Cheer Du Jour

A little cheer to forget your troubles, and better yet, to toast with a glass of bubbles!

Aug 1 – Happy Birthday MTV!

The rocket launched 32 years ago today, playing The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star” as its first video (click here to see Wikipedia’s list of the first 206 videos played, for you super trivia buffs). The original VJs included: Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, Alan Hunter, J.J. Jackson, Martha Quinn.

Somehow, I survived the epic bummer that cable tv was not available in my hometown yet (and wouldn’t be for some time to come). I had to wait until 1986 to get my MTV. Because of this channel, I developed a temporary bout of insomnia, staying up til all hours watching videos. There was the occasional tv show (The Young Ones – I never missed an episode!), which seemed so strange on a music tv station.

It is interesting to look back at how newspapers heralded the arrival of a concept that would change the face of pop culture (and itself be so completely changed by 2013 that videos are the rarity on the schedule).

In a New York Times article from 7/26/81, Kenneth Gilpin reported that the “video disco channel” was initially expected to “beam into a million homes” during its freshman year. A month before its launch, MTV already had 2.1M subscribers (a single MTV posting showed over 46M likes on FaceBook today!). Despite “television technology used today is not yet capable of recreating high-quality sound”, success was predicted in harnessing the youth market.

This would be accomplished, according to Philip Dougherty’s 6/19/81 NY Times article, by targeting “the big kids, the kind that get turned on by the big rock sound and the weird assemblages that make it.” (…and that was decades before Jersey Shore!). In case you are wondering how much this golden opportunity to advertise might have cost back in the day, Dougherty reported that 30-second units were priced from $400 to $1,200.

Of course, Duran Duran’s influence on the fledgling channel can’t be understated. From DuranDuran.com, the timeline notes in 1981: “Before leaving America, Duran Duran visit with MTV, who had a staff of 16 people at the time. They discuss airing their videos and future programming ideas.” To continue the theme, click here to see the “Too Much Information” video.

..and this post wouldn’t be complete without Dire Straits’ classic MTV ditty:

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Pop Rocks…Candy of Legend (and now available from your own kitchen)

English: Strawberry-flavored Pop Rocks candy.Ah, Pop Rocks – sweet and sassy bursts of tongue-tingling joy that instantly make me wax nostalgic. They are the source of the long-lingering urban legend that insisted the actor who played Mikey (of Life Cereal fame) exploded when he drank soda with a packet of Pop Rocks (shocking fact – he didn’t).

Of course, that cautionary tale propelled countless kids to try the allegedly lethal combination for themselves. I count myself among them, starting with the tiniest speck of powder on my tongue, followed by a mere drop of Coke (long before the great schism known as the New Coke and Coke Classic debacle). No explosions. Quickly, I worked my way up to a full packet of watermelon nuggets washed down by a full bottle (yes, the old-fashioned type that required a bottle opener, and funded the purchase of more candy by collecting the deposits when returning the bottles). Still, no explosion – though definitely LOTS of popping action.

At some point in the early 80’s, darkness fell. Pop Rocks were gone. (How I often wondered what the combination of Jolt Cola and the candy would have produced.) Happily, I recently found these little treasures again at World Market. I brought a handful of packs (along with some other classic candies, like Twizzlers and Raisinets) to my friend’s house for a night of nostalgic Duran Duran video watching (and drinking, of course!). Poor Nick was ill, and the concert scheduled at Ravinia was cancelled. Instead, we watched a well-worn VHS copy of the Sing Blue Silver documentary. Somewhere along the way – maybe it was about the time the Fab Five discussed how great their sponsor (Coke) was as John confessed he preferred Pepsi – inspiration struck. What if I tried a mouthful of Pop Rocks, followed by a champagne chaser? It was a moment of genius – elevating the childhood thrill to a sophisticated adult experience (well, sort of).

Imagine my excitement when I saw this recipe posted by The Daily Meal today! Forget the fact that the site touts this as a healthier, cheaper option – this is a chance to bring the zing even if Pop Rocks pulls another disappearing act. I haven’t tried the recipe yet, but I will (once I find citric acid) – with a chilled bottle of bubbly on hand to accompany the taste test.

