Today’s Teens Wouldn’t Have Survived the ’80s and ’90s

As a parent to a teenager, I am fully qualified to write this post. It’s necessary to do so, or I may explode on one of today’s youth. This week, I watched the timeless ’90s classic Jawbreaker. A deliciously wicked mix of pretty iconic ’90s teen actors and girl-hate, complete with social statements, murder and Marilyn Manson.

Watching Jawbreaker got me thinking though. As I struggle with my own teenager to do simple things like homework, I am reminded that teens in the ’80s and ’90s had it hard. We were caught between an evolving world while trying to maintain our innocence


Here are five reasons why today’s teens would have “literally” died in the ’80s and ’90s:

Lack of tech

I love the meme that says: Respect your parents because they survived school without Google. Preach on. Not only that, but teachers nowadays also give students digital resources to study and do their work. Most of us had to go to the library (gasp!) to research and use a computer. Some of us – those really lucky – had computers at home, but dealt with slow Internet connections and printers that freaked out the night before a paper was due. There were no cellphones, much less ones that did work for you. Texting and social media didn’t exist. If you wanted to reach someone, you called or paged their beeper. Even less of us had those.

As far as entertainment, we had a TV and maybe a video game console. We read books. We played outside. We got sunburned from staying out too long because there was nothing else to do. We couldn’t – and most didn’t want to – waste time staring at a screen all day. Sure, technology makes much of our tasks easier now, but teens need to get a grip and do something else. It’s not rocket science; maybe get off the devices and do something productive.

We were a lot tougher

I had to get my first job when I was 10 years old. I didn’t have a choice because I wanted something important that my parents couldn’t afford. My first job was mowing yards and washing cars. I used a push mower, and the back incline was at a 45-degree angle. I weighed all of 65 lbs., but I pushed that mower side to side on that hill every week. When I was 15, I started at the store and remained there until I was 26. I essentially grew up at work.

Many of our parents couldn’t afford to buy us whatever we wanted. We got a couple of things for holidays, and we appreciated them. Way more than teens today do. And we dang sure didn’t get a $300 phone and $700 bucks worth of games, clothes, music, etc. In high school, most of my friends had almost full-time jobs, and we had to have them to help support ourselves and families. We had and wanted to become self-sufficient.

The world did not revolve around us. Ever.

The absence of social media meant we could not – and never would be – the center of attention. We were all equal. Sure, there were cliques, but you knew who your true friends were and you helped protect others. We cared about life. We knew hurt and sorrow. I knew four people in high school who died in tragic accidents, but we didn’t disrespect them by posting horrible comments about how much we hated them or go on about how big the loss. We were private, and we respected each other. We had a sense of comradery and looked out for one another. The world owned us nothing, and we had to depend on ourselves.

No Re-dos

I was blown away a few weeks ago when I found out kids can retake tests they fail (in Nashville). What?! Retakes?

I feel this is a disservice to students. First, there are no retakes in college. Secondly, there are no retakes in life or work. If you fail, you fail. It’s that simple. Teens in the ’80s and ’90s made a ton of mistakes, but most of us turned out fine. We made mistakes, partied, lied to our parents, they busted us, and we paid the price. It made us smarter too because we had to think of creative ways to get what we wanted. How do you change or improve yourself if you can just redo your mistakes? That goes against reality in ways I don’t even have words to express. Shame on the administrators who approved that process in order to achieve higher test scores.

Censorship Didn’t Exist

I was young when Tipper Gore went on her censorship crusade and eventually got the “explicit language” warning on albums. Did that stop me from buying those albums. Of course not! Did it stop people of age buying me CDs with those lyrics? Of course not! The music scene in the ’80s and ’90s was raw, expressive and full of protest. Much of it was passionate and spoke out against wrongdoings. We weren’t sheltered from the real world, we lived in it and could relate to the music.

We watched the O.J. Simpson trial and verdict in our classrooms (I was 13 years old). We followed trials that accused Michael Jackson of child sexual abuse (11 years old). We were there when Bill Clinton faced his adultery mistake with Monica Lewinsky (15 years old). We lived through the Columbine High School tragedy (17 years old) and watched the world in turmoil during the Gulf War (8-9 years old). Our parents didn’t keep it from us; they educated and better prepared us for the world that we live in now.

With all that said, I applaud all of you who grew up in the ’80s and ’90s. Thanks for reading and becoming the people you are!

