July 22, 2014


1985 (junior high)

Previously on Secret Fun Blog I shared photos of my bedroom at age thirteen. I recently located another one from that set (seen above) which serves as a nice contrast to a group of room shots I just found from late high school and early college. As my teenagerhood progressed my interests didn't change too dramatically. It was toys and movies throughout, except that my toys evolved into "collectibles" and my movies got more monsters in them as my bravery level increased with age. There was the addition of some music-related decor too.

1991 (high school)

My room took on a major transformation in 1988 when I repainted and carpeted the place. My folks didn't think twice when I asked to paint it black, so I was shocked when my choice of color became a hot topic among the local small town lip-flappers. People I hardly knew approached me and asked if I was doing alright. You bet I was, my room looked amazing! I liked to think that in their minds I was rolling myself in puddles of black paint and flailing against the walls, yelling about the abyss. Some actually suggested my color selection was a sign of devil worship! Believe it or not, people still bring up the black room occasionally. This really blows my mind since Satan told me he would destroy my enemies.

Thanks to the Christmas of 1989 I no longer had to share the family television set. After much painstaking TV research in the JCPenny, Sears, and Montgomery Ward catalogs I set my sights on this twenty inch model. The big attraction for me was the stereo sound it boasted. Never mind the fact that the speakers were two inches in diameter, and our cable provider only broadcast two channels in stereo. (MTV was not one of them as it was literally banned in my small, Footloose-style town.) But whenever I saw that little banner that said "In Stereo Where Available" I got a rush of smug, self-satisfaction that could last an entire episode of Major Dad.

It was around that time when I talked my folks into upgrading our eight-dollar-a-month Disney Channel to the ten-dollar-a-month HBO. They went for it and it was like getting a box office in our home. My bedroom was a 24 hour movie zone, and finally I was getting an unfiltered education of the world we live in. Each month we got the little HBO guide in the mail and I felt an obligation to see every film listed with no regard to whether or not the subject matter interested me, be it Killer Klowns from Outer Space or Barbara Streisand's Yentl. This wasn't as hard as it sounds because many of the movies were repeated dozens of times. I welcomed the beginning of each new month when the programming refreshed.

A few notes: 
-Those Nightmare posters came from the Freddy Fan Club I discussed here
-That thing under the TV was a collage I did for art class. 
-The poster behind the left speaker is of Fido Dido. I still don't understand what that's all about.
-I was so proud of that Lost Boys poster because it's British and I got it from my second Sci-fi convention, called Okon.

1991 (high school)

The update to my room looked so "sophisticated" that initially I kept wall hangings to a minimum. Soon my true nature emerged and I was playing Tetris with my posters again. Speaking of posters, aside from Tron, these are all repros that I would buy from a mall gift shop called Cedrics Inc. I loved that place. In the early 80s it was decorated like the Cheers bar, and by the late 80s it looked like the "Over Our Heads" shop on The Facts of Life.

The Ninja Turtle figures were a result of my first-ever job as a landscape artist. Once bestowed with my first paycheck, I promptly cashed it and drove straight to Wal-Mart where I bought one of every Turtle figure they had, plus a radar detector. I was about to mock my immature financial decision, but then I remembered that I still have all of those carded Turtles and I could sell them now for many times their original value. The radar detector still works too, though I did outgrow my criminal driving habits.

The row of heroes were all released in the wake of consumerism from Tim Burton's Batman movie. I was too late in understanding that Kenner's "Super Powers" figures are the pinnacle of superhero toys, so I was stuck buying up the poorly designed Toy Biz line. This would lead to a self-inflicted trap of chasing down their Marvel junk for several years to come. I soon spiraled into young, dumb yet "serious" collector mode which can happen when you find yourself with a car, disposable income, Wizard magazine, and a summer break. I routinely checked a list of toy aisles and chased down "rare" variants, unaware that it had turned into a joyless chore. I've found that the cure for this syndrome is to give some of your stuff to a kid and watch them tear open the packages and play with it.

  1991 (high school) 

The closet door is covered with partial CD longboxes. Say what you will about my taste in music, but just remember that I possess the powers of darkness.

1992 (college) 

This was my set up during the second half of my freshman year. It was a pretty lousy semester for many reasons: first college girlfriend broke up with me, booted out of the dorm because I couldn't pay for it, and a dad with cancer. I didn't even care that my TV was on an egg box.

-My kind friends got me that Pump Up the Volume display from the video store.
-That's a bean bag, not a trash bag there in the corner.
-In front of Felix, that's one of those Dr. Pepper lights with the huge flickering bulbs from the 70s.
-There are six mugs in the photo: Laurel and Hardy, King Kong and Godzilla, Howdy Doody and Betty Boop.

