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January 7, 2013

angie_4A special message to my newest blog subscribers:

Most likely you subscribed to my blog last week after reading my post on WordPress’ Freshly Pressed page.  Welcome and thank you!  The following post is more reflective of the inane musings you’ll typically find here.  But while you’ll find little in the way of the soft-underbelly-exposing seriousness of my previous post, I do offer horribly awkward adolescent pictures that will make you weep with pity and numerous shameful tales of a pants-piddler gone bratty.  I hope you’ll stick around just the same.

Your friend in flashbacks,

Angie Z.


Holy Awkward School Photos Made Even More Awkward.  

I never knew love could feel like this.

And do I ever have a special treat for you today.

Well, hold on to your Members Only jackets, folks, because here it is:


Is this the work of Olan Mills, perchance?  If so, you broke the mold, my friend.  That’s right.  Broke it right over our heads.

It goes without saying that I owe the blogger Misty of Misty’s Laws a tremendous debt of gratitude for sending this my way.  (Check out her hilarious writing here — as if this link referral can even come close to repaying my debt.)

You’ll notice that Misty has shrewdly blurred her face to prevent anyone from recognizing her.


Although, perhaps you remember a girl who wore a lacy pink dress with a fake sewn-on pearl necklace, courtesy of the K-Mart Nellie Oleson Collection?  Chances are that girl was Misty.

Oh, but I digress.  And I blame the fake sewn-on necklace.

Now let’s get back to the important matter at hand here — the photo backdrop.


Halley’s Comet?  Get out of town!  No really.  My science teacher Mr. Scott said you can see comets better when you drive out of the city limits.

Who knew that ‘80s school photo backdrops could offer you anything more than soft swirling taupe?  (Exhibit A:)


Or the chance to appear awkward and abandoned in a remote wooded area?  (Exhibit B:)


Much, much later while in high school, we got a lot more options.  There was (A.) Swirly Red, (B.) Swirly Blue, and (C.) Swirly Taupe.  The answer is C, of course.  C, always answer C!

And speaking of C, I give Halley’s Comet Photo Backdrop a mere “C” for effort.  While it was certainly a brave attempt at pomp and circumstance, I had to detract points for its total lack of relevance.

Of course I remember being told in 1986 that Halley’s Comet was a Really Big Deal.  But the problem with declaring something as a Really Big Deal in the midst of the supposed Really Big Deal is you don’t always know if the proposed Really Big Deal will actually be remembered as a Really Big Deal after the Really Big Deal is over.

Yes, I’m sure we can all remember where we were when Halley’s Comet blew through the atmosphere.  Nope.  Beats the heck out of me.  I was probably playing Nintendo.

I have instead proposed a few other ‘80s commemorative backdrops that would’ve made for much better school photos.  Just imagine the grandeur of seeing these momentous occasions off-setting your acne.

(Option A.)  The 1982 Release of Michael Jackson’s Thriller Album commemorative photo.


Who doesn’t agree that the Thriller album was among the most significant musical contributions of the ’80s?  Who doesn’t agree that this video was groundbreaking?  Who doesn’t agree that a telescope would be really hard to photoshop out of this picture?

(Option B.)  The 1980 Who Shot J.R.?  Greatest TV Cliffhanger of All Time commemorative photo.


Who shot J.R.?  Misty did.  In the Conservatory.  With a telescope.

(Option C.)  The 1982 Release of Steven Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Summer Blockbuster commemorative photo.


The best part of this, Olan Mills?  You get to reuse the Halley’s Comet telescope prop.  Those props don’t come cheap you know.

(Option D.)  The 1987 Signing of the INF Treaty commemorative photo.


Mark my words, someday you’ll be asked this date in a trivia game.  Put it in a school photo and you’d remember it for a lifetime.  You’d remember it because it was the same year you wore that dress with the fake sewn-on necklace.

And, unlike Halley’s Comet, don’t expect to see that dress in another 76 years.

