Thursday, December 27, 2012

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

ThinkGeek Blowout Sale

Happy Boxing Day everyone! Every so often, people stop and ask me where I get all of my gnarly retro and non-retro geek gear (total lie). While there are a number of places online where you can get your geek on quite successfully, no other single outlet seems to be able to match the sheer vastness of the inventories. And with Christmas having just passed us, now's the time to take advantage of some fantastic deals at this legendary cyber-store with up to 75% off anything geeky, which is everything they sell. "Be more specific!" shout the masses. Well here's a (very) partial list of some of the goodies currently on sale at ThinkGeek:

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry BetamaXmas!

Well it's almost Christmas kids, and a long-standing tradition of mine, after having my cocoa and counting my presents, is to relax in my fake-wood-paneled basement and enjoy some classic retro TV Christmas specials in glorious 480i resolution whilst eating Twinkees. No, no, I don't have a time machine, well I'm sort of working on one, but it's years from completion and I still don't know where I'm going to find a high enough grade of plutonium for since I DO NOT HAVE A TIME MACHINE I just plop down in front of my home computer, log onto the information super-highway, fire up Netscape and visit Complete with a ratty but comfortable couch, and what I'm pretty sure is a Bo Derek poster on the wall, BetamaXmas serves up past-time holiday goodies and retro commercials in a totally rad 80s style, complete with a VCR which perpetually flashes 12:00 a.m. There's even a TV Guide and channel changer available if you feel like surfing and make sure you adjust the antennas on top of the TV to ensure the best possible reception.  And in case you're wondering, that's Ethel Merman in the screenshot singing "The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow" on an old Sesame Street Christmas special. Crazy. MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!

Friday, December 21, 2012

It's the End of the World As We Know It...Not.

Well today is December 21st and I guess the world was supposed to end. Billions of deaths, mass hysteria, the fall of man and his stupendous civilization...interesting, I suppose...I guess I liked it better the first time it happened when it was called Y2K. Now, I'm off to troll the 2012 doomsday sites - see you guys in 4 to 5 billion years when the sun runs out of gas!

(Sorry, I couldn't find any funny end of the world videos, but to be honest I didn't try that hard)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

gAtari Hero

Here at Retrogeeker we believe that the future is the past, and if anything proves this half-baked statement true, it's the way all of these young-uns are suddenly embracing and fulfilling the previously unfulfilled promise of 8-bit music's awesome potential. So without a lot of hubub, I give you the gAtari 2600...

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Not all fun and games: Inside a Ms. Pac-Man factory

Imagine a dystopian universe in which all the world's industrial assembly robots have been replaced by clumsy people. Horrific image, right?

Now imagine that the world's consumer electronics assembly plants (staffed with the aforementioned fleshy, human laborers) have been moved overseas, and relocated in the United States of America. It's not a futurist nightmare, it's the past bitch!

Spend 4½ minutes on the Ms. Pac Man assembly line in this newly-digitized raw news footage from the Bally/Midway plant in Chicago, 1982.

At Retrogeeker, we know retro.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

First Peek at Star Trek 12

With the massive success of the first outside-produced Star Trek film in 2009, Paramount has finally got a Star Wars-type property on their hands and far be it from the bean counters to stop a charging juggernaut while it's dropping bags of gold out of it's butt. Hence, here comes Trek outing # 12 titled: STAR TREK: Into Darkness, because nothing's worth watching anymore unless it's sufficiently dark. Coming to theaters in May of 2013, here is the first peek at the next J.J Abrams-directed adventure featuring Kirk and company. Personally I thought the new movie should be titled "Star Trek 90210" but I think I'm just being bitter about Vulcan blowing up in that last flick. Enjoy.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Lost Formats Preservation Society

Since the dawn of history, not to be confused with the dawn of time, but the time at which humans first began to record their exploits and discoveries, the struggle for new and better mediums on which to store our intangible intellectual properties has been ongoing and unrelenting. While the uncovering of ancient ruins has proved that pictures and words chiseled directly into rock most definitely stand the test of time, it doesn't take a rocket-dentist to reveal the staggering un-portability that plagues of this sort of information technology. Thanks to the intelligence fostered by the development of opposable thumbs, it only took us 6,000 years or so to reach a time where our mastery of modern manufacturing and adeptness at electrical alchemy have advanced us to the point where we can now tuck several full-length novels, or movies or even a lifetime's worth of photographs, right into our pockets. But the path toward easily manageable mass storage is littered with the remnants of past attempts and while we have all begun to move on to this damned new-fangled cloud, it is imperative that we the retrogeeks maintain, for posterity's sake, the grand and sometimes awkward history of portable storage. With that I give you the Lost Formats Preservation Society.