The Jem Movie: Universal Got What They Deserved

Jem and the Holograms 2015 had the third-worst opening in box-office history. That’s a pretty hefty price tag and epic fail for Universal, and my response is: They deserved it.

As a woman in my 30s, I was delighted to hear they were going to make a movie of my beloved childhood idol. You see, I was obsessed with Jem and the Holograms when I was a girl. I had the dolls, car, outfits, cassette tapes and books. My mom and I dressed up as them for Halloween.
As an adult, I have even watched a few episodes online. They are not as appealing now, but my taste in music has improved and I expect more. However, I still enjoy them.


That is why I refused to see this movie after the trailer was released. Jem’s story was not a heart-felt, coming-of-digital-age story. The original Jem series was about glam, fashion, music, and relationships. There was drama, adult themes, mild cartoon violence, and flawed heroes. It was an 80s cartoon! These cartoons brought real-world issues to kids in a fun way. They were not politically correct. They did not try to make you feel warm and fuzzy. Many 80s cartoons simply taught kids how to deal with conflict.

Instead of rebooting the cartoon into an animated feature or sticking to some of the original story, Universal decided to modernize – aka bastardize – it. I will never see the movie, so I’m going to have to bash the trailers. Here are my biggest problems with the movie and why it failed:

  • A YouTube star. Because the world needed or wanted that? No.
  • It was a teen story. Jem and the Holograms and The Misfits were not teens. They were adults. They partied, had adult relations, and experienced adult conflicts. The cartoon showed kids how to deal with mature problems and relationships.
  • Universal chose the wrong audience. Who was the audience for this movie? It was women between the ages of 30-40 and possibly their moms. This age group is nichey, but there are roughly 157 million women born between 1980 and 1990 (US Census Bureau). That was the audience. As someone in that audience, I can say that a movie made about Hole vs. Babes in Toyland would have been more accurate to Jem and catered to the audience.
  • The music was awful. Again, audience. My generation still listens to Joan Jett and Guns N Roses. We still love hairbands and bad-A chicks. Not pop stars.
  • Identity crisis. Jem did not have an identity problem. She knew who she was. She was a rockstar superhero with a secret identity. She was not a troubled teen trying to find herself or hide and from the world. You would think with the superhero trend right now, Universal would have been smart enough to make that angle work. Here’s an idea: A female Scott Pilgrim-type movie. That would have been gold.
  • The costumes. If you’re going to “modernize” an 80s cartoon/movie, how does it make sense to have them play a keytar? The makeup and costumes looked like a Hunger Games rip off. In fact, I get a very Capitol feel from Juliette Lewis’ character and Hollywood from the trailer.
  • Synergy was Eve from Walle. And a projector that played home movies at that. The original Synergy was an 80s supercomputer built to alternate reality. She created holograms – hence the name – and could change their appearance. Synergy transformed reality, allowing them to have a different identity.

And there you have it. I accepted a live-action movie, and for a moment, was excited to see what Hollywood could do with my childhood idol. When I realized I could not relate to the story and characters, and they butchered it, I vowed to never see it. I would not watch this movie if it was my only form of entertainment. I will never support it. And Universal should pay close attention because 157 million women apparently felt the same way.

Jem’s Rolls Royce and the Post Office Adventure

Who remembers this car/toy? This was Jem’s Rockin’ Roadster, released only in 1986. The next year it was replaced by the Glitter N’ Gold Roadster, which was probably more appealing to little girls. I disagree.

Jem Rolls Royce

I was 4 years old when the Rockin’ Roadster came out, and I believe Santa brought it to me. I was Jem obsessed – and still somewhat am – and had most of the dolls, accessories, books, tapes, and whatever else we could afford.

This car symbolizes my childhood. Crazy colors, fun, and energetic. Nearly 30 years later, when I hear “Jem” I think of this car.

And I found one. Oh yeah, I bought this fabulously 80s treat. Scheduled to arrive early this week, I had trouble containing my excitement. Not only was this more than affordable for what it was, but it was in great condition. Even the radio works.

The Post Office Fiasco

This week rolled around, and on Wednesday I received a slip saying the post carrier left the package with my apartment manager. I visited the office, and they didn’t have it. I remained calm and called the post office.

