Pop Culture Blind Spot: Hocus Pocus

I haven’t seen Hocus Pocus. I’m an older millennial who was the perfect age to be a fan of Hocus Pocus when it came out, yet I’ve managed to still succeed in life without having seen this “cultural touchstone”.  When I say I haven’t seen it to others of my generation, there’s shock, disgust, and a response of, “You have to watch it, it’s soooo good.” Listen, I get that a lot about every movie I haven’t seen. That’s the point of these Pop Culture Blind Spots. Please stop telling me popular movies are going to be good. Anyways, you want to keep reading after my rant, right? Good.

My knowledge of Hocus Pocus: Bette Midler. Sarah Jessica Parker. Kathy Najimy. Three witches get together dressed in over-the-top costumes to hang out with kids and sing some songs. They’re probably good witches? Guys, honestly, I have no idea. People love it especially at Halloween? There’s always a rumor there’s going to be a sequel.

Actual movie description: After 300 years of slumber, three sister witches are accidentally resurrect in Salem on Halloween night, and it is up to three kids and their newfound feline friend to put an end to the witches’ reign of terror once and for all.

Sooooo they’re not good witches? Also there’s a cat involved? And no idea it took place in Salem, but that makes sense.

This is a Kenny Ortega jam?! He’s keeps popping up in all my favorite things! High School Musical, Dirty Dancing, some of my favorite Gilmore Girls episodes.

Is Omri Katz the kid from Indian in the Cupboard? Oh, no, the character’s name in that movie is Omri. HAHAHA This dude was in Eerie, Indiana though! What, you haven’t seen Eerie, Indiana? IT IS SO GOOD.

I forgot Thora Birch is in this!

Wait does this take place in the 1600s? Or this might be a flashback. To 300 years ago. Which explains the slight British accents and peasant shirts. I’m with you now. I’m onto the logic of this children’s film.

Oh Bette Midler’s wig is…LAID.

This book with the eye looks eerily like the Care of Magical Creatures book in HP.

Why are the sisters’ mouths all weird?

This was the year right after Sister Act. Kathy Najimy living her best life.

So the potion made them “younger”? Is this like a cautionary tale about naturally aging and not giving into plastic surgery and botox? And is Emily dead now? Or did she turn into a little girl ghost?

Is this a true story? I SAW GOODY MIDLER WITH THE DEVIL!

Max is a recent transplant from Los Angeles who said “Give me a break” after his teacher was telling them a story of witches instead of whatever she’s really supposed to be teaching them, and her response was, “We seem to have a skeptic in our midst. Mr. Dennison would you care to share your California tye-dye point of view?”

Why does Max look like a creep hitting on Allison?

The instrumentals in this film are truly enjoyable.

I MISS FALL IN NEW ENGLAND.

UGH this must’ve really been filmed in Massachusetts. It’s so New England-y! 😍

These idiots:

Calling him “Hollywood” and stealing his new sneakers is exactly what is wrong with white boys and bullying.

Ok this Dennison family house is spectacular. Max has stairs leading to somewhere inside his spacious room??

How cute is Thora Birch tho

Dad: What are you supposed to be, Max?

Max: A rap singer. 

Dad: Oh. Well your hat should be on sideways, shouldn’t it?

Ice & his leather jacket bro are back with more of their cronies and literally sitting outside a house making kids pay a toll in order to pass by. I HATE THEM SO MUCH.

Oh the huge house is where Allison lives, and apparently the theme is Marie Antoinette – and not the Kirsten Dunst version.

Danni calls out Max liking Allison’s “yabbos”, which is why I hate teenage boys.

So not only did Max’s teacher tell them about the Sanderson witches, but Danni’s teacher told them about the lore too. Is it just like, required cirriculum to tell kids about these witches in Salem? Also I find it funny they’re the “Sandersons”. It’s like, a 300 year old tale about the most haunting ladies in the area and they have the whitest names ever.

“Legend has it that the bones for 100 children are buried within these walls”… and this place used to be a museum open to the public?

If the black flame candle is lit by a virgin on Halloween night, some shit goes down, and apparently Disney is fine by mentioning virgins in this film.

“It’s just a bunch of hocus pocus.” Has this always been a phrase to indicate something being outlandish? I legit thought it was always just a made up thing from this movie.

Is this a crossover with Sabrina, the Teenage Witch?

Has Hocus Pocus been made into a haunted house yet?

Max the Virgin lit the candle and conjured up the three witches, and it’s basically like the opening scene in the 1600s but with Max saving Danni. I love a good plot parallel.

Ugh instead of hauling butt out of there, he tells the sisters they messed with the “Great and Powerful Max” so now he’s “summoning the burning rain of death”. Just leave.

No wait the cat talks is it Salem’s great-grandfather or something?

 

Honestly, do these sisters think they’re in a never-ending musical?

Has Hocus Pocus been made into a musical yet? (Yes, kinda – a musical parody)

Winifred caught her BF William Butcher cheating on her with her sister Sarah so she punished him? I mean I’d be a little mad at my sister too, just saying.

The cat’s name is Thackary Binx. Solid name. You don’t hear the name Thackary anymore. Wonder if it was the Madison of its era.

LOL Thackary with the shade calling Max an “airhead virgin”.

Yo the zombie getting up from his death slumber is me when someone tries to wake me up in the morning.

Also, the zombie is William the one who played two of the sisters? And now Winifred’s asking for his help?

 – an actual bus driver picking up the sisters  🙄

Also: “We desire children” – Winifred. “It might take me a few tries, but I don’t think that’ll be a problem.” – bus driver who needs to calm down.

THACKARY 

OMG HIS STOMACH JUST INFLATED HAHAHAHA

Ahhhhhh Garry Marshall!!!

This dude pretending to be a real cop is really unnerving to me.

Ahhhhhh Penny Marshall!!!

This entertainment center with VHS tapes is my aesthetic 

Everyone ends up at the big Halloween party, where the sisters somehow end up on stage and sing I Put a Spell on You. Look, I love a musical number but this seems unnecessary. Especially if they’re trying to track down Max and co.

They tricked the sisters into the high school where they burned them alive?? Did this even work? Seems too easy.

It didn’t work.

