Tuesday, December 31, 2013

No Hangovers in 2014!

Well it's time to flip the calendar again as 2014 is nearly upon us. For my final post of the year, I'm harking back to 1978, the year my family came back to the U.S. and in my opinion, the best year ever next to 1982 (Joust, Q*Bert and Ms.Pac-Man) and maybe 1987 (Star Trek: The Next Generation). The following print ad touting Alka-Selzter's hangover-fighting abilities is from a time when people were much more open about inebriation and intoxication. The children of the 60s had grown up, they were now in power and were continuing to pursue their dreams of, as Austin Powers put it, "having unprotected sex with many anonymous partners, while experimenting with mind expanding drugs in a consequence free environment." Of course then Nancy Reagan and Mr. T came along in the 80s and shut the whole damned party down. So enjoy this little nugget from a simpler time and perhaps you too can avoid the dreaded New Year's Day hangover.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Star Wars on the Small Screen

Star Wars on your TV? No way!
Within the Grand Geekdom of Star Wars, it seems that the producers of said saga have always relished in the scapegoating of the now infamous television one-off, The Star Wars Holiday Special, which has long been regarded as the "red-headed stepchild" of the entire pew-pew franchise. This funky two-hour special was originally broadcast in 1978 and featured musical numbers by Jefferson Starship, comedy skits with Harvey Korman and Bea Arthur, and the public's first introduction to space-opera's greatest bounty hunter and general badass, Boba Fett. But I think it's a bit unfair for Lucas and company to shrug off this classic 70's variety show as if it were their only foray into total goofiness, because I recall more than a few odd appearances by Luke Skywalker and his galactic buddies on the small screen during that quiet period between the first two films, which, although I didn't realize at the time, mostly served to keep the giant Star Wars publicity machine rolling until the next flick was released. After all, you gotta keep selling action figures during down time, right?

So in order to support my ongoing quest to prove that I'm right about everything, I present to you one of my favorite retro moments featuring disco, droids and Jedi in hopes that you'll all come to see that George Lucas has, perhaps, a few more skeletons in his closet than he'd like to admit to. Enjoy.



Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas, If That's OK

Happy Holidays from the Bots
This is one of my favorite TV show Christmas songs. It comes to us from way back in 1993, that's 20 years ago to you and me, and was featured on the obscure geek extravaganza known as MST3000. At the time this video was originally broadcast, cultural awareness and political correctness were quickly becoming the hot topics of the day. This little Xmas ditty hit the nail on the head and actually might be even more relevant today in 2013, when perhaps our collective level of cultural sensitivity has spiralled so far out of control, that everyone on the planet is afraid of saying anything to anyone. The song, entitled Merry Christmas, If That's OK, does contain a positive message of tolerance, although the performers quite obviously have their tongues firmly planted in their cheeks. Happy birthday, Jesus, don't let the bastards get you down.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Nobody Expects the...

…Spanish Inquisition. 

Can a parakeet repeat this famous Monty Python line? Yes. Yes it can. BTW if you're wondering, it's completely real. Odd that they didn't teach it the "parrot sketch" though.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Into the Dragon's Lair

Illustration by TBottch. Stolen from DeviantArt.com - how's THAT for deviancy?
In 1983, as the Great Video Game Crash was looming upon the horizon, ready to crush huge software development houses and well-established corporate brands into digital dust, the gaming industry still had a few tricks up its Coca-Cola shirt sleeve. While kids continued to rabidly stuff quarters into arcade machines all over the country, the availability of increasingly sophisticated home gaming consoles was already chipping away at the coin-op market. This of course wasn't that surprising because after all, who wants to drive all the way out to the mall and drop $5 in quarters on Donkey Kong at the arcade when you could hit "reset" on your Colecovision at home as many times as you liked? So just as the film industry had done by introducing Technicolor and Panavision into theaters to stave off irrelevancy during the post-war television boom, the video game industry began looking into ways to pull kids away from their Ataris and Intellivisions in their living rooms and back into the money-sucking arcades.