A wonderful lady took all my information, and said to check back later. On Thursday, I called the post office, and no one had seen it. This time I spoke to an idiot, who answered the phone laughing and put me on hold, so she could contain herself. Then she was useless and advised me to call Friday morning to speak to the carrier personally – “only they know what they did with the package.”

Friday morning came, and I called again. Thankfully, the nice lady answered and spoke to the carrier for me, and they had no idea where it was. The carrier’s daughter ran the route and said she left it in the package box. Well, guess what? She didn’t because it was way too big. And again, no one knew where it was.

By Saturday, I was about to have a nervous breakdown. When I placed the order last week, I had this terrible feeling something would happen to it because it was so special to me. That’s just my luck. I called the post office again and spoke to another useless person who was less than helpful. I had lots of errands to run but ended up back at the apartment office. I decided to check the packages for the third time, and my manager found it! Apparently, it had been dropped of late Friday afternoon.

After 10 minutes of getting through the packaging, the Jem Rockin’ Roaster has a new home! Here’s a full tour of its awesomeness!

Jem Rolls Royce
For scale: It’s 24 inches long.
Jem Rolls Royce
Gorgeous 80’s plastic chrome. Only the top cars had this feature.
Jem Rolls Royce
Roomy interior, but it was hard fitting the huge dolls.
Jem Rolls Royce
Missing the stick shift, but the hot-pink interior more than makes up for it.
Jem Rolls Royce
Beautiful curves and gem white-wall wheels.
Jem Rolls Royce
Check out the working FM radio! I mis-remembered this as a tape player, but I do credit the radio for my love of The Monkies. It picks up a whopping three channels and provided music on many days!
Jem Rolls Royce
Pimpin’ in 80’s style. The end.


Halloween Flashback

We hope everyone had a safe and happy Halloween! We filled our week with horror movies, costuming, giving out candy, and having fun. That’s what it’s all about 🙂

As promised in my Little Costumes post, here are two pics of little me at Halloween. These were the only ones we found, but as you can see, I still loved the season:

Lil Jem and a hologram
Late 1980s: I think I was four or five in this one. My mom says we were Jem and a Hologram – I LOVED Jem. I vaguely remember this costume, but I do remember the headband with the bow. If you’d like a seasonal blast from the past, check out the Halloween-themed Jem!
Santa Claus and a Witch
1991: This is a pretty adorable story. According to my mom, my little brother was scared of everything (except me lol), so she dressed him up as Santa Claus. I do remember him loving Santa! I was an evil witch in bright blue heels, which were my grandma’s.

We want to thank all our readers and hope everyone had a great October. We’re looking forward to writing new reviews, writing tips, stories, and whatever else we can dream up. We also celebrated our one-year anniversary of Lil’ Horsemen (on Halloween), so if you haven’t read it, we’d love for you to check it out!

Halloween Costumes: A Personal Retrospective

Fall is my favorite time of year.  The crisp air, just cool enough to be comfortable and maybe require a light jacket, but not the bitter frozen temperatures of winter.  The sound of dried, fallen leaves blown by the wind.  The strange orangey glow of an autumn sunset.  The smell of fall is indescribable, but one that is always one that is the most indelibly tied to memories of haunted houses, costume shopping, and playing with my Freddy glove replica.

I’ve love Halloween and since I was a kid. I always dressed up as something (minus about two years in high school and the four years of college).  I can’t remember them all, and there were a couple years where we had to skip trick-or-treating.  One notable incident occurred when I was 5 or 6.  Living in Las Vegas, it rained horribly and drowned out the annual Halloween excursion.  Instead, we rented Nightmare on Elm Street 1 & 3.  As a 5-6 year old, I was terrified and it had a lasting impact.  I mean I couldn’t even be safe ASLEEP according to that film!  I always credit that experience to my current stoicism.  I was scared of essentially everything for the next 2-3 years.  And have never really been scared since…

The times missing trick-or-treating were rare, however, and most of the time my sister and I went through the neighborhood, dressed as SOMETHING, collecting our bounty, and being scared by houses with good displays (one kid dressed as Jason, stood perfectly still, then ran after kids when they got close!).

Unusually, I never dressed up as monsters or anything scary.  I was always something fun or goofy.  In the 80s, it was all about fun.  Here are some classic 80s costumes from my Halloween past!  Some of them may be out of order, the dates weren’t always clear, but it’s mostly right!

