The other day while browsing through old photos at Grandmother TNUC’s house, I came across something completely forgotten about over the last three decades. Granny might be senile and quite the haggard old bird, but once in a while she brings back genuine memories from my hazy past.
It was 1989 and times were tough for Uncle T. Not only was he battling through nasty divorces and trying to fix a totaled Lamborghini, but the federal government were inditing him due to the alleged trafficking of cocaine-filled bananas on a cigarette boat through the Panama Canal in ’84. This voyage of the high seas began as the annual, happy TNUC Boob Cruise but swirled into a drug-crazed trip with Uncle T running from mysterious mustached men in leisure suits who wanted him dead. He eventually escaped and returned home.
TNUC realized he needed to stay under the fed’s radar and the idea of starting up a business under a fictitious name crossed his mind. How about construction? In a panic he forged some business documents and created MANIMAL CONSTRUCTION.
Starting a construction company would be no easy feat, but he’d watched a few movies to realize that big burly dudes carrying rebar looked pretty cool, and the idea of heavy metal lunch breaks sitting on giant steel beams 75 stories up in the air looked like pure clean fun. So he posted a few ads in Recycler Magazine looking for party-hardy buff warriors to work for him. After scrounging up all his life savings, MANIMAL CONSTRUCTION was born.
TNUC received a number of phone calls and told the men to meet Monday morning at the new job site. Over the week he sealed a deal with Estate Films, Inc., producers of the popular ‘Rock Video Girls’ home video collection. They needed a new studio built and hired MANIMAL CONSTRUCTION as the low bidder of the job.
My workers showed up as promised and work began right away. Well…after a few morning beers, steroid injections and meatball sandwiches. Safety first!
While Uncle T operated the crane, my crew set foundations and poured concrete. I made sure these guys didn’t pass out from heat exhaustion or cramped up, so I had a couple video vixens prowl around the job site and pass out beers and peanuts. It was a great day. I went home at lunchtime to take care of some business at “the office” and figured the crew could handle things on the site.
When I returned around 3 o’clock there were camera crews, production equipment, dollies, trailers and craft services. Frantic cameramen rushed around while strange music played over the PA. Even my concrete pump crane had even been transformed into a video camera crane. I flipped out and my emotions got the best of me, smashing 2×4’s over people’s heads.
I’d been used, victimized and made a fool of. They faked being interested in working for my company for some silly video shoot! But I’d be lying if I wasn’t a bit intrigued…
A man quickly approached me and introduced himself as Vince McMahon, chairman of the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). At the time I knew nothing about the wrestling world, so these wrestling “superstars” were complete strangers. Mr. McMahon pulled me aside and offered a grandiose deal that I couldn’t refuse. For my troubles he promised to provide a large sum of money, plus a chance to star in their new music video for a song called “Piledriver” from Piledriver: The Wrestling Album II.
Naturally I took the bait and production for the video wrapped that evening. We never actually finished building anything but my new earnings from the WWF (now the WWE) was more than enough to keep me out of trouble. I also had the unique opportunity to meet with all these wrestling neanderthals who I had originally thought were day laborers. Among the crew were Koko B. Ware, Hulk Hogan, The Honky Tonk Man, Billy Jack Haynes, Jimmy Hart, “The Magnificent” Don Muraco and “Superstar” Billy Graham! Above, watch the official music video for “Piledriver” and see if you can spot Uncle T dancing on a stack of lumber!
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So why are we only now sharing this story? Because it’s WrestleMania week! Meaning that WWE’s WrestleMania 33 airs this Sunday on the WWE Network. WrestleMania is the super bowl of the wrestling world and the TNUC lair is currently getting prepared. I realize that not everyone is a fan of wrestling so I hope this story was at least entertaining enough to keep you engaged.
