80s Top 5… Nostalgic Gadgets – Guest Post by Cass Brooks

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Our gadgets are so heavily relied upon in 2013, it is easy to forget that a lot of our favorites, the Xbox360 and Smart phones, actually had their humble beginnings in the 1980′s. We now have mobile casino games, Facebook and our digital photos at our fingertips, but there was a time when we had to manually rewind our VHS videos and untangle our favorite tapes. A time when our gadgets may not have been so readily available, but they were just as fun!

So here are my favourite gadgets from our childhood!

5. Sony Walkman (1980)

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With the introduction of the Sony Walkman into the limelight, we all began donning our roller skates and creating mix tapes for the boy at school. This was the first mainstream portable music gadget, much like our ipods today and its popularity has certainly matched that of our MP3 players. In total, throughout the life span of the walkman, Sony sold over 200 million units and everyone from Michael Jackson to Prince had theirs on display, you didn’t want to be seen without one!


4. Commodore 64 (1982)

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We may all want the latest tablet or net book, for how portable they are, but the 1980′s were all about the performance and less about the look – enter the Commodore 64 – the 80′s answer to the iMac. Initially the Commodore 64 was sold with 64KB of Memory, with sound and graphics quality that was greater than the other big players, IBM for one.

One of the reasons the Commodore 64 became such a loved personal computer was its affordability. It was originally sold at $565, which was cheap compared to other computers of the 80′s, mainly because computers were seen a just gadgets for the office and not the home. This was also the first computer to be sold in other shops from just electronics stores.


3. Video Home System (VHS) Player (1985)


It would be difficult to think of a time when we couldn’t watch our favourite films wherever we are, on whatever platform we choose, but there was a time when there was only one option for watching film on our own, at home and that was the VHS Player. Some of the most loved films of all time were made in the 80′s, like Jaws, Back to the Future and Rambo, to name just a couple! So when they were released on VHS, you would spend hours watching the film, rewinding back to the beginning – oh yes, this was the era of waiting for things to rewind, and then watching the film again!

The licenses for VHS films was also slightly less stringent than they are today, so they could create the video tapes at a reduced cost, making them a lot more widespread. The quality of a VHS tape would be about 333×480 in today’s standard.


2. Nintendo NES (1986)

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Mario, Zelda and Sonic the Hedgehog are all names we recognise today, that had their birth with the launch of the 80′s most loved gaming console. The Nintendo NES was the precursor to all of our consoles we use today and definitely laid the way for the Wii and the Xbox. The NES revolutionized the home gaming industry and created a similar style that we know and love today.

The Nintendo NES was released in the US with a price tag of $250 and in the 80′s you didn’t just pay for the console, oh no, you got a total of 18 games for free with your purchase. During the course of its lifetime it would sell more than 60 million units, bring to life some games still played today and start a retro gaming revolution seen in many countries around the globe.


1. Mr Frosty Slush Maker (Throughout the 1980′s)

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I wanted to end with a classic 80′s toy/gadget, as this era holds some of the best. If you haven’t heard of Mr Frosty before, then he was a snowman who made deliciously, brightly coloured slushys for us by crushing ice in his hat! He was mostly popular throughout Europe. I still remember the advertisement today and this is one gadget you can still buy in 2013. Much like the popular the popular Soda Stream of the 1990′s, kids and adults alike went crazy for this little snowman, making him one of the best selling toys of the 1980′s.

For a slice of nostalgia, then head over to Amazon where they are still available to buy!



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80s Top 5 – Interview with Karen Booth


Karen Booth, author of Bring Me Back, has been my guest on the blog all week. Today I turn the tables and ask her some questions about her book and the 80s! Here’s what you need to know about the book before we get started:

Music critic Claire Abby is a single mom dreading her daughter’s departure for college and worried that turning forty will leave her career running on fumes. She’s floored when she lands a Rolling Stone cover story on 80s British rock legend Christopher Penman. She spent her teenage years fantasizing he was her boyfriend.

In person, Christopher is everything Claire feared he’d be—charming, witty and unwilling to address the rumors he’s dodged for a decade. Still, she contains her adolescent fantasies and manages to earn his trust, unearthing the truth and the devastating secret behind it.  His blockbuster story is her first priority when she returns home, a nearly impossible task when Christopher starts calling and flirting. She knows she should maintain a professional distance. She knows she should focus on the story. She knows it would be best to simply walk away. But how can she say “no” to the man she could never forget?

“Fast-paced, sexy and altogether irresistible, Bring Me Back is made all the more appealing by Karen Booth’s inside knowledge of the music industry. A flat-out fabulous read!”–Celia Rivenbark, NYT Bestselling author



Pop Eighties: Bring Me Back has a music industry focus, a world that you were part of in real life. How much of what goes on in the book is inspired by your own experiences?

Karen: The main thing I borrowed from my time in the music industry is knowledge of how things work—recording, interviews, soundcheck—things like that. One of my pet peeves about rock star books is that they are so unlike the way things are in real life. It was very important to me that my book be as realistic as possible, because it’s a dream scenario. The only way you buy the dream is if you plop it down into reality.

I suppose I also used my personal experiences with rock stars when writing the book, but there’s not much to “use” there—they’re people, just like us. They put their leather pants on one leg at a time.


Pop Eighties: What interested you about this particular story overall?