Circa 1984. I’m a pumpkin. I don’t remember the costume…but I DO remember that candy pail. Apparently I chose to coordinate to match that year. I loved that pail, but they never hold much candy.
Circa 1985. Of all my lil kid costumes, I remember this robot the best. I have no idea why. Something about that gold mask…
Circa 1986. My sister and I as matching skeletons! I remember seeing this same thing in the Karate Kid later. It was just a black shirt and pants with glow-in-the-dark bones on it. I used them as pajamas later. I remember now it had a skull mask that cut into your eye sockets…
Circa 1987. I LOVED dinosaurs. In fact, I STILL love dinosaurs. I wore this costume to play dinosaur for a couple years after I wore it for Halloween.  Oh and, ahem, RAWR!
Circa 1987 again. The dinosaur showing the foam plates on my head. My sister was a black cat that year!  As an aside, I LOVE the Real Ghostbusters loot bag.
Circa 1988. I have to admit I have no idea what I am here. My mom doesn’t even remember. I’m apparently some kind of Halloween video game robot. That’s my best guess.
Circa 1988.  These are my body-popping moves.
Circa 1988. Just to show it had more weird stuff on the back.
Circa 1989. I’m supposed to be the Joker here, but it might come off a little too regular clowny. I also remember I tried to use spray on hair dye that didn’t work because of my black hair.

Off the Top of My Head #13: Playgrounds for Grown Ups!

Off The Top of My Head

Our generation (everyone who’s around 30 something now) has received a lot of criticism from our parents’ generation as being “immature.”  Almost as if, though we’re in our late 20s and early-to-mid 30s, we are arrested adolescents who don’t want to “grow up” in the same way their generation did.

Honestly I remember, as a kid, everyone I knew who was “30” seemed very grown-up, very adult, very boring, and OLD.

Well I’m over 30 now.  I do feel a bit old as I have, honestly said “kids these days” recently, and my body doesn’t like the idea of some things as much as it used to (I have thought, “Oh lord my knees won’t be doing THAT” recently as well).  However I have to point out, I see nothing wrong with being a member of the Toy-R-Us generation.  I’m a Toy-R-Us kid.  I don’t wanna grow up.

I have a grown-up job and grown-up responsibilities, but the day I stop finding the joy in playing with toys, board games, and old-school video games is the day a part of me dies.  If older generations heap criticism on us for enjoying reading Wolverine instead of The Washington Post I say it’s their loss.

Which brings us to the topic of the day.  Recently, on a whim, my lovely RevPub counterpart and I were walking around a park at night.  It was a park I visited as a kid, and I was reminiscing on the dodgy playground that used to be on the grounds.  Near the end of the trek, I spotted landmarks I remembered; a bell, a café (that was just a bathroom at the time), and a picnic area.  I then discovered the old playground was long gone, replaced with a NEW one.  A new one that had features big enough for adults.  We spent the next 45 minutes or so running around on the playground structures, sliding down the big tube-slide, traversing the awesome twisty slide, and the monkey bars.  Afterward we ran over to the swings and swung for another few minutes (I’m so lame I got a bit nauseous and it was at this point I thought “I used to jump off while swinging!  Oy my knees wouldn’t take that now…”)

After the run around on the playground we both agreed, there NEEDS to be playgrounds for adults.  Playgrounds where NO kids are allowed (so you don’t have to worry about knocking over tiny people while running like crazy or watching your language), rides big and high enough for adults, and open all hours.

Look at that! Fun for all ages!

Imagine a busy day at work, but taking a break on lunch to have a go on an adult-sized merry-go-round or teeter totter.  We loved them as kids, had great fun, got all our frustrations out, and got exercise.  Part of adult frustration is no exercise. The secret to exercising is finding an activity that’s FUN.  If it’s not fun, you won’t keep doing it.  I haven’t had as much fun exercising as I did playing on the playground and could see doing that every day if I could!

It would provide adults with a healthy activity, relieve stress, and help us forget the troubles a bit.  You can’t be angry on a swing set!

So come on playground/park industry.  Let’s make this happen.  I think everyone I know who is my age would spend time on an adult playground, and we can’t be the only ones.

And fellow adults, let’s let go a bit and enjoy a go on the slide.  We loved them then, and I think a part of us will ALWAYS love them.  Never forget the responsibilities of being an adult, but also never forget the pure, carefree, joy of being a kid.  I think finding a medium between the two is the secret to being truly happy.