Friday, November 2, 2012

21st Century Kids VS. 1980s Technology

I love kids. I have two of my own, and I am always amazed by the way they take to technology with such an unabashed sense of fearlessness (as opposed to my dad who is still afraid to click anything on his computer that doesn't say AOL). Of course, kids don't have to pay for the stuff when it breaks so maybe that's why they aren't as concerned about apple juice on the keyboard as I am. But sometimes I wonder if maybe they're not as smart as we parents think they are; maybe technology has just gotten so ridiculously easy to use that we mistake our little Frankensteins for little Einsteins when they suddenly figure out what the home button on our phones do. So with that, I present to you a fun little video that pits state-of-the-art 21st century children against some good old-fashioned 1980s entertainment technology. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

William & Theodore's Rather Tepid Outing

Over the past couple of years there's been talk here and there on the cyberweb regarding a potential second sequel to the film that introduced the world to those goofy 80s zonk-heads, William S. Preston Esquire & Ted "Theodore" Logan, of the band that was meant to save humanity from itself, Wyld Stallyns! (I believe that the exclamation point is actually part of their name). So with Keanu "I know Kung-Fu" Reeves spouting his ridiculously wishful director's choices off to the press, including such heavyweights as Scorcese and Coppola, while making vague statements suggesting that the lukewarmly-anticipated threequel is already in the can (and I mean film can, not toilet) one has to wonder what Alex Winter, the other half of the questionably-talented but totally loveable dumbass duo has to say about it. Well after nearly two years of dead silence about the project from everyone who could possibly be involved, Alex has let it slip to the mass media that the script is complete, Dean Parisot, of Galaxy Quest fame, is attached to direct and both he and Reeves are on board to help propel the next chapter of the franchise forward. I just hope it's better than that godawful after-school cartoon or the even-more-painfully-bad live action TV show that the networks tried to sneak past us. Who knows, since Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon, the writers of the original film, are involved it may actually be a nostalgically fun flick.

Friday, October 19, 2012

"8-Bitty" Bluetooth Gamepad, in case you didn't already know, rules. Besides the fact that they have a gazillion different tech/geek/nerd items available to the savvy spaz for purchase, most of their products won't break the bank, wilt your wallet or chomp your change like some other gadgety stores (cough, cough - Brookstone and Sharper Image). Plus they looove retro stuff like this super-awesome Bluetooth-enabled Nintendo-styled gamepad for your iPhone, iPad, iPod or Android device.

Dig it:
  • Classic retro-styled game controller fits in your pocket and works with iPhone & iPad
  • 8 button control including 4 face buttons, select, start, and two shoulder buttons... plus the D-Pad for movement
  • Wireless Bluetooth® connection with auto power save mode
  • Mini version of larger size iCade cabinet invented and designed by ThinkGeek
  • Fully compatible with all iCade games
  • Completely open development platform. App developers can add support for iCade with no permission needed from Apple or ThinkGeek. (See links for code examples below).
  • "Atari Greatest Hits" iPad App ready to go with the iCADE, including support for over 100 classic Atari games.
  • Atari App comes with Missile Command for free, other games available for in-app purchase. 3-game packs are $1. All 100 games are $14.99
  • Compatible with iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. Android support for most tablets and smartphones.
  • NOTE: Atari Greatest Hits only runs on iPad, not on iPhone or iPod touch.
  • Requires 2 x AAA batteries (not included)

Bonus Video: iCade 8-Bitty demo in FULL COLOR!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The City I Live In, the City of Shuttles

Proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that being a photographer is way more fun than either graphic design or blogging, the Atlantic has posted several photos of the space shuttle Endeavor being carted through Los Angeles, scumball capital of the universe.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Leisure Suit Larry Reloaded