From The Daily Meal

Try making these candies at home for a healthier and cheaper option to your favorite treats. -The Daily Meal

Homemade Pop Rocks Recipe (Picture to the right):

INGREDIENTS:

-2 cups sugar

-1 teaspoon baking soda

-1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon citric acid

-1/2 cup light corn syrup

-1/4 cup water

-1 teaspoon flavoring extract, flavor of your choice

-1-2 drops food coloring, color of your choice

-Pinch of cornstarch, for dusting

DIRECTIONS:

Lightly dust the back side of a baking sheet with cornstarch.

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water. Cook the mixture until it reaches 300 degrees when measured with a candy thermometer. Remove from heat, and add the baking soda, ¼ cup of the citric acid, extract, and food coloring, and stir to combine.

Spread the mixture out onto the baking sheet (carefully so that it does not run over the edges), sprinkle with the teaspoon of citric acid, and allow to cool completely, about 30 minutes. Break the candy into pieces and add to a Ziploc bag. Using a rolling pin, crush the candy into tiny little pieces so that it resembles Pop Rocks. Store in Ziploc bags.

via 6 Homemade Candy Recipes | Shine Food – Yahoo! Shine.

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Duran Duran’s Merry Mayan Message

duran5_photo_gal__photo_308511313

…and speaking of Shine, enjoy Silva Halo (live version) for the holidays!

DuranDuran.com

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John Taylor Trashes Hotel Room?

Cover of "Diva's Christmas Carol"

Cover of Diva’s Christmas Carol

No, that would never happen in the real world! …but as an actor, you can see JT in lush glory in A Diva’s Christmas Carol. Click here to see a clip of John as the ghost of Christmas Present on YouTube. This movie, in my humble (and completely unbiased Durannie) opinion, is a must-see for the holidays. Vanessa Williams is brilliant as the Scrooge Diva, and instead of the usual Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, the diva watches a foreboding episode of “Behind the Music” to glimpse her future. Plus, a glimpse of 80’s fashion with the Ghost of Christmas Past. A word of caution – “Heart Quake” will burrow itself into your brain, dooming you to sing the one or two lines you remember over and over again.

VH1 usually runs this movie throughout the holiday season, but since we cut our cable cord, I bought a copy from Amazon. It arrived today and I enjoyed watching it as much as I have for the past 12 years.

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Happy Birthday Simon Le Bon!

Happy Birthday to my very favourite singer and lyricist, not to mention book reviewer extraordinaire, Simon Le Bon. I won’t dwell on the sordid topic of age, and will try my best to make you believe that I was only three when I became a Durannie. For fellow enthusiasts, I’ll turn the clock back to 1985 with some of the Duran Duran trading cards I still keep stashed in a drawer.

Flip side of one of the cards

Shirtless Simon the Sailor

Shaken, Not Stirred

Classic Dance Pose

Love the Frosted Tips!

Awwww…

We fans have been accused of being, well, a bit obsessive. I have observed a few who are a bit, shall we say, intense…e.g. those who know what brand cereal the band members eat (how this was discovered, I shudder to think), the band’s preferred hotel in each city, and the precise mood of Simon at every backstage meet & greet. For my part, I must admit that I have purchased every album (including the special collections) they’ve released, and attended more concerts than I can count. My husband was a bit worried about the level of my devotion during their concerts at the House of Blues. We ate at the restaurant to get into the premium line, and stood in that line for hours before racing to get as close to the stage as possible, then standing another hour before the lights went down. We repeated that ritual for almost every night they played at HOB (which amounted to quite a few amazing nights!). At least now that I’m ever so slightly over 21, I could enjoy a glass of wine while waiting. I found a few snaps I took (from a disposable camera – remember those?) from one of the HOB concerts – I believe it was in 2001.

Simon Singing one of his Silky Ballads

After my Dash to the Very Front Row

Trouser Wowser

Encore – Note my lovely special “bracelet” clashing with my pink nails

For all the pleasure (meaning music and book recommendations, of course–what were you thinking??) you have brought to us, THANK YOU! Enjoy a very happy 30thish birthday!! This glass (ok, maybe bottle) of bubbly is for you.

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