Retro RePost: Nick-at-Nite's Block Party Summer

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

This little blog of mine suddenly saw a spike in viewership a few months ago.  I was confused but delighted!  In looking into it, I discovered that one page gets viewed at least 20 times for every single view of any other.  Then I discovered that the same article was the number one search result on Google when you typed in "Nick at Nite Block Party Summer."

I was floored.  Number one in Google for something so special to me as the Nick at Nite Block Party Summer!  Then I realized this is WHY I created this website.  Not to be famous or be number one... but the fact that you can come to my little site and find nearly EVERYTHING you wanted to know about a particular topic without having to comb through thousands of websites.  

I've always said that people who put stuff online are saints.  You can google or Youtube almost anything, and there's a "how-to" or historical documentation there in full detail.  The people who take the time to do all of that are God-sent, especially if you are desperately looking for something for weeks, and then BAM!  There it is in full detail.  

I started this blog with the idea of writing about things I enjoyed or remembered from my youth.  I hoped to combine several bits of information from various sources and make one solid article where EVERYTHING is in one place.  Sure it makes some really long articles sometimes, like with my "Lunchbox Snacks of YesterYear" series (or my coming "Airlines of YesterYear" series), but I hope you can easily find what you need in a one-stop-shop type of place here at YYR.  

In my "Tribute to Nick-at-Nite" series, one article took the most research but was also the most important to me.  One article that represented so many summers of my childhood and so many hours of television.  This one article represents so many hours with Dad in front of the TV laughing so loud that Granny heard us next door.

The Nick-at-Nite Block Party Summer.  

Sometimes I still can't believe that this little blog of mine is the number one and two search result when you type in "Nick at Nite Block Party Summer" into Google (as of today.) 

Wow, what an honor.  

Thank you.

Summer Wrestling Memories

Friday, July 23, 2021

With WWE's SummerSlam around the corner, I often reflect on how many of my memories of the summer revolve around pro wrestling.  

To be fair, I haven't watched WWE programming in quite some time now.  I'm a fan of AEW now, but I can barely find time to watch Dynamite on TNT, let alone their two YouTube shows and social media storylines.  While I still find AEW exciting, I still find myself going back and watching the "old stuff" from the early 90s that hooked me in the first place.  

Some excellent stuff happened in pro wrestling during the summer months.  The entire start to the nWo invasion angle in WCW took place during the summer.  Of course, you can also read my recent article about when Hulk Hogan turned against WCW and created the nWo at Bash at the Beach in 1996 by CLICKING HERE.

I always found the WCW tapings at Disney MGM studios fun and exciting, and those took place during the summer of 1996.  Who could forget the Rey Mysterio "lawn dart" segment during the groundbreaking backstage scene?  

I also have many fond memories of staying up late on summer nights using our old dial-up internet connection, reading the wrestling "BB's" on Prodigy, or writing up storylines for the Prodigy E-Wrestling Federation I created called the American Wrestling Federation (AWF).

After waiting for over a decade, we finally saw Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan's first real in-ring meeting at the summertime Bash at the Beach in 1994.

I have a "SummerSlam:  25 Years Ago" post coming soon, but wrestling in summertime always brings up some good stories from the old memory bank.  The following 5 memories are a fun way for me to document some of my own memories and maybe remind you of some stuff you haven't thought of in a long time.  

Retro Scan: 1978 Jaws 2 Wax Pack Trading Cards!

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

"Jaws 2," released June 16, 1978, was the sequel to the blockbuster hit "Jaws" by Steven Spielberg.  It stars Roy Scheider as Chief Martin Brody.  Lorraine Gary and Murray Hamilton co-star as Martin's wife Ellen and Amity Mayor Larry Vaughn.  

The plot centers around Chief Brody's suspicion that another great white shark has begun to terrorize the seaside resort community of Amity Island.  Following a series of incidents and disappearances, Chief Brody's suspicions are proven to be true.

Jaws 2 suffered from some production flaws.  The first director, John Hancock, proved unfit for an action and suspense film and was replaced by Jeannot Szwarc.  The lead, Roy Scheider, only agreed to reprise his role to end a contractual issue with Universal Pictures and was very unhappy throughout filming.  Reportedly, Scheider and Szwarc got into several heated exchanges that delayed filming.  

Nonetheless, "Jaws 2" was the highest-grossing sequel in history, even if for a brief moment.  A year later, Rocky II was released and took the title away from the Jaws franchise.  

The "Jaws 2" tagline of "Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water..." has become one of the most famous taglines in history.  It's been parodied and reused several times over the years.

After mixed reviews, the franchise received two more sequels.  It was followed by the gimmicky "Jaws 3-D" in 1983 and "Jaws: The Revenge" in 1987.

The trading cards, by TOPPS, were in pretty good condition for being over 40 years old.  The gum, of course, was still mostly intact, as you'll see below.  I included the card backs that provided "Movie Facts" information about the film, but those without film information had puzzle pieces of a larger photo.  The final image I included is all of those card backs together.  Also included in the pack was a photo sticker, in this case, the bloody killer whale found on the beach.  I like that the sticker backing has the Jaws 2 logo on it and not just a blank "Peel Here" icon.