On today’s installment of Stripped Down Sundays, please start out by finding the nearest hammock, La-Z-Boy, lawn chair or anything to put you into reclining position. Next, set yourself up with a large Piña Colada or any tropical drink. Who cares if it’s nine in the morning? Now close your eyes and drift away to an exotic island where you and a scantily clad dream babe are together for a bungle in the jungle. The band Danger Danger are here to assist with one of their most tantalizing tracks…
“Ol’ King Kong
He had a thing for blondes
The ladies were drivin’ him ape
Then that poor boy slipped
And he lost his grip
From the top of the Empire State”
Of course if you need maximum results, the stripped down acoustic version of this song probably isn’t going to do it. Danger Danger’s best album in their catalogue is 1991’s Screw It!, which contains the song ‘Monkey Business’ in full pumping glory.
Ah, screw it. I know these are our Stripped Down Sundays and we’re supposed to be relaxing by unplugging the guitars and amps, but we’re making an exception today because this is one of Uncle T’s favorite “arena rock” music videos. Gorillas, long butts, denim and lead singer Ted Poley dry humping the air on stage. Enjoy.
Have a blessed Sunday.
Back when Pizza Hut was a somewhat respected fast-food pizza chain and the restaurant was still recognizable thanks to the red vinyl booths, stained glass chandeliers, shiny red roof and most importantly – halfway decent pizza – the company was crazy about their promotions. Movie tie-ins were a big thing as the ‘Hut struck deals with Land Before Time, Back to the Future and of course the biggest of them all, the TMNT franchise, with the restaurant being coined as “the official pizza power for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles“.
These generated a truckload of promotional items and materials that can now be found at crusty flea markets and on auction sites like eBay. Most commonly found are cups, glasses and kid’s plush toys. Once in a while Pizza Hut glory day aficionados like Uncle T will come across something really precious like a pair of Back to the Future Part II “Solar Shades” from 1989. Or one of their delivery boy jackets from the early ’90s. However every so often something really, really bizarre surfaces. An item that really makes us scratch our heads and wonder what type of acid a disgruntled teen employee dropped into the mozzarella cheese barrel before a corporate exec ate their lunch that day.
The monster announcement of 2017 came last week when Pizza Hut unveiled their “pizza tops” sneakers which have a built-in app, allowing you to order a pizza directly from your sneakers. Due to the sudden rage and TNUC getting multiple messages from fans about these wild things (thank you), now is probably a good time to shed some light on some of Pizza Hut’s most peculiar items throughout the company’s legacy. Some are promotional items while others are just oddities that popped up at different restaurant locations. Let’s go ahead and start discussing some of the great Pizza Hut Peculiarities!
#1 Radio & Headphones!
The late eighties saw the partnering of two pop culture giants, Pizza Hut and Radio Shack. In 1986 they released the Radio with Headphones, a true triumph of technology equipped with little pizzas that hugged around your ears! Plus, this was during the age when all headphones had those puffy muffs (don’t know the technical term) to rest on your ‘lobes. Why did those go away? Also why weren’t these pizza headphones more of a big deal? I know whenever TNUC gets a request to DJ pool parties and monster truck gatherings, he’s always wearing these hot numbers while cranking the hits.
#2 Dirty Doily!
This lil’ nasty hails from the 1970’s(!) and has a current listing price of $12.31 on eBay (price including food stains). I don’t know what’s more unsettling, the fact that someone’s held onto this stained napkin since the 1970’s or that they want to sell it. If Uncle T was the seller, I’d pretend it was used by a famous person and have an elaborate story to back it up. “Rod Stewart and a bunch of hookers stopped by Pizza Hut one night while on tour in ’78. After devouring a Priazzo pan pizza in 90 seconds, they ran out of the restaurant without paying, leaving only this dirty doily and cocaine residue all over the table”.
#3 Pocket Knife!
“You know, if you stab a man in the dead of winter, steam will rise up from the wounds. Indians believed it was his soul escaping from his body.” – Glenn, Manager of Stan Mikita’s Donuts.