One of the most popular computer game series of the 80s and 90s, the tongue-in-cheek (or hand-in-pocket) humor of Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards was a hit with juveniles of all ages. The game began its life as a basic text adventure for the Apple II called "Softporn Adventure" released by Sierra Online in 1981. Digital titillation being a rather new form of entertainment in the early 80s, the game was, of course, a huge success, prompting Sierra to task now-legendary programmer Al Lowe with the honor of rewriting the game to utilize a graphics engine (read: digital boobs). The result of Al's hard work was perhaps greater than the sum as the oddly endearing protagonist of the game, Larry Laffer, or as he is better known, Leisure Suit Larry, unexpectedly became a very marketable property. Five sequels (some say six) and millions of 5.25 inch floppies later the original series finally came to an end in 1996. After many years of dormancy, several questionable Larry adventures eventually appeared on Xbox and Playstation but they lacked involvement from the original creators and dropped most of the naughty-but-not-dirty humor of the classic series by replacing any potential instances of "clever" with "cleavage." Good eye-candy, to be sure, but weak gameplay. As one would expect, these titles sold poorly (they wouldn't even take my copy of Magna Cum Laude at Game Xchange, true story) which sadly brought the entire franchise to a screeching halt. Boo. But here's the part where the little indie developer swoops in to save the day. From Wikipedia:
  • In June 2011, Replay Games announced on their blog that they had acquired a license for the Leisure Suit Larry series. Replay Games plans to re-release the titles it has licensed for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, XBLA, PSN, On-Live, and Steam. It is also announced that Al Lowe will be involved with the development of the new releases.
And then:
  • In April 2012, Replay Games initiated the Kickstarter project Make Leisure Suit Larry come again! which finished funding on May 2, 2012 and secured a total of $674,598 ($655,182 via Kickstarter and $19,416 via Paypal) in funding compared to the $500,000 that was asked for. The "HD" Version of the game has a completion date of October 2012 listed, but it might be delayed to December 2012 or early 2013 since hitting the $650,000 mark. The $650,000 mark will add more story, dialogues and one more character.
Yup, they even got old Al Lowe to come back. Click on the links below. You know you want to.


Bonus Video: Al Lowe talks about the rebirth of Leisure Suit Larry

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ye Olde Candies

Sorry we haven't had too many posts lately but my SyQuest drive crashed last week and all of my WordPerfect blog templates were lost. I'll have to fire up my phone list in Lotus 1-2-3 and lookup the support number for my Packard-Bell because I think the problem was caused by a faulty parallel port. Man, I should have stuck with that SCSI Zip drive instead. But until I get all that sorted out, look at this: RETRO CANDY! Yes chubby 40 year-olds everywhere can rejoice because you can now get all of your favorite sugar bombs from days gone past on one awesome website! Well not actually from days gone past. For example, a surviving Marathon bar would nigh be inedible at this point seeing as they were discontinued in 1981, but Old Time Candy sells the same product on their site, although it's actually shipped in from merry ol' England, where they still exist as the Curly Wurly. Other hard-to-find favorites featured on the site include Big League Chew, Flipsticks and those nasty little button candies that you could never get off of that damned strip of paper but you ate them anyway.


Bonus Video: 1975 Marathon Candy Bar Commercial

Thursday, October 4, 2012

"I'm the Weeener" Says Mario

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. This great nation of ours is in peril. Not only is it in peril but it's teetering on the very brink, as well. In fact, you could probably say that it's right there on the verge of teetering on the brink all the while that it's in peril as well, too. And while you, the people of this great nation, look forward to that Tuesday after the first Monday of November to cast your ballot for the Presidential nominee hopefully best-equipped to pull us back from the edge of the verge that we're on, you know, with the brink and all, are bewildered by the myriad of choices with which you, the people, have been presented. Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Progressive Socialists, Neo-Fascists and of course, the Silly Party, are all begging for your votes. Well actually they're begging that 11 percent of undecideds for their votes and really don't give a crap about the rest of you, or anyone who lives in Puerto Rico, but still, not one of these would-be potential future presidents-in-waiting has shown you - you, the people of this great nation, the voters, the taxpayers, the workers and business-owners, and you, the great people of this great, great nation, just what a true American president should be, what a great American leader is truly made of and what you, this amazingly great nation of truly great people truly desire: an Italian plumber. Truly.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Ataris Ain't Cheap!

We all know that the cost of technology generally drops as it becomes cheaper and easier to produce, but the effect on the real world isn't always that visible to us lowly consumers. Luckily this infographic by artist Delano Taylor illustrates just how dramatic that effect can be.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Happy Birthday, Chris!