Winifred comes out of the kiln speaking French because Max was pumping some kind of instructional tape over the stereo, and it’s the first time I’ve LOLed.

The bully idiots are back and discuss illegally watching naked women: “do you wanna look in windows and watch babes undress?” “It’s 3:00, they’re undressed already.” Honestly, what the actual fuck. This is what we taught our kids?

Kathy Najimy uses a vacuum to fly – so basically they can fly using anything, since it’s not the broom that has the power, it comes from within? I learn something new about witches every day.

“We haven’t the time!” I need to start using this phrase more. Sorry Jessie Spano, Winifred is in.

Wait William is calling Winifred a “trollop”?? I thought he’s the one who cheated on her????

Between Max’s shoes and his gym bag, Nike really got great product placement in this film.

Bitches didn’t even check to see if there was salt in the salt container?!?!

This sun is like The Lion King Musical huge 

Ok, but like a 300 year old male ghost kissing a 9 year old and whispering “I shall always be with you” is creepy right?

“I had to wait 300 years for a virgin to light a candle.”

^Legit the best part of this film.

Meanwhile, the Dennison adults are just clamoring out of the Halloween party wasted, the bullies are stuck in their birdcages, and the Harry Potter book’s eye wakes up.

Unpopular opinion: This film is mediocre? It’s obviously geared towards kids, which is why adults of our generation have a special spot in their hearts for this movie as an important part of their childhood. Was it because it’s been hyped up so much? Maybe. Was it the fact I’m not crazy about Halloween in general? Probably. At least now I can say I’ve seen it. Come at me haters.

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TGIF Month: A Dinosaurs Live Blog

Welcome back to another Friday installment of our TGIF live blog series! We’ve watched the pilots of Family Matters, Step by Step and Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper, and now it’s time for-NOT THE MAMA  – Dinosaurs!

Season 1, Episode 1: Pilot/The Mighty Megalosaurus

Original Air Date:04/26/1991

Pilot Plot: Earl Sinclair must choose his role in life.

T: So here’s the thing – I remember watching only a few episodes of Dinosaurs, but thinking it was super weird. And perhaps not funny. But I think I was also just super aware as a kid that it was a weird show to begin with, and it might not have been up my alley. Could it have been the lifelike talking dinosaurs? Who’s to say. Never the less, I’m ready to give it another go!

M: I remember LOVING Dinosaurs and even having a Baby Dinosaur (… name?) figurine that I got at the corner store. To be fair, this was at the age where I was into weird humor – another fav was Ren and Stimpy. I also predict that I will not like it at all now!

T: I’d also like to note how vague the episode description is. It could lit’rally be about anyone, not even dinosaurs. I’m pretty sure that was the point of the show, but still.

M: I think it was very much a TGIF show but it’s Dinosaurs instead of people. I remember always thinking of Teen Boy Dinosaur as Dino Eddie Winslow and Teen Girl Dinosaur as Dino Laura. Yeah, I forget all the names except for earl.

T: The first scene is a fake newscast on “DNN” saying a giant meteor is heading towards Earth… this is a kids show. He says JK NO IT’S NOT right after but just so we’re all aware, the first joke is about impending death. Carry on.

M: I honestly blame/credit shows like this for instigating the weird meme-y culture our generation brought about.

T: I always forget Michael Jacobs, creator of Boy Meets World, also made Dinosaurs.

M: The more I think about it, the funnier it is that this concept was ever greenlit.

T: Guys, I think I didn’t connect with this show because it felt too much like Roseanne to me. Which I hateddddd. But again, people change.

M: Yes. I think Roseanne is a more apt comparison than Family Matters. They’re very blue-collar. You can tell because Earl has a shirt in a buffalo check pattern.

T: There’s another in TV set up, this time for the Dinosaur Shopping Network where a QVC-like commercial is going on and I can’t handle how real/fake this all is.

M: You don’t really see these Henson-y style shows anymore. It reminds me of Fraggle Rock, another fav during this era.

T: What is this pet they have? Oh it might be their dinner.

M: Everybody’s got that Winnie The Pooh style – shirt and no pants.

T: There are real people inside these costumes. Can you just image what this set was like on the down time? Fran is casually in the corner reading The Firm.

M: But like, how cool for those people to be getting residuals for this again, I guess.

T: Why

T: CHARLENE IS VOICE BY SALLY STRUTHERS! AND FRAN IS JESSICA WALTERS! BABETTE & LUCILLE BLUTH ARE DINOSAURS YOU GUYS.

T: ALSO Earl wants a brand new 90 inch TV but they are literal dinosaurs. HOW. I’m just putting this together.

M: The trick to watching Dinosaurs is not thinking about any of it.

T: The year is 60,000,003

M: “Why we countin’ backwards? What are we waitin’ for?”

T: Robbie is acting like he’s Danny Zuko.

M: I WAS JUST GOING TO SAY.

M: Why did I like this terrible baby? This baby is terrible.

T: THIS T REX AND HIS ARMS. HE’S HOLDING A CIGARETTE. I CAN’T

M: Earl asks for a raise and the dinosaur boss has a construction trailer with binders and blueprints everywhere. Again, you’re not supposed to think about it.

T:

“How was your day dear?”

“Compared to what Fran? Compared to walking off a cliff? Falling 10,000 feet, but living just long enough to see that first vulture swoop down and pick out my eyes? It’s a tie. Gimme a beer.”

Men, amirite?

M: The fridge is full of clamoring little critters. Heh.

T: YOU IN DANGER, EARL.

Frances, nothing in your little day is going to have an impact on how I live the rest of my life.

T: What if we just revealed pregnancies by moving our large dinosaur bodies just enough to reveal a large egg in a nest? And that women wouldn’t have to carry a human alien in our bodies for nine months?

M: Wait if that’s how it worked I 10/10 would have a kid.  Esp. the dramatic reveal & the part where nothing leeches my calcium reserves.

T: How do dinosaurs have sex? (This might be a rhetorical question)

M: Look at Earl. Look at Fran. Look at that terrible baby. No WAY is he the father.

T: While out on a temper tantrum in the woods, Earl encounters the creature he almost ate for dinner, Arthur Rizzic,  who changes his perspective on his own hardships. Teachable life lessons from dinosaurs – THEY’RE JUST LIKE US.

