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10 Pop Culture Staples of my Childhood: A Shameful Look Back

If youre like me, when you think back on your childhood under the stairs, it was a lot of frantic prayers and candle wax burns. But also, there was a lot of awesomeness. Most kids are pretty convinced that the things they like are, by default, awesome. Why else would they like them? Its only later in life you can look back and wonder if maybe your parents smothered you with a pillow at night, just enough to lower your IQ a few points below the national average. Im forced to assume thats what was going on when I was about 10 or so, how else can I explain any of this?

Robots

Everyone knows robots are awesome and will one day destroy us all in a well-deserved orgy of robo-destruction. Four Terminator movies have predicted it and I refuse to believe Arnold Schwarzenegger would put his support behind a piece of fiction that wasnt at least 50 percent prophetic.

Its not surprising then that, as a child, I was pretty much all about robots. I think I may have planned to be a robot at some point in my life but of course thats silly. As a Canadian, I had limited access to any decent robo-schools as our government focused more on beaver hunting and innuendo.

Anyway, just because robots are cool doesnt mean all robots are cool.

Muffit II from Battlestar GalacticaBack then Ian This thing is wicked awesome. Its a robot but its also some kind of panda dog thing and it will attack Cylons. Fucking Cylons! (I swore a lot as a child--bad parenting.) One time it saved them from a fire and I dont even care if every single episode that featured a space dog fight used the same footage because this awesome robo-dog-panda is in the show! Apollo rules!

First we mastered space travel. Then we mastered this bullshit.

Todays Jaded Ian - I dont know how this thing got axed from the new Battlestar Galactica because clearly it was important as shit. As shit. Im almost positive the special effects guys melded some tin cans and duct tape with a musty old bath mat to make this asinine thing and then jammed a midget with scoliosis inside to make it seem alive.

On the show, the original Muffit was an actual dog and somehow, in the future where theres a race of sentient androids and intergalactic space travel, the best they could do in terms of a robotic replacement was Teddy Ruxpins mongoloid cousin.

Twiki from BuckRogersBack then Ian This dude got to hang out with Gary Coleman and he sounded like Yosemite Sam. So honestly, even if his head looks like a delicately polished penis and he seems to be wearing a mini skirt, thats OK.

Todays Jaded Ian This is a robot with a page boy haircut who carried Dr. Theopolis around his neck like a futuristic Flava Flav. The more I think about it, the more Im positive Flav actually stole this gimmick from Twiki, settling on a clock when he couldnt make a similarly sized artificially intelligent computer that could hang around his neck.

Honestly, the only thing I remember about Twiki besides what he looks like is that he said bidi bidi bidi all the time, like a robot Rain Man. And while, for a second, that sounds awesome, I assure you that by the end of this article the idea will have firmly settled itself into the reality of absolutely fucktarded.

Soundwave from TransformersBack Then Ian Holy shit! Hes a Walkman and theres cassette guys and they fight and listen to his voice hes awesome!

Todays Jaded Ian I have never been so on the fence about something as I am at this moment. My gut is telling me how awesome Soundwave is, how undeniably awesome he truly must be, but then I stop to imagine Cybertron and the Autobots and Decepticons picking teams for a fight, and how completely disgusted both sides must have been with the prospect of having to pick the fucking Walkman.

Autobots - Inferior. Mixed tape featuring Bel Biv Devoe - Superior!

Try to imagine the Decepticons grabbing guys who can turn into tanks and helicopters and a team of construction equipment who can merge together to form Devastator. Then imagine who else must have been sitting on the field when they settled on the Walkman. Arguably they were down to Perceptor and Blaster when Soundwave got picked. The only thing lamer would have been if the Go-bots showed up and that nancy Scooter tried to join in.

Songs

Someone once said music is the gravy that slathers your soul, I bet. If thats true then Im one greasy son of a bitch, because I love music. Sometimes I sing in public restrooms. Sometimes I poo. Public restrooms are a mixed bag for me.

Anyway, point is, over time my taste in music has changed, as anyones will. And with that change comes the realization that some songs just dont live up to my pre-pubescent hype in retrospect. Which is disappointing because I was an awesome hype machine back in the day.

"Pour Some Sugar on Me" by Def LeppardBack then Ian Hells yeah, rock anthem! Thank God no one has updated this jukebox since it was installed in the late 80s so that every afternoon I waste in this arcade playing Double Dragon I can be serenaded by a song that I think might be about sex, a subject about which I know nothing beyond the apparent need for sugar.

Not sure how the movie got switched from Double Dragon to Double Dildo.

Todays Jaded Ian Well Ive seen sex on the Internet so Im pretty sure I know what it is now and Ill be damned if I can figure out why sugar needs to be involved. And wouldnt the use of it devolve into some kind of syrupy, abrasive disaster?

Also, I dont think this means anything;

Love is like a bomb, baby, c'mon get it on

Livin' like a lover with a radar phone

Lookin' like a tramp, like a video vamp

Demolition woman, can I be your man?

A radar phone? Is that what they use to make calls in the future as depicted in the 1950s? And does he mean "tramp" like "skank," or "tramp" like "old timey hobo"? You know how I feel about hobos.

"Every Rose Has Its Thorn" by PoisonBack Then Ian Hey, "Pour Some Sugar on Me" just ended, I wonder what song is next. "Every Rose Has Its Thorn"? I love power ballads! Man, when I finish this round of Double Dragon, Im going to learn to play guitar so I can stand on a mountain in a really stiff wind in a leather jacket my mom is going to buy for me once my hair grows long enough to complete the look and totally rock this shit out. Why do I feel compelled to swear so much?