**Heartfelt thanks to Tony, my beloved brother the graphic designer, who helped make my Photoshop dreams a reality.**

101 Comments leave one →
  1. January 7, 2013 5:59 am

    Obviously I’m not one of those Johnnie-come-lately-Freshly-Pressed followers, but I still read the preamble, and I’m sooo glad that I did. “..pants-piddler gone bratty” may just be my new favorite thing ever written.

    • January 10, 2013 7:54 pm

      If you want to hit someone where it really smarts, call them a pants-piddler. It really gets to me anyway. Or maybe it only hurts when it’s true?

  2. January 7, 2013 6:11 am

    No doubt on Tony! I was about to comment something like “looks like you spent your holidays playing with photoshop…what’s next, an iPhone?” until I saw the disclaimer.

    I hope your break was tremendous. Love your awkward school photos, as I’m sure you already know. A truly difficult (and documented) time for fashion, glasses, and braces to all be worn simultaneously.

    • January 10, 2013 7:56 pm

      Shannon, Tony also did some excellent photoshop work a while back putting my head into John Cusack movie stills. It’s only with therapy that I’ve come to accept that this was photoshop work. As much as I want to believe John really does love me . . .

      Bad fashion, glasses, braces — we didn’t stand a chance, did we.

  3. January 7, 2013 6:14 am

    Apparently even my awkwardness has awkward moments…at first glance I thought the telescope prop was a Star Wars blaster, which would be one entire decade anachronistic to Halley’s comet; and, our school photos were back-dropped with your choice of blue curtains, gold curtains, or really horrible flat, fake bookshelves…no Olan Mills for this low-income family: you took the cheap package and you were satisfied, dang it!

    • January 7, 2013 6:51 am

      Star Wars blaster. Oh wow. Nicky, I like the way your mind works.

    • January 7, 2013 1:02 pm

      Don’t feel bad, Nicky. I thought the same thing about the blaster. Between the star background and the telescope/blaster, my initial thought was “Dang it! Why didn’t the Sears Portrait Studio in MY hometown have the Star Wars themed photo shoot?” I’d have been all over that!

      • January 10, 2013 7:58 pm

        I am now realizing what a geek I am — I never saw a Star Wars anything in the photo until I read these comments. If this is like the psychology ink blot exams, I wonder what that says about me.

  4. January 7, 2013 6:31 am

    In 76 years, that dress will be in a museum somewhere. My kids have been asking me lately if I’ll be around for the next Halley’s Comet. Gee, if not, I’d sure like to have this photo option.

    • January 7, 2013 6:49 am

      Karen, the last line of your comment could’ve been my whole post. Funny as hell you are.

  5. January 7, 2013 6:39 am

    I missed your Freshly Pressed. Congratulations! You followed it up quite nicely. This is such fun!

  6. January 7, 2013 6:47 am

    How the blazes did I miss your Freshly Pressage? I’m a terrible BBFF. Let’s get a picture of us behind the commerative Ralph Macchio Crane Pose background to make up for my suckiness.

    • January 10, 2013 8:05 pm

      I think Facebook needs a Freshly Pressed notification — that way we can keep tabs on all our friends’ birthdays, Pampered Chef home parties, FarmVille collections and blog accolades. I say, all things go through Facebook from here on out.

  7. January 7, 2013 6:56 am

    LMAO… until you SAID it was a telescope, I had no idea what that thing was… despite the Halley’s Comet backdrop. I guess I lack any sense of imagination whatsoever.

    Congrats on being FP’d.


    • January 10, 2013 8:06 pm

      Thank you for the congrats and thank you for confirming that I’m the only one around here who looked at the telescope and saw a telescope.

  8. January 7, 2013 7:04 am

    I do believe that is the best school portrait ever taken. It even beats out my ‘floating head above my own shoulder’ pic from sixth grade.

    And I’m sorry, but I can’t get past the telescope. I was laughing so hard the tears prevented me from reading most of your commentary. Must do a re-read now so I can really bask in your post some more.

    • January 7, 2013 7:06 am

      Oh and another HELLZ YEAH! for managing to be up on the FP page for an eternity this time around. (and for yet another serious post!)

      • January 10, 2013 8:08 pm

        They didn’t switch them much because of the holiday break. So I didn’t get the “bored at work” crowd reading my post. Oh well. I’ll take it.