M: Disappointed they didn’t play the theme song, but slower, like they do in Full House or Family Matters.

T: Fran lures Earl back with a “Mastadon Surprise” which is probably just a casserole that’s been passed down in Fran’s family for years.

M: It might be how dinosaurs have sex.

T: Charlene doesn’t have pants on. She’s also looking straight down the barrel not apologizing for not wearing pants.

M: “Shirt, no pants like Winnie The Pooh” in the words of Lil Baby Aidy.

T: The baby sounds like a broken toy from Toys R Us.

M: Seriously f this baby.

T: Earl says dinosaurs are “going to rule the world forever” and it’s the most depressing thing I’ve ever heard come out of TGIF. And I’ve seen that Papouli ep of Full House multiple times.

M: We’re all careening towards oblivion WHEEEEEE

T: Well, safe to say I didn’t keep autoplay on for this.

M: Never again.

What Your Childhood Halloween Costumes Said About You

In celebration of Halloween, we’re pulling this one out of our archives. It’s all in good fun – your childhood costumes meant NOTHING – but it sure is fun to look back at the best afternoon party of the whole school year.


Your childhood never really leaves you. As we discussed in What Your School Portrait Backdrop Said About You, the choices that you – and your parents – made in your early years say a lot about who you were then, and who you were likely to become. This is never so true as with Halloween costumes. What you wore on October 31 really laid it all out there – your finances, interests, skills and beliefs.

The Super Deluxe Tier at Party City

This is either called Georgia Peach or Disgruntled Bridesmaid.

Remember when those Halloween costume mailers would start coming with the Sunday paper?  The company used vague category names so nobody’s feelings got hurt – but kids aren’t dumb. The “quality” costumes were for normals, and “super deluxe” costumes were for rich kids. Scarlett O’Hara, Southern Belle, Pretty Witch – these costumes were the best.

If you wore one of these, you probably came from a family with disposable income or were an only child. But there’s also a chance that your non-crafty parents felt bad they couldn’t make your costume, so they only bought you the best. Or maybe you were just really into Vivien Leigh. Either way, you probably knew that some of your friends were shopping in the Quality tier, but you didn’t let that stop you from going for what you really wanted. You had money, and you had ambition, and you were raised to believe that you deserve the good costume. None of those are bad things.

Elaborate Hand-Sewn Costumes

These costumes really meant you had it all — a high costume budget, a parent with advanced sewing skills, creativity somewhere in your family line, and a parent with enough time to devote to making it. In my day, big plush M & M costumes were in vogue. In fourth grade, one girl was a Queen of Hearts – she was not only dressed as a queen but her face was somehow embedded in a big playing card. One kid was Mini Me from Austin Powers, with a metallic jumpsuit and bald cap. If my awed tone 20 years later didn’t tip you off, these kids were pretty damn enviable. Money, imagination, and a quality family situation – these kids were on the road to success.

Low-Budget Costume You Made Yourself (usually with thrift store involvement)

Faces covered to protect the innocent. I’m the tiny apprehensive one.

As a person whose childhood costumes all came from Goodwill, household items and borrowed clothing, this is me. One thing that cobbled costume kids have in common is a sense of silliness and imagination. How about the year my whole family dressed as a six-pack of Diet Coke? Or in sixth grade, when I created an over-the-top Marge Simpson costume complete with a two-foot-tall hairpiece? My mom even got in on the action in a sort of Andy Kaufman-esque way. She was a teacher and would dress up as Mrs. O’Brien, an elderly ‘substitute’, every year. She had a voice, mannerisms, everything. A good subset of the kids could never figure out if it was really her. The kids who did know were sworn to secrecy for the next year.

It hasn’t stopped. A few years ago I dismembered a cheap baby doll to become Junice from SNL. The year before, I mined a Goodwill to become Clarissa Darling. A while ago, I took my nephew to Salvation Army, where we pieced together a curly-mustached villain from a 1920s silent film. We didn’t break character for hours. Cobbled costume kids: we may not have had the most money or skill in our corner, but we worked hard and weren’t afraid to look goofy.

Dollar Store Costumes

Not even Joanie loves Chachi enough to wear this mess.

Oh, you poor dears. You didn’t have a costume budget, you didn’t have time or inclination to make something, and nobody in your family could sew.  These were the costumes that had a cheap, hot mask was secured with one of those white elastic strings that you find on birthday hats, and it always broke. The worst part was the plastic smock that came with these. It was a tunic that was about the same consistency as a plastic grocery bag and – most offensive of all – it usually had the name of the character on it. Come ON. Spider-man doesn’t walk around wearing a shirt that says spider-man. Holly Hobby doesn’t wear a shirt that says Holly Hobby.  Dollar Store Costume Kids had some good qualities, though. They had to be content with what they had, and appreciate the joy that even a low-budget costume could bring.  I bet most of these kids are non-materialistic, well-adjusted adults now.

Half-Assed “Scary” Costumes

You all were playing lip service to the spooky part of Halloween. You know who you are – the boy with the cheap nylon vampire cape and a single streak of red lipstick as “blood.” The girl with the regular black dress and the witch’s hat. The zombie who was just wearing normal clothes with a latex mask. You don’t shun the crowd – you dressed up, after all – but you don’t get all swept up in it either. These days, you use your trusty Nokia and shake your head at the folks waiting for the new iPhone.  When your friends reminisce about stupid trends they followed, you laugh with them – but you are secure in your knowledge that nothing about you has been so over-the-top that you’re embarrassed later.

Legit Scary Costumes

Sometimes a kid would come in looking so creepy that even though you knew who it was, you were still skeeved out by them. These guys had the same creativity as the Goodwill costume kids, but with the budget of the Party City Deluxe Crowd or the skill of the Elaborate Hand-Sewn kids. But they had something else that set them apart — a sadistic joy in creeping out other people. These kids had to be innovative, but they also had to know how to read people in order to know what would sketch people out the most. They took an idea and really ran with it.

Superheroes Or Disney Princesses

You were maybe guilty of a little hero-worship, but you were drawn to charismatic characters and you emulated them. That’s not all bad, and can serve you well in your adult life.

