New! Tuesday Trivia!

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Trying something new here, so please humor me.  Last year during the first time we all tried "15 days to stop the spread," I purchased this trivia game so that my wife and I had something to do besides watch television all day.  The "Most Excellent 80's and 90's Trivia Game" is all that and a bag of chips.  It says so right on the box!  

Kidding aside, we played a few times, and it went right into the basement storage closet, where I found the game just the other day.  I had an idea how I could use this game and create more fun reasons for you, dear reader, to keep returning to YesterYear, especially when I don't have a new article or story for you to read.  


Five Movie Theater Memories Summer of 2004

Friday, August 27, 2021

In the summer of 2004, I didn't have much to do besides "work" a 5-hour shift about three days a week.  I had gotten a job for the summer at a hand-made gift and craft shop, and two weeks into the full-time job, they announced the store was closing, so all employees were cut down to part-time.  What was going to be a summer full of employment suddenly found itself with a lot of free time.  

On a good day, I'd ring up maybe three customers and stock some shelves.  Most days, however, I just spent my time running out the clock.  I'd spend my shift walking up and down the aisles, running the vacuum, trying to memorize the number of steps up and down each row, counting the ceiling tiles... I was bored.  A lot of it was spent singing along with the only music the manager allowed us to play (Frank Sinatra) and thinking about working out.   

I had gotten into the best shape of my life at school the previous year, and I had worked my way up to running 5 to 7 miles per day and lifting weights like a fiend.  I wanted to be in the best shape of my life during my final semester at college, and what would likely (and did) wind up being my last season playing organized ice hockey.  

That summer, most of my copious amounts of free time at home involved drinking 2 gallons of water, eating grilled chicken, running, lifting weights, and sleeping.

I was also excited because for the first time ever, I had a television in my bedroom.  I brought home my TV from school and begged Dad to run a cable line up to the 2nd floor.  Around that time period, the cable networks all began to move towards digital cable, away from the old analog signal, and required a digital cable box on each television set.  Before then, you could run one line into the house from the street.  Using a splitter, you could then have several off-shoot lines to different television sets.  When we first hooked up my TV, I must have had 50 channels, but it slowly dwindled down to just The Food Network and USA Network.  My parents wouldn't pay for a cable box for the few months I was home, and I really didn't have any money to pay for it myself, so after I got down to just the bare minimum, I spent a lot of time watching DVDs and mastering "Vice City" on Play Station.  

When I wasn't doing any of that, I was going to the movie theater with my best friend from high school.  

If you didn't read my article about 2003 movie memories (CLICK HERE TO DO SO), my best friend from high school was a bit of a loner like myself and didn't have much going on either.  He preferred to stay in his room at his parent's house and watch his enormous DVD collection or play PlayStation until all hours of the night too.  He'd tell me stories of spending hours on internet message boards at 3 in the morning reading about all things Avril Lavigne or new comic book movies.  

Looking back, we did quite a bit together that summer, between playing roller hockey at the park with some guys from the old team, to a game we invented that combined tennis and racketball called "Rackis."  

Most of all, though, we made sure to go to the movie theater at least once a week.    

In fact, on Wednesdays, our parents jokingly called it our "date night" because it was understood we were going to the movies that night and we'd be out late.  Being out late was unusual for the two of us because we were both the kinds of kids who would rather be home on AOL Instant Messenger than out partying every night like some kids.  Our parents rarely had to wonder if we were out dead in a ditch somewhere.  

We must have easily seen over 50 films that summer!  Some of them were terrible, some of them we should have never paid to see (I'm looking at you, "Chasing Liberty,") but most of them were enjoyable.  

Good or bad, though, some of them were pretty memorable experiences.  

Retro Scan: 1996 Olympic Games Pog Set

Monday, August 23, 2021

I remember the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games being a huge deal.  Maybe it was just because I lived here in the US, where the games were held, and the full propaganda machine was pushing out every merchandise and advertising agreement they could, but I easily remember what seemed like the whole country was focused on those games.  

I certainly remember spending most of the summer of 1996 staying up late watching several events with my brother, especially the gymnastics and wrestling events.  