1992 (college)

When I was really young my mom put up panels of cork board on one wall and it enhanced my decorating forevermore. Here is a list of the things I hung on my cork board wall in 1992 (starting at the top left.)...

-Two "Appetite for Destruction" record albums, one with the "banned" Robert Williams cover
-Guns N' Roses poster that a friend won at a carnival 
-Promotional postcard from the band L.A. Guns
-Dark Knight Bruce Wayne from Kenner
-Panel from The Black Orchid graphic novel
-Piece of Guns  N' Roses longbox 
-Signed Ghost Rider #15 (1991)
-Travel brochure for Terror something something
-Photo of my friend Josef
-Image of an old Batmobile (from the Westfield Comic Club booklet)
-Creature from the Black Lagoon Halloween mask
-Ink art assignment of my reflection
-Mego The Thing (Back to the left)
-Robotech Rick Hunter figure
-Signed Sandman #1
-Image of Concrete (from the Westfield Comic Club booklet) 
-Photos from my '91 spring break
-Art assignment based on Citizen Kane
-Image of Sam and Max Freelance Police
-Werewolf Halloween mask
-Metal Indiana Jones sign from MGM Studios, FL
-Image of the band Extreme
-Rubber skeleton
-Hellraiser comic poster
-Images of Faith No More and Nirvana
-Some Clive Barker advertisement
-Columbia Records metal sign purchased through Columbia House music club
-3-D glasses from the movie Freddy's Dead
-Photo of the moon
-Image of Soundgarden
-Some baseball card thing
-Axl Rose sticker 
-Boba Fett figure
-Batman sunday comic
-Roger Rabbit advertising flyer
-Mike and Ike pencil bag
-Groucho nose and glasses disguises
-Groucho Marx disguise print 
-Image from a comic book, possibly The Rocketeer
-Guns N' Roses magazine photo and ticket stub
-Sam and Max image (from the Westfield Comic Club booklet)
-Rubber skeleton from garage sale wearing gumball charm medal that says "ninja."
-Lisa Frank light switch plate sticker

I feel much better now that this information is on the internet. 

In related news, there is a great Flickr set called My 80s Bedroom.

July 21, 2014


It was a plain ol' regular day, and I was watching SpongeBob Squarepants— suddenly a full page Johnson Smith comic book ad fills the screen! The unexpected familiarity was like seeing a family member on a national TV show, like your grandpa showing up on Breaking Bad and you never knew he auditioned. Then a couple minutes in, S.B.S.P. (my abbreviation for Spongbob Squarepants which is quicker to type than his full name.) visits the "Palace of Pranks." The scene is comprised of great painted backgrounds complete with hanging shrunken heads and a barrel of wind-up chatter teeth.

All of this got me really excited and I felt compelled to start taking screenshots, though certainly not for a blog post, because a few random images of cartoon pranks would make for a lousy entry. I guess the archivist part of me wanted to preserve these images in case the episode somehow gets erased from existence. However, keeping them on my hard drive is too risky, so I had to put them on "the cloud," so here they are. Whew. I guess I'll fashion this into a regular, albeit lackluster post now.

The twenty first episode of season three, called "Pranks A Lot" is a beautiful duet of SpongeBob and classic gags. The show peaks early as the protagonists visit a novelty shop run by an older fish named Frank. He pitches a number of jokes to the boys before they settle on Invisible Spray. That's when the story takes a turn for the worse by leaving the prank shop to advance the plot.

I've covered prank appearances on other TV shows, and though these aren't official S.S. Adams products I think it's worth the next fifteen seconds of your time to scroll through a dozen screenshots.

"Pranks, gags, and gross out toys as far as the eye can see."
 "The grandaddy of all pranks, the Joy Buzzer."

"You don't have to get it. The prank is for the enjoyment of the prankster."

 Whoppee Cushion

 Fake Vomit

Invisible Spray

Thank you for looking at the screenshots. Please think about what you have seen.

July 18, 2014


I invite you to watch my first ever appearance on a nationally televised program on the CBS Network! To see it, either buy Evening Shade Season One on DVD, or set your DVR to record twenty five years ago.

Remember a sitcom where Burt Reynolds was a high school football coach? No, not Coach with Craig T. Nelson, that was college ball. Anyway, there was this show called Evening Shade and it was supposed to take place in a small Arkansas town because it was produced by an Arkansan who also did Designing Women, and they were hoping this show would piggyback on its southern style success.

