Childhood · family · Modern Nostalgia

The New Trapper Keeper Game is a Nostalgic Trip Down Memory Lane

This year, my daughter started third grade. I’m unsure how this happened as I swear she just learned how to walk, but I digress…

Third grade is a big year at her school, because not only do third graders finally move upstairs with the big kids, they get their first lockers. What this meant was that she spent the better part of the last half of the summer deciding how she wanted to decorate her locker. She eagerly awaited back-to-school night with the enthusiasm of a kid on Christmas morning. And when that night finally came and I watched her unload a tote bag full of trinkets and decorations and pictures and magnets and a mirror into that sacred metal space, the one that had been assigned specifically to her, I couldn’t help but reflect on my own schoolhood days.

I wasn’t as lucky as my daughter when I was a third grader. There were no lockers for the grade school kids, which meant we were stuck lugging around our books and folders in our backpacks. When the school year rolled around, we weren’t assigned lockers, so we had to look forward to getting school supplies instead. New backpacks, pencil boxes, folders, pens and pencils fueled our enthusiasm for those Monday through Friday days.

I never longed for a locker of my own, mostly because I knew it wasn’t an option.

Instead, my childhood was mostly spent longing for the one school supply that everyone else other than me seemed to have:

A Trapper Keeper.

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Oh, long-lost Trapper Keeper of yesteryear, how I loved you. From your bright, 80s-inspired colors and graphics to your oddly sweet plasticy smell, you were a were a treasure. 

While I somehow managed to go through school without ever owning a Trapper Keeper, my nostalgia for them remains, even now, decades later.

So when I was presented with the opportunity to check out the new Trapper Keeper Game from Big G Creative, you better believe the little girl inside me raised her hand and waved it around as excitedly as I used to when I wanted to be picked for Heads Up 7 Up.

The packaging alone for the Trapper Keeper Game is enough to send any 80s or 90s child into nostalgia-laced trip down memory lane. An adorable, miniature-sized Trapper Keeper holds all the game pieces, which includes Trapper Keeper folders and a variety of cards you collect during the game. The homework, quizzes, signatures, report cards, notes from classmates, and field trip slips will make you feel like you’re right back in school, waiting for the bell ring for lunch. 

You score points by stashing these cards in your carefully selected (no fighting or you’ll get sent to the Principal’s office…) Trapper Keeper folder. Your overall total points will increase based on how many doodles you collect, too, so be sure to pay attention in class! At the end of the “school day”, the player with the most points wins the game!

The Trapper Keeper Game is actually a simple game, although it doesn’t appear that way the first time you read the instructions and play it. I think it was because it wasn’t quite clear at first what the “game” was beyond collecting cards and totaling up the points. When we were first reading the rather lengthy instructions, we felt there were too many things to do, too many types of cards, too many ways to get points, and the strategy behind it was not that apparent. 

But there actually is some fun strategy involved in deciding what cards to take, what “doodles” to collect, and where to put them in your Trapper Keeper folder. (There are a few YouTube videos you can watch that I think better explain the game play than the written instructions do).  

After playing one round, we understood the strategy, the game got easier, and we got into a groove with the rules and strategies for getting a good score. It seems appropriate for a game with its roots in school, where the same rules generally apply: once you get the hang of things, it’s so much better.

Even though my daughter has never seen a real Trapper Keeper, she thought this game was pretty awesome. Turns out you don’t need to have lived in the 80s or 90s to appreciate the fun products those years are famous for.

Keeping score.

Overall assessment: The quality and design of the Trapper Keeper Game is very good and certainly nostalgic. The instructions are detailed (7 pages), but one thing that seems to be missing is a clear and simple statement about the object of the game. The game is indeed simple to play, but it seems like you need to play it once to really understand how to play it. We actually discussed the game structure and thought this might actually be a better game if it were developed as a board game, along the lines of The Game of Life. For what it is though, it’s a pretty fun game.

So for some old-school fun, pick up the Trapper Keeper Game, play a few rounds, and stash away some new memories courtesy of an old favorite. (Ages 8+)

Childhood · family · Modern Nostalgia · Nostalgia · Parenting · Stories

Why I’m Not Letting this Late Summer Get the Better of Me

I’m struggling with summer this year.

We’re 21 days into June, and it still doesn’t feel like this season has really started yet.

Every afternoon, a smattering of raindrops streams down my window, and I feel my dreams for a magical summer sliding down beside them. As I sit inside at work, watching these rivers snake their way across the glass, I wonder why my stress levels are rising like the puddles I step into on a regular occurrence these days.

Maybe I’m just a little nostalgic for the way summers once were—for the way I remember them.