Improvements upon graphics and sound had been, up until then, the standard way to attract gamers who were looking for the latest and greatest in what the arcades had to offer, but the computer technology behind most games of the time was already being pushed to its limits. As fate would have it, however, a bright fellow named Rick Dyer, who at the time was the president of Advanced Microcomputer Systems, got the idea to take the basic structure of early computer text adventures and scale it up to accommodate prerecorded audio and photo stills, which would form a sort of visual story in which a player could take part. After several failed attempts at generating investor interest for what he dubbed his "Fantasy Machine," a chance viewing of producer Don Bluth's 1982 animated film, The Secret of NIMH, got him thinking about replacing the static photos with quality, full motion video which, as it turns out, was just what the project needed to get people excited about it. So Rick hired the veteran Disney animator's production company to do the grunt work and on an anemic budget of about a million dollars plus, they produced roughly 22 minutes of animated footage, which could then be played back on standard arcade machine monitors using Pioneer laser-disc players and coordinated by Dyer's "Fantasy Machine" hardware.

In partnership with seasoned coin-op manufacturer, Cinematronics, the first game released to utilize this new laser-disc technology was called Dragon's Lair. It's story revolved around a brave but sometimes reluctant sword and sorcery hero named Dirk Daring, whose purpose it was to explore a dark wizard's castle and battle magical monsters in order to rescue the beautiful Princess Daphne from the clutches of the evil dragon, Singe. As in most video games, the player would interact by using a joystick and button, and had only a limited set of lives with which to complete the game. However unique to the arcade industry at the time, Dragon's Lair cost not just a quarter but a whopping 50¢ to play, which didn't sit well with a lot of gamers. Complaints also surfaced regarding Dragon Lair's gameplay as the pre-rendered video scenes only allowed the player to react to the canned events of the game, which meant that the player could not actually direct character movement or action as in traditional video games like Pac-Man, Galaga, etc.

The initial success of Dragon's Lair did succeed in bringing excited gamers back to the arcades and eventually resulted in a number of sequels, knock-offs and competitors entering the market. But it was a short-lived victory as the Great Crash (known in Japan as Atari Shock) eventually came anyway and obliterated everything in its path, leaving the landscape fresh and clear for a little company called Nintendo to take root and rebuild the video game industry from scratch. But that's a tale for another time.

In the meantime, please enjoy this video which contains all 22 minutes of the original Dragon's Lair footage, as well as about 8 minutes of prototype video, taken from the 2002 laser-disc reproduction of the game.





Monday, December 9, 2013

Little Professor Calc for Android

…with a REAL computer inside!

Before the Speak 'n' Spell, which became an official 80s icon by its inclusion in the movie E.T., there was the Little Professor Calculator that was invented by one-time computing powerhouse, Texas Instruments, in order to finally bring a happier, friendly face to the blood-sucking horror that is modern mathematics. Oh I know that math has brought us countless innovations from toasters that enhance our breakfasts to the latest and greatest supercomputers that spend all day planning military strategies, but let's face it, most kids find it pretty boring. Luckily for rich Western children, TI introduced this educational calculator dressed up as a cartoon professor back in 1976, which was born from the (then) dream that through the use of technology, the human condition could be improved upon and utopia would finally be within mankind's reach. So people started cramming microchips into everything they could get their hands on and now here we are today.
Aside from the kiddy artwork that adorned the casing, the Little Professor was a fairly standard calculator except that it also functioned as a basic quiz game, randomly generating simple equations to which the operator would presumably input the correct answer, resulting in hours and hours of fun and learning. For example: 6 x 9 = ? And the answer is 42. "ERROR!" The Professor would then shame you with stark computer-speak displayed on its LED screen and then give you another chance to enter the correct answer. At the end of a round of questions you got to see your total score which let you know if you were going to be a Humanities student or not.
For those of you old enough to remember this little gem and who perhaps would enjoy sharing childhood memories with your own modern iPad/Netflix electro-children of the 21st century, you can now pick up an app-ified version for your Android device from the Google Play store and (as far as I can tell) it's free. Check out the video demo below and then click the link to visit Google Play and pick it up. Enjoy!