This year's Olympics?  Unfortunately, I don't think anyone really cares.  The games have been so politicized, and with COVID, nobody seems to be even talking about the games unless an athlete is making headlines for quitting or what have you.  Nobody I know has any clue what is going on in Tokyo this year.  Admittedly, it could be because, in 1996, we had very little to fill our free time with, and in 2021 we have 50 different streaming platforms and devices to fill every waking moment.  The time difference from Japan to the United States doesn't help much, either.

In 1996 though, it seemed like everyone was on top of the games and knew the top athletes in most events.  

What was everyone in my age group doing in 1996, also?  Playing with POGS, of course!

POGS (or "Milk Caps") is played with flat circular cardboard milk jug caps. Players make a stack of these caps and take turns to drop a heavier "slammer," causing the caps to be disrupted.  Each player keeps the face-up caps and restacks the face-down ones, repeating the process until there is a winner.  

The name POGS comes from the original brand of juice, "POG," where the game was created in Hawaii.  The drink was a mixture of Passionfruit, Orange, and Guava juice.

Upon opening this pack of milk caps, I sort of felt short-changed, even 25 years later.  They promise 5 caps per pack, but 2 of the 5 I received were the same ones!  Oh, well!

Enjoy this collection of nostalgia fun from the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia... 25 years ago!

25 Years Ago: WWF's Summer Slam 1996!

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

When I began 9th grade in the fall of 1998, I was more than just nervous about starting high school.  I was extremely jealous of two of my friends.

If you read my recent feature about "Summer Wrestling Memories" (if you haven't yet, please CLICK HERE to do so), you'd have read about my time doing some backyard wrestling with my two good friends.  My parents didn't really like that I was into wrestling and wouldn't encourage it by buying shirts, posters, or tickets to live events. But these two?  They had it all.  

Everything, including tickets to SummerSlam 1998, with the main attraction featuring the two hottest acts in pro wrestling:  Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Undertaker.  

I was definitely a WCW fan, but I definitely wanted to be there to see it with a headline act like that.  To make matters worse, it was at The Garden!  Madison Square Garden was our "home" arena just 30 minutes down the Palisades Parkway and was the mecca of pro wrestling! 

I never even bothered to ask my parents for tickets because I knew the answer would be a resounding NO.  Come to think of it, Joe and Andrew never asked me if I wanted to go with them either because I'm sure they knew I wouldn't. 

So, I was definitely jealous when they both were wearing the t-shirts from the show on the first day of school.  They both had several great stories of their trip into the city, and I was green with envy.

That's how SummerSlam 1998 went for me, but for today let's take a look two years earlier in 1996 to make it a nice even 25 years ago.  Just as the Monday Night Wars were starting to heat up, WWF SummerSlam took place in Cleveland, Ohio, as Shawn Michaels took on Vader!  

If you'd like to read about WCW's summer tent pole event from that year, Bash at the Beach, CLICK HERE to read about the night Hulk Hogan changed wrestling and pop culture history in one night.

Join me on a road trip down memory lane into the summers of yesteryear as we look back on the 1996 WWF SummerSlam! 

How The Wonder Years Shaped My Ideal Summer Evening

Thursday, August 12, 2021

When you're a kid, you likely have a perfect vision of what "adulting" is.  That one item or thing that you'd be able to point to when you grew up and say, "THIS is what being an adult is."

For me?  I found my ideal "adult" scenario in a theme song to a movie made 30 years before I was born and in a rerun of "The Wonder Years" when I was about 12 years old.

"The Wonder Years" means a lot to me.  Speaking of "The Wonder Years," did you realize that "The Wonder Years" was made in the 1980s depicting the 1960s, and we are further away today in 2021 from the 80s when the show was from the 60s?  Wow, we're all old.  

For me, when growing up, the perfect "adult evening" could best be described with a backyard summer barbeque.  

Picture it, Sicily 1945... no wait, wrong sitcom.

Picture it, beautiful Americana, 1960.  The sun has set, and it's now late into the evening, and the party is just getting going.  Which is funny because in real life, whenever it gets dark out, I tend to get all "let's wrap it up quickly and go home."  Paper lanterns hang from a string over large crowds of friends, family, and coworkers, all chatting, dancing, and laughing.  Children laugh and scream in delight as they splash about in the pool or run through the legs of adults.  

I'm busy standing behind the grill, flipping burgers as I chomp on a cigar while my friends and I share a laugh.  