Karen: The story was inspired by a very steamy dream I had about John Taylor from Duran Duran. The thing is, the dream came when I was 32 years old. This wasn’t about the teenage me pining for JT (although, believe me, plenty of that happened)—this was a dream about two very grown up people, at a time when I hadn’t thought about the man in years. When I woke up from the dream, I caught myself thinking that it wouldn’t be THAT weird for a woman to meet and fall in love with the rock star she was obsessed with in high school….just make it happen years later, when he’s on the downside of his career and she’s less likely to be blindly swayed by his charms.


Pop Eighties: How would you describe Claire’s personal journey throughout the book?

Karen: One thing that surprises people about “Bring Me Back” is that it isn’t just about the love story between Christopher and Claire, although that is the central storyline. It’s also about single mom Claire coming to grips with the fact that her only child, Samantha, is a year away from college. There are a lot of growing pains and Samantha is moving much more quickly than Claire is, mostly because Claire is digging in her heels.

The other important storyline is between Claire and her father. Claire’s mom passed away before Samantha was born and Claire is still grieving for her, even after seventeen years. Claire’s father isn’t doing any better. They have always had an odd relationship—I’d call it falsely affectionate. Her dad doesn’t know how to have a real connection with her and Claire thinks her dad will always regard her as the daughter who comes up short. They have a lot to work through over the course of the book.

The love story isn’t a traditional one. Claire and Christopher both grow a lot through it, and it’s painful at times as all personal transformation is. I think Claire’s journey, for the most part, is about letting go.


Pop Eighties: Tell us about the character of 80s rock legend Christopher Penman.

Karen: Can I tell you that simply reading his name brings a huge grin to my face? It’s unavoidable. Christopher could charm anyone, especially with his British accent and brilliant smile. He’s that at-ease, totally in control, witty and flirtatious guy. He’s ridiculously handsome too—tall and lanky, with unforgettable green eyes and a thick mop of reddish-brown hair. Frankly, Claire never stood a chance.

His band Banks Forest was huge in the 80s (well, at least in my head…and in the book). But over the years, Christopher’s many shining attributes have become the public persona, the mask he must wear to deal with the world he lives in. When you start to get to know him, you realize that those waters run deep and he’s a very sentimental and emotional guy. Despite unbridled success and musical triumphs, much of his life has been about having everything except the things he really wanted.


Pop Eighties: Who is your personal favorite 80s musician?

Karen: John Taylor for Duran Duran, of course! I can honestly say it’s much more than his enduring good looks, although the man has aged insanely well. Duran is not only my favorite band from my youth they’re in my top five to this day. I had the chance to meet the band twice on the last tour and that was certainly a dream come true. I have the photos to prove it!



You can purchase a copy of Bring Me Back from Amazon, Turquoise Morning Press, or check out Karen’s website for more info!

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80s Music – Guest DJ Karen Booth

Karen Booth, author of Bring Me Back, is our guest DJ today! She has chosen two songs for Double  Play Wednesday that tie in with her new book… how do they fit in? You’ll have to check out the book to find out!

First up is the one and only Duran Duran with Save a Prayer.

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Guest Post by Karen Booth, Author of Bring Me Back

Big thanks to Jenna for hosting me on the blog this week. She graciously offered to let me write a piece I’ve been wanting to write, about the 80s one-hit wonders who should have been so much more (in my estimation, at least). So, I scoured the list of the decade’s one-hit wonders and after breathing a sigh of relief that The Communards and Pia Zadora only had one chance to leave their mark on the musical landscape, I came up with my list—the artist and their wonder of a one-hit.


Dexy’s Midnight Runners “Come On Eileen” (1983)

What an adorable group of Brits Dexy’s were, and fabulous musicians to boot. When researching this song, I discovered that the inspiration for the title came from the 1960s soul song “A Man Like Me”. No mention of the fact that Bananarama totally stole Dexy’s look for the “Cruel Summer” video.


Modern English “I Melt With You” (1982)

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Front Row at Bruce Springsteen – Melbourne Concert Review


It was still dark when the alarm rang out through my room. I got out of bed, groggy at first, but then I remembered what day it was – for 25 years I’d been waiting for this moment to arrive.

I headed down to Melbourne’s arena complex, alongside smartly-dressed office workers and those mildly-irritating happy morning exercisers. My friend Silvana and I had purchased General Admission tickets for the Boss, probably the world’s best living performer, and we wanted to be up close so I hit the line up in the early hours of the morning. There was some initial confusion over the line up process, it being very different to how it was officially advertised by the ticket company. But we got our numbers and then – we waited. We waited for hours, got a bit sunburnt and a lot dehydrated (as somewhat of a concert line-up veteran, I know what a bad idea it is to chug a lot of water during the day, especially close to show time, because a trip to the bathroom once you’re inside could mean losing your spot!).

The hours ticked by, the lines grew bigger, the air buzzed with excitement. I looked at the people ahead of me in line, constantly ran the numbers and talked to the people around me who had been to other shows on this tour – where would be the best place to stand? Is it better to be second row centre, or first row side? Right or left of the stage? Silvana had arrived later than me and was a few numbers back – would we be able to meet up inside? Would we have to watch separately? There were way too many variables and I was anxious all the way up until we were inside.

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80s Music – Springsteen Double Play

The excitement is growing! I’ll be seeing the Boss LIVE in just over 24 hours! For today’s double play, here are the two songs that I want him to play most. The Boss is well known for changing his setlist constantly – so what he plays to the crowd tonight could be completely different to what we get tomorrow! I know he has played my first choice recently, but I haven’t seen the second on a setlist in a while – I wonder if I’ll get to hear it!

First, the amazing Promised Land (yes, from the 70s, but it’s unbelievable!).

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