The whole geek-community is going on and on about today being the birthday of one of science-fiction/fantasy's most celebrated actors, Mark Hamill, better known of course as Luke Skywalker. And that's great, we love Jedi Masters here at RetroGecko, but let's not forget the other science-fiction/fantasy actor who was also born on September 25th, 60 years ago today. His name is Christopher Reeve and he is perhaps best remembered for his iconic portrayal of the kind-hearted alien from Krypton who liked to hang out in phone booths, Superman (aka Kal-El). Up until 1978, ol' Supes had only appeared in comics, radio and TV, aside from a one-off feature flick titled, Superman and the Molemen (1951), starring the previous hero-in-blue, George Reeves (no relation). So when the then-unknown Christopher Reeve was cast as the lead in the first big-budget, summer blockbuster-style telling of the strange kid from Smallville, there was some doubt as to whether or not this relative nobody could successfully uphold the legacy of such an important fictional character. Well, the movie turned out to be an enormous hit and three sequels later there was no question that in the minds of the American public, Christopher Reeve was Superman. In 1995, long after hanging up his red cape, Chris was tragically injured in a freak equestrian mishap. Thrown from his horse during a jump, Reeve suffered spinal damage that left him paralyzed from the neck down for the remainder of his life, until his death in 2004 of cardiac arrest, thought to have been caused by an adverse reaction to an antibiotic. But before his passing, Chris put up one hell of a fight, becoming an international political activist and helping bring awareness to the benefits of stem-cell research, which he believed to hold the key to his eventual recovery. So if you have a few minutes to spare today, check out this interview from 1987 featuring a young Christopher Reeve discussing the Superman movies, film critics, his role in Hollywood as an action hero, and much more - it's worth checking out.  So happy 60th birthday, Chris. As far as I'm concerned, you're still the 'man.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Mr. Wizard's a D*ck

Before there was Bill Nye, the world of educational television programming had Mr. Wizard, a grumpity old codger named Don Herbert who taught us wee lads and lasses how to amaze our friends with nifty science experiments that we could, mostly, even do at home, mostly. Kids everywhere loved Mr. Wizard, especially the nerdy ones like me, but ol' Don always seemed to come off as someone who didn't really like children but was forced to work with them anyway (sort of like the IT guys at your office). Have a look at this video by YouTuber, Mike Schuster, and you'll see what I mean.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Diving demons can easily be dodged by moving away from their center of gravity and they will pass harmlessly off screen

...however, it's bad form to let this happen...

Got 1 hour?
That's all you need
to get up to speed
on the hottest new games!

(of 1982.)

Hold onto your joystick; we've got a lot to tell you.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Geek Screen Gems: Wet Hot American Summer

More of a satire on 1980s summer-camp movies than a parody, Wet Hot American Summer was released in 2001 to hardly anyone, and for good reason. The producers of this hilarious take on Meatballs, and other similar teen films, are all alumni of the love-them-or-loathe-them comedy troupe, The State, who enjoyed a shaky three-year run on MTV, making their mark during the brief revival of sketch comedy in the 1990s, which included acts like the Upright Citizens Brigade, Mr. Show and Canadian comedy prodigies, The Kids in the Hall. Although widely panned by critics and audiences alike and grossing less than $300,000, Wet Hot American Summer's absurdist take on the whole National Lampoon genre is worth a second look for its twisted and bizzare gags, ridiculous premises and over-the-top characters all of which have helped this movie reach a comfortable cult-status on the home video market. Of course it didn't hurt to have a host of fantastic cast members on hand, many of which were relatively unknown at the time the film premiered such as Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Amy Poheler, Bradley Cooper and Judah Friedlander. Add a few established talents of the period, in this case Janeane Garofalo, Molly Shannon and David Hyde Pierce, and throw in a cameo performance by H. Jon Benjamin as a can of vegetables and you basically have a guaranteed hit. Except it wasn't.  So if you loved those cheesy 80s summer movies or just have fond memories of your own camp experiences, head on down to the video rental store and pick up a copy of Wet Hot American Summer (available on VHS and Beta) tonight!