    • January 10, 2013 8:07 pm

      Floating head picture from 6th grade, please.

  9. January 7, 2013 7:25 am

    For a minute there, I thought I was watching Woody Allen’s classic – “Zelig”. Or at least “Forest Gump.” It sent chills up my spine.

    Great post!

  10. January 7, 2013 7:30 am

    Congrats for being FP again! I noticed it my first day back from vacation, but I was too exhausted to comment then, though I did read your blog post. It was very touching and FP-worthy.

    As for this post, I wish any of my school portraits were as fantastic as that! Mine were all totally boring backgrounds. In later years, my sisters got to take ones where it looked like they were leaning on a tree. Very casual-like.

    • January 10, 2013 8:12 pm

      Thanks, Nicki.

      I’m reading comments here that are making me feel deprived of the shelf of books photo backdrop. As in, “Here I am after I read all these books.” I like the casual tree-leaning. Sounds earthy and organic.

  11. January 7, 2013 8:03 am

    Soooo funny! And can I say, that comet shot of Misty’s. I still say it looks like a light saber. :)

    • January 10, 2013 8:13 pm

      It’s a lightsaber about to sever Misty’s head in two! Thank goodness she has her trusted star blaster to defend herself.

  12. January 7, 2013 8:27 am

    Ok sis, so do I have to become your editor now? The telescope would’ve been used in the Observatory. Not the Conservatory. And only conservatives commit murder in the Conservatory. Sheesh. I should know. And as for the Photoshop work, you’re welcome. Now give me your first born. On second thought, I’ll take your second born because I need more boys in my household.

    • January 7, 2013 8:29 am

      Hey…I don’t remember an Observatory in Clue? Come to think of it though, I don’t remember a Misty in Clue either. Colonel Mustard it is then.

  13. January 7, 2013 8:30 am

    Wow, I dig that background. My favorite iconic 80s background is the one where they have the lasers shooting off all over the place behind you. I have to see if I can find one of those pictures. And I have a dress to rival Nellie’s there.

    • January 10, 2013 8:15 pm

      I sort of remember that laser one! Not at my school, oh no. Oh no, no, no, nooooo. But I think I read about laser photo backdrops in a book once.

      • January 10, 2013 8:40 pm

        I’m certain I have one somewhere. I just came upon one the other day from junior high, I think. There is splattered paint in the background.and I’m leaning on a ladder. Classy.

      • January 10, 2013 8:45 pm

        Paint splattered! Leaning against a ladder! This is fantastic. Do you remember how, back in the day, everything was paint splattered? It was the coolest trend in shabby chic decor. I remember in 1987ish, a new girls clothing boutique opened and everyone was impressed by the splattered paint on the floor. Then the customers all stood and listened as the owner described how she took three colors of tractor paint and flung her brush around. I think we all thought, “You mean, I could replicate this at home?” Sweet Jesus.

      • January 10, 2013 8:49 pm

        Haha! Yes. Also I am wearing a flowered dress with puffy sleeves (I bet there were shoulder pads!) and a ruffled skirt.

      • January 10, 2013 8:51 pm

        You just made the back of my head explode.

  14. January 7, 2013 8:31 am

    Oh Misty. Oh-hoh Misty. I should have KNOWN you were holding out on us. And I’ve never been more grateful for your brother, Nnng.

    I would stay to comment further, but I must get to sewing all my necklaces onto my clothes.

    • January 7, 2013 8:32 am

      You might note that you don’t have to sew on an entire necklace. Nope. Just do like Misty’s dress and sew on only the front loop. When people turn to watch you walk away and can’t find the back to the necklace, you’ll leave them guessing.

  15. January 7, 2013 9:22 am

    I too thought the telescope was from Star Wars. I always wanted a space backdrop on my photos, but that’s just me. Something that shouts Look, I got my pictures done on Mars! It was so nice to go visit my homeland…

    • January 10, 2013 8:16 pm

      That is a splendid idea. I love it. I would want to pose with an MTV flag that I’m about ready to spear into Mars, a la 1982.