Retro RePost: Pro Beach Hockey

Friday, July 16, 2021

On these Retro Re-Posts, I like to tell a little story about how an older post relates to my childhood and then introduce new and old readers to an article they may have missed or a chance to revisit an article they read a while back.

My family has always been into ice hockey.  My Dad played growing up on ponds and would eventually play in men's leagues well into his late 40s.  His playing came to an abrupt end one night when he broke his foot after getting hit by a slap shot the night before leaving for vacation.  After the injury, he stopped playing but moved behind the bench coaching many of the teams I played for. 

When I was growing up, youth sports weren't nearly as organized as they are today.  We had "house leagues" where the local rink set up a bunch of teams made up of kids who signed up (either alone or as a team), and my school district loosely organized a team at every age group.  There was only one "travel" team in my area growing up, but you had to be not only very good to play on that team but be rich as well, as they were very expensive to cover the travel costs to play all of the out of state teams.  

Today, the kid's teams in my old school district may as well be professional teams with matching tracksuits, advertising, dedicated practice facilities, and more.  Back then, when I joined my first league in 1990 in first grade, it was a "come as you are" approach with everyone's hand-me-down equipment at the outdoor rink at Bear Mountain.  It was only when I played on the Varsity team in high school everyone finally had matching uniforms and organized practice schedules.

The Summer I Flunked Math and Fell In Love With the Airline Business

Monday, July 12, 2021

Let me just say... I hate math.  

I've never been good with numbers, and I was always much better at subjects like history.  I used to tell my parents (and teachers) that I didn't like math because math can always change just by using a different number, but history is concrete and never changing.  

Boy was I wrong.  Recent world events (and the media's reporting on them) have proved to us that history is only what people are told it is and not always the way it happened.  

Anyway, put plainly, I suck at math.  

In June of 1999, I was finishing up the 9th grade.  I had done fairly well all year and was looking forward to what would be my last carefree summer without a job or responsibility.  By fairly well, I mean I coasted with B's, when with minimal effort, I could have gotten straight A's.  

One afternoon a few days after school let out, my Mom answered the phone while I was on the computer in the back room.  Back then, I would have either been playing Microsoft Flight Simulator or on Prodigy reading about pro wrestling.  After a few minutes, I had already forgotten she was on the phone when she called my name with a tone that I knew meant trouble.  

I hadn't done anything (literally) for a few days now that school had ended.  Why would she be mad at me?  She handed me the phone with "the look."  

It was my Math teacher.  I don't even remember her name, but I remember thinking that it was funny she called me at home.  I had hated her class (and her, to be fair), and my first thought was of how I was happy to be free of her and her math class.  She must have called to tell me I left something in her classroom or something.

Boy, was I wrong.  

She informed me that I failed the Math Regents (a New York standardized test) and would be required to take a summer school course and retake the test in August.

25 Years Ago: Hulk Hogan Makes Wrestling Cool with the nWo

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

This summer, I've reflected on how so many of my good summertime memories are connected to professional wrestling.  Later this month, I'll be posting an article about five of my own personal memories of summer-time wrestling that I really think you'll enjoy.  In August, there will be another post looking back 25 years at WWF's summer-time spectacular "Summer Slam" from 1996.  

But today, it's of absolute necessity that we look back 25 years from today at WCW's summer-time showcase event the "Bash at the Beach."  It was the catalyst that ignited the boom period of professional wrestling of the mid to late 1990s and it's a day that changed wrestling and American pop culture forever.  

25 years ago, on July 7, 1996, I would have just finished the sixth grade a few weeks earlier.  I was twelve years old.  I would have been dead set on spending my summer doing absolutely nothing but swimming in our backyard pool, watching American Gladiators, Saved by the Bell, and I Love Lucy reruns when the mid-morning heat set in.  Then, after probably a grilled cheese or peanut butter sandwich for lunch, I'd watch Salute Your Shorts reruns on Nickelodeon in the afternoon and then spend my evening hours watching professional wrestling.  If I wasn't watching wrestling, I was reading about it online or pretending to be a wrestler in Prodigy's e-federation system on the BBs.  

WCW was in the midst of an invasion, with newcomers from the rival promotion, WWF, coming out of the woodwork to overthrow the show.  As a diehard WCW fan, I was predisposed to think of these WWF guys as "the bad guys" anyway, but the actions of Scott Hall and Kevin Nash made me really hate them.  

Back then, not everyone had the internet, and knowing the behind-the-scenes details wasn't as readily available as it is now.  Even though my family had the internet, the real news was still hard to come by, and most of it was a lot of rumors and fan's best guesses.

