Nostalgia can be a funny thing. It was once considered a sign of a mental disorder in Swiss soldiers during the 17th century when the term was first coined. It wasn’t until the late 1990s when a professor, Dr. Constantine Sedikides, began to seriously study the sentimental longing. Sedikides and his researchers developed tools to help explain why we have these affections for things from our past. They found that nostalgia can help battle loneliness, boredom, and anxiety. The memories of joy can come with a sense of loss, but the positive tends to outweigh any of the bittersweet feelings.
When I went through a rough breakup about a year ago, I spent countless nights watching old episodes of The Simpsons. It felt like getting a hug from an old friend I hadn’t seen in a long time. I could remember how excited I was when the first episode aired, my mom worrying that the show would corrupt me, and being in art class discussing the previous night’s episode with the only other die hard fan I knew (our teacher would always interrupt us with shushing). Those happy memories helped subside the sadness.
They say that one of the best ways to induce nostalgia is through music. I don’t disagree, but I also find movies and television shows can have the same effect. Star Wars is one of those movie franchises that strikes nostalgia in people over several generations. I missed out on the first two films. Sure, I had the Darth Vader underoos and I vaguely remember watching A New Hope on TV with my dad. But Return of the Jedi was my true collision course with the Star Wars universe. That’s when I started getting the toys: Luke Skywalker in his black garb, Ewoks, mail-in figures, the Biker Scout blaster with a scope and sound effects, and others.
While I was a fan of Star Wars, I was a much bigger fan of superheroes and other toys, such as G.I. Joe, Transformers, and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. I could get lost building my own world. I could have the Ewoks team up with Batman (if you squeezed his legs his arms would punch wildly) and take on the evil Decepticons. Unlike my cousins who would strap firecrackers to their G.I. Joe figures, I cherished of my toys. Maybe I did try to feed Grimlock a raisin, which got stuck in the back of his T-Rex mouth, and sometimes I would turn into Victor Frankenstein and reassemble the body parts of the Joes and Cobra agents to create something new. These treasured parts of my childhood are still around, packed away in my memories and boxes.
Galaxy Dry Hopped Funk Yo Couch: The Basics
- Brewery: Wiley Roots Brewing Company (Greeley, CO)
- Style: Saison
- ABV: 6.0%
Galaxy Dry Hopped Funk Yo Couch: The Details
The name of this beer is a nod to Charlie Murphy and one his classic sketches from Chappelle’s Show. Yet all I could think about was a galaxy far, far away, and spending time on the couch watching Star Wars, and using the cushions to build forts for my action figures to destroy. I haven’t made a visit to Wiley Roots, but it’s definitely on my list after having this tasty, tart saison made with Brett.
My first thought when I popped off the cap was how wonderful it smelled, and then “Uh oh,” as I saw the bubbles slowly rise up to the opening. Luckily this wasn’t a gusher. The aroma of fruity funk was all around me. When poured, the beer formed a head like a Cumulus cloud. The top of the head was puffy and uneven and had a nice lacing that clung to the glass. The color is a slightly hazy, dark straw, amber color. The nose on this is fruity and the funkiness of Brett. There are notes of melon, citrus, some peach, and perhaps some honey.
This is a tart saison that is light and refreshing. At first, it had an apple cider vinegar note to it, but as it warmed it morphed into a lemony acidic note. There is also a fruitiness to the taste that includes a mixture of stone and tropical fruits. The honey is there too, and that helps balance out the tartness. While the beer is fruity there is only a slight touch of sweetness to it. I didn’t detect any pepper qualities compared to your standard saisons. Overall this is a dry and effervescent beer.
Plastic Galaxy: The Story of Star Wars Toys (2014)
- Director: Brian Stillman
- Genre: Documentary
- Total Running Time: 1hr 8mins
- Rating: NR
- Availability: Hulu
Plastic Galaxy takes a look at the emergence of pop culture through toys. This was a crowd sourced documentary so the production quality might not be the best (there’s a theme song that’s, well, subpar), but the story it tells is intriguing. For a certain generation, like I mentioned above, this will be an adrenaline shot of nostalgia. Star Wars (A New Hope was added on in 1981 rerelease) opened up a whole world to young viewers, but when the toy line was introduced it allowed those children to live in that world and also expand on it.