  16. January 7, 2013 9:47 am

    Mine were so boring. Blue background. Or entire classes sitting awkwardly in front of the school. No commets, no excitement. I think it set up my life…

    • January 10, 2013 8:17 pm

      My daughter got a mere three solid colors to pick from for her school photo backdrop. So I think they’re getting back to basics now.

      • January 10, 2013 8:27 pm

        You mean my grand children will have comets?

      • January 10, 2013 8:30 pm

        If they’re lucky. What is 1986 + 76 years? Yeah, about then they’ll have a comet photo.

      • January 10, 2013 8:31 pm

        But they won’t have to do the addition. Thank god I didn’t either!

      • January 10, 2013 8:33 pm

        In the future, no kids will have to do math. That’s called evolution, my friend.

      • January 10, 2013 8:37 pm

        Oh. I thought evolution had to do with monkeys and courts. My bad.

      • January 10, 2013 8:38 pm

        Don’t forget the truth of that billboard.

      • January 10, 2013 8:39 pm

        You really don’t forget a thing, do you.

        Except of course that thing I saw you forget, which (rather conveniently) I now forget.

      • January 10, 2013 8:41 pm

        Yeah, what was that? I forgot something and we made a big deal about it. Wasn’t it a story about some political thing — and I screwed up a major detail and then had to start over? Too bad neither of us remember what I forgot.

      • January 10, 2013 8:42 pm

        Otherwise it might just get confusing.

  17. January 7, 2013 10:51 am

    My backdrop was a library shelf full of books – how boring. Perhaps if we would have spring for Olan Mills – the ET version is genius!

    • January 10, 2013 8:19 pm

      I can’t get over this library shelf full of books backdrop! You’re the second or third person to mention it. What a sham! It’s like the school saying, “Your child is here to get an education. Look — here are some books. Let’s pretend they read them.”

  18. January 7, 2013 11:20 am

    Well, you figured me out. I DID indeed shoot J.R. Sorry about that.

    The funny thing is that I had completely erradicated this picture from my memory (ok,I tried anyway), until my mom was going through some old stuff and brought it over to my house, thinking I might want it. Why yes, mom . . . incredibly awkward school photo? Of course I want that. It wasn’t bad enough that she forced me to get a perm at the age of 11. Or the horrible braces now documented in photographic evidence forever. Nor that she bought and made me wear a lacy pink poofy dress with big ass bow on the hip and faux pearl necklace. No, the worst is that she saved this monstrosity to unearth a billiion years later to show my husband and kids what an awkward young girl I was. Yeah, thanks a lot MOM.

    But yeah, really . . . my bad on that whole J.R. thing.

    • January 10, 2013 8:23 pm

      You shot J.R. and then bludgeoned Colonel Mustard with a telescope. How convenient that you forgot all about Colonel Mustard.

      This is so exciting that you popped in to give us a full recap on the story behind the photo! Inquiring minds mostly wanted to know about that dress.

  19. January 7, 2013 12:04 pm

    I think they did offer the ET one back in the day. I missed out. I also missed out on the fancy ones that put your face in four different places, as if each were an imaginary friend.

    • January 10, 2013 8:25 pm

      I think I posed against an E.T. backdrop in college — from that scene where he’s wearing that blue flannel shirt and nursing a nasty hangover. Good times.

  20. Mark permalink
    January 7, 2013 12:17 pm

    Unfortunately the time period in my life where these backgrounds were most prevalent (1984-1990) was also the time when I looked most like a Canadian Lesbian. Thus I destroyed most of the evidence to hide my male adolescent awkwardness.

    Too bad they didn’t have any Ottawa Logging Backgrounds and Chainsaw props…

    • January 10, 2013 8:26 pm

      Much like the Tootsie Pop’s secrets, the world will never know.

  21. January 7, 2013 12:32 pm

    Hey I had the Signing of the IMF Treaty backdrop – I thought I was special!

    Misty, that is the greatest, most specific photo backdrop I have ever seen, with or without sewn on pearls.

    And Ang, I missed your Freshly Pressed? I am so out of it. Belated congrats and happy new year!