My favorite scene.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Hitler dead

Saturday, November 15, 2104

At 14:52:28, FreedomFighter69 wrote:
Reporting my first temporal excursion since joining IATT: have just returned from 1936 Berlin, having taken the place of one of Leni Riefenstahl’s cameramen and assassinated Adolf Hitler during the opening of the Olympic Games. Let a free world rejoice! ~~Wikihistory, pg. 263

Friday, September 14, 2012

It's Floppy and Sticky

Why does the save button in MS Word still look like a floppy disk? Because floppies are cool, that's why! Just like these floppy-disk-styled sticky notes (not Post-it® Notes) from ThinkGeek. Fool your friends! Break the ice at parties! Be the center of attention at all costs! Order now, operators are freaking out!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Oh No! Not More Lemmings!

Nope it's not Lemmings, just an incredible simulation. It's called Caveman and if you ever got sucked into a three-hour game of Lemmings then this app is for you. Released all the way back in 1991 by British developer Psygnosis for the Commodore Amiga, Lemmings was a puzzle game in which you guided a herd of lemmings (although they looked more like Fraggles to me) across a treacherous path littered with traps and pitfalls with the ultimate goal of reaching an exit portal, which would invariably lead to another, more difficult level. The catch was, however, that the lemmings never stopped moving and would simply fall off of a cliff or walk into a spinning fan if someone didn't tell them otherwise, which is where the player comes in, assigning specific tasks to individual lemmings to help them overcome any obstacles or dangers that might otherwise get in their way. You could pause the game and plan your strategy, but assigning tasks was all done on the fly and since there was a time limit of just a few minutes, the game could get pretty intense as your cursor flew all over the screen trying to block one group of lemmings from strolling into a fire-pit while simultaneously keeping a builder-lemming busy constructing bridges over a chasm. The game itself was hugely popular and spawned several sequels and conversions for other systems up until about 2000 when the party stopped. Since then gamers have either had to make do with limited-release ports such as the one made for the PSP in 2006 or indie clones such as the excellent Pingus, which runs on Mac, Linux and Windows.

So in early 2010, when a little-known group called mobile1up took it upon themselves to bring Lemmings to the contemporary world of mobile gaming, I about pissed my pants with excitement. Working from a port of the original game that was made for the PalmOS (remember PalmPilots?) the folks at mobile1up managed to strip away the hacks and additions that had been bolted on to make the game work with Palm's unique idiosyncrasies resulting in a pixel-perfect rendition of the game while retaining most of the original source code. Development of the game was tracked on mobile1up's development blog with regular updates until June of 2010 when Sony, who somehow managed to pick up the property after the dissolution of Psygnosis, sent them a cease and desist effectively throwing all of their hard work into the trash. So in a big FU to the man, mobile1up released it anyway, but with all new graphics, sounds and a caveman theme, and it became an underground hit. Sorry, Sony, you had your chance. Caveman plays and feels almost exactly like Lemmings and features all of the same levels and even the same animations as its counterpart and is available for a multitude of platforms:

  • iPhone / iPod Touch / iPad 
  • Palm Pre / Pre 2 running WebOS 1.4.5 or later 
  • TouchPad running WebOS 3.0.0 or later 
  • BlackBerry PlayBook 2.0.1 or later 
  • Mac OSX 10.4 or later (PowerPC and Intel)
Windows and Linux versions are currently in the works. I don't think there's an Android version yet, but you Android folks are used to not having any apps anyway, right? (just kidding, gawd!)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Monday, September 10, 2012

Beam Me Up, Portland!

Leave it to Portland, Oregon to keep feeding us white, geeky, hipster news. The land espoused by SNL alum, Fred Armisen, to be the place where "the 90s never died" and "the tattoo ink never runs dry," has dipped a little further back into pop-culture's history to bring us a new summer pastime: Trek in the Park. Check out the video below - my apologies for the ad - for a glimpse of the Oregonian brother-sister duo, Adam and Amy Rosko, staging dramatic recreations of some of the original Star Trek's most-loved episodes to an audience of folks who are too hip to have cable.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Blood Covered Wagon