In order to add some authenticity to the program, the creators decided to shoot the exterior establishing shots in actual Arkansas towns. You guessed it, one of those towns was mine.

One afternoon a film crew showed up and gave a talk and a Q&A to our entire high school. Since DVD commentaries didn't exist yet, it was pretty enlightening for me, and I remember learning some production techniques, like filming during the golden hour and such. They ended the presentation by handing out their shooting schedule and asking us to be extras.

The first shot took place that night and was meant to depict a Sadie Hawkins dance, which was said to be a popular Arkansan tradition, yet none of us had heard of one. So people showed up at the old gymnasium wearing prom leftovers, and the film crew captured this fake dance with much gusto. I had no formal clothes so I just went to watch. This seemed to work in my favor because they asked a few of us casuals to be in an unrelated shot where we acted like a group of football fans cheering our players after a game. However, I don't think that was ever used.

We were invited to come to school the next morning, more than an hour early (yes, during the golden hour) for the final shot. For this crucial scene we were asked to mill around in front of the nearby junior high as if it were a school morning in the fall. Well, it really was a school morning in the fall so we did an excellent job. I guess I'm a method actor.

Our days of filming were practically a forgotten memory by the time the shows actually aired. I missed the original airings, and at the time my family still didn't have a VCR, so it was decades before I finally saw my work for the first time via Netflix. I took some screen grabs that I would like to share with you now. Ladies and gentlemen, here I am on TV!...

Right over there!

How can I be sure it's me? First off, that's obviously my jean jacket. Also, I intentionally chose a spot where I wouldn't be standing in a blob of anonymous kids, and from that window there was a perfect line of vision between me and the camera. My plan was a major success! The girl in white pants was a friend of mine so as we waited we actually developed a brief back story for our characters, and decided that mine made a habit of hitting on hers before school, but she was reluctant. More method acting for me.

What I most remember about the filming sessions is that the camera and lights seemed less substantial than I imagined. I expected lots of high tech equipment, but these guys had a lean, almost chintzy looking setup. I also thought the whole thing seemed pretty run-and-gun. I know they must have done some prep work, but the shots were done very quickly, and that's two whole takes. I remember wondering if the entire event was some sort of ruse. Like after the shoot they might ask us to pay our actors guild fees before skipping town. I was halfway shocked when I heard that we really appeared on the show. I don't mean to disparage those guys, it's just a memorable "expectation versus reality" moment for me. In truth, that's a lot of work to go through to get shots that could have easily been grabbed near the studio, and I doubt the authenticity was even noticed by the audience. When I started watching more episodes I was surprised to find quite a few other shots they had picked up around town, so it's sort of neat that the place is immortalized on the program and will eventually reside in the Burt Reynolds wing of the Smithsonian.

So please watch my show. Remember, it's called Evening Shade and it airs Friday nights at 8 PM in 1990.

July 16, 2014


The familiar sets of a favorite sitcom can be as comforting as the sight of your own living room. The settings of The Mary Tyler Moore Show have always made my TV screen feel like home. True to many of our lives, most of Mary's time is spent ping-ponging between home and the office, but sometimes the story takes us out of Mary's entertaining rut and transports us into the homes, restaurants, and bars of a glorious fake 1970s Minneapolis. These locations are often comfy, den-like retreats covered in bold colors and wood veneer, where the lighting is low and the seating is grand.

I've captured over fifty of my favorite Mary Tyler places in the following pictorial. The program ran from 1970 to 1977, but the majority of these are taken from the first four years. That's because the production design of the later seasons shed most of its 1960s sheen. Well, and also because I don't own seasons five or seven.

The set that inspired this collection is my most beloved of them all, Murray's place. It's the embodiment of the mid-century basement rec room, the trend that emerged in 1950s suburbia and is far less celebrated these days for reasons I cannot comprehend.

It is the culmination of so many words that I like to hear: relaxed, split-level, freestanding cone fireplace, built-in bar, wood paneling with orange highlights, and yes, bumper pool. It is an entire room that is reserved not just for living, but for recreating. Its lack of windows means an extra level of privacy and security that can only be achieved with subterranean walls.

A closeup on Lou reveals witty placards, a novelty trophy, and other whimsical barware. All a reminder that this isn't a place for seriousness. "Welcome To Ulcerville," that's rich!

I'll let the rest of them speak for themselves. So please enjoy this self-guided journey through design history.


Exterior of Murray's house

Looking at View Masters

Rhoda gets a "Visible Woman" model for Christmas

Mary's Christmas desk