If the dirty doily gets the grand prize for the creepiest item on this list, the Pizza Hut KNIFE follows shortly behind. I get a real uneasy feeling looking at this, like it must have been used in a murder or dangerous love affair/scandal. I bet it was a love triangle that resulted in heartbreak and some jealous soul being stabbed by an enraged lustful lover. From its box to even the blue blanket it was photographed on, this had to have showed up in an episode of Unsolved Mysteries.
#4 Vinyl Record!
From 1982 the smash-success Pizza Hut Hits exploded into the hearts and minds of the youth. In all seriousness this is a very peculiar promo item. There isn’t much information available about how the record was released however we did discover that it can be easily purchased and typically for very cheap. The songs on this compilation range from country-rock to soul, which isn’t exactly the type of music that comes to mind when thinking about Pizza Hut. It would have made way more sense to have Huey Lewis, The Beach Boys, Eddie Money, Whitesnake, etc. Maximum respect goes out to the cover artist though who nailed it with the pizza spinning on an ancient record player.
#5 Hawaiian Shirt!
Ah, there’s no better way to celebrate Hawaiian Shirt Friday at the office than donning this tantalizing tropical button-down made by the designer dream team over at Pizza Hut. To accompany this carefree fashion statement, it’s best to display a similar “fuck it all” attitude while wearing it. Consider roller blading into your office Friday morning (at least 2 and a half hours late), balancing a steamy large cheese with one hand and a boom-box blasting David Lee Roth’s “A Lil Ain’t Enough” in the other. Lastly cruise by your bosses’ office and pause, pulling your sunglasses down to give him a viscous eyebrow shake, then keep cruising until you trip and fall face-first into the secretary’s lap between her legs. Cobwebs!
#6 Lunch Cooler!
Some might suggest the Pizza Hut cooler is just a plastic lunchbox with a logo slapped on it, but they’d be dead fucking wrong. This juggernaut is a STATEMENT. Bring this thing to the beach party or better yet the CONSTRUCTION SITE. While everyone’s rolling in with their boring Igloo coolers filled with mundane lunches, show your love of the ‘Hut with the Pizza Hut cooler! You’ll be the talk of the job site. Plus, how rad would this look sitting on a stack of 2 x 4’s? Bonus points if you stuff a bunch of gooey pizza inside and share with the crew.
#7 Dehydrated Miniature Pizzas!
Pizza Hut jumped all over the opportunity for a corporate tie-in with 1989’s Back to the Future Part II. Futuristic commercials aired on TV and kids went wild for Pizza Hut’s $1.99 “Solar Shades” as worn by characters in the movie that hang out at Cafe 80’s. One of the most memorable moments in BTTF 2 was when the McFly family sits down for a hydrated pizza. In the scene, Mrs. McFly takes a dehydrated pizza (about the size of a cookie) and pops it into the Black & Decker hydrator and within a matter of seconds, it comes out piping hot and the size of a conventional pizza!
While replicas like the one pictured above aren’t officially licensed, they’re simply too good to exclude from this list. Several sellers on eBay have them available to purchase but of course we’re waiting on Pizza Hut to raise the bar and invent the technology to make these a reality.
#8 Classy Watch!
Pizza Hut could’ve easily went the kiddie route with this one, making neon red watches that kids could wear to school and destroy at recess. Maybe throw a Ninja Turtle on there and shove it with the rest of the TMNT merchandise.
NOPE. Pizza Hut had a far different, more “executive” idea. Leather bands, gold framing and a degree of class and sophistication unmatched by most. Ladies and gentlemen, introducing the Pizza Hut watch. Worn by top doctors, lawyers, wall street execs and CEO’s of fortune 500 companies, the Pizza Hut watch is a way to impress the board room, swoon the ladies and give you that boost of confidence you so rightfully deserve. You’ve earned it, champ. Now roll up those blazer sleeves, pour yourself a icy glass of Zima and thank God you were born.
TNUC’s dream promo item to own? My very own Pizza Hut delivery “car topper”. You know, those light up boxes that delivery drivers install on the top of their cars. Bonus points if it’s one of those triangular ones mirroring the restaurant’s signature red roof.