Of course, it’s not that simple. Did you get your Batman costume from the Dollar Store? Did your parents buy the Super Deluxe Jasmine? Your childhood interest in popular characters is only part of the story – you have to look at what KIND of superhero or princess costume you had. It’s like when you’re born at the cusp of two Zodiac signs – you will have traits from both categories.

Occupation Costumes

well this is adorable.

These can be a tough sell with kids: it’s Halloween, not a Social Studies unit on community helpers, right? But kids who went in for these are probably the ones who had researched colleges by Sophomore year of high school, never changed their major, and update their five-year plan every six months. The closest I came to this was one (non-Halloween) day in fifth grade, when my friend and I decided to dress like teachers, with turtlenecks, thick tights, and embroidered vests. I get the appeal — when you’re not a grown-up yet, it’s fun to play at it. Plus, if you actually dressed up as something you became as an adult, that’s adorable.

 

A Fall-Themed Outfit Instead Of A Costume

Your parents were the reason the school had to change it from a Halloween Party to a “Harvest Celebration.” Your very presence – and the letter your parents sent the school board – reminded us that not everyone celebrates Halloween.  If you were a kid whose parents didn’t believe in Halloween, but you wanted to dress up and trick-or-treat really badly, you probably learned how to do without and then asserted the heck out of your independence once you were 18. If you agreed with your parents, I have to commend a kid who sits out of something that all of your friends are excited about because you think it’s wrong. So, I kind of hate to be the one to tell you this, but Halloween is the coolest. I think you always suspected that, though.

Fall Memes Make Me Feel Fine: First of All…

This meme is so played out.

First of all, no one was asking for your opinion.

Which means I’m gonna do it anyways. Folks on Twitter are always sassy, but when this meme came about, it brought out the sassiest of us all, and I ain’t mad about it. Basically these meme is a series of dialogue where one person says something, but the other fake person in the situation says a rebuttal by starting off with the phrase, “first of all…”

It makes much more sense with examples. Here are just a few of my faves from the past few weeks. This is why the internet can still be the greatest place ever.

How to fend off unwelcomed advances:

How to fend off unwelcomed friendships:

How to fend off unwelcomed conversations:

Too real situations:

Just A+++ for use of this photo:

When celebs get into the memes:

When companies get into the memes and shut it all down:

TGIF Month: A Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper Live Blog

It’s Friday and you know what that means: pay day!!! Yes, but also the continuation of our month-long TGIF celebration! We’ve revisited Family Matters. We looked back at Step by Step. And now, we’re watching the pilot of another classic show from ABC’s old school Friday night lineup: Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper! Get your pencils out boys and girls, it’s time to take notes on this 90s fave.

Season 1, Episode 1: Pilot

Original Air Date: 9/22/1992

Pilot Plot: Mark is hired as a substitute teacher, but his roommate Robin must teach him how to control his students. Alan Thicke guest stars.

T: I’m 99% I’ve never seen this pilot. I would’ve remembered Alan Thicke. Pour one out.

M: I watched Hangin With Mr. Cooper but remember less about it than ANY TGIF show. Holy cow, it was on for 5 seasons?! Anyway from what I recall, Mark Curry is not-a-parent who is the cool adult/neighbor to Raven-Symone and a boy.

T: WAIT. Alan Thicke shows up as Alan Thicke, the star of Growing Pains, whose show was recently “retired” (you don’t say cancelled, you say “retired” or “rich” after seven seasons). All these shows from my past blur in my mind. It’s crazy to think Growing Pains ended before Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper began. I have no concept of time. ALSO THIS IS SO META WHAT IS IT DOING IN THE PILOT. MARK LITERALLY LOOKED DOWN THE BARREL OF THE CAMERA.

M: Alan Thicke just showed up to KOOL AID MAN THROUGH THE FOURTH WALL. Mark Curry is Mark Curry, preparing to star in HWMC & Alan Thicke is Alan Thicke, retiring from Growing Pains, talking about Mark taking over Alan’s time slot. Who thought this bit was at all good?

T: Alan legit just said “Good luck here in the ‘hood… if you ever need a white guy…” HUH?

M:  I’m going to say it. It’s the worst cold open I’ve seen in my life.

T: I was about to say, “the opening credits are very En Vogue-esque.” Never realized it was actually En Vogue.

M: This is our first TGIF pilot so far to feature a cold open, so it was a little trickier to clock the theme song time. AKA I had to do simple subtraction. One minute … of excellence. We should do a post about 90s R&B theme songs.

T: I have no recollection of Mark’s house being the exact same as the Seaver house. The living room at least. I have a completely different picture in my head when I think of the Cooper home.

M: Is it Martin? Because I was picturing the house in Martin.

T: This guy Holly Robinson Peete is going on a date with isn’t “fine”, he’s “foine”. I get this on a deep leve.

M: “He’s got a butt that makes me with I was his wallet.”

T: THIS IS LEGITIMATELY THE SEAVER HOUSE THO. WHAT’S GOING ON.

M: Did they change the set later? I do not remember Growing Pains well enough to be able to picture the house. I didn’t think the house was so beige and blah.

T:  Yes Mark, this warranted a “DAYUMMNNN”

M: It was probably the most “language” that had been used on TGIF to date. Holly looks smashing.

T: Omar Gooding, actor and brother of Cuba Gooding Jr. is one of the students in Mr. Cooper’s class, which makes sense since he’s a 90s TV staple.

M: Always wearing this exact outfit. Honestly, all the teens look so cool but ESPECIALLY the girl with the floral dress, black boots and blossom hat. That was 100% my dream look c. 1992.

T: As soon as the kids find out Mark’s a sub, they act up and start throwing papers at each other but Mark immediately lashes out and yells at them to stop, citing the fact he just got out of prison and I am DYING. On the verge of tears crying it’s so funny to me.

M: I rewound to watch it again!

T: Why is there a random boom box on the table next to Blossom?

T: Oh it’s so they can listen to Boyz II Men in class and dance to it.

M: Partially serious question, did ABC option the rights to Motown Philly? Because it also figured prominently into a Full House episode, which I’m sure you all remember.

T: Am I the only one finding this pilot is incredibly predictable? He picks unnecessary fights with Vanessa (because he likes her). He gives into the students’ wishes to have a dance party (and the principal walks in). He sits down in the chair after Omar/Earvin walks away from it (because he pulled a prank & did something to the chair). I’m not complaining, I’m just saying it’s typical ’90s fodder.

