control.

Gorbachev's resignation speech.

Posted in 80's Politics, Didn't Suck | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Sucked: The Sony Watchman

Posted by PJC on March 6, 2011

By: PJC.

In 1982, the year this author was born, Sony unveiled its “Watchman” in North America. So here’s a really cool idea – a portable television set! You can watch your favorite TV shows anywhere, right? In your car…late night at the office…in the bleachers if you need to tune out your daughter’s field hockey game…

1982 Sony Watchman with accessories

But in hindsight, this thing sucked. It had a 1.5 inch CRT black and white screen that displayed a really unclear picture with lots of fuzz. The following is not an exaggeration: you could stand on top of a TV antenna tower on a clear day and still not get a clear picture on this thing. Plus, the thing had a ridiculously long antenna that I swear to God was at least 4-feet in length once fully extended. (Don’t let the picture above fool you, that antenna is maybe extended only a quarter of its overall length.)

Close up of a mid-80's Watchman. Shocker, its getting crappy reception.

Your math is correct – I was only in second grade when the 1980’s concluded. However my two big brothers had the privilege of experiencing this decade in their teen and high school years. [Perhaps you’re wondering why there’s an approximate 10-year age gap between my brothers and I? Well, for most of my life I suspected I was one of those “oops” babies. Turns out that’s not the case. One night at Christmas dinner a few years ago, when I was a few beers in and my father had a couple Manhattans in him, I finally asked what the deal is with the age gap. He explained to me quite bluntly that I absolutely was not an accident, I was simply ten years of negotiations with my mother and he lost. Dear Mom: Thanks for fighting the good fight.]

Ok, back to the Watchman:

I recall my older brothers got one of these for Christmas one year. I’m sure this was the mid-1980’s equivalent of the iPhone from a “bitchin’ technology” standpoint and thus everyone had to have one. But, I think once they realized how much it sucked, it got passed down to me (along with their old Iron Maiden shirts and a random LA Raiders tee-shirt which my oldest brother later re-claimed for himself…). So, for whatever reason, I thought this device was the coolest thing since sliced bread. For a period of time I dragged this thing everywhere with me, including sitting in the back of our family cruiser, (this was the days before SUV’s) our triple-silver 1988 Lincoln Town Car, trying to watch this thing on long car rides.

1988 Lincoln Town Car very similar to our family cruiser back in the day. File this car under "Didn't Suck."

I wish I could get back the combined time I wasted moving the tuning wheel ever-so-slightly to get the…on a good day….two stations that kind of came in visibly. The other 5 stations this device “received” amounted to nothing more than a tease because you could hear the audio but couldn’t see the damn picture!!!

But it had a built-in AM/FM radio that actually worked, so I suppose that was a redeeming quality. Also, I wonder if these things even work anymore since the mandatory HD upgrades that happened to Television a couple years ago which rendered old-school rabbit ears useless. Probably not. And I sincerely doubt they bothered with developing a converter for these pieces of junk.

Posted in "Bitchin' Technology" from the 1980's, Sucked | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Didn’t Suck: Gordon Gekko

Posted by PJC on March 5, 2011

By: PJC.

As the first official posting of this blog, why not start out with a classic 1980’s fictional icon? Who else, but Gordon Gekko. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, greed is good.

If this were a blog about things that sucked from the 2010’s, I’d do an article on how much the sequel Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps actually sucked. It’s not so much that the sequel was bad so much as Shia LeBeouf is HORRIBLE. He’s already got two strikes against him: he played a huge role in ruining the Indiana Jones legacy with that theatrical embarrasment that was Indiana Jones: Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and the Wall Street legacy. But, I digress.

Rather, I’m discussing the first installment by Oliver Stone, “Wall Street,” starring Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko and Charlie Sheen (in his less coked-out days with less porn stars per-capita) as Bud Fox. This movie is, without question, in the top five of the best 1980’s movies.

In this movie, Charlie Sheen’s character, Bud Fox, plays a hungry stockbroker trying to “bag the elephant” by landing Michael Douglas’ character, Gordon Gekko, as a client. A fantastic performance for Charlie Sheen who also has some great scenes with Martin Sheen, who also plays his father in the movie.

Charlie Sheen as Bud Fox

But this article isn’t about Charlie Sheen and his “Bi-Winning” personality that we have all come to aspire to these last few days. It’s about Gordon Gekko.

Gordon Gekko is a day-trader on Wall Street who makes $15,000,000 on a bad day, smokes great cigars, rides around in classic 80’s Cadillac Limos:

1983 Cadillac Fleetwood Limo


And turned 80’s stockbroker fashion into an absolute icon (that is still, arguably, fashionable today):

But perhaps the coolest thing he had was his 1980’s Motorola “cellular” phone, which will also be the topic of a future article on this blog:

Gordon Gekko's Sweet Motorola Dynatac 8000

So, if you haven’t seen the movie, I recommend you add it to your Netflix. And move it to the top of your queue.

Posted in 80's Movies / Movie Characters, Didn't Suck | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »