Trick or Treat! You Can Have It All With These 80s Songs

Happy Halloween! (Insert Halloween pumpkin or ghost emoji here)!!

In honor of this most spooky of holidays let’s go back in time and consider the top 10 scariest 80s songs to dance to at your Halloween party. And by scariest, I mean awesome-est.

10. Roxwell “Somebody’s Watching Me” 

Because any time you have Michael Jackson singing background vocals on your record (even if you’re Berry Gordy’s son), that’s scary. That’s like Tom Brady throwing a football at a JV football game.

9. Tiffany “I Think We’re Alone Now”

Just imagine a bunch of screaming girls at a mall.

8. Heart “Alone”

There’s something so gothic about this song. I can just picture Dracula in a corner, listening intently.

7. Oingo Boingo “Weird Science”

The movie “Weird Science” features Anthony Michael Hall (nerd laureate of the 80s) in a movie with an adorkably sexist plot. Our hero realizes that if you’re a brainiac you don’t need to win over a gorgeous girl, you can just create her with your computer!

Men haven’t left their computers since.

6. Michael Sembello “Maniac”

Exotic dancer by night, steel welder by day. Working women finally have a character in a movie they can relate to. Look how hard she’s working!

5. The Proclaimers “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)”

Because any dude who walks 500 miles to be the man to fall down at your door is a little scary. I can understand walking 250 miles, but 500? 500 miles is too much. That’s just a little bit weird.

4. Madonna “Like A Prayer”

No 80s dance mix is complete without Madonna.

“Life is a mystery. Everyone must stand alone.”

3. a-ha “Take On Me”

Girl sits at a lunch counter reading a comic book. Dude in comic book comes to life and takes her on a magical journey into his world.

I could see the potential for scary situations there.

2. Ray Parker, Jr. “Ghostbusters”

“If there’s something strange in your neighborhood, who you gonna call?”

Before Bill Murray became an indie darling he was a blockbuster ghost-fighting sensation. Bill Murray continues to haunt my dreams.

1. Michael Jackson “Thriller”

Our countdown goes full circle!

Not only did Michael Jackson invent the narrative music video as we know it today, he also cemented his omnipresence in our lives EVERY SINGLE HALLOWEEN with this classic song!

Feel free to holler at me with your spooky 80s dance party suggestions!

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Homecoming Weekend

 

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Me on the Lawn

Novelist Thomas Wolfe once wrote You Can’t Go Home Again. The novel tells the story of a writer who writes a book about his hometown. The book is a bestseller, but the people who live in his hometown are not happy with the way they are portrayed in the book.

There is a risk in writing about one’s hometown.

Writers have no qualms writing fiction about big cities like New York City, L.A. and Paris as they are. They don’t change the name of the city or the streets or the subway trains. New York is New York in all its glittering lights and iconic skyline. Paris et Paris, Oui!

But when writers write about actual small towns, say their home town, they usually change the name of the town and the names of the places and institutions unique to the specific town.

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I make a point of trying to go to Charlottesville for the Homecoming football game whenever I can, and with my schedule this year I was able to attend the game Saturday against UNC.

It’s impossible to talk about Charlottesville without talking about the recent tragic death of UVa student Hannah Graham. It affected me deeply. People tend to feel more safe in small towns than they do in big cities. People are on edge in cities, because there is a sense that anything goes. In small towns, especially on idyllic college campuses, you feel protected and safe. What happened to Hannah Graham, what happened to Morgan Harrington five years ago, could have happened to anyone who felt at home and safe in a college town.

I felt the reverberations when I visited Charlottesville this past weekend. Even though the suspect is in jail, thanks to incredible work by the local police, I noticed fewer students walking alone even in broad daylight. I overheard girls talking about not wanting to walk from the stadium to the corner after the game. They wanted to drive instead. I noticed guy students offering to walk girls where they needed to go. Despite the fun and revelry going on, I noticed a shadow over it all. A tinge of sadness.

I am comforted to see students looking out for each other. I am actually comforted to see a huge police presence in Charlottesville and Albemarle County. I am comforted to see students are still going to the football games, still going to the alumni reunions. I feel the community is taking steps towards healing.

In a lot of ways Thomas Wolfe is right. One can’t really go home again, because you can’t go back in time. The hometown you remember is never the same as you left it.

Yet, we go back again.

Appreciating The Now

Adults love to talk about foliage. We know our way around a golden leaf. When the leaves show the first hint of changing in early October, we get giddy. When peak foliage season arrives we can barely contain ourselves.

“Boy, the leaves are changing already.”

“They sure are.”

This typical water cooler conversation makes you want to go on a hike and frolic through a pumpkin patch immediately.

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Imagine the possibilities.

Why are you still on your computer or smart phone device? You should be outside frolicking!

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Hashtag awesome!

The changing seasons have a way of unifying us. In our various regions, we all experience them together. And when you go through a transition in your life, say a new job or, in my case, start graduate school in a new city, the familiar patterns of the seasons can ground you in a sense of normalcy, and provide a great origin point for that ever-important adult past time: small talk.

While it’s no secret I hold a torch for the culture of the ’80s ( those suits! that hair!),

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Miami Vice

in honor and appreciation of the changing seasons, I think we should take the time to go outside, breath some fresh air and appreciate the present day.

We are often so caught up in our own trials, tribulations, and day-to-day chores and errands that it becomes difficult to step outside of ourselves and engage with the people around us.

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Mount Vernon

Go for a stroll in your nearby park, take a walk around your neighborhood, explore the town you live in or volunteer to walk dogs and pet cats at your local animal shelter. Take the time to chit chat with your coworkers. Smile at your neighbors.

It might surprise you how a remark about changing leaves can change someone’s day.

 

A Move

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My cat Oliver

Behold my cat Oliver. During a move I gathered all his toys together so he could play with them. I’d already packed away everything else in the apartment. Rather than play with the toys, though, Oliver preferred to lie down and stare at them, curiously.

When all the furniture and boxes disappeared, Oliver huddled on the balcony. He walked back in the apartment, tail low, eyes searching. He meowed loudly. Where is my sofa leg? Where is my ottoman? Where is all my stuff that I put my scent on? He stubbornly rubbed his whiskers against a corner wall, refusing to let the forces of habit cave in to all this change. Finally, after surveying the altered rooms, he collapsed next to his toys. These toys are so familiar, and yet…they are so different. He didn’t feel like playing.

It is not only humans who assign meaning to objects.

 

Will The Album “1989” Sound like The Year 1989?

October 13, Taylor Swift released a short clip on Good Morning America previewing her new single “Out Of The Woods” off her fifth studio album, 1989. The song is available to purchase on iTunes and the official audio is on YouTube

I’m about to say something that will probably alienate some people and shock those who know me as an unabashed Taylor Swift fan.

While “Shake It Off” was a great pop song if lacking in the lyrical depth department, I think this new single “Out Of The Woods” doesn’t quite measure up. Now I’m really worried about what the rest of the album is going to sound like. All that sticks out to me about the song is Swift incessantly repeating “are we out of the woods” over a boring, vanilla melody. Swift has always managed to grab us lyrically with the verse and the chorus. This hook doesn’t do it for me. It’s too repetitive and it doesn’t even grab me. It has the musical attractiveness of a nursery rhyme.

Taylor, why are you doing this to me? Your loyal fan and one who adores the ’80s?

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I appreciate your music. I admire–no I think worship is the right word here–your introspective song lyrics and your unapologetic take on relationships in your songwriting. You tell your stories so well.

Naming the album “1989” causes many of us to expect the music to sound like the ’80s.

I think this album so far sounds very 2014 with the repetitive lyrics in the chorus and the rhythmic beat likely achieved by Swift’s collaboration with fun’s Jack Antonoff. I suppose one’s adoration of this song depends mainly on two factors: 1) how much of a Swift fan are you and 2) how much of a Antonoff fan are you. Musically, I don’t think the song stands alone as great.

I’m alone in feeling this way though. In the article in Billboard, we learn Swift and Antonoff came up with the song as a kind of homage to John Hughes, creator of the legendary films “Pretty In Pink”, “Some Kind of Wonderful, “Sixteen Candles”, etc. Swift and Antonoff wanted to make an “anthemic” song that captured the level of emotion we felt when we heard Simple Mind’s “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” in the credits of the iconic ’80s film “The Breakfast Club”:

I am curious. Do you think the album “1989” will hearken back to the music of the late 1980s and live up to its expectations? Or is it a marketing ploy to our generation’s sense of nostalgia for the culture of ten, twenty, thirty years ago?