Friday, December 6, 2013

Light Those 8-Bit Candles

OK, so apparently Hanukkah ended yesterday and I was trying to get a related post up before then but dammit, there's just not a lot of retro-Hebronic stuff out there on the net. But I did find a little 8-bit styled interactive candle-lighting diversion that's kind of fun. So I apologize for this belated post but the way I see it "belated" is a just another word for "retro" so I'm in the clear. I'll try and do a little better next year. Now, I'm off to start my search for retro-Kwanzaa stuff on the web. That can't be too tough, right? 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Mad Ducketts: The $500 Pac-Man Watch

My kind of smart watch.
OK, these things don't come up often on eBay and when they do, they're gone PDQ. It's the Nelsonic Pac-Man watch and back in 198-whatever, they were hot, very hot, since the Holy Grail of gaming at that time was to bring Pac-Man into the home, even if he was a three millimeter dot on an LCD screen the size of a postage stamp. Nelsonic, who still exists today but just makes boring old regular watches (boo!) produced two different models of the highly coveted Pac-Man watch - one with the tiniest little joystick you've ever seen, and another that employed basic directional buttons instead - apparently the tiny joystick was too easily lost or broken for them to keep producing. 30 years later, Nelsonic's game watches are just as hot as they were when they were new (albeit in a much smaller market) and right now there's one on eBay that hails from the U.K., so I guess you wear it on your other wrist. The starting bid for this electronic bad boy? Just £299.99. That's about $500 to us Yanks, and there's three days left on the auction so I'm pretty sure the price will go up from there. Check out the video below to see a demo of someone else's awesome watch and then click the link to drop some mad ducketts on my Christmas present…and please include a gift receipt if you can. Thanks!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The 8-Bits of Christmas

…and a cartridge in a pear tree.

Tired of hearing the same old Christmas music, year after year? Me too! So I went to the website, 8bitpeoples.com, and downloaded an all-star chip tune artist album, The 8bits of Christmas, absolutely free! Now you too can enjoy soon-to-be classic holiday songs like Jesus Holy, Born So Lowly, Last Christmas Hot Digi Rmx and The First Blip Blop Noel (sample video below) all played on retro game and computing gear including an NES, a ZX-Spectrum and even a Commodore Vic-20. You can preview the individual tracks or download the entire thing from 8bitpeoples' site. Cover art included.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

BetaMaXmas 2013

Disturbingly representative of my childhood
Here it is, December of 2013 and so far, where I live, it's been a pretty mild winter with almost zero precipitation. But back when I was a little kid in Wisconsin, my family were afforded no such meteorological reprieves. We may just as well have been living at the North Pole for all the snow, ice and sleet we had to endure, and that was just in the springtime. So after a typical day of trudging through knee-deep snow in my moon-boots trying to keep the snot from freezing up in my nose, I would find that there was no better way to warm back up than to snag one of the less creaky spots on our old pull-out sofa in the basement and zone out in front of a toasty Zenith while I crawled under Grandma's old quilt and watched and waited for that little kid to get his tongue stuck on the pole in A Christmas Story. And if I was extra lucky, mom would let me eat dinner right there in front of the TV -- it's the little things in life, you know?
It's now a whole bunch of years later, but I still miss that shabby little basement with the faux wood panelling and the Suzanne Somers poster hanging next to the baseball-themed dartboard. I miss all three static-filled channels that endlessly streamed the same holiday drivel every year until we'd all had our fill of Alf, He-Man and Smurfs Christmas Specials. And I miss the TV Guide, dammit.
So as fate would have it, a few years ago I discovered a way to relive those warm and fuzzy memories without having to steal a Tardis and, even better, without having to go back to Wisconsin.
The site is called BetaMaXmas.com and basically it's a virtual recreation of the childhood memory I just described, lo-fi and complete with wood paneling. Upon entering the site, you'll be greeted with a couch and an old TV that loops 80s commercials and holiday specials from YouTube ad infinitum. Appropriately, the boob-tube sits atop an 8-Track player and Betamax machine whose clock keeps flashing 12:00. The experience is pretty complete: Don't like the channel? Use the clicker. Too much snow on the screen? Adjust the rabbit ears. Wanna know what else is on? Check out the TV Guide (if anyone under 35 is reading this, their head is probably exploding right now).
Over time, BetaMaXmas become a regular tradition for me and nowadays we turn it on around the Holidays and leave it running for hours at a time. And now that I have kids, I've found that it serves as an excellent historical pop-culture tool I can use to teach them about the time-honored tradition of commercializing Christmas, retro-style.


