Sunday, September 21, 2008

My Top 50 Favorite Pop-Culture Phenoms

Whether it was a toy, a TV show, a movie, a song, an actor, a band or somehow a mix of it all, here now is a list of my favorite things from the intangiable archives of my popular culture mind-set.

1] The Frisbee: So many happy hours were spent flying this between me and an assortment of fine folk through the years. It was meant for the beach, but I mostly recall playing it on the street.

2] The Super Ball: If you bounced it hard enough, it went to Heaven.

3] The Herculoids: I think they made maybe 13 episodes of this animated TV series that grouped together superheroes for the mainstream viewer long before The X-Men made it the small or big screen. The sense of family loyalty, superpowers and love for animals was mingled together in such a fine, though somewhat banal, but never sappy way.

4] The Archies: Sugar, Sugar still gives me butterflies when I hear it - and you probably can't explain why, either.

5] The Brady Bunch: So many happy Friday nights at 7:30, then 8. Oh, the slapstick, the melodrama...the pork chops...the apple sauce.

6] The Monkees followed by American Bandstand: The Beatles, they weren't, but funny and entertaining, The Monkees were. And then to watch the once-ever-youthful Dick Clark on AB invite his studio audience to the dance floor - was just plain the coolest thing at the time.

7] Bewitched: Do I really have to explain this one?

8] Star Trek: Hope for the future amid precursers for clip-open cell phones, computer monitors, and bad sequels.

9] The Slinky: My father brought this home one night from work, along with some Silly Puddy and a Super Ball. Changed my life for days.

10] The Jackson Five: I used to sing I'll Be There over the phone to Linda Padilla, my first girlfriend from second grade. Everyone thought I danced like James Brown, too.

11] The Osmonds: I wanted to be Donny Osmond. I later had a massive crush on Marie. I'm so happy she looks so good and will soon her have own talk show. And it was real cool to see Donny sing Puppy Love one last time at a recent reunion (on TV).

12] The Bullworker: I never had the confidence to play sports in high school - and we didn't even have a gym in grammer school. But my father bought me the Bullworker (after seeing an ad for it in TV Guide, and it actually contributed to a very solid physique (along with me using free weights). I found one at a second hand-store a couple of years ago, and bought it for five dollars. You still can buy a really nice updated version of this portable gym somewhere online.

13] The Ten Commandments: The movie, not the rules. The dialogue, the cinematography, the acting, the story, 'natch - and the fact that ABC still shows every year - well...it's just awesome. My favorite scene: When Moses is condemned to the desert, and later meets his future wive (played by Yvonne The Munsters DeCarlo) and all her hot harem sisters. Moses finally has a moment to be just a man.

14] The Beatles: I still remember the night they debuted on The Ed Sullivan Show. My sister Pam and cousin Evie (who lived next door in our double house) kept screaming and yelling and running up and down the stairs in between the door upstairs (that linked our two separate living spaces).

15] The Beach Boys: They still always create summer in the middle of winter.

16] The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia: One of the best over-rated pop-songs ever made, and ever sung. A real close second to Tie A Yellow Ribbon ('Round the Old Oak Tree).

17] The Carol Burnette Show: Worlds collided when Vicky Lawrence sang The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia, but not enough to outshine the astounding memoric history of watching Carol, Harvey, Lylle and Tim.

18] The Dick Van Dyke Show: Supernatural entertainment come to life.

19] Casey Kasem's Top 40 Radio Show: His descriptions actually made you see music videos before MTV brought them to the screen.

20] Let's Make A Deal: I loved Monty Hall's right-hand woman/model Carol Merrill. She looked just like my third grade teacher, Miss Charlene. When I would later work the new edition of this show (as a page for NBC), I guess it was a dream come true.

21] Bob Hope: Nobody made Christmas specials like this man.

22] TV Guide: I used to love those really classy TV commercials. You know - when the multi-colored dots came on the screen - with that computer-esque music ("do, do, do, do, do, do). I used to collect them - until that Seinfeld episode in which George's father and that nutjob who was in love Elaine did the same.

23] Perry Mason: Classic, one-hour little movies.

24] The Andy Griffith Show: I'm still looking for Mayberry.

25] P-F Flyers: I tried flying with them. But they didn't work.

26] Love, American Style: What a friggin' great theme song.

27] The Partridge Family: I had the pooka-shells, but my hair never flipped back like David Cassidy's. But what a very underappreciated show for its great humor.

28] The Mike Douglas Show/The Merv Griffin Show: Probably starred the same person. Upon one of my first trips to LA, I actually had the chance to see both shows. I couldn't believe it.

29] Charlie's Angels: I later understood why Kate Jackson wanted to leave the series. But before I did comprehend just how bad this show was, to me, at the time, there was nothing like it on the air - and I loved every second of it.

30] The Bionic Woman and The Six Million Dollar Man: Not sci-fi shows at all...but a great love story...much like Bewitched.

31] Kung Fu: Enlightened the world.

32] Seinfeld: Changed the world.

33] Life Goes On: Saved the world.

34] Dark Shadows: Never endangered the world - but gave new meaning to true (blood) love...long before Buffy, The Vampire Slayer (and all those new, really sily vampire shows on now).

35] Silly Puddy: Was just plain fascinated with the fact that I could press it on the Sunday color comics page, and make copies.

36] Twister: Got this the same Christmas I got Hats Off. Made me happy for years.

37] Jesus Christ Superstar: First heard it in Religion class in sixth grade at St. Peter and Paul's. However, the teacher (the very cool Miss Vigna) had to clear it beforehand with the school's principle (Sister Florence)

38] Grease: No musical movie told a story so well, and so entertainingly for so many.

39] Saturday Night Fever: Changed my life.

40] ABC: Though I worked for NBC, ABC was always my favorite network. It was the good Fox-TV of its day.

41] The Hula-Hoop: Could never keep it on my hips - even as good a dancer as I was.

42] Woody Wood Pecker: One of my first memories - ever.

43] What A Wonderful World: The best song in the wonderful world.

44] The Color TV: One year, our old Motorola set died. My father, on the sly, went to Sears and bought a brand new 19" inch RCA futuristic color set. Couldn't believe it. And we had that set for years.

45] The Clapper: I knew it was imbedded in pop-culture when Roseanne incorporated it into her show.

46] Ronco: Love the commercials; love the Dan Ackroyd SNL skits.

47] Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer: Untouchable.

48] The Waltons: The first real family of TV.

49] George Washington Carver and Stuart Little: Two of the first books I ever read when ordered through the Weekly Reader.

50] The Weekly Reader: Changed my life forever. But didn't know it 'till just now.

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