My guitar solo will be all Weeer! Fricka fricka weeer! and it'll be awesome!

Todays Jaded Ian I dont want to talk bad about Bret Michaels but man, he actually ruined an entire genre of music with this song, I think. If Rock 'n' Roll was a person, power ballads were, without a doubt, that persons labia. And nowadays people are happy to go to a party and be kitschy by playing 80s music because its fun to play pretend, but no one really likes this stuff. I tried to sit down once and listen to Whitesnake and a half hour later I woke up eating low fat yogurt and ironing my underwear.

TV Shows

Thanks to television, inattentive parents dont need to even hire babysitters anymore, its like a miracle box that occasionally commits horrid sins like The Facts of Life and MTV. Its no surprise then that I may have loved TV a little more than I loved my own parents.

Golden GirlsBack Then Ian Is it normal for a child to be so enamored by a troupe of septuagenarian spinsters? I dont care, Sophia is hilarious and Rose seems to have lived since the Depression as a retard. Now thats comedy. Also, Blanche makes me feel even more confused about all my new feelings than Im used to.

Todays Jaded Ian I dont know if you know this, but a hell of a lot of the Golden Girls revolved around these dusty old birds trying to get laid. And at least one episode dealt with menopause. Everything you just read is terrifying.

Yep.

The bizarre thing is that the Golden Girls is actually hilarious and dont let anyone tell you different. If you have to choose between watching Two and a Half Men and Golden Girls and you dont pick the latter, youre a bad human being and if you have a soul, its probably as black as tar. Say what you will about Bea Arthur, that dude was funny.

The problem is that the Golden Girls is funny because its vastly inappropriate. Pretty much every episode included at least one joke about what a filthy whore Blanche was. Some good natured ribbing about how this well-ripened lady banged like five different guys every week. And while on the one hand thats funny, try to imagine how youd feel if your grandmother was an epic slut. Just a wicked, raunch-crotched old thing.

ProstarsBack then Ian - Wait. Hold the phone. Are you telling me Wayne Gretzky, Bo Jackson and Michael Jordan are secretly working together to fight crime? Did you just hear that high pitched whistle? Thats the sound of my first boner. I dont know why its whistling, its my first one.

Pictured: My first boner.

Todays Jaded Ian During the opening credits of this show, cartoon Bo Jackson picks up an entire tree and then uses it to murder some poor schlub whos just cutting down trees. Logging is a legitimate profession, people do it all over the world and they do not need to be beaten to death by professional athletes.

Movies

You know everything I said about TV? Read that again, but imagine youre enjoying some greasy, Becel-slathered popcorn at the same time and a vastly over priced box of Milk Duds.

Monster SquadBack Then Ian So Dracula just got the Wolfman, Frankenstein, a Mummy and the Creature From the Black Lagoon together? And someone kicks Wolfman in the balls?! Ha ha ha! This movie gets every Oscar this year!

Wolfman's got nards! Ha ha ha! Gold!

Todays Jaded Ian You know what, this movie is still fucking awesome.

Toys

I had far too many toys I cant quite remember as a child, but all of them were awesome for at least a half an hour at some point.

Transformers Electric Train SetBack then Ian - Humina! Its Transformers and its a train? Its electric? This is what Jesus would be if he were a toy that also wanted to destroy everything that crossed its semi-circular path.

Todays Jaded Ian I dont know at what age it happens, but eventually every kid comes to the realization that a toy train is the playtime equivalent of autism. And it should occur much earlier than it does, usually within minutes of assembling the train, but it never does.

Definitely. Definitely a lame ass toy.

I used to have this thing under my bed for literally five years. Every year Id drag it out, put all the pieces together and get it powered up, and then sit in stunned disappointment as it buzzed along in its tiny circle, occasionally knocking down the cheap, molded plastic pretend transformers that I would put in its way. It was like following your dad to work one day only to find that he dumps his suit and briefcase in an alley and spends the rest of the afternoon dressed as an adult baby serving drinks at a nameless restaurant full of European perverts. God, that was a bad day for me.

Girls

I dont know at what age Id decided that boobs and I were meant to be friends for life, but I do know that as a child, my taste in women was poor at best. This was likely due to my bodys complete lack of testosterone and the fact I owned about 100 different Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figures and wanted to join Voltron when I grew up. My plan was to brazenly show up Keith by thoroughly mocking his ability to pilot a giant, robot cat, thus humiliating him into giving me the job as leader.

My French TeacherBack Then Ian Wait a sec, whats the deal here? I have a girl teacher who doesnt look like the bastard child of Wilford Brimley and Angela Lansbury? I didnt know such things existed. Her short, spiky hair is bold and different and she has captivated my eager-to-learn mind. Shes so young. So beautiful. I love her. Wheres the sugar? Its time to do some pouring.

Nothing that turned up when I Googled "lesbians" was usable here.

Todays Jaded Ian Im terribly sorry, Mrs. Sharpe, but it has come to my attention in the ensuing years since I left your class that you were absolutely 100 percent as gay as a parade down main street. Ill concede that the shortish boy hair wasnt a dead giveaway, nor was your penchant for pant suits and overalls or your coaching of the softball team. But looking back, I probably should have pieced it together every time your wife picked you up after school, gave you a hug and a kiss, and drove you home.

It was the first time Id mistakenly fall for a lesbian, but not the last.

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Ian Fortey

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