M: It’s like putting all the things that happen in 90s sitcoms in a hat and pulling them out. You can also tell from Episode 1 that it’s all about the Mark/Vanessa chemistry.

T: Mark was the kind of student that bullshitted his entire way through high school.

M: I can’t remember if they kept the Belding-esque principal and that Zach Morris-esque Omar Gooding character beyond this episode.

T: Do people actually work out in silence by themselves in their home? Also, she’s not even overweight in the slightest and she’s complaining about not being as sexy and thin as Vanessa.

M: Yeah you saw Vanessa in that mustard yellow dress, though. (Seriously, I DO remember it just being a very 90s thing that ladies in sitcoms/romcoms would talk about needing to lose weight but they never actually cast a fat person? It was v. Cathy comics.).

T: “Couch Potato or Stockbroker? Stud or Spud?” The live audience really loved that line.

M: Mark has said “dayumm” for the third time, proving the writers were really referencing the sitcom guidebook.

M: Vanessa bought one of that dress in every color, I think: comes down in a blue version. Mark is super weird with Vanessa’s date William, a boring stockbroker who will probably not be back. I realized why this wasn’t my fav sitcom until Raven-Symone and the little boy came into the scene: this is 100% about adults. Also Vanessa and Mark mention sex, which I bet means this was on my mom’s no-fly list (to be fair I was 6).

T: Coop shows the kids who’s the boss (not Tony) by supergluing Earvin’s chair, because that’s how you teach.

M: Confirmed: that’s Earvin’s only outfit, or all his outfits look the same.

T: Just before the show ends, there’s a scene where Mark introduces himself as Mark Curry… what is all this realism business? I don’t think I like it.

M: Makes no sense. I guess this is how you had to find out who people were before IMDB.

Pop Culture Blind Spot: Teen Witch

It’s October, and I am continuing to tackle my Halloween movie pop culture blind spots. As a person who loves Halloween but hates to be scared, it’s a chore. A neat trick I learned with Teen Wolf is that if a movie has the word “teen” in the title, it’s probably not that scary … and with that, I delve into Teen Witch.

What I Think It’s About: An ’80s teen learns that she’s a witch, like in Halloweentown or Twitches or Worst Witch or Harry Potter. She raps at a mean boy. That part, I HAVE seen.

Hulu short description: A high school student who is a descendant of bona fide Salem witches uses her magic to snag a football star as a boyfriend.

Okay, I’ve mentioned before how far down the Salem Witch documentary/podcast/google hole I’ve fallen, so this sounds pretty cool. Except for the second half, anyway – even a dopey teen has better uses for magic powers than “snagging a football star as a boyfriend.”

The movie opens with 80s sexy smooth jazz saxophone, which I hate. Two teens hang out in blue lighting on a rooftop. The first FOUR minutes look like any generic music video of 1989. It’s just a dream, we learn as Teen Witch wakes up in her Laura Ashley bedroom.

Also my bedroom style c. 1989 – 1999.

The family all sits around the breakfast table at the same time, being formal at each other.

Teen Witch’s best friend has dark hair and is 100% the person I thought was the Teen Witch based on the rap clip I’ve seen.

Anyway, Teen Witch (Louise) and Best Friend (Polly) wear those oversized, menswear, Annie Hall-type 80s clothes, which I find really underrepresented in the 80s-inspired fashion universe.

Cute look!

Teens just rap in the hallways. White boys. They’re dressed like the Uptown Funk video, or more accurately, the Uptown Funk video is dressed like them.

The cheerleaders sing and dance ‘I Like Boys’ in the locker room. THIS IS A MUSICAL?! This is a musical! I didn’t know.

I have so many things to say about the I Like Boys sequence, none of them probably search engine-friendly. You don’t strictly see anyone singing it, they just sort of prance in the locker room, having antics. As gals do, while telling you over and over that they like boys.

I probably don’t have to say this, but the ’80s teen hunk Louise is obsessed with is named Brad.

Louise goes to a creepy unpainted Victorian house to see someone named Madame Serena. The Victorian House trope is always interesting to me. By, say, the 1950s an 1890s Queen Ann Victorian was already known as a creepy witch/ ghost house. But in 2017, a house the same amount old (built in the 1950s) isn’t considered creepy. Our scary movies don’t involve a foreboding ranch house.

Madame Serena is a small psychic woman with a high voice, like in Poltergeist. She refers to Louise’s “cute little Punky Brewster face.” Ha.

Is Louise’s little brother going to turn into a rat ever? I feel like that happens in a lot of these kinds of movies.

Casting breakdown: Twerpy Younger Brother Who Gets Turned Into A Rat

An elderly health teacher has the kids chant ‘condom,’ which probably doesn’t happen in public schools? Or does it??

I think the only thing in the school’s soda machine is regular Coke.

Louise’s vest from her mom is “dorky” but with 28 years’ perspective, it doesn’t look any worse than anyone else’s outfits. Her dad has a big poinsettia sweater.

Wait but the nerd assuming Louise wears glasses, when she does not, is my whole life. Does this happen to everybody?

The nerd boy just looks like a hipster.

He’d be the hot friend on a CW series today.

“You think you’re hot stuff because you went to a dance. Nobody wants to date you because you’re a dog.. a dog… a dog!” That’s what kid brother says in that wavery scary voice before he TURNS INTO A DOG. I know I said rat before but I feel like I was close.

There’s a witch yearbook – “new faces of 1632” – and I choose to find it unrealistic that (1) they’re photographs and (2) not in 1600s-style clothing. The witch part is fine. Louise and Madame Serena are both in there. Does that mean all witches are reincarnated? Or they’re both 400 years old but went dormant and lost their memories for a while? I have questions.

Surely you all realized this already, but Madame Serena IS the actress from Poltergeist! I haven’t seen it since I was 7, but I was so certain it was her I had to IMDB it. What a very specific role to be typecast in.

It’s been almost an hour but I just realized that the character breakdown for Louise was absolutely “Molly Ringwald type.”

Louise has gone full witch, with love spells and a poppet.

Anyway, Louise voodoo poppets her awful English (?) teacher, a man whose classroom includes some weird stage with a desk and bookshelves on it, and who openly torments Louise every class. She makes him strip. ‘S funny.

