Classic Home Videos

Where were you on Labor Day of 1990?Before there were reality shows starring idiots for us to pity/make fun of every week, or a phenomenon called YouTube where any fool can upload their tomfoolery for the entire world to see, there were two decades (the ‘80’s and ‘90’s) where we filmed opportune moments of our own lives and kept them to ourselves to laugh at.  And they became classic VHS gold, forever saved in our memories; ready material for reminiscing with those involved, in an instant’s notice.

The most honored tape of cherished memories still at my parents’ house is labeled “Labor Day ‘90”.  It had just been a few months earlier that my parents finally sacrificed a thousand dollars for the behemoth black-and-white-view-finder-equipped video recorder.  On that lazy afternoon at my Italian grandfather’s house with the whole family there, our lazy vacation day became a personal collection of gems. 

So maybe those moments aren’t funny to the rest of the world (not YouTube material), but to our family, the tape is hilarious every time we throw it in the now antique VHS player.  These moments include, but are not limited to the following:

“Is this thing gonna be that thang?”- My sister holds up to the camera in one hand a dandelion in which the wind had blown off the seeds, and in the other hand, a dandelion still with all its seeds in tact.  Then in her (at the time) Southern-fried accent asked the camera operator (my mom), “Is this thing gonna be that thang?”

“Can you figure it out?”-Sitting sideways on a plastic ribbon braided lawn chair with my arms behind my back, I faced the camera while my dad hid behind me, putting his arms out as my own.  As my mom asked me basic questions, none of which I seemed to know the answer, my dad used his arms to make motions to indicate it (he used his arms to scratch my head like I was thinking, etc.). 

It was pretty obvious he was behind me, not only for the fact that his arms were much bigger and darker than mine, but also because his mullet was showing in the shot.  Finally my mom (as the cameraman) asks the viewers at home, “Can you figure it out?”

“Nick and Dana… back up now!”-  My grandfather lived on five acres which he was very proud of and which was prone to appearances of wildlife.  In the front yard that day, he found a baby bird in nest in a small tree (only about five feet tall).  My mom walked the camera over to the tree, attempting to zoom in on the bird.  In the meantime, my sister and I (respectively ages 6 and 9) ran over to see if we could get a closer look at the bird. 

For fear of us scaring the bird away (like a baby bird is going to fly way…), my mom warned us, through clenched teeth (to keeping from scaring the baby bird away) “Nick and Dana… back up now!”  The hilarious part is that the whole time the camera was on the tree, the bird was barely visible up in the top corner of the shot. 

“I’m a winner!”- My dad, who a year later won 2nd place in the Northeast Alabama karate sparring tournament, was “play fighting” me.  Doing my best to ward off his slow-motion kicks and punches, he finally got me in a headlock.  He growled to me, “Say ‘I’m a winner’!  Say it!  Say it!”  I struggled to escape as he took me to the ground.  I gave in, with a clever twist.  I declared, “I’m a winner!” in a wimpy, Southern, nine year-old voice that in no way indicated what I was saying was true. 

We were the original comedians of comedy in our own worlds.  And even if we never get around to converting those video clips from VHS to digital format and eventually to YouTube, those classic hilarious moments in our minds are still better than any reality TV shows we’ll ever know.

Advertisements

Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution

Ten years ago when reality shows first starting becoming popular, I was the first to say they were lame.  But in the past decade, there have been a few that I have really taken interest in.  The Biggest Loser is one.  Because it doesn’t necessarily feature a bunch of type A personalities trapped in a house just for the sake of making people annoy each other.  I guess it’s that I like my reality shows to have somewhat of a meaningful people that somehow helps people.

Something I’ve learned about reality shows since 2000 is this.  Some of the best ones feature a British person.  The clever producers found a smart way invent a show that carries over the ideals of The Biggest Loser with the editing feel of Super Nanny (a show that truly annoys me) with a charming British host.

Jamie Oliver’s Food Nation wins my approval.

He goes to Huntington, West Virginia, the “most unhealthiest town” in the country, where 50% of the people are obese.  Not overweight, but obese.  Its status of unhealthiest town is based on government statistics on death.  Clearly the people of this town are doing something wrong.

The most entertaining part of this show is where we see the bass ackwards ways that the people of the town eat and what they deem as normal and acceptable.  Clearly not eating for nutrition, only for convenience and pleasure.

As Jamie visits Central City Elementary School, he discovers that pizza is being served for breakfast, along with sugary cereals that turn the milk pink.  The “mashed potatoes” are actually dehydrated potato flakes and they count as a vegetable serving.  (Potatoes are a starch, like corn.)

