Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Gen X Movie Marathon (Week 30 of Fireflies at Dusk: A 52-Week Project)

When I was in high school I used to do movie marathons during winter break either by myself or with a friend.  Four or so movies in one day could mean seeing something like twelve movies in just three days.  Now I'm in my 30s with infinitely more responsibility so it could take several weeks to watch the same number of movies I used to be able to see in a few days.  There have been some holes in the list of quintessential Gen X movies I'd seen throughout my life and I felt it was time to fill those holes in.  This week was the end of a movie marathon I did over the past couple of months and these were some of the movies I recently watched:

Pretty in Pink (1986) - One might wonder how I can call myself a poster child for Gen X if I had never seen this movie.  I meant to.  I just never got around to it until now.   My defense is that I always really wanted to see it.  Now I have. I liked the classic love story line of people falling in love from the opposite side of the tracks.  Molly Ringwald was the teenager that all of us younger Gen X girls looked up to who had not yet become teenagers.  We were sure that she knew everything that we did not - like how to go to a prom with or without a date AND make your own dress.

Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989) - Until now, I'd only seen small fragments of this movie out of chronological order when it would air on some movie channel and then I'd have to turn it off and go do my homework.  Considering that this is a time-travel movie, you can imagine that this would be a bit confusing.  I finally got to see it in its entirity AND in chronological order.  This helped things make much more since when Billy the Kid and Socrates go ice skating at a local mall.  I laughed out loud more than a few times.

Labyrinth (1986) - I have heard Gen Xers reference this movie seemingly hundreds of times during our childhood and teenage years.  While I wasn't crazy about the plot, Jim Hensen and George Lucas both worked on the film, both of who, of course, are very important to Gen X - our childhoods would not have been the same without them.  This meant enormous work went into creating the Muppet characters and the set which had both M.C. Escher and Alice in Wonderland qualities.  I had to smile at the random electric guitar solo soundtrack background that were sometimes accompanied by some crazy synthesizer sounds, too. Very mid-80s.

The Outsiders (1983)  - This was the film in which many from the Brat Pack made their first appearance and it was interesting to see many of them when they were still so very young.  The story is set in an earlier era than the one Gen Xers actually grew up in (the 1950s) and deals with class warfare.  Seeing everyone with their lives and careers ahead of them is sort of amazing since so much of the cast went on to become famous in the years that followed the film.  The cast includes Tom Cruise, Rob Lowe, Matt Dillon, Patrick Swayze, Ralph Macchio, and Diane Lane.

Tron (1982) - I can proudly say that I first saw this movie when in first came out in the theater, which makes me so very Gen X.  Of the $33 million it grossed, about $3 came from my ticket. I was just a six-year-old, so I didn't have the ability to really follow the story line, but I was mesmerized by the glow of the red and blue backlit animation that has vividly resided in my memory all these years.  I liked it even more this time around and I totally see why it became a cult film.  It's amazing to watch a film you haven't seen in 30 years and to recognize every scene.

(c) 2011 photography and writing by Chloe Koffas - all rights reserved

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hot Chocolate and a Charlie Brown Christmas (Week 29 of Fireflies at Dusk: A 52-Week Project)

This week, my family and I watched A Charlie Brown Christmas while sipping hot chocolate. Recently, I have thought a lot about Gen Xers as kids watching classic holiday specials as the weather turns cold - a Gen X seasonal ritual. Getting the full experience of any Charlie Brown holiday pretty much requires that you drink hot chocolate and curl up on the couch with a blanket - possibly like the one Linus has.

For all of the evenings throughout my growing-up years that this was shown on TV, I invariably was trying to get through a mountain of homework, and I'd watch it during a study break.  No matter what math test was coming up that week that I was stressing about, no matter how behind I was on my history paper, whenever this came on TV, this song made me feel so peaceful - like everything would be completely okay.... (Get a cup of hot chocolate ready before you watch this if you can.)

I remember standing and talking with a Gen X friend in her living room when we were teenagers. I was chatting on about something inconsequential and this was on the TV right near us.  She asked me with a certain seriousness to be quiet for a moment so we could watch this.   It felt that in this moment we were in the presence of something sacred.  This scene had been very important to her throughout her childhood, and it made me realize how important this was to the childhood of Gen X.

Frustrated again and again by how commercialized Christmas has become, Charlie Brown asks,  "Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?"  This is the answer he gets....

This has become one of the most beloved animated Christmas specials of all time and it has a special place in the heart of many Gen Xers.

Merry Christmas.