Mean Teacher gets poppetted through a carwash on foot while the song “All Washed Up” plays, but the beginning of it sounds so much like Bad Romance. So much!

Ladies and gentlemen, the moment we’ve ALL been waiting for:

I thought there would be more context but, no. Also how I said it was a musical earlier? There was really just the locker room I Like Boys scene, then this. It’s like if I dreamed a kind-of musical about a Teen Witch, and an hour into the dream I realized I forgot to do songs.

Polly’s my favorite. It didn’t sound like the guy’s voice was coming from him?

Louise gets an ’80s perm, AKA she looks exactly like me if I air dry my hair, and a tapestry vest and a flouncy skirt. Hot stuff, indeed. She’s like Tiffany now. There’s a montage and all her outfits are super cute now.

It’s just Grease with witches, isn’t it?

The Sexy Sexy Saxophones are back, but this time Louise isn’t dreaming. She kisses Football Brad near a plaster-and-lathe wall.

Louise accidentally (?) magics the lead of the school play into breaking her leg, thus getting the lead role. I just thought witches had more control over their magic? Like with spells and wands. Louise is running this operation on poppets and hormones.

I’ve been checking how long there is left every 15 minutes or so.

Never have I ever seen a school dance scene that felt like it was the appropriate length. Like real school dances, it just goes on and on and on with very little happening.

In 1989, the bigger your hair was, the lovelier you were. Must have been nice to have such a clear formula.

I thought we’d get more clarification on the popularity-doesn’t-matter thing, but like Grease the messaging is not all that great.

To that end: the closing theme is “I’m gonna be the most popular girl. Gonna change my hair and makeup, soon you’re gonna see…”. There was nothing spooky in this whole movie – it was way too un-scary, actually – but this theme song would be PERFECT playing at the end of a dark, Black Mirror-y study of popularity at all costs.

Takeaway: I really like a lot of kiddie ‘scary’ movies, and I think witches are the coolest thing ever, but this didn’t 100% do it for me. Judging by my love for Hocus Pocus, I probably WOULD have liked this if I watched it first as a kid, though. It’s almost like it needed to be more witchy, or at least for the witch to have a more interesting objective than Football Brad.

 

EDIT: It’s been like 3/4 of a day since I watched Teen Witch and I find myself liking it more and more. Maybe it’s magic after all.

Podcast You Should Be Listening To If You Aren’t Already: 36 Questions

Going to a theater to see a musical? That is SO old school.

With 36 Questions, it’s taking musicals to the next level – an audio only story that you can listen to anywhere at anytime. CRAZY, I KNOW. Yes, the idea of musical podcast is novel in and of itself, however 36 Questions is the perfect piece of art to be the first of its kind in this platform, because it’s… actually good.

What’s It All About

In this three-part podcast musical starring Jonathan Groff and Jessie Shelton, a couple attempts to bring their marriage back from the brink of divorce using 36 revealing questions designed to make strangers fall in love.

Still not convinced? Here are a few more reasons that hooked me into the pod, and I hope they do for you too!

Groffsauce

Sure, he has the singing voice of an angel, but Jonathan Groff has the type of speaking voice that will make you wonder why you’ve ever listened to anyone else’ dumb voice all these years. The way Groff talks is like a silky blanket gliding over your person in a way that makes you feel fuzzy and warm inside yet slightly aroused. Sure if you’re a Broadway nerd, you’re used to hearing him in your ears on soundtracks like Hamilton and Spring Awakening, but this seems different. It’s more personal. And you can *hear* him acting in a way I’ve never felt before with Groff or any other musical theater soundtracks before. Every breath, every sigh, every silent pause is loud and clear, and it only elevates his performance even more. Also, as a friendly reminder, it’s JONATHAN FREAKING GROFF.

Jessie Shelton

The other half of this 3 hour couple fight is played by Jessie Shelton, who is a relative unknown outside of those who attend a lot of Off-Broadway shows (Hadestown, anyone?). Although you may not know her name, you’ll never forget her voice once you listen to this. At first, you think she has this child-like innocence to her, but there’s a worn-in feeling to her tone that makes you think she’s lived a lot of lives – which is perfect for this role. There’s so much pure and unforced emotion that comes out of Jessie that makes you feel for her with every word. I wouldn’t be surprised if Jessie finally makes it onto Broadway as a breakout star one of these days.

The Score Is Fantastic

There are two masterminds behind 36 Questions: Ellen Winter – a composer and playwright, and Christopher Littler – writer, director and composer. Together, they’ve created music and lyrics that fit perfectly in the contemporary genre along with Pasek & Paul (Dear Evan Hansen, Edges), Jonathan Larson (Rent, Tick Tick Boom), Jason Robert Brown (The Last Five Years, Songs For a New World), and Kerrigan-Lowdermilk (The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown). Groffsauce even has a few jazz-infused numbers that area a great complement to his character.

The Book is Fantastic

36 Questions has a The Last Five Years feel in that there are only two (human) characters throughout the entire musical – and it’s the conversation between two people who know each other so well. This history between them gives the podcast an even more intimate feel, not to mention there are heartbreaking moments, as well as scenes of pure hilarity that really just hit the sweet spot of the dramedy variety that I love so much. Not to mention, this musical was MADE to be a podcast, so it was written with audio only in mind, making each word even more important than the last.

The Play Is Happening In Your Ears

I’ve only really listened to talk show-type podcasts – your Pod Save Americas, your Gilmore Guys, your Serials. None of these have ever had foley artists working on the sound of creaking doors and furniture falling over from a room downstairs. Each individual sound is placed in the podcast for a reason, and it’s so vivid and clear that it actually makes you feel like you’re in a rural house (no spoilies). Podcasts already give a level of intimacy that other entertainment platforms like TV or movies can’t give, but when each sound you hear is intentional, it’s hard not to be drawn into this world.

A Happy Ending?

One of the great things I loved about this story is that I never actually knew how it was going to end. Obviously it’s a will they won’t they situation, but which way would the writers actually go? A three part, three hour musical that keeps you guessing is quite the feat, and one revolving romance? Well you’ll just have to find out if they get their happy ending or not.