    • January 10, 2013 8:28 pm

      I would’ve loved to pose with a backdrop of New Coke being loaded into trash dumpsters.

      But you didn’t miss my birthday, Peg — and thank you all the same!

  22. Emily permalink
    January 7, 2013 1:27 pm

    We never had a choice of backgrounds–it was swirly blue or nothing, except for my brother’s grade eight graduation photo, which had a pretentious background of fake books.

    • January 10, 2013 8:34 pm

      Fake books! That sounds even better than posing with one of those fake celebrity cardboard cut-outs. “Look Mom, I ran into some books here!”

  23. January 7, 2013 2:22 pm

    I would totally pay for that Thriller backdrop.
    I need to start sewing on my necklaces!

    • January 10, 2013 8:32 pm

      It really makes a lot of sense. How many times have you thought, if only this cumbersome necklace were fashioned more like a dickey collar?

  24. January 7, 2013 8:09 pm

    That telescope totally looks like a Star Wars weapon.

    • January 8, 2013 10:50 am

      That was my first thought, too. “Why is she posing with a blaster?”

      • January 10, 2013 8:36 pm

        It’s a little known fact that Halley’s Comet was about to destroy the universe — the blaster was our only defense. Too bad we didn’t have telescopes in ’86 or we could’ve watched it all play out.

    • January 10, 2013 8:35 pm

      Take that, Halley’s Comet!

  25. January 8, 2013 10:51 am

    I missed Halley’s Comet when it came. Couldn’t see it in town, was just waaaay too busy as an unemployed teenager to drive 10 miles out of town to see it. There was even an observatory about 30 minutes away. Teenagers are lame.

    • January 8, 2013 11:00 am

      What the heck is an observatory? For the record my “conservatory” comment was a reference to Clue. And now that I’ve learned about things called observatories I feel the need to edit my post or appear to be a dummy.

      Is an observatory where people go to watch laser light shows set to Rush music? And what’s a planetarium? And who are The Dutch?

    • January 9, 2013 8:47 am

      I bet you really regret that, Byronic Man. You should.

      • January 9, 2013 9:35 am

        I DO, as a matter of fact!

      • January 9, 2013 12:26 pm

        I don’t regret my teenage years so much, but college…there’s a source of REGRET. (Oh the fun I should have had and the things I should have learned.) And I regret most of my twenties (for the same reasons I regret college). So far, though, my thirties have been relatively regret-free. So I’m giving up on regret completely. I’m also giving up commenting about thought-provoking blog posts on the WRONG BLOG (sorry, Angie!).

        Angie, I had a sweater with a herring bone chain adorning it–shoulder to shoulder. I believe bows were involved as well. I don’t regret that fashion choice. I looked ALMOST as adorable as Misty when I wore it.

      • January 10, 2013 8:39 pm

        Wait, was the chain actually sewn on to your sweater?! I need to know this. For research purposes.

      • January 11, 2013 9:16 am

        Yes, Angie! Sewn on. From shoulder to shoulder, like sewed INTO THE SHOULDER PADS. And the chain had black bows on it. I had matching earrings.

      • January 11, 2013 9:43 am

        No, no, noooooo! I thought those things were just an urban legend.

      • January 11, 2013 10:15 am

        I really wish I could dig up a photo…

      • January 11, 2013 10:21 am

        Hi guys. Can I borrow a cup of coffee?

  26. January 9, 2013 3:51 am

    i love this post! hilarious

  27. January 9, 2013 7:45 am

    I have never prom posed with a telescope. And I’m feeling pretty sad about that.
    Also, I’d like to know if K-Mart still carries garments with sewn-on bejewelments. I take securing my plastic bling seriously.

    • January 10, 2013 8:50 pm

      I think K-Mart retired the sewn-on necklace dresses to make room for their new line of sewn-on tanktops. After that invention, never again did we have to layer two separate shirts on top of each other. Progress…

    • January 10, 2013 8:50 pm

      And thanks for reminding me of prom poses.

  28. January 9, 2013 12:03 pm

    Now I am so envious of the folks who actually got the insane backgrounds. The terrible highlight of my photos was strictly the visage! From chicken pox to sweaty hair after gym class…these are a few of my favorite things! LOVE the new backgrounds you’ve suggested here!

