Karate Kid Curiosities

Although the Karate Kid is indeed the perfect movie, it is not without its faults. Having looked at God's other gift to movie viewers already (Ferris Bueller's Day Off), I thought a closer look at the curiosities of the Karate Kid was long overdue.

Let's jump right in with the beach scene early in the movie. As the Cobra Kai arrive on their sweet dirt bikes, Dutch loses his helmet as they come to a stop. This would not have happened had they been practicing proper motorcycle safety.

Moments later, Daniel finds himself in over his head as he and Johnny face off for the first time. The fight begins and Daniel tries to pick up Ali's radio which had just been slammed to the ground by Johnny. Johnny intercepts the radio and shoves it back into Daniel's chest -- speakers facing out.

But as Daniel falls to the sand with the radio in hand, the speakers are facing the opposite direction.

Moving on the the dance scene with Daniel dressed in the infamous shower costume, Ali approaches her new love interest with a flower and offers it through the shower curtain with her left hand.

However, the next shot shows her holding it in her right hand.

A few minutes later, Daniel finds himself in the bathroom with an opportunity for revenge on Johnny who is rolling a few spliffs in a stall. As the hose finds its way through the bathroom piping, Johnny is clearly seen wearing a glove on one hand but not the other.

But when the water begins to flow, Johnny emerges in a rage, apparently having had time to put on his other glove.

The chase begins and Daniel almost makes it home before being nabbed by the Cobra Kai. As he runs across the field leading to his apartment buildilng, the fog gets thick thanks to a smoke machine visibly pumping a haze into the air as Daniel runs by.

Of course, Daniel get his tail kicked six ways to Saturday but is saved by Mr. Miyagi. Once the Cobra Kai are all in a beaten heap on the ground, Miyagi throws Daniel over his left shoulder to carry inside...

..or maybe it was over his right shoulder.

Date night gets Daniel dressed to the nines in his white tennies...

...I mean brown tennies...

You remember this scene, I'm sure. Catch a fly with chopsticks and you can accomplish anything, right? Does that hold true for catching a fly suspended by a fishing line?

Speaking of date night, remember when Daniel had to go the country club to find Ali? As the scene opens, Johnny is seen sitting at a table behind Ali and her father.

But (literally) seconds later, he dances by with Ali's mother.

Now for the tournament.

First, Johnny's black headband is pretty awesome. It can fly off his head when he springs up after being slammed down by Daniel...

(the referee even throws the headband off the mat)...

...and it somehow finds its way back to his brow seconds later in the same point.

Last but not least, is the slap of the leg. Daniel had moments earlier been "put in a body bag" by Bobby who had taken him out at the knee. Coming back to fight the final round, a few points in, Daniel's knee is hit again by Johnny.

I blame Daniel here.

Look closely and you'll see Daniel slap his left leg leading into this point as if to say, "This is the one that's hurt. Drill me right here in this knee."

Not perfect...but still the greatest movie ever made.

Colorforms: Street Hawk

After digging out my A-Team and E.T. Colorforms sets last summer, my intention was to continue on through the storage container full of Colorforms and share some of the others. Almost a year later, I'm finally getting around to it. Maybe not all at once but here's a start.

First off, let's take a look at the 1984 Street Hawk Colorforms set. This was likely one of the last (if not the last) Colorforms set that I got since, by this time, I was nearing an age where I was more interested in baseball cards than I was "kid toys."

Street Hawk, in my kid mind, was the ABC motorcyle version of shows like Knight Rider and the A-Team. You know the formula: fast black car/truck/bike + cool crime figher(s) = trouble for the bad guys. It's much like the show Still Standing following in the footsteps of King of Queens: overweight husband + sassy wife = canned comedy.

Either way, my Street Hawk set is complete minus one stinkin' piece -- it appears that I'm missing the pieces that says "CRASH!"

The background offers several opportunities for excitement. Aside from cliffs, hills, and unfinished bridges for Jesse Mach to fly off of, there's even a corner dedicated to Norman Tuttle -- the engineer who designed the motorcycle and communicated remotely with Street Hawk. Although he was a major part of the show, it's disappointing though that Norman is a permanent fixture on this background and not a piece that can be removed occasionally.

The pieces themselves offer kids with the opportunity to create a scene based on the theme of an armored car robbery. There are three bad guys, a couple of guards, and Jesse Mach/Street Hawk in various positions and poses.