Book Review: The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.

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Much as Greer Cohen frequently pops up in Nate’s life piquing his curiosity throughout Adelle Waldman’s The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P., this book existed on the periphery of my life, appearing in reviews and magazines enticing me to read it.

I expected not to like it, and therefore, avoided reading it. Here we go. Another book about Brooklyn. Another story about the privileged, Ivy League educated darlings of the liberal, hipster enclave of New York, New York who dutifully recycle their plastic Whole Foods containers, manage to spend all their time writing and wandering with no 9-5 to speak of on their resumes, and listen to way cooler music than I do. I feel exhausted already just thinking about it.

Yet just as Nate is both attracted and repelled by “sex memoirist” Greer Cohen with the six figure book deal, I caved. What the heck, I’ll read this story about Brooklyn. I did, and I couldn’t put it down. It is, at its core, a well-told love story that is shockingly realistic. Its ending grinds against all Hollywood has taught us: doesn’t the interesting, hip, cool guy always end up with the “nice and smart, or smart and nice” girl who challenges him? Waldman kicks idealism to the curb, and shows us it’s a lot more complicated in real life for actual nice girl Hannah and allegedly nice guy Nate. She delivers us the harsh truth about our generation’s post-feminist hook-up culture, told through the point of view of the intelligent, well-intentioned male protagonist, the “nice guy” who ends up putting the women he dates through hell, and doesn’t get the comeuppance he deserves.

Waldman’s story rang true to me, and she skillfully navigates the psyche of a man who wants to do the right thing, but is ultimately more interested in doing what he wants to do, justified or not. The dynamics of the early part of Nate and Hannah’s relationship reminded me of Woody Allen’s Annie Hall,

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except unlike Alvie, Nate isn’t charming. Nate’s likeability factor sucks. But early in the book, on Nate and Hannah’s first date, we get a glimpse of why women might find him attractive anyway. Nate laughs at Hannah’s reasoning for occasionally smoking because she says, “I just get so sick of the antismoking thing…it’s so totalitarian” and he proceeds to kiss her against the side of the building, which somehow fits the moment. It captures the fun excitement of a good first date in all its limitless potential.

Much has been written about the similarities between Waldman’s third-person omniscient narrator and the style of Jane Austen. Both knowingly and lovingly get inside the heads of their earnest, upper middle-class characters and reveal universal truths about love and lust, casual relationships and romances that last forever.

In red states, the verbal wordplay among twenty-somethings in the dating scene may not necessarily be about the used books on the bookshelf from Brown (it definitely would not be about the advantages of Marxism, which is ironically debated at the dinner party in the book) but the witty conversations may still be about used books. Having lived in two red states, and grown up in Virginia, I can assure you that yes, Southerners do read. They also write, and write very well! I don’t think it’s fair to pigeonhole this book into a story about privileged New Yorkers, though it is just that. This book could have been set anywhere where young people are navigating the dating world in a culture that encourages them to pursue their own individual goals and dreams, and still care about another person’s feelings.

Love is a complicated journey and you hope that eventually the two people that are right for each other find each other, but sometimes it isn’t easy for the “nice and smart, and smart and nice” people. Love can’t be pigeonholed, and neither can this book.

From Camera to Classroom

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In the near future I will stand in front of a classroom of about twenty-five freshman college students at my university, and teach them how to become better writers. I’ll teach how to develop a thesis statement, compile and cite sources, properly use quotations, and construct a (hopefully) clear and concise five paragraph essay.

I’m nervous.

The fact that I’m nervous surprises me. It wasn’t too long ago, only three months in fact, that I stood in front of a camera every morning and produced live reports on the spot day in and day out. I provided folks with the news of the day bright and early at five a-m.

Not long before that, about a year ago, I covered breaking news at a blistering pace every single day. I interviewed the family members of victims of horrible crimes; I gathered tips from law enforcement; I listened back and logged long interviews; I wrote my story, worked with a photographer to have it shot and edited, and fronted it all on air, usually live.

My deadline wasn’t tomorrow, or next week. My deadline was today. Every day. I delivered. We all delivered. We local news reporters carry the responsibility of finding the sources, checking the facts, delivering the news, and all the while trying to look good while doing it. I soon learned no matter how clear your skin is, one must re-apply and re-apply the makeup, because the stress of a day’s work will wipe it all away before you ever get a chance to go in front of the camera. I learned just because your hair looks decent in the mirror when you start tracking your story at 3 pm doesn’t mean it’s going to look even halfway decent at 4:50 pm when you are ten minutes from your live shot.