Recipe for Chloe's Coconut Milk Hot Chocolate (Sugar-Free)
canned coconut milk
powdered cocoa
sea salt
Put three or more tablespoons of cocoa powder in a pan on medium heat.
Pour in one can of coconut milk.  (One can makes about two cups).
Put in a tablespoon or more of stevia to taste.
Whisk while it heats up until the cocoa is totally mixed into the coconut milk.
A few shakes of sea salt brings out the taste of the chocolate.
Take off the stove right as it starts to boil and pour into your favorite mug.
(c) 2011 photography and writing by Chloe - all rights reserved

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Gen X Stories (Week 28 of Fireflies at Dusk: A 52-Week Project)

Throughout the Fireflies at Dusk project, I have asked Gen X friends to tell stories about their Gen X childhoods. Their stories have reminded me of Gen X memories long forgotten and have inspired me to come up with new ideas to write about. As they told me their stories, a story about my own childhood came to mind....

After 2nd grade I went to summer school at a local community college. They had all kinds of classes available for kids, so many of us took a half-day of an assortment of classes throughout the week. On the first day, me and about three other kids in my class were panicking because it said "You're On Your Own" on the print-out of our schedules that we had gotten from the administrative office. Our schedule of classes read something like this:

8:00 am Basics in Dance
9:00 am Fun with Art
10:00 am You're On Your Own
11:00 am Outdoor Sports

As it got closer to the time to be 'on my own,' I found myself getting pretty nervous - it made it hard to focus on the class I was in. I looked around and noticed at least a few other kids looking concerned, too. We were worried that soon we were going to be on our own at this big college campus to wander around aimlessly for an hour. We weren't sure what to do until a teacher finally told us that "You're on Your Own" was the name of a class, and pointed us in the direction of the building to find it.

You're on Your Own was actually a class for latchkey kids. Don't ask me why I remember this so well, but the syllabus was something like this:

1) Fire safety, followed by a film about why you shouldn't play with matches.
2) How to mend your own clothes.
3) How to call the police.
4) How to make simple meals on the stovetop (another review of fire safety here).
5) How to cook meals in the microwave if you are scared of the stove (per my request).
6) How to just make cereal for dinner if you don't want to use the microwave (per some other kid's request). We found out it's the same as making it at breakfast - you just eat it while watching prime time instead of morning cartoons.
7) Why you shouldn't get in someone's car if you are walking down the street and they pull up to you and say, "Hey, will you help me look for my lost dog?" (Another review of how to call the police here.)
8) How to make a magazine collage with scissors and a glue stick if you get bored.
9) How to make homemade play dough if you get bored.

The teacher was nice, the class was fun, and we all walked away a little less afraid of being on our own. Or maybe a little more. Either way, the class was fun.

(c) 2011 photography and writing by Chloe - all rights reserved 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Best Gen X Memories (Week 27 of Fireflies at Dusk: A 52-Week Project)

Throughout the course of the Fireflies at Dusk Project, I've asked several Gen Xers about memories that stay with them from their Gen X childhoods.  These are some of my favorites from their memories:

Drinking Jolt and eating Pop Rocks at the same time

Slip 'n Slide

Going to McDonalds with my Mom (who was wearing huge hair/bangs and a huge baggy sweater) and listening to "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us" by Starship on the radio

Garbage Pail Kids

Watching great sports moments with family (Mary Lou Retton, etc.)

Wearing Hypercolor shirts, "jellies" shoes, crimping my hair

Going to a "Super Mario 2" game play party the day the game came out

Having a waterbed/having a canopy bed/having a smurf bedspread

Raggedy Ann and Andy

Watching School House Rock

• Sitting in the school cafeteria and opening the latches on my metal Holly Hobby lunch box



Family home movies recorded on a huge beta camera

The Christmas Fruity Pebbles commerical

Of all the memories, the ones that came up the most were the TV shows they watched.  This included Ramblin' Rod and Voltron before school to after-school specials and Little House on the Prairie when the school day was over.  It also included weekend and weeknight favorites like Pee Wee's Playhouse, The Cosby Show, Fraggle Rock, Punky Brewster, The Facts of Life, and Family Ties.  The grand prize for best TV memories goes to the Gen X friend of mine would play sick to stay home and watch The Price is Right.

One year later update: A friend of mine said she remembers going to Pick and Save to buy "Where's The Beef?" stickers.  I told her I must add this to the Best Gen X memories list.  These weren't just any sticker - these were puffy 3D hamburger stickers.  Awesome.

(c) 2011 photography and writing by Chloe - all rights reserved