I'm not quite sure where the woman in distress comes into play though.

As usual, Colorforms offers a suggested scene to create...

...but I did one on my own. Having not looked at the Colorforms insert first, I'm surprised by how similar the scenes turned out. Maybe I remember the scene on the insert from when I was a kid and somehow recreated it subconsciously almost 30 years later.

Plenty more Colorforms to come. Sometime.

The Esposito with a side of beans.

About a week ago, my wife and I reduced our cable package to the bare minimum. While it's saving us about 70 bucks a month, it's also forced me to live without cable television for the first time since I was in high school. No more ESPN. No more Comedy Central. Just the networks, PBS, WGN, and TBS. That's it.

So far, I'm surviving okay as the only thing I've really missed is SportsCenter. But one commercial that I caught many times before shutting off the cable and continue to see on other networks is a bit for ESPN. You've probably seen it, too.

So you don't have to watch this commercial repeatedly to try and decipher the Boston-ese, here's what is said.
EMPLOYEE #1: You think it's time Pedroia gets a sandwich?
EMPLOYEE #2: The laser show? I think he's deserved it.
EMPLOYEE #1: Okay, hear me out. How about turkey pepperoni?
EMPLOYEE #2: That's like a Big Papi without the cheese.
EMPLOYEE #1: How about capicola?
EMPLOYEE #2: What's with the capicola, man? Every sandwich has got to have capicola.
EMPOLOYEE #1: Joe, you gonna back me up on this capicola?
JOE: It's the best.
EMPLOYEE #1: That's right, it's the best.
EMPLOYEE #2: And that's why it's on the Esposito.
EMPLOYEE #1: Oh, that's right.
This commercial has sparked one major question among television viewers who may not be very sports-savvy: Who is Esposito? Since this commercial is supposed to take place in Boston, the most obvious answer among sports fans is former Boston Bruin Phil Esposito.

But I know better.

This is no hockey reference. Joe clearly says that capicola is "the best" and when I hear those words, only one thing comes to mind:

That's right. The most well-known song from the original Karate Kid -- You're the Best -- performed by Joe "Bean" Esposito.

Did you catch that? "You're THE BEST" by Joe ESPOSITO!

Call this one for a former hockey star if you'd like. I'm calling it for the Karate Kid.

Do as I say, not as I do.

Five or six years ago I taught a summer course for high school students about media literacy. The focus of my class was simple -- don't believe everything you see and hear. We looked at a wide variety of topics ranging from the ownership of media outlets to subliminal advertising. Among these topics, we took a hard look at marketing strategies used to reach specific target audiences and I'm ashamed to admit that half a decade later, I fall victim to these strategies on a regular basis.

You see, I'm a sucker for retro packaging. Offer me a Pepsi? No, thanks. Some Taco flavored Doritos? I'll pass. But put that stuff in a package that reminds me of my childhood and I'd practically buy some stock in the company.

I'm holding out on the Hostess products that are out there right now in retro packaging but every time I pass them in a store, I swear I can hear the Ding Dongs calling my name.

If I knew for sure that they would be individually wrapped in foil once I opened the box, I'd buy some the next chance I get. But the uncertainty is good. It's kept me from devouring a box of Ding Dongs.

The on-deck circle.

The neighborhood I grew up in has changed a lot. All of the houses are still there and most of them still look very similar to the way they looked thirty years ago. But a majority of the families who lived in those houses are no longer there. Some have moved. Others have died. While my dad continues to do an excellent job maintaining his property and keeping it looking nice, it saddens me that the same cannot be said for some others now living in the neighborhood.

When I was growing up in the 80s, one of the most common events in my neighborhood was a game of backyard baseball. On summer days, we couldn't get outside fast enough. Sometimes the games would be nothing more than a two-on-two match-up with ghost runners while other times every kid in the neighborhood would be out there pretending to be Pete Rose or Ozzie Smith. A game of hotbox (pickle, to some) was not uncommon; nor was a game where a giant piece of painted plywood served as a strike zone. No matter how we played, there was no doubt about it -- the kids in my neighborhood loved baseball.

There were two or three yards that were used most often for these games -- one of which was two doors down from my house. In this yard, the playing field actually faced the house which had a small fenced in section just outside its back door. Over the fence, of course, was a home run. Now before you start thinking we were a bunch of hooligans smacking baseballs at the homes of our friends' parents, we did have some rule variations depending on what yard we played in. For this yard, hitting towards the house, we used a Nerf baseball.