I empathized deeply with the people in my stories. Some of the stories haunted me for days. I wanted to do more to help, but I didn’t know what more I could do. Oprah once said she had a hard time as a reporter because she empathized too much.

It’s not easy, but we live and breath the lifestyle. Cortisol emanates from our pores.  We cope with the stress in every way we can. I held on to a kernel of hope that I could make a difference, that I was making a difference.

I covered numerous stories about teacher pay, and how teachers were rallying for raises.

Did I ever dream that one day I would be one of them?

No. Life is full of twists and turns which we can never predict.

An English major becomes a journalist becomes a graduate student in English and Creative Writing/Fiction. Soon, I will teach a class of freshman. I’m eager and excited to share my love of writing and literature with these promising young students. I can’t wait to select readings I love that I hope they’ll enjoy. I’ve been the introvert afraid to go too far outside myself, and I’ve also been the loud extrovert eager to share my thoughts out loud, and willing to ask the tough questions. I can emphasize with the different personalities, interests, and abilities these twenty-five students will bring to the table, and I’m honored to be able to help them in their own unique and varied journeys.

The truth is, I am nervous.

When a TV reporter speaks to the camera, she imagines speaking to one person. She know tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of viewers are out there, but the reporter imagines speaking to just one. A middle-aged mom or dad, perhaps. A guy in his mid thirties watching the news before the baseball game. Teaching a class is different. You are standing in front of a group of people looking at you for direction, and you see their reactions in real time. Sure, if a reporter makes a mistake, she’ll hear about it later, but she won’t see the response in real time.

Not so with teaching.

Winston Churchill tells us, “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”

Great reporters do both.

I’ve stood up, and had a lot to say, and I continue to have a lot to say, but I sit down and listen too, to learn the extent of my creative potential, and to further develop the spark within me, so that when it comes time to stand up and speak again, which will be very soon indeed, I will be ready.

Where we’re going, we probably will need roads

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Biff!

The year 2015 is rapidly approaching. Before you know it, it will be this day in history:

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The future

And this time, you won’t need a time machine to get there. And if you do have a time machine to get there, we should talk. I mean, we really should. And even if you don’t have a time machine, we should talk. I’d love to read your comments below 🙂

The second installment of the Back to the Future trilogy, Back to the Future Part II, hit theaters in 1989. It involves Marty McFly and Doc traveling to the year 2015 to save future McFly generations. Why 2015? Because it’s thirty years after 1985, the year of the first Back to the Future movie. The series utilizes thirty year increments. 1985 was the year Marty McFly traveled back to the year 1955 to change the course of the future. The final Back to the Future film takes place in 1885, the only non-thirty year increment, but producer Steven Spielberg and director Robert Zemeckis wanted to do a western for the final installment.

I would love it if Universal revived this series!

It’s hard to believe the year 2015 is nearly upon us. When I first watched Back to the Future, I wondered where the heck I would be in the year 2015. The series invites that kind of thinking about time. Where have I been, and where am I going?

It got me wondering how the year 2015, as we know it, will compare to the year 2015 of Back to the Future.

In Hill Valley 2015, cars fly and hover, much like aircraft:

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Odds are this won’t happen next year.

In our year 2015, cars are still bound to the road, unfortunately.

In Hill Valley’s 2015, there is a “Cafe 80s,” a nostalgic place where one can drink Tab, listen to some pre-controversy Michael Jackson, and play old arcade games.

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80s night is so 2006.

The bright clothing, shiny hats, and over the top fashions of the future scream the 1980s. But this 1980s version of the future is strangely accurate in some ways. Fashion is cyclical, and the fashions of the 1980s have experienced a surge of popularity in the past decade.

Shoulder pads anyone?

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I don’t own this dress or the rights to this picture.

Yes, please!

One doesn’t have to go far in our present time to find “80s nights” where bars and clubs play the same ’80s songs over and over. Every 80s night a certain Charlottesville bar that will be unnamed played Rick Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl” and Eddie Money’s “Take Me Home Tonight” over and over and over and over and over and over and over…and over again.

I get that you wish you had Jessie’s Girl, Rick Springfield, but the rest of us are tired of hearing about it!