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Hobbit Your Way

Harry Potter
With part two of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit trilogy on its way into theaters next month, I got to thinking about my first exposure to J.R.R. Tolkien's fantastical world of magic and mystery via the small screen way back in 1977. The works of TV moguls Rankin and Bass had already been familiar to me as a child and each holiday season I eagerly looked forward to their stop motion and cartoon productions of Rudolph, Frosty and, you know, that one with the Heat Miser. But it was one of their animated tales, that seemed for the first time to not be based upon anything I had already heard about in story or song, that really made an impression on me. So instead of the usual stories about what might happen if Christmas never came or how elves all really wanted to be orthopedic surgeons, that particular Sunday in November of '77 I sat and watched a mezmerizing tale of wizards and halflings, dwarves and goblins and of course, dungeons and dragons (or perhaps more accurately, tunnels and trolls) and it was pure awesome. The artwork, while a bit clunky by today's standards, had a warm and funky 70s watercolor style I hadn't ever witnessed before in the works of Mr. Disney or Messieurs Hanna and Barbera. The music and sound production, too, were on the quirky side of odd and the whole thing seemed to reek of a production company being forced to work under a tighter budget than was probably required (although in actuality they spent about $3,000,000 but I'm guessing most of that went to the voice talent and licensing the story). Due at least in part to the fact that there were only three channels available on television at the time, the show became an instant hit, not only with kids but it also gained some critical acclaim when it nearly beat out Star Wars for a Hugo sci-fi/fantasy award (the fact that it lost to Lucas' highly derivative saga is ironic in too many ways to count!) So while I enjoyed Peter Jackson's adaptation of the first part of The Hobbit (Martin Freeman blows Elijah Wood out of the water, whilst Sean Astin just blows Elijah - sorry, had to go there) I think the Rankin/Bass production still holds up well, especially within the context of being a children's film, and deserves to be celebrated along with all of the various incarnations of Tolkien's tales of Middle-Earth. So if you haven't seen it before, and especially if you plan on going to see The Desolation of Smaug in December, grab your cloak and pipe and check out the video below for a look at the original 1977 Rankin/Bass production of The Hobbit. Enjoy. Sorry about the French subtitles - unless of course you only speak French, in which case Je vous en prie.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Old Robots

White, white robots, for white, white families.

One of the great promises of my generation and, in fact, of all generations since the advent of mechanical labor, was the promise of futuristic robot armies that would cater to our every desire and unleash electric death upon our enemies while we slowly turned into those people from WALL-E. And while that promise has yet to to be fulfilled, we've come a long toward that goal, although most of mankind's recent attempts at building mechanical cohorts for ourselves have been skewed towards producing Asian sex robots. Call me a xenophobe, but I like my artificial lifeforms to look, well, artificial. Let's face it, would we all have gone gaga over R2-D2 back in '77 if he'd looked like Tia Carrere? Well, maybe that's a bad example. Regardless, when I'm talking about robots I mean beep beep boop bop robots covered in knobs, buttons, lights and other little fiddly bits, you know? And the folks at TheOldRobots.com agree with me. From goofy little squirts that barely function to great big articulated automatons, this site has them all. Check out the videos below for a couple of choice cuts from their collection.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

8-Bit Violin

Sounds like two 8-bit weasels having sex.

For all of you classical geeks out there, check out this working 8-bit-styled violin made by Flickr user, Ranjit. It doesn't play chip tune music or have a MIDI port, it's an honest to goodness, completely functional violin. And by completely functional I mean it technically works as it should, however the ear-piercing, mind-numbing noise it produces needs some fine tuning. Check out the video.


Friday, November 22, 2013

Tiny Games

Pew! Pew! But tiny.