    • January 10, 2013 8:54 pm

      Andrea, I am with you on the boring photo backdrops. Where did all these schools with the funky photo backdrops exist? I feel like a pioneer kid now — we might as well have all lined up against our one-room school house 30 feet away from the camera, eyes all whited-out, one kid blurry, one kid partially disappearing from the film’s exposure.

  29. January 10, 2013 11:49 am

    Hysterical. Also I remembered I was in a car in North Carolina when Hayley’s Comet was whizzing by. I kept telling my friend…just stay on this road till I’m done watching it. He gave me the finger, lol.

    • January 10, 2013 8:56 pm

      You didn’t ask your friend to pull over? What if you got an actual photo with the real Halley’s Comet in the background? Then you could’ve one-upped our little Misty here.

      • January 11, 2013 11:28 am

        I didn’t get a picture with Haley’s Comet but I did get a picture with his pie-face shaped bride to be so that’s still kind of cool, lol.

  30. January 10, 2013 1:21 pm

    Oh I will have the Thriller backdrop. “Thriller” was, is and will always be the greatest thing ever to happen in the history of anything ever.

    • January 10, 2013 8:58 pm

      My brother could photoshop you into it so it appears that you actually emerged from a crypt right before doing jazz-hands with Michael. Something to think about when your birthday rolls around…

  31. January 10, 2013 8:00 pm

    You didn’t have a choice of the fake Harvard-style library or the multicolor strobe lights for your 80’s and 90’s backdrops?!!? A sheer travesty!!!!

    • January 10, 2013 9:01 pm

      You have no idea how much I missed out on. Fake Harvard-style library photo backdrops are really just the beginning. Did you hear the one about how my mom wrapped my sandwiches in waxed paper because she didn’t want to buy Ziploc bags? It’s a tear-jerker.

  32. January 10, 2013 8:01 pm

    To make matters worse, my mom would only buy school pics on the navy blue background because she thought the other ones were “too gimmicky.” So all my school pictures are boring and center around my jacked up ponytails and missing teeth. :P

    • January 10, 2013 9:03 pm

      Telescopes, library books and laser light shows — to off-set the photo’s subject. Who most likely has acne or braces or missing teeth. This is all making so much sense to me now. Olan Mills is a genius.

  33. January 10, 2013 9:04 pm

    At the end of your post there was a message from Connecticut Law Enforecement. I thought it was another background I could choose… and it would have been my first choice – but it was sadly just an ad.

    • January 10, 2013 9:06 pm

      Weird. My ads are getting stranger all the time. Right now I’m staring at one for a monthly pet gift club. Selling out means selling your soul.

  34. January 31, 2013 8:12 pm

    Oh, man, laughter deep from my gut when I finally realized that was a telescope and grins that I wasn’t the only one who saw a blaster. A great post and many thanks to Misty for her sacrifice for humor. :)

    • February 7, 2013 8:04 pm

      I’m starting to wonder by the comments here if it really was a blaster. Yeah, wasn’t Misty a great sport!?

  35. February 6, 2013 10:56 am

    Hilarious. I would have killed to pose with a gigantic telescope in a pink dress… not when I was in school, mind you, but now! (My 8-year old self was nowhere near savvy enough to appreciate the irony and the so-bad-it’s-good appeal of a photo like that. Nope. I was forever playing it safe with my swirly grey background.)

    PS: Your ads disturb me. We are in Arizona now for a 2-month getaway, and I find that they switched the ads from the college-themed ones (that I’d see in Canada) to Arizona-specific DUI warning ads. How do they know I’m here?? Thankfully, the ad men haven’t figured out yet that I don’t drink…. or drive… so I’m still safe for the time being. I think.

    • February 7, 2013 8:01 pm

      Give yourself some credit here — the swirly photo backgrounds were a huge step up from “trees in autumn.”

      The fact that my ads are stalking you makes me sad. But they pay me a little dough now and then so I guess I can live with their wickedness. I sell out easy.


  1. Misty’s Comet « Misty's Laws

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