When I didn’t wake up before sunrise and crash on the couch at an embarrassingly early hour. When the lights from the lampposts were my nightly reminder to go inside and sprinklers solely existed to be run through instead of simply watering the lawn I need to regularly weed. When lightning bugs lit up mason jars and cloud gazing seemed like a perfectly acceptable way to spend the day.

When everything was magical and happy and, most of all, easy.

But I’m determined not to let this late-blooming summer get the better of me.

Earlier this week, on our way home, my daughter and I decided to ruin our dinner and stopped to get ice cream.

We sat outside on a patio and let the afternoon’s post-storm, humid air create sweat lines down our backs. We brushed our hair off our damp foreheads and dipped our spoons into our cold treats, savoring their sweetness. Later, we ate salad on the couch while we watched a silly show, and then I gave my daughter a little pedicure in the prettiest shade we could find.

As I painted her toenails, I looked up, wondering what Zoey might remember about her summers as a child.

Fortunately – or maybe unfortunately I guess – Zoey doesn’t have summers like I once did. She goes off to summer school as I go to work, and her real summertime exists in the evening hours and on the weekends.

But as we sat there together, me worried if I was really doing everything I could to make this summer one to remember, I watched a smile tug at the corners of her lips. I listened as her giggles filled the space between us. And I felt a familiar feeling bubble up inside me.

It felt easy.

I hope Zoey remembers that night. When mango gelato dripped from her chin as a rainbow appeared above us and the sun began its evening descent. When my fingers tickled her tiny toes as I painted them turquoise blue, the exact same shade of her nightgown. When she curled herself up against me as the ceiling fan whirred above us and the eager crickets chirped outside her window.

I hope she remembers her last words before sleep took her away that night.

“This was the best day of summer ever.”

Even if she doesn’t remember those words, I will.

I will carry her words with me whenever I’m feeling guilty that maybe summers now will never be what I remember. For not being able to give her a summer like those I remember.

Because other than being technical term for this season, what really is summer?

It’s a feeling—one I’m determined to create, for both her and for me, one ruined dinner at a time.

Modern Nostalgia · Music Monday · Nostalgia

Nostalgia Overload | The Midnight Concert at The Bluebird Theater, Denver

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We first posted about the awesome synthwave band, The Midnight, in our post, 21 New Songs That Totally Sound Like They’re From the 1980’s. We shared “Sunset—the band’s tribute to anyone wanting to break free from the shackles of their home town and leave with their love, never to look back.

The music is pure synthesizer-infused 80’s nostalgia—you wouldn’t guess that it was released in 2016. But its retro layered synthesizers and chorus-laden guitars atop electronic drums will take you back to a simpler, less polarized world. The music is happy, hopeful, and honest (despite being an illusory trip back to the 80’s).

The band, formed by singer-songwriter Tyler Lyle and Danish-born producer Tim McEwan, is now a handful of shows into the North American leg of its tour.  The Midnight is supporting the release of its new album, Kids, which should not disappoint fans of this band and the synthwave genre. Although a few have lamented in various Instagram comments about the lack of saxophone and the shorter length of the album, as well as lodged other complaints, one Instagram fan, cyber.soho, disagreed:

“In my opinion this hit the mark with the concept of being a kid, hanging out in the mall, all riding bikes to your friend’s house . . .”

The band itself responded: “themidnightofficial @cyber.soho you get it.”

For those fans who are sad about the lack of saxophone on the Kids album, I recommend you buy tickets to the band’s next show (if you can get them—their shows are sold out you’ll likely have to go the secondary market route). You will hear some of the best 80’s-inspired saxophone—and a lot of it.

The Midnight Concert | The Bluebird Theater, Denver, Colorado

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The Midnight played to a sold-out crowd at the historical Denver venue, The Bluebird Theater, on September 22, and by all accounts, they did not disappoint.
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Opening the concert with “Youth”, the intro track on the Kids album, led—as it does on the album—right into “Wave”, a nostalgically-melodic tune that highlights Tyler Lyles’ easy, accessible vocals (with the ironically non-nostalgic line, “We are not a sentimental age.”)  The capacity crowd cheered them into their next song, “Lost Boy”, one of their current singles—an airy 80’s ballad that will definitely take you to that heart-pounding love you felt when you looked into the eyes of your crush.

Ahh, youth.

Honestly, there is something so familiar about this music, especially, perhaps, for those of us who grew up in the 80’s. The Midnight’s melodies and moods, with Tim McEwan‘s production talents, embrace you in a comfortable connection to your past.

Yes, please.