Don't have the cash or space to add a full-sized arcade machine to your retro-gaming collection? Sure, we all do! These pint-sized and portable video games from BasicFun, makers of the ViewMaster and Bop-It, not only fit in your pocket, but fit your budget as well. You can pick one of these up for as low as $7.99 so they make great little stocking stuffers. Choose from Tetris, Space Invaders, Centipede or Breakout. They used to make a Frogger edition as well, but you'll have to check eBay or your local Target's bargain bin if you want that one, sorry.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Groovy Magic

It's Thursday and that means it's time for a Doug Henning video. Yes Doug Henning, the greatest Canadian magician that ever lived in the 1970s. You can forget about Criss Angel and that masked dude with all their modern "dark and brooding" Batman shit shtuff they got going on. I'm talking roller-skates, rainbows and cheesy mustaches, man. I'm talking the 70s! Dig it and be groovy!!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Video games of the late 70's: an 8-minute retro visitation

Retro-gaming pundits frequently refer to the "Great Video Game Crash of '83." But rarely do they mention the "Great Video Game Frenzy of '79" - the furious wind-up that propelled us deliriously through the heyday of '80-'83, and made the prospect of a "crash" a possibility in the first place.

In 1979, the shorthand word arcade changed its meaning from "pinball arcade" to "video arcade" as operators swapped their assortment of coin-eaters from majority pin to majority video. The affordable microprocessor began to change coin-op gaming dramatically.

Take a quick look at the field of game releases in the late 70's. As flocks of new developers and players entered the arena for a piece of the action, many uninspired copies emerged as new developers got their footing. But some innovative standouts foretold the sensation to come. Amidst the generic gunslinger games and near identical driving clones you'll see a few inspired standouts that led to the defining classics of the early 80's: Berzerk, PacMan, Galaga, etc.

While baby-boomers raised their young children, teenagers with names like Cynthia, Dennis, Debbie, and Roger went cruising and played games that looked like this.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Starcade on the Web

"And the question is "what is Pong?" Alex"
Hey, remember the 80s? No? Well let me tell you all about them. There was Reaganomics, John Hughes, a little kid trapped in a well, Def Leppard and of course, video games. Notice I didn't say internet? And that sad fact right there is what made us 80s kids get up off of our lazy butts, stand up on our own two feet with pride and conviction, and walk over to the TV to turn it on and leave it on. And what did we watch on our Zeniths and Sanyos? Shows about video games, of course! And the best video game show of all (that was tragically cut short by a dramatic drop-off in interest fueled in no small part by the Video Game Crash of 1983) was a game show called Starcade. On Starcade, contestants we're challenged with topical video game trivia questions and got to play the hottest, newest video arcade machines of the time in order to win thousands of dollars in fabulous prizes! Aside from the Price is Right and maybe Family Feud, it was the only game show I cared about. And now, you can too. So quit trying to catch up on Breaking Bad and click/tap/lick the link below to head on over to Starcade.tv where you can feast upon over 60 classic episodes of this 80s retro sweetness!


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Play Classic Nintendo Games on Your iOS Device for Free

You got an iPhone or iPad? You want to play Nintendo games on it but you don't want to jailbreak your phone to do it? Well it's easier and quicker than you might think. Pull this post up on your iThing of choice and follow these simple instructions:

1. Open SETTINGS app and go to GENERAL
2. Tap on DATE & TIME
4. Change the date to anything in 2012 (your Messages and data services will be disabled for a minute)
5. Tap HERE to go to the page to download the free GBA4IOS app
6. On the page tap the drop down and choose GBA4IOS and then tap INSTALL
7. Important: BEFORE you change back your dat & time setting, OPEN the GBA4IOS app and leave it up and running
8. Go back to SETTINGS app and toggle on SET AUTOMATICALLY to restore the date & time - your data services will be restored

That's it, the app has now been installed on your non-jailbroken device without going though the App Store! Crazy! Now, you'll need to download some game roms for your GameBoy emulator app but it's way easy too:

1. Your GBA4IOS app should still be open from before so go to it
2. Tap on the magnifying glass button at the top right of the app's screen
3. Tapping the button opens Safari and pulls up a web search with game rom sites, tap the first link
4. You'll be taken to a mobile site where you can download all the game roms you want - woo!
5. Pick a game and tap DOWNLOAD NOW which pops open a box asking you which app you want to open the download with, choose OPEN IN and then choose GBA4IOS
6. Wait a few seconds and you'll be taken back to the GBA4IOS app and your download should appear in the rom list

That's it, just tap on your rom and start playing!

I know it looks like a lot of steps, but honestly it took be about 2 minutes to complete, and it's worth it!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Whatever Happened to Mikey?