I picture Tony Soprano meets Jack Arnold, Sopranos meets Wonder Years.  

Either way, picture every piece of tacky Tiki party decoration from a place like Party City plastered around the patio.  Flamingos, hula skirts, coconuts, palms, lanterns, and tiki torch overload.  

I'd be in heaven.  
Of course, the music in the background must be "Theme from A Summer Place" by Percy Sledge.  What other song could play as we all share laugh after laugh without a care in the world?

Where did all of this silliness come from?  

Episode 23 of "The Wonder Years" titled "How I'm Spending My Summer Vacation."  

Retro Scans: 1992 Topps Jurassic Park Movie Cards

Monday, August 9, 2021

"Jurassic Park" began its life in film history in 1990 when Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment (Steven Spielberg) purchased the rights to the novel by Michael Chrichton before the book was even published.  The book itself was very successful, and it's safe to say so was the 1993 film adaptation.  The film was selected in 2018 for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." The 1993 movie, which hit theaters on June 9, 1993, is still considered one of the greatest films of the 1990s and received several sequels.

In "Jurassic Park," John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) is the owner of a theme park located on Isla Nublar named, of course, Jurassic Park. After an incident with a velociraptor, Hammond brings in three specialists to sign off on the park to calm investors. The specialists, paleontologist Alan Grant (Sam Neill), paleobotanist Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), and chaos theorist Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), are surprised to see the island park's main attraction are living, breathing dinosaurs, created with a mixture of fossilized DNA and genetic cross-breeding/cloning. When lead programmer Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight) turns off the park's power to sneak out with samples of the dinosaur embryos to sell to a corporate rival, the dinosaurs break free, and the survivors are forced to find a way to turn the power back on and make it out alive. 

Spielberg cited Godzilla as an inspiration for Jurassic Park, specifically Godzilla, King of the Monsters! (1956), which he grew up watching.  The film is regarded as a landmark in the use of computer-generated imagery and was praised by critics.  It grossed more than $914 million worldwide during its original release, becoming the most successful film.  "Jurassic Park" surpassed E.T. as the most successful film of all time, until 4 years later when "Titanic" was released.  It is currently the 17th highest grossing feature film but the most financially successful film for Steven Spielberg.  

I enjoyed browsing through the following set of cards, and I hope you enjoy the summer blockbuster flashback!  The photos on the cards aren't all great, but it's still enough of a nostalgia blast from the early 90s that won me over.  That's the point of this whole site, now isn't it?  I liked the sticker included in the pack, The Brachiosaur.  My favorite dinosaur, the Brontosaurus, was a close cousin of this one featured in the film, and I believe at the time schools were teaching the Brontosaurus didn't really exist, but I think they've reversed that decision.  

The flip side of the sticker (and last image here) is a puzzle piece, as most card packs include.  Seems to me it's a piece to a picture featuring the dinosaur that spits tar-like goo all over Dennis Nedry!

5 Summer Music Memories

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

I'm definitely not what I would call a "music person."  I've worked with some people that can spend hours telling me about their music collection, how they spent weeks perfecting their "playlist," or go deep into conversation about songs that never get air time on the radio.  I've had conversations about things like this with people about singers like Enya.  Yes, even that Enya.

That's just not my thing.  Sure, I can prattle off about pro wrestling lore or things from my childhood like Ghostbusters or Dick Tracy, and that probably bores the music folk just as much as their songs make my eyes roll.  I don't HATE music; I do have some songs I like, but that's about it.  I don't go "deep," as they say, and my taste is a pretty eclectic set of songs.  

The songs I really like tend to remind me of a moment in time from the past.  If I had to classify my favorite type of music, I guess it would be classic rock.  I'm not really sure.  Of course, being a Long Islander, it's basically required to like Billy Joel, and I do.  

In the car, I'd rather listen to my podcasts or talk radio.  I won't listen to the sports or politics kind of talk radio, but more the Opie and Anthony and Howard Stern "hot talk" format.  

That all said, I understand why most people prefer music.  For me, and I'm sure everyone else, hearing a certain song can instantly bring me back to a time and place, or even a specific scent sometimes, that I haven't thought of in years. 

The following 5 songs bring me right back to great memories of the summer times of my youth.  Hopefully, they spark a memory of your own!