Computers in the 21st century are ubiquitous. They're in absolutely everything. It's not even worth trying to list all the microchips floating around your home, work or vehicle at any given time because they are literally everywhere so let's not even go there, OK? However when that first round of 8-bit personal computers invaded elementary schools in the early 1980s, the vast majority of American households didn't even have a digital watch, let alone a personal computer, so getting to spend even a few minutes of quality time with a Commodore PET or an Apple II at your school was like taking a ride into the future. Hell, for me it was like being frickin' Captain Kirk! Of course, most kids of the time, including myself, were already quite familiar with the 8-bit video games that had long lined the walls of arcades, supermarkets and drug stores, so who could blame us when all we wanted to do with those thousand dollar educational computers is play Pac-Man on them, or maybe blow up some asteroids in outer space or dare to protect the Earth from rapidly advancing waves of bloodthirsty alien invaders?! That's what we hoped for. What we got instead was Oregon Trail (sad trombone). One of the first successful educational games for early personal computers, the Oregon Trail was originally developed in 1974 by the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium to run on timeshared mainframes and was used to teach kids about 19th century pioneer life. In the game, the player was given a fixed amount of funds with which to buy food, supplies, bullets, oxen and the like, and was sent on his or her way in a crappety covered wagon to travel the treacherous trail that tied together Missouri and Oregon. Ho hum. Actually I say ho hum because in addition to the fair amount of luck required to traverse the dodgy path to the West, the other key component to ensuring a winning game was good forethought and strategy, which I suck at. Plus my character nearly always died from dysentery. So blessed be I when a local Retrogeeker reader suggested that I use this forum to introduce to you possibly one of the coolest retro 8-bit-style video games ever to grace your iThing or Android device (you can also play it on Facebook, but really, who wants to do that?) The game is called Organ Trail and comes to us from a small indy developer called The Men Who Wear Many Hats. I like that. Descriptive and a mouthful, just how I like my coffee. Organ Trail plays roughly similar to the game that it's based upon, except that instead of trying to lead a happy pioneer family across our great nation to a land of untold bounty, you're trying to get your party of ne'er do wells to the Pacific Northwest in a station wagon while fending off a full-on zombie apocalypse. Funny, great retro graphics and sound, and even a decent plot. Check out the trailer below and then you should totally go and buy it! I did!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

I Like Ike and Tyler Too!

Before the proliferation of media sound-bites and political viral-videos, our would-be leaders used to lie to us using a much simpler and spunky technology called the "campaign button," first shown off by George Washington at his inauguration in 1789. Oh sure, you still see campaign buttons from time to time, pinned to both militant nationalists and radical revolutionaries, but in this world of internet fireside chats and Twitter-based campaign fund-raising, the quaint art of button-sloganeering has really fallen to the wayside, allowing only the most mundane and politically vague war-cries such as "BELIEVE IN AMERICA" or "HOPE" to occasionally surface. Ugh. Where's the whimsy? The boisterous pride? The lightly-barbed attacks? Whatever happened to slogans like "A used FORD is better than a new CARter" and the anti-McCarthy favorite "Joe Must Go!"  Well we've lost our cojones, I suppose. Mass culture-sanitation, thanks to Facebook. You know everything bad on the internet is Facebook's fault, right? OK, just making sure. So in the spirit of the 2012 election year, I suggest you visit the APIC website, home of the American Political Items Collectors (just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?) for a peek at the information super-highway's most robust collection of resources and information regarding, um, collectible American political items (cue the crickets for about three seconds). Or if you just want to take a look at some awesome old campaign buttons for sale you can visit the site, Older Campaign Buttons (again, an inspiring name). Vote early! Vote often!



Thursday, August 30, 2012

Little Alien Robot Erasers

Little alien robot erasers - just like the ones your teacher used to take away from you in grade school. Or the ones you got from the dentist before they got all high and mighty and started handing out toothbrushes instead. Or the fill in your own joke here. They don't run on batteries, they don't transform, they don't even work as erasers very well, but they're only $8.88 for a bag of twenty-four (what a weird price). Buy 'em for your kids and they'll be the coolest little hipsters on the playground - or drop like 40 or 50 bucks on a few bags, enjoy a couple of bottles of PBR and have yourself an epic little alien robot eraser battle!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Turn Your Phone Into an Arcade

Gaming just got a whole lot itty-bittier with the iCade Jr. from Ion Audio. Just plug in your iPhone or iPod touch and fire up one of the many compatible games from the App Store for a devilishly diminutive retro experience. Featuring a solid arcade-style joystick and eight action buttons (four on the front and four on the back) the iCade Jr. also sports a pass-thru port for use with a USB cable, turning your mini-arcade into the coolest iPhone dock ever. Best of all, it's made to work perfectly with the "Atari's Greatest Hits" app which features 100 classic home and arcade titles from the number one video game maker of the 1980s. But be warned, this little fella costs $69.99, so for 30 bucks more you could pick up its iPad-compatible sibling, the original iCade, instead.

Remember when Noble Roman's didn't suck?