Jamie then takes a look in the freezer.  Mainly boxes full of processed foods that none of the lunch ladies can pronounce the ingredients.  To give them credit though, most people went being able to.  Because the ingredients are chemicals, not food.

Next Jamie visits for lunch.  Processed chicken nuggets it is.  He takes a look at the food the kids are throwing out as they leave: The vegetables and fruit.

Interestingly, it seems the only understanding Jamie receives comes from the pastor of First Baptist Church, Steve Willis.  In a clip of one of his sermons called “Culture Shock”, he tells his congregation:  “It should bother us that we’re the worst city in the worst state in the worst country.”  (For diet, that is.)

Jamie decides to check out the average home situation to see how a child’s eating habits are affecting by the parents.  He visits the Edwards family, who are all overweight to obese.  Perhaps most notable is the 12 year-old son who appears to be well in the latter 200’s.  And a 4 year-old daughter who, based on her size, I thought was 6 or 7.

Not surprisingly, the mother makes them fried doughnuts with chocolate icing every morning for breakfast.  When Jamie confronts her about this, she laughs.  He tells her that by laughing off her enablement she is using a defense mechanism.

Their freezer is full of frozen pizzas.  Or as they call them: snacks.

Jamie convinces the family they all the food they eat is the same color- golden brown.  Therefore, they bury their deep fryer in the backyard and has the mother pray over it, like a funeral.

The next day back at the school, Jamie Oliver begins his experiment. He has a week to improve the diet of what is being served in the lunchroom but at the same time staying under budget.

He learns that the lunchroom ladies are required to serve two “grain servings” each meal.  In this twisted world of reality, they serve pizza as a grain serving.  But since they have no true grains to serve, they serve two carbs in place of it.  Which both consists of white bread.

My favorite (and the most disturbing) part of the episode was when Jamie took several kids aside in a classroom to teach them what is in their beloved chicken nuggets, which they told him they often eat for dinner when they get home.

He takes a baked chicken and removes the edible parts, including the breasts and the wings.  He takes what is left and places it into a blender: the bloody leftovers and bones.  After letting the chicken’s leftovers run in the blender for a few seconds, it becomes a pink, blobby substance that he molds in to patties, sprinkles with breadcrumbs, and deep fries them.

Definitely was as disgusting as it sounded.  After he cooks the Frankenstein patties, Jamie asks the children who would like to try one.  Without much hesitation, most of the kids eagerly raise their hands.  And eat the homemade nuggets.

Jamie Oliver then explains to the camera that this was the first time anyone has ever wanted to eat the nuggets.

Another funny, yet sad, part of the episode was when he went into a classroom full of 6 year-olds to make sure they could identify fruits and vegetables in their whole form.  That didn’t go too well.  One kid thought a potato as a tomato and that was about as close as any student go to being correct.

As the episode starting winding down, Jamie took the Edwards family to the doctor for a check-up.  The father admitted that they only go to the doctor once “something gets broken”.  Surprisingly, the 12 year-old son mentioned earlier does not yet have Diabetes, but the doctor indeed classified him as “morbidly obese”, telling his parents that if he remains this way his condition will take off at least 30 years of his life.

Back at the school again the next day, Jamie decides to do an experiment for some of the parents of the schoolchildren, since his chicken nugget experience didn’t pan out so well.  Having the children hold a giant tarp, a loaded dump truck emptied a month’s worth of lard into it.  Along with hundreds of gallons of chocolate milk.

Interestingly, Jamie informed them (and us) that chocolate milk has more sugar in it than soda.  Yikes.

Jamie now has to prove he can make a healthy meal to serve that day for lunch that the children will actually eat, and still come in under budget.  He learns that the school does not have forks or knives.  The kids are so used to eating nothing but processed foods that spoons are all they need.

Along with the principal of the school, Jamie teaches the children how to use a knife and fork.  The kids don’t really like his healthy meal that much, and Jamie doubles the expenses of the budget, but because this is a contracted series, the superindendent and head nutritious agreed to give Jamie more time to change the eating habits of the school.

I have a feeling that Jamie Oliver’s Food Nation has the potential to become more than just a 6 episode mini-series.  Hopefully it will replace The Super Nanny.  Please?

Favorite Quotes:

“It sets like concrete?”  -Jamie Oliver, repeating the words of one of the lunch ladies as she described to him how they make the “mashed potatoes”

“The milk’s got crap in it.  The cereal’s got crap in it.”  -Jamie, explaining the lack of nutrition in the breakfast served at the school

“What’s right with that?”  -Jamie, answering a lunch lady who asked him, “What’s wrong with that?”, referring to a frozen solid chicken nugget Jamie took out of the freezer

“I’m here for the money, but you gotta love the kids too.”  -Alice, the head lunch lady