Thanks for reading yet another article on goddamn Pizza Hut. The real reason this place fascinates me so much is because of what it used to be. Beyond TNUC being a total sucker for sit-down pizza parlors, Pizza Hut was simply a fun place that took risks with a bunch of wacky ideas for menu options and fun promotional tie-ins. The commercials really tired to pull at the heartstrings and were sometimes very effective. If the little league commercial at the beginning of TMNT the movie doesn’t get your heart pumping, you’re a deadbeat. Even the generic Italian “mama mia” murals that hung on the restaurant walls at least showed they cared. The place had heart.
If you have memories of the glory days of this legendary American franchise, share them on the social media networks and tag #MakePizzaHutGreatAgain.
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We live in a time where the “synthwave” genre is without question over-saturated. It seems as though anyone with a laptop and photoshopped palm tree/neon glow logo is posting their version of something somebody already did better. It’s rare when a song comes along and really surprises us or makes you genuinely feel something, like so frequently during those first few years. Many artists have progressed into different or more commercial music styles, but as far as the instrumental synthwave/dreamwave/future synth guys are concerned, there are only a select few consistently making quality, exciting music. Uncle T apologizes if he sounds like a crusty old weasel.
Thankfully Lazerhawk is one of them. It’s a good thing, because his new album Dream Rider could’ve easily slipped through the cracks. With track titles like ‘Neon Dawn’ and ‘Cruise’, on the surface that sounds like something we’ve heard over and over again. There isn’t anything very special about the cover artwork either. I mean, it’s cool, but does nothing to stand out among the 7,000 other images of neon, grids, palm trees and cars.
Ah, BUT THEN THE MUSIC KICKS IN.
‘Awakening’ is just one example of how LazerHawk changes up the formula to bring us on a five minute voyage to depths hardly ever reached inside this style of music. The songs sound broad and massive. I like to imagine this music being recorded in an all-glass studio that sits at the top of a plateau with panoramic views of the desert. LazerHawk did it, folks.
His previous album Skull and Shark was a heavy and fast paced effort, suitably fit for a night drive or maybe a Soviet Russian boxer’s workout session. In contrast, Dream Rider is more of a daytime album that takes it’s time and focuses way more on the individual musical journey of each song, packed with dramatic ups and downs and sweeping synths. There’s also an alien-like, celestial feeling in some of the songs that I hadn’t heard him explore before.
Enough reading. Go find the nearest automobile, fire up Lazerhawk’s Dream Rider and ride directly into the sunset. Hopefully wherever you are in the world, these songs make your days a little warmer, your nights a little more seductive.
Buy Dream Rider here.
In this month’s edition of Stripped Down Sundays, we’re greeted by the heavy metal creature himself, Blackie Lawless of WASP. Today Blackie is almost unrecognizable without blood drooling from his mouth, the saw blade cod piece, motorcycle mic stand or those pesky Ghoulies running about.
Sans the gimmicks, these solo acoustic performances further defend our testament that Lawless was one of the greatest signers and songwriters of the decade.
These songs come from WASP’s fifth studio album The Crimson Idol, a concept album about the rise and fall of a fictional rock star named Jonathan Steel. The album marked a revolutionary turn for the band with songwriting taking a far more serious approach than their previous work. The Crimson Idol was originally recorded as a Blackie Lawless solo album but apparently the bandleader was pressured to release it under the WASP name.
Unfortunately WASP were already four albums deep and the general consensus about the band from mainstream media had been established. While the “glam shock rockers” had a nice little run on MTV which earned them a few hits, they weren’t to be taken as “serious songwriters”. WASP also never fit in with the poppy glam metal groups, nor did they mesh well with the straight up metal bands.
While Blackie & Co. will mostly be remembered for their violent theatrics, spitting blood and chewing raw meat on stage, there was a depth to this band that still to this day goes right over some people’s heads.
Time to pour yourself a bloody mary on this easy Sunday and crank up these stripped down hymns courtesy of Blackie Lawless!