Hint: it was in the 80's.

Before the Indiana-based pizza chain attempted to go national, they were a reputable pizza-monger, known to locals for quality food and a groovy, dimly-lit atmosphere. All locations' windows were covered-over with wood slats to ensure darkness, facilitating movie projection on the walls. Even in the blistering hot midday sun, one could find cool air-conditioned darkness at a Noble Romans. It was too dark in there to see what you were eating. but it tasted good.

Non-hoosiers were introduced to a different face of NoBo's as they expanded into neighboring states–buying up failed Godfather's Pizza locations–and actively competing for the Guinness Book award for least edible, most-nauseating pizza in the known universe. Having eventually achieved that ignoble recognition, they moved on to a "take and bake" business model, and were never frequented again by anyone who likes pizza. Technically they remain in business to this day, but not in a form recognizable to early patrons.

Having mastering profitability without the need for quality product, the innovative pizza chain attempted to do it without employees.

Before they were terrible

A close friend who left Indiana in 1983 randomly asked me about Noble Romans recently. I had to break the news; they no longer existed. We reminisced for a bit about the restaurant's early features:

  • The previously-mentioned dim lighting, ensured by blocked windows
  • A glass window into the kitchen with steps and a small stoop for kids to watch flying hand-tossed dough
  • Doughy, yeasty breadsticks
  • Video game machines, sometimes jukeboxes
  • Candles on the table during evening hours
  • B&W silent films projected on the wall

An original location survived perhaps?

Apparently, I drive past a Noble Romans on my daily commute, its existence barely on the periphery of my consciousness. But after that phone call, something made me glance over as I drove past. I noticed: the windows were covered. The Italian state emblem was on the windows just like the one frequented in my childhood. Could this be a Noble Roman's throwback location? I began my research.

Photo courtesy of Google maps street view.

Reviews of this particular location on Goole Plus Local confirm:

  • A "Dungeon-like interior motif."
  • "Best pizza and breadsticks you can buy."
  • Same owners for the past 29 years. - a good sign

Reviews at Yelp of the same location mention:

  • "The breadsticks are soft, not greasy and covered with butter (a good thing.)"
  • "Deep dish pizza with tomato sauce dolloped all over the place"
  • The same reviewer says: "Nostalgia factor off the charts"
  • "A window into the kitchen were you can watch them make the pizza (there is even a step-up platform so kids can watch.)" ✓!!! We're there!

Gonna find out

Armed with coupons, I'm sending in a crack team of investigative eaters to get the story. Readers of Retrogeeker will get the scoop first. Stay tuned...

Update: A+. In the evening, (of this post,) I convinced the family to give it a try. It felt like nothing had changed since 1986. Each table had its own roll of paper towels. The restaurant layout was the same with the step stool for kids at the glass window into the kitchen, rotating oven, no other windows in the restaurant. No candles (might be a faulty memory) but stained glass Noble Romans lamps over every table. Some old Capcom machines from the early 90's.

Jocelyn & Amelia peering into the kitchen. First time they'd seen hand tossed dough and I was lucky enough to snap a pic at just the right moment.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Mad Ducketts: Converse Mario All Stars

Last year Nintendo, a one-time playing card manufacturer, teamed up with Converse, makers of quality footwear since 1908, to produce a series of Mario Bros-themed Chuck Taylors which include elements of 8-bit art from the 1985 blockbuster video game. The kickin' kicks also feature retro Nintendo fonts on the insoles, special Mario-style stars and even hidden game levels beneath the double-layered ankle panels. Reportedly the shoes sold out the first day that they were released in Japan and have already begun to command ridiculously high prices on the collectors market. If you really want a pair badly enough, head on over to eBay and you can pick up a brand-new sealed pair for only $799. Free shipping, of course.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Ditto On That

Laser printers, photo copiers, who needs 'em? Employed by professional offices all over the world, the Ditto, or spirit duplicator, was where it was at in terms of information reproduction for many, many years, having been introduced by Ditto Inc. in 1910 and used widely well into the 1990s. The print itself was actually pretty terrible and, in fact, tended to fade with prolonged exposure to light, turning the endless rows of pale fluorescent overheads in my grade school into its natural predator. Many of our readers out there probably remember getting handed quizzes and exams that were almost completely unreadable, at which point the teacher would say, "OK, now question number 2 is supposed to read '8 + 3' and question 4 is '10 X 2' and question 7 is..." until you were basically re-writing the entire thing yourself. Of course Dittos had one notable side-benefit that was thought by many kids to be the positive aspect of test-taking: supposedly sniffing the chemical residue left on freshly-minted Ditto sheets would get you rip-roaring high. Check out the video clip from the Cameron Crowe-penned 1981 comedy, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and watch to the very end for an example of the Ditto-sniffing phenomenon in action.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Voice of Vampire Muppet Dies at 78