Tyler and the band then took it back to their early beginnings with the driving beats of “Gloria”, with its crowd-pleasing—and singable—chorus:

Oh, Gloria
I feel so much better
I feel so much better today
And it’s not the drugs
And it’s not the weather
I just feel so much better today

The similarly energetic title track of its 2014 debut EP—Days of Thunder—kept the crowd moving. An unexpected highlight followed as the band began playing the Don Henley hit, “Boys of Summer”, garnering cheers, whoops, and whistles. And of course, everyone in The Bluebird knew the lyrics. The Midnight did an admirable job on this classic cover, and it was the perfect selection to accompany the band’s sound.

They then moved through a series of crowd-pleasing songs from their earlier albums, the instrumental sounds of “Nocturnal”/“Collateral”, the pulsating “Shadows”, moody “Crystalline”, feel-good (and one of my favorites) “The Comeback Kid”, and city-gritty “Vampires”.

Lots of saxophone solos.

Lots of 80’s feels.

Back to the Kids album, the band played “America 2”, a song with an uber-nostalgic sound. Tyler Lyle has one of those voices that makes you feel like you’ve heard it a long time ago. He sounds a lot like Sam Bentley from The Paper Kites—especially his vocals on the twelvefour album. I think both Sam and Tyler would take that as a compliment.

The Midnight ended its set with “Los Angeles”, another supremely nostalgia-driven song from its Days of Thunder album. It’s the band’s “love letter” anthem to living in L.A.:

Flickers of the canyon fire
Its hands raised like a gospel choir
If we live forever, let us live forever tonight

Helicopters against moonlight
Our holy mother of the midnight
And if we live forever, let us live forever tonight

It was a perfect “ending,” with The Bluebird crowd singing along, who—as you might have guessed—went wild as the band left the stage. Five-hundred plus people can make a lot of noise when they want more music, and the band was soon back on stage to preform their expected encore, starting with “Lost and Found”, the official remix of Lost & Found from Tyler Lyle’s album The Native Genius of Desert Plants.

The Midnight knows how to please its fans from beginning to end, and of course, ended the show with “Sunset” (as you can see, the music inspires a plethora of fan-made videos featuring 80’s movies). Anyone who grew up in the 80’s—or anyone who loves 80’s music and movies—cannot help but be drawn into that song’s buoyant expression of hopefulness. Watching The Midnight perform, it was clear they love what they do, they love their music, they love the 80’s, they love their fans, and they understand the power of nostalgia.

So when the last notes of “Sunset” faded and the house lights came up, I was saddened there wasn’t just one more song. One more song to keep us there for another four or five minutes. One more song to keep us all suspended in an alternate world of optimism, togetherness, and positivity.

Because unless you are living under a rock, the “real world” seems to be sorely lacking in all of those things. The Midnight fans standing shoulder-to-shoulder in The Bluebird on September 22 were lucky enough to witness a transformative concert and remove themselves from the real world for a couple hours. They were there together, each one optimistic and positive, and each one celebrating the past to make better days today.

We here at The Nostalgia Diaries are still applauding.


Do you like new songs that sound old? Check out our 19 New Songs That Sound Vintage and Sounds Old to Me: 19 More New Songs with a Vintage, Throwback Vibe

steveSteve is a lawyer, writer, and the lucky father of three amazing boys. Here at The Nostalgia Diaries, his goal is to help readers focus on the important things, and wants everyone to celebrate the past to create better days today.


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Modern Nostalgia · Nostalgia · Quotes · Stories

Leaving a Legacy: How Will You Be Remembered?

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“Zoey!” I call out, the impatience apparent in my voice. I glance at my watch as I place her lunchbox in her backpack.

7:32 a.m. Five minutes until we need to leave.

She’s supposed to be brushing her teeth, but instead of running water and toothbrush scrubbing, the only sound I hear coming from the bathroom is her sweet chattering. Zoey’s been talking to herself since she first learned to speak; how comforting it must be, I think, to always have someone to talk to, who you can always count on to listen. If it was the weekend, I would have just smiled to myself and let her carry on her conversation, but alas, it’s a school day.

The first bell will ring in 13 minutes.

Continue reading “Leaving a Legacy: How Will You Be Remembered?”

Modern Nostalgia · Music Monday · Nostalgia

Music Monday: 5 Nostalgic Songs x 3 Timeless Versions = 15 Picture-Perfect Holiday Tunes

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Seems like every artist wants to put out a Christmas album some time during their career and inevitably, they fall back on doing a few of the “classics.” Some provide safe, traditional renditions of each song, staying faithful to the composer’s vision. Others change it up a bit, looking to bring new feelings or flavors to the mix.

From a nostalgic point of view, there are so many songs that give rise to warm, positive feelings during the Christmas season that it’s hard to narrow them down.  But we think we’ve found a few fabulous holiday songs for your listening pleasure.

Continue reading “Music Monday: 5 Nostalgic Songs x 3 Timeless Versions = 15 Picture-Perfect Holiday Tunes”