Future consumer being molded

Hey, whatever happened to that kid Mikey? You know the one from those Life cereal commercials back in the 70s? Didn't he mix Pop Rocks and Coke and then die from internal hemorrhaging? Or was it that he got drafted and sent to Vietnam where he was blown apart while loading mortars? I like to think it was the latter. Somehow imagining little Mikey out there dressed in his combat fatigues and taking on the Viet Cong in defense of freedom and democracy with single-serving boxes of Life cereal hanging from his pack makes me proud. Man does it get more American than that? I don't think so. But as for Mikey, his eventual fate was not nearly as exciting as the crazy adventures the public had dreamed up for him. Turns out he was just this guy:

A businessman
His name is John Gilchrist and after having acted in over 250 commercials over the years, and spending some time at ESPN, he now works as an advertising director for MSG networks. Yawn. He never exploded or fought in a war, but his infamous commercial ran for over 12 years, the longest for any TV commercial campaign, and thus the image of this goofy little kid with his freckles and chubby cheeks was burned into the brains Generation X'ers for life. No pun intended. Here's the original commercial:

John poses for a group of urban legend enthusiasts next to an autographed box

And just to demonstrate the lasting legacy of this 70s nugget of awesome, here's a parody of the commercial from the Jacksons 1976 variety show (nearly four years after the original first aired) starring a kid that did eat too much of something and died, although in his case it was propofol and benzodiazepine, both of which are safe to consume in tandem with soft drinks. Still too soon? Sorry.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Retro Cosplay Day

Hey everybody, can you name one thing better than than cute cosplay girls? That's right! Cute RETRO cosplay girls! Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

When Pac-Man Ruled the World

There was a time long ago when video game characters didn't have much character at all. For example in 1972's Pong, your "player" was simply a vertical white line on the edge of the screen while Atari's 1979 home console RPG hit, Adventure, boasted a nameless square as its protagonist. Designers who attempted to push beyond the limits of those early 2K programs did manage to create somewhat more recognizable objects such as blocky race cars or simple aliens, but nothing you would really call a "character." Well that all changed with the release of Namco's Pac-Man in 1980. For the first time, players could identify with a personality on their video game screen, including 4 unique ghosts/monsters that each had their own agenda and personal eccentricities. People everywhere immediately embraced Pac-Man, not just for its easy-to-learn/difficult-to-master gameplay but because they were endeared by the game's cast of characters. Other game designers quickly caught onto this new cartoony angle and steered it into a trend, introducing games with higher resolution graphics and more recognizable characters such as Q*Bert, Donkey Kong and of course, our beloved little Frogger. This jump from the abstract to the well-defined is also what helped launch Pac-Man into the world of mass-merchandising. Before his introduction, few kids would have been interested in a breakfast cereal based on Breakout but slap a picture of that little yellow dude and his colorful ghosty friends on a box and watch them fly off of the shelves. Soon enough, Pac-Man merchandise was everywhere: t-shirts, pajamas, watches, board games, drinking glasses, coin banks, stickers, hit songs, multi-vitamins, scratch-and-win games, TV shows...you get the idea. The world had literally changed overnight with the advent of Pac-Man at which point video games began their slow journey toward mainstream acceptance, which would eventually lead to iconic game characters like Mario, Chun-Li and even Master Chief making their particular marks on gaming history. Still not convinced? Then check out the videos to get some idea of just how Pac-Man-crazy the world was back in the stone-age. Save me a cherry.


Monday, November 4, 2013

Doctor Whoa That's Awesome!

Timey-Wimey Stuff.
There was a time when Doctor Who was considered really, really geeky, and there was even a time when it was considered really, really retro. However with the rebirth of the series in 2005 and its subsequent re-tailoring for the mainstream market, this has all sort of been thrown out the window as Doctor Who is now, in fact, one of the hipper shows you can watch on television today. As you may or may not know, Doctor's main mode of travel throughout the series is a time-travelling British police call-box called the TARDIS, that, because of some crazy sci fi reason, is actually larger on the inside than it is on the outside. Physically impossible you say? Check out this video from super fan, Greg Kumparak, who proves that nothing, not even a good grounded sense of reality, is a match for computer magic. Ok, well not really magic but augmented reality which when I was a kid, meant you wore glasses. Dig the awesomeness of the larger-than-life, yet smaller than a bread box, TARDIS. If you want to skip the intro, jump to 1:11 of the video.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Highlander Remake on the Way

Can't possibly fail.
Yup, it's happening. With last year's stinker remake of Paul Verhoeven's classic, Total Recall, still fresh in the nostrils of indifferent scifi fans everywhere, Hollywood has decided to reach back to the 80s once more to completely and utterly destroy anything good that came out of that decade. That is to say, they're remaking the Highlander...