76...77...78! 78 years is how long Jerry Nelson, voice of Sesame Street's benign blood-sucker, the Count von Count, lived on this planet. He used to scare the crap out of me when I was a kid - the puppet, not the guy - that would be weird. From People magazine:

It's a sad day for numbers.

Jerry Nelson, the puppeteer known for playing the instructional Count von Count on Sesame Street, died Thursday of unspecified causes, according to CBC Radio-Canada. He was 78.

Besides the non-threatening vampire, Nelson, a Tulsa native who grew up in Washington, D.C., also performed Gobo Fraggle on Fraggle Rock and The Muppet Show's Sgt. Floyd Pepper of the Electric Mayhem band; "Pigs in Space" stalwart Dr. Julius Strangepork; Kermit the Frog's nephew Robin; and Gonzo's girlfriend Camilla the Chicken, among other roles, says the site.

He first trained with American puppeteer Bil Baird, who was responsible for the lively "Lonely Goatherd" marionette sequence in the 1965 movie blockbuster The Sound of Music, starring Julie Andrews.

That same year, Nelson worked with Muppet creator Jim Henson on TV's The Jimmy Dean Show, a variety program on which Kermit and the gang first became popular with American audiences.

Nelson's Sesame Street stint began in the '70s, and he continued to be the Count until his retirement in 2004.
Peace Jerry, you old hippie.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Microsoft Mixes It Up...A Little

Today, our beloved old dinosaur, Microsoft, unveiled their first logo redesign in 25 years, taking the familiar multi-colored flag and squaring it off to form more of a, well, window.  It’s one of the many changes the company is making in preparation for the Windows 8 launch, said Jeffrey Meisner, general manager of brand strategy.
“Starting today, you’ll see the new Microsoft logo being used prominently. It will be used on – the 10th most visited website in the world. It is in three of our Microsoft retail stores today (Boston, Seattle’s University Village and Bellevue, Wash.) and will shine brightly in all our stores over the next few months,” Mesiner wrote on the company’s blog.
The new logo is inspired by the company’s brand values, fonts and colors, he explained.
“The symbol is important in a world of digital motion … the symbol’s squares of color are intended to express the company’s diverse portfolio of products.”
The revision comes, Meisner said, ahead of “one of the most significant waves of product launches in Microsoft’s history.”
Frankly, it looks to me like the breeze died down and the old wavy flag logo came to a sudden stop. In light of what Meisner said about "digital motion" I'd say that the new symbol expresses less energy compared to the fanciful designs of Microsoft's past, and since the company has been around since 1975, they are no strangers to logo changes. Check out some of the previous designs that Bill and company had to offer.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Sugar! Sugar! Sugar! Remember back in the day when nearly every damned breakfast cereal had the word "sugar" in the title? Hell, that was basically the keyword on the box that let a kid know that the product was worth buying - of course my parents knew this too and would try to swap out my sugar-bombs for a box of Total or Grape-Nuts when I wasn't looking. Bless them. But at some point in the 90s, the titles on the packages all started to change. Super Sugar Crisp and Sugar Smacks became Super Golden Crisp and Honey Smacks while Sugar Frosted Flakes got castrated to just plain old Frosted Flakes -  I don't think any of the actual ingredients changed, of course, just the names. Well I'm sad to report that the happy-fun adventure-time of breakfast cereal entertainment continues to face the dark, murderous forces of extremist parental groups with the recent axing of the entire General Mills line of monster-branded products which include the lovable Count Chocula, the creepy Frankenberry (which actually turned kids' poop pink when first introduced in 1972) and the bleary-eyed and oft-forgotten Boo-Berry. Well they're not gone entirely, but as of 2010, our favorite old movie-monsters will only appear during the fall/Halloween season in special promotional packages and only for a limited time. Damn this economic freefall we're in! So gather ye rosebuds while ye may and maybe save a couple of boxes of Boo-Berry for me in October. I want to see if it turns my pee blue.