Dear bar that shall remain unnamed, The Cure had some good songs! And you could have played A-Ha’s “Take On Me” once–just once!

80s night continues to have a certain mystique for millenials.

Is it a coincidence that Taylor Swift named her forthcoming album “1989” after her birth year, and the very same year Back to the Future Part II pondered what life would be like on Earth in the year 2015?

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I suppose only Tay Tay knows.

I’d love to hear your feedback!

P.S. Superstar reporter Sean Moody just shared with me this USA Today article!  In 2015, Nike will unveil self-tying power laces in homage to the movie!

Moby Dick

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One of my copies of Moby Dick.

This is my Kent Rockwell illustrated copy of Moby Dick, printed in the early 20th century. Stay tuned, and I’ll tell you how I got it.

In the fall of 2012 I read Herman Melville’s Moby Dick for the first time. I managed to go my whole book-loving life without reading this classic of modernism until 2012. I even graduated from the University of Virginia with a bachelor’s in English without reading it.

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Me at graduation.

I worked around it. I read other 19th century American works that I felt would suit my taste better. I read the Brontes. As for modernism, I preferred Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. I like the opening line: “Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself” more than “Call me Ishmael.”

There was something about the story of a man chasing a whale that annoyed me. So he’s chasing a whale. What, exactly, is the point? I liked the movie Jaws, but that’s different. That’s a Steven Spielberg movie about a shark that eats tourists.

However, four years removed from college, I decided I should finally read Moby Dick. I was in Barnes and Noble one day, and the book stood out to me. It seemed to taunt me. I missed the beach. I must have an ancestor who is a sailor, because all I really want out of life sometimes is to make a comfortable living near the water. I would be perfectly happy selling t-shirts on the Jersey Shore. Maybe my love of water comes from my Italian ancestry. I have ancestors from Gaeta, a coastal town near Rome. Also, I was born in Boston.

Anyways, for $7.99 I figured I might as well buy the book. That is one redeeming quality about Barnes and Noble. The classics cost less.

I was working as a local broadcast journalist at the time. Here’s me covering the Kentucky Derby:

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Covering the Kentucky Derby

I really just wanted to read a book about the sea. The vast, endless, all-encompassing ocean. Imagine my interest when I read this in Chapter one:

“Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off–then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship.”

What the…

Was Herman Melville reading my mind when he wrote this in 1851?

That’s one of the many wonderful pleasures of literature. A great book can tell you a truth about yourself. A great book can remind you that your desires and yearnings don’t just belong to you.

I loved the detailed descriptions.  Even when the narrative dragged at points, and I had no idea where it was going, I kept reading along, and I hung on to the rigs and the netting, refusing to abandon ship.

I guess my “white whale” of sorts–since we’re all supposed to have one, right?–is my desire to produce interesting, compelling works of fiction.

As I read Moby Dick I was already in the process of applying to Creative Writing MFA programs. When I told my mom about what I was reading, she utterly surprised me, as she often tends to do, in the best way. She was on an ebay kick, purchasing these incredible original Fannie Farmer cookbooks in mint-condition. There were originals from as far back as 1896!

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She has an entire library of these cookbooks now.

The next time she visited me, she gave me a present.

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Yup, the Kent Rockwell illustrated copy.

Let’s just say it cost a lot on ebay, and it’s one of my most treasured books, not for how much it’s worth, but for how much it means to me.

When I was very little, she gave me her childhood copy of Charlotte’s Web:

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She’s always giving me books. We all have people to thank for our interest in reading and writing, whether it’s a parent, a teacher, or a friend. For me, it’s my mom.

So, thanks mom!

I Wonder Where My Pogs Are Now, and Other Pertinent Questions

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Before I get into the illuminating and tropical history of the game any child who came of age in the early ’90s remembers, I must first direct your attention to some recent discoveries.

A couple weeks ago, after sharing my first post here, a friend of mine alerted me to some youtube videos that parody the whole Zelda saga. I never would have seen these hilarious videos if not for the heads up, so thank you! To my list of things to do as a graduate student, I now proudly add scrolling youtube for hours using the keywords “Zelda,” Ocarina of Time,” “Link,” “AWESOME” and “I SWEAR I HAVE A LIFE.”

The YouTube channel http://www.smosh.com produces some of the funniest videos I found. One is a rap laying out the history of our Hyrulian hero Link in terms anyone who has suffered the egregious sin of being overlooked can understand.