...I pause for a long, long sigh as a look of saddened defeat takes over my face. I'm not even going to go into all the different ways that the mere thought of a Highlander remake offends every facet of my being, so I'm going to adopt a more positive, gee-whiz attitude about it. Let's start over ok?


Hold on to your hats cats and kitties cuz the baddest-assed, sword-swingingest, head-choppingist scifi-fantasy flick of 1986 is coming back with a vengeance! It's real and it's happening! Apparently, Summit Entertainment (you've heard of them right?) has snagged director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan to helm the flick that director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (28 Weeks Later) dropped out of back in 2012. And word has it that Ryan Reynolds, who never, ever sucks worse than putting a red-hot, ant-covered knitting needle into your eyeball, has been tapped for the lead. This is going to be huge! And while the classically awesome rock-band Queen probably won't be on hand to provide the soundtrack again, due to the death of singer Freddie Mercury, I'm sure the producers will find someone to take the musical helm who is WAY better and more up to the task. Probably Seether. Anyway, stay tuned for more awesome news about a movie that totally deserves to exist! Until this sure-to-be-fantastic remake is thrust upon us, take a peek at the trailer for Russell Mulcahy's original epic adventure starring Christopher Lambert: a Frenchman doing a Scottish accent. Enjoy! (but not too much, cuz the new movie's gonna be SO much better! How could it NOT be??!!)

Friday, November 1, 2013

Retro Halloween Dance Party

The candy procurement ritual is postponed in my area due to inclement weather, so I've plenty of time to jam retro.

Ministry | Everyday is Halloween

First up: Ministry - a trendy poseur band that all the kewl kids dug, singing about how they dress goth every day of the year. Whoop-dee-doo. But scary good à propos video, which seems to be repurposed footage from the Nightmare Before Xmas.

Oingo Boingo | Dead Man's Party

Classic Oingo Boingo from an era when Carrot Top sang lead.

Fun random fact: In 1985, by decree of the big 3 record labels, all snare drums in the Top 40 were replaced with this monotonous, patented, profit-maximizing snare sample. The Genero-snare 3500™ was installed in radio stations across the country, automatically replacing snares on the fly for bands who refused to comply.

Dead Kennedy's | Halloween (live)

Jello Biafra indicts conformity using Halloween—the one day of the year it's acceptable to express oneself freely without fear of ridicule.

Lyric sample:
"Remember what I did?
Remember what I was?
Back on Halloween!

But what's in between?
Where are you ideas?
You sit around and dream...
For next Halloween!

Whodini | Haunted House of Rock

The first Whodini song I ever heard, played on a mix-tape by cool older kid, Freshman James Carr. His comment: "This kicks Thriller's ass."

Do they know it's Halloween?

Not strictly retro, but this one's a clear homage to to Band Aid's 1984 "Do they know it's Christmas" - a song that urged listeners to "Thank god it's them instead of you."

Flashback Fun! Fundraising singles featuring gangs of pop superstars became a hot trend in the mid-80's. By all accounts, these projects fulfilled many needs, including alleviating trace feelings of guilt in over-privileged, excessively-rich rock stars. Count up the benefits:

  • Rock's biggest superstars get a much-needed ego boost
  • Child laborers in Angola get a care package in the middle of their 16-hour shift and
  • you get an unforgettable rock experience.

Everyone wins!

For a deeper exploration into the 1980's charity rock phenomenon, see: We are the World, Band Aid, Farm Aid, Live Aid, Sun City, and Canada's failed attempt to find native superstars, "Tears are not Enough."

For similarly-pukeworthy arrogance, see Sting's: I hope the Russians love their children too. It's gross. It really happened.

Alkaline Trio | Over at the Frankenstein Place

Because covering anything from RHPS is cool.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!


