Bienvenidos and welcome to the blog of Manda Newlin, professional writer/copyeditor, amateur pop-culture quipper and perennial observer. I’m nuts about words, grammar, bookstores, foreign accents, DVR and iTunes. I enjoy one-on-one conversations, eavesdropping in coffee shops, learning other peoples’ life stories and discovering universal truths. Here’s what I know ….

Saturday, March 8, 2008

I (Heart) the '80s!

Like, this week has been totally awesome! 2 cool! If mirrors didn’t insist on reflecting my true age, I’d swear to you I’m only 15 right now. Here’s why....

My week began with some serious roller-skating. And I skated with a boy! And he told me he loved me, like, three times! OK, so said boy was my five-year-old son, but still, he was really cute and his hands were soft and not at all sweaty.

This was actually my second roller-skating excursion in as many weeks. But before then, I’d only hit the rink once or twice since my skating heyday in ’85. So when I rolled out onto that wooden floor in my too-tight skates, it was like gliding back in time. The smells of feet and grease ... the cinderblock walls accented with neon solar-system-patterned carpet … the cocky rink “refs” with their whistles and black-and-white-striped shirts.

Even the sounds were straight outta the latter part of the 1980s. Tone Loc and Young MC turned up on the hi-fi, and Cameo made, well, a cameo. WORD UP, man!

While I scuttled around in circles (valiantly helping my kids fend off the forces of gravity), I rubbernecked at several other “adults” who must’ve also hit rewind on the last two decades. First there was the balding dad in jeans (it was dark, but I think they were acid-washed with front pleats!), who exhibited perfect right-leg-over-left moves as he rounded the corners. He was not to be outdone by the spiky-haired mom who would periodically shift her weight back on her right leg while lifting her left toe to smoothly coast. Soooooo cool.

Then what happens the very next night, but it turns out to be ’80s week on “American Idol,” and I get to go back to my favorite decade again! True, I was disappointed not to hear anyone attempt Duran Duran or Eurythmics or Depeche Mode, but Luke Menard thoughtfully brought Wham! into my living room. I had that song on 45 (45!) and I once possessed a “Choose LIFE” T-shirt just like the one George Michael wore in the video! Weird wild stuff.

The boys’ performances (sigh) made me half-wish I still had a locker, so I could clip pics of Jason Castro, David Cook and Michael Johns out of my Tiger Beat and tape ’em up right next to C. Thomas Howell and the guy who played Jake in Sixteen Candles.

Of course, to fully relive the 1980s, I’d also need to starve myself down to a bony 90 pounds, get a really bad Ogilvie home perm and share both my clothes and my bedroom with my sister. Gag me with a spoon ….

Saturday, March 1, 2008

So many weeks of will-they-or-won’t-they tension, and when the two opposing forces finally come together … the magic quickly fizzles. I’m not talking about Sam and Diane or David and Maddie. (Woah! When did I get so old that I casually reference sitcoms from two freakin’ decades ago?!)

No, I’m talking about the Writers’ Guild of America and the 2008 Academy Awards. If you follow entertainment “news,” the big question leading up to last weekend was whether the writers’ strike would be settled in time to roll out the red carpet for ol' Oscar.

Fortunately, the strike was settled and writers got busy penning awkward quips for overprocessed presenters.

Unfortunately, not too many folks seemed to care. The awards show nabbed its lowest ratings ever, with about 20 percent fewer viewers than last year. In fact, in many markets that week more people followed “American Idol” than “the biggest night in show business.”

Which brings me to an observation …. Have you noticed the way “American Idol” has become a barometer of sorts to gauge the interest in or importance of a show or event? I have heard “More people voted for the next American Idol than they did for U.S. president!” and “More people tuned in to ‘American Idol’ than the State of the Union address!” and “More people watched ‘American Idol’ than washed their hands after using the restroom!” and so forth. (Google “more people watched American Idol than” and you’ll see what I mean!)

My point in all this is … well, I don’t really have one. But if I were to wager a guess, I’d say We the People are generally more entertained by optimistic novices on the rise than by self-congratulatory “super”stars.* Just a hunch ....
*George Clooney not included. (That one's for you, Karen!)