“The Legend of Zelda? No! Legend of Link!” Our blonde-haired friend laments, “Oh you thought my name was Zelda? That’s a f**** girl’s name!”

There’s an ingenious use of the original sound effects from the game too. The rap also makes fun of the fact that Link’s wallet can only hold so many rupees. 500 rupees in fact. Link’s bank account is clearly maxed out at 999. Anyone who takes the game as seriously as me, feels pretty silly after watching this, that’s for sure.

There are other parodies as well. One points out the cringe-worthy fact that one of the bad guys in the game is named Dark Link. He’s supposed to be the “shadow” of Link. His evil double, essentially. The guys in this sketch do a pretty hilarious job turning that notion on its end, and make a larger point about the lack of diversity in video games in general.

There are countless other videos. Some are acoustic versions of songs in the game, others are interpretations of what life would be like for Link if he were suddenly thrust into present day. They are worth a watch if you feel like a good laugh, and you are wiling to embrace your inner nerd and/or dork.

That being said, on to my next artful artifact due for inspection. Behold:

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Dear pogs, it’s me, 1994.

Pogs.

There’s something about the name. Four letters. Simple, rhymes with hogs, yet evocative of the exotic and unknown. Pogs originated in Hawaii in the 1920s or 1930s. It began as a game played with little round milk caps, which are a little larger than silver dollars. Players stack them up and then hit the stack with a Slammer, which is a heavier object made of metal. Whichever milk caps fall out of the pile, the player gets to keep. The game reached a revival in the early 1990s, when a teacher in Hawaii introduced the game to a class of elementary school children to help them with math. The game spread from there, and eventually reached a level of national popularity.

Naturally, fast food companies and other corporations tried to cash in, manufacturing the “pogs” and handing them out in Happy Meals around the world.

The only problem is THOSE pogs lacked the ever-elusive staple on them, the signifier to every elementary school child that the pogs were authentic.

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Pogs were a part of the cultural milieu for young children and their parents in the early 1990s. During the O.J. Simpson trial, slammers were made with pictures of O.J. on them. This one can be yours today for $23.38 on https://www.etsy.com/listing/187996387/vintage-slammer-the-oj-simpson-pog-the

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Today pogs run the gammet from maybe $20-$25 for a slammer or a few milk caps, to $75 for an entire collection on ebay.

When I was about eight years old, pogs reached their zenith in my life. They quickly receded, never to return again as a part of my consciousness. I remember wanting, no, desperately needing actually, some pogs so I could play with my friends at school. The problem was naturally my parents had no idea what pogs were. “Aren’t they just little cardboard squares? I could make some for you out of some boxes?” No! I cried. They have to be REAL! So we went to the GameZone store in town, and bought a pogtainer (yes, it was officially called a pogtainer) and filled it with milk caps. They had what looked like weird Looney Tunes figures on them. Some looked like a cross between Grover from Sesame Street and a purple devil. Anyways, I joyfully toted my pogtainer to school. It jostled in my backpack alongside my books and folders. But to my horror, at recess, when we all took out our pogs, one of my friends held a lovely, matte-finished circle in her hand. It was blue and gold. “This is a real pog, see?” She said, turning the circle over in her hand. It didn’t look like it was made of the same cardboard as mine. It wasn’t shiny like mine were. I saw the staple, and then I knew. Things had just been taken to a whole ‘nother level.

So we went back to GameZone and picked out “authentic” pogs with the staples on them. Some weeks later, I had church on Sunday. Naturally I went everywhere with my authentic pogs, encased in my baby blue pogtainer, so I took them to church. I placed them next to me, as if they were an extension of me. I took them with me to Sunday School, but at some point I was separated from my dear pogtainer. Likely, I had to get up for a group assignment. Either way, I returned to my seat, and my pogs were gone. No one came forward to admit they took them. I tell this story to illustrate that’s how popular pogs were in their day. So popular, children actually stole them from each other during Sunday School.

To this day the game of pogs has retreated back from whence it came. It’s rare to find anyone who still has their pogs, or even thinks of them ever.

Part of the thrill of the artifact is the history behind it, both personal and political. It’s hard to believe, but pogs were actually used for public service announcements! All I know is I got great joy out of those silly cardboard circles. But what was with the designs on them?

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