I've mentioned a few times over the years on this blog that my parents never let me buy PPV events.  They didn't like wrestling, and they didn't like that I watched it, so surely they weren't going to spend 30 or 40 bucks a month on a 3-hour show.  So, on the Sunday night of the big event, I'd always be online clicking around in wrestling chat rooms or waiting for the slowly updated "newz" sites to post commentary.  It's hard to believe in this day and age of social media, where people post their most insane thoughts every few seconds, that it would take a good 20 or 30 minutes for someone to update a line or two on their website, but that's what it was in those days.

This PPV, the 1996 "Bash at the Beach," was different than the rest.  The fate of WCW rested on who the infamous "third man" would be.  They had promised someone big, and I was practically biting my nails, waiting for the "wrestling newz" websites to update their results page.  

When I finally read the news, I couldn't believe it.

Hulk Hogan, the ultimate hero of wrestling... had gone bad.

The 4th of July

Friday, July 2, 2021

Growing up, my family put our own half-hearted spin onto most holidays except Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  By half-hearted, I mean, we hardly mentioned it was even a holiday.  4th of July wasn't any different in my household, and when I think about the Independence Days of my childhood, I can remember only a handful of things.  

I always enjoyed helping my Dad get out our American flag and hanging it on the house.  He reserved this act for only Memorial Day and Independence Day, which made it even more special.  After that, I can only remember waiting around the house, avoiding the heat while watching TV or playing games on the computer, counting down the hours until Dad grilled some burgers or hotdogs that would sum up our "celebration."  

After dinner, I'd find something to do and try to catch the New York City fireworks on television.  Usually, my parents were watching something like Frasier on the TV, and I'd have to beg to watch a few minutes of it.  Hard to believe we only had one TV.  Ok, my parents had one in their bedroom, but I could only watch it on special occasions.

When I was in high school, my parents began their own unofficial tradition of watching the Boston Pops Orchestra play patriotic music on PBS.  At that age, however, I'd have rather watched paint dry. 

We never went to watch fireworks, as my Dad would always not want to fight the crowds.  He and Mom would always take us to see fireworks at other points of the year up at Bear Mountain, and I guess they figured that was good enough.

My parents were very against us having our own firecrackers and the like.  Mostly, because when I was about 4 or 5, my Dad set off some firecrackers, and one launched itself onto a neighbor's roof in a fiery blaze of explosive glory.  I can vaguely remember him scooping me up and sprinting to the house to hide, and that was the end of fireworks in our household.  After that, my parents would get us a pack of sparklers every year, and my brother and I would stand in the driveway and wave them around and chase each other for a few minutes as soon as it got dark.  One summer, I spent my allowance buying some fireworks from my neighbor when he got back from his vacation in Pennsylvania, where fireworks were legal.  My Mom confiscated them, and years later, when I found them hidden somewhere, I lit them off when they weren't home.  Sorry, Mom.

When I met my wife in college, she invited me to her family's cabin in upstate New York on our first 4th together, where the homeowners association had an annual 4th of July picnic.  It became a tradition to head up there every year for a few days for the picnic and a fireworks display.  I jumped through hoops every year during the airline's busy season to make sure I had off that weekend, and I only missed out on a year or two.

Like with most things, some people just have to ruin everything.  As more and more people from "the city" started moving into the area, they began complaining about the noise and the safety of the evening fireworks by the lake.  The gentleman who volunteered his time and money to put on a pretty spectacular display each year decided it was no longer worth the hassle.  Every year after that, the picnic itself lost some magic as they added more and more rules.  Due to COVID, there wasn't one last year.  There won't be one this year either, as everyone is still skittish about the whole thing.  I'm afraid another tradition has been lost in the name of progress.

For those of you new to this site, I grew up in upstate New York, but I've lived on Long Island for over 15 years now.  I've traveled all over the country for work, and I've never seen a place like Long Island when it comes to fireworks.  Every day people here feel the need to launch their own fireworks frequently and in large quantities.  From Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, not a night goes by people don't shoot off all sorts of rockets and grenades from dinner to midnight.  Some are of such professional quality they even shake the house on occasion.  I don't mean to sound like the curmudgeon I am coming across as, but with two little yipper dogs who both have anxiety problems and a baby that needs a peaceful night of sleep, living in the fireworks center of America is wearing thin on us.

This post sounds pretty negative, and that's not my intention.  The Independence Day 4th of July holiday is about celebrating all that is America.  My opinion on the direction of this country may have soured recently, but it's still the greatest place to live on earth.  We should all be grateful to be here, whether we're born here or not.  We should reflect on all who have gone before us that have worked hard, sacrificed, and gave everything to build this into the greatest nation on earth.

Last year, the guys at The Retro Network asked what pop culture reference makes us think about America.  My answer then, as it is now, was easy:  

The nighttime 4th of July baseball game from the movie "The Sandlot."  When Ray Charles' rendition of "America, the Beautiful" plays, it makes me feel happy and excited for the future, melancholy for the past, proud, and patriotic all at the same time.  

Please take the 3 minutes to watch the clip below.  It's worth it, I promise.  For whatever reason, the person who posted this video does not allow embedded viewing, so please click the link in the video or CLICK HERE TO WATCH IT ON YOUTUBE.