Listen to 36 Questions  [subscribe on apple podcasts here or elsewhere]

TGIF Month: A Step by Step Live Blog

It’s Friday during TGIF Month, and you know what that means: gonna have some fun, show you how it’s done, and liveblog another TGIF pilot from Hulu. Up today: Step By Step, the blended-family sitcom that we liked, but which didn’t gain the nostalgia foothold of a Full House or even a Family Matters. Like most TGIF sitcoms, it starts in the aftermath of something bad happening to a nuclear family. It’s the ’90s!

Season 1, Episode 1: Pilot

Original Air Date: 9/20/1991

Pilot Plot: While vacationing in the Caribbean, Frank and Carol get married, and when they return, have to deal with the conflicts between their children.

T: Definitely did not remember this show took place in Wisconsin. Definitely DID remember and will never forget this theme song/opening credits. Pitch: Step by Step cast reunites but they only recreate the opening credits as adults. That’s it. No episode. No series. Just that.

M: Yes, into it. For years I thought of the roller coaster every time I was (rarely) on one.

T: Port Washington, Wisconsin is a real town just north of Milwaukee on Lake Michigan. However, at the end of the credits when they zoom out on the roller coaster, the tide is so freaking strong it’s like the Pacific. What’s going on there?

M:  Before you @ us we grew up on a Great Lake, they’re massive and you can’t see across them but there’s not a TIDE.

We should have clocked the opening songs starting with week 1 of TGIF Month…  but this one was 1:51. Almost TWO MINUTES. Out of a sitcom episode’s 22 minutes. Just walking around a theme park in coastal Wisconsin.

T: I DON’T THINK I’VE EVER SEEN THIS PILOT. I have no recollection of ever being at Frank’s pig sty of a house before he moved in with Karen.  

M: If I saw it it was once, in maybe 1991. PS, I was always HORRIBLE at remembering which kids are bio-sibs. That’s why the Brady Bunch color-coded the kids’ hair.

T: I feel like there’s always a science project on the kitchen table.

T: Tag yourself, I’m Dana with a hint of Mark.

M: I’m also a Mark/Dana, with a bit of the littlest brown-haired boy who nobody remembers. Brandon or whatever. [Ed. note: Brendan I guess.]

T: That Suzanne Sommers sure is a fox.

M: Wait there was always a hair salon hooked onto the house? I have exactly ZERO recall of that. This is some Steel Magnolias nonsense.

Also, Suze and her blue kitchen both look GOOD and she knows it. I have the hugest crush on this kitchen.

T: Frank went on vacation. Carol went on vacation and met a man. Frank is Carol’s customer and they’re secretly dating/got married in Jamaica. You’re telling me that the premise of Step by Step is loosely based on Grease? Also is a marriage legal if you only get married in Jamaica?

M: What the hell sort of single parent who lives in a hair salon is going on freewheeling vacations to Jamaica? If they’d just throw us a line about Carol winning a radio contest this would make so much more sense.

T: Suzanne is classic 90s overacting and I AM SO INTO IT.

M: The music cues are every bit as dramatic, too.

T: LAKE MICHIGAN UPDATE: Found this on IMDb. Apparently I’m not the only one who noted this issue:

In the opening credits the amusement park is intended to be in Wisconsin on the shores of Lake Michigan. However at the end of the credits the body of water can be see to have rather large waves on a calm day. These waves are much too large for Lake Michigan in the absence of a storm.

M: Yeah, those were some Edmund Fitzgerald-looking waves. (SEE, WE KNOW THE GREAT LAKES. Traci even worked at an amusement park right on one, like in the credits!)

T: Patrika Darbo’s outfit is so 90s that it’s in right now. 

M: This happens every week, but I am floored by how young the kids are, particularly JT who always seemed like basically an adult.

T: Guys, I’m genuinely enjoying this episode.

M: It’s so much fun! Which is weird because Step By Step gets a lot less nostalgia cred compared to a lot of other 90s sitcom.

T: “My God, here comes the Joad family,” a reference I do not understand.  I have not read Grapes of Wrath.

M: I can’t believe that was a reference that in the early ’90s, writers of a family sitcom just assumed their audience GOT.

Frank & Co. move in with random chairs and wooden things strapped to the top of their vehicle.

T: 14:00 The fashion in this show is on point.

“I don’t think this is gonna work. Our kids hate each other. I’m a nervous wreck and to tell you the truth we just don’t like livestock all that much.” – a Carol line I actually LOLed at

M: Suzanne Somers, in addition to being a total fox, has good timing and delivery.

T: Do we think Frank and Carol are actually still together in 2017? Discuss.

M: Well. I actually paused my TV to think about that and I’m of a few minds. I could see them being one of those couples that gets together after divorces than stay together forever. On the other hand I could see them both leaving for greener pastures when that random little blonde girl they had later went to college.

T: CAROL IS WEARING A JUMPSUIT.

T: Also, do families still have breakfast together?

M: I think my siblings’ kids do? Not in a formal way, but they have cereal or whatever. Bleh. Leave me alone in the morning.

T: Al looks like Steve from Blues Clues’ sidekick.

 

M: I’m in Al’s corner. She goes from zero to moving in with this random family with a giant blue kitchen and getting taken to the doctor by her dad’s hairdresser. Adults are the pits.

T: Like Family Matters, are we going to get an explanation on what happened to Frank and Carol’s significant others? This is not a detail I’ve kept in my head for 25 years.

M: I decided they were divorced, but did the exes just disappear? This is probably addressed somewhere. It’s been decades.

The twinkly music starts while Carol and Al have a touching convo about blended families and appendices.

T: “I’d like to be your friend because that’s the first step in become a family.”

M: “You and I have something in common. We both love your father.” YEESH.

T: I can’t get over how into this aesthetic I am.

M: Future post: Step By Step Is Our Aesthetic. I keep thinking about that kitchen with stars in my eyes.

T: Note to self: visit exterior of the Lambert house in Pasadena.

M: Carol has the cutest tortoiseshell glasses!

T: The audience was actually clapping at the end like it’s a live theater play. They really don’t make shows like they used to.

M: For better or worse.

T: I think I’m going to keep watching to find out what happens.

M: I could consume an unhealthy amount of this show without even realizing I was doing it. It’s like the Goldfish crackers of 90s sitcoms.