Nerf baseballs were soft but still a little harder than typical Nerf products. These baseballs had a distinct center -- either cork or like a super ball -- I can't remember for sure. Either way, we definitely saw the Nerf Baseball core a handful of times when a well-used ball was hit one time too many.

Playing baseball in this particular yard, there was one other feature that I'll always remember -- a cherry tree that served as a shaded spot for the on-deck hitters. While one batter swung his hardest to send a ball over the privacy fence, his teammates would wait near the tree. While we were happy with the tree's cool shade, my mom was even happier when our neighbors let her harvest the cherries each year.

On a recent trip home, however, a sad sight caught my eye.

Gradually over the past several years I have been coming to grips with the fact that my childhood neighborhood is not what it once was. More and more with each passing day I'm beginning to understand what people mean when they say "you can never go back." But this sight seemed to seal the deal in my mind.

There it was. The tree that had once provided respite to many young baseball players and countless cheeries to my mother's desserts -- split in half and overgrown in a yard full of weeds.

But look at this picture and imagine -- the lawn is cut, the tree is thriving, the sun is shining, and a few kids are sitting in the shade waiting for their turn at bat.

You can never go back? I guess that's not entirely true.

Dust, mold, Scott Baio, & Willie Nelson.

Last Saturday I spent the majority of my day breathing dust and mold while working at a local used record sale. A huge success, by the way, as money made from the annual sale goes towards a local non-profit service which provides news and information to the blind within our community. Anyways, after a year of collecting donations and over a month of sorting and organizing, it was time to open the doors to the eager public.

I arrived at the sale a half-hour before the doors opened to work the initial shift and was met by a line of at least thirty people waiting outside in the brisk morning air. Slipping by the crowd with my cup of coffee in hand, I went inside and ate a donut before the chaos began.

The sale itself was great fun as usual. I always enjoy meeting and talking with other music enthusiasts as they root through the boxes of old records. It's great seeing the combinations of titles that customers walk out with. My favorite purchase was a stack of records that included everything from Johnny Cash to Wham.

You see, this stuff is cheap -- $1 for an LP, $2 for a CD -- and it's hard for people to turn down anything in that price range. I, too, am weak when tempted with such prices. This year I exercised a little bit of self-control and spent less than $40 at the sale. In addition to a handful of 45 records (at 25 cents each) and a couple of CDs, I also came home with a pretty decent stack of LPs to add to my collection.

Looking closely at what I purchased, you may recognize a handful of artists and titles -- Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Cash, George Michael, Pink Floyd, and even a vinyl copy of the original Karate Kid soundtrack. But inside two of these LPs, I found more than just a record.

First there was the Scott Baio album. Yes, that Scott Baio...do you know any other? Even though this is an absolutely horrible pop album from a musical standpoint, it is pure gold to a pop culture fanatic -- especially for a measly buck.

Inside this album's jacket, I was surprised to find two things. First, the original receipt showing that this album cost someone around seven bucks back in 1982. Second, the original owner had clipped "Scott's Album Songbook" from the August issue of Tiger Beat Magazine that year. In addition to the lyrics from several of Scott Baio's songs, it's great to see Todd Bridges on the back of one of the pages. Click the images below for larger views.

The second surprise came inside a copy of an early Willie Nelson album -- Country Willie: His Own Songs.

In addition to the record itself, this jacket held a 20-page fan magazine featuring quite a few pictures of a very young Willie Nelson. Although I've not been able to find any information about this magazine anywhere online, as best I can tell, it was printed in the mid to late 1960's.

Among the shots of him on stage, there were several of Willie riding horseback on a ranch. But most intersting of all was the final feature in the magazine where we see "Another Side of Willie Nelson."

Makes me wonder what else may have been inside the thousands of record jackets at this year's sale.

Around the 'net.

Welcome to any newcomers who may have found their way here by way of the Branded in the 80s Postcard Project. I hope you'll take some time to sift through this insignificant mess of a blog and stop by occasionally in the future.

For those of you who actually read this blog regularly and haven't ever visited Branded in the 80s, it comes highly recommended from this pop culture junkie. Definitely take some time to check it out.

Thanks for directing traffic this way and for your kind words, Shawn.