Before Star Wars, there had never really been a successful toy tie-in to a movie. Lucasfilm, George Lucas’ production company, went around to toy companies trying to sell the license. Mattel and Hasbro both passed. That left a second-tier company in Cincinnati. Kenner, who had some success with making a toy for the show The Six Million Dollar Man, leaped at the opportunity. The designers were taken by the grungy, lived-in universe of the movie. At first, they planned to make puzzles based on the movie, but it became a summer blockbuster. Kenner was unprepared to release a line of action figures by Christmas so they created a redemption program called the “Early Bird Certificate Package,” where one could fill out a form to get the figures mailed to them.
The original prototypes were sculpted from old toys. There were some challenges along the way and mistakes made as the designers were going off photographs and set designs. Even the background characters, who maybe had five seconds of screen time, were made into toys. As the series and the toys grew in popularity, Lucasfilm would send props to the designers to help them fully capture the look and feel.
Kenner was also ahead of its time in selling the toys. On the cardbacks of the action figures there was a list of all the characters (that kept growing and growing) with a statement to “collect all,” and they used a program to mail order special figures. They also had stores create aisles specifically set aside just for the line-up. They also used commercials to create another world for the action figures to live in. This enabled Kenner and Lucasfilm to create a phenomenom that had never been seen before in the states and around the world.
The people telling this story are collectors, historians, and the designers. For the collectors, these toys tap into their nostalgia and sense of wonder they felt as kids. The designers talk about the attraction this project had to work in a world that wasn’t your typical shiny sci-fi properties. They were also given free range to create things as long as it stayed within the Star Wars universe. One designer even created a R2-D2 Choo Choo train by sticking several R2s together like a human centipede. This work environment, which sounds like the culture Pixar cultivates, was spearheaded by Bernie Loomis. His emphasis was creating something that had a high play level. That meant a toy that would keep the child involved.
As with anything that becomes popular, success from becoming the number one company for action figure toys began the sap the fun out of the workplace. After Return of the Jedi hit the theaters, the interest in the franchise began the wane. Kenner kept toy line alive for a few years afterwards, but they would eventually be bought out by Hasbro. It wouldn’t be until the mid-90s for new toys to hit the shelves, and interest was piqued by the rereleases of the original films and then the prequels.
Galaxy Dry Hopped Funk Yo Couch is an absolute joy of a beer. I don’t know if a properly conveyed how much I enjoyed it in my review. It’s definitely in my top three beers that I’ve reviewed here so far. This is a beer I could enjoy all year long. It’s light, extremely flavorful with the right amount of tartness, and delightfully refreshing beer. Unfortunately it is not a year round brew. So if it sounds like something of interest, find yourself a bottle or go check out the taproom.
In an odd sense, this beer also deals with nostalgia. Chappelle’s Show was a groundbreaking comedy that burned bright yet fast and brought laughter to many, the inspiration for beer’s name became part of the pop lexicon for a time because of Charlie Murphy’s (Eddie’s brother) retelling of his Hollywood tales. Funk Yo Couch was based on one of his Rick James stories. Charlie, who passed away in April, was a revelation for the audience, and his voice will be missed.
Watching Plastic Galaxy was a fun, short blast to past. I think most people can relate to the collectors in some sort of fashion. Maybe it seems silly to hold onto something from their childhood, like toys, but for them it brings back memories of being a kid and using their imagination to create something bigger. These are not collectors that are looking to profit off their collections. The Star Wars universe means a lot to them.
For the designers, it was really interesting to see that these people really cared about what they were making. The guy that designed the Ewok village playset actually made his prototype from twigs and stones that he found. Several of them stated that this time in their life was one of the most fulfilling moments in their career.