T: EDIT: HULU AUTOPLAYED THE NEXT EPISODE AND URKEL CRASHES THE DINNER. LIKE LITERALLY HAS A JET PACK ON AND CRASHES ON THEIR PICNIC OUTSIDE. I CAN’T. (I am and I will).

 

Inappropriate Reactions To Harvey Weinstein Bingo

Anyway, here’s a BINGO board.

Inappropriate Reactions To Harvey Weinstein
[Condemnation from somebody who still supports D.T.] “price of fame” “hush money” “Out of the woodwork” “To play devil’s advocate…”
“Our friends/sisters/ coworkers/ daughters” “He said/she said” [He never did anything to me so he never did anything to anyone] [Silence] “As the father of four daughters”
[Blame Hillary Clinton] “innocent until proven guilty” Free Space

Free Space
“he’s mentally ill” [H.W.’s net worth as motive for fabrication]
“If they had spoken up sooner this wouldn’t have happened to anybody else” [Calling man over the age of 25 a “kid”] “When men and women work together…” [I interrupt this comments section to defend Bill Cosby] “Why wouldn’t they say something at the time?”
“Things were different in the [60s/70s/80s]” “What are they asking for? Trouble.” “knowing that he’s married…” “What do you expect when…” [I interrupt this comments section to defend Woody Allen]

TTYL, AIM. LYLAS.

Well, it’s the end of an era. Our childhood is dying and we are all dinosaurs.

Last week, the folks at AOL announced that its trailblazing program, Instant Messenger, would be shutting down for good in December.

Like many millennials, I haven’t used AIM in years, but it was such an integral part to our lives when the internet was just becoming a thing in the late 90s/early 2000s. Before Snapchat, Instagram, GChat, Twitter, Facebook, and kinda before texting, there was AIM. It was social networking before we knew what social networking was. We’d spend all day at school with friends, only to go home and turn on AIM to talk to friends some more. We’d perfect our AIM profiles with the right quotes and shoutout to friends using their initials – it was a precursor to perfect a Facebook profile. It’s where we first learned how to abbrev – “brb”, “a/s/l?”, “nm, u?” etc. AIM let us make our first internet identities with vague SNs (screennames duh) that gave others a hint of our interests and/or hobbies (one of my first ones had “BSB” in it). We’d sneakily put our crush’s SNs on our buddy lists and get giddy when we heard the sound of the door opening and their name flash up on our ~*u kNo wHo*~ buddy list (1/1). If we were super bored, we’d open a new window for Smarter Child and see what they were up to. We’d put up elaborate away messages with way more info than we ever should’ve given out. Or if you’re like me, you’d just keep an away message on 24/7 even though you’re sitting in front of your computer and not, in fact, away.

Because I’m a hoarder of sorts – I like memories, OK – I was one of those people who installed a secondary program which automatically logged conversations with my friends. My archive only goes back to like, 2004 right before I started college, but boy oh boy did I find some gems. Re-reading all these got me thinking – why? Just why? But also, making an away message was like a first generation Facebook status update (IE: “Traci is… really upset that her VCR decided not to tape the last 5 minutes of the American Idol finale.”) It told a story about your mood, what you were doing, where you were doing it, who you were do it with, who you were thinking about while doing the thing – it gave a lot of details away – information superhighway, amirite?? After going through my archives, I noticed a few trends that made AIM the iconic fly trapped in amber that it is. Here are some of my favorite/questionable away messages, not only of my own, but also of some of my friends. Don’t worry, your identities are protected. To reiterate, these are REAL.

Various Ways to “Hit the Cell”

Following the popularity of AIM, cell phones became more and more common, specifically for use of the texting feature, which was basically like a portable version of AIM. So when you couldn’t sit and have a conversation with your friend because you’re in class, hit them on their Motorola Razor and you’d get in touch instantly. But what we needed to put at the end of the away message was the prompt. And as for me, I know I wanted variety. I can’t say, “leave love or hit the cell” all the time. Which is why some popular variations of this included, “cells good”, “hit the digits”, “make it vibrate” “make it ring”, “cell’s avail”, just in case you were confused that my phone WASN’T available. These days I don’t want anyone to contact me at all.

Deep Song Lyrics

“Deep” is a relative term. Here I am using lyrics from underrated Journey song “Don’t Stop Believin'”, which in my defense, was like our high school group’s theme song.

Ashlee Simpson? Yeah I guess I can’t really defend that.

I was a theater nerd. I went to a college with other theater nerds. This is actually too mainstream theater for school standards.

A Convo Between Friends IRL

First off, I’d like to say I was not offended by this conversation. Second, this was what AIM was really for. Having funny convos with friends and showing it off online to your other friends.

A Convo Between Friends on AIM

And the other half is having “hilarious” convos with friends online and copy and pasting into an away message because that’s cool. This isn’t even that funny. But it was funny to us at the time. A majority of our away messages were inside jokes that 5% of your buddy list would understand. But we did it anyways.

Taking a Shower

Like, why? Why did we do this?

Legitimate Schedule of Events

To continue from the shower bit, why? It was certainly a different time in terms of people being able to easily find your information and cyberstalk you, but we got so specific with our schedules. This was my friend’s day as an acting major.

this is my friend/co-worker who specifically asked his friends to call him, because, yes, that’s right, he has a life.

Meanwhile, I also gave a breakdown of the imporatant events in my day – a nightly TV schedule. And the last line isn’t a shout out to my homestate. It’s literally the VH1 reality TV program “I Love New York” featuring Tiffany “New York” Pollard.

Some Kind of Countdown

The away message not only told people when you were away and what you were doing when you were away, but it told a story of your future. Another popular trend was a countdown to whatever event you were looking forward to. “6 Days Until Spring Break!”, “1 More Day Until DF, TW, & SP ARRIVE!”, and “T-Minus 4 days until Project Turkey”, which was a thing I used freshman years of college for a v embarrassing thing.

Elaborate Text Art

I was such a sucker for these. It took creativity and skill to make an elaborate away message, even if it was just a few words (that could’ve been shortened to BRB).

Remember wingdings?! Or was this a webding? I could never tell the difference.

Farewell AIM, we’ll miss you. Put up a good away message for us before you go, ok?