I've got to take the kids out begging for candy and have no time to be dashingly clever today, so please enjoy this short, poor-quality video. It's a live rendition of the Misfits classic, Halloween, from 1983 along with the bonus song, Bullet. Heading up the mic is a very young Glenn Danzig not singing about your mother. Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Off the Rack

Electronic Games - Nov. '83 - Porn Not Included
Back when we were teens, my best friend and I used to sneak into my big brother's room when he wasn't around and rummage though his smutty magazines, mostly Playboy and Penthouse because those were considered classy (he even had the one with Vanessa Williams)! Of course being the crafty kids that we were, we knew we had to somehow disguise our fap-mags in case my mother happened to wake up from her out-of-sight-out-of-mindedness and stopped to ask us what nefarious schemes we were up to. The easiest trick, of course and known to all kids everywhere, was to slip another, more benign magazine's cover over the skin-rags thereby camouflaging them from prying judgemental eyes. There were quite a few varieties around to choose from as magazines were plentiful and still roamed the land in great herds - you see it was the 80s and there was nothing else to do but read by candlelight or play Trivial Pursuit. But just any old magazine wouldn't do since something like People or Newsweek was still likely to be picked up by an unsuspecting adult for his or her personal perusal, at which point, the proverbial jig would be up and we'd be sent to Catholic school as punishment. Luckily, I had one magazine on hand that always drove grown-ups away en masse and caused panic-sweats in the technologically shy. The magazine was called Electronic Games (not to be confused with the later publication, Electronic Gaming Monthly) and it was the perfect prop for our playmate purposes. It was an easy matter to pop the binding and slip that cover with some dork playing Space Invaders over the image of whatever scantily clad young lady that was being featured in that month's Playboy and thus grant us safety from any inquiring elders. We used this little trick for years and eventually, the name "Electronic Games" became synonymous to me and my friends with bare naked ladies sporting staples across their bellies. Ah, the salad days. Years later karma would get the best of me when I'd discovered that my mother had recklessly thrown away my entire collection of tech mags, which I was quite fond of. I'm still bummed about that.

Electronic Games magazine was created in 1981 by the publishers of Video Magazine, Bill Kunkel and Arnie Katz, just when the first video game boom was beginning the America. As the first monthly periodical to feature video and computer games as its central topic, Electronic Games quickly became the de facto standard for stats, reviews and exclusive announcements until the end of its run in 1994. Thankfully, the wonderful and increasingly-relevant Internet Archive now hosts nearly the entire collection of issues and has made it available to anyone who'd like to relive the early years of video game publications. Want to find out which home gaming platform had the best version of Pole Position, Joust or Mr.Do? Well then put your time-travel helmet on and click the link…


Friday, October 25, 2013

8-Bit Tattoo Roundup Numero Dos

Well it's that time again and I've got a whole new batch of 8-bit/gamer tattoos for you to enjoy. Check 'em out, maybe you'll get inspired! Have a good weekend and I'll see you Monday!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

An Even Longer Time Ago...

Back in 1974, a young George Lucas, who was still feeling the high from his Best Director nomination for 1973's American Graffiti, had just completed his first draft of a film about space knights and starships called The Star Wars. You know how the story goes, Kane Starkiller and his sons Deak and Annikin all live on the fourth moon of Utapau but after a Sith Knight attack, they escape their self-imposed exile and return to their home world of Aquilae where the wise King Kayos and Queen Breha rule the galaxy. OK so that's not the Star Wars most people know, but it is the story featured in Lucas' first draft of what would eventually become Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, which we all know is really just called Star Wars. In fact, if you refer to the original trilogy by their correct titles, Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, thereby excising the Roman numerals, you can then neatly ignore the F**KING AWFUL prequel series and you're back to just episodes one, two and three. No Jar Jar...no J.J...just the classics. Wow, sorry for the rant. So anyway, Dark Horse Comics, known for having produced the Alien Vs. Predator series, which also lead to two F**KING AWFUL movies, just released the first comic books, sorry graphic novels, from their adaptation of the 1974 Star Wars rough draft. I've read the first book already and the differences are notable. It's an interesting story with a lot more talky talky than the original trilogy. In fact, it sort of resembles the prequels and…crap. Oh well, I'm enjoying it so far. Check out the video I lifted from an NBC affiliate, it explains everything nicely from the point of view of people who don't know jack about what they're reporting on.